« PoprzedniaDalej »
past, and preserve me from future crimes. I sometimes think I am mad, and almost wish I were; for any physical suffering or debasement would be preferable to the fearful state of mind in which I exist.
Lord Annandale's letters inflict a bitter
pang. When he praises the delicacy of my conduct towards my guilty friend, as he unjustly styles poor Augusta, contrasting it with that of the Comtesse Hohenlinden's, and the other ladies of her coterie, which has disgusted him, think what I must what I do feel! Were he to know the truth, how would he loathe and spurn ,me! for he is only weak, and not malignant, and fully believes the culpability of his wife, or never would he have denounced her. Should he not live to discover her innocence in this world, there is another, where all secrets stand revealed ; and there she will appear pure as angels, while I - oh,
God! I dare not contemplate this dreadful
My head is so confused, that I know not
whether I told you that, at the inquest after the tragical death of my aunt, the person keeping the alehouse, where that monster took up his abode, came forward and stated, that for two days before the murder, a foreigner, of most suspicious appearance, had lodged at his house. That, on the day of his arrival, he had sent me a letter, which they supposed to be a petition ; and that, during the day, he had loitered in the immediate vicinity of the park. That, on the night of the murder, however, he had not left the house, having retired to bed early, and only departed at seven o'clock the next morning.
How well do I recollect his telling me that, fearing to excite suspicion, he had fastened his door on the inside, and quitted the chamber
by the window! It is harrowing to my feelings to hear my femme de chambre recount the belief entertained by the whole household and neighbourhood, of the guilt of poor Davenant, the steward; an old and faithful servant, who stood peculiarly high in the esteem of his mistress. What adds to the appearances against him is, that on him was found a pocket-book, known to be purchased by my unhappy aunt but a few days before, and containing a hundred pound bank-note, with a pearl hoop-ring, recognised to be hers, and known by her attendant to have been in her possession the morning previous to her death.
He declares that these articles were given to him by my aunt. His daughter being on the point of marriage, his mistress presented him with a hundred pounds to add to her nuptial portion, and a ring for the intended bride.
All this he has protested, and all this I too well know to be true; for my aunt named the gifts to me, with many commendations on his zeal and integrity in her service, when we were at coffee, the last evening of her life. But if I state this fact, may not suspicion fall on some one equally innocent? I know not which way to turn, nor what to resolve; bat I sicken with horror at thinking that a second life may be the victim to the fatal position in which I find myself. Another circumstance that tells against this poor man is, that a considerable increase to the bequest already made him in my aunt's will was added in the codicil that terrible night. His unfortunate family are overwhelmed with despair: they alone believe him innocent; but those who have known and
esteemed him for years, have already pronounced him guilty, and execrated his ingratitude and villany.
How awful, how inscrutable, are the ways
of Providence! While this innocent man is
in a prison, awaiting, perhaps, an ignominious death, the real criminal is wandering at liberty with his ill-acquired wealth! Does not all this seeming anomaly prore a future state of reward and punishment? Too surely it does ; and dreadful will be the condition of those in
that life, who escape their punishment in this!
Would that I had the certainty that the assassin was out of England ; for, much as I loathe him, and desire that his atrocious crime should meet a condign retribution, I tremble at the idea of his being arrested in this country, as I am convinced that he would not hesitate to compromise my honour, if not my safety, by denouncing me in some way or other. Think of the horror, the degradation, of knowing that one's safety depends on such a wretch ! Oh! it is too, too dreadful !