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order to take her place, any one had told me that I should ever entertain the affection for Lord Annandale which I now feel, I should have smiled in derision at the seeming improbability. Yet I do love him — not, it is true, with the wild and enthusiastic passion of early youth, but with a tenderness and a gratitude which continued kindness could alone excite. This new-born sentiment adds to my misery, by making me tremble at the possibility of the loss of his-a misfortune inevitable, should he discover my crimes.
A letter from Paris, but the superscription is not in your hand, so I shall let it remain unopened for the present.
Hark! I hear some one coming; it must be - it is, my dear, my kind husband.
LA MARQUISE DE VILLEROI TO THE
COUNTESS OF ANNANDALE.
PLAIGNEZ moi, ma chère Caroline, car je suis la plus malheureuse de femmes. Deceived by him I trusted, by him for whom I incurred my mother's lasting displeasure and my own reproach. I am wretched, and I know not where to turn for consolation.
I told you in my last that I had written to the duc, to inform him of the disagreeable dilemma in which I am placed, and to state my intention of seeking an asylum at the Comtesse de Hauteforte's. When Lisette returned from his hotel, I perceived an expression of mingled anger and grief in her countenance, that I fancied boded me no good ; and when I tore open the letter, alas! my fears were but too well confirmed. His mode of address
ing me was so constrained, so cold and ceremonious, that I had not perused three lines of his note before I felt convinced he no
longer loved me. I questioned Lisette as to the cause of her changed aspect; dreading, yet impatient to learn, if it had any reference to the duc, or if she could explain the cause of his estrangement. My reiterated commands to tell me all she knew, drew from her the confession that François, the valet de chambre of the duc, who had long since promised her marriage, had treated her with the utmost coldness and disdain. The poor creature wept bitterly while she related her lover's cruelty. He had told her that the duc had commanded
him to break off his attachment to mademoiselle
Lisette, and to transfer it to the femme de chambre of the lady with whom he, the duc, is at present in love. Think, chère Caroline, what I felt at hearing this! The blood receded from my tortured heart, and rushed to my brain, which has ever since throbbed with agony.
“ I told François, madame la marquise,” resumed Lisette, “ that if monsieur le duc was faithless, that was no excuse for his being so, and reminded him of all the promises he had made me; but, would madame la marquise believe it, the perfidious François said, that he must obey his master's orders; and added, that he had only offered his vows to me because the duc commanded him, it being the general usage for the valet de chambre to form an attachment to the femme de chambre of the lady preferred by his master.”
How was my pride and delicacy wounded by this speech of the weeping Lisette! I really felt ashamed to meet her
eye. “ Ah! madame la marquise," sobbed she, nous sommes bien à plaindre, car nous sommes toutes les deux trompées ; vous, par le maître; et
le valet. Ah! les hommes, les hommes ! ils sont tous de même, et nous sommes toujours leurs dupes! I endeavoured, but, alas ! in vain, madame, to discover who the lady is to whom monsieur le duc is at present attached, in order that I might know who my rival is, but ce perfide François refused to give me the slightest clue. Ah! le vilain homme, comme il m'a trompé !”
Who can it be that has seduced the
faithless duc from his allegiance? Yes, it is, it must be, the Duchesse de Harfleur. I now remember he used to praise her beauty; and I, fool that I was, joined in his admiration. Again I have perused his letter. He advises me to leave no means untried in order to effect a reconciliation with ma tante, and on no account to seek an asylum with the Comtesse de Hauteforte. He never liked her, or approved of my friendship for her; but what