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exists, and must not despair, though the person who entertains it should continue to repress external symptoms of it.
This letter is signed, “ A Friend," and must, I am sure, come from Miss Montressor. Who else knows or suspects my feelings? And yet what could be the motive of such a communication? I am all bewildered! I will call on Lord and Lady Vernon ; perhaps they may be able to throw some light on the rejection of my visit at Annandale House.
I found Lord and Lady Vernon in their library, both greatly agitated, and the latter in tears.
“ Look here,” said Lord Vernon, handing me a letter; " this is the fac-simile of one addressed also to my wife. It is anonymous, and contains the most vile and infamous charges against the honour of our child. Yours, also, is assailed ; but we know you too well, my dear lord, brief as has been the term of our friendship, to doubt your honour, any more than we do that of our idolised Augusta, on the faith of whose virtue we would risk our lives. But to have that
virtue questioned, and her name thus profaned, is indeed a severe blow."
So saying, he pointed to a pile of newspapers, in which, he said, the most indelicate references were openly made to a supposed attachment between Lady Annandale and myself. Now was it that all the guilty imprudence of my conduct, in so frequently attending Lady Annandale in public, and visiting her daily, appeared in its true light, while I perused the disgusting attacks to which my selfish folly had exposed her; and beheld the sharie and sorrow it had inflicted on her excellent parents. I, who knew the world, ought to have foreseen that such must be the result;
but, criminal as I was, I closed my eyes on the danger to which my attentions subjected her; and have, consequently, been the means of having that honour impugned which I would have risked my life a thousand times to defend.
I stood shocked and abashed before Lord
and Lady Vernon ; for, though free from even a guilty thought with regard to their daughter, my conduct had all the semblance of guilt. The innumerable liaisons between parties of my acquaintance, of whose culpability no doubt exists, were all characterised by conduct similar to mine ; so that I had injured the reputation of this pure-minded and innocent woman to the utmost extent, by the selfish indulgence of seeking her society in a manner that must have impressed a belief of impropriety on the minds of all who had opportunities of observing it.
“ If Augusta should become aware of these vile rumours,” said Lady Vernon, “ the consequences would be dreadful indeed; her pride and delicacy would be mortally wounded. Oh, my poor, dear, innocent child! in whose pure imagination, a belief, even of the guilt of which she is openly accused, never could find a place against one of her own sex, and to be thus profaned in the eyes of the public!"
Here a paroxysm of tears interrupted the mother; and, as I beheld them chase each other down that venerable, and hitherto calm
countenance, where shame had never before
brought a blush, I execrated myself.
A note was now delivered to Lady Vernon, and another to her husband. The father reddened to his very brow as he perused it, and anger flashed from his eyes.
“He shall answer for it!” said he, throwing the letter on the table; but at this moment
Lady Vernon dropped, fainting, from her chair,
and we both ran to assist her. She soon re
vived ; and, pointing to the letter, begged that the carriage might be immediately ordered.
“ We must go for our poor child,” said she, turning to Lord Vernon with a look of unutterable anguish; " the house of Lord Annandale is no longer a befitting abode for her.”
“ Read these,” said Lord Vernon, laying down the note to his wife, and handing both to me. “ I will not, Lord Nottingham, so far insult the purity of my injured daughter as to imagine that blame can attach to her; but, with her youth and inexperience, she may, through ignorance of that world into which she was too early thrown, have been neglectful of the appearances which, in the tainted atmosphere of London, are more studied than the reality of virtue. But you, my lord, who knew the danger, surely you have not been so culpable, so cruel towards my daugh