Page images
PDF
EPUB

you at the altar; think Herbert, what must have been my feelings, yet I played my part nobly, though when I returned home, and glanced at myself in the glass, I was shocked at the rigid despair of my expression ; but you were too happy to note that, and then when the carriage drove from the door, even now I shudder at the recollection" — here Jessy ceased abruptly and gave way to a flood of tears, the first she had shed since her dreadful crime-at length she resumed, “even your dear, kind mother, never perceived my grief, so carefully did I conceal it within my heart, and at last, actuated by feelings of a contradictory nature, and deeming it impossible to live under the same roof with you and your happy bride, on your return from the Continent, I- "here she paused, and her breath failed her, and she gasped convulsively, at length, by a desperate effort she articulated, I married Bently, and from that hour I have been doubly wretched.”

“ Do not be angry with me, dear Herbert, when I tell you that I have discovered your

secret, I have seen your love for Teresa St. Jobn, the noblest and best of women. I have also marked your struggles to subdue your unhappy passion, but remember my last words, for this is our last interview in this world or the next, and fly from her; flight is the only sure remedy against such feelings as yours, therefore, promise me, Sedley, that you will leave the vicinity of Teresa.” “ I had determined on so doing before you spoke," replied Sedley in extreme emotion, but talk of yourself, dear Jessy, and explain to me your present appearance.”

Jessy proceeded in an altered voice,-“ Last night you may remeniber my singing, and when I had finished and looked at you, I fancied I read in your eyes, the affection I had so ardently coveted, I cannot explain to you what were my feelings, for I believe I was not quite right in my brain even then, and during my drive home, fiends whispered their dreadful suggestions in my ear, and told me I might yet be happy. Oh, the horrors of that drive, my brain whirled, and my blood felt like fire in my veins, and I was entirely under the dominion of some evil spirit ; we reached home at last and he went to rest,

and I"

Here she paused, and Sedley's blood turned cold at the sight of her horrible expression, and the working of her features; at length, rising from her chair, and bending down to Sedley's ear, she whispered in a hoarse, yet distinct sound—“I murdered him as he slept, and he died without a groan or struggle.”

She then drew herself up to her full height, and folding her arms, stood calmly watching the effect of her words on Sedley. He was completely paralyzed with horror, but after a few moments, he began to hope that her evident insanity had caused her to fancy that she had perpetrated this fearful crime, he therefore ventured to raise his eyes to her face, but they quailed under her fixed stare, and the blood on her face made him shudder.

Sedley's feelings had been deeply affected by Jessy's address, and the tender pity he had

She was

experienced as she talked of her love for him, and the unhappiness that love had caused her, had taken off his attention from her wild and extraordinary appearance. But now, he examined her with scrutinizing attention, and every evidence seemed to prove the truth of her own statement respecting the murder. beyond doubt disturbed in her intellect, but still collected enough to be aware of what she was saying, and the truth of her statement became each moment more apparent to Sedley.

His horror was so great that he knew not at first how to act. There is something awful and irreconcileable to the feelings, in the thought, that a person, from whom we had parted a few hours back, in all the strength of health and flush of life, in unimpaired spirits and thoughtless gaiety, should be suddenly stricken down by death. What then must have been Sedley's feelings when he recurred to the night before, and thought of Major Bently, as partaking of trivial amusements, and joining in the merry

[blocks in formation]

laugh and innocent jest, and compared him then with what he was now, a mangled corpse, murdered in sleep, sent to that awful bar where scarcely the righteous can be saved, with all his errors unabsolved, and his soul unprepared for the sudden summons. Could it be, that the cheerful voice which had so lately greeted him was hushed for ever, the clear blue eye quenched in death, and the elastic frame stretched in stiff, cold lifelessness !

As these thoughts passed through Sedley's brain, he involuntarily shrank from the guilty creature near him, and a feeling of loathing for her unnatural crime evinced itself in his eyes.

Jessey saw the movement and the look, and throwing herself on her knees before him, she exclaimed, “ Do not hate me Sedley, for pity's sake do not look thus at me; but, oh! have coinpassion on me, and soothe my distracted soul. My crime was horrible, most horrible, but I was mad when I committed the deed, and therefore not responsible for

" The despair in her looks, and the thrilling tone

« PreviousContinue »