Page images
PDF
EPUB

nan

in her agonizing anxiety, and implore her to write instantly and inquire respecting the Anneslys. After some days of suspense an answer arrived, containing an account of the young Englishman's well-known devotion to the beautiful Comtesse de St. Pol. Giulietta then felt that all the world held no more joy for her. It is true she never complained or even uttered Annesly's name in a tone of reproach, but the thought of his estrangement never left her.

In the mean time every day and every hour added to Mrs. Bently's unhappiness, a new source of torment had arisen latterly in her mind. She had watched Sir Herbert Sedley narrowly, and every change of his expression, every turn of his countenance, was noted at the time, and remembered afterwards by her. She perceived that when he was, as he thought unobserved, he would contemplate Teresa's beautiful countenance with an expression of deep interest, which stung Jessy to the soul. She observed that when he addressed Lady

Sedley it was with a careless, indifferent air, so opposed to his usual earnest manner, that it was evidently assumed to conceal some strong emotion.

She noted these, and many other trifling things, which, though difficult to describe, are unfailing evidences of a combated attachment. She very soon wrought herself up to believe that Sedley was devoted in secret to Teresa St. John, and the agonies of mind she suffered in consequence of this conviction were fearful. There is an immeasurable contrast between unhappiness in a well and ill-regulated mind. In the first case, all disappointments and mortifications, though severely felt at first, are borne with a calm resignation, and a fixed determination against sinful despondency, which very soon blunt the keen edge of sorrow. If they have been deceived by those they trusted, they can turn to think of Heaven, where there is no guile; if they meet with scorn and indifference from the fickle and worldly, they garner up the fragments of their hopes and affections in the friendship of the few true and good hearts which remain to them.

But imagination recoils from the stormy agonies of such a mind as Jessy Bently’s. Love-despair-remorse--hatred, raged by turns in her breast, and left their unfailing marks on her once smooth brow, and their dark shadows in her unfathomable eyes. A kind tone or word from Sedley would, in an instant, cause a blissful revulsion in her whole feelings; and hope, that arch deceiver, would creep into her heart. But, alas! even that hope was agony-she had irrevocably sealed her own fate, and nothing but the interposition of death could free her.

Sometimes she felt as though she could render herself worthy of Sedley's friendship, by rooting her unhappy love from her heart; and then she experienced fits of passionate, yet evanescent devotion, and believed that her prayers were accepted,-her fervent prayers for indifference to the world, and to him her world.

But, alas! they were not answered ; and her guardian angel, who still hovered near her with

drooping wings and sad aspect, dared not convey her faulty and earthly aspirations to the pure chancery above.

Jessy's beauty faded from her, a dark cloud lowered on her knit brow, her eyes grew restless and stern in their expression, and her features haggard and care-worn. At times, when in Sedley's society, her naturally exuberant spirits broke forth and charmed all around her; but vanished as suddenly, giving place to a gloomy harshness, as some glance or tone directed by Sedley to Teresa caught her attention. All her friends noted her changed appearance, yet none guessed at its cause, and the want of advice or sympathy was keenly felt by the poor, misguided creature. When Sedley asked her sometimes in tender interest whether she felt ill, her feelings were almost uncontrollable.

Temptations are sent alike to the pure and faulty. The merit is not in being exempt from them, but in successfully combating them ! Teresa St. John had discovered a serpent in her bosom, which was striving to coil and entwine

itself with her very heart-strings. Associated almost daily with a man such as there are but few ; listening to his enlightened conversation, couched in eloquent language and conveyed in tones of irresistible beauty; hearing his constant praise from his idolizing mother; viewing his numerous accomplishments and the gentleness and amiability of his disposition in their most seductive light,-terrible was the trial for one so young, so tender and guileless as Teresa.

Yet had she powerful arms wherewith to resist the enemy--a firm reliance in Divine protection, unceasing prayer, and a determination to conquer cr die!

Oh! it was sad to think what might have been her fate-how blessed !-and to compare that fate with her actual destiny! And these thoughts would intrude, spite of her resistance, for the Tempter is strong, and flesh is weak. When she found how dangerous Sedley was becoming to her peace, she pondered long and deeply on the best mode of conduct to pursue, and decided that flight was the only remedy in her power. With

« PreviousContinue »