Page images
PDF
EPUB

only rendered it the more dangerous to herself. Vain were her efforts to regain her former peace; every hour was the letter taken from her bosom and reperused with increasing interest. She doubted not St. John's honour for an instant; guile was a fabled thing to her, and as the time passed away, and she pictured to herself his grief at her cruel silence, her strength grew less and less. At length she wrote to him refusing his offer, but, betraying so much weakness, that an answer came from him, urging her still more vehemently to consent to his arrangement.

It is needless to paint the struggles of a weak, fond girl ; suffice it to say, that the prayers of her parents, the solicitude of her excellent preceptress, the affection of Henry Emmerson were all outraged and forgotten by Louisa Brown; and, in an evil hour, she quitted the happy home of her childhoood, and accompanied Edward to the place before mentioned, where, according to promise, he made her his wife.

Immediately on his marriage he started for the Continent with Louisa, and she soon found

that the fond lover was fast changing into the selfish tyrant.

She knew no happiness from the hour she left her home; remorse was ever at hand, depicting ber father's gray hairs and mournful countenance, and her mother's tears. She wrote to them the day after her marriage, enjoining them to secresy, but St. John detained and destroyed her letter, as he did all she afterwards wrote, that no unnecessary document of her marriage might exist.

It may easily be imagined what was the desolation caused by Louisa's flight in the district where she had dwelt, so loved and so happy.

Sir John and Lady St. John, the unhappy parents of Edward, mourned bitterly their son's depravity, and attempted by all the means in their power to console the gamekeeper and his wife for the loss of their innocent daughter. But theirs was a case wherein human consolation is vain, and buman agony knows not where to seek comfort.

Of course the idea of Edward St. John's marriage with Louisa never once occurred to them, and the dreadful thought of their child's ruin and misery nearly drove them distracted. They knew her well enough to feel, that happiness could not exist in her heart apart from virtue, and the suddenness of her fall stunned as much as it tortured them. Mrs. Emmerson was deeply grieved, but no one, no, not even the parents, felt a tithe of the anguish which swelled in Henry Emmerson's breast at this sad catastrophe. When he reflected on his own reverential love for Louisa, its constancy, its delicacy, and compared it with the selfish feeling which had gained her from him for ever, he wept at the contrast ; but no one saw those tears wrung from him by extremity of suffering; no one guessed the deep grief of his heart; when in society he was as calm as usual, and many of Louisa's late friends, who thought they betrayed a great deal of feeling by their clamorous lamentations over her fall, accused Henry Emmerson, the companion of her childhood, of hardheartedness and denseness.

But Henry cared little for the opinion of the

world at any time, and less than ever now, when his earthly hopes had just received their deathblow; and he pursued his usual course, and preached even more eloquently than hitherto of the heavenly comfort held out for weary and sick hearts.

In the mean time Sir John and Lady St. John died within a few days of each other, and Edward found it necessary to return to England to take possession of his large estates.

Poor Louisa was wretched; his manner grew every day more unfeeling towards her, and this, added to the unaccountable silence of her father and mother, nearly broke her heart. At length they returned, and Sir Edward, after placing his wife in a small cottage in shire, left her, whilst he proceeded to arrange his affairs. Louisa's first act was to write to her mother, and when the letter was gone, she prayed that it might have more success than her former efforts.

At length an answer came from Mrs. Brown, full of mingled tenderness and reproaches; the knowledge of her marriage had indeed been

balm to all their hearts; but, alas ! one heart had ceased to beat, to whom this blessed vindication of Louisa's name would have brought joy indeed; the good old gamekeeper, her fond father, had died of a broken heart for the loss of his pride and blessing, his innocent daughter.

It was long before Louisa recovered the first shock of this intelligence; and this dreadful blow was followed up by a letter from her husband, infornuing her that she must not expect to see him any more, since he found that their tempers could never assimilate, and promising to allow her a yearly income adequate to her wants. This separation, on mature consideration, was rather a relief to poor Louisa ; she had ceased to esteem or love St. John, and the continual irritability of his temper had caused her to lead a most unhappy life with him latterly. She could not bear the idea of revisiting the home where a kind father had been wont to greet her, and where desolation now reigned, but she prevailed on her mother to join her in shire, and in a life of solitude and reflection she had

VOL. II.

« PreviousContinue »