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those scenes—but it was now nine o'clock, a late hour in the village.
Still she fancied it would be very charming—and then her grandmother's injunction came powerfully to her recollection
-she sighed, and turned from the window—and walked up and down her little room.
Ever, when she looked at the window, the wish returned. It was not so very late. The neighbours were yet about, passing under the window to their homes--she thought, and thought again, till her sensations became vivid, even to painfulness—her bosom was aching to give them vent.
The village clock struck ten!—the neighbours ceased to pass under the window. Rosamund, stealing down stairs, fastened the latch behind her, and left the cottage. · One, that knew her, met her, and observed her with some surprise. Another recollects having wished her a good night. Rosamund never returned to the cottage!
An old man, that lay sick in a small house adjoining to Margaret's, testified the next morning, that he had plainly heard the old creature calling for her granddaughter. All the night long she made her moan, and ceased not to call upon the name of Rosamund. But no Rosamund was there the voice died away, but not till near day-break.
When the neighbours came to search in the morning, Margaret was missing! She had straggled out of bed, and made her way into Rosamund's room—worn out with fatigue and fright, when she found the girl not there, she had laid herself down to die—and, it is thought, she died praying—for she was discovered in a kneeling posture, her arms and face extended on the pillow, where Rosainund had slept the night before—a smile was on her face in death.
Fain would I draw a veil over the transactions of that night --but I cannot—grief and burning shame forbid me to be silent--black deeds are about to be made public, which reflect a stain upon our common nature.
Rosamund, enthusiastic and improvident, wandered unprotected to a distance from her guardian doors—through lonely glens, and wood walks, where she had rambled many a day in safety--till she arrived at a shady copse, out of the hearing of any human habitation.
Matravis met her.--" Flown with insolence and wine," returning home late at night, he passed that way!
Matravis was a very ugly man. Sallow complexioned! and,
if hearts can wear that colour, his heart was sallow-complexioned also.
A young man with gray deliberation! cold and systematic in all his plans; and all his plans were evil. His very lust was systematic.
He would brood over his bad purposes for such a dreary length of time, that it might have been expected, some solitary check of conscience must have intervened to save him from commission. But that Light from Heaven was extinct in his dark bosom.
Nothing that is great, nothing that is amiable, existed for this unhappy man. He feared, he envied, he suspected; but he never loved. The sublime and beautiful in nature, the excellent and becoming in morals, wero things placed beyond the capacity of his sensations. He loved not poetry—nor ever took a lonely walk to meditate—never beheld virtue, which he did not try to disbelieve, or female beauty and innocence, which he did not lust to contaminate.
A sneer was perpetually upon his face, and malice grinning at his heart. He would say the most ill-natured things, with the least remorse, of any man I ever knew. This gained him the reputation of a wit—other traits got him the reputation of a villain.
And this man formerly paid his court to Elinor Clare! with what success I leave my readers to determine.—It was not jn Elinor's nature to despise any living thing—but in the estimation of this man, to be rejected was to be despised and Matravis never forgave. .
He had long turned his eyes upon Rosamund Gray. To steal from the bosom of her friends the jewel they prized so much, the little ewe lamb they held so dear, was a scheme of delicate revenge, and Matravis had a two-fold motive for accomplishing this young maid's ruin.
Often had he met her iu her favourite solitudes, but found her ever cold and inaccessible. Of late the girl had avoided straying far from her own home, in the fear of meeting him--but she had never told her fears to Allan." · Matravis had, till now, been content to be a villain within the limits of the law—but, on the present occasion, hot fumes of wine, co-operating with his deep desire of revenge, and the insolence of an unhoped for meeting, overcame his customary prudence, and Matravis rose; at once, io an audacity of glorious mischief.
Late at night he met her, a lonely, unprotected virgin—no friend at hand—no place near of refuge.
Rosamund Gray, my soul is exceeding sorrowful for thee—I loath to tell the hateful circumstances of thy wrongs. Night and silence were the only witnesses of this young maid's disgrace—Matravis fled. .
Rosamund, polluted and disgraced, wandered, an abandoned thing, about the fields and meadows till day-break. Not caring to return to the cottage, she sat herself down before the gate of Miss Clare's house--in a stupor of grief.
Elinor was just rising, and had opened the windows of her chamber, when she perceived her desolate young friend. She ran to embrace her—she brought her into the house—she took her to her bosom—she kissed her—she spake to her; but Rosamund could not speak.
Tidings came from the cottage. Margaret's death was an event, which could not be kept concealed from Rosamund. When the sweet maid heard of it, she languished, and fell sick -- she never held up her head after that time.
If Rosamund had been a sister, she could not have been kindlier treated, than by her two friends. :
Allan had prospects in life might, in time, have married into any of the first families in Hertfordshire— but Rosamund Gray, humbled though she was, and put to shame, had yet a charm for him—and he would have been content to share his
fortunes with her yet, if Rosamund would have lived to be his . companion.
But this was not to be and the girl soon after died. She expired in the arms of Elinor—quiet, gentle, as she livedthankful, that she died not among strangers--and expressing by signs, rather than words, a gratitude for the most trifling services, the common offices of humanity. She died uncomplaining; and this young maid, this untaught Rosamund, might have given a lesson to the grave philosopher in death.
I was but a boy when these events took place. All the village remember the story, and tell of Rosamund Gray and old blind Margaret.
I parted from Allan Clare on that disastrous night, and set out for Edinburgh the next morning, before the facts were commonly known--I heard not of them—and it was four months before 1 received a letter from Allan.
"His heart," he told me, "was gone from him—for his sister had died of a frenzy fever!"—not a word of Rosamund in
the letter—1 was left to collect her story from sources which may one day be explained.
I soon after quitted Scotland, on the death of my father, and returned to my native village. Allan had left the place, and i could gain no information, whether he were dead or living.
I passed the cottage. I did not dare to look that way, or to enquire who lived there. -A little dog, that had been Rosamund's, was yelping in my path. I laughed aloud like one mad, whose mind had suddenly gone from him—I stared vacantly around me, like one alienated from common perceptions.
But I was young at that time, and the impression became gradually weakened, as I mingled in the business of life. It is now ten years since these events took place, and I sometimes think of them as unreal. Allan Clare was a dear friend to me -- but there are times, when Allan and his sister, Margaret and her granddaughter, appear like personages of a dream—an idle dream.
Strange things have happened unto me, I seem scarce awake --but I will recollect my thoughts, and try to give an account of what has befallen me in the few last weeks.
Since my father's death our family have resided in London. I am in practice as a surgeon there. My mother died two years after we left Widford.
A month or two ago I had been busying inyself in drawing up the above narrative, intending to make it public. The employment had forced my mind to dwell upon facts, which had. begun to fade from it—the memory of old times became vivid, and more vivid--I felt a strong desire to revisit the scenes of my native village of the young loves of Rosamund and her Clare.
A kind of dread had hitherto kept me back; but I was restless now, till I had accomplished my wish. I set out one morning to walk—I reached Widford about eleven in the forenoonalter a slight breakfast at my inn--where 1 was mortified lo perceive, the old landlord did not know me again—(old Thomas Billet—he has often made angle rods for me when a child)—I rambled over all my accustomed haunts.
Our old house was vacant, and to be sold, I entered, uninolested, into the room that had been my bed-chamber. I kneeled down on the spot where my little bed had stood—1 felt like a child I prayed like one—it seemed as though old times were to return again- I looked round involuntarily, ex
pecting to see some face I knew—but all was naked and mute. The bed was gone. My little pane of painted window, through which I loved to look at the sun, when I awoke in a fine summer's morning, was taken out, and had been replaced by one of common glass.
I visited, by turns, every chamber—they were all desolate and unfurnished, one excepted, in which the owner had left a harpsichord, probably to be sold I touched the keys- I played some old Scottish tunes, which had delighted me when a child. Past associations revived with the music—blended with a sense of unreality, which at last became too powerful—I rushed out of the room to give vent to my feelings.
I wandered, scarce knowing where, into an old wood, that stands at the back of the house—we called it the Wilderness. A well-known form was missing, that used to meet me in this place—it was thine, Ben Moxam—the kindest, gentlest, politest, of human beings, yet was he nothing higher than a gardener in the family. Honest creature, thou didst never pass me in my childish rambles, without a soft speech, and a smile. I remember thy good-natured face. But there is one thing, for which I can never forgive thee, Ben Moxam—that thou didst join with an old maiden aunt of mine in a cruel plot, to lop away the hanging branches of the old fir trees.—I remember them sweeping to the ground.
I have often left my childish sports to ramble in this place its glooms and its solitude had a mysterious charm for my young mind, nurturing within me that love of quietness and lonely thinking, whieh have accompanied me to maturer years.
In this Wilderness I found myself after a ten years' absence. Its stately fir trees were yet standing, with all their luxuriant company of underwood—the squirrel was there, and the melancholy cooings of the wood-pigeon—all was as I had left it my heart softened at the sight—it seemed, as though my character had been suffering a change, since I forsook these shades.
My parents were both dead—I had no counsellor left, no experience of age to direct me, no sweet voice of reproof. The Lord had taken away my friends, and I knew not where he bad laid them. I paced round the wilderness, seeking a comforter. I prayed, that I might be restored to that state of innocence, in which I had wandered in those shades.
Methought, my request was heard --for it seemed as though the stains of manhood were passing from me, and I were relapsing into the purity and simplicity of childhood. I was content to have