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her to hope that she might be the means of administering comfort, at least, if not advice or assistance. It was, therefore, with no common interest, that she listened to Rose's narrative.
"You are no doubt aware, my dearest Emily, from the gossip of the school, that my poor father's conduct has caused his family much grief and trouble. He is a man of strong feelings, and dreadfully violent passions; but he certainly was, during my childhood, a kind husband, and a most affectionate father. Indeed, he is still very fond of his children; but, alas! his character and conduct are sadly altered. He commanded a large frigate during the late war; it was taken by your countrymen, and my father, after being dangerously wounded in the engagement, was carried to London, where he remained several years. There he met with much kindness and honorable treatment, but, unhappily, fell into company of a very wicked and dissolute kind,-principally, I am ashamed to say, among the French officers who were, like himself, prisoners of war. There my poor father entered into all those pursuits, which have since proved his own misery, and the ruin of his family.”
Here Rose paused for a moment, and gave way to tears of bitter recollection. Emily entreated her to spare herself any further communication, on a subject which caused her so much painful emotion, and reminded her that Madame d'Elfort had forbidden them to sit down. She immediately rose, and they resumed their walk; but she would not suspend a narration which she had long been anxious to enter upon.
My dear mother heard from him occasionally, during his captivity, and, as his fortune was not large, she cheerfully sacrificed her own, to answer his repeated and enormous demands for money. She could not, however, resist the painful conviction, that he must have plunged very deeply into the fatal vice of gaming, and she languished for his return, in the hope that the claims of duty, and the voice of affection, could not fail to recall him to the path of rectitude and peace. I was very young then, but well do I remember my beloved mother's anxiety, her tears, her constant prayers, her impassioned longing for peace; and though I could not then share her confidence, my heart already sympathized deeply in her uneasiness. At last the long desired, long prayed for moment, arrived; the ravages of war ceased, and peace extended her olive branch over the nations of Europe. After another interval of heart-sickening suspense, a large remittance enabled my father to leave England, and my dear mother had at last the unspeakable happiness of throwing herself on the bosom of her long lost husband.
But, oh! what a sad, what a fearful change did she soon per ceive in him! After the first emotions of pleasure, on returning to his country and friends, had subsided, my father no longer appeared
to take any interest in the enjoyments of home, the society of his wife, or the education of his children. His hours were chiefly spent in the most dissipated and dangerous company, and, when he returned, the irritation caused by his losses at play, rendered his naturally kind disposition harsh and gloomy. My mother wept in secret, at this final blighting of her happiness, while she forced her countenance to wear, before him, the smile of unaltered cheerfulness and affection. But her health, naturally delicate, and long undermined by anxiety, gradually sunk under these redoubled trials; she pined in silent anguish, and drooped like a lily broken by the tempest.
"It was then that her kind confessor, the excellent curé of this town, considered it his duty to remonstrate with my father. He had anxiously observed his conduct, and knew more, far more of his pursuits, than we did. He took the first opportunity of reasoning mildly with him, and seriously representing the injury he was doing, both to himself and his family. My father was affected, and, to deepen the impression made on his heart, Monsieur de Beauvais pressed on his attention the most solemn and important truths of religion. Alas! he then discovered, what before he had only feared-that infidelity had taken the most fatal possession of his mind, and thus sapped the foundation of every moral principle. Shocked at this discovery, he confided it to my uncle de Longueville, my mother's only brother, and entreated his assistance in reclaiming the wanderer. But in vain did they use every method that affection could suggest; my poor father spurned the counsel of the venerable minister, and called it the insolent meddling of priest-craft; while he so highly resented the interference of my uncle, that a quarrel ensued between them, and ended in a duel, which had nearly proved fatal to them both.
"This was the death-blow to my dear suffering mother's intellects. The terror and anguish she experienced, on that dreadful occasion, were too much both for body and mind. A brain fever, of the most alarming kind, made us despair of her life; and, when health again dawned on the body, reason had forsaken her throne, for ever!"
Here Rose pressed her hand on her heart, as if to repress a strong feeling of anguish; but, unmindful of Emily's entreaties, she persisted in finishing the narrative.
"I need not tell you, my dear friend, that the gloom of sorrow has rested on my mind ever since. My father, indeed, displayed much tenderness and remorse for a few weeks, and nothing could exceed the attention and care he bestowed on his broken-hearted wife, while procuring for her every little comfort or enjoyment which her melancholy situation was capable of. But the salutary impression soon faded from his mind; and, while her mourning family were anxiously watching the steps, looks, and actions of
the interesting sufferer, in the faint, but fondly cherished hope, that some heavenly ray would still burst through the gloom of mental aberration, the woman who had been hired to attend upon her, and whose pleasing manners had very much prepossessed us in her favor, contrived so completely to engage my father's affections, as to obtain the most unbounded ascendency over him. This was soon perceived, by her becoming the despot of the family. All our old servants left the house, and their places were immediately filled by others of her own choosing. It was in vain to remonstrate with my father, for her influence over him was every day increased, by her ostentatious kindness to my mother, and the apparent interest she took in the welfare of my sister and myself. I need not tell you that I was wretched, and that my only solace lay in attending to my suffering parent, and in feebly endeavoring to supply her place to my poor little sister.
'I know not if Madame Gérard was fearful that the feelings of parental affection, which my father still manifested for us, might at length prove inimical to her interest; but she persuaded him, four years ago, to send me to school. I left home with the most poignant anguish, for I dreaded that cruel treatment would in private be inflicted on my mother; but I durst not remonstrate, though my heart was ready to burst. I, however, obtained leave to visit her every week, and my fears were at length somewhat allayed, by observing that Madame Gérard's conduct to the dear invalid remained, to all appearance, unchanged. Indeed, she must have been a monster of inhumanity, if she could have treated her harshly; for the poor sufferer is as gentle as a lamb, and as passively obedient as an infant. She seems to have an instinctive dread of her guardian; but, though I questioned Claire closely and frequently, I could never discover that she had been otherwise than kindly treated.
My mother's friends, however, as well as myself, foresaw the most baneful consequences to my sister, from her remaining under such tuition, and subject to such an example; and, after many ineffectual attempts, nor united entreaties at length prevailed on my father to send her to Madame d'Elfort. She has now been here about two years, and, although she had already contracted many bad habits, and was totally uncultivated, I thank God that she now bids fair to realize the fondest wishes of my heart."
66 Has your mother ever any lucid intervals ?" inquired Emily, whose silent tears had testified her sympathy, more powerfully than words could have done. "Does she know you, and the other members of her family?"
"Oh! yes, very frequently;-and there are moments, when I could almost fancy her reason is returning.; but, alas! some flash of painful recollection then darts across her mind, and all is dark and wild again. She is never otherwise than gentle; but her
deep and silent melancholy is truly heart-rending. Oh! I could weep, till my life departed, when she presses my hand to her heart, and, with an agonizing sigh, tells me her pain is there."" Another burst of sorrow closed the painful narrative of this affectionate daughter; and, before she could recover the composure of her usual manner, the bell summoned the whole school to prayers in the open part of the garden.
"We must go!" exclaimed Rose, stifling her emotion with a determined effort, and grasping the arm of Emily. "I know not when we shall enjoy another such interview; but have still much to tell you, and stand greatly in need of your advice. I shall seize the first opportunity that presents itself, if you will kindly listen to me again. In the mean time, you will pray for me;-will you not?"
A silent, but expressive, pressure of the hand was Emily's only answer; for, though they hurried towards the circle, they scarcely reached it before the prayers were begun. The numerous groups of young ladies, kneeling round their majestic governess, and seen by the soft radiance of moonlight, presented a most interesting spectacle; and, as Emily also bent her knees, under the shade of a few straggling branches, she closed her ears to the words that were uttered, lest their import should destroy the sweet illusion of the scene, or prevent her thoughts from soaring to "the one Mediator between God and man."
THE HIDDEN SNARE.
Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.-MATT. vii. 15.
LYDIA HOWARD had occasionally been invited to accompany her sister, in her visits to the Dorville family. She had done so once, during the senseless gaieties of the Carnival; but, although her hosts were among the strictest observers of religious decorum, and looked with horror on masquerades, and every assemblée that bore the name of ball, she saw enough of dissipation, in their private réunions, and petites soirées, to awaken distaste in a mind which, though it had not yet submitted to the sanctifying influence of the
gospel, had, nevertheless, acquired that elevated tone of sentiment and feeling, which cannot stoop to the grovelling pleasures of the world. Caroline had expressed herself equally dissatisfied with these enjoyments, and the two sisters had, therefore, declined another invitation to partake of the festivities of Easter, when the poor deluded devotees, rejoicing to be at length freed from the six weeks' thraldom of Lent austerities, gave a loose to the unbounded effusions of their joy, and entered with fresh avidity into the follies they had so reluctantly suspended.
The sisters were now, however, entreated to join the family, during a visit to Monsieur Dorville's country-seat. Madame d' Elfort was to be of the party, and both Caroline and Lydia gladly accepted an invitation which promised to afford them much real and innocent pleasure.
On their arrival at the mansion, which was situated a few leagues from the town, they were much delighted with its beautiful gardens, and the rural scenery that surrounded it. The only person of the party whom Lydia had never seen before, was the Abbé de Ronceval, a priest, who was Eugène Dorville's tutor, at the public seminary he attended. This gentleman was still young, extremely well-bred, and had so little of the priest in his manners and conversation, as to make himself perfectly agreeable to all parties. The first few days of the visit passed pleasantly away; but when their stay was prolonged beyond the Sabbath, Lydia could not help deeply regretting this privation of the public means of grace. She thought herself obliged by politeness to accompany the family to high mass, especially as her sister too was of the same opinion. But she felt as if she were not doing quite right, and returned to the house quite discontented with herself. In the afternoon, as the church was at some distance, the family did not go to vespers, but assembled in the drawingroom, to repeat a chapelet. Lydia was resolved to go no farther in compliance, and having seen her sister leave the room some time before, she rose to join her in their own chamber, whither she supposed her to have retired. Caroline was not there, but not doubting that she should find her in the gardens, she immediately went in search of her, taking in her hand "Hervey's Meditations," a work which she always read with increased admiration and delight. The gardens were now clothed in all the blooming loveliness of spring, and Lydia, with the glowing enthusiasm of a lover of nature, went in ecstacy from one sweet spot to another, and bent fondly over every beauteous object in her path, till she found herself in a romantic recess, in the centre of which gushed a crystal fountain, its sparkling waters reflecting the bright green foliage of the trees that shaded its surface, while the marble statue of a water-nymph was bending over its transparent bosom. This was a spot peculiarly fitted for contemplation; and, as it command