Edward Saville, A Transcript by Charles Whitehead

The doctor tells me I must take no wine. Pshaw! It is not that which mounts into my brain; and sometimes—but I must not wander—wine is the best corrector of these fancies. One bottle more of sober claret, and I shall be able to finish before midnight the brief sketch of my life which I promised Travers long ago.

It were worse than useless to set down any particulars of my boyhood. An only son is usually a spoiled one, and that which is so easy and delightful a task to most parents was by no means difficult or unpleasant to mine; and yet, to do myself justice, I believe I was not more conceited, insolent, selfish, and rapacious than others are during those days of innocence, as they are called,—those days of innocence which form the germ of that noble and disinterested creature, man.

At the age of three-and-twenty I succeeded to my father's estate. It was to divert a sense of loneliness which beset me, that I plunged into—as they term it, but the phrase is a wrong one—that I ventured upon the course of folly and dissipation into which so many young men of fortune like myself hurry themselves, or are led, or are driven. But why recount these scenes of pleasure—so called, or miscalled—whose reaction is utter weariness, satiety, and disgust?

I was at the theatre one night, when the friend who accompanied me directed my attention to a very lovely girl, who, with her mother and a party of friends, occupied the next box. She was, certainly, the loveliest creature my eyes had ever lighted upon; with a sylph-like form, (that is the usual phrase, I believe,) wanting perhaps that complete roundness of limb which is considered essential to perfect beauty in a woman—but she was barely sixteen—and yet suggesting, too, the idea of consummate symmetry. Her face—but who can describe beauty? who even can paint it? Let any man look at the finest attempts to achieve this impossibility by the old masters, and then let him compare them with the faces he has seen, and may see every day. Heavens! what inanities! Can a man paint a soul upon canvass? And yet the artist talks of his "expression."

I watched her closely during the performance,—indeed, I had no power to withdraw my gaze from her; and once or twice her eyes met mine, and I thought I could perceive she was not altogether displeased at my attention. Her confusion betrayed that to me, and in one short hour I was a lost man.

When the play was over, I framed a miserable excuse, which I thought at the time a most ingenious one, to my friend for not accompanying him home to supper, as I had promised; and hastening after my unknown and her mother, who had left the box, was just in time to see them enter a coach. I contrived to keep pace with it, and saw it deposit its beautiful freight at a house in a small private street near Portman Square.

I could laugh—unaccustomed as I am even to private laughing now-a-days—when I think, as I do sometimes, on those days of sentiment. It were as futile to attempt to renew that sentiment after thirty, as to strive to recal those days, and to bid them stand in next year's calendar. The green wood is out of the tree by that time;  and the trunk becomes hard, and gnarled, and stubborn. Now is the time to enjoy life. At five-and-thirty the blood and the brain act in concert, and the heart beats not one pulse the quicker, while they do their spiriting—not gently always.—To return.

I went home that night altogether an altered man, and rose next morning from a sleepless bed, absorbed with the one idea which had worked so miraculous a change within me. All that day, almost without intermission, did I pace up and down the street in the hope of seeing her; but in vain. Not once did she approach the window; and I did not deem it prudent to question one of the servants who came out of the house several times during the day. I betook myself, therefore, towards evening to a green-grocer's shop in the neighbourhood; and the purchase of some fruit gave me a privilege to indulge in a little chat with the good old woman who conducted the business. I affected to be chiefly solicitous respecting the elderly lady, whom I had seen by chance, and believed to be a friend of my father, but whose name I could not, for the life of me, remember. The old woman smiled at my shallow artifice, but proceeded to inform me that the elderly lady was the widow of an officer who had been killed in the Peninsular War, leaving an only daughter, at that period an infant. I begged pardon—the name? did she know the daughter's name?

"Oh yes! it was Isabella Denham."

It was an era in my life, the first sound of that name. I thanked my kind informant, and withdrew.

I need not tell how unremittingly, and for how many weeks, I paced up and down that street, with various success; how regularly I attended the church she frequented; and how at length I obtained an introduction to the family.

I found Isabella Denham more captivating than the accumulated fancies and self-willed convictions of months had pictured her to me. It is no unusual result in such cases; but whether it be that the object transcends the imagination, or that the imagination subserves the object, I know not. It was so, however; for feeling upon these occasions takes the place of reason, which is an impertinence.

Let me be just. I think, had I loved Isabella Denham less, I should equally have admired her. She had a mind and a heart; she was accomplished; she was beautiful, gentle, and good; and she loved me. Yes, she loved me. I believed it then, and I am certain of it now. How I loved her, she never knew: that was for Time to show, and he has shown it.

I offered her my hand in due time, and was accepted. How I despised the sneers and banter of some of my friends who could not conceive the idea of a marriage with fortune on one side, and none on the other, and yet were endeavouring at the same time to effect an engagement of a similar nature in their own favour! How I disregarded the gratuitous advice of sundry of my officious relatives, who thought that all love had died when their own gave up the ghost, and who sometimes prophesied truly because they were always prognosticating evil!

We were at length married; and the close of the fourth year saw no diminution of our happiness. We were domestic enough without seclusion, and went into as much company as sufficed to make  us feel that home was the happiest place after all. One circumstance had contributed to augment my felicity,—the birth of a son, which took place about a year after our marriage.

I know not what some people mean, who tell you that when a man becomes married, love subsides into affection, and friendship takes the place of passion. It was not so with me. I loved the wife as much as I had adored the mistress. To make her happy was myself to be so; and to have made her so, I would have laid down my life. Some, indeed, hinted that I indulged her too much—that I let her have her own way in everything. And why not? Did I marry to make my wife the creature, or the slave, of some system of management, rule of action, or principle of conduct? phrases which I abhor. No—no; be they as wise as they will, I was right. I am convinced of it. That was not the cause. We were happy.

It was by the merest chance that I one day encountered Hastings in the street—my friend Hastings. We had been companions at Eton, and at college our intimacy had grown into friendship. Were I now asked for what particular quality of mind or heart I had chosen Hastings for a friend, I should find some difficulty in answering the question. He was what is termed "a good-natured fellow;" there was nothing gross or offensive in his gaiety, and he was always the same. His feelings never led him to make a fool of himself which is much to say of a young man. They might be called good plated feelings, which answered the purpose well enough, and sometimes passed for more costly articles. It is much, after all, to possess a friend between whom and yourself you can drew comparisons favourable to the latter, and who is perfectly content that you should do so.

He dined with me on the next day. His powers of conversation were certainly much improved since we had last talked together. He could turn the most superficial reading to admirable account; and so minute was his observation, and so faithfully and graphically could he describe manners, and the surface motives of men, that it almost appeared like a profound knowledge of mankind. Isabella was pleased with his society; and after she had retired to the drawing-room, my friend expatiated somewhat at large upon her beauty and elegance, and, above all, upon the good sense which characterised her. I need hardly say that I also was delighted with him, and when we shook hands for the night, I could have hugged the man for his glowing eulogy. I almost loved every one who admired her. I was too weak—too weak.

He visited us often, for his time was altogether his own. He was living upon expectancy, and accordingly had more leisure than money. At various periods I pressed him to make my purse his own, and he did so. I had, indeed, more money at my disposal than I cared for, or knew what to do with; and at that time I thought, when I served a friend, that I had found the best employment of it. It is strange,—and yet perhaps it is not by any means strange,—how men alter in this particular as they grow older. The heart-strings and the purse-strings are not so easily drawn then.

Well, I was his banker, and felt myself sufficiently repaid by his society. About this time, also, I was greatly occupied in business of a somewhat troublesome nature, to conclude which it was necessary  that I should visit my estate. My probable term of absence was to be about six weeks. The fashionable season was in its meridian, and I could not be cruel enough to ask Isabella to accompany me. She had latterly taken more pleasure in parties, and balls, and concerts than heretofore. Perhaps I had kept her too close; we were too domestic. After all, it was not the way of the world. I thought so, and Hastings agreed with me;—I would see it reformed altogether when I return.

In the mean while I begged Hastings to look in now and then, and see that she was not lonely and out of spirits. It was natural to expect that my first absence from her would cause her to feel so. He promised to do as I requested, and I set off into the country, where I was detained more than two months; and at length, finding myself released from an irksome attendance on very unpleasant business, I took post-horses, and with all the ardour of a lover returned to London.

I returned to London.—

I remember the minutest particulars of that scene so well! Not a tittle of it has escaped my memory—not a word, not a syllable! It will never depart from my mind—from my soul!

When the porter opened the door, I hastened through the hall, and sprang up stairs into the drawing-room. She was not there; but my little boy, hearing my well-known footstep, came from the adjoining room and ran towards me. I caught him in my arms, and gave him a thousand kisses.

"Well, my dear little fellow, and where is mamma?"

"Not here—not here," said the boy, looking around; "but I'm so glad you've come back!"

Isabella was gone out, doubtless. I rang the bell. I did not observe Mrs. Martin, the housekeeper, enter the room,—I was still caressing the child.

"Ha! Mrs. Martin—But what's the matter? You look ill.—Where is Mrs. Saville?"

The woman spoke not, but trembled violently, and turned very pale. I motioned her to take a seat. She did so.

"My dear madam, you alarm me," said I. "Is anything wrong—your mistress——"

Tears were streaming down the woman's face, as she arose suddenly, and with her hands clasped before her she came towards me.

"Oh, sir! bear it like a man," she cried, weeping bitterly;—"do bear it like a man, sir! That I should live to tell you this!—I, who have carried you in these arms, and have prayed a thousand times for your happiness when I should be dead and gone!"

She paused. Perhaps my face revealed the sickness of heart which at that moment overcame me. I could not rise from my seat; I could not lift the child from my knee, as he lay upon my bosom with his head pressed against my heart.

"Merciful Heaven!—Isabella is ill—she is dying!—at once, at once tell me——"

"No, no," said the woman bitterly, "she is not ill or dying. Mr. Saville, I durst not tell you my suspicions before you left town—I durst not, sir. For mercy's sake compose yourself! My mistress left this house last Tuesday night with Mr. Hastings."

That horrible shriek still rings in my ears. I remember thrusting the child from me, and clasping my head with my hands; and then I was smitten down—struck to the earth—worse than dead—oh, how much worse than dead!

It was a long, long, hideous dream that succeeded, full of woe, and lamentations, and weeping, and curses, and despair. But I awoke at last from that dream. Where was I? It was a very narrow, but lofty room; the walls were whitewashed, and there was one small window about twelve feet from the door. I was seated on a low truckle-bed; and as I turned my eyes from the light of the window, they fell upon my hands, which were laid before me. Around my wrists there were deep marks, as though they had been tied together with cords; and when I moved, a sharp pain went round me, like a girdle. But the rope had been loosened, and was no longer about me. A man entered the room.

"How do you feel yourself now?" said he, laying his hand upon my shoulder.

I looked up. Methought I recognised the voice, and the face was almost familiar to me, and repulsively so.

"I am well—very well," I answered. "Where am I?"

The man said nothing, but silently left the room, presently returning with a gentleman, of whom, as of the man, I had an indistinct remembrance.

"You will be better soon, sir," said this person kindly, as he felt my pulse; and he turned towards the man, and spoke to him in an undertone. "Let him be kept very quiet," was all I heard, and he retired shortly after.

Yes:—I had been mad—raving mad—for two years, and was now slowly struggling back into consciousness. Feeble glimmerings of the past came upon me at first, and then farther half-revelations were extended to me; until at length the cause, dimly and remotely, but gradually nearer and more near, stood before me like a curse. It is well for me that I did not then relapse into madness; but I wrestled with it, I overcame it, and in a month was taken away in my own physician's carriage, and brought back home. Home?—that had been destroyed.

My friend, Dr. Herbert, was, and is, the best fellow breathing. He devoted for some weeks nearly the whole of his time to me. He endeavoured to draw my mind away from the one subject, which might, he thought, if entertained, once more overthrow my reason. He was mistaken. The very endeavour to discard that memory, as often as it recurred, would soon have distracted me. I encouraged it, therefore, and was strengthened by it;—my mind throve upon it,—it was a comfort to me.

The many slight indications of an attachment—of a passion—between her and this man Hastings,—and they must have been but slight indications,—were presented to me now grossly and palpably. I could see them all,—they stung me;—and I would curse my fool's nature that was blind, or would not see and provide against the consequence. And why did I curse my easy nature? Could I have borne to live a wretched turnkey, a miserable listener at key-holes, a dealer out of "punishment, the drudgery of devils?" Did I marry to suspect virtue, or to control vice? Neither; and I was glad that,  when they did wrong me, they permitted me to know it. These thoughts never affected my brain;—there was no fear of that. I thought no longer from the brain;—these thoughts were in my heart, and never moved thence.

One evening, as I was ascending the stairs, I overheard the child inquiring of one of the servants "who that white-haired gentleman was, and why he lived in the house?" I had hitherto refused to see the child; but I now rang the bell, and ordered the housekeeper, who constantly waited upon me, to bring him to me.

He was much grown since I had last seen him, and was a fine boy. He did not know me, and was at first fearful of approaching me; but I induced him to sit upon my knee, and, putting his hair from the forehead, asked him if he would not give me a kiss. As he lifted his face, and looked up at me—that look! his very mother was gazing through those eyes! A sudden faintness possessed me. I lifted the child gently from my knee, and motioned the housekeeper to take him from my sight. I did not see him again.

But there was comfort still:—Hastings was in London,—I was certain of it.

And so he was. One night, about a fortnight after my return to town from Paris, where I was told he had been seen, and where I had sought him in vain, I was proceeding home, baffled in my endeavours to discover him in some of his old haunts, which I had ascertained after many and fruitless inquiries. I was walking rapidly down a miserable street in the vicinity of Clare Market, when a squalid wretch, issuing from a public-house, came in contact with me. I think no human being in the world would have recognised him but myself. Hideously changed as he was, I knew him instantly. The half-shriek that burst from him as he recoiled from me showed that he had recognised me also. The struggle was a short one,—I had omitted to put my pistols in my pocket on that evening. With what a savage triumph, when I had dashed him on the pavement, did I stamp upon the prostrate carcass of the groaning wretch! But my joy was brief; for I was suddenly seized by three or four men, who held me firmly by the arms. I could not get at him. Heedless of my ravings, they assisted the miscreant to rise, who, casting one glance of terror towards me, darted down an alley, and was lost to me for ever. He had escaped me.

How I reached home I know not. Herbert, who visited me next morning, forbade me to rise from my bed. He said my brain was unsettled, and I believe it was. But I was well again in a month.

The one idea pervaded my whole being when I arose from my bed. My rencontre with Hastings had whetted my appetite for revenge so keenly, that no reason, no thought, no feeling could control me. He was evidently in a state of the most abject beggary and want. That conviction did not disarm me; it rendered me only the more determined and inflexible.

I went forth one evening, and with much difficulty discovered the public-house from which I had seen him emerge on that night. From the landlord I obtained every particular I required to know. Hastings had, it seemed, changed his name;—it was now Harris. He resided in one small room on the first floor of a house in a filthy court hard by; that is, if he had not left the neighbourhood, for the man had not seen him for a month past.

It was well. I drank two glasses of brandy, for it was a cold night, and proceeded towards my destination. I found it easily. There was a light in the window, and, from the reflection of a man's figure on the wall, I judged he was at home. The house-door was open, and I entered the narrow passage. At that moment I trembled, and for an instant could not proceed. No: it was not that which made me tremble; I knew, and was prepared for, what I had to do. It was the other,—it was that face which I feared I could not bear to behold.

This was, as I have said, the weakness of a moment. I mounted the stairs, and burst into the room suddenly. A man and a woman were seated at a small fire, who arose abruptly on my entrance. It was not Harris and—his wife.

"Where is the man—Hastings?" I exclaimed, addressing the old couple.

As I uttered these words, a loud shriek proceeded from a bed behind me, and a female dropt upon the floor. I knew that voice,—I knew it well;—but it did not move me.

"Mrs. Harris is ill," said the old woman; "permit us to pass you, sir;—it is one of the fits to which she is subject."

I allowed the woman to step by me, who, raising the lifeless form beside her, drew it into an adjoining room.

"What do you want, sir? what is your business here?" inquired the man.

I placed one hand into my coat-pocket and grasped a pistol, and with the other seized the man by the collar.

"Where is Harris?" said I. "You had best tell me; you are a dead man else. He is hid somewhere—he is below, in the house—where is he?"

"He is there," gasped the man; and he pointed towards the bed, upon which a body was lying, covered with a linen cloth.

I sank upon a chair. Hastings had indeed escaped me, and for ever. I was left alone, for the man had hurried from the room. I cannot describe the agony of feeling which I underwent during the next half-hour. I took the light, and, walking to the bed, drew the linen cloth from the face of the corpse.

How awful! how mysterious is the power of death! The man who had insulted, who had wronged, who had betrayed me,—whose ingratitude—of all crimes the vilest and the basest—had inverted my very soul,—this man lay before me cold, serene, tranquil, miserable, callously insensible,—and yet I had no power to curse him. There was no serenity, no tranquillity upon the face, when I gazed upon it more closely. The brow was corrugated, the cheeks collapsed, and the eyelids sunken; and there was the soul's torture, as it left a tortured body impressed upon the face. Enough to have mitigated a more implacable hatred than mine!

I left the room, and walked down stairs. As I proceeded along the passage, the man whom I had before seen came out of a lower room, and opened the door for me. I was about to depart, when he caught me gently but firmly by the arm.

"Oh, sir!" said he earnestly, "do not leave the house without seeing Mrs. Harris. She has relapsed into another fit; but when she comes to herself, it will be a comfort to her to see a friend of her husband. You knew him, sir, when living; and for his sake, perhaps—"  the man paused for a moment, and continued,—"you have a benevolent heart, sir,—I am sure you have,—and if you knew all, even though he may have wronged you——"

It was an unseasonable time for an appeal of this nature. The passions that had been forced back upon my heart had yet scarce begun to subside, but I spoke calmly.

"You will tell her Mr. Saville has been here;" and I was going.

"Mr. Saville!" repeated the man. "Oh, sir, we have heard that name mentioned frequently of late. You will come again, or send, perhaps;—will you not, sir?"

"She will know where to find me, should she wish to see me, which I think is hardly probable;" and with a cold "good-night" I left him.

I called upon Herbert on my way home, and told him all that had taken place. He was surprised and shocked.

"Saville," said he, after a long pause, during which he had been absorbed in reflection, "this cursed affair is destroying you. I am a plain man. You may shake your head, and tell me coolly and calmly that you have ceased to feel the injury which all the while is preying upon you. It is that calmness which I fear most; it will kill you, or worse than that,—you understand me. You must pursue this matter no farther. The man is dead, and your wife —— Well," he resumed, "I beg your pardon; I was wrong to call her by that name. May I speak plainly?"

"You may."

"She is evidently in a state of want—of destitution. This must not be. You must allow her—settle upon her—enough to rescue her from poverty and its temptations. She must not starve;—I see you could not bear that. And you must forget her. It will not do to see a young man like yourself sacrificed, self-sacrificed, to the villany of a scoundrel. I will say no more, Saville. Vice has too much homage paid to her when an honourable man is made her victim."

Herbert was right—he was always so. No, no;—she must not starve. That were indeed a miserable triumph to me. I went to my solicitor on the next morning, and a deed was made out, settling a competence upon her, and I sent with it as much money as she could require for immediate exigencies. And I was resolved that I would forget her. The worst was past, and time and occupation would do much, and I would think this misery down. But the worst was not yet past.

I was informed, one morning, that a woman in the hall desired to speak with me. Concluding that she was one of the many persons who are accustomed to wait upon the wealthy with petitions, I ordered the servant to admit her. A woman meanly dressed, and whose countenance was concealed, moved towards me, and sinking upon her knees, with her palms pressed together and raised towards me, looked up into my face. Madness in me, and misery and famine in her, must have wrought more strongly, if that were possible, than they had done, could I have failed to recognise that face instantly. Her lips moved,—she would have spoken, but she had no power to speak,—and with a deep and heavy groan she fell upon the floor before me. I rang the bell violently. A servant entered the room.

"Send Mrs. Martin to me instantly. Mrs. Martin," said I, as the woman hastened into the room, "let Dr. Herbert be sent for immediately. You must take care of her. See that she wants nothing."

"Gracious God! it is my mistress!" said the woman, as she raised her head upon her knee. "You will let her remain in the house, Mr. Saville?—in one of the upper rooms?"

"In her own room, Mrs. Martin.—I commit her to you. When she recovers, we can make other arrangements."

It is out of the power of fortune or of fate to excite such feelings within me now as pressed upon my heart for some days after this scene. I thank God for it. Human strength or weakness could not again endure so dreadful a conflict of brute passion and of human feeling. That piteous face raised to mine would not depart from me. That she should kneel,—that she should have been degraded abjectly to crouch before me for forgiveness, for pardon, for the vilest pity,—and that I should know and feel that the base expiation was the poorest recompense—oh! I cannot pursue this farther.

Some days after this,—it was on a Sunday forenoon,— Mrs. Martin entered the room. She took a seat opposite to me.

"I am come to speak with you, Mr. Saville," she said.

"Well, madam, proceed."

"Mrs. Saville, my mistress, sir, is dying."

I spoke not for some minutes, although I was not altogether unprepared for a communication of this nature.

"You will take the child to her, madam; she will wish to see him."

"Oh, sir, she has seen him every day since she came here, and he is with her now. You will not be offended, sir, if I tell you that she has seen him many times within the last two years. Yes, sir, when you were——"

"Mad, madam!—speak plainly!—I was mad."

"She came, sir, to me, and fell at my feet, imploring to see the child, and I could not refuse her. I could not bear that my mistress should kneel to me, and not be permitted to behold her own son;" and here the woman wept bitterly.

"It is very well," said I, after a pause; "I do not blame you. It is better, perhaps, that it should have been so."

"Could I prevail upon you, sir?" she continued, wiping her eyes; "might I be so bold as to hope——"

I anticipated the woman's thoughts.

"She has expressed no wish that I should see her, Mrs. Martin."

"She does not mention your name even to me," said she; "but she must not die without seeing you;—she must not, Mr. Saville."

My nature at times was changed from what it had been since I was released from the mad-house. I cast a glance at the woman, which she understood and feared.

"Mention not this subject again, madam, and leave me. I would be alone."

I was disturbed by what the housekeeper had told me. She was dying. It was well. I wished her to die. I felt that until she was dead, my heart could not be brought to forgive her.

I walked out, and bent my steps towards the lodging which Hastings had formerly occupied. I found the woman of the house at home, and, with a calmness which I have since marvelled at, I drew from her all the particulars of their sojourn at her house. They had been  living with her about ten months before the death of Hastings, who, she understood, had been entirely deserted by his relations, but why she knew not. About a month previous to the decease of Hastings, he came home one night, saying that he had been waylaid by a ruffian and much injured, and he had never risen from his bed again.

I ventured to ask "if Mr. Harris and his wife lived happily together?"

The woman shook her head. "There was a strange mystery about them," said she, "which I never could rightly make out. She was ever gentle and obedient; but still there was something unlike a wife, I used to think, whenever she addressed him. And he, sir,—poor man! we should not speak ill of the dead,—but when he came home—from the gaming-house, we often thought—how he used to strike and beat her, telling her to go to her Mr. Saville! He was jealous of you, sir, I suppose, but I am certain without cause; for she was an angel, sir, if ever angel was born upon this earth.—But you are ill, sir. What is the matter?"

"Nothing, nothing," said I, rising suddenly; "I am better now;" and pressing my purse upon the woman, I rushed from the house.

God of justice! how dreadful is thy vengeance, and how thou oft-times makest the sinner work out his own punishment! I thought not of the wife at first,—I thought of Isabella Denham. My heart dwelt upon her once more as I had first beheld her at the theatre,—the young, the lovely, the innocent being of former days. I remembered when but to see her for a moment at the window was happiness unspeakable,—when even the pressure of her hand in mine was a blessing and a delight to me. And to think that this creature, who had lain in my bosom, who had been tended, watched, almost served, with a degree of love akin to idolatry,—who had never seen one glance of unkindness from me, who had heard no tone from my lips save of affection—too often of foolish weakness;—to think that this creature should have become the slave, the drudge,—the spurned and beaten drudge of a brutal miscreant,—the thought was too horrible!

I had scarcely entered my own house when Mrs. Martin sought me.

"For mercy's sake, sir!" she said in agitation, "come and take your last leave of my mistress. She is dying, and has prayed to see you once more."

I followed her in silence. I met Herbert at the door of the room. "I am glad you are come," said he. He was in tears.

"I am too weak, Herbert; am I not?"

He pressed my hand,—"No, no,"—and he left me.

I entered the room, and sat down by her side. She spoke not for some minutes.

"I wished to see you once more, Mr. Saville," she said at length in a low tone, and without raising her eyes to my face, "to implore, not your pardon, for that I dare not expect; but that you will not curse my memory when I am gone. You would not, Edward,"—and she tremblingly touched my hand as it lay upon the bed,—"if you knew all, or if I could tell you all."

I answered something, but I know not what.

"I have been guilty," she resumed, "but I did not meditate guilt. Heaven is my witness that I speak the truth. I was betrayed;—and the rest was fear, and frenzy, and despair!"

I could conceive that now—I could believe it:— I did believe it,—and I was human. I took both her hands in mine: "Look at me, Isabella! look in my face!"

She did so, but with hesitation, and as she did so she started.—"Nay, we are both altered: but other miseries might have done this. I forgive you from my heart and from my soul. As we first met, so shall we now part. All shall be forgotten,—all is forgiven. God bless you!"

Those words had killed her. Her eyes dwelt upon me for one moment with their first sweetness in them;—a sigh,—and earth alone remained!