The Victim of Excitement by Caroline Lee Hentz

Intemperance is a vice which is generally considered of the masculine sex. In the pictured scenes of the ravages it has wrought woman is seldom introduced but as the patient victim of brutality, or as the admonishing angel of transgressing man. There are instances on record, however, of a sad reverse. Not alone in the lower classes of life, amid the dregs of society, but in higher walks, where intelligence, wit, beauty, and wealth, virgin worth, wedded love, and Christian grace, are all cast as unvalued offerings at the beastly shrine of intemperance. One of these fatal examples (of which, to the honour of our sex be it said, there are so few) once came under the observation of the writer. Her character and history form the subject of the following sketch.

Mr. Manly first met Anne Weston in a ball-room. It was on the evening of the Fourth of July, and the fairest ladies of the country were assembled to celebrate the national jubilee. He was a lawyer, and had been the orator of the day; an eloquent one, and therefore entitled to distinguished attention. He came from an adjoining town, of which he had recently become an inhabitant, and now found himself in a scene which scarcely presented one familiar countenance. He was a very proud man, and had the air of one who felt himself too superior to the multitude to mingle in the general amusement. He stood with folded arms, as remote as possible from the dancers despising those who were engaged in that exercise on such a sultry night. In vain the obsequious master of ceremonies begged to introduce him to this and that fair lady. He declined  the honour with a cold bow, declaring his utter disinclination to dancing. He was told that his disinclination would cease as soon as Miss Weston arrived. She was the belle of the place, the daughter of the richest gentleman in town—had received the most finished education, and refused the most splendid offers. In short, she was irresistible, and it was predicted that he would find her so. It cannot be denied, that the fame of this all-conquering lady had previously reached his ears, but unfortunately he had a detestation of belles, and predetermined to close his eyes, and shut his ears, and steel his heart against her vaunted attractions. He had never yet sacrificed his independence to woman. He had placed his standard of female excellence very high. He had seen no one that reached its altitude. "No," said he to himself, "let me live on in singleness of heart and loneliness of purpose, all the days of my life, rather than unite myself with one of those vain, flimsy, garrulous, and superficial beings who win the smiles, and fix the attention of the many. I despise a weak woman, I hate a masculine one, and a pedantic one I abhor. I turn with fear from the glittering belle, whose home is the crowded hall, whose incense the homage of fools, whose altar the shrine of fashion. Can she sit down contented in the privacy of domestic love who has lived on the adulation of the world, or be satisfied with the affection of one true heart, who has claimed as her due, the vows of all? No, better the fool, the pedant, than the belle. Who can find that woman, whose price is above rubies? Ah! 'tis certain I never shall marry." He was aroused from these reflections, by a movement in the hall, and he felt a conviction that the vaunted lady was arrived. In spite of his boasted indifference, he could not repress a slight sensation of curiosity to see one who was represented as so transcendent. But he moved not, he did not even turn his eyes towards the spot where so many were clustering. "The late hour of her arrival," said he, "shows equal vanity and affectation. She evidently wishes to be conspicuous—studies everything for effect." The lady moved towards that part of the hall where he was stationed. She held the arm of one gentleman, and was followed by some half-dozen others. He was compelled to gaze upon her, for they passed so near, the folds of her white muslin dress fluttered against him. He was pleased to see that she was much less beautiful than he had expected. He scarcely thought her handsome. Her complexion was pale, even sallow, and  her face wanted that soft, flowing outline, which is necessary to the perfection of beauty. He could not but acknowledge, however, that her figure was very fine, her motions graceful, and her air spirited and intellectual. "I am glad she is not beautiful," said he, "for I might have been tempted to have admired her, against my sober judgment. Oppressed by the heat of the apartment, he left the hall and sauntered for a long time in the piazza, till a certain feeling of curiosity, to know whether a lady whose bearing expressed so much pride of soul, could be foolish enough to dance, led him to return. The first object he beheld, was the figure of Miss Weston, moving in most harmonious time, to an exhilarating air, her countenance lighted up with an animation, a fire, that had as magical an effect upon her features, as the morning sunbeams on the face of nature. The deepest colour was glowing on her cheek,—her very soul was shining forth from her darkening eyes. She danced with infinite spirit, but equal grace. He had never witnessed anything to compare with it, not even on the stage. "She dances entirely too well," thought he; "she cannot have much intellect, yet she carries on a constant conversation with her partner through all the mazes of the dance. It must be admirable nonsense, from the broad smiles it elicits. I am half resolved to be introduced and invite her to dance—from mere curiosity, and to prove the correctness of my opinion." He sought the introduction, became her partner in the dance, and certainly forgot, while he listened to her "admirable nonsense," that she was that object of his detestation—a belle. Her conversation was sprightly, unstudied, and original. She seemed more eager to listen than to talk, more willing to admire than to be admired. She did not tell him that she admired his oration, but she spoke warmly on the subject of eloquence, and quoted in the happiest manner, a passage of his own speech, one which he himself judged superb. It proved her to have listened with deep attention. He had never received so delicate or gratifying a compliment. His vanity was touched, and his pride slumbered. He called forth those powers of pleasing, with which he was eminently endowed, and he began to feel a dawning ambition to make the conquest of a heart which so many had found indomitable. He admired the simplicity of her dress, its fitness and elegance. A lady's dress is always indicative of her character. Then her voice was singularly persuasive in its tones, it breathed of feminine gentleness and sensibility, with just enough spirit  and independence for a woman. Mr. Manly came to these wise conclusions before the end of the first dance—at the termination of the second, he admired the depth, as well as the brilliancy of her mind, and when he bade her adieu for the night, he was equally convinced of the purity of her feelings and the goodness of her heart. Such is the strength of man's wisdom, the stability of his opinions, the steadiness of his purpose, when placed in competition with the fascinations of a woman who has made the determination to please. In after years Mr. Manly told a friend of a dream which that night haunted his pillow. He was not superstitious, or disposed to attach the slightest importance to dreams. But this was a vivid picture, and succeeding events caused him to recall it, as one having the power of prophecy. He lived over again the events of the evening. The winning accents of Miss Weston mingled in his ear with the gay notes of the violin. Still, ever and anon, discordant sounds marred the sweet harmony. The malicious whisper, the stifled, deriding laugh, and the open scoff came from every corner. Sometimes he saw, through the crowd, the slow finger of scorn pointing at him. As he turned, with a fierce glance of defiance, Miss Weston seemed to meet him still, holding a goblet in her hand, which she pressed him to drain. Her cheeks and lips burned with a scarlet radiance, and her eyes sparkled with unnatural brightness. "Taste it not," whispered a soft voice in his ear, "it is poison." "It is the cup of immortality," exclaimed the syren, and she drained the goblet to its last drop. In a few moments her countenance changed—her face became bloated, her features disfigured, and her eyes heavy and sunken. He turned with disgust from the former enchantress, but she pursued him, she wound her arms around him. In the vain struggle of liberating himself from her embrace, he awoke. It was long before he could overcome the sensation of loathing and horror excited by the unhallowed vision, and even when, overcome by heaviness and exhaustion, he again slept, the same bloated phantom presented her intoxicating draught. The morning found him feverish and unrefreshed. He could not shake off the impression of his dream, and the image of Miss Weston seemed deprived of the witchery that had enthralled his imagination the preceding evening. He was beginning to despise himself, for having yielded up so soon his prejudices and pride, when an invitation to dine at Mr. Weston's, interrupted the severe tenor of his thoughts. Politeness  obliged him to accept, and in the society of Miss Weston, graceful, animated, and intellectual, presiding with unaffected dignity and ease at her father's board, he forgot the hideous metamorphose of his dream.

From that day his fate was sealed. It was the first time his heart had ever been seriously interested, and he loved with all the strength and ardour of his proud and ardent character. The triumph, too, of winning one whom so many had sought in vain, threw a kind of glory over his conquest, and exalted his estimation of his own attributes. The wedding-day was appointed. The evening previous to his nuptials, Anne Weston sat in her own chamber, with one of the chosen friends of her girlhood, Emily Spencer. Anne had no sisters, and from childhood, Emily had stood to her almost in that dear relation. She was to accompany her to her new home, for Anne refused to be separated from her, and had playfully told Mr. Manly, "that if he married her, he must take Emily too, for she could not and would not be parted from her."

The thought of the future occupied the minds of the two friends. Anne sat in silence. The lamp that partially illumined the apartment, gave additional paleness to her pale and spiritual countenance. Her thoughts appeared to have rolled within herself, and, from the gloom of her eye, did not appear to be such as usually rest in the bosom of one about to be wedded to the object of her affection and her trust.

"I fear," said she at length, as if forgetting the presence of her friend, "that I have been too hasty. The very qualities that won my admiration, and determined me to fix his regard, now cause me to tremble. I have been too much accustomed to self-indulgence, to bear restraint, and should it ever be imposed by a master's hand, my rebellious spirit would break the bonds of duty, and assert its independence. I fear I am not formed to be a happy wife, or to constitute the happiness of a husband. I live too much upon excitement, and when the deep monotony of domestic life steals on, what will become of me?"

"How can there be monotony," answered Emily, warmly, "with such a companion as Manly? Oh, trust him, Anne, love him as he merits to be loved, as you yourself are loved, and your lot may be envied among women."

"He has awakened all the capabilities my heart has of loving," cried Anne, "but I wish I could shake off this dull weight from my spirits." She rose as she spoke, approached  a side table, and, turning out a glass of rich cordial, drank it, as if conscious, from experience, of its renovating influence. Emily's anxious gaze followed her movements. A deep sigh escaped her lips. When her friend resumed her seat, she drew nearer to her, she took her hand in hers, and, while her colour heightened, and her breath shortened, she said—

"Anne Weston, I should not deserve the name of friend, if in this hour, the last, perhaps, of unrestrained confidence between us, I did not dare—"

"Dare what?" interrupted Anne, shame and resentment kindling in her eye.

"To tell you, that the habit you indulge in, of resorting to artificial means to exhilarate your spirits, though now attended with no obvious danger, may exercise most fatal influence on your future peace. I have long struggled for resolution to utter this startling truth, and I gather boldness as I speak. By all our friendship and sincerity, by the past splendour of your reputation, by the bright hopes of the future, by the trusting vows of a lover, and the gray hairs of a father, I pray you to relinquish a habit, whose growing strength is now only known to me." Emily paused, strong emotions impeded her utterance. "What is it you fear?" asked Anne, in a low, stern voice; "speak, for you see that I am calm." "You know what I dread," continued Emily. "I see a speck on the bright character of my friend. It may spread and dim all its lustre. We all know the fearful strength of habit, we cannot shake off the serpent when once its coils are around us. Oh, Anne, gifted by nature with such brilliancy of intellect and gayety of heart, why have you ever had recourse to the exciting draught, as if art could exalt the original buoyancy of your spirits, or care had laid his blighting hand upon you?"

"Forbear," cried Anne, impetuously, "and hear me, before you blast me with your contempt. It was not till bitter disappointment pressed, crushed me, that I knew art could renovate the languor of nature. Yes, I, the courted and admired of all, was doomed to love one whose affections I could not win. You knew him well, but you never knew how my ineffectual efforts to attach him maddened my pride, or how the triumph of my beautiful rival goaded my feelings. The world guessed not my secret, for still I laughed and glittered with mocking splendour, but with such a cold void within! I could not bear it. My unnatural spirits failed me. I must  still shine on, or the secret of my humiliation be discovered. I began in despair, but I have accomplished my purpose. And now," added she, "I have done. The necessity of shining and deceiving is over. I thank you for the warmth of friendship that suggested your admonition. But, indeed, Emily, your apprehensions are exaggerated. I have a restraining power within me that must always save me from degradation. Habit, alone, makes slaves of the weak; it becomes the slave of the strong in mind. I know what's due to Manly. He never shall blush for his choice in a wife."

She began with vehemence and ended with deliberation. There was something in the cold composure of her manner that forbid a renewal of the subject. Emily felt that she had fulfilled her duty as a friend, and delicacy commanded her to forbear a renewal of her admonitions. Force of feeling had betrayed her into a warmth of expression she now regretted. She loved Anne, but she looked with many misgivings to being the sharer of her wedded home. She had deeply studied the character of Manly, and trembled to think of the reaction that might one day take place in his mind, should he ever discover the dark spot on the disk of his sun—of his destiny. Though she had told Anne that the secret of her growing love for the exciting draught was known only to herself, it was whispered among the servants, suspected by a few discreet individuals, and had been several times hinted in a private circle of friends. It had never yet reached the ears of Manly, for there was something in his demeanour that repelled the most distant approach to familiarity. He married with the most romantic and enthusiastic ideas of domestic felicity. Were those bright visions of bliss realized? Time, the great disenchanter, alone could answer.

It was about five years after the scenes we have recorded, that Mr. and Mrs. Manly took up their residence in the town of G——. Usually, when strangers are about to become inhabitants of a new place, there is some annunciation of their arrival; but they came, without any previous intimation being given for the speculation of the curious, or bringing any letters of introduction for the satisfaction of the proud. They hired an elegant house, furnished it rich and fashionably, and evidently prepared for the socialities of life, as enjoyed in the highest circles. The appearance of wealth always commands  the respect of the many, and this respect was heightened by their personal claims to admiration. Five years, however, had wrought a change in both, not from the fading touch of time, for they were not of an age when the green leaf begins to grow sere, but other causes were operating with a power as silent and unpausing. The fine, intelligent face of Mrs. Manly had lost much of its delicacy of outline, and her cheek, that formerly was pale or roseate as sensibility or enthusiasm ruled the hour, now wore a stationary glow, deeper than the blush of feminine modesty, less bright than the carnation of health. The unrivalled beauty of her figure had given place to grosser lineaments, over which, however, grace and dignity still lingered, as if unwilling to leave a shrine so worshipped. Mr. Manly's majestic person was invested with an air of deeper haughtiness, and his dark brow was contracted into an expression of prevailing gloom and austerity. Two lovely children, one almost an infant, who were carried abroad every fair day by their nurse, shared the attention their parents excited; and many appealed to her for information respecting the strangers. She was unable to satisfy their curiosity, as she had been a member of their household but a short time, her services having been hired while journeying to the place. The other servants were hired after their arrival. Thus, one of the most fruitful sources from which the inquisitive derive their aliment, was denied to the inhabitants of G——. It was not long before the house of Mr. and Mrs. Manly was frequented by those whose society she most wished to cultivate. The suavity of her manners, the vivacity of her conversation, her politeness and disinterestedness, captivated the hearts of all. Mr. Manly too received his guests with a cordiality that surprised, while it gratified. Awed by the external dignity of his deportment, they expected to be repulsed, rather than welcomed, but it was universally acknowledged, that no man could be more delightful than Mr. Manly, when he chose to unbend. As a lawyer, his fame soon rose. His integrity and eloquence became the theme of every tongue. Amidst all the admiration they excited, there were some dark surmises. The malicious, the censorious, the evil-disposed are found in every circle, and in every land. It was noticed that Mr. Manly watched his wife with painful scrutiny, that she seemed uneasy whenever his glance met hers, that her manner was at times hurried and disturbed, as if some secret cause of sorrow preyed upon her mind. It was settled in the opinion of many, that Mr. Manly  was a domestic tyrant, and that his wife was the meek victim of this despotism. Some suggested that he had been convicted of crime, and had fled from the pursuit of justice, while his devoted wife refused to separate her destiny from his. They gave a large and elegant party. The entertainment was superior to anything witnessed before in the precincts of G——. The graceful hostess, dressed in unwonted splendour, moved through her drawing-rooms, with the step of one accustomed to the homage of crowds, yet her smiles sought out the most undistinguished of her guests, and the most diffident gathered confidence from her condescending regards. Still the eye of Mr. Manly followed her with that anxious, mysterious glance, and her hurried movements often betrayed inexplicable perturbation. In the course of the evening, a gentleman refused wine, on the plea of belonging to the Temperance Society. Many voices were lifted in condemnation against him, for excluding one of the gladdeners of existence, what, the Scriptures themselves recommended, and the Saviour of men had consecrated by a miracle. The subject grew interesting, the circle narrowed round the advocate of Temperance, and many were pressing eagerly forward to listen to the debate. The opinion of Mrs. Manly was demanded. She drew back at first, as if unwilling to take the lead of her guests. At length she seemed warmed by the subject, and painted the evils of intemperance in the strongest and most appalling colours. She painted woman as its victim, till every heart recoiled at the image she drew. So forcible was her language, so impressive her gestures, so unaffected her emotions, every eye was riveted, and every ear bent on the eloquent mourner of her sex's degradation. She paused, oppressed by the notice she attracted, and moved from the circle, that widened for her as she passed, and gazed after her, with as much respect as if she were an Empress. During this spontaneous burst of oratory, Mr. Manly remained aloof, but those who had marked him in their minds as the harsh domestic tyrant, were now confirmed in their belief. Instead of admiring the wonderful talents of his wife, or sympathizing in the applause she excited, a gloom thick as night lowered upon his brow, his face actually grew of a livid paleness, till at last, as if unable to control his temper, he left the drawing-room.

"Poor Mrs. Manly," said one, "how much is her destiny to be lamented! To be united to a man who is incapable of  appreciating her genius, and even seems guilty of the meanness of annoying her."

Thus the world judges; and had the tortured heart of Manly known the sentence that was passing upon him, he would have rejoiced that the shaft was directed to his bosom, rather than hers, which he would fain shield from the proud man's contumely, though it might never more be the resting-place of love and confidence. Is it necessary to go back and relate the history of those years which had elapsed since Anne Weston was presented to the reader as a triumphant belle, and plighted bride! Is it not already seen that the dark speck had enlarged, throwing into gradual, but deepening shade, the soul's original brightness, obscuring the sunshine of domestic joy, converting the home of love into a prison-house of shame, and blighting, chilling, palsying the loftiest energies and noblest purposes? The warning accents of Emily Spencer were breathed in vain. That fatal habit had already become a passion—a passion which, like the rising tide, grows deeper and higher, rolling onward and onward, till the landmarks of reason, and honour, and principle, are swept over by its waves—a tide that ebbs not but with ebbing life. She had looked "upon the wine when it was red, when it gave its colour to the cup," till she found, by fatal experience, that it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. It were vain to attempt a description of the feelings of Manly when he first discovered the idol of his imagination under an influence that, in his opinion, brutalized a man. But a woman!—and that woman—his wife! In the agony, the madness of the moment, he could have lifted the hand of suicide, but Emily Spencer hovered near and held him back from the brink to which he was rushing. She pleaded the cause of her unhappy friend, she prayed him not to cast her off. She dwelt on the bright and sparkling mind, the warm, impulsive heart that might yet be saved from utter degradation by his exerted influence. She pledged herself to labour for him, and with him, and faithfully did she redeem her pledge. After the first terrible shock, Manly's passionate emotion settled down into a misanthropic gloom. Sometimes when he witnessed the remorse which followed such self-abandonment, the grace and beauty with which she would emerge from the disfiguring cloud, and the strong efforts she would make to reinstate herself in his estimation, a ray of brightness would shine in on his mind, and he would try to think of the past as a frightful dream. Then  his prophetic dream would return to him, and he shuddered at its confirmation—once it seemed as if the demon had withdrawn its unhallowed presence, unable to exist in the holy atmosphere that surrounds a mother's bosom.

For a long time the burning essence was not permitted to mingle with the fountain of maternal tenderness. Even Manly's blasted spirit revived, and Emily hoped all, and believed all. But Anne had once passed the Rubicon, and though she often paused and looked back with yearnings that could not be uttered, upon the fair bounds she had left, the very poignancy of her shame goaded her on, though every step she took, evidenced the shame that was separating her from the affections of a husband whom she loved and respected, and who had once idolized her. It has been said that when woman once becomes a transgressor, her rapid progress in sin mocks the speed of man. As the glacier, that has long shone in dazzling purity, when loosened from its mountain stay, rushes down with a velocity accelerated by its impenetrability and coldness, when any shameful passion has melted the virgin snow of a woman's character, a moral avalanche ensues, destroying "whatsoever is venerable and lovely, and of good report."

Manly occasionally sought to conceal from the world the fatal propensities of his wife. She had occupied too conspicuous a station in society—she had been too highly exalted—to humble herself with impunity. Her father, whose lavish indulgence probably paved the way to her ruin, was unable to bear himself up under the weight of mortification and grief thus unexpectedly brought upon him. His constitution had long been feeble; and now the bowl was, indeed, broken at the fountain. The filial hand which he once hoped would have scattered roses on his dying pillow, struck the deathblow. Physicians talked of a chronic disease; of the gradual decay of nature; but Anne's conscience told her she had winged the dart. The agony of her remorse seemed a foretaste of the quenchless fire, and the undying worm. She made the most solemn promises of reformation—vowed never again to taste the poisonous liquor. She threw herself on the forgiveness of her husband, and prayed him to remove her where her name was never breathed; that she might begin life anew, and establish for their children an unblemished reputation. On the faith of these ardent resolutions, Manly broke his connexion with every former friend—sold all his  possessions, and sought a new home, in a place far removed from the scene of their present unhappiness. Circumstances in her own family prevented Emily Spencer from accompanying them, but she was to follow them the earliest opportunity, hoping miracles from the change.

Mrs Manly, from the death of her father, came into the possession of a large and independent fortune. She was not sordid enough to deem money an equivalent for a wounded reputation; but it was soothing to her pride, to be able to fill her husband's coffers so richly, and to fit up their new establishment in a style so magnificent. Manly allowed her to exercise her own taste in everything. He knew the effect of external pomp, and thought it was well to dazzle the judgment of the world. He was determined to seek society; to open every source of gratification and rational excitement to his wife, to save her from monotony and solitude. His whole aim seemed to be, "that she might not be led into temptation." If with all these cares for her safety, he could have blended the tenderness that once softened his proud manners, could he have banished from his once beaming eye the look of vigilance and distrust; could she have felt herself once more enthroned in his heart, gratitude might, perhaps, have completed the regeneration begun by remorse. But Anne felt that she was an object of constant suspicion and fear; she felt that he had not faith in her good resolutions. She was no longer the sharer of his counsels—the inspirer of his hopes—or the companion in whom his soul delighted. His ruling passion supported him in society; but in those hours when they were necessarily thrown upon each other's resources, he was accustomed to sit in gloomy abstraction, brooding over his own melancholy thoughts. Anne was only too conscious of the subject of these reveries, and it kept alive a painful sense of her humiliation. She had, hitherto, kept her promise sacred, through struggles known only to herself, and she began to feel impatient and indignant that the reward for which she looked was still withheld. Had she been more deeply skilled in the mysteries of the human heart, she might have addressed the Genius of the household shrine, in the language of the avenging Moor, who first apostrophizes the torch that flares on his deed of darkness:

"If I quench thee, thou flaming minister,

I can again thy former light restore,

Should I repent me—but once put out thine,

I know not where is the Promethean heat

That can thy light relume."

Mr. Manly was called away by professional business, which would probably detain him many weeks from home. He regretted this necessity; particularly before the arrival of Emily, whose coming was daily expected. He urged his wife to invite some friends to remain as her guests during his absence, to enliven her solitude. His request, so earnestly repeated, might have been gratifying to her feelings, if she had not known the distrust of her faith and strength of resolution it implied. The last words he said to her, at parting, were, "Remember, Anne, everything depends on yourself." She experienced a sensation of unspeakable relief in his absence. The eagle glance was withdrawn from her soul, and it expanded and exulted in its newly acquired freedom. She had a constant succession of visiters, who, remarking the elasticity of her spirits, failed not to cast additional obloquy on Mr. Manly, for the tyranny he evidently exercised over his wife. Emily did not arrive, and Mrs. Manly could not regret the delay. Her presence reminded her of all she wished to forget; for her days of triumph were returned, and the desire of shining rekindled from the ashes of scorn, that had for a while smothered the flame.

It wanted about a week of Mr. Manly's return. She felt a strong inclination to renew the splendours of her party. She had received so many compliments on the subject:—"Mrs. Manly's delightful party!" "Her conversational powers!" "Such a literary banquet!" &c. Invitations were given and accepted. The morning of the day, which was somewhat warm and oppressive, she was summoned by the kitchen council, where the business of preparation was going on. Suddenly, however, they came to a stand. There was no brandy to give flavour to the cake; and the cook declared it was impossible to make it without, or to use anything as a substitute.

Mrs. Manly's cheeks flushed high with shame. Her husband had retained the key of the closet that contained the forbidden article. He was afraid to trust it in her keeping. The mildest cordials were alone left at her disposal, for the entertainment of her guests. What would her husband think if she purchased, in his absence, what he had himself secreted from her? What would the servants believe if she refused to provide  them with what was deemed indispensable? The fear of her secret being detected, combined with resentment at her husband's unyielding distrust, decided her conduct. She bought—she tasted. The cook asserted there was something peculiar in its flavour, and asked her to judge for herself. Would it not excite suspicion, if she refused? She broke her solemn vow—she tasted—and was undone. The burning thirst once kindled, in those who have been victims to this fatal passion, it rages with the strength of madness. In the secrecy of the closet where she hid the poison, she yielded to the tempter, who whispered, that, as she had been compelled to taste, her promise had been innocently broken: there could be no harm in a little more—the last that should ever pass her lips. In the delirium of the moment, she yielded, till, incapable of self-control, she continued the inebriating draught. Judgment—reason—at length, perception, vanished. The approach of evening found her still prostrate on her bed, a melancholy instance of the futility of the best human resolutions, unsupported by the divine principle of religion. The servants were at first struck with consternation. They thought some sudden disease had overtaken her. But the marks of intemperance, that, like the brand on the brow of Cain, single out its votaries from the rest of mankind, those revolting traces, were but too visible. They knew not what to do. Uncertain what guests were invited, they could not send apologies, nor ask them to defer their visit. The shades of evening were beginning to fall; the children were crying, deprived of the usual cares of their nurse; and in the general bustle, clung to their mother, whose ear was deaf to the appeal of nature. The little one, weary of shedding so many unavailing tears, at last crawled up on the bed, and fell asleep by her side, though there was scarcely room for her to stretch her little limbs, where she had found the means of climbing. As her slumbers deepened, her limbs relaxed from the rigid posture they had assumed: her arms dropped unconsciously over the bed, and she fell. In her fall she was thrown against one of the posts, and a sharp corner cutting her head, inflicted a deep wound. The screams of the little sufferer roused the household, and pierced even the leaden slumbers of intemperance. It was long, however, before Mrs. Manly came to a clear perception of what was passing around her. The sight of the streaming blood, however, acted like a shock of electricity. She sprang up, and endeavoured to stanch the bleeding wound. The effusion  was soon stopped; the child sunk into a peaceful sleep, and the alarm subsided.

Children are liable to so many falls, and bruises, and wounds, it is not strange that Mrs. Manly, in the confused state of her mind, should soon forget the accident, and try to prepare herself for the reception of her guests, who were already assembling in the drawing-room. Every time the bell rung, she started, with a thrill of horror, conscious how unfit she was to sustain the enviable reputation she had acquired. Her head ached almost to bursting, her hands trembled, and a deadly sickness oppressed her. The visions of an upbraiding husband, a scoffing world, rose before her—and dim, but awful, in the dark perspective, she seemed to behold the shadow of a sin-avenging Deity. Another ring—the guests were thronging. Unhappy woman! What was to be done? She would have pleaded sudden indisposition—the accident of her child—but the fear that the servants would reveal the truth—the hope of being able to rally her spirits—determined her to descend into the drawing-room. As she cast a last hurried glance into the mirror, and saw the wild, haggard countenance it reflected, she recoiled at her own image. The jewels with which she had profusely adorned herself, served but to mock the ravages the destroying scourge had made upon her beauty. No cosmetic art could restore the purity of her complexion; nor the costliest perfumes conceal the odour of the fiery liquor. She called for a glass of cordial—kindled up a smile of welcome, and descended to perform the honours of her household. She made a thousand apologies for her delay; related, in glowing colours, the accident that happened to her child, and flew from one subject to another, as if she feared to trust herself with a pause. There was something so unnatural in her countenance, so overstrained in her manner, and so extravagant in her conversation, it was impossible for the company not to be aware of her situation. Silent glances were exchanged, low whispers passed round; but they had no inclination to lose the entertainment they anticipated. They remembered the luxuries of her table, and hoped, at least, if not a "feast of reason," a feast of the good things of earth.

It was at this crisis Emily Spencer arrived. Her travelling dress, and the fatigue of a journey, were sufficient excuses for her declining to appear in the drawing-room; but the moment she saw Mrs. Manly, her eye, too well experienced, perceived  the backsliding of Anne, and hope died within her bosom. Sick at heart, wounded, and indignant, she sat down in the chamber where the children slept—those innocent beings, doomed to an orphanage more sad than death even makes. Anne's conscious spirit quailed before the deep reproach of Emily's silent glances. She stammered out an explanation of the bloody bandage that was bound around the infant's, head, assured her there was no cause of alarm, and hurried down to the friends who had passed the period of her absence in covert sarcasm, and open animadversion on her conduct.

Emily sat down on the side of the bed, and leaned over the sleeping infant. Though Mrs. Manly had assured her there was no cause of alarm, she felt there was no reliance on her judgment; and the excessive paleness and languor of its countenance, excited an anxiety its peaceful slumbers could not entirely relieve. "It is all over," thought she, "a relapse in sin is always a thousand times more dangerous than the first yielding. She is at this moment blazoning her disgrace, and there will be no restraining influence left. Oh! unfortunate Manly! was it for this you sacrificed home, friends, and splendid prospects, and came a stranger to a strange land!" Absorbed in the contemplation of Manly's unhappy destiny, she remained till the company dispersed, and Mrs. Manly dragged her weary footsteps to her chamber. Completely exhausted by her efforts to command her bewildered faculties, she threw herself on the bed, and sunk into a lethargy; the natural consequence of inebriation. The infant, disturbed by the sudden motion, awakened, with a languid cry, expressive of feebleness and pain. Emily raised it in her arms, endeavoured to soothe its complaining; but it continued restless and wailing, till the blood gushed afresh through the bandage. Greatly alarmed, she shook Mrs. Manly's arm, and called upon her to awake. It was in vain; she could not rouse her from her torpor. Instantly ringing the bell, she summoned the nurse, who was revelling, with the other servants, over the relics of the feast, and told her to send immediately for a physician. Fortunately there was one in the neighbourhood, and he came speedily. He shook his head mournfully when he examined the condition of the child, and pronounced its case beyond the reach of human skill. The injury produced by the fall had reached the brain. The very depth of its slumbers was but a fatal symptom of approaching dissolution. The tears of Emily fell  fast and thick on the pallid face of the innocent victim. She looked upon its mother—thought upon its father, and pressed the child in agony to her bosom. The kind physician was summoned to another chamber of sickness. He had done all he could to mitigate, where he could not heal. Emily felt that this dispensation was sent in mercy. She could not pray for the child's life, but she prayed that it might die in the arms of its father; and it seemed that her prayer was heard. It was a singular providence that brought him that very night—a week sooner than he anticipated—urged on by a restless presentiment of evil; a dread that all was not well. Imagination, however, had not pictured the scene that awaited him. His wife, clothed in her richest raiments, and glittering with jewels, lying in the deep torpor of inebriation. Emily, seated by the side of the bed, bathed in tears, holding in her lap the dying infant, her dress stained with the blood with which the fair locks of the child were matted. What a spectacle! He stood for a moment on the threshold of the apartment, as if a bolt had transfixed him. Emily was not roused from her grief by the sound of his footsteps, but she saw the shadow that darkened the wall, and at once recognised his lineaments. The startling cry she uttered brought him to her side, where, kneeling down over his expiring infant, he gazed on its altering features and quivering frame with a countenance so pale and stern, Emily's blood ran cold. Silently and fixedly he knelt, while the deepening shades of dissolution gathered over the beautiful waxen features and the dark film grew over the eyes, so lately bright with that heavenly blue, which is alone seen in the eyes of infancy. He inhaled its last, cold, struggling breath; saw it stretched in the awful immobility of death; then slowly rising, he turned towards the gaudy figure that lay as if in mockery of the desolation it had created. Then Manly's imprisoned spirit burst its bonds. He grasped his wife's arm, with a strength that might have been felt, even were her limbs of steel, and calling forth her name in a voice deep and thrilling as the trumpet's blast, he commanded her to rise. With a faint foretaste of the feeling with which the guilty soul shall meet the awakening summons of the archangel, the wretched woman raised herself on her elbow, and gazed around her with a wild and glassy stare. "Woman," cried he, still retaining his desperate grasp, and pointing to the dead child, extended on the lap of the weeping Emily, "woman! is this your work? Is this the welcome  you have prepared for my return? Oh! most perjured wife and most abandoned mother! You have filled, to overflowing, the vials of indignation; on your own head shall they be poured, blasting and destroying. You have broken the last tie that bound me—it withers like flax in the flame. Was it not enough to bring down the gray hairs of your father to the grave? to steep your own soul in perjury and shame, but that fair innocent must be a sacrifice to your drunken revels? One other victim remains. Your husband—who lives to curse the hour he ever yielded to a syren, who lured him to the brink of hell!"

He paused suddenly—relaxed his iron hold, and fell back perfectly insensible. It is an awful thing to see man fall down in his strength, struck, too, by the lightning of passion. Anne sprang upon her feet. The benumbing spell was broken. His last words had reached her naked soul. She believed him dead, and that he had indeed died her victim. Every other thought and feeling was swallowed up in this belief; she threw herself by his side, uttering the most piercing shrieks, and rending her sable tresses, in the impotence of despair. Poor Emily! it was for her a night of horror; but her fortitude and presence of mind seemed to increase with the strength of the occasion. She turned her cares from the dead to the living. She bathed with restorative waters the pale brow of Manly; she chafed his cold hands, till their icy chill began to melt in the warmth of returning animation. All the while his wretched wife continued her useless and appalling ravings.

The morning dawned upon a scene of desolation. In one darkened room lay the snowy corpse, dressed in the white garments of the grave; in another, the almost unconscious Manly, in the first stages of a burning fever; Anne, crouched in a dark corner, her face buried in her hands; and Emily, pale and wan, but energetic and untiring, still the ministering and healing spirit of this house of grief. Yes! darkness and mourning was in that house; but the visitation of God had not come upon it: Pestilence had not walked in the darkness, nor Destruction, at the noon-day hour. Had Anne resisted the voice of the tempter, her child might have still smiled in his cherub beauty; her husband might have still presided at his board, and she, herself, at his side; if not in the sunshine of love, in the light of increasing confidence. Her frame was worn by the long, silent struggles of contending passions, hopes, and fears. This last blow prostrated her in  the dust. Had Anne resisted the voice of the tempter, all might yet have been well; but having once again steeped her lips in the pollution, the very consciousness of her degradation plunged her deeper in sin. She fled from the writhing of remorse to the oblivious draught. She gave herself up, body and soul, irredeemably. She was hurrying on, with fearful strides, to that brink from which so many immortal beings have plunged into the fathomless gulf of perdition.

Manly rose from the couch of sickness an altered man: his proud spirit was humbled—chastened—purified. Brought to the confines of the unseen world, he was made to feel the vanity—the nothingness of this—and while his soul seemed floating on the shoreless ocean of eternity, the billows of human passion sunk before the immensity, the awfulness of the scene. The holy resolutions, formed on what he believed his death-bed, did not vanish with returning health. He saw the bitter cup prepared for him to drain, and though he prayed that it might be permitted to pass from him, he could say, in the resignation of his heart, "Not my will, oh, Father! but thine be done." He looked upon his degraded wife rather with pity, than indignation. He no longer reproached her, or used the language of denunciation. But sometimes, in her lucid intervals, when she witnessed the subdued expression of his once haughty countenance—his deep paleness—the mildness of his deportment to all around him; the watchful guard he held over his own spirit; and all this accompanied by an energy in action—a devotedness in duty—such as she had never seen before—Anne trembled, and felt that he had been near unto his Maker, while she was holding closer and closer companionship with the powers of darkness. The wall of separation she had been building up between them, was it to become high as the heavens—deep as the regions of irremediable woe?

Emily was no longer their guest. While Manly lingered between life and death, she watched over him with all a sister's tenderness. Insensible to fatigue—forgetful of sleep—and regardless of food, she was sustained by the intensity of her anxiety; but as soon as his renovated glance could answer her attentions with speechless gratitude, and he became conscious of the cares that had done more than the physician's skill in bringing him back to life, she gradually yielded to others the place she had occupied as nurse—that place, which she who should have claimed it as her right, was incapacitated to fill.  When Manly was restored to health, Emily felt that she could no longer remain. There was no more fellowship with Anne; and the sympathy that bound her to her husband she could not, with propriety, indulge. Manly, himself, did not oppose her departure; he felt it was best she should go. She took with her the little Anne, with the grateful consent of her father. The opposition of the mother was not allowed to triumph over what Manly knew was for the blessing of his child. "Let her go," said he, mildly, but determinately; "she will not feel the want of a mother's care."

It was a dark and tempestuous night. The winds of autumn swept against the windows, with the mournful rustle of the withered leaves, fluttering in the blast: the sky was moonless and starless. Everything abroad presented an aspect of gloom and desolation. Even those who were gathered in the halls of pleasure, felt saddened by the melancholy sighing of the gust; and a cold, whispered mortality breathed into the hearts of the thoughtless and gay. It was on this night that Manly sat by the dying couch of Anne. Every one is familiar with the rapid progress of disease, when it attacks the votary of intemperance. The burning blood soon withers up the veins; the fountain, itself, becomes dry. Fearfully rapid, in this instance, had been the steps of the destroyer. Here she lay, her frame tortured with the agonies of approaching dissolution, and her spirit strong and clear from the mists that had so long and so fatally obscured it. She saw herself in that mirror which the hand of truth holds up to the eye of the dying. Memory, which acquires, at that awful moment, such supernatural power, brought before her all the past—the wasted past—the irretrievable past. Her innocent childhood—her bright and glowing youth; her blasted womanhood, seemed embodied to her eyes. Her father rose from his grave, and standing by her bedside, waving his mournful locks, warned her of her broken oath. Her little infant, with his fair hair dabbled with blood, came gliding in its shroud, and accused her of being its murderer. Her husband! As her frenzied spirit called up this last image, she turned her dim eye to him, who was hanging over her couch with a countenance of such grief and compassion, the dry agony of her despair softened into a gush of remorseful tenderness: "Oh! no—no!" cried she, in difficult accents, "you do not curse me; you live to  pardon the wretch who has undone herself and you. Oh! could I live over the past; could I carry back to our bridal the experience of this awful hour, what long years of happiness might be ours!"

The recollection of what she had been—of what she might have been—contrasted with what she then was, and with what she still might be, was too terrible. Her agonies became wordless. Manly knelt by her side: he sought to soothe her departing spirit by assurances of his own pardon; and to lead her, by penitence and prayer, to the feet of Him, "in whose sight the heavens are not clean." He poured into her soul the experience of his, when he had travelled to the boundaries of the dark valley: his despair—his penitence, and his hopes. He spoke of the mercy that is boundless—the grace that is infinite—till the phantoms, accusing conscience called up, seemed to change their maledictions into prayers for her behalf. Her ravings gradually died away, and she sunk into a troubled sleep.

As Manly gazed upon her features, on which death was already fixing its dim, mysterious impress,—those features whose original beauty was so fearfully marred by the ravages of intemperance,—the waters of time rolled back, and revealed that green, enchanted spot in life's waste, where he was first gilded by her presence. Was that the form whose graceful movements then fascinated his senses; or those the eyes, whose kindling glances had flashed like a glory over his soul? The love, then so idolatrous and impassioned—so long crushed and buried—rose up from the ruins to hallow the vigils of that solemn night.

The morning dawned, but the slumbers of Anne were never to be broken, till the resurrection morn. In the bloom of life—the midst of affluence—with talents created to exalt society, and graces to adorn it; a heart full of warm and generous impulses; a husband as much the object of her pride as of her affections; children, lovely in their innocence, she fell a sacrifice to one brutalizing passion. Seldom, indeed, is it that woman, in the higher walks of life, presents such a melancholy example; but were there but one, and that one Anne Weston, let her name be revealed, as a beacon, whose warning light should be seen by the daughters of the land.

Another year glided by. The approach of another autumn,  found Manly girded for enterprise. He had marked out a new path, and was about to become a dweller of a young and powerful city, born on one of the mighty rivers of the West. His child could there grow up, unwithered by the associations of her mother's disgrace. Amidst the hopes and anticipations gathering around a new home, in a new land, his own spirit might shake off the memories that oppressed its energies. He was still young. The future might offer something of brightness, to indemnify for the darkness of the past.

He once more sought the native place of his unhappy wife; for his child was there, under the cherishing care of Emily Spencer. He passed that ball-room, in whose illuminated walls his destiny was sealed. The chamber selected for the traveller's resting-place was the one where the prophetic dream had haunted his pillow. His brow was saddened by the gloom of remembrance, when he entered the dwelling-place of his child; but when he saw the bright, beautiful little creature, who sprang into his arms, with spontaneous rapture, and witnessed the emotion that Emily strove vainly to conquer, he felt he was not alone in the world: and the future triumphed over the past. He unfolded all his views, and described the new scenes in which he was soon to become an actor, with reviving eloquence.

"Are you going to carry me there too, father?" said the little girl, whose earnest blue eyes were riveted on his face.

"Are you not willing to go with me, my child? or must I leave you behind?"

"I should like to go, if you will take Emily, but I cannot leave her behind," cried the affectionate child, clinging to that beloved friend, who had devoted herself to her with all a mother's tenderness.

"We will not leave her," exclaimed Manly, a warm glow spreading over his melancholy features, "if she will go with us, and bless our western home."

Emily turned pale, but she did not speak—she could not, if her existence had depended upon it. She was no sickly sentimentalist, but she had ardent affections, though always under the government of upright principles. Her mind was well balanced, and though passion might enter, it was never suffered to gain the ascendancy. From her earliest acquaintance with Manly, she had admired his talents, and respected his character; but the idea of loving the husband of her friend, never entered her pure imagination. It was not till she saw  him borne down by domestic sorrow, on the bed of sickness, thrown by the neglect of his wife on her tenderness and care, that she felt the danger and depth of her sympathy. The moment she became aware of her involuntary departure from integrity of feeling she fled, and in the tranquillity of her own home, devoted to his child the love she shuddered to think began to flow in an illegitimate channel. That Manly ever cherished any sentiments towards her, warmer than those of esteem and gratitude, she did not believe, but now he came before her, freed by heaven from the shackles that bound him, and duty no longer opposed its barrier to her affections, her heart told her she could follow him to the ends of the earth, and deem its coldest, darkest region, a Paradise, if warmed and illumed by his love! The simplicity of childhood had unveiled the hearts of each to the other. It was not with the romance of his earlier passion that Manly now wooed Emily Spencer to be his wife. It was love, approved by reason, and sanctified by religion. It was the Christian, seeking a fellow labourer in the work of duty; the father, yearning for a mother to watch over an orphan child—the man awakened to the loftiest, holiest purposes of his being.

In a beautiful mansion, looking down on one of the most magnificent landscapes unfolded in the rich valley of the West, Manly and Emily now reside. All the happiness capable of being enjoyed around the household shrine is theirs—and the only shade that ever dims their brows, is caused by the remembrance of the highly gifted—but ill-fated Anne.