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A Simple Story
by Mrs. Inchbald
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"Oh spare the dreadful picture.—Fly from my sight for ever! Detest my name! Oh! my dear Miss Woodley, let but his friendship for me still remain, and I will consent to any thing. You may command me. I will go away from him directly—but let us part in friendship—Oh! without the friendship of Mr. Dorriforth, life would be a heavy burthen indeed."

Miss Woodley immediately began to contrive schemes for their separation; and, with all her invention alive on the subject, the following was the only natural one that she could form.

Miss Milner, in a letter to her distant relation at Bath, was to complain of the melancholy of a country life, which she was to say her guardian imposed upon her; and she was to entreat the lady to send a pressing invitation that she would pass a month or two at her house; this invitation was to be laid before Dorriforth for his approbation, and the two ladies were to enforce it, by expressing their earnest wishes for his consent. This plan having been properly regulated, the necessary letter was sent to Bath, and Miss Woodley waited with patience, but with a watchful guard upon the conduct of her friend, till the answer should arrive.

During this interim a tender and complaining epistle from Lord Frederick was delivered to Miss Milner; to which, as he received no answer, he prevailed upon his uncle, with whom he resided, to wait upon her, and obtain a verbal reply; for he still flattered himself, that fear of her guardian's anger, or perhaps his interception of the letter which he had sent, was the sole cause of her apparent indifference.

The old gentleman was introduced both to Miss Milner and to Mr. Dorriforth, but received from each an answer so explicit, that left his nephew no longer in doubt but that all farther pursuit was vain.

Sir Edward Ashton about this time also submitted to a formal dismission; and had the mortification to reflect, that he was bestowing upon the object of his affections, the tenderest proof of his regard, by absenting himself entirely from her society.

Upon this serious and certain conclusion to the hopes of Lord Frederick, Dorriforth was more astonished than ever at the conduct of his ward. He had once thought her behaviour in this respect was ambiguous, but since her confession of a passion for that nobleman, he had no doubt but in the end she would become his wife. He lamented to find himself mistaken, and thought it proper now to condemn her caprice, not merely in words, but in the general tenor of his behaviour. He consequently became more reserved, and more austere than he had been since his first acquaintance with her; for his manners, not from design, but imperceptibly to himself, had been softened since he became her guardian, by that tender respect which he had uniformly paid to the object of his protection.

Notwithstanding the severity he now assumed, his ward, in the prospect of parting from him, grew melancholy; Miss Woodley's love to her friend rendered her little otherwise; and Dorriforth's peculiar gravity, frequently rigour, could not but make their whole party less cheerful than it had been. Lord Elmwood too, at this time was lying dangerously ill of a fever; Miss Fenton of course was as much in sorrow as her nature would permit her to be, and both Sandford and Dorriforth in extreme concern upon his Lordship's account.

In this posture of affairs, the letter of invitation arrives from Lady Luneham at Bath; it was shewn to Dorriforth; and to prove to his ward that he is so much offended, as no longer to feel that excessive interest in her concerns which he once felt, he gives an opinion on the subject with indifference—he desires "Miss Milner will do what she herself thinks proper." Miss Woodley instantly accepts this permission, writes back, and appoints the day upon which her friend means to set off for the visit.

Miss Milner is wounded at the heart by the cold and unkind manners of her guardian, but dares not take one step to retrieve his opinion. Alone, or to her friend, she sighs and weeps: he discovers her sorrow, and is doubtful whether the departure of Lord Frederick from that part of the country is not the cause.

When the time she was to set out for Bath was only two days off, the behaviour of Dorriforth took, by degrees, its usual form, if not a greater share of polite and tender attention than ever. It was the first time he had parted from Miss Milner since he became her guardian, and he felt upon the occasion, a reluctance. He had been angry with her, he had shewn her that he was, and he now began to wish that he had not. She is not happy, (he considered within himself) every word and action declares she is not; I may have been too severe, and added perhaps to her uneasiness. "At least we will part on good terms," said he—"Indeed, my regard for her is such, I cannot part otherwise."

She soon discerned his returning kindness, and it was a gentle tie that would have fastened her to that spot for ever, but for the firm resistance of Miss Woodley.

"What will the absence of a few months effect?" said she, pleading her own cause; "At the end of a few months at farthest, he will expect me back, and where then will be the merit of this separation?"

"In that time," replied Miss Woodley, "we may find some method to make it longer." To this she listened with a kind of despair, but uttered, she "Was resigned,"—and she prepared for her departure.

Dorriforth was all anxiety that every circumstance of her journey should be commodious; he was eager she should be happy; and he was eager she should see that he entirely forgave her. He would have gone part of the way with her, but for the extreme illness of Lord Elmwood, in whose chamber he passed most of the day, and slept in Elmwood House every night.

On the morning of her journey, when Dorriforth gave his hand and conducted Miss Milner to the carriage, all the way he led her she could not restrain her tears; which increased, as he parted from her, to convulsive sobs. He was affected by her grief; and though he had previously bid her farewell, he drew her gently on one side, and said, with the tenderest concern,

"My dear Miss Milner, we part friends?—I hope we do?—On my side, depend upon it, that I regret nothing so much at our separation, as having ever given you a moment's pain."

"I believe so," was all she could utter, for she hastened from him, lest his discerning eye should discover the cause of the weakness which thus overcame her. But her apprehensions were groundless; the rectitude of his own heart was a bar to the suspicion of her's. He once more kindly bade her adieu, and the carriage drove away.

Miss Fenton and Miss Woodley accompanied her part of the journey, about thirty miles, where they were met by Sir Harry and Lady Luneham. Here was a parting nearly as affecting as that between her and her guardian. Miss Woodley, who for several weeks had treated her friend with a rigidness she herself hardly supposed was in her nature, now bewailed that she had done so; implored her forgiveness; promised to correspond with her punctually, and to omit no opportunity of giving her every consolation short of cherishing her fatal passion—but in that, and that only, was the heart of Miss Milner to be consoled.

END OF THE FIRST VOLUME.



A

SIMPLE STORY,

IN FOUR VOLUMES,

BY

MRS. INCHBALD.

VOL. II.

THE FOURTH EDITION.

LONDON:

Printed for G. G. and J. ROBINSON, PATERNOSTER ROW.

1799.



A SIMPLE STORY



CHAPTER I.

When Miss Milner arrived at Bath, she thought it the most altered place she had ever seen—she was mistaken—it was herself that was changed.

The walks were melancholy, the company insipid, the ball-room fatiguing—for, she had left behind all that could charm or please her.

Though she found herself much less happy than when she was at Bath before, yet she felt, that she would not, even to enjoy all that past happiness, be again reduced to the being she was at that period. Thus does the lover consider the extinction of his passion with the same horror as the libertine looks upon annihilation; the one would rather live hereafter, though in all the tortures described as constituting his future state, than cease to exist; so, there are no tortures which a lover would not suffer, rather than cease to love.

In the wide prospect of sadness before her, Miss Milner's fancy caught hold of the only comfort which presented itself; and this, faint as it was, in the total absence of every other, her imagination painted to her as excessive. The comfort was a letter from Miss Woodley—a letter, in which the subject of her love would most assuredly be mentioned, and in whatever terms, it would still be the means of delight.

A letter arrived—she devoured it with her eyes. The post mark denoting from whence it came, the name of "Milner Lodge" written on the top, were all sources of pleasure—and she read slowly every line it contained, to procrastinate the pleasing expectation she enjoyed, till she should arrive at the name of Dorriforth. At last, her impatient eye caught the word, three lines beyond the place she was reading—irresistibly, she skipped over those lines, and fixed on the point to which she was attracted.

Miss Woodley was cautious in her indulgence; she made the slightest mention of Dorriforth; saying only, "He was extremely concerned, and even dejected, at the little hope there was of his cousin, Lord Elmwood's, recovery." Short and trivial as this passage was, it was still more important to Miss Milner than any other in the letter—she read it again and again, considered, and reflected upon it. Dejected, thought she, what does that word exactly mean?—did I ever see Mr. Dorriforth dejected?—how, I wonder, does he look in that state? Thus did she muse, while the cause of his dejection, though a most serious one, and pathetically described by Miss Woodley, scarce arrested her attention once. She ran over with haste the account of Lord Elmwood's state of health; she certainly pitied him while she thought of him, but she did not think of him long. To die, was a hard fate for a young nobleman just in possession of his immense fortune, and on the eve of marriage with a beautiful young woman; but Miss Milner thought that an abode in Heaven might be still better than all this, and she had no doubt but his Lordship would go thither. The forlorn state of Miss Fenton ought to have been a subject for compassion, but she knew that lady had resignation to bear any lot with patience, and that a trial of her fortitude might be more flattering to her vanity than to be Countess of Elmwood: in a word, she saw no one's misfortunes equal to her own, because she saw no one so little able to bear misfortune.

She replied to Miss Woodley's letter, and dwelt very long on that subject which her friend had passed over lightly; this was another indulgence; and this epistolary intercourse was now the only enjoyment she possessed. From Bath she paid several visits with Lady Luneham—all were alike tedious and melancholy.

But her guardian wrote to her, and though it was on a topic of sorrow, the letter gave her joy—the sentiments it expressed were merely common-place, yet she valued them as the dearest effusions of friendship and affection; and her hands trembled, and her heart beat with rapture while she wrote the answer, though she knew it would not be received by him with one emotion like those which she experienced. In her second letter to Miss Woodley, she prayed like a person insane to be taken home from confinement, and like a lunatic protested, in sensible language, she "Had no disorder." But her friend replied, "That very declaration proves its violence." And she assured her, nothing less than placing her affections elsewhere, should induce her to believe but that she was incurable.

The third letter from Milner Lodge brought the news of Lord Elmwood's death. Miss Woodley was exceedingly affected by this event, and said little else on any other subject. Miss Milner was shocked when she read the words "He is dead", and instantly thought,

"How transient are all sublunary things! Within a few years I shall be dead—and how happy will it then be, if I have resisted every temptation to the alluring pleasures of this life!" The happiness of a peaceful death occupied her contemplation for near an hour; but at length, every virtuous and pious sentiment this meditation inspired, served but to remind her of the many sentences she had heard from her guardian's lips upon the same subject—her thoughts were again fixed on him, and she could think of nothing besides.

In a short time after this, her health became impaired from the indisposition of her mind; she languished, and was once in imminent danger. During a slight delirium of her fever, Miss Woodley's name and her guardian's were incessantly repeated; Lady Luneham sent them immediate word of this, and they both hastened to Bath, and arrived there just as the violence and danger of her disorder had ceased. As soon as she became perfectly recollected, her first care, knowing the frailty of her heart, was to enquire what she had uttered while delirious. Miss Woodley, who was by her bedside, begged her not to be alarmed on that account, and assured her she knew, from all her attendants, that she had only spoken with a friendly remembrance (as was really the case) of those persons who were dear to her.

She wished to know whether her guardian was come to see her, but she had not the courage to ask before her friend; and she in her turn was afraid by the too sudden mention of his name, to discompose her. Her maid, however, after some little time, entered the chamber, and whispered Miss Woodley. Miss Milner asked inquisitively "What she said?"

The maid replied softly, "Lord Elmwood, Madam, wishes to come and see you for a few moments, if you will allow him."

At this reply Miss Milner stared wildly.

"I thought," said she, "I thought Lord Elmwood had been dead—are my senses disordered still?"

"No, my dear," answered Miss Woodley, "it is the present Lord Elmwood who wishes to see you; he whom you left ill when you came hither, is dead."

"And who is the present Lord Elmwood?" she asked.

Miss Woodley, after a short hesitation, replied—"Your guardian."

"And so he is," cried Miss Milner; "he is the next heir—I had forgot. But is it possible that he is here?"

"Yes—" returned Miss Woodley with a grave voice and manner, to moderate that glow of satisfaction which for a moment sparkled even in her languid eye, and blushed over her pallid countenance. "Yes—as he heard you were ill, he thought it right to come and see you."

"He is very good," she answered, and the tear started in her eyes.

"Would you please to see his Lordship?" asked her maid.

"Not yet, not yet," she replied; "let me recollect myself first." And she looked with a timid doubt upon her friend, to ask if it was proper.

Miss Woodley could hardly support this humble reference to her judgment, from the wan face of the poor invalid, and taking her by the hand, whispered, "You shall do what you please." In a few minutes Lord Elmwood was introduced.

To those who sincerely love, every change of situation or circumstances in the object beloved, appears an advantage. So, the acquisition of a title and estate was, in Miss Milner's eye, an inestimable advantage to her guardian; not on account of their real value; but that any change, instead of diminishing her passion, would have served only to increase it—even a change to the utmost poverty.

When he entered—the sight of him seemed to be too much for her, and after the first glance she turned her head away. The sound of his voice encouraged her to look once more—and then she riveted her eyes upon him.

"It is impossible, my dear Miss Milner," he gently whispered, "to say, what joy I feel that your disorder has subsided."

But though it was impossible to say, it was possible to look what he felt, and his looks expressed his feelings. In the zeal of those sensations, he laid hold of her hand, and held it between his—this he did not himself know—but she did.

"You have prayed for me, my Lord, I make no doubt?" said she, and smiled, as if thanking him for those prayers.

"Fervently, ardently!" returned he; and the fervency with which he had prayed spoke in every feature.

"But I am a protestant, you know, and if I had died such, do you believe I should have gone to Heaven?"

"Most assuredly, that would not have prevented you."

"But Mr. Sandford does not think so."

"He must; for he means to go there himself."

To keep her guardian with her, Miss Milner seemed inclined to converse; but her solicitous friend gave Lord Elmwood a look, which implied that it might be injurious to her, and he retired.

They had only one more interview before he left the place; at which Miss Milner was capable of sitting up—he was with her, however, but a very short time, some necessary concerns relative to his late kinsman's affairs, calling him in haste to London. Miss Woodley continued with her friend till she saw her entirely reinstated in her health: during which time her guardian was frequently the subject of their private conversation; and upon those occasions Miss Milner has sometimes brought Miss Woodley to acknowledge, "That could Mr. Dorriforth have possibly foreseen the early death of the last Lord Elmwood, it had been more for the honour of his religion (as that ancient title would now after him become extinct), if he had preferred marriage vows to those of celibacy."



CHAPTER II.

When the time for Miss Woodley's departure arrived, Miss Milner entreated earnestly to accompany her home, and made the most solemn promises that she would guard not only her behaviour, but her very thoughts, within the limitation her friend should prescribe. Miss Woodley at length yielded thus far, "That as soon as Lord Elmwood was set out on his journey to Italy, where she had heard him say that he should soon be obliged to go, she would no longer deny her the pleasure of returning; and if (after the long absence which must consequently take place between him and her) she could positively affirm the suppression of her passion was the happy result, she would then take her word, and risk the danger of seeing them once more reside together."

This concession having been obtained, they parted; and as winter was now far advanced, Miss Woodley returned to her aunt's house in town, from whence Mrs. Horton was, however, preparing to remove, in order to superintend Lord Elmwood's house, (which had been occupied by the late Earl,) in Grosvenor Square; and her niece was to accompany her.

If Lord Elmwood was not desirous Miss Milner should conclude her visit and return to his protection, it was partly from the multiplicity of affairs in which he was at this time engaged, and partly from having Mr. Sandford now entirely placed with him as his chaplain; for he dreaded, that living in the same house, their natural antipathy might be increased even to aversion. Upon this account, he once thought of advising Mr. Sandford to take up his abode elsewhere; but the great pleasure he took in his society, joined to the bitter mortification he knew such a proposal would be to his friend, would not suffer him to make it.

Miss Milner all this time was not thinking upon those she hated, but on those she loved. Sandford never came into her thoughts, while the image of Lord Elmwood never left them. One morning, as she sat talking to Lady Luneham on various subjects, but thinking alone on him, Sir Harry Luneham, with another gentleman, a Mr. Fleetmond, came in, and the conversation turned upon the improbability, during the present Lord Elmwood's youth, that he should ever inherit the title and estate which had now fallen to him—and, said Mr. Fleetmond, "Independent of rank and fortune, it must be matter of infinite joy to Mr. Dorriforth."

"No," answered Sir Harry, "independent of rank and fortune, it must be a motive of concern to him; for he must now regret, beyond measure, his folly in taking priest's orders, thus depriving himself of the hopes of an heir, so that his title, at his death, will be lost."

"By no means," replied Mr. Fleetmond; "he may yet have an heir, for he will certainly marry."

"Marry!" cried the Baronet.

"Yes," answered the other, "it was that I meant by the joy it might probably give him, beyond the possession of his estate and title."

"How he married?" said Lady Luneham, "Has he not taken a vow never to marry?"

"Yes," answered Mr. Fleetmond, "but there are no religious vows, from which the sovereign Pontiff at Rome cannot grant a dispensation, as those commandments which are made by the church, the church has always the power to revoke; and when it is for the general good of religion, his Holiness thinks it incumbent on him, to publish his bull, and remit all penalties for their non-observance; and certainly it is for the honour of the Catholics, that this Earldom should continue in a Catholic family. In short, I'll venture to lay a wager, my Lord Elmwood is married within a year."

Miss Milner, who listened with attention, feared she was in a dream, or deceived by the pretended knowledge of Mr. Fleetmond, who might know nothing—yet all that he had said was very probable; and he was himself a Roman Catholic, so that he must be well informed on the subject upon which he spoke. If she had heard the direst news that ever sounded in the ears of the most susceptible of mortals, the agitation of her mind and person could not have been stronger—she felt, while every word was speaking, a chill through all her veins—a pleasure too exquisite, not to bear along with it the sensation of exquisite pain; of which she was so sensible, that for a few moments it made her wish that she had not heard the intelligence; though, very soon after, she would not but have heard it for the world.

As soon as she had recovered from her first astonishment and joy, she wrote to Miss Woodley an exact account of what she had heard, and received this answer:

"I am sorry any body should have given you this piece of information, because it was a task, in executing which, I had promised myself extreme satisfaction—but from the fear that your health was not yet strong enough to support, without some danger, the burthen of hopes which I knew would, upon this occasion, press upon you, I deferred my communication and it has been anticipated. Yet, as you seem in doubt as to the reality of what you have been told, perhaps this confirmation of it may fall very little short of the first news; especially when it is enforced by my request, that you will come to us, as soon as you can with propriety leave Lady Luneham.

"Come, my dear Miss Milner, and find in your once rigid monitor a faithful confidante. I will no longer threaten to disclose a secret you have trusted me with, but leave it to the wisdom, or sensibility of his heart, (who is now to penetrate into the hearts of our sex, in search of one that may beat in unison with his own) to find it out. I no longer condemn, but congratulate you on your passion; and will assist you with all my advice and my earnest wishes, that it may obtain a return."

This letter was another of those excruciating pleasures, that almost reduced Miss Milner to the grave. Her appetite forsook her; and she vainly endeavoured, for several nights, to close her eyes. She thought so much upon the prospect of accomplishing her wishes, that she could admit no other idea; nor even invent one probable excuse for leaving Lady Luneham before the appointed time, which was then at the distance of two months. She wrote to Miss Woodley to beg her contrivance, to reproach her for keeping the secret so long from her, and to thank her for having revealed it in so kind a manner at last. She begged also to be acquainted how Mr. Dorriforth (for still she called him by that name) spoke and thought of this sudden change in his destiny.

Miss Woodley's reply was a summons for her to town upon some pretended business, which she avoided explaining, but which entirely silenced Lady Luneham's entreaties for her stay.

To her question concerning Lord Elmwood she answered, "It is a subject on which he seldom speaks—he appears just the same he ever did, nor could you by any part of his conduct, conceive that any such change had taken place." Miss Milner exclaimed to herself, "I am glad he is not altered—if his words, looks, or manners, were any thing different from what they formerly were, I should not like him so well." And just the reverse would have been the case, had Miss Woodley sent her word he was changed. The day for her leaving Bath was fixed; she expected it with rapture, but before its arrival, sunk under the care of expectation; and when it came, was so much indisposed, as to be obliged to defer her journey for a week.

At length she found herself in London—in the house of her guardian—and that guardian no longer bound to a single life, but enjoined to marry. He appeared in her eyes, as in Miss Woodley's, the same as ever; or perhaps more endearing than ever, as it was the first time she had beheld him with hope. Mr. Sandford did not appear the same; yet he was in reality as surly and as disrespectful in his behaviour to her as usual; but she did not observe, or she did not feel his morose temper as heretofore—he seemed amiable, mild, and gentle; at least this was the happy medium through which her self-complacent mind began to see him; for good humour, like the jaundice, makes every one of its own complexion.



CHAPTER III.

Lord Elmwood was preparing to go abroad, for the purpose of receiving in form, the dispensation from his vows; it was, however, a subject he seemed carefully to avoid speaking upon; and when by any accident he was obliged to mention it, it was without any marks either of satisfaction or concern.

Miss Milner's pride began to be alarmed. While he was Mr. Dorriforth, and confined to a single life, his indifference to her charms was rather an honourable than a reproachful trait in his character, and in reality, she admired him for the insensibility. But on the eve of being at liberty, and on the eve of making his choice, she was offended that choice was not immediately fixed upon her. She had been accustomed to receive the devotion of every man who saw her, and not to obtain it of the man from whom, of all others, she most wished it, was cruelly humiliating. She complained to Miss Woodley, who advised her to have patience; but that was one of the virtues in which she was the least practised.

Encouraged, nevertheless, by her friend in the commendable desire of gaining the affections of him, who possessed all her own, she, however, left no means unattempted for the conquest—but she began with too great a certainty of success, not to be sensible of the deepest mortification in the disappointment—nay, she anticipated a disappointment, as she had before anticipated her success; by turns feeling the keenest emotions from hope and from despair.

As these passions alternately governed her, she was alternately in spirits or dejected; in good or in ill humour; and the vicissitudes of her prospect at length gave to her behaviour an air of caprice, which not all her follies had till now produced. This was not the way to secure the affections of Lord Elmwood; she knew it was not; and before him she was under some restriction. Sandford observed this, and without reserve, added to the list of her other failings, hypocrisy. It was plain to see that Mr. Sandford esteemed her less and less every day; and as he was the person who most influenced the opinion of her guardian, he became to her, very soon, an object not merely of dislike, but of abhorrence.

These mutual sentiments were discoverable in every word and action, while they were in each other's company; but still in his absence, Miss Milner's good nature, and total freedom from malice, never suffered her to utter a sentence injurious to his interest. Sandford's charity did not extend thus far; and speaking of her with severity one evening while she was at the opera, "His meaning," as he said, "but to caution her guardian against her faults," Lord Elmwood replied,

"There is one fault, however, Mr. Sandford, I cannot lay to her charge."

"And what is that, my Lord?" cried Sandford, eagerly, "What is that one fault, which Miss Milner has not?"

"I never," replied Lord Elmwood, "heard Miss Milner, in your absence, utter a syllable to your disadvantage."

"She dares not, my Lord, because she is in fear of you and she knows you would not suffer it."

"She then," answered his Lordship, "pays me a much higher compliment than you do; for you freely censure her, and yet imagine I will suffer it."

"My Lord," replied Sandford, "I am undeceived now, and shall never take that liberty again."

As Lord Elmwood always treated Sandford with the utmost respect, he began to fear he had been deficient upon this occasion; and the disposition which had induced him to take his ward's part, was likely, in the end, to prove unfavourable to her; for perceiving Sandford was offended at what had passed, as the only means of retribution, he began himself to lament her volatile and captious propensities; in which lamentation, Sandford, now forgetting his affront, joined with the heartiest concurrence, adding,

"You, Sir, having now other cares to employ your thoughts, ought to insist upon her marrying, or retiring into the country."

She returned home just as this conversation was finished, and Sandford, the moment she entered, rang for his candle to retire. Miss Woodley, who had been at the opera with Miss Milner, cried,

"Bless me, Mr. Sandford, are you not well, you are going to leave us so early?"

He replied, "No, I have a pain in my head."

Miss Milner, who never listened to complaints without sympathy, rose immediately from her seat, saying,

"I think I never heard you, Mr. Sandford, complain of indisposition before. Will you accept of my specific for the head-ache? Indeed it is a certain relief—I'll fetch it instantly."

She went hastily out of the room, and returned with a bottle, which, she assured him, "Was a present from Lady Luneham, and would certainly cure him." And she pressed it upon him with such an anxious earnestness, that with all his churlishness he could not refuse taking it.

This was but a common-place civility, such as is paid by one enemy to another every day; but the manner was the material part. The unaffected concern, the attention, the good will, she demonstrated in this little incident, was that which made it remarkable, and immediately took from Lord Elmwood the displeasure to which he had been just before provoked, or rather transformed it into a degree of admiration. Even Sandford was not insensible to her behaviour, and in return, when he left the room, "Wished her a good night."

To her and Miss Woodley, who had not been witnesses of the preceding conversation, what she had done appeared of no merit; but to the mind of Lord Elmwood, the merit was infinite; and upon the departure of Sandford, he began to be unusually cheerful. He first pleasantly reproached the ladies for not offering him a place in their box at the opera.

"Would you have gone, my Lord?" asked Miss Milner, highly delighted.

"Certainly," returned he, "had you invited me."

"Then from this day I give you a general invitation; nor shall any other company be admitted but those whom you approve."

"I am very much obliged to you," said he.

"And you," continued she, "who have been accustomed only to church-music, will be more than any one, enchanted with hearing the softer music of love."

"What ravishing pleasures you are preparing for me!" returned he—"I know not whether my weak senses will be able to support them!"

She had her eyes upon him when he spoke this, and she discovered in his, that were fixed upon her, a sensibility unexpected—a kind of fascination which enticed her to look on, while her eyelids fell involuntarily before its mighty force, and a thousand blushes crowded over her face. He was struck with these sudden signals; hastily recalled his former countenance, and stopped the conversation.

Miss Woodley, who had been a silent observer for some time, now thought a word or two from her would be acceptable rather than troublesome.

"And pray, my Lord," said she, "when do you go to France?"

"To Italy you mean;—I shall not go at all," said he. "My superiors are very indulgent, for they dispense with all my duties. I ought, and I meant, to have gone abroad; but as a variety of concerns require my presence in England, every necessary ceremony has taken place here."

"Then your Lordship is no longer in orders?" said Miss Woodley.

"No; they have been resigned these five days."

"My Lord, I give you joy," said Miss Milner.

He thanked her, but added with a sigh, "If I have given up content in search of joy, I shall perhaps be a loser by the venture." Soon after this, he wished them a good night, and retired.

Happy as Miss Milner found herself in his company, she saw him leave the room with infinite satisfaction, because her heart was impatient to give a loose to its hopes on the bosom of Miss Woodley. She bade Mrs. Horton immediately good night; and, in her friend's apartment, gave way to all the language of passion, warmed with the confidence of meeting its return. She described the sentiments she had read in Lord Elmwood's looks; and though Miss Woodley had beheld them too, Miss Milner's fancy heightened the expression of every glance, till her construction became, by degrees, so extremely favourable to her own wishes, that had not her friend been present, and known in what measure to estimate those symptoms, she must infallibly have thought, by the joy to which they gave birth, that he had openly avowed a passion for her.

Miss Woodley, therefore, thought it her duty to allay these ecstasies, and represented to her, she might be deceived in her hopes—or even supposing his wishes inclined towards her, there were yet great obstacles between them.—"Would not Sandford, who directed his every thought and purpose, be consulted upon this? and if he was, upon what, but the most romantic affection on the part of Lord Elmwood, had Miss Milner to depend? and his Lordship was not a man to be suspected of submitting to the excess of any passion." Thus did Miss Woodley argue, lest her friend should be misled by her wishes; yet, in her own mind, she scarce harboured a doubt that any thing would thwart them. The succeeding circumstance proved she was mistaken.

Another gentleman of family and fortune made overtures to Miss Milner; and her guardian, so far from having his thoughts inclined towards her on his own account, pleaded this lover's cause even with more zeal than he had pleaded for Sir Edward and Lord Frederick; thus at once destroying all those plans of happiness which poor Miss Milner had formed.

In consequence, her melancholy humour was now predominant; she confined herself at home, and yet, by her own order, was denied to all her visitors. Whether this arose from pure melancholy, or the still lingering hope of making her conquest, by that sedateness of manners which she knew her guardian admired, she herself perhaps did not perfectly know. Be that as it may, Lord Elmwood could not but observe this change, and one morning thought fit to mention, and to applaud it.

Miss Woodley and she were at work together when he came into the room; and after sitting several minutes, and talking upon indifferent subjects, to which his ward replied with a dejection in her voice and manner—he said,

"Perhaps I am wrong, Miss Milner, but I have observed that you are lately more thoughtful than usual."

She blushed, as she always did when the subject was herself. He continued, "Your health appears perfectly restored, and yet I have observed you take no delight in your former amusements."

"Are you sorry for that, my Lord?"

"No, I am extremely glad; and I was going to congratulate you upon the change. But give me leave to enquire, to what lucky accident we may attribute this alteration?"

"Your Lordship then thinks all my commendable deeds arise from accident, and that I have no virtues of my own."

"Pardon me, I think you have many." This he spoke emphatically; and her blushes increased.

He resumed—"How can I doubt of a lady's virtues, when her countenance gives me such evident proofs of them? Believe me, Miss Milner, that in the midst of your gayest follies, while you thus continue to blush, I shall reverence your internal sensations."

"Oh! my Lord, did you know some of them, I am afraid you would think them unpardonable."

This was so much to the purpose, that Miss Woodley found herself alarmed—but without reason—Miss Milner loved too sincerely to reveal it to the object. He answered,

"And did you know some of mine, you might think them equally unpardonable."

She turned pale, and could no longer guide her needle—in the fond transport of her heart she imagined that his love for her, was among the sensations to which he alluded. She was too much embarrassed to reply, and he continued,

"We have all much to pardon in one another: and I know not whether the officious person who forces, even his good advice, is not as blameable as the obstinate one, who will not listen to it. And now, having made a preface to excuse you, should you once more refuse mine, I shall venture to give it."

"My Lord, I have never yet refused to follow your advice, but where my own peace of mind was so nearly concerned, as to have made me culpable, had I complied."

"Well, Madam, I submit to your determinations; and shall never again oppose your inclination to remain single."

This sentence, as it excluded the idea of soliciting for himself, gave her the utmost pain; and her eye glanced at him, full of reproach. He did not observe it, but went on.

"While you continue unmarried, it seems to have been your father's intention that you should continue under my immediate care; but as I mean for the future to reside chiefly in the country—answer me candidly, do you think you could be happy there, for at least three parts of the year?"

After a short hesitation, she replied, "I have no objection."

"I am glad to hear it," he returned eagerly, "for it is my earnest desire to have you with me—your welfare is dear to me as my own; and were we apart, continual apprehensions would prey upon my mind."

The tear started in her eye, at the earnestness that accompanied these words; he saw it, and to soften her still more with the sense of his esteem for her, he increased his earnestness while he said,

"If you will take the resolution to quit London for the time I mention, there shall be no means omitted to make the country all you can wish—I shall insist upon Miss Woodley's company for both our sakes; and it will not only be my study to form such a society as you may approve, but I am certain it will be likewise the study of Lady Elmwood——"

He was going on, but as if a poniard had thrust her to the heart, she writhed under this unexpected stroke.

He saw her countenance change—he looked at her steadfastly.

It was not a common change from joy to sorrow, from content to uneasiness, which Miss Milner discovered—she felt, and she expressed anguish—Lord Elmwood was alarmed and shocked. She did not weep, but she called Miss Woodley to come to her, with a voice that indicated a degree of agony.

"My Lord," (cried Miss Woodley, seeing his consternation and trembling lest he should guess the secret,) "My Lord, Miss Milner has again deceived you—you must not take her from London—it is that, and that alone, which is the cause of her uneasiness."

He seemed more amazed still—and still more shocked at her duplicity than at her torture. "Good Heaven!" exclaimed he, "How am I to accomplish her wishes? What am I to do? How can I judge, if she will not confide in me, but thus for ever deceive me?"

She leaned, pale as death, on the shoulder of Miss Woodley, her eye fixed with apparent insensibility to all that was said, while he continued,

"Heaven is my witness, if I knew—If I could conceive the means how to make her happy, I would sacrifice my own happiness to hers."

"My Lord," said Miss Woodley with a smile, "perhaps I may call upon you hereafter to fulfil your word."

He was totally ignorant what she meant, nor had he leisure, from the confusion of his thoughts, to reflect upon her meaning; he nevertheless replied, with warmth, "Do. You shall find I'll perform it.—Do. I will faithfully perform it."

Though Miss Milner was conscious this declaration could not, in delicacy, be ever adduced against him; yet the fervent and solemn manner in which he made it, cheered her spirits; and as persons enjoy the reflection of having in their possession some valuable gem, though they are determined never to use it, so she upon this, was comforted and grew better. She now lifted up her head, and leaned it on her hand, as she sat by the side of a table—still she did not speak, but seemed overcome with sorrow. As her situation became, however, less alarming, her guardian's pity and affright began to take the colour of resentment; and though he did not say so, he was, and looked, highly offended.

At this juncture Mr. Sandford entered. On beholding the present party, it required not his sagacity to see at the first view, that they were all uneasy; but instead of the sympathy this might have excited in some dispositions, Mr. Sandford, after casting a look at each of them, appeared in high spirits.

"You seem unhappy, my Lord," said he, with a smile.

"You do not—Mr. Sandford," Lord Elmwood replied.

"No, my Lord, nor would I, were I in your situation. What should make a man of sense out of temper but a worthy object!" And he looked at Miss Milner.

"There are no objects unworthy our care:" replied Lord Elmwood.

"But there are objects on whom all care is fruitless, your Lordship will allow."

"I never yet despaired of any one, Mr. Sandford."

"And yet there are persons, of whom it is presumption to entertain hopes." And he looked again at Miss Milner.

"Does your head ache, Miss Milner?" asked her friend, seeing her hold it with her hand.

"Very much," returned she.

"Mr. Sandford," said Miss Woodley, "did you use all those drops Miss Milner gave you for a pain in the head?"

"Yes:" answered he, "I did." But the question at that moment somewhat embarrassed him.

"And I hope you found benefit from them:" said Miss Milner, with great kindness, as she rose from her seat, and walked slowly out of the room.

Though Miss Woodley followed her, so that Mr. Sandford was left alone with Lord Elmwood, and might have continued his unkind insinuations without one restraint, yet his lips were closed for the present. He looked down on the carpet—twitched himself upon his chair—and began to talk of the weather.



CHAPTER IV.

When the first transports of despair were past, Miss Milner suffered herself to be once more in hope. She found there were no other means to support her life; and to her comfort, her friend was much less severe on the present occasion than she expected. No engagement between mortals was, in Miss Woodley's opinion, binding like that entered into with heaven; and whatever vows Lord Elmwood had possibly made to another, she justly supposed that no woman's love for him equalled Miss Milner's—it was prior to all others too; that established her claim to contend at least for success; and in a contention, what rival would not fall before her?

It was not difficult to guess who this rival was; or if they were a little time in suspence, Miss Woodley soon arrived at the certainty, by inquiring of Mr. Sandford; who, unsuspecting why she asked, readily informed her the intended Lady Elmwood was no other than Miss Fenton; and that their marriage would be solemnized as soon as the mourning for the late Lord Elmwood was over. This last intelligence made Miss Woodley shudder—she repeated it, however, to Miss Milner, word for word.

"Happy! happy woman!" exclaimed Miss Milner of Miss Fenton; "she has received the first fond impulse of his heart, and has had the transcendent happiness of teaching him to love!"

"By no means," returned Miss Woodley, finding no other suggestion likely to comfort her; "do not suppose that his marriage is the result of love—it is no more than a duty, a necessary arrangement, and this you may plainly see by the wife on whom he has fixed. Miss Fenton was thought a proper match for his cousin, and that same propriety has transferred her to him."

It was easy to convince Miss Milner that all her friend said was truth, for she wished it so. "And oh!" she exclaimed, "could I but stimulate passion, against the cold influence of propriety;—Do you think, my dear Miss Woodley," (and she looked with such begging eyes, it was impossible not to answer as she wished,) "do you think it would be unjust to Miss Fenton, were I to inspire her destined husband with a passion which she may not have inspired, and which I believe she cannot feel?"

Miss Woodley paused a minute, and then answered, "No:"—but there was a hesitation in her manner of delivery—she did say, "No:" but she looked as if she was afraid she ought to have said "Yes." Miss Milner, however, did not give her time to recall the word, or to alter its meaning by adding others to it, but ran on eagerly, and declared, "As that was her opinion, she would abide by it, and do all she could to supplant her rival." In order, nevertheless, to justify this determination, and satisfy the conscience of Miss Woodley, they both concluded that Miss Fenton's heart was not engaged in the intended marriage, and consequently that she was indifferent whether it ever took place or not.

Since the death of the late Earl, she had not been in town; nor had the present Earl been near the place where she resided, since the week in which her lover died; of course, nothing similar to love could have been declared at so early a period; and if it had been made known at a later, it must only have been by letter, or by the deputation of Mr. Sandford, who they knew had been once in the country to visit her; but how little he was qualified to enforce a tender passion, was a comfortable reflection.

Revived by these conjectures, of which some were true, and others false; the very next day a gloom overspread their bright prospects, on Mr. Sandford's saying, as he entered the breakfast-room,

"Miss Fenton, ladies, desired me to present her compliments."

"Is she in town?" asked Mrs. Horton.

"She came yesterday morning," returned Sandford, "and is at her brother's, in Ormond-street; my Lord and I supped there last night, and that made us so late home."

Lord Elmwood entered soon after, and bowing to his ward, confirmed what had been said, by telling her, that "Miss Fenton had charged him with her kindest respects."

"How does poor Miss Fenton look?" Mrs. Horton asked Lord Elmwood.

To which question Sandford replied, "Beautiful—she looks beautifully."

"She has got over her uneasiness, I suppose then?" said Mrs. Horton—not dreaming that she was asking the questions before her new lover.

"Uneasy!" replied Sandford, "uneasy at any trial this world can send? That would be highly unworthy of her."

"But sometimes women do fret at such things:" replied Mrs. Horton, innocently.

Lord Elmwood asked Miss Milner—"If she meant to ride, this delightful day?"

While she was hesitating—

"There are different kinds of women," (said Sandford, directing his discourse to Mrs. Horton;) "there is as much difference between some women, as between good and evil spirits."

Lord Elmwood asked Miss Milner again—If she took an airing?

She replied, "No."

"And beauty," continued Sandford, "when endowed upon spirits that are evil, is a mark of their greater, their more extreme wickedness. Lucifer was the most beautiful of all the angels in Paradise"—

"How do you know?" said Miss Milner.

"But the beauty of Lucifer," (continued Sandford, in perfect neglect and contempt of her question,) "was an aggravation of his guilt; because it shewed a double share of ingratitude to the Divine Creator of that beauty."

"Now you talk of angels," said Miss Milner, "I wish I had wings; and I should like to fly through the park this morning."

"You would be taken for an angel in good earnest," said Lord Elmwood.

Sandford was angry at this little compliment, and cried, "I should think the serpent's skin would be much more characteristic."

"My Lord," cried she, "does not Mr. Sandford use me ill?" Vext with other things, she felt herself extremely hurt at this, and made the appeal almost in tears.

"Indeed, I think he does." And he looked at Sandford as if he was displeased.

This was a triumph so agreeable to her, that she immediately pardoned the offence; but the offender did not so easily pardon her.

"Good morning, ladies," said Lord Elmwood, rising to go away.

"My Lord," said Miss Woodley, "you promised Miss Milner to accompany her one evening to the opera; this is opera night."

"Will you go, my Lord?" asked Miss Milner, in a voice so soft, that he seemed as if he wished, but could not resist it.

"I am to dine at Mr. Fenton's to-day," he replied; "and if he and his sister will go, and you will allow them part of your box, I will promise to come."

This was a condition by no means acceptable to her; but as she felt a desire to see him in company of his intended bride, (for she fancied she could perceive his secret sentiments, could she once see them together) she answered not ungraciously, "Yes, my compliments to Mr. and Miss Fenton, and I hope they will favour me with their company."

"Then, Madam, if they come, you may expect me—else not." He bowed and left the room.

All the day was passed in anxious expectation by Miss Milner, what would be the event of the evening: for upon her penetration that evening all her future prospects she thought depended. If she saw by his looks, by his words, or assiduities, that he loved Miss Fenton, she flattered herself she would never think of him again with hope; but if she observed him treat her with inattention or indifference, she would cherish, from that moment, the fondest expectations. Against that short evening her toilet was consulted the whole day: the alternate hope and fear which fluttered in her heart, gave a more than usual brilliancy to her eyes, and more than usual bloom to her complection. But vain was her beauty; vain all her care to decorate that beauty; vain her many looks to her box-door in hopes to see it open—Lord Elmwood never came.

The music was discord—every thing she saw was disgusting—in a word, she was miserable.

She longed impatiently for the curtain to drop, because she was uneasy where she was—yet she asked herself, "Shall I be less unhappy at home? Yes; at home I shall see Lord Elmwood, and that will be happiness. But he will behold me with neglect, and that will be misery! Ungrateful man! I will no longer think of him." Yet could she have thought of him, without joining in the same idea Miss Fenton, her anguish had been supportable; but while she painted them as lovers, the tortures of the rack are but a few degrees more painful than those which she endured.

There are but few persons who ever felt the real passion of jealousy, because few have felt the real passion of love; but with those who have experienced them both, jealousy not only affects the mind, but every fibre of their frame; and Miss Milner's every limb felt agonizing torment, when Miss Fenton, courted and beloved by Lord Elmwood, was present to her imagination.

The moment the opera was finished, she flew hastily down stairs, as if to fly from the sufferings she experienced. She did not go into the coffee-room, though repeatedly urged by Miss Woodley, but waited at the door till her carriage drew up.

Piqued—heart-broken—full of resentment against the object of her uneasiness, and inattentive to all that passed, a hand gently touched her own; and the most humble and insinuating voice said, "Will you permit me to lead you to your carriage?" She was awakened from her revery, and found Lord Frederick Lawnly by her side. Her heart, just then melting with tenderness to another, was perhaps more accessible than heretofore; or bursting with resentment, thought this the moment to retaliate. Whatever passion reigned that instant, it was favourable to the desires of Lord Frederick, and she looked as if she was glad to see him: he beheld this with the rapture and the humility of a lover; and though she did not feel the least particle of love in return, she felt gratitude in proportion to the insensibility with which she had been treated by her guardian; and Lord Frederick's supposition was not very erroneous, if he mistook this gratitude for a latent spark of affection. The mistake, however, did not force from him his respect: he handed her to her carriage, bowed low, and disappeared. Miss Woodley wished to divert her thoughts from the object which could only make her wretched, and as they rode home, by many encomiums upon Lord Frederick, endeavoured to incite her to a regard for him; Miss Milner was displeased at the attempt, and exclaimed,

"What! love a rake, a man of professed gallantry? impossible. To me, a common rake is as odious as a common prostitute is to a man of the nicest feelings. Where can be the joy, the pride, of inspiring a passion which fifty others can equally inspire?"

"Strange," cried Miss Woodley, "that you, who possess so many follies incident to your sex, should, in the disposal of your heart, have sentiments so contrary to women in general."

"My dear Miss Woodley," returned she, "put in competition the languid addresses of a libertine, with the animated affection of a sober man, and judge which has the dominion? Oh! in my calendar of love, a solemn Lord Chief Justice, or a devout archbishop, ranks before a licentious king."

Miss Woodley smiled at an opinion which she knew half her sex would ridicule; but by the air of sincerity with which it was delivered, she was convinced her recent behaviour to Lord Frederick was but the mere effect of chance.

Lord Elmwood's carriage drove to his door just at the time her's did; Mr. Sandford was with him, and they were both come from passing the evening at Mr. Fenton's.

"So, my Lord," said Miss Woodley, as soon as they met in the apartment, "you did not come to us?"

"No," answered he, "I was sorry; but I hope you did not expect me."

"Not expect you, my Lord?" cried Miss Milner; "Did not you say that you would come?"

"If I had, I certainly should have come," returned he, "but I only said so conditionally."

"That I am a witness to," cried Sandford, "for I was present at the time, and he said it should depend upon Miss Fenton."

"And she, with her gloomy disposition," said Miss Milner, "chose to sit at home."

"Gloomy disposition!" repeated Sandford: "She has a great share of sprightliness—and I think I never saw her in better spirits than she was this evening, my Lord."

Lord Elmwood did not speak.

"Bless me, Mr. Sandford," cried Miss Milner, "I meant no reflection upon Miss Fenton's disposition; I only meant to censure her taste for staying at home."

"I think," replied Mr. Sandford, "a much heavier censure should be passed upon those who prefer rambling abroad."

"But I hope, ladies, my not coming," said Lord Elmwood, "was no inconvenience to you; for you had still, I see, a gentleman with you."

"Oh! yes, two gentlemen:" answered the son of Lady Evans, a lad from school, whom Miss Milner had taken along with her.

"What two?" asked Lord Elmwood.

Neither Miss Milner nor Miss Woodley answered.

"You know, Madam," said young Evans, "that handsome gentleman who handed you into your carriage, and you called my Lord."

"Oh! he means Lord Frederick Lawnly:" said Miss Milner carelessly, but a blush of shame spread over her face.

"And did he hand you into your coach?" asked Lord Elmwood earnestly.

"By mere accident, my Lord," Miss Woodley replied, "for the crowd was so great——"

"I think, my Lord," said Sandford, "it was very lucky that you were not there."

"Had Lord Elmwood been with us, we should not have had occasion for the assistance of any other," said Miss Milner.

"Lord Elmwood has been with you, Madam," returned Sandford, "very frequently, and yet—"

"Mr. Sandford," said Lord Elmwood, interrupting him, "it is near bed-time, your conversation keeps the ladies from retiring."

"Your Lordship's does not," said Miss Milner, "for you say nothing."

"Because, Madam, I am afraid to offend."

"But do not you also hope to please? and without risking the one, it is impossible to arrive at the other."

"I think, at present, the risk would be too hazardous, and so I wish you a good night." And he went out of the room somewhat abruptly.

"Lord Elmwood," said Miss Milner, "is very grave—he does not look like a man who has been passing the evening with the woman he loves."

"Perhaps he is melancholy at parting from her," said Miss Woodley.

"More likely offended," said Sandford, "at the manner in which that lady has spoken of her."

"Who, I? I protest I said nothing——"

"Nothing! Did not you say that she was gloomy?"

"Nothing but what I thought—I was going to add, Mr. Sandford."

"When you think unjustly, you should not express your thoughts."

"Then, perhaps, I should never speak."

"And it were better you did not, if what you say is to give pain. Do you know, Madam, that my Lord is going to be married to Miss Fenton?"

"Yes," answered Miss Milner.

"Do you know that he loves her?"

"No," answered Miss Milner.

"How! do you suppose he does not?"

"I suppose that he does, yet I don't know it."

"Then if you suppose that he does, how can you have the imprudence to find fault with her before him?"

"I did not. To call her gloomy, was, I knew, to commend her both to him and to you, who admire such tempers."

"Whatever her temper is, every one admires it; and so far from its being what you have described, she has great vivacity; vivacity which comes from the heart."

"No, if it came from thence, I should admire it too; but, if she has any, it rests there, and no one is the better for it."

"Pshaw!" said Miss Woodley, "it is time for us to retire; you and Mr. Sandford must finish your dispute in the morning."

"Dispute, Madam!" said Sandford, "I never disputed with any one beneath a doctor of divinity in my life. I was only cautioning your friend not to make light of those virtues which it would do her honour to possess. Miss Fenton is a most amiable young woman, and worthy of just such a husband as my Lord Elmwood will make her."

"I am sure," said Miss Woodley, "Miss Milner thinks so—she has a high opinion of Miss Fenton—she was at present only jesting."

"But, Madam, a jest is a very pernicious thing, when delivered with a malignant sneer. I have known a jest destroy a lady's reputation—I have known a jest give one person a distaste for another—I have known a jest break off a marriage."

"But I suppose there is no apprehension of that in the present case?" said Miss Woodley—wishing he might answer in the affirmative.

"Not that I can foresee. No, Heaven forbid," he replied, "for I look upon them to be formed for each other—their dispositions, their pursuits, their inclinations the same. Their passions for each other just the same—pure—white as snow."

"And I dare say, not warmer," replied Miss Milner.

He looked provoked beyond measure.

"My dear," cried Miss Woodley, "how can you talk thus? I believe in my heart you are only envious, because my Lord Elmwood has not offered himself to you."

"To her!" said Sandford, affecting an air of the utmost surprise; "to her! Do you think he received a dispensation from his vows, to become the husband of a coquette—a——."—He was going on.

"Nay, Mr. Sandford," cried Miss Milner, "I believe, after all, my worst crime, in your eyes, is that of being a heretic."

"By no means—it is the only circumstance that can apologize for your faults; and if you had not that excuse, there would be none for you."

"Then, at present, there is an excuse—I thank you, Mr. Sandford—this is the kindest thing you ever said to me. But I am vext to see that you are sorry you have said it."

"Angry at your being a heretic!" he resumed—"Indeed I should be much more concerned to see you a disgrace to our religion."

Miss Milner had not been in a good humour the whole evening—she had been provoked several times to the full extent of her patience: but this harsh sentence hurried her beyond all bounds, and she arose from her seat in the most violent agitation, exclaiming, "What have I done to be thus treated?"

Though Mr. Sandford was not a man easily intimidated, he was upon this occasion evidently alarmed; and stared about him with so violent an expression of surprise, that it partook, in some degree, of fear. Miss Woodley clasped her friend in her arms, and cried with the tenderest affection and pity, "My dear Miss Milner, be composed."

Miss Milner sat down, and was so for a minute; but her dead silence was almost as alarming to Sandford as her rage had been; and he did not perfectly recover himself till he saw tears pouring down her face. He then heaved a sigh of content that all had thus ended; but in his heart resolved never to forget the ridiculous affright into which he had been thrown. He stole out of the room without uttering a syllable—but as he never retired to rest before he had repeated a long form of evening prayer, when this evening he came to that part which supplicates "Grace for the wicked," he mentioned Miss Milner's name with the most fervent devotion.



CHAPTER V.

Of the many restless nights that Miss Milner passed, this was not one. It is true, she had a weight of care upon her heart, even heavier than usual, but the burden had overcome her strength: wearied out with hopes, with fears, and, at the end, with disappointment and rage, she sunk at once into a deep slumber. But the more forgetfulness had then prevailed, the more powerful was the force of remembrance when she awoke. At first, so sound her sleep had been, that she had a difficulty in calling to mind why she was unhappy; but that she was unhappy she well recollected—when the cause came to her memory, she would have slept again—but it was impossible.

Though her rest had been sound, it had not been refreshing—she was far from well, and sent word of her indisposition, as an apology for not being present at breakfast. Lord Elmwood looked concerned when the message was delivered—Mr. Sandford shook his head.

"Miss Milner's health is not good!" said Mrs. Horton a few minutes after.

Lord Elmwood laid down the newspaper to attend to her.

"To me, there is something very extraordinary about her!" continued Mrs. Horton, finding she had caught his Lordship's attention.

"So there is to me!" added Sandford, with a sarcastic sneer.

"And so there is to me!" said Miss Woodley, with a serious face and a heartfelt sigh.

Lord Elmwood gazed by turns at each, as each delivered their sentiments—and when they were all silent, he looked bewildered, not knowing what judgment to form from any of these sentences.

Soon after breakfast, Mr. Sandford withdrew to his own apartment: Mrs. Horton, in a little time, went to hers: Lord Elmwood and Miss Woodley were left alone. He immediately rose from his seat, and said,

"I think, Miss Woodley, Miss Milner was extremely to blame, though I did not chuse to tell her so before Mr. Sandford, in giving Lord Frederick an opportunity of speaking to her, unless she means that he shall renew his addresses."

"That, I am certain," replied Miss Woodley, "she does not mean—and I assure you, my Lord, seriously, it was by mere accident she saw him yesterday evening, or permitted his attendance upon her to her carriage."

"I am glad to hear it," he returned quickly; "for although I am not of a suspicious nature, yet in regard to her affections for him, I cannot but still have my doubts."

"You need have none, my Lord," replied Miss Woodley, with a smile of confidence.

"And yet you must own her behaviour has warranted them—has it not been in this particular incoherent and unaccountable?"

"The behaviour of a person in love, no doubt," answered Miss Woodley.

"Don't I say so?" replied he warmly; "and is not that a just reason for my suspicions?"

"But is there only one man in the world on whom those suspicions can fix?" said Miss Woodley, with the colour mounting into her face.

"Not that I know of—not one more that I know of," he replied, with astonishment at what she had insinuated, and yet with a perfect assurance that she was in the wrong.

"Perhaps I am mistaken," answered she.

"Nay, that is impossible too," returned he with anxiety—"You share her confidence—you are perpetually with her; and if she did not confide in you, (which I know, and rejoice that she does) you would yet be acquainted with all her inclinations."

"I believe I am perfectly acquainted with them," replied Miss Woodley, with a significance in her voice and manner which convinced him there was some secret to learn.

After a hesitation——

"It is far from me," replied he, "to wish to be entrusted with the private sentiments of those who desire to with-hold them from me; much less would I take any unfair means to be informed of them. To ask any more questions of you, I believe, would be unfair. Yet I cannot but lament that I am not as well informed as you are. I wish to prove my friendship to Miss Milner, but she will not suffer me—and every step that I take for her happiness, I take in the most perplexing uncertainty."

Miss Woodley sighed—but she did not speak. He seemed to wait for her reply; but as she made none, he proceeded—

"If ever breach of confidence could be tolerated, I certainly know no occasion that would so justly authorise it as the present. I am not only proper from character, but from circumstances, to be relied upon—my interest is so nearly connected with the interest, and my happiness with the happiness of my ward, that those principles, as well as my honour, would protect her against every peril arising from my being trusted."

"Oh! my Lord," cried Miss Woodley, with a most forcible accent, "You are the last person on earth she would pardon me for entrusting."

"Why so?" said he, warmly. "But that is the way—the person who is our friend we distrust—where a common interest is concerned, we are ashamed of drawing on a common danger—afraid of advice, though that advice is to save us.——Miss Woodley," said he, changing his voice with excess of earnestness, "do you not believe, that I would do anything to make Miss Milner happy?"

"Any thing in honour, my Lord."

"She can desire nothing farther," he replied in agitation. "Are her desires so unwarrantable, that I cannot grant them?"

Miss Woodley again did not speak—and he continued——

"Great as my friendship is, there are certainly bounds to it—bounds that shall save her in spite of herself:"—and he raised his voice.

"In the disposal of themselves," resumed he, with a less vehement tone, "that great, that terrific disposal in marriage, (at which I have always looked with fear and dismay) there is no accounting for the rashness of a woman's choice, or sometimes for the depravity of her taste. But in such a case, Miss Milner's election of a husband shall not direct mine. If she does not know how to estimate her own value, I do. Independent of her fortune, she has beauty to captivate the heart of any man; and with all her follies, she has a frankness in her manner, an unaffected wisdom in her thoughts, a vivacity in her conversation, and withal, a softness in her demeanour, that might alone engage the affections of a man of the nicest sentiments, and the strongest understanding. I will not see all these qualities and accomplishments debased. It is my office to protect her from the consequences of a degrading choice, and I will."

"My Lord, Miss Milner's taste is not a depraved one; it is but too refined."

"What can you mean by that, Miss Woodley? You talk mysteriously. Is she not afraid that I will thwart her inclinations?"

"She is sure that you will, my Lord."

"Then must the person be unworthy of her."

Miss Woodley rose from her seat—she clasped her hands—every look and every gesture proved her alternate resolution and irresolution of proceeding. Lord Elmwood's attention was arrested before; but now it was fixed to a degree which her extraordinary manner only could occasion.

"My Lord," said she, with a tremulous voice, "promise me, declare to me, nay, swear to me, that it shall ever remain a secret in your own breast, and I will reveal to you, on whom she has placed her affections."

This preparation made Lord Elmwood tremble, and he ran over instantly in his mind all the persons he could recollect, in order to arrive at the knowledge by thought, quicker than by words. It was in vain he tried; and he once more turned his inquiring eyes upon Miss Woodley. He saw her silent and covered with confusion. Again he searched his own thoughts; nor ineffectually as before. At the first glance, the object was presented, and he beheld—himself.

The rapid emotion of varying passions, which immediately darted over his features, informed Miss Woodley that her secret was discovered—she hid her face, while the tears that fell down to her bosom, confirmed the truth of his suggestion, beyond what oaths could have done. A short interval of silence followed, during which, she suffered tortures for the manner in which he would next address her—two seconds gave her this reply:

"For God's sake take care what you are doing—you are destroying my prospects of futurity—you are making this world too dear to me."

Her drooping head was then lifted up, and she caught the eye of Dorriforth; she saw it beam expectation, amazement, joy, ardour, and love.——Nay, there was a fire, a vehemence in the quick fascinating rays it sent forth, she never before had seen—it filled her with alarm—she wished him to love Miss Milner, but to love her with moderation. Miss Woodley was too little versed in the subject, to know, this would have been not to love at all; at least, not to the extent of breaking through engagements, and all the various obstacles that still militated against their union.

Lord Elmwood was sensible of the embarrassment his presence gave Miss Woodley, and understood the reproaches which she seemed to vent upon herself in silence. To relieve her from both, he laid his hand with force upon his heart, and said, "Do you believe me?"

"I do, my Lord," she answered, trembling.

"I will make no unjust use of what I know," he replied with firmness.

"I believe you, my Lord."

"But for what my passions now dictate," continued he, "I will not answer. They are confused—they are triumphant at present. I have never yet, however, been vanquished by them; and even upon this occasion, my reason shall combat them to the last—and my reason shall fail me, before I do wrong."

He was going to leave the room—she followed him, and cried, "But, my Lord, how shall I see again the unhappy object of my treachery?"

"See her," replied he, "as one to whom you meant no injury, and to whom you have done none."

"But she would account it an injury."

"We are not judges of what belongs to ourselves," he replied—"I am transported at the tidings you have revealed, and yet, perhaps, I had better never have heard them."

Miss Woodley was going to say something farther, but as if incapable of attending to her, he hastened out of the room.



CHAPTER VI.

Miss Woodley stood for some time to consider which way she was to go. The first person she met, would enquire why she had been weeping? and if Miss Milner was to ask the question, in what words could she tell, or in what manner deny the truth? To avoid her was her first caution, and she took the only method; she had a hackney-coach ordered, rode several miles out of town, and returned to dinner with so little remains of her swoln eyes, that complaining of the head-ache was a sufficient excuse for them.

Miss Milner was enough recovered to be present at dinner, though she scarce tasted a morsel. Lord Elmwood did not dine at home, at which Miss Woodley rejoiced, but at which Mr. Sandford appeared highly disappointed. He asked the servants several times, what he said when he went out? They replied, "Nothing more than that he should not be at home to dinner."

"I can't imagine where he dines?" said Sandford.

"Bless me, Mr. Sandford, can't you guess?" (cried Mrs. Horton, who by this time was made acquainted with his intended marriage) "He dines with Miss Fenton to be sure."

"No," replied Sandford, "he is not there; I came from thence just now, and they had not seen him all day." Poor Miss Milner, on this, ate something; for where we hope for nothing, we receive small indulgencies with joy.

Notwithstanding the anxiety and trouble under which Miss Woodley had laboured all the morning, her heart for many weeks had not felt so light as it did this day at dinner. The confidence that she reposed in the promises of Lord Elmwood—the firm reliance she had upon his delicacy and his justice—the unabated kindness with which her friend received her, while she knew that no one suspicious thought had taken harbour in her bosom—and the conscious integrity of her own intentions, though she might have been misled by her judgment, all comforted her with the hope, she had done nothing she ought to wish recalled. But although she felt thus tranquil, in respect to what she had divulged, yet she was a good deal embarrassed with the dread of next seeing Lord Elmwood.

Miss Milner, not having spirits to go abroad, passed the evening at home. She read part of a new opera, played upon her guitar, mused, sighed, occasionally talked with Miss Woodley, and so passed the tedious hours till near ten, when Mrs. Horton asked Mr. Sandford to play a game at piquet, and on his excusing himself, Miss Milner offered in his stead, and was gladly accepted. They had just begun to play when Lord Elmwood came into the room—Miss Milner's countenance immediately brightened, and though she was in a negligent morning dress, and looked paler than usual, she did not look less beautiful. Miss Woodley was leaning on the back of her chair to observe the game, and Mr. Sandford sat reading one of the Fathers at the other side of the fire place. Lord Elmwood, as he advanced to the table, bowed, not having seen the ladies since the morning, or Miss Milner that day: they returned the salute, and he was going up to Miss Milner, (as if to enquire of her health) when Mr. Sandford, laying down his book, said,

"My Lord, where have you been all day?"

"I have been very busy," replied he, and walking from the card-table, went up to him.

Miss Milner played one card for another.

"You have been at Mr. Fenton's this evening, I suppose?" said Sandford.

"No; not at all to-day."

"How came that about, my Lord?"

Miss Milner played the ace of diamonds instead of the king of hearts.

"I shall call to-morrow," answered Lord Elmwood; and then walking with a very ceremonious air up to Miss Milner, said, "He hoped she was perfectly recovered."

Mrs. Horton begged her "To mind what she was about." She replied, "I am much better, Sir."

He then returned to Sandford again; but never, during all this time, did his eye once encounter Miss Woodley's; and she, with equal care, avoided his.

Some cold dishes were now brought up for supper—Miss Milner lost her deal, and the game ended.

As they were arranging themselves at the supper-table, "Do, Miss Milner," said Mrs. Horton, "have something warm for your supper; a chicken boiled, or something of that kind; you have eat nothing to-day."

With feelings of humanity, and apparently no other sensation—but never did he feel his philanthropy so forcible—Lord Elmwood said, "Let me beg of you, Miss Milner, to have something provided for you."

The earnestness and emphasis with which these few words were pronounced, were more flattering than the finest turned compliment would have been; her gratitude was expressed in blushes, and by assuring him she was now "So well, as to sup on the dishes before her." She spoke, however, and had not made the trial; for the moment she carried a morsel to her lips, she laid it on her plate again, and turned paler, from the vain endeavour to force her appetite. Lord Elmwood had always been attentive to her; but now he watched her as he would a child; and when he saw by her struggles that she could not eat, he took her plate from her; gave her something else; and all with a care and watchfulness in his looks, as if he had been a tender-hearted boy, and she his darling bird, the loss of which would embitter all the joy of his holidays.

This attention had something in it so tender, so officious, and yet so sincere, that it brought the tears into Miss Woodley's eyes, attracted the notice of Mr. Sandford, and the observation of Mrs. Horton; while the heart of Miss Milner overflowed with a gratitude, that gave place to no sentiment except her love.

To relieve the anxiety which her guardian expressed, she endeavoured to appear cheerful, and that anxiety, at length, really made her so. He now pressed her to take one glass of wine with such solicitude, that he seemed to say a thousand things besides. Sandford still made his observations, and being unused to conceal his thoughts before the present company, he said bluntly,

"Miss Fenton was indisposed the other night, my Lord, and you did not seem half thus anxious about her."

Had Sandford laid all Lord Elmwood's estate at Miss Milner's feet, or presented her with that eternal bloom which adorns the face of a goddess, he would have done less to endear himself to her, than by this one sentence—she looked at him with a most benign countenance, and felt affliction that she had ever offended him.

"Miss Fenton," Lord Elmwood replied, "has a brother with her: her health and happiness are in his care—Miss Milner's are in mine."

"Mr. Sandford," said Miss Milner, "I am afraid that I behaved uncivilly to you last night—will you accept of an atonement?"

"No, Madam," returned he, "I accept no expiation without amendment."

"Well, then," said she, smiling, "suppose I promise never to offend you again, what then?"

"Why, then, you'll break your promise."

"Do not promise him," said Lord Elmwood, "for he means to provoke you to it."

In the like conversation the evening passed, and Miss Milner retired to rest in far better spirits than her morning's prospect had given her the least pretence to hope. Miss Woodley, too, had cause to be well pleased; but her pleasure was in great measure eclipsed by the reflection, that there was such a person as Miss Fenton—she wished she had been equally acquainted with her's as with Miss Milner's heart, and she would then have acted without injustice to either; but Miss Fenton had of late shunned their society, and even in their company was of a temper too reserved ever to discover her mind; Miss Woodley was obliged, therefore, to act to the best of her own judgment only, and leave all events to Providence.



CHAPTER VII.

Within a few days, in the house of Lord Elmwood, every thing, and every person, wore a new face. He, was the professed lover of Miss Milner—she, the happiest of human beings—Miss Woodley partaking in the joy—Mr. Sandford lamenting, with the deepest concern, that Miss Fenton had been supplanted; and what added poignantly to his concern was, that she had been supplanted by Miss Milner. Though a churchman, he bore his disappointment with the impatience of one of the laity: he could hardly speak to Lord Elmwood; he would not look at Miss Milner, and was displeased with every one. It was his intention, when he first became acquainted with Lord Elmwood's resolution, to quit his house; and as the Earl had, with the utmost degree of inflexibility, resisted all his good counsel upon this subject, he resolved, in quitting him, never to be his adviser again. But, in preparing to leave his friend, his pupil, his patron, and yet him, who, upon most occasions, implicitly obeyed his will, the spiritual got the better of the temporal man, and he determined to stay, lest in totally abandoning him to the pursuit of his own passions, he should make his punishment even greater than his offence. "My Lord," said he, "on the stormy sea, upon which you are embarked, though you will not shun the rocks that your faithful pilot would point out, he will, nevertheless, sail in your company, and lament over your watery grave. The more you slight my advice, the more you want it; so that, until you command me to leave your house, (as I suppose you will soon do, to oblige your Lady) I will continue along with you."

Lord Elmwood liked him sincerely, and was glad that he took this resolution; yet as soon as his reason and affections had once told him that he ought to break with Miss Fenton, and marry his ward, he became so decidedly of this opinion, that Sandford's never had the most trivial weight; nor would he even flatter the supposed authority he possessed over him, by urging him to remain in his house a single day, contrary to his inclinations. Sandford observed, with grief, this firmness; but finding it vain to contend, submitted—not, however, with a good grace.

Amidst all the persons affected by this change in Lord Elmwood's marriage-designs, Miss Fenton was, perhaps, affected the least—she would have been content to have married, she was content to live single. Mr. Sandford had been the first who made overtures to her on the part of Lord Elmwood, and was the first sent to ask her to dispense with the obligation.—She received both of these proposals with the same insipid smile of approbation, and the same cold indifference at the heart.

It was a perfect knowledge of this disposition in his intended wife which had given to Lord Elmwood's thoughts on matrimony, the idea of dreary winter; but the sensibility of Miss Milner had now reversed that prospect into perpetual spring; or the dearer variety of spring, summer, and autumn.

It was a knowledge also of this torpor in Miss Fenton's nature, from which he formed the purpose of breaking with her; for Lord Elmwood still retained enough of the sanctity of his former state to have yielded up his own happiness, and even that of his beloved ward, rather than have plunged one heart into affliction by his perfidy. This, before he offered his hand to Miss Milner, he was perfectly convinced would not be the case—even Miss Fenton herself assured him, that her thoughts were more upon the joys of Heaven than upon those of earth; and as this circumstance would, she believed, induce her to retire into a convent, she thought it a happy, rather than an unhappy, event. Her brother, on whom her fortune devolved if she took this resolution, was exactly of her opinion.

Lost in the maze of happiness that surrounded her, Miss Milner oftentimes asked her heart, and her heart whispered like a flatterer, "Yes;" Are not my charms even more invincible than I ever believed them to be? Dorriforth, the grave, the pious, the anchorite Dorriforth, by their force, is animated to all the ardour of the most impassioned lover—while the proud priest, the austere guardian is humbled, if I but frown, into the veriest slave of love. She then asked, "Why did I not keep him longer in suspense? He could not have loved me more, I believe: but my power over him might have been greater still. I am the happiest of women in the affection he has proved to me, but I wonder whether it would exist under ill treatment? If it would not, he still does not love me as I wish to be loved—if it would, my triumph, my felicity, would be enhanced." These thoughts were mere phantoms of the brain, and never, by system, put into action; but, repeatedly indulged, they were practised by casual occurrences; and the dear-bought experiment of being loved in spite of her faults, (a glory proud women ever aspire to) was, at present, the ambition of Miss Milner.

Unthinking woman! she did not reflect, that to the searching eye of Lord Elmwood, she had faults, with her utmost care to conceal or overcome them, sufficient to try all his love, and all his patience. But what female is not fond of experiments? To which, how few do not fall a sacrifice!

Perfectly secure in the affections of the man she loved, her declining health no longer threatened her; her declining spirits returned as before; and the suspicions of her guardian being now changed to the liberal confidence of a doating lover, she again professed all her former follies, all her fashionable levities, and indulged them with less restraint than ever.

For a while, blinded by his passion, Lord Elmwood encouraged and admired every new proof of her restored happiness; nor till sufferance had tempted her beyond her usual bounds, did he remonstrate. But she, who, as his ward, had been ever gentle, and (when he strenuously opposed) always obedient; became, as a mistress, sometimes haughty, and, to opposition, always insolent. He was surprised, but the novelty pleased him. And Miss Milner, whom he tenderly loved, could put on no change, or appear in no new character that did not, for the time she adopted it, seem to become her.

Among the many causes of complaint which she gave him, want of oeconomy, in the disposal of her income, was one. Bills and drafts came upon him without number, while the account, on her part, of money expended, amounted chiefly to articles of dress that she sometimes never wore, toys that were out of fashion before they were paid for, and charities directed by the force of whim. Another complaint was, as usual, extreme late hours, and often company that he did not approve.

She was charmed to see his love struggling with his censure—his politeness with his anxiety—and by the light, frivolous, or resentful manner in which she treated his admonitions, she triumphed in shewing to Miss Woodley, and, more especially to Mr. Sandford, how much she dared upon the strength of his affections.

Everything in preparation for their marriage, which was to take place at Elmwood House during the summer months, she resolved for the short time she had to remain in London to let no occasion pass of tasting all those pleasures that were not likely ever to return; but which, though eager as she was in their pursuit, she never placed in competition with those she hoped would succeed—those more sedate and superior joys, of domestic and conjugal happiness. Often, merely to hasten on the tedious hours that intervened, she varied and diverted them, with the many recreations her intended husband could not approve.

It so happened, and it was unfortunate it did, that a lawsuit concerning some possessions in the West Indies, and other intricate affairs that came with his title and estate, frequently kept Lord Elmwood from his house part of the day; sometimes the whole evening; and when at home, would often closet him for hours with his lawyers. But while he was thus off his guard, Sandford never was—and had Miss Milner been the dearest thing on earth to him, he could not have watched her more narrowly; or had she been the frailest thing on earth, he could not have been more hard upon her, in all the accounts of her conduct he gave to her guardian. Lord Elmwood knew, on the other hand, that Sandford's failing was to think ill of Miss Milner—he pitied him for it, and he pitied her for it—and in all the aggravation which his representations gave to her real follies, affection for them both, in the heart of Dorriforth, stood between that and every other impression.

But facts are glaring; and he, at length, beheld those faults in their true colours, though previously pointed out by the prejudice of Mr. Sandford.

As soon as Sandford perceived his friend's uneasiness, "There, my Lord!" cried he, exultingly, "did I not always say the marriage was an improper one? but you would not be ruled—you would not see."

"Can you blame me for not seeing," replied his Lordship, "when you were blind? Had you been dispassionate, had you seen Miss Milner's virtues as well as her faults, I should have believed, and been guided by you—but you saw her failings only, and therein have been equally deceived with me, who have only beheld her perfections."

"My observations, however, my Lord, would have been of most use to you; for I have seen what to avoid."

"But mine have been the most gratifying," replied he; "for I have seen—what I must always love."

Sandford sighed, and lifted up his hands.

"Mr. Sandford," resumed Lord Elmwood, with a voice and manner such as he used to put on when not all the power of Sandford, or of any other, could change his fixed determination, "Mr. Sandford, my eyes are now open to every failing, as well as to every accomplishment; to every vice, as well as to every virtue of Miss Milner; nor will I suffer myself to be again prepossessed in her favour, by your prejudice against her—for I believe it was compassion at your unkind treatment, that first gained her my heart."

"I, my Lord?" cried Sandford; "do not load me with the burthen—with the mighty burthen of your love for her."

"Do not interrupt me. Whatever your meaning has been, the effect of it is what I have described. Now, I will no longer," continued he, "have an enemy, such as you have been, to heighten her charms, which are too transcendent in their native state. I will hear no more complaints against her, but I will watch her closely myself—and if I find her mind and heart (such as my suspicions have of late whispered) too frivolous for that substantial happiness I look for with an object so beloved, depend upon my word—the marriage shall yet be broken off."

"I depend upon your word; it will then,"—replied Sandford eagerly.

"You are unjust, Sir, in saying so before the trial," replied Lord Elmwood, "and your injustice shall make me more cautious, lest I follow your example."

"But, my Lord——"

"My mind is made up, Mr. Sandford," returned he, interrupting him; "I am no longer engaged to Miss Milner than she shall deserve I should be—but, in my strict observations upon her conduct, I will take care not to wrong her as you have done."

"My Lord, call my observations wrong, when you have reflected upon them as a man, and not as a lover—divest yourself of your passion, and meet me upon equal ground."

"I will meet no one—I will consult no one—my own judgment shall be the judge, and in a few months marry, or—banish me from her for ever."

There was something in these last words, in the tone and firmness with which they were delivered, that the heart of Sandford rested upon with content—they bore the symptoms of a menace that would be executed; and he parted from his patron with congratulations upon his wisdom, and with giving him the warmest assurances of his firm reliance on his word.

Lord Elmwood having come to this resolution, was more composed than he had been for several days before; while the horror of domestic wrangles—a family without subordination—a house without oeconomy—in a word, a wife without discretion, had been perpetually present to his mind.

Mr. Sandford, although he was a man of understanding, of learning, and a complete casuist, yet all the faults he himself committed, were entirely—for want of knowing better. He constantly reproved faults in others, and he was most assuredly too good a man not to have corrected and amended his own, had they been known to him—but they were not. He had been for so long a time the superior of all with whom he lived, had been so busied with instructing others, that he had not recollected that himself wanted instructions—and in such awe did his habitual severity keep all about him, that although he had numerous friends, not one told him of his failings—except just now Lord Elmwood, but whom, in this instance, as a man in love, he would not credit. Was there not then some reason for him to suppose he had no faults? his enemies, indeed, hinted that he had, but enemies he never harkened to; and thus, with all his good sense, wanted the sense to follow the rule, Believe what your enemies say of you, rather than what is said by your friends. This rule attended to, would make a thousand people amiable, who are now the reverse; and would have made him a perfectly upright character. For could an enemy to whom he would have listened, have whispered to Sandford as he left Lord Elmwood, "Cruel, barbarous man! you go away with your heart satisfied, nay, even elated, in the prospect that Miss Milner's hopes, on which she alone exists, those hopes which keep her from the deepest affliction, and cherish her with joy and gladness, will all be disappointed. You flatter yourself it is for the sake of your friend, Lord Elmwood, that you rejoice, and because he has escaped a danger. You wish him well; but there is another cause for your exultation which you will not seek to know—it is, that in his safety, shall dwell the punishment of his ward. For shame! for shame! forgive her faults, as this of yours requires to be forgiven."

Had any one said this to Sandford, whom he would have credited, or had his own heart suggested it, he was a man of that rectitude and conscientiousness, that he would have returned immediately to Lord Elmwood, and have strengthened all his favourable opinions of his intended wife—but having no such monitor, he walked on, highly contented, and meeting Miss Woodley, said, with an air of triumph,

"Where's your friend? where's Lady Elmwood?"

Miss Woodley smiled, and answered—She was gone with such and such ladies to an auction. "But why give her that title already, Mr. Sandford?"

"Because," answered he, "I think she will never have it."

"Bless me, Mr. Sandford," said Miss Woodley, "you shock me!"

"I thought I should," replied he, "and therefore I told it you."

"For Heaven's sake what has happened?"

"Nothing new—her indiscretions only."

"I know she is imprudent," said Miss Woodley—"I can see that her conduct is often exceptionable—but then Lord Elmwood surely loves her, and love will overlook a great deal."

"He does love her—but he has understanding and resolution. He loved his sister too, tenderly loved her, and yet when he had taken the resolution, and passed his word that he would never see her again—even upon her death-bed he would not retract it—no entreaties could prevail upon him. And now, though he maintains, and I dare say loves, her child, yet you remember, when you brought him home, that he would not suffer him in his sight."

"Poor Miss Milner!" said Miss Woodley, in the most pitying accents.

"Nay," said Sandford, "Lord Elmwood has not yet passed his word, that he will never see her more—he has only threatened to do it; but I know enough of him to know, that his threats are generally the same as if they were executed."

"You are very good," said Miss Woodley, "to acquaint me of this in time—I may now warn Miss Milner of it, and she may observe more circumspection."

"By no means," cried Sandford, hastily—"What would you warn her for? It will do her no good—besides," added he, "I don't know whether Lord Elmwood does not expect secrecy on my part; and if he does——"

"But, with all deference to your opinion," said Miss Woodley, (and with all deference did she speak) "don't you think, Mr. Sandford, that secrecy upon this occasion would be wicked? For consider the anguish that it may occasion to my friend; and if, by advising her, we can save her from——" She was going on.——

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