ページの画像
PDF
ePub

a higher duty than that to their neighbour namely, that to their God-called upon them to call back this poor lamb into the true fold, this lost child to the breast of the true mother Church.

Let this be a lesson to those rash and mistaken parents, who are beguiled by specious promises (never even meant to be kept), or if kept to the ear, to be broken to the sense, to place their young and impressionable daughters in the very circle of the enchantress. She of Babylon has forgotten none of her witcheries; as she was of yore, so is she now; hers, all that can seduce the senses and captivate the fancy. Music lends her mighty aid to melt and to inspire ; painting to realize, and affection and sympathy to win — to win what? to win the young heart to the shrine of idols, to lead the young mind from light into darkness. Oh! what are a few foreign accomplishments worth, an accent, or a grace ?—that for such flippery, parents, fond parents, should risk the

pearl of great price, the religion of a darling child ?

Yes, eloquence, and kindness, and music, and sympathy, were all brought together on poor Annie's wounded heart ; and ere long the confidence which she had withheld from the fosterers and companions of her childhood, was freely given to a specious monk and a coaxing nun.

No marvel, then, that her affections for those once so dear waxed fainter and fainter ; no wonder that her letters grew constrained and cold; no wonder that cunning and concealment were now her policy. At heart she was already half a Jesuit, and quite a papist.

Entirely guided by a monk, who was the ruling spirit of the place, a clever, endearing, and most eloquent man, her heart, her soul, her conduct, were guided by him. About this time, De Villeneuve came to see her; he was on his way to Winterthur — they met, as he supposed, by stealth ; but Annie was a Jesuit

now. She acted by the prudent counsels of a man who really took a deep interest in the fate and welfare of his young proselyte. Her beauty, intellectualised and softened by the life she had led, wrought promptly on the heart, or rather the senses, of De Villeneuve. He proposed to satisfy her scruplesma clandestine marriage, performed by a Romish priest-knowing what he supposed Annie, in her young innocence, knew not, that such a marriage between a Catholic and Protestant could not be binding.

Annie privately took counsel of her confidential priest, consented, and the ceremony was performed. For some days, De Villeneuve lingered at Cologne; Annie and he met privately, and he then told the mourning bride that he must tear himself from her, but that, on his return home, he would contrive to take her with him. Annie sobbed and fainted, and tore her hair, and beat her breast; but De Villeneuve left her all the same.

Yes, he left his victim with a light heart, for he had, as he fancied, wrought her ruin, and now his very soul was at Ellen's feet. He was the bearer of a letter from Sir Peter Riskwell to Mr. Lindsay : when given to him, this letter was sealed, and certainly he had never dreamt of breaking that seal. However, “the means to do ill deeds makes ill deeds done.” The Custom-house officers at Antwerp had broken the seal; while De Villeneuve's mind was full of Annie, he never thought of this letter, when Annie was become nothing to him (as was now the case); in opening his pocket-book, the letter fell out. He remembered that Sir Peter had told him it was on important business. He looked at it, his colour rose, his heart beat, his hand trembled; for one moment a sense of honour and chivalry held out, against a vile curiosity and a base and interested treachery, and the next he deliberately unfolded and perused the letter.

What he there read we are not yet at liberty to reveal, but, instead of stopping to partake of the choice repast he had ordered at Manheim, he commanded post-horses, fee'd the postillions, travelled night and day, and arrived at Winterthur, on a bright spring morning, about a week after the appearance there of Miss Babie Douglas.

When, with a pale cheek and beating heart, he rushed through the beautiful and winding lanes of the villa where the Lindsays dwelt, he met Babie Douglas, dressed in fanciful mourning, with a black velvet cap, surmounted by an erect black plume, and decked with bugle tassels and jet butterflies, she was leaning on, or rather hanging to, the huge arm of the lion of the age, Ebenezer Grunter !

Alas! alas ! shall we withdraw the veil, and shew that even philosophers can be weak! Babie and her puir twa hoondred have withdrawn great Grunter from the pleasant paths of peace and science, to lead him first along

« 前へ次へ »