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yet where her passions did not interfere, she acted on calculation as to what would best secure her position in that world which she valued. In addition to the calculated effect of a short retirement, Fanny really suffered from some indisposition, and as she remained in her own roum, almost entirely alone, and depressed in spirits by her slight illness, she looked back on the irrecoverable past with something approaching a feeling of repentance. “I will be different for the future," she thought
_“I will try to win back my husband's love. He loved me once, and it surely cannot be difficult for me to make him do so again.” She sent for her child, but was too unwell to bear its restless and incessant prattle. “Take her away for the time,” she said; “when I am better, she shall come again to her mamma.”
These were the feelings of the sick room. Fanny's indisposition soon passed away, and she grew weary of confinement, and of good resolutions, which, formed as they had been, in her own strength, and without one thought of Him, who alone could make them of any avail, were as sure to wither as the frail plant which, unwatered and untended, is placed where the dew and the rain from heaven can never reach it.
An invitation was at length accepted, and, looking somewhat languid, Mrs. Howard reappeared in society. In the course of the evening she was induced to sing; her strength was not yet sufficiently recovered to allow of her attempting any of the brilliant music in which she excelled, but never had her voice sounded more exquisite than now, as, accompanying herself on the harp, she sung a simple melody, which she had learned long ago, and which had once been a great favourite of Robert Sinclair's; for there was a softuess in her tone, a tenderness in her expression, which did not always add to the charm of her singing. As she ceased, she raised her eyes smilingly, in return for the plaudits which her admiring audience poured forth, and they met the glance of—Robert Sinclair! In an instant her heart gave one convulsive bound, and then seemed as if it had stopped for ever; the room and all the people swam around her, she heard a buzzing, rushing sound in her ears, she gasped for breath, and, in attempting to rise hurriedly, fell back fainting into the arms of those who were nearest. There was, of course, all the commotion usual on such occasions; but Sir Robert Sinclair took no part in it
-he kept silently in the background, and no one dreamt (for Fanny's sisters were not present) that he had been, in any way, the cause of Mrs. Howard's sudden attack—the heat of the room, and her recent indisposition, seeming quite sufficient to account for it.
As soon as she had somewhat recovered, Fanny returned home, and in the solitude of her own apartment gave herself up to anxious speculation. “How came he there? Why came he there?” she asked herself; and she tried to recollect the expression of those eyes which had been so intently gazing at her when she looked up—but in vain. She could not recollect it, she had not had time to read it, she only knew that it had been a fixed and eager gaze. "And how shall we meet?” she said. “Will it be as strangers ?" And, sighing sadly, she unlocked her casket, and from its secret repository drew forth the miniature which she had contemplated so earnestly on the night before her marriage. Poor Charles Howard! and all regard for his happiness were again forgotten!
Fanny could not read the expression which her former lover's eyes had borne when she saw them so unexpectedly in the room. Could she have seen them after the party broke up, she would have started in dismay and wonder. There was triumph in them, and hate, and yet a mingling of admiration. Sinclair remained long in silent reverie that night, before seeking his bed: what his thoughts were it might not be easy accurately to define ; but, alas! the blight caused by the unexpected disappointment and mortification so heartlessly inflicted by Fanny, together with the dissipations of Paris and other gay capitals, had sadly altered the character of what had once been a noble and right-feeling mind.
It was not long before Mrs. Howard and Sir Robert Sinclair met, and renewed their acquaintance. A mutual friend had proposed to introduce them; but the gentleman said frankly, and rather gaily, “Oh, we are old friends, though this is the first time that I have spoken to Fanny Somerville as Mrs. Howard.” Fanny could not help feeling somewhat disappointed at the light, careless tone in which the words were spoken.
Soon a new and bitter mortification arose—the world gave Sir Robert Sinclair to Miss Crewe, who was still unmarried; and when Fanny returned from balls and parties, it was generally to pour into the patient ear of Mary Smith-for a woman, however proud, must in some degree have her confidante-her vexation at seeing him devote himself so much to that young lady, the hated rival, to annoy whom she had, in some measure, resolved on what proved to be her own self sacrifice.
“My dear Miss Fanny,” Mary would say, “ it is nothing to you now. You cannot marry Sir Robert, and why should you care who is to be Lady Sinclair?”
“I know as well as you do that I cannot marry Sir Robert,” she would reply; " but I do care about his marrying that Miss Crewe—nor shall he do so, if I can prevent it."
“ Take care, Miss Fanny, what you do to prevent it; perhaps you may go too far. But, to be sure, there can be no more harm in your speaking to an old friend like Sir Robert, than there was in Captain Howard's being so much with Miss Selby."
“ You need not fear me, Mary,” Mrs. Howard would say, with a haughty curve of her fine throat. “ I will make Robert Sinclair feel the difference between his old love and his new, and when he does so, I will go no further. My pride will keep me from going too far.”
Accordingly, Fanny did her utmost to divert the attention of her former lover from Miss Crewe to herself; and her task was, in this instance, an easy one, for she had but to let a little of the attachment which she really felt for him be apparent; and she was met, more than willingly, by the gentleman himself. By degrees, Miss Crewe was deserted, and Sir Robert Sinclair became a constant attendant on Mrs. Howard : at home, abroad, everywhere he was her shadow. She triumphed over Miss Crewe once more-but the triumph was not without serious injury to herself. The world around her first hinted and whispered, then spoke aloud, and shouted “Shame on her!”—but she turned from its warning whisperings in scorn-she replied to its loud reproaches with defiance. Her sisters begged her, almost with tears, for her own, for her child's sake to give up this dangerous intimacy at once for ever: she answered all these entreaties with rage and indignation.
Time passed on, and each successive day showed that the pride on which Fanny had relied would prove but a frail support: indeed, that very pride, from its preventing her listening to the advice and warnings of her friends, was actually an enemy in the camp. Robert Sinclair had, of late, become an adept in these matters—he saw his advantage, and prosecuted it by all those arts which he well knew how to use. In Mary Smith he had a most useful, though unobtrusive auxiliary ; as matters grew serious, there was not an entire and direct confidence between her and her infatuated mistress, but there was soon a tacit understanding that she could be trusted with notes and messages, which it might be dangerous to confide to another. One thing was especially remarkable in her guarded conduct, which was, that she steadily refused all gifts from both parties : but she spared no effort to keep them from observation, and was very soon an indispensable agent in their clandestine intercourse.
Fanny's sisters at length became very seriously alarmed, but Major Ponsonby and Mr. Colman happened to be both absent, and they knew not how to act. As a last resource, Louisa wrote to Captain Howard, entreating his return. He obeyed as early as possible, but came only to find his home deserted, and to hear from the weeping Louisa, that Fanny had fled with Sir Robert Sinclair. Mary Smith had also disappeared, and of course it was concluded that she had gone to England with her mistress.
Poor Charles said very little when the tale was told him of his wife's heartless treatment, both of himself and of her former lover. Still, he could not but reproach her sisters for their silence. “Why,” he said to Louisa, “ why did you not come forward to save us all? How could you see all this, and not say one word of warning ?”.
“I was indeed wrong," said Louisa, “and bitterly do I repent it
“Now it is too late," he replied ; “ my happiness is destroyed, and your wretched sister is ruined for ever.”
In a very short time, Charles, having with him his little girl and a nurse to attend her, was once more on his way to Europe, with the intention of tracing the fugitives, and seeking that redress which the customs of the world prescribed. Yet often, on the passage especially when he walked the quiet deck, on the glorious evenings of the tropics, when the lofty snow-white canvas was stilled by the gentle breeze, and the moon shed her glistening pathway on the sea-or when he leaned over the side on the dark nights, when the wind blew fresh and free, and watched the waves when they curled back glittering, as with myriads of fire-flies, from the rushing bows, like those spirits whose brightness is unknown until called forth by the rude shocks of adversity-often at such times would the revenge which he contemplated, and the fear of what the world would say, seem both wicked and contemptible in his eyes, and the image of Eleanor Selby, and home, and peace, and happiness would float in dim visions of hope gently and soothingly over his heart. Then, when he retired to his cabin, he would half resolve to content himself with such redress as he might seek for from the laws both of God and of man, and would lay himself down and sleep calmly and in peace.
After a passage of nearly four months the ship arrived in London, and there Charles received information that the fugitives were in France. He at once made arrangements for following them : “ She has deserved nothing at my hands," he said to himself, “but I will not altogether desert her. I too, perhaps, have been somewhat to blame in this unfortunate affair. I married, not a woman whose mind and principles had satisfied my judgment, but one whose beauty and apparent preference for myself had fascinated my imagination, and flattered my vanity; and when, as her husband, I became disgusted with her proud, unbridled temper, perhaps I did not do as much as I might have done to win her affection, or to alter her character. No, I will not give her up entirely: she will soon be cast upon the stream, for the man she is with can neither respect nor love her, and will soon weary of her society. I will, in that case, offer her the means of returning from the evil of her way, and will allow her sufficient to keep her in comfort ; but I will take immediate steps to break the legal tie which binds us--the name which she has dishonoured, she shall not continue to bear. For the rest, I will be guided by circumstances. I cannot write poor Eleanor the tale of sin,” he went on ruminating. “ I will first find out what has become of the miserable woman, and then I will take my poor child to my early home, and beg Mrs. Selby to be a mother to her, as she once was to me.” And then, again, a pleasant, half-formed vision came, to warm his heart with something like hope for the future.
In pursuance of this intention, Charles immediately called on his solicitor, and gave him directions for taking the steps on which he had resolved; and in the mean while he himself, with his little girl, proceeded directly to Paris, where he fully expected to find those whom he sought. But all his inquiries, guardedly though anxiously made, on his arrival, convinced him that they were not there, and he could find no certain clue whatever to guide him as to the course which he should pursue. Some vague rumours, however, induced him to proceed to Cherbourg; but there he was equally unsuccessful, and remained quite uncertain as to what measures he should adopt. One day, as he was walking on the quay, his attention was attracted by a schooner with English colours flying, and looking at the stern, he read Dolly Pentreath, of Port Allan. Now Port Allan, a small seaport on the north-west coast of Cornwall, was but sixteen miles from St. Bennett's, and the name looked to poor Charles like a glimpse of home; so he went on board the vessel, and entered into conversation with the master. The latter, a sturdy, plain-spoken, good-humoured man, told him that he had nearly got in his cargo, and intended leaving for home in the course of a day or two; and on Charles's telling him that he knew Port Allan and the neighbourhood, he soon entered eagerly, and somewhat proudly—as people from small towns generally do—on the condition of his native place.
“You know, sir," he said, “ Port Allan is always very gay in the summer months. People can't help admiring and coming to enjoy our beautiful beach, the great caverns as big as churches, and the high cliffs, not to mention the view of the sea, which I think, sir, seems necessary to English people, and especially to Cornish folks, gentle and simple; the poor souls that are forced to live inland soon get tired of their woods, their rivers, and their green fields, and pant and pine for the sea, like fish
out of water. Well, sir, as I was saying, all the season the lodgings at Port Allan have been crammed full, though now, as it is getting late, a good many have gone back to their own homes. But the day before I sailed, or the day I sailed—I forget which it was—my missus (i. e. wife) told me that some lodgers had taken Mrs. Sparnell's rooms, there by the road leading down to the quay; the best lodgings they are in the place, too, sir ; they are right on the edge of the cliff, and have a beautiful view of the sea and the basin. It was a widow lady, and her daughter, she said
- Let-me-see! What was their name?” he continued, scratching his head thoughtfully. “I did hear, but I've got the worst memory! Seb-Sed—Sedly? No, it wasn't Sedly. Something like it, though, too. Dear me! I've got the worst memory!".
“It wasn't Selby, was it?" said Charles.
“ That's it!" shouted the other, slapping his thigh triumphantly; “ Selby's the name—Mrs. and Miss Selby. Selby! that's it."
“ Where are they from ?" inquired Charles, eagerly.
“ From St. Bennett's,” replied the master. “1 heerd the women gossiping about them, as they do about most things that don't concern them; and I heerd them saying that the mother was a great fortune, or the daughter was a great fortune, or had been a great fortune, or would be a great fortune, or something—I forget what it was exactly ; but, dear me! I have got the worst memory!”
Charles smiled at the idea of Mrs. Selby, or Nelly, being called "great fortunes ;" but in the hope that the ladies named were his own old friends, and as, at all events, Port Allan was but a short distance from St. Bennett's, the thought struck him, as he walked back to the hotel, that he would arrange with the captain of the Dolly Pentreath for a passage back with him, and confide his child at once to Mrs. Selby's protection.
“ It is no use for me to stay here,” he said to himself; “I can discover no traces of those whom I seek, and perhaps it is as well that I have not found them. My gentle Nelly would shrink with horror from me, coming with the curse of blood-guiltiness upon my brow, but now ” and the thought of going home to those he loved brought a smile to his lips, and a feeling of joy to his heart, more bright and happy than they had known for many a day.
An arrangement with the master of the schooner was easily made ; and as the vessel left the harbour, and leaned over with the favouring breeze, Charles said, half aloud,
“ Nelly! dear Nelly! will you pity and console the dishonoured Charlie Howard, and receive his child for his sake?”.
MEANWHILE, matters had gone on prosperously with Mrs. Selby. The elder Barfoots, who had been under her care, had, of course, been withdrawn from school, but their places had been filled, through Dr. Barfoot's interest, by other pupils ; and Eleanor, who had worked indefatigably to supply the unavoidable deficiencies in her education which her blindness had produced, one day proposed to her mother to open a larger establishment. “Jane,” she said, “ has grown too old to work, and now that we have to keep an additional servant, we must, if possible, in