Mary Jane Mackenzie.

Geraldine; or, Modes of faith and practice. : A tale, in three volumes. (Volume 3) online

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deceived, where I had * garnered up my
heart.' "

** Stop, Montague, and listen to me,"
exclaimed Mr Maitland.

But Montague would not stop; he would
not listen : abruptly leaving the room, he
rushed from the house in an agitation
which Mr. Maitland could not behold
without pity.



GERALDINE.



189



CHAP. XX.

Montague had scarcely been gone an
hour when a note was brought to Mr. Mait-
land containing these words : —

«< To tlie Rev. C. Maitland,

" Do not flatter yourself that your pro-
fession will protect you from my just re-
venge. If you are not as cowardly as you
are treacherous, make the only reparation
now in your power, by giving me the satis-
faction of a gentleman,'*

To this note the following reply was
sent by Mr. Maitland.

** To Montague Mowbray, Esq,

" You have distrusted my integrity, in-
sulted me by suspicion, outraged my feel-



190 GERALDINE.

ings ; but my principles you cannot shake :
they are founded upon a rock. The tem-
porary irritation excited by your violence
has already subsided, and I feel inclined
only to pity you. A man of the world
perhaps would think that he acted magnani-
mously in expressing merely cool contempt
for such conduct ; but a Christian acknow-
ledges a higher principle, and his heart
pities what his judg):ent must condemn.

'' To a mind like yours the feelings of
to-morrow will be sufficient punishment, and
to that punishment alone I leave you.

" Neither threats nor violence will, for a
moment, induce me to disguise the truth.
I acknowledge that I love Geraldine as
fervently as you can do; but this is my
only sin against you. Of any other offence
I am guiltless.

" She is entirely unconscious of my
preference ; nor have I, for a moment,
forgotten the priority of your claims. Ten
thousand times rather would 1 exile myself
for ever from her sight, than forfeit that



GERALDINE. 191

nicety of principle which is dear to me as
a man of honour, still dearer to me as a
Christian.

" The trying and peculiar circumstances
in which Geraldine was placed at Florence,
excited my warmest sympathy, and the
task of consoling and soothing a young
and beautiful woman is not without danger.

" I believe my heart would have been
proof against her attractive lovehness, had
that been her sole charm ; but it was not
proof against that union of lofty principle
and feminine gentleness, which I had daily
opportunities of witnessing.

" From the moment I became conscious
of this truth 1 practised the most rigid
self-denial. You, who know what it is to
love, and to love so matchless a being, are
capable of estimating the sacrifice I made.

" I immediately estranged myself from
her society, stifled every tender feeling,
and incurred the imputation of treating her
with negligence and caprice.

" Prudence, indeed, would have pre-



192 GERALDINE.

scribed this course of conduct 5 for, alas!
I have no offering to make to Geraldine
but that of a fond and faithful heart. 1
might, perhaps, have disregarded these
cold and cautious whispers, had not your
claims interfered ; they could not, for an
instant, be forgotten. Rather would I
submit to the severest sacrifice, than incur
what a conscientious spirit feels most
keenly — * its own rebuke.'

«« If I am not mistaken in your character,
you will retract the injurious language
which, in the madness of the moment, you
permitted to escape you ; but should you
still continue to load me with obloquy, and
to indulge a spirit of hatred and revenge,
think not that I shall so far sully my owh
character, and disgrace the principles I
profess, as to adopt the miserable expe-
dient which you have proposed. Even, if
my profession presented not an insurmount-
able obstacle, my decision would be pre-
cisely the same.

" There is no crime in the whole cata-



GERALDINE. 193

logue of fashionable vices, which I hold in
deeper abhorrence. Think you, that I
would offer at the shrine of so worthless an
idol as false honour^ the costly sacrifice of
an immortal soul ; that I would sanction a
custom which reason condemns, which
religion forbids ; that the last act of my
life should be one of impious defiance
against the positive law of God.

" No, Montague : he must be a Chris-
tian in name alone, who can commit a sin
thus glaring, thus inexpiable. To him,
who is a Christian in deed and in truth, life
appears no poor and paltry gift, to be
rashly hazarded, or cast away with ungrate-
ful and unfeeUng levity. As connected
with his eternal destiny, it is to him a term
of immense and infinite value. His heart
is filled with deep reverence, with bound-
less gratitude, to that God in whom he
lives and moves, and has his being ; nor
can he, for a single moment, weigh the
contempt of man against the authority of

VOL. III. K



194 GERALDINE,

that eternal and immutable Judge, com-
pared to whose awful frown * the concen-
trated attention of all the beings in the
universe would be powerless as the gaze of
an infant.*

" Farewell 1 If you think my forgiveness
w^orth accepting, I freely give it you : and
that many years of peace and virtue may
be yet in store for you, is the prayer of
" Your sincere friend,

" Charles Maitland.**



GERALDINE, 1 95



CHAR XXI.

Montague, on his return to Woodlands,
found temporary relief in pouring forth his
new tale of grievances to Mrs. Mowbray.

Geraldine's rejection did not appear
quite so humiliating, now that he suspected
Mr. Maitland of ' treasons, stratagems, and
plots ;* and his sense of disappointment be-
came less keen than his desire of avenging
himself on this false friend.

Mrs. Mowbray waited till he had ex-
hausted his fury by abusing Mr. Maitland
in every possible variety of term ; and then
coolly observed, that she had suspected the
fact for some time ; and that, far from par-
ticipating the feelings of Montague, she
thought nothing could be more suitable
than the connection to which this love
K 2



1 96 GERALDINE.

would probably lead. There was a striking
similarity in the habits, tastes, and princi-
ples of the parties ; and though Geraldine
was spoiled by her methodistical notions for
a woman of fashion, she would make a
paragon of a wife for a country parson ;
she would be quite in her element when in-
structing a group of ragged children, and
making baby clothes and caudle for their
mothers. Certainly it was mortifying to
see her becoming such a mere nobody,
after the advantages she had enjoyed, and
the superior class into which she had been
introduced \ but she bad decidedly, no taste
for an elevated sphere, and, therefore, it was
much the wisest plan to leave her quietly
to fill one in which * her virtues might
walk their narrow round.*

Montague, unconvinced by thisreasoning,
and highly irritated by his mother's total
want of sympathy, would listen no longer ;
and appealing to his father, begged to
know his opinion of Mr. Maitland's aho-
minahle conduct.



GERALDINE, 197

Mr. Mowbray sarcastically replied, that
as Montague had exercised his privilege of
falling in love as often as he pleased, he
could not reasonably complain of Mr. Mait-
land's availing himself of the same privilege;
and he begged to suggest, that instead of
talking tlius fluently of what was honourable,
it would be better if he would learn to prac-
tise it.

Montague, wounded to the quick, left the
room muttering something about stocks and
stones, and hearts of marble ; and shut
himself up in his chamber, impatiently
awaiting Mr. Maitland's reply.

It arrived, and produced an instantaneous
revolution in the ever-fluctuating feelings
of Montague. Mr. Maitland was rapidly
transformed from a daemon to a divinity,
and he soon felt inclined to worship the
man whom, a few minutes before, he had
loaded with opprobrium. He acknow-
ledged, that Mr. Maitland had acted the
most honourable part ; and, comparing his
own impetuous and defective character,
K 3



198 GERALDINE.

with the unblemished integrity and un-
deviating excellence of his friend, felt
humbled and wretched at the contrast.

He meditated all night over this letter ;
and passing, as usual, from one extreme to
another, reasoned himself into the con-
viction, that Mr. Maitland alone was wor-
thy of Geraldine ; and to prove that he was
not entirely undeserving of the friendship
of such a man, resolved to be magnanimous,
to resign his pretensions, and not only to
leave the field open to his faultless rival,
but, if possible, to surmount the obstacles
which prudence opposed to the accomplish-
ment of his secret wishes.

To prove the sincerity of this deter-
mination, and to prevent the possibility of
his receding from it, he immediately wrote
to Matilda, urging her once more to re-
ceive him in the character of a lover ; but
though Montague, when inspired by his
mischievous muse, could play the lover
with astonishing facility, he could not, in
plain prose, feign an ardour which he did



GERALDINE. 199

not feel ; and his letter to Matilda, though
couched in terms intended to be persuasive,
betrayed too much of the real state of his
heart to produce the desired effect.

She disdained to be indebted to com-
passion for the hand which she had fondly
hoped would have been the offering of
love ; and though he had plainly stated
that his engagement with Geraldine was at
an end for ever, refused his overtures in
terms the most unequivocal.

Reconciled in some degree to himself by
having made this offer, and by the generous
determination he had formed, his heart was
inexpressibly lightened ; and the desire of '
making a noble reparation to Mr. Maitland
soon filled and occupied his mind nearly to
the exclusion of every other subject. His
active imagination was continually at
w^ork. Bishopricks, deaneries, and pre-
bends, had they been in his gifl, would have
been lavishly heaped upon him at that mo-
ment

Alas ! he had not even a living to ofler.
K 4



^00 GERALDINE^

The presentation to that of Hartley, would
indeed be his on some future day, but that
day was probably far distant.

In the present state of his mind, how-
ever, difficulties the most discouraging,
obstacles the most formidable, appeared
slight to Montague ; or rather served to
stimulate him to action. It would, indeed,
afford him a species of consolation, to
grapple with and conquer them. It would
be luxury to exert every energy of body
and mind in the service of the friend whpm
he had injured.

He resolved upon an immediate visit to
Richmond, that he might consult Mr.
Spenser on the occasion, and interest him
in the promotion of his schemes.

After fully recanting, in the presence of
Mr. and Mrs. Mowbray, all that he had
uttered in the vehemence of his wrath, he
sent the following notes to Geraldine and
Mr. Maitland, and immediately commenced
his journey to Richmond,



GERALDINE. 201

" To the Rev. C. Maitland,
*< You are generous enough to offer me
your forgiveness, but can I ever be recon-
ciled to myself, or cease to remember, with
the bitterest anguish, my unjustifiable con-
duct towards you?

" I am sure that you will accept this
acknowledgement as a feeble though in-
sufficient atonement 5 but I feel that I have
forfeited all claim to your good opinion,
nor can 1 ever recover my own, till I have
proved myself less unworthy the title of
your faithful friend,

" Montague Mowbray."

" To Miss Beresford.

" I will no longer attempt to combat
your resolution, my dearest Geraldine j
you shall never again be distressed by the
violence, or persecuted by the claims of
him whom you so justly rejected.

" Forgive, if you can, the pain I have
so frequently occasioned you j but why
should I for a moment doubt it ? Your
K 5



j20S GERALDINE.

heart is too full of gentleness and charity to
harbour the emotion of anger, even against
an enemy; much less would you cherish it
towards an erring being, whom you once
honoured with your preference, once blessed
with vour tenderness.

«* Let me not revert to that happy
period of my life, lest I should find my
courage fail, and again madly refuse to
relinquish you. I was unworthy such bliss :
it is fit that it should be reserved for
unequalled excellence and unsullied worth.

" I acknowledge the justice of your
decision, and bid you farewell, not with
murmurs, but with blessings.

" To promote, or to witness your hap-
piness, \^ ill now be the consolation and
privilege of him, who, in resigning his
fondest hope, still cherishes that of being
numbered with your most affectionate and
faithful friends.

" Montague Mowbrat.'*



GERALDINE. 203



CHAP. XXII.

jVIontague pursued his journey to Rich-
mond with as much rapidity as if the pos-
session of an empire had depended upon
his reaching it at a given moment.

Tlie sacrifice he had just made ennobled
him in his own eyes. To have bowed to
authority, to have yielded to necessity,
would have been humiliating ; but to be a
martyr, at the shrine of friendship — this was
glorious ! The idea of consummating the
sacrifice, by supplying Mr. Maitland with
competence, if not with wealth, kindled all
the enthusiastic feeling of his nature; and,
during the journey, his fancy was busy in
anticipating the fervent gratitude his ex-
ertions would excite, and the exquisite
felicity he should bestow.

He hoped that, the magnanimity he in-
K 6



?04 GERALDINE.

tended to display would check, if it did
not entirely prevent, the lively raillery of
Fanny, of which he felt some dread.

On approaching the house, he saw Mr.
Spenser's travelling carriage just drawing
from the door, and perceived, by the jaded
state of the horses, that they had been urged
to extraordinary speed. He considered
the circumstance, however, as accidental,
and rejoiced in the certainty of finding
Spenser at home. Alighting quickly, he
was making his way across the hall to the
library, where he knew the family usually
assembled in the morning, when a servant
requested to show him to another apart-
ment, saying, that Mr. Spenser had given
strict orders not to be disturbed.

" Is he ill ?'' enquired Montague.

" No, Sir," said the man, with hesita-
tion ; " but have you not heard? — "
-.f< Heard what?" asked Montague, in
great alarm ; <* has any evil befallen my
sister ?"

The servant was silent.



GERALDIKE, 205

** Speak, for Heaven's sake,'* exclaimed
Montague ; *' let me know the worst. Is
she ill ; is she dying?"

*' She is well, I believe. Sir," said the ser-
vant, mournf Lilly.

*« What then can have happened ; where
is she?" said Montague, sickening with
apprehension.

The servant was again silent, apparently
dreading to reveal the truth.

Montague, prepared for tidings of the
most disastrous nature, insisted upon seeing
Mr. Spenser immediately ; and, notwith-
standing the remonstrances of the servant,
forced his way into the library.

" Did I not give orders to be denied ?^*
said Mr. Spenser, fiercely, as the door opened.
On recognising Montague, the expression
of his countenance changed.

'* Has the sad tale already reached you ?"
said he, in a mournful tone ; " rumour has
indeed been swift."

*< I know nothing," replied Montague,



^6 GERALBINfi.

shaking with agitation ; ** but that some
terrible calamity has happened.'*

«' The whole town by this time knows,"
said Mr. Spenser, " that your sister has dis-
graced her husband, her family, and herself
for ever."

Mute with astonishment and horror,
Montague allowed Mr. Spenser to go on
without interruption.

*' She left this house yesterday evening,*''
continued he, *' accompanied by Sir Henry
Ireton, and I have reason to believe that
they have by this time left England."

" Horrible ["exclaimed Montague ;<* what
can have urged her to so desperate and
dreadful a step ? How is it possible that her
heart could ever be estranged from you —
you, whom she loved with a tenderness so
fervent, so devoted?"

'' It has been estranged," replied Spenser,
vehemently, " by my own folly and his
cursed arts. I scorn all subterfuge. I have
not been guiltless. I have been an in-



GERALDINE. 20?

dulgent, but not a faithful husband. For
Fanny, then, I feel something like pity ;
but the wretch, the insolent wretch, who
has dared to invade my rights ; who has
lured her by his specious, devihsh arts, —
shall feel my fury — my vengeance. I
will hunt him through the world ere he
shall escape me."

He paused, and walked in great agi-
tation about the room.

" I know him to be a heartless villain,*'
continued he. ** Unhappy Fanny ! in seek-
ing to avenge herself for my neglect, she
will heap coah of fire on her own head.
From my soul I pity her."

" What can be done to save, to rescue
her ?" said Montague.

" Nothing I nothing upon earth," rephed
Mr. Spenser. "She has passed the Rubicon;
and Heaven itself cannot save her now.
This, however, I can promise, and let it be
distinctly stated to Mr. Mowbray, that I
will seek no legal redress for my wrongs*
Personal revenge t must have; but toward*



208 GERALDINE.

Fanny I will exercise forbearance. HeV
name shall not be dragged into a public
court, coupled as it would be with infamy ;
she was not made for such degradation.'*

Mr. Spenser spoke with emotion ; he was
suffering under a keen sense of his own
unpardonable, irretrievable errors as a hus-
band. Conscience awoke : he saw them in
their real malignity ; and Fanny, degraded
in the eyes of the world, her name polluted,
her happiness wrecked for ever, appeared
to him rather the victim than the aggressor,
— an object not of scorn but of pity.

Her image rose to his view in all the
sparkling brilliancy in which it at first met
his eye, when hope sprung in every thought,
joy beamed in every look. He contrasted
this bright dawn with the deep gloom by
which she might too soon be encompassed,
and shuddered at the picture.

Still his remorse was rather agonizing
tlian salutary ; he was shocked by the effect
of his gross violation of duty, not by the
violation itself 5 none of the humility of



GERALDINE. 209

genuine repentance dwelt in his bosom ;
he was cherishing a spirit of deep revenge,
and madly resolving either to sacrifice his
own life or that of the man he hated.

Montague did not oppose these sen-
timents : the eloquence of Mr. Maitland,
on the subject of duelling had startled
him ; he acknowledged the force of his
reasoning, confessed that taking his solemn
view of the subject, the objections to the
practice were powerfid ; but other views of
it might also be taken ; and, after all, there
were circumstances, occasions, in w4iich
but one course could be adopted by a man
of spirit — of honour. He must submit to
necessity. He considered the present as
one of those occasions, in which direct dis-
obedience to the law of God was indispens-
able ; and readily offered to accompany
vSpenser in his pursuit of Sir Henry Ireton.

*' Mr. Spenser suspected that the fugi-
tives were on their road to Paris ; but he
determined to ascertain this point, and to



210 GERALDINE.

arrange his affairs before he attempted the
pursuit.

Had he been less frank in acknowledging
his defects, as a husband, Montague would
probably have felt disposed to become his
accuser ; but there was a generosity in his
candour which wholly disarmed him ; and
though he could by no means exonerate
him, lie was less disposed than Mr. Spenser
to apologise for Fanny.

As he apprehended the disgraceful tale
w^ould soon find its way into the daily
papers, he sent an express to Woodlands,
disclosing the circumstances with as little
abruptness as possible.



GERALDINE. 21 1



CHAP. XXIII.

Prepared, by the arrival of the express,
for intelligence of an extraordinary or dis-
astrous nature, Mrs. Mowbray eagerly
watched the countenance of her hu-band
as he read the contents of the letter : its
extreme paleness and agitation excited her
worst fears.

He continued silent, with the letter in
his hand, for a minute or two arter its
perusal ; and then, with an ineliectual
effort to speak with calmness, exclaimed, —

** The event which I have long foreboded
is come to pass ; your daugliter is eternally
disgraced. She has long been miserable ;
she is now^ guilty." f^

Having said these words, he placed the
letter in Mrs. Mowbray's hands and left
the room. They had sufficiently explained



Sl^ GERALDINE.

its purport, but she eagerly ran it over, to
ascertain the particulars.

She was astonished and grieved by the
intelligence it contained j but it was not
the sin, it was the disgrace by which she
was chiefly affected. She pronounced it
to be a shocking affair, a very shocking
affair indeed; but she felt more irritated
by the folly, the imprudence, the absurdity
of Fanny, tlian humiliated by her guilt.
To forfeit such a station, to forsake a
husband who neither limited her expenses,
controlled her wishes, nor interfered with
her pleasures, because he happened not
to be immaculate, was either an act of
positive madness, or of folly the most in-
excusable. She declared that Mr. Spenser
w^as a paragon to exercise the forbearance
he did j and far from pitying her mistaken
and misguided daughter, she could only
exclaim against her provoking and in-
corrigible wilfulness.

Far different were the feelings excited in
the iP-ind of Geraldine by the news of this



GERALDINE. 213

^veiit. She had left Wentworth-hall for
the vicarage, and the letter was forwarded
to her there, accompanied by a few lines
from Mrs. Mowbray.

Affected even to agony, she wept over
the fall, shuddered at the guilt, and
trembled for the future destiny of Fanny,

Mr. Spenser had long been to her an
object of fear and disgust ; and she felt as-
tonished at the terms in which Montague
spoke of his forbearance : amidst all her
conviction of his guilt, however, she still
traced this fatal step to a deeper source ;
but in acknowledging Fanny's lamentable
deficiencies and total want of principle, she
considered her as entitled to the sincerest
pity ; for even this irretrievable evil might
be attributed to her wretchedly defective
education.

She thought, with unaffected sympathy,
of the lovely little girl, deserted and dis-
graced by its natural protector, and longed
to watch and cherish the beauteous bud,
thus rudely reft from its parent stem.



214 GERALDINE.

Helen Wentworth had accompanied her
to the vicarage. Mr. Fullarton had been
made acquainted with her state of mind,
and he felt benevolently anxious to coun-
teract the mistakes into which she had
fallen. He knevv^ that this was to be ef-
fected, not by lessening the exquisite
tenderness of her conscience, not by in-
sinuating that less piety, less purity, less
holiness, would render her more useful or
more happy ; but by cultivating and
strengthening her judgment, and by im-
pressing on her mind the consoling truth,
that God has mercifully declared, in terms
the most unequivocal, that he is the * re-
warder of those who diligently seek him.*

The late fatal event in Mr. Mowbray's
family, proved a lesson fruitful of instruc-
tion. Fanny, young and lovely, gifted
with affluence, blessed with the finest ta-
lents, thus degrading herself into a warning,
was an object calculated to excite not only
the deepest pity, but the most salutary re-
flections.



GERALDINE. 215

Alas ! not any of the numerous graces
and gifts she had so liberally received, had
been used to the glory of the Giver ; they had
either been wasted or abused. God had not
been in all her thoughts ; and in the hour of
temptation she was destitute of the weapon
which could alone defend, the shield which
could alone protect her.

Mr. Fullarton earnestly conjured Ge-
raldine and her young friend not to allow
their feelings to evaporate in transient pity,
but to lay this event to heart, that they
might be induced to improve with diligence
the religious advantages they enjoyed ; and
to cherish those principles, without which
the lustre of beauty, rank, and talent, was
useless as a brilliant setting without a gem.

The three days succeeding that on which
Mr. Mowbray received the tidings of
Fanny's flight, he passed in his study,
wholly secluding himself from his family
and friends. On the fourth day, he joined
them as usual at breakfast, and issued a
command that the name of Fanny should



216 GERALDINE.

never again be mentioned in his presence.
He then resumed his usual habits ; but the
traces of suffering remained. His manner
became increasingly cynical, his sarcasms
more bitter, and his fits of abstraction more


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