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fions which increafed the unfubdued emotion that
he had felt at the opera.

Fie propofed to Fitzofborne to form a party.
J^dvvard pleaded a total want of {kill ; protefted,
.that he had a fixed abhorrence of the gw\rrvtiig-


table ; and declared, that he never vifited thofe
(cenes, except to iiudy the human chara6^er, and
to morahze on the fatal effc6ls of the impetuous
pafTion of avarice. His refle6^ions were foon
flnifhed that evening, for in a little time he pro-
fefTed himfelf wearied with the fcene, and he
propof^d to lord Monteith that they (hould retire
to a private room. There too he felt the mo-
ments drag heavily, and it was mutually agreed
to enliven them by a friendly game at picquet.

The ftake firft propcfed was trifling. Mon-
teith was unfuccefsful. He transferred his la-
tent rcfentment to the cards, which he ftamped
under hfs foot; called for a new pack, and in-
filled upon doubling the fum they played for.
The events of the evening put feveral hundreds
into Firzofborne's pocket ; and his fuccefs might
ftill have been greater, but neither his friendihip
nor his honour would (he proteftcd) permit him
to urge his good fortune any further. *' Your
*' temper," faid he, " is too warm; and I hope
" the little vexations of this evening will con-
" vince you of the necciTity of felf- control, or
" at leaft prevent you from trying your chance
" with thofe who mi^rht take the ungenerous
" advantage of your agitation, which I fcorn to
« ufe."

" I value not money," faid Monteith an-
grily ; " nor can the curfed cards agitate me. A
" tJuce with your morality, therefore, Edward;
" when I want a monitor, it is time enough for
." you to inveft yourfelf with that dignity."

" I am not in a refentful humour," returned
Fitzofborne fmiling. " 1 ihall therefore very
" gladly refign mv dignity, as you term it. In-
" deed, I have been a liule unlucky in the exer-
" cife of it this evenino-. Yet if my well-meant
" admonitions are but remembered by my

'* friendsj


" friends, the dirinrereftednefs of my attachment
" will enable me to fupport a little tranfient acri-
*' mony."'

" Where elfe did you play the lecf^urer ?" in-
quired Monteith, carelefsjy.

" Where I faw a little impropriety," replied
Fiizofborne, with fupprefled fignificance.

" And did you fucceed no better than you
" have done with me ?'* continued the earl, with
iTiCreafing anxiety.

" I don't know. The character I had to deal
** with was more guarded than you are."

" What caufed your reproof?" faid his lord-
fliip, with affc6ted eafe, and apparently occupied
in forting the cards into three divifions.

'* I believe nothing but 'too great nicety of
" my own feelings; for on reviewing the affair
" I cannot fee any thing efTentially wrong j and
*' I begin to think thofe rules which impofe
" fuperior caution on perfons who are obje6ts
" of public admiration unnecefTarily fevere."

" The fentiments of ladies," refumed Mon-
teith, " are generally more delicate in thefe points
" than thofe of men. Suppofe you make G^l-
" dine your cafuift in this bufinefs : She will teli
*' you if you went too far in your admonitions.'*

" ^y no m.eans," faid FiiZ' fborne, fnatching
the cards. " Come, enough of one fubje6to-
" Shall we have another game ?"

*' No ! I am tired ; and as 1 love to have every
*' doubtful bufinefs cleared up, we will go home
'< to fupper, and I will mention your uneafinefs
" to lady Monteith, that you may fleep with a-
" difburdened confcience."

Fitzofborne ftarted. " How cnme^(7a to dif-
" cover, that the haity opinion which I injudi-
" cioufly uttered, really difpleafed her \ Let me
" conjure yoUj, my lordj by all our friendlliip,,

" endea-


"*' endeavour to rellare me to her favour^ and be
*^ convinced ihat I can only have forfeited it
" through inadvertence."

Lord Monteith fmiled with the confcious fu-
periority which attends a fuccefsful feint, and afTur-
ed the alarmed Fitzofborne^ that, if he would
candidly acknowledge the nature of his offence,
he might depend upon his ihterpofition.

" It reaJly," returned Edward, " was nothing
" of confequence. You have often charged me
" with poflelling a ftoical ftenmefs, and I con-
" fefs fome of my notions are auftere. The
" countefs was in very lively fpirits this even-
" inir.'^

"^Vas (her" faid Monteith, biting his Iip?»
" I faid fomething to her, 1 forget what, re-
" fpedting the eafe with which Britifh matrons
publicly permit the advances of notorious li-
bertines. I beg your pardon, Monteith, I knov/
he is your friend ; but I muft own, I repeated
** this with more energy when fir Richard Ver-
" non came into the Itox. You know his noti-
'* ons are avowedly licentiou-s."
.. " It was very friendly of you," exclaimed his
lordiliip, with a voice convulfed with pailion..
*^ Did he talk to lady Monteith In an improper
" ftyle ?"

" By no meaas. Yet there was fomewhat
" freer in his addrefs than I Oiould have approv-
" ed had the lady been my wife ; and I felt for
*' my abfent friend. The blaze of your Geral-
" dine's charms, my lord, is loft upon me.
" Beauty can never more affedt my heart. But
" I too well recolle6l the emotions it has caufed
" not to wifh iir Richard to avoid lady Monteith,
*' at leaft if he refpecls his own tranquillity."

" And could Geraldine refent your friendly
« obfervation ?" interrupted MonLciih.

« She



" She only anfwerec], that I wa's grown fple-
nctJc, for j)ublic phices fan(fliofiec] thefe intru-
" fion?. I however obferved, that fhe did not
" fpeak to me any more during the whole even-

" ing."

" I d€Le(^ caprice. She fhall acknowledge
^* the friendiinefs of your motives."

" Oh ! for heaven's fak-e ! do not interfere in
" that ftile. You will alarm her pride, and fink
** me for ever in her opinion. Befide, you will'
" utterly prevent any future effort on my part
•' gently to reftrain thofe very agreeable fpirits
*' which may be liable to mifconitruiflion. To
*' own the truth, I thought to-night fhe attracted
*' particular attention."

' " Her prudence,'^ exclaimed the earl, who,
though he had imbibed the poifon of infjnuation,
was yet offended by a dire£l attack, " is as ex-
^ emplaryas hercharadler Is fpotlefs."

" True," replied Fitzofborne, " but think of/
*< the malignity of the world."

^* Who dares to impeach her conduct ?" con -
tinned her lord, with increafed violence.

" What does not envy and calumny dare ?"
cried the fentiniental torturer. " But I fee my
friendfhip is troubkfome. However, Monteith,
recoiled^, that you artfully wound the fecrec out
*' of me, and therefore have no right to be dif-
" pleafed at the difclofure."
'• " Your hand^ Edward. Excufe my warmth.
*^ My wife is too dear to me, to allow me to hear
" the leaft cenfure call: upon her behaviour with
*' indifference. I venerate the excellence of
" your heart, and 1 love your frank nefs. 1 am
^' frank myfclf, though I own I did ufe a litrle
" circumlocution to difcover what you certainly
" never intended me to know. 1 was too fub-



*** tie there. Was I not ? But conic, think no
''' more of It. Perhaps lady Mouteith nught be
" a licile wrong ; but I know ycu both meant
" well, and flie will readily forgive you."

" T^en, as a pledge of your renewed edcem,

" let me entreat you never to mention this affair

'^' to her. I may have been too fufceptible, and

•" have mirtalcen her ftlence for refentment ; for

" I am conviticed 1 mifconftrupd her preceding

•" behaviour."

Manteith pledged his honour for fecrecy, and
endeavoured to di(iipate his chagrin by humming
an air. But the idea that Fiizofborne hid (Gen
fomething wrona; in Geraldine, and his recollec-
tion of the Granger's converfation, funk deep into
his mind, and clouded the gny vacuity of his
thoughts with fpecSlres fearfal as " the green-
eyed monger" which haunted the frank and ne-
ble Moor, who, like lord Monteith, " thought
*^ men honell who but feemed to be i'o,^*

C H A ?. ILL

No might nor greatnefs m mortah'ty

Can Cenfiire 'icape ; back-wounding Calumny

The whitell virtue tlrtiits.


V ICE always appears to be more alluring
when its machinations are crowned with fuccefs.
During the dangerous period of youth, while the
palTions are v/arm, the imaginati.on lively? and
the judgment weak, the fpectator feels a bias irf
fv^vour of that adventurer whofe courfe (marked



by ingenuity) leads to a fpeedy attainment of Hi's
defires. But could inexperience iefl-^61:, andim-
petuofity p^iufe, the couch of even the moft proC-
perous villaiji would prefent no alluring fpecf^acle.
Fitzorborne's plans had hitherto anCwered his
wifhes. His fpecious n.anners had acquired the
efteem of the countefs, and the unbounded con-
fidence of her lord« He had obtained a firm foot-
ing in the family ; had fown the baleful germ of
fufpicion, fo fatal to domed ic peace ; and the
difpleafure and gloom which occafionally pervaded
lord Monteirh*s countenance convinced him that
it had taken root. Calumny was prepared to
doubt the ftabiiitv of Geraldine's honour: and
calumny, like a peftilential blaft, can taint the
innocence it affails. To thefe engines of feduc-
tion might be added the fophiftical principles of
falfe philofophy, vvhich, though cautiouflyadmi-
niftered and often rejected, ftill, like the delved
mine, poflefs a power capable of fubverting the
firmeft moral virtue, if not founded on the rock
of religion.

Yet Fitzofborne was wretched. The atrocity
of his defigns haunted his pillow, not with a fenfe
of rcmorfe, but with the apprehenfion of danger,
- The fituation of the lady was exalted ; her cha-
ra6ler was exemplary ; her connexions were re-
fpe6table ; her hufband, as he had lately difco-
vered, was not only tenacious of her reputation,
and vain of her attradlions, but alfo confcious of
her merits, and fincerely attached to her perfon.
Though the earl's apprehenfion was peculiarly
flow, his pailions were as remarkably vehement ;
and his fkill at the various offenfive weapons was
fo great, that his opponent could have very little
chance of elicaping with life, if called to make the
amende honorable. Fitzofbojne's fortunes were



almoft defperate. Worldly pruuence feemed,
^therefore, to point out the neceflity of applying
his ingenuity in devifmg fome plan of improving
■his circumrtances, inilcad of waging his talents
in a purfuit which only promifed danger, or, to
■fpealc according to his ideas, " barren honour.*'

Notwithilanding the appearance of open hoftl-
lity, he held a private correfpondence with the
vifcount's family; and his intelligence from
thence confirmed his own opinion, that the breach
with lady Arabella was not totally irreparable. —
Her vexation at his attention to lady Monteith
was too lively to be concealed, and too fincere to
yield to th« hopes which the noble duke's increa-
fing admiration infpired. In vain did (he recol-
ledl dete6ling him incognito at the theatre, look-
ing at her through his opera glafs. In vain did
foe remember her more fplendid triumph, when
he prefectcd her with a ticket for lady Fillagree's
fancied ball, infcribed " To the faireft." Fitz-
ofborne faw his affiduities without emotion. The
iioble duke's Sentiments were known to be inau-»
fpicious to marriage ; and no lady, who had not
abfo-uteiy determined to be a duchefs, could
even afFedt to find fatisfaxSlion in his converfa-

Fitzofborne poized the chance of lucrative ad-
vantage with precifion ; and as he had no incli-
nation for fleeping in the bed of honour, he he-
ilowed fome forethought on the hazards he ran by
purfuing his illicit defigns agamft the lovely coun-
teis. Since he deemed his fuccefs certain, it was
unnecciTary to examine the efFed of adifappoint-
ment. Great prudence, great Ci^ution, and great
morality, might prevent a rencontre. He miaht
be unwilling to lift his arm againft the life ofliis
friend J he might refped the laws of his country j



or his health might impofe the neceiHty of a tour
for its reiloratioii. The laft llep would be the
moft cofivenient, in cafe lord A-Iontelth applied
for legal damages, fince, however large the fum
given by the verdi6^, ab fence and incapacity
would be a receipt in full. I'he next flep cf the
injured hufband mud be a divorce, and the de-
ferted lady could notohjedl to taking refuge in a
fecond marriage, which was the only chance of
refioring hei again to the world, if not with un-J
tainted, at Icaft with a cc;nva]ercent chara6ler.
Geraldine was an heirefs, and it was to be fup-
pofcd that her fettlements were msdf^ with proper
precaution. Even as a wife (he was infinitely more
defirable than Arabella; and, though the iliiberaii-
ty of hufoands might vviih to fecurc iheir domeftic
pofl'tlTions by an impafTable inclofure, modern fpi-
rit had proved itfelf able to furmount every fence ;
and the hdy might give away herfelf and her
property feveral times over, without calling upon
death to cancel a former bond. The world in-
deed would at firll: be angry ; but the times were
very liberal. People would allow for the force
of irre/^/rlb/e tt^^pt^t]on. They would plead,
that it was impolnble toforbear adoring fuch a
charming creature. The blame would be hap-
pily transferred to my lord, who ought never to
have admitted a friend into his family, or to have
trufted her oat of his fight ; and in a little time
every body would vifit Mr. Fitzofborne and his
lady, and perhaps even find them out to be a very
worthy and exemplary pair.

Confirmed in his defigns not more by his own
infidious inclinations than by the falie notions
which prevail even amongft the more principled
part of that impoitant circle called the great
world, Fitzofborne profecuted his nefarious

plans 5


plans i and he determined, that if fear, or as he
called it prudence, did not check, compunction
{hould not difiuade. Chance, and the credulous
confidence of Lord Montcith, favoured his
wifhes, Cards of invitation to lady Fillagree's
petit foupe had been fent to the Monteith?, and
tbe ccuntefs had not only chofen her character,
but (he had alfo decorated an Italian tiffany withi
fefloons of violets, in which drefs (he intended to
perfonify the Perdita of Shakefpeare. Her anx-
ious entreaties had prevailed upon her lord to ac-
company her in the habit o^ the royal Florizd ;
and this mark of attachment on her part, and
condercen!ion on his, promifed the renewal of
domeftic harmony. The expefled evening ap-
proached, when a note from vhe miniiler rcqueii-
ed lord Monteith's attendance in the houfe of
peers. Bufinefs of great importance was to be
agitated; a violent oppofition was expecled ; and
tne honour of his jordfhip's fupport Vv'ould confer
a lafling obligation. The earl was not in the ha-
bit of courting miniftcrial favour ; he difliked
the talk of at:endance j and the labour of liften-
inp; to a long debate was always fuiiiciently ter-
rific to make him prejudge the quellion. Yet
though no one ever took )ef^ pains to acquire real
authority, he v/as very well pleafed to be thought
a man of conftquence j and* the; minifl:er's requeft
was too preffing to be declined, Geraldine
vwilhcd to give up her engagement ; but my lord
had fixed upon a plan that would fettle every
thing, and to which his own diflike of malked
balls and fancy fuppers gave a determinate ilabi-
litv. it was, that Fitzofborne, inllead of fpend-
ing the evening alone in the library, ihould be
her eicort. My lord's drefs would fit him pretty
exiidiv, and Edward's excufes anfwered the end
Vol. 11. B for


for which they were defigned, which was to fix
rnv lord mofi: pofliivelv in his determinations.

The entertainment was to be given at a villa a
little diftance from town. Geraldine dreffed
early; but her heavy heart fcemed to anticipate
fomc difallrous iflue. Mv lord came into her
drefling-rooin to fee if ilie looked her chara6ler ;
and while he contemplated the fimplicity and ex-
cjuifite adaption of her ornaments, the apprehen-
fions with which he had been lately tortured
returned. " Do not," faid he, " dance with
" Vernon, nor any of that fet, if they fhould afl:
" you. Plead that you are engaged to .Fitzof-
*' borne, or e'fe fay that you are tired."

" Will not that have a " lingular appear-
" ance ?" inquire.' the countefs.

*' You have a frrange apprehcnfivenefs of fin-
" gularitVj Geraldine. Don't you remember
" your father's words, that there is no fhame \n
*■' being the only perfon who a61s as flie ought to
" do?*'

" Suppofe then," fiiid her ladyfhip, " I do not
" dance at all."

" What I when all the woild knows that you
*' are very fond of dancing ? Is that the way to
" avoid iingularity ? " And why this averfion to
" my friend ? Cannot you forgive him fjr offer-
" ino- vcu fome advice which you was too care-
*' his to attend to ?"

" My ^Q-iiT lord, the4« has been fome little
" mifunderffandi ng, certainly. 1 am far from
" having any aver lion to Fitzofborne, and as far
" frcm being ofl-ended at his giving me any ad-
" vice. 1 do ncteven recclie6l thecircumftance."

" O ! vou give it that turn, do you r But
" vou nr.deiffand n)y prefent prohibition, I lup-
'• pofe, aiid VoU vvni remember it."

'< Uadoubtcdlv.


■*' Undoubtedly. And do you recolle(5l, that
'** depending upon your accompanying me, I
■*' have not formed any party. If pofTible come
*' away from the houfe, and join me at Rich-



" You are grown a coward, Geraldine.—

•" However I will come, if I can ; but Fitzof-

*' borne is furely a fufficient guard. Tell Ara-

" bella to do that worthy fellow juflice, or I

" fliall difown her for mv fifter."

The vivacity of lady Montdth had received
fo fevere a check that Ihe could not recover her
fpirits during her ride to lady Fiilagree's. Fitz-
ofboine difcovered her dcjc^ion. *' I know,"
faid he, " fuch folitude is often very trouble-
fome ; yet the fervency of rny frlendfhip will
•. not permit me to fee you difpirited v.^ithout en-
quiring into the caufe of vour depreffion."
" It is fo wholly feminme,'* returned {he,
" that it is abfolutely undeJinable, and muft bs
" fet down in the cacalogrue of my unaccounta-
" bles, urikfs I fhiould give as a reafon, what 1
" am very uii\. illii-'g to admit j I mean, an idea
" ot my lord's, that f-me • ime or another 1 did
" not trea-: your good advice with fu^Bcient de-
*' ference. Pray, P'itzofb: rne, when did you
*' play the moralift ; and when was 1 fuch a re-
" fradlory pupil i'"

" Ah Monieith ! this isone of thy mifconcep-
" tions. I will explain the whole affair, ma-
" dam, though it is too ridiculous to merit repe-
" tition. You recoilecft the night we were to-
" gether at the opera/'
" Perfeaiv."

" And that in return to fome obfervations
" which I made on the behaviour of lady Ara-

B 2 « bella.



belli, you faid, difappointment had made m«
'^ fpler.etic r"

" I do."

" Lord Montelth heard your anfwer as he en-
^'^ tereti the box; and he will perfiil in his opi-
" nion, that my expreiTions wei'e pointed at you,
" as a repro(>f for foiriething in your manner to
*■'- Vernon. I nnifl excufe him bv faying, that
" he was a little fludered, I followed him to
'' Brookes's, where we Toon adjuiied — ^ — "

" To Bfookes's ! Does my lord frequent
^' Brookes's?"

" O you tcnipter ! No ; I have too much ho-
" nour to reveal fecrets. The affair was foori
" explained, I v/as goino; to [3:y ; — for Monteith
" really has a very good heart, which excufes a
'^ }iale accidental puzz,le-patedne(s."

Geralduie coloured.; but her Proteus compa-
nion gave her no tin-.e to refent. Xopking out of
the chariot window, -Jie relapfed into fentiment.
♦■* See, dear lady Monteith," faid he. " how the
" giddy throng haiK^n to this feilival of ollenta-
" tious vanity- A rdlc:6ling mind, on contem-
" plating tiiis crowd cf carriages, mufl feel other
" ienfations than thofe of plealure. Not to men-
" tion the fuiter ings of thofe noble animals who
" draw the vehicles of tyrant man, the fituaiiori
" of maittr and fervant, as e.xhibited upon the
" prelent occafioji, is tnougii to cure the moft
" obdurate heart c;f its partiality for thofe difiinc-
" tions of rank which corrupt fociety now exhi-
*' bits. How repugnant to the feelmgs of uni-
'* verfal love i<^ that p.le ernaciafed footn;an, v/nc,
*' expcfed to the inclemency of thejeafons., ful-
" pends the fiambenu over the carriage of his vc-
*' luptuous mailer ! How remote mufl: that man
" ftiil be fiom the ukiiuate perfviflion of his na-

" ture^


"^^ tu"e, who cnn enjoy the pleafures of a crowded
'^ alFen-iblv, while 'h\s coachman quakes in the
" warping wind, or fhrinks beneath tne pelting '
" ftorm ! Itis thecrueity of a Mo^r^ndus: The
" livino- body is united to putridity."

" 'Fhere is fome juftice in your obfervations,"
faid the countefs ; '*' and it behoves us as /W/-
*> viduals to leiTen the evils of that inequaliiy
-*' Tvb'ch public good requires." 'I'he carriages
i]ow ilopped •, and as Firzoroonieled her to the
gay ailemhlage of beauty, fancy and elegance,
her refiediidns on his ciuracler concluded witrv
an obfervation, that ^^ his very failings leaned lo
«* the fide of viitue.'* . ^^

The ball went on very much like other b^Hi?.
Sir Richard Vernon and feveral gentlemen of his
caft of charadler were prefenr,. and Geraldir.e
complied punaunliy widi her lord-sjnjunaioiiy
either to fit down, or to dance with Fitzoibornc.
She had for-rot to account for his appearing in a
cirefs fo correfpondent to her own ; and when
(blue ladies, by pointing it cut,, alarmed her fenfc
of propriety, her cxplanaiion was embarrafied,
anJ coniequently fufpicious. As vx the oper?.,
Fitzolborne's attentions were confined to her;
and his elegant adurei's and polite vivacity added
the fneer of envy to the whifper of deiraclion.
?>ady Arabella had indeed the honour to move
down one dance with the dulie ; but his grace was
fo fatigued by the exertion, that he w^is obliged
to renouiice dancing, and to have recouife to
CafTino for the reit of the evening. Herfucceed-
ing partners ranked no higher than conimoners,
without pofielTing any of the innate difcin6iions
xvhich gave celebrity to the partner of Fitzof-
borne. He had only bowed to her in the nr.oll
diflaiit manner poiTible. Her fmile of invitation



was unanfwered ; and fhe began to think a faint-
ing fit was the only chance of roufing the mon-
iker's attention. She performed it in the greateft
perfedlion ; hxv- on opening her eyes (he felt a
little mortification to find, th^at neither he nor the
countefs appeared in the circle which had ga-
tliered round her. Another glance convinced
her, that they were not in the room.

*' The heat of this apartment," faid the lovely
fuffcrer, " is infupportable. Do, my dearefl
" Harriet, lend me your arm, and let me breath
^ a Jittle pure air in the veftibule." The vif-
cruntefs complied, and the miftreis of the cere-
mony with feveral other ladies accompanied the
faif invalid.

Li^ily, Arabella caft a fcrutinizing glance upon
the fuite of chambers through which &e was led ;
but fhe defcended into the veftibule without mak-
ing any difcovery. It had been converted into an
orangery for theoccafion, and decorated with a va-
riety of h.m.p3 taftefully fufpended. The many-
coloured light trembling on the fragrant exotics^
the frtflmcfs of the air, the ftiJlnefs of the fcene,
iind the extenfive view which it admitted of the
" liars in all their fplendor'^ and " the moon
" walki.Mg in brightnefs,'* altorded a ftriking
contrail to the glittering but artificial fcene which
they had jtjfl: left. Lady Arabella and her friends
were not the only admirers of its enchanting ef-
ftGt, for at the upper end llood the countefs and

" Pray let us go back," fhrieked lady Arabel-
la, who however did not much doubt their iden-
tity. " I am quite frightened. Somebody is
" here.-' The lady of Ihe houfe declared, that
it could bs nobody whom fhs could object to,



while the charitable vlfcountefs whifpcrcd, " tha:
" it would be rude to interrupt a private party.*'

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Online LibraryMrs. (Jane) WestA tale of the times (Volume 2) → online text (page 2 of 18)