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the pleasing idea of their union. Sometimes, however, when a thought of her disgrace and its probable consequences rushed over her mind, remorse would drive her to despair.
Her relation, too devoted to the gaieties of society, was but an indifferent companion; and she would often retire to weep in secret, while her cousin was attracting the notice of crowded assemblies. As the novelty of the scene wore off, the dejection of Rosalie increased ; and Madam S. perceiving that she was of little service, either as friend or associate, soon betrayed symptoms of dissatisfaction, that ultimately subsided into indifference. Again therefore, she had recourse to her books and harp; and while warbling the plaintive airs of childhood, her mind resumed its native elasticity.
Man may feel the sentiment of love in the full vigour of its inspiration, but it is woman only that can receive it in all its delicate characteristics, and die the victim of her affection, while modesty enjoins concealment. Such was the case with Rosalie ; in every thought, every action, every pulse in her frame, she felt the power of that passion which was entwined with life; but still preserved an appearance of apathy, that amounted almost to contentment. But her studious endeavours to conceal the anguish that now embittered her existence, proved of little avail ; for her strength gradually diminished, and the hectic flush of decline overspread her countenance. Weeks and months thus rolled on, and still found her the victim of an incurable melancholy. It was evident to all that she was dying ; but so progressive was her decay, and so linked with sweetness was the malady which consigned her to the tomb, that she appeared to sink into the embraces of death, like an infant hushed to repose on the bosom of its parent.
As she was playing one evening on her harp, Madam S. abruptly entered the apartment. 56 I am come,” she said, “ to hurry you off to the assembly rooms ; my husband is elsewhere engaged, and you know that I cannot go alone.” Rosalie soon found that all expostulation was vain, when it had been previously determined that she should go ; and, though painful to her feelings, accompanied her lovely cousin to the ball. Her beauty immediately procured her partners, and the admirers of her graceful movements formed a complete circle round her. While paying slight attention to the compliments that were lavished on her person, the name of Mortimer was indistinctly pronounced. With the utmost anxiety she listened to the mention of that unfortunate name, and the following conversation ensued between two officers at her elbow. “ 'Tis a foolish business, Ned; and faith I don't know how Mortimer will rid himself of the incumbrance. I did not, however, hear the amour from himself; for his confidential lacquey discovered and acquainted me with the circumstance. He is now with the army on the Continent, completely mopped to death with the remembrance of the girl he seduced. “ Did you ever see her ?" No," replied the other, “ But I have heard,” fixing his penetrating eyes on Rosalie, " that she was not unlike this lady. 66 If so," was the reply, “ I should be inclined to plead guilty myself; but how will his intended relish such a libertine husband ?” 56 Husband! What, is he married then ?"
“ Married !” exclaimed Rosalie, in a tone of voice that alarmed the company_gracious heaven ! is he married ?” and with a countenance of unutterable anguish, sunk senseless on the floor. Her cousin hastened to her assistance ; every restorative was administered without success ; and the insensible girl was conveyed home. On recovering from her delirium, she found herself surrounded by Madame S. and her domestics; and when made acquainted with the circumstances of her indisposition, she besought them to seek no explanation, as the secret must be guarded with existence. The agitation of her mind, with the knowledge of her approaching confinement, produced a renewal of delirium, which lasted for a considerable period ; and when the fever had somewhat abated, the unhappy girl was delivered of a son. No father's blessing, no mother's caresses, welcomed in the birth of the little one; it was conceived in disgrace, heralded by ignominy, and viewed with detestation and contempt.
The intelligence was speedily disseminated through the family, and Monsieur S. more tenacious of his own character than apprehensive for his invalid, attacked her, as she lay helpless, and weeping, in her bed, with bitterest imprecations. Her disgrace hurt his peace not so much for the effect it produced on the sufferer, as from the ignoining with which it sullied her relations. Attentive, therefore, to his own considerations, he strictly enjoined his family to conceal the transaction, and was with difficulty prevented from turning Rosalie, weak and unprotected, into the street. The only domestic, meantime, that was allowed to assist the poor victim in her illness, was an elderly woman, in whose countenance the traces of habitual cunning were discernible, and who daily assailed her with the most cruel reproaches.
She was roused one morning from sleep by the unexpected entrance of Monsieur S. and his wife. 66 Woman !” he exclaimed, with a look of infuriated passion, “ you have destroyed the offspring of your disgrace; the child has been missing since yesterday, and you are suspected by the whole household.” “ I am innocent, indeed I am innocent,” replied Rosalie. “O Edward, dearest Edward ! by the happy days we have spent together, by the close link of affinity which binds us to each other, I entreat you to restore my child; though it is the herald of my ignominy, I can never survive its death.” 16 I disbelieve your assertions,” answered her brutal relative ; " and the circumstance of your innocence or guilt remains yet to be proved :-follow me Em. ma,” he continued to his wife, who remained lingering at the door ;
you shall have no connection with guilt while I can prevent it.” With these words he seized Madame S. by the arm, and pushing her rudely to the door, closed the apartment. A renewed indisposition was the consequence of this unexpected accusation; and though one source of uneasiness was removed in the absence of the old woman who had hitherto attended her, she was frequently heard by the other domestics, in the intervals of delirium, to acknowledge herself the destroyer of her child. Such attestations of guilt perpetually recurring to the weak imagination of the servants, appeared a confession of the fact; and they no longer hesitated in branding her as the murderer. Rosalie, however, endured their reproaches with resignation ; she felt that she had not long to live, and wished to die in charity with all.
When enabled to leave her room, the story had obtained considerable circulation ; and reaching the ears of justice, it was deemed expedient that the circumstances attending the loss of the child should be legally investigated; and so powerful was each statement of the domestics, that the mother was incarcerated for the wilful murder of her son. In this state of utter desolation, without one friend to succour, or one heart to lament her end, the unhappy girl beguiled the hours of misery by an affecting appeal to her seducer.
66 I mean not, Mortimer, to upbraid you with my ruin : this letter, the last you will ever receive, is merely intended to convey my forgiveness; and to request that, from respect to my memory, you will make every exertion to recover our lost child. Should he ever be found, be kind to him when I am gone, for he has now no protector but your self; and should his pretty smiles recall the image of Rosalie in her happier days of innocence, teach him sometimes to lisp ber name, and dwell on her memory with fondness.
6 Show him the haunts I loved ; and, when warmed with filial piety, he climbs a parent's knee, pray that he may be happier than his mother. My father too,-be a son to his old age ; and amid the woods of Carrick-Southey talk sometimes to him of his child. But tell him not to weep-tell him that we are separated to be again united, in a land where the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest.' For myself, I am dying, Mortimer ; but you ! oh, may you be happy, when the heart that loved you is cold, and when all that remains of Rosalie is the memory of her sufferings ! But I can say no more : The prison clock has just tolled the hour of midnight; and as to-morrow is appointed for my trial, I must offer up my last orisons to my Maker, in whose presence I am so shortly to appear. Farewell !
66 ROSALIE.” “ From my dungeon, Reading.” The next morning the heavy clank of chains, and the unusual bustle of the prison, announced the removal of the culprits for trial. The sound struck like a death-knell on the agonized frame of the captive, and hardly could she collect her senses by devout aspirations to her God. In an instant or two the door of the cell grated slowly on its hinges, and the jailor entered, leading in a man completely muffled in appearance. On the departure of the turnkey, the stranger threw off his disguise, and discovered himself to be her father. The interview was solemn and affecting : no reproaches escaped the parent, no sighs responded from the overcharged heart of the daughter ; but they remained clasped in each other's arms until the officer on duty re-entered the dungeon. “ I am come to lead you to your trial,” he exclaimed ; “ the other prisoners have been condemned, and it is now your turn to be examined.” With difficulty he was enabled to tear the child from the embraces of the parent. “Come, come," he continued, dashing a starting tear from his eye, “ it is useless to cry, my poor girl; if you are innocent, the fact will soon appear; and it will then be time enough to tell your story.” A long fit of insensibility succeeded this removal; and when
somewhat restored, Rosalie discovered herself leaning on her father in a public court of justice. When the indictment was read, a shudder of horror pervaded the assembly ; but when they saw the meek sufferer bowing like a lily to the violence of the tempest, a thorough conviction of her innocence escaped them. The trial meantime proceeded ; and the sudden loss of the child, the repeated acknowledgement of the prisoner, and the unequivocal testimony of the domestics, were more or less commented on, according to the facts necessary to be proved. When the examination of witnesses on either side was concluded, Rosalie was asked by the judge what she had to urge in her defence. The audience earnestly awaited her reply ; and hoped some plea would be adduced, that might tend to mitigate the severity of punishment. She looked up but for an instant, and in a low tone, with her hand pressed convulsively on her heart, repeated her innocence of the crime. Such tacit disavowal was by no means considered as conclusive, and the judge arrayed himself in the awful insignia of justice, to award the punishment of death. An intense horror pervaded the court at this instant; all hearts, all eyes, were kindly fixed on the wretched culprit ; and the convulsive sobbings of the few who were unable to repress their sympathy, alone interrupted the general silence.
At this instant a loud noise was heard at the further end of the hall ; the crowd divided on each side, and a woman appeared bearing in her arms an infant apparently a month old. 66 Can you forgive me, Madam ?” she exclaimed, turning to Rosalie, who recognized the attendant who had so often insulted her distress ; “ I have been guilty ; but if
any expiation can atone, I here willingly offer it." Then turning to the judge she continued, “ Mademoiselle Voisin, my lord, is innocent : this is the child supposed to have been murdered, but which, at the express desire of Monsieur S. I ventured to conceal. But since that hour I have never known happiness ; nor shall I at ease till due punishment is awarded for my transgression.” She ceased the court rung with acclamations—the cry of " She is innocent, she is innocent !” resounded through the hall; and scarcely could the officers of justice restrain the ebullitions of the populace. “Rosalie,” exclaimed De Voisin, when his transports had in some degree abated, “look up, my child, you are ivnocent: bless, then, your father with one smile, and we shall yet be hap
Rosalie did look up, and, with an expression of ineffable tenderness, pressed her clay-cold lips to the hand of her parent, and then making a last, a dying effort, to embrace the infant who stretched out his little arms towards her, bowed her fair head, and sunk brokenhearted on the bosom of her parent. The old man said nothing ; his soul was full to bursting; he raised his tearless eyes to heaven, and was borne senseless from the hall. Unable to endure the presence of England after the catastrophe of his daughter, he abruptly quitted the kingdom, and, accompanied by her infant, retired once more to his favourite cottage at Carrick-Southey.
Mortimer in the mean time, distracted with remorse, but unconscious of the death of his victim, took the earliest opportunity of removing from the scene of war to the inore peaceful habitation of his beloved. It was on a fine evening in July that he reached the cottage, where he had passed so many days of happiness. It was empty, the neat gar
den, which had so often attracted his admiration, was overrun with weeds, and every thing bore the stamp of decay. Amazed at the de solation that reigned around him, he moved instinctively towards the arbour, the scene at once of happiness and guilt.
An old man was seated at the entrance, gazing intently on the beautiful portrait of Rosalie that graced the interior of the room. that she once loved was placed by the window, and the breeze, as it sighed among the chords, gave a melancholy expression to the mo
The remembrance of the past pressed upon the overcharged feelings of the Englishman, and he gave vent to his affliction in tears. He looked around him :-here stood the little wooden bridge which he had so often crossed with Rosalie; there was the primrose bank on which they had seated themselves in the long summer twilight; and in the distance rose the dark blue hills from which she loved to gaze on the surrounding landscape.
As he surveyed these mute memorials of vanished happiness, a sigh, the herald of a broken heart, escaped him. De Voisin turned round at the noise, and to his amazement beheld the author of his misery standing beside him. 66 Away, wretched man !” he exclaimed ; “ this is no sanctuary for guilt ; yet stay; for my daughter's sake I forgive you ; and may your last end be peaceful as hers ! Poor girl, did she deserve her death from you ?_Could no hand be found, but the one that had been fed at her board, and cherished in her smile, to consign her to the tomb ? But she is now dead ; and her last moments were spent in prayers for you ? See to what wretchedness you have reduced me: the child who should have smoothed my passage to the grave is gone before, and like a buoy tossed upon the wave, I am alone and helpless in my age. I have little to add : this letter was given to me by my Rosalie, that I might present it to you when an opportunity occurred.” Mortimer hastily seized the letter, and, wild with the violence of contending emotions, rushed from the offended parent of his victim. He had not been long absent, when the report of a pistol was heard. Guided by the sound, De Voisin hastened to the spot, and discovered Mortimer stretched dead upon the ground, with the fatal writing in his hand.
I was but a boy when these circumstances occurred, but the remembrance is indelibly imprinted on my memory. The story was told to me by an old Welch herdsman, who was well acquainted with the parties. But years have rolled on, and the memory of Rosalie is fading from the minds of the villagers. You may sometimes meet with an old cottager, who knew her when she was young, and who still speaks of her with fondness. But the instances are rare, and in a short time she will be entirely forgotten.
When last I was in the neighbourhood of Carrick-Southey, I paid a visit to the cottage of Rosalie. It was overgrown with nightshade, and afforded a melancholy epitome of despair. I paused-an utter stillness reigned around, save where the raven screamed his death-song. I entered the room where she had once lived. I saw the harp which was once hers, and it was mouldering in silent decay. The spider had woven his web among the cords, and the whole scene spoke of gloomy desertion. The sun was sinking, as I turned my steps to the spot where