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Spiffard ; her figure so deplorably degraded ; the words he had uttered as he left her ; all recurred. He became fearful of he knew not what. His suspense became intolerable, and he started up to proceed to his wife's chamber ; but he had only reached the door, and placed his hand on the lock, before he stopped. He returned.
“ Perhaps your cousin is asleep ?" “I have not heard her stirring.”
• You can steal softly into the room ; my heavy tread might awake her.”
Thus his fears would thrust another before him. It would be well if she should be awake, for another to tell her that he had returned-had inquired for her-intended to see hernotwithstanding the word, " never.”
With cheerful alacrity Emma proceeded on her errand, and with noiseless foot-fall. Spiffard sunk down on a chair, scarce breathing, and endeavoured to catch the sound of her steps. He heard her descending, and she entered the room.
“ The door is locked, and I don't hear any movement, within."
“Go up again, my dear; it is late; knock at the door.”
She went. He opened (and stood listening by) the parlour door. He heard her knock at the chamber door. Breathlessly he strove to catch a reply. He heard none. The knocking was repeated; this time louder: and he heard Emma call, " Cousin! cousin! cousin Spiffard !" But there was no answer. Again the knocking was repeated, and the call upon his wife; but no answer. He trembled, and again sank on a chair. He heard the descending footsteps of Emma, who entered, and having no cause to dread any sinister event, calmly said, “ My cousin sleeps uncommonly sound, as well as late, this morning."
These words sounded like a knell on the ear of the husband. He unconsciously echoed, “sleep-sound," and then hastily inquired, " does your cousin usually lock her chamber door, after I have gone out.” “ No, never.
I never knew her to do it before. I have been accustomed to enter and call her to breakfast,-you know I am a restless one."
Spiffard conquered his prostration of muscular power and sprung suddenly from his chair. Almost before Emma ceased speaking he was rushing up stairs, and ouly paused when he had reached the chamber-door. It was a dreadful
listened, though, without hope. All was silent, and to his apprehension it was the silence of death. He knocked, and called, but received no answer.
“Mrs. Spiffard !-Mary !-My dear!-My dear Mary! If you hear, answer! Forgive the words I made use of when
I left you."
His impatience had arrived at that height, that it was distraction. He knocked louder. He attempted to force the the lock.
Emma stood trembling in the room below.
At this crisis Mrs. Epsom entered the street-door, having returned with her servant woman from market. Spiffard did not heed, did not hear, the entrance of his wife's mother, and the 'lock resisting his efforts, he called still louder for admittance.
Mrs. Epsom, hearing this clamour, demanded from the foot of the stairs to know what was the matter; and Emma, encouraged by her arrival, rushed out of the parlour. Her appearance was so dissimilar to that which characterized her, that Mrs. Epsom’s alarm was increased, and she began to ascend the stairs ; but suddenly stopt, and descended, on hearing the crash made by bursting open the chamber door. Knowing the violent temper and habitually ungoverned passions of her daughter, her vulgar imagination (and perhaps her vulgar experience) suggested as the cause of the noise she heard, some difference between husband and wife; and her dread of her daughter's resentment, caused her to retrace her steps, and to carry Emma back, with her, into the parlour, where, after shutting the door, she began to question her.
The apprehensions of Spiffard, which had a few minutes before deprived him of strength, now gave him a tenfold portion; and by the exertion of his powerful muscles, urged by fears that drove him to madness, he burst off the lock, and, rushing to the bed, beheld the lifeless corpse of his wife.
The disheveled hair and disordered dress of their last interview had disappeared. It was evident that deliberate preparation had been made for the death-scene; and the corpse, but that it was habited in the dress of the day and not in nightclothes, and disposed on the surface of the bed, instead of being covered, as the season required, for warmth, might have been mistaken for a sleeper, at the first glance, by a stranger. But the husband saw it was death, and doubted not. His agony was extreme, but, after the first moment, his thought was to prevent knowledge of the cause. He listened. No one was approaching. He saw a paper near the bed and a phial. He eagerly seized upon these witnesses of suicide and secreted them upon his person. This barely accomplished, he heard the footsteps and voices of the females on the stairs. Before he could decide whether to prevent their approach, Mrs. Epsom and Emma entered the chamber.
The scene that followed is not for my purpose to describe, if I could.
When Spiffard had an opportunity he read the contents of the paper he had secreted.
“ Let whoever finds this convey it, unread, if they value the injunctions of the dead, to Mr. Spiffard or Miss Portland.
6 I have been most unfortunate—more erring. I was never taught my duty by my parents-parents ? I had none. never governed by them, and I only governed myself but to accomplish some object I desired. From childhood I was indulged, and saw around me scenes of passion and appetite indulged-scenes of licentiousness applauded.
“ Emma, the world I have lived in has been veiled from your eyes: I will not withdraw the veil. You can pity, and even love, the
misled Maria. “ I have determined no longer to live enduring torments inflicted by conscience, and misled by habits which I have hitherto endeavoured in vain to counteract. I have endeayoured to drown the recollection of guilt in madness. I have justly incurred the contempt of my husband by the attempt. “ Mr. Spiffard, you have been misjudging in your treatment
I forgive you. I have deceived you. “I did hope that time might have quieted remorse. I did hope that, by the aid of a husband, whose virtues I saw and could appreciate, I might, in time, attain to a station in society more congenial to my mind-my proud mind. I did hope to have been a source of domestic contentedness, at least, to my husband, although I had no warmer feelings towards him than esteem. But I could not confide to him the errors (perhaps I ought to give them a harsher title) of my former life ; and I have lived in constant dread of his discovering them. I have at length been convinced that he does not confide in me. I have no cessation from torment, but when, by breaking my
promises to him, I render myself unfit for the society of my husband ; and then, for a moment's forgetfulness, I incur redoubled torture for hours. Emma, from you I have, in some measure, concealed my hours of degradation. Mr. Spiffard, if this meets your eye first, hide it from the pure eye of Emma. I will not live the thing I am. I have no hope. I have been sinking lower-lower—from shame to deceit. I did intend to reveal_but no. I forgive my mother! I ask for giveness !"
I discovery; and another.
“Look aloft, sir, look aloft! The old seamen say the devil wouldn't make a sailor unless he look'd aloft.”-Fenimore Cooper.
“How chequerid is the web and woof of life!
Now bright with gorgeous colour'd threads,
We shall have judgment here."
Raze out the written tablets of the brain."
More needs she the divine than the physician.”
" Avoid !-No more.
We are such stuffás dreains are made of."
“Come, temperate nymphs! and help to celebrate
A contract of true love." - Shakspeare. so I have no other notion of economy than that it is the parent of liberty and ease.-Swift.
“ A man who admits himself to be deceived must be conscious that there le something upon, or respecting which, he cannot be deceived.-Coleridge.
We need not dwell upon the scenes which immediately followed at the house of Mrs. Epsom, after the death of her unfortunate daughter. It was soon to be abandoned by the personages we have considered as our hero and heroine. The cause of the unhappy woman's death was unknown to all save her husband. He renounced the stage as a profession, and never more returned to it. The links that connected him with society now, were Emma Portland, the Johnsons, Eliza Ather