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" Pshaw! cease this absurd, low-bred mode of reasoning. You have lived so long among the vulgar herd, that their notions have taken root in your mind. But these must now be eradicated, and you will learn in time
despise them.” “God forbid that I should ever learn to despise the holiest instincts of my nature," returned the girl, warmly. “It is in vain, sir, quite in vain to urge me further. You don't seem to be able to appreciate or even to understand the feelings which possess me: let us, therefore, dismiss the idea at once, since it can only pain by its discussion."
"What you ask is impossible," said the baronet, angrily. "You can show no good reason for your refusal-nothing but a foolish, childish sentiment, which must give place to stern, practical duty.”.
" The reason I have given is enough for any maiden, especially to a stranger,” she said, with heightened colour.
" But as you are ungenerous enough to press me further, I have to inform
that my heart is already given to another.”
Ho, ho! this is the secret, is it ?” cried Sir Edward, with a luud laugh. “And so you would rather become the wife of a vulgar artisan, than the lady of a baronet ? Very fine, upon my soul ; really the romance which fills young lady's heads now-a-days is incredible. Well, well, you indignant girl, I will be serious, if I can. Don't you know that your transference to the sphere in which you were born, exonerates you from connection of all kind with that which you have just left ? It would be doing an injustice to your parents to hesitate for one moment on this account.”
Diamond drew herself proudly up: “If my parents chose to place me in the sphere I have occupied, and keep me there so long, they have no right to complain, because my nature is assimiliated to it. By their unnatural conduct, they have lost all claim to my obedience.”
" But not the power to enforce it,” said the baronet, significantly.
"Even that," rejoined Diamond. “ But let me tell you, sir, that I suspect unfair dealing on your part. I cannot think that my parents would require me to consent to such a proposal, ere I was permitted to approach them. I suspect, in fact, that for some selfish purpose
of your own, you have taken the singular course of bringing me here, and trying, in this mysterious way, to get my promise to be your wife. Were I even free to give my hand, and inclined to do it, it would never be thus, far less when I am bound by the strongest ties of heaven and earth to another.
It is useless, therefore, to urge me further."
Then, are you prepared to return to your humble lot, and never know your parents ? " asked Sir Edward, hoping, by the quiet intimation of such a consequence, to make an impression.
"Willingly," answered the heroic girl. “If I can only know my
t right the
parents by dishonouring myself, I will gladly cling to obscurity and tvil."
The foiled baronet saw this bait niss with surprise, and bad only another which he thought to throw out, which, if it too failed, would cause him, by the impetuosity of his uncurbed nature, and the necessity of the case, to endeavour to move her by fear. Yet he hesitated ere he cast forth this persuading temptation; for it would, to a certain degree, reveal his own base character, and this he had no wish to do at the present juncture of affairs. But after walking back and forward for a few minutes, revolving every thing in his mind, he concluded that it must be done.
“ Listen to me, Diamond,” he said, stopping in front of her. “ Your singular and unanticipated refusal induces me to confess, that I am an interested party in the affair. I will not conceal from you, that it is of the utmost importance to me that you
should be my wife. Why it is so, I do not now choose to explain; but any girl in her senses, and in such a position as you are, would have closed with the offer at once. I know who your parents are, but they do not know of your existence. Having lost you accidentally when you were a mere infant, they have mourned deeply for you ever since, and are in cruel suspense as to your fate. That suspense
aud long grief, I can terminate and turn into joy, by taking you to them, and proving that you are their long-lost daughter. And I will do this, but only on one condition—that condition I need not name, you already know it.
You will now, I think, consent to become my wife.”
And he folded his arms, and with a grim, assured smile, watched the changing hues of the poor girl's face, for his words had kindled strong emotions. She did not doubt him this time. She knew that he spoke truth, and the pale image of her sorrowing mother came full upon her sight. But not an instant did she waver in her purpose. She had only scorn for the base cruelty of the bribe that had been offered her—the attempt to make filial affection a marketable thing. Raising her head proudly, and bending on the subtle baronet her flashing eyes, she exclaimed, while her whole frame dilated with scorn,
“ And you are mean enough to tempt me thus to sin ? that, rather than remain in ignorance as to my parents, and subject them to the continuance of their grief, I will consent to become your wife. You know human nature well, sir—its weakness and frailty—and have wisely kept this your strongest inducement to thie last. But, thank God, that though human nature is weak in itself, by His grace it is made stronger than the greatest temptation of the wicked. Know, sir, that I spurn your enticement with contempt. If my parents are to see their child, and my own heart made glad by being received into their embrace, only on this
condition, neither they nor I would buy the blessing åt such a price."
“Think, Diamond, think,” suggested the ruthless tempter. " Think of your mother bowed down with grief, ready to sink into
grave in very vexation of heart, because she knows not what has become of her child.”
The girl was overcome, and sobs rose struggling in her bosom.
5. You who, by a word, can save her from all this, will not be so heartless and cruel as deny the boon
“Her fate is in your hands, not mine," replied the baronet, coldly. “It lies with you to say whether she shall longer endure her present misery." “O, do not say so.
You know I cannot remove it but by sin; and this I will not do, even for my parents' sake. But 0, be merciful," she implored, with clasped hands and streaming eyes. generous and kind, and so heap upon your head the blessings of the sorrowful.”
“Ha, ha! this to me," cried the fiend, with a mocking laugh. "Did
you know me better, you would never think of praying to me thus. Hear me swear, then, that I never knew what mercy was, and never will.”
“Then Heaven's will be done!" ejaculated Diamond, turning upwards a meek eye of resignation.
Ay, I knew you would consent at length,” exclaimed Sir Edward, in triumph. “You are mistaken, sir," answered the maiden, firmly.
· My determination is as strong as ever.”
"What! you still refuse?” roared the now enraged baronet.
"I may answer in your own words. If you knew me better, you would never think of urging or bribing me thus. Hear me swear, then, that I will never become your wife.”
" 'Tis well, madam,” hissed Sir Edward, with bitter, concentrated fury. “You have taught me to see that the hour of persuasion is past. Now, as we seem to have got to the candid, confidential mood, and wish to show each other our true characters, I
tell you that it is my fixed determination, that you shall be my wife; and I am not one to scruple as to the means of making you so. Though I did not expect to have recourse to strong measures, yet I took care to provide for their adoption if necessary. entirely in my power. Your departure from Edinburgh is, as you know, entirely unknown. You cannot possibly be traced; therefore you can expect no help to reach you."
Diamond shuddered, but her firmness did not desert her. forget, sir,” she said, composedly, “there is One who knows where
race, F PCOS
“Ha!” exclaimed Sir Edward, in alarm. "Who, who?"
“ The God who made and will judge us both," answered Diamond, solemnly, pointing upward with her right hand.
“ Pooh, pooh!" I will risk that contingency," rejoined the blasphemous man, with another loud, horrible laugh; and in a state of ungovernable rage he rushed from the room, and locked the door behind him.
Diamond heard his hasty footstep die away in the distance, and then realized the fact that she was alone. Now did the firmness which, by a terrible effort, she had maintained during the interview, give way, and all the horrors of her situation came upon her view. Though she had borne so nobly up in the presence of the baronet, she did not overlook the dangers which surrounded her; and now, in silence and solitude, her woman's weakness assailed her. Here was a blow to all the hopes of the morning. Instead of meeting her parents, she had found herself in the hands of a tyrant, who had threatened her with the cruelest, darkest fate. Round about her another dark cloud had gathered. That which for
had gloomed over her existence, bad indeed vanished; but scarcely had a glimpse of sunshine visited her, ere another scarcely less terrible had descended, and renewed the dense, deep shadow. With trembling, subs, and tears, the poor girl Aung herself into the corner of the sofa, and prayed for help from on high.
While the above conversation was going on, Dogwood and his wife were sitting in their own room, conjecturing what would be the state of matters when Diamond should become Lady Rockhart. Her refusal of the honour neither of them for a moment anticipated, their only consideration being, how the event of the baronet's marriage would affect them. Mrs Dogwood was the most dubious concerning it. She knew that her conduct towards Diamond when an infant must be exposed, and possibly both the girl and her parents might resent it. True, she had got a pledge from Sir Edward that po punishment would overtake her; but Diamond, as ber mistress, would have power to make her feel her revenge, if she cherished it. Yet, on second thoughts, this fear grew fainter; for Diamond appeared a gentle, unoffending being, and one who could be easily managed. On the whole, then, she believed that Sir Edward's marriage would in nowise injure her, and she would have the consolation of knowing that the crime of deserting the child was off her conscience; for, to do her justice, it had always rested there with a very unpleasant sensation.
Dogwood himself had no fears about the matter. His familiarity with, and power over, Sir Edward, made him independent of all minor influences; and though these might naturally work against him, he need not dread their operation. But in his eyes, too, the girl appeared as no object of fear--merely a young, pliable thing,
who could be bent any way as those who surrounded ber chose to direct.
They both started in amazement when the baronet entered the room in a tumult of passion, the index of wbich showed so vividly on his countenance.
“Here's a pretty business," he exclaimed, while the foam flew from his lips. “ The girl chooses to be obstinate, and refuses point blank to agree to the proposal."
“Refuses !” cried hoth his listeners, in a breath, while astonisha ment was depicted on their countenances.
“Ay, refuses,” repeated Sir Edward. « Nay, she has treated me with scorn. But, by Heaven, I will be revenged. I told her very broadly what I will do, and do it I shall. She defies me now, but ere long she will learn to treat me very differently.”
"Serve her right, the young upstart," muttered Dogwood. "Such an offer she will look in vain for elsewhere."
“But may she not be persuaded to change her mind?” suggested Mrs Dogwood. “A woman, you know, Sir Edward, is impulsive. Reflection and persuasion may do wonders with her.”
“I doubt it much in her case," said her master; “but the trial can be made, and there is no one so fit to make it as yourself. It is necessary
for all our sakes that we gain our object in one way or another, for abduction is considered a very serious crime. Let her be left to her own reflections for a few hours, and then you can visit her, using the arguments which you think most fitting. I give yon a week to persuade her. If at the end of that time she continues obstinate, then force shall be used.”
And a look of fearful determination passed over the baronet's countenance.
"Good," said Dogwood, with an approving nod.
His wife remained silent. Her woman's heart and sympathy could not respond to the savage resolution.
“Here is the key of her room,” said Sir Edward. keep the servants from that part of the house, for her presence must be kept a profound secret.
Sir Edward and Dogwood left the room, and Mary was left to her own reflections.
Mrs Dogwood was a woman—not a very tender one, perbaps, but still a woman, and not altogether devoid of womanly feelings. She had assisted so willingly in Diamond's abduction, because she considered it was doing the girl a service, and one for which she would by-and-by thank her. Vain and ambitious as she had been in early life, she did- not contemplate the possibility of the girl refusing to become a baronet's lady. Judging of her by herself, she imagined that with a transport of delight she would grasp at the proposal, and be ready to reward, with her favour and otherwise,
“ Be sure to
10. · thing