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those who had assisted in her elevation. Amazed, therefore, she was by the intelligence the baronet had brought, and could not for some time think of any thing but the unaccountableness of the refusal.
But she began to think of the consequences of the affair in the light of the new aspect it had assumed, and was by no means prepared to view it so agreeably as before. Sir Edward had intimated his intention of using force, and her husband had cordially approved of this procedure, but her own nature violently recoiled against it. To deal thus arbitrarily with a weak, innocent, helpless girl, was a violation of all right and justice, besides a crime of the greatest magnitude; and her femenine nature, instinctively sympathizing with her sex, caused her silently to protest against it.
But may we not consider that, besides and beyond this, a deeper feeling operated ? . As a woman, she would naturally sympathize with Diamond's helplessness; but as a nurse, she still more instinctively recoiled from the wrong contemplated. This girl had sucked her breasts; and no one fully knows the feeling which is engendered in the bosom of a nurse towards the infant to whom she has imparted nourishment. Though not her own child, she yet regards it ever after with a peculiar affection; and though, from a blunted nature, this affection may slumber so far as to appear altogether dead, yet the circumstances of a moment may rouse it into new life. Mrs Dogwood, with seeming callousness, had abandoned the infant who had been committed to her care. It looked as if no tie bound her to itmas if she felt no interest in it whatever; but it was not
During all the years that had since elapsed, she had not ceased to watch her upbringing; and now, when menaced with danger, she felt rising within her a strong desire to avert it. If she remained obstinately wedded to the determination she had expressed to the baronet, and did Sir Edward, in his ruthless passion, do as he had threatened, she felt as if she could have no part in such upholy doings.
The hope remained with her, however, that Diamond would be won over to a different course, and that she would be the means of doing it. Her master's commission to visit her and persuade ber to the step, was one she was very willing to fulfil, and resolved to do her utmost to put matters in the train they wished. In this disposition of mind she went, after the lapse of an hour; to the apartment in which Diamond was confined.
With a gentle step she trod the passage; gently she inserted the key into the lock, and cautiously opening the door, looked in. Diamond was still upon the sofa, but hearing the noise of some one entering, had raised her head, and was looking breathlessly, and with a frightened expression on her countenance.
Mrs Dogwood closed the door, and came forward. The girl's face was red and wo-begone from violent weeping, and the tears still trembled on the eyelashes and glistened on the cheek; but at the moment she was calm. The first wild gush of grief and terror had spent itself
, though the deep traces of its course had not disappeared. On perceiving who her new visitor was, a look of indignation, almost of disdain, rushed to her features, and she was the first to speak.
“So you have come to look upon the victim of your treachery?” she said, in a cold, bitter voice.
Mrs Dogwood, bold as she was, quailed beneath the girl's look and tone, and with a voice more tremulous than her wont, replied, " I am not aware of having committed treachery."
Diamond only smiled with contempt, as she rejoined, “O, I perceive it would be vain to speak to you of your mean, base conduct. If you are wicked and abandoned enough to become the agent in such a monstrously wrongful act, you will be impervious alike to remonstrance and entreaty."
“ You are mistaken, quite mistaken,” said the woman, anxious to remove the bad opinion which circumstances naturally caused Diamond to hold regarding her.
“ And yet you are a woman,” pleaded the girl, pathetically. “0, had you no compunction in leading a helpless, unsuspecting one of your own sex into such a foul snare?' A're your softer feelings and sympathies so dead, that you could cruelly deceive and betray
“I tell you, you are mistaken," interrupted Mrs Dogwood, reso: lutely, while blushes rose to her cheeks, which certainly had not for niany years been suffused with a similar redness. “I neither intended nor expected to do you wrong when I brought you from Edinburgh."
"Did you not give me to understand that my parents had commissioned you to fetch me to them?” asked Diamond, with unsuppressed indignation.
“I did not say that," answered the other, " though I confess I meant you to think 80. But though I knew you would not be taken immediately to your parents, I was aware that you would in
the end, and I thought there was little harm in deceiving you a bit, since I saw that was the only way to get you quietly uff.”
“And your deceit has prospered well, has it not ?" remarked Diamond, in the same bitter tone.
“I do hope it will lead to nothing unpleasant," said the other, sincerely.
“How can it do otherwise?” asked the girl. Nay, it has done 80 already. I have been insulted and threatened; and how far your wicked master may use the power you have given him, I know not.”
“I can assure you, you will be used with all kindness. Sir Edward is quick and passionate when he is opposed; but in the main he is a good man, and will make a kind husband, as you will find
« Peace, woman!" interrupted Diamond, sternly. “That man shall never be my husband. I told him this; nay, I swore it, not an hour
ago. “ Dear lady, do think better of it,” said Mrs Dogwood, earnestly.
«O, I see you have been sent to persuade me,” said Diamond, fixing her eyes stedfastly on the other's face.
Mrs Dogwood blushed again, as she answered, “Well, I will not deny that Sir Edward asked me to visit you for this purpose ; but it was also my own anxious wish to come, for I know you are standing in your own light, and I hoped by seasonable arguments to induce you to agree to the proposal."
“ Then let me tell you, that your hope is vain, utterly vain," returned Diamond, with unmistakable decision. - You do not know me, or you would see at once that I am not to be dazzled by the socalled brilliancy of the prospect held out to me. I set no value whatever on rank or wealth. I look for happiness from another source--a source which Sir Edward, with all his greatness, does not possess. But, besides, I am engaged to another one whom I love, one who, in point of moral worth, is infinitely superior to this baronet, and one who is able and willing to make me happy. Would you have me prove false to him, and false to my own nature ? would you have me embrace a lot of gilded misery, sacrifice the dearest hopes of my own heart, and wound unto death the noblest nature that lives? The very idea is loatbsome. Never, never, will I consent to so base a deed."
“Would to Heaven I had known this before!" ejaculated Mrs Pogwood, with evident distress. “I never doubted but
would at once agree to the proposal, else I would bave been the last to have brought you here. Now the deed is done, and how it is to be undone I know not; for Sir Edward has set his heart on it, and nothing will turn him. But I beseech you, Diamond—yes, I will still call you by that name, though it is not your right one do now
look upon' me'as your enemy.
You have had cause-I admit you have had cause to do so; but appearances must not always be trusted. I acted only with an ignorant intention to do you service, and the consequence now grieves me exceedingly. Will you not believe this? will
yoli still suspect me?" “ I scarcely koow what to do," answered Diamond, moved by the woman's earuest tones and apparent sincerity. “I am moving amid so much mystery, that I know not who or what I can trust. Yet I am willing to believe what you say, and trust that, as you were the means of bringing me into this dangerous situation, you will assist in my extrication as far as possible." "Willingly," answered Mrs Dogwood, with a brightened counte.
" However dangerous it may prove-and that it will be dangerous I well know-I will do my utmost to get you liberated."
" Then, as an evidence that I may trust you, will you explain some things to me? Will
you, for instance, tell me why this baronet-this Sir Edward Rockhart I think he called himself-has taken this singular step? above all, will you tell
my parents are ?"
Mrs Dogwood hesitated. “Will you give me a few minutes' time for reflection?" she asked. “ What you require to know, is very important; and the information, if given, may involve some serious consequences to myself as well as to others.
Let me, then, turn the matter over in my own mind, and in a very little I will tell you frankly whether I can comply with your request or not.”
Diamond, of course, assented to this wish, and the woman, sitting down
upon a chair, began, as she termed it, to turn the matter over in her mind. Being penetrating, and by no means devoid of intelligence, she at once saw that the girl would never be brought to agree to the plan of matrimony; and, on second thoughts, admired the heroism and constancy she had manifested. nearer and more deliberate inspection, too, she bad to admit in her own mind that the offer made was not so brilliant and valuable after all. She knew enough of the baronet to be aware how ill fitted he was to make any woman happy; and in the few words Diamond had just uttered she got a glimpse of her character, which showed that no station, even the most elevated, would compensate for the absence of affection. Her master would be the only gainer by the transaction; but why should she exert herself so much, and assist at such injustice, in behalf of the baronet? He had no claims whatever on her; she owed him no gratitude; he had not conferred on her
any favour which demanded such a return. True, her busband and the baronet' were strangely associated together, though she was altogether ignorant of the secret bond which knit them to each other. She only knew that Dogwood was devoted heart and soul to his master, and would do any thing, however criminal, to
promote his interests. But why should she sin so deeply on this account? She had already injured the girl to a great extent, and the opportunity had now come when some atonement might be made. If she became her friend, as her feelings prompted, it was necessary that she should know all, and that the assistance she rendered should be thorough and complete. But would this not bring her into trouble? Her conduct in the abandoning of the infant would have to be confessed, and the parents so cruelly bereaved might bring her to punishment. As this thought struck her, she looked at Diamond, and the fear was instantly dispelled. A being šo gentle, so affectionate and forgiving, would harbour no resentment; and she justly considered that her conduct vow, in restoring her to her parents, would secure their pardon for the past.
This idea decided her, and she resolved to communicate every particular,
Diamond bad sat watching her with intense interest, feeling that on her decision depended all her hope. At the elose, she observed a kindly expression steal over her countenance, and clasping her hands together, she eagerly exclaimed,
“ You will befriend me?"
“O, Heaven will reward you !" returned the fair girl, is a transport of joy.
“Speak not of reward,” added Mrs Dogwood. "Pardon would be a more appropriate word-pardon for the past. But let us nut speak of this now. You ask, first of all, the reason of Sir Edward's strange conduct. That is easily explained. He has no heir to the title, and this splendid estate; and to secure this, is the object he has in view. But why, you will ask, were you
who were an entire stranger to him? There was a reason for this also, Sir Edward is not particularly in favour with any of the young ladies in the neighbourhood. The truth is, bis violent, ungovernable character is too well known to admit of his gaining a wife from his own sphere in the regular way. Now, though you have hitherto occupied a low condition, you were born in a higher; and Sir Edward knowing this, took advantage of it, and hence the method taken to bring you here."
“But my parents ? O, tell me about them !” cried Diamond, pleadingly.
“Listen, then. My story will reveal my own shame and cruelty; but it must be told. Seventeen years ago, I lived in a little room in the Canongate. I trusted, was deceived, and my betrayer left me. My child too, died, and I was penniless. At this period, one afternoon, a middle-aged woman brought me an infant to nurse
, whose mother was very ill. To irisure kindness and attention, the 'father had sent with it a large sum of money; and this, together