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144

EXTRACT FROM A DIARY.

CHAPTER XIV,

THE RESULT.

Count Valremy kept a diary, in which he made two entries daily—one in the morning, the other in the evening: the former consisted in resolutions, the latter in fulfilments ; for thus he termed the respective entries.

The resolution of the morning in question was as follows:

“ Resolved, to punish the villain Gramont by an efficient retaliation. My friend must be deceived and sacrificed; but revenge is paramount to every other motive.

From this it is evident that the conversation just given was premeditated by this unprincipled man, purposely to lead his victim into this most disreputable agreement. Such is the friendship of those whose only bond of union is the kindred pursuit of vice.

His forceful appeal to Leonard's vanity was adroitly made: the ruling passion of every man is

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a mine ready sprung; the cunning discover it, and apply the fatal spark.

Strong as may be the reader's prepossession against Leonard Devigne, it is, nevertheless, most probable that his intentions respecting Mlle. Duplessis were, at first, purely honourable ; and that Valremy shamed him into guilt.

Stimulated by the pernicious influence of his master, the pupil's ambition was to attain perfection in the arts of vice. Dismal perversion of the mind and heart! If sins of human frailty are to be expiated by condign punishment, how much more the crimes of gratuitous profligacy, whose motive is only vanity. Crimes that, like the whirlwind, leave destruction behind them, and carry with them sorrow and ruin in their onward path.

There are strong impulses, whelming sympathies, which impel many a gentle heart through a vale of tears to hopeless misery; by the uncompromising code of Christian morality, even such are not excused; still, the impetuosity of the passions may, perhaps, in the hour of judgment, induce the God of Mercy to commiserate with his frail creature, who is “ prone to evil from his youth.” But how can we apply these consoling words to the deeds in question ? ..... If we are niggards in virtue, let us be niggards in vice as well; nor commit a crime for the sake of its “reputation."

reputation.” Excesses of youth ! such is the complacent term ; but are not such excesses as it were commercial draughts upon our old age ? Are they not signed by the hand of

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146

ALAS! THE LOVE OF WOMAN," &c.

misery for an immense amount? The capital is never paid ; but only the interest, compound, triple, and quadruple, until life stops payment and becomes bankrupt. Then the skeleton of death steps in, offers to pay up the arrears; and notwithstanding the hardness of his conditions, he is acceptedcancels the whole debt in one instant; but claims the earthly tenement until the day of resurrection. And then and then !

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Stay, gentle maiden. Return. 'Tis not too late.

Adele is now at her father's gate. She looks back. She hesitates.

6 What shall I do?

Return, return. Danger impends. But you know not that. Alas! could your guardian angel keep you , back !

“ He loves me; why should I fear ?"

Generous heart! Trust not the smiles of manthe melting words of deceit: you are betrayed. Oh! could your guardian angel whisper, beware!

“ Yes, he loves me; I'll go-I'll go."

Her hand is on the latch ; the hinges creak; she shudders, looks back, and listens.

“ Is there not something ?”

Yes, imprudent maiden ! 'tis conscience ; listen to it-you are wrong-return, return.

66 'Tis the wind.”

Fast over the threshold she trips : gently and softly the gate she latches again ; and now see how she hurries to the spot appointed.

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THE FATE OF IMPRUDENCE.

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How her poor heart flutters. How she trembles - looks back-stops for an instant; then on-on-quick to the eager arms of love she rushes !

The moon shines bright from a cloudless sky. Her beams bathe in a flood of light the tree in whose shadow the maiden stands in trembling expectation. She hears the distant hum of the city : at times it seems to increase, as if its strife were approaching

Oh, how she wrings her cold hands, and wishes she were not there!—there in that lonely spot; poor imprudent maiden!

“ Yes, 'tis here; why is he not here?

See you not, behind yon tree, him whom you seek? He sees you now: he is coming.

The figure emerged : 'twas the Count enveloped in a large cloak; his face partially concealed.

“ I bear a message to you from Mr. Devigne; will you permit me to deliver it ?

“ Who? what!-am I betrayed ?"
“ No, dear lady. Be not afraid.

I am his friend; you are safe.”

“Oh, what shall become of me? I have done wrong. God forgive me !"

“ Rest on my arm, dear lady; trust to the honour of

your lover's friend. But time is pressing ; the carriage is at hand; all is ready; I will bear you to his arms."

“ But why is he not here himself?"

“A sudden illness. He will join us at the first stage, where we will wait for him."

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Oh, heavens! I am desolate. ..... I know not who

you are, sir; how can I trust you ?” “ I will explain all to you as we walk, dear lady: let us haste-a moment's delay may be fatal-we may be pursued.

“ Oh God, direct me -strengthen me! I am bewildered."

Overwhelmed by the sudden terror that came over her, Adele sank on the Count's arm : her head drooped; and she sobbed in the violence of anguish.

At that instant-in that position-and whilst the Count was leaning over her beautiful face, whispering soft words of comfort, which she heeded notpoor bewildered maiden !-in that instant, Gramont rushed upon them.

“ You are far from home to-night, Mlle. Duplessis.”

At the sound of his rapid footsteps, Adele looked back, and recognised Gramont ere he addressed her, although, like the Count, he too was cloaked.

Gramont walked up to the Count and said :

“ Mr. Devigne, well met. Perhaps you will honour me with your company, for an instant or two, a few steps further.”

Ere the first words escaped his lips, Mlle. Duplessis had disengaged her arm, and was hurrying back to her father's house: fright gave her wings.

The Count made no reply. He walked with Gramont, till the latter stopped and addressed him :

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