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194

EFFECTS OF LOVE AND AFFLICTIONS.

CHAPTER XIX.

SHAME AND HUMILIATION.

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At this moment the father's thoughts are painful, agonizing; the daughter's are placid, consolatory.

Doubtless an erroneous opinion was formed of Adele, from her first sharp conversation with her father. Her ardent temperament, together with other causes connected with the manifest inconsistencies of Jesuitico-Romanism, and something similar in her father's conduct, tempted the girl to transgress those sacred bounds which filial reverence shudders to pass. But we saw her then happyhappy in the consciousness of being beloved. Whom does not that consciousness somewhat unsettle ? We have seen her subdued; her mind chastised by affliction into that pensive mood which disposes a good heart to charitable deeds, to thoughts of heaven. It is a bad heart which is not improved by affliction; or, at least, which is made worse by the trials of life.

At her father's request, Adele joined him in the parlour.

She perceived that he was ill at ease. The cause

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she knew not. Her first thought was to console her father; seeing that she was herself quite resigned, comforted.

“ Sit down, Adele,” said M. Duplessis, plaintively; “I have troublesome thoughts, which, perhaps, you will dispel; you can do so. Adele, I have been sometimes unkind to you, but I have never ceased to love you.' Adele, do you love your father?

“Oh, my father! why ask me that cruel question?"

She rushed to his chair, and embraced her father with tearful emotion.

“ I feel that you do, Adele- I feel that you do. Yes, you love your father. Would you not save him from ruin, Adele ?”

“Oh! say but the means, and prove my heart, dearest father. My fortune-my whole fortune is at your command. Providence gave it me unexpectedly, but for a good purpose; and, if to save my father from ruin, the gift is enhanced the blessing is, if possible, more divine.”

“My child, I thank you ; but that is not my meaning. Money cannot save your father from disgrace, shame, contempt.”

“ Disgrace, shame, contempt, my father!”

“'Tis soon explained, Adele. I have been imprudent; I have compromised myself. M. Gramont alone can betray me; he alone possesses my secret; he threatens me with disgrace, shame, contempt. And now you understand all."

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Adele's bosom heaved ; she breathed with difficulty.

* Yes, father, I understand you. Thus, then, I am sacrificed to this man by a sort of compactsold, as it were, at the price of a baseness. And this man has dared to reproach you with disgrace, shame, contempt!”

Adele paused for a moment, weighing what she was about to say.

“ Father," she continued, " leave all to me. Your secret, whatever it be, shall be defended, made respectable, by a daughter. I can do it; I shall do it. Send for M. Gramont at once. But permit us to settle the matter between us. I shall have to use the name of a third party. I will save you, father—your daughter will save you.”

“ But how, Adele? What is your plan ?” “ Pardon

me, father ; I cannot say more than that I can and will save you, and myself also. I have the power. If I cannot, then I'll marry M. Gramont, which is a dreadful alternative."

My good, dear child—my own Adele !” exclaimed the father, tenderly embracing the noble girl.

Her attitude, at that moment of conscious power and hopefulness, enhanced every element of her beauty, which Leonard had scarcely exaggerated in his description.

“I shall wait for him here, father. Do you retire out of hearing; promise me that. Send for M.

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Gramont. I shall be happy to-day; We shall be happy to-day.”

Fortunately the messenger soon found M. Gramont. He gladly complied with the request to attend on Mlle. Duplessis.

On entering the room, he saluted Adele with a half-triumphant air. She bowed without rising, and pointed to a chair.

Gramont began, with a swaggering tone,“I believe I ought to apologise —

'Permit me to interrupt you, sir. 'Tis a matter of business to-day; apologies may be excused.”

“ As you please, mademoiselle.”

“I am obliged, M. Gramont. I wish to know if you still pretend to my hand ?”

Decidedly. Have you not pledged your word ? Has not your father pledged himself ?”

“What! you still desire to marry me? Then your motive is more apparent than ever.

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You crave

my fortune."

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Gramont shrugged his shoulders.

Well, sir, that will be soon settled. My fortune, you know, I possess in my own right. I am of age. Let us arrange the matter amicably. I'll make over one-half to you. Will that satisfy you?”

“ Mlle. Duplessis, you insult me.”

“I beg pardon, M. Gramont; you compel me to descend to business. Think a moment. You will consent, I am sure.

“Madam, I anı not to be insulted with impunity.

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Measure your words, madam. I tell you that you shall marry me.

Do you understand? You shall marry me--you must."

Gramont pronounced these words brutally, and stamped with rage, as he concluded. Adele grew pale, but lost not her self-possession. She said firmly,–

“ What, sir, if I say that I will not marry you?”

“ Ask your father; he will tell you the consequences;" retorted Gramont, with a bitter smile.

“And you condescend to build your hope on the possession of my father's secret ?”

“Oh, you know it, do you? Well, 't is hard for two to keep a secret: when we are one, it will be more secure.”

“Suppose, M. Gramont, you had a secret, and it were known to another whose secret you knew, would you not respect that secret then?”

“Oh, assuredly; but that is nothing to the purpose.

“ Let us see, M. Gramont. Tax your memory; try if you can recall the fifteenth of June, 184, three o'clock in the morning.”

Gramont grasped the chair against which he was standing ; gazed, horror-struck, on Adele ; who, nothing dismayed, went on,

“I will not go through the hideous details. I will only mention the name of the man whom you engaged to remove the dead body, but who shrank back at the sight of the corpse, and the thought of

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