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THE CRUEL TORMENTOR.

259

CHAPTER VII.

LOVE'S AGONY.

A new feature has appeared in Leonard's disposition. His father's request has confirmed his resolution.

Miss Brenton's apparent “prudery” (whose real cause he could not suspect) produced in the man the determination to punish the girl, now he was convinced that she loved him. His father's request would have had but little effect, had there not been in his nature that sentiment which prompted his revenge, for such it was.

The idea pleased him ; it would gratify his vanity to show the same power, with more effect, by which the lady had tormented him, in the first instance. But there was an evident difference in the case of the Jesuit's instrument. Leonard's conduct was that of the cruel tormentor which plays with its cap

tive prey.

He loved Helen, or rather, perhaps, desired her intensely; but she had annoyed him by her “ prudery,” for such he deemed it; and he resolved to exalt his pride for its past humiliations. He would

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WOMAN'S CUNNING.

enjoy Helen's humility; each sigh of hers would be his triumph.

If conscience suggested the reproach of cruelty, he dismissed the admonition with the words, “I'll propose at last—I 'll marry her; she'll then rejoice."

It is curious to remark how this determination on his part tallied with the Jesuit's scheme and his father's wish. How often in life do the most opposite, disconnected motives of human conduct, conspire to one and the same fulfilment !

It is only Helen who suffers here. She suffers for her compliance with the Jesuit's wish, whose real object she knows not. She also suffers for having dissimulated.

It may be imagined that cunning in woman is a gift of nature, to compensate for the absence of manly strength; but how often does it effectuate its own punishment? It tempts us in woman, but perhaps sincerity would tempt us more, at least, the best

of us.

Several interviews followed the “ disappointment” of Helen. Each was attended with the same result. How did she bear it? Her love was so devoted, so intense, that she wept in secret, and strove to appear cheerful in company, checked every rising sigh, seemed perfectly herself, because she still hoped for the happy day.

What was the term proposed to himself by Leonard, to his cruel suspense? His arrival in Paris, just before leaving for England.

A TOUCHING APPEAL.

261

Hence he could now, carried away by this artificial, unjust, cruel whim, prefer to see Helen in company with her parents, rather than strive to be with her alone, as formerly. The man who could thus forego a known bliss, to suit a purpose, must have been gifted with great self-restraint, if his heart was capable of the intense love which he had professed.

And did not Helen conclude that his love was departing? She did ; but listen. They are alone.

“You once talked of love, Mr. Devigne; I have almost forgotten your energetic ardours.

Have

you?"

Why do you ask me that question, Miss Brenton,” he replied, smilingly.

“Why, Mr. Devigne ?"

A tear was rising, she suppressed it; a sigh was on its way, she drove it back; but a gentle blush bloomed, in spite of her self-possession. Leonard observed it, and yet he asked again,

“Why do you ask that question ?"

Helen opened a book, and turned over its pages; perhaps she turned a dozen unconsciously; and she looked her lover in the face; but her glance could not stay; it fell to the ground-she sighed. What man could resist that appeal ?

Leonard Devigne !

Helen rose and left the room.

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Alas, poor Helen!
This is not the pining of a heart devoured by

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THE FOUNTAIN OF LIFE.

jealousy, or by neglect when wedlock has given a bond to love. ’T is the anguish of a heart tormented with a question which it cannot answer—an eternal why? to which neither angel nor imp will answer but with its echo.

Who could read without sympathy Helen's diary, from the day of her disappointment to the day when — but 't is not wise to anticipate either bliss. or misery. Disappointment may ravish the former; Heaven may avert the latter. Let us rather moderate hope, and check despair. “ Thy will be done,” is the fountain of life.

And yet, alas, poor Helen!

PAINFUL CONVICTIONS.

263

CHAPTER VIII.

A GLIMPSE OF THE FUTURE AND THE PAST.

The travellers are nearing Paris. What an interesting journey to Leonard Devigne is it made by the conversation of Father Fraser! How harassing to Helen, by the steady coldness of him whom she loves so fondly!

But she conceals her anguish. She would not be humiliated by her cruel lover. How was it that she did not despise him ?

She loved him in spite of his neglect. She would love him for ever. Her reflections on the past were bitter. She had lent herself to the scheme of conversion - (innocent enough in itself for the poor girl). To that scheme, and the consequent restraint placed upon her by Father Fraser, she ascribed her present wretchedness. Though not exactly the right cause, still it sufficed to explain her punishment.

She naturally conceived a dislike for Father Fraser, and his controversy, which she now avoided most resolutely - referring Leonard“ to Father Fraser for farther discussion on that subject.”

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