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The crime, however, was known only to themselves. Werner left the victim of his baseness, and, in the smiles of the wealthy “honourable,” forgot-no, he could not forget—but succeeded in lulling for awhile the clammerings of conscience, and strove to forget the beautiful, the injured Urina. But the eye of Him who never sleeps, had marked his conduct, and blasted his project. He allowed him indeed to possess the object of his sordid and despicable mind, and cursed him in its possession.
Eight months only had passed since the crushing intelligence of young St. Belmont's death had been received, when the public prints announced the marriage of Reginald Werner to the Honourable Miss
Mr. St. Belmont saw, but could not give credence to it. Too soon, however, “confirmation, strong as holy writ," was received by him of the fact. An action for breach of promise might have been instituted against him, and damages to a considerable amount have been recovered, but the father of Urina scorned revenge, and would not that his daughter's name should be bandied round the world, “a theme for fools to prate on.” Denouncing him as a villain, he left him to the lacerations of his own guilty mind, and to the Justice of Him who hath said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay."
Here again I beheld and admired the conduct of Mr. St. Belmont. I saw his noble soul rise above this fresh affliction. It yielded for a moment to the pressure, and then, with superhuman elasticity, rose to its usual equanimity. His principal concern now was, in what way he should disclose the baseness of Werner to Urina. To hide it altogether was impossible: but how to conceal it for a little time, so as gradually to prepare her mind for it, was difficult to devise. No suspicion had ever entered the mind of the affectionate father, of the irreparable injury which the villain-soul'd Werner had inflicted upon his child. Her recent love of solitude, and almost incessant tears, had been imputed to other causes,—the indifference Werner had manifested, and the death of her brother.
Suspicion, and especially in affairs of love, is sharp-sighted. Miss St. Belmont proved it so. Her father had, by gentle and far-fetched hints, been endeavouring to prepare her for all the dreadful tale. He had not proceeded far, when the “ horrible truth" broke in
her. “ Werner is false !” she shrieked out, and fell fainting into her father's arms. Delirium followed; and, for awhile, her life was despaired of. A few weeks elapsed, and she slowly recovered: but shame and confusion covered her. Her secret yet remained in her own bosom; but it could not always be hid : and, as she looked tremblingly into the future, melancholy fixed his black impression on her. To direct her mind from what her parents supposed to be the results exclusively of blighted affection, they advised her to visit a friend at a few miles' distance. She was now altogether a passive thing, and therefore followed the wishes of those whose happiness was more dear to her than her own existence: she consented, and went. The information which the parents received every day, during the first week of her absence, was so favourable, as to lead them to indulge the pleasing hope, that their drooping flower might yet revive, and be spared to bless them.
Mr. St. Belmont had for some time discontinued his walks in the
where we first met; now he resumed them. He looked forward with pleasing anticipations of enjoying life, while it might be continued in the endeared society of his wife and daughter. He was sauntering one evening with his only companion, a book, by which his mind was so fully engrossed, that he wandered further and longer than he had intended, and therefore, on perceiving it, turned instantly towards home. The broad shadows of evening already gave to the surrounding scenery a sort of indistinctness, which might easily lead the mind to imagine the existence of moving beings among the "waving saplings. Mr. St. Belmont had more than once stopped, influenced by such deception. Again he stopped, and again passed on, smiling at the optical illusion of which he was the subject.
At length he saw, or thought he saw, a figure glide with the swiftness of the wind past the end of the avenue in which he was. He hasted forward, to be satisfied. The object, if an object it was, had disappeared: he supposed he had again been mistaken, and again walked slowly on. In another moment it passed from behind a clump of trees; and he became convinced that he was not deceived. The figure was of female form : the dark drapery, in which it was arrayed, floated in the light air which its speed occasioned. Pressently he lost sight of it again; and in a few seconds more, a loud shriek, and a splashing noise in the river alarmed him for the safety of the unknown being. With increased haste he pushed to the spot, and perceived a part of the head-dress of the object of his pursuit, resting on the water. He waited not to seek for assistance, but, plunging into the stream, soon raised the apparently lifeless body, and bore it to the shore ;—when, 0 dreadful ! he discovered,—with feelings which attempted description would disgrace,-his own daughter! He again caught her in his arms, and carried her immediately home. Every required assistance was soon obtained, and the unfortunate Urina recorered ;—and then feeling that life would not long continue, the dreadful secret of her situation was revealed.
Oh! if the abandoned in vice, the confirmed debauchee, could have witnessed the scene which followed, it would surely have been a lesson to their souls, of sovereign use; such as would have led them to detest their own villainies, and to have changed their seductive smiles for tears of bitter remorse; · nor longer have allowed themselves to cheat themselves into the darkest deeds of vice of which human nature is capable, by employing the mild term of gallantry, to gloss over acts, at which Angels might weep, if Angels had tears to shed.
The departure of Urina from the house of her friends, was unknown to them. The horrors of her mind had possessed her spirit with fatal energy, and gave to her physical powers unusual strength. Without knowing what her own purpose was, she fled, she knew not whither, until she had gained the side of the river, into which she instantly plunged, and from whence her father had happily rescued her.
Mr. St. Belmont bent over his child, and blessed her ; but no fearful imprecation trembled on his lips, on the author of her ruin: he rather shrunk from the awful prospect which opened before him, of interminable misery. The duration of Urina's sorrows was brief: at the end of two short weeks, her recently fair and beautiful form was an inanimate mass of corruptible matter; her bright eye shot forth its fires no more; the melody of her voice was hushed in the silence of death; the dusky tomb closed upon, and hid her for ever from the world. But before her spirit took its flight to the invisible state, her humble soul was prostrated before the cross of reconciliation; and while, by faith, fleeing to the hope set before her in the gospel, the peace of pardon took possession of her bosom, and with the strength of a martyr's confidence, she exclaimed, as she entered the valley of the shadow of death, “I fear no evil.