« VorigeDoorgaan »
remained tortured with suspense, he resolved to avoid the presence of the unhappy being to whom he was so unequally yoked.
I never did an action of such shame,
EARLY in the morning Lord Avondel received a note from Paulina.
“ I have,” said she, “ all night endured tortures worse than stemming the fiery stream of Phlegethon. I have heard, that after nobly struggling with your miseries, your anguish affected your health, and you retired severely indisposed. Lives my Avondel ? O the cruel interdiction of narrow suspicion, gross in its ideas, while affecting purity. I am forbidden from watching by your couch, lulling you to sleep with my voice, or pressing your burning temples with my hands. Alas! that she only is denied to minister to your woes who can enter into all the refined sensations of wounded honour. Generous Avondel! write to me but two sentences,—that you live, and that you forgive the inadvertent zeal which rashly drew aside the veil that concealed your disgraces from yourself. The miseries which I suffer on my own account will overwhelm me with despair, unless you
intimate that you sympathize in the agonies of her who trembles at the near prospect of being claimed as the wife of Monthermer.”
Absorbed in meditation of his own
disgraces and wrongs, Lord Avondel had lately thought of Paulina only as she had been the messenger of evil tidings, and was more inclined to scrutinize the veracity of her testimony than to conjecture the probable consequences of the general's return to England. He had seen instances of the violence of her passions, and dreading their effect, should his negligence urge her to despair, he determined to pay her one more visit, though rather with sentiments of compassion and subdued resentment, than of admiration, or love.
He found her in the deepest affliction, a dangerous state for a susceptible high-minded man to behold a beautiful insinuating woman, who had art enough to persuade him that he was the cause of her distress. The soul-felt anguish of Avondel was, however, an alleviation rather than
an addition to her sorrows. In the impending arrival of Monthermer she saw the crisis of her fate. Like many other coquettes, she had become entangled in her own snare, and while she proposed to gratify revenge revived the embers of unextinguished love. In proportion as her passion for Avondel increased to warm enthusiasm, her contempt for her husband deepened into aversion, and as her romantic imagination loaded her favourite with virtues, so it enveloped the ill-fated general in vices of which his frank, careless, pliant, yet irritable, disposition was really incapable. With pagan idolatry, and more than pagan barbarity, she deified the winds and waves, calling upon them to whirl the ship which bore this loathsome freight to any other shore, or to inhume it in the dark abyss rather than disclose to her eyes the offensive and