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CHAP. XXIX

That soul-expressing eye, benignly bright,
Where meckness beams ineffable delight,
That brow, where virtue sits enthron'd serene,
Each feature forms, and dignifies the scene;
Still let me listen while her words impart
The sweet cffusions of the blameless heart.

BEATTIE,

THE difficulty of carrying on the drama of deception without exciting the suspicion of an alarmed, offended, and penetrating woman, rendered Mr. Sandford extremely desirous to bring on the catastrophe, and to decamp before his magisterial dignity should be exposed to the degradation of commitment for a fraud. With a view to expedite. his retreat, he dispatched a servant to the cottage, which was but a few miles distant, who soon returned with the information that Lord Avondel had set off for London. The daw then immediately began to cast its peacock's feathers, and depositing his wig, band, surtout, statute-books, and an immense pair of false eye-brows, in the horse-pond, he withdrew from the King's Arms, and appeared on the road to London in a character perfectly opposite to the country justice, I mean a man of fashion.

Paulina had for some hours suspected that her detention was not the effect of mistake, and as soon as her guardian disappeared' she found, upon inquiry, that he was as much a stran

ger as herself, and tliat the appendages which had so much terrified her as the formularies of office, were merely the implements of disguise, or the mummeries of frolic. To whom could this daring outrage be ascribed ? Her own guilty conscience told her it was certainly intended to disappoint her assignation with Lord Avondel. Had he then betrayed her? Every lineament in his character proved that was impossible. Even if Emily had discovered their intrigue, she was unequal to this successful project for counteracting it. Weak, timid, and artless, she could neither plan with dexterity nor execute with energy. This insult must originate with abler heads and firmer hands; and whom could she suspect but her rival Lady Selina Delamore, to whom, with the rancour natural to a corrupted mind, she ascribed all her own vices, exaggerated to

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tenfold virulence ? For she could as soon have supposed herself a contemplative nun or mortified devotee, as to believe it possible that an ardent attachment to Lord Avondel could subside into the holy fervor of devotion, or change to the calm affection of disinterested friendship. In her estimation, as successful love must rise into idolatry, slighted affection must be perverted into the most deadly, active and interminable hatred. The woman who once held the heart of Avondel could never patiently behold it diverge to another, without making a vigorous struggle to regain the treasure.

But what steps was she now to take? Doubtless, Selina had not done her work by 'halves. Unquestionably, some dark delusion had spirited away Avondel; and after the publicity which this adventure must acquire, the cottage could not conceal her from the search of Monthermer ? What then should she do? Return to London ? What awaited her there? A jealous husband, whose passionate love, combined with a weak understanding, would irritate him to the wildest ebullitions of vindictive rage. The impetuosity of the general's temper certainly justified her fears for her personal safety, which now entirely absorbed her attention, and made her regret rather than repent her having indulged her capricious dislikes and highly culpable attachments to such a height as to resolve on an elopement.

While she debated how she should act, she received a letter superscribed “ to the Lady at the King's Arms,” and under cover one addressed to herself by her own proper name.

The signature stated that it came from a peace-maker, and it contained an offer

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