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"He is yet unconscious even of my suspicions," returned Angelica. "While his blood was still inflamed, and his nerves in a state of irritability, it was no time to speak to him on a subject of so much importance, especially when there is some hope that if heard at a cool and dispassionate moment, the assurance that he has, by his own misconduct, lost what I still believe he sincerely loves, may make an impression on his mind, and lead him to abandon his destructive vice."
"It is more likely to drive him to greater excesses; and if so, do you not think, Angelica, that you will be answerable for it?"
"He who reads all hearts, knows how earnestly I have laboured to save him from destruction, and will not punish me for the crimes it was not in my power to prevent. Now that I find all my efforts unavailing, it is my duty to savo myself from being involved in the ruin that awaits him."
"But if he were married, and had a pleasant home to go to, instead of boarding with people he doesn't care for, it would be very different," urged Caroline. "He is of a lively turn of mind, and must have society; but if he had a wife that he loved as it is well known he loves you, ready to receive him, he would have no need to go amongst the gay companions that at present tempt him."
"It would be extreme presumption in me," replied Angelica, "to expect to have that influence over my husband, which I have failed to have over my lover. The charm of novelty would soon wear off, and by what tie could 1 hope to hold a man who had broken a promise, the keeping of which he knew to be the only condition on which I could become his wife?"
The conversation was here interrupted by Mrs. Melville's entering the room; and Caroline soon after took her leave.
Angelica Melville was the only child of parents who had risen from poverty to wealth and independence. Without o cation, without friends, and without money, Isaac Melville had, through means of industry, sobriety, and integrity, aided by the economy and good management of his excellent and amiable wife, risen step by step, till he became a great and wealthy lumber merchant, carrying with him as he rose the esteem and confidence of all with whom he dealt. Strange as it may seem, this man could not even write his own name; but it was a common saying, that "Isaac Melville's word was as good as his bond!" and though he was unable to read a word in a book, his strong, clear mind was capable of reading and judging of mankind, whilst his kind and generous heart led him to look with tenderness and mercy on the defects his discrimination detected. Deeply sensible
of the disadvantages they had themselves laboured under from the want of education, it was the determination of both parents to give Angelica every advantage within their power. For this purpose she was sent, when yet very young, to the large establishment at Westchester, and returned at the age of fifteen, to prove that the means of improvement which had been procured for her, had not been thrown away. But we flatter ourselves that the slight introduction our readers have already had to the mind of our heroine, has enabled them to determine that external accomplishments were but a small part of the graces by which she was adorned. Her love of reading had been encouraged by a good supply of books, with which her lover always took care to provide her; and as she read for improvement, and not for mere amusement, she thought as she read, and digested the aliment with which she Was continually feeding her strong and lucid mind. Her manners could not be said to have the city polish, but they had what was infinitely preferable to the eye of taste, for they displayed that gentle and easy courtesy which arises from a benevolent wish to please, and being divested of all considerations of self, were marked only by that grace which is the result of correct judgment and an innate perception of the beautiful.
But we fear our readers will scarcely forgive us for having detained them so long from the scene of action, and will, therefore, without further delay, introduce them to the usual sitting-room, where Angelica, the morning after her conversation with Caroline, sat in painful suspense, awaiting the usual visit of her lover.
We have said that Angelica sat waiting for arrival of her lover, nor was it long before he made his appearance. With a bright, cheerful, self-possessed countenance, such as he ever wore when undistorted by the demon of intemperance, Henry Longridge entered the room at an earlier hour than was his usual custom. "Angelica," said he, as he approached her, "I am come thus early to take you a ramble through the woods before the sun gets too high. Come, dearest, put on your sun-bonnet. I came to see you last evening, but your mother said you had a severe headache, and she did not wish to disturb you. I see you are still far from well; but a walk this beautiful morning will do you good. Come, sweet one, get your bonnet and let us go."
"I would rather not walk this morning," said Angelica, struggling to speak with composure, but her eyes filling with tears in spite of her utmost efforts.
"But it will do you good, dearest, indeed it will. The fine breeze that is stirring, cannot but be of servioe to your head, whilst it kisses that polished brow as I so delight to do;" and as the young man spoke, he bent down as if intending to press his lips on her forehead, but moving her head gently to one side, Angelica said in a voice which, notwithstanding her earnest endeavours, betrayed her emotion, "It is not my head that aches."
"What is it then, my own beloved?" asked the lover, in a tone of anxiety; for he began to be afraid, from her look and manner, that she was labouring under a more serious indisposition than he had at first apprehended. "What worse than the headache have you to complain of."
"It is my heart that aches, Henry," she replied, in a deep, solemn voice, and raising her beautiful, but sorrowful eyes to his face as she spoke.
"What do you mean, Angelica," cried Longridge, still more alarmed; "what are you speaking of? Why are you thus agitated?"
"Because," said she, making a strong effort to speak distinctly, "I am about to take leave, for ever, of one whom I have loved from my earliest infanoy." Had a ball pierced Henry's heart, he could scarcely have given a more convulsive start. He was too well acquainted with the character of her who had uttered these words, not to be assured they contained no idle or unmeaning threat; and after standing a few minutes silent, he exclaimed, "I know whom I have to thank for this, and I shall not be long of showing my gratitude. I will teach him to come to you with his mischievous whisperings."
"You have no one to blame but yourself, Henry, for I have taken nobody's evidence but ^ your own. It is above a month since I received an anonymous letter, advising me not to trust too much to your promises; but I treated the cowardly missile with the contempt it deserved, and continued to receive you as usual, till yesterday, when you yourself told the dreadful tale."
"What on earth did I do or say," exclaimed the lover in extreme surprise, "that could warrant your coming to such a determination?"
"It was not what you said, Henry; it was a much less equivocal evidence."
"What could that be ?" he asked, in a tone of impatience.
"It was your breath."
"My breath !" he exclaimed. "And could you, Angelica, have the heart to condemn me to a life of misery, for having simply drunk a glass of wine with an old college chnm?"
"A single glass of wine could not have left its effects so long behind it," returned Angelica, gently; "but that is nothing to the purpose. By taking a single glass of wine, you broke your promise as effectually as if you had swallowed gallons; and the ice once broken, 1 how easy is it to slide into the gulf from which I had fondly hoped you were rescued."
"But you cannot,—it is impossible you can think of destroying my happiness for life, for this one single deviation."
"You know, Henry," said the gentle and •lmost heart-broken girl, "it is not on account of one deviation, or even a hundred, that I am come to my present resolution; but because I find that your baneful vice has obtained such a hold of you, that even a knowledge of the separation between us which must be the consequence of your breaking your promise, was not sufficient to restrain you. Besides, you know that I, too, made a vow, and however light you may make of yours, I, at least, shall keep mine sacred."
"All this arises from that contemptible anonymous letter," cried Henry, grinding his teeth and knitting his brows as if inwardly vowing vengeance. "Though you imagined yourself uninfluenced by it, there is no doubt that it had put you upon the watch, and aided you in a discovery that it is not probable would ever have been made without it."
"And would your sin have been less, because I remained ignorant of it?" asked Angelica. "But I assure you, no one is to blame but yourself; and I believe you are yourself your only enemy."
"The mean, cowardly rascal!" he muttered again, and at the same moment the room door was opened, and Dr. Rawley entered. The instant Longridge saw him, his face became a perfect crimson, and his eyes seemed almost to flash fire. '1Yon nre the person of all others I wished most to see," he exclaimed, before the new-comer had time to utter a word to Angelica; "for I was impatient to tell you what a mean, contemptible scoundrel I think you."
"A most uncourteous salutation," said the young physician, who though surprised at both the words and manner of Longridge, never for an instant doubted its being intended for a joke; "but let me first shake hands with Angelica, and then I will listen to the rest of your compliments."
"Stand off!" cried the other, throwing himself between Angelica and him whom he addressed, as he advanced towards her, "stand off, nor dare to defile her purity by touching her with a hand that has been the instrument of your low and dastardly cunning."
"What does all this mean?" asked Rawley in extreme astonishment; "are you rehearsing a part, Longridge, that you intend to perform on some great occasion?"
"No, sir," returned the other, "it is you, who assume a character that does not belong to you. Take a review of your own actions, and see what your conscience will tell you."
"I am totally at a loss to understand you," returned the physician, in a gentle but firm tone, and with a look that bespoke the most unequivocal veracity; "but if you intend to insinuate that I have ever been guilty of a mean or dishonourable action, I deny the charge, and must beg to know what foundation you have for it, that I may have an opportunity of convincing you of your error."
"That you shall have immediately, and your proper reward shall acoompany it," replied the infuriated madman, whose nerves having been so lately in a state of excitement, were easily irritated beyond his control.
"This, however, is not a fit place for either," said the Doctor; "but as Mrs. Melville has sent for me to visit Angelica, I must first perform my duty, and will then go with you to discuss the subject at our leisure."
"Angelica's indisposition is not such as to demand your immediate attention, and I am anxious to have this business settled; so come, let us attend to it first," said Henry, and made towards the door as he spoke.
"Oh, Doctor!" cried Angelica, in a voice of agony, as Rawley was about to follow, "look upon him, I implore, as in a state of insanity, and treat him with forbearance."
'' You know, Angelica, I am principled against duelling; besides which, whoever is dear to you will ever be treated with tenderness by me," said the young man, as he pressed the hand which in her agitation she had laid on his arm, and left the room.
"Jim, Jim!" cried Caroline Fraser, throwing up the window, and calling after her brother who was running as if in great haste, "whore are you going? You know you promised to drive me over to the store, and I want to go right away."
"I cannot go just now," returned the brother, "for I am going to have a piece of first rate sport."
"What sport? Where are you going to get it?"
"Down by the river side. The freshet that came down in the night has washed Jake Snyder's shanty away, and Dr. Rawley was seen running down in a great hurry, as if somebody had got hurt."
"And is that what you expect sport from?" asked the sister.
"No, but as soon as Harry Longridge saw him, he went after him with a determination to goad him into accepting the challenge he sent him yesterday, but which he refused to notice. I know Harry will not spare him, for he is well primed for the work, as he has been drinking all night. There'll be grand sport between them, and I want to see it."
"But why does Harry want him to fight?" asked the sister; "what on earth can the Doctor have done to induce Longridge to send him a challenge?"
"It is about an anonymous letter that he sent to Angelica Melville, to tell her that Harry had begun to drink again. But I must be off, or I shall be too late to see the fun;" and away ran the brother.
"Oh, mercy!" cried Caroline, clasping her hands in a burst of feeling, for though capable of many improper actions, her heart was not inaccessible to strong and generous emotions; "and is he trying to take away Rawley's life for that, of which I alone am guilty? But it must not, it shall not be!" and as she spoke, she seized her sun-bonnet, and flew towards the river with a speed that exceeded even that of her impatient brother. As she drew near the spot, she beheld Angelica seated on the ground, supporting on her lap the head of a poor boy, who had just been dragged from under the now floating shanty, whilst Dr. Rawley was anxiously engaged in stopping the effusion of blood from his mouth, nose, and ears. Longridge was advancing with rapid but unsteady steps; and at the sight of him, Angelica made a motion for a woman who stood near to take her place, and rose to return home; for she was unwilling to irritate Henry's feelings by letting him see her act in conjunction with his supposed rival. The lover, however, had noticed her, and consequently advanced, still more determined to provoke the object of his jealous rage to fight.
"I am glad to have a chance of seeing you," said he as he drew near the physician, who however continued to occupy himself with his bleeding patient, without even raising his eyes to the new-comer; "you have very prudently kept out of my way, ever since I became acquainted with your contemptible conduct, but I have found you at last, and hope that a good sleep has braced your nerves, and that you are not quite such a coward as you were last night."
"I am stifl too great a coward to dare to appear before my Maker with the blood of a fellow-creature on my conscience," replied Rawley in a calm voice.
"That sounds all very fine, no doubt." re
turned the other, "but it will not satisfy an injured man."
•' I never injured you in thought, word, or deed," said the Dootor in a firm and composed voice.
"It's a lie!" exclaimed the young madman, "and if that isn't enough to provoke you to fight, I will give you a little more;" and so saying he jumped upon a large log that was close behind Rawley, and had raised his foot with the intention of giving him a kick, when he was arrested in the act by the voice of Caroline, who had by this time nearly reached the place where they were, and though she could not hear his words, she understood by his actions what he was about to do. "Stop, Harry, stop, and don't insult an innocent man. It was I who wrote that letter. Dr. Rawley had nothing to do with it." But though Longridge's raised foot was arrested, the suddenness of the surprise, the unsteadiness of his footing, for the log on which be stood had already begun to float, and above all the reeling of his own brain, destroyed his equilibrium, and after swaying about for a few seconds, he fell backwards at the instant that a sudden rush of water came impetuously down, and carried him away with it. The loud screams that succeeded from Caroline and the other females made Dr. Rawley, who had hitherto paid but little attention to his furious assailant, look round, and seeing him carried down the stream in the midst of rafts of timber, broken bridges, and various articles that the flood had swept away from the banks in its progress, he in an instant ran to a place where a bend of the river gave him an advantage with regard to distance, and then, just as the struggling man came opposite to him, he plunged into the impetuous torrent, that raged as if it would swallow whatever came within its reach. Nothing could exceed the confusion whioh followed. The shrieks of the women, the cries of the children, and the shouting of the men, for though there were but few of the latter there, (the damage higher up having been so great that the principal part of the population had already been drawn thither,) yet those who remained seemed to try by the noise they made to supply the place of more efficient qualities. Caroline's voice was distinguishable above all the rest: "Oh! who will go and help them?" she cried in a voice of agony. "Jim," she added, addressing her brother, who stood with his hands in his trousers' pockets, as if he thought this was but a new scene in the entertainment he had anticipated, "why don't J you go? Oh, make haste, or they will be too much exhausted to keep themselves up."
"And what could I do in that water?" asked the brother, "I haven't half the strength
of either of them; one rush of the flood would sweep me away in a minute."
"I will give fifty dollars to anybody that will help them," again cried Caroline. "See, see, tbey are both holding by a raft!" she continued; "oh, is there no one who will go to their assistance?" As she said this, Angelica, who had nearly reached home at the time the cry of alarm was raised, returned. Conjecturing that some one had fallen into the river, she had run to the house to procure assistance, but finding that her father and all his men were gone to aid other sufferers, she possessed herself of a long rope, and flew like lightning down the hill; but finding no one who appeared to know what to do, she coiled up one end of the rope and with almost supernatural strength threw the other so far forward that Rawley, after several efforts, at length succeeded in getting hold of it. As soon as he did this, he tied it round one of the planks, and Jim Fraser and two other men hming come to their recollection, soon began to tow the sufferers towards the shore. As they did so, it was easy to see that the Doctor's care was directed towards his companion, whom he had placed nearest the end of the plank to which the rope was fastened, and which of course came soonest to the shore. At length the frail convoy came within reach of further aid, and Fraser, though little disposed to put himself to inconvenience, was able to get hold of Longridge, who soon found himself upon solid ground. But when Henry, whom the cold water had restored completely to his senses, looked around for the generous friend whom he had a short time before so shamefully insulted, and who notwithstanding had made such noble efforts for his preservation, what was his consternation to find that Rawley was not there. "I seen a great log of wood strike him down, just as they were busy hauling you in," said a woman, in reply to Longridge's inquiries about his friend; "but I expect he will soon come up again, for he ean swim like a duck." She had scarcely said this when they observed at a distance, far below where they stood, an objeet like the dead body of a man floating on the water, and in a moment Henry, though much exhausted, and with his wet clothes hanging heavy about him, rushed forward to where the body, having been stopped in its progress down the stream by some stationary object, lay motionless, plunged again into the torrent, heedless of the entreaties of Caroline, who followed him, crying as she went: "Harry, Harry, don't risk your precious life for the sake of a dead man. Yon may see there is no life in him by the manner he lies there." Henry, however, persevered, and with an energy of which no one a few minutes before would have imagined him capable, he stemmed the flood and soon succeeded in reaching the body, which lay upon the water as insensible as the wood by which it was impeded. Nor was he less successful in towing it towards the shore, when the friendly rope was again thrown out by the energetic Angelica, who alone of the spectators possessed the least presence of mind. Nor did her efforts stop here, for no sooner did she see Henry and his inanimate charge within reach from the shore than she despatched Fraser for his father's wagon, charging him at the same time to give orders for a warm bed to be prepared; and as soon as she saw Rawley laid in the carriage, and Longridge prepared to walk by his side, she hastened home to beg her mother would go and see all the most likely means used for restoring suspended animation. Her next object was to care for the poor boy, whose accident hod been the cause of her having been so opportunely in the way to render assistance to those whose more immediate danger had caused the poor boy for the time to be forgotten. She had seen the shanty fall whilst watching the rapid swell of the river from her chamber window, and ever ready to render aid where it was required, had run immediately to the river-side, where she was shortly after followed by Dr. Rawley. But all these various duties accomplished, poor Angelica began to feel her own weakness, and throwing herself upon a sofa she gave vent to a violent flood of tears. And who is there that will not sympathize with that young girl as she sat taking a mournful review of the character of the man she had loved from early childhood, and whose life she had just been so active an agent in preserving 1 She thought of his warm, generous heart; of his gay and happy temper, whioh, when unperverted by his besetting sin, seemed to be enlivened by a perpetual sunshine; of his clear and lucid mind, quick at receiving an idea, and possessing the happy art of imparting it in such a manner as to give distinctness to obscurity, and additional brilliancy to that which was already bright. Then she thought of his handsome face and graceful form, of his liberal fortune, which gave him so much power of doing good; and when she contrasted all these great and enviable qualities with the confirmed drunkard, the staggering and furious inebriate, that she had seen that morning, bent upon taking the life of a fellow-creature, and ready to stake his own, and to appear in the midst of his sins before his offended God, a cold shiver ran through her frame, and whilst she wept for the loss of the idol she had so long worshipped, her heart swelled in thankfulness at the thought that she was saved from the ruin that inevitably
awaited him. Then again her mind turned to
| the recollection of the fearlessness with which he had plunged into the raging torrent to rescue Rawley, and make some amends for his own injustice; and the sweet hope stole into her heart that he might perhaps, in the sad adventures of the morning, have received a lesson that would banish the destructive demon from his bosom. She never for a moment entertained the idea of again involving her own fate with his, but she prayed, most fervently prayed, that in him might be exemplified the justice of the advice of Thomas ii Kempis, who says, "When any one, after being warned once or twice, will not correct himself, do not contend with him, but commend him to God, because he knows very well how to turn the wicked to goodness."
Lono and anxiously did our heroine wait for the message that her mother promised to send her if she saw any signs of returning life in the young physician. At length Caroline came to say that he had recovered his consciousness, though exceedingly weak and exhausted from the loss of blood; for it was found that the piece of timber by which he had been struck had inflicted a dangerous contusion in the head, and he now lay in a state of such extreme prostration, that the neighbouring doctor, for whom her brother had immediately gone, seemed exceedingly doubtful of his recovery. "Nobody has the cause for anxiety on the subject that I have," said Caroline, as Angelica, after hearing her report, expressed her solicitude for the life of one whom they all so highly esteemed; "for, should anything happen him, I must ever consider myself the cause of it. Oh, what I would give at this moment if I had never written that hateful letter."
"Anonymous communications are, I believe, invariably bad," said Angelica. "Indeed, the very circumstance of their being anonymous implies a consciousness of there being something amiss in the act. And was there not a little inconsistency, dear Caroline," added the gentle girl with great mildness, "in your taking so much pains, after having written that letter, to persuade me I was wrong in breaking off my engagement with Henry?"
A deep tinge of shame suffused the cheeks of her who was thus addressed, and she remained silent for some moments, as if at a loss what reply to make. At length she recovered her presence of mind so far as to say, "You may well imagine, Angelica, that when I heard from Jim of Harry's having resumed his former habits, I was alarmed at the idea of