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manners had acquired the esteem of the countefs, and the unbounded confidence of her lord. He had obtained a firm footing in the family; had fown the baleful germ of fufpicion, fo fatal to domeftic peace; and the difpleafure and gloom which occafionally pervaded lord Monteith's countenance convinced him that it had taken root. Calumny was prepared to doubt the ftability of Geraldine's honour; and Calumny, like a peftilential blaft, can taint the innocence it affails. To these engines of feduction might be added the fophiftical principles of false philofophy; which, though cautiously administered and often rejected, ftill, like the delved mine, poffefs a power capable of fubverting the firmest moral virtue, if not founded on the rock of religion. Yet Fitzofborne was wretched. The atrocity of his defigns haunted his pillow,
not with a sense of remorfe, but with the apprehenfion of danger. The fituation of the lady was exalted; her character was exemplary; her connexions were refpectable; her husband, as he had lately discovered, was not only tenacious of her reputation, and vain of her attractions, but alfo confcious of her merits, and fincerely attached to her perfon. Though the earl's apprehenfion was peculiarly flow, his paffions were as remarkably vehement; and his skill at the various offenfive weapons was fo great, that his opponent could have very little chance of escaping with life, if called to make the amende bonorable. Fitzofborne's fortunes were almoft desperate. Worldly prudence feemed, therefore, to point out the neceffity of applying his ingenuity in devifing fome plan of improving his circumstances, inftead of wafting his talents in a pursuit
which only promifed danger, or, to Speak according to his ideas," barren
Notwithstanding the appearance of open hoftility, he held a private correfpondence with the viscount's family; and his intelligence from thence confirmed his own opinion, that the breach with lady Arabella was not totally irreparable. Her vexation at his attention to lady Monteith was too lively to be concealed, and too fincere to yield to the hopes which the noble duke's increafing admiration infpired. In vain did the recollect detecting him incognito at the theatre, looking at her through his opera-glass. In vain did the remember her more fplendid triumph, when he prefented her with a ticket for lady Fillagree's fancied ball, infcribed "To the faireft." Fitzofborne faw his affiduiries without emotion. The noble duke's
duke's fentiments were known to be inaufpicious to marriage; and no lady, who had not abfolutely determined to be a duchefs, could even affect to find fatisfaction in his converfation.
Fitzofborne poifed the chance of lucrative advantage with precifion; and, as he had no inclination for fleeping in the bed of honour, he bestowed fome forethought on the hazards he ran by purfuing his illicit defigns against the lovely countefs. Since he deemed his fuccefs certain, it was unneceffary to examine the effect of a difappointment. Great prudence, great caution, and great morality, might prevent a rencontre. He might be unwilling to lift his arm against the life of his friend; he might respect the laws of his country; or his health might impofe the neceffity of a tour for its reftoration. The last step would be the most convenient, in case lord
lord Monteith applied for legal damages, fince, however large the fum given by the verdict, abfence and incapacity would be a receipt in full. The next step of the injured husband must be a divorce, and the deferted lady could not then object to taking refuge in a fecond marriage, which was the only chance of reftoring her again to the world, if not with untainted, at leaft with a convalefcent character. Geraldine was an heiress, and it was to be fuppofed that her fettlements were made with proper precaution. Even as a wife fhe was infinitely more defirable than Arabella; and, though the illiberality of husbands might wish to fecure their domeftic poffeffions by an impaffable inclosure, modern fpirit had proved itself able to furmount every fence; and the lady might give away herfelf and her property feveral times over, without calling upon death