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as well as ever. Life would recover its wonted tone, and I should enjoy myself as well as I had done before. I had no peace to make with God, and no judgment from him to apprehend. I was humbled indeed, but not before God. I was only humbled in my own eyes, before myself. But by my correct future behaviour I could recover my self-respect. I was not too old to marry, and, although averse to binding myself in the chains of wedlock, yet I felt I could consent to marry Katharine Howard, and also that I ought to do so in order to make her a proper reparation for the injustice I had done. In other respects I would be more circumspect, and would take pains to find out and relieve distress. All this passed through my mind in a few moments, and I found my
cheerfulness returning. Mr. Middleton was invited to stay to dinner; a few other friends dropping in at the dinner hour, we made up a gay and brilliant party; and I forgot or was ashamed to remember the folly I had enacted the previous night.
Dinner over and the guests dispersed, I retired to meditate some plan for discovering the retreat of Katharine, and commencing my proposed reforms. But it was no easy matter to hit upon a feasible plan, for I had not the least clue to her probable place of residence. The old man knew where she was, but nobody knew or could guess where he himself was to be found; many had seen him, but no one knew his residence. He would suddenly present himself before you, without your knowing whence he came, and as suddenly disappear without your being able to say whither he went. Yet he must be found, and could not be found till he chose to appear. Nothing could be done, then, till he made his appearance.
I gave orders to my servants, if they caught sight of him, to watch him, and not lose sight of him till they discovered his lodgings, confident that, if I could meet him again, I could induce him to disclose to me Katharine's place of concealment. These orders given I had nothing to do but to wait patiently till I could obtain a meeting with the old man.
But I had to wait many weeks, and even months, before the old man came again. This waiting was no pleasant affair, but I managed it as well as I could. The resolution I had taken, and which I was fully determined to keep, had calmed my conscience, and I could join without much distraction in my usual pleasures and pursuits. My brow was as serene as ever, my smile as gracious, and my heart for the most part of the time tolerably quiet. I recalled my old philosophy, and fancied I had been too hasty in rejecting it. Why did I suffer myself
to be cheated out of my senses by an old man's scruples, or to be disturbed by a foolish passion. She was a sweet girl, and perhaps loved me, but she was, like all her sex, artful, and sought but to take advantage of my love for her to triumph over
These women are never to be trusted. They are always seeking to ensnare our affections merely to gratify their own vanity, for their own caprice, ambition, or interest. They are well enough in their proper place, but woe to the man who suffers them to wind around his heart. He may well envy Laocoon in the foul embrace of the serpents.
Time wore on, and I was fast recovering my former equanimity and carelessness, when I chanced to form a new acquaintance which came very near putting Katharine out of my head. This acquaintance was in its first stages, sufficiently familiar to be pleasant and attractive, and not sufficiently intimate to make its loss severely felt, when suddenly my old friend or enemy as yet I knew not which — appeared before me, with a wrath
I ful countenance, and an eye flashing the most cutting reproof.
“ADMIRABLE young man!” said he, after gazing at me with a most withering look for some moments.
« Admirable young man!” said he, in a tone of cutting irony. « How sincerely you repent, and how firmly you adhere to your pious resolutions ! You have repaired the wrong you have done, and made your peace with God, I presume. You have washed your heart clean, become a new man, and are prepared to commence a new career.
“Old man, do not reprove me too severely. I have resolved, and I will keep my resolution. Tell me where is Katharine Howard ? "
“ Wherefore ? What is she to you, and what would you with her ?"
“ Make honorable reparation for the wrong I have done her."
" How ?”
“ Yourself! And I presume you have not even doubted of your acceptableness ?” 66 Not at all.
She loves me, and she cannot doubt my love to her. Its violence was a proof of its warmth and sincerity.
And I do not apprehend that I am a man likely to be rejected as a husband, even though I might be as a lover.”
“ Then you are really willing to offer yourself in marriage to Katharine Howard, and you do not doubt that she will accept you
“Let me see her, and I will make the offer, and you shall see whether it will be rejected or not."
66 Go with me and you shall see her.” 16 Where is she ?"
“ Not far off. Half an hour's ride will bring us to the house where she has resided ever since
“No matter when. But has she really been so near me all this time, and I have not suspected it ? ”
“There are many things, young man, close to us, which we dream not of, and the good we are seeking abroad is always under our eyes did we but know it. But come with me, and you shall see the young lady herself, that is, in case she will consent to see you."
About half an hour's drive brought us to an old-fashioned house, buried in a grove, and which I had supposed to be untenanted. It had formerly belonged to my own estate, but had been sold for some purpose by my predecessor, and, as it was not in the direction of iny usual drives, I had paid little attention to it, and had never thought of inquiring whether it was inhabited or not. We entered, and the old man led me into a small, plainly, but neatly furnished parlour, and commanded me to be seated. I obeyed, and he left me alone. I expected him to return in a moment with Katharine. But time passed, a full hour passed, and no one entered, and no sound of human voice or footstep was heard. My patience began to give way, and I felt the old man was playing me a trick. This waiting a full hour in suspense, and especially to see one to whom you have come to make a proposal of marriage, is no pleasant affair, and makes one half envy St. Laurence broiling on the gridiron. But all things are destined to have an end. The old man at length returned followed by Katharine herself. I had never seen her so beautiful. Neatly and simply dressed, but with exquisite taste, so as to set off her fine figure in all its fulness, grace, and dignity. Her countenance was mild and serene, her expression cheerful. “She has not suffered," said I, and, for the first time, a doubt flashed across my mind, whether, after all
, my proposal would be so acceptable as I at first imagined. But diffidence was not one of my faults, and the doubt vanished as quickly as it came.
“Katharine,” said the old man, “I introduce you to Mr. Edward Morton, whom perhaps you may remember having once
“O Katharine," I exclaimed, rising and rushing towards her to fall on my knees at her feet, “God be thanked. you again.”
"Be seated, Mr. Morton,” replied she, in a quiet, commanding tone, which I dared not disobey. I did not kneel, but returned to the couch on which I had been sitting, abashed, and awed into my own insignificance. She turned to her protector, “Leave us alone, my more than father,” she said ; "you can rely on your daughter, and I have that to say to Mr. Morton which I would not pain him by having a third person hear.” The old man went out, and Katharine took a seat quite near but opposite me. She looked at me silently for a few moments ; for an instant her color changed, and there seemed to be passing a struggle within. It was but for an instant, and her calm, serene, and almost cheerful look returned.
“Mr. Morton,” at length she broke silence by saying, “why have you sought me, and what pleasure could you expect it would give either of us for you to be here? What is your wish?"
The quiet and half business-like tone in which this was spoken nearly disconcerted me; but I remembered the passing change of color, and replied, “Katharine, I have come to atone for my past baseness, and to begin the amendment of my life by asking your forgiveness.”
“I bave forgiven you, Mr. Morton; and hope you will not delay a moment to ask forgiveness of Him whom you have offended more than you have me. Do you wish any thing else of me?"
“Yes, Katharine, yes. You once loved me, you owned it to me. I loved you, as you well know.” “How did you manifest your love to me?”
? “But you have forgiven me. You have just assured me of your forgiveness. If you have forgiven me, you can love me, and do love me still. I am a better man than I was. I come to assure you of my repentance, that I bitterly repent the wrong I have done.
But no great harm has been done. My heart is yours, and I come to beg you to accept it, and my hand with it.”
“A fair proposal, Mr. Morton,” said she, in a tone of most exquisite sweetness, and one which, had it been made one year ago, I frankly assure you would not have been rejected.
I should have thanked you for it, and have modestly but joyfully accepted it.”
16 And why not now ?” " IT IS TOO LATE."
“O, say not so. You are not married ?” said I, a terrible suspicion crossing my mind.
“No, not yet.
“ No ; and to relieve you on this point, for I see it troubles you, I have no prospect of being, and no wish to be, unless it be to heaven."
“Why, then, say it is too late ?"
“ Because, Mr. Morton, I am better acquainted with you than I was.
You were the son of my father's spiritual director and most honored friend. You were the idol of my young dreams, and almost from my cradle I was taught to love and reverence you.
Your kindness to the orphan, and the provision you made for my education, the tenderness you showed
and the fatherly care you took of me, bound me to you by the strong tie of gratitude. I grew up for you ; I sought to accomplish myself for you ; I lived for you, and for you only. All my future clustered around you, and even heaven itself, it seemed, would be no heaven to me unless shared with you. This was sinful idolatry. I knew it, even then, but I said to myself, I would rather be damned with Mr. Morton, than to go to heaven without him. It was so I loved you. In an evil hour, you sought to abuse my love and my confidence. You revealed to me in a word your real character. I saw the foulness of your principles and the hollowness of your heart. And I knew I had loved the demon in the guise of an angel of light. You are now, in reality, what you were then ; and can I bind
my fate to yours, or aggravate your doom so much as to aid you in ever calling any decent woman your wife ? »
“I know, Katharine, I was wrong, that I was base ; but passion carries us sometimes beyond ourselves, and I would not in my sober moments do what I would have done in that evil hour. I heartily repent of the wrong I did, and I will do all I can to atone for it."
“ That is your duty, and gladly would I believe, for your sake, that you are capable of doing it. But as yet you have not repented. You have merely regretted the loss of an instrument of pleasure, a toy, or plaything; and, as for atonement, you are willing if you cannot recover the lost toy in one way to do it in another. In all you are profoundly selfish and