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3'oung and romantic, I should most assuredly have fallen in love on the instant, as she stooped over the balcony, with a most enchanting air, smiling and kissing her hand to the baby, whom his nurse, at that moment, carried out of the hall door for an early walk in the park.
Presently she was joined by her sister, whom I shall call Lady .Seymour, and who evidently came to summon her to breakfast. She appeared about twenty-five or twenty-six years old : pale, interesting, and beautiful; had a mild and pensive, I almost thought a melancholy look, and seemed very quiet and gentle in all her movements. I should have been inclined to fall in love with her too, if she had not been a married woman, and I had not seen Ellen first; but Ellen was by far the more beautiful of the two fair sisters—the most striking, the most animated, and I always admired animation, for it argues inquiry, and from inquiry springs knowledge. The ladies lingered, and stooped down to inhale the fragrance of their flowers, until Sir Charles appeared to summon them, and the whole trio descended to breakfast, Lady Seymour leaning on the arm of her husband, and Ellen skipping down before them. Sir Charles was very handsome, very tall, and very dignified looking. Nothing could be more promising than the appearance of the whole party. I was delighted with the prospect; no more gaping over newspapers; adieu ennui, here was food for reflection. My mind was now both actively and usefully employed, and a transition fromidleness to useful occupation is indeed a blessing.
Days flew on, and I gradually gathered much important and curious information. The Seymours had many visitors; a vast proportion of coroneted carriages among them; went regularly to the opera. I could not make out who was Ellen's harp-master; but Crivelli taught her singing, from which I argued their good taste. She went out to evening parties; I concluded, therefore, that she had only just come out, and was still pursuing her education. A green britska and chariot were in requisition for both ladies, as the day was fine or otherwise: a dark cab with a green page attended Sir Charles on some days, on others he rode a bay horse with black legs and a star on his forehead. With respect to the general habits of the family, they were early risers, and dined at eight o'clock. The beautiful baby was the pet of both ladies, and lived chiefly in the drawing-room; and I observed that Ellen frequently accompanied him and his nurse in their early walks, attended by a footman.
The Seymours occupied the whole of my time; I gave up all parties for the present, on the score of business, and I assure you it was quite as much as one person could do conveniently to look to them. From discoveries I made, the family speedily became very intertfctt
ing to me, I may say painfully interesting. Now, I am not at all given to romance or high-flying notions, seeing that 1 am but seldom known to invent anything; what I am about to relate, may safely be relied on as the result of an accurate though painful investigation.
Before communicating these discoveries to my readers, I pause, even on the threshold. I have endeavoured to bespeak their interests for the fair Ellen, as I felt a deep one for her myself,—but —truth must out,— it is my duty.
From the first day of the arrival of the Seymours, as I shall continue to designate them, I had been struck by the evident dejection of Lady Seymour. I frequently observed her, when alone, bury her face in her hands, as she leant upon a small table beside the couch on which she sat.
The work, or the book, or the pencil—for she drew—was invariably thrown aside when the husband or her young sister quitted the apartment. The fine little baby seemed her greatest pleasure. He was a wild, struggling little fellow, full of health and spirits, almost too much for her delicate frame and apparently weak state of health. She could not herself nurse him long together; but I observed that the nurse was very frequently in the room with her, and that the fond mother followed and watched her little darling almost constantly. She was surrounded by luxuries—by wealth. Her husband, in appearance at least, was one whom all women must admire; one of whom a wife might feel proud;—she had a beautiful child;—she was young, lovely, titled. What then could be the cause of this dejection? What could it be? I redoubled my attention: I was the last to retire and the first to rise. I determined to discover this mystery.
One morning I discerned her weeping—weeping bitterly. Her bedroom was in the front of the house; she was walking backwards and forwards between the window and the opened folding-doors, her handkerchief at her eyes. At first I thought she might have the toothache,—not being given, as I before said, to romance;—then I suspected her confinement was about to take place,—but no, that could not be. No Mr Bladgen appeared—his carriage had not even been at her door for more than a week; at which I was rather surprised. She was evidently and decidedly weeping,—I ascertained that beyond a doubt. A flash of light beamed across my mind! I have it I thought I,—perhaps her husband's affections are estranged. Could it be possible? Husbands are wayward things,—I felt glad that I was not a husband.
A kind of disagreeable and tormenting suspicion at that moment strengthened my belief; a suspicion that—how shall I speak it?— perhaps he might love the beautiful Ellen. I tried to banish the idea: but circumstances, lightly passed over before, returned now in crowds to my recollection to confirm me in it. From that moment 1 renewed my observations daily, and with still increased vigilance, and was obliged to come to the painful conclusion, that my suspicions were not only but too well founded with regard to Sir Charles, but that Ellen returned his passion. Yes, she was romantically in love with the husband of her sister \ I seldom find myself wrong in my opinions, yet, in this case, I would willingly have given five hundred pounds to feel sure that I was in error. Such was the interest with which the extreme beauty, the vivacity and grace of the youthful Ellen had inspired me. Here then was food for philosophy as well as reflection. Who shall say that inquirers are impertinent, when such facts as these can be elicited? Had it not been for me—such is the apathy of people about what does not concern them—a base husband, and an artful intriguing sister, might still have maintained a fair face to the world; but I was determined to cut the matter short, and open the eyes of the deluded wife as to the real extent of her injury. Honour compelled me to it Let not the reader think me rash,—I will explain the circumstances which influenced my conviction. Oh, Ellen! how have I been deceived in thee! How hast thou betrayed a too susceptible heart.
Sir Charles was an M. P., which my ingenuity in setting together hours and facts enabled me to make sure of. He frequently returned late from the debates in the house. The weather grew warm, and the shutters were always left open till the family retired for the night. Their lamps were brilliant, and I could discern the fair Ellen peeping over the balustrades of the staircase, and lingering and waiting on the landing place, evidently on the look-out for an anxiously expected arrival. Then the cab of Sir Charles would stop at the door—his well-known knock would be heard, and Ellen would fly with the lightness of a fairy to meet him as he ascended the stairs. He would then fold her in his arms, and they would enter the drawing-room together; yet, before they did so, five or ten minutes' lelch-iete frequently took place on the landing, and the arm of Sir Charles was constantly withdrawn from the waist of Ellen, before they opened the drawing-room door and appeared in the presence of the poor neglected wife, whom he greeted with no embrace, as he took his seat beside her on the sofa.
For some time I set down the empressments of Ellen to meet Sir Charles as that of a lively and affectionate girl to greet her sister's husband, in the manner she would receive her own brother. I was soon obliged to think differently.
When Ellen played on the harp, which she did almost daily, Sir M ,-S
Charles would stand listening beside her, and would frequently imprint a kiss on her beautiful brow, gently lifting aside the curls which covered it: but this never took place when Lady Seymour was in the room—mark that—no, not in a single instance. Sir Charles sometimes sat reading in a chair near the drawing-room window, and would, as Ellen passed him, fondly draw her towards him and hold her hands, while he appeared to converse with her in the most animated manner. If the door opened, and the poor wife came in, the hands were instantly released.
As the spring advanced, the appearance of Lady Seymour, and more frequent visits of Mr Blagden, led me to suppose her confinement drew near; she became later in rising in the morning, and Sir Charles and Ellen almost constantly took a very early tete-a-tete walk in the park, from which they usually returned long before Lady Seymour made her appearance in the drawing-room.
A very handsome man, with a viscount's coronet on his cab, was a frequent visitor in Upper Brook Street. I doubted not but that he was an admirer of and suitor to the fair Ellen. Yet she slighted him; he was entirely indifferent to her: otherwise why did sheoften leave the drawing-room during his very long morning visits, and sit reading in the window of a room up stairs, or playing with the baby in the nursery, leaving her sister to entertain him? The reason was too evident; cruel and heartless Ellen! My heart bled more and more for the poor wife; I absolutely began to hate Ellen.
At length, closed bedroom shutters, hurry and bustle, cart-loads of straw, and the galloping chariot of Mr Blagden, announced the accouchement of Lady Seymour. All seemed happily over before the house was closed for the night.
Sir Charles and Ellen were in the drawing-room together. The lady's maid rushed into the apartment; I almost fancied that I heard her exclaim, " My lady is safe, and a fine boy." So well did the de. ceitful Ellen act her joy, she clasped her hands together, and then, in the apparent delight of her heart, shook hands with the maid, who left the room directly. My heart was relenting towards her, as she was flying to follow the woman, no doubt with the intention of hastening to the bedside of her sister; but no—she returned to tenderly embrace Sir Charles before she quitted the drawing-room. At such a time too! Oh, faithless and cruel Ellen!
Sir Charles and Ellen were now more frequently together—more in love than ever. They sang together, read together, walked together, played with the little boy together, and nursed the new little baby in turns.
In due course of time poor Lady Seymour recovered, and resumed her station in the drawing-room, and then Sir Charles was less frequently at home. I was furious at him as well as at Ellen. All my tender compassion and interest centred in the unhappy and neglected wife.
One other instance in corroboration of the justness of my suspicions I will relate. A miniature painter, whom I knew by sight, came early every morning to the house. Sir Charles was sitting for his picture. One morning, when I concluded it must be nearly finished, Sir Charles and the artist left the house together. I saw the picture lying on the table near the window, in the same spot where the artist had been working at it for nearly two hours before, while Sir Charles was sitting to him. I had not for a moment lost sight of it, and am ready to affirm upon oath, that the miniature was the likeness of Sir Charles, and of no one else; for you must know that I have a small pocket telescope by which I can detect these nice points accurately. Well,—Miss Ellen came into the room;—she was alone;—she walked up to the picture, gazed on it for a long while, and—will it be believed ?—pressed it several times to her lips and then to her heart!—Yes, I am quite sure she pressed it to her heart; no one can deceive me in that particular. She did not indeed think or guess that any eye observed her;—but oh! Ellen, there was an eye over you that never slumbered, at least very seldom. Things had thus arrived at such a pass, that concealment on my part would have been criminal.—My duty was clear,—an instant exposure, without regard to the feelings of any one. But how could it be accomplished without personal danger. Sir Charles was a shot. I had seen a case of pistols arrive from John Marton and Son, Dover Street; besides, he was big enough to eat me, so that putting myself forward was out of the question. I had it—I would write to the Times and the True Sun, under the signature of " a Friend to Morality." That very night I condensed these notes into three columns, as I said to the editor, not to occupy too great a space in his valuable journal; and early on the following morning I arose to despatch my letters, when, what should greet my astonished senses, but, at the door of the Seymours, their travelling carriage with four post horses! What could it mean? I had seen no signs of packing; no trunks, or waggons! What could it mean? I stood perfectly aghast; my eyes were fixed intently upon the carriage.—Oh! I had it again, my wits never fail me—the murder was out. 1 need not write to the Times. Miss Ellen was discovered, and going to be sent oft' to school, or perhaps to " dull aunts and croaking rooks "in the country! I was glad to be spared the pain of forwarding the explanation; and yet—Good heavens! what was my surprise and profound mystification when Sir Charles appeared, handing in, first Lady Seymour, a beautiful flush on her countenance, radiant with smiles, and almost as quick