Page images

when he had traced these lines; but what guilt ana torture were the sad inmates of his bosom now ! He felt the justice of Trueman's reproaches, and at length resolved,--dreadful as that resolution wasto impart to him the secret of his guilt and shame, and to seek consolation and relief from his friendship. He was hastening in search of Walter, when his progress was arrested by the appearance of his offended master,—who, for the first time, looked sternly upon him : but his anger was disarmed by the sorrow of Barnwell's countenance, and he spoke to him with mildness, forbearing all reproach. Barnwell at once threw himself at his master's feet, and, with repentant tears, begged him to hear his confession of the misdemeanor he had committed ; but Thorowgood refused to listen, and telling him" he felt assured that whatever was the error he had committed, it would never be again repeated,” he raised him from the ground and tenderly pressed his hand.


Barnwell entreated he would hear him,—that his heart was breaking, and that he could not be at peace under the idea of having deceived so good a master!

“Excellent young man—(replied Thorowgood)this remorse endears you more than ever to my

[ocr errors]

heart : be at peace-be assured of my forgivenesswhatever may


your fault, of this I am certain, it was harder for you to offend, than it is for me to pardon.”

Barnwell was so deeply affected by his master's kindness, that he determined to break the chain of infatuation which had so suddenly encircled him ; and though he could not redeem what was past, he could avoid a repetition of his former crime. Alas! this resolution was quickly overpowered by new temptation temptation not to be resisted ! Destruction awaited him—sorrow and infamy hovered round, and left him without the power of escape !

This awful revolution in a mind so virtuous, and till now so happy, was occasioned by the influence of an artsul woman! Millwood, a young lady of good family, had been, at a very early age, seduced by a villain, who by specious arts, first won her affections, then lured her from virtue, and afterwards betrayed her to shame. The delusion he had spread around her, was speedily dissipated; she awoke as rom a trance-awoke to a full sense of degradation, and to a conviction of her hopeless situation. Millwood was the orphan daughter of an officer, who had lost his life in his country's cause, leaving his helpless infant to the protection of a relative, one who, proud' of prosperity, regarded not the sacred claims of kindred; giving her a home it is true, but that home was destitute of every comfort. Millwood knew not a father's protecting care-a mother's fond endearments. She felt herself an object of charity, and her proud heart spurned at the idea; her education was neglected, her days of infancy were clouded by present sorrow, and apprehension for the future Her sensibility frequently wounded by the pride, and harshness of her unfeeling aunt, she would seek society among the servants,—whose companion she became from choice. One amongst them was a

woman of depraved morals—who fed her vanity by idle praises, repeated encomiums on her beauty, urged the admiration she would excite, when she grew up-frequently told her she was born to a carriage, an appendage of greatness she attached such importance to, that the manner by which it might be obtained, was of little consequence. The mind of the poor orphan became vitiated by degrees, nor was she aware how far her morals were tainted, till fatally convinced by her fall from virtue. Her heart exquisitely affectionate,-unguarded by any tie of nature, by any claim of friendship, was easily open to the artsul blandishments of love, which soon lulled her bewildered senses ! Too

many unfortunate females are placed in a situation similar to that of Millwood. When the snares of the wily seducer have lured them from their home to partake of the fleeting pleasures which vice prepares—the delirium passes for a time; but soon reflection, bitter agonizing reflection, in the form of self reproach, steals in, and blights cach dawning joy But whạt eye will shed a tear-what bosom heave a sigh-what hand be extended to succour—what hospitable door be opened to receive the midnight wanderers ? The tear of anguish is shed in secret; the groan of repentance is uttered without the power of amendment; and when the vile betrayers of their innocence, grown weary of their

charms, desert and abandon them—what remains ? Infamy or death!!! Oh! gracious God! what an alternative What youthful eye ever yet beheld the grave yawning to devour, that did not shrink from its cold cmbrace ? Whoever yet felt the approach of famine, that did not strive to avert its dreadful effects--that did not cling to existence, even though its portion was misery? Behold them, now, like the gaudy tulip, decorated in various hues to attract the eye ! but all within is sorrow and reproach. They bloom awhile

in borrowed gaiety, then droop and wither, like the vernal blossom, whose leaves are scattered ere the summer's sun has shed one ray upon its sweetness.


Such was the dreadful situation of the

young beautiful Millwood. Forlorn, destitute, and friendless, she sought an asylum in the retreats of infamy, where the distaste she had already conceived for her fellow beings amounted to hatred; her haughty soul disdained the trammels of dependence ; and she resolved to be the arbitress of her own fate. Having attracted the attention and regard of a rich old dotard, she fled from the infamous woman with whom she had resided, then playing upon his weakness, prevailed upon him to furnish her a handsome house, and while under this old gentleman's protection, she assiduously applied to almost every species of accomplishment, in order to render herself more attractive. Her naturally strong capacity, aided by her desire of revenge upon the unprincipled tyrant man, hastened her progress; and the lovely but uninformed girl, who at sixteen years of age was lured from her home, was at seven and twenty, ripened into an elegant, beautiful, and attractive woman,sensible, intelligent, well informed, and highly ac- i complished ; a fatal acquaintance for youth, and even a dangerous one for those of maturer years, many of whom had already become the dupes of her artful blandishments. But their sorrows were her triumphs; for, deeply injured herself, she imagined that her dreadful retribution upon the innocent as well as the guilty was just and praiseworthy, and that she was thus justifiably avenging the wrongs of

In the solitude of her chamber, she contemplated her charms with gloomy satisfaction, as the web wherewith to ensnare mankind, and in reprobation of perfidy would exultingly exclaim, “Oh man! man ! thou false and perfidious ! have we no

her sex.

cause to curse-how do you treat our feeble sex, to whom your every earthly felicity is owing !

Women! by whom you are, the source of joy
With cruel arts you labour to destroy :
A thousand ways our ruin you pursue,
You blame in us, those arts first taught by you !
Oh, may from hence each violated maid,
By flattering, faithless, barbarous man betray'd,
When robb’d of innocence and virgin fame,

destruction raise a nobler name;
To avenge their sex's wrongs devote their mind;

And future Millwoods prove to plague mankind. * Thus led on by an impulse of revenge, and the mistaken idea of justice for the general wrongs of her sex, she stifled every reproach of conscience ; and free from any check upon her daring spirit, followed her system of destruction, without reluctance or control.

An unfortunate hour threw George Barnwell under her observation. She learned from her spies, that he was entrusted with considerable sums of nioney in the service of Mr. Thorowgood; and also that he had a rich uncle. Here was a tempting bait, young- -handsome-virtuous-innocent !

What a sacrifice to offer at the shrine of vengeance ! Having laid her plans, she immediately began her operations. Meeting him in the street, she stopped, and gazing at him

with great earnestness, apologized for her freedom, and inquired his name; he blushed, and with great modesty replied, that his name was George Barnwell. She hesitated, sighed, appeared confused, and again apologizing for her freedom, informed him, that she had long wished to see him, having something of great importance and secrecy to communicate, at a proper time and place : he regretted that he could not with propriety invite her to the house of his master, if her business was of a secret nature ; but if she would appoint any place of public resort, he would meet her without fail Mill

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »