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Is warned by the Doctor,
desert Mrs. Brereton, they addressed her in a style of easy and almost impertinent familiarity she had never experienced before, and she went home dull and dispirited.
The next morning Major Brereton went to London on business for a few days. While Mrs. Brereton was taking her breakfast, her friend the Doctor was announced. His mind seemed labour. ing with something he knew not how to give utterance to. Mrs. Brereton was his friend and confidente; his own story was deeply interesting, and she had wept at its recital with him; for this “ laughter-loving dame” could weep, and tenderly feel for others.
Anxiety and scrutiny were painted in his feeling eyes; his cheek was palid, and his oft-begun sentences trembled on his tongue, fearful of inflicting the wound, he knew they must give.
and attacked by Calumny.
Mrs. Brereton rallied him on his want of spirits; but at last she appeared to catch the infectious anxiety, and eagerly asked him, what was the matter?
He then, without farther reserve, unfolded a scene of calumny to her astonished hearing, which deprived her for ever of the countenance of the Marchioness of Adingbroke, which drew the character of Mrs. Brereton in the most odious light, as the worst of wives, and the most licentious of women ; and had solemnly asserted, as facts of her abandoned conduct, what had never been in existence. But some bore this testimony of their truth, that she could not deny having walked at such an hour, and in such a place, with one officer; or at a very late hour in the evening, during a sultry summer, with another ...., That the same vain unprincipled men have sneered when they were accused, and with a knowing laugh have declared, they were too much
Falls in a Swoon.
men of honour to betray any lady's secrets, or the confidence she might be pleased to honour them with.
The Doctor almost repented of acquainting Mrs. Brereton with these cruel attacks upon her fame; the effect the knowledge of them had upon her mind caused her a violent hysteric fit.- The Doctor carried her to her chamber, soothed her, stayed with her till she recovered, and pressed her to his bosom with fatherly tenderness, as he parted from her, unseeing as unheeding the maid servant, who just entered the apartment. Her hysteric shrieks of laughter, her faintings, the Doctor's friendly adieu, reached the ears of the neighbours. Her husband was absent—the Doctor was an elegant, good looking man, in the prime of life ... The calumny levelled against her increased, and Lady Ading broke told her medical friend, she was very sorry that he had added to the number of those who had
She sets her Error.
fallen victims to the fascinations of Major Brereton's immodest wife.
How little did she deserve such a cruel epithet ! Her mind, as well as her person, was pure, and uncontaminated. The unmerited slander which attacked her, had a mournful effect on her health and spirits. She investigated her own conduct, but so free did she find it from intentional blame, that it never once occurred to her as the cause.
Major Brereton, on his arrival from London, found her changed : Oh! how changed !..... She had no idea of the mischief which might ensue, but thoughtlessly told him all! His heart, wrapped up in her, and knowing her innocence, he comforted and urged her, improperly, to set her enemies at defiance, by launching again into her former gaieties. — “ Never," replied she; “if the world again shall
Her Husband's generous behaviour
choose to countenance me, I will not put it in their power to say, that I am slandered on account of my own giddy bchaviour.”_" Why," said the Major, “ I have heard as much of you in London as would fill a small volume : But my busy secret-telling friends are all withheld, by pretended honour, from giving up their authors.”_" Say, does my dear Laura Pemberton," asked Mrs. Brereton, “ does she too follow the multitude ?" “ Oh! never,” said the Major; “ do not so wrong her : she, like me, knows the innate purity of your heart, and that, even your ardent imagination cannot lead you to guilt.”
However, after a little time, Mrs. Biereton, by the prudence of her conduct, by the extended knowledge of her high connexions, found her society again flattered and courted, but it was but for a short period. When once a female cha