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birds, and blue skies, and light rooms - discovered that there were circumstances which might render a residence in a narrow street not only endurable, but infinitely preferable to any other within the spacious circle of the wide world.
It has been said, that Mary's innocent heart had not yet admitted the consciousness that it could be affected by stronger emotions than those of filial and fraternal tenderness. Her natural refinement had led her to revolt instinctively from the society of young men to whose acquaintance she had been led by her own humble rank. The possibility of becoming the wife of any one of them had never suggested itself to her. She had not looked so far into the future as to anticipate the period when, leaving the protection of her parents, she would preside over a household of her own. Her heart was pure and spotless as at the moment when its first beating indicated that it was instinct with life. But the time had arrived when its dormant tenderness was to be roused into action.
One day a stranger entered the shop, enquiring for a watch ribband. He did not look at the person who was to furnish him with what he required, which distinguished him from the class of young men who, seeing the shop-woman through the window, recollected their want of some trifle which would afford them a nearer and longer view of her. The white hands of Mary first attracted the attention of the purchaser in this instance, and he threw a scrutinizing glance over her whole person. She blushed at his evident examination of her, and that embarrassment augmented, the softness of her delicate, feminine beauty. He affected to depreciate the value of the article he selected, but at length deposited a coin for it without waiting for the change, bowed, and departed.
To Mary, whose life was seldom marked by any incident, this variation of its monotony, was scarcely disagreeable. The manner of the visitor had no touch of impertinence; it was evidently the result of uncontrollable admiration. Mary had enough of the usual feeling of her sex to enjoy this species of homage, and not the less because he who paid it, had the address and exterior of a gentleman. He was a very handsome man, his age certainly not exceeding thirty; altogether the impression he had left on Mary's memory was of that kind which one endeavours to retain; nevertheless, it would probably in time have passed away with the stream of trifles to be forgotten, if the visit had not been repeated.
At the same hour on the ensuing day, he appeared again at the counter, and asked for a larger quantity of the same ribband. Mary's embarrassment was considerably greater than before, his apparent attention to her, less. To some remark he made on the weather, Mary returned a laconic common-place; his next effort was admiration of some articles with which the win. dow was decorated. Though her reply was short, it was collected, and a ten minutes' chat ensued ;—with a repetition of the bow and the glance of yesterday, the visitor departed.
We need not minutely record how each succeeding visit increased in deviation, and how listless Mary was,-how unhappy,-how anxious,-if, by any accident, that visit was omitted. It has been already remarked that Mary had great refinement of mind; she was consequently the more attracted by the courteous manners of Mr. Pemberton, and by the polished style of his conversation ; and her nice ear soon distinguished his vast superiority to the uncultivated people by whom she was generally surrounded. Young, inexperienced, artless, so little acquainted with society as to see no insuperable obstacle to her happiness in those conventional distinctions which exist in it, she unconsciously surrendered her dearest affections to a man of whose real rank she was perfectly ignorant, and of whose real designs she had not caution enough even to think it necessary to form any judgment. The littie vessel of her happiness was in her own pilotage, and she was in a sea of whose tides she was ignorant, unskilful in her steerage, and incompetent to turn the helm towards the haven of honor and safety.
The observant mother of Mary had noticed Mr. Pemberton's daily visits, and had spoken of them to her husband. He was an upright man, the most striking characteristic of whose mind was its probity. This, combined with his complete ignorance of the world, rendered him very slow in admitting a suspicion of the dishonesty of those with whom he had any intercourse. He was too much inclined to take people upon trust.“ Our Mary is the prettiest girl in the county," said he in answer to his wife's communication; “ to be sure she will marry some of these days, as you and I did. Perhaps this visitor comes in the way of courting her, and the girl is too maidenly to tell us. There can be no harm done, if I just ask him civilly, what is the real meaning of his visits to our shop. If it is only to chat with Mary, probably he will not come again when he finds we take notice of him ; and, if he wants to marry her, my question, you know, will not be amiss."
Mrs. Annerley, according to her undeviating custom, acquiesced in the correctness of her husband's reasoning.
Mary felt somewhat uneasy at her father's persisting in remaining in the shop during the morning. As the usual time of Mr. Pemberton's visit approached, her embarrassment increased, and when she saw him enter, it is questionable whether her confusion did not predominate over the pleasure which the sight of him always occasioned.
When he saw Annerley standing close to his Mary, it was evident that a sensation of painful surprise oppressed Mr. Pemberton. He stood for a few seconds, at the door, as if uncertain whether to advance or retreat. He was not, however, long before he recovered his self-possession, and he came boldly forwards to meet the anticipated attack.
From that day Mr. Pemberton was the avowed and accepted lover of the beautiful Mary. He had satisfied equally the honest, unsuspicious parents, and their blooming child, of his honorable intentions. As a preliminary to her marriage, he requested that Mary might be permitted to withdraw entirely from the shop, because her attendance then was utterly inconsistent with the station to which her union with him would elevate her. Annerley saw the propriety of this suggestion, and Mary consequently had leisure to occupy herself entirely with the prospects that were thus suddenly opening to her, and with efforts at acquiring that polish of mind and manner which her elegant lover was anxious to communicate to her.
That was a blissful period to Mary. She ceased to regret the beauty of her early home when she strolled out in the evening, her arm fast locked in that of Mr. Pemberton, through a country which seemed to her, so accompanied, lovely as the bower of Eden. She thought she never could be sufficiently grateful to him who had brought her so much happiness, and she endeavoured to satisfy her own sense of her debt by lavishing on him the unlimited tenderness of her innocent heart. It was delightful to her to attend to all his wishes, and to conform herself more and more to that Standard which he perpetually pointed out to her as the model of female elegance. She smiled sometimes, in the plenitude of her joy, when she recollected her first grief on becoming the inhabitant of a town ; how blank and cheerless then had every prospect appeared to her ! and yet she was indebted to that unpromising change for her present rare felicity, what an illustration of man's want of comprehension of the present, and of blindness to the future.
Mary found such abundant felicity in the prospect of her approaching union that it was not in the power of any minor circumstances to affect her cheerfulness, otherwise she must have felt severely numberless petty annoyances which daily assailed her. Many young men, many more than usual, frequented the shop for gloves and watch-ribbands, to enquire for the pretty shop woman in a manner that put to the proof the patience even of the meek Annerly. If Mary walked out alone, as sometimes she was compelled to do, she encountered stares and
looks indicative of any sentiment but respect. These vexations were always confided to Mr. Pemberton, who listened to the relation with evident irritation. But he passed them over with an assertion that they were part of the penalty paid by its possessor for superior beauty, if accident had placed her in a humble sphere of life. The simplicity of the Annerley's attributed it to the usual manners of a populous town. Unacquainted with a single individual of their neighbourhood, they had no possibility of obtaining an elucidation more consonant to truth and probability.
Mr. Pemberton was liberal to profusion in his presents to the beautiful girl who was so soon to be his wife. It was natural, Mary thought, that these love gifts should be adapted to his rank of life rather than to hers, he was the best judge of the style of dress proper for her. And then it was such pleasure to try on the caps and bonnets in the evening, which he had sent to her during the day !-He thought all becoming, for she looked lovely in all,- lovelier for the blushes which crimsoned her cheeks as he lavished on her admiration and praises.
One unusually happy evening,—when the time of her marriage drew very near,—Mary was standing opposite the little chimney-glass, trying some millinery, the gift of the admiring lover who stood by her side. His arm familiarly encircled her waist, and the tenderness of his countenance could not be mistaken. Mary felt in the joyousness of her heart, that all her fondest hopes were on the point of realization,—that soon she would be bound to him so much beloved, by the closest and the dearest of all ties. There appeared no cloud upon her horizon to dim the brightness of her spirit ;-she believed no creature upon earth had such cause for happiness as herself ; and this deep feeling purified, whilst it augmented, her tenderness for him who gazed so lovingly upon her in that memorable moment ?
Yes,-it was a memorable moment;—and what meanwhile were his feelings?
The door of that little parlour in which they stood, opened into the shop, but it rarely admitted any individual but their own family. At this happy instant, it was thrown back with a violence that startled Mary, who turned hastily to discover the intruder.
The person was a stranger,-a lady,with face pallid as the dead, — features trembling with emotion,-dark, flashing eyes turning upon Mary and Pemberton alternately, with the rapidity and fierceness of lightning. Pemberton's eye encountered hers, and if Mary had been sufficiently collected to analyze its character, should have read there dismay, rage, shame and disappointment.
Recovering in some degree from the only sensation she had experienced,—that of extreme surprise,-Mary gently inquired what commands she could execute for the lady.
That stranger walked to the place where Mary and her lover were standing ;-she remained between them looking-upon the one and the other with scorn and bitterness. And this is the magnet which draws you from your bome !" she said to Mr. Pemberton ;-" and you are shameless enough," to Mary wrathfully,—“ to encourage in a married man the desertion of his wife and family !"
Mary's head became dizzy: every thing appeared in motion around her. She looked upon the stranger with an eye that implored pity; but she could not admit the whole terrible truth with instantaneous conviction ;-her mind made a strong effort of incredulity. “There must be a mistake," she cried;" this is Mr. Pemberton,—there must be a mistake!" The expression of the lady's eye when she looked upon Mary, was somewhat gentler; but the scorn with which she gazed on Mr. Pemberton was more bitter than before.
Harry Temple,” she said, haughtily, “ explain which of us,this poor, deluded girl, or I, your forsaken wife,—which of us mistakes? Be pleased to announce by what name in after life you choose to be distinguished.”
Pemberton, or rather Temple, threw his arm round the fainting Mary. " By any name," he said furiously," which you do not bear,— by any name which she chooses-any you never utter !-Mary, my love, my bride, look upon me,-hear me swear to leave all for you, the world and its pomps,—my couns try and its ties,—we will live together,,we will not part, dear love, we will not !"
The victim heard-saw-felt-nothing. She lay in his arms all still and motionless as a corpse. She seemed to be dead. The wife of the betrayer looked pityingly upon her.
“ Poor lovely flower,” she said with a voice of compassion," shall thy heart break for the cruelty of that hard man who has blighted thy bloom so foully? Leave us, Temple; I shall remain until her family are summoned; but, if we would preserve her reason, it would be well that she sees neither of us when she revives."
Temple groaned. “I have wronged you both,” said he, “but I loved her deeply; yes, Anne, I tell you, even you, my lawful wife, that I love her to the death, and that, at every risk but for this fatal discovery, in a few days I had married her. Do what you can; I leave her now, but my return will be speedy. Mary, Mary,” he added, pressing her lips with a long, lingering kiss, “ I will come to you again, if the whole world withstood me.” He rushed from the house.