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A YEAR AND A DAY.

CHAPTER I.

" Brutus is an honourable man.”

JULIUS CÆSAR.

LETTER FROM ORLANDO VERE, ESQ. TO SIR GEORGE

MONTGOMERY, BART.

Cologne, Sept. 18. Do you know, Montgomery, I am not pleased with your last letter. You avail yourself of our old friendship to use the privilege of condemning my conduct; and yet that knowledge of my character which our long intimacy ought to have afforded

you

does not exonerate me from suspicions I am almost tempted to resent. For once I will explain my opinions and actions; but from henceforward

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the subject must be interdicted between

us.

To begin, then, I must inform you it is my

decided intention to marry Miss Ogilvie. I had even reached this place, on my return to England for that purpose, when I received your letter, in which you so unreservedly express your doubts of my ever forming this determination. But, notwithstanding the cynical humour in which you seem inclined to indulge at present, I flatter myself, Montgomery, no assurances can be necessary to convince you of my firm resolve, when I do become Maria's husband, to study her happiness in every respect, and to make it the object of my life to repay her for the affection I know she feels for me. I will even say more; and tell you, in all sincerity, that I no longer consider my marriage with her as a sacrifice of all my hopes of happiness. My heart is at this moment free. I have no attachment to

any other woman; and, on the con

trary, I am convinced I never yet have loved as I feel I am capable of loving.

“I can easily picture to myself all your shrugs, and sneers, and smiles, on read. ing this article “ of confession and faith; and I can count a long list of names that I know you will bring forward in contradiction to this assertion; but, nevertheless, it is unequivocally true. I acknowledge I was once éperdument épris with the bewitching Jacqueline; and had her mind been as pure as her form was lovely, I might have been a willing slave to her for life. But the fact is, I have formed so high an idea of the possible perfection of the female character, that I have never yet found any reality equal to it-and now, I trust, I never shall.

“ Do not be so unjust to us both, as to think Miss Ogilvie's want of beauty is the cause of my want of love. In truth, I do love her ; but my affection is that of a brother to a sister; not that enchantment of the heart, that monopoly of the

soul, that I should wish to feel for the woman destined to be my wife. It is unfortunate that our marriage was so soon determined on by our parents; from our earliest years we were told of our engagement to each other; and while her affectionate confiding heart willingly yielded itself to the wayward boy, whom she was taught to consider as her future husband, my more truant feelings involuntarily rebelled against the arbitrary decree. No agitating but pleasing suspense, no dreaded disappointment gave additional value to the good, which thus, without one effort of my own, was offered to my acceptance. My desires stagnated in this undisturbed security; and whilst I daily observed the mild and calm virtues of Maria’s amiable disposition, I every hour regretted that she was not indeed a sister, to whose indulgent ear I might have confided all my joys and sorrows a friend whose strong mind would have guided me in the storms of hope and fear,

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