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subsequent events, the separation between himself and Mrs. Fitzwaddle was preconcerted with a view only to release him from his difficulties, and then to renew their intimacy, it was a most cruel deception on Miss Brownwig, and a most indecent one on the whole of the tenantry. Let the reader turn his eyes which way he will, he must see folly and dishonour, if not deception and cruelty.
It might have been expected, that the unfortunate Mrs. George Gildrig had suffered enough by having been thus publicly cast off by her husband ; but no, her enemies appeared resolved to crush her, or drive her away. A new conspiracy, from another quarter, or a continuation of that which had separated her from conjugal endearment, was still to be played off against her, by those who were constantly about her person, and whose faces were covered with smiles and affabilities:
“0, conspiracy, Sbam'st thou to shew thy dang'rous brow by night, When evils are most free? O then, hy day Where wilt thou find a cavern dark enough Tomask thy monstrous visage? Seck none, conspiracy;
Hide it in smiles and affabilities :
She was to be deprived of every friend, of all esteem and respect in a distant country, and subject to derision and ridicule. The most scandalous reports were spread abroad to the prejudice of her person and manners, which could only have originated with female tongues. Who these were we know not; but people will surmise, and the galled ox will wince.
The persecuted Mrs. George Gildrig finding herself thus deserted by her proper protector, without any reason ; surrounded by supplanting and slandering enemies, almost wholly unacquainted with the sympathetic and feeling hearts of the public, and afraid to trust any one, sought to confide her sorrows to the bosom of her parents, or some other relatives or friends whom she had left in those distant parts whence she camę. This was natural, extremely natural, and more delicate than if she had made her complaints nearer home. A packet of letters to her friends was confided to the hands of a person who
was going that way, and from whom she entertained, and, in all probability, had no reason to entertain any suspicion of dishonourable conduct. The packet, however, by a train of artifices, which must have been the result of long experience in the winding passages of intrigųe, and of premeditated design, was got out of the hands of the person with whom it was entrusted, and in contempt of every thing like honour, honesty, or good faith, was violated. It was discovered, that the intended victim of this confederacy, in that bitterness of anguish and agony of mind which she must have experienced, and which, in the strongest minds, will often create suspicion where there is not the least occasion for it, had written some things which must be disa pleasing to the Lord and Lady. As the correspondence could only have been intercepted by an enemy, and for the most inimical purposes, the malignant fiend contrived, with the same subtlety through which the packet had been gotten possession of, to lay the contents before the Lord and Lady, without appearing before the curtain. The correspondence was interceptedwas violated—was made public--but nobody did it. As was expected, a breach was made between Mrs. George Gildrig, and her father and mother-in-law, who expected more honourable mention than what some of the passages of the correspondence contained. As the correspondence was intended solely for the private eye of relationship, or friendship, and was disclosed by such unfair means, instead of the resentment which fell upon the writer, it might have been more proper if the malignant discloser had been ferretted out, and overwhelmed with contempt and indignation.
As the Lord and Lady had too just a sense of decorum and propriety to shew a coolness to their daughter-in-law, without assigning a reason for it, the treachery, which had occasioned it, came to light. It was, indeed, suspected that the perpetrators had not been able to veil themselves so securely but that they were discovered, and despised by those whom they had irritated against the object of their malice; but there is that delicacy in high life, which makes them tender of exposing each other to the grin and contempt of the swinish multitude.
However, the unsuspecting person to whom
the packet had been entrusted, could not rest under the obloquy of having acted treacherously, and, by justifying himself, Mrs. Villars was found to have been concerned in some stage of the proceedings; whether innocently or not, could only be surmised from what was suffered to transpire of this dark affair. Some correspondence took place, in which Mr. Villars attempted the justification of his wife ; we say attempted ; for although the correspondence was published, it threw not the least light upon the affair. The tenants thought that it would have been better to have made no defence, than so lame a one; conscious innocence is often contented with a knowledge that it is innocent, and with a hope that it will, at a future day, be proved so; but conscious guilt is ever anxious to assume the appearance of innocence, and often betrays itself by that very anxiety. It cannot endure
“ the thought of what Men's tongues will say of what their hearts must think.”
By this shocking conspiracy, for so it must have been, whoever were the persons concerned in it, an unhappy misunderstanding took place between the persecuted object of it and her hus