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Maria

Chapter 14
"AS MY MIND grew calmer, the visions of Italy again returned with their former
glow of colouring; and I resolved on quitting the kingdom for a time, in search of
the cheerfulness, that naturally results from a change of scene, unless we carry
the barbed arrow with us, and only see what we feel.
"During the period necessary to prepare for a long absence, I sent a supply to
pay my father's debts, and settled my brothers in eligible situations; but my
attention was not wholly engrossed by my family, though I do not think it
necessary to enumerate the common exertions of humanity. The manner in
which my uncle's property was settled, prevented me from making the addition to
the fortune of my surviving sister, that I could have wished; but I had prevailed on
him to bequeath her two thousand pounds, and she determined to marry a lover,
to whom she had been some time attached. Had it not been for this engagement,
I should have invited her to accompany me in my tour; and I might have escaped
the pit, so artfully dug in my path, when I was the least aware of danger.
"I had thought of remaining in England, till I weaned my child; but this state of
freedom was too peaceful to last, and I had soon reason to wish to hasten my
departure. A friend of Mr. Venables, the same attorney who had accompanied
him in several excursions to hunt me from my hiding places, waited on me to
propose a reconciliation. On my refusal, he indirectly advised me to make over to
my husband--for husband he would term him--the greater part of the property I
had at command, menacing me with continual persecution unless I complied,
and that, as a last resort, he would claim the child. I did not, though intimidated
by the last insinuation, scruple to declare, that I would not allow him to squander
the money left to me for far different purposes, but offered him five hundred
pounds, if he would sign a bond not to torment me any more. My maternal
anxiety made me thus appear to waver from my first determination, and probably
suggested to him, or his diabolical agent, the infernal plot, which has succeeded
but too well.
"The bond was executed; still I was impatient to leave England. Mischief hung
in the air when we breathed the same; I wanted seas to divide us, and waters to
roll between, till he had forgotten that I had the means of helping him through a
new scheme. Disturbed by the late occurrences, I instantly prepared for my
departure. My only delay was waiting for a maid-servant, who spoke French
fluently, and had been warmly recommended to me. A valet I was advised to
hire, when I fixed on my place of residence for any time.
"My God, with what a light heart did I set out for Dover!-- It was not my
country, but my cares, that I was leaving behind. My heart seemed to bound with
the wheels, or rather appeared the centre on which they twirled. I clasped you to
my bosom, exclaiming 'And you will be safe--quite safe--when--we are once on
board the packet.--Would we were there!' I smiled at my idle fears, as the natural
effect of continual alarm; and I scarcely owned to myself that I dreaded Mr.
Venables's cunning, or was conscious of the horrid delight he would feel, at
forming stratagem after stratagem to circumvent me. I was already in the snare--I
 
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