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have been changed to love-his highest aspiration would have become to acquire the regard of one so surpassingly attractive. She was Irish, and possessed of all the witchery of glance, all the enchanting grace of movement, all the heart-subduing sweetness of manner, for which her countrywomen are always and everywhere distinguished. She was darkly, dangerously beautiful--too glittering to be good. Her beauty was that of a Circe tempting to evil: there was something mystic, unholy in it. Could you imagine a spirit of the lower world assuming a face to ensnare men's souls withal? Hers was such an aspect.
I have said that from the first moment I saw her I was resolved on her ruin ;—alas! it was like a wolf resolving on the destruction of a constrictor serpent! Yes! while I was scheming how to effect my blind purpose, she had wound the fatal folds of her enchantment around me; and, when she girded tighter the coil, I felt myself at her mercy. I was the ruined party.
For several months I scarcely ever left the house, there remaining continually in fascinating but fatal dalliance with her. My excuse to my father for neglecting the counting-room was illness; and I am sure it was the truth: if I was not sick, then there is no such thing as sickness. She became to me as a superior creature-something to be worshipped, feared, prayed to, propitiated with offerings. I have known what it is to be under the influence of those strongest of passions, hatred and revenge, as you shall hear presently; but in their most energetic action on my thoughts and feelings they were as nothing to the ardent, slavish love. that bowed my spirit to the very dust before this woman. My father's money I lavishly bestowed upon her and her connexions; and, as the books had fallen much behind through my neglect,-indisposition, as my father believed, I found no difficulty in establishing a cousin of hers, apparently a man of much acuteness, in the counting-house, as chief clerk. This was a measure which she had used all her blandishments to induce me to effect-well seconded by his cringing manner, and humble, povertystricken aspect.
But this was a trifle to the sacrifices she required from me: my very religion I changed to gratify her. She was a Roman Catholic, and I must become one too. A whispered sentence, a smile, and a kiss, overturned all the arguments of Calvin, Knox, and Zuingle. This was not so important a matter on the score of conscience, for I had never paid any great attention to matters of faith: but what would my father think-the bigoted sectarian? Worse-what would he do? Though I had never borne for him much reverence, I trembled when I renounced his creed. I knew I was putting in jeopardy my very bread. It was therefore with the utmost secresy that I adopted and practised my new form of religion. Shortly after this the priest to whom she brought me performed a clandestine ceremony of marriage between us, when I had, after most vehement prayers and protestations, obtained from her a tardy consent. Ithought that day the happiest of my life,-in very truth it was; never did I drain such a cup of bliss! I had been a gainer on the turf, in the cockpit, and in the bullring, I had had runs of luck of cards, and days of riot and merriment. Such were the highest pleasures I had previously known:
when I thought on them, and compared them with the distracting joy of altogether possessing Ellen Lucas, I laughed in wonder and scorn at them, and those that had shared them with me.
I was intoxicated with my new delight: I almost altogether forsook the business; whilst my peculation upon my father's money became so extensive and systematic as to excite his fears and suspicions, though they as yet rested upon no particular individual.
She was still staying as servant in the house. In the mean time the man Ormond, her relation, to whom I had given the situation of clerk, continued to rise higher and higher in my father's estimation. He was most devoted to his duty, regular in his habits, flatteringly attentive to the old man's whims and peculiarities-indeed, was the very beau ideal of a faithful servant, and soon acquired the complete and absolute confidence of his master.
Still, amid all this, my heart was haunted with continual doubts; my father must find out, sooner or later, my recent proceedings, and I trembled for the issue. I was altogether dependent upon him; not one morsel of bread could I earn by my own powers or resources. I knew intimately all the complicated processes of the distillery, but I had never applied the hand-indeed, my habits were altogether inconsistent with daily labor. If he were to cast me off, I should be a beggar; and she with whom I had promised to share the proceeds of our princely business! -love would spring from her bosom,-that love on which almost my existence now depended-and give place to the anger, the hatred, and all the bitterness, with which poverty and want supplant the warmer affections.
But now the thought arose in my mind,-What, if my father should die? Should not I be lord of this great trade, and able to pour thousands into her lap? I began to hope, to wish, and at last I determined on his end, and set coolly and systematically to think over it,—yes, procured books, medical and of other descriptions, studied them, and endeavored to hatch in my mind some method of putting him secretly and unsuspectedly out of the way. You shudder! When you have seen a few more deathbeds, you will take such a confession more coolly.
[I was much horrified by this most atrocious acknowledgment, and had unconsciously made some gestures indicative of this feeling. He saw my emotion, and sneered, as if pitying my ignorance of human nature. It seemed to render the unnatural villain desirous of adding yet more to the hideous interest of his account.]
Well, while this was going on, my father came into the house one afternoon, in a state of fearful excitement ;-he had discovered all. Never before had I seen him in such a fury. He vehemently protested I could not be of his blood,-launched curses at me, my mother, and her relations; even her native district of country did not escape. Then he attacked me on account of my apostacy, as he called it-accused me of robbery of his money-vehemently asserted he would prosecute me ;— then, coming to my marriage, upbraided me with a number of sins I had no idea I was guilty of. He would not call by the name of marriage any ceremony performed by a Catholic priest, but styled it cohabiting with a
woman of abandoned character-a servant-when he himself had arranged a match suitable for me, and proportioned to his rank in business. Finally, he loudly assured me, that not a farthing of the fortune he had accumulated should ever go to the support of my paramour, myself, or one of my mother's blood. No! he would go next day and make a will, disinheriting me, and would publish an advertisement in the newspapers renouncing all connexion with me.
But ere he had got this length, my passion had arisen, and now equalled his own. I accused him of hypocrisy, dishonesty, and cruel treatment of my mother. I told him I rejoiced to think her fame had been aspersed, and that there was a probability of my being no child of his.
Here he became perfectly frantic, struck me, rained blows upon me. I resisted-retaliated-in short, we had a regular fight, and he, being somewhat of the weakest, had the worst of it. He screamed for help, and the constables rushed in. Had they not, I verily believe I should have brought my career of crime to an earlier termination, for I saw a razor laid on the top of a glass over the chimney-piece, and had thought of dragging him to it across the floor.
[He made a long pause here. I may state that, during this latter part of the narration, the look of bodily suffering completely left his face, being supplanted by an expression of excited passion, evidently raised in his mind by the recollection of these events.]
As soon as he could speak articulately, he directed them to seize me; and, while they held me fast, thrust me with his own hands out of the house. Immediately after, and while I yet stood almost crying with balked fury, and my face burning with shame, my wife was pushed out, lamenting and screaming, her chest being bundled out after her; the door was shut, and there we stood together, among a large crowd that had collected, exposed to curiosity, compassion, wonder, or ridicule, according to the humors of the individuals composing it.
We found our way to a wretched lodging, with which, in my former days, my adventures had made me acquainted, and, with the produce of some jewelry I had presented to her, and which was in her chest, managed to sustain life for some time.
Shortly after the above occurrences, I saw in a newspaper an advertisement signed by my father, informing the public that all connexion between us had ceased; and that for any debts contracted by me after that date he would not hold himself responsible.
Not long after, another appeared, stating that the spirit-manufacturing business, hitherto conducted by Patrick Erris, would in future be carried on under the firm of "Erris and Ormond," John Ormond having been admitted, as managing partner, into the concern. This last was signed severally-Phillip Erris and John Ormond. When I read these announcements, I first perceived the full extent of the misfortune I had brought upon myself.
I went to Ellen, and with drooping spirits told her of the facts. A torrent of upbraiding was my reward, for I now began to find her wilful, spiteful, ill-humored,-a perpetual scold: but, believe me as you may,
not one whit had my passion for her abated; her fatal power over me seemed rather to have increased. When she was out of temper I was miserable, and her smiles became only the more precious from their rarity.
Judge then of my state when I began to see her conduct, and evidently her feelings towards me, undergoing a rapid change. I was becoming indifferent to her-my pipe was out, as they say; somebody else had supplanted me in her affections. Long I endeavored to blind myself to the fact; but at last it became too palpable. I became jealous. Still my love fiercely burned for her; but it was equalled by hatred of him, whoever he might be, whose image had thrown me into dark eclipse.
Gracious Heaven! were you ever jealous of your wife, eh? Oh, you don't know what it is! I stated to her my fears and suspicions-she looked at me with contempt, and said nothing.
I became very wretched; my spirits sank. Our funds, too, were now exhausted, and this added to the misery I felt. I never knew what this world was till I came to want money.
At once the thought rose in my mind, that, if plenty once more smiled upon us, her affection for me would be rekindled. I resolved to go back to my father, state my penitence, and, appealing to his natural affection, implore a restoration to his house, and to the station and prospects of his son. I did this, and you may know the strength of the motive that could induce me to undergo such a humiliation. I found him at the works. He appeared much changed for the worse by the scenes that had occurred.
The moment he saw me, all his anger returned-a paroxysm of rage came upon him. I knelt to him, and prayed his forgiveness. I wept and grovelled on the earth in the abjectness of my entreaties-yes, in the presence of those workmen whom I had commanded as a master! His passion only increased. I turned to Ormond, who stood by, and, reminded him of what I had done for him, urged his intercession with my exasperated parent. But the villain only laughed at me, and looking as he mocked, to the men, they joined with hootings in the ridicule, and speedily, my father, with their assistance, seizing me, gave me in charge to a constable, and had me removed to the station-house, where I was confined forty-eight hours for drunkenness-for I really had taken a glass or so with the view of screwing up my nerves for the nonce, and to this account the magistrate laid the extravagance of my behavior.
But after all, the thing that most amazed me was the conduct of the Scoundrel Ormond. I could not believe my own recollection.
Surely, thought I, I must have deceived myself: he has been only acting;-aware as he is of my father's temper, he has been only feigning this treatment of me in order not to lose his favor. No doubt he cherishes toward me the warmest feelings of gratitude, respect, and sympathy, and is continually endeavoring in the way he deems most safe and suitable, to turn away the old man's wrath. I will seek him alone, and we will concoct together some plan for a reconciliation.
Two or three evenings after that, when hunger-positive want of food --had been added to my sufferings, I watched for him, and at length ob◄
served him, after seeing the large gates of the distillery locked, walk away along the dark and lone street in which it stood.
I met him, and going close to him wished him a good evening, and began immediately, and with perfect confidence, to remark upon the circumstances I have detailed. Stopping short, however, as we walked he interrupted me.
Hark ye, Philip," said he addressing me with contemptuous familiarity; "I say it at once and for all, and pray keep mind of it for the future—[ desire to have nothing to say to you, and nothing to do with you. It is not probable I shall require your interest with the old gentleman any further. My income as junior partner, though only a sixth of the nett returns, is amply comfortable just now, especially as I have in prospect the good will-you understand and possibly something more: lucky fellow eh? But now, good evening. Don't annoy me. Give my kind love to Ellen Lucas when you see her next; tell her I hope she has not forgotten her old man."
At the beginning of this speech I thought he was in jest, but soon I saw the truth. But what-what means that last insinuation? Would he have me believe that any one-that he?-oh madness! As the idea swelled and took form in my mind, I became nearly frantic.
his throat, almost blinded with fury, and actually fastened on him with my teeth.
But he was a great heavy fellow, more than six feet in height, and as strong as an ox. He shook me off, and with a light cane he carried rained lashes on my face and shoulders. I stood up before him unwincingly. I would not have called for help or have turned to escape for a world. After a minute of this, down I dropped in a dead faint, partly from the pain of the cuts, partly from excess of impotent rage.
It appeared he walked quietly away. As for me, I had fallen with my head in the kennel, and the cold water from the street, running along, speedily restored me to activity. I started up and skulked home.
I saw at once that, as far as frame went, he was much my superior. As this thought rose in my mind I laughed in my heart as I set my mind to scheine up some deep plan of retaliation, in which I did not care if I was myself involved, provided only my desire of vengeance was fully glutted.
But the wormwood was in the treatment I now received from her. Every object of mine that she could thwart she did; every word she contradicted, whilst she made me a subject of continual vituperation and ridicule to the wretched associates with whom our misery made us herd; and her murmuring and repining never ceased. This from any indifferent person would have been intolerable; from her, toward whom my vehement love had as yet suffered no abatement it was distracting. I flew for relief to my old consolation-liquor; and, for a while, I became a street pest, continually wandering drunk about the town, hooted by boys--an object of public sport and contempt.
At length, when I had been confined to hard labor in the house of correction and been kept tolerably sober I reflected that this was never the way to accomplish what was now the great object of my existence. I made a