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"How happens it (said my father), that you, with whom I never was on terms of friendship, or even intimacy, should thus generously step forward at a time when I find myself deserted by all who ought to serve me.'
"Mr. Thornton pressed his hand, you are an honest man, sinking under the pressure of unmerited calamity, and that is enough for me' (cried he).
"The generosity of this eccentric, but worthy man, was the means of enabling my father to settle his affairs; he paid his creditors twenty shillings in the pound, and in a short time saw himself clear with his friend Thornton, and in possession of a sum that would be a moderate independence for the rest of his days. I will not tempt my fortune farther (said he), and he retired from business. He was rather advanced in life, and had no thoughts of marrying, but the person and disposition of my mother, induced him
to enter a state, in which he experienced the greatest happiness.
"I was their only child, and at a very early age I showed a strong disposition to a life of commerce; in compliance with my earnest wishes, I was placed with Mr. Denton, a gentleman of eminence in the line, and with him I still am.
"Mr. Denton has the strongest confidence in me, and until a few days since, it was not ill placed, but in an unfortunate moment, I was prevailed upon to lend to a gentleman whom I had known from infancy, a large sum that I had in my hands of Mr. Denton's, he solemnly promised to return it within a few hours, and as I knew that it would essentially serve him, I thought not of the imprudence of which I was guilty. Oh, sir! what were my feelings, when I learned the next morning, that the villain had absconded; ruin and infamy stared me in the face, and what was worse than all, I should bring
disgrace upon the grey hairs of my beloved father. In a moment of despair, I formed the desperate resolution of trying my fortune at the gaming table, and though the hope of winning such a sum appeared almost chimerical, yet, I had nearly realized it, when my reverse of fortune, tempted me to the rash act which you prevented."
Montalva presented him with the money, and added to it the sum he wanted, which was not a large one; he interrupted Villars's acknowledgments, by expressing a wish to take some rest, and giving Henry his address, they retired to separate apartments.
It was the first time in Montalva's. whole life that he had ever done what might be termed a disinterested good action, and oppressed as his conscience was with a load of guilt, he enjoyed for some moments the pleasure of having relieved a fellow creature from despair; but the worm that never dies, soon dissipated the pleasing reflections that
he indulged, and he relapsed into those nightly horrors that rendered existence burthensome to him.
The time of Ellen's accouchement approached, and Montalva saw with concern that she suffered a great deal, and apparently more in her mind than in her health; the physician who attended her, was of opinion that it would be wrong for her to suckle her child, and Montalva insisted so strenu ously upon her giving it to the care of a nurse, that she reluctantly agreed ; but her acquiescence with his wishes appeared to render her very unhappy, and for some days she suffered under the most dreadful depression of spirits. "My dear Ellen (cried the count to her one evening), you will injure yourself, and the infant, by the indulgence of this melancholy; let me beg of you to lay it aside, what cause can you have for sorrow?"
"My situation, my lord (replied she), makes me serious. Heaven only
knows how I shall bear the approaching trial; but whatever may happen to me, may I hope that you will be indeed a father to--", she stopped, for she could not proceed, so excessively was she agitated.
"What part of my conduct (cried the count, sternly), makes you think me such a monster of inhumanity, as to behave unkindly to my own offspring?" He was proceeding, when Ellen burst into tears.
"Pardon me, my lord (said she), I meant not to offend you, but this weakness that hangs upon my spirits, renders me almost childish; and though I have not a doubt of your kindness to the babe, should it survive, yet, I would wish to be indulged with a solemn promise from your own lips, that whatever happens to me, you will protect and provide for it."
"Doubt it not (replied the count), Heaven desert me, when I desert, or neglect the infant." A thought of