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fate of her child; "and this (exclaimed he, franticly), this was my work! Oh, Valeria! wronged, lost, innocent, could thy meek spirit look down from Heaven, thou wouldst pity even the wretch that destroyed thee."
The emotion that Montalva betrayed, filled Ellen with surprise, but wholly ignorant of the former events of his life, she had no suspicion of its real cause; but imputed it to some embarrassment of his affairs, of which he did not. chuse to make her the confidant.
Time, though it could not stiffle the remorse of Montalva, yet, enabled. him in some degree to overcome the violent motions which circumstances had led him to give way to. Nearly three years had passed from the birth of his son, and every day rendered him more doatingly fond of the child; he had frequently expressed a wish to return to Naples, and take Ellen and Stephano with him, but Miss Dudley had always appeared so averse to this
measure that he never pressed it; his life during these years had been marked with no particular incident; he formed no connexions, and mixed with not other society than such as coffee-houses or taverns afforded him; he spent the most part of his time with Ellen and his child; to the former indeed he was attached solely by his regard for the latter; the inclination he had at first felt for her person was long since over; and of real and sincere love, the heart of Montalva was utterly incapable. Ellen Dudley, notwithstanding her fall from virtue, was formed for something better than to be the mere amusement of any man's idle hours; but her talents, her virtues, and her graces were regarded by Montalva with indifference; he was indeed incapable of appreciating them as they deserved.
The count saw a small villa in a romantic situation, a few miles from the capital, which pleased him, and as it was advertised to be sold, he purchased
it; he went there for a few days to give orders about some repairs, and Ellen and her son remained in London. On Montalva's return to town, he went immediately to her house. What was his astonishment to find it shut up, and to learn in the neighbourhood that she had left it some days back. "Where was she gone?" he impatiently asked the person who informed him of her departure, but the woman could not tell him. Miss (or as she was called Mrs.) Dudley had discharged her servants, and departed with her son in a : post-chaise, but what road they took: no one could tell. Montalva drove immediately to the hotel that he frequented when in London, in the hope of finding there some explanation of this strange step; it was indeed explained by the following packet, which awaited: his arrival.
"By the time you receive this, my lord, I shall be many miles distant from London, nor shall we, I hope, ever meet again.
"I have been guilty of a cruel and infamous deception, for which I am at length punished, and for which my conscience has a thousand times re
proached me; a deception which you can never pardon, but which I am compelled to reveal to you. In a short time after I had reason to suppose myself deserted, I feared that I was with child. Oh what words can paint the horrors. of my mind. Destitute as I was, I
might, by some honest means, havegained a subsistence; but if my fears. were true, how was I to provide for my infant? how was I to obtain a sufficient, sum even to defray the expences of a certain time? for a moment the idea. of suicide presented itself. It will be mercy, thought I, to the unborn wretch,. to take it from a world where I myself have met with none! Yet when I reflected upon the double crime I was.: about to commit, I shrunk with horror from my dreadful purpose. You had made me the most liberal proposals, which I had, as you know, rejected ; for however distressed, however forlorn I might be, I was far above being bribed i into the prostitution of my person; that was, as I conceived, the lowest state of degradation to which human being could fall, and it was one that I was determined never to submit to. In the first moments of despair, I chanced to meet with your letter, which I had thrown carelessly into a drawer;