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which it had long been a stranger to; he redoubled the tenderness and attention with which he had hitherto treated her, and she appeared more grateful for those attentions than she had yet been..
One day the count expressed a strong curiosity to know the particulars of her life.
"It does not contain any incidents worthy of your attention, my lord (said she), my days have been latterly marked with error, and its natural consequences misery and disappointment; I was plunged into distress while I was yet a stranger to guilt; and from a scrupulous attention to the opinion of the world, despair taught me to brave it; I looked around me, and I saw that with the major part of mankind appearances were all, and that rank and wealth were deemed a sufficient excuse for the greatest enormities; death had deprived me of the only being upon earth on whom I had a natural claim; I was poor and unprotected, and these I
found were considered as sufficient reasons why I was to be treated with insult or neglect; my temper became soured, and my disposition changed: that glow of benevolence, which I had hitherto felt for all the human race, was converted into misanthropy. I learned. to consider my fellow-creatures with suspicion and distrust, and to think that every appearance of kindness proceeded from interested motives; but my heart was not made for a state of apathy, and in exchanging it for a warmer sentiment, I entailed upon myself endless regrets; but I beg your pardon, my lord (continued she), I am giving you a detail of my sentiments, instead of my actions.
My father, who was a naval officer, was as brave and worthy a man as ever lived; he married, early in life, a woman whose birth was much superior to his own, and whose fortune would have been large but for her preference of him. My mother was under the guardianship of
an uncle, and if she married without his consent she forfeited nearly the whole of her property. Both my father and herself were, however, too much attached to regard this circumstance in the light of a serious obstacle to their union. My income, small as it is, my dear Charlotte (said my father), will afford us the decent comforts of life, and could you but be content with them, I should esteem myself the happiest of men in calling you mine.'
"Was I desirous of more, I should be unworthy the possession of your invaluable heart (replied she), what indeed have we in this world to wish for beyond the joys of mutual affection, peace, and competence.'. With such sentiments as these, you will suppose that the union of the lovers soon took place, and for some time their felicity was great indeed. A summons to my father to join his ship was the first interruption it met with; it was the first time that he ever felt reluctant to per
form his duty, my mother was far gone in a state of pregnancy, and he dreaded the effect which his departure might produce upon her health and spirits; but the call of honour and of duty must be obeyed; and he tore himself away, after a thousand charges to her to be careful of her health for his sake, and for that of the dear expected one.
"My mother assumed the heorine, but it was a character that her native softness rendered her ill calculated to support; and her anxiety of mind brought on a premature labour. I was born two months before the usual time, and for some weeks after my birth, my mother entertained daily apprehensions of losing me: her fears were however vain, I began to thrive; and on my father's return at the end of a year, I was a stout, healthy child; and, as he declared, while he pressed me to his bosom, the perfect image of my mother,
and the occa
sional absences of my father served to
give a keener relish to his domestic pleasures; they had no further increase of their family, and I was the little idol of both but how transient is human felicity; the news of a battle, and of my father's health and safety, reached my mother at the same moment; he had taken a valuable prize, and the papers of the day were filled with accounts of his bravery, and of his generosity to the conquered enemy. Tears of gratitude to heaven for the preservation of her dear George's life, fell from the eyes of my mother, while her heart swelled with an honest pride at the well-earned applause so liberally bestowed upon him, and she anticipated with delight the transport of clasping him to her bosom in a few weeks, perhaps days. Alas! these hopes were destined never to be fulfilled; my father arrived safe in port, and immediately on his landing was seized with a violent fever, which carried him off in a few days.
"The news of this event had nearly proved fatal to my mother; and nothing