“I am not strong enough,” wrote Caroline, “yet to argue with you, or defend my conduct, as I feel sure I should be compelled to do, did we meet now. I find, too late, that on many points we differ so completely, that the confidential intercourse, which has hitherto been ours, must henceforth be at an end. Forgive me, dear Annie, if it grieves you to read these words; believe me, it is painful to me to write them. But now that my feelings on so many important subjects have been changed—now that the blinding film has been mercifully removed from my eyes, and I see the whole extent of my sinful folly, I cannot hope to find the same friend in you. Too late, for my peace, I have discovered that our principles of duty are directly opposite. I blame you not for what I am, for the suffering I am still enduring, no, for that I alone have caused; but your persuasions, your representations heightened the evil, strengthened me in my sinful course. You saw my folly, and worked on it, by sowing the seeds of mistrust and dislike towards my parents. I was a passive tool in your hands, and you endeavoured to mould me according to your notions of happiness. I thank you for all the interest you have thus endeavoured to prove for me. You cannot regret withdrawing it, now I have in your eyes proved myself so undeserving. This is the last confidential letter I shall ever write, save to her who is indeed my best, my truest, most indulgent friend on earth; but before I entirely conclude, the love, the friendship I have felt for you compels me to implore you to pause in your career. Oh, Annie, do not follow up those principles you would have instilled in me; do not, oh, as you value future innocence and peace, do not let them be your guide in life; you will find them hollow, vain, and false. Pause but for one moment, and reflect. Can there he happiness without virtue, peace without integrity? Is there pleasure without truth? Was deception productive of felicity to me? Oh, no, no. That visit to London, that introduction in the gay world to which I looked forward with so much joy, the retrospection of which I hoped would have enlivened Oakwood, oh, what does it present? A dreary waste of life, varied only by remorse. Had my career been yours, you would perhaps have looked on it differently; but I cannot. Oh, Annie, once more, I beseech, let not such principles actuate your future conduct; they are wrong, they will load to misery here, and what preparation are they for eternity?
“Farewell, and may God bless you! We shall not, perhaps, meet again till next season, and then it cannot be as we have parted. An interest in your welfare I shall ever feel, but intimacy must be at an end between us.
There was a dark lowering frown obscuring the noble and usually open brow of the young heir of Oakwood, and undisguised anger visible in every feature and every movement, as he paced the library with disordered steps, about ten days after the events we have recorded, and three since his return from college. He had crossed his arms on his chest, which was swelling with the emotion he was with difficulty repressing, and his tall, elegant figure appeared to increase in height beneath his indignant and, in this case, just displeasure.