When the neighbors came to search in the morning, Margaret was missing! She had straggled out of bed, and made her way into Rosamund’s room—worn out with fatigue and fright, when she found the girl not there, she had laid herself down to die—and, it is thought, she died praying—for she was discovered in a kneeling posture, her arms and face extended on the pillow, where Rosamund had slept the night before—a smile was on her face in death.
* * * * *
Fain would I draw a veil over the transactions of that night—but I cannot—grief, and burning shame, forbid me to be silent—black deeds are about to be made public, which reflect a stain upon our common nature.
Rosamund, enthusiastic and improvident, wandered unprotected to a distance from her guardian doors—through lonely glens, and wood-walks, where she had rambled many a day in safety—till she arrived at a shady copse, out of the hearing of any human habitation.
Matravis met her.—–“Flown with insolence and wine,” returning home late at night, he passed that way!
Matravis was a very ugly man. Sallow-complexioned! and if hearts can wear that color, his heart was sallow-complexioned also.
A young man with gray deliberation! cold and systematic in all his plans; and all his plans were evil. His very lust was systematic.
He would brood over his bad purposes for such a dreary length of time that, it might have been expected, some solitary check of conscience must have intervened to save him from commission. But that Light from Heaven was extinct in his dark bosom.
Nothing that is great, nothing that is amiable, existed for this unhappy man. He feared, he envied, he suspected; but he never loved. The sublime and beautiful in nature, the excellent and becoming in morals, were things placed beyond the capacity of his sensations. He loved not poetry—nor ever took a lonely walk to meditate—never beheld virtue, which he did not try to disbelieve, or female beauty and innocence, which he did not lust to contaminate.
A sneer was perpetually upon his face, and malice grinning at his heart. He would say the most ill-natured things, with the least remorse, of any man I ever knew. This gained him the reputation of a wit—other traits got him the reputation of a villain.
And this man formerly paid his court to Elinor Clare!—with what success I leave my readers to determine. It was not in Elinor’s nature to despise any living thing—but in the estimation of this man, to be rejected was to be despised—and Matravis never forgave.
He had long turned his eyes upon Rosamund Gray. To steal from the bosom of her friends the jewel they prized so much, the little ewe lamb they held so dear, was a scheme of delicate revenge, and Matravis had a twofold motive for accomplishing this young maid’s ruin.