Often had he met her in her favorite solitudes, but found her ever cold and inaccessible. Of late the girl had avoided straying far from her own home, in the fear of meeting him—but she had never told her fears to Allan.
Matravis had, till now, been content to be a villain within the limits of the law—but, on the present occasion, hot fumes of wine, cooperating with his deep desire of revenge, and the insolence of an unhoped-for meeting, overcame his customary prudence, and Matravis rose, at once, to an audacity of glorious mischief.
Late at night he met her, a lonely, unprotected virgin—no friend at hand—no place near of refuge.
Rosamund Gray, my soul is exceeding sorrowful for thee—I loathe to tell the hateful circumstances of thy wrongs. Night and silence were the only witnesses of this young maid’s disgrace—Matravis fled.
Rosamund, polluted and disgraced, wandered, an abandoned thing, about the fields and meadows till daybreak. Not caring to return to the cottage, she sat herself down before the gate of Miss Clare’s house—in a stupor of grief.
Elinor was just rising, and had opened the windows of her chamber, when she perceived her desolate young friend. She ran to embrace her—she brought her into the house—she took her to her bosom—she kissed her—she spake to her; but Rosamund could not speak.
Tidings came from the cottage. Margaret’s death was an event which could not be kept concealed from Rosamund. When the sweet maid heard of it, she languished, and fell sick—she never held up her head after that time.
If Rosamund had been a sister, she could not have been kindlier treated than by her two friends.
Allan had prospects in life—might, in time, have married into any of the first families in Hertfordshire—but Rosamund Gray, humbled though she was, and put to shame, had yet a charm for him—and he would have been content to share his fortunes with her yet, if Rosamund would have lived to be his companion.
But this was not to be—and the girl soon after died. She expired in the arms of Elinor—quiet, gentle, as she lived—thankful that she died not among strangers—and expressing, by signs rather than words, a gratitude for the most trifling services, the common offices of humanity. She died uncomplaining; and this young maid, this untaught Rosamund, might have given a lesson to the grave philosopher in death.
* * * * *
I was but a boy when these events took place. All the village remember the story, and tell of Rosamund Gray, and old blind Margaret.
I parted from Allan Clare on that disastrous night, and set out for Edinburgh the next morning, before the facts were commonly known—I heard not of them—and it was four months before I received a letter from Allan.