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In early years of womanhood, Eliza had given her affections to one who
sought her love under the guise of a "gentleman of fortune." He proved to
be what such characters usually are--a libertine, whose only motive in
seeking to win her confidence and young affections was to gratify his
hellish passions in the ruin of virtue and a good name. Under the most
solemn assurances of deep, abiding, unalterable love for her, and the most
solemn promises of marriage at an early day, which if he failed to perform,
the direst maledictions of heaven, and the most awful curses, were called
down upon his own head, even to the eternal consuming of his soul in the
flames of perdition, he succeeded in his design. Virtue was overcome, and
the jewel of purity departed from the heart of another of earth's
daughters. Vain were the tears of the repentant girl to induce a
performance of the promises so solemnly made; false had been and still were
the vows of the profligate; but he continued to make them all the more
profusely; and hope, at first unwavering, then fainter and fainter, filled
the heart of his victim. Once conquered, and the victory was ever after
comparatively easy; and having taken something of a fancy to this lady, he
was for a long time attached to her, and, in his way, remained faithful.
Such were the mutual relations sustained by these two toward each other,
when, one day, the betrayer entered the presence of the betrayed, and, in
some agitation, said:
"Eliza, my dear, you have always been a kind, dear girl to me, and I have
resolved to repay your constancy and devotion by making you my bride in a
few days; but first I must demand of you a service, an important service.
Can I depend on you?"
"You know you can; let me know how I can aid you in such a manner as will
insure me your hand, and I will serve you unto death."
"Bravely spoken! Just what I expected of your devoted love! But the service
I shall require will sorely try that love!"
"Then let me prove its strength."
"Eliza, do you doubt my truth? my sincerity?"
"Have I not given you stronger proof than a thousand asseverations, or the
strongest oaths, that my confidence is unbounded? Without this trust, I
should be wretched beyond endurance!"
"I am glad to hear you talk so. Still I fear you will not consent to serve
me as I shall wish."
"Try me and see."
"Are you of a _jealous_ disposition, my love?"
"Jealous? What a question for _you_ to ask!"
"It may appear strange, yet I would be pleased to have you answer me truly,
and without reserve. Tell me your real sentiments without reserve or
disguise. Much depends thereon."
"Truly, I cannot say, never having been tried; but I can verily believe
that intense hatred would arise in my heart toward one of my sex who would
attempt to supplant me in your affections."
"Suppose I should disregard their efforts, what then?"
"Nothing. If sure of your attachment, I would care for nothing beside."
"'Tis well! But suppose that I should tell you that I once loved another
"As you love me?"
"No; with a boyish affection, soon forgotten."
"Then I would care nothing for it."
"Not if it left an incurable wound?"
"My God! How have I been deceived."
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