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cessities of our common nature. But for this offence, for the intentional blasting of a reputation, for the stealing away of the hope for the future, for the moral murder of a feeble woman, fighting her way to good repute, there is no excuse, nay, not even the shadow of palliation. Let us, therefore, hope that the crime is rare; and when we hear of women divulging the errors of their fellow-women-errors that, but for them, might have remained buried in the darkness of oblivion, let us deal mercifully with them. Vanity, a natural loquacity, and a love of repeating what is not generally known ; these, and more than these, namely, the shallowness of the vessel that holds the brimming poison, may be among the causes of the mischief that is done. To these causes, then, let us attribute it, and not (in God's name) to a poisoning instinct, more odious than that of a Brinvilliers or a Borgia !
The story of Helen's fall lost nothing, either in the writing or the telling of it; for
it is an easy thing to throw in an extra charge or two, and run them down hard with comments, and with expletives. And then came the agreeable necessity of making the shocking facts known to the Vicar's wife; and Miss Teasdale was so distressed really it was a most annoying, unladylike task that had been imposed upon her-but she felt it her duty,' &c., &c.
The Vicaress listened with dilated eyes and head erect, and judging from the sparkle of the former, that she was experiencing an agreeable sensation, the narrator proceeded with her facts, and having exhausted them, drew somewhat on her imagination. Meanwhile, indignant as she felt, there was something in the excitement of the situation that was not altogether unpleasing to the Vicar's wife. Where is the woman who, in her heart of hearts, does not dearly love a scene? A scene, especially where the part she plays is a first, and a telling one? At once there appeared to the mind of the aggrieved lady confirmation strong as proof of holy writ, of the vile conspiracy against her peace, carried on by the scheming Schoolmistress and her own lawful but law-breaking husband. We will not, however, follow her through the phases of her righteous wrath, nor describe the sufferings of the Vicar, while writhing under the searching probe of her investigations, and the merciless incisions of her reproaches. A man may, in such cases, be left to fight his own battles, even though his antagonist be a woman; and therefore we desert the arena of the combat, to follow the fortunes of its ill-fated cause, who, almost within earshot of the tumult, resolved not to await its issue, but to go at once, not standing on the order for her going. She was not taken by surprise ; for, having always felt the insecurity of the refuge she had chosen, she had ever held herself in readiness to “up anchor,' and steer her course to other and safer harbours.
be found? The Archdeacon was very kind, and took her to his own house; many blamed him for the deed, and there were not a few who pitied his wife when they heard that so dangerous an inmate had been admitted into the sanctuary of her home. But Esther Morton bad no fears; for her own heart and her husband's conscience were her guides, and the Tables (not indeed of stone) on which her law was written. She shed many tears over Helen's downfall; that poor Helen who for years had been so good, and whom the children loved so dearly. Gladly would she have retained her winning guest as a permanent inmate, but the Archdeacon was far from counselling such an arrangement; nor would Helen herself have been willing to remain in the scene of her humiliation. So they found her a home in eastern England, where her name and history were unguessed at, even by the friend to whom they consigned her. An almost bed-ridden invalid was that aged lady. Her fingers. were distorted by rheumatic gout, and her eyes (worn by age and chronic weakness) were almost useless to her, but she was kind and charitable, and was, moreover, a rich and powerful single lady, having tenants who owned her sway; and from her bed she could wield her little sceptre, bidding her subjects do this,' and (even against the dictates of their consciences) they did do it.
Her nephew, a middle-aged, book-loving bachelor, shortsighted in every sense of the word, lived under her roof; and for all the exigencies of society and companionship, they two (before the advent of Helen) had thought each other equal.
Old, wealthy Miss Lennard was the Archdeacon's godmother, and had, since he had grown to man's estate, held him and his sacred office in high esteem and affection. When, therefore, it was deemed expedient that a companion should be found, who, for the helpless lady, should have both eyes and tongue and understanding; the latter dic