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dow to her friends in the country, was not less beloved for her own good qualities; the was taught to read and write, and work at her needle, as soon as she was able to learn ; and fhe was taken notice of by all the gentry as the prettiest girl in the place : but her aunt died when she was about eleven years old, and before the was
irteen she lost her uncle. She was now again thrown back upon the world, still helplefs, though her wants were increased, and wretched in proportion as she had known happiness : the looked back with anguish, and forward with diftraction ; a fit of crying had just afforded her a momentary relief, when the 'squire, who had been informed of the death of his tenant, fent for her to his house. This gentleman had heard her story from her uncle, and was unwilling that a life which had been preserved almost by miracle, fhould at laft be abandoned to misery; he therefore determined to receive her into his family, not as a servant, but as a companion to his daughter, a young lady finely accomplished, and now about fifteen. The old gentleman was touched with her distress, and Mifs received her with great tenderness and complacency: she wiped away her tears, and of the intolerable anguish of her mind, nothing remained but a tender remembrance of her uncle, whom the loved and revereneed as a parent. She had now courage to examine the contents of a little box which he had put into her hand just before he expired; she found in it only the certificate of her mother's marriage, enclosed in the captain's letter, and an account of the events that have been before related, which her uncle had put down as they came to his knowledge: the train of mournful ideas that now rushed upon her mind, raised emotions which, if they could not be suppressed by reason, were foon destroyed by their own violence.
The Story of Melissa continued.
this family, which in a few weeks after returned
good 'squire seemed to consider her as his child, and Miss as her fifter : she was taught dancing and music, introduced to the best company, elegantly dreffed, and allowed such sums as were neceffary for trivial expenses.. Youth seldom suffers the dread of to-morrow to intrude upon the enjoyment of to-day, but rather regards prefent felicity as the pledge of future: Meliffa was probably as happy as if she had been in the actual poffeffion of a fortune, that, to the ease and fplendour which fhe enjoyed already, would have added itability and independence.
She was now in her eighteenth year, and the only son of her benefactor was just come from the university to spend the winter with his father in town. He was charmed with her person, behaviour, and discourse; and what he could not but admire, he took every opportunity to commend. She soon perceived that he shewed particular marks of respect to her, when he thought they would not be perceived by others, and that he endeavoured to recommend himself by an officious assiduity, and a diligent attention to the most minute circumstances that might contribute to her pleasure. But this behaviour of the young gentleman, however it might gratify her vanity, could not fail to alarm her fear : she foresaw, that if what she had remarked in his conduct should be perceived by his father or fifter, the peace of the family would be destroyed; and that she muft either be shipwrecked in the storm, or thrown overboard to appease it. She therefore affected not to perceive that more than a general complaisance was intended by her lover; and hoped that he would thus be discouraged from making an explicit declaration : but though he was mortified at her disregard of that which he knew the could not but fee, yet he determined to
address her in such terms as fhould not leave this provoking neutrality in her power: though he reverenced her virtue, yet he feared too much the anger of his father to think of making her his wife; and he was too deeply enamoured of her beauty, to relinquish his hopes of possessing her as a mistress. An opportunity for the execution of his purpose was not long wanting : she received his general professions of love with levity and merriment; but when the perceived that his view was to seduce her to prostitution, the burst into tears, and fell back in an agony, unable to speak. He was immediately touched with grief and remorse ; his tenderness was alarmed at her distress, and his efteem increased by: her virtue ; he catched her in his arms, and as an atone. ment for the infult she had received, be offered her marriage: but as her chastity would not suffer her to become his mistress, neither would her gratitude permit her to become his wife ; and as foon as she was sufficiently recollected, she intreated him never more to urge her to violate the obligations she was under either to herself or to her benefactor : Would not," faid fhe, “the presence of a wretch whom you had seduced « from innocence and peace to remorse and guilt, per« petually upbraid you; and would you not always fear « to be betrayed by a wife, whose fidelity no kindness « could fecure; who had broken all the bands that • restrain the generous and the good ; and who, by an " act of the most flagitious, ingratitude, had at once «. reached the pinnacle of guilt, to which others afcend « by imperceptible gradations ?”
These objections, though they could neither be obm viated nor evaded, had yet no tendency to fubdue defire: he loved with greater delicacy, but with more ardour; and as he could not always forbear expostulations, neither could she always filence them in such a manner as might most effectually prevent their being repeated. Such was one morning the situation of the two lovers : he had taken her hand into his, and was speaking with great eagerness; while the regarded him
with a kind of timorous complacency, and listened to him with an attention which her heart condemned : his father, in this tender moment, in which their powers of perception were mutually engrofsed by each other, came near enough to hear that his heir had made proposals of marriage, and retired without their knowledge.
As he did not dream that such a proposal could polfibly be rejected by a girl in Meliffa's situation, imagining that
every woman believed her virtue to be in. violate if her person was not prostituted, he took his measures accordingly. It was near the time in which his family had been used to remove into the country : he, therefore, gave orders, that every thing should be immediately prepared for the journey, and that the coach should be ready at fix the next morning, a man and horse being dispatched in the mean time to give notice of their arrival. The young folks were a little surprized at this sudden removal; but though the 'squire was a good-natured man, yet, as he governed his family, with high authority, and as they perceived something had offended him, they did not inquire the reason, nor indeed did they suspect it. Meliffa packed up her things as usual; and in the morning the young gentleman and his fifter having by their father's orders got into the coach, he called Melissa into the parlour; where in a few words, but with great acrimony, he reproached. her with having formed a design to marry his son without his confent; an act of ingratitude which, he said, justified him in upbraiding her with the favours which he had already conferred upon her, and in a resolution he had taken, that a bank bill of fifty pounds, which he then put into her hand, should be the last : adding, that he expected she should within one week leave the house. To this heavy charge she was not in a condition to reply, nor did he stay to see whether she would attempt it, but hastily got into the coach, which immediately drove from the door.
Thus was Melissa a third time, by a sudden and unexpected desertion, exposed to penury and distress,
with this aggravation, that ease and affluence were become habitual ; and that though she was not so helpless as at the death of her uncle, she was exposed to yet greater danger; for few that have been used to slumber upon down, and wake to festivity, can resist the allurements of vice, who still offers ease and plenty, when the alternative are a flock bed and a garret, short meals, coarse apparel, and perpetual labour.
Meliffa, as soon as the had recovered from the stupor which had seized her upon so astonishing and dreadful a change of fortune, determined not to accept the bounty of a person who imagined her to be unworthy, of it; nor to attempt her justification, while it would render her veracity suspected, and appear to proceed only from the hope of being restored to a state of fplendid dependence, from which jealousy or caprice might again at any time remove her, without cause and without notice : fhe had not, indeed, any hope of being ever able to defend herself against her accuser upon equal terms; nor did she know how to subfift a fingle day, when she had returned his bill and quitted his house: yet such was the dignity of her spirit, that she immediately inclosed it in a blank cover, directed to him at his country seat, and calling up the maid who had been left to take care of the house, fent her immediately with it to the post-office. The tears then burst out, which the agitation of her mind had before restrained ; and when the servant returned, she told her all that had happened, and asked her advice what she should do. The gir), after the first emotions of wonder and pity had subsided, told her that she had a lister who lodged in a reputable house, and took in plain-work, to whom she would be welcome, as she could aflift her in her business, of which she had often more than she could do; and with whom she might continue till some more eligible situation could be obtained. Meliffa listened to this proposal as to the voice of Heaven ; her mind was suddenly relieved from the most tormenting perplexity, from the dread of wandering about without money or