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since lost her mother. Somewhat puzzled and abashed by her manner, Alfred experienced a painful sinking of the heart. Was she a coquette, thought he, that she would not recognise him ? Could he have been deceived ? Could this self-possessed and indifferent lady be the tender, the kind, the gentle Helen, whom fancy had so often painted, and whom he expected to see trembling and shrinking with a sweet bashfulness when brought into the actual presence of him who had so long been the sharer of her every thought? He felt like one in a dream. At length he summoned courage to recur to their first meeting at Lady S- 's ball. She replied, that she well remembered the ball, as it had been her first, but she did not recollect having had the pleasure of seeing him there. “But forgive me,” she added, hastily, and with a smile, observing the shade that crossed his face,—"you must forgive me, Mr. Fitzallen, if I cannot exactly call to memory every partner that led me out at my first ball." This was said with so much frankness and courtesy that it was impossible to doubt its sincerity. Alfred felt bewildered; something was wrong, and he could hardly tell what, in the confusion of his thoughts; but at all events he came to the resolution of unravelling the mystery, cost what it might. The delicacy and awkwardness of his present situation was as nothing to the intense pain that throbbed in his temples, and weighed down his whole being; and without further preamble, he frankly, though timidly, stated that he had been under the impression, for many months, of having had the honour and happiness of a correspondence with her. The lady coloured deeply, and astonishment was depicted on her countenance, and she asked, in a haughty tone, how could he suppose that she would enter into a clandestine correspondence, such as he described, with a perfect stranger ? Alfred answered her as best he could, and gasped to hide himself from the sight of her who had been his dream by night and his thought by day. Helen had lost none of her loveliness since he last beheld her; the same stately step and graceful mien were there, the same earnest eyes and musical voice; but she was not the Helen his fancy had painted ; and he left the house under the mournful impression that he had been deceived — doubly deceived - how or by whom he knew not, and that he had been worshipping an imaginary being and not the real Helen B With rapid steps he hurried through the city; the idol that had so long possessed his heart, thus suddenly shattered, it throbbed with a new and strange sensation of agony, and an acute sense of shame at having been betrayed into making such an avowal as he had made to Miss B- To seek comfort in the sympathy of Armand was his first thought, and entering his apartment he was met by him with his usual happy countenance, but, observing the altered looks of Fitzallen, Armand started back.
“Armand !” said he, scarcely able to articulate the words, “I have been deceived,—basely deceived ! how and by whom I know not !”
“ Come, come, Alfred,” returned his friend ; “you must not take it so badly as this; it was all a joke amongst us. I assure you it was all a joke. I had no idea you would feel it thus. Come, man, you must cheer up and forgive us! It was but a jest, and you must forget it.”
Alfred stood erect and motionless, as if rooted to the earth. His lips of an ashy paleness, his eyes dilated, and his whole countenance overspread with the pallor of death, whilst Armand continued,
“To say the truth, when we commenced the correspondence we had no intention of carrying it on for any length, but we did not know how to put a stop to it; and when we all got thoroughly tired of it, we thought your visiting Helen was the best way to end it, and therefore I recommended you to go. And here," continued he, opening a small desk and taking out a
packet, “to convince you it was all amongst ourselves, here are your letters.”
Armand did not observe the fearful workings in the countepance of his friend during this speech, but as he turned to lay the packet on the table, the words—"And it was you—you - ” broke from Fitzallen, in a deep sepulchral voice, and he fell heavily on the floor. Horror-stricken and terrified, Armand called loudly for assistance. The room was quickly filled by the party of friends, who had been on the watch to hear the result of his visit, and who had thus, for their own amusement, deceived a companion who was a favourite with all. Alfred was carried to bed, and medical aid promptly called in.
“He is very ill,” said Armand to his companions, as they quitted the chamber by order of the physician. “Is it possible his feelings could have thus overcome him ?"
“We carried it too far," said several, with one voice.
“Ah !” said a pale young man, who had not before spoken, “it was kept up too long. I often advised you to beware of such a jest; but you all laughed at what you termed my 'fine feelings. The shock he received during his visit was as much as he could bear, for I saw him, as he returned, like a blasted oak -- he who went forth in the morning full of life and vigour ! Then the double blow wbich Armand's confession gave him has wholly prostrated him. God grant it may end well!” .
He left the room; and how truly had he spoken! It was the second blow that had given the deepest wound. In his anguish and humiliation he had fled for sympathy to the bosom of his friend, and he heard from the lips of that friend that he was the deceiver! The strong man was overcome by the wild tumult of his feelings, and sunk beneath them. The following morning he was pronounced in a brain-fever; and that tidings brought a terrible lesson to those who had sported with his