Victor's Triumph Sequel to A Beautiful Fiend

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Thus he grew
Tolerant of what he half disdained. And she,
Perceiving that she was but half disdained,
Began to break her arts with graver fits—
Turn red or pale, and often, when they met,
Sigh deeply, or, all-silent, gaze upon him
With such a fixed devotion, that the old man,
Though doubtful, felt the flattery, and at times
Would flatter his own wish, in age, for love,
And half believe her true.—Tennyson.

As soon as the subtle siren was left alone in the drawing-room with the aged clergyman she began weaving her spells around him as successfully as did the beautiful enchantress Vivien around the sage Merlin.

Throwing her bewildering dark eyes up to his face she murmured in hurried tones:

"You will not betray me to this family? Oh, consider! I am so young and so helpless!"

"And so beautiful," added the old man under his breath, as he gazed with involuntary admiration upon her fair, false face. Then, aloud, he said: "I have already told you, wretched child, that I would forbear to expose you so long as you should conduct yourself with strict propriety here; but no longer."

"You do not trust me. Ah, you do not see that one false step with its terrible consequences has been such an awful and enduring lesson to me that I could not make another! I am safer now from the possibility of error than is the most innocent and carefully guarded child. Oh, can you not understand this?" she asked, pathetically.

And her argument was a very specious and plausible one, and it made an impression.

"I can well believe that the fearful retribution that followed so fast upon your 'false step,' as you choose to call it, has been and will be an awful warning to you. But some warnings come too late. What can be your long future life?" he sadly inquired.

"Alas, what?" she echoed, with a profound sigh. "Even under the most propitious circumstances—what? If I am permitted to stay here I shall be buried alive in this country house, without hope of resurrection. Perhaps fifty years I may have to live here. The old lady will die. Emma will marry. Her children will grow up and marry. And in all the changes of future years I shall vegetate here without change, and without hope except in the better world. And yet, dreary as the prospect is, it is the best that I can expect, the best that I can even desire, and much better than I deserve," she added, with a humility that touched the old man's heart.

"I feel sorry for you, child; very, very sorry for your blighted young life. Poor child, you can never be happy again; but listen—you can be good!" he said, very gently.

And then he suddenly remembered what her bewildering charms had made him for a moment forget—that was, that this unworthy girl had been actually on the point of marriage with an honorable man when Death stepped in and put an end to a foolish engagement.

So, after a painful pause, he said, slowly:

"My child, I have heard that you were about to be married to Charles Cavendish, when his sudden death arrested the nuptials....