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“ Dear madam," I replied, “ try and compose yourself, and be assured that I will exert myself to the uttermost for your comfort.”
She told me that she scarcely ever slept, and when she did, the most hideous dreams haunted her.
Her mind was evidently in as weak a state as her body, and I resolved to seek out an English clergyman, who, by his prayers, advice, and exhortations might speak peace to her wounded spirit.
In the mean time I was anxious to remove her from the miserable closet which she now occupied, and also out of the reach of the incessant noise of the mangle and the chattering of the children in the next room.
I accordingly went to her kind hostess, and begged to know whether a more airy apartment could not be procured in the house for her afflicted lodger.
“Oh! yes, mam’selle," said the woman; “ the two rooms below us are disengaged, but neither I nor the poor creature can pay for them.”
“Go and secure them,” I replied, “ and I will undertake to settle all the expenses.”
She soon returned, saying that I might take possession immediately. I did so, and having a good fire lighted, and the bed and linen'well aired, I returned to the poor countess, asking her to allow the laundress and myself to wrap her in blankets, and convey her to the apartments I had hired for her use.
It was some time before I could prevail upon her to consent to the removal, as she declared that she ought not to have any indulgence, but to be left to die in the place where I had found her.
At length I prevailed. In raising her I was shocked to find that she was so wasted that I could carry her myself with perfect ease, and without the slightest assistance.
Though I was as careful as possible, the effort was too great for her weak and exhausted frame, and she fainted as I laid her on the soft, fresh bed which we had prepared for her.
Some of my linen was at the laundress's, and I desired that it might be kept for the use of the invalid. I likewise begged that Lisette, the kind daughter of the washerwoman, would give up her whole time to wait upon the unhappy lady, and I had a bed put up in the same room for her.
After assuring them that they should be amply remunerated for their past and present services, and leaving some money to procure what might be still necessary, I reluctantly took my leave, promising to come again the next day.
Before I went, the poor lady beckoned me to her bed-side, and imprinting a kiss upon my hand, thanked me so humbly for my kindness that I burst into tears. : “Kind Theresa,” she sobbed out, “add one more act of kindness to those you have already conferred upon me. Speak to my injured to the earl, for his lost, abandoned Emmeline.
“ Tell him of my bitter repentance, my broken heart, and as he hopes to be forgiven himself, implore him to forgive his guilty wife. Tell him, on my knees I pray night and day to see him once more. Once more to hear the sound of that voice, which, in my happy days of innocence, sounded so delightful in my ears, and which now alone can speak peace to
my soul! And my girls, Theresa, my poor deserted darlings—implore, conjure him to permit me once more, if only for one moment, to rest these dying eyes on their sweet faces.”
As she continued at broken intervals to utter these urgent prayers, sobs and tears nearly choking her, I was little less agitated than herself, and could only promise, though faintly, (for I had small hopes of success) to execute her painful commission.
It was more than three hours before I could leave her, from the time I entered the house, and I hurried back to the Place Vendome, guided by one of the children.
As I entered the apartments of the young ladies I thought my heart would burst, as, unconscious of their mother's dying agony, they came jumping, full of spirits to meet me, asking why I had stayed so long away? It was with extreme difficulty I could answer them with calmness. . I lost no time in seeking an interview with the dowager, and in narrating to her ladyship the painful scene I had just witnessed.
She certainly seemed affected, but her indignation against the young countess had been so great, that I was not surprised, though greatly grieved, when she declared, that though she would take care " the infamous creature” (as she called her) should not want, she should use her influence with her son to prevent either him or her grandchildren from ever seeing her again.
It was quite in vain that I urged the prayers and agony of the repentant lady; she dismissed me in anger, saying, that she was the best judge of what ought to be done in this painful conjuncture.
I passed a sleepless night, in dread that the dowager would not allow me to visit her unhappy daughter-in-law again.
However, I made up my mind, that sooner than be guilty of such cruel neglect, I would relinquish my situation, and give myself up to the service of the deserted, repentant, and dying countess.
The following morning, after the young ladies and I had breakfasted, the dowager entered the school-room, looking flushed and agitated.