all this while, I say, I had such constant terror upon my mind, as gave me every now and then very terrible shocks, and which made me expect something very frightful upon every accident of life.
In a word, it never lightened or thundered, but I expected the next flash would penetrate my vitals, and melt the sword (soul) in this scabbard of flesh; it never blew a storm of wind, but I expected the fall of some stack of chimneys, or some part of the house, would bury me in its ruins; and so of other things.
But I shall perhaps have occasion to speak of all these things again by-and-by; the case before us was in a manner settled; we had full four thousand pounds per annum for our future subsistence, besides a vast sum in jewels and plate; and, besides this, I had about eight thousand pounds reserved in money which I kept back from him, to provide for my two daughters, of whom I have much yet to say.
With this estate, settled as you have heard, and with the best husband in the world, I left England again; I had not only, in human prudence, and by the nature of the thing, being now married and settled in so glorious a manner I say, I had not only abandoned all the gay and wicked course which I had gone through before, but I began to look back upon it with that horror and that detestation which is the certain companion, if not the forerunner, of repentance.
Sometimes, the wonders of my present circumstances would work upon me, and I should have some raptures upon my soul, upon the subject of my coming so smoothly out of the arms of hell, that I was not ingulfed in ruin, as most who lead such lives are, first or last; but this was a flight too high for me; I was not come to that repentance that is raised from a sense of Heaven's goodness; I repented of the crime, but it was of another and lower kind of repentance, and rather moved by my fears of vengeance, than from a sense of being spared from being punished, and landed safe after a storm.
The first thing which happened after our coming to the Hague (where we lodged for a while) was, that my spouse saluted me one morning with the title of countess, as he said he intended to do, by having the inheritance to which the honour was annexed made over to him. It is true, it was a reversion, but it soon fell, and in the meantime, as all the brothers of a count are called counts, so I had the title by courtesy, about three years before I had it in reality.
I was ageeably surprised at this coming so soon, and would have had my spouse have taken the money which it cost him out of my stock, but he laughed at me, and went on.
I was now in the height of my glory and prosperity, and I was called the Countess de ——; for I had obtained that unlocked for, which I secretly aimed at, and was really the main reason of my coming abroad. I took now more servants, lived in a kind of magnificence that I had not been acquainted with, was called 'your honour' at every word, and had a coronet behind my coach; though at the same time I knew little or nothing of my new pedigree.
The first thing that my spouse took upon him to manage, was to declare ourselves married eleven years before our arriving in Holland; and consequently to acknowledge our little son, who was yet in England, to be legitimate; order him to be brought over, and added to his family, and acknowledge him to be our own.