Page:Devonshire Characters and Strange Events.djvu/59

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25
MARIA FOOTE

till his claim was allowed he could not well marry her, as such a marriage, he asserted, would prejudice his suit to recover the forfeited earldom of Berkeley, but he solemnly vowed his intention to make her his wife the moment that he could do so without injuring his cause. By this means he deluded the unfortunate girl into a connexion with him that lasted for five years, and during all that time he made her no allowance beyond the payment of those expenses which he himself had led her to incur, and the presents he made to her did not in all that time amount to £100. In 1821, Maria bore the Colonel a child, and had again expectations of becoming a mother in 1824, and in the June of that year all connexion ceased between them.

In the spring of 1823, Mr. Joseph Hayne, a young man of fortune, commonly known, from the colour of his coat, as "Pea-green" Hayne, saw Maria Foote at Covent Garden Theatre, was struck with her beauty, called at her house in Keppel Street, and invited Mr. Foote to spend some days with him at Kitson Hall in Staffordshire, one of his seats. The invitation was accepted, and there Hayne informed the father that he desired to pay his addresses to his charming daughter. Mr. Foote hurried back to town, and as Maria was expecting her confinement, sent off his wife with her into the country under the feigned name of Forbes, to remain in concealment till after that event.

In the following January, Hayne again called at Keppel Street, and announced to Mrs. Foote that he seriously desired to be united in marriage to her daughter. Mrs. Foote informed him that Maria was engaged to be married to Colonel Berkeley, and that her daughter could not listen to his suit unless the Colonel failed to fulfil his promise. Hayne then said