Page:Devonshire Characters and Strange Events.djvu/60

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26
DEVONSHIRE CHARACTERS

that he was about to go into the country, and asked permission to escort Mrs. and Miss Foote to the opera, and to tender to them his private box. To this the lady consented. As it happened, Colonel Berkeley with a Mr. Manse happened to be in the pit that evening, and the Colonel at once dispatched his friend to the box to request Hayne to speak with him in the pit. When the young buck came to him, Berkeley asked him for an explanation of his conduct with respect to Miss Foote, and desired a meeting on the following day. When they met the Colonel disclosed to Hayne everything relative to his connexion with Maria Foote, and told him that he was the father by her of two children. On hearing this Mr. Hayne at once wrote to the lady to withdraw his proposal of marriage. She, in reply, requested an interview with him in order to explain the circumstances. This took place at Marlborough in the presence of Mrs. Foote. The young man (he was aged only twenty-two) was moved by her sad story, and on his return to town found that his flame had not been quenched by the revelation. So he penned a letter to Maria, stating that his feelings remained unaltered, and begging her to marry him. After some negotiation she agreed to this, and at Hayne's advice the children were sent to Colonel Berkeley, who had asked for them. Hayne proposed to settle £40,000 on Miss Foote, for himself and her to receive the dividends during their joint lives, and after the death of the survivor of them, to be distributed equally among the children of the marriage, if any; and if, at the death of Mr. Hayne, his wife should survive him, but have no children, then £20,000 was to become the absolute property of the widow. The day for the wedding was fixed to take place on the ensuing 4th September, and "May God strike me