Billeder på siden

" I hope, my dear O'Hara, this unpleasant business has been exaggerated ; surely the Major would think too much of rank and character to notice a hired bully?"

“ Oh! fear nothing, Constance, for my father; I shall take care that he does not come in contact with that bravo.”

“ But how, Henry_not by"-(she became agitated)" not by quarrelling yourself ?" and she turned her keen glance upon him.

“Oh! no,” he replied, with a smile; “ I have only to turn the cudgels of Castle Carra against the doughty Captain.”

• Would to Heaven he was drummed out of the county; but, indeed, Henry, I was miserable about you I mean your father; and, as I had a better chance of hearing news here, I declined going with mamma to make a sick visit to the Rector's lady."

The conversation took another turn, and Henry spoke with tolerable ease on indifferent subjects, but frequent reference to his watch, and restless looks to the street, betrayed the anxiety he was so careful to conceal.

“ Nay, O'Hara, tell me not that something momentous is not occupying your thoughts I see it, I remark the altered manner.”

“ Constance, believe me that I have little wish to leave you; but, in fact, I have an ap. pointment relative to election arrangements which must force me, although reluctantly, to bid you good bye for this day.”

- And shall I see you to-morrow ?" and the emphasis she laid on to-morrow, struck Henry to the heart.

- Oh yes,” he replied, with assumed gaiety, * certainly; and see, there comes my friend."

“ Your friend! What! is Bitter Bob engaged in this business ? Henry, for God's sake! are you involved in any quarrel-tell me truly

-I am interested, deeply interested as I would be for my brother. And Heavens! there is Surgeon D'Arcy with Moutray."

" Why, Constance, the truth is, Moutray is going to fight, and I am to be his friend. Adieu, dear Constance,--dear sister, -I will come to you in an hour."

Dodo,” she faintly replied, as she sank upon the couch.

“ Hark! Moutray calls me;" and leaving the apartment, he mounted his friend's gig.

As the vehicle started, he looked for a moment to the window-his young friend had risen from the sofa ; he saw her face—it was agitated ; the momentary look could not be mistaken, and O'Hara must have been dull indeed, had he not suspected that Lady Constantia loved him. If his thoughts dwelt upon this gentle subject, they were soon interrupted by Moutray's entering on the business they were hastening to transact. He coolly gave him his directions and advice, entering with great sang froid into discussions on distances and signals. In a few minutes the gig stopped, and Moutray remarking they were first upon the ground, quietly unlocked the pistol-case, and produced the necessary apparatus.

The place where affairs of honour were usually decided was within a short distance of the town. . It was a level meadow, surrounded by rising grounds, and afforded ample accommodation for the hundreds who had flocked to witness the decision of the quarrel with the same com posure with which they would have

same o



crowded to a cock-fight. Three or four of O'Hara's friends were waiting for him, and they accompanied him through the spectators, who were all decorated with the insignia of their respective parties, until they reached the scene of action—it was the centre of the field, and marked by a gentle undulation of the surface. Here several lives had been forfeited at the shrine of mistaken honour, and a few stones pointed out the exact spot where one had lately fallen. At this little monument Henry awaited the approach of Felton and his friends : they were not long absent, and the seconds retired a few paces to arrange preliminaries.

If there be a moment when the duellist feels agitated, it is at this trying time. Amidst the dead silence of the spectators, the stepping of the allotted distance, and all the usual preparations for the affair, were quickly transacted. Henry felt neither trepidation nor dismay, and, his antagonist looked on with equal indiffe. rence ; their feelings, however, were very dissimilar with one, a chivalrous devotion had . sent the son to battle for the parent, and sub


stitute his own person to protect that of his gallant father. The other's, was the cold. blooded hardihood of a practised homicide ; he stood as he had frequently done before, and without a pang of remorse, prepared to hurry his youthful opponent from existence.

The seconds had assigned the respective situation to each principal, when a buzz among the distant crowd turned the attention of the parties to the road, and a horseman was seen advancing rapidly. Some persons having called out “ the Sheriff is coming," the seconds in. stantly placed the pistols in their friends' hands, retired, and gave the signal. Henry fired without hesitation, but Felton deliberated for a few moments. “ Shame-murder," began to be muttered when he discharged his pistol the ball passed through Henry's hat, and Fel. ton, with a savage oath, muttered something to mad Andy, accounting for the failure of his fire. The weapons were again prepared, when Thornton came up and implored O'Hara to aim steadily, and not let the ruffian take his life. Felton's conduct, however, had already

« ForrigeFortsæt »