« ForrigeFortsæt »
'Tis done! 'tis done! that fatal blow
Has stretch'd him on the bloody plain ;
Thence never shalt thou rise again.
Lay of the Last Minstrel.
O'Hara reached the lodgings of his countryman, and cautiously knocking at the door, was admitted by the servant, who appeared in considerable alarm ; recognising with visible pleasure his master's companion, he proceeded to inform him that the Captain, after being absent for a short time after dinner, had returned completely out of his senses. For the first time in his life he had treated him with great harshness; and on his hesitating to leave him in the distracted state in which he seemed to be, furiously commanded his absence, in a tone which precluded any refusal. For some time
he had continued in considerable agitation of mind, pacing the chamber with rapid and unequal steps : latterly he appeared more composed, and the servant imagined that he had perhaps thrown himself on the bed. . O'Hara gently ascended the stairs, and tapped at the door ; an angry voice from within demanded who knocked, but on ascertaining that his kinsman was there, desired him to enter. He was leaning against the chimney-piece, his eyes wild and wandering, his look unsettled, seemingly abandoning himself to despair. O'Hara attempted in vain to offer some consolation to the sufferer, but was hastily interrupted,“Would you have believed it, had not your own ears listened to the tale, that Henry Edwards was the gallant honourable gentleman he is ? Bleeding, fainting, expiring, he was carried to the house of innocence,--but peace and happiness left that dwelling when the traitor entered. He was admitted, for humanity abode there; every kindness was lavished on him; an angel, yes, a pure, artless, unsuspicious angel, nursed him tenderly; he recovered, and could he but be grateful? Oh, yes, yes, he flat
tered, he sighed, he swore that he passionately loved her. She, the child of nature, believed him; she consented to give up home, kindred, religion. And when he had effected all this, for more the villair could not effect, he deserted her, deceived her, murdered her and an hysteric sob concluded a speech delivered with all the frantic enunciation of a maniac. The last burst of passion, however, exhausted his strength, and sinking down on a chair beside him, O'Hara saw with delight tears falling fast upon the floor : as he expected, the poignancy of his distress was relieved, and with calmness, but in terms of the most heartfelt sorrow, he lamented the fate of the girl to whom he declared he hạd been tenderly attached. His friend remained for a considerable time, and then rose to depart; Edwards having promised that he would retire to bed, and endeavour to compose himself to sleep.
It was late when the Captain retired to his lodgings; the road leading to his home was totally deserted, the inhabitants having long since closed their houses for the night. Now
and then some lonely sentinel at a corner challenged and received the countersign ; this was common to every garrison-town, and was apparently but a part of military form. Although Boston was filled with British soldiery, their discipline prevented tumult or confusion. At times, through the stillness of the night, the “ All's well” from the shipping moored under cover of the cannon of the town, was heard, mellowed by the distance; but it was a sound rather calculated to allay than excite alarm. It was known that a large body of Americans was encamped in the neighbourhood, but that they should commence a course of active operations was by no means to be apprehended, and the earlier part of the night of the 16th of June passed in uninterrupted tranquillity.
Mr. and Mrs. O'Hara had been late in retiring to their chamber ; interested in the events of the preceding evening, his sleep was restless and disturbed ; a bugle, but scarcely audible, seemed to sound; he started, and all was quiet. He lay listening in anxious suspense, and the bugle sounded distinctly. He arose in silence, fearing the slumbers of his
lady should be broken, and was hurrying on his uniform, when a signal gun from the shipping was discharged. Mrs. O'Hara was fearfully awakened, and as her husband endeavoured to calm her alarm, the drums beat ; a knocking at the door was heard, and the voice of Edwards demanded admission. The Captain hastened to the outer room to receive him, and was astonished to see a covered caravan, drawn up beneath the window.
“ Rise quickly, O'Hara, the Americans possess the hill; the battery behind your house will open in a few minutes,--my lodgings are retired, -remove Mrs. O'Hara instantly to them.” The lady and her servants were hastily put in motion, and before the eastern bastion had sufficient light to train its cannon upon the enemy's works, Mrs. O'Hara was landed in safety in the abode of her husband's friend.
As the caravan proceeded, Edwards addressed his companion,-“ After you left me, I sat down to write ; I finished what I was engaged in, and determined to visit the place where my lost Rachel is interred. I succeeded in pass