Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

without appearing to observe that Thornton was beside her.

6 Well, why in the devil's name is that old vampire roaming about the house ? If there be not a sulphureous smell in the library-faugh! But in solemn seriousness I wish to speak to you, Harry. There is a strange inexplicable manner~a reserve, distrust, mystery, or whatever you please to call it, about yourself and your mansion, that has set the world gossipping. Your best and warmest friends have noticed it, and I determined, coûte qui coûte, to sport my opinion the first opportunity, and—”

O'Hara coolly added, “read the riddle for the edification of the lovers of marvel and mystery. And must I be accountable to the world for my feelings and shall the rabble take cognizance of the motives of my actions. · The world and I have parted for ever—to its praise or censure I am insensible let it dislike or malign me, we are then equal; for mankind generally have my fixed abhorrence and unmeasured contempt.

As O'Hara uttered this rhapsody, the venerable porter knocked at the door, and announced

that a lady was in the drawing-room, and requested a few minutes' conversation with his

master.

Do you know her ? Has she sent in her name ?"

No, Sir; she scarcely waited to give me her commands until she entered the room, and shut the door."

“ This is indeed a strange visiter,” said O'Hara, as he rose from his chair. : “ What would the world say of this, William ?”

“ That it was most extraordinary, and fully justified their allegations. Pray, make this interview as short as possible, for it grows

duskish, and I must soon return to town.”

Since his return to Castle Carra, Henry had never left the apartments which had been occupied by his late father. The fading twilight shone gloomily through the hall windows, the dark colouring of the glass scarcely allowing the feeble ray to penetrate.

66 It is indeed a late hour for a lonely female to visit this melancholy house,” thought O'Hara, as he stood before the drawing-room door. fortunate like myself, for none other would come here ; it is the call of misery, and I must

66 Some un

answer it.” He paused as he entered-it had been his mother's favourite sitting-room, and memorials of the deceased were numerous. The musical instruments—Indian cabinets, and all the articles of ornamental furniture, recalled her memory. Above the high chimney-piece, portraits of both his parents were suspended; he gazed for a moment on the outlines of those loved forms, when a heavy sigh reminded him of the object of his coming. The unknown was standing in the deep recess of a Gothic casement, and although partially concealed by the drapery which fell in ample folds from the ceiling to the floor, O'Hara could perceive that the figure was youthful, and her attire rich and elegant. Resolving to abridge this unsought for interview, he respectfully inquired what had occasioned him the honour of an unexpected visit, and delicately alluding to the recent calamity rendering all communication with strangers unpleasant, he begged to be favoured with her commands. He stood with his arms folded across his breast-there was a moment of embarrassing silence. At length a voice, whose sweet tones were well remembered, slowly replied

“ I came, Henry, to apprize you of imminent danger; I accidentally overheard the conversation of a stranger who was officially communicating the expected rising of the Northern rebels to my father ; your name was mentioned as their intended chief, and your immediate ar. rest was determined on. Castle Carra will shortly be visited by the military. You are the best judge how far this intelligence affects you; and, as the time is short, I have taken a step which the world will heavily censure in thus forgetting the delicacy of my sex, in my anxiety to warn you promptly of impending

peril.”

She spoke with considerable difficulty, agitated by feelings too powerful to be controlled. The first impulse of O'Hara had placed him by her side: for a moment he looked on her beautiful face--for a moment he pressed her to his throbbing breast-and, as he led her to a sofa, her trembling hand and tottesing step betrayed the poignancy of her emotions

6. And is there still a being in existence to whom the fate of Henry O'Hara is not indif. ferent? Is there one to step between him and

his doom ? and that one Constance Loftus? Alas! fond girl ; your kindness only lacerates a wretched heart. I imagined that between me and mortality every tie was snapped, and, in this desperate conviction, believed that the whole world could now afford no pleasure but the satisfaction of accomplished vengeance; but nature triumphs, and amid the chaos of a desolated bosom, the smouldering sparks of love lie unextinguished.” (He paused.) “ Yes, Constance, you conquer in my weakness; and the tear which anguish, and misery, and madness could never force, is offered to you.” His head sunk upon his hand, and for a few moments there was an awful and breathless silence. “ Constance," he said, in a voice of peculiar sadness," you have entered the house of mourning probably on the last night its devoted master will sit within those walls which for centuries have sheltered his forefathersand now the best, the latest love of one who felt for you as a brother, and all the remnant of mortal feeling which this chilled and withered breast yet holds, are offered as a poor memento of how fondly a miserable man, amid the total

« ForrigeFortsæt »