Billeder på siden

formed that his Lordship was out, and Lady Loftus had driven to the country, but the servant said that Lady Constantia was at home.

Thornton, after a momentary hesitation, sent up his name, requested to be announced, and was immediately introduced to the drawingroom, and into the presence of the woman he adored,

She rose from the sofa, and presenting her hand, motioned him to sit beside her. Thornton made a few confused inquiries after her health, which had visibly suffered much during the short time which elapsed since he had last

The hectic which suffused her face and bosom when he entered, soon died away, and was succeeded by a death-like paleness. The hand he pressed felt hot and feverish, and it required little penetration to remark the fearful change which mental anguish had made on the health of the gentle girl. Neither spoke for some moments, till Lady Constantia seemed to have gained sufficient composure to break this painful silence.

“I had hoped, Mr. Thornton, to have spoken to you before now, and thanked


seen her.

for your

kind and delicate attention on that awful night when accident placed me under your protection, but the dreadful events of the last week have prevented me from seeing you—nor indeed could I have supported the visit, even of a friend. Good heavens! what mental suffering have I endured. Obliged to hide my feelings from an unpitying world, for none knew and none could know my misery. But why weary you, Mr. Thornton, with what your happier fate has exempted you from?

from? Oh God! little can you imagine the bitter agony which waits on hopeless love."

Poor William ! the wound which rankled in his breast was innocently lacerated. After a short pause she continued—“Every moment I tremble, lest I should hear of the death or capture of Say, dear Mr. Thornton, is there a chance that he lives--that he may escape.”

“ He still lives."

“ Lives-lives; but oh! he is a prisoner, and his death is now too certain.”

She was nearly overcome by her fears, while Thornton endeavoured to relieve her apprehensions.

" He lives, and is at present in safe concealment, and I came here to consult with


the best means for effecting his escape.”

In a moment the colour rushed to her wan cheeks: her eyes sparkled as she caught his hand, and exultingly exclaimed, , “ Can Constance assist in his delivery ? Oh! speak-howwhere—when ?"

Thornton gave her the letter, and briefly explained, that Alice More alone could tell the place of O'Hara’s retreat.

“ How fortunate ! she is now in my dressingroom ;” and ringing the bell, in a few minutes Alice glided into the room.

Thornton started, as he remarked her altered appearance. Her countenance had an additional wildness in its expression, and her eyes flashed with all the excitation of insanity. She cast a piercing look over William's military dress, while Constance, in an agony of delight, communicated the joyful intelligence of her lover's safety.

Alice, however, rested a suspicious look on Thornton; but when she broke the seal of the billet--when the ring met her view-when she

[merged small][ocr errors]

read the mysterious language in which the scroll was couched-she waved her bony arm, and muttering rapidly, “Ay, ay, faithful to the last-come, we may be interrupted here to your chamber, lady,"before either could reply, she stalked from the apartment, and Thornton and Lady Constance followed.


The star that on thy birth shone bright,
Now casts a dim uncertain light;
A threatening sky obscures its rays,
And shadows o'er thy future days.


While his absent friend and rejected mistress were arranging their plans with Alice More, O'Hara, unconscious of the efforts making for his escape, was awaiting anxiously Emily's accustomed visit. The anniversary of his birth had returned, and in rapid succession recalled to memory many similar periods, when his natal day found him enjoying domestic tranquillity, and possessed of friends and fortune. His home was before his eyes; but that home was a heap of ruins

“ The leader of a broken host," a price was put upon his head ; and encompassed by enemies on every side, like the wan derer of scripture, man's hand seemed to be against him.

No wonder, when Emily câmè, that she per

« ForrigeFortsæt »