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the door at which Charles had entered the dwelling. -
The chief of the robbers was alone.— “You trust me,” said he, as Charles descended, “ and I will shew you that I return it. For your own sake, tell me truly, are you sure that the bills you have given on Bologna will be paid immediately 2” and he regarded the young Englishman with a look that seemed intended to pry into his inmost thoughts. ". “ Certainly,” replied Charles calmly; “without any doubt. May I ask what made you put that question now 2°
“The reason I did so,” said the robber, “was, that you gave your promise for so large a sum in so careless a manner, that it excited a suspicion in my mind, that you did it to gain time to escape; should this have proved the case, my companions would soon have forgot all their kindness for you, and would have murdered you the moment they found that the ransom was not paid.”
“I cannot doubt that it will be paid,” answered Mr. Melville, “for I have credit on the banker there to a much larger amount.”
“At a word,” said the robber, coming close to Charles, and speaking in subdued voice, “they are like tamed wild beasts, a slight thing will exasperate them—any delay may prove fatal, and therefore, as a hint,” and he still farther lowered his voice, “make your escape if you can. I cannot aid you; but get my sister for your friend; she has a good heart, and would not willingly see blood shed;” and as he said this, he raised his finger, to intimate that he did not wish for a reply, and pointed to the stairs, by which Charles again returned to the room where he had left his cousin.
The robber's sister was pouring out a cup of wine for Mary as Charles entered the room. It did not indeed seem the pure Falernian; but to Mary, who was again beginning to droop, it proved a very necessary refreshment. There was but one cup, out of which Mary had been drinking; and as she took it from her lip, she hesitated for a moment; it was but for a moment, and she offered it to Charles, who, had it been of nectar, would have valued the touch those lips had left far more than what it contained. “I drink it,” said the robber's sister, “to keep away thought; but I suppose you two have no thoughts you would wish to chase from you.” Mary smiled, and shook her head— “Plenty " she replied; “plenty, at present, I am sure we both have.” Not long after Charles's return, their companion left them; and finding his cousin sufficiently recovered, he detailed to her all that had occurred, and asked her if she had courage to endeavour to escape with him 2 Mary replied, that whatever he thought right she would do; but, at present, she could see no means of effecting what he proposed. But when she was informed that the idea came from the chief of the robbers himself, she began to entertain greater hopes, and it was agreed that they should speak to his sister as soon as she returned. This, however, did not take place for nearly two hours; and in the mean time Charles felt the delicate situation in which Mary was placed, and endeavoured, by the most kind, affectionate, yet respectful behaviour, to relieve her from the embarrassment which she must necessarily have experienced; he even reproached himself for the warmth of manner into which he had been betrayed, by the pleasure of seeing her recover from the temporary insensibility into which she had at first fallen; not that he now at all doubted his own feelings, or the course he had in future to pursue, for in proportion as he had long deluded himself, in regard to his affection for her, now that he was
- undeceived, undeceived, he felt it in its fullest force, perhaps more keenly than if he had never doubted it; but at the same time that he began to wish that Mary's heart might be his, he began to fear that it might not, and thought that he might have offended her, or given her pain, by the ardent burst of attachment which those circumstances had called forth. At length the step of the robber's sister was again heard upon the stairs, and she brought them in a better dinner than many an Italian inn can boast, sitting down to partake it with them. The table was of coarse plain wood—the cups out of which they drank were of horn, not liable to break in any sudden removal, and for a third chair (the room afforded but two in reality), Charles was obliged to make use of the corner of the bedstead, the principal piece of furniture which the place contained; but the manners and deportment of the robber's sister, as she did the WOL. II. H honours