« AnteriorContinuar »
more, as a matter of gratitude for the kinde ness and attention she bad displayed towards him, while labouring under the consequences of the accident he had met with, , than from any strong affection. Though he was kind and liberal to a degree, and certainly personally admired her, he never, she said, professed any very ardent love, nor made her any promises of constant rea' gard.
Finding that in all probability the idea would never occur to him, unless suggested by some one else, her aunt informa ed him at length, that her niece's malady proceeded from remorse for her connexion with him. A surgeon was found to pronounce her within a few hours of death, and a priest appeared to administer extreme unction; but this last rite of their religion he declared he could not perform in the agitated state of the penitent's mind. The young
officer was a sincere Catho, lic, and he was moved; the aunt went
upon her knees to him, to relieve the last moments of her niece, by giving her his hand. In an eyil hour he consented, and the narrator became a second time a bride, with her real husband as the witness to her marriage with another, who soon find ing how much he had been deceived, indignantly quitted both her and the country in which he had sacrificed all his future prospects.—“ He offered me, however,” she continued,
“ either an yearly maintenance, or a large sum of money at once. My husband made me choose the latter, and
At this part of her tale they were disturbed by a noise below, and the robber's sister suddenly rose, and left them. She had not been long gone when night closed in; and the light gradually dying away, bequeathed them to total darkness, leaving them in a situation the most unpleasant in every way. Never, however, had Charles Melville appeared to such advantage as he then did, for he contrived to
mingle the most kind solicitude and the most unrepressed marks of attachment, with a gentle, even perhaps scrupulous delicacy of conduct that Mary felt deeply; but alarm became the predominant feeling of her mind, as one hour of the night slipped away after another, without the return of the robber's sister, especially when after some loud noise and laughter below, steps were heard ascending the stairs, and evidently, from their heavy fall, not those of a woman. Mary drew close to her cou, sin, and Charles threw his arm round her, holding a pistol in his right hand, resolyed to defend her with the last drop of his blood, for he had heard of many outrages committed by these banditti on women in their power, which made him shudder for the fate of one so much beloved. The steps however turned another way; and assuring her that he would die to save her from injury, he pressed a kiss upon Mary's hand; and if he felt an inclination to have made it her lips instead, he could
way to it.
scarcely be blamed; but he did not give
In such circumstances, he would not have done it for a world.
Occasional sounds of laughter and merriment, which seemed going on in the apartments of the lower story, continued at intervals for nearly two hours—hours to them of the mnost uncomfortable suspense; but at length all noises, one after another, subsided, and died into complete silence, which having continued for about half an hour, the door noiselessly opened, admitting the very welcome form of the robber's sister. As she came in, she put her finger to her lip, in token for them to keep silence; and setting down a lamp she held, she unfastened a cord that tied two parts of the crazy bedstead together, and pulled it hard, to see if it was strong enough to bear a heavy weight; and then slowly opening the casement, she fastened the rope to a bar that went up the centre of the window.-" Try,” said she in a whisper to Charles, “ if you could force
yourself through there," pointing to the open casement.
Charles looked towards Mary, saying, he was sure she would never be able to get down by that means.
“ Do as I bid you,” answered the woman. “I do not intend that she should, or you either; but I intend that it shall be supposed that you have done so.”
Charles instantly entered into her scheme, and, on trying, found that he could pass through the aperture with ease.
6. It will do then,” said the other, and gently let the rope down to the ground on the outside.“ Now,” she continued, turning to Mary, “ call all your courage,
you may be obliged to step over one, who, if he saw you, would instantly murder you; so we must have no noise."
“I will make none,” answered Mary firmly, “and will go wherever Charles goes with me; so shew me the way.” • You are not so weak-hearted as you н 6