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For here forlorn and lost I tread,
With fainting steps and slow,
Edwin and Angelina.
Sir Philip.-Angels of mercy ! my brother!
Speed the Plough.
FEAR seemed to lend Mary wings : for the space of a mile and a half she flew rather than walked; but the violence of the first exertion overpowered her, and at length she was obliged to pause to take breath. After a little rest, however, she was enabled to go on more calmly, and calculating that they were nearly three miles distant from the dwelling of the
robbers, Charles began to fancy himself secure, and wished Mary, whose fatigue was evident, to rest herself again; but her fears had not yet abated, and she would go on, till what between terror, anxiety, and want of repose, her strength failed altogether, and they were obliged to stop for more than an hour, during which time Charles endeavoured to cheer her with his own hopes; but the idea still hung upon Mary's mind, that the robbers would discover their flight, and pursue them, and this made her eager to follow their journey as soon as she was at all able to do so.
In the mean time the moon went down, and left them in utter darkness. Charles endeavoured to keep the track on which they had set out; but being now without any thing to guide him, he got confused in the various turns of the mountains, and soon had the mortification of feeling that he had deviated into some other road, which might lead him quite in a contrary direction, or perhaps even bring him back
amongst the banditti. He, however, confined his alarm to his own bosom; for to have informed Mary, would only have been to increase her terror for no purpose.
After proceeding for some way in this state of suspense, they at length arrived, weary and exhausted, at the summit of one of the highest hills, from whence the first rays of daylight were to be seen dawning in the east; and soon after, the sun rose majestically over the eastern states of Italy, displaying to their view one of the grandest scenes that nature can present.
For a moment Charles gazed with delight over the far landscape, extending in undulating lines to the extreme horizon, just wakening in the early beams of sunshine." But Mary's eye rapidly traces along the windings of the valleys that lay stretched at their feet-a faint chillness came over her heart, and turning deadly pale, she pointed with her hand.-" Oh,
Charles,” she exclaimed, “ they are there! they are there !"
It was too true; and following the direction of her hand with his eye, Charles immediately perceived the banditti in pursuit of them. The daylight, which shewed their pursuers to Charles and Mary, equally discovered to the robbers the position of the fugitives, standing as they were upon the brow of the hill, at scarcely half a mile distance.
Agitation, fatigue, and terror, had quite deprived Mary of the power to move a step. But it was no time for ceremony, and Charles, catching her in his arms, carried her on as well as his own weariness would permit. But the banditti followed them over the mountain with the certainty of bloodhounds, and scarcely could Charles, burdened as he was, reach the valley on the other side, when they appeared on the height. Death seemed now inevitable. There was some thick woody ground skirted along the bottom of the hill.
“ Oh, Charles,” cried Mary, “ place me under some of those bushes; they will hide me, and you by yourself may escape."
No, dear beloved Mary!" replied Charles, holding her tighter in his arms, as if afraid of losing her—“no, I will never leave you, as long as I have one drop of blood left to defend you!” and he pressed his lips to hers.
Mary could not grudge it to him, for she thought it the last that he could ever take, or she could ever give, and he thought so too.
He bore her on in his arms, upon the path which wound along between the wood and the rocky part of the hill; and having found a spot where he resolved to defend himself, he placed Mary gently on the ground behind him, keeping his back towards the bank, with rock and wood to his right and left, so that whoever attacked him, must come in front, and within pistol shot.