Imágenes de páginas

and both occupied in themselves, forgot the scene without, when in a moment they were roused by the report of a musket.

Mr. Wilmot quietly turned his head, and Charles starting forward, perceived that the window next him had been broken by a ball, which, after grazing the front of Mr. Wilmot's hat, had lodged itself in the other side of the coach.

The moment the piece was discharged, the drivers set off at full gallop, and affected not to remark it; but Mr. Wilmot letting down the glass, called to them to stop, in a voice that made them obey immediately; and then jumping from the carriage, he looked round to see if he could discover from whence the shot had proceeded, but in vain. There was a turn in the road which they had just passed, and which would conceal any one who had gone in that direction from their sight. Whoever it was must have taken advantage of that circumstance, for the rest of the road, which lay straight before them,


presented no object whatever, as far as the eye could reach. Mr. Wilmot next questioned the courier, who had been riding near, and Mr. Melville's servant, who was behind the carriage, whether they had remarked any one near at the time, when they both declared that a man on horseback had passed at full speed, but they neither of them saw him fire. With this information Mr. Wilmot seemed satisfied; and getting into the vehicle, desired the drivers to proceed.

“ It is very odd,” said Charles, as they drove on. “ Had you been sitting an inch farther forward, it would have gone through your head, as most probably it would have done, even now, had it not been turned by the glass. Who could it be meant for, you or me?"

“ Not me, I believe,” replied Wilmot, with a smile; "and most probably for neither of us.

For my part, I do not think · it was any one passing on horseback, as these men say, but merely some poor fel


low shooting a deer or å goat, who did not perceive that there weré passengers in the road, and who hid himself afterwards, for fear of the severity of his Austrian tyrants."

** However that may be,” replied Charles, " the person who fired must have been very near at the time, not only from the report, but because, if you remark, the bullet has passed clear through the glass, scarcely shattering it at all, merely starring it round, and has then buried itself pretty deep, close by your head.”

Do you know any one," demanded Wilmoty" who could be interested in injuring you from private enmity, or any other cause ?"

“ Not in the least,” replied Charles. “ I know no one whom I have personally offended; and yet the extraordinary note shewn me by the count de L- in Paris, and the attack upon Mary in Devonshire, without any apparent cause, would almost lead me to imagine that some one


was interested in bringing misfortune

upon us both."

They are two strange occurrences certainly," replied Mr. Wilmot ; " but why should people connect you and your cousin together in one band of hatred, as it were ? No. If this has been any thing beyond accident, I should be inclined to think that we were taken for Germans, to whom popular hatred is now at its highest pitch, and that the Italian, whoever he was who discharged the piece, did so, in hopes of destroying at least one of the enemies of his country. At all events, it is scarcely worth inquiring into.”

“But, good Heaven !” exclaimed Charles, “it almost proved fatal to you.


you not surprised at such a circumstance taking place in a civilized country ?"

“ Not in the least," answered Mr. Wilmot, with perfect coolness. “ I have mingled too much in the world to be surprised at any thing that is not out of nature."

« Well

“ Well then,” said Charles, “ I suppose that, like Horace, the nil admirari is your motto."

“ In the full signification, certainly not," answered his companion. Nothing, I hope, can take me by surprise; but yet I do not think that I have lost any of those kindly feelings which teach us to love, to pity, or enjoy."

“ And yet,” said Charles, “ experience seems in general to harden the heart, while it sharpens the intellect.”

“I have struggled through life,” rejoined Mr. Wilmot,“ to make my disappointments correct my judgment, but not to destroy my feelings, convinced that the man who grows a misanthrope from the ingratitude every one must meet with, had originally far more of selfishness than benevolence in his breast. What I give a man from my purse, or what influence I exert in his favour, is on my part a free gift. If he returns it, or is grateful for it, it may relieve his own mind, but I had


« AnteriorContinuar »