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“ How did this come?” demanded he; “ I thought the post was come in ?".
“ It was by an express, sir,” answered the man, “ who says he had an extra franc a league to make haste.”
Mr. Wilmot opened the packet, and read. The first letter that it contained made his cheek turn deadly pale, as he perused its contents; and getting up, he rang the bell violently.--" Charles,” said he, “ I must leave you for a few days. I must go to Paris immediately.”
“ I hope nothing distressing has happened,” said Charles with interest, for Mr. Wilmot's kindness had bound him strongly to his heart.
“ Yes, indeed,” answered his friend, “ something most distressing; but for God's sake tell the man to get me a carriage from the remise, and have horses put to it, while I read this other letter.” .“ Oh, you will take my carriage, of course," replied Mr. Melville. “I will go with you. I cannot think of your tra
velling by yourself in such a state of mind.”
“Do not think of it, Charles--do not think of it,” said the other; “ you have broken the spell once, and indeed you ought not to go back again.” He now opened the other letter, and, after reading a few lines, he clasped his hands together _" Thank God !” he ejaculated fervently -" thank God! I could scarcely have borne that stroke. It is not so bad as I thought,” he continued to Charles.“ But I must go, nevertheless. Will you want the carriage ?”
“ Not in the least,” replied Charles, “I can assure you; and since you think I had better not go with you, I will run about this part of the country in your absence, and shall have seen all the sights by the time you come back.”
“I shall soon return,” answered his companion; “ for most likely I shall not stay above two days in Paris at the far
thest. You know I am quick in my movements."
In the space of an hour Mr. Wilmot was ready to depart, and proceeded on his journey towards Paris; while Charles, after thinking over the circumstances in a variety of ways, to ascertain what could be the occasion of his sudden departure, gave it up in despair. If it had been to England he had proposed to go, a thousand pretty theories might have been raised, for there, of course, he had many friends and relations; but in Paris, where he seemed to have been interested in no one, what could be his 'urgent business there? Could it be any way connected with the baroness? That was the only thing he could think of; but in what way it could be so, he was unable to divine; and so he gave that up too, and set off to make a tour round the lake, to Lausanne and Chillon.
For the first few hours after Mr. Wil. mot was gone, Charles Melville did not
perceive much difference from his absence; but he soon began to feel a blank that he could not fill up, and would often pull out his watch, and count the time. Nor did he readily get accustomed to the want of his society. He 'missed him far more than he had imagined that he would, without being well able to tell why. It could searcely be for his conversation, for though when he did speak, in addition to the deep information and strong thought he displayed, there was an elegance in his language, and an interest attached to his manner, that enchained every power of attention ; yet it was seldom that he so far overcame the gloom that hung over him, as to address any one, without first being spoken to. But the truth was, there was always something new about Mr. Wilmot; whatever he said or did was in some degree different from any thing Charles had been accustomed to; it was not commonplace; and in addition to the sincere feelings of attachment which he had towards him,
Mr. Melville always found in his character something to interest him, and to reflect upon.
At length he returned; and from the good spirits in which he appeared, Charles concluded the issue of his journey to have been favourable. Mr. Wilmot shook him frankly by the hand, and spake to him with a warmth of manner rather unusual with him. It was late in the day when he arrived, and during dinner he conversed freely and easily, but never alluded to the subject of his sudden call to Paris. -“ It was lucky,” said he at length, “that I happened to call at the banker's, as there was a letter for each of us, which we might not have got for some time. I will get yours out of my portmanteau after dinner. Mine was from Mr. Malden, containing a great deal of chit-chat, and amongst the rest he tells me he has been paying a visit for a week to your father in London, where he heard that lady Mary Burton, your cousin, had been ill "
“ III !"