`I protest, as I must die,' said Martin, `that I grieve over the loss of what I thought you: and have no anger in the recollection of my own injuries. It is only at such a time, and after such a discovery, that we know the full measure of our old regard for the subject of it. I swear, little as I showed it; little as I know I showed it: that when I had the least consideration for you, Tom, I loved you like a brother.'
Tom was composed by this time, and might have been the Spirit of Truth, in a homely dress -- it very often wears a homely dress, thank God! -- when he replied to him.
`Martin,' he said, `I don't know what is in your mind, or who has abused it, or by what extraordinary means. But the means are false. There is no truth whatever in the impression under which you labour. It is a delusion from first to last; and I warn you that you will deeply regret the wrong you do me. I can honestly say that I have been true to you, and to myself. You will be very sorry for this. Indeed, you will be very sorry for it, Martin.'
`I am sorry,' returned Martin, shaking his head. `I think I never knew what it was to be sorry in my heart, until now.'
`At least,' said Tom, `if I had always been what you charge me with being now, and had never had a place in your regard, but had always been despised by you, and had always deserved it, you should tell me in what you have found me to be treacherous; and on what grounds you proceed. I do not intreat you, therefore, to give me that satisfaction as a favour, Martin, but I ask it of you as a right.'
`My own eyes are my witnesses,' returned Martin. `Am I to believe them?'
`No,' said Tom, calmly. `Not if they accuse me.'
`Your own words. Your own manner,' pursued Martin. `Am I to believe them?'
`No,' replied Tom, calmly. `Not if they accuse me. But they never have accused me. Whoever has perverted them to such a purpose, has wronged me almost as cruelly;' his calmness rather failed him here; `as you have done.'
`I came here,' said Martin; `and I appeal to your good sister to hear me --'
`Not to her,' interrupted Tom. `Pray, do not appeal to her. She will never believe you.'
He drew her arm through his own, as he said it.
`I believe it, Tom!'
`No, no,' cried Tom, `of course not. I said so. Why, tut, tut, tut. What a silly little thing you are!'
`I never meant,' said Martin, hastily, `to appeal to you against your brother. Do not think me so unmanly and unkind. I merely appealed to you to hear my declaration, that I came here for no purpose of reproach -- I have not one reproach to vent -- but in deep regret. You could not know in what bitterness of regret, unless you knew how often I have thought of Tom; how long in almost hopeless circumstances, I have looked forward to the better estimation of his friendship; and how steadfastly I have believed and trusted in him.'
`Tut, tut,' said Tom, stopping her as she was about to speak. `He is mistaken. He is deceived. Why should you mind? He is sure to be set right at last.'
`Heaven bless the day that sets me right!' cried Martin, `if it could ever come!'
`Amen!' said Tom. `And it will!'
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