I ought to have helped him in spite of himself--to have bound up the wound he was unable to stanch, and insisted upon getting him on to his horse and seeing him safe home; but, besides my bitter indignation against himself, there was the question what to say to his servants,--and what to my own family. Either I should have to acknowledge the deed, which would set me down as a madman, unless I acknowledged the motive too--and that seemed impossible,--or I must get up a lie, which seemed equally out of the question--especially Mr Lawrence would probably reveal the whole truth, and thereby bring me to tenfold disgrace,--unless I were villain enough, prig on the absence of witnesses, to persist in my own version of the Case, and make him out a still greater scoundrel than he was. No; he had only received a cut above the temple, and perhaps a few bruises from the fall, or the hoofs of his own pony: that could not kill him if he lay there half the day; and, if he could not help himself, surely someone would be coming by: it would be impossible that a whole day should pass and no one traverse the road but ourselves. As for what he might choose to say hereafter, I would take my chance about it: if he told lies, I would contradict him; if he told the truth, I would bear it as I best could. I was not obliged to enter into explanations, further than I thought proper. Perhaps he might choose to be silent on the subject, for fear of raising enquiries as to the cause of the quarrel, and drawing the public attention to his connection with Mrs Graham, which, whether for her sake or his own, he seemed so very desirous to conceal.

Thus reasoning, I trotted away to the town, where I duly transacted my business, and performed various little commissions for my mother and Rose, with very laudable exactitude, consIdering the different circumstances of the case. In returning home, I was troubled with sundry misgivings about the unfortunate Lawrence. The question, what if I should find him lying, still on the damp earth, fairly dying of cold and exhaustion-- or already stark and chill? thrust itself most unpleasantly upon my mind, and the appalling possibility pictured itself with painful vividness to my imagination as I approached the spot where I had left him. But no; thank Heaven, both man and horse were gone, and nothing was left to witness against me but two objects--unpleasant enough in themselves, to be sure, and presenting a very ugly, not to say murderous, appearance--in one place, the hat saturated with rain and coated with mud, indented and broken above the brim by that villainous whip-handle; in another, the crimson handkerchief, soaking in a deeply tinctured pool of water--for much rain had fallen in the interim.

Bad news fly fast: it was hardly four o'clock when I got home, but my mother gravely accosted me with--

`Oh, Gilbert!--Such an accident! Rose has been shopping in the village, and she's heard that Mr Lawrence has been thrown from his horse and brought home dying!'

This shocked me a trifle, as you may suppose; but I was comforted to hear that he had frightfully fractured his skull and broken a leg; for, assured of the falsehood of this, I trusted the rest of the story was equally exaggerated; and when I heard my mother and sister so feelingly deploring his condition, I had considerable difficulty in preventing myself from telling them the real extent of the injuries, as far as I knew them.

`You must go and see him to-morrow,' said my mother.

`Or to-day,' suggested Rose: `there's plenty of time; and you can have the pony, if your horse is tired. Won't you, Gilbert--as soon as you've had something to eat?'

`No, no--How can we tell that it isn't all a false report? It's highly im--'

`Oh, I'm sure it isn't; for the village is all alive about it; and I saw two people that had seen others that had seen the man that found him. That sounds far fetched; but it isn't so, when you think of it.'

`Well, but Lawrence is a good rider; it is not likely he would fall from his horse at all; and if he did, it is highly improbable he should break his bones in that way. It must be a gross exaggeration at least.'

`No, but the horse kicked him--or something.'

`What, his quiet little pony?'

  By PanEris using Melati.

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