`She did,' persisted he in the same grave, collected manner as before `and not without reason,' he continued, gently disengaging himself from my grasp: `Mr. Huntingdon is ill.'
`And so she went to nurse him?'
`Fool!' I could not help exclaiming--and Lawrence looked up with a rather reproachful glance. `Is he dying then?'
`I think not, Markham.'
`And how many more nurses has he?--How many ladies are there besides, to take care of him?'
`None: he was alone, or she would not have gone.'
`Oh, confound it! this is intolerable!'
`What is? That he should be alone?'
I attempted no reply, for I was not sure that this circumstance did not partly conduce to my distraction. I therefore continued to pace the walk in silent anguish, with my hand pressed to my forehead; then suddenly pausing and turning to my companion, I impatiently exclaimed,
`Why did she take this infatuated step? What fiend persuaded her to it?'
`Nothing persuaded her but her own sense of duty.'
`I was half inclined to say so myself, Markham, at first. I assure you it was not by my advice that she went, for I detest that man as fervently as you can do--except, indeed, that his reformation would give me much greater pleasure than his death:--But all I did was to inform her of the circumstance of his illness (the consequence of a fall from his horse in hunting), and to tell her that that unhappy person, Miss Myers, had left him some time ago.
`It was ill done! Now, when he finds the convenience of her presence, he will make all manner of lying speeches and false, fair promises for the future, and she will believe him, and then her condition will be ten times worse and ten times more irremediable than before.'
`There does not appear to be much ground for such apprehensions at present,' said he, producing a letter from his pocket: `from the account I received this morning, I should say--'
It was her writing! By an irresistible impulse, I held out my hand, and the words-- `Let me see it,' involuntarily passed my lips. He was evidently reluctant to grant the request, but while he hesitated, I snatched it from his hand. Recollecting myself, however, the minute after, I offered to restore it.
`Here, take it,' said I, `if you don't want me to read it.'
`No,' replied he, `you may read it if you like.'
I read it and so may you.
Grassdale, Nov. 4th.
|Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.|