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were, with others present, obliged to use their utmost strength to prevent the rash young man from rushing upon his cousin, and giving such a turn to the scene as no one had foreboded.
“Hear me; only hear me, Robert,” said Frederick. “I was as little aware-. I had not the least suspicion."
“Had not the least suspicion !” replied Robert, taking up Frederick’s word in a tone of bitter scorn. “Yes, I believe you; so far I believe you :--you were not aware perhaps, of the complete success of your
vile machinations; you had not even hoped that you had succeeded so far as to make me a beggar. But, villain as you are, you shall not enjoy your triumph. I deny the authority of the will; I will contest it in a court of law. You shall never know an hour's enjoyment of your ill-gotten property.”
“The will has been duly executed, Sir Robert,” said Mr. Coleman, looking at the seals and signature: “it cannot be contested; no law will give it in your favour: the property is not entailed; it must go as the will directs."
“ Permit me to speak," said Frederick. only hear me, Robert.”
"I have heard enough, I have seen enough, despicable villain!” again interrupted Robert: “more I will not hear.” " But you shall hear me, my brother
my friend !” rejoined Frederick; and he would have added more, had not Lord V-forcibly drawn him back, Mr. Coleman, at the same time, beseeching him not to provoke his cousin to strike him. “I do not want to provoke him," said Frederick, “if he would but hear me."
But,” said Lord V- drawing him still further off, “ don't you see, my dear Falconer, that, by attempting to speak to him now, you may bring upon yourself some insult which a gentleman never could pass over: he would not hesitate to strike you. Do, pray, my good Falconer, be ruled by me:" and the earl held his arm so firmly, that Frederick could not extricate himself without violence.
While this was passing at one end of the room, the friends of Robert were labouring to keep him within
" Hear me;
bounds at the other; for he was endeavouring to break through to Frederick. At length, however, the furious young man, finding that he could not prevail, many being against him, tore himself from them, rushed down stairs and out of the house, called for his carriage, and, shortly afterwards, was seen passing the gate into the park, with the utmost speed to which the horses could be urged.
Frederick had not observed the moment of Robert's quitting the room; but when apprized that he was actually gone, he would have followed him, and was hardly restrained, by all who were present, from rushing after him. The earl, however, and his friends, had interest enough to detain him till Robert was altogether beyond his reach, and the gates of the park were closed upon his carriage. Frederick then ceased to dispute the point; and, with a paleness and dejection of countenance which astonished every one present, sat down quietly to hear the remainder of the will, which was of little importance: after which, he requested Lord Vto do the honours of the house towards the company assembled, and requested the favour of being left awhile to himself.
As soon as the gentlemen were withdrawn, Frederick threw all the papers into the strong box, locked up the scrutoire, and retired to that apartment of the house which he had always occupied when visiting his late uncle; and there, closing the door, he made such an application for the divine direction on the present trying occasion, as assuredly could never be made in vain to Him who hath said, “ Him that cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out."
While he was thus employed in earnest and ardent prayer, his mind was promptly enlightened to perceive how he ought to act; and he was also brought to the determination of doing that immediately which he considered it right to do as his last resource.
He, accord. ingly, rang his bell, called for pen, ink, and paper, and wrote the following letter to Robert.
“ MY DEAR SIR ROBERT,
“ You think ill of me, and I confess that appearances are against me. You are persuaded that I
have injured you: it remains, therefore, now, for me to vindicate my character, by assuring you, that it is my fixed resolution to take no advantage whatever of the bequest of your father. Give me but your friendship and your confidence, Robert, and I shall be perfectly satisfied, and even most happy, in the consciousness of having acted with integrity, and evinced the power of God, as operating in an earthen vessel, to the eyes of all those who bitherto may have doubted his ability for raising his unworthy creatures above the temptations of the world.
Return, then, my dear Robert, return to your own home: and God grant that you may prove a blessing to all those who might hereafter depend upon you for comfort and assistance!”
This letter being signed and sealed, Frederick called for his own servant, a very trustworthy young man of sound principles; and, giving it to him, besought bim that he would endeavour to trace Sir Robert, and deliver the deposit into his own hands. He also particularly
. charged him not even to hint to any one whom he might see, before he left the Hall, the object of his intended journey.
As soon as Frederick had dispatched the servant, he felt his mind so greatly relieved, that be returned to the library; where, on finding that Lord V- and Mr. Coleman, with the other gentlemen, had left the Hall, he called all his servants together, and simply stated to them, what they were all fully apprized of already, that his uncle had left him in entire possession of the estate, having made his will at the period when he was at the height of his resentment on account of Sir Robert's marriage. “According to this will, therefore," said he, “I am entitled, by the laws of my country, to accept and retain this property. But, my friends,” he added, and seemed much affected as he spoke, “ as a Christian, I have undertaken to submit, not only to the laws of man, but to the laws of God: and although, in taking from Sir Robert his rightful inheritance, I should not, indeed, transgress against the letter of the law which saith• Thou shalt not steal;' yet, in the spiritual and enlarged sense of that law, such conduct would be a breach
of this commandment, and I should, by such a measure, forfeit, in the opinion of every simple Christian, that respect which alone can render me useful as a minister. I should lose my peace of mind, my confidence in my Redeemer, my trust in God; and, in fine, the whole comfort of this present life, and perhaps the happiness of the next.”
Frederick paused, and was astonished at the powerful effect which his discourse produced on those present. Some melted into tears, some blessed him, and others praised God for thus displaying his power in this his devoted servant; and all united, as if with one voice, in requesting him to retain his authority over them, acknowledging that they were all rejoicing, but a moment before, in being subjected to that authority.
“I cannot, I dare not, grant your requests,” replied Frederick. "Cease, therefore, to urge me, my friends; and doubt not that you will find Sir Robert a kind and generous master, and one who will shine more in power and prosperity than he has in adversity."
While these things were passing at Lambert-Hall, Lord V-had returned to Clifton Castle, to relate the events of the day to his lady and daughter. I do not use the word news of the day, because it so happened, that Lady V her noble husband, and their beautiful daughter, had been fully apprized of Sir Anthony's intentions with respect both to his nephew and son, from the period of Sir Robert's delinquency: and although Lord V — had proceeded throughout the whole of the business with a high degree of worldly wisdom and discretion, yet it was, in a great measure, owing to his influence and that of his lady, together with the blandishments of their beautiful daughter, that Sir Anthony's resolution of disinheriting his son remained fixed, till such time as his sudden death rendered the act irretrievable.
Lady Vand Augusta were walking in the park at Clifton when the earl's carriage entered it, on his return from Lambert-Hall. He no sooner saw his wife and daughter, than he ordered his servants to stop, and springing from the carriage, hastened to meet them, with such an air and expression of countenance as proved, before he spoke, that all had turned out at the Hall just
as they wished it. Augusta's fine face was flushed with pleasure; and Lady V— exclaimed, “I am glad to see you, my Lord, so cheerful. How did Robert bear it? Was he very indignant?”
Indignant !” said his Lordship,“ how could he be otherwise? A cooler temper than our friend Robert's would have been inflamed by a less thing than this. But the scene was capital. That arch hypocrite, Coleman, who, you know, has detested young Lambert ever since he was insulted by him, some years ago, at a public dinner, was so cold, so impenetrable, and so immoveable; old Humphreys stared so, and seemed so puzzled, between the old and new master, bis love and regard pulling hiin one way, for he is very fond of Falconer, and habit and custom drawing him the other, that it was really quite diverting.”
And Frederick," said Lady V-, “how did he behave? Had he any idea, do you think, before the reading of the will, of the great things which were to be done for him?"
“I verily believe,” said Lord V “ that he did not expect sixpence from the will: and he was so violently affected by the distress of his cousin, that, had Robert shewn the slightest self-command, had he not behaved altogether like a brute on the occasion, I verily believe that young Falconer would have made concessions by which he would have lost all the benefit of the bequest.”
"Well," said Lady Augusta, laughing, "I could almost be sorry for poor Robert, if I were not so very glad.”
Lord and Lady V-, with their daughter, continued in conversation to this effect till they returned to the Castle; where, meeting with some visitors, they were obliged to change the subject, and to affect that fashionable ease and carelessness which persons used to polished society are enabled to assume on every occasion. These visitors dined at the Castle, but left it early after dinner; and they were no sooner gone, than Frederick Falconer arrived.
The moment he entered the drawing-room, Lady V— hastened to congratulate him on the acquisition of his immense fortune, and Lady Augusta welcomed