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a few days, I contented myself with what I had done. But on my return to town I found another letter, informing me that the fever had taken an alarming turn, and begging me instantly to come and see my child. But thus pressed, I could not decline the journey; and my sister accompanied me, with the view of bringing away Lord Seaforth.
“This boy will be a cripple after all,” I said, when I got into the carriage. “I wish we had left him with Lady Roxeter, Juliana. He was not fit for a public school. And yet he must be my heir. I shall be blamed for this accident I am well assured.??
“If he survives this fever, and all his other ailments, he must be your heir it is true," she replied ; “but the chances are now much against him."
When arrived at Croydon, where the school was si.. tuated, I instantly saw, by the grave face of Mr. Palmer, the master, that things were very bad with the boy, and, therefore was not surprised to hear that he was quite delirious. But I was a little startled when told that he had called so vehemently for Lady Roxeter, that it had been thought necessary to inform her, and that it was very probable she might be with us in a few hours.
I desired to be taken to my son, and my sister followed me to his chamber. We found him in a strong fever and a high fit of delirium; a nurse, a servant-maid, and Mrs. Palmer being in attendance. Here is your papa and your aunt, Lord Bellamy,” said Mrs. Palmer; your dear рара, ,
your kind aunt." “No, no, not dear,” said the boy, "not dear, not dear, not kind.
Go, papa, go,” he said, looking wildly at me, "and take my cruel aunt away; and bring my mamma --my own dear mamma-bring my own mamma."
My sister and I stood fixed at the foot of the bed; and Mrs. Palmer said, “Poor little dear, he is always calling for his mamma. Sometimes it is his own very mamma he wants, and sometimes your present lady, my Lord. We cannot always tell whom he means: but he was like one wild last night, when the nurse told him that his own mamma was dead."
It seems that he heard these last words of Mrs. Paimer, though spoken very low; and, turning hastily to her,
he said, “Did you say that mamma was dead? Then I know who killed her. Poor mamma! her heart was broken when Theodore and I went to school. And you did it,” he added, looking fiercely at his aunt: “but I knew you would kill her when I was sent away. You are a cruel woman, and you know it.”
My sister gave me a look, in which rage seemed to struggle with that self-command which is habitual with persons in a certain rank of life. But she commanded her voice entirely and said, “Mrs. Palmer, we must excuse the poor boy now, he is quite beside himself. Was his head injured by the fall ?" And she proposed that we should send for further advice; acting the anxious aunt with a nicety which, at another time, would have made me smile: but the variety of painful feelings I endured at that moment were such as would, at least with me, admit of no dissembling. I stood, with my arms folded, at the foot of the bed, with my eyes fixed on my son; who continued to look with a wild sort of terror on my sister, who was hovering about him with a great appearance of concern. I was beginning almost to fear that she would overact her part, when suddenly the whole countenance of the poor boy changed its expression; his eyes were fixed in one direction, it was towards the door; he tried to raise himself in the bed; he extended his arms, and, the next moment, lady Roxeter had rushed into them. I heard a few words only : “My child ! my darling! my own Augustus !". -“ Mamma ! mamma! my own mamma!" and then, Lady Roxeter, looking round her, while one arm still embraced the child, she saw me and my sister, neither of whom she had before observed. “My Lord,” she said, “I am glad to see you here."
“I am equally pleased to see your Ladyship," I replied, with cold politeness: “and now that Lord Bellamy is in such good hands, Lady Seaforth and I might as well return to town, we can be of no further use in this place;" and wishing Mrs. Palmer a good morning, I walked out of the room, followed by my sister.
Lady Roxeter hastened after me into the passage at the head of the stairs, and said, “My Lord, will you not stay a few minutes ?--I hope you are not displeased at
my coming. Stay only a few minutes; I have many things to say."
“Displeased !" I repeated; “surely your Ladyship is at liberty to do as you think right! I never wish to put a force on your inclinations."
She took no notice of the unkindness of my answer, but said, " If the dear boy gets better, would you wish me to take him down to Hartlands ?"
" He will require a nurse a long time,” replied Lady Seaforth ; "and, certainly, as you are the child's own mother, you are the fittest person to have the care of him, Lady Roxeter."
“My Lord,” returned Lady Roxeter, “I would wish to have my directions from you: you are the father of the poor child, and therefore ought to say what your wishes are respecting him.”
“After what I have just heard, Madam," I replied, after having been told by the boy himself, that he has no regard for me, and actually detests his aunt, I, of course, should not think of interfering: it seems that he considers you to be his real mother, and to you, therefore, I commit him.”
“ Poor child !” she exclaimed, lifting up her lovely eyes; “and does he consider me as his real mother? Beloved child! and am I not so ? Did I not become his mother when I joined my hand and gave my heart to his father ?—that heart, my Lord,” she added, “which is still devoted to you, and has never undergone a change."
"Perhaps not," I answered, coolly: "but, at least, I cannot feel myself obliged to those who have set my son against me,” and I was about to enter into a sort of explanation with Lady Roxeter, which explanation might most probably have tended to a reconciliation ; when my sister interfered, and threw me again upon my haughty reserve, by whispering, “ If you are going to have a scene, excuse my remaining here to see you make yourself ridiculous. Have you any commands for town? I shall be off with Seaforth in a few minutes."
“I am at your service, Lady Seaforth,” I answered ; and I bowed very politely to my wife, and walked off, handing my sister down the stairs.
The next news I heard of Lord Bellamy was, that he was at Hartlands with Lady Roxeter; and that he was well, as far as referred to his fever, but suftermg much from his knee. I will not say but that I had some qualms of conscience on the occasion; for the child certainly had never been fit for a public school. But my mind was immediately after this diverted from these thoughts by an offer on the part of the ministry of a very splendid diplomatic situation on the Continent. I shall not say in what court. This offer I immediately accepted, and, as the business was urgent, set off without loss of time; having previously arranged with Lady Seaforth to follow me with a suitable establishment and equipage.
I had been more hurt by what had passed during the delirium of Lord Bellamy than I had chosen to confess: nevertheless, my feelings at that time had no other effect than to lead me to acquiesce more willingly to a proposal of my sister, viz. that we should take Lord Seaforth with us, and my son Theodore, that they might acquire the polite languages of the Continent; and that we should procure an elegant classical scholar as a tutor for these boys. “I cannot think,” said she, “that after this accident Lord Bellamy is ever likely to be reared : in that case, it will be of great importance to you to retain the affections of Theodore, which could not be if he were left with his mother; for you saw how she had worked on her stepson, and, of course, she will have much more influence on her own son. And, therefore, I consider that common policy ought to lead you to this measure.”
Thus this cruel plan was determined upon. Theodore was sent for from school: a tutor was obtained, and, within a few months, I found myself established with my suite in a princely style, in a certain capital on the Continent, the name of which my reader will permit me čo omit.
Lord Bellamy was ten years old when I left England; and I remained abroad, though not always in the
same court, till he had entered his twenty-second year; Theodore, at that period, being in his nineteenth, and Laura in her eighteenth year.
Theodore and Lord Seaforth had finished their educa
tion in a university in Germany; at that time rendered fashionable by a son of his majesty the king of England having been made a member of it. And, although I was but little acquainted with the morals of my son, very much flattered by the universal success which he met with in society. He was an uncommonly fine young man; his talents were superior, his manners graceful, and his accomplishments of the first order. The only thing, however, which I did not quite relish in him was, that he exhibited a considerable degree of determination of character; a quality which my sister had sometimes attributed to his mother; not considering, that, when properly directed, this steadfastness is, perhaps, one of the finest qualities of the human mind. And true indeed it was that Lady Roxeter had displayed a firmness throughout her whole conduct, and a strength of purpose, which I believe has been rarely equalled, and, perhaps, never excelled, by any of her sex.
This firmness, however, of my son had not been properly directed; and therefore, of course, was injurious, and produced those effects I did not approve. For I was myself advancing in life, being in my forty-fifth year, when I thought of returning to England; and beginning to feel more than I could have wished the effects of the very gay life which I had hitherto led. My self-disapprobation was also beginning to make me very uneasy, and many parts of my life began to appear to me as very disgraceful: for, although I have not said much on this subject, I had drunk the cup of what the world calls pleasure to its very dregs. I had tasted of every pleasure which the world could bestow; and I was wearied, though not satisfied, and out of humour with others, because I was angry with myself.
have little to say of what was passing at Hartlands during my absence on the Continent. With Lady Roxeter I had long ceased to correspond: but she wrote frequently to her son. I heard, however, of no changes of consequence. Mr. Helmly had offended me by a letter, in which he had ventured to expostulate with me on my neglect of Lady Roxeter, soon after I had become an ambassador. I had not answered his letter; and my steward never entered into any thing but business. I,