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brothers ? I have not patience to hear you. From you at least I did not expect to receive my punishment.” And I burst into an agony of tears, with loud groans. I wished for death—for annihilation. “O
that my brother, my dear brother, might live,” said Theodore, “to bear witness to my innocence ! Perish all earthly honours and possessions; what are they in comparison with a good name? and that I have lost. But, Seaforth, you could, if you were willing, bear witness to my innocence;" and he looked his cousin full in the face.
I looked up at the same moment, and my eyes too were fixed on my nephew. And the idea then first occurred to me, that they were both concerned in the transaction.
Lord Seaforth was deadly pale, but did not speak.
Theodore called on him again, and urged him to speak. I did the same. Advancing to him, and laying my hand roughly on his arm, “Speak!" I said, " tell all you know! or, by Heaven, I will make you speak before the higher authorities !"
“I have nothing to say,” he replied: “I never left the Roxeter-Arms, after I entered the house this afternoon with your son, till I quitted it with you; and the landlord and servants there will bear witness that what I say is true. While your son went to the lodge with the note, I was in the stable-yard talking to my groom, and the landlord was present the whole time.”
"You have had a hand in this awful business, Seaforth," I said ; “and God will witness against you, if no man does."
“You must think what you please, Lord Roxeter,” he replied; “and you may also now say what you please, for you are not yourself.”
He was proceeding, when interrupted by Mr. Helmly. My Lord, I come,” said he, “to tell you there is hope: we hardly yet know what injury has been done; but Lord Bellamy still lives. He begins to breathe freely : he has once opened his eyes: he will yet live to explain the means by which he has been brought to this condition; and his eye glanced fearfully on the young men.
A servant appeared at that instant announcing the VOL. VII.
surgeon, who passed at the same moment towards the library, where I followed.
The library was crowded by servants; he ordered that only two men-servants, with the housekeeper and poor old Cecile, should remain; and he proceeded immediately to examine the injuries my poor son had sustained. He first cut off the sleeve of the coat-Lord Bellamy still remained nearly insensible. He found the shoulder much shattered with small shot. It was also dislocated, probably, he said, by the fall; the hand also had been torn at the same time, and other slight injuries sustained. He assured me, however, that there was no danger of life from the wounds; "though,” added he, “had the shot been a little higher—had the temple been struck, the unhappy youth would never have spoken again." A violent swelling had, however, been induced by the dislocation of the shoulder; and a quantity of blood had flowed from the various wounds.
The surgeon ordered a temporary bed to be prepared in the library, to which he caused the poor sufferer to be removed. After which, he succeeded in making him swallow some restoratives.
All this took up several hours; and 0, what hours of misery were those! what hours of complicated suffering!
I was surprised, when Lord Bellamy was in bed, to see Theodore enter and take his station by his pillow. I saw those about my eldest son recoil as he entered; and I plainly read their strong suspicions on their counte
I looked sternly at Theodore. It was a look which bid him leave the room; but he stood his ground, folding his arms, and keeping his eyes fixed on his brother.
Desperate and hardened villain !" I muttered between my teeth; but I dared not to speak out. However, seeing the surgeon preparing to leave the room, to give some directions to the servants, I followed him out. In the hall I found Thomas Jefferies and Mr. Helmly; and I then first found opportunity of asking where and by whom Lord Bellamy had had been discovered. And, after various cross-examinations, I found the fact to have been as I shall state it.
It seems that the gamekeeper and Thomas Jefferies had been in the park together, about two o'clock in the
afternoon; and there, hearing loud and angry words not far distant, they had run to the place from whence the sound proceeded, and found my two sons engaged in a violent dispute, Lord Seaforth being present; they then heard Theodore challenge his brother, and tell him that he was not fit to live. The two servants stood aloof till they saw the young men part; but which way they went they could not tell, by reason of the intervening trees. What they had heard, had, it seems, so much alarmed them that they went immediately to Mr. Helmly to inform him of the violent state of enmity of the brothers, and reached his house about three o'clock; but he was not at home, and did not return till six. Mr. Helmly was startled by their information, and went with them to the Hall, desiring to see Lord Bellamy; but Lord Bellamy was absent. The alarm then began to spread among the servants; and several of them went in different directions to inquire after their young Lord. The gamekeeper, Thomas, and Mr. Helmly, who went in the direction where Lord Bellamy had been last seen, were the persons who found him. He was lying under a thicket, in a sort of hollow, into which he had been precipitated, and they had no doubt but that he was actually dead.
Here was a tale of horror, a dark and shocking tale:I never, never-no not if I were to live for ages-shall forget what I felt when I had heard it throughout. I can only say, that, for the time, I was as one deranged. I know not of what extravagances I was not guilty. My people were compelled to use force with me, and I believe that I had something given me to calm me; for I remember that they put me to bed, and forced me to take a nauseous draught; and that my raging fit was speedily followed by a deep depression, attended by a miserable languor.-But enough of such a wretch as I then was; yea, and still should be accounted, were I to be judged by my own merits.
In the mean time, every individual of the family seemed to be bound by a sort of spell, which held him back from seeking any thing like explanation. Theodore persisted in watching by his brother's couch, although he felt that he was eyed with horror and suspicion by almost every person who entered the chamber; yet, as
no one actually gave utterance to his suspicions, no opportunity was allowed for extenuation or self-defence great care, however, was taken never to leave him alone with Lord Bellamy.
It was thought, that, when Lord Bellamy was so far recovered as to be able to speak, he would, either to Dr. Simpson, who had been sent for, and was in constant attendance, or to Mr. Helmly, give some account of his accident. But though, after forty-eight hours, he was decidedly better, he volunteered no such confession; and it was even observed, that he looked at his brother with a sort of horror which he could not disguise.
Such was the state of things for four days; at which time Mr. Helmly, seeing that Lord Bellamy was much improved in health, plainly put the question to him, having previously sent every person out of the room, saying, “Now, Lord Bellamy, as you are, through divine mercy, so far recovered, it behoves you to satisfy our anxious inquiries.-How did you meet with the unfortunate accident by which, let me tell you, you nearly lost your life?"
Lord Bellamy was much agitated when the inquiry was thus urged upon him, and for a minute or two seemed to doubt whether he should reply: but, after awhile, seeming to recollect himself, and having made Mr. Helmly repeat the question, he replied, that really he had been so stunned at the time, that he could give no account whatever of the affair.
“Do you not remember where you were, or what you were doing, just before the accident, Lord Bellamy ?" said Mr. Helmly.
“I was walking in the park,” he replied. 6 And alone ?" said Mr. Helmly.
Quite alone,” replied Lord Bellamy. “You had been walking with your brother and Lord Seaforth, I think ?" said Mr. Helmly.
“Some time before I had,” replied Lord Bellamy; “but we had parted, and had gone different ways."
“Had you chanced to approach in the same direction, do you think, Lord Bellamy, before the accident happened ?" said Mr. Helmly.
Lord Bellamy answered rather pettishly; which was
not usual with him; and said, “Really, Mr. Helmly, I know nothing at all about the affair. I dare say no one meant to hurt me. But, as I have found by repeated experience, if there is any mischief abroad, it commonly falls on me, I ought in prudence to have stayed at home when there were so many sportsmen in the wood.” “Then
you think that it was by accident that you were shot ?" said Mr. Helmly.
“Did not I tell you, Mr. Helmly,” said Lord Bellamy, “that I knew nothing at all about the matter ? I have quite lost my recollection of the whole transaction.”
Mr. Helmly felt much hurt, for he was quite certain that Lord Bellamy could tell more, if he would; however, he resolved to say no more to his pupil till his mother and I were able to judge what further ought to be done in the business.
Such continued to be the perplexing state of affairs; when, having recovered my recollection and reason, after four days of severe illness, I insisted upon rising.
Dr. Simpson expostulated with me; but I opened my whole heart to him. My illness, I told him, was entirely mental, and could not be cured till I was more at ease. I further added, that for some months I had felt some relentings of conscience; and that, of late, conscience had been as a worm gnawing at my heart. I stated that all the miseries in which my family were then involved were owing to my base conduct towards Lady Roxeter; whose character I now saw in its true light; and saw it to my shame and confusion. I stated also, that I had always a foolish sort of dread of being supposed to be under female influence; and, like many other men who have the same sort of jealousy, I had refused due deference to a virtuous woman; and at the same time allowed myself to become the dupe of every artful and ambitious female who chose to impose upon me. “And now," I added, “in order to find peace,—though peace, I fear, is gone for ever, -I must be carried, if I cannot walk, to Lady Roxeter's apartment; that I may kneel to her; that I may implore her pardon; and that I may entreat her to co-operate with me to save our children-our lost, our ruined children !" Groans and tears—deep groans and unfeigned tears~