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accompanied this confession. Dr. Simpson resisted me no longer, but himself assisted me to the door of Lady Roxeter's dressing-room; where, without giving notice, I entered, and fell on my knees before her.
She was still very ill; but the joy, the rapture with which she received me cannot be described by any words I might use. She made me rise; she made me sit on the sofa by her side; and she wept long, very long, in silence, upon my bosom; neither did I speak; for no language could express our feelings. Mr. Helmly was called to enjoy and participate in our reconciliation; and, when the first agitating feelings were over, we found the immediate advantage of restored confidence.
Lady Roxeter was not a stranger to our horrible suspicions respecting poor Theodore; but it seems that she was by no means so convinced of his guilt as I was. It was a comfort to me that she was not so; yet I could not partake of her more agreeable views of the subject. I feared, I believed the worst. I did not suppose my son to have been a deliberate murderer; but I feared that he had, in passion, attempted his brother's life-a crime which, even under the most favourable circumstances, I could not think of without horror. Lady Roxeter stated to me her reasons for not believing this. She had seen Theodore several times since the accident; she had begged, entreated his confidence; and he had persisted in his innocence of the black act; although he owned that he had been tutored to hate his brother, and even to desire his death.
“Well," I replied, I will hope, I must hope ; it would be death to me to relinquish that hope.”
During this conference, it was settled that Mr. Helmly should set out immediately to bring Laura home; and I promised Lady Roxeter that I never again would endeavour to press a marriage on our daughter.
These things being arranged, Dr. Simpson interfered, and persuaded me to return to my apartment, where
Í enjoyed a sweeter rest than I had done for many, many days; and I received this first composed sleep which I then enjoyed as a sort of earnest of the divine approbation. Not that I had not much misery to pass through
still; but the Almighty, in our grief, remembers mercy.
Mr. Helmly departed that evening, and travelled all night. We concealed his journey, in order that Laura might be safe with us before Lord Seaforth should suspect what we were about.
The next day, Lady Roxeter was well enough to be carried down to the library; and I was told by those who saw it, that the meeting with the stepmother and the son was truly affecting. They both wept: but Lord Bellamy sobbed aloud like an infant; and the attendants would have separated them; but Lady Roxeter insisted upon being left alone with her son. "I know,” she said to the physician, “ that he has something on his mind; it will ease us both to have a private conversation. While the thorn remains in the heart, we shall never recover our health; I beseech you, give way to my earnest entreaty.”
It was complied with, and Lady Roxeter was left with her son. The conversation which then ensued was of the most interesting nature. Lady Roxeter immediately came to the point; and, having stated to her son that she thoroughly understood his motives for seeming to forget all that happened during the day of the dreadful accident, added, “Do not think, my dear son, that by this means you screen your brother from suspicion ; his character is blasted by your silence; the worst suspicions, even of his dearest friends, are confirmed by it. Unless, therefore, you consider that even these dark apprehensions are better than certainty, you will tell us at once all that happened on that miserable day.”
Lord Bellamy replied, that he really could not recollect any thing that happened after he parted with his brother and Lord Seaforth in the park.
“This is equivocation, Augustus,” replied Lady Roxeter; " and it will not do with me: I will know the truth. If you would not render me distracted, if you love your brother, if you love me, tell me every thing. I can bear the worst; I am prepared for it. You are still living, through the mercy of God. Your brother cannot be punished by law. His character, as I before said, is completely blasted; his situation cannot be worse than it
is. Fear not that I should cease to love my child. The truth I will know. But do I not know it already ?Theodore sought your life, and you cannot deny it." And she wrung her hands, and was, as she described it, in a sort of frenzy; tearing her hair, and calling for death to end her misery.
While she was in this state, Theodore entered the room; being sent in by the physician. He walked up to her, and begged her to be composed.
“No, no,” she said, “this is too much; this suspense is more than I can bear, and retain my reason. Theodore, explain this dreadful mystery. Where and how did you meet your brother? and what drove you to the horrible act ? Speak this moment, or I renounce you for
“I am spurned by my father,” replied Theodore, "I am renounced by my mother, I am suspected and held in abhorrence by the whole world; and all for a crime of which I am as entirely innocent as the babe unborn. And yet I have deserved all I have met with ; because I have allowed myself to hate my brother, to envy, to despise him, to grudge him his birthright, and his very existence; nay, because I would even, in passion, have contended with him in a duel. But I am not a murderer; and you, Lord Bellamy, can bear witness to my innocence, if you would but speak the truth.”
“Theodore," said Bellamy; and then interrupted himself.
“Go on!” continued Theodore; “say all that is in your mind. I care not what you say; I am desperate ! This country shall not retain me long! I will not remain, to be the scorn and contumely of every honest English heart. I have been an unprincipled young man; a rebellious, undutiful son to the best of mothers; unworthy even of one gentle tear;—but I am not a murderer! Do me, at least, the justice of saying that it was not by me that you were reduced to the situation in which you now are, Bellamy; and then I bid you farewell for ever."
“ Theodore !" repeated Lord Bellamy; and was silent again.
“Let me entreat you, my dear Augustus,” said Lady
Roxeter, “let me entreat you, by the love you bear me, by all I have ever done for you in helpless infancy, by the happy, happy hours we have spent together, nay, by that sacred name which I have taught you to reverence from babyhood, to speak out. Tell all you know. You cannot make me believe that you do not know who was near you when you were wounded. Say, at least, that you knew not whence the shot came; that you heard voices; that you believe it to have been merely an accident."
“I do, I do believe it to be an accident, dear, and loved, and honoured mother,” said Lord Bellamy; “I do believe it to have been an accident: I accuse no one;
I suspect no one."
“And you saw, ro one near you at the time? you had no reason to thinks that any one was near you ?" asked Lady Roxeter. “Enswer me at once: I charge you, by your duty as a son ; was there any one near you at the time the accident happened ?"
“There might, there must have been, some person near me,” replied my son, “or the accident could not have happened: but i repeat, that I have no recollection of the circumstance."
“ Augustus,” said Lady Roxeter, "you will drive me beside myself. I lour, now, indeed,” she added, “I am a miserable woman! "y children, my children, you will break my heart! Ily Laura is gone! my sons are lost to me! my heart is broken ?” End she fell on her knees by the bedside, covering her face with her hands.
Theodore rushed from the room, being unable to bear the scene any longer; and, meeting Dr. Simpson in the hall, entreated him to call me.
I was dressed, and lying on my sofa, when the summons arrived from my son: I made what haste I could to obey it; and found Theodore returned to the library, awaiting my appearance in a sort of gloomy silence, with his arms folded, and his eyes fixed on the ground; while Lady Roxeter, having become more tranquil, was again pleading with Lord Bellamy to grant her the confidence she required. Lord Bellamy, in the mean time, appeared to be under the influence of violent agitation. Dr. Simpson followed me into the room, to beg us to
defer the explanation, which he judged was going forward, till our minds were more composed.
“They never can be composed, Sir,” said Lady Roxeter, “till this heavy weight is removed from our hearts.”
True,” replied the physician; “ but you are none of you fit for shocks like these."
Dr. Simpson was an old man, had seen much of the world, and was a tried friend of the family.
“It seems,” said he, “ that neither you, my Lord, nor you, Lady Roxeter, are sufficiently calm to try this matter fairly. There is some misunderstanding, some mistake in this dreadful business, I am convinced. I have been a close observer since I have been in attendance here, and my opinion respecting the affair does not coincide with that of others. Might I be permitted to state it in the present company ?"
We earnestly entreated him so to do; and he begged that Thomas Jefferies might be called. Theodore ran with alacrity to find him: he was at hand; and Dr. Simpson then directed that every one should be ordered out of the hall, and the library-door locked.
“I am in spirits,” said the good old gentleman: “ are now in the way of getting at the truth without calling counsel. We have hitherto been all too warm, and too ill, and too much agitated; and, moreover, too anxious to keep our private opinions to ourselves, to be in the way of finding out the truth. In cases of this kind, inquiry generally tends to restore peace. I cannot believe that Mr. Westfield is guilty of deliberate villany; though I know that you all suspect him. Do not speak, Sir; you may trust in me; and, such being the case, I am of opinion that the matter should be searched to the bottom. It is only where we fear to bring conviction and shame upon a dear friend that we can desire to prevaricate. And, now, Lord Bellamy, I begin with you; and, having felt the pulse of your mind, and observed all your symptoms, I venture to pronounce, that you do not choose to speak what you know, for fear of implicating your brother and increasing your mother's misery. Is it not so, my Lord ?"
Lord Bellamy made no answer. “Well, well,” said Dr. Simpson; “very well; all con