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he is inflicting, or the tender, loving hearts he is lacerating so dreadfully. Not so, reader! 'not so. Not only does he know the misery he is inflicting, but he glories in it with a fiendish joy. Every pang that wounds the hearts of these agonized parents is to him a source of intense gratification. They are the objects of his hatred-the hatred of one of the blackest and vilest hearts out of hell—the hatred of one who, while possessing the human shape, has lost every vestige of humanity; whose dark, bad passions have gained the entire mastery over him, and made him more a demon than a man. The author of this unparalleled cruelty is that young man's father-in-law—the parent of her who sits before him, and bends her face of ashy hue and silent suffering, over the shrunken frame of her perishing first-born.
We need not tell the grief of that heart-broken mother. Every mother knows what it must have been, and every one can imagine its bitter anguish. If there is any literal truth in the saying, “ a bleeding heart," can we do other than believe that hers was bleeding out its ruddyest drops at that excruciating moment when she hung over the face of her dying boy? She had kept in his young
exiga tence for many days, by denying herself the little food her husband could give from his meagre allowance; but the sacrifice was in vain, and there he lay, with the damp dews of death glistening on his forehead.
As thus the parents gazed with agony over the infant, a slight convulsion passed over its little helpless body.
The mother shuddered, and looked wildly up.
“O Richard!” she exclaimed, pleadingly," do let me go this once? Another appeal may soften his heart, and our boy may yet be saved. Once more
monly once." “For the sake of our little one I consent," answered the husband, in a hollow voice. "O God! will this man's heart still remain obdurate? It cannot, surely it cannot be. His daughter's anguish, her
prayers, her pale face of misery, must subdue him, and bring relenting feelings. Yes; go, Fanny, go; and Heaven speed your mission !"
6 But the child! I-I fear I have not strength to carry it 80 far," said the trembling mother,
“No, no; give him to me. I will watch over him till your return.' And the distracted father held out his arms to receive the infant.
Slowly and reluctantly did the mother yield him even to that paternal bosom; and long and yearning was the look she gave him ere she rose to go. Who can tell the strength or the depth of a mother's love ?"
“Now, Fanny, now," whispered Richard. With an effort she quitted the seat, and tottered across the floor.
“Good Heaven! Fanny, you are faint-you are ill!” exclaimed her husband, seeing her stagger, and catch at the wall for support.
“Imno. It is only a passing giddiness," said the wife, with a faint smile. Alas! it was extreme weakness, caused by want.
Another long look, a passionate kiss on the little white face of the sufferer, and the heart-broken mother left the apartment, casting back at the door a look of undying affection towards her husband.
Gently did the prisoner hold the boy in his arms, and walk with it to and fro in the room. Presently another and stronger convulsion shook its tiny frame, and a groan broke from the father's lips as he beheld it. He sat down with it upon the seat on which his wife had rested, and rocked it slowly on his knees.
"O God! it is dying, it is dying!” he exclaimed, as another and another shock caught and twisted its fragile limbs.
Not a tear flowed; but the blood-shot, glaring eye, the heaving breast, and suspended breath, told how terrible was the woe of that parent's heart.
Again, and again, and yet again did the poor child struggle with the throes of death, till even from the father's heart & prayer went up to heaven that the sufferer might be released.
That prayer was in mercy answered. After a minute's intense agony, the form grew motionless and still; and the pale face, though it could grow no paler than before, smoothed itself into
and over it there was a smile the farewell smile of the innocent one to earth, on which it had so briefly sojourned. The smile did not vanish with the last breath and the last sigh; but the stiffening features retained it, and it remained to beautify the corpse.
Gone, gone!” murmured the bereaved father. Thy brief, sore life is ended. Like an early bud, thou hast withered before the cold, cruel blast of adversity."
He wept now. The sight of the still, lifeless form opened the pentup fountain, and passionate sobs shook fearfully his manly breast.
“Fanny, 0 Fanny!” he exclaimed, wildly, starting up from the seat, “what shall I say when you return and ask me for our child ?"
And he sank down again, laid his face close to the cold face of his boy, and watered the withered flower with another gush of tears.
SIR EDWARD ROCKHART.
The sun shone into a splendid apartment in George Square, and gilded the rich furniture with his beams. On the floor of that princely room walked Sir Edward Rockhart, and his appearance
Sir Edward was not like a man who could at any time be the possessor of calm, placid feelings; for every feature of his face showed that passions of the strongest and wildest nature ruled him with undisputed sway. A dark, gloomy eye, which was accustomed to shoot forth glances of baleful fire, d'erhung by black, shaggy eyebrows, and a low, villanous brow; a small, sharp nose, and thin, compressed lips, were the prominent features of his repulsive countenance; while a frown seemed to have stereotyped itself on his forehead, as the enduring index of his nature.
To look for feeling or emotion in the heart of one whose face was such as we have described, was altogether vain. Selfishness, and the influence of unchecked and ever-gratified passion, forbade any. thing like an approach to kindly feeling, or the cherishing of social or domestic desires. No one shared in his heart. It was all his own, such as it was; and, if it was capable at all of sympathy, that capability had never been tested. Sir Edward, at the time we first see him, was not what may
be called an old man. Possibly his age might be about furty-eight, and he did not look a year older. Selfish men do not, as a rule, wear fast. The very pursuit in which they are engaged-looking after themselves, and trying to make themselves as comfortable in the world as possible--prevents this; and while unchecked passion is always considered to make havoc on the constitution, and induce premature old age, yet this is true only so far. The unlicensed gratification of physical or animal desires does undoubtedly bring the penalty of debility and exhaustion; but moral lawlessness has not the same effect, except as regards the moral faculties. Now, Sir Edward Rockhart was not physically intemperate. He was neither a gambler, a drunkard, a spendthrift, nor å rake. In hours, diet, and occupation, he was what is termed quite respectable. It was his moral being that was so debased. Principle he had none; but the want of principle does not necessarily make the hair soon grey, or cause an early stoop in the frame; and so it happened that while Sir Edward was the monster we bave indicated, he was physically a hale, robust man.
Yet had he his cares and anxieties like others, and these were all the more burdensome, because they were of his own production, resulting from the wicked, deceitful ways he had practised. One dark dread had impended over him for the last eighteen years, and many were the attempts he had made to get the danger obviated; but without success. To explain this, we must briefly trace Sir Edward's history.
He was the younger son of a baronet, whose estate lay in the south of Scotland. His elder brother being, of course, heir to the title and property, he was required to follow some profession, and chose that of a lawyer, an occupation for which his cunning, calculating nature
well fitted him. At an early age, he married into an old, but decayed family, and bade fair to become a prosperous, but compara. tively obscure man, when an event occurred, which entirely altered his social position.
His brother Ringald, contrary to his father's wish, had not married. When he returned from his travels in England and on the continent, the old baronet, who had selected for him a lady suitable, as he thought, in every respect, urged him to the goal of matrimony; but Ringald would not listen. It seemed as if the idea of marriage was utterly abhorrent to him; and this was all the more strange, as it was well known by those acquainted with him, that he possessed a heart overflowing with all the affections, and a nature especially fitted for domestic life. When urged on the matter, however, he said he had no wish to marry, and immediately turned the conversation to some other subject. His father, with a dissatisfied sigh, would give up the point, and allow him to have his own way, in the hope that this strange fancy would leave him, and that he would yet see an heir to the Rockhart baronetcy.
But, alas! for the stability of human hopes. One day Ringald was out hunting, when his horse threw him, and falling violently on his head, he was killed on the spot. The sight of his noble son, carried home a corpse, was a shock too great for the old man to sustain. A fit of apoplexy came on, and in a few hours he too was dead.
Edward was hastily summoned from the city, to lay the heads of his father and brother in the grave, and enter on the inheritance which had so unexpectedly fallen to him. We need not say that his mourning did not reach beneath the suit of black which he wore on the occasion, and that it was with a feeling of positive joy that he took possession of the family mansion, and looked over the broad acres, which he now owned as their lord.
He lost no time in winding up his professional affairs, and transferring his wife and daughter, from the obscure house in the city in which they had lived, to the comforts and splendours of Rockhart Hall.
A week or two after the deaths, Sir Edward was seated before his brother's bureau, examining his papers. Nothing of particular interest had passed through his hands, and he was about to close one of the drawers, when an open aperture at the back caught his eye. A secret spring had been neglected to be fastened, and in the cavity to which it gave access lay two letters. He drew them forth, and examined them first of all on the outside. One had no superscription at all; but the other was addressed to Ringald, in a lady's hand. This, Sir Edward opened first; and no one can describe the consternation into which he was thrown by its contents. nearly starting from their sockets, he read the long letter to an end, and learned for the first time that his brother had left a wife and
child—a boy, who was, of course, the heir to the Rockhart baronetcy and estate.
The marriage had been perfectly legal; for the lady wrote of having obeyed Ringald's directions, and placed the certificate in the secret drawer of her bureau—a bureau, as it appeared, exactly similar to one which Ringald himself possessed. Then she spoke of her boy-her noble, beautiful boy—so like his father, so generons and high-spirited-concluding with a promise not to divulge her relationship, till Ringald found himself in a position to own her,
The confounded Sir Edward, with frantic eagerness, snatched up the other letter, and opened it. It was in his brother's hand-writing, and began “My Dearest Wife.” The writer's language was tender and affectionate in the extreme. He thanked her for her constancy and devotion, and spoke hopefully of being soon able to proclaim her openly as his wife. Of his boy, also, he wrote with pride and fatherly joy, and promised to visit them both in a few days.
There was no address upon the letter; but, looking at the date, Sir Edward perceived that it had been written on the morning of his death. Ringald must have been hurriedly called away to the hunt, thrown both letters into the cavity-not even taking time to fasten the spring--intending, doubtless, to address and despatch his communication when he returned. This, however, a sudden death prevented him from accomplishing.
It would be vain to attempt to describe the state of mind into which Sir Edward was thrown by the perusal of these documents. lle was not the rightful owner of Rockhart Hall, though up to that liour he considered he was. And though the world still considered him to be so, a child was in existence, his brother's child, born in lawful wedlock; and it was he who was the proper heir to that princely mansion, the fertile farms which surrounded it, and the handsome building in George Square, to which the family repaired during the winter.
This was a most momentous discovery, and long the baronet sat in deep cogitation. Ilis first and chief anxiety was to discover his sister-in-law and her child. Noble, generous, just man! thinks a vain reader, thus to desire to seek out and render justice to that newmade widow and her babe. Alas! it was with a very different object that he sought to find these secluded ones. Not to restore, but to prevent the necessity of restoration, either now or hereafter, was his object. Could he but gain access to that bureau, and get possession of the dangerous document it contained ;-this was what his desires pointed to; and until this was done, he felt his position would be most insecure. With that paper in existence, and in the mother's possession, he was liable at any moment to be reduced to beggary—a position so very unenviable and uncomfortable, that he resolved to avoid it by every possible means.