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hopes that the little skill I may possess, aided by my urgent prayers to Heaven, may perfect the recovery of our unfortunate inmate. To this object we must devote all our attentions unaided by others, for henceforth no servant must approach the sick chamber, lest to them also should he divulge the fatal secret of which we are the present depositaries. That they are perfectly trustworthy I have little doubt, but they need not be implicated in the grave perils with which we are environed.
He paused ; all seemed by their looks to yield assent to what he had proposed, but the silence remained unbroken.
“ The most important consideration," resumed the Father, 6 remains to be discussed ; but in a matter where the lives of all are in equal jeopardy, I wish to be understood as not venturing to advise others, but simply expressing my own individual opinion. generous friend and benefactor, are the proprietor of this mansion, and should therefore more fitly pronounce upon the course to be
adopted, where your life and your estate are both at issue: you, my daughters, who from your youth may well look forward to many, many years of happiness, should not be influenced by the decision of an infirm old man, whose mortal career is well nigh ended, and to whom, therefore, it can matter little whether his aged head be laid in the dust a few months sooner or later. Speaking, however, for myself alone, and not without such self-communing and prayer as the time would allow, I will unequivocally declare, that considering the calamity which first threw this unfortunate traveller upon our protection and mercy, as well as the mental derangement that made him the unconscivus revealer of his own secret, it were base and unworthy of us, either as Christians or as fellow-creatures, to betray him to certain destruction, to have him rudely torn from beneath our roof in his present piteous plight, and to give him up to a public, ignominious, and cruel death."
“ Death !” cried Edith with a faint shriek,
“Oh gracious Heaven! they should tear me first into ten thousand pieces !" And she sunk shuddering and gasping into the arms of Agatha, who supported her upon her bosom, and looked earnestly at her father, as if waiting to hear his sentiments before she delivered her
“ For my own sake, but still more for yours," said Mr. Shelton, “ I would most gladly have avoided this perilous predicament; but it has not been of our seeking, it has been the pure result of accident, our ill-starred guest was no party to it, and has evinced nothing but a generous anxiety, even at his own risk, to relieve us from all responsibility. Conscience, duty, humanity, every thing therefore forbids us to sacrifice him. The hazards we incur are imminent, deadly; but come what may, I will not have my name coupled with cowardice and dishonour, I will never, never consent to the treachery of giving him up.”
My father, my noble-minded father !” exclaimed Agatha, seizing her parent's hand and
pressing it to her throbbing heart, “ I am proud, delighted, to follow your example, and to share your perils. Give him up! surrender this generous, high-souled man perish the thought ! which of us would not rather die than be guilty of such mean-spirited perfidy? No
we will watch over him; we will effect his cure ; we will accomplish his escape, and it will be a lasting subject of congratulation to us hereafter, that we have dared at all risks to do our duty to an afflicted fellow-creature.”
“God grant it, my child! God grant it !” ejaculated Mr. Shelton, tenderly embracing his daughter~" It is at least some security that we can implicitly trust one another, though I am not the less sorry that your young friend, whose delicate health little qualifies her for such agitating scenes, should have become involved in our troubles.”
o Fear not for me, Sir,” said Edith — " in such a cause I feel that I could undertake or endure any thing. They shall cut my heart out before I reveal a syllable of our secret."
56 I am not surprised,” said Father Bartholomew, who, though superior to most of his order upon essential points, retained many touches of their trifling superstition — “I am not surprised at this untoward occurrence - I have anticipated some misfortune ever since the picture of St. Agatha fell from the wall as I was kneeling before it in our little chapel. I will again betake myself to my prayers on the same spot, imploring the intercession of the Saint to deliver us from our perils, and in the meanwhile I commit my patient to your care. Return, some of you, to his apartment, watch beside him, and give me immediate notice should my presence be required."