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heart, by its violent fluttering, betrayed its own secret, and had she not left the room to attend upon Edith, it might have become as impossible to conceal the agitation of her joy from others as from herself.
But however satisfactory to all parties might be the prospect of the patient's recovery, it came not unattended with cause for fresh and deep anxiety, since there was every reason to apprehend that the place of his retreat was suspected, if not known, and that Hales Court was beset with spies. The servants reported that on two succeeding nights, just as the family were about to retire to bed, they had discovered a stranger lurking under the parlour casement, as if for the purpose of listening to the conversation within ; while upon another occasion they had seen a man perched in the elm tree in the dusk of evening, and peering cautiously through the window of the sick gentleman's apartment. The latter trespasser they had nearly secured, but he had contrived to make his escape into the plantations, not, however, until they had as
certained that he was dressed in laced clothes; from which circumstance, as well as from the correspondence of figure and appearance, they were led to conclude that he was the identical gentleman who, by the postman's account, had waylaid him for some mornings past, and insisted upon reading the superscription of all the letters he was bearing to the house. From various other sources they also learnt that blind rumours were afloat of some mysterious inmate concealed, and of dangerous plots secretly hatching at Hales Court; tidings, it was intimated, which had already excited the attention of the Magistrates, and were by no means unlikely to terminate in search warrants and inquisitorial visits.
Feeling, therefore, that no time was to be lost, Mr. Shelton betook himself to the sick room, sat himself down by the side of the invalid, and requesting him not to be alarmed at the communication he was about to make, revealed to him, that in his moments of delirium he had
himself betrayed that his name was Stanley Forester.
“ You need not start, Sir,” he continued
you need not eye me with such suspicion. Unfortunately, we are all of us aware, as who indeed is not? that you have been proclaimed, that a reward has been offered for your apprehension; we are conscious of the capital penalty we are encountering, for we have none of us forgot the executious of Mrs. Gaunt and Lady Lisle; but we have all come to the solemn and irrevocable determination to put our own lives in jeopardy rather than to sacrifice yours by giving you up; an act of positive cruelty and treachery which we hold in greater abhorrence than any contingent perils we can possibly encounter.”
He then proceeded to urge the necessity of his making his escape with the least possible delay, recapitulating the circumstances from which they suspected the house to be beleaguered by a spy, and not forgetting to men
tion a vow made by Edith - Colyton, that, since she had in the first instance been happily instrumental in preserving him, she would not quit Hales Court until his escape had been accomplished.
6 Generous, affectionate girl !" ejaculated Forester—" who could have expected such firmand courage in one so delicate and
apparently so timid ? From your daughter, from that incomparable 'wonder of her sex, no act of magnanimity, however incredible, would surprise me ; for grandeur and elevation of soul are seen in every feature of her noble countenance, while even her majestic form seems to give assurance that she is incapable of an ignoble action. But why should I make any distinctions ? you have been all equally brave, generous and humane,—the gentle Edith Colyton, your exalted daughter, yourself, and that truly Christian priest, Father Bartholomew, to whom I am not only indebted for my recovered health, but for the cure of my ignorant and undistinguishing prejudice against
his order. Mr. Shelton, you are perhaps astonished at the calmness with which I speak; I am surprised at it myself, for my feelings are usually ardent and impetuous, even to ex
It is said that small griefs are loud, while greater ones are silent. So must it be with benefits received, and this will explain why I am so overwhelmed, so oppressed, so stupified with the weight of my obligations as to be utterly incapable of adequately expressing my gratitude. I will not even attempt it, but I must, I will endeavour to show by my actions that I am not altogether unworthy of your
inappreciable kindness. Oh these letters, these important letters !”—he continued, taking them from his pocket-book, and tearing them into minute particles as he spake". I would almost have lost my right hand if so I might have delivered them safely; but it cannot be, and though they are written in cypher, I will place them beyond the possibility of detection. Let these fragments, I beseech you, be committed to the flames. If I am not heard of, dupli