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For some time he gave no other signs of life than by breathing with greater freedom, but at length he sighed repeatedly, opened his eyes, looked wildly around him, and exclaiming in a faint voice, “Is Harry Sidney safe? Has Herbert escaped ? Then I care for nothing-I surrender! I surrender !” he again closed his eyes, and relapsed into apparent insensibility.
“ His bodily functions are returning,” said the Priest; 66 but his wits may for some little time be disordered by the shock he has received, and we must therefore endeavour to promote sleep, Nature's great restorative, which is the safest and the best remedy."
“ He had better be left to repose upon the couch,” added Mr. Shelton, “ since any fresh removal might add to his exhaustion."
“ You can retire therefore," said the Priest, “ and give orders that the house be kept as quiet as possible, while I watch by the side of my patient, who, I much fear, cannot yet be pronounced out of danger.”
Agatha and her father were about to with
draw, when the surgeon, who had been sent for, entered the apartment, and had no sooner learned the particulars of the accident, and felt the patient's pulse, than he expressed great apprehensions that there might be some concussion of the brain, recommending that no time should be lost in apprising his friends of the precarious situation in which he was placed. To effect this, since it was not deemed expedient to question the sufferer, even if he had been able to answer interrogatories, it became necessary to search his pockets; in which they found a purse, well stored with gold, two or three trifling articles, and a pocket-book, carefully tied up, but nothing that might indicate his name or rank, or afford any clue to the meaning of the green uniform, or the silver cross and greyhound. Such being the case, it was held excusable to open the pocket-book, which, however, did not furnish the information required ; for, although it contained a great variety of letters, they were all written in an unknown cipher, with no other superscription than a number.
“ Some mystery appears to attach to this unfortunate gentleman,” observed the surgeon to Mr. Shelton : " and unless, when he recovers his faculties, he can clear it up to your entire satisfaction, I should recommend you to disburthen yourself of him as quickly as may be, for these are most perilous times; rumours are already afloat to the disparagement of Hales Court and its inmates, and we, who live in the West, and recollect the bloody doings of Jeffreys and Kirke, after Monmouth's rebellion, cannot be too cautious as to whom we receive into our dwellings."
“I thank you for your admonition,” replied the party thus addressed; “it is our determination to hold ourselves carefully aloof from all political or religious proceedings that might implicate us in the present crisis, but we cannot be deaf to the claims of common humanity, nor shall it ever be said that the gates of Hales Court were shut against the innocent victims of misfortune."
“ But if they be not innocent in the Argus eyes of Government, it may be madness and
self-destruction to harbour them even for an instant. This man may be a proclaimed traitor. Recollect Mrs. Gaunt- recollect Lady Lisle.”
“ Never can we forget their barbarous execution !” exclaimed Father Bartholomew indignantly—“ neither as men and Christians can we cease to hold in remembrance that the good Samaritan asked no questions of the fainting traveller, but, looking upon him as his neighbour, poured oil and wine into his wounds, and made provision for his future comfort."
“ Neither do I see why we should draw any uncharitable conclusions of this unfortunate gentleman," said Agatha. " He is a fellowcreature, and he needs our assistance only the more for being a stranger in this part of the country.”
Mystery, Miss Shelton, may well justify suspicion ; but follow your own course -follow your own course, and I will pursue mine. I will send such medicines as his case demands, and will revisit him in the morning.”— With
these words, and after having given a few hasty instructions as to the mode of treating the sufferer, the surgeon withdrew, not sorry apparently to escape from a patient, whose ambiguous character had already filled him with apprehensions and misgivings.
When the wounded man again recovered his faculties, he stared around him with a bewilderment that for some moments deprived him of speech; but, after a seeming effort at recollection, he exclaimed, in nearly the same words as he had before uttered—“ Where is Harry Sidney? where is Herbert ? have they escaped ? Then I care for nothing."
“ You are in the hands of friends," said Father Bartholomew, gazing at him with a benignant and assuring smile,“ but you have received a perilous shock; you must not speak; you must not agitate yourself; swallow this opiate, and in the morning, when you will be better able to bear and to understand the communication, I will relate to you all that has occurred, and tell you where you are."