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potent enough to cancel your claims on our protection and assistance; and as to hatred of an afflicted and helpless fellow creature, it is a feeling that can scarcely find entrance at Hales Court. If you have any such secret, divulge it not ; enough for us that we have done our duty, that we have obeyed the Gospel precept, you were a stranger, and we have taken you in.”
« And I should be a wretch indeed not to acknowledge with heartfelt gratitude the delicate generosity of your sentiments, and the humanity of your conduct. But where are my fair preservers, where are the compassionate ladies to whose prompt interference I am more immediately indebted for deliverance from the perils of the storm, to the fury of which I fear they must have been exposed in their exertions to save me? Heaven grant that they may have sustained no injury! But may I not see them, to express my feelings, to pour forth my heartfelt acknowledgments ?”
“ Not now : for the present it must suffice you to know that they are well, although one
of them, a most delicate and nervous girl, was little fitted for braving such a strife of the elements. You are not equal to any fresh interview ; indeed I have already allowed you to talk too much and too eagerly. Your exhausted looks do not warrant this liberty, and still less does your pulse, which indicates the approach, if not the actual presence of high and dangerous fever. Of the gentlemen whose names you mentioned, and respecting whose fate you so anxiously inquired, we know and wish to know nothing whatever: for yourself you are with friends who will shield and shelter you. Let this assurance bring that composure to your mind of which it has so much need, and that you may not be tempted to any farther colloquy I will withdraw myself until the arrival of the Surgeon who promised us an early visit.”
So saying he retired, and remained absent from the apartment until the medical practitioner made his appearance, which, however, was delayed considerably beyond the promised hour.
After the latter had continued some time with his patient, he hastily quitted the sick room, and demanded an immediate private interview with the Master of the mansion.
-66 Mr. Shelton !” he exclaimed, on being closeted with that gentleman,—“ I fear you have got a troublesome, and perhaps a perilous guest within your gates, nor will his situation warrant any very early removal, unless we put his life in jeopardy, for although I have bled him copiously, there is too much reason to apprehend that he must undergo a severe, perhaps a fatal attack of brain fever. The inconvenience to which this might subject you, is, however, of trivial import compared to the fearful responsibility of harbouring a suspicious character,-one who, as I have already forewarned you, may be a proclaimed enemy of the Government, or engaged in traitorous machinations."
“ Have you then observed any thing to confirm your first suspicions upon this subject ?”
“ Yes, more than I would care to repeat to
any breathing soul except yourself. When I explained the impunctuality of my visit by stating that I had been suddenly summoned to Sutton Mallet to attend some newly arrived troopers, one of whom had been kicked by a horse, your guest started up in his bed, exclaiming: "Ha! have they sent troopers in pursuit? Of whom are they in search ? Harry and Herbert have escaped. Let it not be known, I implore you, that any stranger has been seen in these parts. Surely they will not visit Hales Court! But it is immaterial-I will quit it instantly—I feel quite well now-have they found my horse ? I will resume my journey forth with.' With these words he sank back again upon his pillow from exhaustion, and when I assured him that he would be unable to quit his bed for some days, perhaps weeks, and that it might be right to apprise his parents, if he had any, of his precarious plight, he ejaculated, What! would you have me implicate my father! expose his estates to forfeiture, and it may be, bring his
venerable head to the scaffold! Begone, Sir, you have mistaken your man,-you know not to whom you are talking. From his wild and incoherent manner, I concluded that the brainfever might already have begun to exert its influence; and availing myself therefore of his last remark, I replied that I had not indeed the honour of knowing him, but that if he would favour me with his name I would myself communicate his situation to his friends, since he was himself little in a condition to write."
“ And has he divulged it ?” inquired Mr. Shelton with a look of considerable anxiety.
No, indeed, his features assumed a sarcastic smile as he exclaimed, “Oh ho! Sir, are you there ? have I found you out ? I am in your power-I feel that I cannot stir - you may surrender me to the troopers—you may immure me in a dungeon ; but you do not, you cannot know me, and ere my tongue shall reveal my name, I would pluck it out, and trample on it with my heel !""
“ This is strange, it must be confessed; but