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terview in the lime avenue, from whence she has never since returned. This circumstance alone, sir, independent of the claim which Fanny, as the faithful attendant and humble friend for so many years of your lamented lady, as the affectionate and careful preceptress of your only daughter, possesses on your protection—this circumstance demands on your part every possible effort for her restoration."
“ Can it be possible, Charles, my good fellow,” said sir Richard, " that after passing so many years in the
army, soldiers are said to be keen, sharp fellows, you can be so credulous as to attach any credit to what that talkative woman, Mrs. Harty, says on this subject ?”
“ The matter speaks for itself, sir; and when Fanny is not to be found, what reason have we to deny our credence to what Mrs. Harty affirms on the occasion ?”
“ It was all a mere trick of that same babbling Mrs. Harty,” rejoined sir Richard, " and one to which I was surprised
Mr. Fairfield would lend his faith, or in which he would take a part. Fanny is only gone in an angry pet to Dublin; in another month or two, when her annuity becomes due, if I do not hear from her, I must make some inquiry; for though, like other proud people, she scorned all obligation, I shall not suffer her to want any comfort in consequence.”
“ The cold selfish policy of a sordid worid, sir Richard,” answered Plunket, “ has left the poor unfavoured Fanny (though perhaps the most disinterested being in existence, and that she really presents to all those whom she regards a warm heart overflowing with pure affection) few friends; and can you, sir, who should be of those few her most steadfast friend, in her greatest need desert her? Forbid it," he continued, with energy, and raising his hands and eyes in fervent ejaculation; “ forbid it, every kind feeling of humanity which binds man to his fellow-creature! forbid it, every noble principle of honour
and generosity, which exacts from the great succour for the little, and from the patron protection for his dependants !"
“Fanny,” observed the baronet," though a good-natured creature, is a hot-headed, foolish woman; yet you know, Charles, I would not see an injury done her.”
“ On this occasion, sir," resumed Plunket coldly, “ you owe it to the vindication of your own name, which has been assumed for the vile purpose of deceiving an innocent woman, to have this affair investigated.”
“What am I to do?” inquired the goodnatured knight, who began to feel an awakening interest about Fanny; " tell me, my good fellow, how I am to act, and I will do as you would have me.”
Charles, a good deal pleased to have succeeded thus far, was about to recapitulate in full detail the circumstances which led to Fanny's sudden disappearance, in order to awaken in the baronet's mind by progressive degrees those suspicions (which he would unhesitatingly repel, if presented in a direct attack) of his lady being the principal actress in this business, when Kitty Hobbs, bursting open without ceremony the door of the apartment, exclaimed, in a whining tone-“ My lady, my poor lady! sir Richard, come instantly to her assistance. There she is dying, thrown into a fit, that will certainly kill her, by Mr. Plunket's ungentlemanly treatment."
“ What is the meaning of this, sir ?" demanded the baronet, rising angrily, and hobbling in great haste out of the apartment.
Kitty Hobbs, wringing her hands, and with doleful cries striving to force out a tear, skipped before, and Plunket in'utter amazement followed.
On their entrance into the parlour, lady Courteney, quite distorted by angry passions, and in strong hysteric affections, appeared, as she reclined between two servants who supported her in their arms, to work violently. Kitty, taking a hand, addressed to her lady's inattentive ear a mingled jargon of complaint and consolation; sir Richard, pressing between his the other hand, attempted with words of kindest sympathy to awaken his dear wife's recollection; and Plunket, with a look that expressed at once contemptuous incredulity and disappointed regret, stood before the apparent sufferer,an idle, though not indifferent, spectator.
After repeated convulsive emotions, the lady's agitations appeared to subside, and she sunk into a calm and profound stillness; but in this tranquil state she opened her eyes on Plunket, when, shuddering as it would seem with horror at the sight of so repulsive an object, who struck instantaneously on some discordant nerve, she shrieked violently; and forcibly withdrawing her hands, with which she covered her eyes, worked with a receding motion against the servants, who now only with great difficulty sustained her struggling frame.