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alarmed by another loud halloo close at hand, and the keepers had recourse to their staves ; but we were relieved by finding it proceeded from Granville, who had also come in search of me, and seen the lights. His surprise and concern at my condition may be imagined, to say nothing of his alarm at seeing my head bound with bloody handkerchiefs.
The keepers acquainted him with the cause, and I had strength to get upon my legs, though not to walk, and we were half a mile from the house. In this emergency he detached one of the men to the stables for a park chair, with an order not to disclose what had happened ; which was obeyed like most orders to keep news secret, especially when it is of an alarming character.
In fact, when we arrived at the hall, which it took full half an hour to do, we found the whole family in commotion and on the watch, Mr. Hastings and Bertha at their head—the first in great agitation-the last as pale as death. Spite of my suffering, which was severe enough, I anxiously watched her demeanour, and hoped, I own, for sweet words of sympathy and interest. She spoke not a word, except in a sort of murmur, casting up her eyes to heaven, and saying “ It is a mercy he is alive !" then clasping her hands in a sort of fervour, as if in mental prayer. This was no more than what
young woman might have done, yet it pleased me. carried up stairs by the servants, she following to the chamber door, when the looked at her watch with some earnestness, saying to her father—" It will be
full half an hour before he can be here, even if at home; pray God he may be so."
Mr. Hastings, who had shewn the kindest attention, explained this. My good daughter,” said he, “ sent off an express for Sandford; he will be here presently, and, I trust, will set you right. It will be a warning to you.”
He was going on, as he afterwards told me, to scold me for night wandering, but seeing I looked white and faint, forbore. Meantime, Bertha had reviewed all the cordials in the housekeeper's room, and sent her maid with one to my bed-side. She never lost her collectedness.
To shorten matters, Sandford came about midnight, and pronounced that the brain was safe, though there might be a concussion, in which case he said the profuse bleeding, which made things so frightful in appearance, might, in reality, have been of service. He even applied leeches to the swollen and livid temples, having brought them on purpose, in consequence of learning, in a note expressly from Bertha, the particulars of the wound, as she learned them from the keeper. Every thing, however, was to depend upon a quiet night, to watch which, Mrs. Margaret, Bertha's maid (with whom, I believe I have said I had been a sort of a favourite during my first visit), volunteered, with the full approbation of her mistress. Sandford, at the request of that mistress and her father, agreed to sleep at the house.
A DELIRIUM BETRAYS ME-STRANGE THAT A CHAM
BERMAID CANNOT KEEP A SECRET.
What I have done,
I begin a new chapter to say that a blow on the head, well laid on by a poacher, is no trifling matter, and that, though sense may be restored, it may not continue. The agitation I had gone through previous to that occasioned by this ruffian blow, and renewed by the recent scene, put an end to the hope of that quiet on which my cure was to depend. I slept, indeed, but it was a sleep of fever and tumult; my dreams were horrible; they were of Bertha and her brother, both of whom I thought lay murdered before
I woke, but the delusion continued. I was delirious; I raved, and my raving was all of Bertha.
“I loved her,” I cried (so it was reported). “ Forty thousand brothers could not, with all their quantity of love, make up my sum. She is gone, but I shall marry her in heaven."
This was repeated more than once, and Mrs. Margaret, in consternation, fled to Sandford for succour. He came; my delirium continued; and I told him Lord Albany was an evil genius, who had killed Bertha, but that Bertha was betrothed to me.
Alas! poor mad brain! to what had a poacher's arm reduced thee!
The good Sandford used all his skill to recall my mind; and after many more incoherencies of the same nature, all turning upon the death of Foljambe and my marriage with Bertha, he succeeded.
One of his methods to restore reason was to encourage what I was disposed to say, by appearing to converse with me. Among other things, I happened to say, “She is the queen of flowers.” He asked, “Who?" I said, “ Bertha." I then exclaimed, “Oh, beautiful one, fit to be queen of the world !” He again asked, “Who?" and I again answered, “ Bertha !" you love her, then ?” said he, on purpose to draw me into trying conclusions, which he held was the best way to make reason return. My reply was, “Do I love heaven ? and do I not weep for her?” and the notion of weeping produced the act, which, by the relief it gave to my hot brain, was the first indication I gave of a step towards recovery.
I did not learn, however, what had passed till two days afterwards, when I had fully recovered my reason, by sleep and the use of opiates. All the next day I was kept in bed, the room darkened, and not a word allowed to be spoken; though Granville kindly relieved Mrs. Margaret in watching by my bed-side ;
and several times Mr. Hastings came in to inquire, which he seemed to do with interest.
A greater comfort, however, was the next day, when Mrs. Margaret assured me that her mistress was “in a peck of troubles” at what had happened. My only reply to this was, that she was very condescending ; to which Mrs. Margaret, who was as prone to talk of her mistress as most other waiting gentlewomen, replied,
“ Indeed she is, sir, the most condescendingest, sweetest lady in England, and so you would say if you knew her as we do. Only the wonderment is, that when she might have so many great lords and barrownights, who all court her, she will never marry.”
This excited my interest, and I wished her to go on, which she was very willing to do, without being spurred. However, as a little impetus, I just observed, “ Probably there is no one good enough for her?"
“Oh dear no,” replied Mrs. Margaret," that can't be the reason ; that is, as far as quality and money are concerned : for there was my lord (Albany, of course), and Sir Harry, and her cousin, young Mr. Mansell, who has, that is to say, will have, a mint of money; and they were all dying for her; but she refused 'em all, and I am told (for she never talks to me about them things) that she will never marry at all, being like married already to her papa, who is as fond of her as she of him, and good reason for both. But Lord bless you, sir, the doctor told me not to talk to