Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

you, and here I am, as if it would make you better instead of worse ; but the truth be, that I could talk for ever about Miss Bertha, and you don't seem to dislike it neither yourself, sir.”

“ It does me good,” said I.

“And well it máy,” added the dame, “ for she is just like a kindly May morning, that does good to everybody and every thing. To be sure, we all wondered how you could leave her in all her grief the first evening she came home, and go without your supper to them woods, and all to be knocked on the head by a nasty poacher ; but there is no accounting for tastes. However, I hope to see you pure well again soon, and no more talking in your sleep.”

“Sleep ! did I talk in my sleep?"

“Aye, that you did, to me and the doctor too, and all about Miss Bertha."

“Good heavens! I hope —! For God's sake what did I say?"

“Oh, I hardly know, but a great deal of romancing; for you talked of loving her more than forty thousand brothers, if she had them; so of course you thought there were many more than poor Mister Charles; and besides that, you said you were married to Miss Bertha in heaven, and would go and live with her there ; and that she was a rose, and

a queen,

and I don't know what besides. But the doctor, he knows all about it, and said you were wandering, and did not know what you said; and for my part, I thought so too, and so did Miss Bertha herself, when I told her of it. But, good God, sir, I am afraid you are going

off again, for you just look as wbite as a sheet, and as frightful as when you were first knocked down. Dear me, what shall I get you ?"

Something indeed seemed necessary; for the thought of all I had said in my delirium being known, not only to Margaret, but to Bertha herself, filled me with agony; I felt my wound severely, and was very sick.

Luckily Sandford was just arrived from York; and came in at the moment. He saw my distress, and asked Margaret the cause of it, who declared she did not know, for she had only been having the most innocentest conversation possible, just to amuse me, as I seemed rather low. When, however, having sent Margaret out of the room, he heard the particulars, he was not surprised, but told me not to alarm myself, for that Miss Hastings was much too sensible a creature, as well as too just, to take any thing amiss from a man not himself.

“ To be sure," said he, “ if she did, you are in a bad

you have a great deal more to answer for than what Margaret told you."

He then informed me of all I had said to himself about Bertha; “ And, by the way,” said he, “it is well, perhaps, that Mr. Hastings is not Dionysius, who, you know, put a man to death for dreaming that he had killed him, because it denoted a foregone conclusion. Here, however, if your heart is as safe as your head, as I hope it is, you have nothing to fear.”

Though he said this playfully, and to recover me from the mental excitement occasioned by Margaret's garrulity, I felt seriously alarmed at the thought

way, for

that Bertha had been made conscious of her power over me, even in delirium. Sandford saw it, and bent all his efforts to do away the effect, but rather too emphatically, as I thought, dwelling upon the impossibility of Bertha's taking it ill, and her conviction of the total impossibility of my thinking of the thing itself. He succeeded, however, in calming me, and left me, saying, I was going on well.

Thus, said I to myself, everybody concurs in holding, that to think, feel, and act as I do, is madness; and the best I can expect is, that Bertha, from forming the same judgment, will acquit me of presumption, and still allow me to be her friend; which will be felicity enough. The thought soothed.

CHAPTER IV.

I BID FAREWELL TO ALL HOPES OF BERTHA, AND

LEAVE FOLJAMBE PARK FOR EVER.

The crown and comfort of my life, your favour,
I do give lost.

SHAKSPEARE.- Winter's Tale.

Although
The air of paradise did fan the house,
And angels offic'd all, I will be gone,
That pitiful rumour may report my fight,
To consolate thine ear.

All's Well that Ends Well.

It was two days more before I was able, or rather willing, to quit my room ; for though my wound was healing fast, my strength recruited, and I had no more delirium, my vanity, or (as vanity has been characterised) my desire to make myself agreeable, could not bear the thought of appearing before Bertha with my head bound up, to hide the patches still necessary for

my cure. Both Mr. Hastings and Bertha congratulated me cordially enough on my reappearance among them; yet, as my fears whispered me, they were not quite so cordial as they had been. There was a constraint, a

thoughtfulness, in the demeanour of both, which I did not like. Was this owing to the tales told by the delirium? I was afraid to answer.

The same constraint seemed to pursue them the rest of the day, which, as Mr. Hastings was naturally reserved, did not in him surprise me; and for Bertha herself, though of so very frank a nature, much allowance was to be made, from the mournful circumstances that surrounded her. Still one would have thought hat, as I had been invited with the express view of contributing comfort to the family under those circumstances, I might have been admitted to a fuller companionship than was now awarded me. The saloon where we had generally sat was avoided, and Bertha, if not closeted with her father, passed the whole moriling, and even the evening, in her own room; so that, except at meals, there seemed an absolute interdiction of intercourse.

This continued all the next day, when a still more marked incident proved the change I had noticed. Observing my young friend cloaked at the halldoor, preparing for a walk, and offering to attend her, she protested so strongly against my wish, on the score of my weakened state, although I felt quite myself, that I saw this could only proceed from design, and I instantly desisted. That day I saw her no more, except at dinner and tea, when the conversation, contrary to its wont, was altogether uninteresting

Alarmed and mortified, I had recourse to my asual counsellor, Granville, who told me news which

« ПредишнаНапред »