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nurse to England, poured forth his gratitude
in touching strains/^

" No : he never suspected who watched
beside him: — no living being knows, or shall
know it, but yourself; for the Soeur Annette is
in her grave."

'^ Umph ! so the loss then was all on your
side, and the gain all on his ; you gave him
your care, your time, and your heart ; and he
could not be grateful, being unaware of his
obligation/'

" The accounts of his mingled courage and



THE FRIGHT. 21?

and benevolence from those whom he had saved :
— the remembrance of his former kindness,
M hen no one else was kmd : — the anxiety for his
recovery — the doubts — the hopes — the fears —
the Nvutching— the — the — had — " stammered
poor Grace.

" Oh ! I understand all this : he had won
your woman's heart : — a girl has always aa
excuse for these things, either in her own folly
or her idol's perfections. Your gratitude i§ '^
astonishing ! You embalm a memory, as the
Egyptians embalmed their bodies, and preserve
it for years. When did you next meet ?"

" The day of the hunt ball at C— ."

"At the ball?"

"" I believe, but am not certain, that we had
unconsciously taken shelter under the same
shed in the morning ; but he made no allusion
to the circumstance. As he handed me to the
carriage after the ball he declared his intention
of seeing me on the morrow; but he did not
reach Marsfield till after my departure. Then

VOL. III. L.



218 THE FRIGHT.

came Julia's letter. You can now understand
the obstinacy of my pleading that would take
no denial — you can comprehend why I mingled
as little as possible, without exciting suspicion,
in any society where we were likely to meet ;
and will cease to blame my unwearied endea-
vours to reconcile every difference, and urge
Julia to a course of conduct worthy of his re-
gard. Their happiness was all my thought ; —
how to promote that happiness my first endea-
vour. Something of all this you may under-
stand: but you cannot tell — ^you cannot guess
how I struggled day by day, not only to con-
ceal, but to subdue my former weakness ; — how
I prayed that they should be happy, let my
fate be what it would ; and that I mi^ht have
strength to fulfil all other duties, instead of
yielding to my own selfish sorrow. My pallid
cheeks and failing strength were the effects of
that struggle ; but they were happy, and none
guessed the truth, save one — cold, base, and
calculating — his penetration sharpened by his



THE FRIGHT. 219

thirst for wealth ; — and the only bribe to win
his silence was my hand. Think what I en-
dured at this announcement, knowing him
capable of fulfilling his threat of disclosure !
The bribe he required was refused — once in
London, and once here ; — and his threat has
been fulfilled, the secret revealed that should
have gone with me to the grave. Judge me
not hardly — judge in mercy; if I have greatly
erred; believe that I have also greatly suffered."
Mr. RoUeston listened to her earnest appeal
for a merciful judgment in silence. As he
thought over the whole of her conduct ; — the
pressing nature of the circumstances which
compelled her, in common humanity, to play
the nurse;— her disguise and departure at the
first possible moment ; — the generous anxiety
which she had ever shown for the happiness of
JuUa and Ernest ; — the boldness with which
she had pleaded their cause, against herself; —
the constant guard maintained over looks and
words, so that even his almost superhuman
L 3



220 THE FRIGHT.

penetration had been baffled; — the omission
in her narrative of a circumstance^ which
would have acquitted her of having bestowed
her love on one who prized it not ; and the care
which she had ever shown amid all her own
grief for the comfort and pleasure of himself,
and those around her, he felt that admiration
and not censure was the fitting feeling towards
that noble and unselfish spirit. And when he
thought of Dudley's behaviour at the ball — his
scarcely leaving her side — his promise to see
her on the morrow — his promptness to save
her at Richmond, and his unwillingness to be
thanked — his looks when resigning her to his
arms — his passionate expressions of affection
and thankfulness, as he snatched her from de-
struction, which Stephen had related, but Grace>
from delicacy, concealed, with many before in-
explicable points in Julia's manner, he formed
a guess at the real state of the case, not many
removes from the truth ; but to avow his ad-
miration of her self-devotion, or hint at what



THE FRIGHT. 221

he believed, would have militated strongly
against his plans ; and when Grace, surprised
at his silence, ventured a timid glance to ascer-
tain how he had borne her relation, he only
answered coldly : —

^^ I will not increase your pangs by harsh
rebukes."

"Thank you, dear uncle,^* murmured Grace
with a grateful humility, that touched him,
though he would not show that he had been
moved by her words.

" But if I add not to your shame and
remorse, Grace, I would still appeal to your
womanly pride and filial love. Ernest Dudley
seeks you not ; and your father, unless you
consent to my wishes, may die of want.'^

" Do not despise me,^' said Grace, her voice
broken by sobs — her face bent low on her
knees — her whole attitude one of deep humil-
ity. " Do not despise me ; but the struggle
of many months has been in vain. We shall
meet no more ; or if we should, he shall learn



222 THE FRIGHT.

nothing from my manner," she added proudly;
" but at the present moment, with my present
feehngs, I cannot — dare not wed another."

^^ Then you quit Rolleston Court for ever ;
and your father — "

" Oh no ! you will not be so cruel ; you
have shown me the affection of a parent, you
will not now regard me as a stranger, or an
enemy," she exclaimed, interrupting him with
streaming eyes.

^^ Listen, girl ! and learn that I am not to be
turned. The fondness of which you speak was
only a means to gain dominion over you, and
rule you to my will, let that will be what it
might. I encircled you with splendour — I
gave you the habits of expense, that the dread
of poverty might induce submission.*^

" I will not believe this; I will still be grate-
ful for that kindness, nor think it an artful
mean to a cruel end.^^

"Believe on this point as you will," hh
rephed apparently unmoved by her generous



THE FRIGHT. 223

indignation ; " only believe not that I can be
induced to abandon a plan essential to my
peaccj by the entreaties of one, who, debased
by the wealth she professes to despise, and the
splendour for which she refuses to pay the
required price, meanly implores permission to
remain where her presence is no longer
welcome."

" You cannot mean this/' said his niece
colouring at the cruel insult. ^^You cannot
believe me to be so base. Settle your property
on whom you will ; only leave me your affec-
tion ; and bestow a little of your great abun-
dance on my father, and I will<)3e your slave —
your very slave till death."''

'^ I tell you, child, I will give nothing to
your father, until parted from his wife," cried
Mr. Rolleston fiercely. ^^ I have heard your
secret — now hear mine ; but give a hint of its
purport to another, and my enmity shall pursue
you, as it pursued your mother. Here is the



224: TilE FRIGHT.

secret of all my acts. You cannot have for-
gotten our first meeting in this room/^

Grace bowed her head in acquiescence;
his look at that moment^ as he stood before her
in his wrath, recalled the scene to her remem-
brance, though so many years had elapsed
since its enactment.

" Your mother knelt before me pleading as
you did but now ; yet I refused her prayers,
and mocked her misery. No other in the
land could have withstood her beauty and
humble supplications. And what had steeled
my heart against her eloquence ? In my youth,
I loved her mother — and she jilted me.*^

Grace started with surprise and terror ; with
surprise for she had never heard a hinted
suspicion of the fact ; with terror from the
mode of its announcement ; for mingled love
and scorn— the struggles of pride and passion —
the strife of his whole existence seemed reacted
in that one moment*



THE FRIGHT. 225

" Yes^ jilted me !" he repeated after a
moment^s pause, "though she gave to my
rejection a milder term. I was not discarded
because she loved another, for she knew not
that other then, and remained single for years ;
I \^•as not discarded from ambition, for him she
wedded was of poorer birth and fortune, and
finally reduced to almost penury. No ; but I
was discarded— my devotion scorned — my love
rejected from prudence, as she said— a dread of
my fiery temper ; and he who warned her of
this temper was the father of Ernest Dudley.
She wept as she bade me leave her ; but those
very tears were a fresh injury, increasing my
anguish at her loss. It was not to your
father's portionless bride I objected, as all
supposed ; it was to Grace Lowther, the
daughter of her who had thrown me off. My
consent in the first instance was owing to my
ifrnorance of the fact- on account of her father^s
change of name. This confession must con-
vince you of the inutility of further entreaties^ —



226 THE FRIGHT.

the impossibility of your remaining longer
beneath my roof. I mocked at the prayers of
her kneehng daughter — I brook not the per-
suasions of her rebellious grand-child, now that
she knows the wrong inflicted by her grand-
mother. The temper which she dreaded is as
fiery now as in my youth — years of suffering
have not subdued the haughty spirit, that
only bowed to her. You go to-morrow to
your parents ; and they and you are henceforth
aliens to my heart and home/^

Before the shuddering Grace, who had been
fascinated by fear to gaze on his features, con-
vulsed by passion, could reply, he had quitted
the room ; and she was left alone to ponder on
this tale of lingering love, and lasting enmity.
But she was not lefl to ponder long, the violent
ringing of a bell, and a succeeding bustle with
a confusion of tongues told of some occurrence
as rare, as that sudden tumult and confusion.

A thrilling dread came over her — she rushed
into the hall — questioned a passing servant ;



THE FRIGHT. 22?

and had her dread confirmed. Mr. RoUeston
had been found by his valet lying on the floor
of his study, perfectly insensible. That
haughty spirit which would not bend to man
or woman, nor succumb to mental agony whilst
strength remained, had now surrendered to the
weakness of the body, which could no longer
bear the struggles of the mind. For more
than forty years he had brooded over his wrong
in silence — now he had spoken of that wrong
to the child of her child — he had repaid to
her daughter the pangs which she had caused
to him.

But she was avenged for his undying anger ;
the communication had brought back the past
upon him with all the power of the present, till
he was no longer able to endure the torture.
It was some time before he opened his eyes ;
and when he did, those eyes wandered over
the face of his anxious niece, who was kneel-
ing beside him, with a fearful vacancy of
expression.



228 THE FRIGHT.

It was not till after he had been blooded by
the hastily summoned surgeon that Mr. Rol-
leston was sufficiently recovered from his
alarming fit to understand what had occurred ;
and then his bodily weakness was too great to
allow of any voluntary exertion. All that long
and weary night did Grace watch beside his
bed — moistening his parched lips — smoothing
his rumpled pillow — speaking gentle and
soothing words ; and if he did not thank her
for this, he, at least, did not refuse her services,
whilst the housekeeper averred, and the grateful
girl hoped and beHeved, that his eye brightened
as she bent over him, and followed her as she
retreated behind the curtain, that she might
not disturb his rest.

In the morning, the surgeon pronounced him
out of immediate danger ; but hinted at a
relapse unless his patient^s mind were kept
perfectly calm. Any agitation, might cause
another fit ; and Mr. Rolleston, besides always
wishing to be thought better than he really was,.



THE FRIGHT. 229

for it hurt his pride to appear subdued by
bodily pain, was not the most submissive
person in the world to the orders of a doctor,
or the ^vishes of a nurse. The surgeon not
only knew his patient's constitution, but his
emper ; and prescribed accordingly.

" Why are you still here, when I bade you
go ?" said Mr. RoUeston to his niece, sitting
very erect in his large arm chair, having
insisted on leaving his bed the third day after
his alarming seizure.

" I could not leave you whilst so ill, dear
uncle ;'' replied Grace affectionately, though
grieved at the question, having hoped to hear
no more of her departure.

" Since you have staid, you may make my
u ill ; — there are pens and paper in that desk,"
observed her uncle coldly.

" Certainly if you wish it ; but had you not
better defer it for a few days, and then send for
your solicitor ? I fear you will find it too great
an exertion. ^^



230 THE FRIGHT.

" I am the best judge of that ; and hoj>e I
am still master in my own house, though you
would fain be mistress. I will have no delay
lest another attack should deprive me of the
power of disposing of my property. Write as
I dictate ; and the steward, butler, and valet,
can be the witnesses/^

Grace obeyed in silence, though much hurt
at his words ; and it was wonderful to mark
the clearness and distinctness with which one
just risen from a sick bed could enumerate
and devise the whole of his large possessions,
some in land, some in the funds, and much in
various companies ; but it was still more
wonderful, and far more sad, to mark the spirit
by which he was actuated whilst making his
last will and testament.

First came legacies to his old servants and
pensioners ; and here he showed himself, as he
had ever done, a considerate, if not a gracious
master ; then followed bequest after bequest
to charities and societies, till little remained of his



THE FRIGHT. 231

splendid fortune to be bequeathed^ but Rolleston
Court and its surrounding domain.

Here he paused for a moment ; and Grace
listened with breathless suspense^ then with a
deep sighj as he left the estate, which had
descended from sire to son, with some little
abatement, from the time of the conquest, to be
an asylum for the insane. In conclusion,
Stephen Bradley was left executor, with a
legacy of ten thousand pounds for his trouble ;
whilst not another friend or relation was named.

Grace wrote in silence and in sorrow ; — she

felt all that the testator intended she should

feel except anger ; but she uttered no reproach

— deigned no entreaty.

" Read it over ;" said Mr. Rolleston when
she had concluded.

She obeyed without failing a word — called

the witnesses — folded, and sealed it as he

directed ; and then placing it beside him,

resumed her seat.



232 THE FRlGIir.

" Now you will depart, I conclude, without
further demur," observed Mr. RoUeston with a
fever- spot of scarlet in his before ashy cheek.

" Now I may plead more strongly to remain.,
since you cannot attribute that pleading to
interested motives."

" I have said you shall go — and you shall,"
exclaimed the sick man, with a vehemence
which alarmed his anxious nurse.

" Be calm, dear uncle ; and I will go ; — go
when you please, without a murmur. Only
let me remain till you no longer need my care
— till I see you restored to health. You are
still ill — very ill; — and the slightest agitation
may cause a relapse. Let me remain here but
one month," said Grace, taking the sick man^s
hand in hers — a hand that was hot and
feverish.

'^ Do you wish for another month's proba-
tion ?" asked Mr. Rolleston sarcastically, with-
drawing his hand, with a gesture of dis-



THE FRIGHT. 233

pleasure." You shall not stay here a month."

^^ Only a fortnight then/^ said Grace more
timidly, shocked at his violence.

" Will you promise to go at the end of that
time without a murmur ? without an entreaty ?
— without making a scene at the leave taking ?"

^^Yes; if you then say to me — go; — I will
go without a word ; but I shall go in sorrow."

^^ So be it then ; but think not that I shall
change/' said her uncle, sinking back in his
chair exhausted by his late exertions, yielding,
as it seemed, through inability, and not through
disinclination from further opposition.



234 THE FRIGHT.



CHAPTER X.



The fortnight had expired, and Grace entered
the chamber of the invalid with mingled hope
and fear. Every hour had seen an amendment
in his health, at least so he averi'ed, and he had
the night before announced his intention of
dining down stairs on the succeeding day but
one. His niece^s care for his comfort had been
unremitting during that period ; and as he had
not only accepted her attentions, but some
times rewarded them with a smile, declaring
that she was an invaluable nurse, the hope of



THE FRIGHT. 235

being permitted to remain had gradually grown
into an expectation ; yet she did not enter his
presence on this once dreaded morning without
some embarrassment, and a timid glance to
learn her fate from the expression of his coun-
tenance. That expression was more bland and
gracious than usual; and the breakfast was the
gayest breakfast which the uncle and niece had
enjoyed for many weeks. The reverse when it
came was the more astounding.

" I am strong enough now to read the paper
myself/^ he observed, taking it from Grace's
hands, as she was going to commence its pe-
rusal aloud, her usual morning task since his
late illness. " And as you will doubtless have
many orders to give, and many things to ar-
range before your departure, besides taking
leave of the Boltons and your school, I shall
not expect to see you till tea time. The
carriage will be at the door to-morrow morning
at nine ; and John and Sarah will attend you
to your pai'ents ; — how beggars will receive a



236 THE FRIGHT.

beggar_, who might have been rich, and made
them rich too, — time will discover/^

" Must I then go ?'^ asked Grace, shocked
at this abrupt and unexpected announcement.

" Remember your promise. If you have
cherished other hopes it was no fault of mine."

Grace took a step towards the door; and
then turning back, looked wistfully into his
face.

" Go !" he repeated more peremptorily ;
" and give immediate orders for your packing,
which may take some time ; you came with a
scanty wardrobe — you will depart with a well
furnished one.'^

His niece coloured at the sneer.

" 1 would neither seem mean in retaining,
nor ungrateful in declining your presents. Is
it your wish that I should return them ? Jewels
and splendid garments ill suit my future con-
dition," she repUed, roused to indignation by
his ungenerous remark.

" Having given them, they are no longer



THE FRIGHT. 23?

mine ; and to return them would be an insult.
Those jewels may buy bread in the hour of
need."

His niece bowed — she could not speak ; and
quitted the room with a stately step, but a
heavy heart.

After giving the requisite orders to the
astonished Sarah with as much composure as
slie could command, and that was but little ;
she descended to the drawing-room for the
purpose of collecting her music and sketches.

The sun was shining full into the splendid
apartment as she entered ; and a deeper pang
of sorrow shot across her as she gazed around.
She had never before understood how com-
pletely Rolleston Court had become her home.
Its gloom, which had appalled her on her first
entrance and in her late moments of despond-
ency, was gone; and she felt as the warm-
hearted ever feel at leaving a spot where she
had listened to the words, and met the looks of
affection. Every act of kindness received from



238 THE FRIGHT.

her uncle came back on her mind as vividly us
when performed ; but only to heighten her
grief at their present estrangement, and coming
separation. Her eyes wandered slowly round
the room, resting on every well-known object
with the painful thought that she should never
see it more ; and then she hid her face in her
hands to shut out the gladsome sun, whose
brightness seemed to mock her sorrow.

" If you please ma^am Mr. Rolleston bade
me give you this case that you might have it
packed up," said a servant entering at the
moment.

The case contained the miniature of herself —
that very miniature which Lord Brotherton had
proposed to adorn with a coronet ; and which
had been painted for her uncle at his express
desire.

"He not only scorns my affection — he will
not even retain my portrait," thought poor
Grace, her eyes flashing indignantly, through
the tears that filled them, as she dashed the



THE FRIGHT. 239

miniature on the ground with a sudden move-
ment of passion. A trifle will sometimes over-
turn the composure which has withstood sterner
trials. Grace had parted from her uncle with-
out shedding a tear; but this little incident
unnerved her, and she wept for several minutes
with all the violence of strong and unrestrained
emotion.

It was a sorrowful walk, that last walk through
the grounds of Rolleston Court to pay her last
visit to her school, and take leave of the Boltons,
whose regret at her departure grieved, yet
soothed her ; but, true to her promise to her
uncle, she uttered no murmur — used no entreaty
when she joined him at tea; and he, without
taking any notice of her eyes being red with
weeping, talked gaily on indifferent subjects>
as if quite forgetful of the approaching separa-
tion. His niece exerted herself to converse as
gaily and indifferently as himself; but her
conversation was dull and spiritless; and
rather before his usual hour for retiring Mr.



240 THE FRIGHT.

Kollestoii signified that he was weary, and
would fain go to bed.

Grace rose, and stood before him silent and
motionless, her pale lips quivering with the
emotion, which she could not entirely repress.

" There is to be no scene, Grace. Good
night !" said Mr. Rolleston sternly, extending
his hand.

She pressed that hand; but the pressure
was not returned. The good night died in her
throat, and she left the room abruptly without
venturing to look back.

" And we have parted — parted for ever !
and as strangers ! He neither kissed, nor
blessed me as he was wont to do each night
in former times," murmured poor Grace, when
left alone in her own apartment.

That night she cried herself to sleep as she
had so often done in her little garret at Elm-
wood Lodge ; but that sleep was heavy and
unrefreshing ; and when the morning light
came in at her window she started up from a



THE FRIGHT. 241

fearful dream, and wept again at the remem-
brance of her last night's suffering. Then,
after a while, she arose and wrote with a trem-
bling hand a note to her uncle, which was left
with the housekeeper to be delivered on the
following day, in which, after thanking him
in the most grateful terms for his former kind-
ness, she entreated him should he be ill again
to send for her, promising to come and go at
his bidding without delay or entreaty.

As she reached her uncle^s door, Grace
paused for a moment to listen if he were
stirring ; but no sound came from within ;
and with a sob, which she vainly endeavoured
to repress, she passed along the corridor.

Her sob was echoed — she turned hastily
round, with a gleaming of hope ; but that
hope was delusive — it was only the formal
housekeeper, who was weeping like a child.
Grateful for the sympathy, Grace held out her
hand, which the honest woman pressed re-
spectfully, uttering many regrets for her

VOL. III. M



242 THE FRIGHT.

departure ; and many wishes for her future
welfare.

Nor was this the only mark of esteem that
pained yet pleased her on this melancholy
morning. On entering the hall she found all
the domestics assembled to bid her farewell,
and wish her health and happiness.

One of the most timid had suggested that
such an exhibition of regard might displease
Mr. Rolleston; but the bolder calmed such
fears by the assertion that he would know
nothing of the matter, from the early hour of
her departure ; and that all being of the same
mind there would be no one to carry tales. Her
ever kind and gracious manner had won their
hearts ; and they mourned the absence of one
ready to assist their wants, and plead their


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