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On seeing O’Gollochar standing behind Amherst, her countenance underwent a considerable change, and she betrayed a genuine vexation not to be mistaken. It flashed, however, only for a moment from her
and immediate ly subdued, and veiled beneath a borrowed air of extreme sensibility.
“Ah! Mr Oakenwold!" said she, “ I see your feeling heart has been beating in unison with mine. You will perhaps be surprised to see me here, but I was really so touched by the tale of woe we both heard so lately, that I could not rest until I should visit the poor woman, to endeavour to alleviate her affliction, and to administer in person to the wants of her and her family. I am resolved to have them put beyond the reach of misery. Her husband and child shall soon be restored to health ; I mean to order my own physician to attend them.”
Amherst wanted words to frame a reply to so gross and unblushing an affectation of feelings which he knew were strangers to the bosom of her who uttered them. He hesitated - but he was spared the necessity of attempting it. Mrs Morley's little boy had come to the door to gaze with
childish curiosity at the gilded carriage. The mother's eye had caught a view of him, and of it from within. In the midst of her delirium, a confused recollection of her first day's affliction came suddenly upon her. She wildly threw the corpse of her baby into the lap of one of the women near her, and just as Amherst was in the act of assisting the lady with formal politeness to descend, she rushed precipitately to the door.
“ Oh Jem! Jem! Jem !” exclaimed she with frantic gestures, for in her madness she fancied it was her eldest son—“the carriage! the carriage ! -oh my boy!"
She snatched up the child in her arms, retreated two or three steps inwards, and stood with her body bent, and her eyes rolling round on the objects without, in a frenzy of terror. At last they rested on Miss Delassaux, and the sight of her seemed to give rise to a new train of ideas, for setting down the boy, and bursting into a maniac laugh, she went out to her curtseying, and composedly smiling.
“ Is it you, my Lady !—this is an honour indeed !—pray, walk in, my Lady. I dreamt a sad and frightful dream. I dreamt that poor Jem
was crushed beneath your wheels. But it was all a dream. Pray, walk in, my Lady—you have been kind, kind to me ;"—and taking Miss Delassaux by the hand with a pleased and happy smile, “ come in," said she, “pray, come in, my Lady; our cottage is not so nice as it used to be -the vines and roses are all withered. But my husband and baby are quite well now; your kind relief has saved them both. May Heaven, in its justice, reward you for it, and make you one day as happy as you have made me !"
Miss Delassaux appeared astonished and perplexed, but though young, she was an able actress. The part she was now playing was deep, and too important to be slighted. Turning half round, therefore, she said to Amherst with a look of extreme sentiment,
“ I am sure, Mr Oakenwold, you, who have doubtless often experienced such feelings, must envy me mine at this moment;" and then putting her white handkerchief to her eyes, as if perfectly overcome, she permitted herself to be led into the hovel by the wretched lunatic.
Good Heaven! what a scene ensued! The corpse of Morley and the child were both lying
exposed. Amherst, anticipating what must follow, could not bear to remain to witness it. As he darted towards the lane, he heard the piercing shriek of Miss Delassaux, and the wild laugh of the maniac rang in his ears, as he hastily continued his retreat. He instinctively put up his hands to shut out the sound, but in vain, for fancy made him hear and see the whole that passed, and he shuddered to think of it.
On his way homeward, as he recovered himself, in some degree, from the agitated state of mind the melancholy and distressing events of the day had thrown him into, his thoughts naturally reverted to that brilliant dream of happiness he was lulled into, by the fascination of the enchanting Miss Delassaux, whilst he yet believed her to be an angel. How few hours had elapsed since that dream had fled !-He was almost tempted to hesitate whether he was not now under some delusion. That a heart so unfeeling should exist in the bosom of so lovely a person, and that so much art should be possessed by one so young, seemed to render her, in his eyes, a monster he could not have believed to have ex
istence in nature. He trembled when he looked back to the precipice he had so recently stood on, and from which he had so narrowly escaped. He felt confounded, when he reflected how long, and how perfectly the mask had deceived him, and by what accident it had been at last torn off, so as to give him resolution and strength to burst the snares of her of whose hypocrisy he was now too surely convinced.
There was something in O'Gollochar's account of Antonio the Neapolitan, that gave him an air of mystery. Why should such a ruffian, as he appeared, be retained in the service of Lady Deborah and her niece, and cherished and protected, too, with all the care that might have been bestowed, with better justice, on the long tried worth of a faithful and respectable domestic ? There was something very unaccountable and perplexing in this, nor could all his speculation bring him to any thing like a probable interpretation of it.
The result of Amherst's reflections was, that before he reached home, not only were all thoughts of connecting himself with Miss Delas