Imagens das páginas

Eaglesholme there. But she had no sooner entered it than her guitar, her drawing instruments, nay, almost every piece of furniture in the apartment her eyes rested on, brought the figure of Amherst fresh before her mind, and recalled all those tender hours they had so lately spent together, giving way to the enjoyment of those exquisite feelings arising from a virtuous and reciprocal passion, and in the full anticipation of an immediate union. How agonizing the events of one little day! The images which crowded to her imagination powerfully overcame her, and just as Madame Bossanville was preparing to go to Lord Eaglesholme to invite him to the drawing-room, Miss Malcolm burst into an agony of grief so violent, that the compassionate old lady saw the necessity of postponing the interview for some time, to allow the fulness of her heart to exhaust itself, before she should be subjected to that restraint, which she knew she would impose on herself, to alleviate her uncle's great anxiety regarding her.

Madame Bossanville, therefore, seated herself in a large fauteuil, with her back to the windows, and with her eyes fixed in melancholy sympathy on her young friend, who had thrown herself into a high-backed sofa, and was giving vent to her affliction with her head buried in the folds of a shawl. She watched her with painful solicitude, until the paroxysm of grief had in some measure expended itself; and her sighs and the throbbings of her bosom were gradually subsiding, when, as she was about to offer a few words of comfort, her ear was struck with a sound resembling the sharp click of the spring bolt of the glass-door, immediately behind her, as if turned by some hamd.

She was in the act of stretching round, to gain a view backwards, beyond the high enclosure of the chair she was in, and in doing so, she glanced her eyes across the field of a large mirror, on' the opposite wall, which reflecting the image of that side of the room behind her, showed her the glass-door open, and the figure of a man muffled up, with his face almost entirely concealed beneath the shade of a very broad hat, stealing forwards upon them.

Before she had more than time to utter a faint scream, four or five ruffians, similarly disguised, were in the room, and Miss Malcolm and she

were both seized at the same moment. All farther power of alarm was instantly taken from her, by the application of a shielded gag to her mouth, and in the space of a second or two, she was tied to her chair in so effectual a manner, that she could neither move hand nor foot; whilst Miss Malcolm was as instantaneously shrouded up in a large cloak, deprived of all possibility of resistance, or even of utterance, lifted up by a man, carried rapidly away through the glass-door, and borne off through the garden almost in a state of insensibility.

The party having hurried on with her towards the farther extremity of the peninsula, she felt herself lowered down, as if by means of a ladder, over the rampart wall of the enclosure, and placed in a boat that immediately pushed off from the shore; and, from the speed with which the passage was effected, she guessed that she had crossed one of the arms of the bay to the nearest landing-place. There she was lifted from the boat, and the cloak being removed, she was permitted to breathe more freely for a few moments, when she perceived some persons waiting under the shade of the trees with horses. A hat and mantle belonging to herself, snatched up by the villains in the apartment where she was seized, were now hastily adjusted to her head and person, and as she was attempting to scream out, she was again wrapped up in the large cloak, in such a manner as to deafen her cries, and placed with the utmost expedition on a pad behind one of the men, and being strapped to his back, so as to remove all chance of her falling, the whole troop set off at full gallop through the wild and unfrequented chace, and then over the high downs towards the sea.

There the reports of cannon were distinctly heard coming from the water, and the party halted for some time on the brow of the precipice, in great confusion, as if their plans had been disconcerted by some unforeseen event. After a hasty debate, the import of which her terror and agitation enabled her to gather but very imperfectly, they again turned their horses' heads, and galloped towards the country.

A few minutes had hardly elapsed after the perpetration of this outrageous act, when Lord Eaglesholme, impatient to see his niece, tapped gently at the door of the drawing room. After having two or three times repeated his signal,

with that delicacy with which he always approached the abode of the ladies, he retired, and, ringing for Epingle, who, in the solitude of her apartment, was employed in giving way to her own woes, he sent her to inquire whether his niece would receive him, while he stood without, waiting for admission.

The girl had no sooner entered than she uttered a loud scream, and fell senseless on the floor. Filled with alarm, Lord Eaglesholme rushed into the apartment, when, to his astonishment and dismay, he found Madame Bossanville in the state she had been left by the ruffians. He hastened to release her, and soon learned from her all the dreadful particulars she had witnessed.

Frantic with despair, he called his servants, and searched through every part of the garden with torches. Numerous steps were traced across some of the new dug borders, where many of the plants and flowers had been broken and trodden down by the hasty feet of the ravishers. At length they were tracked to that part of the wall where the ladder, left behind them in their hurry, was still standing. But here all traces were of course lost. Once on the lake, their probable point of

« AnteriorContinuar »