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were Dick here, he would, I am sure, take the freedom to hide 'em."
Further discourse was cut short by the sudden opening of the door, followed by the abrupt entrance of a tall, slender young man, who hastily advanced towards the table, around which the company were seated. His appearance excited the utmost astonishment in the whole group: curiosity was exhibited in every countenance the magnum remained poised midway in the hand of Palmer — Doctor Small scorched his thumb in the bowl of his pipe; and Mr. Coates was almost choked, by swallowing an inordinate whiff of vapour.
"Young Sir Ranulph!" ejaculated he, so soon as the syncope would permit him.
"Sir Ranulph here? echoed Palmer, rising.
66 Angels and ministers! exclaimed Small.
"Odsbodikins!" cried Titus, with a theatrical start; "this is more than I expected."
Gentlemen," said Ranulph, "do not let my unexpected arrival here discompose you. Doctor Small, you will excuse the manner of my greeting; and you, Mr. Coates. of the present party, I believe, was my father's medical attendant, Doctor Tyrconnel."
"I had that honour," replied the Irishman, bowing profoundly"I am Doctor Tyrconnel, Sir Ranulph, at your service."
When, and at what hour, did my father breathe his last, sir?" inquired Ranulph.
"Poor Sir Piers," answered Titus, again bowing, " departed this life on Thursday last."
"The hour? the precise minute?" asked Ranulph, eagerly.
"Troth, Sir Ranulph, as nearly as I can recollect, it might be a few minutes before midnight."
"The very hour!" exclaimed Ranulph, striding towards the window. His steps were arrested as his eye fell upon the attire of his father, which, as we have before noticed, hung at that end of the room. A slight shudder passed over his frame. There was a momentary pause, during which Ranulph continued gazing intently at the apparel. "The very dress too!" muttered he; then, turning to the assembly, who were watching his movements with surprise, "Doctor," said he,
addressing Small, "I have something for your private ear. Gentlemen, will you spare us the room for a few minutes ? "On my conscience," said Tyrconnel to Jack Palmer, as they quitted the sanctum, a mighty fine boy is this young and a chip of the ould block! he'll be as
good a fellow as his father."
"No doubt," replied Palmer, shutting the door. what the devil brought him back, just in the nick of it."
"THERE is nothing, I trust, my dear young friend, and quondam pupil," said Dr. Small, as the door was closed, "that weighs upon your mind, beyond the sorrow naturally incident to an affliction, severe as the present. Forgive my apprehensions,
if I am wrong. You know the affectionate interest I have ever felt for you—an interest which, I assure you, is nowise diminished, and which will excuse my urging you to unburden your mind to me; assuring yourself, that whatever may be your disclosure, you will have my sincere sympathy and commiseration. I may be better able to advise with you, should counsel be necessary, than others, from my knowledge of your character and temperament. I would not anticipate evil, and am, perhaps, unnecessarily apprehensive. But I own, I am startled at the incoherence of your expressions, coupled with your sudden and almost mysterious appearance at this distressing conjuncture. Answer me: has your return been the result of mere accident? is it to be considered one of those singular circumstances which almost look like fate, and baffle
our comprehension? or were you nearer home than we expected, and received the news of your father's demise through some channel unknown to us? Satisfy my curiosity, I beg of you, upon this point."
"Your curiosity, my dear sir," replied Ranulph, gravely and sadly, "will not be decreased, when I tell you, that my return has neither been the work of chance, (for I came, fully anticipating the dread event, which I find realised,) nor has it been occasioned by any intelligence derived from yourself, or others. It was only, indeed, upon my arrival here that I received full confirmation of my apprehensions. I had another, a more terrible summons to return."
"What summons? you perplex me!"-exclaimed Small, gazing with some misgiving into the face of his young friend.
"I am myself perplexed-sorely perplexed," returned Ranulph. "I have much to relate; but, I pray you bear with me to the end. I have that on my mind which, like guilt,
must be revealed."
"Speak, then, fearlessly to me," said Small, affectionately pressing Ranulph's hand; " and assure yourself, beforehand, of my sympathy."
"It will be necessary," said Ranulph, "to preface my narrative by some slight allusion to certain painful events (and yet I know not why I should call them painful, excepting in their consequences) which influenced my conduct in my final interview between my father and myself- an interview which occasioned my departure for the Continent - and which was of a character so dreadful, that I would not even revert to it, were it not a necessary preliminary to the circumstance I am about to detail.
"When I left Oxford, I passed a few weeks alone, in London. A college friend, whom I accidentally met, introduced me, during a promenade in St. James's Park, to some acquaintances of his own, who were taking an airing in the Mall at the same time- a family whose name was Mowbray, consisting of a widow lady, her son, and daughter. This introduction was made in compliance with my own request. I had been struck by the singular beauty of the younger lady, whose countenance had a peculiar and inexpressible charm to me, from its marked resemblance to the portrait of the Lady Eleanor
Rookwood, whose charms, and unhappy fate, I have so often dwelt upon and deplored. The picture is there," continued Ranulph, pointing to it: "look at it, and you have the fair creature I speak of before you; the colour of the hair-the tenderness of the eyes. No-the expression is not so sad, except when-but no matter! I recognised her features at once.
"It struck me, that upon the mention of my name, the party betrayed some surprise, especially the elder lady. For my own part, I was so attracted by the beauty of the daughter, the effect of which upon me seemed rather the fulfilment of a predestined event, originating in the strange fascination which the family portrait had wrought in my heart, than the operation of what is called 'love at first sight,' that I was insensible to the agitation of the mother. In vain I endeavoured to rally myself; my efforts at conversation were fruitless; I could not talk—all I could do was silently to yield to the soft witchery of those tender eyes; my admiration increasing each instant that I gazed upon them.
"I accompanied them home. Attracted as by some irresistible spell, I could not tear myself away; so that, although I fancied I could perceive symptoms of displeasure in the looks of both the mother and the son, yet, regardless of consequences, I ventured, uninvited, to enter the house. In order to shake off the restraint which I felt my society imposed, I found it absolutely necessary to divest myself of bashfulness, and to exert such conversational powers as I possessed. I succeeded so well, that the discourse soon became lively and animated; and what chiefly delighted me was, that she, for whose sake I had committed my present rudeness, became radiant with smiles. I had been all eagerness to seek for some explanation of the resemblance to which I have just alluded, and the fitting moment had, I conceived, arrived. I called attention to a peculiar expression in the features of Miss Mowbray, and then instanced the likeness that subsisted between her and my ancestress. 'It is the more singular,' I said, turning to her mother, because there could have been no affinity, that I am aware of, between them, and yet the likeness is really surprising.' It is not so singular as you imagine,' answered Mrs. Mowbray, there is a close affinity. That Lady Rookwood was my mother. Eleanor Mowbray does resemble her ill-fated ancestress.'
I gazed at Mrs.
"Words cannot paint my astonishment. Mowbray, considering whether I had not misconstrued her speech-whether I had not so shaped the sounds, as to suit my own quick and passionate conceptions. But no! I read in her calm, collected countenance- -in the downcast glance, and sudden sadness of Eleanor, as well as in the changed and haughty demeanour of the brother, that I had heard her rightly. Eleanor Mowbray was my cousin-the descendant of that hapless creature whose image I had almost worshipped.
"Recovering from my surprise, I addressed Mrs. Mowbray, endeavouring to excuse my ignorance of our relationship, on the plea that I had not been given to understand that such had been the name of the gentleman she had espoused. Nor was it,' answered she, the name he bore at Rookwood; circumstances forbad it then. From the hour I quitted that house until this moment, excepting one interview with my — with Sir Reginald Rookwood- I have seen none of my family— have held no communication with them. My brothers have been strangers to me; the very name of Rookwood has been unheard, unknown; nor would you have been admitted here, had not accident occasioned it.' I ventured now to interrupt her, and to express a hope that she would suffer an acquaintance to be kept up, which had so fortunately commenced, and which might most probably bring about an entire reconciliation between the families. I was so earnest in my expostulations, my whole soul being in them, that she inclined a more friendly ear to me. Eleanor, too, smiled encouragement. Love lent me eloquence; and at length, as a token of my success, and her own relenting, Mrs. Mowbray held forth her hand: I clasped it eagerly. It was the happiest moment of my life.
"I will not trouble you with any lengthened description of Eleanor Mowbray. I hope, at some period or other, you may still be enabled to see her, and judge for yourself; for though adverse circumstances have hitherto conspired to separate us, the time for a renewal of our acquaintance is approaching, I trust, for I am not yet altogether without hope. But thus much I may be allowed to say, that her rare endowments of person were only equalled by the graces of her mind.
"Educated abroad, she had all the vivacity of our livelier neighbours, combined with every solid qualification which we