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as I am alive, and right glad I am to see him!”
Sir Charles corroborated this exclamation, by moving forward heartily to greet the young incumbent.
"Most happy indeed am I to see you!" repeated he, “ and to tell you how deeply Lady Helen and I regret what occurred this morning.”
“ And you may well add,” interposed Lady Helen, “how truly annoyed and concerned we are, that any one belonging to us should have been connected with so unbecoming a proceeding. All that I can say is, that, had she been any child of mine, she should have entreated your forgiveness upon her knees.”
“And so I will kneel to him, if it be required !” exclaimed the over-excited Cécile; “ not to claim forgiveness where there has been no offence, but to adjure him that he should tell the whole truth, which he so well knows. I appeal to you, Mr. Lewis ; did you find me, this morning or ever, unmindful of all that I owe, both to your feelings and to your sacred character? If you have a word of reproach or reproof to utter with regard to my conduct to-day, pray let it not remain unsaid.”
“I, Miss Basinstoke ?” replied the perplexed clergyman. “I really cannot conceive to what you are alluding. Nothing could exceed the courtesy and kindness I met with from you, in circumstances the saddest and most embarrassing. My only regret can be, that our efforts might not be united in the same cause."
“And I can affirm too,” said St. Edmunds, at length overcoming his hesitation to join in a conversation which, after all, had reached him more through accident than by design, “I can affirm, too, that Miss Basinstoke most scrupulously abstained from using any influence over the mind of that poor girl, whose own determination was most clearly shown throughout.”
“Ah, indeed! so much the better !” exclaimed the relenting Baronet. “Come, shake hands, Mademoiselle, and, since it has been all so well meant, let's hear no more about it; only, for Heaven's sake! another time, where a priest is really wanted, don't let the message be sent in any of our names. That's all right, so we need not advertise in the “Times'
“You know that I have no chance of finding a situation at present,” was Cécile’s attempted reply; but, for some cause or another, her voice faltered strangely, as she once and again pressed her parent-uncle's hand to her lips, nor, for very many seconds, could her subdued eyes be again raised.
“ You see that the child has a heart, after all, Lewis,” said the Baronet; “ though she is a desperate rebel, to be sure.”
“She has indeed a heart, Sir Charles," replied the young clergyman, “and one which, with the grace of God, will, I earnestly trust, lead the wanderer some day into the true fold of Christ.”
Cécile now slowly looked up, and fixing the undimned lustre of. her ardent glance full upon the speaker's countenance, she softly said :
“I have long, indeed, had a misgiving that we should some day, Mr. Lewis, be united in one fold, where you would be my pastor, and earnestly have I prayed that that day may not be long delayed.”
We presume that this answer did not receive a precisely similar interpretation from all present, for while the honest Baronet exclaimed : “ You see, Lewis, that there is some hope of her still,” the young clergyman seemed more embarrassed than otherwise, and even coloured slightly, when he saw the grey eye of Lady Helen intently fastened upon him. As, however, he had not yet stated the object of his visit, it was but natural that he should now have declared it, and he anxiously inquired whether Sir Charles, or those around him, had received any injury during the unfortunate occurrences of the afternoon. This question led to a long and private conversation between him and the master of the house, which afforded the willing Cécile an opportunity for escaping, in the joyful expectation that she would hear no more of the subject just disposed of. Unfortunately, it was otherwise decreed by the 'Lincoln Chronicle,' which, when opened, on the ensuing morning, was found to contain an article very much to the following effect :
“We have delayed our publication of this day, with a view of giving our readers the earliest intimation which has reached us respecting a very serious affray, that took place, yesterday afternoon, in the neighbourhood of Redburn
Hall. It would appear that the Basinstoke family have at length thrown off the mask, and considering, no doubt, the day as a peculiarly felicitous one for a Catholic demonstration, proceeded in such good earnest, as thoroughly to exasperate the honest feelings of the locality. We are, of course, obliged to defer all particulars for the present, but we are credibly informed that several shots were fired, that many serious injuries were received, and that, had it not been for the prompt and energetic good-will with which Protestant feelings and claims were vindicated, the most fatal results might have ensued. As it is, the lesson has been no less severe than well merited, and we can only trust that it may be equally beneficial.”
The worthy Baronet's horror on perusing this paragraph, could only have been surpassed by the suppressed exultation of Lady Helen. In vain did Constance, Edward, and St. Edmunds each endeavour to instil some comfort into his wounded spirit, by representing the imaginative statement as a mere electioneering manoeuvre : it was of no avail, the cold steel of the writer's Perryian pen had entered into his soul. Lucky it was that Cécile's natural allies were now