Page images

sided previous to his death. You may learn much by that means."

“ Very true, - I might go myself; but how far is it from hence ? fifty or sixty miles, I fancy.”

6. Rather under that, I think, Yorke; but there is no occasion for your going. A letter to the minister of the parish will do equally well.”

" That is not complimentary, my good fellow, to your friend's powers of unravelling a mystery. I am determined to go myself, if it be only to show you how clever I am in collecting information."

« Oh !” said Mr. Camden, laughing at his friend's warmth, “ I do not mean to doubt

your exertions; but I really think, on second thoughts, you may spare yourself the trouble.”

" But if I do not mind the trouble, and you have no objection, I would rather go. I am quite interested for these two poor little things.” “ Well, Yorke, I will not dissuade


from your good intentions; therefore you can do as

you please.

66 Then to-morrow I will be off; and I have little doubt of being able to elucidate something."

They now left the cottage, after desiring Mrs. Dickson to pay every attention to the motherless infants, whom Mrs. Yorke promised to see again the following morning.

During the three succeeding days, Mr. Yorke was absent on his benevolent mission; and at his return, he hastened to acquaint his friend, that he had learnt, after the greatest difficulty, that Mrs. Blessington was the only child of the late Mr. Ward, who was a widower, and who had idolised her. When scarcely seventeen, she became attached to Mr. Blessington, who was a sub-lieutenant of a regiment stationed in the neighbourhood. The youth of Blessington (for he was only twenty), added to his well-known dissipation, at once decided Mr. Ward on refusing to listen to the union of the lovers; and this, for the moment, destroyed their hopes. Mr. Ward too fondly confided in the obedience and attachment of his daughter, whom he never for an instant thought capable of producing the grief she would so soon cause him; as a month had scarcely elapsed ere she left her parent, her home, and assuredly her self-esteem, to follow the fortunes of her lover. The regiment had been ordered to another part of the country, and no account of her had been received for more than two years ; for Mr. Ward, justly incensed, made no attempt to reclaim her; and during which time he had died (as Mr. Yorke's informant stated) from pure grief. About three months after his death, a letter was received from her, addressed to him, which was opened by his executors, and found to contain many expressions of the deepest sorrow for the past, and hopes of forgiveness. No mention had been made of her situation ; but she had requested some pecuniary assistance, however trifling. In consequence of this communication, her father's executors forwarded the letter, which proved so fatal to the unhappy young woman. But all Mr. Yorke's endeavours to gain intelligence of Mr. Blessington's father proved fruitless; as it was supposed, Mr. Ward was not sufficiently acquainted with the young man; or, from his utter disinclination to the match, did not deem it necessary to ascertain any thing about his relations; for he never mentioned, even if he knew, whether such a person existed. “ Besides,” continued Mr. Yorke, “ the person who told me all this, and who was the clergyman of the village, expressed his doubts if the young people were ever married ; and, in that case, the unlikelihood of Mr. Blessington's doing any thing for the poor children, supposing it possible to find him.”

66 An unfortunate business indeed !” said Mr. Camden, with a sigh, as his friend concludedan unfortunate business indeed! I did not anticipate that climax to their imprudence.” — After a moment's pause, he added, “ But we must, if possible, avert from these innocent sufferers the consequence of their parents' errors; therefore, come with me to the cottage, Yorke, and we will see what can be done for the best.” So saying, he took his hat, and, accompanied by his friend, proceeded to Mrs. Dickson's. They walked silently along, each absorbed in his own thoughts, until they reached their destination. On opening the cottage door, Mrs. Dickson advanced, with the little boy in her arms, who, now grown familiar with the worthy Rector, stretched out his little hands to meet him. The appeal to his notice was not made in vain.

“ Poor innocent !” he said, as he received and kindly kissed the little helpless being, who smiled his welcome; “ thou art happily unconscious of thy destitute situation, and, should Heaven spare my life, may it be my care to keep thee in ignorance of the loss of thy natural protectors ! The Almighty has placed thee in my hands, and I willingly accept the trust!”

“ How worthy is that promise of yourself, my friend !” said Mr. Yorke, pressing Mr. Camden's hand.“ To answer the cry of the fatherless, and defend the


is your happiness; and your goodness cannot fail to meet its reward. But I hope you will permit me to share your good work, and provide for the girl, who, you must allow, will be more suitably placed under the care of my Fanny."

“I honour your feelings, Yorke; but I think you should consult your lady prior to making so serious an engagement. Recollect, she may not be so willing as yourself to undertake the charge; and in that case it would be dooming her, yourself, and the object of your solicitude, to disagreeables, which I should be distressed to see you suffer from.

Gain Mrs. Yorke's acquiescence, and I will resign Emily to you."

“ Fanny's consent I can safely answer for; but nevertheless I will accede to your proposal of informing her of my intention; and as

« PreviousContinue »