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of all my communications, not one, they say, has been received. Had I been with the army, I would have spurned their imputations; but, stretched on a bed of sickness, I feel it doubly hard.”
“ In that case, Conrad, you should make another effort to soften their displeasure.”
“ Were I in fault, Taylor, I would most willingly, but as it is, my mind is fully made up; therefore do not urge me farther on the subject, for I cannot yield to your kindly intentioned arguments; while, at the same time, it pains me to refuse. Come, let us arrange for our journey; once out of the influence of sick quarters, Conrad Blessington will be himself again. Allons, vive la bagatelle.” Thus did Conrad endeavour to silence his secret uneasiness, which, in spite of himself, still tormented him : be succeeded, however, in silencing his friend's remonstrances, and the prickings of his own conscience, in a great degree, and devoted himself to his active employment. The keenest edge will become blunt by time, and Conrad at length almost forgot, in the tumult of war, that his friends had been cruel and unjust: he still thought of Agnes as his haven of rest, and if a painful thought of the issue of his conduct arose in his mind, he hastened by occupation to obviate its traces.
Thus it often occurs, that conscience wrestles with the angry or indignant feelings of the individual, and would fain lead us aright; while pride, – that bane of life! wounded pride, sets itself in array, and, nourished by excitement, finally triumphs over the best impulses of the heart and mind.
Time ran on; the Peninsula was restored to its lawful possessor, through the agency of British influence; the star of Napoleon waned ; and our friend Conrad, as a drop in the ocean, assisted in his final overthrow on the sanguinary and strongly contested field of Waterloo.
Ernest Bonner had obtained his liberty, and again joined his standard, and fought and bled for fame. Among the sufferers from that battle, Ernest was no mean object; and numerous, though not mortal wounds confined him to a couch of pain. Brussels, that emporium of humanity! that refuge of suffering man! at that moment furnished succour to Ernest. Conrad lost no time in visiting his friend's bedside, and, to his surprise and grief, found Colonel Taylor extended in a similar state near him. A ready hand was extended to each, and words of kindness and sympathy testified his interest in the sufferers.
" It is all over with me, I fear, Conrad," said Colonel Taylor, as he faintly returned the pressure;
66 the rascals have done for me at last.”
“Let us hope for the best; your case may not be so desperate as you fancy, Taylor; surely Doctor Browne can afford some hope."
“ Not of ultimate recovery, Blessington; I feel my wound too deep to admit a cure; but I am glad you have escaped with life and limb, for duties you know not of by right devolve on
“ You surprise me, Taylor; to what duties, to what right do you allude?”
Colonel Taylor passed his hand across his eyes, before he replied, -" To those, Conrad, of executor. During the time we have been fellow-soldiers, my esteem for your character has kept pace only with my friendship and affection; and I know no man more worthy to fulfil my last wishes. These strong expressions may appear strange to you now, but a few words will suffice to explain their import. You have a father, Conrad, an unworthy one, perhaps, - no matter,--still he is your father! Of him and his concerns I know much; and though he has concealed his identity from you successfully for years, yet, with a view to your advantage, I will venture to disclose my knowledge
“ Hold! Taylor," interrupted our hero; “think, before you disclose a friend's secret; I am not ambitious of such a communication. If it be as you say, that I possess a parent, would he not proclaim himself, if he desired the connection brought to light? If, on the contrary, he would shrink from avowing his relationship, neither you as a friend, nor I as a son, should attempt to remove his incognito. No! much as I thank you for your kind intentions, I cannot wish to be known to one who evidently shuns me. If, as a friend, I can do any thing for you, you have but to speak, and whatever I can, I will do."
The Colonel pressed his hand, as he replied,
" That promise, Conrad, and the knowledge I have of your character, assure me that in you, a boy I left in England will find the protector that my death will deprive him of, even without awakening a brother's interest in his behalf.”
“ A brother! who and what do you mean, sir?” exclaimed Conrad, his countenance glowing with astonishment and expectation. “Are you-can you be the parent of whom you have just spoken ?”
“ In me, Conrad, you see the husband and deserter of your unhappy and too confiding mother--the disinherited son of adoring parents—the unjust father of virtuous children and the unhappy, discontented man!” returned Colonel Taylor, in a hollow, mournful tone. " Yet hate me not, my son ! that curse alone is wanting to drug my bitter cup !”
“ Hate you, my father!” said Conrad, throwing himself by the bedside, and fervently pressing the hand the Colonel offered him to his lips. “Never !- can you entertain such an idea of me? Even had I known you as the character you proclaim yourself, I hope I should have recollected my duty better; but, on the contrary, I have found you the warm and steady friend, the father in all but the name, and can I fail to love you as such ? Would you had earlier mitted me to enjoy the prerogative of a son! with