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was the first name he pronounced; when, to his surprise and distress, he heard of her immediate marriage. " Good Heavens!” exclaimed her brother, “is it possible? and without my knowledge: surely it is not with her own consent ?”
“ No,” said Agnes sorrowfully, “ she has had great difficulty in making up her mind to it; but Mr. Yorke is so peremptory that she has been obliged to consent, though I am sure Frank Mason will have only a widowed heart.”
66 It shall not be,” said Conrad hastily. 6 Thank Heaven! I have returned in time to prevent the sacrifice.
But here Emily comes ! do pray, dear Agnes, apprise her of my return before she enters.
She willingly acquiesced, and in a few minutes the brother and sister were locked in each other's arms. Emily brought the alarming intelligence of Edward Yorke's having been thrown from his horse that morning, when he had been seriously injured; and the Grove was consequently in great confusion. The wedding, of course, must be postponed,” said Agnes.
“ Yes,” replied Emily, -Conrad fancied, with a slight increase of animation in her looks. “ It was on that subject I came to see you, my dear
sir,” addressing Mr. Camden.“ Mr. and Mrs. Yorke are in such distress, it is impossible for it to take place so early as the day after to-morrow. Frank is gone to his father, to apprise him of the accident, and the necessity for delay. How much, dear Conrad, you must have been surprised to hear of this affair.”
“ Not only surprised, Emily, but grieved, deeply grieved by it! I should at least have been consulted."
“ Undoubtedly you would, had we known where to find you; but so many months had elapsed since any thing had been heard of
you, that Mr. Yorke would not listen to my desire for delay, sufficient to receive your consent."
“ And do you really love this Mr. Mason, Emily ?”
“ Conrad !” said she, laying her hand on her brother's arm, “I dare not answer that question."
“ And yet you dare to go to the altar, and bestow your hand upon him?"
“ I obey the call of duty,” said she in a low, concentrated voice.
“And forget every other?”
“Oh! stay, dear brother; do not unsettle my mind; I have made it up with difficulty.”
“ I will not see two persons made miserable, Emily, if I can prevent it, particularly as the happiness of both is in my keeping; but we will discuss this business another time; and I will now satisfy your curiosity on the subject of my adventures, which I was going to detail when you arrived.” Conrad then proceeded to give his friends a sketch of what had happened to him abroad; to which they all listened with equal attention and astonishment. Question succeeded question so quickly, that Conrad had not a moment's respite; at length he was obliged to request, that they would reserve their interrogatories until he had finished his narrative.
When he had done so, and numerous and anxious enquiries were being made respecting Colonel Taylor by Agnes and her father, Emily, who had remained silent some time, said, in a calm but solemn voice, -" Conrad, you have doubtless avoided naming one, who was very dear to me, from kind consideration of my feelings; but tell me, I entreat you, where he fell - do not fear me, I can bear to hear it all. Did Ernest die on the field or in prison ?"
“ Under what new mistake are you all labouring, my dear sister ? Ernest has been in prison, and also severely wounded several times; but, I rejoice to say, he is now fast recovering, and a week or two, I believe, will bring him home. Did not you hear from him ?”
The last words had scarcely passed Conrad's lips, when his sister was extended apparently lifeless at his feet. Horror-struck, they hastened to her assistance, but it was some time ere her senses were restored; for as soon as she recovered from one fainting fit, she sank into another; and at length her friends were obliged to send for a medical man, who ordered her to be immediately conveyed to bed, as her appearance gave every indication of a rapid fever.
Poor Conrad was distracted; he blamed himself as the cause, although the innocent one, of her illness; and that night was passed in equal anxiety by the inmates of the Grove
The following day did not improve the prospect; Emily's fever ran high, and Edward's fractures, of which he had several, were declared to be dangerous. Mr. Mason was early at the Parsonage, with every appearance of solicitude for his intended bride; so anxious, indeed, was he, that Conrad, although determined if possible to prevent his sister being united to him, could not help allowing that he really loved Emily, next to himself. Uneasy about his sister, and distressed at the false accounts his friends had received of himself, Conrad determined to set out in the afternoon, and endeavour to discover the cause of the loss of his numerous correspondence. For this purpose he first applied to the post-office, and enquired if letters in his handwriting, bearing the Lisbon mark, had ever arrived at Mr. Camden's. The person he addressed, after a moment's consideration, told him, that some years before, for some time after Mr. Conrad left the Parsonage, many letters had arrived from Lisbon, but he neither recollected the writing, nor the exact time they left off coming ; but he positively declared he delivered them all to Mr. Edward Yorke, or the boy who was in the habit of fetching those which were directed for the Grove and Parsonage.