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short-very short, and there is much to be done! Reach me that box. Here is the key, my own son,--and never part with it while you have life. Your father has been a guilty man. Often, oh! how often have I confessed it to my confessor, but never to any good purpose till now."
While he spoke Lord Eaglescairn's strong mind seemed broken down to the weakness of a child, and he wept like a feeble infant. His hands shook with emotion, and trembled with impatience as he unlocked the iron box, and hurriedly taking out a long roll containing several sheets of parchment, he tore off his own signature from the bottom of every page, and burned each separate fragment as he did so at the candle. A smile of ghastly satisfaction gleamed in his eye when it was done, and he whispered to his son,-“You were to have lost all, had you either become a Protestant, or married one. I have long and fervently wished you united to Beatrice Farinelli. It was the only hope remaining that my crime could be repaired-the deepest I have committed, and they are many. Read those papers, and you will know all. It is hard to die, my son, feeling how you must learn to despise my memory
Lord Iona clasped Lord Eaglescairn's hand in his own, and fervently kissed it, while Lord Eaglescairn, seeing the tears that filled the young man's eyes, exclaimed, in a low, muffled whisper, “ Now let me die. Before those tears are dried, my son, I would hide myself in the grave, from all that you have yet to learn. Blame me as you may, but pity
me too. My life, from that fatal hour of temptation, has been one scene of splendid wretchedness. Many a time I have longed to tell you all the black dishonour of my conduct; to throw myself on your affection; but my conscience was in the keeping of another, who absolved me for everything. I have been watched, herded, ruled with a rod of iron, threatened with the terrors of this world and the next.” The dying man sunk back exhausted and hysterical, but keeping Lord Iona's hand clasped in his own, while the father and son gazed on each other, now at the last, with entire confidence and true-hearted affection. “My son,” whispered Lord Eaglescairn in trembling accents; “when this hour comes to you, as it comes to all, may you be as happy as you now make me. I have long been forced to buttress up an edifice of falsehood, be it your honourable task to undo my guilty work. Act by your own conscience, not another's, and, if possible, bury my faults in oblivion, though that is a funeral much too honourable for such crimes.” The faint breathing of the sufferer became low and interrupted, but there were no immediate symptoms of dissolution, therefore Lord Iona had quietly taken his place at the bed-side, in hopes his father might fall into a gentle slumber; when suddenly a heavy hurried step was heard lumbering along the passage; an attempt was made to open the door, the lock was tried in vain, and Father Eustace, in a voice of imperative authority,
desired that he should be instantly admitted. Lord Iona was about to answer in a very decided negative, when Lord Eaglescairn, starting wide awake at the sound of that voice, raised himself up, looked wildly around with an aspect of fearful earnestness, uttered a low exclamation of horror, his lips moved, but there was no sound, and then sinking back in a fainting-fit, almost instantly expired.
When all was over, and after a few hours had elasped, Lord Iona knew all. He found in the iron-box a letter to the late Lord Eaglescairn, from his second son, written by Tom De Bathe on his death-bed, at Madrid, to say that his wife, who had been converted to the Protestant faith, was, during his illness, secretly carried away by her Spanish relatives and imprisoned he believed, with their infant daughter, in a convent, where the priests, one of whom was his brother-in-law, were resolved that the little girl should be brought up a Papist. The child's cousin, he said, Theresa Da Hosta, a clever, enterprising, and well-educated woman, now become Protestant herself, had a sister in the convent at Corunna, where his wife was supposed to be unwillingly concealed, and she was furnished with ample funds to seek out the child and its mother. As the unfortunate father had no hope of living above a few days himself, he had desired that if his wife and child were ever rescued, they should proceed instantly to place themselves under the protection of his best of friends, Sir Evan Mo Alpine in Scotland.
It was in pursuance of these directions that Theresa visited her sister in the Convent at Co
runna, where she ascertained that her late cousin had pined for some months with sorrow, and died under all the penitential austerities inflicted on her by Father Dominick, her brother, and the remaining priests, for having married a heretic. The beautiful child they were then educating to be a most fanatical little Papist, under the assumed name of Beatrice Farinelli; but Theresa having at once recognised her own young favourite, watched without ceasing, whenever she visited sister Angela, her own sister, in the Convent of St. Bridget, until at length, after months or rather long years of hopeful perseverance, she succeeded in obeying the will of the child’s father, by carrying off the stolen Beatrice, stolen from her own father to be kept in cruel and unjust imprisonment. A letter which Theresa had written before embarking, she directed to the child’s own grandfather, of whose death she had heard no intelligence in Spain. This packet having been delivered to the recent successor, the new peer read it in company with Father Eustace, and thus learned that a young claimant was about immediately to arrive, and to be placed under the Protestant guardianship of his hated neighbour, Sir Evan M*Alpine. This was not to be borne, yet it seemed inevitable, and day after day the agitated peer sat with his confessor in deep conclave, to consider the loss about to befal themselves and their Church. How the shipwreck happened Lord Eaglescairn never knew, how the lights on the beacon at Clanmarina became changed that evening, he never conjectured, but so it was, that by an interposition which Father Eustace assured him was miraculous, a spontaneous fire had appeared on the summit of Cairngorum, when the Spanish vessel hove in sight, and at the same moment the blue light on Clanmarina headland as miraculously became extinguished. The twelve judges of England might have sat in judgment on the case with their black caps on, but Father Eustace never looked more composed than during the whole scene that followed; and at that time he had little difficulty in persuading Lord Eaglescairn that after so supernatural an interposition on his behalf, it would be wicked and presumptuous not to accept so timely a boon, and that, for the child's own sake, she should be rescued from Sir Evan's guardianship, and securely placed in a nunnery, there to take the veil. “Every man has one chance in life,” Father Eustace had said, “and, Lord Eaglescairn, this is yours.” The Spanish relatives of Beatrice, who were rich and powerful, believing her to have perished in the wreck, made no subsequent inquiries respecting her; and as all the machinations of Father Eustace had failed to entrap Beatrice into his power, she had remained personally unknown to Lord Eaglescairn, till their accidental rencontre in the garden. Then the beauty of her countenance and the charm of her manner, had first awakened in him a desire to remove from his own conscience the weight that had long and increasingly tortured him, in thinking of the crime by which he had been led into keeping estates that belonged of right to another. If Beatrice and