“His heart,” he told me, “was gone from him—for his sister had died of a frenzy fever!”—not a word of Rosamund in the letter—I was left to collect her story from sources which may one day be explained.
I soon after quitted Scotland, on the death of my father, and returned to my native village. Allan had left the place, and I could gain no information, whether he were dead or living.
I passed the cottage. I did not dare to look that way, or to inquire who lived there. A little dog, that had been Rosamund’s, was yelping in my path. I laughed aloud like one mad, whose mind had suddenly gone from him—I stared vacantly around me, like one alienated from common perceptions.
But I was young at that time, and the impression became gradually weakened as I mingled in the business of life. It is now ten years since these events took place, and I sometimes think of them as unreal. Allan Clare was a dear friend to me—but there are times when Allan and his sister, Margaret and her grand-daughter, appear like personages of a dream—an idle dream.
* * * * *
Strange things have happened unto me—I seem scarce awake—but I will recollect my thoughts, and try to give an account of what has befallen me in the few last weeks.
Since my father’s death our family have resided in London. I am in practice as a surgeon there. My mother died two years after we left Widford.
A month or two ago, I had been busying myself in drawing up the above narrative, intending to make it public. The employment had forced my mind to dwell upon facts, which had begun to fade from it—the memory of old times became vivid, and more vivid—I felt a strong desire to revisit the scenes of my native village—of the young loves of Rosamund and her Clare.
A kind of dread had hitherto kept me back; but I was restless now, till I had accomplished my wish. I set out one morning to walk—I reached Widford about eleven in the forenoon—after a slight breakfast at my inn—where I was mortified to perceive the old landlord did not know me again—(old Thomas Billet—he has often made angle-rods for me when a child)—I rambled over all my accustomed haunts.
Our old house was vacant, and to be sold. I entered, unmolested, into the room that had been my bedchamber. I kneeled down on the spot where my little bed had stood—I felt like a child—I prayed like one—it seemed as though old times were to return again—I looked round involuntarily, expecting to see some face I knew—but all was naked and mute. The bed was gone. My little pane of painted window, through which I loved to look at the sun when I awoke in a fine summer’s morning, was taken out, and had been replaced by one of common glass.
I visited, by turns, every chamber—they were all desolate and unfurnished, one excepted, in which the owner had left a harpsichord, probably to be sold—I touched the keys—I played some old Scottish tunes, which had delighted me when a child. Past associations revived with the music—blended with a sense of unreality, which at last became too powerful—I rushed out of the room to give vent to my feelings.