‘No,’ said the count, ’I was not present at the marriage; I never saw the lady, nor do I know anything of the affair, except that Mr. Reynolds, when he was dying, assured me that he was privately married to a Miss St. Omar, who was then boarding at a convent in Vienna. The young man expressed great regret at leaving her totally unprovided for; but said that he trusted his father would acknowledge her, and that her friends would be reconciled to her. He was not of age, he said, to make a will; but I think he told me that his child, who at that time was not born, would, even if it should be a girl, inherit a considerable property. With this, I cannot, however, charge my memory positively; but he put a packet into my hands which, he told me, contained a certificate of his marriage, and, I think he said, a letter to his father; this he requested that I would transmit to England by some safe hand. Immediately after his death, I went to the English ambassador, who was then leaving Vienna, and delivered the packet into his hands; he promised to have it safely delivered. I was obliged to go the next day, with the troops, to a distant part of the country. When I returned, I inquired at the convent what had become of Miss St. Omar—I should say Mrs. Reynolds; and I was told that she had removed from the convent to private lodgings in the town, some time previous to the birth of her child. The abbess seemed much scandalised by the whole transaction; and I remember I relieved her mind by assuring her that there had been a regular marriage. For poor young Reynolds’s sake, I made farther inquiries about the widow, intending, of course, to act as a friend, if she was in any difficulty or distress. But I found, on inquiry at her lodgings, that her brother had come from England for her, and had carried her and her infant away. The active scenes,’ continued the count, ’in which I was immediately afterwards engaged, drove the whole affair from my mind. Now that your questions have recalled them, I feel certain of the facts I have mentioned; and I am ready to establish them by my testimony.’
Lord Colambre thanked him with an eagerness that showed how much he was interested in the event. It was clear, he said, either that the packet left with the ambassador had not been delivered, or that the father of Mr. Reynolds had suppressed the certificate of the marriage, as it had never been acknowledged by him or by any of the family. Lord Colambre now frankly told the count why he was so anxious about this affair; and Count O’Halloran, with all the warmth of youth, and with all the ardent generosity characteristic of his country, entered into his feelings, declaring that he would never rest till he had established the truth.
‘Unfortunately,’ said the count, ’the ambassador who took the packet in charge is dead. I am afraid we shall have difficulty.’
‘But he must have had some secretary,’ said Lord Colambre; ’who was his secretary?—we can apply to him.’