This was no other than the raven-eyed maiden who sat by the fire side, and listened attentively to the conversation that was going on. She was his love—she, a poor cousin. For her sake he had braved all his father’s anger, and attempted to seek his fortune abroad.
This done, he quietly left the Hall, without giving any one any intimation of where he was going.
Old Mr. Bradley, when he had said so much to his son, was highly incensed at what he deemed his obstinacy; and he thought the threat hanging over him would have had a good effect; but he was amazed when he discovered that Henry had indeed left the Hall, and he knew not whither.
For some time he comforted himself with the assurance that he would, he must return, but, alas! he came not, and this was the second anniversary of that melancholy day, which no one more repented of and grieved for, than did poor Mr. Bradley.
“Surely, surely he will return, or let us know where he is,” he said; “he cannot be in need, else he would have written to us for aid.”
“No, no,” said Mrs. Bradley; “it is, I fear, because he has not written, that he is in want; he would never write if he was in poverty, lest he should cause us unhappiness at his fate. Were he doing well, we should hear of it, for he would be proud of the result of his own unaided exertions.”
“Well, well,” said Mr. Bradley, “I can say no more; if I was hasty, so was he; but it is passed. I would forgive all the past, if I could but see him once again—once again!”
“How the wind howls,” added the aged man; “and it’s getting worse and worse.”
“Yes, and the snow is coming down now in style,” said one of the servants, who brought in some fresh logs which were piled up on the fire, and he shook the white flakes off his clothes.
“It will be a heavy fall before morning,” said one of the men.
“Yes, it has been gathering for some days; it will be much warmer than it has been when it is all down.”
“So it will—so it will.”
At that moment there was a knocking at the gate, and the dogs burst into a dreadful uproar from their kennels.
“Go, Robert,” said Mr. Bradley, “and see who it is that knocks such a night as this; it is not fit or safe that a dog should be out in it.”
The man went out, and shortly returned, saying,—
“So please you, sir, there is a traveller that has missed his way, and desires to know if he can obtain shelter here, or if any one can be found to guide him to the nearest inn.”
“Bid him come in; we shall lose no warmth because there is one more before the fire.”
The stranger entered, and said,—“I have missed my way, and the snow comes down so thick and fast, and is whirled in such eddies, that I fear, by myself, I should fall into some drift, and perish before morning.”
“Do not speak of it, sir,” said Mr. Bradley; “such a night as this is a sufficient apology for the request you make, and an inducement to me to grant it most willingly.”