Uncle Silas eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 478 pages of information about Uncle Silas.

‘Ah, yes, Maud, my dear child—­my dear child.’

He turned, and with the candle in his hand, smiling his silvery smile of suffering on me.  He walked more feebly and stiffly, I thought, than I had ever seen him move before.

‘Sit down, Maud—­pray sit there.’

I took the chair he indicated.

’In my misery and my solitude, Maud, I have invoked you like a spirit, and you appear.’

With his two hands leaning on the table, he looked across at me, in a stooping attitude; he had not seated himself.  I continued silent until it should be his pleasure to question or address me.

At last he said, raising himself and looking upward, with a wild adoration—­his finger-tips elevated and glimmering in the faint mixed light—­

‘No, I thank my Creator, I am not quite forsaken.’

Another silence, during which he looked steadfastly at me, and muttered, as if thinking aloud—­

‘My guardian angel!—­my guardian angel!  Maud, you have a heart.’  He addressed me suddenly—­’Listen, for a few moments, to the appeal of an old and broken-hearted man—­your guardian—­your uncle—­your suppliant.  I had resolved never to speak to you more on this subject.  But I was wrong.  It was pride that inspired me—­mere pride.’

I felt myself growing pale and flushed by turns during the pause that followed.

’I’m very miserable—­very nearly desperate.  What remains for me—­what remains?  Fortune has done her worst—­thrown in the dust, her wheels rolled over me; and the servile world, who follow her chariot like a mob, stamp upon the mangled wretch.  All this had passed over me, and left me scarred and bloodless in this solitude.  It was not my fault, Maud—­I say it was no fault of mine; I have no remorse, though more regrets than I can count, and all scored with fire.  As people passed by Bartram, and looked upon its neglected grounds and smokeless chimneys, they thought my plight, I dare say, about the worst a proud man could be reduced to.  They could not imagine one half its misery.  But this old hectic—­this old epileptic—­this old spectre of wrongs, calamities, and follies, had still one hope—­my manly though untutored son—­the last male scion of the Ruthyns.  Maud, have I lost him?  His fate—­my fate—­I may say Milly’s fate;—­we all await your sentence.  He loves you, as none but the very young can love, and that once only in a life.  He loves you desperately—­a most affectionate nature—­a Ruthyn, the best blood in England—­the last man of the race; and I—­if I lose him I lose all; and you will see me in my coffin, Maud, before many months.  I stand before you in the attitude of a suppliant—­shall I kneel?’

His eyes were fixed on me with the light of despair, his knotted hands clasped, his whole figure bowed toward me.  I was inexpressibly shocked and pained.

‘Oh, uncle! uncle!’ I cried, and from very excitement I burst into tears.

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Uncle Silas from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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