THE BARONET’S BRIDE.
“And there is danger of death—for mother and child?”
“Well, no, Sir Jasper—no, sir; no certain danger, you know; but in these protracted cases it can do no harm, Sir Jasper, for the clergyman to be here. He may not be needed but your good lady is very weak, I am sorry to say, Sir Jasper Kingsland.”
“I will send for the clergyman,” Sir Jasper Kingsland said. “Do your best, Doctor Godroy, and for God’s sake let me know the worst or best as soon as may be. This suspense is horrible.”
Doctor Parker Godroy looked sympathetically at him through his gold-bowed spectacles.
“I will do my best, Sir Jasper,” he said, gravely. “The result is in the hands of the Great Dispenser of life and death. Send for the clergyman, and wait and hope.”
He quitted the library as he spoke. Sir Jasper Kingsland seized the bell and rang a shrill peal.
“Ride to the village—ride for your life!” he said, imperatively, to the servant who answered, “and fetch the Reverend Cyrus Green here at once.”
The man bowed and departed, and Sir Jasper Kingsland, Baronet, of Kingsland Court, was alone—alone in the gloomy grandeur of the vast library; alone with his thoughts and the wailing midnight storm.
A little toy time-piece of buhl on the stone mantel chimed musically its story of the hour, and Sir Jasper Kingsland lifted his gloomy eyes for a moment at the sound. A tall, spare middle-aged man, handsome once—handsome still, some people said—with iron-gray hair and a proud, patrician face.
“Twelve,” his dry lips whispered to themselves—“midnight, and for three hours I have endured this maddening agony of suspense! Another day is given to the world, and before its close all I love best may be cold and stark in death! Oh, my God! have mercy, and spare her!”
He lifted his clasped hands in passionate appeal. There was a picture opposite—a gem of Raphael’s—the Man of Sorrows fainting under the weight of the cross, and the fire’s shine playing upon it seemed to light the pallid features with a derisive smile.
“The mercy you showed to others, the same shall be shown to you. Tiger heart, you were merciless in the days gone by. Let your black, bad heart break, as you have broken others!”
No voice had sounded, yet he was answered. Conscience had spoken in trumpet-tones, and with a hollow groan the baronet turned away and began pacing up and down.