“Very ill, indeed,” said the clergyman,—“so ill that I fear he will never be better. Let us place him in the chaise, Sir Everard. I will drive slowly, and do you ride on to Hunsden Hall to prepare his daughter for the shock.”
The Indian officer was a stalwart, powerful man. It was the utmost their united strength could do to lift him into the chaise.
“Ride—ride for your life!” the rector said, “and dispatch a servant for the family doctor. I fear the result of this fall will be fatal.”
He needed no second bidding; he was off like the wind. Sir Galahad sprung over the ground, and reached Hunsden in an incredibly short time. A flying figure, in wild alarm, came down the avenue to meet him.
“Oh, Sir Everard!” Harrie panted, in affright, “where is papa? He left to go to Kingsland Court, and Starlight has come galloping back riderless. Something awful has happened, I know!”
His man’s heart burned within him. He wanted to catch her in his arms, to hold her there forever—to shield her from all the world and all worldly sorrow.
Something of what he felt must have shone in his ardent eyes. Hers dropped, and a bright, virginal blush dyed for the first time cheek and brow. He vaulted off his horse and stood uncovered before her.
“Dear Miss Hunsden,” he said, gently, “there has been an accident. I am sorry to be the bearer of ill news, but don’t be alarmed—all may yet be well.”
“Papa,” she barely gasped.
“He has met with an accident—a second apoplectic fit. I found him lying in Brithlow Wood. He had fallen from his horse. Mr. Green is fetching him here in his chaise. They will arrive presently. You had better have his room prepared, and I—will I ride for your physician myself?”
She leaned against a tree, sick and faint. He made a step toward her, but she rallied and motioned him off.
“No,” she said, “let me be! Don’t go, Sir Everard—remain here. I will send a servant for the doctor. Oh, I dreaded this! I warned him when he left this afternoon, but he wanted to see you so much.”
She left him and hurried into the house, dispatched a man for the doctor, and prepared her father’s room.
In fifteen minutes the doctor’s pony-chaise drove up. He and the baronet and the butler assisted the stricken and insensible man up to his room, and laid him upon the bed from which he was never more to rise.
THE CAPTAIN’S LAST NIGHT.
A young crescent moon rose in the bleak sky; on the shore the flood-tide beat its hoarse refrain, and in his chamber Harold Godfrey Hunsden lay dying.
They knew it—the silent watchers in that somber room—his daughter, and all. She knelt by the bedside, her face hidden, still, tearless, stunned. Sir Everard, the doctor, the rector, silent and sad, stood around.