He strove to force her out, but she clung firmly to the bed; and muttering an oath between his teeth, he turned to the sufferer, and spoke in an unknown tongue; a feeble response in the same language seemed to satisfy him, and darting a triumphant glance at the kneeling girl, he seated himself, and conversed for nearly an hour. Then offering up a Latin prayer, departed, promising to come again.
Mrs. Carlton had not left the house; she waited anxiously for Mary. And when Florence re-entered the sick room, the former hastened to her friend.
“Oh, I did all I could to prevent it!” cried Mary, in despair. “All is over, I am afraid. I was sitting on the doorstep, preparing some arrowroot, when I saw Aunt Lizzy go out the gate. I thought it strange at the time of day, but never suspected the truth. Presently I saw her coming back with the priest, and knew in an instant she had gone for him. I was determined to prevent his seeing my uncle, if possible, and fastened the front door. Before I could lock my uncle’s, he wrenched open the window, and sprang in. I tried to put the key in my pocket, and told him he could not go in then; but he made Aunt Lizzy hold one of my hands, while he forced open my fingers and took the key. Oh! that Dr. Bryant had been here.” She showed Mrs. Carlton the marks of his grasp on her wrist. “Tell, oh, tell me what I can do to save him!”
“Alas! nothing, Mary. He is completely under the control of the Padre, and no reasoning will avail him now.”
With a sad heart Mrs. Carlton took leave, advising Mary “to offer no further resistance, as it was now impossible to convince her uncle of his error.”
soul hath ta’en its earthless flight,
Whither? I dread to think—but he is gone!”
Mr. Hamilton, though perfectly conscious that his end was rapidly approaching, had scrupulously avoided the subject in the presence of the girls. One morning, after a night of more than ordinary suffering, he lay quite exhausted. Death was at hand, and feeling intuitively that the appointed hour had arrived, he requested all to withdraw, save Florence. When they were alone, he laid his hand on her head, and said, in a low, feeble tone—“Florence, I am going. I cannot survive this day, and I wish to give you my last advice. I am afraid your lot will be a hard one, when I am gone; trials without number are in store for you. Oh! my proudhearted, beautiful Florence, what will become of you now?” He covered his face with his hands a moment, then continued—“I do not wish you to return to your native place. My child must be dependent on no one, yet to leave you here so unprotected, is hard indeed. Dr. Bryant has promised to watch over you, and the Carltons are kind friends. Florence you must depend upon yourself. Thank God, you are strong-minded, and Mary, our kind, good Mary, will be near, to comfort and assist you. I am growing weaker, but there is one more thing I wish to say.”