“Your ladyship’s maternal feelings,” said I.
“It’s all a calumny! a base lie, sir!” shrieked she.
“Nay, nay, why be ashamed of a youthful passion; why deny what was in itself creditable to your unsophisticated mind. Does not your heart, even now, yearn to embrace your son—will not you bless me, if I bring him to your feet—will not you bless your son, and receive him with delight?”
“It was a girl,” screamed her ladyship, forgetting herself, and again falling into hysterics.
“A girl!” replied I, “then I have lost my time, and it is no use my remaining here.”
Mortified at the intelligence which overthrew my hopes and castle buildings, I seized my hat, descended the stairs, and quitted the house; in my hurry and confusion quite forgetting to call the servants to her ladyship’s assistance. Fortunately, I perceived the Misses Fairfax close to the iron railing of the garden. I crossed the road, wished them good-bye, and told them that I thought Lady Maelstrom looked very ill, and they had better go in to her. I then threw myself into the first hackney-coach, and drove home. I found Timothy had arrived before me, and I narrated all that had passed.
“You will never be able to go there again,” observed Timothy, “and depend upon it, she will be your enemy through life. I wish you had not said anything to her.
“What is done cannot be undone; but recollect, that if she can talk, I can talk also.”
“Will she not be afraid?”
“Yes, openly, she will; and open attacks can be parried.”
“But it will be as well to pacify her, if I can. I will write to her.” I sat down and wrote as follows:—
“My dear Lady Maelstrom,—I am so astonished and alarmed at the situation I put you in, by my impertinence and folly, that I hardly know how to apologise. The fact is, that looking over some of my father’s old letters, I found many from Warrender, in which he spoke of an affair with a young lady, and I read the name as your maiden name, and also discovered where the offspring was to be found. On re-examination, for your innocence was too evident at our meeting to admit of a doubt, I find that the name, although something like yours, is spelt very differently, and that I must have been led into an unpardonable error. What can I say, except that I throw myself on your mercy? I dare not appear before you again. I leave town to-morrow, but if you can pardon my folly and impertinence, and allow me to pay my respects when London is full again, and time shall have softened down your just anger, write me one line to that effect, and you will relieve the burdened conscience of
“Yours most truly,
“There, Tim,” said I, as I finished reading it over, “take that as a sop to the old Cerberus. She may think it prudent, as I have talked of letters, to believe me and make friends. I will not trust her, nevertheless.”