“No, madam, not altogether. Had you two white ponies at the time?”
“Was there a mulberry tree in the garden?”
“Yes, sir,” replied the astonished lady.
“Will you do me the favour to describe the appearance of your child as she was, at the time that you lost her?”
“She was—but all mothers are partial, and perhaps I may also be so—a very fair, lovely little girl.”
“With light hair, I presume?”
“Yes, sir. But why these questions? Surely you cannot ask them for nothing,” continued she hurriedly. “Tell me, sir, why all these questions?”
Mr Masterton replied, “Because, madam, we have some hopes that you have been deceived, and that it is possible that your daughter was not drowned.”
Lady de Clare, breathless, and her mouth open, fixed her eyes upon Mr Masterton, and exclaimed, “Not drowned! O my God! my head!” and then she fell back insensible.
“I have been too precipitate,” said Mr Masterton, going to her assistance; “but joy does not kill. Ring for some water, Japhet.”
In which, if the reader
does not sympathise with the parties, he
had better shut the book.
In a few minutes Lady de Clare was sufficiently recovered to hear the outline of our history; and as soon as it was over, she insisted upon immediately going with us to the school where Fleta was domiciled, as she could ascertain, by several marks known but to a nurse or mother, if more evidence was required, whether Fleta was her child or not. To allow her to remain in such a state of anxiety was impossible, Mr Masterton agreed, and we posted to ——, where we arrived in the evening. “Now, gentlemen, leave me but one minute with the child, and when I ring the bell, you may enter.” Lady de Clare was in so nervous and agitated a state, that she could not walk into the parlour without assistance. We led her to a chair, and in a minute Fleta was called down. Perceiving me in the passage, she ran to me. “Stop, my dear Fleta, there is a lady in the parlour, who wishes to see you.”
“A lady, Japhet?”
“Yes, my dear, go in.”
Fleta obeyed, and in a minute we heard a scream, and Fleta hastily opened the door, “Quick! quick! the lady has fallen down.”
We ran in and found Lady de Clare on the floor, and it was some time before she returned to her senses. As soon as she did, she fell down on her knees, holding up her hands as in prayer, and then stretched her arms out to Fleta. “My child! my long-lost child! it is—it is indeed!” A flood of tears poured forth on Fleta’s neck relieved her, and we then left them together; old Masterton observing, as we took our seats in the back parlour,
“By G—, Japhet, you deserve to find your own father!”
In about an hour Lady de Clare requested to see us. Fleta rushed into my arms and sobbed, while her mother apologised to Mr Masterton for the delay and excusable neglect towards him. “Mr Newland, madam, is the person to whom you are indebted for your present happiness. I will now, if you please, take my leave, and will call upon you to-morrow.”