“I will not detain you, Mr Masterton; but Mr Newland will, I trust, come home with Cecilia and me; I have much to ask of him.” I consented, and Mr Masterton went back to town; I went to the principal hotel to order a chaise and horses, while Fleta packed up her wardrobe.
In half an hour we set off, and it was midnight before we arrived at Richmond. During my journey I narrated to Lady de Clare every particular of our meeting with Fleta. We were all glad to go to bed, and the kind manner in which Lady de Clare wished me good-night, with “God bless you, Mr Newland!” brought the tears into my eyes.
I breakfasted alone the next morning, Lady de Clare and her daughter remaining up stairs. It was nearly twelve o’clock when they made their appearance, both so apparently happy, that I could not help thinking, “When shall I have such pleasure—when shall I find out who is my father?” My brow was clouded as the thought entered my mind, when Lady de Clare requested that I would inform her who it was to whom she and her daughter were under such eternal obligations. I had then to relate my own eventful history, most of which was as new to Cecilia (as she now must be called) as it was to her mother. I had just terminated the escape from the castle, when Mr Masterton’s carriage drove up to the door. As soon as he had bowed to Lady de Clare, he said to me, “Japhet, here is a letter directed to you, to my care, from Ireland, which I have brought for you.”
“It is from Kathleen M’Shane, sir,” replied I, and requesting leave, I broke the seal. It contained another. I read Kathleen’s, and then hastily opened the other. It was from Nattee, or Lady H. de Clare, and ran as follows:—
is the daughter of Sir William de Clare.
Dearly has my husband paid for his act of folly and wickedness,
and to which you must know I never was a party.
The letter from Kathleen added more strange information. Lady de Clare, after the funeral of her husband, had sent for the steward, made every necessary arrangement, discharged the servants, and then had herself disappeared, no one knew whither; but it was reported that somebody very much resembling her had been seen travelling south in company with a gang of gipsies. I handed both letters over to Lady de Clare and Mr Masterton.
“Poor Lady de Clare!” observed the mother.
“Nattee will never leave her tribe,” observed Cecilia quietly.
“You are right, my dear,” replied I. “She will be happier with her tribe where she commands as a queen, than ever she was at the castle.”
Mr Masterton then entered into a detail with Lady de Clare as to what steps ought immediately to be taken, as the heirs-at-law would otherwise give some trouble; and having obtained her acquiescence, it was time to withdraw. “Mr Newland, I trust you will consider us as your warmest friends. I am so much in your debt, that I never can repay you; but I am also in your debt in a pecuniary way—that, at least, you must permit me to refund.”