Hunter’s passion for drink, his remorse for the officer’s death, his burning thirst for vengeance, and his own sense of self-abasement—all conspired to add to the fever of his brain; and when Walter and his daughter were admitted to his cell, it was a gibbering maniac that rushed forward to meet them. Walter removed his fainting daughter from the appalling spectacle, and returned with a sickening heart and terrible forebodings. The shades of evening had given place to bright moonlight ere they reached the castle. The driver used his utmost speed, but the snow hindered their progress, and just as they arrived at the castle gates, the horses swerved violently, and starting to the side of the road, stood snorting with terror. Walter sprang out, and in the momentary strength caused by the excitement, his daughter followed him. The Earl with some companions rode up at the moment of seeing the carriage stopped; but a more ghastly obstacle obstructed their path—for there in the snow drift at the gates of the mansion where her seducer lived in splendor, lay the corpse of the once fair, gentle, and accomplished Ellen Hunter.
The Earl gazed upon the body of his victim for a moment, and even his callous heart was touched. It was evanescent, however, for on one of his companions asking in a tone of coarse buffoonery, if he was contemplating that frozen carrion with a view to ornamenting his hall with it as a statue, he replied in the same strain, and was turning his horse’s head towards the gate, when he was arrested by the stern voice of the mariner.