’Blasphemer, peace! Add not insult to the fearful injury you have committed to that poor piece of clay! Man of the marble heart, your career is near its close! This is not the only one of your crimes that has resulted in death. There arises from the earth in South Carolina a voice that calls for vengeance on her murderer. The child you thought without a friend, whom you hoped would perish unknown, is even now preparing to assert his rights, and drive you, titled bastard as you know yourself to be, from your usurped position. Your agents have confessed, and nothing can save you from the merited punishment of your crimes. Repent, weep tears of penitence over this poor form, and make your peace with God. You have but little time left ere man’s justice will claim you as its due.’ He replaced his daughter in the carriage, and lifting the body of poor Ellen as tenderly as if it had been a child, placed it inside, and thus the dying and the dead departed.
At headlong speed the Earl reached his mansion, galled to madness. He pondered long and deeply who the mysterious seaman could be, but could arrive at no satisfactory conclusion; but reflecting that he still possessed the only papers which could be produced in support of the claimant of his title, he became more collected, and resolved first to destroy the documents, and then to devise means for getting rid of the obnoxious seaman, and also of his nephew, if he dared to press his claim. Somewhat relieved by these considerations, he entered into an explanation with his friends, spoke of the seaman as a harmless maniac, and succeeded in calming the irritation of their wounded pride.
But he could not calm the raging tumult of his own heart—he had entered into preliminary engagements for a marriage with the daughter of a house as haughty as his own. His mother’s fame would suffer, not that he cared one jot for any abstract idea of virtue, and she had been sinless in that at least, for she knew not that her husband had another wife. He had been offered by the king, and had accepted a high confidential mission to a foreign power, and now when every proud wish of his heart seemed to be gratified, to be threatened with the loss of all—and more, to be subjected to the vulgar gaze as a murderer—death he felt were better. He drank deeply, which was not his usual custom, and to conceal his feelings affected a wild gaiety, which, however, failed in deceiving his companions. Midnight had long passed when he retired to his chamber, harassed and jaded by the efforts he had made to preserve appearances, and still more irritated by the wine he had drank. A vague feeling of horror moreover began to steal over him. He looked out upon the moonlight and drew his head in with a shudder, for he fancied—it was but fancy, that he saw a body lying upon the ground. He tried to nerve himself to the task of destroying the documents, but could not bring himself to touch the casket. At length he opened the casket; a