‘This is not the reception I expected, Mr. Lambert.’
‘I beg your pardon sir.’
Sir!—how the word grated on the ear, that had been accustomed to ’my lord,’ and that in the humblest tone; ’I merely wish to intimate, Mr. Lambert, when it is your gracious pleasure to listen, that I want a word or two with you.’ He spoke in his old sneering tone; the other, who from habit, remained standing in his presence, bowed; but he did not answer a word. ’Since you cannot, or will not speak—hear one thing; for your interest is thereby affected; and that I suppose will reach you—do you suppose, that those who have attacked the master, will let the servant escape. Will not even the great Mr. Lambert, be required to give an account of his stewardship; when so humble an individual as myself, has been deemed worthy of notice?’—he bowed with mock humility. ’My accounts are prepared to undergo the strictest investigation. My—sir—’ said the agent, recovering his self possession the instant business was mentioned, ’both as regards the estate and personal account, my balances are correct—that of the estate which yet remains unsettled I am ready to account for to—the proper parties—’ (he substituted for the new Earl’s name which rose to his lips,) ’the small balance on the personal account which is in my favour, I shall be happy to take your note for—properly endorsed.’ The man of business had been so occupied with the figures he was running up in his mind, that he had failed to observe the gathering storm on his companion’s brow; he had been so used to hold down his head while speaking to his patron, that even now he could not forego the habit; but the last word had not passed his lips fully—ere the earl rose from his seat, and seizing the heavy brass lamp upon the table between them, struck the unfortunate man a tremendous blow with it, which prostrated him to the floor; smashing in a portion of his skull, and inflicting a mortal wound; the agent groaned and lay senseless; the servants rushed to the scene on hearing the fall, but the furious appearance of the murderer terrified them, particularly as he still held in his hand the weapon he had used; he burst through them, and mounting his horse at the door, fled as though pursued by all the fiends of hell.
Regardless of the wintry storm, the murderer spurred on the noble animal he rode; he had no purpose in the flight, he had arranged no plan of escape; unused to act for himself, his movements were all uncertainty: now he reined in his horse, and listened as if for pursuers, but none came: now fancying he heard the mocking laugh he had so often heard, he dashed forward, as if the furies were behind him; the storm meanwhile increased in its violence, he felt it not; the warfare of the elements was calmness to the tumult of his heart; he looked up to the heavens, but there