“You can no longer refuse to tell me the name of this youth’s father, Aliva,” he said.
“I dare not, Rowland,” she answered. “I cannot break my vow. I will confide it to Father Spencer, who will acquaint you with it when I am no more. Undraw the curtain, love,” she added to Thames, “that I may look at you.”
“Ha!” exclaimed her son, starting back, as he obeyed her, and disclosed Jonathan Wild.
“Be silent,” said Jonathan, in a menacing whisper.
“What have you seen?” inquired Lady Trafford.
“My enemy,” replied her son.
“Your enemy!” she returned imperfectly comprehending him. “Sir Rowland is your uncle—he will be your guardian—he will protect you. Will you not, brother?”
“Promise,” said a deep voice in Trenchard’s ear.
“He will kill me,” cried Thames. “There is a man in this room who seeks my life.”
“Impossible!” rejoined his mother.
“Look at these fetters,” returned Thames, holding up his manacled wrists; “they were put on by my uncle’s command.”
“Ah!” shrieked Lady Trafford.
“Not a moment is to be lost,” whispered Jonathan to Trenchard. “His life—or yours?”
“No one shall harm you more, my dear,” cried Lady Trafford. “Your uncle must protect you. It will be his interest to do so. He will be dependent on you.”
“Do what you please with him,” muttered Trenchard to Wild.
“Take off these chains, Rowland,” said Lady Trafford, “instantly, I command you.”
“I will,” replied Jonathan, advancing, and rudely seizing Thames.
“Mother!” cried the son, “help!”
“What is this?” shrieked Lady Trafford, raising herself on the couch, and extending her hands towards him. “Oh, God! would you take him from me?—would you murder him?”
“His father’s name?—and he is free,” rejoined Rowland, holding her arms.
“Release him first—and I will disclose it!” cried Lady Trafford; “on my soul, I will!”
“Speak then!” returned Rowland.
“Too late!” shrieked the lady, falling heavily backwards,—“too late!—oh!”
Heedless of her cries, Jonathan passed a handkerchief tightly over her son’s mouth, and forced him out of the room.
When he returned, a moment or so afterwards, he found Sir Rowland standing by the lifeless body of his sister. His countenance was almost as white and rigid as that of the corpse by his side.
“This is your work,” said the knight, sternly.
“Not entirely,” replied Jonathan, calmly; “though I shouldn’t be ashamed of it if it were. After all, you failed in obtaining the secret from her, Sir Rowland. Women are hypocrites to the last—true only to themselves.”
“Peace!” cried the knight, fiercely.
“No offence,” returned Jonathan. “I was merely about to observe that I am in possession of her secret.”