“Be it so!” rejoined Sir Rowland, with concentrated fury; “but before we do part, I am resolved to know the name of your pretended husband!”
“Torture shall not wrest it from me,” answered his sister, firmly.
“What motive have you for concealment?” he demanded.
“A vow,” she answered,—“a vow to my dead husband.”
Sir Rowland looked at her for a moment, as if he meditated some terrible reply. He then arose, and, taking a few turns in the chamber, stopped suddenly before her.
“What has put it into your head that your son yet lives?” he asked.
“I have dreamed that I shall see him before I die,” she rejoined.
“Dreamed!” echoed the knight, with a ghastly smile. “Is that all? Then learn from me that your hopes are visionary as their foundation. Unless he can arise from the bottom of the Thames, where he and his abhorred father lie buried, you will never behold him again in this world.”
“Heaven have compassion on you, Rowland!” murmured his sister, crossing her hands and looking upwards; “you have none on me.”
“I will have none till I have forced the villain’s name from you!” he cried, stamping the floor with rage.
“Rowland, your violence is killing me,” she returned, in a plaintive tone.
“His name, I say!—his name!” thundered the knight.
And he unsheathed his sword.
Lady Trafford uttered a prolonged scream, and fainted. When she came to herself, she found that her brother had quitted the room, leaving her to the care of a female attendant. Her first orders were to summon the rest of her servants to make immediate preparations for her departure for Lancashire.
“To-night, your ladyship?” ventured an elderly domestic.
“Instantly, Hobson,” returned Lady Trafford; “as soon as the carriage can be brought round.”
“It shall be at the door in ten minutes. Has your ladyship any further commands?”
“None whatever. Yet, stay! There is one thing I wish you to do. Take that box, and put it into the carriage yourself. Where is Sir Rowland?”
“In the library, your ladyship. He has given orders that no one is to disturb him. But there’s a person in the hall—a very odd sort of man—waiting to see him, who won’t be sent away.”
“Very well. Lose not a moment, Hobson.”
The elderly domestic bowed, took up the case, and retired.
“Your ladyship is far too unwell to travel,” remarked the female attendant, assisting her to rise; “you’ll never be able to reach Manchester.”
“It matters not, Norris,” replied Lady Trafford: “I would rather die on the road, than be exposed to another such scene as I have just encountered.”
“Dear me!” sympathised Mrs. Norris. “I was afraid from the scream I heard, that something dreadful had happened, Sir Rowland has a terrible temper indeed—a shocking temper! I declare he frightens me out of my senses.”