On the third day from this event, Major Grantham breathed his last, bequeathing the guardianship of his sons to Colonel D’Egville, who had married his sister. At this epoch, Gerald was absent with his vessel on a cruise, but Henry received his parting blessing upon both, accompanied by a solemn injunction, that they should never be guilty of any act which could sully the memory, either of their mother or himself. This Henry promised, in the same of both, most religiously to observe; and, when Gerald returned, and to his utter dismay beheld the lifeless form of the parent, whom he had quitted only a few days before in all the vigour of health, he not only renewed the pledge given by his brother, but with the vivacity of character habitual to him, called down the vengeance of Heaven upon his head, should he ever be found to swerve from those principles of virtue and honor, which had been so sedulously inculcated on him.
Meanwhile, there was nothing to throw even the faintest light on the actual cause of Major Grantham’s death. On the first probing and dressing of the wound, the murderous lead had been extracted, and, as it was discovered to be a rifle ball it was taken for granted that some Indian, engaged in the chase, had, in the eagerness of pursuit, missed an intermediate object at which he had taken aim, and lodged the ball accidentally in the body of the unfortunate gentleman; and that, terrified at the discovery of the mischief he had done, and perhaps apprehending punishment, he had hastily fled from the spot, to avoid detection. This opinion, unanimously entertained by the townspeople, was shared by the brothers, who knowing the unbounded love and respect of all for their parent, dreamt not for one moment that his death could have been the result of premeditation. It was left for Desborough to avow, at a later period, that he had been the murderer; and with what startling effect on him, to whom the admission was exultingly made, we have already seen.
When Desborough was subsequently tried, there was no other evidence by which to establish his guilt, than the admission alluded to, and this he declared, in his defence, he had only made with a view to annoy Mr. Grantham, to whom he owed a grudge for persecuting him so closely on the occasion of his flight with his son; and, although, on reference to the period, it was found that Major Grantham had received the wound which occasioned his death two days after Desborough had been ordered, on pain of instant expulsion from the country, to renew his oaths, and perform service with the militia of the district, still, as this fact admitted only of a presumptive interpretation the charge could not be sufficiently brought home to him, and he was, however reluctantly, acquitted. The rifles which, it will be remembered, were seized by Henry Grantham on the occasion of his detection of the settler in an act of treason, were still in his possession, and, as they were of a remarkably small