"Thou hast not slain her with thy cruel word, —
She lives, she wakes — her eyes unclose again,
And I breathe freely."
PASSIONATE and thoughtless, Hugh Grayson had not calculated the consequences of his imprudent and exciting narrative upon a mind so sensitive. He was now aware of his error, and his alarm at her situation was extreme. He lifted her from the floor, and supported her to a seat, endeavouring, as well as he could, with due care and anxiety, to restore her to consciousness. While thus employed the pastor re-entered the apartment, and his surprise may be imagined.
" Ha! what is the matter with my child? what has happened? what alarmed her? Speak, Master Grayson! Tell me what has caused all this! — My child! — Bessy, my child! Look up! open your eyes. Tell me! say! see, it is thy old father that has thee now. Thou art safe, my child. Safe with thy father. There is no danger now. Look up, look up, my child, and speak to me! "
Without answering, Grayson resigned her to the hands of the pastor, and with folded arms and a face full of gloomy expression, stood gazing upon the scene in silence. The father supported her tenderly, and with a show of fervency not common to a habit which, from constant exercise, and the pruderies of a form of worship rather too much given to externals, had, in progress of time, usurped dominion over a temper originally rather passionate than phlegmatic. Exclaiming all the while to the unconscious girl — and now and then addressing Grayson in a series of broken sentences, the old man proved the possession of a degree of regard for his child which might have appeared doubtful before. Grayson, meanwhile, stood by, — an awed and silent spectator, — bitterly reproaching himself for his imprudence in making such a communication, and striving, in his own mind, to forge or force an apology, at least to himself, for the heedlessness which had marked his conduct.
" What, Master Grayson, has been the cause of this? Speak out, sir — my daughter is my heart, and you have trifled with her. Beware, sir. — I am an old man, and a professor of a faith whoseessence is peace; but I am still a man, sir — with the feelings andthe passions of a man; and sooner than my child should sufferwrong, slight as a word, I will even throw aside that faith andbecome a man of blood. Speak, sir, what has made all this? "