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up, Theresa, for he is the only friend, besides yourself, that I have now left.”
“I am sorry to find you in bed this fine morning, my dear lady,” said Dr. Matson, as he entered, and seating himself by it, he gazed with dismay on her pale and altered countenance.
“How long have you kept your room, my dear?” inquired the doctor.
“A long time, I believe, but I do not exactly remember. Theresa can tell you,” she replied.
It was a fortnight exactly.
“I will return and bring you something to take in about an hour,” said Dr. Matson, after endeavouring for some time to draw his patient into conversation, when he took his leave. I accompanied him from the room, and saw in a moment what he feared.
“She is in great danger,” said he. “I could not have believed it possible that so much mischief could have been done in so short a time. I will remain in Cheltenham till she is better, or worse.”
In the evening her ladyship became much worse. I then asked Dr. Matson if it were possible that an interview with Sir Edward would be likely to be beneficial, for I could not believe but that if he knew the state his victim was in, he would at her feet implore her pardon.
“I greatly fear,” said Dr. Matson, “ that the shock will be too great for her weak frame, but you may make the attempt.”
I, therefore, while the good physician remained in the sick room, sent to Sir Edward's lodgings, begging to speak with him.
He came immediately. I began by telling him that all my worst fears were confirmed by Dr. Matson, that Lady Helen was gradually getting worse, and that as a last resource I had of my own accord sent to beg that he would entreat a reconciliation with Lady Helen, that we might have the mournful satisfaction of knowing that she did not die under the impression of his continued unkind feelings toward her.
“ You do not mean to say, Theresa,” he exclaimed, " that Lady Helen is dying!”
“I do,” I replied; "she cannot live many days; her heart is broken.”
“ How can you be so cruel as to lay this dreadful burden on my conscience, by insinuating that our unfortunate disagreement is the cause of it. Miss Lovelyn assures me that her cousin caught a violent cold, and that she was always of a consumptive and irritable habit.”
“Miss Lovelyn knows the contrary,” I said indignantly. “She knows, and triumphs in the idea, that she has been the original cause of all this misery, of her sweet cousin's broken heart. You must forgive my speaking the truth, Sir Edward, but I feel certain that you will one day bitterly repent having been made the tool of so heartless a person as Miss Lovelyn.”
Sir Edward seemed astonished at the energy, perhaps he might think impertinence of my manner ; but I was indignant at his quoting at such a moment the falsities of Miss Lovelyn.
“I will do anything Dr. Matson thinks right,” he said, apparently much moved. “ Take me to Lady Helen, and God knows, if any act of mine can restore her to health, it shall be done ; but I think and hope you are mistaken, both as to her danger and the cause of her illness.”
I did not reply, but begging Sir Edward to follow me, I took him up to her ladyship's dressing-room, while I went to prepare her for the meeting.
I found her breathing very hard, a deep flush suffusing her face. Her hair, which used to look so beautiful and glossy, lay in damp masses on her forehead. She opened her eyes as I leaned over her, and stretching out her hand took hold of mine. Hers was damp and clammy; I shuddered as I felt it, and looked into her poor faded eyes.
“My dearest lady,” I said, " a friend, a penitent friend, wishes much to see you, and at your feet to implore your forgiveness.”
She looked for a moment inquiringly and doubtingly in my face; at last, shaking her head, she replied in tones so low and hesitating that I could scarcely hear her, “ I know whom you mean, but it is too late. I cannot see him. Tell him—tell him I forgive him.”
Saying this she closed her eyes, but kept my hand tightly clasped in hers. I could not, therefore, leave her, and whispered to Dr. Matson to communicate the result of my message to Sir Edward, while I continued to watch by the side of my dying lady, as I was determined not again to quit her. She was evidently getting weaker and weaker, and had great difficulty in breathing, but she still kept my hand in hers. Towards evening she opened her eyes, and said, “ Theresa, I hear most delightful music; who is it singing and playing so deliciously?”.
Poor, dear creature! there was no music; it was only her own sweet fancy.
She begged that I would raise her up in her bed, that she might hear the fancied strains more distinctly. She appeared to listen very attentively, and to enjoy the imaginary music for nearly a quarter of an hour, then begged to