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The Disowned - Chapter 77 Post by :affiliates9 Category :Long Stories Author :Edward Bulwer-lytton Date :May 2012 Read :1307

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The Disowned - Chapter 77

CHAPTER LXXVII

Jam te premet nox, fabulaeque Manes,
Et domus exilis Plutonis.--HORACE.

("This very hour Death shall overcome thee, and the fabled Manes,
and the shadowy Plutonian realms receive thee.")


The morning was dull and heavy as Lord Ulswater mounted his horse, and unattended took his way towards Westborough Park. His manner was unusually thoughtful and absent; perhaps two affairs upon his hands, either of which seemed likely to end in bloodshed, were sufficient to bring reflection even to the mind of a cavalry officer.

He had scarcely got out of the town before he was overtaken by our worthy friend Mr. Glumford. As he had been a firm ally of Lord Ulswater in the contest respecting the meeting, so, when he joined and saluted that nobleman, Lord Ulswater, mindful of past services, returned his greeting with an air rather of condescension than hauteur. To say truth, his lordship was never very fond of utter loneliness, and the respectful bearing of Glumford, joined to that mutual congeniality which sympathy in political views always occasions, made him more pleased with the society than shocked with the intrusion of the squire; so that when Glumford said, "If your lordship's way lies along this road for the next five or six miles, perhaps you will allow me the honour of accompanying you," Lord Ulswater graciously signified his consent to the proposal, and carelessly mentioning that he was going to Westborough Park, slid into that conversation with his new companion which the meeting and its actors afforded.

Turn we for an instant to Clarence. At the appointed hour he had arrived at Westborough Park, and, bidding his companion, the trusty Wardour, remain within the chaise which had conveyed them, he was ushered with a trembling heart, but a mien erect and self-composed, into Lady Westborough's presence; the marchioness was alone.

"I am sensible, sir," said she, with a little embarrassment, "that it is not exactly becoming to my station and circumstances to suffer a meeting of the present nature between Lord Ulswater and yourself to be held within this house; but I could not resist the request of Lord Ulswater, conscious from his character that it could contain nothing detrimental to the--to the consideration and delicacy due to Lady Flora Ardenne."

Clarence bowed. "So far as I am concerned," said he, "I feel confident that Lady Westborough will not repent of her condescension."

There was a pause.

"It is singular," said Lady Westborough, looking to the clock upon an opposite table, "that Lord Ulswater has not yet arrived."

"It is," said Clarence, scarcely conscious of his words, and wondering whether Lady Flora would deign to appear. Another pause. Lady Westborough felt the awkwardness of her situation.

Clarence made an effort to recover himself.

"I do not see," said he, "the necessity of delaying the explanation I have to offer to your ladyship till my Lord Ulswater deems it suitable to appear. Allow me at once to enter upon a history, told in few words and easily proved."

"Stay," said Lady Westborough, struggling with her curiosity; "it is due to one who has stood in so peculiar a situation in our family to wait yet a little longer for his coming. We will therefore, till the hour is completed, postpone the object of our meeting."

Clarence again bowed and was silent. Another and a longer pause ensued: it was broken by the sound of the clock striking; the hour was completed.

"Now," began Clarence, when he was interrupted by a sudden and violent commotion in the hall. Above all was heard a loud and piercing cry, in which Clarence recognized the voice of the old steward. He rose abruptly, and stood motionless and aghast; his eyes met those of Lady Westborough, who, pale and agitated, lost for the moment all her habitual self-command. The sound increased: Clarence rushed from the room into the hall; the open door of the apartment revealed to Lady Westborough, as to him, a sight which allowed her no further time for hesitation. She hurried after Clarence into the hall, gave one look, uttered one shriek of horror, and fainted.

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