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"Shall I call you father?"-Troilus and Cressida. I PASS over Herbert's second interview with Mr. Seymour in comparative silence. It was, to use one comprehensive word, stormy; and when at last it came to an end, the young man sought the retirement of his own room, with a thoughtful, absent look, and a very sorrowful heart; after hearing the harshest epithets applied to himself, and terrible denunciations of wrath invoked on his head, by his infuriated father-whom the slightest degree of opposition always rendered more dogged and determined to carry his point.
He could not for some time bring himself to believe that Herbert's resolution was unalterably taken; but when really convinced of this, his indignation was unbounded.
Pride of which he possessed no inconsiderable share-restrained him from attempting any further means of influencing him; but it did not prevent him from making use of those sharp reproaches and bitter invectives which are at all times so hard to be borne, more especially when we feel them to be thoroughly undeserved.
Trying, however, as this interview undoubtedly was, Herbert knew that a far more painful scene awaited him, for it soon became necessary to apprise Mrs. Seymour of the arrangement which had been so unsatisfactorily concluded between himself and his father; and he was anxious that she should be in some measure prepared for the latter's stern communication by first hearing the truth from him.
Accordingly, he proceeded to execute his self-imposed task; fully alive to the difficulty-almost impossibility-of performing it with calmness and composure; and yet firmly resolved to suppress every outward manifestation of the poignant grief which weighed down his own spirit.
His object was to cheer, not distress; therefore, after explaining to her in a few words his father's determination, he strove to make her forget the approaching separation by speaking hopefully of the future, and dwelling upon the mutual joy they would experience in meeting again, so soon as Mr. Seymour's wrath had subsided.
She listened to his words with pale cheeks and a heavy heart; and when the young man paused-overcome in spite of himself-she turned her head uneasily away, that he might not see how much she suffered, and uttered an irrepressible moan.
My darling mother!" he said, bending down, and regarding her with a look of unutterable tenderness, "only assure me that you will not grieve for me, and I shall feel comparatively happy."
"How can I help grieving?" she answered, and a glance of fond reproach accompanied her words.
"None are exempt from trial," returned Herbert, gently, " and we must not expect
"Was it not enough for me to see you unloved and unappreciated by the one of all others who ought to feel proud of you?" said Mrs.
Seymour, with a sudden change of manner; "and now it seems I am to lose you altogether. What right has your father to separate a mother from her son? I do not see why I should submit to such palpable despotism!"
She covered her face with her hands, and gave way to a paroxysm of tears. Herbert paced the room in extreme perturbation, vexed and dismayed at the wild vehemence of her manner, and unable to trust himself to say more, lest he should aggravate and increase her emotion. His own self-command too, was rapidly deserting him; but after lifting up an earnest cry for help, he felt in his heart that he was strengthened.
Some minutes elapsed.
Mrs. Seymour was still weeping, though more quietly; and Herbert was standing with folded arms, gazing abstractedly into the fire-his fine countenance overcast with a shade of deep gravity-when the door unclosed, and Mr. Seymour entered the room. He looked sullen and moody; and, after silently surveying the scene for a moment, turned on his heel, and walked away, without uttering a word,
His sensations baffle description. On the whole, however, he was not displeased that the unenviable task of imparting intelligence which would, he knew, under any circumstances be received with intense sorrow by Mrs. Seymour, should devolve upon Herbert instead of himself.
Once, indeed, it occurred to him whether she might not succeed where he had failed, her loving grief, unconsciously effecting what his threats, menaces, and persuasions had been unable to accomplish; but an instant's reflection convinced him of the fallacy of such a hope, and he proceeded without delay to put his cruel purpose into execution.
His first step was to send off a servant to Dilton, with a telegraph message to be despatched to his lawyer, who resided in London, demanding his immediate presence at Mertonsville; his next to shut himself up in his library, where he sat for hours, looking over and arranging his papers, and making various corrections and alterations in them.
Meanwhile, Herbert still continued to soothe and comfort his afflicted mother, although his own suffering was scarcely less than hers. "Is there no way," she said at last, putting her hand despairingly to her aching head, no way by which this trial may be averted?" "None," replied Herbert, in a low, firm voice. 'My father will not alter his decision, and I cannot change mine."
"Could you not make some unimportant sacrifice?" suggested Mrs. Seymour, with a wistful look, "some trifling concession?"
"A trifling concession would not satisfy him, mother; it must be all or nothing."
Mrs. Seymour was silent; she could not urge him further, and yet it seemed so terrible to lose him. Anything appeared to her at that moment preferable to such a misfortune.
"You would not, I am sure, wish me to do evil that good may come?" said Herbert, perceiving what was passing in her mind.
"No," she tremblingly answered; "but it seems very hard that you should be deprived thus unjustly of everything which makes life pleasant."
"We must not forget our Saviour's question," returned the young man, looking down upon her with grave, kindly eyes: "What is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own
soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? Oh, my dear mother!" he continued, with an irrepressible burst of emotion, "it matters little what our worldly circumstances are, where we go, or what we do; but it does matter whether we belong to Christ or not, whether we love Him or the world, whether we choose Him for our souls' satisfying portion, and look to Him for salvation and peace and holiness, or allow ourselves to become exclusively captivated by the engrossing affairs of this mortal life. In the one case, though poor and despised on earth, we can look forward to inherit glory at last; in the other, though the world may be gained, the soul is lost!"
Mrs. Seymour sighed heavily. She was beginning to discover how little real happiness can be derived from earthly things, though as yet she had experienced no aching void within her own breast, or felt conscious of any of those deep, earnest longings after purity and holiness, which pervade the hearts of those who have commenced their heavenward journey.
For a few minutes longer they continued to converse on the same subject, and then they were obliged to separate.
Early the following morning, the gentleman to whom Mr. Seymour's telegram had been addressed arrived in all haste at the park; and after he and his client had been for a considerable time closeted together, Herbert was requested to join them in the library. He obeyed.
Mr. Malcolm for this was the lawyer's name-rose from his seat as Herbert entered, and bowed with an air of embarrassment and constraint, such as would have appeared highly ludicrous under different circumstances. Having done this, he resumed his chair, and began awkwardly to turn over the papers which were on the table just in front of him, eyeing the young man meanwhile with a face of grave concern curiously mingled with a certain expression of wonder and incipient contempt. Probably in society Mr. Malcolm might be considered a pleasant and agreeable man; for he was gentlemanly and intelligent, with an easy, assured, and generally refined manner, and a countenance of which he had no reason to be ashamed. Still, Herbert's first impression of him was not a favourable one. An indefinable something in the expression of his keen grey eye seemed to him indicative of a hard, unfeeling, selfish, and unamiable disposition. This impression was rather deepened when, after pointing to à chair, Mr. Seymour said, addressing his son with stern civility,
"Mr. Malcolm has suggested that your reluctance to comply with my most reasonable demands may proceed either from an imperfect knowledge of, or secret dissatisfaction with, the terms I proposed. I have therefore authorised him to add several very important clauses in your favour, and now give you a last opportunity of accepting my offer. Provided you will submit to my authority on one solitary point, I promise you unfettered liberty in every other respect; and further, not only will I make you my sole heir, but-instead of obliging you to wait until my death enables you to come into possession -I have resolved on investing you with a considerable portion of your property at once. Moreover; but"-checking himself" it will be more satisfactory for you to hear the contents of the documents themselves. Mr. Malcolm"-turning with a stately bend to that gentleman-" be good enough to read what you have written."
He obeyed; and when, after having gone through the leading features of the case, and dwelt at some length upon the advantages
which would accrue to Herbert, should such an arrangement be consummated, he came to the final summing up, it almost seemed a repetition of the words "All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me."
But Herbert did not hesitate for a moment: the glittering prospect thus temptingly held out before him could not shake his resolutionhe had already counted the cost. Wealth, friends, ease, and pleasure yea, life itself, he was ready to sacrifice; but CHRIST―never! Gently, but decisively, he made known his sentiments, though it required no little resolution and courage to enable him to do so..
Mr. Seymour listened with a face of ashy paleness; and Herbert saw by the angry light which flashed from his eye, and the stern contraction of his brows, that his wrath was terrible.
"Very well," he said, speaking at length, in a tone where pride struggled with rage, “I will not stoop to urge you further."
He then advanced to the table, slowly and deliberately possessed himself of the papers which had been just read and commented on, and, without another word, committed them to the flames!
Mr. Malcolm made a slight movement, as if he would have rescued them; but a look from Mr. Seymour restrained him. Not until they were completely destroyed did the latter stir from his position in front of the fire; but directly this was accomplished, he turned hastily round, and drawing himself up, with an air of haughty indifference, pointed to another document, which Herbert had not previously noticed, saying significantly,—
Now, it only remains for you to be made acquainted with the contents of this paper, so that you may clearly perceive the hopelessness and futility of expecting to receive any further marks of consideration or affection from me. It merely requires to be signed," he continued, after the young man had, in obedience to his desire, perused it; "and that"-crossing the room, and ringing the bell-" can be instantly done.”
As soon as the necessary forms had been gone through, Mr. Seymour signified by a wave of the hand, his wish to be relieved of Herbert's presence; and the latter taking the hint, immediately withdrew, knowing himself to be disowned and disinherited! A son from henceforth only in name-scarcely that; unjustly deprived of a son's right, debarred from a son's privileges-denied a son's place; and shut out from a son's affection. While realising this fact in all its bitterness, he was not wholly cast down. One ray of light shone clear and bright amidst the darkness which surrounded him; one throb of rapturous joy mingled with his sorrows, quickening his pulse, and lighting up his eye with a serene and holy triumph; one blissful thought was sufficient to chase away all his sombre reflections, and turn his mourning into thanksgiving and praise :
Every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life."
"On the wide world's ocean rudely driven,
Perfect peace through steadfast faith in Thee."
HERBERT PREPARES TO LEAVE HIS FATHER'S HOUSE.
FILLED with anger and mortification at the signal failure of his plans, Mr. Seymour sought his wife, and announced to her his intention of proceeding forthwith to London.
This would, he thought, be the easiest mode of getting over the parting scene between herself and Herbert, and also convey to the latter an intimation that every tie which had hitherto bound him to his home and parents was unloosed for ever.
"And Herbert ?" asked Mrs. Seymour, with anxious timidity, on receiving his communication.
"My dear Eleanor," returned her husband, in a low, concentrated voice, "I must beg that for the future you will refrain from mentioning that young man's name in my presence."
"O Henry," said the lady, clasping her hands together, and speaking in an earnest, pleading voice, "do not carry your resentment so far as that; you little know what cause you may have to reproach yourself hereafter."
She stopped, terrified at the unnatural rigidity of Mr. Seymour's features; but, rendered bold by despair, continued presently, with a sudden outburst of passionate feeling,-"I almost feel as if it will kill me to be thus cruelly deprived of my only child !"
"Nonsense, my dear;” replied Mr. Seymour, in that tone of halfcontemptuous pity which he was in the habit of employing when addressing those whom he looked upon as his inferiors in intellect; "you should dismiss all morbid fancies from your mind; there is happily no chance of such a calamitous event occurring, for I assure you these apparently overwhelming misfortunes do not occasion death."
"Apparently!" she gasped; why it is the bitterest and most grievous trial which could possibly befall me."
"No doubt it seems so to you at present," said Mr. Seymour soothingly, "but you will soon get accustomed to it”
"Never!" burst impulsively from Mrs. Seymour's lips.
"And even if you should suffer a little," he added with stern significance purposely turning a deaf ear to his wife's spirited interjection—“ your own good sense will, I am sure, show you the advisability of restraining all unseemly exhibition of distress; and also the absolute necessity of upholding my authority and respecting my wishes."
Poor Mrs. Seymour! she was like a bird in the snare of the fowler. Wildly she gazed around her in search of help-none came; earnestly she besought, and implored, and entreated-but all in vain; for, though she fluttered and struggled for a considerable time, she was not the less conquered at last; the indomitable will of her dictatorial