"Caused by disease of the heart?"
"Caused by no disease. I have been deceived about my father's death--and I have only discovered it a few days since."
At the impending moment of the frightful shock which she was innocently about to inflict on him, she stopped--doubtful whether it would be best to relate how the discovery had been made, or to pass at once to the result. Mirabel supposed that she had paused to control her agitation. He was so immeasurably far away from the faintest suspicion of what was coming that he exerted his ingenuity, in the hope of sparing her.
"I can anticipate the rest," he said. "Your sad loss has been caused by some fatal accident. Let us change the subject; tell me more of that man whom I must help you to find. It will only distress you to dwell on your father's death."
"Distress me?" she repeated. "His death maddens me!"
"Hear me! hear me! My father died murdered, at Zeeland--and the man you must help me to find is the wretch who killed him."
She started to her feet with a cry of terror. Mirabel dropped from his chair senseless to the floor.
Emily recovered her presence of mind. She opened the door, so as to make a draught of air in the room, and called for water. Returning to Mirabel, she loosened his cravat. Mrs. Ellmother came in, just in time to prevent her from committing a common error in the treatment of fainting persons, by raising Mirabel's head. The current of air, and the sprinkling of water over his face, soon produced their customary effect. "He'll come round, directly," Mrs. Ellmother remarked. "Your aunt was sometimes taken with these swoons, miss; and I know something about them. He looks a poor weak creature, in spite of his big beard. Has anything frightened him?"