Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Stories and Tales >> The Bride of Hate; Or, the Passage of a Night >> Page 138

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Short Stories | U of South Carolina P | 1974
Transcription 138THE BRIDE OF HATE
am I? was the question, not so natural to the boy, yet natural enough
to the sensitive and thoughtful. I was both sensitive and thoughtful;
and my boyish associates, on this very subject, contrived to keep me
so. Their inquiries disordered me their surprise at my ignorance
alarmed me their occasional doubts gave me pain, and the suspicions
of their minds readily passed into my own. "Who am I?" was the
perpetual inquiry which my mind was making of itself. I could
address it no where else. My tutor, with whom I also lodged, de-
clared his ignorance, and I believed him. He was too good a man,
too kind, and himself betrayed too great an interest in the question,
not to have spoken sincerely. He saw my disquiet and endeavoured to
allay it, and the endeavour added to the burden, since it sufficiently
declared his equal inability and desire. His anxiety, though unequal
to, was not unlike my own. I know not if his conjectures led him to
like conclusions with myself. I only know that mine were sufficiently
painful to extort my tears and tremors.
Vainly, at each quarterly return of the agent of the Baroness, did
I endeavour, by question and insinuation, to gather from him some
clue to the facts of which I sought to be possessed. He had been the
person who brought me to the school who made the contract for
my education and support with my tutor and who, alone, through
each successive period of my life afterwards, had been the medium
for conveying the benefactions of my friend. To whom then could I
so naturally apply? From whom could I hope to obtain better in-
formation? Besides, he always treated me with marked affection.
I can remember, when a mere child, how frequently he took me upon
his knee, how kindly he caressed me, what affectionate words he
poured into my ear; the gentleness of his tones, the tenderness of
his regards ! Nor as I advanced in years did his attentions alter,
though they assumed different aspects. He was more reserved, though
not less considerate. If he no longer brought me toys, he brought
me books; if he no longer took me on his knee, he lingered with me
long, and seemed to regret the hour that commanded his departure.
There was something, too, so I fancied, in what he said, did, and
looked, that betrayed the fondness of one who had known me with
a tender interest from the beginning. His arms, perhaps, had dandled
me in infancy; he had been my follower, my attendant. But why
linger on conjectures such as these? My speculations ran wild, as I