"Certainly," replied Richard Causton, heartily; "especially as I suspect that I shall also be doing a favor to my young friend, Mr. Arling. 'He that loves the tree, loves the branch,' you know."Carice remained, trying her best to reduce the confusion of her mind to order, and, especially, to discover some clue to the mystery of Bergan's doings and intentions. She gave up the difficult task, at last, with a weary little shake of the head, and a smile of pity at her own helplessness.
A toast so perfectly in harmony with the corrupt atmosphere of the bar-room could but be received and drunk with acclamation. Bergan, perforce, lifted his glass to his lips, but the fiery draught, prepared with a single eye to the requirements of his uncle's sophisticated palate, was so little suited to his own purer taste, that he set it down with its contents very little diminished. Observing this, Major Bergan's face grew dark.Chapter 11 A CLUE.
"None," replied Astra. "And what accommodations have we for such a friend, if we had one?""Among which you would doubtless class your humble servant," returned Bergan, "if you could look into his mind, at this moment."
Doctor Trubie flung down the letter with a most disgusted face. "To think that Roath should escape me thus!" he exclaimed, discontentedly. "That is, to be sure, if Bergan does not recover. He shall recover!"
He next applied himself, with good will and not unskilfully, to the task of restoring animation. The wound, it appeared, had touched no vital part—Big Ben's intention having been better than his aim—and, being helped by the position in which Bergan had lain, it had stanched itself. The blows of Ben's heavy fist had been much more effective. Dick wellnigh gave up in despair before his efforts were rewarded by the faintest sign that the soul had not forever quitted its earthly house. Taking heart then, he worked on till the eyes opened and the lips moved, but not with intelligent sight or coherent speech. The one beheld only the misty phantoms, as the other gave utterance but to the wild fancies, of a fevered and delirious imagination. Now, his uncle's death-bed was the gloomy subject of Bergan's ravings; now, he beheld Carice in danger or distress, and sought to hasten to her relief, making it necessary for Dick to hold him in bed by main strength.
Neither did he find it in Dr. Remy. Though he met the physician daily, and often engaged with him in hour-long colloquies upon all sorts of topics, he never felt that he really knew him any better than on the first day of their acquaintance. The doctor's peculiar frankness, which had seemed, at first sight, to promise such facility of intimacy, proved to be really more of the nature of an elastic barrier, yielding everywhere to the slightest pressure, but nowhere completely giving way. Or, it might be still more fitly characterized as a deceitful quagmire, wherein the curious explorer sank indefinitely, but never touched solid bottom.
"Only once, to my knowledge. During the Revolution, Colonel Bergan was hidden here some days, when a party of British were quartered on the premises,—some of the same party that Sergeant Jasper afterwards captured.""How can I thank you!" exclaimed Bergan, wringing the doctor's hand."I did not mean to," responded Bergan, drowsily. And his eyes closed again.
If Carice was absent, on these occasions, he never asked for her; if she was present, he rarely addressed his conversation to her; nevertheless he weighed every word, and shaped every sentence, with artful reference to its effect upon her ear and mind. Every resource of his tact and skill was exhausted, in his effort to attract and keep the attention of the fair, silent girl, sitting in the shadow, with the drooping head, and the patient, preoccupied face.
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"De puerta cerrada el diablo se torna,—From a locked door, the devil turns away," he muttered, settling himself in his hiding place, with the intention of remaining there until the anticipated departure."Oh, no! I could not do that," exclaimed Coralie, shrinking back and blushing deeply, "he would think—that is, it would look like thrusting myself in his way."
Doctor Remy could not immediately answer. His mind was in a whirl of confusion, disappointment, and anxiety. Mechanically, he put his hand to his brow; and the gesture helped him to a plausible explanation."I forgot to mention," said he, "that I did not walk quite the whole distance. A queer old character whom I overtook, insisted upon giving me a lift to Berganton."详情
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