2021-04-18 01:35:08

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ENGLISH The rebuke sounded in the best of taste. Gordon bowed.The house was quiet at last, there was a passing cab or two, the heavy tramp of a policeman. Up in the nursery little Mamie was still sleeping, she was flushed and uneasy and murmuring as she slept. The recreant nurse lay on her back snoring loudly. Well, Hetty was a light sleeper, and her room was just opposite the nursery. Nurse would have slept through an earthquake.

Hetty returned to her room, but not to sleep. The vague shadow of some coming trouble lay upon her. She was young and healthy, and she was engaged to one of the best men on earth. And they were going to be married soon. She ought to have been superlatively happy.The Doctor found his voice again. "Great heavens," he burst out, in a hysterical shout. "Stop it. You must stop itI simply can't stand it."

I galloped away filled with an absurd foreboding that he was too sure, which may have come wholly from my bad temper at being started too late to see our ladies before morning. However, at two that night, my saddle laid under my head, and haversack under the saddle, I fell asleep with all Gallatin for my bedchamber, the courthouse square for my bed, the sky for my tester, the pole-star for my taper, hogs for mosquitoes and a club for a fan.Hetty returned to her room, but not to sleep. The vague shadow of some coming trouble lay upon her. She was young and healthy, and she was engaged to one of the best men on earth. And they were going to be married soon. She ought to have been superlatively happy.Without ceremony she darted into Countess Lalage's bedroom. The lights were still up, and the mistress of the house was brushing out her long black hair. She was cool and collected enough now.

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A few guests of the higher Bohemian type still lingered, but with easy tact the hostess contrived to get rid of them. Her absence had not been noticed, the little escapade on the motor was not mentioned.LIII "CAPTAIN, THEY'VE GOT US"

IV

Another day arose. A courier brought passes for our three or four other wounded to go home as soon as they were fit to travel, and by night they were all gone. At early bedtime came two surgeons of high rank all the way from Johnston's army up in Mississippi. General Austin had asked this favor by telegraph. Harry had been gone thirty-six hours, and Ferry was just asking if he had not yet got back, when the surgeons came in to the room. A pleasantry or two consumed a few moments. Then the surgeon in charge of us told of a symptom or two, to which they responded only "hmm," and began the examination. Miss Harper sent her three nieces away. I lay and listened in the busy stillness. Presently one of the examiners murmured with a certain positiveness to the other, who after a moment's silence replied with conviction; Miss Harper touched our surgeon's arm inquiringly and he looked back in a glad way and nodded. Miss Harper nodded to me; they had located the ball! Now the conversation turned upon men and events of the day, while one of the visitors, with his back to the patient, opened a case of glittering knives. Presently the professional heads came so close together as quite to hide the patient; they spoke once or twice in a manly soothing tone. Miss Harper stroked my temples to keep me down, one of the busy ones spoke again, and lo! the thing was done, there was the ball in the basin. As the men of blood sped through their kind after-work the news flew to and fro; Camille wept,--since she could not hurrah,--Ccile told Charlotte, the heavenly-minded Estelle was confirmed in her faith, Miss Harper's black eyes, after a brief overflow, were keener and kindlier than ever, and as the surgeons spoke the word "done," Ferry asked again if Harry had not got back yet. Pretty soon Harry did arrive, with news of great feats by our cavalry against our old enemy Grierson, in which Austin's brigade had covered themselves with glory, and in which he had had his own share; his hand was swelled as big as his heart. In all the Confederacy no houseful went to sleep that night in sweeter content. I sank into perfect bliss planning a double wedding."Oh, someone who had lost his way," said[Pg 82] Arthur, carelessly. He felt curiously disinclined to explain matters just at present. The Clockwork man was disconcerting. He was a rather terrifying side-issue. Arthur had a feeling that Rose would probably be frightened by him, for she was a timid girl. He half hoped now that this strange being would turn out to be some kind of monstrous hoax.

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"I do have ideas," he admitted, thoughtfully. "I suppose I'm really what you might call an intellectual sort of chap.""Dick," he said, suddenly grave as he walked me down the veranda, "her cousin Ccile! isn't it awful? Now that poor girl's gone back to Ned's bedside; back to her torture! Why do they let her? My George! it's merciless! Has her aunt no eyes?""Along the path from Bapchurch, sir." Mrs. Masters moderated her manner before the doctor's searching eye. "Poor old Mr. Winchape, he's not so young as he was, and it did give him a turn. He says he was 'urrying along so as to get 'ome in time for tea, and all of a sudden something flashed by 'im, so quick that he 'ardly realised it. He looked round, but it was gone in no time. He reckons it was the Old Man 'imself. There was fire[Pg 51] coming out of his mouth and 'is eyes was like two red 'ot coals"

When he looked up again the mask of evil passions was gone. The Countess was smiling in her most fascinating manner. Gordon could not know that the long filbert nails had cut through the woman's glove, and were making red sores on the pink flesh. He did not know that he would have stood in peril of his life had there been a weapon near at hand."I said next week," explained the other, "in order to make my meaning clear. Actually, of course, I don't describe time in such arbitrary terms. But when one is in Rome, you know. What I mean to convey is that I am capable of going not only somewhere, but also somewhen."

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Apr-18 01:35:08