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An English army surgeon, who came from Malta a day or two after their arrival, thoroughly approved of M. Chenu's treatment, but agreed in his verdict that any other expectation would be futile; recovery, though not impossible where no vital part was injured, was most improbable where nature had so large a surface to repair.

Yet the actual symptoms that would have been immediate doom did not appear, but as one dim sad day rolled by after another, the parts least hurt began to show a tendency to heal; and therewith sprang up a conviction in Wilmet's mind that there was not always a total insensibility to her presence or Mr. Harewood's, but that the face changed at their voices, and that there was a preference for her hand; and then Dr. Chenu began declaring that these English had complexions' like rocks, and that if it were not 'the impossible,' there would be hope; and instead of giving his anodynes with the reckless desire to stifle pain, he become cautious, modified them, and only gave them when decisively expedient. There were

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There resulted a gradual clearing of the senses. lulls when pain was comparatively in abeyance, and the faculties less and less clouded, the eyes regained meaning, and smiles of greeting hovered on the lips; a sense of repose in the presence of Wilmet and his father was evident; an uneasy perception if either were absent; and at last an exchange of words-conscious words. When his awakening was marked, not by a groan of pain, but by the feeble inquiry, 'Where's Wilmet?' she felt as if she had had her reward.

Once he asked 'Where's your brother?' and when she explained that none of her brothers were with her, he seemed confused and dissatisfied; but his voice died into an indistinct murmuring; and when twice again the same inquiry recurred, she set it down to the semi-delirious delusions that the narcotics sometimes occasioned. She knew that an English gentleman had done much for him at first, and had only left him the day before her arrival; and she had regretted being unable to discover who he was from lips unused to British nomenclature, but had been too much engrossed to think much about the matter. But there were now intervals in which she fully had her John again, entirely sensible, anxious to preserve his consciousness, so as to be desirous of putting off the sedative as

CHAP.

XXXI.

CHAP. XXXI.

long as he could endure the attacks of suffering without it. He could listen, and sometimes talk; and the next time he returned to the puzzling question, 'When did your brother go?' there could be no doubt that he was in full possession of his understanding; and Wilmet answered, ‘Dear John, I do not know what you are thinking of; Felix has never been here at all.'

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'I do not mean Felix; it was Edgar.'

Edgar! You never have seen him, you know, dear,' said Wilmet, speaking softly, as one persuaded that he was recalling a delusion.

'I know that. I never saw him at home; but he was in the train. He was the first to come to me; he said he would telegraph. Surely he did so ?'

'That accounts for the correctness of the telegram!' said Mr. Harewood. I remember now that the wording was so well put, that it gave me hope that you must be quite yourself.'

'What was it?'

They could well tell him, for it had seemed branded in fire on their minds for days.

'Yes, that was his doing. I think I only called you her,' he said, smiling. 'I could trust to his knowing my her of hers.'

'But how did you know one another? Was it in the train ?' 'No. Poor Frank Stone recognised me at Suez, and begged me to come with him on the engine. I remember his consulting me about representing the impracticability of some of his subordinates; and next after that I was somewhere on the stones, unable to stir hand or foot-not in pain, but a numbness and faintness all over me, with every sense preternaturally clear, as if I were all spirit. I made no doubt I was dying fast; and when some one came to see after me, I begged him to take down my telegram to my father while I could give it. I remember his start and cry when I gave my name. "Good Heavens!" he said. "You are not Jack? Wilmet's Jack ?" and really, I hardly knew ; my voice seemed to come from somewhere else; but I saw the face over me that belongs to you all.'

'And did you speak to him? But no, you were in no state for that.'

'I gave what messages I could think or speak; but the numb

I

CHAP.

XXXI.

faintness grew on me, and seemed to gather up all my senses.
did not seem able to care about anything when I felt myself in his
hands.'

'Edgar!' repeated Wilmet, still slow to believe. 'Did you call him by his name?'

'I cannot tell; I think I did. I know I no more doubted of its being he than I do that you are Wilmet. Ah! I remember struggling between a sense that I ought, and the growing disinclination to speak, and wanting to tell him to go home, for you were all very unhappy about him. Did I get it out? Did he answer? I cannot tell! No, dearest, I know no more, nor why he is not here. Zadok must know; where is he?'

The Hindoo was summoned, and it was elicited that the English gentleman had watched over the Sahib day and night, sent the telegrams, called in the doctor from Malta, and had acted as if the patient had been his brother, only going away by the last train before the arrival of Mr. Harewood, and then leaving with him a packet only to be given up in case the Major should die without recovering the power of speech. It was claimed, and proved to contain a record of all that poor John had endeavoured to say, but written in a disguised hand, though merely in the spelling of the names betraying that the scribe had been no stranger. It was plain that he had so entirely thought Major Harewood a dying man, as to have made no attempt at concealing his own identity from him, but he had kept it carefully guarded from every one else; and Wilmet's heart smote her as she questioned, 'Would he have fled if it had been Felix or Cherry who had been coming?'

Questions were asked, and both M. Chenu and Madame Spiridione testified that the gentleman who had attended on Major Harewood had been un jeune homme extrêmement beau— grand et blond, but they had no guess as to his name, and merely knew that he had gone away towards Alexandria. Both there and at Cairo did Mr. Harewood write to make inquiries, but always in vain ; and the trains were so few and so slow, that he could not go himself without a longer absence than seemed fitting to propose in his son's precarious state, when the very efforts that nature was making towards restoration might so easily result in fever, or in fatal changes in the wounds.

CHAP. XXXI.

The sight of him seemed to be only less precious to John than that of Wilmet. When in comparative ease, it was almost a basking in their presence. After his long years of foreign service, no one could guess, he said, the delight it was to look at them; and when he meditated on the journey they had taken for his sake, he would break out in wondering gratitude, not to be checked by Wilmet's simplicity of protest, 'Of course she had come; she could not help it.'

The pleasure and comfort she gave him were really serving to bear him through. Not only was her touch unusually light, firm, dextrous, and soft, but pain from her hand was not like that given by any one else, when each dressing was tortured; an when his nerves were strung to an acute misery of sensitiveness, her look and touch, her voice and gesture alone were endurable. His first powers of being entertained were shown when she talked, or sang, not indeed as her brothers could sing, but in a low, sweet, and correct voice, that had an infinite charm of soothing that weary sickness. He might strive not to be exacting; but his face showed in spite of himself that when she quitted the room the light of his life went with her, and there was nothing left him but tedium, helplessness, and sore suffering.

She only did leave him for sleep, which she could usually time while he was lulled by the anodyne, and for hurried meals at the table d'hôte, which collected almost every European in the place. Mr. Harewood likewise made a great point of taking her out every evening for a sandy walk on the boulevard under the palm trees, as a preservative of her health, much to the perplexity of the observers. She saw no necessity for leaving John, to plough her way in the hot sand; but it relieved the Librarian's mind, and was besides their opportunity for discussing questions not intended for their patient's ear.

Here it was that Mr. Harewood communicated his difficulty. He had exchanged one course at the cathedral, but could not arrange for the next, and it was imperative that he should be at home by the end of the second week in the New Year. John, though they dared now to call him better, was still immovable, and what could be done? 'Shall I,' said the Librarian, ' telegraph to William to bring out Lucy or Grace?'

'Would that be of any use ?' said Wilmet, thinking only of their scatter-brained fecklessness in Lance's case.

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They have not your faculties of nursing, my dear; but you see, I don't perceive how otherwise to contrive for your remaining.' 'Mine! I must stay!' exclaimed Wilmet, her little proprieties most entirely vanished into oblivion.

'I knew you would say so. Indeed, I still think nothing else gives a hope of pulling my poor boy through; but in that case, you see, my dear, one of the girls-or their mother—'

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'She would be very uncomfortable, and all for nothing,' said Wilmet; and William would lose his term. You know,' and only then the colour flew into her cheeks, 'I could do very well alone if you were only to marry us.'

With such simplicity and straightforwardness was it said, that the Librarian had replied, 'The very best plan,' before the strangeness struck him, and he began to falter, 'You have-John has settled it ?'

'No,' said Wilmet, crimson, but grave, steady, and earnest, it was only this that made me think of it; but if it can be managed without hurting him, it seems to me the most feasible way.'

This form of speech of course only proceeded from unfathomable depths of affection and reserve, and it was understood. 'Dear child,' said Mr. Harewood, 'this is the truest kindness of all. I will not thank you. You and I are too much one with him for that; but I wish his mother could have known what he has won.'

Soft silent tears were dropping fast under Wilmet's broad hat. Maidenliness would have that revenge; and she could not speak. The question of broaching the subject to John overwhelmed her with embarrassment and shamefastness, at the thought of her own extraordinary proceeding. Perhaps an impulse might have led her into proposing it to him, as she had done to his father, but the bare idea of so doing filled her with shame and dismay; and Mr. Harewood, a ceremonious and punctilious gentleman of the old school, thought it incumbent on him to lead his son to make the proposition, so that it might come at least in appearance from the right quarter.

He had to watch his opportunity, for John was by no means

CHAP.

XXXI.

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