Chapter 160105243

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Chapter NumberX
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article160105243
Full Date1884-12-27
Page Number7
Corrections27
Word Count1674
IllustratedN
Last Corrected2018-03-12
Newspaper TitleAdelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904)
Trove TitleSowing the Wind
article text

CHAPTER X.

Scarcely crediting what she heard Helen followed where the other led, and saw them bringing in by a side door, to avoid the more frequented front entrance, the poor lady upon a rude litter. Setting her down they found that she certainly breathed, and to all outward appearance was uninjured, although she was quite unconscious. A large strong tree had caught her in its branches, pre- venting her falling to the bottom of the pre- cipice.

Helen's and Marguerite's earnest solicitude elicited the sympathy of the good-hearted hostess, who selected the most suitable room,

available, far enough from all noise and bustle, and volunteered to seek a doctor among the many visitors at that large hotel.

Herr von Reiner soon presented himself, and after a long and careful examination, during which Madame remained quite un- conscious, he directed all that should be done for her; then, drawing Helen aside, told her that he must prepare her for the worst—that

the lady, her mother, had received an internal injury from which she could not possibly recover, although she might linger for some days, and asked if he could write or tele- graph to any friends for her; and learning that Monsieur, Madame's husband, was in the hotel, he hastened away to find him, pro- mising to return in an hour.

Helen sat by the bedside assiduously apply- ing the restoratives as prescribed, watching for any sign of returning consciousness. Marguerite was noiselessly arranging the room. After some time Helen beckoned the latter to her side, and pointed to Madame's face. The features were working, animation was returning; she opened her eyes and moaned.

Helen whispered, "You are safe, dear Madame."

"I suffer," she moaned again. Helen hoped that the doctor would soon return.

Just then voices were heard outside the door—Monsieur's French excited raisedly to a high key—then the door without warning flew open, and he, rushing to the bedside,

exclaimed—

"My love! My love! My wife! You are not killed; you are saved. You are restored

to me."

As might be expected such a scene only aggravated her suffering. She trembled so that the very bed shook beneath her.

"What is this, eh? What is this?" was said in German, and the doctor strode into the room, "What mischief is this? You must be mad."

"Yes, yes, that is it. I shall be mad. My wife! My wife!"

"This is no place for you, then," and Herr von Reiner quietly put him out and locked the door.

Madame had relapsed into a dead faint He stayed with them till she had partially recovered, though she was still moaning most sadly.

"The lady is not your mother, eh?" he whispered. "Perhaps it is better that she is not; but you will have a weary time of nursing. I will do all I can, but with the few medicines I can get here I fear that I cannot avert fever."

"I will try to find some old woman to help you; in the meantime keep your door locked

against that madman—pardon me, but I have no sympathy with such demonstrations of feeling, jeopardizing the very life one wishes

to save."

Oh, those days and nights of weary watch- ing that followed! How sorely they tried these two young girls! Yet how much their

mutual love and pity for their suffering friend, and their united efforts to relieve her, strengthened that sympathetic bond which had always united these orphans! Neither of them thoroughly realized this at the time, so different as they were in birth and educa- tion, yet so much akin in mind.

The poor lady seldom ceased talking in her delirium. Sometimes she seemed to be a child at play, with her nurse for companion; sometimes admiring her husband's great genius; but constantly, among all her rambling, would intervene a cry, heart- rending in its intensity, for the "Blessed Mother" to save and to help her!

They found it necessary to remove her to a neighbouring cottage, occupied by a lone old woman, to whom the "ill wind" to these poor travellers was an unexpected boon, while they were very glad of her help and

advice.

After a few days the fever abated and reason returned. Madame lay exhausted and almost motionless, yet her eyes would wander after her nurses. She asked where was Monsieur? and was told that he re- mained at the hotel, but had enquired daily after her. She made no reply, but closed her eyes, and was silent for some time, until the entrance of a priest, for whom she had asked upon first awaking to conscious- ness, seeming intuitively to know that death

was near.

When the priest had departed she appeared to have regained a little strength, all pain having ceased, and having asked for writing materials, propped up with pillows, she wrote with frequent pauses to rest. When she had finished writing she lay back exhausted.

Helen was with her alone sitting by her side. In a little time she spoke again.

"My love, I am most thankful for the com- fort of your companionship the last few months of my life; but what will you do when I am gone? This thought has dis-

turbed me much. You remember visiting with me the gentleman, my old guardian, in Berne, and I think were favourably prepos- sessed with him. I have occasion to write to him upon my own affairs, and—you will not think me impertinent?—have asked him to further any plans you may make for the future. Another thought which perplexes me is about Marguerite.

"Dear Madame, if Marguerite will stay with me, I shall be so very glad to have her. I have ample means for a little time,

and"—

"That is well. I am much pleased to hear

you say so. I have no doubt of Marguerite's willingness to remain. She is much attached to you. Will you then take this note into your care, and promise me that you will send it as soon as I am gone, and then wait here until you receive some answer?"

"I will do all you wish, dear Madame but, oh! is there no hope? Is it not possible for you to recover?"

"I have no wish to live, my child, and if it may be that my great trials and sufferings release me the sooner from the pains of pur- gatory, I may hope, before very long, to be at rest."

"Do you remember that cross upon the mountain, dear Madame? It appeared to me as it stood there to be the very symbol of love and mercy, to welcome with its ex- tended arms all and any—and, as I have been taught, unconditionally."

"Yes, yes—a sign of love, and mercy, and forgiveness—and so I must, I do, forgive."

Madame closed her eyes, and remained silent for a few minutes, then resumed—

"There is one more thing I would say, my dear child. I have no thought but for your happiness. Should my husband present to you any plan by which he might make it appear feasible and proper for you to remain with him, I counsel you, my love—I counsel you,

do not accede to it."

"Certainly, dear Madame. I can see no plan that could be feasible; but even were it possible, and I had the inclination, your advice would have great weight with me, but," and Helen's voice faltered so much that she could scarcely proceed, " I could not remain with him; it would be impossible. I should be reminded of your absence at every turn, and I would rather seek new

scenes."

"I think, then, that your path will be com- paratively easy if you will be guided by my guardian, Monsieur Deslandes, to whom as you see the note is addressed. Marguerite," she continued, as the girl just then entered the room, "you have often expressed to me a great regard for Mademoiselle Montaine. Remain with her my child, as she is willing that you should do. I am confident that your mother would have wished no better nor easier service. You are willing and pleased? Yes, I knew that. Now I can rest; I can die

in peace, at least after I have seen my hus- band. Will you send for him, and tell him that I have but a few hours to live, and would take my last farewell?"

What that leaving-taking was like, of course, no one could tell, after he had been prevailed upon to visit her; for great as his emotion had appeared before, and unremit- ting his attentions, while Madame remained unconscious, Monsieur now showed great re- luctance to see her, saying he wouid not be- lieve she would die—he could not say farewell

to her.

However, he went, and Helen saw him leaving the cottage after the interview, as she was returning from a stroll into the fresh air. She could not tell if he saw her; his eyes were bent upon the ground, and he seemed to slink into a side path which hid him from her sight.

"God bless you my love," said the poor lady as Helen resumed the accustomed place at her bedside.

"God bless you as you have been a bless- ing; there is no need for your weary watch to-night. I shall sleep well; it is already

getting very dark, I would compose myself to sleep."

The rays of the setting sun were pouring into the room, the eyes were glaring, external objects were becoming dim—the hand Helen held was cold and damp—a few minutes more

and a long-drawn breath, and a strange sound in the throat too surely told that all was over.

Helen bowed her head upon the clasped hand, feeling that never before had she been so utterly desolate.