Chapter 160789172

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Chapter NumberVI
Chapter Url
Full Date1889-05-25
Page Number44
Word Count1525
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleAdelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904)
Trove TitleThe Sexton's Secret
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Meanwhile the young heir hat grown, if not to man's, at any rate " boy's estate," as it may be said. At least he is in these days out of the hands of woman-folk, as he has himself been heard to observe; being now in the care of a sharp-eyed, ordinarily energetio tutor, who undertakes the wonted duties attaching to such a post. In these days the sexton's daughter spends most of her time in her mistreB8% dressing-room. The latter has been ailing for some time past, and requires frequent service from the quiet and depen dable maid who possesses the happy knaok of knowing exaotly when everything ought to be done. It wouldiseem as if at times the citizen's wife almost forgets the space that separates them in the social sphere, the one from the other-mistress and maid-and talks of many things whioh interest her per sonally.

She likes to hetr about the sexton's home in the forest, amidst the pines. She likes even to hear about that quiet reBting gronnd only a short distance from the hut in which Lisa has so often been wont to wander when a child.

There is a sort of silent sympathy between these two women-the one never enoroaching upon the respeotdue to the other-that other never having any reason to fear that her gentle friendliness will serve to oall forth any display of undne familiarity.

" And to think that, after all onr planning to indoles my carious sort of fancy to see Graminsky, I never went there, Lisa, after all!" |

"Yes, indeed, bahrinne. Ah, how much you would have liked the dear old place 1"

"Ah, yes, bahrinne; but perhaps when yon are well again-quite weil, I mean-you will be able to manage a visit then."

The still beautiful wife shakes her head somewhat sadly in reply.

Something tells her, she says, that it will be long before she is well again-perhapB never. And then Lisa is her own bright self again as in the days gone by at home, and, with a sunny langh, answers that of oonrse her mistress will be well again when summer comes, and so on. Somehow she, Lisa, feels strangely bound to the fasoinating woman whom it iB her duty to serve. She will wait upon her unflinchingly, and also faithfully, to the very end; and will protect her too as best she may, Lisa is resolved, from the dark shadow of evil, Occasionally she meets her master it may be on the staircase, but this is all; and should he address her about this or that, her answer is, as it is expected from her, short and simple. No single word of referenoe has ever been made by either of them to the subject of their conversation in the city offioe, now some years ago. It might almost be supposed that such words as had then fallen ha never in all reality passed their lips.

It was an inoident merely of the past, and must therefore necessarily remain so to the end. Such seemed the tacit understanding existing between those who might, had each chosen to do so, have chosen to break the spell at any moment. To-night, however, there iB considerable excitement within that luxurious abode. The servants flit to and

fro noiselessly, and every household duty Is performed in a hushed, stealthy manner.

The master of the mansion wears the air of being overburdened with Borrow. The doctor has told him that hia wife's case is one of danger, and the husband shrinks even from the contemplation of what such a fiat

may mean.

Should be lose Vera he feda that he should

scarcely care to live. Vera, whom he has loved so tenderly; and who, in return, thinks no one in all the world equal to him self.

He can scarcely bear to watch hia darling as she lies there, restless and excited, Buffer ing from the fever, which has been gaining pound for days past; and even though she frequently asks for him he steals away again after a few brief moments and takes refuge once more within his own apartment. There he can be alone at least, and give vent to all the maddening thoughts that are chasing each other wildly through his brain.

What if Vera should die! And then he cannot bear to be alone longer ; and rushes back well nigh reokleBsly, it would seem, into his wife's room. The dootor 1B bending down, even as the citizen enters, over his patient, Lisa is standing silently at the foot of the handsome bed. She comprehends everything; and also realizes the fact that much depends upon the amount of watchful nursing bestowed upon her mistresa.

Yes ; she will watoh by her aide night and day, of course; not flagging in the per formance of her task even for a single minute.

Already Cyril Cyrilovitch has advanced towards the bed, and stands now with pale facs close beside the doctor.

With quiet but aho marked professional promptitude the medical adviser has beckoned the master of the houBe on one side.

" I must have further assistance in the way of nursing," he scarcely more than whispers, "and Knowing that you place all power also responsibility-in my hands, I have ventnred to act as I thought wise."

The husband nodded hts head only In token of assent

"All right, then. I thought so. Of course. The nurse is waiting below, then, and I will Bnmmon her."

Already the dootor had disappeared. Already, too, the husband was peering wist fully into the faoe of her who lay there before him, breathing hurriedly, and throwing her soft delioate hands ever and anon from this side to the other.

" Ah, Cyril 1 It's you," fell wearily. "Why don't yon stay with me ?"

" I will, darling."

" Ton will keep your word, won't you ?"

" Of course, of oourse," came with an at tempted air of lightness. a The man's heart was sad, wisdom taught him that it were better for the loved wife's sake he should not show any sign of depression. " Why, wife, pet, wife," and the speaker went on in the eame light way, " You have never yet had any cause to mistrust me, have you 1"

" No, Cyril; not from the beginning to the end."

And then her hands were laid cireBBiogly a moment upon his own; and then were Uid atide again, from the sheer sense of reBtless


The end 1 The end 1 The words seemed echoed In his ears. Seek as he might to, chase the sound away theeoho fell again.

" You'll be better soon," fell now brightly, " we have enlisted the servioes of a trained nurse, pet. Much-nay, perhaps every thing-depends upon the nursing in snch a case as yours. Lisa Is of oonrse well enough;

but "

" But, Cyril-listen 1" was tire impatient interruption.


" Let me have Lisa only 1" came pleadingly. " I should prefer it, Cyril-I should indeed." The husband looked perplexed. " It is the dootor's own order," oame presently, "and yon know well, sweet wife, we both desire only to not for the best."

" I know it," and already the Bhow of re sistance to his wishes had disappeared. And then the patient had turned restlessly upon the soft downy pillow, which, alas, in that putioular oaae, possessed little power to produce "downy sleep."

But they were not now alone. 8trange footsteps were already heard within the room, and the hoshand bad turned round in an instant with the view of faoing the two


"Allow me to introduce good 'Sister Hilda,'" remarked the doctor, in a hushed voice, and shortly. He was only transact ing a business matter in a true business-like way, and further forma must be dispensed

The husband had done his part as de sired. He had greeted the " Sister" cour teously. The light afforded by a oarefully sbaded lamp standing at a considerable dis tance showed everything dimly. It was only the soft subdued light wnioh painters delight to pioture.

Suoh light anffioed, however, to portray the main outlines of the new-oomer's general appearanoe a Sister of Meroy, olad in the simple garments of her Order ; a plain blaok dress, with pure white bib and snow-white cap, for the wearer had already removed her bonnet and veil, in view of her advent into the siok-room. Such waB the vision that now met the glance of the anxious hus

band 1

As the new-comer stood there, placidly, bntalso fixedly for an instant, regarding him face to face, he only knew that he ooula with difficulty withdraw his own gaze. It seemed almost as if he were influenced by some spell whioh for the moment he had no power to resist.

" I am at your service," fell in an earnest, grave voice, " and will not fail to do my duty by my lady-patient,"

The husband started an instant. He had heard that voioe before. Where ?