|Chapter Title||In Articulo Mortis.|
|Newspaper Title||Australian Town and Country Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1870 - 1907)|
|Trove Title||The Mystery of Phillip Bennion's Death|
In Articulo Mortis.
"Not dead," they told us, when we reached the ward hu which the woman lay.
A little further on the information was amplified. "Not dead," said the nurse whose duty it was to attend on that particular patient, "hut dying fast. You're only just in time."
"Is she conscious," I asked.
"Quite conscious. In cases like this they often are. She'll probably be conscious to the very end." Then she added, aa if in answer to an un»' spoken inquiry whick sha ¡saw written on my face: "Nothing ithat you can say or do will make any difference ta her now-except, perhaps, that it may ease her mind. . It's internal hemorrhage-she can scarcely last half an hour at the most."
iWheni I .stood beside the bed on which the woman, lay, I could see that what the nurse said was true, that nothing could make any difference to her now. Even ito my unpractised] eyes, upon her countenance the near approach) of death was written large.
Nonie of her Injuries wera visible. Whatever they might be, they had left her face untouched1. It struck me, whem I first had seen her, how pretty she was. Lying there, with her hat off, and her face just visible above the bedclothes, she looked prettier event thain she had! looked in the street. She never had! beeni beautiful; there was not intel lect enough in her face for that. But she was conspicuous, ia an unusual degree, for that dainty, sensuous, animal prettiness, which experience has taught me that the majority of men find more at tractive in a woman even than actual beauty.
One tiling I was glad to notice, that there was about her no atmosphere of drink. All that had gone. The great thing that was coming had driven/ it away. So far as I could judge, she was as sober as ever a woman was. She was not to realise ..that drunkard's ideal: she was not to die drunk.
I could sea at a glance that she waa as much her self as I was, if aha waa not more herself than I
We remained looking at each other for a moment in silence; I wondering what there was of such pra eminent importance, aa the message which had been brought to me suggested, which she could possibly have to say to me, a perfect stranger; she regarding me with big, wide open', beautiful blua eyes, as if ehe were endeavoring to read on my countenance something which she fancied' might be there.
As she showed no sign of any intention to speak to me, I spoke to her.
"I hope," I said, "ithat you ara not in pain."
The tone in which she replied was not loud; she was evidently very weak, and her voice waa failing her ¿a swiftly os her life, but it was clear, and cool, and sedf-po-sessad. She gave me the im pression that she was saying what she meant.
"No; I am not in paint; I am dying." Then, after a pause: "I don't mind."
"I hope," I continued), "that, in what has hap pened, you do not think that I have been in any .way to blame?"
"No. Besides, it doesn't matter."
The careless, and even) cynical indifference of hep words and manner, in circumstances such os hers, and ia one so young, jarred upon one's nerves. I waa at a loss whist to say to her. Evidently thia was a oasQ in) which none of the ordinary truisms would be of the least avail.
(Tb ba continued.) , ", . ^7,