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as long as I choose. It concerns nobody. It concerns nobody if I die. It would be an excellent thing, saving me the trouble later of blowing out my brains. My God, Aurora, have you understood?" he almost shouted.

"Yes," said Aurora in a voice that sounded pale, even as her face looked pale. "I have understood, and I won't come again. Just one thing, Gerald. Put your arms under the bedclothes and keep them there."

"WHETHER he 's better or worse I truly could n't tell you," Aurora said in answer to Estelle's first question. After a moment she added, "I can't make him out."

Estelle saw that she was deeply troubled, and, herself troubled at the sight, did not press her for explanations.

During the drive home Aurora made only one other remark. It was delivered with a certain emphasis:

"One thing I know: I sha'n't go there again in a hurry!"

Her lilacs, after wondering a moment what to do with them, she had quietly deposited outside Gerald's entrance-door.

It was unimaginable, of course, that the childhood's friend should so disregard the rules of the game as to leave her old playmate's curiosity long unsatisfied. Estelle accordingly learned before evening that Gerald had been guilty of an attack of nerves, in the course of which he had said something which Aurora did not like. What this was Aurora would not tell, saying it seemed unfair to repeat things Gerald had spoken while he was not himself and that he perhaps did not mean. From which Estelle judged that Aurora. had already softened since she returned to the carriage looking as grim as she was grieved.

That Aurora had something on her mind no observant person could fail to see, and Estelle was not unprepared to hear her say as she did on the third morning at breakfast, after fidgeting a moment with a pinch of bread:

"I'm so uneasy I don't know what to do. That boy is much sicker than he

knows," she went on to justify her disquietude, "and he 's in a bad mood for getting well. I don't believe Italian dọctors know much, anyhow. I've heard that they still put leeches on you. All he has to take care of him, day and night, is that old servant-woman What's-hername, who, he told me himself, doctors him with herb-tea. I'm so uneasy! The sort of cold he has, I tell you, can turn any minute into something you don't want. He's all run down and a bad subject for pneumonia. I'm thinking I shall have to just go to the door and find out how he is."

"You could send a servant to inquire," suggested Estelle.

Aurora appeared to reflect; she might have been trying to find a reason for not taking the hint, but she said frankly:

"No; I should feel better satisfied to go myself."

At the last moment, when they were ready to start, Estelle found Busteretto's nose hot, and decided not to go. She stayed at home and called a doctor. For some days the pet had not seemed to her in quite his usual form.

Aurora, climbing Gerald's stairs this time, felt very uncertain and rather small. The street door, when she had pulled the bell-handle, had unlatched with a click, but no voice had called down, and when she reached the top landing the door in front of her stood forbiddingly closed. She waited for some minutes, wondering whether she was doing right. Suppose Gerald were enough better to be up again and, Giovanna being out, should himself come to open the door. How would she feel, caught slinking back, after she had been requested loudly and roundly to stay away?

Well, set aside how she felt, the object of her coming would have been reached, would n't it? She would know that he was better. She rang and listened.

Certain, as soon as she heard them, whose footsteps were on the other side of the door, she held in readiness her Italian. She counted on understanding Giovanna's answer to her question, for she had, as she

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boasted, "quite a vocabulary." But much more than to this she trusted to the talent which Italians have for making their meaning clear through pantomime and facial expression.

As soon, in fact, as Giovanna opened the door, and before the woman had said a word in reply to "Come sta Signor Fane?" Aurora had understood.

Giovanna's eyes, stained with recent weeping, looked up at the visitor without severity or aversion, seeking for sympathy; the unintelligible account she gave of her master's condition was broken up with sighs.

Aurora felt her heart turn cold, and such agitation seize her as made her reckless of all but one thing.

"I shall have to see for myself," she thought.

With the haste of fear, she flew before Giovanna down the long hallway, around the dark corner, to the door of Gerald's room. It was half open. Checking herself on the threshold, she thrust in her head.

He was so lying in his bed that beyond the outlined shape under the covers she could see of him only a dark spot of hair. And she felt she must see his face, whether asleep or awake, to get some idea. She tiptoed in with the least possible noise. At once, without turning, he asked something in Italian, and speaking forced him to cough; and after he had finished coughing, Aurora, who was near, could hear his breathing rustle within him like wind. among dead leaves.

Giovanna had gone to the head of his bed and whispered a communication. Upon which he twisted sharply around, and Aurora, moved by an overpowering impulse, rushed to his side.

"Hush!" she said at once. "Don't try to talk; it makes you cough. I just wanted to know how you were. It would be funny, now don't you think so yourself, if, such friends as we 've been, I should stop caring anything about you because you were cross the other day? I had to come and see if there was n't something we could do for you."

The attempt to speak choked him again; he had to lift himself finally quite up from his pillow to get breath. Quicker than Giovanna, Aurora snatched up a gray shawl from a chair to put over his shoulders. The room felt to her stagnantly cold. He stopped her hand in the act of folding him in, and she knew that it was not the Gerald of last time, this one who, with an afflictive little moan, clasped and pressed her hand.

She hushed him, every time he tried to speak, until his breathing had quieted down, when he came out despite her forbidding with a ragged, interrupted, but obstinate eagerness:

"How can I ever thank you enough for coming, dear, dear Aurora? I have lived in one prolonged nightmare ever since I saw you, knowing I had behaved like a blackguard, and fearing I should never have a chance to beg your pardon. I really thought I should never see you again. And here you are, so generous, so kind!"

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should get well," he testily persisted, "as that I should ask your forgiveness. It has been weighing upon me and burning like bedclothes of hot iron, the horror of having so meanly and ungratefully offended you."

"Why should you feel so bad about it as long as I don't? Put it all out of your mind, just as I do out of mine. There, it's all right. Now keep still except to answer my questions. You 've had the doctor?"

"Yes, dear."

"What's he giving you?"

"You can see-there on the standthose bottles."

I don't know what

"And hot things on your chest?" "Yes; semedilino. you call it in English." "Flaxseed, I guess. How can poor old Giovanna do everything for you?"

"I don't know," he answered vaguely. "She does."

Perceiving that by a reaction from his excitement he was suddenly fatigued to the point of no longer being able to speak at all or even keep his eyes open, she asked nothing more, but with a practised hand straightened his bolster, smoothed his pillow, and drew the covers evenly and snugly up to his chin.

"Don't you be afraid," he heard her say above him, as it seemed to him a long time after, at the same moment that he felt her give his shoulder a little squeeze to impress her saying: "I won't let anything happen to you."

He entered a state which was neither quite sleep nor quite waking. He was not dreaming, yet the world within his eyelids was peopled with creatures, and varied by incidents, departing from the known and foreseen. Something malevolent pertained to the personalities, something disquieting to the actions; suffering and oppression resulted from his inability. to get away from them. They came and went, one scene melted into another, sometimes beautiful, sometimes repulsive, a sickly disagreeableness being common to all, and the fatigue involved with watch

ing the spectacle of them weighing like a physical burden.

But yet beneath the unrest of fever dreams there was in Gerald, after Aurora's visit, a substratum of quiet and content. As a good Catholic, having confessed and received absolution, would be less troubled by either his symptoms or any visions that might come of Satan and his imps, so Gerald, with the weight of his sins of brutality and ingratitude lifted off him, could feel almost passive with regard to the rest.

He had moments through the night of recognizing the deceptiveness of his senses. He knew, for instance, that the solemn clerical gentleman in a long black coat and tall hat, whom he saw most tiresomely coming toward him down the street every time he opened his eyes, was only a medicine bottle, full of dark fluid, outlined against the dim candle-shine. And he knew that the tower of ice, solitary amid snows, lighthouse, or tower of defense on some arctic coast, was nothing but a glass of water. And when it seemed to him, late, late in the night, that Aurora was in the room, he knew off and on that it was Giovanna, who through one of those metamorphoses common in fever had taken the likeness of Aurora. She lifted him to make him drink, and supported him while she held the glass to his lips, then laid him easily back. The delusions of fever had the sweet and foolish impossibility of fairy-stories: Aurora, as if it were the most natural thing in the world, placing upon his stiff and lacerated breast balsamic bandages of assuaging and benefi cent warmth!

The night was full of torrid heat and fiery light, in which everything looked unnatural, shifting, uncertain, but daylight, when it finally came, was of a crude coldness; under it everything returned to be itself, meager and stationary, and he knew that it was no phantasmagorical Aurora making preparations to wash his face.

He spoke no word to signify either pleasure or displeasure. He let it be, like a destiny too strong to withstand. With this acceptance there took place in him,

body and spirit, a relaxing, as when supporting arms are felt by one who had been fearing a fall.

BEFORE going for her rest, Aurora always waited to see the doctor, who made an early visit. After they had reissued together from the sick-room, he was interviewed by her with the help of an interpreter, Clotilde, who was in and out of the house during all that period, making herself useful. Estelle instead came only for a moment daily, having a case of her own to nurse, who was down, poor crumb, with those measles-mumps-whoopingcough of puppyhood, distemper.

On the day when Doctor Batoni had. agreed that with prudence there would be nothing more to fear, the patient might be considered as having entered convalescence, Aurora covered him with a wide. and warming smile.

"Je suis son bonne amie," she translated the explanation of her unconcealed. happiness, "I'm a good friend of his," nodding at the old man with the full sweetness of her dimples, blushing a little, too, with the pride of addressing him directly in French.

That morning Aurora was so happy she could not hurry; humming an old psalm tune she dawdled about her room, the longer to enjoy her thoughts.

When she finally slept it was more deeply than usual, and she woke with a start of fear that it was past the time. The line of sky showing between the curtains retained no remembrance of the day. It must be late, certainly. Then she heard a faint stirring just outside her door, the thing probably which had drawn her out of a sound sleep. It was the rustle of some person listening at the crack.

She bounced from her bed and went to open. It was as she expected, Giovannal come, she supposed, to see if she was ready to go on duty. At Giovanna's first words, though she did not entirely understand them, she became uneasy, because Giovanna interspersed them with sighs. Her voice sounded as if she might have been crying.

Aurora had grown accustomed to the fact that those hard old eyes of Giovanna's took easily to tears, and that she sighed by the thousand the moment she was in anxiety over her signorino. She knew she must not take Giovanna's fears at her own valuation. She gathered from her comedy now, combined with her talk, that Gerald, so quiet until to-day, had become restless. Aurora, though not permitting herself to be alarmed, hurried with her dressing.

"Ain't it always so," she questioned her own image in the glass, "that the moment you feel safe something goes wrong?"

When she tiptoed into the big dim room where Gerald lay, she could not at first make out what it was that had troubled Giovanna to the point of tears. He seemed quiet enough. After she had taken his pulse and temperature, her heart subsided with a blessed relief.

He could not tell her, because he did not himself know, that just because he was better he, paradoxically, was worse. Thoughts and responsibilities had begun. to trouble him again.

"Should you mind very much," he asked suddenly, "if I worked off my nervousness by singing? I have kept still, not to worry you, exactly as long as I can."

"Certainly," she said, "go ahead. I never knew you were a singer. What are you going to sing?"

"The queerest rigmarole you ever heard!" Aurora called what followed, a chanted Italian spelling-exercise for little beginners. It might have been funny to hear him, only it was disquieting, he did. it so earnestly and so obstinately kept it


When he had finished, Aurora held a sedative powder all nicely wrapped in a wet wafer ready for him. He knew what it was and gratefully gulped it, composing himself after it to wait in patience and self-control for its operation. Aurora, reposing on the magic of drugs like a witch on the power of incantations, watched for the drooping of his eyelids. and relaxing of his frown.

He had lain still for so long that she

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