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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesFound Yet Lost - Chapter XII. "YOU MUST REMEMBER"
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Found Yet Lost - Chapter XII. 'YOU MUST REMEMBER' Post by :01ronco Category :Long Stories Author :Edward Payson Roe Date :April 2012 Read :1641

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Found Yet Lost - Chapter XII. "YOU MUST REMEMBER"


Mr. And Mrs. Nichol wonderingly yet promptly complied with the request for their presence, meantime casting about in their minds as to the identity of the relative who had summoned them so unexpected. Mr. Kemble arrived at the hotel at about the same moment as they did, and Jackson was instructed to keep the carriage in waiting. "It was I who sent for you and your wife," said the banker. "Mr. Martine, if possible, would have given you cause for a great joy only; but I fear it must be tempered with an anxiety which I trust will not be long continued;" and he led the way into the parlor.

"Is it--can it be about Albert?" asked Mrs. Nichols trembling, and sinking into a chair.

"Yes, Mrs. Nichol. Try to keep your fortitude, for perhaps his welfare depends upon it."

"Oh, God be praised! The hope of this never wholly left me, because they didn't find his body."

Dr. Barnes came down at once, and with Mr. Kemble tried to soothe the strong emotions of the parents, while at the same time enlightening them as to their son's discovery and condition.

"Well," said Mr. Nichol, in strong emphasis; "Hobart Martine is one of a million."

"I think he ought to have brought Albert right to me first," Mrs. Nichol added, shaking her head and wiping her eyes. "After all, a mother's claim--"

"My dear Mrs. Nichol," interrupted Dr. Barnes, "there was no thought of undervaluing your claim on the part of our friend Hobart. He has taken what he believed, and what physicians led him to believe, was the best course to restore your son. Besides, Mr. Martine is a very sick man. Even now he needs my attention more than Captain Nichol. You must realize that he was to have married Miss Kemble to-day; yet he brings back your son, sends for Mr. Kemble in order that his daughter, as soon as she can realize the strange truth, may exert her power. He himself has not seen the girl who was to have been his bride."

"Wife, wife," said Mr. Nichol, brokingly, "no mortal man could do more for us than Hobart Martine, God bless him!"

"Mrs. Nichol," began Mr. Kemble, "my wife and Helen both unite in the request that you and your husband bring your son at once to our house; perhaps you would rather meet him in the privacy--"

"Oh, no, no!" she cried, "I cannot wait. Please do not think I am insensible to all this well-meant kindness; but a mother's heart cannot wait. He'll know ME--me who bore him and carried him on my breast."

"Mrs. Nichol, you shall see him at once," said the doctor. "I hope it will be as you say; but I'm compelled to tell you that you may be disappointed. There's no certainty that this trouble will pass away at once under any one's influence. You and your husband come with me. Mr. Kemble, I will send Jackson down, and so secure the privacy which you would kindly provide. I will be present, for I may be needed."

He led the way, the mother following with the impetuosity and abandon of maternal love, and the father with stronger and stranger emotions than he had ever known, but restrained in a manner natural to a quiet, reticent man. They were about to greet one on whom they had once centred their chief hopes and affection, yet long mourned as dead. It is hard to imagine the wild tumult of their feelings. Not merely by words, but chiefly by impulse, immediate action, could they reveal how profoundly they were moved.

With kindly intention, as he opened the door of the apartment, the doctor began, "Mr. Jackson, please leave us a few--"

Mrs. Nichol saw her son and rushed upon him, crying, "Albert, Albert!" It was enough at that moment that she recognized him; and the thought that he would not recognize her was banished. With an intuition of heart beyond all reasoning, she felt that he who had drawn his life from her must know her and respond to nature's first strong tie.

In surprise, Nichol had risen, then was embarrassed to find an elderly woman sobbing on his breast and addressing him in broken, endearing words by a name utterly unfamiliar. He looked wonderingly at his father, who stood near, trembling and regarding him through tear-dimmed eyes with an affectionate interest, impressive even to his limited perceptions.

"Doctor," he began over his mother's head, "what in thunder does all this here mean? Me 'n' Jackson was chinnin' comf't'bly, when sud'n you uns let loose on me two crazy old parties I never seed ner yeared on. Never had folks go on so 'bout me befo'. Beats even that Hob't Ma'tine," and he showed signs of rising irritation.

"Albert, Albert!" almost shrieked Mrs. Nichol, "don't you know me--ME, your own mother?"


At the half-indignant, incredulous tone, yet more than all at the strange accent and form of this negative, the poor woman was almost beside herself. "Merciful God!" she cried, "this cannot be;" and she sank into a chair, sobbing almost hysterically.

For reasons of his own, Dr. Barnes did not interfere. Nature in powerful manifestations was actuating the parents; and he decided, now that things had gone so far, to let the entire energy of uncurbed emotion, combined with all the mysterious affinity of the closest kinship, exert its influence on the clogged brain of his patient.

For a few moments Mrs. Nichol was too greatly overcome to comprehend anything clearly; her husband, on the other hand, was simply wrought up to his highest capacity for action. His old instinct of authority returned, and he seized his son's hand and began, "Now, see here, Albert, you were wounded in your head--"

"Yes, right yere," interrupted Nichol, pointing to his scar. "I knows all 'bout that, but I don't like these goin's on, ez ef I wuz a nachel-bawn fool, en had ter bleve all folks sez. I've been taken in too often. When I wuz with the Johnnies they'd say ter me, 'Yankee Blank, see that ar critter? That's a elephant.' When I'd call it a elephant, they'd larf an' larf till I flattened out one feller's nose. I dunno nothin' 'bout elephants; but the critter they pinted at wuz a cow. Then one day they set me ter scrubbin' a nigger to mek 'im white, en all sech doin's, till the head-doctor stopped the hull blamed nonsense. S'pose I be a cur'ous chap. I ain't a nachel-bawn ijit. When folks begin ter go on, en do en say things I kyant see through, then I stands off en sez, 'Lemme 'lone.' The hospital doctors wouldn't 'low any foolin' with me 't all."

"I'm not allowing any fooling with you," said Dr. Barnes, firmly. "I wish you to listen to that man and woman, and believe all they say. The hospital doctors would give you the same orders."

"All right, then," assented Nichol, with a sort of grimace of resignation. "Fire away, old man, an' git through with yer yarn so Jackson kin come back. I wish this woman wouldn't take on so. Hit makes me orful oncomf't'ble, doggoned ef hit don't."

The rapid and peculiar utterance, the seemingly unfeeling words of his son, stung the father into an ecstasy of grief akin to anger. A man stood before him, as clearly recognized as his own image in a mirror. The captain was not out of his mind in any familiar sense of the word; he remembered distinctly what had happened for months past. He must recall, he must be MADE to recollect the vital truths of his life on which not only his happiness but that of others depended. Although totally ignorant of what the wisest can explain but vaguely, Mr. Nichol was bent on restoring his son by the sheer force of will, making him remember by telling him what he should and must recall. This he tried to do with strong, eager insistence. "Why, Albert," he urged, "I'm your father; and that's your mother."

Nichol shook his head and looked at the doctor, who added gravely, "That's all true."

"Yes," resumed Mr. Nichol, with an energy and earnestness of utterance which compelled attention. "Now listen to reason. As I was saying, you were wounded in the head, and you have forgotten what happened before you were hurt. But you must remember, you must, indeed, or you will break your mother's heart and mine, too."

"But I tell yer, I kyant reckerlect a thing befo' I kinder waked up in the hospital, en the Johnnies call me Yankee Blank. I jes' wish folks would lemme alone on that pint. Hit allus bothers me en makes me mad. How kin I reckerlect when I kyant?" and he began to show signs of strong vexation.

Dr. Barnes was about to interfere when Mrs. Nichol, who had grown calmer, rose, took her son's hand, and said brokenly: "Albert, look me in the face, your mother's face, and try, TRY with all your heart and soul and mind. Don't you remember ME?"

It was evident that her son did try. His brow wrinkled in the perplexed effort, and he looked at her fixedly for a moment or more; but no magnetic current from his mother's hand, no suggestion of the dear features which had bent over him in childhood and turned toward him in love and pride through subsequent years found anything in his arrested consciousness answering to her appeal.

The effort and its failure only irritated him, and he broke out: "Now look yere, I be as I be. What's the use of all these goin's on? Doctor, if you sez these folks are my father and mother, so be it. I'm learning somethin' new all the time. This ain't no mo' quar, I s'pose, than some other things. I've got to mind a doctor, for I've learned that much ef I hain't nuthin' else, but I want you uns to know that I won't stan' no mo' foolin'. Doctors don't fool me, en they've got the po'r ter mek a feller do ez they sez, but other folks is got ter be keerful how they uses me."

Mrs. Nichol again sank into her chair and wept bitterly; her husband at last remained silent in a sort of inward, impotent rage of grief. There was their son, alive and in physical health, yet between him and them was a viewless barrier which they could not break through.

The strange complications, the sad thwartings of hope which must result unless he was restored, began to loom already in the future.

Dr. Barnes now came forward and said: "Captain Nichol, you are as you are at this moment, but you must know that you are not what you were once. We are trying to restore you to your old self. You'd be a great deal better off if we succeed. You must help us all you can. You must be patient, and try all the time to recollect. You know I am not deceiving you, but seeking to help you. You don't like this. That doesn't matter. Didn't you see doctors do many things in hospitals which the patients didn't like?"

"I reckon," replied Nichol, growing reasonable at once when brought on familiar ground.

"Well, you are my patient. I may have to do some disagreeable things, but they won't hurt you. It won't be like taking off an arm or a leg. You have seen that done, I suppose?"

"You bet!" was the eager, proud reply. "I used to hold the fellows when they squirmed."

"Now hold yourself. Be patient and good-natured. While we are about it, I want to make every appeal possible to your lost memory, and I order you to keep on trying to remember till I say: 'Through for the present.' If we succeed, you'll thank me all the days of your life. Anyhow, you must do as I say."

"Oh, I know that."

"Well, then, your name is Captain Nichol. This is Mr. Nichol, your father; this lady is your mother. Call them father and mother when you speak to them. Always speak kindly and pleasantly. They'll take you to a pleasant home when I'm through with you, and you must mind them. They'll be good to you everyway."

Nichol grinned acquiescence and said: "All right, Doctor."

"Now you show your good sense. We'll have you sound and happy yet." The doctor thought a moment and then asked: "Mr. Nichol, I suppose that after our visit to Mr. Kemble, you and your wife would prefer to take your son home with you?"

"Certainly," was the prompt response.

"I would advise you to do so. After our next effort, however it results, we all will need rest and time for thought. Captain, remain here a few moments with your father and mother. Listen good-naturedly and answer pleasantly to whatever they may say to you. I will be back soon."

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