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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Flight Of The Shadow - Chapter 19. John Is Taken Ill
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The Flight Of The Shadow - Chapter 19. John Is Taken Ill Post by :mohausa Category :Long Stories Author :George Macdonald Date :May 2012 Read :2643

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The Flight Of The Shadow - Chapter 19. John Is Taken Ill

CHAPTER XIX. JOHN IS TAKEN ILL

In the middle of the night he woke with a start, ill enough to feel that he was going to be worse. His head throbbed; the room seemed turning round with him, and when it settled, he saw strange shapes in it. A few rays of the sinking moon had got in between the curtains of one of the windows, and had waked up everything! The furniture looked odd--unpleasantly odd. Something unnatural, or at least unearthly, must be near him! The room was an old-fashioned one, in thorough keeping with the age of the house--the very haunt for a ghost, but he had heard of no ghost in that room! He got up to get himself some water, and drew the curtains aside. He could have been in no thraldom to an apprehensive imagination; for what man, with a brooding terror couched in him, would, in the middle of the night, let in the moon? To such a passion, she is worse than the deepest darkness, especially when going down, as she was then, with the weary look she gets by the time her work is about over, and she has long been forsaken of the poor mortals for whom she has so often to be up and shining all night. He poured himself some water and drank it, but thought it did not taste nice. Then he turned to the window, and looked out.

The house was in a large park. Its few trees served mainly to show how wide the unbroken spaces of grass. Before the house, motionless as a statue, stood a great gray horse with hanging neck, his shadow stretched in mighty grotesque behind him, and on his back the very effigy of my uncle, motionless too as marble. The horse stood sidewise to the house, but the face of his rider was turned toward it, as if scanning its windows in the dying glitter of the moon. John thought he heard a cry somewhere, and went to his door, but, listening hard, heard nothing. When he looked again from the window, the apparition seemed fainter, and farther away, though neither horse nor rider had changed posture. He rubbed his eyes to see more plainly, could no longer distinguish the appearance, and went back to bed. In the morning he was in a high fever--unconscious save of restless discomfort and undefined trouble.

He learned afterward from the housekeeper, that his mother herself nursed him, but he would take neither food nor medicine from her hand. No doctor was sent for. John thought, and I cannot but think, that the water in his bottle had to do with the sudden illness. His mother may have merely wished to prevent him from coming to me; but, for the time at least, the conviction had got possession of him, that she was attempting his life. He may have argued in semi conscious moments, that she would not scruple to take again what she was capable of imagining she had given. Her attentions, however, may have arisen from alarm at seeing him worse than she had intended to make him, and desire to counteract what she had done.

For several days he was prostrate with extreme exhaustion. Necessarily, I knew nothing of this; neither was I, notwithstanding my more than doubt of his mother, in any immediate dread of what she might do. The cessation of his visits could, of course, cause me no anxiety, seeing it was thoroughly understood between us that we were not at liberty to meet.

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