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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Grandissimes - Chapter 31. Another Wound In A New Place
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The Grandissimes - Chapter 31. Another Wound In A New Place Post by :aeyates Category :Long Stories Author :George Washington Cable Date :May 2012 Read :1762

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The Grandissimes - Chapter 31. Another Wound In A New Place

CHAPTER XXXI. ANOTHER WOUND IN A NEW PLACE

Each day found Doctor Keene's strength increasing, and on the morning following the incidents last recorded he was imprudently projecting an outdoor promenade. An announcement from Honore Grandissime, who had paid an early call, had, to that gentleman's no small surprise, produced a sudden and violent effect on the little man's temper.

He was sitting alone by his window, looking out upon the levee, when the apothecary entered the apartment.

"Frowenfeld," he instantly began, with evident displeasure most unaccountable to Joseph, "I hear you have been visiting the Nancanous."

"Yes, I have been there."

"Well, you had no business to go!"

Doctor Keene smote the arm of his chair with his fist.

Frowenfeld reddened with indignation, but suppressed his retort. He stood still in the middle of the floor, and Doctor Keene looked out of the window.

"Doctor Keene," said the visitor, when his attitude was no longer tolerable, "have you anything more to say to me before I leave you?"

"No, sir."

"It is necessary for me, then, to say that in fulfilment of my promise, I am going from here to the house of Palmyre, and that she will need no further attention after to-day. As to your present manner toward me, I shall endeavor to suspend judgment until I have some knowledge of its cause."

The doctor made no reply, but went on looking out of the window, and Frowenfeld turned and left him.

As he arrived in the philosophe's sick-chamber--where he found her sitting in a chair set well back from a small fire--she half-whispered "Miche" with a fine, greeting smile, as if to a brother after a week's absence. To a person forced to lie abed, shut away from occupation and events, a day is ten, three are a month: not merely in the wear and tear upon the patience, but also in the amount of thinking and recollecting done. It was to be expected, then, that on this, the apothecary's fourth visit, Palmyre would have learned to take pleasure in his coming.

But the smile was followed by a faint, momentary frown, as if Frowenfeld had hardly returned it in kind. Likely enough, he had not. He was not distinctively a man of smiles; and as he engaged in his appointed task she presently thought of this.

"This wound is doing so well," said Joseph, still engaged with the bandages, "that I shall not need to come again." He was not looking at her as he spoke, but he felt her give a sudden start. "What is this?" he thought, but presently said very quietly: "With the assistance of your slave woman, you can now attend to it yourself."

She made no answer.

When, with a bow, he would have bade her good morning, she held out her hand for his. After a barely perceptible hesitation, he gave it, whereupon she held it fast, in a way to indicate that there was something to be said which he must stay and hear.

She looked up into his face. She may have been merely framing in her mind the word or two of English she was about to utter; but an excitement shone through her eyes and reddened her lips, and something sent out from her countenance a look of wild distress.

"You goin' tell 'im?" she asked.

"Who? Agricola?"

"_Non_!"

He spoke the next name more softly.

"Honore?"

Her eyes looked deeply into his for a moment, then dropped, and she made a sign of assent.

He was about to say that Honore knew already, but saw no necessity for doing so, and changed his answer.

"I will never tell any one."

"You know?" she asked, lifting her eyes for an instant. She meant to ask if he knew the motive that had prompted her murderous intent.

"I know your whole sad history."

She looked at him for a moment, fixedly; then, still holding his hand with one of hers, she threw the other to her face and turned away her head. He thought she moaned.

Thus she remained for a few moments, then suddenly she turned, clasped both hands about his, her face flamed up and she opened her lips to speak, but speech failed. An expression of pain and supplication came upon her countenance, and the cry burst from her:

"Meg 'im to love me!"

He tried to withdraw his hand, but she held it fast, and, looking up imploringly with her wide, electric eyes, cried:

"_Vous pouvez le faire, vous pouvez le faire (You can do it, you can do it); _vous etes sorcier, mo conne bien vous etes sorcier (you are a sorcerer, I know)."

However harmless or healthful Joseph's touch might be to the philosophe, he felt now that hers, to him, was poisonous. He dared encounter her eyes, her touch, her voice, no longer. The better man in him was suffocating. He scarce had power left to liberate his right hand with his left, to seize his hat and go.

Instantly she rose from her chair, threw herself on her knees in his path, and found command of his language sufficient to cry as she lifted her arms, bared of their drapery:

"Oh, my God! don' rif-used me--don' rif-used me!"

There was no time to know whether Frowenfeld wavered or not. The thought flashed into his mind that in all probability all the care and skill he had spent upon the wound was being brought to naught in this moment of wild posturing and excitement; but before it could have effect upon his movements, a stunning blow fell upon the back of his head, and Palmyre's slave woman, the Congo dwarf, under the impression that it was the most timely of strokes, stood brandishing a billet of pine and preparing to repeat the blow.

He hurled her, snarling and gnashing like an ape, against the farther wall, cast the bar from the street door and plunged out, hatless, bleeding and stunned.

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