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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesWhat Will He Do With It - Book 11 - Chapter 5
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What Will He Do With It - Book 11 - Chapter 5 Post by :SwingWinger Category :Long Stories Author :Edward Bulwer-lytton Date :May 2012 Read :1116

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What Will He Do With It - Book 11 - Chapter 5

BOOK XI CHAPTER V

THE VAGABOND RECEIVED IN THE MANOR-HOUSE AT FAWLEY.

Very lamely, very feebly, declining Lionel's arm, and leaning heavily on his crutch-stick, Waife crossed the threshold of the Manor-house. George sprang forward to welcome him. The old man looked on the preacher's face with a kind of wandering uncertainty in his eye, and George saw that his cheek was very much flushed. He limped on through the hall, still leaning on his staff, George and Lionel at either side. A pace or two, and there stood Darrell! Did he, the host, not spring forward to offer an arm, to extend a hand? No; such greeting in Darrell would have been but vulgar courtesy. As the old man's eye rested on him, the superb gentleman bowed low--bowed as we bow to kings!

They entered the library. Darrell made a sign to George and Lionel. They understood the sign, and left visitor and host alone.

Lionel drew George into the quaint old dining-hall. "I am very uneasy about our dear friend," he said, in agitated accents. "I fear that I have had too little consideration for his years and his sensitive nature, and that, what with the excitement of the conversation that passed between us and the fatigue of the journey, his nerves have broken down. We were not half-way on the road, and as we had the railway-carriage to ourselves, I was talking to him with imprudent earnestness, when he began to tremble all over, and went into an hysterical paroxysm of mingled tears and laughter. I wished to stop at the next station, but he was not long recovering, and insisted on coming on. Still, as we approached Fawley, after muttering to himself, as far as I could catch his words, incoherently, he sank into a heavy state of lethargy or stupor, resting his head on my shoulder. It was with difficulty I roused him when he entered the park."

"Poor old man," said George feelingly; "no doubt the quick succession of emotions through which he has lately passed has overcome him for the time. But the worst is now passed. His interview with Darrell must cheer his heart and soothe his spirits; and that interview over, we must give him all repose and nursing. But tell me what passed between you--if he was very indignant that I could not suffer men like you and my uncle Alban and Guy Darrell to believe him a picklock and a thief."

Lionel began his narrative, but had not proceeded far in it before Darrell's voice was heard shouting loud, and the library bell rang violently.

They hurried into the library, and Lionel's fears were verified. Waife was in strong convulsions; and as these gradually ceased, and he rested without struggle, half on the floor, half in Darrell's arms, he was evidently unconscious of all around him. His eye was open, but fixed in a glassy stare. The servants thronged into the room; one was despatched instantly to summon the nearest medical practitioner. "Help me--George--Lionel," said Darrell, "to bear him up-stairs. Mills, light us." When they reached the landing-place, Mills asked, "Which room, sir?" Darrell hesitated an instant, then his grey eye lit into its dark fire. "My father's room--he shall rest on my father's bed."

When the surgeon arrived, he declared Waife to be in imminent danger--pressure on the brain. He prescribed prompt and vigorous remedies, which had indeed before the surgeon's arrival suggested themselves to, and been partly commenced by, Darrell, who had gone through too many varieties of experience to be unversed in the rudiments of leechcraft. "If I were in my guest's state," asked Darrell of the practitioner, "what would you do?"

"Telegraph instantly for Dr. F------."

"Lionel--you hear? Take my own horse--he will carry you like the wind. Off to --------; it is the nearest telegraph station."

Darrell did not stir from Waife's bedside all that anxious eight. Dr. F------ arrived at morning. He approved of all that had been done, but nevertheless altered the treatment; and after staying some hours, said to Darrell: "I am compelled to leave you for the present, nor could I be of use in staying. I have given all the aid in my power to Nature--we must leave the rest to Nature herself. That fever--those fierce throes and spasms--are but Nature's efforts to cast off the grasp of the enemy we do not see. It now depends on what degree of rallying power be left to the patient. Fortunately his frame is robust, yet not plethoric. Do you know his habits?"

"I know," answered George--"most temperate, most innocent."

"Then, with constant care, minute attention to my directions, he may recover."

"If care and attention can save my guest's life, he shall not die," said Darrell.

The physician looked at the speaker's pale face and compressed lips. "But, Mr. Darrell, I must not have you on my hands too. You must not be out of your bed again tonight."

"Certainly not," said George. "I shall watch alone."

"No," cried Lionel, "that is my post too."

"Pooh!" said Darrell; "young men so far from Death are not such watchful sentinels against his stroke as men of my years, who have seen him in all aspects; and, moreover, base indeed in the host who deserts his own guest's sick-chamber. Fear not for me, doctor; no man needs sleep less than I do."

Dr. F------ slid his hand on Darrell's pulse. "Irregular--quick; but what vitality! what power!--a young man's pulse. Mr. Darrell, many years for your country's service are yet in these lusty beats."

Darrell breathed his chronic sigh, and turning back to Waife's bedside, said to the doctor, "When will you come again?"

"The day after to-morrow."

When the doctor returned, Waife was out of immediate danger. Nature, fortified by the "temperate, innocent habits" which husband up her powers, had dislodged, at least for a time, her enemy; but the attack was followed by extreme debility. It was clear that for days, perhaps even weeks to come, the vagrant must remain a prisoner under Darrell's roof-tree.

Lionel had been too mindful of Sophy's anxiety to neglect writing to Lady Montfort the day after Waife's seizure. But he could not find the heart to state the old man's danger; and with the sanguine tendencies of his young nature, even when at the worst he clung to belief in the best. He refrained from any separate and private communication of Waife's state to Lady Montfort, lest the sadness it would not fail to occasion her should be perceptible to Sophy, and lead her to divine the cause. So he contented himself with saying that Waife had accompanied him to Mr. Darrell's, and would be detained there, treated with all kindness and honour, for some days.

Sophy's mind was relieved by this intelligence, but it filled her with wonder and conjecture. That Waife, who had so pertinaciously refused to break bread as a guest under any man's roof-tree, should be for days receiving the hospitality of Lionel Haughton's wealthy and powerful kinsman, was indeed mysterious. But whatever brought Waife and Lionel thus in confidential intercourse could not but renew yet more vividly the hopes she had been endeavouring of late to stifle. And combining together many desultory remembrances of words escaped unawares from Lionel, from Lady Montfort, from Waife himself, the truth (of which her native acuteness had before admitted glimpses) grew almost clear to her. Was not Mr. Darrell that relation to her lost mother upon whom she had claims not hitherto conceded? Lionel and Waife both with that relation now! Surely the clouds that had rested on her future were admitting the sun through their opening rents--and she blushed as she caught its ray.

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BOOK XI CHAPTER VIINDIVIDUAL CONCESSIONS ARE LIKE POLITICAL; WHEN YOU ONCE BEGIN, THERE IS NO SAYING WHERE YOU WILL STOP. Waife's first words on recovering consciousness were given to thoughts of Sophy. He had promised her to return, at farthest, the next day; she would be so uneasy he must get up--he must go at once. When he found his strength would not suffer him to rise, he shed tears. It was only very gradually and at intervals that he became acquainted with the length and severity of his attack, or fully sensible that he was in Darrell's house; that that
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BOOK XI CHAPTER IVGUY DARRELL'S VIEWS IN THE INVITATION TO WAIFE. Lionel had but inadequately represented, for he could but imperfectly comprehend, the profound impression made upon Guy Darrell by George Morley's disclosures. Himself so capable of self-sacrifice, Darrell was the man above all others to regard with an admiring reverence, which partook of awe, a self-immolation that seemed almost above humanity--to him who set so lofty an estimate on good name and fair repute. He had not only willingly permitted, but even urged Lionel to repair to Waife and persuade the old man to come to Fawley. With Waife he
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