|CHAPTER XXXIV - MY LORD'S MIND
|»Hier, Sie alter Vagabund, hier ist ein interessanter Fall für Sie, Vimpany, der Schmerzensschrei eines Leidenden mit einem kranken Geist. Ich komme mir vor wie ein Mann, der seines Verstandes beraubt ist. Zuerst wurde mir gemeldet, dass der Mörder Arthur Mountjoys in London gesehen worden; ich machte mich daran, seine Spur zu verfolgen; da wurde ich durch die Nachricht ereilt, zuerst, dass er krank sei, dann, dass er sich wieder erholt und endlich, dass er verschwunden; das sind die Schläge, welche mich ganz meines Verstandes beraubt haben. Zum zweitenmal ist der Frevler meiner Rache entschlüpft; er wird jetzt ruhig in seinem Bett sterben und dann mitten unter schuldlosen Toten auf einem stillen Friedhof begraben werden. Ich kann nicht darüber hinauskommen!
|ERE, my old-vagabond-Vimpany, is an interesting case for you--the cry of a patient with a sick mind. Look over it, and prescribe for your wild Irish friend, if you can. You will perhaps remember that I have never thoroughly trusted you, in all the years since we have known each other. At this later date in our lives, when I ought to see more clearly than ever what an unfathomable man you are, am I rash enough to be capable of taking you into my confidence? I don't know what I am going to do; I feel like a man who has been stunned. To be told that the murderer of Arthur Mountjoy had been seen in London--to be prepared to trace him by his paltry assumed name of Carrigeen--to wait vainly for the next discovery which might bring him within reach of retribution at my hands--and then to be overwhelmed by the news of his illness, his recovery, and his disappearance: these are the blows which have stupefied me. Only think of it! He has escaped me for the second time. Fever that kills thousands of harmless creatures has spared the assassin. He may yet die in his bed, and be buried, with the guiltless dead around him, in a quiet churchyard. I can't get over it; I shall never get over it.
|»Fügen Sie hinzu die Besorgnisse um meine Frau und die Briefe von Gläubigern, die mich ganz wahnsinnig machen, und Sie werden nicht erwarten, dass ich vernünftig schreibe.
|Add to this, anxieties about my wife, and maddening letters from creditors--and don't expect me to write reasonably.
|»Was ich zu wissen wünsche, ist, ob Ihre Kunst, oder wie Sie es sonst nennen wollen, zu meinem kranken Geist durch meinen gesunden Körper gelangen kann. Sie haben mir mehr als einmal gesagt, dass Ärzte das vermögen. Die Zeit ist gekommen, es zu beweisen. Mein einziger Freund und Doktor, erretten Sie mich vor mir selber!
|What I want to know is whether your art (or whatever you call it) can get at my diseased mind, through my healthy body. You have more than once told me that medicine can do this. The time has come for doing it. I am in a bad way, and a bad end may follow. My only medical friend, deliver me from myself.
|»Auf jeden Fall bitte ich Sie, das Folgende mit aller Ruhe zu lesen.
|In any case, let me beg you to keep your temper while you read what follows.
|»Ich muss Ihnen gestehen, dass der Teufel, dessen Name Eifersucht ist, über mich Gewalt bekommen hat und nun die Ruhe meines ehelichen Lebens bedroht. Sie lieben Iris nicht, ich weiß es, und sie erwidert Ihre feindlichen Gefühle. Versuchen Sie trotzdem, meiner Frau Gerechtigkeit widerfahren zu lassen, wie ich es tue. Ich glaube nicht, dass mein Misstrauen gegen Iris irgendwelche Entschuldigung hat, und dennoch bin ich eifersüchtig. Und was noch viel unvernünftiger ist, ich bin noch ebenso verliebt in sie, wie ich es in den ersten Tagen der Flitterwochen war. Liebt sie mich nun auch noch so wie früher?
|I have to confess that the devil whose name is Jealousy has entered into me, and is threatening the tranquillity of my married life. You dislike Iris, I know--and she returns your hostile feeling towards her. Try to do my wife justice, nevertheless, as I do. I don't believe my distrust of her has any excuse--and yet, I am jealous. More unreasonable still, I am as fond of her as I was in the first days of the honeymoon. Is she as fond as ever of me? You were a married man when I was a boy. Let me give you the means of forming an opinion by a narrative of her conduct, under (what I admit to have been) very trying circumstances.
|»Als Iris die erste Nachricht von Hughs ernstlicher Erkrankung erhielt, saßen wir gerade beim Früh-stück. Sie traf sie schwer; sie übergab mir den Brief stillschweigend und verließ den Tisch.
|When the first information reached Iris of Hugh Mountjoy's dangerous illness, we were at breakfast. It struck her dumb. She handed the letter to me, and left the table.
|»Ich hasse einen Mann, der nicht weiß, was es heißt, Geld nötig zu haben; ich hasse einen Mann, der immer seinen Gleichmut bewahrt; ich hasse einen Mann, der behauptet, der Freund meiner Frau zu sein, und der sie von jeher heimlich liebt. Was würde es für mich für ein Unterschied sein, ob Hugh Mountjoy stirbt oder am Leben bleibt? - Wenn ich irgendein Interesse an der Sache hätte, so müsste ich notwendigerweise, da ich sehe, dass ich eifersüchtig bin, seinen Tod wünschen. Nun gut! Ich erkläre mit aller Bestimmtheit, dass die beunruhigenden Nachrichten aus London mein Frühstück gestört haben; es ist so eine Sache mit dem Freunde meiner Frau, mit diesem schmucken, glücklichen, wohlgesitteten Engländer; es scheint etwas für ihn zu sprechen, Gott weiß wie - wenn ich noch wenig zu seinen Gunsten gestimmt bin. Während ich den Bericht von seiner Krankheit las, lebte in mir - meinem Hasse zum Trotz - die Hoffnung, dass er wieder genesen werde.
|I hate a man who doesn't know what it is to want money; I hate a man who keeps his temper; I hate a man who pretends to be my wife's friend, and who is secretly in love with her all the time. What difference did it make to me whether Hugh Mountjoy ended in living or dying? If I had any interest in the matter, it ought by rights (seeing that I am jealous of him) to be an interest in his death. Well! I declare positively that the alarming news from London spoilt my breakfast There is something about that friend of my wife--that smug, prosperous, well-behaved Englishman--which seems to plead for him (God knows how!) when my mind is least inclined in his favour. While I was reading about his illness, I found myself hoping that he would recover--and, I give you my sacred word of honour, I hated him all the time. My Irish friend is mad--you will say. Your Irish friend, my dear follow, does not dispute it.
|»Lassen Sie uns zu meiner Frau zurückkehren. Nach langer Abwesenheit erschien sie wieder und konnte endlich etwas mit ihrem Mann sprechen.
|Let us get back to my wife. She showed herself again after a long absence, having something (at last) to say to her husband.
|»,Ich bin die unschuldige Ursache', begann sie, ,dass Hugh Mountjoy dies furchtbare Unglück befallen hat. Wenn ich ihm nicht einen Auftrag an Mrs. Vimpany gegeben hätte, so würde er niemals darauf bestanden haben, sie zu sprechen, und würde niemals sich das Fieber geholt haben. Es wird mir helfen, meine Selbstvorwürfe und meine Angst zu tragen, wenn ich immer Nachrichten über sein Befinden erhalte; es liegt auch keine Gefahr der Ansteckung vor, wenn ich Briefe bekomme. Ich werde an eine Freundin von Mrs. Vimpany schreiben, die in einem andern Hause wohnt und die mir dann antworten wird. Lieber Harry, verbietest Du mir's, dass ich mir jeden Tag über das Befinden Hugh Mountjoys berichten lasse, so lange er in Gefahr ist?'
|"I am innocently to blame," she began, "for the dreadful misfortune that has fallen on Mr. Mountjoy. If I had not given him a message to Mrs. Vimpany, he would never have insisted on seeing her, and would never have caught the fever. It may help me to bear my misery of self-reproach and suspense, if I am kept informed of his illness. There is no fear of infection by my receiving letters. I am to write to a friend of Mrs. Vimpany, who lives in another house, and who will answer my inquiries. Do you object, dear Harry, to my getting news of Hugh Mountjoy every day, while he is in danger?"
|»Ich war vollständig mit diesem Briefwechsel einverstanden; sie hätte es selbst wissen sollen.
|I was perfectly willing that she should get that news, and she ought to have known it.
|»Es schien mir auch verdächtig zu sein, dass sie ihre Bitte mit tränenlosen Augen stellte. Sie musste geweint haben, als sie gehört hatte, dass er wahrscheinlich dem Fieberanfall erliegen würde. Warum verbarg sie vor mir ihre Tränen und weinte nur, wenn sie sich allein auf ihrem Zimmer befand? Als sie zu mir zurückkam, war ihr Gesicht bleich, hart und tränenlos. Glauben Sie, dass sie meine Eifersucht ganz vergessen haben könnte, da ich mich ernstlich bemühte, sie nicht zu zeigen? Nach meiner festen Überzeugung war ihr sehnlichster Wunsch, nach London zu eilen und Ihre Frau in der Pflege des armen Mannes zu unterstützen, sich das Fieber zu holen und mit ihm zu sterben, wenn er sterben sollte.
|It seemed to me to be also a bad sign that she made her request with dry eyes. She must have cried, when she first heard that he was likely to sink under an attack of fever. Why were her tears kept hidden in her own room? When she came back to me, her face was pale and hard and tearless. Don't you think she might have forgotten my jealousy, when I was so careful myself not to show it? My own belief is that she was longing to go to London, and help your wife to nurse the poor man, and catch the fever, and die with him if he died.
|»Ist das bitter? - Vielleicht ist es so. Zerreißen Sie den Brief, und zünden Sie Ihre Pfeife damit an.
|Is this bitter? Perhaps it is. Tear it off, and light your pipe with it.
|»Also die Briefe, welche von dem Kranken handelten, kamen und gingen nun jeden Tag, und jeden Tag händigte Iris mir sie ein, damit ich sie lesen sollte. Ich lehnte es unter allen möglichen Ausflüchten ab, die ärztlichen Berichte zu lesen. Eines Morgens, als sie den Brief dieses Tages öffnete, ging mit ihr eine wunderbare Veränderung vor, die mir, so lange ich lebe, im Gedächtnis bleiben wird. Niemals vorher habe ich in den Augen einer Frau eine solche Verklärung gesehen, wie ich sie damals sah, als sie die wenigen Zeilen las, welche ihr meldeten, dass man des Fiebers Herr geworden. Iris ist süß, Iris ist lieb, Iris ist schön, mit einem Wort, Iris ist bezaubernd. Aber so schön war sie nie wie in dem Augenblick, da sie erfuhr, dass Mountjoys Leben gerettet war, und sie wird niemals wieder eine so schöne Frau sein, bis die Zeit kommt, wo mein Tod es ihr freistellt, ihn zu heiraten. An ihrem Hochzeitstag wird er die Veränderung sehen, welche ich jetzt wahrgenommen habe, und er wird davon ebenso geblendet sein, wie ich es war.
|Well, the correspondence relating to the sick man continued every day; and every day--oh, Vimpany, another concession to my jealousy!--she handed the letters to me to read. I made excuses (we Irish are good at that, if we are good at nothing else), and declined to read the medical reports. One morning, when she opened the letter of that day, there passed over her a change which is likely to remain in my memory as long as I live. Never have I seen such an ecstasy of happiness in any woman's face, as I saw when she read the lines which informed her that the fever was mastered. Iris is sweet and delicate and bright--essentially fascinating, in a word. But she was never a beautiful woman, until she knew that Mountjoy's life was safe; and she will never be a beautiful woman again, unless the time comes when my death leaves her free to marry him. On her wedding-day, he will see the transformation that I saw--and he will be dazzled as I was.
|»Sie sah mich an, als ob sie erwartete, ich sollte etwas sagen.
|She looked at me, as if she expected me to speak.
|»,Ich freue mich in der Tat', sagte ich, ,dass er sich außer Gefahr befindet.'
|"I am glad indeed," I said, "that he is out of danger."
|»Sie eilte auf mich zu und küsste mich; ich hatte nie geglaubt, dass sie so stürmisch küssen könnte. ,Jetzt, da Du an meiner Freude teilnimmst', rief sie aus, ,ist mein Glück vollkommen!' Glauben Sie, dass ich wegen dieser Küsse mir selber ober jenem andern Mann verpflichtet bin? - Nein, nein, das ist ein unwürdiger Verdacht. Ich verwerfe ihn. Niedriger Argwohn soll diesmal Iris nicht unrecht tun.
|She ran to me--she kissed me; I wouldn't have believed it was in her to give such kisses. "Now I have your sympathy," she said, "my happiness is complete!" Do you think I was indebted for these kisses to myself or to that other man? No, no--here is an unworthy doubt. I discard it. Vile suspicion shall not wrong Iris this time.
|»Und doch... die Entfremdung zwischen Iris und mir nimmt von Tag zu Tage zu. Lassen Sie mich auf etwas anderes übergehen. Das neue Journal wird, wie ich mit Vergnügen Ihnen mitteile, allgemein bewundert. Als ich mich aber nach meinem Gewinnanteil erkundigte, sagte man mir, die Ausgaben seien sehr große, und ich müsse daher warten, bis die Verbreitung sich noch steigere. Wie lange? - Niemand weiß es.
|And yet---- Shall I go on, and write the rest of it? Poor, dear Arthur Mountjoy once told me of a foreign author, who was in great doubt of the right answer to some tough question that troubled him. He went into his garden and threw a stone at a tree. If he hit the tree, the answer would be--Yes. If he missed the tree, the answer would be--No. I am going into the garden to imitate the foreign author. You shall hear how it ends. I have hit the tree. As a necessary consequence, I must go on and write the rest of it. There is a growing estrangement between Iris and myself--and my jealousy doesn't altogether account for it. Sometimes, it occurs to me that we are thinking of what our future relations with Mountjoy are likely to be, and are ashamed to confess it to each other. Sometimes--and perhaps this second, and easiest, guess may be the right one--I am apt to conclude that we are only anxious about money matters. I am waiting for her to touch on the subject, and she is waiting for me; and there we are at a deadlock. I wish I had some reason for going to some other place. I wish I was lost among strangers. I should like to find myself in a state of danger, meeting the risks that I used to run in my vagabond days. Now I think of it, I might enjoy this last excitement by going back to England, and giving the Invincibles a chance of shooting me as a traitor to the cause. But my wife would object to that. Suppose we change the subject. You will be glad to hear that you knew something of law, as well as of medicine. I sent instructions to my solicitor in London to raise a loan on my life-insurance. What you said to me turns out to be right. I can't raise a farthing, for three years to come, out of all the thousands of pounds which I shall leave behind me when I die. Are my prospects from the newspaper likely to cheer me after such a disappointment as this? The new journal, I have the pleasure of informing you, is much admired. When I inquire for my profits, I hear that the expenses are heavy, and I am told that I must wait for a rise in our circulation. How long? Nobody knows, I shall keep these pages open for a few days more, on the chance of something happening which may alter my present position for the better. My position has altered for the worse. I have been obliged to fill my empty purse, for a little while, by means of a bit of stamped paper.
|»Wie soll ich nun meinen Verpflichtungen nachkommen, wenn der Wechsel fällig ist? - Zum Glück ist ja der schlimme Tag noch fern genug; einstweilen kann ich Ihnen, wenn Ihre literarische Spekulation keine besseren Ergebnisse erzielt als meine Zeitung, einige Pfund leihen, damit Sie leben können. Was sagen Sie zu dem Gedanken, in Ihr altes Quartier nach Passy zurückzukehren und mir mündlich anstatt schriftlich Ihren wertvollen Rat zu erteilen?
|And how shall I meet my liabilities when the note falls due? Let time answer the question; for the present the evil day is put off. In the meanwhile, if that literary speculation of yours is answering no better than my newspaper, I can lend you a few pounds to get on with. What do you say (on second thoughts) to coming back to your old quarters at Passy, and giving me your valuable advice by word of mouth instead of by letter?
|»Kommen Sie, fühlen Sie meinen Puls, sehen Sie sich meine Zunge an, und dann sagen Sie mir, wie ich den verschiedenen Verlegenheiten, in denen ich mich jetzt befinde, ein Ende machen kann, bevor einer von uns ein Jahr älter geworden. Werde ich wie Sie von meiner Frau getrennt werden? - Natürlich nur auf ihren Wunsch, gewiss nicht auf den meinigen.
|Come, and feel my pulse, and look at my tongue--and tell me how these various anxieties of mine are going to end, before we are any of us a year older. Shall I, like you, be separated from my wife--at her request; oh, not at mine!
|Oder werde ich in ein Gefängnis gesperrt werden? Und was wird aus Ihnen, Doktor?«
|Or shall I be locked up in prison? And what will become of You? Do you take the hint, doctor?
|CHAPTER XXXV - MY LADY'S MIND (fehlt auf deutsch)
|"ENTREAT Lady Harry not to write to me. She will be tempted to do so, when she hears that there is good hope of Mr. Mountjoy's recovery. But, even from that loving and generous heart, I must not accept expressions of gratitude which would only embarrass me. All that I have done, as a nurse, and all that I may yet hope to do, is no more than an effort to make amends for my past life. Iris has my heart's truest wishes for her happiness. Until I can myself write to her without danger, let this be enough."
|In those terms, dearest of women, your friend has sent your message to me. My love respects as well as admires you; your wishes are commands to me. At the same time, I may find some relief from the fears of the future that oppress me, if I can confide them to friendly ears. May I not harmlessly write to you, if I only write of my own poor self?
|Try, dear, to remember those pleasant days when you were staying with us, in our honeymoon time, at Paris.
|You warned me, one evening when we were alone, to be on my guard against any circumstances which might excite my husband's jealousy. Since then, the trouble that you foresaw has fallen on me; mainly, I am afraid, through my own want of self-control. It is so hard for a woman, when she really loves a man, to understand a state of mind which can make him doubt her.
|I have discovered that jealousy varies. Let me tell you what I mean.
|Lord Harry was silent and sullen (ah, how well I knew what that meant!) while the life of our poor Hugh was in jeopardy. When I read the good news which told me that he was no longer in danger, I don't know whether there was any change worth remarking in myself--but, there was a change in my husband, delightful to see. His face showed such sweet sympathy when he looked at me, he spoke so kindly and nicely of Hugh, that I could only express my pleasure by kissing him. You will hardly believe me, when I tell you that his hateful jealousy appeared again, at that moment. He looked surprised, he looked suspicious--he looked, I declare, as if he doubted whether I meant it with all my heart when I kissed him! What incomprehensible creatures men are! We read in novels of women who are able to manage their masters. I wish I knew how to manage mine.
|We have been getting into debt. For some weeks past, this sad state of things has been a burden on my mind. Day after day I have been expecting him to speak of our situation, and have found him obstinately silent. Is his mind entirely occupied with other things? Or is he unwilling to speak of our anxieties because the subject humiliates him? Yesterday, I could bear it no longer.
|"Our debts are increasing," I said. "Have you thought of any way of paying them?"
|I had feared that my question might irritate him. To my relief, he seemed to be diverted by it.
|"The payment of debts," he replied, "is a problem that I am too poor to solve. Perhaps I got near to it the other day."
|I asked how.
|"Well," he said, "I found myself wishing I had some rich friends. By-the-bye, how is your rich friend? What have you heard lately of Mr. Mountjoy?"
|"I have heard that he is steadily advancing towards recovery."
|"Likely, I dare say, to return to France when he feels equal to it," my husband remarked. "He is a good-natured creature. If he finds himself in Paris again, I wonder whether he will pay us another visit?"
|He said this quite seriously. On my side, I was too much as astonished to utter a word. My bewilderment seemed to amuse him. In his own pleasant way he explained himself:
|"I ought to have told you, my dear, that I was in Mr. Mountjoy's company the night before he returned to England. We had said some disagreeable things to each other here in the cottage, while you were away in your room. My tongue got the better of my judgment. In short, I spoke rudely to our guest. Thinking over it afterwards, I felt that I ought to make an apology. He received my sincere excuses with an amiability of manner, and a grace of language, which raised him greatly in my estimation."
|There you have Lord Harry's own words! Who would suppose that he had ever been jealous of the man whom he spoke of in this way?
|I explain it to myself, partly by the charm in Hugh's look and manner, which everybody feels; partly by the readiness with which my husband's variable nature receives new impressions. I hope you agree with me. In any case, pray let Hugh see what I have written to you in this place, and ask him what he thinks of it.*
|*Note by Mrs. Vimpany.--I shall certainly not be foolish enough to show what she has written to Mr. Mountjoy. Poor deluded Iris! Miserable fatal marriage!
|Encouraged, as you will easily understand, by the delightful prospect of a reconciliation between them, I was eager to take my first opportunity of speaking freely of Hugh. Up to that time, it had been a hard trial to keep to myself so much that was deeply interesting in my thoughts and hopes. But my hours of disappointment were not at an end yet. We were interrupted.
|A letter was brought to us--one of many, already received!--insisting on immediate payment of a debt that had been too long unsettled. The detestable subject of our poverty insisted on claiming attention when there was a messenger outside, waiting for my poor Harry's last French bank note.
|"What is to be done?" I said, when we were left by ourselves again.
|My husband's composure was something wonderful. He laughed and lit a cigar.
|"We have got to the crisis," he said. "The question of money has driven us into a corner at last. My darling, have you ever heard of such a thing as a promissory note?"
|I was not quite so ignorant as he supposed me to be; I said I had heard my father speak of promissory notes.
|This seemed to fail in convincing him. "Your father," he remarked, "used to pay his notes when they fell due."
|I betrayed my ignorance, after all. "Doesn't everybody do the same?" I asked.
|He burst out laughing. "We will send the maid to get a bit of stamped paper," he said; "I'll write the message for her, this time."
|Those last words alluded to Fanny's ignorance of the French language, which made it necessary to provide her with written instructions, when she was sent on an errand. In our domestic affairs, I was able to do this; but, in the present case, I only handed the message to her. When she returned with a slip of stamped paper, Harry called to me to come to the writing-table.
|"Now, my sweet," he said, "see how easily money is to be got with a scratch of the pen."
|I looked, over his shoulder. In less than a minute it was done; and he had produced ten thousand francs on paper--in English money (as he told me), four hundred pounds. This seemed to be a large loan; I asked how he proposed to pay it back. He kindly reminded me that he was a newspaper proprietor, and, as such, possessed of the means of inspiring confidence in persons with money to spare. They could afford, it seems, to give him three months in which to arrange for repayment. In that time, as he thought, the profits of the new journal might come pouring in. He knew best, of course.
|We took the next train to Paris, and turned our bit of paper into notes and gold. Never was there such a delightful companion as my husband, when he has got money in his pocket. After so much sorrow and anxiety, for weeks past, that memorable afternoon was like a glimpse of Paradise.
|On the next morning, there was an end to my short-lived enjoyment of no more than the latter half of a day.
|Watching her opportunity, Fanny Mere came to me while I was alone, carrying a thick letter in her hand. She held it before me with the address uppermost.
|"Please to look at that," she said.
|The letter was directed (in Harry's handwriting) to Mr. Vimpany, at a publishing office in London. Fanny next turned the envelope the other way.
|"Look at this side," she resumed.
|The envelope was specially protected by a seal; bearing a device of my husband's own invention; that is to say, the initials of his name (Harry Norland) surmounted by a star--his lucky star, as he paid me the compliment of calling it, on the day when he married me. I was thinking of that day now. Fanny saw me looking, with a sad heart, at the impression on the wax. She completely misinterpreted the direction taken by my thoughts.
|"Tell me to do it, my lady," she proceeded; "and I'll open the letter."
|I looked at her. She showed no confusion. "I can seal it up again," she coolly explained, "with a bit of fresh wax and my thimble. Perhaps Mr. Vimpany won't be sober enough to notice it."
|"Do you know, Fanny, that you are making a dishonourable proposal to me?" I said.
|"I know there's nothing I can do to help you that I won't do," she answered; "and you know why. I have made a dishonourable proposal--have I? That comes quite naturally to a lost woman like me. Shall I tell you what Honour means? It means sticking at nothing, in your service. Please tell me to open the letter."
|"How did you come by the letter, Fanny?"
|"My master gave it to me to put in the post."
|"Then, post it."
|The strange creature, so full of contraries--so sensitive at one time, so impenetrable at another--pointed again to the address.
|"When the master writes to that man," she went on--"a long letter (if you will notice), and a sealed letter--your ladyship ought to see what is inside it. I haven't a doubt myself that there's writing under this seal which bodes trouble to you. The spare bedroom is empty. Do you want to have the doctor for your visitor again? Don't tell me to post the letter, till I've opened it first."
|"I do tell you to post the letter."
|Fanny submitted, so far. But she had a new form of persuasion to try, before her reserves of resistance were exhausted. "If the doctor comes back," she continued, "will your ladyship give me leave to go out, whenever I ask for it?"
|This was surely presuming on my indulgence. "Are you not expecting a little too much?" I suggested--not unkindly.
|"If you say that, my lady," she answered, "I shall be obliged to ask you to suit yourself with another maid."
|There was a tone of dictation in this, which I found beyond endurance. In my anger, I said: "Leave me whenever you like."
|"I shall leave you when I'm dead--not before," was the reply that I received. "But if you won't let me have my liberty without going away from you, for a time, I must go--for your sake."
|(For my sake! Pray observe that.)
|She went on:
|"Try to see it, my lady, as I do! If we have the doctor with us again, I must be able to watch him."
|"Because he is your enemy, as I believe."
|"How can he hurt me, Fanny?"
|"Through your husband, my lady, if he can do it in no other way. Mr. Vimpany shall have a spy at his heels. Dishonourable! oh, dishonourable again! Never mind. I don't pretend to know what that villain means to do, if he and my lord get together again. But this I can tell you, if it's in woman's wit to circumvent him, here I am with my mind made up. With my mind, made up!" she repeated fiercely--and recovered on a sudden her customary character as a quiet well-trained servant, devoted to her duties. "I'll take my master's letter to the post now," she said. "Is there anything your ladyship wants in the town?"
|What do you think of Fanny Mere? Ought I to have treated this last offer of her services, as I treated her proposal to open the letter? I was not able to do it.
|The truth is, I was so touched by her devotion to me, that I could not prevail on myself to mortify her by a refusal. I believe there may be a good reason for the distrust of the doctor which possesses her so strongly; and I feel the importance of having this faithful and determined woman for an ally. Let me hope that Mr. Vimpany's return (if it is to take place) may be delayed until you can safely write, with your own hand, such a letter of wise advice as I sadly need.
|In the meantime, give my love to Hugh, and say to this dear friend all that I might have said for myself, if I had been near him. But take care that his recovery is not retarded by anxiety for me. Pray keep him in ignorance of the doubts and fears with which I am now looking at the future. If I was not so fond of my husband, I should be easier in my mind. This sounds contradictory, but I believe you will understand it. For a while, my dear, good-bye.
|CHAPTER XXXVI - THE DOCTOR MEANS MISCHIEF (fehlt auf deutsch)
|ON the day after Lord Harry's description of the state of his mind reached London, a gentleman presented himself at the publishing office of Messrs. Boldside Brothers, and asked for the senior partner, Mr. Peter Boldside. When he sent in his card, it bore the name of "Mr. Vimpany."
"To what fortunate circumstance am I indebted, sir, for the honour of your visit?" the senior partner inquired. His ingratiating manners, his genial smile, his roundly resonant voice, were personal advantages of which he made a merciless use. The literary customer who entered the office, hesitating before the question of publishing a work at his own expense, generally decided to pay the penalty when he encountered Mr. Peter Boldside.
|"I want to inquire about the sale of my work," Mr. Vimpany replied.
|"Ah, doctor, you have come to the wrong man. You must go to my brother."
|Mr. Vimpany protested. "You mentioned the terms when I first applied to you," he said, "and you signed the agreement."
|"That is in my department," the senior partner gently explained. "And I shall write the cheque when, as we both hope, your large profits shall fall due. But our sales of works are in the department of my brother, Mr. Paul Boldside." He rang a bell; a clerk appeared, and received his instructions: "Mr. Paul. Good-morning, doctor."
|Mr. Paul was, personally speaking, his brother repeated--without the deep voice, and without the genial smile. Conducted to the office of the junior partner, Mr. Vimpany found himself in the presence of a stranger, occupied in turning over the pages of a newspaper. When his name was announced, the publisher started, and handed his newspaper to the doctor.
|"This is a coincidence," he said. "I was looking, sir, for your name in the pages which I have just put into your hand. Surely the editor can't have refused to publish your letter?"
|Mr. Vimpany was sober, and therefore sad, and therefore (again) not to be trifled with by a mystifying reception. "I don't understand you," he answered gruffly. "What do you mean?"
|"Is it possible that you have not seen last week's number of the paper?" Mr. Paul asked. "And you a literary man!" He forthwith produced the last week's number, and opened it at the right place. "Read that, sir," he said, with something in his manner which looked like virtuous indignation.
|Mr. Vimpany found himself confronted by a letter addressed to the editor. It was signed by an eminent physician, whose portrait had appeared in the first serial part of the new work--accompanied by a brief memoir of his life, which purported to be written by himself. Not one line of the autobiography (this celebrated person declared) had proceeded from his pen. Mr. Vimpany had impudently published an imaginary memoir, full of false reports and scandalous inventions--and this after he had been referred to a trustworthy source for the necessary particulars. Stating these facts, the indignant physician cautioned readers to beware of purchasing a work which, so far as he was concerned, was nothing less than a fraud on the public.
|"If you can answer that letter, sir," Mr. Paul Boldside resumed, "the better it will be, I can tell you, for the sale of your publication."
|Mr. Vimpany made a reckless reply: "I want to knew how the thing sells. Never mind the letter."
|"Never mind the letter?" the junior partner repeated. "A positive charge of fraud is advanced by a man at the head of his profession against a work which we have published--and you say, Never mind the letter."
|The rough customer of the Boldsides struck his fist on the table. "Bother the letter! I insist on knowing what the sale is."
|Still preserving his dignity, Mr. Paul (like Mr. Peter) rang for the clerk, and briefly gave an order. "Mr. Vimpany's account," he said--and proceeded to admonish Mr. Vimpany himself.
|"You appear, sir, to have no defence of your conduct to offer. Our firm has a reputation to preserve. When I have consulted with my brother, we shall be under the disagreeable necessity--"
|Here (as he afterwards told his brother) the publisher was brutally interrupted by the author:
|"If you will have it," said this rude man, "here it is in two words. The doctor's portrait is the likeness of an ass. As he couldn't do it himself, I wanted materials for writing his life. He referred me to the year of his birth, the year of his marriage, the year of this, that, and the other. Who cares about dates? The public likes to be tickled by personal statements. Very well--I tickled the public. There you have it in a nutshell."
|The clerk appeared at that auspicious moment, with the author's account neatly exhibited under two sides: a Debtor side, which represented the expenditure of Hugh Mountjoy's money; and a Creditor side, which represented (so far) Mr. Vimpany's profits. Amount of these last: 3l. 14s. 10d.
|Mr. Vimpany tore up the account, threw the pieces in the face of Mr. Paul, and expressed his sentiments in one opprobrious word: "Swindlers!"
|The publisher said: "You shall hear of us, sir, through our lawyer."
|And the author answered: "Go to the devil!"
|Once out in the streets again, the first open door at which Mr. Vimpany stopped was the door of a tavern. He ordered a glass of brandy and water, and a cigar.
|It was then the hour of the afternoon, between the time of luncheon and the time of dinner, when the business of a tavern is generally in a state of suspense. The dining-room was empty when Mr. Vimpany entered it: and the waiter's unoccupied attention was in want of an object. Having nothing else to notice, he looked at the person who had just come in. The deluded stranger was drinking fiery potato-brandy, and smoking (at the foreign price) an English cigar. Would his taste tell him the melancholy truth? No: it seemed to matter nothing to him what he was drinking or what he was smoking. Now he looked angry, and now he looked puzzled; and now he took a long letter from his pocket, and read it in places, and marked the places with a pencil. "Up to some mischief," was the waiter's interpretation of these signs. The stranger ordered a second glass of grog, and drank it in gulps, and fell into such deep thought that he let his cigar go out. Evidently, a man in search of an idea. And, to all appearance, he found what he wanted on a sudden. In a hurry he paid his reckoning, and left his small change and his unfinished cigar on the table, and was off before the waiter could say, "Thank you."
|The next place at which he stopped was a fine house in a spacious square. A carriage was waiting at the door. The servant who opened the door knew him.
|"Sir James is going out again, sir, in two minutes," the man said. Mr. Vimpany answered: "I won't keep him two minutes."
|A bell rang from the room on the ground floor; and a gentleman came out, as Mr. Vimpany was shown in. Sir James's stethoscope was still in his hand; his latest medical fee lay on the table. "Some other day, Vimpany," the great surgeon said; "I have no time to give you now."
|"Will you give me a minute?" the humble doctor asked.
|"Very well. What is it?"
|"I am down in the world now, Sir James, as you know--and I am trying to pick myself up again."
|"Very creditable, my good fellow. How can I help you? Come, come--out with it. You want something?"
|"I want your great name to do me a great service. I am going to France. A letter of introduction, from you, will open doors which might be closed to an unknown man like myself."
|"What doors do you mean?" Sir James asked.
|"The doors of the hospitals in Paris."
|"Wait a minute, Vimpany. Have you any particular object in view?"
|"A professional object, of course," the ready doctor answered. "I have got an idea for a new treatment of diseases of the lungs; and I want to see if the French have made any recent discoveries in that direction."
|Sir James took up his pen--and hesitated. His ill-starred medical colleague had been his fellow-student and his friend, in the days when they were both young men. They had seen but little of each other since they had gone their different ways--one of them, on the high road which leads to success, the other down the byways which end in failure. The famous surgeon felt a passing doubt of the use which his needy and vagabond inferior might make of his name. For a moment his pen was held suspended over the paper. But the man of great reputation was also a man of great heart. Old associations pleaded with him, and won their cause. His companion of former times left the house provided with a letter of introduction to the chief surgeon at the Hôtel Dieu, in Paris.
|Mr. Vimpany's next, and last, proceeding for that day, was to stop at a telegraph-office, and to communicate economically with Lord Harry in three words:
|"Expect me to-morrow."