“Thank you,” said Macomer, with his unpleasant smile. “I think I will go and lie down now, for I feel tired.”
He turned from her, and made a few steps towards the door. He did not walk like a man tired, for he held himself as erect as ever, with his head thrown back, and his narrow shoulders high and square. Nevertheless, Matilde was anxious.
“You do not feel ill, do you?” she asked, before he had reached the door.
He stopped, half turning back.
“No—oh, no! I do not feel ill. Pray do not be anxious, my dear. I will take a little aconite for my heart, and then I will lie down for an hour or two.”
“I did not know that you had been converted to homoeopathy,” said Matilde, indifferently. “But, of course, if it does you good, take the aconite, by all means.”
“I do not take it in homoeopathic doses,” answered Gregorio. “It is the tincture, and I sometimes take as much as thirty or forty drops of it in water. Of course, that would be too much for a person not used to taking it. But it is a very good medicine. Indeed, I should advise you to take it, too, if you ever have any trouble with your heart.”
“How does it affect one?” asked Matilde, turning her face from him, and speaking indifferently.
“It lowers the action of the heart. Of course, one has to be careful. I suppose that one or two hundred drops would stop the heart altogether, but a little of it is excellent for palpitations. Do you suffer from them? Should you like some? I have a large supply, for I always use it. I can give you a small bottle, if you like.”
“No,” answered Matilde, still looking away from him, towards the photographs on the mantelpiece. “I am afraid of those things. They get into the system, as arsenic does, and mercury, and such things.”
“Not at all,” said Macomer. “You are quite mistaken. That is the peculiarity of those vegetable—those strong vegetable medicines. They are quite untraceable in the system, and altogether defy chemistry.”
Matilde was silent a moment.
“Well,” she answered, with an air of indifference, “I have a tendency to a little palpitation of the heart, and if you will give me a bottle of your medicine, I will try it once. It can do no harm, I suppose.”
“Not in small quantities. I will bring it to you by and by.”
He went out, and a moment later she heard his dreadful laugh outside. In an instant she reached the door, opened it, and called after him:—
“Gregorio! Do not laugh!”
But he was gone, and there was no one in the passage.