She understood him very well by this time and took no notice, but went on chatting gaily, and made his tea as he liked it; and he dried his tears hastily, thinking she had not observed.
So the clouds began to clear. This innocent fellow liked nothing better than a cup of tea and a chat with gentle and cheery old Mrs. Julaper, and a talk in which the shadowy old times which he remembered as a child emerged into sunlight and lived again.
When he began to feel better, drawn into the kindly old times by the tinkle of that harmless old woman’s tongue, he said:
“I sometimes think I would not so much mind—I should not care so much—if my spirits were not so depressed, and I so agitated. I suppose I am not quite well.”
“Well, tell me what’s wrong, child, and it’s odd but I have a recipe on the shelf there that will do you good.”
“It is not a matter of that sort I mean; though I’d rather have you than any doctor, if I needed medicine, to prescribe for me.”
Mrs. Julaper smiled in spite of herself, well pleased; for her skill in pharmacy was a point on which the good lady prided herself, and was open to flattery, which, without intending it, the simple fellow administered.
“No, I’m well enough; I can’t say I ever was better. It is only, ma’am, that I have such dreams—you have no idea.”
“There are dreams and dreams, my dear: there’s some signifies no more than the babble of the lake down there on the pebbles, and there’s others that has a meaning; there’s dreams that is but vanity, and there’s dreams that is good, and dreams that is bad. Lady Mardykes—heavens be her bed this day! that’s his grandmother I mean—was very sharp for reading dreams. Take another cup of tea. Dear me! what a noise the crows keep aboon our heads, going home! and how high they wing it!—that’s a sure sign of fine weather. An’ what do you dream about? Tell me your dream, and I may show you it’s a good one, after all. For many a dream is ugly to see and ugly to tell, and a good dream, with a happy meaning, for all that.”
“Well, Mrs. Julaper, dreams I’ve dreamed like other people, old and young; but this, ma’am, has taken a fast hold of me,” said Mr. Feltram dejectedly, leaning back in his chair and looking down with his hands in his pockets. “I think, Mrs. Julaper, it is getting into me. I think it’s like possession.”
“Possession, child! what do you mean?”
“I think there is something trying to influence me. Perhaps it is the way fellows go mad; but it won’t let me alone. I’ve seen it three times, think of that!”
“Well, dear, and what have ye seen?” she asked, with an uneasy cheerfulness, smiling, with eyes fixed steadily upon him; for the idea of a madman—even gentle Philip in that state—was not quieting.
“Do you remember the picture, full-length, that had no frame—the lady in the white-satin saque—she was beautiful, funeste,” he added, talking more to himself; and then more distinctly to Mrs. Julaper again——“in the white-satin saque; and with the little mob cap and blue ribbons to it, and a bouquet in her fingers; that was—that—you know who she was?”