“He seemed very kind and very calm,” she said at last; “he said but little; and, I think, these were his words: ’I find, Janet, I have made a great miscalculation—I thought my hour of danger had passed. We have been many years together, but a parting must sooner or later be, and my time has come.’
“I don’t know what I said. I would not have so much minded—for I could not have believed, if I had not seen him—but there was that in his look and tone which no one could doubt.
“‘I shall die before to-morrow morning,’ he said. ’You must command yourself, Janet; it can’t be altered now.’
“‘O, Bale,’ I cried nearly distracted, ‘you would not kill yourself!’
“‘Kill myself! poor child! no, indeed,’ he said; ’it is simply that I shall die. No violent death—nothing but the common subsidence of life—I have made up my mind; what happens to everybody can’t be so very bad; and millions of worse men than I die every year. You must not follow me to my room, darling; I shall see you by and by.’
“His language was collected and even cold; but his face looked as if it was cut in stone; you never saw, in a dream, a face like it.”
Lady Walsingham here said, “I am certain he is ill; he’s in a fever. You must not distract and torture yourself about his predictions. You sent for Doctor Torvey; what did he say?”
“I could not tell him all.”
“O, no; I don’t mean that; they’d only say he was mad, and we little better for minding what he says. But did the Doctor see him? and what did he say of his health?”
“Yes; he says there is nothing wrong—no fever—nothing whatever. Poor Bale has been so kind; he saw him to please me,” she sobbed again wildly. “I wrote to implore of him. It was my last hope, strange as it seems; and O, would to God I could think it! But there is nothing of that kind. Wait till you have seen him. There is a frightful calmness about all he says and does; and his directions are all so clear, and his mind so perfectly collected, it is quite impossible.”
And poor Lady Mardykes again burst into a frantic agony of tears.
Sir Bale in the Gallery
“Now, Janet darling, you are yourself low and nervous, and you treat this fancy of Bale’s as seriously as he does himself. The truth is, he is a hypochondriac, as the doctors say; and you will find that I am right; he will be quite well in the morning, and I daresay a little ashamed of himself for having frightened his poor little wife as he has. I will sit up with you. But our poor Mary is not, you know, very strong; and she ought to lie down and rest a little. Suppose you give me a cup of tea in the drawing-room. I will run up to my room and get these things off, and meet you in the drawing-room; or, if you like it better, you can sit with me in my own room; and for goodness’ sake let us have candles enough and a bright fire; and I promise you, if you will only exert your own good sense, you shall be a great deal more cheerful in a very little time.”