“Stay, sister; it is not a matter to be debated so. If to-morrow I can hear you, it will be time enough to upbraid me. Pray return now to your sister; she needs all you can do for her. She is much to be pitied; her sufferings afflict me. I shall see you and her again before my death. It would have been more cruel to leave her unprepared. Do all in your power to nerve and tranquillise her. What is past cannot now be helped.”
He paused, looking hard at her, as if he had half made up his mind to say something more. But if there was a question of the kind, it was determined in favour of silence.
He dropped her hand, turned quickly, and left her.
Dr. Torvey’s Opinion
When Lady Walsingham reached the head of the stairs, she met her maid, and from her learned that her sister, Lady Mardykes, was downstairs in the same room. On approaching, she heard her sister Mary’s voice talking with her, and found them together. Mary, finding that she could not sleep, had put on her clothes again, and come down to keep her sister company. The room looked more comfortable now. There were candles lighted, and a good fire burnt in the grate; tea-things stood on a little table near the fire, and the two sisters were talking, Lady Mardykes appearing more collected, and only they two in the room.
“Have you seen him, Maud?” cried Lady Mardykes, rising and hastily approaching her the moment she entered.
“Yes, dear; and talked with him, and——”
“And I think very much as I did before. I think he is nervous, he says he is not ill; but he is nervous and whimsical, and as men always are when they happen to be out of sorts, very positive; and of course the only thing that can quite undeceive him is the lapse of the time he has fixed for his prediction, as it is sure to pass without any tragic result of any sort. We shall then all see alike the nature of his delusion.”
“O, Maud, if I were only sure you thought so! if I were sure you really had hopes! Tell me, Maud, for God’s sake, what you really think.”
Lady Walsingham was a little disconcerted by the unexpected directness of her appeal.
“Come, darling, you must not be foolish,” she said; “we can only talk of impressions, and we are imposed upon by the solemnity of his manner, and the fact that he evidently believes in his own delusion; every one does believe in his own delusion—there is nothing strange in that.”
“O, Maud, I see you are not convinced; you are only trying to comfort me. You have no hope—none, none, none!” and she covered her face with her hands, and wept again convulsively.
Lady Walsingham was silent for a moment, and then with an effort said, as she placed her hand on her sister’s arm, “You see, dear Janet, there is no use in my saying the same thing over and over again; an hour or two will show who is right. Sit down again, and be like yourself. My maid told me that you had sent to the parlour for Doctor Torvey; he must not find you so. What would he think? Unless you mean to tell him of Bale’s strange fancy; and a pretty story that would be to set afloat in Golden Friars. I think I hear him coming.”