“Ah, yes—Hiram King. I know him.”
The seemingly mere friendly interest of the doctor aroused in Carl no suspicion that he was the direct object of his visit, and that the conversation really constituted a diagnosis of his case.
After a short silence, Dr. Marmion incidentally, seemingly, asked: “You have no financial difficulties have you?”
“No, doctor,” was the prompt reply. “Bishop Albertson allows me a very generous salary, and I have few demands.”
“You have never been in the habit of dissipating, I am sure?”
“No, indeed; this is no place for dissipation, and before coming here, I was in school, where such a practice would have been impossible. I am as regular in my habits as when a boy in my father’s house in England.”
“Oh! Ah! You are an Englishman. From what part of England are you?”
“The north of England,” was the short reply.
“Mr. Edwards, excuse me, but have you any great trouble upon your heart? That sometimes causes trouble, an actual physical disturbance, you know.”
The young man, who up to this time had evinced no particular interest in the conversation, now hesitated, so much so, in fact, that the doctor repeated his question, adding: “There is but little prospect of helping the body, if there is a secret enemy affecting the heart and mind. This will always create trouble in the digestive organs.”
To these words Carl replied somewhat nervously: “I suppose that, like most young men, I have regrets concerning my earlier life. There are some things that I am sorry for having done, and other duties that I have neglected, for which delinquencies I am sorry.”
So entirely informal had been the discussion that Carl still did not suspect that he had been under examination. And the sagacious doctor having gained some information, quite as much, indeed, as he had expected in the first interview, abstained from pushing the matter for the present, and adroitly changed the subject; but while he continued to converse easily with the young man, he felt assured that he was on the right track. And when, later, he was telling the bishop about it, he declared that he felt sure it was a disturbed mind and uneasy conscience, more than any particular functional disorder, that was robbing the young man of his vitality. But after two days had passed, and he had taken advantage of every opportunity, he concluded that he would take the midnight boat for New York, his mission having been fruitless.