“Good night, sir.”
ANOTHER WOUND IN A NEW PLACE
Each day found Doctor Keene’s strength increasing, and on the morning following the incidents last recorded he was imprudently projecting an outdoor promenade. An announcement from Honore Grandissime, who had paid an early call, had, to that gentleman’s no small surprise, produced a sudden and violent effect on the little man’s temper.
He was sitting alone by his window, looking out upon the levee, when the apothecary entered the apartment.
“Frowenfeld,” he instantly began, with evident displeasure most unaccountable to Joseph, “I hear you have been visiting the Nancanous.”
“Yes, I have been there.”
“Well, you had no business to go!”
Doctor Keene smote the arm of his chair with his fist.
Frowenfeld reddened with indignation, but suppressed his retort. He stood still in the middle of the floor, and Doctor Keene looked out of the window.
“Doctor Keene,” said the visitor, when his attitude was no longer tolerable, “have you anything more to say to me before I leave you?”
“It is necessary for me, then, to say that in fulfilment of my promise, I am going from here to the house of Palmyre, and that she will need no further attention after to-day. As to your present manner toward me, I shall endeavor to suspend judgment until I have some knowledge of its cause.”
The doctor made no reply, but went on looking out of the window, and Frowenfeld turned and left him.
As he arrived in the philosophe’s sick-chamber—where he found her sitting in a chair set well back from a small fire—she half-whispered “Miche” with a fine, greeting smile, as if to a brother after a week’s absence. To a person forced to lie abed, shut away from occupation and events, a day is ten, three are a month: not merely in the wear and tear upon the patience, but also in the amount of thinking and recollecting done. It was to be expected, then, that on this, the apothecary’s fourth visit, Palmyre would have learned to take pleasure in his coming.
But the smile was followed by a faint, momentary frown, as if Frowenfeld had hardly returned it in kind. Likely enough, he had not. He was not distinctively a man of smiles; and as he engaged in his appointed task she presently thought of this.
“This wound is doing so well,” said Joseph, still engaged with the bandages, “that I shall not need to come again.” He was not looking at her as he spoke, but he felt her give a sudden start. “What is this?” he thought, but presently said very quietly: “With the assistance of your slave woman, you can now attend to it yourself.”
She made no answer.
When, with a bow, he would have bade her good morning, she held out her hand for his. After a barely perceptible hesitation, he gave it, whereupon she held it fast, in a way to indicate that there was something to be said which he must stay and hear.