“Oh Charlie, I have just made it forever impossible!”
“Then help me back to my bed; I don’t care to die in the street.”
“That is all,” said the fairer Honore, outside Doctor Keene’s sick-room about ten o’clock at night. He was speaking to the black son of Clemence, who had been serving as errand-boy for some hours. He spoke in a low tone just without the half-open door, folding again a paper which the lad had lately borne to the apothecary of the rue Royale, and had now brought back with Joseph’s answer written under Honore’s inquiry.
“That is all,” said the other Honore, standing partly behind the first, as the eyes of his little menial turned upon him that deprecatory glance of inquiry so common to slave children. The lad went a little way down the corridor, curled up upon the floor against the wall, and was soon asleep. The fairer Honore handed the darker the slip of paper; it was received and returned in silence. The question was:
“Can you state anything positive concerning the duel?”
And the reply:
there will be none. Sylvestre my sworn friend
The half-brothers sat down under a dim hanging lamp in the corridor, and except that every now and then one or the other stepped noiselessly to the door to look in upon the sleeping sick man, or in the opposite direction to moderate by a push with the foot the snoring of Clemence’s “boy,” they sat the whole night through in whispered counsel.
The one, at the request of the other, explained how he had come to be with the little doctor in such extremity.
It seems that Clemence, seeing and understanding the doctor’s imprudence, had sallied out with the resolve to set some person on his track. We have said that she went in search of her master. Him she met, and though she could not really count him one of the doctor’s friends, yet, rightly believing in his humanity, she told him the matter. He set off in what was for him a quick pace in search of the rash invalid, was misdirected by a too confident child and had given up the hope of finding him, when a faint sound of distress just at hand drew him into an alley, where, close down against a wall, with his face to the earth, lay Doctor Keene. The f.m.c. had just raised him and borne him out of the alley when Honore came up.
“And you say that, when you would have inquired for him at Frowenfeld’s, you saw Palmyre there, standing and talking with Frowenfeld? Tell me more exactly.”
And the other, with that grave and gentle economy of words which made his speech so unique, recounted what we amplify: