My position was too terrible. My overwrought nerves yielded at last. I felt my head whirling around, while streams of icy water seemed to be running down my legs. Then I fell down at Tom Temple’s feet.
For some time after that I remembered nothing distinctly. I have some idea of stumbling along, with Tom on one side of me and Voltaire on the other, but no word was spoken until we came to Temple Hall. Then I heard Tom say—
“He’s better now. You go into the drawing-room as if nothing had happened, and I’ll take him quietly up-stairs to bed.”
I entered the silent house like one in a dream, and went with Tom to my bedroom, where I undressed like a weary child, and soon sunk into a deep dreamless sleep.
A MIDNIGHT CONFERENCE
Some one was knocking at the door.
I sprang out of bed and let him in. He looked very grave, very worried. Instantly everything flashed through my mind in relation to our terrible meeting of the night before.
“It’s nine o’clock, Justin.”
“Yes, Tom, I suppose it must be,” I said confusedly; “but I have only just awoke.”
“I thought I must come; I want to talk with you.”
“Thank you, Tom; I am glad you have come.”
“How are you this morning? Is your mind clear?”
“I must have some conversation with you about last night. Everything is confusion. I can explain nothing.”
“Neither can I.”
He looked at me keenly and sighed. “Were you with Kaffar last night after he had so abominably insulted you and left the house?”
“I do not know.”
“Do you know where he is now?”
“No idea whatever?”
“Not the slightest.”
“Justin, my friend, this looks very strange. Everything is terribly black, terribly suspicious.”
I tried to tell him all I knew; tried to tell him of my mad passion, and the scenes through which I seemed to go; but I could not. My mind refused to think, my tongue refused to speak, when that was the subject.
“I suppose Voltaire has told every one the circumstances of last night?” I said at length.
“No one that will divulge anything. Every one else thinks that Kaffar has gone back to Egypt, as he said, and especially so as Voltaire has been making arrangements for his luggage to be sent to Cairo.”
“This is astounding. I do not comprehend in the least; but, tell me, who is this some one to whom you or he has related last night’s affair, and why was it done?”
“I do not know whether I ought to tell or no, but you are an old friend, and I cannot refuse. After I had come down from here last night, and fancying that every one had retired, for it was quite midnight, I, knowing I was too excited to sleep, made my way to the library. I had just reached the door when I heard voices. I wondered who could be up at that time of the night, but was not left to remain long in doubt.”