The squire rang and sent for the ice the doctor demanded.
“Do you think he will live?” he asked nervously.
“I don’t know,” answered Doctor Longstreet, frankly. “Nobody can tell. He is very much exhausted—may live two or three days in this state and then die or go to sleep and get well—may die in the morning—often do—cannot say. With a great deal of care, I think he has a chance.”
“I am very anxious to save him,” said the squire, looking hard at the physician.
“Very good of you, I am sure,” replied Doctor Longstreet, cheerfully. “It is not everybody who would take so much trouble for a tramp. Of course if he dies people will say your dog killed him; but I will sign a paper to the effect that it is not true. If he had left you and your dog alone, he would have been dead in the morning to an absolute certainty.”
“How very extraordinary!” exclaimed the squire, suddenly realising that instead of causing the man’s death Stamboul had perhaps saved his life.
“It was certainly very odd that he should have chosen the best moment for assaulting you,” continued the doctor. “It is quite possible that even then he was under some delusion—took you for somebody else—some old enemy. People do queer things in a brain fever. By the bye has he said anything intelligible since he has been here?”
John Short who had been standing silently by the bedside during the whole interview looked up quickly at the squire, wondering how he would answer. But Mr. Juxon did not hesitate.
“Yes. Twice he repeated a woman’s name. That is very natural, I suppose. Do you think he will have any lucid moments for some time?”
“May,” said the doctor, “may. When he does it is likely to be at the turning point; he will either die or be better very soon after. If it comes soon he may say something intelligible. If he is much more exhausted than he is now, he will understand you, but you will not understand him. Meningitis always brings a partial paralysis of the tongue, when the patient is exhausted. Most probably he will go on moaning and mumbling, as he does now, for another day. You will be able to tell by his eye whether he understands anything; perhaps he will make some sign with his head or hand. Ah—here is the ice.”
Doctor Longstreet went about his operations in a rapid and business like fashion and John gave what assistance he could. The squire stood leaning against the chimney-piece in deep thought.
Indeed he had enough to think of, when he had fully weighed the meaning of the doctor’s words. He was surprised beyond measure at the turn things had taken; for although, as he had previously told John, he suspected that Goddard must have been in a fever for several hours before the assault, it had not struck him that Stamboul’s attack had been absolutely harmless, still less that it might prove to have been the means of saving the convict’s