By the time the professor had scrambled out of the wagon and got around to the scene of action, he found the mysterious white figure—his own daughter—kneeling in the road beside a prostrate something he knew must be Bressant.
“Father, is he dead?” she asked, in a broken, horror-stricken voice.
The old gentleman was too much concerned to reply. Had this been a narrower nature he might have been aggrieved at Cornelia’s ignoring his own late deadly peril in her anxiety for the young man. But he would have done her wrong; her heart had stood still for him till she had seen his safety assured; then it had gone out in gratitude, admiration, and tender solicitude, for the man who had shown unfaltering and desperate determination in saving him.
Having backed Dolly—who was standing, quite subdued, with hanging head and heaving sides—away from the body, Professor Valeyon stooped down to make an examination. He had begun life as a surgeon, and was well skilled in the science. He cautiously unbuttoned the closely-fitting coat.
“Stop! let me alone! let me alone!—will you?” growled Bressant, speaking thickly and disjointedly, like one just recovering from a fainting-fit, but with unmistakable signs of ill-temper.
“Thank God! you’re alive, my boy,” said the professor, too much relieved to notice the tone. “Cornelia, my dear, run to the house, and get Michael and the wheelbarrow.—Any bones broken, do you think?” he continued, carefully pursuing his investigations the while.
“No, nothing! can’t you let me lie here alone?” was the sulky reply. But, as the other’s hand happened to press lightly in the vicinity of the chest, Bressant drew a quick, gasping breath, and could not control a spasm of pain.
“Don’t touch there—it’s where the shaft struck me,” said he, in a voice that was no more than a whisper, but as sullen as if he had been the victim of some unpardonable wrong. There was a trace of mortification in it, too, such as might have been caused by detection in a disgraceful act.
“Never saw any thing like this in him, before,” said the professor to himself. “Badly injured, too, I’m afraid: collar-bone broken, at any rate. Ah! there’s the wheelbarrow, and Neelie with some cushions. Now, Michael, take hold of him carefully, and help me lift him in.” But Bressant, as he felt the first touch, opened wide his half-closed eyes, and looked around savagely.