At that very moment, or even an incalculable instant before, the professor’s voice was heard calling loudly from without:
“Come—come! be quick! you’ll be too late!”
She rose and fled from the room; but it was too late, indeed.
After seeing Cornelia off, Professor Valeyon bethought himself of Abbie; she must be wondering what had become of her late boarder, and he resolved to stop at the house, and give her an account of the accident. He had got some distance beyond the boarding-house when the idea occurred to him. Just as he was about to head Dolly round in the opposite direction, he discerned a figure beyond, beneath an umbrella, which looked very much like the person he was seeking. He drove on, and in a few minutes overtook her.
“Going up to the Parsonage?” cried the old gentleman, getting gallantly down into the mud. “Here, jump up into-the wagon; I want to tell you about your—boarder.”
“He—there’s nothing the matter with him, of course?” said Abbie, with a short laugh. She was looking very pale, and as if she had not slept much of late. “No, don’t drive mo to the Parsonage; take me home, if you please, Professor Valeyon. Well, about Mr. Bressant?”
“Doing very well now; he was pretty seriously hurt.” And he went on to give a short account of what had happened, which Abbie did not interrupt by word or gesture; she sat with her head bent, and her lips working against each other.
“It’s quite certain he’ll recover?” she asked, when all was told.
“As certain,” quoth the professor, non-committally, “as any thing in surgery can be.”
“It wouldn’t be safe to move him, of course?”
“Not till he’s a good deal better; you see, the collar-bone—”
“Yes, I’ll take your word for it,” said Abbie, very pale. “Well, I’m glad he’s in such good hands. If I had him he wouldn’t be comfortable; I should be sure to do him more harm than good; it’s better as it is; much better.”
She spoke in an inward tone, looking vacantly out into the rain, and fumbling with the handle of her umbrella.
“But you’ll come up and see him once in a while, at the Parsonage?”
Abbie shook her head. “No, no, Professor Valeyon; why should I? Do you suppose he wants to see me? do you suppose he’s thought of me once since he went away? It would be a strange thing for an educated, intellectual, wealthy young man like him to do, wouldn’t it?” asked Abbie, with a smile.
The professor’s eyes met hers for a moment, and then she looked away. Presently she spoke again:
“I’d a great deal rather leave this world as I’ve lived in it, for the last twenty years and more, than run any risk of making a blunder. I don’t want things to change, Professor Valeyon; but if they do, it musn’t be through any act of mine, or yours either.”