But he said nothing more to bring a grave look into the eyes of his young nurse; and she, finding him so gentle and boyish, and withal manly and profound, chatted on with more confidence and freedom; and, being gifted with fineness and accuracy of observation, and a clear flow and order of language and ideas, made talking a delight and a profit.
There was nothing formal or didactic about Sophie, and her talk rippled forth as naturally and spontaneously as a brook trickles over its brown stones, or the over-hanging willows whisper in the wind. There was in it the unwearied and unweariable freshness of nature. And Sophie’s vein of humor was as fine and pungent as the aroma of a lemon: it touched her words now and then, and made their flavor all the more acceptable.
So Bressant gained his end at last, though he had yielded it; and this fact was not lost upon the trained keenness of his observation. After his nurse was gone, he lay with closed eyes, and a general sensation of comfort, until he fell asleep. Quiet dreams came to him, such as children have sometimes, but grown-up people seldom. Everywhere he seemed to follow a cool, white cloud. But where was Cornelia?
AN UNTIMELY REMINISCENCE.
In spite of nursing and a very strong constitution, Bressant’s recovery was slow. The fact was, his mind was restless and disturbed, and produced a fever in his blood. Large and powerful as he was, his physical was largely dependent on his mental well-being, as must always be the case with persons well organized throughout. He would never have been so muscular and healthy had his life not been an undisturbed and self-complacent one. These questions of the heart and emotions were not salutary to his body, however beneficial otherwise.
At the same time, no one is quite himself who is ill, and doubtless Bressant would have escaped many of his difficulties, and solved others with comparatively little trouble, if his faculties had not been untuned by illness. While he was more open to the influx of all these novel ideas and problems, he was less able to deal with and dispose of them. So the professor, while encouraged by the observation of his apparent progress in the direction of human feeling and emotional warmth, was concerned to find him falling off in recuperative power.
Sophie was largely to blame for it. Bressant was getting to depend too much upon her society. He brightened when she came in, and was gloomy when she went out. He liked to talk and argue with her; to dash waves of logic, impetuous but subtle, against the rock of her pure intuitions and steady consistency. He was careful not to go too far; though, indeed, she usually had the best of the encounter. Of course his knowledge and trained faculties far surpassed Sophie’s simple acquirements and modest learning; but she had a marvelous penetration in seeing a fallacy, even when she knew not how to expose it; and she mercilessly pricked many of the conceited bubbles of his understanding.