A Reckless Character eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 235 pages of information about A Reckless Character.
shriek had rung out from my mother’s room he had seen a strange man run hastily across the flower-plots of the garden to the street gate. (We lived in a one-story house, whose windows looked out upon a fairly large garden.) The gardener had not been able to get a good look at the man’s face; but the latter was gaunt, and wore a straw hat and a long-skirted coat....  “The baron’s costume!” immediately flashed into my head.—­The gardener had been unable to overtake him; moreover, he had been summoned, without delay, to the house and despatched for the doctor.

I went to my mother’s room; she was lying in bed, whiter than the pillow on which her head rested....  At sight of me she smiled faintly, and put out her hand to me.  I sat down by her side, and began to question her; at first she persistently parried my questions; but at last she confessed that she had seen something which had frightened her greatly.

“Did some one enter here?” I asked.

“No,” she answered hastily, “no one entered, but it seemed to me ...  I thought I saw ... a vision....”

She ceased speaking and covered her eyes with her hand.  I was on the point of communicating to her what I had heard from the gardener—­and my meeting with the baron also, by the way ... but, for some reason or other, the words died on my lips.

Nevertheless I did bring myself to remark to my mother that visions do not manifest themselves in the daylight....

“Stop,” she whispered, “please stop; do not torture me now.  Some day thou shalt know....”  Again she relapsed into silence.  Her hands were cold, and her pulse beat fast and unevenly.  I gave her a dose of her medicine and stepped a little to one side, in order not to disturb her.

She did not rise all day.  She lay motionless and quiet, only sighing deeply from time to time, and opening her eyes in a timorous fashion.—­Every one in the house was perplexed.

VIII

Toward night a slight fever made its appearance, and my mother sent me away.  I did not go to my own chamber, however, but lay down in the adjoining room on the divan.  Every quarter of an hour I rose, approached the door on tiptoe, and listened....  Everything remained silent—­but my mother hardly slept at all that night.  When I went into her room early in the morning her face appeared to me to be swollen, and her eyes were shining with an unnatural brilliancy.  In the course of the day she became a little easier, but toward evening the fever increased again.

Up to that time she had maintained an obstinate silence, but now she suddenly began to talk in a hurried, spasmodic voice.  She was not delirious, there was sense in her words, but there was no coherency in them.  Not long before midnight she raised herself up in bed with a convulsive movement (I was sitting beside her), and with the same hurried voice she began to narrate to me, continually drinking water in gulps from a glass, feebly flourishing her hands, and not once looking at me the while....  At times she paused, exerted an effort over herself, and went on again....  All this was strange, as though she were doing it in her sleep, as though she herself were not present, but as though some other person were speaking with her lips, or making her speak.

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A Reckless Character from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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