A Reckless Character eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 235 pages of information about A Reckless Character.

On the following morning my mother regained her composure at last ... the fever passed off ... she fell asleep.  Committing her to the care of our landlord and landlady and the servants, I set out on my quest.

XI

First of all, as a matter of course, I betook myself to the coffee-house where I had met the baron; but in the coffee-house no one knew him or had even noticed him; he was a chance visitor.  The proprietors had noticed the negro—­his figure had been too striking to escape notice; but who he was, where he stayed, no one knew either.  Leaving my address, in case of an emergency, at the coffee-house, I began to walk about the streets and the water-front of the town, the wharves, the boulevards; I looked into all the public institutions, and nowhere did I find any one who resembled either the baron or his companion....  As I had not caught the baron’s name, I was deprived of the possibility of appealing to the police; but I privately gave two or three guardians of public order to understand (they gazed at me in surprise, it is true, and did not entirely believe me) that I would lavishly reward their zeal if they should be successful in coming upon the traces of those two individuals, whose personal appearance I tried to describe as minutely as possible.

Having strolled about in this manner until dinner-time, I returned home thoroughly worn out.  My mother had got out of bed; but with her habitual melancholy there was mingled a new element, a sort of pensive perplexity, which cut me to the heart like a knife.  I sat with her all the evening.  We said hardly anything; she laid out her game of patience, I silently looked at her cards.  She did not refer by a single word to her story, or to what had happened the day before.  It was as though we had both entered into a compact not to touch upon those strange and terrifying occurrences....  She appeared to be vexed with herself and ashamed of what had involuntarily burst from her; but perhaps she did not remember very clearly what she had said in her semi-fevered delirium, and hoped that I would spare her....  And, in fact, I did spare her, and she was conscious of it; as on the preceding day she avoided meeting my eyes.

A frightful storm had suddenly sprung up out of doors.  The wind howled and tore in wild gusts, the window-panes rattled and quivered; despairing shrieks and groans were borne through the air, as though something on high had broken loose and were flying with mad weeping over the shaking houses.  Just before dawn I lost myself in a doze ... when suddenly it seemed to me as though some one had entered my room and called me, had uttered my name, not in a loud, but in a decided voice.  I raised my head and saw no one; but, strange to relate!  I not only was not frightened—­I was delighted; there suddenly arose within me the conviction that now I should, without fail, attain my end.  I hastily dressed myself and left the house.

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A Reckless Character from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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