Of all the people among whom she moved, Adele Dubois least exercised the grace of patience toward her.
On the return of Mr. Dubois and his daughter to the house, after having seen the horses safely stowed away, he refreshed himself at the tea-table and left the room to attend to necessary business. Mrs. Dubois and Mrs. McNab went to fit up an apartment for the stranger.
In the mean time Mr. Norton and Adele were left with the invalid.
Mr. Brown’s face had lost its pallid hue and was now overspread with the fiery glow of fever. He grew more and more restless in his sleep, until at length he opened his eyes wide and began to talk deliriously. At the first sound of his voice, Adele started from her seat, expecting to hear some request from his lips.
Gazing at her wildly for a moment, he exclaimed, “What, you here, Agnes! you, travelling in this horrible wilderness! Where’s your husband? Where’s John, the brave boy? Don’t bring them here to taunt me. Go away! Don’t look at me!”
With an expression of terror on his countenance, he sank back upon the pillow and closed his eyes. Mr. Norton knelt down by the couch and made slow, soothing motions with his hand upon the hot and fevered head, until the sick man sank again into slumber. Seeing this, Adele, who had been standing in mute bewilderment, came softly near and whispered, “He has been doing something wrong, has he not, sir?”
“I hope not”, said the good man, “He is not himself now, and is not aware what he is saying. His fever causes his mind to wander”.
“Yes, sir. But I think he is unhappy beside being sick. That sigh was so sorrowful!”
“It was sad enough”, said Mr. Norton. After a pause, he continued, “I will stay by his bed and take care of him to-night”.
“Ah! will you, sir?” said Adele. “That is kind, but Aunt Patty, I know, will insist on taking charge of him. She thinks it her right to take care of all the sick people. But I don’t wish her to stay with this gentleman to-night. If he talks again as he did just now, she will tell it all over the neighborhood”.
At that moment, the door opened, and Mrs. McNab came waddling in, followed by Mr. and Mrs. Dubois.
“Now, Mr. Doobyce”, said she, “if you and this pusson will just carry the patient up stairs, and place him on the bed, that’s a’ ye need do. I’ll tak’ care o’ him”.
“Permit me the privilege of watching by the gentleman’s bed to-night”, said Mr. Norton, turning to Mr. Dubois.
“By no means, sir”, said his host; “you have had a long ride through the forest to-day and must be tired. Aunt Patty here prefers to take charge of him”.
“Sir”, said Mr. Norton, “I observed awhile ago, that his mind was quite wandering. He is greatly excited by fever, but I succeeded in quieting him once and perhaps may be able to do so again”.
Here Mrs. McNab interposed in tones somewhat loud and irate.