“Yes, but how—”
“Now, please go at once!” I insisted grimly and coldly. “We can talk afterwards. Just do as you’re told.”
Cowed by the roughness of my tone, she rose and went. I heard her light, hesitating step pass through the hall, and so out of the house.
In a few minutes I had done all that could be done for Sir Cyril, as he lay there. The wound was deep, having regard to the small size of the dagger, and I could only partially stop the extravasation of blood, which was profuse. I doubted if he would recover. It was not long, however, before he regained his senses. He spoke, and I remember vividly now how pathetic to me was the wagging of his short gray beard as his jaw moved.
“Foster,” he said—“your name is Foster, isn’t it? Where did you find that dagger?”
“You must keep quiet,” I said. “I have sent for assistance.”
“Don’t be a fool, man. You know I’m done for. Tell me how you got the dagger.”
So I told him.
“Ah!” he murmured. “It’s my luck!” he sighed. Then in little detached sentences, with many pauses, he began to relate a history of what happened after Rosa and I had left him on the night of Sullivan’s reception. Much of it was incomprehensible to me; sometimes I could not make out the words. But it seemed that he had followed us in his carriage, had somehow met Rosa again, and then, in a sudden frenzy of remorse, had attempted to kill himself with the dagger in the street. His reason for this I did not gather. His coachman and footman had taken him home, and the affair had been kept quiet.
Remorse for what? I burned to ask a hundred questions, but, fearing to excite him, I shut my lips.
“You are in love with her?” he asked.
I nodded. It was a reply as abrupt as his demand. At that moment Deschamps laughed quietly behind me. I turned round quickly, but she lay still; though she had come to, the fire in her eyes was quenched, and I anticipated no immediate difficulty with her.
“I knew that night that you were in love with her,” Sir Cyril continued. “Has she told you about—about me?”
“No,” I said.
“I have done her a wrong, Foster—her and another. But she will tell you. I can’t talk now. I’m going—going. Tell her that I died in trying to protect her; say that—Foster—say—” He relapsed into unconsciousness.
I heard firm, rapid steps in the hall, and in another instant the representatives of French law had taken charge of the house. Rosa followed them in. She looked wistfully at Sir Cyril, and then, flinging herself down by his side, burst into wild tears.
THE THING IN THE CHAIR
On the following night I sat once more in the salon of Rosa’s flat. She had had Sir Cyril removed thither. He was dying; I had done my best, but his case was quite hopeless, and at Rosa’s urgent entreaty I had at last left her alone by his bedside.