But in this, as in so many human affairs, forethought was useless; and the course of events, over which so many weary hours of calculation had been spent, was already tending in a direction wholly unthought of and unexpected. The first indication of this was the increasing illness of Christian.
When Mr. Strafford returned to Moose Island, after his second stay at Cacouna, he had begged Elton, the kind-hearted jailer, to send word to Mrs. Costello if any decided change took place in the prisoner before his return; and as she was known to be his friend and correspondent, this attracted no remark, and was readily promised. A little more than a fortnight before the expected trial, Elton himself came one day to the Cottage, and asked for Mrs. Costello. She received him with an alarm difficult to conceal, and, guessing his errand, asked at once if he had a worse account of his prisoner to send to Mr. Strafford?
“Well, ma’am,” he answered, “I don’t know whether to call it a worse account or not, considering all things; but he is certainly very ill, poor creature.”
“What is it? Anything new, or only an increase of weakness?”
“Just that, ma’am. Always a fever, and every day less strength to stand against it. The doctor says he can’t last long in the way he’s going on.”
“And can nothing be done?”
“Well, you see, he can’t take food; and more air than he has we can’t give him. It is hard on those that have spent most of their lives out of doors to be shut up anywhere, and naturally he feels stifled.”