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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 280 pages of information about Villa Rubein, and other stories.

She took the sleeping draught gratefully, making a face, like a child after a powder.

“How long do you think it’ll be before I can play again?  Oh!  I forgot—­there are other things to think about.”  She held out her hand to me.  “Look at my ring.  Married—­isn’t it funny?  Ha, ha!  Nobody will ever understand—­that’s funny too!  Poor Gran!  You see, there wasn’t any reason—­only me.  That’s the only reason I’m telling you now; Mums is there—­but she doesn’t count; why don’t you count, Mums?”

The fever was fighting against the draught; she had tossed the clothes back from her throat, and now and then raised one thin arm a little, as if it eased her; her eyes had grown large, and innocent like a child’s; the candle, too, had flared, and was burning clearly.

“Nobody is to tell him—­nobody at all; promise...!  If I hadn’t slipped, it would have been different.  What would have happened then?  You can’t tell; and I can’t—­that’s funny!  Do you think I loved him?  Nobody marries without love, do they?  Not quite without love, I mean.  But you see I wanted to be free, he said he’d take me; and now he’s left me after all!  I won’t be left, I can’t!  When I came to the cliff—­that bit where the ivy grows right down—­there was just the sea there, underneath; so I thought I would throw myself over and it would be all quiet; and I climbed on a ledge, it looked easier from there, but it was so high, I wanted to get back; and then my foot slipped; and now it’s all pain.  You can’t think much, when you’re in pain.”

From her eyes I saw that she was dropping off.

“Nobody can take you away from-yourself.  He’s not to be told—­not even—­I don’t—­want you—­to go away, because—­” But her eyes closed, and she dropped off to sleep.

They don’t seem to know this morning whether she is better or worse....

VI

“Tuesday, 9th August.

It seems more like three weeks than three days since I wrote.  The time passes slowly in a sickhouse...!  The doctors were here this morning, they give her forty hours.  Not a word of complaint has passed her lips since she knew.  To see her you would hardly think her ill; her cheeks have not had time to waste or lose their colour.  There is not much pain, but a slow, creeping numbness....  It was John Ford’s wish that she should be told.  She just turned her head to the wall and sighed; then to poor old Mrs. Hopgood, who was crying her heart out:  “Don’t cry, Mums, I don’t care.”

When they had gone, she asked for her violin.  She made them hold it for her, and drew the bow across the strings; but the notes that came out were so trembling and uncertain that she dropped the bow and broke into a passion of sobbing.  Since then, no complaint or moan of any kind....

But to go back.  On Sunday, the day after I wrote, as I was coming from a walk, I met a little boy making mournful sounds on a tin whistle.

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