“She has scarcely any relatives in the world,” replied the housekeeper; “no near ones; and we happen to be, just now, quite alone.”
But Mr. Carlyle, seeing the urgency of the case, for the earl, with every minute, grew more excited, approached and whispered her: “You are as anxious as we can be for your father’s recovery?”
“As anxious!” she uttered reproachfully.
“You know what I would imply. Of course our anxiety can be as nothing to yours.”
“As nothing—as nothing. I think my heart will break.”
“Then—forgive me—you should not oppose the wishes of his medical attendants. They wish to be alone with him, and time is being lost.”
She rose up; she placed her hands on her brow, as if to collect the sense of the words, and then she addressed the doctors,—
“Is it really necessary that I should leave the room—necessary for him?”
“It is necessary, my lady—absolutely essential.”
She broke into a passion of tears and sobs as Mr. Carlyle lead her to another apartment.
“He is my dear father; I have but him in the wide world!” she exclaimed.
“I know—I know; I feel for you all that you are feeling. Twenty times this night I have wished—forgive me the thought—that you were my sister, so that I might express my sympathy more freely and comfort you.”
“Tell me the truth, then, why I am kept away. If you can show me sufficient cause, I will be reasonable and obey; but do not say again I should be disturbing him, for it is not true.”
“He is too ill for you to see him—his symptoms are too painful. In fact, it would not be proper; and were you to go in in defiance of advice, you would regret it all your after life.”
“Is he dying?”
Mr. Carlyle hesitated. Ought he to dissemble with her as the doctors had done? A strong feeling was upon him that he ought not.
“I trust to you not to deceive me,” she simply said.
“I fear he is—I believe he is.”
She rose up—she grasped his arm in the sudden fear that flashed over her.
“You are deceiving me, and he is dead!”
“I am not deceiving you, Lady Isabel. He is not dead, but—it may be very near.”
She laid her face down upon the soft pillow.
“Going forever from me—going forever? Oh, Mr. Carlyle, let me see him for a minute—just one farewell! Will you not try for me!”
He knew how hopeless it was, but he turned to leave the room.
“I will go and see. But you will remain here quietly—you will not come.”
She bowed her head in acquiescence, and he closed the door. Had she indeed been his sister, he would probably have turned the key upon her. He entered the earl’s chamber, but not many seconds did he remain in it.
“It is over,” he whispered to Mrs. Mason, whom he met in the corridor, “and Mr. Wainwright is asking for you.”