Dorothy Beltham told me something of Janet that struck me to the dust.
’It is this, dear Harry; bear to hear it! Janet and I and his good true woman of a housekeeper, whose name is Waddy, we are, I believe, the only persons that know it. He had a large company to dine at a City tavern, she told us, on the night after the decision—when the verdict went against him. The following morning I received a note from this good Mrs. Waddy addressed to Sir Roderick’s London house, where I was staying with Janet; it said that he was ill; and Janet put on her bonnet at once to go to him.’
‘The lady didn’t fear contagion any longer?’
’She went, walking fast. He was living in lodgings, and the people of the house insisted on removing him, Mrs. Waddy told us. She was cowering in the parlour. I had not the courage to go upstairs. Janet went by herself.’
My heart rose on a huge swell.
‘She was alone with him, Harry. We could hear them.’
Dorothy Beltham looked imploringly on me to waken my whole comprehension.
’She subdued him. When I saw him he was white as death, but quiet, not dangerous at all.’
‘Do you mean she found him raving?’ I cried out on our Maker’s name, in grief and horror.
‘Yes, dear Harry, it was so.’
‘She stepped between him and an asylum?’
’She quitted Sir Roderick’s house to lodge your father safe in one that she hired, and have him under her own care. She watched him day and night for three weeks, and governed him, assisted only at intervals by the poor frightened woman, Mrs. Waddy, and just as frightened me. And I am still subject to the poor woman’s way of pressing her hand to her heart at a noise. It ’s over now. Harry, Janet wished that you should never hear of it. She dreads any excitement for him. I think she is right in fancying her own influence the best: he is used to it. You know how gentle she is though she is so firm.’
‘Oh! don’t torture me, ma’am, for God’s sake,’ I called aloud.
I MEET MY FIRST PLAYFELLOW AND TAKE MY PUNISHMENT
There came to me a little note on foreign paper, unaddressed, an enclosure forwarded by Janet, and containing merely one scrap from the playful XENIEN of Ottilia’s favourite brotherly poets, of untranslatable flavour:—
Who shuns true friends
flies fortune in the concrete:
Would he see what he aims at? let him ask his heels.
It filled me with a breath of old German peace.
From this I learnt that Ottilia and Janet corresponded. Upon what topics? to what degree of intimacy?
Janet now confessed to me that their intimacy had never known reserve. The princess had divined her attachment for Harry Richmond when their acquaintance was commenced in the island, and knew at the present moment that I had travelled round to the recognition of Janet’s worth.