“A stray shot,” we said again and again to each other; and we called Nurse Rowe, and made up a bed in Alured’s old nursery, and lighted a fire, and were all ready, with hearts beating heavy with suspense before the steps came back—my poor Alured first, as we held the door open. How pale his face looked! and his brows were drawn with horror, and his steps dragging, saying not a word, but trembling, as he came and held by me, with one hand on my waist, while Fulk and Sisson carried in the mattress, Arthur Cradock at the side, and Perrault, who had joined them, walking behind with the flask.
Dear Trevor lay white with sobbing breath and closed eyes, the cloths and mattress soaked through and through with blood. They put him down on the keeping-room table, and Arthur poured more brandy into his mouth.
I said something of the room being ready but Arthur said very low “He is dying—internal bleeding;” and when Jaquetta asked “Can nothing be done?” he answered, “Nothing but to leave him still.”
“Trevorsham,” murmured the feeble voice, and Alured was close to him; “Ally! you are all right!” and then again, as Alured assured him he would be better— “No, I shan’t; I’m so glad it wasn’t you. I always thought he’d do it some day, and now you’re quite safe, I want to thank God.”
We did not understand those words then; we did soon.
The weak voice rambled on, “to thank God; but oh, it hurts so—I can’t—I will when I get there.” Then presently “Mother!”
“She’ll come very soon,” said Alured.
“Mother! oh, mother! Trevorsham, don’t let them know. O Trev, promise, promise!”
“Promise what? I promise, whatever it is! Only tell me,” entreated Alured.
“Take care of her—of mother. Don’t let—” and then his eyes met Perrault’s, and a shudder came all over him, which brought the end nearer; and all another spoonful of brandy could do was to enable him to say something in Alured’s ear, and then a broken word or two— “forgive—glad—pray;” and when we all knelt and Fulk did say the Lord’s Prayer, and a verse or two more, there was a peaceful loving look at Fulk and Jaquetta and me, and then the whisper of the Name that is above every name, as a glad brightness came over the face, and the eyes looked upwards, and so grew set in their gaze, and there was the sound one never can forget.
Nurse Rowe laid her hand on Alured’s neck, as he knelt with his head close to Trevor’s. Fulk and I looked at each other, and we knew that all was over.
They had tried in vain to check the bleeding. No one could have done more than Arthur had done, but a main artery had been injured, and nothing could have saved him. He had said nothing after the first cry, except when he saw Alured’s grief. “Never mind; I’m glad it was not you.” And once or twice, as they carried him home, he had begged to be put down, though they durst not attend to the entreaty, and Arthur did not think he had suffered much pain.