It was true; severe nervous headache had brought her to the state in which she could do nothing but lie passively on her bed. The Colonel saw this, and bade her think of nothing for the present, and sent Barbara to take care of her.
She spent the rest of the day in the sort of aniantissement which that sort of headache often produces, and in the meantime everybody held tete-a-tetes. The Colonel held his peace about the will, not half crediting such a catastrophe, and thinking one matter at a time quite enough for his brain; but he talked to the Professor, to Janet, to Allen, and to Bobus, and tried to come to a knowledge of the bridegroom’s history, and to decide what course ought to be pursued, feeling as the good man always did and always would do, that he was, or ought to be, the supreme authority for his brother’s widow and children.
Allen was quite placable, and ready to condone everything. He thought the Athenian Professor a very superior man, with excellent classical taste, by which it was plain that his mosaic pavement, his old china, and his pictures had met with rare appreciation. Moreover, the Professor knew how to converse, and could be brill-iantly entertaining; there was nothing to find fault with in his appearance; and if Janet was satisfied, Allen was. He knew his uncle hated foreigners, but for his own part, he thought nothing so dull as English respectability.
For once the Colonel declared that Bobus had more sense! Bobus had come to a tolerably clear comprehension of the matter, and his first impressions were confirmed by subsequent inquiries. Demetrius Hermann was the son of some lawyer of King Otho’s court who had married a Greek lady. He had studied partly at Athens, partly at so many other universities, that Bobus thought it rather suspicious; while his uncle, who held that a respectable degree must be either of Oxford or Cambridge, thought this fatal to his reputation. He had studied medicine at one time, but had broached some theory which the German faculty were too narrow to appreciate; “Which means,” quoth Bobus, “either that he could not get a licence to practise, or else had it revoked.”
Then he had taken to lecturing. The professorship was obscure; he said it was Athenian, and Bobus had no immediate means of finding out whether it were so or not, nor of analysing the alphabet of letters that followed his name upon the advertisement of his lectures.
Apparently he was a clever lecturer, fluent and full of illustration, with an air of original theory that caught people’s attention. He knew his ground, and where critically scientific men were near to bring him to book, was cautious to keep within the required bounds, but in the freer and less regulated places, he discoursed on new theories and strange systems connected with the mysteries of magnetism, and producing extraordinary and unexplained effects.
Robert and Jock were inclined to ascribe to some of these arts the captivation of so clever a person as their sister, by one whom they both viewed with repulsion as a mere adventurer.