Henry passed a night of extreme disquiet. It was evident from what had occurred at the mess-table, in relation to the beautiful American, that to her was to be ascribed the wretchedness to which Gerald had become a victim, and he resolved, on the following morning, to waive all false delicacy, and, throwing himself upon his affection, to solicit his confidence, and offer whatever counsel he conceived would best tend to promote his peace of mind.
At breakfast the conversation turned on the intended movement, which was to take place within three days, and, on this subject, Gerald evinced a vivacity that warmed into eagerness. He had risen early that morning, with a view to obtain the permission of the Commodore to make one of the detachment of sailors who were to accompany the expedition, and, having succeeded in obtaining the command of one of the two gun-boats which were destined to ascend the Miami, and form part of the battering force, seemed highly pleased. This apparent return to himself might have led his brother into the belief that his feelings had indeed undergone a reaction, had he not, unfortunately, but too much reason to know that the momentary gaiety was the result of the very melancholy which consumed him. However, it gave him a more favorable opportunity to open the subject next his heart, and, as a preparatory step, he dexterously contrived to turn the conversation into the channel most suited to his purpose.
The only ill effect arising from Gerald’s recent immersion was a sense of pain in that part of his arm which had been bitten by the rattle snake, on the day of the pic-nic to Hog Island, and it chanced that this morning especially it had a good deal annoyed him, evincing some slight predisposition to inflammation. To subdue this, Henry applied, with his own hand, a liniment which had been recommended, and took occasion, when he had finished, to remark on the devotedness and fearlessness Miss Montgomerie had manifested in coming so opportunely to his rescue— in all probability, thereby preserving his life.
At the sound of this name Gerald, started, and evinced the same impatience of the subject he had manifested on the preceding day. Henry keenly remarked his emotion, and Gerald was sensible that he did.