Early the next morning, after Richard had left the cottage for Raglan castle, mistress Rees was awaked by the sound of a heavy blow against her door. When with difficulty she had opened it, Richard or his dead body, she knew not which, fell across her threshold. Like poor Marquis, he had come to her for help and healing.
When he got out of the quarry, he made for the highroad, but missing the way the dog had brought him, had some hard work in reaching it; and long before he arrived—at the cottage, what with his wound, his loss of blood, his double wetting, his sleeplessness after mistress Watson’s potion, want of food, disappointment and fatigue, he was in a high fever. The last mile or two he had walked in delirium, but happily with the one dominant idea of getting help from mother Rees. The poor woman was greatly shocked to find that the teeth of the trap had closed upon her favourite and mangled him so terribly. A drop or two of one of her restoratives, however, soon brought him round so far that he was able to crawl to the chair on which he had sat the night before, now ages agone as it seemed, where he now sat shivering and glowing alternately, until with trembling hands the good woman had prepared her own bed for him.
‘Thou hast left thy doublet behind thee,’ she said, ’and I warrant me the cake I gave thee in the pouch thereof! Hadst thou eaten of that, thou hadst not come to this pass.’
But Richard scarcely heard her voice. His one mental consciousness was the longing desire to lay his aching head on the pillow, and end all effort.
Finding his wound appeared very tolerably dressed, Mrs. Rees would not disturb the bandages. She gave him a cooling draught, and watched by him till he fell asleep. Then she tidied her house, dressed herself, and got everything in order for nursing him. She would have sent at once to Redware to let his father know where and in what condition he was, but not a single person came near the cottage the whole day, and she dared not leave him before the fever had subsided. He raved a good deal, generally in the delusion that he was talking to Dorothy—who sought to kill him, and to whom he kept giving directions, at one time how to guide the knife to reach his heart, at another how to mingle her poison so that it should act with speed and certainty.
At length one fine evening in early autumn, when the red sun shone level through the window of the little room where he lay, and made a red glory on the wall, he came to himself a little.
‘Is it blood?’ he murmured. ’Did Dorothy do it?—How foolish I am! It is but a blot the sun has left behind him!—Ah! I see! I am dead and lying on the top of my tomb. I am only marble. This is Redware church. Oh, mother Rees, is it you! I am very glad! Cover me over a little. The pall there.’