“Believe the worst—and stand aside, sir. I have neither patience nor words for you.”
“I beseech you, sir—”
“Touch me not! Out of my sight! Broadway is not wide enough for us two, unless you take the other side.”
“Your daughter? Oh sir, have some pity!”
“My daughter is dying.”
“Then sir, let me tell you, that your behaviour has been so brutal to her, and to me, that the Almighty shows both kindness and intelligence in taking her away:”—and with these words uttered in a blazing passion of indignation and pity, the young lord crossed to the other side of the street, leaving the Doctor confounded by his words and manner.
“There is something strange here,” he said to himself; “the fellow may be as bad as bad can be, but he neither looked nor spoke as if he had wronged Cornelia. If she lives I must get to the bottom of this affair. I should not wonder if it is the work of Dick Hyde—earl or general—as detestable a man as ever crossed my path.”
With this admission and wonder, the thought of Hyde passed from his mind; for at that hour the issue he had to consider was one of life or death. And although it was beyond all hope or expectation, Cornelia came back to life; came back very slowly, but yet with a solemn calm and a certain air of conscious dignity, as of one victorious over death and the grave. But she was perilously delicate, and the Doctor began to consider the dangers of her convalescence.
“Ava,” he said one evening when Cornelia had been downstairs awhile—“it will not do for the child to run the risk of meeting that man. I see him on the street frequently. The apothecary says he comes to his store to ask after her recovery nearly every day. He has not given her up, I am sure of that. He spoke to me once about her, and was outrageously impudent. There is something strange in the affair, but how can I move in it?”
“It is impossible. Can you quarrel with a man because he has deceived Cornelia? How cruel that would be to the child! You must bear and I must bear. Anything must be borne, rather than set the town wondering and talking.”
“It is a terrible position. I see not how I can endure it.”
“Put Cornelia before everything.”
“The best plan is to remove Cornelia out of danger. Why not take her to visit your brother Joseph? He has long desired you to do so.”
“Go to Philadelphia now! Joseph tells me Congress is in session, and the city gone mad over its new dignity. Nothing but balls and dinners are thought of; even the Quakers are to be seen in the finest modes and materials at entertainments; and Cornelia will hardly escape the fever of fashion and social gaiety. She has many acquaintances there.”
“I do not wish her to escape it. A change of human beings is as necessary as a change of air, or diet. She has had too much of George Hyde, and Madame Jacobus, and Rem Van Ariens.”