He did not return my farewell with a single word. But the grasp of his strong rough hand was more earnest and loving even than usual. I could not see his face, for it was almost dark; but, indeed, I felt that it was better I could not see it.
I went home as peaceful in my heart as the night whose curtains God had drawn about the earth that it might sleep till the morrow.
Although I do happen to know how Miss Oldcastle fared that night after I left her, the painful record is not essential to my story. Besides, I have hitherto recorded only those things “quorum pars magna”—or minima, as the case may be—“fui.” There is one exception, old Weir’s story, for the introduction of which my reader cannot yet see the artistic reason. For whether a story be real in fact, or only real in meaning, there must always be an idea, or artistic model in the brain, after which it is fashioned: in the latter case one of invention, in the former case one of choice.
In the middle of the following week I was returning from a visit I had paid to Tomkins and his wife, when I met, in the only street of the village, my good and honoured friend Dr Duncan. Of course I saw him often—and I beg my reader to remember that this is no diary, but only a gathering together of some of the more remarkable facts of my history, admitting of being ideally grouped—but this time I recall distinctly because the interview bore upon many things.
“Well, Dr Duncan,” I said, “busy as usual fighting the devil.”
“Ah, my dear Mr Walton,” returned the doctor—and a kind word from him went a long way into my heart—“I know what you mean. You fight the devil from the inside, and I fight him from the outside. My chance is a poor one.”
“It would be, perhaps, if you were confined to outside remedies. But what an opportunity your profession gives you of attacking the enemy from the inside as well! And you have this advantage over us, that no man can say it belongs to your profession to say such things, and therefore disregard them.”
“Ah, Mr Walton, I have too great a respect for your profession to dare to interfere with it. The doctor in ‘Macbeth,’ you know, could