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- An Original Belle - 90/94 -


with it, while I cut open his shirt and stanch the wound."

A second more and a terrible gash on Merwyn's breast was revealed. How deep it was they could not know.

Marian held out her handkerchief, and it was first used to stop the flow of blood. When it was taken away she put it in her bosom.

The old servant, Margy, now rushed in with lamentations.

"Hush!" said Mr. Vosburgh, sternly. "Chafe that other wrist with brandy."

But the swoon was prolonged, and Marian, pallid to her lips, sighed and moaned as she did her father's bidding.

Thomas was not very long in bringing a good physician, who had often attended the family. Marian watched his face as if she were to read there a verdict in regard to her own life, and Mr. Vosburgh evinced scarcely less solicitude.

"His pulse certainly shows great exhaustion; but I cannot yet believe that it is a desperate case. We must first tally him, and then I will examine his wound. Mr. Vosburgh, lift him up, and let me see if I cannot make him swallow a little diluted brandy."

At last Merwyn revived somewhat, but did not seem conscious of what was passing around him. The physician made a hasty examination of the wound and said, "It is not so severe as to be fatal in itself, but I don't like the hot, dry, feverish condition of his skin."

"He was feverish before he received the wound," said Marian, in a whisper. "I fear he has been going far beyond his strength."

"I entreat you, sir, not to leave him," said Mr. Vosburgh, "until you can give us more hope."

"Rest assured that I shall not. I am the family physician, and I shall secure for him in the morning the best surgical aid in the city. All that can be done in these times shall be done. Hereafter there must be almost absolute quiet, especially when he begins to notice anything. He must not be moved, or be allowed to move, until I say it is safe. Perhaps if all retire, except myself and Thomas, he will be less agitated when he recovers consciousness. Margy, you make good, strong coffee, and get an early breakfast."

They all obeyed his suggestions at once.

The servant showed Mr. Vosburgh and his daughter into a sitting-room on the same floor, and the poor girl, relieved from the necessity of self-restraint, threw herself on a lounge and sobbed and moaned as if her heart was breaking.

Wise Mr. Vosburgh did not at first restrain her, except by soothing, gentle words. He knew that this was nature's relief, and that she would soon be the better and calmer for it.

The physician wondered at the presence of strangers in the Merwyn residence, and speedily saw how Marian felt towards his patient; but he had observed professional reticence, knowing that explanations would soon come. Meanwhile he carefully sought to rally his patient, and watched each symptom.

At last Merwyn opened his eyes and asked, feebly: "Where am I? What has happened?"

"You were injured, but are doing well," was the prompt reply. "You know me, Dr. Henderson, and Thomas is here also. You are in your own room."

"Yes, I see," and he remained silent for some little time; then said, "I remember all now."

"You must keep quiet and try not to think, Mr. Merwyn. Your life depends upon it."

"My mind has a strong disposition to wander."

"The more need of quiet."

"Miss Vosburgh is here. I must see her."

"Yes, by and by."

"Doctor, I fear I am going to be out of my mind. I must see Miss Vosburgh. I will see her; and if you are wise you will permit me to do so. My life depends upon it more than upon your skill. Do what I ask, and I will be quiet"

"Very well, then, but the interview must be brief."

"It must be as I say."

Marian was summoned. Hastily drying her eyes, she tried to suppress her strong emotion.

Merwyn feebly reached out his hand to her, and she sat down beside him.

"Do not try to talk," she whispered, taking his hand.

"Yes, I must while I am myself. Dr. Henderson, I love and honor this girl, and would make her my wife should she consent. I may be dying, but if she is willing to stay with me, it seems as if I could live through everything, fever and all. If she is willing and you do not permit her to stay, I want you to know that my blood is on your hands! Marian, are you willing to stay?"

"Yes," she replied; and then, leaning down, she whispered: "I do love you; I have loved you ever since I understood you. Oh, live for my sake! What would life be now without you?"

"Now you shall stay."

"See, doctor, he is quiet while I am with him," she said, pleadingly.

"And only while you are with me. I know I should die if you were sent away."

"She shall stay with you, Mr. Merwyn, if you obey my orders in other respects. I give you my word," said Dr. Henderson.

"Very well. Now have patience with me."

"Thomas," whispered the physician, "have the strongest beef tea made, and keep it on hand."

Mr. Vosburgh intercepted the man, and was briefly told what had taken place. "Now there is a chance for them both," the agitated father muttered, as he restlessly paced the room. "Oh, how terribly clouded would our lives be, should he die!"

CHAPTER LII.

MOTHER AND SON.

FOR a time Merwyn did keep quiet, but he soon began to mutter brokenly and unintelligibly. Marian tried to remove her hand to aid the physician a moment, but she felt the feeble tightening of his clasp, and he cried, "No, no!"

This, for days, was the last sign he gave of intelligent comprehension of what was going on around him.

"We must humor him as far as we can in safety," the doctor remarked, in a low whisper, and so began the battle for life.

Day was now dawning, and Thomas was despatched for a very skilful surgeon, who came and gave the help of long experience.

At last Dr. Henderson joined Mr. Vosburgh in the breakfast-room, and the latter sent a cup of coffee to his daughter by the physician, who said, when he returned: "I think it would be well for me to know something about Mr. Merwyn's experience during the past few days. I shall understand his condition better if I know the causes which led to it."

Mr. Vosburgh told him everything.

"Well," said the doctor, emphatically, "we should do all within human effort to save such a young fellow."

"I feel that I could give my life to save him," Mr. Vosburgh added.

Hours passed, and Merwyn's delirium became more pronounced. He released his grasp on Marian's hand, and tossed his arms as if in the deepest trouble, his disordered mind evidently reverting to the time when life had been so dark and hopeless.

"Chained, chained," he would mutter. "Cruel, unnatural mother, to chain her son like a slave. My oath is eating out my very heart. SHE despises me as a coward. Oh if she knew what I was facing!" and such was the burden of all his broken words.

The young girl now learned the secret which had been so long unfathomed. Vainly, with streaming eyes, she tried at first to reassure him, but the doctor told her it was of no use, the fever must take its course. Yet her hand upon his brow and cheek often seemed to have a subtle, quieting spell.

Mr. Vosburgh felt that, whatever happened, he must attend to his duties. Therefore he went to headquarters and learned that the crisis of the insurrection had passed. The Seventh Regiment was on duty, and other militia organizations were near at hand.

He also related briefly how he had been driven from his home on the previous night, and was told that policemen were in charge of the building. Having received a permit to enter it, he sent his despatch to Washington, also a quieting telegram to his wife, assuring her that all danger was past.


An Original Belle - 90/94

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