« 上一页继续 »
the wind had died away, and he purposed therefore to remain out at sea a day or two. "So then," ejaculated I mentally, "he will give us both to the dark bosom of the sea, or to the jaws of the sharks. Can I save him!—can I save him!" I continued saying these last words to myself till it grew dark—and then I forgot my oath.
The moment of trial at last arrived. Whatever might happen to myself, I resolved to make some effort to save Sebastiano. The sailors who accompanied us, had all gone below to their berths. No one was allowed to keep watch. I saw the wine had affected my lover's head—me it had also affected, but the greatness of my purpose rose above everything, and while his senses were heavy and bewildered, mine were exalted to the highest pitch, and seemed to soar above despair.
The Marchese beckoned me aside, and fixing his detested eyes upon me, said in an under tone: "Now, daughter of the proud poor English noble—now comes my hour. You have enjoyed yours, brief though it has been—I shall do the same. The delay has been already an empire of revenge! Beware thy oath !— Think whom it invoked, and what it imprecated!" As he said this he ascended to the deck, leaving me a complete statue—alas! only in limb. Yet wherefore regret that I retained life—do I repent? No—I recovered with a start—'twas like transformation. "I will save him!" said I aloud, "I will save him 1 No matter for my oath—Almighty God knows that my lips only uttered it—it was without reason, without soul."
I turned round to hasten to Sebastiano, and found the Marchese standing close behind me! He had penetrated my purpose, and instantly returned. "I have decided," said he in a low voice, "that thy hand shall precipitate him into the watery hell I have prepared! Nay, retire not, for it shall be so. The many hungry fangs which now await—But enough of words— go, and remove the iron bolt of the foremost platform—go, I say! All possible entreaty is in vain—go,—the bolt of the platform nearest the bows—withdraw it."
Such is the blind confusion of those who are about to perpetrate a murderous act, if anything occurs contrary to their preparation and forecast conclusions. So blind was the Marchese. I ascended to the decl$. Something flashed directly across me, fop, it was not thought. My frame rocked a. moment at the dreadful alternative. My husbanTS !—the man whom before Heaven I had sworn' (it the altar to obey, to honour, to—but whom I had injured beyond reparation—oh, husband, did I say!— A malignant fiend, was he not ?—Should he live to exult over this deed, even while his serpent
arms enfolded their victim! should he murder one whom I loved so unutterably?
I hastened along the dark deck, and without further hesitation withdrew both the bolts; but in the place of the second, I introduced a very short bit of wood, which was imperceptible in the darkness.
I descended—the Marchese met me before I entered the cabin.
"Have you removed the second bolt?"
"The one on the foremost platform?" "I have."
"Wretch! you have not!"
"By the same oath which you forced me to take, I have!"
I was a weak woman in his eyes—his slave, as he had dared to call the daughter of an English nobleman—and he had used her worse than a mere slave; but he dreamt not what that woman's love could do. At this moment I felt it was I who was terrible, and he the fool of his own villanics.
We entered the cabin together, and the Marchese invited Sebastiano to walk on the deck, as the night was serene, and the sea-breezes would be refreshing after a hot day. He gladly acquiesced, and we all three walked backwards and forwards on the deck, till the Marchese paused opposite the first division of the platform! My heart seemed beating through my side! "Come," said he, motioning Sebastiano to walk upon the other platform, "come, let us watch the phosphoric sparkles which dance among these breaking ripples. You are a painter, and should notice everything. They are conjectured to be animaleulse, though others affirm—" As he was talking thus, he advanced upon the aftermost platform!
It held fast by reason of its stiffness, or the new wood being swollen by the water. Sebastiano had placed one foot on the other platform, when in my confusion, believing I had made some mistake, I grasped him by the arm with a choked scream.
The Marchese started—understood everything—I knew it by his momentary look, for at this instant (and the whole happened in less time than I relate it) the aftermost platform fell, and he was precipitated into the sea!
The first action of Sebastiano was to seize a rope to throw over for the Marchese as soon as he should rise; but I grasped him frantically, and his struggles were in vain.
The sailors hearing the noise, came scrambling up to the deck. And now at some distance on the dark sea were heard most frightful screams, such as terrified those who knew the cause only ;—though no one felt like me—no one knew what I had known. And still more dreadful were the cries repeated, far and near,
As we ponder o'er the story
At the foot of Olivet,
There it wan, abased for sin,
Lazarus and his sisters, there,
Gladness filled each glowing breast.
There, the sister's faith to try,
Lazarus was doomed to die,
That their friend, and guest, and Lord,
Might be known the Son of God.
Arbiter of life and death,
He restored the dead man's breath,
And displayed His deity
To the Jews at Bethany.
And when He himself had risen
So—when burdened sore by sin;
* "Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much."—Luxr vii. 74. f "Having loved his own which were in the world, ho loved them unto the end."—John viii. 1.
THE DOCTOR'S THIRD PATIENT,
OR REMINISCENCES OF OLD DR. MICAH ASUER.
BY THE BEV. JOHN TODD, D.D.
I Had made up my mind to live and die poor. There were nostrums, indeed, on which I might have ridden into notice, and I knew that with aloes, colocynth, and calomel, I could make pills by the barrel, and promise that they would cure all the diseases that ever afflicted humanity, and I could roll up a fortune by lying daily about plasters and lozenges; but from my soul I abominated all empiricism, and resolved that I would be honourable in my profession, or I would starve. My third patient had not yet called for me. Full of manly resolutions to do right and honourably, I could not conceal from myself a feeling of jealousy when I saw carriages loaded with people go past my office and call "Dr. Bradis, the celebrated Indian doctor." I knew the charlatan could hardly read or write, knew nothing about the human system, and next to nothing about diseases. Yet with his impudence and cool boasting, he had no lack of patients. How people love to be imposed upon! At length, when my hopes began to sink, on returning home one evening from my solitary office,—for home, I called my boarding-place,—I found a short note, written in a neat, delicate, and I thought, trembling hand, intimating that " Miss Lucy Braisley desired to consult Dr. Asher professionally and confidentially, this evening or to-morrow morning, as will best suit his convenience." It was too late to go that night, especially as having seen Miss Braisley walking out just at sunset, I knew she could not be very sick herself. How I lay that night, half sleeping and half waking, and forming all manner of conjectures as to the nature of the consultation desired! But who was Lucy Braisley? This I did not know, except that she was a beautiful stranger to whom I had been introduced, who had come to spend a few months in our village with a distant relative. She was dressed in deep mourning, was an orphan, understood to be poor, though once in great affluence, and beautiful she certainly was, as every beholder testified. By some means or other, I had got into the good graces of her relative, and suspected that it was to her influence that I was indebted for my call. Had the young stranger the first "slight cough," and the first "hectic flush," which are such sure
heralds of that awful destroyer—the consumption? I resolved that never should patient be treated more carefully. Had she some chronic disease, hidden, but sure to make war upon the system till it had destroyed it? I would leave no efforts unmade, by which to dislodge the foe. Long before morning I had imagined and treated a score of diseases in my new and fair patient. I even rose an hour earlier than usual, and read what books I had on "Scrofula," "Phthisis," and "Spine." Nor need I feel ashamed to own that I brushed my boots, coat, hat, and hair with at least common care, and drew on my best gloves at an early hour. On my way I studied what might be the golden medium between the cheerful, buoyant look with which a physician wants to encourage his patient, and that long face of sympathy which he wishes to put on to show that he has deep sympathies, and feels the responsibilities of his position. I am inclined to think the latter predominated, for on my saying to the young lady that I hoped she was not seriously ill, she burst into a laugh, and said she was never in better health in her life. I threw myself at once upon my dignity, and said that as she had done me the honour to intimate that she wished to consult me professionally, and as she was in such perfect health, I was at a loss to know how I could assist her. She dismissed her looks and tones of levity at once, and gave me to understand that she wanted my assistance in behalf of an uncle, a rich merchant, who was at that very moment confined in chains—a madman 1
"We have consulted many distinguished physicians, sir, but they give us no hope of his recovery. He is so violent that he has to be chained day and night, and is especially outrageous when / come into his presence. My aunt, his wife, received a terrible shock on hearing my uncle return from Europe, where he went on business, raving in madness, and she is now on a bed of sickness. She had heard of you through the praises of a backwoodsman, whose wife he says you cured of a 'fit of ravin' distraction in less than no time 1' Is that so? I was commissioned by my aunt to come to this village, and if your character stood as she hoped it would, to see if we could not get you to take my uncle under your special charge, with the hope that he may be restored to reason; but if this may not be, that he may be made as comfortable as possible. I have been reading some French writers on Insanity, and I have acquired some new thoughts in relation to it. Perhaps you would like to read them? If so, they are at your service." She pointed me to at least a dozen volumes which by their binding I knew must be French. What could I do? I could read French but very imperfectly—next to nothing, and I longed to get at the thoughts and views in those volumes, and yet I dared neither to say that I could or could not read French. I believed my face must have shown a troubled expression, for she said in a kind voice, " Doctor, perhaps you would like to think of our proposition a few days, and in the mean time I will send over the volumes, and you can dip into them or not as you can command leisure."
It appeared in evidence, as the lawyers say, that the history of her uncle's madness was as follows. At a very early age the two brothers, James and John Braisley, left their home among the hills to try their fortunes in the city; they were apprenticed to the same mercantile house, and served their time together. It was soon found that James was the boy for a bargain. If a forced sale was at hand, he knew it, and apprised his employers accordingly. If a lot of goods none the choicest came in, James would contrive to sell them without delay. On one occasion a large lot of molasses was to be Bold on the wharf. When the first hogshead was put up with the privilege of taking "one or the whole," it was observed that a car-man, with his face dirty, and in his well-soiled frock, and a whip in his hand, was very eager to bid. He did not hang back and try to appear indifferent as the merchants did. He was prompt, and the merchants concluding that the poor fellow had contrived to scrape money enough together to buy " a whole hogshead," did not bid against him. Down came the hammer of the auctioneer, and, "Well, car-man, how many will you take?" "I'll take the whole!" "The whole! who will be responsible for you?" "Griffin and Lang." The auctioneers and the owners raved, but there was no help, and James Braisley, in the car-man's dress, had made two thousand dollars for Griffin and Lang, by that stroke. Griffin and Lang pocketed the money, praised James for his shrewdness, and promoted him in their store. On another occasion, being sent to the office of the commissary of the navy on some errand, and while the officer was out, he took the liberty to peep into his papers. Among them he found an advertisement soon to be printed, inviting proposals for a large quantity of vinegar for the navy, to
be delivered at an early date. What does the fellow do, but whip round to all the vinegardealers in the city, and engage so much of their stock as to render it impossible for them to throw in proposals. The result was, that Griffin and Lang, at an enormous advance, furnished the vinegar, and made it a very profitable job. On the contrary, John was so open, fair, and guileless, that though everybody liked him and respected him, yet he was not allowed to do much of the buying or selling. He was kept at the books of the concern, and they were well kept.
In process of time, the two brothers had completed their apprenticeship, and commenced business for themselves under the firm of J. & J. Braisley. James brought into it all the cunning and overreaching policy which had been called shrewdness and sagacity; and John that accuracy in accounts, and that urbanity of manners which gave the firm great popularity and respectability. It came to pass, too, that they accumulated property, and became rich, and they were caressed. Inspiration hath testified that " men will praise thee when thou doest well for thyself." After many years of successful business, at the desire of James, the firm separated. It was said that John was greatly grieved by the movement, but had to yield to the strong will of James. After the dissolution of the firm they both continued in business. At length the business of John led him to a distant part of the continent. There he was taken sick and there he died. His wife was just leaving the world when the news came, and it hastened her departure. Their only child was the orphan Lucy, in whose presence I was now sitting, and learning these particulars. On the death of John, James hastened to the place where he died, and much to his amazement and horror, found the estate of John so involved in a complication of speculations, that he was a bankrupt, and not a farthing was saved from the wreck. He came back not a little depressed in spirits, and taking the death of his brother harder than anybody supposed he could. Indeed, he never seemed to be the same man afterwards. But everybody admired and praised his conduct towards his orphan niece. He soothed her, and took her to his own house, and assured her that she should never want. She had never known the want of money, and the loss of her property made no impression upon her. It was for her parents and the endearments of childhood's home that she mourned. With her uncle she lived. His own children were sons, who promised to spend all the estate which he might accumulate. Gradually, however, his feelings towards Lucy seemed to undergo a change. He seemed to grow cool, then distant, moody, and finally it was plain that her society was irksome to him. About two years after the death of his brother he was called to go to Europe. While absent, cotton rose at once, and the whole world seemed mad with the cotton speculation. James Braisley wrote home to his agents to buy, buy—buy all they could. Letters came fast and urgent, all urging buy, buy. Soon the bubble burst, and thousands were wrecked. Just as it burst, James was leaving England for home. Then he began to figure up how many orders he had written, how many bales had been purchased, how much he had lost on each, till he saw that he was a bankrupt, and ruined. The fact was, the bubble burst here so early that his agents had not obeyed his orders. Money had been his idol. He had lived for nothing else, and now his gods had been taken away, as he supposed, and what had he left? He figured and computed till he became wild, frantie, and deranged, and had to be brought home in irons. When he reached his home he did not know his own wife, but seemed to recognise Lucy, so far as to shudder, and howl, and screech at her presence. He could not bear the sight of her person.
Such, in substance, was the story which the poor girl told me with many tears. For my part, I could not see anything in the young lady that should make even a madman hate her. It was evident that she loved him much, and was very grateful to him for his great kindness in giving her a home.
On taking leave, I loaded my arms with the French books, assured Miss Lucy of my deep interest in the case, and promised to consider the subject, and let her know my decision in a few days. How I hastened to my office, and borrowed a French grammar and dictionary, and pored over the books day and night, I need not say. Never did a poor fellow study harder to acquire the language, to master the contents of the volumes, and to acquire information, than I did during the three weeks that followed. By the end of that time I was master of what seemed to be locked up in an unknown tongue. My reader will bear in mind that half a century ago, the whole treatment of the insane was to bear with them if they were gentle, and to chain them, put them in cages and dungeons, and treat them like wild beasts, if they were wild and frenzied. The hope or the thought of curing a deranged person was not dreamed of. But I now got a new idea in my head, and the very experiment caused my heart to exult with excitement. At the end of three weeks I called on Miss Lucy, and intimated that I would undertake the case of her uncle, aiming at a cure, on two conditions, viz., that I should have no one to interfere with me, I being
allowed to manage my patient in my own way, and that I should be allowed to charge twelve hundred dollars a year. This last item seemed to stagger the niece and the aunt, but I assured them that it would cost me every farthing of that sum to make my experiments, without any compensation for my .services. He was immensely rich, and what was that sum in comparison with the saving of the man? At length they agreed to it all, and I was to be ready to receive him in a single week. I had no time to lose in making preparations. I procured a small, but convenient house, rather retired, with a large garden. I next procured two strong, handy, patient young men, who were to obey my orders implicitly. One was a long-legged fellow, and the other, small, lithe, and quick as a cat. I next hired two saddlehorses, the hardest-bitted, and the hardesttrotting creatures I could procure. Then a good, faithful housekeeper, and my accommodations were ready.
At the time appointed, a carriage drove up to my new habitation, and two men got out, dragging a large, powerful man, cursing, swearing, and resisting with all his might. I kept out of the way till "the Doctor" was sought for and loudly demanded. At length I carelessly went into the room, and taking no notice of the keepers, but fixing my eye on the eye of the maniae, and with a smile gave him my hand with great politeness, and said— "Mr. Braisley, I believe?" "Who in the name of all God's lowest creation, are you?" said he.
"Dr. Asher, at your service,"—still keeping my eye on his. "Dr. Asher, sir, the doctor who takes care of so many deranged people."
"The deuce you do !" growled my patient. But I saw that he gave in under my steady gaze very slightly.
"Yes, sir, that's my sole business, and I cure them, too."
"Cure 'em, you son of night and darkness invisible, you imp of a Jack-o'-lantern—you cure 'em, eh?"
"Certainly, sir," said I, with the eye fixed sharply on his, and with the most imperturbable gravity; "certainly, sir, I never had a deranged or insane patient that I did not cure." He looked puzzled a moment, and then broke out into the coarsest invectives and abuse. I took no notice of it, but applying a small ivory whistle to my mouth, I blew a loud call, and my two men appeared. "Fairlong, show Mr. Braisley to his room. Stay: those irons on his hands must be uncomfortable. Mr. Braisley, now on your honour promise me that you will be gentle and quiet, and we will take off those irons, and you shall be free. The men who came with him began to remon