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   Chapter 13 No.13

Jupiter Lights By Constance Fenimore Woolson Characters: 14419

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:04


IT was the afternoon of the same day.

"I shall go, grandpa," said Cicely; "I shall go to-night. There's a boat, somebody said."

"But, my dear child, listen to reason; Sabrina does not say that he is in danger."

"And she does not say that he is out of it."

The judge took up the letter again, and, putting on his glasses, he read aloud, with a frown of attention: "'For the first two days Dr. Daniels came over twice a day'"-

"You see?-twice a day," said Cicely.

-"'But as he is beginning to feel his age, the crossing so often in the row-boat tired him; so now he sends us his partner, Dr. Knox, a new man here, and a very intelligent person, I should judge. Dr. Knox comes over every afternoon and spends the night'"-

"You see?-spends the night," said Cicely.

-"'Going back early the following morning. He has brought us a nurse, an excellent and skilful young man, and now we can have the satisfaction of feeling that our poor Ferdie has every possible attention. As I write, the fever is going down, and the nurse tells me that by to-morrow, or day after to-morrow, he will probably be able to speak to us, to talk.'"

"I don't know exactly how many days it will take me to get there," said Cicely, beginning to count upon her fingers. "Four days-or is it three?-to Cleveland, where I take the train; then how many hours from there to Washington? You will have to make it out for me, grandpa; or rather Paul will; Paul knows everything."

"My poor little girl, you haven't had any rest; even now you have only just come out of a fainting-fit. Sabrina will write every day; wait at least until her next letter comes to-morrow morning."

"You are all so strange! Wouldn't you wish me to see him if he were dying?" Cicely demanded, her voice growing hard.

"Of course, of course," replied the old man, hastily. "But there is no mention of dying, Sabrina says nothing that looks like it; Daniels, our old friend-why, Daniels would cross twenty times a day if he thought there was danger."

"I can't argue, grandpa. But I shall go; I shall go to-night," Cicely responded.

She was seated on a sofa in Paul Tennant's parlor, a large room, furnished with what the furniture dealer of Port aux Pins called a "drawing-room set." The sofa of this set was of the pattern named tête-à-tête, very hard and slippery, upholstered in hideous green damask. Cicely was sitting on the edge of this unreposeful couch, her feet close together on a footstool, her arms tight to her sides and folded from the elbows in a horizontal position across the front of her waist. She looked very rigid and very small.

"But supposing, when you get there, that you find him up,-well?" suggested the judge.

"Shouldn't I be glad?" answered Cicely, defiantly. "What questions you ask!"

"But we couldn't be glad. Can't you think a little of us?-you are all we have left now."

"Aunt Sabrina doesn't feel as you do-if you mean Aunt Sabrina; she would be delighted to have me come back. She likes Ferdie; it is only you who are so hard about him."

"Sabrina doesn't know. But supposing it were only I, is my wish nothing to you?" And the old man put out his hand in appeal.

"No," answered Cicely, inflexibly. "I am sorry, grandpa; but for the moment it isn't, nothing is anything to me now but Ferdie. And what is it that Aunt Sabrina doesn't know, pray? There's nothing to know; Ferdie had one of his attacks-he has had them before-and I came away with Jack; that is all. Eve has exaggerated everything. I told her I would come here, come to Paul, because Ferdie likes Paul; but I never intended to stay forever, and now that Ferdie is ill, do you suppose that I will wait one moment longer than I must? Of course not."

The door opened and Eve came in. Cicely glanced at her; then she turned her eyes away, looking indifferently at the whitewashed wall.

"She is going to take the steamer back to-night," said the judge, helplessly.

"Oh no, Cicely; surely not to-night," Eve began. In spite of the fatigues of the journey, Eve had been a changed creature since morning; there was in her eyes an expression of deep happiness, which was almost exaltation.

"There is no use in explaining anything to Eve, and I shall not try," replied Cicely. She unfolded her arms and rose, still standing, a rigid little figure, close to the sofa. "I love my husband, and I shall go to him; what Eve says is of no consequence, because she knows nothing about such things; but I suppose you cared for grandma once, didn't you, grandpa, when she was young? and if she had been shot, wouldn't you have gone to her?"

"Cicely, you are cruel," said Eve.

"When grandpa thinks so, it will be time enough for me to trouble myself. But grandpa doesn't think so."

"No, no," said the old man; "never." And for the moment he and his grandchild made common cause against the intruder.

Eve felt this, she stood looking at them in silence. Then she said, "And Jack?"

"I shall take him with me, of course. That reminds me that I must speak to Porley about his frocks; Porley is so stupid." And Cicely turned towards the door.

Eve followed her. "Another long journey so soon will be bad for Jack."

"There you go again! But I shall not leave him with you, no matter what you say; useless, your constant asking." She opened the door. On the threshold she met Paul Tennant coming in.

He took her hand and led her back. "I was looking for you; I have found a little bed for Jack; but I don't know that it will do."

"You are very good, Paul, but Jack will not need it. I am going away to-night; I have only just learned that there is a boat."

"We don't want to hear any talk of boats," Paul answered. He drew her towards the sofa and placed her upon it. "Sit down; you look so tired!"

"I'm not tired; at least I do not feel it. And I have a great deal to do, Paul; I must see about Jack's frocks."

"Jack's frocks can wait. There's to be no journey to-night."

"Yes, there is," said Cicely, with a mutinous little smile. Her glance turned towards her grandfather and Eve; then it came back to Paul, who was standing before her. "None of you shall keep me," she announced.

"You will obey your grandfather, won't you?" Paul began, seriously.

The judge got up, rubbing his hands round each other.

"No," Cicely answered; "not about this. Grandpa knows it; we have already talked it over."

"You are wrong; you ought not to be willing to make him so unhappy."

"Never mind about that, Tennant; I'll see to that," said the judge. He spoke in a thin old voice which sounded far away.

Paul looked at him, surprised. Then his glance turned towards Eve. "Miss Bruce too; I am sure she does not approve of your going?"

"Oh, if I should wait for Eve's approval!" said Cicely. "Eve doesn't approve of anything in the world except that she should have Jack, and take him away with her, Heaven knows where. She hasn't any feelings as other people have; she has never cared for anybody excepting herself, and her brother, and I dare say that when she had him she tried to rule him, as she tries now to rule me and every one. She is jealous about him, and that makes her hate Ferdie:

perhaps you don't know that she hates Ferdie? She does; she was sorry this morning, absolutely sorry, when she heard that, though he was dreadfully hurt, he wasn't dead."

"Oh, Cicely!" said Eve. She turned away and walked towards one of the windows, her face covered by her hands.

Paul's eyes followed her. Then they came back to Cicely. "Very well, then, since it appears to be left to me, I must tell you plainly that you cannot go to-night; we shall not allow it."

"We!" ejaculated Cicely. "Who are we?"

"I, then, if you like-I alone."

"What can you do? I am free; no one has any authority over me except Ferdie." Paul did not reply. "You will scarcely attempt to keep me by force, I suppose?" she went on.

"If necessary, yes. But it will not be necessary."

"Grandpa would never permit it. Grandpa?" She summoned him to her side with an imperious gesture.

The old man came towards her a step or two. Then he left the room hurriedly.

Cicely watched him go, with startled eyes. But she recovered herself, and looked at Paul undaunted.

"Why do you treat me so, Cicely?" he said. "I care about Ferdie as much as you do; I have always cared about him,-hasn't he ever told you? There never were two boys such chums; and although, since he has grown up, he has had others, I have never had any one but him; I haven't wanted any one. Is it likely, then, that I should try to set you against him?-that I should turn against him myself?-I ask you that."

"It is setting me against him not to let me go to him. How do we know that he is not dying?" Her voice was quiet and hard.

"We know because the letters do not speak of danger; on the contrary, they tell us that the ball has been extracted, and that the fever is going down. He will get well. And then some measures must be taken before you can go back to him; otherwise it would not be safe."

"And do I care about safe? I should like to die if he did!" cried Cicely, passionately. She looked like a hunted creature at bay.

"And your child; what is your idea about him?"

"That's it; take up Eve's cry-do! You know I will never give up baby, and so you both say that." She sank down on the sofa, her head on her arms, her face hidden.

Her little figure lying there looked so desolate that Eve hurried forward from the window. Then she stopped, she felt that Cicely hated her.

"I say what I think will influence you," Paul was answering. "Ferdie has already thrown the boy about once; he may do it again. Of course at such times he is not responsible; but these times are increasing, and he must be brought up short; he must be brought to his senses." He went to the sofa, sat down beside her, and lifted her in his arms. "My poor little sister, do trust me. Ferdie does; he wrote to me himself about that dreadful time, that first time when he hurt you; isn't that a proof? I will show you the letter if you like."

"I don't want to see it. Ferdie and I never speak of those things; there has never been an allusion to them between us," replied Cicely, proudly.

"I can understand that. You are his wife, and I am only his big brother, to whom he has always told everything." He placed her beside him on the sofa, with his arm still round her. "Didn't you know that we still tell each other everything,-have all in common? I have been the slow member of the firm, as one may say, and so I've stayed along here; but I have always known what Ferdie was about, and have been interested in his schemes as much as he was."

"Yes, he told me that you gave him the money for South America," said Cicely, doubtfully.

"That South American investment was his own idea, and he deserves all the credit of it; he will make it a success yet. See here, Cicely: at the first intimation that he is worse, I should go down there myself as fast as boat and train could carry me; I've telegraphed to that Dr. Knox to keep me informed exactly, and, if there should be any real danger, I will take you to him instantly. But I feel certain that he will recover. And then we must cure him in another way. The trouble with Ferdie is that he is sure that he can stop at any moment, and, being so sure, he has never really tried. The thing has been on him almost from a boy, he inherits it from his father. But he has such a will, he is so brilliant-"

"Oh, yes! isn't he?" said Cicely, breathlessly.

-"That he has never considered himself in danger, in spite of these lapses. Now there is where we must get hold of him-we must open his eyes; and that is going to be the hard point, the hard work, in which, first of all, you must help. But once he is convinced, once the thing is done, then, Cicely, then"-

"Yes, then?"

-"He will be about as perfect a fellow as the world holds, I think," said Paul, with quiet enthusiasm. He stooped and kissed her cheek. "I want you to believe that I love him," he added, simply.

He got up, smiling down upon her,-"Now will you be a good girl?" he said, as though she were a child.

"I will wait until to-morrow," Cicely answered, after a moment's hesitation.

"Come, that's a concession," said Paul, applaudingly. "And now won't you do something else that will please me very much?-won't you go straight to bed?"

"A small thing to please you with," Cicely answered, without a smile; "I will go if you wish. I should like to have you know, Paul, that I came to you of my own choice," she went on; "I came to you when I would not go anywhere else; Eve will tell you so."

"Yes," assented Eve from her place by the window.

"Well, I'm glad you had some confidence," Paul responded; "I must try to give you more. And now who will-who will see to you? Does that wool-headed girl of yours know anything?"

He looked so anxious as he said this that Cicely broke into a faint laugh. "I haven't lost my mind; I can see to myself."

"But I thought you Southerners- However, Miss Bruce will help you." He looked at Eve.

"I am afraid Cicely is tired of me," Eve answered, coming forward. "All the same, I know how to take care of her."

"Yes, she took care of me all the way here," remarked Cicely, looking at Eve coldly. "She needs to be taken care of herself," she went on, in a dispassionate voice; "she has hardly closed her eyes since we started."

"I feel perfectly well," Eve answered, the color rushing to her face in a brilliant flush.

"I don't think we need borrow any trouble about Miss Bruce, she looks the image of health," observed Paul (but not as though he admired the image). "I am afraid your bedrooms are not very large," he went on, again perturbed. "There are two, side by side."

"Cicely shall have one to herself; Jack and I will take the other," said Eve.

"Where is Jack?" demanded Cicely, suddenly. "What have you done with him, Eve?"

Paul opened the door. "Polly!" he cried, in a voice that could have been heard from garret to cellar. Porley, amazed by the sound, came running in, with Jack in her arms. Paul looked at her dubiously, shook his head, and went out.

Cicely took her child, and began to play all his games with him feverishly, one after the other.

Jack was delighted; he played with all his little heart.

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