The recollection of about three days and nights succeeding this is very dim in my
mind. I can recall some sensations felt in that interval; but few thoughts framed,
and no actions performed. I knew I was in a small room and in a narrow bed. To
that bed I seemed to have grown; I lay on it motionless as a stone; and to have
torn me from it would have been almost to kill me. I took no note of the lapse of
time--of the change from morning to noon, from noon to evening. I observed
when any one entered or left the apartment: I could even tell who they were; I
could understand what was said when the speaker stood near to me; but I could
not answer; to open my lips or move my limbs was equally impossible. Hannah,
the servant, was my most frequent visitor. Her coming disturbed me. I had a
feeling that she wished me away: that she did not understand me or my
circumstances; that she was prejudiced against me. Diana and Mary appeared in
the chamber once or twice a day. They would whisper sentences of this sort at
my bedside -
"It is very well we took her in."
"Yes; she would certainly have been found dead at the door in the morning had
she been left out all night. I wonder what she has gone through?"
"Strange hardships, I imagine--poor, emaciated, pallid wanderer?"
"She is not an uneducated person, I should think, by her manner of speaking; her
accent was quite pure; and the clothes she took off, though splashed and wet,
were little worn and fine."
"She has a peculiar face; fleshless and haggard as it is, I rather like it; and when
in good health and animated, I can fancy her physiognomy would be agreeable."
Never once in their dialogues did I hear a syllable of regret at the hospitality they
had extended to me, or of suspicion of, or aversion to, myself. I was comforted.
Mr. St. John came but once: he looked at me, and said my state of lethargy was
the result of reaction from excessive and protracted fatigue. He pronounced it
needless to send for a doctor: nature, he was sure, would manage best, left to
herself. He said every nerve had been overstrained in some way, and the whole
system must sleep torpid a while. There was no disease. He imagined my
recovery would be rapid enough when once commenced. These opinions he
delivered in a few words, in a quiet, low voice; and added, after a pause, in the
tone of a man little accustomed to expansive comment, "Rather an unusual
physiognomy; certainly, not indicative of vulgarity or degradation."
"Far otherwise," responded Diana. "To speak truth, St. John, my heart rather
warms to the poor little soul. I wish we may be able to benefit her permanently."
"That is hardly likely," was the reply. "You will find she is some young lady who
has had a misunderstanding with her friends, and has probably injudiciously left
them. We may, perhaps, succeed in restoring her to them, if she is not obstinate:
but I trace lines of force in her face which make me sceptical of her tractability."
He stood considering me some minutes; then added, "She looks sensible, but not
at all handsome."
"She is so ill, St. John."