Not a member?     Existing members login below:
Holidays Offer
 

The American

Chapter 19
Newman possessed a remarkable talent for sitting still when it was necessary,
and he had an opportunity to use it on his journey to Switzerland. The successive
hours of the night brought him no sleep, but he sat motionless in his corner of the
railway-carriage, with his eyes closed, and the most observant of his fellow-
travelers might have envied him his apparent slumber. Toward morning slumber
really came, as an effect of mental rather than of physical fatigue. He slept for a
couple of hours, and at last, waking, found his eyes resting upon one of the
snow-powdered peaks of the Jura, behind which the sky was just reddening with
the dawn. But he saw neither the cold mountain nor the warm sky; his
consciousness began to throb again, on the very instant, with a sense of his
wrong. He got out of the train half an hour before it reached Geneva, in the cold
morning twilight, at the station indicated in Valentin's telegram. A drowsy station-
master was on the platform with a lantern, and the hood of his overcoat over his
head, and near him stood a gentleman who advanced to meet Newman. This
personage was a man of forty, with a tall lean figure, a sallow face, a dark eye, a
neat mustache, and a pair of fresh gloves. He took off his hat, looking very grave,
and pronounced Newman's name. Our hero assented and said, "You are M. de
Bellegarde's friend?"
"I unite with you in claiming that sad honor," said the gentleman. "I had placed
myself at M. de Bellegarde's service in this melancholy affair, together with M. de
Grosjoyaux, who is now at his bedside. M. de Grosjoyaux, I believe, has had the
honor of meeting you in Paris, but as he is a better nurse than I he remained with
our poor friend. Bellegarde has been eagerly expecting you."
"And how is Bellegarde?" said Newman. "He was badly hit?"
"The doctor has condemned him; we brought a surgeon with us. But he will die in
the best sentiments. I sent last evening for the cure of the nearest French village,
who spent an hour with him. The cure was quite satisfied."
"Heaven forgive us!" groaned Newman. "I would rather the doctor were satisfied!
And can he see me--shall he know me?"
"When I left him, half an hour ago, he had fallen asleep after a feverish, wakeful
night. But we shall see." And Newman's companion proceeded to lead the way
out of the station to the village, explaining as he went that the little party was
lodged in the humblest of Swiss inns, where, however, they had succeeded in
making M. de Bellegarde much more comfortable than could at first have been
expected. "We are old companions in arms," said Valentin's second; "it is not the
first time that one of us has helped the other to lie easily. It is a very nasty
wound, and the nastiest thing about it is that Bellegarde's adversary was not
shot. He put his bullet where he could. It took it into its head to walk straight into
Bellegarde's left side, just below the heart."
As they picked their way in the gray, deceptive dawn, between the manure-heaps
of the village street, Newman's new acquaintance narrated the particulars of the
duel. The conditions of the meeting had been that if the first exchange of shots
 
Remove