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The Guilty River

14. Gloody Settles The Account
A night of fever; a night, when I did slumber for a few minutes, of horrid dreams--this
was what I might have expected, and this is what really happened. The fresh morning air,
flowing through my open window, cooled and composed me; the mercy of sleep found
me. When I woke, and looked at my watch, I was a new man. The hour was noon.
I rang my bell. The servant announced that a man was waiting to see me. "The same man,
sir, who was found in the garden, looking at your flowers." I at once gave directions to
have him shown up into my bedroom. The delay of dressing was more than I had
patience to encounter. Unless I was completely mistaken, here was the very person whom
I wanted to enlighten me.
Gloody showed himself at the door, with a face ominously wretched, as well as ugly. I
instantly thought of Cristel.
"If you bring me bad news," I said, "don't keep me waiting for it."
"It's nothing that need trouble You, sir. I'm dismissed from my master's service--that's
all."
It was plainly not "all." Relieved even by that guarded reply, I pointed to a chair by the
bedside.
"Do you believe that I mean well by you?" I asked.
"I do, sir, with all my heart."
"Then sit down, Gloody, and make a clean breast of it."
He lifted his enormous fist, by way of emphasizing his answer.
"I was within a hair's breadth, sir, of striking him. If I hadn't kept my temper, I might
have killed him."
"What did he do?"
"Flew into a furious rage. I don't complain of that; I daresay I deserved it. Please to
excuse my getting up again. I can't look you in the face, and tell you of it." He walked
away to the window. "Even a poor devil, like me, does sometimes feel it when he is
insulted. Mr. Roylake, he kicked me. Say no more about it, sir! I would never have
mentioned it, if I hadn't had something else to tell you; only I don't know how." In this
difficulty, he came back to my bedside. "Look here, sir! What I say is--that kick has
wiped out the debt of thanks I owe him. Yes. I say the account between us two is settled
now, on both sides. In two words, sir, if you mean to charge him before the magistrates
 
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