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"Apply to my friend, there," he said; "he has got a much better account of it than I
can give you. If you'll believe me, he took it all down in writing from my own
lips; and he made me sign it at the end, as if it was my 'last dying speech and
confession' before I went to the gallows. Out with it, old boy--I saw you put it in
your pocket-book--out with it!"
"Are you really in earnest?" asked Midwinter, producing his pocketbook with a
reluctance which was almost offensive under the circumstances, for it implied
distrust of the doctor in the doctor's own house.
Mr. Hawbury's color rose. "Pray don't show it to me, if you feel the least
unwillingness," he said, with the elaborate politeness of an offended man.
"Stuff and nonsense!" cried Allan. "Throw it over here!"
Instead of complying with that characteristic request, Midwinter took the paper
from the pocket-book, and, leaving his place, approached Mr. Hawbury. "I beg
your pardon," he said, as he offered the doctor the manuscript with his own hand.
His eyes dropped to the ground, and his face darkened, while he made the
apology. "A secret, sullen fellow," thought the doctor, thanking him with formal
civility; "his friend is worth ten thousand of him." Midwinter went back to the
window, and sat down again in silence, with the old impenetrable resignation
which had once puzzled Mr. Brock.
"Read that, doctor," said Allan, as Mr. Hawbury opened the written paper. "It's
not told in my roundabout way; but there's nothing added to it, and nothing taken
away. It's exactly what I dreamed, and exactly what I should have written myself,
if I had thought the thing worth putting down on paper, and if I had had the knack
of writing--which," concluded Allan, composedly stirring his coffee, "I haven't,
except it's letters; and I rattle them off in no time."
Mr. Hawbury spread the manuscript before him on the breakfast-table, and read
these lines:
"Early on the morning of June the first, eighteen hundred and fifty-one, I found
myself (through circumstances which it is not important to mention in this place)
left alone with a friend of mine--a young man about my own age--on board the
French timber-ship named La Grace de Dieu, which ship then lay wrecked in the
channel of the Sound between the main-land of the Isle of Man and the islet called
the Calf. Having not been in bed the previous night, and feeling overcome by
fatigue, I fell asleep on the deck of the vessel. I was in my usual good health at the
time, and the morning was far enough advanced for the sun to have risen. Under
these circumstances, and at that period of the day, I passed from sleeping to
dreaming. As clearly as I can recollect it, after the lapse of a few hours, this was
the succession of events presented to me by the dream:
"1. The first event of which I was conscious was the appearance of my father. He
took me silently by the hand; and we found ourselves in the cabin of a ship.
"2. Water rose slowly over us in the cabin; and I and my father sank through the
water together.
"3. An interval of oblivion followed; and then the sense came to me of being left
alone in the darkness.
"4. I waited.