Armadale HTML version

"I said yes, and got away from him at last. In a quarter of an hour more I was back
at my lodgings, and was informed by the servant that 'the elderly gentleman' was
still waiting for me.
"I have not got the heart or the patience--I hardly know which--to waste many
words on what passed between me and Bashwood. It was so easy, so degradingly
easy, to pull the strings of the poor old puppet in any way I pleased! I met none of
the difficulties which I should have been obliged to meet in the case of a younger
man, or of a man less infatuated with admiration for me. I left the allusions to
Miss Milroy in Armadale's letter, which had naturally puzzled him, to be
explained at a future time. I never even troubled myself to invent a plausible
reason for wishing him to meet Armadale at the terminus, and to entrap him by a
stratagem into the doctor's Sanitarium. All that I found it necessary to do was to
refer to what I had written to Mr. Bashwood, on my arrival in London, and to
what I had afterward said to him, when he came to answer my letter personally at
the hotel.
"'You know already,' I said, 'that my marriage has not been a happy one. Draw
your own conclusions from that; and don't press me to tell you whether the news
of Mr. Armadale's rescue from the sea is, or is not, the welcome news that it ought
to be to his wife!' That was enough to put his withered old face in a glow, and to
set his withered old hopes growing again. I had only to add, 'If you will do what I
ask you to do, no matter how incomprehensible and how mysterious my request
may seem to be; and if you will accept my assurances that you shall run no risk
yourself, and that you shall receive the proper explanations at the proper time, you
will have such a claim on my gratitude and my regard as no man living has ever
had yet!' I had only to say those words, and to point them by a look and a stolen
pressure of his hand, and I had him at my feet, blindly eager to obey me. If he
could have seen what I thought of myself; but that doesn't matter: he saw nothing.
"Hours have passed since I sent him away (pledged to secrecy, possessed of his
instructions, and provided with his time-table) to the hotel near the terminus, at
which he is to stay till Armadale appears on the railway platform. The excitement
of the earlier part of the evening has all worn off; and the dull, numbed sensation
has got me again. Are my energies wearing out, I wonder, just at the time when I
most want them? Or is some foreshadowing of disaster creeping over me which I
don't yet understand?
"I might be in a humor to sit here for some time longer, thinking thoughts like
these, and letting them find their way into words at their own will and pleasure, if
my Diary would only let me. But my idle pen has been busy enough to make its
way to the end of the volume. I have reached the last morsel of space left on the
last page; and whether I like it or not, I must close the book this time for good and
all, when I close it to-night.
"Good-by, my old friend and companion of many a miserable day! Having
nothing else to be fond of, I half suspect myself of having been unreasonably fond
of you.
"What a fool I am!"