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V.1. At The Terminus
On the night of the 2d of December, Mr. Bashwood took up his post of
observation at the terminus of the South-eastern Railway for the first time. It was
an earlier date, by six days, than the date which Allan had himself fixed for his
return. But the doctor, taking counsel of his medical experience, had considered it
just probable that "Mr. Armadale might be perverse enough, at his enviable age,
to recover sooner than his medical advisers might have anticipated." For caution's
sake, therefore, Mr. Bashwood was instructed to begin watching the arrival of the
tidal trains on the day after he had received his employer's letter.
From the 2d to the 7th of December, the steward waited punctually on the
platform, saw the trains come in, and satisfied himself, evening after evening, that
the travelers were all strangers to him. From the 2d to the 7th of December, Miss
Gwilt (to return to the name under which she is best known in these pages)
received his daily report, sometimes delivered personally, sometimes sent by
letter. The doctor, to whom the reports were communicated, received them in his
turn with unabated confidence in the precautions that had been adopted up to the
morning of the 8th. On that date the irritation of continued suspense had produced
a change for the worse in Miss Gwilt's variable temper, which was perceptible to
every one about her, and which, strangely enough, was reflected by an equally
marked change in the doctor's manner when he came to pay his usual visit. By a
coincidence so extraordinary that his enemies might have suspected it of not being
a coincidence at all, the morning on which Miss Gwilt lost her patience proved to
be also the morning on which the doctor lost his confidence for the first time.
"No news, of course," he said, sitting down with a heavy sigh. "Well! well!"
Miss Gwilt looked up at him irritably from her work.
"You seem strangely depressed this morning," she said. "What are you afraid of
"The imputation of being afraid, madam," answered the doctor, solemnly, "is not
an imputation to cast rashly on any man--even when he belongs to such an
essentially peaceful profession as mine. I am not afraid. I am (as you more
correctly put it in the first instance) strangely depressed. My nature is, as you
know, naturally sanguine, and I only see to-day what but for my habitual
hopefulness I might have seen, and ought to have seen, a week since."
Miss Gwilt impatiently threw down her work. "If words cost money," she said,
"the luxury of talking would be rather an expensive luxury in your case!"
"Which I might have seen, and ought to have seen," reiterated the doctor, without
taking the slightest notice of the interruption, "a week since. To put it plainly, I
feel by no means so certain as I did that Mr. Armadale will consent, without a
struggle, to the terms which it is my interest (and in a minor degree yours) to
impose on him. Observe! I don't question our entrapping him successfully into the
Sanitarium: I only doubt whether he will prove quite as manageable as I originally