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assurance that you alone, of all men, have ever broken my rest. To be sure, it
was only for about three nights in all; but that is too much."
The Captain had le coeur navre. He took his portfolio under his arm, made up the
little valise of a pedestrian, and, without saying a word to anyone, wandered off
at random among the mountains.
After the lapse of a day or two, the Captain was missed, and everyone marvelled
what was become of him. Mr. Philpot thought he must have been exploring a
river, and fallen in and got drowned in the process. Mr. Firedamp had no doubt
he had been crossing a mountain bog, and had been suddenly deprived of life by
the exhalations of marsh miasmata. Mr. Henbane deemed it probable that he had
been tempted in some wood by the large black brilliant berries of the Atropa
Belladonna, or Deadly Nightshade; and lamented that he had not been by, to
administer an infallible antidote. Mr. Eavesdrop hoped the particulars of his fate
would be ascertained; and asked if anyone present could help him to any
authentic anecdotes of their departed friend. The Reverend Doctor Folliott
proposed that an inquiry should be instituted as to whether the march of intellect
had reached that neighbourhood, as, if so, the Captain had probably been made
a subject for science. Mr. Mac Quedy said it was no such great matter to
ascertain the precise mode in which the surplus population was diminished by
one. Mr. Toogood asseverated that there was no such thing as surplus
population, and that the land, properly managed, would maintain twenty times its
present inhabitants; and hereupon they fell into a disputation.
Lady Clarinda did not doubt that the Captain had gone away designedly; she
missed him more than she could have anticipated, and wished she had at least
postponed her last piece of cruelty till the completion of their homeward voyage.