Jezebel's Daughter HTML version

Chapter II.13
Madame Fontaine instantly left her room. Alarmed by the violent ringing of the bell,
Minna followed her mother downstairs. The door of the office was open; they both saw
what had happened as soon as they reached the hall. In sending for Madame Fontaine,
Mr. Keller had placed a natural reliance on the experience and presence of mind of a
woman of her age and character. To his surprise, she seemed to be as little able to control
herself as her daughter. He was obliged to summon the assistance of the elder of the
female servants, in carrying Mrs. Wagner to her room. Jack went with them, holding one
of his mistress's helpless hands.
His first paroxysm of terror had passed away with the appearance of Mr. Keller and the
clerk, and had left his weak mind stunned by the shock that had fallen on it. He looked
about him vacantly. Once or twice, on the slow sad progress up the stairs, they heard him
whispering to himself, "She won't die--no, no, no; she won't die." His only consolation
seemed to be in that helpless confession of faith. When they laid her on the bed, he was
close at the side of the pillow. With an effort, her eyes turned on him. With an effort she
whispered, "The Key!"
He understood her--the desk downstairs had been left unlocked.
"I'll take care of the key, Mistress; I'll take care of them all," he said.
As he left the room, he repeated his comforting words, "She won't die--no, no, no; she
won't die." He locked the desk and placed the key with the rest in his bag.
Leaving the office with the bag slung over his shoulder, he stopped at the door of the
dining-room, on the opposite side of the hall. His head felt strangely dull. A sudden
suspicion that the feeling might show itself in his face, made him change his mind and
pause before he ascended the stairs. There was a looking-glass in the dining-room. He
went straight to the glass, and stood before it, studying the reflection of his face with
breathless anxiety. "Do I look stupid-mad?" he asked himself. "They won't let me be with
her; they'll send me away, if I look stupid-mad."
He turned from the glass, and dropped on his knees before the nearest chair. "Perhaps
God will keep me quiet," he thought, "if I say my prayers."
Repeating his few simple words, the poor creature's memory vaguely recalled to him the
happy time when his good mistress had first taught him his prayers. The one best relief
that could come to him, came--the relief of tears. Mr. Keller, descending to the hall in his
impatience for the arrival of the doctor, found himself unexpectedly confronted by Mrs.
Wagner's crazy attendant.
"May I go upstairs to Mistress?" Jack asked humbly. "I've said my prayers, sir, and I've
had a good cry--and my head's easier now."