The Heir of Redclyffe HTML version

Chapter 38
The coldness from my heart is gone,
But still the weight is there,
And thoughts which I abhor will come
To tempt me to despair.--SOUTHEY
Amabel's one anxiety was for Philip. For a long time nothing was heard of him at
Hollywell, and she began to fear that he might have been less fit to take care of himself
than he had persuaded her to believe. When at length tidings reached them, it was
through the De Courcys. 'Poor Morville,' wrote Maurice, 'had been carried ashore at
Corfu, in the stupor of a second attack of fever. He had been in extreme danger for some
time, and though now on the mend, was still unable to give any account of himself.'
In effect, it was a relapse of the former disease, chiefly affecting the brain, and his
impatience to leave Recoara, and free himself from Arnaud, had been a symptom of its
approach, though it fortunately did not absolutely overpower him till after he had
embarked for Corfu, and was in the way to be tended with the greatest solicitude. Long
after the fever was subdued, and his strength returning, his mind was astray, and even
when torturing delusions ceased, and he resumed the perception of surrounding objects,
memory and reflection wavered in dizzy confusion, more distressing than either his
bodily weakness, or the perpetual pain in his head, which no remedy could relieve.
The first date to which he could afterwards recur, though for more than a week he had
apparently been fully himself, was a time when he was sitting in an easy-chair by the
window, obliged to avert his heavy eyes from the dazzling waters of the Corcyran bay,
where Ulysses' transformed ship gleamed in the sunshine, and the rich purple hills of
Albania sloped upwards in the distance. James Thorndale was, as usual, with him, and
was explaining that there had been a consultation between the doctor and the colonel, and
they had decided that as there was not much chance of restoring his health in that climate
in the spring.
'Spring!' he interrupted, with surprise and eagerness, 'Is it spring?'
'Hardly--except that there is no winter here. This is the 8th of January.'
He let his head fall on his hand again, and listened with indifference when told he was to
be sent to England at once, under the care of his servant, Bolton, and Mr. Thorndale
himself, who was resolved to see him safe in his sister's hands. He made no objection; he
had become used to be passive, and one place was much the same to him as another; so
he merely assented, without a question about the arrangements. Presently, however, he
looked up, and inquired for his letters. Though he had done so before, the request had
always been evaded, until now he spoke in a manner which decided his friend on giving
him all except one with broad black edges, and Broadstone post-mark; the effect of
which, it was thought, might be very injurious to his shattered nerves and spirits.