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Chapter 7

It was clear dawn, and there was confusion at the Porta San Giovanni. Mommo had wakened, red-eyed and cross as usual, a little while before reaching the gate, and had uttered several strange noises to quicken the pace of his mules. After that, everything had happened as usual, for a little while; he had stopped inside the walls before the guard-house of the city customs, had nodded to the octroi inspectors, and had got his money ready while the printed receipt was being filled out. Then the excitement had begun.

"You have a passenger," said one, and Mommo stared at him, not understanding.

"You have a dead man on behind!" yelled a small boy, standing at safe distance.

Mommo began to swear, but one of the inspectors stopped him.

"Get down," said the man. "The carabineers are coming."

Mommo finished his swearing internally, but with increased fervour. The small boy was joined by others, and they began to jeer in chorus, and perform war-dances.

"There is a tax on dead men!" they screamed. "You must pay!"

"May you all be butchered!" shouted Mommo, in a voice of thunder. "May your insides be fried!"

"Brute beast, without education!" hooted the biggest boy, contemptuously.

"I'll give you the education, and the instruction too," retorted the carter, making at them with his long whip.

They scattered in all directions, like a flock of cawing jackdaws that fly a little way in tremendous haste, and then settle again at a distance and caw louder than before.

"Animal!" they yelled. "Animal! Animal and beast!"

By this time a crowd had collected round the cart, and two carabineers had come up to see what was the matter, quiet, sensible men in extraordinary cocked hats and well-fitting swallow-tailed uniforms of the fashion of 1810. The carabineers are quite the finest corps in the Italian service, and there are a good many valid reasons why their antiquated dress should not be changed. Their presence means law and order without unnecessary violence.

Mommo was surly, but respectful enough. Yes, it was his cart, and he was a regular carter on the Frascati road. Yes, this was undoubtedly a sick man, who had climbed upon the cart while Mommo was asleep. Of course he had slept on the road, all carters did, and he had no dog, else no one would have dared to take liberties with his cart. No, he had never seen the sick man. The carabineers might send him to penal servitude for life, tear out his tongue, cut off his ears and nose, load him with chains, and otherwise annoy him, but he had never seen the sick man. If he had seen him, he would have pulled him off, and kicked him all the way to the hospital, where he ought to be. What right had such brigands as sick men to tamper with the carts of honest people? If the fellow had legs to jump upon the cart, he had legs to walk. Had Mommo ever done anything wrong in his life, that this should be done to him? Had he stolen, or killed anybody, or tried to evade the octroi duty? No. Then why should an ugly thief of a sick man climb upon his cart? The wretch had hardly clothes enough to cover him decently--a torn shirt and a pair of old trousers that he must have stolen, for they were much too short for him! And so on, and so forth, to the crowd, for the carabineers paid no more attention to him after he had answered their first questions; but the crowd listened with interest, the small boys drew near again, the octroi inspectors looked on, and Mommo had a sympathetic audience. It was the general opinion that he had been outrageously put upon, and that some one had murdered the sick man, and had tied the body to the cart in order that Mommo should be accused of the crime, it being highly likely that a murderer should take so much unnecessary trouble to carry his victim and the evidence of his crime about with him in such a very public manner.

"If he were dead, now," observed an old peasant, who had trudged in with a bundle on his back, "you would immediately be sent to the galleys."

This was so evident that the crowd felt very sorry for Mommo.

"Of course I should," he answered. "By this time to-morrow I should have chains on my legs, and be breaking stones! What is the law for, I should like to know?"

Meanwhile, the carabineers had lifted Marcello very gently from the cart and had carried him into the octroi guard-house, where they set him in a chair, wrapped the ragged blanket round his knees and waist, and poured a little wine down his throat. Seeing that he was very weak, and having ascertained that he had nothing whatever about him by which he could be identified, they sent for the municipal doctor of that quarter of the city.

While they were busy within, one of the inspectors chanced to look at the closed window, and saw the face of a handsome girl pressed against the pane outside, and a pair of dark eyes anxiously watching what was going on. The girl was so very uncommonly handsome that the inspector went out to look at her, but she saw him coming and moved away, drawing her cotton kerchief half across her face. Regina's only fear was that Mommo might recognise her, in which case she would inevitably be questioned by the carabineers. It was characteristic of the class in which she had been brought up, that while she entertained a holy dread of being cross-questioned by them, she felt the most complete conviction that Marcello was safe in their hands. She had meant that he should somehow be taken off the cart at the gate, probably by the inspectors, and conveyed at once to the great hospital near by. She knew nothing about hospitals, and supposed that when he was once there, she might be allowed to come and take care of him. It would be easy, she thought, to invent some story to account for her interest in him. But she could do nothing until Mommo was gone, and he might recognise her figure even if he could not see her face.

Finding that nothing more was wanted of him, and that he was in no immediate danger of penal servitude for having been found with a sick man on his cart, Mommo started his mules up the paved hill towards the church, walking beside them, as the carters mostly do within the city. The crowd dispersed, the small boys went off in search of fresh matter for contemptuous comment, and Regina went boldly to the door of the guard-house.

"Can I be of any use with the sick man?" she asked of the inspector who had seen her through the window.

The inspector prided himself on his gallantry and good education.

"Signorina," he said, lifting his round hat with a magnificent gesture, "if you were to look only once at a dying man, he would revive and live a thousand years."

He made eyes at her in a manner he considered irresistible, and replaced his hat on his head, a little on one side. Regina had never been called "Signorina" before, and she was well aware that no woman who wears a kerchief out of doors, instead of a hat, is entitled to be addressed as a lady in Rome; but she was not at all offended by the rank flattery of the speech, and she saw that the inspector was a good-natured young coxcomb.

"You are too kind," she answered politely. "Do you think I can be of any use?"

"There are the carabineers," objected the inspector, as if that were a sufficient answer. "But you may look in through the door and see the sick man."

"I have seen him through the window. He looks very ill."

"Ah, Signorina," sighed the youth, "if I were ill, I should pray the saints to send you--"

He was interrupted by the arrival of the doctor, who asked him what was the matter, and was at once led in by him. Regina withdrew to a little distance in the direction of the church and waited. The doctor had come in a cab, and in a few moments she saw Marcello carried out and placed in it. Then she walked as fast as she could towards the church, quite sure that the cab would stop at the door of the hospital, and anxious to be within sight of it. Everything had turned out well, even beyond her expectations. The cab passed her at a brisk pace before she reached the top of the hill, and though she walked as fast as she could, it was no longer there when she had gone far enough to see the door. The doctor, who was a busy man, had handed Marcello over to the men on duty at the entrance, with an order he had pencilled on his card while driving up, and had gone on at once. But Regina was convinced that Marcello was there, as she hurried forward.

A man in blue linen clothes and a laced cap stopped her on the steps and asked what she wanted.

"A young man has just been brought here, very ill," she explained, "and I want to see him."

"A very young man? Fair? Thin? From the Campagna? In rags?"

"Yes. I want to see him."

"You can see him to-morrow, if he is alive," answered the orderly in a business-like tone.

"To-morrow?" repeated Regina, in a tone of profound disappointment.

"To-morrow is Sunday. Friends and relatives can visit patients on Sundays between nine and four."

"But he has no other friends," pleaded Regina. "Please, please let me go to him!"

"To-morrow between nine and four."

"No, no--to-day--now--he knows me--my name is Regina."

"Not if you were the Queen of the world," answered the orderly, jesting with perfect calm. "You must have a written order from the Superintendent."

"Yes, yes! Let me see him!"

"You can see him on Mondays between ten and twelve."

"The day after to-morrow?" cried Regina in despair.

"Yes, between ten and twelve, the day after to-morrow."

"But I may come to-morrow without an order?"

"Yes. Friends and relatives can visit patients on Sundays between nine and four."

The man's imperturbability was exasperating, and Regina, who was not patient, felt that if she stayed any longer she should try to take him by the collar, shake him, and force her way in. But she was much too sensible to do anything so rash. There was no choice but to go away.

"Thank you," she said, as she turned to go down the steps.

"You are welcome," the man answered very civilly, for he was watching her and was reflecting that he had never seen such a face and figure before.

Some hours later, when the police communicated with the Superintendent, and when he found that a woman had come to the door who said that she knew the waif, and had been sent away, he called the orderly who had been on duty several hard names in his heart for having followed the rule of the hospital so scrupulously. He was an antediluvian, he was a case of arrested mental development, he was an ichthyosaurus, he was a new kind of idiot, he was a monumental fool, he was the mammoth ass reported to have been seen by a mediŠval traveller in the desert, that was forty cubits high, and whose braying was like the blast of ten thousand trumpets. The Superintendent wished he had time to select more choice epithets for that excellent orderly, but the police seemed so particularly curious about the new patient that he had no leisure for thinking out what he wanted.

Nevertheless, the man had done his duty and nothing more nor less according to the rules, and Regina was forced to go away discomfited.

She walked a hundred yards or more down the hill, towards San Clemente, and then stood still to think. The sun had risen, and Marcello was safe, though she could not see him. That was something. She stood there, young, strong, beautiful, and absolutely penniless; and Rome was before her.

For the first time since the previous evening she asked herself what was to become of her, and how she was to find bread for that day and for the next, and for all the days afterwards. She would have robbed a church to feed Marcello, but she would sooner have lost her right hand than steal so much as a crust for herself. As for begging, she was too proud, and besides, no one would have given her anything, for she was the picture of health, her rough clothes were whole and clean, she had tiny gold earrings in her ears, and the red and yellow cotton kerchief on her head was as good as new. Nobody would believe that she was hungry.

Meanwhile Marcello was made comfortable in one of the narrow white beds of an airy ward in the San Giovanni hospital. The institution is intended for women only, but there is now a ward for male patients, who are admitted when too ill to be taken farther. The doctor on duty had written him down as much reduced by malarious fever and wandering in his mind, but added that he might live and get well. It was wonderful, the doctor reflected for the thousandth time in his short experience, that humanity should bear so much as it daily did.

The visiting physician, who was a man of learning and reputation, came three hours later and examined Marcello with interest. The boy had not suffered much by sleeping on the tail of the cart in the warm summer's night, and was now greatly refreshed by the cleanliness and comparative luxury of his new surroundings. He had no fever now and had slept quietly for two hours, but when he tried to remember what had happened to him, where he had been, and how he had come to the place where he was, it all grew vague and intricate by turns, and his memories faded away like the dreams we try to recall when we can only just recollect that we have had a dream of some sort. He knew that he was called Marcello, but the rest was gone; he knew that a beautiful creature had taken care of him, and that her name was Regina. How long? How many days and nights had he lain in the attic, hot by day and cold at night? He could not guess, and it tired him to try.

The doctor asked two or three questions while he examined him, and then stood quite still for a few seconds, watching him intently. The two young house surgeons who accompanied the great man kept a respectful silence, waiting for his opinion. When he found an interesting case he sometimes delivered a little lecture on it, in a quiet monotonous tone that did not disturb the other patients. But to-day he did not seem inclined to talk.

"Convalescent," he said, "at least of the fever. He needs good food more than anything else. In two days he will be walking about."

He passed on, but in his own mind he was wondering what was the matter with the young man, why he had lost his memory, and what accident had brought him alone and friendless to one of the city hospitals. For the present it would be better to let him alone rather than tire him by a thorough examination of his head. There was probably a small fracture somewhere at the back of the skull, the doctor thought, and it would be easy enough to find it when the patient was strong enough to sit up.

The doctor had not been long gone when an elderly man with a grizzled moustache and thoughtful eyes was led to Marcello's bedside by the Superintendent himself. The appearance of the latter at an unusual hour was always an event in the ward, and the nurses watched him with curiosity. They would have been still more curious had they known that the elderly gentleman was the Chief of the Police himself. The Superintendent raised his hand to motion them away.

"What is your name, sir?" asked the Chief, bending down and speaking in a low voice.

"Marcello."

"Yes," replied the other, almost in a whisper, "you are Marcello. But what else? What is your family name? It is very important. Will you tell me?"

The vague look came into Marcello's eyes, and then the look of pain, and he shook his head rather feebly.

"I cannot remember," he answered at last. "It hurts me to remember."

"Is it Consalvi?" asked the officer, smiling encouragement.

"Consalvi?" Marcello's eyes wandered, as he tried to think. "I cannot remember," he said again after an interval.

The Chief of Police was not discouraged yet.

"You were knocked down and robbed by thieves, just after you had been talking with Aurora," he said, inventing what he believed to have happened.

A faint light came into Marcello's eyes.

"Aurora?" He repeated the name almost eagerly.

"Yes. You had been talking to Signorina Aurora dell' Armi. You remember that?"

The light faded suddenly.

"I thought I remembered something," answered Marcello. "Aurora? Aurora? No, it is gone. I was dreaming again. I want to sleep now."

The Chief stood upright and looked at the Superintendent, who looked at him, and both shook their heads. Then they asked what the visiting doctor had said, and what directions he had given about Marcello's treatment.

"I am sure it is he," said the Chief of Police when they were closeted in the Superintendent's office, five minutes later. "I have studied his photograph every day for nearly three months. Look at it."

He produced a good-sized photograph of Marcello which had been taken about a year earlier, but was the most recent. The Superintendent looked at it critically, and said it was not much like the patient. The official objected that a man who was half dead of fever and had lain starving for weeks, heaven only knew where, could hardly be quite himself in appearance. The Superintendent pointed out that this was precisely the difficulty; the photograph was not like the sick man. But the Chief politely insisted that it was. They differed altogether on this point, but quarrelled over it in the most urbane manner possible.

The Superintendent suggested that it would be easy to identify Marcello Consalvi, by bringing people who knew him to his bedside, servants and others. The official answered that he should prefer to be sure of everything before calling in any one else. The patient had evidently lost his memory by some accident, and if he could not recall his own name it was not likely that he could recognise a face. Servants would swear that it was he, or not he, just as their interest suggested. Most of the people of his own class who knew him were out of town at the present season; and besides, the upper classes were not, in the Chief's opinion, a whit more intelligent or trustworthy than those that served them. The world, said the Chief, was an exceedingly bad place. That this was true, the Superintendent could not doubt, and he admitted the fact; but he was not sure how the Chief was applying the statement of it in his own reasoning. Perhaps he thought that some persons might have an interest in recognising Marcello.

"In the meantime," said the Chief, rising to go away, "we will put him in a private room, where we shall not be watched by everybody when we come to see him. I have funds from Corbario to pay any possible expenses in the case."

"Who is that man?" asked the Superintendent. "There has been a great deal of talk about him in the papers since his stepson was lost. What was he before he married the rich widow?"

The Chief of Police did not reply at once, but lit a cigarette preparatory to going away, smoothed his hat on his arm, and flicked a tiny speck of dust from the lapel of his well-made coat. Then he smiled pleasantly and gave his answer.

"I suppose that before he married Consalvi's widow he was a gentleman of small means, like many others. Why should you think that he was ever anything else?"

To this direct question the Superintendent had no answer ready, nor, in fact, had the man who asked it, though he had looked so very wise. Then they glanced at each other and both laughed a little, and they parted.

Half an hour later, Marcello was carried to an airy room with green blinds, and was made even more comfortable than he had been before. He slept, and awoke, and ate and slept again. Twice during the afternoon people were brought to see him. They were servants from the villa on the Janiculum, but he looked at them dully and said that he could not remember them.

"We do not think it is he," they said, when questioned. "Why does he not know us, if it is he? We are old servants in the house. We carried the young gentleman in our arms when he was small. But this youth does not know us, nor our names. It is not he."

They were dismissed, and afterwards they met and talked up at the villa.

"The master has been sent for by telegraph," they said one to another. "We shall do what he says. If he tells us that it is the young gentleman we will also say that it is; but if he says it is not he, we will also deny it. This is the only way."

Having decided upon this diplomatic course as the one most likely to prove advantageous to them, they went back to their several occupations and amusements. But at the very first they said what they really thought; none of them really believed the sick youth at the hospital to be Marcello. An illness of nearly seven weeks and a long course of privation can make a terrible difference in the looks of a very young person, and when the memory is gone, too, the chances of his being recognised are slight.

But the Chief of Police was not disturbed in his belief, and after he had smoked several cigarettes very thoughtfully in his private office, he wrote a telegram to Corbario, advising him to come back to Rome at once. He was surprised to receive an answer from Folco late that night, inquiring why he was wanted. To this he replied in a second telegram of more length, which explained matters clearly. The next morning Corbario telegraphed that he was starting.

The visiting physician came early and examined Marcello's head with the greatest minuteness. After much trouble he found what he was looking for--a very slight depression in the skull. There was no sign of a wound that had healed, and it was clear that the injury must have been either the result of a fall, in which case the scalp had been protected by a stiff hat, or else of a blow dealt with something like a sandbag, which had fractured the bone without leaving any mark beyond a bruise, now no longer visible.

"It is my opinion," said the doctor, "that as soon as the pressure is removed the man's memory will come back exactly as it was before. We will operate next week, when he has gained a little more strength. Feed him and give him plenty of air, for he is very weak."

So he went away for the day. But presently Regina came and demanded admittance according to the promise she had received, and she was immediately brought to the Superintendent's office, for he had given very clear instructions to this effect in case the girl came again. He had not told the Chief of Police about her, for he thought it would be amusing to do a little detective work on his own account, and he anticipated the triumph of finding out Marcello's story alone, and of then laying the facts before the authorities, just to show what ordinary common sense could do without the intervention of the law.

Regina was ushered into the high cool room where the Superintendent sat alone, and the heavy door closed behind her. He was a large man with close-cropped hair and a short brown beard, and he had kind brown eyes. Regina came forward a few steps and then stood still, looking at him, and waiting for him to speak. He was astonished at her beauty, and at once decided that she had a romantic attachment for Marcello, and probably knew all about him. He leaned back in his chair, and pointed to a seat near him.

"Pray sit down," he said. "I wish to have a little talk with you before you go upstairs to see Marcello."

"How is he?" asked Regina, eagerly. "Is he worse?"

"He is much better. But sit down, if you please. You shall stay with him as long as you like, or as long as it is good for him. You may come every day if you wish it."

"Every day?" cried Regina in delight. "They told me that I could only come on Sunday."

"Yes. That is the rule, my dear child. But I can give you permission to come every day, and as the poor young man seems to have no friends, it is very fortunate for him that you can be with him. You will cheer him and help him to get well."

"Thank you, thank you!" answered the girl fervently, as she sat down.

A great lady of Rome had been to see the Superintendent about a patient on the previous afternoon; he did not remember that she moved with more dignity than this peasant girl, or with nearly as much grace. Regina swept the folds of her short coarse skirt forward and sideways a little, so that they hid her brown woollen ankles as she took her seat, and with the other hand she threw back the end of the kerchief from her face.

"You do not mind telling me your name?" said the Superintendent in a questioning tone.

"Spalletta Regina," answered the girl promptly, putting her family name first, according to Italian custom. "I am of Rocca di Papa."

"Thank you. I shall remember that. And you say that you know this poor young man. Now, what is his name, if you please? He does not seem able to remember anything about himself."

"I have always called him Marcello," answered Regina.

"Indeed? You call him Marcello? Yes, yes. Thank you. But, you know, we like to write down the full name of each patient in our books. Marcello, and then? What else?"

By this time Regina felt quite at her ease with the pleasant-spoken gentleman, but in a flash it occurred to her that he would think it very strange if she could not answer such a simple question about a young man she professed to know very well.

"His name is Botti," she said, with no apparent hesitation, and giving the first name that occurred to her.

"Thank you. I shall enter him in the books as 'Botti Marcello.'"

"Yes. That is the name." She watched the Superintendent's pen, though she could not read writing very well.

"Thank you," he said, as he stuck the pen into a little pot of small-shot before him, and then looked at his watch. "The nurse is probably just making him comfortable after the doctor's morning visit, so you had better wait five minutes, if you do not mind. Besides, it will help us a good deal if you will tell me something about his illness. I suppose you have taken care of him."

"As well as I could," Regina answered.

"Where? At Rocca di Papa? The air is good there."

"No, it was not in the village." The girl hesitated a moment, quickly making up her mind how much of the truth to tell. "You see," she continued presently, "I was only the servant girl there, and I saw that the people meant to let him die, because he was a burden on them. So I wrapped him in a blanket and carried him downstairs in the night."

"You carried him down?" The Superintendent look at her in admiration.

"Oh, yes," answered Regina quietly. "I could carry you up and down stairs easily. Do you wish to see?"

The Superintendent laughed, for she actually made a movement as if she were going to leave her seat and pick him up.

"Thank you," he said. "I quite believe you. What a nurse you would make! You say that you carried him down in the night--and then? What did you do?"

"I laid him on the tail of a cart. The carter was asleep. I walked behind to the gate, for I was sure that when he was found he would be brought here, and that he would have care, and would get well."

"Was it far to walk?" inquired the Superintendent, delighted with the result of his efforts as a detective. "You must have been very tired!"

"What is it to walk all night, if one carries no load on one's head?" asked Regina with some scorn. "I walk as I breathe."

"You walked all night, then? That was Friday night. I do not wish to keep you, my dear child, but if you would tell me how long Botti has been ill--" he waited.

"This is the forty-ninth day," Regina answered at once.

"Dear me! Poor boy! That is a long time!"

"I stole eggs and wine to keep him alive," the girl explained. "They tried to make me give him white beans and oil. They wanted him to die, because he was an expense to them."

"Who were those people?" asked the Superintendent, putting the question suddenly.

But Regina had gained time to prepare her story.

"Why should I tell you who they are?" she asked. "They did no harm, after all, and they let him lie in their house. At first they hoped he would get well, but you know how it is in the country. When sick people linger on, every one wishes them to die, because they are in the way, and cost money. That is how it is."

"But you wished him to live," said the Superintendent in an encouraging tone.

Regina shrugged her shoulders and smiled, without the slightest affectation or shyness.

"What could I do?" she asked. "A passion for him had taken me, the first time that I saw him. So I stole for him, and sat up with him, and did what was possible. He lay in an attic with only one blanket, and my heart spoke. What could I do? If he had died I should have thrown myself into the water below the mill."

Now there had been no mill within many miles of the inn on the Frascati road, in which there could be water in summer. Regina was perfectly sincere in describing her love for Marcello, but as she was a clever woman she knew that it was precisely when she was speaking with the greatest sincerity about one thing, that she could most easily throw a man off the scent with regard to another. The Superintendent mentally noted the allusion to the mill for future use; it had created an image in his mind; it meant that the place where Marcello had lain ill had been in the hills and probably near Tivoli, where there is much water and mills are plentiful.

"I suppose he was a poor relation of the people," said the Superintendent thoughtfully, after a little pause. "That is why they wished to get rid of him."

Regina made a gesture of indifferent assent, and told something like the truth.

"He had not been there since I had been servant to them," she answered. "It must have been a long time since they had seen him. We found him early in the morning, lying unconscious against the door of the house, and we took him in. That is the whole story. Why should I tell you who the people are? I have eaten their bread, I have left them, I wish them no harm. They knew their business."

"Certainly, my dear, certainly. I suppose I may say that Marcello Botti comes from Rocca di Papa?"

"Oh, yes," answered Regina readily. "You may say that, if you like."

As a matter of fact she did not care what he wrote in his big book, and he might as well write one name as another, so far as she was concerned.

"But I never saw him there," she added by an afterthought. "There are many people of that name in our village, but I never saw him. Perhaps you had better say that he came from Albano."

"Why from Albano?" asked the Superintendent, surprised.

"It is a bigger place," explained Regina quite naturally.

"Then I might as well write 'Rome' at once?"

"Yes. Why not? If you must put down the name of a town in the book, you had better write a big one. You will be less likely to be found out if you have made a mistake."

"I see," said the Superintendent, smiling. "I am much obliged for your advice. And now, if you will come with me, you shall see Botti. He has a room by himself and is very well cared for."

The orderlies and nurses who came and went about the hospital glanced with a little discreet surprise at the handsome peasant girl who followed the Superintendent, but she paid no attention to them and looked straight before her, at the back of his head; for her heart was beating faster than if she had run a mile uphill.

Marcello put out his arms when he saw her enter, and returning life sent a faint colour to his emaciated cheeks.

"Regina--at last!" he cried in a stronger and clearer tone than she had ever heard him use.

A splendid blush of pleasure glowed in her own face as she ran forward and leaned over him, smoothing the smooth pillow unconsciously, and looking down into his eyes.

The Superintendent observed that Marcello certainly had no difficulty in recalling the girl's name, whatever might have become of his own during his illness. What Regina answered was not audible, but she kissed Marcello's eyes, and then stood upright beside the bed, and laughed a little.

"What can I do?" she asked. "It is a passion! When I see him, I see nothing else. And then, I saved his life. Are you glad that Regina saved your life?" She bent down again, and her gentle hand played with Marcello's waving fair hair. "What should you have done without Regina?"

"I should have died," Marcello answered happily.

With much more strength than she had been used to find in him, he threw his arms round her neck and drew her face down to his.

The Superintendent spoke to the nurse in a low tone, by the door, and both went out, leaving the two together. He was a sensible man, and a kind-hearted one; and though he was no doctor, he guessed that the peasant girl's glorious vitality would do as much for the sick man as any medicine.


F. Marion Crawford

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