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Chapter 1

A Sleep and a Forgetting

Matthew Lanfear had stopped off, between Genoa and Nice, at San Remo
in the interest of a friend who had come over on the steamer with him,
and who wished him to test the air before settling there for the winter
with an invalid wife. She was one of those neurasthenics who really
carry their climate—always a bad one—with them, but she had
set her mind on San Remo; and Lanfear was willing to pass a few days in
the place making the observations which he felt pretty sure would be
adverse.

His train was rather late, and the sunset was fading from the French
sky beyond the Italian shore when he got out of his car and looked round
for a porter to take his valise. His roving eye lighted on the anxious
figure, which as fully as the anxious face, of a short, stout, elderly
man expressed a sort of distraction, as he stood loaded down with
umbrellas, bags, bundles, and wraps, and seemed unable to arrest the
movements of a tall young girl, with a travelling-shawl trailing from
her arm, who had the effect of escaping from him towards a bench beside
the door of the waiting-room. When she reached it, in spite of his
appeals, she sat down with an absent air, and looked as far withdrawn
from the bustle of the platform and from the snuffling train as if on
some quiet garden seat along with her own thoughts.

In his fat frenzy, which Lanfear felt to be pathetic, the old
gentleman glanced at him, and then abruptly demanded: “Are you an
American?”

We knew each other abroad in some mystical way, and Lanfear did not
try to deny the fact.

“Oh, well, then,” the stranger said, as if the fact made
everything right, “will you kindly tell my daughter, on that bench
by the door yonder”—he pointed with a bag, and dropped a
roll of rugs from under his arm—“that I’ll be with her
as soon as I’ve looked after the trunks? Tell her not to move till
I come. Heigh! Here! Take hold of these, will you?” He caught the
sleeve of a facchino who came wandering by, and heaped him with
his burdens, and then pushed ahead of the man in the direction of the
baggage-room with a sort of mastery of the situation which struck
Lanfear as springing from desperation rather than experience.

Lanfear stood a moment hesitating. Then a glance at the girl on the
bench, drooping a little forward in freeing her face from the veil that
hung from her pretty hat, together with a sense of something quaintly
charming in the confidence shown him on such purely compatriotic
grounds, decided him to do just what he had been asked. The girl had got
her veil up by this time, and as he came near, she turned from looking
at the sunset over the stretch of wall beyond the halting train, and met
his dubious face with a smile.

“It is beautiful, isn’t it?” she said.
“I know I shall get well, here, if they have such sunsets every
day.”

There was something so convincingly normal in her expression that
Lanfear dismissed a painful conjecture. “I beg your pardon,”
he said. “I am afraid there’s some mistake. I haven’t
the pleasure—You must excuse me, but your father wished me to ask
you to wait here for him till he had got his baggage—”

“My father?” the girl stopped him with a sort of a
frowning perplexity in the stare she gave him. “My father
isn’t here!”

“I beg your pardon,” Lanfear said. “I must have
misunderstood. A gentleman who got out of the train with you—a
short, stout gentleman with gray hair—I understood him to say you
were his daughter—requested me to bring this
message—”

The girl shook her head. “I don’t know him. It must be a
mistake.”

“The mistake is mine, no doubt. It may have been some one else
whom he pointed out, and I have blundered. I’m very sorry if I
seem to have intruded—”

“What place is this?” the girl asked, without noticing
his excuses.

“San Remo,” Lanfear answered. “If you didn’t
intend to stop here, your train will be leaving in a moment.”

“I meant to get off, I suppose,” she said. “I
don’t believe I’m going any farther.” She leaned back
against the bars of the bench, and put up one of her slim arms along the
top.

There was something wrong. Lanfear now felt that, in spite of her
perfect tranquillity and self-possession; perhaps because of it. He had
no business to stay there talking with her, but he had not quite the
right to leave her, though practically he had got his dismissal, and
apparently she was quite capable of taking care of herself, or could
have been so in a country where any woman’s defencelessness was
not any man’s advantage. He could not go away without some effort
to be of use.

“I beg your pardon,” he said. “Can I help you in
calling a carriage; or looking after your hand-baggage—it will be
getting dark—perhaps your maid—”

“My maid!” The girl frowned again, with a
measure of the amazement which she showed when he mentioned her father.
I have no maid!”

Lanfear blurted desperately out: “You are alone? You
came—you are going to stay here—alone?”

“Quite alone,” she said, with a passivity in which there
was no resentment, and no feeling unless it were a certain color of
dignity. Almost at the same time, with a glance beside and beyond him,
she called out joyfully: “Ah, there you are!” and Lanfear
turned, and saw scuffling and heard puffing towards them the short,
stout elderly gentleman who had sent him to her. “I knew you would
come before long!”

“Well, I thought it was pretty long, myself,” the
gentleman said, and then he courteously referred himself to Lanfear.
“I’m afraid this gentleman has found it rather long, too;
but I couldn’t manage it a moment sooner.”

Lanfear said: “Not at all. I wish I could have been of any use
to—”

“My daughter—Miss Gerald, Mr.—”

“Lanfear—Dr. Lanfear,” he said, accepting the
introduction; and the girl bowed.

“Oh, doctor, eh?” the father said, with a certain
impression. “Going to stop here?”

“A few days,” Lanfear answered, making way for the
forward movement which the others began.

“Well, well! I’m very much obliged to you, very much,
indeed; and I’m sure my daughter is.”

The girl said, “Oh yes, indeed,” rather indifferently,
and then as they passed him, while he stood lifting his hat, she turned
radiantly on him. “Thank you, ever so much!” she said, with
the gentle voice which he had already thought charming.

The father called back: “I hope we shall meet again. We are
going to the Sardegna.”

Lanfear had been going to the Sardegna himself, but while he bowed he
now decided upon another hotel.

The mystery, whatever it was, that the brave, little, fat father was
carrying off so bluffly, had clearly the morbid quality of unhealth in
it, and Lanfear could not give himself freely to a young pleasure in the
girl’s dark beauty of eyes and hair, her pale, irregular, piquant
face, her slender figure and flowing walk. He was in the presence of
something else, something that appealed to his scientific side, to that
which was humane more than that which was human in him, and abashed him
in the other feeling. Unless she was out of her mind there was no way of
accounting for her behavior, except by some caprice which was itself
scarcely short of insanity. She must have thought she knew him when he
approached, and when she addressed him those first words; but when he
had tried to set her right she had not changed; and why had she denied
her father, and then hailed him with joy when he came back to her? She
had known that she intended to stop at San Remo, but she had not known
where she had stopped when she asked what place it was. She was
consciously an invalid of some sort, for she spoke of getting well under
sunsets like that which had now waned, but what sort of invalid was
she?


II

Lanfear’s question persisted through the night, and it helped,
with the coughing in the next room, to make a bad night for him. None of
the hotels in San Remo receive consumptive patients, but none are
without somewhere a bronchial cough. If it is in the room next yours it
keeps you awake, but it is not pulmonary; you may comfort yourself in
your vigils with that fact. Lanfear, however, fancied he had got a poor
dinner, and in the morning he did not like his coffee. He thought he had
let a foolish scruple keep him from the Grand Hotel Sardegna, and he
walked down towards it along the palm-flanked promenade, in the gay
morning light, with the tideless sea on the other hand lapping the rough
beach beyond the lines of the railroad which borders it. On his way he
met files of the beautiful Ligurian women, moving straight under the
burdens balanced on their heads, or bestriding the donkeys laden with
wine-casks in the roadway, or following beside the carts which the
donkeys drew. Ladies of all nations, in the summer fashions of London,
Berlin, St. Petersburg, Paris, and New York thronged the path. The sky
was of a blue so deep, so liquid that it seemed to him he could scoop it
in his hand and pour it out again like water. Seaward, he glanced at the
fishing-boats lying motionless in the offing, and the coastwise steamer
that runs between Nice and Genoa trailing a thin plume of smoke between
him and their white sails. With the more definite purpose of making sure
of the Grand Hotel Sardegna, he scanned the different villa slopes that
showed their level lines of white and yellow and dull pink through the
gray tropical greenery on the different levels of the hills. He was duly
rewarded by the sight of the bold legend topping its cornice, and when
he let his eye descend the garden to a little pavilion on the wall
overlooking the road, he saw his acquaintances of the evening before
making a belated breakfast. The father recognized Lanfear first and
spoke to his daughter, who looked up from her coffee and down towards
him where he wavered, lifting his hat, and bowed smiling to him. He had
no reason to cross the roadway towards the white stairway which climbed
from it to the hotel grounds, but he did so. The father leaned out over
the wall, and called down to him: “Won’t you come up and
join us, doctor?”

“Why, yes!” Lanfear consented, and in another moment he
was shaking hands with the girl, to whom, he noticed, her father named
him again. He had in his glad sense of her white morning dress and her
hat of green-leafed lace, a feeling that she was somehow meeting him as
a friend of indefinite date in an intimacy unconditioned by any past or
future time. Her pleasure in his being there was as frank as her
father’s, and there was a pretty trust of him in every word and
tone which forbade misinterpretation.

“I was just talking about you, doctor,” the father began,
“and saying what a pity you hadn’t come to our hotel.
It’s a capital place.”

I’ve been thinking it was a pity I went to
mine,” Lanfear returned, “though I’m in San Remo for
such a short time it’s scarcely worth while to change.”

“Well, perhaps if you came here, you might stay longer. I guess
we’re booked for the winter, Nannie?” He referred the
question to his daughter, who asked Lanfear if he would not have some
coffee.

“I was going to say I had had my coffee, but I’m not sure
it was coffee,” Lanfear began, and he consented, with
some demur, banal enough, about the trouble.

“Well, that’s right, then, and no trouble at all,”
Mr. Gerald broke in upon him. “Here comes a fellow looking for a
chance to bring you some,” and he called to a waiter wandering
distractedly about with a “Heigh!” that might have been
offensive from a less obviously inoffensive man. “Can you get our
friend here a cup and saucer, and some of this good coffee?” he
asked, as the waiter approached.

“Yes, certainly, sir,” the man answered in careful
English. “Is it not, perhaps, Mr. and Misses Gerald?” he
smilingly insinuated, offering some cards.

“Miss Gerald,” the father corrected him as he took the
cards. “Why, hello, Nannie! Here are the Bells! Where are
they?” he demanded of the waiter. “Bring them here, and a
lot more cups and saucers. Or, hold on! I’d better go myself,
Nannie, hadn’t I? Of course! You get the crockery, waiter. Where
did you say they were?” He bustled up from his chair, without
waiting for a distinct reply, and apologized to Lanfear in hurrying
away. “You’ll excuse me, doctor! I’ll be back in half
a minute. Friends of ours that came over on the same boat. I must see
them, of course, but I don’t believe they’ll stay. Nannie,
don’t let Dr. Lanfear get away. I want to have some talk with him.
You tell him he’d better come to the Sardegna, here.”

Lanfear and Miss Gerald sat a moment in the silence which is apt to
follow with young people when they are unexpectedly left to themselves.
She kept absently pushing the cards her father had given her up and down
on the table between her thumb and forefinger, and Lanfear noted the
translucence of her long, thin hand in the sunshine striking across the
painted iron surface of the garden movable. The translucence had a
pathos for his intelligence which the pensive tilt of her head enhanced.
She stopped toying with the cards, and looked at the addresses on
them.

“What strange things names are!” she said, as if musing
on the fact, with a sigh which he thought disproportioned to the depth
of her remark.

“They seem rather irrelevant at times,” he admitted, with
a smile. “They’re mere tags, labels, which can be attached
to one as well as another; they seem to belong equally to
anybody.”

“That is what I always say to myself,” she agreed, with
more interest than he found explicable.

“But finally,” he returned, “they’re all
that’s left us, if they’re left themselves. They are the
only signs to the few who knew us that we ever existed. They stand for
our characters, our personality, our mind, our soul.”

She said, “That is very true,” and then she suddenly gave
him the cards. “Do you know these people?”

“I? I thought they were friends of yours,” he replied,
astonished.

[Illustration: A LIVELY MATRON, OF AS YOUTHFUL A TEMPERAMENT AS THE LIVELY GIRLS SHE BROUGHT IN HER TRAIN, BURST UPON THEM]

“That is what papa thinks,” Miss Gerald said, and while
she sat dreamily absent, a rustle of skirts and a flutter of voices
pierced from the surrounding shrubbery, and then a lively matron, of as
youthful a temperament as the lively girls she brought in her train,
burst upon them, and Miss Gerald was passed from one embrace to another
until all four had kissed her. She returned their greeting, and shared,
in her quieter way, their raptures at their encounter.

“Such a hunt as we’ve had for you!” the matron
shouted. “We’ve been up-stairs and down-stairs and in my
lady’s chamber, all over the hotel. Where’s your father? Ah,
they did get our cards to you!” and by that token Lanfear knew
that these ladies were the Bells. He had stood up in a sort of
expectancy, but Miss Gerald did not introduce him, and a shadow of
embarrassment passed over the party which she seemed to feel least,
though he fancied a sort of entreaty in the glance that she let pass
over him.

“I suppose he’s gone to look for us!” Mrs.
Bell saved the situation with a protecting laugh. Miss Gerald colored
intelligently, and Lanfear could not let Mrs. Bell’s implication
pass.

“If it is Mrs. Bell,” he said, “I can answer that
he has. I met you at Magnolia some years ago, Mrs. Bell. Dr.
Lanfear.”

“Oh, I beg your pardon, Dr. Lanfear,” Miss Gerald said.
“I couldn’t think—”

“Of my tag, my label?” he laughed back. “It
isn’t very distinctly lettered.”

Mrs. Bell was not much minding them jointly. She was singling Lanfear
out for the expression of her pleasure in seeing him again, and
recalling the incidents of her summer at Magnolia before, it seemed, any
of her girls were out. She presented them collectively, and the eldest
of them charmingly reminded Lanfear that he had once had the magnanimity
to dance with her when she sat, in a little girl’s forlorn despair
of being danced with, at one of those desolate hops of the good old
Osprey House.

“Yes; and now,” her mother followed, “we
can’t wait a moment longer, if we’re to get our train for
Monte Carlo, girls. We’re not going to play, doctor,” she
made time to explain, “but we are going to look on. Will you tell
your father, dear,” she said, taking the girl’s hands
caressingly in hers, and drawing her to her motherly bosom, “that
we found you, and did our best to find him? We can’t wait
now—our carriage is champing the bit at the foot of the
stairs—but we’re coming back in a week, and then we’ll
do our best to look you up again.” She included Lanfear in her
good-bye, and all her girls said good-bye in the same way, and with a
whisking of skirts and twitter of voices they vanished through the
shrubbery, and faded into the general silence and general sound like a
bevy of birds which had swept near and passed by.

Miss Gerald sank quietly into her place, and sat as if nothing had
happened, except that she looked a little paler to Lanfear, who remained
on foot trying to piece together their interrupted tête-à-tête, but not
succeeding, when her father reappeared, red and breathless, and wiping
his forehead. “Have they been here, Nannie?” he asked.
“I’ve been following them all over the place, and the
portier told me just now that he had seen a party of ladies coming
down this way.”

He got it all out, not so clearly as those women had got everything
in, Lanfear reflected, but unmistakably enough as to the fact, and he
looked at his daughter as he repeated: “Haven’t the Bells
been here?”

[Illustration: “SHE SHOOK HER HEAD, AND SAID,... ‘NOBODY HAS BEEN HERE, EXCEPT—’”]

She shook her head, and said, with her delicate quiet: “Nobody
has been here, except—” She glanced at Lanfear, who smiled,
but saw no opening for himself in the strange situation. Then she said:
“I think I will go and lie down a while, now, papa. I’m
rather tired. Good-bye,” she said, giving Lanfear her hand; it
felt limp and cold; and then she turned to her father again.
“Don’t you come, papa! I can get back perfectly well by
myself. Stay with—”

“I will go with you,” her father said, “and if Dr.
Lanfear doesn’t mind coming—”

“Certainly I will come,” Lanfear said, and he passed to
the girl’s right; she had taken her father’s arm; but he
wished to offer more support if it were needed. When they had climbed to
the open flowery space before the hotel, she seemed aware of the groups
of people about. She took her hand from her father’s arm, as if
unwilling to attract their notice by seeming to need its help, and swept
up the gravelled path between him and Lanfear, with her flowing
walk.

Her father fell back, as they entered the hotel door, and murmured to
Lanfear: “Will you wait till I come down?” ... “I
wanted to tell you about my daughter,” he explained, when he came
back after the quarter of an hour which Lanfear had found rather
intense. “It’s useless to pretend you wouldn’t have
noticed—Had nobody been with you after I left you, down
there?” He twisted his head in the direction of the pavilion,
where they had been breakfasting.

“Yes; Mrs. Bell and her daughters,” Lanfear answered,
simply.

“Of course! Why do you suppose my daughter denied it?”
Mr. Gerald asked.

“I suppose she—had her reasons,” Lanfear answered,
lamely enough.

“No reason, I’m afraid,” Mr. Gerald said,
and he broke out hopelessly: “She has her mind sound enough, but
not—not her memory. She had forgotten that they were there! Are
you going to stay in San Remo?” he asked, with an effect of
interrupting himself, as if in the wish to put off something, or to make
the ground sure before he went on.

“Why,” Lanfear said, “I hadn’t thought of it.
I stopped—I was going to Nice—to test the air for a friend
who wishes to bring his invalid wife here, if I approve—but I have
just been asking myself why I should go to Nice when I could stay at San
Remo. The place takes my fancy. I’m something of an invalid
myself—at least I’m on my vacation—and I find a charm
in it, if nothing better. Perhaps a charm is enough. It used to be, in
primitive medicine.”

He was talking to what he felt was not an undivided attention in Mr.
Gerald, who said, “I’m glad of it,” and then added:
“I should like to consult you professionally. I know your
reputation in New York—though I’m not a New-Yorker
myself—and I don’t know any of the doctors here. I suppose
I’ve done rather a wild thing in coming off the way I have, with
my daughter; but I felt that I must do something, and I hoped—I
felt as if it were getting away from our trouble. It’s most
fortunate my meeting you, if you can look into the case, and help me out
with a nurse, if she’s needed, and all that!” To a certain
hesitation in Lanfear’s face, he added: “Of course,
I’m asking your professional help. My name is Abner
Gerald—Abner L. Gerald—perhaps you know my standing, and
that I’m able to—”

“Oh, it isn’t a question of that! I shall be glad to do
anything I can,” Lanfear said, with a little pang which he tried
to keep silent in orienting himself anew towards the girl, whose
loveliness he had felt before he had felt her piteousness.

“But before you go further I ought to say that you must have
been thinking of my uncle, the first Matthew Lanfear, when you spoke of
my reputation; I haven’t got any yet; I’ve only got my
uncle’s name.”

“Oh!” Mr. Gerald said, disappointedly, but after a blank
moment he apparently took courage. “You’re in the same line,
though?”

“If you mean the psychopathic line, without being exactly an
alienist, well, yes,” Lanfear admitted.

“That’s exactly what I mean,” the elder said, with
renewed hopefulness. “I’m quite willing to risk myself with
a man of the same name as Dr. Lanfear. I should like,” he said,
hurrying on, as if to override any further reluctance of
Lanfear’s, “to tell you her story, and
then—”

“By all means,” Lanfear consented, and he put on an air
of professional deference, while the older man began with a face set for
the task.

“It’s a long story, or it’s a short story, as you
choose to make it. We’ll make it long, if necessary, later, but
now I’ll make it short. Five months ago my wife was killed before
my daughter’s eyes—”

He stopped; Lanfear breathed a gentle “Oh!” and Gerald
blurted out:

“Accident—grade crossing—Don’t!” he
winced at the kindness in Lanfear’s eyes, and panted on.
“That’s over! What happened to her—to my
daughter—was that she fainted from the shock. When she
woke—it was more like a sleep than a swoon—she didn’t
remember what had happened.” Lanfear nodded, with a gravely
interested face. “She didn’t remember anything that had ever
happened before. She knew me, because I was there with her; but she
didn’t know that she ever had a mother, because she was not there
with her. You see?”

“I can imagine,” Lanfear assented.

“The whole of her life before the—accident was wiped out
as to the facts, as completely as if it had never been; and now every
day, every hour, every minute, as it passes, goes with that past. But
her faculties—”

“Yes?” Lanfear prompted in the pause which Mr. Gerald
made.

“Her intellect—the working powers of her mind, apart from
anything like remembering, are as perfect as if she were in full
possession of her memory. I believe,” the father said, with a
pride that had its pathos, “no one can talk with her and not feel
that she has a beautiful mind, that she can think better than most girls
of her age. She reads, or she lets me read to her, and until it has time
to fade, she appreciates it all more fully than I do. At Genoa, where I
took her to the palaces for the pictures, I saw that she had kept her
feeling for art. When she plays—you will hear her play—it is
like composing the music for herself; she does not seem to remember the
pieces, she seems to improvise them. You understand?”

Lanfear said that he understood, for he could not disappoint the
expectation of the father’s boastful love: all that was left him
of the ambitions he must once have had for his child.

The poor, little, stout, unpicturesque elderly man got up and began
to walk to and fro in the room which he had turned into with Lanfear,
and to say, more to himself than to Lanfear, as if balancing one thing
against another: “The merciful thing is that she has been saved
from the horror and the sorrow. She knows no more of either than she
knows of her mother’s love for her. They were very much alike in
looks and mind, and they were always together more like persons of the
same age—sisters, or girl friends; but she has lost all knowledge
of that, as of other things. And then there is the question whether she
won’t some time, sooner or later, come into both the horror and
the sorrow.” He stopped and looked at Lanfear. “She has
these sudden fits of drowsiness, when she must sleep; and I
never see her wake from them without being afraid that she has wakened
to everything—that she has got back into her full self, and taken
up the terrible burden that my old shoulders are used to. What do you
think?”

Lanfear felt the appeal so keenly that in the effort to answer
faithfully he was aware of being harsher than he meant. “That is a
chance we can’t forecast. But it is a chance. The fact that the
drowsiness recurs periodically—”

“It doesn’t,” the father pleaded. “We
don’t know when it will come on.”

“It scarcely matters. The periodicity wouldn’t affect the
possible result which you dread. I don’t say that it is probable.
But it’s one of the possibilities. It has,” Lanfear added,
“its logic.”

“Ah, its logic!”

“Its logic, yes. My business, of course, would be to restore
her to health at any risk. So far as her mind is
affected—”

“Her mind is not affected!” the father retorted.

“I beg your pardon—her memory—it might be restored
with her physical health. You understand that? It is a chance; it might
or it might not happen.”

The father was apparently facing a risk which he had not squarely
faced before. “I suppose so,” he faltered. After a moment he
added, with more courage: “You must do the best you can, at any
risk.”

Lanfear rose, too. He said, with returning kindness in his tones, if
not his words: “I should like to study the case, Mr. Gerald.
It’s very interesting, and—and—if you’ll forgive
me—very touching.”

“Thank you.”

“If you decide to stay in San Remo, I will—Do you
suppose I could get a room in this hotel? I don’t like
mine.”

“Why, I haven’t any doubt you can. Shall we
ask?”


III

It was from the Hotel Sardegna that Lanfear satisfied his conscience
by pushing his search for climate on behalf of his friend’s
neurasthenic wife. He decided that Ospedaletti, with a milder air and
more sheltered seat in its valley of palms, would be better for her than
San Remo. He wrote his friend to that effect, and then there was no
preoccupation to hinder him in his devotion to the case of Miss Gerald.
He put the case first in the order of interest rather purposely, and
even with a sense of effort, though he could not deny to himself that a
like case related to a different personality might have been less
absorbing. But he tried to keep his scientific duty to it pure of that
certain painful pleasure which, as a young man not much over thirty, he
must feel in the strange affliction of a young and beautiful girl.

Though there was no present question of medicine, he could be
installed near her, as the friend that her father insisted upon making
him, without contravention of the social formalities. His care of her
hardly differed from that of her father, except that it involved a
closer and more premeditated study. They did not try to keep her from
the sort of association which, in a large hotel of the type of the
Sardegna, entails no sort of obligation to intimacy. They sat together
at the long table, midway of the dining-room, which maintained the
tradition of the old table-d’hôte against the small tables ranged
along the walls. Gerald had an amiable old man’s liking for talk,
and Lanfear saw that he willingly escaped, among their changing
companions, from the pressure of his anxieties. He left his daughter
very much to Lanfear, during these excursions, but Lanfear was far from
meaning to keep her to himself. He thought it better that she should
follow her father in his forays among their neighbors, and he encouraged
her to continue such talk with them as she might be brought into. He
tried to guard her future encounters with them, so that she should not
show more than a young girl’s usual diffidence at a second
meeting; and in the frequent substitution of one presence for another
across the table, she was fairly safe.

A natural light-heartedness, of which he had glimpses from the first,
returned to her. One night, at the dance given by some of the guests to
some others, she went through the gayety in joyous triumph. She danced
mostly with Lanfear, but she had other partners, and she won a pleasing
popularity by the American quality of her waltzing. Lanfear had already
noted that her forgetfulness was not always so constant or so inclusive
as her father had taught him to expect; Mr. Gerald’s statement had
been the large, general fact from which there was sometimes a shrinking
in the particulars. While the warmth of an agreeable experience lasted,
her mind kept record of it, slight or full; if the experience were
unpleasant the memory was more apt to fade at once. After that dance she
repeated to her father the little compliments paid her, and told him,
laughing, they were to reward him for sitting up so late as her
chaperon. Emotions persisted in her consciousness as the tremor lasts in
a smitten cord, but events left little trace. She retained a sense of
personalities; she was lastingly sensible of temperaments; but names
were nothing to her. She could not tell her father who had said the nice
things to her, and their joint study of her
dancing-card did not help them out
.

Her relation to Lanfear, though it might be a subject of
international scrutiny, was hardly a subject of censure. He was known as
Dr. Lanfear, but he was not at first known as her physician; he was
conjectured her cousin or something like that; he might even be her
betrothed in the peculiar American arrangement of such affairs.
Personally people saw in him a serious-looking young man, better dressed
and better mannered than they thought most Americans, and unquestionably
handsomer, with his Spanish skin and eyes, and his brown beard of the
Vandyke cut which was then already beginning to be rather belated.

Other Americans in the hotel were few and transitory; and if the
English had any mind about Miss Gerald different from their mind about
other girls, it would be perhaps to the effect that she was quite mad;
by this they would mean that she was a little odd; but for the rest they
had apparently no mind about her. With the help of one of the English
ladies her father had replaced the homesick Irish maid whom he had sent
back to New York from Genoa, with an Italian, and in the shelter of her
gay affection and ignorant sympathy Miss Gerald had a security
supplemented by the easy social environment. If she did not look very
well, she did not differ from most other American women in that; and if
she seemed to confide herself more severely to the safe-keeping of her
physician, that was the way of all women patients.

Whether the Bells found the spectacle of depravity at Monte Carlo
more attractive than the smiling face of nature at San Remo or not, they
did not return, but sent for their baggage from their hotel, and were
not seen again by the Geralds. Lanfear’s friend with the invalid
wife wrote from Ospedaletti, with apologies which inculpated him for the
disappointment, that she had found the air impossible in a single day,
and they were off for Cannes. Lanfear and the Geralds, therefore,
continued together in the hotel without fear or obligation to others,
and in an immunity in which their right to breakfast exclusively in that
pavilion on the garden wall was almost explicitly conceded. No one,
after a few mornings of tacit possession, would have disputed their
claim, and there, day after day, in the mild monotony of the December
sunshine, they sat and drank their coffee, and talked of the sights
which the peasants in the street, and the tourists in the promenade
beyond it, afforded. The rows of stumpy palms which separated the road
from the walk were not so high but that they had the whole lift of the
sea to the horizon where it lost itself in a sky that curved blue as
turquoise to the zenith overhead. The sun rose from its morning bath on
the left, and sank to its evening bath on the right, and in making its
climb of the spacious arc between, shed a heat as great as that of
summer, but not the heat of summer, on the pretty world of villas and
hotels, towered over by the olive-gray slopes of the pine-clad heights
behind and above them. From these tops a fine, keen cold fell with the
waning afternoon, which sharpened through the sunset till the dusk; but
in the morning the change was from the chill to the glow, and they could
sit in their pavilion, under the willowy droop of the eucalyptus-trees
which have brought the Southern Pacific to the Riviera, with increasing
comfort.

In the restlessness of an elderly man, Gerald sometimes left the
young people to their intolerable delays over their coffee, and walked
off into the little stone and stucco city below, or went and sat with
his cigar on one of the benches under the palm-lined promenade, which
the pale northern consumptives shared with the swarthy peasant girls
resting from their burdens, and the wrinkled grandmothers of their race
passively or actively begging from the strangers.

While she kept her father in sight it seemed that Miss Gerald could
maintain her hold of his identity, and one morning she said, with the
tender fondness for him which touched Lanfear: “When he sits there
among those sick people and poor people, then he knows they are in the
world.”

She turned with a question graver in her look than usual, and he
said: “Yes, we might help them oftener if we could remember that
their misery was going on all the time, like some great natural process,
day or dark, heat or cold, which seems to stop when we stop thinking of
it. Nothing, for us, at least, exists unless it is recalled to
us.”

“Yes,” she said, in her turn, “I have noticed that.
But don’t you sometimes—sometimes”—she knit her
forehead, as if to keep her thought from escaping—“have a
feeling as if what you were doing, or saying, or seeing, had all
happened before, just as it is now?”

“Oh yes; that occurs to every one.”

“But don’t you—don’t you have hints of
things, of ideas, as if you had known them, in some previous
existence—”

She stopped, and Lanfear recognized, with a kind of impatience, the
experience which young people make much of when they have it, and
sometimes pretend to when they have merely heard of it. But there could
be no pose or pretence in her. He smilingly suggested:

“‘For something is, or something seems,

Like glimpses of forgotten dreams.’

These weird impressions are no more than
that, probably.”

“Ah, I don’t believe it,” the girl said.
“They are too real for that. They come too often, and they make me
feel as if they would come more fully, some time. If there was a life
before this—do you believe there was?—they may be things
that happened there. Or they may be things that will happen in a life
after this. You believe in that, don’t you?”

“In a life after this, or their happening in it?”

“Well, both.”

Lanfear evaded her, partly. “They could be premonitions,
prophecies, of a future life, as easily as fragmentary records of a past
life. I suppose we do not begin to be immortal merely after
death.”

“No.” She lingered out the word in dreamy absence, as if
what they had been saying had already passed from her thought.

“But, Miss Gerald,” Lanfear ventured, “have these
impressions of yours grown more definite—fuller, as you
say—of late?”

“My impressions?” She frowned at him, as if the look of
interest, more intense than usual in his eyes, annoyed her. “I
don’t know what you mean.”

Lanfear felt bound to follow up her lead, whether she wished it or
not. “A good third of our lives here is passed in sleep. I’m
not always sure that we are right in treating the mental—for
certainly they are mental—experiences of that time as altogether
trivial, or insignificant.”

She seemed to understand now, and she protested: “But I
don’t mean dreams. I mean things that really happened, or that
really will happen.”

“Like something you can give me an instance of? Are they
painful things, or pleasant, mostly?”

She hesitated. “They are things that you know happen to other
people, but you can’t believe would ever happen to you.”

“Do they come when you are just drowsing, or just waking from a
drowse?”

“They are not dreams,” she said, almost with
vexation.

“Yes, yes, I understand,” he hesitated to retrieve
himself. “But I have had floating illusions, just before
I fell asleep, or when I was sensible of not being quite awake, which
seemed to differ from dreams. They were not so dramatic, but they were
more pictorial; they were more visual than the things in
dreams.”

“Yes,” she assented. “They are something like that.
But I should not call them illusions.”

“No. And they represent scenes, events?”

“You said yourself they were not dramatic.”

“I meant, represent pictorially.”

“No; they are like the landscape that flies back from your
train or towards it. I can’t explain it,” she ended, rising
with what he felt a displeasure in his pursuit.


IV

He reported what had passed to her father when Mr. Gerald came back
from his stroll into the town, with his hands full of English papers;
Gerald had even found a New York paper at the news-stand; and he
listened with an apparent postponement of interest.

“I think,” Lanfear said, “that she has some shadowy
recollection, or rather that the facts come to her in a jarred, confused
way—the elements of pictures, not pictures. But I am afraid that
my inquiry has offended her.”

“I guess not,” Gerald said, dryly, as if annoyed.
“What makes you think so?”

“Merely her manner. And I don’t know that anything is to
be gained by such an inquiry.”

“Perhaps not,” Gerald allowed, with an inattention which
vexed Lanfear in his turn.

The elderly man looked up, from where he sat provisionally in the
hotel veranda, into Lanfear’s face; Lanfear had remained standing.
I don’t believe she’s offended. Or she
won’t be long. One thing, she’ll forget it.”

He was right enough, apparently. Miss Gerald came out of the hotel
door towards them, smiling equally for both, with the indefinable
difference between cognition and recognition habitual in her look. She
was dressed for a walk, and she seemed to expect them to go with her.
She beamed gently upon Lanfear; there was no trace of umbrage in her
sunny gayety. Her face had, as always, its lurking pathos, but in its
appeal to Lanfear now there were only trust and the wish of pleasing
him.

They started side by side for their walk, while her father drove
beside them in one of the little public carriages, mounting to the
Berigo Road, through a street of the older San Remo, and issuing on a
bare little piazza looking towards the walls and roofs of the mediaeval
city, clustered together like cliff-dwellings, and down on the gardens
that fell from the villas and the hotels. A parapet kept the path on the
roadside nearest the declivities, and from point to point benches were
put for the convenient enjoyment of the prospect. Mr. Gerald preferred
to take his pleasure from the greater elevation of the seat in his
victoria; his daughter and Lanfear leaned on the wall, and looked up to
the sky and out to the sea, both of the same blue.

The palms and eucalyptus-trees darkened about the villas; the bits of
vineyard, in their lingering crimson or lingering gold, and the orchards
of peaches and persimmons enriched with the varying reds of their
ripening leaves and fruits the enchanting color scheme. The rose and
geranium hedges were in bloom; the feathery green of the pepper-trees
was warmed by the red-purple of their grape-like clusters of blossoms;
the perfume of lemon flowers wandered vaguely upwards from some point
which they could not fix.

Nothing of all the beauty seemed lost upon the girl, so bereft that
she could enjoy no part of it from association. Lanfear observed that
she was not fatigued by any such effort as he was always helplessly
making to match what he saw with something he had seen before. Now, when
this effort betrayed itself, she said, smiling: “How strange it is
that you see things for what they are like, and not for what they
are!”

“Yes, it’s a defect, I’m afraid, sometimes.
Perhaps—”

“Perhaps what?” she prompted him in the pause he
made.

“Nothing. I was wondering whether in some other possible life
our consciousness would not be more independent of what we have been
than it seems to be here.” She looked askingly at him. “I
mean whether there shall not be something absolute in our existence,
whether it shall not realize itself more in each experience of the
moment, and not be always seeking to verify itself from the
past.”

“Isn’t that what you think is the way with me
already?” She turned upon him smiling, and he perceived that in
her New York version of a Parisian costume, with her lace hat of summer
make and texture and the vivid parasol she twirled upon her shoulder,
she was not only a very pretty girl, but a fashionable one. There was
something touching in the fact, and a little bewildering. To the pretty
girl, the fashionable girl, he could have answered with a joke, but the
stricken intelligence had a claim to his seriousness. Now, especially,
he noted what had from time to time urged itself upon his perception. If
the broken ties which once bound her to the past were beginning to knit
again, her recovery otherwise was not apparent. As she stood there her
beauty had signally the distinction of fragility, the delicacy of
shattered nerves in which there was yet no visible return to strength. A
feeling, which had intimated itself before, a sense as of being in the
presence of a disembodied spirit, possessed him, and brought, in its
contradiction of an accepted theory, a suggestion that was destined to
become conviction. He had always said to himself that there could be no
persistence of personality, of character, of identity, of consciousness,
except through memory; yet here, to the last implication of temperament,
they all persisted. The soul that was passing in its integrity through
time without the helps, the crutches, of remembrance by which his own
personality supported itself, why should not it pass so through eternity
without that loss of identity which was equivalent to annihilation?

Her waiting eyes recalled him from his inquiry, and with an effort he
answered, “Yes, I think you do have your being here and now, Miss
Gerald, to an unusual degree.”

“And you don’t think that is wrong?”

“Wrong? Why? How?”

“Oh, I don’t know.” She looked round, and her eye
fell upon her father waiting for them in his carriage beside the walk.
The sight supplied her with the notion which Lanfear perceived would not
have occurred otherwise. “Then why doesn’t papa want me to
remember things?”

“I don’t know,” Lanfear temporized.
“Doesn’t he?”

“I can’t always tell. Should—should you
wish me to remember more than I do?”

“I?”

She looked at him with entreaty. “Do you think it would make my
father happier if I did?”

“That I can’t say,” Lanfear answered. “People
are often the sadder for what they remember. If I were your
father—Excuse me! I don’t mean anything so absurd. But in
his place—”

He stopped, and she said, as if she were satisfied with his broken
reply: “It is very curious. When I look at him—when I am
with him—I know him; but when he is away, I don’t remember
him.” She seemed rather interested in the fact than distressed by
it; she even smiled.

“And me,” he ventured, “is it the same with regard
to me?”

She did not say; she asked, smiling: “Do you remember me when I
am away?”

“Yes!” he answered. “As perfectly as if you were
with me. I can see you, hear you, feel the touch of your hand, your
dress—Good heavens!” he added to himself under his breath.
“What am I saying to this poor child!”

In the instinct of escaping from himself he started forward, and she
moved with him. Mr. Gerald’s watchful driver followed them with
the carriage.

“That is very strange,” she said, lightly. “Is it
so with you about everyone?”

“No,” he replied, briefly, almost harshly. He asked,
abruptly: “Miss Gerald, are there any times when you know people
in their absence?”

“Just after I wake from a nap—yes. But it doesn’t
last. That is, it seems to me it doesn’t. I’m not
sure.”

As they followed the winding of the pleasant way, with the villas on
the slopes above and on the slopes below, she began to talk of them, and
to come into that knowledge of each which formed her remembrance of them
from former knowledge of them, but which he knew would fade when she
passed them.

The next morning, when she came down unwontedly late to breakfast in
their pavilion, she called gayly:

“Dr. Lanfear! It is Dr. Lanfear?”

“I should be sorry if it were not, since you seem to expect it,
Miss Gerald.”

“Oh, I just wanted to be sure. Hasn’t my father been
here, yet?” It was the first time she had shown herself aware of
her father except in his presence, as it was the first time she had
named Lanfear to his face.

He suppressed a remote stir of anxiety, and answered: “He went
to get his newspapers; he wished you not to wait. I hope you slept
well?”

“Splendidly. But I was very tired last night; I don’t
know why, exactly.”

“We had rather a long walk.”

“Did we have a walk yesterday?”

“Yes.”

“Then it was so! I thought I had dreamed it. I was
beginning to remember something, and my father asked me what it was, and
then I couldn’t remember. Do you believe I shall keep on
remembering?”

“I don’t see why you shouldn’t.”

“Should you wish me to?” she asked, in evident, however
unconscious, recurrence to their talk of the day before.

“Why not?”

She sighed. “I don’t know. If it’s like some of
those dreams or gleams. Is remembering pleasant?”

Lanfear thought for a moment. Then he said, in the honesty he thought
best to use with her: “For the most part I should say it was
painful. Life is tolerable enough while it passes, but when it is past,
what remains seems mostly to hurt and humiliate. I don’t know why
we should remember so insistently the foolish things and wrong things we
do, and not recall the times when we acted, without an effort, wisely
and rightly.” He thought he had gone too far, and he hedged a
little. “I don’t mean that we can’t recall
those times. We can and do, to console and encourage ourselves; but they
don’t recur, without our willing, as the others do.”

She had poured herself a cup of coffee, and she played with the spoon
in her saucer while she seemed to listen. But she could not have been
listening, for when she put down her spoon and leaned back in her chair,
she said: “In those dreams the things come from such a very far
way back, and they don’t belong to a life that is like this. They
belong to a life like what you hear the life after this is. We are the
same as we are here; but the things are different. We haven’t the
same rules, the same wishes—I can’t explain.”

“You mean that we are differently conditioned?”

“Yes. And if you can understand, I feel as if I remembered long
back of this, and long forward of this. But one can’t remember
forward!”

“That wouldn’t be remembrance; no, it would be
prescience; and your consciousness here, as you were saying yesterday,
is through knowing, not remembering.”

She stared at him. “Was that yesterday? I thought it
was—to-morrow.” She rubbed her hand across her forehead as
people do when they wish to clear their minds. Then she sighed deeply.
“It tires me so. And yet I can’t help trying.” A light
broke over her face at the sound of a step on the gravel walk near by,
and she said, laughing, without looking round: “That is papa! I
knew it was his step.”


V

Such return of memory as she now had was like memory in what we call
the lower lives. It increased, fluctuantly, with an ebb in which it
almost disappeared, but with a flow that in its advance carried it
beyond its last flood-tide mark. After the first triumph in which she
could address Lanfear by his name, and could greet her father as her
father, there were lapses in which she knew them as before, without
naming them. Except mechanically to repeat the names of other people
when reminded of them, she did not pass beyond cognition to recognition.
Events still left no trace upon her; or if they did she was not sure
whether they were things she had dreamed or experienced. But her memory
grew stronger in the region where the bird knows its way home to the
nest, or the bee to the hive. She had an unerring instinct for places
where she had once been, and she found her way to them again without the
help from the association which sometimes failed Lanfear. Their walks
were always taken with her father’s company in his carriage, but
they sometimes left him at a point of the Berigo Road, and after a long
détour among the vineyards and olive orchards of the heights above,
rejoined him at another point they had agreed upon with him. One
afternoon, when Lanfear had climbed the rough pave of the footways with
her to one of the summits, they stopped to rest on the wall of a
terrace, where they sat watching the changing light on the sea, through
a break in the trees. The shadows surprised them on their height, and
they had to make their way among them over the farm paths and by the dry
beds of the torrents to the carriage road far below. They had been that
walk only once before, and Lanfear failed of his reckoning, except the
downward course which must bring them out on the high-road at last. But
Miss Gerald’s instinct saved them where his reason failed. She did
not remember, but she knew the way, and she led him on as if she were
inventing it, or as if it had been indelibly traced upon her mind and
she had only to follow the mystical lines within to be sure of her
course. She confessed to being very tired, and each step must have
increased her fatigue, but each step seemed to clear her perception of
the next to be taken.

Suddenly, when Lanfear was blaming himself for bringing all this upon
her, and then for trusting to her guidance, he recognized a certain
peasant’s house, and in a few moments they had descended the
olive-orchard terraces to a broken cistern in the clear twilight beyond
the dusk. She suddenly halted him. “There, there! It happened
then—now—this instant!”

“What?”

“That feeling of being here before! There is the curb of the
old cistern; and the place where the terrace wall is broken; and the
path up to the vineyard—Don’t you feel it, too?” she
demanded, with a joyousness which had no pleasure for him.

“Yes, certainly. We were here last week. We went up the path to
the farm-house to get some water.”

“Yes, now I am remembering—remembering!” She stood
with eagerly parted lips, and glancing quickly round with glowing eyes,
whose light faded in the same instant. “No!” she said,
mournfully, “it’s gone.”

A sound of wheels in the road ceased, and her father’s voice
called: “Don’t you want to take my place, and let me walk
awhile, Nannie?”

“No. You come to me, papa. Something very strange has happened;
something you will be surprised at. Hurry!” She seemed to be
joking, as he was, while she beckoned him impatiently towards her.

He had left his carriage, and he came up with a heavy man’s
quickened pace. “Well, what is the wonderful thing?” he
panted out.

She stared blankly at him, without replying, and they silently made
their way to Mr. Gerald’s carriage.

“I lost the way, and Miss Gerald found it,” Lanfear
explained, as he helped her to the place beside her father.

She said nothing, and almost with sinking into the seat, she sank
into that deep slumber which from time to time overtook her.

“I didn’t know we had gone so far—or rather that we
had waited so long before we started down the hills,” Lanfear
apologized in an involuntary whisper.

“Oh, it’s all right,” her father said, trying to
adjust the girl’s fallen head to his shoulder. “Get in and
help me—”

Lanfear obeyed, and lent a physician’s skilled aid, which left
the cumbrous efforts of her father to the blame he freely bestowed on
them. “You’ll have to come here on the other side,” he
said. “There’s room enough for all three. Or, hold on! Let
me take your place.” He took the place in front, and left her to
Lanfear’s care, with the trust which was the physician’s
right, and with a sense of the girl’s dependence in which she was
still a child to him.

They did not speak till well on the way home. Then the father leaned
forward and whispered huskily: “Do you think she’s as strong
as she was?”

Lanfear waited, as if thinking the facts over. He murmured back:
“No. She’s better. She’s not so strong.”

“Yes,” the father murmured. “I
understand.”

What Gerald understood by Lanfear’s words might not have been
their meaning, but what Lanfear meant was that there was now an
interfusion of the past and present in her daily experience. She still
did not remember, but she had moments in which she hovered upon such
knowledge of what had happened as she had of actual events. When she was
stronger she seemed farther from this knowledge; when she was weaker she
was nearer it. So it seemed to him in that region where he could be sure
of his own duty when he looked upon it singly as concern for her health.
No inquiry for the psychological possibilities must be suffered to
divide his effort for her physical recovery, though there might come
with this a cessation of the timeless dream-state in which she had her
being, and she might sharply realize the past, as the anaesthete
realizes his return to agony from insensibility. The quality of her mind
was as different from the thing called culture as her manner from
convention. A simplicity beyond the simplicity of childhood was one with
a poetic color in her absolute ideas. But this must cease with her
restoration to the strength in which she could alone come into full and
clear self-consciousness. So far as Lanfear could give reality to his
occupation with her disability, he was ministering to a mind diseased;
not to “rase out its written trouble,” but if possible to
restore the obliterated record, and enable her to spell its tragic
characters. If he could, he would have shrunk from this office; but all
the more because he specially had to do with the mystical side of
medicine, he always tried to keep his relation to her free from personal
feeling, and his aim single and matter-of-fact.

It was hard to do this; and there was a glamour in the very
topographical and meteorological environment. The autumn was a long
delight in which the constant sea, the constant sky, knew almost as
little variance as the unchanging Alps. The days passed in a procession
of sunny splendor, neither hot nor cold, nor of the temper of any
determinate season, unless it were an abiding spring-time. The flowers
bloomed, and the grass kept green in a reverie of May. But one afternoon
of January, while Lanfear was going about in a thin coat and panama hat,
a soft, fresh wind began to blow from the east. It increased till
sunset, and then fell. In the morning he looked out on a world in which
the spring had stiffened overnight into winter. A thick frost painted
the leaves and flowers; icicles hung from pipes and vents; the frozen
streams flashed back from their arrested flow the sun as it shone from
the cold heaven, and blighted and blackened the hedges of geranium and
rose, the borders of heliotrope, the fields of pinks. The leaves of the
bananas hung limp about their stems; the palms rattled like skeletons in
the wind when it began to blow again over the shrunken landscape.


VI

The caprice of a climate which vaunted itself perpetual summer was a
godsend to all the strangers strong enough to bear it without suffering.
For the sick an indoor life of huddling about the ineffectual fires of
the south began, and lasted for the fortnight that elapsed before the
Riviera got back its advertised temperature. Miss Gerald had drooped in
the milder weather; but the cold braced and lifted her, and with its
help she now pushed her walks farther, and was eager every day for some
excursion to the little towns that whitened along the shores, or the
villages that glimmered from the olive-orchards of the hills. Once she
said to Lanfear, when they were climbing through the brisk, clear air:
“It seems to me as if I had been here before. Have I?”

“No. This is the first time.”

She said no more, but seemed disappointed in his answer, and he
suggested: “Perhaps it is the cold that reminds you of our winters
at home, and makes you feel that the scene is familiar.”

“Yes, that is it!” she returned, joyously. “Was
there snow, there, like that on the mountains yonder?”

“A good deal more, I fancy. That will be gone in a few days,
and at home, you know, our snow lasts for weeks.”

“Then that is what I was thinking of,” she said, and she
ran strongly and lightly forward. “Come!”

When the harsh weather passed and the mild climate returned there was
no lapse of her strength. A bloom, palely pink as the flowers that began
to flush the almond-trees, came upon her delicate beauty, a light like
that of the lengthening days dawned in her eyes. She had an instinct for
the earliest violets among the grass under the olives; she was first to
hear the blackcaps singing in the garden-tops; and nothing that was
novel in her experience seemed alien to it. This was the sum of what
Lanfear got by the questioning which he needlessly tried to keep
indirect. She knew that she was his patient, and in what manner, and she
had let him divine that her loss of memory was suffering as well as
deprivation. She had not merely the fatigue which we all undergo from
the effort to recall things, and which sometimes reaches exhaustion; but
there was apparently in the void of her oblivion a perpetual rumor of
events, names, sensations, like—Lanfear felt that he inadequately
conjectured—the subjective noises which are always in the ears of
the deaf. Sometimes, in the distress of it, she turned to him for help,
and when he was able to guess what she was striving for, a radiant
relief and gratitude transfigured her face. But this could not last, and
he learned to note how soon the stress and tension of her effort
returned. His compassion for her at such times involved a temptation, or
rather a question, which he had to silence by a direct effort of his
will. Would it be worse, would it be greater anguish for her to know at
once the past that now tormented her consciousness with its broken and
meaningless reverberations? Then he realized that it was impossible to
help her even through the hazard of telling her what had befallen; that
no such effect as was to be desired could be anticipated from the
outside.

If he turned to her father for counsel or instruction, or even a
participation in his responsibility, he was met by an optimistic
patience which exasperated him, if it did not complicate the case. Once,
when Lanfear forbearingly tried to share with him his anxiety for the
effect of a successful event, he was formed to be outright, and remind
him, in so many words, that the girl’s restoration might be
through anguish which he could not measure.

Gerald faltered aghast; then he said: “It mustn’t come to
that; you mustn’t let it.”

“How do you expect me to prevent it?” Lanfear demanded,
in his vexation.

Gerald caught his breath. “If she gets well, she will
remember?”

“I don’t say that. It seems probable. Do you wish her
being to remain bereft of one-half its powers?”

“Oh, how do I know what I want?” the poor man groaned.
“I only know that I trust you entirely, Doctor Lanfear. Whatever
you think best will be best and wisest, no matter what the outcome
is.”

He got away from Lanfear with these hopeless words, and again Lanfear
perceived that the case was left wholly to him. His consolation was the
charm of the girl’s companionship, the delight of a nature knowing
itself from moment to moment as if newly created. For her, as nearly as
he could put the fact into words, the actual moment contained the past
and the future as well as the present. When he saw in her the
persistence of an exquisite personality independent of the means by
which he realized his own continuous identity, he sometimes felt as if
in the presence of some angel so long freed from earthly allegiance that
it had left all record behind, as we leave here the records of our first
years. If an echo of the past reached her, it was apt to be trivial and
insignificant, like those unimportant experiences of our remotest
childhood, which remain to us from a world outlived.

It was not an insipid perfection of character which reported itself
in these celestial terms, and Lanfear conjectured that angelic
immortality, if such a thing were, could not imply perfection except at
the cost of one-half of human character. When the girl wore a dress that
she saw pleased him more than another, there was a responsive pleasure
in her eyes, which he could have called vanity if he would; and she had
at times a wilfulness which he could have accused of being obstinacy.
She showed a certain jealousy of any experiences of his apart from her
own, not because they included others, but because they excluded her. He
was aware of an involuntary vigilance in her, which could not leave his
motives any more than his actions unsearched. But in her conditioning
she could not repent; she could only offer him at some other time the
unconscious reparation of her obedience. The self-criticism which the
child has not learned she had forgotten, but in her oblivion the wish to
please existed as perfectly as in the ignorance of childhood.

This, so far as he could ever put into words, was the interior of the
world where he dwelt apart with her. Its exterior continued very like
that of other worlds where two young people have their being. Now and
then a more transitory guest at the Grand Hotel Sardegna perhaps fancied
it the iridescent orb which takes the color of the morning sky, and is
destined, in the course of nature, to the danger of collapse in which
planetary space abounds. Some rumor of this could not fail to reach
Lanfear, but he ignored it as best he could in always speaking gravely
of Miss Gerald as his patient, and authoritatively treating her as such.
He convinced some of these witnesses against their senses; for the
others, he felt that it mattered little what they thought, since, if it
reached her, it could not pierce her isolation for more than the instant
in which the impression from absent things remained to her.

A more positive embarrassment, of a kind Lanfear was not prepared
for, beset him in an incident which would have been more touching if he
had been less singly concerned for the girl. A pretty English boy, with
the dawn of a peachy bloom on his young cheeks, and an impulsiveness
commoner with English youth than our own, talked with Miss Gerald one
evening and the next day sent her an armful of flowers with his card. He
followed this attention with a call at her father’s apartment, and
after Miss Gerald seemed to know him, and they had, as he told Lanfear,
a delightful time together, she took up his card from the table where it
was lying, and asked him if he could tell her who that gentleman was.
The poor fellow’s inference was that she was making fun of him,
and he came to Lanfear, as an obvious friend of the family, for an
explanation. He reported the incident, with indignant tears standing in
his eyes: “What did she mean by it? If she took my flowers, she
must have known that—that—they—And to pretend to
forget my name! Oh, I say, it’s too bad! She could have got rid of
me without that. Girls have ways enough, you know.”

“Yes, yes,” Lanfear assented, slowly, to gain time.
“I can assure you that Miss Gerald didn’t mean anything that
could wound you. She isn’t very well—she’s rather
odd—”

“Do you mean that she’s out of her mind? She can talk as
well as any one—better!”

“No, not that. But she’s often in pain—greatly in
pain when she can’t recall a name, and I’ve no doubt she was
trying to recall yours with the help of your card. She would be the last
in the world to be indifferent to your feelings. I imagine she scarcely
knew what she was doing at the moment.”

“Then, do you think—do you suppose—it would be any
good my trying to see her again? If she wouldn’t be indifferent to
my feelings, do you think there would be any hope—Really, you
know, I would give anything to believe that my feelings wouldn’t
offend her. You understand me?”

“Perhaps I do.”

“I’ve never met a more charming girl and—she
isn’t engaged, is she? She isn’t engaged to you? I
don’t mean to press the question, but it’s a question of
life and death with me, you know.”

Lanfear thought he saw his way out of the coil. “I can tell
you, quite as frankly as you ask, that Miss Gerald isn’t engaged
to me.”

“Then it’s somebody else—somebody in America! Well,
I hope she’ll be happy; I never shall.” He offered
his hand to Lanfear. “I’m off.”

“Oh, here’s the doctor, now,” a voice said behind
them where they stood by the garden wall, and they turned to confront
Gerald with his daughter.

“Why! Are you going?” she said to the Englishman, and she
put out her hand to him.

“Yes, Mr. Evers is going.” Lanfear came to the
rescue.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” the girl said, and the youth
responded.

“That’s very good of you. I—good-by! I hope
you’ll be very happy—I—” He turned abruptly
away, and ran into the hotel.

“What has he been crying for?” Miss Gerald asked, turning
from a long look after him.

Lanfear did not know quite what to say; but he hazarded saying:
“He was hurt that you had forgotten him when he came to see you
this afternoon.”

“Did he come to see me?” she asked; and Lanfear exchanged
looks of anxiety, pain, and reassurance with her father. “I am so
sorry. Shall I go after him and tell him?”

“No; I explained; he’s all right,” Lanfear
said.

“You want to be careful, Nannie,” her father added,
“about people’s feelings when you meet them, and afterwards
seem not to know them.”

“But I do know them, papa,” she
remonstrated.

“You want to be careful,” her father repeated.

“I will—I will, indeed.” Her lips quivered, and the
tears came, which Lanfear had to keep from flowing by what quick turn he
could give to something else.

An obscure sense of the painful incident must have lingered with her
after its memory had perished. One afternoon when Lanfear and her father
went with her to the military concert in the sycamore-planted piazza
near the Vacherie Suisse, where they often came for a cup of tea, she
startled them by bowing gayly to a young lieutenant of engineers
standing there with some other officers, and making the most of the
prospect of pretty foreigners which the place afforded. The lieutenant
returned the bow with interest, and his eyes did not leave their party
as long as they remained. Within the bounds of deference for her, it was
evident that his comrades were joking about the honor done him by this
charming girl. When the Geralds started homeward Lanfear was aware of a
trio of officers following them, not conspicuously, but unmistakably;
and after that, he could not start on his walks with Miss Gerald and her
father without the sense that the young lieutenant was hovering
somewhere in their path, waiting in the hopes of another bow from her.
The officer was apparently not discouraged by his failure to win
recognition from her, and what was amounting to annoyance for Lanfear
reached the point where he felt he must share it with her father. He had
nearly as much trouble in imparting it to him as he might have had with
Miss Gerald herself. He managed, but when he required her father to put
a stop to it he perceived that Gerald was as helpless as she would have
been. He first wished to verify the fact from its beginning with her,
but this was not easy.

“Nannie,” he said, “why did you bow to that officer
the other day?”

“What officer, papa? When?”

“You know; there by the band-stand, at the Swiss
Dairy.”

She stared blankly at him, and it was clear that it was all as if it
had not been with her. He insisted, and then she said: “Perhaps I
thought I knew him, and was afraid I should hurt his feelings if I
didn’t recognize him. But I don’t remember it at all.”
The curves of her mouth drooped, and her eyes grieved, so that her
father had not the heart to say more. She left them, and when he was
alone with Lanfear he said:

“You see how it is!”

“Yes, I saw how it was before. But what do you wish to
do?”

“Do you mean that he will keep it up?”

“Decidedly, he’ll keep it up. He has every right to from
his point of view.”

“Oh, well, then, my dear fellow, you must stop it, somehow.
You’ll know how to do it.”

“I?” said Lanfear, indignantly; but his vexation was not
so great that he did not feel a certain pleasure in fulfilling this
strangest part of his professional duty, when at the beginning of their
next excursion he put Miss Gerald into the victoria with her father and
fell back to the point at which he had seen the lieutenant waiting to
haunt their farther progress. He put himself plumply in front of the
officer and demanded in very blunt Italian: “What do you
want?”

The lieutenant stared him over with potential offence, in which his
delicately pencilled mustache took the shape of a light sneer, and
demanded in his turn, in English much better than Lanfear’s
Italian: “What right have you to ask?”

“The right of Miss Gerald’s physician. She is an invalid
in my charge.”

A change quite indefinable except as the visible transition from
coxcomb to gentleman passed over the young lieutenant’s comely
face. “An invalid?” he faltered.

“Yes,” Lanfear began; and then, with a rush of confidence
which the change in the officer’s face justified, “one very
strangely, very tragically afflicted. Since she saw her mother killed in
an accident a year ago she remembers nothing. She bowed to you because
she saw you looking at her, and supposed you must be an acquaintance.
May I assure you that you are altogether mistaken?”

The lieutenant brought his heels together, and bent low. “I beg
her pardon with all my heart. I am very, very sorry. I will do anything
I can. I would like to stop that. May I bring my mother to call on Miss
Gerald?”

He offered his hand, and Lanfear wrung it hard, a lump of gratitude
in his throat choking any particular utterance, while a fine shame for
his late hostile intention covered him.

When the lieutenant came, with all possible circumstance, bringing
the countess, his mother, Mr. Gerald overwhelmed them with hospitality
of every form. The Italian lady responded effusively, and more sincerely
cooed and murmured her compassionate interest in his daughter. Then all
parted the best of friends; but when it was over, Miss Gerald did not
know what it had been about. She had not remembered the lieutenant or
her father’s vexation, or any phase of the incident which was now
closed. Nothing remained of it but the lieutenant’s right, which
he gravely exercised, of saluting them respectfully whenever he met
them.


VII

Earlier, Lanfear had never allowed himself to be far out of call from
Miss Gerald’s father, especially during the daytime slumbers into
which she fell, and from which they both always dreaded her awakening.
But as the days went on and the event continued the same he allowed
himself greater range. Formerly the three went their walks or drives
together, but now he sometimes went alone. In these absences he found
relief from the stress of his constant vigilance; he was able to cast
off the bond which enslaves the physician to his patient, and which he
must ignore at times for mere self-preservation’s sake; but there
was always a lurking anxiety, which, though he refused to let it define
itself to him, shortened the time and space he tried to put between
them.

One afternoon in April, when he left her sleeping, he was aware of
somewhat recklessly placing himself out of reach in a lonely excursion
to a village demolished by the earthquake of 1887, and abandoned
himself, in the impressions and incidents of his visit to the ruin, to a
luxury of impersonal melancholy which the physician cannot often allow
himself. At last, his care found him, and drove him home full of a
sharper fear than he had yet felt since the first days. But Mr. Gerald
was tranquilly smoking under a palm in the hotel garden, and met him
with an easy smile. “She woke once, and said she had had such a
pleasant dream. Now she’s off again. Do you think we’d
better wake her for dinner? I suppose she’s getting up her
strength in this way. Her sleeping so much is a good symptom,
isn’t it?”

Lanfear smiled forlornly; neither of them, in view of the possible
eventualities, could have said what result they wished the symptoms to
favor. But he said: “Decidedly I wouldn’t wake her”;
and he spent a night of restless sleep penetrated by a nervous
expectation which the morning, when it came, rather mockingly
defeated.

Miss Gerald appeared promptly at breakfast in their pavilion, with a
fresher and gayer look than usual, and to her father’s
“Well, Nannie, you have had a nap, this time,” she
answered, smiling:

“Have I? It isn’t afternoon, is it?”

“No, it’s morning. You’ve napped it all
night.”

She said: “I can’t tell whether I’ve been asleep or
not, sometimes; but now I know I have been; and I feel so rested. Where
are we going to-day?”

She turned to Lanfear while her father answered: “I guess the
doctor won’t want to go very far, to-day, after his expedition
yesterday afternoon.”

“Ah,” she said, “I knew you had been
somewhere! Was it very far? Are you too tired?”

“It was rather far, but I’m not tired. I shouldn’t
advise Possana, though.”

“Possana?” she repeated. “What is
Possana?”

He told her, and then at a jealous look in her eyes he added an
account of his excursion. He heightened, if anything, its difficulties,
in making light of them as no difficulties for him, and at the end she
said, gently: “Shall we go this morning?”

“Let the doctor rest this morning, Nannie,” her father
interrupted, whimsically, but with what Lanfear knew to be an inner
yielding to her will. “Or if you won’t let him, let
me. I don’t want to go anywhere this morning.”

Lanfear thought that he did not wish her to go at all, and hoped that
by the afternoon she would have forgotten Possana. She sighed, but in
her sigh there was no concession. Then, with the chance of a returning
drowse to save him from openly thwarting her will, he merely suggested:
“There’s plenty of time in the afternoon; the days are so
long now; and we can get the sunset from the hills.”

“Yes, that will be nice,” she said, but he perceived that
she did not assent willingly; and there was an effect of resolution in
the readiness with which she appeared dressed for the expedition after
luncheon. She clearly did not know where they were going, but when she
turned to Lanfear with her look of entreaty, he had not the heart to
join her father in any conspiracy against her. He beckoned the carriage
which had become conscious in its eager driver from the moment she
showed herself at the hotel door, and they set out.

When they had left the higher level of the hotel and began their
clatter through the long street of the town, Lanfear noted that she
seemed to feel as much as himself the quaintness of the little city,
rising on one hand, with its narrow alleys under successive arches
between the high, dark houses, to the hills, and dropping on the other
to sea from the commonplace of the principal thoroughfare, with its pink
and white and saffron hotels and shops. Beyond the town their course lay
under villa walls, covered with vines and topped by pavilions, and
opening finally along a stretch of the old Cornice road.

“But this,” she said, at a certain point, “is where
we were yesterday!”

“This is where the doctor was yesterday,” her father
said, behind his cigar.

“And wasn’t I with you?” she asked Lanfear.

He said, playfully: “To-day you are. I mustn’t be selfish
and have you every day.”

“Ah, you are laughing at me; but I know I was here
yesterday.”

Her father set his lips in patience, and Lanfear did not insist.

They had halted at this point because, across a wide valley on the
shoulder of an approaching height, the ruined village of Possana showed,
and lower down and nearer the seat the new town which its people had
built when they escaped from the destruction of their world-old
home.

World-old it all was, with reference to the human life of it; but the
spring-time was immortally young in the landscape. Over the expanses of
green and brown fields, and hovering about the gray and white cottages,
was a mist of peach and cherry blossoms. Above these the hoar olives
thickened, and the vines climbed from terrace to terrace. The valley
narrowed inland, and ceased in the embrace of the hills drawing
mysteriously together in the distances.

“I think we’ve got the best part of it here, Miss
Gerald,” Lanfear broke the common silence by saying. “You
couldn’t see much more of Possana after you got there.”

“Besides,” her father ventured a pleasantry which jarred
on the younger man, “if you were there with the doctor yesterday,
you won’t want to make the climb again to-day. Give it up,
Nannie!”

“Oh no,” she said, “I can’t give it
up.”

“Well, then, we must go on, I suppose. Where do we begin our
climb?”

Lanfear explained that he had been obliged to leave his carriage at
the foot of the hill, and climb to Possana Nuova by the donkey-paths of
the peasants. He had then walked to the ruins of Possana Vecchia, but he
suggested that they might find donkeys to carry them on from the new
town.

“Well, I hope so,” Mr. Gerald grumbled. But at Possana
Nuova no saddle-donkeys were to be had, and he announced, at the café
where they stopped for the negotiation, that he would wait for the young
people to go on to Possana Vecchia, and tell him about it when they got
back. In the meantime he would watch the game of ball, which, in the
piazza before the café, appeared to have engaged the energies of the
male population. Lanfear was still inwardly demurring, when a stalwart
peasant girl came in and announced that she had one donkey which they
could have with her own services driving it. She had no saddle, but
there was a pad on which the young lady could ride.

“Oh, well, take it for Nannie,” Mr. Gerald directed;
“only don’t be gone too long.”

They set out with Miss Gerald reclining in the kind of litter which
the donkey proved to be equipped with. Lanfear went beside her, the
peasant girl came behind, and at times ran forward to instruct them in
the points they seemed to be looking at. For the most part the landscape
opened beneath them, but in the azure distances it climbed into Alpine
heights which the recent snows had now left to the gloom of their pines.
On the slopes of the nearer hills little towns clung, here and there;
closer yet farm-houses showed themselves among the vines and olives.

It was very simple, as the life in it must always have been; and
Lanfear wondered if the elemental charm of the scene made itself felt by
his companion as they climbed the angles of the inclines, in a silence
broken only by the picking of the donkey’s hoofs on the rude
mosaic of the pavement, and the panting of the peasant girl at its
heels. On the top of the last upward stretch they stopped for the view,
and Miss Gerald asked abruptly: “Why were you so sad?”

“When was I sad?” he asked, in turn.

“I don’t know. Weren’t you sad?”

“When I was here yesterday, you mean?” She smiled on his
fortunate guess, and he said: “Oh, I don’t know. It might
have begun with thinking—

‘Of old, unhappy, far-off things,
And
battles long ago.’

You know the pirates used to come sailing
over the peaceful sea yonder from Africa, to harry these coasts, and
carry off as many as they could capture into slavery in Tunis and
Algiers. It was a long, dumb kind of misery that scarcely made an echo
in history, but it haunted my fancy yesterday, and I saw these valleys
full of the flight and the pursuit which used to fill them, up to the
walls of the villages, perched on the heights where men could have built
only for safety. Then, I got to thinking of other
things—”

“And thinking of things in the past always makes you
sad,” she said, in pensive reflection. “If it were not for
the wearying of always trying to remember, I don’t believe I
should want my memory back. And of course to be like other
people,” she ended with a sigh.

It was on his tongue to say that he would not have her so; but he
checked himself, and said, lamely enough: “Perhaps you will be
like them, sometime.”

She startled him by answering irrelevantly: “You know my mother
is dead. She died a long while ago; I suppose I must have been very
little.”

She spoke as if the fact scarcely concerned her, and Lanfear drew a
breath of relief in his surprise. He asked, at another tangent:
“What made you think I was sad yesterday?”

“Oh, I knew, somehow. I think that I always know when you are
sad; I can’t tell you how, but I feel it.”

“Then I must cheer up,” Lanfear said. “If I could
only see you strong and well, Miss Gerald, like this
girl—”

They both looked at the peasant, and she laughed in sympathy with
their smiling, and beat the donkey a little for pleasure; it did not
mind.

“But you will be—you will be! We must hurry on, now, or
your father will be getting anxious.”

They pushed forward on the road, which was now level and wider than
it had been. As they drew near the town, whose ruin began more and more
to reveal itself in the roofless walls and windowless casements, they
saw a man coming towards them, at whose approach Lanfear instinctively
put himself forward. The man did not look at them, but passed, frowning
darkly, and muttering and gesticulating.

Miss Gerald turned in her litter and followed him with a long gaze.
The peasant girl said gayly in Italian: “He is mad; the earthquake
made him mad,” and urged the donkey forward.

Lanfear, in the interest of science, habitually forbade himself the
luxury of anything like foreboding, but now, with the passing of the
madman, he felt distinctively a lift from his spirit. He no longer
experienced the vague dread which had followed him towards Possana, and
made him glad of any delay that kept them from it.

They entered the crooked, narrow street leading abruptly from the
open country without any suburban hesitation into the heart of the ruin,
which kept a vivid image of uninterrupted mediaeval life. There, till
within the actual generation, people had dwelt, winter and summer, as
they had dwelt from the beginning of Christian times, with nothing to
intimate a domestic or civic advance. This street must have been the
main thoroughfare, for stone-paved lanes, still narrower, wound from it
here and there, while it kept a fairly direct course to the little
piazza on a height in the midst of the town. Two churches and a simple
town house partly enclosed it with their seamed and shattered façades.
The dwellings here were more ruinous than on the thoroughfare, and some
were tumbled in heaps. But Lanfear pushed open the door of one of the
churches, and found himself in an interior which, except that it was
roofless, could not have been greatly changed since the people had
flocked into it to pray for safety from the earthquake. The high altar
stood unshaken; around the frieze a succession of stucco cherubs
perched, under the open sky, in celestial security.

He had learned to look for the unexpected in Miss Gerald, and he
could not have said that it was with surprise he now found her as
capable of the emotions which the place inspired, as himself. He made
sure of saying: “The earthquake, you know,” and she
responded with compassion:

“Oh yes; and perhaps that poor man was here, praying with the
rest, when it happened. How strange it must all have seemed to them,
here where they lived so safely always! They thought such a dreadful
thing could happen to others, but not to them. That is the
way!”

It seemed to Lanfear once more that she was on the verge of the
knowledge so long kept from her. But she went confidently on like a
sleepwalker who saves himself from dangers that would be death to him in
waking. She spoke of the earthquake as if she had been reading or
hearing of it; but he doubted if, with her broken memory, this could be
so. It was rather as if she was exploring his own mind in the way of
which he had more than once been sensible, and making use of his memory.
From time to time she spoke of remembering, but he knew that this was as
the blind speak of seeing.

He was anxious to get away, and at last they came out to where they
had left the peasant girl waiting beside her donkey. She was not there,
and after trying this way and that in the tangle of alleys, Lanfear
decided to take the thoroughfare which they had come up by and trust to
the chance of finding her at its foot. But he failed even of his search
for the street: he came out again and again at the point he had started
from.

“What is the matter?” she asked at the annoyance he could
not keep out of his face.

He laughed. “Oh, merely that we’re lost. But we will wait
here till that girl chooses to come back for us. Only it’s getting
late, and Mr. Gerald—”

“Why, I know the way down,” she said, and started quickly
in a direction which, as they kept it, he recognized as the route by
which he had emerged from the town the day before. He had once more the
sense of his memory being used by her, as if being blind, she had taken
his hand for guidance, or as if being herself disabled from writing, she
had directed a pen in his grasp to form the words she desired to put
down. In some mystical sort the effect was hers, but the means was
his.

They found the girl waiting with the donkey by the roadside beyond
the last house. She explained that, not being able to follow them into
the church with her donkey, she had decided to come where they found her
and wait for them there.

“Does no one at all live here?” Lanfear asked,
carelessly.

“Among the owls and the spectres? I would not pass a night here
for a lemonade! My mother,” she went on, with a natural pride in
the event, “was lost in the earthquake. They found her with me
before her breast, and her arms stretched out keeping the stones
away.” She vividly dramatized the fact. “I was alive, but
she was dead.”

“Tell her,” Miss Gerald said, “that my mother is
dead, too.”

“Ah, poor little thing!” the girl said, when the message
was delivered, and she put her beast in motion, chattering gayly to Miss
Gerald in the bond of their common orphanhood.

The return was down-hill, and they went back in half the time it had
taken them to come. But even with this speed they were late, and the
twilight was deepening when the last turn of their road brought them in
sight of the new village. There a wild noise of cries for help burst
upon the air, mixed with the shrill sound of maniac gibbering. They saw
a boy running towards the town, and nearer them a man struggling with
another, whom he had caught about the middle, and was dragging towards
the side of the road where it dropped, hundreds of feet, into the gorge
below.

The donkey-girl called out: “Oh, the madman! He is killing the
signor!”

Lanfear shouted. The madman flung Gerald to the ground, and fled
shrieking. Miss Gerald had leaped from her seat, and followed Lanfear as
he ran forward to the prostrate form. She did not look at it, but within
a few paces she clutched her hands in her hair, and screamed out:
“Oh, my mother is killed!” and sank, as if sinking down into
the earth, in a swoon.

“No, no; it’s all right, Nannie! Look after her, Lanfear!
I’m not hurt. I let myself go in that fellow’s hands, and I
fell softly. It was a good thing he didn’t drop me over the
edge.” Gerald gathered himself up nimbly enough, and lent Lanfear
his help with the girl. The situation explained itself, almost without
his incoherent additions, to the effect that he had become anxious, and
had started out with the boy for a guide, to meet them, and had met the
lunatic, who suddenly attacked him. While he talked, Lanfear was feeling
the girl’s pulse, and now and then putting his ear to her heart.
With a glance at her father: “You’re bleeding, Mr.
Gerald,” he said.

“So I am,” the old man answered, smiling, as he wiped a
red stream from his face with his handkerchief. “But I am not
hurt—”

“Better let me tie it up,” Lanfear said, taking the
handkerchief from him. He felt the unselfish quality in a man whom he
had not always thought heroic, and he bound the gash above his forehead
with a reverence mingling with his professional gentleness. The
donkey-girl had not ceased to cry out and bless herself, but suddenly,
as her care was needed in getting Miss Gerald back to the litter, she
became a part of the silence in which the procession made its way slowly
into Possana Nuova, Lanfear going on one side, and Mr. Gerald on the
other to support his daughter in her place. There was a sort of muted
outcry of the whole population awaiting them at the door of the locanda
where they had halted before, and which now had the distinction of
offering them shelter in a room especially devoted to the poor young
lady, who still remained in her swoon.

When the landlord could prevail with his fellow-townsmen and
townswomen to disperse in her interest, and had imposed silence upon his
customers indoors, Lanfear began his vigil beside his patient in as
great quiet as he could anywhere have had. Once during the evening the
public physician of the district looked in, but he agreed with Lanfear
that nothing was to be done which he was not doing in his greater
experience of the case. From time to time Gerald had suggested sending
for some San Remo physician in consultation. Lanfear had always
approved, and then Gerald had not persisted. He was strongly excited,
and anxious not so much for his daughter’s recovery from her
swoon, which he did not doubt, as for the effect upon her when she
should have come to herself.

It was this which he wished to discuss, sitting fallen back into his
chair, or walking up and down the room, with his head bound with a
bloody handkerchief, and looking, with a sort of alien picturesqueness,
like a kindly brigand.

Lanfear did not leave his place beside the bed where the girl lay,
white and still as if dead. An inexpressible compassion for the poor man
filled his heart. Whatever the event should be, it would be tragical for
him. “Go to sleep, Mr. Gerald,” he said. “Your waking
can do no good. I will keep watch, and if need be, I’ll call you.
Try to make yourself easy on that couch.”

“I shall not sleep,” the old man answered. “How
could I?” Nevertheless, he adjusted himself to the hard pillows of
the lounge where he had been sitting and drowsed among them. He woke
just before dawn with a start. “I thought she had come to, and
knew everything! What a nightmare! Did I groan? Is there any
change?”

Lanfear, sitting by the bed, in the light of the wasting candle,
which threw a grotesque shadow of him on the wall, shook his head. After
a moment he asked: “How long did you tell me her swoon had lasted
after the accident to her mother?”

“I don’t think she recovered consciousness for two days,
and then she remembered nothing. What do you think are the chances of
her remembering now?”

“I don’t know. But there’s a kind of psychopathic
logic—If she lost her memory through one great shock, she might
find it through another.”

“Yes, yes!” the father said, rising and walking to and
fro, in his anguish. “That was what I thought—what I was
afraid of. If I could die myself, and save her from living through
it—I don’t know what I’m saying! But if—but
if—if she could somehow be kept from it a little longer! But she
can’t, she can’t! She must know it now when she
wakes.”

Lanfear had put up his hand, and taken the girl’s slim wrist
quietly between his thumb and finger, holding it so while her father
talked on.

“I suppose it’s been a sort of weakness—a sort of
wickedness—in me to wish to keep it from her; but I have
wished that, doctor; you must have seen it, and I can’t deny it.
We ought to bear what is sent us in this world, and if we escape we must
pay for our escape. It has cost her half her being, I know it; but it
hasn’t cost her her reason, and I’m afraid for that, if she
comes into her memory now. Still, you must do—But no one can do
anything either to hinder or to help!”

He was talking in a husky undertone, and brokenly, incoherently. He
made an appeal, which Lanfear seemed not to hear, where he remained
immovable with his hand on the girl’s pulse.

“Do you think I am to blame for wishing her never to know it,
though without it she must remain deprived of one whole side of life? Do
you think my wishing that can have had anything to do with keeping
her—But this faint may pass and she may wake from it just
as she has been. It is logical that she should remember; but is it
certain that she will?”

A murmur, so very faint as to be almost no sound at all, came like a
response from the girl’s lips, and she all but imperceptibly
stirred. Her father neither heard nor saw, but Lanfear started forward.
He made a sudden clutch at the girl’s wrist with the hand that had
not left it and then remained motionless. “She will never remember
now—here.”

He fell on his knees beside the bed and began to sob. “Oh, my
dearest! My poor girl! My love!” still keeping her wrist in his
hand, and laying his head tenderly on her arm. Suddenly he started, with
a shout: “The pulse!” and fell forward, crushing his ear
against her heart, and listened with bursts of: “It’s
beating! She isn’t dead! She’s alive!” Then he lifted
her in his arms, and it was in his embrace that she opened her eyes, and
while she clung to him, entreated:

“My father! Where is he?”

A dread fell upon both the men, blighting the joy with which they
welcomed her back to life. She took her father’s head between her
hands, and kissed his bruised face. “I thought you were dead; and
I thought that mamma—” She stopped, and they waited
breathless. “But that was long ago, wasn’t it?”

“Yes,” her father eagerly assented. “Very long
ago.”

“I remember,” she sighed. “I thought that I was
killed, too. Was it all a dream?” Her father and Lanfear
looked at each other. Which should speak? “This is Doctor Lanfear,
isn’t it?” she asked, with a dim smile. “And I’m
not dreaming now, am I?” He had released her from his arms, but
she held his hand fast. “I know it is you, and papa; and yes, I
remember everything. That terrible pain of forgetting is gone!
It’s beautiful! But did he hurt you badly, papa? I saw him, and I
wanted to call to you. But mamma—”

However the change from the oblivion of the past had been operated,
it had been mercifully wrought. As far as Lanfear could note it, in the
rapture of the new revelation to her which it scarcely needed words to
establish, the process was a gradual return from actual facts to the
things of yesterday and then to the things of the day before, and so
back to the tragedy in which she had been stricken. There was no sudden
burst of remembrance, but a slow unveiling of the reality in which her
spirit was mystically fortified against it. At times it seemed to him
that the effect was accomplished in her by supernatural agencies such
as, he remembered once somewhere reading, attend the souls of those
lately dead, and explore their minds till every thought and deed of
their earthly lives, from the last to the first, is revealed to them out
of an inner memory which can never, any jot or tittle, perish. It was as
if this had remained in her intact from the blow that shattered her
outer remembrance. When the final, long-dreaded horror was reached, it
was already a sorrow of the past, suffered and accepted with the
resignation which is the close of grief, as of every other passion.

Love had come to her help in the time of her need, but not love alone
helped her live back to the hour of that supreme experience and beyond
it. In the absorbing interest of her own renascence, the shock, more
than the injury which her father had undergone, was ignored, if not
neglected. Lanfear had not, indeed, neglected it; but he could not help
ignoring it in his happiness, as he remembered afterwards in the
self-reproach which he would not let the girl share with him. Nothing,
he realized, could have availed if everything had been done which he did
not do; but it remained a pang with him that he had so dimly felt his
duty to the gentle old man, even while he did it. Gerald lived to
witness his daughter’s perfect recovery of the self so long lost
to her; he lived, with a joy more explicit than their own, to see her
the wife of the man to whom she was dearer than love alone could have
made her. He lived beyond that time, rejoicing, if it may be so said, in
the fond memories of her mother which he had been so long forbidden by
her affliction to recall. Then, after the spring of the Riviera had
whitened into summer, and San Remo hid, as well as it could, its sunny
glare behind its pines and palms, Gerald suffered one long afternoon
through the heat till the breathless evening, and went early to bed. He
had been full of plans for spending the rest of the summer at the little
place in New England where his daughter knew that her mother lay. In the
morning he did not wake.

“He gave his life that I might have mine!” she lamented
in the first wild grief.

“No, don’t say that, Nannie,” her husband
protested, calling her by the pet name which her father always used.
“He is dead; but if we owe each other to his loss, it is because
he was given, not because he gave himself.”

“Oh, I know, I know!” she wailed. “But he would
gladly have given himself for me.”

That, perhaps, Lanfear could not have denied, and he had no wish to
do so. He had a prescience of happiness for her which the future did not
belie; and he divined that a woman must not be forbidden the extremes
within which she means to rest her soul.


William Dean Howells

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