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      [Pg 64]Why? she asked, not unreasonably.

      "Never. That is a disease. I am in health."

      "You are fond of art, then?" said Isola, watching the earnest face of the speaker.

      "Your case is not desperate, this time," said he, "though I can see that it is painful. Your cold, being unwisely left to run its own course, has resulted in inflammation of the throat, and, partially, of the lungs. But it is not beyond present relief, nor permanent cure, I think. At least, we shall soon see."

      Her fears, however, took a different direction from what Doctor Remy had anticipated. He had intended his alteration of manner to suggest the grave, stern reserve of a man, who, though he had himself lost confidence in his friend, is still honorably reluctant to injure him in the estimation of another. But from any such suggestion, Carice's mind was shielded by her loyal faith in her lover, as by an armor of proof. Dr. Remy's change of manner only served to strengthen her growing conviction that Bergan's failure either to write, or to appear in person, could be caused by nothing short of some great and unexpected calamity. As her eyes followed a swift cloud-shadow from object to object of the summer landscape, so her mind followed the dark shade of her fears from point to point of possible ill. Perhaps the fever, quitting his mother, had fastened upon Bergan himself; perhaps he was ill, suffering, unconscious, dying, even, orthe thought shook her like a sudden blowdead! Gasping for breath, she leaned against a friendly tree, and closed her eyes, as if to shut out the agonizing vision, which, nevertheless, rose but the more vividly before her. Quickly opening them again, she saw Doctor Remy coming toward her from the direction of the cottage. He had espied her from the piazza, as he was taking his leave, after having spent a half-hour with her mother.



      "How lightly you talk, Allegra."


      [Pg 172]