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III The Heart Of Man Anna Katharine Green


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"No, no; his name is Oswald. He's the manager of these Works. He's sick with typhoid. We are caring for him. If you belonged here you would know that much. There! that's his voice you hear. Go, if you have any mercy." And she began to push to the door.

But Sweetwater was impervious to all hint. With eager eyes straining into the shadowy depths just visible over her shoulder, he listened eagerly for the disjointed words now plainly to be heard in some near-by but unseen chamber.

"The second 0. B.! he inwardly declared. "And he's a Brotherson also, and - sick! Miss Scott," he whisperingly entreated as her hand fell in manifest despair from the door, "don't send me away yet. I've a question of the greatest importance to put you, and one minute more cannot make any difference to him. Listen! those cries are the cries of delirium; he cannot miss you; he's not even conscious."

"He's calling out in his sleep. He's calling her, just as he has called for the last two weeks. But he will wake conscious - or he will not wake at all.

The anguish trembling in that latter phrase would have attracted Sweetwater's earnest, if not pitiful, attention at any other time, but now he had ears only for the cry which at that moment came ringing shrilly from within -

"Edith! Edith!"

The living shouting for the dead! A heart still warm sending forth its longing to the pierced and pulseless one, hidden in a far-off tomb! To Sweetwater, who had seen Miss Challoner buried, this summons of distracted love came with weird force.

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Then the present regained its sway. He heard her name again, and this time it sounded less like a call and more like the welcoming cry of meeting spirits. Was death to end this separation? Had he found the true 0. B., only to behold another and final seal fall upon this closely folded mystery? In his fear of this possibility, he caught at Doris' hand as she was about to bound away, and eagerly asked:

"When was Mr. Brotherson taken ill? Tell me, I entreat you; the exact day and, if you can, the exact hour. More depends upon this than you can readily realise.

She wrenched her hand from his, panting with impatience and a vague alarm. But she answered him distinctly:

"On the Twenty-fifth of last month, just an hour after he was made manager. He fell in a faint at the Works."

The day - the very day of Miss Challoner's death!

"Had he heard - did you tell him then or afterwards what happened in New York on that very date?"

"No, no, we have not told him. It would have killed him - and may yet."

"Edith! Edith! came again through the hush, a hush so deep that Sweetwater received the impression that the house was empty save for patient and nurse.

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