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0100_005E VII. A Year of Nobility Henry van Dyke

A Happy Ending Which Is Also A Beginning

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"Well, then," said he, still holding her warm shoulders, "if you hate me, I am going home tomorrow."

The sobs calmed down quickly. She bent herself forward so that he could see the rosy nape of her neck with the curling tendrils of brown hair around it.

"But," she said, "but, Jean,--do you love me for sure?"

After that the path was level, easy, and very quickly travelled. On Sunday afternoon the priest was notified that his services would be needed for a wedding, the first week in May. Pierre's consent was genial and hilarious. The marriage suited him exactly. It was a family alliance. It made everything move smooth and certain. The property would be kept together.

But the other little interfering gods had not yet been heard from. One of them, who had special charge of what remained of the soul of the dealer in unclaimed estates, put it into his head to go to Three Rivers first, instead of to St. Gedeon.

He had a good many clients in different parts of the country,-- temporary clients, of course,--and it occurred to him that he might as well extract another fifty dollars from Pierre Lamotte DIT Theophile, before going on a longer journey. On his way down from Montreal he stopped in several small towns and slept in beds of various quality.

Another of the little deities (the one that presides over unclean villages; decidedly a false god, but sufficiently powerful) arranged a surprise for the travelling lawyer. It came out at Three Rivers.

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He arrived about nightfall, and slept at the hotel, feeling curiously depressed. The next morning he was worse; but he was a resolute and industrious dog, after his own fashion. So he hired a buggy and drove out through the mud to Pierre's place. They heard the wagon stop at the gate, and went out to see who it was.

The man was hardly recognizable: face pale, lips blue, eyes dull, teeth chattering.

"Get me out of this," he muttered. "I am dying. God's sake, be quick!"

They helped him to the house, and he immediately went into a convulsion. From this he passed into a raging fever. Pierre took the buggy and drove posthaste to town for a doctor.

The doctor's opinion was evidently serious, but his remarks were non-committal.

"Keep him in this room. Give him ten drops of this in water every hour. One of these powders if he becomes violent. One of you must stay with him all the time. Only one, you understand. The rest keep away. I will come back in the morning."

In the morning the doctor's face was yet more grave. He examined the patient carefully. Then he turned to Jean, who had acted as nurse.

"I thought so," said he; "you must all be vaccinated immediately. There is still time, I hope. But what to do with this gentleman, God knows. We can't send him back to the town. He has the small- pox."

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The Ruling Passion
Henry van Dyke

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