Altogether, it was a picture to delight an artist's eye; yet Miss Thane seemed scarcely to enjoy it. On the way hither she had been silent, shut up within herself, neither seeking nor giving amusement; and she now stood a little apart, letting her eyes rove absently from point to point, but without appearing to take intelligent cognizance of any! Yet she seemed to be listening, after awhile, to the voice of the white-haired negro preacher who occupied the stand, and talked of the comfort of religious faith in a way to argue profound personal knowledge of the subject,¡ªalbeit, his phraseology was illiterate, and occasionally absurd, calling a smile to some faces in the party. But Diva did not smile; her thoughts were evidently far below the surface of the subject, in depths where the gleaming ripple of the comic was unfelt and unseen.
"Thank Heaven! you are come at last, Bergan!" he exclaimed, starting up to go and meet him.
But here, he was unexpectedly disappointed, in a measure. Whether it were that enough of her recollection revived to associate him dimly with anxiety and distress; or whether, her reason being in abeyance, she was more controlled by her pure and delicate instincts; certain it is, that Carice's fever no sooner left her, than she developed the most unconquerable aversion to him, amounting in time to a degree of terror. At his approach, she either hid her face, and trembled like an aspen leaf, or she fled with cries of fright. And these moments of excitement were followed by such alarming prostration, that Doctor Remy was reluctantly compelled to admit the necessity of keeping out of her sight. His investigations had thenceforth to be conducted through the agency of her parents or of Rosa. Now and then, when she slept,¡ªand her sleep was always singularly profound, the very twin brother of death,¡ªhe stole into her room, to acquaint himself with some particular of the location, depth, or progress in healing, of the injury to her head, and to satisfy himself of the state of her general health.
Perhaps Bergan heard something of all this; at any rate, that cry from the river, whether real or imagined, had broken the thread of his review of the past, and brought back his mind to the question of the future. What was to be done? Leave Berganton, of course. The place was not wide enough to hold Carice and himself, with comfort to either. If her marriage had been brought about in the way that he suspected, the sight of him would scarce conduce to her peace; while the sight of her, in her new relation, could only cause him useless pain. Moreover, he had seen, from the first, that Berganton afforded little scope for talent; none whatever for ambition. And, now that his life seemed likely to be limited to its public side, and to have no sweet, compensating domestic one, he felt the necessity of directing its course to some quarter where there was room for proper expansion.
Dick Causton's cottage¡ªas it was called by courtesy, being, in truth, only a better sort of cabin¡ªstood on a sandy corner of the estate that he had formerly owned. At first, he had begged to remain there only until he could fix upon some more eligible place of abode; but the owner was good natured, and Dick was indolent to the point not only of letting well enough alone, but bad enough, too; so it gradually came to be understood that he was a life-tenant, by sufferance, of the place. Nor did the owner deem it worth while to interfere, when, in course of time, Dick made the discovery that the sand composing this small domain was of superior quality, and proceeded to convert it into cash, at the rate of two or three pennies a load, and to swallow it a second time, in the shape of alcohol. The process ceased only when the digging threatened to undermine the cottage; which was thus left high and dry upon a triangular sand promontory, with a deep excavation on each side. The base of the triangle¡ªa part of it, at least¡ªtouched the boundary line of Oakstead, very near the point where Bergan had been left for dead by "Big Ben."
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