By Robert W. Buchanan
In Three Volumes, Vol. II.
Chatto And Windos, Piccadilly
CHAPTER XIV. BAPTISTO STAYS AT HOME.
CHAPTER XV. CONJURATION.
CHAPTER XVI. AT THE OPERA.
CHAPTER XVII. WALTER HETHERINGTON.
CHAPTER XVIII. CHURCH BELLS—AND A DISCORD.
CHAPTER XIX. HE IS BUT A LANDSCAPE PAINTER
CHAPTER XX. IN THE GLOAMING.
CHAPTER XXI. IN THE VICARAGE PARLOUR.
CHAPTER XXII. AT THE VICARAGE.
CHAPTER XXIII. DR. DUPRÉ'S ELIXIR.
CHAPTER XXIV. THE EXPERIMENT.
CHAPTER XXV. "BEWARE, MY LORD, OF JEALOUSY!"
CHAPTER XXVI. FIRST LEAVES FROM A PHILOSOPHER NOTE-BOOK.
CHAPTER XXVII. THE NOTE-BOOK CONTINUED NYMPH AND SATYR.
CHAPTER XIV. BAPTISTO STAYS AT HOME.
As Haldane sat in his study, the evening previous to the morning fixed for his journey to London, Baptisto entered quickly and stood before the desk at which his master was busily writing.
"Can I speak to you, senor?" Haldane looked and nodded.
"What is it, Baptisto?"
"You have arranged that I shall go with you to-morrow, but I have had during the last few days an attack of my old vertigo. Can you possibly dispense with my attendance, senor?" Haldane stared in surprise at the Spaniards face, which was inscrutable as usual.
"Do you mean to say you wish to remain at home?"
"Why? because you are ill? On the contrary, you look in excellent health. No; it is impossible. I cannot get along without you."
And Haldane returned to his papers as if the matter was ended.
Baptisto, however, did not budge, but remained in the same position, with his dark eyes fixed upon his master.
"Do me this favour, senor. I am really indisposed, and must beg to remain."
Haldane laughed, for an idea suddenly occurred to him which seemed to explain the mystery of his servant's request.
"My good Baptisto, I think I understand the cause of your complaint, and I am sure a little travel will do you good. It is that dark-eyed widow of the lodge-keeper who attaches you so much to the Manor. The warm blood of Spain still burns in your veins, and, despite your sad experience of women, you are still impressionable. Eh? am I right?"
Baptisto quickly shook his head, with the least suspicion of a smile upon his swarthy face.
"I am not impressionable, senor, and I do not admire your English women; but I wish to remain all the same."
"Nonsense! In serious lament, senor, I beseech you to allow me to remain."
But Haldane was not to be persuaded at what he conceived to be a mere whim of his servant. He still believed that Baptisto had fallen a captive to the charms of Mrs. Feme, a little plump, dark-eyed woman, with a large family. He had frequently of late seen the Spaniard hanging about the lodge—on one occasion nursing and dandling the youngest child—and he had smiled to himself, thinking that the poor fellow's misanthropy, or rather his misogynism, was in a fair way of coming to an end.
Finding his master indisposed to take his request seriously, Baptisto retired; and presently Haldane strolled into the drawing-room, where he found his wife.
"Have you heard of the last freak of Baptisto? He actually wants to remain at ease, instead of accompanying me in my journey."
Ellen looked up from some embroidery, in which she was busily engaged.
"On no account!" she exclaimed. "If you don't take him with you, I. shall not stay in the place."
"Dear me! said the philosopher. Surely you are not afraid of poor Baptisto!"
"Not afraid of him exactly, but he makes me shiver. He comes and goes like a ghost, and when you least expect him, he is at your elbow. Then, of course, I cannot help remembering he has committed a murder!"
"Nothing of the kind," said Haldane, laughing and throwing himself into a chair. "My dear Ellen, you don't believe the whole truth of that affair. True, he surprised that Spanish wife of his with her gallant, whom he stabbed; but I have it on excellent authority that it was a kind of duello; the other man was armed, and so it was a fair fight." Ellen shuddered, and showed more nervous agitation than her husband could quite account for.
"Take him away with you," she cried; "take him away. If you never bring him back, I shall rejoice. If I had been consulted, he would never have been brought to England."
A little later in the evening, when Haldane had returned to his papers, which he was diligently finishing to take away with him, he rang and summoned the Spaniard to his presence.
"Well, it is all settled. I have consulted your mistress, and she insists in your accompanying me to-morrow."
A sharp flash came upon Baptisto's dark eyes. He made an angry gesture; then controlling himself, he said in a low, emphatic voice—
"The senora means it? She does not wish me to remain?"
"May I ask why?
"Only because she does not want you, and I do.