Georgiana Fullerton.

Mrs. Gerald's niece (Volume 3) online

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Chapter X. 1

Chapter XI 38


CflAPTEll Xm .111

Chapter XIV 237

Chaptrk XV 271

Chapter XVI 2J)9

Chapter XVII 343

v> 'ij/ *^ O «J «J'



Three clays had elapsed since the visit of the
Lortons, and since then no one had called at
the Villa Hendon. Edgar was getting gra-
dually worse. He was evidently very ill, and
Ita began to feel that sudden terror of
encountering such a trial, far from home and
friends, which often abroad takes young
people by surprise. They have not pictured
it to themselves till it has actually come npon

Edgar was not much disposed at any time
to see a physician ; and an Italian one espe-
cially she knew he would not hear of. He
had been always more or less delicate, but,


Mrs. Gerald's Niece.

since slie had known liim, never really ill.
She felt perplexed at her loneliness. His
disinclination to cultivate the acquaintance of
her Mentonese friends had reduced her inter-
course with them to the exchange of a few
formal visits, and among the English visitors,
of which the number was comparatively-
small at that time, she only knew the Nilsons
and Mr. Neville. She was not sorry when
after going in and out of her husband's
room all the morning, and feeling every hour
more restless and anxious, she saw from the
window where she was standing in a listless
manner gazing absently on the sea, and
wondering whence help would come to her,
Mrs. Nilson approaching the gate, and then
walking into the garden. She hastened to the
drawing-room, and rang the bell at once to
tell the servant to show her in. "It is very
kind of you to call," she said, going to meet
her; "I am very glad to see you. Mr.
Derwent is very unwell indeed ; what ought
I to do about a doctor? Lady Emily had
always her own with her, and so I know
nothing about the physicians here."

Mrs. Nilson' s calm, placid face contrasted

Mrs. Gerald's Niece.

in a remarkable manner with Ita's agfi-
tated countenance. She smiled, and said,
"We are all homoeopaths, dear Mrs, Der-
went. So we have no experience about
the allopathic physicians. Dr. Mandrossi is
reckoned the best here, I believe ; but if
you will allow me I will prescribe for Mr.
Derwent. I always doctor myself, Mr.
Nilson, and the children. We have at home
a homoeopathic medicine-chest and Dr. Bell's

Poor Ita ! could she even have made sure
of Edgar's consent, she would have dreaded
the idea of entrustinf^ him to Mrs. Nilson's
management. Without expressly refusing
the offer, she said, " I suppose Doctor Man-
drossi would want to bleed him ?"

" Certainly he would."

" But that is despairing, for he is the sort
of person that ought never to be bled !"

" You had better try some aconite and
mercury, but I should like first to feel his

Ita said that if Mrs. Nilson would be so
kind as to wait a moment, she would go and
see if her husband was awake. He had not

Mrs. GeraMs Niece.

slept for tliree nights, but sometimes dozed
off in tlie day for a while. " Dearest love,"
she said, going up to his bed, " as the
sal-volatile and camphor have done you no
good, I am sure we ought to send for a

" My darling, I will not say as old Mrs.
Sydney used to do, that I would sooner die
than be bled, but as I am sure I should die if
they bled me, it is useless to see a man whose
only idea of curing me would be to produce
his lancet."

" Then would you mind taking some
homoeopathic globules. Mrs. Nilson is here,
and she says she knows about them, and
doctors all her own family."

Edgar smiled, and said, " Dear love, spare
me Mrs. Nilson and her globules."

Poor Ita did not feel inclined to smile.
"But, Edgar, you really must do something;
you are not at all well." She saw he was
very ill. His hand was burning, and his
breathing oppressed. " Do, darling, let me
send for Dr. Mandrossi, and I shall tell him
3^ou must not be bled."

" No, my love ; get Mrs. ISTilson to lend

Mrs. GeraM^s Niece.

you her globules and her book, and jDhysic
me yourself."

This was a bright idea, and Ita thought
she would try. So she went back to the
drawing-room and said, " You know, dear
Mrs. Nilson, that men when they are ill are
not very manageable, and though my husband
thinks it very kind of you to have offered to
prescribe for him, he does not feel well
enouQ;li to see a strano-er. I mean . . . ."

" I know what you mean," Mrs. Nilson
said, with a kind smile. " But what is to be
done, will he see Doctor Mandrossi ?"

" Oh no, he will not hear of that ; I was
thinking that if you could lend me your
homoeopathic book, we could see perhaps
what he ought to take, and you would give
it me.

" Certainly. I will send the book to you
directly, and the medicine-chest with it."

"But I should like to consult witL you
as to the quantities."

I will bring it you myself."
How kind you arc," Ita said, with tears
in her eyes, "you are such a comfort to

6 Mrs. Gerald's Niece.

" I hope you seek comfort, dear Madam,
where only it can be truly found."

" I try," Ita ansAvered, the tears running
down her cheeks.

Mrs. Nilson, who was a very gentle
person, with that peculiar placid manner and
subdued voice which belong to good people
of the Evangelical school, took her hand and
said, "You do not rely, I hope, on your own
efforts ?"

" Oh no. God alone can help me to bear
this great trial."

" You have, I hope, found the truth as it
is in Jesus ?" Mrs. Nilson asked, as she
looked wistfully into the young face which in
sorrow, as in joy, never failed to interest those
who watched its expression.

'' Found the truth ! " Ita thought. " No,
she could not say she had yet found the
answer to the great question, 'What and
where is truth?'" But she was little
inclined to argue at that moment, and so she
only said, " I hope I lo^e our Blessed Lord,
and I wish and try to do his will."

Mrs. Nilson sighed. The reply did not
quite satisfy her ; but she, too, felt that that

Mrs. GeraliVs JSliece.

was not tlie time for' discussion ; so pressing
Ita's liand, she said she would go home at
once and soon return with the book and the

Ita went back to her husband's room,
and sat down by his bedside. He complained
of great soreness in the chest, and of a sharp
pain in his side. There was a painful look
of excitement in his eyes, and a flush on his
cheeks, which betokened increasing fever.
She felt dreadfully helpless, and could only
2'0 backwards and forwards from the bed
to the window, eagerly watching for Mrs.
Nilson's return, and speaking little words of
endearment to Edgar, smiling about the
globules, and saying she was sure they would
do him good. He tried to smile too, but his
sufferings were great, and to speak was
beo-innino- to be an effort. He asked Ita for


a little crucifix he always carried about with
him. She brought it, and then, hearing
the door-bell ring, went to meet Mrs.

" The fever is increasing," she said ; " his
mouth is so parched that he can hardly
speak. His hands are burning, and his

8 Mrs. Gerald's Niece.

breathing seems to me very short. I am
sure it is an inflammation of the hmgs."
"You must give him some aconite."
It was well that there was some one with
a steadier hand than poor Ita's to shake
the globules out of the bottle and count

" There, take these three, dear Madam,
to your dear patient, and let us hope they
will do him good ; and as we must think of
the poor soul as well as the body, you might,
perhaps, ask him if Mr. Nilson might come
and read to him. He would reckon it a
privilege to minister to a brother clergy-


Ita felt convinced that Mr. Nilson' s
ministrations would not be acceptable to
Edgar ; but she said she would ask him, and
she carried away the medicine. In a few
minutes she came back and said, " He has
taken them ; he is much obliged to you, but
he will not trouble Mr. J^ilson to come to him
at present. If he can attend to reading, I
can read to him, you know."

When she had given Edgar the message,
he had shaken his head, and, taking up the

Mrs. Gerald's Niece. 9

crucifix, he whispered to her, "I would
rather die, if it is Grod's will I should do so,
with this in my hand, than with any human
aid I can have here. If I should get
worse I may indeed wish to receive the
Sacrament. In that case I will let Mr.
Nilson know. You can read to me later a
few verses of the Psalms."

"I hope," Mrs. Nilson said, "that the
aconite will produce sleep, as well as reduce
the fever. I should advise you to darken
the room, and to leave Mr. Derwent quite
quiet for a while. I will remain here if I can
be of any use."

Ita said she would be glad if she would,
and, leaving the door of the bed-room open,
she came back and sat down by her. It was
a relief not to be alone duringf those hours of
anxiety. She hid her face in her hands, and
remained a moment silent.

"My dear Madam," Mrs. Nilson said,
" this is indeed a time when you must feel
the vanity of all human helps."

"No, indeed," Ita answered; "I think
God is very good in sending us human helps.
Your coming to-day, for instance, has been a

10 Mrs. Gerald's Niece.

great support to me. I should Tiave gone
distracted if I had been quite alone."

" But what I meant is, that at such
moments you must, I think, realize that no
creature can assist you ; that you must go to
God alone and pray only to Him, not like
the poor deluded Papists, who kneel before a
crucifix, or cry to the Virgin Mary in their

Ita had been feeling all that day the

paralyzing effect on the mind of an intense

anxiety, complicated by perplexity how to

act. The power of praying seemed for the

time to have forsaken her. The heavy weight

on her heart seemed to keep it from rising

to God. Thoughts and words were both

wanting. She could only plod on with a

sense of unspeakable misery, and murmur, as

she looked at a picture of the Blessed Virgin

at the foot of the Cross, which was in her

room, " Jesus, mercy ! Mary, pray for me ! "

She tried to read, but could not fix her

attention. The little act of kissing a Cross

she always wore was, however, a tacit prayer.

She could offer that up when all other effort

was impossible. " It is a time," she said, in

Mrs. Gerald's Niece. 11

answer to Mrs. Nilson's question, " when
nothing seems a help but simply clinging to
the Cross."

" The Cross, not the Crucifix," ejaculated
Mrs. Nilson.

" What is the Cross if our Lord is not
upon it," Ita exclaimed. "Oh, I envy the
poor peasants here their simple faith. It is
dreadful to come suddenly on such a dark
hour as this without knowing . . . ." She
stojDped short ; she was beginning to think

From where she was sitting, she could
see Edgar. He seemed asleep ; she went on
tiptoe to see. Yes, he was dozing. She
came back and told Mrs. Nilson that the
aconite was taking effect. " Perhaps — per-
haps he will be much better in a few hours,"
she exclaimed, with a sudden burst of hope.

"My dear Mrs. Derwent," Mrs. Nilson
whispered, " I am so distressed at what you
said just now. Allow me to improve the
opportunit}^ which may not recur again, of
asking you whether I am right in fearing
that, although belonging to our pure Re-
formed Protestant Church, you hold some

12 Mrs. Gerald's Niece.

of tlie most grievous errors of Popery. Did
you really mean that you envy the poor
ignorant Papists ?"

" Yes, I do, because they know Adiat
they believe, and we ... I, at least, do

" Oh ! my dear Madam ! how can you
say so ? Then it is evident that you have
never found Jesus. You have never seized
on his merits ; never felt certain of your
salvation through the atonement. You do
not understand what it is to be justified by
faith only, the glorious doctrine which Luther
and all the Reformers preached."

" I know what Luther thought himself of
the Reformation. A clergyman of our Church
wrote down one day for me, what he called
the Reformers' opinions of the Reformation.
I copied it into this book."

Ita opened a drawer, and opening a Letts's
diary, which she carried about with her,
showed Mrs. Nilson the following passages :

" ' The world grows worse daily. It is
evident that men are far more vindictive,
more covetous, more destitute of all mercy,
more immodest and unruly, and far worse

Mrs. Gerald's Niece. 13

than they were under the Papacy.' — Luther,
Sermon, m Postill Evang, App., voL i.
Jena, 1600. Advent.

" ' Formerly, when we were led astray by
the Pope, men readily followed good works ;
but now all their aim is to get everything for
themselves, by extortion, plunder, theft, false-
hood, and usury.' — Luther, Sermon. 26Dom.
Post Trin.

" ' All the waters of the Elbe wou:ld not
yield me tears sufficient to weep for the
miseries caused bv the Reformation.' —
Melancthon, Epist., lib. iv., Ep. 100."*

Mrs. Nilson sighed deeply. " The opinions
of men," she said, "were little to the purpose.
Read the Bible, Mrs. Derwent, read it with
prayer, and then you will know what to
believe, and you will be made free from the
bondan-e of the law."

"We read the Bible every day, Edgar
and I," Ita answered; " and we first say a
prayer that we may understand it rightly."

" That, dear Madam, may be only a for-

* See " Innovations," a lecture delivered in the Assembly
Eooms, Liverpool, April 23rd, 1868, by tlie Ecv. E. T.
Littledale, priest of the Church of England.

14 Mrs. Gerald's Niece.

mal practice. The letter killetli, it is tlie
spirit tliat gives life. It is impossible tliat
anybody can read tlic Bible with a humble
and devout spirit, and not come to a saving
knowledge of the truth. The divine simpli-
city of the Gospel speaks for itself. Will you
— will you read and pray till the light shines
upon you ?"

Ita was touched by the real earnestness
of Mrs. JSTilson's manner. She sighed, and
said, "I could almost envy you also the
firmness of your conviction — that your belief
is the true one."

" You may attain to it, my dear young

Ita shook her head, and replied, " There
are truths, or rather duties, about which
I do not yet see my way clearly. But
I, too, have some convictions which I can
never part with, and would rather die than

Too harassed to carry on the conver-
sation, she went again to the bed-room,
whither her eyes had been continually wan-
dering. Edgar was getting restless again.
He awoke, and asked for water.

Mrs. GeralcVs Niece. 15

" Ought I to try and get liim to take
some nourislinient ?" she asked, coming back
to the drawing-room.

" Some arrowroot, I should think, could
do him no harm," Mrs. Nilson answered.
*' The only difficulty is that some fevers ought
to be fed, and others starved."

What was Ita to do ? She felt almost
distracted. Edgar was beginning to be light-
headed. His answers had not been quite
coherent the last time she had spoken to him.
Her transient hope, that the globules would
work a cure, was passing away. By Mrs.
Mlson's advice, she gave him, however, some
more aconite, and made out from the book,
that six hours afterwards something else
might be administered with advantage.

" But in six hours he may be much
worse," she said.

Antonia came in just then, and told her
that Mr. Neville had called. She said she
should like to see him, and informed Mrs.
Nilson he was coming upstairs. If any-
thing could have ruffled the mild placidity of
that good woman's countenance, it would
have been that announcement. She took off

16 Mrs. Gerald's Niece.

lier spectacles, and moved to a chair near tlie

On second thoiiglitSj Ita thought she
would go and meet Mr. Neville on the
stairs, and speak to him in the dining-room.
She told Antonia to sit in her husband's
room, and fetch her if he called.

"How is Mr. Derwent?" Mr. Neville
asked, as he met her.

She did not answer, but led the way into
the dining-room. When they were there,
she said, " I am afraid he is very ill, and I
am almost out of my mind with perplexity, as
to what I ought to do."

" Abont what ?" he anxiously asked.

"About seeing an Itahan doctor or not.
Either way, I shall reproach myself. Mr.
Neville, what do you advise me to do ? "

" I suppose you are afraid of their mode
of treatment ?"

" Yes — that terrible bleeding."

" What do you think is the matter with
Mr. Derwent ?"

" 1 think it is inflammation of the lungs.
I have been giving him aconite globules,
which Mrs. Nilson recommended. She is


Mrs. Gerald's Niece. 17

upstairs, but lie would not see lier. Now I
fancy tliat lie is not quite liimself. It seemed
to me, just now, that his mind wandered. I
should like you to come into his room for a
minute, only she would think . . . ."

" I can wait till she goes. I have nothing
else to do."

" Thank you. I should be very glad,
because, if we send for the doctor, vou can
speak to him for me about not bleeding him."

" Go, and do not think of me till you want
me. I will sit here and say my office."

Ita thanked him again and went upstairs.
She found Mrs. Nilson and Antonia whisper-
ino- at the bed-room door. The former came
to meet her.

"Antonia says that it is dreadful you do

not see a doctor. She thinks he is f^fettins;

worse. I dare say it is no such thing. These

sort of people are so easily alarmed. Do not

look so frightened, dear Madam ; but I really

think the case is beyond our management,

and that you had perhaps better send for Dr.

Mandrossi. I am afraid I must go home

now. Shall I tell them as I go down to fetch

him ? "

VOL. III. 2 ;

18 Mrs. Gerald\s Niece.

" Yes, if you please. Thank you so much
for all your kindness."

" Shall I come and spend the night with

" A thousand thanks ; but Antonia and I
can manage quite well, for this night, at any

When Mrs. Nilson was gone, Ita went to
tell Mr. Neville that she had sent for the

"I cannot tell you how it frightens me,"
she said, " after he so positively objected to it."

"I think you have done quite right."

" But if he comes and says there is
danger, and he must bleed him, what am I
to do if he says he will die without it ? "

Mr. IS[eville did not answer for a moment.

"Advise me," she said, with the im-
patience of intense anxiety. He had the
habit of raising his heart to God before
giving advice, and in this case he particularly
felt the need of prayer. It would have been
cruel to refuse the counsel she asked, but to
give it was assuming a kind of responsibility,

" My advice to you is this," he said ; " if
I were you, I would tell Dr. Mandrossi, who

Mrs. Gerald's Niece. 19

is, I have heard, a good and sensible man,
how completely the practice of bleeding is
given up in England, and that the physicians
who have long known your husband's consti-
tution, have particularly warned him against
losing blood. If, when he hears this, he
still persists that it is absolutely necessary to
bleed him, I should say you must submit. I
am supposing that Mr. Derwent is not in a
state to decide the question himself. We
cannot do more than our best. We must ask
our good and mercifid God to direct us in a
decision of this kind, and then act in the
simplest manner, according to the circum-
stances in which we are placed, and which
He has ordained. Then whatever the con-
sequences may be, we shall be able to bear

These words quieted a little Ita's nervous
agitation. " You have done me good," she
said, " and now will you speak to the doctor
when he comes, and then bring him up-
stairs ? "


Ita turned back as she was leaving the
room. " Will you pray for me ; I cannot pray

20 Mrs. Gerald's Niece.

myself. There seems a dark cloud between
my soul and God. I scarcely know what
religion I belong to. All is doubt and con-
fusion. I can hardly utter a prayer."

" Try while you hold that little Cross in
your hand . . . ."

"Oh yes, that is the only thing that helps
me ^at all!'"

*' Well, but try and say * Passion of Jesus,
strengthen me, ' just those five words. Will

" Yes ; and now I will go and wait in his


Edsj'ar had been much more ill for the last
two or three days than either he or his wife
had any idea of, and that evening he grew so
much worse that, when the doctor came, he
said he was in great danger. There was
hig-h fever and severe inflammation of the
lungs. He said he would certainly, under
the circumstances, have bled any ordinary
patient, and that if, in twelve hours, an im-
provement did not take place, he should feel
himself in duty bound to resort to it as the
last chance of saving him. But he consented
to try, first, the eflPect of other remedies, and

Mrs. GeralcVs Niece. 21

left all the necessary directions for the night.
Mr. Neville stayed in the next room, and
now and then she came to tell him how Edgar
seemed. He was very agitated, almost deli-
rious for some hours, but towards morning
his breathing improved a little, and he dozed
at times.

Towards five o'clock, just as hght was
dawning in a cloudless sky, Ita came out of
the bed-room, and Edmund Neville was struck
with the expression in her face. It was quite
difiereut from what it had been before. She
said to him, " You must be very tired and
cold, I am afraid? "

"Not at aU," he answered; "do you
think he is better ? "

" I am not sure. He is sleeping just now.
Antonia has just come in, and I will stay
here a little while. Mr. Neville, what do you
expect ? Do you expect he will recover ? "

" I hope so, yes ; I think I may say I
expect it."

" You do not know how dreadful it would
be if I were to lose him now."

" I know, I know what misery it would

22 Mrs. Gerald's Niece.

" No, you do not know what would make
it so terrible. It would not be because I love
Mm so muclij or because, wliile other people
have fathers and mothers, and brothers and
sisters, I have only him, and that I should be
quite alone in the world if he were to die. It
is not that I mean . . . ."

" It would be a great, an unspeakable
sorrow," Mr. Neville answered. " But one
suffering you would be spared, the worst of
all — self-reproach. You would not have that

"I should," she said in a voice which
startled him. He waited for her to say more.
She was hesitating whether she should dis-
close the thoughts that had been crowding
into her mind during^ the silent hours of that
long night.

When the doctor went away, and she
remained fully aware that Edgar was in a very
dangerous, though not in a liopeless state,
she had sat down by his bedside, and looked
at him, and thought that perhaps this life,
with all its hopes, its joys, and its love, was
about to end, and that for both of them in
that case there would be nothing real, no-

Mrs. Gerald's Niece. 23

thing that would signify, but the world to
come. The sufferings of thirty, forty, or even
seventy years, seemed like nothing by the
light of that prevision — nothing to that
boundless space beyond these years on which
he was, perhaps, about to enter. And at
the same time with that light, an irresistible
overwhelming consciousness filled her soul,
not only that she utterly disbelieved all the
illogical, far-fetched shifts and pretences of
an unreal Cathohcism, but that she had a
positive and firm conviction that if there is a
true Church and a true religion in the world,
it is the Roman Catholic Church, and the
Roman Catholic religion.

All the theories that she had tried so hard

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