A Woman Hater

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Author: Charles Reade

Chapter XXX.

AT one o’clock next day, Ashmead received a note from Mademoiselle Klosking, saying, "Arrange with Mr. X---- to close my tour with Manchester. Pay the fortnight, if required." She was with the company at a month’s notice on either side, you must understand.

Instead of going to the manager, he went at once, in utter dismay, to Mademoiselle Klosking, and there learned in substance what I must now briefly relate.

Miss Gale found Edward Severne deposited on a sofa. Ina was on her knees by his side, sponging his bleeding temple, with looks of gentle pity. Strange to say, the wound was in the same place as his wife’s, but more contused, and no large vein was divided. Miss Gale soon stanched that. She asked him where his pain was. He said it was in his head and his back; and he cast a haggard, anxious look on her.

"Take my arm," said she. "Now, stand up."

He tried, but could not, and said his legs were benumbed. Miss Gale looked grave.

"Lay him on my bed," said La Klosking. "That is better than these hard couches."

"You are right," said Miss Gale. "Ring for the servants. He must be moved gently."

He was carried in, and set upon the edge of the bed, and his coat and waistcoat taken off. Then he was laid gently down on the bed, and covered with a down quilt.

Doctress Gale then requested Ina to leave the room, while she questioned the patient.

Ina retired. In a moment or two Miss Gale came out to her softly.

At sight of her face, La Klosking said, "Oh, dear; it is more serious than we thought."

"Very serious.

"Poor Edward!"

"Collect all your courage, for I cannot lie, either to patient or friend."

"And you are right," said La Klosking, trembling. "I see he is in danger."

"Worse than that. Where there’s danger there is hope. Here there is none. HE IS A DEAD MAN!"

"Oh, no! no!"

"He has broken his back, and nothing can save him. His lower limbs have already lost sensation. Death will creep over the rest. Do not disturb your mind with idle hopes. You have two things to thank God for—that you took him into your own house, and that he will die easily. Indeed, were he to suffer, I should stupefy him at once, for nothing can him."

Ina Klosking turned faint and her knees gave way under her. Rhoda ministered to her; and while she was so employed, Dr. Menteith was announced. He was shown in to the patient, and the accident described to him. He questioned the patient, and examined him alone.

He then came out, and said he would draw a prescription. He did so.

"Doctor," said La Klosking, "tell me the truth. It cannot be worse than I fear."

"Madam," said the doctor, "medicine can do nothing for him. The spinal cord is divided. Give him anything he fancies, and my prescription if he suffers pain, not otherwise. Shall I send you a nurse?"

"No," said Mademoiselle Klosking, will nurse him night and day."

He retired, and the friends entered on their sad duties.

When Severne saw them both by his bedside, with earnest looks of pity, he said, "Do not worry yourselves. I’m booked for the long journey. Ah, well, I shall die where I ought to have lived, and might have, if I had not been a fool."

Ina wept bitterly.

They nursed him night and day. He suffered little, and when he did, Miss Gale stupefied the pain at once; for, as she truly said, "Nothing can hurt him." Vitality gradually retired to his head, and lingered there a whole day. But, to his last moment, the art of pleasing never abandoned him. Instead of worrying for this or that every moment, he showed in this desperate condition singular patience and well-bred fortitude. He checked his wife’s tears; assured her it was all for the best, and that he was reconciled to the inevitable. "I have had a happier time than I deserve," said he, "and now I have a painless death, nursed by two sweet women. My only regret is that I shall not be able to repay your devotion, Ina, nor become worthy of your friendship, Miss Gale."

He died without fear, it being his conviction that he should return after death to the precise condition in which he was before birth; and when they begged him to see a clergyman, he said, "Pray do not give yourselves or him that trouble. I can melt back into the universe without his assistance."

He even died content; for this polished Bohemian had often foreseen that, if he lived long, he should die miserably.

But the main feature of his end was his extraordinary politeness. He paid Miss Gale compliments just as if he were at his ease on a sofa: and scarce an hour before his decease he said, faintly, "I declare—I have been so busy—dying—I have forgotten to send my kind regards to good Mr. Ashmead. Pray tell him I did not forget his kindness to me."

He just ceased to live, so quiet was his death, and a smile rested on his dead features, and they were as beautiful as ever.

So ended a fair, pernicious creature, endowed too richly with the art of pleasing, and quite devoid of principle. Few bad men knew right so well, and went so wrong. Ina buried her face for hours on his bed, and kissed his cold features and hand. She had told him before he died she would recall all her resolutions, if he would live. But he was gone. Death buries a man’s many faults, and his few virtues rise again. She mourned him sincerely, and would not be comforted; she purchased a burying place forever, and laid him in it; then she took her aching heart far away, and was lost to the public and to all her English friends.

The faithful Rhoda accompanied her half way to London; then returned to her own duties in Barfordshire.

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Chicago: Charles Reade, "Chapter XXX.," A Woman Hater, ed. Macaulay, G. C. (George Campbell), 1852-1915 and trans. Evans, Sebastian in A Woman Hater Original Sources, accessed February 23, 2024, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=8EZWTGZEKGTQJ1F.

MLA: Reade, Charles. "Chapter XXX." A Woman Hater, edited by Macaulay, G. C. (George Campbell), 1852-1915, and translated by Evans, Sebastian, in A Woman Hater, Original Sources. 23 Feb. 2024. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=8EZWTGZEKGTQJ1F.

Harvard: Reade, C, 'Chapter XXX.' in A Woman Hater, ed. and trans. . cited in , A Woman Hater. Original Sources, retrieved 23 February 2024, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=8EZWTGZEKGTQJ1F.