Mrs. Dodd utter a faint shriek: "Apoplexy! Oh, David! Oh, my darling, have you come home for this?"
Osmond assured her apoplexy was not necessarily fatal; provided the cerebral blood-vessels were relieved in time by depletion.
The fixed eye and terrible stertorous breathing on the one hand, and the promise of relief on the other, overpowered Mrs. Dodd's reluctance. She sent Julia out of the room on a pretext, and then consented with tears to David's being bled. But she would not yield to leave the room. No; this tender woman nerved herself to see her husband's blood flow, sooner than risk his being bled too much by the hard hand of custom. Let the peevish fools, who make their own troubles in love, compare their slight and merited pangs with this: she was his true lover and his wife, yet there she stood with eye horror-stricken yet unflinching, and saw the stab of the little lancet, and felt it deeper than she would a javelin through her own body, and watched the blood run that was dearer to her than her own.
At the first prick of the lancet David shivered, and, as the blood escaped, his eye unfixed, and the pupils contracted and dilated, and once he sighed. "Good sign that!" said Osmond.
"Oh, that is enough, sir," said Mrs. Dodd: "we shall faint if you take any more.
Osmond closed the vein, observing that a local bleeding would do the rest. When he had staunched the blood, Mrs. Dodd sank half fainting in her chair. By some marvellous sympathy it was she who had been bled, and whose vein was now closed. Osmond sprinkled water on her face; she thanked him, and said sweetly, "You see I could not have lost any more."
When it was over she came to tell Julia; she found her sitting on the stairs crying and pale as marble. She suspected. And there was Alfred hanging over her, and in agony at her grief: out came his love for her in words and accents unmistakable, and this in Osmond's hearing and the maid's.
"Oh, hush! hush!" cried poor Mrs. Dodd, and her face was seen to burn through her tears.