One memorable day Leroy hastened over to us while we were still at breakfast to say that Judith was ill, -- strangely ill. All night long she had been muttering to herself as if in a delirium. Yet she answered lucidly all questions that were put to her.
"She begs for Miss Grant. She says over and over that she 'knows,' whatever that may mean."
When Jessica came home she told me she did not know. She only felt that a tumult of impatience was stirring in her friend.
"There is something majestic about her, -- something epic. I feel as if she were mak- ing me live a part in some great drama, the end of which I cannot tell. She is suffering, but I cannot tell why she suffers."
Weeks went on without an abatement in this strange illness. She did not keep her bed. Indeed, she neglected few of her usual occupations. But her hands were burning, and her eyes grew bright with that wild sort of lustre one sees in the eyes of those who give themselves up to strange drugs or manias. She grew whimsical, and formed capricious friendships, only to drop them.
And then one day she closed her house to all acquaintances, and sat alone continu- ally in her room, with her hands clasped in her lap, and her eyes swimming with the emotions that never found their way to her tongue.
Brainard came to the office to talk with me about her one day. "I am a very miser- able man, Grant," he said. "I am afraid I have lost my wife's regard. Oh, don't tell me it is partly my fault. I know it well enough. And I know you haven't had a very good opinion of me lately. But I am remorseful enough now, God knows. And I would give my life to see her as she was when I found her first among the mountains. Why, she used to climb them like a strong man, and she was forever shouting and singing. And she had peopled every spot with strange modern mythological creatures. Her father is an old dreamer, and she got the trick from him. They had a little telescope on a great knoll in the centre of the valley, just where it commanded a long path of stars, and they used to spend nights out there when the frost literally fell in flakes. When I think how hardy and gay she was, how full of courage and life, and look at her now, so feverish and broken, I feel as if I should go mad. You know I never meant to do her any harm. Tell me that much, Grant."
"I think you were very egotistical for a while, Brainard, and that is a fact. And you didn't appreciate how much her nature demanded. But I do not think you are re- sponsible for your wife's present condition. If there is any comfort in that statement, you are welcome to it."