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43. CHAPTER XLIII. (continued)
Fitzpiers aroused himself, came a little nearer, and examined Winterborne as he stood. His inspection was concluded in a mere glance. Before he spoke he looked at her contemplatively as to the effect of his coming words.
"He is dying," he said, with dry precision.
"What?" said she.
"Nothing can be done, by me or any other man. It will soon be all over. The extremities are dead already." His eyes still remained fixed on her; the conclusion to which he had come seeming to end his interest, professional and otherwise, in Winterborne forever.
"But it cannot be! He was well three days ago."
"Not well, I suspect. This seems like a secondary attack, which has followed some previous illness--possibly typhoid--it may have been months ago, or recently."
"Ah--he was not well--you are right. He was ill--he was ill when I came."
There was nothing more to do or say. She crouched down at the side of the bed, and Fitzpiers took a seat. Thus they remained in silence, and long as it lasted she never turned her eyes, or apparently her thoughts, at all to her husband. He occasionally murmured, with automatic authority, some slight directions for alleviating the pain of the dying man, which she mechanically obeyed, bending over him during the intervals in silent tears.
Winterborne never recovered consciousness of what was passing; and that he was going became soon perceptible also to her. In less than an hour the delirium ceased; then there was an interval of somnolent painlessness and soft breathing, at the end of which Winterborne passed quietly away.
Then Fitzpiers broke the silence. "Have you lived here long?" said he.
Grace was wild with sorrow--with all that had befallen her--with the cruelties that had attacked her--with life--with Heaven. She answered at random. "Yes. By what right do you ask?"
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