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35. Chapter XXXV (continued)
"I will tell her when she is a little calmer."
Dirk, filled with compassion, begged her to take the message at once.
"It may cure her. I beseech you to ask her now."
With a faint smile of pity, the nurse went back into the room. We heard her low voice, and then, in a voice I did not recognise the answer:
"No. No. No."
The nurse came out again and shook her head.
"Was that she who spoke then?" I asked. "Her voice sounded so strange."
"It appears that her vocal cords have been burnt by the acid."
Dirk gave a low cry of distress. I asked him to go on and wait for me at the entrance, for I wanted to say something to the nurse. He did not ask what it was, but went silently. He seemed to have lost all power of will; he was like an obedient child.
"Has she told you why she did it?" I asked.
"No. She won't speak. She lies on her back quite quietly. She doesn't move for hours at a time. But she cries always. Her pillow is all wet. She's too weak to use a handkerchief, and the tears just run down her face."
It gave me a sudden wrench of the heart-strings. I could have killed Strickland then, and I knew that my voice was trembling when I bade the nurse goodbye.
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