Page:The Czar, A Tale of the Time of the First Napleon.djvu/272
though he said nothing of it, I doubt not he showed kindness to our dear one when he met him in the hospital at Vilna. Besides, there is something in his face which I cannot describe, but which haunts and troubles while it touches me. It seems to remind me of some other face known long ago. We must go and see him again to-morrow, and bring him some little token of our gratitude. What do you think he would like, Clémence?"
But they did not see Ivan on the morrow; for Madame de Talmont was too ill to rise from her bed, and Clémence, even if she had been willing to leave her, could not go to the hospital alone. When, after an interval of three or four days, they made their appearance once more, the courteous Russian surgeon gave them quite a warm welcome.
"M. Pojarsky has been watching for you, mesdames," he said. "You will do him more good than any of our medicines."
"Pojarsky!" Madame de Talmont repeated, as one in a dream—"Pojarsky!"
Clémence was amazed to find her mother's ready and graceful courtesy fail her completely for once. By way of supplying her unaccountable omission she ventured upon an inquiry for the invalid.
"He has been very feverish, and has suffered a good deal since," the surgeon admitted. "But he is much better today. Will you come to him at once, mesdames?"
"Willingly, monsieur, if you will be kind enough to distribute these oranges amongst those who need them most," said Clémence, placing a large bag in the hands of the surgeon; for her mother's continued silence forced her to take the initiative. "Mother," she whispered, as they passed into the ward where Ivan lay—"dear mother, what ails you?"
"That name awakens old associations—not happy ones," Madame de Talmont answered.
Ivan received his friends with a bright, glad smile of welcome.