As she still hesitated, being, in fact, in no reasonable state
of mind, he took the infant in his arms, and himself
administered the draught. It soon proved its efficacy, and
redeemed the leech's pledge. The moans of the little patient
subsided; its convulsive tossings gradually ceased; and in a few
moments, as is the custom of young children after relief from
pain, it sank into a profound and dewy slumber. The physician,
as he had a fair right to be termed, next bestowed his attention
on the mother. With calm and intent scrutiny, he felt her pulse,
looked into her eyes--a gaze that made her heart shrink and
shudder, because so familiar, and yet so strange and cold--and,
finally, satisfied with his investigation, proceeded to mingle
"I know not Lethe nor Nepenthe," remarked he; "but I have
learned many new secrets in the wilderness, and here is one of
them--a recipe that an Indian taught me, in requital of some
lessons of my own, that were as old as Paracelsus. Drink it! It
may be less soothing than a sinless conscience. That I cannot
give thee. But it will calm the swell and heaving of thy
passion, like oil thrown on the waves of a tempestuous sea."
He presented the cup to Hester, who received it with a slow,
earnest look into his face; not precisely a look of fear, yet
full of doubt and questioning as to what his purposes might be.
She looked also at her slumbering child.