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hand was pressed more than once, or twice, or thrice, before he
sank to rest, and slowly loosed his hold.
In a fortnight’s time, he became too ill to move about. Once or
twice, Nicholas drove him out, propped up with pillows; but the
motion of the chaise was painful to him, and brought on fits of
fainting, which, in his weakened state, were dangerous. There was
an old couch in the house, which was his favourite resting-place by
day; and when the sun shone, and the weather was warm,
Nicholas had this wheeled into a little orchard which was close at
hand, and his charge being well wrapped up and carried out to it,
they used to sit there sometimes for hours together.
It was on one of these occasions that a circumstance took place,
which Nicholas, at the time, thoroughly believed to be the mere
delusion of an imagination affected by disease; but which he had,
afterwards, too good reason to know was of real and actual
He had brought Smike out in his arms--poor fellow! a child
might have carried him then--to see the sunset, and, having
arranged his couch, had taken his seat beside it. He had been
watching the whole of the night before, and being greatly fatigued
both in mind and body, gradually fell asleep.
He could not have closed his eyes five minutes, when he was
awakened by a scream, and starting up in that kind of terror
which affects a person suddenly roused, saw, to his great
astonishment, that his charge had struggled into a sitting posture,
and with eyes almost starting from their sockets, cold dew
standing on his forehead, and in a fit of trembling which quite
convulsed his frame, was calling to him for help.
‘Good Heaven, what is this?’ said Nicholas, bending over him.