one come forth, not from her cloister, but from her grave.

Five spines and six beasts networld2023-12-02 10:21:26 38 9251

Measuring the longest of the bottles (the bottle containing the antidote), she found that her dressing case was not high enough to hold it, while the chest was in the locksmith's workshop. Her trunks, on the other hand, were only protected by very ordinary locks, and were too large to be removed to the safe keeping of the cupboard. She must either leave the six bottles loose on the shelf or abandon the extra security of the new lock.

one come forth, not from her cloister, but from her grave.

The one risk of taking the first of these two courses, was the risk of leaving the key again in the cupboard. Was this likely to occur, after the fright she had already suffered? The question was not really worth answering. She had already placed two of the bottles on the shelf--when a fatal objection to trusting the empty box out of her own possession suddenly crossed her mind.

one come forth, not from her cloister, but from her grave.

Her husband's colleagues at Wurzburg and some of the elder students, were all acquainted (externally, at least) with the appearance of the Professor's ugly old medicine-chest. It could be easily identified by the initials of his name, inscribed in deeply-burnt letters on the lid. Suppose one of these men happened to be in Frankfort? and suppose he saw the stolen chest in the locksmith's shop? Two such coincidences were in the last degree improbable--but it was enough that they were possible. Who but a fool, in her critical position, would run the risk of even one chance in a hundred turning against her? Instead of trusting the chest in a stranger's hands, the wiser course would be to burn it at the first safe opportunity, and be content with the security of the cupboard, while she remained in Mr. Keller's house. Arriving at this conclusion, she put the chest and its contents back again on the shelf--with the one exception of the label detached from the blue-glass bottle.

one come forth, not from her cloister, but from her grave.

In the preternatural distrust that now possessed her, this label assumed the character of a dangerous witness, if, through some unlucky accident, it happened to fall into the hands of any person in the house. She picked it up--advanced to the fireplace to destroy it--paused--and looked at it again.

Nearly two doses of the antidote were still left. Who could say, looking at the future of such a life as hers, that she might not have some need of it yet--after it had already served her so well? Could she be sure, if she destroyed it, of remembering the instructions which specified the intervals at which the doses were to be given, the signs which signified recovery, and the length of time during which the vegetable diet was to be administered?

She read the first sentences again carefully.

"Antidote to Alexander's Wine. The fatal dose, in case of accident, is indicated by the notched slip of paper attached to the bottle. Two fluid drachms of the poison (more than enough to produce death) were accidentally taken in my experience. So gradual is the deadly effect that, after a delay of thirty-six hours before my attention was called to the case, the administration of the antidote proved successful. The doses are to be repeated----"

The remaining instructions, beginning with this last sentence, were not of a nature to excite suspicion. Taken by themselves, they might refer to nothing more remarkable than a remedy in certain cases of illness. First she thought of cutting off the upper part of the label: but the lines of the writing were so close together, that they would infallibly betray the act of mutilation. She opened her dressing-case and took from it a common-looking little paper-box, purchased at the chemist's, bearing the ambitious printed title of "Macula Exstinctor, or Destroyer of Stains"--being an ordinary preparation, in powder, for removing stains from dresses, ink-stains included. The printed directions stated that the powder, partially dissolved in water, might also be used to erase written characters without in any way injuring the paper, otherwise than by leaving a slight shine on the surface. By these means, Madame Fontaine removed the first four sentences on the label, and left the writing on it to begin harmlessly with the instructions for repeating the doses.



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