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Let's not waste any time, the book seems to be telling us with only four chapters left (three shorts and a longish one). Chapter 19 ("Zoltán Kárpáthy") gives us the birth of Kárpáthy's son and boy, is our Nabob delighted.

Who can describe the joy of Squire John thereat? What he had hitherto only ventured to hope, to imagine, his hardiest, most ardent desire was gratified: his wife had a son! A son who would be his heir and perpetuate his name! who was born in happier times, who would make good the faults of his father, and by means of his youthful virtues fulfil the obligations which the Kárpáthy family owed to its country and to humanity.

If only he might live long enough to hear the child speak, to read a meaning in his sweet babblings, to speak words to him that he might understand and never forget, so that in the days to come, when he was the fêted hero of all great and noble ideas, he might say, "I first heard of these things from that good old fellow, John Kárpáthy."

What should be the child's name? It should be the name of one of those princes who drank out of the same wine-cup with the primal ancestor of the House of Kárpáthy on the fair plains of Hunnia. It should be Zoltán—Zoltán Kárpáthy—how beautifully that would sound! (p. 332)
"Cat's in the cradle and the silver goblet"? Or "Bidin' my time, watching Zolty grow"? Honestly, I lost track of this story's timeline some time ago, but assuming we're in John's late seventies by this point, he probably doesn't have a lot of time to bide watching Zolty do anything.

The Bobby Goldsboro song is the obvious choice, since soon Master John will be singing "Honey, I miss you."

Towards the afternoon the doctor emerged again, and asked him to retire with him to another room.

"Why? I prefer being here; at least I can hear what they are talking about."

"Yes; but I don't want you to hear what they are talking about in there."

John stared at him. He began to feel bad as he met the doctor's cold look; and he followed him mechanically into the adjoining room.

"Well, sir, what is it you wish to say to me that others may not hear?"

"Your worship, a great joy has this day befallen your house."

"I know it. I understand it. God be praised!"

"God has indeed blessed your worship with a great joy, but it has also seemed good to Him to prove you with affliction."

"What do you mean by that?" thundered the terrified Kárpáthy, and his face turned blue.

"Look now, your worship, this is just what I feared, and that is why I called you aside into an adjoining room; show yourself a Christian, and learn to bear the hand of God."

"Don't torture me; say exactly what has happened."

"Your honour's wife will die."

After hearing this Kárpáthy stood there without uttering a word.

"If there was any help for her in this world," continued the doctor, "I would say there is hope, but it is my duty to tell you that her hours, her moments, are numbered, therefore your honour must play the man, and go to her and bid her good-bye, for ere long she will be unable to speak." (p. 334)

Well, she didn't waste any time getting around to that. And now, at length, the death scene.

Kárpáthy allowed himself to be led into the dying woman's chamber. The whole world was blurred before him, he saw nobody, he heard nothing; he saw her only lying there pale, faded, with the sweat of death upon her glorious face, with the pallor of death around her dear lips, with the refracted gleam of death in her beautiful inspired eyes.

There he stood, beside the bed, unable to speak a word. His eyes were tearless. The room was full of serving-maids and nurses. Here and there a stifled sob was to be heard. He neither saw nor heard anything. He only gazed dumbly, stonily, at the dying woman. On each side of the bed a familiar form was kneeling—Flora and Teresa.

The good old aunt, with clasped hands, was praying, her face concealed among the pillows. Flora held the little boy in her arms; he was sleeping with his head upon her bosom.

The sick woman raised her breaking eyes towards her husband, stretched out her trembling, fevered hand, and, grasping the hand of her husband, drew it towards her panting lips, and gasped, in a scarcely audible voice, "Remember me!"

Squire John did not hear, he did not understand what she said to him, he only held his wife's hand in both his own as if he believed that he could thereby draw her away from Death.

After an hour's heavy struggle, the feverish delirium of the sick woman began to subside, her blood circulated less fiercely, her hands were no longer so burning hot, her breathing grew easier.

She began to look about her calmly and recognize every one. She spoke to those about her in a quiet, gentle voice; the tormenting sweat had vanished from her face.

"My husband, my dear husband!" she said, casting a look full of feeling upon Squire John.

Her husband rejoiced within himself, thinking it a sign of amendment; but the doctor shook his head, he knew it was a sign of death.

Next, the sick woman turned towards Flora. Her friend guessed the meaning of her inquiring look, and held the little child nestling on her bosom to the sick woman's lips. Fanny tenderly strained it to her heaving breast, and kissed the face of the sleeping child, who at every kiss opened its dark-blue eyes, and then drooped them and went on sleeping again.

The mother put it back on Flora's breast, and, pressing the lady's hand, whispered to her—

"Be a mother to my child."

Flora could not reply, but she nodded her head. Not a sound would come to her lips, and she turned her head aside, lest the dying woman should see the tears in her eyes.

Then Fanny folded her hands together on her breast, and murmured the single prayer which she had been taught to say in her childhood—

"O God, my God, be merciful to me, poor sinful girl, now and for evermore. Amen."

Then she cast down her eyes gently, and fell asleep.

"She has gone to sleep," murmured the husband, softly.

"She is dead," faltered the doctor, with a look of pity.

And the good old Nabob fell down on his knees beside the bed, and, burying his head in the dead woman's pillows, sobbed bitterly, oh, so bitterly! (pp. 335-6)
Yeah, I know, "get my insulin," but considering the cauldrons of deathbed drama Dickens could whip up, we got off light. And remember, he was Quite Worthy. Cue the female chorus.

Chapter 20 ("Secret Visitors") takes us to a snowy wood near Kárpáthy Castle, and the approach of a familiar figure who we haven't seen in quite some time.

In the rear of the sledge sat a man wrapped in a simple mantle; in front, a peasant, in a sheepskin bunda, was driving the two lean horses.

The sitter behind frequently stood up in the sledge, and swept the plain on every side, as if he were in search of something. The preserves of the Kárpáthy estate loomed darkly before him, and by the time they reached a ramshackle old wooden bridge, the visitor perceived what he sought.

"Those are pine-trees, are they not?" he inquired of the coachman.

"Yes, young sir; one can recognize them from a distance, for they are still green when the others have shed their leaves."

They were the only trees of the sort in the whole region. They had all been planted in Squire John's time.

"Here we will stop, old comrade. You return to the wayside csárda; I will take a turn about here alone. I shall not be longer than an hour away."

"It would be as well were I to accompany you, young sir, if you mean to take a stroll, for wolves are wont to wander hither."

"It is not necessary, my good friend, I am not afraid."

And with that the stranger dismounted from the sledge, and, taking his axe in his hand, directed his way through the snowy field to the spot where the pines stood out darkly against the snow-white plain.

What was beneath those pines?

The family vault of the Kárpáthys, and he who came to visit it at that hour was Alexander Boltay. (p. 338)

Yes, Alexander never stopped carrying a torch for Fanny, and since he heard of her death he's been walking around in his own special type of misery. He made this pilgrimage to confess the love in death that he couldn't in life. Master John had the pines planted so that even in the dead of winter it might be green. And see the trees, how big they've grown...

To this scene arrives another unexpected visitor, Rudolf.

"What are you doing here, sir?" asked Rudolf, who was the first to recover his composure, drawing nearer to the pedestal.

Alexander recognized the voice, he knew that it was Rudolf, and could not understand why he should have come to that place at that hour.

"Count Szentirmay," he said gently, "I am that artisan to whom you showed a kindness once upon a time; be so good as to show yet another kindness to me by leaving me here alone and asking no questions."

Then Rudolf recognized the young man, and it suddenly flashed across his mind that the dead woman before she became Dame Kárpáthy had[Pg 341] been engaged to a poor young artisan who had so bravely, so chivalrously, exposed himself to death for her sake.

Now he understood everything.

He took the young man's hand and pressed it.

"You loved this lady? You have come hither to mourn over her?"

"Yes, sir. There's nothing to be ashamed of in that. One may love the dead. I loved that woman, I love her now, and I shall never love another."

Rudolf's heart went out to the young man.

"You remain here," he said, "I will leave you to yourself. I will wait in the cemetery outside, and if I can be of any service to you command me."

"Thank you, sir, I will go too; I have done what I came here to do." (pp. 340-1)

He kisses the letters of Fanny's name on the monument and rides back to the country inn, leaving Rudolf alone with his thoughts.

Shortly afterwards the sledge disappeared in the darkness of the night by the same road by which it had come. Rudolf returned to the pine-trees, and paid another visit to the white monument. There he stood and thought of the woman who had suffered so much, and who, perhaps, was thinking of him there below. Her face stood before him now as it had looked when she had followed with her eyes the rejected amaranth; as it had looked when she galloped past him on her wild charger; as it had looked when she had hidden it on his bosom in an agony of despairing love, in order that there she might weep out her woe, amidst sweet torture and painful joy, that secret woe which she had carried about with her for years. And when he thought on these things, his fine eyes filled with tears.

He noticed the imprints of the knees of the departed youth, where he had knelt on the pedestal of the monument in the snow, and he fell a-thinking.

Did not this woman, who had so suffered, lived and died, deserve as much? And he himself bent his knee before the monument.

And he read the name. Like a spectral invitation, those five letters, F-a-n-n-y, gleamed before him so seductively.

For a long time he remained immersed in his own reflections, and thought—and thought—

At last he bent down and kissed the five letters one after another, just as the other young fellow had done. (p. 342-3)

And with that small ceremony done, he mounts his horse and rides for Kárpáthy Castle on what he's been assured is urgent business.

Sorry, I didn't have the heart to snark all over this scene. That's going to happen from time to time.

Next: More death. We are surrounded by it! Oh, also the end of the book. Now and forever.


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