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The first time I saw her she was lying asleep on one of the narrow little beds in a ward of a large London hospital.
The Sister who accompanied me in my round of visits explained that “the case” had been brought in late on the previous evening; and as she said this, she reached me down the card which hung at the bed's head, from which I learned that the fair young girl before me was named Ida Bernstein, and that she was suffering from a broken leg.
With the unrest of pain-filled sleep, the patient's cap had slipped from her head ; masses of bright golden hair spread themselves over the low pillow; her arms were thrown upwards, and the loose bands of her sleeves left unconcealed her white, delicate wrists, traversed by their blue veins. Such indica
tions of gentle nurture were not common in this house of the hard-working sick, and, from their being unusual in such a place, attracted my attention. I was moving nearer, to scan the delicately featured face more narrowly, when two large violet eyes opened wide upon me.
The Sister, perceiving her new patient had awakened, leaned over the bed, and, in a gentle voice, told her that Dr. Adam Blank was waiting to see her.
A languid attempt to bow the head in acknowledgment of the introduction, again pressed upon me the conviction that Ida Bernstein had found her way to the hospital by some strange mischance ; but I forbore, for many reasons, to question her upon this our first meeting, contenting myself with learning, that in coming into London by railway, on the previous evening, she had, in the confusion and obscurity of the station, missed her footing, slipped from the platform, and thus caused the fracture. Having fainted with the pain and the fright, she had been carried to the hospital; and there, she said, she would wish to remain until cured, being a stranger in London, and having no friends.
In many subsequent interviews I learned all her short, sad history; and thus it ran. Her father was an Austrian, Count Bernstein by name, who resided at Koenig-gratz, where he had a small estate. When visiting at Frankfort one summer, he became acquainted with an English family, named Maurice, who were staying in the neighbourhood. This family consisted of a widow lady, her son and daughter. The Maurices were people of some note in their own county, and were persons of considerable wealth also; and when, after several weeks of intimacy and companionship, the young and handsome count declared his love for the pretty English heiress, the match was deemed a most auspicious one by all. Ere long, the bridegroom carried home his young bride to the ancestral towers that overlooked the Adler's rapid stream; and Lady Maurice and her son bade adieu to Frankfort, and returned to England.
Our story does not lie with these latter. Suffice it to say, that shortly after her daughter's marriage, Lady Maurice was seized with a severe illness which terminated fatally; and her son, oppressed with the double sorrow of his mother's loss and a blighted affection, rushed into dissipation, squandered his fortune, and eventually sailed away to Australiathat refuge for the destitute.
To the Count and Countess Bernstein one only child was born-a daughter-who, in memory of her father's mother, was named Ida. This is the Ida