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Gashford, with a smiling face, but still with looks of profound deference and humility, betook himself towards his master's room, smoothing his hair down as he went, and humming a psalm tune. As he approached Lord George's door, he cleared his throat and hummed more vigorously.
There was a remarkable contrast between this man's occupation at the moment, and the expression of his countenance, which was singularly repulsive and malicious. His beetling brow almost obscured his eyes; his lip was curled contemptuously; his very shoulders seemed to sneer in stealthy whisperings with his great flapped ears.
'Hush!' he muttered softly, as he peeped in at the chamber-door. 'He seems to be asleep. Pray Heaven he is! Too much watching, too much care, too much thought--ah! Lord preserve him for a martyr! He is a saint, if ever saint drew breath on this bad earth.'
Placing his light upon a table, he walked on tiptoe to the fire, and sitting in a chair before it with his back towards the bed, went on communing with himself like one who thought aloud:
'The saviour of his country and his country's religion, the friend of his poor countrymen, the enemy of the proud and harsh; beloved of the rejected and oppressed, adored by forty thousand bold and loyal English hearts--what happy slumbers his should be!' And here he sighed, and warmed his hands, and shook his head as men do when their hearts are full, and heaved another sigh, and warmed his hands again.
'Why, Gashford?' said Lord George, who was lying broad awake, upon his side, and had been staring at him from his entrance.
'My--my lord,' said Gashford, starting and looking round as though in great surprise. 'I have disturbed you!'
'I have not been sleeping.'
'Not sleeping!' he repeated, with assumed confusion. 'What can I say for having in your presence given utterance to thoughts--but they were sincere--they were sincere!' exclaimed the secretary, drawing his sleeve in a hasty way across his eyes; 'and why should I regret your having heard them?'
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