By noon the doctor had added the news, and spread it, that Count Angelo, in spite of his wound and all warnings and supplications, was resolute in his determination to be baptized at the hour appointed. This swept the town like wildfire, and mightily reinforced the enthusiasm of the Angelo faction, who said, “If any doubted that it was moral courage that took him from the field, what have they to say now!”
Still the excitement grew. All the morning it was traveling countryward, toward all points of the compass; so, whereas before only the farmers and their wives were intending to come and witness the remarkable baptism, a general holiday was now proclaimed and the children and negroes admitted to the privileges of the occasion. All the farms for ten miles around were vacated, all the converging roads emptied long processions of wagons, horses, and yeomanry into the town. The pack and cram of people vastly exceeded any that had ever been seen in that sleepy region before. The only thing that had ever even approached it, was the time long gone by, but never forgotten, nor even referred to without wonder and pride, when two circuses and a Fourth of July fell together. But the glory of that occasion was extinguished now for good. It was but a freshet to this deluge.
The great invasion massed itself on the river-bank and waited hungrily for the immense event. Waited, and wondered if it would really happen, or if the twin who was not a “professor” would stand out and prevent it.
But they were not to be disappointed. Angela was as good as his word. He came attended by an escort of honor composed of several hundred of the best citizens, all of the Angelo party; and when the immersion was finished they escorted him back home and would even have carried him on their shoulders, but that people might think they were carrying Luigi.
Far into the night the citizens continued to discuss and wonder over the strangely mated pair of incidents that had distinguished and exalted the past twenty-four hours above any other twenty-four in the history of their town for picturesqueness and splendid interest; and long before the lights were out and burghers asleep it had been decided on all hands that in capturing these twins Dawson’s Landing had drawn a prize in the great lottery of municipal fortune.
At midnight Angelo was sleeping peacefully. His immersion had not harmed him, it had merely made him wholesomely drowsy, and he had been dead asleep many hours now. It had made Luigi drowsy, too, but he had got only brief naps, on account of his having to take the medicine every three-quarters of an hour—and Aunt Betsy Hale was there to see that he did it. When he complained and resisted, she was quietly firm with him, and said in a low voice:
“No—no, that won’t do; you mustn’t talk, and you mustn’t retch and gag that way, either—you’ll wake up your poor brother.”
“Well, what of it, Aunt Betsy, he——”
“’Sh-h! Don’t make a noise, dear. You mustn’t: forget that your poor brother is sick and——”
“Sick, is he? Well, I wish I——”
“’Sh-h-h! Will you be quiet, Luigi! Here, now, take the rest of it—don’t keep me holding the dipper all night. I declare if you haven’t left a good fourth of it in the bottom! Come—that’s a good—
“Aunt Betsy, don’t make me! I feel like I’ve swallowed a cemetery; I do, indeed. Do let me rest a little—just a little; I can’t take any more of the devilish stuff now.”
“Luigi! Using such language here, and him just baptized! Do you want the roof to fall on you?”
“I wish to goodness it would!”
“Why, you dreadful thing! I’ve a good notion to—let that blanket alone; do you want your, brother to catch his death?”
“Aunt Betsy, I’ve got to have it off, I’m being roasted alive; nobody could stand it—you couldn’t yourself.”
“Now, then, you’re sneezing again—I just expected it.”
“Because I’ve caught a cold in my head. I always do, when I go in the water with my clothes on. And it takes me weeks to get over it, too. I think it was a shame to serve me so.”
“Luigi, you are unreasonable; you know very well they couldn’t baptize him dry. I should think you would be willing to undergo a little inconvenience for your brother’s sake.”
“Inconvenience! Now how you talk, Aunt Betsy. I came as near as anything to getting drowned you saw that yourself; and do you call this inconvenience?—the room shut up as tight as a drum, and so hot the mosquitoes are trying to get out; and a cold in the head, and dying for sleep and no chance to get any—on account of this infamous medicine that that assassin prescri——”
“There, you’re sneezing again. I’m going down and mix some more of this truck for you, dear.”