It was about a month after this (and in this time I hadn't seen Legrand) when Jupiter, his servant, came to see me in Charleston. The good old black man was looking more unhappy than I had ever seen him, and my first fear was that something serious had taken place.
"Well, Jupiter, " I said, "what is it now ? How's Mister Will ?"
"Why, it's a fact he's not so well as he might be."
"Not well ? That's bad. What does he say is wrong with him ?"
"There ! That's the trouble ! He doesn't say anything's wrong -- but still he's very bad."
"Very ill, Jupiter ? Why didn't you say so at first ? Is he in bed ?"
"No, that he's not ! -- he isn't anywhere -- that's the trouble. I've got very unhappy about poor Mister Will."
"Jupiter, what is it you're talking about ? You say Mister Will is ill. Hasn't he said what's wrong with him ?"
"Why, sir, don't get angry about it ! Mister Will, he says nothing's wrong with him, with his head hanging down and his back bent, and his face all white ? And the he keeps on numbering all the time. . . ."
"Keeps on what, Jupiter ?"
Keeps on writing numbers on a board -- the strangest numbers I've ever seen. I'm getting very unhappy about it, I say. I've got to keep an eye on all his doings. The day he got away before sun-up, and he was gone all day. I got a stick cut ready to give him a good whipping when he did come -- but I'm so soft, I hadn't the heart to, after all -- he seemed so ill."
"Eh ?--what ? -- ah, yes. but don't be rough with the poor man. No blows, Jupiter -- he's not strong enough for that. But haven't you any idea what is the cause of his trouble, or this change of hehaviour? Did anything take place after I went ?"
"No, sir, nothing after then. The trouble was before then, it seems to me. It was the same day that you were there.
"How ? What's the idea ?"
"Why, sir, it's that inset -- there now !"
"That what ?"
"That insect. I'm quite certain Mister Will got a bite somewhere on the head from that gold-insect."
"And what cause have you to say that ?"
"Cause of this, sir. I've seen nothing like that insect. Kicking and biting at everything which came near him. Mister Will got him first, but he had to let him go quick. That was when he got the bite, seems to me. I wasn't happy about his mouth myself, so I wouldn't put my fingers near him. I got him in a bit of paper I saw. I got him into the paper and put a bit in his mouth-- that was the way."
"And your idea is, then that Mister Will got a bite from the insect, and that made him ill ?"
"'Tis't only an idea ; I'm certain. Why has he got gold on the brain in his sleep, if he didn't get a bit from the gold-insect ? I've come across stories of those gold-insects before now."
"Why do you say he's got gold on the brain in his sleep ?"
"why ? Because he's talking about it in his sleep -- that's why."
"Well, Jupiter, you may be right ; but why have I the pleasure of seeing you today ?"
"What's that, sir ?"
"Did Mister will send you with anything ?"
"Yes, I've go his letter" ; and Jupiter then gave me a note which went like this"
"MY DEAR . . . ,
Why haven't I seen you for so long a time ? I'm hoping that you have not been so foolish as to be angry with me for my bad behavior -- but that seems improbable.
From our last meeting, I have had something on my mind all the time. I have something to say to you, but I am uncertain how to do it, or if it's right to do it at all.
I have not been quite well for some days, and poor old Jupiter's kind attentions get on my nerves and almost make me angry with him. It seems impossible, but the other day he'd got a great stick ready for me, because I went off without saying anything, for a day among the mountains across the water. I'm quite certain that only my looks kept me safe from punishment !
From the time of our last meeting I have made no additions to my insects.
If it's at all possible, please come over with Jupiter. Do come. It's necessary for me to see you tonight, on very important business Take my word for it that it's very important.
I was very troubled by something in the wording of this letter. The prose seemed quite different from Legrand's. What had he got on his mind ? What strange impulse had taken a grip of his unbalanced brain ? What "very important business" was it possible for him to have ? Jupiter's account of him gave me a feeling that all was not well. My chief fear was that a chain of unhappy events had sent my friend off his head. So I got ready to go with Jupiter without loss of time.