“I used to. But he never plays with the pup any more. He’s different. And you’re different and mother’s different. I don’t want to live with mother. That was a fib I told you the other day about the cut on my head. I didn’t fall and hurt it. It was mother She threw her clothes brush at me.”
“Jane!” There was pure horror in her sister’s voice.
“Yes, she did. I went into her room when she was taking some medicine in a glass and I asked her what it was. Honest, Esther, that is all I did. And she screamed at me—and threw the brush.”
Esther came back into the room and sat down.
“When was this?” in businesslike tones.
Jane considered. “It was that day she wasn’t down stairs at all, and sent word to Dr. Callandar not to come—three days ago I think.”
“Yes, I remember. O Janie dear, it looks as if things were going to be bad again! It must have been one of her very bad headaches. She was probably in great pain. Of course she did not mean to throw the brush Are you sure it was medicine she was taking?”
“It was something in a glass,” vaguely, “she was mixing it—look out, Esther! You are spoiling your new gloves.”
The girl threw the crumpled gloves aside and drawing the child to her knee kissed her gently.
“It seems to me,” she said slowly, “that big sister has been losing her eyes lately. She must find them again; it isn’t going to help to be a selfish pig.”
“Help what, Esther?”
Esther’s only answer was another kiss, but when she had hurried out of the room, Jane found something round and wet upon her hand.
Jane was still looking at the wet place on her hand when the doctor entered.
“Esther’s been crying,” she told him. In her voice was the awe which children feel at the phenomenon of tears in grown-ups.
Callandar felt his heart contract—Esther crying! But he could not question the child.
“I don’t know why,” went on Jane obligingly. “Esther’s so strange lately. Every one is strange. You are strange too. Am I strange?”
“A little,” said Callandar gravely.
“Perhaps it’s catching? Do you want mother? She is upstairs and her door is locked. Perhaps she’ll be down in a little while. She said Esther was to stay in and entertain you, but Esther wouldn’t. She has gone to a garden party. I’ll entertain you if you like.”
“That will be very nice.”
“Shall I play for you on the piano?”
“Thanks. And you won’t mind if I sit in the corner here and close my eyes, until your mother comes?”
“No. You may go quite to sleep if you wish. I’m not sensitive about my playing. Bubble says you are nearly always tired now. He says you have such a ’normous practice that you hardly ever get a wink of sleep. That’s what makes you look so kind of hollow-eyed, Bubble says.”