Accordingly, the carriage was brought out, and Madam Conway carefully lifted in; but ere fifty rods were passed the coachman was ordered to drive back, as she could not endure the jolt. “I told you I couldn’t, all the time;” and her eyes turned reprovingly upon poor Theo, sitting silently in the opposite corner.
“The Lord help me, if she isn’t coming back so soon!” sighed Mrs. Jeffrey, as she saw the carriage returning, and went to meet the invalid, who had “taken her death of cold,” just as she knew she should when they insisted upon her going out.
That day was far worse than any which had preceded it. It was probably her last, Madam Conway said, and numerous were the charges she gave to Theo concerning Margaret, should she ever be found. The house, the farm, the furniture and plate were all to be hers, while to Theo was given the lady’s wardrobe, saving such articles as Margaret might choose for herself, and if she never were found the house and farm were to be Mr. Carrollton’s. This was too much for Theo, who resolved to go home on the morrow, at all hazards, and she had commenced making preparations for leaving, when to her great joy her husband came, and in recounting to him her trials she forgot in a measure how unhappy she had been. George Douglas was vastly amused at what he heard, and resolved to experiment a little with the lady, who was so weak as to notice him only with a slight nod when he first entered the room. He saw at a glance that nothing in particular was the matter, and when towards night she lay panting for breath, with her eyes half closed, he approached her and said, “Madam, in case you die—”
“In case I die!” she whispered indignantly. “It doesn’t admit of a doubt. My feet are as cold as icicles now.”
“Certainly,” said he. “I beg your pardon; of course you’ll die.”
The lady turned away rather defiantly for a dying woman, and George continued, “What I mean to say is this—if Margaret is never found, you wish the house to be Mr. Carrollton’s?”
“Yes, everything, my wardrobe and all,” came from beneath the bedclothes; and George proceeded: “Mr. Carrollton cannot of course take the house to England, and, as he will need a trusty tenant, would you object greatly if my father and mother should come here to live? They’d like it, I—”
The sentence was unfinished—the bunches in the throat which for hours had prevented the sick woman from speaking aloud, and were eventually to choke her to death, disappeared; Madam Conway found her voice, and, starting up, screamed out, “That abominable woman and heathenish girl in this house, in my house; I’ll live forever, first!” and her angry eyes flashed forth their indignation.
“I thought the mention of mother would revive her,” said George, aside, to Theo, who, convulsed with laughter, had hidden herself behind the window curtain.
Mr. Douglas was right, for not again that afternoon did Madam Conway speak of dying, though she kept her bed until nightfall, when art incident occurred which brought her at once to her feet, making her forget that she had ever been otherwise than well.