When at last Josephine found her own room she discovered her maid Jeanne, waiting for her, fright still in her face.
“Madame!” exclaimed Jeanne, “it is terrible! What horrors there are in this place. What has been done—is it true that Monsieur has lost both his legs? But one, perhaps? For the man with one leg, it is to be said that he is more docile, which is to be desired. But both legs—”
“It is not true, Jeanne. There has been surgery, but perhaps Mr. Dunwody will not even be a cripple. He may get well—it is still doubtful.”
“How then was it possible, Madame, for you to endure such sights? But is it not true, how the Bon Dieu punishes the wicked? For myself, I was in terror—even though I was some distance away; and although that young gentleman, Monsieur Hector, was so good as to hold my hand.”
Doctor Jamieson did not at once return to his other duties. He knew that in this case care and skill would for a time continue in demand. Little sleep was accorded him during his first night. Ammonia—whisky—what he had, he used to keep his patient alive; but morning came, and Dunwody still was living. Morphine now seemed proper to the backwoods physician; after this had done its work, so that his patient slept, he left the room and wandered discontentedly about in the great house, too tired to wake, too strained to sleep.
“Old—old—it’s an old, tumble-down ruin, that’s what it is,” he grumbled. “Everything in sixes and sevens—a man like that—and an ending like this to it all.”
He had called several times before he could get any attendance from the shiftless blacks. These, quick to catch any slackening in the reins of the governing power which controlled their lives, dropped back into unreadiness and pretense more and more each hour.
“What it needs here is a woman,” grumbled Jamieson to himself. “All the time, for that matter. But this one’s got to stay now, I don’t care who she is. There must be some one here to run things for a month or two. Besides, she’s got his life in her two hands, some way. If she left now, might as well shoot him at once. Oh, hell! when I die, I want to go to a womanless world. No I don’t, either!”
His decision he at last announced to Josephine herself when finally the latter appeared to make inquiry regarding the sick master of Tallwoods.
“My dear girl,” said he, “I am a blunt man, not a very good doctor maybe, and perhaps not much of a gentleman, I don’t know—never stopped to ask myself about it. But now, anyhow, I don’t know how you happened to be here, or who you are, or when you are going away, and I’m not going to ask you about any of those things. What I want to say is this: Mr. Dunwody is going to be a very sick man. He hasn’t got any sort of proper care here, there’s no one to run this place, and I can’t stay here all the time myself. Even if I did stay, all I could do would be to give him a dose of quinine or calomel once in a while, and that isn’t what he needs. He needs some one to be around and watch after things—this whole place is sick, as much as the owner of it. I reckon you’ve got to help me, my dear.”