The spots of milky whiteness resolved themselves again into blush roses; hundreds and hundreds of them scented the air. Overhead hung long wreaths of honeysuckle; colours began to show themselves; purple iris and tree peony started out in detached patches from the shade; birds began to be restless; here and there one fluttered forth with a few sudden, imperfect notes; and the cold curd-like creases in the sky took on faint lines of gold. And there was Emily—Emily coming down the garden again, and Giles Brandon with her. Something in both their faces gave him courage to speak.
“St. George, you are not come merely to help me in. I heard wheels.”
Emily had moved a step forward; it was light enough now to show her face distinctly. The doctors had both paid a visit; they came together, she told him.
“It was very good of them; they are more than considerate,” he answered, sure that the news could not be bad.
“They both saw Anastasia, and they agreed that there was a decided improvement.”
“I thank God.”
With the aid of hope and a strong arm he managed to get up and stagger towards the house; but having once reached his room, it was several days before he could leave it or rise, though every message told of slow improvement.
A strange week followed the return of hope. The weeds in the garden began to take courage after long persecution, while Mr. Swan might frequently be seen reading aloud by Johnnie’s bedside, sometimes the Bible, sometimes the newspaper, Master A.J. Mortimer deriving in his intervals of ease a grave satisfaction from the old man’s peculiar style and his quaint remarks.
“I’m allers a comfort to them boys,” Swan was heard to remark in the middle of the night, when Valentine, who was refreshing himself with a short walk in the dark, chanced to be near him as he came on with his wife.
“And how do you get on, Maria?”
“Why, things seem going wrong, somehow. There’s that new nurse feels herself unwell, and the jelly’s melted, and Miss Christie was cross.”
“That’s awkward; but they’re trifles. When the mud’s up to your neck, you needn’t trouble yourself because you’ve lost your pattens. You want a night’s rest, my dear.”
“Ay, I do; and don’t you worrit, Swan, over Matthew being so ugly with you.”
“Certainly not,” said Swan. “He’s turned more civil too. Said he to me this morning, ’Misfortunes in this life is what we all hev to expect. They ought not to surprise us,’ said he; ’they never surprise me, nor nothing does.’ It’s true too. And he’s allers for making a sensible observation, as he thinks (that shows what a fool he is). No, if he was to meet a man with three heads, he wouldn’t own as he was surprised; he’d merely say, ’You must find this here dispensation very expensive in hats.’”