“Ay!” she said; “ye can laugh.”
“There’s no doubt about one thing,” he said, “you ought to be in bed. You ought to stay in bed for two or three days at least.”
“Yes,” she said. “And who’s going to look after the house while I’m moping between blankets?”
“You can have Rose Chudd in,” he said.
“No,” said she. “I’m not going to have any woman rummaging about my house, and me in bed.”
“You know perfectly well she’s been practically starving since her husband died, and as she’s going out charing, why can’t you have her and put a bit of bread into her mouth?”
“Because I won’t have her! Neither her nor any one. There’s naught to prevent you giving her some o’ your two thousand a year if you’ve a mind. But I see no reason for my house being turned upside down by her, even if I have got a bit of a cold.”
“You’re an unreasonable old woman,” said Denry.
“Happen I am!” said she. “There can’t be two wise ones in a family. But I’m not going to give up this cottage, and as long as I am standing on my feet I’m not going to pay any one for doing what I can do better myself.” A pause. “And so you needn’t think it! You can’t come round me with a fur mantle.” She retired to rest. On the following morning he was very glum.
“You needn’t be so glum,” she said.
But she was rather pleased at his glumness. For in him glumness was a sign that he recognised defeat.
The next episode between them was curiously brief. Denry had influenza. He said that naturally he had caught hers.
He went to bed and stayed there. She nursed him all day, and grew angry in a vain attempt to force him to eat. Towards night he tossed furiously on the little bed in the little bedroom, complaining of fearful headaches. She remained by his side most of the night. In the morning he was easier. Neither of them mentioned the word “doctor.” She spent the day largely on the stairs. Once more towards night he grew worse, and she remained most of the second night by his side.
In the sinister winter dawn Denry murmured in a feeble tone:
“Mother, you’d better send for him.”
“Doctor?” she said. And secretly she thought that she had better send for the doctor, and that there must be after all some difference between influenza and a cold.
“No,” said Denry; “send for young Lawton.”
“Young Lawton!” she exclaimed. “What do you want young Lawton to come here for?”
“I haven’t made my will,” Denry answered.
“Pooh!” she retorted.
Nevertheless she was the least bit in the world frightened. And she sent for Dr Stirling, the aged Harrop’s Scotch partner.
Dr Stirling, who was full-bodied and left little space for anybody else in the tiny, shabby bedroom of the man with four thousand a year, gazed at Mrs Machin, and he gazed also at Denry.