“Oh,” said Sadie, with a merry toss of her brown curls, “don’t waste any more precious breath over me, I beg. I’m an unfortunate case, not worth struggling for. Just let me have a few hours of peace once more. If you’ll promise not to say ‘meeting’ again to me, I’ll promise not to laugh at you once after this long drawn-out spasm of goodness has quieted, and you have each descended to your usual level once more.”
“Sadie,” said Ester, in a low, shocked tone, “do you think we are all hypocrites, and mean not a bit of this?”
“By no means, my dear sister of charity, at least not all of you. I’m a firm believer in diseases of all sorts. This is one of the violent kind of highly contagious diseases; they must run their course, you know. I have not lived in the house with two learned physicians all this time without learning that fact, but I consider this very nearly at its height, and live in hourly expectation of the ‘turn.’ But, my dear, I don’t think you need worry about me in the least. I don’t believe I’m a fit subject for such trouble. You know I never took whooping-cough nor measles, though I have been exposed a great many times.”
To this Ester only replied by a low, tremulous, “Don’t, Sadie, please.”
Sadie turned a pair of mirthful eyes upon her for a moment, and noting with wonder the pale, anxious face and quivering lip of her sister, seemed suddenly sobered.
“Ester,” she said quietly, “I don’t think you are ‘playing good;’ I don’t positively. I believe you are thoroughly in earnest, but I think you have been through some very severe scenes of late, sickness and watching, and death, and your nerves are completely unstrung. I don’t wonder at your state of feeling, but you will get over it in a little while, and be yourself again.”
“Oh,” said Ester, tremulously, “I pray God I may never be myself again; not the old self that you mean.”
“You will,” Sadie answered, with roguish positiveness. “Things will go cross-wise, the fire won’t burn, and the kettle won’t boil, and the milk-pitcher will tip over, and all sorts of mischievous things will go on happening after a little bit, just as usual, and you will feel like having a general smash up of every thing in spite of all these meetings.”
Ester sighed heavily. The old difficulty again—things would not be undone. The weeds which she had been carelessly sowing during all these past years had taken deep root, and would not give place. After a moment’s silence she spoke again.
“Sadie, answer me just one question. What do you think of Dr. Douglass?”
Sadie’s face darkened ominously. “Never mind what I think of him,” she answered in short, sharp tones, and abruptly left the room.