Of the same opinion concerning Florence was Ester, a few weeks later, when, one evening as she was hurrying past him, Dr. Van Anden detained her:
“I want to see you a moment, Miss Ester.”
During these weeks Ester had been roused. Sadie was sick; had been sick enough to awaken many anxious fears; sick enough for Ester to discover what a desolate house theirs would have been, supposing her merry music had been hushed forever. She discovered, too, how very much she loved her bright young sister.
She had been very kind and attentive; but the fever was gone now, and Sadie was well enough to rove around the house again; and Ester began to think that it couldn’t be so very hard to have loving hands ministering to one’s simplest want, to be cared for, and watched over, and petted every hour in the day. She was returning to her impatient, irritable life. She forgot how high the fever had been at night, and how the young head had ached; and only remembered how thoroughly tired she was, watching and ministering day and night. So, when she followed Dr. Van Anden to the sitting-room, in answer to his “I want to see you, Miss Ester,” it was a very sober, not altogether pleasant face which listened to his words.
“Florence Vane is very sick to-night. Some one should be with her besides the housekeeper. I thought of you. Will you watch with her?”
If any reasonable excuse could have been found, Ester would surely have said “No,” so foolish did this seem to her. Why, only yesterday she had seen Florence sitting beside the open window, looking very well; but then, she was Sadie’s friend, and it had been more than two weeks since Sadie had needed watching with at night. So Ester could not plead fatigue.
“I suppose so,” she answered, slowly, to the waiting doctor, hearing which, he wheeled and left her, turning back, though, to say:
“Do not mention this to Sadie in her present state of body. I don’t care to have her excited.”
“Very careful you are of everybody,” muttered Ester, as he hastened away. “Tell her what, I wonder? That you are making much ado about nothing, for the sake of showing your astonishing skill?”
In precisely this state of mind she went, a few hours later, over to the cottage, into the quiet room where Florence lay asleep—and, for aught she could see, sleeping as quietly as young, fresh life ever did.
“What do you think of her?” whispered the old lady who acted as housekeeper, nurse and mother to the orphaned Florence.
“I think I haven’t seen her look better this great while,” Ester answered, abruptly.
“Well, I can’t say as she looks any worse to me either; but Dr. Van Anden is in a fidget, and I suppose he knows what he’s about.”
The doctor came in at eleven o’clock, stood for a moment by the bedside, glanced at the old lady, who was dozing in her rocking-chair, then came over to Ester and spoke low: