Fanny, who appeared more concerned about Jabez than about her master, was, with a lavish use of sticks, kindling a big blaze under a small kettle, and soon had water ready as hot as it was needed. Kitty, greatly relieved, ran back with it to her father.
“I suppose, as usual, there was none,” he said gravely, “though I have said until I am tired that in a doctor’s house there should always be a supply;” and Kitty could find nothing to say.
Jabez by this time was seated in a chair, facing the light. He was looking very pale and subdued. The thought of having his wound washed and dressed upset him far more than did the wound itself. Betty and Anthony were sitting on two of the stiffest and most uncomfortable-looking chairs in the room, with very grave expressions on their pale but not too clean faces. Dan was standing by the window looking intensely nervous and uncomfortable. He glanced frequently from Jabez to his father, and back again, and Kitty could see he was longing to say something, but did not know how to. She was very sorry that it had been Dan who had dealt the fatal blow. She almost wished that it had been she herself who had done it, for their father was never quite so severe with her or Betty as with the boys.
With the feeling still on her that trouble was coming, she fried to make herself as useful as possible; but as she knew little or nothing as to where anything was kept, she was more of a hindrance than a help, and her hopes were blighted by her father’s order to them all to leave the room.
“I will see you presently,” he said sternly. “I will either come to you or send for you when I am ready;” and, feeling very crushed, they made their way to the old nursery, now called “the schoolroom,” and there waited with curiously mingled feelings for what was to happen next. They did not expect it to be anything very serious; but they hated to vex their father, and they felt that now they really had vexed him.
Oh how slowly the minutes passed, and what a lot of them there were! It seemed to them that time enough had elapsed in which to have set every limb that Jabez possessed, and to hear the recital of every wrong he had ever received at their hands; and by the time they heard their father’s footstep coming their hopes and fears had gone up and down again many times, and they had pictured themselves sentenced to every possible and impossible punishment that their minds could imagine.
THE NEWS, AND HOW THEY RECEIVED IT.
When the door opened and Dr. Trenire came in with the heavy tread of a very weary man, and the face of a very worried one, another and a larger wave of shame and remorse rushed over them all.
Dan stepped forward at once to put his feelings into words. “I am fearfully sorry, father,” he said impetuously. “I—I was a brute to throw the things at Jabez; but I—I never meant to hurt him. Is it very bad?”