“Forbear sharp speeches to her. She’s
So tender of rebukes, that words are strokes,
And strokes death to her.”—SHAKSPEARE.
As we have said, the storm lasted for a week; and all that time Edward and Zoe were slowly drifting farther and farther apart.
But at last the clouds broke and the sun shone out cheerily. It was about the middle of the forenoon when this occurred.
“Oh,” cried Miss Deane, “do see the sun! Now I shall no longer need to encroach upon your hospitality, my kind entertainers. I can go home by this afternoon’s train, if you, Mr. Travilla, will be so very good as to take or send me to the depot.”
“The Ion carriage is quite at your service,” he returned politely.
“Thanks,” she said; “then I’ll just run up to my room, and do my bit of packing.”
She hurried out to the hall, then the front door was heard to open; and the next minute a piercing shriek brought master, mistress, and servants running out to the veranda to inquire the cause.
Miss Deane lay there groaning, and crying out “that she had sprained her ankle terribly; she had slipped on a bit of ice, and fallen; and oh! when now would she be able to go home?”
The question found an echo in Zoe’s heart, and she groaned inwardly at the thought of having this most unwelcome guest fastened upon her for weeks longer.
Yet she pitied her pain, and was anxious to do what she could for her relief. She hastened to the medicine-closet in search of remedies; while Edward and Uncle Ben gently lifted the sufferer, carried her in, and laid her on the sofa.
Also a messenger was at once despatched for Dr. Conly. Zoe stationed herself at a front window of the drawing-room to watch for his coming. Presently Edward came to her side. “Zoe,” he said, “can’t you go to Miss Deane?”
“What for?” she asked, without turning her head to look at him.
“To show your kind feeling.”
“I’m not sure that I have any.”
“Zoe! I am shocked! She is in great pain.”
“She has plenty of helpers about her,—Christine, Aunt Dicey, and a servant-maid or two,—who will do all they can to relieve her. If I could do any thing more, I would; but I can’t, and should only be in the way. You forget what a mere child you have always considered me, and that I have had no experience in nursing.”
“It isn’t nursing, I am asking you to give her, but a little kindly sympathy.”
A carriage was coming swiftly up the avenue.
“There’s the doctor,” said Zoe. “You’d better consult with him about his patient; and, if he thinks my presence in her room will hasten her recovery, she shall have all I can give her of it, that we may get her out of the house as soon as possible.”
“Zoe! I had no idea you could be so heartless,” he said, with much displeasure, as he turned and left the room.