“He only expressed such a hope: he didn’t say certainly,” sobbed Zoe. “And when people are in danger, doctors always try to hide it from their friends.”
“Arthur is perfectly truthful,” asserted Ella, with some warmth. “He may keep his opinions to himself at times, but he never builds people up with false hopes. So cheer up, coz,” she added, squeezing Zoe’s hand affectionately.
“I know that what you say of cousin Arthur is all true,” sobbed Zoe; “but I could see he had fears as well as hopes: and—and—Ned doesn’t seem a bit like himself; he has such a dazed look, as if not quite in his right mind.”
“But he knew you and Art; and it is to be expected that a man would feel dazed after such a shock as he must have had.”
“Yes, of course. Oh, I’m afraid he’s dreadfully, dreadfully hurt, and will never get over it!”
“Still,” returned Ella, “try to hope for the best. Don’t you think that is the wiser plan always?”
“I suppose so,” said Zoe, laughing and crying hysterically; “but I can’t be wise to-night; indeed, I never can.”
“And, if division come, it soon is past,
Too sharp, too strange an agony to last.”
Christine and Aunt Phillis, who had been left in charge of Miss Deane, had had a sore trial of patience in waiting upon her, humoring her whims, listening to her fretting and complaints, and trying to soothe and entertain her. She was extremely irritable, and seemed determined not to be pleased with any thing they could do for her.
“Where is your mistress?” she asked at length. “Pretty manners she has, to leave a suffering guest to the sole care of servants.”
“Yes, Miss, Ise alluz t’ought Miss Zoe hab pretty manners and a pretty face,” replied Aunt Phillis; “but dere is ladies what habn’t none, an’ doan’ git pleased wid nuffin’ nor nobody, an eayn’t stan’ no misery nowhars ‘bout deirselves, but jes’ keep frettin’ and concessantly displainin’ ‘bout dis t’ing and dat, like dey hasn’t got nuffin’ to be thankful for.”
“Impudence!” muttered Miss Deane, her eyes flashing angrily. Then bidding her attendants be quiet, she settled herself for a nap.
She was waked by a slight bustle in the house, accompanied by sounds as if a number of men were carrying a heavy burden through the entrance-hall, and up the wide stairway leading to the second story.
“What’s the matter? What’s going on? Has any thing happened?” she asked, starting up to a sitting posture.
Christine had risen to her feet, pale and trembling, and stood listening intently.
“I must go and see,” she said, and hurried from the room, Aunt Phillis shambling after her in haste and trepidation.
“Stay!” cried Miss Deane: “don’t leave me alone. What are you thinking of?”
But they were already out of hearing. “I was never so shamefully treated anywhere as I am here,” muttered the angry lady, sinking back upon her pillows. “I’ll leave this house to-morrow, if it is a possible thing, and never darken its doors again.”