“Wait till you’ve known a man twenty years before you marry him, and then you’ll never marry him,” she said. The point of her advice being that she was past forty and had never married.
The butler beckoned her out and confided to her his anxiety.
“He is not well,” he said gloomily. “I have not see him this a-way in ten years. He is not well.”
The cook’s cheery countenance changed.
“But you say he have had no dinner.” Her excessive grammar was a reassurance. She turned alertly towards her range.
“But he won’t have dinner.”
“What!” The stiffness went out of her form in visible detachments. “Then he air sick!”
She made one attempt to help matters. “Can’t I make him something nice? Very nice?—And light?” She brightened at the hope.
“No, nothink. He will not hear to it.”
“Then you must have the doctor.” She spoke decisively.
To this the butler made no reply, at least in words. He stood wrapt in deep abstraction, his face filled with perplexity and gloom, and as the cook watched him anxiously her face too took on gradually the same expression.
“I has not see him like this before, not in ten year—not in twelve year. Not since he got that letter from that young lady what—.” He stopped and looked at the cook.—“He was hactually hirascible!”
“He must be got to bed, poor dear!” said the cook, sympathetically. “And you must get the doctor, and I’ll make some good rich broth to have it handy.—And just when we were a-goin’ to dress the house and have it so beautiful!”
She turned away, her round face full of woe.
“Ah! Well!—” The butler tried to find some sentence that might be comforting; but before he could secure one that suited, the door bell rang, and he went to answer it.
It was Mr. Clark, who as soon as the door was opened stepped within and taking off his hat began to shake the snow from it, even while he greeted James and wished him a merry Christmas.
James liked Mr. Clark. He did not rate him very highly in the matter of intelligence; but he recognized him as a gentleman, and appreciated his kindly courtesy to himself. He knew it came from a good heart.
Many a man who drove up to the door in a carriage, James relieved of his coat and showed into the drawing-room in silence; but the downcast eyes were averted to conceal inconvenient thoughts and the expressionless face was a mask to hide views which the caller might not have cared to discover. Mr. Clark, however, always treated James with consideration, and James reciprocated the feeling and returned the treatment.
Mr. Clark was giving James his hat when the butler took in that he had come to see Mr. Livingstone.
“Mr. Livingstone begs to be excused this evening, sir,” he said.
“Yes.” Mr. Clark laid a package on a chair and proceeded to unbutton his overcoat.