I was strongly tempted to wake Mary Quince, and take counsel with her, and persuade her to undertake a reconnoissance. The fact is, I was persuaded that my uncle was in extremity, and I was quite wild to know the doctor’s opinion. But, after all, it would be cruel to summon the good soul from her refreshing nap. So, as I began to feel very cold, I returned to my bed, where I continued to listen and conjecture until I fell asleep.
In the morning, as was usual, before I was dressed, in came Milly.
‘How is Uncle Silas?’ I eagerly enquired.
‘Old L’Amour says he’s queerish still; but he’s not so dull as yesterday,’ answered she.
‘Was not the doctor sent for?’ I asked.
‘Was he? Well, that’s odd; and she said never a word o’t to me,’ answered she.
‘I’m asking only,’ said I.
‘I don’t know whether he came or no,’ she replied; ’but what makes you take that in your head?’
‘A chaise arrived here between two and three o’clock last night.’
‘Hey! and who told you?’ Milly seemed all on a sudden highly interested.
’I saw it, Milly; and some one, I fancy the doctor, came from it into the house.’
’Fudge, lass! who’d send for the doctor? ’Twasn’t he, I tell you. What was he like?’ said Milly.
‘I could only see clearly that he, or she, was tall, and wore a cloak,’ I replied.
’Then ’twasn’t him nor t’other I was thinking on, neither; and I’ll be hanged but I think it will be Cormoran,’ cried Milly, with a thoughtful rap with her knuckle on the table.
Precisely at this juncture a tapping came to the door.
‘Come in,’ said I.
And old L’Amour entered the room, with a courtesy.
‘I came to tell Miss Quince her breakfast’s ready,’ said the old lady.
‘Who came in the chaise, L’Amour?’ demanded Milly.
‘What chaise?’ spluttered the beldame tartly.
‘The chaise that came last night, past two o’clock,’ said Milly.
‘That’s a lie, and a damn lie!’ cried the beldame. ’There worn’t no chaise at the door since Miss Maud there come from Knowl.’
I stared at the audacious old menial who could utter such language.
‘Yes, there was a chaise, and Cormoran, as I think, be come in it,’ said Milly, who seemed accustomed to L’Amour’s daring address.
‘And there’s another damn lie, as big as the t’other,’ said the crone, her haggard and withered face flushing orange all over.
‘I beg you will not use such language in my room,’ I replied, very angrily. ’I saw the chaise at the door; your untruth signifies very little, but your impertinence here I will not permit. Should it be repeated, I will assuredly complain to my uncle.’
The old woman flushed more fiercely as I spoke, and fixed her bleared glare on me, with a compression of her mouth that amounted to a wicked grimace. She resisted her angry impulse, however, and only chuckled a little spitefully, saying,