“No; I have not to learn it. I know it must be so. Will you please to come to the window?”
Lionel, partly because his tormentor (may the word be used? he was sick, bodily and mentally, and would have lain still for ever) was a young lady, partly to avoid the trouble of persisting in “No,” rose, and took his seat in the arm-chair.
“What an obstinate nurse you would make, Lucy! Is there anything else, pray, that you wish me to do?”
She did not smile in response to his smile; she looked very grave and serious.
“I would do all that Jan says, were I you,” was her answer. “I believe in Jan. He will get you well sooner than Dr. West.”
“Believe in Jan?” repeated Lionel, willing to be gay if he could. “Do you mean that Jan is Jan?”
“I mean that I have faith in Jan. I have none in Dr. West.”
“In his medical skill? Let me tell you, Lucy, he is a very clever man, in spite of what Jan may say.”
“I can’t tell anything about his skill. Until Jan spoke now I did not know but he was treating you rightly. But I have no faith in himself. I think a good, true, faithful-natured man should be depended on for cure, more certainly than one who is false-natured.”
“False-natured!” echoed Lionel. “Lucy, you should not so speak of Dr. West. You know nothing wrong of Dr. West. He is much esteemed among us at Deerham.”
“Of course I know nothing wrong of him,” returned Lucy, with some slight surprise. “But when I look at people I always seem to know what they are. I am sorry to have said so much. I—I think I forgot it was to you I spoke.”
“Forgot!” exclaimed Lionel. “Forgot what?”
She hesitated at the last sentence, and she now blushed vividly.
“I forgot for the moment that he was Sibylla’s father,” she simply said.
Again the scarlet rose in the face of Lionel. Lucy leaned against the window-frame but a few paces from him, her large soft eyes, in their earnest sympathy, lifted to his. He positively shrank from them.
“What’s Sibylla to me?” he asked. “She is Mrs. Frederick Massingbird.”
Lucy stood in penitence. “Do not be angry with me,” she timidly cried. “I ought not to have said it to you, perhaps. I see it always.”
“See what, Lucy?” he continued, speaking gently, not in anger.
“I see now much you think of her, and how ill it makes you. When Jan asked just now if you had anything on your mind to keep you back, I knew what it was.”
Lionel grew hot and cold with a sudden fear. “Did I say anything in my delirium?”
“Nothing at all—that I heard of. I was not with you. I do not think anybody suspects that you are ill because—because of her.”
“Ill because of her!” he sharply repeated, the words breaking from him in his agony, in his shrinking dread at finding so much suspected. “I am ill from fever. What else should I be ill from?”