Lady Verner sat opposite to her. She wore a rich black silk dress—the mourning for Mrs. Verner—and a white lace cap of the finest guipure. The white gloves on her hands were without a wrinkle, and her curiously fine handkerchief lay on her lap. Lady Verner could indulge her taste for snowy gloves and for delicate handkerchiefs now, untroubled by the thought of the money they cost. The addition to her income, which she had spurned from Stephen Verner, she accepted willingly from Lionel. Lionel was liberal as a man and as a son. He would have given the half of his fortune to his mother, and not said, “It is a gift.” Deerham Court had its carriage and horses now, and Deerham Court had its additional servants. Lady Verner visited and received company, and the look of care had gone from her face, and the querulousness from her tone.
But it was in Lady Verner’s nature to make a trouble of things; and if she could not do it in a large way, she must do it in a small. To-day, occurred this cold of Lucy’s, and that afforded scope for Lady Verner. She sent for Jan as soon as breakfast was over, in defiance of the laughing protestations of Lucy. But Jan had not made his appearance yet, and Lady Verner waxed wroth.
He was coming in now—now, as the servant was carrying out the luncheon-tray, entering by his usual mode—the back-door, and nearly knocking over the servant and tray in his haste, as his long legs strode to the dining-room. Lady Verner had left off reproaching Jan for using the servants’ entrance, finding it waste of breath: Jan would have come down the chimney with the sweeps, had it saved him a minute’s time. “Who’s ill?” asked he.
Lady Verner answered the question by a sharp reprimand, touching Jan’s tardiness.
“I can’t be in two places at once,” good-humouredly replied Jan. “I have been with one patient since four o’clock this morning, until five minutes ago. Who is it that’s ill?”
Lucy explained her ailments, giving Jan her own view of them, that there was nothing the matter with her but a bit of a cold.
“Law!” contemptuously returned Jan. “If I didn’t think somebody must be dying! Cheese said they’d been after me about six times!”
“If you don’t like to attend Miss Tempest, you can let it alone,” said Lady Verner. “I can send elsewhere.”
“I’ll attend anybody that I’m wanted to attend,” said Jan. “Where d’ye feel the symptoms of the cold?” asked he of Lucy. “In the head or chest?”
“I am beginning to feel them a little here,” replied Lucy, touching her chest.
“Only beginning to feel them, Miss Lucy?”
“Only beginning, Jan.”
“Well, then, you just wring out a long strip of rag in cold water, and put it round your neck, letting the ends rest on the chest,” said Jan. “A double piece, from two to three inches broad. It must be covered outside with thin waterproof skin to keep the wet in; you know what I mean; Decima’s got some; oil-skin’s too thick. And get a lot of toast and water, or lemonade; any liquid you like; and sip a drop of it every minute, letting it go down your throat slowly. You’ll soon get rid of your sore chest if you do this; and you’ll have no cough.”