“I don’t expect it,” returned Jan. “If you’d like Cheese, that’s his window,” pointing to one in the house. “Throw a handful of gravel up, and tell them I said he was to attend.”
Jan walked off with Hook. He heard a crash of gravel behind him; so concluded the cook was flinging at Mr. Cheese’s window in a temper. As she certainly was, giving Mr. Jan some hard words in the process. Just as Lady Verner had never been able to inculcate suavity on Jan, so Dr. West had found it a hopeless task to endeavour to make Jan understand that, in medical care, the rich should be considered before the poor. Take, for example, that bete noire of Deerham just now, Alice Hook, and put her by the side of a born duchess; Jan would have gone to the one who had most need of him, without reference to which of the two it might be. Evidently there was little hope for Jan.
Jan, with his long legs, outstripped the stooping and hard-worked labouring man. In at the door and up the stairs he went, into the sleeping room.
Did you ever pay a visit to a room of this social grade? If not, you will deem the introduction of this one highly coloured. Had Jan been a head and shoulders shorter, he might have been able to stand up in the lean-to attic, without touching the lath and plaster of the roof. On a low bedstead, on a flock mattress, lay the mother and two children, about eight and ten. How they made room for Hook also, was a puzzle. Opposite to it, on a straw mattress, slept three sons, grown up, or nearly so; between these beds was another straw mattress where lay Alice and her sister, a year younger; no curtains, no screens, no anything. All were asleep, with the exception of the mother and Alice; the former could not rise from her bed; Alice appeared too ill to rise from hers. Jan stooped his head and entered.
A few minutes, and he set himself to arouse the sleepers. They might make themselves comfortable in the kitchen, he told them, for the rest of the night: he wanted room in the place to turn himself round, and they must go out of it. And so he bundled them out. Jan was not given to stand upon ceremony. But it is not a pleasant room to linger in, so we will leave Jan to it.
It was pleasanter at Lady Verner’s. Enough of air, and light, and accommodation there. But even in that desirable residence it was not all couleur de rose. Vexations intrude into the most luxurious home, whatever may be the superfluity of room, the admirable style of the architecture; and they were just now agitating Deerham Court.
On the morning which rose on the above night—as lovely a morning as ever September gave us—Lady Verner and Lucy Tempest received each a letter from India. Both were from Colonel Tempest. The contents of Lady Verner’s annoyed her, and the contents of Lucy’s annoyed her.
It appeared that some considerable time back, nearly, if not quite, twelve months, Lucy had privately written to Colonel Tempest, urgently requesting to be allowed to go out to join him. She gave no reason or motive for the request, but urged it strongly. That letter, in consequence of the moving about of Colonel Tempest, had only just reached him; and now had arrived the answer to it. He told Lucy that he should very shortly be returning to Europe; therefore it was useless for her to think of going out.