She went out at the side door, and entered the surgery. Nobody was in it except the surgery-boy. The boy was asleep, with his head and arms on the counter, and the gas flared away over him. A hissing and fizzing from Jan’s room, similar to the sounds Lucy Tempest heard when she invaded the surgery the night of the ball at Deerham Hall, saluted Martha’s ears. She went round the counter, tried the door, found it fastened, and shook the handle.
“Who’s there?” called out Master Cheese from the other side.
“It’s me,” said Martha “Supper’s ready.”
“Very well. I’ll be in directly,” responded Master Cheese.
“I say!” called out Martha wrathfully, rattling the handle again, “if you are making a mess of that room, as you do sometimes, I won’t have it. I’ll complain to Mr. Jan. There! Messing the floor and places with your powder and stuff! It would take two servants to clear up after you.”
“You go to Bath,” was the satisfactory recommendation of Master Cheese.
Martha called out another wrathful warning, and withdrew. Master Cheese came forth, locked the door, took out the key, went indoors, and sat down to supper.
Sat down in angry consternation. He threw his eager glances to every point of the table, and could not see upon it what he was longing to see—what he had been expecting all the evening to see—for the terrible event of its not being there had never so much as crossed his imagination. The dinner had consisted of a loin of pork with the crackling on, and apple sauce—a dish so beloved by Master Cheese, that he never thought of it without a watering of the mouth. It had been nothing like half eaten at dinner, neither the pork nor the sauce. Jan was at the wedding-breakfast, and the Misses West, in Master Cheese’s estimation, ate like two sparrows: of course he had looked to be regaled with it at supper. Miss West cut him a large piece of cheese, and Miss Amilly handed him the glass of celery.
Now Master Cheese had no great liking for that vulgar edible which bore his name, and which used to form the staple of so many good, old-fashioned suppers. To cheese, in the abstract, he could certainly have borne no forcible objection, since he was wont to steal into the larder, between breakfast and dinner, and help himself—as Martha would grumblingly complain—to “pounds” of it. The state of the case was just this: the young gentleman liked cheese well enough when he could get nothing better. Cheese, however, as a substitute for cold loin of pork, with “crackling” and apple sauce, was hardly to be borne, and Master Cheese sat in dumbfounded dismay, heaving great sighs and casting his eyes upon his plate.
“I feel quite faint,” said he.
“What makes you feel faint?” asked Miss Deb.
“Well, I suppose it is for want of my supper,” he returned. “Is—is there no meat to-night, Miss Deb?”
“Not any,” she answered decisively. She had the pleasure of knowing Master Cheese well.