This was to be Master Cheese’s last appearance on any scene—so far as Deerham was concerned. The following day he would quit Jan for good; and that gentleman’s new assistant, a qualified practitioner, had arrived, and was present. Somewhat different arrangements from what had been originally contemplated were about to be entered on, as regarded Jan. The Misses West had found their school prosper so well during the half-year it had been established that they were desirious of taking the house entirely on their own hands. They commanded the good will and respect of Deerham, if their father did not. Possibly it was because he did not, and that their position was sympathised with and commiserated, that their scheme of doing something to place themselves independent of him, obtained so large a share of patronage. They wished to take the whole house on their own hands. Easy Jan acquiesced; Lionel thought it the best thing in all ways; and Jan began to look out for another home. But Jan seemed to waver in the fixing upon one. First, he had thought of lodgings; next he went to see a small, pretty new house that had just been built close to the Misses West. “It is too small for you, Mr. Jan,” had observed Miss Deborah.
“It will hold me and my assistant, and the boy, and a cook, and the surgery,” answered Jan. “And that’s all I want.”
Neither the lodgings, however, nor the small house had been taken; and now it was rumoured than Jan’s plans were changed again. The report ran that the surgery was to remain where it was, and that the assistant, a gentleman of rather mature age, would remain with it; occupying Jan’s bedroom (which had been renovated after the explosion of Master Cheese), and taking his meals with the Misses West: Jan meanwhile being about that tasty mansion called Belvedere House, which was situated midway between his old residence and Deerham Court. Deerham’s curiosity was uncommonly excited on the point. What, in the name of improbability, could plain Jan Verner want with a fine place like that? He’d have to keep five or six servants, if he went there. The most feasible surmise that could be arrived at was, that Jan was about to establish a mad-house—as Deerham was in the habit of phrasing a receptacle for insane patients—of the private, genteel order. Deerham felt very curious; and Jan, being a person whom they felt at ease to question without ceremony, was besieged upon the subject. Jan’s answer (all they could get from him this time) was—that he was thinking of taking Belvedere House, but had no intention yet of setting up a mad-house. And affairs were in this stage at the present time.