“I put it on special.”
He pulled her down to the arm of his chair, and for a moment they huddled together, cheek on cheek. The opening of the door made Joanna spring virtuously upright. It was Sir Harry.
“Hullo, Joanna!—you here. Hullo, Martin! The lovely Raddish says you’ve come home middling queer. I hope that doesn’t mean anything serious.”
“I’ve got some sort of a chill, and I feel a beast. So I thought I’d better come home.”
“I’ve given him his tea,” said Joanna, “and now he should ought to go to bed.”
Sir Harry looked at her. She struck him as an odd figure, in her velvet gown and basket hat, thick boots and man’s overcoat. The more he saw of her, the less could he think what to make of her as a daughter-in-law; but to-night he was thankful for her capable managing—mentally and physically he was always clumsy with Martin in illness. He found it hard to adapt himself to the occasional weakness of this being who dominated him in other ways.
“Do you think he’s feverish?”
Joanna felt Martin’s hands again.
“I guess he is. Maybe he wants a dose—or a cup of herb tea does good, they say. But I’ll ask Doctor to come around. Martin, I’m going now this drackly minute, and I’ll call in at Dr. Taylor’s and at Mr. Pratt’s.”
“Wait till to-morrow, and I’ll see Pratt,” said Martin, unable to rid himself of the idea that a bride should find such an errand embarrassing.
“I’d sooner go myself to-night. Anyways you mustn’t go traipsing around, even if you feel better to-morrow. I’ll settle everything, so don’t you fret.”
She took his face between her hands, and kissed him as if he were a child.
“Good night, my duck. You get off to bed and keep warm.”
She worked off her fears in action. Having given notice of the banns to Mr. Pratt, sent off Dr. Taylor to North Farthing, put up a special petition for Martin in her evening prayers, she went to bed and slept soundly. She was not an anxious soul, and a man’s illness never struck her as particularly alarming. Men were hard creatures—whose weaknesses were of mind and character rather than of body—and though Martin was softer than some, she could not quite discount his broad back and shoulders, his strong, swinging arms.
She drove over to North Farthing soon after breakfast, expecting to find him, in spite of her injunctions, about and waiting for her.
“The day’s warm and maybe he won’t hurt if he drives on with me to Honeychild”—the thought of him there beside her was so strong that she could almost feel his hand lying pressed between her arm and her heart.
But when she came to the house she found only Sir Harry, prowling in the hall.
“I’m glad you’ve come, Joanna. I’m anxious about Martin.”