“Crumbs!” exclaimed Joe, “what a bloodthirsty old cove he is, with his gallers-trees! This means jam, this does.”
“Jam?” repeated Ravenslee wonderingly.
“Sir, whenever the Old Un’s put out, ’e flies to jam same as some chaps do to drink; makes a fair old beast of hisself, he do. If you’ll excuse us, sir, Spider an’ me’ll just keep a eye on him to see as he don’t go upsettin’ his old innards again.”
Ravenslee nodded, and smiling, watched them hurry after the little old man; but gradually his amusement waned, and he became lost in frowning thought. So deeply abstracted was he that he started to find Mrs. Trapes regarding him with her sharp, bright eyes.
“Mr. Geoffrey, here’s a cup o’ beef tea as I’ve prepared with my own hand—”
“She’s gone t’ bed. Here’s a cup o’ beef tea as is stiff with nourishment, so get it into your system good an’ quick.”
“Gone to bed—”
“She says it’s a headache, o’ course—drink it down while it’s hot—but I reckon it’s more ‘n a headache—yes, sir. A while back I says t’ you—’woo her,’ I says, Mr. Geoffrey. I now says—let her alone awhile. The poor child’s all wore out—it’s nerves as is the matter with her, I reckon. So, Mr. Ravenslee, be patient, this ain’t no wooin’ time; it’s rest she needs an’ change of air—”
“Why, then, Mrs. Trapes, she shall have them!”
THE WOES OF MR. BRIMBERLY
Mr. Brimberly, having dined well as was his custom, lay at his ease in a luxurious lounge chair in the shade of the piazza; the day was hot, wherefore on a table at his elbow was a syphon, a bottle, and a long glass in which ice tinkled alluringly; between his plump fingers was a large cigar and across his plump knees was an open paper over which he yawned and puffed and sipped in turn. Nevertheless Mr. Brimberly was bored and dropping the paper, languidly cherished a languorous whisker, staring dull-eyed across stately terraces and wide, neat lawns to where, beyond winding yew walks and noble trees, the distant river flowed.
Presently as he sat he was aware of a small girl in a white pinafore approaching along one of these walks—a small being who hopped along by means of a little crutch and sang to herself in a soft, happy voice.
Mr. Brimberly blinked.
Heedless of the eyes that watched her, the child turned into the rose garden, pausing now and then to inhale the scent of some great bloom that filled the air with its sweetness.
Mr. Brimberly sat up, for he permitted few to enter the rose garden.
All at once the child, singing still, reached up and broke off a great scarlet bloom.
Mr. Brimberly arose.
“Little girl!” he called, in voice round and sonorous, “little girl, come you ’ere and come immediate!”
The child started, turned, and after a moment’s hesitation hobbled forward, her little face as white as her pinafore. At the foot of the broad steps leading up to the piazza she paused, looking up at him with great, pleading eyes.