“The man who is stealing your logs, eh?” Jasper queried.
“Yes. But surely he’s not in there!”
“Get your coals ready, Mrs. Bean,” Jasper bantered. “You can use them right away if you want to.”
Mrs. Bean paid no attention to these words. Her worn face grew a shade paler and her hand shook as she laid the plate upon the table. Just then the doctor entered the kitchen.
“We must have a trained nurse at once,” he began. “That’s a very sick man in there, Mrs. Bean, and he must have the greatest of care.”
“I shall do the best I can, sir,” was the quiet reply. “No one shall ever say of me that I didn’t do my duty. I have tried to do it in the past and shall try to do it still.”
“I know you will do what you can, Mrs. Bean,” and the doctor’s voice was more gentle than usual, “but you must have assistance. No one could expect you to look after the house and take care of such a sick man as that. We must send to the city for a nurse at once.”
“What about Miss Sinclair?” Jasper asked. “She should be told of her father’s illness. I was planning to phone to her when we get hack to Creekdale. She could arrange for a nurse to come by train, and I could meet her at the station. This is Christmas Day and I’m afraid it will be difficult to get a nurse to come on go short a notice. She would have to come on the suburban this evening, though, as that will be the only train she would be able to get.”
“Do the best you can,” the doctor replied. “I shall stay here to-day. It would not do for me to leave now until some one comes to help Mrs. Bean.”
The sun was just rising above the far-off horizon as Jasper rode into Creekdale. Not a breath of wind was astir, and the only signs of life were the long wreathes of smoke circling up from numerous chimneys. The village nestled on the side of a hill and thus met the sun’s early smile while the surrounding valleys were still draped in shadows. To Jasper it seemed as if fairyland had burst suddenly upon his view after his drive through the sombre forest. The snow sparkled like countless diamonds and the white-robed trees stood bathed in glistening glory. It was Nature’s silent symphony in honour of the birthday of the great Prince of Peace.
The telephone was at the store and it did not take Jasper long to arouse Andy Forbes and acquaint him with the object of his early visit. The storekeeper was greatly interested in the news of Peter Sinclair’s illness. He knew that in a short time various rumours would be circulating throughout the parish. But he would have exact information and would be able to impress all by his hints of superior and first-hand knowledge.
It took Andy some time to get “Central” in the city, and longer still to make connection with the Sinclair home, the number of which he had found in the Telephone Directory. But at length his efforts were rewarded and he handed the receiver to Jasper.