“Her ladyship is upstairs, my lady.” And Brigit ran up the shallow, red-carpeted steps. But who was this old woman wrapped in a white shawl.
It was Lady Kingsmead, and Brigit, looking at her mother, almost fainted for the first time in her life.
“How is he?” she gasped, leaning against the wall and wondering why it was so unsteady.
“He—his throat is better, but—he is very weak and—delirious. His brain, they say, is—over-active.” Poor Lady Kingsmead burst into tears, wiping her eyes on the fringe of her shawl.
Brigit patted the strangely shrunken head compassionately. “Don’t cry, mother,” she said. “Is he in his room?”
“No—in the boudoir. His chimney smokes so in the autumn, you know.”
Tommy lay in his own brass bed in the silken nest of his mother, a white-capped nurse by his side. The little boy’s face was flushed and his head tossing restlessly to and fro on the embroidered pillows. “There’s no use,” he was muttering. “I tell you, it’s quite silly to waste time; you should have begun long ago. He always said so, and he’s right.”
Brigit sat down by him. “Here’s Bicky,” she said, “with the Master’s love for you, Tommy.”
“He’s gone away. Ratting with the Prince of Wales. Let’s play his fiddle before he comes back. I’ve got that last exercise beautifully—only my little finger is so beastly short. If I’d been whipped when I was a kid it might have grown—there it goes! Hi, Pincher, after him!”
The nurse rose and moistened her patient’s lips with water.
“How is he, nurse?” asked Brigit shortly.
“His throat’s better, miss—my lady. But he’s very weak. These active-minded little boys——”
“I know; I know,” interrupted the girl hastily. “When will he know me?”
The nurse hesitated. How could she tell? The relations always did ask senseless questions. The Persian kitten, now grown to be a cat less Persian than had been expected, came into the room, and the nurse took it up and put it out. “He always comes; he’s a perfect nuisance,” she observed. “They get so used to places, cats, don’t they?”
Brigit nodded. “I’ll go and change,” she said. “I’ll be back in a few minutes.”
“Better take something to eat, my lady. The danger of infection is great, you know, and the tireder one is——”
When she came back, Brigit found her mother installed in the room while nurse had her tea. Lady Kingsmead was a good nurse, greatly to her daughter’s surprise, and all her affectations seemed to have been left in her dressing-room with her false hair.
The three women took turns sitting up with the invalid, but he recognised none of them. It was a very long night, and only the greatest determination kept Brigit awake during her watches, for she was extremely tired after her journey.