But at last day came, and with it a short return of consciousness. “Where’s Bicky?”
“Here I am, Tommy darling,” she answered, taking his hand. “Are you better, love?”
“Yes, I think so. Where’s my violin?”
She fetched it, and he went to sleep, his wasted hand lying across the strings.
When he next spoke it was to talk utter nonsense about a flying-machine, an account of which he had read in a newspaper.
Poor little Tommy’s passion for knowing things showed up very clearly the next few days, his over-active brain working hard propounding to itself question on subjects that Brigit had never heard him even mention. And one of the most pathetic subjects was that of her relations with her mother. “If Brigit would only come back and live here again,” he said over and over again, “like other fellows’ sisters. Things are so much pleasanter when she is here.”
“I’m here, Tommy darling,” she told him a hundred times, but he only shook his head and frowned gently. “You are very nice, and I like your hands, because they are cool and dry, but you are not Bicky. Bicky is beautiful.”
His mother, on the contrary, the child always recognised, and his manner to her was almost protecting.
“Don’t cry, mother,” he would say. “I’m not so bad, really I’m not. You had better go and lie down, or you will not look pretty to-night.”
His idea of evenings was, of course, of a time when mothers must look their best at any cost, and when no mother ever stayed upstairs.
Every evening, therefore, he could not rest until Lady Kingsmead had gone “to dress.”
Brigit had never known how much the little fellow noticed the details of dress, and so on, but now she learned, for his remarks about his mother usually took the form of appreciation or dislike of some particular toilette.
“Wear pink, mother—it suits you best—and pearls. The diamonds make you look older.”
Poor Lady Kingsmead, more lovable in her distress than her daughter had ever seen her, obeyed him humbly, and promising to wear pink, or whatever the colour might be, crept away to her bedroom and cried until she was scarcely recognisable.
Two days passed thus, the doctor coming many times and shaking his head doubtfully over questions about his patient. “The throat is much better—the danger from that is quite past; but—the fever does not go down, and I can’t quite tell what the complication is. He is too young to have had a mental shock, so I can only assume that the too great activity of his mind is now against us. I understand that he has been studying very hard?”
This Brigit denied, but the doctor, on insisting, was told to interview Mr. Babington, and to the girl’s amazement she learned that only a day or two before he was taken ill Tommy had betrayed the fact that for weeks he had been in the habit of spending part of each night in the disused chapel, practising on his violin.