“I will sir, and be glad to. It ain’t Christian—no, nor human natur—to sit with hands folded when there is sick folk wanting help. Poor Judas!” she went on in soliloquy as the doctor trotted off. “I reckon his feelings changed above a bit between looking at the thirty pieces of silver and wishing he had ’un, and finding how heavy they was on his soul afore he was drove to get rid of ’em, and went out and hanged himself. I won’t do that, anyhow, while I’ve a good charicter to fall back on, but I’ll return Mrs. Wiley her money, and take the consequences if she sets it about as I’m not a woman of my word.”
A few minutes more brought Mr. Carnegie home with Bessie Fairfax to his own door. Hovering about on the watch for the doctor’s return was Mr. Wiley. Though there was no great love lost between them, the rector was imbued with the local faith in the doctor’s skill, and wanted to consult him.
“You have heard that the fever has broken out again?” he said with visible trepidation.
“I have no case of fever myself. I hear that Robb has.”
“Yes—two in one house. Now, what precautions do you recommend against infection?”
“For nervous persons the best precaution is to keep out of the way of infection.”
“You would recommend me to keep away from Marsh-End, then? Moxon is nearer, though it is in my parish.”
“I never recommend a man to dodge his duty. Mrs. Wallop will be of most use at present; she is just starting.”
“Mrs. Wallop? My wife has engaged her and paid her for a month in the event of any trouble coming amongst ourselves. You must surely be mistaken, Mr. Carnegie?”
“Mrs. Wiley was mistaken. She did not know her woman. Good-morning to you, sir.”
FRIENDS AND ACQUAINTANCES.
Mrs. Carnegie from the dining-room window witnessed the colloquy between the rector and her husband, and came out into the porch to receive her dear Bessie. “They will not expect you at Fairfield until they see you; so come in, love,” said she, and Bessie gladly obeyed.
The doctor’s house was all the quieter for the absence of the elder boys at Hampton. The other children were playing in the orchard after school. “It is a great convenience to have a school opened here where boys and girls are both taught from four up to ten, and very nicely taught,” said the mother. “It gives me a little leisure. Even Totty goes, and likes it, bless her!”
Mr. Carnegie was not many minutes in-doors. He ate a crust standing, and then went away again to answer a summons that had come since he went out in the morning.
“It will be a good opportunity, Bessie, to call on Miss Buff and Miss Wort, and to say a word in passing to the Semples and Mittens; they are always polite in asking after you,” Mrs. Carnegie mentioned at the children’s dinner. But Miss Buff, having heard that Miss Fairfax was at the doctor’s house, forestalled these good intentions by arriving there herself. She was ushered into the drawing-room, and Bessie joined her, and was embraced and rejoiced over exuberantly.