“At last, Evelyn, child! I suppose you have not been long gone, but it seemed so to my impatience,” was Laura’s salutation as Eva reentered her room.
“It is sweet to hear you say that, mother dear; sweet to know that you love me so,” Evelyn said in moved tones, bending down to press a kiss on the wan cheek, “and I mean to fairly surfeit you with my company in the days and weeks that lie before us.”
“And she only waited with the rest of us to consult our good doctor for you, Laura,” added Mrs. Leland. “He has prescribed a sleeping potion for to-night, and will call to see you and prescribe further in the morning.”
“I think I should have been consulted,” returned the invalid in a tone of irritation; “my money is all gone and he may never get his pay.”
“Oh, don’t trouble about that!” exclaimed Mrs. Leland and Evelyn in a breath, the former adding, “His charges are not heavy and it will be strange indeed if we cannot find a way to meet and defray them.”
“Of course we can and will, and you are not to concern yourself any more about it, mamma,” added Evelyn in a tone of playful authority. “What would be the use when you have a tolerably rich, grown-up daughter, whose principal business and pleasure it will be to take care of and provide for her long-lost, but now happily recovered mother. And here comes uncle with your sleeping potion,” she added, as Mr. Leland at that moment appeared in the doorway, cup in hand.
“Here is something which I hope will quiet your cough, Laura,” he said, coming to the bedside. “It is not bad to take, either, and will be likely to secure you a good night’s rest.”
“I don’t know,” she returned doubtfully, eyeing the cup with evident disfavour, “I was never good at dosing.”
“You prefer lying awake, racked with that distressing cough?”
“No,” she sighed, taking the cup from his hand, “even quite a bad dose would be better than that. And it was not so bad after all,” she concluded as she returned the cup, after swallowing its contents.
“Glad to hear you say so,” he said in reply. “And now take my further advice—lie still and go to sleep, leaving all the talk with Eva till to-morrow. Good-night to you both.” And he left the room, followed presently by his wife, who lingered only until she had made sure that all the wants of the invalid were fully supplied.
Laura had already fallen into a sweet sleep, under the soothing influence of the draught, and Eva presently stretched herself beside her, and with a heart filled with contending emotions—love for this her only remaining parent, joy in their reunion, sorrow and care in view of her evident exhaustion and ill-health, and plans for making her remaining days happy—lay awake for a time silently asking for guidance and help from on high, then fell into dreamless, refreshing sleep.