He prayed with fervor, the fine old prayers of his church.
“Look down from heaven, we humbly beseech thee, with the eyes of mercy upon this child now lying upon the bed of sickness: Visit her, O Lord, with thy salvation; deliver her in thy good appointed time from bodily pain, and save her soul for thy mercies’ sake; that, if it shall be thy pleasure to prolong her days here on earth, she may live for thee, and be an instrument of thy glory, by serving thee faithfully, and doing good in her generation; or else receive her into those heavenly habitations, where the souls of those who sleep in the Lord Jesus enjoy perpetual rest and felicity.”
Flora, lying inert and bloodless, opened her eyes. “Say it again,” she whispered. “Say it again.”
Randy rode straight from Hamilton Hill to Huntersfield. He found Becky in the Bird Room. She had her head tied up in a white cloth, and a big white apron enveloped her. She was as white as the whiteness in which she was clad, and there were purple shadows under her eyes. The windows were open and a faint breeze stirred the curtains. The shade of the great trees softened the light to a dim green. After the glare of Oscar’s terrace it was like coming from a blazing desert to the bottom of the sea.
There was a wide seat under a window which looked out towards the hills. Becky sat down on it. “Everybody is out,” she said, “except Aunt Claudia. She is taking a nap up-stairs.”
“I didn’t come to see everybody, Becky. I came to see you.”
“I am glad you came. I can rest a bit.”
“You work as hard as if you had to do it.”
She leaned back against the green linen cushions of the window seat and looked up at him. “I do have to do it. There is nobody else. Mandy is busy, and, anyhow, Grandfather doesn’t like to have the servants in here. And neither do I—— It is almost as if the birds were alive—and loved me.”
Randy hugged his knee and meditated. “But there are lots of rich women who wouldn’t dust a room.”
She made a gesture of disdain. “Oh, that kind of rich people.”
“The kind that aren’t used to their money. Who think ladies—are idle. Sister Loretto says that is the worst kind—the awful kind. She talked to me every day about it. She said that money was a curse when people used it only for their ease. Sister Loretto hates laziness. She had money herself before she took her vows, but now she works every hour of the day and she says it brings her happiness.”
Randy shook his head. “Most of us need to play around a bit, Becky.”
“Do we? I—I think most women would be better off if they were like Sister Loretto.”
“They would not. Stop talking rot, Becky, and take that thing off your head. It makes you look like a nun.”
“I know. I saw myself in the glass. I don’t mind looking like a nun, Randy.”