“It is indeed. I should be almost afraid to speak to her on the subject.”
“If she had had her way, I imagine, matters would never have been so bad between Doctor Morton and Clarkson. I know she was inclined to be indulgent—perhaps too indulgent—when this poor woman came to her about their rent.”
“She is very kind hearted. But after her goodness has been so cruelly abused, how can one expect her now to be even just? But, indeed, you have not yet told me what you wish her to do?”
“I should like to get permission for the widow and children to stay where they are through the winter. The poor woman is very ill; she had a baby born yesterday morning, which is, happily, not likely to live, and at present, I believe, it is just the thought of her children that keeps her alive. She can’t at the best be moved for some weeks, and I think if Mrs. Morton could know how she is really situated, she could not help wishing to spare her more trouble.”
“I dare say you are right, and that you do Mrs. Morton more justice than I do. But Lucia might be able to help us; do you mind taking her into our councils?”
“Quite the contrary; pray consult her.”
Mrs. Costello opened the drawing-room door and called Lucia. Then she explained to her shortly the doctor’s wishes, and asked whether Bella had ever alluded in their conversations to Mrs. Clarkson.
“Yes; two or three times,” Lucia answered. “She heard somehow yesterday that she was ill, and told me. She is very sorry for her, and I think she would be glad to do anything she can.”
“Thank you, Miss Costello; you will help me, I see,” cried Doctor Hardy, delighted.
Mrs. Costello smiled, “You had better leave it in Lucia’s hands, doctor,” she said. “But tell me first whether there is anything in particular that we can do? Is Mrs. Clarkson too ill to see any one?”
“That depends very much upon who it is. Anybody who could relieve her mind about those unfortunate children of hers would do her good.”
“Perhaps I may go over then, if we have good news for her.”
The doctor said good-morning, and went away, tolerably satisfied that his promise to the dying man would be fulfilled without further trouble on his part.
“When women take up a thing of that sort,” he meditated, “they seldom do it by halves. Now I would venture to bet something handsome that all these three, who have cause, if ever women had, to hate the very name of Clarkson, will be just as kind and pitiful to that poor thing as if she were the only sufferer among them. She’s all right, if we can but get her on her legs again.”