And Mrs. Fairchild stayed—not that evening only, but all night, sending Celestina home to explain matters to her father.
AND ITS CONSEQUENCES
’"Love will make the
... Teach me how to learn it right,”
Through her tears smiled Daisy.’—ANON.
For Mrs. Vane’s troubles came thickly just then. Before night it was evident that both Biddy and her father were not to escape all bad results from the chill and wetting; and the Seacove doctor, who was sent for at once, looked grave, shook his head as he murmured that it was no doubt most unfortunate. He would say nothing decided beyond giving some simple directions till he should see how the patients were the next day. Biddy, after a violent fit of crying, which came on when she found her father could not come ‘to say good-night,’ and begging, among her sobs, to be forgiven, fell asleep, and slept heavily, to wake again in an hour or two, feverish, restless, and slightly delirious. This, however, was on the whole less alarming, for very little will make a child light-headed, than Mr. Vane’s condition. There was no sleep for him, poor man; he was racked with pain and terribly awake—nervously anxious to know the ins and outs of Biddy’s escapade, and to soften it as much as possible in her mother’s eyes. Mrs. Vane kept her promise of being very gentle with Biddy, and indeed, when in her room, and seeing the poor little thing so ill, it was not difficult to be so. But once away from her, and in sight of her husband’s sufferings, the irritation against Biddy grew almost too great to keep down. And Mrs. Vane was not very good at keeping down or keeping in her feelings, and each time she burst out it seemed to make Mr. Vane worse. There was no going to bed for either her or Mrs. Fairchild that night; indeed, what she would have done without Celestina’s wise and gentle mother I do not know. It was she who sensibly made the best of it all, soothing Mrs. Vane, who really needed it almost as much as Biddy and her father; and the only snatches of sleep Mr. Vane got were when her soft and pleasant voice had been reading aloud to him.
‘I don’t know how to thank you,’ said Biddy’s mother tearfully the next morning early, when she at last persuaded Mrs. Fairchild to lie down a little. ‘Can’t you stay all day to rest?’
But Mrs. Fairchild shook her head, smiling.
‘I must go home,’ she said. ’At the latest I must go home by ten o’clock. It will be all right till then. I can trust Celestina to see to her father’s breakfast and everything, and there’s not much doing in the shop before then. Celestina will have let Miss Neale know not to come.’
’How well you have brought your little girl up—how thoughtful and womanly she is; and to think that she is only a year or two older than Bridget!’ said Mrs. Vane sadly.
‘It has not been exactly my doing,’ Celestina’s mother replied. ’I often think the very things I would have wished different for her have been the best training. She has had to be helpful and thoughtful; she has had her own duties and share of responsibility almost all her life.’