“She’d puzzle a Philadelphia lawyer,” soliloquized the housekeeper as she descended the stairs with the tray. “I suppose her mother is uneducated and uses queer English. As the old ones croak, the young ones learn. The child uses words nobody ever heard of, and is ignorant of the commonest ones. I’m glad she’s so fond of me if I’ve got to take care of her.”
Mr. Evringham looked about, half in apprehension, half in anticipation, as he entered the dining-room the following morning. Jewel had not arrived, so he settled himself to read his paper. Each time there was a sound he glanced up, bracing himself for the approach of light feet, beaming face, and an ardent embrace. His interest in the news gradually lessened, and his expectancy increased. She did not come. At last he began to suspect that the unprecedented had happened, and that Mrs. Forbes herself was late.
He looked at his watch with suddenly rising amazement. It was ten minutes past the appointed time. He began feeling around with his foot for the electric bell. It was an unaccustomed movement, for his wishes were usually anticipated. By the time he found it, he had become a seriously injured man, and the peal he rang summoned Sarah suddenly.
“Bring me my coffee at once, if you please. What is the matter?”
The maid did not know. He was drinking his first cup when the housekeeper entered the room, flushed of countenance.
“You’ll have to excuse me, Mr. Evringham. I couldn’t come a minute sooner. Julia is sick.”
“Sick! I should like to know why?”
“Why, she got sopping wet in that brook yesterday, and here, just as I knew it would be, she’s got a fever.”
“A fever, eh?” repeated Mr. Evringham in a startled tone.
“Yes, sir, and what’s more, when I told her you would send for the doctor, it was worse than about the rubbers. She talked all the rubbish you can think of. I’m sure she’s flighty—said she never had a doctor, that she always got well, and even cried when I told her that that was nonsense.”
“Was she ill all night, do you think?”
“I don’t know. I found her trying to get up when I went to her room, and I saw at once that she wasn’t able to.
“Well, Mrs. Forbes, all I can do is to ask your pardon for adding so much to your cares. Let Sarah bring me my eggs, and then, if you please, telephone for Dr. Ballard to come over before his office hour.”
“I will, sir, but I’ll ask you to see the child before you go to town and make her promise to behave about the doctor. You’d have thought I was asking to let in a roaring lion.”
“Shy! That child shy!” thought Mrs. Forbes.
“She knows Dr. Ballard,” continued the broker, “and if you had thought to mention him, she wouldn’t have made any fuss.”