Clementina laughed. “Why, Mrs. Landa, Lo’d Lioncou’t never thought of me in the wo’ld!”
“You can’t eva know. Mrs. Milray was tellin’ that he’s what they call a pooa lo’d, and that he was carryin’ on with the American girls like everything down there in Egypt last winta. I guess if it comes to money you’d have enough to buy him and sell him again.”
The mention of money cast a chill upon their talk; and Mrs. Lander said gloomily, “I don’t know as I ca’e so much for that will Mr. Milray made for me, after all. I did want to say ten thousand apiece for Mr. Landa’s relations; but I hated to befo’e him; I’d told the whole kit of ’em so much about you, and I knew what they would think.”
She looked at Clementina with recurring grudge, and the girl could not bear it.
“Then why don’t you tear it up, and make another? I don’t want anything, unless you want me to have it; and I’d ratha not have anything.”
“Yes, and what would folks say, afta youa taken’ care of me?”
“Do you think I do it fo’ that?”
“What do you do it fo’?”
“What did you want me to come with you fo’?”
“That’s true.” Mrs. Lander brightened and warmed again. “I guess it’s all right. I guess I done right, and I got to be satisfied. I presume I could get the consul to make me a will any time.”
Clementina did not relent so easily. “Mrs. Landa, whateva you do I don’t ca’e to know it; and if you talk to me again about this I shall go home. I would stay with you as long as you needed me, but I can’t if you keep bringing this up.”
“I suppose you think you don’t need me any moa! Betta not be too su’a.”
The girl jumped to her feet, and Mrs. Lander interposed. “Well, the’a! I didn’t mean anything, and I won’t pesta you about it any moa. But I think it’s pretty ha’d. Who am I going to talk it ova with, then?”
“You can talk it ova with the vice-consul,” paid Clementina, at random.
“Well, that’s so.” Mrs. Lander let Clementina get her ready for the night, in sign of returning amity; when she was angry with her she always refused her help, and made her send Maddalena.
The summer heat increased, and the sick woman suffered from it, but she could not be persuaded that she had strength to get away, though the vice-consul, whom she advised with, used all his logic with her. He was a gaunt and weary widower, who described himself as being officially between hay and grass; the consul who appointed him had resigned after going home, and a new consul had not yet been sent out to remove him. On what she called her well days Mrs. Lander went to visit him, and she did not mind his being in his shirt-sleeves, in the bit of garden where she commonly found him, with his collar and cravat off, and clouded in his own smoke; when she was sick she sent for him, to visit her. He made excuses as often as she could, and if he saw Mrs. Lander’s gondola coming down the Grand Canal to his house he hurried on his cast clothing, and escaped to the Piazza, at whatever discomfort and risk from the heat.