“Thank God for that!”
“We must get her to bed. We shall carry her upstairs, and then I shall send my girls in to her. But who has done this?”
“Some robber” said Charles. “You see that the window is open. She must have heard him and come down, for she was always perfectly fearless. I wish to goodness she had called me.”
“But she was dressed.”
“Sometimes she sits up very late.”
“I did sit up very late,” said a voice. She had opened her eyes, and was blinking at them in the lamplight. “A villain came in through the window and struck me with a life-preserver. You can tell the police so when they come. Also that it was a little fat man. Now, Charles, give me your arm and I shall go upstairs.”
But her spirit was greater than her strength, for, as she staggered to her feet, her head swam round, and she would have fallen again had her nephew not thrown his arms round her. They carried her upstairs among them and laid her upon the bed, where the Doctor watched beside her, while Charles went off to the police-station, and the Denvers mounted guard over the frightened maids.
IN PORT AT LAST.
Day had broken before the several denizens of the Wilderness had all returned to their homes, the police finished their inquiries, and all come back to its normal quiet. Mrs. Westmacott had been left sleeping peacefully with a small chloral draught to steady her nerves and a handkerchief soaked in arnica bound round her head. It was with some surprise, therefore, that the Admiral received a note from her about ten o’clock, asking him to be good enough to step in to her. He hurried in, fearing that she might have taken some turn for the worse, but he was reassured to find her sitting up in her bed, with Clara and Ida Walker in attendance upon her. She had removed the handkerchief, and had put on a little cap with pink ribbons, and a maroon dressing-jacket, daintily fulled at the neck and sleeves.
“My dear friend,” said she as he entered, “I wish to make a last few remarks to you. No, no,” she continued, laughing, as she saw a look of dismay upon his face. “I shall not dream of dying for at least another thirty years. A woman should be ashamed to die before she is seventy. I wish, Clara, that you would ask your father to step up. And you, Ida, just pass me my cigarettes, and open me a bottle of stout.”
“Now then,” she continued, as the doctor joined their party. “I don’t quite know what I ought to say to you, Admiral. You want some very plain speaking to.”
“’Pon my word, ma’am, I don’t know what you are talking about.”
“The idea of you at your age talking of going to sea, and leaving that dear, patient little wife of yours at home, who has seen nothing of you all her life! It’s all very well for you. You have the life, and the change, and the excitement, but you don’t think of her eating her heart out in a dreary London lodging. You men are all the same.”