“But that she had become too feeble for work, and is dependent on a younger sister, who earns a few dollars, weekly, at book-folding.”
“The simple story, I believe,” said the doctor.
Mrs. Carleton was silent for most of the way home; but thought was busy. She had seen a phase of life that touched her deeply.
“You are better for this ride,” remarked the doctor, as he handed her from the carriage.
“I think so,” replied Mrs. Carleton.
“There has not been so fine a color on your face for months.”
They had entered Mrs. Carleton’s elegant residence, and were sitting in one of her luxurious parlors.
“Shall I tell you why?” added the doctor.
Mrs. Carleton bowed.
“You have had some healthy heart-beats.”
She did not answer.
“And I pray you, dear madam, let the strokes go on,” continued Dr. Farleigh. “Let your mind become interested in some good work, and your hands obey your thoughts, and you will be a healthy woman, in body and soul. Your disease is mental inaction.”
Mrs. Carleton looked steadily at the doctor.
“You are in earnest,” she said, in a calm, firm way.
“Wholly in earnest, ma’am. I found you, an hour ago, in so weak a state that to lift your hand was an exhausting effort. You are sitting erect now, with every muscle taughtly strung. When will your carriage be home?”
He asked the closing question abruptly.
“To-morrow,” was replied.
“Then I will not call for you, but—”
“Say on, doctor.”
“Will you take my prescription?”
“Yes.” There was no hesitation.
“You must give that sick woman a ride into the country. The fresh, pure, blossom-sweet air will do her good—may, indeed, turn the balance of health in her favor. Don’t be afraid of Mrs. McFlimsey.”
“For shame, doctor! But you are too late in your suggestion. I’m quite ahead of you.”
“Ah! in what respect?”
“That drive into the country is already a settled thing. Do you know, I’m in love with that baby?”
“Othello’s occupation’s gone, I see!” returned the doctor, rising. “But I may visit you occasionally as a friend, I presume, if not as a medical adviser?”
“As my best friend, always,” said Mrs. Carleton, with feeling. “You have led me out of myself, and showed me the way to health and happiness; and I have settled the question as to my future. It shall not be as the past.”
And it was not.
Hadn’t time for trouble.
Mrs. Caldwell was so unfortunate as to have a rich husband. Not that the possession of a rich husband is to be declared a misfortune, per se, but, considering the temperament of Mrs. Caldwell, the fact was against her happiness, and therefore is to be regarded, taking the ordinary significance, of the term, as unfortunate.