Whereabouts do you think he’d best go?”
“Oh, I don’t know. Italy—or Egypt—”
“I guess, if you could get Jackson to go away at all, it would be to some of them old Bible countries,” said Mrs. Durgin. “We’ve got to have a fight to get him off, make the best of it, and I’ve thought it over since the children spoke about it, and I couldn’t seem to see Jackson willin’ to go out to Californy or Colorady, to either of his brothers. But I guess he would go to Egypt. That a good climate for the—his complaint?”
She entered eagerly into the question, and Westover promised to write to a Boston doctor, whom he knew very well, and report Jackson’s case to him, and get his views of Egypt.
“Tell him how it is,” said Mrs. Durgin, “and the tussle we shall have to have anyway to make Jackson believe he’d ought to have a rest. He’ll go to Egypt if he’ll go anywheres, because his mind keeps runnin’ on Bible questions, and it ’ll interest him to go out there; and we can make him believe it’s just to bang around for the winter. He’s terrible hopeful.” Now that she began to speak, all her long-repressed anxiety poured itself out, and she hitched her chair nearer to Westover and wistfully clutched his sleeve. “That’s the worst of Jackson. You can’t make him believe anything’s the matter. Sometimes I can’t bear to hear him go on about himself as if he was a well young man. He expects that medium’s stuff is goin’ to cure him!”
“People sick in that way are always hopeful,” said Westover.
“Oh, don’t I know it! Ha’n’t I seen my children and my husband—Oh, do ask that doctor to answer as quick as he can!”
Westover had a difficulty in congratulating Jeff which he could scarcely define to himself, but which was like that obscure resentment we feel toward people whom we think unequal to their good fortune. He was ashamed of his grudge, whatever it was, and this may have made him overdo his expressions of pleasure. He was sensible of a false cordiality in them, and he checked himself in a flow of forced sentiment to say, more honestly: “I wish you’d speak to Cynthia for me. You know how much I think of her, and how much I want to see her happy. You ought to be a very good fellow, Jeff!”
“I’ll tell her that; she’ll like that,” said Jeff. “She thinks the world of you.”
“Does she? Well!”
“And I guess she’ll be glad you sent word. She’s been wondering what you would say; she’s always so afraid of you.”
“Is she? You’re not afraid of me, are you? But perhaps you don’t think so much of me.”
“I guess Cynthia and I think alike on that point,” said Jeff, without abating Westover’s discomfort.