“Has he had a doctor?”
Jemima shook her head. “He wouldn’t hab none; he ain’t been clean beat out till day befo’ yisterday, an’ den I got skeered an’—” She stopped, leaned closer, clapped her hand over her mouth to keep from screaming, and staggered back to her chair.
St. George raised his head from the pillow and stared into the shadows.
“Who is talking? I heard somebody speak? Jemima—you haven’t disobeyed me, have you?”
Harry stepped noiselessly to the bedside and laid his fingers on the sick man’s wrist:
“Uncle George,” he said gently.
Temple lowered his head as if to focus his gaze.
“Yes, there is some one!” he cried in a stronger voice. “Who are you, sir?—not a doctor, are you? I didn’t send for you!—I don’t want any doctor, I told my servant so. Jemima!—Todd!—why do you—”
Harry tightened his grasp on the emaciated wrist. “No, Uncle George, it’s Harry! I’m just back.”
“What did he say, Todd? Harry!—Harry! Did he say he was Harry, or am I losing my mind?”
In his eagerness to understand he lifted himself to a sitting posture, his eyes wandering uneasily over the speaker’s body, resting on his head—on his shoulders, arms, and hands—as if trying to fix his mind on something which constantly baffled him.
Harry continued to pat his wrist soothingly.
“Yes, it’s Harry, Uncle George,” he answered. “But don’t talk—lie down. I’m all right—I got in yesterday and have been looking for you everywhere. Pawson told me you were at Wesley. I found Todd a few minutes ago by the merest accident, and he brought me here. No, you must lie down—let me help—rest yourself on me—so.” He was as tender with him as if he had been his own mother.
The sick man shook himself free—he was stronger than Harry thought. He was convinced now that there was some trick being played upon him—one Jemima in her anxiety had devised.
“How dare you, sir, lie to me like that! Who asked you to come here? Todd—send this fellow from the room!”
Harry drew back out of his uncle’s vision and carefully watched the invalid. St. George’s mind was evidently unhinged and it would be better not to thwart him.
Todd crept up. He had seen his master like this once before and had had all he could do to keep him in bed.
“Dat ain’t no doctor, Marse George,” he pleaded, his voice trembling. “Dat’s Marse Harry come back agin alive. It’s de hair on his face make him look dat way; dat fool me too. It’s Marse Harry, fo’ sho’—I fotch him yere myse’f. He’s jes’ come from de big ship.”
St. George twisted his head, looked long and earnestly into Harry’s face, and with a sudden cry of joy stretched out his hand and motioned him nearer. Harry sank to his knees beside the bed. St. George curved one arm about his neck, drew him tightly to his breast as he would a woman, and fell back upon the pillow with Harry’s head next his own. There the two lay still, St. George’s eyes half closed, thick sobs stifling his utterance, the tears streaming down his pale cheeks; his thin white fingers caressing the brown hair of the boy he loved. At last, with a heavy, indrawn sigh, not of grief, but of joy, he muttered: