With the first ray of the joyous sun riding full tilt across his face, he opened his eyes, threw off the cloak, and sprang to his feet. For an instant he looked wonderingly about as if in doubt whether to call the watch or begin the hunt for his cattle. Then the pine door caught his eye and the low, measured breathing of his uncle fell upon his ear, and with a quick lift of his arms, his strong hands thumping his broad chest, he stretched himself to his full height: he had work to do, and he must begin at once.
Aunt Jemima was already at her duties. She had tiptoed past his sleeping body an hour before, and after listening to St. George’s breathing had plunged into her tubs; the cat’s cradle in the dingy court-yard being already gay with various colored fragments, including Harry’s red flannel shirts which Todd had found in a paper parcel, and which the old woman had pounced upon at sight. She insisted on making him a cup of coffee, but he had no time for such luxuries. He would keep on, he said, to Kennedy Square, find Pawson, ascertain if St. George’s old rooms were still unoccupied; notify him of Mr. Temple’s return; have his bed made and fires properly lighted; stop at the livery stable, wake up Todd, if that darky had overslept himself—quite natural when he had been up almost all night—engage a carriage to be at Jemima’s at four o’clock, and then return to get everything ready for the picking-up-and-carrying-downstairs process.
And all this he did do; and all this he told Jemima he had done when he swung into the court-yard an hour later, a spring to his heels and a cheery note in his voice that had not been his for years. The reaction that hope brings to youth had set in. He was alive and at home; his Uncle George was where he could get his hands on him—in a minute—by the mounting of the stairs; and Alec and his mother within reach!
And the same glad song was in his heart when he opened his uncle’s door after he had swallowed his coffee—Jemima had it ready for him this time—and thrusting in his head cried out:
“We are going to get you out of here, Uncle George!” This with a laugh—one of his old contagious laughs that was music in the sick man’s ears.
“When?” asked the invalid, his face radiant. He had been awake an hour wondering what it all meant. He had even thought of calling to Jemima to reassure himself that it was not a dream, until he heard her over her tubs and refrained from disturbing her.
“Oh, pretty soon! I have just come from Pawson’s. Fogbin hasn’t put in an appearance and there’s nobody in the rooms and hasn’t been anybody there since you left. He can’t understand it, nor can I—and I don’t want to. I have ordered the bed made and a fire started in both the chamber and the old dining-room, and if anybody objects he has got to say so to me, and I am a very uncomfortable person to say some kinds of things to nowadays. So up you get when the time comes; and Todd and Jemima are to go too. I’ve got money enough, anyhow, to begin on. Aunt Jemima says you had a good night and it won’t be long now before you are yourself again.”