“I will stay with pleasure,” answered Christie, thinking Mrs. Carrol’s anxiety excessive, yet pitying the mother’s pain, for something in her face suggested the idea that she reproached herself in some way for her daughter’s state.
With secret gratitude that she had dressed with care, Christie took off her things and followed Mrs. Carrol upstairs. Entering a room in what seemed to be a wing of the great house, they found an old woman sewing.
“How is Helen to-day, Nurse?” asked Mrs. Carrol, pausing.
“Poorly, ma’am. I’ve been in every hour, but she only says: ’Let me be quiet,’ and lies looking up at the picture till it’s fit to break your heart to see her,” answered the woman, with a shake of the head.
“I have brought Miss Devon to sit with her a little while. Doctor advises it, and I fancy the experiment may succeed if we can only amuse the dear child, and make her forget herself and her troubles.”
“As you please, ma’am,” said the old woman, looking with little favor at the new-comer, for the good soul was jealous of any interference between herself and the child she had tended for years.
“I won’t disturb her, but you shall take Miss Devon in and tell Helen mamma sends her love, and hopes she will make an effort for all our sakes.”
“Go, my dear, and do your best.” With these words Mrs. Carrol hastily left the room, and Christie followed Nurse.
A quick glance showed her that she was in the daintily furnished boudoir of a rich man’s daughter, but before she could take a second look her eyes were arrested by the occupant of this pretty place, and she forgot all else. On a low luxurious couch lay a girl, so beautiful and pale and still, that for an instant Christie thought her dead or sleeping. She was neither, for at the sound of a voice the great eyes opened wide, darkening and dilating with a strange expression as they fell on the unfamiliar face.
“Nurse, who is that? I told you I would see no one. I’m too ill to be so worried,” she said, in an imperious tone.
“Yes, dear, I know, but your mamma wished you to make an effort. Miss Devon is to sit with you and try to cheer you up a bit,” said the old woman in a dissatisfied tone, that contrasted strangely with the tender way in which she stroked the beautiful disordered hair that hung about the girl’s shoulders.
Helen knit her brows and looked most ungracious, but evidently tried to be civil, for with a courteous wave of her hand toward an easy chair in the sunny window she said, quietly:
“Please sit down, Miss Devon, and excuse me for a little while. I’ve had a bad night, and am too tired to talk just yet. There are books of all sorts, or the conservatory if you like it better.”
“Thank you. I’ll read quietly till you want me. Then I shall be very glad to do any thing I can for you.”