’There is much to do, both for Rotherwood and for Eleanor; I shall go as soon as I can, but I do not think it will be while this fever is so prevalent. I had rather not be from home—I do not like Robert’s looks.’
CHAPTER XIX: THE RECTOR’S ILLNESS
’Thou drooping sick man, bless the guide That checked, or turned thy headstrong youth.’
The thought of her brother’s kindness, and the effect of his consolation, made Lilias awake that morning in more cheerful spirits; but it was not long before grief and anxiety again took possession of her.
The first sound that she heard on opening the schoolroom window was the tolling of the church bell, giving notice of the death of another of those to whom she felt bound by the ties of neighbourhood.
At church she saw that Mr. Devereux was looking more ill than he yet had done, and it was plainly with very great exertion that he succeeded in finishing the service. The Mohun party waited, as usual, to speak to him afterwards, for since his attendance upon Naylor had begun he had not thought it safe to come to the New Court as usual, lest he should bring the infection to them. He was very pale, and walked wearily, but he spoke cheerfully, as he told them that Naylor was now quite out of danger.
‘Then I hope you did not stay there all last night,’ said Mr. Mohun.
’No, I did not, I was so tired when I came back from poor John Ray’s funeral, that I thought I would take a holiday, and sleep at home.’
‘I am afraid you have not profited by your night’s rest,’ said Emily, ‘you look as if you had a horrible headache.’
‘Now,’ said Mr. Mohun, ’I prescribe for you that you go home and lie down. I am going to Raynham, and I will tell your friend there that you want help for the evening service. Do not think of moving again to-day. I shall send Claude home with you to see that you obey my prescription.’
Claude went home with his cousin, and his sisters saw him no more till late in the day, when he came to tell them that Mr. Mohun had brought back Dr. Leslie from Raynham with him, that Dr. Leslie had seen Mr. Devereux, and had pronounced that he had certainly caught the fever.
Lily had made up her mind to this for some time, but still it seemed almost as great a blow as if it had come without any preparation. The next day was the first Sunday that Mr. Devereux had not read the service since he had been Rector of Beechcroft. The villagers looked sadly at the stranger who appeared in his place, and many tears were shed when the prayers of the congregation were desired for Robert Devereux, and Thomas and Martha Naylor. It was announced that the daily service would be discontinued for the present, and Lily felt as if all the blessings which she had misused were to be taken from her.