“Have I been asleep?” he asked, looking at his watch. Only ten minutes since I looked last? Well, now I am all right.”
“You will be when you have eaten this,” said Lord Fordham.
Johnny obeyed, and ate with relish.
“There!” said he; “now I am ready for anything.”
“Don’t get up yet. I’ll go and order a horse for you.”
When Lord Fordham came back from doing so, he found his patient really fast asleep, and with a little colour coming into the pale cheeks. He stole back, bade that the pony should wait, went on writing his letter, and waited till one hour, two, three hours had passed, and at last the sleeper woke, greatly disgusted, willing to accept the bath which Lord Fordham advised him to take, and which made him quite himself again.
“You’ll let me go now,” he said. “I can walk as well as ever.”
“You will be of more use now, if you ride,” said Lord Fordham. “There, I hear our luncheon coming in. You must eat while the pony is coming round.”
“If it won’t lose time-thank you,” said Johnny, recovered enough now to know how hungry he was, “But I ought not to have stayed away. My aunt has no one but me.”
“And you can really help her?” said Lord Fordham, with some experience of his brother’s uselessness.
“Not well, of course,” said Johnny; “but it is better than nobody; and Armine is so patient and so good, that I’m the more afraid. Is not it a very bad sign,” he added, confidentially; for he was quite won by the youth’s kind, considerate way, and evident liking and sympathy.
“I don’t know,” faltered Lord Fordham. “My brother Walter was like that! Is this the little fellow who is Cecil’s fag?”
“Yes; Jock asked him to take him, because he was sure never to bully him or lick him when he wouldn’t do things.”
This not very lucid description rejoiced Lord Fordham.
“I am glad of that,” he said. “But I hope the little boy will get over this. My mother had a very excellent account of Dr. Medlicott’s skill; and you know an illness from a misadventure is not like anything constitutional.”
“No; but Armine is always delicate, and my aunt has had to take care of him.”
“Do you live with them?”
“O no; I have lots of people at home. I only came with them because I had had these measles at Eton; and my aunt is-well, the very jolliest woman that ever was.”
Lord Fordham smiled.
“Yes, indeed she is. I don’t mean only kind and good-natured. But if you just knew her! The whole world and everything else have just been something new and glorious ever since I knew her. I seem to myself to have lived in a dark hole till she made it all light.”
“Ah! I understand that you would do anything for her.”
“That I would, if there was anything I could do,” said Johnny, hastily finishing his meal.