Carey could adjudicate now, though trembling still. She made Jock own that his Serpentine plans had been unjustifiable, and then she added, “My poor boy, I must punish you. You must remember it, for if you are not good and steady, what will become of us.”
Jock leapt at her neck. “Mother, do anything to me. I don’t mind, if you only won’t look at me like that!”
She sat down on the stairs, all in a heap again with him, and sentenced him to the forfeit of the ship, which he endured with more tolerable grace, because Armine observed, “Never mind, Skipjack, we’ll go partners in mine. You shall have half my cargo of gold dust.”
Carey could not find it in her heart to check the voyages of the remaining ship, over the uncarpeted dining-room; but as she was going, Armine looked at her with his great soft eyes, and said, “Mother Carey, have you got to be the scoldy and punishy one now?”
“I must if you need it,” said she, going down on her knees again to gather the little fellow to her breast; “but, oh, don’t-don’t need it.”
“I’d rather it was Uncle Robert and Aunt Ellen,” said Jock, “for then I shouldn’t care.”
“Dear Jock, if you only care, I think we sha’n’t want many punishments. But now I must go to your aunt, for we did behave horribly ill to her.”
Aunt Ellen was kind, and accepted Carey’s apology when she found that Jock had really been punished. Only she said, “You must be firm with that boy, Caroline, or you will be sorry for it. My boys know that what I have said is to be done, and they know it is of no use to disobey. I am happy to say they mind me at a word; but that John of yours needs a tight hand. The Colonel thinks that the sooner he is at school the better.”
Before Carey had time to get into a fresh scrape, the Colonel was ringing at the door. He had to confess that Dr. Lucas had said Mrs. Joe Brownlow was right about Vaughan, and had made it plain that his offer ought not to be accepted, either in policy, or in that duty which the Colonel began to perceive towards his brother’s patients. Nor did he think ill of her plan respecting Dr. Drake; and said he would himself suggest the application which that gentleman was no doubt withholding from true feeling, for he had been a favourite pupil of Joe Brownlow, and had been devoted to him. He was sure that Mrs. Brownlow’s good sense and instinct were to be trusted, a dictum which not a little surprised her brother-in-law, who had never ceased to think of “poor Joe’s fancy” as a mere child, and who forgot that she was fifteen years older than at her marriage.
He told his wife what Dr. Lucas had said, to which she replied, “That’s just the way. Men know nothing about it.”
However, Dr. Drake’s offer was sufficiently eligible to be accepted. Moreover, it proved that the most available house at Kenminster could not be got ready for the family before the winter, so that the move could not take place till the spring. In the meantime, as Dr. Drake could not marry till Easter, the lower part of the house was to be given up to him, and Carey and Janet felt that they had a reprieve.