“Really, Cecil, that’s too bad. He let me come on board!”
“Do you think I should have brought you here if I had thought you meant to make yourself ridiculous?”
“It is of no use, Sydney,” said Babie; “there’s no dealing with the stern and staid pere de famille. I wonder what he would have liked Essie to do, if he had had to go and leave her for nearly two months when he had only been married a week?”
“Essie is quite a different thing-I mean she has sense and self-possession.”
“Mamma, won’t you speak for us?” implored Sydney. “I did behave so well when he went! Nobody would have guessed we hadn’t been married fifty years.”
“Still I think Cecil is quite right, and that it may be better for them all to manage the landing quietly.”
“Without a pack of women,” said Cecil. “Here we are! I hope you will find a tolerable room for him and no stairs.”
As if poor Mrs. Evelyn were not well enough used to choosing rooms for invalids!
Twilight had come, the gas had been turned on, and the three anxious ladies stood in the window gazing vainly at endless vehicles, when the door opened and they beheld sundry figures entering.
Sydney and Barbara flew, the one to her husband, the other to her mother, and presently all stood round the fire looking at one another. Mrs. Evelyn made a gesture to a very slender and somewhat pale figure to sit down in a large easy chair.
“Thank you, I’m not tired,” he briskly said, standing with a caressing hand on his friend’s shoulder. “Here’s Cecil can’t quite believe yet that I have the use of my limbs.”
“Yes,” said John, “no sooner did he come on board, than he made a rush at the poor sailor who had broken his leg, and was going to be carried ashore on a hammock. He was on the point of embracing him, red beard and all, when he was forcibly dragged off by Jock himself whom he nearly knocked down.”
“Well,” said Cecil, as Sydney fairly danced round him in revengeful glee, “there was the Monk solicitously lifting him on one side, and Mother Carey assisting with a smelling-bottle on the other, so what could I suppose?”
“All for want of us,” said Sydney.
“And think of the cunning of him,” added Babie; “shutting us up here that he might give way to his feelings undisturbed!”
“I promised to go and speak about that poor fellow at the hospital,” cried John, with sudden recollection.
“You had better let me,” said Jock.
“You will stay where you are.”
“I consider him my patient.”
“If that’s the way you two fought over your solitary case all the way home,” said Babie, “I wonder there’s a fragment left of him.”
“It was only three days ago,” said John, “and Jock has been a new man ever since he picked the poor fellow up on deck, but I’m not going to let him stir to-night.”
“Let me come with you, Johnny,” entreated Sydney; “it will be so nice! Oh, no, I don’t mind the cold!”