Aunt Geoffrey accordingly told the whole history, as, perhaps, every one would not have told it, for one portion of it in some degree justified Henrietta’s opinion that she had been doing a great deal on her own responsibility. It had been very difficult to stop the bleeding, and Fred, already very weak, had been so faint and exhausted that she had felt considerable alarm, and was much rejoiced by the arrival of Philip Carey, who had not been at home when the messenger reached his house. Now, however, all was well; he had fully approved all that she had done, and, although she did not repeat this to Mrs. Frederick Langford, had pronounced that her promptitude and energy had probably saved the patient’s life. Fred, greatly relieved, had fallen asleep, and she had now come, with almost an equal sense of relief, to tell his mother all that had passed, and ask her pardon.
“Nay, Beatrice, what do you mean by that? Is it not what you and Geoffrey have always done to treat him as your own son instead of mine? and is it not almost my chief happiness to feel assured that you always will do so? You know that is the reason I never thank you.”
Henrietta hung her head, and felt that she had been very unjust and ungrateful, more especially when her aunt said, “You thought it very hard to have your mouth stopped, Henrietta, my dear, and I was sorry for it, but I had not much time to be polite.”
“I am sorry I was in the way,” said she, an acknowledgment such as she had seldom made.
Fred awoke the next morning much better, though greatly fallen back in his progress towards recovery, but his mother had during the night the worst fit of spasms from which she had ever suffered.
But Henrietta thought it all so well accounted for by all the agitations of the evening before, that there was no reason for further anxiety.
It was a comfort to Aunt Geoffrey, who took it rather more seriously, that she received that morning a letter from her husband, concluding,
“As to the Queen Bee, I have no doubt that you can judge of her frame better from the tone of her letters than from anything I have to tell. I think her essentially improved and improving, and you will think I do not speak without warrant, when I tell you that Lady Susan expressed herself quite warmly respecting her this morning. She continues to imagine that she has the charge of Queen Bee, and not Queen Bee of her, and I think it much that she has been allowed to continue in the belief. Lady Amelia comes to-morrow, and then I hope the poor little woman’s penance may be over, for though she makes no complaints, there is no doubt that it is a heavy one, as her thorough enjoyment of a book, and an hour’s freedom from that little gossiping flow of plaintive talk sufficiently testify.”