Abbildungen der Seite
[ocr errors]

surprised her by demanding the immediate presence of a medical man.

Lady Violet instantly issued instructions to this effect; and sent a message to her father to inform him of the happy change which had taken place in Mary's mind.

“My dear girl, of course he ought to have been sent for, long ago !” she exclaimed, quite sympathetically, in reply to a halfhesitating remark of Mary's about thinking it was best, as the pain was really very bad. “I really cannot imagine what induced you to believe you did not want him.”

“Oh, I hate a fuss,” replied Miss Dunstable, evasively. “My first instinct on all occasions is to avoid one if possible."

Lady Vi was nothing if she was not frank. Her extreme outspokenness had made her many an enemy.

“Fuss !” she exclaimed briskly. “And I should like to know how you avoided making a fuss on this occasion ? It was evident a doctor ought to have been sent for at once! You refused to see him if he came. You put Papa and me into a ferment, caused him in despair to wire off to Dunstable, and then say you hate a fuss.” Lady Vi laughed. “Never mind, Molly," she said in a softer tone, " you must not be teased to-day. You know I am just as sorry for you as ever I can be.”

The latter part of Lady Vi's speech was quite thrown away. Mary had looked up with a startled face when she heard the words “ wire," and "Dunstable," and with a mind half distraught was trying to realize what must be done next in this most unpleasant predicament.

“Do you mean to say that Lord Morescliffe has telegraphed to Papa ?” she exclaimed. “You surely cannot have allowed him to do that!”

" It really seemed the only thing to be done,” murmured Lady Vi, almost apologetically.

Only thing to be done!” repeated Mary aghast. • My dear Vi, you will have frightened both my father and Aunt Elizabeth out of their wits ! Run downstairs at once and see if this telegram has gone. If it has, send off another without a moment's delay to say that I have just seen a doctor and he says that there is next to nothing wrong."

“But we do not know yet that next to nothing is wrong, objected Lady Vi quietly. “Do not let us do anything in too

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

great a hurry. We had much better wait a few minutes and see what the doctor really does say about it."

In a state of frenzy Mary almost sprang off her bed. A violent twinge of pain rewarded her for her energy, and proved to her how impossible it was for her to move, and how very helpless she was.

What with pain, anxiety, and vexation, for the first time since her childhood Mary felt almost inclined to cry.

“Go!-go at once!” she exclaimed impetuously. “Do as I ask you, if you care for me at all. Send off a telegram to say that I am all right, and that, whatever he does, my father is not to dream of coming here. I do not want him, Vi! He must not come !"

Just at this moment Marie tapped at the door. The doctor had arrived.

"Now be sure you see to this, Vi!” continued Mary, with quickly rising excitement. Stop his coming here! I do not wish him to come!”

Murmuring something unintelligible, but of a soothing nature, Lady Violet bowed to the doctor, who had entered the room ; then she escaped, leaving Mary alone with him and Marie.

While this good gentleman examined Mary's foot, Lady Vi again sought Lord Morescliffe, and consulted him as to what had best be done. They both agreed that they must wait until they heard the doctor's verdict, and that their future course must depend entirely upon it. They had, both of them, begun to look upon Mary Dunstable as being a spoilt, unreasonable child, who was not fit to manage her own affairs, and who seemingly did not know her own mind.

Then came the verdict that they waited for. “ Miss Dunstable had given her ankle a very nasty sprain; she would have to keep perfectly quiet for some time to come, and Doctor Berry would send a sleeping draught which must be administered that evening, as Miss Dunstable was certain to suffer a good deal of pain, and her temperature was very high.”

And then Lady Vi and Lord Morescliffe agreed that they would send no further telegram to Dunstable—that Lord Leftbury certainly must come. The responsibilities of the case were more than they cared to undertake.

“ Has the telegram to my father gone?" were the first words which Mary uttered when Lady Vi returned to her room after the doctor's departure.

"Oh dear, yes !” replied that young lady coolly. “Ever so long ago."

After that Miss Dunstable's temperature began to run still higher. Meanwhile Lord Leftbury was well on his way to Delton Carr.



He was

NEARLY a fortnight had gone by since Lord Leftbury had been so hastily summoned to Delton Carr, and he was still there. Lord Morescliffe and Lady Vi had left on the previous day; they had been obliged to do so, as they were engaged to go elsewhere. They had been full of apologies for leaving, and had expressed great sorrow that Mary's recovery had been so slow, but they had gone, and Mary and her father were alone at Delton Carr. Lord Leftbury found life at “The Royal” just a little dull.

man who devoted his life to home interests, knew every yard of his vast estate by heart, and the exact value of every head of cattle on his home farm. At Dunstable he seldom knew what it was to have a spare half-hour, and could easily have found some congenial occupation for it, had such a calamity befallen him.

Here, at Delton Carr, he had absolutely nothing to do. He had given up hunting several years previously, for he was by no means so young as he once had been, and in his youth he had never been known to ride straight to hounds. So after he had read the morning papers, and sat for half-an-hour or more in Mary's room, the rest of the day hung rather heavily on poor Lord Leftbury's hands.

That at a place like Delton Carr he found any number of men he knew goes without saying ; but, as he told himself, he was growing old. For the most part, these men were comparatively young, and it had been their fathers who, in days gone by, had been his chosen friends. Now one may take a certain amount of interest in the sons of one's old friends, and they may be extremely polite to you (especially if you happen to be rich and a lord); but there the matter generally ends. One is apt to wish for one's old friends themselves, and to feel that life is not what it used to be; and, perhaps, one is sometimes rather inclined to see faults in the younger generation which one failed to notice in one's own.

Lord Leftbury was one of the kindest-hearted, best-natured of men, and it was not his way to see faults in any of his fellowcreatures, but somehow he felt out of place and out of spirits at Delton Carr, and found himself alternately wishing himself comfortably at home again, and looking regretfully back into the past.

When the Morescliffe party left, he could hardly be said to feel their loss. Morescliffe was a man he had never especially eit respected or liked, he was one of the world's butterflies, and could make himself remarkably pleasant and amusing ; but Lord Leftbury happened to know of one or two things that he had done, which, in spite of his good-nature, he could neither forget nor condone.

As to Lady Vi, Lord Leftbury had always particularly objected to his daughter's friendship with that young lady until now; and now, after that fortnight's further acquaintance with her at Delton Carr, he told himself that, although she was undeniably spoilt, and had done several outrageously fast things, he had been rather mistaken in Lady Vi. She had a few very strong points in her favour, had Lady Violet Desborough. She was truthful to a fault, strictly straightforward, and to save her life would not have done an underhand action or a mean thing. Lord Leftbury by no means fell in love with Lady Vi during their sojourn at Delton Carr; he hardly could be said to even like her, but when he said good-bye to her, he confessed to himself that she would do Mary no great harm, and that, since Mary liked her, in the future he would not interfere.

On receiving that telegram informing him of Mary's accident, he had been almost wild with anxiety until he had seen for himself that, although in great pain, she was in absolutely no danger. He had stayed on and on at Delton Carr, always patient and gentle and loving to his much loved child; and never once had he allowed her to suspect that he found it terribly dull there, and that life was almost unendurable to him when he had nothing to do. He would have stayed on there, just as uncomplainingly, for years, and never questioned whether or not Mary was being selfish in keeping him there, or whether, if she had wished it, she was not very well able to go home.

Lady Vi, several days before her departure, had arrived at the conclusion that there was nothing to prevent Mary's being taken home. That in an invalid carriage she could go straight to Dulstur, where the Dunstable carriage could meet her and convey her home in less than half an hour, and that it could all be done without her putting her foot to the ground, or suffering the least inconvenience.

She questioned Doctor Berry as to his opinion on the subject. Doctor Berry hemmed and hawed ; he had a very strong objection to giving his opinion either one way or the other, and he did not at all appreciate being questioned by this plain-spoken young lady, who always called a spade a spade, spoke in a quick, decided tone, and, in spite of his efforts to avoid her glance, would look all the time so straight into his eyes. Then, transfixed to the spot by that glance of hers, and hurried into giving a direct answer by her imperative tone, Doctor Berry told her that, although, of course, Miss Dunstable must not attempt to put her foot to the ground for some time to come, there could be no great harm done by her returning to Dunstable in the manner suggested by her ladyship.

Lady Vi had, upon hearing this, hurried off to Mary with what she believed would be received as joyful news, and her surprise had been great when her information was received by a confused, uneasy glance, and a decided lack of enthusiasm.

It had only been one of the many surprises which Lady Vi had lately been subject to. Mary's whole character seemed to have altered since her accident, and Lady Vi could not understand it at all.

"You are a tremendously good soul, Vi,” Mary had replied evasively. “And I know how sorry for me you are.

Of course it is an awful nuisance having to lie up like this, but I do not want to be laid up all the winter, and I mean to ride in our steeplechase in the spring. I believe I am learning to have a little sense in my old age, and I will not risk making myself

, worse for the sake of escaping from this lively place a few days too soon.”

It had been a seemingly sensible and practical reply. But it

« ZurückWeiter »