protect Quentyn, and that meant keeping him by the big
He had been in the kitchen, demanding of Hannah, "Whose is all that baggage in the hall?" and Hannah, glad of an opportunity to "free her mind," had answered, "Some low-lived truck or other that they called 'Janet,' and a body'd s'pose she owned the house, the way she went on, splittin' up yer board for kindlin', makin' missus' toast swim in butter, and a-bilin' three of them eggs you laid away to sell. If she stays here, this nigger won't--that's my 'pinion," and feeling greatly injured she left the kitchen, while Dr. Kennedy, with a dark, moody look upon his face, started for the sick-room.
He knew very well who his visitor was, and when his wife said, "Husband, this is my faithful Janet, or rather Mrs. Blodgett now. Wasn't it kind in her to come so far to see me?" he merely nodded coolly to Mrs. Blodgett, who nodded as coolly in return; then, turning to his wife, he said, "You seem excited, my dear, and this ought not to be. 'Tis a maxim of mine that company is injurious to sick people. What do you think, Mrs. Blodgett?"
Mrs. Blodgett didn't think anything save that he was a most disagreeable man, and as she could not say this in his presence, she made no particular answer. Glancing toward the empty plate which stood upon the table, he continued, "Hannah tells me, my dear, that you have eaten three boiled eggs. I wonder at your want of discretion, when you know how indigestible they are," and his eye rested reprovingly on Janet, who now found her tongue, and starting up, exclaimed, "One biled egg won't hurt anybody's digester, if it's ever so much out of kilter--but the jade lied. Two of them eggs I cooked for myself, and I'll warrant she's guzzled 'em down before this. Anyway, I'll go and see," and she arose to leave the room.
Just as she reached the door the doctor called after her, saying, "Mrs. Blodgett, I observed a trunk or two in the lower hall, which I presume are yours. Will you have them left there, or shall I bring them up to your chamber? You will stay all night with us, of course!"
For an instant Janet's face was crimson, but forcing down her wrath for Matty's sake, she answered, "I shall probably stay as long as that," and slamming together the door she went downstairs, while Matty said sadly, "Oh, husband, how could you thus insult her when you knew she had come to stay a while at least, and that her presence would do me so much good?"
"How should I know she had come to stay, when I've heard nothing about it," was the doctor's reply; and then in no mild terms he gave his opinion of the lady--said opinion being based on what old Hannah had told him.
There were tears in Matty's eyes, and they dropped from her long eye-lashes as, taking the doctor's hand, she said: "Husband, you know that I'm going to die--that ere the snow is falling you will be a second time alone. And you surely will not refuse me when I ask that Janet shall stay until the last. When I am gone you will, perhaps, be happier in the remembrance that you granted me one request."
There was something in the tone of her voice far more convincing than her words, and when she added, "She does not expect wages, for she has money of her own," Dr. Kennedy yielded the point, prophesying the while that there would be trouble with Hannah.
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