“I am warm again, I think I shall get out and go to bed.”
“Hmm, Edward I am not convinced. Look at the goose pimples covering your arms! I have asked Rettie to light the fire in our room to warm it for you.”
“I should be getting out now, the bath water is not as warm as it was.”
“As you wish, here, shall I walk with you to the bedroom?”
“No. There is no need. I got a little damp, I am by no means an invalid. It well and truly serves me right for being horrid to you.”
“Horrid to me? My goodness, I’m surprised that you could ever come out with such a thing. You are kind and so patient. I love you dearly.”
Edward sneezed twice, Lucinda handed him her lace handkerchief. “Oh Lord, it is as a feared, you have caught cold! If only you had had a bath sooner.”
“I only sneezed Lucinda, do not be alarmed.”
“Yes, well, that is how it often starts!”
“Don’t fret. Once I am in bed I will be fine and we can forget about this whole thing.”
Lucinda assisted Edward into bed, covering him with the coverlet.
“You are a little warm, perhaps it was the bath.”
“Now then dear, I think that you need rest. I shall sleep in one of the guest bedrooms and I will ensure that Miss Douglas is doing her job properly.”
“She always does.”
“How would you know?”
“You heard for yourself! The twins could barely read before their lessons began and now look at them!”
“That is true. I shall leave you in peace, get some sleep and you’ll soon be as right as rain.”
Edward nodded, rolling onto his side. Lucinda turned off the light, closing the door behind him, to catch Miss Douglas scurrying along the corridor.
“Wait a moment there Miss Douglas! What precisely were you doing?”
“Ma’am, I was just wondering how the Master was.”
“It is none of your business really, but if you must know, he is resting in bed at present.”
“You ought to call for the doctor. You can never been too sure of these things, sometimes a little cold can turn into a bad chest infection, or worse; Pneumonia. ”
“He has refused to see a doctor.”
“Well, personally, I would go against his wishes. What if something were to happen?”
“Mr Ashdown can be very stubborn. You may go Miss Douglas.”
“Yes Ma’am, you know best.”
Miss Douglas lay fully dressed on top of her coverlet, gazing at the shadows dancing upon the ceiling, waiting. With care, she tiptoed along the corridor and into Edwards bedroom. It was as she had imagined. He slept fitfully, the beads of sweat etched across his pale brow. She shook him.
“Sir?” He did not wake. She supported his cold, clammy wrist in her hand, taking his racing pulse.
“Can you hear me sir?” He stirred a little, she placed his arm under the coverlet. She gazed at the empty space next to him in the bed. Where was Mrs Ashdown? She raced to the servant’s quarters, tapping on Johnson’s door. Momentarily, it creaked open.
“Good heavens! What is going on, fancy waking me at this hour! You are the new Governess I believe?”
“Y-yes. Something is the matter with the Master, you must fetch the doctor immediately. He is feverish and I cannot wake him.”
“Good Lord. I must see for myself and then I shall go.” Mr Johnson shuffled out of his room, wearing in his night attire and pushed open his bedroom door.
“Heavens! He is in a bad way. Tell me where is the Mrs Ashdown?”
“I-I don’t know, she must be sleeping in another room. I would not have left him alone.”
“Well, we must find her immediately, I know that Mrs Ashdown would want to be at her husband’s side. I will try the guest bedrooms and you must stay here.”
“Yes Mr Johnson.”
She dipped a cloth in water and mopped his brow. Slowly he opened his eyes. “Thank you.” He whispered, closing them again.
“It is my pleasure sir. I am very relieved that I found you. I fear that you are quite ill, but do not worry, help is on its way.”
To be continued…