Bound to Rise/Chapter XXX
On the morning after receiving the letter from his father, Harry came down to breakfast, but looked in vain for the professor. Supposing he would be down directly, he sat down to the breakfast table. When he had nearly finished eating, a boy employed about the hotel came to his side.
"That gentleman you're with is sick. He wants you to come to his room as soon as you are through breakfast."
Harry did not wait to finish, but got up from the table at once, and went up to his employer's room.
"Are you sick, sir?" he inquired, anxiously.
The professor's face was flushed, and he was tossing about in bed.
"Yes," he answered. "I am afraid I am threatened with a fever."
"I hope not, sir."
"I am subject to fevers; but I hope I might not have another for some time to come. I must have caught cold yesterday, and the result is, that I am sick this morning."
"What can I do for you, sir?"
"I should like to have you go for the doctor. Inquire of the landlord who is the best in the village."
"I will go at once."
On inquiry, our hero was informed that Dr. Parker was the most trusted physician in the neighborhood, and he proceeded to his house at once. The doctor was, fortunately, still at home, and answered the summons immediately. He felt the sick man's pulse, asked him a variety of questions, and finally announced his opinion.
"You are about to have a fever," he said, "if, indeed, the fever has not already set in."
"A serious fever, doctor?" asked the sick man, anxiously.
"I cannot yet determine."
"Do you think I shall be long sick?"
"That, also, is uncertain. I suppose you will be likely to be detained here a fortnight, at least."
"I wish I could go home."
"It would not be safe for you to travel, under present circumstances."
"If I were at home, I could be under my wife's care."
"Can't she come here?"
"She has three young children. It would be difficult for her to leave them."
"Who is the boy that called at my house?"
"Harry Walton. He is my assistant--takes money at the door, and helps me other ways."
"Is he trustworthy?"
"I have always found him so."
"Why can't he, attend upon you?"
"I mean to retain him with me--that is, if he will stay. It will be dull work for a boy of his age."
"You can obtain a nurse, besides, if needful."
"You had better engage one for me, as I cannot confine him here all the time."
"I will do so. I know of one, skillful and experienced, who is just now at leisure. I will send her round here this morning."
"What is her name?"
"Not a very romantic one--Betsy Chase."
"I suppose that doesn't prevent her being a good nurse," said the professor, smiling.
"Not at all."
Here Harry entered the room.
"Harry," said the professor, the doctor tells me I am going to be sick."
"I am very sorry, sir," said our hero, with an air of concern.
"I shall probably be detained here at least a fortnight. Are you willing to remain with me?"
"Certainly, sir. I should not think of leaving you, sick and alone, if you desired me to stay. I hope I can make myself useful to you."
"You can. I shall need you to do errands for me, and to sit with me a part of the time."
"I shall be very willing to do so, sir."
"You will probably find it dull."
"Not so dull as you will find it, sir. The time must seem very long to you, lying on that bed."
"I suppose it will; but that can't be helped."
"A nurse will be here this afternoon," said the doctor.
"Until she comes, you will be in attendance here."
"I will direct you what to do, and how often to administer the medicines. Can remember?"
"Yes, sir, I shall not forget."
Dr. Parker here gave Harry minute instructions, which need not be repeated, since they were altogether of a professional nature.
After the doctor was gone, Professor Henderson said:
"As soon as the nurse comes, I shall want you to ride over to the next town, Carmansville, and countermand the notices for an exhibition to-night. I shall not be able to give entertainments for some time to come. Indeed, I am not sure but I must wait till next season."
"How shall I go over?" asked Harry.
"You may get a horse and buggy at the stable, and drive over there. If I remember rightly, it is between little seven and eight miles. The road is a little winding, but I think you won't lose your way."
"Oh, I'll find it," said Harry, confidently.
It was not till three o'clock that the nurse made her appearance, and it was past three before Harry started on his way.
"You need not hurry home," said the professor. "In fact, you had better take supper at the hotel in Carmansville, as you probably could not very well get back here till eight o'clock."
"Very well, sir," said Harry. "But shan't you need me?"
"No; Miss Chase will attend to me."
"Mrs. Chase, if you please," said the nurse. "I've been a widder for twenty years."
"I beg your pardon, Mrs. Chase," said the sick man smiling.
"When my husband was alive, I never expected to go out nursin'; but I've had come to it."
"The doctor says you are a very skillful and experienced nurse."
"I'd ought to be. I've nussed people in almost all sorts of diseases, from measles to smallpox. You needn't be frightened, sir; I haven't had any smallpox case lately. Isn't it most time to take your medicine?"
Harry left the room, and was soon on his way to Carmansville. Once he got off the road, which was rather a perplexing one, but he soon found it again. However, it was half past five before he reached the village, and nearly an hour later before he had done the errand which brought him over. Finally, he came back to the tavern, and being by this time hungry, went in at once to the tavern, and being by this time hungry, went in at once to supper. He did full justice to the meal which was set before him. The day was cold, and his ride had stimulated his appetite.
When he sat down to the table he was alone; but a minute afterward a small, dark-complexioned man, with heavy black whiskers, came in, and sat down beside him. He had a heavy look, and a forbidding expression; but our hero was too busy to take particular notice of him till the latter commenced a conversation.
"It's a pretty cold day," he remarked.
"Very cold," said Harry. "I am dreading my ride back to Pentland."
"Are you going to Pentland to-night?" asked the stranger, with interest.
"Do you live over there?"
"No; I am there for a short time only," Harry replied.
"You seem rather young to be in business," said the stranger.
"Oh," said Harry, smiling, "I am in the employ of Professor Henderson, the ventriloquist. I suppose it is hardly proper to say that I am in business."
"Professor Henderson! Why, he is going to give an entertainment here to-night, isn't he?"
"He was; but I have come over to countermand the notice."
"What is that for?"
"He is taken sick at Pentland, and won't be able to come."
"Oh, that's it. Well, I'm sorry, for I should like to have gone to hear him. So you are his assistant, are you?"
"Can you perform tricks, too?"
"I don't assist him in that way. I take money at the door, and help him with his apparatus."
"Have you been with him long?"
"Only a few weeks."
"So you are his treasurer, are you?" asked the stranger smiling.
"Ye--es," said Harry, slowly, for it brought to his mind that he had one hundred and fifty dollars of the professor's money in his pocket, besides the pocketbook containing his own. He intended to have left it with his employer, but in the hurry of leaving he had forgotten to do so. Now he was about to take a long ride in the evening with this large sum of money about him.
"However," he said, reassuring himself, "there is nothing to be afraid of. Country people are not robbers. Burglars stay in the cities. I have nothing to fear."
Still he prudently resolved, if compelled to be out late again, to leave his money at home.
He rose from table, followed by the stranger.
"Well," said the latter, "I must be going. How soon do you start?"
"In a few minutes."
"Well, good night."
"He seems inclined to be social," thought Harry, "but I don't fancy him much."