Chapter XXXII

Madeleine awoke from a heavy drugged sleep and reached out her hand automatically for the drawer of her commode. It fumbled in the air for a moment and then she raised herself on her elbow. She glanced about the room. It was not her own.

She sprang out of bed. A key turned and Sally Abbott entered.

"What does this mean?" cried Madeleine. "What are you doing here, Sally? Why did Howard move me into another room?"

"He didn't. You are over at my house. He thought the country would be good for you for a while and I was simply dying to have you--"

"Where are my clothes? I am going back to the city at once."

"Now, Madeleine, dear." Sally put her arm round the tall form which was as rigid as steel in her embrace. But she was a valiant little person and strong with health and much life in the open. "You are going to stay with me until--until--you are better."

"I'll not. I must get back. At once! You don't understand--"

"Yes, I do. And I've something for you." She took a flask from the capacious pocket of her black silk apron and poured brandy into a glass.

Madeleine drank it, then sank heavily into a chair.

"That is more than he has been giving me," she said suspiciously. "How often did he tell you to give me that?"

"Four times a day."

"He's found out! He's found out!"

"That chambermaid blabbed, and of course he heard it. I--I--saw him just after. He felt so terribly, Madeleine dear! Your heart would have ached for him. And when I asked him to let you come over here he seemed to brighten up, and said it was the best thing to do."

Madeleine burst into tears, the first she had shed in many months. "Poor Howard! Poor Howard! But it will do no good."

"Oh, yes, it will. Now, let me help you dress. Or would you rather stay in bed today?"

"I'll dress. And I'm not going to stay, Sally. I give you fair warning."

"Oh, but you are. I've locked up your outdoor things--and my own! I'll only let you have them when we go out together."

"So you have turned yourself into my jailer?"

"Yes, I have. And don't try to look like an outraged empress until your stays are covered up. Put on your dress and we'll have a game of battledore and shuttlecock in the hall. It's raining. Then we'll have some music this afternoon. My alto used to go beautifully with your soprano, and I'll get out our duets. I haven't forgotten one of the accompaniments--What are you doing?"

Madeleine was undressing rapidly. "I haven't had my bath. I seldom forget that, even--where is the bath room? I forget."

"Across the hall. And leave your clothes here. Although you'd break your bones if you tried to jump out of the window. When you've finished I'll have a cup of strong coffee ready for you. Run along."