The Evil Genius
15. The Doctor
As the year advanced, the servants at Mount Morven remarked that the weeks seeme d to
follow each other more slowly than usual. In the higher regions of the house, the same
impression was prevalent; but the sense of dullness among the gentlefolks submitted to
circumstances in silence.
If the question had been asked in past days: Who is the brightest and happiest member of
the family? everybody would have said: Kitty. If the question had been asked at the
present time, differences of opinion might have suggested different answers--but the
whole household would have refrained without hesitation from mentioning the child's
Since Sydney Westerfield's departure Kitty had never held up her head.
Time quieted the child's first vehement outbreak of distress under the loss of the
companion whom she had so dearly loved. Delicate management, gently yet resolutely
applied, held the faithful little creature in check, when she tried to discover the cause of
her governess's banishment from the house. She made no more complaints; she asked no
more embarrassing questions--but it was miserably plain to everybody about her that she
failed to recover her spirits. She was willing to learn her lessons (but not under another
governess) when her mother was able to attend to her: she played with her toys, and went
out riding on her pony. But the delightful gayety of other days was gone; the shrill
laughter that once rang through the house was heard no more. Kitty had become a quiet
child; and, worse still, a child who seemed to be easily tired.
The doctor was consulted.
He was a man skilled in the sound medical practice that learns its lessons without books--
bedside practice. His opinion declared that the child's vital power was seriously lowered.
"Some cause is at work here," he said to the mother, "which I don't understand. Can you
help me?" Mrs. Linley helped him without hesitation. "My little daughter dearly loved
her governess; and her governess has been obliged to leave us." That was her reply. The
doctor wanted to hear no more; he at once advised that Kitty should be taken to the
seaside, and that everything which might remind her of the absent friend--books,
presents, even articles of clothing likely to revive old associations--should be left at
home. A new life, in new air. When pen, ink, and paper were offered to him, that was the
Mrs. Linley consulted her husband on the choice of the seaside place to which the child
should be removed.
The blank which Sydney's departure left in the life of the household was felt by the
master and mistress of Mount Morven--and felt, unhappily, without any open avowal on
either side of what was passing in their minds. In this way the governess became a