Jo's Boys HTML version

A most unprofessional quiver got into Nan’s voice as she spoke, and her
keen eyes dimmed as she looked at the two anxious young faces turned
so confidingly to her for help.
‘I know, burn it; well, do it, please; I can bear it. But Ted better go away,’
said Rob, with a firm setting of his lips, and a nod at his afflicted brother.
‘I won’t stir; I can stand it if he can, only it ought to be me!’ cried Ted, with
a desperate effort not to cry, so full of grief and fear and shame was he
that it seemed as if he couldn’t bear it like a man.
‘He’d better stay and help; do him good,’ answered Nan sternly, because,
her heart was faint within her, knowing as she did all that might be in store
for both poor boys. ‘Keep quiet; I’ll be back in a minute,’ she added, going
towards the house, while her quick mind hastily planned what was best to
be done.
It was ironing day, and a hot fire still burned in the empty kitchen, for the
maids were upstairs resting. Nan put a slender poker to heat, and as she
sat waiting for it, covered her face with her hands, asking help in this
sudden need for strength, courage, and wisdom; for there was no one else
to call upon, and young as she was, she knew what was to be done if she
only had the nerve to do it. Any other patient would have been calmly
interesting, but dear, good Robin, his father’s pride, his mother’s comfort,
everyone’s favourite and friend, that he should be in danger was very
terrible; and a few hot tears dropped on the well-scoured table as Nan
tried to calm her trouble by remembering how very likely it was to be all a
mistake, a natural but vain alarm.
‘I must make light of it, or the boys will break down, and then there will be
a panic. Why afflict and frighten everyone when all is in doubt? I won’t. I’ll
take Rob to Dr Morrison at once, and have the dog man see Don. Then,
having done all we can, we will either laugh at our scare—if it is one—or
be ready for whatever comes. Now for my poor boy.’
Armed with the red-hot poker, a pitcher of ice-water, and several
handkerchiefs from the clotheshorse, Nan went back to the barn ready to
do her best in this her most serious ‘emergency case’. The boys sat like
statues, one of despair, the other of resignation; and it took all Nan’s
boasted nerve to do her work quickly and well.