Mr Cavell's Diamond
linen, sweeping and dusting till the house gleamed. Sultan whined to go out on the beach but I had no time to play, so as soon as he’d done his business I called him back inside, and he went and sulked by the fire in the kitchen.
    I ha d the meat cooked and the fires lit, and my clean cap on when the master arrived. I heard him first, coughing and groaning as he almost fell in through the door. He told the cab man to put his box down in the hall, then he went in the drawing room and collapsed on a sofa. I poured him a brandy.
    ‘ Thank you, Jemima,’ he said. ‘That will...’ He broke off to cough again, and I fetched a cushion to tuck behind his head. ‘Dinner smells delicious,’ he said when the coughing stopped, ‘but I fear I will not be able to eat much. Bring me a small plate of food to me here, will you? I’ll not use the dining room tonight.’
    ‘ Yes sir,’ I said, and curtseyed. I added a log to the fire and went to fetch his dinner. Sultan followed me back and was joyful to see his master again, jumping and barking and wanting to lick Mr Cavell’s face. I had to calm him down as I could see the master didn’t want to be bothered much by his dog now, though he did scratch him behind his ears for a moment.
    The master only ate a bite or two of his dinner, and then he wanted me to help him upstairs and into his bed. I agreed it was the best place for him, poor soul, his cough is one that could rattle the dead. I was scared it might be the consumption and I asked should I fetch the doctor, but the master said no, he reckoned he’d recover now he was back at home and beside the sea.
    But late evening his cough g ot worse and the fever came. I sat at his side all night, putting cool cloths on his forehead and trying to drip water in his mouth. His night-clothes were drenched with sweat, and I didn’t know whether to open the window to cool the room or stoke up the fire to warm it. I felt more alone now in the house even though the master was here, than I ever did when it was just me and Sultan. I wanted to send for the doctor but there was no one to send for I dared not leave his side.
    When it became light, the master was sleeping more calmly. I pulled open a curtain and looked out – the sea was shiny and flat and the day was bright and cheerful like it didn’t know how sick my master was and how worried I was. I spied a boy on the street kicking a stone and I ran down to the front door and called to him to fetch the physician William Humble who lived at The Steyne. I told him to hurry and gave him two pennies for his trouble. He was about to run when I had another thought and told him to call on my Ma in Prospect Row first, and send her to me.
    The boy must have run like the wind for my Ma was with me in just a few minutes. She came straight up to see the patient.
    ‘ He must have air,’ she said, opening the window. ‘Keep the room cool. Feed him on boiled eggs and milk. Does he cough up blood?’
    ‘ No,’ I told her, ‘no blood.’
    ‘ Then we can hope it is not the consumption,’ she said. ‘Go and cook him some eggs for when he wakes, while I make him more comfortable.’
    I went downstairs, and had the eggs on to boil when Mr Humble arrived. He was an old man and wheezed so much as he climbed the stairs I feared I would soon have two patients to nurse. In Mr Cavell’s room he straightway closed the window and told me to build up the fire. ‘Keep the room warm at all times,’ he said, when he came back down. ‘Give him only water to drink. I will make up some medicine for him, but I fear it will only prolong his suffering, not end it.’
    He sigh ed loudly. ‘Your master has the consumption. You should write and call his wife back. She should be at his side at this time. I’ll return later with the medicine and my bill.’
    I g ot him his cloak and hat and he left the house, whistling. I didn’t like this doctor.
    When the door close d behind him my Ma scoffed at what the doctor

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