Emily showed him in and closed the door, then pulled the letter from her pocket, reading as she went to sit down.
I was hoping to have good news to tell you about tracking down Will. The countess has been very distracted, but she promised to write to her father and ask if he has any idea where Will might be. Em, I don’t think I realised how much you care for him . . .
Emily sighed. How long would it be before the countess heard back from her father? Her eyes began to sting with disappointment and homesickness. Suddenly her memory of Will was so vivid that she could almost feel him standing there beside her. She could hear his voice and feel his hands on her waist as he lifted her down from the cart.
And with that came a horrible certainty that she would never see him again. He was lost somewhere in this vast country, gone from her life for ever. How silly she’d been.
The door opened and Emily leaped from the chair, swallowing hard as she tried to gain composure. She heard the doctor’s footsteps coming toward her but she couldn’t turn and face him.
“It seems,” he said, a touch of amusement in his voice, “that our patient will live. I have some powders for you to give her – one dose in the morning . . .” He stopped, clearly aware that something was wrong. Emily took a ragged breath and turned.“And one in the evening,” he finished tactfully. “Forgive me, but I noticed that you’d received a letter. I hope there isn’t bad news.”
“Not really,” she said, her eyes cast down.
“It can’t be easy, being far away from home. My grandfather came to California to look for gold. He found some, not much, but enough to make him want to stay. So my grandmother came to join him. She used to tell me how it had felt to find herself far away from all she’d ever known, and never being sure what would happen next.” He paused. “It was a very brave thing for a young lady to do.”
Emily looked up. How kind he was to take time to talk to her.
“Can you guess where they hailed from?” he asked. “Scotland!”
Her eyes widened, and he smiled broadly. Then he glanced at his watch.
“I must go. I’ll call again in a few days, to check on Lady Florence.”
“Thank you, Doctor Campbell,” she said. “Lord and Lady Farrington will be most grateful.”
“Emily!” Florence’s reedy cry wafted out and the doctor’s mouth twitched.
“Gran would have set that one straight, the wee scunner!”
A little laugh escaped Emily, and he gave her a wave as he went off.