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Angelina was about to run for Mrs. Belmont immediately, but decided to wait around a while and see if the man required any immediate help. Therefore she sat on cautiously as he quietly looked about the room. He seemed to be debating on what to say; or maybe he simply did not know what to say. After all, she reasoned, he has just woken up in a strange room, when his last memory must be of wandering on the Tor or something; a little bafflement is certainly called for. His eyes took in the entire room before settling on her sitting angled away slightly from the bed. His eyes widened and his mouth opened to say something.
What came out was a croak.
Angelina was a thread away from bursting into laughter – the look of startled apprehension on his face on hearing the foreign sound escaping his mouth was really hilarious. It was only her strong sense of empathy which prohibited her from making fun of the poor fellow, and she immediately got up to retrieve the pitcher of water and a clean glass from the bed-side table. She held out the filled glass tentatively to the patient and watched while he struggled to raise himself in bed as a prelude to drinking the water. The blow must have been hard indeed, to have incapacitated a strong man thus.
She shook her head on witnessing his frustrated struggle and, after a short second’s pause, firmly grasped his arm and assisted him into a more comfortable pose, putting a few pillows behind his back for additional support. Her posture was confident, but her cheeks were flaming red all the same; whatever she told Tommy and Susie, the unseemliness of the situation was striking her sensibilities forcefully; and it certainly felt more improper than ever now that he was awake and apparently in control of his senses. Feeling his bands of muscles flexing under my palms is certainly different from assisting an inanimate dead weight, was the wayward thought uppermost in her mind at this point.
But she could never back out of giving help where it was required, so she thought no more of it and just worked on.
Once the man was settled comfortably and had started swallowing the water, Angelina gathered herself and said quietly, “I am glad to see you alert at last, Sir. I will just go and call for my housekeeper; she would like to know that her patient has awakened.” She had hoped that using ‘Sir’ would prompt him to give her his name or proper designation; but when no correction was forthcoming, she shrugged mentally, made a small curtsey and crossed the room towards the exit with alacrity. His intent looks were seriously starting to unnerve her.
He had been staring constantly at her face quizzically all the time he sipped on slowly, as if her features contained the answer to some puzzle.
She turned around at the door, a new idea striking her mind. Maybe he was looking at her because he needed some further assistance from her, and was unsure about asking. In that case, she should give him an opening. “Sir, I hope you are feeling comfortable? Does your head hurt too much?”
The man seemed to shake off his temporary daze. His eyes crinkled up, and an impish smile bloomed on his face. It suits him all too well, Angelina thought ruefully.
“If I wanted to give a pretty answer, I would say that I am feeling fine, thank you, and no headache has the potential to hurt me in the presence of so much beauty. But if I were to tell the truth, I am extremely uncomfortable and my head pounds like mad. My body is acting ridiculously weak and I don’t have the least idea how I arrived here, wherever ‘here’ might be. I feel afraid as I don’t know where I am.” He shrugged as if it was of no importance. “You can keep whichever description takes your fancy; I am not very particular.”
“Oh,” Angelina felt unable to reply adequately. This man did not speak or think in a predictable manner…but he certainly was entertaining. “Um, I believe I will file away the truthful answer for the present situation as we need to know about your medical progress, but I will hold you to the first version whenever I am in need of flattery. You have nothing to fear from your location; you are currently at Brooklyn Grange, which is my house. I found you on the hillside in an insensible position, so I brought you back here to improve under my housekeeper, Mrs. Belmont’s magic touch.” Her teasing tone changed and she continued in a softened voice, “I’m sorry to hear about your pain, however. It is expected, but unwelcome news all the same. I will ask Mrs. Belmont to bring back something for your aches when she comes to see you.”