When I arrive at Mr. Steele’s house, he isn’t home. Mr. Steele has a substantial house with four stories and two courtyards. I climb the steps to the porch. The durwan meets me at the door, escorts me to Mr. Steele’s nicely appointed drawing room, and tells me to wait for the doctor. When I ask after Mr. Hastie, the durwan moves his head to the side and departs. One of the ayahs, a maidservant, brings a silver tea service into the room.
“How is the sahib?” I ask. “Is he very ill?”
The girl looks at me, her dark eyes concerned. “They say his flux smells like fish, Mem. I hope we don’t get sick, Mem.”
“No one else will get sick.” I assure her. “We’ll do what the doctor tells us.”
“Yes, Mem.” The girl closes the door softly as she leaves the room. I don’t think she believes me.
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