"Westcliff's residence is closer," Rohan said. "Miss Hathaway and her sisters are standing outside in the cold, dressed in little more than their nightgowns. Their brother needs to be seen by a doctor, and if I'm not mistaken, Merripen does, too. They're going to the manor."
Amelia frowned as his words sank in. "Why does Merripen need a doctor? Where is he?"
Rohan turned her in his arms to face the opposite direction. "Over there, beside your sisters."
She gasped at the sight of Merripen huddled on the ground. Win was with him, attempting to pull the thin fabric of his shirt away from his back. "Oh, no." Amelia pulled away from Rohan and sped toward her family. She heard Christopher Frost calling out her name, but she ignored the sound.
"What happened?" she asked, dropping to the damp ground beside Win. "Has Merripen been burned?"
"Yes, on his back." Win ripped a makeshift bandage from the hem of her own gown. "Beatrix, would you take this, please, and soak it in water?"
Without a word, Beatrix scampered to the trough at the handpump.
Win stroked Merripen's thick black hair as he rested his head on his forearms. His breath hissed unevenly through his teeth.
"Does it hurt, or is it numb?" Amelia asked.
"Hurts like the devil," he choked out.
"That's a good sign. A burn is much more serious if it's numb."
He turned his head to give her a speaking glance.
Win kept her hand on the nape of Merripen's neck as she spoke to Amelia. "He went too close to the eaves of the house. The heat from the fire caused the flashing on the shingles to melt and drip down. Some molten lead fell on his back." She glanced up as Beatrix returned with a dripping cloth. "Thank you, dear." Lifting Merripen's shirt, she laid the wet cloth over the burn, and he let out a pained growl. Losing all sense of pride or decorum, he let Win pillow his head on her lap while he shook uncontrollably.
Glancing at Leo, who was faring little better, Amelia realized Cam Rohan was right—she needed to take her family to the manor immediately, and send for a doctor.
She made no protest as Rohan and Captain Swansea came to load the assembled Hathaways into the carriage. Leo had to be lifted bodily into the vehicle, and Merripen, who was unsteady and disoriented, required help as well. Captain Swansea handled the ribbons deftly as he drove the family to Stony Cross Manor.
Upon their arrival, the Hathaways were greeted with considerable excitement and sympathy, servants running in all directions, houseguests volunteering extra clothes and personal items. Lady Westcliff and Lady St. Vincent took charge of the younger girls, while Amelia was dragged away by a pair of determined housemaids. It became clear they would not relent until she was bathed and fed and dressed.
An eternity had passed by the time the housemaids put Amelia into a fresh nightgown and a blue velvet robe. Another quarter hour crawled by as they painstakingly braided her damp hair into a neat plait behind each ear. When at last they were finished with her, Amelia thanked the maids and fled the guest room. She went to check on her siblings, starting with her brother.
A servant in the hallway directed her to Leo's room. The doctor, an elderly man with a neatly trimmed gray beard, was just leaving. He paused, bag in hand, as she asked about her brother's condition.
"All in all, Lord Ramsay is doing quite well," the doctor replied. "There is minor swelling of the throat—due to the smoke inhalation, of course—but it is mere tissue irritation rather than serious damage. His color is good, the heart is strong, and all signs are that he'll be good as new."
"Thank God. What about Merripen?"
"The Gypsy? His condition is a bit more worrisome. It's a nasty burn. But I've treated it and applied a honey dressing, which should keep the bandage from sticking as it heals. I will return tomorrow to check on his progress."
"Thank you. Sir, I don't wish to trouble you—I know the hour is late—but could you spare a moment to visit one of my sisters? She has weak lungs, and even though she wasn't exposed to the smoke, she was out in the night air?
"You're referring to Miss Winnifred."
"She was in the Gypsy's room. Apparently he shared your concern over your sister's health. Both of them were arguing quite strenuously over which one of them I should see first."
"Oh." A faint smile came to her lips. "Who won? Merripen, I suppose."
He smiled back at her. "No, Miss Hathaway. Your sister may have weak lungs, but she has no end of resolve." He bowed to her. "I wish you good evening. My sympathies on your misfortune."
Amelia nodded in thanks and went into Leo's room, where a lamp had been turned down low. He was lying on his side, eyes open, but he didn't spare her a glance as she approached. Sitting on the side of the mattress with care, she reached out and smoothed his matted hair.
His voice was a soft croak. "Have you come to finish me off?"
She smiled wryly. "You seem to be doing an excellent job of that all by yourself." Her hand shaped tenderly over his skull. "How did the fire start, dear?"
He looked at her then, his eyes so bloodshot they resembled two tiny coaching road maps. "I don't remember. I fell asleep. I didn't cause the fire on purpose. I hope you believe that."
"Yes." She leaned over and kissed his head as if he were a young boy. "Rest, Leo. Everything will be better in the morning."