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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesAladdin O'brien - Book 1 - Chapter 8
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Aladdin O'brien - Book 1 - Chapter 8 Post by :rjsexton1 Category :Long Stories Author :Gouverneur Morris Date :May 2012 Read :2706

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Aladdin O'brien - Book 1 - Chapter 8

BOOK I CHAPTER VIII

One day, during the morning session of school, Aladdin's head got so heavy that he could hardly see, and he felt hot all over. He spoke to the teacher and was allowed to go home. Mrs. Brackett, when she saw him enter the yard, was in great alarm, for she at once supposed that he had done something awful, which was not out of the question, and suffered expulsion.

"What have you done?" she said.

"Nothing," said Aladdin. "I think I'm going to be sick."

Mrs. Brackett tossed her hands heavenward.

"What is the matter?" she cried.

"I don't know," said Aladdin. She followed him into the house and up the stairs, which he climbed heavily.

"Where do you feel bad, 'Laddin O'Brien?" she said sharply.

"It's my head, ma'am," said Aladdin. He went into his room and lay face down on the bed, having first dropped his schoolbooks on the floor, and began to talk fluently of kings' daughters and genii and copper bottles.

The Widow Brackett was an active woman of action. Flat-footed and hatless, but with incredible speed, she dashed down the stairs, out of the house, and up the street. She returned in five minutes with the doctor.

The doctor said, "Fever." It was quite evident that it was fever; but a doctor's word for it put everything on a comfortable and satisfactory footing.

"We must get him to bed," said the doctor. He made the attempt alone, but Aladdin struggled, and the doctor was old. Mrs. Brackett came to the rescue and, finally, they got Aladdin, no longer violent, into his bed, while the doctor, in a soft voice, said what maybe it was and what maybe it wasn't,--he leaned to a bilious fever,--and prescribed this and that as sovereign in any case. They darkened the room, and Aladdin was sick with typhoid fever for many weeks. He was delirious much too much, and Mrs. Brackett got thin with watching. Occasionally it seemed as if he might possibly live, but oftenest as if he would surely die.

In his delirium for the most part Aladdin dwelt upon Margaret, so that his love for her was an old story to Mrs. Brackett. One gay spring morning, after a terrible night, Aladdin's fever cooled a little, and he was able to talk in whispers.

"Mrs. Brackett," he said, "Mrs. Brackett."

She came hurriedly to the bed.

"I know you're feelin' better, 'Laddin O'Brien."

He smiled up at her.

"Mrs. Brackett," he said, "I dreamed that Margaret St. John came here to ask how I was--did she?"

Margaret hadn't. She had not, so hedged was her life, even heard that Aladdin lay sick.

Mrs. Brackett lied nobly.

"She was here yesterday," she said, "and that anxious to know all about you."

Aladdin looked like one that had found peace.

"Thank you," he said.

Mrs. Brackett raised his head, pillow and all, very gently, and gave him his medicine.

"How's Jack?" said Aladdin.

"He comes twice every day to ask about you," said Mrs. Brackett. "He's livin' with my brother-in-law."

"That's good," said Aladdin. He lay back and dozed. After a while he opened his eyes.

"Mrs. Brackett-"

"What is it, deary?" The good woman had been herself on the point of dozing, but was instantly alert.

"Am I going to die?"

"You goin' to die!" She tried to make her voice indignant, but it broke.

"I want to know."

"He wants to know, good land!" exclaimed Mrs. Brackett.

"If a man's going to die," said Aladdin, aeat-sixteen, "he wants to know, because he has things that have to be done."

"Doctor said you wasn't to talk much," said Mrs. Brackett.

"If I've got to die," said Aladdin, abruptly, "I've got to see Margaret."

A woman in a blue wrapper, muddy slippers, her gray hair disheveled, hatless, her eyes bright and wild, burst suddenly upon Hannibal St. John where he sat in his library reading in the book called "Hesperides."

"Senator St. John," she began rapidly, "Aladdin O'Brien's sick in my house, and the last thing he said was, 'I've got to see Margaret'; and he's dyin' wantin' to see her, and I've come for her, and she's got to come."

It was a tribute to St. John's genius that in spite of her incoherent utterance he understood precisely what the woman was driving at.

"You say he's dying?" he said.

"Doctor's given up hope. He's had a relapse since this mornin', and she's got to come right now if she's to see him at all."

The senator hesitated for once.

"It's got nothin' to do with the proprieties," said Mrs. Brackett, sternly, "nor what he was to her, nor her to him; it's a plain case of humanity and--"

"What is the nature of the sickness?" asked the senator.

"It's fever--"

"Is it contagious?" asked the senator.

"No, it ain't!" almost shrieked the old lady. "And what if it was?"

"Of course if it were contagious she couldn't go," said the senator.

"It ain't contagious, and, what's more, he once laid down his life for her on the log, that time."

"If you assure me the fever is not contagious--"

"You'll let her come--"

"It seems nonsense," said the senator. "They are only children, and I don't want her to get silly ideas."

"Only children!" exclaimed Mrs. Brackett. "Senator, give me the troubles of the grown-ups, childbirth, and losing the first-born with none to follow, the losing of husband and mother, and the approach of old age,--give me them and I'll bear them, but spare me the sorrows and trials of little children which we grown-ups ain't strong enough to bear. You can say I said so," she finished defiantly.

The senator bowed in agreement.

"I believe you are right," he said. "I will take you home in my carriage, Mrs.--"

"Brackett," said she, with pride.

The senator stepped into the hall and raised his voice the least trifle.

"Daughter!"

She answered from several rooms away, and came running. Her hands were inky, and she held a letter. She was no longer the timid little girl of the island, for somehow that escapade had emancipated her. She had waited for a few days in expectation of damnation, but, that failing to materialize, had turned over a leaf in her character, and became such a bully at home that the family and servants loved her more and more from day to day. She was fourteen at this time; altogether exquisite and charming and wayward.

"Aladdin O'Brien is very sick, daughter," said the senator, "and we are going to see him."

"And don't tell him that you didn't come to ask after him yesterday," said Mrs. Brackett, defiantly, "because I said you did. I had my reasons," she went on, "and you can say I said so."

Margaret ran up-stairs to get her hat. She was almost wild with excitement and foreboding of she knew not what.

The letter which she had been writing fell from her hand. She picked it up, looked hastily at the superscription, "Mr. Peter Manners, Jr.," and tore it into pieces.

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BOOK I CHAPTER IXThere is no doubt that Aladdin's recovery dated from Margaret's visit. The poor boy was too sick to say what he had planned, but Margaret sat by his bed for a while and held his hand, and said little abrupt conventional things that meant much more to them both, and that was enough. Besides, and under the guns of her father's eyes, just before she went away she stooped and kissed him on the forehead, and that was more than enough to make anybody get over anything, Aladdin thought. So he slept a long cool sleep after Margaret
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BOOK I CHAPTER VMeanwhile to Aladdin and his log divers things had occurred, but the wonderful lamp, burning low or high at the will of the river, had not gone out. Sliding through the smoking fog at three miles an hour, kicking and paddling, all had gone well for a while. Then, for he was more keen than Margaret to note the fog's promise to lift, at the very moment when the shores began to appear and mark his course as favorable, at the very moment when the sun struck one end of the log, an eddy of the current struck
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