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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesDr. Sevier - Chapter 19. Another Patient
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Dr. Sevier - Chapter 19. Another Patient Post by :Benjamin_Scott Category :Long Stories Author :George Washington Cable Date :May 2012 Read :1826

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Dr. Sevier - Chapter 19. Another Patient

CHAPTER XIX. ANOTHER PATIENT

"Doctah Seveeah," said Narcisse, suddenly, as he finished sticking with great fervor the postage-stamps on some letters the Doctor had written, and having studied with much care the phraseology of what he had to say, and screwed up his courage to the pitch of utterance, "I saw yo' notiz on the noozpapeh this mornin'."

The unresponding Doctor closed his eyes in unutterable weariness of the innocent young gentleman's prepared speeches.

"Yesseh. 'Tis a beaucheouz notiz. I fine that w'itten with the gweatez ac_cu_'acy of diction, in fact. I made a twanslation of that faw my hant. Thaz a thing I am fon' of, twanslation. I dunno 'ow 'tis, Doctah," he continued, preparing to go out,--"I dunno 'ow 'tis, but I thing, you goin' to fine that Mistoo Itchlin ad the en'. I dunno 'ow 'tis. Well, I'm goin' ad the"--

The Doctor looked up fiercely.

"Bank," said Narcisse, getting near the door.

"All right!" grumbled the Doctor, more politely.

"Yesseh--befo' I go ad the poss-office."

A great many other persons had seen the advertisement. There were many among them who wondered if Mr. John Richling could be such a fool as to fall into that trap. There were others--some of them women, alas!--who wondered how it was that nobody advertised for information concerning them, and who wished, yes, "wished to God," that such a one, or such a one, who had had his money-bags locked up long enough, would die, and then you'd see who'd be advertised for. Some idlers looked in vain into the city directory to see if Mr. John Richling were mentioned there. But Richling himself did not see the paper. His employers, or some fellow-clerk, might have pointed it out to him, but--we shall see in a moment.

Time passed. It always does. At length, one morning, as Dr. Sevier lay on his office lounge, fatigued after his attentions to callers, and much enervated by the prolonged summer heat, there entered a small female form, closely veiled. He rose to a sitting posture.

"Good-morning, Doctor," said a voice, hurriedly, behind the veil. "Doctor," it continued, choking,--"Doctor"--

"Why, Mrs. Richling!"

He sprang and gave her a chair. She sank into it.

"Doctor,--O Doctor! John is in the Charity Hospital!"

She buried her face in her handkerchief and sobbed aloud. The Doctor was silent a moment, and then asked:--

"What's the matter with him?"

"Chills."

It seemed as though she must break down again, but the Doctor stopped her savagely.

"Well, my dear madam, don't cry! Come, now, you're making too much of a small matter. Why, what are chills? We'll break them in forty-eight hours. He'll have the best of care. You needn't cry! Certainly this isn't as bad as when you were there."

She was still, but shook her head. She couldn't agree to that.

"Doctor, will you attend him?"

"Mine is a female ward."

"I know; but"--

"Oh--if you wish it--certainly; of course I will. But now, where have you moved, Mrs. Richling? I sent"-- He looked up over his desk toward that of Narcisse.

The Creole had been neither deaf nor idle. Hospital? Then those children in Prieur street had told him right. He softly changed his coat and shoes. As the physician looked over the top of the desk Narcisse's silent form, just here at the left, but out of the range of vision, passed through the door and went downstairs with the noiselessness of a moonbeam.

Mary explained the location and arrangement of her residence.

"Yes," she said, "that's the way your clerk must have overlooked us. We live behind--down the alleyway."

"Well, at any rate, madam," said the Doctor, "you are here now, and before you go I want to"-- He drew out his pocket-book.

There was a quick gesture of remonstrance and a look of pleading.

"No, no, Doctor, please don't! please don't! Give my poor husband one more chance; don't make me take that. I don't refuse it for pride's sake!"

"I don't know about that," he replied; "why do you do it?"

"For his sake, Doctor. I know just as well what he'd say--we've no right to take it anyhow. We don't know when we could pay it back." Her head sank. She wiped a tear from her hand.

"Why, I don't care if you never pay it back!" The Doctor reddened angrily.

Mary raised her veil.

"Doctor,"--a smile played on her lips,--"I want to say one thing." She was a little care-worn and grief-worn; and yet, Narcisse, you should have seen her; you would not have slipped out.

"Say on, madam," responded the Doctor.

"If we have to ask anybody, Doctor, it will be you. John had another situation, but lost it by his chills. He'll get another. I'm sure he will." A long, broken sigh caught her unawares. Dr. Sevier thrust his pocket-book back into its place, compressing his lips and giving his head an unpersuaded jerk. And yet, was she not right, according to all his preaching? He asked himself that. "Why didn't your husband come to see me, as I requested him to do, Mrs. Richling?"

She explained John's being turned away from the door during the Doctor's illness. "But anyhow, Doctor, John has always been a little afraid of you."

The Doctor's face did not respond to her smile.

"Why, you are not," he said.

"No." Her eyes sparkled, but their softer light quickly returned. She smiled and said:--

"I will ask a favor of you now, Doctor."

They had risen, and she stood leaning sidewise against his low desk and looking up into his face.

"Can you get me some sewing? John says I may take some."

The Doctor was about to order two dozen shirts instanter, but common sense checked him, and he only said:--

"I will. I will find you some. And I shall see your husband within an hour. Good-by." She reached the door. "God bless you!" he added.

"What, sir?" she asked, looking back.

But the Doctor was reading.

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CHAPTER XX. ALICEA little medicine skilfully prescribed, the proper nourishment, two or three days' confinement in bed, and the Doctor said, as he sat on the edge of Richling's couch:-- "No, you'd better stay where you are to-day; but to-morrow, if the weather is good, you may sit up." Then Richling, with the unreasonableness of a convalescent, wanted to know why he couldn't just as well go home. But the Doctor said again, no. "Don't be impatient; you'll have to go anyhow before I would prefer to send you. It would be invaluable to you to pass your entire convalescence here,
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CHAPTER XVIII. HOW HE DID ITRistofalo and Richling had hardly separated, when it occurred to the latter that the Italian had first touched him from behind. Had Ristofalo recognized him with his back turned, or had he seen him earlier and followed him? The facts were these: about an hour before the time when Richling omitted to apply for employment in the ill-smelling store in Tchoupitoulas street, Mr. Raphael Ristofalo halted in front of the same place,--which appeared small and slovenly among its more pretentious neighbors,--and stepped just inside the door to where stood a single barrel of apples,--a fruit only
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