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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesDr. Sevier - Chapter 9. When The Wind Blows
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Dr. Sevier - Chapter 9. When The Wind Blows Post by :Benjamin_Scott Category :Long Stories Author :George Washington Cable Date :May 2012 Read :1342

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Dr. Sevier - Chapter 9. When The Wind Blows

CHAPTER IX. WHEN THE WIND BLOWS

The house stands there to-day. A small, pinched, frame, ground-floor-and-attic, double tenement, with its roof sloping toward St. Mary street and overhanging its two door-steps that jut out on the sidewalk. There the Doctor's carriage stopped, and in its front room he found Mary in bed again, as ill as ever. A humble German woman, living in the adjoining half of the house, was attending to the invalid's wants, and had kept her daughter from the public school to send her to the apothecary with the Doctor's prescription.

"It is the poor who help the poor," thought the physician.

"Is this your home?" he asked the woman softly, as he sat down by the patient's pillow. He looked about upon the small, cheaply furnished room, full of the neat makeshifts of cramped housewifery.

"It's mine," whispered Mary. Even as she lay there in peril of her life, and flattened out as though Juggernaut had rolled over her, her eyes shone with happiness and scintillated as the Doctor exclaimed in undertone:--

"Yours!" He laid his hand upon her forehead. "Where is Mr. Richling?"

"At the office." Her eyes danced with delight. She would have begun, then and there, to tell him all that had happened,--"had taken care of herself all along," she said, "until they began to move. In moving, had been _obliged to overwork--hardly _fixed yet"--

But the Doctor gently checked her and bade her be quiet.

"I will," was the faint reply; "I will; but--just one thing, Doctor, please let me say."

"Well?"

"John"--

"Yes, yes; I know; he'd be here, only you wouldn't let him stay away from his work."

She smiled assent, and he smiled in return.

"'Business is business,'" he said.

She turned a quick, sparkling glance of affirmation, as if she had lately had some trouble to maintain that ancient truism. She was going to speak again, but the Doctor waved his hand downward soothingly toward the restless form and uplifted eyes.

"All right," she whispered, and closed them.

The next day she was worse. The physician found himself, to use his words, "only the tardy attendant of offended nature." When he dropped his finger-ends gently upon her temple she tremblingly grasped his hand.

"You'll save me?" she whispered.

"Yes," he replied; "we'll do that--the Lord helping us."

A glad light shone from her face as he uttered the latter clause. Whereat he made haste to add:--

"I don't pray, but I'm sure you do."

She silently pressed the hand she still held.

On Sunday he found Richling at the bedside. Mary had improved considerably in two or three days. She lay quite still as they talked, only shifting her glance softly from one to the other as one and then the other spoke. The Doctor heard with interest Richling's full account of all that had occurred since he had met them last together. Mary's eyes filled with merriment when John told the droller part of their experiences in the hard quarters from which they had only lately removed. But the Doctor did not so much as smile. Richling finished, and the physician was silent.

"Oh, we're getting along," said Richling, stroking the small, weak hand that lay near him on the coverlet. But still the Doctor kept silence.

"Of course," said Richling, very quietly, looking at his wife, "we mustn't be surprised at a backset now and then. But we're getting on."

Mary turned her eyes toward the Doctor. Was he not going to assent at all? She seemed about to speak. He bent his ear, and she said, with a quiet smile:--

"'When the wind blows, the cradle will rock.'"

The physician gave only a heavy-eyed "Humph!" and a faint look of amusement.

"What did she say?" said Richling; the words had escaped his ear. The Doctor repeated it, and Richling, too, smiled.

Yet it was a good speech,--why not? But the patient also smiled, and turned her eyes toward the wall with a disconcerted look, as if the smile might end in tears. For herein lay the very difficulty that always brought the Doctor's carriage to the door,--the cradle would not rock.

For a few days more that carriage continued to appear, and then ceased. Richling dropped in one morning at Number 3-1/2 Carondelet, and settled his bill with Narcisse.

The young Creole was much pleased to be at length brought into actual contact with a man of his own years, who, without visible effort, had made an impression on Dr. Sevier.

Until the money had been paid and the bill receipted nothing more than a formal business phrase or two passed between them. But as Narcisse delivered the receipted bill, with an elaborate gesture of courtesy, and Richling began to fold it for his pocket, the Creole remarked:--

"I 'ope you will excuse the 'an'-a-'iting."

Richling reopened the paper; the penmanship was beautiful.

"Do you ever write better than this?" he asked. "Why, I wish I could write half as well!"

"No; I do not fine that well a-'itten. I cannot see 'ow that is,--I nevva 'ite to the satizfagtion of my abil'ty soon in the mawnin's. I am dest'oying my chi'og'aphy at that desk yeh."

"Indeed?" said Richling; "why, I should think"--

"Yesseh, 'tis the tooth. But consunning the chi'og'aphy, Mistoo Itchlin, I 'ave descovvud one thing to a maul cettainty, and that is, if I 'ave something to 'ite to a young lady, I always dizguise my chi'og'aphy. Ha-ah! I 'ave learn that! You will be aztonizh' to see in 'ow many diffe'n' fawm' I can make my 'an'-a-'iting to appeah. That paz thoo my fam'ly, in fact, Mistoo Itchlin. My hant, she's got a honcle w'at use' to be cluck in a bank, w'at could make the si'natu'e of the pwesiden', as well as of the cashieh, with that so absolute puffegtion, that they tu'n 'im out of the bank! Yesseh. In fact, I thing you ought to know 'ow to 'ite a ve'y fine 'an', Mistoo Itchlin."

"N-not very," said Richling; "my hand is large and legible, but not well adapted for--book-keeping; it's too heavy."

"You 'ave the 'ight physio'nomie, I am shu'. You will pe'haps believe me with difficulty, Mistoo Itchlin, but I assu' you I can tell if a man 'as a fine chi'og'aphy aw no, by juz lookin' upon his liniment. Do you know that Benjamin Fwanklin 'ote a v'ey fine chi'og'aphy, in fact? Also, Voltaire. Yesseh. An' Napoleon Bonaparte. Lawd By'on muz 'ave 'ad a beaucheouz chi'og'aphy. 'Tis impossible not to be, with that face. He is my favo'ite poet, that Lawd By'on. Moze people pwefeh 'im to Shakspere, in fact. Well, you muz go? I am ve'y 'appy to meck yo' acquaintanze, Mistoo Itchlin, seh. I am so'y Doctah Seveeah is not theh pwesently. The negs time you call, Mistoo Itchlin, you muz not be too much aztonizh to fine me gone from yeh. Yesseh. He's got to haugment me ad the en' of that month, an' we 'ave to-day the fifteenth Mawch. Do you smoke, Mistoo Itchlin?" He extended a package of cigarettes. Richling accepted one. "I smoke lawgely in that weatheh," striking a match on his thigh. "I feel ve'y sultwy to-day. Well,"--he seized the visitor's hand,--"_au' evoi'_, Mistoo Itchlin." And Narcisse returned to his desk happy in the conviction that Richling had gone away dazzled.

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