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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Grandissimes - Chapter 21. Doctor Keene Recovers His Bullet
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The Grandissimes - Chapter 21. Doctor Keene Recovers His Bullet Post by :bjbauer Category :Long Stories Author :George Washington Cable Date :May 2012 Read :2819

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The Grandissimes - Chapter 21. Doctor Keene Recovers His Bullet

CHAPTER XXI. DOCTOR KEENE RECOVERS HIS BULLET

It early attracted the apothecary's notice, in observing the civilization around him, that it kept the flimsy false bottoms in its social errors only by incessant reiteration. As he re-entered the shop, dissatisfied with himself for accepting M. Grandissime's invitation to ride, he knew by the fervent words which he overheard from the lips of his employee that the f.m.c. had been making one of his reconnoisances, and possibly had ventured in to inquire for his tenant.

"I t'ink, me, dat hanny w'ite man is a gen'leman; but I don't care if a man are good like a h-angel, if 'e har not pu'e w'ite '_ow can 'e be a gen'leman?"

Raoul's words were addressed to a man who, as he rose up and handed Frowenfeld a note, ratified the Creole's sentiment by a spurt of tobacco juice and an affirmative "Hm-m."

The note was a lead-pencil scrawl, without date.


DEAR JOE: Come and see me some time this evening.
I am on my back in bed. Want your help in a little
matter. Yours, Keene.

I have found out who ---- ----"


Frowenfeld pondered: "I have found out who ---- ----" Ah! Doctor Keene had found out who stabbed Agricola.

Some delays occurred in the afternoon, but toward sunset the apothecary dressed and went out. From the doctor's bedside in the rue St. Louis, if not delayed beyond all expectation, he would proceed to visit the ladies at Number 19 rue Bienville. The air was growing cold and threatening bad weather.

He found the Doctor prostrate, wasted, hoarse, cross and almost too weak for speech. He could only whisper, as his friend approached his pillow:

"These vile lungs!"

"Hemorrhage?"

The invalid held up three small, freckled fingers.

Joseph dared not show pity in his gaze, but it seemed savage not to express some feeling, so after standing a moment he began to say:

"I am very sorry--"

"You needn't bother yourself!" whispered the doctor, who lay frowning upward. By and by he whispered again.

Frowenfeld bent his ear, and the little man, so merry when well, repeated, in a savage hiss:

"Sit down!"

It was some time before he again broke the silence.

"Tell you what I want--you to do--for me."

"Well, sir--"

"Hold on!" gasped the invalid, shutting his eyes with impatience,--"till I get through."

He lay a little while motionless, and then drew from under his pillow a wallet, and from the wallet a pistol-ball.

"Took that out--a badly neglected wound--last day I saw you." Here a pause, an appalling cough, and by and by a whisper: "Knew the bullet in an instant." He smiled wearily. "Peculiar size." He made a feeble motion. Frowenfeld guessed the meaning of it and handed him a pistol from a small table. The ball slipped softly home. "Refused two hundred dollars--those pistols"--with a sigh and closed eyes. By and by again--"Patient had smart fever--but it will be gone--time you get--there. Want you to--take care--t' I get up."

"But, Doctor--"

The sick man turned away his face with a petulant frown; but presently, with an effort at self-control, brought it back and whispered:

"You mean you--not physician?"

"Yes."

"No. No more are half--doc's. You can do it. Simple gun-shot wound in the shoulder." A rest. "Pretty wound; ranges"--he gave up the effort to describe it. "You'll see it." Another rest. "You see--this matter has been kept quiet so far. I don't want any one--else to know--anything about it." He sighed audibly and looked as though he had gone to sleep, but whispered again, with his eyes closed--"'specially on culprit's own account."

Frowenfeld was silent: but the invalid was waiting for an answer, and, not getting it, stirred peevishly.

"Do you wish me to go to-night?" asked the apothecary.

"To-morrow morning. Will you--?"

"Certainly, Doctor."

The invalid lay quite still for several minutes, looking steadily at his friend, and finally let a faint smile play about his mouth,--a wan reminder of his habitual roguery.

"Good boy," he whispered.

Frowenfeld rose and straightened the bedclothes, took a few steps about the room, and finally returned. The Doctor's restless eye had followed him at every movement.

"You'll go?"

"Yes," replied the apothecary, hat in hand; "where is it?"

"Corner Bienville and Bourbon,--upper river corner,--yellow one-story house, doorsteps on street. You know the house?"

"I think I do."

"Good-night. Here!--I wish you would send that black girl in here--as you go out--make me better fire--Joe!" the call was a ghostly whisper.

Frowenfeld paused in the door.

"You don't mind my--bad manners, Joe?"

The apothecary gave one of his infrequent smiles.

"No, Doctor."

He started toward Number 19 rue Bienville, but a light, cold sprinkle set in, and he turned back toward his shop. No sooner had the rain got him there than it stopped, as rain sometimes will do.

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