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   Chapter 15 No.15

Drusilla with a Million By Elizabeth Cooper Characters: 14049

Updated: 2017-11-29 00:05


Drusilla was called to the 'phone and a nervous, trembly-voiced Daphne spoke to her.

"May I come over, Miss Doane? I-I-want to get away from the house and talk to some one-May I come over?"

Drusilla answered quickly: "Come right along, and come to spend the day. I got to go to the home, and I'll take you with me."

Soon Daphne came up the driveway and stopped to look at two big baskets being put into the motor car, and before she could ring the bell Drusilla dressed for driving came to the door.

"Git right in, Daphne," Drusilla said, putting on her gloves. "Push that basket more to the front-there, that's right. Have you got that bundle, Joseph? Don't lose it out. Now go just as fast as you can, but don't git arrested." As she sat down by the side of Daphne she added: "I'm always in mortal fear of being arrested, 'cause I like to go fast. I don't care about the arrested part, but it'd git my name in the papers again and then your father'd make me one of his 'severity' visits, and I don't seem never to git used to them. When James tells me your father is waitin' for me it makes me feel jest like I used to when I done somethin' wrong and was called into the parlor, where I always got my scoldings, 'cause mother knew the kitchen wouldn't awe me. But"-and she chuckled-"I'm gittin' kind of used even to him, and I'm gittin' so independent there ain't no livin' with me. I even show it the way I walk. When I was ordered around by everybody, I used to sort of tiptoe around so's not to call attention to myself. Now I come down so hard on my heels I have to wear rubber ones so's not to jar my spine. But"-she looked keenly at the pale face beside her and the eyes that showed signs of recent tears-"what's the matter, dear? Have you been cryin'?"

"Oh, I'm in such trouble, Miss Doane," Daphne said with a choke in her voice.

Drusilla patted her hand.

"It can't be great trouble, Daphne."

"Yes, it is, Miss Doane. No one has such trouble as I have, I'm sure."

"Hush, dear, hush! Wait a minute. Let me show you a letter I got last night from Barbara, and then you'll know what real trouble means."

She drew from her bag a folded piece of paper and handed it to Daphne.

"Read that," she said; and Daphne read a badly spelled, badly written scrawl, in the writing of an old woman unused to holding a pen:

DEAR DRUSILLA:

I wish you'd come and see us. Mis Abbott has took poison that she got out of the medcin closet, cause she's lost her money and can't pay her board no more and she says she'd ruther die than be charity, cause she's always looked down on charity, and bin so stuck up about her family. They got it out of her with a stumak pump and she won't die this time but she says she'll do it again cause she can't live and be charity. Won't you come and see her and perhaps you can do something with her, we can't.

BARBARA.

Daphne handed the note back to Drusilla, who put it carefully into her bag before she spoke.

"Now, do you see what real trouble is? Do you remember me tellin' you about Mis' Abbott, whose father was a general and whose husband was some sort of official down South? Well, they're all dead and her only daughter died when she was a little girl and she hadn't nothin' left but memories and just enough money to keep her in the home. It was in some railroad stock and now I guess it's gone too. She was awful proud, and I can see how she feels. She always looked down on me 'cause I was charity, but I don't hold it agin her. She's had her arms full of sorrow and now they're too old to carry more."

"Poor woman!" said Daphne softly. "What are you going to do?"

"I ain't got it all figgered out yet. I talked it over with John till late last night, and then afterward it come to me. I guess I can do somethin'. The main thing is to make her want to live, make her think some one wants her. You know, Daphne, that's the great sorrow of the old; to feel that they ain't needed no more; that every one can git along just as well if not a little better without 'em than with 'em. When they see that, they want to die."

"Oh, I'm sorry I said anything about my troubles-they are so little! Yet they seemed so big last night-and this morning-this morning-"

"Well, what happened this mornin'? Tell me, dear; it'll make you feel better and then you'll see they ain't so very bad after all."

"This morning Mother talked to me, and Father was nasty to me at the breakfast table and-" and again the pretty eyes filled with tears.

"Who is it about this time?"

"There's no this time; it's always the same. It's-it's-Dr. Eaton."

Drusilla laughed.

"I knowed it! I seen it a-comin' a long time. What you and Dr. Eaton been doin'?"

"We haven't been doing anything. Only I walked home with him from your house last night, and we walked a while and-and-Mother and Father talked to me, and-"

"Yes, your father's held some forth to me about Dr. Eaton, but I only laugh at him. I like that young man."

Daphne snuggled her hand into Drusilla's.

"That's the reason I can talk to you; you will understand-because-"

Drusilla laughed again.

"Because-because-you like him too." Daphne's pretty face colored.

"Well, why shouldn't you?" said Drusilla.

"Mother says that he's only a poor doctor, that he's not the kind that'll ever make money."

"Money-money! Why, he'll always make enough for you to live on, and more money'd only be used to buy amusements to keep you from thinkin'; but the way you and him could live together, you'd like to think. So what's the use of money?"

"But Mother says-"

"Now, Daphne, I don't want to say nothin' about your mother. She's been real neighborly to me so far as she knows how, but she's too society for me, and we ain't got one thing that we can talk to each other about. She thinks more about the polish of a person's fingernails or the set of her dress than she does about the color of a soul or the heart that looks out from the eyes, but-I shouldn't say that-your mother is your mother and she means well by you, and you must respect her judgments."

Daphne looked up with a twinkle in her eyes.

"Her judgment in regard to Dr. Eaton, too?"

"Well," said Drusilla, "I wouldn't go so far as that; but-what else did she say besides that you wouldn't have enough to eat?"

"Oh, of course she didn't say that, but she said that he could never afford to give me a motor car or-"

"Well, if you don't have but one car you'll have to ride around with him in his'n, and that won't be no hardship. Just think what a nice time you could have ridin' around these roads in that noisy, smelly little car of his, and waitin' at the gate when he went in to see the Smith baby. Why-why-I'd like to do it myself!"

"Yes, I'd like it too; but Mother is always saying that it's a pity that he is a general practitioner instead of a specialist. It's only the specialists that make money and get on."

"Pshaw, you tell her that Dr. Eaton is a general practitioner in his bu

siness, but a specialist in his love affairs, and that's all that you need worry about."

"Then, you don't think it would be hard to economize?"

"Daphne, you won't have to economize on love, and with lots of that you won't miss the other things. Now, Daphne, I suppose I shouldn't meddle in this, it ain't none of my business, but I like Dr. Eaton, and I more'n like you, and I don't want you to make a mistake. Dr. Eaton won't promise you a life of roses and leave you to pull out all the thorns. I know him. And I jest want you two young things to share the very best things in life when you're young, and when you grow old together you won't see the bald spot on his head gittin' bigger, and he won't see your gray hairs a-comin', 'cause you won't ever be lookin' above each other's eyes. You know, Daphne, I'm seventy years old and I've looked on lots of things with my old eyes, and it ain't always the rich that have found the most precious jewel; it's the poor couple who've got just enough to live on-and each other."

Daphne smiled up at Drusilla.

"Oh, Miss Doane, you make it seem so heavenly!"

"Yes, it is Heaven, and love is the bridge that you cross on, and when you git across you can't always be singin' the weddin'-march-but afterwards-well, you can hum a lullaby.

"Now we're comin' to the house"-as they turned into the drive-"and I jest want to say this, dear-" She took Daphne's face in her two hands and looked into her eyes. "Life is a wonderful garden, dear, a garden where the air is filled with perfume, a garden filled with flowers, with heart's-ease and forget-me-nots, and if you wander down its moonlit pathway with your loved one's hand in yours, you're bound to find the enchanted palace where love's dream comes true-So dream, my dear, jest dream.

"Now, there's Miss Smith," as the motor stopped. "How do you do, Mis' Smith? How do you do, Barbara? You was lookin' for me? Yes, I come jest as soon as I could. How is Mis' Abbott? Take them baskets on the porch, and that bundle goes upstairs. Can I go up and see Mis' Abbott?"

"Yes, come right up. I told her you were coming, but she says she won't see you. But I think she will," said Mrs. Smith.

"Of course she will. I'm comin' right along. Daphne, you go out on the porch there with the ladies and open them baskets. I worked half the night and kept the cook up the other half to get the things ready. The names is on the things. You give 'em to the ladies, and jest stay and let 'em look at you. It'll be a treat as good as the things in the baskets."

She followed Barbara up the long stairs. At the door she turned.

"Don't come in, Barbara; I'll go in alone." And she went into the "best" room of the home, because Mrs. Abbott had been able to pay a little more than that paid by the other guests.

Drusilla found the little woman in bed, with her face turned to the wall. She did not move until Drusilla put her hand on her shoulder.

"I've come to see you, Mis' Abbott."

The woman looked up at Drusilla a moment, then put her faded old hands over her face.

"I don't want to see you, Drusilla, I don't want to see you."

"Pshaw, now," answered Drusilla, "yes, you do, Mis' Abbott. I come jest a purpose to see you."

"Oh, but I don't want to see you," wailed the feeble old voice. "I always called you 'charity' and now I'm charity myself. I wish I could die, I wish I could die!"

"No, you don't," said Drusilla softly. "You want to live and you're glad to see me."

"I ain't! I tell you, I ain't! I called you charity!"

"Yes, but I didn't mind, and if I hadn't been charity, Elias Doane wouldn't 'a' found me, and I wouldn't be here goin' to take you home with me."

"What!" said the old lady, looking up. "What'd you say, Drusilla?"

"I said I'm goin' to take you home with me."

"You are-you are-going to take me away from here-here where all the ladies'll laugh at me because I'm charity? But-but-Oh, I'll have to come back again even if you do take me, I'll have to come back again and be-Oh, I want to die-I'd rather die!"

Drusilla took the hands from the wrinkled face and held them in her own.

"Now let me set here on the edge of the bed, and you listen to me, Mis' Abbott. When I got Barbara's letter last night, I jest set for hours thinkin' it all over, and it all come to me of a sudden. Why, I need you so bad, Mis' Abbott, I wonder how I got along without you all this time. You know I got a lot of young people at my house, and no one with sense but myself to watch over them, and we need some one like yourself bad, and if you won't come I'll have to look around for some one else, and it'll put me to a lot of trouble."

The old lady looked up wonderingly.

"But what can I do, Drusilla?"

"Oh, there's lots of things you kin do, but one thing special. When I went into the nursery last night and saw Mary Allen settin' there alone by the window, I said to myself, 'Mary needs a mother. She don't ever remember havin' a mother, and then I remembered you lost your little girl most forty years ago, and if she'd 'a' growed up she might 'a' had a little girl like Mary, and I want you to come and be a mother to my Mary and a grandmother to her baby."

"Oh, is she grown up and married?"

"Never mind, she's only a little child, a lovin' little child with a baby-and a sorrow. But you'll come and see your Mary in her eyes, and she'll have a mother and you a daughter again, and you'll both find happiness in each other. She needs you, Mis' Abbott, and you need her-Say you'll come."

The old lady looked for a moment into Drusilla's eyes; then she broke into the hysterical sobbing of the old and helpless.

"I didn't think no one needed me-no one wanted me. I thought I jest cumbered up the earth. Drusilla, do you think she really needs me, that any one really needs me, that I don't have to be a burden the rest of my days? Oh, if I thought some one wanted me-Perhaps it's my Mary come back to me-my Mary-my little girl-my little girl-"

Drusilla let her cry, patting her hand softly from time to time. Then, when the storm had spent itself, she said:

"Yes, it's your Mary come back to you. Don't you remember that you said your Mary had brown eyes-"

"Yes,-yes-" and eager fingers were tugging at an old-fashioned locket hanging to a slender chain around her neck. "See-here she is-her eyes are brown and her hair all curled around her face, and her lips was just like a rose-and her face-oh, her pretty face-"

Drusilla studied the picture carefully.

"Yes, it's jest like this other Mary. Her hair is all in little curls around her face and her brown eyes jest like a child's, a wonderin' child's whose waitin' for her mother."

The old lady rose from the bed.

"Can I go now, Drusilla? Can I go now?"

"Are you well enough? Can you stand the trip?"

Mrs. Abbott laughed.

"Only sorrow makes one feeble, sorrow and loneliness; but hope makes one strong, and I got hope again-I want to live, Drusilla-I want to live!"

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