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   Chapter 4 A RED HEAD

Mrs. Red Pepper By Grace S. Richmond Characters: 32320

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:04


"Marriage," said James Macauley, looking thoughtfully into his coffee cup, as he sat opposite his wife, Martha, at the breakfast-table, "is supposed to change a man radically. The influence of a good and lovely woman can hardly be overestimated. But the question is, can the temper of a red-headed explosive ever be rendered uninflammable?"

"What are you talking about?" Martha inquired, with interest. "Ellen and Red? Red is changed. I never saw him so dear and tractable."

"Dear and tractable, is he? Have you happened to encounter him in the last twenty-four hours?"

"No. What's the matter? He and Ellen can't possibly have had any-misunderstanding? And if they had, they wouldn't tell you about it."

"Well, they may not have had a misunderstanding, but if Ellen succeeds in understanding him through the present crisis she'll prove herself a remarkable woman. As near as I can make it out, Red is mad, fighting mad, clear through, with somebody or something, and he can no more disguise it than he ever could. I don't suppose it's with anybody at home, of course, but it makes him anything but an angel, there or anywhere else."

"Where did you see him? Hush-Mary's coming!"

Macauley waited obediently till the maid had left the room again. Then he proceeded. He had not begun upon the present subject until the children had gone away, leaving the father and mother alone together.

"I ran into his office last night, after those throat-tablets he gives me, and heard him at the telephone in the private office. Couldn't help hearing him. He was giving the everlasting quietus to somebody, and I thought he'd burn out the transmitter."

"Jim! Red doesn't swear any more. He surely hasn't taken it up again?"

"He didn't do any technical swearing, perhaps, but he might as well. He can put more giant-powder into the English language without actually breaking any commandments than anybody I ever heard. When he came out he had that look of his-you know it of old-so that if I'd been a timid chap I'd have backed out. He gave me my throat-tablets without so much as answering my explanation of how I came to be out of them so soon. Then I got away, I assure you. He had no use for me."

"He's probably all right this morning. Ellen could quiet him down."

"She didn't get the chance. The light in his old room burned all night,-and you know he's not sleeping there now."

"Well, I'm sorry for her." Martha rose, her brow clouded. "But I'd never dare to ask her what the trouble was, and she'll never tell, so there it is."

"It certainly is-right there. Oh, well, he'll get over it, if you give him time. Queer, what a combination of big heart and red head he is."

At the moment of this discussion the red head was still in the ascendency. R.P. Burns, M.D., had come out of his old quarters downstairs that morning with lips set grimly together, heavy gloom upon his brow. He met his wife at the breakfast-table with an effort at a smile in response to her bright look, and kissed her as tenderly as usual, but it was an automatic tenderness, as she was quick to recognize. He replied monosyllabically to her observations concerning matters usually of interest to him, but he evidently had no words to spare, and after a little she gave over all effort to draw him out. Instead, she and Bob held an animated discussion on certain kindergarten matters, while Red Pepper swallowed his breakfast in silence, gulped down two cups of strong coffee, and left the table with only a murmured word of apology.

"Red,-" His wife's voice followed him.

He turned, without speaking.

"Do you mind if I drive into town with you this morning?"

He nodded, and turned again, striding on into his office and closing the door with a bang. She understood that his nod meant acquiescence with her request, rather than affirmation as to his objecting to her company. She kept close watch over the movements of the Green Imp, suspecting that in his present mood Burns might forget to call her, and when the car came down the driveway she was waiting on the office steps.

It would have been an ill-humoured man indeed, whose eyes could have rested upon her standing there and not have noted the charm of her graceful figure, her face looking out at him from under a modishly attractive hat. Ellen's smile, from under the shadowing brim, was as whole-heartedly sweet as if she were meeting the look of worshipful comradeship which usually fell upon her when she joined her husband on any expedition whatever. Instead, she encountered something like a glower from the hazel eyes, which did, however, as at breakfast, soften for an instant at the moment of meeting hers.

"Jump in! I'm in a hurry," was his quite needless command, for she was ready to take her place the instant the car drew to a standstill, and the delay she made him was hardly appreciable.

In silence they drove to town, and at a pace which took them past everything with which they came up, from lumbering farm-wagon to motor-cars far more powerful and speedy than the Imp. Ellen found herself well blown about by the wind they made, though there was none stirring, and wished she had been dressed for driving instead of for shopping. But the trip, if breezy, was brief, though it did not at once land her at her destination.

Drawing up before a somewhat imposing residence, on the outskirts of the city, Burns announced: "Can't take you in till I've made this call," and stopped his engine with a finality which seemed to indicate that he should be in no haste to start it again.

"It doesn't matter in the least. I shall enjoy sitting here," his wife responded, still outwardly unruffled by his manner. She looked in vain for his customary glance of leave-taking, and watched him stride away up the walk to the house with a sense of wonder that even his back could somehow look so aggressive.

She had not more than settled herself when a handsome roadster appeared rushing rapidly down the road from the direction of the city and came to a stop, facing her, before the house. She recognized in the well-groomed figure which stepped out, case in hand, one of the city surgeons with whom her husband was often closely associated in his hospital work, Dr. Van Horn. He was a decade older than Red, possessed a strikingly impressive personality, and looked, to the last detail, like a man accustomed to be deferred to.

Descending, he caught sight of Ellen, and came across to the Imp, hat in hand, and motoring-glove withdrawn.

"Ah, Mrs. Burns,-accompanying your husband on this matchless morning? He is a fortunate man. You don't mind the waiting? My wife thinks there is nothing so unendurable,-she has no patience with the length of my calls."

"I've not had much experience, as yet," Ellen replied, looking into the handsome, middle-aged face before her, and thinking that the smile under the close-clipped, iron-gray moustache was one which could be cynical more easily than it could be sympathetic. "But, so far, I find the waiting, in such weather, very endurable. I often bring a book, and then it never matters, you know."

"Of course not. You are familiar with Balzac's 'Country Doctor'? There's a tribute to men like your husband, who devote their lives to the humble folk." He glanced toward the house. "I mustn't keep my colleague waiting, even for the pleasure of a chat with you. He's not-you'll pardon me-so good a waiter as yourself!"

He went away, smiling. Ellen looked after him with a little frown of displeasure. From the first moment of meeting him, some months ago, she had not liked Dr. James Van Horn. He was the city's most fashionable surgeon, she knew, and had a large practice among folk the reverse of "humble." She had seen in his eyes that he liked to look at her, and knew that in the moment he had stood beside her he had lost no detail of her face. He had also, after some subtle fashion, managed to express his admiration by his own look, though with his smoothly spoken words he had not hesitated to say a thing about her husband which was at once somehow a compliment and a stab.

"I can't imagine Dr. Van Horn taking much pains with 'humble folk,'" Ellen said to herself. "Yet he's evidently consulting with Red at this house, which doesn't seem exactly a 'humble' abode. I wonder if they get on well together. They're certainly not much alike."

The wait proved to be a long one. Ellen had studied her surroundings with thoroughness in every direction before the house-door opened at last, and the two men came down the walk together. They were talking earnestly as they came, and at a point some yards away they ceased to advance, and stood still, evidently in tense discussion over the case just left. They spoke in the low tones customary with men of their profession, and their words did not reach Ellen's ears. But it was not difficult to recognize, as she watched their faces, that they were differing, and differing radically, on the matter in hand.

They had turned to face each other, and neither looked her way, so it was possible for Ellen to study the two without fear of intrusion. They made an interesting study, certainly. Dr. Van Horn's face was impassive as to the play of his features, except that he smiled, from time to time,-a smile which bore out Ellen's previous feeling concerning its possibilities for cynicism rather than sympathy. His eyes, however, steely blue and cold in their expression, told more than his face of antagonism to the man with whom he spoke. But his command of manner, to the outward observer, who could not hear his words, was perfect.

As for R.P. Burns, M.D., there was no disguising the fact that he was intensely angry. That he strove, and strove hard, to control his manner, if not his anger, was perfectly evident to his wife, but that he was succeeding ill at the task was painfully apparent. His colour was high-it nearly matched his hair; his eyes burned like consuming fires under their dark brows; his lips spoke fast and fiercely. He kept his voice down-Ellen was thankful for that-and his gestures, though forceful, were controlled; but she feared at every moment that he would break out into open show of temper, and it seemed to her that this she could not bear.

She had never before seen Red Pepper really angry. She had been told, again and again since her first meeting with him, by her sister and her sister's husband, and by the Chesters, that Burns was capable of getting into a red rage in which nobody could influence or calm him, and in which he could or would not control himself. They invariably added that these hot exhibitions of high temper were frequently over as suddenly as they had appeared, and usually did nobody any harm whatever. But they hinted that there had been times in the past when Red had said or done that which could not be forgiven by his victims, and that he had more than once alienated people of standing whose good-will he could not afford to lose.

"He keeps a woodpile back of the house," James Macauley had told her once, laughingly, in the last days before she had married Burns, "where he works off a good deal of high pressure. If you catch a glimpse of him there, at unholy hours, you may know that there's murder in his heart-for the moment. Art Chester vows he's caught him there at midnight, and I don't doubt it in the least. But-a woodpile isn't always handy when a man is mad clear through, and when it isn't, and you happen to be the one who's displeased His Pepperiness, look out! I give you fair warning, smiles and kisses won't always work with him, much as he may like 'em when he's sane!"

"I'm not afraid, thank you, Jim," Ellen had answered, lightly. "Better a red-hot temper than a white-cold one."

She thought of the words now, as she saw her husband suddenly turn away from Dr. Van Horn, and march down the walk, ahead of him. The action was pretty close to rudeness, for it left the elder man in the rear. Evidently, in spite of his irritation, Burns instantly realized this, for he turned again, saying quickly: "I beg your pardon, Doctor, but I've got a lot of work waiting."

"Don't apologize, Doctor," returned the other, with perfect courtesy. "We all know that you are the busiest man among us."

His face, as he spoke, was as pale as Burns's was high-coloured, and Ellen recognized that here were the two sorts of wrath in apposition, the "red" sort and the "white." And looking at Dr. Van Horn's face, it seemed to her that she still preferred the red. But as his eyes met hers he smiled the same suave smile which she had seen before.

"Not tired of waiting yet, Mrs. Burns?" he said, as he passed her. "You must be a restful companion for a man harassed by many cares."

She smiled and nodded her thanks, with a blithe word of parting,-so completely can her sex disguise their feelings. She was conscious at the moment, without in the least being able to guess at the cause of the friction between the two men, of an intense antipathy to Dr. James Van Horn. And at the same moment she longed to be able to make her husband look as cool and unconcerned as the other man was looking, as he drove away with a backward nod-which Red Pepper did not return!

It was not the time to speak,-she knew that well enough. Besides, though she was not the subject of his resentment, she did not care to incur any more of the results of it than could be helped. She let Burns drop her at a corner near the shopping district without asking him to take her to the precise place she meant to visit first, and left him without making any request that he return for her,-a courtesy he was usually eager to insist upon, even though it took him out of his way.

At night, when he returned, she met him with the hope that he would be able to spend the evening with her,-a thing which had not happened for a week. Her arms were about his neck as she put the question, and he looked down into her face with again a slight softening of his austere expression. She had seen at the first glance that he was not only still unhappy, he was suffering profound fatigue.

"No, I've got to go back to that infernal case." It was the first time he had disclosed even a hint as to what was the matter.

"The one where I stopped with you this morning?"

"Yes. Each time I go I vow I'll not go again. To-night, if I find things as they were two hours ago, I'll discharge myself, and that will end it."

"Red, you're just as tired and worn as you can be. Come in to the big couch, and let me make you comfortable, until dinner. You'll eat the better for it-and you need it."

He yielded, reluctantly,-he who was always so willing to submit to her ministrations. But he threw himself upon the couch with a long sigh, and let her arrange the pillows under his head. She sat down beside him.

"Can't you tell me something about it, dear?" she suggested. "Nothing I ought not to know, of course, but the thing which makes you so miserable. It can't be because the case is going wrong,-that wouldn't affect you just as this is doing."

"You've seen it, I suppose. I thought I'd kept in, before you." Burns shut his eyes, his brows frowning.

She could have smiled, but did not. "You have-only of course I have seen that something was wearing you-keeping you on a tension. You've not been quite yourself for several days."

"I am myself. I'm the real fellow-only you haven't known him before. The other is just-the devil disguised in a goodly garment, one that doesn't belong to him."

"Oh, no!"

"No question of it. I'm so swearing mad this minute I could kill somebody,-in other words, that foul fiend of a James Van Horn-smooth-tongued hypocrite that he is!"

"Has he injured you?"

"Injured me? Knifed me in the back, every chance he got. Always has-but he never had such a chance as he has now. And plays the part of an angel of light in that house-fools them all. I'm the ill-tempered incompetent, he's the forbearing wise man. The case is mine, but he's played the game till they all have more confidence in him than they have in me. And he's got all

the cards in his hand!"

He flung himself off the couch, and began to pace the room. Speech, once unloosed, flowed freely enough now,-he could not keep it back.

"The patient is a man of prominence-the matter of his recovery is a great necessity. If he were able to bear it he ought to be operated upon; but there isn't one chance in a hundred he'd survive an operation at present. There's at least one chance in ten he'll get well without one. I'm usually keen enough to operate, but for once I don't dare risk it. Van Horn advises operation-unreservedly. And the deuce of it is that with every hour that goes by he lets the family understand that he considers the patient's chances for relief by operation are lessening. He's fixing it so that however things come out he's safe, and however things come out I'm in the hole."

"Not if the patient gets well."

"No, but I tell you the chance for that is mighty slim-only one in ten, at best. So he holds the cards, except for that one chance of mine. And if the patient dies in the end it's because I didn't operate when he advised it-or so he'll let them see he thinks. Not in so many words, but in the cleverest innuendo of face and manner;-that's what makes me so mad! If he'd fight in the open! But not he."

"Would he have liked to operate himself?"

Burns laughed-an ugly laugh, such as she had never before heard from his lips. "Couldn't have been hired to, not even in the beginning, when he first advocated it. And I couldn't have let him, knowing as well as I know anything in life that the patient would never have left the table alive. Don't you see I've had to fight for my patient's very life,-or rather for his slim chance to live,-knowing all the while that I was probably digging my own grave. Easy enough to let Van Horn operate, in the beginning, and kill the patient and prove himself right,-if he would have done it. Easy enough to pull out of the case and let them have somebody who would operate on Van Horn's advice."

"Is the patient going down?"

"No, he's holding his own fairly well, but the disease isn't one that would take him off overnight. It'll be a matter of two or three days yet, either way. How I'm going to get through them, with things going as they are;-meeting that Judas there at the bedside, three times a day, and trying to keep my infernal temper from making me disgrace myself-"

"Red, dear,-"

She rose and came to him, putting her hands on his shoulders and looking straight up into his face.

"That's where Dr. Van Horn is stronger than you, and in no other way. He can control himself."

"Not inside! Nor outside-if you know him. He's exactly as mad as I am, only-"

"He doesn't show it. And so he has the advantage."

"Do you think I don't know that? But I'm right and he's wrong-"

"So you are the one who should keep cool. You've heard the saying of some wise man-'If you are right you have no need to lose your temper-if you are wrong you can't afford to.'"

Red Pepper laid hold of the hands upon his shoulders, and looked down into his wife's eyes with fires burning fiercely in his own.

"You can give me all the wise advice you want to, but the fact remains.-I have reason to be angry, and I am angry, and I can't help it, and won't help it! Great heavens, I'm human!"

"Yes, dear, you're human, and so am I. You have great provocation, and I think I'm almost as angry, in my small way, with Dr. Van Horn, as you are, now that I know. But-I want you somehow to keep control of yourself. You are a gentleman, and he is not, but he is acting like a gentleman-hush-on the outside, I mean-and-you are not!"

"What!"

"Dear, are you?"

"What do you know about it?"

"From the little I saw outside the house this morning."

He grasped her arms so tightly that he hurt her. "Lord! If you mean that I ought to grin at him, as he does at me, the snake in the grass-"

"I don't mean that, of course. But I do think you shouldn't allow yourself to look as if you wanted to knock him down."

"There's nothing in life that would give me greater satisfaction!"

He relaxed his grasp on her arms, and she let them drop from his shoulders. She turned aside, with a little droop of the head, as if she felt it useless to argue with one so stubbornly set on his own destruction.

He looked after her. "A big brute, am I not? Didn't know me before, did you? Thought I was all fine, warm heart and blarneying words. Well, I'm not. When a thing like this gets hold of me I'm-well, I won't shock your pretty ears by putting it into words."

He walked out of the room, leaving her standing looking after him with a strange expression on her face. Before she had moved, however, the door burst open again, and he was striding across the floor to her, to seize her in his arms.

"I am a brute, and I know it, but I'm not so far gone as not to realize I'm wreaking my temper on the one I love best in the world. Forget it, darling, and don't worry about me. I've been through this sort of thing times enough before. Best not try to reform me-let me have my fling. I'm no Job nor Moses,-I wasn't built that way."

She lifted her head, and the action was full of spirit. "I don't want you a Job or a Moses, but a man! It's not manly to act as you are acting now."

He threw up his head. "Not manly! That's a new one. According to your code is there no just anger in the world?"

"Just anger, but not sane rage. You have reason to be angry but there's no reason in the world why you should let it consume you. Red, dear, why not-bank the fires?"

He stared down into her upturned face. He had thought he knew her, heart and soul, but he found himself thoroughly astonished by this new attitude. He was so accustomed to a charming compliance in her, he could hardly realize that he was being brought to book in a manner at once so felicitous yet so firm. She gave him back his scrutiny without flinching, and somehow, though she put him in the wrong, he had never loved her better. Here was a comrade who could understand and influence him!

"Bank the fires, eh?" he growled. "Not put them out? I should suppose you would have wanted them drowned out in a flood of tears of repentance for letting them burn."

"No! You are you, and the fires are warming-when they are kept under control. You're fighting the harder for your patient's life because the fight's a hard one. But when you let the Devil fan the flame-"

He burst into a great, unexpected laugh and caught her to his breast again. "That's what I'm doing, is it? That ever I should have lived to hear you use a phrase like that! But it's a true one, I admit it. I've let his Satanic Majesty have his own way with me, and bade him welcome, too. I may again, when I get away from you. But-well-I know you're right. I-I'll try to bank the fires, little wife. Only don't expect too much."

"Red," said she,-and it was not at all the sort of rejoinder he might have expected after his concession,-"why is there no woodpile now behind the house?"

"Woodpile?" He was clearly puzzled. "Why, there's plenty of wood in the cellar, you know, if you want fires. You can't be suffering for them, this weather?"

"No, but I wish there were a woodpile there. Did you think you wouldn't need one any more after you were married? You should have laid in a double supply."

"But, what for? Oh!-" Light dawned upon him. "Somebody's told you how I used to whack at it."

"Yes, and I saw you once myself, only I didn't know what put the energy into your blows. It was a splendid safety-valve. Red,-send for a load of wood to-day, please!"

"In July! You hard-hearted little wretch! Do you want me reduced to a pulp?"

She nodded. "Better that than burning like a bonfire. And better than running the Imp sixty miles an hour. That doesn't help you,-it merely helps your arch enemy fan the flames."

He laughed again, and the sound of his own laughter did him good, according to the laws of Nature. "Bless you, you've put him to rout for the moment at least, and that's more than any other human soul has ever done for mine, before."

He kissed her, tenderly, and understanding what he did. In his heart he adored her for the sweetness and sense which had kept her from taking these days of trial as a personal affront and finding offence in them.

They went out to dinner, and Burns found himself somehow able to forget sufficiently to enjoy the appetizing dishes which were served to him, and to keep his brow clear and his mind upon the table talk. When he went away, afterward, back to the scene of his irritation and anxiety, he bore with him a peculiar sense of having his good genius with him, to help him tend those devastating fires of temperament which when they burned too fiercely could only hinder him in the fight he waged.

It was almost daybreak when he returned. Ellen was not asleep, although she did not expect him to come upstairs, if only for fear of disturbing her at that hour. But presently the cautious opening of her door caused her to raise her head and lift her arms. Her husband came to her, and sat down close beside her.

"I've discharged myself from the case," he said. He spoke quietly, but his voice vibrated with feeling. "It was the only thing to do. No man could keep on with a case where the family were secretly following the consultant's directions, instead of those of the physician in charge. But,-for your sake, little wife, I've done something I never would have believed I'd do."

She sat up, her eyes fixed on the dim outlines of his face. "Tell me!" she urged.

"To begin with, I had it out with them, and let them know I understood the situation perfectly-and had understood it all along. That I couldn't stay with people who had lost faith in me. That if I were out of it they could have the full benefit of Van Horn's orders, and the nurses would be relieved of a mighty difficult situation. I suppose you don't know-few people do-that it's a bad breach of professional ethics for a consultant to conduct himself so that he throws doubt on the ability of the man in charge? In this case it was a piece of outrageous-" He caught himself up. "I can't get going on that, or-those fires won't stay banked!"

She had his hand in both hers, and she lifted it to her lips. He drew a smothered breath or two, and went on.

"They were glad enough to see me out of it. Van Horn was-also glad! You see,-within the last few hours the patient had lost ground-Van's prognosis was being verified. But, when it came to taking leave of the patient, there was the dickens to pay. His pulse jumped and his temperature went up, and there was trouble for fair. He begged me not to leave him. From the start his faith has been pinned tight to me. The family hadn't reckoned with that. They found themselves obliged to reckon with it. They saw I must be kept, or the game would be up in short order."

"Oh, then you had to stay!"

"Yes, I had to stay-but-I couldn't! Van Horn was in charge, and the family wanted him in charge."

"But the patient would die if you didn't stay. You couldn't let professional etiquette-"

"Couldn't you, though? You've got to observe the rules of the game, Ellen, or you'll be in a worse mess than if you disregard them. After I had resigned the case, unless Van Horn took himself out of it I could have no recognized place in the house. He could have invited me, in the emergency, to share responsibility equally with himself-but would he do that? Never! There was just one thing I could do,-let the patient think I was still in charge, and continue to see him, while Van Horn ran things and so satisfied the family."

"Oh, Red, they couldn't ask you to do that?"

"That was what they did ask. I saw 'red' then, for a minute, I can tell you. You can't understand just what a humiliation that would be,-it's more than you could expect of any man-"

"But with the patient needing you-"

"I know,-but it's an anomalous position, just the same-an unbearable one. Not one man in a thousand would consider it for an instant. But it's the one I've accepted-for you!"

He drew her into his arms, and had his reward. He had not known she would be so deeply touched, and his heart grew very warm.

"Bless you!" he murmured. "Do you care so much about seeing those fires banked? They would never burn you!"

"Care? Oh, how I care! But, Red, you haven't accepted an 'anomalous position.' It's a clearly defined one,-the position of the man who is big enough to take second place, because it is his duty. And I'm so proud of you-so proud! And prouder yet because you've controlled that fiery temper."

"Don't praise me yet,-it may break out again. The test is coming in the next forty-eight hours."

"You will stand it,-I know you will."

"You would put backbone into a feather-bed," said Red Pepper, with conviction, and they laughed and clung together, in the early dawn.

* * *

Two days later Burns came home again as the first light of the morning was breaking over the summer sky. It had been the third consecutive night which he had spent at the bedside of the patient who would not let him go,-the patient who, every time his weary eyes lifted, during the long stretches of the night, wanted to rest them upon a halo of coppery red hair against the low-burning light. The sick man had learned what it meant to feel now and then, in a moment of torture, the pressure of a kind, big hand upon his, and to hear the sound of a quiet, reassuring voice-"Steady-steady-better in a minute!"

As he entered his office his eyes were heavy with his vigils, but his heart was very light. He looked at a certain old leather chair, into which he had often sunk when he came in at untimely hours, too weary to take another step toward bed. But now he passed it by and noiselessly crossed the hall into the living-room, where stood the roomy and luxurious couch which Ellen had provided with special thought of hours like these.

He softly opened the windows, to let in the morning breeze and the bird-songs of the early risers outside, then threw himself upon the couch, and almost instantly was sound asleep.

Two hours later, before the household was astir, Ellen came down. She was in flowing, lacy garments, her hair in freshly braided plaits hanging over her shoulders, her eyes clear and bright with the invigoration of the night's rest. As if she had known he would be there, she came straight to her husband's side, and stood looking down at him with her heart in her eyes.

He looked almost like a big boy, lying there with one arm under his head, the heavy lashes marking the line of the closed eyes, the face unbent from the tenser moulding of waking hours, the whole strong body relaxed into an attitude of careless ease. Even as she looked, though she had made scarcely a breath of noise, his eyes unclosed. He was the lightest of sleepers, even when worn out with work. He lay staring up at her for a minute while she smiled down at him, then he held out his arms.

"He's passed the danger point," he exulted, and he took hold of the two long plaits and wound them about her head. Then he sat up and began deliberately to unbraid her hair, while she submitted laughing.

"At two this morning he had a bad turn," said he, his fingers having their way with the dusky locks. "The nurse gave him Van Horn's drugs,-he grew worse. I rose up and took charge." He laughed at the thought. "We had things doing there that would have made Van's hair curl. Everybody's hair curled but mine. Mine stood up straight. I waved my arms like a semaphore. I said 'Do this!' and they did it. I sent every one of Van's emergency orders to thunder and tried my own. They were radical-but they worked. The patient pulled out,-he'll live now,-I'll warrant him. They got Van there just as the thing was over. He and I looked each other in the eye-and I won. Ah-h!-it was worth it!"

He drew her hair all over her face, like a veil; then he gently parted it and kissed her happy lips.

"Oh, but I'm the hungry boy," said he. "Can't we have breakfast-now?"

* * *

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