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Stories of Mystery edited by Rossiter Johnson


page 17 of 26 | page 1 | Stories of Mystery - home

Stories of Mystery edited by Rossiter Johnson

Slowly, the resolve instantly to go in uprose within him, and with it a change came upon his spirit, and the natural world, sadder than before, but sweeter, seemed to come back to him. A great feeling of relief flowed upon his mind. Pale and trembling still, he crossed the street with a quick, unsteady step, entered a yard at the side of the house, and, brushing by a host of white, rattling spectres of frozen clothes, which dangled from lines in the enclosure, mounted some wooden steps, and rang the bell. In a minute he heard footsteps within, and saw the gleam of a lamp. His heart palpitated violently as he heard the lock turning, lest the answerer of his summons might be his tenant. The door opened, and, to his relief, he stood before a rather decent-looking Irishman, bending forward in his stocking-feet, with one boot and a lamp in his hand. The man stared at him from a wild head of tumbled red hair, with a half-smile round his loose open month, and said, "Begorra!" This was a second-floor tenant.

Dr. Renton was relieved at the sight of him; but he rather failed in an attempt at his rent-day suavity of manner, when he said,--

"Good evening, Mr. Flanagan. Do you think I can see Mrs. Miller to-night?"

"She's up _there_, docther, anyway." Mr. Flanagan made a sudden start for the stairs, with the boot and lamp at arm's length before him, and stopped as suddenly. "Yull go up? or wud she come down to ye?" There was as much anxious indecision in Mr. Flanagan's general aspect, pending the reply, as if he had to answer the question himself.

"I'll go up, Mr. Flanagan," returned Dr. Renton, stepping in, after a pause, and shutting the door. "But I'm afraid she's in bed." "Naw--she's not, sur." Mr. Flanagan made another feint with the boot and lamp at the stairs, but stopped again in curious bewilderment, and rubbed his head. Then, with another inspiration, and speaking with such velocity that his words ran into each other, pell-mell, he continued: "Th' small girl's sick sur. Begorra, I wor just pullin' on th' boots tuh gaw for the docther, in th' nixt streth, an' summons him to her relehf, fur it's bad she is. A'id betther be goan." Another start, and a movement to put on the boot instantly, baffled by his getting the lamp into the leg of it, and involving himself in difficulties in trying to get it out again without dropping either, and stopped finally by Dr. Renton.

"You needn't go, Mr. Flanagan. I'll see to the child. Don't go."

He stepped slowly up the stairs, followed by the bewildered Flanagan. All this time Dr. Renton was listening to the racket from the bar-room. Clinking of glasses, rattling of dishes, trampling of feet, oaths and laughter, and a confused din of coarse voices, mingling with boisterous calls for oysters and drink, came, hardly deadened by the partition walls, from the haunt below, and echoed through the corridors. Loud enough within,--louder in the street without, where the oysters and drink were reeling and roaring off to brutal dreams. People trying to sleep here; a sick child up stairs. Listen! "_Two_ stew! _One_ roast! _Four_ ale! Hurry 'em up! _Three_ stew! _In_ number six! _One_ fancy--_two_ roast! _One_ sling! Three brandy--_hot_! _Two_ stew! _One_ whisk' _skin_! Hurry 'em up! _What_ yeh _'bout_! _Three_ brand' punch--_hot_! _Four_ stew! _What_-ye-e-h 'BOUT! _Two_ gin-cock-t'il! _One_ stew! Hu-r-r-y 'em up!" Clashing, rattling, cursing, swearing, laughing, shouting, trampling, stumbling, driving, slamming of doors. "Hu-r-ry 'em UP."