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Stories of Mystery edited by Rossiter Johnson
THE GHOST by WILLIAM D. O'CONNOR.
"I hope, Mrs. Miller, you will not refuse any assistance I can render to your child," he said, at length.
She started, and replied, tremblingly and confusedly, "No, sir; we shall be grateful to you, if you can save her"; and went quickly, with a strange abstraction on her white face, into the inner room. He followed her at once, and, hardly glancing at Mrs. Flanagan, who sat there in stupefaction, with her apron over her head and face, he laid his hat on a table, went to the bedside of the little girl, and felt her head and pulse. He soon satisfied himself that the little sufferer was in no danger, under proper remedies, and now dashed down a prescription on a leaf from his pocket-book. Mrs. Flanagan, who had come out from the retirement of her apron, to stare stupidly at him during the examination, suddenly bobbed up on her legs, with enlightened alacrity, when he asked if there was any one that could go out to the apothecary's, and said, "Sure I wull!" He had a little trouble to make her understand that the prescription, which she took by the corner, holding it away from her, as if it were going to explode presently, and staring at it upside down, was to be left--"_left_, mind you, Mrs. Flanagan--with the apothecary--Mr. Flint--at the nearest corner--and he will give you some things, which you are to bring here." But she had shuffled off at last with a confident, "Yis, sur--aw, I knoo," her head nodding satisfied assent, and her big thumb covering the note on the margin, "Charge to Dr. C. Renton, Bowdoin Street," (which, _I_ know, could not keep it from the eyes of the angels!) and he sat down to await her return.
"Mrs. Miller," he said, kindly, "don't be alarmed about your child. She is doing well; and, after you have given her the medicine Mrs. Flanagan will bring, you'll find her much better, to-morrow. She must be kept cool and quiet, you know, and she'll be all right soon."
"O Dr. Renton, I am very grateful," was the tremulous reply; "and we will follow all directions, sir. It is hard to keep her quiet, sir; we keep as still as we can, and the other children are very still; but the street is very noisy all the daytime and evening, sir, and--"
"I know it, Mrs. Miller. And I'm afraid those people down stairs disturb you somewhat."
"They make some stir in the evening, sir; and it's rather loud in the street sometimes, at night. The folks on the lower floors are troubled a good deal, they say."
Well they may be. Listen to the bawling outside, now, cold as it is. Hark! A hoarse group on the opposite sidewalk beginning a song,--"Ro-o-l on, sil-ver mo-o-n--" The silver moon ceases to roll in a sudden explosion of yells and laughter, sending up broken fragments of curses, ribald jeers, whoopings, and cat-calls, high into the night air. "Ga-l-a-ng! Hi-hi! What ye-e-h _'bout_!"
"This is outrageous, Mrs. Miller. Where's the watchman?"
She smiled faintly; "He takes one of them off occasionally, sir; but he's afraid; they beat him sometimes." A long pause.
"Isn't your room rather cold, Mrs. Miller?" He glanced at the black stove, dimly seen in the outer room. "It is necessary to keep the rooms cool just now, but this air seems to me cold."
Receiving no answer, he looked at her, and saw the sad truth in her averted face.
"I beg your pardon," he said quickly, flushing to the roots of his hair. "I might have known, after what you said to me this evening."