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Stories of Mystery edited by Rossiter Johnson


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Stories of Mystery edited by Rossiter Johnson

The red glow on his face went out, with this exclamation, in a pallor like marble, and he jerked back the note to his starting eyes. Globe Bank--Boston--Fifty Dollars. For a minute he gazed at the motionless bill in his hand. Then, with his hueless lips compressed, he seized the blank letter from his astonished tenant, and looked at it, turning it over and over. Grained letter-paper--gilt-edged--with a favorite perfume in it. Where's Mrs. Flanagan? Outside the door, sitting on the top of the stairs, with her apron over her head, crying. Mrs. Flanagan! Here! In she tumbled, her big feet kicking her skirts before her, and her eyes and face as red as a beet.

"Mrs. Flanagan, what kind of a looking man gave you this letter at the door to-night?"

"A-w, Docther Rinton, dawn't ax me!--Bother, an' all, an' sure an' I cudn't see him wud his fur-r hat, an' he a-ll boondled oop wud his co-at oop on his e-ars, an' his big han'kershuf smotherin' thuh mouth uv him, an' sorra a bit uv him tuh be looked at, sehvin' thuh poomple on thuh ind uv his naws."

"The _what_ on the end of his nose?"

"Thuh poomple, sur."

"What does she mean, Mrs. Miller?" said the puzzled questioner, turning to his tenant.

"I don't know, sir, indeed," was the reply. "She said that to me, and I couldn't understand her."

"It's thuh poomple, docther. Dawn't ye knoo? Thuh big, flehmin poomple oop there." She indicated the locality, by flattening the rude tip of her own nose with her broad forefinger.

"Oh! the pimple! I have it." So he had. Netty, Netty!

He said nothing, but sat down in a chair, with his bold, white brow knitted, and the warm tears in his dark eyes.

"You know who sent it, sir, don't you?" asked his wondering tenant, catching the meaning of all this.

"Mrs. Miller, I do. But I cannot tell you. Take it, now, and use it. It is doubly yours. There. Thank you."

She had taken it with an emotion in her face that gave a quicker motion to his throbbing heart. He rose to his feet, hat in hand, and turned away. The noise of a passing group of roysterers in the street without came strangely loud into the silence of that room.

"Good night, Mrs. Miller. I'll be here in the morning. Good night."

"Good night, sir. God bless you, sir!"

He turned around quickly. The warm tears in his dark eyes had flowed on his face, which was pale; and his firm lip quivered.

"I hope He will, Mrs. Miller,--I hope He will. It should have been said oftener."

He was on the outer threshold. Mrs. Flanagan had, somehow, got there before him, with a lamp, and he followed her down through the dancing shadows, with blurred eyes. On the lower landing he stopped to hear the jar of some noisy wrangle, thick with oaths, from the bar-room. He listened for a moment, and then turned to the staring stupor of Mrs. Flanagan's rugged visage.

"Sure, they're at ut, docther, wud a wull," she said, smiling.

"Yes. Mrs. Flanagan, you'll stay up with Mrs. Miller to-night, won't you?"

"Dade an' I wull, sur."

"That's right. Do. And make her try and sleep, for she must be tired. Keep up a fire,--not too warm, you understand. There'll be wood and coal coming to-morrow, and she'll pay you back."

"A-w, docther, dawn't noo!"

"Well, well. And--look here; have you got anything to eat in the house? Yes; well, take it up stairs. Wake up those two boys, and give them something to eat. Don't let Mrs. Miller stop you. Make her eat something. Tell her I said she must. And, first of all, get your bonnet, and go to that apothecary's,--Flint's,--for a bottle of port wine, for Mrs. Miller. Hold on. There's the order." (He had a leaf out of his pocket-book in a minute, and wrote it down.) "Go with this the first thing. Ring Flint's bell, and he'll wake up. And here's something for your own Christmas dinner, to-morrow." Out of the roll of bills he drew one of the tens--Globe Bank--Boston--and gave it to Mrs. Flanagan.