Puslapio vaizdai


unexpected blow during the winter, “We can wait a minute. The chimwhen, instead of the frail mother, the ney 's too hot to touch, and I have n't children had been taken. Dr. Larabee another.” She paused, but not long had caught himself wondering many a enough for him to answer her. "It 's time what effect this would have upon a strange kind of night, and I 'm thinkDennis. His silence now proved the ing Dennis will be all upset with this very stimulus that Agnes needed to weather. He has a terrible fear of the encourage her to further confidences. wind, and it 's queer, but you don't

"He just comes home and sits and sits, know how the wind blew that night the and never a word does he read, and he children-left us. Both of them the does n't whistle, either, the old way he same night, Doctor." used. By the lamp—there where you "I know," he said gently. Her face are now-he sits and thinks and he

was wan in the dimness, and he could hardly moves the evening long. It 's faintly distinguish her white, clutching terrible."

hands, busy with her dress. Dr. Larabee knew that Agnes

“That night Dennis was the worst. visualizing her husband's presence as He almost forgot that we both had the she had described it, for her hollow eyes right to take it hard, and one of the took on the expression they had worn things he said was, 'I'll never travel when he had first encountered her that cursed road again. He never did. watching for Dennis's car. He knew He made them give him another run, that he must make light of this change and now I can see his car each night as in her husband at least until it could be he comes around the hill. He always explained. Agnes must not be allowed seems to know if I 'm watching him." to go on in such a fashion. Her peace You mean he never made his old of mind was of too much importance. run after that night last winter when

"Don't let Dennis's thinking disturb you lost the children?" you," he said lightly. “He was never "Never again. And he will not tell a reader, as you were. And perhaps me why. That's the worst of it, he 's too tired to work. You 've both Doctor. I 'm out of it all. He won't had a hard time this winter.” His talk, and he's that restless in the night voice softened on these last words. that I can't sleep for thinking of him,

"It was that made him worse," she and always when his eyes are open, said, her eyes dry and very bright, while there's the awful waitin' look in them." her thin hands groped at the buttons on She rose suddenly to her feet. "The the front of her dress, “but he was chimney 's cold," she said in a different started long before that, Doctor."

voice. “I should not be telling you A gust of wind swept suddenly through this. I hope you 'll find the lodge to the room, and the yellow light of the suit you, Doctor, although it 's little kerosene lamp flared and flickered care the place has had of late." wildly. Agnes did not appear to notice it. He took his cue from her and rose,

“Could you tell me a little more clearly too. She struck a match, and the light what you mean?The doctor's voice came sullenly up, breathing out obnoxwas calm and even. The light gasped ious fumes, which pushed their way once and then readjusted itself, but the through the fragrance of the pines and soft, fragrant breeze still lifted and filled the little room. sucked the curtains at the window. The "I_'ll come down again to-morrow. vibrant, palpitating mountain darkness Tell Dennis for me to be of good cheer. looked in upon them curiously from under I can fix him up." the lifted curtains. The pine-trees drew She leaned her head against the wall, one long sighing breath all together, without moving from where she stood. and seemed to bend toward the house, "Thank you, Doctor," she said. and then the wind came, and the light, Feeling pitifully helpless and inadewithout warning, went out.

quate, he stepped out on the soft, pineThe doctor half rose to his feet, but strewn path. There was a line between Agnes's voice stayed him like an out- his eyes and a tightening of his lips as he stretched hand.

strode off toward the lodge. Agnes



"Agnes's voice stayed him like an outstretched hand. 'We can wait a minute. The chimney 's too hot to

touch, and I have n't another.'"



Throop was dying. There

they could not pay, she had claimed, doubt of that, and all the medical skill and they had settled in the little house in in the world could not save her. He the valley. Agnes had been quite confound himself wondering if the village tent, saying fondly that Dennis would doctor had carefully followed all his fix it all up till it was like a story-book directions even while he acknowledged cottage, and they would n't be there that nothing could have been done. long, anyhow. The valley was conven

The fact that all was not well with iently near the car-barn where Dennis Dennis troubled the doctor, too. Old must go each day, for he had taken a Dennis, Throop's father, had been position as motorman on the "Twenty

“ caretaker for the lodge since Jack Lara- Mile Circuit" Berkshire trolley road. bee could remember, and the two boys The house was also near enough to the had played together long before the pine-grove on the side hill, so that it city called them both. Dennis, true was no task for Agnes, having sent the to his class, had been the first to marry, children off to school, to climb the bringing his frail, city-bred wife to the gentle slope to Castle Mountain, where hills for their honeymoon. After that she rested and read through the long Larabee had gone to the war and lost balmy days. track of both of them. A year before Larabee shook his head as he reflected Jack had come back, and had looked in that Agnes could not climb Castle on the little city flat where Dennis and Mountain now or any of the other hills his wife were established. It was then that marched boldly down to the glen that he had sent them up into the pines where she and Dennis lived. Somein Dennis's own boyhood hills, with a thing must be done. warning to Throop to watch over his He reproached himself that he had wife with special care. She had been not watched her lately, but his travels too proud to take the lodge, for which had taken him far from New England, and Dennis had never been a hand to became slightly overdone at this last write letters. The care of the lodge, statement, but Larabee was busy with given over to the Throops at Dennis's his key and did not look up. earnest request, when his father had “Just like old times when we used to died the year before, had probably snoop around here, trying to think up proved more of a burden than a help, something to worry our fathers with.”

” for even liberal pay for slight work in Jack laughed as he flung open the big door, the house and grounds could not com- and the two stepped rather cautiously pensate Agnes for the pain that any into the inky blackness of the hall. exertion would bring her. And then, Dennis showed no nervousness as he seeking out victims even in the hills, went about finding matches and lighting had come the dread pneumonia, which lamps and fires. He had not the air of had taken from the Throops their two a man for whom dark corridors or longchildren. No wonder Dennis was un- closed rooms hold any terrors. Larabee like himself.

felt relieved as he saw the familiar form Larabee walked thoughtfully in at disappear up the big staircase to get his the lodge gate and up the avenue under rooms ready. At least the trouble with the bending pines. The stars were Dennis was not ordinary nerves, Jack thick in the stretch of blue above his told himself as he lit a cigarette, and head, and a late full moon was rising drew up two arm-chairs to the cheery over Sky Hill, struggling through white blaze of the living-room fire. wind clouds, which appeared racing to But when Dennis reappeared and aid one another in dimming all the Larabee had a chance to get a good look eastern stars.

at his face, he saw that it was lined with Jack Larabee walked more slowly, new marks. Dennis sat rather lumpily breathing in the soft, fresh air laden in his chair, neither erect, nor leaning with the scent of the pines, and listening back, but rather huddled, as if he had intently when a strange far-off gust no desire for comfort. His blue motorswept through the tree-tops above him, man's uniform wrinkled grotesquely as and then descended angrily, as if to he lounged, and the brass buttons push him from his own door and force gleamed in the firelight. Dennis's eyes, him back down the avenue again. fixed nowhere in particular, had the Almost breathless after one of these look that Agnes had described, and encounters, he reached the outer door instantly her words came back to Laraof the lodge; but he heard footsteps bee, for she had described it well. “An behind him, and turned to see a large, awful waitin' look," she had said, and loose-jointed form swinging up the it was there beyond doubt. The gaiety walk, shoulders stooped a little, head in the frank Irish eyes was gone, and the bent slightly forward and a trifle to one quick smile that Larabee remembered side, that surest symptom of taut, had become slow and forced. consciously governed nerves not yet "How long are you stayin' here, entirely beyond the control of their Doctor?" He fixed his eyes on the owner.

corner above Jack's head as he spoke. Larabee waited, and then walked “Just a day or two. Why?" For back a few steps.

Dennis Throop had suddenly brought "Well, hello, old Dennis,” he said his eyes down to meet the doctor's, and cordially, slapping the tall fellow on the they were dark with baffled desire. back, and gripping his hand. “You 're “Oh, nothin'. That is, it 's nothin' a brick to look me up at this time of that matters.” night. Come into the lodge with me "Oh, go on, Dennis," urged Larabee, and have a smoke.”

as he used to tease when they were boys. To Larabee's surprise, Dennis an- "I was just thinkin' of askin' your swered quite naturally:

help, that 's all." "I don't care if I do. Agnes knows "Ask it,” Larabee replied promptly, where I am and she won't worry for a throwing his cigarette into the fire and while. She seemed real glad I was turning frankly around till he faced comin'." The naturalness of his voice Throop.




"No; two days is n't enough," the man mused to himself. “Enough to let you see if you see it, though,” he went on, his voice sinking to a whisper, “or if I'm crazy. I have n't told Agnes. She 's had enough, poor girl, without worrying about me, too."

"What do you think you see?” Larabee's voice was reassuring. “We often have patients that are troubled by illusions. That's nothing to go to pieces over, man."

“It 's not, eh? My God, Doctor, not with the man standin' there lookin' at me from under that dirty blue cap and me never knowin' when the crazy fool will take it off and wave it at me?"

"Oh," said the doctor, speaking easily and reaching for another cigarette. Go ahead with the rest of it, Dennis. Out with it. Where is the man? How often does he appear?"

The blood slowly receded from, Throop's face, leaving it gray white. His eyes, as they gazed straight ahead, became fixed, and his mouth loosened and sagged with fear. By an effort he raised himself from his chair, knocked the ashes from his pipe, against the andirons, and stood in front of the fire, an awkward figure, his hands crossed behind his back.

As he stood his gaze was fixed on the door leading into the hall, just in back of the doctor's chair. There was sudden dropping of Throop's lower jaw, an audible catching of the breath, his hands unclasped from behind his back and clenched at each side, and finally he blinked and then closed his eyes for a minute as if to shut out the vision.

Larabee felt a little prickling of his spine as he sat watching the fear on Dennis's face. The room, warm and light, seemed as usual, but the wind was wailing as it tugged at shutters and blinds, and the trees creaked as if they were being tortured. Larabee spoke with an effort.

"Dennis, talking about a thing does n't make it any worse.

Can't you get ahead and tell us about it?” The speech made action easier, and he was able to cross his leg with unconcern and blow a cloud of smoke from his cigarette. All the while Dennis was slowly getting control of himself.

"That 's the first time,” he muttered, as if he were alone,-—“that 's the first time he ever came when I was n't on the car." He stood more erectly. His pipe was empty, and the hand that held it trembled visibly. He looked down at Larabee and then moved toward his own chair, pulling it around a bit so that he partly faced the door.

You did n't see the rays from a bit of a red light, did you now?” he asked almost apologetically as he let himself down into the chair.

"Not a glimmer," answered Larabee, cheerfully. "How long have you been this way, old man?”'

Dennis made a ghastly attempt to smile.

"I 'm all right now," he said almost in whisper, “but that unexpected one. I could n't get my bearin's for a minute."

“You mean that you saw a man or something right here now?" Larabee gestured with obvious unconcern.

“Yes, Doctor. I guess I 'm clean daft. Unless it means- he started up again. His face twisted, and he looked as if he were about to whimper. "He came that way the night the children died, wavin' a red light, he was, as real as if I could touch him. And I went home, and they were gone, both

He looked around little wildly. "I


I'll have to go, Doctor. You he don't always mean somethin', but he did then, and he 's never been in a house, like just now, before to-night. Always on the track, three times since he 's been on the track, and maybe maybe” His voice broke, and a tear rolled down his thin, brown cheek. You don't mind my goin' like this, do you, Doctor?'

"I certainly do. You are my patient for the next few minutes. You've got to pull yourself together before you go home, and I 've got to know more about it. You are going to drink what I give you and do as I tell you."

Dr. Larabee no longer held his cigarette. He was on his feet, opening the door into a wall closet, where he busied himsel with a glass and some bottles. When he turned to Dennis Throop he found the man watching him with a curiously humbled expression, as





and you

if against his will he was obeying some stop. There was a kind of jolt when one whose authority he dared not the front wheels went over his body, contradict.

We only had two passengers, and they Under the influence of his drink, he were strangers from the village inn. leaned back more easily in his chair, Watters was on as conductor, and he and then the doctor, pulling his own up never came forward at all, just stared close, began in a serious, matter-of-fact at me through the door and then rang voice.

his damned bell. I had got out of the “This is very grave, Dennis. Your car by this time and motioned for him condition needs attention,

to come around outside; so he did, still need n't be ashamed to ask for it. I lookin' blank and puzzled. I thought want to know as soon as you can tell he 'd help me lift the car off the man, me before you go back to Agnes what but as I stooped down by the side of it is that you are seeing. It 's a man the fender-1_there was n't anything with a red light. Is that so?"

there." Dennis nodded. He pas

He passed his hand Larabee did not answer for a minute, over his forehead, and it came away then he said evenly: wet. But with his blue bandana he “That was jolly lucky for you, old mopped his head courageously and chap. I should think you'd rather began to speak. He tried this time to keep Watters guessing than get into keep his eyes on the doctor.

court for manslaughter." “A year ago in September,” he began, "I don't know, Doctor. There's "I ran over a man.” He paused, but worse things than court, I guess. Larabee made no sound.

Watters looked at me as if he thought I The fire crackled pleasantly, and the was somebody else, and I said, 'He doctor leaned to one side, and turned did n't roll under the car at all. He down the wick of the lamp a trifle. must have gone up the other bankin'.' Then he said:

‘Who?' said Watters, and he still looked "All right. Go on, Throop."

at me. 'Why, the man in the blue “I ran over a man," repeated Throop. overalls that was wavin' his cap from “It was the first run I made after Agnes the top of the cuttin'.' And then got better of a bad attack, and I was a Watters said: “There was n't any man fool for lack of sleep. I was just in blue overalls. You must be drunk or runnin' down South Bear Slope, past crazy. And I was n't drunk, Jack." one of those little platform stops. The old boyhood name slipped out They call it “Stop Six,' and there was no with unconscious familiarity as Dennis one at the station, so I did n't let up leaned toward his friend. any on speed. There 's a steep bank Go ahead," said Larabee. comes down there on either side just “I saw the man afterward, and that before you get to the stop, and yet sort of convinced me that I was n't such there 's enough of a curve so you can a fool, after all. Not a month later he see the platform before you get out of was waiting at Stop Six to get on, just the cutting. Just as we were comin' like any other passenger. It was the through-"

five o'clock run, and the car was full. Throop's voice became very even and I did n't look back, but when Watters unemotional; he was evidently trying rang the bell after I stopped, I went to impress the doctor with his poise ahead as

ahead as usual. Afterward I joked “Just as we were comin' through, a man him about it. We were comin' out of in a blue workman's blouse and a pair the car barn together that night. 'Well, of blue overalls came up over the top of now will you believe that there 's such a the bankin' a little way ahead, and man as my friend in the blue overalls?' waved his cap at me. Then he began

I asked him. And he gave me one of to come down. You never saw such those looks again. “What are you speed in your life, Doctor. He took a gettin' at?' he asked me back. 'I 'm sideways path right in front of the car, gettin' at the fact that I took on my and the thing was over in a second. workman friend at Stop Six to-night.' I put on the brakes, and we came to a “So that 's what you held us up there

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