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Title: Wanted—A Match Maker
Author: Ford, Paul Leicester, 1865-1902
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Wanted—A Match Maker" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

Wanted - A Matchmaker

Paul Leicester Ford

[Illustration: "'Why, Swot,' cried Constance, 'nobody is going to
kill you'"]


Wanted: A Match-Maker



                          Bond and Edith Thomas

                      as a Record of Our Friendship


"'Why, Swot,' cried Constance, 'nobody is going to kill you'"

"Miss Durant sprang out and lifted the head gently"

"Constance took the seat at the bedside"

"'I have come here--I have intruded on you, Miss Durant,' hurriedly began
the doctor"

"The two were quickly seated on the floor"

Wanted: A Match-Maker

"You understand, Josie, that I wouldn't for a moment wish Constance to
marry without being in love, but--"

Mrs. Durant hesitated long enough to convey the inference that she was
unfeminine enough to place a value on her own words, and then, the pause
having led to a change, or, at least, modification of what had almost
found utterance, she continued, with a touch of petulance which suggested
that the general principle had in the mind of the speaker a special
application, "It is certainly a great pity that the modern girl should be
so unimpressionable!"

"I understand and sympathise with you perfectly, dear," consolingly
acceded Mrs. Ferguson. "And Constance has such advantages!"

Quite unnoting that her friend replied to her thought rather than to her
words, Mrs. Durant responded at once eagerly, yet defensively: "That is
it. No one will deny that Muriel is quite Constance's equal in mind, and,
though perhaps I am not the one to say it, Doris surely excels her in
looks. Don't you think so, darling?" she added.

"Unquestionably," agreed the friend, with much the quality of firm
promptness with which one would bolt a nauseous pill, or extrude an ailing

"Yet merely because Constance has been out so much longer, and therefore
is much more experienced, she self--she monopolises the attentions of the
men; you know she does, Josie."

"Absolutely," once more concurred Mrs. Ferguson; and this time, though she
spoke less quickly, her tone carried greater conviction. "They
are--well--she--she undoubtedly--that is, she contrives--somehow--to
eclipse, or at least overshadow them."

"Exactly. I don't like to think that she manages--but whether she does or
not, the results are as bad as if she did; and thoughtlessness--if it is
only that, which I can't believe--is quite as blamable as--as more
intentional scheming."

"Then of course," said Mrs. Ferguson, "every one knows about her mother's
fortune--and men are so mercenary in these days."

"Oh, Josie, I don't like to speak of that myself, but it is such a relief
to have you say it. That is the whole trouble. What sort of a chance have
my poor dears, who will inherit so little compared to her wealth, and that
not till--till we are through with it--against Constance? I call it really
shameful of her to keep on standing in their light!"

"Have you--Couldn't you let her see--drop a hint--of the unconscious
injury she is--"

"That is the cruelty of my position," moaned Mrs. Durant. "I should not
hesitate a moment, but the world is so ill-natured about stepmothers that
one has to be over-careful, and with daughters of my own, I'm afraid
people--perhaps my own husband--would think I was trying to sacrifice her
to them."

"But have you no friend you could ask to--?"

"Josie! Would you?" eagerly interrupted Mrs. Durant. "She will be
influenced, I know, by anything you--"

"Gracious, my dear, I never dreamed of--of you asking me! Why, I don't
know her in the least. I couldn't, really."

"But for my sake? And you know her as well as--as any one else; for
Constance has no intimates or--"

"Don't you see that's it? I'd as soon think of--of--From me she would only
take it as an impertinence."

"I don't see why everybody stands so in awe of a girl of twenty-three,
unless it's because she's rich," querulously sighed Mrs. Durant.

"I don't think it's that, Anne. It's her proud face and reserved manner.
And I believe those are the real reasons for her not marrying. However
much men may admire her, they--they--Well, it's your kittenish, cuddling
kind of a girl they marry."

"No; you are entirely wrong. Doubtless it is her money, but Constance has
had plenty of admirers, and if she were less self--if she considered the
interests of the family--she would have married years ago. But she is
wholly blind to her duty, and checks or rebuffs every man who attempts to
show her devotion. And just because others take their places, she is
puffed up into the belief that she is to go through life with an
everlasting train of would-be suitors, and so enjoys her own triumph, with
never a thought of my girls."

"Why not ask her father to speak to her?"

"My dear! As if I hadn't, a dozen times at the least,"

"And what does he say?"

"That Constance shows her sense by not caring for the men _I_ invite to
the house! As if _I_ could help it! Of course with three girls in the
house one must cultivate dancing-men, and it's very unfair to blame me if
they aren't all one could wish."

"I thought Constance gave up going to dances last winter?"

"She did, but still I must ask them to my dinners, for if I don't they
won't show Muriel and Doris attention. Mr. Durant should realise that I
only do it for their sakes; yet to listen to him you'd suppose it was my
duty to close my doors to dancing-men, and spend my time seeking out the
kind one never hears of--who certainly don't know how to dance, and who
would either not talk at my dinners, or would lecture upon one subject to
the whole table--just because they are what he calls 'purposeful men.'"

"He probably recognises that the society man is not a marrying species,
while the other is."

"But there are several who would marry Constance in a minute if she'd only
give any one of them the smallest encouragement; and that's what I mean
when I complain of her being so unimpressionable. Muriel and Doris like
our set of men well enough, and I don't see what right she has to be so

Mrs. Ferguson rose and began the adjustment of her wrap, while saying, "It
seems to me there is but one thing for you to do, Anne."

"What?" eagerly questioned Mrs. Durant.

"Indulge in a little judicious matchmaking," suggested the friend, as she
held out her hand.

"It's utterly useless, Josie. I've tried again and again, and every time
have only done harm."


"She won't--she is so suspicious. Now, last winter, Weston Curtis was
sending her flowers and--and, oh, all that sort of thing, and so I invited
him to dinner several times, and always put him next Constance, and tried
to help him in other ways, until she--well, what do you think that girl

Mrs. Ferguson's interest led her to drop her outstretched hand. "Requested
you not to?" she asked.

"Not one word did she have the grace to say to me, Josie, but she wrote to
him, and asked him not to send her any more flowers! Just think of it."

"Then that's why he went to India."

"Yes. Of course if she had come and told me she didn't care for him, I
never would have kept on inviting him; but she is so secretive it is
impossible to tell what she is thinking about. I never dreamed that she
was conscious that I was trying to--to help her; and I have always been so
discreet that I think she never would have been if Mr. Durant hadn't begun
to joke about it. Only guess, darling, what he said to me once right
before her, just as I thought I was getting her interested in young

"I can't imagine."

"Oh, it was some of his Wall Street talk about promoters of trusts always
securing options on the properties to be taken in, before attempting a
consolidation, or something of that sort. I shouldn't have known what he
meant if the boys hadn't laughed and looked at Constance. And then Jack
made matters worse by saying that my interest would be satisfied with
common stock, but Constance would only accept preferred for hers. Men do
blurt things out so--and yet they assert that we women haven't tongue
discretion. No, dear, with them about it's perfectly useless for me to do
so much as lift a finger to marry Constance off, let alone her own
naturally distrustful nature."

"Well, then, can't you get some one to do it for you--some friend of

"I don't believe there is a person in the world who could influence
Constance as regards marriage," moaned Mrs. Durant. "Don't think that I
want to sacrifice her, dear; but she really isn't happy
herself--for--well--she is a stepdaughter, you know--and so can never
quite be the same in the family life; and now that she has tired of
society, she really doesn't find enough to do to keep busy. Constance
wanted to go into the Settlement work, but her father wouldn't hear of
it--and really, Josie, every one would be happier and better if she only
would marry--"

"I beg your pardon for interrupting you, mama. I thought you were alone,"
came a voice from the doorway. "How do you do, Mrs. Ferguson?"

"Oh!" ejaculated both ladies, as they looked up, to find standing in the
doorway a handsome girl, with clear-cut patrician features, and an erect
carriage which gave her an air of marked distinction.

"I only stopped to ask about the errand you asked me to do when I went
out," explained the girl, quietly, as the two women hunted for something
to say.

"Oh. Yes. Thank you for remembering, darling," stammered Mrs. Durant,
finding her voice at last. "Won't you please order a bunch of something
sent to Miss Porter--and--and--I'll be very much obliged if you'll attend
to it, Constance, my dear."

The girl merely nodded her head as she disappeared, but neither woman
spoke till the front door was heard to close, when Mrs. Durant exclaimed,
"How long had she been standing there?"

"I don't know."

"I hope she didn't hear!"

"I don't think she could have, or she would have shown it more,"

"That doesn't mean anything. She never shows anything outwardly. And
really, though I wouldn't purposely have said it to her, I'm not sure that
I hope she didn't hear it--for--well, I do wish some one would give her
just such advice."

"My dear, it isn't a case for advice; it's a case for match-making,"
reiterated Mrs. Ferguson, as she once more held out her hand.

Meanwhile Miss Durant thoughtfully went down the steps to her carriage, so
abstracted from what she was doing that after the footman tucked the fur
robe about her feet, he stood waiting for his orders; and finally,
realising his mistress's unconsciousness, touched his hat and asked,--

"Where to, Miss Constance?"

With a slight start the girl came back from her meditations, and, after a
moment's hesitation, gave a direction. Then, as the man mounted to his
seat and the brougham started, the girl's face, which had hitherto been
pale, suddenly flushed, and she leaned back in the carriage, so that no
one should see her wipe her eyes with her handkerchief.

"I do wish," she murmured, with a slight break in her voice, "that at
least mama wouldn't talk about it to outsiders. I--I'd marry to-morrow,
just to escape it all--if--if--a loveless marriage wasn't even worse." The
girl shivered slightly, and laid her head against the cushioned side, as
if weary.

She was still so busy with her thoughts that she failed to notice when the
brougham stopped at the florist's, and once more was only recalled to
concrete concerns by the footman opening the door. The ordering of some
flowers for a débutante evidently steadied her and allowed her to regain
self-control, for she drove in succession to the jeweller's to select a
wedding gift, and to the dressmaker's for a fitting, at each place giving
the closest attention to the matter in hand. These nominal duties, but in
truth pleasures, concluded, nominal pleasures, but in truth duties,
succeeded them, and the carriage halted at four houses long enough to
ascertain that the especial objects of Miss Durant's visits "begged to be
excused," or were "not at home," each of which pieces of information, or,
to speak more correctly, the handing in by the footman, in response to the
information, of her card or cards, drew forth an unmistakable sigh of
relief from that young lady. Evidently Miss Durant was bored by people,
and this to those experienced in the world should be proof that Miss
Durant was, in fact, badly bored by herself.

One consequence of her escape, however, was that the girl remained with an
hour which must be got through with in some manner, and so, in a voice
totally without desire or eagerness, she said, "The Park, Wallace;" and in
the Park some fifty minutes were spent, her greatest variation from the
monotony of the wonted and familiar roads being an occasional nod of the
head to people driving or riding, with a glance at those with each, or at
the costumes they wore.

It was with a distinct note of anticipation in her voice, therefore, that
Miss Durant finally ordered, "Home, now, Murdock;" and, if the truth were
to be told, the chill in her hands and feet, due to the keen November
cold, with a mental picture of the blazing wood fire of her own room, and
of the cup of tea that would be drank in front of it, was producing almost
the first pleasurable prospect of the day to her.

Seemingly the coachman was as eager to be in-doors as his mistress, for he
whipped up the horses, and the carriage was quickly crossing the plaza and
speeding down the avenue. Though the street was crowded with vehicles and
pedestrians, the growing darkness put an end to Miss Durant's nods of
recognition, and she leaned back, once more buried in her own thoughts.

At Forty-second Street she was sharply recalled from whatever her mind was
dwelling upon by a sudden jar, due to the checking of the carriage, and
simultaneously with it came the sound of crashing of glass and splintering
of wood. So abrupt was the halt that Miss Durant was pitched forward, and
as she put out her hand to save herself from being thrown into the bottom
of the brougham, she caught a moment's glimpse of a ragged boy close
beside her window, and heard, even above the hurly-burly of the pack of
carriages and street-crossers, his shrill cry,--

"Extry _Woild_'r _Joinal_. Terrible--"

There the words ended, for the distraught horses shied backwards and
sideways, and the fore wheel, swung outwards by the sharp turn, struck the
little fellow and threw him down. Miss Durant attempted a warning cry, but
it was too late; and even as it rang out, the carriage gave a jolt and
then a jar as it passed over the body. Instantly came a dozen warning
shouts and shrieks and curses, and the horses reared and plunged wildly,
with the new fright of something under their feet.

White with terror, the girl caught at the handle, but she did no more than
throw open the door, for, as if they sprang from the ground, a crowd of
men were pressing about the brougham. All was confusion for a moment; then
the tangle of vehicles seemed to open out and the mob of people,
struggling and gesticulating, fell back before a policeman while another,
aided by some one, caught the heads of the two horses, just as the footman
drew out from under their feet into the cleared space something which
looked like a bundle of rags and newspapers.

Thinking of nothing save that limp little body, Miss Durant sprang out,
and kneeling beside it, lifted the head gently into her lap, and smoothed
back from the pallid face the unkempt hair. "He isn't dead, Wallace?" she
gasped out.

"I don't think he is, Miss Constance, though he looks like he was bad
hurt. An', indeed, Miss Constance, it wasn't Murdock's fault. The coupé
backed right into our pole without--"

"Here," interrupted a man's voice from the circle of spectators, "give him
this;" and some one handed to the girl the cup of a flask half full of
brandy. Dipping her fingers into it, she rubbed them across the mouth and
forehead; then, raising the head with one of her arms, she parted the lips
and poured a few drops between them.

"Now, mum," suggested the policeman. "Just you let go of it, and we'll
lift it to where it can stay till the ambulance gets here."

"Oh, don't," begged Miss Durant. "He shouldn't be moved until--"

"Like as not it'll take ten minutes to get it here, and we can't let the
street stay blocked like this."

"Ten minutes!" exclaimed the girl. "Isn't it possible--We must get help
sooner, or he--" She broke in upon her own words, "Lift him into my
carriage, and I'll take him to the hospital."

"Can't let you, miss," spoke up a police sergeant, who meantime had forced
his way through the crowd. "Your coachman's got to stay and answer for

"He shall, but not now," protested Miss Durant. "I will be responsible for
him. Wallace, give them one of my cards from the case in the carriage."

[Illustration: "Miss Durant sprang out and lifted the head gently"]

The officer took the bit of pasteboard and looked at it. "That's all
right, miss," he said. "Here, Casey, together now and easy."

The two big men in uniform lifted the urchin as if he were without weight,
and laid him as gently as might be on the seat of the brougham. This done,
the roundsman dropped the small front seat, helped Miss Durant in, and
once she was seated upon it, took his place beside her. The sergeant
closed the door, gave an order to the coachman, and, wheeling about, the
carriage turned up the avenue, followed by the eyes of the crowd and by a
trail of the more curious.

"Better give it another swig, mum," counselled her companion; and the
girl, going on her knees, raised the head, and administered a second
swallow of the brandy. She did not resume her seat, but kept her arm about
the boy, in an attempt to render his position easier. It was a wizened,
pinched little face she gazed down at, and now the mouth was drawn as if
there was physical suffering, even in the unconsciousness. Neither head
nor hands had apparently ever known soap, but the dirt only gave
picturesqueness, and, indeed, to Miss Durant an added pathos; and the
tears came into her eyes as she noted that under the ragged coat was only
a flimsy cotton shirt, so bereft of buttons that the whole chest was
exposed to the cold which but a little while before the girl, clad in furs
and sheltered by the carriage, had yet found so nipping. She raised her
free hand and laid it gently on the exposed breast, and slightly shivered
as she felt how little warmth there was.

"Please put the fur rug over him," she requested; and her companion pulled
it from under their feet, and laid it over the coiled-up legs and body.

The weight, or the second dose of the stimulant, had an effect, for Miss
Durant felt the body quiver, and then the eyes unclosed. At first they
apparently saw nothing, but slowly the dulness left them, and they, and
seemingly the whole face, sharpened into comprehension, and then, as they
fastened on the blue coat of the policeman, into the keenest apprehension.

"Say," he moaned, "I didn't do nuttin', dis time, honest."

"I ain't takin' you to the station-house," denied the officer, colouring
and looking sideways at his companion.

"You were run over, and we are carrying you to where a doctor can see how
much you are hurt," said the gently.

The eyes of the boy turned to hers, and the face lost some of its fright
and suspicion. "Is dat on de level?" he asked, after a moment's scrutiny.
"Youse oin't runnin' me in?"

"No," answered Miss Durant. "We are taking you to the hospital."

"De horspital!" exclaimed the little chap, his eyes brightening. "Is Ise
in de rattler?"

"The what?" asked Constance.

"De rattler," repeated the questioner, "de ding-dong."

"No, you ain't in no ambulance," spoke up the officer. "You're in this
young lady's carriage."

The look of hope and pride faded out of the boy's face. "Ise oin't playin'
in no sorter luck dese days," he sighed. Suddenly the expression of alarm
reappeared in his face. "Wheer's me papes?"

"They're all right. Don't you work yourself up over them," said the
roundsman, heartily.

"Youse didn't let de udder newsies swipe dem, did youse?" the lad appealed

"I'll pay you for every one you lost," offered Constance. "How many did
you have?"

The ragamuffin stared at her for a moment, his face an essence of

"Ah, hell!" he ejaculated. "Wot's dis song an' dance youse givin' us?"

"Really, I will," insisted the girl. She reached back of her and took her
purse from the rack, and as well as she could with her one hand opened it.

The sight of the bills and coin brought doubt to the sceptic. "Say," he
demanded, his eyes burning with avidity, "does youse mean dat? Dere oin't
no crawl in dis?"

"No. How much were they worth?"

The boy hesitated, and scanned her face, as if he were measuring the girl
more than he was his loss. "Dere wuz twinty _Joinals_" he said, speaking
slowly, and his eyes watching her as a cat might a mouse,
"an'--an'--twinty _Woilds_--an'--an' tirty _Telegrams_--an'--an'--" He
drew a fresh breath, as if needing strength, shot an apprehensive glance
at the roundsman, and went on hurriedly, in a lower voice, "an' tirty-five

"Ah, g'long with you," broke in the policeman, disgustedly. "He didn't
have mor'n twenty in all, that I know."

"Hope I may die if Ise didn't have all dem papes, boss," protested the

"You deserve to be run in, that's what you do," asserted the officer of
the law, angrily.

"Oh, don't threaten him," begged Miss Durant.

"Don't you be fooled by him, mum. He ain't the kind as sells _Posts_, an'
if he was, he wouldn't have more'n five."

"It's de gospel trute Ise chuckin' at youse dis time," asserted the

"Gospel Ananias--!" began the officer.

"Never mind," interrupted Miss Durant. "Would ten dollars pay for them

"Ah, I know'd youse wuz tryin' to stuff me," dejectedly exclaimed the boy;
then, in an evident attempt to save his respect for his own acuteness, he
added: "But youse didn't. I seed de goime youse wuz settin' up right from
de start."

Out of the purse Constance, with some difficulty, drew a crisp ten-dollar
bill, the boy watching the one-handed operation half doubtingly and half
eagerly; and when it was finally achieved, at the first movement of her
hand toward him, his arm shot out, and the money was snatched, more than
taken. With the quick motion, however, the look of eagerness and joy
changed to one of agony; he gave a sharp cry, and, despite the grime, the
cheeks whitened perceptibly.

"Oh, please stay quiet," implored Miss Durant. "You mustn't move."

"Hully gee, but dat hurted!" gasped the youngster, yet clinging to the new
wealth. He lay quiet for a few breaths; then, as if he feared the sight of
the bill might in time tempt a change of mind in the giver, he stole the
hand to his trousers pocket and endeavoured to smuggle the money into it,
his teeth set, but his lips trembling, with the pain the movement cost

Not understanding the fear in the boy's mind, Constance put her free hand
down and tried to assist him; but the instant he felt her fingers, his
tightened violently. "Youse guv it me," he wailed. "Didn't she guv it me?"
he appealed desperately to the policeman.

"I'm only trying to help put it in your pocket," explained the girl.

"Ah, chase youseself!" exclaimed the doubter, contemptuously. "Dat don't
go wid me. Nah!"

"What doesn't go?" bewilderedly questioned Miss Durant.

"Wotcher tink youse up aginst? Suttin' easy? Well, I guess not! Youse
don't get youse pickers in me pocket on dat racket."

"She ain't goin' to take none of your money!" asserted the policeman,
indignantly. "Can't you tell a real lady when you see her?"

"Den let her quit tryin' to go tru me," protested the anxious capitalist;
and Constance desisted from her misinterpreted attempt, with a laugh which
died as the little fellow, at last successful in his endeavour to secrete
the money, moaned again at the pain it cost him.

"Shall we never get there?" she demanded impatiently, and, as if an answer
were granted her, the carriage slowed, and turning, passed into a
porte-cochère, in which the shoes of the horses rang out sharply, and

"Stay quiet a bit, mum," advised the policeman, as he got out; and
Constance remained, still supporting the urchin, until two men with a
stretcher appeared, upon which they lifted the little sufferer, who
screamed with pain that even this gentlest of handling cost him.

Her heart wrung with sympathy for him, Miss Durant followed after them
into the reception-ward. At the door she hesitated, in doubt as to whether
it was right or proper for her to follow, till the sight of a nurse
reassured her, and she entered; but her boldness carried her no farther
than to stand quietly while the orderlies set down the litter. Without a
moment's delay the nurse knelt beside the boy, and with her scissors began
slitting up the sleeves of the tattered coat.

"Hey! Wotcher up to?" demanded the waif, suspiciously.

"I'm getting you ready for the doctor," said the nurse, soothingly. "It's
all right."

"Toin't nuttin' of de sort," moaned the boy. "Youse spoilin' me cloes,
an' if youse wuzn't a loidy, you'd get youse face poked in, dat's wot
would happen to youse."

Constance came forward and laid her hand on the little fellow's cheek.
"Don't mind," she said, "and I'll give you a new suit of clothes."

"Wen?" came the quick question.


"Does youse mean dat? Honest? Dere oin't no string to dis?"

"Honest," echoed the girl, heartily.

Reassured, the boy lay quietly while the nurse completed the dismemberment
of the ragged coat, the apology for a shirt, and the bit of twine which
served in lieu of suspenders. But the moment she began on the trousers,
the wail was renewed.

"Quit, I say, or I'll soak de two of youse; see if I don't. Ah, won't
youse--" The words became inarticulate howls which the prayers and
assurances of the two women could not lessen.

"Now, then, stop this noise and tell me what is the matter," ordered a
masculine voice; and turning from the boy, Constance found a tall,
strong-featured man with tired-looking eyes standing at the other side
of the litter.

Hopeful that the diversion might mean assistance, the waif's howls once
more became lingual. "Dey's tryin' to swipe me money, boss," he whined.
"Hope I may die if deys oin't."

"And where is your money?" asked the doctor.

"Wotcher want to know for?" demanded the urchin, with recurrent suspicion
in his face.

"It's in the pocket of his trousers, Dr. Armstrong," said the nurse.

Without the slightest attempt to reassure the boy, the doctor forced loose
the boy's hold on the pocket, and inserting his hand, drew out the
ten-dollar bill and a medley of small coins.

"Now," he said, "I've taken your money, so they can't. Understand?"

The urchin began to snivel.

"Ah, you have no right to be so cruel to him," protested Miss Durant.
"It's perfectly natural. Just think how we would feel if we didn't

The doctor fumbled for his eye-glasses, but not finding them quickly
enough, squinted his eyelids in an endeavour to see the speaker. "And who
are you?" he demanded.

"Why, I am--that is--I am Miss Durant, and--" stuttered the girl.

Not giving her time to finish her speech, Dr. Armstrong asked, "Why are
you here?" while searching for his glasses.

"I did not mean to intrude," explained Constance, flushing, "only it was
my fault, and it hurts me to see him suffer more than seems necessary."

Abandoning the search for his glasses, and apparently unheeding of her
explanation, the doctor began a hasty examination of the now naked boy,
passing his hand over trunk and limbs with a firm touch that paid no heed
to the child's outcries, though each turned the onlooker faint and cold.

Her anxiety presently overcoming the sense of rebuke, the overwrought girl
asked, "He will live, won't he?"

The man straightened up from his examination. "Except for some contusion,"
he replied, "it apparently is only a leg and a couple of ribs broken." His
voice and manner conveyed the idea that legs and ribs were but canes and
corsets. "Take him into the accident ward," he directed to the orderlies,
"and I'll attend to him presently."

"I will not have this boy neglected," Constance said, excitedly and
warmly. "Furthermore, I insist that he receive instant treatment, and not
wait _your_ convenience."

Once again Dr. Armstrong began feeling for his glasses, as he asked, "Are
you connected with this hospital, Miss Durant?"

"No, but it was my carriage ran over him, and--"

"And is it because you ran over the boy, Miss Durant," he interrupted,
"that you think it is your right to come here and issue instructions for
our treatment of him?"

"It is every one's right to see that assistance is given to an injured
person as quickly as possible," retorted the girl, though flushing, "and
to protest if human suffering, perhaps life itself, is made to wait the
convenience of one who is paid to save both."

Finally discovering and adjusting his glasses, Dr. Armstrong eyed Miss
Durant with a quality of imperturbability at once irritating and
embarrassing. "I beg your pardon for the hasty remark I just made," he
apologised. "Not having my second sight at command, I did not realise I
was speaking to so young a girl, and therefore I allowed myself to be
offended, which was foolish. If you choose to go with the patient, I trust
you will satisfy yourself that no one in this hospital is lacking in duty
or kindness."

With a feeling much akin to that she had formerly suffered at the
conclusion of her youthful spankings, Constance followed hurriedly after
the orderlies, only too thankful that a reason had been given her
permitting an escape from those steady eyes and amused accents, which she
was still feeling when the litter was set down beside an empty bed.

"Has dat slob tooken me money for keeps?" whimpered the boy the moment the
orderlies had departed.

"No, no," Constance assured him, her hand in his.

"Den w'y'd he pinch it so quick?"

"He's going to take care of it for you, that's all."

"Will he guv me a wroten pape sayin' dat?"

"See," said the girl, only eager to relieve his anxiety, "here is my
purse, and there is a great deal more money in it than you had, and I'll
leave it with you, and if he doesn't return you your money, why, you shall
have mine."

"Youse cert'in dere's more den Ise had?"

"Certain. Look, here are two tens and three fives and a one, besides some

"Dat's all hunky!" joyfully ejaculated the urchin. "Now, den, wheer kin
we sneak it so he don't git his hooks on it?"

"This is to be your bed, and let's hide it under the pillow," suggested
Constance, feeling as if she were playing a game. "Then you can feel of it
whenever you want."

"Dat's de way to steal a base off 'im," acceded the waif. "We'll show dese
guys wese oin't no bunch of easy grapes."

Scarcely was the purse concealed when a nurse appeared with a pail of
water and rolls of some cloth, and after her came the doctor.

"Now, my boy," he said, with a kindness and gentleness in his voice which
surprised Constance, "I've got to hurt you a little, and let's see how
brave you can be." He took hold of the left leg the ankle and stretched
it, at the same time manipulating the calf with the fingers of his other

The boy gave a cry of pain, and clutched Constance's arm, squeezing it so
as to almost make her scream; but she set her teeth determinedly and took
his other hand in hers.

At a word the nurse grasped the limb and held it as it was placed, while
the doctor took one of the rolls, and, dipping it in the water, unrolled
it round and round the leg, with a rapidity and deftness which had, to
Constance, a quality of fascination in it. A second wet bandage was wound
over the first, then a dry one, and the leg was gently laid back on the
litter. "Take his temperature," ordered the doctor, as he began to apply
strips of adhesive plaster to the injured ribs; and though it required
some persuasion by the nurse and Constance, the invalid finally was
persuaded to let the little glass lie under his tongue. His task
completed, Dr. Armstrong withdrew the tube and glanced at it.

"Dat medicine oin't got much taste, boss," announced the urchin,
cheerfully, "but it soytenly done me lots of good."

The doctor looked up at Constance with a pleasant smile. "There's both the
sense and the nonsense of the Christian Science idiocy," he said; and half
in response to his smile and half in nervous relief, Constance laughed

"I am glad for anything that makes him feel better," she replied; then,
colouring once more, she added, "and will you let me express my regret for
my impulsive words a little while ago, and my thanks to you for relieving
the suffering for which I am, to a certain extent, responsible?"

"There is no necessity for either, Miss Durant, though I am grateful for
both," he replied.

"Will there be much suffering?"

"Probably no more than ordinarily occurs in such simple fractures," said
the doctor; "and we'll certainly do our best that there shall not be."

"And may I see him to-morrow?"

"Certainly, if you come between eleven and one."

"Thank you," said Constance. "And one last favour. Will you tell me the
way to my carriage?"

"If you will permit me, I'll see you to it," offered Dr. Armstrong.

With an acknowledgment of the head, Constance turned and took the boy's
hand and said a good-bye.

"Do you suppose all newsboys are so dreadfully sharp and suspicious?" she
asked of her guide, as they began to descend the stairs, more because she
was conscious that he was eyeing her with steady scrutiny than for any
other reason.

"I suppose the life is closer to that of the wild beast than anything we
have in so-called civilisation. Even a criminal has his pals, but, like
the forest animal, everyone--even his own kind--is an enemy to the street

"It must be terrible to suspect and fear even kindness," sighed the girl,
with a slight shudder. "I shall try to teach him what it means."

"There does not appear to be any carriage here, Miss Durant," announced
her escort.

"Surely there must be. The men can't have been so stupid as not to wait!"

The doctor tapped on the window of the lodge. "Didn't this lady's carriage
remain here?" he asked, when the porter had opened it.

"It stayed till the policeman came down, doctor. He ordered it to go to
the police-station, and got in it."

"I forgot that my coachman must answer for the accident. Is there a
cab-stand near here?"

Dr. Armstrong looked into her eyes, with an amusement which yet did not
entirely obliterate the look of admiration, of which the girl was becoming
more and more conscious. "The denizens of Avenue A have several
cab-stands, of course," he replied, "but they prefer to keep them over
on Fifth Avenue."

"It was a foolish question, I suppose" coldly retorted Constance, quite as
moved thereto by the scrutiny as by the words, "but I did not even notice
where the carriage was driving when we came here. Can you tell me the
nearest car line which will take me to Washington Square?"

"As it is five blocks away, and the neighbourhood is not of the nicest, I
shall take the liberty of walking with you to it."

"Really, I would rather not. I haven't the slightest fear," protested the
girl, eager to escape both the observation and the obligation.

"But I have," calmly said her companion, as if his wish were the only
thing to be considered.

For a moment Miss Durant vacillated, then, with a very slight inclination
of her head, conveying the smallest quantity of consent and acknowledgment
she could express, she walked out of the porte-cochere.

The doctor put himself beside her, and; they turned down the street, but
not one word did she say. "If he will force his society upon me, I will at
least show him my dislike of it," was her thought.

Obviously Dr. Armstrong was not disturbed by Miss Durant's programme, for
the whole distance was walked in silence; and even when they halted on the
corner, he said nothing, though the girl was conscious that his eyes still
studied her face.

"I will not be the first to speak," she vowed to herself; but minute after
minute passed without the slightest attempt or apparent wish on his part,
and finally she asked, "Are you sure this line is running?"

Her attendant pointed up the street. "That yellow light is your car. I
don't know why the intervals are so long this evening. Usually--"

He was interrupted by the girl suddenly clutching at her dress, and then
giving an exclamation of real consternation.

"What is it?" he questioned.

"Why, I--nothing--that is, I think--I prefer to walk home, after all," she

"You mustn't do that. It's over two miles, and through a really rough

"I choose to, none the less," answered Constance, starting across the

"Then you will have to submit to my safeguard for some time longer, Miss
Durant," asserted the doctor, as he overtook her.

Constance stopped. "Dr. Armstrong," she said, "I trust you will not insist
on accompanying me farther, when I tell you I haven't the slightest fear
of anything."

"You have no fear, Miss Durant," he answered, "because you are too young
and inexperienced to even know the possibilities. This is no part of the
city for you to walk alone in after dark. Your wisest course is to take a
car, but if you prefer not, you had best let me go with you."

"I choose not to take a car," replied the girl, warmly, "and you have no
right to accompany me against my wish."

Dr. Armstrong raised his hat. "I beg your pardon. I did not realize that
my presence was not desired," he said.

Angry at both herself and him, Constance merely bowed, and walked on. "I
don't see why men have to torment me so," she thought, as she hurried
along. "His face was really interesting, and if he only wouldn't begin
like--He never would have behaved so if--if I weren't--" Miss Durant
checked even her thoughts from the word "beautiful," and allowed the words
"well dressed" to explain her magnetism to the other sex. Then, as if to
salve her conscience of her own hypocrisy, she added, "It really is an
advantage to a girl, if she doesn't want to be bothered by men, to be born

The truth of her thought was brought home to her with unexpected
suddenness, for as she passed a strip of sidewalk made light by the glare
from a saloon brilliant with gas, a man just coming out of its door stared
boldly, and then joined her.

"Ahem!" he said.

The girl quickened her pace, but the intruder only lengthened his.

"Cold night, isn't it, darling?" he remarked, and tried to take her arm.

Constance shrank away from the familiarity with a loathing and fear which,
as her persecutor followed, drove her to the curb.

"How dare you?" she burst out, finding he was not to be avoided.

"Now don't be silly, and--"

There the sentence ended, for the man was jerked backwards by the collar,
and then shot forward, with a shove, full length into the gutter.

"I feared you would need assistance, Miss Durant, and so took the liberty
of following you at a distance," explained Dr. Armstrong, as the cur
picked himself up and slunk away.

"You are very--Thank you deeply for your kindness, Dr. Armstrong," gasped
the girl, her voice trembling. "I ought to have been guided by your advice
and taken the car, but the truth is, I suddenly remembered--that is, I
happened to be without any money, and was ashamed to ask you for a loan.
Now, if you'll lend me five cents, I shall be most grateful."

"It is said to be a feminine trait never to think of contingencies,"
remarked the doctor, "and I think, Miss Durant, that your suggested five
cents has a tendency in that direction. I will walk with you to Lexington
Avenue, which is now your nearest line, and if you still persist then in
refusing my escort, I shall insist that you become my debtor for at least
a dollar."

"I really need not take you any further than the car, thank you, Dr.
Armstrong, for I can get a cab at Twenty-third Street."

It was a short walk to the car line,--too short, indeed, for Miss Durant
to express her sense of obligation as she wished,--and she tried, even as
she was mounting the steps, to say a last word, but the car swept her away
with the sentence half spoken; and with a want of dignity that was not
customary in her, she staggered to a seat. Then as she tendered a dollar
bill to the conductor, she remarked to herself,--

"Now, that's a man I'd like for a friend, if only he wouldn't be foolish."

At eleven on the following morning, Miss Durant's carriage once more
stopped at the hospital door; and, bearing a burden of flowers, and
followed by the footman carrying a large basket, Constance entered the
ward, and made her way to the waif's bedside.

"Good-morning," she said to Dr. Armstrong, who stood beside the next
patient. "How is our invalid doing?"

"Good-morning," responded the doctor, taking the hand she held out. "I

"We's takin' life dead easy, dat's wot wese is," came the prompt
interruption from the pillow, in a voice at once youthful yet worn. "Say,
dis oin't no lead pipe cinch, oh, no!"

It was a very different face the girl found, for soap and water had worked
wonders with it, and the scissors and brush had reduced the tangled shag
of hair to order. Yet the ferret eyes and the alert, over-sharp expression
were unchanged.

"I've brought you some flowers and goodies," said Miss Durant. "I don't
know how much of it will be good for him," she went on to the doctor,
apologetically, "but I hope some will do." Putting the flowers on the bed,
from the basket she produced in succession two bottles of port, a mould of
wine jelly, a jar of orange marmalade, a box of wafers, and a dish of
grapes, apples, and bananas.

"Gee! Won't Ise have a hell of a gorge!" joyfully burst out the invalid.

"We'll see about that," remarked Dr. Armstrong, smiling. "He can have all
the other things you've brought, in reason, Miss Durant, except the wine.
That must wait till we see how much fever he develops to-day,"

"He is doing well?"

"So far, yes."

"That is a great relief to me. And, Dr. Armstrong, in returning your loan
to me, will you let me say once again how grateful I am to you for all
your kindness, for which I thanked you so inadequately last night? I
deserved all that came to me, and can only wonder how you ever resisted
saying, 'I told you so.'"

"I have been too often wrong in my own diagnosing to find any satisfaction
or triumph in the mistakes of others," said the doctor, as he took the
bill the girl held out to him, and, let it be confessed, the fingers that
held it, "nor can I regret anything which gave me an opportunity to serve

The speaker put an emphasis on the last word, and eyed Miss Durant in a
way that led her to hastily withdraw her fingers, and turn away from his
unconcealed admiration. It was to find the keen eyes of the urchin
observing them with the closest attention; and as she realised it, she
coloured, half in embarrassment and half in irritation.

"How is your leg?" she asked, in an attempt to divert the boy's attention
and to conceal her own feeling.

"Say. Did youse know dey done it up in plaster, so dat it's stiff as a
bat?" responded the youngster, eagerly. "Wish de udder kids could see it,
for dey'll never believe it w'en Ise tells 'em. I'll show it to youse if
youse want?" he offered, in his joy over the novelty.

"I saw it put on," said Constance. "Don't you remember?"

"Why, cert! Ise remembers now dat--" A sudden change came over the boy's
face. "Wheer's dem cloes youse promised me?" he demanded.

"Oh, I entirely forgot--"

"Ah, forgit youse mudder! Youse a peach, oin't youse?" contemptuously
broke in the child.

Miss Durant and Dr. Armstrong both burst out laughing.

"Youse t'ink youse a smarty, but Ise know'd de hull time it wuz only a big
bluff dat youse wuz tryin' to play on me, an' it didn't go wid me, nah!"
went on the youngster, in an aggrieved tone.

"Isn't he perfectly incorrigible?" sighed Constance.

"Ise oin't," denied the boy, indignantly. "Deyse only had me up onct."

With the question the girl had turned to Dr. Armstrong; then, finding his
eyes still intently studying her, she once more gave her attention to the

"Really, I did forget them," she asserted. "You shall have a new suit long
before you need it."

"Cert'in dat oin't no fake extry youse shoutin'?"

"Truly. How old are you?"

"Wotcher want to know for?" suspiciously asked the boy.

"So I can buy a suit for that age."

"Dat goes. Ise ate."

"And what's your name?"


"What?" exclaimed the girl.

"Nah. Swot," he corrected.

"How do you spell it?"

"Dun'no'. Dat's wot de newsies calls me, 'cause of wot Ise says to de
preacher man."

"And what was that?"

"It wuz one of dem religious mugs wot comes Sunday to de Mulberry Park,
see, an' dat day he wuz gassin' to us kids 'bout lettin' a guy as had hit
youse onct doin' it ag'in; an' w'en he'd pumped hisself empty, he says to
me, says he, 'If a bad boy fetched youse a lick on youse cheek, wot would
youse do to 'im?' An' Ise says, 'I'd swot 'im in de gob, or punch 'im in
de slats,' says I; an' so de swipes calls me by dat noime. Honest, now,
oin't dat kinder talk jus' sickenin'?"

"But you must have another name," suggested Miss Durant, declining to
commit herself on that question.


"And what is that?"


"And have you no father or mother?"


"Or brothers or sisters?"

"Nah. Ise oin't got nuttin'."

"Where do you live?"

"Ah, rubber!" disgustedly remarked Swot. "Say, dis oin't no police court,

During all these questions, and to a certain extent their cause, Constance
had been quite conscious that the doctor was still watching her, and now
she once more turned to him, to say, with an inflection of disapproval,--

"When I spoke to you just now, Dr. Armstrong, I did not mean to interrupt
you in your duties, and you must not let me detain you from them."

"I had made my morning rounds long before you came, Miss Durant," equably
answered the doctor, "and had merely come back for a moment to take a look
at one of the patients."

"I feared you were neglecting--were allowing my arrival to interfere with
more important matters," replied Miss Durant, frigidly. "I never knew a
denser man," she added to herself, again seeking to ignore his presence by
giving her attention to Swot. "I should have brought a book with me
to-day, to read aloud to you, but I had no idea what kind of a story would
interest you. If you know of one, I'll get it and come to-morrow."

"Gee, Ise in it dis time wid bote feet, oin't Ise? Say, will youse git one
of de Old Sleuts? Deys de peachiest books dat wuz ever wroten."

"I will, if my bookshop has one, or can get it for me in time."

"There is little chance of your getting it there, Miss Durant," interposed
Dr. Armstrong; "but there is a place not far from here where stories of
that character are kept; and if it will save you any trouble, I'll gladly
get one of them for you."

"I have already overtaxed your kindness," replied Constance, "and so will
not trouble you in this."

"It would be no trouble."

"Thank you, but I shall enjoy the search myself."

"Say," broke in the urchin. "Youse ought to let de doc do it. Don't youse
see dat he wants to, 'cause he's stuck on youse?"

"Then I'll come to-morrow and read to you, Swot," hastily remarked Miss
Durant, pulling her veil over her face. "Good-bye." Without heeding the
boy's "Dat's fine," or giving Dr. Armstrong a word of farewell, she went
hurrying along the ward, and then downstairs, to her carriage. Yet once
within its shelter, the girl leaned back and laughed merrily. "It's
perfectly absurd for him to behave so before all the nurses and patients,
and he ought to know better. It is to be hoped _that_ was a sufficiently
broad hint for his comprehension, and that henceforth he won't do it."

Yet it must be confessed that the boy's remark frequently recurred that
day to Miss Durant; and if it had no other result, it caused her to devote
an amount of thought to Dr. Armstrong quite out of proportion to the
length of the acquaintance.

Whatever the inward effect, Miss Durant could discover no outward evidence
that Swot's bombshell had moved Dr. Armstrong a particle more than her
less pointed attempts to bring to him a realisation that he was behaving
in a manner displeasing to her. When she entered the ward the next
morning, the doctor was again there, and this time at the waif's bedside,
making avoidance of him out of the question. So with a
"this-is-my-busy-day" manner, she gave him the briefest of greetings,
and then turned to the boy.

"I've brought you some more goodies, Swot, and I found the story," she
announced triumphantly.

"Say, youse a winner, dat's wot youse is; oin't she, doc? Wot's de noime?"

Constance held up to him the red and yellow covered tale. "_The
Cracksman's Spoil, or Young Sleuth's Double Artifice"_ she read out

"Ah, g'way! Dat oin't no good. Say, dey didn't do a t'ing to youse, did

"What do you mean?"

"Dey sold youse fresh, dat's wot dey did. De Young Sleut books oin't no
good. Dey's nuttin' but a fake extry."

"Oh, dear!" exclaimed Constance, crestfallenly. "It took me the whole
afternoon to find it, but I did think it was what you wanted."

"I was sceptical of your being able to get even an approach to newsboy
literature, Miss Durant," said Dr. Armstrong, "and so squandered the large
sum of a dime myself. I think this is the genuine article, isn't it?" he
asked, as he handed to the boy a pamphlet labelled _Old Sleuth on the

"Dat's de real t'ing," jubilantly acceded Swot. "Say, oin't de women
doisies for havin' bases stole off 'em? Didn't Ise give youse de warm tip
to let de doc git it?"

"You should thank him for saving you from my stupid blunder," answered the
girl, artfully avoiding all possibility of personal obligation. "Would you
like me to read it to you now?"

"Wouldn't Ise, just!"

Still ignoring Dr. Armstrong, Constance took the seat at the bedside, and
opening the book, launched into the wildest sea of blood-letting and
crime. Yet thrillingly as it began, she was not oblivious to the fact that
for some minutes the doctor stood watching her, and she was quite
conscious of when he finally moved away, noiselessly as he went. Once he
was gone, she was more at her ease; yet clearly her conscience troubled
her a little, for in her carriage she again gave expression to some
thought by remarking aloud, "It was rude, of course, but if he will behave
so, it really isn't my fault."

[Illustration: "Constance took the seat at the bedside"]

The gory tale, in true serial style, was "continued" the next and
succeeding mornings, to the enthralment of the listener and the amusement
of the reader, the latter finding in her occupation as well a convenient
reason for avoiding or putting a limit to the doctor's undisguised
endeavours to share, if not, indeed, to monopolise, her attention. Even
serials, however, have an end, and on the morning of the sixth reading the
impossibly shrewd detective successfully put out of existence, or safely
incarcerated each one of the numerous scoundrels who had hitherto
triumphed over the law, and Constance closed the book.

"Hully gee!" sighed Swot, contentedly. "Say, dat Old Sleut, he's up to de
limit, oin't he? It don't matter wot dey does, he works it so's de hull
push comes his way, don't he?"

"He certainly was very far-seeing," Constance conceded; "but what a pity
it is that he--that he wasn't in some finer calling."

"Finer wot?"

"How much nobler it would have been if, instead of taking life, he had
been saving it--like Dr. Armstrong, for instance," she added, to bring her
idea within the comprehension of the boy.

"Ah, dat's de talk for religious mugs an' goils," contemptuously exclaimed
the waif, "but it guv's me de sore ear. It don't go wid me, not one little

"Aren't you grateful to Dr. Armstrong for all he's done for you?"

"Bet youse life," assented Swot; "but Ise oin't goin' to be no doctor,
nah! Ise goin' to git on de force, dat's de racket Ise outer. Say, will
youse read me anudder of dem stories?'

"Gladly, if I can find the right kind this time."

The boy raised his head to look about the ward. "Hey, doc," called his
cracked treble.

"Hush, don't!" protested the girl.

"W'y not?"

Before she could frame a reason, the doctor was at the bedside. "What is
it?" he asked.

"Say, wese got tru wid dis story, an' Miss Constance says she'll read me
anudder, but dey'll set de goime up on her, sure, she bein' a goil; so
will youse buy de real t'ing?"

"That I will."

"Dat's hunky." Then he appealed to Constance. "Say, will youse pay for
it?" he requested.

"And why should she?" inquired Dr. Armstrong.

"'Cause she's got de dough, an Ise heard de nurse loidies talkin' 'bout
youse, an' dey said dat youse wuz poor."

It was the doctor's turn to colour, and flush he did.

"Swot and I will both be very grateful, Dr. Armstrong, if you will get us
another of the Old Sleuth books," spoke up Miss Durant, hastily.

"Won't youse guv 'im de price?" reiterated the urchin.

"Then we'll expect it to-morrow morning," went on the girl; and for the
first time in days she held out her hand to Dr. Armstrong, "And thank you
in advance for your kindness. Good-morning."

"Rats!" she heard, as she walked away. "I didn't tink she'd do de grand
sneak like dat, doc, jus' 'cause I tried to touch her for de cash."

Constance slowed one step, then resumed her former pace. "He surely--Of
course he'll understand why I hurried away," she murmured.

Blind as he might be, Dr. Armstrong was not blind to the geniality of Miss
Durant's greeting the next morning, or the warmth of her thanks for the
cheap-looking dime novel. She chatted pleasantly with him some moments
before beginning on the new tale; and even when she at last opened the
book, there was a subtle difference in the way she did it that made it
include instead of exclude him from a share in the reading. And this was
equally true of the succeeding days.

The new doings of Old Sleuth did not achieve the success that the previous
ones had. The invalid suddenly developed both restlessness and
inattention, with such a tendency to frequent interruptions as to make
reading well-nigh impossible.

"Really, Swot," Constance was driven to threaten one morning, when he had
broken in on the narrative for the seventh time with questions which
proved that he was giving no heed to the book, "unless you lie quieter,
and don't interrupt so often, I shall not go on reading."

"Dat goes," acceded the little fellow; yet before she had so much as
finished a page he asked, "Say, did youse ever play craps?"

"No," she answered, with a touch of severity.

"It's a jim dandy goime, Ise tells youse. Like me to learn youse?"

"No," replied the girl, as she closed the book.

"Goils never oin't no good," remarked Swot, discontentedly.

Really irritated, Miss Durant rose and adjusted her boa. "Swot," she said,
"you are the most ungrateful boy I ever knew, and I'm not merely not going
to read any more to-day, but I have a good mind not to come to-morrow,
just to punish you."

"Ah, chase youseself!" was the response. "Youse can't pass dat gold brick
on me, well, I guess!"

"What are you talking about?" indignantly asked Constance.

"Tink Ise oin't onter youse curves? Tink Ise don't hear wot de nurse
loidies says? Gee! Ise know w'y youse so fond of comin' here."

"Why do I come here?" asked Constance, in a voice full of warning.

The tone was wasted on the boy.

"'Cause youse dead gone on de doc."

"I am sorry you don't know better than to talk like that, Swot," said the
girl, quietly, "because I wanted to be good to you, and now you have put
an end to my being able to be. You will have to get some one else to read
to you after this. Good-bye." She passed her hand kindly over his
forehead, and turned to find that Dr. Armstrong was standing close behind
her, and must have overheard more or less of what had been said. Without a
word, and looking straight before her, Constance walked away.

Once out of the hospital, her conscience was not altogether easy; and
though she kept away the next day, she sent her footman with the usual
gift of fruits and other edibles; and this she did again on the morning

"Of course he didn't mean to be so atrociously impertinent," she sighed,
in truth missing what had come to be such an amusing and novel way of
using up some of each twenty-four hours. "But I can't, in self-respect, go
to him any more."

These explanations were confided to her double in the mirror, as she eyed
the effect of a new gown, donned for a dinner; and while she still studied
the eminently satisfactory total, she was interrupted by a knock at the
door, and her maid brought her a card the footman handed in.

Constance took it, looked astonished, then frowned slightly, and finally
glanced again in the mirror. Without a word, she took her gloves and fan
from the maid, and descended to the drawing-room.

"Good-evening, Dr. Armstrong," she said, coolly.

"I have come here--I have intruded on you, Miss Durant," awkwardly and
hurriedly began the doctor, "because nothing else would satisfy Swot
McGarrigle. I trust you will understand that I--He--he is to undergo an
operation, and--well, I told him it was impossible, but he still begged me
so to ask you, that I hadn't the heart to refuse him."

"An operation!" cried Constance.

"Don't be alarmed. It's really nothing serious. He--Perhaps you may have
noticed how restless and miserable he has been lately. It is due, we have
decided, to one of the nerves of the leg having been lacerated, and so I
am going to remove it, to end the suffering, which is now pretty keen."

"Oh, I'm so sorry," exclaimed the girl, regretfully. "I didn't dream of
it, and so was hard on him, and said I wouldn't come any more."

"He has missed your visits very much, Miss Durant, and we found it very
hard to comfort him each morning, when only your servant came."

"Has he really? I thought they were nothing to him."

"If you knew that class better, you would appreciate that they are really
grateful and warm-hearted, but they fear to show their feelings, and,
besides, could not express them, even if they had the words, which they
don't. But if you could hear the little chap sing your praises to the
nurses and to me, you would not think him heartless. 'My loidy' is his
favourite description of you."

[Illustration: "'I have come here--I have intruded on you, Miss Durant,'
hurriedly began the doctor"]

"He wants to see me?" questioned the girl, eagerly.

"Yes. Like most of the poorer class, Miss Durant," explained the doctor,
"he has a great dread of the knife. To make him less frantic, I promised
that I would come to you with his wish; and though I would not for a
moment have you present at the actual operation, if you could yield so far
as to come to him for a few minutes, and assure him that we are going to
do it for his own good, I think it will make him more submissive."

"When do you want me?" asked Miss Durant.

"It is--I am to operate as soon as I can get back to the hospital, Miss
Durant. It has been regrettably postponed as it is."

The girl stood hesitating for a moment. "But what am I to do about my

Dr. Armstrong's eyes travelled over her from head to foot, taking in the
charming gown of satin and lace, the strings of pearls about her exquisite
throat and wrists, and all the other details which made up such a
beautiful picture. "I forgot," he said, quietly, "that society duties now
take precedence over all others." Then, with an instant change of manner,
he went on: "You do yourself an injustice, I think, Miss Durant, in even
questioning what you are going to do. You know you are coming to the boy."

For the briefest instant the girl returned his intent look, trying to
fathom what enabled him to speak with such absolute surety; then she said,
"Let us lose no time," as she turned back into the hall and hurried out of
the front door, not even attending to the doctor's protest about her going
without a wrap; and she only said to him at the carriage door, "You will
drive with me, of course, Dr. Armstrong?" Then to the footman, "Tell
Murdock, the hospital, Maxwell, but you are to go at once to Mrs. Purdy,
and say I shall be prevented from coming to her to-night by a call that
was not to be disregarded,"

"It was madness of you, Miss Durant, to come out without a cloak, and I
insist on your wearing this," said the doctor, the moment the carriage had
started, as he removed his own overcoat.

"Oh, I forgot--but I mustn't take it from you, Dr. Armstrong."

"Have no thought of me. I am twice as warmly clad as you, and am better
protected than usual."

Despite her protest he placed it about Constance's shoulders and buttoned
it up. "You know," he said, "the society girl with her bare throat and
arms is at once the marvel and the despair of us doctors, for every dinner
or ball ought to have its death-list from pneumonia; but it never--"

"Will it be a very painful operation?" asked the girl.

"Not at all; and the anaesthetic prevents consciousness. If Swot were a
little older, I should not have had to trouble you. It is a curious fact
that boys, as a rule, face operations more bravely than any other class of
patient we have."

"I wonder why that is?" queried Constance.

"It is due to the same ambition which makes cigarette-smokers of them--a
desire to be thought manly."

Once the carriage reached the hospital, Constance followed the doctor up
the stairs and through the corridor. "Let me relieve you of the coat, Miss
Durant," he advised, and took it from her and passed it over to one of the
orderlies. Then, opening a door, he made way for her to enter.

[Illustration: "The two were quickly seated on the floor"]

Constance passed into a medium-sized room, which a first glance showed her
to be completely lined with marble; but there her investigations ceased,
for her eyes rested on the glass table upon which lay the little fellow,
while beside him stood a young doctor and a nurse. At the sound of her
footsteps the boy turned his head till he caught sight of her, when, after
an instant's stare, he surprised the girl by hiding his eyes and beginning
to cry.

"Ise knowed all along youse wuz goin' to kill me," he sobbed.

"Why, Swot," cried Constance, going to his side. "Nobody is going to kill

The hands were removed from the eyes, and still full of tears, they
blinkingly stared a moment at the girl.

"Hully gee! Is dat youse?" he ejaculated. "Ise tought youse wuz de angel
come for me."

"You may go many years in society, Miss Durant, without winning another
compliment so genuine," remarked Dr. Armstrong, smiling. "Nor is it
surprising that he was misled," he added.

Constance smiled in return as she answered, "And it only proves how the
value of a compliment is not in its truthfulness, but in its being truth
to the one who speaks it."

"Say, youse won't let dem do nuttin' bad to me, will youse?" implored the

"They are only going to help you, Swot," the girl assured him, as she took
his hand.

"Den w'y do dey want to put me to sleep for?"

"To spare you suffering,"

"Dis oin't no knock-out drops, or dat sorter goime? Honest?"

"No. I won't let them do you any harm."

"Will youse watch dem all de time dey's doin' tings to me?"

"Yes. And if you'll be quiet and take it nicely, I'll bring you a present

"Dat's grand! Wot'll youse guv me? Say, don't do dat," he protested, as
the nurse applied the sponge and cone to his face.

"Lie still, Swot," said Constance, soothingly, "and tell me what you would
best like me to give you. Shall it be a box of building-blocks--or some
soldiers--or a fire-engine--or--"

"Nah. Ise don't want nuttin' but one ting--an' dat's--wot wuz Ise
tinkin'--Ise forgits wot it wuz--lemme see--Wot's de matter? Wheer is
youse all?--" The little frame relaxed and lay quiet.

"That is all you can do for us, Miss Durant," said Dr. Armstrong.

"May I not stay, as I promised him I would?" begged Constance.

"Can you bear the sight of blood?"

"I don't know--but see--I'll turn my back." Suiting the action to the
word, the girl faced so that, still holding Swot's hand, she was looking
away from the injured leg.

A succession of low-spoken orders to his assistants was the doctor's way
of telling her that he left her to do as she chose, She stood quietly for
a few minutes, but presently her desire to know the progress of the
operation, and her anxiety over the outcome, proved too strong for her,
and she turned her head to take a furtive glance. She did not look away
again, but with a strange mixture of fascination and squeamishness, she
watched as the bleeding was stanched with sponges, each artery tied, and
each muscle drawn aside, until finally the nerve was reached and removed;
and she could not but feel both wonder and admiration as she noted how Dr.
Armstrong's hands, at other times seemingly so much in his way, now did
their work so skilfully and rapidly. Not till the operation was over, and
the resulting wound was being sprayed with antiseptics, did the girl
realize how cold and faint she felt, or how she was trembling. Dropping
the hand of the boy, she caught at the operating-table, and then the room
turned black.

"It's really nothing," she asserted. "I only felt dizzy for an instant.
Why! Where am I?"

"You fainted away, Miss Durant, and we brought you here," explained the
nurse, once again applying the salts. The woman rose and went to the door.
"She is conscious now, Dr. Armstrong."

As the doctor entered Constance tried to rise, but a motion of his hand
checked her. "Sit still a little yet, Miss Durant," he ordered
peremptorily. From a cupboard he produced a plate of crackers and a glass
of milk, and brought them to her.

"I really don't want anything," declared the girl.

"You are to eat something at once," insisted Dr. Armstrong, in a very
domineering manner.

He held the glass to her lips, and Constance, after a look at his face,
took a swallow of the milk, and then a piece of cracker he broke off.

"How silly of me to behave so," she said, as she munched.

"The folly was mine in letting you stay in the room when you had had no
dinner. That was enough to knock up any one," answered the doctor. "Here."
Once again the glass was held to her lips, and once again, after a look at
his face, Constance drank, and then accepted a second bit of cracker from
his fingers.

"Do you keep these especially for faint-minded women?" she asked, trying
to make a joke of the incident.

"This is my particular sanctum, Miss Durant; and as I have a reprehensible
habit of night-work, I keep them as a kind of sleeping potion."

Constance glanced about the room with more interest, and as she noticed
the simplicity and the bareness, Swot's remark concerning the doctor's
poverty came back to her. Only many books and innumerable glass bottles, a
microscope, and other still more mysterious instruments, seemed to save it
from the tenement-house, if not, indeed, the prison, aspect.

"Are you wondering how it is possible for any one to live in such a way?"
asked the doctor, as his eyes followed hers about the room.

"If you will have my thought," answered Constance, "it was that I am in
the cave of the modern hermit, who, instead of seeking solitude, because
of the sins of mankind, seeks it that he may do them good."

"We have each had a compliment to-night," replied Dr. Armstrong, his face
lighting up.

The look in his eyes brought something into the girl's thoughts, and with
a slight effort she rose. "I think I am well enough now to relieve you of
my intrusion," she said.

"You will not be allowed to leave the hermit's cell till you have finished
the cracker and the milk," affirmed the man. "I only regret that I can't
keep up the character by offering you locusts and wild honey."

"At least don't think it necessary to stay here with me," said Miss
Durant, as she dutifully began to eat and drink again. "If--oh--the
operation--How is Swot?"

"Back in the ward, though not yet conscious."

"And the operation?"

"Absolutely successful."

"Despite my interruption?"

"Another marvel to us M.D.'s is the way so sensitive a thing as a woman
will hold herself in hand by sheer nerve force when it is necessary. You
did not faint till the operation was completed."

"Now may I go?" asked the girl, with a touch of archness, as she held up
the glass and the plate, both empty.

"Yes, if you will let me share your carriage. Having led you into this
predicament, the least I feel I can do is to see you safely out of it."

"Now the hermit is metamorphosing himself into a knight," laughed
Constance, merrily, "with a distressed damsel on his hands. I really need
not put you to the trouble, but I shall be glad if you will take me home."

Once again the doctor put his overcoat about her, and they descended the
stairs and entered the brougham.

"Tell me the purpose of all those instruments I saw in your room," she
asked as they started.

"They are principally for the investigation of bacteria. Not being
ambitious to spend my life doctoring whooping-cough and indigestion, I am
striving to make a scientist of myself."

"Then that is why you prefer hospital work?"

"No. I happen to have been born with my own living to make in the world,
and when I had worked my way through the medical school, I only too gladly
became 'Interne' here, not because it is what I wish to do, but because I
need the salary."

"Yet it seems such a noble work."

"Don't think I depreciate it, but what I am doing is only remedial What I
hope to do is to prevent."

"How is it possible?"

"For four years my every free hour has been given to studying what is now
called tuberculosis, and my dream is to demonstrate that it is in fact the
parent disease--a breaking down--disintegration--of the bodily
substance--the tissue, or cell--and to give to the world a specific."

"How splendid!" exclaimed Constance. "And you believe you can?"

"Every day makes me more sure that both demonstration and specific are
possible--but it is unlikely that I shall be the one to do it."

"I do not see why?"

"Because there are many others studying the disease who are free from the
necessity of supporting themselves, and so can give far more time and
money to the investigation than is possible for me. Even the scientist
must be rich in these days, Miss Durant, if he is to win the great

"Won't you tell me something about yourself?" requested Constance,

"There really is nothing worth while yet. I was left an orphan young, in
the care of an uncle who was able to do no better for me than to get me a
place in a drug-store. By doing the night-work it was possible to take the
course at the medical college; and as I made a good record, this position
was offered to me."

"It--you could make it interesting if you tried."

"I'm afraid I am not a realist, Miss Durant. I dream of a future that
shall be famous by the misery and death I save the world from, but my past
is absolutely eventless."

As he ended, the carriage drew up at the house, and the doctor helped her

"You will take Dr. Armstrong back to the hospital, Murdock," she ordered.

"Thank you, but I really prefer a walk before going to _my_ social
intimates, the bacilli," answered the doctor, as he went up the steps with
her. Then, after he had rung the bell, he held out his hand and said:
"Miss Durant, I need scarcely say, after what I have just told you, that
my social training has been slight--so slight that I was quite unaware
that the old adage, 'Even a cat may look at a king,' was no longer a fact
until I overheard what was said the other day. My last wish is to keep you
from coming to the hospital, and in expressing my regret at having been
the cause of embarrassment to you, I wish to add a pledge that henceforth,
if you will resume your visits, you and Swot shall be free from my
intrusion. Good-night," he ended, as he started down the steps.

"But I never--really I have no right to exclude--nor do I wish--"
protested the girl; and then, as the servant opened the front door, even
this halting attempt at an explanation ceased. She echoed a "Good-night,"
adding, "and thank you for all your kindness," and very much startled and
disturbed the footman, as she passed into the hallway, by audibly
remarking, "Idiot!"

She went upstairs slowly, as if thinking, and once in her room, seated
herself at her desk and commenced a note. Before she had written a page
she tore the paper in two and began anew. Twice she repeated this
proceeding; then rose in evident irritation, and, walking to her fire,
stood looking down into the flame. "I'll think out what I had better do
when I'm not so tired," she finally remarked, as she rang for her maid.
But once in bed, her thoughts, or the previous strain, kept her long hours
awake; and when at last she dropped into unconsciousness her slumber was
made miserable by dreams mixing in utter confusion operating-room and
dinner, guests and microbes--dreams in which she was alternately striving
to explain something to Dr. Armstrong, who could not be brought to
understand, or to conceal something he was determined to discover. Finally
she found herself stretched on the dinner-table, the doctor, knife in
hand, standing over her, with the avowed intention of opening her heart to
learn some secret, and it was her helpless protests and struggles which
brought consciousness to her--to discover that she had slept far into the

With the one thought of a visit to the hospital during the permitted
hours, she made a hasty toilet, followed by an equally speedy breakfast,
and was actually on her way downstairs when she recalled her promise of a
gift. A glance at her watch told her that there was not time to go to the
shops, and hurrying back to her room, she glanced around for something
among the knick-knacks scattered about. Finding nothing that she could
conceive of as bringing pleasure to the waif, she took from a drawer of
her desk a photograph of herself, and descended to the carriage.

She had reason to be thankful for her recollection, as, once her
greetings, and questions to the nurse about the patient's condition were
made, Swot demanded,

"Wheer's dat present dat youse promised me?"

"I did not have time this morning to get something especially for you,"
she explained, handing him the portrait, "so for want of anything better,
I've brought you my picture."

The urchin took the gift and looked at both sides. "Wotinell's dat good
for?" he demanded contemptuously.

"I thought--hoped it might please you, as showing you that I had
forgiven--that I liked you."

"Ah, git on de floor an' look at youseself," disgustedly remarked Swot.
"Dat talk don't cut no ice wid me. W'y didn't youse ask wot Ise wants?"

"And what would you like?"

"Will youse guv me a pistol?"

"Why, what would you do with it?"

"I'd trow a scare into de big newsies w'en dey starts to chase me off de
good beats."

"Really, Swot, I don't think I ought to give you anything so dangerous.
You are very young to--"

"Ah! Youse a goil, an' deyse born frightened. Bet youse life, if youse ask
de doc, he won't tink it nuttin' to be scared of."

"He isn't here this morning," remarked Constance, for some reason looking
fixedly at the glove she was removing as she spoke.

The urchin raised his head and peered about. "Dat's funny!" he exclaimed.
"It's de first time he oin't bin here w'en youse wuz at de bat."

"Has he seen you this morning?"

"Why, cert!"

The girl opened the dime novel and found the page at which the
interruption had occurred, hesitated an instant, and remarked, "The next
time he comes you might say that I would like to see him for a moment--to
ask if I had better give you a pistol." This said, she hastily began on
the book. Thrillingly as the pursuits and pursuit of the criminal classes
were pictured, however, there came several breaks in the reading; and had
any keenly observant person been watching Miss Durant, he would have
noticed that these pauses invariably happened whenever some one entered
the ward.

It was made evident to her that she and Swot gave value to entirely
different parts of her message to the doctor; for, no sooner did she reach
the waif's bedside the next morning than the invalid announced,--

"Say, Ise done my best to jolly de doc, but he stuck to it dat youse
oughtn't to guv me no pistol."

"Didn't you tell him what I asked you to say?" demanded Constance,

"Soytenly. Ise says to 'im dat youse wanted to know wot he tought, an' he
went back on me. Ise didn't tink he'd trun me down like dat!"

"I might better have written him," murmured Miss Durant, thoughtfully. She
sat for some time silently pondering, till the waif asked,--

"Say, youse goin' to guv me dat present just de same, oin't youse?"

"Yes, I'll give you a present," acceded the girl, opening the book. "I
think, Swot," she continued, "that we'll have to trouble Dr. Armstrong for
another Old Sleuth, as we shall probably finish this to-day. And tell him
this time it is my turn to pay for it," From her purse she produced a
dime, started to give it to the boy, hastily drew back her hand, and
replacing the coin, substituted for it a dollar bill. Then she began
reading rapidly--so rapidly that the end of the story was attained some
twenty minutes before the visitors' time had expired.

"Say," was her greeting on the following day, as Swot held up another
lurid-looking tale and the dollar bill, "Ise told de doc youse wuzn't
willin' dat he, bein' poor, should bleed de cash dis time, an' dat youse
guv me dis to--"

"You didn't put it that way, Swot?" demanded Miss Durant.

"Wot way?"

"That I said he was poor."


"Oh, Swot, how could you?"

"Wot's de matter?"

"I never said that! Was he--was he--What did he say?"

"Nuttin' much, 'cept dat I wuz to guv youse back de dough, for de books
wuz on 'im."

"I'm afraid you have pained him, Swot, and you certainly have pained me.
Did he seem hurt or offended?"


"I wish you would tell him I shall be greatly obliged if he will come to
the ward to-morrow, for I wish to see him. Now don't alter this message,
please, Swot."

That her Mercury did her bidding more effectively was proved by her
finding the doctor at the bedside when she arrived the next day.

"Swot told me that you wished to see me, Miss Durant," he said.

"Yes, and I'm very much obliged to you for waiting. I--How soon will it be
possible for him to be up?"

"He is doing so famously that we'll have him out of bed by Monday, I

"I promised him a present, and I want to have a Christmas tree for him, if
he can come to it."

"Wot's dat?" came the quick question from the bed.

"If you don't know, I'm going to let it be a surprise to you, Swot. Do
you think he will be well enough to come to my house? Of course I'll
send my carriage."

"If he continues to improve, he certainly will be."

"Say, is dat de ting dey has for de mugs wot goes to Sunday-school, an'
dat dey has a party for?"

"Yes, only this tree will be only for you, Swot,"

"Youse oin't goin' to have no udder swipes but me?"


"Den who'll git all de presents wot's on de tree?" inquired Swot,

"Guess!" laughed Constance.

"Will dey all be for me?"


"Hully gee! But dat's grand! Ise in it up to de limit, doc, oin't Ise?"
exclaimed the waif, turning to the doctor.

Dr. Armstrong smiled and nodded his head, but something in his face or
manner seemed to give a change to the boy's thoughts, for, after eyeing
him intently, he said to Constance,--

"Oin't youse goin' to invite de doc?"

Miss Durant coloured as she said, with a touch of eagerness yet shyness,
"Dr. Armstrong, I intended to ask you, and it will give me a great deal of
pleasure if you will come to Swot's and my festival." And when the doctor
seemed to hesitate, she added, "Please!" in a way that would have very
much surprised any man of her own circle.

"Thank you, Miss Durant; I'll gladly come, if you are sure I sha'n't be an

"Not at all," responded the girl. "On the contrary, it would be sadly
incomplete without you--"

"Say," broke in the youngster, "growed-up folks don't git tings off de
tree, does dey?"

Both Constance and the doctor laughed at the obvious fear in the boy's

"No, Swot," the man replied; "and I've had my Christmas gift from Miss
Durant already."

"Wot wuz dat?"

"Ask her," replied Dr. Armstrong, as he walked away.

"Wot have youse guv 'im?"

Constance laughed, and blushed still more deeply, as, after a slight
pause, she replied, "It's my turn, Swot, to say 'rubber'?" This said, she
stooped impulsively and kissed the boy's forehead. "You are a dear, Swot,"
she asserted, warmly.

With the mooting of the Christmas tree, the interest in Old Sleuth
markedly declined, being succeeded by innumerable surmises of the rapidly
convalescing boy as to the probable nature and number of the gifts it
would bear. In this he was not discouraged by Miss Durant, who, once the
readings were discontinued, brought a bit of fancy-work for occupation.

"Wot's dat?" he inquired, the first time she produced it.

"A case for handkerchiefs."

"For me?"

"Did you ever have a handkerchief?"

"Nop. An' I'd radder have suttin' else."

"Can you keep a secret, Swot?"

"Bet youse life."

"This is for Dr. Armstrong."

Swot regarded it with new interest. "Youse goin' to s'prise 'im?"


"Den youse must sneak it quick w'en he comes in."

"Haven't you noticed that he doesn't come here any longer, Swot?" quietly
responded the girl, her head bowed over the work.

"Oin't dat luck!"

"Why?" asked Constance, looking up in surprise.

"'Cause youse can work on de present," explained Swot. "Say," he demanded
after a pause, "if dere's anyting on de tree dat Ise don't cares for, can
Ise give it to de doc?"

"Certainly. Or better still, if you'll find out what he would like, I'll
let you make him a present."

"Youse payin' for it?" anxiously questioned the boy.

"Of course."

"Dat's Jim Dandy!"

Miss Durant recurred to this offer twice in the succeeding week, but to
her surprise, found Swot's apparent enthusiasm over the gift had entirely
cooled, and his one object was a seeming desire to avoid all discussion of

"Don't you want to give him something, or haven't you found out what he
wants?" she was driven to ask.

"Oh, dat's all right. Don't youse tire youself 'bout dat," was his
mysterious reply. Nor could she extract anything more satisfactory.

It was a very different Swot McGarrigle who was helped into Miss Durant's
carriage by the doctor on Christmas eve from the one who had been lifted
out at the hospital some six weeks before. The wizened face had filled out
into roundness, and the long-promised new clothes, donned for the first
time in honor of the event, even more transformed him; so changed him, in
fact, that Constance hesitated for an instant in her welcome, in doubt if
it were he.

"I have the tree in my own room, because I wanted all the fun to
ourselves," she explained, as she led the way upstairs, "and downstairs we
should almost certainly be interrupted by callers, or something. But
before you go, Dr. Armstrong, I want you to meet my family, and of course
they all want to see Swot."

It was not a large nor particularly brilliant tree, but to Swot it was
everything that was beautiful. At first he was afraid to approach, but
after a little Constance persuaded him into a walk around it, and finally
tempted him, by an artful mention of what was in one of the larger
packages at the base, to treat it more familiarly. Once the ice was
broken, the two were quickly seated on the floor, Constance cutting
strings, and Swot giving shouts of delight at each new treasure.
Presently, in especial joy over some prize, the boy turned to show it to
the doctor, to discover that he was standing well back, watching, rather
than sharing, in the pleasure of the two; and, as the little chap
discovered the aloofness, he leaned over and whispered something to the

"I want to, but can't get the courage yet," whispered back Constance. "I
don't know what is the matter with me, Swot," she added, blushing.

"Like me to guv it to 'im?"

"Oh, will you, Swot?" she eagerly demanded. "It's the parcel in
tissue-paper on my desk over there."

The waif rose to his feet and trotted to the place indicated. He gave a
quick glance back at Miss Durant, and seeing that she was leaning over a
bundle, he softly unfolded the tissue-paper, slipped something from his
newly possessed breast pocket into the handkerchief-case, and refolded the
paper. He crossed the room to where the doctor was standing, and handed
him the parcel, with the remark, "Dat's for youse, from Miss Constance an'
me, doc." Then scurrying back to the side of the girl, he confided to her,
"Ise guv de doc a present, too."

"What was it?" asked Constance, still not looking up.

"Go an' ask 'im," chuckled Swot.

Turned away as she might be, she was not unconscious of the doctor's
movements, and she was somewhat puzzled when, instead of coming to her
with thanks, he crossed the room to a bay-window, where he was hidden by
the tree from both of them. From that point he still further astonished
her by the request,--

"Can you--will you please come here for a moment, Miss Durant?"

Constance rose and walked to where he stood. "I hope you like my gift?"
she asked.

"You could have given me nothing I have so wanted--nothing I shall
treasure more," said the man, speaking low and fervently. "But did you
realise what this would mean to me?" As he spoke, he raised his hand, and
Constance saw, not the handkerchief-case, but a photograph of herself.

"Oh!" she gasped. "Where--I didn't--that was a picture I gave to Swot. The
case is my gift,"

The doctor's hand dropped, and all the hope and fire went from his eyes.
"I beg your pardon for being so foolish, Miss Durant. I--I lost my senses
for a moment--or I would have known that you never--that the other was
your gift." He stooped to pick it up from the floor where he had dropped
it. "Thank you very deeply for your kindness, and--and try to forget my

"I--I--couldn't understand why Swot suddenly--why he--I never dreamed of
his doing it," faltered the girl.

"His and my knowledge of social conventions are about on a par," responded
the man, with a set look to his mouth. "Shall I give it back to him or to

Constance drew a deep breath. "It wasn't--my--gift--but--but--I don't mind
your keeping it if you wish."

"You mean--?" cried Dr. Armstrong, incredulously.

"Oh," said the girl, hurriedly, "isn't that enough, now? Please, oh,
please--wait--for a little."

The doctor caught her hand and kissed it. "Till death, if you ask it!" he

Five minutes later Swot abstracted himself sufficiently from his gifts to
peep around the tree and ecstatically inquire,--

"Say, oin't dis de doisiest Christmas dat ever wuz?"

"Yes," echoed the two in the bay-window.

"Did youse like me present, doc?"

"Yes," reiterated the doctor, with something in his voice that gave the
word tenfold meaning.

"Ise tought youse 'ud freeze to it, an' it wuzn't no sorter good to me."

Constance laughed happily. "Still, I'm very glad I gave it to you, Swot,"
she said, with a glance of the eyes, half shy and half arch, at the man
beside her.

"Did youse like Miss Constance's present too, doc?"

"Yes," replied the doctor, "especially the one you haven't seen, Swot."

"Wot wuz dat?"

"A something called hope--which is the finest thing in the world."

"No. There is one thing better," said Miss Durant.

"What is it?"

"Love!" whispered Constance, softly.


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