Part 3 out of 3
not told him. She was panting and her hand was on her side.
"Did Doctor Burns get home all right?" she cried under her
"What do you know about Doctor Burns?" was Chester's quick
reply. He was startled by the girl's appearance here at this
"It doesn't make any difference what I know. Tell me if he
got home. Was he much hurt? Why shouldn't you tell me that,
"He is home and all right. Do you want him professionally?
He can't go out to-night."
"I know he can't. But I had to know he got home. I - "
She sank down on the doorstep, shaken and sobbing. Chester
stood looking down at het, wondering what on earth he was to
say. What had Rose Seeley to do with Red? What had she to do
with his losing control on the Red Bank hill? A quick thought
crossed his mind, to be as quickly dismissed. No, whatever
Red's private affairs were, they could have nothing to do with
this Rose - too bruised and trampled a rose to take the fancy
of a man like him even in his most evil hour.
Suddenly she lifted her head. "He saved my life and 'most
lost his. They'd been making repairs on the hill and, some
way, the lanterns wasn't lit. It's an awful dark night. He
saw what he was comin' to and turned out sudden into the
grass. He had to go into the ditch, then, not to run over me
- and somebody else. He ran away!" Plainly that scornful
accent did not mean Burns. "I didn't. I helped him get the
car up. I got his engine goin' for him; he showed me how.
His arm was broke. There ain't no house for a mile out there.
I hated to see him try to come home alone. I've walked all
the way - run some of it - to make sure he got here."
"He got here," murmured Chester, thinking to himself that this
was the queerest story he'd over heard, but confident he would
never have any better version of it and pretty sure that it
was the true one.
"I suppose I'm a crazy fool to tell you, Mr. Chester," said
the girl thickly. "But you're a gentleman. You won't tell.
No more will he. He didn't tell you how it happened, did he?"
She did not ask the question. She made the assertion, looking
to him for confirmation. Chester gave it. "No, he didn't
tell," he said gravely,
When she had gone he crossed the lawn to his own home, musing.
"For a `plain, quiet dinner,'" said he, quoting a phrase of
Burns's used when he gave Chester the invitation, "I think
Red's has been about as spectacular as they make 'em. Bully
IN WHICH HE GETS EVEN WITH HIMSELF
R. P. Burns sat at his desk in the inner office, laboriously
inscribing a letter with his left hand. It did not get on
well. The handwriting in the four lines he had succeeded in
fixing upon paper bore not the slightest resemblance to his
usual style; instead, it looked like the chirography of a
five-year-old attempting for the first time to copy from some
older person's script.
He held up the sheet and gazed at it in disgust. Then he
glanced resentfully at his sling-supported right arm,
especially at the fingers which protruded from the bandages in
unaccustomed limp whiteness. Then he shook his left fist at
it. "You'll do some work the minute you come out of those
splints," he said. "You'll work your passage back to fitness
quicker than an arm ever did before, you pale-faced shirk!"
Then he applied himself to his task, painfully forming a
series of pothooks until one more sentence was completed. He
read it over, then suddenly crumpled the sheet into a ball and
dropped it into the waste basket.
"Lie there!" he whimsically commanded it. "You're not fit to
go to a lady."
He got up and marched into the outer office where his office
nurse sat at a typewriter, making lout bills.
"Miss Mathewson," he requested gruffly, "please take a
dictation. No, not on the bill letterheads - on the regular
office sheets. I'll speak slowly. In fact, I'll probably
speak very slowly."
"I'm sorry I don't know shorthand," said Miss Mathewson,
preparing her paper.
"I'm not. Instead, I'd rather you'd be as slow as you can, to
give me time to think. I'm not used to transmitting mediums -
the battery may be weak - in fact, I'm pretty sure it is. All
ready? My dear Mrs. Lessing"
His cheek reddened suddenly as he saw the nurse's waiting
hands poised over the keys when she had written this address.
He cleared his throat and plunged in.
"This has been a typical November day, dull and cold. We had
fine October weather clear into the second week of this month,
but all at once it turned cold and dull. The leaves are all
off the trees - Hold on don't say that. She knows the leaves
are all off the trees the middle of November."
"I have it partly written."
"Oh! Well, go on, then; I'll fix it: a fact it may be
necessary to remind you of down there in South Carolina, where
- Miss Mathewson, do you suppose the leaves are on in South
"I really don't know, Doctor Burns. I have always lived in
"So have I - bother it! Well, leave that out."
"But I've written `a fact it may be necessary - "
"Well, finish it: a fact at may be necessary to remind you of,
you have been gone so long. Oh, hang it -that sounds flat!
How can I tell how a sentence is coming out, this way? Let
that paragraph stand by itself - we'll hasten on to something
that will take the reader's mind off our unfortunate
"You will be glad to know that Bobby Burns is well, and not
only well, but fat and hearty. He had a wrestling bout with
Harold Macauley the other day and downed him. He got a black
eye, but that didn't count, though you may not like to hear of
it. He is heavier than when you saw him - Oh, I've said that!
Miss Mathewson, when you see I'm repeating myself, hold me
"I can't always tell when you're going to repeat yourself,"
Miss Mathewson objected.
"That's enough about Bob, anyhow. Mrs. Macauley writes her
all about him every week, only she probably didn't mention the
black eye. Well, let's start a new paragraph. When in doubt,
always start a new paragraph. It may turn out a gold mine.
"I found my work much crippled by the loss of my arm. Good
Heavens, that sounds as if I'd had it amputated! And I
suppose she naturally would infer that a man can't do as much
with his arm in a sling as he can when it's in commission.
Well, let it stand. I didn't realize how much surgery I was
doing till I had to cut it all out. `Cut it out,' that
certainly has a surgical ring. It sounds rather bragging,
too, I'm afraid. Never mind. The worst of it is to feel the
muscles ,atrophying from disuse and the tissues wasting, so
that when it comes out of the splints it will still have to be
cured of the degeneration the splints have - Oh, hold on, Miss
Mathewson - this sounds like a paper for a surgical journal!"
Burns, who had been walking up and down the room, cast himself
into an armchair and stared despairingly at his amanuensis.
But she reassured him by saying quietly that it was always
difficult to dictate when one was not used to it, and that the
letter sounded quite right.
"Well, if you think so, we'll try another paragraph - that's
certainly enough about me. Let me see - " He ran his left
hand through his hair.
Footsteps sounded upon the porch. Arthur Chester opened the
"Oh, excuse me, Red. It's nothing. I was going for a tramp,
and I thought "
"I'm with you." Burns sprang to his feet looking immensely
relieved. "Thank you, Miss Mathewson, we'll finish another
time. Or perhaps I can scrawl a finish with my left hand.
I'll take the letter. I'll look in at Bob and get my hat in a
He seized the letter, ran into the inner office, looked in at
the dimly-lighted room where the boy was sleeping, took up a
soft hat and, out of sight of Miss Mathewson, crammed the
typewritten sheet into his pocket in a crumpled condition.
Pulling the soft hat well down over his eyes he followed
Chester out into the fresh November night, drawing a long
breath of satisfaction as the chill wind struck him.
"You were just in time to save me from an awful scrape I'd got
myself into," he remarked as they tramped away.
"I thought you looked hot and unhappy. Were you proposing to
Miss Mathewson by letter? It's always best to say those
things right out: letters are liable to misinterpretation,"
"You're right there. I was riding for a fall fast enough when
you reined up alongside. But what's a fellow to do when he
can't write himself, except in flytracks?"
"I presume the lady would prefer the fly-track to a
typewritten document executed by another woman."
"How do you know the thing was to a lady?" Burns demanded.
"That's easy. No man looks as upset as you did over a
communication to another man. What do you write to her for,
anyhow, when she's as near as Washington?"
"Doesn't she keep you informed? Winifred says Martha says
Ellen came back up to Washington yesterday for the wedding of
a friend - hastily arranged - to an army officer suddenly
ordered somewhere - old friend of Ellen's - former bridesmaid
of hers, I believe. She - "
Burns had stopped short in the middle of the hubbly,
half-frozen street they were crossing. "How long does she
stay in Washington?"
"I don't know. Ask Win. Probably not long, since she only
came for this wedding. It's tonight, I think she said.
Aren't you coming?"
Burns walked on at a rapid stride with which Chester,
shorter-legged and narrower-chested, found it difficult to
keep up. They had their tramp, a four-mile course which they
were accustomed to cover frequently together at varying paces.
Chester thought they had never covered it quite so quickly nor
so silently before. For Burns, from the moment of receiving
Chester's news, appeared to fall into a reverie from which it
was impossible to draw him, and the subject of which his
companion found it not difficult to guess. After the first
half mile, Chester, than whom few men were more adaptable to a
friend's mood, accepted the situation and paced along as
silently as Burns, until the round was made and the two were
at Burns's door.
"Good night. Afraid I've been dumb as an oyster," was Burns's
curt farewell, and Chester chuckled as he walked away.
"Something'll come of the dumbness," he prophesied to himself.
Something did. It was a telegram, telephoned to the office by
a sender who rejoiced that having one's left arm in a sling
did not obstruct one's capacity to send pregnant messages by
wire. He had obtained the address from Martha Macauley, also
over the telephone:
"Mrs. E. F. Lessing, Washington, D. C.
Am leaving Washington to-night. Hope to have drive with you
to-morrow morning in place of letters impossible to write. R.
"I suppose that's a fool telegram," he admitted to himself as
he hung up the receiver, "but after that typing mess I had to
express myself somehow except by signs. Now to get off.
Luckily, this suit'll do. No time to change, anyhow."
He telephoned for a sleeper berth; he called up a village
physician and the house surgeon at the city hospital, and made
arrangements with each for seeing his patients during the two
nights and a day of his absence. He had no serious case on
hand and, of course, no surgical work, so that it was easier
to get away than it might be again for a year after his arm
should be once more to be counted on. Then he interviewed
Cynthia on the subject of Bob; after which he packed a small
bag, speculating with some amusement, as he did so, on the
succession of porters, bell-boys, waiters and hotel valets he
should have to fee during the next thirty-six hours to secure
their necessary assistance, from the fastening of his shoes to
the tying of his scarfs, the cutting up of his food, and the
rest of the hundred little services which must be rendered the
man with his right arm in a sling.
"I may not look a subject for travel, Miss Mathewson," he
announced with a brilliant smile, appearing once more in the
outer office, where the bill-copying was just coming to a
finish, "but I'm off, nevertheless. Thank you for your
struggle with my schoolboy composition. We won't need to
finish it. I'm - Oh, thunder!"
It was the office bell. Miss Mathewson answered it. Burns,
prepared to deny himself to all ordinary petitioners, saw the
man's face and stopped to listen. It was a rough-looking
fellow who told him his brief story, but the hearer listened
with attention and his face became grave. He turned to Miss
"Call Johnny Caruthers and the Imp, please," he directed.
"Telephone the Pullman ticket office and change my berth
reservation from the ten-thirty to the one o'clock train."
He went out with the man, and Miss Mathewson heard him say:
"You walked in, Joe? You can ride back with us on the
Ten minutes after he had gone Chester came again. He found
Miss Mathewson reading by the office droplight. On the desk
stood a travelling bag; beside it lay a light overcoat, not
the sort that Red Pepper was accustomed to wear in the car, a
dress overcoat with a silk lining. On it reposed a that and a
pair of gloves rolled into a ball, man fashion. Chester
regarded with interest these unmistakable signs of intended
"Doctor Burns going out of town?" he inquired casually. It
must be admitted that he had scented action of some sort on
the wind which had taken his friend from his company at the
conclusion of the walk. Ordinarily, Burns would have gone
into Chester's den and settled down for an hour of talk before
"I believe so," Miss Mathewson replied in the noncommittal
manner of the professional man's confidential assistant. "But
he has gone out for a call now."
"I don't know, Mr. Chester."
"Did he go in the Imp?"
"Country call, probably - they're the ones that bother a man
at night as long as he does country work. I've often told
Doctor Burns it was time he gave up this no-'count rural
practice. Well, do you know what time his train goes?"
"After midnight, some time." Miss Mathewson knew that Mr.
Chester was Doctor Burns's close friend, but she was too
accustomed to keep, her lips closed over her employers affairs
to give information, even to Chester, except under protest.
"Hm! Well, I believe I'll sit up for him and help him off. A
one-armed man needs an attendant. Don't stay up, Miss
Mathewson. I'll take any message he may leave for you."
"I'm afraid I ought to wait," replied the faithful nurse
"I don't believe it. Go home and go to bed, like a tired
girl, as you no doubt are, and trust me. If he wants you I
promise to telephone you. I'll see him off and like to do it.
There being no real reason for doing otherwise than follow
this most sensible advice, Miss Mathewson went away. Chester,
settling himself by the drop-light in the chair she had
vacated, fancied she looked a trifle disappointed and wondered
why. Surely, he reasoned, the girl must get enough of erratic
night work without sitting up merely to hand Burns his
overcoat and wish him a pleasant journey.
It was a long wait. Chester enlivened it by telephoning
Winifred that he wouldn't be home till morning - or sooner,
and elicited a flurry of questioning which he evaded rather
It was all right for him to be curious concerning Red's
affairs, he considered, but there was no need for the women to
get started on inquisitive questions.
He read himself asleep at last over the office magazines, and
was awakened by a hurried step on the porch and a gust of
November night air on his warm face.
"What are you doing here?" was the question which assaulted
"Sitting up for you," was Chester's sleepy reply. He rubbed
his eyes. "Thought you might like to have me see you off:"
"I'm not going anywhere except back to the case I've just
left. Go home and go to bed."
Chester sat up. He looked at Burns with awakening interest.
He had never seen his friend's face look grimmer than it did
now under the gray slouch hat, which he had worn for the
tramp, pulled well down over his brows, and which, during all
his preparations and his hasty departure in the car, it had
not occurred to him to remove or to exchange for the leather
cap he usually wore on such trips.
" Back to a country case instead of to Washington?"
Incredulity was written large on Chester's face.
Burns nodded, growing grimmer than before, if that were
possible. He sat down on the arm of a chair, glancing over at
the desk where his belongings lay. "How did you know I was
going to Washington?"
"You're mighty quick at inference. Maybe I wasn't. But I
was. Now I'm not. That's all there is to it."
"But why not? Can't you turn the case over? I'll bet my hat
it's a dead-beat case at that!"
Burns nodded again. "It is."
"You're an ass, then."
"You don't expect - her - to stay in Washington waiting for
you, do you, when she only came up for that wedding and is
going straight back to keep some other engagements? That's
what Win says she's to do."
"No, I don't expect her to wait." Burns pulled the slouch hat
lower yet. Chester could barely see his eyes. He could only
hear the tone of his denial of any such absurd expectation.
Chester rose and stood looking down at his friend, who had
folded his left arm over his right in its sling, as he sat on
the chair arm, and looked the picture of dogged resignation.
"I suppose there's some reason at the bottom of what strikes
me as pure foolishness," he admitted. "You won't do me the
honour of mentioning it?"
"Case of infected wound in the foot. Threatened tetanus.
"Nobody competent to treat the case but you?"
Burns looked up. Chester saw his eyes now, gloomy but
resolute. "No. It's up to me alone. I owe it to the woman.
It's the only child she has left: a girl. It was her boy I
sent to a better world with maledictions on his mother's
Comprehension dawned at last on Chester's face. He saw that,
taking into consideration Burns's feeling in that matter,
there was really nothing to be said. "I hope you win out," he
evolved at length from the confusion of ideas in his mind.
"I hope I do." Burns rose. "I must send a telegram," he said,
and went to the telephone in the inner office.
While he was there Chester heard the honk of the Imp's horn
outside. When Burns came back he opened the outer door and
called to Johnny Caruthers, to know if he had obtained the
serum for which he had been sent to the druggist. Johnny
shouted back that he had. Burns turned to Chester.
"Good night," he said. "Much obliged for waiting up for me."
Then, with a certain fighting expression on his lips which
Chester had learned to know meant that his whole purpose was
set on the attainment of an end for which no price could be
too great to pay, Burns went out to Johnny Caruthers and the
IN WHICH HE HAS HIS OWN WAY
Doc" - Joe Tressler followed Burns down the path, leaving his
wife standing in the doorway, her eyes fixed, on the
retreating figure of the man who had saved to her her one
remaining child - "Doc, we ain't a-goin' to forget this!"
"Neither am I, Joe, for various reasons," replied Burns,
watching Johnny Caruthers try the Green Imp's spark. He
jumped in beside Johnny and looked back at Joe. "Remember,
now, keep things going just as I leave them, and I shall
expect to find Letty nearly as well as ever when I see her
again. I shall be back in five days. Good-bye."
"I'll be around when you get back, with some money."
Burns looked the man in the eye. "Oh, come, Joe, don't say
anything you don't mean."
"I mean it this time, Doe - I sure do. Me and the old woman -
we - Letty - " The fellow choked.
"All right, Joe. I'm as glad as you are Letty's safe. Take
care of her. Take care of your wife. Do a stroke of good,
back-breaking work once in a while. It'll help that tired
feeling of yours that's getting to be dangerously chronic.
You've no idea, Joe, what a satisfaction it is, now and then,
to feel that you've accomplished something. Try it.
He waved his hand at the woman in the door, who responded with
a flutter of her dingy apron; which was immediately thereafter
applied to her eyes. Within, by the window, a little
pale-faced girl hugged a remarkable doll with yellow hair and
a red silk frock.
"You'd ought to be pretty proud, Letty Tressler," said the
woman, returning to the small convalescent, "to think Doc
kissed you when he left. He's been awful good to you, Doc
has, and him with that arm in a sling a-bothering him all the
time. But I didn't think he'd do that."
"Maybe it's 'cause I'm so clean now," speculated the child
weakly. "When he did it he whispered in my ear that he liked
"Letty, you ain't goin' to have any kind o' face but a clean
face after this, jest on account o' Doc Burns," vowed her
mother emotionally, and the child, her doll pressed against
her face, nodded.
Far down the road Burns was bidding Johnny Caruthers put on
more speed. "We have to make time to-day, Johnny," he
explained. "I'm going to get off on that ten-thirty to-night
if I have to break my other arm to do it. I don't know that
I'd be much more helpless than I am now if I did. Curious,
Johnny, how many things there are a man can't do with one
"I should say you could do more with that left hand of yours
than most folks can with both," declared young Caruthers,
honest admiration in his eye.
Burns laughed - a hearty, care-free laugh. He was in wild
spirits, Johnny could see that, and wondered why the Doctor
should be so happy over pulling a dead-beat family out of
their troubles. Everybody knew Joe Tressler. And Johnny
understood that the Doctor had given up going away on Joe's
account ten days ago, when he took the case on the eve of his
departure. Johnny had seen his employer in all stages of
tension since that day, as he had driven him out, at first
half-a-dozen times in the twenty-four hours, to this same
little old wreck of a house. Johnny had driven him to other
houses, also to one especially, in the city, where the lad had
sat and speculated much on the extremes of experience in the
life of a busy practitioner.
It was to this same house that Johnny took Burns next; a house
reached by a long drive through wonderful grounds, to a palace
of a home within which the man with his arm in the sling
disappeared with precisely the same rather brusque and hurried
bearing characteristic of him everywhere. But Johnny could
not see within. If he had, his honest eyes might have opened
On his way upstairs Burns was intercepted by the master of the
"You've decided to go with us, Doctor Burns, I hope?" The
question was put in the fashion of a person who expects but
one answer. But the answer proved to be not that one
"I'm sorry, but I can't do it, Mr. Walworth." Burns's left
hand, in the cordial grip which expresses hearty liking, was
retained while William Walworth, who was accustomed to be able
to arrange all things to his pleasure by the simple expedient
of paying whatever it might cost, stared into the bright hazel
eyes which met his with their usual straightforward glance.
"Can't'! But you must, my dear Doctor, Pardon me, but I feel
that no ordinary considerations can be allowed to stand in the
way. My daughter needs your care on this journey. Her mother
and I have agreed that her wish to have you with us must be
fulfilled. It's an essential factor in her recovery."
"It's not essential at all, Mr. Walworth. Miss Evelyn is well
started on the road to full health; she has only to keep on.
My going with you would be a mere matter of pleasing her, and
that's not in the least necessary."
His smile softened the words which struck upon the ear of the
magnate with an unaccustomed sound. Mr. Walworth released
Burns's hand, his manner stiffening slightly.
"I must differ with you, Doctor. I feel that at this stage
Evelyn's pleasure is a thing to be planned for. She has taken
this fancy to have you with us on the Mediterranean cruise.
We'll agree to land you and send you home at the end of a
couple of months if you positively feel that you can't neglect
your practice longer. But let me remind you, Doctor, that
your fee will be made to cover all possible income from your
practice during that time, and - I shall not be contented to
measure its size by that."
It was Burns's turn to stiffen within, if he did not let it
show outwardly. He spoke positively and finally. Even
William Walworth saw that it would be of no use to urge a man
who said quite quietly:
"I've thought it over, as I promised you, and decided against
it. I assure you I appreciate the honour you would do me, and
I should immensely like the experience. But I know my going
is not necessary to Miss Evelyn's recovery, and that's the
only thing that could make me hesitate. I'll go up and see
her at once, if you will forgive my haste. I have a busy day
William Walworth looked after him as he ran up the stately
staircase, and his thoughts were somewhat as Johnny
Caruthers's had been. "He's more of a man, crippled like
that, than any I know. I wonder why he won't go. I wonder.
But he won't, that's settled. Now to appease Evelyn. He'll
not find that so easy."
Burns did not find it easy. He sat down beside the
convalescent, a patient who had everything on her side with
which to win her chosen physician's consent to stay by her
till she should be in the possession once more of the blooming
beauty which had made her one of the envied of the earth. He
told her, in the direct manner he had used with her father,
that he could not fall in with their plans.
When he came away he was tingling all over. It had been so
plain. She had tried to disguise it, but she was where she
could not run to cover, and he had seen it all. It gave him
no pleasure: he was not that sort. He was sorry for the girl,
but he was not in the least anxious about her. She would get
over it; it was not his fault - he was conscience-clear on
that. If ever he had been coolly - however kindly -
professional in his bearing it had been in this home of great
wealth, where it would have gone against his inmost grain to
have seemed to court liking. If anything, his orders had been
more curt, his concessions fewer, his whole treatment of the
case on simpler lines than it might have been in almost any
less pretentious home with which he was familiar.
He ran down the stone steps in eager haste to be gone, his
vision still engaged with the reproachful look Evelyn's mother
had given him when she heard of his incredible refusal to
accompany the Walworths on the luxuriously-equipped expedition
in search of recuperation and enjoyment for the idolized only
daughter. "This settles me with them to the end of time, I
suppose," he said to himself. As the car ran down the drive,
he straightened his shoulders with a sense of thankfulness
that his practice was not often in the homes of the
comparatively few people who can afford to buy even that most
precious of commodities, the time of others, when that time
has been consecrated to certain uses.
"Not going to stop for lunch, Doctor?" inquired young
Caruthers anxiously, as the round of calls went on and one
o'clock passed, with the Imp in a portion of the city remote
from the hotel at which
Burns was accustomed to refresh himself and Johnny when home
was out of the question.
"We'll go to the hospital next, and I shall be there a couple
of hours. You can go and fill up then. I must be back at the
office by four - for engagements."
So the day went. The busy physician who goes out of town for
even a five days' vacation must plan for it and do much
arranging in various ways. In spite of the fact that it would
still be many weeks before Burns could attempt surgery again,
he was having plenty to do. Only the determination to get
away this time without fail made it possible for him to go.
But there would be never a time when he could better be
spared, and he meant to let nothing hinder his purpose.
"The arm's coming on well," was Doctor Buller's verdict late
that afternoon as he gave the healing member its usual
manipulation and massage. "It takes patience to wait, though,
doesn't it, Burns? Never tried a broken arm myself, but I
should say that hand must be itching to be at work in the
"Itching! It's burning, blistering, scarifying! I never knew
how I liked that part of my work till I had to come down to an
exclusive practice in pills and plasters. Grayson's doing a
stunt to-day that would have driven me mad with envy if I
could have stopped to look on. Doing it cleverly, too, by the
report I had from Van Horn just now. When Van takes the
trouble to praise another man it means something."
"Means it's been forced from him," commented Buller.
"Besides, Van enjoys praising Grayson to you. He's enjoyed
your smashed arm, too, the old fraud. Was he ever so decent
to you before?"
Burns laughed. "You can't strike fire that way today," he
declared. "Hold on! You're not going to put that arm back
into the splints?"
"Of course I am. It lacks two days yet off the shortest
modern regulation period. Come on here."
"Leave 'em off. I'll take the consequences."
"Don't be foolish, man. If I had my way I'd keep the thing
put up another full week. I'm not an advocate of this hurry
"I am. The arm's well enough to come out. I'll wear it in a
sling, but I want my coat sleeve on, and I'm going to have it
on. Fix me up, will you? I'm in a hurry."
"You're going on a journey?"
"Yes. Get busy."
"That's the very reason why you should keep that arm out of
danger till you get back. Jostling round in a crowd "
"Is this my arm or yours?" thundered Burns.
Buller laughed. "Don't knock me down with it, Pepper-pot. It
may be your arm, but you're my patient, and I - "
"Don't you fool yourself. If you won't fix me up I'll go out
with it hanging, I can judge my own condition. Will you dress
me and put any arm in this sling here, or must I send for
Grayson? He's none of your idiotic conservatives."
"Keep quiet, and I'll make you look pretty, little boy. I see
- these are new clothes just home from the tailor, and they're
an elegant fit. Bully fresh scarf, peach of a pin, brand-new
black silk sling - Oh, I say!"
For with his good left arm Burns was threatening his
professional friend in a way that looked ominous. But a laugh
was in his eye, now that he had got his way, and the
altercation ended in a fire of jokes. Then Burns stood up.
"You're a jewel, Buller boy," said he. "You've brought me
through in great shape. It was a nasty fracture, and you've
given me an arm that'll be as good as new. I'm grateful - you
know that. Now, if you'll look over that list I gave you of
cases here in the city, and go out once to take a look at
Letty Tressler, I'll be ever faithfully yours. Griggs'll see
to my village practice. Now I'm off."
"Hope you enjoy your trip. Must be a concentrated pleasure,
to be crammed into five days and still make you look like a
schoolboy just let out," observed Buller as Burns turned, with
his band on the door-knob.
"A dose doesn't have to be big to be powerful," rejoined
Burns, opening the door.
"Nitro-glycerin, eh?" Buller called after the departing bulk
of his friend. "Don't let it carry you too far up. You might
come down with a thud!"
"He's right enough there," was what Burns murmured to himself
as he caught the elevator in the great building in which
Buller's office was a crowded corner. "I may come down in
just that style. But better that than any more of this dead
level of suspense. I don't think I could stand that one more
He and Johnny Caruthers whirled home in the Imp to find
Burns's village office as crowded as Buller's city one. It
was late before he could get his dinner, and after it he was
kept busy turning calls over to other men. It was the usual
experience to have work pile up during the last hours, as if
Fate were against his breaking his chains and meant to tie him
hand and foot.
'I'm going to get out of this right now," he announced
suddenly to Miss Mathewson an hour before train time, as he
turned away from a siege over the telephone with one
hysterical lady who felt that her life depended upon his
remaining to see her through an attack of indigestion. "If I
don't, something will come in that will pull hard to keep me
home, and I'm not going to be kept. I'll trust you not to
look me up for the next hour, for I'll not tell you where I'm
going, and you can't guess, you know. Good-bye. Be a good
He wrung her hand, looking at her with that warmth of
friendliness which he was accustomed, when in the mood, to
bestow on her, recognizing how invaluable she was to him, and
never once recking what it meant to her to be so closely
associated with him. She answered in her usual quiet way,
wishing him a safe journey and bidding him be very careful of
the arm, no longer protected except by the silken sign that
injury had been done.
"In a crowd, you know, they won't notice the sling," she
"Won't they? Well, if my trusty left can't protect my
battered right I've forgotten my boxing tricks. Don't be
anxious about that, little friend. See that Amy Mathewson has
a good time in my absence, will you? She's looking just a bit
worn, to me."
She smiled, but her eyes did not meet his: she dared not let
them. With all his kindness to her he did not often speak
with the real affection which was in his voice now. She
understood that he was, for some reason, keyed high over his
prospective journey even higher than he had been ten days
before when on the point of leaving. And she knew well enough
where he was going, though he had not told her. It would have
taken thirty-six hours to go to Washington, spend a brief time
there and return. It was going to take five days to go to
South Carolina, remain long enough to transact his business -
was it business? - and come back. And there had been no more
attempts to write letters by way of an amanuensis. The
affection for his assistant in his manner to her was genuine,
she did not doubt that, but it did not deceive her for a
moment. So, she did not let her eyes meet his. They rested,
instead, on the scarfpin which Buller had termed a "peach,"
but they did not see it. She could not remember when it had
been so hard to maintain that quiet control of herself which
had long since made her employer cease to reckon with the
possibilities of fire beneath.
R. P. Burns stole away with Johnny and the Imp, without so
much as letting his neighbours know of his intentions. He had
made sure that they were all well; that no incipient scarlet
fever or invading measles was threatening them. He smiled to
himself as the car went past the Chester house, to think how
interested they would be to know where he was going. But he
got safely off and nobody opened a door at sound of the Imp to
call to him to come in a minute because somebody seemed not
And then, after all, he ran upon Arthur Chester - and at the
city station, to which he had taken the precaution to go,
although the ten-thirty stopped for a half-minute at the
village. It must be admitted that he tried to dodge his best
friend, but he did not succeed. His shoulders were too
conspicuous: he could not get away.
"Going to see an out-of-town patient at this hour of night?"
queried Chester, coming up warmly interested, as best friends
have a trick of being, in spite of all that can be done to
avert their curiosity.
"Where else would I be going?"
"I don't know where else, but I doubt if it's to see a
patient. There's an air about you that's not professional.
You - er - you can't be going to Washington? There's nobody
"No, only a few Government officials and some odds and ends of
hangers-on. To be sure, Congress is in session, but there's
nobody there. My train's been called, Ches; so long."
"Let me carry your bag." Chester reached for it. "I say, this
isn't a tool-kit - this is a stunner of a regulation
travelling bag. See here, Red," he was rushing along on the
other's side, fairly running to keep up with Burns's strides -
"how long are you going to be gone?"
"Long enough to get a change of air. The atmosphere's heavy
here with inquisitive people who call themselves your friends.
See here, Ches, you're not looking well. You need rest and
sleep. Go home and go to bed."
"You're always telling me to go home and go to bed. Not till
I see which train you take," panted Chester, his eyes
sparkling. "Ha! Going to turn in at Number Four gate, are
you? Sorry I can't take your bag inside. Well, possibly I
can guess your destination. Got your section clear through to
South Carolina? I say, keep your head, old man, keep your
Burns turned about, shook his fist at Arthur Chester, seized
his bag, rushed through the gateway and boarded the last of
the long string of Pullmans. On the platform he pulled off
his hat and waved it at his friend. He could forgive anybody
for anything tonight.
IN WHICH HE MAKES NO EVENING CALL
Burns opened the white gate - it was sagging a little on its
hinges -and walked up the moss-grown path between the rows of
liveoaks to the tall-columned portico of the still stately, if
somewhat timeworn and decayed, mansion among the shrubbery.
It was just at dusk, and far away somewhere a whippoorwill was
calling. It was the only sound on the quiet air.
The door was opened by an old negro servant, who hesitated
over his answer to the question put by this unknown person
looming up before him with his arm in a sling. Mrs. Elmore
was in, but she was not well and could not see any visitors
"Is Mrs. Lessing in?"
"Yas, Sah, she is. But she done tole me she couldn't see
nobody herse'f. She tekkin' cah ob Miss Lucy."
Burns produced his card and made a persuasive request. The
old darky led the way to a long, nearly dark apartment, where
the scent of roses mingled with the peculiar odour of old
mahogany and ancient rugs and hangings. The servant lit a
tall, antique lamp with crystal pendants hanging from its
shade, the light from which fell upon a bowlful of crimson
roses so that they glowed richly. He left Burns, departing
with a shufing step and an air of grudging the strange
gentleman the occupancy of the room, although it was to be for
only so long as it would take to bring back word that neither
of the ladies would see him to-night.
Burns sat still for the space of two minutes then, as no
further sound could be heard in the quiet house, he became
restless. His pulses beat rather heavily and, to quiet them
or the sense of them, he got up and walked about, pausing at
one of the long French windows to gaze out into the dusky
labyrinth of a garden, where he could just make out paths
winding about among the bushes. The night was mild, and the
window stood ajar as if some one had lately come in.
Then he turned and saw her. She had almost reached him, but
he had not heard her, her footfall upon the old Turkey carpet
with its faded roses and lilies had been so light. She was in
white, and the light from the old lamp shone on her arms end
face and brought out the shadows of her hair and eyes. She
put out both hands - then quickly drew back one as her glance
fell upon the sling, and gave him her left, smiling. But he
drew the arm that had been broken out of its support and held
"Please take this hand, too," he said. "It will be its first
experience and, perhaps, it will put new life into it. It's
pretty limp yet."
She laid hers in it very gently, looking down at it as his
fingers closed slowly over hers.
"That's doing very well, I should think," she said. "It's
barely time for it to be independent yet, is it?"
"About time. I had something of a wrestle with Doctor Buller
to get him to leave the splints off. How warm and soft your
hand is. This one of mine has forgotten how the touch of
another hand feels."
"I'm sure you ought not to use it yet. Please put it back in
the sling." She drew her own hand gently away.
It occurred to him that while he had been absent from her he
had not been able to recall half her charm, and that if he had
he would never have been able to wait half so long before
pursuing her down into this Southern haunt of hers. He drew a
full, contented breath.
"At last," he said, "I am face to face with you. It's worth
In the lamplight it seemed to him the rose cast a reflection
on her face which he had not observed at first.
"I'm so sorry Aunt Lucy isn't able to see you tonight," she
said - "unless she would consent go see you professionally.
She really ought "
He held up his hand "Not unless she is in serious straits,
please," he begged. "I've fled from patients, only to find
them all the way down on the train. I don't know what there
can be about me to suggest to a conductor that I'm the man
he's looking for to attend some emergency case, but he seems
to spot me. Only at the station before this did I get
released from the last of the series. Let me forget my
profession for a bit if I can, just now I'm only a man who's
come a long way to see you. Is it really you?"
He leaned forward, studying her intently. His head, with its
coppery thatch of heavy hair, showed powerful lines in the
lamplight; beneath his dark throws the hazel eyes glowed
"It's certainly I," she answered lightly. "And being I, with
the mistress of the house prevented from showing you
hospitality, I must offer it. She begged me to make you
comfortable and to tell you she would see you in the morning.
You've had a long journey. You must want the comfort of a
room and hot water. I'll ring for Old Sam."
She crossed the room and pulled an old-fashioned bell-cord,
upon which a bell was heard to jangle far away. The old darky
"I should have gone to a hotel," Burns said, "if I could have
found one in the place."
"There is none. And if there had been Aunt Lucy would have
been much hurt to have you go there. Where did you leave your
"At the station. I can stay only for a night and a day, so
it's a small one."
"I'll send Young Sam for it. Now let Sam take you to your
room, and in a few minutes I'll give you supper,"
"Don't bother about supper at this hour. I only want - "
"You want what you are to have, - some of Sue's delicious
Southern cookery." She smiled at him as he looked back at
her, following the old servant. "She's been in the family for
forty years and she loves to have company to appreciate her
dishes. Sam, you are to help Doctor Burns. He has had a
When Burns came down, fresh from a bath and comfortable with
clean linen, he smelled odours which made him realize that,
eager as he was for other things, he was human enough to be
intensely hungry with a healthy man's appetite. So he
surrendered himself to the fortunes that now befell him.
Old Sam conducted him to the dining-room, a quaintly
attractive apartment where candle-light illumined the bare
mahogany of the round table laid with a large square of linen
at his place and set with delicate ancient china and silver.
Ellen Lessing was already there in a high-backed chair
opposite the one set for him, a figure to which his eyes were
again drawn irresistibly and upon which they continued to rest
as he took his seat.
Sam disappeared toward the kitchen, and Burns spoke in a low
voice across the table.
"I feel as if I were in a dream," said he. "Forty-eight hours
ago I was rushing about, hundreds of miles from here, trying
to attend to the wants of a lot of people who seemed
determined not to let me get away. Now I'm down here in the
midst of all this quiet and peace, with you before me to look
at, and nobody to demand anything of me for at least
twenty-four hours. It's all too good to be true."
"It seems rather odd to me, too," she answered, letting her
eyes stray from his and rest upon the bowl of japonicas of a
glowing pink, which stood in the centre of the table. The
candle-light made little starry points in her dark eyes as she
looked at the rich-hued blooms. "The last person in the world
I was expecting to see to-night was you."
"I suppose I was as far from your thoughts as your
expectation," he suggested.
"How should I be thinking of a person who had not written to
me for so long I thought he had forgotten me?" she asked, and
then as he broke out into a delighted laugh at her expense she
grew as, pink as her flowers and seemed to welcome the return
of Sam bearing a trayful of Sue's good things to eat.
Fried chicken and sweet potatoes, beaten biscuit and fragrant
coffee, had a flavour all their own to Burns that night. He
ate as a hungry man should, yet never forgot his companion for
a moment or allowed her to imagine that he forgot her. And by
and by the meal was over and the two rose from the table.
"I must go and see that Auntie is comfortable for the night,
if you will excuse me for half an hour," said the person he
had come to see. "Will you wait in the drawing-room? I will
have Sam bring you some late magazines."
"I'll wait, and no magazines, thank you. I can fill the time
somehow," he answered. "But don't let it be more than the
half-hour, will you?"
He watched her until she disappeared from his sight at the
turn of the staircase landing, then went in to pace up and
down the long room, his left arm folded over his right, after
the fashion he had acquired since the right arm became
useless. After what seemed an interminable interval she came
back. He met her at the door.
"Are the duties all done?" he inquired.
"All done for the present. I must look in on Auntie by and
by, but I think she is going to sleep."
"May she sleep the sleep of the just! And there's nothing
more you feel it incumbent upon you to do for me? No more
sending me to my room, no more waiting upon me by Sam, no more
feeding me till my capacity is reached? Is there really no
notion in your mind as to how you can put off the coming
His voice had its old, whimsical inflection, but there was a
deeper note in it, too. She parried him gently, yet not quite
so composedly as was her wont.
"Why should I want to put if off? Aren't we going to sit down
and have a delightful talk? I want to hear all about Bob and
Martha and all of them, and about your work since I saw you."
"You want to hear all about those things, do you? I had the
impression that we discussed them quite thoroughly while I was
at supper. Still, I can go over them all again if you insist.
It may take up another five minutes, and when one is fencing
for time, even five minutes counts."
It was his old way, with a vengeance. There was a saying of
Arthur Chester's current among his and Burns's friends that it
never was of any use to try to evade Red Pepper when once he
had begun to fire upon your defenses. With his eyes searching
you and his insolent tongue putting point blank questions to
you, you might as well capitulate first as last.
There being no conceivable answer to this thrust about fencing
for time, even for a woman experienced in replying skilfully
to men under all sorts of conditions, Ellen Lessing was forced
to look up or play the part of a shy girl. So she looked up,
lifting her head bravely. There really was nothing else to
It was all in his face. He had not come all those hundreds of
miles to pay her an evening call, nor did he mean to be put
off longer. His eyes held hers: she could not withdraw them.
"It's odd," he said, speaking slowly, "how like a magnet
drawing a steel bar you've drawn me down here. Pull-pull-pull
an irresistible force. I wonder if the magnet feels the
attraction, too? Could it pull so hard if it didn't?"
There was a long minute during which neither stirred - it
might have been the counterpart of that minute, months back,
when they had first observed each other. Recognition it was,
perhaps, at the very first; there could be no question about
the recognition now - it went deep.
Suddenly he slipped his right arm out of the sling. Before
she could draw breath she was in the circle of his arms, but
he had not touched her.
"Am I wrong?" he was saying. "Has it pulled both ways from
It must be as useless for the magnet to resist as for the bar.
And when they, have come within a certain distance of each
If Red Pepper's left arm caught her in the stronger grasp, the
right did all, and more than all, that could have been
expected of it. It was his right arm which slowly drew her
hands up, one after the other, and indicated to them that
their place was; locked together, behind his neck.
An old garden in South Carolina is a place to lure the
Northerner out-of-doors. Before breakfast next morning Burns
was walking down the box-bordered paths, feasting his gaze and
his sense of fragrance on the clumps of blue and white
violets, the clusters of gay crocuses, the splendid spikes of
Roman hyacinths. But he did not fail to keep track of all
doorways in sight, and when she appeared at the open French
window of the drawing-room he was there in a trice, offering
her a bunch of purple violets and feasting his eyes upon her
"I'm still dreaming, I think," said he when he had drawn her
back into the quiet room long enough to satisfy himself with
the active demonstration that possession means privilege, and
had himself fastened the violets in the front of her crisp
white morning dress. "Dreaming that I can stay down here in
this wonderful paradise with you and not go back to the
slave's life I lead."
"You would never be happy away from that slave's life long,
you know," she reminded him. "The rush of it is the joy of it
"How will it be to you? I shall be yours, you remember, till
Joe Tressler or any other ne'er-do-weel wants me, then I'm
"But you'll always come back to me," said she.
"And will you be content with that?"
"So long as you want to come back."
He looked steadily into her eyes, and his own took fire.
"Want to come back! I've waited a long time to find the woman
I could be sure I should always want to come back to. I
thought there would never be such a woman: not for an erratic
fellow like me . . . . But now I'm wondering how I shall ever
be able to stay away."
IN WHICH HE DEFIES SUPERSTITION
Hades of Hymen! Red, are you making calls this morning?"
"Why not? I'm not to be married till noon, am I?"
"I say, take me with you, will you? I want to go along with a
man who has the nerve to see patients up to the last minute
before his wedding!"
"Takes less nerve than to sit around and wait for the fateful
hour, I should say. Come on, if you think you'll have time to
dress when you get back. It may be close work."
"Haven't you got to dress yourself?" demanded Arthur Chester,
settling himself in the car beside its driver. "Or shall you
go to the altar in tweeds with April mud on your boots?"
"Rather than not get there, yes. But I can dress in half the
time you can - always could, and necessity has developed the
art. Look here, there isn't any April mud. The roads are
"Oh, I suppose if I were booked for a wedding journey in the
Green Imp before the leaves were fairly out I shouldn't be
able to see any mud myself. As it is, well, I don't know the
colour of the bride's motoring clothes, but I presume they'll
be adapted to the circumstances. I never saw her look
anything but ready for whatever situation she happened to be
in. That's a trick that'll serve her many a good turn as the
wife of R. P. Burns, M.D., eh, Red?"
The Imp whirled about the country all the morning, having made
an early start. The car was in fine fettle, like a horse that
has been trained for a race. Although it was beginning its
second season it had never been in better trim for business.
The engine, having been cared for and seldom abused, was
running more smoothly than when it had been first put upon the
road. The Imp had had a fresh coat of the dark-green which
gave it its name, and its brasswork was shining as only Johnny
Caruthers by long and untiring labors could make metal shine.
It had that morning acquired a luggage-rack attached to its
rear, which was soon to receive a leather-covered motor trunk
at that moment receiving its final consignments in the
Macauley house; and there were several other new fittings
about the machine which indicated that it was presently to be
put to uses which had never been required of it before.
The Imp drew up in front of the hospital. Chester looked
anxiously at his watch for the twenty-seventh time that
morning. "For Heaven's sake, hurry, Red," he urged. "Women
are the dickens about having a wedding late, and it's ten
minutes of eleven now. Noon comes sure and soon, and at noon,
allow me to remind you - "
Burns nodded. "Keep cool, boy," he recommended. "No use
getting excited before a critical operation."
But he disappeared at a pace fast enough to satisfy Chester,
who sat back and said to himself that R. P. had come nearer
giving the crisis before him its appropriate name than he had
ever heard done before.
He became anxious again, however, before Burns returned, and
his watch was in his hand when the prospective bridegroom
bolted out of the hospital door and ran for his car as if he
had not a moment to spare.
"Glad to see you're losing your head a trifle at last,"
commented Chester as the Imp turned a dizzy curve and shot
away. "It's the only proper thing. But we've really enough
time if you don't stop anywhere else. What's the matter?
Good Lord, man, you'll get nabbed if you speed up like this
within limits. You - "
"Cut it and don't talk. I've got to make time," was all the
answer or explanation he received; and Chester, with the
wisdom of long association with Red Pepper at his pepperest,
As they approached the house Burns spoke for the first time
since they had left the city. "Go in and tell the bunch I
have to do an operation at the hospital as quick as I can get
my stuff and drive back there. I'll be back at - "
"Great Christopher, man! But - "
"I can be back by two. Ellen will understand."
"The deuce she will! Don't ask me to explain to her."
"I won't. I'll do it myself. You tell the rest."
The Imp shot up the driveway. Burns jumped out and ran to his
office. Five minutes later, instrument bag in hand, he ran
out again, Miss Mathewson following. He bolted in at the
Macauleys' front door. Chester had already broken the
incredible news to Martha Macauley and was standing out a
storm of expostulations and reproaches, as if by any chance
anybody could expect Arthur Chester to be able to stop R. P.
Burns when be had started upon any course of action
whatsoever. But when Burns himself appeared at the doorway
the situation came to a crisis. Towering beside a group of
palms which decorated the foot of the staircase Burns demanded
to see Ellen.
"Why, Red, you can't. She's - besides how can you - "
"Ask her to come where I can speak to her then. Quick,
"But she - "
There was no knowing how long the sparring might have lasted,
or what extreme measures might have been taken, had not a
figure in a floating lilac-and-white garment, with two long
braids of dark hair hanging over its shoulders, appeared upon
the staircase landing. Burns looked up, saw it, and was up
the stairs to the landing before Chester could flick an
"Dear, to save a life I want to delay things just two hours.
There's nobody else to do it. Van Horn was taken ill just as
he was getting ready. The only other man who would venture
under the conditions - Grayson - is out of town."
His arms were about her as she stood a step above him. So,
her eyes were level with his.
"Do it, of course," she whispered. "And take my love with
For one minute Burns stayed to tell her that he had known she
would send him to his duty, then he was off. The door slammed
behind him, and outside the Imp's horn sent back a parting
>From the bottom stair Martha Macauley, distressed young matron
and hostess, gazed up at her sister, who, with arms leaning on
the vine-wreathed rail at the landing, was smiling down at
"Ellen! Was ever anything so crazy! I did suppose Red would
take time enough to be married in. There's everybody coming."
"So few you can easily telephone them all to wait."
"And the breakfast under way - "
"It will keep."
"Aren't you superstitious enough not to want to postpone your
wedding?" demanded Martha urgently.
The dark braids of hair swung violently as the bride's head
was emphatically shaken. "Martha! Take it back! Let
somebody die because I was afraid to wait two hours?"
"I don't believe anybody would die," insisted Martha.
"Somebody could be found. It's just Red's ridiculous craze
for surgery. I always said he'd rather operate than eat.
Now, it seems he'd rather operate than be - "
But at this moment a large, determined hand came over her
mouth from behind, as James Macauley, junior, arriving upon
the scene, asserted his authority. He was in bathrobe and
slippers, having been excitedly interviewed by Chester through
the bathroom door.
"Quit fussing, Marty. The thing can't be helped, and if Ellen
doesn't mind I don't know why we should. If we were having a
houseful it would be fierce, but with only ourselves and the
Chesters and the minister's family and Red's people - I'll go
telephone Mr. Harding now."
As Martha freed herself from the silencing hand the front door
opened again. This time it was Mrs. Richard Warburton -
Burns's young sister Anne - also in somewhat informal attire,
over which she had thrown an evening coat. She surveyed the
group with laughing eyes. She herself had been married within
"It's absurd, isn't it?" she cried. "But it's just like Red.
Ellen knows that, don't you, dear? Ellen'll not only take him
for better and for worse, but for present and for absent -
mostly absent! But we're rather proud of him over at the
house. Father's walking up and down and saying no other
fellow would have done it, and Mother's all tearful and
smiling. Dick wanted to go in with him, but of course Miss
Mathewson had to go: he seldom operates without her."
"It's so uncertain when he'll get back," mourned Martha, still
"I made Miss Mathewson promise to telephone, the moment she
should know. It's lucky the wedding guests are all in the
family, isn't it? Ellen, dear" - pretty Anne ran up the
stairs to the landing - "I really don't see how, after he
caught sight of you in that fascinating garb, with your hair
down, he could ever tear himself away! You're positively the
loveliest thing I ever saw in all my life, and I'm almost out
of my senses with joy that you're to be my sister, even though
I never saw you in the world till yesterday! I always said
when Red did care for anybody for keeps, she'd be a jewel!"
Red Pepper came back at precisely twenty minutes of three.
His patient had given him a bad hour of anxiety immediately
after leaving the table, and he could not desert her until she
had rallied. But he felt easy about her now, and he had
arranged to leave her in Buller's hands - Buller, who did not
do major surgery himself, but was a most competent man when it
came to the care of surgical patients after operation. Burns
brought Amy Mathewson back with him, though she had begged to
be allowed to stay with the case.
"And not be at my wedding?" cried Red Pepper, in exuberant
spirits. "Why, I couldn't be properly married without you to
see me through!"
Upon which she had smiled and obeyed him, and taken a tighter
grip upon herself as he put her into the Green Imp for the
last ride together. That was what it was to her, though she
might yet go with him a thousand times to help him in his
work. To him it was a quick and joyful journey back to his
"All right, Mother and Dad!" he exulted, coming in upon them
in their festal array. He shook hands with his father and his
brother-in-law; he kissed his mother. Then he ran for his own
room where Bobby Burns, just being finished off by Anne,
herself superbly dressed, shrieked with rapture at the sight
"Red! At last! I've laid everything ready; you've only to
jump into your bath; I turned on the water when Dick saw the
Imp down the road. Don't you dare have a vestige of a
surgical odour about you when you come out!"
In precisely seventeen minutes and. three-quarters the
bridegroom was ready to the last coppery affair on his head.
"Have I a `surgical odour,' Anne?" he asked as he came up to
She buried her face on his shoulder, both arms about him,
regardless of her finery. "You're the dearest, sweetest old
trump of a brother that ever lived, and you smell like
sunshine and fresh air!" she cried. Whereat he shook with
laughter and patted her back as she clung to him,
"Promise me, Red," she begged, lifting her head, "that you
won't let anything - anything - keep you from going off with
Ellen in the Imp. She's been so lovely about this horrid
delay, but I'm always suspicious of you. Promise!"
"I promise you this," agreed her brother: "Wherever the Imp
and I go, after the minister has said the words, for this two
weeks Ellen shall go with me."
"Chester," said Dick Warburton as he stood in that gentleman's
company, looking over a stupendous assortment of wedding
gifts, which, in spite of the fact that nobody outside the
family had been asked to see Redfield Pepper Burns married,
overflowed two large rooms into the upper hall and almost over
the railing, "will you tell me who in the name of time sent
that rat-trap? This is the most extraordinary display of
gold, silver, and tinware that I ever saw, and I'm at the end
of my astonishment. But that rat-trap, is it a joke?"
"No joke whatever -," declared Chester. "It comes from one of
R, Red's - devoted friends - his own invention. And the point
of the thing is that the making of that rat-trap is going to
be the making of the worst dead-beat of a patient Red ever
stood by. I really believe Joe Tressler's going to get a
patent on it, which also will be Red's doing. But this is a
special, particular rat-trap made of extra fine materials,
suitable for a wedding gift!"
"Well, well," mused Burns's brother-in-law. "And what
millionaire sent the diamond pendant? By Jove, I haven't seen
finer jewels than those this side of the water."
"That came from the Walworths, I believe. Take it all
together, it's a great collection, isn't it? It shows up the
odder because Ellen wouldn't have the freak grateful-patient
gifts put to one side - or even thrown into a sort of refining
shadow. Fix your eye on that rainbow quilt, will you, Dicky,
alongside of the Florentine tapestry? That quilt would put
out your eye if you gazed upon it steadily, so let up on it by
regarding this match-safe. Wouldn't that - "
"That came from Johnny Caruthers," said a richly modulated low
voice behind him. "Please set it down carefully, Mr. Arthur
The two men wheeled to see the bride come to the defense of
her wedding gifts. Behind her loomed her husband, laughing
over her head, his eyes none the less tender, like hers, for
the queer presents which meant no less of love and gratitude
than the costlier gifts, of which there was no mean array.
"I see you've married him, patients and all, Ellen Burns,"
declared Richard Warburton. "On the whole, it's your wisest
course. The less he knows you mind their devotion to him - "
"Mind it!" She gave him the flash of which the soft black eyes
were brilliantly capable. "Dick, I have no gift I like so
well as that rat-trap. You don't know the story, but I do,
and it means to me - fidelity to duty. And if there's one
great big thing in the world I think it's that!"
Over her head, Dick Warburton nodded at his brother-in-law.
"I'm glad we've got her into the family, Red," said he. "It's
a mighty rare thing to find a beautiful woman who knows how to
dress like a picture, with that ideal at the back of her head!
'Cherish her, Red. If you don't I'll come around and knock
"I'll let you do it," agreed Burns soberly. All his marriage
vows were in his face.
It was quite dusk when the Green Imp got away. Johnny
Caruthers had the satisfaction of lighting up the car's lamps
- always a joy to him, and particularly so to-night, for even
the oil taillight bore witness to his trimming and polishing
till its red eye could gleam no brighter. As for the front
lamps and the searchlight the Imp's progress would be as down
an avenue of brilliance if its driver allowed them all full
play upon the road.
"She's in great trim, Johnny," said Burns's voice in his ear.
"I like her looks immensely. I shall hate to get a speck of
mud on her."
"Meaning the lady, Doc?" asked Johnny anxiously. "There's a
wet bit there under the elms, Doc, remember. It would be a
pity to splash any mud on her!"
He glanced toward the porch, his freckled face eloquent of his
admiration for the figure which was the centre of the group
Burns's eyes followed his. Bob, a picturesque, small person
in his wedding attire of white linen, was attempting to tie
Ellen's motor-veil for her, as she stooped, smiling, to the
level of his eager little arms. It occurred to both master
and man, as they watched the child's efforts to adjust the
floating chiffon, that veils, however useful, were to be
regretted when they were allowed even partially to obscure
faces like those of Red Pepper's wife.
"I meant the car, lad," explained Burns, laughing. "You've
done a great piece of work an her since I brought her home
this afternoon. I'm afraid you've done some last polishing
with your wedding clothes on, Johnny. Here's some, thing to
take the spots out."
"Oh, Doc!" breathed the boy. "Not to-night, Let me do it -
for you - and her."
The money went back into Burns's pocket, and his hand met
Johnny's in a hearty grasp. "That's better yet," said he,
"and thank you, John. If anybody but you were sending me off
I'd ask if everything was surely in the car But I'll not even
"You don't need to," vowed the boy proudly. "And there's some
things in you don't need to know about, just extrys in case of
"Now, that," said his employer, "is what call proving one's
self a friend."
The Imp went cautiously through the "wet bit," for it lay
under the corner arc-light, and Johnny Caruthers would be
watching. But, once on the open road outside the village, the
pace quickened. For late April the roads were not bad, and if
they had been sloughs the Imp Could have pulled through them.
She had a great power hidden away in those six cylinders of
hers, had the Imp.
"You'll not mind if I stop at the hospital as we go through?"
questioned Burns. "Then we'll be off, out the old west road,
out of reach of telephones and summonses of any sort. But I
shall be just that much easier "
"Do stop, please. I'm sure you'll be more satisfied and so
She sat quietly in the cat while he was gone looking up at the
lighted windows and thinking all sorts of sympathetic thoughts
concerning those inside -yet with a tiny fear in her heart
that he would find some new and unavoidable duty to detain
him. If he should
But he was back, and as the Imp's searchlight fell upon his
face, returning, she read there that he was free.
"Doing well, everything satisfactory, and I've not a care in
the world," he exulted as he leaped in. "Now we're off, and
never a stop till we've put a wide space between us and the
rest of them."
The Green Imp ran at its quietest along the city streets.
then through the thinning suburbs, and finally, with the
lights all behind them, the open country ahead, the long, low
car came out upon the straight highway which leads a hundred
miles before it comes again to any but insignificant hamlets
and small, rustic inns.
Burns had said little thus far, but as he glanced over his
shoulder at the now distant lights of the city he suddenly
spoke low, out of the quiet:
"We're out of reach of everything and everybody; nobody even
knows the road we're taking. We're all alone in the world
together. You can't think what that means to me. I've lived
nine years at the call of every soul that wanted me: hardly a
vacation except for study. A fortnight seems pretty short
allowance for a honeymoon; we'll take a longer one when we go
to Germany in the fall. But - for two weeks "
He looked down at her in the April starlight. He bent to
finish the statement, whatever it might have been, upon her
lips, for speech failed him. Then, with a happy laugh, he
gave the Green Imp her head.