“Pray, papa, don’t drink any more,” said she, persuasively—“it makes you nervous, and will bring on one of those frightful attacks again.”
“Let me alone,” he remonstrated harshly—“let me alone, and take your hand off the glass; the doctor has forbidden laudanum, so I will have brandy instead—take off your hand and let me drink, I say.”
Lizzie still kept her hand upon the decanter, and continued gently: “No, no, dear pa—you promised me you would only drink two glasses, and you have already taken three—it is exceedingly injurious. The doctor insisted upon it that you should decrease the quantity—and you are adding to it instead.”
“Devil take the doctor!” exclaimed he roughly, endeavouring to disengage her hold—“give me the liquor, I say.”
His daughter did not appear the least alarmed at this violence of manner, nor suffer her grasp upon the neck of the decanter to be relaxed; but all the while spoke soothing words to the angry old man, and endeavoured to persuade him to relinquish his intention of drinking any more.
“You don’t respect your old father,” he cried, in a whining tone—“you take advantage of my helplessness, all of you—you ill-treat me and deny me the very comforts of life! I’ll tell—I’ll tell the doctor,” he continued, as his voice subsided into an almost inaudible tone, and he sank back into the chair in a state of semi-stupor.
Removing the liquor from his reach, his daughter rang the bell, and then walked towards the door of the room.
“Who procured that liquor for my father?” she asked of the servant who entered.
“I did, miss,” answered the man, hesitatingly.
“Let this be the last time you do such a thing,” she rejoined, eyeing him sternly, “unless you wish to be discharged. I thought you all fully understood that on no consideration was my father to have liquor, unless by the physician’s or my order—it aggravates his disease and neutralizes all the doctor’s efforts—and, unless you wish to be immediately discharged, never repeat the same offence. Now, procure some assistance—it is time my father was prepared for bed.”
The man bowed and left the apartment; but soon returned, saying there was a person in the hall who had forced his way into the house, and who positively refused to stir until he saw Mr. Stevens.
“He has been here two or three times,” added the man, “and he is very rough and impudent.”
“This is most singular conduct,” exclaimed Miss Stevens. “Did he give his name?”
“Yes, miss; he calls himself McCloskey.”
At the utterance of this well-known name, Mr. Stevens raised his head, and stared at the speaker with a look of stupid fright, and inquired, “Who here—what name is that?—speak louder—what name?”
“McCloskey,” answered the man, in a louder tone.
“What! he—he!” cried Mr. Stevens, with a terrified look. “Where—where is he?” he continued, endeavouring to rise—“where is he?”