“Evidently,” said he, “she has been anxious over something, previous to this, but some definite shock must have caused the final collapse.”
He was a little man, and he spoke drily, with a maddening deliberation. “There was a letter—this morning,” Felicia said, faintly.
“It might be well to find the letter, in order to ascertain the exact nature of the shock,” said the doctor.
Ken went to his mother’s room and searched her desk. He came back presently with a legal envelop, and his face was blank and half uncomprehending. The doctor took the paper from him and skimmed the contents.
“Ah—hm. ’United Stock ... the mine having practically run out ... war causing further depreciation ... regret to inform you, ... hm, yes. My dear young people, it appears from this that your mother has lost a good deal of money—possibly all her money. I should advise your seeing her attorney at once. Undoubtedly he will be able to make a satisfactory adjustment.”
He handed the paper back to Ken, who took it mechanically. Then, with the information that it would be necessary for their mother to go to a sanatorium to recuperate, and that he would send them a most capable nurse immediately, the doctor slipped out—a neat little figure, stepping along lightly on his toes. “Can you think straight, Ken?” Felicia said, later, in the first breathing pause after the doctor’s departure and the arrival of the brisk young woman who took possession of the entire house as soon as she stepped over the threshold.
“I’m trying to,” Ken replied, slowly. He began counting vaguely on his fingers. “It means Mother’s got to go away to a nervous sanatorium place. It means we’re poor. Phil, we may have to—I don’t know what.”
“What do they do with people who have no money?” Felicia asked dismally. “They send them to the poor-farm or something, don’t they?”
“Don’t talk utter bosh, Phil! As if I’d ever let you or Kirk go to the poor-farm!”
“Kirk!” Felicia murmured. “Suppose they took him away! They might, you know—the State, and send him to one of those institutions!”
“Oh, drop it!” snapped Ken. “We don’t even know how much money it is Mother’s lost. I don’t suppose she had it all in this bally mine. Who is her attorney, anyway!”
“Mr. Dodge,—don’t you remember? Nice, with a pink face and bristly hair. He came here long ago about Daddy’s business.”
There was a swift rush of feet on the stairs, a pause in the hallway, and Kirk appeared at the door.
“I told Maggie,” said he, “and supper’s ready. And what’s specially nice is the toast, because I made it myself—only Norah told me when it was done.”
Ken and Felicia looked at one another, and wondered how much supper they could eat. Then Ken swung Kirk to his shoulder, and said:
“All right, old boy, we’ll come and eat your toast.”