The Man in Lonely Land eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 114 pages of information about The Man in Lonely Land.

XIII

MR. LAINE GOES SHOPPING ALONE

“Did you ring, sir?”

Moses, standing at the door, waited, and as he waited he talked to himself.  “Something is the matter with Mr. Laine.  He ain’t never call Gineral’s name since he done pass away, and I know the miss of him has been a-smartin’, but don’t seem like that would have made him so restless like he been.  ’Tain’t like him to come in and go right out, and come back and go out again.  He got something on his mind, a kind of warfare like.”  He coughed slightly and again spoke.  “Did you ring, Mr. Laine?”

“I did.  Five minutes ago.  As a member of the leisure class you’d take a blue ribbon, Moses.  Where in the devil are you?  Why don’t you come in?  I can’t talk to air.”

“I was waitin’ to see if I was mistook:  about the bell.”  Moses came inside the room.

“Where I come from folks don’t step so lively as they do up here, and old Colonel Tayloes, he used to say there ain’t nothin’ so inelegant as hurry, lessen ’tis worry.  But of course I shouldn’t have had no discussion in my mind about that bell.  I got a bad way of projectin’ when—­”

“You don’t want to move.  You have.  Any day an affidavit is needed to that effect I’ll sign it.  Did you go to that address I gave you yesterday?”

“Yes, sir.  I went and I been a-tryin’ to forgit I went ever since I got back.  It’s God’s truth the boy told you, I seen him and his ma, and all the other children ’cept those at work, and the whole of ’em was livin’ in two rooms, and a closet where the biggest boy slept.  Their pa he got kilt at the shops where he work, and the lawyer what undertook to get damages got ’em, and they ain’t seen him since.”

“Did you notice the size of the woman and the age of the children?”

“Yes, sir.  The mother she come near ’bout up to my shoulder and was thin and wore-out lookin’.  The two little ones was four and two years old.  You saw the lame one.  There’s a girl seven.  She’s a puller-out of bastin’s, her ma said, and the oldest girl is fourteen.  She’s a runner, or a cash, or somethin’ in a store.  The biggest boy is in a foundry-shop and the lame one sells papers.”

“A mother and six children.”  Laine made some notes in a book and put it back in his pocket.  “I’m going out.  Have a cab here at eight-thirty.  The things I bring back will be put in the room at the end of the hall.  On Christmas Eve you are to buy what I’ve mentioned in this”—­he handed him an envelope—­“and with them take the bundles in the room to the place you went to yesterday.  You are not to know who sent them, and when you come back you are to forget you’ve been, and no one is to be told.  You have a great habit of telling Dorothea things.  I’m understood, am I?”

“Yes, sir.  You is understood, I know about a left hand and a right hand.  God knows I’ll be glad to go again if it’s to take some Christmas to them.  That woman’s face kinder hant me ever sence I seen it.  ‘Twasn’t mad or nothin’, but plum beat out.  I had to make a little egg-nog for my stomach when I got home.  ’Tain’t time for egg-nog, but a disturbance in the stomach—­”

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The Man in Lonely Land from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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