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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 282 pages of information about The 30,000 Dollar Bequest and Other Stories.

Pretty soon Tom and Joe arrived, and then all hands set about adoring the house with flowers.  Toward nine the three miners said that as they had brought their instruments they might as well tune up, for the boys and girls would soon be arriving now, and hungry for a good, old-fashioned break-down.  A fiddle, a banjo, and a clarinet —­these were the instruments.  The trio took their places side by side, and began to play some rattling dance-music, and beat time with their big boots.

It was getting very close to nine.  Henry was standing in the door with his eyes directed up the road, his body swaying to the torture of his mental distress.  He had been made to drink his wife’s health and safety several times, and now Tom shouted: 

“All hands stand by!  One more drink, and she’s here!”

Joe brought the glasses on a waiter, and served the party.  I reached for one of the two remaining glasses, but Joe growled under his breath: 

“Drop that!  Take the other.”

Which I did.  Henry was served last.  He had hardly swallowed his drink when the clock began to strike.  He listened till it finished, his face growing pale and paler; then he said: 

“Boys, I’m sick with fear.  Help me—­I want to lie down!”

They helped him to the sofa.  He began to nestle and drowse, but presently spoke like one talking in his sleep, and said:  “Did I hear horses’ feet?  Have they come?”

One of the veterans answered, close to his ear:  “It was Jimmy Parish come to say the party got delayed, but they’re right up the road a piece, and coming along.  Her horse is lame, but she’ll be here in half an hour.”

“Oh, I’m so thankful nothing has happened!”

He was asleep almost before the words were out of his mouth.  In a moment those handy men had his clothes off, and had tucked him into his bed in the chamber where I had washed my hands.  They closed the door and came back.  Then they seemed preparing to leave; but I said:  “Please don’t go, gentlemen.  She won’t know me; I am a stranger.”

They glanced at each other.  Then Joe said: 

“She?  Poor thing, she’s been dead nineteen years!”

“Dead?”

“That or worse.  She went to see her folks half a year after she was married, and on her way back, on a Saturday evening, the Indians captured her within five miles of this place, and she’s never been heard of since.”

“And he lost his mind in consequence?”

“Never has been sane an hour since.  But he only gets bad when that time of year comes round.  Then we begin to drop in here, three days before she’s due, to encourage him up, and ask if he’s heard from her, and Saturday we all come and fix up the house with flowers, and get everything ready for a dance.  We’ve done it every year for nineteen years.  The first Saturday there was twenty-seven of us, without counting the girls; there’s only three of us now, and the girls are gone.  We drug him to sleep, or he would go wild; then he’s all right for another year—­thinks she’s with him till the last three or four days come round; then he begins to look for her, and gets out his poor old letter, and we come and ask him to read it to us.  Lord, she was a darling!”

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