It is an observation that Corkey believes would be applauded among the sharp blades of the telegraph room. He drinks in a well-pleased mood.
“The David Lockwin Annex! The monument! They’ve given that a stiff name, too. I’ve seen some gay things in this town, but that beats me. It takes a woman to make a fool of herself. And there she is over there crying for her great hero. Fill this jim-crack with the budge again. Let her draw as much water as she will—put it to the top notch!”
The druggist trembles as he fills the graduate.
“Won’t you have a bigger one?” he suggests.
“No, I ain’t drinking much between campaigns. Did you know I was going to run for the Illinois house? Yes, that’s nearer to my size than a whole congressional district. I’m in for it. But that’s not now. My mind is over there, on the avenue. Say, old man, is the scheme any good? He dassen’t come back. Do you think she’d pull out and go to him, wherever he is?”
The druggist carries the empty graduate to the water sink. He rinses it. His heart beats with the greatest joy it has ever known. He returns the graduate to the prescription counter.
“It is a good scheme, Corkey.”
[Illustration: “It is a good scheme, Corkey.”]
“You bet it is. Chalmers, just fill that thimble-rig once more. It don’t hold three fingers, nohow. Hurry, for I got to go to the north pier right off. That’s your little clock striking 6 in there now, ain’t it?”
A HEROIC ACT
David Lockwin is losing ground. He daily grows less likely to attract the favorable notice of Esther Lockwin, or any other woman of consequence. His face has not only lost comeliness, but character. It would seem that the carmen fimbrications just under the skin of his cheeks flame forth with renewed anger. The difficulty in his throat increases. He relies nowadays entirely on Corkey.
“And Corkey does not know how rapidly this anxiety is killing me!”
The druggist plans every day to confess all to Corkey. Every day, too, there is a plan to meet Esther. But as David Lockwin grows small, Esther grows grand. Talking with the servants of her mother’s home has degraded, declassed, the husband. He has hungered to meet her, yet months intervene without that bitter joy.
It is a bitter joy. Yesterday, when Lockwin carried a prescription to the house of a very sick widow, he suddenly came face to face with Esther. It had been long apparent to the man that the woman was repelled by his face. This, yesterday, she did not conceal.
The husband trembled with a thousand pleasures as the sacred form passed by. He struggled with ten thousand despairs as he was robbed of her company and left to bemoan her disdain.
He worshiped her the more. He read last night, more eagerly, how love endureth all things. It must fast come to this, that David Lockwin shall love her at a distance, and that she shall be true to the memory of the great and good David Lockwin.