A Country Doctor and Selected Stories and Sketches eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 534 pages of information about A Country Doctor and Selected Stories and Sketches.
mending or knitting on the doorsteps.  More people moved away; there were but few men and girls left now in the quiet boarding-houses, and the spare tables were stacked one upon another at the end of the rooms.  When planting-time came, word was passed about the Corporation that the agent was going to portion out a field that belonged to him a little way out of town on the South road, and let every man who had a family take a good-sized piece to plant.  He also offered seed potatoes and garden seeds free to anyone who would come and ask for them at his house.  The poor are very generous to each other, as a rule, and there was much borrowing and lending from house to house, and it was wonderful how long the people seemed to continue their usual fashions of life without distress.  Almost everybody had saved a little bit of money and some had saved more; if one could no longer buy beefsteak he could still buy flour and potatoes, and a bit of pork lent a pleasing flavor, to content an idle man who had nothing to do but to stroll about town.

V.

One night the agent was sitting alone in his large, half-furnished house.  Mary Moynahan, his housekeeper, had gone up to the church.  There was a timid knock at the door.

There were two persons waiting, a short, thick-set man and a pale woman with dark, bright eyes who was nearly a head taller than her companion.

“Come in, Ellen; I’m glad to see you,” said the agent.  “Have you got your wheel-barrow, Mike?” Almost all the would-be planters of the field had come under cover of darkness and contrived if possible to avoid each other.

“’Tisn’t the potatoes we’re after asking, sir,” said Ellen.  She was always spokeswoman, for Mike had an impediment in his speech.  “The childher come up yisterday and got them while you’d be down at the counting-room.  ’Twas Mary Moynahan saw to them.  We do be very thankful to you, sir, for your kindness.”

“Come in,” said the agent, seeing there was something of consequence to be said.  Ellen Carroll and he had worked side by side many a long day when they were young.  She had been a noble wife to Mike, whose poor fortunes she had gladly shared for sake of his good heart, though Mike now and then paid too much respect to his often infirmities.  There was a slight flavor of whisky now on the evening air, but it was a serious thing to put on your Sunday coat and go up with your wife to see the agent.

“We’ve come wanting to talk about any chances there might be with the mill,” ventured Ellen timidly, as she stood in the lighted room; then she looked at Mike for reassurance.  “We’re very bad off, you see,” she went on.  “Yes, sir, I got them potaties, but I had to bake a little of them for supper and more again the day, for our breakfast.  I don’t know whatever we’ll do whin they’re gone.  The poor children does be entreating me for them, Dan!”

The mother’s eyes were full of tears.  It was very seldom now that anybody called the agent by his Christian name; there was a natural reserve and dignity about him, and there had come a definite separation between him and most of his old friends in the two years while he had managed to go to the School of Technology in Boston.

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A Country Doctor and Selected Stories and Sketches from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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