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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 364 pages of information about The Vehement Flame.

Johnny ran to the telephone.

“No,” Eleanor whispered.

But nobody paid any attention to her.  Johnny, at the telephone, was telling Mrs. Newbolt’s doctor to hurry!  Mrs. Newbolt herself had run, wheezing, to open the spare-room bed and get out extra blankets, and fill hot-water bottles; then, somehow or other, she and Edith got Eleanor upstairs, undressed her, put her into the big four-poster, and held a tumbler of hot whisky and water to her lips.  By the time Doctor James arrived she had begun to shiver violently; but she was still silent.  The trolley ride into town, with staring passengers and a conductor who thought she had been drinking, and tried to be jocose, had chilled her to the bone, and the gradual dulling of thought had left only one thing clear to her:  She mustn’t go home, because Maurice might possibly be there!  And if he was, then he would know!  So she must go—­somewhere.  She went first to Mrs. O’Brien’s, climbing the three long flights of stairs and feeling her way along dark entries to the old woman’s door.  She stood there shuddering and knocking; a single gas jet, wavering in the draughty entry, made her shadow lurch on the cracked plaster of the wall; it occurred to her that she would like to put her frozen hands around the little flame to warm them.  Then she knocked again.  There was no answer, so, shaking from head to foot, she felt her way downstairs again to the street, where the reflection of an occasional gas lamp gleamed and flickered on the wet asphalt.  “I’ll go to Auntie’s,” she thought.

She had just one purpose—­to get warm!  But she was so dazed that she could never remember how she reached Mrs. Newbolt’s; probably she walked, for there were no cabs in that part of town and no car line passed Mrs. Newbolt’s door.  The time after she left Mrs. O’Brien’s was a blank.  Even when she had swallowed the hot whisky, and began to feel warmer, she was still mentally benumbed, and couldn’t remember what she had done.  She did not notice Johnny Bennett; she saw Edith, but did not, apparently, understand that she was staying in the house.  When the doctor came she was as silent to him as to everybody else.

He asked no questions.  “Keep her warm,” he said, “and don’t talk to her.”

Mrs. Newbolt, going to the door with him, palpitating with fright, said, “We don’t know a thing more about what’s happened than you do!  She just appeared, drippin’, wet!”

“She has evidently fallen into some water,” he said; “but I wouldn’t ask her about it, yet.  Of course we don’t know what the result will be, Mrs. Newbolt.  I can’t help saying I’m anxious.  Mr. Curtis had better be sent for.  Telegraph him in the morning.”  He went off, thinking to himself, “She must have gone into the country to do it.  If she’d tried the river, here, and scrambled out, she wouldn’t have been so frightfully chilled.  I wonder what’s up?”

Everybody wondered what was up, but Eleanor did not enlighten them; so the three interrupted revelers could do nothing but think.  Johnny’s thoughts, as he sat down in the parlor among the Welsh-rabbit plates, keeping the fire up, and waiting in case he might be needed, were even briefer than the doctor’s:  “Tried to commit suicide.”

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