“I’ll make the gruel if she ain’t able,” said the down-stairs woman, in a tone vibrating between kindness and scorn.
“Thank you. I am quite able to make it,” said Allbright’s sister, and she was full of small triumph and persistency. Yes, she would make the gruel, even if she was so very delicate that she ought to go at once to bed. It was quite evident that she thought that the down-stairs woman could not make gruel good enough for that man in there, anyway.
“Well, I guess I’ll go,” said the down-stairs woman, “as long as I don’t seem to be of any use. If there was anything I could do, I’d stay.” And she went.
“The idea of her coming up here and trying to find out what was going on!” Allbright’s sister said to her brother as she was getting the meal ready for the gruel. “I never saw such a curious woman.”
“If we hadn’t got so attached to the place we would move,” said Allbright, who was leaving his patient momentarily, to change his shoes for slippers.
“I know it,” said the sister, “but I can’t help feeling attached to the place, we have lived here so long; and there is that beautiful cherry-tree out in the yard, and everything.”
“That is so,” said Allbright.
“I am glad Mr. Carroll didn’t have to be carried to a hospital.”
“I suppose he would have been if I had not happened to be right on the spot,” said Allbright, reflectively, to his sister.
“You think he’ll be all right in the morning, don’t you?”
“Oh yes, the doctor said so!”
Outside, the watching boys in the shadow of the church disappointedly vanished, cheated of their small and grewsome excitement, when they saw the doctor quietly walk towards his house and realized that there was to be no ambulance and no hospital.
“Gee! I’ve had knocks harder ‘n that, and never said nothin’ about it,” said one boy as he scurried away with the others towards his home in the high tenement-house.
It was quite early the next morning when Charlotte received the telegram that her father had had a fall on the ice, was not badly injured, and would be home on the noon train. Anderson had gone very early to the telegraph-office. It was being ticked off in Andrew Drake’s drug-store when he inquired, and the boy viewed him with intense curiosity when he took the message, but did not dare ask any questions. Anderson hurried home with it to Charlotte, who was not yet up. Mrs. Anderson had insisted upon her having her breakfast in bed, and she had yielded readily. In fact, she was both too confused and too ashamed to see Anderson. She dreaded seeing him. She was as simple as a child, and she reasoned simply.
“He held me in his arms and kissed me last night, the way Major Arms would have done with Ina,” she told herself, “and of course I suppose I must be engaged to him; but I don’t know what he must think of me for coming here the way I did. It was almost as if I asked him first.” She wondered if Mrs. Anderson had seen. But Mrs. Anderson’s manner to her was of such complete and caressing motherliness that she could not have much fear of her. In reality, the older woman, who had an active imagination, was slightly jealous, in view of future possibilities.