“Remember,” they were both saying, “you have never met me, Mr. Blakeley. And—if you ever hear anything about me—that is not —pleasant, I want you to think the best you can of me. Will you?”
The two girls were one now, with little flashes of white light playing all around. “I—I’m afraid that I shall think too well for my own good,” I said unsteadily. And the cab drove on.
THE NAME WAS SULLIVAN
I had my arm done up temporarily in Baltimore and took the next train home. I was pretty far gone when I stumbled out of a cab almost into the scandalized arms of Mrs. Klopton. In fifteen minutes I was in bed, with that good woman piling on blankets and blistering me in unprotected places with hot-water bottles. And in an hour I had a whiff of chloroform and Doctor Williams had set the broken bone.
I dropped asleep then, waking in the late twilight to a realization that I was at home again, without the papers that meant conviction for Andy Bronson, with a charge of murder hanging over my head, and with something more than an impression of the girl my best friend was in love with, a girl moreover who was almost as great an enigma as the crime itself.
“And I’m no hand at guessing riddles,” I groaned half aloud. Mrs. Klopton came over promptly and put a cold cloth on my forehead.
“Euphemia,” she said to some one outside the door, “telephone the doctor that he is still rambling, but that he has switched from green ribbons to riddles.”
“There’s nothing the matter with me, Mrs. Klopton,” I rebelled. “I was only thinking out loud. Confound that cloth: it’s trickling all over me!” I gave it a fling, and heard it land with a soggy thud on the floor.
“Thinking out loud is delirium,” Mrs. Klopton said imperturbably. “A fresh cloth, Euphemia.”
This time she held it on with a firm pressure that I was too weak to resist. I expostulated feebly that I was drowning, which she also laid to my mental exaltation, and then I finally dropped into a damp sleep. It was probably midnight when I roused again. I had been dreaming of the wreck, and it was inexpressibly comforting to feel the stability of my bed, and to realize the equal stability of Mrs. Klopton, who sat, fully attired, by the night light, reading Science and Health.
“Does that book say anything about opening the windows on a hot night?” I suggested, when I had got my bearings.
She put it down immediately and came over to me. If there is one time when Mrs. Klopton is chastened—and it is the only time—it is when she reads Science and Health. “I don’t like to open the shutters, Mr. Lawrence,” she explained. “Not since the night you went away.”
But, pressed further, she refused to explain. “The doctor said you were not to be excited,” she persisted. “Here’s your beef tea.”