The Man in Lower Ten eBook

Mary Roberts Rinehart
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 250 pages of information about The Man in Lower Ten.

“Not my watch,” McKnight protested.  “It’s a family heirloom.”

“You’d better go home,” I said firmly.  “Go home and go to bed.  You’re sleepy.  You can have Sullivan’s red necktie to dream over if you think it will help any.”

Mrs. Klopton’s voice came drowsily from the next room, punctuated by a yawn.  “Oh, I forgot to tell you,” she called, with the suspicious lisp which characterizes her at night, “somebody called up about noon, Mr. Lawrence.  It was long distance, and he said he would call again.  The name was”—­she yawned—­“Sullivan.”



I have always smiled at those cases of spontaneous combustion which, like fusing the component parts of a seidlitz powder, unite two people in a bubbling and ephemeral ecstasy.  But surely there is possible, with but a single meeting, an attraction so great, a community of mind and interest so strong, that between that first meeting and the next the bond may grow into something stronger.  This is especially true, I fancy, of people with temperament, the modern substitute for imagination.  It is a nice question whether lovers begin to love when they are together, or when they are apart.

Not that I followed any such line of reasoning at the time.  I would not even admit my folly to myself.  But during the restless hours of that first night after the accident, when my back ached with lying on it, and any other position was torture, I found my thoughts constantly going back to Alison West.  I dropped into a doze, to dream of touching her fingers again to comfort her, and awoke to find I had patted a teaspoonful of medicine out of Mrs. Klopton’s indignant hand.  What was it McKnight had said about making an egregious ass of myself?

And that brought me back to Richey, and I fancy I groaned.  There is no use expatiating on the friendship between two men who have gone together through college, have quarreled and made it up, fussed together over politics and debated creeds for years:  men don’t need to be told, and women can not understand.  Nevertheless, I groaned.  If it had been any one but Rich!

Some things were mine, however, and I would hold them:  the halcyon breakfast, the queer hat, the pebble in her small shoe, the gold bag with the broken chain—­the bag!  Why, it was in my pocket at that moment.

I got up painfully and found my coat.  Yes, there was the purse, bulging with an opulent suggestion of wealth inside.  I went back to bed again, somewhat dizzy, between effort and the touch of the trinket, so lately hers.  I held it up by its broken chain and gloated over it.  By careful attention to orders, I ought to be out in a day or so.  Then—­I could return it to her.  I really ought to do that:  it was valuable, and I wouldn’t care to trust it to the mail.  I could run down to Richmond, and see her once—­there was no disloyalty to Rich in that.

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The Man in Lower Ten from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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