“So that was it!” he answered. And then he explained that just about the time they expected their supper they saw a man carry a basket stealthily through the snow to the deer park. It was twilight, but they watched him from the window, and he put the basket through the barbed-wire fence and then crawled after it. Just inside he sat down on a log and, opening the basket, began to eat. He was still there when it got too dark to see him.
“If that was our dinner,” he finished savagely, “I hope he choked to death over it.”
Doctor Barnes chuckled. “He didn’t,” he said, “but he’s got the worst case of indigestion in seven counties.”
Well, I got the mustard and water ready with Mr. Dick standing by hoping Mr. Biggs would die before he got it, and then I filled a basket for the shelter-house. I put out the light and he took the basket and started out, but he came back in a hurry.
“There’s somebody outside talking,” he said. I went to the door with him and listened.
“The sooner the better,” Mike was saying. “I’m no good while I’ve got it on my mind.”
And Mr. Thoburn: “To-morrow is too soon: they’re not in the mood yet. Perhaps the day after. I’ll let you know.”
I didn’t get to sleep until almost morning, and then it was to dream that Mr. Pierce was shouting “Hypocrites” to all the people in the sanatorium and threatening to throw glasses of mustard and warm water at them.
A BUNCH OF LETTERS
When people went down to breakfast the next morning they found a card hanging on the office door with a half dozen new rules on it, and when I went out to the spring-house the guests were having an indignation meeting in the sun parlor, with the bishop in the chair, and Senator Biggs, so wobbly he could hardly stand, making a speech.
I tried to see Mr. Pierce, but early as it was he had gone for a walk, taking Arabella with him. So I called a conference at the shelter-house—Miss Patty, Mr. and Mrs. Van Alstyne, Mr. and Mrs. Dick, and myself. Mrs. Dick wasn’t dressed, but she sat up on the edge of her cot in her dressing-gown, with her feet on the soap box, and yawned. As we didn’t have enough chairs, Miss Patty jerked the soap box away and made me sit down. Mr. Dick was getting breakfast.
We were in a tight place and we knew it.
“He is making it as hard for us as he can,” Mrs. Sam declared. “The idea of having the card-room lights put out at midnight, and the breakfast room closed at ten! Nobody gets up at that hour.”
“He was to come here every evening for orders,” said Mr. Dick, measuring ground coffee with a tablespoon, as I had showed him. “He came just once, and as for orders—well, he gave ’em to me!”
But Miss Patty was always fair.
“I loathe him,” she asserted. “I want to quarrel with him the minute I see him. He—he is presumptuous to the point of impertinence—but he’s honest: he thinks we’re all hypocrites—those that are well and those that are sick or think they are—and he hates hypocrisy.”