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Francis Hopkinson Smith
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 183 pages of information about The Veiled Lady and Other Men and Women.

“You’re dead right, Marny,” answered Stebbins, “but he doesn’t think so.  He’s as big a fool over every little pain as he is over his theories.”

“Niver cracked his jaw to me about it,” sputtered Malone from between the puffs of his pipe.

“No, and he won’t.  I don’t jump on him as you fellows do and so I get his confidence.  He’s in my room two or three times every night going over his symptoms.  When his foot’s asleep he thinks he’s got creeping paralysis.  Every time his breath comes short, his heart’s giving out.”

“That’s hereditary!” said Marny; “he said so.”

“Hereditary be hanged!  Same with everything else.  Last night he dug me out of bed and wanted me to count his pulse—­thought it intermitted.  He’s hipped, I tell you, on his health!”

“That’s because he lives on nothing,” rejoined Marny.  “Tine puts the toast in the oven over night so it will be dry enough for him in the morning—­ she told me so yesterday.  Now he’s running on sour milk and vinegar—­’blood too alkaline,’ he says—­got a chalky taste in his mouth!”

“Well, whatever it is, he’s a rum-nuisance,” said Pudfut, “and he ought to be jumped on.”

“Yes,” retorted Stebbins, “but not about his food.  Jump on him about his health, then he’ll kick back and in pure obstinacy begin to think he’s well—­that’s his nature.”

“Don’t you do anything of the kind,” protested Marny.  “Joppy’s all right—­best lad I know.  Let him talk; doesn’t hurt anybody and keeps everything alive.  A little hot air now and then helps his epigastric.”

Malone and Schonholz had raised themselves on their elbows, twisted their shoulders and had put their heads together—­literally—­without lifting their lazy bodies from the warm, dry grass—­so close that one slouch hat instead of two might have covered their conspiring brains.  From under the rims of these thatches came smothered laughs and such unintelligible mutterings as: 

“Dot’s de vay, by chimminy, ’Loney!  And den I—­”

“No, begorra!  Let me have a crack at him fu’st!”

“No, I vill before go and you come—­”

“Not a word to Marny, remimber; he’d give it away—­”

“Yes, but we vill tell Poodfut und Sthebbins, eh?”

That afternoon the diabolical plot was put in motion.  The men had finished for the day; had crossed the ferry and had found Joplin wandering around the dock looking for a new subject.  The Groote Kerk “smear” was under his arm.

Pudfut, under pretence of inspecting the smear—­ a portrait of the old Sacristan on a bench in front of the main entrance—­started back in surprise on seeing the Bostonian, and asked with an anxious tone in his voice: 

“Aren’t you well, old man?  Look awfully yellow about the gills.  Worked too hard, haven’t you?  No use overdoing it.”

“Well?  Of course I’m well!  Sound as a nut.  Little bilious, maybe, but that’s nothing.  Why?”

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