Mrs. Moody had watched her going and coming for several days with growing uneasiness. This morning she knew Ruth had not gone out, and presently the woman slap-slapped up the stairs in her heelless slippers to see about it. She rapped on Ruth’s door. There was no response. She rapped again. ...
“I know you’re in there,” she said, querulously. “Why don’t you answer?”
Inside, Ruth merely moved her head from side to side on the pillow. She heard—but what did it matter?
Mrs. Moody opened the door and stepped inside. She was prepared for what she saw.
“There you be,” she said, with a sort of triumphant air, as of one whose prophecy had been fulfilled to the letter, “flat on your back.”
Ruth paid no attention.
“What ails you?”
“Here now”—she spoke sharply—“you know who I be, don’t you?”
“Yes,” said Ruth.
“Why didn’t you answer?”
“I am—so—tired,” Ruth said, faintly.
“You can’t be sick here. Don’t you go doin’ it. I hain’t got no time to look after sick folks.” She might as well have spoken to the pillow. Ruth didn’t care. She had simply reached the end of her will, and had given up. It was over. She was absolutely without emotion.
Mrs. Moody approached the bed and felt of Ruth’s hand. She had expected to find it hot. It was cold, bloodless. It gave the woman a start. She looked down at Ruth’s face, from which the big eyes stared up at her without seeming to see her.
“You poor mite of a thing,” said Mrs. Moody, softly. Then she seemed to jack herself up to a realization that softness would not do and that she could not allow such goings-on in her house. “You’re sick, and if I’m a judge you’re mighty sick,” she said, sharply. “Who’s goin’ to look after you. Say?”
The tone stirred Ruth. ... “Nobody...” she said, after a pause.
“I got to notify somebody,” said Mrs. Moody. “Any relatives or friends?”
Ruth seemed to think it over as if the idea were hard to comprehend.
“Once I—had a—husband...” she said.
“But you hain’t got him now, apparently. Have you got anybody?”
“... Husband...” said Ruth. “... husband. ... But he—went away. ... No, I—went away... because it was—too late then. ... It was too late—then, wasn’t it?” Her voice was pleading.
“You know more about it than me,” said Mrs. Moody. “I want you should tell me somebody I can notify.”
“I—loved him... and I didn’t know it. ... That was—queer—wasn’t it?... He never knew it. ...”
“She’s clean out of her head,” said Mrs. Moody, irritably, “and what’ll I do? Tell me that. What’ll I do, and her most likely without a cent and all that?... Why didn’t you go and git sick somewheres else? You could of. ...”
She wrung her hands and called Providence to witness that all the arrows of misfortune were aimed at her, and always had been.