Page:The Yellow Book - 01.djvu/248

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Modern Melodrama

sort of a grunt. I was awful sorry for 'im, that I was, 'ee must 'ave been crool bad, 'ee's mostly so quiet-like, ain't 'ee? An', in a minute, 'ee sort o' groans out somethin', an' t'other chap 'es answer 'im quite cool-like, that 'ee don't properly know; but, anyways, it 'ud be over afore the end of February. There I've done it. Oh! dearie, it's awful, awful, that's jest what it is. An' I 'ad no intention to tell yer—not a blessed word—that I didn't—may God strike me blind if I did! Some'ow it all come out, seein' yer chokin' that 'ard an feelin' at the wall there. Yer 'ad no right to ask me to do it—'ow was I to know 'ee was a doctor?"

She put the two corners of her apron to her eyes, gurgling loudly.

"Look 'ere, don't yer b'lieve a word of it—I don't—I tell yer they're a 'umbuggin' lot, them doctors, all together. I know it. Yer take my word for that—yer'll git all right again. Yer'll be as well as I am, afore yer've done—Oh, Lord!—it's jest awful—I feel that upset I'd like to cut my tongue out, for 'avin' told yer—but I jest couldn't 'elp myself." She was retreating towards the door, wiping her eyes, and snorting out loud sobs—"An', don't you offer me that half quid—I couldn't take it of yer—that I couldn't."

* * * * *

She shivered, sat up, and dragged the cloak tight round her shoulders. In her desire to get warm she forgot what had happened. She extended the palms of her hands towards the grate: the grate was delicious. A smoking lump of coal clattered on to the fender: she lifted the tongs, but the sickening remembrance arrested her. The things in the room were receding, dancing

round: the fire was growing taller and taller. The woollen scarf chafed her skin: she wrenched it off. Then hope, keen and