« AnteriorContinuar »
“Not if you've been a widow so long, that you forget all about it; that's all sham and nonsense. So
a'n't sure what he died of, nor when it was that he died ? Are you quite sure, Marm,
husband is dead ? Mrs. St. Felix started, turned very red, and then very pale.
“My sarvice to you for the present, Marm,” said my father, after a pause, taking off his hat. “ I suspect that I've found a way to stop your tongue as well as my wife's. Broadside for broadside, that's fair play.”
So saying, my father stumped away out of the shop-door. Mrs. St. Felix put her apron up to her eyes, with her elbows resting on the counter. I waited a little, and then I said
“ What is the matter, Mrs. St. Felix ?” She started at my voice.
“ You here, Jack? I thought you had gone out with your father. Well !" continued she, wiping her eyes, " it serves me right. I forgot that in amusing myself I annoyed him. Jack, don't you mention anything about this ? Do you think your father will ?"
“ I don't think he will, for he cannot do so without talking about having his pigtail cut off, and I know he cannot bear to think of it."
“Well, then, pray don't you - that's a good boy." “ I never will, I promise you."
“ Then, good night, Jack - you must leave me now, I don't feel quite well.”
I wished the widow good night, and went back to my mother's house. My father was there, but he never hinted at the conversation which had taken place, neither at that time, nor afterwards.
SHOWING HOW OLD NANXY FELL SICK AND GOT WELL AGAIN.
Before I fell asleep that night, I thought a great deal of what had passed between the widow St. Felix and my father Why should she have shown such emotion, and why should she request of me not to mention what had passed ? I had heard reports about her, as I have before mentioned; I had heard them from old Nanny, but I did not put any confidence in what she said. Thinking of old Nanny reminded me that I had not called upon her for some time, and I resolved that I would visit her the next day.
It was not until late in the evening that I could spare time to call upon her, and, what was not usual, I went empty handed. I found to my surprise that the door was shut to, and the shutters of the shop not taken down. I tried the latch ; the door opened, and I went in.
- Who's there?” screamed old Nandy from the inner room. “ What do you want?" “ It's only poor Jack, mother,” replied I; “ come to see how
“ Come in?” replied she; “ I'm very bad. Oh! Oh! I thought it was some thief or another, come to steal all the things in my shop."
I entered the room, and found old Nanny in bed; she looked very ill and miserable, and everything was very dirty.
“ Are you not well, mother?” said I.
“Well, boy? No, very ill, very ill indeed, haven't left my bed these three days. Reach me a little water, Jack, there's a good boy ? I've been dying for water."
I handed her a broken jug, which had some water in it. She drank greedily, so as to spill nearly half of it on the coverlid.
“ Oh! how good it is,” exclaimed the old woman, as soon as she recovered her breath! “ I'm better now. I could not reach it
myself. I've the rheumatiz so bad I I've been in such a fright, because I could not lock the door - it kept me awake all night long, Oh! my poor back."
“ But, why did you not send for the doctor, mother ?"
“ Doctor ? Heh! who's to pay him! I've got no money, Jack."
“Well, but Doctor Tadpole's very kind."
“ Yes, yes ! kind to the widow; but not to old women like nie, without any money."
“ But why not have some one to sit up with you, and help you?"
“ Sit up with me! who'd sit up with me? Yes, if I paid them; but I've no money, Jack; and then I don't know them they might rob me - there's a great many pretty things in my shop."
“ But you might die, mother, lying here without any one to help you."
“ Die ? well, and who would care, if a poor old woman like me died, Jack?"
“ I should care, for one, mother; and so would my sister Virginia, and many others besides."
“ You might care, Jack, for you're a good boy; and so might your little sister, for she has a kind heart; but, nobody else, Jack,
not one!” I could not reply to this remark, as I really did not know anybody who would have cared ; so I said, “You must see the doctor, mother. I will go for him."
“No, Jack, I can't afford it, it's no use; besides I'm better now."
“ Well, if you can't afford it, you shall not pay him ; and, if he will not come for nothing, I'll pay him myself.”
“Will you pay him, Jack ? that's a good boy — you promised me bargains you
know- that shall be one of them." “Well mother, I'll make the bargain that I'll pay him, if you'll see him ;
so good bye, now - do you want anything before I go?"
“No, Jack, no, I don't want anything ; only just lock the door,
and take the key with you, when you go out ; and then no one can rob me, Jack, whilst you're gone."
I complied with her request, and ran for Doctor Tadpole, whom I found smoking his cigar in the widow's shop.
“ Doctor,” said I, “old Nanny has been ill in bed these three days, and I want you to go and see her.”
“ Does she send you to me, or do you ask it yourself?” said the doctor, “ for I think she would die rather than pay the doctor."
“ As for that, Mr. Tadpole,” said the widow ; “ there are many of your patients who send for the doctor without ever intending to pay him. Perhaps old Nanny may go on the same plan."
“ Certainly, that alters the case. Well, Jack, what's the matter with her ?”
“ Rheumatism, and, I believe, fever; for her hand is hot, and her tongue very white. She was lying in bed with no one to help her; and had not strength to reach a drop of water, until I gave it to her.”
“ Poor old soul!” said the widow; “ and yet they say that she has money."
“ I don't think that she has much,” replied I; “ for when she lent me the twenty-eight shillings, she had not ten shillings more in the bag ; but, doctor, I'll pay you, I will indeed! How much will it be?”
“ Now, doctor, just put on your hat, and set off as soon as you please; for if poor Jack says he'll pay you, you know that your money is as safe as mine was in the bank, – before it failed.”
“Well, I'll just finish my cigar."
“Of course you will, as you walk along, Mr. Tadpole,” replied the widow; “ it's very pleasant to smoke in the air, and just as unpleasant to others your smoking in the house. So, doctor, just be off and see the poor old wretch directly ; or,--I'll be affronted.”
Hereupon the doctor took up his hat, and without reply walked off with me. When we arrived, I unlocked the door, and we went in.
“ Well! old Nanny, what's the matter now?" said Doctor Tadpole.
“ Nothing, doctor, nothing ; you've come on a useless message; I didn't send for you, recollect that; it was Jack who would go ; I did not send, recollect that, doctor; I can't afford it; I've no money."
“ Very well; I sha'n't look to you for money; put out your tongue," replied the doctor, as he felt her pulse.
“ Recollect, doctor, I did not send for you. Jack, you are witness — I've no money;" repeated old Nanny.
“ Put out your tongue,” repeated the doctor. “No, I won't, till it's all clearly settled."
“ It is, you old fool," said the doctor impatiently ; " put out your tongue."
“ Jack, you're witness it's all by force," said Nanny, who at last put out her tongue; “and now, doctor, I'll tell you.” Whereupon Nanny commenced with a narrative of her ills; and by her own account there was not a portion of her body from top to toe which had not some ailment.
“ You've a very bad complaint,” said the doctor: - “what d'ye think it is ? It's old age. I hardly know whether I can cure it.”
“ Can you draw the pain out of my old bones ?” said Nanny, groaning.
“ Why, I'll try, at all events. I must send you something to take inwardly."
“ Who's to pay for it?” said old Nanny. “I will, mother;" said I.
“ You're witness, doctor, - Jack says he'll pay for it. You're a good boy, Jack."
“ Well, that's settled but now, we must have some one to sit up with you."
“Sit up with me ? nobody will sit up with an old thing like me.
“ Yes, I will, mother," said I, “and I'll look in upon you in the day-time, and see if you want to drink.”
“No, no, Jack! then you'll make no money." “ Yes I will — never mind that.”
“ Well I at all events,” replied the doctor, “ Jack will sit up with you this night; and we'll see how you are to-morrow. Now,