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- You Never Know Your Luck, Volume 2. - 6/11 -
"My God--oh, Kitty!" said the other, breaking down. "You can't mean it --oh, you can't mean that you'd--"
"I've got to work out my case in my own way," broke in Kitty calmly. "I know how I've got to do it. I have to make my own medicine--and take it. You say John Sibley is vicious. He has only got one vice."
"Isn't it enough? Gambling--"
"That isn't a vice; it's a sport. It's the same as Mr. Crozier had. Mr. Crozier did it with horses only, the other does it with cards and horses. The only vice John Sibley's got is me."
"Is you?" asked her mother bewilderedly.
"Well, when you've got an idea you can't control and it makes you its slave, it's a vice. I'm John's vice, and I'm thinking of trying to cure him of it--and cure myself too," Kitty added, folding and unfolding the paper in her hand.
"Here comes the Young Doctor," said her mother, turning towards the house. "I think you don't mean to marry Sibley, but if you do, make him give up gambling."
"I don't know that I want him to give it up," answered Kitty musingly.
A moment later she was alone with the Young Doctor.
ALL ABOUT AN UNOPENED LETTER
"What's this you've been doing?" asked the Young Doctor, with a quizzical smile. "We never can tell where you'll break out."
"Kitty Tynan's measles!" she rejoined, swinging her hat by its ribbon. "Mine isn't a one-sided character, is it?"
"I know one of the sides quite well," returned the Young Doctor.
"Which, please, sir?"
The Young Doctor pretended to look wise. "The outside. I read it like a book. It fits the life in which it moves like the paper on the wall. But I'm not sure of the inside. In fact, I don't think I know that at all."
"So I couldn't call you in if my character was sick inside, could I?" she asked obliquely.
"I might have an operation, and see what's wrong with it," he answered playfully.
Suddenly she shivered. "I've had enough of operations to last me awhile," she rejoined. "I thought I could stand anything, but your operation on Mr. Crozier taught me a lesson. I'd never be a doctor's wife if I had to help him cut up human beings."
"I'll remember that," the Young Doctor replied mockingly.
"But if it would help put things on a right basis, I'd make a bargain that I wasn't to help do the carving," she rejoined wickedly. The Young Doctor always incited her to say daring things. They understood each other well. "So don't let that stand in the way," she added slyly.
"The man who marries you will be glad to get you without the anatomy," he returned gallantly.
"I wasn't talking of a man; I was talking of a doctor."
He threw up a hand and his eyebrows. "Isn't a doctor a man?"
"Those I've seen have been mostly fish."
She looked him in the eyes, and he felt a kind of shiver go through him. "Not enough to notice. I never observed you had any," she replied. "If I saw that you had, I'd be so frightened I'd fly. I've seen pictures of an excited whale turning a boat full of men over. No, I couldn't bear to see you show any feeling."
The dark eyes of the Young Doctor suddenly took on a look which was a stranger to them. In his relations with women he was singularly impersonal, but he was a man, and he was young enough to feel the Adam stir in him. The hidden or controlled thing suddenly emerged. It was not the look which would be in his eyes if he were speaking to the woman he wanted to marry. Kitty saw it, and she did not understand it, for she had at heart a feeling that she could go to him in any trouble of life and be sure of healing. To her he seemed wonderful; but she thought of him as she would have thought of her father, as a person of authority and knowledge--that operation showed him a great man, she thought, so skillful and precise and splendid; and the whole countryside had such confidence in him.
She regarded him as a being apart; but for a moment, an ominous moment, he was almost one with that race of men who feed in strange pastures. She only half saw the reddish glow which came swimming into his eyes, and she did not realise it, for she did not expect to find it there. For an instant, however, he saw with new eyes that primary eloquence of woman life, the unspent splendour of youth, the warm joy of the material being, the mystery of maidenhood in all its efflorescence. It was the emergence of his own youth again, as why should it not be, since he had never married and had never dallied! But in a moment it was gone again--driven away.
"What a wicked little flirt you are!" he said, with a shake of the head. "You'll come to a bad end, if you don't change your ways."
"Perform an operation, then, if you think you know what's the matter with me," she retorted. "Sometimes in operating for one disease we come on another, and then there's a lot of thinking to be done."
The look in her face was quizzical, yet there was a strange, elusive gravity in her eyes, an almost pathetic appealing. "If you were going to operate on me, what would it be for?" she asked more flippantly than her face showed.
"Well, it's obscure, and the symptoms are not usual, but I should strike for the cancer love," he answered, with a direct look.
She flushed and changed on the instant. "Is love a cancer?" she asked. All at once she felt sure that he read her real story, and something very like anger quickened in her.
"Unrequited love is," he answered deliberately. "How do you know it is unrequited?" she asked sharply.
"Well, I don't know it," he answered, dismayed by the look in her face. "But I certainly hope I'm right. I do, indeed."
"And if you were right, what would you do--as a surgeon?" she questioned, with an undertone of meaning.
"I would remove the cause of the disease."
She came close and looked him straight in the eyes. "You mean that he should go? You think that would cure the disease? Well, you are not going to interfere. You are not going to manoeuvre anything to get him away--I know doctors' tricks. You'd say he must go away east or west to the sea for change of air to get well. That's nonsense, and it isn't necessary. You are absolutely wrong in your diagnosis--if that's what you call it. He is going to stay here. You aren't going to drive away one of our boarders and take the bread out of our mouths. Anyhow, you're wrong. You think because a girl worships a man's ability that she's in love with him. I adore your ability, but I'd as soon fall in love with a lobster--and be boiled with the lobster in a black pot. Such conceit men have!"
He was not convinced. He had a deep-seeing eye, and he saw that she was boldly trying to divert his belief or suspicion. He respected her for it. He might have said he loved her for it--with a kind of love which can be spoken of without blushing or giving cause to blush, or reason for jealousy, anger, or apprehension.
He smiled down into her gold-brown eyes, and he thought what a real woman she was. He felt, too, that she would tell him something that would give him further light if he spoke wisely now.
"I'd like to see some proof that you are right, if I am wrong," he answered cautiously.
"Well, I'm going to be married," she said, with an air of finality.
He waved a hand deprecatingly. "Impossible--there's no man worth it. Who is the undeserving wretch?"
"I'll tell you to-morrow," she replied. "He doesn't know yet how happy he's going to be. What did you come here for? Why did you want to see me?" she added. "You had something you were going to tell me. Hadn't you?"
"That's quite right," he replied. "It's about Crozier. This is my last visit to him professionally. He can go on now without my care. Yours will be sufficient for him. It has been all along the very best care he could have had. It did more for him than all the rest, it--"
"You don't mean that," she interrupted, with a flush and a bosom that leaped under her pretty gown. "You don't mean that I was of more use than the nurse--than the future Mrs. Jesse Bulrush?"
"I mean just that," he answered. "Nearly every sick person, every sick man, I should say, has his mascot, his ministering angel, as it were. It's a kind of obsession, and it often means life or death, whether the mascot can stand the strain of the situation. I knew an old man--down by Dingley's Flat it was, and he wanted a boy--his grand-nephew-beside him always. He was getting well, but the boy took sick and the old man died the next day. The boy had been his medicine. Sometimes it's a particular nurse that does the trick; but whoever it is, it's a great vital fact. Well, that's the part you played to Mr. Shiel Crozier of Lammis and Castlegarry aforetime. He owes you much."
"I am glad of that," she said softly, her eyes on the distance.
"She is in love with him in spite of what she says," remarked the Young Doctor to himself. "Well," he continued aloud, "the fact is, Crozier's
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