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- You Never Know Your Luck, Volume 3. - 5/14 -
her, she left the room as the Young Doctor went to the doorway and stepped outside. Within ten feet of the door he met Crozier.
"How goes it, patient?" he said, standing in Crozier's way. Being a man who thought much and wisely for other people, he wanted to give the wife time to get herself in control.
"Right enough in your sphere of operations," answered Crozier.
"And not so right in other fields, eh?"
"I've come back after a fruitless hunt. They've got me, the thieves!" said Crozier, with a look which gave his long face an almost tragic austerity. Then suddenly the look changed, the mediaeval remoteness passed, and a thought flashed up into his eves which made his expression alive with humour.
"Isn't it wonderful, that just when a man feels he wants a rope to hang himself with, the rope isn't to be had?" he exclaimed. "Before he can lay his hands on it he wants to hang somebody else, and then he has to pause whether he will or no. Did I ever tell you the story of the old Irishwoman who lived down at Kenmare, in Kerry? Well, she used to sit at her doorway and lament the sorrows of the world with a depth of passion that you'd think never could be assuaged. 'Oh, I fale so bad, I am so wake--oh, I do fale so bad,' she used to say. 'I wish some wan would take me by the ear and lade me round to the ould shebeen, and set me down, and fill a noggen of whusky and make me dhrink it--whether I would or no!' Whether I would or no I have to drink the cup of self-denial," Crozier continued, "though Bradley and his gang have closed every door against me here, and I've come back without what I went for at Aspen Vale, for my men were away. I've come back without what I went for, but I must just grin and bear it." He shrugged his shoulders and gave a great sigh.
"Perhaps you'll find what you went for here," returned the Young Doctor meaningly.
"There's a lot here--enough to make a man think life worth while"--inside the room the wife shrank at the words, for she could hear all--"but just the same I'm not thinking the thing I went to look for is hereabouts."
"You never know your luck," was the reply. "'Ask and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you.'"
The long face blazed up with humour again. "Do you mean that I haven't asked you yet?" Crozier remarked, with a quizzical look, which had still that faint hope against hope which is a painful thing for a good man's eyes to see.
The Young Doctor laid a hand on Crozier's arm. "No, I didn't mean that, patient. I'm in that state when every penny I have is out to keep me from getting a fall. I'm in that Starwhon coal-mine down at Bethbridge, and it's like a suction-pump. I couldn't borrow a thousand dollars myself now. I can't do it, or I'd stand in with you, Crozier. No, I can't help you a bit; but step inside. There's a room in this house where you got back your life by the help of a knife. There's another room in there where you may get back your fortune by the help of a wife."
Stepping aside he gave the wondering Crozier a slight push forward into the doorway, then left him and hurried round to the back of the house, where he hoped he might see Kitty.
The Young Doctor found Kitty pumping water on a pail of potatoes and stirring them with a broom-handle.
"A most unscientific way of cleaning potatoes," he said, as Kitty did not look at him. "If you put them in a trough where the water could run off, the dirt would go with the water, and you would'nt waste time and intelligence, and your fingers would be cleaner in the end."
The only reply Kitty made was to flick the broomhead at him. It had been dipped in water, and the spray from it slightly spattered his face.
"Will you never grow up?" he exclaimed as he applied a handkerchief to his ruddy face.
"I'd like you so much better if you were younger--will you never be young?" she asked.
"It makes a man old before his time to have to meet you day by day and live near you."
"Why don't you try living with me?" she retorted. "Ah, then, you meant me when you said to Mrs. Crozier that you were going to be married? Wasn't that a bit 'momentary'? as my mother's cook used to remark. I think we haven't 'kept company'--you and I"
"It's true you haven't been a beau of mine, but I'd rather marry you than be obliged to live with you," was the paradoxical retort.
"You have me this time," he said, trying in vain to solve her reply.
Kitty tossed her head. "No, I haven't got you this time, thank Heaven, and I don't want you; but I'd rather marry you than live with you, as I said. Isn't it the custom for really nice-minded people to marry to get rid of each other--for five years, or for ever and ever and ever?"
"What a girl you are, Kitty Tynan!" he said reprovingly. He saw that she meant Crozier and his wife.
Kitty ceased her work for an instant and, looking away from him into the distance, said: "Three people said those same words to me all in one day a thousand years ago. It was Mr. Crozier, Jesse Bulrush, and my mother; and now you've said it a thousand years after; as with your inexpensive education and slow mind you'd be sure to do."
"I have an idea that Mrs. Crozier said the same to you also this very day. Did she--come, did she?"
"She didn't say, 'What a girl you are!' but in her mind she probably did say, 'What a vixen!"'
The Young Doctor nodded satirically. "If you continued as you began when coming from the station, I'm sure she did; and also I'm sure it wasn't wrong of her to say it."
"I wanted her to say it. That's why I uttered the too, too utter-things, as the comic opera says. What else was there to do? I had to help cure her."
"To cure her of what, miss?"
"Of herself, doctor-man."
The Young Doctor's look became graver. He wondered greatly at this young girl's sage instinct and penetration. "Of herself? Ah, yes, to think more of some one else than herself! That is--"
"Yes, that is love," Kitty answered, her head bent over the pail and stirring the potatoes hard.
"I suppose it is," he answered.
"I know it is," she returned.
"Is that why you are going to be married?" he asked quizzically.
"It will probably cure the man I marry of himself," she retorted. "Oh, neither of us know what we are talking about--let's change the subject!" she added impatiently now, with a change of mood, as she poured the water off the potatoes.
There was a moment's silence in which they were both thinking of the same thing. "I wonder how it's all going inside there?" he remarked. "I hope all right, but I have my doubts."
"I haven't any doubt at all. It isn't going right," she answered ruefully; "but it has to be made go right."
"Whom do you think can do that?"
Kitty looked him frankly and decisively in the face. Her eyes had the look of a dreaming pietist for the moment. The deep-sea soul of her was awake. "I can do it if they don't break away altogether at once. I helped her more than you think. I told her I had opened that letter."
He gasped. "My dear girl--that letter--you told her you had done such a thing, such--!"
"Don't dear girl me, if you please. I know what I am doing. I told her that and a great deal more. She won't leave this house the woman she was yesterday. She is having a quick cure--a cure while you wait."
"Perhaps he is cured of her," remarked the Young Doctor very gravely.
"No, no, the disease might have got headway, but it didn't," Kitty returned, her face turned away. "He became a little better; but he was never cured. That's the way with a man. He can never forget a woman he has once cared for, and he can go back to her half loving her; but it isn't the case with a woman. There's nothing so dead to a woman as a man when she's cured of him. The woman is never dead to the man, no matter what happens."
The Young Doctor regarded her with a strange, new interest and a puzzled surprise. "Sappho--Sappho, how did you come to know these things!" he exclaimed. "You are only a girl at best, or something of a boy-girl at worst, and yet you have, or think you have, got into those places which are reserved for the old-timers in life's scramble. You talk like an ancient dame."
Kitty smiled, but her eyes had a slumbering look as if she was half dreaming. "That's the mistake most of you make--men and women. There's such a thing as instinct, and there's such a thing as keeping your eyes open."
"What did Mrs. Crozier say when you told her about opening that five- year-old letter? Did she hate you?"
Kitty nodded with wistful whimsicality. "For a minute she was like an industrious hornet. Then I made her see she wouldn't have been here at all if I hadn't opened it. That made, her come down from the top of her nest on the church-spire, and she said that, considering my opportunities, I was not such an aboriginal after all."
"Now, look you, Saphira, prospective wife of Ananias, she didn't say that, of course. Still, it doesn't matter, does it? The point is, suppose he opens that letter now."
"If he does, he'll probably not go with her. It was a letter that would send a man out with a scalping-knife. Still, if Mr. Crozier had his
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