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shining, and still without wrinkles; her eye, liquid
and soft, was also bright. Her carriage was good ;
her bonnet was neat ; and her black stuff dress fell
around her person in quite stately folds. There
was nothing flashy or tawdry about her ; she had laid
off her shawl and loosened the strings of her bonnet,
and sat there with a sort of contented assurance.
And then had come that remark about Dr. Stephen's
small family.

" What do you know about it ? " was the not polite
rejoinder.

" Wall, I wouldn't want to cook much o' a dinner
wi' sich little pots and skillets. Mebbe you kin.
I'd be sorter confuse' like."

" Dinner ! " echoed the other. " Dinner's no con
oern o' mine. I don' know where the doctor takes
his'n ; but taint here."

" Don't he take nuffin to home, 'cept his bed ? "

"Tea and breakfast. I must put on the kettle
new," with a glance at the clock. She threw
down her holder again, and filled a tea-kettle from
a pail in the corner.

" Do he hab his tea and breakfast all alone,
den?"



622 STEPHEN, M.D.

" Who should take it with him ? There aint even
a cat."

" Aint he gwine to get married, some o' dese yer
days?"

" Married ! " cr-ied the other. " Married I Dr.
Kay has married all Boston. I guess the ladies
would be skeery of him."

"He done war a handsome feller, allays," the
coloured woman remarked. " I never see no one
no ways skeery o' him. Don't b'lieve dey is,
nodder."

" Do you know him V " with another sharp glance.

" I done knowed him right smart," the coloured
woman said with a sigh. " Clar, I did use fur to
know Dr. Stephen. Reckon I does yet. What's
he like now ? "

" Where did you know him ? "

"Whar I come from. I knowed him when he
was little, and I knowed him allays, till he done
gone 'way. / done gib him his tea and breakfust,
so I did, in dem days. Now you's got it to do.
Hopes you gits it for him good."

" Good ? " said the other. " He don't care what
he eats, Dr. Kay don't."

" Don't he care what you gib him ? "

" Not a snap. Ef he likes it he eats it, and ef he
don't, he lets it alone. He never says nothin', no
more'n the door knocker. That is, for hisself. But
I tell you ! he's partic'lar enough ef it's other peo
ple's breakfast he's thinkin' about. 1 tell you ! they
has to look sharp in that kitchen."



A FRIEND. 623

* What kitchen ? Do he hab two ? "

" The kitchen for the cottages."

" What's datar?"

" Don't you know ? "

"Don't know nuffin. He don't tell, de doctor
don't, when he come our way ; but I'se cur'ous to
know."

The red and green figure moved busily between
the fire and her table, not seeming to care about
her visitor's curiosity; her face expressed nothing;
only the tall comb on the top of her head had a fas
cination for Jonto's eyes, and seemed to declare its
wearer, as Jonto put it afterwards, " a good deal o'
a highflyer." The coloured woman waited; ske
knew how to wait; and perhaps the other got tired
of keeping still.

" You see," she said, as she took a hot iron and
tried it, "the doctor's cranky."

" What is dat ar, now ? " said Jonto admiringly.

" He's cranky; that's wot he is. There's a good
many folks in the world is cranky, one way and
another; but Dr. Kay beats 'em all. I never see
nothin' like him."

"Beckon dat's so," remarked Jonto.

" An' Dr. Kay has took it into his head to look
arter all the poor folks in Boston."

" Wall, de doctor mus' look arter de poor folks as
well as de rich, I reckon, when dey is sick."

" Yes, but that aint enough. He must put 'em
up a top o' everything. Why he's got 'em there
in a lot o' little houses, but you may depend, every



624 STEPHEN, M.D.

one of em's as nice as a pin ; and one of 'em is
jes' for the cooking and nothing else; and ef you
went into the rest, you'd see old folks and young
folks, sich as has somethin' bad the matter wi' 'em,
or maybe they aint so orful bad neither, but
they've got no place to be, or no place where they
can be took keer of; and my ! but you ought to
Bee the way they's took keer of there ! The best
o' everythin' ; aud what's more, they says what they
will hev, like great folks; and aint obleeged to
swaller what they've no stomach for. / hev to take
what the doctor sends in ; but ef one of 'em there
don't want b'iled beef, she kin hev roast; and ef she
don't like soup she kin hev her cup o' tea, any time
o' day. I tell you, they doos hev a good time ! An'
the doctor, he's there o' mornins and he's there o'
nights, and there's no sayin' when he aint there.
An' I do b'lieve those old folks all thinks he's the
angel Gabriel, come down here to do a spell o' work
without his wings ! "

" De doctor mus' be rich man," suggested Jonto,
whose eyes were growing brighter and brighter.

"Won't be long, then. Sich a passel o' folks
eats up money, I tell you! An' / say, he had
ought to take keer o' hisself. It's jes' he's cranky."

" I hopes you takes good keer o' him ? "

" Me ! " said the woman. " That's a likely story !
He comes and he goes; he's up and he's down, and
he's all over. There aint no takin' keer o' Mm. I
don' know when he'll be in, and I don' know when
he'll be out. It's discouragin'. I do the best I kin ;



A FRIEND. 625

but when I've got somethin' extra ready, he'll be
jes' sure to be out of the way. All he thinks of is
his folk at the cottages."

"Wharbeyon?"

" Hey ? " said the woman, looking at Jonto.

" Whar's he got dem little cottages ? "

" not so very fur ; jes' out o' Boston a bit. How
he do stay ! now his supper won't be no good."

" He's tol'able patient, he is," said Jonto.

u Patient ? That's 'cordin' to what you mean.
Ef his breakfust's ready, he'll eat it ; and ef it aint,
he'll go off without. I don' know ef that's what
you call patient."

" Has you ben acquainted wid him a long while?"
said Jonto softly.

At this, the woman put down her iron and took
a stand in the middle of the floor before Jonto, with
her hands on her hips.

"I'll tell you how it was," said she. "I warn't
livin' here, but in a little place o' my own, a ways
off; a poor enough place it was too; my man was
dead, some good while before, and I was gittin'
along as I could, wi' my two hands, and a widder.
Wall, one day I was at my table ironin', like as I
be now, and glad enough to get it to do, for I'd
ben as poor as poverty; when in comes Dr. Kay.
I didn't know him, no more'n Adam; but he'd got
my name, somehow. Mrs. Peaseley,' says he, ' I've
come to tell you o' some trouble.' ' I dare say,'
says I; 'there's no want o' trouble in the world; ef
it aint one thing, it's another I've ben expectin



626 STEPHEN, M.D.

to hear o' somethin', ever sen I got the washin' to
do for them two ladies;' for you see, before thai,
I didn't know where I was goin' to get bread to
eat. 'So what is it now?' I says to him. Says
he, lookin' at me as steady as the full moon, ' Youi
little boy has had an accident,' says he; 'it's noth
ing but can be made good again; but he's rather
badly hurt.' ' It's jes' like him,' says I. ' An'
what hev ye done with him ? ' ' Will you come to
him and see?' says he. 'As soon as ever I git
my hands out o' this job,' says I, ' I'll come. Where
will I find him?" Wall, you may believe the
way I wrung out my clothes warn't slow arter that ;
and I started.

" An' do you believe, here I found him ? up stairs
there in the doctor's own room, fixed up on a little
cot bed ; all as nice and spic and span as ef he'd
ben anythin' else but what he was Job Peaseley's
little boy. An' he, he looked at me out of his eyes
as ef he didn't know what to make of hisself. Well,
I was beat, you may depend! and I stood and
stared ; but the only thing I could say was, ' HOAV'S
ever I to git him home?' says I. 'He can't be
moved,' says the doctor; 'he's doin' fine, but you
can't move him.' ' I can't be in two places to once,
says I; 'and who's goin' to take keer of him?'
' Can't you come here and do it ? ' says he. ' An'
what's to become o' my bread and butter ? ' says I.
'It's to home in them wash tubs; and hard enough
to git anyhow; and now the doctor's bills '11 hev to
come out of it. I'll hev to scratch to feed myself



A FRIEND. 627

too,' says I. ' What kin you do ? ' says the doctor,
says he, looking straight at me. 'Do?' says I;
'there aint many things, I guess, I carUt do, ef I
hev the chance.' 'Well,' says he, 'one thing is
sartain; you've got to come here and look arter
your boy, 'cause, ye see, I aint to home only now
and then by spells. So you put up your wash tubs,
and come right along over; and I'll see you git
your bread and butter somehow.' Well, I've ben
here ever sen."

'*Dat's him!" said Jouto, with an immensely
satisfied glint in her eye.

" Well, do you know, out o' my Sam growed all
them cottages ? Jes' that. For Sam warn't cured,
by no means, when the doctor he found somebody
else what wanted the best o' care and hadn't no
chance to git it. Why, bless you ! what would I
ha' done wi' my boy in that bit of a place where we
was livin' ? I couldn't ha' fixed him no sort o' ways
comfortable, and I hadn't a crumb o' anything fit
for him to eat; for sick folks aint like well folks."

" Dat's so," said Jonto.

"They wants notions, and Wall, the doctor he
was as partic'lar about Sam as ef he'd been any
lady. What all didn't I hev to do, with beef tea
and jelly, and oranges My! how he did eat or
anges ! and I couldn't ha' got him hardly one ; and
they was the very bestest thing for him, the doctor
said. So then, when Dr. Kay found some more
folks that wanted fust-rate keer and couldn't git
none he come home one night and telled me;



628 STEPHEN, M.D.

and, says he, ' I shall hev to git some biggei place
fixed up for 'em'; and he stood and looked as
grave as ef he'd ha' lied the nation on his shoulders;
and it was only a lot o' poor broken-up folks, that
warn't nothin' to nobody in this world. There!
do you think I know somethin' Q' Dr. Kay ? My !
what'll I ever git him for his supper to-night ? he
went off and never telled me."

Jonto offered no suggestion, although several
occurred to her. Mrs. Peaseley turned and put up
her ironing table.

" Sam, he got well beautiful," she remarked.

Then there came a click in the lock of the
house door, and steps sounded in the hall over
head. Then a door within was opened and shut.

" You kin go up now, I guess, if you want to see
him," Mrs. Peaseley said. "The doctor's there."

Jonto slowly ascended the short stairway, and
knocked at the door to which she had been
directed.

" Come in ! " cried a voice. " What is it, Mrs.
Peaseley ? "

Jonto had entered and saw Stephen bending
over a big book on the table. The room was full
of books. It seemed to her a grand room too ; for
though the house was small, this room was not; it
took up the whole width of the building at the
back. It was comfortable and pretty; dark car
peted, dark hung, where the walls could be seen ;
furnished with very comfortable chairs and lounges,
and a good large study table, which looked impos-



A FRIEND. 629

ing to Jonto's eyes from the numbers of pretty
things upon it. Things unknown to her certainly ;
but the glitter of crystal and the shining of bright
brass, and bronze articles, all lit up by a hanging
lamp which gave a brilliant illumination just
over the table, gave Jon to a pleasant feeling that
Stephen had things nice and as they should be
about him. All this was in a minute or two, dur
ing which she stood still just inside the door; then,
finding the silence continue, Stephen lifted up his
head and looked her way. Eagerly Jonto scanned
that first look. It was not very different from her
old darling as she used to see him at Cowslip. A
man's face, it is true, and with the gravity of more
years and lifework upon it; but Stephen's face had
always been manly, even when it was the face of
a little boy. And the old peace and sweetness,
Jonto saw, was there yet.

Stephen knit his brows a little, in the endeavour
to see plainly from under the blinding light in
which he stood; then his brow cleared with wonder
and finally with joy. He sprang towards his visi-
ter and seized her hand.

" Jonto ! " he cried, " my dear Jonto ! " And I
do not know if Stephen's next action would be
very shocking to most of those who will read of
it; but he stooped and kissed the old black cheek.
Jonto was mightily pleased; too much pleased at
first to speak.

"Well ye's pretty much what I used to see
youl " she burst out. " Ye aint nohow differ."



630 STEPHEN, M.D.

" Did you think I would be ? Come here and sit
down," and he rolled up an easy chair for her.
" What's brought you to Boston ? " And then he
added with a sudden shadowing of his bright brow,
"Are they all well?"

"Dey is well," said Jonto. "Dey is well, as
folks Idn be. Aint not'ing de matter wi' none of
'em.'

"What's brought you here, then ?"

"Don' jes' know! Tears like I had to come;
couldn't stay quiet nohow. 'Clar, de ole place aint
right no mo', wi'out you in de little room up de
star'. I gits lonesome, I does; dat's a fact."

Stephen did not immediately say anything more;
he was bending down to set a match to the wood
laid ready in the chimney ; and then watching the
fire catch, and giving it a helping touch or two.
It was an old-fashioned roomy fire-place, with old
brass andirons, on which a pile of sticks was artis
tically arranged. Presently the blaze was spring
ing up and crackling and flashing its light through
all the room ; catching, as Jonto did not fail to no
tice, the Japanese screen, which stood not far from
one end of the table, looking very rich with the
fire on its olive gold. Then Stephen went to the
head of the stairs and called Mrs. Peaseley.

" Mrs. Peaseley, I have a friend to tea."

" I didn't know that, doctor."

"Nor I, till just now. She is only just come."

"That woman what was down here waitin' fuf
you?"



A FRIEND. 631

"Yes. I want you to get a very good supper
for her."

" Where'll she have it ? "

" Here with me. Do your very best, Mrs.
Peaseley; she understands such things. And let
us have it as soon as you can."

The last words had been with a little change of
tone, and Stephen came back smiling into the
room.

"It's the nicest thing that could have hap
pened ! " he said ; " that you should come and look
me up here. It gives me more pleasure than you
can think. I see a great many faces, Jonto; but
only a few friends." ,

Jonto looked at him keenly, even anxiously.
She had been right; he was not changed, in essen
tial characteristics, that is. There was the more
mature expression of greater life experience; the
graver air that comes with deeper life-work; the
calm and the sweetness of his face were but en
hanced thereby. Yet Jonto studied him soberly,
hardly satisfied.

" Is you nebber gwine to hab' no mo', Mr. Ste
phen ? " she asked suddenly.

"No more what?"

" No mo' frien's but dat ar ? "

"01 hope so. I make a new one every now
and then. Still there are no friends like old ones,
onto."

" 'Spect dat's so. Dat's why a man had bes* hab

wife."



632 STEPHEN, M.D.

" Yes, no doubt," said Stephen easily.

" Aint it mos' time fur you, Mr. Stephen ? "

" For me ? No, Jonto, thank you."

The answer was grave, not gloomy; also it was
decided. But Jonto went on.

"Aint it nebber gwine to be time, Mr. Stephen?"

His words this time did not come without some
delay; when they did come they were, as before,
gentle, grave and determined; and the speaker's
face was not clouded, though very grave. There
was rather a high light upon it, from the spirit's
shining.

"You love me, Jonto," he said; "and you are
the only one in the world that has a right to ask
me that question. Don't let your kind heart be
troubled about me. I am perfectly happy, and
perfectly contented. I'll take you to-morrow and
shew you my poor people; then you'll understand
my life better than you do now, and how full of
good things it is."

" Dat Mis' Peaseley, she tell me 'bout 'em," said
Jonto, with ready tact following Stephen's lead,
and quitting the subject she saw he wished to
regard as disposed of. " Is dey all sick folks, sure
'miff?"

" Sick, or disabled somehow. And they are peo
ple that would have no home nor care if they did
not have this."

"Who has de care ob 'em den when you aint
dar?"

" There is some one in charge in every cottage.



A FRIEND. 633

But I wish I had you there to look after my cook-
ery, Jonto."
" What's dat?"

" The things that must be got ready for my sick
people to eat. They must eat, you know; and it
is the most that can be done for some of them."

" An' does you gib 'em jes' eberyt'ing dey takes
a notion dey wants?"
" Who told you I did ? "
" Dat ar woman wid de speckle' gown."
"She mistakes a little," Stephen said smiling.
" But you know sick people are often fanciful ; and
anybody gets tired of regulation meals; so I let
them choose every day what they will have for
their dinner, provided only it is something they
can have and that is on hand. I send in the sup
plies. But then I want somebody there to take
charge, and use things properly, and prepare every
thing as it ought to be prepared."

" Does de folks git well fast out dar ? "
"Most of them will never get well. I cannot
help all the suffering in Boston, Jonto ; so I send
to my cottages, for the most part, only such cases
as are helpless and homeless. Some of them then,
with rest and good food, get well beyond my ex
pectations; the others never will."

" Does dey pay you nuffin', Mr. Stephen ? "
" No, Jonto. They have no power to pay even
for a doctor's visits."

" Den who's gwine to pay you all dat ? "
Stephen gave her one of the bright, sweet looks



634 STEPHEN, M.D.

that were peculiar to him ; there was the simplicity
of the boy in it, and the fire of the man.

" It is not my money," he said. " Don't you
know that ? I am only a servant. And the Lord
put the means in my hand, and told me to take
eare of these miserable lost ones."
" Was dey lost ones ? "
" Yes," he said gravely.
"An* is any ob 'em done foun'?"
" Yes ! And I hope they all will be."
" 'Pears like dat ar place mus' be de very nex
place to de golden gates!" said Jonto, with eyes
that glistened in the firelight. Stephen went on,
giving her details of what he knew so much in
terested her; till at last the "speckled gown" made
its appearance, and Mrs. Peaseley drew out a table
near the fire, and in stately silence proceeded to
spread it.

"Have you made coffee, Mrs. Peaseley?"
" Coffee ! You allays takes tea, doctor."
"I do ; but my old friend here likes coffee better.
Make a cup, as good as you can, Mrs. Peaseley ; she
is a judge of what's good, I can tell you."
"Don't b'lieve there aint no coffee burned."
" Well,4)urn some, then; all the better; it ought
to be fresh roasted, I remember."

" An' is it your mind, that the supper's to wait,
till I git the berries burned?" inquired the doctor's
factotum, in great disapprobation.

"Yes; and see how quick you can be, Mrs.
Peaseley." Then turning to Jonto with a smile,



A FRIEND. (335

he went on " Do you remember the first cup
of coffee you gave me at Cowslip? that first
Sunday morning ? "

" 'Spect you forgits not'ing, Mr. Stephen ! "

" I have not forgotten that, nor how good it was.
Posie wanted you to give her some, you remember ?
and you wouldn't."

" Dat chile nebber knowed what she wanted."

There was silence.

" Does you ebber see her, Mr. Stephen ? "

"No. Not since I left Cowslip."

" An' aint ye gwine to ? "

" I think not. I hear from her, quite often, J on
to; and she is a dear sister to me. I cannot afford
to risk all that she is to me, by going to see her.
It is best so. You know what you said to me when
I was coming away, 'The Lord's love is better
than all other.' I have that; and it is true."

"But is you allays gwine to live alone, Mr.
Stephen ? ''

" I am not alone," he answered very contentedly.
" I am not ever alone. Don't you know what was
said to the Israelites of old, 'The Lord is with
you, if ye be with him ' ? It is true in more ways
than one. Make your mind easy, Jonto ; I have all
I want in this world ; and if you think I am sep
arated from her, you are mistaken. She is in my
thoughts and makes part of my life, as truly as ever
she did. Only, in this way I have her in all her
ways and times from a little child up. That little
child in the blue frock and white apron is my pos-



636 STEPHEN, M.D.

session now as much as ever; unchangeable and
precious."

" Dey is gwine down to see her dis fall," Jonto
remarked, as Stephen was silent.

" Her father and mother ? "

"Dat's what dey is. Mis' Har'nbrook, she don'
nebber know what to do wid herself; and Mr. Har'n
brook, 'spect he's made as much money as he keers
fur; dey's gwine down to Maryland, fur sure, and
dey is gwine to stay all de winter dar ; 'spects dey'll
nebber t'ink dey can't come home no mo'."

" What are you going to do, Jonto ? "

"Dun know. Knows right smart what I'd like
to do."

" What is that? Come and take care of me?" he
said with a very bright face.

" Can't stay no place whar I can't make de cof
fee ! " said Jonto. Stephen laughed.

"You shall do that. Suppose for the present you
make the coffee at my cottages? that would be
taking double care of me until, Jonto, I can ar
range for you to take the management here? Hey?
how say you to that ? "

" Does you want me, sure and sartain, Mr. Ste
phen?"

"Want you? Jonto, it would be the greatest
possible comfort and the greatest happiness to me;
the only thing, in fact, that I do want still. So
thafs what you came to Boston for ? " he added ju
bilantly. " That is capital ! "

"Dun know," said Jonto. "I allays 'spected da



A FRIEND. 637

was a meanin' in it, why ole Mass' Har'nbrook he
took de notion he'd go down Souf dis partic'lar fall.
Dey is want me to go wid 'em ; and Miss Posie she
writ for me to come ; but," said Jonto with a chuckle,
' I don't want to stay nowhar dat I can't make de cof
fee. 'Spects de way dey hab it down dar wouldn't
agree wid me. An' ef you t'inks you wants me,
Mr. Stephen"

"Then that's settled," exclaimed Stephen, joyous
ly; "and here's supper for you, Jonto."

Mrs. Peaseley brought in at the minute a very
large tray, which she set down on the floor, and
then lifted the various things upon it and disposed
them on the table before the tire; moving with a
stiff angularity which testified to some uncomforta
ble protest going on in her mind against the order
of things. Her face had no expression. Stephen
ordered the coffee pot set down by the fire, and de
sired a larger supply of butter and cream to be
brought. " You forget I am not alone, Mrs. Pease-
ley," he said. "Now Jonto! Do you remember
a savoury pigeon you gave to a hungry little boy
one night, a long while ago? I have nothing so
good for you; but you shall have the best I've got."

" Does you remember eberyting, Mr. Stephen ? "

" I am very glad to remember."

Jonto, if she were not as hungry as that little
boy that particular night, perhaps enjoyed her sup
per as much ; for Stephen attended to her with the
most affectionate care ; and the old woman sunned
herself, as it were, in his presence and kindness.



638 STEPHEN, M.D.

He saw to it afterwards that she was well lodged;
and the next morning took her out, as he had pro
posed, to see his cottages and his poor people. And
the programme sketched between them the pre
vious night, it may be here stated, was fully carried
out and passed into fact.



CHAPTER LIT,

NEWS.

IT was as Jonto opined it would be. Mr. and
Mrs. Hardenbrook, once in Posie's society
again, could never leave it. They took up their
abode in her neighbourhood. Yet could not al
ways keep in her neighbourhood, for Mr. Dun-
stable's business led him to move occasionally from
place to place, and it hardly suited their comfort
sometimes to follow where he went.

One of these times had come, a few years later
than the date of Jonto's taking up her abode in
Boston. Posie had been obliged to go with her
husband to a distance, and the two elder people
were left somewhat disconsolately alone again.
They were nicely settled in a pleasant home ; but
now nevertheless they were thinking of pulling up
stakes and moving after their daughter. What
better had they to do ?

Meantime, Mr. Hardenbrook came in to tea one
evening, and found his wife as in old times waiting
for him. He had brought postal despatches with
him, also as of old; and gave Mrs. Hardenbrook

(639)



640 STEPHEN, M.D.

Borne letters, while he sat down to study the news
paper. Neither of the pair was much changed



Online LibrarySusan WarnerStephen, M. D. → online text (page 33 of 34)