Page:O Henry Prize Stories of 1924.djvu/193

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

THE COURIER OF THE CZAR

159

out of my way. They know me. I’ll give up sewing. You'll have enough trouble with me yet, Betsey, without ripping out my crooked stitches. Now come to bed.”

Betsey looked at the clock—the hands pointed to half-past four.

“It’s not worth while to go to bed. I'll get dressed ready to milk and I’ll watch for Herr when he comes to fetch the milk and I’ll say he shall tell Doctor Landis to come to us. He'll cure you, Tilly. He’ll surely cure you.”


The clock ticked solemnly—it was now eight o’clock, now nine. Soft flakes of snow had begun to fall, the sky seemed to stoop lower and lower. Tilly sat at the end of the settle, her elbow on the arm, her hand supporting her bending face, a finger pressed upon each eye. Now and then a tear rolled down her cheek.

“It’s not that I'm crying,” she explained, angrily. “It’s that my eyes water.”

“Yes,” said Betsey. Betsey was the only moving object except the pendulum of the clock. The dog and cat lay motionless but alert. Even the cupboard and the mantel and the starry quilt seemed to be alert and waiting.

“It’s ten o’clock,” said Betsey at last. ‘Why, then, does he not come?”

“He has perhaps a great many sick ones,” suggested Tilly. Betsey looked up the road and then down.

“You can’t see far in the snow,” she explained.

“Is it snowing?” asked Tilly.

Betsey turned from the window and looked at her sister.

“Do you ask because you want to keep your eyes covered? Or is it that you can’t see?”

“I want to keep my eyes covered,” declared Tilly. Tilly did want to keep her eyes covered, but it was because she believed that if she uncovered them she could not see. “I sewed perhaps a little too late last evening. If you want to sew, Sister,” she said, heroically, “then sew.”

“I don’t need to sew,” answered Betsey. “He’s coming. He has his buggy, not his auto. I guess he’s afraid the snow will get deep for him. He’s driving his Minnie-horse, the yellow one. She’s a good horse; they say when sometimes he’s tired and falls asleep she takes him home. I would