Page:O Henry Prize Stories of 1924.djvu/194

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rather have a good horse than an auto. He’s stopping at the gate.” Betsey’s voice grew shrill, the dog and the cat lifted their heads, the furniture seemed to stir as though that for which they all waited was now imminent. “I don’t believe he’ll hurt you, Sister.”

Doctor Landis tied his horse and came up the path, a stout, ruddy-faced man with a short bristling moustache. He walked heavily, carrying his medicine case in one hand and a book in the other. He was a worldly Lutheran and a great reader.

“He’s carrying his book,’ said Betsey. ‘‘He forgets he has it, I guess. If he would read the Bible, how fine that would be!”

Tilly did not answer. The water which streamed from her eyes burned like fire.

Doctor Landis brought in with him a breath of cold air and the pleasant odour of drugs. The room seemed to brighten; Tilly’s spirits rose and Betsey felt so relieved that she sank upon a chair. He laid his medicine case and book on the settle and pulled off his gloves. He was able to speak the fluent Pennsylvania English of his generation though he preferred the Pennsylvania German of his ancestors.

“Well!” he said. "Did I bring that wicked book along? I have no wife and no child and I’m not a smoker and I must have something to fill in the time in this healthy place. It’s twenty years since I was in this house. Now what’s the matter with the eyes, Tilly?”

“They burn me and ache me.” Tilly still pressed her fingers against the lids. “I can’t see any more.”

“You mean you can’t see me?”

“I can see you if I take my hand away. But I can’t see to sew.”

Doctor Landis bent above the quilt. He made an inquiring sign to Betsey, pointing first to the quilt then to Tilly. Betsey nodded and he completed the pantomime by shaking his fist at the starry sky.

‘‘Let’s see these eyes.” He sat down by Tilly on the settle and she put out her hand on the other side. It touched the book which he had laid there and she clutched it and held it as though it were a rope flung to a sinking swimmer.

“Open your eyes,” commanded the doctor.