Page:O Henry Prize Stories of 1924.djvu/195

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THE COURIER OF THE CZAR

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As Tilly obeyed with agony, the hot flood became hotter. She could see the doctor’s face, but nothing beyond it, not even Betsey standing at his elbow.

“It’s worse to-day than yesterday,” she said, as though that lightened the seriousness of the case.

“And worse yesterday than day before, I dare say,” said the doctor. “Yet you kept on sewing?”

“We had the starry quilt to finish,” explained Tilly. “I thought when the starry quilt was done I’d rest my eyes and then it would also be soon time to work in the garden.”

The doctor lifted the lid of Tilly’s right eye, then the lid of the left. Tilly could not suppress a groan, at sound of which Betsey trembled from head to foot. The doctor rose heavily.

“Have you any black muslin, Betsey?”

Betsey took a roll from the cupboard drawer. Standing by the table the doctor folded a thick bandage and laid white gauze upon it, then he turned to Tilly, a bottle and a medicine dropper in his hand.

“Watch me, Betsey. See? Like this, four drops in each eye, night and morning.”

“Oh! Oh!” moaned Tilly.

“Keep your eyes tight shut. Now I’m going to bandage them with a black bandage. If for any reason you have to remove it, you’re to do it in a dark room.”

“Must my eyes be tied shut?” gasped Tilly.

“They must indeed.” The doctor stood at the table spreading salve upon the white gauze. “Put fresh gauze on, Betsey, and fresh salve, night and morning.”

“For how long?” faltered Tilly.

“A week from to-day I’ll be back to look at them.”

“A week!” cried Betsey. “Must she keep them covered for a week?”

Smitten dumb, Tilly said nothing; she merely lifted the doctor’s book and opened it as if to read and thus prove that this was a bad dream.

“A week at least,” announced the doctor. “Then we'll see how they are. Too much quilting, Tilly. How old are you?”

“Only sixty-five,” answered Tilly. “And I have good