Avery by Elizabeth Stuart Phelps Page 1 of 63


"Oh, Pink! Mother can't lift you.... I would if I could.... Yes, I know I used to -

"Molly, take the baby. Couldn't you amuse him, somehow? Perhaps, if you tried hard, you could keep him still. When he screams so, it seems to hit me - here. It makes it harder to breathe. He cried 'most all night. And if you could contrive to keep Pink, too -

"What is it, Kate? You'll have to manage without me this morning. Pick up anything for luncheon - I don't care. I couldn't eat. You can warm over that mutton for yourselves. We must keep the bills down. They were too large last month. Order a grouse for Mr. Avery. He says he will dine at home to-night -

"There 's the telephone! Somebody answer it. I can't get down, myself.... Is it Mr. Avery? ... Wants me? ... I don't see how I can.... Yes. Hold the wire. I 'll try -

"Did you speak to me, Molly? ... No, I 'm not feeling any worse. It's only getting up the stairs, and ... something that tired me a little. I don't want Dr. Thorne. I can't call the doctor so often. I 'm no worse than ... I sometimes ... am. It's only that I cannot breathe.... Molly! Molly! Quick, Molly! The window! Air!"

As Molly dashed the window up, Mrs. Avery's head fell back upon the pillows of the lounge. They were blue pillows, and her blanching cheek took a little reflection from the color. But she was not ghastly; she never was. At the lowest limit of her strength she seemed to challenge death with an indomitable vitality.

There was a certain surprise in the discovery that so blond a being could have so much of it. She was very fair - blue of eye, yellow of hair, pearly of skin; but all her coloring was warm and rich; when she was well, it was an occupation to admire her ear, her cheek, her throat; and when she was ill her eye conquered. Every delicate trait and feature of her defied her fate, except her mouth; this had begun to take on a pitiful expression. The doctor's blazing eye flashed on it when he was summoned hastily. It had become a symptom to him, and was usually the first one of which he took note.

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