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Avery   By: (1844-1911)

Book cover

First Page:

[Frontispiece: "YOU ARE SO GENEROUS TO ME" (page 24)]


By Elizabeth Stuart Phelps



The Riverside Press, Cambridge





Published October, 1902

Avery originally appeared as a serial in Harper's Magazine under the title of His Wife .



"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.

Dr. Esmerald Thorne had the preoccupations of his eminence, and his patients waited their turns with that undiscouraged endurance which is the jest and the despair of less distinguished physicians. Women took their crochet work to his office, and men bided their time with gnawed mustache and an unnatural interest in the back number magazines upon his table. Indifferent ailments received his belated attention, and to certain patients he came when he got ready. Mrs. Avery's was not one of these cases.

When Molly's tumultuous telephone call reached him that dav, it found him at the hospital, sewing up an accident. He drew the thread through the stitch, handed the needle to the house surgeon, who was standing by, and ran downstairs. The hospital was two miles from Marshall Avery's house. Dr. Thorne's horse took the distance on a gallop, and Dr. Thorne took Avery's stairs two at a time.

He came into her room, however, with the theatrical calm and the preposterous smile which men of his profession and his kind assume in the presence of danger that unconsciousness has not blotted from the patient's intelligence. Through the wide window the late October air bit in. She was lying full in the surly breeze on the lounge pillow, as Molly had left her. Her blue morning gown was clutched and torn open at the throat. No one had thought to cover her... Continue reading book >>

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