Mary Louise Solves a Mystery eBook: Page2

L. Frank Baum (2008)


  The child crept softly to her mother's bedside, but once there sheimpulsively threw her arms about "Mamma Tone's" neck and embraced herso tightly that the sick woman was obliged to tear the little armsaway. She did this tenderly, though, and holding the trembling hands inher own kissed both of Lory's cheeks before she said:

  "I've news for you, dear."

  "Are you better, mamma?" asked Lory.

  "Of course not," was the calm reply. "You mustn't expect mamma ever toget well, my darling. But that shouldn't worry you--not too much, youknow. One of the queer things about life is that it has an end, sooneror later, and in mamma's case it comes to an end a little sooner thanyou and I might wish it to."

  "Oh, Mamma Tone!" An agonized cry, with the small hands clasped tightlyover her throbbing heart. But Tony Seaver did not flinch.

  "The news I have will surprise you, Lory dear. Your father, who lovedyou devotedly when you were a baby, but whom you have never known tillnow, is coming here to see us."

  Alora's eyes grew big with wonder, but other thoughts drove even thisstrange news from her mind.

  "I can't let you go, Mamma Tone," she wailed, sobbing; "I can't let youdie and leave me all alone!"

  The woman's breast heaved. She was silent a moment and then saidquietly:

  "Even kings and queens, sweetheart, have no command over life anddeath. When it is too late to help it, we realize we have been born;when it is too late to help it, we realize we must die. But whycomplain, when it is the fate of all humanity? To be true to ourCreator, who directs all things, we must bow to His will withoutprotest. You will love your father, Lory, because he will love you; andhe is a good man, and kindly, so I believe he will make your life ashappy as I could have done."

  "I don't want him; I want _you,_ Mamma--I want _you!"_

  The mother sighed wearily and the alert nurse advanced and said to thechild in grave, cold tones:

  "You must control yourself, Miss Alora, if you wish to remain."

  The threat quieted the little girl at once.

  "I'll be good, Mamma Tone," she whispered softly. "Talk to me, and tellme what I must do."

  So the dying woman talked to her, not of herself, but of Alora'sfather, and of how she would like her child to conduct herself whileshe grew in womanhood. She spoke of her will, and told Lory what itmeant to her and how she had safe-guarded her interests as well as shewas able. To this Lory listened intently and, although she stilltrembled at times, she had Tony Seaver's blood in her veins and couldbe brave in spite of the terrors that faced her. Dimly she realizedthat her mother was suffering through the knowledge of their inevitableparting, even as Alora was suffering, and felt she could comfort thatbeloved mother more by controlling her grief bravely than by giving wayto it in her mother's presence.

  Meantime, Dr. Anstruther had returned to his office and had written anddispatched the following telegram:

  "Jason Jones,1744 East 67th St.,New York City.

  "Your wife is dying at the Hotel Voltaire and wishes reconciliationbefore she passes away. Come quickly, as any delay may prove dangerous.Notify me by wire when to expect you.Edward Anstruther, M. D."

  He left orders that the answer be delivered to him at his office orresidence, as soon as received, but the day and the night passedwithout a word from Jason Jones. Dr. Anstruther telephoned thetelegraph office and was assured his message had been delivered to theparty in New York, as otherwise they would be notified to that effect.

  Knowing Mrs. Jones' dangerous condition, the good doctor was worried,but the following morning brought the delayed answer:

  "If necessary for me to come, you must send money for expenses."

  It was signed "Jason Jones" and its tone and its demand annoyed Dr.Anstruther exceedingly.

  "Confound the fellow!" he exclaimed. "Any decent man would haveborrowed the money, or even pawned his watch and jewelry, to get to adying wife who calls for him. Either Mrs. Jones is mistaken in herhusband's kindly character or--well, he may have changed since last sheknew him."

  He did not hesitate, however, to go to the office and send money bytelegraph to Jason Jones, furnishing the required sum from his ownpocket rather than allow Antoinette to see her husband's telegram. Heeven sent more than was necessary, muttering to himself: "The poordevil may have some bills to settle before he can get away, and in anyevent she must not be disappointed because her impecunious husbandlacks a few dollars. I fancy the poor artist will be amazed to findhimself suddenly raised from poverty to affluence, for little Lory'sincome will be enormous and he will have seven years, at least, toenjoy it unrestrained. I hope," he added thoughtfully, as he drove backto his office, "that Mrs. Jones has made no error in her judgment ofthis man, for it is considerable power to place in anyone's hands andAlora is such a dear that I want her properly taken care of."

  When he made his next visit to his patient he said in answer to herquestioning look:

  "Mr. Jones will be here to-morrow, I think. He will notify me of hisarrival and I will be here to meet him. I believe it will be advisablefor me to see him first, you know, in order to--eh--eh--to post him abit," he added, meaningly.

  "Yes," she replied, "I fear it will be something of a shock to Jason.Even though we have practically been strangers for years, he is sure tobe grieved and sympathetic. But do not bore him with particulars,Doctor. Send him to me as soon as you have prepared him for theinterview."