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The Finish Of Patsy Barnes
by [?]

They had been living in Dalesford for a year nearly, when hard work and exposure brought the woman down to bed with pneumonia. They were very poor–too poor even to call in a doctor, so there was nothing to do but to call in the city physician. Now this medical man had too frequent calls into Little Africa, and he did not like to go there. So he was very gruff when any of its denizens called him, and it was even said that he was careless of his patients.

Patsy’s heart bled as he heard the doctor talking to his mother:

“Now, there can’t be any foolishness about this,” he said. “You’ve got to stay in bed and not get yourself damp.”

“How long you think I got to lay hyeah, doctah?” she asked.

“I’m a doctor, not a fortune-teller,” was the reply. “You’ll lie there as long as the disease holds you.”

“But I can’t lay hyeah long, doctah, case I ain’t got nuffin’ to go on.”

“Well, take your choice: the bed or the boneyard.”

Eliza began to cry.

“You needn’t sniffle,” said the doctor; “I don’t see what you people want to come up here for anyhow. Why don’t you stay down South where you belong? You come up here and you’re just a burden and a trouble to the city. The South deals with all of you better, both in poverty and crime.” He knew that these people did not understand him, but he wanted an outlet for the heat within him.

There was another angry being in the room, and that was Patsy. His eyes were full of tears that scorched him and would not fall. The memory of many beautiful and appropriate oaths came to him; but he dared not let his mother hear him swear. Oh! to have a stone–to be across the street from that man!

When the physician walked out, Patsy went to the bed, took his mother’s hand, and bent over shamefacedly to kiss her. He did not know that with that act the Recording Angel blotted out many a curious damn of his.

The little mark of affection comforted Eliza unspeakably. The mother-feeling overwhelmed her in one burst of tears. Then she dried her eyes and smiled at him.

“Honey,” she said; “mammy ain’ gwine lay hyeah long. She be all right putty soon.”

“Nevah you min’,” said Patsy with a choke in his voice. “I can do somep’n’, an’ we’ll have anothah doctah.”

“La, listen at de chile; what kin you do?”

“I’m goin’ down to McCarthy’s stable and see if I kin git some horses to exercise.”

A sad look came into Eliza’s eyes as she said: “You’d bettah not go, Patsy; dem hosses’ll kill you yit, des lak dey did yo’ pappy.”

But the boy, used to doing pretty much as he pleased, was obdurate, and even while she was talking, put on his ragged jacket and left the room.

Patsy was not wise enough to be diplomatic. He went right to the point with McCarthy, the liveryman.

The big red-faced fellow slapped him until he spun round and round. Then he said, “Ye little devil, ye, I’ve a mind to knock the whole head off o’ ye. Ye want harses to exercise, do ye? Well git on that ‘un, an’ see what ye kin do with him.”

The boy’s honest desire to be helpful had tickled the big, generous Irishman’s peculiar sense of humor, and from now on, instead of giving Patsy a horse to ride now and then as he had formerly done, he put into his charge all the animals that needed exercise.

It was with a king’s pride that Patsy marched home with his first considerable earnings.

They were small yet, and would go for food rather than a doctor, but Eliza was inordinately proud, and it was this pride that gave her strength and the desire of life to carry her through the days approaching the crisis of her disease.

As Patsy saw his mother growing worse, saw her gasping for breath, heard the rattling as she drew in the little air that kept going her clogged lungs, felt the heat of her burning hands, and saw the pitiful appeal in her poor eyes, he became convinced that the city doctor was not helping her. She must have another. But the money?