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Newspaper Page Text
THE BEST MAN-rBY GOUVERNEUR MORRIS
, (Continued from Saturday.)
She went with-iim to the head of
the stairs, closing the door behind
"Do you think he is seriously ill?"
'"I do not know," said Odeskalki,
"but I am afraid so. What I want to
say is this. Do not hesitate to call
on me if you run short of money. I
have saved nearly a thousand dollars.
Furthermore, it would be a pleasure
for me to do you a good turn. I will
come again tomorrow. But you must
not confine yourself entirely to the
house. Perhaps I will make you go
for a walk with me. Is it permitted?"
He had taken her hand and raised
it to his lips. If he kissed it with
more ardor than mere friendship per
mits, Olenka did not know. She was
very grateful to him for his offers of
help and for the kind tone which he
' "How I have misjudged, this man!"
Openta was waiting her return
with greedy eagerness.
"But what did lie say to you?" he
asked, almpst querulously.
"He spoke altogether kindly," said
Olenka, "offering help, and even a
loan if necessary. I tell you he does
away with that scowling habit when
people are in trouble."
"Didn't I always tell you he was
a gqod fellow at bottom?" said
"I doe'd lige hib," said the old man.
Odeskalki came nearly every day.
For the most part he wore a smiling
mask. Sometimes he insisted on tak
ing t Olenka for a walk. Sometimes
he read the papers to Openta and the
old nianT Meanwhile Openta got a
little better, but he could not use his
Jegs without suffering torment, and
his savings were nearly all gone.
The weather was bitter cold; pro
visions were high, and more w6od
went up the stove chimney in the
form of smoke than Olenka cared
to think about. But through it all
she preserved her charm and her
cheerfulness. But Odeskalki, if he
had wished, could have told of mo
ments, carefully screened from the
Opentas, when the anxiety which
was torturing her came to the sur
face. Once, as they were mounting"
the last flight of stairs, having re
turned from a short walk, she began
to sob. Odeskalki caught her in his
arms and held her until she panted
fof breath. She seemed pre-occupied
and not concerned with what had
That same day Odeskalki informed
the Opentas that in the future, he
would have to work on the day shift
and that it would not be possible for
him always to come up early enough
in the evening to find them awake.
"It is a pity," said Openta,. "that
your lodging is not in the neighbor
"I don't see," said Odeskalki, "why
I do not live with you and bear a
portion of the expenses. But do not
invite me unless you wish."
Two nights later Stanislas Odes
kalki came for the first time to pass
the night under the same roof which
covered Olenka, and old man Openta
whispered to his son:
"I doe'd lige hib."
On a certain evening, when old
man Openta was sleeping heavily,
Odeskalki spoke to the young Open
tas of matters which were troubling
"Will either of you deny," he said,
"that you have reached the end of
your resources two days ago and that
I am bearing all the expenses?"
Neither Orloff nor his wife were
able to deny this.
'It is nothing," continued Odes- '
kalki. "Let things be as they are
until Orloff is well. But there is one
thing which I cannot endure much
longer. And that is the hostility