Dear sor, as you haf bin treading mee for a fue Weaks dis Somer and seen wat is rong wit mee so in Regarding to dat i wont to tank you. the Doctor heir say wat shot bee rong wit mee and day give mee som Madsin but it diten halp mee like wat you dit. Now day glaim dat i Woten Neet aney Madsin ad all wat you tink?
Well i haven ben tacking aney ting for about one & 1/2 Mont but i dont get better so i like to heir Wat you tink about it i feel like dis Disconfebil feeling around the Stomac after eating and dat Pain around Heard and down the arm and about 3 to 3 1/2 Hour after Eating i feel weeak like and dissy and a dull Hadig. Now you gust lett mee know Wat you tink about mee, i do Wat you say.
She encountered Guy Pollock at the drug store. He looked at her as though he had a right to; he spoke softly. "I haven't see you, the last few days."
"No. I've been out in the country with Will several times. He's so — — Do you know that people like you and me can never understand people like him? We're a pair of hypercritical loafers, you and I, while he quietly goes and does things."
She nodded and smiled and was very busy about purchasing boric acid. He stared after her, and slipped away.
When she found that he was gone she was slightly disconcerted.
She could — at times — agree with Kennicott that the shaving-and-corsets familiarity of married life was not dreary vulgarity but a wholesome frankness; that artificial reticences might merely be irritating. She was not much disturbed when for hours he sat about the living-room in his honest socks. But she would not listen to his theory that "all this romance stuff is simply moonshine — elegant when you're courting, but no use busting yourself keeping it up all your life."
She thought of surprises, games, to vary the days. She knitted an astounding purple scarf, which she hid under his supper plate. (When he discovered it he looked embarrassed, and gasped, "Is today an anniversary or something? Gosh, I'd forgotten it!")
Once she filled a thermos bottle with hot coffee a corn-flakes box with cookies just baked by Bea, and bustled to his office at three in the afternoon. She hid her bundles in the hall and peeped in.
The office was shabby. Kennicott had inherited it from a medical predecessor, and changed it only by adding a white enameled operating-table, a sterilizer, a Roentgen-ray apparatus, and a small portable typewriter. It was a suite of two rooms: a waiting-room with straight chairs, shaky pine table, and those coverless and unknown magazines which are found only in the offices of dentists and doctors. The room beyond, looking on Main Street, was business-office, consulting-room, operating-room, and, in an alcove, bacteriological and chemical laboratory. The wooden floors of both rooms were bare; the furniture was brown and scaly.
Waiting for the doctor were two women, as still as though they were paralyzed, and a man in a railroad brakeman's uniform, holding his bandaged right hand with his tanned left. They stared at Carol. She sat modestly in a stiff chair, feeling frivolous and out of place.
Kennicott appeared at the inner door, ushering out a bleached man with a trickle of wan beard, and consoling him, "All right, Dad. Be careful about the sugar, and mind the diet I gave you. Gut the prescription filled, and come in and see me next week. Say, uh, better, uh, better not drink too much beer. All right, Dad."
His voice was artificially hearty. He looked absently at Carol. He was a medical machine now, not a domestic machine. "What is it, Carrie?" he droned.
"No hurry. Just wanted to say hello."
"Well — — "
Self-pity because he did not divine that this was a surprise party rendered her sad and interesting to herself, and she had the pleasure of the martyrs in saying bravely to him, "It's nothing special. If you're busy long I'll trot home."
While she waited she ceased to pity and began to mock herself. For the first time she observed the waiting-room. Oh yes, the doctor's family had to have obi panels and a wide couch and an electric percolator, but any hole was good enough for sick tired common people who were nothing but the one means and excuse for the doctor's existing! No. She couldn't blame Kennicott. He was satisfied by the shabby chairs. He put up with them as his patients did. It was her neglected province — she who had been going about talking of rebuilding the whole town!
When the patients were gone she brought in her bundles.
"What's those?" wondered Kennicott.
"Turn your back! Look out of the window!"
He obeyed — not very much bored. When she cried "Now!" a feast of cookies and small hard candies and hot coffee was spread on the roll-top desk in the inner room.
His broad face lightened. "That's a new one on me! Never was more surprised in my life! And, by golly, I believe I am hungry. Say, this is fine."
When the first exhilaration of the surprise had declined she demanded, "Will! I'm going to refurnish your waiting-room!"
"What's the matter with it? It's all right."
"It is not! It's hideous. We can afford to give your patients a better place. And it would be good business." She felt tremendously politic.
"Rats! I don't worry about the business. You look here now: As I told you — — Just because I like to tuck a few dollars away, I'll be switched if I'll stand for your thinking I'm nothing but a dollar-chasing — — "
"Stop it! Quick! I'm not hurting your feelings! I'm not criticizing! I'm the adoring least one of thy harem. I just mean — — "
Two days later, with pictures, wicker chairs, a rug, she had made the waiting-room habitable; and Kennicott admitted, "Does look a lot better. Never thought much about it. Guess I need being bullied."
She was convinced that she was gloriously content in her career as doctor's-wife.
She tried to free herself from the speculation and disillusionment which had been twitching at her; sought to dismiss all the opinionation of an insurgent era. She wanted to shine upon the veal-faced bristly-bearded Lyman Cass as much as upon Miles Bjornstam or Guy Pollock. She gave a reception for the Thanatopsis Club. But her real acquiring of merit was in calling upon that Mrs. Bogart whose gossipy good opinion was so valuable to a doctor.
Though the Bogart house was next door she had entered it but three times. Now she put on her new moleskin cap, which made her face small and innocent, she rubbed off the traces of a lip-stick — and fled across the alley before her admirable resolution should sneak away.
The age of houses, like the age of men, has small relation to their years. The dull-green cottage of the good Widow Bogart was twenty years old, but it had the antiquity of Cheops, and the smell of mummy-dust. Its neatness rebuked the street. The two stones by the path were painted yellow; the outhouse was so overmodestly masked with vines and lattice that it was not concealed at all; the last iron dog remaining in Gopher Prairie stood among whitewashed conch-shells upon the lawn. The hallway was dismayingly scrubbed; the kitchen was an exercise in mathematics, with problems worked out in equidistant chairs.
The parlor was kept for visitors. Carol suggested, "Let's sit in the kitchen. Please don't trouble to light the parlor stove."
"No trouble at all! My gracious, and you coming so seldom and all, and the kitchen is a perfect sight, I try to keep it clean, but Cy will track mud all over it, I've spoken to him about it a hundred times if I've spoken once, no, you sit right there, dearie, and I'll make a fire, no trouble at all, practically no trouble at all."
Mrs. Bogart groaned, rubbed her joints, and repeatedly dusted her hands while she made the fire, and when Carol tried to help she lamented, "Oh, it doesn't matter; guess I ain't good for much but toil and workin' anyway; seems as though that's what a lot of folks think."
The parlor was distinguished by an expanse of rag carpet from which, as they entered, Mrs. Bogart hastily picked one sad dead fly. In the center of the carpet was a rug depicting a red Newfoundland dog, reclining in a green and yellow daisy field and labeled "Our Friend." The parlor organ, tall and thin, was adorned with a mirror partly circular, partly square, and partly diamond-shaped, and with brackets holding a pot of geraniums, a mouth-organ, and a copy of "The Oldtime Hymnal." On the center table was a Sears-Roebuck mail-order catalogue, a silver frame with photographs of the Baptist Church and of an elderly clergyman, and an aluminum tray containing a rattlesnake's rattle and a broken spectacle-lens.