Read CHAPTER XXV of Old Crow , free online book, by Alice Brown, on ReadCentral.com.

Raven walked up to the side door of the house and knocked.  She came at once, her face blank of any expectation, though at seeing him she did stand a little tenser and her lips parted with a quicker breath.

“Good morning,” said he.  “Aren’t you going to ask me in?”

“Oh!” breathed Tira.  It seemed she did actually consider keeping him out.  “I don’t know,” she blundered.  “I’m alone, but I never feel certain - - ”

She never felt certain, he concluded, whether her peril might not be upon her.  But he had a sense of present security.  He had seen Tenney disappearing inside the fringe of woods.

“Let me come in,” he said quietly.  “I want to talk to you.  It’s cold for you out here.”

She moved aside and he followed her to the kitchen.  The room was steaming with warmth, the smell of apple sauce and a boiling ham.  Her moulding board, dusted with flour, was on the table, and her yellow mixing bowl beside it.  Raven did not think what household duties he might be delaying, but the scene was sweet to him:  a haven of homely comfort where she ought to find herself secure.  There was, in the one casual glance he took, no sign of the child, and he was glad.  That strange, silent witness, since Nan and Charlotte had both, by a phrase, banished the little creature into an alien room of its own, had begun to embarrass him.  He wanted to talk to Tira alone.

“Baby’s in the bedroom,” said Tira, answering his thought.  “When he’s in here, I wake him up steppin’ round.”

Raven stood waiting for her to sit, and she drew forward a chair, placing it to give her an oblique view from the window.  Having seated herself, she asked him, with a shy hospitality: 

“Won’t you set?”

He drew a chair nearer her and his eyes sought her in the light of what Nan had said.  Yes, she was beautiful.  Her blue calico, faded to a softness suited to old pictures, answered the blue of her eyes.  The wistful look of her face had deepened.  It was all over a gentle interrogation of sweet patience and unrest.

“So Nan came over,” he began.  It seemed the only way to pierce her reserve, at once, by a straight shaft.  “You wouldn’t do what she wanted you to.”

She shook her head.

“Why wouldn’t you?” he urged, and then she did answer, not ungraciously, but with a shy courtesy: 

“I didn’t feel to.”

“It would be” - he hesitated for a word and found an ineffectual one - “nice, if you could talk to her.  She wouldn’t tell.”

“I don’t,” said Tira, still with the same gentle obstinacy, “hold much with talkin’.”

Raven, because he had her to himself and the time was short, determined not to spare her for lack of a searching word.

“Tira,” he said, and she smiled a little, mysteriously to him but really because she loved to hear him use her name, “things aren’t getting any better here.  They’re getting worse.”

“Oh, no,” she hastened to say.  “They’re better.”

“Only last night you had to run away from him.”

“Things are ever so much better,” said Tira, smiling at him, with a radiance of conviction that lighted her face to a new sort of beauty.  “They’re all right.  I’ve found the Lord.”

What could he say?  Old Crow had besought him, too, to abandon fear in the certainty of a safe universe speaking through the symbols man could understand.  He tried to summon something that would reach and move her.

“What if I were drowning,” he said.  “Suppose I knew I should” - he sought for the accepted phrase - “go to heaven, if I drowned.  Do you think I should be right in not trying to save myself?”

Tira knit her brows.  It was only for an instant, though.

“No,” she said.  “Certain you’d have to save yourself.  You’d have to try every way you knew.  That’s what I’ve done.  I’m tryin’ every way I know.”

“I’m telling you another way,” said Raven sharply.  “I’m telling you you can’t live with a crazy man - - ”

“Oh, no,” she interrupted earnestly.  “He ain’t that.  He has spells, that’s all.”

“I’m not even asking you to go away with me.  I’m asking you to go with that good woman over there.”  Somehow he felt this was more appealing than the name of Nan.  “I trust her as I do myself, more than myself.  It’s to save your life, Tira, your life and the baby’s life.”

She was looking at him out of eyes warm with the whole force of her worshiping love and gratitude.

“No,” she said softly.  “I can’t go.  I ain’t got a word to say ag’inst her,” she added eagerly.  “She’s terrible good.  Anybody could see that.  But I can’t talk to folks.  I can’t let ’em know.  Not anybody,” she added softly, as if to herself, “but you.”

Raven forbade himself to be moved by this.

“Then,” he said, “you’ll have to talk to other folks you may not like so well.  I shall complain of him.  I shall be a witness to what I’ve seen and what you’ve told me.  I’ve threatened you with that before, but now it’s got to be done.”

“No,” said Tira, trying, he could see, through every fiber of will in her to influence him.  But never by her beauty:  she was game there.  “You wouldn’t tell what I’ve said to you.  You couldn’t.  ‘Twas said to you an’ nobody else.  It couldn’t ha’ been said to anybody else on this livin’ earth.”

Here was a spark of passion, as if she struck it out unknowingly.  But he must not be moved, and by every means he would move her.

“What is there,” he said, in the roughness of an emotion she saw plainly, “what is there I wouldn’t do to save your life?  To save you from being knocked about, touched” - he was about to add “violated,” the purity of her seemed so virginal, but he stopped and she went on: 

“It’s just as I told you before.  If they asked me questions, I should say ’twa’n’t so.  I should say you thought ’twas so, but ’twa’n’t.  I should say you wrote books an’ you got up things, I guessed.  It made you wrong in your head.”

Old Crow!  The innocent observers of his life and Old Crow’s were in a mysterious conspiracy to prove them both unsound.  He laughed out suddenly and she looked at him, surprised.

“Do you know why I would?” she continued earnestly.  “Because he never’d overlook it in this world.  If they hauled him up before a judge, an’ you testified, the minute they let him go he’d take it out o’ you.  You’d be in more danger’n I be now.  Besides, I ain’t in any danger.  I tried it this mornin’ an’ I found out.”  He sat with knitted brows and dry lips waiting for her to go on.  “Last night,” she said, “after you went down from the shack, I couldn’t sleep.  I never closed my eyes.  But I wa’n’t lonesome nor afraid.  I was thinkin’ o’ what you said.  He was there.  Jesus Christ was there.  An’ I knew ’twas so because you said so.  Besides, I felt it.  An’ ‘long about three I got up an’ covered the coals an’ took baby an’ come down along home.  For, I says, if He was there with me in the shack, He’ll go with me when I go, an’ my place is to home.  An’ there was a light in the kitchen, an’ I looked in through the winder an’ Isr’el was there.  He was kneelin’ before a chair, an’ his head was on his hands an’ through the winder I heard him groan.  An’ I stepped in an’ he got up off his knees an’ stood lookin’ at me kinder wild, an’ he says:  ‘Where you been?’ An’ I says:  ’No matter where I been.  Wherever I been He’s come home with me.’  An’ he says, ’He?  Who is it now?’ An’ I felt as if I could laugh, it was so pleasant to me, an’ seemed to smooth everything out.  An’ I says, ’Jesus Christ.  He’s come home with me.’  An’ he looked at me kinder scairt, an’ says:  ’I should think you was out o’ your head.’  An’ I went round the room an’ kinder got it in order an’ brashed up the fire an’ he set an’ looked at me.  An’ I begun to sing.  I sung Coronation - it stayed in my mind from the meetin’ - I dunno when I’ve sung before - an’ he set an’ watched me.  An’ I got us an early breakfast an’ we eat, but he kep’ watchin’ me.  I’d ketch him doin’ it while he stirred his tea.  ’Twas as if he was afraid.  I wouldn’t have him feel that way.  You don’t s’pose he is afraid o’ me, do you?”

This she poured out in a haste unlike her usual halting utterance.  But there was a steadiness in it, a calm.  He shook his head.

“No,” he said.  “I wish he were afraid of you.”  He wanted to leave her the comfort of belief and at the same time waken her to the actual perils of her life.  “Tira,” he said, looking into her eyes and trying to impress her with the force of his will, “he isn’t right, you know, not right in his head, or he never would behave to you as he does.  Any man in his senses would know you were true to him.  He doesn’t, and that’s why he’s so dangerous.”

A convulsive movement passed over her face, slight as a twitching of muscles could well be.  The sweat broke out on her chin.

“No,” she said, “any man wouldn’t know.  Because it’s true.  That man that come into this house last night an’ set down side o’ me - an’ glad enough he was there happened to be that chair left, same as if I’d left it for him - he’s bad all through, an’ every man in this township knows it, an’ they know how I know it, an’ how I found it out.”  The drops on her forehead had wet the curling rings of her hair and she put up her hand and swept them impatiently away.  Her eyes, large in their agonized entreaty, were on Raven’s, and he suffered for her as it was when he had seen her at the moments of her flight into the woods.  And now he seemed to see, not her alone, but Nan, not a shred of human pathos that had been tossed from hand to hot hand, but something childlike and inviolate.  And that was how he let himself speak.

“But, dear child,” he said, “Tenney knows how faithful you are.  He knows if you hadn’t loved him you wouldn’t have married him.  And he knows if you love anybody, you’re true through everything.”

“That’s it,” she said loudly, in a tone that echoed strangely in the great kitchen.  “That’s it.”

He knew what she meant.  If she loved the man, she could convince him, mad as he was.  But she did not love him.  She was merely clinging to him with all the strength of her work-toughened hands.

“But talk to him,” he insisted.  “Show him how well you mean toward him.”

“I can’t,” she said.  “I never’ve talked to anybody, long as I lived.  I git” - she paused for a word and ended in a dash:  “I git all froze up.”

She sat staring at him, as if her mind were tied into knots, as if she could neither untie them, nor conceive of anybody’s doing it.  But he could not know just what sort of turmoil was in her nor how it was so strange to her that she felt no mental strength to meet it.  In the instinct to talk to him, that new impulse born out of the first human companionship she had ever had, she felt strange troubles within her mind, an anguish of desire, formless and untrained.  She was like a child who stretches out arms to something it dearly longs for and finds its fingers will not close on it.  She had never, before knowing him, felt the least hunger to express anything that did not lie within the small circle of her little vocabulary.  But her mind was waking, stretching itself toward another mind, and suffering from its own impotence.

“O God!” she said, in a low tone, and then clapped her hand over her mouth, because she had not meant to speak that name.

There came a knock at the door.  Instantly the look of life ebbed from her face.  It assumed at once its mask of stolid calm.  She got up and went to the door and Raven, waiting for her to come back, remembered absently he had heard the clang of bells.  Visualizing her face as she had talked to him, trying to understand her at every point, the more as she could not explain herself, he was suddenly and sharply recalled.  He heard her voice.

“No,” she cried, so distinctly that the sound came through the crack of the door she had left ajar.  “No, no, I tell you.  You never’ve stepped foot into this house by my will, an’, so long as I’m in it, you never shall.”

Raven rose and went to the door.  He had not stopped to think what he should find, but at least it was, from her tone, a menace of some sort.  There stood Eugene Martin, in his fur coat, his florid extravagance of scarf and pin, on his face the ironic smile adapted to his preconceived comedy with Tira.  Martin, hearing the step behind her, started, unprepared.  He had passed Tenney, slowly making his way homeward, and counted on a few minutes’ speech with her and a quick exit, for his butt, the fool of a husband, to see.  But as Raven appeared, the fellow’s face broke up in a flouting amusement.  Here was another, the satiric lips were ready to swear.  Deepest distrust of Tira shone forth in the half smile; a low community of mean understanding was in his following glance at Raven.  He burst into a loud laugh, took off his hat and made Tira an exaggerated bow.

“Don’t mention it,” he said.  “Didn’t know you had company.  Wouldn’t think o’ comin’ in.”

He turned away, his shoulders shaking with ostentatious mirth.  It was all in a minute, and Raven’s following act, quite unreasoned, also occupied a minute.  He put Tira aside, stepped out after Martin and walked behind him down the path.  When Martin reached the sleigh, Raven was at his side.  Martin had ceased shaking his shoulders in that fictitious mirth.  Now in that last moment, it seemed, he took cognizance of Raven, and turned, apprehension, in spite of him, leaping to his face.  Raven, still with no set purpose, grasped him by the collar with one hand and with the other reached for the whip in the sleigh.  It was over quickly.  Raven remembered afterward that the horse, startled by the swish of the blows, jumped aside and that he called out to him.  He did not propose depriving Martin of the means of exit.  The fellow did not meet judgment lying down.  He did a wild feat of struggling, but he was soft in every muscle, a mean antagonist.  The act over, Raven released him, with an impetus that sent him staggering, set the whip in the socket and turned back to the house.  At that moment he saw Tenney coming along the road, not with his usual hurried stride, but slowly, his head lifted, his eyes upon the figures at his gate.  Raven recoiled from the possibility of a three-cornered wrangle when Tenney also should reach the scene.  It was an impossible predicament.  Not for himself:  he was never troubled by any hampering sense of personal dignity, but for Tira, who stood in silence watching them.  She had advanced a few steps into the snowy path and waited, immovable, the light breeze lifting her rings of hair.  To Raven, in the one glance he gave her, she was like a Fate, choosing neither good nor ill, but watching the even course of time.  If Martin saw Tenney, he was not going to linger for any problematic issue.  He stepped into the sleigh and, without drawing the fur robe over his knees, took up the reins.  His face, turned upon Raven, was distorted with rage.

“That’s assault,” he called to him, “assault an’ battery.  I’ll have the law on you an’ she’s my witness.”

“Stop!” called Tira.  She came down the path with long strides, her garments blowing back.  At three paces from the sleigh she halted and called to him in a voice so clear and unrestrained that Raven thought Tenney, coming on with his jerky action, might also have heard it.

“You stir a step to git the law on him an’ I’ll tell what I know.  What did I find out about you?  The money stole out o’ the box after they had the raffle for the War, the deed under old lady Blaisdell’s feather bed, because it wa’n’t recorded an’ it left you with the right an’ title to that forty feet o’ land.  Five counts!” She held up her left hand and told off one finger after the other.  “I’ve got ’em all down in my mind, an’ there they’ve been ever since I left you.  What d’ I leave you for?  Not because you treated me like a dog, whenever the fit was on ye, but because you was meaner’n dirt.”

He sat there, the reins gathered in his hand, staring at her, his face stiffened in a reflex of the cold passion of hers.  Upon her last word, he called to the horse with an oath as if it had been the beast that offended him, turned the sleigh and drove off.  Tenney, breathless, was now on the scene.  His thin lips curled and drew back, the snarl of the angry feline.

“Two on ye,” he said to Raven.  “Come to blows over her, have ye?  An’ you’re on top.”

Raven turned to Tira.

“Go into the house,” he said.

Tenney laughed.  It was not the laugh of the man who had just left them.  There was no light mockery in it, but a low intensity of misery, the cynical recognition of a man whose house has been destroyed and who asks his inner self how he could have expected anything different.  But when he spoke it was jeeringly, to Tira.

“Go into the house,” he mocked.  “Didn’t ye hear him?  He tells ye to go into the house, into my house, so’s he can fight it out ag’in same’s he done with t’other one.  You better go.  He won’t git no odds from me.”

He set his dinner pail down beside him, and his hand moved a few inches along the helve of his axe.  And Raven, like Tira, was sorry for him.

“No,” said Tira, “I sha’n’t go into the house.  An’ this to-do ain’t so much about me as about you, Isr’el Tenney, because you’re makin’ a fool o’ yourself.  You’ll be town talk, an’ you deserve to be.  You’ve brought it on yourself.”

Raven, his eyes on the man’s face, saw it change slightly:  something tremulous had come into it, though it might have been only surprise.  The hand on the axe helve shook perceptibly.  Now it looked to Raven as if it might be his turn.

“I came up here this morning,” he said, “to see her.”  Curiously, at the moment of saying “your wife,” he balked at it.  He would not, even by the sanction of the word, seem to give her over to him.

“Yes,” said Tenney.  The lividness of anger tautened his face.  “You see me off to my work.  You knew you’d find her here.”

“Yes,” said Raven.  “I knew I should find her.  I had to see her alone, because I wanted to ask her to leave you, go away from here, and be safe.”

Tenney stared at him.  The brusque fact was too much for him.  Why should Raven have told it?

“You are known,” Raven continued steadily, “to abuse your wife.”

Tenney’s lips again curled back.

“I ain’t laid a finger on her,” he snarled.  “Anybody but a liar ’d tell you so.”

“She has told me so,” continued Raven.  “I came to warn her I should complain of you and have you bound over to keep the peace.  She said if I did that she would refuse to testify against you.  She said she would rather” - here a slight bitterness came into his voice and, for an instant, he had a foolish satisfaction in reminding Tira of her unfriendliness in blocking him - “she would rather have me considered out of my mind than let you get your just deserts.”

“Ah!” snarled Tenney.  “I wa’n’t born yesterday.”

This interchange had had on Tira all the effect Raven could have wished.  She started forward a step, with a murmured sound.  But Tenney was unmoved.

“Now you know,” said Raven, “you’re not going to tell me I’m a liar.  I draw the line at that.  You’ll have to drop your axe - that’s a cowardly streak in you, Tenney, a mighty mean streak, that axe business - and I’ll give you your punishment without waiting for judge or jury.”

Tenney looked down at the axe frowningly, and the hand holding it sank to his side.

“Besides saying she wouldn’t testify against you,” Raven continued, “she refused to leave you.  She is a foolish woman, but she’s like most of them.  They hang on to the beast that abuses ’em, God knows why.  But the rest of us won’t let you off so easy.  Don’t think it, for a minute.  The next time she’s seen wandering round the woods with her baby and you after her, yelling like a catamount, you’re going to be hauled up and, even if she won’t testify, there’s enough against you to make it go hard with you.”

Tenney ceased staring at the axe and looked up at Raven.  Was it hatred in the eyes?  The gleam in them flickered, in a curious way, cross currents of strange light.  He tried to speak, gulped, and moistened his dry lips.  Then he managed it: 

“What business is it o’ yourn?”

“It’s every man’s business,” said Raven.  “When you began running over the woods, yelling like a catamount” - he returned to this of set purpose, because it evidently bit - “I thought it was queer, that’s all.  Thought you were out of your head.  But it got to be too much of a good thing.  And it’s one thing to make yourself a laughing-stock.  It’s another to be indicted for murder.”

“I don’t,” said Tenney, “stan’ any man’s interferin’ with me.  I give ye fair warnin’ not to meddle nor make.”

“Then,” said Raven, “we’ve both got our warning.  I’ve had yours and you’ve had mine.  You’re a mighty mean man, Tenney.  A mean cuss, that’s what you are.”

Tenney, in the surprise and mortification of this, barked out at him: 

“Don’t ye call me a cuss.  I’m a professin’ Christian.”

“Stuff!” said Raven.  “That’s all talk.  I wonder a man of your sense shouldn’t see how ridiculous it is.  You’re not a Christian.  When you stand up in meeting and testify, you’re simply a hypocrite.  No, I don’t call you a Christian.  I call you a scamp, on the way to being locked up.”

Tenney’s mind leaped back a space.

“You’re tryin’ to throw me off the track,” he announced.  “Ye can’t do it.  When I come up the road you an’ Eugene Martin was out there an’ you knocked him down.  I see ye.  You horsewhipped him.  Now if it’s anybody’s business to horsewhip Eugene Martin, it’s mine.  What business is it o’ yourn horsewhippin’ a man that’s hangin’ round another man’s wife unless - - ”

“Hold on there,” said Raven.  “I gave him his medicine because he was too fresh.”  Here he allowed himself a salutary instant of swagger.  Tenney might as well think him a devil of a fellow, quick to act and hard to hold.  “It happens to be my way.  I don’t propose taking back talk from anybody of his sort - or yours.  He’s a mean cuss, too, Tenney, ready to think every man’s as bad as he is - a foul-mouthed fool.  And” - he hesitated here and spoke with an emphasis that did strike upon Tenney’s hostile attention - “he is the kind of cheap fellow that would like nothing better than to insult a woman.  That was what he sat down by your wife for, last night.  That was why I made an excuse to get him away from her.  I wouldn’t allow him within ten feet of a woman of my own family.  You ought to be mighty glad I looked out for yours.”

Tenney was in a coil of doubt.  Suddenly he glanced round at Tira, standing there in the path, her eyes upon one and the other as they spoke.  Raven would not willingly have looked at her.  He felt her presence in his inmost heart; he knew how cold she must be in the wintry air with nothing about her shoulders and the breeze strong enough to stir those rings of hair about her forehead.  But she must suffer it while he raked Tenney by the only language Tenney knew.

“But here be you,” cried Tenney, as if his mind, unsatisfied, went back to one flaw after another in Raven’s argument.  “You see me go by to my work, an’ you come up here to talk over my folks behind my back an’ tole ’em off to run away with you.”

“I have explained all that once,” said Raven.  “You’ll have to take it or leave it.”

At that instant Tira stepped forward.  She gave a little cry.

“You’ve hurt your foot!”

Raven’s glance followed hers to the ground and he saw a red stain creeping from Tenney’s boot into the snow.  Tenney also glanced at it indifferently.  It was true that, although the cold was growing anguish to a numbing wound, he was hardly aware of it as a pain that could be remedied.  This was only one misery the more.

“Course I’ve hurt my foot,” he said savagely.  “What d’ye s’pose I come home for, this time o’ day?”

“Why,” said Tira, in an innocent good faith, “I s’posed you come back to spy on me.”

That did take hold of him.  He looked at her in an almost childish reproach.  Now he put the foot to the ground - he had been, though unconsciously, easing it - but at the first step winced and his face whitened.

“God A’mighty!” Raven heard him mutter, and was glad.  He seemed more of a man invoking God in his pain than in waving deity like a portent before unbelievers.

Tira had gone to him.

“You put your hand on my shoulder,” she said, something so sweetly thrilling in her voice that Raven wondered how Tenney could hear it and not feel his heart dissolve into water.  For himself, he was relieved at the warming tone, but it mysteriously hurt him, it seemed so horrible that all the tenderness of which it was witness had to be dammed in her with no outlet save over the child who was “not right.”  Tenney paid no attention to her, and Raven took him by the arm.  The snow was reddening thinly and Raven could see the cut in the boot.

“Open the door,” he said to Tira.  “I’ll help him in.”

Curiously, though Tenney had forgotten the hurt except as a part of his mental pain, now that his mind was directed toward it he winced, and made much of getting to the door.  Yet it seemed to be in no sense to challenge sympathy.  He was simply sorry for himself, bewildered at his misfortune, and so intently was his mind set on it now that he did not seem annoyed by Raven’s supporting him.  Tira hurried on in advance, and when they entered she was putting wood into the stove and opening drafts, to start up the neglected fire.  Raven led him to the chair by the hearth, knelt, without paying any attention to his muttered remonstrance, and, with much difficulty of frequent easements, got off the boot and the soaked stocking.  It was an ugly cut.  Tenney, glancing down at it, groaned and looked away, and Tira brought a pillow and tucked it behind his head.  Raven, glancing up at him, saw he was white and sick and Tira said: 

“He never can stan’ the sight o’ blood.”

Evidently the irony of it did not strike her at all, but Raven wrinkled his brows over it.  He sent her here and there, for water to wash the wound and for clean cloth.  He rolled a bandage and put it on deftly while Tenney stared.

“Now,” said he, coming to his feet, “you’d better telephone the doctor.  This is all I know.”

Tira went to the telephone in the next room and Raven cleared away the confusion he had made and again Tenney watched him.  At intervals he looked down at his bandaged foot as if he pitied it.  Tira, having given her message, came back and reported that the doctor would be there shortly.

“Then,” said Raven, “I’ll be off.  Telephone if you need anything.  Perhaps I’d better come over anyway.  He’ll have to be got to bed.  I’ll call you up.”

He felt a sudden easement of the strain between himself and Tira.  Tenney himself, through his hurt, had cleared the way.  Their intercourse, void of secrecy, was suddenly commonplace; at the moment there was nothing in it to light a flash of feeling.  Tenney did not look at him.  Then Raven, in a sudden mounting of desire to show Tira how sorry he was for her, said to her impetuously: 

“I hate to leave you alone.”

And again she surprised him as she had the night before in implicit acceptance of her new faith, something as tangible as divine.  She spoke in a perfect simplicity.

“I ain’t alone,” she said.

Tenney had turned his head, to listen.

“We ain’t alone, Isr’el, be we?” she challenged breathlessly.

“I dunno what you’re talkin’ about,” said Tenney uneasily, and she laughed.

It was, Raven wonderingly thought, a light-hearted laugh, as if she had no longer anything to bear.

“Why,” said she, “same as I told you.  We ain’t alone a minute o’ the time, if we don’t feel to be.  He’s with us, the Lord Jesus Christ.”

The telephone bell rang and she went off to answer it.  Tenney, as if with a hopeful conviction that another man would understand, turned his eyes upon Raven.

“What’s anybody want to talk like that for?” he questioned irrepressibly.

“It’s the way you talk yourself,” said Raven.  “That’s precisely what you said last night.”

“It’s no kind of a way - - ” Tenney began, and then pulled himself up.  Raven believed that he meant it was one thing to invoke the Founder of his religion in a sacerdotal sense, but not for the comforting certainty of a real Presence.  “Seems if anybody’s crazed.  Seems if - - ” Here he broke off again, and Raven took satisfaction in the concluding phrase:  “It’s no way to talk when a man’s lamed himself so’s’t he can’t git round the room ‘thout bleedin’ to death.”

By this Raven understood the man was, in an hysterical way, afraid of Tira and her surprising invocation.  He judged things were looking rather better for her, and went off almost cheerfully, without waiting for her return.