Read ROBERT CHALMERS : CHAPTER X - ESTHER AS A LIBERAL PATRON of David Lockwin - The People's Idol, free online book, by John McGovern, on

Esther Lockwin has been confined to her room for a month by Dr. Tarpion’s orders. The servants say she will not enter a carriage again.

David Lockwin has hired an extra clerk, and is daily under a surgeon’s hands. After six months of suffering he is promised a removal of the red fimbrications; his nose shall be re-erected; his throat shall be reasonably cleared.

He lies on his cot, and Corkey is a frequent visitor.

“You wa’n’t no prize beauty, that’s a fact,” says the candid Corkey. “I think you’re wise, but I’d never a did it. You’ve got as much grit as a tattooed man. Them fellers, the doctors, picks you with electric needles, don’t they? Yes, I thought so. Well, I suppose that’s nothing side of setting up your nose. But she sets up there like a hired man you’ve got a good nob now! Yes, I’m deep in politics again. I’m a fool I know it, but I don’t spend more’n five hundred cases, and I go to the legislature sure. If I get there some of these corporations that knocked me out afore will squeal you hear me! No, you don’t spend no money on me. I wish you could git out and hustle, though. But you ain’t no hustler, nohow. Want any drug laws passed?”

Corkey must do the greater part of the talking. He sits beside the bed carrying an atmosphere of sympathy that the feverish lover needs. Gradually the thoughts of the sympathizer fix on the glass graduate. It tickles his membranes. His head quakes, his tongue whirs, he jars the great bottles outside with his sneeze.

The tears start from his eyes, his throat rebels at its misusage, his big red handkerchief comes out. It makes a sharp contrast with his jet black hair and mustache.

“Old man,” he said, “do you suppose your bone-sawers could cut that out of me? It makes me forgit things sometimes. Oh, yes, yes! That puts me in mind! I came to tell you this morning that Mrs. Lockwin was coming over to thank you!”

“It’s time,” whispers the lover, bravely.

“I told her to come on. She needn’t be afraid of you. I tell you she was mighty glad when I tell her you was a friend of mine.”

There is a click at the door-latch. The patient starts. Corkey looks out into the store.

“Here she is!” whispers Corkey, smoothing the coverlet. “How d’ye do, Mrs. Lockwin? Just step in here. Mr. Chalmers is not able to sit up.”

“I heard he was hurt,” says Esther. “Poor man! I owe him so much!”

It is perhaps well that David Lockwin has had no warning of this supreme event. It seems to him like the last day. It is the Second Coming. A hundred little wounds set up their stings, for which the husband is ever thankful. He can hear her out there in the store. He can feel her presence. She appears at his door! She stands at the foot of his couch! She, the ineffable!

“Oh!” she exclaims, not expecting to see a man so badly wounded, so highly bandaged.

“Nothing at all serious, Mrs. Lockwin,” explains Corkey.

“Oh, I am so very sorry,” says the lady. “Mr. Chalmers, you find me unable to express my feelings. I cannot tell you how many things I should like to explain, and how seriously I am embarrassed by the evils I have brought on you. I dare say only that I am a person of large means, and am sensible that I cannot repay you. I owe my life to your noble act. If I can ever be of service to you, please to command me. I shall certainly testify my regard for you in some proper way, but it afflicts me to feel that you are so much worse hurt than I was by the runaway. I lost a noble husband. If he had been alive you would not have been left unthanked and unserved for so long a time.”

It distresses Corkey.

“That’s what he was a white man!”

David Lockwin is dumb. But he thinks he is saying: “I am David Lockwin! I am David Lockwin!”

“It is a sweet remembrance, now.” Her voice grows clearer. “They tell me I did wrong to mourn so bitterly. I suppose I did. Mr. Chalmers, I should like to entertain you on your recovery. How singular! This is our old family drug store! Didn’t Dr. Floddin keep here? Poor Dr. Floddin! Oh! David! David! Good-bye, Mr. Chalmers.”

“He’s not badly hurt at all,” says Corkey, “you mustn’t worry over that.”

“I’m so glad, Mr. Corkey.”

It is the autumn of a great misery. The woman is righting herself. She is trying to listen to the advice of society. Lockwin, by dying, committed a crime against the first circles. “A failure to live is a gigantic failure,” says Mrs. Grundy.

David Lockwin listens to every movement. The widow tarries.

“Send me a dozen large bottles of that extract,” she says, choosing a variety of odors. She orders a munificent bill of fancy goods. The clerk moves with astonishing celerity.

The patient suppresses his groans.

“Oh! Chalmers is well off,” says Corkey.

“I’m glad,” says Esther, “poor man! Good-bye, Mr. Corkey. You are neglecting me lately. I hope you will be elected. I wish I could vote. Oh, yes, I guess the clerk may give me a stock of white notepaper. Do you believe it, Mr. Corkey, I haven’t a scrap about the house that isn’t mourning paper! Yes, that will do. Send plenty. Good-bye. Come over and tell me about politics. Tell me something that will make life seem pleasant. I’m tired of my troubles. I think I’m forgetting David. Good-bye.”