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FLORA (shuddering): Nothing.
MAGNUS: You stand accused of theft, fraud, immorality, and irreligion. Come now, what have you to say?
FLORA (after a pause): Nothing, only that it's true. Aunt Sarah, Nestor, nobody, did nothing-only me. Your money for John Bowles came, only I tore it up so I could make an excuse for opening the house this way. When Aunt Sarah wrote the letter telling how we took roomers, she gave it to me to mail it, and I tore it up. I did everything. That's all!
MAGNUS: Confession is the van-guard of repentance; repentance of conversion. If it were only given us to see the steps that brought so young a heart so low! Who were your parents? Who your companions? (He blows his nose) We are sending you to prison, my child, not vengefully. We trust that in silence and solitude you will grow to see something of the fair harmony your young life has already set a-jangling. The voice of conscience speaks with greater power than ours can. (Sarah Budie bursts into tears.)
SARAH (accusingly): What can I tell your father, you wicked girl? (Flora's hand rises and falls. Sarah's hysterics subside and Magnus continues:)
MAGNUS: Do not forget that there is still a judgment seat to face beyond this, wiser than man's. Yes, I own it. It may even be that my verdicts will be reversed. Some of them, I say. At midnight the cry goeth forth, and we shall be snatched up. You know the text, Dexter?
DEXTER: Yes, sir.
MAGNUS: Do you wish to say anything more?
FLORA: No,-only, may I get something? From the drawer of that table?
MAGNUS (rising): Ah. (Flora draws out her ceremonial trinkets. She holds them a moment hesitatingly. Her manner is dreamy and elated.)
FLORA (murmuring): I must go in the back drawing-room a moment. Only a moment. (She goes.)
MAGNUS (in a low voice): The guards are still about the house, Dexter?
DEXTER: Yes, sir.
MAGNUS: Poor girl, she thinks she can escape there! Miss Budie, I'll have to ask you to follow her in a moment.
SARAH (breaking down again): Oh, sir, she's my own niece. She wasn't always bad, believe me, sir.
MAGNUS (discreetly): Perhaps you'd better, Miss Flecker—
in a moment.
MAGNUS: I am greatly indebted to you, Miss Flecker. I shall of course reimburse you for your expenses here, but I wish to make a gift to you as well. You must allow me.
MISS FLECKER: I did not look for this, Mr. Magnus. I felt it was no more than justice to warn you.
MAGNUS: You have acted well in every way. May I present my case to you frankly? I expect to leave shortly on another long journey. Should you care to assume control of this house during my absence, I should be glad to,-nay, I should consider it a favor.
MISS FLECKER: No, I thank you, Mr. Magnus. It would be impossible. It is very kind.
MAGNUS: As you wish.
MISS FLECKER: May I say good night? The evening has been most distressing.
MAGNUS (bowing): Good night, good night.
(As she reaches the stairs, a pistol-shot is heard from the back drawing-room, and Flora's voice, longingly: "Carlo-Carlo! Carlo-Carlo!" Silence, broken by a gentle rustling fall.)
SARAH: She's shot herself, sir!
NESTOR (pulling back the curtains): She's got hold of a pistol, sir.
MISS FLECKER (rushing back): I knew it! I knew that would happen!
SARAH: What can I tell her father? What can I tell him now?
MAGNUS (sharply): Uncover your head, Mr. Gosche. I am surprised at you, sir.-Indeed, this is strange. Self-murder is added to her offenses. Ah, what a burden before the judgmentseat! Mr. Gosche, I shall have to ask you to leave the room; there is nothing to smile at.
GOSCHE: I beg your pardon, sir, I wasn't smiling.
MAGNUS: Mr. Dexter, he has contradicted me!
SARAH (kneeling and rocking herself): Oh, sir, what'll her father think?
NESTOR: If I find that Hammersley I'll shoot him!
MISS FLECKER: What are these cards and pieces of glass she's put in a circle around her. Ah, her mind wasn't firm. I knew it.
MAGNUS: That will be all, Dexter. I will see the Head about this to-morrow. You might stop in at Keeter's parlors, and send Mr. Keeter over here, as you go by. The night-bell is at the left, if I remember. Thank you!
DEXTER (bowing himself out with his men): Yes, sir. Good night!
MAGNUS (reflectively, looking at Flora): Very strange, indeed. She seems to have been kneeling, poor girl.-Ah, well! So pleasure will be paid!
Copyright 1919 by Thornton Niven Wilder.
"Take care yuh don't fall," warned the scrub-woman, running her cloth along the polished edge of the DEATH ON A table. "They have fallen from windows, yuh
"I will not fall because I am not ready yet," answered the little Frenchman, disclosing two rows of perfect white teeth. But the scrub-woman caught no significance in the remark, for she was rubbing vigorously without looking up. Across the small restaurant a black chef was humming softly to himself. The smooth counter glistened in front of him. He was arranging dishes on a flat tin tray.
"The sun, it is so bright," exclaimed the Frenchman to no one in particular. And across the room the black chef grinned vaguely. He was a dreamer and the words had suggested something to him. He was a Hindu, which was a remarkable thing in his profession. But he was very far from home, and outside the sun was shining over New York City. And he dreamed upright with his hands unconsciously arranging the tray.
The Frenchman moved out further on the window-sill. A light wind brushed the hair back from his forehead, and moving past him, stirred the heavy curtain at his side. He peered out and down. He was five floors up, and below him moved an irregular stream of life. The morning sun struck the pavement in slanting rays. A dazzling reflection zigzagged from the glass show-window of a big store across the street, and when high vehicles moved by their shadows were outlined on the soiled awning of the building next to it. The sun glistened on the heavy trucks, on the piled-up heaps of vegetables which resembled splashes of green putty in the fresh light. Children of all sorts played about the gutters, and the sun glared pitilessly upon them. But they didn't care, for they were laughing and shrieking with merriment as they chased each other in dangerous proximity to the moving traffic.
Along the entire length of the street shops exhibited their wares, mostly vegetables or fruit. Pedestrians hesitated occasionally to stare at some display in contemplative silence, then either to enter the store, or go shambling on their way. Horses whinnied at intervals, men swore good-naturedly, horns blew. There was an unceasing racket. But above it all, above the house-tops which stood out clear in the brilliant light, rose a great bourdon murmur like the sound of distant surf. The city was alive, was working, and was groaning drowzily at its task.
"In five minutes," said the little Frenchman, "I shall die." He stretched out his hand and stroked the soft back of a gray cat lying with eyes closed upon the table.
"Hey?" grunted the scrub-woman, moving her cloth to one of the chairs. She glanced up at him curiously, at this funny little waiter whose job of cleaning off the table she had taken because she was kind-hearted, because he was so lazy, and because she didn't care anyhow. "Hey?" she repeated.
But the Frenchman didn't answer. He was looking at something across the street. The scrub-woman dropped the cloth and took up her mop. "Raise your feet now,' she ordered. "I've got to get this here work of mine done."
Without looking at her the Frenchman did as he was told, curled his feet carefully up on the sill. Consistently he peered out and down. Once he said aloud, "I wonder what keeps him?" Across the room the Hindu began another song. None noticed his humming.
"It's so fine out to-day," said the scrub-woman, "it's a wonder yuh wouldn't be wantin' to leave this place."
"Non," replied the Frenchman vaguely, "non, I don't want to leave. But I'm going to shortly. ." He smiled thoughtfully. "It's early yet."
The gray cat stirred in her sleep. The soft stroking she had received doubtless was the cause of pleasant dreams. Had she been human she might have sighed.
"I am going to die, my friend," murmured the Frenchman in a low voice.
"So are we all, which isn't strange," returned the scrub-woman. "Only, why should yuh be wantin' to talk about it?"