Arms and the Woman (Chapter 3, page 1 of 11)


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Chapter 3

Hillars hadn't been down to the office in two days, so the assistant
said.

"Is he ill?" I asked, as I carried a chair to the window.

"Ill?" The young man coughed affectedly.

"Do you believe it possible for him to come in this afternoon?"

"It is quite possible. One does not use the word impossible in regard
to Hillars. It is possible that he may be in St. Petersburg by this
time, for all I know. You see," with an explanatory wave of the hand,
"he's very uncertain in his movements. For the last six months he has
been playing all over the table, to use the parlance of the roulette
player. I have had to do most of the work, and take care of him into
the bargain. If I may take you into my confidence----," with some
hesitancy.

"Certainly," said I. "I want you to tell me all about him. He was my
roommate at college. Perhaps I can straighten him up."

"The truth is, the trouble began last September. He came back from the
Continent, where he had been on an errand, a changed man. Hillars
always drank, but never to an alarming extent. On his return, however,
he was in a bad shape. It was nearly November before I got him sobered
up; and then he went under on an average of three times a week. I
asked him bluntly what he meant by it, and he frankly replied that if
he wanted to drink himself to death, that was his business. When he
isn't half-seas over he is gloomy and morose. From the first I knew
that something had gone wrong on the mainland; but I couldn't trap him
for a farthing. No man at his age drinks himself to death without
cause; I told him so, but he only laughed at me. I'd give a good deal
to know what the truth is; not from curiosity, mind you, but to find
the disease in order to apply a remedy. Dan's father died of drink."

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