Lo, Michael (Chapter 9, page 1 of 11)

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Chapter 9

Michael awoke in the hospital with a bandage around his head and a stinging pain in his shoulder whenever he tried to move.

Back in his inner consciousness there sounded the last words he heard before he fell, but he could not connect them with anything at first: "Hit him again, Sam!"

Those were the words. What did they mean? Had he heard them or merely dreamed them? And where was he?

A glance about the long room with its rows of white beds each with an occupant answered his question. He closed his eyes again to be away from all those other eyes and think.

Sam! He had been looking for Sam. Had Sam then come at last? Had Sam hit him? Had Sam recognized him? Or was it another Sam?

But there was something queer the matter with his head, and he could not think. He put up his right arm to feel the bandage and the pain in his shoulder stung again. Somehow to his feverish fancy it seemed the sting of Mrs. Endicott's words to him. He dropped his hand feebly and the nurse gave him something in a spoon. Then half dreaming he fell asleep, with a vision of Starr's face as he had seen her last.

Three weeks he lay upon that narrow white bed, and learned to face the battalion of eyes from the other narrow beds around him; learned to distinguish the quiet sounds of the marble lined room from the rumble of the unknown city without; and when the nimble was the loudest his heart ached with the thought of the alley and all the horrible sights and sounds that seemed written in letters of fire across his spirit.

He learned to look upon the quiet monotonous world of ministrations as a haven from the world outside into which he must presently go; and in his weakened condition he shrank from the new life. It seemed to be so filled with disappointments and burdens of sorrow.

But one night a man in his ward died and was carried, silent and covered from the room. Some of his last moaning utterances had reached the ears of his fellow sufferers with a swift vision of his life and his home, and his mortal agony for the past, now that he was leaving it all.

That night Michael could not sleep, for the court and the alley, and the whole of sunken humanity were pressing upon his heart. It seemed to be his burden that he must give up all his life's hopes to bear. And there he had it out with himself and accepted whatever should come to be his duty.

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