Nell of Shorne Mills (Chapter 4, page 2 of 10)

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Chapter 4

"Thanks," said Mr. Vernon.

Then, after a pause, he added: "I must seem an ill-conditioned beast, I'm afraid, doctor; but the fact
is--well, I have been worried lately, and this ridiculous accident
hasn't tended to soothe me."

The doctor nodded.

"Life's too short for worry," he said, with the wisdom of age.

"No, you're right; nothing matters!" assented Mr. Vernon. "Well, I'm
glad I can get up to-morrow. I'll clear out of here as soon as

"I shouldn't hurry," remarked Doctor Spence. "They're glad enough to
have you."

Vernon nodded impatiently.

"So they say--the boy's been in here this morning--but that's nonsense,
of course."

On his way down the steep village street the doctor met Nell coming up,
with her quick, bright step, and he stopped the gray cob to speak to

"Well, Miss Nell," he said, with a smile twinkling in his keen eyes as
they scanned the beautiful face with the dark tendrils of hair blown
across her brow, beneath her old sailor hat, the clear gray eyes shining
like crystal, the red lips parted slightly with the climb. "Just left
your interesting patient. He'll come down to-morrow. Don't let him fag
himself; and, see here, Nell, try and amuse him."

The gray eyes opened still wider, then grew thoughtful and doubtful, and
the doctor laughed.

"Rather difficult, eh?" he said, reading her thoughts. "Well, I should
say it was somewhat of a large order. But you can play draughts or
cat's-cradle with him, or read, or play the piano. That's the kind of
thing he wants. There's something on his mind, and that's worse than
having a splint on his arm, believe me, Nell."

Nell nodded.

"I thought--that is, I fancied--he looked as if he were in trouble," she
said musingly. "Poor man!"

"Oh, I don't know that he wants your pity," remarked the doctor dryly.
"As a rule, when a man's got something on his mind, he has put it there

"That does not make it any the better to have," said Nell absently.

"True, Queen Solomon!" he returned banteringly. "There's not much on
your mind, I should imagine?"

Nell laughed, and her frank eyes laughed, too, as she met the quizzical,
admiring gaze of the sharp old eyes.

"What should there be, Doctor Spence?" she responded.

"What, indeed?" he said. "May it be many a day before the black ox
treads on your foot, my dear!"

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