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When a Man Marries

Breaking Out In A New Place
Hunger roused everybody early the next morning, Friday. Leila Mercer had discovered a
box of bonbons that she had forgotten, and we divided them around. Aunt Selina asked
for the candied fruit and got it--quite a third of the box. We gathered in the lower hall and
on the stairs and nibbled nauseating sweets while Mr. Harbison examined the telephone.
He did not glance in my direction. Betty and Dal were helping him, and he seemed very
cheerful. Max sat with me on the stairs. Mr. Harbison had just unscrewed the telephone
box from the wall and was squinting into it, when Bella came downstairs. It was her first
appearance, but as she was always late, nobody noticed. When she stopped, just above us
on the stairs, however, we looked up, and she was holding to the rail and trembling
perceptibly.
"Mr. Harbison, will you--can you come upstairs?" she asked. Her voice was strained,
almost reedy, and her lips were white.
Mr. Harbison stared up at her, with the telephone box in his hands.
"Why--er--certainly," he said, "but, unless it's very important, I'd like to fix this talking
machine. We want to make a food record."
"I'd like to break a food record," Max put in, but Bella created a diversion by sitting down
suddenly on the stair just above us, and burying her face in her handkerchief.
"Jim is sick," she said, with a sob. "He--he doesn't want anything to eat, and his head
aches. He--said for me--to go away and let him die!"
Dal dropped the hammer immediately, and Lollie Mercer sat petrified, with a bonbon
halfway to her mouth. For, of course, it was unexpected, finding sentiment of any kind in
Bella, and none of them knew about the scene in the den in the small hours of the
morning.
"Sick!" Aunt Selina said, from a hall chair. "Sick! Where?"
"All over," Bella quavered. "His poor head is hot, and he's thirsty, but he doesn't want
anything but water."
"Great Scott!" Dal said suddenly. "Suppose he should--Bella, are you telling us ALL his
symptoms?"
Bella put down her handkerchief and got up. From her position on the stairs she looked
down on us with something of her old haughty manner.
"If he is ill, you may blame yourselves, all of you," she said cruelly. "You taunted him
with being--fat, and laughed at him, until he stopped eating the things he should eat. And
he has been exercising--on the roof, until he has worn himself out. And now--he is ill.
He--he has a rash."
 
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