'/«.' How ill?'

'Her heart, they tliink. There's a nxu'se on the airplane. Don't worr>' too much.' The young man was in duty bound to say this, but he didn't create a lot of reassurance.

Johnny whirled them into action, to call Dr. Keams, to make arrangements at a hospital. Johnny held a frightened girl on each arm as they waited the last tense two minutes at the barrier.

Emily came off the plane on a stretcher and they ran to her. The small face was gray. The girls murmuredl^and touched her v>iTh loving hands.

It was Johnny who said loudly, 'Nobody got married, Emily.' That was all the reference there was to Richardson Bartee before Emily vanished into the ambulance.

At the hospital they were djslayed by the need to answer questions for admission. At last, they started down a corridor. It was a small private hospital, Dr. Keams' favorite, all on one floor. They came upon the doctor around a corner.

'She ought to do, with a little sensible care,' he told them cheerfully. 'Now, don't excite her or upset her. Don't stay too long. Not now. Excuse me? Got a patient in the next wing. Cheer up, now.'

The girls stepped softly into Emily's room with Johnny behind them. Emily, on the bed, looked old. More murmurs of love given, received.

'Don't worry about anything,' Nan said uselessly. The whole room throbbed with unasked questions and unadmitted anxieties.

'Maybe she ought to be let alone,'' said Johnny loudly. ''That's a brute of a trip she's just made, remember?' He was going to bully the girls out of here. This was no good. ''You could come back tonight at visiting hours. Hm, Emily?' Emily's sad eyes looked up at him and he knew they flickered. 'Give me—until tomorrow ...' she said weakly. 'Of course, darling.' Dorothy kissed her hair. Nan picked up her hand. 'I wouldn't want to do anything— ever—to hurt you in any way,' Nan said, asking for absolution.

'Darling, I know that,' said Emily, her eyes aglow with love and a mysterious sorrow. So they left her.

Johnny took them home to the flat. Scarcely a word was said on the way. Once in the mirror he saw Nan's silent tears. He wanted to say, 'Don't blame yourself for Emily's heart!' but his tongue felt tied.

At the flat, Dorothy said there was nothing, really, that he could do and Nan said yearningly, 'Dick will be here. Dick can take us to the hospital tomorrow.'

So Johnny left them. He rode around aimlessly for a long time. Felt useless, worried. He decided, by some uneasiness in his bones, that he must stay in town overnight, so he found a phone to call liis mother.

'John? Oh, good! We were about to go to the Miller's for dinner and there was an urgent message. The Schmidt Memorial Hospital wants you to call them, right away.'

'Then I better do it,' said Johnny, so surprised and frightened that he hung up without telling her anything.

The hospital said that Miss Emily Padgett urgently requested Mr. John Sims to come see her this evening. Visiting hours from seven to eight. 'Tell her I'll be there.'

Johnny hung up, rubbed his face. Stood in the phone booth.

His mother and father would have gone out. Well, he'd tell them in the morning where Emily was and how. He would tell nobody anything tonight. He knew that when he, Johnny Sims, old friend and neighbor, got to the hospital at seven o'clock, he was going to be put right smack in the middle of whatever trouble there was going to be.

A little before seven, in Emily's flat, Nan flew to take the phone. 'Dick! Where are you, darling?'

'Just off the plane, love. Shall I come right up?'

'Oh, please! Oh, Dick, Aunt Emily is in the hospital.'

'Hospital! Wliere?'

'Right here! The Schmidt Memorial. She flew back. Oh, Dick, I didn't call you—but she was so upset . . .'

'Wait a minute. Your aunt is back! In town!'

'Yes. Yes, she is. I talked to her in Paris. When I told her about us, she said she'd fly home right away.'

'But why, dearest? You say she was upset?'

'Yes, she was. She said I wasn't to m-marry you. I must wait ... I don't know why. We can't talk to her now. It's her heart. We can't even see her again until tomorrow.'

'Is it serious?'

'The doctor doesn't think so. But . . .'

'Well, then . . .' he said soothingly. 'Nothing to worry about. I'll be there just as soon as I can.'

Nan put the phone down. 'You see!' she said to Dorothy. 'He doesn't know why she should be upset!'

Dorothy said, in a moment, 'Maybe we'll get it straightened out tomorrow.' .-^ --


Johnny Sims entered the hospital on the stroke of seven; nobody asked him his business. He turned right on an inner corridor and walked as far as he could passing several wings, until he came to the last wing of all. He turned left, and then, looking ahead of him, realized that a door at the far end of this last wing stood open. He could have come in that way, directly from the parking lot. Well, he hadn't. No matter.

Emily's room was the second from the end of the wing.

She was sitting a little higher; she looked a little better.

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