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Adrift in New York: Tom and Florence Braving the World, a novel by Horatio Alger

Chapter 36. Mrs. O'keefe In A New Role

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_ Chapter XXXVI. Mrs. O'Keefe In A New Role

No time was lost in seeing Bolton and arranging a plan of campaign.

Curtis Waring, nearing the accomplishment of his plans, was far from anticipating impending disaster.

His uncle's health had become so poor, and his strength had been so far undermined, that it was thought desirable to employ a sick nurse. An advertisement was inserted in a morning paper, which luckily attracted the attention of Bolton.

"You must go, Mrs. O'Keefe," he said to the apple-woman. "It is important that we have some one in the house--some friend of Florence and the boy--to watch what is going on."

"Bridget O'Keefe is no fool. Leave her to manage."

The result was that among a large number of applicants Mrs. O'Keefe was selected by Curtis as Mr. Linden's nurse, as she expressed herself willing to work for four dollars a week, while the lowest outside demand was seven.

We will now enter the house, in which the last scenes of our story are to take place.

Mr. Linden, weak and emaciated, was sitting in an easy-chair in his library.

"How do you feel this morning, uncle?" asked Curtis, entering the room.

"I am very weak, Curtis. I don't think I shall ever be any better."

"I have engaged a nurse, uncle, as you desired, and I expect her this morning."

"That is well, Curtis. I do not wish to confine you to my bedside."

"The nurse is below," said Jane, the servant, entering.

"Send her up."

Mrs. O'Keefe entered in the sober attire of a nurse. She dropped a curtsey.

"Are you the nurse I engaged?" said Curtis.

"Yes, sir."

"Your name, please."

"Mrs. Barnes, sir."

"Have you experience as a nurse?"

"Plenty, sir."

"Uncle, this is Mrs. Barnes, your new nurse. I hope you will find her satisfactory."

"She looks like a good woman," said Mr. Linden, feebly. "I think she will suit me."

"Indade, sir, I'll try."

"Uncle," said Curtis, "I have to go downtown. I have some business to attend to. I leave you in the care of Mrs. Barnes."

"Shure, I'll take care of him, sir."

"Is there anything I can do for you, Mr. Linden?" asked the new nurse, in a tone of sympathy.

"Can you minister to a mind diseased?"

"I'll take the best care of you, Mr. Linden, but it isn't as if you had a wife or daughter."

"Ah, that is a sore thought! I have no wife or daughter; but I have a niece."

"And where is she, sir?"

"I don't know. I drove her from me by my unkindness. I repent bitterly, but it's now too late."

"And why don't you send for her to come home?"

"I would gladly do so, but I don't know where she is. Curtis has tried to find her, but in vain. He says she is in Chicago."

"And what should take her to Chicago?"

"He says she is there as a governess in a family."

"By the brow of St. Patrick!" thought Mrs. O'Keefe, "if that Curtis isn't a natural-born liar. I'm sure she'd come back if you'd send for her, sir," said she, aloud.

"Do you think so?" asked Linden, eagerly.

"I'm sure of it."

"But I don't know where to send."

"I know of a party that would be sure to find her."

"Who is it?"

"It's a young man. They call him Dodger. If any one can find Miss Florence, he can."

"You know my niece's name?"

"I have heard it somewhere. From Mr. Waring, I think."

"And you think this young man would agree to go to Chicago and find her?"

"Yes, sir, I make bold to say he will."

"Tell him to go at once. He will need money. In yonder desk you will find a picture of my niece and a roll of bills. Give them to him and send him at once."

"Yes, sir, I will. But if you'll take my advice, you won't say anything to Mr. Curtis. He might think it foolish."

"True! If your friend succeeds, we'll give Curtis a surprise."

"And a mighty disagreeable one, I'll be bound," soliloquized Mrs. O'Keefe.

"I think, Mrs. Barnes, I will retire to my chamber, if you will assist me."

She assisted Mr. Linden to his room, and then returned to the library.

"Mrs. Barnes, there's a young man inquiring for you," said Jane, entering.

"Send him in, Jane."

The visitor was Dodger, neatly dressed.

"How are things going, Mrs. O'Keefe?" he asked.

"Splendid, Dodger. Here's some money for you."

"What for?"

"You're to go to Chicago and bring back Florence."

"But she isn't there."

"Nivir mind. You're to pretend to go."

"But that won't take money."

"Give it to Florence, then. It's hers by rights. Won't we give Curtis a surprise? Where's his wife?"

"I have found a comfortable boarding house for her. When had we better carry out this programme? She's very anxious to see her husband."

"The more fool she. Kape her at home and out of his sight, or there's no knowin' what he'll do. And, Dodger, dear, kape an eye on the apple-stand. I mistrust Mrs. Burke that's runnin' it."

"I will. Does the old gentleman seem to be very sick?"

"He's wake as a rat. Curtis would kill him soon if we didn't interfere. But we'll soon circumvent him, the snake in the grass! Miss Florence will soon come to her own, and Curtis Waring will be out in the cold."

"The most I have against him is that he tried to marry Florence when he had a wife already."

"He's as bad as they make 'em, Dodger. It won't be my fault if Mr. Linden's eyes are not opened to his wickedness." _

Read next: Chapter 37. The Diplomacy Of Mrs. O'keefe

Read previous: Chapter 35. The Darkest Day

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