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Hunger

By ELEANOR MERCEIN KELLY
Author of "Toya the Unlike," "Temperament," "The Privateer,” etc.

Illustrations by Alonzo Kimbal}

SHE

HE drew the crape over her face, in-law dozing on guard, the fancy had

staggering a little as she turned away come to her to take one last look at this from the grave to the carriage. A son- stranger who had been the father of her in-law took her by the elbow, exchanging children. She tiptoed down-stairs witha quick glance with the others.

out waking her daughters. “Father won't lie alone here long,” It was a long time since she had really murmured one of her daughters, with an looked at her husband. She felt a little hysterical sob.

apologetic now, more than a little nerShe was glad that the veil was heavy. vous, as if at any moment he might lift True, her face was quite sodden with those heavy lids with a testy, “Well, well, weeping, -she wept easily, - but she my dear, what are you staring at?" feared that it might not wear the proper But if the judge was aware of her expression for a woman just widowed scrutiny, he did not seem to resent it. after forty years of marriage. She was "Is this the man I married ?" she asked hungry. She could not help thinking of herself at last, wondering. things to eat. It was from sheer faintness In those chill, handsome features, althat she had staggered.

ready wearing the look of faintly yel"As soon as the children have gone, I lowed marble; the proud nose, indefinably shall have Susy broil me a chop-two coarsened; the bushy, gray eyebrows with chops," she thought. "I do hope they the irritable line between them not quite won't feel that they ought to stay long." erased; the close-shaven mouth, oddly

For three days she had eaten virtually pursed and sunken since the acquisition nothing. How could she eat, with the of false teeth, she found no trace of the judge lying there dead? Her daughters, knight of her dreams, the fairy prince taking it for granted that she would not who had once come riding into her girlcare to leave her room, had themselves hood. Bleak desolation came over her. brought trays to her, sitting beside her All done now, those dreams; the knight and urging her tenderly to make an effort. had ridden by. She did not like trays; the tea was usually For the first time her mourning seemed chilled, and the eggs were overdone. no mockery. She wore it not for the Moreover, she saw that they would have judge lying there in his coffin, but for the been surprised and a trifle shocked if she lover she had married and lost forty years had eaten. All her life she had been the

ago. victim of a fatal facility for doing the Just beyond the coffin, so thing expected of her.

there was barely room for her to pass beThe night before, while the judge still tween them, stood the closed piano. She lay in his half-lit drawing-room, with looked at it with sudden yearning. In flowers all about him and one of the sons- all the crises of her life she had hungered

near that

for music, even her own music, which was novels, silly love-stories; not the dry artinot very good. The piano was a thing of cles and essays to which the judge liked mystery to her, of beautiful promise. to listen while he dozed after dinner, Consolation, memory, forgetfulness, hope waking whenever her voice paused with -all of them lay there waiting, hidden testy, "Well, well, my dear, what 's the in the harmonies her fingers might evoke. matter now?" True, they often failed her, those stiffen- A little smile curved. her lips. What a ing, ill-taught fingers of hers. It required house-cleaning she would have! Not the imagination to transmute her patient ef- surreptitious, bit-at-a-time affair conceded

a forts into music. The judge had lacked to the judge's hatred of disturbance, but imagination. Of late years the thing that a perfect orgy of cleanliness. Everything he called her "mooning” had touched his out in the sun at once; empty, scrubbed nerves upon the raw. Only on the rare shelves smelling of new oil-cloth; fresh occasions when he was out of the house paint everywhere; fresh papers on the had she dared to grope in search of those walls; frivolous, light papers instead of locked harmonies.

the dreary grays and browns the judge "But surely it would not disturb him had pronounced practical for a soft-coal now,” she thought, and moved past the city. She need never, never be practical coffin.

any more. Then behind her the son-in-law snored. And those dear, noisy babies from next She stopped short, aghast at the narrow- door should come and play menagerie in ness of her escape. What would they all the garden whenever they liked. Nobody have thought, awakened at midnight to to disturb now. It was her house. The find their bereaved mother seated within girls would not want to live with her. a foot of her husband's coffin, playing They had homes of their own; besides, tunes! To the judge's children all music they had long ago outgrown the shabby was, or was not, “a tune."

At the pic- old street, with its trolley-cars and small ture of their dismay she laughed.

shops. Her house, and she alone in it! The son-in-law awoke. He led her "Except for poor Solomon," she reback to bed, pityingly, and gave her va- minded herself, with a pang of compunclerian to quiet her nerves, and she wept tion. herself to sleep.

Solomon was the judge's one weakness, But now, driving home from the fu

a morose, elderly canine who at will slept neral, her mind went again eagerly to the in the judge's chair, ate from his plate, piano.

took him out upon forced marches in puras they've all gone,” she suit of rabbits which did not exist. She thought, "I'll shut the doors and win- had little love for Solomon, but she redows, and I 'll play. I don't care what spected him. He had won the thing she the servants think; I 'm going to play." failed of- her husband's tenderness.

A hand-organ passed, grinding out a “I suppose the dog will miss Henry," gay little tune that went dancing merrily she thought. “I'll have to give him through her head. Pleasant thoughts plenty of exercise."

. came with it which would not be denied, Except for the duty of exercising Soloashamed as she was of them.

mon, however, life loomed before her free She might eat in the garden sometimes of fetters, one long, glorious holiday-or now, like a picnic. The judge had not not long, perhaps, for she was not many approved of eating out of doors.

years from seventy. But it was freedom "It is not the place to eat," he had pro- - freedom at last, after forty years of livnounced, with finality.

ing the life of others, subservient to the She might lie down and read when she dominant personalities of the judge and ought to be doing all sorts of things- the judge's children. read anything that pleased her, poetry, The carriage stopped. She turned to

“As soon

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** There, queerly out of place in its new surroundings, stood the furniture she had left

not an hour ago in the room that had been hers and the judge's"

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and wept.

her house as to an old friend, eager

for “But, Carrie, I really must go home. the first glimpse of its weather-worn brick There, there are so many things to be behind the elms. The servants would be done." at the door to greet her, respectfully tear- "What things, dear? I believe I 've ful, perhaps, but glad in their secret attended to everything." hearts that the reign of tyranny was over. “Well, the servantsShe must be very good to these faithful "I've found them both good homes servants, who had seen so much that she already. You 're not to worry." kept loyally hidden from her daughters. "But-but Solomon!"

urged the But the carriage had stopped before the widow, desperately. “He 'll have to be house recently built by the most capable exercised -" of her daughters, Caroline. Possibly an Caroline opened a door and called : architect and workmen, and even her hus- Here, Solly! Here, Solly! You see, band, may have been of some assistance I had him brought over with the other in the matter, but the house was cus- things while we were gone.” tomarily referred to as having been built The old dog entered, and sniffed disby Caroline.

trustfully at his mistress's new crape. It “Welcome home, Mother!" said Caro- was evidently not the smell for which his line, with a little break in her voice. soul yearned. He went to the front door

It was quite a dramatic moment. and whined.

Dazed, the widow allowed herself to be “He wants f-father!” said Caroline, led up the steps and into the handsome hall, where her eyes fell upon a new “He wants to go home,” thought the piano, quite the latest thing in self-play- widow, dully; but she did not say so. ing instruments, whose harmonies were In fact, she did not say anything. She by no means locked; were, in fact, at the knew that she ought to speak, knew that command of any person with sufficiently if she did not take a firm stand now, she muscular legs.

would never again be able to hold her "We got it for you, Mother," mur- own with this child of hers who was so mured somebody.

appallingly like the judge. But she was She found her voice.

not a strong woman.

She had never "Wh-why are we stopping here?" formed the habit of holding her own and

Caroline put protective arms around taking firm stands. her.

They led her up-stairs to the room they. "Why, you poor little mumsey, you called hers, and paused at the door to did n't think we were going to let you go enjoy her surprise. It was indeed a surback to that gloomy old house all by prise. There, queerly out of place in its yourself? Of course not.

Father ar

new surroundings, stood the furniture she ranged it all before he went. Dear fa- had left not an hour ago in the room that ther, always taking care of you, even had been hers and the judge's: the blacknow!" She put a handkerchief to her walnut bureau she had always disliked, eyes.

“He made sister and me promise the monumental chest of drawers, even that we 'd never leave you alone, not for the catafalque of a bed in which, very a single day. Whenever you get tired of suitably, the judge had been born and had us here, you are to go straight to sister's died. It had been one of her secret dreams house. That will be nice, won't it?" .

to exchange this solemn suite of furniture She spoke with the horrid, determined for a little white set she had scen in one cheerfulness employed by dentists and of the shops, painted in rosebuds. There photographers in dealing with the un- was also the judge's own chair, its leather reconciled young.

somewhat worn and hairy because of the A strange numbness settled upon the slumbers of Solomon. She sat down in it widow. She essayed one faint protest.

rather suddenly.

1

seem

“I wanted you to feel at home at once,” last days to be spent in peace and combeamed the capable Caroline through fort.” tears. "It was quite a job getting it all Over the house that had been the moved so quickly without letting you judge's woodbine clambered thickly, and know; but I knew how it would please sparrows made the early morning vocal you, dear. Don't you think you might with their chatter. Of late years the manage to eat a little something now if judge had grown a trifle deaf, so that the I bring you a tray myself? Do try— just sparrows were spared to increase and for my sake!"

multiply and vociferate, after the vulgar She promised that she would try. fashion of the lower classes. Unfortu

Presently the old dog nosed his way to nately, his human neighbors, also vulgar her, and sat staring up at her with a com- in these respects, had voices even more manding eye. She gently put a hand on penetrating; and life had been one perhis head.

petual warfare between the judge and the "What are we going to do, Solomon ? neighborhood young to maintain the state What are we going to do?she whis- which he called "privacy" and his wife pered.

called “loneliness." He removed his head with dignity. It But there were no longer any drawwas not she whom he sought, but the backs for the neighborhood young about chair she occupied, the judge's chair; in the judge's garden: no gardener with fact, his chair.

mistaken ideas of order; no fierce old She yielded it to him.

voice threatening to sick the dog on them; The tray came, personally conducted only a little lady in black who began to by Caroline.

There was

tea,
a trifle

part of the landscape, and a dog chilled, and a very solid egg. There was whose attention was not to be distracted also a rose laid across the napkin.

from rabbits no longer imaginary. Taller Alas! for the two broiled chops of her and thicker grew the weeds. The place dreams! But she did not miss them. became a jungle, inhabited, doubtless, by

other wild animals than rabbits; tigers, IN Caroline's well-ordered household possibly elephants. One sometimes heard there were no children, nor in her neigh- them roaring. There were also bumbleborhood. A stately calm prevailed. No bees. trolley-cars ventured near that sacred The hours passed so quickly there, so precinct; the widow often lay awake at drowsily, what with the voices of birds night missing the familiar whir and and children and the drone of the passing clangor of them. Only limousines slid trolley-cars, that the little lady in black elegantly by; or if an automobile of the had sometimes almost to run the long lower order chanced to intrude, it had at blocks back to Caroline's house to be in least the good taste never to honk. The time for luncheon, the old dog puffing anjudge himself could not have been quieter grily behind her. Caroline shared her in his new surroundings than the judge's father's dislike for tardiness at meals. widow.

Once she asked curiously: "Such a wonderfully restful atmo- "Where do you spend your mornings, sphere for your poor mother!" said Caro- Mother? The servants tell me you are line's friends to her. “But what a re- up and off before the rest of us are stirsponsibility, my dear! It seems a little ring.”

"I take Solomon walking," said her "Hard me—my

own mother?”

mother. Caroline murmured in gentle reproof. “For hours at a time, at your age?” "Naturally somebody must look after Caroline eyed her solicitously. “No wonher; somebody always has. One is glad der you 're getting so thin! Remember, to make a few sacrifices. I only want her you are not very strong, dear. Hereafter

hard on you.

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