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fully and competently performed; little pleasant, ruddy color had faded, her presents from the children she had lips were compressed; there was a sort of loved. And beside these were all sorts classic and repressed fury about her. of trifles carelessly thrown away as of Presently, after a decent interval, she no value by those for whom she had rose, excused herself, and vanished into worked, which were somehow decorative the kitchen, whence came sounds of in her eyes, paper fans, dinner favors, dishes gently handled, the clinking of painted candy-boxes. Mollie liked her knives and forks, and her firm footsteps home “cozy," and there were few bare passing to and fro. spaces on the walls or on the floors.
“The ice-cream!” murmured young They reviewed every part of her do- Robert. main, and then went back into the par- "And we 'll see the tea-set!” his sister lor for the ceremonious chat required. added. Then Mollie drew aside the It was then for the first time that Keat- curtains that shut off the dining-room, ing and his wife noticed something very showing a table lavishly set with cakes, wrong in Mollie's look, an expression al- jellies, a tall cylinder of ice-cream, and together new to that composed and smoking cups of cocoa. They all walked
in soberly and sat down in their appointed places.
"But, Mollie!" cried little Lucy.
“Yes, my pet?” asked Mollie.
Something very wrong here! There they were eating from earthenware plates, cups and saucers that did n't match.
“Is n't—was n't- ventured Mrs. Keating.
“Steve has n't come home with it yet," said Mollie.
Two spots of bright color came out over her high cheek-bones; she could not maintain her lifelong reserve.
“When I saw he was n't going to work this morning,” she went on, “I said
to myself I'd send him to “He . ... was sitting meekly enough in Mollie's big rocking-chair"
fetch the tea-set. He 'd not been drinking at all. I
thought I'd be safe trusting pleasant face-the look unmistakable of him. Coupons is not like money, either. one suffering from an intolerable out- I sent him at nine o'clock. I thought it rage. She sat down and talked to them, would give me a grand chance to get the first time she had ever sat in their plenty of water heated, the way I could presence with idle hands, but she not at wash it as soon as he 'd bring it." all embarrassed, because the situation She had an air of trying to force back was altogether correct. She was in her a torrent of words, almost a physical own home and mistress of it and en- struggle. A few more escaped her. titled to her due meed of consideration. “I'd the shelves all scrubbed the No; it was not embarrassment or con- night before,” she said, “and clean scalstraint that disturbed her; it was some loped paper with a fancy green edge laid emotion profound and novel. Her along them, all ready.”
"And you've heard nothing of him “Well, boss, I went, like the old woman since nine o'clock this morning?" Mrs. told me, and got the tea-set.” Keating asked.
There was a faint sound from Mollie, “No, ma'am; I have not."
but no one turned toward her. Mr. Keating suggested that perhaps “Just like in the book it was. Mighty he had met with an accident.
fine and pretty. Too fine and pretty for "Yes, sir, I dare say," she answered us, I thought, and I said so to a young grimly.
fella I seen outside. "Take this instead,' They resumed eating. But her deli- says he, 'I 'll give it ye for yer chiny.' cacies had lost their flavor, had turned He was standing outside." Outside what, pathetically bitter on their cracked Steve did not say. “'Step in,' he says, plates. Even the children were im- ‘and I 'll show ye my little invention,' pressed and very grave; they knew as says he; “T will save yer life,' says he, well as any one that this feast without 'and is n't that worth more than cups the tea-set was a wedding without a and dishes and plates and jugs and the bride, a travesty, a mockery.
like?' So I steps in, and he shows me Dusk came, and Mollie lighted a won- how does it work. So after I 'd sat derful lamp made of two round balls of with him a bit, to be sociable-like, I blue china, one on top of the other, with came home.” a design of pink roses painted over it. There was a long silence. They had gone back into the parlor again, "Come on!" Keating said suddenly to and it was evident to all of them that his family. "Time to go.' the occasion was over, that it was time But Steve would n't hear of that; he to go home. Yet they lingered; Mrs. insisted, with a pompous, half-defiant Keating could n't make a move. Sud- insistence, that they should wait and denly and loudly the front door-bell watch him demonstrate the little inrang; Mollie went to answer it, and re- vention. And for Mollie's sake, rather turned, followed by Steve.
than that she should see Steve knocked Perhaps some obscure instinct of out of the way, Mr. Keating complied. self-justification made them remember Steve led the way into the kitchen and him forever afterward as almost super- lighted the gas-jet there, revealing humanly repulsive; or it may be that those empty shelves covered with clean he really was so. Mrs. Keating de- scalloped paper, prepared for the teascribed him later as looking "drowned in set. They all stood about awkwardly, whisky." He had, she said, such a dis- Mrs. Keating holding her little girl by gustingly wet look, his long black mus- the hand, Mr. Keating in the doorway, tache, his hair, his red face. And he had the inquisitive young Robert near the his usual offensive manner; he was col- window where Steve was securing his larless, unshaven, he reeked of whisky, contrivance. It took a preposterous and he had the gross politeness of a length of time. His hands moved busibeggar.
ly, and he whistled under his breath, Mr. Keating looked at him severely. while close beside him, handing him this,
"Well, Steve," he said, "let 's see the that, and the other tool, tying knots, tea-set.'
straightening tangles, stood his silent "I ain't got the tea-set, Mr. Keating, wife. sir. I used them valu'ble coupons for "Ah!" he cried at last, triumphantly, something more useful-like, as 'd benefit and opened the window. A raw, wet the two of us."
wind came blowing in, making the gas“O Steve!" murmured Mrs. Keating, light flicker and lifting his sodden hair reproachfully. But Mollie, standing by, from his forehead. He leaned far out said nothing at all.
and threw out one end of his device. Steve laid a paper bundle on the table The metal weight at the end of it in the bright light of the blue china lamp clanked dismally on the stones four and began to unwrap it-a jumble of stories below. cords, blocks, staples, and hooks.
“She's down," he announced, and sat “What is it?" Mr. Keating asked, down on the window-sill, with his legs with a frown.
Mr. Keating seized him by the coat- “I'm going down on me new-incollar.
vented fire-escape,” Steve answered him. “Come in here!” he cried.
“The more of you watches me, the betwant to kill yourself?”
ter. 'T will be a lesson. Ye'll all “No, I don't, boss. But I 'm going want thim whin you've seen me.” to show you how this little invention Without an instant's warning he disworks. In case of fire”
appeared. Mrs. Keating shrieked, but "Don't play the fool. Come in!" his voice reassured her, and the sight of
"Mr. Keating, sir, I'm going down on his face reappearing just above the sill, my fire-escape,” said Steve, solemnly looking more drowned than ever. and loudly. “No one at all can stop me. “Don't be uneasy, ma'am," he said. I know all about it. I understand it. “I've only to let meself down now. I tried it this morning with the young Whin the iron weight comes up here fella that invented it.'
again, you'll know that I 've touched “Rob, don't let him!” cried Mrs. the ground. Now, then, Mollie, take Keating.
another look that all thim ropes is Keating tried to haul him in, but tight." Steve was a much larger and heavier Mollie turned to Mr. Keating as if man than himseii, and he could n't move she were about to speak; but she turned him.
away again abruptly and leaned out of "Come in!" he cried again. "You the window; she was busy there for what are drunk. You don't know what you seemed to be a long time. are doing."
"Hi!" shouted her husband. “WhatThe sound of their voices had at- ever are you doing, Mollie? You 've tracted the attention of the neighbors; only to see that thim ropes is all tight.” windows across the narrow court were Mr. Keating came forward, exasperopened and heads thrust out.
ated and alarmed by her fumbling. “What the hell are you doing there “Let me see—" he began, but Mollie at all, Steve?”' called out a friendly voice sprang back suddenly, almost upsetting opposite. "Get the legs of you inside." him.
"All right!" she cried. "Go ahead!" "I suggested her coming back to us,"
And suddenly, like a shot, the iron said Keating, “and she seemed pleased. weight came whizzing up and crashed I thought you 'd be glad to have her.” through the top of the window.
Mrs. Keating did n't trouble to reply They did n't comprehend for an in- to so obvious a statement. stant. Then came a babel of shrieks “Then is Steve” she asked. and shouts.
“Dead. One of the ropes slipped. “Take the children home at once," The police came, of course, and an amKeating ordered. “Get a taxi some- bulance, and so on. But it was too late. where. Hurry up and get out.”
And, upon my word,” he added veheMrs. Keating obeyed blindly, hurried mently, “it's a good thing, too. Worthdown the long flights of stairs holding less brute!" Lucy by one hand and Robert by the Mrs. Keating remained silent for other, flew down the dark, narrow some time, frowning thoughtfully. street in a panic.
"Rob," she said at last. “Don't talk!" she commanded the He started in a guilty way. children, sharply. "Wait till your father "Well?" comes home; he 'll tell you all about it."
“Are you sure
do you think-the They were forced to go to bed unsat- rope really slipped?" isfied, and their mother had a solitary He scowled at her, but she persisted. and anxious dinner, for Mr. Keating "Because, Rob, I 'm quite sure. I did n't come home until ten o'clock. saw her pulling one of the little hooks or She jumped up when she heard a cab
screws or—" stop before the house, and hurried to the “For the love of heaven!" cried door.
Keating, jumping up, "if that 's not “O Rob!” she began, but saw behind just like a woman! Can't let well him the portly form of Mollie, with enough alone. Were n't you longing to that very same black bag-composed, have her back? Did n't you tell me placid Mollie.
morning, noon, and night that she was "I'll go into the kitchen, ma'am, if I the ideal nurse?" may, and ask cook for a cup of tea,” she “She is, of course,” his wife replied, said, and disappeared before having but could n't resist adding, "She is the been quite realized by Mrs. Keating. ideal nurse_even if she did.”
N Buenos Aires I became spelling "Buenos Ayres" that still per
what a local English- sists among even the best of English
can consul-general. The surprise, therefore, that the new-comer consul had turned out to be a vicarious finds the Argentine capital of to-day friend of long standing; his overworked the largest Spanish-speaking city on the force was sadly in need of an American globe, second only to Paris among the assistant familiar with Spanish, the one Latin cities of the world, equal to Philathat had been sent down from Washing- delphia in population, resembling Chiton months before having been lost in cago in extent, as well as in situation, transit; moreover, the consul, being a rivaling New York in many of its metrodiscerning as well as a kind-hearted man, politan features, and outdoing every knew that even a rolling stone requires city of our land in some of its civic an occasional handful of moss.
improvements. Two years of wandering among the Personally, I confess to having wanAndes and the jungles of South America dered its endless streets in a semi-dazed is in a way the best possible preparation condition for some time after my arfor a visit to the greatest city south rival. It was hard to believe that those of the United States. The man who miles upon miles of modern wharves, approaches it from this corridor will surrounding artificial basins capable experience to the full the astonishment of accommodating the largest ships in which it is almost certain to produce existence, backed by warehouses that upon an unprepared visitor; he will be in measure their capacity in millions of ideal condition to appreciate the urban tons, were situated on the same conartificialities which make it perhaps the tinent as medieval Quito, that the teemgreatest antithesis on earth of the more ing city behind them was inhabited by than rural simplicity of nearly all the the same race that founded languid La rest of the southern continent. Like Paz and sleepy Asunción. I found mythe majority of Americans, I suppose, self gazing with limp lower jaw at the though I had now and then heard ru- unexpected cosmopolitan uproar that mors of its increase and improvement, I surrounded me wherever my footsteps had a mental picture of the Argentine turned. capital which was as out of date as the The city of to-day has so completely