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they all seem to be, that the world is all pitted, like the moon's surface in a photo

, wrong. Then she repeated, 'I 've never graph. thought about life at all before last week.' "I'll give you the tale, if you like, just "While I was wondering whether I as I have it now in my

head. should urge her to tell me what had "Jessica and her husband had been out changed the complexion of her universe, walking in the park with their two chows. she blurted out, as if she feared her cour- It was a June evening, about ten o'clock. age might fail :

They had left their door ajar, as they often “ 'I wish I could tell you about it. If did in warm weather, and Jessica had run I told my husband, he 'd think me crazy; in ahead to telephone. All the servants if I told any of my friends, they 'd run had gone to bed but one maid, who was around asking, “Oh, have you heard about dozing in the pantry. Jessica called to Jessica's electrician?” They'd make a her that she would close the doors, and joke or a scandal out of it. May I tell sent her off to bed. Now, the telephone you?' And then as I nodded, 'How funny on that foor was in a corner between the that I should tell you here!'

dining-room and the basement stairway, “'You mea

ean it 's comic to be driven very dark and inconvenient, the 'phone to kitchen-middens to talk?"

on a high shelf, no chair, and close to it, “'Oh, not only that, but, you see, this so close that one was always knocking thing happened in the kitchen-in my kit- things off it, stood a clothes-tree bulgy chen the other night, and now I 'm telling with mackintoshes and sweaters and rough you about it in a vegetable garden! We coats. Every household, unless it 's domismiled at each other then, and I assumed nated by a domestic-efficiency expert, has the attentive immobility of your true lis- some such corner. One says, 'I really tener.

must get at this and do so and so, but one "She told her tale without the slight- does n't. est affectation. No interpolations or ex- "The wire was busy, and as Jessica planations or opinions of her own; I waited, she tried to push the clothes-tree always prefer to supply that sort of thing farther into the corner.

It would n't in my telling. Anything that impressed budge, though she pushed with all her her she repeated as she had heard it, word might, and then a voice, very low and

, for word. It was n't, of course, the sort very anxious, came from behind it, ‘Please of story that would have satisfied a jury; don't be frightened ! not explicit or detailed enough, and not "Well, she was frightened, and she especially coherent. It was just real; an stepped back quickly, knocking the teleaccurate report would have left one quite phone off the shelf. It struck her hand cold. That 's the difference between real- as it fell, and she must have uttered a cry, ity and actuality. There 's nothing, you for the voice went on in an urgent whis'll admit, so ludicrously stationary as a per: snap-shot of a person running or walking. “I'm so sorry! Don't be frightened! That foot thrust forward in the act of Let me stay here for a few minutes. taking a step seems turned to stone. Have Please! n't you noticed it? In order to give a "She stood half paralyzed with fear, sense of real motion the literal image of a her eyes fixed on the shrouded rack. A moving being won't do. It 's the same hat had been perched on the top of it, and way with a tale.

it looked for all the world like an over“I got the core of the whole thing from dressed scarecrow. The voice, the plainher telling then, but I built it out a bit tive whisper, seemed to come out of this later after a walk about the little park bulky body, and she half expected to see

, and a talk with an old telescope-man in the thing lurch forward, waving all its Fourteenth Street, a strange old chap with horribly empty sleeves in her face. And a face as round as a moon and roughly at her feet, as if issuing from the bowels


*** You could see Broadway blazing off to the west, and she 'd stare at the lights'"

tively, and then squatted close to the wall, waiting for developments. She knew something was wrong, but she took her mistress's word for it that she would not be held responsible.

of the earth, sounded the faint, insistent, impersonal query of the telephone operator: Number, please! Number, please! Number, please!' Then her husband came in with the dogs,-the poor things had been named Pell and Mell,- and one of them-Mell it was- -came scampering through the hall. Jessica caught her by the collar and said sharply: 'Down, Mell! Quiet! It's all right!'

"Well, there Jessica crouched in the corner holding the dog by the collar. Then came her husband's sleepy voice, 'Coming, Jess?' and she found herself replying carelessly:

"Do you know chows? They 're vigorous, amiable, well-behaved animals, not too sensitive or imaginative, and not at all suspicious, and they 're so well balanced they 're not always making a bid for approbation like most dogs. This one sniffed about for a minute, whined interroga

"I'll be up later. Don't wait. I've not got my number; then I must go down and find something for Mell. Poor Mell! you shall have a bone in a minute!' and she waited with a shaking heart until she heard a door close on an upper floor. She realized that she should have fled


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from the corner and left her husband to sharp. He had no coat, and his collar was deal with the intruder. She was not ven- open at the throat; but there was not a turesome, she had never knowingly taken suggestion of the tramp about him. He a risk in her life; but there had been a looked like a respectable young mechanic quality, something, in that whispered ap- tired after his day's work. Jessica slipped peal that she could not resist. Twice she into a chair, and leaned her elbows on the tried to speak; then came a strange tone,

table. flat, expressionless. She hardly recognized “ 'What were you doing up-stairs? You her own voice:

don't look like a burglar,' she said evenly. “I am going down into the kitchen; “He shook his head. you may come with me. I am not fright- “ 'I did n't come to steal; I just saw ened.' And to prove that she was not the door open and thought I 'd slip in and afraid, she felt for the baluster and started hide somewheres until I got my bearings. down the narrow stairway, pushing Mell I felt as if the whole town was after me. in front of her; and behind her came My wife--she fell off a roof a little while clumsy, cautious footsteps and loud, anx- ago. I pushed her off.' ious breathing. She decided that this was “ "Jessica held her breath. For several not a sneak-thief.

minutes there was no sound in the kitchen "Now, Jessica was n't a housekeeper of but the crunch, crunch of the dog gnawthe old school. She did n't know her way ing her bone under the table and a disabout the kitchen. She had n't a notion tressed, wheezing sputter in the sink-pipe. where to find the lights. She groped help- “So this was a murderer, a wife-killer. lessly for a moment, and then said sternly Could criminals look like this, timid, and almost defiantly:

tired, gentle? They were, she had always ‘Please strike a match !'

thought, a class apart, shifty-eyed, leerA low voice answered:

ing, low-browed ruffians. Children and “ 'I 've a pocket torch. I 'll find the

I'll find the dogs ran from them in a panic. Decent switch,' and in an instant the room was people very rightly locked them out; and Aooded with light, and she was facing the here she was talking to one in her own intruder across the kitchen table. He kitchen, not a bit afraid of him! More stood there quietly, blinking, smiling tim- than that, she found herself saying: idly, clutching his cap-a mere boy. “ 'Oh, you poor soul!' And then as he hardly more than two

or three and sat motionless, his head against the redtwenty, she thought. He looked so little cotton cushion, his eyes closed, she went like a villain that she smiled back at him. on, 'Oh, what made you do it?'

“Now, what do you want? Are you “Presently he leaned forward in his hungry?'

chair and began to speak. Of course, un“Hungry? No; but you promised your ‘

der ordinary conditions the boy would dog a bone.' He stooped and patted have been abashed to find himself alone Miell, who was sniffing at his legs. "Can with this woman of another world, would I sit down ? I 'm played out.'

have stood before her awkwardly, stam"Jessica nodded, and went to the ice- mering. 'Yes, ma'am: I don't know,

; box to find a bone. Then she stood listen- ma'am.' Now the violent shock of his ing for a moment in the doorway. Every- tragedy had anesthetized him to almost thing was quiet.

complete unconsciousness of his surround“The young man had seated himself in

ings. He was over the border-line, bethe cook's rocking-chair by the stove. It yond constraint and embarrassment. As had a turkey-red cushion tied in the back he talked he relived moments of the brief of it, and against it his face looked gray. life of his passionate attachment, his disIt was a thin, ugly, gentle face, hollowed illusion, his bewilderment, his pain. He about the eyes and cheek-bones, and the

revealed himself in snatches as vivid, as line from ear to chin was unnaturally detached, as fragmentary as the ramblings of a man under ether. Some of the things She must have thought I was ugly as sin; he said meant nothing to Jessica, but she she never looked at me. understood that he was an electrician and “ 'When it was hot I'd take a couple that, working in some small theater, he of chairs and a cushion up to the roof, had met and adored and married a girl and I 'd fix some lemonade for her or named Ruby. It is easy to picture the maybe I 'd go out and get a pitcher of type of chorus girl who calls herself Ruby, beer. She'd rock and rock faster and is n't it? But she had evidently com- faster and make the tin roof crackle and pletely dazzled him. He kept repeating: snap.

You could see Broadway blazing “I don't know-I don't know what it off to the west, and she'd stare at the was made her so wonderful,' and then: lights. I d sit back and look up at the You know how, when you look at an elec- sky-lights up there worth watching. tric bulb and it goes out, you see it plain when I thought what a job it was to after it 's dark,- it fixes itself on your eye- build and keep going enough of a plant to balls somehow,- and just before it fades light New York, why I had a lot of reyou see the loop of the wire, like a gilt spect for the One who managed that great thread on black. Well, she was like that. old plant up there. It 's a great old When she went out of the room or round plant,' he repeated, his eyes fixed on the a corner I'd see her for a full minute after drop-light over the kitchen table, as if it, she'd gone, and when she said good-by too, were a tiny, an infinitesimal part of I'd hear good-by, good-by, good-by over the solar system. And after a moment of and over, sort of like an echo getting silence he brought out bitterly, 'There

, fainter and fainter - hear it with my ears, she'd sit rocking and humming to herself, mind you, not imagination. What was it, and whenever I 'd ask her a question, do you suppose, made her like that?' she 'd give me a lie.

"Jessica said something feeble about per- ‘She liked to go to the movies in Foursonality, but he did not hear her. He teenth Street. There was an old fellow went on:

on the street corner had a telescope. Every "We had a nice little place-three time we 'd go down I'd slip out and have rooms. I fixed it all up before we got a look at the stars. Five cents a look he married. She loved red, and I bought charged; he 'd talk just like a storekeeper,

, a lot of red cushions and a Morris chair as if the stars were his to sell. with a red-plush cover. I read some- "•"Good evening, sir, what will you wheres in the paper that electricity had have to-night? Venus, that lovely lumicontributed more to human happiness than nary, is not with us, but we have Jupiter, anything else in civilization. I told her as usual. I suppose you would not care I'd make electricity do her work for her, to have a look at Mars? He 's not so so she 'd have it easy.

I ran wires all

showy through this telescope, but very nice over the place, a reading-light by the sofa, and homelike. No? Well, here is Jupiand hair-curling tongs and electric irons, ter; this belted monarch of the skies has and a neat little toaster for the dining- four attendant moons.” Such a line of room table, a vacuum-sweeper, too; and talk you never heard. at Christmas I fixed up a little tree with 'Sometimes Ruby 'd go out at night colored bulbs on it. I thought she'd with friends, and I 'd walk down there think it was fine, housekeeping like that. and listen to the old chap by the hour. She said she'd rather live in a boarding- He certainly was hipped on Mars. Knew house and have people to talk to; I 'm all about life there; said the people were not much of a talker. Well, I could n't enormous, but that an elephant there afford that. She knew I could n't.

would jump as dainty as a gazelle, and, the "Mly! she was the prettiest thing ever gravity being so much less, they could dig created. I could have sat and looked at a canal as easy as a squirrel would dig a her all day long without saying a word. hole to hide a nut; and everything being


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