“Oh, Matt,” he exclaimed finally, “don’t you understand? That smell of whiskey was on you somewhere—I smell it now. And you were so excited when you went in, that you forgot to latch the door—I’ve done the same thing, once or twice. Oh, oh, oh, that’s too rich. I’ll die if I can’t tell somebody.”In those next few weeks Fred Payton was a little vague and preoccupied. The revelation which had come to her in that moment before the mirror when she had kissed her own hand, remained as a sort of undercurrent in her thoughts, although she did not put it into words again. Instead, she added Howard Maitland to her daily possibilities: Would she meet him on the street?—and her eyes, careless and eager, raked the crowds on the pavements! Would he drop into her office to say he had fished up a client for her?—and she held her breath for an expectant moment when the elevator clanged on her floor. Would he be at the dance at the Country Club?—and when he cut in, and they went down the floor together, something warm and satisfied brooded in her heart, like a bird in its nest. Sometimes she rebuked herself for letting him know how pleased she was to see him; and then rebuked herself again: Why not? Why shouldn’t she be as straightforward as he? Hadn’t he told her he would rather talk to her than to any man he knew? She flung up her head when she thought of that; she was not vain, but she knew that he would not say that to any other girl in their set. She was very contented now; not even the ell room at 15 Payton Street seriously disturbed[Pg 104] her. The fact was, Life was so interesting she hadn’t time to think of the ell room—Howard, herself, her business, her league! Yet, busy as she was, she remembered Flora’s desire for music lessons, and every two or three days, before it was time to set the table for dinner, she stood by the togaed bust of Andy Payton, trying to teach the pathetically eager creature her notes. But the lessons, begun with enthusiasm, dragged as the weeks passed; poor Flora’s numb mind—a little more numb just now because Mr. Baker’s Sam had suddenly vanished from her horizon—could not grasp the matter of time. Fred’s hand, resting on her shoulder, could feel the tremor of effort through her whole body, as the thin, brown fingers stumbled through the scales: canada goose ski jacket “Countess indeed! Is that all? We know all about such countesses. They belong in the St. Lazarre Prison when they run round without their ‘livret’(police permit.) Allons! come along! Enough of these airs and graces! A decent woman does not pace the streets at midnight in a ball-dress.” canada goose ski jacket Frederick had entered this charming buen retiro a free man. When he left it he was enthralled by fetters which he would find it difficult to sever.
“Till he does turn, of course, he’s useless for business purposes,” said Oppenshaw; “he would have no memory, for one thing—at least, no memory of business.” canada goose ski jacket canada goose ski jacket Bobby remembered Miss Rossignol and felt a bit comforted; then he began to feel uncomfortable: the aunt was looking fixedly at Simon. His admiration had evidently been noted by Watchfulness; then the uncle seemed to take notice.Even his innocence and newness—despite the crave for companionship now on him—recognised that there were undesirables, and as for the bar girls, they were frozen images—for him.”I’ve used every evening this week upon that chapter of heredity, and now it isn’t worth the paper it’s written on!”That was in September. It was the first of December when Howard Maitland came leaping up-stairs, two steps at a time, and burst into the nursery, so chock-full of news that he could hardly wait to see the way Betty’s toes would grip your finger if you put it on the sole of her pink foot.Then the conversation languished, just as it may between two old friends or boon companions who have no need to keep up talk.”And,” said the minister, who wished all things done decently and in order as established by Providence, “pray daily for grace to overcome every sin.”Anis,one of Kabul’s newspapers, had run a story the monthbefore on the renovation of the orphanage. They’d taken aphoto too, of Zaman, Tariq, Laila, and one of the attendants,standing in a row behind the children. When Laila saw thearticle, she’d thought of her childhood friends Giti and Hasina,and Hasina saying,By the time we’re twenty, Giti and I, we’llhave pushed out four, five kids each Bui you, Laila, you’ll makeus two dummies proud. You ‘re going to be somebody. I knowone day I’ll pick up a newspaper and find your picture on thefrontpage. The photo hadn’t made the front page, but there itwas nevertheless, as Hasina had predicted.Jalil had seen her too, if only for a moment. Their eyes hadmet briefly through a part in the curtains, as they had metmany years earlier through a part in another pair of curtains.When supper time came and went, it was discovered that the larder would be empty in the morning, but fortunately Matt appeared, coming at night, like Nicodemus, for fear of the authorities, and brought with him a whole loaf of bread and fifty or sixty cubic inches of boiled ham. But the boys slept out of doors that night, and awoke with such appetites that the bread and ham disappeared and they were still hungry. Then they stole many ears of scarcely ripe green corn, which they roasted and ate for dinner without successfully filling their respective aching voids. A raid was made upon a patch of early potatoes, but these did not roast satisfactorily, as any of the boys might have known had they ever tried an early potato before. The final result was that the boys slept supperless, and were at the mill-dam before daylight, where they were successful in demonstrating to certain occupants of the water that catching the early worm is not an unmixed blessing. But even fish, broiled on sticks or fried on a heated plowshare which somebody had stolen, are not particularly palatable when eaten without salt or bread. So the party finally sneaked toward town with hungry faces, vigilant eyes, and waistbands which would lap past their accustomed meeting place, and fasten, without extra tugging, at the first suspender button.”Oh, Fred, how young you are!” he sighed; then pulled Zip’s tail and was snapped at.Mariam lay on the couch, hands tucked between her knees,watched the whirlpool of snow twisting and spinning outside thewindow. She remembered Nana saying once that eachsnowflake was a sigh heaved by an aggrieved womansomewhere in the world. That all the sighs drifted up the sky,gathered into clouds, then broke into tiny pieces that fell silentlyon the people below.”Yes,” Frederica said, in a low voice. (“He refused me.”)Colonel Clery, who had risen and was now standing before the fire-place, turned his eyes full upon Frederick and remarked: canada goose ski jacket Sometimes, if Tariq wasn’t nearby, Khadim shadowed Laila inthe schoolyard at recess, leering, making little whining noises.”But I’m a different breed of man, Mariam. Where I comefrom, one wrong look, one improper word, and blood is spilled.They had reached the Bank—as if by derision, when he told himself this. He got off the omnibus and got on a westward-bound one [Pg 101]harking back to the land he knew. He remembered the expression, “racking one’s brains to find a plot.” He knew the meaning of it now.”Did you ever hear of a disease called Lethmann’s disease?”The surprise was too much for Jack’s nerves; he dropped upon his father’s bed and doubted whether he ever would regain his breath again; then he bemoaned the loss of the vagabond life which had been just within his grasp, and which is the ideal of every boy at a certain period of his life. From this he was recovered by the thought that, after all, nice little Mattie Barker was not to be entirely a memory of the past. His eye and nose finally obtruded themselves upon his attention, and very unsightly objects they were in a mirror; he hoped nice little Mattie Barker would not see him until his face regained its natural appearance; and he would certainly take care never to have himself so disfigured again.”Hey,” said Chiang, “you’re a joke. Where did you get the shiny gold spindle last night?””Well, just leave them alone,” replied the other. “Is there any money in the pockets?””He would! He would! Didn’t I tell you he recognized his sister to-day? His sister, who cares more for her dog than she does for him! And he almost always knows me. Bessie, you don’t understand how a mother feels—” she had risen and was walking about the room, her fat, worn face sharpening with a sort of animal alertness into power and protection. The claws that hide in every maternal creature slipped out of the fur of good manners: “We’ve gone all over this a hundred times; I know that you think I am a fool; and I think that you—well, never mind! The amount of it is, you are not a mother.”