The City of Fire (Chapter 5, page 1 of 7)


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Chapter 5

The whistle of the Cannery at Sabbath Valley blew a relief blast five
minutes ahead of midnight in deference to the church chimes, and the
night shift which had been working overtime on account of a consignment
of tomatoes that would not keep till Monday, poured joyously out into
the road and scattered to their various homes.

The outmost of these homegoers, Tom McMertrie and Jim Rafferty, who
lived at the other extreme of the village, came upon a crippled car,
coughing and crawling toward them in front of the Graveyard. Its
driver, much sobered by lack of stimulant, and frequent necessity for
getting out and pushing his car over hard bits of road, called to them
noisily.

The two workmen, pleasant of mood, ready for a joke, not altogether
averse to helping if this proved to be "the right guy," halted and
stepped into the road just to look the poor noble car over. It was the
lure of the fine machine.

"Met with an accident?" Jim remarked affably, as if it were something
to enjoy.

"Had toire thrubble?" added Tom, punching the collapsed tires.

The questions seemed to anger the driver, who demanded loftily: "Where's your garage?"

"Garage? Oh, we haven't any garage," said Jim pleasantly, with a mute
twinkle in his Irish eye.

"No garage? Haven't any garage! What town is this,--if you call it a
town?"

"Why, mon, this is Sawbeth Volley! Shorely ye've heard of Sawbeth
Volley!"

"No, I never heard of it!" said the stranger contemptuously, "but from
what I've seen of it so far I should say it ought to be called Hell's
Pit! Well, what do you do when you want your car fixed?"

"Well, we don't hoppen to hove a cyar," said Tom with a meditative air,
stooping to examine the spokes of a wheel, "Boot, ef we hod mon, I'm
thenkin' we'd fix it!"

Jim gave a flicker of a chuckle in his throat, but kept his outward
gravity. The stranger eyed the two malevolently, helplessly, and began
once more, holding his rage with a cold voice.

"Well, how much do you want to fix my car?" he asked, thrusting his
hand into his pocket and bringing out an affluent wallet.

The men straightened up and eyed him coldly. Jim turned indifferently
away and stepped back to the sidewalk. Tom lifted his chin and replied
kindly: "Why, Mon, it's the Sawbeth, didn't ye know? I'm s'proised at
ye! It's the Sawbeth, an' this is Sawbeth Volley! We don't wurruk on
the Sawbeth day in Sawbeth Volley. Whist! Hear thot, mon?"

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