The Place of Honeymoons (Chapter 8, page 2 of 10)


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Chapter 8

Harrigan crossed the room briskly, urged by an appetite as sound as his
views on life. The chef here was a king; there was always something to
look forward to at the dinner hour; some new way of serving spinach, or
lentils, or some irresistible salad. He smiled at every one and pulled out
his chair.

"Sorry to keep you folks waiting."

"James!"

"What's the matter now?" he asked good-naturedly. Never that tone but
something was out of kilter.

His wife glanced wrathfully at his feet. Wonderingly he looked down. In
the heat of the battle with his cravat he had forgotten all about his
tennis shoes.

"I see. No soup for mine." He went back to his room, philosophically.
There was always something wrong when he got into these infernal clothes.

"Mother," said Nora, "why can't you let him be?"

"But white shoes!" in horror.

"Who cares? He's the patientest man I know. We're always nagging him, and
I for one am going to stop. Look about! So few men and women dress for
dinner. You do as you please here, and that is why I like it."

"I shall never be able to do anything with him as long as he sees that his
mistakes are being condoned by you," bitterly responded the mother. "Some
day he will humiliate us all by his carelessness."

"Oh, bother!" Nora's elbow slyly dug into Celeste's side.

The pianist's pretty face was bent over her soup. She had grown accustomed
to these little daily rifts. For the great, patient, clumsy,
happy-go-lucky man she entertained an intense pity. But it was not the
kind that humiliates; on the contrary, it was of a mothering disposition;
and the ex-gladiator dimly recognized it, and felt more comfortable with
her than with any other woman excepting Nora. She understood him perhaps
better than either mother or daughter; he was too late: he belonged to a
distant time, the beginning of the Christian era; and often she pictured
him braving the net and the trident in the saffroned arena.

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