SIEVE OF FULFILMENT
How constant a stream is the runnel of men’s small affairs!
Dynasties may totter and half the world bleed to death, but one or the other corner patisserie goes on forever.
At a moment when the shadow of world-war was over the country like a pair of black wings lowering Mrs. Harry Ross, who swooned at the sight of blood from a penknife scratch down the hand of her son, but yawned over the head-line statistics of the casualties at Verdun, lifted a lid from a pot that exuded immediate savory fumes, prodded with a fork at its content, her concern boiled down to deal solely with stew.
An alarm-clock on a small shelf edged in scalloped white oilcloth ticked with spick-and-span precision into a kitchen so correspondingly spick and span that even its silence smelled scoured, rows of tins shining into it. A dun-colored kind of dusk, soot floating in it, began to filter down the air-shaft, dimming them.
Mrs. Ross lowered the shade and lighted the gas-jet. So short that in the long run she wormed first through a crowd, she was full of the genial curves that, though they bespoke three lumps in her coffee in an elevator and escalator age, had not yet reached uncongenial proportions. In fact, now, brushing with her bare forearm across her moistly pink face, she was like Flora, who, rather than fade, became buxom.
A door slammed in an outer hall, as she was still stirring and looking down into the stew.
“Don’t track through the parlor.”
“You hear me?”
“I yain’t! Gee, can’t a feller walk?”
“Put your books on the hat-rack.”
She supped up bird-like from the tip of her spoon, smacking for flavor.
“I made you an asafetida-bag, Edwin, it’s in your drawer. Don’t you leave this house to-morrow without it on.”
“It don’t smell.”
“Where’s my stamp-book?”
“On your table, where it belongs.”
“Gee whiz! if you got my Argentine stamps mixed!”
“Where’s my batteries?”
“Under your bed, where they belong.”
“Your father’ll be home any minute now. Don’t spoil your appetite.”
“I got ninety in manual training, mother.”
“Did yuh, Edwin?”
“All the other fellows only got seventy and eighty.”
“Mamma’s boy leads ’em.”
He entered at that, submitting to a kiss upon an averted cheek.
“See what mother’s fixed for you!”
“I shopped all morning to get okra to go in it for your father.”
She tiptoed up to kiss him again, this time at the back of the neck, carefully averting her floury hands.