“I won eighteenpence off of Bob Stevens,” said her husband, staring at the table. “Eighteenpence is ’er price for telling the future only, and, being curious and feeling I’d like to know what’s going to ’appen to me, I went in and had eighteenpennorth.”
“Well, you’re upset,” said Mrs. Dowson, with a quick glance at him. “You get upstairs to bed.”
“I’d sooner stay ’ere,” said her husband, resuming his seat; “it seems more cheerful and lifelike. I wish I ’adn’t gorn, that’s what I wish.”
“What did she tell you?” inquired Mr. Foss.
Mr. Dowson thrust his hands into his trouser pockets and spoke desperately. “She says I’m to live to ninety, and I’m to travel to foreign parts——”
“You get to bed,” said his wife. “Come along.”
Mr. Dowson shook his head doggedly. “I’m to be rich,” he continued, slowly—“rich and loved. After my pore dear wife’s death I’m to marry again; a young woman with money and stormy brown eyes.”
Mrs. Dowson sprang from her chair and stood over him quivering with passion. “How dare you?” she gasped. “You—you’ve been drinking.”
“I’ve ’ad two arf-pints,” said her husband, solemnly. “I shouldn’t ’ave ’ad the second only I felt so miserable. I know I sha’n’t be ’appy with a young woman.”
Mrs. Dowson, past speech, sank back in her chair and stared at him.
“I shouldn’t worry about it if I was you, Mrs. Dowson,” said Mr. Foss, kindly. “Look what she said about me. That ought to show you she ain’t to be relied on.”
“Eyes like lamps,” said Mr. Dowson, musingly, “and I’m forty-nine next month. Well, they do say every eye ’as its own idea of beauty.”
A strange sound, half laugh and half cry, broke from the lips of the over-wrought Mrs. Dowson. She controlled herself by an effort.
“If she said it,” she said, doggedly, with a fierce glance at Mr. Foss, “it’ll come true. If, after my death, my ’usband is going to marry a young woman with—with——”
“Stormy brown eyes,” interjected Mr. Foss, softly.
“It’s his fate and it can’t be avoided,” concluded Mrs. Dowson.
“But it’s so soon,” said the unfortunate husband. “You’re to die in three weeks and I’m to be married three months after.”
Mrs. Dowson moistened her lips and tried, but in vain, to avoid the glittering eye of Mr. Foss. “Three!” she said, mechanically, “three! three weeks!”
“Don’t be frightened,” said Mr. Foss, in a winning voice. “I don’t believe it; and, besides, we shall soon see! And if you don’t die in three weeks, perhaps I sha’n’t get five years for bigamy, and perhaps Flora won’t marry a fair man with millions of money and motor-cars.”
“No; perhaps she is wrong after all, mother,” said Mr. Dowson, hopefully.
Mrs. Dowson gave him a singularly unkind look for one about to leave him so soon, and, afraid to trust herself to speech, left the room and went up-stairs. As the door closed behind her, Mr. Foss took the chair which Mr. Lippet had thoughtlessly vacated, and offered such consolations to Flora as he considered suitable to the occasion.