“In Mendel’s top drawer, I suppose.... The question is how are we going to make it up to Plooie?”
“I don’t think you need worry about that,” returned the Bonnie Lassie loftily.
Nor was there any occasion for worry. Two days later there occurred an irruption of dismaying young men with casual squares of paper in their pockets, upon which they scratched brief notes. They were, I was subsequently given to understand, the pick and flower of the city’s reportorial genius. (I could imagine the ghost of Inky Mike with his important notebook and high-poised pencil, regarding with wonder and disdain their quiet and unimpressive methods.) A freshly painted sign across the front of Plooie’s basement, was the magnet that drew them:
Emile Garin &
Umbrella Mender & Porch Cleanser
The King of the Belgians
(By Royal Warranty)
No; Plooie and Annie Oombrella need no help from the humble now. Their well-deserved fortune is made.
The months go by—bleak March
and May-day heat—
Harvest is over—winter well-nigh done—
And still I say, “To-morrow we shall meet.”
The Little Red Doctor sat on the far end of my bench. Snow fringed the bristling curve of his mustache. He shivered.
“Dominie,” said he, “it’s a wild day.”
“Dominie,” said the Little Red Doctor, “it is no kind of a day for an old man to be sitting on a bench.”
“Dominie,” persisted the Little Red Doctor, “you can’t deny that you’re old.”
“Whose fault is that but yours?” I retorted.
“Don’t try to flatter me,” said the Little Red Doctor. “You’d have licked my old friend, Death, in that bout you had with him, without any help of mine. And, anyway, you were already old, then. You’re a tough old bird, Dominie. Otherwise you wouldn’t be sitting here in a March blizzard staring at the Worth mansion and wondering what really happened there three years ago.”
“Your old friend, Death, beat you that time,” said I maliciously.
The Little Red Doctor chose to ignore my taunt. “Look your fill, Dominie,” he advised. “You won’t have much more chance.”
“Why?” I asked, startled.
“The wreckers begin on it next month. Also a nice, new building is going up next door to it on that little, secret, walled jungle that Ely Crouch used to misname his garden. I’m glad of it, too. I don’t like anachronisms.”
“I’m an anachronism,” I returned. “You’ll be one pretty soon. Our Square is one solid anachronism.”
“It won’t be much longer. The tide is undermining us. Other houses will go as the Worth place is going. You’ll miss it, Dominie. You love houses as if they were people.”