“Yes?” said Van Bibber, pleased and eager, putting his head through the window of the carriage. “What for, Mrs. Wainwright—the chafing-dish? Travers gave half, you know.”
And then Mrs. Wainwright said, “No; not for the chafing-dish.”
And they drove off, laughing.
“Look at ’em,” said Travers, morosely. “They don’t think the wheels are going around, do they? They think it is just the earth revolving with them on top of it, and nobody else. We don’t have to say ‘please’ to no one, not much! We can do just what we jolly well please, and dine when we please and wherever we please. You say to me, Travers, let’s go to Pastor’s to-night, and I say, I won’t, and you say I won’t go to the Casino, because I don’t want to, and there you are, and all we have to do is to agree to go somewhere else.”
“I wonder,” said Van Bibber, dreamily, as he watched the carriage disappear down the avenue, “what brings a man to the proposing point?”
“Some other man,” said Travers, promptly. “Some man he thinks has more to do for the girl than he likes.”
“Who,” persisted Van Bibber, innocently, “do you think was the man in that case?”
“How should I know?” exclaimed Travers, impatiently, waving away such unprofitable discussion with a sweep of his stick, and coming down to the serious affairs of life. “What I want to know is to what theatre we are going—that’s what I want to know.”
Young Lieutenant Claflin left the Brooklyn Navy-yard at an early hour, and arrived at the recruiting-office at ten o’clock. It was the day before Christmas, and even the Bowery, “the thieves’ highway,” had taken on the emblems and spirit of the season, and the young officer smiled grimly as he saw a hard-faced proprietor of a saloon directing the hanging of wreaths and crosses over the door of his palace and telling the assistant barkeeper to make the red holly berries “show up” better.
The cheap lodging-houses had trailed the green over their illuminated transoms, and even on Mott Street the Chinamen had hung up strings of evergreen over the doors of the joss-house and the gambling-house next door. And the tramps and good-for-nothings, just back from the Island, had an animated, expectant look, as though something certainly was going to happen.
Lieutenant Claflin nodded to Corporal Goddard at the door of the recruiting-office, and startled that veteran’s rigidity, and kept his cotton-gloved hand at his visor longer than the Regulations required, by saying, “Wish you merry Christmas,” as he jumped up the stairs.