“I’ve been working this whole mortal evening,” went on Ella Morrissey, holding up a pencil sketch and squinting at it disapprovingly over her working spectacles, “and I’m so tired that one eye’s shut and the other’s running on first. Where’ve you been, child?”
“Oh, driving!” Sophy’s limp hair was a shade limper than usual, and a strand of it had become loosened and straggled untidily down over her ear. Her eyes looked large and strangely luminous. “Do you know, I love Paris!”
Ella Morrissey laid down her pencil sketch and turned slowly. She surveyed Sophy Gold, her shrewd eyes twinkling.
“That so? What made you change your mind?”
The dreamy look in Sophy’s eyes deepened.
“Why—I don’t know. There’s something in the atmosphere—something in the air. It makes you do and say foolish things. It makes you feel queer and light and happy.”
Ella Morrissey’s bright twinkle softened to a glow. She stared for another brief moment. Then she trundled over to where Sophy stood and patted her leathery cheek. “Welcome to our city!” said Miss Ella Morrissey.
THE THREE OF THEM
For eleven years Martha Foote, head housekeeper at the Senate Hotel, Chicago, had catered, unseen, and ministered, unknown, to that great, careless, shifting, conglomerate mass known as the Travelling Public. Wholesale hostessing was Martha Foote’s job. Senators and suffragists, ambassadors and first families had found ease and comfort under Martha Foote’s regime. Her carpets had bent their nap to the tread of kings, and show girls, and buyers from Montana. Her sheets had soothed the tired limbs of presidents, and princesses, and prima donnas. For the Senate Hotel is more than a hostelry; it is a Chicago institution. The whole world is churned in at its revolving front door.
For eleven years Martha Foote, then, had beheld humanity throwing its grimy suitcases on her immaculate white bedspreads; wiping its muddy boots on her bath towels; scratching its matches on her wall paper; scrawling its pencil marks on her cream woodwork; spilling its greasy crumbs on her carpet; carrying away her dresser scarfs and pincushions. There is no supremer test of character. Eleven years of hotel housekeepership guarantees a knowledge of human nature that includes some things no living being ought to know about her fellow men. And inevitably one of two results must follow. You degenerate into a bitter, waspish, and fault-finding shrew; or you develop into a patient, tolerant, and infinitely understanding woman. Martha Foote dealt daily with Polack scrub girls, and Irish porters, and Swedish chambermaids, and Swiss waiters, and Halsted Street bell-boys. Italian tenors fried onions in her Louis-Quinze suite. College boys burned cigarette holes in her best linen sheets. Yet any one connected with the Senate Hotel, from Pete the pastry cook to H.G. Featherstone, lessee-director, could vouch for Martha Foote’s serene unacidulation.