The woman next in line ahead of him named her meat. Said the butcher, with a side glance at the clock, “A crown roast takes quite a while, lady. Could I send it in the morning?”
No, the lady wished to see it prepared. Expressly for that purpose had she come out in the rain. To-morrow she gave a luncheon.
“First come first served,” thought Jacob Downey, and bode his time in patience, feeling less pity for his aching feet than for Butcher Myers. Where was the charity in asking a hurried man at five minutes to six o’clock to frill up a roast that would not see the inside of the oven before noon next day?
Now, crown roasts are one thing to him who waits on fallen arches, and telephone calls are another. Scarcely had Downey’s opening come to speak for pork chops cut medium when off went the bell and off rushed Butcher Myers.
Sharply he warned the unknown that this was Myers’s Meat Shop. Blandly he smiled into the transmitter upon learning that his caller was Mrs. A. Lincoln Wilbram.
By the audience in front of the counter the following social intelligence was presently inferred:
That Mr. and Mrs. Wilbram had just returned from Florida; that they had enjoyed themselves ever so much; that they hoped Mr. Myers’s little girl was better; that they were taking their meals at the Clarendon pending the mobilization of their house-servants; that they expected to dine with the Mortimer Trevelyans this evening; that food for the dog may with propriety be brought home from a hotel, but not from the Mortimer Trevelyans; that there was utterly nothing in the icebox for poor Mudge’s supper; that Mudge was a chow dog purchased by a friend of Mr. Wilbram’s in Hongkong at so much a pound, just as Mr. Myers purchased live fowls; that Mudge now existed not to become chow, but to consume chow, and would feel grateful in his dog heart if Mr. Myers would, at this admittedly late hour, send him two pounds of bologna and a good bone; and that Mrs. Wilbram would consider herself under deep and lasting obligation to Mr. Myers for this act of kindness.
Mr. Myers assured Mrs. Wilbram that it would mean no trouble at all; he would send up the order as soon as his boy came back from delivering a beefsteak to the Mortimer Trevelyans.
He filled out a slip and stuck it on the hook.
“Now, Mr. Downey,” he said briskly.
But Jacob Downey gave him one tremendous look and limped out of the shop.
It was evening in the home of Miss Angelina Lance. Twenty-seven hours had passed since Jacob Downey’s exasperated exit from Myers’s Meat Shop. The eyes of Miss Angelina were bright behind her not-unbecoming spectacles as she watched the face of the solemn young man in the Morris chair near the reading lamp.
In his hand the solemn young man held three sheets of school composition paper. As he read the pencil writing on page one he lost his gravity. Over page two he smiled broadly. At the end of the last page he said: