True, too, the illustrious D.K.T. had written Miss Angelina an abject apology, most witty and poetic, taking all the blame to himself and more than exonerating his high-principled friend Mr. Sloan.
But the bank-note went back to its donor without even a rejection slip; and D.K.T.’s humour was fatal to his client’s cause. Ghastly are they who jest in the shadow of tragedy. Mr. Sloan and D.K.T. did not know, of course—Miss Angelina had not thought it of any use to tell them—of the sword which they had hung up by a thread above the heads of the Downeys.
As for Jacob Downey, he limped about amid his hardware in the basement at Wilbram, Prescott & Co.s, careworn, haunted of eye, expecting the house to crash about his ears at any moment. One does not with impunity publish the wife of one’s employer as a lazy loafer.
The A. Lincoln Wilbrams had servants again, and dined at home. To Mr. Wilbram said Mrs. Wilbram one evening:
“It is the strangest thing. In the last month I’ve met scarcely a soul who hasn’t asked me silly questions about Mudge and his diet. Mrs. Trevelyan and everybody. And they always look so queer.”
Mr. Wilbram was reminded that while coming home that evening with a package in his hand he had met Trevelyan, and Trevelyan had inquired: “What’s that? A bone for the dog?”
“To-morrow,” said A. Lincoln, “I’ll ask him what he was driving at.”
“What was the package?” queried his wife.
He fetched it from the hall. It had come to him at the store that day by registered mail.
“From Hildegarde,” said Mrs. Wilbram, noting the Los Angeles postmark. Hildegarde was honeymooning among the orange groves. Wrote the happy bride:
Dear Aunt and Uncle:
Charles and I see by the paper that Mudge is hungry, so we are sending him a little present.
“What can the child mean, Abe?”
“Don’t ask me,” he answered. “Undo the present and see.”
They loosened blue ribbons and wrappings of soft paper, and disclosed a link of bologna sausage.
Maddening? It might have been, if Hildegarde had not thought to inclose a page from the Daily Southern Californian, upon which, ringed with pencil marks, was a bit of miscellany headed, “Morel Prinsaples.”
They read it through to the conclusion:
So as I say let us all stick up for our Morel Prinsaples like my Father come what may.—Willie Downey in Ashland (N.J.) Bee.
“Why!—why!—it’s—it’s me!” cried Mrs. Wilbram. “I did telephone to Mr. Myers for two pounds of bologna and a dog bone—on the night we dined at the Trevelyans’!”
“It comes mighty close to libel,” fumed Wilbram.
“How do they dare! You must see Worthington Oakes about this, Abe.”
“I certainly will,” he vowed.
He certainly did, as Mr. Worthington Oakes, the publisher of the Bee, will testify. In the front office on the editorial floor he saw Mr. Oakes for a bad half-hour, and demanded a public retraction of the insult.