And she smiled that smile that hurt him, the smile the world loves and will give anything to see.
The most famous funmaker of her time looked away from the bright river fleeting beyond the trees to her giggling, half-terrified visitors.
“Fame,” she said, “is a secret that cannot be told. It must be discovered by the seeker. Let me offer you tea as a substitute.”
By THOMAS BEER
From Saturday Evening Post
On Monday Mrs. Egg put her husband on the east-bound express with many orders. He was not to annoy Adam by kissing him when they met, if they met in public. He was to let Adam alone in the choice of civil dress, if Adam wanted to change his naval costume in New York. He was not to get lost in Brooklyn, as he had done before. He was to visit the largest moving-picture theatres and report the best films on his return. She made sure that Egg had her written list of lesser commands safe in his wallet, then folded him to her bosom, sniffed, and patted him up the steps of the coach.
A red-haired youth leaned through an open window and inquired, “Say, lady, would you mind tellin’ me just what you weigh?”
“I ain’t been on the scales in years, bub,” said Mrs. Egg equably; “not since about when you was born. Does your mamma ever wash out your mouth with soap?”
An immediate chorus of laughter broke from the platform loungers. The train jerked forward. The youth pulled in his head. Mrs. Egg stood puffing triumphantly with her hands on her hips.
“It’s a shame,” the baggage-master told her, “that a lady can’t be kind of—kind of——”
“Fat,” said Mrs. Egg; “and bein’ tall makes it worse. All the Packers ’ve always been tall. When we get fat we’re holy shows. But if that kid’s mother’s done her duty by him he’d keep his mouth shut.”
The dean of the loungers put in, “Your papa was always skinny, Myrtle.”
“I can’t remember him much,” Mrs. Egg panted, “but he looks skinny in his pictures. Well, I got to get home. There’s a gentleman coming over from Ashland to look at a bull.”
She trod the platform toward the motor at the hitching rails and several loungers came along gallantly. Mrs. Egg cordially thanked them as she sank into the driving seat, settled her black straw hat, and drove off.
Beholding two of her married daughters on the steps of the drug store, she stopped the car and shouted: “Hey, girls, the fleet’s gettin’ in to-morrow. Your papa’s gone to meet Dammy. I just shoved him on the train. By gee! I forgot to tell him he was to fetch home—no, I wrote that down—well, you come out to supper Wednesday night.”
“But can Dammy get discharged all in one day?” a daughter asked.
Mrs. Egg had no patience with such imbecility. She snapped, “Did you think they’d discharge him a foot at a time, Susie?” and drove on up the street, where horsechestnuts were ready to bloom, appropriately, since Adam was fond of the blossoms. She stopped the car five times to tell the boys that Adam would be discharged tomorrow, and made a sixth stop at the candy shop, where a clerk brought out a chocolate ice cream with walnut sauce. He did this mechanically. Mrs. Egg beamed at him, although the fellow was a newcomer and didn’t know Adam.