Honeybunch smelt his breath and then she smelt a mouse, but she wasn’t much of a talker and she didn’t ask any questions—of him. But she had brother Jim make some inquiries, and a few days later, when Doodums complained of feeling all petered out and wanted to go to bed early, she was ready for him.
Honeybunch wasn’t any invalid, and when she went to bed it was to sleep, so she rigged up a simple little device in the way of an alarm and dropped off peacefully, while Doodums pretended to.
When she began to snore in her upper register and to hit the high C, he judged the coast was clear, and leaped lightly out of bed. Even before he’d struck the floor he knew there’d been a horrible mistake somewhere, for he felt a tug as if he’d hooked a hundred-pound catfish. There was an awful ripping and tearing sound, something fetched loose, and his wife was sitting up in bed blinking at him in the moonlight. It seemed that just before she went to sleep she’d pinned her nightgown to his with a safety pin, which wasn’t such a bad idea for a simple, trusting, little village maiden.
“Was you wantin’ anything, Duckie Doodums?” she asked in a voice like the running of sap in maple-sugar time.
“N-n-nothin’ but a drink of water, Honeybunch sweetness,” he stammered back.
[Illustration: “N-n-nothin’ but a drink of water”]
“You’re sure you ain’t mistook in your thirst and that it ain’t a suddint cravin’ for licker, and that you ain’t sort of p’intin’ down the waterspout for the Dutchman’s, Duckie Doodums?”
“Shorely not, Honeybunch darlin’,” he finally fetched up, though he was hardly breathing.
“Because your ma told me that you was given to somnambulasticatin’ in your sleep, and that I must keep you tied up nights or you’d wake up some mornin’ at the foot of a waterspout with your head bust open and a lot of good licker spilt out on the grass.”
“Don’t you love your Doodums anymore?” was all Dickie could find to say to this; but Honeybunch had too much on her mind to stop and swap valentines just then.
“You wouldn’t deceive your Honeybunch, would you, Duckie Doodums?”
“I shorely would not.”
“Well, don’t you do it, Duckie Doodums, because it would break my heart; and if you should break my heart I’d just naturally bust your head. Are you listenin’, Doodums?”
Doodums was listening.
“Then you come back to bed and stay there.”
Doodums never called his wife Honeybunch after that. Generally it was Kate, and sometimes it was Kitty, and when she wasn’t around it was usually Kitty-cat. But he minded better than anything I ever met on less than four legs.
Your affectionate father,
P.S.—You might tear up this letter.
From John Graham, at the Union Stock Yards, Chicago, to his son, Pierrepont, at Yemassee-on-the-Tallahassee. In replying to his father’s hint that it is time to turn his thoughts from love to lard, the young man has quoted a French sentence, and the old man has been both pained and puzzled by it.