She took the two pillows off her bed, secured two huge bath-towels from her bath-room by way of a mattress and a coverlet; and with a last passionate glance at the splendors of her wedding-frock, and never a thought for the unknown groom because of whom she was to don it, the bride switched off her light, curled herself up like a cat, and in five minutes was sound asleep on the floor.
THE DEAR DAM-FOOL
“Dis place,” said Emma Campbell, as the snaggle-toothed sky-line of New York unfolded before her staring eyes, “ain’t never growed up natchel out o’ de groun’; it done tumbled down out o’ de sky en got busted uneven in de fall.”
Clinging to the bird-cage in which her cat Satan crouched, she further remarked, as the taxi snaked its sinuous way toward the quarters which a friendly waiter on the steamship had warmly recommended to her:
“All I scared ob is, dat dis unforchunit cat ’s gwine to lose ’is min’. Seein’ places like dis is ’nough to make any natchel cat run crazy.”
Whereupon Emma relapsed into a colossal silence. She was fed up on surprises and they were palling upon her palate, which fortunately wasn’t down. Things had been happening so fast that she couldn’t keep step with them. To begin with, Peter had preferred to come north by sea, and although Emma had been raised on the coast, although she was used to the capricious tide-water rivers which this morning may be lamb-like and to-night raging lions, although she had crossed Caliboga Sound in rough weather and been rolled about like a ninepin, that had been, so to speak, near the shore-line. This was different: here was more water than Emma had thought was in the entire world; and she had been assured that this wasn’t a bucketful to what she was yet to see! Emma fell back upon silent prayer.
Then had come this astounding city jutting jaggedly into the clouds, and through whose streets poured in a never-ceasing, turgid flow all the peoples of the earth. And, more astounding than waterful sea and peopleful city, was the last, crowning bit of news: Peter was going to be married! And he didn’t know the young lady he was to marry, except that she was a Miss Anne Simms. He knew no more about his bride than she, Emma, knew.
That was all Emma needed to reduce her to absolute befuddlement. When food and drink were placed before her, she partook of both, mechanically. If one spoke to her, she stared like a large black owl. And when Peter had driven away in the taxi, leaving her for the time being in the care of a highly respectable colored family, whose children, born and raised in New York, looked upon the old South Carolina woman as they might have looked upon a visitor from Mars, Emma shut and locked her door, took the cat out of his cage, cuddled him in her arms, tried to projeck,—and couldn’t. The feel of Satan’s soft, warm body comforted her inexpressibly.