“See, she asks me. What good does it do me if I see or I don’t see when his mother gets her mind made up?”
“But does Nicky so much as look at her? That night at Leo’s birthday I was ashamed the way he right away had an engagement after supper, when she sat next to him and all through the meal gave him the white meat off her own plate. Why, the flowered chiffon dress that girl had on cost ten dollars a yard if it cost a cent. Did Nicky so much as look at her? No.”
“Too many birthdays in this family.”
“I notice you eat them when they are set down in front of you!”
“Ha! That’s fine! A new dish. Boiled birthdays with horseradish sauce.”
“All right, then, the birthday parties. Don’t be so exactly with me. Many a turn in his grave you yourself have given the man who made the dictionary. I got other worries than language. If I knew where he is—to-night—”
Rather contentedly, while Sara cleared and tidied, Mosher snapped open his evening paper, drawing his spectacles down from the perch of his forehead.
“You women,” he said, breathing out with the male’s easy surcease from responsibility—“you women and your worries. If you ’ain’t got ’em, you make ’em.”
“Heigh-ho!” sighed out Sara, presently, having finished, and diving into her open workbasket for the placidity her flying needle could so cunningly simulate. “Heigh-ho!”
But inside her heart was beating over and over again to itself, rapidly:
This is where he was:
In the Forty-fifth-Street flat of Miss Josie Drew, known at various times and places as Hattie Moore, Hazel Derland, Mrs. Hazel, and—But what does it matter.
At this writing it was Josie Drew of whom more is to be said of than for.
Yet pause to consider the curve of her clay. Josie had not molded her nose. Its upward fling was like the brush of a perfumed feather duster to the senses. Nor her mouth. It had bloomed seductively, long before her lip stick rushed to its aid and abetment, into a cherry at the bottom of a glass for which men quaffed deeply. There was something rather terrifyingly inevitable about her. Just as the tide is plaything of the stars, so must the naughty turn to Josie’s ankle have been complement to the naughty turn of her mind.
It is not easy for the woman with a snub nose and lips molded with a hard pencil to bleed the milk of human kindness over the frailties of the fruity chalice that contained Miss Drew. She could not know, for instance, if her own gaze was merely owlish and thin-lashed, the challenge of eyes that are slightly too long. Miss Drew did. Simply drooping hers must have stirred her with a none-too-nice sense of herself, like the swell of his biceps can bare the teeth of a gladiator.