He was going to accept. “I shall be—” he had begun, in tones of gratification, when in one instant his face was stricken with complete dismay. “I had forgotten,” he said; and this time he was gone indeed, and in a hurry most apparent. It resembled a flight.
What was the matter now? You will naturally think that it was an appointment with his ladylove which he had forgotten; this was certainly my supposition as I turned again to the front door. There stood one of the waitresses, glaring with her white eyes half out of her black face at the already distant back of John Mayrant.
“Oh!” I thought; but, before I could think any more, the tall, dreadful boarder—the lady whom I secretly called Juno—swept up the steps, and by me into the house, with a dignity that one might term deafening.
The waitress now muttered, or rather sang, a series of pious apostrophes. “Oh, Lawd, de rampages and de ructions! Oh, Lawd, sinner is in my way, Daniel!” She was strongly, but I think pleasurably, excited; and she next turned to me with a most natural grin, and saying, “Chick’n’s mos’ gone, sah,” she went back to the dining room.
This admonition sent me upstairs to make as hasty a toilet as I could.
Each recent remarkable occurrence had obliterated its predecessor, and it was with difficulty that I made a straight parting in my hair. Had it been Miss Rieppe that John so suddenly ran away to? It seemed now more as if the boy had been running away from somebody. The waitress had stared at him with extraordinary interest; she had seen his bruise; perhaps she knew how he had got it. Her excitement—had he smashed up his official superior at the custom house? That would be an impossible thing, I told myself instantly; as well might a nobleman cross swords with a peasant. Perhaps the stare of the waitress had reminded him of his bruise, and he might have felt disinclined to show himself with it in a company of gossiping strangers. Still, that would scarcely account for it—the dismay with which he had so suddenly left me. Was Juno the cause—she had come up behind me; he must have seen her and her portentous manner approaching—had the boy fled from her?
And then, his fierce outbreak about taking orders from a negro when I was moralizing over the misfortune of marrying a jackass! I got a sort of parting in my hair, and went down to the dining room.
Juno was there before me, with her bonnet, or rather her headdress, still on, and I heard her making apologies to Mrs. Trevise for being so late. Mrs. Trevise, of course, sat at the head of her table, and Juno sat at her right hand. I was very glad not to have a seat near Juno, because this lady was, as I have already hinted, an intolerable person to me. Either her Southern social position or her rent (she took the whole second floor, except Mrs. Trevise’s