There will be no profit in following Mr. “Tiger” McQuirk through his further vagaries of that day until he comes to stand knocking at the door of Annie Maria Doyle. The goddess Eastre, it seems, had guided his footsteps aright at last.
“Is that you now, Jimmy McQuirk?” she cried, smiling through the opened door (Annie Maria had never accepted the “Tiger"). “Well, whatever!”
“Come out in the hall,” said Mr. McQuirk. “I want to ask yer opinion of the weather—on the level.”
“Are you crazy, sure?” said Annie Maria.
“I am,” said the “Tiger.” “They’ve been telling me all day there was spring in the air. Were they liars? Or am I?”
“Dear me!” said Annie Maria—“haven’t you noticed it? I can almost smell the violets. And the green grass. Of course, there ain’t any yet—it’s just a kind of feeling, you know.”
“That’s what I’m getting at,” said Mr. McQuirk. “I’ve had it. I didn’t recognize it at first. I thought maybe it was en-wee, contracted the other day when I stepped above Fourteenth Street. But the katzenjammer I’ve got don’t spell violets. It spells yer own name, Annie Maria, and it’s you I want. I go to work next Monday, and I make four dollars a day. Spiel up, old girl—do we make a team?”
“Jimmy,” sighed Annie Maria, suddenly disappearing in his overcoat, “don’t you see that spring is all over the world right this minute?”
But you yourself remember how that day ended. Beginning with so fine a promise of vernal things, late in the afternoon the air chilled and an inch of snow fell—even so late in March. On Fifth Avenue the ladies drew their winter furs close about them. Only in the florists’ windows could be perceived any signs of the morning smile of the coming goddess Eastre.
At six o’clock Herr Lutz began to close his shop. He heard a well-known shout: “Hello, Dutch!”
“Tiger” McQuirk, in his shirt-sleeves, with his hat on the back of his head, stood outside in the whirling snow, puffing at a black cigar.
“Donnerwetter!” shouted Lutz, “der vinter, he has gome back again yet!”
“Yer a liar, Dutch,” called back Mr. McQuirk, with friendly geniality, “it’s springtime, by the watch.”
Down South whenever any one perpetrates some particularly monumental piece of foolishness everybody says: “Send for Jesse Holmes.”
Jesse Holmes is the Fool-Killer. Of course he is a myth, like Santa Claus and Jack Frost and General Prosperity and all those concrete conceptions that are supposed to represent an idea that Nature has failed to embody. The wisest of the Southrons cannot tell you whence comes the Fool-Killer’s name; but few and happy are the households from the Roanoke to the Rio Grande in which the name of Jesse Holmes has not been pronounced or invoked. Always with a smile, and often with a tear, is he summoned to his official duty. A busy man is Jesse Holmes.