“The saints forgive him,” Patty gurgled.
Later on in the darkness, Jimmie’s idea visited Mead and was received with some cordiality. And at some time later still, it must have been presented to Miss Perry, for the misanthropic Mead—no longer misanthropic—now boasts a massive and handsome wife whom he calls his Little Kitty. But the idea was originally Jimmie’s.
On the day before Christmas eve John Sedyard closed his desk, dismissed his two clerks and his stenographer two hours earlier than usual, and set out in quest of adventure and a present for his sister Edith. John Sedyard had a habit of succeeding in all he set forth to do but the complete and surprising success which attended him in this quest was a notch above even his high average.
Earlier in the month, his stenographer had secured the annual pledges of his affection for all the relatives, friends and dependants to whom he was in the habit of giving presents: all except his mother, his unmarried sister, Edith, who still lived at home, and his fiancee, Mary Van Plank. The gifts for these three, he had decided, must be of his own choice and purchase. He had provided for his mother and for Mary earlier in the week. Neither excitement nor adventure had attended upon the purchase of their gifts. Something for the house or the table was always the trick for elderly ladies who presided over large establishments and gave their whole souls to the managing of them. He bought for his mother a set of colonial silver candlesticks. For Mary, he bought a comb of gold—all gold, like her own lovely hair. The dark tortoise shell of the one she wore always seemed an incongruous note in her fair crown. But Edith was as yet unpresented, and it was on her account that Mr. Sedyard deserted his office and delighted his subordinates at three o’clock in the afternoon.
Edith was much more difficult than the other two had been. She was strong-minded, much given to churchwork and committees. Neither the home, as represented by the candlesticks, nor self-adornment as typified by the golden comb could be expected to appeal to her communistic, altruistic nature. And Sedyard, having experienced two inspirations, could think of nothing but combs and candlesticks. So he threw himself into the current, which swept along Broadway, trusting that some accident would suggest a suitable offering. Meanwhile, he revelled in the crowd, good-humored, holiday-making, holly-decked, which carried him uptown, past Wanamaker’s and Grace Church, swirled him across old “dead man’s curve,” and down the Fourteenth Street side of Union Square. Here the shops were smaller, not so overwhelming, and here he was stopped by seeing a red auction flag. Looking in over the heads of the assembled crowd, he saw that the auctioneer was holding up a feather-crowned hat and addressing his audience after the manner of his kind: