“Ain’t it the truth, though?” hissed The Author, with fury.
Mr. Johnson was saved from stammering explanations by the irruption of Beautiful Dog, who at sound of his voice had wriggled, and cringed, and fawned his way out of the shrubbery, cocking a wary eye to see that none of the Black family was around. Beautiful Dog rolled his eyes at his god, swung his tail, waggled his ears, made uncouth movements with his splay feet, and grinned from ear to ear. He was so utterly absurd that he claimed everybody’s amused attention.
“Why, old chap! You’re rather glad to see your friends, aren’t you?” the secretary said in his pleasant voice.
Beautiful Dog yelped with rapture, darted back into the shrubbery, and a moment later emerged and laid at his adored one’s feet all his treasure, a chewed slipper. He tried to say that precious as this gift undoubtedly was, he gave it willingly, joyfully. But scenting other white people too near, he backed off, and fled.
The Author’s eyes followed him.
“I wonder if I’d have been equal to that, myself, if I’d been born a nigger dog with an ingrained distrust of the white man?” he questioned. “Gad! it comes near being the real thing, Johnson!”
The secretary looked at the slipper lying at his feet: “I wonder where he found that, now?”
I was wondering the same thing, and so was Alicia.
“Let’s show Beautiful Dog the Chinese politeness of being decent enough not to accept his gift when he’s decent enough to offer it,” she suggested.
“Yes, throw it into the shrubbery and let him find it. That may raise white people somewhat in his estimation,” I added, hastily.
Instantly Mr. Jelnik picked it up and tossed it among the bushes. His action seemed the merest polite compliance with my request, and he barely glanced at the object he cast away. Yet it was really worth a second glance. Chewed, frayed, and torn, it had once been of finest red Morocco leather; and it was such a flat and heelless slipper as no native Hyndsville foot had ever worn. It was The Jinnee’s slipper.
Mrs. Cheshire Scarboro was far from the fool her cousin Sophronisba had credited her with being. She had sufficient cleverness to understand that Hyndsville wasn’t big enough to hold two factions. For a faction was forming with Hynds House as its storm-center, and it was one which threatened Mrs. Scarboro’s hitherto unquestioned sovereignty. Jimmy Scarboro himself, a most personable youth, was one of the ringleaders of revolt.
A weaker woman would have kept up the fight. Mrs. Scarboro understood that to spend one’s powers trying to hold an untenable position is a proof not of valor but of stupidity. She quietly declared a truce, sending out, in the form of an invitation to one of her sacred card-parties, tentative notice that she would consider joining forces. We recognized the olive-branch, seriously extended. The next move was ours.