“They’ll be ample, and—thank you, dear Mrs. Trapes!”
HOW THE OLD UN AND CERTAIN OTHERS HAD TEA
“Old Un,” said Joe, halting his aged companion in the middle of the second flight to wag a portentous finger, “Old Un, mind this now—if there should ‘appen to be cake for tea, don’t go makin’ a ancient beast of yourself with it—no slippin’ lumps of it into your pocket on the sly, mind, because if I ketch ye at it—”
“Don’t be ’arsh, Joe, don’t be ‘arsh! Cake comes soft t’ me pore old teef.”
“An’ mind this again—if there should be any jam about, no stickin’ ye wicked old fingers into it an’ lickin’ ’em behind my back.”
“You lemme an’ the jam alone, Joe; it’s a free country, ain’t it?—very well, then!”
“Free country be blowed! You mind what I say, you venerable old bag of iniquity, you!”
“’Niquity yerself!” snarled the Old Un, and snapping bony finger and thumb under Joe’s massive chin, turned and went on up the stairs, his smart straw hat cocked at a defiant angle, his brilliant shoes creaking loudly at every step.
“Oh, Gorramighty!” he panted, halting suddenly on the fifth landing to get his breath, “these perishin’ stairs ’as ketched my wind, Joe; it’s worse ‘n th’ treadmill! Is there many more of ’em?”
“Only six flights!” nodded Joe grimly.
“Six!” wailed the Old Un. “Lord—it’ll be the death o’ me!”
“Well, it’s about time you was dead,” nodded Joe.
“Dead ye’self!” snarled the old man. “I’m a better figger of a man than ever you was—”
“An’ you would come,” continued Joe serenely, as he deftly resettled the old fellow’s sporty bow-tie. “You fair plagued me to bring ye along, didn’t ye, old packet o’ vindictiveness?”
“Well, an’ here I am, Joe, an’ here I mean t’ stay—no more climbin’ fer me; I’m tired, me lad, tired!” Saying which, the Old Un spread his handkerchief on a convenient stair and proceeded to seat himself thereon with due regard for his immaculately creased trousers.
“Well,” growled Joe, “of all the perverse old raspers that ever I did see—”
“That’s enough, Joe, that’s enough!” exclaimed the Old Un, fanning himself with his rakish hat. “Jest bend down and flick the dust off me shoes with your wipe, like a good lad, will ye? That’s the worst o’ these ‘ere patent leathers; they looks well, but they sure ketches th’ dust, Joe, they ketches the dust oncommon bad. So jest give ’em a flick over—me pore old back’s too stiff t’ let me reach ’em, what wi’ me rheumatiz an’ a floatin’ kidney or so—”
“Kidneys!” snarled Joe, drawing out a large bandanna handkerchief and polishing the old man’s natty shoes until they shone resplendent. “What’s the matter with ye blessed kidneys now?”
“Don’t I tell ye—they floats, Joe, they floats!”
“Float!” growled Joe. “Float—where to?”