“To prepare myself to bestow on him the thrashing of his life!” So saying, Ravenslee stretched lazily and finally got up. “Good morning, Mrs. Trapes!” said he.
“But where are ye going?” she demanded.
“To my peanuts,” he answered gravely. “‘Man is born to labour,’ you, know.”
“But it’s early yet.”
“But I have much to do—and she laughed at me for being a peanut man, did she, Mrs. Trapes—she frowned and flushed and stamped her pretty foot at me, did she?”
“She did so, Mr. Geoffrey!”
“I’m glad!” he answered. “Yes, I’m very glad she frowned and stamped her foot at me. By the way, I like that text in my bedroom.”
“Text?” said Mrs. Trapes, staring.
“‘Love one another,’” he nodded. “It is a very—very beautiful sentiment—sometimes. Anyway, I’m glad she frowned and stamped at me, Mrs. Trapes; you can tell her I said so if you happen to think of it when she comes home.” And Ravenslee smiled, and turning away, was gone.
“Well,” said Mrs. Trapes, staring at the closed door, “of all the—well, well!” Then she sighed, shook her head, and fell to washing up the breakfast things.
WHICH INTRODUCES JOE AND THE OLD UN
The clocks were striking nine as, according to his custom of late, Geoffrey Ravenslee trundled his barrow blithely along Thirty-eighth Street, halting now and then at the shrill, imperious summons of some small customer, or by reason of the congestion of early traffic, or to swear whole-heartedly and be sworn at by some indignant Jehu. At length he came to Eleventh Avenue and to a certain quarter where the whistle of a peanut barrow was seldom heard, and peanuts were a luxury.
And here, in a dismal, small street hard by the river, behold Ravenslee halt his gaily painted pushcart, whereat a shrill clamour arises that swells upon the air, a joyous babel; and forth from small and dismal homes, from narrow courts and the purlieus adjacent, his customers appear. They race, they gambol, they run and toddle, for these customers are very small and tender and grimy, but each small face is alight with joyous welcome, and they hail him with rapturous acclaim. Even the few tired-looking mothers, peeping from windows or glancing from doorways, smile and nod and forget awhile their weariness in the children’s delight, as Ravenslee, the battered hat cocked at knowing angle, proceeds to “business.” Shrill voices supplicate him, little feet patter close around him, small hands, eagerly outstretched, appeal to him. Anon rise shrieks and infantile crowings of delight as each small hand is drawn back grasping a plump paper bag—shrieks and crowings that languish and die away, one by one, since no human child may shriek properly and chew peanuts at one and the same time. And in a while, his stock greatly diminished, Ravenslee trundles off and leaves behind him women who smile still and small boys and girls who munch in a rapturous silence.