“You poor thing!” whispered Aunt Agatha in hysterical sympathy. “You’re as pale as a ghost. I don’t wonder—”
But Jokai of Vienna was already bolting wildly through the street door and down the steps. Aunt Agatha burst into aggrieved tears.
“I don’t in the least know what it’s all about,” she sniffed, greatly frightened, “but what with the immigrant bolting out of the house in his shirt sleeves without so much as a word of thanks—such a nice distinguished fellow as he was, too, for all he smelt of liquor!—and Carl nowhere in sight—and a fat young man, with a hairy chest exposed, sleeping on a whiskey bottle and snoring like a prisoner file, it does seem most mysterious—that’s a fact! And my knees have folded up and I can’t budge. Mother’s knees used to fold up this way, too. God bless my soul!” wept the unfortunate lady. “I do wish I were dead.”
With a desperate effort Aunt Agatha unfolded her knees sufficiently to bear her weight and turning, screamed wildly. Hunch Dorrigan was stealing catlike down the stairs, his bloated vicious face leering threateningly at her over the railing.
“You old she-wolf!” roared that elegant young man. “Where’s His Nibs?”
Aunt Agatha moistened her dry lips and, gurgling fearfully, fainted. When at length she became conscious again. Hunch, glowering fiercely, was returning from a futile chase. With a resentful flash of brutality he towered suddenly above her and began to curse. Aunt Agatha, bristling, sat up.
“Don’t you dare speak to me like that after breathing vulgar liquor fumes all over my niece’s house and tying up that nice foreign gentleman,” she quavered weakly. “Don’t you dare! I live in this house, young man, and Carl will see to it that I’m protected. He always has. He’s very good to me.”
Hunch glowered sullenly at her, fearful, in the face of her relationship to Carl, of committing still another unforgivable offense.
“I once knew a stout young man with a glass eye,” she gulped with increasing courage, “and he was hanged by the neck until he was dead—quite dead—and then they cut his body down and his relatives took it away in a cart and on the way home it came to life—”
Aunt Agatha halted abruptly, vaguely conscious that this somewhat felicitous ending to the tragedy, as an object lesson to Hunch, left much to be desired.
“Leave the house!” she commanded with shrill magnificence, for all her hair and dress were awry, and her round face flushed. “Leave the house.”
Hunch shrugged and obeyed. It was nearly noon and there was no single east-side acquaintance—no, not even Link Murphy, the terrible—whom he feared as he feared Carl Granberry.
Weeping, Aunt Agatha watched him go.
THE YOUNG MAN OF THE SEA