William coughed with a certain importance. “Do you remember,” he asked, “when you were married, how did you feel about it? Were you kind of nervous, or anything like that, beforehand?”
Mr. Genesis again passed a wavering hand across his troubled brow.
“I mean,” said William, observing his perplexity, “were you sort of shaky—f’rinstance, as if you were taking an important step in life?”
“Lemme see.” The old man pondered for a moment. “I felt mighty shaky once, I rickalect; dat time yalla m’latta man shootin’ at me f ’um behime a snake-fence.”
“Shootin’ at you!” Jane cried, stirred from her accustomed placidity. “Mr. Genesis! What did he do that for?”
“Nuff’m!” replied Mr. Genesis, with feeling. “Nuff’m in de wide worl’! He boun’ to shoot SOMEbody, an’ pick on me ’cause I ’uz de handies’.”
He closed his knife, gave the little boat a final scrape with the broken glass, and then a soothing rub with the palm of his hand. “Dah, honey,” he said—and simultaneously factory whistles began to blow. “Dah yo’ li’l’ steamboat good as I kin git her widout no b’iler ner no smokestack. I reckon yo’ pappy ’ll buy ’em fer you.”
Jane was grateful. “It’s a beautiful boat, Mr. Genesis. I do thank you!”
Genesis, the son, laid aside his tools and approached. “Pappy finish whittlin’ spang on ’em noon whistles,” he chuckled. “Come ’long, pappy. I bet you walk fas’ ‘nuff goin’ todes dinnuh. I hear fry-cakes ploppin’ in skillet!”
Mr. Genesis laughed loudly, his son’s words evidently painting a merry and alluring picture; and the two, followed by Clematis, moved away in the direction of the alley gate. William and Jane watched the brisk departure of the antique with sincere esteem and liking.
“He must have been sixteen,” said William, musingly.
“When?” Jane asked.
William, in deep thought, was still looking after Mr. Genesis; he was almost unconscious that he had spoken aloud and he replied, automatically:
“When he was married.”
Then, with a start, he realized into how great a condescension he had been betrayed, and hastily added, with pronounced hauteur, “Things you don’t understand. You run in the house.”
Jane went into the house, but she did not carry her obedience to the point of running. She walked slowly, and in that state of profound reverie which was characteristic of her when she was immersed in the serious study of William’s affairs.
She continued to be thoughtful until after lunch, when, upon the sun’s disappearance behind a fat cloud, Jane and the heavens exchanged dispositions for the time—the heavens darkened and Jane brightened. She was in the front hall, when the sunshine departed rather abruptly, and she jumped for joy, pointing to the open door. “Look! Looky there!” she called to her brother. Richly ornamented, he was descending the front stairs, his embellishments including freshly pressed white trousers, a new straw hat, unusual shoes, and a blasphemous tie. “I’m goin’ to get to sail my boat,” Jane shouted. “It’s goin’ to rain.”