“But how can that be?”
“Were you at Mrs. Gorson’s party?”
“Jean was there, though.”
“So was Mrs. Gunderson.”
The man’s face was a study worth the scrutiny. For a moment or two he uttered no word. The whole measurement of it was dawning on him. “The little rhinoceros-bird!” he said, softly.
The room was thronged, and there was a roar of cheers. The issue was decided beyond all question. The newspaper offices were flashing out the fact from illuminated windows. There were shouting crowds upon the streets. Hosts of people were grasping Harlson’s hand. He had little to say save to thank them in a perfunctory manner. He was in a hurry to get home.
When I dined with Harlson the next day I hoped to learn some details, but I was disappointed. Jean was herself a trifle radiant, perhaps, for she remarked to me, apropos of nothing, and in the most casual way, that men were dull, and Harlson had little to say. Judging from his general demeanor, though, and the expression on his face, I would have given something to know what he said to his wife when he reached home the night before. Something no bachelor, I imagine, could comprehend.
And before the year ended Harlson had the Ninth Ward so that it couldn’t bolt him under any ordinary circumstances.
THEIR FOOLISH WAYS.
It is, as I have said so often, but the simple story of two friends of mine I am trying to tell, but I wish I had more gift in that direction. I wish I could paint, just as an artist with brush and colors reproduces something, the home life in the house where much of my time was spent. I can but give a mechanical idea of what it was, but to me it was very pleasant.
A very shrewd politician Jean became, after the famous contest in which the Ninth Ward aided us to victory, and we were accustomed to consult her on the social bearings of many a struggle. In case she became too arbitrary on any occasion Grant had fallen into the way of calling the Ape, and asking him to remove her, whereupon the youth would carry off his small mother in his arms and insist that, as he put it, from a childhood expression, with a long “a,” she “’have herself.” There was ever this quality of the whimsical about life in this home. And I am inclined to believe that the world is better for such a flavor.
The children, were well grown now, the family was rounded out, and Grant’s mustache, gray when he was forty, was now grayer still, though Jean’s brown hair showed yet no glint of silver. I asked one day after dinner, when we two were idling and smoking in the library, and Jean was hovering about, if she hadn’t a gray hair yet, and Grant said no, without hesitation, though the lady herself seemed less assured. Then happened a curious thing, at least to me. I asked Grant how he knew so well, if even his wife, who, being a woman and fair to look upon, would be naturally apprehensive of any change in aspect, could not tell if a gray hair had come, and he but laughed at me. “Come here, Jean,” he said.