“Was he looking straight at you when he ordered you from the room?”
“Straight as he could.”
“Well, let us try and think it was the beard. And that reminds me, son, that it’s got to come off, and right away. When Todd comes in he’ll find my razors and—”
“No—I’ll look up a barber.”
“Not down in this part of the town,” exclaimed St. George with a suggestive grimace.
“No—I’ll go up to Guy’s. There used to be an old negro there who looked after us young fellows when our beards began to sprout. He’ll take care of it all right. While I’m out I’ll stop and send Todd back. I’m going to end his apprenticeship to-day, and so he’ll help you dress. Nothing like getting into your clothes when you’re well enough to get out of bed; I’ve done it more than once,” and with a pat on his uncle’s shoulder and the readjustment of the blanket, he closed the door behind him and left the room.
“Everything is working fine, auntie,” he cried gaily as he passed the old woman who was hanging out the last of her wash. “I’ll be back in an hour. Don’t tell him yet—” and he strode out of the yard on his way uptown.
Intruders of all kinds had thrust their heads between the dripping, slightly moist, and wholly dry installments of Aunt Jemima’s Monday wash, and each and every one had been assailed by a vocabulary hurled at them through the creaky gate, and as far out as the street—peddlers; beggars; tramps; loose darkies with no visible means of support, who had smelt the cooking in the air—even goats with an acquired taste for stocking legs and window curtains—all of whom had either been invited out, whirled out, or thrown out, dependent upon the damage inflicted, the size of the favors asked, or the length of space intervening between Jemima’s right arm and their backs. In all of these instances the old cook had been the broom and the intruders the dust. Being an expert in its use the intruders had succumbed before they had gotten through their first. sentence. In the case of the goat even that privilege was denied him; it was the handle and not the brush-part which ended the argument. To see Aunt Jemima get rid of a goat in one whack and two jumps was not only a lesson in condensed conversation, but furnished a sight one rarely forgot—the goat never!
This morning the situation was reversed. It was Aunt Jemima who came flying upstairs, her eyes popping from her head, her plump hands flattened against her big, heaving bosom, her breath gone in the effort to tell her dreadful news before she should drop dead.
“Marse George! who d’ye think’s downstairs?” she gasped, bursting in the door of his bedroom, without even the customary tap. “Oh, bless Gawd! dat you’se outen dat bed! and dressed and tryin’ yo’ po’ legs about the room. He’s comin’ up. Got a man wid him I ain’t neber see befo’. Says he’s a-lookin’ fer somebody! Git in de closet an’ I’ll tell him you’se out an’ den I’ll run an’ watch for Marse Harry at de gate. Oh, I doan’ like dis yere bus’ness,” and she began to wring her hands.