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Chapter 3


McIlheny: "And are ye the mahn that's after takun' my wife for yer cuke?"

Mrs. McIlheny, indicating Campbell, absorbed in his magazine: "And there's the other wan I saw jokun' wid um, and puttun' um up to it."

McIlheny, after a swift glance at Campbell's proportions and self-possession: "That's what ye're after thinkun', Mary; but I haven't got annything to do with what ye're after thinkun'. All I wannt to know is what this mahn meant by preshumin' to speak to a lady he didn't know, and takun' her for a cuke." To Roberts: "Will ye tell me that, ye—"

Roberts, in extreme embarrassment: "Yes, yes, certainly; I shall be very glad to explain, if you'll just step here to the corner. We're attracting attention where we are—"

McIlheny: "Attintion! Do ye suppose I care for attintion, when it's me wife that's been insulted?" He follows Roberts up, with Mrs. McIlheny, as he retires to the corner where she had been sitting, out of the way of the people coming and going. Campbell, after a moment, closes his magazine, and joins them.

Roberts: "Insulted? By no manner of means! Nothing was further from my thoughts. I—I—can explain it all in a moment, my dear sir, if you will have patience; I can indeed. I have the highest respect for the lady, and I'm quite incapable of offering her an affront. The fact is—I hardly know how to begin—"

McIlheny: "Go ahn, sor; or I'll have to do the beginnun' meself, pretty soon." He shifts himself from one foot to another with a saltatory briskness.

Roberts: "The fact is, my wife had engaged a cook, up-town, and she had sent her down here to meet me, and go out with me to our summer place at Weston."

McIlheny: "An' fwhat has all that rigamarole to do wid your speakin' to a lady ye'd never been inthrojuced to? Fwhat had yer wife's cuke to do with Mrs. McIlheny?"

Roberts: "Why, I didn't know the cook by sight, you see. My wife had engaged her up-town, and appointed her to meet me here, without reflecting that I had never seen her, and wouldn't know who she was, when I did see her; she partly expected to be here herself, and so I didn't reflect, either."

McIlheny, with signs of an amicable interest: "An' she lift ye to mate a lady ye never had seen before, and expicted ye to know her by soight?"

Roberts: "Precisely."

McIlheny, smiling: "Well, that's loike a wooman, Mary; ye can't say it ain't."

Mrs. McIlheny, grinning: "It's loike a mahn, too, Mike, by the same token."

McIlheny: "Sure it's no bad joke on ye, sor."

Campbell, interposing: "I was having my laugh at him when your good lady here noticed us. You see, I know his wife—she's my sister—and I could understand just how she would do such a thing, and—ah, ha, ha, ha, ha! Ha, ha, ha! I don't think I shall ever get over it."

McIlheny: "Sure it is good! Hu, hu, hu, hu! Mary, it's what ye'd call a bull, if it was Irish, I'm thinkun'; an' it's no bad bull as it is, my dear."

Mrs. McIlheny, laughing: "Ye're right there, Mike. It's as fine a bull as ever there was."

Campbell: "And my friend here insisted on going over and speaking to the lady, in hopes she could help him out of the difficulty. I suppose he bungled it; he only wanted to ask her if she'd seen a cook here, who had an appointment to go out of town with a gentleman. I'd been joking him about it, and he thought he must do something; and I fancy he made a mess of it. He was a good deal worked up. Ha, ha, ha! Ah, ha, ha, ha!" Mr. and Mrs. McIlheny join in his laugh, and finally Roberts himself.

The Colored Man who calls the Trains, coming and going: "Cars for Auburndale, Riverside, Pine Grove, and Newton Lower Falls. Express to Auburndale, Track No. 7."

Mrs. McIlheny: "There's our train. Mike! Come!"

McIlheny: "So 'tis, Mary! Well, I'm hawpy to make yer acquaintance, gentlemen; and if ye're ever in the City Hahl when the Council is sittun', and ye'll send in yer names to Mike McIlheny, I'll be pl'ased to show ye ahl the attintion in me power. Ye must excuse me now; we're jist runnun' out to the Fahls to pass Sunday at a cousin's of Mrs. McIlheny's." He snakes hands with Roberts and Campbell, and runs out, followed by his wife.

William Dean Howells

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