The Long Chance by Peter B. Kyne
Serenely indifferent to the fact that but a few hours' average running time intervenes between it and San Francisco on the north, and Los Angeles on the south, the little desert station of San Pasqual has always insisted upon remaining a frontier town.
One can pardon San Pasqual readily for this apparent apathy. Not to do so would savor strongly of an application of the doctrine of personal responsibility in the matter of a child with a club-foot. San Pasqual isn't responsible. It has nothing to be proud of, nothing to incite even a sporadic outburst of civic pride. It never had.
Here, in this story, occurs a description. In a narrative of human emotions, descriptions are, perhaps, better appreciated when they are dispensed with unless, as in the case of San Pasqual, they are worth the time and space and trouble. Assuming, therefore, that San Pasqual, for all its failings, is distinctive enough to warrant this, we will describe the town as it appeared early in the present decade; and, for that matter, will continue to appear, pending the day when they strike oil in the desert and San Pasqual picks itself together, so to speak, and begins to take an interest in life. Until then, however, as a center of social, scenic, intellectual and commercial activity, San Pasqual will never attract globe-trotters, folks with Pilgrim ancestors or retired bankers from Kansas and Iowa seeking an attractive investment in western real estate.
San Pasqual is such a weather-beaten, sad, abject little town that one might readily experience surprise that the trains even condescend to stop there. It squats in the sand a few miles south of Tehachapi pass, hemmed in by mountain ranges ocher-tinted where near by, mellowed by distance into gorgeous shades of turquoise and deep maroon. They are very far away, these mountains, even though their outlines are so distinct that they appear close at hand. The desert atmosphere has cast a kindly spell upon them, softening their hellish perspective into lines of beauty in certain lights. It is well that this is so, for it helps to dispel an illusion of the imaginative and impressionable when first they visit San Pasqual--the illusion that they are in prison.
The basin that lies between these mountains is the waste known as the Mojave desert. It stretches north and south from San Pasqual, fading away into nothing, into impalpable, unlovely, soul-crushing suggestions of space illimitable; dancing and shimmering in the heat waves, it seems struggling to escape. When the wind blows, the dust-devils play tag among the low sage and greasewood; the Joshua trees, rising in the midst of this desolation, stretch forth their fantastically twisted and withered arms, seeming to invoke a curse on nature herself while warning the traveler that the heritage of this land is death. There is a bearing down of one's spirit in the midst of all this loneliness and desolation that envelops everything; yet, despite the uncanny mystery of it, the sense of repression it imparts, of unconquerable isolation from all that is good and sweet and beautiful, there are those who find it possible to live in San Pasqual without feeling that they are accursed.
At the western boundary of the Mojave desert lies San Pasqual, huddled around the railroad water tank. It is the clearing-house for the Mojave, for entering or leaving the desert men must pass through San Pasqual. From the main-line tracks a branch railroad now extends north across the desert, through the eastern part of Kern county and up the Owens river valley into Inyo, although at the time Donna Corblay enters into this story the railroad had not been built and a stage line bore the brunt of the desert travel as far north as Keeler--constituting the main outlet from that vast but little known section of California that lies east of the Sierra Nevada range.
Hence, people entering or leaving this great basin passed through San Pasqual, which accounted for the town that grew up around the water tank; the little row of so-called "pool parlors," cheap restaurants, saloons and gambling houses, the post-office, a drug store, a tiny school-house with a belfry and no bell and the little row of cottages west of the main-line tracks where all the good people lived-- which conglomerate mass of inchoate architecture is all that saved San Pasqual from the ignominy of being classed as a flag station.
We are informed that the good people lived west of the tracks. East of the tracks it was different. The past tense is used with a full appreciation of the necessity for grammatical construction, for times have changed in San Pasqual, since it is no longer encumbered with the incubus that made this story possible--Harley P. Hennage, the town gambler and the worst man in San Pasqual.
Close to the main-line tracks and midway between both strata of society stood San Pasqual's limited social and civic center--the railroad hotel and eating-house. Here, between the arrival and departure of all through trains, the San Pasqualians met on neutral ground, experiencing mild mental relaxation watching the waitresses ministering to the gastronomic necessities of the day-coach tourists from the Middle West. At the period in which the action of this story takes place, however, most people preferred to find relief from the aching desolation of San Pasqual and its environs in the calm, restful, spiritual face of Donna Corblay.
Donna was the young lady cashier at the combination news stand, cigar and tobacco emporium and pay-as-you-leave counter in the eating-house. She was more than that. She was an institution. She was the day hotel clerk; the joy and despair of traveling salesmen who made it a point of duty to get off at San Pasqual and eat whether they were hungry or not; information clerk for rates and methods of transportation for all desert points north, south, east and west. She was the recipient of confidences from waitresses engaged in the innocent pastime of across- the-counter flirtations with conductors and brakemen. She was the joy of the men and the envy of the women. In fact, Donna was an exemplified copy of that distinctive personality with which we unconsciously invest any young woman upon whose capable shoulders must fall such multifarious duties as those already described; particularly when, as in Donna's case, they are accepted and disposed of with the gentle, kindly, interested yet impersonal manner of one who loves her little world enough to be a very distinct part of it; yet, seeing it in its true light, manages to hold herself aloof from it; unconsciously conveying to one meeting her for the first time the impression that she was in San Pasqual on her own sufferance--a sort of strayling from another world who had picked upon the lonely little desert town as the scene of her sphere of action for something of the same reason that prompts other people to collect postage stamps or rare butterflies.
It has already been stated that Donna Corblay was an institution. That is quite true. She was the mistress of the Hat Ranch.
This last statement requires elucidation. Just what is a hat ranch? you ask. It is--a hat ranch. There is only one Hat Ranch on earth and it may be found a half mile south of San Pasqual, a hundred yards back from the tracks. Donna Corblay owned it, worked it in her spare moments and made it pay.
You see, San Pasqual lies just south of Tehachapi pass, and about five days in every week, the year round, the north wind comes whistling down the pass. When it strikes the open desert it appears to become possessed of an almost human disposition to spurt and get by San Pasqual as quickly as possible. Hence, when the tourist approaching the station sticks his head out of the window or unwisely remains on the platform of the observation car, this forty-mile "zephyr," as they term it in San Pasqual, sighs joyously past him, snatches his headgear, whirls it down the tracks and deposits it at the western boundary of Donna's "ranch." This boundary happens to be a seven-foot adobe wall-- so the hat sticks there.
In the days when Donna lived at the Hat Ranch she would pause at this wall every evening on her way home from work long enough to gather up the orphaned hats. Later, after cleaning and brushing them, she would sell them to the boys up in San Pasqual. There was a wide variety of style, size and color in Donna's stock of hats, and fastidious indeed was he who could not select from the lot a hat to match his peculiar style of masculine beauty. And, furthermore: damned was he who so far forgot tradition and local custom as to purchase his "every-day" hat elsewhere. He might buy his Sunday hat in Bakersfield or Los Angeles and still retain caste, but his every-day hat--never! Such a proceeding would have been construed by Donna's admirers as a direct attack on home industry. In fact, one made money by purchasing his hats of Donna Corblay. If she never accepted less than one dollar for a hat, regardless of age, color, original price and previous condition of servitude, she never charged more. Hence, everybody was satisfied--or, if not satisfied at the time, all they had to do was to await the arrival of the next train. The "zephyrs" were steady and reliable and in San Pasqual it is an ill wind that doesn't blow somebody a hat.
In San Pasqual stray hats were not looked upon as flotsam and jetsam and subject to a too liberal interpretation of the "Losers-weepers- finders-keepers" rule. There was a dead-line for hats beyond which no gentleman would venture, for, after a hat had once blown beyond the town limits it was no longer a maverick and subject to branding, but on the other hand was the absolute, undeniable and legal property of Donna Corblay.
So much for the hats. As for the ranch itself, it wasn't, properly speaking, a ranch at all. It was a low, four-room adobe house with a lean-to kitchen built of boards. It had a dirt roof and iron-barred windows and in the rear there was a long rectangular patio with a fountain and a flower garden. In fact, the ranch was more of a fortress than a dwelling-place and was surrounded by an adobe wall which enclosed about an acre of the Mojave desert. Originally it had been the habitation of a visionary who wandered into San Pasqual, established the ranch and sunk an artesian well. With irrigation the rich alluvial soil of the desert will grow anything, and the original owner planned to raise garden-truck and cater to the local trade. He prospered, but being of that vast majority of humankind to whom prosperity proves a sort of mental hobble, he made up his mind one day to go prospecting. So he wrote out a notice, advertising the property for sale, and tacked it to a telegraph pole in front of the eating-house.
Alas for the frailty and suspicion of human nature! The self-centered and self-satisfied citizens of San Pasqual had condemned the vegetable venture from the start. It had been too radical a departure from the desert order of things, and the fact that a mere stranger had conceived the idea sufficed to damn the enterprise even with those who gloried in the convenience of fresh vegetables; while the fact that the vegetable culturist was now about to leave branded the experiment a failure and was productive of a chorus of "I told you so's." The announcement of the proprietor of the ranch that he would entertain offers on a property to which he had no title other than that entailed in the God- given right of every American citizen to squat on a piece of land until he is driven off, was received as a rare piece of humor. In disgust the founder of the Hat Ranch abandoned his vegetable business, loaded his worldly effects on two burros and departed, leaving the kitchen door wide open. He never returned.
In the course of time a young woman with a two-months-old daughter came to San Pasqual to accept the position of cashier in the eating-house. The old adobe ranch was still deserted--the kitchen door still wide open. It was the only vacant dwelling in San Pasqual, and the woman with the baby decided to move in. She hired a Mexican woman to clean the house, sent to Bakersfield for some installment furniture and to Los Angeles for some assorted seeds. About a week later a Cahuilla buck with his squaw alighted from a north-bound train and were met by the woman with the baby girl. That night the entire party took possession of the Hat Ranch.
That first mistress of the Hat Ranch was Donna Corblay's mother, so before we plunge into the heart of our story and present to the reader Donna Corblay as she appeared at twenty years of age behind the counter at the eating-house on the night that Bob McGraw rode into her life on his Roman-nosed mustang, Friar Tuck, a short history of those earlier years at the Hat Ranch will be found to repay the time given to its perusal.
For more than sixteen years after her arrival in San Pasqual, Donna's mother had presided behind the eating-house pay counter. She was quiet and uncommunicative--a handsome woman whose chief beauty lay in her eyes--wonderful for their brilliance and color and the shadows that lurked in them, like the ghosts of a sorrow ineffable. Up to the day she died nobody in San Pasqual knew very much about her--where she came from or why she came. She gave no confidences and invited none. In a general way it was known that she was a widow. Her husband had gone away and never returned, and it was a moot question in San Pasqual whether the Widow Corblay was grass or natural. Be that as it may, the fact remains that the absent one was missed and that his wife remained faithful to his memory, as several frontier gentlemen, who had sought her hand in marriage, might have testified had they so desired.
Mrs. Corblay lived for her child, and was accused of being wantonly and sinfully extravagant in her manner of dressing this child. She maintained and supported two Indian servants, which fact alone raised her a notch or two socially above the wives, sisters and daughters of the railroad men and local business men who lived in the cottages west of the tracks. A great many of these estimable females disliked her accordingly and charged her with "'puttin' on airs." Indeed, more than one of them had ventured the suggestion that Mrs. Corblay had a past, and that her child was its outward expression. Of course, they couldn't prove anything, but--and there the matter rested, abruptly. That "but" ended it, even as the tracks end at the bumper in a roundhouse. One felt the jar just the same.
Some hint of this provincial interest in her and her affairs must have reached Mrs. Corblay shortly after her arrival, so with true feminine obstinacy she declined to alleviate the abnormal curiosity which gnawed at the heart of the little community. She died as she had lived, considerable of a mystery, and San Pasqual, retaining its resentment of this mystery, visited its resentment upon Donna Corblay when Donna, in the course of time, gave evidence that she, also, possessed an ultra- feminine, almost heroic capacity for attending strictly to her own business and permitting others to attend to theirs.
Early in her occupation of the adobe ranch house Mrs. Corblay had inaugurated the hat industry, with fresh vegetables as a side line. The garden was presided over by a dolorous squaw who responded to the rather fanciful appellation of Soft Wind. Sam Singer, her buck, was a stolid, stodgy savage, with eyes like the slits in a blackberry pie. Originally the San Pasqualians had christened him "Psalm Singer," because of the fact that once, during a revival held by an itinerant evangelist in a tent next door to the Silver Dollar saloon, the buck had attended regularly, attracted by the melody of a little portable organ, the plaintive strains of which appeared to charm his heathen soul. An unorthodox citizen, in the sheer riot of his imagination, had saddled the buck with his new name. It had stuck to him, and since in the vernacular psalm singer was pronounced "sam singer," the Indian came in time to be known by that name and would answer to none other.
Donna grew up slightly different from the other little girls in San Pasqual. For instance: she was never allowed to play in the dirt of the main street with other children; she wore white dresses that were always clean, new ribbons in her hair; she always carried a handkerchief; she attended the little public school with the belfry but no bell, and her mother trained her in domestic science and the precepts of religion, which, lacking definite direction perhaps by reason of the fact that there was no church in San Pasqual, served, nevertheless, as a bulwark against the assaults of vice and vulgarity which, in a frontier town, are very thinly veiled. As a child she was neither precocious nor shy. From a rather homely, long-legged gangling girl of fourteen she emerged apparently by a series of swift transitions into a young lady at sixteen, giving promise of a beauty which lay, not so much in her physical attractions, which were generous, but in that easily discernible nobility of character which indicates beauty of soul--that superlative beauty which entitles its possessor to be alluded to as "sweet," rather than pretty or handsome. At the dawn of womanhood she was a lovely little girl, kind, affectionate, imaginative, distinctly virginal,
--a flower... born to blush unseen, And waste its sweetness on the desert air.
When Donna was nearly seventeen years old her mother died. It was the consensus of opinion that heart trouble had something to do with it. In fact, Mrs. Corblay had often complained of pains in her heart and was subject to fainting spells; besides which, there was that in her eyes which seemed to predicate a heartache of many years' standing. At any rate, she fainted at the eating-house one day and they carried her home. She passed away very quietly the same night, leaving an estate which consisted of Donna, the two Indian servants, and a quantity of coin in a teapot in the cupboard at the Hat Ranch which upon investigation was found to total the stupendous sum of two hundred and twenty-eight dollars and ninety-five cents.
There was no one except Donna to attend to the funeral arrangements, and for eight hours following her mother's death she was too distracted to think of anything but her great grief. Soft Wind prepared her mistress for the grave after a well-meant but primitive fashion, while Sam Singer squatted all morning in the sand in front of the compound and smoked innumerable cigarettes. Presently he got up, went to his own little cabin within the enclosure and was invisible for ten minutes. When he emerged he was clad in a new pair of "bull breeches," a white stiff-bosomed shirt without a collar but with a brass collar button doing duty nevertheless, while a red silk handkerchief, with the ends drawn through a ring fashioned from a horseshoe nail, enveloped his swarthy neck. He had rummaged through the stock of hats and appropriated a Grand Army hat with cord and tassels, and arrayed thus Sam Singer walked up the tracks to San Pasqual.
Arrived here Sam's very appearance heralded news of grave importance at the Hat Ranch. Such extraordinary and unwonted attention to dress could portend but one of two things--a journey or a funeral. Inasmuch, however, as Sam was coatless and Mrs. Corblay had been carried home ill the day before, San Pasqual allowed itself one guess and won.
To those who sought to question him, however, Sam Singer had nothing more polite than a tribal grunt. He proceeded directly to the Silver Dollar saloon, where he held converse with a man who seemed much interested in the news which Sam had to impart, for he nodded gravely several times, gave Sam fifty cents and a cigar and then hurried around to the public telephone station in "Doc" Taylor's drug store.
Five minutes later, by some mysterious person, Mrs. Daniel Pennycook, wife of the yardmaster, was informed over the telephone that Donnie Corblay's mother was dead.
"So I understand" replied Mrs. Pennycook volubly. "Poor thing! There was always somethin' so mysterious like about--"
The use of the word "like" was habit with Mrs. Pennycook. She rarely took a decided stand in anything except Mr. Pennycook, and always modified her modifying adjective with the word "like"; an annoying practice which had always rendered her an object of terror to Mrs. Corblay. To the latter it always seemed as if Mrs. Pennycook was desirous of saying something nasty, but lacked the courage to come out flatfooted with it.
Her unknown informant interrupted, or attempted to interrupt, but Mrs. Pennycook was now started on her favorite topic, in such haste that she failed to give the customary telephonic challenge:
"Who's speaking, please?"
She continued. "Yes, she was kinder quiet like any kept to herself like--"
"Well," said the unknown, "she's dead now, and that little daughter o' hers is all alone down there with her Indian woman. If you knew Mrs. Corblay was dead, why in blue blazes didn't you or some other woman in this heartless village go down there and comfort that child? I've asked three of your neighbors already, but they're washin' or dustin' or cookin' or somethin'."
"I was so terrible shocked like when I heard it--"
"Well, if the shock's over, for decency's sake, Mrs. Pennycook, go down to the Hat Ranch and keep that little girl comp'ny till this afternoon."
"Who's talkin'?" demanded Mrs. Pennycook belligerently.
"Who are you?"
For several seconds Mrs. Pennycook shot questions into the transmitter, but receiving no response she hung up, furious at having been denied the inalienable right of her sex to the last word. Shortly thereafter her worthy spouse, Dan Pennycook, came in for his lunch. To him Mrs. Pennycook imparted the tale of the strange man who had rung her up, demanding that she go down to the Hat Ranch and see Donnie Corblay. Pennycook's stupid good-natured face clouded.
"Then," he demanded, "why don't you do it? I've been workin' with that string of empties below town all mornin', an' if any woman in this charitable community passed me goin' to the Hat Ranch I didn't see her. It's a shame. Put on your other things right after lunch, Arabella, an' go down. I'll go with you."
"But the gall o' the man, askin' me to do this! I intended goin' anyhow, but him ringin' me up so sudden like, I--"
"My dear," said Mr. Pennycook, "he paid you a compliment."
"Humph" responded Mrs. Pennycook. Then she sniffed. She continued to sniff at intervals during the meal; she was still sniffing when later she joined her husband at the front gate and set off with him down the tracks to the Hat Ranch.
Arrived at the Hat Ranch Mrs. Pennycook saw at once that Donna was "too upset like" to have any of the details of her mother's funeral thrust upon her. Here was a situation which required the supervision of a calm, executive person--Mrs. Daniel Pennycook, for instance. At any rate Mrs. Pennycook decided to take charge. She was first on the scene and naturally the task was hers, not only as a matter of principle but also by right of discovery.
Now, under the combined attentions of Donna, Mrs. Corblay and Soft Wind, the house, while primitive, had, nevertheless, been made comfortable and kept immaculate. But there is a superstition rampant in all provincial communities which dictates that the first line of action to be pursued when there is a death in the family is to scrub the house thoroughly from cellar to garret, and Mrs. Pennycook had been inoculated with the virus of this superstition very early in life. She tucked up her skirts, seized a broom and a mop, rounded up Soft Wind and proceeded to produce chaos where neatness and order had always reigned.
It was at this juncture that Donna Corblay first gave evidence of having a mind of her own. She dried her tears and gently but firmly informed Mrs. Pennycook that the house had been thoroughly cleaned and scrubbed three days previous. She begged Mrs. Pennycook to desist. Mrs. Pennycook desisted, for if Donna couched her request in the language of entreaty, her young eyes flashed a stern command, and Mrs. Pennycook was not deficient in the intuition of her sex. So she composed herself in a rocking chair and by blunt brutal questioning presently ascertained that Mrs. Corblay had left her daughter two hundred and twenty-eight dollars and ninety-five cents.
This decided Mrs. Pennycook. She dilated upon the importance of having a clergyman come down from Bakersfield for the funeral, and suggested the services (at the metropolitan rates usually accorded such functionaries) of the local alleged quartette, which regularly made night hideous in San Pasqual's lone barber shop.
"It'll be kinder nice like, don't you think, Donna?" she queried.
Donna nodded dubiously.
"An' what was your poor dear mamma's church?" continued Mrs. Pennycook.
"She didn't have any" Donna answered, truthfully enough.
Again Mrs. Pennycook sniffed. "Well, then, I suppose Mr. Tillingham, of the Universal Church--"
Donna interrupted. "Mamma always knew she would be taken from me without warning, and she often told me not to give her an expensive funeral. I think she would have liked some services but I can't afford them."
"But, dearie, that's so barbarous like!" exclaimed the dismayed Samaritan. "There ought to be some one to say some prayers an' sing a hymn or two."
"Mamma always said she wanted to be buried simply. She thought it was sweet and beautiful to have services, but not essential. She was always skimping and saving for me, Mrs. Pennycook. She said I wasn't to wear mourning; that the--living needed more prayers than--the--dead. She-- she said that when she was gone God would be good to her and that--I-- she said I would need all the money we had."
"A-a-h-h-h!" breathed Mrs. Pennycook. She understood now. What a baggage the girl was! How heartless, begrudging her poor dead mother the poor comfort of a Christian burial, because she wanted the money for herself! Privately Mrs. Pennycook prophesied a bad ending for Donnie Corblay. She winked knowingly at her husband, then with truly feminine sarcasm:
"Well, at least, Donna, you'll have to buy a coffin an' a grave an' have the grave dug--"
"Sam Singer will attend to that. I'm going to bury mamma among the flowers at the end of our garden. I'll have a nice plain coffin made in San Pasqual--"
"Oh!" Mrs. Pennycook trembled.
"Mamma always said," Donna continued, "that undertakers preyed on the dead and traded in human grief, and for me not to engage one for her funeral. I'm going to do just what she told me to do, Mrs. Pennycook."
"Quite right, Donnie, quite right" interjected Mr. Pennycook. He was an impulsive creature and even under the hypnotic eye of Mrs. P. he sometimes broke out of bounds.
Daniel! At the mention of his Christian name Mr. Pennycook quivered. He knew he was in for it now, but he didn't care. It occurred to him that he might as well, to quote a homely proverb, "be hanged for a sheep as a lamb." He had visited the Hat Ranch to tender aid and sympathy, and despite the impending visitation of his wife's wrath he resolved to be reckless for once and deliver the goods in bulk.
"Your poor mother was a sensible woman, Donnie girl," he told the orphan, "an' you're a dutiful daughter to follow out her last wishes under these--er--deplorable circumstances--er--er--I mean it's a terrible hard thing to lose your mother, Donnie, an'--damme, Donnie, I'm sorry. 'Pon my word, I'm sorry."
Mrs. Pennycook's lips moved, and while no sound issued therefrom, yet did Dan Pennycook, out of his many years of marital submission, comprehend the unspoken sentence:
"Dan Pennycook, you're a fool!"
"Ya-a-h" growled Mr. Pennycook, thoroughly aroused now and striving to appear belligerent. His wife silenced him with a look; then turned to Donna. She had a duty to perform. She was a great woman for "principle" and the performance of what she conceived to be her duty. She was a well-meaning but misguided person ordinarily, who loved a fight with her own family on the broad general ground that it denoted firmness of character. Mrs. Pennycook was so long on virtue and character herself that half her life was spent disposing of a portion of these attributes to the less fortunate members of her household.
She entered now upon a calm yet stern discussion of the perfectly impossible proceeding of making a private cemetery out of one's back yard; but Mr. Pennycook had recovered his poise and decided that here was one of those rare occasions when it behooved him to declare himself--by the way, a very rare proceeding with Mr. Pennycook, he being known in San Pasqual as the original Mr. Henpeck.
"Mrs. Pennycook," he thundered, "you will please 'tend to your own business, ma'am. Donnie, my dear, I'm goin' to wire Los Angeles an' order up a heap o' big red roses on 25--damme, Mrs. Pennycook, what the devil are you lookin' at, ma'am?"
"Nothing" she retorted, although it is a fact that had she been Medusa a singularly life-like replica of Dan Pennycook in concrete might have been produced, upon which the posterity of San Pasqual might gaze and be warned of the dangers attendant upon mating with the Mrs. Pennycooks of this world.
Donna commenced to cry. Mr. Pennycook's sympathy, albeit checked and moderated to a great extent by the presence of his wife, was, nevertheless, the most genuine sample of that rare commodity which she had received up to that moment. His action had been so--brave--so spontaneous--he knew--he understood; Dan Pennycook had a soul. And besides he was going to wire for some red roses--and O, how scarce were red roses in San Pasqual!
"O Mr. Pennycook, dear Mr. Pennycook" she wailed, and sought instant refuge on his honest breast. She placed her arms around his neck and cried, and Mr. Pennycook cried also, until his single Sunday handkerchief was used up--whereat he pleaded dumbly with his wife for her handkerchief--and was refused. So, like some great blubbering boy, he used his fists, while Mrs. Pennycook looked coldly on, working her lower lip and the tip of her nose, rabbit-fashion, for all the world like one who, having anticipated a sniff of the spices of Araby, has detected instead a shocking aroma of corned beef and cabbage.
It was a queer tableau, indeed; Donna weeping on Mr. Pennycook's breast, when every instinct of her sex, even the vaguest acceptance of tradition and custom, dictated that she should have wept on Mrs. Pennycook's breast. Mrs. Pennycook realized the incongruity of the situation and was shrewd enough to attribute it to a strong aversion to her on the part of Donna Corblay. She resolved to make them both pay for her humiliation--Dan, within the hour, Donna whenever the opportunity should occur.