She had expected her mother, if she joined them, to take her place as a visitor and grow old in idleness. Instead of that, Mrs. Joliffe had furnished the flat to her own taste and was running it to her own satisfaction. She had made herself more necessary to Bailey than his own wife. And the girl's attempts to supplant her with a servant only established her more securely in the kitchen; for Hetty maintained her determination not to work there at all, and Mrs. When Hetty claimed the right to do the shopping, at least, she was invited to "go ahead an' do it, then.
She went to bed almost weeping with anger. Joliffe counseled him—and Hetty overheard her through the open door—"she 'll come out of her tantrums. Two fer 'his heels. He tried letting her be and found it a poor plan. She let him be. She withdrew herself ostentatiously from the household life, was silent at the table, and turned her back on him when they were alone. She sat all day by herself, amid the furnishings of a room that she hated, brooding upon the incidents of a life that she despised.
Bailey's manner during his courtship had flattered her by a tacit acknowledgment that she was something finer and better than he. He had fallen in love with her "citified" sophistication. She had not allowed him to see much of her mother, of whose simplicity and commonness she had been ashamed. She had never let him know that her father had been a butcher; she had intended to leave all that sort of thing behind her when she married.
She had known that Bailey was a trusted man at Altgelt's, with a future before him, and she had counted on rising with him out of reach of her past. She had vaguely intended to subdue her mother and put her into the background of her new life. And, to Hetty's mind, it was the mother who had wrecked every plan. Had n't she told Bailey about her husband—"God rest his bones.
Had n't she destroyed his awed respect for his wife.
It 's the part of the house you 're most int'rested in. His reproof put her on her dignity. She saw that she was lowering herself still further in his regard; and thereafter she said nothing. She became self-contained, haughty, silent, and altogether impossible.
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No endearments could draw an explanation from her, and no impatience provoke her to a retort. She lived a silent protest against the whole situation, and Bailey rapidly found himself reduced to a state of worried misery. He could no longer enjoy his evening game of cribbage in the dining-room; and yet he played, because he did not wish to hurt Mrs. He could not enjoy his meals, but he had to pretend, for Mrs. Joliffe's sake, that he did enjoy them.
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She exerted herself to please him, performed miracles in cookery, and tried to keep the table lively with an indomitable good nature. But she did not understand what was wrong. She thought there had been some belated lover's quarrel between the two, and she considered it the part of wisdom to ask no questions.
She was cheerfully happy herself, worked singing, read the newspapers in her rocking-chair, and kept to her own end of the flat. Heaven give 'm rest! She played her part until it was not humanly possible to play it longer. Then she scolded her daughter and got nothing but a malevolent look. She advised Bailey to take his wife to the theater at night, and he did so, though he fell asleep in his seat. Then he took her to Coney Island on a Saturday afternoon, and came back desperately discouraged—for the girl had told him calmly that she would not live in the flat more than a month longer; that as soon as the cool weather came, she would return to work in some shop.
He sat with his cards in his hands, too worried to play his game. He gazed at nothing, with an empty pipe in his mouth. If you men had more children, yuh 'd be havin' less trouble with yer wives. He looked at her as if he were going to tell her, flushed self-consciously, and went on with his game. That look gave her her first suspicion of the truth.
She lay awake a long time in the night, "puttin' two an' two togither," as she would have said. When she saw her daughter in the morning, she understood. Let her do things her own way if she wants to. She 'll learn as well by tryin' as by bein' told! She understood why Bailey did not play cribbage with her that night—though he pretended that it was because he had a headache. He spent the evening in the other end of the flat, with the doors closed against her so that she might not hear what Hetty was saying.
The old woman darned his socks and assured herself that it was natural in the girl to want him to herself.
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She overlooked his guiltily apologetic manner toward her in the morning, and said nothing to Hetty when they were left alone together. The girl swept the parlor herself that day, rearranged the furniture, and took down all the calendars—as Mrs. Jolifle discovered in the evening, when Bailey and his wife had gone off to a roof-garden. She found her cherished decorations thrown together in a closet, and she put them away in her trunk, her lips twitching with a pained indignation. The insult was two-edged, though it hurt her most by impugning her taste as a housekeeper. She was up early and had breakfast ready for Bailey in the morning, with a cheerful countenance that changed, for a moment only, when she understood from his long and shamefaced explanation that he was going to take Hetty out to dinner in a restaurant and would not be home to the meal.
Here was an insinuation that her cooking was not all that it might be! He invited her to come with them, but she knew better than to accept. Hetty's manner during the day seemed to have a suggestion of silent triumph in it, but nothing was said. The mother could not speak of what was in her thought, and the daughter would not. Joliffe could only wait and watch, hoping that what seemed to her an unreasonable anger in the girl would abate for want of provocation. But Hetty was determined to have her mother understand that she could not be ignored and put aside in her own house; and as her mother yielded, bewildered and hurt, Hetty pressed on to the realization of the plans that she had made before her marriage.
It became one of those tragi-comedies of household life that develop day by day, week after week, in the small incidents of domestic routine. Bailey did his best to smooth over the situation, but he was no diplomat. Joliffe to play cribbage with him, once, tentatively; but he was evidently relieved when she did not accept.
He allowed Hetty to send her own clothes to the laundry, and then his, and finally the household linen. He even ate less heartily what Mrs. Joliffe cooked, and he was content when she accepted these slights without appearing to notice them. He let Hetty take down the curtains in the parlor and put up others more to her taste.
He gave her money to buy some new furniture, and she put away the rugs. Joliffe, sitting quiet and humiliated in the dining-room, heard the girl, now, singing as she worked. By this time, of course, Hetty was no longer silent at the table, except when she and her mother were alone. When Bailey was there, she was quite talkative and affable, and affected to ignore what looked like ill humor in the old woman. She had persuaded him that tea gave him indigestion; she did not drink it herself; and her mother had none to pour but her own.
Joliffe was left in the place of the outsider. As a final touch, Hetty helped the vegetables; and there was something hard to define in the way in which she passed her mother's plate. It was perhaps unconscious and unintentional; but it made Mrs. Joliffe feel that the hand of a slighting charity was extended to her with the food. I 'll go away an' live by mesilf. The prospect of a lonely and useless old age frightened her even more than poverty.
She wanted work to do; and here was work, if Hetty would only let her do it. I 'm that worried I 've got the heartburn. She did not appreciate this desire of a young life to mold its own circumstances, direct its own plans, achieve its new ambitions. She saw herself thrust aside by a filial jealousy that seemed to her the most horrible ingratitude, unnatural and heart-breaking; and this jealousy, having begun in ill-temper, continued in that aspect, because the girl was best able to justify herself in her own eyes by preserving her resentment against her mother, even after Mrs.
Joliffe had been reduced to the meekness of despair. At last Hetty happened to say, one day at dinner: Bailey remained silent, and his silence piqued her. She glanced at her mother and took the old woman's set lips as an unspoken challenge. She remembered how humiliatingly she had been defeated on this point once, and she set herself to carry it now—to make her husband say that she might have a servant if she wished, although she did not intend to get one. She complained of the need of some one to run out to the grocer's, or to answer the door.
She found frequent occasions for remembering that her neighbor had a servant. And although there was no room in the flat for a maid, unless she turned her mother out—and she saw that her mother regarded the matter in this light—she persisted and insisted and took every opportunity to push the question home.
Joliffe told her son-in-law, with tears in her eyes. She 'll need me bedroom fer the gurl. Bailey remonstrated privately with his wife. She does n't get things half done, and the stuff she cooks makes me sick. She had, in fact, been feeling unwell, complaining of attacks of faintness and eating very little.
We don't need a girl and we can't afford one. Leave the poor old woman alone. The house was a good deal happier as it was—besides being cheaper. She went out to a dairy restaurant for luncheon and bought some food in a delicatessen shop and hid it in her trunk. She ate nothing for dinner except some tapioca pudding, which she had made herself, and it was so badly cooked that it disagreed with her. She was ill in the morning, refused to have her breakfast brought to her in bed, and sent Bailey to his work, to worry about her.
Her mother came to see her at mid-day with a bowl of chicken broth and some buttered toast.
Joliffe put the food on the dresser and went to her room to pack her small belongings. I 'll have to get work. I 'll have to get work somewhere, but I 'll go to the poorhouse before I 'll stan' fer this.
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I 've slaved fer her all me life, an' I 'd work fer her now, till the flesh dropped off me fingers, if she wanted me. I 'll go—an' be danged to her!
I 'm glad it 's him that 's got to stay an' not me. She stripped her little room, packed her pictures of the saints, her holy-water font, and her photographs. She even began to tie up her bedding in a bundle, but left it until she should see Bailey. February 10, Sold by: Share your thoughts with other customers. Write a customer review. Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more about Amazon Giveaway.
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