Joseph C. Lincoln
posted April 2007
Among the Humorists and After Dinner Speakers. A new collection of humorous stories and anecdotes. Vol. III. Selected and arranged by William Patten (1868-1936). New York: PF Collier & Son. 1909. pp. 3-22
Copyright 1908 by The Ridgway Company
The story is part of Lincoln's "Old Home House" series of stories, but is not in that book.
THE SEER AND THE SERVANT
BY JOSEPH C. LINCOLN
"Yup," says Effie, bobbin' her head so emphatic that the sky-blue ribbon pennants on her black hair flapped like a loose tops'l in a gale of wind. "Yup," says she, "I b'lieve it just as much as I b'lieve anything. How could I help it when he told me so much that has come true already? He said I'd seen trouble, and the dear land knows that's so! and that I might see more, and I cal'late that's pretty average likely. And he said I hadn't been brought up in luxury—"
"Which wa'n't no exaggeration neither," I put in, thinkin' of the shack over on the Neck Road where she and her folks used to live.
"No," says she; "and he told me I'd always' had longin's for better and higher things and that my intellectuals was above my station. Well, ever since I was knee high to a kitchen chair I'd ruther work upstairs than down, and as for intellectuals, Ma always said I was the smartest young one she'd raised yet. So them statements give me considerable confidence. But he give out that I was to make a journey and get money, and when that come true I held up both hands and stood ready to swaller all the rest of it."
"So it come true, did it ?" says I.
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"Um-hm," says she, bouncin' her head again. "Inside of four year I traveled 'way over to South Eastboro—'most twelve mile—to my Uncle Izzy's fun'ral, and there I found that he'd left me nine hundred dollars for my very own. And down I flops on the parlor sofy and says I: 'There! don't talk superstition to me no more! A person that can foretell Uncle Izzy's givin' anybody a cent, let alone nine hundred dollars, is a good enough prophet for me to tie to. Now I know that I'm going to marry the dark-complected man, and I'll be ready for him when he comes along. I never spent a quarter no better than when I handed it over to that Oriental Seer critter at the cattle show.' That's what I said then and I b'lieve it yet. Wouldn't you feel the same way?"
I said sure thing I would. I'd found out that the best way to keep Effie's talk-shop runnin' was to agree with her. And I liked to hear her talk. She was third assistant roustabout and table girl at the Old Home House the fourth season that me and Cap'n Jonadab and Peter T. Brown run it. She'd never worked out afore and was greener than a mess of spindrift, but she was kind of pretty to look at and I'd sort of took a fancy to her. I never did have the high-tone'd ideas about not bein' familiar with help that Jonadab suffered from. 'Twan't so many years since I was fo'mast hand myself.
So Effie'd got in the habit of tellin' me all her troubles and secrets. Just now she was unloadin' some more or less facts concernin' what a specimen who cruised under the name of "The Marvelous Oriental Seer" had handed in change for a quarter at the Ostable County cattle show and fair.
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"Yup," she went on, "I give right in then. I'd traveled same as the fortune teller said, and I'd got more money 'n I ever expected to see, let alone own. And ever sence I've been sartin as I'm alive that the feller I marry will be of a rank higher'n mine and dark complected and good-lookin' and distinguished, and that he'll be name of Butler."
"Butler?" says I. "What will he be named Butler for?"
" 'Cause the Seer critter said so. He said he could ;see the word Butler printed out over the top of my head in flamin' letters. Pa used to say 'twas a wonder it never set fire to my crimps, but he was only foolin'. I know that it's all comin' out true. You ain't ac-quaintaneed to any Butlers, are you?"
"No," says I. "I heard Ben Butler make a speech once when he was gov'nor, but he's dead now. There ain't no Butlers on the Old Home shippin' lists."
"Oh, I know that!" she says. "And everybody round here is homelier'n a moultin' pullet There now! I didn't mean exactly everybody, of course. Buat you ain't dark-complected, you know, nor—"
"No," says I, "nor rank nor distinguished neither. 'Course the handsome part might fit me, but I'd have to pass on the rest of the hand. That's all right, Effie; my feelin's have got fireproofed since I've been in the summer hotel business. Now you'd better run along and report to Susannah. I hear her whoopin' for you, and she don't light like a canary bird on the party she's mad with."
She didn't, that was a fact. Susannah Debs, who was housekeeper for us that year, was middlin' young and middlin' good-lookin', and couldn't forget it
6 AMONG THE HUMORISTS
Also and likewise, she had a suit for damages against the railroad, which she had hopes would fetch her money some day or other, and she couldn't forget that neither. She was skipper of all the hired hands and, bein' as Effie was prettier than she was, never lost a chance to lay the poor girl out. She put the other help up to pokin' fun at Effie's green ways and high-toned notions, and 'twas her that started 'em callin' her "Lady Evelyn" in the fo'castle—servants' quarters, I mean.
"I'm a-comin'," screams Effie, startin' for the door. "Susannah's in a tearin' hurry to get through early to-day," she adds to me. "She's got the afternoon off and her beau's comin' to take her buggy-ridin'. He's from over Harniss way somewheres, and they say he's just lovely. My sakes ! I wisht sombody'd take me to ride. Ah [?]! cal'late I'll have to wait for my Butler man. Say, Mr. Wingate, you won't mention my fortune to a soul, will you? I've never told anybody but you."
I promised to keep mum, and she cleared out. After dinner, as I was smokin', along with Cap'n Jonadab, on the side piazza, a horse and buggy drove in at the back gate, A young chap with black curly hair was pilotin' the craft. He was a stranger to me, wore a checkerboard suit and a bonfire necktie, and had his hat twisted over one ear. Altogether he looked some like a sunflower goin' to seed.
"Who's that barber's sign when it's to home?" says I to Jonadab. He snorted contemptuous.
"That?" he says. "Don't you know the cut of that critter's jib? He plays pool, for just a home, in Web Saunders's place over to Orham. He's the housekeep-
7 THE SEER AND THE SERVANT
er's steady comp'ny—steady by spells, if all I hear's true. Good-for-nothin' cub, I call him, Wisht I'd had him aboard a vessel of mine; I'd 'a' squared his yards for him. Look how he cants his hat to starboard so's to show them lovelocks. Bah!"
"What's his name?" I asks.
"Name? Name's Butler—Simeon Butler. Don't you remember . . . Hey? What in tunket . . . ?"
Both of us had jumped as if somebody'd touched off a bombshell under our main hatches. The windows of the dining-room was right astern of us. We whirled round, and there was Effie. She'd been clearin' off one of the tables, and there she stood, with the smashed pieces of an ice-cream platter in front of her, the melted cream sloppin' over her shoes, and her face lookin' like the picture of Lot's wife just turnin' to salt. Only Effie looked as if she enjoyed the turnin'. She never spoke nor moved, just stared after that buggy, with her black eyes sparklin' like burnt holes in a blanket.
I was too astonished to say anything, but Jonadab had his eye on that smashed platter, and he had things to say, plenty of 'em. I walked off and left Effie playin' congregation to a sermon on the text, "Crockery costs money." You'd think that ice-cream dish was a genuine, ugly, nicked "antique" wuth any city loon's ten dollars, instead of bein' only new and pretty fifty-cent china. I felt real sorry for the poor girl.
But I needn't have been. That evenin' I found her on the back steps, all Sunday duds and airs. Her hair had a wire friz on it, and her dress had Joseph's coat in Scriptur' lookin' like a mournin' rig. She'd have been real handsome—to a body that was color blind.
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"My, Effie!" says I, "you sartin do look fine to-night." .
"Yup," she says, contented, "I guess likely I do. Hope so, 'cause I'm wearin' all I've got. Say, Mr. Wingate/' says she, excited as a cat in a fit, "did you see him?"
"Him ?" says I. "Who's him ?"
"Why, him! The one the Seer said was comin'. The handsome, dark-complected feller I'm goin' to marry. The Butler one. That was him in the buggy this afternoon."
I looked at her. I'd forgot all about the fool prophecy.
"Good land of love!" I says. "You don't cal'late he's comin' to marry you, do you, just 'cause his name's Butler? There's ten thousand Butlers in the world. Besides, your particular one was slated to be high ranked and distinguished, and this specimen scrubs up the billiard room floor and ain't no more distinguished than a poor-house pig."
"Ain't?" she sings out. "Ain't distinguished? With all them beautiful curls, and rings on his .fingers, and—?"
"Bells on his toes? No!" says I, emphatic. "Anyhow, he's signed for the v'yage already. He's Susannah Debs's steady, and they're off buggy-ridin' together right now. And if she catches you makin' eyes at her best feller—Whew !"
Didn't make no difference. He was her Butler, sure. 'Twas Fate—that's what 'twas—Fate, just the same as' in story books. She was sorry for poor Susannah and she wouldn't do nothin' mean nor underhanded; but couldn't I understand that 'twas all
9 THE SEER AND THE SERVANT
planned out for her by Providence and that everlastin' Seer? Just let me watch and see, that's all.
What can you do with an idiot like that? I walked off disgusted and left her. But I cal'lated to watch. I judged 'twould be more fun than any play-actin' show ever I took in.
And 'twas, in a way. Don't ask me how they got acquainted, 'cause I can't tell you for sartin. Nigh's I can learn, Susannah and Sim had some sort of lover's row durin' their buggy ride, and when they got back to the hotel they was scurcely on speakin' terms. And Sim, who always had a watch out for'ard for pretty girls, see Effie standin' on the servants' porch all togged up regardless and gay as a tea-store chromo, and nothin' to do but he must be introduced. One of the stable hands done the introducin', I b'lieve, and if he'd have been hung afterwards 'twould have sarved him right
Anyhow, inside of a week, Butler come round again to take a lady friend drivin', but this time 'twas Effie, not the housekeeper, that was passenger. And Susannah glared after 'em like a cat after a sparrow, and the very next day she was for havin' Effie discharged for incompetentiveness. I give Jonadab the tip, though, so that didn't go through. But I cal'late there was a parrot and monkey time amongst the help from then on. They all sided with Susannah, of course. She was their boss, for one thing, and "Lady Evelyn's" high-minded notions wa'n't popular, for another. But Effie didn't care—bless you, no! She and that Butler sport was together more and more, and the next thing I heard was they was engaged. I snum if it didn't look as if the Oriental man knew his job, after all.
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I spoke to the stable hand about it.
"Look here," says I, u is this business betwixt that pool player and our Effie serious ?"
He laughed. "Serious enough, I guess," he says, "They're goin' to be married pretty soon, I hear. It's all 'cordin' to the law and the prophets. Ain't you heard about the fortune tellin' and how 'twas foretold she'd marry a Butler?"
I'd heard, but I didn't s'pose he had. However, it seemed that Effie hadn't been able to keep it to her-, self no longer. Soon as she'd hooked her man she'd blabbed the whole thing. The fo'mast hands wa'n't talkin' of nothin' else, so this feller said.
"Humph!" says I. "Is it the prophecy that Butler's bankin' on ?"
He laughed again. "Not so much as on Lady Eve-tyn's nine hundred, I cal'late," says he, "Sim likes Susannah the best of the two so we all reckon, but she ain't rich and Effie is. And yet, if the Debs woman should win that lawsuit of hers against the railroad she'd have pretty nigh twice as much. Butler's a fool not to wait, I think," he says.
This was of a Monday, On Friday evenin' Effie comes around to see me. I was alone in the office,
"Mr. Wingate," she says, "I'm goin' to leave to-morrer night I'm goin' to be married on Sunday."
I'd been expecting it, but I couldn't help feelin' sorry for her.
"Don't do nothin' rash, Effie," I told her. "Are you sure that Butler critter cares anything about you and not your money ?"
She flared up like a tar barrel. "The idea!" she
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says, turnin' red. "I just come in to give you warnin'. Good by."
"Hold on," I sung out to her. "Effie, I've thought consider'ble about you lately. I've been tryin' to help you a little on the sly. I realized that 'twa'n't pleasant for you workin' here under Susannah Debs, and I've been tryin' to find a nice place for you. I wrote about you to Bob Van Wedderburn; he's the rich banker chap who stopped here one summer. 'Jonesy,' we used to call him. I know him and his wife fustrate, and he'd do 'most anything as a favor to me. I told him what a neat, handy girl you was, and he writes that he'll give you the job of second girl at his swell New York house, if you want it. Now you just hand that Sam Butler his clearance papers and go work for Bob's wife. The wages are double what you get here, and—"
She didn't wait to hear the rest. Just sailed out of the room with her nose in the air. In a minute, though, back she come and just put her head in the door.
"I'm much obliged to you Mr. Wingate," says she, "I know you mean well. But you ain't had your fate foretold, same's I have. It's all been arranged for me, and I couldn't stop it no more'n Jonah could help swal-lerin' the whale. I—I kind of wish you'd be on hand at the back door Sunday mornin' when Simeon comes to take me away. You—you're about the only real friend I've got," she says.
And off she went, for good this time. I pitied her, in spite of her bein' such a dough-head. I knew what sort of a husband that pool-room shark would make. However, there wa'n't nothin' to be done. And next day Cap'n Jonadab was round, madder'n a licked pup. Seems Susannah's lawyer at Orham had sent for her
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to come right off and see him. Somethin' about the suit, it was. And she was goin' in spite of everything. And with Effie leavin' at the same time, what was we goin' to do over Sunday? and so forth and so on.
Well, we had to do the best we could, that's all. But that Saturday was busy, now I tell you. Sunday mornin' broke fine and clear and, after breakfast was over, I remembered Effie and that 'twas her weddin' day. On the back steps I found her, dressed in all her grandeur, with her packed trunk ready, waitin' for the bridegroom.
"Ain't come yet has he, Effie?" says I,
"No," says she, shinin' and radiant. "It's a little early for him yet, I guess."
I went off to 'tend to the boarders. At half past ten, when I made the back steps again, she was still there. T'other servants was peekin' out of the kitchen windows, grinnin' and passin' remarks.
"Hello!" I calls out. "Not married yet? What's the matter?"
She'd stopped smilin' but she was as chipper as ever, to all appearances.
"I—I guess the horse has gone lame or something" says she. "He'll be here any time now/'
There was a cackle from the kitchen windows. I never said nothin'. She'd made her nest; now let her roost on it.
But at twelve Butler hadn't hove in sight. Every hand, mate and female, on the place, that wa'n't busy, was hangin' around back of the hotel waitin' and watchin' and ridiculin' and havin' a high time. Them that had errands made it a p'int to cruise past that way.
Lots of the boarders had got wind of the doin's and they was there too,
"Effie was settin' on her trunk, tryin' hard to look brave. I went up and spoke to her.
"Come, my girl," says I. "Don't set here no longer. Come into the house and wait. Hadn't you better?"
"No!" says she, loud and defiant like. "No, sir! It's all right. He's a little late, that's all. What do you s'pose I care for a lot of jealous folks like those up there?" wavin' her flipper scornful toward the kitchen.
13 THE SEER AND THE SERVANT
And then, all to once, she kind of broke down, and says to me, with a pitiful sort of choke in her voice: . "Oh, Mr. Wingate! I can't stand this. Why don't he come?"
I tried hard to think of somethin' comfortin' to say, but afore I could h'ist a satisfyin' word out of my batches I heard the noise of a carriage comin'. Effie heard it too, and so did everybody else. We all looked toward the gate. 'Twas Sim Butler, sure enough, in his buggy and drivin' the same old horse; but settin' alongside of him on the seat was Susannah Debs, the housekeeper. And maybe she didn't look contented with things in gen'ral!
Butler pulled up his horse by the gate. Him and Susannah bowed to all hands. Nobody said anything for a minute. Then Effie bounced off the trunk and down the steps. "Simmie!" she sung out, breathless like, "Simeon Butler, what does this mean?"
The Debs woman straightened up on the seat. "Thank you, marm," says she, chilly as the top section of an ice chest, "I'll request you not to call my husband by his first name."
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It was so still you could have heard yourself grow. EfSe turned white as a Sunday tablecloth.
"Your—husband?" she gasps. "Your—your husband?"
"Yes, marm," purrs the housekeeper, "My husband was what I said. Mr. Butler and me have just been married."
"Sorry, Effie, old girl," puts in Butler, so sassy I'd love to have preached his fun'ral sermon. "Too bad, but fust love' strongest, you know. Susie and me was engaged long afore you come to town."
Then such a hawhaw and whoop bust from the kitchen and fo'castle as you never heard. For a jiffy poor Effie wilted right down. Then she braced up and her black eyes snapped.
"I wish you joy of your bargain, marm," says she to Susannah. "You'd ought to be proud of it. And as for you," she says swingin' round toward the rest of the help, "I—"
"How 'bout that prophet ?" hollers somebody.
"Three cheers for the Oriental!" bellers somebody else.
"When you marry the right Butler, fetch him along and let us see him !" whoops another.
She faced 'em all, and I gloried in her spunk.
"When I marry him I will come back," says she. "And when I do you'll have to get down on your knees and wait on me. You—and you— Yes, and you, too!"
The last two "you's" was hove at Sim and Susannah. Then she turned and marched into the hotel. And the way them hired hands carried on was some-
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thin' scandalous—till I stepped in and took charge of the deck.
That very afternoon I put Effie and her trunk aboard the train. I paid her fare to New York and gave her directions how to locate the Van Wedderburns.
"So long, Effie," says I to her. "It's all right. You're enough sight better off. All you want to do now is to work hard and forget all that fortune tellin' foolishness.
She whirled on me like a top.
"Forget it!" She says. "1 guess I sha'n't forget it! It's comin' true, I tell you—same as all the rest come true. You said yourself there was ten thousand Butlers in the world. Some day the right one—the hand-some, high-ranked, distinguished one—will come along, and I'll get him. You wait and see, Mr. Wingate—just you wait and see."
Well, the housekeeper left us that day, of course, and for the rest of that summer the servant question kept me and Jonadab from thinkin' of other things. Course, the reason for the Butler scamp's sudden switch was plain enough. Susannah's lawyer had settled fhe case with tlie railroad and, even after his fee was subtracted, there was fifteen hundred left. That was enough sight better'n nine hundred, so Sim figgered when he heard of it; and he hustled to make up with his old girl.
Fifteen hundred dollars doesn't last long with some folks. At the beginnin' of the next spring season both of 'em was round huntin' jobs. Susannah was a fust-rate waitress, so we hired her for that—no more
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housekeeper for hers, and served her right. As for her husband, we took him on in the stable. He wouldn't have been wuth his salt if it hadn't been for her. She said she'd keep him moving and she did. She nagged and henpecked him till I'd have been sorry if 'twas anybody else. As 'twas, I got consider'ble satisfaction out of it.
I got one letter from Effie pretty soon after she left, sayin' she liked her new job and that the Van Wedderburns liked her. And that's all I did hear, though Bob himself wrote me in May, sayin' him and Mabel, his wife, had bought a summer cottage in Wapatomac, and me and Jonadab—especially me—must be sure and come to see it and them. He never mentioned his second girl, and I almost forgot her myself.
But one afternoon in early July a big six-cylinder automobile come sailin' down the road and into the Old House yard. A shofer—I b'lieve that's what they call the tribe—was at the helm of it, and on the back seat, lollin' luxurious against the upholstery, was a man and a woman, got up regardless in silk dusters and goggles and veils and prosperity. I never expect to see the Prince of Wales and his wife, but I know how they'd look—after seein' them two.
Jonadab was at the bottom step to welcome 'em, bowin' and scrapin' as if his middle j'int had just been iled. I wa'n't fur astern, and every boarder on deck was all eyes and envy.
The shofer opens the door of the after cock-pit of the machine, and the man gets out fust, treadin' gingerly but grand, as if he was doin' the ground a condescension by steppin' on it. Then he turns to the woman and she slides out, her duds rustlin' like the
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wind in a scrub oak. The pair sails up the steps, Jonadab and me backin' and fillin' in front of 'em.
All the help that could get to a window to peek had knocked off work to do it.
"Ahem!" says the man, pompous as Julius Caesar— he was big and straight and fine lookin' and had black side whiskers half mast on his cheeks—"Ahem!" savs he. "I say, good people, may we have dinner here?" Well, they tell us time and tide waits for no man, but prob'ly that don't include the nobility. Anyhow, although 'twas long past our reg'lar dinner time, I heard Jonadab tellin' 'em sure and sartin they could. If they wouldn't mind settin' on the piazza or in the front parlor for a spell, he'd have somethin' prepared in a jiffy. So up to the piazza they paraded and come to anchor in a couple of chairs.
"You can have your automobile put right into the barn," I says, "if you want to."
"I don't think it will be necessary—" began the big feller, but the woman interrupted him. She was starin' through her thick veil at the barn door. Sim Butler, in his overalls and ragged shirt-sleeves, was leanin' against that door, interested as the rest of us in what was goin' on,
"I would have it put there, I think," says the woman, lofty and superior. "It is rather dusty, and I think the wheels ought to be washed. Can that man be trusted to wash 'em?" she asks, pointin' kind of scornful at Simeon.
"Yes, marm, I cal'late so," I says. "Here, Sim!" I sung out, callin' Butler over to the steps. "Can you wash the dust off them wheels ?"
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He said course he could, but he didn't act joyful over the job. The woman seemed some doubtful.
"He looks like a very ignorant, common person," says she, loud and clear, so that everyday, includin' the "ignorant person" himself, could hear her. "However, James'll superintend. James," she orders the shofer, "you see that it is well done, won't you? Make him be very careful."
James looked Butler over from head to foot. "Humph !" he sniffs, contemptuous, with a kind of half grin on his face. "Yes, marm, I'll tend to it."
So he steered the auto into the barn, and Simeon got busy. Judgin' by the sharp language that drifted out through the door 'twas plain that the shofer was superintendin' all right.
Jonadab heaves in sight, bowin', and makes proclamation that dinner is served. The pair riz up majestic and headed for the dinin'-room. The woman was a little astern of her man, and in the hall she turns brisk to me. "Mr. Wingate," she whispers, "Mr. Wingate."
I stared at her. Her voice had sounded sort of familiar ever sence I heard it, but the veil kept a body from seein' what she looked like.
"Hey ?" I sings out. "Have I ever—"
"Sh-s-h-h!" she whispers. "Say, Mr. Wingate, that—that Susannah thing is here, ain't she? Have her wait on us, will you, please?"
And she swept the veil off her face. I choked up and staggered bang ! against the wall. I swan to man if it wa'n't Effie! Effie, in silks and automobiles and gorgeousness!
Afore I could come to myself the two of 'em marched into that dining-room. I heard a grunt and
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a "Land of love!" from just ahead of me. That was Jonadab. And from all around that dinin'-room come a sort of gasp and then the sound of whisperin'. That was the help.
They took a table by the window, which had been made ready. Down they set, like a king and a queen perchin' on thrones. One of the waiter girls went over to 'em.
But I'd come out of my trance a little mite. The situation was miles ahead of my brain, goodness knows, but the joke of it all was gettin' a grip on me. I remembered what Effie had asked and I spoke up prompt.
"Susannah," says I, "this is a particular job and we're anxious to please. You'd better do the waitin' yourself."
I wish you could have seen the glare that ex-housekeeper give me. For a second I thought we'd have open mutiny. But her place wa'n't any too sartin and she didn't dare risk it. Over she walked to that table, and the fun began.
Jonadab had laid himself out to make that meal a success, but they ate it as if it 'twas pretty poor stuff and not by no means what they fed on every day. They found fault with 'most everything, but most especial with Susannah's waitin'. My! how they did order her around—a mate on a cattle boat wa'n't nothin' to it. And when 'twas all over and they got up to go, Effie says, so's all hands can hear:
"The food here is not so bad, but the service—oh, horrors! However, Albert," says she to the side-whiskered man, "you had better give the girl our usual tip. She looks as if she needed it, poor thing !"
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Then they paraded out of the room, and I see Susannah sling the half-dollar the man had left on the table clear to Jericho, it seemed like.
The auto was waitin' by the piazza, steps. The shofer and Butler was standin' by it. And when Sim see Effie with her veil throwed back he pretty nigh fell under the wheels he'd been washin' so hard. And he looked as if he wisht they'd run over him.
"Oh, dear!" sighs Effie, lookin' scornful at the wheels. "Not half dean, just as I expected. I knew by the looks of that—that person that he wouldn't do it well. Don't give him much. Albert; he ain't earned it"
They climbed into the cockpit, the shofer took the helm, and they was ready to start. But I couldn't let 'em go that way. Out I run.
"Say—say, Effie!" I whispers, eager. "For the goodness' sakes, what's all this mean ? Is that your— your—"
"My husband? Yup," she whispers .back, her eyes. shinin'. "Didn't I tell you to look out for my prophecy? Ain't he handsome and distinguished, just as I said? Good by, Mr. Wingate; maybe I'll see you again some day."
The machinery barked and they got under way. I run along for two steps more.
"But, Effie," says I, "tell me—is his name—?"
She didn't answer. She was watchin' Sim Butler and his wife. Sim had stooped to pick up the quarter the Prince of Wales had hove at him. And that was too much for Susannah, who was watchin' from the window.
"Don't you touch that money!" she screams, "Don't you lay a finger on it! Ain't you got any self-respect
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at all, yo miser'ble, low-lived—" and so forth and so on. All the way to the front gate I see Effie leanin' out, lookin' and listenin' and smilin'.
Then the machine buzzed off in a typhoon of dust and I went back to Jonadab, who was a livin' catechism of questions which neither one of us could answer.
This yarn ought, I s'pose, to end right here; but it don't. There's a little more of it
A fortni't later I took a couple of days off and went up to Wapatomac to visit the Van Wedderburns, same as I'd promised. Their "cottage" was pretty nigh big enough for a hotel and was so grand that I, even if I did have on my Sunday frills, was 'most ashamed to ring the doorbell.
But I did ring it, and the feller that opened the door was big and solemn and fine lookin' and had side whiskers. Only this time he wore a tail coat with brass buttons on it.
"How do you do, Mr. Wingate," says he. "Step right in, sir, if you please. Mr. and Mrs. Van Wedderburn are out in the auto, but they'll be back shortly, and very glad to see you, sir, I'm sure. Let me take your grip and hat. Step right into the reception room and wait, if you please, sir. Perhaps," he says, and there was a twinkle in his port eye, though the rest of his face was sober as the front door of a church, "perhaps," says he, "you might wish to speak with my wife a moment. I'll take the liberty of sendin' her to you, sir."
So, as I sat on the gunwale of a blue and gold chair, tryin' to settle whether I was really crazy or only
22 THE SEER AND THE SERVANT
just dreamin', in bounces Effie, rigged up in a servant's cap and apron. She looked polite and demure, but I could see she was just bubblin' with the joy of the whole bus'ness.
"Effie," says I, "Effie, what—what in the world—?"
She giggled. "Yup,' she says, "I'm chambermaid here and they treat me fine. Thank you very much for gettin' me the situation."
"But—but them doin's the other day. That automobile—and them silks and satins—and—?"
"Mr. Van Wedderburn lent 'em to me," she said, "him an' his wife. And he lent us the auto and the shofer, too. I'd told him about my troubles at the Old Home House and he thought 'twould be a great joke for me to travel back there like a lady. He's awful fond of a joke—Mr. Van Wedderburn is."
"But that man ?" I gasps. "Your husband ? That's what you said he was."
"Yes," says she, "he is. We've been married 'most six months now. My prophecy's all come true. And didn't I rub it in on that Susannah Debs and her scamp of a Sim ? Ho ! ho!"
She clasped her hands and pretty nigh danced a jig, she was so tickled.
"But is he a Butler?" I asks.
"Yup," she nods, with another giggle. "He's a butler, though his name's Jenkins; and a butler's high rank—higher than chambermaid, anyhow. You see, Mr. Wingate," she adds, "'twas all my fault. When that Oriental Seer man at the show said I was to marry a butler, I forgot to ask him whether you spelt it with a big B or a little one."