The Four Million
The May moon shone bright upon the private boarding-house of Mrs. Murphy. By
reference to the almanac a large amount of territory will be discovered upon which its
rays also fell. Spring was in its heydey, with hay fever soon to follow. The parks were
green with new leaves and buyers for the Western and Southern trade. Flowers and
summer-resort agents were blowing; the air and answers to Lawson were growing milder;
hand-organs, fountains and pinochle were playing everywhere.
The windows of Mrs. Murphy's boarding-house were open. A group of boarders were
seated on the high stoop upon round, flat mats like German pancakes.
In one of the second-floor front windows Mrs. McCaskey awaited her husband. Supper
was cooling on the table. Its heat went into Mrs. McCaskey.
At nine Mr. McCaskey came. He carried his coat on his arm and his pipe in his teeth; and
he apologised for disturbing the boarders on the steps as he selected spots of stone
between them on which to set his size 9, width Ds.
As he opened the door of his room he received a surprise. Instead of the usual stove-lid or
potato-masher for him to dodge, came only words.
Mr. McCaskey reckoned that the benign May moon had softened the breast of his spouse.
"I heard ye," came the oral substitutes for kitchenware. "Ye can apollygise to riff-raff of
the streets for settin' yer unhandy feet on the tails of their frocks, but ye'd walk on the
neck of yer wife the length of a clothes-line without so much as a 'Kiss me fut,' and I'm
sure it's that long from rubberin' out the windy for ye and the victuals cold such as there's
money to buy after drinkin' up yer wages at Gallegher's every Saturday evenin', and the
gas man here twice to-day for his."
"Woman!" said Mr. McCaskey, dashing his coat and hat upon a chair, "the noise of ye is
an insult to me appetite. When ye run down politeness ye take the mortar from between
the bricks of the foundations of society. 'Tis no more than exercisin' the acrimony of a
gentleman when ye ask the dissent of ladies blockin' the way for steppin' between them.
Will ye bring the pig's face of ye out of the windy and see to the food?"
Mrs. McCaskey arose heavily and went to the stove. There was something in her manner
that warned Mr. McCaskey. When the corners of her mouth went down suddenly like a
barometer it usually foretold a fall of crockery and tinware.
"Pig's face, is it?" said Mrs. McCaskey, and hurled a stewpan full of bacon and turnips at