When a Man Marries
From The Tree Of Love
There is hardly any use trying to describe what followed. Anne Brown began to cry, and
talk about the children. (She went to Europe once and stayed until they all got over the
whooping cough.) And Dallas said he had a pull, because his mill controlled I forget how
many votes, and the thing to do was to be quiet and comfortable and we would get out in
the morning. Max took it as a huge joke, and somebody found him at the telephone,
calling up his club. The Mercer girls were hysterically giggling, and Aunt Selina sat on a
stiff-backed chair and took aromatic spirits of ammonia. As for Jim, he had collapsed on
the lowest step of the stairs, and sat there with his head in his hands. When he did look
up, he didn't dare to look at me.
The Harbison man was arguing with the impassive individual on the top step outside, and
I saw him get out his pocketbook and offer a crisp bundle of bills. But the man from the
board of health only smiled and tacked at his offensive sign. After a while Mr. Harbison
came in and closed the door, and we stared at one another.
"I know what I'm going to do," I said, swallowing a lump in my throat. "I'm going to get
out through a basement window at the back. I'm going home."
"Home!" Aunt Selina gasped, jumping up and almost dropping her ammonia bottle. "My
dear Bella! Home?"
Jimmy groaned at the foot of the stairs, but Anne Brown was getting over her tears and
now she turned on me in a temper.
"It's all your fault," she said. "I was going to stay at home and get a little sleep--"
"Well, you can sleep now," Dallas broke in. "There'll be nothing to do but sleep."
"I think you haven't grasped the situation, Dal," I said icily. "There will be plenty to do.
There isn't a servant in the house!"
"No servants!" everybody cried at once. The Mercer girls stopped giggling.
"Holy cats!" Max stopped in the act of hanging up his overcoat. "Do you mean--why, I
can't shave myself! I'll cut my head off."
"You'll do more than that," I retorted grimly. "You will carry coal and tend fires and
empty ash pans, and when you are not doing any of those things there will be pots and
pans to wash and beds to make."
Then there WAS a row. We had worked back to the den now, and I stood in front of the
fireplace and let the storm beat around me, and tried to look perfectly cold and
indifferent, and not to see Mr. Harbison's shocked face. No wonder he thought them a lot
of savages, browbeating their hostess the way they did.
"It's a fool thing anyhow," Max Reed wound up, "to celebrate the anniversary of a
divorce--especially " Here he caught Jim's eye and stopped. But I had suddenly
remembered. BELLA DOWN IN THE BASEMENT!