McTeague HTML version

One morning about a week after Marcus had left for the southern part of the
State, McTeague found an oblong letter thrust through the letter-drop of the door
of his "Parlors." The address was typewritten. He opened it. The letter had been
sent from the City Hall and was stamped in one corner with the seal of the State
of California, very official; the form and file numbers superscribed.
McTeague had been making fillings when this letter arrived. He was in his
"Parlors," pottering over his movable rack underneath the bird cage in the bay
window. He was making "blocks" to be used in large proximal cavities and
"cylinders" for commencing fillings. He heard the postman's step in the hall and
saw the envelopes begin to shuttle themselves through the slit of his letter-drop.
Then came the fat oblong envelope, with its official seal, that dropped flatwise to
the floor with a sodden, dull impact.
The dentist put down the broach and scissors and gathered up his mail. There
were four letters altogether. One was for Trina, in Selina's "elegant" handwriting;
another was an advertisement of a new kind of operating chair for dentists; the
third was a card from a milliner on the next block, announcing an opening; and
the fourth, contained in the fat oblong envelope, was a printed form with blanks
left for names and dates, and addressed to McTeague, from an office in the City
Hall. McTeague read it through laboriously. "I don' know, I don' know," he
muttered, looking stupidly at the rifle manufacturer's calendar. Then he heard
Trina, from the kitchen, singing as she made a clattering noise with the breakfast
dishes. "I guess I'll ask Trina about it," he muttered.
He went through the suite, by the sitting-room, where the sun was pouring in
through the looped backed Nottingham curtains upon the clean white matting and
the varnished surface of the melodeon, passed on through the bedroom, with its
framed lithographs of round-cheeked English babies and alert fox terriers, and
came out into the brick-paved kitchen. The kitchen was clean as a new whistle;
the freshly blackened cook stove glowed like a negro's hide; the tins and
porcelain-lined stew-pans might have been of silver and of ivory. Trina was in the
centre of the room, wiping off, with a damp sponge, the oilcloth table-cover, on
which they had breakfasted. Never had she looked so pretty. Early though it was,
her enormous tiara of swarthy hair was neatly combed and coiled, not a pin was
so much as loose. She wore a blue calico skirt with a white figure, and a belt of
imitation alligator skin clasped around her small, firmly-corseted waist; her shirt
waist was of pink linen, so new and crisp that it crackled with every movement,
while around the collar, tied in a neat knot, was one of McTeague's lawn ties
which she had appropriated. Her sleeves were carefully rolled up almost to her
shoulders, and nothing could have been more delicious than the sight of her
small round arms, white as milk, moving back and forth as she sponged the
table-cover, a faint touch of pink coming and going at the elbows as they bent