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PAGE 3

Angels’ Visits
by [?]

“Like a bear,” repeated Mr. Jobling, highly pleased at the impression he had made. “I’m pretty strong now; there ain’t many as I’m afraid of. ”

He bent his arm and thoughtfully felt his biceps, and Mrs. Jobling almost persuaded herself that she must be dreaming, as she saw the girl lean forward and pinch Mr. Jobling’s arm. Mr. Jobling was surprised too, but he had the presence of mind to bend the other.

“Enormous!” said the girl, “and as hard as iron. What a prize-fighter you’d have made!”

“He don’t want to do no prize-fighting,” said Mrs. Jobling, recovering her speech; “he’s a respectable married man. ”

Mr. Jobling shook his head over lost opportunities. “I’m too old,” he remarked.

“He’s forty-seven,” said his wife.

“Best age for a man, in my opinion,” said the girl; “just entering his prime. And a man is as old as he feels, you know. ”

Mr. Jobling nodded acquiescence and observed that he always felt about twenty-two; a state of affairs which he ascribed to regular habits, and a great partiality for the company of young people.

“I was just twenty-two when I married,” he mused, “and my missis was just six months—”

“You leave my age alone,” interrupted his wife, t
rembling with passion. “I’m not so fond of telling my age to strangers. ”

“You told mine,” retorted Mr. Jobling, “and nobody asked you to do that. Very free you was in coming out with mine. ”

“I ain’t the only one that’s free,” breathed the quivering Mrs. Jobling. “I ‘ope your ankle is better?” she added, turning to the visitor.

“Much better, thank you,” was the reply.

“Got far to go?” queried Mrs. Jobling.

The girl nodded. “But I shall take a tram at the end of the street,” she said, rising.

Mr. Jobling rose too, and all that he had ever heard or read about etiquette came crowding into his mind. A weekly journal patronized by his wife had three columns regularly, but he taxed his memory in vain for any instructions concerning brown-eyed strangers with sprained ankles. He felt that the path of duty led to the tram-lines. In a somewhat blundering fashion he proffered his services; the girl accepted them as a matter of course.

Mrs. Jobling, with lips tightly compressed, watched them from the door. The girl, limping slightly, walked along with the utmost composure, but the bearing of her escort betokened a mind fully conscious of the scrutiny of the street.

He returned in about half an hour, and having this time to run the gauntlet of the street alone, entered with a mien which caused his wife’s complaints to remain unspoken. The cough of Mr. Brown, a particularly contagious one, still rang in his ears, and he sat for some time in fierce silence.

“I see her on the tram,” he said, at last “Her name’s Robinson—Miss Robinson. ”

“In-deed!” said his wife.

“Seems a nice sort o’ girl,” said Mr. Jobling, carelessly. “She’s took quite a fancy to you. ”

“I’m sure I’m much obliged to her,” retorted his wife.

“So I—so I asked her to give you a look in now and then,” continued Mr. Jobling, filling his pipe with great care, “and she said she would. It’ll cheer you up a bit. ”

Mrs. Jobling bit her lip and, although she had never felt more fluent in her life, said nothing. Her husband lit his pipe, and after a rapid glance in her direction took up an old newspaper and began to read.

He astonished Mrs. Jobling next day by the gift of a geranium in full bloom. Surprise impeded her utterance, but she thanked him at last with some warmth, and after a little deliberation decided to put it in the bedroom.