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Dougherty’s Eye-Opener
by [?]

“Jim,” she said, firmly, “I wish you would take me out to dinner this evening. It has been three years since you have been outside the door with me.”

“Big Jim” was astounded. She had never asked anything like this before. It had the flavour of a totally new proposition. But he was a game sport.

“All right,” he said. “You be ready when I come at seven. None of this ‘wait two minutes till I primp an hour or two’ kind of business, now, Dele.”

“I’ll be ready,” said his wife, calmly.

At seven she descended the stone steps in the Pompeian bowling alley at the side of “Big Jim” Dougherty. She wore a dinner gown made of a stuff that the spiders must have woven, and of a color that a twilight sky must have contributed. A light coat with many admirably unnecessary capes and adorably inutile ribbons floated downward from her shoulders. Fine feathers do make fine birds; and the only reproach in the saying is for the man who refuses to give up his earnings to the ostrich-tip industry.

“Big Jim” Dougherty was troubled. There was a being at his side whom he did not know. He thought of the sober-hued plumage that this bird of paradise was accustomed to wear in her cage, and this winged revelation puzzled him. In some way she reminded him of the Delia Cullen that he had married four years before. Shyly and rather awkwardly he stalked at her right hand.

“After dinner I’ll take you back home, Dele,” said Mr. Dougherty, “and then I’ll drop back up to Seltzer’s with the boys. You can have swell chuck to-night if you want it. I made a winning on Anaconda yesterday; so you can go as far as you like.”

Mr. Dougherty had intended to make the outing with his unwonted wife an inconspicuous one. Uxoriousness was a weakness that the precepts of the Caribs did not countenance. If any of his friends of the track, the billiard cloth or the square circle had wives they had never complained of the fact in public. There were a number of table d’hote places on the cross streets near the broad and shining way; and to one of these he had purposed to escort her, so that the bushel might not be removed from the light of his domesticity.

But while on the way Mr. Dougherty altered those intentions. He had been casting stealthy glances at his attractive companion and he was seized with the conviction that she was no selling plater. He resolved to parade with his wife past Seltzer’s cafe, where at this time a number of his tribe would be gathered to view the daily evening procession. Yes; and he would take her to dine at Hoogley’s, the swellest slow-lunch warehouse on the line, he said to himself.

The congregation of smooth-faced tribal gentlemen were on watch at Seltzer’s. As Mr. Dougherty and his reorganized Delia passed they stared, momentarily petrified, and then removed their hats–a performance as unusual to them as was the astonishing innovation presented to their gaze by “Big Jim”. On the latter gentleman’s impassive face there appeared a slight flicker of triumph–a faint flicker, no more to be observed than the expression called there by the draft of little casino to a four-card spade flush.

Hoogley’s was animated. Electric lights shone as, indeed, they were expected to do. And the napery, the glassware and the flowers also meritoriously performed the spectacular duties required of them. The guests were numerous, well-dressed and gay.

A waiter–not necessarily obsequious–conducted “Big Jim” Dougherty and his wife to a table.

“Play that menu straight across for what you like, Dele,” said “Big Jim.” “It’s you for a trough of the gilded oats to-night. It strikes me that maybe we’ve been sticking too fast to home fodder.”

“Big Jim’s” wife gave her order. He looked at her with respect. She had mentioned truffles; and he had not known that she knew what truffles were. From the wine list she designated an appropriate and desirable brand. He looked at her with some admiration.