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Dougherty’s Eye-Opener
by [?]

She was beaming with the innocent excitement that woman derives from the exercise of her gregariousness. She was talking to him about a hundred things with animation and delight. And as the meal progressed her cheeks, colorless from a life indoors, took on a delicate flush. “Big Jim” looked around the room and saw that none of the women there had her charm. And then he thought of the three years she had suffered immurement, uncomplaining, and a flush of shame warmed him, for he carried fair play as an item in his creed.

But when the Honorable Patrick Corrigan, leader in Dougherty’s district and a friend of his, saw them and came over to the table, matters got to the three-quarter stretch. The Honorable Patrick was a gallant man, both in deeds and words. As for the Blarney stone, his previous actions toward it must have been pronounced. Heavy damages for breach of promise could surely have been obtained had the Blarney stone seen fit to sue the Honorable Patrick.

“Jimmy, old man!” he called; he clapped Dougherty on the back; he shone like a midday sun upon Delia.

“Honorable Mr. Corrigan–Mrs. Dougherty,” said “Big Jim.”

The Honorable Patrick became a fountain of entertainment and admiration. The waiter had to fetch a third chair for him; he made another at the table, and the wineglasses were refilled.

“You selfish old rascal!” he exclaimed, shaking an arch finger at “Big Jim,” “to have kept Mrs. Dougherty a secret from us.”

And then “Big Jim” Dougherty, who was no talker, sat dumb, and saw the wife who had dined every evening for three years at home, blossom like a fairy flower. Quick, witty, charming, full of light and ready talk, she received the experienced attack of the Honorable Patrick on the field of repartee and surprised, vanquished, delighted him. She unfolded her long-closed petals and around her the room became a garden. They tried to include “Big Jim” in the conversation, but he was without a vocabulary.

And then a stray bunch of politicians and good fellows who lived for sport came into the room. They saw “Big Jim” and the leader, and over they came and were made acquainted with Mrs. Dougherty. And in a few minutes she was holding a salon. Half a dozen men surrounded her, courtiers all, and six found her capable of charming. “Big Jim” sat, grim, and kept saying to himself: “Three years, three years!”

The dinner came to an end. The Honorable Patrick reached for Mrs. Dougherty’s cloak; but that was a matter of action instead of words, and Dougherty’s big hand got it first by two seconds.

While the farewells were being said at the door the Honorable Patrick smote Dougherty mightily between the shoulders.

“Jimmy, me boy,” he declared, in a giant whisper, “the madam is a jewel of the first water. Ye’re a lucky dog.”

“Big Jim” walked homeward with his wife. She seemed quite as pleased with the lights and show windows in the streets as with the admiration of the men in Hoogley’s. As they passed Seltzer’s they heard the sound of many voices in the cafe. The boys would be starting the drinks around now and discussing past performances.

At the door of their home Delia paused. The pleasure of the outing radiated softly from her countenance. She could not hope for Jim of evenings, but the glory of this one would lighten her lonely hours for a long time.

“Thank you for taking me out, Jim,” she said, gratefully. “You’ll be going back up to Seltzer’s now, of course.”

“To —- with Seltzer’s,” said “Big Jim,” emphatically. “And d—- Pat Corrigan! Does he think I haven’t got any eyes?”

And the door closed behind both of them.