Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!

by [?]

In most affairs, except those which related to his matrimonial ventures, Marcus Antonius Saterlee was a patient man. On three occasions “an ardent temperament and the heart of a dove,” as he himself had expressed it, had corralled a wife in worship and tenderness within his house. The first had been the love of his childhood; the wooing of the second had lasted but six weeks; that of the third but three. He rejoiced in the fact that he had been a good husband to three good women. He lamented that all were dead. Now and then he squirmed his bull head around on his bull body, and glanced across the aisle at the showy woman who was daintily picking a chicken wing. He himself was not toying with beefsteak, boiled eggs, mashed potatoes, cauliflower, lima, and string beans. He was eating them. Each time he looked at the lady he muttered something to his heart of a dove:

“Flighty. Too slight. Stuck on herself. Pin-head,” etc.

With his food Saterlee was not patient. He dispensed with mastication. Neither was he patient of other people’s matrimonial ventures. And, in particular, that contemplated and threatened by his son and heir was moving him across three hundred miles of inundated country as fast as a train could carry him. His son had written:

“DEAREST DAD–I’ve found Dorothy again. She’s at Carcasonne. They thought her lungs were bad, but they aren’t. We’re going to be married a week from to-day–next Friday–at nine A.M. This marriage is going to take place, Daddy dear. You can’t prevent it. I write this so’s to be on the square. I’m inviting you to the wedding. I’ll be hurt if you don’t show up. What if Dorothy’s mother is an actress and has been divorced twice? You’ve been a marrying man yourself, Dad. Dorothy is all darling from head to foot. But I love you, too, Daddy, and if you can’t see it my way, why, God bless and keep you just the same.”


I can’t deny that Marcus Antonius Saterlee was touched by his son’s epistle. But he was not moved out of reason.

“The girl’s mother,” he said to himself, “is a painted, divorced jade.” And he thought with pleasure of the faith, patience, and rectitude of the three gentle companions whom he had successively married and buried. “There was never any divorce in the Saterlee blood,” he had prided himself. “Man or woman, we stick by our choice till he or she” (he was usually precise) “turns up his or her toes. Not till then do we think of anybody else. But then we do, because it is not good to live alone, especially in a small community in Southern California.”

He glanced once more at the showy lady across the aisle. She had finished her chicken wing, and was dipping her fingers in a finger-bowl, thus displaying to sparkling advantage a number of handsome rings.

“My boy’s girl’s mother a painted actress,” he muttered as he looked. “Not if I know it.” And then he muttered: “You’d look like an actress if you was painted.”

Though the words can not have been distinguished, the sounds were audible.

“Sir?” said the lady, stiffly but courteously.

“Nothing, Ma’am,” muttered Mark Anthony, much abashed. “I’m surprised to see so much water in this arid corner of the world, where I have often suffered for want of it. I must have been talking to myself to that effect. I hope you will excuse me.”

The lady looked out of the window–not hers, but Saterlee’s.

“It does look,” she said, “as if the waters had divorced themselves from the bed of ocean.”

She delivered this in a quick but telling voice. Saterlee was shocked at the comparison.

“I suppose,” she continued, “we may attribute those constant and tedious delays to which we have been subjected all day to the premature melting of snow in the fastnesses of the Sierras?”