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before she turned upon the Foley woman, to crush her utterly.
This she was preparing to do, when the undertaker, figuratively speaking, interposed his official arm and stayed the threatened blow. Attended by the pallbearers, he proceeded to adjust the lid upon the casket and screw it down. At his signal the pall-bearers took up the sombre burden, and passed out of the house with it. The slight flutter which had run its course through the assemblage during these operations subsided when the undertaker, with a sheet of paper in his hand, took his stand in the doorway. The men, to most of whom their Sunday clothes seemed irksome, stared alternately at the undertaker, the ceiling, each other, and the floor. The women fanned themselves complacently, and steadily watched the undertaker and the hallway behind him.
'Mrs. Cornelius Keegan and Francis Keegan," called the undertaker.
The widow and her eldest son passed slowly down the hallway.
"Master John Keegan and Miss Katie Keegan."
The undertaker paused until he heard the slamming of the carriage door, before he called the next quartette. The reading of the list went on monotonously. Kearney was using her fan upon herself now. She was waiting her turn.
"Mrs. Margaret Foley and Miss Foley." Mary Kearney could scarcely believe her ears. Mrs. Foley arose, and as she moyed to her place in the line with her daughter, she smiled at Mary Kearney. That smile!
Mrs. Kearney's fan had been moving very lazily, but now, as they say in the aquatic news, it "increased its stroke perceptibly." It beat a tattoo upon her ample chest. The undertaker droned out still other names, and her anger grew apace. At length he announced:
"Mrs. Michael Kearney and Miss Kearney," and folding the paper, put it in his pocket.
She was last, absolutely last! And Mag Foley at least six carriages ahead of her!
"Come on, Mom, what's the matter with you? Didn't you hear us called?" Miss Kearney plucked her mother by the sleeve.
"Let be," said her mother, "there's time enough an' to spare."
"Why, Mom, what's got inter you, anyhow. Aint you goin'?''
When Michael Kearney came home from his day's work, he had the whole story served up to him with his supper. He was a mild man, but proud of his family and jealous of their rights. His wife knew his tender spot, and she charged his bosom with the surplus of indignation which overflowed from her own. The war against the Foleys was on again in earnest.
It was a waiting game, a contest that dragged through weeks and months that were barren of incident, for the members of the two families met only at public social functions, such as funerals and weddings and the like. Even then there would be no open clashing; no tongue lashings or breaking of heads. It was purely and simply a struggle for social supremacy, conducted upon lines remarkably similar to those which prevail among the ladies who fret their lives away on the West Side.
The Boilermakers' Union was to hold its "Fifth Grand Annual Ball and Reception" on the third Saturday in October. Mr. Kearney was a member in good standing, and his interest in the organization was further increased by reason of the near approach of the annual meeting, at which the officers for the ensuing year were to be elected. Mr. Kearney had never held an office, but he shared with a certain other distinguished man, the modest belief that it wasn't so very hard to be president, and if his fellow citizens should insist upon it they might have him.
It was a foregone conclusion, therefore, that the Kearneys would attend this ball. Also, it was quite probable that the Foleys would be there. John Foley, the eldest son, and the main support of the family, was a member. Whether or not he was in good standing, Kearney did not know, but he had his doubts about it. At any rate there were great preparations in the Kearney household, and Miss Katie Kearney announced somewhat boastfully to Maggie McCloskey, a great tale-bearer who frequently visited the Foleys, that she bet her
THE KEARNEY LUCK.
folks would "make as good a front as anybody there."
The eventful night arrived. great success, and so were the Kearneys. Their friends told them that the Foleys, who were also there, "were not in it with them." Mrs. Kearney, on the arm of her husband, and Miss Katie, on the arm of Eddie Gorman, who hoped to be her husband some day when he could afford it, walked in the grand march not very far behind the president and his wife, who led. Mrs. Foley and John also walked, but they were far behind the Kearneys. In the windings of the line across the broad floor Mrs. Kearney passed close to Mrs. Foley, but she did not “see” that lady at all. Out of the tail of her eye, however, she caught sight of Mrs. Foley nodding to her with the old sweet smile, and it made her uncomfortable for the moment. She stealthily put up a hand to make sure that her hair was not coming down.
She wondered if there could be anything wrong with her dress. A cheerful smile can work such misery. But when it was all over, Mrs. Kearney was quite happy, and her sleep that night was full of pleasant visions.
Mr. Kearney reading his "Journal" the next morning, came upon a report of the ball that occupied nearly a column. He began to read it to himself, but a certain paragraph presently caught his eye and brought him up standing. He skimmed hastily through the remainder of the article, snorting all the while. Then he called to his wife, who was busy in the kitchen.
“Here," said he, "listen teh this. 'Tis a long editorial in the 'Journal' about the ball last avenin'. Mind this: 'Among the handsome matrons who participated in the gran' march was Mrs. Margaret Foley, resplendent in black silk and lace.' An' here, in another place, it sez: 'There was an unus'al number of purty buds present,' and thin it gives a list, an' among them is 'Miss Mamie Foley,' no less."
"But," said Mrs. Kearney, "what does it say about us?”
"Not a dom word!"
"What!" she cried, and sank into a chair. For several seconds she sat speechless, feeling her triumph of the night before slipping away from her, bit by bit. Then she said:
"That's what she was a-smilin' about, the sneakin' cat!"
"Go, you!" she added, "and get the other papers. We'll see has she got a pull wid all o' thim."
Kearney went out, and returned presently with a great bundle of Sunday papers, which represented an outlay of close upon fifty cents. Together they labored through the printed pages, but while they found in some of the papers merely a bare mention of the event, the others gave it not so much as a line. The "Journal," making a strong bid for popularity among the working classes at that time, was the only one to spread upon it.
Late in the afternoon Mr. Kearney, in all the dignity of his best clothes, called at the "Journal" office and demanded to see the editor. He was held up by a uniformed menial, and he got no further.
"What do you want to see him about?" asked the uniform brusquely.
"I'll tell me business teh him," said Kearney.
"Well, I guess you won't 'till he knows what your business is. Tell it to me first."
Kearney came down a few pegs, and explained his grievance. His wife and his daughter were as good as Mrs. Foley and her daughter, he said, and he wanted the editor to put a little piece in the next morning's paper to say that they had been at the ball too.
past an' gone. There's no helpin' it now, but the dish o'stirabout that has wan man's spoon in it t'day may have another's in it themorrow."
Mrs. Kearney felt that her opportunity would come eventually, and she was a good waiter.
Some few weeks later it became whispered in society that there was to be a wedding in the Foley family before the winter was over. Miss Mamie Foley was to be the bride of young Timothy Grogan, who had been saving his small wages with that end in view for some time past. This news, which reached her through the inspired Maggie McCloskey, was particularly aggravating to Mrs. Kearney. Only a few days before, her own daughter Katie had confided to her the joyful tidings that "her Eddie" had been given a substantial raise by his boss. Mrs. Kearney considered Eddie Gorman a good boy, and she recalled that Michael Kearney and she had been married on much less than the income which Katie's young man now commanded. The young people were anxious to be married, and Mrs. Kearney had thought seriously of arranging the wedding for some date before Christmas. It was galling to have the Foleys anticipate her.
as though they meant to fling a challenge in her face. That night she talked the matter over with her husband, and the question was decided.
Some few days later Katie Kearney went out of her way to meet Maggie McCloskey on the street, to whom, after a few diplomatic preliminaries, she imparted the information that she was to be married in December. From time to time after that, bits of news, boastful vauntings, stray facts, and some things which were not facts but which were put out as such, passed between the rival houses through the medium of Maggie McCloskey.
It was finally definitely settled that both weddings were to take place on the third Wednesday in December, in their respective parish churches.
The few days just prior to the eventful one were full of feverish interest. There were a hundred and one things to be done, and each must be done better than the enemy did it.
Mrs. Kearney, mindful of the virtue that glows in coals of fire, went out upon a
special errand in the shopping district on Saturday.
The next day Maggie McCloskey met Katie after church.
"That was a nice silver-plated butter dish your mother sent to Mamie," she said. "It was fine. Ain't it wonderful how they can make 'em so fine fur only $1.95?"
Katie bit her lip. What could her mother have been thinking of not to have had the price-mark taken off.
"Mrs. Foley's present to you won't be finished till Tuesday," the crafty Maggie continued, "it's bein' gettin' made fur a week. I won't tell you what it is."
On Tuesday a small boy brought Mrs. Foley's present to Katie. It was a gold brooch made from a two-dollar-and-a-half gold piece, the side which had once been the obverse of the coin bearing the initials K. K., with little delicate tracery around them.
These little curlycues looked to Mrs. Kearney like the reproduction of so many "Foley smiles." At any rate they had the same effect upon her.
She was in a very bad humor on the wedding morning. A number of little things had gone wrong, and she could not forget that in the exchange of gifts, Mrs. Foley had gotten considerably the better of her. She was fearful of what the day might bring forth, and yet she was not easily daunted.
The Foley-Grogan wedding took place at noon. Several of Mrs. Kearney's "trusties" were there, of course, and they came back to her post-haste and told her all they had seen at the church and the house. Mrs. Kearney took their several reports, shrewdly allowed for their natural bias, and from the whole computed an estimate, which showd her that honors would apparently be about easy. She told herself that she would be quite satisfied if nothing unforeseen should happen to mar her daughter's wedding, which was set for 6 o'clock.
At 3 o'clock, to her great disgust, it began to snow, and the big wet flakes descended steadily all afternoon. However, the bride and groom were provided for. Barney Flynn's new cab, burnished up to the nines, would carry them, and the others could walk. It was only a matter of four or five blocks anyway. Let the weather be bad as it might. What odds,
if everything else moved smoothly?
THE KEARNEY LUCK.
Precisely at 5.40 Barney Flynn drove up to the door. There were white ribbons in the horse's mane, and a white bow decorated his whip. The roof of his cab was white with snow, and so indeed was the roof of his hat. He gleefully called attention to these facts, seeing in them a happy augury. A blushing young woman, gowned in spotless nainsook, was helped into the vehicle by a very nervous young man with a painfully white face, who took his seat beside her, and slammed the door.
"Take yer time an' give us a little the start of ye," Mrs. Kearney called to Barney as she hurried along beside her husband.
Barney slowed his horse down to a walk and allowed the old people to disappear from his view in the white mist. Feeling assured at length that they had had ample time to reach the church, he put the whip to the mare and dashed along merrily. Approaching the cross street upon which the electric cars ran he pulled up a bit, but hearing no warning gong, went ahead again. The next moment he saw his mistake, but it was too late. A car running full tilt, contrary to all regulations, bore down upon him. There was a crash and the tinkle of broken glass, and the shouting of many voices. The cab, with its right rear wheel shorn completely off and the back badly smashed, toppled over at an angle of 45 degrees. Barney was down and tearing open the door in an instant.
“Is she hurted?" he asked anxiously. The bride was jammed up in the corner. She could not speak when they lifted her out, but she rallied in a few seconds and began to laugh hysterically. The bridegroom moved about her like a man walking in his sleep. The motorman, white with fright, finding that no one was badly hurt, relieved his feelings with a few choice remarks directed at Barney Flynn; to which that worthy replied in kind. And the passengers, crying out with practical unanimity against the motorman, took up Barney's cause and offered to appear in court as witnesses if necessary.
The bride, in the meantime, had recovered herself pretty thoroughly.
"Here," she cried, "we'll be late.” The bridegroom looked at her in surprise.
"You ought to be glad you ain't killed,” one of the passengers ventured to remark. "I am," she returned, "but I might as well be dead as standin' here all night."
The bridegroom spoke for the first time. "What are you goin' to do then?" he asked.
"Walk to the church, of course," she replied with resolution.
And so she did, all in her thin white slippers and flimsy nainsook frock; and the bridegroom, lost in admiration of her pluck, trudged on with her, and found it difficult to follow the rapid pace she set.
Mrs. Kearney, sitting in a front pew of the church, had craned her neck around to look at the door at least a score of times. She was growing very anxious. She could see the priest waiting in the sanctuary, and she knew it was many minutes past six.
At length there was a slight rustle of expectancy at the rear of the church. They were coming. They were coming. Mrs Kearney glanced
back once more to be certain of it. Merciful powers! What was this? Mrs. Kearney was not the sort of woman to faint, but she very nearly did at that moment.
Was this her daughter, this pale, bedraggled creature?
A murmur of wonder rippled through the church as she passed up the middle aisle on the arm of her limp bridegroom, looking neither to right nor left, but with eyes set steadily ahead. The priest met them at the chancel rail, and a look of questioning surprise flickered across his countenance for a moment. Then he began the marriage ceremony.
Mrs. Kearney seemed to lose consciousness of earthly things for a time. She did not fully recover her senses until it was all over and she was standing in the vestibule of the church, holding her fainting daughter in her arms.
Mrs. Foley poured the second cup of coffee for her son John, and buttered a slice of bread for her old and palsied father.
"That was a close call Katie Kearney had last night," said John, across his saucer of hot coffee, "but I guess she wasn't much the worse for it."
"Ah! no," his mother replied, “twas a providence she wasn't kilt. Them that was at the church an' seen her says she did look forlorn, poor thing, wid her dress all wet and draggy, an' her face like a ghost. She looked little enough like a bride, they do be sayin'. But she wasn't hurted, and
HARK YE! MERRIE GLEEMEN.
Heaven knows, that must be a comfort to her mother. Thank Heavens, there was nothin' like that fur Mamie.
"Say, Mom," interrupted John, with a crafty leer, "talk fair for onct. Yer almost tickled to death about it, now, honest, aint yer?"
'God forgive ye, fur sp'akin' the like o' that to yer own mother, John Foley,' exclaimed Mrs. Foley. But John merely smiled, and sucked in the last of his coffee.
A younger Foley, who had been out at play on the street, danced into the room.
"Katie Kearney's pixture's in de papers" he cried. "Say, youse oughter see it. It makes her look like a real lady, all right; and, say, everybody 'round here's talkin' about it."
"What's that?” said John. "Who told you that?"
"Nobody didn't tell me; I seened it in all de papers; an', say, maybe dey don't lay it on t'ick. One's got a big long piece on de foist page, an' it says 'A Brave Young Bride,' an' it tells all about 'er, an' says, why she's jist as purty as what she is brave, an' dey say de car comp'ny 'll have ter cough up big damages, too. An' maybe ole man Kearney ain't up in