"He has marked your poor face!
Oh, George, what a brute you are!
Nothing but scandals from one end of the week to the other.
Everyone hating and making fun of you.
You've finished my patience.
This ends it."
"Dirty linen," he rumbled.
"It's not a secret," she cried.
"Do you suppose that the whole street—the whole of London, for that matter—— Get away, Austin, we don't want you here.
Do you suppose they don't all talk about you?
Where is your dignity?
You, a man who should have been Regius Professor at a great University with a thousand students all revering you.
Where is your dignity, George?"
"How about yours, my dear?"
"You try me too much.
A ruffian—a common brawling ruffian—that's what you have become."
"Be good, Jessie."
"A roaring, raging bully!"
"That's done it!
Stool of penance!" said he.
To my amazement he stooped, picked her up, and placed her sitting upon a high pedestal of black marble in the angle of the hall.
It was at least seven feet high, and so thin that she could hardly balance upon it.
A more absurd object than she presented cocked up there with her face convulsed with anger, her feet dangling, and her body rigid for fear of an upset, I could not imagine.
"Let me down!" she wailed.
"You brute, George!
Let me down this instant!"
"Come into the study, Mr. Malone."
"Really, sir——!" said I, looking at the lady.
"Here's Mr. Malone pleading for you, Jessie.
Say 'please,' and down you come."
"Oh, you brute!
He took her down as if she had been a canary.
"You must behave yourself, dear.
Mr. Malone is a Pressman.
He will have it all in his rag to-morrow, and sell an extra dozen among our neighbors.
'Strange story of high life'—you felt fairly high on that pedestal, did you not?
Then a sub-title,
'Glimpse of a singular menage.'
He's a foul feeder, is Mr. Malone, a carrion eater, like all of his kind—porcus ex grege diaboli—a swine from the devil's herd.
That's it, Malone—what?"
"You are really intolerable!" said I, hotly.
He bellowed with laughter.
"We shall have a coalition presently," he boomed, looking from his wife to me and puffing out his enormous chest.
Then, suddenly altering his tone, "Excuse this frivolous family badinage, Mr. Malone.
I called you back for some more serious purpose than to mix you up with our little domestic pleasantries.
Run away, little woman, and don't fret."
He placed a huge hand upon each of her shoulders.
"All that you say is perfectly true.