Page:My Life and Loves.djvu/228

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194
MY LIFE AND LOVES.

"I've lots to tell, Tommy," I said, "but now I must eat my supper at express rate or your sister'll be angry—" I added as Kate came in with some steaming food: she pulled a face and shrugged her shoulders with contempt.

"Where do you preach?" I asked the grey-haired father, "my brother says you're really eloquent—"

"Never eloquent," he replied deprecatingly, "but sometimes very earnest perhaps, especially when some event of the day comes to point the Gospel story—" he talked like a man of fair education and I could see he was pleased at being drawn to the front.

Then Kate brought me fresh coffee and Mrs. Gregory came in and continued her meal and the talk became interesting, thanks to Mr. Gregory who couldn't help saying how the fire in Chicago had stimulated Christianity in his hearers and given him a great text. I mentioned casually that I had been in the fire and told of Randolph Street Bridge and the hanging and what else I saw there and on the lakefront that unforgettable Monday morning.

At first Kate went in and out of the room removing dishes as if she were not concerned in the story, but when I told of the women and girls half-naked at the lakeside while the flames behind us reached the zenith in a red sheet that kept throwing flame-arrows ahead and started the ships burning on the water in front of us, she too stopped to listen.

At once I caught my cue, to be liked and admired by all the rest; but indifferent, cold to her. So I rose as if her standing enthralled had interrupted me and said:

"I'm sorry to keep you: I've talked too much, forgive me!" and betook myself to my room in spite