IN THE KOK-KEE
A dramatic story of the clash of wills in a domestic struggle that ended in a hitter triumph
WILL E. INGERSOLL
WHEN Cal Dumble brought his wife home, people pitied her. They did not pity her because Cal was a poor provider, but because she was married to Cal.
Cal was far from being a poor provider. He was a good provider; even a plentiful provider, as far as the actual providing went. Dumble had. as phrenologists would say, a natural bump of acquisitiveness and was the kind of man who would never lack gcxxis nor the means to get g;xxls. But to live with him that was more than Kate should ask any woman to do!
Mr. and Mrs. Cal Dumble arrived home on a Kriday. Driving into the dooryard of her future home with Cal, Annie Dumble saw a weathered frame farmhouse built in ground plan like a letter 'I'; the stem of the T housing the kitchen, and the cross part the living room and. upstairs, the bednxjms. The cross part had a front door facing the road, a company door.
Cal Dumble did not drive up to the company door and let this new-made wife out there. He drove his car around and 'stopped near the kitchen door in the stem part of the T. The house was set squat on a hill that had once been green and round like a bowl bottom but was now pitted and scarred with the marks of busy living. Other ix>rtions of the hilltop were occupied with barn, granary and a sty of shrill-squealing hogs. Cattle, red and white and spotted, grazed on the knolls beyond.
Annie Dumble stepped out of the car in which Dumble had brought her home. There moved no woman to meet her as she stepped toward the Dumble kitchen d;x_>r.
Annie dangled the kitchen d;x»r key which Dumble had handed to her. She was a little. earnest-l(x>king woman. Seen from across the yard, she kx>ked forlorn. But seen from near at hand, there was not a particle of forlornness in her aspect nor anything begging sympathy. She kx>ked as though she yearned to have a bnx>m in her hand and to be turning a frying pan on the stove. She was pretty with a competent and combed and red-fingered prettiness.
When Dumble had put away the car. he came into the house. He was a down-looking man. with a scheming, absorbed face. 1 lis eyes glanced at one’s belt line as though he were planning a place to strike below it.
But his shoulders straightened back bullyingly as he approached his wife.
“Well, here we are." he said. Then he turned and hung up his hat. He jxoired water into a granite basin that sUxxl on a bench near the d;x>r. As he turned back his sleeves he kx)ked around for the soap. “Where did you put the soap?” he asked his wife.
"No place,” returned Annie Dumble, breaking eggs diligently into the frying pan. under which she had a fire crackling. "Ayn’t seen the soap sir.” Annie Dumble was a little Londoner; not the Ontario London, but the big London beyond the Atlantic.
Dumble had found the soap. He glanced at her as she added the "sir." It pleased him definitely. He liked the look of her in this domain. Handy with the frying pan, and said "sir.”
Dumble washed, towelled, and, his hair bristling wet and uncombed, squared down at the table. Annie brought the eggs to him, served him neatly, served herself, sat down tidily beside the teapot. It was somewhat gcxxl to see her so. Dumble regarded her quellingly.
Annie Dumble did not return his look. She kept her eyes down, ate neatly and quietly, was watchful of his needs, kept his teacup filled, did not disturb his meditation.
“You won’t need any help in the house here, with just the two of us and one hired man." Dumble said in a minute. What he meant was, “You won’t get help.”
Annie Dumble waited till she had finished -chewing the bite she had nibbled from a scxla cracker. Then she said, ». "No, sir.”
Dumble. in the doorway after dinner, his hat on the back of his head, looked back at his house interior, with Annie Dumble humming and tapping about in it. Already she had the table cleared of the meal; the dishes scraped and piled, hot water in the dishpan.
Dumble was satisfied for the time. But as he went out into the field, he schemed to break into her calm some way. The calm, even though it was a tractable calm, of his newmade wife seemed to overcrowd Dumble a little. He was not yet quite certain that she was. as he put it, in her place. 1 íe would see to the matter of beginning to put her in her place when he came in from the field that night.
CUPPER was on the table punctually ^ when nails of txx)t-heels of healthyhungry men squealed on the Dumble doorstone that evening. There were four heels; those of Cal Dumble, and those of Joe Streeter who worked for Dumble.
Dumble came in first, after his way. I íe swung iiis hat to a hook over the wash bench and surveyed the table. No fault there. Then he went to the stove and lifted the stove lid. Aha!
Annie Dumble was down in the dug cellar, under the flooring, getting the butter and cream for the table.
Presently her little clearskinned face and hair bun appeared through the trap d(x>r in the floor. She came quietly. She smiled at Dumble. It was rather a pretty smile, but Dumble’s mind was not on wifely smiles. Joe Streeter, who was five years younger than Dumble. noticed the smile.
Streeter’s head was full at the nape of the neck, and his chin came out in a little ledge. Streeter accepted the smile for himself, and smiled back at Annie.
Annie Dumble regarded him casually.
“Why.” said Cal Dumble in a loud voice, “are you using that tamarack wood? Didn’t I tell you to use up the poplar first?”
“I was biking a batch of biskit, sir.” Annie Dumble answered without inflection as she set down the cream, “and I needed an ot fire.”
“Didn’t I tell you to use the poplar?” Dumble repeated.
“Are you going to use the poplar from now on. or aren’t you?”
“Yuss. sir. I’ll use the poplar.”
Now there is no way of reproducing in description the way Annie Dumble made that answer. She made it in a monotone, with a simple and rather sweet look upward at Dumble; a look that he might easily have accepted as dutiful, entirely dutiful. But the encounter left him vaguely unsatisfied.
Joe Streeter lingered a moment or two after Dumble had gone out to the stable to begin on the after-supper chores.
“See you stick to that poplar wood.” he said with a roguish look.
“Sir!” said Annie Dumble, erecting her slim, small self like a sapling let go. The word whistled through the air like a dart. Streeter clapped on his hat crookedly with haste, and went out.
The poplar wood was used thereafter, diligently and with economy, and the tamarack was left against the onset of the colder fall weather. Dumble had got his order obeyed ; but, all the same, he felt as though he .had settled nothing.
Soon and unexpectedly there came another chance for a clash. One of the Dumble cows had developed chapped teats and was difficult to milk. Annie Dumble had been faithfully milking all the cows, but one evening she said to her husband:
“I think, sir, as ’ow Streeter should milk that brindled cow. She’s very restive with her sore teats, and I can’t get about as smart in my skirts as what ’e can.”
“Hey?” said Dumble.
Annie patiently and painstakingly repeated her plea.
“No!” Dumble banged down his fist. “No, certainly not. Joe’s busy in the field all day, and he wants his rest after he gets through the stable chores like any other man. Milking’s a woman’s job, not a man’s. You go ahead and milk your cows.”
There was never a word of protest or argument from Annie Dumble. Laboriously she chased the cow with the chapped teats. Cleanly she milked the cow, in spite of the difficulty.
Now Dumble began to be satisfied. He had not been
satisfied before, but he began to be satisfied now. Annie Dumble was his dutiful subject, the best housekeeper he had ever had and one who worked for nothing. He had had to pay his hired housekeepers from twenty to thirty dollars a month; he paid Annie Dumble not a cent and for better work—work, moreover, that was cheerfully and properly done. Not only did she work for nothing, but she bought her clothes, and Dumble's clothes too. with her egg and butter money, which also paid the grocery bills.
Dumble was satisfied. No more protests came from Annie, and this he took as confirmation that his empire was safe. His bank account, aided by Annie’s thrift, grew faster. All was well.
"IPVUMBLE’S wealth also expanded in other directions.
These other directions had not to do with Annie Dumble’s exertions but with his own.
It was Dumble's ambition to make his original quartersection homestead the centre of a block of land comprising roughly a thousand acres or a section and a half. Luck, as Dumhle saw it, had favored him in the case of the three quarter sections which were the remainder of the section of which his own homestead was the southwest quarter. The whole section was excellent land, rolling and loamy, with fair, arable stretches broken only by small dotting poplar groves and willow clumps which could be let stay as shelter for barns or. if wished, easily removed from the path of Dumble’s gang plows.
The circumstances which had favored Dumble. and which he considered luck, in the case of tire tenants of the three quarter sections he wanted to add to his own, were these:
The northwest quarter had been homesteaded by a man who was a good farmer but who had developed the “sugar diabetes” as it was called locally. The neighbors held the malady had developed because this farmer’s wife was “forever feeding him cakes and pies and she made them far too rich.” But the point important to Dumble was that the diabetic farmer died—this being in 1911 and before the day of insulin -and Dumble was able to buy out the widow for next to nothing, thus acquiring the northwest quarter and becoming the owner of the whole west half of the section.
The northeast quarter had also been easy enough to get. Tom Lucas, who had homesteaded it, was a good landlooker
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In the Kok'Kee
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and a good farmer, but he had a bad habit of “running his face,” that is to say, of asking credit and of using his cash for luxuries and parties and periodical sprees instead of settling his bills. Lucas was soon in trouble and Dumble provided him with cash, taking his note. It was, therefore, not long till Dumble was the owner of the northeast quarter. Now he had threequarters of a section or, roughly, half of his contemplated thousand acres.
There was some slight friction connected with Dumble’s acquirement of the southeast quarter of the section of which he now owned three-quarters. This southeast quarter had belonged to one Corney O’Toole, who had sown it diligently to barley. These incessant barley crops aroused Dumble’s curiosity, as O’Toole had no hogs. He made investigations, and one night in the course of these investigations met O’Toole and sacrificed the bridge of his (Dumble’s) nose to curiosity. But Dumble considered the nose bridge well lost, as all he had to do to acquire the southeast quarter was to reveal certain facts about the unauthorized manufacture on O’Toole’s farm of barley beer and other beverages. This made him the owner of a whole section of land—640 acres of his thousand—and that was that.
It was in the second year of his reign over Annie Dumble that Cal Dumble completed thus his acquisition of a section of land. This proprietorship of a whole section made it necessary to add two more hired men to his farm staff, making a total of four men on the place, including himself. Contemplation in advance of the task of cooking and washing for and “redding up” after four men. brought from Annie Dumble her first faint protest in nearly twenty-four months.
She suggested that the farm staff be further increased, but not by another man. Annie’s mild suggestion was that one of the newly-arrived and therefore temporarily inexpensive European immigrant girls would be a great help to her if Dumble could see his way clear . . .
But Dumble could not. He glared and banged his fist on his palm and said:
“No! No, sirree, bob; you’re the doctor around the house here. Speed up a little if you find you’re gettin’ behind. Speed up. Hired girl, nothin’!”
Annie Dumble made no protest. She even seemed —or was it just Joe Streeter’s mutter as he groomed his horses, evenings, with thrusts of the currycomb—she even seemed to dike being summarily denied things by Dumble. Joe Streeter had in fact the idea that now she made these requests on purpose to enjoy the sensation of being refused. In other words, she delighted in being reigned over by Dumble.
Annie settled, as it were, into her collar and hames and pulled a little harder, and became month by month a little thinner— or was it merely lean and trim from the increased and incessant exercise?
The third year of the reign of Dumble began serene and supreme. Annie Dumble now cooked for, laundered for and otherwise took care of four men. She milked eight cows, and brought 300 prime chickens
through thrifty egg-laying winters to vigorous springs and in due course to the “clawking” time when they wanted to set and did set and brought yellow squadrons of chicks to swell the army of Annie’s cares. The grocery bills continued to be paid with eggs and butter, the proceeds of which also bought Annie’s clothes and Dumble’s and there was even a surplus of cash for Annie to hand over to the Emperor Cal Dumble. This, or a portion of it, Dumble might have spent in buying Christmas or birthday presents for a good little wife. But he did not so spend it. He banked it, along with the returns from his fields, his contract work, and his manipulation of mortgages.
It was in the beginning of this year— which, by the way, was the historic year 1914—that Dumble began to concentrate upon the acquirement of the half-section just across the road allowance on the west of his section. This land, when secured to him, would give him, roughly, his thousandacre block, with the road allowance, on which was a first-rate road, running through it direct to market.
This half-section across the west road allowance was lovely land. Dumble had sat at his west window and had dreamed upon it through many rosy sunsets; his eyes, though, not upon the purple heaven and the evening star, but upon the substantial and desirable glebe below.
T_JE COULD, however, think of no way to get that farm. The young couple who had bought the half-section—which had not been Government land open for homesteading but part of the railway company’s grant—were poor enough. They had all they could do to meet their payments to the railway company. But they were thrifty and industrious and, though the going was hard just now, were managing to “scrape through,” as Dumble put it irritably, and meet their payments and taxes each fall. They were a long way yet from having the place paid for, but they had never in any season failed to meet current dues, including store bills. As they were both young and hard as nails and abominably healthy— no chance of diabetes stepping in there—and sober and too sagacious to borrow from Dumble or anybody else, Dumble could not for the life of him see how he was to establish any hold upon that half-section.
Help came to him from a quarter totally unexpected, from an event as unexpected as an earthquake would have been. If anybody had told Cal Dumble that his friend in this time of need would be an old man of eighty odd years of whom he had never seen nor even heard nor would have ever heard except for the event . . . But nobody told Dumble this because nobody, at least no one in Dumble’s neighborhood, knew in advance that the Emperor Franz Josef of Austria was going to propel the world into the Great War in the harvest month of this very year. Nineteen Fourteen, in which Cal Dumble was angling for the Jackes farm.
Cal Dumble was not soon to forget the fall day of that same year when, coming in from the field at noon, he ran into, in his
own dooryard, a red-eyed young woman, the wife of his young neighbor who owned the half-section across the road allowance. She was not naturally red-eyed. She was red-eyed because she had been crying.
“What’s up, what's up, Mrs. Jackes?” Cal Dumble said in his mechanically genial way. “You’ve been having a little cry about this and that, hey? Cheer up, cheeeer up. That’s no way to go on. Laugh and the world laughs”
“H-he’s going to the front.” Young Mrs. Jackes could not keep her voice from breaking.
“Tommy’s going to the war.”
“Tommy’s going to the war!” Dumble 1 repeated the whole sentence through before it began to dawn upon him what this announcement meant. Then emotion swelled in his throat in such a sudden lump that he almost choked.
“Oh.” he said, and continued to look at. or rather toward, young Mrs. Jackes. “Oh. O-ho. So Tommy’s off to join the colors?” Then, in a minute, controlling his voice, Dumble asked, as it were casually: “But how about the farm? Who’s going to carry on the farm? You haven’t finished paying for it yet, have you?”
“We haven’t got it half paid for,” sobbed Jackes’ wife. “But Tommy don’t care for that. He’s been like as if he was crazy since this war broke out.” She passed on, crying.
Dumble did not go into the house at the moment. He went back, down to the granary. He climbed into the wheat bin. sat down, dug his heels into the sliding yellow' grain, and beamed all over with his sudden delight. He sat there in a luxury of delight, enjoying his delight, hugging it to him. He glanced out exultantly through the door toward the Jackes' farm. Then he lay back on the banked golden wheat, folded his arms behind his head and smiled; smiled, as it were, from his forehead right down to his toes.
So Tom Jackes was going to the w'ar. Some of the single men had already gone, but no one at this stage expected the married men to go—that is, popular opinion left it largely to their own option—and Cal Dumble had never even thought of Tom Jackes going to the front. But evidently he was going. Well, if Jackes w'ent to the war, that meant the loss by Tom Jackes of the Jackes half-section. Dumble knew Jackes’ bank account was practically nil. He had appraised Jackes’ successive crops and had figured the couple’s yearly income and outgo, and knew shrewdly that they had just been holding their own and had nothing saved ahead.
Cal Dumble got up at length from his seat on the rich wheat dune, and went back to the house in a glow.
“Fine day,” he remarked to Annie Dumble, as he sat down at the table and squared off to eat. The two were alone for the time being, as the hired men were busy on the northwest quarter and had taken their lunch in a box to eat in the diabetic farmer’s house, which was still standing and was used in season as a granary and out of season as a bunkhouse.
Cal Dumble never talked to his wife about business matters, but he was so elated over the Dumble luck in the matter of the Jackes half-section that he could not help making a remark or two about it.
“Maybe Sally Jackes will need a little help with her farm payments this fall,” he said, or rather mused aloud. “Tom would never let me help him, but she might. We’ve got money laying in the bank that might as well be doing something. I’ll advance Sally a little this fall.”
Annie Dumble brought the teapot to the table. She pulled the cosy down over it. Then, instead of sitting down, she continued standing.
Dumble paid no attention to her at first. He helped himself to meat and potatoes, took up knife and fork, and began to “feed from both sides” as he called it; that is to say, from the right with the knife and from the left with the fork.
But as the minutes passed and Annie Dumble continued to stand, he found her
posture and silence getting on his nerves a little.
“Sit dowrn, s’down,” he invited casually. Annie Dumble continued to stand.
“Well, stand up then if you’d sooner,” Dumble said after a moment, a little testily. As he said it. he cast an irritated glance toward her, raising his eyes to about the level of her apron band.
CHE stood facing him. Dumble’s glance ^ travelled on, up over the bib of the apron, over the tidy and firm little bust yet maiden of any nursing (Dumble did not like children) till his eyes reached the chin.
For the first time, his glance was halted by the petite squareness of Annie Dumble’s chin; or, as Dumble would have said, by the way her chin stuck out. Then his eyes sw'ept on upward, over the cheeks w’ith their prairie rose color and their clear tan. His glance came to rest eye to eye with his wife, and Dumble knit his brows quellinglv as he found that she was looking straight at him. straightly and deliberately, and had probably been so looking at him for some moments.
Her eyes were thoughtful and rather wistful. But there was something else in them that Dumble did not like at all; some feeling that looked as though it had come dowm to her with the strength of generations and centuries behind it and had lifted Annie Dumble for the moment quite out of character—or perhaps, at long last, into character. Some wray, she was feeling her oats—that was the way Dumble phrased it in his mind as he looked at her. She was looking at him in a way that made him feel as though he had ceased entirely to be the boss; as though, in fact, she, his docile, free housekeeper for five years, now possessed and operated him.
“Sit down!” This time Dumble did not say it casually. He said it harshly, deliberately, incisively.
But Annie Dumble did not move.
"Sit down, will you. Sit down!” This time Dumble’s voice had almost a note of panic.
Annie Dumble moved, but. not to sit down. She came around, walking quite deliberately, until she stood beside his chair. Then she spoke, and her voice had a timbre tremulous with power, and her accent was perhaps the most pronounced Old Londonese, the most violent Cockney, Dumble had ever heard in all his days:
“Ee-yeou should be in the kok-kee.” “Eh?”
“Ee-yeou should be in the kok-kee.” “What are you tryin’ to say to me?” "Ee-yeou should be off to the front, so you should.”
“O-oh, that’s it! I should be in the karky, hey? Now, who are you to tell me I should be in karky or out of karky? I’m not asking you whether I should be in karky or whether I shouldn’t be in karky. You go and sit down over there and keep your mouth shut. Understand?”
For the space of a single indrawn breath there was silence. Then Annie Dumble said, with a passion that now possessed her little light person from crown to toe:
“You’re my ’usband and ee-yeou should be in the kok-kee. Else what will people say?”
Dumble wanted to tear her in quarters. He rose from his chair in blind, impotent fury. He knit himself and scuffed toward her.
But Annie Dumble never moved an inch. She looked up at him with a pride and feeling that refused to accept his negation or recognize his anger.
“Ee-yeou should be in the kok-kee. Fytin’ for your country. Ee-yeou’re my ’usband. Ee-yeou should be in the kok-kee.” Dumble looked at her. He fought to keep himself tense and masterful. But he found himself unknitting, backing away. He banged himself into his chair, finished his dinner, and went out from her. Annie Dumble said no more to him for that one day.
But that was not the end of it. It was only the beginning. In the days and weeks that followed, she never ceased. Dumble
went to meals, to work, to bed. to the tune of that passionate, reiterated cry, “Ee-yeou should be in the kok-kee.”
He had thought he owned her as completely as he owned any of the farm implements, as amenably as he owned any of the farm chattels. But he did not own Annie Dumble. She owned him.
“Ee-yeou’re my ’usband. Ee-yeou should be in the kok-kee.”
And he had to do it. He had to get into khaki. There was not in all the West a more surprised man ¿han Dumble when he found himself one day in khaki, headed for overseas. Constant dropping had worn away the stone of his resistance, had actually taken him put of character, even as the coming of the war and her country’s ancient need had lifted little Annie Dumble out of her peacetime character and into command.
JOE STREETER, as senior hired man on the now 6-10-acre Dumble farm, was placed in charge when Dumble left for overseas. Streeter had marvelled at the fuss, as he called it, that Annie Dumble had made over the cowed, sullen, nervous and aaxious Cal during the last moments before his detachment had left the local station. She had hung about his neck and cried his khaki shoulder all wet. She had alternately held him at arms’ length and looked at him with her whole face fervent and shining, and caught him to her and sobbed herself to a shred. She had still been sobbing as she shoved the dazed Dumble on to the train.
“If you didn’t want him to go,” asked the matter-of-fact Streeter as he had driven Annie Dumble home in the Dumble runabout, “why did you nag the life out of him till he got into uniform? I’m sure he didn't want to go.”
Annie Dumble had flashed up a wet face from her drenched pocket handkerchief.
“Oh. didn’t ’e want to go! Oh, didn’t ’e? A lot you know about it. And now I'll tell you a bit for yourself. Ee-yeou should be in the kok-kee, so you should ! Ee-yeou should ’ave been off with ’im today; that’s where you should ’ave been, Mr. Joe Streeter.”
Joe Streeter had shrunk away from her. He had shrunk into his very soul at the sound of that deadly iteration, that potent, passionate importunity that had driven even domineering, stubborn Cal Dumble into khaki. Streeter was his late employer’s twin in not wanting to go to this nuisance of a war that had arisen overseas and was drawing—as Streeter saw it—fool Canadians and fool Englishmen and fool Americans and fool Frenchmen and fool Icelanders and fools of all nationalities to “something new, just something new, that’s all.” But what if the blast, the weight of that terrible withering hounding importunate “Ee-yeou should be in the kok-kee,” were now turned upon himself? Well, it could have but one end. Into khaki he would get, and overseas he would go; overseas to a place where law was dead, and men, for no particular purpose that Streeter could see, hunted other men with vehicles of agonizing death.
But Annie Dumble’s weeping postlude, a moment later, relieved Streeter.
"If you were one o’ mine, you should ’ave been off to the front too, Joe Streeter. But you am’t, so it’s your own affair. But clown’t you talk up to me, ee-yeou slacker, ee-yeou! Ee-yeou keep yourself to yourself.”
If keeping himself to himself meant not to mention the war or Cal. Joe Streeter was willing enough. Dumble had appointed him foreman. He would reign in Dumble’s
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place and keep himself to himself and bide his time.
But here another surprise awaited Streeter. It was Annie Dumble herself who decided to reign. She still did the tasks that Dumble had appointed for her; still milked the eight cows, still did the housework single-handed, still washed and cooked and mended for the three men that were left on the Dumble farm. But in addition she saw to it that the men fully earned their wages. She got them out to work early, checked what they had done, found them tasks for rainy days, attended to these things exactly as Dumble himself had done. When conscription came and the two junior hired men went, Annie made Joe Streeter—who had claimed and received exemption as a farm manager—go out and find three old men to take their places.
She was governed wholly by the absent Dumble, though for some reason she received no letter, not the scratch of a pen, from him. She was governed by his wishes, as expressed in his orders, given when he was home. She hired no girl, she permitted no extra expense in operating the farm. She even managed to cut down the expenses slightly. She kept the grocery bills and all other bills paid on time. She kept everything in such order that if Dumble had come home at any time, he would have found the farm running along as though he had never been away. Only in one thing did Annie Dumble run counter to what would have been Cal Dumble’s course—she helped lonely little Sally Jackes to keep the Jackes half-section till Tom came home with a blighty, his left arm stiff forever but himself otherwise sound and able to carry on and continue his payments on the farm, which was thus placed out of Dumble’s reach for all time.
As the months passed after Tom Jackes came home, Annie Dumble, for all her passionate patriotism, did at length permit herself to hope that Cal Dumble, too, might come home with a blighty. He had been away three and a half years, he had done his bit, he could come home at any time with honor now.
But what Dumble eventually received was not a blighty. One morning there came a telegram from the War Office . . .
All that day Annie Dumble shut herself away in her room with the telegram. This was the only slack day the Dumble farm staff had had in all the years. All day Annie shut herself up with the telegram, and in the evening she came forth, wept almost to a shadow. She came forth from her room, and braced herself, and got supper for the men, and milked the eight cows.
A day or so later she said to Joe Streeter: “We must see and get up a tombstone for ’im.”
“A tombstone!” Joe Streeter exclaimed. “Why, he lays over in France.”
“We shall put up a tombstone for ’im in the cemetery here,” said Annie Dumble. “It don’t signify whether ’e's under it or not. It’ll remind the others”—she glanced at Streeter—“that ’e’s done ’is bit. Not like some.”
When the war and its occasion and glory had receded some years into memory, Annie Dumble married Joe Streeter. She married him because she hoped for a son of her own, and she was by that time getting a little faded, and Streeter was the man most convenient, and they had been long associated and she knew the worst about Streeter— that is to say, had nothing to find out— and she had long known that he would have her.
And when she got from Joe Streeter the son Dumble would never have given her, she called him Cal Dumble, thus providing him in his christened name with a surname too, the surname of a man who had gone to war when his country needed him.
Little Cal Dumble is five years old now. Annie Dumble Streeter has kept title to the Dumble farm and reigns over it absolutely. It is her will and purpose that when she passes, or if little Cal should reach years of discretion before that, a Cal Dumble shall again reign in her stead.