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The Cyclist's Cape

The Cyclist's Cape image
Parent Issue
Day
13
Month
November
Year
1896
Copyright
Public Domain
OCR Text

"You must take it," Mme. Reune said to her husband. She was a sroall brunette, thin and aggressive, who trongly reminded one of little pet dogs ■ who received visitors by snappiug and enarling at their heels as soon as the ! iront door is opened. Mr, Benüè wás a big, jolly dry goods Bttërohant, and he watched his spouse ruefully as she uiihooked a heavy cloth cape froni the rack in the hall. He had hoped against hope that for once she wonl forget to lamber hisbioycle with : that clurusy old cloak, it was suoh a bore. "It looks like ram," the little woman continued, "aud I am not going to allow yon to come back drenched to the skin, much as it would picase you. A cold means money, and our physioian ís a fooi. He is iucapable of curing either pneumonía or plenrisy. So kindly teil me what would become of me in case of your death? Do you suppose your parents are going to support me? No, indeed, and you kuow it, aud is I would never marry again I shouid have my bread to beg from door to door. Not that it would make much difference to yon, but I should prefer suicide to beggary." Whilo speaking with a fluency which ♦ould have done credit to a politician on a stumpiug tour, she rolled the cape into a tight bundie, tied a bit of string aronnd ir, aud there it was, ready to bo fastened on the handle of his wheel. "In your way?" she exclaimed in Bhrill repetition. "Well, I would really ]ike to know why? Oh, I see, it is not the swell thing, and you are afraid that the ladies you pass on the road will think you are carrying a bundie. Is that it? If you must know my ruind, I think I am a perfect idiot to allow you eo much freedom. How do I know ■where you go or what you do? You teil me any story you like wheu yon come óack, and it is false just as likely as not." Renne bowed his head patiently to the storm, for well he knew that one word, one timid protest, would exaspérate his wifo into f urther parley, and the disenssion would drag on indefinitely, but as today she seemed rather more amiable than usu;il lic held his tongue. "See that it does not touch the wheel or get soiled, " she went on. "If you use it, roll it up wrong side out again before replacing it, and do not lose the string as you did last time. What ore yon looking at? I really think you might have the civility to listen to me vrheu I speak to you. " Renne was contemplating with forced calm tho serene blue sky and trying to catch the placidity shiniug in its azure depths. "Picase do not kiss me goodby. I am not to be foolcd and cajolcd so easily. What are you waitiug for?" And, turning toward her husband, ehe saw him making mock gestores of poverty. "No money! Of course not, Well, here are 5 francs. I shall require an exact account of your expenses, though, and please look at the chauge. You are so apt to take cdds and ends of coin which are difficult to pass. Now go. Try to avoid driuking while you are warm and keep out of drafts. " Mr. Renno tucked the money into his ■waistcoat pocket, kissed his wife gravely - for he did not daré to appear too gay, as she would have deeply resented any manifestation of joviality - and started down the stairs in search of his bicycle with the necessary amount of moderation and decorum which he knew best snited Mme. Renne. As he fastened the cloak carefully by a strap to the bicycle he feit that sharp eyes were flxcd upou him from windows above, and as he pedaled away he carried the look witb him, like the fainons Parthian arrow of bygone days, stuck in his back. When once well out iuto the open country, he expanded his lungs and took in great breaths of air, while the blood rushed to his face and his eyes almost 6tarted from their sockets. Then, very elowly he exhaled it all until he grew pnle from - could it be relief? The gun, high in the heavens, shed its genial rays full upon him as he pedaled franticalJy along the highway, with arms akimbo, doubled nearly in two over his handlcs and wild with delight. The smooth white road unraveled before him like a bali of twine, the horizon appeared to advance toward him ia friendly welcome, and the bushes and trees, which looked like tiuy specks in the distance, grew steadily, as if by magie, under his gaze and assumed massive and stately proportions. To Mr. Renne the landscape seemed to be running the other way ; clumps of wood and bracken, little houses, elm trees, fields and milestones melted away before him ' like a bit of sugar. He whistled gayly ■ as his bicyelo devoured space, scorching down the hills, attaoking the np grades with easy assurance, while on a level no birdwould have entered into competition. It was sinaply glorious. Inste&d of crushing his daily cares and trials under his feet he rode lightly over them, and, leaving them far behind, looked back at them over his shoulderscornf nl ly, as if they were lost forever and as though it would be a useless effort on their part to attempt to catch up with him again. The idea, however, of their close proximity to his heels worked the pedáis faster and faster, while big drops of perspiration feil through the clouds of dust which his energy raised upon kbe road beneath. Almost intoxicated as he was by his I nithusiastic flígbt through space, he never noticed tbat the vicióos little striug aronnd his cape had slowly and wickedlyunfastened, as tnough itwanted to play him a nasty trick. While he was given over to his savage and all but animal eujoyment the hypocritical bit of cord snapped in two, and off flew the capelikea streakof light, nnuoticed byhis eye, whioh at the time was eagerly scanning a signpost. Nearly a mila behind him the cloak, black and inanimate, )ay ju the niiddle of the road, while the bicycle, lighter tíisn before, tore deliriously on its winged way. His blissful ignoranoe was short lived, however, and the awakening was most cruel, for, as he satunder the awning of a friendly restaurant, rapturously sipping sauterne and selters and gazing with dreamy eyes beaming witb love ' and pride a"t his wheel, whioh leaned I gracefully against a tree in front of him, a prcmonitioii seized him. What Was missing? And with a cry he sprang to his feet. It was the cape. Au instantaneous change passed over Renne's workl; the wine sonred; a sharp wind arose which rnffled his hair and temper ; ■ every old crack and büster showed out plainly on the varnished parts of his bicycle, and even the rubber tire looked miserable, notchy and worn. Renne's heart turned sick as he sat lost in dejected rcflection. All the energy and strength of mind which he brought so courageously iuto play while earning his daily bread seemed to meit away and disappear before the disas trous loss of the cape. As he sat with his head buried in tais hands lie pictured his return and reception by Mme. Renne. It would not take ber half a seeond to discover his misfortune, he thought, and welJ he knew wbat scènes would ensue - tears, laruentations, reproaches, sulks and outbursts of rage, in wbich the little vixen fairly reveled in her rnoments of uncontrolled fury. Graciousheavens! Seized with a chili, he hurriedly paid his bill at the restaurant, and, jumping on his poor old bicycle, which had beaten the record coming, he started homeward. One wagon passed him after the other - first a butcher's cait, next an old fat woman driving a donkey, then a gypsy wagon, with au impudent, long haired rascal who stared mockingJy but uneasily aftor him. Renne feit very much inclined to question him about his cape, but a feeling of reticence witliheld him, for he strongly suspected that the man had fouud it, and that it lay bidden somewhere under the lot of quarrnling, crying rats which filled the wagon back of him; so he pedaled on hopefully, believing that he might yet find it.ou the road just where it had fallen. And as he watched and thought it over bis temper rose scathing and sarcastic. A cloak, forsooth, with a summcr snn shining overhead. It was hot enougli to boil eggs. Oh, to the devil with the thingl He hoped that itwas lostforever. Wliat did he care? But suddenly the moeking look in the tramp's eyes carne back to him. Of course the fellow had found and taken his cape. Renne feit sure of it now. Wbat could he do about it, though - follow him and scarch his wagon? Suppose, after all, the man had never seen it - how like a fooi he would look! And so, little by little, his nnger subsided, and the ridiculous side of tho affaii preseuted itself tohis mind so forcibly that he feit like screaming with laughter. His wife appeared bofore him in a different light altogether. She was no longer a being to be dreaded, but to be ridiculed, and he pondered slowly over a summary vengeance to be administered upon the tormentor who had been oppressing him for years. He would bear no more of her petty perseoutions. Neither vould he drag coats and rapes about on his bicycle tbrongh the summer heat and dust, aud they rnight as well understand each other for once. But as he pedaled along different conEiderations suggested themselves to his excited irnagination. The cloak was new and had cost 29 francs. It was stupid of hiia to have lost it. And if his wife had urged - nay, forced - him to carry it, it was more frem love than hate. After all, it wonld be idiotie to lose it, and the instinct of ownership awakened within him as he thonght of the old Bohemian driving his wagon, and perhaps laughing at him in his beard as he passed, and in tnruing the angle of the road ho shook his fist revengefully after the tramp. "Where is your cloak?" called out Mme. Renne in shrill accents bef ore he was off his wheel. "Oh, heavens, you have lost itl" And she raised her hands in horror. "My cloak? Oh," indifferently, "it was too hot and heavy to lug about, and I sold it. " "Whatl You sold it?" stammeredthe small scold, gazing upon him with a ruingling of fear and distrust in her eyes. irhe began to fear for his reasou. This calm might turn into fury. He cculd not be sane. Drawing 35 francs from his pocket, he handed them to her and ?aid, "Yon see, I have made 6 francs by the bargain, and you can buy yourself a little present with the surplus. " Still worried and suspicious, although utterly disarrued, she wanted to kuow in a breath where andhowand towhom he had sold his cape. "I met a poor fellow in a cafe who was ill with a severe cold orsomething. He had a bad cough and eyed my cape EO wistfully that we entered iuto conversation, you understaud," and he whistled gayly, delighted with his clever falsehood. He had been hoarding his pennies for days to eke out these 35 i francs, but he thought them well iu! vested, for at least he was rid of his odious cape. His wife turned the nioney over thoughtfully in her hand, and after a moment's pause said, "I will buy yon anotJer exactly like it tomorrow." Pau! Marguerite iu Parisiau.

Article

Subjects
Old News
Ann Arbor Democrat