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transported to the other house, supplying simple and meager
deficiencies from her own resources.
Arobin found her with rolled sleeves, working in company with
the house-maid when he looked in during the afternoon. She was
splendid and robust, and had never appeared handsomer than in the
old blue gown, with a red silk handkerchief knotted at random
around her head to protect her hair from the dust. She was mounted
upon a high stepladder, unhooking a picture from the wall when he
entered. He had found the front door open, and had followed his
ring by walking in unceremoniously.
"Come down!" he said. "Do you want to kill yourself?" She greeted him
with affected carelessness, and appeared absorbed in her occupation.
If he had expected to find her languishing, reproachful, or indulging
in sentimental tears, he must have been greatly surprised.
He was no doubt prepared for any emergency, ready for any one
of the foregoing attitudes, just as he bent himself easily and
naturally to the situation which confronted him.
"Please come down," he insisted, holding the ladder and
looking up at her.
"No," she answered; "Ellen is afraid to mount the ladder. Joe
is working over at the `pigeon house'--that's the name Ellen gives
it, because it's so small and looks like a pigeon house--and some
one has to do this."
Arobin pulled off his coat, and expressed himself ready and
willing to tempt fate in her place. Ellen brought him one of her
dust-caps, and went into contortions of mirth, which she found
it impossible to control, when she saw him put it on before
the mirror as grotesquely as he could. Edna herself could not
refrain from smiling when she fastened it at his request. So it
was he who in turn mounted the ladder, unhooking pictures and
curtains, and dislodging ornaments as Edna directed. When he had
finished he took off his dust-cap and went out to wash his hands.
Edna was sitting on the tabouret, idly brushing the tips of a
feather duster along the carpet when he came in again.
"Is there anything more you will let me do?" he asked.