Kate Riley, Richling & Ristofalo

From Dr. Sevier, Chapter XXXV--

"Well, Mr. Richlin'!" cried Mrs. Riley, as she opened her parlor door in response to a knock. "Well, I'll be switched! Ha! ha! I didn't think it was you at all. Take a seat and sit down!"

It was good to see how she enjoyed the visit. Whenever she listened to Richling's words she rocked in her rocking-chair vigorously, and when she spoke stopped its motion and rested her elbows on its arms.

"And how is Mrs. Richlin'? And so she sent her love to me, did she, now? The blessed angel! Now, ye're not just a-makin' that up? No, I know ye wouldn't do sich a thing as that, Mr. Richlin'. Well, you must give her mine back again. I've nobody else on e'rth to give ud to, and never will have." She lifted her nose with amiable stateliness, as if to imply that Richling might not believe this, but that it was true, nevertheless.

"You may change your mind, Mrs. Riley, some day," returned Richling, a little archly.

"Ha! ha!" She tossed her head and laughed with good-natured scorn. "Nivver a fear o' that, Mr. Richlin'!" Her brogue was apt to broaden when pleasure pulled down her dignity. "And, if I didn, it wuddent be for the likes of no I-talian Dago, if id's him ye're a-dthrivin' at, -- not intinding anny disrespect to your friend, Mr. Richlin', and indeed I don't deny he's a perfect gintleman, -- but, indeed, Mr. Richlin', I'm just after thinkin' that you and your lady wouldn't have to self-respect for Kate Riley if she should be changing her name."

"Still you were thinking about it," said Richling with a twinkle.

"Ah! ha! ha! Indeed I wasn', an' ye needn' be t'rowin' anny o' yer slyness on me. Ye know ye'd have no self-respect fur me. No; now ye know ye wuddent, -- wud ye?"

"Why, Mrs. Riley, of course we would. Why -- why not?" He stood in the door-way, about to take his leave. "You may be sure we'll always be glad of anything that will make you the happier." Mrs. Riley looked so grave that he checked his humor.

"But in the nixt life, Mr. Ritchlin', how about that?"

"There? I suppose we shall simply each love all in absolute perfection. We'll --"

"We'll never know the differ," interposed Mrs. Riley.

"That's it," said Richling, smiling again. "And so I say, -- and I've always said, -- if a person feels like marrying again, let him do it."

"Have ye, now? Well, ye're just that good, Mr. Richlin'."

"Yes," he responded, trying to be grave, "that's about my measure."

"Would you do ut?"

"No, I wouldn't. I couldn't. But I should like -- in good earnest, Mrs. Riley, I should like, now, the comfort of knowing that you were not to pass all the rest of your days in widowhood."

"Ah! ged out, Mr. Richlin'!" She failed in her effort to laugh. "Ah! ye're sly!" She changed her attitude and drew a breath.

"No," said Richling, "no, honestly. I should feel that you deserved better at this world's hands than that, and that the world deserved better of you. I find two people don't make a world, Mrs. Riley, though often they think they do. They certainly don't when one is gone." . . .

"Marridge is a lottery, Mr. Richlin'; indeed an' it is; and ye know mighty well that he ye're after joking me about is no more nor a fri'nd." She looked sweet enough for somebody to kiss.

"I don't know so certainly about that," said her visitor, stepping down upon the sidewalk and putting on his hat. "If I may judge by" -- He paused and glanced at the window.

"Ah, now, Mr. Richlin', na-na-now, Mr. Richlin', ye daurn't say ud! Ye daurn't!" She smiled and blushed and arched her neck and rose and sank upon herself with sweet delight.

"I say if I may judge by what he has said to me," insisted Richling.

Mrs. Riley glided down across the door-step, and, with all the insinuation of her sex and nation, demanded: --

"What'd he tell ye? Ah! he didn't tell ye nawthing! Ha, ha! there wasn' nawthing to tell!" But Richling slipped away.

Mrs. Riley shook her finger. "Ah, ye're a wicket joker, Mr. Richlin'. I didn't think that o' the linkes of a gintleman like you, anyhow!" She shook her finger again as she withdrew into the house, smiling broadly all the way in to the cradle, where she kissed and kissed again her ruddy, chubby, sleeping boy.

Ristofalo came often. He was a man of simple words, and of few thoughts of the kind that were available in conversation; but his personal adventures had begun almost with infancy, and followed one another in close and strange succession over lands and seas ever since. He could therefore talk best about himself, though he talked modestly. "These things to hear would Desdemona seriously incline," and there came times when even a tear was not wanting to gem the poetry of the situation.

"And ye might have saved yerself from all that," was sometimes her note of sympathy. But when he asked how she silently dried her eyes.

Sometimes his experiences had been intensely ludicrous, and Mrs. Riley would laugh until in pure self-oblivion she smote her thigh with her palm, or laid her hand so smartly against his shoulder as to tip him half off his seat.

"Ye didn't!"


"Ah! Get out wid ye, Raphael Ristofalo, -- to be telling me that for the trooth!"

At one such time she was about to give him a second push, but he took the hand in his, and quietly kept it to the end of the story.

He lingered late that evening, but at length took his hat from under his chair, rose, and extended his hand.

"Man alive!" she cried, "that's my hand, sur, I'd have ye to know. Begahn wid ye! Lookut heere! What's the reason ye make it so long atween yer visits, eh? Tell me that. Ah -- ah -- ye've no need fur to tell me, Mr. Ristofalo! Ah -- now don't tell a lie!"

"Too busy. Come all time --wasn't too busy."

"Ha, ha! Yes, yes; ye're too busy. Of coorse ye're too busy. Oh, yes! ye air too busy -- a-courtin' thim I'talian froot gerls around the Frinch Mairket. Ah! I'll bet two bits ye're a bouncer! Ah, don't tell me. I know ye, ye villain! Some o' thim's a-waitin' fur ye now, ha, ha! Go! And don't ye nivver come back heere anny more. D'ye mind?"

"Aw righ'." The Italian took her hand for the third time and held it, standing in his simple square way before her and wearing his gentle smile as he looked her in the eye. "Good-by, Kate."

Her eye quailed. Her hand pulled a little helplessly, and in a meek voice she said: --

"That's not right for you to do me that a-way, Mr. Ristofalo. I've got a handle to my name, sur."

She threw some gentle rebuke into her glance, and turned it upon him. He met it with that same amiable absence of emotion that was always in his look.

"Kate too short by itself?" he asked. "Aw righ'; make it Kate Ristofalo."

"No," said Mrs. Riley, averting and drooping her face.

"Take good care of you," said the Italian; "you and Mike. Always be kind. Good care."

Mrs. Riley turned with sudden fervor.

"Good cayre! -- Mr. Ristofalo," she exclaimed, lifting her free hand and touching her bosom with the points of her fingers, "ye don't know the hairt of a woman, surr! No-o-o, surr! It's love we wants! 'The hairt as has trooly loved nivver furgits, but as trooly loves ahn to the tlose!'"

"Yes," said the Italian; "yes," nodding and ever smiling, "dass aw righ'."

But she: --

"Ah! it's no use for you to be a-talkin' an' a-pallaverin' to Kate Riley when ye don't be lovin' her, Mr. Ristofalo, an' ye know ye don't."

A tear glistened in her eye.

"Yes, love you," said the Italian; "course, love you."

He did not move a foot or change the expression of a feature.

"H-yes!" said the widow. "H-yes!" she panted. "H-yes, a little! A little, Mr. Ristofalo! But I want" -- she pressed her hand hard upon her bosom, and raised her eyes aloft -- "I want to be -- h -- h -- h-adaured above all the e'rth!"

"Aw righ'," said Ristofalo; "das aw righ'; yes -- door above all you worth."

"Raphael Ristofalo," she said, "ye're a-deceivin' me! Ye came heere whin nobody axed ye, -- an' that ye know is a fact, surr, -- an' made yerself agree'ble to a poor, unsuspectin' widdah, an' [tears] rabbed me o' mie hairt, ye did; whin I nivver intinded to git married ag'in."

"Don't cry, Kate -- Kate Ristofalo," quietly observed the Italian, getting an arm around her waist, and laying a hand on the farther cheek. "Kate Ristofalo."

"Shut!" she exclaimed, turning with playful fierceness, and proudly drawing back her head; "shut! Hah! It's Kate Ristofalo, is it? Ah, ye think so? Hah-h! It'll be ad least two weeks before the priest will be after giving you the right to call me that!"

And, in fact, an entire fortnight did pass before they were married.