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title: 'The San Francisco call. (San Francisco [Calif.]) 1895-1913, January 19, 1913, Image 2',
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ffjjERE'S a letter from mother,"
Jj| exclaimed Mrs. Fenker, look
ing up from her morning's mail. "And
she's coming this afternoon."
She glanced at her husband with
the fatuous expression commonly as
sumed by communicators of evil tid-
ings who hope by an amiable distor
tion of the facial muscles to temper
the wind of circumstances to the
shorn lamb of destiny.
"Oh, Lord!" groaned Fenker, throw
ing down his napkin.
"I knew you'd say-that!" answered
his wife, as-if somehow this extraor
dinary foreknowledge on her part ren
dered his ejaculation the more repre
"Then she'll be here for our dinner
to the Bumsteads to-night! What do«
she want to come again for, anyhow?
She was here only five weeks ago,"
"I suppose she wants to get away
from Brooklyn," replied Mrs. Fenker.
"Of course it does seem as if she
might have chosen some other time.
But she hasn't—and she'll be here—
at 5 o'clock!"
"Confound It all!" Fenker almost
shouted. "I wish she was in Alaska
or Ssuth America—Or that we were.
Why, she positively lives here."
"Oh! you mustn't mind mother,"
coaxed his wife. "You ought "to be
used to her by this time."
"I should say I ought!" he retortel
"musn't mind mother! Ha-ha!
Musn't mind mother!' Why, she drives
me to drink!"
"I don't think you're at all nlcd
about her," she answered poutingly.
"I'm sure I don't ask her!"
"I know, dear! I know!" he agreed
more gently. "But I do so like to
spend the evenings alone and undis
turbed with you, dearie!"
"Sweetheart!" murmured' Mrs. Fen
l-.er, her eye in the teacup, forgetful of
long hours during which her husband
smoked in stolid silence and dozed
over the evening paper.
"Couldn't you telegraph her," he
suggested, "and 'stall' her off until
next week some time?"
"Oh!" she gasped, a frightful!
look coming into her face." I couldn't! j
1 shouldn't dare! Would you?"
"No," he retorted, "I shouldn't!
Why, she'd kick up' such a row we'd
never hear the last of It! And ;t
wouldn't stop her, either. I bet she
sits at home and makes elaborate cal
culations as to just what time in fin
month would put us out the most. She
never liked me, anyhow!"
--"Oh! yes, she did," expostulated Mrs.
"If you'd only have a little courage,"
he continued, "I'm sure you could cMt
her down to four times a year. She's
got so now she's here more than haif
the time! It ain't fair! It breaks up
"It is too bad, William!" admitted
Mrs. Fenker. "I hate it just as much
as you do. But nobody could stop
This, alas, was indeed true. Nobody
could possibly have stopped mother,
unless it were a charge of dyaamitv
Even then it is doubtful if she would
have been more than delayed. For
Mrs. Nelson Wellington Ironsides, the
mother of *Mrs. Fenker, was one of
those masterful women who with an
unswerving and blind faith in their
own theories feel that death itself
should not interfere with putting them
into execution. She regarded Fenker
as sometning less than a spineless
worm, and a spineless' worm he was
so far as was concerned, in her
presence he felt like a small boy bo
fore a terrioio uircniug head Blaster.
Hit. conv<:rc;at.icn shrank to yea, yea,
and niy, nay. He slunk into the
houm and out of it like a criminal cat,
and spent long hours at his business
office rather than confront her august
and powerful personality. Could he
have once risen up and thrown off the
yoke!—could he have assumed even
for one brief hour to assert himself,
all might have been well. But the
Creator had not favored him even with
a modicum of temerity. One glance
from his mother-in-law and he ran.
He did not even wait until he could
see the whites of her eyes!
"Well, we're just up against it once
more!" he sighed. "Anyhow, she's not
landed here yet! Maybe we could put
off the dinner—what do you think?"
"We couldn't do that," replied Mrs.
Fenker. "It would make a lot of talk
and mother might hear of it."
"Yes," he ground out savagely,
"mother would hear of it, you can bet
your life on that!"
"Well, I've got to go downtown and
order the things for dinner," said Mrs.
Fenker, getting up and moving toward
the door. "I do hope we shan't have
any trouble with the servants to-day.
I suppose you'll take the 8.15?"
"Yes," answered Fenker, looking at
the clock, which pointed to 7.55. "I'll
smoke about ten minutes longer, I
"He released the spring. Instantly a female voice began to address Mrs. Ironsides." !
People often wondered how the
Fenkers got along in life as well as
they did, considering their self-effac
ing characters. Servants, grocerymen,
plumbers, cab drivers, neighbors rotTe
roughshod over them without their ut
tering a word of proest. Mrs. Fenker
herself was the antithesis of he:
mother and took everything that came
her way with uncomplaining meeK
ness. It was torture for her to en
gage a cook, utterly impossible for
her to discharge one. Yet ofttimcs
their souls rebelled.
Only pride and the fear of a perma
nent military occupation of their es
tablishment prevented their calling
upon "mother" to run the house for
them and attend to all their domestic
There aas Patrick, the hired man,
for instance. Fenker was sure he
stole his cigars and everybody knew
he was the laziest man in town. Yet
Fenker could by no possibility either
have reprimanded or discharged him.
So, too, the cook, a militant Irish lady,
who arose when she pleased, did what
she pleased and went out when she
chose. In order to induce her to cook
a dinner for more than three or four
the Fenkers had to begin weeks before
hand gradually to aceommoJate h-r
mind to the idea of making the extra
effort. Both trembled at her approach
ing tread and wilted before the men
acing gleam of her large, oyser-likc
Maggie, the "second" girl, was
equally terrifying. No one knew why
she was called the "second" girl, as
there was no first, never had been
and never would be. But though sLe
was pert and independent, wore M*-*
Fenker's shoes and purloined her rib
bons and stockings, she res:ed secure
in the knowledge that neither he<
master nor her mistress would dare to
say anything to her. To-day, espe-
I cially, both of them expected trouole.
Copyright, VtVt. by i. t. Cui.ii«r « son.
Neither were they disappointed, for
Mrs. Fenker had hardly left the room
before Maggie entered imperiously and
fixed Fenker with a stern and relent
"Yell have to get in another girl
to help to-day," she announced authori
tatively. "Somebody's got to freeze
the ice cream."
"Ye-e-s?" stammered Fenker.
"Couldn't you possibly find time to
freeze it? After lunch, say?"
She pinned him in the eircumnam
bient air with a look.
"Me, is It? Freeze the ice cream!
Wid all I've got to do? A-ha!"
"Can't Patrick freeze it?" inquire!
her maeter mildly.
"Patrick says he's too busy!' she
snapped. "I'm thinkln' o' gettln' in
me cousin, Mrs. Murphy—Xora Calla
han that was. She'll be glad of the
chanoe to earn a couple of dollars."
Fenker knew very well that this wrs
but a subterfuge for the most obvious
extortion, that Maggie had seized the
opportunity to put on the screws, and
that she should have been firmly told
to do the work herself. But as usual
he was speechless before her and dis
"Oh, very well. As you think best.
By the way, will you please ask Pat
rick if he minds coming in here a
A few minutes later Patrick, red
faced and' touselled, and smelling
strongly of cigars, made his appear
ance. Fenker at first made a ridicu
lous bluff at not seeing him, until,
having mustered his courage, he
looked up and began in a conciliatory
"Oh, that you, Patrick? Yes, I sent
for you—what was it, now? Oh, yes.
My wife's mother, Mrs. Ironsides, is l
coming on the afternoon train and I j
want you to harness up the dogcart
and go to meet her."
Patrick's face turned a deeper shade
of red and then slowly to purple. He
seemed to control his emotions «ith
"Look here, Misther Fenker!" he
burst forth. "Shure and how have I
time to be harnessing dogcar;s and
going to the station to meet your
mother-in-law—me wid the lawn to
j mow and the drive to rake and clean
I up? I'd have to change all me clothes
I and wash down the wagon besides.
I Shure, 'tis only a quarter ay a mile —
she can walk. 'Twill do her good!"
Fenker, fully aware that he ougnt
to arise and blasphemously send Pat
rick packing, found himself unable to
stir. Neither could he think of even
the most obvious retort. He quailed
before Patrick as he quailed before
Maggie, Bridget and all their kind.
Usually when ne started out to upbra'd
them for their sloth and impertinence
he ended by sympathizing with them
and raising their wages.'
"Oh, well," he assented meekly, "'I
suppose it would sort of mix things
up. It will be all right. I can tele
phone to the livery stable for a hack
to meet her."
But Patrick had no sooner departed
than the humiliation swept over him.
"Coward!" he'groaned, clenching his
fist and grinding his teeth in the di
rection of the door. "Worm! Jelly
fish! 'Frald cat! Mollycoddle! Nin
compoop! Why can't you be a man
and run your own house?"
At this interesting juncture Mrs.
Fenker thrust her head through the
door on her way out.
"You still here, William? I thought
you were going to take the 8.15? It's
S.ll now. You can't possibly catch-it."
"Is it?" inquired Fenker indifferent
ly. "Well, I had to interview some of
the servants. Fact is, I told Magg'e
she could get in her cousin Nora to
help her with the ice cream. She told
me she could get her to come for a
couple of dollars."
"A couple of dollars!" retorted his
wife. "I should think she could! A
couple of dollars for freezing ice
cream! William, you are a"
"Well, what could I do?" he inquired
feebly. "You'd havo done the same
"Nothing of the kind," she answered
firmly. "1 should have sent her about
her business, a couple ot dollars in
deed! Why can't you assert yourself
and stand up to these people? If you'd
only have a little spunk and pu,t tnem
back where they belong"
At this moment a thundering tread
outside interrupted the thread of her
remarks and the massive form of Brid
get filled the doorway.
"I'll be needing some more help,"
she declared in a bass voice, a trifle
husky in the lower register. "I've en
toirely too much work on me hands
to be tookin' for a lot of extry people
*s_< haven't any more sense than to
be eettin' around taikin' and playin'
cards. What wid the laundry an'
standin' on me pore feet at the tubs
all d** 1 ' yesterday me old bones was so
sore I could hardly get out ay tied
at ail this morning. If ye can't send
over to the pasthry cook's for yer on
tray aud dessert it's no dinner yell be
havin' to-day if ye want me fer yer
"Why, Bridget!" expostulated Mrs.
"There's enough work for tin people
in this house, and only three to at
f end to it al'. 'Tis a job for naygers,
not for Christian white folks. Either
ye get in a helper or I'll be packin'
me trunk and takin' the first train for
"For heaven's sake, Bridget! You
mustn't leave us like this! Not to-day
a' any rate! W T hy, my mother is com
ing to visit us!" exclaimed her mis
"The divil Bhe is!" cried Bridget.
"Then it's lavin' I am —anyhow!"
"Well, well, get what help you need,"
■ hastily agreed Mrs. Fenker. "We must
get through with our dinner and then
we'll talk the matter over."
"I thought you were going to asse. t
yourself and show some spunk," Fenk
ei could not help twitting her. Then
he relented instantly, for his wiTe-
looked up as if sbe were going to cry.
"Never mind!" he consoled. 'The
trouble with us is we're just too kini
hearted. But I'd rather be easy tha
as mean as some folks I know of. You
have to humor these ignorant people
You wouldn't be anywhere if you
didn't. Life is a struggle, and it's bet
ter to duck some of the responsibili
ties than to break your spinal column
trying to shoulder them."
"It seems as if we were ducking all
the time!" sighed his wife. "Well,
goodby, William. Don't miss the 8.45."
Fenker sat disconsolately, wonder
ing what good he was in the world
anyhow. He knew that his trades
men cheated him right and left. He
oidn't have the courage to question a
single item on one of their bills. The
landlord went on raising the rent year
af:er year and he couldn't bring him
self to protest. And at the office—they
hadn't increased his salary for five
years, while less valuable men were
shoved on, up and up. Why hadn't
the Creator given him more of what
his old father had been accustomed to
term as "guts?" Could he ever ex
pect to bring himself to face his own
servants and put them in their places?
Mournfully he told himself that he
could not He was, as he had just
said, a coward, a jellyfish, a worm!
With these depressing thoughts
crowding in upon him he went up to
his room to get ready for the train.
As the master of. a household he was
a joke and he knew it.
"Man to see ye!" called Maggie from
halfway up the stairs.
"Who Is it?" he shouted down, ner
vously brushing his coat. He hated
"How do I know?" she retorted.
"Here's his card."
Fenker glanced at it hastily.
"The Friend of the jp4£fQ*
Broadway, New York.
'Tell him I'm just leaving -.he
house," he lirecteu. "I reall / aaven't
a momeui. yve misled one train
"Well, ye o-\a tell him yerself," re
marked Maggie, "for he's in the din
ing room already and I'm up fo hk I
neck in work."
The blood rushed to Fenker's slen
der neck, and for a moment he tJt
the fierce desire to kill. Then he pa
tiently descended the stairs, preparing
himself politely yet forcibly to send
his visitor avay. A tall, smooth
shaven man with a goatee, dressed in
a linen duster, stood surveying the
etchings on the walls. On the table
beside him lay a tall hat and a ma
hogany box, one on its "top and the
other on its bottom. A benignant
smile crossed his face at the sight of
the owner of the house.
"Have I the honor of addressing Mr
William Fenker?" he inquired with
the air of a grand seigneur.
"That's me," admitted Fenker.
"What do you want?"
"Only your good will," answered the
visitor pleasantly. "Nothing more."
"No money?" asked Fenker. "You
don't want me to buy anything, do
"Not at all! Not at all!" replied
the stranger. "My name is Rufus
Richardson. I am an inventor and I
desire to enlist your sympathy, inter
est and infldence in a project which
needs the backing of just a few inde
pendent, strong, resourceful men like
yourself. Mine is the most marvellous
Invention of the age."
"No money, eh?" queried his still
"Not a cent! A kindly word now
and then! That is all!"
"Well," said Fenker, trying to take
courage. "What's your proposition?"
Mr. Richardson waved his hand to
ward his mahogany box, a highly pol
ished affair some eighteen inches
"Inside yonder box," he announced
softly, "is concealed the solution of
the domestic problem."
"What?" said Fenker sharply.
"Of the whole domestic problem," re
peated Richardson. •
"How's that?" inquired Fenker, in
terested. "Sit down. Have a cigar?*
handed Richardson the box and
one himself. "The domestic
"Me ireeze the ice cream! Wid all I got to do?"
problem! Ha! ha!"
"By means of this innocent looking
box all the disagreeable duties of do
mestic life, so offensive to men and
women of sensitive natures, are per
formed automatically," announced the
"Auto-matically!" repeated Richard
"What do you mean?" incredulously
"Listen!" whispered the other im
pressively. "Do you dislike to dis
charge the cook?"
"Do I!" muttered Fenker.
"Does your nature rebel at having to
scold the children?"
"It certainly does!"
"Do you shrink from calling down
the hired girl?"
"Sure thing!" chirped Fenker.
"Does it bore you to discourage ped
dler* and book agwnts? To drive off in
surance men? To keep the neighbors'
children out of the garden?"
"You bet!" exclaimed Fenker.
"To remonstrate with your wife? To
induce your mother-in-law to end her
"Yes—yes—YES!" shouted Fenker
wildly, springing to his feet In his ex
"All these things and more," an
nounced Rufus Richardson solemnly,
"are done for you by the mere pres
sure of a spring."
"Impossible!" almost shrieked Fenk
"Nothing of the kind!" replied the
inventor, opening his grip and dis
closing a row of cylinders. "This
beautiful mahogany box upon the
table, the face of which is ingeniously
made to resemble a clock, contains the
ordinary mechanism of the phono
graph or graphophone. reinforced by
an invention of my own known as an
'intensifier,' which so acts upon any
roll or cylinder placed inside that the
resemblaace to the human voice is in
creased a thousandfold. It is impos
sible to detect at a distance of even
a few feet that the voice proceeds no:
trom a larynx but from a machine.
It i startling in its verisimilitude.
My pun is to v vlize the phonograph
(by means of my Intensifier) for the
urfui-mance of all those unpleasant
household duties so galling to sensi
tive natures, such as discharging the
ct_-»K, scolding the children, 'calling
Cawn' the hired girl and so forth.
Here are twenty rolls. Take your
choice! Each is adapted to some cri
sis or emergency of domestic exist
ence, and is labelled appropriately.
No. 1: 'How to call the dog.' No. 2:
'How to fire the office boy.' 'No. 3:
How to get rid of a male caller.' No.
4: 'How to get rid of a /e-male caller.'
No. 5: 'How to call down your mother
"Say that again!" said Fenker with
" 'How to call down your mother
in-law,' repeated Richardson with good
"Ah!" exclaimed Fenker.
"This set of 'mother-in-law' rolls
comes in a graduated scale: (a) —'How
to call down your mother-in-law gen
tly.' (b) —'Severely.' (c) —'How to soak
It to her.' (d) —'How to get rid of her
"Magnificent!" cried Fenker with en
"I tell you," said Richardson, beam
ing upon him, "it's the marvel of the
twentieth century. The biggest boon
ever conferred upon mankind. I cali
It 'The Friend of the Family.' "
"It's well named," agreed Fenker
"Let me give you a demonstration,"
urged Richardson. "What will you
have? Will you call the dog or
"I think," said Fenker, "I'll re-mon
strate a little with mother!"
"All right," answered the inventor.
"How will you give it to her? Gently?
"Oh, soak it to her!" burst out
"Good!" nodded Richardson." 'No
He removed a roll from his grip,
lifted up the top of the box, inserted
the roll, closed the box again and
held his thumb suspended for a mo
San Francisco Sunday Call.
"You press tlie button. It
| for mother-in-law!" >
He pressed a spring. There was a
click, followed by a whirring noise.
Then at Fenker's very elbow, so life
line in its sarcasm ana bitterness tnat
he was convinced some invisible hu
man being was uttering the words, a
voice began to "soak it" to an equally
invisible but clearly unwelcome fe
"E-e-e Oh—you—do, do you!
Well, let me tell you rignt now that
you don't know anything about it. We
can get on all right without you! No
one invited you to come, anyway!
Why don't you stay at home some of
the time? Instead of minding your
own business you come butting in here
and raising the dcvil —I say raising
the devil! And setting the whole
house topsy-turvy. It's the limit. Oh,
I know you're my wife's mother! I've
heard nothing else since I was mar
ried! I don't care if you were my
grandmother! I'm sick of you and
ycur interference in my affairs! I
won't stand it! I won't have it! I'm
boss here. And you can either hold
your tongue and behave yourself or —
"Marvellous! Marvellous!" cried
Fenker, capering around delighted'?#
"What a pity the old lady wasn't here?
What a waste of good ammunition?"
"Eh?" said Richardson innocently.
"What old lady?" Then after a pause:
"The rolls last forever and are adapt
ed for every emergency!"
"Wonderful!" reitera'ed Fenker,
Richardson removed the roll and put
it back in the grip.
"Every machine," explained its own
er, "carries with it an assortment of
ten rolls for general domestic use.
This includes 'Discharging the Cook,' -
'Scolding the Children,' &c. Of course,
If you prefer, you can make a selec
tion. You can have 'Scolding the
Cook' and 'Discharging the Children —
arrange it any way you choose. Tea
rolls you get for nothing and we sup
ply the others in order."
"Do —do —'the mother-in-law rolls'
come with the machine?" asked
"Certainly. Our No. 6-A, 'How to
Call Her Down Gently,'" assented
"Well, you can cut that out," ex
claimed Fenker, "and give me the last
two, including the grand boost."
"Just as you like. Now how about
the others?" • «
"Oh! Give me how to call down tire
second girl and hand a few to the
hired man—and fire the cook."
"Yes. What else?"
"By the way," said Fenker, "you
better give me some of those mother
in-law roVis in female."
"Yes, it's just as well to have
in either sex," assented the other.
"By thunder," muttered he after his,
visitor had departed. "I've lost that
second train, too. Stuck here now un
til 9.45. However, maybe I can try
•The Friend of the Family' on some
He sat down at the table and be
gan toying with the rolls.
"I wonder who I can try it on first?"
thought he. Just then there came 3
violent knock upon the window, Pat
rick's customary method of announ.
ing that he desired to speak to either
his master or his mistress. With a
grim smile Fenker slipped in one of
the rolls and then strode across and
threw open the window.
"There's something the matter wid
the lawn mower," he announced in a
fatigued manner. "I'm just goin' to
step down to the village to get her
This was a polite formula to express
the fact that he needed to slack hi 3
throat at the hotel bar.
"Come in here a moment, Patrick,"
said Fenker with unusual firmness.
"All right. I don't mind," answered
Fenker braced himself and took a
strategic position behind the table 3s
the hired man entered belligerently.
"I have decided to have you harness
that dogcart, Patrick," continued his
Patrick looked at him in dumb be
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