Why howdedo Mr. Wilkinson. . . . Kids are looking well. Well I'll be if that isn't Lily Herf's lil boy. . . . Jimmy you dont remember your . . . er . . . cousin, Joe Harland do you? Nobody remembers Joe Harland. . . . Except you Emily and you wish you could forget him . . . ha-ha. . . . How's your mother Jimmy?"
"A little better thank you," Jimmy forced the words out through a tight throat.
"Well when you go home you give her my love . . . she'll understand. Lily and I have always been good friends even if I am the family skeleton. . . . They dont like me, they wish I'd go away. . . . I'll tell you what boy, Lily's the best of the lot. Isn't she Emily, isn't she the best of the lot of us?"
Aunt Emily cleared her throat. "Sure she is, the best looking, the cleverest, the realest. . . . Jimmy your mother's an emperess. . . . Aways been too fine for all this. By gorry I'd like to drink her health."
"Joe you might moderate your voice a little;" Aunt Emily clicked out the words like a typewriter.
"Aw you all think I'm drunk. . . . Remember this Jimmy" . . . he leaned across the table, stroked Jimmy's face with his grainy whisky breath . . . "these things aren't always a man's fault . . . circumstances . . . er . . . circumstances." He upset a glass staggering to his feet. "If Emily insists on looking at me crosseyed I'm goin out. . . . But remember give Lily Herf Joe Harland's love even if he has gone to the demnition bowbows." He lurched out through the curtains again.
"Jeff I know he'll upset the Sèvres vase. . . . See that he gets out all right and get him a cab." James and Maisie burst into shrill giggles from behind their napkins. Uncle Jeff was purple.
"I'll be damned to hell if I put him in a cab. He's not my cousin. . . . He ought to be locked up. And next time you see him you can tell him this from me, Emily: if he ever comes here in that disgusting condition again I'll throw him out."