On that particular morning the McTeagues had risen a half hour earlier than usual and taken a hurried breakfast in the kitchen on the deal table with its oilcloth cover. Trina was house-cleaning that week and had a presentiment of a hard day's work ahead of her, while McTeague remembered a seven o'clock appointment with a little German shoemaker.
At about eight o'clock, when the dentist had been in his office for over an hour, Trina descended upon the bedroom, a towel about her head and the roller-sweeper in her hand. She covered the bureau and sewing machine with sheets, and unhooked the chenille portières between the bedroom and the sitting-room. As she was tying the Nottingham lace curtains at the window into great knots, she saw old Miss Baker on the opposite sidewalk in the street below, and raising the sash called down to her.
'Oh, it's you, Mrs McTeague,' cried the retired dressmaker, facing about, her head in the air. Then a long conversation was begun, Trina, her arms folded under her breast, her elbows resting on the window ledge, willing to be idle for a moment; old Miss Baker, her market-basket on her arm, her hands wrapped in the ends of her worsted shawl against the cold of the early morning. They exchanged phrases, calling to each other from window to curb, their breath coming from their lips in faint puffs of vapor, their voices shrill, and raised to dominate the clamor of the waking street. The newsboys had made their appearance on the street, together with the day laborers. The cable cars had begun to fill up; all along the street could be seen the shopkeepers taking down their shutters; some were still breakfasting. Now and then a waiter from one of the cheap restaurants crossed from one sidewalk to another, balancing on one palm a tray covered with a napkin.