Tantissimi classici della letteratura e della cultura politica,
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Abbe Prevost - MANON LESCAUT
Alcott, Louisa M. - AN OLDFASHIONED GIRL
Alcott, Louisa M. - LITTLE MEN
Alcott, Louisa M. - LITTLE WOMEN
Alcott, Louisa May - JACK AND JILL
Alcott, Louisa May - LIFE LETTERS AND JOURNALS
Andersen, Hans Christian - FAIRY TALES
Anonimo - BEOWULF
Ariosto, Ludovico - ORLANDO ENRAGED
Aurelius, Marcus - MEDITATIONS
Austen, Jane - EMMA
Austen, Jane - MANSFIELD PARK
Austen, Jane - NORTHANGER ABBEY
Austen, Jane - PERSUASION
Austen, Jane - PRIDE AND PREJUDICE
Austen, Jane - SENSE AND SENSIBILITY
Authors, Various - LETTERS OF ABELARD AND HELOISE
Authors, Various - SELECTED ENGLISH LETTERS
Autori Vari - THE WORLD ENGLISH BIBLE
Bacon, Francis - THE ADVANCEMENT OF LEARNING
Balzac, Honore de - EUGENIE GRANDET
Balzac, Honore de - FATHER GORIOT
Baroness Orczy - THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL
Barrie, J. M. - PETER AND WENDY
Barrie, James M. - PETER PAN
Bierce, Ambrose - THE DEVIL'S DICTIONARY
Blake, William - SONGS OF INNOCENCE AND EXPERIENCE
Boccaccio, Giovanni - DECAMERONE
Brent, Linda - INCIDENTS IN THE LIFE OF A SLAVE GIRL
Bronte, Charlotte - JANE EYRE
Bronte, Charlotte - VILLETTE
Buchan, John - GREENMANTLE
Buchan, John - MR STANDFAST
Buchan, John - THE 39 STEPS
Bunyan, John - THE PILGRIM'S PROGRESS
Burckhardt, Jacob - THE CIVILIZATION OF THE RENAISSANCE IN ITALY
Burnett, Frances H. - A LITTLE PRINCESS
Burnett, Frances H. - LITTLE LORD FAUNTLEROY
Burnett, Frances H. - THE SECRET GARDEN
Butler, Samuel - EREWHON
Carlyle, Thomas - PAST AND PRESENT
Carlyle, Thomas - THE FRENCH REVOLUTION
Cellini, Benvenuto - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Cervantes - DON QUIXOTE
Chaucer, Geoffrey - THE CANTERBURY TALES
Chesterton, G. K. - A SHORT HISTORY OF ENGLAND
Chesterton, G. K. - THE BALLAD OF THE WHITE HORSE
Chesterton, G. K. - THE INNOCENCE OF FATHER BROWN
Chesterton, G. K. - THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH
Chesterton, G. K. - THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
Chesterton, G. K. - THE WISDOM OF FATHER BROWN
Chesterton, G. K. - TWELVE TYPES
Chesterton, G. K. - WHAT I SAW IN AMERICA
Chesterton, Gilbert K. - HERETICS
Chopin, Kate - AT FAULT
Chopin, Kate - BAYOU FOLK
Chopin, Kate - THE AWAKENING AND SELECTED SHORT STORIES
Clark Hall, John R. - A CONCISE ANGLOSAXON DICTIONARY
Clarkson, Thomas - AN ESSAY ON THE SLAVERY AND COMMERCE OF THE HUMAN SPECIES
Clausewitz, Carl von - ON WAR
Coleridge, Herbert - A DICTIONARY OF THE FIRST OR OLDEST WORDS IN THE ENGLISH
Coleridge, S. T. - COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS
Coleridge, S. T. - HINTS TOWARDS THE FORMATION OF A MORE COMPREHENSIVE THEORY
Coleridge, S. T. - THE RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER
Collins, Wilkie - THE MOONSTONE
Collodi - PINOCCHIO
Conan Doyle, Arthur - A STUDY IN SCARLET
Conan Doyle, Arthur - MEMOIRS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES
Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE RETURN OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE SIGN OF THE FOUR
Conrad, Joseph - HEART OF DARKNESS
Conrad, Joseph - LORD JIM
Conrad, Joseph - NOSTROMO
Conrad, Joseph - THE NIGGER OF THE NARCISSUS
Conrad, Joseph - TYPHOON
Crane, Stephen - LAST WORDS
Crane, Stephen - MAGGIE
Crane, Stephen - THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE
Crane, Stephen - WOUNDS IN THE RAIN
Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: HELL
Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: PARADISE
Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: PURGATORY
Darwin, Charles - THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF CHARLES DARWIN
Darwin, Charles - THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES
Defoe, Daniel - A GENERAL HISTORY OF THE PYRATES
Defoe, Daniel - A JOURNAL OF THE PLAGUE YEAR
Defoe, Daniel - CAPTAIN SINGLETON
Defoe, Daniel - MOLL FLANDERS
Defoe, Daniel - ROBINSON CRUSOE
Defoe, Daniel - THE COMPLETE ENGLISH TRADESMAN
Defoe, Daniel - THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF ROBINSON CRUSOE
Deledda, Grazia - AFTER THE DIVORCE
Dickens, Charles - A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Dickens, Charles - A TALE OF TWO CITIES
Dickens, Charles - BLEAK HOUSE
Dickens, Charles - DAVID COPPERFIELD
Dickens, Charles - DONBEY AND SON
Dickens, Charles - GREAT EXPECTATIONS
Dickens, Charles - HARD TIMES
Dickens, Charles - LETTERS VOLUME 1
Dickens, Charles - LITTLE DORRIT
Dickens, Charles - MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT
Dickens, Charles - NICHOLAS NICKLEBY
Dickens, Charles - OLIVER TWIST
Dickens, Charles - OUR MUTUAL FRIEND
Dickens, Charles - PICTURES FROM ITALY
Dickens, Charles - THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD
Dickens, Charles - THE OLD CURIOSITY SHOP
Dickens, Charles - THE PICKWICK PAPERS
Dickinson, Emily - POEMS
Dostoevsky, Fyodor - CRIME AND PUNISHMENT
Dostoyevsky, Fyodor - THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV
Du Maurier, George - TRILBY
Dumas, Alexandre - THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO
Dumas, Alexandre - THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK
Dumas, Alexandre - THE THREE MUSKETEERS
Eliot, George - DANIEL DERONDA
Eliot, George - MIDDLEMARCH
Eliot, George - SILAS MARNER
Eliot, George - THE MILL ON THE FLOSS
Engels, Frederick - THE CONDITION OF THE WORKING-CLASS IN ENGLAND IN 1844
Equiano - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Esopo - FABLES
Fenimore Cooper, James - THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS
Fielding, Henry - TOM JONES
France, Anatole - THAIS
France, Anatole - THE GODS ARE ATHIRST
France, Anatole - THE LIFE OF JOAN OF ARC
France, Anatole - THE SEVEN WIVES OF BLUEBEARD
Frank Baum, L. - THE PATCHWORK GIRL OF OZ
Frank Baum, L. - THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ
Franklin, Benjamin - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Frazer, James George - THE GOLDEN BOUGH
Freud, Sigmund - DREAM PSYCHOLOGY
Galsworthy, John - COMPLETE PLAYS
Galsworthy, John - STRIFE
Galsworthy, John - STUDIES AND ESSAYS
Galsworthy, John - THE FIRST AND THE LAST
Galsworthy, John - THE FORSYTE SAGA
Galsworthy, John - THE LITTLE MAN
Galsworthy, John - THE SILVER BOX
Galsworthy, John - THE SKIN GAME
Gaskell, Elizabeth - CRANFORD
Gaskell, Elizabeth - MARY BARTON
Gaskell, Elizabeth - NORTH AND SOUTH
Gaskell, Elizabeth - THE LIFE OF CHARLOTTE BRONTE
Gay, John - THE BEGGAR'S OPERA
Gentile, Maria - THE ITALIAN COOK BOOK
Gilbert and Sullivan - PLAYS
Goethe - FAUST
Gogol - DEAD SOULS
Goldsmith, Oliver - SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER
Goldsmith, Oliver - THE VICAR OF WAKEFIELD
Grahame, Kenneth - THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS
Grimm, Brothers - FAIRY TALES
Harding, A. R. - GINSENG AND OTHER MEDICINAL PLANTS
Hardy, Thomas - A CHANGED MAN AND OTHER TALES
Hardy, Thomas - FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD
Hardy, Thomas - JUDE THE OBSCURE
Hardy, Thomas - TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES
Hardy, Thomas - THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE
Hartley, Cecil B. - THE GENTLEMEN'S BOOK OF ETIQUETTE
Hawthorne, Nathaniel - LITTLE MASTERPIECES
Hawthorne, Nathaniel - THE SCARLET LETTER
Henry VIII - LOVE LETTERS TO ANNE BOLEYN
Henry, O. - CABBAGES AND KINGS
Henry, O. - SIXES AND SEVENS
Henry, O. - THE FOUR MILLION
Henry, O. - THE TRIMMED LAMP
Henry, O. - WHIRLIGIGS
Hindman Miller, Gustavus - TEN THOUSAND DREAMS INTERPRETED
Hobbes, Thomas - LEVIATHAN
Homer - THE ILIAD
Homer - THE ODYSSEY
Hornaday, William T. - THE EXTERMINATION OF THE AMERICAN BISON
Hume, David - A TREATISE OF HUMAN NATURE
Hume, David - AN ENQUIRY CONCERNING HUMAN UNDERSTANDING
Hume, David - DIALOGUES CONCERNING NATURAL RELIGION
Ibsen, Henrik - A DOLL'S HOUSE
Ibsen, Henrik - AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE
Ibsen, Henrik - GHOSTS
Ibsen, Henrik - HEDDA GABLER
Ibsen, Henrik - JOHN GABRIEL BORKMAN
Ibsen, Henrik - ROSMERHOLM
Ibsen, Henrik - THE LADY FROM THE SEA
Ibsen, Henrik - THE MASTER BUILDER
Ibsen, Henrik - WHEN WE DEAD AWAKEN
Irving, Washington - THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW
James, Henry - ITALIAN HOURS
James, Henry - THE ASPERN PAPERS
James, Henry - THE BOSTONIANS
James, Henry - THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY
James, Henry - THE TURN OF THE SCREW
James, Henry - WASHINGTON SQUARE
Jerome, Jerome K. - THREE MEN IN A BOAT
Jerome, Jerome K. - THREE MEN ON THE BUMMEL
Jevons, Stanley - POLITICAL ECONOMY
Johnson, Samuel - A GRAMMAR OF THE ENGLISH TONGUE
Jonson, Ben - THE ALCHEMIST
Jonson, Ben - VOLPONE
Joyce, James - A PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG MAN
Joyce, James - CHAMBER MUSIC
Joyce, James - DUBLINERS
Joyce, James - ULYSSES
Keats, John - ENDYMION
Keats, John - POEMS PUBLISHED IN 1817
Keats, John - POEMS PUBLISHED IN 1820
King James - THE BIBLE
Kipling, Rudyard - CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS
Kipling, Rudyard - INDIAN TALES
Kipling, Rudyard - JUST SO STORIES
Kipling, Rudyard - KIM
Kipling, Rudyard - THE JUNGLE BOOK
Kipling, Rudyard - THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING
Kipling, Rudyard - THE SECOND JUNGLE BOOK
Lawrence, D. H - THE RAINBOW
Lawrence, D. H - THE WHITE PEACOCK
Lawrence, D. H - TWILIGHT IN ITALY
Lawrence, D. H. - AARON'S ROD
Lawrence, D. H. - SONS AND LOVERS
Lawrence, D. H. - THE LOST GIRL
Lawrence, D. H. - WOMEN IN LOVE
Lear, Edward - BOOK OF NONSENSE
Lear, Edward - LAUGHABLE LYRICS
Lear, Edward - MORE NONSENSE
Lear, Edward - NONSENSE SONG
Leblanc, Maurice - ARSENE LUPIN VS SHERLOCK HOLMES
Leblanc, Maurice - THE ADVENTURES OF ARSENE LUPIN
Leblanc, Maurice - THE CONFESSIONS OF ARSENE LUPIN
Leblanc, Maurice - THE HOLLOW NEEDLE
Leblanc, Maurice - THE RETURN OF ARSENE LUPIN
Lehmann, Lilli - HOW TO SING
Leroux, Gaston - THE MAN WITH THE BLACK FEATHER
Leroux, Gaston - THE MYSTERY OF THE YELLOW ROOM
Leroux, Gaston - THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
London, Jack - MARTIN EDEN
London, Jack - THE CALL OF THE WILD
London, Jack - WHITE FANG
Machiavelli, Nicolo' - THE PRINCE
Malthus, Thomas - PRINCIPLE OF POPULATION
Mansfield, Katherine - THE GARDEN PARTY AND OTHER STORIES
Marlowe, Christopher - THE JEW OF MALTA
Marryat, Captain - THE CHILDREN OF THE NEW FOREST
Maupassant, Guy De - BEL AMI
Melville, Hermann - MOBY DICK
Melville, Hermann - TYPEE
Mill, John Stuart - PRINCIPLES OF POLITICAL ECONOMY
Milton, John - PARADISE LOST
Mitra, S. M. - HINDU TALES FROM THE SANSKRIT
Montaigne, Michel de - ESSAYS
Montgomery, Lucy Maud - ANNE OF GREEN GABLES
More, Thomas - UTOPIA
Nesbit, E. - FIVE CHILDREN AND IT
Nesbit, E. - THE PHOENIX AND THE CARPET
Nesbit, E. - THE RAILWAY CHILDREN
Nesbit, E. - THE STORY OF THE AMULET
Newton, Isaac - OPTICKS
Nietsche, Friedrich - BEYOND GOOD AND EVIL
Nietsche, Friedrich - THUS SPAKE ZARATHUSTRA
Nightingale, Florence - NOTES ON NURSING
Owen, Wilfred - POEMS
Ozaki, Yei Theodora - JAPANESE FAIRY TALES
Pascal, Blaise - PENSEES
Pellico, Silvio - MY TEN YEARS IMPRISONMENT
Perrault, Charles - FAIRY TALES
Pirandello, Luigi - THREE PLAYS
Plato - THE REPUBLIC
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 1
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 2
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 3
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 4
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 5
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER
Potter, Beatrix - THE TALE OF PETER RABBIT
Proust, Marcel - SWANN'S WAY
Radcliffe, Ann - A SICILIAN ROMANCE
Ricardo, David - ON THE PRINCIPLES OF POLITICAL ECONOMY AND TAXATION
Richardson, Samuel - PAMELA
Rider Haggard, H. - ALLAN QUATERMAIN
Rider Haggard, H. - KING SOLOMON'S MINES
Rousseau, J. J. - THE ORIGIN AND FOUNDATION OF INEQUALITY AMONG MANKIND
Ruskin, John - THE SEVEN LAMPS OF ARCHITECTURE
Schiller, Friedrich - THE DEATH OF WALLENSTEIN
Schiller, Friedrich - THE PICCOLOMINI
Schopenhauer, Arthur - THE ART OF CONTROVERSY
Schopenhauer, Arthur - THE WISDOM OF LIFE
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - FLAPPERS AND PHILOSOPHERS
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - THE BEAUTIFUL AND DAMNED
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - THIS SIDE OF PARADISE
Scott, Walter - IVANHOE
Scott, Walter - QUENTIN DURWARD
Scott, Walter - ROB ROY
Scott, Walter - THE BRIDE OF LAMMERMOOR
Scott, Walter - WAVERLEY
Sedgwick, Anne Douglas - THE THIRD WINDOW
Sewell, Anna - BLACK BEAUTY
Shakespeare, William - COMPLETE WORKS
Shakespeare, William - HAMLET
Shakespeare, William - OTHELLO
Shakespeare, William - ROMEO AND JULIET
Shelley, Mary - FRANKENSTEIN
Shelley, Percy Bysshe - A DEFENCE OF POETRY AND OTHER ESSAYS
Shelley, Percy Bysshe - COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS
Sheridan, Richard B. - THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL
Sienkiewicz, Henryk - QUO VADIS
Smith, Adam - THE WEALTH OF NATIONS
Smollett, Tobias - TRAVELS THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY
Spencer, Herbert - ESSAYS ON EDUCATION AND KINDRED SUBJECTS
Spyri, Johanna - HEIDI
Sterne, Laurence - A SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY
Sterne, Laurence - TRISTRAM SHANDY
Stevenson, Robert Louis - A CHILD'S GARDEN OF VERSES
Stevenson, Robert Louis - ESSAYS IN THE ART OF WRITING
Stevenson, Robert Louis - KIDNAPPED
Stevenson, Robert Louis - NEW ARABIAN NIGHTS
Stevenson, Robert Louis - THE BLACK ARROW
Stevenson, Robert Louis - THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE
Stevenson, Robert Louis - TREASURE ISLAND
Stoker, Bram - DRACULA
Strindberg, August - LUCKY PEHR
Strindberg, August - MASTER OLOF
Strindberg, August - THE RED ROOM
Strindberg, August - THE ROAD TO DAMASCUS
Strindberg, August - THERE ARE CRIMES AND CRIMES
Swift, Jonathan - A MODEST PROPOSAL
Swift, Jonathan - A TALE OF A TUB
Swift, Jonathan - GULLIVER'S TRAVELS
Swift, Jonathan - THE BATTLE OF THE BOOKS AND OTHER SHORT PIECES
Tagore, Rabindranath - FRUIT GATHERING
Tagore, Rabindranath - THE GARDENER
Tagore, Rabindranath - THE HUNGRY STONES AND OTHER STORIES
Thackeray, William - BARRY LYNDON
Thackeray, William - VANITY FAIR
Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE BOOK OF SNOBS
Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE ROSE AND THE RING
Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE VIRGINIANS
Thoreau, Henry David - WALDEN
Tolstoi, Leo - A LETTER TO A HINDU
Tolstoy, Lev - ANNA KARENINA
Tolstoy, Lev - WAR AND PEACE
Trollope, Anthony - AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Trollope, Anthony - BARCHESTER TOWERS
Trollope, Anthony - FRAMLEY PARSONAGE
Trollope, Anthony - THE EUSTACE DIAMONDS
Trollope, Anthony - THE MAN WHO KEPT HIS MONEY IN A BOX
Trollope, Anthony - THE WARDEN
Trollope, Anthony - THE WAY WE LIVE NOW
Twain, Mark - LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI
Twain, Mark - SPEECHES
Twain, Mark - THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN
Twain, Mark - THE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER
Twain, Mark - THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER
Vari, Autori - THE MAGNA CARTA
Verga, Giovanni - SICILIAN STORIES
Verne, Jules - 20000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS
Verne, Jules - A JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH
Verne, Jules - ALL AROUND THE MOON
Verne, Jules - AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS
Verne, Jules - FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON
Verne, Jules - FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON
Verne, Jules - MICHAEL STROGOFF
Verne, Jules - THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
Voltaire - PHILOSOPHICAL DICTIONARY
Vyasa - MAHABHARATA
Wallace, Edgar - SANDERS OF THE RIVER
Wallace, Edgar - THE DAFFODIL MYSTERY
Wallace, Lew - BEN HUR
Webster, Jean - DADDY LONG LEGS
Wedekind, Franz - THE AWAKENING OF SPRING
Wells, H. G. - KIPPS
Wells, H. G. - THE INVISIBLE MAN
Wells, H. G. - THE ISLAND OF DOCTOR MOREAU
Wells, H. G. - THE STOLEN BACILLUS AND OTHER INCIDENTS
Wells, H. G. - THE TIME MACHINE
Wells, H. G. - THE WAR OF THE WORLDS
Wells, H. G. - WHAT IS COMING
Wharton, Edith - THE AGE OF INNOCENCE
White, Andrew Dickson - FIAT MONEY INFLATION IN FRANCE
Wilde, Oscar - A WOMAN OF NO IMPORTANCE
Wilde, Oscar - AN IDEAL HUSBAND
Wilde, Oscar - DE PROFUNDIS
Wilde, Oscar - LADY WINDERMERE'S FAN
Wilde, Oscar - SALOME
Wilde, Oscar - SELECTED POEMS
Wilde, Oscar - THE BALLAD OF READING GAOL
Wilde, Oscar - THE CANTERVILLE GHOST
Wilde, Oscar - THE HAPPY PRINCE AND OTHER TALES
Wilde, Oscar - THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST
Wilde, Oscar - THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GREY
Wilde, Oscar - THE SOUL OF MAN
Wilson, Epiphanius - SACRED BOOKS OF THE EAST
Wollstonecraft, Mary - A VINDICATION OF THE RIGHTS OF WOMAN
Woolf, Virgina - NIGHT AND DAY
Woolf, Virgina - THE VOYAGE OUT
Woolf, Virginia - JACOB'S ROOM
Woolf, Virginia - MONDAY OR TUESDAY
Wordsworth, William - POEMS
Wordsworth, William - PROSE WORKS
Zola, Emile - THERESE RAQUIN
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ISTRUZIONI D'USO DETTAGLIATE
THE TRIMMED LAMP
And Other Stories of the Four Million
By O. HENRY
THE TRIMMED LAMP
A MADISON SQUARE ARABIAN NIGHT
THE RUBAIYAT OF A SCOTCH HIGHBALL
TWO THANKSGIVING DAY GENTLEMEN
THE ASSESSOR OF SUCCESS
THE BUYER FROM CACTUS CITY
THE BADGE OF POLICEMAN O'ROON
THE MAKING OF A NEW YORKER
VANITY AND SOME SABLES
THE SOCIAL TRIANGLE
THE PURPLE DRESS
THE FOREIGN POLICY OF COMPANY 99
THE LOST BLEND
A HARLEM TRAGEDY
"THE GUILTY PARTY"--AN EAST SIDE TRAGEDY
ACCORDING TO THEIR LIGHTS
A MIDSUMMER KNIGHT'S DREAM
THE LAST LEAF
THE COUNT AND THE WEDDING GUEST
THE COUNTRY OF ELUSION
THE FERRY OF UNFULFILMENT
THE TALE OF A TAINTED TENNER
ELSIE IN NEW YORK
THE TRIMMED LAMP
Of course there are two sides to the question. Let us look at the
other. We often hear "shop-girls" spoken of. No such persons exist.
There are girls who work in shops. They make their living that
way. But why turn their occupation into an adjective? Let us be
fair. We do not refer to the girls who live on Fifth Avenue as
Lou and Nancy were chums. They came to the big city to find work
because there was not enough to eat at their homes to go around.
Nancy was nineteen; Lou was twenty. Both were pretty, active,
country girls who had no ambition to go on the stage.
The little cherub that sits up aloft guided them to a cheap and
respectable boarding-house. Both found positions and became
wage-earners. They remained chums. It is at the end of six months
that I would beg you to step forward and be introduced to them.
Meddlesome Reader: My Lady friends, Miss Nancy and Miss Lou.
While you are shaking hands please take notice--cautiously--of
their attire. Yes, cautiously; for they are as quick to resent a
stare as a lady in a box at the horse show is.
Lou is a piece-work ironer in a hand laundry. She is clothed in a
badly-fitting purple dress, and her hat plume is four inches too
long; but her ermine muff and scarf cost $25, and its fellow beasts
will be ticketed in the windows at $7.98 before the season is over.
Her cheeks are pink, and her light blue eyes bright. Contentment
radiates from her.
Nancy you would call a shop-girl--because you have the habit. There
is no type; but a perverse generation is always seeking a type; so
this is what the type should be. She has the high-ratted pompadour,
and the exaggerated straight-front. Her skirt is shoddy, but has the
correct flare. No furs protect her against the bitter spring air,
but she wears her short broadcloth jacket as jauntily as though
it were Persian lamb! On her face and in her eyes, remorseless
type-seeker, is the typical shop-girl expression. It is a look of
silent but contemptuous revolt against cheated womanhood; of sad
prophecy of the vengeance to come. When she laughs her loudest the
look is still there. The same look can be seen in the eyes of Russian
peasants; and those of us left will see it some day on Gabriel's
face when he comes to blow us up. It is a look that should wither
and abash man; but he has been known to smirk at it and offer
flowers--with a string tied to them.
Now lift your hat and come away, while you receive Lou's cheery
"See you again," and the sardonic, sweet smile of Nancy that seems,
somehow, to miss you and go fluttering like a white moth up over the
housetops to the stars.
The two waited on the corner for Dan. Dan was Lou's steady company.
Faithful? Well, he was on hand when Mary would have had to hire a
dozen subpoena servers to find her lamb.
"Ain't you cold, Nance?" said Lou. "Say, what a chump you are for
working in that old store for $8. a week! I made $18.50 last week.
Of course ironing ain't as swell work as selling lace behind a
counter, but it pays. None of us ironers make less than $10. And I
don't know that it's any less respectful work, either."
"You can have it," said Nancy, with uplifted nose. "I'll take my eight
a week and hall bedroom. I like to be among nice things and swell
people. And look what a chance I've got! Why, one of our glove girls
married a Pittsburg--steel maker, or blacksmith or something--the
other day worth a million dollars. I'll catch a swell myself some
time. I ain't bragging on my looks or anything; but I'll take my
chances where there's big prizes offered. What show would a girl
have in a laundry?"
"Why, that's where I met Dan," said Lou, triumphantly. "He came in
for his Sunday shirt and collars and saw me at the first board,
ironing. We all try to get to work at the first board. Ella Maginnis
was sick that day, and I had her place. He said he noticed my arms
first, how round and white they was. I had my sleeves rolled up.
Some nice fellows come into laundries. You can tell 'em by their
bringing their clothes in suit cases; and turning in the door sharp
"How can you wear a waist like that, Lou?" said Nancy, gazing down
at the offending article with sweet scorn in her heavy-lidded eyes.
"It shows fierce taste."
"This waist?" cried Lou, with wide-eyed indignation. "Why, I paid
$16. for this waist. It's worth twenty-five. A woman left it to be
laundered, and never called for it. The boss sold it to me. It's got
yards and yards of hand embroidery on it. Better talk about that
ugly, plain thing you've got on."
"This ugly, plain thing," said Nancy, calmly, "was copied from one
that Mrs. Van Alstyne Fisher was wearing. The girls say her bill in
the store last year was $12,000. I made mine, myself. It cost me
$1.50. Ten feet away you couldn't tell it from hers."
"Oh, well," said Lou, good-naturedly, "if you want to starve and put
on airs, go ahead. But I'll take my job and good wages; and after
hours give me something as fancy and attractive to wear as I am able
But just then Dan came--a serious young man with a ready-made necktie,
who had escaped the city's brand of frivolity--an electrician earning
30 dollars per week who looked upon Lou with the sad eyes of Romeo,
and thought her embroidered waist a web in which any fly should
delight to be caught.
"My friend, Mr. Owens--shake hands with Miss Danforth," said Lou.
"I'm mighty glad to know you, Miss Danforth," said Dan, with
outstretched hand. "I've heard Lou speak of you so often."
"Thanks," said Nancy, touching his fingers with the tips of her cool
ones, "I've heard her mention you--a few times."
"Did you get that handshake from Mrs. Van Alstyne Fisher, Nance?"
"If I did, you can feel safe in copying it," said Nancy.
"Oh, I couldn't use it, at all. It's too stylish for me. It's
intended to set off diamond rings, that high shake is. Wait till I
get a few and then I'll try it."
"Learn it first," said Nancy wisely, "and you'll be more likely to
get the rings."
"Now, to settle this argument," said Dan, with his ready, cheerful
smile, "let me make a proposition. As I can't take both of you up
to Tiffany's and do the right thing, what do you say to a little
vaudeville? I've got the tickets. How about looking at stage
diamonds since we can't shake hands with the real sparklers?"
The faithful squire took his place close to the curb; Lou next, a
little peacocky in her bright and pretty clothes; Nancy on the
inside, slender, and soberly clothed as the sparrow, but with the
true Van Alstyne Fisher walk--thus they set out for their evening's
I do not suppose that many look upon a great department store as an
educational institution. But the one in which Nancy worked was
something like that to her. She was surrounded by beautiful things
that breathed of taste and refinement. If you live in an atmosphere
of luxury, luxury is yours whether your money pays for it, or
The people she served were mostly women whose dress, manners, and
position in the social world were quoted as criterions. From them
Nancy began to take toll--the best from each according to her view.
From one she would copy and practice a gesture, from another an
eloquent lifting of an eyebrow, from others, a manner of walking, of
carrying a purse, of smiling, of greeting a friend, of addressing
"inferiors in station." From her best beloved model, Mrs. Van
Alstyne Fisher, she made requisition for that excellent thing, a
soft, low voice as clear as silver and as perfect in articulation
as the notes of a thrush. Suffused in the aura of this high social
refinement and good breeding, it was impossible for her to escape a
deeper effect of it. As good habits are said to be better than good
principles, so, perhaps, good manners are better than good habits.
The teachings of your parents may not keep alive your New England
conscience; but if you sit on a straight-back chair and repeat the
words "prisms and pilgrims" forty times the devil will flee from
you. And when Nancy spoke in the Van Alstyne Fisher tones she felt
the thrill of "noblesse oblige" to her very bones.
There was another source of learning in the great departmental
school. Whenever you see three or four shop-girls gather in a bunch
and jingle their wire bracelets as an accompaniment to apparently
frivolous conversation, do not think that they are there for the
purpose of criticizing the way Ethel does her back hair. The meeting
may lack the dignity of the deliberative bodies of man; but it
has all the importance of the occasion on which Eve and her first
daughter first put their heads together to make Adam understand his
proper place in the household. It is Woman's Conference for Common
Defense and Exchange of Strategical Theories of Attack and Repulse
upon and against the World, which is a Stage, and Man, its Audience
who Persists in Throwing Bouquets Thereupon. Woman, the most
helpless of the young of any animal--with the fawn's grace but
without its fleetness; with the bird's beauty but without its power
of flight; with the honey-bee's burden of sweetness but without
its--Oh, let's drop that simile--some of us may have been stung.
During this council of war they pass weapons one to another, and
exchange stratagems that each has devised and formulated out of the
tactics of life.
"I says to 'im," says Sadie, "ain't you the fresh thing! Who do you
suppose I am, to be addressing such a remark to me? And what do you
think he says back to me?"
The heads, brown, black, flaxen, red, and yellow bob together; the
answer is given; and the parry to the thrust is decided upon, to be
used by each thereafter in passages-at-arms with the common enemy,
Thus Nancy learned the art of defense; and to women successful
defense means victory.
The curriculum of a department store is a wide one. Perhaps no other
college could have fitted her as well for her life's ambition--the
drawing of a matrimonial prize.
Her station in the store was a favored one. The music room was near
enough for her to hear and become familiar with the works of the
best composers--at least to acquire the familiarity that passed for
appreciation in the social world in which she was vaguely trying
to set a tentative and aspiring foot. She absorbed the educating
influence of art wares, of costly and dainty fabrics, of adornments
that are almost culture to women.
The other girls soon became aware of Nancy's ambition. "Here comes
your millionaire, Nancy," they would call to her whenever any man
who looked the rôle approached her counter. It got to be a habit of
men, who were hanging about while their women folk were shopping, to
stroll over to the handkerchief counter and dawdle over the cambric
squares. Nancy's imitation high-bred air and genuine dainty beauty
was what attracted. Many men thus came to display their graces
before her. Some of them may have been millionaires; others were
certainly no more than their sedulous apes. Nancy learned to
discriminate. There was a window at the end of the handkerchief
counter; and she could see the rows of vehicles waiting for the
shoppers in the street below. She looked and perceived that
automobiles differ as well as do their owners.
Once a fascinating gentleman bought four dozen handkerchiefs, and
wooed her across the counter with a King Cophetua air. When he had
gone one of the girls said:
"What's wrong, Nance, that you didn't warm up to that fellow. He
looks the swell article, all right, to me."
"Him?" said Nancy, with her coolest, sweetest, most impersonal, Van
Alstyne Fisher smile; "not for mine. I saw him drive up outside. A
12 H. P. machine and an Irish chauffeur! And you saw what kind of
handkerchiefs he bought--silk! And he's got dactylis on him. Give me
the real thing or nothing, if you please."
Two of the most "refined" women in the store--a forelady and a
cashier--had a few "swell gentlemen friends" with whom they now and
then dined. Once they included Nancy in an invitation. The dinner
took place in a spectacular café whose tables are engaged for New
Year's eve a year in advance. There were two "gentlemen friends"--one
without any hair on his head--high living ungrew it; and we can prove
it--the other a young man whose worth and sophistication he impressed
upon you in two convincing ways--he swore that all the wine was
corked; and he wore diamond cuff buttons. This young man perceived
irresistible excellencies in Nancy. His taste ran to shop-girls; and
here was one that added the voice and manners of his high social
world to the franker charms of her own caste. So, on the following
day, he appeared in the store and made her a serious proposal of
marriage over a box of hem-stitched, grass-bleached Irish linens.
Nancy declined. A brown pompadour ten feet away had been using her
eyes and ears. When the rejected suitor had gone she heaped carboys
of upbraidings and horror upon Nancy's head.
"What a terrible little fool you are! That fellow's a millionaire--he's
a nephew of old Van Skittles himself. And he was talking on the level,
too. Have you gone crazy, Nance?"
"Have I?" said Nancy. "I didn't take him, did I? He isn't a millionaire
so hard that you could notice it, anyhow. His family only allows him
$20,000 a year to spend. The bald-headed fellow was guying him about it
the other night at supper."
The brown pompadour came nearer and narrowed her eyes.
"Say, what do you want?" she inquired, in a voice hoarse for lack of
chewing-gum. "Ain't that enough for you? Do you want to be a Mormon,
and marry Rockefeller and Gladstone Dowie and the King of Spain and
the whole bunch? Ain't $20,000 a year good enough for you?"
Nancy flushed a little under the level gaze of the black, shallow
"It wasn't altogether the money, Carrie," she explained. "His friend
caught him in a rank lie the other night at dinner. It was about
some girl he said he hadn't been to the theater with. Well, I can't
stand a liar. Put everything together--I don't like him; and that
settles it. When I sell out it's not going to be on any bargain day.
I've got to have something that sits up in a chair like a man,
anyhow. Yes, I'm looking out for a catch; but it's got to be able to
do something more than make a noise like a toy bank."
"The physiopathic ward for yours!" said the brown pompadour, walking
These high ideas, if not ideals--Nancy continued to cultivate on $8.
per week. She bivouacked on the trail of the great unknown "catch,"
eating her dry bread and tightening her belt day by day. On her
face was the faint, soldierly, sweet, grim smile of the preordained
man-hunter. The store was her forest; and many times she raised her
rifle at game that seemed broad-antlered and big; but always some
deep unerring instinct--perhaps of the huntress, perhaps of the
woman--made her hold her fire and take up the trail again.
Lou flourished in the laundry. Out of her $18.50 per week she paid
$6. for her room and board. The rest went mainly for clothes. Her
opportunities for bettering her taste and manners were few compared
with Nancy's. In the steaming laundry there was nothing but work,
work and her thoughts of the evening pleasures to come. Many costly
and showy fabrics passed under her iron; and it may be that her
growing fondness for dress was thus transmitted to her through the
When the day's work was over Dan awaited her outside, her faithful
shadow in whatever light she stood.
Sometimes he cast an honest and troubled glance at Lou's clothes
that increased in conspicuity rather than in style; but this was no
disloyalty; he deprecated the attention they called to her in the
And Lou was no less faithful to her chum. There was a law that Nancy
should go with them on whatsoever outings they might take. Dan bore
the extra burden heartily and in good cheer. It might be said that
Lou furnished the color, Nancy the tone, and Dan the weight of the
distraction-seeking trio. The escort, in his neat but obviously
ready-made suit, his ready-made tie and unfailing, genial, ready-made
wit never startled or clashed. He was of that good kind that you are
likely to forget while they are present, but remember distinctly
after they are gone.
To Nancy's superior taste the flavor of these ready-made pleasures
was sometimes a little bitter: but she was young; and youth is a
gourmand, when it cannot be a gourmet.
"Dan is always wanting me to marry him right away," Lou told her
once. "But why should I? I'm independent. I can do as I please with
the money I earn; and he never would agree for me to keep on working
afterward. And say, Nance, what do you want to stick to that old
store for, and half starve and half dress yourself? I could get you
a place in the laundry right now if you'd come. It seems to me that
you could afford to be a little less stuck-up if you could make a
good deal more money."
"I don't think I'm stuck-up, Lou," said Nancy, "but I'd rather live
on half rations and stay where I am. I suppose I've got the habit.
It's the chance that I want. I don't expect to be always behind a
counter. I'm learning something new every day. I'm right up against
refined and rich people all the time--even if I do only wait on
them; and I'm not missing any pointers that I see passing around."
"Caught your millionaire yet?" asked Lou with her teasing laugh.
"I haven't selected one yet," answered Nancy. "I've been looking
"Goodness! the idea of picking over 'em! Don't you ever let one get
by you Nance--even if he's a few dollars shy. But of course you're
joking--millionaires don't think about working girls like us."
"It might be better for them if they did," said Nancy, with cool
wisdom. "Some of us could teach them how to take care of their
"If one was to speak to me," laughed Lou, "I know I'd have a
"That's because you don't know any. The only difference between
swells and other people is you have to watch 'em closer. Don't you
think that red silk lining is just a little bit too bright for that
Lou looked at the plain, dull olive jacket of her friend.
"Well, no I don't--but it may seem so beside that faded-looking
thing you've got on."
"This jacket," said Nancy, complacently, "has exactly the cut and
fit of one that Mrs. Van Alstyne Fisher was wearing the other day.
The material cost me $3.98. I suppose hers cost about $100. more."
"Oh, well," said Lou lightly, "it don't strike me as millionaire
bait. Shouldn't wonder if I catch one before you do, anyway."
Truly it would have taken a philosopher to decide upon the values
of the theories held by the two friends. Lou, lacking that certain
pride and fastidiousness that keeps stores and desks filled with
girls working for the barest living, thumped away gaily with her
iron in the noisy and stifling laundry. Her wages supported her
even beyond the point of comfort; so that her dress profited until
sometimes she cast a sidelong glance of impatience at the neat but
inelegant apparel of Dan--Dan the constant, the immutable, the
As for Nancy, her case was one of tens of thousands. Silk and jewels
and laces and ornaments and the perfume and music of the fine world
of good-breeding and taste--these were made for woman; they are her
equitable portion. Let her keep near them if they are a part of life
to her, and if she will. She is no traitor to herself, as Esau was;
for she keeps he birthright and the pottage she earns is often very
In this atmosphere Nancy belonged; and she throve in it and ate her
frugal meals and schemed over her cheap dresses with a determined
and contented mind. She already knew woman; and she was studying
man, the animal, both as to his habits and eligibility. Some day she
would bring down the game that she wanted; but she promised herself
it would be what seemed to her the biggest and the best, and nothing
Thus she kept her lamp trimmed and burning to receive the bridegroom
when he should come.
But, another lesson she learned, perhaps unconsciously. Her standard
of values began to shift and change. Sometimes the dollar-mark grew
blurred in her mind's eye, and shaped itself into letters that
spelled such words as "truth" and "honor" and now and then just
"kindness." Let us make a likeness of one who hunts the moose or elk
in some mighty wood. He sees a little dell, mossy and embowered,
where a rill trickles, babbling to him of rest and comfort. At these
times the spear of Nimrod himself grows blunt.
So, Nancy wondered sometimes if Persian lamb was always quoted at
its market value by the hearts that it covered.
One Thursday evening Nancy left the store and turned across Sixth
Avenue westward to the laundry. She was expected to go with Lou and
Dan to a musical comedy.
Dan was just coming out of the laundry when she arrived. There was a
queer, strained look on his face.
"I thought I would drop around to see if they had heard from her,"
"Heard from who?" asked Nancy. "Isn't Lou there?"
"I thought you knew," said Dan. "She hasn't been here or at the
house where she lived since Monday. She moved all her things from
there. She told one of the girls in the laundry she might be going
"Hasn't anybody seen her anywhere?" asked Nancy.
Dan looked at her with his jaws set grimly, and a steely gleam in
his steady gray eyes.
"They told me in the laundry," he said, harshly, "that they saw her
pass yesterday--in an automobile. With one of the millionaires, I
suppose, that you and Lou were forever busying your brains about."
For the first time Nancy quailed before a man. She laid her hand
that trembled slightly on Dan's sleeve.
"You've no right to say such a thing to me, Dan--as if I had anything
to do with it!"
"I didn't mean it that way," said Dan, softening. He fumbled in his
"I've got the tickets for the show to-night," he said, with a
gallant show of lightness. "If you--"
Nancy admired pluck whenever she saw it.
"I'll go with you, Dan," she said.
Three months went by before Nancy saw Lou again.
At twilight one evening the shop-girl was hurrying home along the
border of a little quiet park. She heard her name called, and wheeled
about in time to catch Lou rushing into her arms.
After the first embrace they drew their heads back as serpents do,
ready to attack or to charm, with a thousand questions trembling on
their swift tongues. And then Nancy noticed that prosperity had
descended upon Lou, manifesting itself in costly furs, flashing
gems, and creations of the tailors' art.
"You little fool!" cried Lou, loudly and affectionately. "I see you
are still working in that store, and as shabby as ever. And how
about that big catch you were going to make--nothing doing yet, I
And then Lou looked, and saw that something better than prosperity
had descended upon Nancy--something that shone brighter than gems
in her eyes and redder than a rose in her cheeks, and that danced
like electricity anxious to be loosed from the tip of her tongue.
"Yes, I'm still in the store," said Nancy, "but I'm going to leave it
next week. I've made my catch--the biggest catch in the world. You
won't mind now Lou, will you?--I'm going to be married to Dan--to
Dan!--he's my Dan now--why, Lou!"
Around the corner of the park strolled one of those new-crop,
smooth-faced young policemen that are making the force more
endurable--at least to the eye. He saw a woman with an expensive fur
coat, and diamond-ringed hands crouching down against the iron fence
of the park sobbing turbulently, while a slender, plainly-dressed
working girl leaned close, trying to console her. But the Gibsonian
cop, being of the new order, passed on, pretending not to notice,
for he was wise enough to know that these matters are beyond help so
far as the power he represents is concerned, though he rap the
pavement with his nightstick till the sound goes up to the
A MADISON SQUARE ARABIAN NIGHT
To Carson Chalmers, in his apartment near the square, Phillips
brought the evening mail. Beside the routine correspondence there
were two items bearing the same foreign postmark.
One of the incoming parcels contained a photograph of a woman. The
other contained an interminable letter, over which Chalmers hung,
absorbed, for a long time. The letter was from another woman; and
it contained poisoned barbs, sweetly dipped in honey, and feathered
with innuendoes concerning the photographed woman.
Chalmers tore this letter into a thousand bits and began to wear out
his expensive rug by striding back and forth upon it. Thus an animal
from the jungle acts when it is caged, and thus a caged man acts
when he is housed in a jungle of doubt.
By and by the restless mood was overcome. The rug was not an
enchanted one. For sixteen feet he could travel along it; three
thousand miles was beyond its power to aid.
Phillips appeared. He never entered; he invariably appeared, like a
"Will you dine here, sir, or out?" he asked.
"Here," said Chalmers, "and in half an hour." He listened glumly to
the January blasts making an Aeolian trombone of the empty street.
"Wait," he said to the disappearing genie. "As I came home across
the end of the square I saw many men standing there in rows. There
was one mounted upon something, talking. Why do those men stand in
rows, and why are they there?"
"They are homeless men, sir," said Phillips. "The man standing on
the box tries to get lodging for them for the night. People come
around to listen and give him money. Then he sends as many as the
money will pay for to some lodging-house. That is why they stand in
rows; they get sent to bed in order as they come."
"By the time dinner is served," said Chalmers, "have one of those
men here. He will dine with me."
"W-w-which--," began Phillips, stammering for the first time during
"Choose one at random," said Chalmers. "You might see that he is
reasonably sober--and a certain amount of cleanliness will not be
held against him. That is all."
It was an unusual thing for Carson Chalmers to play the Caliph. But
on that night he felt the inefficacy of conventional antidotes to
melancholy. Something wanton and egregious, something high-flavored
and Arabian, he must have to lighten his mood.
On the half hour Phillips had finished his duties as slave of the
lamp. The waiters from the restaurant below had whisked aloft the
delectable dinner. The dining table, laid for two, glowed cheerily
in the glow of the pink-shaded candles.
And now Phillips, as though he ushered a cardinal--or held in charge
a burglar--wafted in the shivering guest who had been haled from the
line of mendicant lodgers.
It is a common thing to call such men wrecks; if the comparison be
used here it is the specific one of a derelict come to grief through
fire. Even yet some flickering combustion illuminated the drifting
hulk. His face and hands had been recently washed--a rite insisted
upon by Phillips as a memorial to the slaughtered conventions. In
the candle-light he stood, a flaw in the decorous fittings of the
apartment. His face was a sickly white, covered almost to the eyes
with a stubble the shade of a red Irish setter's coat. Phillips's
comb had failed to control the pale brown hair, long matted and
conformed to the contour of a constantly worn hat. His eyes were
full of a hopeless, tricky defiance like that seen in a cur's that
is cornered by his tormentors. His shabby coat was buttoned high,
but a quarter inch of redeeming collar showed above it. His manner
was singularly free from embarrassment when Chalmers rose from his
chair across the round dining table.
"If you will oblige me," said the host, "I will be glad to have your
company at dinner."
"My name is Plumer," said the highway guest, in harsh and aggressive
tones. "If you're like me, you like to know the name of the party
you're dining with."
"I was going on to say," continued Chalmers somewhat hastily, "that
mine is Chalmers. Will you sit opposite?"
Plumer, of the ruffled plumes, bent his knee for Phillips to slide
the chair beneath him. He had an air of having sat at attended
boards before. Phillips set out the anchovies and olives.
"Good!" barked Plumer; "going to be in courses, is it? All right,
my jovial ruler of Bagdad. I'm your Scheherezade all the way to the
toothpicks. You're the first Caliph with a genuine Oriental flavor
I've struck since frost. What luck! And I was forty-third in line. I
finished counting, just as your welcome emissary arrived to bid me
to the feast. I had about as much chance of getting a bed to-night
as I have of being the next President. How will you have the sad
story of my life, Mr. Al Raschid--a chapter with each course or the
whole edition with the cigars and coffee?"
"The situation does not seem a novel one to you," said Chalmers with
"By the chin whiskers of the prophet--no!" answered the guest. "New
York's as full of cheap Haroun al Raschids as Bagdad is of fleas.
I've been held up for my story with a loaded meal pointed at my
head twenty times. Catch anybody in New York giving you something
for nothing! They spell curiosity and charity with the same set of
building blocks. Lots of 'em will stake you to a dime and chop-suey;
and a few of 'em will play Caliph to the tune of a top sirloin;
but every one of 'em will stand over you till they screw your
autobiography out of you with foot notes, appendix and unpublished
fragments. Oh, I know what to do when I see victuals coming toward
me in little old Bagdad-on-the-Subway. I strike the asphalt three
times with my forehead and get ready to spiel yarns for my supper.
I claim descent from the late Tommy Tucker, who was forced to hand
out vocal harmony for his pre-digested wheaterina and spoopju."
"I do not ask your story," said Chalmers. "I tell you frankly that
it was a sudden whim that prompted me to send for some stranger to
dine with me. I assure you you will not suffer through any curiosity
"Oh, fudge!" exclaimed the guest, enthusiastically tackling his
soup; "I don't mind it a bit. I'm a regular Oriental magazine
with a red cover and the leaves cut when the Caliph walks abroad.
In fact, we fellows in the bed line have a sort of union rate
for things of this sort. Somebody's always stopping and wanting
to know what brought us down so low in the world. For a
sandwich and a glass of beer I tell 'em that drink did it. For
corned beef and cabbage and a cup of coffee I give 'em the
A sirloin steak and a quarter for a bed gets the Wall Street
tragedy of the swept-away fortune and the gradual descent. This
is the first spread of this kind I've stumbled against. I haven't
got a story to fit it. I'll tell you what, Mr. Chalmers, I'm
going to tell you the truth for this, if you'll listen to it.
It'll be harder for you to believe than the made-up ones."
An hour later the Arabian guest lay back with a sigh of satisfaction
while Phillips brought the coffee and cigars and cleared the table.
"Did you ever hear of Sherrard Plumer?" he asked, with a strange
"I remember the name," said Chalmers. "He was a painter, I think, of
a good deal of prominence a few years ago."
"Five years," said the guest. "Then I went down like a chunk of
lead. I'm Sherrard Plumer! I sold the last portrait I painted for
$2,000. After that I couldn't have found a sitter for a gratis
"What was the trouble?" Chalmers could not resist asking.
"Funny thing," answered Plumer, grimly. "Never quite understood it
myself. For a while I swam like a cork. I broke into the swell crowd
and got commissions right and left. The newspapers called me a
fashionable painter. Then the funny things began to happen. Whenever
I finished a picture people would come to see it, and whisper and
look queerly at one another."
"I soon found out what the trouble was. I had a knack of bringing
out in the face of a portrait the hidden character of the original.
I don't know how I did it--I painted what I saw--but I know it did
me. Some of my sitters were fearfully enraged and refused their
pictures. I painted the portrait of a very beautiful and popular
society dame. When it was finished her husband looked at it with a
peculiar expression on his face, and the next week he sued for
"I remember one case of a prominent banker who sat to me. While I
had his portrait on exhibition in my studio an acquaintance of his
came in to look at it. 'Bless me,' says he, 'does he really look
like that?" I told him it was considered a faithful likeness. 'I
never noticed that expression about his eyes before,' said he; 'I
think I'll drop downtown and change my bank account.' He did drop
down, but the bank account was gone and so was Mr. Banker.
"It wasn't long till they put me out of business. People don't
want their secret meannesses shown up in a picture. They can smile
and twist their own faces and deceive you, but the picture can't.
I couldn't get an order for another picture, and I had to give
up. I worked as a newspaper artist for a while, and then for a
lithographer, but my work with them got me into the same trouble. If
I drew from a photograph my drawing showed up characteristics and
expressions that you couldn't find in the photo, but I guess they
were in the original, all right. The customers raised lively rows,
especially the women, and I never could hold a job long. So I began
to rest my weary head upon the breast of Old Booze for comfort. And
pretty soon I was in the free-bed line and doing oral fiction for
hand-outs among the food bazaars. Does the truthful statement weary
thee, O Caliph? I can turn on the Wall Street disaster stop if you
prefer, but that requires a tear, and I'm afraid I can't hustle one
up after that good dinner."
"No, no," said Chalmers, earnestly, "you interest me very much. Did
all of your portraits reveal some unpleasant trait, or were there
some that did not suffer from the ordeal of your peculiar brush?"
"Some? Yes," said Plumer. "Children generally, a good many women and
a sufficient number of men. All people aren't bad, you know. When
they were all right the pictures were all right. As I said, I don't
explain it, but I'm telling you facts."
On Chalmers's writing-table lay the photograph that he had received
that day in the foreign mail. Ten minutes later he had Plumer at
work making a sketch from it in pastels. At the end of an hour the
artist rose and stretched wearily.
"It's done," he yawned. "You'll excuse me for being so long. I got
interested in the job. Lordy! but I'm tired. No bed last night, you
know. Guess it'll have to be good night now, O Commander of the
Chalmers went as far as the door with him and slipped some bills
into his hand.
"Oh! I'll take 'em," said Plumer. "All that's included in the fall.
Thanks. And for the very good dinner. I shall sleep on feathers
to-night and dream of Bagdad. I hope it won't turn out to be a dream
in the morning. Farewell, most excellent Caliph!"
Again Chalmers paced restlessly upon his rug. But his beat lay as
far from the table whereon lay the pastel sketch as the room would
permit. Twice, thrice, he tried to approach it, but failed. He could
see the dun and gold and brown of the colors, but there was a wall
about it built by his fears that kept him at a distance. He sat down
and tried to calm himself. He sprang up and rang for Phillips.
"There is a young artist in this building," he said. "--a Mr.
Reineman--do you know which is his apartment?"
"Top floor, front, sir," said Phillips.
"Go up and ask him to favor me with his presence here for a few
Reineman came at once. Chalmers introduced himself.
"Mr. Reineman," said he, "there is a little pastel sketch on yonder
table. I would be glad if you will give me your opinion of it as to
its artistic merits and as a picture."
The young artist advanced to the table and took up the sketch.
Chalmers half turned away, leaning upon the back of a chair.
"How--do--you find it?" he asked, slowly.
"As a drawing," said the artist, "I can't praise it enough. It's the
work of a master--bold and fine and true. It puzzles me a little; I
haven't seen any pastel work near as good in years."
"The face, man--the subject--the original--what would you say of
"The face," said Reineman, "is the face of one of God's own angels.
May I ask who--"
"My wife!" shouted Chalmers, wheeling and pouncing upon the
astonished artist, gripping his hand and pounding his back. "She is
traveling in Europe. Take that sketch, boy, and paint the picture
of your life from it and leave the price to me."
THE RUBAIYAT OF A SCOTCH HIGHBALL
This document is intended to strike somewhere between a temperance
lecture and the "Bartender's Guide." Relative to the latter, drink
shall swell the theme and be set forth in abundance. Agreeably to
the former, not an elbow shall be crooked.
Bob Babbitt was "off the stuff." Which means--as you will discover
by referring to the unabridged dictionary of Bohemia--that he had
"cut out the booze;" that he was "on the water wagon." The reason
for Bob's sudden attitude of hostility toward the "demon rum"--as
the white ribboners miscall whiskey (see the "Bartender's Guide"),
should be of interest to reformers and saloon-keepers.
There is always hope for a man who, when sober, will not concede or
acknowledge that he was ever drunk. But when a man will say (in the
apt words of the phrase-distiller), "I had a beautiful skate on last
night," you will have to put stuff in his coffee as well as pray for
One evening on his way home Babbitt dropped in at the Broadway bar
that he liked best. Always there were three or four fellows there
from the downtown offices whom he knew. And then there would be
high-balls and stories, and he would hurry home to dinner a little
late but feeling good, and a little sorry for the poor Standard Oil
Company. On this evening as he entered he heard some one say:
"Babbitt was in last night as full as a boiled owl."
Babbitt walked to the bar, and saw in the mirror that his face was
as white as chalk. For the first time he had looked Truth in the
eyes. Others had lied to him; he had dissembled with himself. He was
a drunkard, and had not known it. What he had fondly imagined was a
pleasant exhilaration had been maudlin intoxication. His fancied wit
had been drivel; his gay humors nothing but the noisy vagaries of a
sot. But, never again!
"A glass of seltzer," he said to the bartender.
A little silence fell upon the group of his cronies, who had been
expecting him to join them.
"Going off the stuff, Bob?" one of them asked politely and with more
formality than the highballs ever called forth.
"Yes," said Babbitt.
Some one of the group took up the unwashed thread of a story he had
been telling; the bartender shoved over a dime and a nickel change
from the quarter, ungarnished with his customary smile; and Babbitt
Now, Babbitt had a home and a wife--but that is another story. And I
will tell you that story, which will show you a better habit and a
worse story than you could find in the man who invented the phrase.
It began away up in Sullivan County, where so many rivers and so
much trouble begins--or begin; how would you say that? It was July,
and Jessie was a summer boarder at the Mountain Squint Hotel, and
Bob, who was just out of college, saw her one day--and they were
married in September. That's the tabloid novel--one swallow of
water, and it's gone.
But those July days!
Let the exclamation point expound it, for I shall not. For
particulars you might read up on "Romeo and Juliet," and Abraham
Lincoln's thrilling sonnet about "You can fool some of the people,"
&c., and Darwin's works.
But one thing I must tell you about. Both of them were mad over
Omar's Rubaiyat. They knew every verse of the old bluffer by
heart--not consecutively, but picking 'em out here and there as you
fork the mushrooms in a fifty-cent steak à la Bordelaise. Sullivan
County is full of rocks and trees; and Jessie used to sit on them,
and--please be good--used to sit on the rocks; and Bob had a way of
standing behind her with his hands over her shoulders holding her
hands, and his face close to hers, and they would repeat over and
over their favorite verses of the old tent-maker. They saw only the
poetry and philosophy of the lines then--indeed, they agreed that
the Wine was only an image, and that what was meant to be celebrated
was some divinity, or maybe Love or Life. However, at that time
neither of them had tasted the stuff that goes with a sixty-cent
Where was I? Oh, they married and came to New York. Bob showed his
college diploma, and accepted a position filling inkstands in a
lawyer's office at $15 a week. At the end of two years he had worked
up to $50, and gotten his first taste of Bohemia--the kind that
won't stand the borax and formaldehyde tests.
They had two furnished rooms and a little kitchen. To Jess,
accustomed to the mild but beautiful savor of a country town, the
dreggy Bohemia was sugar and spice. She hung fish seines on the
walls of her rooms, and bought a rakish-looking sideboard, and
learned to play the banjo. Twice or thrice a week they dined at
French or Italian "tables d'hote" in a cloud of smoke, and brag and
unshorn hair. Jess learned to drink a cocktail in order to get the
cherry. At home she smoked a cigarette after dinner. She learned to
pronounce Chianti, and leave her olive stones for the waiter to pick
up. Once she essayed to say la, la, la! in a crowd but got only as
far as the second one. They met one or two couples while dining out
and became friendly with them. The sideboard was stocked with Scotch
and rye and a liqueur. They had their new friends in to dinner and
all were laughing at nothing by 1 A. M. Some plastering fell in the
room below them, for which Bob had to pay $4.50. Thus they footed it
merrily on the ragged frontiers of the country that has no boundary
lines or government.
And soon Bob fell in with his cronies and learned to keep his foot
on the little rail six inches above the floor for an hour or so
every afternoon before he went home. Drink always rubbed him the
right way, and he would reach his rooms as jolly as a sandboy.
Jessie would meet him at the door, and generally they would dance
some insane kind of a rigadoon about the floor by way of greeting.
Once when Bob's feet became confused and he tumbled headlong over a
foot-stool Jessie laughed so heartily and long that he had to throw
all the couch pillows at her to make her hush.
In such wise life was speeding for them on the day when Bob Babbitt
first felt the power that the giftie gi'ed him.
But let us get back to our lamb and mint sauce.
When Bob got home that evening he found Jessie in a long apron
cutting up a lobster for the Newburg. Usually when Bob came in
mellow from his hour at the bar his welcome was hilarious, though
somewhat tinctured with Scotch smoke.
By screams and snatches of song and certain audible testimonials of
domestic felicity was his advent proclaimed. When she heard his foot
on the stairs the old maid in the hall room always stuffed cotton
into her ears. At first Jessie had shrunk from the rudeness and
favor of these spiritual greetings, but as the fog of the false
Bohemia gradually encompassed her she came to accept them as love's
true and proper greeting.
Bob came in without a word, smiled, kissed her neatly but
noiselessly, took up a paper and sat down. In the hall room the old
maid held her two plugs of cotton poised, filled with anxiety.
Jessie dropped lobster and knife and ran to him with frightened
"What's the matter, Bob, are you ill?"
"Not at all, dear."
"Then what's the matter with you?"
Hearken, brethren. When She-who-has-a-right-to-ask interrogates you
concerning a change she finds in your mood answer her thus: Tell her
that you, in a sudden rage, have murdered your grandmother; tell her
that you have robbed orphans and that remorse has stricken you; tell
her your fortune is swept away; that you are beset by enemies, by
bunions, by any kind of malevolent fate; but do not, if peace and
happiness are worth as much as a grain of mustard seed to you--do
not answer her "Nothing."
Jessie went back to the lobster in silence. She cast looks of
darkest suspicion at Bob. He had never acted that way before.
When dinner was on the table she set out the bottle of Scotch and
the glasses. Bob declined.
"Tell you the truth, Jess," he said. "I've cut out the drink. Help
yourself, of course. If you don't mind I'll try some of the seltzer
"You've stopped drinking?" she said, looking at him steadily and
unsmilingly. "What for?"
"It wasn't doing me any good," said Bob. "Don't you approve of the
Jessie raised her eyebrows and one shoulder slightly.
"Entirely," she said with a sculptured smile. "I could not
conscientiously advise any one to drink or smoke, or whistle on
The meal was finished almost in silence. Bob tried to make talk,
but his efforts lacked the stimulus of previous evenings. He felt
miserable, and once or twice his eye wandered toward the bottle, but
each time the scathing words of his bibulous friend sounded in his
ear, and his mouth set with determination.
Jessie felt the change deeply. The essence of their lives seemed to
have departed suddenly. The restless fever, the false gayety, the
unnatural excitement of the shoddy Bohemia in which they had lived
had dropped away in the space of the popping of a cork. She stole
curious and forlorn glances at the dejected Bob, who bore the guilty
look of at least a wife-beater or a family tyrant.
After dinner the colored maid who came in daily to perform such
chores cleared away the things. Jessie, with an unreadable
countenance, brought back the bottle of Scotch and the glasses and
a bowl of cracked ice and set them on the table.
"May I ask," she said, with some of the ice in her tones, "whether
I am to be included in your sudden spasm of goodness? If not, I'll
make one for myself. It's rather chilly this evening, for some
"Oh, come now, Jess," said Bob good-naturedly, "don't be too rough
on me. Help yourself, by all means. There's no danger of your
overdoing it. But I thought there was with me; and that's why I
quit. Have yours, and then let's get out the banjo and try over that
"I've heard," said Jessie in the tones of the oracle, "that drinking
alone is a pernicious habit. No, I don't think I feel like playing
this evening. If we are going to reform we may as well abandon the
evil habit of banjo-playing, too."
She took up a book and sat in her little willow rocker on the other
side of the table. Neither of them spoke for half an hour.
And then Bob laid down his paper and got up with a strange, absent
look on his face and went behind her chair and reached over her
shoulders, taking her hands in his, and laid his face close to hers.
In a moment to Jessie the walls of the seine-hung room vanished, and
she saw the Sullivan County hills and rills. Bob felt her hands
quiver in his as he began the verse from old Omar:
"Come, fill the Cup, and in the Fire of Spring
The Winter Garment of Repentance fling:
The Bird of Time has but a little way
To fly--and Lo! the Bird is on the Wing!"
And then he walked to the table and poured a stiff drink of Scotch
into a glass.
But in that moment a mountain breeze had somehow found its way in
and blown away the mist of the false Bohemia.
Jessie leaped and with one fierce sweep of her hand sent the bottle
and glasses crashing to the floor. The same motion of her arm
carried it around Bob's neck, where it met its mate and fastened
"Oh, my God, Bobbie--not that verse--I see now. I wasn't always such
a fool, was I? The other one, boy--the one that says: 'Remould it to
the Heart's Desire.' Say that one--'to the Heart's Desire.'"
"I know that one," said Bob. "It goes:
"'Ah! Love, could you and I with Him conspire
To grasp this sorry Scheme of Things entire
Would not we--'"
"Let me finish it," said Jessie.
"'Would not we shatter it to bits--and then
Remould it nearer to the Heart's Desire!'"
"It's shattered all right," said Bob, crunching some glass under his
In some dungeon below the accurate ear of Mrs. Pickens, the landlady,
located the smash.
"It's that wild Mr. Babbitt coming home soused again," she said.
"And he's got such a nice little wife, too!"
"Eighty-first street--let 'em out, please," yelled the shepherd in
A flock of citizen sheep scrambled out and another flock scrambled
aboard. Ding-ding! The cattle cars of the Manhattan Elevated rattled
away, and John Perkins drifted down the stairway of the station with
the released flock.
John walked slowly toward his flat. Slowly, because in the lexicon
of his daily life there was no such word as "perhaps." There are no
surprises awaiting a man who has been married two years and lives in
a flat. As he walked John Perkins prophesied to himself with gloomy
and downtrodden cynicism the foregone conclusions of the monotonous
Katy would meet him at the door with a kiss flavored with cold cream
and butter-scotch. He would remove his coat, sit upon a macadamized
lounge and read, in the evening paper, of Russians and Japs
slaughtered by the deadly linotype. For dinner there would be pot
roast, a salad flavored with a dressing warranted not to crack or
injure the leather, stewed rhubarb and the bottle of strawberry
marmalade blushing at the certificate of chemical purity on its
label. After dinner Katy would show him the new patch in her crazy
quilt that the iceman had cut for her off the end of his four-in-hand.
At half-past seven they would spread newspapers over the furniture
to catch the pieces of plastering that fell when the fat man in the
flat overhead began to take his physical culture exercises. Exactly
at eight Hickey & Mooney, of the vaudeville team (unbooked) in the
flat across the hall, would yield to the gentle influence of delirium
tremens and begin to overturn chairs under the delusion that
Hammerstein was pursuing them with a five-hundred-dollar-a-week
contract. Then the gent at the window across the air-shaft would get
out his flute; the nightly gas leak would steal forth to frolic in
the highways; the dumbwaiter would slip off its trolley; the janitor
would drive Mrs. Zanowitski's five children once more across the
Yalu, the lady with the champagne shoes and the Skye terrier would
trip downstairs and paste her Thursday name over her bell and
letter-box--and the evening routine of the Frogmore flats would be
John Perkins knew these things would happen. And he knew that at a
quarter past eight he would summon his nerve and reach for his hat,
and that his wife would deliver this speech in a querulous tone:
"Now, where are you going, I'd like to know, John Perkins?"
"Thought I'd drop up to McCloskey's," he would answer, "and play a
game or two of pool with the fellows."
Of late such had been John Perkins's habit. At ten or eleven he
would return. Sometimes Katy would be asleep; sometimes waiting up,
ready to melt in the crucible of her ire a little more gold plating
from the wrought steel chains of matrimony. For these things Cupid
will have to answer when he stands at the bar of justice with his
victims from the Frogmore flats.
To-night John Perkins encountered a tremendous upheaval of the
commonplace when he reached his door. No Katy was there with her
affectionate, confectionate kiss. The three rooms seemed in
portentous disorder. All about lay her things in confusion. Shoes in
the middle of the floor, curling tongs, hair bows, kimonos, powder
box, jumbled together on dresser and chairs--this was not Katy's
way. With a sinking heart John saw the comb with a curling cloud of
her brown hair among its teeth. Some unusual hurry and perturbation
must have possessed her, for she always carefully placed these
combings in the little blue vase on the mantel to be some day formed
into the coveted feminine "rat."
Hanging conspicuously to the gas jet by a string was a folded paper.
John seized it. It was a note from his wife running thus:
Dear John: I just had a telegram saying mother is very sick.
I am going to take the 4.30 train. Brother Sam is going to meet
me at the depot there. There is cold mutton in the ice box. I
hope it isn't her quinzy again. Pay the milkman 50 cents. She
had it bad last spring. Don't forget to write to the company
about the gas meter, and your good socks are in the top drawer.
I will write to-morrow.
Never during their two years of matrimony had he and Katy been
separated for a night. John read the note over and over in a
dumbfounded way. Here was a break in a routine that had never
varied, and it left him dazed.
There on the back of a chair hung, pathetically empty and formless,
the red wrapper with black dots that she always wore while getting
the meals. Her week-day clothes had been tossed here and there in
her haste. A little paper bag of her favorite butter-scotch lay with
its string yet unwound. A daily paper sprawled on the floor, gaping
rectangularly where a railroad time-table had been clipped from it.
Everything in the room spoke of a loss, of an essence gone, of its
soul and life departed. John Perkins stood among the dead remains
with a queer feeling of desolation in his heart.
He began to set the rooms tidy as well as he could. When he touched
her clothes a thrill of something like terror went through him. He
had never thought what existence would be without Katy. She had
become so thoroughly annealed into his life that she was like the
air he breathed--necessary but scarcely noticed. Now, without
warning, she was gone, vanished, as completely absent as if she had
never existed. Of course it would be only for a few days, or at most
a week or two, but it seemed to him as if the very hand of death had
pointed a finger at his secure and uneventful home.
John dragged the cold mutton from the ice-box, made coffee and sat
down to a lonely meal face to face with the strawberry marmalade's
shameless certificate of purity. Bright among withdrawn blessings
now appeared to him the ghosts of pot roasts and the salad with tan
polish dressing. His home was dismantled. A quinzied mother-in-law
had knocked his lares and penates sky-high. After his solitary meal
John sat at a front window.
He did not care to smoke. Outside the city roared to him to come
join in its dance of folly and pleasure. The night was his. He might
go forth unquestioned and thrum the strings of jollity as free as
any gay bachelor there. He might carouse and wander and have his
fling until dawn if he liked; and there would be no wrathful Katy
waiting for him, bearing the chalice that held the dregs of his joy.
He might play pool at McCloskey's with his roistering friends until
Aurora dimmed the electric bulbs if he chose. The hymeneal strings
that had curbed him always when the Frogmore flats had palled upon
him were loosened. Katy was gone.
John Perkins was not accustomed to analyzing his emotions. But as
he sat in his Katy-bereft 10x12 parlor he hit unerringly upon the
keynote of his discomfort. He knew now that Katy was necessary to
his happiness. His feeling for her, lulled into unconsciousness by
the dull round of domesticity, had been sharply stirred by the loss
of her presence. Has it not been dinned into us by proverb and
sermon and fable that we never prize the music till the sweet-voiced
bird has flown--or in other no less florid and true utterances?
"I'm a double-dyed dub," mused John Perkins, "the way I've been
treating Katy. Off every night playing pool and bumming with the
boys instead of staying home with her. The poor girl here all alone
with nothing to amuse her, and me acting that way! John Perkins,
you're the worst kind of a shine. I'm going to make it up for the
little girl. I'll take her out and let her see some amusement. And
I'll cut out the McCloskey gang right from this minute."
Yes, there was the city roaring outside for John Perkins to come
dance in the train of Momus. And at McCloskey's the boys were
knocking the balls idly into the pockets against the hour for the
nightly game. But no primrose way nor clicking cue could woo the
remorseful soul of Perkins the bereft. The thing that was his,
lightly held and half scorned, had been taken away from him, and he
wanted it. Backward to a certain man named Adam, whom the cherubim
bounced from the orchard, could Perkins, the remorseful, trace his
Near the right hand of John Perkins stood a chair. On the back of
it stood Katy's blue shirtwaist. It still retained something of
her contour. Midway of the sleeves were fine, individual wrinkles
made by the movements of her arms in working for his comfort and
pleasure. A delicate but impelling odor of bluebells came from
it. John took it and looked long and soberly at the unresponsive
grenadine. Katy had never been unresponsive. Tears:--yes,
tears--came into John Perkins's eyes. When she came back things
would be different. He would make up for all his neglect. What
was life without her?
The door opened. Katy walked in carrying a little hand satchel. John
stared at her stupidly.
"My! I'm glad to get back," said Katy. "Ma wasn't sick to amount
to anything. Sam was at the depot, and said she just had a little
spell, and got all right soon after they telegraphed. So I took the
next train back. I'm just dying for a cup of coffee."
Nobody heard the click and rattle of the cog-wheels as the third-floor
front of the Frogmore flats buzzed its machinery back into the Order
of Things. A band slipped, a spring was touched, the gear was adjusted
and the wheels revolve in their old orbit.
John Perkins looked at the clock. It was 8.15. He reached for his
hat and walked to the door.
"Now, where are you going, I'd like to know, John Perkins?" asked
Katy, in a querulous tone.
"Thought I'd drop up to McCloskey's," said John, "and play a game or
two of pool with the fellows."
TWO THANKSGIVING DAY GENTLEMEN
There is one day that is ours. There is one day when all we
Americans who are not self-made go back to the old home to eat
saleratus biscuits and marvel how much nearer to the porch the old
pump looks than it used to. Bless the day. President Roosevelt gives
it to us. We hear some talk of the Puritans, but don't just remember
who they were. Bet we can lick 'em, anyhow, if they try to land
again. Plymouth Rocks? Well, that sounds more familiar. Lots of us
have had to come down to hens since the Turkey Trust got its work
in. But somebody in Washington is leaking out advance information
to 'em about these Thanksgiving proclamations.
The big city east of the cranberry bogs has made Thanksgiving Day an
institution. The last Thursday in November is the only day in the
year on which it recognizes the part of America lying across the
ferries. It is the one day that is purely American. Yes, a day of
celebration, exclusively American.
And now for the story which is to prove to you that we have
traditions on this side of the ocean that are becoming older at a
much rapider rate than those of England are--thanks to our git-up
Stuffy Pete took his seat on the third bench to the right as you
enter Union Square from the east, at the walk opposite the fountain.
Every Thanksgiving Day for nine years he had taken his seat there
promptly at 1 o'clock. For every time he had done so things had
happened to him--Charles Dickensy things that swelled his waistcoat
above his heart, and equally on the other side.
But to-day Stuffy Pete's appearance at the annual trysting place
seemed to have been rather the result of habit than of the yearly
hunger which, as the philanthropists seem to think, afflicts the
poor at such extended intervals.
Certainly Pete was not hungry. He had just come from a feast
that had left him of his powers barely those of respiration and
locomotion. His eyes were like two pale gooseberries firmly imbedded
in a swollen and gravy-smeared mask of putty. His breath came
in short wheezes; a senatorial roll of adipose tissue denied a
fashionable set to his upturned coat collar. Buttons that had been
sewed upon his clothes by kind Salvation fingers a week before flew
like popcorn, strewing the earth around him. Ragged he was, with a
split shirt front open to the wishbone; but the November breeze,
carrying fine snowflakes, brought him only a grateful coolness.
For Stuffy Pete was overcharged with the caloric produced by a
super-bountiful dinner, beginning with oysters and ending with plum
pudding, and including (it seemed to him) all the roast turkey and
baked potatoes and chicken salad and squash pie and ice cream in
the world. Wherefore he sat, gorged, and gazed upon the world with
The meal had been an unexpected one. He was passing a red brick
mansion near the beginning of Fifth avenue, in which lived two old
ladies of ancient family and a reverence for traditions. They even
denied the existence of New York, and believed that Thanksgiving Day
was declared solely for Washington Square. One of their traditional
habits was to station a servant at the postern gate with orders to
admit the first hungry wayfarer that came along after the hour of
noon had struck, and banquet him to a finish. Stuffy Pete happened
to pass by on his way to the park, and the seneschals gathered him
in and upheld the custom of the castle.
After Stuffy Pete had gazed straight before him for ten minutes he
was conscious of a desire for a more varied field of vision. With a
tremendous effort he moved his head slowly to the left. And then his
eyes bulged out fearfully, and his breath ceased, and the rough-shod
ends of his short legs wriggled and rustled on the gravel.
For the Old Gentleman was coming across Fourth avenue toward his
Every Thanksgiving Day for nine years the Old Gentleman had come
there and found Stuffy Pete on his bench. That was a thing that the
Old Gentleman was trying to make a tradition of. Every Thanksgiving
Day for nine years he had found Stuffy there, and had led him to a
restaurant and watched him eat a big dinner. They do those things in
England unconsciously. But this is a young country, and nine years
is not so bad. The Old Gentleman was a staunch American patriot, and
considered himself a pioneer in American tradition. In order to
become picturesque we must keep on doing one thing for a long time
without ever letting it get away from us. Something like collecting
the weekly dimes in industrial insurance. Or cleaning the streets.
The Old Gentleman moved, straight and stately, toward the
Institution that he was rearing. Truly, the annual feeding of Stuffy
Pete was nothing national in its character, such as the Magna Charta
or jam for breakfast was in England. But it was a step. It was
almost feudal. It showed, at least, that a Custom was not impossible
to New Y--ahem!--America.
The Old Gentleman was thin and tall and sixty. He was dressed all in
black, and wore the old-fashioned kind of glasses that won't stay
on your nose. His hair was whiter and thinner than it had been last
year, and he seemed to make more use of his big, knobby cane with
the crooked handle.
As his established benefactor came up Stuffy wheezed and shuddered
like some woman's over-fat pug when a street dog bristles up at him.
He would have flown, but all the skill of Santos-Dumont could not
have separated him from his bench. Well had the myrmidons of the two
old ladies done their work.
"Good morning," said the Old Gentleman. "I am glad to perceive that
the vicissitudes of another year have spared you to move in health
about the beautiful world. For that blessing alone this day of
thanksgiving is well proclaimed to each of us. If you will come with
me, my man, I will provide you with a dinner that should make your
physical being accord with the mental."
That is what the old Gentleman said every time. Every Thanksgiving
Day for nine years. The words themselves almost formed an
Institution. Nothing could be compared with them except the
Declaration of Independence. Always before they had been music in
Stuffy's ears. But now he looked up at the Old Gentleman's face with
tearful agony in his own. The fine snow almost sizzled when it fell
upon his perspiring brow. But the Old Gentleman shivered a little
and turned his back to the wind.
Stuffy had always wondered why the Old Gentleman spoke his speech
rather sadly. He did not know that it was because he was wishing
every time that he had a son to succeed him. A son who would come
there after he was gone--a son who would stand proud and strong
before some subsequent Stuffy, and say: "In memory of my father."
Then it would be an Institution.
But the Old Gentleman had no relatives. He lived in rented rooms
in one of the decayed old family brownstone mansions in one of the
quiet streets east of the park. In the winter he raised fuchsias in
a little conservatory the size of a steamer trunk. In the spring he
walked in the Easter parade. In the summer he lived at a farmhouse
in the New Jersey hills, and sat in a wicker armchair, speaking of
a butterfly, the ornithoptera amphrisius, that he hoped to find
some day. In the autumn he fed Stuffy a dinner. These were the Old
Stuffy Pete looked up at him for a half minute, stewing and helpless
in his own self-pity. The Old Gentleman's eyes were bright with the
giving-pleasure. His face was getting more lined each year, but his
little black necktie was in as jaunty a bow as ever, and the linen
was beautiful and white, and his gray mustache was curled carefully
at the ends. And then Stuffy made a noise that sounded like peas
bubbling in a pot. Speech was intended; and as the Old Gentleman had
heard the sounds nine times before, he rightly construed them into
Stuffy's old formula of acceptance.
"Thankee, sir. I'll go with ye, and much obliged. I'm very hungry,
The coma of repletion had not prevented from entering Stuffy's
mind the conviction that he was the basis of an Institution. His
Thanksgiving appetite was not his own; it belonged by all the sacred
rights of established custom, if not, by the actual Statute of
Limitations, to this kind old gentleman who bad preempted it. True,
America is free; but in order to establish tradition some one must
be a repetend--a repeating decimal. The heroes are not all heroes of
steel and gold. See one here that wielded only weapons of iron,
badly silvered, and tin.
The Old Gentleman led his annual protege southward to the restaurant,
and to the table where the feast had always occurred. They were
"Here comes de old guy," said a waiter, "dat blows dat same bum to a
meal every Thanksgiving."
The Old Gentleman sat across the table glowing like a smoked pearl
at his corner-stone of future ancient Tradition. The waiters heaped
the table with holiday food--and Stuffy, with a sigh that was
mistaken for hunger's expression, raised knife and fork and carved
for himself a crown of imperishable bay.
No more valiant hero ever fought his way through the ranks of an
enemy. Turkey, chops, soups, vegetables, pies, disappeared before
him as fast as they could be served. Gorged nearly to the uttermost
when he entered the restaurant, the smell of food had almost caused
him to lose his honor as a gentleman, but he rallied like a
true knight. He saw the look of beneficent happiness on the Old
Gentleman's face--a happier look than even the fuchsias and the
ornithoptera amphrisius had ever brought to it--and he had not the
heart to see it wane.
In an hour Stuffy leaned back with a battle won. "Thankee kindly,
sir," he puffed like a leaky steam pipe; "thankee kindly for a
hearty meal." Then he arose heavily with glazed eyes and started
toward the kitchen. A waiter turned him about like a top, and
pointed him toward the door. The Old Gentleman carefully counted out
$1.30 in silver change, leaving three nickels for the waiter.
They parted as they did each year at the door, the Old Gentleman
going south, Stuffy north.
Around the first corner Stuffy turned, and stood for one minute.
Then he seemed to puff out his rags as an owl puffs out his
feathers, and fell to the sidewalk like a sunstricken horse.
When the ambulance came the young surgeon and the driver cursed
softly at his weight. There was no smell of whiskey to justify a
transfer to the patrol wagon, so Stuffy and his two dinners went to
the hospital. There they stretched him on a bed and began to test
him for strange diseases, with the hope of getting a chance at some
problem with the bare steel.
And lo! an hour later another ambulance brought the Old Gentleman.
And they laid him on another bed and spoke of appendicitis, for he
looked good for the bill.
But pretty soon one of the young doctors met one of the young nurses
whose eyes he liked, and stopped to chat with her about the cases.
"That nice old gentleman over there, now," he said, "you wouldn't
think that was a case of almost starvation. Proud old family, I
guess. He told me he hadn't eaten a thing for three days."
THE ASSESSOR OF SUCCESS
Hastings Beauchamp Morley sauntered across Union Square with a
pitying look at the hundreds that lolled upon the park benches. They
were a motley lot, he thought; the men with stolid, animal, unshaven
faces; the women wriggling and self-conscious, twining and untwining
their feet that hung four inches above the gravelled walks.
Were I Mr. Carnegie or Mr. Rockefeller I would put a few millions
in my inside pocket and make an appointment with all the Park
Commissioners (around the corner, if necessary), and arrange
for benches in all the parks of the world low enough for women
to sit upon, and rest their feet upon the ground. After that I
might furnish libraries to towns that would pay for 'em, or build
sanitariums for crank professors, and call 'em colleges, if I
Women's rights societies have been laboring for many years after
equality with man. With what result? When they sit on a bench they
must twist their ankles together and uncomfortably swing their
highest French heels clear of earthly support. Begin at the bottom,
ladies. Get your feet on the ground, and then rise to theories of
Hastings Beauchamp Morley was carefully and neatly dressed. That
was the result of an instinct due to his birth and breeding. It
is denied us to look further into a man's bosom than the starch on
his shirt front; so it is left to us only to recount his walks and
Morley had not a cent in his pockets; but he smiled pityingly at a
hundred grimy, unfortunate ones who had no more, and who would have
no more when the sun's first rays yellowed the tall paper-cutter
building on the west side of the square. But Morley would have
enough by then. Sundown had seen his pockets empty before; but
sunrise had always seen them lined.
First he went to the house of a clergyman off Madison avenue and
presented a forged letter of introduction that holily purported to
issue from a pastorate in Indiana. This netted him $5 when backed
up by a realistic romance of a delayed remittance.
On the sidewalk, twenty steps from the clergyman's door, a
pale-faced, fat man huskily enveloped him with a raised, red fist
and the voice of a bell buoy, demanding payment of an old score.
"Why, Bergman, man," sang Morley, dulcetly, "is this you? I was just
on my way up to your place to settle up. That remittance from my
aunt arrived only this morning. Wrong address was the trouble. Come
up to the corner and I'll square up. Glad to see you. Saves me a
Four drinks placated the emotional Bergman. There was an air about
Morley when he was backed by money in hand that would have stayed
off a call loan at Rothschilds'. When he was penniless his bluff was
pitched half a tone lower, but few are competent to detect the
difference in the notes.
"You gum to mine blace and bay me to-morrow, Mr. Morley," said
Bergman. "Oxcuse me dat I dun you on der street. But I haf not seen
you in dree mont'. Pros't!"
Morley walked away with a crooked smile on his pale, smooth face.
The credulous, drink-softened German amused him. He would have to
avoid Twenty-ninth street in the future. He had not been aware that
Bergman ever went home by that route.
At the door of a darkened house two squares to the north Morley
knocked with a peculiar sequence of raps. The door opened to the
length of a six-inch chain, and the pompous, important black face of
an African guardian imposed itself in the opening. Morley was
In a third-story room, in an atmosphere opaque with smoke, he hung
for ten minutes above a roulette wheel. Then downstairs he crept,
and was out-sped by the important negro, jingling in his pocket the
40 cents in silver that remained to him of his five-dollar capital.
At the corner he lingered, undecided.
Across the street was a drug store, well lighted, sending forth
gleams from the German silver and crystal of its soda fountain and
glasses. Along came a youngster of five, headed for the dispensary,
stepping high with the consequence of a big errand, possibly one to
which his advancing age had earned him promotion. In his hand he
clutched something tightly, publicly, proudly, conspicuously.
Morley stopped him with his winning smile and soft speech.
"Me?" said the youngster. "I'm doin' to the drug 'tore for mamma.
She dave me a dollar to buy a bottle of med'cin."
"Now, now, now!" said Morley. "Such a big man you are to be doing
errands for mamma. I must go along with my little man to see that
the cars don't run over him. And on the way we'll have some
chocolates. Or would he rather have lemon drops?"
Morley entered the drug store leading the child by the hand. He
presented the prescription that had been wrapped around the money.
On his face was a smile, predatory, parental, politic, profound.
"Aqua pura, one pint," said he to the druggist. "Sodium chloride,
ten grains. Fiat solution. And don't try to skin me, because I know
all about the number of gallons of H2O in the Croton reservoir, and
I always use the other ingredient on my potatoes."
"Fifteen cents," said the druggist, with a wink after he had
compounded the order. "I see you understand pharmacy. A dollar is
the regular price."
"To gulls," said Morley, smilingly.
He settled the wrapped bottle carefully in the child's arms and
escorted him to the corner. In his own pocket he dropped the 85
cents accruing to him by virtue of his chemical knowledge.
"Look out for the cars, sonny," he said, cheerfully, to his small
Two street cars suddenly swooped in opposite directions upon the
youngster. Morley dashed between them and pinned the infantile
messenger by the neck, holding him in safety. Then from the corner
of his street he sent him on his way, swindled, happy, and sticky
with vile, cheap candy from the Italian's fruit stand.
Morley went to a restaurant and ordered a sirloin and a pint of
inexpensive Chateau Breuille. He laughed noiselessly, but so
genuinely that the waiter ventured to premise that good news had
come his way.
"Why, no," said Morley, who seldom held conversation with any one.
"It is not that. It is something else that amuses me. Do you know
what three divisions of people are easiest to over-reach in
transactions of all kinds?"
"Sure," said the waiter, calculating the size of the tip promised by
the careful knot of Morley's tie; "there's the buyers from the dry
goods stores in the South during August, and honeymooners from
Staten Island, and"--
"Wrong!" said Morley, chuckling happily. "The answer is just--men,
women and children. The world--well, say New York and as far
as summer boarders can swim out from Long Island--is full of
greenhorns. Two minutes longer on the broiler would have made this
steak fit to be eaten by a gentleman, Francois."
"If yez t'inks it's on de bum," said the waiter, "Oi'll"--
Morley lifted his hand in protest--slightly martyred protest.
"It will do," he said, magnanimously. "And now, green Chartreuse,
frappe and a demi-tasse."
Morley went out leisurely and stood on a corner where two tradeful
arteries of the city cross. With a solitary dime in his pocket, he
stood on the curb watching with confident, cynical, smiling eyes the
tides of people that flowed past him. Into that stream he must cast
his net and draw fish for his further sustenance and need. Good
Izaak Walton had not the half of his self-reliance and bait-lore.
A joyful party of four--two women and two men--fell upon him with
cries of delight. There was a dinner party on--where had he been for
a fortnight past?--what luck to thus run upon him! They surrounded
and engulfed him--he must join them--tra la la--and the rest.
One with a white hat plume curving to the shoulder touched his
sleeve, and cast at the others a triumphant look that said: "See
what I can do with him?" and added her queen's command to the
"I leave you to imagine," said Morley, pathetically, "how it
desolates me to forego the pleasure. But my friend Carruthers, of
the New York Yacht Club, is to pick me up here in his motor car at
The white plume tossed, and the quartet danced like midges around an
arc light down the frolicsome way.
Morley stood, turning over and over the dime in his pocket and
laughing gleefully to himself. "'Front,'" he chanted under his
breath; "'front' does it. It is trumps in the game. How they take it
in! Men, women and children--forgeries, water-and-salt lies--how
they all take it in!"
An old man with an ill-fitting suit, a straggling gray beard and a
corpulent umbrella hopped from the conglomeration of cabs and street
cars to the sidewalk at Morley's side.
"Stranger," said he, "excuse me for troubling you, but do you know
anybody in this here town named Solomon Smothers? He's my son, and
I've come down from Ellenville to visit him. Be darned if I know
what I done with his street and number."
"I do not, sir," said Morley, half closing his eyes to veil the joy
in them. "You had better apply to the police."
"The police!" said the old man. "I ain't done nothin' to call in the
police about. I just come down to see Ben. He lives in a five-story
house, he writes me. If you know anybody by that name and could"--
"I told you I did not," said Morley, coldly. "I know no one by the
name of Smithers, and I advise you to"--
"Smothers not Smithers," interrupted the old man hopefully. "A
heavy-set man, sandy complected, about twenty-nine, two front teeth
out, about five foot"--
"Oh, 'Smothers!'" exclaimed Morley. "Sol Smothers? Why, he lives in
the next house to me. I thought you said 'Smithers.'"
Morley looked at his watch. You must have a watch. You can do
it for a dollar. Better go hungry than forego a gunmetal or the
ninety-eight-cent one that the railroads--according to these
watchmakers--are run by.
"The Bishop of Long Island," said Morley, "was to meet me here
at 8 to dine with me at the Kingfishers' Club. But I can't leave
the father of my friend Sol Smothers alone on the street. By St.
Swithin, Mr. Smothers, we Wall street men have to work! Tired is no
name for it! I was about to step across to the other corner and have
a glass of ginger ale with a dash of sherry when you approached me.
You must let me take you to Sol's house, Mr. Smothers. But, before
we take the car I hope you will join me in"--
An hour later Morley seated himself on the end of a quiet bench
in Madison Square, with a twenty-five-cent cigar between his lips
and $140 in deeply creased bills in his inside pocket. Content,
light-hearted, ironical, keenly philosophic, he watched the moon
drifting in and out amidst a maze of flying clouds. An old, ragged
man with a low-bowed head sat at the other end of the bench.
Presently the old man stirred and looked at his bench companion. In
Morley's appearance he seemed to recognize something superior to the
usual nightly occupants of the benches.
"Kind sir," he whined, "if you could spare a dime or even a few
pennies to one who"--
Morley cut short his stereotyped appeal by throwing him a dollar.
"God bless you!" said the old man. "I've been trying to find work
"Work!" echoed Morley with his ringing laugh. "You are a fool, my
friend. The world is a rock to you, no doubt; but you must be an
Aaron and smite it with your rod. Then things better than water will
gush out of it for you. That is what the world is for. It gives to
me whatever I want from it."
"God has blessed you," said the old man. "It is only work that I
have known. And now I can get no more."
"I must go home," said Morley, rising and buttoning his coat. "I
stopped here only for a smoke. I hope you may find work."
"May your kindness be rewarded this night," said the old man.
"Oh," said Morley, "you have your wish already. I am satisfied. I
think good luck follows me like a dog. I am for yonder bright hotel
across the square for the night. And what a moon that is lighting
up the city to-night. I think no one enjoys the moonlight and such
little things as I do. Well, a good-night to you."
Morley walked to the corner where he would cross to his hotel. He
blew slow streams of smoke from his cigar heavenward. A policeman
passing saluted to his benign nod. What a fine moon it was.
The clock struck nine as a girl just entering womanhood stopped on
the corner waiting for the approaching car. She was hurrying as if
homeward from employment or delay. Her eyes were clear and pure, she
was dressed in simple white, she looked eagerly for the car and
neither to the right nor the left.
Morley knew her. Eight years before he had sat on the same bench with
her at school. There had been no sentiment between them--nothing but
the friendship of innocent days.
But he turned down the side street to a quiet spot and laid his
suddenly burning face against the cool iron of a lamp-post, and said
"God! I wish I could die."
THE BUYER FROM CACTUS CITY
It is well that hay fever and colds do not obtain in the healthful
vicinity of Cactus City, Texas, for the dry goods emporium of
Navarro & Platt, situated there, is not to be sneezed at.
Twenty thousand people in Cactus City scatter their silver coin with
liberal hands for the things that their hearts desire. The bulk of
this semiprecious metal goes to Navarro & Platt. Their huge brick
building covers enough ground to graze a dozen head of sheep. You
can buy of them a rattlesnake-skin necktie, an automobile or an
eighty-five dollar, latest style, ladies' tan coat in twenty
different shades. Navarro & Platt first introduced pennies west of
the Colorado River. They had been ranchmen with business heads, who
saw that the world did not necessarily have to cease its revolutions
after free grass went out.
Every Spring, Navarro, senior partner, fifty-five, half Spanish,
cosmopolitan, able, polished, had "gone on" to New York to buy
goods. This year he shied at taking up the long trail. He was
undoubtedly growing older; and he looked at his watch several times
a day before the hour came for his siesta.
"John," he said, to his junior partner, "you shall go on this year
to buy the goods."
Platt looked tired.
"I'm told," said he, "that New York is a plumb dead town; but I'll
go. I can take a whirl in San Antone for a few days on my way and
have some fun."
Two weeks later a man in a Texas full dress suit--black frock coat,
broad-brimmed soft white hat, and lay-down collar 3-4 inch high,
with black, wrought iron necktie--entered the wholesale cloak and
suit establishment of Zizzbaum & Son, on lower Broadway.
Old Zizzbaum had the eye of an osprey, the memory of an elephant and
a mind that unfolded from him in three movements like the puzzle of
the carpenter's rule. He rolled to the front like a brunette polar
bear, and shook Platt's hand.
"And how is the good Mr. Navarro in Texas?" he said. "The trip was
too long for him this year, so? We welcome Mr. Platt instead."
"A bull's eye," said Platt, "and I'd give forty acres of unirrigated
Pecos County land to know how you did it."
"I knew," grinned Zizzbaum, "just as I know that the rainfall in El
Paso for the year was 28.5 inches, or an increase of 15 inches, and
that therefore Navarro & Platt will buy a $15,000 stock of suits
this spring instead of $10,000, as in a dry year. But that will be
to-morrow. There is first a cigar in my private office that will
remove from your mouth the taste of the ones you smuggle across the
Rio Grande and like--because they are smuggled."
It was late in the afternoon and business for the day had ended,
Zizzbaum left Platt with a half-smoked cigar, and came out of the
private office to Son, who was arranging his diamond scarfpin before
a mirror, ready to leave.
"Abey," he said, "you will have to take Mr. Platt around to-night
and show him things. They are customers for ten years. Mr. Navarro
and I we played chess every moment of spare time when he came. That
is good, but Mr. Platt is a young man and this is his first visit to
New York. He should amuse easily."
"All right," said Abey, screwing the guard tightly on his pin. "I'll
take him on. After he's seen the Flatiron and the head waiter at the
Hotel Astor and heard the phonograph play 'Under the Old Apple Tree'
it'll be half past ten, and Mr. Texas will be ready to roll up in
his blanket. I've got a supper engagement at 11:30, but he'll be all
to the Mrs. Winslow before then."
The next morning at 10 Platt walked into the store ready to do
business. He had a bunch of hyacinths pinned on his lapel. Zizzbaum
himself waited on him. Navarro & Platt were good customers, and never
failed to take their discount for cash.
"And what did you think of our little town?" asked Zizzbaum, with
the fatuous smile of the Manhattanite.
"I shouldn't care to live in it," said the Texan. "Your son and I
knocked around quite a little last night. You've got good water, but
Cactus City is better lit up."
"We've got a few lights on Broadway, don't you think, Mr. Platt?"
"And a good many shadows," said Platt. "I think I like your horses
best. I haven't seen a crow-bait since I've been in town."
Zizzbaum led him up stairs to show the samples of suits.
"Ask Miss Asher to come," he said to a clerk.
Miss Asher came, and Platt, of Navarro & Platt, felt for the first
time the wonderful bright light of romance and glory descend upon
him. He stood still as a granite cliff above the cañon of the
Colorado, with his wide-open eyes fixed upon her. She noticed his
look and flushed a little, which was contrary to her custom.
Miss Asher was the crack model of Zizzbaum & Son. She was of the
blond type known as "medium," and her measurements even went
the required 38-25-42 standard a little better. She had been at
Zizzbaum's two years, and knew her business. Her eye was bright, but
cool; and had she chosen to match her gaze against the optic of the
famed basilisk, that fabulous monster's gaze would have wavered and
softened first. Incidentally, she knew buyers.
"Now, Mr. Platt," said Zizzbaum, "I want you to see these princess
gowns in the light shades. They will be the thing in your climate.
This first, if you please, Miss Asher."
Swiftly in and out of the dressing-room the prize model flew, each
time wearing a new costume and looking more stunning with every
change. She posed with absolute self-possession before the stricken
buyer, who stood, tongue-tied and motionless, while Zizzbaum orated
oilily of the styles. On the model's face was her faint, impersonal
professional smile that seemed to cover something like weariness or
When the display was over Platt seemed to hesitate. Zizzbaum was a
little anxious, thinking that his customer might be inclined to try
elsewhere. But Platt was only looking over in his mind the best
building sites in Cactus City, trying to select one on which to
build a house for his wife-to-be--who was just then in the
dressing-room taking off an evening gown of lavender and tulle.
"Take your time, Mr. Platt," said Zizzbaum. "Think it over to-night.
You won't find anybody else meet our prices on goods like these.
I'm afraid you're having a dull time in New York, Mr. Platt. A
young man like you--of course, you miss the society of the ladies.
Wouldn't you like a nice young lady to take out to dinner this
evening? Miss Asher, now, is a very nice young lady; she will make
it agreeable for you."
"Why, she doesn't know me," said Platt, wonderingly. "She doesn't
know anything about me. Would she go? I'm not acquainted with her."
"Would she go?" repeated Zizzbaum, with uplifted eyebrows. "Sure,
she would go. I will introduce you. Sure, she would go."
He called Miss Asher loudly.
She came, calm and slightly contemptuous, in her white shirt waist
and plain black skirt.
"Mr. Platt would like the pleasure of your company to dinner this
evening," said Zizzbaum, walking away.
"Sure," said Miss Asher, looking at the ceiling. "I'd be much
pleased. Nine-eleven West Twentieth street. What time?"
"Say seven o'clock."
"All right, but please don't come ahead of time. I room with a
school teacher, and she doesn't allow any gentlemen to call in the
room. There isn't any parlor, so you'll have to wait in the hall.
I'll be ready."
At half past seven Platt and Miss Asher sat at a table in a Broadway
restaurant. She was dressed in a plain, filmy black. Platt didn't
know that it was all a part of her day's work.
With the unobtrusive aid of a good waiter he managed to order a
respectable dinner, minus the usual Broadway preliminaries.
Miss Asher flashed upon him a dazzling smile.
"Mayn't I have something to drink?" she asked.
"Why, certainly," said Platt. "Anything you want."
"A dry Martini," she said to the waiter.
When it was brought and set before her Platt reached over and took
"What is this?" he asked.
"A cocktail, of course."
"I thought it was some kind of tea you ordered. This is liquor. You
can't drink this. What is your first name?"
"To my intimate friends," said Miss Asher, freezingly, "it is
"Listen, Helen," said Platt, leaning over the table. "For many years
every time the spring flowers blossomed out on the prairies I got to
thinking of somebody that I'd never seen or heard of. I knew it was
you the minute I saw you yesterday. I'm going back home to-morrow,
and you're going with me. I know it, for I saw it in your eyes when
you first looked at me. You needn't kick, for you've got to fall
into line. Here's a little trick I picked out for you on my way
He flicked a two-carat diamond solitaire ring across the table. Miss
Asher flipped it back to him with her fork.
"Don't get fresh," she said, severely.
"I'm worth a hundred thousand dollars," said Platt. "I'll build you
the finest house in West Texas."
"You can't buy me, Mr. Buyer," said Miss Asher, "if you had a
hundred million. I didn't think I'd have to call you down. You
didn't look like the others to me at first, but I see you're all
"All who?" asked Platt.
"All you buyers. You think because we girls have to go out to dinner
with you or lose our jobs that you're privileged to say what you
please. Well, forget it. I thought you were different from the
others, but I see I was mistaken."
Platt struck his fingers on the table with a gesture of sudden,
"I've got it!" he exclaimed, almost hilariously--"the Nicholson
place, over on the north side. There's a big grove of live oaks and
a natural lake. The old house can be pulled down and the new one set
"Put out your pipe," said Miss Asher. "I'm sorry to wake you up, but
you fellows might as well get wise, once for all, to where you stand.
I'm supposed to go to dinner with you and help jolly you along so
you'll trade with old Zizzy, but don't expect to find me in any of
the suits you buy."
"Do you mean to tell me," said Platt, "that you go out this way with
customers, and they all--they all talk to you like I have?"
"They all make plays," said Miss Asher. "But I must say that you've
got 'em beat in one respect. They generally talk diamonds, while
you've actually dug one up."
"How long have you been working, Helen?"
"Got my name pat, haven't you? I've been supporting myself for eight
years. I was a cash girl and a wrapper and then a shop girl until I
was grown, and then I got to be a suit model. Mr. Texas Man, don't
you think a little wine would make this dinner a little less dry?"
"You're not going to drink wine any more, dear. It's awful to think
how-- I'll come to the store to-morrow and get you. I want you to
pick out an automobile before we leave. That's all we need to buy
"Oh, cut that out. If you knew how sick I am of hearing such talk."
After the dinner they walked down Broadway and came upon Diana's
little wooded park. The trees caught Platt's eye at once, and he
must turn along under the winding walk beneath them. The lights
shone upon two bright tears in the model's eyes.
"I don't like that," said Platt. "What's the matter?"
"Don't you mind," said Miss Asher. "Well, it's because--well, I
didn't think you were that kind when I first saw you. But you are
all like. And now will you take me home, or will I have to call a
Platt took her to the door of her boarding-house. They stood for a
minute in the vestibule. She looked at him with such scorn in her
eyes that even his heart of oak began to waver. His arm was half way
around her waist, when she struck him a stinging blow on the face
with her open hand.
As he stepped back a ring fell from somewhere and bounded on the
tiled floor. Platt groped for it and found it.
"Now, take your useless diamond and go, Mr. Buyer," she said.
"This was the other one--the wedding ring," said the Texan, holding
the smooth gold band on the palm of his hand.
Miss Asher's eyes blazed upon him in the half darkness.
"Was that what you meant?--did you"--
Somebody opened the door from inside the house.
"Good-night," said Platt. "I'll see you at the store to-morrow."
Miss Asher ran up to her room and shook the school teacher until she
sat up in bed ready to scream "Fire!"
"Where is it?" she cried.
"That's what I want to know," said the model. "You've studied
geography, Emma, and you ought to know. Where is a town called
Cac--Cac--Carac--Caracas City, I think, they called it?"
"How dare you wake me up for that?" said the school teacher.
"Caracas is in Venezuela, of course."
"What's it like?"
"Why, it's principally earthquakes and negroes and monkeys and
malarial fever and volcanoes."
"I don't care," said Miss Asher, blithely; "I'm going there
THE BADGE OF POLICEMAN O'ROON
It cannot be denied that men and women have looked upon one another
for the first time and become instantly enamored. It is a risky
process, this love at first sight, before she has seen him in
Bradstreet or he has seen her in curl papers. But these things do
happen; and one instance must form a theme for this story--though
not, thank Heaven, to the overshadowing of more vital and important
subjects, such as drink, policemen, horses and earldoms.
During a certain war a troop calling itself the Gentle Riders rode
into history and one or two ambuscades. The Gentle Riders were
recruited from the aristocracy of the wild men of the West and the
wild men of the aristocracy of the East. In khaki there is little
telling them one from another, so they became good friends and
comrades all around.
Ellsworth Remsen, whose old Knickerbocker descent atoned for his
modest rating at only ten millions, ate his canned beef gayly by the
campfires of the Gentle Riders. The war was a great lark to him, so
that he scarcely regretted polo and planked shad.
One of the troopers was a well set up, affable, cool young man, who
called himself O'Roon. To this young man Remsen took an especial
liking. The two rode side by side during the famous mooted up-hill
charge that was disputed so hotly at the time by the Spaniards and
afterward by the Democrats.
After the war Remsen came back to his polo and shad. One day a well
set up, affable, cool young man disturbed him at his club, and he
and O'Roon were soon pounding each other and exchanging opprobrious
epithets after the manner of long-lost friends. O'Roon looked seedy
and out of luck and perfectly contented. But it seemed that his
content was only apparent.
"Get me a job, Remsen," he said. "I've just handed a barber my last
"No trouble at all," said Remsen. "I know a lot of men who have
banks and stores and things downtown. Any particular line you
"Yes," said O'Roon, with a look of interest. "I took a walk in your
Central Park this morning. I'd like to be one of those bobbies on
horseback. That would be about the ticket. Besides, it's the only
thing I could do. I can ride a little and the fresh air suits me.
Think you could land that for me?"
Remsen was sure that he could. And in a very short time he did. And
they who were not above looking at mounted policemen might have seen
a well set up, affable, cool young man on a prancing chestnut steed
attending to his duties along the driveways of the park.
And now at the extreme risk of wearying old gentlemen who carry
leather fob chains, and elderly ladies who--but no! grandmother
herself yet thrills at foolish, immortal Romeo--there must be a hint
of love at first sight.
It came just as Remsen was strolling into Fifth avenue from his club
a few doors away.
A motor car was creeping along foot by foot, impeded by a freshet
of vehicles that filled the street. In the car was a chauffeur and
an old gentleman with snowy side whiskers and a Scotch plaid cap
which could not be worn while automobiling except by a personage.
Not even a wine agent would dare do it. But these two were of no
consequence--except, perhaps, for the guiding of the machine and
the paying for it. At the old gentleman's side sat a young lady
more beautiful than pomegranate blossoms, more exquisite than the
first quarter moon viewed at twilight through the tops of oleanders.
Remsen saw her and knew his fate. He could have flung himself under
the very wheels that conveyed her, but he knew that would be the last
means of attracting the attention of those who ride in motor cars.
Slowly the auto passed, and, if we place the poets above the autoists,
carried the heart of Remsen with it. Here was a large city of
millions, and many women who at a certain distance appear to resemble
pomegranate blossoms. Yet he hoped to see her again; for each one
fancies that his romance has its own tutelary guardian and divinity.
Luckily for Remsen's peace of mind there came a diversion in the
guise of a reunion of the Gentle Riders of the city. There were
not many of them--perhaps a score--and there was wassail and
things to eat, and speeches and the Spaniard was bearded again in
recapitulation. And when daylight threatened them the survivors
prepared to depart. But some remained upon the battlefield. One of
these was Trooper O'Roon, who was not seasoned to potent liquids.
His legs declined to fulfil the obligations they had sworn to the
"I'm stewed, Remsen," said O'Roon to his friend. "Why do they
build hotels that go round and round like catherine wheels?
They'll take away my shield and break me. I can think and talk
con-con-consec-sec-secutively, but I s-s-stammer with my feet. I've
got to go on duty in three hours. The jig is up, Remsen. The jig is
up, I tell you."
"Look at me," said Remsen, who was his smiling self, pointing to his
own face; "whom do you see here?"
"Goo' fellow," said O'Roon, dizzily, "Goo' old Remsen."
"Not so," said Remsen. "You see Mounted Policeman O'Roon. Look at
your face--no; you can't do that without a glass--but look at mine,
and think of yours. How much alike are we? As two French "table
d'hote" dinners. With your badge, on your horse, in your uniform,
will I charm nurse-maids and prevent the grass from growing under
people's feet in the Park this day. I will have your badge and your
honor, besides having the jolliest lark I've been blessed with since
we licked Spain."
Promptly on time the counterfeit presentment of Mounted Policeman
O'Roon single-footed into the Park on his chestnut steed. In a
uniform two men who are unlike will look alike; two who somewhat
resemble each other in feature and figure will appear as twin
brothers. So Remsen trotted down the bridle paths, enjoying himself
hugely, so few real pleasures do ten-millionaires have.
Along the driveway in the early morning spun a victoria drawn by a
pair of fiery bays. There was something foreign about the affair,
for the Park is rarely used in the morning except by unimportant
people who love to be healthy, poor and wise. In the vehicle sat an
old gentleman with snowy side-whiskers and a Scotch plaid cap which
could not be worn while driving except by a personage. At his side
sat the lady of Remsen's heart--the lady who looked like pomegranate
blossoms and the gibbous moon.
Remsen met them coming. At the instant of their passing her eyes
looked into his, and but for the ever coward's heart of a true lover
he could have sworn that she flushed a faint pink. He trotted on for
twenty yards, and then wheeled his horse at the sound of runaway
hoofs. The bays had bolted.
Remsen sent his chestnut after the victoria like a shot. There was
work cut out for the impersonator of Policeman O'Roon. The chestnut
ranged alongside the off bay thirty seconds after the chase began,
rolled his eye back at Remsen, and said in the only manner open to
"Well, you duffer, are you going to do your share? You're not
O'Roon, but it seems to me if you'd lean to the right you could
reach the reins of that foolish slow-running bay--ah! you're all
right; O'Roon couldn't have done it more neatly!"
The runaway team was tugged to an inglorious halt by Remsen's
tough muscles. The driver released his hands from the wrapped
reins, jumped from his seat and stood at the heads of the team.
The chestnut, approving his new rider, danced and pranced, reviling
equinely the subdued bays. Remsen, lingering, was dimly conscious of
a vague, impossible, unnecessary old gentleman in a Scotch cap who
talked incessantly about something. And he was acutely conscious of
a pair of violet eyes that would have drawn Saint Pyrites from his
iron pillar--or whatever the allusion is--and of the lady's smile
and look--a little frightened, but a look that, with the ever coward
heart of a true lover, he could not yet construe. They were asking
his name and bestowing upon him wellbred thanks for his heroic deed,
and the Scotch cap was especially babbling and insistent. But the
eloquent appeal was in the eyes of the lady.
A little thrill of satisfaction ran through Remsen, because he had a
name to give which, without undue pride, was worthy of being spoken
in high places, and a small fortune which, with due pride, he could
leave at his end without disgrace.
He opened his lips to speak and closed them again.
Who was he? Mounted Policeman O'Roon. The badge and the honor of
his comrade were in his hands. If Ellsworth Remsen, ten-millionaire
and Knickerbocker, had just rescued pomegranate blossoms and Scotch
cap from possible death, where was Policeman O'Roon? Off his beat,
exposed, disgraced, discharged. Love had come, but before that there
had been something that demanded precedence--the fellowship of men
on battlefields fighting an alien foe.
Remsen touched his cap, looked between the chestnut's ears, and took
refuge in vernacularity.
"Don't mention it," he said stolidly. "We policemen are paid to do
these things. It's our duty."
And he rode away--rode away cursing "noblesse oblige", but knowing he
could never have done anything else.
At the end of the day Remsen sent the chestnut to his stable and
went to O'Roon's room. The policeman was again a well set up,
affable, cool young man who sat by the window smoking cigars.
"I wish you and the rest of the police force and all badges, horses,
brass buttons and men who can't drink two glasses of "brut" without
getting upset were at the devil," said Remsen feelingly.
O'Roon smiled with evident satisfaction.
"Good old Remsen," he said, affably, "I know all about it. They
trailed me down and cornered me here two hours ago. There was a
little row at home, you know, and I cut sticks just to show them. I
don't believe I told you that my Governor was the Earl of Ardsley.
Funny you should bob against them in the Park. If you damaged that
horse of mine I'll never forgive you. I'm going to buy him and take
him back with me. Oh, yes, and I think my sister--Lady Angela, you
know--wants particularly for you to come up to the hotel with me
this evening. Didn't lose my badge, did you, Remsen? I've got to
turn that in at Headquarters when I resign."
Blinker was displeased. A man of less culture and poise and wealth
would have sworn. But Blinker always remembered that he was a
gentleman--a thing that no gentleman should do. So he merely looked
bored and sardonic while he rode in a hansom to the center of
disturbance, which was the Broadway office of Lawyer Oldport, who
was agent for the Blinker estate.
"I don't see," said Blinker, "why I should be always signing
confounded papers. I am packed, and was to have left for the North
Woods this morning. Now I must wait until to-morrow morning. I hate
night trains. My best razors are, of course, at the bottom of some
unidentifiable trunk. It is a plot to drive me to bay rum and a
monologueing, thumb-handed barber. Give me a pen that doesn't
scratch. I hate pens that scratch."
"Sit down," said double-chinned, gray Lawyer Oldport. "The worst has
not been told you. Oh, the hardships of the rich! The papers are not
yet ready to sign. They will be laid before you to-morrow at eleven.
You will miss another day. Twice shall the barber tweak the helpless
nose of a Blinker. Be thankful that your sorrows do not embrace a
"If," said Blinker, rising, "the act did not involve more signing of
papers I would take my business out of your hands at once. Give me a
"If," said Lawyer Oldport, "I had cared to see an old friend's son
gulped down at one mouthful by sharks I would have ordered you to
take it away long ago. Now, let's quit fooling, Alexander. Besides
the grinding task of signing your name some thirty times to-morrow,
I must impose upon you the consideration of a matter of business--of
business, and I may say humanity or right. I spoke to you about
this five years ago, but you would not listen--you were in a hurry
for a coaching trip, I think. The subject has come up again. The
"Oh, property!" interrupted Blinker. "Dear Mr. Oldport, I
think you mentioned to-morrow. Let's have it all at one dose
to-morrow--signatures and property and snappy rubber bands and that
smelly sealing-wax and all. Have luncheon with me? Well, I'll try
to remember to drop in at eleven to-morrow. Morning."
The Blinker wealth was in lands, tenements and hereditaments, as the
legal phrase goes. Lawyer Oldport had once taken Alexander in his
little pulmonary gasoline runabout to see the many buildings and
rows of buildings that he owned in the city. For Alexander was
sole heir. They had amused Blinker very much. The houses looked so
incapable of producing the big sums of money that Lawyer Oldport
kept piling up in banks for him to spend.
In the evening Blinker went to one of his clubs, intending to dine.
Nobody was there except some old fogies playing whist who spoke to
him with grave politeness and glared at him with savage contempt.
Everybody was out of town. But here he was kept in like a schoolboy
to write his name over and over on pieces of paper. His wounds were
Blinker turned his back on the fogies, and said to the club steward
who had come forward with some nonsense about cold fresh salmon roe:
"Symons, I'm going to Coney Island." He said it as one might say:
"All's off; I'm going to jump into the river."
The joke pleased Symons. He laughed within a sixteenth of a note of
the audibility permitted by the laws governing employees.
"Certainly, sir," he tittered. "Of course, sir, I think I can see
you at Coney, Mr. Blinker."
Blinker got a pager and looked up the movements of Sunday
steamboats. Then he found a cab at the first corner and drove to a
North River pier. He stood in line, as democratic as you or I, and
bought a ticket, and was trampled upon and shoved forward until,
at last, he found himself on the upper deck of the boat staring
brazenly at a girl who sat alone upon a camp stool. But Blinker did
not intend to be brazen; the girl was so wonderfully good looking
that he forgot for one minute that he was the prince incog, and
behaved just as he did in society.
She was looking at him, too, and not severely. A puff of wind
threatened Blinker's straw hat. He caught it warily and settled it
again. The movement gave the effect of a bow. The girl nodded and
smiled, and in another instant he was seated at her side. She was
dressed all in white, she was paler than Blinker imagined milkmaids
and girls of humble stations to be, but she was as tidy as a cherry
blossom, and her steady, supremely frank gray eyes looked out from
the intrepid depths of an unshadowed and untroubled soul.
"How dare you raise your hat to me?" she asked, with a smile-redeemed
"I didn't," Blinker said, but he quickly covered the mistake by
extending it to "I didn't know how to keep from it after I saw you."
"I do not allow gentlemen to sit by me to whom I have not been
introduced," she said, with a sudden haughtiness that deceived him.
He rose reluctantly, but her clear, teasing laugh brought him down
to his chair again.
"I guess you weren't going far," she declared, with beauty's
"Are you going to Coney Island?" asked Blinker.
"Me?" She turned upon him wide-open eyes full of bantering surprise.
"Why, what a question! Can't you see that I'm riding a bicycle in
the park?" Her drollery took the form of impertinence.
"And I am laying brick on a tall factory chimney," said Blinker.
"Mayn't we see Coney together? I'm all alone and I've never been
there before." "It depends," said the girl, "on how nicely you
behave. I'll consider your application until we get there."
Blinker took pains to provide against the rejection of his
application. He strove to please. To adopt the metaphor of his
nonsensical phrase, he laid brick upon brick on the tall chimney of
his devoirs until, at length, the structure was stable and complete.
The manners of the best society come around finally to simplicity;
and as the girl's way was that naturally, they were on a mutual
plane of communication from the beginning.
He learned that she was twenty, and her name was Florence; that she
trimmed hats in a millinery shop; that she lived in a furnished room
with her best chum Ella, who was cashier in a shoe store; and that
a glass of milk from the bottle on the window-sill and an egg that
boils itself while you twist up your hair makes a breakfast good
enough for any one. Florence laughed when she heard "Blinker."
"Well," she said. "It certainly shows that you have imagination. It
gives the 'Smiths' a chance for a little rest, anyhow."
They landed at Coney, and were dashed on the crest of a great human
wave of mad pleasure-seekers into the walks and avenues of Fairyland
gone into vaudeville.
With a curious eye, a critical mind and a fairly withheld judgment
Blinker considered the temples, pagodas and kiosks of popularized
delights. Hoi polloi trampled, hustled and crowded him. Basket
parties bumped him; sticky children tumbled, howling, under his
feet, candying his clothes. Insolent youths strolling among the
booths with hard-won canes under one arm and easily won girls on
the other, blew defiant smoke from cheap cigars into his face. The
publicity gentlemen with megaphones, each before his own stupendous
attraction, roared like Niagara in his ears. Music of all kinds that
could be tortured from brass, reed, hide or string, fought in the
air to gain space for its vibrations against its competitors. But
what held Blinker in awful fascination was the mob, the multitude,
the proletariat shrieking, struggling, hurrying, panting, hurling
itself in incontinent frenzy, with unabashed abandon, into the
ridiculous sham palaces of trumpery and tinsel pleasures, The
vulgarity of it, its brutal overriding of all the tenets of
repression and taste that were held by his caste, repelled him
In the midst of his disgust he turned and looked down at Florence
by his side. She was ready with her quick smile and upturned, happy
eyes, as bright and clear as the water in trout pools. The eyes were
saying that they had the right to be shining and happy, for was
their owner not with her (for the present) Man, her Gentleman Friend
and holder of the keys to the enchanted city of fun?
Blinker did not read her look accurately, but by some miracle he
suddenly saw Coney aright.
He no longer saw a mass of vulgarians seeking gross joys. He now
looked clearly upon a hundred thousand true idealists. Their
offenses were wiped out. Counterfeit and false though the garish
joys of these spangled temples were, he perceived that deep
under the gilt surface they offered saving and apposite balm and
satisfaction to the restless human heart. Here, at least, was the
husk of Romance, the empty but shining casque of Chivalry, the
breath-catching though safe-guarded dip and flight of Adventure, the
magic carpet that transports you to the realms of fairyland, though
its journey be through but a few poor yards of space. He no longer
saw a rabble, but his brothers seeking the ideal. There was no magic
of poesy here or of art; but the glamour of their imagination turned
yellow calico into cloth of gold and the megaphones into the silver
trumpets of joy's heralds.
Almost humbled, Blinker rolled up the shirt sleeves of his mind and
joined the idealists.
"You are the lady doctor," he said to Florence. "How shall we go
about doing this jolly conglomeration of fairy tales, incorporated?"
"We will begin there," said the Princess, pointing to a fun pagoda
on the edge of the sea, "and we will take them all in, one by one."
They caught the eight o'clock returning boat and sat, filled with
pleasant fatigue, against the rail in the bow, listening to the
Italians' fiddle and harp. Blinker had thrown off all care. The
North Woods seemed to him an uninhabitable wilderness. What a fuss
he had made over signing his name--pooh! he could sign it a hundred
times. And her name was as pretty as she was--"Florence," he said it
to himself a great many times.
As the boat was nearing its pier in the North River a two-funnelled,
drab, foreign-looking sea-going steamer was dropping down toward the
bay. The boat turned its nose in toward its slip. The steamer veered
as if to seek midstream, and then yawed, seemed to increase its
speed and struck the Coney boat on the side near the stern, cutting
into it with a terrifying shock and crash.
While the six hundred passengers on the boat were mostly tumbling
about the decks in a shrieking panic the captain was shouting at the
steamer that it should not back off and leave the rent exposed for
the water to enter. But the steamer tore its way out like a savage
sawfish and cleaved its heartless way, full speed ahead.
The boat began to sink at its stern, but moved slowly toward the
slip. The passengers were a frantic mob, unpleasant to behold.
Blinker held Florence tightly until the boat had righted itself.
She made no sound or sign of fear. He stood on a camp stool, ripped
off the slats above his head and pulled down a number of the life
preservers. He began to buckle one around Florence. The rotten
canvas split and the fraudulent granulated cork came pouring out in
a stream. Florence caught a handful of it and laughed gleefully.
"It looks like breakfast food," she said. "Take it off. They're no
She unbuckled it and threw it on the deck. She made Blinker sit down
and sat by his side and put her hand in his. "What'll you bet we
don't reach the pier all right?" she said and began to hum a song.
And now the captain moved among the passengers and compelled order.
The boat would undoubtedly make her slip, he said, and ordered the
women and children to the bow, where they could land first. The
boat, very low in the water at the stern, tried gallantly to make
his promise good.
"Florence," said Blinker, as she held him close by an arm and hand,
"I love you."
"That's what they all say," she replied, lightly.
"I am not one of 'they all,'" he persisted. "I never knew any one I
could love before. I could pass my life with you and be happy every
day. I am rich. I can make things all right for you."
"That's what they all say," said the girl again, weaving the words
into her little, reckless song.
"Don't say that again," said Blinker in a tone that made her look at
him in frank surprise.
"Why shouldn't I say it?" she asked calmly. "They all do."
"Who are 'they'?" he asked, jealous for the first time in his
"Why, the fellows I know."
"Do you know so many?"
"Oh, well, I'm not a wall flower," she answered with modest
"Where do you see these--these men? At your home?"
"Of course not. I meet them just as I did you. Sometimes on the
boat, sometimes in the park, sometimes on the street. I'm a pretty
good judge of a man. I can tell in a minute if a fellow is one who
is likely to get fresh."
"What do you mean by 'fresh?'"
"Why, try to kiss you--me, I mean."
"Do any of them try that?" asked Blinker, clenching his teeth.
"Sure. All men do. You know that."
"Do you allow them?"
"Some. Not many. They won't take you out anywhere unless you do."
She turned her head and looked searchingly at Blinker. Her eyes
were as innocent as a child's. There was a puzzled look in them,
as though she did not understand him.
"What's wrong about my meeting fellows?" she asked, wonderingly.
"Everything," he answered, almost savagely. "Why don't you entertain
your company in the house where you live? Is it necessary to pick up
Tom, Dick and Harry on the streets?"
She kept her absolutely ingenuous eyes upon his. "If you could see
the place where I live you wouldn't ask that. I live in Brickdust
Row. They call it that because there's red dust from the bricks
crumbling over everything. I've lived there for more than four
years. There's no place to receive company. You can't have anybody
come to your room. What else is there to do? A girl has got to meet
the men, hasn't she?"
"Yes," he said, hoarsely. "A girl has got to meet a--has got to meet
"The first time one spoke to me on the street," she continued, "I
ran home and cried all night. But you get used to it. I meet a good
many nice fellows at church. I go on rainy days and stand in the
vestibule until one comes up with an umbrella. I wish there was a
parlor, so I could ask you to call, Mr. Blinker--are you really sure
it isn't 'Smith,' now?"
The boat landed safely. Blinker had a confused impression of walking
with the girl through quiet crosstown streets until she stopped at a
corner and held out her hand.
"I live just one more block over," she said. "Thank you for a very
Blinker muttered something and plunged northward till he found a
cab. A big, gray church loomed slowly at his right. Blinker shook
his fist at it through the window.
"I gave you a thousand dollars last, week," he cried under his
breath, "and she meets them in your very doors. There is something
wrong; there is something wrong."
At eleven the next day Blinker signed his name thirty times with a
new pen provided by Lawyer Oldport.
"Now let me go to the woods," he said surlily.
"You are not looking well," said Lawyer Oldport. "The trip will do
you good. But listen, if you will, to that little matter of business
of which I spoke to you yesterday, and also five years ago. There
are some buildings, fifteen in number, of which there are new
five-year leases to be signed. Your father contemplated a change in
the lease provisions, but never made it. He intended that the parlors
of these houses should not be sub-let, but that the tenants should be
allowed to use them for reception rooms. These houses are in the
shopping district, and are mainly tenanted by young working girls.
As it is they are forced to seek companionship outside. This row of
Blinker interrupted him with a loud, discordant laugh.
"Brickdust Row for an even hundred," he cried. "And I own it. Have I
"The tenants have some such name for it," said Lawyer Oldport.
Blinker arose and jammed his hat down to his eyes.
"Do what you please with it," he said harshly. "Remodel it, burn it,
raze it to the ground. But, man, it's too late I tell you. It's too
late. It's too late. It's too late."
THE MAKING OF A NEW YORKER
Besides many other things, Raggles was a poet. He was called a
tramp; but that was only an elliptical way of saying that he was a
philosopher, an artist, a traveller, a naturalist and a discoverer.
But most of all he was a poet. In all his life he never wrote a
line of verse; he lived his poetry. His Odyssey would have been
a Limerick, had it been written. But, to linger with the primary
proposition, Raggles was a poet.
Raggles's specialty, had he been driven to ink and paper, would have
been sonnets to the cities. He studied cities as women study their
reflections in mirrors; as children study the glue and sawdust of a
dislocated doll; as the men who write about wild animals study the
cages in the zoo. A city to Raggles was not merely a pile of bricks
and mortar, peopled by a certain number of inhabitants; it was
a thing with a soul characteristic and distinct; an individual
conglomeration of life, with its own peculiar essence, flavor and
feeling. Two thousand miles to the north and south, east and west,
Raggles wandered in poetic fervor, taking the cities to his breast.
He footed it on dusty roads, or sped magnificently in freight cars,
counting time as of no account. And when he had found the heart of a
city and listened to its secret confession, he strayed on, restless,
to another. Fickle Raggles!--but perhaps he had not met the civic
corporation that could engage and hold his critical fancy.
Through the ancient poets we have learned that the cities are
feminine. So they were to poet Raggles; and his mind carried a
concrete and clear conception of the figure that symbolized and
typified each one that he had wooed.
Chicago seemed to swoop down upon him with a breezy suggestion of
Mrs. Partington, plumes and patchouli, and to disturb his rest with
a soaring and beautiful song of future promise. But Raggles would
awake to a sense of shivering cold and a haunting impression of
ideals lost in a depressing aura of potato salad and fish.
Thus Chicago affected him. Perhaps there is a vagueness and
inaccuracy in the description; but that is Raggles's fault. He
should have recorded his sensations in magazine poems.
Pittsburg impressed him as the play of "Othello" performed in the
Russian language in a railroad station by Dockstader's minstrels.
A royal and generous lady this Pittsburg, though--homely, hearty,
with flushed face, washing the dishes in a silk dress and white kid
slippers, and bidding Raggles sit before the roaring fireplace and
drink champagne with his pigs' feet and fried potatoes.
New Orleans had simply gazed down upon him from a balcony. He could
see her pensive, starry eyes and catch the flutter of her fan, and
that was all. Only once he came face to face with her. It was at
dawn, when she was flushing the red bricks of the banquette with
a pail of water. She laughed and hummed a chansonette and filled
Raggles's shoes with ice-cold water. Allons!
Boston construed herself to the poetic Raggles in an erratic and
singular way. It seemed to him that he had drunk cold tea and that
the city was a white, cold cloth that had been bound tightly around
his brow to spur him to some unknown but tremendous mental effort.
And, after all, he came to shovel snow for a livelihood; and the
cloth, becoming wet, tightened its knots and could not be removed.
Indefinite and unintelligible ideas, you will say; but your
disapprobation should be tempered with gratitude, for these are
poets' fancies--and suppose you had come upon them in verse!
One day Raggles came and laid siege to the heart of the great city
of Manhattan. She was the greatest of all; and he wanted to learn
her note in the scale; to taste and appraise and classify and solve
and label her and arrange her with the other cities that had given
him up the secret of their individuality. And here we cease to be
Raggles's translator and become his chronicler.
Raggles landed from a ferry-boat one morning and walked into the
core of the town with the blasé air of a cosmopolite. He was dressed
with care to play the rôle of an "unidentified man." No country,
race, class, clique, union, party clan or bowling association could
have claimed him. His clothing, which had been donated to him
piece-meal by citizens of different height, but same number of inches
around the heart, was not yet as uncomfortable to his figure as
those speciments of raiment, self-measured, that are railroaded to
you by transcontinental tailors with a suit case, suspenders, silk
handkerchief and pearl studs as a bonus. Without money--as a poet
should be--but with the ardor of an astronomer discovering a new
star in the chorus of the milky way, or a man who has seen ink
suddenly flow from his fountain pen, Raggles wandered into the great
Late in the afternoon he drew out of the roar and commotion
with a look of dumb terror on his countenance. He was defeated,
puzzled, discomfited, frightened. Other cities had been to him
as long primer to read; as country maidens quickly to fathom; as
send-price-of-subscription-with-answer rebuses to solve; as oyster
cocktails to swallow; but here was one as cold, glittering, serene,
impossible as a four-carat diamond in a window to a lover outside
fingering damply in his pocket his ribbon-counter salary.
The greetings of the other cities he had known--their homespun
kindliness, their human gamut of rough charity, friendly curses,
garrulous curiosity and easily estimated credulity or indifference.
This city of Manhattan gave him no clue; it was walled against him.
Like a river of adamant it flowed past him in the streets. Never an
eye was turned upon him; no voice spoke to him. His heart yearned
for the clap of Pittsburg's sooty hand on his shoulder; for
Chicago's menacing but social yawp in his ear; for the pale and
eleemosynary stare through the Bostonian eyeglass--even for the
precipitate but unmalicious boot-toe of Louisville or St. Louis.
On Broadway Raggles, successful suitor of many cities, stood,
bashful, like any country swain. For the first time he experienced
the poignant humiliation of being ignored. And when he tried to
reduce this brilliant, swiftly changing, ice-cold city to a formula
he failed utterly. Poet though he was, it offered him no color
similes, no points of comparison, no flaw in its polished facets,
no handle by which he could hold it up and view its shape and
structure, as he familiarly and often contemptuously had done with
other towns. The houses were interminable ramparts loopholed for
defense; the people were bright but bloodless spectres passing in
sinister and selfish array.
The thing that weighed heaviest on Raggles's soul and clogged his
poet's fancy was the spirit of absolute egotism that seemed to
saturate the people as toys are saturated with paint. Each one that
he considered appeared a monster of abominable and insolent conceit.
Humanity was gone from them; they were toddling idols of stone and
varnish, worshipping themselves and greedy for though oblivious of
worship from their fellow graven images. Frozen, cruel, implacable,
impervious, cut to an identical pattern, they hurried on their ways
like statues brought by some miracles to motion, while soul and
feeling lay unaroused in the reluctant marble.
Gradually Raggles became conscious of certain types. One was an
elderly gentleman with a snow-white, short beard, pink, unwrinkled
face and stony, sharp blue eyes, attired in the fashion of a gilded
youth, who seemed to personify the city's wealth, ripeness and
frigid unconcern. Another type was a woman, tall, beautiful,
clear as a steel engraving, goddess-like, calm, clothed like the
princesses of old, with eyes as coldly blue as the reflection of
sunlight on a glacier. And another was a by-product of this town of
marionettes--a broad, swaggering, grim, threateningly sedate fellow,
with a jowl as large as a harvested wheat field, the complexion of
a baptized infant and the knuckles of a prize-fighter. This type
leaned against cigar signs and viewed the world with frappéd
A poet is a sensitive creature, and Raggles soon shrivelled in
the bleak embrace of the undecipherable. The chill, sphinx-like,
ironical, illegible, unnatural, ruthless expression of the city left
him downcast and bewildered. Had it no heart? Better the woodpile,
the scolding of vinegar-faced housewives at back doors, the kindly
spleen of bartenders behind provincial free-lunch counters, the
amiable truculence of rural constables, the kicks, arrests and
happy-go-lucky chances of the other vulgar, loud, crude cities than
this freezing heartlessness.
Raggles summoned his courage and sought alms from the populace.
Unheeding, regardless, they passed on without the wink of an eyelash
to testify that they were conscious of his existence. And then he
said to himself that this fair but pitiless city of Manhattan was
without a soul; that its inhabitants were manikins moved by wires
and springs, and that he was alone in a great wilderness.
Raggles started to cross the street. There was a blast, a roar, a
hissing and a crash as something struck him and hurled him over and
over six yards from where he had been. As he was coming down like
the stick of a rocket the earth and all the cities thereof turned to
a fractured dream.
Raggles opened his eyes. First an odor made itself known to him--an
odor of the earliest spring flowers of Paradise. And then a hand
soft as a falling petal touched his brow. Bending over him was the
woman clothed like the princess of old, with blue eyes, now soft and
humid with human sympathy. Under his head on the pavement were silks
and furs. With Raggles's hat in his hand and with his face pinker
than ever from a vehement burst of oratory against reckless driving,
stood the elderly gentleman who personified the city's wealth and
ripeness. From a nearby café hurried the by-product with the vast
jowl and baby complexion, bearing a glass full of a crimson fluid
that suggested delightful possibilities.
"Drink dis, sport," said the by-product, holding the glass to
Hundreds of people huddled around in a moment, their faces wearing
the deepest concern. Two flattering and gorgeous policemen got into
the circle and pressed back the overplus of Samaritans. An old lady
in a black shawl spoke loudly of camphor; a newsboy slipped one
of his papers beneath Raggles's elbow, where it lay on the muddy
pavement. A brisk young man with a notebook was asking for names.
A bell clanged importantly, and the ambulance cleaned a lane through
the crowd. A cool surgeon slipped into the midst of affairs.
"How do you feel, old man?" asked the surgeon, stooping easily to
his task. The princess of silks and satins wiped a red drop or two
from Raggles's brow with a fragrant cobweb.
"Me?" said Raggles, with a seraphic smile, "I feel fine."
He had found the heart of his new city.
In three days they let him leave his cot for the convalescent ward
in the hospital. He had been in there an hour when the attendants
heard sounds of conflict. Upon investigation they found that Raggles
had assaulted and damaged a brother convalescent--a glowering
transient whom a freight train collision had sent in to be patched
"What's all this about?" inquired the head nurse.
"He was runnin' down me town," said Raggles.
"What town?" asked the nurse.
"Noo York," said Raggles.
VANITY AND SOME SABLES
When "Kid" Brady was sent to the rope by Molly McKeever's blue-black
eyes he withdrew from the Stovepipe Gang. So much for the power of
a colleen's blanderin' tongue and stubborn true-heartedness. If you
are a man who read this, may such an influence be sent you before 2
o'clock to-morrow; if you are a woman, may your Pomeranian greet you
this morning with a cold nose--a sign of doghealth and your
The Stovepipe Gang borrowed its name from a sub-district of the city
called the "Stovepipe," which is a narrow and natural extension of
the familiar district known as "Hell's Kitchen." The "Stovepipe"
strip of town runs along Eleventh and Twelfth avenues on the river,
and bends a hard and sooty elbow around little, lost homeless DeWitt
Clinton park. Consider that a stovepipe is an important factor in
any kitchen and the situation is analyzed. The chefs in "Hell's
Kitchen" are many, and the "Stovepipe" gang, wears the cordon blue.
The members of this unchartered but widely known brotherhood
appeared to pass their time on street corners arrayed like the
lilies of the conservatory and busy with nail files and penknives.
Thus displayed as a guarantee of good faith, they carried on an
innocuous conversation in a 200-word vocabulary, to the casual
observer as innocent and immaterial as that heard in clubs seven
blocks to the east.
But off exhibition the "Stovepipes" were not mere street corner
ornaments addicted to posing and manicuring. Their serious
occupation was the separating of citizens from their coin and
valuables. Preferably this was done by weird and singular tricks
without noise or bloodshed; but whenever the citizen honored by
their attentions refused to impoverish himself gracefully his
objections came to be spread finally upon some police station
blotter or hospital register.
The police held the "Stovepipe" gang in perpetual suspicion and
respect. As the nightingale's liquid note is heard in the deepest
shadows, so along the "Stovepipe's" dark and narrow confines the
whistle for reserves punctures the dull ear of night. Whenever there
was smoke in the "stovepipe" the tasselled men in blue knew there
was fire in "Hell's Kitchen."
"Kid" Brady promised Molly to be good. "Kid" was the vainest, the
strongest, the wariest and the most successful plotter in the gang.
Therefore, the boys were sorry to give him up.
But they witnessed his fall to a virtuous life without protest.
For, in the Kitchen it is considered neither unmanly nor improper
for a guy to do as his girl advises.
Black her eye for love's sake, if you will; but it is
all-to-the-good business to do a thing when she wants you to do it.
"Turn off the hydrant," said the Kid, one night when Molly, tearful,
besought him to amend his ways. "I'm going to cut out the gang. You
for mine, and the simple life on the side. I'll tell you, Moll--I'll
get work; and in a year we'll get married. I'll do it for you. We'll
get a flat and a flute, and a sewing machine and a rubber plant and
live as honest as we can."
"Oh, Kid," sighed Molly, wiping the powder off his shoulder with her
handkerchief, "I'd rather hear you say that than to own all of New
York. And we can be happy on so little!"
The Kid looked down at his speckless cuffs and shining patent
leathers with a suspicion of melancholy.
"It'll hurt hardest in the rags department," said he. "I've kind
of always liked to rig out swell when I could. You know how I hate
cheap things, Moll. This suit set me back sixty-five. Anything in
the wearing apparel line has got to be just so, or it's to the
misfit parlors for it, for mine. If I work I won't have so much coin
to hand over to the little man with the big shears."
"Never mind, Kid. I'll like you just as much in a blue jumper as I
would in a red automobile."
Before the Kid had grown large enough to knock out his father he
had been compelled to learn the plumber's art. So now back to this
honorable and useful profession he returned. But it was as an
assistant that he engaged himself; and it is the master plumber and
not the assistant, who wears diamonds as large as hailstones and
looks contemptuously upon the marble colonnades of Senator Clark's
Eight months went by as smoothly and surely as though they had
"elapsed" on a theater program. The Kid worked away at his pipes and
solder with no symptoms of backsliding. The Stovepipe gang continued
its piracy on the high avenues, cracked policemen's heads, held up
late travelers, invented new methods of peaceful plundering, copied
Fifth avenue's cut of clothes and neckwear fancies and comported
itself according to its lawless bylaws. But the Kid stood firm and
faithful to his Molly, even though the polish was gone from his
fingernails and it took him 15 minutes to tie his purple silk ascot
so that the worn places would not show.
One evening he brought a mysterious bundle with him to Molly's
"Open that, Moll!" he said in his large, quiet way. "It's for you."
Molly's eager fingers tore off the wrappings. She shrieked aloud,
and in rushed a sprinkling of little McKeevers, and Ma McKeever,
dishwashy, but an undeniable relative of the late Mrs. Eve.
Again Molly shrieked, and something dark and long and sinuous flew
and enveloped her neck like an anaconda.
"Russian sables," said the Kid, pridefully, enjoying the sight of
Molly's round cheek against the clinging fur. "The real thing. They
don't grow anything in Russia too good for you, Moll."
Molly plunged her hands into the muff, overturned a row of the
family infants and flew to the mirror. Hint for the beauty column.
To make bright eyes, rosy checks and a bewitching smile: Recipe--one
set Russian sables. Apply.
When they were alone Molly became aware of a small cake of the ice
of common sense floating down the full tide of her happiness.
"You're a bird, all right, Kid," she admitted gratefully. "I never
had any furs on before in my life. But ain't Russian sables awful
expensive? Seems to me I've heard they were."
"Have I ever chucked any bargain-sale stuff at you, Moll?" asked
the Kid, with calm dignity. "Did you ever notice me leaning on the
remnant counter or peering in the window of the five-and-ten? Call
that scarf $250 and the muff $175 and you won't make any mistake
about the price of Russian sables. The swell goods for me. Say, they
look fine on you, Moll."
Molly hugged the sables to her bosom in rapture. And then her smile
went away little by little, and she looked the Kid straight in the
eye sadly and steadily.
He knew what every look of hers meant; and he laughed with a faint
flush upon his face.
"Cut it out," he said, with affectionate roughness. "I told you I
was done with that. I bought 'em and paid for 'em, all right, with
my own money."
"Out of the money you worked for, Kid? Out of $75 a month?"
"Sure. I been saving up."
"Let's see--saved $425 in eight months, Kid?"
"Ah, let up," said the Kid, with some heat. "I had some money when
I went to work. Do you think I've been holding 'em up again? I told
you I'd quit. They're paid for on the square. Put 'em on and come
out for a walk."
Molly calmed her doubts. Sables are soothing. Proud as a queen she
went forth in the streets at the Kid's side. In all that region of
low-lying streets Russian sables had never been seen before. The
word sped, and doors and windows blossomed with heads eager to see
the swell furs Kid Brady had given his girl. All down the street
there were "Oh's" and "Ah's" and the reported fabulous sum paid for
the sables was passed from lip to lip, increasing as it went. At her
right elbow sauntered the Kid with the air of princes. Work had not
diminished his love of pomp and show and his passion for the costly
and genuine. On a corner they saw a group of the Stovepipe Gang
loafing, immaculate. They raised their hats to the Kid's girl and
went on with their calm, unaccented palaver.
Three blocks behind the admired couple strolled Detective Ransom, of
the Central office. Ransom was the only detective on the force who
could walk abroad with safety in the Stovepipe district. He was fair
dealing and unafraid and went there with the hypothesis that the
inhabitants were human. Many liked him, and now and then one would
tip off to him something that he was looking for.
"What's the excitement down the street?" asked Ransom of a pale
youth in a red sweater.
"Dey're out rubberin' at a set of buffalo robes Kid Brady staked his
girl to," answered the youth. "Some say he paid $900 for de skins.
Dey're swell all right enough."
"I hear Brady has been working at his old trade for nearly a year,"
said the detective. "He doesn't travel with the gang any more, does
"He's workin', all right," said the red sweater, "but--say, sport,
are you trailin' anything in the fur line? A job in a plumbin' shop
don' match wid dem skins de Kid's girl's got on."
Ransom overtook the strolling couple on an empty street near the
river bank. He touched the Kid's arm from behind.
"Let me see you a moment, Brady," he said, quietly. His eye rested
for a second on the long fur scarf thrown stylishly back over
Molly's left shoulder. The Kid, with his old-time police hating
frown on his face, stepped a yard or two aside with the detective.
"Did you go to Mrs. Hethcote's on West 7--th street yesterday to fix
a leaky water pipe?" asked Ransom.
"I did," said the Kid. "What of it?"
"The lady's $1,000 set of Russian sables went out of the house about
the same time you did. The description fits the ones this lady has
"To h--Harlem with you," cried the Kid, angrily. "You know I've
cut out that sort of thing, Ransom. I bought them sables yesterday
The Kid stopped short.
"I know you've been working straight lately," said Ransom. "I'll
give you every chance. I'll go with you where you say you bought the
furs and investigate. The lady can wear 'em along with us and
nobody'll be on. That's fair, Brady."
"Come on," agreed the Kid, hotly. And then he stopped suddenly in
his tracks and looked with an odd smile at Molly's distressed and
"No use," he said, grimly. "They're the Hethcote sables, all right.
You'll have to turn 'em over, Moll, but they ain't too good for you
if they cost a million."
Molly, with anguish in her face, hung upon the Kid's arm.
"Oh, Kiddy, you've broke my heart," she said. "I was so proud of
you--and now they'll do you--and where's our happiness gone?"
"Go home," said the Kid, wildly. "Come on, Ransom--take the furs.
Let's get away from here. Wait a minute--I've a good mind to--no,
I'll be d---- if I can do it--run along, Moll--I'm ready, Ransom."
Around the corner of a lumber-yard came Policeman Kohen on his
way to his beat along the river. The detective signed to him for
assistance. Kohen joined the group. Ransom explained.
"Sure," said Kohen. "I hear about those saples dat vas stole. You
say you have dem here?"
Policeman Kohen took the end of Molly's late scarf in his hands and
looked at it closely.
"Once," he said, "I sold furs in Sixth avenue. Yes, dese are saples.
Dey come from Alaska. Dis scarf is vort $12 and dis muff--"
"Biff!" came the palm of the Kid's powerful hand upon the policeman's
mouth. Kohen staggered and rallied. Molly screamed. The detective
threw himself upon Brady and with Kohen's aid got the nippers on his
"The scarf is vort $12 and the muff is vort $9," persisted the
policeman. "Vot is dis talk about $1,000 saples?"
The Kid sat upon a pile of lumber and his face turned dark red.
"Correct, Solomonski!" he declared, viciously. "I paid $21.50 for
the set. I'd rather have got six months and not have told it. Me,
the swell guy that wouldn't look at anything cheap! I'm a plain
bluffer. Moll--my salary couldn't spell sables in Russian."
Molly cast herself upon his neck.
"What do I care for all the sables and money in the world," she
cried. "It's my Kiddy I want. Oh, you dear, stuck-up, crazy
"You can take dose nippers off," said Kohen to the detective.
"Before I leaf de station de report come in dat de lady vind her
saples--hanging in her wardrobe. Young man, I excuse you dat punch
in my vace--dis von time."
Ransom handed Molly her furs. Her eyes were smiling upon the Kid.
She wound the scarf and threw the end over her left shoulder with a
"A gouple of young vools," said Policeman Kohen to Ransom; "come on
THE SOCIAL TRIANGLE
At the stroke of six Ikey Snigglefritz laid down his goose. Ikey was
a tailor's apprentice. Are there tailor's apprentices nowadays?
At any rate, Ikey toiled and snipped and basted and pressed and
patched and sponged all day in the steamy fetor of a tailor-shop.
But when work was done Ikey hitched his wagon to such stars as his
firmament let shine.
It was Saturday night, and the boss laid twelve begrimed and
begrudged dollars in his hand. Ikey dabbled discreetly in water,
donned coat, hat and collar with its frazzled tie and chalcedony
pin, and set forth in pursuit of his ideals.
For each of us, when our day's work is done, must seek our ideal,
whether it be love or pinochle or lobster à la Newburg, or the sweet
silence of the musty bookshelves.
Behold Ikey as he ambles up the street beneath the roaring "El"
between the rows of reeking sweat-shops. Pallid, stooping,
insignificant, squalid, doomed to exist forever in penury of body
and mind, yet, as he swings his cheap cane and projects the noisome
inhalations from his cigarette you perceive that he nurtures in his
narrow bosom the bacillus of society.
Ikey's legs carried him to and into that famous place of
entertainment known as the Café Maginnis--famous because it was the
rendezvous of Billy McMahan, the greatest man, the most wonderful
man, Ikey thought, that the world had ever produced.
Billy McMahan was the district leader. Upon him the Tiger purred,
and his hand held manna to scatter. Now, as Ikey entered, McMahan
stood, flushed and triumphant and mighty, the centre of a huzzaing
concourse of his lieutenants and constituents. It seems there had
been an election; a signal victory had been won; the city had been
swept back into line by a resistless besom of ballots.
Ikey slunk along the bar and gazed, breath-quickened, at his idol.
How magnificent was Billy McMahan, with his great, smooth, laughing
face; his gray eye, shrewd as a chicken hawk's; his diamond ring,
his voice like a bugle call, his prince's air, his plump and active
roll of money, his clarion call to friend and comrade--oh, what a
king of men he was! How he obscured his lieutenants, though they
themselves loomed large and serious, blue of chin and important
of mien, with hands buried deep in the pockets of their short
overcoats! But Billy--oh, what small avail are words to paint for
you his glory as seen by Ikey Snigglefritz!
The Café Maginnis rang to the note of victory. The white-coated
bartenders threw themselves featfully upon bottle, cork and glass.
From a score of clear Havanas the air received its paradox of
clouds. The leal and the hopeful shook Billy McMahan's hand. And
there was born suddenly in the worshipful soul of Ikey Snigglefritz
an audacious, thrilling impulse.
He stepped forward into the little cleared space in which majesty
moved, and held out his hand.
Billy McMahan grasped it unhesitatingly, shook it and smiled.
Made mad now by the gods who were about to destroy him, Ikey threw
away his scabbard and charged upon Olympus.
"Have a drink with me, Billy," he said familiarly, "you and your
"Don't mind if I do, old man," said the great leader, "just to keep
the ball rolling."
The last spark of Ikey's reason fled.
"Wine," he called to the bartender, waving a trembling hand.
The corks of three bottles were drawn; the champagne bubbled in
the long row of glasses set upon the bar. Billy McMahan took his
and nodded, with his beaming smile, at Ikey. The lieutenants and
satellites took theirs and growled "Here's to you." Ikey took his
nectar in delirium. All drank.
Ikey threw his week's wages in a crumpled roll upon the bar.
"C'rect," said the bartender, smoothing the twelve one-dollar notes.
The crowd surged around Billy McMahan again. Some one was telling
how Brannigan fixed 'em over in the Eleventh. Ikey leaned against
the bar a while, and then went out.
He went down Hester street and up Chrystie, and down Delancey to
where he lived. And there his women folk, a bibulous mother and
three dingy sisters, pounced upon him for his wages. And at his
confession they shrieked and objurgated him in the pithy rhetoric
of the locality.
But even as they plucked at him and struck him Ikey remained in his
ecstatic trance of joy. His head was in the clouds; the star was
drawing his wagon. Compared with what he had achieved the loss of
wages and the bray of women's tongues were slight affairs.
He had shaken the hand of Billy McMahan.
* * * * * * *
Billy McMahan had a wife, and upon her visiting cards was engraved
the name "Mrs. William Darragh McMahan." And there was a certain
vexation attendant upon these cards; for, small as they were, there
were houses in which they could not be inserted. Billy McMahan was
a dictator in politics, a four-walled tower in business, a mogul,
dreaded, loved and obeyed among his own people. He was growing rich;
the daily papers had a dozen men on his trail to chronicle his every
word of wisdom; he had been honored in caricature holding the Tiger
cringing in leash.
But the heart of Billy was sometimes sore within him. There was a
race of men from which he stood apart but that he viewed with the
eye of Moses looking over into the promised land. He, too, had
ideals, even as had Ikey Snigglefritz; and sometimes, hopeless of
attaining them, his own solid success was as dust and ashes in his
mouth. And Mrs. William Darragh McMahan wore a look of discontent
upon her plump but pretty face, and the very rustle of her silks
seemed a sigh.
There was a brave and conspicuous assemblage in the dining saloon
of a noted hostelry where Fashion loves to display her charms. At
one table sat Billy McMahan and his wife. Mostly silent they were,
but the accessories they enjoyed little needed the indorsement of
speech. Mrs. McMahan's diamonds were outshone by few in the room.
The waiter bore the costliest brands of wine to their table. In
evening dress, with an expression of gloom upon his smooth and
massive countenance, you would look in vain for a more striking
figure than Billy's.
Four tables away sat alone a tall, slender man, about thirty,
with thoughtful, melancholy eyes, a Van Dyke beard and peculiarly
white, thin hands. He was dining on filet mignon, dry toast and
apollinaris. That man was Cortlandt Van Duyckink, a man worth eighty
millions, who inherited and held a sacred seat in the exclusive
inner circle of society.
Billy McMahan spoke to no one around him, because he knew no one.
Van Duyckink kept his eyes on his plate because he knew that every
one present was hungry to catch his. He could bestow knighthood and
prestige by a nod, and he was chary of creating a too extensive
And then Billy McMahan conceived and accomplished the most startling
and audacious act of his life. He rose deliberately and walked over
to Cortlandt Van Duyckink's table and held out his hand.
"Say, Mr. Van Duyckink," he said, "I've heard you was talking about
starting some reforms among the poor people down in my district. I'm
McMahan, you know. Say, now, if that's straight I'll do all I can to
help you. And what I says goes in that neck of the woods, don't it?
Oh, say, I rather guess it does."
Van Duyckink's rather sombre eyes lighted up. He rose to his lank
height and grasped Billy McMahan's hand.
"Thank you, Mr. McMahan," he said, in his deep, serious tones. "I
have been thinking of doing some work of that sort. I shall be glad
of your assistance. It pleases me to have become acquainted with
Billy walked back to his seat. His shoulder was tingling from the
accolade bestowed by royalty. A hundred eyes were now turned upon
him in envy and new admiration. Mrs. William Darragh McMahan
trembled with ecstasy, so that her diamonds smote the eye almost
with pain. And now it was apparent that at many tables there were
those who suddenly remembered that they enjoyed Mr. McMahan's
acquaintance. He saw smiles and bows about him. He became enveloped
in the aura of dizzy greatness. His campaign coolness deserted him.
"Wine for that gang!" he commanded the waiter, pointing with his
finger. "Wine over there. Wine to those three gents by that green
bush. Tell 'em it's on me. D----n it! Wine for everybody!"
The waiter ventured to whisper that it was perhaps inexpedient to
carry out the order, in consideration of the dignity of the house
and its custom.
"All right," said Billy, "if it's against the rules. I wonder if
'twould do to send my friend Van Duyckink a bottle? No? Well, it'll
flow all right at the caffy to-night, just the same. It'll be rubber
boots for anybody who comes in there any time up to 2 A. M."
Billy McMahan was happy.
He had shaken the hand of Cortlandt Van Duyckink.
* * * * * * *
The big pale-gray auto with its shining metal work looked out
of place moving slowly among the push carts and trash-heaps on
the lower east side. So did Cortlandt Van Duyckink, with his
aristocratic face and white, thin hands, as he steered carefully
between the groups of ragged, scurrying youngsters in the streets.
And so did Miss Constance Schuyler, with her dim, ascetic beauty,
seated at his side.
"Oh, Cortlandt," she breathed, "isn't it sad that human beings have
to live in such wretchedness and poverty? And you--how noble it is
of you to think of them, to give your time and money to improve
Van Duyckink turned his solemn eyes upon her.
"It is little," he said, sadly, "that I can do. The question is a
large one, and belongs to society. But even individual effort is
not thrown away. Look, Constance! On this street I have arranged to
build soup kitchens, where no one who is hungry will be turned away.
And down this other street are the old buildings that I shall cause
to be torn down and there erect others in place of those death-traps
of fire and disease."
Down Delancey slowly crept the pale-gray auto. Away from it toddled
coveys of wondering, tangle-haired, barefooted, unwashed children.
It stopped before a crazy brick structure, foul and awry.
Van Duyckink alighted to examine at a better perspective one of the
leaning walls. Down the steps of the building came a young man who
seemed to epitomize its degradation, squalor and infelicity--a
narrow-chested, pale, unsavory young man, puffing at a cigarette.
Obeying a sudden impulse, Van Duyckink stepped out and warmly
grasped the hand of what seemed to him a living rebuke.
"I want to know you people," he said, sincerely. "I am going to help
you as much as I can. We shall be friends."
As the auto crept carefully away Cortlandt Van Duyckink felt an
unaccustomed glow about his heart. He was near to being a happy man.
He had shaken the hand of Ikey Snigglefritz.
THE PURPLE DRESS
We are to consider the shade known as purple. It is a color justly
in repute among the sons and daughters of man. Emperors claim it
for their especial dye. Good fellows everywhere seek to bring their
noses to the genial hue that follows the commingling of the red and
blue. We say of princes that they are born to the purple; and no
doubt they are, for the colic tinges their faces with the royal tint
equally with the snub-nosed countenance of a woodchopper's brat. All
women love it--when it is the fashion.
And now purple is being worn. You notice it on the streets. Of course
other colors are quite stylish as well--in fact, I saw a lovely thing
the other day in olive green albatross, with a triple-lapped flounce
skirt trimmed with insert squares of silk, and a draped fichu of lace
opening over a shirred vest and double puff sleeves with a lace band
holding two gathered frills--but you see lots of purple too. Oh, yes,
you do; just take a walk down Twenty-third street any afternoon.
Therefore Maida--the girl with the big brown eyes and cinnamon-colored
hair in the Bee-Hive Store--said to Grace--the girl with the
rhinestone brooch and peppermint-pepsin flavor to her speech--"I'm
going to have a purple dress--a tailor-made purple dress--for
"Oh, are you," said Grace, putting away some 7½ gloves into the
6¾ box. "Well, it's me for red. You see more red on Fifth avenue.
And the men all seem to like it."
"I like purple best," said Maida. "And old Schlegel has promised to
make it for $8. It's going to be lovely. I'm going to have a plaited
skirt and a blouse coat trimmed with a band of galloon under a white
cloth collar with two rows of--"
"Sly boots!" said Grace with an educated wink.
"--soutache braid over a surpliced white vest; and a plaited basque
"Sly boots--sly boots!" repeated Grace.
"--plaited gigot sleeves with a drawn velvet ribbon over an inside
cuff. What do you mean by saying that?"
"You think Mr. Ramsay likes purple. I heard him say yesterday he
thought some of the dark shades of red were stunning."
"I don't care," said Maida. "I prefer purple, and them that don't
like it can just take the other side of the street."
Which suggests the thought that after all, the followers of purple
may be subject to slight delusions. Danger is near when a maiden
thinks she can wear purple regardless of complexions and opinions;
and when Emperors think their purple robes will wear forever.
Maida had saved $18 after eight months of economy; and this had
bought the goods for the purple dress and paid Schlegel $4 on the
making of it. On the day before Thanksgiving she would have just
enough to pay the remaining $4. And then for a holiday in a new
dress--can earth offer anything more enchanting?
Old Bachman, the proprietor of the Bee-Hive Store, always gave a
Thanksgiving dinner to his employees. On every one of the subsequent
364 days, excusing Sundays, he would remind them of the joys of the
past banquet and the hopes of the coming ones, thus inciting them
to increased enthusiasm in work. The dinner was given in the store
on one of the long tables in the middle of the room. They tacked
wrapping paper over the front windows; and the turkeys and other
good things were brought in the back way from the restaurant on the
corner. You will perceive that the Bee-Hive was not a fashionable
department store, with escalators and pompadours. It was almost
small enough to be called an emporium; and you could actually go
in there and get waited on and walk out again. And always at the
Thanksgiving dinners Mr. Ramsay--
Oh, bother! I should have mentioned Mr. Ramsay first of all. He is
more important than purple or green, or even the red cranberry
Mr. Ramsay was the head clerk; and as far as I am concerned I am for
him. He never pinched the girls' arms when he passed them in dark
corners of the store; and when he told them stories when business
was dull and the girls giggled and said: "Oh, pshaw!" it wasn't G.
Bernard they meant at all. Besides being a gentleman, Mr. Ramsay
was queer and original in other ways. He was a health crank, and
believed that people should never eat anything that was good for
them. He was violently opposed to anybody being comfortable, and
coming in out of snow storms, or wearing overshoes, or taking
medicine, or coddling themselves in any way. Every one of the ten
girls in the store had little pork-chop-and-fried-onion dreams every
night of becoming Mrs. Ramsay. For, next year old Bachman was going
to take him in for a partner. And each one of them knew that if she
should catch him she would knock those cranky health notions of his
sky high before the wedding cake indigestion was over.
Mr. Ramsay was master of ceremonies at the dinners. Always they had
two Italians in to play a violin and harp and had a little dance in
And here were two dresses being conceived to charm Ramsay--one
purple and the other red. Of course, the other eight girls were
going to have dresses too, but they didn't count. Very likely
they'd wear some shirt-waist-and-black-skirt-affairs--nothing as
resplendent as purple or red.
Grace had saved her money, too. She was going to buy her dress
ready-made. Oh, what's the use of bothering with a tailor--when
you've got a figger it's easy to get a fit--the ready-made are
intended for a perfect figger--except I have to have 'em all taken
in at the waist--the average figger is so large waisted.
The night before Thanksgiving came. Maida hurried home, keen and
bright with the thoughts of the blessed morrow. Her thoughts were of
purple, but they were white themselves--the joyous enthusiasm of the
young for the pleasures that youth must have or wither. She knew
purple would become her, and--for the thousandth time she tried to
assure herself that it was purple Mr. Ramsay said he liked and not
red. She was going home first to get the $4 wrapped in a piece of
tissue paper in the bottom drawer of her dresser, and then she was
going to pay Schlegel and take the dress home herself.
Grace lived in the same house. She occupied the hall room above
At home Maida found clamor and confusion. The landlady's tongue
clattering sourly in the halls like a churn dasher dabbing in
buttermilk. And then Grace come down to her room crying with eyes as
red as any dress.
"She says I've got to get out," said Grace. "The old beast. Because
I owe her $4. She's put my trunk in the hall and locked the door. I
can't go anywhere else. I haven't got a cent of money."
"You had some yesterday," said Maida.
"I paid it on my dress," said Grace. "I thought she'd wait till next
week for the rent."
Sniffle, sniffle, sob, sniffle.
Out came--out it had to come--Maida's $4.
"You blessed darling," cried Grace, now a rainbow instead of sunset.
"I'll pay the mean old thing and then I'm going to try on my dress.
I think it's heavenly. Come up and look at it. I'll pay the money
back, a dollar a week--honest I will."
The dinner was to be at noon. At a quarter to twelve Grace switched
into Maida's room. Yes, she looked charming. Red was her color.
Maida sat by the window in her old cheviot skirt and blue waist
darning a st--. Oh, doing fancy work.
"Why, goodness me! ain't you dressed yet?" shrilled the red one.
"How does it fit in the back? Don't you think these velvet tabs look
awful swell? Why ain't you dressed, Maida?"
"My dress didn't get finished in time," said Maida. "I'm not going
to the dinner."
"That's too bad. Why, I'm awfully sorry, Maida. Why don't you put on
anything and come along--it's just the store folks, you know, and
they won't mind."
"I was set on my purple," said Maida. "If I can't have it I won't go
at all. Don't bother about me. Run along or you'll be late. You look
awful nice in red."
At her window Maida sat through the long morning and past the time
of the dinner at the store. In her mind she could hear the girls
shrieking over a pull-bone, could hear old Bachman's roar over his
own deeply-concealed jokes, could see the diamonds of fat Mrs.
Bachman, who came to the store only on Thanksgiving days, could see
Mr. Ramsay moving about, alert, kindly, looking to the comfort of
At four in the afternoon, with an expressionless face and a lifeless
air she slowly made her way to Schlegel's shop and told him she
could not pay the $4 due on the dress.
"Gott!" cried Schlegel, angrily. "For what do you look so glum? Take
him away. He is ready. Pay me some time. Haf I not seen you pass
mine shop every day in two years? If I make clothes is it that I do
not know how to read beoples because? You will pay me some time when
you can. Take him away. He is made goot; and if you look bretty in
him all right. So. Pay me when you can."
Maida breathed a millionth part of the thanks in her heart, and
hurried away with her dress. As she left the shop a smart dash of
rain struck upon her face. She smiled and did not feel it.
Ladies who shop in carriages, you do not understand. Girls whose
wardrobes are charged to the old man's account, you cannot begin to
comprehend--you could not understand why Maida did not feel the cold
dash of the Thanksgiving rain.
At five o'clock she went out upon the street wearing her purple
dress. The rain had increased, and it beat down upon her in a
steady, wind-blown pour. People were scurrying home and to cars with
close-held umbrellas and tight buttoned raincoats. Many of them
turned their heads to marvel at this beautiful, serene, happy-eyed
girl in the purple dress walking through the storm as though she
were strolling in a garden under summer skies.
I say you do not understand it, ladies of the full purse and varied
wardrobe. You do not know what it is to live with a perpetual
longing for pretty things--to starve eight months in order to bring
a purple dress and a holiday together. What difference if it rained,
hailed, blew, snowed, cycloned?
Maida had no umbrella nor overshoes. She had her purple dress and
she walked abroad. Let the elements do their worst. A starved heart
must have one crumb during a year. The rain ran down and dripped
from her fingers.
Some one turned a corner and blocked her way. She looked up into Mr.
Ramsay's eyes, sparkling with admiration and interest.
"Why, Miss Maida," said he, "you look simply magnificent in your
new dress. I was greatly disappointed not to see you at our dinner.
And of all the girls I ever knew, you show the greatest sense and
intelligence. There is nothing more healthful and invigorating than
braving the weather as you are doing. May I walk with you?"
And Maida blushed and sneezed.
THE FOREIGN POLICY OF COMPANY 99
John Byrnes, hose-cart driver of Engine Company No. 99, was
afflicted with what his comrades called Japanitis.
Byrnes had a war map spread permanently upon a table in the second
story of the engine-house, and he could explain to you at any hour
of the day or night the exact positions, conditions and intentions
of both the Russian and Japanese armies. He had little clusters of
pins stuck in the map which represented the opposing forces, and
these he moved about from day to day in conformity with the war news
in the daily papers.
Wherever the Japs won a victory John Byrnes would shift his pins,
and then he would execute a war dance of delight, and the other
firemen would hear him yell: "Go it, you blamed little, sawed-off,
huckleberry-eyed, monkey-faced hot tamales! Eat 'em up, you little
sleight-o'-hand, bow-legged bull terriers--give 'em another of them
Yalu looloos, and you'll eat rice in St. Petersburg. Talk about your
Russians--say, wouldn't they give you a painsky when it comes to a
Not even on the fair island of Nippon was there a more enthusiastic
champion of the Mikado's men. Supporters of the Russian cause did
well to keep clear of Engine-House No. 99.
Sometimes all thoughts of the Japs left John Byrnes's head. That
was when the alarm of fire had sounded and he was strapped in his
driver's seat on the swaying cart, guiding Erebus and Joe, the
finest team in the whole department--according to the crew of 99.
Of all the codes adopted by man for regulating his actions toward
his fellow-mortals, the greatest are these--the code of King
Arthur's Knights of the Round Table, the Constitution of the United
States and the unwritten rules of the New York Fire Department. The
Round Table methods are no longer practicable since the invention
of street cars and breach-of-promise suits, and our Constitution is
being found more and more unconstitutional every day, so the code of
our firemen must be considered in the lead, with the Golden Rule and
Jeffries's new punch trying for place and show.
The Constitution says that one man is as good as another; but the
Fire Department says he is better. This is a too generous theory,
but the law will not allow itself to be construed otherwise. All of
which comes perilously near to being a paradox, and commends itself
to the attention of the S. P. C. A.
One of the transatlantic liners dumped out at Ellis Island a lump of
protozoa which was expected to evolve into an American citizen. A
steward kicked him down the gangway, a doctor pounced upon his eyes
like a raven, seeking for trachoma or ophthalmia; he was hustled
ashore and ejected into the city in the name of Liberty--perhaps,
theoretically, thus inoculating against kingocracy with a drop of
its own virus. This hypodermic injection of Europeanism wandered
happily into the veins of the city with the broad grin of a pleased
child. It was not burdened with baggage, cares or ambitions. Its
body was lithely built and clothed in a sort of foreign fustian;
its face was brightly vacant, with a small, flat nose, and was
mostly covered by a thick, ragged, curling beard like the coat
of a spaniel. In the pocket of the imported Thing were a few
financial nomenclature of his unknown country may have been.
Prattling to himself, always broadly grinning, pleased by the roar
and movement of the barbarous city into which the steamship cut-rates
had shunted him, the alien strayed away from the sea, which he
hated, as far as the district covered by Engine Company No. 99.
Light as a cork, he was kept bobbing along by the human tide, the
crudest atom in all the silt of the stream that emptied into the
reservoir of Liberty.
While crossing Third avenue he slowed his steps, enchanted by the
thunder of the elevated trains above him and the soothing crash of
the wheels on the cobbles. And then there was a new, delightful
chord in the uproar--the musical clanging of a gong and a great
shining juggernaut belching fire and smoke, that people were
hurrying to see.
This beautiful thing, entrancing to the eye, dashed past, and the
protoplasmic immigrant stepped into the wake of it with his broad,
enraptured, uncomprehending grin. And so stepping, stepped into the
path of No. 99's flying hose-cart, with John Byrnes gripping, with
arms of steel, the reins over the plunging backs of Erebus and Joe.
The unwritten constitutional code of the fireman has no exceptions
or amendments. It is a simple thing--as simple as the rule of three.
There was the heedless unit in the right of way; there was the
hose-cart and the iron pillar of the elevated railroad.
John Byrnes swung all his weight and muscle on the left rein. The
team and cart swerved that way and crashed like a torpedo into the
pillar. The men on the cart went flying like skittles. The driver's
strap burst, the pillar rang with the shock, and John Byrnes fell
on the car track with a broken shoulder twenty feet away, while
Erebus--beautiful, raven-black, best-loved Erebus--lay whickering
in his harness with a broken leg.
In consideration for the feelings of Engine Company No. 99 the
details will be lightly touched. The company does not like to be
reminded of that day. There was a great crowd, and hurry calls were
sent in; and while the ambulance gong was clearing the way the men
of No. 99 heard the crack of the S. P. C. A. agent's pistol, and
turned their heads away, not daring to look toward Erebus again.
When the firemen got back to the engine-house they found that one of
them was dragging by the collar the cause of their desolation and
grief. They set it in the middle of the floor and gathered grimly
about it. Through its whiskers the calamitous object chattered
effervescently and waved its hands.
"Sounds like a seidlitz powder," said Mike Dowling, disgustedly,
"and it makes me sicker than one. Call that a man!--that hoss
was worth a steamer full of such two-legged animals. It's a
immigrant--that's what it is."
"Look at the doctor's chalk mark on its coat," said Reilly, the desk
man. "It's just landed. It must be a kind of a Dago or a Hun or one
of them Finns, I guess. That's the kind of truck that Europe unloads
"Think of a thing like that getting in the way and laying John up
in hospital and spoiling the best fire team in the city," groaned
another fireman. "It ought to be taken down to the dock and drowned."
"Somebody go around and get Sloviski," suggested the engine driver,
"and let's see what nation is responsible for this conglomeration of
hair and head noises."
Sloviski kept a delicatessen store around the corner on Third avenue,
and was reputed to be a linguist.
One of the men fetched him--a fat, cringing man, with a discursive
eye and the odors of many kinds of meats upon him.
"Take a whirl at this importation with your jaw-breakers, Sloviski,"
requested Mike Dowling. "We can't quite figure out whether he's from
the Hackensack bottoms or Hongkong-on-the-Ganges."
Sloviski addressed the stranger in several dialects that ranged in
rhythm and cadence from the sounds produced by a tonsilitis gargle
to the opening of a can of tomatoes with a pair of scissors. The
immigrant replied in accents resembling the uncorking of a bottle of
"I have you his name," reported Sloviski. "You shall not pronounce
it. Writing of it in paper is better." They gave him paper, and he
wrote, "Demetre Svangvsk."
"Looks like short hand," said the desk man.
"He speaks some language," continued the interpreter, wiping his
forehead, "of Austria and mixed with a little Turkish. And, den,
he have some Magyar words and a Polish or two, and many like the
Roumanian, but not without talk of one tribe in Bessarabia. I do
not him quite understand."
"Would you call him a Dago or a Polocker, or what?" asked Mike,
frowning at the polyglot description.
"He is a"--answered Sloviski--"he is a--I dink he come from--I dink
he is a fool," he concluded, impatient at his linguistic failure,
"and if you pleases I will go back at mine delicatessen."
"Whatever he is, he's a bird," said Mike Dowling; "and you want to
watch him fly."
Taking by the wing the alien fowl that had fluttered into the
nest of Liberty, Mike led him to the door of the engine-house and
bestowed upon him a kick hearty enough to convey the entire animus
of Company 99. Demetre Svangvsk hustled away down the sidewalk,
turning once to show his ineradicable grin to the aggrieved firemen.
In three weeks John Byrnes was back at his post from the hospital.
With great gusto he proceeded to bring his war map up to date. "My
money on the Japs every time," he declared. "Why, look at them
Russians--they're nothing but wolves. Wipe 'em out, I say--and the
little old jiu jitsu gang are just the cherry blossoms to do the
trick, and don't you forget it!"
The second day after Byrnes's reappearance came Demetre Svangvsk,
the unidentified, to the engine-house, with a broader grin than
ever. He managed to convey the idea that he wished to congratulate
the hose-cart driver on his recovery and to apologize for having
caused the accident. This he accomplished by so many extravagant
gestures and explosive noises that the company was diverted for half
an hour. Then they kicked him out again, and on the next day he came
back grinning. How or where he lived no one knew. And then John
Byrnes's nine-year-old son, Chris, who brought him convalescent
delicacies from home to eat, took a fancy to Svangvsk, and they
allowed him to loaf about the door of the engine-house occasionally.
One afternoon the big drab automobile of the Deputy Fire
Commissioner buzzed up to the door of No. 99 and the Deputy stepped
inside for an informal inspection. The men kicked Svangvsk out a
little harder than usual and proudly escorted the Deputy around 99,
in which everything shone like my lady's mirror.
The Deputy respected the sorrow of the company concerning the loss
of Erebus, and he had come to promise it another mate for Joe that
would do him credit. So they let Joe out of his stall and showed
the Deputy how deserving he was of the finest mate that could be
While they were circling around Joe confabbing, Chris climbed into
the Deputy's auto and threw the power full on. The men heard a
monster puffing and a shriek from the lad, and sprang out too late.
The big auto shot away, luckily taking a straight course down the
street. The boy knew nothing of its machinery; he sat clutching the
cushions and howling. With the power on nothing could have stopped
that auto except a brick house, and there was nothing for Chris to
gain by such a stoppage.
Demetre Svangvsk was just coming in again with a grin for another
kick when Chris played his merry little prank. While the others
sprang for the door Demetre sprang for Joe. He glided upon the
horse's bare back like a snake and shouted something at him like
the crack of a dozen whips. One of the firemen afterward swore that
Joe answered him back in the same language. Ten seconds after the
auto started the big horse was eating up the asphalt behind it like
a strip of macaroni.
Some people two blocks and a half away saw the rescue. They said
that the auto was nothing but a drab noise with a black speck in the
middle of it for Chris, when a big bay horse with a lizard lying on
its back cantered up alongside of it, and the lizard reached over
and picked the black speck out of the noise.
Only fifteen minutes after Svangvsk's last kicking at the hands--or
rather the feet--of Engine Company No. 99 he rode Joe back through
the door with the boy safe, but acutely conscious of the licking he
was going to receive.
Svangvsk slipped to the floor, leaned his head against Joe's and
made a noise like a clucking hen. Joe nodded and whistled loudly
through his nostrils, putting to shame the knowledge of Sloviski,
of the delicatessen.
John Byrnes walked up to Svangvsk, who grinned, expecting to be
kicked. Byrnes gripped the outlander so strongly by the hand that
Demetre grinned anyhow, conceiving it to be a new form of
"The heathen rides like a Cossack," remarked a fireman who had seen
a Wild West show--"they're the greatest riders in the world."
The word seemed to electrify Svangvsk. He grinned wider than ever.
"Yas--yas--me Cossack," he spluttered, striking his chest.
"Cossack!" repeated John Byrnes, thoughtfully, "ain't that a kind of
"They're one of the Russian tribes, sure," said the desk man, who
read books between fire alarms.
Just then Alderman Foley, who was on his way home and did not know
of the runaway, stopped at the door of the engine-house and called
"Hello there, Jimmy, me boy--how's the war coming along? Japs still
got the bear on the trot, have they?"
"Oh, I don't know," said John Byrnes, argumentatively, "them Japs
haven't got any walkover. You wait till Kuropatkin gets a good whack
at 'em and they won't be knee-high to a puddle-ducksky."
THE LOST BLEND
Since the bar has been blessed by the clergy, and cocktails open the
dinners of the elect, one may speak of the saloon. Teetotalers need
not listen, if they choose; there is always the slot restaurant,
where a dime dropped into the cold bouillon aperture will bring
forth a dry Martini.
Con Lantry worked on the sober side of the bar in Kenealy's café.
You and I stood, one-legged like geese, on the other side and went
into voluntary liquidation with our week's wages. Opposite danced
Con, clean, temperate, clear-headed, polite, white-jacketed,
punctual, trustworthy, young, responsible, and took our money.
The saloon (whether blessed or cursed) stood in one of those little
"places" which are parallelograms instead of streets, and inhabited
by laundries, decayed Knickerbocker families and Bohemians who have
nothing to do with either.
Over the café lived Kenealy and his family. His daughter Katherine
had eyes of dark Irish--but why should you be told? Be content with
your Geraldine or your Eliza Ann. For Con dreamed of her; and when
she called softly at the foot of the back stairs for the pitcher of
beer for dinner, his heart went up and down like a milk punch in the
shaker. Orderly and fit are the rules of Romance; and if you hurl
the last shilling of your fortune upon the bar for whiskey, the
bartender shall take it, and marry his boss's daughter, and good
will grow out of it.
But not so Con. For in the presence of woman he was tongue-tied and
scarlet. He who would quell with his eye the sonorous youth whom
the claret punch made loquacious, or smash with lemon squeezer the
obstreperous, or hurl gutterward the cantankerous without a wrinkle
coming to his white lawn tie, when he stood before woman he was
voiceless, incoherent, stuttering, buried beneath a hot avalanche
of bashfulness and misery. What then was he before Katherine? A
trembler, with no word to say for himself, a stone without blarney,
the dumbest lover that ever babbled of the weather in the presence
of his divinity.
There came to Kenealy's two sunburned men, Riley and McQuirk. They
had conference with Kenealy; and then they took possession of a
back room which they filled with bottles and siphons and jugs and
druggist's measuring glasses. All the appurtenances and liquids of
a saloon were there, but they dispensed no drinks. All day long
the two sweltered in there pouring and mixing unknown brews and
decoctions from the liquors in their store. Riley had the education,
and he figured on reams of paper, reducing gallons to ounces and
quarts to fluid drams. McQuirk, a morose man with a red eye, dashed
each unsuccessful completed mixture into the waste pipes with curses
gentle, husky and deep. They labored heavily and untiringly to
achieve some mysterious solution like two alchemists striving to
resolve gold from the elements.
Into this back room one evening when his watch was done sauntered
Con. His professional curiosity had been stirred by these occult
bartenders at whose bar none drank, and who daily drew upon
Kenealy's store of liquors to follow their consuming and fruitless
Down the back stairs came Katherine with her smile like sunrise on
"Good evening, Mr. Lantry," says she. "And what is the news to-day,
if you please?"
"It looks like r-rain," stammered the shy one, backing to the wall.
"It couldn't do better," said Katherine. "I'm thinking there's
nothing the worse off for a little water." In the back room
Riley and McQuirk toiled like bearded witches over their strange
compounds. From fifty bottles they drew liquids carefully measured
after Riley's figures, and shook the whole together in a great glass
vessel. Then McQuirk would dash it out, with gloomy profanity, and
they would begin again.
"Sit down," said Riley to Con, "and I'll tell you.
"Last summer me and Tim concludes that an American bar in this
nation of Nicaragua would pay. There was a town on the coast where
there's nothing to eat but quinine and nothing to drink but rum. The
natives and foreigners lay down with chills and get up with fevers;
and a good mixed drink is nature's remedy for all such tropical
"So we lays in a fine stock of wet goods in New York, and bar
fixtures and glassware, and we sails for that Santa Palma town on
a lime steamer. On the way me and Tim sees flying fish and plays
seven-up with the captain and steward, and already begins to feel
like the high-ball kings of the tropics of Capricorn.
"When we gets in five hours of the country that we was going to
introduce to long drinks and short change the captain calls us over
to the starboard binnacle and recollects a few things.
"'I forgot to tell you, boys,' says he, 'that Nicaragua slapped an
import duty of 48 per cent. ad valorem on all bottled goods last
month. The President took a bottle of Cincinnati hair tonic by
mistake for tobasco sauce, and he's getting even. Barrelled goods is
"'Sorry you didn't mention it sooner,' says we. And we bought two
forty-two gallon casks from the captain, and opened every bottle we
had and dumped the stuff all together in the casks. That 48 per cent
would have ruined us; so we took the chances on making that $1,200
cocktail rather than throw the stuff away.
"Well, when we landed we tapped one of the barrels. The mixture was
something heartrending. It was the color of a plate of Bowery pea
soup, and it tasted like one of those coffee substitutes your aunt
makes you take for the heart trouble you get by picking losers. We
gave a nigger four fingers of it to try it, and he lay under a
cocoanut tree three days beating the sand with his heels and refused
to sign a testimonial.
"But the other barrel! Say, bartender, did you ever put on a straw
hat with a yellow band around it and go up in a balloon with a
pretty girl with $8,000,000 in your pocket all at the same time?
That's what thirty drops of it would make you feel like. With two
fingers of it inside you you would bury your face in your hands and
cry because there wasn't anything more worth while around for you to
lick than little Jim Jeffries. Yes, sir, the stuff in that second
barrel was distilled elixir of battle, money and high life. It was
the color of gold and as clear as glass, and it shone after dark
like the sunshine was still in it. A thousand years from now you'll
get a drink like that across the bar.
"Well, we started up business with that one line of drinks, and it
was enough. The piebald gentry of that country stuck to it like a
hive of bees. If that barrel had lasted that country would have
become the greatest on earth. When we opened up of mornings we had a
line of Generals and Colonels and ex-Presidents and revolutionists a
block long waiting to be served. We started in at 50 cents silver a
drink. The last ten gallons went easy at $5 a gulp. It was wonderful
stuff. It gave a man courage and ambition and nerve to do anything;
at the same time he didn't care whether his money was tainted or
fresh from the Ice Trust. When that barrel was half gone Nicaragua
had repudiated the National debt, removed the duty on cigarettes and
was about to declare war on the United States and England.
"'Twas by accident we discovered this king of drinks, and 'twill
be by good luck if we strike it again. For ten months we've been
trying. Small lots at a time, we've mixed barrels of all the harmful
ingredients known to the profession of drinking. Ye could have
stocked ten bars with the whiskies, brandies, cordials, bitters,
gins and wines me and Tim have wasted. A glorious drink like that
to be denied to the world! 'Tis a sorrow and a loss of money. The
United States as a nation would welcome a drink of that sort, and
pay for it."
All the while McQuirk had been carefully measuring and pouring
together small quantities of various spirits, as Riley called them,
from his latest pencilled prescription. The completed mixture was of
a vile, mottled chocolate color. McQuirk tasted it, and hurled it,
with appropriate epithets, into the waste sink.
"'Tis a strange story, even if true," said Con. "I'll be going now
along to my supper."
"Take a drink," said Riley. "We've all kinds except the lost blend."
"I never drink," said Con, "anything stronger than water. I am just
after meeting Miss Katherine by the stairs. She said a true word.
'There's not anything,' says she, 'but is better off for a little
When Con had left them Riley almost felled McQuirk by a blow on the
"Did ye hear that?" he shouted. "Two fools are we. The six dozen
bottles of 'pollinaris we had on the ship--ye opened them
yourself--which barrel did ye pour them in--which barrel, ye
"I mind," said McQuirk, slowly, "'twas in the second barrel we
opened. I mind the blue piece of paper pasted on the side of it."
"We've got it now," cried Riley. "'Twas that we lacked. 'Tis the
water that does the trick. Everything else we had right. Hurry, man,
and get two bottles of 'pollinaris from the bar, while I figure out
the proportionments with me pencil."
An hour later Con strolled down the sidewalk toward Kenealy's café.
Thus faithful employees haunt, during their recreation hours, the
vicinity where they labor, drawn by some mysterious attraction.
A police patrol wagon stood at the side door. Three able cops were
half carrying, half hustling Riley and McQuirk up its rear steps.
The eyes and faces of each bore the bruises and cuts of sanguinary
and assiduous conflict. Yet they whooped with strange joy, and
directed upon the police the feeble remnants of their pugnacious
"Began fighting each other in the back room," explained Kenealy to
Con. "And singing! That was worse. Smashed everything pretty much
up. But they're good men. They'll pay for everything. Trying to
invent some new kind of cocktail, they was. I'll see they come out
all right in the morning."
Con sauntered into the back room to view the battlefield. As he went
through the hall Katherine was just coming down the stairs.
"Good evening again, Mr. Lantry," said she. "And is there no news
from the weather yet?"
"Still threatens r-rain," said Con, slipping past with red in his
smooth, pale cheek.
Riley and McQuirk had indeed waged a great and friendly battle.
Broken bottles and glasses were everywhere. The room was full of
alcohol fumes; the floor was variegated with spirituous puddles.
On the table stood a 32-ounce glass graduated measure. In the bottom
of it were two tablespoonfuls of liquid--a bright golden liquid that
seemed to hold the sunshine a prisoner in its auriferous depths.
Con smelled it. He tasted it. He drank it.
As he returned through the hall Katherine was just going up the
"No news yet, Mr. Lantry?" she asked with her teasing laugh.
Con lifted her clear from the floor and held her there.
"The news is," he said, "that we're to be married."
"Put me down, sir!" she cried indignantly, "or I will-- Oh, Con,
where, oh, wherever did you get the nerve to say it?"
A HARLEM TRAGEDY
Mrs. Fink had dropped into Mrs. Cassidy's flat one flight below.
"Ain't it a beaut?" said Mrs. Cassidy.
She turned her face proudly for her friend Mrs. Fink to see. One eye
was nearly closed, with a great, greenish-purple bruise around it.
Her lip was cut and bleeding a little and there were red finger-marks
on each side of her neck.
"My husband wouldn't ever think of doing that to me," said Mrs.
Fink, concealing her envy.
"I wouldn't have a man," declared Mrs. Cassidy, "that didn't beat me
up at least once a week. Shows he thinks something of you. Say! but
that last dose Jack gave me wasn't no homeopathic one. I can see
stars yet. But he'll be the sweetest man in town for the rest of the
week to make up for it. This eye is good for theater tickets and a
silk shirt waist at the very least."
"I should hope," said Mrs. Fink, assuming complacency, "that Mr.
Fink is too much of a gentleman ever to raise his hand against me."
"Oh, go on, Maggie!" said Mrs. Cassidy, laughing and applying witch
hazel, "you're only jealous. Your old man is too frappéd and slow
to ever give you a punch. He just sits down and practises physical
culture with a newspaper when he comes home--now ain't that the
"Mr. Fink certainly peruses of the papers when he comes home,"
acknowledged Mrs. Fink, with a toss of her head; "but he certainly
don't ever make no Steve O'Donnell out of me just to amuse
himself--that's a sure thing."
Mrs. Cassidy laughed the contented laugh of the guarded and happy
matron. With the air of Cornelia exhibiting her jewels, she drew
down the collar of her kimono and revealed another treasured bruise,
maroon-colored, edged with olive and orange--a bruise now nearly
well, but still to memory dear.
Mrs. Fink capitulated. The formal light in her eye softened to
envious admiration. She and Mrs. Cassidy had been chums in the
downtown paper-box factory before they had married, one year before.
Now she and her man occupied the flat above Mame and her man.
Therefore she could not put on airs with Mame.
"Don't it hurt when he soaks you?" asked Mrs. Fink, curiously.
"Hurt!"--Mrs. Cassidy gave a soprano scream of delight. "Well,
say--did you ever have a brick house fall on you?--well, that's just
the way it feels--just like when they're digging you out of the
ruins. Jack's got a left that spells two matinees and a new pair of
Oxfords--and his right!--well, it takes a trip to Coney and six
pairs of openwork, silk lisle threads to make that good."
"But what does he beat you for?" inquired Mrs. Fink, with wide-open
"Silly!" said Mrs. Cassidy, indulgently. "Why, because he's full.
It's generally on Saturday nights."
"But what cause do you give him?" persisted the seeker after
"Why, didn't I marry him? Jack comes in tanked up; and I'm here,
ain't I? Who else has he got a right to beat? I'd just like to catch
him once beating anybody else! Sometimes it's because supper ain't
ready; and sometimes it's because it is. Jack ain't particular about
causes. He just lushes till he remembers he's married, and then
he makes for home and does me up. Saturday nights I just move the
furniture with sharp corners out of the way, so I won't cut my
head when he gets his work in. He's got a left swing that jars you!
Sometimes I take the count in the first round; but when I feel like
having a good time during the week or want some new rags I come up
again for more punishment. That's what I done last night. Jack knows
I've been wanting a black silk waist for a month, and I didn't think
just one black eye would bring it. Tell you what, Mag, I'll bet you
the ice cream he brings it to-night."
Mrs. Fink was thinking deeply.
"My Mart," she said, "never hit me a lick in his life. It's just
like you said, Mame; he comes in grouchy and ain't got a word to
say. He never takes me out anywhere. He's a chair-warmer at home for
fair. He buys me things, but he looks so glum about it that I never
Mrs. Cassidy slipped an arm around her chum. "You poor thing!"
she said. "But everybody can't have a husband like Jack. Marriage
wouldn't be no failure if they was all like him. These discontented
wives you hear about--what they need is a man to come home and kick
their slats in once a week, and then make it up in kisses, and
chocolate creams. That'd give 'em some interest in life. What I want
is a masterful man that slugs you when he's jagged and hugs you when
he ain't jagged. Preserve me from the man that ain't got the sand to
Mrs. Fink sighed.
The hallways were suddenly filled with sound. The door flew open at
the kick of Mr. Cassidy. His arms were occupied with bundles. Mame
flew and hung about his neck. Her sound eye sparkled with the love
light that shines in the eye of the Maori maid when she recovers
consciousness in the hut of the wooer who has stunned and dragged
"Hello, old girl!" shouted Mr. Cassidy. He shed his bundles and
lifted her off her feet in a mighty hug. "I got tickets for Barnum
& Bailey's, and if you'll bust the string of one of them bundles I
guess you'll find that silk waist--why, good evening, Mrs. Fink--I
didn't see you at first. How's old Mart coming along?"
"He's very well, Mr. Cassidy--thanks," said Mrs. Fink. "I must be
going along up now. Mart'll be home for supper soon. I'll bring you
down that pattern you wanted to-morrow, Mame."
Mrs. Fink went up to her flat and had a little cry. It was a
meaningless cry, the kind of cry that only a woman knows about, a
cry from no particular cause, altogether an absurd cry; the most
transient and the most hopeless cry in the repertory of grief. Why
had Martin never thrashed her? He was as big and strong as Jack
Cassidy. Did he not care for her at all? He never quarrelled; he
came home and lounged about, silent, glum, idle. He was a fairly
good provider, but he ignored the spices of life.
Mrs. Fink's ship of dreams was becalmed. Her captain ranged between
plum duff and his hammock. If only he would shiver his timbers or
stamp his foot on the quarter-deck now and then! And she had thought
to sail so merrily, touching at ports in the Delectable Isles! But
now, to vary the figure, she was ready to throw up the sponge, tired
out, without a scratch to show for all those tame rounds with her
sparring partner. For one moment she almost hated Mame--Mame, with
her cuts and bruises, her salve of presents and kisses; her stormy
voyage with her fighting, brutal, loving mate.
Mr. Fink came home at 7. He was permeated with the curse of
domesticity. Beyond the portals of his cozy home he cared not to
roam, to roam. He was the man who had caught the street car, the
anaconda that had swallowed its prey, the tree that lay as it had
"Like the supper, Mart?" asked Mrs. Fink, who had striven over it.
"M-m-m-yep," grunted Mr. Fink.
After supper he gathered his newspapers to read. He sat in his
Arise, some new Dante, and sing me the befitting corner of perdition
for the man who sitteth in the house in his stockinged feet. Sisters
of Patience who by reason of ties or duty have endured it in silk,
yarn, cotton, lisle thread or woollen--does not the new canto belong?
The next day was Labor Day. The occupations of Mr. Cassidy and Mr.
Fink ceased for one passage of the sun. Labor, triumphant, would
parade and otherwise disport itself.
Mrs. Fink took Mrs. Cassidy's pattern down early. Mame had on her
new silk waist. Even her damaged eye managed to emit a holiday
gleam. Jack was fruitfully penitent, and there was a hilarious
scheme for the day afoot, with parks and picnics and Pilsener in it.
A rising, indignant jealousy seized Mrs. Fink as she returned to her
flat above. Oh, happy Mame, with her bruises and her quick-following
balm! But was Mame to have a monopoly of happiness? Surely Martin
Fink was as good a man as Jack Cassidy. Was his wife to go always
unbelabored and uncaressed? A sudden, brilliant, breathless idea
came to Mrs. Fink. She would show Mame that there were husbands as
able to use their fists and perhaps to be as tender afterward as any
The holiday promised to be a nominal one with the Finks. Mrs. Fink
had the stationary washtubs in the kitchen filled with a two weeks'
wash that had been soaking overnight. Mr. Fink sat in his stockinged
feet reading a newspaper. Thus Labor Day presaged to speed.
Jealousy surged high in Mrs. Fink's heart, and higher still surged
an audacious resolve. If her man would not strike her--if he would
not so far prove his manhood, his prerogative and his interest in
conjugal affairs, he must be prompted to his duty.
Mr. Fink lit his pipe and peacefully rubbed an ankle with a
stockinged toe. He reposed in the state of matrimony like a lump
of unblended suet in a pudding. This was his level Elysium--to sit
at ease vicariously girdling the world in print amid the wifely
splashing of suds and the agreeable smells of breakfast dishes
departed and dinner ones to come. Many ideas were far from his
mind; but the furthest one was the thought of beating his wife.
Mrs. Fink turned on the hot water and set the washboards in the
suds. Up from the flat below came the gay laugh of Mrs. Cassidy. It
sounded like a taunt, a flaunting of her own happiness in the face
of the unslugged bride above. Now was Mrs. Fink's time.
Suddenly she turned like a fury upon the man reading.
"You lazy loafer!" she cried, "must I work my arms off washing and
toiling for the ugly likes of you? Are you a man or are you a
Mr. Fink dropped his paper, motionless from surprise. She feared
that he would not strike--that the provocation had been insufficient.
She leaped at him and struck him fiercely in the face with her
clenched hand. In that instant she felt a thrill of love for him
such as she had not felt for many a day. Rise up, Martin Fink, and
come into your kingdom! Oh, she must feel the weight of his hand
now--just to show that he cared--just to show that he cared!
Mr. Fink sprang to his feet--Maggie caught him again on the jaw with
a wide swing of her other hand. She closed her eyes in that fearful,
blissful moment before his blow should come--she whispered his name
to herself--she leaned to the expected shock, hungry for it.
In the flat below Mr. Cassidy, with a shamed and contrite face was
powdering Mame's eye in preparation for their junket. From the flat
above came the sound of a woman's voice, high-raised, a bumping, a
stumbling and a shuffling, a chair overturned--unmistakable sounds
of domestic conflict.
"Mart and Mag scrapping?" postulated Mr. Cassidy. "Didn't know they
ever indulged. Shall I trot up and see if they need a sponge holder?"
One of Mrs. Cassidy's eyes sparkled like a diamond. The other
twinkled at least like paste.
"Oh, oh," she said, softly and without apparent meaning, in the
feminine ejaculatory manner. "I wonder if--wonder if! Wait, Jack,
till I go up and see."
Up the stairs she sped. As her foot struck the hallway above out
from the kitchen door of her flat wildly flounced Mrs. Fink.
"Oh, Maggie," cried Mrs. Cassidy, in a delighted whisper; "did he?
Oh, did he?"
Mrs. Fink ran and laid her face upon her chum's shoulder and sobbed
Mrs. Cassidy took Maggie's face between her hands and lifted it
gently. Tear-stained it was, flushing and paling, but its velvety,
pink-and-white, becomingly freckled surface was unscratched,
unbruised, unmarred by the recreant fist of Mr. Fink.
"Tell me, Maggie," pleaded Mame, "or I'll go in there and find out.
What was it? Did he hurt you--what did he do?"
Mrs. Fink's face went down again despairingly on the bosom of her
"For God's sake don't open that door, Mame," she sobbed. "And don't
ever tell nobody--keep it under your hat. He--he never touched me,
and--he's--oh, Gawd--he's washin' the clothes--he's washin' the
"THE GUILTY PARTY"
A Red-haired, unshaven, untidy man sat in a rocking chair by a
window. He had just lighted a pipe, and was puffing blue clouds with
great satisfaction. He had removed his shoes and donned a pair of
blue, faded carpet-slippers. With the morbid thirst of the confirmed
daily news drinker, he awkwardly folded back the pages of an evening
paper, eagerly gulping down the strong, black headlines, to be
followed as a chaser by the milder details of the smaller type.
In an adjoining room a woman was cooking supper. Odors from strong
bacon and boiling coffee contended against the cut-plug fumes from
the vespertine pipe.
Outside was one of those crowded streets of the east side, in which,
as twilight falls, Satan sets up his recruiting office. A mighty
host of children danced and ran and played in the street. Some in
rags, some in clean white and beribboned, some wild and restless as
young hawks, some gentle-faced and shrinking, some shrieking rude
and sinful words, some listening, awed, but soon, grown familiar,
to embrace--here were the children playing in the corridors of the
House of Sin. Above the playground forever hovered a great bird. The
bird was known to humorists as the stork. But the people of Chrystie
street were better ornithologists. They called it a vulture.
A little girl of twelve came up timidly to the man reading and
resting by the window, and said:
"Papa, won't you play a game of checkers with me if you aren't too
The red-haired, unshaven, untidy man sitting shoeless by the window
answered, with a frown.
"Checkers. No, I won't. Can't a man who works hard all day have a
little rest when he comes home? Why don't you go out and play with
the other kids on the sidewalk?"
The woman who was cooking came to the door.
"John," she said, "I don't like for Lizzie to play in the street.
They learn too much there that ain't good for 'em. She's been in the
house all day long. It seems that you might give up a little of your
time to amuse her when you come home."
"Let her go out and play like the rest of 'em if she wants to be
amused," said the red-haired, unshaven, untidy man, "and don't
* * * * * * *
"You're on," said Kid Mullaly. "Fifty dollars to $25 I take Annie to
the dance. Put up."
The Kid's black eyes were snapping with the fire of the baited and
challenged. He drew out his "roll" and slapped five tens upon the
bar. The three or four young fellows who were thus "taken" more
slowly produced their stake. The bartender, ex-officio stakeholder,
took the money, laboriously wrapped it, recorded the bet with an
inch-long pencil and stuffed the whole into a corner of the cash
"And, oh, what'll be done to you'll be a plenty," said a bettor,
with anticipatory glee.
"That's my lookout," said the "Kid," sternly. "Fill 'em up all
After the round Burke, the "Kid's" sponge, sponge-holder, pal,
Mentor and Grand Vizier, drew him out to the bootblack stand at the
saloon corner where all the official and important matters of the
Small Hours Social Club were settled. As Tony polished the light tan
shoes of the club's President and Secretary for the fifth time that
day, Burke spake words of wisdom to his chief.
"Cut that blond out, 'Kid,'" was his advice, "or there'll be
trouble. What do you want to throw down that girl of yours for?
You'll never find one that'll freeze to you like Liz has. She's
worth a hallful of Annies."
"I'm no Annie admirer!" said the "Kid," dropping a cigarette ash
on his polished toe, and wiping it off on Tony's shoulder. "But I
want to teach Liz a lesson. She thinks I belong to her. She's been
bragging that I daren't speak to another girl. Liz is all right--in
some ways. She's drinking a little too much lately. And she uses
language that a lady oughtn't."
"You're engaged, ain't you?" asked Burke.
"Sure. We'll get married next year, maybe."
"I saw you make her drink her first glass of beer," said Burke.
"That was two years ago, when she used to came down to the corner of
Chrystie bare-headed to meet you after supper. She was a quiet sort
of a kid then, and couldn't speak without blushing."
"She's a little spitfire, sometimes, now," said the Kid. "I hate
jealousy. That's why I'm going to the dance with Annie. It'll teach
her some sense."
"Well, you better look a little out," were Burke's last words. "If
Liz was my girl and I was to sneak out to a dance coupled up with an
Annie, I'd want a suit of chain armor on under my gladsome rags, all
Through the land of the stork-vulture wandered Liz. Her black eyes
searched the passing crowds fierily but vaguely. Now and then she
hummed bars of foolish little songs. Between times she set her
small, white teeth together, and spake crisp words that the east
side has added to language.
Liz's skirt was green silk. Her waist was a large brown-and-pink
plaid, well-fitting and not without style. She wore a cluster ring
of huge imitation rubies, and a locket that banged her knees at the
bottom of a silver chain. Her shoes were run down over twisted high
heels, and were strangers to polish. Her hat would scarcely have
passed into a flour barrel.
The "Family Entrance" of the Blue Jay Café received her. At a table
she sat, and punched the button with the air of milady ringing for
her carriage. The waiter came with his large-chinned, low-voiced
manner of respectful familiarity. Liz smoothed her silken skirt with
a satisfied wriggle. She made the most of it. Here she could order
and be waited upon. It was all that her world offered her of the
prerogative of woman.
"Whiskey, Tommy," she said as her sisters further uptown murmur,
"Sure, Miss Lizzie. What'll the chaser be?"
"Seltzer. And say, Tommy, has the Kid been around to-day?"
"Why, no, Miss Lizzie, I haven't saw him to-day."
Fluently came the "Miss Lizzie," for the Kid was known to be one who
required rigid upholdment of the dignity of his fiancee.
"I'm lookin' for 'm," said Liz, after the chaser had sputtered under
her nose. "It's got to me that he says he'll take Annie Karlson to
the dance. Let him. The pink-eyed white rat! I'm lookin' for 'm. You
know me, Tommy. Two years me and the Kid's been engaged. Look at
that ring. Five hundred, he said it cost. Let him take her to the
dance. What'll I do? I'll cut his heart out. Another whiskey,
"I wouldn't listen to no such reports, Miss Lizzie," said the waiter
smoothly, from the narrow opening above his chin. "Kid Mullaly's not
the guy to throw a lady like you down. Seltzer on the side?"
"Two years," repeated Liz, softening a little to sentiment under
the magic of the distiller's art. "I always used to play out on the
street of evenin's 'cause there was nothin' doin' for me at home.
For a long time I just sat on doorsteps and looked at the lights
and the people goin' by. And then the Kid came along one evenin'
and sized me up, and I was mashed on the spot for fair. The first
drink he made me take I cried all night at home, and got a lickin'
for makin' a noise. And now--say, Tommy, you ever see this Annie
Karlson? If it wasn't for peroxide the chloroform limit would have
put her out long ago. Oh, I'm lookin' for 'm. You tell the Kid if
he comes in. Me? I'll cut his heart out. Leave it to me. Another
A little unsteadily, but with watchful and brilliant eyes, Liz
walked up the avenue. On the doorstep of a brick tenement a
curly-haired child sat, puzzling over the convolutions of a tangled
string. Liz flopped down beside her, with a crooked, shifting smile
on her flushed face. But her eyes had grown clear and artless of a
"Let me show you how to make a cat's-cradle, kid," she said, tucking
her green silk skirt under her rusty shoes.
And while they sat there the lights were being turned on for the
dance in the hall of the Small Hours Social Club. It was the
bi-monthly dance, a dress affair in which the members took great
pride and bestirred themselves huskily to further and adorn.
At 9 o'clock the President, Kid Mullaly, paced upon the floor with a
lady on his arm. As the Loreley's was her hair golden. Her "yes" was
softened to a "yah," but its quality of assent was patent to the
most Milesian ears. She stepped upon her own train and blushed,
and--she smiled into the eyes of Kid Mullaly.
And then, as the two stood in the middle of the waxed floor, the
thing happened to prevent which many lamps are burning nightly in
many studies and libraries.
Out from the circle of spectators in the hall leaped Fate in a green
silk skirt, under the "nom de guerre" of "Liz." Her eyes were hard
and blacker than jet. She did not scream or waver. Most unwomanly,
she cried out one oath--the Kid's own favorite oath--and in his
own deep voice; and then while the Small Hours Social Club went
frantically to pieces, she made good her boast to Tommy, the
waiter--made good as far as the length of her knife blade and the
strength of her arm permitted.
And next came the primal instinct of self-preservation--or was it
self-annihilation, the instinct that society has grafted on the
Liz ran out and down the street swift and true as a woodcock flying
through a grove of saplings at dusk.
And then followed the big city's biggest shame, its most ancient
and rotten surviving canker, its pollution and disgrace, its blight
and perversion, its forever infamy and guilt, fostered, unreproved
and cherished, handed down from a long-ago century of the basest
barbarity--the Hue and Cry. Nowhere but in the big cities does it
survive, and here most of all, where the ultimate perfection of
culture, citizenship and alleged superiority joins, bawling, in the
They pursued--a shrieking mob of fathers, mothers, lovers and
maidens--howling, yelling, calling, whistling, crying for blood.
Well may the wolf in the big city stand outside the door. Well may
his heart, the gentler, falter at the siege.
Knowing her way, and hungry for her surcease, she darted down the
familiar ways until at last her feet struck the dull solidity of the
rotting pier. And then it was but a few more panting steps--and good
mother East River took Liz to her bosom, soothed her muddily but
quickly, and settled in five minutes the problem that keeps lights
burning o' nights in thousands of pastorates and colleges.
* * * * * * *
It's mighty funny what kind of dreams one has sometimes. Poets call
them visions, but a vision is only a dream in blank verse. I dreamed
the rest of this story.
I thought I was in the next world. I don't know how I got there; I
suppose I had been riding on the Ninth avenue elevated or taking
patent medicine or trying to pull Jim Jeffries's nose, or doing some
such little injudicious stunt. But, anyhow, there I was, and there
was a great crowd of us outside the courtroom where the judgments
were going on. And every now and then a very beautiful and imposing
court-officer angel would come outside the door and call another
While I was considering my own worldly sins and wondering whether
there would be any use of my trying to prove an alibi by claiming
that I lived in New Jersey, the bailiff angel came to the door and
"Case No. 99,852,743."
Up stepped a plain-clothes man--there were lots of 'em there,
dressed exactly like preachers and hustling us spirits around just
like cops do on earth--and by the arm he dragged--whom, do you
think? Why, Liz!
The court officer took her inside and closed the door. I went up to
Mr. Fly-Cop and inquired about the case.
"A very sad one," says he, laying the points of his manicured
fingers together. "An utterly incorrigible girl. I am Special
Terrestrial Officer the Reverend Jones. The case was assigned to
me. The girl murdered her fiance and committed suicide. She had no
defense. My report to the court relates the facts in detail, all of
which are substantiated by reliable witnesses. The wages of sin is
death. Praise the Lord."
The court officer opened the door and stepped out.
"Poor girl," said Special Terrestrial Officer the Reverend Jones,
with a tear in his eye. "It was one of the saddest cases that I ever
met with. Of course she was"--
"Discharged," said the court officer. "Come here, Jonesy. First
thing you know you'll be switched to the pot-pie squad. How
would you like to be on the missionary force in the South Sea
Islands--hey? Now, you quit making these false arrests, or you'll
be transferred--see? The guilty party you've not to look for in
this case is a red-haired, unshaven, untidy man, sitting by t
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