Part 2 out of 8
shaved, he sung this song; never at any other time. His
voice was a bellowing roar, enough to make the window sashes
rattle. Just now he woke up all the lodgers in his hall
with it. It was a lamentable wail:
"No one to love, none to caress,
Left all alone in this world's wilderness."
As he paused to strop his razor, Marcus came into his room,
half-dressed, a startling phantom in red flannels.
Marcus often ran back and forth between his room and the
dentist's "Parlors" in all sorts of undress. Old Miss Baker
had seen him thus several times through her half-open door,
as she sat in her room listening and waiting. The old
dressmaker was shocked out of all expression. She was
outraged, offended, pursing her lips, putting up her head.
She talked of complaining to the landlady. "And Mr. Grannis
right next door, too. You can understand how trying it is
for both of us." She would come out in the hall after one
of these apparitions, her little false curls shaking,
talking loud and shrill to any one in reach of her voice.
"Well," Marcus would shout, "shut your door, then, if you
don't want to see. Look out, now, here I come again. Not
even a porous plaster on me this time."
On this Wednesday morning Marcus called McTeague out into
the hall, to the head of the stairs that led down to the
"Come and listen to Maria, Mac," said he.
Maria sat on the next to the lowest step, her chin
propped by her two fists. The red-headed Polish Jew, the
ragman Zerkow, stood in the doorway. He was talking
"Now, just once more, Maria," he was saying. "Tell it to us
just once more." Maria's voice came up the stairway in a
monotone. Marcus and McTeague caught a phrase from time to
"There were more than a hundred pieces, and every one of
them gold--just that punch-bowl was worth a fortune-thick,
fat, red gold."
"Get onto to that, will you?" observed Marcus. "The old
skin has got her started on the plate. Ain't they a pair
"And it rang like bells, didn't it?" prompted Zerkow.
"Sweeter'n church bells, and clearer."
"Ah, sweeter'n bells. Wasn't that punch-bowl awful heavy?"
"All you could do to lift it."
"I know. Oh, I know," answered Zerkow, clawing at his lips.
"Where did it all go to? Where did it go?"
Maria shook her head.
"It's gone, anyhow."
"Ah, gone, gone! Think of it! The punch-bowl gone, and the
engraved ladle, and the plates and goblets. What a sight it
must have been all heaped together!"
"It was a wonderful sight."
"Yes, wonderful; it must have been."
On the lower steps of that cheap flat, the Mexican woman and
the red-haired Polish Jew mused long over that vanished,
half-mythical gold plate.
Marcus and the dentist spent Washington's Birthday across
the bay. The journey over was one long agony to McTeague.
He shook with a formless, uncertain dread; a dozen times he
would have turned back had not Marcus been with him. The
stolid giant was as nervous as a schoolboy. He fancied that
his call upon Miss Sieppe was an outrageous affront. She
would freeze him with a stare; he would be shown the door,
would be ejected, disgraced.
As they got off the local train at B Street station they
suddenly collided with the whole tribe of Sieppes--the
mother, father, three children, and Trina--equipped for
one of their eternal picnics. They were to go to Schuetzen
Park, within walking distance of the station. They were
grouped about four lunch baskets. One of the children, a
little boy, held a black greyhound by a rope around its
neck. Trina wore a blue cloth skirt, a striped shirt waist,
and a white sailor; about her round waist was a belt of
imitation alligator skin.
At once Mrs. Sieppe began to talk to Marcus. He had written
of their coming, but the picnic had been decided upon after
the arrival of his letter. Mrs. Sieppe explained this to
him. She was an immense old lady with a pink face and
wonderful hair, absolutely white. The Sieppes were a
"We go to der park, Schuetzen Park, mit alle dem childern, a
little eggs-kursion, eh not soh? We breathe der freshes
air, a celubration, a pignic bei der seashore on. Ach, dot
wull be soh gay, ah?"
"You bet it will. It'll be outa sight," cried Marcus,
enthusiastic in an instant. "This is m' friend Doctor
McTeague I wrote you about, Mrs. Sieppe."
"Ach, der doktor," cried Mrs. Sieppe.
McTeague was presented, shaking hands gravely as Marcus
shouldered him from one to the other.
Mr. Sieppe was a little man of a military aspect, full of
importance, taking himself very seriously. He was a member
of a rifle team. Over his shoulder was slung a Springfield
rifle, while his breast was decorated by five bronze medals.
Trina was delighted. McTeague was dumfounded. She appeared
positively glad to see him.
"How do you do, Doctor McTeague," she said, smiling at him
and shaking his hand. "It's nice to see you again. Look,
see how fine my filling is." She lifted a corner of her lip
and showed him the clumsy gold bridge.
Meanwhile, Mr. Sieppe toiled and perspired. Upon him
devolved the responsibility of the excursion. He seemed to
consider it a matter of vast importance, a veritable
"Owgooste!" he shouted to the little boy with the black
greyhound, "you will der hound und basket number three
carry. Der tervins," he added, calling to the two smallest
boys, who were dressed exactly alike, "will releef one
unudder mit der camp-stuhl und basket number four. Dat is
comprehend, hay? When we make der start, you childern will
in der advance march. Dat is your orders. But we do not
start," he exclaimed, excitedly; "we remain. Ach Gott,
Selina, who does not arrive."
Selina, it appeared, was a niece of Mrs. Sieppe's. They were
on the point of starting without her, when she suddenly
arrived, very much out of breath. She was a slender,
unhealthy looking girl, who overworked herself giving
lessons in hand-painting at twenty-five cents an hour.
McTeague was presented. They all began to talk at once,
filling the little station-house with a confusion of
"Attention!" cried Mr. Sieppe, his gold-headed cane in one
hand, his Springfield in the other. "Attention! We
depart." The four little boys moved off ahead; the
greyhound suddenly began to bark, and tug at his leash. The
others picked up their bundles.
"Vorwarts!" shouted Mr. Sieppe, waving his rifle and
assuming the attitude of a lieutenant of infantry leading a
charge. The party set off down the railroad track.
Mrs. Sieppe walked with her husband, who constantly left her
side to shout an order up and down the line. Marcus
followed with Selina. McTeague found himself with Trina at
the end of the procession.
"We go off on these picnics almost every week," said Trina,
by way of a beginning, "and almost every holiday, too. It
is a custom."
"Yes, yes, a custom," answered McTeague, nodding; "a custom
--that's the word."
"Don't you think picnics are fine fun, Doctor McTeague?" she
continued. "You take your lunch; you leave the dirty city
all day; you race about in the open air, and when lunchtime
comes, oh, aren't you hungry? And the woods and the grass
smell so fine!"
"I don' know, Miss Sieppe," he answered, keeping his eyes
fixed on the ground between the rails. "I never went on
"Never went on a picnic?" she cried, astonished. "Oh,
you'll see what fun we'll have. In the morning father and
the children dig clams in the mud by the shore, an' we bake
them, and--oh, there's thousands of things to do."
"Once I went sailing on the bay," said McTeague. "It was in
a tugboat; we fished off the heads. I caught three
"I'm afraid to go out on the bay," answered Trina, shaking
her head, "sailboats tip over so easy. A cousin of mine,
Selina's brother, was drowned one Decoration Day. They
never found his body. Can you swim, Doctor McTeague?"
"I used to at the mine."
"At the mine? Oh, yes, I remember, Marcus told me you were a
"I was a car-boy; all the car-boys used to swim in the
reservoir by the ditch every Thursday evening. One of them
was bit by a rattlesnake once while he was dressing. He was
a Frenchman, named Andrew. He swelled up and began to
"Oh, how I hate snakes! They're so crawly and graceful--
but, just the same, I like to watch them. You know that
drug store over in town that has a showcase full of live
"We killed the rattler with a cart whip."
"How far do you think you could swim? Did you ever try?
D'you think you could swim a mile?"
"A mile? I don't know. I never tried. I guess I could."
"I can swim a little. Sometimes we all go out to the
"The Crystal Baths, huh? Can you swim across the tank?"
"Oh, I can swim all right as long as papa holds my chin up.
Soon as he takes his hand away, down I go. Don't you hate
to get water in your ears?"
"Bathing's good for you."
"If the water's too warm, it isn't. It weakens you."
Mr. Sieppe came running down the tracks, waving his cane.
"To one side," he shouted, motioning them off the track;
"der drain gomes." A local passenger train was just passing
B Street station, some quarter of a mile behind them.
The party stood to one side to let it pass. Marcus put a
nickel and two crossed pins upon the rail, and waved his hat
to the passengers as the train roared past. The children
shouted shrilly. When the train was gone, they all rushed
to see the nickel and the crossed pins. The nickel had been
jolted off, but the pins had been flattened out so that they
bore a faint resemblance to opened scissors. A great
contention arose among the children for the possession of
these "scissors." Mr. Sieppe was obliged to intervene. He
reflected gravely. It was a matter of tremendous moment.
The whole party halted, awaiting his decision.
"Attend now," he suddenly exclaimed. "It will not be soh
soon. At der end of der day, ven we shall have home
gecommen, den wull it pe adjudge, eh? A REward of merit
to him who der bes' pehaves. It is an order. Vorwarts!"
"That was a Sacramento train," said Marcus to Selina as they
started off; "it was, for a fact."
"I know a girl in Sacramento," Trina told McTeague. "She's
forewoman in a glove store, and she's got consumption."
"I was in Sacramento once," observed McTeague, "nearly eight
"Is it a nice place--as nice as San Francisco?"
"It's hot. I practised there for a while."
"I like San Francisco," said Trina, looking across the bay
to where the city piled itself upon its hills.
"So do I," answered McTeague. "Do you like it better than
living over here?"
"Oh, sure, I wish we lived in the city. If you want to go
across for anything it takes up the whole day."
"Yes, yes, the whole day--almost."
"Do you know many people in the city? Do you know anybody
named Oelbermann? That's my uncle. He has a wholesale toy
store in the Mission. They say he's awful rich."
"No, I don' know him."
"His stepdaughter wants to be a nun. Just fancy! And Mr.
Oelbermann won't have it. He says it would be just like
burying his child. Yes, she wants to enter the convent
of the Sacred Heart. Are you a Catholic, Doctor McTeague?"
"No. No, I--"
"Papa is a Catholic. He goes to Mass on the feast days once
in a while. But mamma's Lutheran."
"The Catholics are trying to get control of the schools,"
observed McTeague, suddenly remembering one of Marcus's
"That's what cousin Mark says. We are going to send the
twins to the kindergarten next month."
"What's the kindergarten?"
"Oh, they teach them to make things out of straw and
toothpicks--kind of a play place to keep them off the
"There's one up on Sacramento Street, not far from Polk
Street. I saw the sign."
"I know where. Why, Selina used to play the piano there."
"Does she play the piano?"
"Oh, you ought to hear her. She plays fine. Selina's very
accomplished. She paints, too."
"I can play on the concertina."
"Oh, can you? I wish you'd brought it along. Next time you
will. I hope you'll come often on our picnics. You'll see
what fun we'll have."
"Fine day for a picnic, ain't it? There ain't a cloud."
"That's so," exclaimed Trina, looking up, "not a single
cloud. Oh, yes; there is one, just over Telegraph Hill."
"No, it's a cloud. Smoke isn't white that way."
"'Tis a cloud."
"I knew I was right. I never say a thing unless I'm pretty
"It looks like a dog's head."
"Don't it? Isn't Marcus fond of dogs?"
"He got a new dog last week--a setter."
"Yes. He and I took a lot of dogs from his hospital out
for a walk to the Cliff House last Sunday, but we had to
walk all the way home, because they wouldn't follow. You've
been out to the Cliff House?"
"Not for a long time. We had a picnic there one Fourth of
July, but it rained. Don't you love the ocean?"
"Yes--yes, I like it pretty well."
"Oh, I'd like to go off in one of those big sailing ships.
Just away, and away, and away, anywhere. They're different
from a little yacht. I'd love to travel."
"Sure; so would I."
"Papa and mamma came over in a sailing ship. They were
twenty-one days. Mamma's uncle used to be a sailor. He was
captain of a steamer on Lake Geneva, in Switzerland."
"Halt!" shouted Mr. Sieppe, brandishing his rifle. They had
arrived at the gates of the park. All at once McTeague
turned cold. He had only a quarter in his pocket. What was
he expected to do--pay for the whole party, or for Trina and
himself, or merely buy his own ticket? And even in this
latter case would a quarter be enough? He lost his wits,
rolling his eyes helplessly. Then it occurred to him to
feign a great abstraction, pretending not to know that the
time was come to pay. He looked intently up and down the
tracks; perhaps a train was coming. "Here we are," cried
Trina, as they came up to the rest of the party, crowded
about the entrance. "Yes, yes," observed McTeague, his head
in the air.
"Gi' me four bits, Mac," said Marcus, coming up. "Here's
where we shell out."
"I--I--I only got a quarter," mumbled the dentist,
miserably. He felt that he had ruined himself forever with
Trina. What was the use of trying to win her? Destiny was
against him. "I only got a quarter," he stammered. He was
on the point of adding that he would not go in the park.
That seemed to be the only alternative.
"Oh, all right!" said Marcus, easily. "I'll pay for you,
and you can square with me when we go home."
They filed into the park, Mr. Sieppe counting them off
as they entered.
"Ah," said Trina, with a long breath, as she and McTeague
pushed through the wicket, "here we are once more, Doctor."
She had not appeared to notice McTeague's embarrassment.
The difficulty had been tided over somehow. Once more
McTeague felt himself saved.
"To der beach!" shouted Mr. Sieppe. They had checked their
baskets at the peanut stand. The whole party trooped down
to the seashore. The greyhound was turned loose. The
children raced on ahead.
From one of the larger parcels Mrs. Sieppe had drawn forth a
small tin steamboat--August's birthday present--a gaudy
little toy which could be steamed up and navigated by means
of an alcohol lamp. Her trial trip was to be made this
"Gi' me it, gi' me it," shouted August, dancing around his
"Not soh, not soh," cried Mr. Sieppe, bearing it aloft. "I
must first der eggsperimunt make."
"No, no!" wailed August. "I want to play with ut."
"Obey!" thundered Mr. Sieppe. August subsided. A little
jetty ran part of the way into the water. Here, after a
careful study of the directions printed on the cover of the
box, Mr. Sieppe began to fire the little boat.
"I want to put ut in the wa-ater," cried August.
"Stand back!" shouted his parent. "You do not know so well
as me; dere is dandger. Mitout attention he will
"I want to play with ut," protested August, beginning to
"Ach, soh; you cry, bube!" vociferated Mr. Sieppe. "Mommer,"
addressing Mrs. Sieppe, "he will soh soon be ge-whipt, eh?"
"I want my boa-wut," screamed August, dancing.
"Silence!" roared Mr. Sieppe. The little boat began to hiss
"Soh," observed the father, "he gommence. Attention! I put
him in der water." He was very excited. The perspiration
dripped from the back of his neck. The little boat was
launched. It hissed more furiously than ever. Clouds
of steam rolled from it, but it refused to move.
"You don't know how she wo-rks," sobbed August.
"I know more soh mudge as der grossest liddle fool as you,"
cried Mr. Sieppe, fiercely, his face purple.
"You must give it sh--shove!" exclaimed the boy.
"Den he eggsplode, idiot!" shouted his father. All at once
the boiler of the steamer blew up with a sharp crack. The
little tin toy turned over and sank out of sight before any
one could interfere.
"Ah--h! Yah! Yah!" yelled August. "It's go-one!"
Instantly Mr. Sieppe boxed his ears. There was a lamentable
scene. August rent the air with his outcries; his father
shook him till his boots danced on the jetty, shouting into
"Ach, idiot! Ach, imbecile! Ach, miserable! I tol' you he
eggsplode. Stop your cry. Stop! It is an order. Do you
wish I drow you in der water, eh? Speak. Silence, bube!
Mommer, where ist mein stick? He will der grossest whippun
ever of his life receive."
Little by little the boy subsided, swallowing his sobs,
knuckling his eyes, gazing ruefully at the spot where the
boat had sunk. "Dot is better soh," commented Mr. Sieppe,
finally releasing him. "Next dime berhaps you will your
fat'er better pelief. Now, no more. We will der glams ge-
dig, Mommer, a fire. Ach, himmel! we have der pfeffer
The work of clam digging began at once, the little boys
taking off their shoes and stockings. At first August
refused to be comforted, and it was not until his father
drove him into the water with his gold-headed cane that he
consented to join the others.
What a day that was for McTeague! What a never-to-be-
forgotten day! He was with Trina constantly. They laughed
together--she demurely, her lips closed tight, her little
chin thrust out, her small pale nose, with its adorable
little freckles, wrinkling; he roared with all the force of
his lungs, his enormous mouth distended, striking sledge-
hammer blows upon his knee with his clenched fist.
The lunch was delicious. Trina and her mother made a
clam chowder that melted in one's mouth. The lunch baskets
were emptied. The party were fully two hours eating. There
were huge loaves of rye bread full of grains of chickweed.
There were weiner-wurst and frankfurter sausages. There was
unsalted butter. There were pretzels. There was cold
underdone chicken, which one ate in slices, plastered with a
wonderful kind of mustard that did not sting. There were
dried apples, that gave Mr. Sieppe the hiccoughs. There
were a dozen bottles of beer, and, last of all, a crowning
achievement, a marvellous Gotha truffle. After lunch came
tobacco. Stuffed to the eyes, McTeague drowsed over his
pipe, prone on his back in the sun, while Trina, Mrs.
Sieppe, and Selina washed the dishes. In the afternoon Mr.
Sieppe disappeared. They heard the reports of his rifle on
the range. The others swarmed over the park, now around the
swings, now in the Casino, now in the museum, now invading
At half-past five o'clock Mr. Sieppe marshalled the party
together. It was time to return home.
The family insisted that Marcus and McTeague should take
supper with them at their home and should stay over night.
Mrs. Sieppe argued they could get no decent supper if they
went back to the city at that hour; that they could catch an
early morning boat and reach their business in good time.
The two friends accepted.
The Sieppes lived in a little box of a house at the foot of
B Street, the first house to the right as one went up from
the station. It was two stories high, with a funny red
mansard roof of oval slates. The interior was cut up into
innumerable tiny rooms, some of them so small as to be
hardly better than sleeping closets. In the back yard was a
contrivance for pumping water from the cistern that
interested McTeague at once. It was a dog-wheel, a huge
revolving box in which the unhappy black greyhound spent
most of his waking hours. It was his kennel; he slept in
it. From time to time during the day Mrs. Sieppe appeared
on the back doorstep, crying shrilly, "Hoop, hoop!" She
threw lumps of coal at him, waking him to his work.
They were all very tired, and went to bed early. After
great discussion it was decided that Marcus would sleep upon
the lounge in the front parlor. Trina would sleep with
August, giving up her room to McTeague. Selina went to her
home, a block or so above the Sieppes's. At nine o'clock
Mr. Sieppe showed McTeague to his room and left him to
himself with a newly lighted candle.
For a long time after Mr. Sieppe had gone McTeague stood
motionless in the middle of the room, his elbows pressed
close to his sides, looking obliquely from the corners of
his eyes. He hardly dared to move. He was in Trina's room.
It was an ordinary little room. A clean white matting was
on the floor; gray paper, spotted with pink and green
flowers, covered the walls. In one corner, under a white
netting, was a little bed, the woodwork gayly painted with
knots of bright flowers. Near it, against the wall, was a
black walnut bureau. A work-table with spiral legs stood by
the window, which was hung with a green and gold window
curtain. Opposite the window the closet door stood ajar,
while in the corner across from the bed was a tiny washstand
with two clean towels.
And that was all. But it was Trina's room. McTeague was in
his lady's bower; it seemed to him a little nest, intimate,
discreet. He felt hideously out of place. He was an
intruder; he, with his enormous feet, his colossal bones,
his crude, brutal gestures. The mere weight of his limbs,
he was sure, would crush the little bed-stead like an
Then, as this first sensation wore off, he began to feel the
charm of the little chamber. It was as though Trina were
close by, but invisible. McTeague felt all the delight of
her presence without the embarrassment that usually
accompanied it. He was near to her--nearer than he had ever
been before. He saw into her daily life, her little ways
and manners, her habits, her very thoughts. And was there
not in the air of that room a certain faint perfume that he
knew, that recalled her to his mind with marvellous
As he put the candle down upon the bureau he saw her hair-
brush lying there. Instantly he picked it up, and, without
knowing why, held it to his face. With what a delicious
odor was it redolent! That heavy, enervating odor of her
hair--her wonderful, royal hair! The smell of that little
hairbrush was talismanic. He had but to close his eyes to
see her as distinctly as in a mirror. He saw her tiny,
round figure, dressed all in black--for, curiously enough,
it was his very first impression of Trina that came back to
him now--not the Trina of the later occasions, not the Trina
of the blue cloth skirt and white sailor. He saw her as he
had seen her the day that Marcus had introduced them: saw
her pale, round face; her narrow, half-open eyes, blue like
the eyes of a baby; her tiny, pale ears, suggestive of
anaemia; the freckles across the bridge of her nose; her
pale lips; the tiara of royal black hair; and, above all,
the delicious poise of the head, tipped back as though by
the weight of all that hair--the poise that thrust out her
chin a little, with the movement that was so confiding, so
innocent, so nearly infantile.
McTeague went softly about the room from one object to
another, beholding Trina in everything he touched or looked
at. He came at last to the closet door. It was ajar. He
opened it wide, and paused upon the threshold.
Trina's clothes were hanging there--skirts and waists,
jackets, and stiff white petticoats. What a vision! For an
instant McTeague caught his breath, spellbound. If he had
suddenly discovered Trina herself there, smiling at him,
holding out her hands, he could hardly have been more
overcome. Instantly he recognized the black dress she had
worn on that famous first day. There it was, the little
jacket she had carried over her arm the day he had terrified
her with his blundering declaration, and still others, and
others--a whole group of Trinas faced him there. He went
farther into the closet, touching the clothes gingerly,
stroking them softly with his huge leathern palms. As he
stirred them a delicate perfume disengaged itself from the
folds. Ah, that exquisite feminine odor! It was not only
her hair now, it was Trina herself--her mouth, her hands,
her neck; the indescribably sweet, fleshly aroma that was a
part of her, pure and clean, and redolent of youth and
freshness. All at once, seized with an unreasoned impulse,
McTeague opened his huge arms and gathered the little
garments close to him, plunging his face deep amongst them,
savoring their delicious odor with long breaths of luxury
and supreme content.
* * * * * * * * * * *
The picnic at Schuetzen Park decided matters. McTeague
began to call on Trina regularly Sunday and Wednesday
afternoons. He took Marcus Schouler's place. Sometimes
Marcus accompanied him, but it was generally to meet Selina
by appointment at the Sieppes's house.
But Marcus made the most of his renunciation of his cousin.
He remembered his pose from time to time. He made McTeague
unhappy and bewildered by wringing his hand, by venting
sighs that seemed to tear his heart out, or by giving
evidences of an infinite melancholy. "What is my life!" he
would exclaim. "What is left for me? Nothing, by damn!"
And when McTeague would attempt remonstrance, he would cry:
"Never mind, old man. Never mind me. Go, be happy. I
Forgive what? McTeague was all at sea, was harassed with
the thought of some shadowy, irreparable injury he had done
"Oh, don't think of me!" Marcus would exclaim at other
times, even when Trina was by. "Don't think of me; I don't
count any more. I ain't in it." Marcus seemed to take
great pleasure in contemplating the wreck of his life.
There is no doubt he enjoyed himself hugely during these
The Sieppes were at first puzzled as well over this change
"Trina has den a new younge man," cried Mr. Sieppe. "First
Schouler, now der doktor, eh? What die tevil, I say!"
Weeks passed, February went, March came in very rainy,
putting a stop to all their picnics and Sunday excursions.
One Wednesday afternoon in the second week in March
McTeague came over to call on Trina, bringing his
concertina with him, as was his custom nowadays. As he got
off the train at the station he was surprised to find Trina
waiting for him.
"This is the first day it hasn't rained in weeks," she
explained, "an' I thought it would be nice to walk."
"Sure, sure," assented McTeague.
B Street station was nothing more than a little shed. There
was no ticket office, nothing but a couple of whittled and
carven benches. It was built close to the railroad tracks,
just across which was the dirty, muddy shore of San
Francisco Bay. About a quarter of a mile back from the
station was the edge of the town of Oakland. Between the
station and the first houses of the town lay immense salt
flats, here and there broken by winding streams of black
water. They were covered with a growth of wiry grass,
strangely discolored in places by enormous stains of orange
Near the station a bit of fence painted with a cigar
advertisement reeled over into the mud, while under its lee
lay an abandoned gravel wagon with dished wheels. The
station was connected with the town by the extension of B
Street, which struck across the flats geometrically
straight, a file of tall poles with intervening wires
marching along with it. At the station these were headed by
an iron electric-light pole that, with its supports and
outriggers, looked for all the world like an immense
grasshopper on its hind legs.
Across the flats, at the fringe of the town, were the dump
heaps, the figures of a few Chinese rag-pickers moving over
them. Far to the left the view was shut off by the immense
red-brown drum of the gas-works; to the right it was bounded
by the chimneys and workshops of an iron foundry.
Across the railroad tracks, to seaward, one saw the long
stretch of black mud bank left bare by the tide, which was
far out, nearly half a mile. Clouds of sea-gulls were
forever rising and settling upon this mud bank; a wrecked
and abandoned wharf crawled over it on tottering legs; close
in an old sailboat lay canted on her bilge.
But farther on, across the yellow waters of the bay,
beyond Goat Island, lay San Francisco, a blue line of hills,
rugged with roofs and spires. Far to the westward opened
the Golden Gate, a bleak cutting in the sand-hills, through
which one caught a glimpse of the open Pacific.
The station at B Street was solitary; no trains passed at
this hour; except the distant rag-pickers, not a soul was in
sight. The wind blew strong, carrying with it the mingled
smell of salt, of tar, of dead seaweed, and of bilge. The
sky hung low and brown; at long intervals a few drops of
Near the station Trina and McTeague sat on the roadbed of
the tracks, at the edge of the mud bank, making the most out
of the landscape, enjoying the open air, the salt marshes,
and the sight of the distant water. From time to time
McTeague played his six mournful airs upon his concertina.
After a while they began walking up and down the tracks,
McTeague talking about his profession, Trina listening, very
interested and absorbed, trying to understand.
"For pulling the roots of the upper molars we use the cow-
horn forceps," continued the dentist, monotonously. "We get
the inside beak over the palatal roots and the cow-horn beak
over the buccal roots--that's the roots on the outside, you
see. Then we close the forceps, and that breaks right
through the alveolus--that's the part of the socket in the
jaw, you understand."
At another moment he told her of his one unsatisfied desire.
"Some day I'm going to have a big gilded tooth outside my
window for a sign. Those big gold teeth are beautiful,
beautiful--only they cost so much, I can't afford one just
"Oh, it's raining," suddenly exclaimed Trina, holding out
her palm. They turned back and reached the station in a
drizzle. The afternoon was closing in dark and rainy. The
tide was coming back, talking and lapping for miles along
the mud bank. Far off across the flats, at the edge of the
town, an electric car went by, stringing out a long row of
diamond sparks on the overhead wires.
"Say, Miss Trina," said McTeague, after a while, "what's the
good of waiting any longer? Why can't us two get married?"
Trina still shook her head, saying "No" instinctively,
in spite of herself.
"Why not?" persisted McTeague. "Don't you like me well
"Then why not?"
"Ah, come on," he said, but Trina still shook her head.
"Ah, come on," urged McTeague. He could think of nothing
else to say, repeating the same phrase over and over again
to all her refusals.
"Ah, come on! Ah, come on!"
Suddenly he took her in his enormous arms, crushing down her
struggle with his immense strength. Then Trina gave up, all
in an instant, turning her head to his. They kissed each
other, grossly, full in the mouth.
A roar and a jarring of the earth suddenly grew near and
passed them in a reek of steam and hot air. It was the
Overland, with its flaming headlight, on its way across the
The passage of the train startled them both. Trina
struggled to free herself from McTeague. "Oh, please!
please!" she pleaded, on the point of tears. McTeague
released her, but in that moment a slight, a barely
perceptible, revulsion of feeling had taken place in him.
The instant that Trina gave up, the instant she allowed him
to kiss her, he thought less of her. She was not so
desirable, after all. But this reaction was so faint, so
subtle, so intangible, that in another moment he had doubted
its occurrence. Yet afterward it returned. Was there not
something gone from Trina now? Was he not disappointed in
her for doing that very thing for which he had longed? Was
Trina the submissive, the compliant, the attainable just the
same, just as delicate and adorable as Trina the
inaccessible? Perhaps he dimly saw that this must be so,
that it belonged to the changeless order of things--the man
desiring the woman only for what she withholds; the woman
worshipping the man for that which she yields up to him.
With each concession gained the man's desire cools; with
every surrender made the woman's adoration increases. But
why should it be so?
Trina wrenched herself free and drew back from McTeague, her
little chin quivering; her face, even to the lobes of her
pale ears, flushed scarlet; her narrow blue eyes brimming.
Suddenly she put her head between her hands and began to
"Say, say, Miss Trina, listen--listen here, Miss Trina,"
cried McTeague, coming forward a step.
"Oh, don't!" she gasped, shrinking. "I must go home," she
cried, springing to her feet. "It's late. I must. I must.
Don't come with me, please. Oh, I'm so--so,"--she could not
find any words. "Let me go alone," she went on. "You may--
you come Sunday. Good-by."
"Good-by," said McTeague, his head in a whirl at this
sudden, unaccountable change. "Can't I kiss you again?"
But Trina was firm now. When it came to his pleading--a
mere matter of words--she was strong enough.
"No, no, you must not!" she exclaimed, with energy. She was
gone in another instant. The dentist, stunned, bewildered,
gazed stupidly after her as she ran up the extension of B
Street through the rain.
But suddenly a great joy took possession of him. He had won
her. Trina was to be for him, after all. An enormous smile
distended his thick lips; his eyes grew wide, and flashed;
and he drew his breath quickly, striking his mallet-like
fist upon his knee, and exclaiming under his breath:
"I got her, by God! I got her, by God!" At the same time
he thought better of himself; his self-respect increased
enormously. The man that could win Trina Sieppe was a man
of extraordinary ability.
Trina burst in upon her mother while the latter was setting
a mousetrap in the kitchen.
"Eh? Trina? Ach, what has happun?"
Trina told her in a breath.
"Soh soon?" was Mrs. Sieppe's first comment. "Eh, well,
what you cry for, then?"
"I don't know," wailed Trina, plucking at the end of her
"You loaf der younge doktor?"
"I don't know."
"Well, what for you kiss him?"
"I don't know."
"You don' know, you don' know? Where haf your sensus gone,
Trina? You kiss der doktor. You cry, and you don' know.
Is ut Marcus den?"
"No, it's not Cousin Mark."
"Den ut must be der doktor."
Trina made no answer.
"I--I guess so."
"You loaf him?"
"I don't know."
Mrs. Sieppe set down the mousetrap with such violence that
it sprung with a sharp snap.
No, Trina did not know. "Do I love him? Do I love him?" A
thousand times she put the question to herself during the
next two or three days. At night she hardly slept, but lay
broad awake for hours in her little, gayly painted bed, with
its white netting, torturing herself with doubts and
questions. At times she remembered the scene in the
station with a veritable agony of shame, and at other times
she was ashamed to recall it with a thrill of joy. Nothing
could have been more sudden, more unexpected, than that
surrender of herself. For over a year she had thought that
Marcus would some day be her husband. They would be
married, she supposed, some time in the future, she did not
know exactly when; the matter did not take definite shape in
her mind. She liked Cousin Mark very well. And then
suddenly this cross-current had set in; this blond giant had
appeared, this huge, stolid fellow, with his immense, crude
strength. She had not loved him at first, that was certain.
The day he had spoken to her in his "Parlors" she had only
been terrified. If he had confined himself to merely
speaking, as did Marcus, to pleading with her, to wooing her
at a distance, forestalling her wishes, showing her little
attentions, sending her boxes of candy, she could have
easily withstood him. But he had only to take her in his
arms, to crush down her struggle with his enormous strength,
to subdue her, conquer her by sheer brute force, and she
gave up in an instant.
But why--why had she done so? Why did she feel the desire,
the necessity of being conquered by a superior strength?
Why did it please her? Why had it suddenly thrilled her
from head to foot with a quick, terrifying gust of passion,
the like of which she had never known? Never at his best
had Marcus made her feel like that, and yet she had always
thought she cared for Cousin Mark more than for any one
When McTeague had all at once caught her in his huge arms,
something had leaped to life in her--something that had
hitherto lain dormant, something strong and overpowering.
It frightened her now as she thought of it, this second self
that had wakened within her, and that shouted and clamored
for recognition. And yet, was it to be feared? Was it
something to be ashamed of? Was it not, after all, natural,
clean, spontaneous? Trina knew that she was a pure girl;
knew that this sudden commotion within her carried with it
no suggestion of vice.
Dimly, as figures seen in a waking dream, these ideas
floated through Trina's mind. It was quite beyond her
to realize them clearly; she could not know what they meant.
Until that rainy day by the shore of the bay Trina had lived
her life with as little self-consciousness as a tree. She
was frank, straightforward, a healthy, natural human being,
without sex as yet. She was almost like a boy. At once
there had been a mysterious disturbance. The woman within
her suddenly awoke.
Did she love McTeague? Difficult question. Did she choose
him for better or for worse, deliberately, of her own free
will, or was Trina herself allowed even a choice in the
taking of that step that was to make or mar her life? The
Woman is awakened, and, starting from her sleep, catches
blindly at what first her newly opened eyes light upon. It
is a spell, a witchery, ruled by chance alone, inexplicable
--a fairy queen enamored of a clown with ass's ears.
McTeague had awakened the Woman, and, whether she would or
no, she was his now irrevocably; struggle against it as she
would, she belonged to him, body and soul, for life or for
death. She had not sought it, she had not desired it. The
spell was laid upon her. Was it a blessing? Was it a
curse? It was all one; she was his, indissolubly, for evil
or for good.
And he? The very act of submission that bound the woman to
him forever had made her seem less desirable in his eyes.
Their undoing had already begun. Yet neither of them was to
blame. From the first they had not sought each other.
Chance had brought them face to face, and mysterious
instincts as ungovernable as the winds of heaven were at
work knitting their lives together. Neither of them had
asked that this thing should be--that their destinies, their
very souls, should be the sport of chance. If they could
have known, they would have shunned the fearful risk. But
they were allowed no voice in the matter. Why should it all
It had been on a Wednesday that the scene in the B Street
station had taken place. Throughout the rest of the week,
at every hour of the day, Trina asked herself the same
question: "Do I love him? Do I really love him? Is this
what love is like?" As she recalled McTeague--recalled
his huge, square-cut head, his salient jaw, his shock of
yellow hair, his heavy, lumbering body, his slow wits--she
found little to admire in him beyond his physical strength,
and at such moments she shook her head decisively. "No,
surely she did not love him." Sunday afternoon, however,
McTeague called. Trina had prepared a little speech for
him. She was to tell him that she did not know what had
been the matter with her that Wednesday afternoon; that she
had acted like a bad girl; that she did not love him well
enough to marry him; that she had told him as much once
McTeague saw her alone in the little front parlor. The
instant she appeared he came straight towards her. She saw
what he was bent upon doing. "Wait a minute," she cried,
putting out her hands. "Wait. You don't understand. I
have got something to say to you." She might as well have
talked to the wind. McTeague put aside her hands with a
single gesture, and gripped her to him in a bearlike embrace
that all but smothered her. Trina was but a reed before that
giant strength. McTeague turned her face to his and kissed
her again upon the mouth. Where was all Trina's resolve
then? Where was her carefully prepared little speech?
Where was all her hesitation and torturing doubts of the
last few days? She clasped McTeague's huge red neck with
both her slender arms; she raised her adorable little chin
and kissed him in return, exclaiming: "Oh, I do love you! I
do love you!" Never afterward were the two so happy as at
A little later in that same week, when Marcus and McTeague
were taking lunch at the car conductors' coffee-joint, the
former suddenly exclaimed:
"Say, Mac, now that you've got Trina, you ought to do more
for her. By damn! you ought to, for a fact. Why don't you
take her out somewhere--to the theatre, or somewhere? You
ain't on to your job."
Naturally, McTeague had told Marcus of his success with
Trina. Marcus had taken on a grand air.
"You've got her, have you? Well, I'm glad of it, old man. I
am, for a fact. I know you'll be happy with her. I
know how I would have been. I forgive you; yes, I forgive
McTeague had not thought of taking Trina to the theatre.
"You think I ought to, Mark?" he inquired, hesitating.
Marcus answered, with his mouth full of suet pudding:
"Why, of course. That's the proper caper."
"Well--well, that's so. The theatre--that's the word."
"Take her to the variety show at the Orpheum. There's a
good show there this week; you'll have to take Mrs. Sieppe,
too, of course," he added. Marcus was not sure of himself
as regarded certain proprieties, nor, for that matter, were
any of the people of the little world of Polk Street. The
shop girls, the plumbers' apprentices, the small
tradespeople, and their like, whose social position was not
clearly defined, could never be sure how far they could go
and yet preserve their "respectability." When they wished
to be "proper," they invariably overdid the thing. It was
not as if they belonged to the "tough" element, who had no
appearances to keep up. Polk Street rubbed elbows with the
"avenue" one block above. There were certain limits which
its dwellers could not overstep; but unfortunately for them,
these limits were poorly defined. They could never be sure
of themselves. At an unguarded moment they might be taken
for "toughs," so they generally erred in the other
direction, and were absurdly formal. No people have a
keener eye for the amenities than those whose social
position is not assured.
"Oh, sure, you'll have to take her mother," insisted Marcus.
"It wouldn't be the proper racket if you didn't."
McTeague undertook the affair. It was an ordeal. Never in
his life had he been so perturbed, so horribly anxious. He
called upon Trina the following Wednesday and made
arrangements. Mrs. Sieppe asked if little August might be
included. It would console him for the loss of his
"Sure, sure," said McTeague. "August too--everybody," he
"We always have to leave so early," complained Trina, "in
order to catch the last boat. Just when it's becoming
At this McTeague, acting upon a suggestion of Marcus
Schouler's, insisted they should stay at the flat over
night. Marcus and the dentist would give up their rooms to
them and sleep at the dog hospital. There was a bed there
in the sick ward that old Grannis sometimes occupied when a
bad case needed watching. All at once McTeague had an idea,
a veritable inspiration.
"And we'll--we'll--we'll have--what's the matter with having
something to eat afterward in my "Parlors?"
"Vairy goot," commented Mrs. Sieppe. "Bier, eh? And some
"Oh, I love tamales!" exclaimed Trina, clasping her
McTeague returned to the city, rehearsing his instructions
over and over. The theatre party began to assume tremendous
proportions. First of all, he was to get the seats, the
third or fourth row from the front, on the left-hand side,
so as to be out of the hearing of the drums in the
orchestra; he must make arrangements about the rooms with
Marcus, must get in the beer, but not the tamales; must buy
for himself a white lawn tie--so Marcus directed; must look
to it that Maria Macapa put his room in perfect order; and,
finally, must meet the Sieppes at the ferry slip at half-
past seven the following Monday night.
The real labor of the affair began with the buying of the
tickets. At the theatre McTeague got into wrong entrances;
was sent from one wicket to another; was bewildered,
confused; misunderstood directions; was at one moment
suddenly convinced that he had not enough money with him,
and started to return home. Finally he found himself at the
"Is it here you buy your seats?"
"Is it here--"
"What night do you want 'em? Yes, sir, here's the place."
McTeague gravely delivered himself of the formula he had
been reciting for the last dozen hours.
"I want four seats for Monday night in the fourth row from
the front, and on the right-hand side."
"Right hand as you face the house or as you face the
stage?" McTeague was dumfounded.
"I want to be on the right-hand side," he insisted,
stolidly; adding, "in order to be away from the drums."
"Well, the drums are on the right of the orchestra as you
face the stage," shouted the other impatiently; "you want to
the left, then, as you face the house."
"I want to be on the right-hand side," persisted the
Without a word the seller threw out four tickets with a
magnificent, supercilious gesture.
"There's four seats on the right-hand side, then, and you're
right up against the drums."
"But I don't want to be near the drums," protested McTeague,
beginning to perspire.
"Do you know what you want at all?" said the ticket seller
with calmness, thrusting his head at McTeague. The dentist
knew that he had hurt this young man's feelings.
"I want--I want," he stammered. The seller slammed down a
plan of the house in front of him and began to explain
excitedly. It was the one thing lacking to complete
"There are your seats," finished the seller, shoving the
tickets into McTeague's hands. "They are the fourth row
from the front, and away from the drums. Now are you
"Are they on the right-hand side? I want on the right--no,
I want on the left. I want--I don' know, I don' know."
The seller roared. McTeague moved slowly away, gazing
stupidly at the blue slips of pasteboard. Two girls took
his place at the wicket. In another moment McTeague came
back, peering over the girls' shoulders and calling to the
"Are these for Monday night?"
The other disdained reply. McTeague retreated again
timidly, thrusting the tickets into his immense wallet. For
a moment he stood thoughtful on the steps of the entrance.
Then all at once he became enraged, he did not know exactly
why; somehow he felt himself slighted. Once more he came
back to the wicket.
"You can't make small of me," he shouted over the girls'
shoulders; "you--you can't make small of me. I'll thump you
in the head, you little--you little--you little--little--
little pup." The ticket seller shrugged his shoulders
wearily. "A dollar and a half," he said to the two girls.
McTeague glared at him and breathed loudly. Finally he
decided to let the matter drop. He moved away, but on the
steps was once more seized with a sense of injury and
"You can't make small of me," he called back a last time,
wagging his head and shaking his fist. "I will--I will--I
will--yes, I will." He went off muttering.
At last Monday night came. McTeague met the Sieppes at the
ferry, dressed in a black Prince Albert coat and his best
slate-blue trousers, and wearing the made-up lawn necktie
that Marcus had selected for him. Trina was very pretty in
the black dress that McTeague knew so well. She wore a pair
of new gloves. Mrs. Sieppe had on lisle-thread mits, and
carried two bananas and an orange in a net reticule. "For
Owgooste," she confided to him. Owgooste was in a
Fauntleroy "costume" very much too small for him. Already
he had been crying.
"Woult you pelief, Doktor, dot bube has torn his stockun
alreatty? Walk in der front, you; stop cryun. Where is dot
At the door of the theatre McTeague was suddenly seized with
a panic terror. He had lost the tickets. He tore through
his pockets, ransacked his wallet. They were nowhere to be
found. All at once he remembered, and with a gasp of relief
removed his hat and took them out from beneath the
The party entered and took their places. It was absurdly
early. The lights were all darkened, the ushers stood under
the galleries in groups, the empty auditorium echoing with
their noisy talk. Occasionally a waiter with his tray and
clean white apron sauntered up and doun the aisle. Directly
in front of them was the great iron curtain of the stage,
painted with all manner of advertisements. From behind this
came a noise of hammering and of occasional loud voices.
While waiting they studied their programmes. First was
an overture by the orchestra, after which came "The
Gleasons, in their mirth-moving musical farce, entitled
'McMonnigal's Court-ship.'" This was to be followed by "The
Lamont Sisters, Winnie and Violet, serio-comiques and skirt
dancers." And after this came a great array of other
"artists" and "specialty performers," musical wonders,
acrobats, lightning artists, ventriloquists, and last of
all, "The feature of the evening, the crowning scientific
achievement of the nineteenth century, the kinetoscope."
McTeague was excited, dazzled. In five years he had not
been twice to the theatre. Now he beheld himself inviting
his "girl" and her mother to accompany him. He began to
feel that he was a man of the world. He ordered a cigar.
Meanwhile the house was filling up. A few side brackets
were turned on. The ushers ran up and down the aisles,
stubs of tickets between their thumb and finger, and from
every part of the auditorium could be heard the sharp clap-
clapping of the seats as the ushers flipped them down. A
buzz of talk arose. In the gallery a street gamin whistled
shrilly, and called to some friends on the other side of the
"Are they go-wun to begin pretty soon, ma?" whined Owgooste
for the fifth or sixth time; adding, "Say, ma, can't I have
some candy?" A cadaverous little boy had appeared in their
aisle, chanting, "Candies, French mixed candies, popcorn,
peanuts and candy." The orchestra entered, each man
crawling out from an opening under the stage, hardly larger
than the gate of a rabbit hutch. At every instant now the
crowd increased; there were but few seats that were not
taken. The waiters hurried up and down the aisles, their
trays laden with beer glasses. A smell of cigar-smoke
filled the air, and soon a faint blue haze rose from all
corners of the house.
"Ma, when are they go-wun to begin?" cried Owgooste. As he
spoke the iron advertisement curtain rose, disclosing the
curtain proper underneath. This latter curtain was quite an
affair. Upon it was painted a wonderful picture. A flight
of marble steps led down to a stream of water; two white
swans, their necks arched like the capital letter S,
floated about. At the head of the marble steps were two
vases filled with red and yellow flowers, while at the foot
was moored a gondola. This gondola was full of red velvet
rugs that hung over the side and trailed in the water. In
the prow of the gondola a young man in vermilion tights held
a mandolin in his left hand, and gave his right to a girl in
white satin. A King Charles spaniel, dragging a leading-
string in the shape of a huge pink sash, followed the girl.
Seven scarlet roses were scattered upon the two lowest
steps, and eight floated in the water.
"Ain't that pretty, Mac?" exclaimed Trina, turning to the
"Ma, ain't they go-wun to begin now-wow?" whined Owgooste.
Suddenly the lights all over the house blazed up. "Ah!"
said everybody all at once.
"Ain't ut crowdut?" murmured Mr. Sieppe. Every seat was
taken; many were even standing up.
"I always like it better when there is a crowd," said Trina.
She was in great spirits that evening. Her round, pale face
was positively pink.
The orchestra banged away at the overture, suddenly
finishing with a great flourish of violins. A short pause
followed. Then the orchestra played a quick-step strain,
and the curtain rose on an interior furnished with two red
chairs and a green sofa. A girl in a short blue dress and
black stockings entered in a hurry and began to dust the two
chairs. She was in a great temper, talking very fast,
disclaiming against the "new lodger." It appeared that this
latter never paid his rent; that he was given to late hours.
Then she came down to the footlights and began to sing in a
tremendous voice, hoarse and flat, almost like a man's. The
chorus, of a feeble originality, ran:
"Oh, how happy I will be,
When my darling's face I'll see;
Oh, tell him for to meet me in the moonlight,
Down where the golden lilies bloom."
The orchestra played the tune of this chorus a second
time, with certain variations, while the girl danced to it.
She sidled to one side of the stage and kicked, then sidled
to the other and kicked again. As she finished with the
song, a man, evidently the lodger in question, came in.
Instantly McTeague exploded in a roar of laughter. The man
was intoxicated, his hat was knocked in, one end of his
collar was unfastened and stuck up into his face, his watch-
chain dangled from his pocket, and a yellow satin slipper
was tied to a button-hole of his vest; his nose was
vermilion, one eye was black and blue. After a short
dialogue with the girl, a third actor appeared. He was
dressed like a little boy, the girl's younger brother. He
wore an immense turned-down collar, and was continually
doing hand-springs and wonderful back somersaults. The
"act" devolved upon these three people; the lodger making
love to the girl in the short blue dress, the boy playing
all manner of tricks upon him, giving him tremendous digs in
the ribs or slaps upon the back that made him cough, pulling
chairs from under him, running on all fours between his legs
and upsetting him, knocking him over at inopportune moments.
Every one of his falls was accentuated by a bang upon the
bass drum. The whole humor of the "act" seemed to consist
in the tripping up of the intoxicated lodger.
This horse-play delighted McTeague beyond measure. He
roared and shouted every time the lodger went down, slapping
his knee, wagging his head. Owgooste crowed shrilly,
clapping his hands and continually asking, "What did he say,
ma? What did he say?" Mrs. Sieppe laughed immoderately, her
huge fat body shaking like a mountain of jelly. She
exclaimed from time to time, "Ach, Gott, dot fool!" Even
Trina was moved, laughing demurely, her lips closed, putting
one hand with its new glove to her mouth.
The performance went on. Now it was the "musical marvels,"
two men extravagantly made up as negro minstrels, with
immense shoes and plaid vests. They seemed to be able to
wrestle a tune out of almost anything--glass bottles, cigar-
box fiddles, strings of sleigh-bells, even graduated brass
tubes, which they rubbed with resined fingers. McTeague
was stupefied with admiration .
"That's what you call musicians," he announced gravely.
"Home, Sweet Home," played upon a trombone. Think of that!
Art could go no farther.
The acrobats left him breathless. They were dazzling young
men with beautifully parted hair, continually making
graceful gestures to the audience. In one of them the
dentist fancied he saw a strong resemblance to the boy who
had tormented the intoxicated lodger and who had turned such
marvellous somersaults. Trina could not bear to watch their
antics. She turned away her head with a little shudder.
"It always makes me sick," she explained.
The beautiful young lady, "The Society Contralto," in
evening dress, who sang the sentimental songs, and carried
the sheets of music at which she never looked, pleased
McTeague less. Trina, however, was captivated. She grew
"You do not love me--no;
Bid me good-by and go;"
and split her new gloves in her enthusiasm when it was
"Don't you love sad music, Mac?" she murmured.
Then came the two comedians. They talked with fearful
rapidity; their wit and repartee seemed inexhaustible.
"As I was going down the street yesterday--"
"Ah! as YOU were going down the street--all right."
"I saw a girl at a window----"
"YOU saw a girl at a window."
"And this girl she was a corker----"
"Ah! as YOU were going down the street yesterday YOU
saw a girl at a window, and this girl she was a corker. All
right, go on."
The other comedian went on. The joke was suddenly evolved.
A certain phrase led to a song, which was sung with
lightning rapidity, each performer making precisely the same
gestures at precisely the same instant. They were
irresistible. McTeague, though he caught but a third of the
jokes, could have listened all night.
After the comedians had gone out, the iron advertisement
curtain was let down.
"What comes now?" said McTeague, bewildered.
"It's the intermission of fifteen minutes now."
The musicians disappeared through the rabbit hutch, and the
audience stirred and stretched itself. Most of the young
men left their seats.
During this intermission McTeague and his party had
"refreshments." Mrs. Sieppe and Trina had Queen Charlottes,
McTeague drank a glass of beer, Owgooste ate the orange and
one of the bananas. He begged for a glass of lemonade,
which was finally given him.
"Joost to geep um quiet," observed Mrs. Sieppe.
But almost immediately after drinking his lemonade Owgooste
was seized with a sudden restlessness. He twisted and
wriggled in his seat, swinging his legs violently, looking
about him with eyes full of a vague distress. At length,
just as the musicians were returning, he stood up and
whispered energetically in his mother's ear. Mrs. Sieppe
was exasperated at once.
"No, no," she cried, reseating him brusquely.
The performance was resumed. A lightning artist appeared,
drawing caricatures and portraits with incredible swiftness.
He even went so far as to ask for subjects from the
audience, and the names of prominent men were shouted to him
from the gallery. He drew portraits of the President, of
Grant, of Washington, of Napoleon Bonaparte, of Bismarck, of
Garibaldi, of P. T. Barnum.
And so the evening passed. The hall grew very hot, and the
smoke of innumerable cigars made the eyes smart. A thick
blue mist hung low over the heads of the audience. The air
was full of varied smells--the smell of stale cigars, of
flat beer, of orange peel, of gas, of sachet powders, and of
One "artist" after another came upon the stage. McTeague's
attention never wandered for a minute. Trina and her
mother enjoyed themselves hugely. At every moment they made
comments to one another, their eyes never leaving the stage.
"Ain't dot fool joost too funny?"
"That's a pretty song. Don't you like that kind of a song?"
"Wonderful! It's wonderful! Yes, yes, wonderful! That's
Owgooste, however, lost interest. He stood up in his place,
his back to the stage, chewing a piece of orange peel and
watching a little girl in her father's lap across the aisle,
his eyes fixed in a glassy, ox-like stare. But he was
uneasy. He danced from one foot to the other, and at
intervals appealed in hoarse whispers to his mother, who
disdained an answer.
"Ma, say, ma-ah," he whined, abstractedly chewing his orange
peel, staring at the little girl.
"Ma-ah, say, ma." At times his monotonous plaint reached
his mother's consciousness. She suddenly realized what this
was that was annoying her.
"Owgooste, will you sit down?" She caught him up all at
once, and jammed him down into his place. "Be quiet, den;
loog; listun at der yunge girls."
Three young women and a young man who played a zither
occupied the stage. They were dressed in Tyrolese costume;
they were yodlers, and sang in German about "mountain tops"
and "bold hunters" and the like. The yodling chorus was a
marvel of flute-like modulations. The girls were really
pretty, and were not made up in the least. Their "turn" had
a great success. Mrs. Sieppe was entranced. Instantly she
remembered her girlhood and her native Swiss village.
"Ach, dot is heavunly; joost like der old country. Mein
gran'mutter used to be one of der mos' famous yodlers. When
I was leedle, I haf seen dem joost like dat."
"Ma-ah," began Owgooste fretfully, as soon as the yodlers
had departed. He could not keep still an instant; he
twisted from side to side, swinging his legs with incredible
"Ma-ah, I want to go ho-ome."
"Pehave!" exclaimed his mother, shaking him by the arm;
"loog, der leedle girl is watchun you. Dis is der last dime
I take you to der blay, you see."
"I don't ca-are; I'm sleepy." At length, to their great
relief, he went to sleep, his head against his mother's arm.
The kinetoscope fairly took their breaths away.
"What will they do next?" observed Trina, in amazement.
"Ain't that wonderful, Mac?"
McTeague was awe-struck.
"Look at that horse move his head," he cried excitedly,
quite carried away. "Look at that cable car coming--and the
man going across the street. See, here comes a truck.
Well, I never in all my life! What would Marcus say to
"It's all a drick!" exclaimed Mrs. Sieppe, with sudden
conviction. "I ain't no fool; dot's nothun but a drick."
"Well, of course, mamma," exclaimed Trina, "it's----"
But Mrs. Sieppe put her head in the air.
"I'm too old to be fooled," she persisted. "It's a drick."
Nothing more could be got out of her than this.
The party stayed to the very end of the show, though the
kinetoscope was the last number but one on the programme,
and fully half the audience left immediately afterward.
However, while the unfortunate Irish comedian went through
his "act" to the backs of the departing people, Mrs. Sieppe
woke Owgooste, very cross and sleepy, and began getting her
"things together." As soon as he was awake Owgooste began
"Save der brogramme, Trina," whispered Mrs. Sieppe. "Take
ut home to popper. Where is der hat of Owgooste? Haf you
got mein handkerchief, Trina?"
But at this moment a dreadful accident happened to Owgooste;
his distress reached its climax; his fortitude collapsed.
What a misery! It was a veritable catastrophe, deplorable,
lamentable, a thing beyond words! For a moment he gazed
wildly about him, helpless and petrified with astonishment
and terror. Then his grief found utterance, and the closing
strains of the orchestra were mingled with a prolonged wail
of infinite sadness.
"Owgooste, what is ut?" cried his mother eyeing him with
dawning suspicion; then suddenly, "What haf you done? You
haf ruin your new Vauntleroy gostume!" Her face blazed;
without more ado she smacked him soundly. Then it was that
Owgooste touched the limit of his misery, his unhappiness,
his horrible discomfort; his utter wretchedness was
complete. He filled the air with his doleful outcries. The
more he was smacked and shaken, the louder he wept.
"What--what is the matter?" inquired McTeague.
Trina's face was scarlet. "Nothing, nothing," she exclaimed
hastily, looking away. "Come, we must be going. It's about
over." The end of the show and the breaking up of the
audience tided over the embarrassment of the moment.
The party filed out at the tail end of the audience.
Already the lights were being extinguished and the ushers
spreading druggeting over the upholstered seats.
McTeague and the Sieppes took an uptown car that would bring
them near Polk Street. The car was crowded; McTeague and
Owgooste were obliged to stand. The little boy fretted to
be taken in his mother's lap, but Mrs. Sieppe emphatically
On their way home they discussed the performance.
"I--I like best der yodlers."
"Ah, the soloist was the best--the lady who sang those sad
"Wasn't--wasn't that magic lantern wonderful, where the
figures moved? Wonderful--ah, wonderful! And wasn't that
first act funny, where the fellow fell down all the time?
And that musical act, and the fellow with the burnt-cork
face who played 'Nearer, My God, to Thee' on the beer
They got off at Polk Street and walked up a block to the
flat. The street was dark and empty; opposite the flat, in
the back of the deserted market, the ducks and geese were
As they were buying their tamales from the half-breed
Mexican at the street corner, McTeague observed:
"Marcus ain't gone to bed yet. See, there's a light in his
window. There!" he exclaimed at once, "I forgot the
doorkey. Well, Marcus can let us in."
Hardly had he rung the bell at the street door of the flat
when the bolt was shot back. In the hall at the top of the
long, narrow staircase there was the sound of a great
scurrying. Maria Macapa stood there, her hand upon the rope
that drew the bolt; Marcus was at her side; Old Grannis was
in the background, looking over their shoulders; while
little Miss Baker leant over the banisters, a strange man in
a drab overcoat at her side. As McTeague's party stepped
into the doorway a half-dozen voices cried:
"Yes, it's them."
"Is that you, Mac?"
"Is that you, Miss Sieppe?"
"Is your name Trina Sieppe?"
Then, shriller than all the rest, Maria Macapa screamed:
"Oh, Miss Sieppe, come up here quick. Your lottery ticket
has won five thousand dollars!"
"What nonsense!" answered Trina.
"Ach Gott! What is ut?" cried Mrs. Sieppe,
misunderstanding, supposing a calamity.
"What--what--what," stammered the dentist, confused by the
lights, the crowded stairway, the medley of voices. The
party reached the landing. The others surrounded them.
Marcus alone seemed to rise to the occasion.
"Le' me be the first to congratulate you," he cried,
catching Trina's hand. Every one was talking at once.
"Miss Sieppe, Miss Sieppe, your ticket has won five thousand
dollars," cried Maria. "Don't you remember the lottery
ticket I sold you in Doctor McTeague's office?"
"Trina!" almost screamed her mother. "Five tausend thalers!
five tausend thalers! If popper were only here!"
"What is it--what is it?" exclaimed McTeague, rolling his
"What are you going to do with it, Trina?" inquired Marcus.
"You're a rich woman, my dear," said Miss Baker, her little
false curls quivering with excitement, "and I'm glad for
your sake. Let me kiss you. To think I was in the room
when you bought the ticket!"
"Oh, oh!" interrupted Trina, shaking her head, "there is a
mistake. There must be. Why--why should I win five
thousand dollars? It's nonsense!"
"No mistake, no mistake," screamed Maria. "Your number was
400,012. Here it is in the paper this evening. I remember
it well, because I keep an account."
"But I know you're wrong," answered Trina, beginning to
tremble in spite of herself. "Why should I win?"
"Eh? Why shouldn't you?" cried her mother.
In fact, why shouldn't she? The idea suddenly occurred to
Trina. After all, it was not a question of effort or merit
on her part. Why should she suppose a mistake? What if it
were true, this wonderful fillip of fortune striking in
there like some chance-driven bolt?
"Oh, do you think so?" she gasped.
The stranger in the drab overcoat came forward.
"It's the agent," cried two or three voices, simultaneously.
"I guess you're one of the lucky ones, Miss Sieppe," he
said. I suppose you have kept your ticket."
"Yes, yes; four three oughts twelve--I remember."
"That's right," admitted the other. "Present your ticket at
the local branch office as soon as possible--the address is
printed on the back of the ticket--and you'll receive a
check on our bank for five thousand dollars. Your number
will have to be verified on our official list, but there's
hardly a chance of a mistake. I congratulate you."
All at once a great shrill of gladness surged up in Trina.
She was to possess five thousand dollars. She was carried
away with the joy of her good fortune, a natural,
spontaneous joy--the gaiety of a child with a new and
"Oh, I've won, I've won, I've won!" she cried, clapping her
hands. "Mamma, think of it. I've won five thousand
dollars, just by buying a ticket. Mac, what do you say to
that? I've got five thousand dollars. August, do you hear
what's happened to sister?"
"Kiss your mommer, Trina," suddenly commanded Mrs. Sieppe.
"What efer will you do mit all dose money, eh, Trina?"
"Huh!" exclaimed Marcus. "Get married on it for one thing.
Thereat they all shouted with laughter. McTeague grinned,
and looked about sheepishly. "Talk about luck," muttered
Marcus, shaking his head at the dentist; then suddenly he
"Well, are we going to stay talking out here in the hall all
night? Can't we all come into your 'Parlors,' Mac?"
"Sure, sure," exclaimed McTeague, hastily unlocking his
"Efery botty gome," cried Mrs. Sieppe, genially. "Ain't ut
"Everybody," repeated the dentist. "There's--there's some
"We'll celebrate, by damn!" exclaimed Marcus. "It ain't
every day you win five thousand dollars. It's only Sundays
and legal holidays." Again he set the company off into a
gale of laughter. Anything was funny at a time like this.
In some way every one of them felt elated. The wheel of
fortune had come spinning close to them. They were near to
this great sum of money. It was as though they too had won.
"Here's right where I sat when I bought that ticket," cried
Trina, after they had come into the "Parlors," and Marcus
had lit the gas. "Right here in this chair." She sat down
in one of the rigid chairs under the steel engraving.
"And, Marcus, you sat here----"
"And I was just getting out of the operating chair,"
interposed Miss Baker.
"Yes, yes. That's so; and you," continued Trina, pointing
to Maria, "came up and said, 'Buy a ticket in the lottery;
just a dollar.' Oh, I remember it just as plain as though
it was yesterday, and I wasn't going to at first----"
"And don't you know I told Maria it was against the law?"
"Yes, I remember, and then I gave her a dollar and put the
ticket in my pocketbook. It's in my pocketbook now at home
in the top drawer of my bureau--oh, suppose it should be
stolen now," she suddenly exclaimed.
"It's worth big money now," asserted Marcus.
"Five thousand dollars. Who would have thought it? It's
wonderful." Everybody started and turned. It was McTeague.
He stood in the middle of the floor, wagging his huge head.
He seemed to have just realized what had happened.
"Yes, sir, five thousand dollars!" exclaimed Marcus, with a
sudden unaccountable mirthlessness. "Five thousand dollars!
Do you get on to that? Cousin Trina and you will be rich
"At six per cent, that's twenty-five dollars a month,"
hazarded the agent.
"Think of it. Think of it," muttered McTeague. He went
aimlessly about the room, his eyes wide, his enormous hands
"A cousin of mine won forty dollars once," observed Miss
Baker. "But he spent every cent of it buying more tickets,
and never won anything."
Then the reminiscences began. Maria told about the butcher
on the next block who had won twenty dollars the last
drawing. Mrs. Sieppe knew a gasfitter in Oakland who had won
several times; once a hundred dollars. Little Miss Baker
announced that she had always believed that lotteries were
wrong; but, just the same, five thousand was five thousand.
"It's all right when you win, ain't it, Miss Baker?"
observed Marcus, with a certain sarcasm. What was the
matter with Marcus? At moments he seemed singularly out of
But the agent was full of stories. He told his experiences,
the legends and myths that had grown up around the history
of the lottery; he told of the poor newsboy with a dying
mother to support who had drawn a prize of fifteen thousand;
of the man who was driven to suicide through want, but who
held (had he but known it) the number that two days after
his death drew the capital prize of thirty thousand dollars;
of the little milliner who for ten years had played the
lottery without success, and who had one day declared that
she would buy but one more ticket and then give up trying,
and of how this last ticket had brought her a fortune upon
which she could retire; of tickets that had been lost or
destroyed, and whose numbers had won fabulous sums at the
drawing; of criminals, driven to vice by poverty, and who
had reformed after winning competencies; of gamblers who
played the lottery as they would play a faro bank, turning
in their winnings again as soon as made, buying thousands of
tickets all over the country; of superstitions as to
terminal and initial numbers, and as to lucky days of
purchase; of marvellous coincidences--three capital prizes
drawn consecutively by the same town; a ticket bought by a
millionaire and given to his boot-black, who won a thousand
dollars upon it; the same number winning the same amount an
indefinite number of times; and so on to infinity.
Invariably it was the needy who won, the destitute and
starving woke to wealth and plenty, the virtuous toiler
suddenly found his reward in a ticket bought at a hazard;
the lottery was a great charity, the friend of the people, a
vast beneficent machine that recognized neither rank nor
wealth nor station.
The company began to be very gay. Chairs and tables were
brought in from the adjoining rooms, and Maria was sent out
for more beer and tamales, and also commissioned to buy a
bottle of wine and some cake for Miss Baker, who abhorred
The "Dental Parlors" were in great confusion. Empty beer
bottles stood on the movable rack where the instruments were
kept; plates and napkins were upon the seat of the
operating chair and upon the stand of shelves in the corner,
side by side with the concertina and the volumes of "Allen's
Practical Dentist." The canary woke and chittered crossly,
his feathers puffed out; the husks of tamales littered the
floor; the stone pug dog sitting before the little stove
stared at the unusual scene, his glass eyes starting from
They drank and feasted in impromptu fashion. Marcus
Schouler assumed the office of master of ceremonies; he was
in a lather of excitement, rushing about here and there,
opening beer bottles, serving the tamales, slapping McTeague
upon the back, laughing and joking continually. He made
McTeague sit at the head of the table, with Trina at his
right and the agent at his left; he--when he sat down at
all--occupied the foot, Maria Macapa at his left, while next
to her was Mrs. Sieppe, opposite Miss Baker. Owgooste had
been put to bed upon the bed-lounge.
"Where's Old Grannis?" suddenly exclaimed Marcus. Sure
enough, where had the old Englishman gone? He had been
there at first.
"I called him down with everybody else," cried Maria Macapa,
"as soon as I saw in the paper that Miss Sieppe had won. We
all came down to Mr. Schouler's room and waited for you to
come home. I think he must have gone back to his room.
I'll bet you'll find him sewing up his books."
"No, no," observed Miss Baker, "not at this hour."
Evidently the timid old gentleman had taken advantage of the
confusion to slip unobtrusively away.
"I'll go bring him down," shouted Marcus; "he's got to join
Miss Baker was in great agitation.
"I--I hardly think you'd better," she murmured; "he--he--I
don't think he drinks beer."
"He takes his amusement in sewin' up books," cried Maria.
Marcus brought him down, nevertheless, having found him just
preparing for bed.
"I--I must apologize," stammered Old Grannis, as he stood
in the doorway. "I had not quite expected--I--find--
find myself a little unprepared." He was without collar and
cravat, owing to Marcus Schouler's precipitate haste. He
was annoyed beyond words that Miss Baker saw him thus.
Could anything be more embarrassing?
Old Grannis was introduced to Mrs. Sieppe and to Trina as
Marcus's employer. They shook hands solemnly.
"I don't believe that he an' Miss Baker have ever been
introduced," cried Maria Macapa, shrilly, "an' they've been
livin' side by side for years."
The two old people were speechless, avoiding each other's
gaze. It had come at last; they were to know each other, to
talk together, to touch each other's hands.
Marcus brought Old Grannis around the table to little Miss
Baker, dragging him by the coat sleeve, exclaiming: "Well, I
thought you two people knew each other long ago. Miss
Baker, this is Mr. Grannis; Mr. Grannis, this is Miss
Baker." Neither spoke. Like two little children they faced
each other, awkward, constrained, tongue-tied with
embarrassment. Then Miss Baker put out her hand shyly. Old
Grannis touched it for an instant and let it fall.
"Now you know each other," cried Marcus, "and it's about
time." For the first time their eyes met; Old Grannis
trembled a little, putting his hand uncertainly to his chin.
Miss Baker flushed ever so slightly, but Maria Macapa passed
suddenly between them, carrying a half empty beer bottle.
The two old people fell back from one another, Miss Baker
resuming her seat.
"Here's a place for you over here, Mr. Grannis," cried
Marcus, making room for him at his side. Old Grannis
slipped into the chair, withdrawing at once from the
company's notice. He stared fixedly at his plate and did
not speak again. Old Miss Baker began to talk volubly
across the table to Mrs. Sieppe about hot-house flowers and
It was in the midst of this little impromptu supper that the
engagement of Trina and the dentist was announced. In a
pause in the chatter of conversation Mrs. Sieppe leaned
forward and, speaking to the agent, said:
"Vell, you know also my daughter Trina get married bretty
soon. She and der dentist, Doktor McTeague, eh, yes?"
There was a general exclamation.
"I thought so all along," cried Miss Baker, excitedly. "The
first time I saw them together I said, 'What a pair!'"
"Delightful!" exclaimed the agent, "to be married and win a
snug little fortune at the same time."
"So--So," murmured Old Grannis, nodding at his plate.
"Good luck to you," cried Maria.
"He's lucky enough already," growled Marcus under his
breath, relapsing for a moment into one of those strange
moods of sullenness which had marked him throughout the
Trina flushed crimson, drawing shyly nearer her mother.
McTeague grinned from ear to ear, looking around from one to
another, exclaiming "Huh! Huh!"
But the agent rose to his feet, a newly filled beer glass in
his hand. He was a man of the world, this agent. He knew
life. He was suave and easy. A diamond was on his little
"Ladies and gentlemen," he began. There was an instant
silence. "This is indeed a happy occasion. I--I am glad to
be here to-night; to be a witness to such good fortune; to
partake in these--in this celebration. Why, I feel almost as
glad as if I had held four three oughts twelve myself; as if
the five thousand were mine instead of belonging to our
charming hostess. The good wishes of my humble self go out
to Miss Sieppe in this moment of her good fortune, and I
think--in fact, I am sure I can speak for the great
institution, the great company I represent. The company
congratulates Miss Sieppe. We--they--ah--They wish her every
happiness her new fortune can procure her. It has been my
duty, my--ah--cheerful duty to call upon the winners of
large prizes and to offer the felicitation of the company.
I have, in my experience, called upon many such; but never
have I seen fortune so happily bestowed as in this case.