Part 3 out of 8
The company have dowered the prospective bride. I am
sure I but echo the sentiments of this assembly when I wish
all joy and happiness to this happy pair, happy in the
possession of a snug little fortune, and happy--happy in--"
he finished with a sudden inspiration--"in the possession of
each other; I drink to the health, wealth, and happiness of
the future bride and groom. Let us drink standing up."
They drank with enthusiasm. Marcus was carried away with
the excitement of the moment.
"Outa sight, outa sight," he vociferated, clapping his
hands. "Very well said. To the health of the bride.
McTeague, McTeague, speech, speech!"
In an instant the whole table was clamoring for the dentist
to speak. McTeague was terrified; he gripped the table with
both hands, looking wildly about him.
"Speech, speech!" shouted Marcus, running around the table
and endeavoring to drag McTeague up.
"No--no--no," muttered the other. "No speech." The company
rattled upon the table with their beer glasses, insisting
upon a speech. McTeague settled obstinately into his chair,
very red in the face, shaking his head energetically.
"Ah, go on!" he exclaimed; "no speech."
"Ah, get up and say somethun, anyhow," persisted Marcus;
"you ought to do it. It's the proper caper."
McTeague heaved himself up; there was a burst of applause;
he looked slowly about him, then suddenly sat down again,
shaking his head hopelessly.
"Oh, go on, Mac," cried Trina.
"Get up, say somethun, anyhow, cried Marcus, tugging at his
arm; "you GOT to."
Once more McTeague rose to his feet.
"Huh!" he exclaimed, looking steadily at the table. Then he
"I don' know what to say--I--I--I ain't never made a speech
before; I--I ain't never made a speech before. But I'm glad
Trina's won the prize--"
"Yes, I'll bet you are," muttered Marcus.
"I--I--I'm glad Trina's won, and I--I want to--I want
to--I want to--want to say that--you're--all--welcome, an'
drink hearty, an' I'm much obliged to the agent. Trina and
I are goin' to be married, an' I'm glad everybody's here to-
night, an' you're--all--welcome, an' drink hearty, an' I
hope you'll come again, an' you're always welcome--an'--I--
an'--an'--That's--about--all--I--gotta say." He sat down,
wiping his forehead, amidst tremendous applause.
Soon after that the company pushed back from the table and
relaxed into couples and groups. The men, with the
exception of Old Grannis, began to smoke, the smell of their
tobacco mingling with the odors of ether, creosote, and
stale bedding, which pervaded the "Parlors." Soon the
windows had to be lowered from the top. Mrs. Sieppe and
old Miss Baker sat together in the bay window exchanging
confidences. Miss Baker had turned back the overskirt of
her dress; a plate of cake was in her lap; from time to time
she sipped her wine with the delicacy of a white cat. The
two women were much interested in each other. Miss Baker
told Mrs. Sieppe all about Old Grannis, not forgetting the
fiction of the title and the unjust stepfather.
"He's quite a personage really," said Miss Baker.
Mrs. Sieppe led the conversation around to her children.
"Ach, Trina is sudge a goote girl," she said; "always gay,
yes, und sing from morgen to night. Und Owgooste, he is soh
smart also, yes, eh? He has der genius for machines, always
making somethun mit wheels und sbrings."
"Ah, if--if--I had children," murmured the little old maid a
trifle wistfully, "one would have been a sailor; he would
have begun as a midshipman on my brother's ship; in time he
would have been an officer. The other would have been a
"Oh, Mac!" exclaimed Trina, looking up into the dentist's
face, "think of all this money coming to us just at this
very moment. Isn't it wonderful? Don't it kind of scare
"Wonderful, wonderful!" muttered McTeague, shaking his head.
"Let's buy a lot of tickets," he added, struck with an idea.
"Now, that's how you can always tell a good cigar,"
observed the agent to Marcus as the two sat smoking at the
end of the table. "The light end should be rolled to a
"Ah, the Chinese cigar-makers," cried Marcus, in a passion,
brandishing his fist. "It's them as is ruining the cause of
white labor. They are, they are for a FACT. Ah, the
rat-eaters! Ah, the white-livered curs!"
Over in the corner, by the stand of shelves, Old Grannis was
listening to Maria Macapa. The Mexican woman had been
violently stirred over Trina's sudden wealth; Maria's mind
had gone back to her younger days. She leaned forward, her
elbows on her knees, her chin in her hands, her eyes wide
and fixed. Old Grannis listened to her attentively.
"There wa'n't a piece that was so much as scratched," Maria
was saying. "Every piece was just like a mirror, smooth and
bright; oh, bright as a little sun. Such a service as that
was--platters and soup tureens and an immense big punch-
bowl. Five thousand dollars, what does that amount to? Why,
that punch-bowl alone was worth a fortune."
"What a wonderful story!" exclaimed Old Grannis, never for
an instant doubting its truth. "And it's all lost now, you
"Lost, lost," repeated Maria.
"Tut, tut! What a pity! What a pity!"
Suddenly the agent rose and broke out with:
"Well, I must be going, if I'm to get any car."
He shook hands with everybody, offered a parting cigar to
Marcus, congratulated McTeague and Trina a last time, and
bowed himself out.
"What an elegant gentleman," commented Miss Baker.
"Ah," said Marcus, nodding his head, "there's a man of the
world for you. Right on to himself, by damn!"
The company broke up.
"Come along, Mac," cried Marcus; "we're to sleep with the
dogs to-night, you know."
The two friends said "Good-night" all around and departed
for the little dog hospital.
Old Grannis hurried to his room furtively, terrified
lest he should again be brought face to face with Miss
Baker. He bolted himself in and listened until he heard her
foot in the hall and the soft closing of her door. She was
there close beside him; as one might say, in the same room;
for he, too, had made the discovery as to the similarity of
the wallpaper. At long intervals he could hear a faint
rustling as she moved about. What an evening that had been
for him! He had met her, had spoken to her, had touched her
hand; he was in a tremor of excitement. In a like manner
the little old dressmaker listened and quivered. HE was
there in that same room which they shared in common,
separated only by the thinnest board partition. He was
thinking of her, she was almost sure of it. They were
strangers no longer; they were acquaintances, friends. What
an event that evening had been in their lives!
Late as it was, Miss Baker brewed a cup of tea and sat down
in her rocking chair close to the partition; she rocked
gently, sipping her tea, calming herself after the emotions
of that wonderful evening.
Old Grannis heard the clinking of the tea things and smelt
the faint odor of the tea. It seemed to him a signal, an
invitation. He drew his chair close to his side of the
partition, before his work-table. A pile of half-bound
"Nations" was in the little binding apparatus; he threaded
his huge upholsterer's needle with stout twine and set to
It was their tete-a-tete. Instinctively they felt each
other's presence, felt each other's thought coming to them
through the thin partition. It was charming; they were
perfectly happy. There in the stillness that settled over
the flat in the half hour after midnight the two old people
"kept company," enjoying after their fashion their little
romance that had come so late into the lives of each.
On the way to her room in the garret Maria Macapa paused
under the single gas-jet that burned at the top of the well
of the staircase; she assured herself that she was alone,
and then drew from her pocket one of McTeague's "tapes" of
non-cohesive gold. It was the most valuable steal she
had ever yet made in the dentist's "Parlors." She told
herself that it was worth at least a couple of dollars.
Suddenly an idea occurred to her, and she went hastily to a
window at the end of the hall, and, shading her face with
both hands, looked down into the little alley just back of
the flat. On some nights Zerkow, the red-headed Polish Jew,
sat up late, taking account of the week's ragpicking. There
was a dim light in his window now.
Maria went to her room, threw a shawl around her head, and
descended into the little back yard of the flat by the back
stairs. As she let herself out of the back gate into the
alley, Alexander, Marcus's Irish setter, woke suddenly with
a gruff bark. The collie who lived on the other side of the
fence, in the back yard of the branch post-office, answered
with a snarl. Then in an instant the endless feud between
the two dogs was resumed. They dragged their respective
kennels to the fence, and through the cracks raged at each
other in a frenzy of hate; their teeth snapped and gleamed;
the hackles on their backs rose and stiffened. Their
hideous clamor could have been heard for blocks around. What
a massacre should the two ever meet!
Meanwhile, Maria was knocking at Zerkow's miserable hovel.
"Who is it? Who is it?" cried the rag-picker from within,
in his hoarse voice, that was half whisper, starting
nervously, and sweeping a handful of silver into his drawer.
"It's me, Maria Macapa;" then in a lower voice, and as if
speaking to herself, "had a flying squirrel an' let him go."
"Ah, Maria," cried Zerkow, obsequiously opening the door.
"Come in, come in, my girl; you're always welcome, even as
late as this. No junk, hey? But you're welcome for all
that. You'll have a drink, won't you?" He led her into his
back room and got down the whiskey bottle and the broken red
After the two had drunk together Maria produced the gold
"tape." Zerkow's eyes glittered on the instant. The sight
of gold invariably sent a qualm all through him; try as he
would, he could not repress it. His fingers trembled and
clawed at his mouth; his breath grew short.
"Ah, ah, ah!" he exclaimed, "give it here, give it here;
give it to me, Maria. That's a good girl, come give it to
They haggled as usual over the price, but to-night Maria was
too excited over other matters to spend much time in
bickering over a few cents.
"Look here, Zerkow," she said as soon as the transfer was
made, "I got something to tell you. A little while ago I
sold a lottery ticket to a girl at the flat; the drawing was
in this evening's papers. How much do you suppose that girl
"I don't know. How much? How much?"
"Five thousand dollars."
It was as though a knife had been run through the Jew; a
spasm of an almost physical pain twisted his face--his
entire body. He raised his clenched fists into the air, his
eyes shut, his teeth gnawing his lip.
"Five thousand dollars," he whispered; "five thousand
dollars. For what? For nothing, for simply buying a ticket;
and I have worked so hard for it, so hard, so hard. Five
thousand dollars, five thousand dollars. Oh, why couldn't
it have come to me?" he cried, his voice choking, the tears
starting to his eyes; "why couldn't it have come to me? To
come so close, so close, and yet to miss me--me who have
worked for it, fought for it, starved for it, am dying for
it every day. Think of it, Maria, five thousand dollars,
all bright, heavy pieces----"
"Bright as a sunset," interrupted Maria, her chin propped on
her hands. "Such a glory, and heavy. Yes, every piece was
heavy, and it was all you could do to lift the punch-bowl.
Why, that punch-bowl was worth a fortune alone----"
"And it rang when you hit it with your knuckles, didn't it?"
prompted Zerkow, eagerly, his lips trembling, his fingers
hooking themselves into claws.
"Sweeter'n any church bell," continued Maria.
"Go on, go on, go on," cried Zerkow, drawing his chair
closer, and shutting his eyes in ecstasy.
"There were more than a hundred pieces, and every one of
"Ah, every one of them gold."
"You should have seen the sight when the leather trunk was
opened. There wa'n't a piece that was so much as scratched;
every one was like a mirror, smooth and bright, polished so
that it looked black--you know how I mean."
"Oh, I know, I know," cried Zerkow, moistening his lips.
Then he plied her with questions--questions that covered
every detail of that service of plate. It was soft, wasn't
it? You could bite into a plate and leave a dent? The
handles of the knives, now, were they gold, too? All the
knife was made from one piece of gold, was it? And the
forks the same? The interior of the trunk was quilted, of
course? Did Maria ever polish the plates herself? When the
company ate off this service, it must have made a fine
noise--these gold knives and forks clinking together upon
these gold plates.
"Now, let's have it all over again, Maria," pleaded Zerkow.
"Begin now with 'There were more than a hundred pieces, and
every one of them gold.' Go on, begin, begin, begin!"
The red-headed Pole was in a fever of excitement. Maria's
recital had become a veritable mania with him. As he
listened, with closed eyes and trembling lips, he fancied he
could see that wonderful plate before him, there on the
table, under his eyes, under his hand, ponderous, massive,
gleaming. He tormented Maria into a second repetition of
the story--into a third. The more his mind dwelt upon it,
the sharper grew his desire. Then, with Maria's refusal to
continue the tale, came the reaction. Zerkow awoke as from
some ravishing dream. The plate was gone, was irretrievably
lost. There was nothing in that miserable room but grimy
rags and rust-corroded iron. What torment! what agony! to
be so near--so near, to see it in one's distorted fancy as
plain as in a mirror. To know every individual piece as an
old friend; to feel its weight; to be dazzled by its
glitter; to call it one's own, own; to have it to oneself,
hugged to the breast; and then to start, to wake, to come
down to the horrible reality.
"And you, YOU had it once," gasped Zerkow, clawing at
her arm; "you had it once, all your own. Think of it,
and now it's gone."
"Gone for good and all."
"Perhaps it's buried near your old place somewhere."
"It's gone--gone--gone," chanted Maria in a monotone.
Zerkow dug his nails into his scalp, tearing at his red
"Yes, yes, it's gone, it's gone--lost forever! Lost
Marcus and the dentist walked up the silent street and
reached the little dog hospital. They had hardly spoken on
the way. McTeague's brain was in a whirl; speech failed him.
He was busy thinking of the great thing that had happened
that night, and was trying to realize what its effect would
be upon his life--his life and Trina's. As soon as they had
found themselves in the street, Marcus had relapsed at once
to a sullen silence, which McTeague was too abstracted to
They entered the tiny office of the hospital with its red
carpet, its gas stove, and its colored prints of famous dogs
hanging against the walls. In one corner stood the iron bed
which they were to occupy.
"You go on an' get to bed, Mac," observed Marcus. "I'll take
a look at the dogs before I turn in."
He went outside and passed along into the yard, that was
bounded on three sides by pens where the dogs were kept. A
bull terrier dying of gastritis recognized him and began to
Marcus paid no attention to the dogs. For the first time
that evening he was alone and could give vent to his
thoughts. He took a couple of turns up and down the yard,
then suddenly in a low voice exclaimed:
"You fool, you fool, Marcus Schouler! If you'd kept Trina
you'd have had that money. You might have had it yourself.
You've thrown away your chance in life--to give up the girl,
yes--but this," he stamped his foot with rage--"to throw
five thousand dollars out of the window--to stuff it into
the pockets of someone else, when it might have been
yours, when you might have had Trina AND the money--and
all for what? Because we were pals . Oh, 'pals' is all
right--but five thousand dollars--to have played it right
into his hands--God DAMN the luck!"
The next two months were delightful. Trina and McTeague saw
each other regularly, three times a week. The dentist went
over to B Street Sunday and Wednesday afternoons as usual;
but on Fridays it was Trina who came to the city. She spent
the morning between nine and twelve o'clock down town, for
the most part in the cheap department stores, doing the
weekly shopping for herself and the family. At noon she
took an uptown car and met McTeague at the corner of Polk
Street. The two lunched together at a small uptown hotel
just around the corner on Sutter Street. They were given a
little room to themselves. Nothing could have been more
delicious. They had but to close the sliding door to shut
themselves off from the whole world.
Trina would arrive breathless from her raids upon the
bargain counters, her pale cheeks flushed, her hair blown
about her face and into the corners of her lips, her
mother's net reticule stuffed to bursting. Once in their
tiny private room, she would drop into her chair with a
"Oh, MAC, I am so tired; I've just been all OVER
town. Oh, it's good to sit down. Just think, I had to stand
up in the car all the way, after being on my feet the whole
blessed morning. Look here what I've bought. Just things
and things. Look, there's some dotted veiling I got for
myself; see now, do you think it looks pretty?"--she spread
it over her face--"and I got a box of writing paper, and a
roll of crepe paper to make a lamp shade for the front
parlor; and--what do you suppose--I saw a pair of Nottingham
lace curtains for FORTY-NINE CENTS; isn't that cheap?
and some chenille portieres for two and a half. Now what
have YOU been doing since I last saw you? Did Mr. Heise
finally get up enough courage to have his tooth pulled yet?"
Trina took off her hat and veil and rearranged her hair
before the looking-glass.
"No, no--not yet. I went down to the sign painter's
yesterday afternoon to see about that big gold tooth for a
sign. It costs too much; I can't get it yet a while.
There's two kinds, one German gilt and the other French
gilt; but the German gilt is no good."
McTeague sighed, and wagged his head. Even Trina and the
five thousand dollars could not make him forget this one
At other times they would talk at length over their plans,
while Trina sipped her chocolate and McTeague devoured huge
chunks of butterless bread. They were to be married at the
end of May, and the dentist already had his eye on a couple
of rooms, part of the suite of a bankrupt photographer.
They were situated in the flat, just back of his "Parlors,"
and he believed the photographer would sublet them
McTeague and Trina had no apprehensions as to their
finances. They could be sure, in fact, of a tidy little
income. The dentist's practice was fairly good, and they
could count upon the interest of Trina's five thousand
dollars. To McTeague's mind this interest seemed woefully
small. He had had uncertain ideas about that five thousand
dollars; had imagined that they would spend it in some
lavish fashion; would buy a house, perhaps, or would furnish
their new rooms with overwhelming luxury--luxury that
implied red velvet carpets and continued feasting. The old-
time miner's idea of wealth easily gained and quickly spent
persisted in his mind. But when Trina had begun to talk of
investments and interests and per cents, he was troubled and
not a little disappointed. The lump sum of five
thousand dollars was one thing, a miserable little twenty or
twenty-five a month was quite another; and then someone else
had the money.
"But don't you see, Mac," explained Trina, "it's ours just
the same. We could get it back whenever we wanted it; and
then it's the reasonable way to do. We mustn't let it turn
our heads, Mac, dear, like that man that spent all he won in
buying more tickets. How foolish we'd feel after we'd spent
it all! We ought to go on just the same as before; as if we
hadn't won. We must be sensible about it, mustn't we?"
"Well, well, I guess perhaps that's right," the dentist
would answer, looking slowly about on the floor.
Just what should ultimately be done with the money was the
subject of endless discussion in the Sieppe family. The
savings bank would allow only three per cent., but Trina's
parents believed that something better could be got.
"There's Uncle Oelbermann," Trina had suggested, remembering
the rich relative who had the wholesale toy store in the
Mr. Sieppe struck his hand to his forehead. "Ah, an idea,"
he cried. In the end an agreement was made. The money was
invested in Mr. Oelbermann's business. He gave Trina six per
Invested in this fashion, Trina's winning would bring in
twenty-five dollars a month. But, besides this, Trina had
her own little trade. She made Noah's ark animals for Uncle
Oelbermann's store. Trina's ancestors on both sides were
German-Swiss, and some long-forgotten forefather of the
sixteenth century, some worsted-leggined wood-carver of the
Tyrol, had handed down the talent of the national industry,
to reappear in this strangely distorted guise.
She made Noah's ark animals, whittling them out of a block
of soft wood with a sharp jack-knife, the only instrument
she used. Trina was very proud to explain her work to
McTeague as he had already explained his own to her.
"You see, I take a block of straight-grained pine and cut
out the shape, roughly at first, with the big blade; then I
go over it a second time with the little blade, more
carefully; then I put in the ears and tail with a drop of
glue, and paint it with a 'non-poisonous' paint--Vandyke
brown for the horses, foxes, and cows; slate gray for the
elephants and camels; burnt umber for the chickens, zebras,
and so on; then, last, a dot of Chinese white for the eyes,
and there you are, all finished. They sell for nine cents a
dozen. Only I can't make the manikins."
"The little figures, you know--Noah and his wife, and Shem,
and all the others."
It was true. Trina could not whittle them fast enough and
cheap enough to compete with the turning lathe, that could
throw off whole tribes and peoples of manikins while she was
fashioning one family. Everything else, however, she made--
the ark itself, all windows and no door; the box in which
the whole was packed; even down to pasting on the label,
which read, "Made in France." She earned from three to four
dollars a week.
The income from these three sources, McTeague's profession,
the interest of the five thousand dollars, and Trina's
whittling, made a respectable little sum taken altogether.
Trina declared they could even lay by something, adding to
the five thousand dollars little by little.
It soon became apparent that Trina would be an
extraordinarily good housekeeper. Economy was her strong
point. A good deal of peasant blood still ran undiluted in
her veins, and she had all the instinct of a hardy and
penurious mountain race--the instinct which saves without
any thought, without idea of consequence--saving for the
sake of saving, hoarding without knowing why. Even McTeague
did not know how closely Trina held to her new-found wealth.
But they did not always pass their luncheon hour in this
discussion of incomes and economies. As the dentist came to
know his little woman better she grew to be more and more of
a puzzle and a joy to him. She would suddenly interrupt a
grave discourse upon the rents of rooms and the cost of
light and fuel with a brusque outburst of affection that set
him all a-tremble with delight. All at once she would
set down her chocolate, and, leaning across the narrow
table, would exclaim:
"Never mind all that! Oh, Mac, do you truly, really love
me--love me BIG?"
McTeague would stammer something, gasping, and wagging his
head, beside himself for the lack of words.
"Old bear," Trina would answer, grasping him by both huge
ears and swaying his head from side to side. "Kiss me,
then. Tell me, Mac, did you think any less of me that first
time I let you kiss me there in the station? Oh, Mac, dear,
what a funny nose you've got, all full of hairs inside; and,
Mac, do you know you've got a bald spot--" she dragged his
head down towards her--"right on the top of your head."
Then she would seriously kiss the bald spot in question,
"That'll make the hair grow."
Trina took an infinite enjoyment in playing with McTeague's
great square-cut head, rumpling his hair till it stood on
end, putting her fingers in his eyes, or stretching his ears
out straight, and watching the effect with her head on one
side. It was like a little child playing with some
gigantic, good-natured Saint Bernard.
One particular amusement they never wearied of. The two
would lean across the table towards each other, McTeague
folding his arms under his breast. Then Trina, resting on
her elbows, would part his mustache-the great blond mustache
of a viking--with her two hands, pushing it up from his
lips, causing his face to assume the appearance of a Greek
mask. She would curl it around either forefinger, drawing
it to a fine end. Then all at once McTeague would make a
fearful snorting noise through his nose. Invariably--though
she was expecting this, though it was part of the game--
Trina would jump with a stifled shriek. McTeague would
bellow with laughter till his eyes watered. Then they would
recommence upon the instant, Trina protesting with a nervous
"Now--now--now, Mac, DON'T; you SCARE me so."
But these delicious tete-a-tetes with Trina were offset
by a certain coolness that Marcus Schouler began to
affect towards the dentist. At first McTeague was unaware
of it; but by this time even his slow wits began to perceive
that his best friend--his "pal"--was not the same to him as
formerly. They continued to meet at lunch nearly every day
but Friday at the car conductors' coffee-joint. But Marcus
was sulky; there could be no doubt about that. He avoided
talking to McTeague, read the paper continually, answering
the dentist's timid efforts at conversation in gruff
monosyllables. Sometimes, even, he turned sideways to the
table and talked at great length to Heise the harness-maker,
whose table was next to theirs. They took no more long
walks together when Marcus went out to exercise the dogs.
Nor did Marcus ever again recur to his generosity in
One Tuesday, as McTeague took his place at the table in the
coffee-joint, he found Marcus already there.
"Hello, Mark," said the dentist, "you here already?"
"Hello," returned the other, indifferently, helping himself
to tomato catsup. There was a silence. After a long while
Marcus suddenly looked up.
"Say, Mac," he exclaimed, "when you going to pay me that
money you owe me?"
McTeague was astonished.
"Huh? What? I don't--do I owe you any money, Mark?"
"Well, you owe me four bits," returned Marcus, doggedly. "I
paid for you and Trina that day at the picnic, and you never
gave it back."
"Oh--oh!" answered McTeague, in distress. "That's so,
that's so. I--you ought to have told me before. Here's
your money, and I'm obliged to you."
"It ain't much," observed Marcus, sullenly. "But I need all
I can get now-a-days."
"Are you--are you broke?" inquired McTeague.
"And I ain't saying anything about your sleeping at the
hospital that night, either," muttered Marcus, as he
pocketed the coin.
"Well--well--do you mean--should I have paid for that?"
"Well, you'd 'a' had to sleep SOMEWHERES, wouldn't
you?" flashed out Marcus. "You 'a' had to pay half a dollar
for a bed at the flat."
"All right, all right," cried the dentist, hastily, feeling
in his pockets. "I don't want you should be out anything on
my account, old man. Here, will four bits do?"
"I don't WANT your damn money," shouted Marcus in a
sudden rage, throwing back the coin. "I ain't no beggar."
McTeague was miserable. How had he offended his pal?
"Well, I want you should take it, Mark," he said, pushing it
"I tell you I won't touch your money," exclaimed the other
through his clenched teeth, white with passion. "I've been
played for a sucker long enough."
"What's the matter with you lately, Mark?" remonstrated
McTeague. "You've got a grouch about something. Is there
anything I've done?"
"Well, that's all right, that's all right," returned Marcus
as he rose from the table. "That's all right. I've been
played for a sucker long enough, that's all. I've been
played for a sucker long enough." He went away with a
parting malevolent glance.
At the corner of Polk Street, between the flat and the car
conductors' coffee-joint, was Frenna's. It was a corner
grocery; advertisements for cheap butter and eggs, painted
in green marking-ink upon wrapping paper, stood about on the
sidewalk outside. The doorway was decorated with a huge
Milwaukee beer sign. Back of the store proper was a bar
where white sand covered the floor. A few tables and chairs
were scattered here and there. The walls were hung with
gorgeously-colored tobacco advertisements and colored
lithographs of trotting horses. On the wall behind the bar
was a model of a full-rigged ship enclosed in a bottle.
It was at this place that the dentist used to leave his
pitcher to be filled on Sunday afternoons. Since his
engagement to Trina he had discontinued this habit.
However, he still dropped into Frenna's one or two
nights in the week. He spent a pleasant hour there, smoking
his huge porcelain pipe and drinking his beer. He never
joined any of the groups of piquet players around the
tables. In fact, he hardly spoke to anyone but the
bartender and Marcus.
For Frenna's was one of Marcus Schouler's haunts; a great
deal of his time was spent there. He involved himself in
fearful political and social discussions with Heise the
harness-maker, and with one or two old German, habitues
of the place. These discussions Marcus carried on, as was
his custom, at the top of his voice, gesticulating fiercely,
banging the table with his fists, brandishing the plates and
glasses, exciting himself with his own clamor.
On a certain Saturday evening, a few days after the scene at
the coffee-joint, the dentist bethought him to spend a quiet
evening at Frenna's. He had not been there for some time,
and, besides that, it occurred to him that the day was his
birthday. He would permit himself an extra pipe and a few
glasses of beer. When McTeague entered Frenna's back room by
the street door, he found Marcus and Heise already installed
at one of the tables. Two or three of the old Germans sat
opposite them, gulping their beer from time to time. Heise
was smoking a cigar, but Marcus had before him his fourth
whiskey cocktail. At the moment of McTeague's entrance
Marcus had the floor.
"It can't be proven," he was yelling. "I defy any sane
politician whose eyes are not blinded by party prejudices,
whose opinions are not warped by a personal bias, to
substantiate such a statement. Look at your facts, look at
your figures. I am a free American citizen, ain't I? I pay
my taxes to support a good government, don't I? It's a
contract between me and the government, ain't it? Well,
then, by damn! if the authorities do not or will not afford
me protection for life, liberty, and the pursuit of
happiness, then my obligations are at an end; I withhold my
taxes. I do--I do--I say I do. What?" He glared about
him, seeking opposition.
"That's nonsense," observed Heise, quietly. "Try it
once; you'll get jugged." But this observation of the
harness-maker's roused Marcus to the last pitch of frenzy.
"Yes, ah, yes!" he shouted, rising to his feet, shaking his
finger in the other's face. "Yes, I'd go to jail; but
because I--I am crushed by a tyranny, does that make the
tyranny right? Does might make right?"
"You must make less noise in here, Mister Schouler," said
Frenna, from behind the bar.
"Well, it makes me mad," answered Marcus, subsiding into a
growl and resuming his chair. "Hullo, Mac."
But McTeague's presence made Marcus uneasy, rousing in him
at once a sense of wrong. He twisted to and fro in his
chair, shrugging first one shoulder and then another.
Quarrelsome at all times, the heat of the previous
discussion had awakened within him all his natural
combativeness. Besides this, he was drinking his fourth
McTeague began filling his big porcelain pipe. He lit it,
blew a great cloud of smoke into the room, and settled
himself comfortably in his chair. The smoke of his cheap
tobacco drifted into the faces of the group at the adjoining
table, and Marcus strangled and coughed. Instantly his eyes
"Say, for God's sake," he vociferated, "choke off on that
pipe! If you've got to smoke rope like that, smoke it in a
crowd of muckers; don't come here amongst gentlemen."
"Shut up, Schouler!" observed Heise in a low voice.
McTeague was stunned by the suddenness of the attack. He
took his pipe from his mouth, and stared blankly at Marcus;
his lips moved, but he said no word. Marcus turned his back
on him, and the dentist resumed his pipe.
But Marcus was far from being appeased. McTeague could not
hear the talk that followed between him and the harness-
maker, but it seemed to him that Marcus was telling Heise of
some injury, some grievance, and that the latter was trying
to pacify him. All at once their talk grew louder. Heise
laid a retaining hand upon his companion's coat sleeve,
but Marcus swung himself around in his chair, and, fixing
his eyes on McTeague, cried as if in answer to some
protestation on the part of Heise:
"All I know is that I've been soldiered out of five thousand
McTeague gaped at him, bewildered. He removed his pipe from
his mouth a second time, and stared at Marcus with eyes full
of trouble and perplexity.
"If I had my rights," cried Marcus, bitterly, "I'd have part
of that money. It's my due--it's only justice." The
dentist still kept silence.
"If it hadn't been for me," Marcus continued, addressing
himself directly to McTeague, "you wouldn't have had a cent
of it--no, not a cent. Where's my share, I'd like to know?
Where do I come in? No, I ain't in it any more. I've been
played for a sucker, an' now that you've got all you can out
of me, now that you've done me out of my girl and out of my
money, you give me the go-by. Why, where would you have
been TO-DAY if it hadn't been for me?" Marcus shouted
in a sudden exasperation, "You'd a been plugging teeth at
two bits an hour. Ain't you got any gratitude? Ain't you
got any sense of decency?"
"Ah, hold up, Schouler," grumbled Heise. "You don't want to
get into a row."
"No, I don't, Heise," returned Marcus, with a plaintive,
aggrieved air. "But it's too much sometimes when you think
of it. He stole away my girl's affections, and now that
he's rich and prosperous, and has got five thousand dollars
that I might have had, he gives me the go-by; he's played me
for a sucker. Look here," he cried, turning again to
McTeague, "do I get any of that money?"
"It ain't mine to give," answered McTeague. "You're drunk,
that's what you are."
"Do I get any of that money?" cried Marcus, persistently.
The dentist shook his head. "No, you don't get any of it."
"Now--NOW," clamored the other, turning to the harness-
maker, as though this explained everything. "Look at that,
look at that. Well, I've done with you from now on."
Marcus had risen to his feet by this time and made as if to
leave, but at every instant he came back, shouting his
phrases into McTeague's face, moving off again as he spoke
the last words, in order to give them better effect.
"This settles it right here. I've done with you. Don't you
ever dare speak to me again"--his voice was shaking with
fury--"and don't you sit at my table in the restaurant
again. I'm sorry I ever lowered myself to keep company with
such dirt. Ah, one-horse dentist! Ah, ten-cent zinc-
plugger--hoodlum--MUCKER! Get your damn smoke outa my
Then matters reached a sudden climax. In his agitation the
dentist had been pulling hard on his pipe, and as Marcus for
the last time thrust his face close to his own, McTeague, in
opening his lips to reply, blew a stifling, acrid cloud
directly in Marcus Schouler's eyes. Marcus knocked the pipe
from his fingers with a sudden flash of his hand; it spun
across the room and broke into a dozen fragments in a far
McTeague rose to his feet, his eyes wide. But as yet he was
not angry, only surprised, taken all aback by the suddenness
of Marcus Schouler's outbreak as well as by its
unreasonableness. Why had Marcus broken his pipe? What did
it all mean, anyway? As he rose the dentist made a vague
motion with his right hand. Did Marcus misinterpret it as a
gesture of menace? He sprang back as though avoiding a
blow. All at once there was a cry. Marcus had made a quick,
peculiar motion, swinging his arm upward with a wide and
sweeping gesture; his jack-knife lay open in his palm; it
shot forward as he flung it, glinted sharply by McTeague's
head, and struck quivering into the wall behind.
A sudden chill ran through the room; the others stood
transfixed, as at the swift passage of some cold and deadly
wind. Death had stooped there for an instant, had stooped
and past, leaving a trail of terror and confusion. Then the
door leading to the street slammed; Marcus had disappeared.
Thereon a great babel of exclamation arose. The tension
of that all but fatal instant snapped, and speech
became once more possible.
"He would have knifed you."
"What kind of a man do you call THAT?"
"'Tain't his fault he ain't a murderer."
"I'd have him up for it."
"And they two have been the greatest kind of friends."
"He didn't touch you, did he?"
"What a--what a devil! What treachery! A regular greaser
"Look out he don't stab you in the back. If that's the kind
of man he is, you never can tell."
Frenna drew the knife from the wall.
"Guess I'll keep this toad-stabber," he observed. "That
fellow won't come round for it in a hurry; goodsized blade,
too." The group examined it with intense interest.
"Big enough to let the life out of any man," observed Heise.
"What--what--what did he do it for?" stammered McTeague. "I
got no quarrel with him."
He was puzzled and harassed by the strangeness of it all.
Marcus would have killed him; had thrown his knife at him in
the true, uncanny "greaser" style. It was inexplicable.
McTeague sat down again, looking stupidly about on the
floor. In a corner of the room his eye encountered his
broken pipe, a dozen little fragments of painted porcelain
and the stem of cherry wood and amber.
At that sight his tardy wrath, ever lagging behind the
original affront, suddenly blazed up. Instantly his huge
jaws clicked together.
"He can't make small of ME," he exclaimed, suddenly.
"I'll show Marcus Schouler--I'll show him--I'll----"
He got up and clapped on his hat.
"Now, Doctor," remonstrated Heise, standing between him and
the door, "don't go make a fool of yourself."
"Let 'um alone," joined in Frenna, catching the dentist
by the arm; "he's full, anyhow."
"He broke my pipe," answered McTeague.
It was this that had roused him. The thrown knife, the
attempt on his life, was beyond his solution; but the
breaking of his pipe he understood clearly enough.
"I'll show him," he exclaimed.
As though they had been little children, McTeague set Frenna
and the harness-maker aside, and strode out at the door like
a raging elephant. Heise stood rubbing his shoulder.
"Might as well try to stop a locomotive," he muttered. "The
man's made of iron."
Meanwhile, McTeague went storming up the street toward the
flat, wagging his head and grumbling to himself. Ah, Marcus
would break his pipe, would he? Ah, he was a zinc-plugger,
was he? He'd show Marcus Schouler. No one should make small
of him. He tramped up the stairs to Marcus's room. The
door was locked. The dentist put one enormous hand on the
knob and pushed the door in, snapping the wood-work, tearing
off the lock. Nobody--the room was dark and empty. Never
mind, Marcus would have to come home some time that night.
McTeague would go down and wait for him in his "Parlors."
He was bound to hear him as he came up the stairs.
As McTeague reached his room he stumbled over, in the
darkness, a big packing-box that stood in the hallway just
outside his door. Puzzled, he stepped over it, and lighting
the gas in his room, dragged it inside and examined it.
It was addressed to him. What could it mean? He was
expecting nothing. Never since he had first furnished his
room had packing-cases been left for him in this fashion.
No mistake was possible. There were his name and address
unmistakably. "Dr. McTeague, dentist--Polk Street, San
Francisco, Cal.," and the red Wells Fargo tag.
Seized with the joyful curiosity of an overgrown boy, he
pried off the boards with the corner of his fireshovel. The
case was stuffed full of excelsior. On the top lay an
envelope addressed to him in Trina's handwriting. He
opened it and read, "For my dear Mac's birthday, from
Trina;" and below, in a kind of post-script, "The man will
be round to-morrow to put it in place." McTeague tore away
the excelsior. Suddenly he uttered an exclamation.
It was the Tooth--the famous golden molar with its huge
prongs--his sign, his ambition, the one unrealized dream of
his life; and it was French gilt, too, not the cheap German
gilt that was no good. Ah, what a dear little woman was
this Trina, to keep so quiet, to remember his birthday!
"Ain't she--ain't she just a--just a JEWEL," exclaimed
McTeague under his breath, "a JEWEL--yes, just a
JEWEL; that's the word."
Very carefully he removed the rest of the excelsior, and
lifting the ponderous Tooth from its box, set it upon the
marble-top centre table. How immense it looked in that
little room! The thing was tremendous, overpowering--the
tooth of a gigantic fossil, golden and dazzling. Beside it
everything seemed dwarfed. Even McTeague himself, big boned
and enormous as he was, shrank and dwindled in the presence
of the monster. As for an instant he bore it in his hands,
it was like a puny Gulliver struggling with the molar of
some vast Brobdingnag.
The dentist circled about that golden wonder, gasping with
delight and stupefaction, touching it gingerly with his
hands as if it were something sacred. At every moment his
thought returned to Trina. No, never was there such a
little woman as his--the very thing he wanted--how had she
remembered? And the money, where had that come from? No
one knew better than he how expensive were these signs; not
another dentist on Polk Street could afford one. Where,
then, had Trina found the money? It came out of her five
thousand dollars, no doubt.
But what a wonderful, beautiful tooth it was, to be sure,
bright as a mirror, shining there in its coat of French
gilt, as if with a light of its own! No danger of that
tooth turning black with the weather, as did the cheap
German gilt impostures. What would that other dentist, that
poser, that rider of bicycles, that courser of
greyhounds, say when he should see this marvellous molar run
out from McTeague's bay window like a flag of defiance? No
doubt he would suffer veritable convulsions of envy; would
be positively sick with jealousy. If McTeague could only
see his face at the moment!
For a whole hour the dentist sat there in his little
"Parlor," gazing ecstatically at his treasure, dazzled,
supremely content. The whole room took on a different
aspect because of it. The stone pug dog before the little
stove reflected it in his protruding eyes; the canary woke
and chittered feebly at this new gilt, so much brighter than
the bars of its little prison. Lorenzo de' Medici, in the
steel engraving, sitting in the heart of his court, seemed
to ogle the thing out of the corner of one eye, while the
brilliant colors of the unused rifle manufacturer's calendar
seemed to fade and pale in the brilliance of this greater
At length, long after midnight, the dentist started to go to
bed, undressing himself with his eyes still fixed on the
great tooth. All at once he heard Marcus Schouler's foot on
the stairs; he started up with his fists clenched, but
immediately dropped back upon the bed-lounge with a gesture
He was in no truculent state of mind now. He could not
reinstate himself in that mood of wrath wherein he had left
the corner grocery. The tooth had changed all that. What
was Marcus Schouler's hatred to him, who had Trina's
affection? What did he care about a broken pipe now that he
had the tooth? Let him go. As Frenna said, he was not worth
it. He heard Marcus come out into the hall, shouting
aggrievedly to anyone within sound of his voice:
"An' now he breaks into my room--into my room, by damn! How
do I know how many things he's stolen? It's come to stealing
from me, now, has it?" He went into his room, banging his
McTeague looked upward at the ceiling, in the direction of
the voice, muttering:
"Ah, go to bed, you."
He went to bed himself, turning out the gas, but leaving the
window-curtains up so that he could see the tooth the
last thing before he went to sleep and the first thing as he
arose in the morning.
But he was restless during the night. Every now and then he
was awakened by noises to which he had long since become
accustomed. Now it was the cackling of the geese in the
deserted market across the street; now it was the stoppage
of the cable, the sudden silence coming almost like a shock;
and now it was the infuriated barking of the dogs in the
back yard--Alec, the Irish setter, and the collie that
belonged to the branch post-office raging at each other
through the fence, snarling their endless hatred into each
other's faces. As often as he woke, McTeague turned and
looked for the tooth, with a sudden suspicion that he had
only that moment dreamed the whole business. But he always
found it--Trina's gift, his birthday from his little woman--
a huge, vague bulk, looming there through the half darkness
in the centre of the room, shining dimly out as if with some
mysterious light of its own.
Trina and McTeague were married on the first day of June, in
the photographer's rooms that the dentist had rented. All
through May the Sieppe household had been turned upside
down. The little box of a house vibrated with excitement
and confusion, for not only were the preparations for
Trina's marriage to be made, but also the preliminaries were
to be arranged for the hegira of the entire Sieppe family.
They were to move to the southern part of the State the
day after Trina's marriage, Mr. Sieppe having bought a third
interest in an upholstering business in the suburbs of Los
Angeles. It was possible that Marcus Schouler would go with
Not Stanley penetrating for the first time into the Dark
Continent, not Napoleon leading his army across the Alps,
was more weighted with responsibility, more burdened with
care, more overcome with the sense of the importance of his
undertaking, than was Mr. Sieppe during this period of
preparation. From dawn to dark, from dark to early dawn, he
toiled and planned and fretted, organizing and reorganizing,
projecting and devising. The trunks were lettered, A, B, and
C, the packages and smaller bundles numbered. Each member
of the family had his especial duty to perform, his
particular bundles to oversee. Not a detail was forgotten--
fares, prices, and tips were calculated to two places of
decimals. Even the amount of food that it would be
necessary to carry for the black greyhound was determined.
Mrs. Sieppe was to look after the lunch, "der gomisariat."
Mr. Sieppe would assume charge of the checks, the money, the
tickets, and, of course, general supervision. The twins
would be under the command of Owgooste, who, in turn, would
report for orders to his father.
Day in and day out these minutiae were rehearsed. The
children were drilled in their parts with a military
exactitude; obedience and punctuality became cardinal
virtues. The vast importance of the undertaking was
insisted upon with scrupulous iteration. It was a
manoeuvre, an army changing its base of operations, a
veritable tribal migration.
On the other hand, Trina's little room was the centre around
which revolved another and different order of things. The
dressmaker came and went, congratulatory visitors invaded
the little front parlor, the chatter of unfamiliar voices
resounded from the front steps; bonnet-boxes and yards of
dress-goods littered the beds and chairs; wrapping paper,
tissue paper, and bits of string strewed the floor; a pair
of white satin slippers stood on a corner of the toilet
table; lengths of white veiling, like a snow-flurry,
buried the little work-table; and a mislaid box of
artificial orange blossoms was finally discovered behind the
The two systems of operation often clashed and tangled. Mrs.
Sieppe was found by her harassed husband helping Trina with
the waist of her gown when she should have been slicing cold
chicken in the kitchen. Mr. Sieppe packed his frock coat,
which he would have to wear at the wedding, at the very
bottom of "Trunk C." The minister, who called to offer his
congratulations and to make arrangements, was mistaken for
McTeague came and went furtively, dizzied and made uneasy by
all this bustle. He got in the way; he trod upon and tore
breadths of silk; he tried to help carry the packing-boxes,
and broke the hall gas fixture; he came in upon Trina and
the dress-maker at an ill-timed moment, and retiring
precipitately, overturned the piles of pictures stacked in
There was an incessant going and coming at every moment of
the day, a great calling up and down stairs, a shouting from
room to room, an opening and shutting of doors, and an
intermittent sound of hammering from the laundry, where Mr.
Sieppe in his shirt sleeves labored among the packing-boxes.
The twins clattered about on the carpetless floors of the
denuded rooms. Owgooste was smacked from hour to hour, and
wept upon the front stairs; the dressmaker called over the
banisters for a hot flatiron; expressmen tramped up and down
the stairway. Mrs. Sieppe stopped in the preparation of the
lunches to call "Hoop, Hoop" to the greyhound, throwing
lumps of coal. The dog-wheel creaked, the front door bell
rang, delivery wagons rumbled away, windows rattled--the
little house was in a positive uproar.
Almost every day of the week now Trina was obliged to run
over to town and meet McTeague. No more philandering over
their lunch now-a-days. It was business now. They haunted
the house-furnishing floors of the great department houses,
inspecting and pricing ranges, hardware, china, and the
like. They rented the photographer's rooms furnished, and
fortunately only the kitchen and dining-room utensils had to
The money for this as well as for her trousseau came
out of Trina's five thousand dollars. For it had been
finally decided that two hundred dollars of this amount
should be devoted to the establishment of the new household.
Now that Trina had made her great winning, Mr. Sieppe no
longer saw the necessity of dowering her further, especially
when he considered the enormous expense to which he would be
put by the voyage of his own family.
It had been a dreadful wrench for Trina to break in upon her
precious five thousand. She clung to this sum with a
tenacity that was surprising; it had become for her a thing
miraculous, a god-from-the-machine, suddenly descending upon
the stage of her humble little life; she regarded it as
something almost sacred and inviolable. Never, never should
a penny of it be spent. Before she could be induced to part
with two hundred dollars of it, more than one scene had been
enacted between her and her parents.
Did Trina pay for the golden tooth out of this two hundred?
Later on, the dentist often asked her about it, but Trina
invariably laughed in his face, declaring that it was her
secret. McTeague never found out.
One day during this period McTeague told Trina about his
affair with Marcus. Instantly she was aroused.
"He threw his knife at you! The coward! He wouldn't of dared
stand up to you like a man. Oh, Mac, suppose he HAD hit
"Came within an inch of my head," put in McTeague, proudly.
"Think of it!" she gasped; "and he wanted part of my money.
Well, I do like his cheek; part of my five thousand! Why,
it's mine, every single penny of it. Marcus hasn't the least
bit of right to it. It's mine, mine.--I mean, it's ours,
The elder Sieppes, however, made excuses for Marcus. He had
probably been drinking a good deal and didn't know what he
was about. He had a dreadful temper, anyhow. Maybe he only
wanted to scare McTeague.
The week before the marriage the two men were reconciled.
Mrs. Sieppe brought them together in the front parlor
of the B Street house.
"Now, you two fellers, don't be dot foolish. Schake hands
und maig ut oop, soh."
Marcus muttered an apology. McTeague, miserably
embarrassed, rolled his eyes about the room, murmuring,
"That's all right--that's all right--that's all right."
However, when it was proposed that Marcus should be
McTeague's best man, he flashed out again with renewed
violence. Ah, no! ah, NO! He'd make up with the
dentist now that he was going away, but he'd be damned--yes,
he would--before he'd be his best man. That was rubbing it
in. Let him get Old Grannis.
"I'm friends with um all right," vociferated Marcus, "but
I'll not stand up with um. I'll not be ANYBODY'S best
man, I won't."
The wedding was to be very quiet; Trina preferred it that
way. McTeague would invite only Miss Baker and Heise the
harness-maker. The Sieppes sent cards to Selina, who was
counted on to furnish the music; to Marcus, of course; and
to Uncle Oelbermann.
At last the great day, the first of June, arrived. The
Sieppes had packed their last box and had strapped the last
trunk. Trina's two trunks had already been sent to her new
home--the remodelled photographer's rooms. The B Street
house was deserted; the whole family came over to the city
on the last day of May and stopped over night at one of the
cheap downtown hotels. Trina would be married the following
evening, and immediately after the wedding supper the
Sieppes would leave for the South.
McTeague spent the day in a fever of agitation, frightened
out of his wits each time that Old Grannis left his elbow.
Old Grannis was delighted beyond measure at the prospect of
acting the part of best man in the ceremony. This wedding
in which he was to figure filled his mind with vague ideas
and half-formed thoughts. He found himself continually
wondering what Miss Baker would think of it. During all
that day he was in a reflective mood.
"Marriage is a--a noble institution, is it not, Doctor?" he
observed to McTeague. "The--the foundation of society.
It is not good that man should be alone. No, no," he added,
pensively, "it is not good."
"Huh? Yes, yes," McTeague answered, his eyes in the air,
hardly hearing him. "Do you think the rooms are all right?
Let's go in and look at them again."
They went down the hall to where the new rooms were
situated, and the dentist inspected them for the twentieth
The rooms were three in number--first, the sitting-room,
which was also the dining-room; then the bedroom, and back
of this the tiny kitchen.
The sitting-room was particularly charming. Clean matting
covered the floor, and two or three bright colored rugs were
scattered here and there. The backs of the chairs were hung
with knitted worsted tidies, very gay. The bay window
should have been occupied by Trina's sewing machine, but
this had been moved to the other side of the room to give
place to a little black walnut table with spiral legs,
before which the pair were to be married. In one corner
stood the parlor melodeon, a family possession of the
Sieppes, but given now to Trina as one of her parents'
wedding presents. Three pictures hung upon the walls. Two
were companion pieces. One of these represented a little
boy wearing huge spectacles and trying to smoke an enormous
pipe. This was called "I'm Grandpa," the title being
printed in large black letters; the companion picture was
entitled "I'm Grandma," a little girl in cap and "specs,"
wearing mitts, and knitting. These pictures were hung on
either side of the mantelpiece. The other picture was quite
an affair, very large and striking. It was a colored
lithograph of two little golden-haired girls in their night-
gowns. They were kneeling down and saying their prayers;
their eyes--very large and very blue--rolled upward. This
picture had for name, "Faith," and was bordered with a red
plush mat and a frame of imitation beaten brass.
A door hung with chenille portieres--a bargain at two
dollars and a half--admitted one to the bedroom. The
bedroom could boast a carpet, three-ply ingrain, the design
being bunches of red and green flowers in yellow
baskets on a white ground. The wall-paper was admirable--
hundreds and hundreds of tiny Japanese mandarins, all
identically alike, helping hundreds of almond-eyed ladies
into hundreds of impossible junks, while hundreds of bamboo
palms overshadowed the pair, and hundreds of long-legged
storks trailed contemptuously away from the scene. This room
was prolific in pictures. Most of them were framed colored
prints from Christmas editions of the London "Graphic" and
"Illustrated News," the subject of each picture inevitably
involving very alert fox terriers and very pretty moon-faced
Back of the bedroom was the kitchen, a creation of Trina's,
a dream of a kitchen, with its range, its porcelain-lined
sink, its copper boiler, and its overpowering array of
flashing tinware. Everything was new; everything was
Maria Macapa and a waiter from one of the restaurants in the
street were to prepare the wedding supper here. Maria had
already put in an appearance. The fire was crackling in the
new stove, that smoked badly; a smell of cooking was in the
air. She drove McTeague and Old Grannis from the room with
great gestures of her bare arms.
This kitchen was the only one of the three rooms they had
been obliged to furnish throughout. Most of the sitting-
room and bedroom furniture went with the suite; a few pieces
they had bought; the remainder Trina had brought over from
the B Street house.
The presents had been set out on the extension table in the
sitting-room. Besides the parlor melodeon, Trina's parents
had given her an ice-water set, and a carving knife and fork
with elk-horn handles. Selina had painted a view of the
Golden Gate upon a polished slice of redwood that answered
the purposes of a paper weight. Marcus Schouler--after
impressing upon Trina that his gift was to HER, and not
to McTeague--had sent a chatelaine watch of German silver;
Uncle Oelbermann's present, however, had been awaited with a
good deal of curiosity. What would he send? He was very
rich; in a sense Trina was his protege. A couple of
days before that upon which the wedding was to take
place, two boxes arrived with his card. Trina and
McTeague, assisted by Old Grannis, had opened them. The
first was a box of all sorts of toys.
"But what--what--I don't make it out," McTeague had
exclaimed. "Why should he send us toys? We have no need of
toys." Scarlet to her hair, Trina dropped into a chair and
laughed till she cried behind her handkerchief.
"We've no use of toys," muttered McTeague, looking at her in
perplexity. Old Grannis smiled discreetly, raising a
tremulous hand to his chin.
The other box was heavy, bound with withes at the edges, the
letters and stamps burnt in.
"I think--I really think it's champagne," said Old Grannis
in a whisper. So it was. A full case of Monopole. What a
wonder! None of them had seen the like before. Ah, this
Uncle Oelbermann! That's what it was to be rich. Not one
of the other presents produced so deep an impression as
After Old Grannis and the dentist had gone through the
rooms, giving a last look around to see that everything was
ready, they returned to McTeague's "Parlors." At the door
Old Grannis excused himself.
At four o'clock McTeague began to dress, shaving himself
first before the hand-glass that was hung against the
woodwork of the bay window. While he shaved he sang with
"No one to love, none to Caress,
Left all alone in this world's wilderness."
But as he stood before the mirror, intent upon his shaving,
there came a roll of wheels over the cobbles in front of the
house. He rushed to the window. Trina had arrived with her
father and mother. He saw her get out, and as she glanced
upward at his window, their eyes met.
Ah, there she was. There she was, his little woman, looking
up at him, her adorable little chin thrust upward with that
familiar movement of innocence and confidence. The
dentist saw again, as if for the first time, her small, pale
face looking out from beneath her royal tiara of black hair;
he saw again her long, narrow blue eyes; her lips, nose, and
tiny ears, pale and bloodless, and suggestive of anaemia, as
if all the vitality that should have lent them color had
been sucked up into the strands and coils of that wonderful
As their eyes met they waved their hands gayly to each
other; then McTeague heard Trina and her mother come up the
stairs and go into the bedroom of the photographer's suite,
where Trina was to dress.
No, no; surely there could be no longer any hesitation. He
knew that he loved her. What was the matter with him, that
he should have doubted it for an instant? The great
difficulty was that she was too good, too adorable, too
sweet, too delicate for him, who was so huge, so clumsy, so
There was a knock at the door. It was Old Grannis. He was
dressed in his one black suit of broadcloth, much wrinkled;
his hair was carefully brushed over his bald forehead.
"Miss Trina has come," he announced, "and the minister. You
have an hour yet."
The dentist finished dressing. He wore a suit bought for
the occasion--a ready made "Prince Albert" coat too short in
the sleeves, striped "blue" trousers, and new patent leather
shoes--veritable instruments of torture. Around his collar
was a wonderful necktie that Trina had given him; it was of
salmon-pink satin; in its centre Selina had painted a knot
of blue forget-me-nots.
At length, after an interminable period of waiting, Mr.
Sieppe appeared at the door.
"Are you reatty?" he asked in a sepulchral whisper. "Gome,
den." It was like King Charles summoned to execution. Mr.
Sieppe preceded them into the hall, moving at a funereal
pace. He paused. Suddenly, in the direction of the sitting-
room, came the strains of the parlor melodeon. Mr. Sieppe
flung his arm in the air.
"Vowaarts!" he cried.
He left them at the door of the sitting-room, he
himself going into the bedroom where Trina was waiting,
entering by the hall door. He was in a tremendous state of
nervous tension, fearful lest something should go wrong. He
had employed the period of waiting in going through his part
for the fiftieth time, repeating what he had to say in a low
voice. He had even made chalk marks on the matting in the
places where he was to take positions.
The dentist and Old Grannis entered the sitting-room; the
minister stood behind the little table in the bay window,
holding a book, one finger marking the place; he was rigid,
erect, impassive. On either side of him, in a semi-circle,
stood the invited guests. A little pock-marked gentleman in
glasses, no doubt the famous Uncle Oelbermann; Miss Baker,
in her black grenadine, false curls, and coral brooch;
Marcus Schouler, his arms folded, his brows bent, grand and
gloomy; Heise the harness-maker, in yellow gloves, intently
studying the pattern of the matting; and Owgooste, in his
Fauntleroy "costume," stupefied and a little frightened,
rolling his eyes from face to face. Selina sat at the parlor
melodeon, fingering the keys, her glance wandering to the
chenille portieres. She stopped playing as McTeague and Old
Grannis entered and took their places. A profound silence
ensued. Uncle Oelbermann's shirt front could be heard
creaking as he breathed. The most solemn expression
pervaded every face.
All at once the portieres were shaken violently. It was a
signal. Selina pulled open the stops and swung into the
Trina entered. She was dressed in white silk, a crown of
orange blossoms was around her swarthy hair--dressed high
for the first time--her veil reached to the floor. Her face
was pink, but otherwise she was calm. She looked quietly
around the room as she crossed it, until her glance rested
on McTeague, smiling at him then very prettily and with
She was on her father's arm. The twins, dressed exactly
alike, walked in front, each carrying an enormous bouquet of
cut flowers in a "lace-paper" holder. Mrs. Sieppe followed
in the rear. She was crying; her handkerchief was rolled
into a wad. From time to time she looked at the train
of Trina's dress through her tears. Mr. Sieppe marched his
daughter to the exact middle of the floor, wheeled at right
angles, and brought her up to the minister. He stepped back
three paces, and stood planted upon one of his chalk marks,
his face glistening with perspiration.
Then Trina and the dentist were married. The guests stood
in constrained attitudes, looking furtively out of the
corners of their eyes. Mr. Sieppe never moved a muscle;
Mrs. Sieppe cried into her handkerchief all the time. At
the melodeon Selina played "Call Me Thine Own," very softly,
the tremulo stop pulled out. She looked over her shoulder
from time to time. Between the pauses of the music one
could hear the low tones of the minister, the responses of
the participants, and the suppressed sounds of Mrs. Sieppe's
weeping. Outside the noises of the street rose to the
windows in muffled undertones, a cable car rumbled past, a
newsboy went by chanting the evening papers; from somewhere
in the building itself came a persistent noise of sawing.
Trina and McTeague knelt. The dentist's knees thudded on
the floor and he presented to view the soles of his shoes,
painfully new and unworn, the leather still yellow, the
brass nail heads still glittering. Trina sank at his side
very gracefully, setting her dress and train with a little
gesture of her free hand. The company bowed their heads,
Mr. Sieppe shutting his eyes tight. But Mrs. Sieppe took
advantage of the moment to stop crying and make furtive
gestures towards Owgooste, signing him to pull down his
coat. But Owgooste gave no heed; his eyes were starting
from their sockets, his chin had dropped upon his lace
collar, and his head turned vaguely from side to side with a
continued and maniacal motion.
All at once the ceremony was over before any one expected
it. The guests kept their positions for a moment, eyeing one
another, each fearing to make the first move, not quite
certain as to whether or not everything were finished. But
the couple faced the room, Trina throwing back her veil.
She--perhaps McTeague as well--felt that there was a certain
inadequateness about the ceremony. Was that all there was
to it? Did just those few muttered phrases make them
man and wife? It had been over in a few moments, but it had
bound them for life. Had not something been left out? Was
not the whole affair cursory, superficial? It was
But Trina had no time to dwell upon this. Marcus Schouler,
in the manner of a man of the world, who knew how to act in
every situation, stepped forward and, even before Mr. or
Mrs. Sieppe, took Trina's hand.
"Let me be the first to congratulate Mrs. McTeague," he
said, feeling very noble and heroic. The strain of the
previous moments was relaxed immediately, the guests crowded
around the pair, shaking hands--a babel of talk arose.
"Owgooste, WILL you pull down your goat, den?"
"Well, my dear, now you're married and happy. When I first
saw you two together, I said, 'What a pair!' We're to be
neighbors now; you must come up and see me very often and
we'll have tea together."
"Did you hear that sawing going on all the time? I declare
it regularly got on my nerves."
Trina kissed her father and mother, crying a little herself
as she saw the tears in Mrs. Sieppe's eyes.
Marcus came forward a second time, and, with an air of great
gravity, kissed his cousin upon the forehead. Heise was
introduced to Trina and Uncle Oelbermann to the dentist.
For upwards of half an hour the guests stood about in
groups, filling the little sitting-room with a great chatter
of talk. Then it was time to make ready for supper.
This was a tremendous task, in which nearly all the guests
were obliged to assist. The sitting-room was transformed
into a dining-room. The presents were removed from the
extension table and the table drawn out to its full length.
The cloth was laid, the chairs--rented from the dancing
academy hard by--drawn up, the dishes set out, and the two
bouquets of cut flowers taken from the twins under their
shrill protests, and "arranged" in vases at either end of
There was a great coming and going between the kitchen
and the sitting-room. Trina, who was allowed to do
nothing, sat in the bay window and fretted, calling to her
mother from time to time:
"The napkins are in the right-hand drawer of the pantry."
"Yes, yes, I got um. Where do you geep der zoup blates?"
"The soup plates are here already."
"Say, Cousin Trina, is there a corkscrew? What is home
without a corkscrew?"
"In the kitchen-table drawer, in the left-hand corner."
"Are these the forks you want to use, Mrs. McTeague?"
"No, no, there's some silver forks. Mamma knows where."
They were all very gay, laughing over their mistakes,
getting in one another's way, rushing into the sitting-room,
their hands full of plates or knives or glasses, and darting
out again after more. Marcus and Mr. Sieppe took their
coats off. Old Grannis and Miss Baker passed each other in
the hall in a constrained silence, her grenadine brushing
against the elbow of his wrinkled frock coat. Uncle
Oelbermann superintended Heise opening the case of champagne
with the gravity of a magistrate. Owgooste was assigned the
task of filling the new salt and pepper canisters of red and
In a wonderfully short time everything was ready. Marcus
Schouler resumed his coat, wiping his forehead, and
"I tell you, I've been doing CHORES for MY board."
"To der table!" commanded Mr. Sieppe.
The company sat down with a great clatter, Trina at the
foot, the dentist at the head, the others arranged
themselves in haphazard fashion. But it happened that
Marcus Schouler crowded into the seat beside Selina, towards
which Old Grannis was directing himself. There was but one
other chair vacant, and that at the side of Miss Baker. Old
Grannis hesitated, putting his hand to his chin. However,
there was no escape. In great trepidation he sat down
beside the retired dressmaker. Neither of them spoke. Old
Grannis dared not move, but sat rigid, his eyes riveted on
his empty soup plate.
All at once there was a report like a pistol. The men
started in their places. Mrs. Sieppe uttered a muffled
shriek. The waiter from the cheap restaurant, hired as
Maria's assistant, rose from a bending posture, a champagne
bottle frothing in his hand; he was grinning from ear to
"Don't get scairt," he said, reassuringly, "it ain't
When all their glasses had been filled, Marcus proposed the
health of the bride, "standing up." The guests rose and
drank. Hardly one of them had ever tasted champagne before.
The moment's silence after the toast was broken by McTeague
exclaiming with a long breath of satisfaction: "That's the
best beer I ever drank."
There was a roar of laughter. Especially was Marcus tickled
over the dentist's blunder; he went off in a very spasm of
mirth, banging the table with his fist, laughing until his
eyes watered. All through the meal he kept breaking out
into cackling imitations of McTeague's words: "That's the
best BEER I ever drank. Oh, Lord, ain't that a break!"
What a wonderful supper that was! There was oyster soup;
there were sea bass and barracuda; there was a gigantic
roast goose stuffed with chestnuts; there were egg-plant and
sweet potatoes--Miss Baker called them "yams." There was
calf's head in oil, over which Mr. Sieppe went into
ecstasies; there was lobster salad; there were rice pudding,
and strawberry ice cream, and wine jelly, and stewed prunes,
and cocoanuts, and mixed nuts, and raisins, and fruit, and
tea, and coffee, and mineral waters, and lemonade.
For two hours the guests ate; their faces red, their elbows
wide, the perspiration beading their foreheads. All around
the table one saw the same incessant movement of jaws and
heard the same uninterrupted sound of chewing. Three times
Heise passed his plate for more roast goose. Mr. Sieppe
devoured the calf's head with long breaths of contentment;
McTeague ate for the sake of eating, without choice;
everything within reach of his hands found its way into his
There was but little conversation, and that only of the
food; one exchanged opinions with one's neighbor as to the
soup, the egg-plant, or the stewed prunes. Soon the
room became very warm, a faint moisture appeared upon the
windows, the air was heavy with the smell of cooked food.
At every moment Trina or Mrs. Sieppe urged some one of the
company to have his or her plate refilled. They were
constantly employed in dishing potatoes or carving the goose
or ladling gravy. The hired waiter circled around the
room, his limp napkin over his arm, his hands full of plates
and dishes. He was a great joker; he had names of his own
for different articles of food, that sent gales of laughter
around the table. When he spoke of a bunch of parsley as
"scenery," Heise all but strangled himself over a mouthful
of potato. Out in the kitchen Maria Macapa did the work of
three, her face scarlet, her sleeves rolled up; every now
and then she uttered shrill but unintelligible outcries,
supposedly addressed to the waiter.
"Uncle Oelbermann," said Trina, "let me give you another
helping of prunes."
The Sieppes paid great deference to Uncle Oelbermann, as
indeed did the whole company. Even Marcus Schouler lowered
his voice when he addressed him. At the beginning of the
meal he had nudged the harness-maker and had whispered
behind his hand, nodding his head toward the wholesale toy
dealer, "Got thirty thousand dollars in the bank; has, for a
"Don't have much to say," observed Heise.
"No, no. That's his way; never opens his face."
As the evening wore on, the gas and two lamps were lit. The
company were still eating. The men, gorged with food, had
unbuttoned their vests. McTeague's cheeks were distended,
his eyes wide, his huge, salient jaw moved with a machine-
like regularity; at intervals he drew a series of short
breaths through his nose. Mrs. Sieppe wiped her forehead
with her napkin.
"Hey, dere, poy, gif me some more oaf dat--what you call--
That was how the waiter had spoken of the champagne--
"bubble-water." The guests had shouted applause, "Outa
sight." He was a heavy josher was that waiter.
Bottle after bottle was opened, the women stopping
their ears as the corks were drawn. All of a sudden the
dentist uttered an exclamation, clapping his hand to his
nose, his face twisting sharply.
"Mac, what is it?" cried Trina in alarm.
"That champagne came to my nose," he cried, his eyes
watering. "It stings like everything."
"Great BEER, ain't ut?" shouted Marcus.
"Now, Mark," remonstrated Trina in a low voice. "Now, Mark,
you just shut up; that isn't funny any more. I don't want
you should make fun of Mac. He called it beer on purpose.
I guess HE knows."
Throughout the meal old Miss Baker had occupied herself
largely with Owgooste and the twins, who had been given a
table by themselves--the black walnut table before which the
ceremony had taken place. The little dressmaker was
continually turning about in her place, inquiring of the
children if they wanted for anything; inquiries they rarely
answered other than by stare, fixed, ox-like,
Suddenly the little dressmaker turned to Old Grannis and
"I'm so very fond of little children."
"Yes, yes, they're very interesting. I'm very fond of them,
The next instant both of the old people were overwhelmed
with confusion. What! They had spoken to each other after
all these years of silence; they had for the first time
addressed remarks to each other.
The old dressmaker was in a torment of embarrassment. How
was it she had come to speak? She had neither planned nor
wished it. Suddenly the words had escaped her, he had
answered, and it was all over--over before they knew it.
Old Grannis's fingers trembled on the table ledge, his heart
beat heavily, his breath fell short. He had actually talked
to the little dressmaker. That possibility to which he had
looked forward, it seemed to him for years--that
companionship, that intimacy with his fellow-lodger,
that delightful acquaintance which was only to ripen at some
far distant time, he could not exactly say when--behold, it
had suddenly come to a head, here in this over-crowded,
over-heated room, in the midst of all this feeding,
surrounded by odors of hot dishes, accompanied by the sounds
of incessant mastication. How different he had imagined it
would be! They were to be alone--he and Miss Baker--in the
evening somewhere, withdrawn from the world, very quiet,
very calm and peaceful. Their talk was to be of their
lives, their lost illusions, not of other people's children.
The two old people did not speak again. They sat there side
by side, nearer than they had ever been before, motionless,
abstracted; their thoughts far away from that scene of
feasting. They were thinking of each other and they were
conscious of it. Timid, with the timidity of their second
childhood, constrained and embarrassed by each other's
presence, they were, nevertheless, in a little Elysium of
their own creating. They walked hand in hand in a delicious
garden where it was always autumn; together and alone they
entered upon the long retarded romance of their commonplace
and uneventful lives.
At last that great supper was over, everything had been
eaten; the enormous roast goose had dwindled to a very
skeleton. Mr. Sieppe had reduced the calf's head to a mere
skull; a row of empty champagne bottles--"dead soldiers," as
the facetious waiter had called them--lined the mantelpiece.
Nothing of the stewed prunes remained but the juice, which
was given to Owgooste and the twins. The platters were as
clean as if they had been washed; crumbs of bread, potato
parings, nutshells, and bits of cake littered the table;
coffee and ice-cream stains and spots of congealed gravy
marked the position of each plate. It was a devastation, a
pillage; the table presented the appearance of an abandoned
"Ouf," cried Mrs. Sieppe, pushing back, "I haf eatun und
eatun, ach, Gott, how I haf eatun!"
"Ah, dot kaf's het," murmured her husband, passing his
tongue over his lips.
The facetious waiter had disappeared. He and Maria
Macapa foregathered in the kitchen. They drew up to the
washboard of the sink, feasting off the remnants of the
supper, slices of goose, the remains of the lobster salad,
and half a bottle of champagne. They were obliged to drink
the latter from teacups.
"Here's how," said the waiter gallantly, as he raised his
tea-cup, bowing to Maria across the sink. "Hark," he added,
"they're singing inside."
The company had left the table and had assembled about the
melodeon, where Selina was seated. At first they attempted
some of the popular songs of the day, but were obliged to
give over as none of them knew any of the words beyond the
first line of the chorus. Finally they pitched upon
"Nearer, My God, to Thee," as the only song which they all
knew. Selina sang the "alto," very much off the key; Marcus
intoned the bass, scowling fiercely, his chin drawn into his
collar. They sang in very slow time. The song became a
dirge, a lamentable, prolonged wail of distress:
"Nee-rah, my Gahd, to Thee,
Nee-rah to Thee-ah."
At the end of the song, Uncle Oelbermann put on his hat
without a word of warning. Instantly there was a hush. The
"Not going so soon, Uncle Oelbermann?" protested Trina,
politely. He only nodded. Marcus sprang forward to help
him with his overcoat. Mr. Sieppe came up and the two men
Then Uncle Oelbermann delivered himself of an oracular
phrase. No doubt he had been meditating it during the
supper. Addressing Mr. Sieppe, he said:
"You have not lost a daughter, but have gained a son."
These were the only words he had spoken the entire evening.
He departed; the company was profoundly impressed.
About twenty minutes later, when Marcus Schouler was
entertaining the guests by eating almonds, shells and
all, Mr. Sieppe started to his feet, watch in hand.
"Haf-bast elevun," he shouted. "Attention! Der dime haf
arrive, shtop eferyting. We depart."
This was a signal for tremendous confusion. Mr. Sieppe
immediately threw off his previous air of relaxation, the
calf's head was forgotten, he was once again the leader of
"To me, to me," he cried. "Mommer, der tervins, Owgooste."
He marshalled his tribe together, with tremendous commanding
gestures. The sleeping twins were suddenly shaken into a
dazed consciousness; Owgooste, whom the almond-eating of
Marcus Schouler had petrified with admiration, was smacked
to a realization of his surroundings.
Old Grannis, with a certain delicacy that was one of his
characteristics, felt instinctively that the guests--the
mere outsiders--should depart before the family began its
leave-taking of Trina. He withdrew unobtrusively, after a
hasty good-night to the bride and groom. The rest followed
"Well, Mr. Sieppe," exclaimed Marcus, "we won't see each
other for some time." Marcus had given up his first
intention of joining in the Sieppe migration. He spoke in a
large way of certain affairs that would keep him in San
Francisco till the fall. Of late he had entertained
ambitions of a ranch life, he would breed cattle, he had a
little money and was only looking for some one "to go in
with." He dreamed of a cowboy's life and saw himself in an
entrancing vision involving silver spurs and untamed
bronchos. He told himself that Trina had cast him off, that
his best friend had "played him for a sucker," that the
"proper caper" was to withdraw from the world entirely.
"If you hear of anybody down there," he went on, speaking to
Mr. Sieppe, "that wants to go in for ranching, why just let
"Soh, soh," answered Mr. Sieppe abstractedly, peering about
for Owgooste's cap.
Marcus bade the Sieppes farewell. He and Heise went out
together. One heard them, as they descended the
stairs, discussing the possibility of Frenna's place being
Then Miss Baker departed after kissing Trina on both cheeks.
Selina went with her. There was only the family left.
Trina watched them go, one by one, with an increasing
feeling of uneasiness and vague apprehension. Soon they
would all be gone.
"Well, Trina," exclaimed Mr. Sieppe, "goot-py; perhaps you
gome visit us somedime."
Mrs. Sieppe began crying again.
"Ach, Trina, ven shall I efer see you again?"
Tears came to Trina's eyes in spite of herself. She put her
arms around her mother.
"Oh, sometime, sometime," she cried. The twins and Owgooste
clung to Trina's skirts, fretting and whimpering.
McTeague was miserable. He stood apart from the group, in a
corner. None of them seemed to think of him; he was not of
"Write to me very often, mamma, and tell me about
everything--about August and the twins."
"It is dime," cried Mr. Sieppe, nervously. "Goot-py, Trina.
Mommer, Owgooste, say goot-py, den we must go. Goot-py,
Trina." He kissed her. Owgooste and the twins were lifted
up. "Gome, gome," insisted Mr. Sieppe, moving toward the
"Goot-py, Trina," exclaimed Mrs. Sieppe, crying harder than
ever. "Doktor--where is der doktor--Doktor, pe goot to her,
eh? pe vairy goot, eh, won't you? Zum day, Dokter, you vill
haf a daughter, den you know berhaps how I feel, yes."
They were standing at the door by this time. Mr. Sieppe,
half way down the stairs, kept calling "Gome, gome, we miss
Mrs. Sieppe released Trina and started down the hall, the
twins and Owgooste following. Trina stood in the doorway,
looking after them through her tears. They were going,
going. When would she ever see them again? She was to be
left alone with this man to whom she had just been married.
A sudden vague terror seized her; she left McTeague and
ran down the hall and caught her mother around the neck.
"I don't WANT you to go," she whispered in her mother's
ear, sobbing. "Oh, mamma, I--I'm 'fraid."
"Ach, Trina, you preak my heart. Don't gry, poor leetle
girl." She rocked Trina in her arms as though she were a
child again. "Poor leetle scairt girl, don' gry--soh--soh--
soh, dere's nuttun to pe 'fraid oaf. Dere, go to your
hoasban'. Listen, popper's galling again; go den; goot-by."
She loosened Trina's arms and started down the stairs. Trina
leaned over the banisters, straining her eyes after her
"What is ut, Trina?"
"Oh, good-by, good-by."
"Gome, gome, we miss der drain."
"Mamma, oh, mamma!"
"What is ut, Trina?"