Part 4 out of 8
"Goot-py, leetle daughter."
"Good-by, good-by, good-by."
The street door closed. The silence was profound.
For another moment Trina stood leaning over the banisters,
looking down into the empty stairway. It was dark. There
was nobody. They--her father, her mother, the children--had
left her, left her alone. She faced about toward the rooms
--faced her husband, faced her new home, the new life that
was to begin now.
The hall was empty and deserted. The great flat around her
seemed new and huge and strange; she felt horribly alone.
Even Maria and the hired waiter were gone. On one of the
floors above she heard a baby crying. She stood there an
instant in the dark hall, in her wedding finery, looking
about her, listening. From the open door of the sitting-
room streamed a gold bar of light.
She went down the hall, by the open door of the sitting-
room, going on toward the hall door of the bedroom.
As she softly passed the sitting-room she glanced hastily
in. The lamps and the gas were burning brightly, the chairs
were pushed back from the table just as the guests had left
them, and the table itself, abandoned, deserted,
presented to view the vague confusion of its dishes, its
knives and forks, its empty platters and crumpled napkins.
The dentist sat there leaning on his elbows, his back toward
her; against the white blur of the table he looked colossal.
Above his giant shoulders rose his thick, red neck and mane
of yellow hair. The light shone pink through the gristle of
his enormous ears.
Trina entered the bedroom, closing the door after her. At
the sound, she heard McTeague start and rise.
"Is that you, Trina?"
She did not answer; but paused in the middle of the room,
holding her breath, trembling.
The dentist crossed the outside room, parted the chenille
portieres, and came in. He came toward her quickly, making
as if to take her in his arms. His eyes were alight.
"No, no," cried Trina, shrinking from him. Suddenly seized
with the fear of him--the intuitive feminine fear of the
male--her whole being quailed before him. She was terrified
at his huge, square-cut head; his powerful, salient jaw; his
huge, red hands; his enormous, resistless strength.
"No, no--I'm afraid," she cried, drawing back from him to
the other side of the room.
"Afraid?" answered the dentist in perplexity. "What are you
afraid of, Trina? I'm not going to hurt you. What are you
What, indeed, was Trina afraid of? She could not tell. But
what did she know of McTeague, after all? Who was this man
that had come into her life, who had taken her from her home
and from her parents, and with whom she was now left alone
here in this strange, vast flat?
"Oh, I'm afraid. I'm afraid," she cried.
McTeague came nearer, sat down beside her and put one arm
"What are you afraid of, Trina?" he said, reassuringly. "I
don't want to frighten you."
She looked at him wildly, her adorable little chin
quivering, the tears brimming in her narrow blue eyes.
Then her glance took on a certain intentness, and she peered
curiously into his face, saying almost in a whisper:
"I'm afraid of YOU."
But the dentist did not heed her. An immense joy seized
upon him--the joy of possession. Trina was his very own
now. She lay there in the hollow of his arm, helpless and
Those instincts that in him were so close to the surface
suddenly leaped to life, shouting and clamoring, not to be
resisted. He loved her. Ah, did he not love her? The
smell of her hair, of her neck, rose to him.
Suddenly he caught her in both his huge arms, crushing down
her struggle with his immense strength, kissing her full
upon the mouth. Then her great love for McTeague suddenly
flashed up in Trina's breast; she gave up to him as she had
done before, yielding all at once to that strange desire of
being conquered and subdued. She clung to him, her hands
clasped behind his neck, whispering in his ear:
"Oh, you must be good to me--very, very good to me, dear--
for you're all that I have in the world now."
That summer passed, then the winter. The wet season began
in the last days of September and continued all through
October, November, and December. At long intervals would
come a week of perfect days, the sky without a cloud, the
air motionless, but touched with a certain nimbleness, a
faint effervescence that was exhilarating. Then,
without warning, during a night when a south wind blew, a
gray scroll of cloud would unroll and hang high over the
city, and the rain would come pattering down again, at first
in scattered showers, then in an uninterrupted drizzle.
All day long Trina sat in the bay window of the sitting-room
that commanded a view of a small section of Polk Street. As
often as she raised her head she could see the big market, a
confectionery store, a bell-hanger's shop, and, farther on,
above the roofs, the glass skylights and water tanks of the
big public baths. In the nearer foreground ran the street
itself; the cable cars trundled up and down, thumping
heavily over the joints of the rails; market carts by the
score came and went, driven at a great rate by preoccupied
young men in their shirt sleeves, with pencils behind their
ears, or by reckless boys in blood-stained butcher's aprons.
Upon the sidewalks the little world of Polk Street swarmed
and jostled through its daily round of life. On fine days
the great ladies from the avenue, one block above, invaded
the street, appearing before the butcher stalls, intent upon
their day's marketing. On rainy days their servants--the
Chinese cooks or the second girls--took their places. These
servants gave themselves great airs, carrying their big
cotton umbrellas as they had seen their mistresses carry
their parasols, and haggling in supercilious fashion with
the market men, their chins in the air.
The rain persisted. Everything in the range of Trina's
vision, from the tarpaulins on the market-cart horses to the
panes of glass in the roof of the public baths, looked
glazed and varnished. The asphalt of the sidewalks shone
like the surface of a patent leather boot; every hollow in
the street held its little puddle, that winked like an eye
each time a drop of rain struck into it.
Trina still continued to work for Uncle Oelbermann. In the
mornings she busied herself about the kitchen, the bedroom,
and the sitting-room; but in the afternoon, for two or three
hours after lunch, she was occupied with the Noah's ark
animals. She took her work to the bay window, spreading out
a great square of canvas underneath her chair, to catch the
chips and shavings, which she used afterwards for lighting
fires. One after another she caught up the little
blocks of straight-grained pine, the knife flashed between
her fingers, the little figure grew rapidly under her touch,
was finished and ready for painting in a wonderfully short
time, and was tossed into the basket that stood at her
But very often during that rainy winter after her marriage
Trina would pause in her work, her hands falling idly into
her lap, her eyes--her narrow, pale blue eyes--growing wide
and thoughtful as she gazed, unseeing, out into the rain-
She loved McTeague now with a blind, unreasoning love that
admitted of no doubt or hesitancy. Indeed, it seemed to her
that it was only AFTER her marriage with the dentist
that she had really begun to love him. With the absolute
final surrender of herself, the irrevocable, ultimate
submission, had come an affection the like of which she had
never dreamed in the old B Street days. But Trina loved her
husband, not because she fancied she saw in him any of those
noble and generous qualities that inspire affection. The
dentist might or might not possess them, it was all one with
Trina. She loved him because she had given herself to him
freely, unreservedly; had merged her individuality into his;
she was his, she belonged to him forever and forever.
Nothing that he could do (so she told herself), nothing that
she herself could do, could change her in this respect.
McTeague might cease to love her, might leave her, might
even die; it would be all the same, SHE WAS HIS.
But it had not been so at first. During those long, rainy
days of the fall, days when Trina was left alone for hours,
at that time when the excitement and novelty of the
honeymoon were dying down, when the new household was
settling into its grooves, she passed through many an hour
of misgiving, of doubt, and even of actual regret.
Never would she forget one Sunday afternoon in particular.
She had been married but three weeks. After dinner she and
little Miss Baker had gone for a bit of a walk to take
advantage of an hour's sunshine and to look at some
wonderful geraniums in a florist's window on Sutter Street.
They had been caught in a shower, and on returning to the
flat the little dressmaker had insisted on fetching
Trina up to her tiny room and brewing her a cup of strong
tea, "to take the chill off." The two women had chatted over
their teacups the better part of the afternoon, then Trina
had returned to her rooms. For nearly three hours McTeague
had been out of her thoughts, and as she came through their
little suite, singing softly to herself, she suddenly came
upon him quite unexpectedly. Her husband was in the "Dental
Parlors," lying back in his operating chair, fast asleep.
The little stove was crammed with coke, the room was
overheated, the air thick and foul with the odors of ether,
of coke gas, of stale beer and cheap tobacco. The dentist
sprawled his gigantic limbs over the worn velvet of the
operating chair; his coat and vest and shoes were off, and
his huge feet, in their thick gray socks, dangled over the
edge of the foot-rest; his pipe, fallen from his half-open
mouth, had spilled the ashes into his lap; while on the
floor, at his side stood the half-empty pitcher of steam
beer. His head had rolled limply upon one shoulder, his
face was red with sleep, and from his open mouth came a
terrific sound of snoring.
For a moment Trina stood looking at him as he lay thus,
prone, inert, half-dressed, and stupefied with the heat of
the room, the steam beer, and the fumes of the cheap
tobacco. Then her little chin quivered and a sob rose to
her throat; she fled from the "Parlors," and locking herself
in her bedroom, flung herself on the bed and burst into an
agony of weeping. Ah, no, ah, no, she could not love him.
It had all been a dreadful mistake, and now it was
irrevocable; she was bound to this man for life. If it was
as bad as this now, only three weeks after her marriage, how
would it be in the years to come? Year after year, month
after month, hour after hour, she was to see this same face,
with its salient jaw, was to feel the touch of those
enormous red hands, was to hear the heavy, elephantine tread
of those huge feet--in thick gray socks. Year after year,
day after day, there would be no change, and it would last
all her life. Either it would be one long continued
revulsion, or else--worse than all--she would come to be
content with him, would come to be like him, would sink to
the level of steam beer and cheap tobacco, and all her
pretty ways, her clean, trim little habits, would be
forgotten, since they would be thrown away upon her stupid,
brutish husband. "Her husband!" THAT, was her husband
in there--she could yet hear his snores--for life, for life.
A great despair seized upon her. She buried her face in the
pillow and thought of her mother with an infinite longing.
Aroused at length by the chittering of the canary, McTeague
had awakened slowly. After a while he had taken down his
concertina and played upon it the six very mournful airs
that he knew.
Face downward upon the bed, Trina still wept. Throughout
that little suite could be heard but two sounds, the
lugubrious strains of the concertina and the noise of
That her husband should be ignorant of her distress seemed
to Trina an additional grievance. With perverse
inconsistency she began to wish him to come to her, to
comfort her. He ought to know that she was in trouble, that
she was lonely and unhappy.
"Oh, Mac," she called in a trembling voice. But the
concertina still continued to wail and lament. Then Trina
wished she were dead, and on the instant jumped up and ran
into the "Dental Parlors," and threw herself into her
husband's arms, crying: "Oh, Mac, dear, love me, love me
big! I'm so unhappy."
"What--what--what--" the dentist exclaimed, starting up
bewildered, a little frightened.
"Nothing, nothing, only LOVE me, love me always and
But this first crisis, this momentary revolt, as much a
matter of high-strung feminine nerves as of anything else,
passed, and in the end Trina's affection for her "old bear"
grew in spite of herself. She began to love him more and
more, not for what he was, but for what she had given up to
him. Only once again did Trina undergo a reaction against
her husband, and then it was but the matter of an instant,
brought on, curiously enough, by the sight of a bit of egg
on McTeague's heavy mustache one morning just after
Then, too, the pair had learned to make concessions, little
by little, and all unconsciously they adapted their
modes of life to suit each other. Instead of sinking to
McTeague's level as she had feared, Trina found that she
could make McTeague rise to hers, and in this saw a solution
of many a difficult and gloomy complication.
For one thing, the dentist began to dress a little better,
Trina even succeeding in inducing him to wear a high silk
hat and a frock coat of a Sunday. Next he relinquished his
Sunday afternoon's nap and beer in favor of three or four
hours spent in the park with her--the weather permitting.
So that gradually Trina's misgivings ceased, or when they
did assail her, she could at last meet them with a shrug of
the shoulders, saying to herself meanwhile, "Well, it's done
now and it can't be helped; one must make the best of it."
During the first months of their married life these nervous
relapses of hers had alternated with brusque outbursts of
affection when her only fear was that her husband's love did
not equal her own. Without an instant's warning, she would
clasp him about the neck, rubbing her cheek against his,
"Dear old Mac, I love you so, I love you so. Oh, aren't we
happy together, Mac, just us two and no one else? You love
me as much as I love you, don't you, Mac? Oh, if you
shouldn't--if you SHOULDN'T."
But by the middle of the winter Trina's emotions,
oscillating at first from one extreme to another, commenced
to settle themselves to an equilibrium of calmness and
placid quietude. Her household duties began more and more to
absorb her attention, for she was an admirable housekeeper,
keeping the little suite in marvellous good order and
regulating the schedule of expenditure with an economy that
often bordered on positive niggardliness. It was a passion
with her to save money. In the bottom of her trunk, in the
bedroom, she hid a brass match-safe that answered the
purposes of a savings bank. Each time she added a quarter or
a half dollar to the little store she laughed and sang with
a veritable childish delight; whereas, if the butcher or
milkman compelled her to pay an overcharge she was unhappy
for the rest of the day. She did not save this money
for any ulterior purpose, she hoarded instinctively, without
knowing why, responding to the dentist's remonstrances with:
"Yes, yes, I know I'm a little miser, I know it."
Trina had always been an economical little body, but it was
only since her great winning in the lottery that she had
become especially penurious. No doubt, in her fear lest
their great good luck should demoralize them and lead to
habits of extravagance, she had recoiled too far in the
other direction. Never, never, never should a penny of that
miraculous fortune be spent; rather should it be added to.
It was a nest egg, a monstrous, roc-like nest egg, not so
large, however, but that it could be made larger. Already
by the end of that winter Trina had begun to make up the
deficit of two hundred dollars that she had been forced to
expend on the preparations for her marriage.
McTeague, on his part, never asked himself now-a-days
whether he loved Trina the wife as much as he had loved
Trina the young girl. There had been a time when to kiss
Trina, to take her in his arms, had thrilled him from head
to heel with a happiness that was beyond words; even the
smell of her wonderful odorous hair had sent a sensation of
faintness all through him. That time was long past now.
Those sudden outbursts of affection on the part of his
little woman, outbursts that only increased in vehemence the
longer they lived together, puzzled rather than pleased him.
He had come to submit to them good-naturedly, answering her
passionate inquiries with a "Sure, sure, Trina, sure I love
you. What--what's the matter with you?"
There was no passion in the dentist's regard for his wife.
He dearly liked to have her near him, he took an enormous
pleasure in watching her as she moved about their rooms,
very much at home, gay and singing from morning till night;
and it was his great delight to call her into the "Dental
Parlors" when a patient was in the chair and, while he held
the plugger, to have her rap in the gold fillings with the
little box-wood mallet as he had taught her. But that
tempest of passion, that overpowering desire that had
suddenly taken possession of him that day when he had given
her ether, again when he had caught her in his arms in
the B Street station, and again and again during the early
days of their married life, rarely stirred him now. On the
other hand, he was never assailed with doubts as to the
wisdom of his marriage.
McTeague had relapsed to his wonted stolidity. He never
questioned himself, never looked for motives, never went to
the bottom of things. The year following upon the summer of
his marriage was a time of great contentment for him; after
the novelty of the honeymoon had passed he slipped easily
into the new order of things without a question. Thus his
life would be for years to come. Trina was there; he was
married and settled. He accepted the situation. The little
animal comforts which for him constituted the enjoyment of
life were ministered to at every turn, or when they were
interfered with--as in the case of his Sunday afternoon's
nap and beer--some agreeable substitute was found. In her
attempts to improve McTeague--to raise him from the stupid
animal life to which he had been accustomed in his bachelor
days--Trina was tactful enough to move so cautiously and
with such slowness that the dentist was unconscious of any
process of change. In the matter of the high silk hat, it
seemed to him that the initiative had come from himself.
Gradually the dentist improved under the influence of his
little wife. He no longer went abroad with frayed cuffs
about his huge red wrists--or worse, without any cuffs at
all. Trina kept his linen clean and mended, doing most of
his washing herself, and insisting that he should change his
flannels--thick red flannels they were, with enormous bone
buttons--once a week, his linen shirts twice a week, and his
collars and cuffs every second day. She broke him of the
habit of eating with his knife, she caused him to substitute
bottled beer in the place of steam beer, and she induced him
to take off his hat to Miss Baker, to Heise's wife, and to
the other women of his acquaintance. McTeague no longer
spent an evening at Frenna's. Instead of this he brought a
couple of bottles of beer up to the rooms and shared it with
Trina. In his "Parlors" he was no longer gruff and
indifferent to his female patients; he arrived at that stage
where he could work and talk to them at the same time;
he even accompanied them to the door, and held it open for
them when the operation was finished, bowing them out with
great nods of his huge square-cut head.
Besides all this, he began to observe the broader, larger
interests of life, interests that affected him not as an
individual, but as a member of a class, a profession, or a
political party. He read the papers, he subscribed to a
dental magazine; on Easter, Christmas, and New Year's he
went to church with Trina. He commenced to have opinions,
convictions--it was not fair to deprive tax-paying women of
the privilege to vote; a university education should not be
a prerequisite for admission to a dental college; the
Catholic priests were to be restrained in their efforts to
gain control of the public schools.
But most wonderful of all, McTeague began to have ambitions
--very vague, very confused ideas of something better--ideas
for the most part borrowed from Trina. Some day, perhaps,
he and his wife would have a house of their own. What a
dream! A little home all to themselves, with six rooms and a
bath, with a grass plat in front and calla-lilies. Then
there would be children. He would have a son, whose name
would be Daniel, who would go to High School, and perhaps
turn out to be a prosperous plumber or house painter. Then
this son Daniel would marry a wife, and they would all live
together in that six-room-and-bath house; Daniel would have
little children. McTeague would grow old among them all.
The dentist saw himself as a venerable patriarch surrounded
by children and grandchildren.
So the winter passed. It was a season of great happiness
for the McTeagues; the new life jostled itself into its
grooves. A routine began.
On weekdays they rose at half-past six, being awakened by
the boy who brought the bottled milk, and who had
instructions to pound upon the bedroom door in passing.
Trina made breakfast--coffee, bacon and eggs, and a roll of
Vienna bread from the bakery. The breakfast was eaten in
the kitchen, on the round deal table covered with the shiny
oilcloth table-spread tacked on. After breakfast the
dentist immediately betook himself to his "Parlors" to meet
his early morning appointments--those made with the clerks
and shop girls who stopped in for half an hour on their way
to their work.
Trina, meanwhile, busied herself about the suite, clearing
away the breakfast, sponging off the oilcloth table-spread,
making the bed, pottering about with a broom or duster or
cleaning rag. Towards ten o'clock she opened the windows to
air the rooms, then put on her drab jacket, her little round
turban with its red wing, took the butcher's and grocer's
books from the knife basket in the drawer of the kitchen
table, and descended to the street, where she spent a
delicious hour--now in the huge market across the way, now
in the grocer's store with its fragrant aroma of coffee and
spices, and now before the counters of the haberdasher's,
intent on a bit of shopping, turning over ends of veiling,
strips of elastic, or slivers of whalebone. On the street
she rubbed elbows with the great ladies of the avenue in
their beautiful dresses, or at intervals she met an
acquaintance or two--Miss Baker, or Heise's lame wife, or
Mrs. Ryer. At times she passed the flat and looked up at
the windows of her home, marked by the huge golden molar
that projected, flashing, from the bay window of the
"Parlors." She saw the open windows of the sitting-room,
the Nottingham lace curtains stirring and billowing in the
draft, and she caught sight of Maria Macapa's towelled head
as the Mexican maid-of-all-work went to and fro in the
suite, sweeping or carrying away the ashes. Occasionally in
the windows of the "Parlors" she beheld McTeague's rounded
back as he bent to his work. Sometimes, even, they saw each
other and waved their hands gayly in recognition.
By eleven o'clock Trina returned to the flat, her brown net
reticule--once her mother's--full of parcels. At once she
set about getting lunch--sausages, perhaps, with mashed
potatoes; or last evening's joint warmed over or made into a
stew; chocolate, which Trina adored, and a side dish or two
--a salted herring or a couple of artichokes or a salad. At
half-past twelve the dentist came in from the "Parlors,"
bringing with him the smell of creosote and of ether.
They sat down to lunch in the sitting-room. They told each
other of their doings throughout the forenoon; Trina showed
her purchases, McTeague recounted the progress of an
operation. At one o'clock they separated, the dentist
returning to the "Parlors," Trina settling to her work on
the Noah's ark animals. At about three o'clock she put this
work away, and for the rest of the afternoon was variously
occupied--sometimes it was the mending, sometimes the wash,
sometimes new curtains to be put up, or a bit of carpet to
be tacked down, or a letter to be written, or a visit--
generally to Miss Baker--to be returned. Towards five
o'clock the old woman whom they had hired for that purpose
came to cook supper, for even Trina was not equal to the
task of preparing three meals a day.
This woman was French, and was known to the flat as
Augustine, no one taking enough interest in her to inquire
for her last name; all that was known of her was that she
was a decayed French laundress, miserably poor, her trade
long since ruined by Chinese competition. Augustine cooked
well, but she was otherwise undesirable, and Trina lost
patience with her at every moment. The old French woman's
most marked characteristic was her timidity. Trina could
scarcely address her a simple direction without Augustine
quailing and shrinking; a reproof, however gentle, threw her
into an agony of confusion; while Trina's anger promptly
reduced her to a state of nervous collapse, wherein she lost
all power of speech, while her head began to bob and nod
with an incontrollable twitching of the muscles, much like
the oscillations of the head of a toy donkey. Her timidity
was exasperating, her very presence in the room unstrung the
nerves, while her morbid eagerness to avoid offence only
served to develop in her a clumsiness that was at times
beyond belief. More than once Trina had decided that she
could no longer put up with Augustine but each time she had
retained her as she reflected upon her admirably cooked
cabbage soups and tapioca puddings, and--which in Trina's
eyes was her chiefest recommendation--the pittance for which
she was contented to work.
Augustine had a husband. He was a spirit-medium--a
"professor." At times he held seances in the larger
rooms of the flat, playing vigorously upon a mouth-organ and
invoking a familiar whom he called "Edna," and whom he
asserted was an Indian maiden.
The evening was a period of relaxation for Trina and
McTeague. They had supper at six, after which McTeague
smoked his pipe and read the papers for half an hour, while
Trina and Augustine cleared away the table and washed the
dishes. Then, as often as not, they went out together. One
of their amusements was to go "down town" after dark and
promenade Market and Kearney Streets. It was very gay; a
great many others were promenading there also. All of the
stores were brilliantly lighted and many of them still open.
They walked about aimlessly, looking into the shop windows.
Trina would take McTeague's arm, and he, very much
embarrassed at that, would thrust both hands into his
pockets and pretend not to notice. They stopped before the
jewellers' and milliners' windows, finding a great delight
in picking out things for each other, saying how they would
choose this and that if they were rich. Trina did most of
the talking. McTeague merely approving by a growl or a
movement of the head or shoulders; she was interested in the
displays of some of the cheaper stores, but he found an
irresistible charm in an enormous golden molar with four
prongs that hung at a corner of Kearney Street. Sometimes
they would look at Mars or at the moon through the street
telescopes or sit for a time in the rotunda of a vast
department store where a band played every evening.
Occasionally they met Heise the harness-maker and his wife,
with whom they had become acquainted. Then the evening was
concluded by a four-cornered party in the Luxembourg, a
quiet German restaurant under a theatre. Trina had a tamale
and a glass of beer, Mrs. Heise (who was a decayed writing
teacher) ate salads, with glasses of grenadine and currant
syrups. Heise drank cocktails and whiskey straight, and
urged the dentist to join him. But McTeague was obstinate,
shaking his head. "I can't drink that stuff," he said. "It
don't agree with me, somehow; I go kinda crazy after
two glasses." So he gorged himself with beer and
frankfurter sausages plastered with German mustard.
When the annual Mechanic's Fair opened, McTeague and Trina
often spent their evenings there, studying the exhibits
carefully (since in Trina's estimation education meant
knowing things and being able to talk about them). Wearying
of this they would go up into the gallery, and, leaning
over, look down into the huge amphitheatre full of light and
color and movement.
There rose to them the vast shuffling noise of thousands of
feet and a subdued roar of conversation like the sound of a
great mill. Mingled with this was the purring of distant
machinery, the splashing of a temporary fountain, and the
rhythmic jangling of a brass band, while in the piano
exhibit a hired performer was playing upon a concert grand
with a great flourish. Nearer at hand they could catch ends
of conversation and notes of laughter, the noise of moving
dresses, and the rustle of stiffly starched skirts. Here
and there school children elbowed their way through the
crowd, crying shrilly, their hands full of advertisement
pamphlets, fans, picture cards, and toy whips, while the air
itself was full of the smell of fresh popcorn.
They even spent some time in the art gallery. Trina's
cousin Selina, who gave lessons in hand painting at two bits
an hour, generally had an exhibit on the walls, which they
were interested to find. It usually was a bunch of yellow
poppies painted on black velvet and framed in gilt. They
stood before it some little time, hazarding their opinions,
and then moved on slowly from one picture to another. Trina
had McTeague buy a catalogue and made a duty of finding the
title of every picture. This, too, she told McTeague, as a
kind of education one ought to cultivate. Trina professed
to be fond of art, having perhaps acquired a taste for
painting and sculpture from her experience with the Noah's
"Of course," she told the dentist, "I'm no critic, I only
know what I like." She knew that she liked the "Ideal
Heads," lovely girls with flowing straw-colored hair and
immense, upturned eyes. These always had for title,
"Reverie," or "An Idyll," or "Dreams of Love."
"I think those are lovely, don't you, Mac?" she said.
"Yes, yes," answered McTeague, nodding his head, bewildered,
trying to understand. "Yes, yes, lovely, that's the word.
Are you dead sure now, Trina, that all that's hand-painted
just like the poppies?"
Thus the winter passed, a year went by, then two. The
little life of Polk Street, the life of small traders, drug
clerks, grocers, stationers, plumbers, dentists, doctors,
spirit-mediums, and the like, ran on monotonously in its
accustomed grooves. The first three years of their married
life wrought little change in the fortunes of the McTeagues.
In the third summer the branch post-office was moved from
the ground floor of the flat to a corner farther up the
street in order to be near the cable line that ran mail
cars. Its place was taken by a German saloon, called a
"Wein Stube," in the face of the protests of every female
lodger. A few months later quite a little flurry of
excitement ran through the street on the occasion of "The
Polk Street Open Air Festival," organized to celebrate the
introduction there of electric lights. The festival lasted
three days and was quite an affair. The street was garlanded
with yellow and white bunting; there were processions and
"floats" and brass bands. Marcus Schouler was in his
element during the whole time of the celebration. He was
one of the marshals of the parade, and was to be seen at
every hour of the day, wearing a borrowed high hat and
cotton gloves, and galloping a broken-down cab-horse over
the cobbles. He carried a baton covered with yellow and
white calico, with which he made furious passes and
gestures. His voice was soon reduced to a whisper by
continued shouting, and he raged and fretted over trifles
till he wore himself thin. McTeague was disgusted with him.
As often as Marcus passed the window of the flat the dentist
"Ah, you think you're smart, don't you?"
The result of the festival was the organizing of a body
known as the "Polk Street Improvement Club," of which Marcus
was elected secretary. McTeague and Trina often heard
of him in this capacity through Heise the harness-maker.
Marcus had evidently come to have political aspirations. It
appeared that he was gaining a reputation as a maker of
speeches, delivered with fiery emphasis, and occasionally
reprinted in the "Progress," the organ of the club--
"outraged constituencies," "opinions warped by personal
bias," "eyes blinded by party prejudice," etc.
Of her family, Trina heard every fortnight in letters from
her mother. The upholstery business which Mr. Sieppe had
bought was doing poorly, and Mrs. Sieppe bewailed the day
she had ever left B Street. Mr. Sieppe was losing money
every month. Owgooste, who was to have gone to school, had
been forced to go to work in "the store," picking waste.
Mrs. Sieppe was obliged to take a lodger or two. Affairs
were in a very bad way. Occasionally she spoke of Marcus.
Mr. Sieppe had not forgotten him despite his own troubles,
but still had an eye out for some one whom Marcus could "go
in with" on a ranch.
It was toward the end of this period of three years that
Trina and McTeague had their first serious quarrel. Trina
had talked so much about having a little house of their own
at some future day, that McTeague had at length come to
regard the affair as the end and object of all their labors.
For a long time they had had their eyes upon one house in
particular. It was situated on a cross street close by,
between Polk Street and the great avenue one block above,
and hardly a Sunday afternoon passed that Trina and McTeague
did not go and look at it. They stood for fully half an
hour upon the other side of the street, examining every
detail of its exterior, hazarding guesses as to the
arrangement of the rooms, commenting upon its immediate
neighborhood--which was rather sordid. The house was a
wooden two-story arrangement, built by a misguided
contractor in a sort of hideous Queen Anne style, all
scrolls and meaningless mill work, with a cheap imitation of
stained glass in the light over the door. There was a
microscopic front yard full of dusty calla-lilies. The
front door boasted an electric bell. But for the McTeagues
it was an ideal home. Their idea was to live in this little
house, the dentist retaining merely his office in the
flat. The two places were but around the corner from each
other, so that McTeague could lunch with his wife, as usual,
and could even keep his early morning appointments and
return to breakfast if he so desired.
However, the house was occupied. A Hungarian family lived
in it. The father kept a stationery and notion "bazaar"
next to Heise's harness-shop on Polk Street, while the
oldest son played a third violin in the orchestra of a
theatre. The family rented the house unfurnished for
thirty-five dollars, paying extra for the water.
But one Sunday as Trina and McTeague on their way home from
their usual walk turned into the cross street on which the
little house was situated, they became promptly aware of an
unwonted bustle going on upon the sidewalk in front of it.
A dray was back against the curb, an express wagon drove
away loaded with furniture; bedsteads, looking-glasses, and
washbowls littered the sidewalks. The Hungarian family were
"Oh, Mac, look!" gasped Trina.
"Sure, sure," muttered the dentist.
After that they spoke but little. For upwards of an hour
the two stood upon the sidewalk opposite, watching intently
all that went forward, absorbed, excited.
On the evening of the next day they returned and visited the
house, finding a great delight in going from room to room
and imagining themselves installed therein. Here would be
the bedroom, here the dining-room, here a charming little
parlor. As they came out upon the front steps once more they
met the owner, an enormous, red-faced fellow, so fat that
his walking seemed merely a certain movement of his feet by
which he pushed his stomach along in front of him. Trina
talked with him a few moments, but arrived at no
understanding, and the two went away after giving him their
address. At supper that night McTeague said:
"Huh--what do you think, Trina?"
Trina put her chin in the air, tilting back her heavy tiara
of swarthy hair.
"I am not so sure yet. Thirty-five dollars and the
water extra. I don't think we can afford it, Mac."
"Ah, pshaw!" growled the dentist, "sure we can."
"It isn't only that," said Trina, "but it'll cost so much to
make the change."
"Ah, you talk's though we were paupers. Ain't we got five
Trina flushed on the instant, even to the lobes of her tiny
pale ears, and put her lips together.
"Now, Mac, you know I don't want you should talk like that.
That money's never, never to be touched."
"And you've been savun up a good deal, besides," went on
McTeague, exasperated at Trina's persistent economies. "How
much money have you got in that little brass match-safe in
the bottom of your trunk? Pretty near a hundred dollars, I
guess--ah, sure." He shut his eyes and nodded his great
head in a knowing way.
Trina had more than that in the brass match-safe in
question, but her instinct of hoarding had led her to keep
it a secret from her husband. Now she lied to him with
"A hundred dollars! What are you talking of, Mac? I've not
got fifty. I've not got THIRTY."
"Oh, let's take that little house," broke in McTeague. "We
got the chance now, and it may never come again. Come on,
Trina, shall we? Say, come on, shall we, huh?"
"We'd have to be awful saving if we did, Mac."
"Well, sure, I say let's take it."
"I don't know," said Trina, hesitating. "Wouldn't it be
lovely to have a house all to ourselves? But let's not
decide until to-morrow."
The next day the owner of the house called. Trina was out
at her morning's marketing and the dentist, who had no one
in the chair at the time, received him in the "Parlors."
Before he was well aware of it, McTeague had concluded the
bargain. The owner bewildered him with a world of phrases,
made him believe that it would be a great saving to
move into the little house, and finally offered it to him
"All right, all right," said McTeague, "I'll take it."
The other immediately produced a paper.
"Well, then, suppose you sign for the first month's rent,
and we'll call it a bargain. That's business, you know,"
and McTeague, hesitating, signed.
"I'd like to have talked more with my wife about it first,"
he said, dubiously.
"Oh, that's all right," answered the owner, easily. "I
guess if the head of the family wants a thing, that's
McTeague could not wait until lunch time to tell the news to
Trina. As soon as he heard her come in, he laid down the
plaster-of-paris mould he was making and went out into the
kitchen and found her chopping up onions.
"Well, Trina," he said, "we got that house. I've taken it."
"What do you mean?" she answered, quickly. The dentist told
"And you signed a paper for the first month's rent?"
"Sure, sure. That's business, you know."
"Well, why did you DO it?" cried Trina. "You might have
asked ME something about it. Now, what have you done?
I was talking with Mrs. Ryer about that house while I was
out this morning, and she said the Hungarians moved out
because it was absolutely unhealthy; there's water been
standing in the basement for months. And she told me, too,"
Trina went on indignantly, "that she knew the owner, and she
was sure we could get the house for thirty if we'd bargain
for it. Now what have you gone and done? I hadn't made up
my mind about taking the house at all. And now I WON'T
take it, with the water in the basement and all."
"Well--well," stammered McTeague, helplessly, "we needn't go
in if it's unhealthy."
"But you've signed a PAPER," cried Trina, exasperated.
"You've got to pay that first month's rent, anyhow--to
forfeit it. Oh, you are so stupid! There's thirty-
five dollars just thrown away. I SHAN'T go into that
house; we won't move a FOOT out of here. I've changed
my mind about it, and there's water in the basement
"Well, I guess we can stand thirty-five dollars," mumbled
the dentist, "if we've got to."
"Thirty-five dollars just thrown out of the window," cried
Trina, her teeth clicking, every instinct of her parsimony
aroused. "Oh, you the thick-wittedest man that I ever knew.
Do you think we're millionaires? Oh, to think of losing
thirty-five dollars like that." Tears were in her eyes,
tears of grief as well as of anger. Never had McTeague seen
his little woman so aroused. Suddenly she rose to her feet
and slammed the chopping-bowl down upon the table. "Well,
I won't pay a nickel of it," she exclaimed.
"Huh? What, what?" stammered the dentist, taken all aback by
"I say that you will find that money, that thirty-five
"It's your stupidity got us into this fix, and you'll be the
one that'll suffer by it."
"I can't do it, I WON'T do it. We'll--we'll share and
share alike. Why, you said--you told me you'd take the
house if the water was free."
"I NEVER did. I NEVER did. How can you stand there
and say such a thing?"
"You did tell me that," vociferated McTeague, beginning to
get angry in his turn.
"Mac, I didn't, and you know it. And what's more, I won't
pay a nickel. Mr. Heise pays his bill next week, it's
forty-three dollars, and you can just pay the thirty-five
out of that."
"Why, you got a whole hundred dollars saved up in your
match-safe," shouted the dentist, throwing out an arm with
an awkward gesture. "You pay half and I'll pay half, that's
"No, no, NO," exclaimed Trina. "It's not a hundred
dollars. You won't touch it; you won't touch my money, I
"Ah, how does it happen to be yours, I'd like to know?"
"It's mine! It's mine! It's mine!" cried Trina, her face
scarlet, her teeth clicking like the snap of a closing
"It ain't any more yours than it is mine."
"Every penny of it is mine."
"Ah, what a fine fix you'd get me into," growled the
dentist. "I've signed the paper with the owner; that's
business, you know, that's business, you know; and now you
go back on me. Suppose we'd taken the house, we'd 'a' shared
the rent, wouldn't we, just as we do here?"
Trina shrugged her shoulders with a great affectation of
indifference and began chopping the onions again.
"You settle it with the owner," she said. "It's your
affair; you've got the money." She pretended to assume a
certain calmness as though the matter was something that no
longer affected her. Her manner exasperated McTeague all
"No, I won't; no, I won't; I won't either," he shouted.
"I'll pay my half and he can come to you for the other
half." Trina put a hand over her ear to shut out his
"Ah, don't try and be smart," cried McTeague. "Come, now,
yes or no, will you pay your half?"
"You heard what I said."
"Will you pay it?"
"Miser!" shouted McTeague. "Miser! you're worse than old
Zerkow. All right, all right, keep your money. I'll pay
the whole thirty-five. I'd rather lose it than be such a
miser as you."
"Haven't you got anything to do," returned Trina, "instead
of staying here and abusing me?"
"Well, then, for the last time, will you help me out?"
Trina cut the heads of a fresh bunch of onions and gave no
"Huh? will you?"
"I'd like to have my kitchen to myself, please," she said in
a mincing way, irritating to a last degree. The
dentist stamped out of the room, banging the door behind
For nearly a week the breach between them remained unhealed.
Trina only spoke to the dentist in monosyllables, while he,
exasperated at her calmness and frigid reserve, sulked in
his "Dental Parlors," muttering terrible things beneath his
mustache, or finding solace in his concertina, playing his
six lugubrious airs over and over again, or swearing
frightful oaths at his canary. When Heise paid his bill,
McTeague, in a fury, sent the amount to the owner of the
There was no formal reconciliation between the dentist and
his little woman. Their relations readjusted themselves
inevitably. By the end of the week they were as amicable as
ever, but it was long before they spoke of the little house
again. Nor did they ever revisit it of a Sunday afternoon.
A month or so later the Ryers told them that the owner
himself had moved in. The McTeagues never occupied that
But Trina suffered a reaction after the quarrel. She began
to be sorry she had refused to help her husband, sorry she
had brought matters to such an issue. One afternoon as she
was at work on the Noah's ark animals, she surprised herself
crying over the affair. She loved her "old bear" too much
to do him an injustice, and perhaps, after all, she had been
in the wrong. Then it occurred to her how pretty it would be
to come up behind him unexpectedly, and slip the money,
thirty-five dollars, into his hand, and pull his huge head
down to her and kiss his bald spot as she used to do in the
days before they were married.
Then she hesitated, pausing in her work, her knife dropping
into her lap, a half-whittled figure between her fingers.
If not thirty-five dollars, then at least fifteen or
sixteen, her share of it. But a feeling of reluctance, a
sudden revolt against this intended generosity, arose in
"No, no," she said to herself. "I'll give him ten dollars.
I'll tell him it's all I can afford. It IS all I can
She hastened to finish the figure of the animal she was then
at work upon, putting in the ears and tail with a drop
of glue, and tossing it into the basket at her side. Then
she rose and went into the bedroom and opened her trunk,
taking the key from under a corner of the carpet where she
kept it hid.
At the very bottom of her trunk, under her bridal dress, she
kept her savings. It was all in change--half dollars and
dollars for the most part, with here and there a gold piece.
Long since the little brass match-box had overflowed. Trina
kept the surplus in a chamois-skin sack she had made from an
old chest protector. Just now, yielding to an impulse which
often seized her, she drew out the match-box and the chamois
sack, and emptying the contents on the bed, counted them
carefully. It came to one hundred and sixty-five dollars,
all told. She counted it and recounted it and made little
piles of it, and rubbed the gold pieces between the folds of
her apron until they shone.
"Ah, yes, ten dollars is all I can afford to give Mac," said
Trina, "and even then, think of it, ten dollars--it will be
four or five months before I can save that again. But, dear
old Mac, I know it would make him feel glad, and perhaps,"
she added, suddenly taken with an idea, "perhaps Mac will
refuse to take it."
She took a ten-dollar piece from the heap and put the rest
away. Then she paused:
"No, not the gold piece," she said to herself. "It's too
pretty. He can have the silver." She made the change and
counted out ten silver dollars into her palm. But what a
difference it made in the appearance and weight of the
little chamois bag! The bag was shrunken and withered, long
wrinkles appeared running downward from the draw-string. It
was a lamentable sight. Trina looked longingly at the ten
broad pieces in her hand. Then suddenly all her intuitive
desire of saving, her instinct of hoarding, her love of
money for the money's sake, rose strong within her.
"No, no, no," she said. "I can't do it. It may be mean,
but I can't help it. It's stronger than I." She returned
the money to the bag and locked it and the brass match-box
in her trunk, turning the key with a long breath of
She was a little troubled, however, as she went back
into the sitting-room and took up her work.
"I didn't use to be so stingy," she told herself. "Since I
won in the lottery I've become a regular little miser. It's
growing on me, but never mind, it's a good fault, and,
anyhow, I can't help it."
On that particular morning the McTeagues had risen a half
hour earlier than usual and taken a hurried breakfast in the
kitchen on the deal table with its oilcloth cover. Trina
was house-cleaning that week and had a presentiment of a
hard day's work ahead of her, while McTeague remembered a
seven o'clock appointment with a little German shoemaker.
At about eight o'clock, when the dentist had been in his
office for over an hour, Trina descended upon the bedroom, a
towel about her head and the roller-sweeper in her hand.
She covered the bureau and sewing machine with sheets, and
unhooked the chenille portieres between the bedroom and the
sitting-room. As she was tying the Nottingham lace curtains
at the window into great knots, she saw old Miss Baker on
the opposite sidewalk in the street below, and raising the
sash called down to her.
"Oh, it's you, Mrs. McTeague," cried the retired dressmaker,
facing about, her head in the air. Then a long conversation
was begun, Trina, her arms folded under her breast, her
elbows resting on the window ledge, willing to be idle for a
moment; old Miss Baker, her market-basket on her arm, her
hands wrapped in the ends of her worsted shawl against
the cold of the early morning. They exchanged phrases,
calling to each other from window to curb, their breath
coming from their lips in faint puffs of vapor, their voices
shrill, and raised to dominate the clamor of the waking
street. The newsboys had made their appearance on the
street, together with the day laborers. The cable cars had
begun to fill up; all along the street could be seen the
shopkeepers taking down their shutters; some were still
breakfasting. Now and then a waiter from one of the cheap
restaurants crossed from one sidewalk to another, balancing
on one palm a tray covered with a napkin.
"Aren't you out pretty early this morning, Miss Baker?"
"No, no," answered the other. "I'm always up at half-past
six, but I don't always get out so soon. I wanted to get a
nice head of cabbage and some lentils for a soup, and if you
don't go to market early, the restaurants get all the best."
"And you've been to market already, Miss Baker?"
"Oh, my, yes; and I got a fish--a sole--see." She drew the
sole in question from her basket.
"Oh, the lovely sole!" exclaimed Trina.
"I got this one at Spadella's; he always has good fish on
Friday. How is the doctor, Mrs. McTeague?"
"Ah, Mac is always well, thank you, Miss Baker."
"You know, Mrs. Ryer told me," cried the little dressmaker,
moving forward a step out of the way of a "glass-put-in"
man, "that Doctor McTeague pulled a tooth of that Catholic
priest, Father--oh, I forget his name--anyhow, he pulled his
tooth with his fingers. Was that true, Mrs. McTeague?"
"Oh, of course. Mac does that almost all the time now,
'specially with front teeth. He's got a regular reputation
for it. He says it's brought him more patients than even
the sign I gave him," she added, pointing to the big golden
molar projecting from the office window.
"With his fingers! Now, think of that," exclaimed Miss
Baker, wagging her head. "Isn't he that strong! It's just
wonderful. Cleaning house to-day?" she inquired,
glancing at Trina's towelled head.
"Um hum," answered Trina. "Maria Macapa's coming in to help
At the mention of Maria's name the little old dressmaker
suddenly uttered an exclamation.
"Well, if I'm not here talking to you and forgetting
something I was just dying to tell you. Mrs. McTeague, what
ever in the world do you suppose? Maria and old Zerkow,
that red-headed Polish Jew, the rag-bottles-sacks man, you
know, they're going to be married."
"No!" cried Trina, in blank amazement. "You don't mean it."
"Of course I do. Isn't it the funniest thing you ever heard
"Oh, tell me all about it," said Trina, leaning eagerly from
the window. Miss Baker crossed the street and stood just
"Well, Maria came to me last night and wanted me to make her
a new gown, said she wanted something gay, like what the
girls at the candy store wear when they go out with their
young men. I couldn't tell what had got into the girl,
until finally she told me she wanted something to get
married in, and that Zerkow had asked her to marry him, and
that she was going to do it. Poor Maria! I guess it's the
first and only offer she ever received, and it's just turned
"But what DO those two see in each other?" cried Trina.
"Zerkow is a horror, he's an old man, and his hair is red
and his voice is gone, and then he's a Jew, isn't he?"
"I know, I know; but it's Maria's only chance for a husband,
and she don't mean to let it pass. You know she isn't quite
right in her head, anyhow. I'm awfully sorry for poor
Maria. But I can't see what Zerkow wants to marry her
for. It's not possible that he's in love with Maria, it's
out of the question. Maria hasn't a sou, either, and I'm
just positive that Zerkow has lots of money."
"I'll bet I know why," exclaimed Trina, with sudden
conviction; "yes, I know just why. See here, Miss Baker,
you know how crazy old Zerkow is after money and gold
and those sort of things."
"Yes, I know; but you know Maria hasn't----"
"Now, just listen. You've heard Maria tell about that
wonderful service of gold dishes she says her folks used to
own in Central America; she's crazy on that subject, don't
you know. She's all right on everything else, but just
start her on that service of gold plate and she'll talk you
deaf. She can describe it just as though she saw it, and
she can make you see it, too, almost. Now, you see, Maria
and Zerkow have known each other pretty well. Maria goes to
him every two weeks or so to sell him junk; they got
acquainted that way, and I know Maria's been dropping in to
see him pretty often this last year, and sometimes he comes
here to see her. He's made Maria tell him the story of that
plate over and over and over again, and Maria does it and is
glad to, because he's the only one that believes it. Now
he's going to marry her just so's he can hear that story
every day, every hour. He's pretty near as crazy on the
subject as Maria is. They're a pair for you, aren't they?
Both crazy over a lot of gold dishes that never existed.
Perhaps Maria'll marry him because it's her only chance to
get a husband, but I'm sure it's more for the reason that
she's got some one to talk to now who believes her story.
Don't you think I'm right?"
"Yes, yes, I guess you're right," admitted Miss Baker.
"But it's a queer match anyway you put it," said Trina,
"Ah, you may well say that," returned the other, nodding her
head. There was a silence. For a long moment the dentist's
wife and the retired dressmaker, the one at the window, the
other on the sidewalk, remained lost in thought, wondering
over the strangeness of the affair.
But suddenly there was a diversion. Alexander, Marcus
Schouler's Irish setter, whom his master had long since
allowed the liberty of running untrammelled about the
neighborhood, turned the corner briskly and came trotting
along the sidewalk where Miss Baker stood. At the same
moment the Scotch collie who had at one time belonged
to the branch post-office issued from the side door of a
house not fifty feet away. In an instant the two enemies
had recognized each other. They halted abruptly, their fore
feet planted rigidly. Trina uttered a little cry.
"Oh, look out, Miss Baker. Those two dogs hate each other
just like humans. You best look out. They'll fight sure."
Miss Baker sought safety in a nearby vestibule, whence she
peered forth at the scene, very interested and curious.
Maria Macapa's head thrust itself from one of the top-story
windows of the flat, with a shrill cry. Even McTeague's
huge form appeared above the half curtains of the "Parlor"
windows, while over his shoulder could be seen the face of
the "patient," a napkin tucked in his collar, the rubber dam
depending from his mouth. All the flat knew of the feud
between the dogs, but never before had the pair been brought
face to face.
Meanwhile, the collie and the setter had drawn near to each
other; five feet apart they paused as if by mutual consent.
The collie turned sidewise to the setter; the setter
instantly wheeled himself flank on to the collie. Their
tails rose and stiffened, they raised their lips over their
long white fangs, the napes of their necks bristled, and
they showed each other the vicious whites of their eyes,
while they drew in their breaths with prolonged and rasping
snarls. Each dog seemed to be the personification of fury
and unsatisfied hate. They began to circle about each other
with infinite slowness, walking stiffed-legged and upon the
very points of their feet. Then they wheeled about and
began to circle in the opposite direction. Twice they
repeated this motion, their snarls growing louder. But
still they did not come together, and the distance of five
feet between them was maintained with an almost mathematical
precision. It was magnificent, but it was not war. Then
the setter, pausing in his walk, turned his head slowly from
his enemy. The collie sniffed the air and pretended an
interest in an old shoe lying in the gutter. Gradually and
with all the dignity of monarchs they moved away from each
other. Alexander stalked back to the corner of the street.
The collie paced toward the side gate whence he had
issued, affecting to remember something of great importance.
They disappeared. Once out of sight of one another they
began to bark furiously.
"Well, I NEVER!" exclaimed Trina in great disgust. "The
way those two dogs have been carrying on you'd 'a' thought
they would 'a' just torn each other to pieces when they had
the chance, and here I'm wasting the whole morning----" she
closed her window with a bang.
"Sick 'im, sick 'im," called Maria Macapa, in a vain attempt
to promote a fight.
Old Miss Baker came out of the vestibule, pursing her lips,
quite put out at the fiasco. "And after all that fuss," she
said to herself aggrievedly.
The little dressmaker bought an envelope of nasturtium seeds
at the florist's, and returned to her tiny room in the flat.
But as she slowly mounted the first flight of steps she
suddenly came face to face with Old Grannis, who was coming
down. It was between eight and nine, and he was on his way
to his little dog hospital, no doubt. Instantly Miss Baker
was seized with trepidation, her curious little false curls
shook, a faint--a very faint--flush came into her withered
cheeks, and her heart beat so violently under the worsted
shawl that she felt obliged to shift the market-basket to
her other arm and put out her free hand to steady herself
against the rail.
On his part, Old Grannis was instantly overwhelmed with
confusion. His awkwardness seemed to paralyze his limbs,
his lips twitched and turned dry, his hand went tremblingly
to his chin. But what added to Miss Baker's miserable
embarrassment on this occasion was the fact that the old
Englishman should meet her thus, carrying a sordid market-
basket full of sordid fish and cabbage. It seemed as if a
malicious fate persisted in bringing the two old people face
to face at the most inopportune moments.
Just now, however, a veritable catastrophe occurred. The
little old dressmaker changed her basket to her other arm at
precisely the wrong moment, and Old Grannis, hastening to
pass, removing his hat in a hurried salutation, struck it
with his fore arm, knocking it from her grasp, and
sending it rolling and bumping down the stairs. The sole
fell flat upon the first landing; the lentils scattered
themselves over the entire flight; while the cabbage,
leaping from step to step, thundered down the incline and
brought up against the street door with a shock that
reverberated through the entire building.
The little retired dressmaker, horribly vexed, nervous and
embarrassed, was hard put to it to keep back the tears. Old
Grannis stood for a moment with averted eyes, murmuring:
"Oh, I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry. I--I really--I beg your
Marcus Schouler, coming down stairs from his room, saved the
"Hello, people," he cried. "By damn! you've upset your
basket--you have, for a fact. Here, let's pick um up." He
and Old Grannis went up and down the flight, gathering up
the fish, the lentils, and the sadly battered cabbage.
Marcus was raging over the pusillanimity of Alexander, of
which Maria had just told him.
"I'll cut him in two--with the whip," he shouted. "I will,
I will, I say I will, for a fact. He wouldn't fight, hey?
I'll give um all the fight he wants, nasty, mangy cur. If
he won't fight he won't eat. I'm going to get the butcher's
bull pup and I'll put um both in a bag and shake um up. I
will, for a fact, and I guess Alec will fight. Come along,
Mister Grannis," and he took the old Englishman away.
Little Miss Baker hastened to her room and locked herself
in. She was excited and upset during all the rest of the
day, and listened eagerly for Old Grannis's return that
evening. He went instantly to work binding up "The Breeder
and Sportsman," and back numbers of the "Nation." She heard
him softly draw his chair and the table on which he had
placed his little binding apparatus close to the wall. At
once she did the same, brewing herself a cup of tea. All
through that evening the two old people "kept company" with
each other, after their own peculiar fashion. "Setting out
with each other" Miss Baker had begun to call it. That they
had been presented, that they had even been forced to
talk together, had made no change in their relative
positions. Almost immediately they had fallen back into
their old ways again, quite unable to master their timidity,
to overcome the stifling embarrassment that seized upon them
when in each other's presence. It was a sort of hypnotism,
a thing stronger than themselves. But they were not
altogether dissatisfied with the way things had come to be.
It was their little romance, their last, and they were
living through it with supreme enjoyment and calm
Marcus Schouler still occupied his old room on the floor
above the McTeagues. They saw but little of him, however.
At long intervals the dentist or his wife met him on the
stairs of the flat. Sometimes he would stop and talk with
Trina, inquiring after the Sieppes, asking her if Mr. Sieppe
had yet heard of any one with whom he, Marcus, could "go in
with on a ranch." McTeague, Marcus merely nodded to. Never
had the quarrel between the two men been completely patched
up. It did not seem possible to the dentist now that Marcus
had ever been his "pal," that they had ever taken long walks
together. He was sorry that he had treated Marcus gratis
for an ulcerated tooth, while Marcus daily recalled the fact
that he had given up his "girl" to his friend--the girl who
had won a fortune--as the great mistake of his life. Only
once since the wedding had he called upon Trina, at a time
when he knew McTeague would be out. Trina had shown him
through the rooms and had told him, innocently enough, how
gay was their life there. Marcus had come away fairly sick
with envy; his rancor against the dentist--and against
himself, for that matter--knew no bounds. "And you might
'a' had it all yourself, Marcus Schouler," he muttered to
himself on the stairs. "You mushhead, you damn fool!"
Meanwhile, Marcus was becoming involved in the politics of
his ward. As secretary of the Polk Street Improvement Club
--which soon developed into quite an affair and began to
assume the proportions of a Republican political machine--he
found he could make a little, a very little more than enough
to live on. At once he had given up his position as Old
Grannis's assistant in the dog hospital. Marcus felt
that he needed a wider sphere. He had his eye upon a place
connected with the city pound. When the great railroad
strike occurred, he promptly got himself engaged as deputy-
sheriff, and spent a memorable week in Sacramento, where he
involved himself in more than one terrible melee with the
strikers. Marcus had that quickness of temper and
passionate readiness to take offence which passes among his
class for bravery. But whatever were his motives, his
promptness to face danger could not for a moment be doubted.
After the strike he returned to Polk Street, and throwing
himself into the Improvement Club, heart, soul, and body,
soon became one of its ruling spirits. In a certain local
election, where a huge paving contract was at stake, the
club made itself felt in the ward, and Marcus so managed his
cards and pulled his wires that, at the end of the matter,
he found himself some four hundred dollars to the good.
When McTeague came out of his "Parlors" at noon of the day
upon which Trina had heard the news of Maria Macapa's
intended marriage, he found Trina burning coffee on a shovel
in the sitting-room. Try as she would, Trina could never
quite eradicate from their rooms a certain faint and
indefinable odor, particularly offensive to her. The smell
of the photographer's chemicals persisted in spite of all
Trina could do to combat it. She burnt pastilles and
Chinese punk, and even, as now, coffee on a shovel, all to
no purpose. Indeed, the only drawback to their delightful
home was the general unpleasant smell that pervaded it--a
smell that arose partly from the photographer's chemicals,
partly from the cooking in the little kitchen, and partly
from the ether and creosote of the dentist's "Parlors."
As McTeague came in to lunch on this occasion, he found the
table already laid, a red cloth figured with white flowers
was spread, and as he took his seat his wife put down the
shovel on a chair and brought in the stewed codfish and the
pot of chocolate. As he tucked his napkin into his enormous
collar, McTeague looked vaguely about the room, rolling his
During the three years of their married life the McTeagues
had made but few additions to their furniture, Trina
declaring that they could not afford it. The sitting-
room could boast of but three new ornaments. Over the
melodeon hung their marriage certificate in a black frame.
It was balanced upon one side by Trina's wedding bouquet
under a glass case, preserved by some fearful unknown
process, and upon the other by the photograph of Trina and
the dentist in their wedding finery. This latter picture
was quite an affair, and had been taken immediately after
the wedding, while McTeague's broadcloth was still new, and
before Trina's silks and veil had lost their stiffness. It
represented Trina, her veil thrown back, sitting very
straight in a rep armchair, her elbows well in at her sides,
holding her bouquet of cut flowers directly before her. The
dentist stood at her side, one hand on her shoulder, the
other thrust into the breast of his "Prince Albert," his
chin in the air, his eyes to one side, his left foot forward
in the attitude of a statue of a Secretary of State.
"Say, Trina," said McTeague, his mouth full of codfish,
"Heise looked in on me this morning. He says 'What's the
matter with a basket picnic over at Schuetzen Park next
Tuesday?' You know the paper-hangers are going to be in the
"Parlors" all that day, so I'll have a holiday. That's what
made Heise think of it. Heise says he'll get the Ryers to go
too. It's the anniversary of their wedding day. We'll ask
Selina to go; she can meet us on the other side. Come on,
let's go, huh, will you?"
Trina still had her mania for family picnics, which had been
one of the Sieppes most cherished customs; but now there
were other considerations.
"I don't know as we can afford it this month, Mac," she
said, pouring the chocolate. "I got to pay the gas bill
next week, and there's the papering of your office to be
paid for some time."
"I know, I know," answered her husband. "But I got a new
patient this week, had two molars and an upper incisor
filled at the very first sitting, and he's going to bring
his children round. He's a barber on the next block."
"Well you pay half, then," said Trina. "It'll cost three or
four dollars at the very least; and mind, the Heises pay
their own fare both ways, Mac, and everybody gets their
OWN lunch. Yes," she added, after a pause, "I'll write
and have Selina join us. I haven't seen Selina in months.
I guess I'll have to put up a lunch for her, though,"
admitted Trina, "the way we did last time, because she lives
in a boarding-house now, and they make a fuss about putting
up a lunch."
They could count on pleasant weather at this time of the
year--it was May--and that particular Tuesday was all that
could be desired. The party assembled at the ferry slip at
nine o'clock, laden with baskets. The McTeagues came last
of all; Ryer and his wife had already boarded the boat.
They met the Heises in the waiting-room.
"Hello, Doctor," cried the harness-maker as the McTeagues
came up. "This is what you'd call an old folks' picnic, all
married people this time."
The party foregathered on the upper deck as the boat
started, and sat down to listen to the band of Italian
musicians who were playing outside this morning because of
the fineness of the weather.
"Oh, we're going to have lots of fun," cried Trina. "If
it's anything I do love it's a picnic. Do you remember our
first picnic, Mac?"
"Sure, sure," replied the dentist; "we had a Gotha truffle."
"And August lost his steamboat, put in Trina, "and papa
smacked him. I remember it just as well."
"Why, look there," said Mrs. Heise, nodding at a figure
coming up the companion-way. "Ain't that Mr. Schouler?"
It was Marcus, sure enough. As he caught sight of the party
he gaped at them a moment in blank astonishment, and then
ran up, his eyes wide.
"Well, by damn!" he exclaimed, excitedly. "What's up?
Where you all going, anyhow? Say, ain't ut queer we should
all run up against each other like this?" He made great
sweeping bows to the three women, and shook hands with
"Cousin Trina," adding, as he turned to the men of the
party, "Glad to see you, Mister Heise. How do, Mister
Ryer?" The dentist, who had formulated some sort of
reserved greeting, he ignored completely. McTeague
settled himself in his seat, growling inarticulately
behind his mustache.
"Say, say, what's all up, anyhow?" cried Marcus again.
"It's a picnic," exclaimed the three women, all speaking at
once; and Trina added, "We're going over to the same old
Schuetzen Park again. But you're all fixed up yourself,
Cousin Mark; you look as though you were going somewhere
In fact, Marcus was dressed with great care. He wore a new
pair of slate-blue trousers, a black "cutaway," and a white
lawn "tie" (for him the symbol of the height of elegance).
He carried also his cane, a thin wand of ebony with a gold
head, presented to him by the Improvement Club in
"recognition of services."
"That's right, that's right," said Marcus, with a grin.
"I'm takun a holiday myself to-day. I had a bit of business
to do over at Oakland, an' I thought I'd go up to B Street
afterward and see Selina. I haven't called on----"
But the party uttered an exclamation.
"Why, Selina is going with us."
"She's going to meet us at the Schuetzen Park station"
Marcus's business in Oakland was a fiction. He was crossing
the bay that morning solely to see Selina. Marcus had
"taken up with" Selina a little after Trina had married, and
had been "rushing" her ever since, dazzled and attracted by
her accomplishments, for which he pretended a great respect.
At the prospect of missing Selina on this occasion, he was
genuinely disappointed. His vexation at once assumed the
form of exasperation against McTeague. It was all the
dentist's fault. Ah, McTeague was coming between him and
Selina now as he had come between him and Trina. Best look
out, by damn! how he monkeyed with him now. Instantly his
face flamed and he glanced over furiously at the dentist,
who, catching his eye, began again to mutter behind his
"Well, say," began Mrs. Ryer, with some hesitation, looking
to Ryer for approval, "why can't Marcus come along with us?"
"Why, of course," exclaimed Mrs. Heise, disregarding her
husband's vigorous nudges. "I guess we got lunch
enough to go round, all right; don't you say so, Mrs.
Thus appealed to, Trina could only concur.
"Why, of course, Cousin Mark," she said; "of course, come
along with us if you want to."
"Why, you bet I will," cried Marcus, enthusiastic in an
instant. "Say, this is outa sight; it is, for a fact; a
picnic--ah, sure--and we'll meet Selina at the station."
Just as the boat was passing Goat Island, the harness-maker
proposed that the men of the party should go down to the bar
on the lower deck and shake for the drinks. The idea had an
"Have to see you on that," said Ryer.
"By damn, we'll have a drink! Yes, sir, we will, for a
"Sure, sure, drinks, that's the word."
At the bar Heise and Ryer ordered cocktails, Marcus called
for a "creme Yvette" in order to astonish the others. The
dentist spoke for a glass of beer.
"Say, look here," suddenly exclaimed Heise as they took
their glasses. "Look here, you fellahs," he had turned to
Marcus and the dentist. "You two fellahs have had a grouch
at each other for the last year or so; now what's the matter
with your shaking hands and calling quits?"
McTeague was at once overcome with a great feeling of
magnanimity. He put out his great hand.
"I got nothing against Marcus," he growled.
"Well, I don't care if I shake," admitted Marcus, a little
shamefacedly, as their palms touched. "I guess that's all
"That's the idea," exclaimed Heise, delighted at his
success. "Come on, boys, now let's drink." Their elbows
crooked and they drank silently.
Their picnic that day was very jolly. Nothing had changed
at Schuetzen Park since the day of that other memorable
Sieppe picnic four years previous. After lunch the men took
themselves off to the rifle range, while Selina, Trina, and
the other two women put away the dishes. An hour later the
men joined them in great spirits. Ryer had won the
impromptu match which they had arranged, making quite a
wonderful score, which included three clean bulls' eyes,
while McTeague had not been able even to hit the target
Their shooting match had awakened a spirit of rivalry in the
men, and the rest of the afternoon was passed in athletic
exercises between them. The women sat on the slope of the
grass, their hats and gloves laid aside, watching the men as
they strove together. Aroused by the little feminine cries
of wonder and the clapping of their ungloved palms, these
latter began to show off at once. They took off their coats
and vests, even their neckties and collars, and worked
themselves into a lather of perspiration for the sake of
making an impression on their wives. They ran hundred-yard
sprints on the cinder path and executed clumsy feats on the
rings and on the parallel bars. They even found a huge
round stone on the beach and "put the shot" for a while. As
long as it was a question of agility, Marcus was easily the
best of the four; but the dentist's enormous strength, his
crude, untutored brute force, was a matter of wonder for the
entire party. McTeague cracked English walnuts--taken from
the lunch baskets--in the hollow of his arm, and tossed the
round stone a full five feet beyond their best mark. Heise
believed himself to be particularly strong in the wrists,
but the dentist, using but one hand, twisted a cane out of
Heise's two with a wrench that all but sprained the harness-
maker's arm. Then the dentist raised weights and chinned
himself on the rings till they thought he would never tire.
His great success quite turned his head; he strutted back
and forth in front of the women, his chest thrown out, and
his great mouth perpetually expanded in a triumphant grin.
As he felt his strength more and more, he began to abuse it;
he domineered over the others, gripping suddenly at their
arms till they squirmed with pain, and slapping Marcus on
the back so that he gasped and gagged for breath. The
childish vanity of the great fellow was as undisguised as
that of a schoolboy. He began to tell of wonderful feats of
strength he had accomplished when he was a young man. Why,
at one time he had knocked down a half-grown heifer with
a blow of his fist between the eyes, sure, and the
heifer had just stiffened out and trembled all over and died
without getting up.
McTeague told this story again, and yet again. All through
the afternoon he could be overheard relating the wonder to
any one who would listen, exaggerating the effect of his
blow, inventing terrific details. Why, the heifer had just
frothed at the mouth, and his eyes had rolled up--ah, sure,
his eyes rolled up just like that--and the butcher had said
his skull was all mashed in--just all mashed in, sure,
that's the word--just as if from a sledge-hammer.
Notwithstanding his reconciliation with the dentist on the
boat, Marcus's gorge rose within him at McTeague's boasting
swagger. When McTeague had slapped him on the back, Marcus
had retired to some little distance while he recovered his
breath, and glared at the dentist fiercely as he strode up
and down, glorying in the admiring glances of the women.
"Ah, one-horse dentist," he muttered between his teeth.
"Ah, zinc-plugger, cow-killer, I'd like to show you once,
you overgrown mucker, you--you--COW-KILLER!"
When he rejoined the group, he found them preparing for a
"I tell you what," said Heise, "we'll have a tournament.
Marcus and I will rastle, and Doc and Ryer, and then the
winners will rastle each other."
The women clapped their hands excitedly. This would be
exciting. Trina cried:
"Better let me hold your money, Mac, and your keys, so as
you won't lose them out of your pockets." The men gave
their valuables into the keeping of their wives and promptly
set to work.
The dentist thrust Ryer down without even changing his grip;
Marcus and the harness-maker struggled together for a few
moments till Heise all at once slipped on a bit of turf and
fell backwards. As they toppled over together, Marcus
writhed himself from under his opponent, and, as they
reached the ground, forced down first one shoulder and then
"All right, all right," panted the harness-maker, good-
naturedly, "I'm down. It's up to you and Doc now," he
added, as he got to his feet.
The match between McTeague and Marcus promised to be
interesting. The dentist, of course, had an enormous
advantage in point of strength, but Marcus prided himself on
his wrestling, and knew something about strangle-holds and
half-Nelsons. The men drew back to allow them a free space
as they faced each other, while Trina and the other women
rose to their feet in their excitement.
"I bet Mac will throw him, all the same," said Trina.
"All ready!" cried Ryer.
The dentist and Marcus stepped forward, eyeing each other
cautiously. They circled around the impromptu ring. Marcus
watching eagerly for an opening. He ground his teeth,
telling himself he would throw McTeague if it killed him.
Ah, he'd show him now. Suddenly the two men caught at each
other; Marcus went to his knees. The dentist threw his vast
bulk on his adversary's shoulders and, thrusting a huge palm
against his face, pushed him backwards and downwards. It
was out of the question to resist that enormous strength.
Marcus wrenched himself over and fell face downward on the
McTeague rose on the instant with a great laugh of
"You're down!" he exclaimed.
Marcus leaped to his feet.
"Down nothing," he vociferated, with clenched fists. "Down
nothing, by damn! You got to throw me so's my shoulders
McTeague was stalking about, swelling with pride.
"Hoh, you're down. I threw you. Didn't I throw him, Trina?
Hoh, you can't rastle ME."
Marcus capered with rage.
"You didn't! you didn't! you didn't! and you can't! You got
to give me another try."
The other men came crowding up. Everybody was talking at
"You didn't throw him."
"Both his shoulders at the same time."
Trina clapped and waved her hand at McTeague from where she
stood on the little slope of lawn above the wrestlers.
Marcus broke through the group, shaking all over with
excitement and rage.
"I tell you that ain't the WAY to rastle. You've got to
throw a man so's his shoulders touch. You got to give me
"That's straight," put in Heise, "both his shoulders down at
the same time. Try it again. You and Schouler have another
McTeague was bewildered by so much simultaneous talk. He
could not make out what it was all about. Could he have
offended Marcus again?
"What? What? Huh? What is it?" he exclaimed in
perplexity, looking from one to the other.
"Come on, you must rastle me again," shouted Marcus.
"Sure, sure," cried the dentist. "I'll rastle you again.
I'll rastle everybody," he cried, suddenly struck with an
idea. Trina looked on in some apprehension.
"Mark gets so mad," she said, half aloud.
"Yes," admitted Selina. "Mister Schouler's got an awful
quick temper, but he ain't afraid of anything."
"All ready!" shouted Ryer.
This time Marcus was more careful. Twice, as McTeague
rushed at him, he slipped cleverly away. But as the dentist
came in a third time, with his head bowed, Marcus, raising
himself to his full height, caught him with both arms around
the neck. The dentist gripped at him and rent away the
sleeve of his shirt. There was a great laugh.
"Keep your shirt on," cried Mrs. Ryer.
The two men were grappling at each other wildly. The party
could hear them panting and grunting as they labored and
struggled. Their boots tore up great clods of turf.
Suddenly they came to the ground with a tremendous shock.
But even as they were in the act of falling, Marcus,
like a very eel, writhed in the dentist's clasp and fell
upon his side. McTeague crashed down upon him like the
collapse of a felled ox.
"Now, you gotta turn him on his back," shouted Heise to the
dentist. "He ain't down if you don't."
With his huge salient chin digging into Marcus's shoulder,
the dentist heaved and tugged. His face was flaming, his
huge shock of yellow hair fell over his forehead, matted
with sweat. Marcus began to yield despite his frantic
efforts. One shoulder was down, now the other began to go;
gradually, gradually it was forced over. The little
audience held its breath in the suspense of the moment.
Selina broke the silence, calling out shrilly:
"Ain't Doctor McTeague just that strong!"
Marcus heard it, and his fury came instantly to a head.
Rage at his defeat at the hands of the dentist and before
Selina's eyes, the hate he still bore his old-time "pal" and
the impotent wrath of his own powerlessness were suddenly
"God damn you! get off of me," he cried under his breath,
spitting the words as a snake spits its venom. The little
audience uttered a cry. With the oath Marcus had twisted
his head and had bitten through the lobe of the dentist's
ear. There was a sudden flash of bright-red blood.
Then followed a terrible scene. The brute that in McTeague
lay so close to the surface leaped instantly to life,
monstrous, not to be resisted. He sprang to his feet with a
shrill and meaningless clamor, totally unlike the ordinary
bass of his speaking tones. It was the hideous yelling of a
hurt beast, the squealing of a wounded elephant. He framed
no words; in the rush of high-pitched sound that issued from
his wide-open mouth there was nothing articulate. It was
something no longer human; it was rather an echo from the
Sluggish enough and slow to anger on ordinary occasions,
McTeague when finally aroused became another man. His rage
was a kind of obsession, an evil mania, the drunkenness of
passion, the exalted and perverted fury of the Berserker,
blind and deaf, a thing insensate.
As he rose he caught Marcus's wrist in both his hands.
He did not strike, he did not know what he was doing. His
only idea was to batter the life out of the man before him,
to crush and annihilate him upon the instant. Gripping his
enemy in his enormous hands, hard and knotted, and covered
with a stiff fell of yellow hair--the hands of the old-time
car-boy--he swung him wide, as a hammer-thrower swings his
hammer. Marcus's feet flipped from the ground, he spun
through the air about McTeague as helpless as a bundle of
clothes. All at once there was a sharp snap, almost like
the report of a small pistol. Then Marcus rolled over and
over upon the ground as McTeague released his grip; his arm,
the one the dentist had seized, bending suddenly, as though
a third joint had formed between wrist and elbow. The arm
But by this time every one was crying out at once. Heise
and Ryan ran in between the two men. Selina turned her head
away. Trina was wringing her hands and crying in an agony of
"Oh, stop them, stop them! Don't let them fight. Oh, it's
"Here, here, Doc, quit. Don't make a fool of yourself,"
cried Heise, clinging to the dentist. "That's enough now.
LISTEN to me, will you?"
"Oh, Mac, Mac," cried Trina, running to her husband. "Mac,
dear, listen; it's me, it's Trina, look at me, you----"
"Get hold of his other arm, will you, Ryer?" panted Heise.
"Mac, Mac," cried Trina, her arms about his neck.
"For God's sake, hold up, Doc, will you?" shouted the
harness-maker. "You don't want to kill him, do you?"
Mrs. Ryer and Heise's lame wife were filling the air with
their outcries. Selina was giggling with hysteria. Marcus,
terrified, but too brave to run, had picked up a jagged
stone with his left hand and stood on the defensive. His
swollen right arm, from which the shirt sleeve had been
torn, dangled at his side, the back of the hand twisted
where the palm should have been. The shirt itself was a
mass of grass stains and was spotted with the dentist's
But McTeague, in the centre of the group that struggled
to hold him, was nigh to madness. The side of his face, his
neck, and all the shoulder and breast of his shirt were
covered with blood. He had ceased to cry out, but kept
muttering between his gripped jaws, as he labored to tear
himself free of the retaining hands:
"Ah, I'll kill him! Ah, I'll kill him! I'll kill him!
Damn you, Heise," he exclaimed suddenly, trying to strike
the harness-maker, "let go of me, will you!"
Little by little they pacified him, or rather (for he paid
but little attention to what was said to him) his bestial
fury lapsed by degrees. He turned away and let fall his
arms, drawing long breaths, and looking stupidly about him,
now searching helplessly upon the ground, now gazing vaguely
into the circle of faces about him. His ear bled as though
it would never stop.
"Say, Doctor," asked Heise, "what's the best thing to do?"
"Huh?" answered McTeague. "What--what do you mean? What is
"What'll we do to stop this bleeding here?"
McTeague did not answer, but looked intently at the blood-
stained bosom of his shirt.
"Mac," cried Trina, her face close to his, "tell us
something--the best thing we can do to stop your ear
"Collodium," said the dentist.
"But we can't get to that right away; we--"
"There's some ice in our lunch basket," broke in Heise. "We
brought it for the beer; and take the napkins and make a
"Ice," muttered the dentist, "sure, ice, that's the word."
Mrs. Heise and the Ryers were looking after Marcus's broken
arm. Selina sat on the slope of the grass, gasping and
sobbing. Trina tore the napkins into strips, and, crushing
some of the ice, made a bandage for her husband's head.'
The party resolved itself into two groups; the Ryers and
Mrs. Heise bending over Marcus, while the harness-maker and
Trina came and went about McTeague, sitting on the ground,
his shirt, a mere blur of red and white, detaching itself
violently from the background of pale-green grass. Between
the two groups was the torn and trampled bit of turf, the
wrestling ring; the picnic baskets, together with empty beer
bottles, broken egg-shells, and discarded sardine tins, were
scattered here and there. In the middle of the improvised
wrestling ring the sleeve of Marcus's shirt fluttered
occasionally in the sea breeze.
Nobody was paying any attention to Selina. All at once she
began to giggle hysterically again, then cried out with a
peal of laughter:
"Oh, what a way for our picnic to end!"