Part 2 out of 5
"The queer, I guess," said Harry. "Or else he's one of Jerome's men.
Or some guy with a new graft. He's too much hayseed. Maybe that his--I
wonder now--oh, no, it couldn't have been real money."
Haylocks wandered on. Thirst probably assailed him again, for he dived
into a dark groggery on a side street and bought beer. At first sight
of him their eyes brightened; but when his insistent and exaggerated
rusticity became apparent their expressions changed to wary suspicion.
Haylocks swung his valise across the bar.
"Keep that a while for me, mister," he said, chewing at the end of a
virulent claybank cigar. "I'll be back after I knock around a spell. And
keep your eye on it, for there's $950 inside of it, though maybe you
wouldn't think so to look at me."
Somewhere outside a phonograph struck up a band piece, and Haylocks was
off for it, his coat-tail buttons flopping in the middle of his back.
"Divvy, Mike," said the men hanging upon the bar, winking openly at one
"Honest, now," said the bartender, kicking the valise to one side. "You
don't think I'd fall to that, do you? Anybody can see he ain't no jay.
One of McAdoo's come-on squad, I guess. He's a shine if he made himself
up. There ain't no parts of the country now where they dress like that
since they run rural free delivery to Providence, Rhode Island. If he's
got nine-fifty in that valise it's a ninety-eight cent Waterbury that's
stopped at ten minutes to ten."
When Haylocks had exhausted the resources of Mr. Edison to amuse he
returned for his valise. And then down Broadway he gallivanted, culling
the sights with his eager blue eyes. But still and evermore Broadway
rejected him with curt glances and sardonic smiles. He was the oldest of
the "gags" that the city must endure. He was so flagrantly impossible,
so ultra rustic, so exaggerated beyond the most freakish products of the
barnyard, the hayfield and the vaudeville stage, that he excited only
weariness and suspicion. And the wisp of hay in his hair was so genuine,
so fresh and redolent of the meadows, so clamorously rural that even a
shell-game man would have put up his peas and folded his table at the
sight of it.
Haylocks seated himself upon a flight of stone steps and once more
exhumed his roll of yellow-backs from the valise. The outer one, a
twenty, he shucked off and beckoned to a newsboy.
"Son," said he, "run somewhere and get this changed for me. I'm mighty
nigh out of chicken feed. I guess you'll get a nickel if you'll hurry
A hurt look appeared through the dirt on the newsy's face.
"Aw, watchert'ink! G'wan and get yer funny bill changed yerself. Dey
ain't no farm clothes yer got on. G'wan wit yer stage money."
On a corner lounged a keen-eyed steerer for a gambling-house. He saw
Haylocks, and his expression suddenly grew cold and virtuous.
"Mister," said the rural one. "I've heard of places in this here town
where a fellow could have a good game of old sledge or peg a card at
keno. I got $950 in this valise, and I come down from old Ulster to see
the sights. Know where a fellow could get action on about $9 or $10? I'm
goin' to have some sport, and then maybe I'll buy out a business of some
The steerer looked pained, and investigated a white speck on his left
"Cheese it, old man," he murmured, reproachfully. "The Central Office
must be bughouse to send you out looking like such a gillie. You
couldn't get within two blocks of a sidewalk crap game in them Tony
Pastor props. The recent Mr. Scotty from Death Valley has got you beat
a crosstown block in the way of Elizabethan scenery and mechanical
accessories. Let it be skiddoo for yours. Nay, I know of no gilded halls
where one may bet a patrol wagon on the ace."
Rebuffed once again by the great city that is so swift to detect
artificialities, Haylocks sat upon the curb and presented his thoughts
to hold a conference.
"It's my clothes," said he; "durned if it ain't. They think I'm a
hayseed and won't have nothin' to do with me. Nobody never made fun of
this hat in Ulster County. I guess if you want folks to notice you in
New York you must dress up like they do."
So Haylocks went shopping in the bazaars where men spake through their
noses and rubbed their hands and ran the tape line ecstatically over the
bulge in his inside pocket where reposed a red nubbin of corn with an
even number of rows. And messengers bearing parcels and boxes streamed
to his hotel on Broadway within the lights of Long Acre.
At 9 o'clock in the evening one descended to the sidewalk whom Ulster
County would have foresworn. Bright tan were his shoes; his hat the
latest block. His light gray trousers were deeply creased; a gay blue
silk handkerchief flapped from the breast pocket of his elegant English
walking coat. His collar might have graced a laundry window; his blond
hair was trimmed close; the wisp of hay was gone.
For an instant he stood, resplendent, with the leisurely air of a
boulevardier concocting in his mind the route for his evening pleasures.
And then he turned down the gay, bright street with the easy and
graceful tread of a millionaire.
But in the instant that he had paused the wisest and keenest eyes in the
city had enveloped him in their field of vision. A stout man with gray
eyes picked two of his friends with a lift of his eyebrows from the row
of loungers in front of the hotel.
"The juiciest jay I've seen in six months," said the man with gray eyes.
It was half-past eleven when a man galloped into the West Forty-seventh
Street Police Station with the story of his wrongs.
"Nine hundred and fifty dollars," he gasped, "all my share of
The desk sergeant wrung from him the name Jabez Bulltongue, of Locust
Valley farm, Ulster County, and then began to take descriptions of the
When Conant went to see the editor about the fate of his poem, he was
received over the head of the office boy into the inner office that is
decorated with the statuettes by Rodin and J. G. Brown.
"When I read the first line of 'The Doe and the Brook,'" said the
editor, "I knew it to be the work of one whose life has been heart to
heart with Nature. The finished art of the line did not blind me to that
fact. To use a somewhat homely comparison, it was as if a wild, free
child of the woods and fields were to don the garb of fashion and walk
down Broadway. Beneath the apparel the man would show."
"Thanks," said Conant. "I suppose the check will be round on Thursday,
The morals of this story have somehow gotten mixed. You can take your
choice of "Stay on the Farm" or "Don't Write Poetry."
THE ROBE OF PEACE
Mysteries follow one another so closely in a great city that the reading
public and the friends of Johnny Bellchambers have ceased to marvel
at his sudden and unexplained disappearance nearly a year ago. This
particular mystery has now been cleared up, but the solution is so
strange and incredible to the mind of the average man that only a select
few who were in close touch with Bellchambers will give it full
Johnny Bellchambers, as is well known, belonged to the intrinsically
inner circle of the _élite_. Without any of the ostentation of the
fashionable ones who endeavor to attract notice by eccentric display of
wealth and show he still was _au fait_ in everything that gave deserved
lustre to his high position in the ranks of society.
Especially did he shine in the matter of dress. In this he was the
despair of imitators. Always correct, exquisitely groomed, and possessed
of an unlimited wardrobe, he was conceded to be the best-dressed man in
New York, and, therefore, in America. There was not a tailor in Gotham
who would not have deemed it a precious boon to have been granted the
privilege of making Bellchambers' clothes without a cent of pay. As he
wore them, they would have been a priceless advertisement. Trousers
were his especial passion. Here nothing but perfection would he notice.
He would have worn a patch as quickly as he would have overlooked a
wrinkle. He kept a man in his apartments always busy pressing his ample
supply. His friends said that three hours was the limit of time that he
would wear these garments without exchanging.
Bellchambers disappeared very suddenly. For three days his absence
brought no alarm to his friends, and then they began to operate the
usual methods of inquiry. All of them failed. He had left absolutely no
trace behind. Then the search for a motive was instituted, but none was
found. He had no enemies, he had no debts, there was no woman. There
were several thousand dollars in his bank to his credit. He had never
showed any tendency toward mental eccentricity; in fact, he was of a
particularly calm and well-balanced temperament. Every means of tracing
the vanished man was made use of, but without avail. It was one of those
cases--more numerous in late years--where men seem to have gone out like
the flame of a candle, leaving not even a trail of smoke as a witness.
In May, Tom Eyres and Lancelot Gilliam, two of Bellchambers' old
friends, went for a little run on the other side. While pottering around
in Italy and Switzerland, they happened, one day, to hear of a monastery
in the Swiss Alps that promised something outside of the ordinary
tourist-beguiling attractions. The monastery was almost inaccessible to
the average sightseer, being on an extremely rugged and precipitous spur
of the mountains. The attractions it possessed but did not advertise
were, first, an exclusive and divine cordial made by the monks that was
said to far surpass benedictine and chartreuse. Next a huge brass bell
so purely and accurately cast that it had not ceased sounding since it
was first rung three hundred years ago. Finally, it was asserted that no
Englishman had ever set foot within its walls. Eyres and Gilliam decided
that these three reports called for investigation.
It took them two days with the aid of two guides to reach the monastery
of St. Gondrau. It stood upon a frozen, wind-swept crag with the snow
piled about it in treacherous, drifting masses. They were hospitably
received by the brothers whose duty it was to entertain the infrequent
guest. They drank of the precious cordial, finding it rarely potent and
reviving. They listened to the great, ever-echoing bell, and learned
that they were pioneer travelers, in those gray stone walls, over the
Englishman whose restless feet have trodden nearly every corner of the
At three o'clock on the afternoon they arrived, the two young Gothamites
stood with good Brother Cristofer in the great, cold hallway of the
monastery to watch the monks march past on their way to the refectory.
They came slowly, pacing by twos, with their heads bowed, treading
noiselessly with sandaled feet upon the rough stone flags. As the
procession slowly filed past, Eyres suddenly gripped Gilliam by the arm.
"Look," he whispered, eagerly, "at the one just opposite you now--the
one on this side, with his hand at his waist--if that isn't Johnny
Bellchambers then I never saw him!"
Gilliam saw and recognized the lost glass of fashion.
"What the deuce," said he, wonderingly, "is old Bell doing here? Tommy,
it surely can't be he! Never heard of Bell having a turn for the
religious. Fact is, I've heard him say things when a four-in-hand didn't
seem to tie up just right that would bring him up for court-martial
before any church."
"It's Bell, without a doubt," said Eyres, firmly, "or I'm pretty badly
in need of an oculist. But think of Johnny Bellchambers, the Royal High
Chancellor of swell togs and the Mahatma of pink teas, up here in cold
storage doing penance in a snuff-colored bathrobe! I can't get it
straight in my mind. Let's ask the jolly old boy that's doing the
Brother Cristofer was appealed to for information. By that time the
monks had passed into the refectory. He could not tell to which one they
referred. Bellchambers? Ah, the brothers of St. Gondrau abandoned their
worldly names when they took the vows. Did the gentlemen wish to speak
with one of the brothers? If they would come to the refectory and
indicate the one they wished to see, the reverend abbot in authority
would, doubtless, permit it.
Eyres and Gilliam went into the dining hall and pointed out to Brother
Cristofer the man they had seen. Yes, it was Johnny Bellchambers. They
saw his face plainly now, as he sat among the dingy brothers, never
looking up, eating broth from a coarse, brown bowl.
Permission to speak to one of the brothers was granted to the two
travelers by the abbot, and they waited in a reception room for him to
come. When he did come, treading softly in his sandals, both Eyres and
Gilliam looked at him in perplexity and astonishment. It was Johnny
Bellchambers, but he had a different look. Upon his smooth-shaven face
was an expression of ineffable peace, of rapturous attainment, of
perfect and complete happiness. His form was proudly erect, his eyes
shone with a serene and gracious light. He was as neat and well-groomed
as in the old New York days, but how differently was he clad! Now he
seemed clothed in but a single garment--a long robe of rough brown
cloth, gathered by a cord at the waist, and falling in straight, loose
folds nearly to his feet. He shook hands with his visitors with his old
ease and grace of manner. If there was any embarrassment in that meeting
it was not manifested by Johnny Bellchambers. The room had no seats;
they stood to converse.
"Glad to see you, old man," said Eyres, somewhat awkwardly. "Wasn't
expecting to find you up here. Not a bad idea though, after all.
Society's an awful sham. Must be a relief to shake the giddy whirl and
retire to--er--contemplation and--er--prayer and hymns, and those
"Oh, cut that, Tommy," said Bellchambers, cheerfully. "Don't be afraid
that I'll pass around the plate. I go through these thing-um-bobs with
the rest of these old boys because they are the rules. I'm Brother
Ambrose here, you know. I'm given just ten minutes to talk to you
fellows. That's rather a new design in waistcoats you have on, isn't it,
Gilliam? Are they wearing those things on Broadway now?"
"It's the same old Johnny," said Gilliam, joyfully. "What the devil--I
mean why-- Oh, confound it! what did you do it for, old man?"
"Peel the bathrobe," pleaded Eyres, almost tearfully, "and go back with
us. The old crowd'll go wild to see you. This isn't in your line, Bell.
I know half a dozen girls that wore the willow on the quiet when you
shook us in that unaccountable way. Hand in your resignation, or get a
dispensation, or whatever you have to do to get a release from this ice
factory. You'll get catarrh here, Johnny--and-- My God! you haven't any
Bellchambers looked down at his sandaled feet and smiled.
"You fellows don't understand," he said, soothingly. "It's nice of you
to want me to go back, but the old life will never know me again. I
have reached here the goal of all my ambitions. I am entirely happy
and contented. Here I shall remain for the remainder of my days. You
see this robe that I wear?" Bellchambers caressingly touched the
straight-hanging garment: "At last I have found something that will not
bag at the knees. I have attained--"
At that moment the deep boom of the great brass bell reverberated
through the monastery. It must have been a summons to immediate
devotions, for Brother Ambrose bowed his head, turned and left the
chamber without another word. A slight wave of his hand as he passed
through the stone doorway seemed to say a farewell to his old friends.
They left the monastery without seeing him again.
And this is the story that Tommy Eyres and Lancelot Gilliam brought back
with them from their latest European tour.
THE GIRL AND THE GRAFT
The other day I ran across my old friend Ferguson Pogue. Pogue is
a conscientious grafter of the highest type. His headquarters is
the Western Hemisphere, and his line of business is anything from
speculating in town lots on the Great Staked Plains to selling wooden
toys in Connecticut, made by hydraulic pressure from nutmegs ground to a
Now and then when Pogue has made a good haul he comes to New York for
a rest. He says the jug of wine and loaf of bread and Thou in the
wilderness business is about as much rest and pleasure to him as sliding
down the bumps at Coney would be to President Taft. "Give me," says
Pogue, "a big city for my vacation. Especially New York. I'm not much
fond of New Yorkers, and Manhattan is about the only place on the globe
where I don't find any."
While in the metropolis Pogue can always be found at one of two places.
One is a little second-hand book-shop on Fourth Avenue, where he reads
books about his hobbies, Mahometanism and taxidermy. I found him at
the other--his hall bedroom in Eighteenth Street--where he sat in his
stocking feet trying to pluck "The Banks of the Wabash" out of a small
zither. Four years he has practised this tune without arriving near
enough to cast the longest trout line to the water's edge. On the
dresser lay a blued-steel Colt's forty-five and a tight roll of tens and
twenties large enough around to belong to the spring rattlesnake-story
class. A chambermaid with a room-cleaning air fluttered nearby in the
hall, unable to enter or to flee, scandalized by the stocking feet,
aghast at the Colt's, yet powerless, with her metropolitan instincts,
to remove herself beyond the magic influence of the yellow-hued roll.
I sat on his trunk while Ferguson Pogue talked. No one could be franker
or more candid in his conversation. Beside his expression the cry of
Henry James for lacteal nourishment at the age of one month would have
seemed like a Chaldean cryptogram. He told me stories of his profession
with pride, for he considered it an art. And I was curious enough to ask
him whether he had known any women who followed it.
"Ladies?" said Pogue, with Western chivalry. "Well, not to any great
extent. They don't amount to much in special lines of graft, because
they're all so busy in general lines. What? Why, they have to. Who's got
the money in the world? The men. Did you ever know a man to give a woman
a dollar without any consideration? A man will shell out his dust to
another man free and easy and gratis. But if he drops a penny in one of
the machines run by the Madam Eve's Daughters' Amalgamated Association
and the pineapple chewing gum don't fall out when he pulls the lever you
can hear him kick to the superintendent four blocks away. Man is the
hardest proposition a woman has to go up against. He's the low-grade
one, and she has to work overtime to make him pay. Two times out of
five she's salted. She can't put in crushers and costly machinery. He'd
notice 'em and be onto the game. They have to pan out what they get, and
it hurts their tender hands. Some of 'em are natural sluice troughs and
can carry out $1,000 to the ton. The dry-eyed ones have to depend on
signed letters, false hair, sympathy, the kangaroo walk, cowhide whips,
ability to cook, sentimental juries, conversational powers, silk
underskirts, ancestry, rouge, anonymous letters, violet sachet powders,
witnesses, revolvers, pneumatic forms, carbolic acid, moonlight, cold
cream and the evening newspapers."
"You are outrageous, Ferg," I said. "Surely there is none of this
'graft' as you call it, in a perfect and harmonious matrimonial union!"
"Well," said Pogue, "nothing that would justify you every time in
calling Police Headquarters and ordering out the reserves and a
vaudeville manager on a dead run. But it's this way: Suppose you're a
Fifth Avenue millionaire, soaring high, on the right side of copper and
"You come home at night and bring a $9,000,000 diamond brooch to the
lady who's staked you for a claim. You hand it over. She says, 'Oh,
George!' and looks to see if it's backed. She comes up and kisses you.
You've waited for it. You get it. All right. It's graft.
"But I'm telling you about Artemisia Blye. She was from Kansas and she
suggested corn in all of its phases. Her hair was as yellow as the silk;
her form was as tall and graceful as a stalk in the low grounds during a
wet summer; her eyes were as big and startling as bunions, and green was
her favorite color.
"On my last trip into the cool recesses of your sequestered city I met a
human named Vaucross. He was worth--that is, he had a million. He told
me he was in business on the street. 'A sidewalk merchant?' says I,
sarcastic. 'Exactly,' says he, 'Senior partner of a paving concern.'
"I kind of took to him. For this reason, I met him on Broadway one night
when I was out of heart, luck, tobacco and place. He was all silk hat,
diamonds and front. He was all front. If you had gone behind him you
would have only looked yourself in the face. I looked like a cross
between Count Tolstoy and a June lobster. I was out of luck. I had--but
let me lay my eyes on that dealer again.
"Vaucross stopped and talked to me a few minutes and then he took me to
a high-toned restaurant to eat dinner. There was music, and then some
Beethoven, and Bordelaise sauce, and cussing in French, and frangipangi,
and some hauteur and cigarettes. When I am flush I know them places.
"I declare, I must have looked as bad as a magazine artist sitting there
without any money and my hair all rumpled like I was booked to read a
chapter from 'Elsie's School Days' at a Brooklyn Bohemian smoker. But
Vaucross treated me like a bear hunter's guide. He wasn't afraid of
hurting the waiter's feelings.
"'Mr. Pogue,' he explains to me, 'I am using you.'
"'Go on,' says I; 'I hope you don't wake up.'
"And then he tells me, you know, the kind of man he was. He was a
New Yorker. His whole ambition was to be noticed. He wanted to be
conspicuous. He wanted people to point him out and bow to him, and tell
others who he was. He said it had been the desire of his life always. He
didn't have but a million, so he couldn't attract attention by spending
money. He said he tried to get into public notice one time by planting
a little public square on the east side with garlic for free use of
the poor; but Carnegie heard of it, and covered it over at once with a
library in the Gaelic language. Three times he had jumped in the way of
automobiles; but the only result was five broken ribs and a notice in
the papers that an unknown man, five feet ten, with four amalgam-filled
teeth, supposed to be the last of the famous Red Leary gang had been run
"'Ever try the reporters,' I asked him.
"'Last month,' says Mr. Vaucross, 'my expenditure for lunches to
reporters was $124.80.'
"'Get anything out of that?' I asks.
"'That reminds me,' says he; 'add $8.50 for pepsin. Yes, I got
"'How am I supposed to push along your scramble for prominence?' I
"'Something of that sort to-night,' says Vaucross. 'It grieves me; but
I am forced to resort to eccentricity.' And here he drops his napkin in
his soup and rises up and bows to a gent who is devastating a potato
under a palm across the room.
"'The Police Commissioner,' says my climber, gratified. 'Friend', says
I, in a hurry, 'have ambitions but don't kick a rung out of your ladder.
When you use me as a stepping stone to salute the police you spoil my
appetite on the grounds that I may be degraded and incriminated. Be
"At the Quaker City squab en casserole the idea about Artemisia Blye
comes to me.
"'Suppose I can manage to get you in the papers,' says I--'a column or
two every day in all of 'em and your picture in most of 'em for a week.
How much would it be worth to you?'
"'Ten thousand dollars,' says Vaucross, warm in a minute. 'But no
murder,' says he; 'and I won't wear pink pants at a cotillon.'
"'I wouldn't ask you to,' says I. 'This is honorable, stylish and
uneffeminate. Tell the waiter to bring a demi tasse and some other
beans, and I will disclose to you the opus moderandi.'
"We closed the deal an hour later in the rococo rouge et noise room. I
telegraphed that night to Miss Artemisia in Salina. She took a couple
of photographs and an autograph letter to an elder in the Fourth
Presbyterian Church in the morning, and got some transportation and $80.
She stopped in Topeka long enough to trade a flashlight interior and a
valentine to the vice-president of a trust company for a mileage book
and a package of five-dollar notes with $250 scrawled on the band.
"The fifth evening after she got my wire she was waiting, all décolletée
and dressed up, for me and Vaucross to take her to dinner in one of
these New York feminine apartment houses where a man can't get in unless
he plays bezique and smokes depilatory powder cigarettes.
"'She's a stunner,' says Vaucross when he saw her. 'They'll give her a
two-column cut sure.'
"This was the scheme the three of us concocted. It was business straight
through. Vaucross was to rush Miss Blye with all the style and display
and emotion he could for a month. Of course, that amounted to nothing as
far as his ambitions were concerned. The sight of a man in a white tie
and patent leather pumps pouring greenbacks through the large end of
a cornucopia to purchase nutriment and heartsease for tall, willowy
blondes in New York is as common a sight as blue turtles in delirium
tremens. But he was to write her love letters--the worst kind of love
letters, such as your wife publishes after you are dead--every day. At
the end of the month he was to drop her, and she would bring suit for
$100,000 for breach of promise.
"Miss Artemisia was to get $10,000. If she won the suit that was all;
and if she lost she was to get it anyhow. There was a signed contract to
"Sometimes they had me out with 'em, but not often. I couldn't keep up
to their style. She used to pull out his notes and criticize them like
bills of lading.
"'Say, you!' she'd say. 'What do you call this--letter to a Hardware
Merchant from His Nephew on Learning that His Aunt Has Nettlerash? You
Eastern duffers know as much about writing love letters as a Kansas
grasshopper does about tugboats. "My dear Miss Blye!"--wouldn't that put
pink icing and a little red sugar bird on your bridal cake? How long do
you expect to hold an audience in a court-room with that kind of stuff?
You want to get down to business, and call me "Tweedlums Babe" and
"Honeysuckle," and sign yourself "Mama's Own Big Bad Puggy Wuggy Boy" if
you want any limelight to concentrate upon your sparse gray hairs. Get
"After that Vaucross dipped his pen in the indelible tabasco. His
notes read like something or other in the original. I could see a jury
sitting up, and women tearing one another's hats to hear 'em read. And I
could see piling up for Mr. Vaucross as much notoriousness as Archbishop
Cranmer or the Brooklyn Bridge or cheese-on-salad ever enjoyed. He
seemed mighty pleased at the prospects.
"They agreed on a night; and I stood on Fifth Avenue outside a solemn
restaurant and watched 'em. A process-server walked in and handed
Vaucross the papers at his table. Everybody looked at 'em; and he
looked as proud as Cicero. I went back to my room and lit a five-cent
cigar, for I knew the $10,000 was as good as ours.
"About two hours later somebody knocked at my door. There stood Vaucross
and Miss Artemisia, and she was clinging--yes, sir, clinging--to his
arm. And they tells me they'd been out and got married. And they
articulated some trivial cadences about love and such. And they laid
down a bundle on the table and said 'Good night' and left.
"And that's why I say," concluded Ferguson Pogue, "that a woman is too
busy occupied with her natural vocation and instinct of graft such as is
given her for self-preservation and amusement to make any great success
in special lines."
"What was in the bundle that they left?" I asked, with my usual
"Why," said Ferguson, "there was a scalper's railroad ticket as far as
Kansas City and two pairs of Mr. Vaucross's old pants."
THE CALL OF THE TAME
When the inauguration was accomplished--the proceedings were made smooth
by the presence of the Rough Riders--it is well known that a herd of
those competent and loyal ex-warriors paid a visit to the big city. The
newspaper reporters dug out of their trunks the old broad-brimmed hats
and leather belts that they wear to North Beach fish fries, and mixed
with the visitors. No damage was done beyond the employment of the
wonderful plural "tenderfeet" in each of the scribe's stories. The
Westerners mildly contemplated the skyscrapers as high as the third
story, yawned at Broadway, hunched down in the big chairs in hotel
corridors, and altogether looked as bored and dejected as a member of Ye
Ancient and Honorable Artillery separated during a sham battle from his
Out of this sightseeing delegations of good King Teddy's Gentlemen of
the Royal Bear-hounds dropped one Greenbrier Nye, of Pin Feather, Ariz.
The daily cyclone of Sixth Avenue's rush hour swept him away from the
company of his pardners true. The dust from a thousand rustling skirts
filled his eyes. The mighty roar of trains rushing across the sky
deafened him. The lightning-flash of twice ten hundred beaming eyes
confused his vision.
The storm was so sudden and tremendous that Greenbrier's first impulse
was to lie down and grab a root. And then he remembered that the
disturbance was human, and not elemental; and he backed out of it with
a grin into a doorway.
The reporters had written that but for the wide-brimmed hats the West
was not visible upon these gauchos of the North. Heaven sharpen their
eyes! The suit of black diagonal, wrinkled in impossible places; the
bright blue four-in-hand, factory tied; the low, turned-down collar,
pattern of the days of Seymour and Blair, white glazed as the letters
on the window of the open-day-and-night-except-Sunday restaurants; the
out-curve at the knees from the saddle grip; the peculiar spread of
the half-closed right thumb and fingers from the stiff hold upon the
circling lasso; the deeply absorbed weather tan that the hottest
sun of Cape May can never equal; the seldom-winking blue eyes that
unconsciously divided the rushing crowds into fours, as though they were
being counted out of a corral; the segregated loneliness and solemnity
of expression, as of an Emperor or of one whose horizons have not
intruded upon him nearer than a day's ride--these brands of the West
were set upon Greenbrier Nye. Oh, yes; he wore a broad-brimmed hat,
gentle reader--just like those the Madison Square Post Office mail
carriers wear when they go up to Bronx Park on Sunday afternoons.
Suddenly Greenbrier Nye jumped into the drifting herd of metropolitan
cattle, seized upon a man, dragged him out of the stream and gave him
a buffet upon his collar-bone that sent him reeling against a wall.
The victim recovered his hat, with the angry look of a New Yorker who
has suffered an outrage and intends to write to the Trib. about it. But
he looked at his assailant, and knew that the blow was in consideration
of love and affection after the manner of the West, which greets its
friends with contumely and uproar and pounding fists, and receives its
enemies in decorum and order, such as the judicious placing of the
welcoming bullet demands.
"God in the mountains!" cried Greenbrier, holding fast to the foreleg of
his cull. "Can this be Longhorn Merritt?"
The other man was--oh, look on Broadway any day for the
pattern--business man--latest rolled-brim derby--good barber, business,
digestion and tailor.
"Greenbrier Nye!" he exclaimed, grasping the hand that had smitten him.
"My dear fellow! So glad to see you! How did you come to--oh, to be
sure--the inaugural ceremonies--I remember you joined the Rough Riders.
You must come and have luncheon with me, of course."
Greenbrier pinned him sadly but firmly to the wall with a hand the size,
shape and color of a McClellan saddle.
"Longy," he said, in a melancholy voice that disturbed traffic, "what
have they been doing to you? You act just like a citizen. They done made
you into an inmate of the city directory. You never made no such Johnny
Branch execration of yourself as that out on the Gila. 'Come and have
lunching with me!' You never defined grub by any such terms of reproach
in them days."
"I've been living in New York seven years," said Merritt. "It's been
eight since we punched cows together in Old Man Garcia's outfit. Well,
let's go to a café, anyhow. It sounds good to hear it called 'grub'
They picked their way through the crowd to a hotel, and drifted, as by
a natural law, to the bar.
"Speak up," invited Greenbrier.
"A dry Martini," said Merritt.
"Oh, Lord!" cried Greenbrier; "and yet me and you once saw the same pink
Gila monsters crawling up the walls of the same hotel in Cañon Diablo! A
dry--but let that pass. Whiskey straight--and they're on you."
Merritt smiled, and paid.
They lunched in a small extension of the dining room that connected with
the café. Merritt dexterously diverted his friend's choice, that hovered
over ham and eggs, to a purée of celery, a salmon cutlet, a partridge
pie and a desirable salad.
"On the day," said Greenbrier, grieved and thunderous, "when I can't
hold but one drink before eating when I meet a friend I ain't seen in
eight years at a 2 by 4 table in a thirty-cent town at 1 o'clock on the
third day of the week, I want nine broncos to kick me forty times over a
640-acre section of land. Get them statistics?"
"Right, old man," laughed Merritt. "Waiter, bring an absinthe frappé
and--what's yours, Greenbrier?"
"Whiskey straight," mourned Nye. "Out of the neck of a bottle you used
to take it, Longy--straight out of the neck of a bottle on a galloping
pony--Arizona redeye, not this ab--oh, what's the use? They're on you."
Merritt slipped the wine card under his glass.
"All right. I suppose you think I'm spoiled by the city. I'm as good a
Westerner as you are, Greenbrier; but, somehow, I can't make up my mind
to go back out there. New York is comfortable--comfortable. I make a
good living, and I live it. No more wet blankets and riding herd in
snowstorms, and bacon and cold coffee, and blowouts once in six months
for me. I reckon I'll hang out here in the future. We'll take in the
theatre to-night, Greenbrier, and after that we'll dine at--"
"I'll tell you what you are, Merritt," said Greenbrier, laying one elbow
in his salad and the other in his butter. "You are a concentrated,
effete, unconditional, short-sleeved, gotch-eared Miss Sally Walker. God
made you perpendicular and suitable to ride straddle and use cuss words
in the original. Wherefore you have suffered his handiwork to elapse
by removing yourself to New York and putting on little shoes tied with
strings, and making faces when you talk. I've seen you rope and tie a
steer in 42 1/2. If you was to see one now you'd write to the Police
Commissioner about it. And these flapdoodle drinks that you inoculate
your system with--these little essences of cowslip with acorns in 'em,
and paregoric flip--they ain't anyways in assent with the cordiality of
manhood. I hate to see you this way."
"Well, Mr. Greenbrier," said Merritt, with apology in his tone, "in a
way you are right. Sometimes I do feel like I was being raised on the
bottle. But, I tell you, New York is comfortable--comfortable. There's
something about it--the sights and the crowds, and the way it changes
every day, and the very air of it that seems to tie a one-mile-long
stake rope around a man's neck, with the other end fastened somewhere
about Thirty-fourth Street. I don't know what it is."
"God knows," said Greenbrier sadly, "and I know. The East has gobbled
you up. You was venison, and now you're veal. You put me in mind of a
japonica in a window. You've been signed, sealed and diskivered.
Requiescat in hoc signo. You make me thirsty."
"A green chartreuse here," said Merritt to the waiter.
"Whiskey straight," sighed Greenbrier, "and they're on you, you renegade
of the round-ups."
"Guilty, with an application for mercy," said Merritt. "You don't know
how it is, Greenbrier. It's so comfortable here that--"
"Please loan me your smelling salts," pleaded Greenbrier. "If I hadn't
seen you once bluff three bluffers from Mazatzal City with an empty gun
Greenbrier's voice died away in pure grief.
"Cigars!" he called harshly to the waiter, to hide his emotion.
"A pack of Turkish cigarettes for mine," said Merritt.
"They're on you," chanted Greenbrier, struggling to conceal his
At seven they dined in the Where-to-Dine-Well column.
That evening a galaxy had assembled there. Bright shone the lights o'er
fair women and br--let it go, anyhow--brave men. The orchestra played
charmingly. Hardly had a tip from a diner been placed in its hands by a
waiter when it would burst forth into soniferousness. The more beer you
contributed to it the more Meyerbeer it gave you. Which is reciprocity.
Merritt put forth exertions on the dinner. Greenbrier was his old
friend, and he liked him. He persuaded him to drink a cocktail.
"I take the horehound tea," said Greenbrier, "for old times' sake. But
I'd prefer whiskey straight. They're on you."
"Right!" said Merritt. "Now, run your eye down that bill of fare and see
if it seems to hitch on any of these items."
"Lay me on my lava bed!" said Greenbrier, with bulging eyes. "All these
specimens of nutriment in the grub wagon! What's this? Horse with the
heaves? I pass. But look along! Here's truck for twenty round-ups all
spelled out in different directions. Wait till I see."
The viands ordered, Merritt turned to the wine list.
"This Medoc isn't bad," he suggested.
"You're the doc," said Greenbrier. "I'd rather have whiskey straight.
It's on you."
Greenbrier looked around the room. The waiter brought things and took
dishes away. He was observing. He saw a New York restaurant crowd
"How was the range when you left the Gila?" asked Merritt.
"Fine," said Greenbrier. "You see that lady in the red speckled silk at
that table. Well, she could warm over her beans at my campfire. Yes, the
range was good. She looks as nice as a white mustang I see once on Black
When the coffee came, Greenbrier put one foot on the seat of the chair
next to him.
"You said it was a comfortable town, Longy," he said, meditatively.
"Yes, it's a comfortable town. It's different from the plains in a blue
norther. What did you call that mess in the crock with the handle,
Longy? Oh, yes, squabs in a cash roll. They're worth the roll. That
white mustang had just such a way of turning his head and shaking his
mane--look at her, Longy. If I thought I could sell out my ranch at a
fair price, I believe I'd--
"Gyar--song!" he suddenly cried, in a voice that paralyzed every knife
and fork in the restaurant.
The waiter dived toward the table.
"Two more of them cocktail drinks," ordered Greenbrier.
Merritt looked at him and smiled significantly.
"They're on me," said Greenbrier, blowing a puff of smoke to the
THE UNKNOWN QUANTITY
The poet Longfellow--or was it Confucius, the inventor of
"Life is real, life is earnest;
And things are not what they seem."
As mathematics are--or is: thanks, old subscriber!--the only just rule
by which questions of life can be measured, let us, by all means,
adjust our theme to the straight edge and the balanced column of the
great goddess Two-and-Two-Makes-Four. Figures--unassailable sums in
addition--shall be set over against whatever opposing element there
A mathematician, after scanning the above two lines of poetry, would
say: "Ahem! young gentlemen, if we assume that X plus--that is, that
life is real--then things (all of which life includes) are real.
Anything that is real is what it seems. Then if we consider the
proposition that 'things are not what they seem,' why--"
But this is heresy, and not poesy. We woo the sweet nymph Algebra; we
would conduct you into the presence of the elusive, seductive, pursued,
satisfying, mysterious X.
Not long before the beginning of this century, Septimus Kinsolving, an
old New Yorker, invented an idea. He originated the discovery that bread
is made from flour and not from wheat futures. Perceiving that the flour
crop was short, and that the Stock Exchange was having no perceptible
effect on the growing wheat, Mr. Kinsolving cornered the flour market.
The result was that when you or my landlady (before the war she never
had to turn her hand to anything; Southerners accommodated) bought a
five-cent loaf of bread you laid down an additional two cents, which
went to Mr. Kinsolving as a testimonial to his perspicacity.
A second result was that Mr. Kinsolving quit the game with $2,000,000
Mr. Kinsolving's son Dan was at college when the mathematical experiment
in breadstuffs was made. Dan came home during vacation, and found the
old gentleman in a red dressing-gown reading "Little Dorrit" on the
porch of his estimable red brick mansion in Washington Square. He had
retired from business with enough extra two-cent pieces from bread
buyers to reach, if laid side by side, fifteen times around the earth
and lap as far as the public debt of Paraguay.
Dan shook hands with his father, and hurried over to Greenwich Village
to see his old high-school friend, Kenwitz. Dan had always admired
Kenwitz. Kenwitz was pale, curly-haired, intense, serious, mathematical,
studious, altruistic, socialistic, and the natural foe of oligarchies.
Kenwitz had foregone college, and was learning watch-making in his
father's jewelry store. Dan was smiling, jovial, easy-tempered and
tolerant alike of kings and ragpickers. The two foregathered joyously,
being opposites. And then Dan went back to college, and Kenwitz to his
mainsprings--and to his private library in the rear of the jewelry shop.
Four years later Dan came back to Washington Square with the
accumulations of B. A. and two years of Europe thick upon him. He took a
filial look at Septimus Kinsolving's elaborate tombstone in Greenwood
and a tedious excursion through typewritten documents with the family
lawyer; and then, feeling himself a lonely and hopeless millionaire,
hurried down to the old jewelry store across Sixth Avenue.
Kenwitz unscrewed a magnifying glass from his eye, routed out his parent
from a dingy rear room, and abandoned the interior of watches for
outdoors. He went with Dan, and they sat on a bench in Washington
Square. Dan had not changed much; he was stalwart, and had a dignity
that was inclined to relax into a grin. Kenwitz was more serious, more
intense, more learned, philosophical and socialistic.
"I know about it now," said Dan, finally. "I pumped it out of the
eminent legal lights that turned over to me poor old dad's collections
of bonds and boodle. It amounts to $2,000,000, Ken. And I am told that
he squeezed it out of the chaps that pay their pennies for loaves of
bread at little bakeries around the corner. You've studied economics,
Dan, and you know all about monopolies, and the masses, and octopuses,
and the rights of laboring people. I never thought about those things
before. Football and trying to be white to my fellow-man were about the
extent of my college curriculum.
"But since I came back and found out how dad made his money I've been
thinking. I'd like awfully well to pay back those chaps who had to give
up too much money for bread. I know it would buck the line of my income
for a good many yards; but I'd like to make it square with 'em. Is there
any way it can be done, old Ways and Means?"
Kenwitz's big black eyes glowed fierily. His thin, intellectual face
took on almost a sardonic cast. He caught Dan's arm with the grip of a
friend and a judge.
"You can't do it!" he said, emphatically. "One of the chief punishments
of you men of ill-gotten wealth is that when you do repent you find that
you have lost the power to make reparation or restitution. I admire
your good intentions, Dan, but you can't do anything. Those people were
robbed of their precious pennies. It's too late to remedy the evil. You
can't pay them back"
"Of course," said Dan, lighting his pipe, "we couldn't hunt up every one
of the duffers and hand 'em back the right change. There's an awful lot
of 'em buying bread all the time. Funny taste they have--I never cared
for bread especially, except for a toasted cracker with the Roquefort.
But we might find a few of 'em and chuck some of dad's cash back where
it came from. I'd feel better if I could. It seems tough for people to be
held up for a soggy thing like bread. One wouldn't mind standing a rise
in broiled lobsters or deviled crabs. Get to work and think, Ken. I want
to pay back all of that money I can."
"There are plenty of charities," said Kenwitz, mechanically.
"Easy enough," said Dan, in a cloud of smoke. "I suppose I could give
the city a park, or endow an asparagus bed in a hospital. But I don't
want Paul to get away with the proceeds of the gold brick we sold Peter.
It's the bread shorts I want to cover, Ken."
The thin fingers of Kenwitz moved rapidly.
"Do you know how much money it would take to pay back the losses of
consumers during that corner in flour?" he asked.
"I do not." said Dan, stoutly. "My lawyer tells me that I have two
"If you had a hundred millions," said Kenwitz, vehemently, "you couldn't
repair a thousandth part of the damage that has been done. You cannot
conceive of the accumulated evils produced by misapplied wealth.
Each penny that was wrung from the lean purses of the poor reacted a
thousandfold to their harm. You do not understand. You do not see how
hopeless is your desire to make restitution. Not in a single instance
can it be done."
"Back up, philosopher!" said Dan. "The penny has no sorrow that the
dollar cannot heal."
"Not in one instance," repeated Kenwitz. "I will give you one, and let
us see. Thomas Boyne had a little bakery over there in Varick Street.
He sold bread to the poorest people. When the price of flour went up he
had to raise the price of bread. His customers were too poor to pay it,
Boyne's business failed and he lost his $1,000 capital--all he had in
Dan Kinsolving struck the park bench a mighty blow with his fist.
"I accept the instance," he cried. "Take me to Boyne. I will repay his
thousand dollars and buy him a new bakery."
"Write your check," said Kenwitz, without moving, "and then begin to
write checks in payment of the train of consequences. Draw the next one
for $50,000. Boyne went insane after his failure and set fire to the
building from which he was about to be evicted. The loss amounted to
that much. Boyne died in an asylum."
"Stick to the instance," said Dan. "I haven't noticed any insurance
companies on my charity list."
"Draw your next check for $100,000," went on Kenwitz. "Boyne's son fell
into bad ways after the bakery closed, and was accused of murder. He was
acquitted last week after a three years' legal battle, and the state
draws upon taxpayers for that much expense."
"Back to the bakery!" exclaimed Dan, impatiently. "The Government
doesn't need to stand in the bread line."
"The last item of the instance is--come and I will show you," said
The Socialistic watchmaker was happy. He was a millionaire-baiter by
nature and a pessimist by trade. Kenwitz would assure you in one breath
that money was but evil and corruption, and that your brand-new watch
needed cleaning and a new ratchet-wheel.
He conducted Kinsolving southward out of the square and into ragged,
poverty-haunted Varick Street. Up the narrow stairway of a squalid brick
tenement he led the penitent offspring of the Octopus. He knocked on a
door, and a clear voice called to them to enter.
In that almost bare room a young woman sat sewing at a machine. She
nodded to Kenwitz as to a familiar acquaintance. One little stream of
sunlight through the dingy window burnished her heavy hair to the color
of an ancient Tuscan's shield. She flashed a rippling smile at Kenwitz
and a look of somewhat flustered inquiry.
Kinsolving stood regarding her clear and pathetic beauty in
heart-throbbing silence. Thus they came into the presence of the last
item of the Instance.
"How many this week, Miss Mary?" asked the watchmaker. A mountain of
coarse gray shirts lay upon the floor.
"Nearly thirty dozen," said the young woman cheerfully. "I've made
almost $4. I'm improving, Mr. Kenwitz. I hardly know what to do with so
much money." Her eyes turned, brightly soft, in the direction of Dan. A
little pink spot came out on her round, pale cheek.
Kenwitz chuckled like a diabolic raven.
"Miss Boyne," he said, "let me present Mr. Kinsolving, the son of the
man who put bread up five years ago. He thinks he would like to do
something to aid those who where inconvenienced by that act."
The smile left the young woman's face. She rose and pointed her
forefinger toward the door. This time she looked Kinsolving straight in
the eye, but it was not a look that gave delight.
The two men went down Varick Street. Kenwitz, letting all his pessimism
and rancor and hatred of the Octopus come to the surface, gibed at the
moneyed side of his friend in an acrid torrent of words. Dan appeared to
be listening, and then turned to Kenwitz and shook hands with him
"I'm obliged to you, Ken, old man," he said, vaguely--"a thousand times
"Mein Gott! you are crazy!" cried the watchmaker, dropping his
spectacles for the first time in years.
Two months afterward Kenwitz went into a large bakery on lower Broadway
with a pair of gold-rimmed eyeglasses that he had mended for the
A lady was giving an order to a clerk as Kenwitz passed her.
"These loaves are ten cents," said the clerk.
"I always get them at eight cents uptown," said the lady. "You need not
fill the order. I will drive by there on my way home."
The voice was familiar. The watchmaker paused.
"Mr. Kenwitz!" cried the lady, heartily. "How do you do?"
Kenwitz was trying to train his socialistic and economic comprehension
on her wonderful fur boa and the carriage waiting outside.
"Why, Miss Boyne!" he began.
"Mrs. Kinsolving," she corrected. "Dan and I were married a month ago."
THE THING'S THE PLAY
Being acquainted with a newspaper reporter who had a couple of free
passes, I got to see the performance a few nights ago at one of the
popular vaudeville houses.
One of the numbers was a violin solo by a striking-looking man not much
past forty, but with very gray thick hair. Not being afflicted with a
taste for music, I let the system of noises drift past my ears while I
regarded the man.
"There was a story about that chap a month or two ago," said the
reporter. "They gave me the assignment. It was to run a column and was
to be on the extremely light and joking order. The old man seems to like
the funny touch I give to local happenings. Oh, yes, I'm working on
a farce comedy now. Well, I went down to the house and got all the
details; but I certainly fell down on that job. I went back and turned
in a comic write-up of an east side funeral instead. Why? Oh, I couldn't
seem to get hold of it with my funny hooks, somehow. Maybe you could
make a one-act tragedy out of it for a curtain-raiser. I'll give you the
After the performance my friend, the reporter, recited to me the facts
over the Würzburger.
"I see no reason," said I, when he had concluded, "why that shouldn't
make a rattling good funny story. Those three people couldn't have acted
in a more absurd and preposterous manner if they had been real actors in
a real theatre. I'm really afraid that all the stage is a world, anyhow,
and all the players men and women. 'The thing's the play,' is the way I
quote Mr. Shakespeare."
"Try it," said the reporter.
"I will," said I; and I did, to show him how he could have made a
humorous column of it for his paper.
There stands a house near Abingdon Square. On the ground floor there has
been for twenty-five years a little store where toys and notions and
stationery are sold.
One night twenty years ago there was a wedding in the rooms above the
store. The Widow Mayo owned the house and store. Her daughter Helen was
married to Frank Barry. John Delaney was best man. Helen was eighteen,
and her picture had been printed in a morning paper next to the
headlines of a "Wholesale Female Murderess" story from Butte, Mont. But
after your eye and intelligence had rejected the connection, you seized
your magnifying glass and read beneath the portrait her description as
one of a series of Prominent Beauties and Belles of the lower west side.
Frank Barry and John Delaney were "prominent" young beaux of the same
side, and bosom friends, whom you expected to turn upon each other every
time the curtain went up. One who pays his money for orchestra seats and
fiction expects this. That is the first funny idea that has turned up in
the story yet. Both had made a great race for Helen's hand. When Frank
won, John shook his hand and congratulated him--honestly, he did.
After the ceremony Helen ran upstairs to put on her hat. She was
getting married in a traveling dress. She and Frank were going to Old
Point Comfort for a week. Downstairs the usual horde of gibbering
cave-dwellers were waiting with their hands full of old Congress gaiters
and paper bags of hominy.
Then there was a rattle of the fire-escape, and into her room jumps the
mad and infatuated John Delaney, with a damp curl drooping upon his
forehead, and made violent and reprehensible love to his lost one,
entreating her to flee or fly with him to the Riviera, or the Bronx, or
any old place where there are Italian skies and _dolce far niente_.
It would have carried Blaney off his feet to see Helen repulse him. With
blazing and scornful eyes she fairly withered him by demanding whatever
he meant by speaking to respectable people that way.
In a few moments she had him going. The manliness that had possessed him
departed. He bowed low, and said something about "irresistible impulse"
and "forever carry in his heart the memory of"--and she suggested that
he catch the first fire-escape going down.
"I will away," said John Delaney, "to the furthermost parts of the
earth. I cannot remain near you and know that you are another's. I will
to Africa, and there amid other scenes strive to for--"
"For goodness sake, get out," said Helen. "Somebody might come in."
He knelt upon one knee, and she extended him one white hand that he
might give it a farewell kiss.
Girls, was this choice boon of the great little god Cupid ever
vouchsafed you--to have the fellow you want hard and fast, and have the
one you don't want come with a damp curl on his forehead and kneel to
you and babble of Africa and love which, in spite of everything, shall
forever bloom, an amaranth, in his heart? To know your power, and to
feel the sweet security of your own happy state; to send the unlucky
one, broken-hearted, to foreign climes, while you congratulate yourself
as he presses his last kiss upon your knuckles, that your nails are well
manicured--say, girls, it's galluptious--don't ever let it get by you.
And then, of course--how did you guess it?--the door opened and in
stalked the bridegroom, jealous of slow-tying bonnet strings.
The farewell kiss was imprinted upon Helen's hand, and out of the window
and down the fire-escape sprang John Delaney, Africa bound.
A little slow music, if you please--faint violin, just a breath in the
clarinet and a touch of the 'cello. Imagine the scene. Frank, white-hot,
with the cry of a man wounded to death bursting from him. Helen, rushing
and clinging to him, trying to explain. He catches her wrists and tears
them from his shoulders--once, twice, thrice he sways her this way and
that--the stage manager will show you how--and throws her from him to
the floor a huddled, crushed, moaning thing. Never, he cries, will he
look upon her face again, and rushes from the house through the staring
groups of astonished guests.
And, now because it is the Thing instead of the Play, the audience must
stroll out into the real lobby of the world and marry, die, grow gray,
rich, poor, happy or sad during the intermission of twenty years which
must precede the rising of the curtain again.
Mrs. Barry inherited the shop and the house. At thirty-eight she could
have bested many an eighteen-year-old at a beauty show on points and
general results. Only a few people remembered her wedding comedy, but
she made of it no secret. She did not pack it in lavender or moth balls,
nor did she sell it to a magazine.
One day a middle-aged money-making lawyer, who bought his legal cap and
ink of her, asked her across the counter to marry him.
"I'm really much obliged to you," said Helen, cheerfully, "but I married
another man twenty years ago. He was more a goose than a man, but I
think I love him yet. I have never seen him since about half an hour
after the ceremony. Was it copying ink that you wanted or just writing
The lawyer bowed over the counter with old-time grace and left a
respectful kiss on the back of her hand. Helen sighed. Parting salutes,
however romantic, may be overdone. Here she was at thirty-eight,
beautiful and admired; and all that she seemed to have got from her
lovers were approaches and adieus. Worse still, in the last one she had
lost a customer, too.
Business languished, and she hung out a Room to Let card. Two large
rooms on the third floor were prepared for desirable tenants. Roomers
came, and went regretfully, for the house of Mrs. Barry was the abode
of neatness, comfort and taste.
One day came Ramonti, the violinist, and engaged the front room above.
The discord and clatter uptown offended his nice ear; so a friend had
sent him to this oasis in the desert of noise.
Ramonti, with his still youthful face, his dark eyebrows, his short,
pointed, foreign, brown beard, his distinguished head of gray hair, and
his artist's temperament--revealed in his light, gay and sympathetic
manner--was a welcome tenant in the old house near Abingdon Square.
Helen lived on the floor above the store. The architecture of it was
singular and quaint. The hall was large and almost square. Up one side
of it, and then across the end of it ascended an open stairway to the
floor above. This hall space she had furnished as a sitting room and
office combined. There she kept her desk and wrote her business letters;
and there she sat of evenings by a warm fire and a bright red light and
sewed or read. Ramonti found the atmosphere so agreeable that he spent
much time there, describing to Mrs. Barry the wonders of Paris, where he
had studied with a particularly notorious and noisy fiddler.
Next comes lodger No. 2, a handsome, melancholy man in the early 40's,
with a brown, mysterious beard, and strangely pleading, haunting eyes.
He, too, found the society of Helen a desirable thing. With the eyes of
Romeo and Othello's tongue, he charmed her with tales of distant climes
and wooed her by respectful innuendo.
From the first Helen felt a marvelous and compelling thrill in the
presence of this man. His voice somehow took her swiftly back to the
days of her youth's romance. This feeling grew, and she gave way to
it, and it led her to an instinctive belief that he had been a factor
in that romance. And then with a woman's reasoning (oh, yes, they do,
sometimes) she leaped over common syllogisms and theory, and logic, and
was sure that her husband had come back to her. For she saw in his eyes
love, which no woman can mistake, and a thousand tons of regret and
remorse, which aroused pity, which is perilously near to love requited,
which is the _sine qua non_ in the house that Jack built.
But she made no sign. A husband who steps around the corner for twenty
years and then drops in again should not expect to find his slippers
laid out too conveniently near nor a match ready lighted for his cigar.
There must be expiation, explanation, and possibly execration. A little
purgatory, and then, maybe, if he were properly humble, he might be
trusted with a harp and crown. And so she made no sign that she knew or
And my friend, the reporter, could see nothing funny in this! Sent out
on an assignment to write up a roaring, hilarious, brilliant joshing
story of--but I will not knock a brother--let us go on with the story.
One evening Ramonti stopped in Helen's hall-office-reception-room and
told his love with the tenderness and ardor of the enraptured artist.
His words were a bright flame of the divine fire that glows in the heart
of a man who is a dreamer and doer combined.
"But before you give me an answer," he went on, before she could accuse
him of suddenness, "I must tell you that 'Ramonti' is the only name I
have to offer you. My manager gave me that. I do not know who I am or
where I came from. My first recollection is of opening my eyes in a
hospital. I was a young man, and I had been there for weeks. My life
before that is a blank to me. They told me that I was found lying in the
street with a wound on my head and was brought there in an ambulance.
They thought I must have fallen and struck my head upon the stones.
There was nothing to show who I was. I have never been able to remember.
After I was discharged from the hospital, I took up the violin. I have
had success. Mrs. Barry--I do not know your name except that--I love
you; the first time I saw you I realized that you were the one woman in
the world for me--and"--oh, a lot of stuff like that.
Helen felt young again. First a wave of pride and a sweet little thrill
of vanity went all over her; and then she looked Ramonti in the eyes,
and a tremendous throb went through her heart. She hadn't expected that
throb. It took her by surprise. The musician had become a big factor in
her life, and she hadn't been aware of it.
"Mr. Ramonti," she said sorrowfully (this was not on the stage,
remember; it was in the old home near Abingdon Square), "I'm awfully
sorry, but I'm a married woman."
And then she told him the sad story of her life, as a heroine must do,
sooner or later, either to a theatrical manager or to a reporter.
Ramonti took her hand, bowed low and kissed it, and went up to his room.
Helen sat down and looked mournfully at her hand. Well she might. Three
suitors had kissed it, mounted their red roan steeds and ridden away.
In an hour entered the mysterious stranger with the haunting eyes. Helen
was in the willow rocker, knitting a useless thing in cotton-wool. He
ricocheted from the stairs and stopped for a chat. Sitting across the
table from her, he also poured out his narrative of love. And then he
said: "Helen, do you not remember me? I think I have seen it in your
eyes. Can you forgive the past and remember the love that has lasted
for twenty years? I wronged you deeply--I was afraid to come back to
you--but my love overpowered my reason. Can you, will you, forgive me?"
Helen stood up. The mysterious stranger held one of her hands in a
strong and trembling clasp.
There she stood, and I pity the stage that it has not acquired a scene
like that and her emotions to portray.
For she stood with a divided heart. The fresh, unforgettable, virginal
love for her bridegroom was hers; the treasured, sacred, honored memory
of her first choice filled half her soul. She leaned to that pure
feeling. Honor and faith and sweet, abiding romance bound her to it. But
the other half of her heart and soul was filled with something else--a
later, fuller, nearer influence. And so the old fought against the new.
And while she hesitated, from the room above came the soft, racking,
petitionary music of a violin. The hag, music, bewitches some of the
noblest. The daws may peck upon one's sleeve without injury, but whoever
wears his heart upon his tympanum gets it not far from the neck.
This music and the musician caller her, and at her side honor and the
old love held her back.
"Forgive me," he pleaded.
"Twenty years is a long time to remain away from the one you say you
love," she declared, with a purgatorial touch.
"How could I tell?" he begged. "I will conceal nothing from you. That
night when he left I followed him. I was mad with jealousy. On a dark
street I struck him down. He did not rise. I examined him. His head had
struck a stone. I did not intend to kill him. I was mad with love and
jealousy. I hid near by and saw an ambulance take him away. Although you
married him, Helen--"
"_Who Are You?_" cried the woman, with wide-open eyes, snatching her
"Don't you remember me, Helen--the one who has always loved you best? I
am John Delaney. If you can forgive--"
But she was gone, leaping, stumbling, hurrying, flying up the stairs
toward the music and him who had forgotten, but who had known her for
his in each of his two existences, and as she climbed up she sobbed,
cried and sang: "Frank! Frank! Frank!"
Three mortals thus juggling with years as though they were billiard
balls, and my friend, the reporter, couldn't see anything funny in it!
A RAMBLE IN APHASIA
My wife and I parted on that morning in precisely our usual manner. She
left her second cup of tea to follow me to the front door. There she
plucked from my lapel the invisible strand of lint (the universal act of
woman to proclaim ownership) and bade me to take care of my cold. I had
no cold. Next came her kiss of parting--the level kiss of domesticity
flavored with Young Hyson. There was no fear of the extemporaneous,
of variety spicing her infinite custom. With the deft touch of long
malpractice, she dabbed awry my well-set scarf pin; and then, as I
closed the door, I heard her morning slippers pattering back to her
When I set out I had no thought or premonition of what was to occur.
The attack came suddenly.
For many weeks I had been toiling, almost night and day, at a famous
railroad law case that I won triumphantly but a few days previously. In
fact, I had been digging away at the law almost without cessation for
many years. Once or twice good Doctor Volney, my friend and physician,
had warned me.
"If you don't slacken up, Bellford," he said, "you'll go suddenly to
pieces. Either your nerves or your brain will give way. Tell me,
does a week pass in which you do not read in the papers of a case of
aphasia--of some man lost, wandering nameless, with his past and his
identity blotted out--and all from that little brain clot made by
overwork or worry?"
"I always thought," said I, "that the clot in those instances was really
to be found on the brains of the newspaper reporters."
Doctor Volney shook his head.
"The disease exists," he said. "You need a change or a rest. Court-room,
office and home--there is the only route you travel. For recreation
you--read law books. Better take warning in time."
"On Thursday nights," I said, defensively, "my wife and I play cribbage.
On Sundays she reads to me the weekly letter from her mother. That law
books are not a recreation remains yet to be established."
That morning as I walked I was thinking of Doctor Volney's words. I was
feeling as well as I usually did--possibly in better spirits than usual.
I woke with stiff and cramped muscles from having slept long on the
incommodious seat of a day coach. I leaned my head against the seat and
tried to think. After a long time I said to myself: "I must have a name
of some sort." I searched my pockets. Not a card; not a letter; not a
paper or monogram could I find. But I found in my coat pocket nearly
$3,000 in bills of large denomination. "I must be some one, of course,"
I repeated to myself, and began again to consider.
The car was well crowded with men, among whom, I told myself, there must
have been some common interest, for they intermingled freely, and seemed
in the best good humor and spirits. One of them--a stout, spectacled
gentleman enveloped in a decided odor of cinnamon and aloes--took the
vacant half of my seat with a friendly nod, and unfolded a newspaper.
In the intervals between his periods of reading, we conversed, as
travelers will, on current affairs. I found myself able to sustain the
conversation on such subjects with credit, at least to my memory. By and
by my companion said:
"You are one of us, of course. Fine lot of men the West sends in this
time. I'm glad they held the convention in New York; I've never been
East before. My name's R. P. Bolder--Bolder & Son, of Hickory Grove,
Though unprepared, I rose to the emergency, as men will when put to it.
Now must I hold a christening, and be at once babe, parson and parent.
My senses came to the rescue of my slower brain. The insistent odor of
drugs from my companion supplied one idea; a glance at his newspaper,
where my eye met a conspicuous advertisement, assisted me further.
"My name," said I, glibly, "is Edward Pinkhammer. I am a druggist, and
my home is in Cornopolis, Kansas."
"I knew you were a druggist," said my fellow traveler, affably. "I saw
the callous spot on your right forefinger where the handle of the pestle
rubs. Of course, you are a delegate to our National Convention."
"Are all these men druggists?" I asked, wonderingly.
"They are. This car came through from the West. And they're your
old-time druggists, too--none of your patent tablet-and-granule
pharmashootists that use slot machines instead of a prescription desk.
We percolate our own paregoric and roll our own pills, and we ain't
above handling a few garden seeds in the spring, and carrying a side
line of confectionery and shoes. I tell you Hampinker, I've got an idea
to spring on this convention--new ideas is what they want. Now, you
know the shelf bottles of tartar emetic and Rochelle salt Ant. et Pot.
Tart. and Sod. et Pot. Tart.--one's poison, you know, and the other's
harmless. It's easy to mistake one label for the other. Where do
druggists mostly keep 'em? Why, as far apart as possible, on different
shelves. That's wrong. I say keep 'em side by side, so when you want
one you can always compare it with the other and avoid mistakes. Do you
catch the idea?"
"It seems to me a very good one," I said.
"All right! When I spring it on the convention you back it up. We'll
make some of these Eastern orange-phosphate-and-massage-cream professors
that think they're the only lozenges in the market look like hypodermic
"If I can be of any aid," I said, warming, "the two bottles of--er--"
"Tartrate of antimony and potash, and tartrate of soda and potash."
"Shall henceforth sit side by side," I concluded, firmly.
"Now, there's another thing," said Mr. Bolder. "For an excipient in
manipulating a pill mass which do you prefer--the magnesia carbonate or
the pulverised glycerrhiza radix?"
"The--er--magnesia," I said. It was easier to say than the other word.
Mr. Bolder glanced at me distrustfully through his spectacles.
"Give me the glycerrhiza," said he. "Magnesia cakes."
"Here's another one of these fake aphasia cases," he said, presently,
handing me his newspaper, and laying his finger upon an article. "I
don't believe in 'em. I put nine out of ten of 'em down as frauds. A man
gets sick of his business and his folks and wants to have a good time.
He skips out somewhere, and when they find him he pretends to have lost
his memory--don't know his own name, and won't even recognize the
strawberry mark on his wife's left shoulder. Aphasia! Tut! Why can't
they stay at home and forget?"
I took the paper and read, after the pungent headlines, the following:
"DENVER, June 12.--Elwyn C. Bellford, a prominent lawyer, is
mysteriously missing from his home since three days ago, and all
efforts to locate him have been in vain. Mr. Bellford is a well-known
citizen of the highest standing, and has enjoyed a large and
lucrative law practice. He is married and owns a fine home and the
most extensive private library in the State. On the day of his
disappearance, he drew quite a large sum of money from his bank. No
one can be found who saw him after he left the bank. Mr. Bellford
was a man of singularly quiet and domestic tastes, and seemed to
find his happiness in his home and profession. If any clue at all
exists to his strange disappearance, it may be found in the fact
that for some months he has been deeply absorbed in an important
law case in connection with the Q. Y. and Z. Railroad Company. It
is feared that overwork may have affected his mind. Every effort
is being made to discover the whereabouts of the missing man."
"It seems to me you are not altogether uncynical, Mr. Bolder," I said,
after I had read the despatch. "This has the sound, to me, of a genuine
case. Why should this man, prosperous, happily married, and respected,
choose suddenly to abandon everything? I know that these lapses of
memory do occur, and that men do find themselves adrift without a name,
a history or a home."
"Oh, gammon and jalap!" said Mr. Bolder. "It's larks they're after.
There's too much education nowadays. Men know about aphasia, and they
use it for an excuse. The women are wise, too. When it's all over they
look you in the eye, as scientific as you please, and say: 'He
Thus Mr. Bolder diverted, but did not aid, me with his comments and
We arrived in New York about ten at night. I rode in a cab to a hotel,
and I wrote my name "Edward Pinkhammer" in the register. As I did so
I felt pervade me a splendid, wild, intoxicating buoyancy--a sense of
unlimited freedom, of newly attained possibilities. I was just born into
the world. The old fetters--whatever they had been--were stricken from
my hands and feet. The future lay before me a clear road such as an
infant enters, and I could set out upon it equipped with a man's
learning and experience.
I thought the hotel clerk looked at me five seconds too long. I had no
"The Druggists' Convention," I said. "My trunk has somehow failed to
arrive." I drew out a roll of money.
"Ah!" said he, showing an auriferous tooth, "we have quite a number of
the Western delegates stopping here." He struck a bell for the boy.
I endeavored to give color to my rôle.
"There is an important movement on foot among us Westerners," I said,
"in regard to a recommendation to the convention that the bottles
containing the tartrate of antimony and potash, and the tartrate of
sodium and potash be kept in a contiguous position on the shelf."
"Gentleman to three-fourteen," said the clerk, hastily. I was whisked
away to my room.
The next day I bought a trunk and clothing, and began to live the life
of Edward Pinkhammer. I did not tax my brain with endeavors to solve
problems of the past.
It was a piquant and sparkling cup that the great island city held up to
my lips. I drank of it gratefully. The keys of Manhattan belong to him
who is able to bear them. You must be either the city's guest or its
The following few days were as gold and silver. Edward Pinkhammer, yet
counting back to his birth by hours only, knew the rare joy of having
come upon so diverting a world full-fledged and unrestrained. I sat
entranced on the magic carpets provided in theatres and roof-gardens,
that transported one into strange and delightful lands full of
frolicsome music, pretty girls and grotesque drolly extravagant parodies
upon human kind. I went here and there at my own dear will, bound by
no limits of space, time or comportment. I dined in weird cabarets, at
weirder _tables d'hôte_ to the sound of Hungarian music and the wild
shouts of mercurial artists and sculptors. Or, again, where the night
life quivers in the electric glare like a kinetoscopic picture, and the
millinery of the world, and its jewels, and the ones whom they adorn,
and the men who make all three possible are met for good cheer and the
spectacular effect. And among all these scenes that I have mentioned I
learned one thing that I never knew before. And that is that the key to
liberty is not in the hands of License, but Convention holds it. Comity
has a toll-gate at which you must pay, or you may not enter the land
of Freedom. In all the glitter, the seeming disorder, the parade, the
abandon, I saw this law, unobtrusive, yet like iron, prevail. Therefore,
in Manhattan you must obey these unwritten laws, and then you will be
freest of the free. If you decline to be bound by them, you put on
Sometimes, as my mood urged me, I would seek the stately, softly
murmuring palm rooms, redolent with high-born life and delicate
restraint, in which to dine. Again I would go down to the waterways in
steamers packed with vociferous, bedecked, unchecked love-making clerks
and shop-girls to their crude pleasures on the island shores. And there
was always Broadway--glistening, opulent, wily, varying, desirable
Broadway--growing upon one like an opium habit.
One afternoon as I entered my hotel a stout man with a big nose and a
black mustache blocked my way in the corridor. When I would have passed
around him, he greet me with offensive familiarity.
"Hello, Bellford!" he cried, loudly. "What the deuce are you doing in
New York? Didn't know anything could drag you away from that old book
den of yours. Is Mrs. B. along or is this a little business run alone,
"You have made a mistake, sir," I said, coldly, releasing my hand from
his grasp. "My name is Pinkhammer. You will excuse me."
The man dropped to one side, apparently astonished. As I walked to the
clerk's desk I heard him call to a bell boy and say something about
"You will give me my bill," I said to the clerk, "and have my baggage
brought down in half an hour. I do not care to remain where I am annoyed
by confidence men."
I moved that afternoon to another hotel, a sedate, old-fashioned one on
lower Fifth Avenue.
There was a restaurant a little way off Broadway where one could be
served almost _al fresco_ in a tropic array of screening flora. Quiet
and luxury and a perfect service made it an ideal place in which to take
luncheon or refreshment. One afternoon I was there picking my way to a
table among the ferns when I felt my sleeve caught.
"Mr. Bellford!" exclaimed an amazingly sweet voice.
I turned quickly to see a lady seated alone--a lady of about thirty,
with exceedingly handsome eyes, who looked at me as though I had been
her very dear friend.
"You were about to pass me," she said, accusingly. "Don't tell me you
do not know me. Why should we not shake hands--at least once in fifteen
I shook hands with her at once. I took a chair opposite her at the
table. I summoned with my eyebrows a hovering waiter. The lady was
philandering with an orange ice. I ordered a _crème de menthe_. Her hair
was reddish bronze. You could not look at it, because you could not look
away from her eyes. But you were conscious of it as you are conscious of
sunset while you look into the profundities of a wood at twilight.
"Are you sure you know me?" I asked.
"No," she said, smiling. "I was never sure of that."
"What would you think," I said, a little anxiously, "if I were to tell
you that my name is Edward Pinkhammer, from Cornopolis, Kansas?"
"What would I think?" she repeated, with a merry glance. "Why, that you
had not brought Mrs. Bellford to New York with you, of course. I do wish
you had. I would have liked to see Marian." Her voice lowered
slightly--"You haven't changed much, Elwyn."
I felt her wonderful eyes searching mine and my face more closely.
"Yes, you have," she amended, and there was a soft, exultant note in
her latest tones; "I see it now. You haven't forgotten. You haven't
forgotten for a year or a day or an hour. I told you you never could."
I poked my straw anxiously in the _crème de menthe_.
"I'm sure I beg your pardon," I said, a little uneasy at her gaze. "But
that is just the trouble. I have forgotten. I've forgotten everything."
She flouted my denial. She laughed deliciously at something she seemed
to see in my face.
"I've heard of you at times," she went on. "You're quite a big lawyer
out West--Denver, isn't it, or Los Angeles? Marian must be very proud of
you. You knew, I suppose, that I married six months after you did. You
may have seen it in the papers. The flowers alone cost two thousand
She had mentioned fifteen years. Fifteen years is a long time.
"Would it be too late," I asked, somewhat timorously, "to offer you
"Not if you dare do it," she answered, with such fine intrepidity that
I was silent, and began to crease patterns on the cloth with my thumb
"Tell me one thing," she said, leaning toward me rather eagerly--"a
thing I have wanted to know for many years--just from a woman's
curiosity, of course--have you ever dared since that night to touch,
smell or look at white roses--at white roses wet with rain and dew?"
I took a sip of _crème de menthe_.
"It would be useless, I suppose," I said, with a sigh, "for me to repeat
that I have no recollection at all about these things. My memory is
completely at fault. I need not say how much I regret it."
The lady rested her arms upon the table, and again her eyes disdained
my words and went traveling by their own route direct to my soul. She
laughed softly, with a strange quality in the sound--it was a laugh of
happiness--yes, and of content--and of misery. I tried to look away from
"You lie, Elwyn Bellford," she breathed, blissfully. "Oh, I know you
I gazed dully into the ferns.
"My name is Edward Pinkhammer," I said. "I came with the delegates to
the Druggists' National Convention. There is a movement on foot for
arranging a new position for the bottles of tartrate of antimony and
tartrate of potash, in which, very likely, you would take little
A shining landau stopped before the entrance. The lady rose. I took her
hand, and bowed.
"I am deeply sorry," I said to her, "that I cannot remember. I could
explain, but fear you would not understand. You will not concede
Pinkhammer; and I really cannot at all conceive of the--the roses and
"Good-by, Mr. Bellford," she said, with her happy, sorrowful smile, as
she stepped into her carriage.
I attended the theatre that night. When I returned to my hotel, a quiet
man in dark clothes, who seemed interested in rubbing his finger nails
with a silk handkerchief, appeared, magically, at my side.
"Mr. Pinkhammer," he said, giving the bulk of his attention to his
forefinger, "may I request you to step aside with me for a little
conversation? There is a room here."
"Certainly," I answered.
He conducted me into a small, private parlor. A lady and a gentleman
were there. The lady, I surmised, would have been unusually good-looking
had her features not been clouded by an expression of keen worry and
fatigue. She was of a style of figure and possessed coloring and
features that were agreeable to my fancy. She was in a traveling dress;
she fixed upon me an earnest look of extreme anxiety, and pressed an
unsteady hand to her bosom. I think she would have started forward, but
the gentleman arrested her movement with an authoritative motion of his
hand. He then came, himself, to meet me. He was a man of forty, a little
gray about the temples, and with a strong, thoughtful face.
"Bellford, old man," he said, cordially, "I'm glad to see you again. Of
course we know everything is all right. I warned you, you know, that you
were overdoing it. Now, you'll go back with us, and be yourself again in
I smiled ironically.
"I have been 'Bellforded' so often," I said, "that it has lost its edge.
Still, in the end, it may grow wearisome. Would you be willing at all to
entertain the hypothesis that my name is Edward Pinkhammer, and that I
never saw you before in my life?"
Before the man could reply a wailing cry came from the woman. She sprang
past his detaining arm. "Elwyn!" she sobbed, and cast herself upon me,
and clung tight. "Elwyn," she cried again, "don't break my heart. I am
your wife--call my name once--just once. I could see you dead rather
than this way."
I unwound her arms respectfully, but firmly.
"Madam," I said, severely, "pardon me if I suggest that you accept a
resemblance too precipitately. It is a pity," I went on, with an amused
laugh, as the thought occurred to me, "that this Bellford and I could
not be kept side by side upon the same shelf like tartrates of sodium
and antimony for purposes of identification. In order to understand the
allusion," I concluded airily, "it may be necessary for you to keep an
eye on the proceedings of the Druggists' National Convention."
The lady turned to her companion, and grasped his arm.
"What is it, Doctor Volney? Oh, what is it?" she moaned.
He led her to the door.
"Go to your room for a while," I heard him say. "I will remain and talk
with him. His mind? No, I think not--only a portion of the brain. Yes,
I am sure he will recover. Go to your room and leave me with him."
The lady disappeared. The man in dark clothes also went outside, still
manicuring himself in a thoughtful way. I think he waited in the hall.
"I would like to talk with you a while, Mr. Pinkhammer, if I may," said
the gentleman who remained.
"Very well, if you care to," I replied, "and will excuse me if I take it
comfortably; I am rather tired." I stretched myself upon a couch by a
window and lit a cigar. He drew a chair nearby.
"Let us speak to the point," he said, soothingly. "Your name is not
"I know that as well as you do," I said, coolly. "But a man must have a
name of some sort. I can assure you that I do not extravagantly admire
the name of Pinkhammer. But when one christens one's self suddenly, the
fine names do not seem to suggest themselves. But, suppose it had been
Scheringhausen or Scroggins! I think I did very well with Pinkhammer."
"Your name," said the other man, seriously, "is Elwyn C. Bellford. You
are one of the first lawyers in Denver. You are suffering from an attack
of aphasia, which has caused you to forget your identity. The cause of
it was over-application to your profession, and, perhaps, a life too
bare of natural recreation and pleasures. The lady who has just left the
room is your wife."
"She is what I would call a fine-looking woman," I said, after a
judicial pause. "I particularly admire the shade of brown in her hair."
"She is a wife to be proud of. Since your disappearance, nearly two
weeks ago, she has scarcely closed her eyes. We learned that you were in
New York through a telegram sent by Isidore Newman, a traveling man from
Denver. He said that he had met you in a hotel here, and that you did
not recognize him."
"I think I remember the occasion," I said. "The fellow called me
'Bellford,' if I am not mistaken. But don't you think it about time,
now, for you to introduce yourself?"
"I am Robert Volney--Doctor Volney. I have been your close friend for
twenty years, and your physician for fifteen. I came with Mrs. Bellford
to trace you as soon as we got the telegram. Try, Elwyn, old man--try to
"What's the use to try?" I asked, with a little frown. "You say you are
a physician. Is aphasia curable? When a man loses his memory does it
return slowly, or suddenly?"
"Sometimes gradually and imperfectly; sometimes as suddenly as it went."
"Will you undertake the treatment of my case, Doctor Volney?" I asked.
"Old friend," said he, "I'll do everything in my power, and will have
done everything that science can do to cure you."
"Very well," said I. "Then you will consider that I am your patient.
Everything is in confidence now--professional confidence."
"Of course," said Doctor Volney.
I got up from the couch. Some one had set a vase of white roses on the
centre table--a cluster of white roses, freshly sprinkled and fragrant.
I threw them far out of the window, and then I laid myself upon the
"It will be best, Bobby," I said, "to have this cure happen suddenly.
I'm rather tired of it all, anyway. You may go now and bring Marian in.
But, oh, Doc," I said, with a sigh, as I kicked him on the shin--"good
old Doc--it was glorious!"
A MUNICIPAL REPORT
The cities are full of pride,
Challenging each to each--
This from her mountainside,
That from her burthened beach.
Fancy a novel about Chicago or Buffalo, let us say, or Nashville,
Tennessee! There are just three big cities in the United States
that are "story cities"--New York, of course, New Orleans, and,
best of the lot, San Francisco.--FRANK NORRIS.
East is East, and West is San Francisco, according to Californians.
Californians are a race of people; they are not merely inhabitants of a
State. They are the Southerners of the West. Now, Chicagoans are no less
loyal to their city; but when you ask them why, they stammer and speak
of lake fish and the new Odd Fellows Building. But Californians go into
Of course they have, in the climate, an argument that is good for half
an hour while you are thinking of your coal bills and heavy underwear.
But as soon as they come to mistake your silence for conviction, madness
comes upon them, and they picture the city of the Golden Gate as the
Bagdad of the New World. So far, as a matter of opinion, no refutation
is necessary. But, dear cousins all (from Adam and Eve descended), it
is a rash one who will lay his finger on the map and say: "In this town
there can be no romance--what could happen here?" Yes, it is a bold and
a rash deed to challenge in one sentence history, romance, and Rand and
NASHVILLE--A city, port of delivery, and the capital of the
State of Tennessee, is on the Cumberland River and on the
N. C. & St. L. and the L. & N. railroads. This city is regarded
as the most important educational centre in the South.
I stepped off the train at 8 P.M. Having searched the thesaurus in vain
for adjectives, I must, as a substitution, hie me to comparison in the
form of a recipe.
Take a London fog 30 parts; malaria 10 parts; gas leaks 20 parts;
dewdrops gathered in a brick yard at sunrise, 25 parts; odor of
honeysuckle 15 parts. Mix.
The mixture will give you an approximate conception of a Nashville
drizzle. It is not so fragrant as a moth-ball nor as thick as pea-soup;
but 'tis enough--'twill serve.
I went to a hotel in a tumbril. It required strong self-suppression for
me to keep from climbing to the top of it and giving an imitation of
Sidney Carton. The vehicle was drawn by beasts of a bygone era and
driven by something dark and emancipated.
I was sleepy and tired, so when I got to the hotel I hurriedly paid it
the fifty cents it demanded (with approximate lagniappe, I assure you).
I knew its habits; and I did not want to hear it prate about its old
"marster" or anything that happened "befo' de wah."
The hotel was one of the kind described as "renovated." That means
$20,000 worth of new marble pillars, tiling, electric lights and brass
cuspidors in the lobby, and a new L. & N. time table and a lithograph of
Lookout Mountain in each one of the great rooms above. The management
was without reproach, the attention full of exquisite Southern courtesy,
the service as slow as the progress of a snail and as good-humored as
Rip Van Winkle. The food was worth traveling a thousand miles for. There
is no other hotel in the world where you can get such chicken livers _en
At dinner I asked a Negro waiter if there was anything doing in town. He
pondered gravely for a minute, and then replied: "Well, boss, I don't
really reckon there's anything at all doin' after sundown."
Sundown had been accomplished; it had been drowned in the drizzle long
before. So that spectacle was denied me. But I went forth upon the
streets in the drizzle to see what might be there.
It is built on undulating grounds; and the streets are lighted
by electricity at a cost of $32,470 per annum.
As I left the hotel there was a race riot. Down upon me charged a
company of freedmen, or Arabs, or Zulus, armed with--no, I saw with
relief that they were not rifles, but whips. And I saw dimly a caravan
of black, clumsy vehicles; and at the reassuring shouts, "Kyar you
anywhere in the town, boss, fuh fifty cents," I reasoned that I was
merely a "fare" instead of a victim.
I walked through long streets, all leading uphill. I wondered how those
streets ever came down again. Perhaps they didn't until they were
"graded." On a few of the "main streets" I saw lights in stores here and
there; saw street cars go by conveying worthy burghers hither and yon;
saw people pass engaged in the art of conversation, and heard a burst of
semi-lively laughter issuing from a soda-water and ice-cream parlor.
The streets other than "main" seemed to have enticed upon their borders
houses consecrated to peace and domesticity. In many of them lights
shone behind discreetly drawn window shades; in a few pianos tinkled
orderly and irreproachable music. There was, indeed, little "doing."
I wished I had come before sundown. So I returned to my hotel.
In November, 1864, the Confederate General Hood advanced against
Nashville, where he shut up a National force under General Thomas.
The latter then sallied forth and defeated the Confederates in a
All my life I have heard of, admired, and witnessed the fine
marksmanship of the South in its peaceful conflicts in the
tobacco-chewing regions. But in my hotel a surprise awaited me. There
were twelve bright, new, imposing, capacious brass cuspidors in the
great lobby, tall enough to be called urns and so wide-mouthed that the
crack pitcher of a lady baseball team should have been able to throw a
ball into one of them at five paces distant. But, although a terrible
battle had raged and was still raging, the enemy had not suffered.
Bright, new, imposing, capacious, untouched, they stood. But, shades of
Jefferson Brick! the tile floor--the beautiful tile floor! I could not
avoid thinking of the battle of Nashville, and trying to draw, as is my
foolish habit, some deductions about hereditary marksmanship.
Here I first saw Major (by misplaced courtesy) Wentworth Caswell. I knew
him for a type the moment my eyes suffered from the sight of him. A rat
has no geographical habitat. My old friend, A. Tennyson, said, as he so
well said almost everything:
Prophet, curse me the blabbing lip,
And curse me the British vermin, the rat.
Let us regard the word "British" as interchangeable _ad lib_. A rat
is a rat.
This man was hunting about the hotel lobby like a starved dog that had
forgotten where he had buried a bone. He had a face of great acreage,
red, pulpy, and with a kind of sleepy massiveness like that of Buddha.
He possessed one single virtue--he was very smoothly shaven. The mark
of the beast is not indelible upon a man until he goes about with a
stubble. I think that if he had not used his razor that day I would have
repulsed his advances, and the criminal calendar of the world would have
been spared the addition of one murder.
I happened to be standing within five feet of a cuspidor when Major
Caswell opened fire upon it. I had been observant enough to perceive
that the attacking force was using Gatlings instead of squirrel rifles;
so I side-stepped so promptly that the major seized the opportunity to
apologize to a noncombatant. He had the blabbing lip. In four minutes he
had become my friend and had dragged me to the bar.
I desire to interpolate here that I am a Southerner. But I am not one by
profession or trade. I eschew the string tie, the slouch hat, the Prince
Albert, the number of bales of cotton destroyed by Sherman, and plug
chewing. When the orchestra plays Dixie I do not cheer. I slide a little
lower on the leather-cornered seat and, well, order another Würzburger
and wish that Longstreet had--but what's the use?
Major Caswell banged the bar with his fist, and the first gun at Fort
Sumter re-echoed. When he fired the last one at Appomattox I began to
hope. But then he began on family trees, and demonstrated that Adam