Part 1 out of 11
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by Frances Hodgson Burnett
The boys at the Brooklyn public school which he attended did not know
what the "T." stood for. He would never tell them. All he said in
reply to questions was: "It don't stand for nothin'. You've gotter
have a' 'nitial, ain't you?" His name was, in fact, an almost
inevitable school-boy modification of one felt to be absurd and
pretentious. His Christian name was Temple, which became "Temp." His
surname was Barom, so he was at once "Temp Barom." In the natural
tendency to avoid waste of time it was pronounced as one word, and
the letter p being superfluous and cumbersome, it easily settled
itself into "Tembarom," and there remained. By much less inevitable
processes have surnames evolved themselves as centuries rolled by.
Tembarom liked it, and soon almost forgot he had ever been called
His education really began when he was ten years old. At that time
his mother died of pneumonia, contracted by going out to sew, at
seventy-five cents a day, in shoes almost entirely without soles,
when the remains of a blizzard were melting in the streets. As, after
her funeral, there remained only twenty-five cents in the shabby
bureau which was one of the few articles furnishing the room in the
tenement in which they lived together, Tembarom sleeping on a cot,
the world spread itself before him as a place to explore in search of
at least one meal a day. There was nothing to do but to explore it to
the best of his ten-year-old ability.
His father had died two years before his mother, and Tembarom had
vaguely felt it a relief. He had been a resentful, domestically
tyrannical immigrant Englishman, who held in contempt every American
trait and institution. He had come over to better himself, detesting
England and the English because there was "no chance for a man there,"
and, transferring his dislikes and resentments from one country to
another, had met with no better luck than he had left behind him.
This he felt to be the fault of America, and his family, which was
represented solely by Tembarom and his mother, heard a good deal
about it, and also, rather contradictorily, a good deal about the
advantages and superiority of England, to which in the course of six
months he became gloomily loyal. It was necessary, in fact, for him
to have something with which to compare the United States unfavorably.
The effect he produced on Tembarom was that of causing him, when he
entered the public school round the corner, to conceal with
determination verging on duplicity the humiliating fact that if he
had not been born in Brooklyn he might have been born in England.
England was not popular among the boys in the school. History had
represented the country to them in all its tyrannical rapacity and
bloodthirsty oppression of the humble free-born. The manly and
admirable attitude was to say, "Give me liberty or give me death"--
and there was the Fourth of July.
Though Tembarom and his mother had been poor enough while his father
lived, when he died the returns from his irregular odd jobs no longer
came in to supplement his wife's sewing, and add an occasional day or
two of fuller meals, in consequence of which they were oftener than
ever hungry and cold, and in desperate trouble about the rent of
their room. Tembarom, who was a wiry, enterprising little fellow,
sometimes found an odd job himself. He carried notes and parcels when
any one would trust him with them, he split old boxes into kindling-
wood, more than once he "minded" a baby when its mother left its
perambulator outside a store. But at eight or nine years of age one's
pay is in proportion to one's size. Tembarom, however, had neither
his father's bitter eye nor his mother's discouraged one. Something
different from either had been reincarnated in him from some more
cheerful past. He had an alluring grin instead--a grin which curled
up his mouth and showed his sound, healthy, young teeth,--a lot of
them,--and people liked to see them.
At the beginning of the world it is only recently reasonable to
suppose human beings were made with healthy bodies and healthy minds.
That of course was the original scheme of the race. It would not have
been worth while to create a lot of things aimlessly ill made. A
journeyman carpenter would not waste his time in doing it, if he knew
any better. Given the power to make a man, even an amateur would make
him as straight as he could, inside and out. Decent vanity would
compel him to do it. He would be ashamed to show the thing and admit
he had done it, much less people a world with millions of like proofs
of incompetence. Logically considered, the race was built straight
and clean and healthy and happy. How, since then, it has developed in
multitudinous less sane directions, and lost its normal straightness
and proportions, I am, singularly enough, not entirely competent to
explain with any degree of satisfactory detail. But it cannot be
truthfully denied that this has rather generally happened. There are
human beings who are not beautiful, there are those who are not
healthy, there are those who hate people and things with much waste
of physical and mental energy, there are people who are not unwilling
to do others an ill turn by word or deed, and there are those who do
not believe that the original scheme of the race was ever a decent
This is all abnormal and unintelligent, even the not being beautiful,
and sometimes one finds oneself called upon passionately to resist a
temptation to listen to an internal hint that the whole thing is
aimless. Upon this tendency one may as well put one's foot firmly, as
it leads nowhere. At such times it is supporting to call to mind a
certain undeniable fact which ought to loom up much larger in our
philosophical calculations. No one has ever made a collection of
statistics regarding the enormous number of perfectly sane, kind,
friendly, decent creatures who form a large proportion of any mass of
human beings anywhere and everywhere--people who are not vicious or
cruel or depraved, not as a result of continual self-control, but
simply because they do not want to be, because it is more natural and
agreeable to be exactly the opposite things; people who do not tell
lies because they could not do it with any pleasure, and would, on
the contrary, find the exertion an annoyance and a bore; people whose
manners and morals are good because their natural preference lies in
that direction. There are millions of them who in most essays on life
and living are virtually ignored because they do none of the things
which call forth eloquent condemnation or brilliant cynicism. It has
not yet become the fashion to record them. When one reads a daily
newspaper filled with dramatic elaborations of crimes and
unpleasantness, one sometimes wishes attention might be called to
them --to their numbers, to their decencies, to their normal lack of
any desire to do violence and their equally normal disposition to
lend a hand. One is inclined to feel that the majority of persons do
not believe in their existence. But if an accident occurs in the
street, there are always several of them who appear to spring out of
the earth to give human sympathy and assistance; if a national
calamity, physical or social, takes place, the world suddenly seems
full of them. They are the thousands of Browns, Joneses, and
Robinsons who, massed together, send food to famine-stricken
countries, sustenance to earthquake-devastated regions, aid to
wounded soldiers or miners or flood-swept homelessness. They are the
ones who have happened naturally to continue to grow straight and
carry out the First Intention. They really form the majority; if they
did not, the people of the earth would have eaten one another alive
centuries ago. But though this is surely true, a happy cynicism
totally disbelieves in their existence. When a combination of
circumstances sufficiently dramatic brings one of them into
prominence, he is either called an angel or a fool. He is neither. He
is only a human creature who is normal.
After this manner Tembarom was wholly normal. He liked work and
rejoiced in good cheer, when he found it, however attenuated its form.
He was a good companion, and even at ten years old a practical
person. He took his loose coppers from the old bureau drawer, and
remembering that he had several times helped Jake Hutchins to sell
his newspapers, he went forth into the world to find and consult him
as to the investment of his capital.
"Where are you goin', Tem?" a woman who lived in the next room said
when she met him on the stairs. "What you goin' to do?"
"I'm goin' to sell newspapers if I can get some with this," he
replied, opening his hand to show her the extent of his resources.
She was almost as poor as he was, but not quite. She looked him over
curiously for a moment, and then fumbled in her pocket. She drew out
two ten-cent pieces and considered them, hesitating. Then she looked
again at him. That normal expression in his nice ten-year-old eyes
had its suggestive effect.
"You take this," she said, handing him the two pieces. "It'll help
you to start."
"I'll bring it back, ma'am," said Tem. "Thank you, Mis' Hullingworth."
In about two weeks' time he did bring it back. That was the beginning.
He lived through all the experiences a small boy waif and stray
would be likely to come in contact with. The abnormal class treated
him ill, and the normal class treated him well. He managed to get
enough food to eat to keep him from starvation. Sometimes he slept
under a roof and much oftener out-of-doors. He preferred to sleep out-
of-doors more than half of the year, and the rest of the time he did
what he could. He saw and learned many strange things, but was not
undermined by vice because he unconsciously preferred decency. He
sold newspapers and annexed any old job which appeared on the horizon.
The education the New York streets gave him was a liberal one. He
became accustomed to heat and cold and wet weather, but having sound
lungs and a tough little body combined with the normal tendencies
already mentioned, he suffered no more physical deterioration than a
young Indian would suffer. After selling newspapers for two years he
got a place as "boy" in a small store. The advance signified by
steady employment was inspiring to his energies. He forged ahead, and
got a better job and better pay as he grew older. By the time he was
fifteen he shared a small bedroom with another boy. In whatsoever
quarter he lived, friends seemed sporadic. Other boy's congregated
about him. He did not know he had any effect at all, but his effect,
in fact, was rather like that of a fire in winter or a cool breeze in
summer. It was natural to gather where it prevailed.
There came a time when he went to a night class to learn stenography.
Great excitement had been aroused among the boys he knew best by a
rumor that there were "fellows" who could earn a hundred dollars a
week "writing short." Boyhood could not resist the florid splendor of
the idea. Four of them entered the class confidently looking forward
to becoming the recipients of four hundred a month in the course of
six weeks. One by one they dropped off, until only Tembarom remained,
slowly forging ahead. He had never meant anything else but to get on
in the world--to get as far as he could. He kept at his "short," and
by the time he was nineteen it helped him to a place in a newspaper
office. He took dictation from a nervous and harried editor, who,
when he was driven to frenzy by overwork and incompetencies, found
that the long-legged, clean youth with the grin never added fuel to
the flame of his wrath. He was a common young man, who was not marked
by special brilliancy of intelligence, but he had a clear head and a
good temper, and a queer aptitude for being able to see himself in
the other man's shoes--his difficulties and moods. This ended in his
being tried with bits of new work now and then. In an emergency he
was once sent out to report the details of a fire. What he brought
back was usable, and his elation when he found he had actually "made
good" was ingenuous enough to spur Galton, the editor, into trying
To Tembarom this was a magnificent experience. The literary
suggestion implied by being "on a newspaper" was more than he had
hoped for. If you have sold newspapers, and slept in a barrel or
behind a pile of lumber in a wood-yard, to report a fire in a street-
car shed seems a flight of literature. He applied himself to the
careful study of newspapers--their points of view, their style of
phrasing. He believed them to be perfect. To attain ease in
expressing himself in their elevated language he felt to be the
summit of lofty ambition. He had no doubts of the exaltation of his
ideal. His respect and confidence almost made Galton cry at times,
because they recalled to him days when he had been nineteen and had
regarded New York journalists with reverence. He liked Tembarom more
and more. It actually soothed him to have him about, and he fell into
giving him one absurd little chance after another. When he brought in
"stuff" which bore too evident marks of utter ignorance, he actually
touched it up and used it, giving him an enlightening, ironical hint
or so. Tembarom always took the hints with gratitude. He had no
mistaken ideas of his own powers. Galton loomed up before him a sort
of god, and though the editor was a man with a keen, though wearied,
brain and a sense of humor, the situation was one naturally
productive of harmonious relations. He was of the many who
unknowingly came in out of the cold and stood in the glow of
Tembarom's warm fire, or took refuge from the heat in his cool breeze.
He did not know of the private, arduous study of journalistic style,
and it was not unpleasing to see that the nice young cub was
gradually improving. Through pure modest fear or ridicule, Tembarom
kept to himself his vaulting ambition. He practised reports of fires,
weddings, and accidents in his hall bedroom.
A hall bedroom in a third-rate boarding-house is not a cheerful place,
but when Tembarom vaguely felt this, he recalled the nights spent in
empty trucks and behind lumber-piles, and thought he was getting
spoiled by luxury. He told himself that he was a fellow who always
had luck. He did not know, neither did any one else, that his luck
would have followed him if he had lived in a coal-hole. It was the
concomitant of his normal build and outlook on life. Mrs. Bowse, his
hard-worked landlady, began by being calmed down by his mere bearing
when he came to apply for his room and board. She had a touch of
grippe, and had just emerged from a heated affray with a dirty cook,
and was inclined to battle when he presented himself. In a few
minutes she was inclined to battle no longer. She let him have the
room. Cantankerous restrictions did not ruffle him.
"Of course what you say GOES," he said, giving her his friendly grin.
"Any one that takes boarders has GOT to be careful. You're in for a
bad cold, ain't you?"
"I've got grippe again, that's what I've got," she almost snapped.
"Did you ever try Payson's 'G. Destroyer'? G stands for grippe, you
know. Catchy name, ain't it? They say the man that invented it got
ten thousand dollars for it. 'G. Destroyer.' You feel like you have
to find out what it means when you see it up on a boarding. I'm just
over grippe myself, and I've got half a bottle in my pocket. You
carry it about with you, and swallow one every half-hour. You just
try it. It set me right in no time."
He took the bottle out of his waistcoat pocket and handed it to her.
She took it and turned it over.
"You're awful good-natured,"--She hesitated,--"but I ain't going to
take your medicine. I ought to go and get some for myself. How much
does it cost?"
"It's on the bottle; but it's having to get it for yourself that's
the matter. You won't have time, and you'll forget it."
"That's true enough," said Mrs. Bowse, looking at him sharply. "I
guess you know something about boarding-houses."
"I guess I know something about trying to earn three meals a day--or
two of them. It's no merry jest, whichever way you do it."
When he took possession of his hall bedroom the next day and came
down to his first meal, all the boarders looked at him interestedly.
They had heard of the G. Destroyer from Mrs. Bowse, whose grippe had
disappeared. Jim Bowles and Julius Steinberger looked at him because
they were about his own age, and shared a hall bedroom on his floor;
the young woman from the notion counter in a down-town department
store looked at him because she was a young woman; the rest of the
company looked at him because a young man in a hall bedroom might or
might not be noisy or objectionable, and the incident of the G.
Destroyer sounded good-natured. Mr. Joseph Hutchinson, the stout and
discontented Englishman from Manchester, looked him over because the
mere fact that he was a new-comer had placed him by his own rash act
in the position of a target for criticism. Mr. Hutchinson had come to
New York because he had been told that he could find backers among
profuse and innumerable multi- millionaires for the invention which
had been the haunting vision of his uninspiring life. He had not been
met with the careless rapture which had been described to him, and he
was becoming violently antagonistic to American capital and
pessimistic in his views of American institutions. Like Tembarom's
father, he was the resentful Englishman.
"I don't think much o' that chap," he said in what he considered an
undertone to his daughter, who sat beside him and tried to manage
that he should not be infuriated by waiting for butter and bread and
second helpings. A fine, healthy old feudal feeling that servants
should be roared at if they did not "look sharp" when he wanted
anything was one of his salient characteristics.
"Wait a bit, Father; we don't know anything about him yet," Ann
Hutchinson murmured quietly, hoping that his words had been lost in
the clatter of knives and forks and dishes.
As Tembarom had taken his seat, he had found that, when he looked
across the table, he looked directly at Miss Hutchinson; and before
the meal ended he felt that he was in great good luck to be placed
opposite an object of such singular interest. He knew nothing about
"types," but if he had been of those who do, he would probably have
said to himself that she was of a type apart. As it was, he merely
felt that she was of a kind one kept looking at whether one ought to
or not. She was a little thing of that exceedingly light slimness of
build which makes a girl a childish feather-weight. Few girls retain
it after fourteen or fifteen. A wind might supposably have blown her
away, but one knew it would not, because she was firm and steady on
her small feet. Ordinary strength could have lifted her with one hand,
and would have been tempted to do it. She had a slim, round throat,
and the English daisy face it upheld caused it to suggest to the mind
the stem of a flower. The roundness of her cheek, in and out of which
totally unexpected dimples flickered, and the forget-me-not blueness
of her eyes, which were large and rather round also, made her look
like a nice baby of singularly serious and observing mind. She looked
at one as certain awe-inspiring things in perambulators look at one--
with a far and clear silence of gaze which passes beyond earthly
obstacles and reserves a benign patience with follies. Tembarom felt
interestedly that one really might quail before it, if one had
anything of an inferior quality to hide. And yet it was not a
critical gaze at all. She wore a black dress with a bit of white
collar, and she had so much soft, red hair that he could not help
recalling one or two women who owned the same quantity and seemed
able to carry it only as a sort of untidy bundle. Hers looked
entirely under control, and yet was such a wonder of burnished
fullness that it tempted the hand to reach out and touch it. It
became Tembarom's task during the meal to keep his eyes from turning
too often toward it and its owner.
If she had been a girl who took things hard, she might have taken her
father very hard indeed. But opinions and feelings being solely a
matter of points of view, she was very fond of him, and, regarding
him as a sacred charge and duty, took care of him as though she had
been a reverentially inclined mother taking care of a boisterous son.
When his roar was heard, her calm little voice always fell quietly on
indignant ears the moment it ceased. It was her part in life to act
as a palliative: her mother, whose well-trained attitude toward the
ruling domestic male was of the early Victorian order, had lived and
died one. A nicer, warmer little woman had never existed. Joseph
Hutchinson had adored and depended on her as much as he had harried
her. When he had charged about like a mad bull because he could not
button his collar, or find the pipe he had mislaid in his own pocket,
she had never said more than "Now, Mr. Hutchinson," or done more than
leave her sewing to button the collar with soothing fingers, and
suggest quietly that sometimes he DID chance to carry his pipe about
with him. She was of the class which used to call its husband by a
respectful surname. When she died she left him as a sort of legacy to
her daughter, spending the last weeks of her life in explaining
affectionately all that "Father" needed to keep him quiet and make
Little Ann had never forgotten a detail, and had even improved upon
some of them, as she happened to be cleverer than her mother, and had,
indeed, a far-seeing and clear young mind of her own. She had been
called "Little Ann" all her life. This had held in the first place
because her mother's name had been Ann also, and after her mother's
death the diminutive had not fallen away from her. People felt it
belonged to her not because she was especially little, though she was
a small, light person, but because there was an affectionate humor in
the sound of it.
Despite her hard needs, Mrs. Bowse would have faced the chance of
losing two boarders rather than have kept Mr. Joseph Hutchinson but
for Little Ann. As it was, she kept them both, and in the course of
three months the girl was Little Ann to almost every one in the house.
Her normalness took the form of an instinct which amounted to genius
for seeing what people ought to have, and in some occult way filling
in bare or trying places.
"She's just a wonder, that girl," Mrs. Bowse said to one boarder
"She's just a wonder," Jim Bowles and Julius Steinberger murmured to
each other in rueful confidence, as they tilted their chairs against
the wall of their hall bedroom and smoked. Each of the shabby and
poverty-stricken young men had of course fallen hopelessly in love
with her at once. This was merely human and inevitable, but realizing
in the course of a few weeks that she was too busy taking care of her
irritable, boisterous old Manchester father, and everybody else, to
have time to be made love to even by young men who could buy new
boots when the old ones had ceased to be water-tight, they were
obliged to resign themselves to the, after all, comforting fact that
she became a mother to them, not a sister. She mended their socks and
sewed buttons on for them with a firm frankness which could not be
persuaded into meaning anything more sentimental than a fixed habit
of repairing anything which needed it, and which, while at first
bewildering in its serenity, ended by reducing the two youths to a
dust of devotion.
"She's a wonder, she is," they sighed when at every weekend they
found their forlorn and scanty washing resting tidily on their bed.
In the course of a week, more or less, Tembarom's feeling for her
would have been exactly that of his two hall-bedroom neighbors, but
that his nature, though a practical one, was not inclined to any
supine degree of resignation. He was a sensible youth, however, and
gave no trouble. Even Joseph Hutchinson, who of course resented
furiously any "nonsense" of which his daughter and possession was the
object, became sufficiently mollified by his good spirits and ready
good nature to refrain from open conversational assault.
"I don't mind that chap as much as I did at first," he admitted
reluctantly to Little Ann one evening after a good dinner and a
comfortable pipe. "He's not such a fool as he looks."
Tembarom was given, as Little Ann was, to seeing what people wanted.
He knew when to pass the mustard and other straying condiments. He
picked up things which. dropped inconveniently, he did not interrupt
the remarks of his elders and betters, and several times when he
chanced to be in the hall, and saw Mr. Hutchinson, in irritable,
stout Englishman fashion, struggling into his overcoat, he sprang
forward with a light, friendly air and helped him. 'He did not do it
with ostentatious politeness or with the manner of active youth
giving generous aid to elderly avoirdupois. He did it as though it
occurred to him as a natural result of being on the spot.
It took Mrs. Bowse and her boarding-house less than a week definitely
to like him. Every night when he sat down to dinner he brought news
with him- news and jokes and new slang. Newspaper-office anecdote and
talk gave a journalistic air to the gathering when he was present,
and there was novelty in it. Soon every one was intimate with him,
and interested in what he was doing. Galton's good-natured patronage
of him was a thing to which no one was indifferent. It was felt to be
the right thing in the right place. When he came home at night it
became the custom to ask him questions as to the bits of luck which
befell him. He became " T. T." instead of Mr. Tembarom, except to
Joseph Hutchinson and his 'daughter. Hutchinson called him Tembarom,
but Little Ann said " Mr. Tembarom " with quaint frequency when she
spoke to him.
"Landed anything to-day, T. T. ? " some one would ask almost every
evening, and the interest in his relation of the day's adventures
increased from week to week. Little Ann never asked questions and
seldom made comments, but she always listened attentively. She had
gathered, and guessed from what she had gathered, a rather definite
idea of what his hard young life had been. He did not tell pathetic
stories about himself, but he and Jim Bowles and Julius Steinberger
had become fast friends, and the genial smoking of cheap tobacco in
hall bedrooms tends to frankness of relation, and the various ways in
which each had found himself "up against it" in the course of their
brief years supplied material for anecdotal talk.
"But it's bound to be easier from now on," he would say. "I've got
the 'short' down pretty fine - not fine enough to make big money, but
enough to hold down a job with Galton. He's mighty good to me. If I
knew more, I believe he'd give me a column to take care of--Up-town
Society column perhaps. A fellow named Biker's got it. Twenty per.
Goes on a bust twice a month, the fool. Gee! I wish I had his job!"
Mrs. Bowse's house was provided with a parlor in which her boarders
could sit in the evening when so inclined. It was a fearsome room,
which, when the dark, high-ceilinged hall was entered, revealed
depths of dingy gloom which appeared splashed in spots with
incongruous brilliancy of color. This effect was produced by richly
framed department-store chromo lithographs on the walls, aided by
lurid cushion-covers, or "tidies" representing Indian maidens or
chieftains in full war paint, or clusters of poppies of great
boldness of hue. They had either been Christmas gifts bestowed upon
Mrs. Bowse or department-store bargains of her own selection,
purchased with thrifty intent. The red-and-green plush upholstered
walnut chairs arid sofa had been acquired by her when the bankruptcy
of a neighboring boarding-house brought them within her means. They
were no longer very red or very green, and the cheerfully hopeful
design of the tidies and cushions had been to conceal worn places and
stains. The mantelpiece was adorned by a black-walnut-and-gold-framed
mirror, and innumerable vases of the ornate ninety-eight-cents order.
The centerpiece held a large and extremely soiled spray of artificial
wistaria. The end of the room was rendered attractive by a tent-like
cozy-corner built of savage weapons and Oriental cotton stuffs long
ago become stringy and almost leprous in hue. The proprietor of the
bankrupt boarding-house had been "artistic." But Mrs. Bowse was a
good-enough soul whose boarders liked her and her house, and when the
gas was lighted and some one played "rag-time" on the second-hand
pianola, they liked the parlor.
Little Ann did not often appear in it, but now and then she came down
with her bit of sewing,--she always had a "bit of sewing,"--and she
sat in the cozy-corner listening to the talk or letting some one
confide troubles to her. Sometimes it was the New England widow, Mrs.
Peck, who looked like a spinster school-ma'am, but who had a married
son with a nice wife who lived in Harlem and drank heavily. She used
to consult with Little Ann as to the possible wisdom of putting a
drink deterrent privately in his tea. Sometimes it was Mr. Jakes, a
depressed little man whose wife had left him, for no special reason
he could discover. Oftenest perhaps it was Julius Steinberger or Jim
Bowles who did their ingenuous best to present themselves to her as
energetic, if not successful, young business men, not wholly unworthy
of attention and always breathing daily increasing devotion.
Sometimes it was Tembarom, of whom her opinion had never been
expressed, but who seemed to have made friends with her. She liked to
hear about the newspaper office and Mr. Galton, and never was
uninterested in his hopes of "making good." She seemed to him the
wisest and most direct and composed person he had ever known. She
spoke with the broad, flat, friendly Manchester accent, and when she
let drop a suggestion, it carried a delightfully sober conviction
with it, because what she said was generally a revelation of logical
mental argument concerning details she had gathered through her
little way of listening and saying nothing whatever.
"If Mr. Biker drinks, he won't keep his place," she said to Tembarom
one night. "Perhaps you might get it yourself, if you persevere."
Tembarom reddened a little. He really reddened through joyous
"Say, I didn't know you knew a thing about that," he answered.
"You're a regular wonder. You scarcely ever say anything, but the way
you get on to things gets me."
"Perhaps if I talked more I shouldn't notice as much," she said,
turning her bit of sewing round and examining it. "I never was much
of a talker. Father's a good talker, and Mother and me got into the
way of listening. You do if you live with a good talker."
Tembarom looked at the girl with a male gentleness, endeavoring to
subdue open expression of the fact that he was convinced that she was
as thoroughly aware of her father's salient characteristics as she
was of other things.
"You do," said Tembarom. Then picking up her scissors, which had
dropped from her lap, and politely returning them, he added anxiously:
"To think of you remembering Biker! I wonder, if I ever did get his
job, if I could hold it down?"
"Yes," decided Little Ann; "you could. I've noticed you're that kind
of person, Mr. Tembarom."
"Have you?" he said elatedly. "Say, honest Injun?"
"I shall be getting stuck on myself if you encourage me like that,"
he said, and then, his face falling, he added, "Biker graduated at
"I don't know much about society," Little Ann remarked,-- "I never
saw any either up-town or down-town or in the country, --but I
shouldn't think you'd have to have a college education to write the
things you see about it in the newspaper paragraphs."
"They're not real high-brow stuff, are they," he said. "'There was a
brilliant gathering on Tuesday evening at the house of Mr. Jacob
Sturtburger at 79 Two Hundredth Street on the occasion of the
marriage of his daughter Miss Rachel Sturtburger to Mr. Eichenstein.
The bride was attired in white peau de cygne trimmed with duchess
Little Ann took him up. "I don't know what peau de cygne is, and I
daresay the bride doesn't. I've never been to anything but a village
school, but I could make up paragraphs like that myself."
"That's the up-town kind," said Tembarom. "The down-town ones wear
their mothers' point-lace wedding-veils some-times, but they're not
much different. Say, I believe I could do it if I had luck."
"So do I," returned Little Ann.
Tembarom looked down at the carpet, thinking the thing over. Ann went
"That's the way with you," he said presently: "you put things into a
fellow's head. You've given me a regular boost, Little Ann."
It is not unlikely that but for the sensible conviction in her voice
he would have felt less bold when, two weeks later, Biker, having
gone upon a "bust " too prolonged, was dismissed with-out benefit of
clergy, and Galton desperately turned to Tembarom with anxious
question in his eye.
"Do you think you could take this job?" he said.
Tembarom's heart, as he believed at the time, jumped into his throat.
"What do you think, Mr. Galton?" he asked.
"It isn't a thing to think about," was Galton's answer. "It's a
thing I must be sure of."
"Well," said Tembarom, "if you give it to me, I'll put up a mighty
hard fight before I fall down."
Galton considered him, scrutinizing keenly his tough, long-built body,
his sharp, eager, boyish face, and especially his companionable grin.
"We'll let it go at that," he decided. "You'll make friends up in
Harlem, and you won't find it hard to pick up news. We can at least
Tembarom's heart jumped into his throat again, and he swallowed it
once more. He was glad he was not holding his hat in his hand because
he knew he would have forgotten himself and thrown it up into the air.
"Thank you, Mr. Galton," he said, flushing tremendously. "I'd like to
tell you how I appreciate your trusting me, but I don't know how.
Thank you, sir."
When he appeared in Mrs. Bowse's dining-room that evening there was a
glow of elation about him and a swing in his entry which attracted
all eyes at once. For some unknown reason everybody looked at him,
and, meeting his eyes, detected the presence of some new exultation.
"Landed anything, T. T.?" Jim Bowles cried out. "You look it."
"Sure I look it," Tembarom answered, taking his napkin out of its
ring with an unconscious flourish. "I've landed the up-town society
page--landed it, by gee!"
A good-humored chorus of ejaculatory congratulation broke forth all
round the table.
"Good business!" "Three cheers for T. T.!" "Glad of it!" "Here's
said one after another.
They were all pleased, and it was generally felt that Galton had
shown sense and done the right thing again. Even Mr. Hutchinson
rolled about in his chair and grunted his approval.
After dinner Tembarom, Jim Bowles, and Julius Steinberger went up-
stairs together and filled the hall bedroom with clouds of tobacco-
smoke, tilting their chairs against the wall, smoking their pipes
furiously, flushed and talkative, working themselves up with the
exhilarated plannings of youth. Jim Bowles and Julius had been down
on their luck for several weeks, and that "good old T. T." should
come in with this fairy-story was an actual stimulus. If you have
never in your life been able to earn more than will pay for your food
and lodging, twenty dollars looms up large. It might be the beginning
"First thing is to get on to the way to do it," argued Tembarom. "I
don't know the first thing. I've got to think it out. I couldn't ask
Biker. He wouldn't tell me, anyhow."
"He's pretty mad, I guess," said Steinberger.
"Mad as hops," Tembarom answered. "As I was coming down-stairs from
Galton's room he was standing in the hall talking to Miss Dooley, and
he said: `That Tembarom fellow's going to do it! He doesn't know how
to spell. I should like to see his stuff come in.' He said it loud,
because he wanted me to hear it, and he sort of laughed through his
"Say, T. T., can you spell?" Jim inquired thoughtfully.
"Spell? Me? No," Tembarom owned with unshaken good cheer. "What I've
got to do is to get a tame dictionary and keep it chained to the leg
of my table. Those words with two m's or two l's in them get me right
down on the mat. But the thing that looks biggest to me is how to
find out where the news is, and the name of the fellow that'll put me
on to it. You can't go up a man's front steps and ring the bell and
ask him if he's going to be married or buried or have a pink tea."
"Wasn't that a knock at the door?" said Steinberger.
It was a knock, and Tembarom jumped up and threw the door open,
thinking Mrs. Bowse might have come on some household errand. But it
was Little Ann Hutchinson instead of Mrs. Bowse, and there was a
threaded needle stuck into the front of her dress, and she had on a
"I want Mr. Bowles's new socks," she said maternally. "I promised I'd
mark them for him."
Bowles and Steinberger sprang from their chairs, and came forward in
the usual comfortable glow of pleasure at sight of her.
"What do you think of that for all the comforts of a home?" said
Tembarom. "As if it wasn't enough for a man to have new socks without
having marks put on them! What are your old socks made of anyhow--
solid gold? Burglars ain't going to break in and steal them."
"They won't when I've marked them, Mr. Tembarom," answered Little Ann,
looking up at him with sober, round, for-get-me-not blue eyes, but
with a deep dimple breaking out near her lip; "but all three pairs
would not come home from the wash if I didn't."
"Three pairs!" ejaculated Tembarom. "He's got three pairs of socks!
New? That's what's been the matter with him for the last week. Don't
you mark them for him, Little Ann. 'Tain't good for a man to have
"Here they are," said Jim, bringing them forward. "Twenty-five marked
down to ten at Tracy's. Are they pretty good?"
Little Ann looked them over with the practised eye of a connoisseur
"They'd be about a shilling in Manchester shops," she decided, "and
they might be put down to sixpence. They're good enough to take care
She was not the young woman who is ready for prolonged lively
conversation in halls and at bedroom doors, and she had turned away
with the new socks in her hand when Tembarom, suddenly inspired,
darted after her.
"Say, I've just thought of something," he exclaimed eagerly. "It's
something I want to ask you."
"What is it?"
"It's about the society-page lay-out." He hesitated. "I wonder if
it'd be rushing you too much if --say," he suddenly broke off, and
standing with his hands in his pockets, looked down at her with
anxious admiration, "I believe you just know about everything."
"No, I don't, Mr. Tembarom; but I'm very glad about the page.
One of the chief difficulties Tembarom found facing him when he
talked to Little Ann was the difficulty of resisting an awful
temptation to take hold of her--to clutch her to his healthy,
tumultuous young breast and hold her there firmly. He was half
ashamed of himself when he realized it, but he knew that his venial
weakness was shared by Jim Bowles and Steinberger and probably others.
She was so slim and light and soft, and the serious frankness of her
eyes and the quaint air of being a sort of grown-up child of
astonishing intelligence produced an effect it was necessary to
"What I wanted to say," he put it to her, "was that I believe if
you'd just let me talk this thing out to you it'd do me good. I
believe you'd help me to get somewhere. I've got to fix up a scheme
for getting next the people who have things happening to them that I
can make society stuff out of, you know. Biker didn't make a hit of
it, but, gee! I've just got to. I've got to."
"Yes," answered Little Ann, her eyes fixed on him thoughtfully;
"you've got to, Mr. Tembarom."
"There's not a soul in the parlor. Would you mind coming down and
sitting there while I talk at you and try to work things out? You
could go on with your marking."
She thought it over a minute.
"I'll do it if Father can spare me," she made up her mind. "I'll go
and ask him."
She went to ask him, and returned in two or three minutes with her
small sewing-basket in her hand.
"He can spare me," she said. "He's reading his paper, and doesn't
want to talk."
They went down-stairs together and found the room empty. Tembarom
turned up the lowered gas, and Little Ann sat down in the cozy-corner
with her work-basket on her knee. Tembarom drew up a chair and sat
down opposite to her. She threaded a needle and took up one of Jim's
"Now," she said.
"It's like this," he explained. "The page is a new deal, anyhow.
There didn't used to be an up-town society column at all. It was all
Fifth Avenue and the four hundred; but ours isn't a fashionable paper,
and their four hundred ain't going to buy it to read their names in
it. They'd rather pay to keep out of it. Uptown's growing like smoke,
and there's lots of people up that way that'd like their friends to
read about their weddings and receptions, and would buy a dozen
copies to send away when their names were in. There's no end of women
and girls that'd like to see their clothes described and let their
friends read the descriptions. They'd buy the paper, too, you bet.
It'll be a big circulation-increaser. It's Galton's idea, and he gave
the job to Biker because he thought an educated fellow could get hold
of people. But somehow he couldn't. Seems as if they didn't like him.
He kept getting turned down. The page has been mighty poor-- no
pictures of brides or anything. Galton's been sick over it. He'd been
sure it'd make a hit. Then Biker's always drinking more or less, and
he's got the swell head, anyhow. I believe that's the reason he
couldn't make good with the up-towners."
"Perhaps he was too well educated, Mr. Tembarom," said Little Ann.
She was marking a letter J in red cotton, and her outward attention
was apparently wholly fixed on her work.
"Say, now," Tembarom broke out, "there's where you come in. You go on
working as if there was nothing but that sock in New York, but I
guess you've just hit the dot. Perhaps that was it. He wanted to do
Fifth Avenue work anyway, and he didn't go at Harlem right. He put on
Princeton airs when he asked questions. Gee! a fellow can't put on
any kind of airs when he's the one that's got to ask."
"You'll get on better," remarked Little Ann. "You've got a friendly
way and you've a lot of sense. I've noticed it."
Her head was bent over the red J and she still looked at it and not
at Tembarom. This was not coyness, but simple, calm absorption. If
she had not been making the J, she would have sat with her hands
folded in her lap, and gazed at the young man with undisturbed
"Have you?" said Tembarom, gratefully. "That gives me another boost,
Little Ann. What a man seems to need most is just plain twenty-cents-
a-yard sense. Not that I ever thought I had the dollar kind. I'm not
putting on airs."
"Mr. Galton knows the kind you have. I suppose that's why he gave you
the page." The words, spoken in the shrewd-sounding Manchester accent,
were neither flattering nor unflattering; they were merely impartial.
"Well, now I've got it, I can't fall down," said Tembarom. "I've got
to find out for myself how to get next to the people I want to talk
to. I've got to find out who to get next to."
Little Ann put in the final red stitch of the letter J and laid the
sock neatly folded on the basket.
"I've just been thinking something, Mr. Tembarom," she said. "Who
makes the wedding-cakes?"
He gave a delighted start.
"Gee!" he broke out, "the wedding-cakes!"
"Yes," Little Ann proceeded, "they'd have to have wedding-cakes, and
perhaps if you went to the shops where they're sold and could make
friends with the people, they'd tell you whom they were selling them
to, and you could get the addresses and go and find out things."
Tembarom, glowing with admiring enthusiasm, thrust out his hand.
"Little Ann, shake! " he said. " You've given me the whole show, just
like I thought you would. You're just the limit."
"Well, a wedding-cake's the next thing after the bride," she answered.
Her practical little head had given him the practical lead. The mere
wedding-cake opened up vistas. Confectioners supplied not only
weddings, but refreshments for receptions and dances. Dances
suggested the "halls" in which they were held. You could get
information at such places. Then there were the churches, and the
florists who decorated festal scenes. Tembarom's excitement grew as
he talked. One plan led to another; vistas opened on all sides. It
all began to look so easy that he could not understand how Biker
could possibly have gone into such a land of promise, and returned
embittered and empty-handed.
"He thought too much of himself and too little of other people,"
Little Ann summed him up in her unsevere, reasonable voice. "That's
Tembarom tried not to look at her affectionately, but his voice was
affectionate as well as admiring, despite him.
"The way you get on to a thing just in three words!" he said. "Daniel
Webster ain't in it."
"I dare say if you let the people in the shops know that you come
from a newspaper, it'll be a help," she went on with ingenuous
worldly wisdom. "They'll think it'll be a kind of advertisement. And
so it will. You get some neat cards printed with your name and Sunday
Earth on them."
"Gee!" Tembarom ejaculated, slapping his knee, "there's another! You
think of every darned thing, don't you?"
She stopped a moment to look at him.
"You'd have thought of it all yourself after a bit," she said. She
was not of those unseemly women whose intention it is manifestly to
instruct the superior man. She had been born in a small Manchester
street and trained by her mother, whose own training had evolved
through affectionately discreet conjugal management of Mr. Hutchinson.
"Never you let a man feel set down when you want him to see a thing
reasonable, Ann," she had said. "You never get on with them if you do.
They can't stand it. The Almighty seemed to make 'em that way.
They've always been masters, and it don't hurt any woman to let 'em
be, if she can help 'em to think reasonable. Just you make a man feel
comfortable in his mind and push him the reasonable way. But never
you shove him, Ann. If you do, he'll just get all upset-like. Me and
your father have been right-down happy together, but we never should
have been if I hadn't thought that out before we was married two
weeks. Perhaps it's the Almighty's will, though I never was as sure
of the Almighty's way of thinking as some are."
Of course Tembarom felt soothed and encouraged, though he belonged to
the male development which is not automatically infuriated at a
suspicion of female readiness of logic.
"Well, I might have got on to it in time," he answered, still trying
not to look affectionate, "but I've no time to spare. Gee! but I'm
glad you're here!"
"I sha'n't be here very long." There was a shade of patient regret in
her voice. "Father's got tired of trying America. He's been
disappointed too often. He's going back to England."
"Back to England!" Tembarom cried out forlornly, "Oh Lord! What shall
we all do without you, Ann?"
"You'll do as you did before we came," said Little Ann.
"No, we sha'n't. We can't. I can't anyhow." He actually got up from
his chair and began to walk about, with his hands thrust deep in his
Little Ann began to put her first stitches into a red B. No human
being could have told what she thought.
"We mustn't waste time talking about that," she said. "Let us talk
about the page. There are dressmakers, you know. If you could make
friends with a dressmaker or two they'd tell you what the wedding
things were really made of. Women do like their clothes to be
His work upon the page began the following week. When the first
morning of his campaign opened with a tumultuous blizzard, Jim Bowles
and Julius Steinberger privately sympathized with him as they dressed
in company, but they heard him whistling in his own hall bedroom as
he put on his clothes, and to none of the three did it occur that
time could be lost because the weather was inhuman. Blinding snow was
being whirled through the air by a wind which had bellowed across the
bay, and torn its way howling through the streets, maltreating people
as it went, snatching their breath out of them, and leaving them
gaspingly clutching at hats and bending their bodies before it.
Street-cars went by loaded from front to back platform, and were
forced from want of room to whizz heartlessly by groups waiting
anxiously at street corners.
Tembarom saw two or three of them pass in this way, leaving the
waiting ones desperately huddled together behind them. He braced
himself and whistled louder as he buttoned his celluloid collar.
"I'm going to get up to Harlem all the same," he said. "The 'L' will
be just as jammed, but there'll be a place somewhere, and I'll get
His clothes were the outwardly decent ones of a young man who must
perforce seek cheap clothing-stores, and to whom a ten-dollar "hand-
me-down" is a source of exultant rejoicing. With the aid of great
care and a straight, well-formed young body, he managed to make the
best of them; but they were not to be counted upon for warmth even in
ordinarily cold weather. His overcoat was a specious covering, and
was not infrequently odorous of naphtha.
"You've got to know something about first aid to the wounded if you
live on ten per," he had said once to Little Ann. "A suit of clothes
gets to be an emergency-case mighty often if it lasts three years."
"Going up to Harlem to-day, T. T.?" his neighbor at table asked him
as he sat down to breakfast.
"Right there," he answered. "I've ordered the limousine round, with
the foot-warmer and fur rugs."
"I guess a day wouldn't really matter much," said Mrs. Bowse, good-
naturedly. "Perhaps it might be better to-morrow."
"And perhaps it mightn't," said Tembarom, eating "break-fast-food"
with a cheerful appetite. "What you can't be stone-cold sure of to-
morrow you drive a nail in to-day."
He ate a tremendous breakfast as a discreet precautionary measure.
The dark dining-room was warm, and the food was substantial. It was
comfortable in its way.
"You'd better hold the hall door pretty tight when you go out, and
don't open it far," said Mrs. Bowse as he got up to go. "There's wind
enough to upset things."
Tembarom went out in the hall, and put on his insufficient overcoat.
He buttoned it across his chest, and turned its collar up to his ears.
Then he bent down to turn up the bottoms of his trousers.
"A pair of arctics would be all to the merry right here," he said,
and then he stood upright and saw Little Ann coming down the
staircase holding in her hand a particularly ugly tar-tan-plaid
woolen neck-scarf of the kind known in England as a "comforter."
"If you are going out in this kind of weather," she said in her
serene, decided little voice, "you'd better wrap this comforter right
round your neck, Mr. Tembarom. It's one of Father's, and he can spare
it because he's got another, and, besides, he's not going out."
Tembarom took it with a sudden emotional perception of the fact that
he was being taken care of in an abnormally luxurious manner.
"Now, I appreciate that," he said. "The thing about you. Little Ann,
is that you never make a wrong guess about what a fellow needs, do
"I'm too used to taking care of Father not to see things," she
"What you get on to is how to take care of the whole world --initials
on a fellow's socks and mufflers round his neck." His eyes looked
"If a person were taking care of the whole world, he'd have a lot to
do," was her sedate reception of the remark. "You'd better put that
twice round your neck, Mr. Tembarom."
She put up her hand to draw the end of the scarf over his shoulder,
and Tembarom stood still at once, as though he were a little boy
being dressed for school. He looked down at her round cheek, and
watched one of the unexpected dimples reveal itself in a place where
dimples are not usually anticipated. It was coming out because she
was smiling a small, observing smile. It was an almost exciting thing
to look at, and he stood very still indeed. A fellow who did not own
two pairs of boots would be a fool not to keep quiet.
"You haven't told me I oughtn't to go out till the blizzard lets up,"
he said presently.
"No, I haven't, Mr. Tembarom," she answered. "You're one of the kind
that mean to do a thing when they've made up their minds. It'll be a
nice bit of money if you can keep the page."
"Galton said he'd give me a chance to try to make good," said
Tembarom. "And if it's the hit he thinks it ought to be, he'll raise
me ten. Thirty per. Vanastorbilts won't be in it. I think I'll get
married," he added, showing all his attractive teeth at once.
"I wouldn't do that," she said. "It wouldn't be enough to depend on.
New York's an expensive place."
She drew back and looked him over. "That'll keep you much warmer,"
she decided. "Now you can go. I've been looking in the telephone-book
for confectioners, and I've written down these addresses." She handed
him a slip of paper.
Tembarom caught his breath.
"Hully gee!" he exclaimed, "there never were TWO of you made! One
used up all there was of it. How am I going to thank you, anyhow!"
"I do hope you'll be able to keep the page," she said. "I do that, Mr.
If there had been a touch of coquetry in her earnest, sober, round,
little face she would have been less distractingly alluring, but
there was no shade of anything but a sort of softly motherly anxiety
in the dropped note of her voice, and it was almost more than flesh
and blood at twenty-five could stand. Tembarom made a hasty,
involuntary move toward her, but it was only a slight one, and it was
scarcely perceptible before he had himself in hand and hurriedly
twisted his muffler tighter, showing his teeth again cheerily.
"You keep on hoping it all day without a let-up," he said. "And tell
Mr. Hutchinson I'm obliged to him, please. Get out of the way, Little
Ann, while I go out. The wind might blow you and the hat-stand up-
He opened the door and dashed down the high steps into the full blast
of the blizzard. He waited at the street corner while three
overcrowded cars whizzed past him, ignoring his signals because there
was not an inch of space left in them for another passenger. Then he
fought his way across two or three blocks to the nearest "L" station.
He managed to wedge himself into a train there, and then at least he
was on his way. He was thinking hard and fast, but through all his
planning the warm hug of the tartan comforter round his neck kept
Little Ann near him. He had been very thankful for the additional
warmth as the whirling snow and wind had wrought their will with him
while he waited for the cars at the street corner. On the "L" train
he saw her serious eyes and heard the motherly drop in her voice as
she said, "I do hope you'll be able to keep the page. I do that, Mr.
Tembarom." It made him shut his hands hard as they hung in his
overcoat pockets for warmth, and it made him shut his sound teeth
"Gee! I've got to!" his thoughts said for him. "If I make it, perhaps
my luck will have started. When a man's luck gets started, every
darned thing's to the good."
The "L" had dropped most of its crowd when it reached the up-town
station among the hundredth streets which was his destination. He
tightened his comforter, tucked the ends firmly into the front of his
overcoat, and started out along the platform past the office, and
down the steep, iron steps, already perilous with freezing snow. He
had to stop to get his breath when he reached the street, but he did
not stop long. He charged forth again along the pavement, looking
closely at the shop-windows. There were naturally but few passers-by,
and the shops were not important-looking; but they were open, and he
could see that the insides of them looked comfortable in contrast
with the blizzard-ruled street. He could not see both sides of the
street as he walked up one side of the block without coming upon a
confectioner's. He crossed at the corner and turned back on the other
side. Presently he saw that a light van was standing before one place,
backed up against the sidewalk to receive parcels, its shuddering
horse holding its head down and bracing itself with its forelegs
against the wind. At any rate, something was going on there, and he
hurried forward to find out what it was. The air was so thick with
myriads of madly flying bits of snow, which seemed whirled in all
directions in the air, that he could not see anything definite even a
few yards away. When he reached the van he found that he had also
reached his confectioner. The sign over the window read "M. Munsberg,
Confectionery. Cakes. Ice-Cream. Weddings, Balls and Receptions."
"Made a start, anyhow," said Tembarom.
He turned into the store, opening the door carefully, and thereby
barely escaping being blown violently against a stout, excited,
middle-aged little Jew who was bending over a box he was packing.
This was evidently Mr. Munsberg, who was extremely busy, and even the
modified shock upset his temper.
"Vhere you goin'?" he cried out. "Can't you look vhere you're goin'?"
Tembarom knew this was not a good beginning, but his natural mental
habit of vividly seeing the other man's point of view helped him
after its usual custom. His nice grin showed itself.
"I wasn't going; I was coming," he said. "Beg pardon. The wind's
blowing a hundred miles an hour."
A good-looking young woman, who was probably Mrs. Munsberg, was
packing a smaller box behind the counter. Tembarom lifted his hat,
and she liked it.
"He didn't do it a bit fresh," she said later. "Kind o' nice." She
spoke to him with professional politeness.
"Is there anything you want?" she asked.
Tembarom glanced at the boxes and packages standing about and at
Munsberg, who had bent over his packing again. Here was an occasion
for practical tact.
"I've blown in at the wrong time," he said. "You're busy getting
things out on time. I'll just wait.. Gee! I'm glad to be inside. I
want to speak to Mr. Munsberg."
Mr. Munsberg jerked himself upright irascibly, and broke forth in the
accent of the New York German Jew.
"If you comin' in here to try to sell somedings, young man, joost you
let that same vind vat blew you in blow you right out pretty quick.
I'm not buyin' nodings. I'm busy."
"I'm not selling a darned thing," answered Tembarom, with undismayed
"You vant someding?" jerked out Munsberg.
"Yes, I want something," Tembarom answered, " but it's nothing any
one has to pay for. I'm only a newspaper man." He felt a glow of
pride as he said the words. He was a newspaper man even now. "Don't
let me stop you a minute. I'm in luck to get inside anywhere and sit
down. Let me wait."
Mrs. Munsberg read the Sunday papers and revered them. She also knew
the value of advertisement. She caught her husband's eye and
hurriedly winked at him.
"It's awful outside. 'T won't do harm if he waits--if he ain't no
agent," she put in.
"See," said Tembarom, handing over one of the cards which had been
Little Ann's businesslike inspiration.
"T. Tembarom. New York Sunday Earth," read Munsberg, rather
grudgingly. He looked at T. Tembarom, and T. Tembarom looked back at
him. The normal human friendliness in the sharp boyish face did it.
"Vell," he said, making another jerk toward a chair, "if you ain't no
agent, you can vait."
"Thank you," said Tembarom, and sat down. He had made another start,
After this the packing went on fast and furious. A youth appeared
from the back of the store, and ran here and there as he was ordered.
Munsberg and his wife filled wooden and cardboard boxes with small
cakes and larger ones, with sandwiches and salads, candies and
crystallized fruits. Into the larger box was placed a huge cake with
an icing temple on the top of it, with silver doves adorning it
outside and in. There was no mistaking the poetic significance of
that cake. Outside the blizzard whirled clouds of snow-particles
through the air, and the van horse kept his head down and his
forelegs braced. His driver had long since tried to cover him with a
blanket which the wind continually tore loose from its fastenings,
and flapped about the creature's sides. Inside the store grew hot.
There was hurried moving about, banging of doors, excited voices,
irascible orders given and countermanded. Tembarom found out in five
minutes that the refreshments were for a wedding reception to be held
at a place known as "The Hall," and the goods must be sent out in
time to be ready for the preparations for the wedding supper that
"If I knew how to handle it, I could get stuff for a column just
sitting here," he thought. He kept both eyes and ears open. He was
sharp enough to realize that the mere sense of familiarity with
detail which he was gaining was material in itself. Once or twice he
got up and lent a hand with a box in his casual way, and once or
twice he saw that he could lift some-thing down or up for Mrs.
Munsberg, who was a little woman. The natural casualness of his way
of jumping up to do the things prevented any suspicion of
officiousness, and also prevented his waiting figure from beginning
to wear the air of a superfluous object in the way. He waited a long
time, and circumstances so favored him as to give him a chance or so.
More than once exactly the right moment presented itself when he
could interject an apposite remark. Twice he made Munsberg laugh, and
twice Mrs. Munsberg voluntarily addressed him.
At last the boxes and parcels ware all carried out and stored in the
van, after strugglings with the opening and shutting of doors, and
battlings with outside weather.
When this was all over, Munsberg came back into the store, knocking
his hands together and out of breath.
"Dot's all right," he said. " It'll all be there plenty time.
Vouldn't have fell down on that order for tventy-vive dollars. Dot
temple on the cake was splendid. Joseph he done it fine."
"He never done nothin' no finer," Mrs. Munsberg said. "It looked as
good as anything on Fift' Avenoo."
Both were relieved and pleased with themselves, their store, and
their cake-decorator. Munsberg spoke to Tembarom in the manner of a
man who, having done a good thing, does not mind talking about it.
"Dot was a big order," he remarked.
"I should smile," answered Tembarom. "I'd like to know whose going to
get outside all that good stuff. That wedding-cake took the tart away
from anything I've ever seen. Which of the four hundred's going to
"De man vot ordered dot cake," Munsberg swaggered, "he's not got to
vorry along on vun million nor two. He owns de biggest brewery in New
York, I guess in America. He's Schwartz of Schwartz & Kapfer."
"Well, he 's got it to burn!" said Tembarom.
"He's a mighty good man," went on Munsberg. " He's mighty fond of his
own people. He made his first money in Harlem, and he had a big fight
to get it; but his own people vas good to him, an' he's never forgot
it. He's built a fine house here, an' his girls is fine girls. De
vun's goin' to be married to-night her name's Rachel, an' she's goin'
to marry a nice feller, Louis Levy. Levy built the big entertainment-
hall vhere the reception's goin' to be. It's decorated vith two
thousand dollars' worth of bride roses an' lilies of de valley an'
smilax. All de up-town places vas bought out, an' den Schwartz vent
down Fift' Avenoo."
The right moment had plainly arrived.
"Say, Mr. Munsberg," Tembarom broke forth, "you're giving me just
what I wanted to ask you for. I'm the new up-town society reporter
for the Sunday Earth, and I came in here to see if you wouldn't help
me to get a show at finding out who was going to have weddings and
society doings. I didn't know just how to start."
Munsberg gave a sort of grunt. He looked less amiable.
"I s'pose you're used to nothin' but Fift' Avenoo," he said.
Tembarom grinned exactly at the right time again. Not only his good
teeth grinned, but his eyes grinned also, if the figure may be used.
"Fifth Avenue!" he laughed. "There's been no Fifth Avenue in mine.
I'm not used to anything, but you may bet your life I'm going to get
used to Harlem, if you people'll let me. I've just got this job, and
I'm dead stuck on it. I want to make it go."
"He's mighty different from Biker," said Mrs. Munsberg in an
"Vhere's dod oder feller?" inquired Munsberg. "He vas a dam fool, dot
oder feller, half corned most de time, an' puttin' on Clarence airs.
No one was goin' to give him nothin'. He made folks mad at de start."
"I've got his job," said Tembarom, "and if I can't make it go, the
page will be given up. It'll be my fault if that happens, not
Harlem's. There's society enough up-town to make a first-class page,
and I shall be sick if I can't get on to it."
He had begun to know his people. Munsberg was a good- natured,
swaggering little Hebrew.
That the young fellow should make a clean breast of it and claim no
down-town superiority, and that he should also have the business
insight to realize that he might obtain valuable society items from
such a representative confectioner as M. Munsberg, was a situation to
incite amiable sentiments.
"Vell, you didn't come to de wrong place," he said. "All de biggest
things comes to me, an' I don't mind tellin' you about 'em. 'T ain't
goin' to do no harm. Weddings an' things dey ought to be wrote up,
anyhow, if dey're done right. It's good for business. Vy don't dey
have no pictures of de supper- tables? Dot'd be good."
"There's lots of receptions and weddings this month," said Mrs.
Munsberg, becoming agreeably excited. "And there's plenty handsome
young girls that'd like their pictures published.
"None of them have been in Sunday papers before, and they'd like it.
The four Schwartz girls would make grand pictures. They dress
splendid, and their bridesmaids dresses came from the biggest place
in Fift' Avenoo."
"Say," exclaimed Tembarom, rising from his chair, "I'm in luck. Luck
struck me the minute I turned in here. If you'll tell me where
Schwartz lives, and where the hall is, and the church, and just
anything else I can use, I'll go out and whoop up a page to beat the
band." He was glowing with exultation. "I know I can do it. You've
started me off."
Munsberg and his wife began to warm. It was almost as though they had
charge of the society page themselves. There was something
stimulating in the idea. There was a suggestion of social importance
in it. They knew a number of people who would be pleased with the
prospect of being in the Sunday Earth. They were of a race which
holds together, and they gave not only the names and addresses of
prospective entertainers, but those of florists and owners of halls
where parties were given.
Mrs. Munsberg gave the name of a dressmaker of whom she shrewdly
guessed that she would be amiably ready to talk to a society-page
"That Biker feller," she said, "got things down all wrong. He called
fine white satin 'white nun's-veiling,' and he left out things. Never
said nothing about Miss Lewishon's diamond ring what her grandpa gave
her for a wedding-present. An' it cost two hundred and fifty."
"Well, I'm a pretty big fool myself," said Tembarom, "but I should
have known better than that."
When he opened the door to go, Mrs. Munsberg called after him:
"When you get through, you come back here and tell us what you done.
I'll give you a cup of hot coffee."
He returned to Mrs. Bowse's boarding-house so late that night that
even Steinberger and Bowles had ended their day. The gas in the hall
was turned down to a glimmering point, and the house was silent for
the night. Even a cat who stole to him and rubbed herself against his
leg miauwed in a sort of abortive whisper, opening her mouth wide,
but emitting no sound. When he went cautiously up the staircase he
carried his damp overcoat with him, and hung it in company with the
tartan muffler close to the heater in the upper hall. Then he laid on
his bedside table a package of papers and photographs.
After he had undressed, he dropped heavily into bed, exhausted, but
"I'm dog-tired," he said, "but I guess I've got it going." And
almost before the last word had uttered itself he fell into the deep
sleep of worn-out youth.
Mrs. Bowse's boarding-house began to be even better pleased with him
than before. He had stories to tell, festivities to describe, and
cheerful incidents to recount. The boarders assisted vicariously at
weddings and wedding receptions, afternoon teas and dances, given in
halls. "Up-town" seemed to them largely given to entertainment and
hilarity of an enviably prodigal sort. Mrs. Bowse's guests were not
of the class which entertains or is entertained, and the details of
banquets and ball-dresses and money-spending were not uncheering
material for conversation. Such topics suggested the presence and
dispensing of a good deal of desirable specie, which in floating
about might somehow reach those who needed it most. The impression
was that T. Tembarom was having "a good time." It was not his way to
relate any incidents which were not of a cheering or laughter-
inspiring nature. He said nothing of the times when his luck was bad,
when he made blunders, and, approaching the wrong people, was met
roughly or grudgingly, and found no resource left but to beat a
retreat. He made no mention of his experiences in the blizzard, which
continued, and at times nearly beat breath and life out of him as he
fought his way through it. Especially he told no story of the morning
when, after having labored furiously over the writing of his "stuff"
until long after midnight, he had taken it to Galton, and seen his
face fall as he looked over it. To battle all day with a blizzard and
occasional brutal discouragements, and to sit up half the night
tensely absorbed in concentrating one's whole mental equipment upon
the doing of unaccustomed work has its effect. As he waited, Tembarom
unconsciously shifted from one foot to another, and had actually to
swallow a sort of lump in his throat.
"I guess it won't do," he said rather uncertainly as Galton laid a
Galton was worn out himself and harried by his nerves.
"No, it won't," he said; and then as he saw Tembarom move to the
other foot he added, "Not as it is."
Tembarom braced himself and cleared his throat.
"If," he ventured--" well, you've been mighty easy on me, Mr Galton--
and this is a big chance for a fellow like me. If it's too big a
chance--why--that's all. But if it's anything I could change and it
wouldn't be too much trouble to tell me--"
"There's no time to rewrite it," answered Galton. "It must be handed
in to-morrow. It's too flowery. Too many adjectives. I've no time to
give you--" He snatched up a blue pencil and began to slash at the
paper with it. "Look here-- and here--cut out that balderdash--cut
this--and this-- oh,--" throwing the pencil down,--"you'd have to cut
it all out. There's no time." He fell back in his chair with a
hopeless movement, and rubbed his forehead nervously with the back of
his hand. Ten people more or less were waiting to speak to him; he
was worn out with the rush of work. He believed in the page, and did
not want to give up his idea; but he didn't know a man to hand it to
other than this untrained, eager ignoramus whom he had a queer
personal liking for. He was no business of his, a mere stenographer
in his office with whom he could be expected to have no relations,
and yet a curious sort of friendliness verging on intimacy had
developed between them.
"There'd be time if you thought it wouldn't do any harm to give me
another chance," said Tembarom. "I can sit up all night. I guess I've
caught on to what you DON'T want. I've put in too many fool words. I
got them out of other papers, but I don't know how to use them. I
guess I've caught on. Would it do any harm if you gave me till to-
"No, it wouldn't," said Galton, desperately. "If you can't do it,
there's no time to find another man, and the page must be cut out.
It's been no good so far. It won't be missed. Take it along."
As he pushed back the papers, he saw the photographs, and picked one
"That bride's a good-looking girl. Who are these others? Bridesmaids?
You've got a lot of stuff here. Biker couldn't get anything." He
glanced up at the young fellow's rather pale face. "I thought you'd
make friends. How did you get all this?"
"I beat the streets till I found it," said Tembarom. "I had luck
right away. I went into a confectionery store where they make wedding-
cakes. A good-natured little Dutchman and his wife kept it, and I
talked to them--"
"Got next?" said Galton, grinning a little.
"They gave me addresses, and told me a whole lot of things. I got
into the Schwartz wedding reception, and they treated me mighty well.
A good many of them were willing to talk. I told them what a big
thing the page was going to be, and I--well, I said the more they
helped me the finer it would turn out. I said it seemed a shame there
shouldn't be an up-town page when such swell entertainments were
given. I've got a lot of stuff there."
"You'd get it," he said. "If you knew how to handle it, you'd make it
a hit. Well, take it along. If it isn't right tomorrow, it's done
Tembarom didn't tell stories or laugh at dinner that evening. He said
he had a headache. After dinner he bolted upstairs after Little Ann,
and caught her before she mounted to her upper floor.
"Will you come and save my life again?" he said. "I'm in the tightest
place I ever was in in my life."
"I'll do anything I can, Mr. Tembarom," she answered, and as his face
had grown flushed by this time she looked anxious. "You look
"I've got chills as well as fever," he said. "It's the page. It seems
like I was going to fall down on it."
She turned back at once.
"No you won't, Mr. Tembarom," she said "I'm just right-down sure you
They went down to the parlor again, and though there were people in
it, they found a corner apart, and in less than ten minutes he had
told her what had happened.
She took the manuscript he handed to her.
"If I was well educated, I should know how to help you," she said,
"but I've only been to a common Manchester school. I don't know
anything about elegant language. What are these?" pointing to the
Tembarom explained, and she studied the blue slashes with serious
"Well," she said in a few minutes, laying the manuscript down, "I
should have cut those words out myself if--if you'd asked me which to
take away. They're too showy, Mr. Tembarom."
Tembarom whipped a pencil out of his pocket and held it out.
"Say," he put it to her, "would you take this and draw it through a
few of the other showy ones?"
"I should feel as if I was taking too much upon myself," she said. "I
don't know anything about it."
"You know a darned sight more than I do," Tembarom argued. "I didn't
know they were showy. I thought they were the kind you had to put in
She held the sheets of paper on her knee, and bent her head over them.
Tembarom watched her dimples flash in and out as she worked away
like a child correcting an exercise. Presently he saw she was quite
absorbed. Sometimes she stopped and thought, pressing her lips
together; sometimes she changed a letter. There was no lightness in
her manner. A badly mutilated stocking would have claimed her
attention in the same way.
"I think I'd put 'house' there instead of 'mansion' if I were you,"
she suggested once.
"Put in a whole block of houses if you like," he answered gratefully.
"Whatever you say goes. I believe Galton would say the same thing."
She went over sheet after sheet, and though she knew nothing about it,
she cut out just what Galton would have cut out. She put the papers
together at last and gave them back to Tembarom, getting up from her
"I must go back to father now," she said. "I promised to make him a
good cup of coffee over the little oil-stove. If you'll come and
knock at the door I'll give you one. It will help you to keep fresh
while you work."
Tembarom did not go to bed at all that night, and he looked rather
fagged the next morning when he handed back the "stuff" entirely
rewritten. He swallowed several times quite hard as he waited for the
"You did catch on to what I didn't want," Galton said at last. "You
will catch on still more as you get used to the work. And you did get
"That--you mean--that goes?" Tembarom stammered.
"Yes, it goes," answered Galton. "You can turn it in. We'll try the
page for a month."
"Gee! Thank the Lord!" said Tembarom, and then he laughed an excited
boyish laugh, and the blood came back to his face. He had a whole
month before him, and if he had caught on as soon as this, a month
would teach him a lot.
He'd work like a dog.
He worked like a healthy young man impelled by a huge enthusiasm, and
seeing ahead of him something he had had no practical reason for
aspiring to. He went out in all weathers and stayed out to all hours.
Whatsoever rebuffs or difficulties he met with he never was even on
the verge of losing his nerve. He actually enjoyed himself
tremendously at times. He made friends; people began to like to see
him. The Munsbergs regarded him as an inspiration of their own.
"He seen my name over de store and come in here first time he vas
sent up dis vay to look for t'ings to write," Mr. Munsberg always
explained. "Ve vas awful busy--time of the Schwartz vedding, an' dere
vas dat blizzard. He owned up he vas new, an' vanted some vun vhat
knew to tell him vhat vas goin' on. 'Course I could do it. Me an' my
vife give him addresses an' a lot of items. He vorked 'em up good.
Dot up-town page is gettin' first-rate. He says he don' know vhat
he'd have done if he hadn't turned up here dot day."
Tembarom, having "caught on" to his fault of style, applied himself
with vigor to elimination. He kept his tame dictionary chained to the
leg of his table--an old kitchen table which Mrs. Bowse scrubbed and
put into his hall bedroom, overcrowding it greatly. He turned to
Little Ann at moments of desperate uncertainty, but he was man enough
to do his work himself. In glorious moments when he was rather sure
that Galton was far from unsatisfied with his progress, and Ann had
looked more than usually distracting in her aloof and sober
alluringness,-- it was her entire aloofness which so stirred his
blood,--he sometimes stopped scribbling and lost his head for a
minute or so, wondering if a fellow ever COULD "get away with it" to
the extent of making enough to--but he always pulled himself up in
"Nice fool I look, thinking that way!" he would say to himself.
"She'd throw me down hard if she knew. But, my Lord! ain't she just a
It was in the last week of the month of trial which was to decide the
permanency of the page that he came upon the man Mrs. Bowse's
boarders called his "Freak." He never called him a "freak" himself
even at the first. Even his somewhat undeveloped mind felt itself
confronted at the outset with something too abnormal and serious,
something with a suggestion of the weird and tragic in it.
In this wise it came about:
The week had begun with another blizzard, which after the second day
had suddenly changed its mind, and turned into sleet and rain which
filled the streets with melted snow, and made walking a fearsome
thing. Tembarom had plenty of walking to do. This week's page was his
great effort, and was to be a "dandy." Galton must be shown what
pertinacity could do.
"I'm going to get into it up to my neck, and then strike out," he
said at breakfast on Monday morning.
Thursday was his most strenuous day. The weather had decided to
change again, and gusts of sleet were being driven about, which added
cold to sloppiness. He had found it difficult to get hold of some
details he specially wanted. Two important and extremely good-looking
brides had refused to see him because Biker had enraged them in his
day. He had slighted the description of their dresses at a dance
where they had been the observed of all observers, and had worn
things brought from Paris. Tembarom had gone from house to house. He
had even searched out aunts whose favor he had won professionally. He
had appealed to his dressmaker, whose affection he had by that time
fully gained. She was doing work in the brides' houses, and could
make it clear that he would not call peau de cygne "Surah silk," nor
duchess lace "Baby Irish." But the young ladies enjoyed being
besought by a society page. It was something to discuss with one's
bridesmaids and friends, to protest that "those interviewers" give a
person no peace. "If you don't want to be in the papers, they'll put
you in whether you like it or not, however often you refuse them."
They kept Tembarom running about, they raised faint hopes, and then
went out when he called, leaving no messages, but allowing the
servant to hint that if he went up to Two Hundred and Seventy-fifth
Street he might chance to find them.
"All right," said Tembarom to the girl, delighting her by lifting his
hat genially as he turned to go down the steps. "I'll just keep going.
The Sunday Earth can't come out without those photographs in it. I
should lose my job."
When at last he ran the brides to cover it was not at Two Hundred and
Seventy-fifth Street, but in their own home, to which they had
finally returned. They had heard from the servant-girl about what the
young gentleman from the Sunday Earth had said, and they were
mollified by his proper appreciation of values. Tembarom's dressmaker
friend also proffered information.
"I know him myself," she said, "and he's a real nice gentle-manlike
young man. He's not a bit like Biker. He doesn't think he knows
everything. He came to me from Mrs. Munsberg, just to ask me the
names of fashionable materials. He said it was more important than a
man knew till he found out" Miss Stuntz chuckled.
"He asked me to lend him some bits of samples so he could learn them
off by heart, and know them when he saw them. He's got a pleasant
laugh; shows his teeth, and they're real pretty and white; and he
just laughed like a boy and said: 'These samples are my alphabet,
Miss Stuntz. I'm going to learn to read words of three syllables in
When late in the evening Tembarom, being let out of the house after
his interview, turned down the steps again, he carried with him all
he had wanted--information and photographs, even added picturesque
details. He was prepared to hand in a fuller and better page than he
had ever handed in before. He was in as elated a frame of mind as a
young man can be when he is used up with tramping the streets, and
running after street-cars, to stand up in them and hang by a strap.
He had been wearing a new pair of boots, one of which rubbed his heel
and had ended by raising a blister worthy of attention. To reach the
nearest "L" station he must walk across town, through several
deserted streets in the first stages of being built up, their vacant
lots surrounded by high board fencing covered with huge advertising
posters. The hall bedroom, with the gas turned up and the cheap, red-
cotton comfort on the bed, made an alluring picture as he faced the
"If I cut across to the avenue and catch the 'L,' I'm bound to get
there sometime, anyhow," he said as he braced himself and set out on
The blister on his heel had given him a good deal of trouble, and he
was obliged to stop a moment to ease it, and he limped when he began
to walk again. But he limped as fast as he could, while the sleety
rain beat in his face, across one street, down another for a block or
so, across another, the melting snow soaking even the new boots as he
splashed through it. He bent his head, however, and limped steadily.
At this end of the city many of the streets were only scantily built
up, and he was passing through one at the corner of which was a big
vacant lot. At the other corner a row of cheap houses which had only
reached their second story waited among piles of bricks and frozen
mortar for the return of the workmen the blizzard had dispersed. It
was a desolate-enough thoroughfare, and not a soul was in sight. The
vacant lot was fenced in with high boarding plastered over with
flaring sheets advertising whiskies, sauces, and theatrical ventures.
A huge picture of a dramatically interrupted wedding ceremony done in
reds and yellows, and announcing in large letters that Mr. Isaac
Simonson presented Miss Evangeline St. Clair in "Rent Asunder,"
occupied several yards of the boarding. As he reached it, the heel of
Tembarom's boot pressed, as it seemed to him, a red-hot coal on the
flesh. He had rubbed off the blister. He was obliged to stop a moment
"Gee whizz!" he exclaimed through his teeth, "I shall have to take
my boot off and try to fix it."
To accomplish this he leaned against the boarding and Miss Evangeline
St. Clair being "Rent Asunder" in the midst of the wedding service.
He cautiously removed his boot, and finding a hole in his sock in the
place where the blister had rubbed off, he managed to protect the raw
spot by pulling the sock over it. Then he drew on his boot again.
"That'll be better," he said, with a long breath.
As he stood on his feet again he started involuntarily. This was not
because the blister had hurt him, but because he had heard behind him
a startling sound.
"What's that?" broke from him. "What's that?"
He turned and listened, feeling his heart give a quick thump. In the
darkness of the utterly empty street the thing was unnatural enough
to make any man jump. He had heard it between two gusts of wind, and
through another he heard it again - an uncanny, awful sobbing, broken
by a hopeless wail of words.
"I can't remember! I can't- remember! 0 my God !"
And it was not a woman's voice or a child's; it was a man's, and
there was an eerie sort of misery in it which made Tembarom feel
rather sick. He had never heard a man sobbing before. He belonged to
a class which had no time for sobs. This sounded ghastly.
"Good Lord!" he said, "the fellow's crying! A man!"
The sound came directly behind him. There was not a human being in
sight. Even policemen do not loiter in empty streets.
"Hello!" he cried. "Where are you?"
But the low, horrible sound went on, and no answer came. His physical
sense of the presence of the blister was blotted out by the abnormal
thrill of the moment. One had to find out about a thing like that-
one just had to. One could not go on and leave it behind
uninvestigated in the dark and emptiness of a street no one was
likely to pass through. He listened more intently. Yes, it was just
"He's in the lot behind the fence," he said. "How did he get there?"
He began to walk along the boarding to find a gap. A few yards
farther on he came upon a broken place in the inclosure - a place
where boards had sagged until they fell down, or had perhaps been
pulled down by boys who wanted to get inside. He went through it, and
found lie was in the usual vacant lot long given up to rubbish. When
he stood still a moment he heard the sobbing again, and followed the
sound to the place behind the boarding against which he had supported
himself when he took off his boot.
A man was lying on the ground with his arms flung out. The street
lamp outside the boarding cast light enough to reveal him. Tembarom
felt as though he had suddenly found himself taking part in a
melodrama,-" The Streets of New York," for choice,-though no
melodrama had ever given him this slightly shaky feeling. But when a
fellow looked up against it as hard as this, what you had to do was
to hold your nerve and make him feel he was going to be helped. The
normal human thing spoke loud in him.
"Hello, old man!" he said with cheerful awkwardness. "What's hit you?"
The man started and scrambled to his feet as though he were
frightened. He was wet, unshaven, white and shuddering, piteous to
look at. He stared with wild eyes, his chest heaving.
"What's up?" said Tembarom.
The man's breath caught itself.
"I don't remember." There was a touch of horror in his voice, though
he was evidently making an effort to control him-self. "I can't - I
can't remember." "What's your name? You remember that?" Tembarom put
it to him.
"N-n-no !" agonizingly. "If I could! If I could!"
"How did you get in here?"
"I came in because I saw a policeman. He wouldn't understand. He
would have stopped me. I must not be stopped. I MUST not."
"Where were you going? " asked Tembarom, not knowing what else to say.
"Home! My God! man, home!" and he fell to shuddering again. He put
his arm against the boarding and dropped his head against it. The low,
hideous sobbing tore him again.
T. Tembarom could not stand it. In his newsboy days he had never been
able to stand starved dogs and homeless cats. Mrs. Bowse was taking
care of a wretched dog for him at the present moment. He had not
wanted the poor brute,--he was not particularly fond of dogs,-- but
it had followed him home, and after he had given it a bone or so, it
had licked its chops and turned up its eyes at him with such abject
appeal that he had not been able to turn it into the streets again.
He was unsentimental, but ruled by primitive emotions. Also he had a
sudden recollection of a night when as a little fellow he had gone
into a vacant lot and cried as like this as a child could. It was a
bad night when some "tough" big boys had turned him out of a warm
corner in a shed, and he had had nowhere to go, and being a friendly
little fellow, the unfriendliness had hit him hard. The boys had not
seen him crying, but he remembered it. He drew near, and put his hand
on the shaking shoulder.
"Say, don't do that," he said. "I'll help you to remember."
He scarcely knew why he said it. There was something in the situation
and in the man himself which was compelling. He was not of the tramp
order. His wet clothes had been decent, and his broken, terrified
voice was neither coarse nor nasal. He lifted his head and caught
Tembarom's arm, clutching it with desperate fingers.
"Could you?" he poured forth the words. "Could you? I'm not quite mad.
Something happened. If I could be quiet! Don't let them stop me! My
God! my God! my God! I can't say it. It's not far away, but it won't
come back. You're a good fellow; if you're human, help me! help me!
help me!" He clung to Tembarom with hands which shook; his eyes were
more abject than the starved dog's; he choked, and awful tears rolled
down his cheeks. "Only help me," he cried--"just help, help, help--
for a while. Perhaps not long. It would come back." He made a
horrible effort. "Listen! My name--I am--I am--it's--"
He was down on the ground again, groveling. His efforts had failed.
Tembarom, overwrought himself, caught at him and dragged him up.
"Make a fight," he said. "You can't lie down like that. You've got to
put up a fight. It'll come back. I tell you it will. You've had a
clip on the head or something. Let me call an ambulance and take you
to the hospital."
The next moment he was sorry he had said the words, the man's terror
was so ill to behold. He grew livid with it, and uttered a low animal
"Don't drop dead over it," said Tembarom, rather losing his head. "I
won't do it, though what in thunder I'm going to do with you I don't
know. You can't stay here."
"For God's sake!" said the man. "For God's sake!" He put his shaking
hand on Tembarom again, and looked at him with a bewildered scrutiny.
"I'm not afraid of you," he said; "I don't know why. There's
something all right about you. If you'll stand by me--you'd stand by
a man, I'd swear. Take me somewhere quiet. Let me get warm and think."
"The less you think now the better," answered Tembarom. "You want a
bed and a bath and a night's rest. I guess I've let myself in for it.
You brush off and brace yourself and come with me."
There was the hall bedroom and the red-cotton comfort for one night
at least, and Mrs. Bowse was a soft-hearted woman. If she'd heard the
fellow sobbing behind the fence, she'd have been in a worse fix than
he was. Women were kinder-hearted than men, anyhow. The way the
fellow's voice sounded when he said, "Help me, help me, help me!"
sounded as though he was in hell. "Made me feel as if I was bracing
up a chap that was going to be electrocuted," he thought, feeling
sickish again. "I've not got backbone enough to face that sort of
thing. Got to take him somewhere."
They were walking toward the "L" together, and he was wondering what
he should say to Mrs. Bowse when he saw his companion fumbling under
his coat at the back as though he was in search of something. His
hands being unsteady, it took him some moments to get at what he
wanted. He evidently had a belt or a hidden pocket. He got something
out and stopped under a street light to show it to Tembarom. His
hands still shook when he held them out, and his look was a curious,
puzzled, questioning one. What he passed over to Tembarom was a roll
of money. Tembarom rather lost his breath as he saw the number on two
five-hundred-dollar bills, and of several hundreds, besides twenties,
tens, and fives.
"Take it--keep it," he said. "It will pay."
"Hully gee!" cried Tembarom, aghast. "Don't go giving away your whole
pile to the first fellow you meet. I don't want it."
"Take it." The stranger put his hand on his shoulder, the abject look
in his eyes harrowingly like the starved dog's again.
"There's something all right about you. You'll help me."
"If I don't take it for you, some one will knock you upon the head
for it." Tembarom hesitated, but the next instant he stuffed it all
in his pocket, incited thereto by the sound of a whizzing roar.
"There's the 'L' coming," he cried; "run for all you're worth." And
they fled up the street and up the steps, and caught it without a
second to spare.
At about the time Tembarom made his rush to catch the "L" Joseph
Hutchinson was passing through one of his periodical fits of
infuriated discouragement. Little Ann knew they would occur every two
or three days, and she did not wonder at them. Also she knew that if
she merely sat still and listened as she sewed, she would be doing
exactly what her mother would have done and what her father would find
a sort of irritated comfort in. There was no use in citing people's
villainies and calling them names unless you had an audience who would
seem to agree to the justice of your accusations.
So Mr. Hutchinson charged up and down the room, his face red, and his
hands thrust in his coat pockets. He was giving his opinions of
America and Americans, and he spoke with his broadest Manchester
accent, and threw in now and then a word or so of Lancashire dialect
to add roughness and strength, the angrier a Manchester man being, the
broader and therefore the more forcible his accent. "Tha" is somehow a
great deal more bitter or humorous or affectionate than the mere
ordinary "You" or "Yours."
"'Merica," he bellowed - "dang 'Merica! I says - an' dang 'Mericans.
Goin' about th' world braggin' an' boastin' about their sharpness an'
their open-'andedness. 'Go to 'Merica,' folks'll tell you, 'with an
invention, and there's dozens of millionaires ready to put money in
"Now, Father," - Little Ann's voice was as maternal as her mother's
had been, - "now, Father, love, don't work yourself up into a passion.
You know it's not good for you." "I don't need to work myself up into
one. I'm in one. A man sells everything he owns to get to 'Merica, an'
when he gets there what does he find? He canna' get near a
millionaire. He's pushed here an scuffled there, an' told this chap
can't see him, an' that chap isn't interested, an' he must wait his
chance to catch this one. An' he waits an' waits, an' goes up in
elevators an' stands on one leg in lobbies, till he's broke' down an'
sick of it, an' has to go home to England steerage."
Little Ann looked up from her sewing. He had been walking furiously
for half an hour, and had been tired to begin with. She had heard his
voice break roughly as he said the last words. He threw himself
astride a chair and, crossing his arms on the back of it, dropped his
head on them. Her mother never allowed this. Her idea was that women
were made to tide over such moments for the weaker sex. Far had it
been from the mind of Mrs. Hutchinson to call it weaker. "But there's
times, Ann, when just for a bit they're just like children. They need
comforting without being let to know they are being comforted. You
know how it is when your back aches, and some one just slips a pillow
under it in the right place without saying anything. That's what women
can do if they've got heads. It needs a head."
Little Ann got up and went to the chair. She began to run her fingers
caressingly through the thick, grizzled hair.
"There, Father, love, there!" she said. "We are going back to England,
at any rate, aren't we? And grandmother will be so glad to have us
with her in her cottage. And America's only one place."
"I tried it first, dang it!" jerked out Hutchinson. "Every one told me
to do it." He quoted again with derisive scorn: "'You go to 'Merica.
'Merica's the place for a chap like you. 'Merica's the place for
Little Ann went on rubbing the grizzled head lovingly.
"Well, now we're going back to try England. You never did really try
England. And you know how beautiful it'll be in the country, with the
primroses in bloom and the young lambs in the fields." The caressing
hand grew even softer. "And you're not going to forget how mother
believed in the invention; you can't do that."
Hutchinson lifted his head and looked at her.