Part 3 out of 7
"Bother? Why, good Lord, I'd be darn glad to! You know I'd be darn
"Thanks _loads_! You're awfully sweet."
She glanced at her wrist-watch. It was half-past one. And, as she said
"half-past one" to herself, it floated vaguely into her mind that her
brother had told her at luncheon that he worked in the office of his
newspaper until after one-thirty every evening.
Edith turned suddenly to her current partner.
"What street is Delmonico's on, anyway?"
"Street? Oh, why Fifth Avenue, of course."
"I mean, what cross street?"
"Why--let's see--it's on Forty-fourth Street."
This verified what she had thought. Henry's office must be across the
street and just around the corner, and it occurred to her immediately
that she might slip over for a moment and surprise him, float in on
him, a shimmering marvel in her new crimson opera cloak and "cheer him
up." It was exactly the sort of thing Edith revelled in doing--an
unconventional, jaunty thing. The idea reached out and gripped at her
imagination--after an instant's hesitation she had decided.
"My hair is just about to tumble entirely down," she said pleasantly
to her partner; "would you mind if I go and fix it?"
"Not at all."
"You're a peach."
A few minutes later, wrapped in her crimson opera cloak, she flitted
down a side-stairs, her cheeks glowing with excitement at her little
adventure. She ran by a couple who stood at the door--a weak-chinned
waiter and an over-rouged young lady, in hot dispute--and opening the
outer door stepped into the warm May night.
The over-rouged young lady followed her with a brief, bitter
glance--then turned again to the weak-chinned waiter and took up her
"You better go up and tell him I'm here," she said defiantly, "or I'll
go up myself."
"No, you don't!" said George sternly.
The girl smiled sardonically.
"Oh, I don't, don't I? Well, let me tell you I know more college
fellas and more of 'em know me, and are glad to take me out on a
party, than you ever saw in your whole life."
"Maybe so," she interrupted. "Oh, it's all right for any of 'em like
that one that just ran out--God knows where _she_ went--it's all
right for them that are asked here to come or go as they like--but
when I want to see a friend they have some cheap, ham-slinging,
bring-me-a-doughnut waiter to stand here and keep me out."
"See here," said the elder Key indignantly, "I can't lose my job.
Maybe this fella you're talkin' about doesn't want to see you."
"Oh, he wants to see me all right."
"Anyways, how could I find him in all that crowd?"
"Oh, he'll be there," she asserted confidently. "You just ask anybody
for Gordon Sterrett and they'll point him out to you. They all know
each other, those fellas."
She produced a mesh bag, and taking out a dollar bill handed it to
"Here," she said, "here's a bribe. You find him and give him my
message. You tell him if he isn't here in five minutes I'm coming up."
George shook his head pessimistically, considered the question for a
moment, wavered violently, and then withdrew.
In less than the allotted time Gordon came down-stairs. He was drunker
than he had been earlier in the evening and in a different way. The
liquor seemed to have hardened on him like a crust. He was heavy and
lurching--almost incoherent when he talked.
"'Lo, Jewel," he said thickly. "Came right away, Jewel, I couldn't get
that money. Tried my best."
"Money nothing!" she snapped. "You haven't been near me for ten days.
What's the matter?"
He shook his head slowly.
"Been very low, Jewel. Been sick."
"Why didn't you tell me if you were sick. I don't care about the money
that bad. I didn't start bothering you about it at all until you began
Again he shook his head.
"Haven't been neglecting you. Not at all."
"Haven't! You haven't been near me for three weeks, unless you been so
drunk you didn't know what you were doing."
"Been sick. Jewel," he repeated, turning his eyes upon her wearily.
"You're well enough to come and play with your society friends here
all right. You told me you'd meet me for dinner, and you said you'd
have some money for me. You didn't even bother to ring me up."
"I couldn't get any money."
"Haven't I just been saying that doesn't matter? I wanted to see
_you_, Gordon, but you seem to prefer your somebody else."
He denied this bitterly.
"Then get your hat and come along," she suggested. Gordon
hesitated--and she came suddenly close to him and slipped her arms
around his neck.
"Come on with me, Gordon," she said in a half whisper. "We'll go over
to Devineries' and have a drink, and then we can go up to my
"I can't, Jewel,----"
"You can," she said intensely.
"I'm sick as a dog!"
"Well, then, you oughtn't to stay here and dance."
With a glance around him in which relief and despair were mingled,
Gordon hesitated; then she suddenly pulled him to her and kissed him
with soft, pulpy lips.
"All right," he said heavily. "I'll get my hat."
When Edith came out into the clear blue of the May night she found the
Avenue deserted. The windows of the big shops were dark; over their
doors were drawn great iron masks until they were only shadowy tombs
of the late day's splendor. Glancing down toward Forty-second Street
she saw a commingled blur of lights from the all-night restaurants.
Over on Sixth Avenue the elevated, a flare of fire, roared across the
street between the glimmering parallels of light at the station and
streaked along into the crisp dark. But at Forty-fourth Street it was
Pulling her cloak close about her Edith darted across the Avenue. She
started nervously as a solitary man passed her and said in a hoarse
whisper--"Where bound, kiddo?" She was reminded of a night in her
childhood when she had walked around the block in her pajamas and a
dog had howled at her from a mystery-big back yard.
In a minute she had reached her destination, a two-story,
comparatively old building on Forty-fourth, in the upper window of
which she thankfully detected a wisp of light. It was bright enough
outside for her to make out the sign beside the window--the _New
York Trumpet_. She stepped inside a dark hall and after a second
saw the stairs in the corner.
Then she was in a long, low room furnished with many desks and hung on
all sides with file copies of newspapers. There were only two
occupants. They were sitting at different ends of the room, each
wearing a green eye-shade and writing by a solitary desk light.
For a moment she stood uncertainly in the doorway, and then both men
turned around simultaneously and she recognized her brother.
"Why, Edith!" He rose quickly and approached her in surprise, removing
his eye-shade. He was tall, lean, and dark, with black, piercing eyes
under very thick glasses. They were far-away eyes that seemed always
fixed just over the head of the person to whom he was talking.
He put his hands on her arms and kissed her cheek.
"What is it?" he repeated in some alarm.
"I was at a dance across at Delmonico's, Henry," she said excitedly,
"and I couldn't resist tearing over to see you."
"I'm glad you did." His alertness gave way quickly to a habitual
vagueness. "You oughtn't to be out alone at night though, ought you?"
The man at the other end of the room had been looking at them
curiously, but at Henry's beckoning gesture he approached. He was
loosely fat with little twinkling eyes, and, having removed his collar
and tie, he gave the impression of a Middle-Western farmer on a Sunday
"This is my sister," said Henry. "She dropped in to see me."
"How do you do?" said the fat man, smiling. "My name's Bartholomew,
Miss Bradin. I know your brother has forgotten it long ago."
Edith laughed politely.
"Well," he continued, "not exactly gorgeous quarters we have here, are
Edith looked around the room.
"They seem very nice," she replied. "Where do you keep the bombs?"
"The bombs?" repeated Bartholomew, laughing. "That's pretty good--the
bombs. Did you hear her, Henry? She wants to know where we keep the
bombs. Say, that's pretty good."
Edith swung herself onto a vacant desk and sat dangling her feet over
the edge. Her brother took a seat beside her.
"Well," he asked, absent-mindedly, "how do you like New York this
"Not bad. I'll be over at the Biltmore with the Hoyts until Sunday.
Can't you come to luncheon to-morrow?"
He thought a moment.
"I'm especially busy," he objected, "and I hate women in groups."
"All right," she agreed, unruffled. "Let's you and me have luncheon
"I'll call for you at twelve."
Bartholomew was obviously anxious to return to his desk, but
apparently considered that it would be rude to leave without some
"Well"--he began awkwardly.
They both turned to him.
"Well, we--we had an exciting time earlier in the evening."
The two men exchanged glances.
"You should have come earlier," continued Bartholomew, somewhat
encouraged. "We had a regular vaudeville."
"Did you really?"
"A serenade," said Henry. "A lot of soldiers gathered down there in
the street and began to yell at the sign."
"Why?" she demanded.
"Just a crowd," said Henry, abstractedly. "All crowds have to howl.
They didn't have anybody with much initiative in the lead, or they'd
probably have forced their way in here and smashed things up."
"Yes," said Bartholomew, turning again to Edith, "you should have been
He seemed to consider this a sufficient cue for withdrawal, for he
turned abruptly and went back to his desk.
"Are the soldiers all set against the Socialists?" demanded Edith of
her brother. "I mean do they attack you violently and all that?"
Henry replaced his eye-shade and yawned.
"The human race has come a long way," he said casually, "but most of
us are throw-backs; the soldiers don't know what they want, or what
they hate, or what they like. They're used to acting in large bodies,
and they seem to have to make demonstrations. So it happens to be
against us. There've been riots all over the city to-night. It's May
Day, you see."
"Was the disturbance here pretty serious?"
"Not a bit," he said scornfully. "About twenty-five of them stopped in
the street about nine o'clock, and began to bellow at the moon."
"Oh"--She changed the subject. "You're glad to see me, Henry?"
"You don't seem to be."
"I suppose you think I'm a--a waster. Sort of the World's Worst
"Not at all. Have a good time while you're young. Why? Do I seem like
the priggish and earnest youth?"
"No--" she paused,"--but somehow I began thinking how absolutely
different the party I'm on is from--from all your purposes. It seems
sort of--of incongruous, doesn't it?--me being at a party like that,
and you over here working for a thing that'll make that sort of party
impossible ever any more, if your ideas work."
"I don't think of it that way. You're young, and you're acting just as
you were brought up to act. Go ahead--have a good time?"
Her feet, which had been idly swinging, stopped and her voice dropped
"I wish you'd--you'd come back to Harrisburg and have a good time. Do
you feel sure that you're on the right track----"
"You're wearing beautiful stockings," he interrupted. "What on earth
"They're embroidered," she replied, glancing down; "Aren't they
cunning?" She raised her skirts and uncovered slim, silk-sheathed
calves. "Or do you disapprove of silk stockings?"
He seemed slightly exasperated, bent his dark eyes on her piercingly.
"Are you trying to make me out as criticizing you in any way, Edith?"
"Not at all-----"
She paused. Bartholomew had uttered a grunt. She turned and saw that
he had left his desk and was standing at the window.
"What is it?" demanded Henry.
"People," said Bartholomew, and then after an instant: "Whole jam of
them. They're coming from Sixth Avenue."
The fat man pressed his nose to the pane.
"Soldiers, by God!" he said emphatically. "I had an idea they'd come
Edith jumped to her feet, and running over joined Bartholomew at the
"There's a lot of them!" she cried excitedly. "Come here, Henry!"
Henry readjusted his shade, but kept his seat.
"Hadn't we better turn out the lights?" suggested Bartholomew.
"No. They'll go away in a minute."
"They're not," said Edith, peering from the window. "They're not even
thinking of going away. There's more of them coming. Look--there's a
whole crowd turning the corner of Sixth Avenue,"
By the yellow glow and blue shadows of the street lamp she could see
that the sidewalk was crowded with men. They were mostly in uniform,
some sober, some enthusiastically drunk, and over the whole swept an
incoherent clamor and shouting.
Henry rose, and going to the window exposed himself as a long
silhouette against the office lights. Immediately the shouting became
a steady yell, and a rattling fusillade of small missiles, corners of
tobacco plugs, cigarette-boxes, and even pennies beat against the
window. The sounds of the racket now began floating up the stairs as
the folding doors revolved.
"They're coming up!" cried Bartholomew.
Edith turned anxiously to Henry.
"They're coming up, Henry."
From down-stairs in the lower hall their cries were now quite audible.
"--God Damn Socialists!"
"Second floor, front! Come on!"
"We'll get the sons--"
The next five minutes passed in a dream. Edith was conscious that the
clamor burst suddenly upon the three of them like a cloud of rain,
that there was a thunder of many feet on the stairs, that Henry had
seized her arm and drawn her back toward the rear of the office. Then
the door opened and an overflow of men were forced into the room--not
the leaders, but simply those who happened to be in front.
"Up late, ain't you!"
"You an' your girl. Damn _you_!"
She noticed that two very drunken soldiers had been forced to the
front, where they wobbled fatuously--one of them was short and dark,
the other was tall and weak of chin.
Henry stepped forward and raised his hand.
"Friends!" he said.
The clamor faded into a momentary stillness, punctuated with
"Friends!" he repeated, his far-away eyes fixed over the heads of the
crowd, "you're injuring no one but yourselves by breaking in here
to-night. Do we look like rich men? Do we look like Germans? I ask you
in all fairness--"
"I'll say you do!"
"Say, who's your lady friend, buddy?"
A man in civilian clothes, who had been pawing over a table, suddenly
held up a newspaper.
"Here it is!" he shouted, "They wanted the Germans to win the war!"
A new overflow from the stairs was shouldered in and of a sudden the
room was full of men all closing around the pale little group at the
back. Edith saw that the tall soldier with the weak chin was still in
front. The short dark one had disappeared.
She edged slightly backward, stood close to the open window, through
which came a clear breath of cool night air.
Then the room was a riot. She realized that the soldiers were surging
forward, glimpsed the fat man swinging a chair over his
head--instantly the lights went out and she felt the push of warm
bodies under rough cloth, and her ears were full of shouting and
trampling and hard breathing.
A figure flashed by her out of nowhere, tottered, was edged sideways,
and of a sudden disappeared helplessly out through the open window
with a frightened, fragmentary cry that died staccato on the bosom of
the clamor. By the faint light streaming from the building backing on
the area Edith had a quick impression that it had been the tall
soldier with tie weak chin.
Anger rose astonishingly in her. She swung her arms wildly, edged
blindly toward the thickest of the scuffling. She heard grunts,
curses, the muffled impact of fists.
"Henry!" she called frantically, "Henry!"
Then, it was minutes later, she felt suddenly that there were other
figures in the room. She heard a voice, deep, bullying, authoritative;
she saw yellow rays of light sweeping here and there in the fracas.
The cries became more scattered. The scuffling increased and then
Suddenly the lights were on and the room was full of policemen,
clubbing left and right. The deep voice boomed out:
"Here now! Here now! Here now!"
"Quiet down and get out! Here now!"
The room seemed to empty like a wash-bowl. A policeman fast-grappled
in the corner released his hold on his soldier antagonist and started
him with a shove toward the door. The deep voice continued. Edith
perceived now that it came from a bull-necked police captain standing
near the door.
"Here now! This is no way! One of your own sojers got shoved out of
the back window an' killed hisself!"
"Henry!" called Edith, "Henry!"
She beat wildly with her fists on the back of the man in front of her;
she brushed between two others; fought, shrieked, and beat her way to
a very pale figure sitting on the floor close to a desk.
"Henry," she cried passionately, "what's the matter? What's the
matter? Did they hurt you?"
His eyes were shut. He groaned and then looking up said disgustedly--
"They broke my leg. My God, the fools!"
"Here now!" called the police captain. "Here now! Here now!"
"Childs', Fifty-ninth Street," at eight o'clock of any morning differs
from its sisters by less than the width of their marble tables or the
degree of polish on the frying-pans. You will see there a crowd of
poor people with sleep in the corners of their eyes, trying to look
straight before them at their food so as not to see the other poor
people. But Childs', Fifty-ninth, four hours earlier is quite unlike
any Childs' restaurant from Portland, Oregon, to Portland, Maine.
Within its pale but sanitary walls one finds a noisy medley of chorus
girls, college boys, debutantes, rakes, _filles de joie_--a not
unrepresentative mixture of the gayest of Broadway, and even of Fifth
In the early morning of May the second it was unusually full. Over the
marble-topped tables were bent the excited faces of flappers whose
fathers owned individual villages. They were eating buckwheat cakes
and scrambled eggs with relish and gusto, an accomplishment that it
would have been utterly impossible for them to repeat in the same
place four hours later.
Almost the entire crowd were from the Gamma Psi dance at Delmonico's
except for several chorus girls from a midnight revue who sat at a
side table and wished they'd taken off a little more make-up after the
show. Here and there a drab, mouse-like figure, desperately out of
place, watched the butterflies with a weary, puzzled curiosity. But
the drab figure was the exception. This was the morning after May Day,
and celebration was still in the air.
Gus Rose, sober but a little dazed, must be classed as one of the drab
figures. How he had got himself from Forty-fourth Street to
Fifty-ninth Street after the riot was only a hazy half-memory. He had
seen the body of Carrol Key put in an ambulance and driven off, and
then he had started up town with two or three soldiers. Somewhere
between Forty-fourth Street and Fifty-ninth Street the other soldiers
had met some women and disappeared. Rose had wandered to Columbus
Circle and chosen the gleaming lights of Childs' to minister to his
craving for coffee and doughnuts. He walked in and sat down.
All around him floated airy, inconsequential chatter and high-pitched
laughter. At first he failed to understand, but after a puzzled five
minutes he realized that this was the aftermath of some gay party.
Here and there a restless, hilarious young man wandered fraternally
and familiarly between the tables, shaking hands indiscriminately and
pausing occasionally for a facetious chat, while excited waiters,
bearing cakes and eggs aloft, swore at him silently, and bumped him
out of the way. To Rose, seated at the most inconspicuous and least
crowded table, the whole scene was a colorful circus of beauty and
He became gradually aware, after a few moments, that the couple seated
diagonally across from him with their backs to the crowd, were not the
least interesting pair in the room. The man was drunk. He wore a
dinner coat with a dishevelled tie and shirt swollen by spillings of
water and wine. His eyes, dim and blood-shot, roved unnaturally from
side to side. His breath came short between his lips.
"He's been on a spree!" thought Rose.
The woman was almost if not quite sober. She was pretty, with dark
eyes and feverish high color, and she kept her active eyes fixed on
her companion with the alertness of a hawk. From time to time she
would lean and whisper intently to him, and he would answer by
inclining his head heavily or by a particularly ghoulish and repellent
Rose scrutinized them dumbly for some minutes until the woman gave him
a quick, resentful look; then he shifted his gaze to two of the most
conspicuously hilarious of the promenaders who were on a protracted
circuit of the tables. To his surprise he recognized in one of them
the young man by whom he had been so ludicrously entertained at
Delmonico's. This started him thinking of Key with a vague
sentimentality, not unmixed with awe. Key was dead. He had fallen
thirty-five feet and split his skull like a cracked cocoa-nut.
"He was a darn good guy," thought Rose mournfully. "He was a darn good
guy, o'right. That was awful hard luck about him."
The two promenaders approached and started down between Rose's table
and the next, addressing friends and strangers alike with jovial
familiarity. Suddenly Rose saw the fair-haired one with the prominent
teeth stop, look unsteadily at the man and girl opposite, and then
begin to move his head disapprovingly from side to side.
The man with the blood-shot eyes looked up.
"Gordy," said the promenader with the prominent teeth, "Gordy."
"Hello," said the man with the stained shirt thickly.
Prominent teeth shook his finger pessimistically at the pair, giving
the woman a glance of aloof condemnation.
"What'd I tell you Gordy?"
Gordon stirred in his seat.
"Go to hell!" he said.
Dean continued to stand there shaking his finger. The woman began to
"You go way!" she cried fiercely. "You're drunk, that's what you are!"
"So's he," suggested Dean, staying the motion of his finger and
pointing it at Gordon.
Peter Himmel ambled up, owlish now and oratorically inclined.
"Here now," he began as if called upon to deal with some petty dispute
between children. "Wha's all trouble?"
"You take your friend away," said Jewel tartly. "He's bothering us."
"You heard me!" she said shrilly. "I said to take your drunken friend
Her rising voice rang out above the clatter of the restaurant and a
waiter came hurrying up.
"You gotta be more quiet!"
"That fella's drunk," she cried. "He's insulting us."
"Ah-ha, Gordy," persisted the accused. "What'd I tell you." He turned
to the waiter. "Gordy an' I friends. Been tryin' help him, haven't I,
Gordy looked up.
"Help me? Hell, no!"
Jewel rose suddenly, and seizing Gordon's arm assisted him to his
"Come on, Gordy!" she said, leaning toward him and speaking in a half
whisper. "Let's us get out of here. This fella's got a mean drunk on."
Gordon allowed himself to be urged to his feet and started toward the
door. Jewel turned for a second and addressed the provoker of their
"I know all about _you_!" she said fiercely. "Nice friend, you
are, I'll say. He told me about you."
Then she seized Gordon's arm, and together they made their way through
the curious crowd, paid their check, and went out.
"You'll have to sit down," said the waiter to Peter after they had
"What's 'at? Sit down?"
"Yes--or get out."
Peter turned to Dean.
"Come on," he suggested. "Let's beat up this waiter."
They advanced toward him, their faces grown stern. The waiter
Peter suddenly reached over to a plate on the table beside him and
picking up a handful of hash tossed it into the air. It descended as a
languid parabola in snowflake effect on the heads of those near by.
"Hey! Ease up!"
"Put him out!"
"Sit down, Peter!"
"Cut out that stuff!"
Peter laughed and bowed.
"Thank you for your kind applause, ladies and gents. If some one will
lend me some more hash and a tall hat we will go on with the act."
The bouncer bustled up.
"You've gotta get out!" he said to Peter.
"He's my friend!" put in Dean indignantly.
A crowd of waiters were gathering. "Put him out!"
"Better go, Peter."
There was a short, struggle and the two were edged and pushed toward
"I got a hat and a coat here!" cried Peter.
"Well, go get 'em and be spry about it!"
The bouncer released his hold on Peter, who, adopting a ludicrous air
of extreme cunning, rushed immediately around to the other table,
where he burst into derisive laughter and thumbed his nose at the
"Think I just better wait a l'il longer," he announced.
The chase began. Four waiters were sent around one way and four
another. Dean caught hold of two of them by the coat, and another
struggle took place before the pursuit of Peter could be resumed; he
was finally pinioned after overturning a sugar-bowl and several cups
of coffee. A fresh argument ensued at the cashier's desk, where Peter
attempted to buy another dish of hash to take with him and throw at
But the commotion upon his exit proper was dwarfed by another
phenomenon which drew admiring glances and a prolonged involuntary
"Oh-h-h!" from every person in the restaurant.
The great plate-glass front had turned to a deep blue, the color of a
Maxfield Parrish moonlight--a blue that seemed to press close upon the
pane as if to crowd its way into the restaurant. Dawn had come up in
Columbus Circle, magical, breathless dawn, silhouetting the great
statue of the immortal Christopher, and mingling in a curious and
uncanny manner with the fading yellow electric light inside.
Mr. In and Mr. Out are not listed by the census-taker. You will search
for them in vain through the social register or the births, marriages,
and deaths, or the grocer's credit list. Oblivion has swallowed them
and the testimony that they ever existed at all is vague and shadowy,
and inadmissible in a court of law. Yet I have it upon the best
authority that for a brief space Mr. In and Mr. Out lived, breathed,
answered to their names and radiated vivid personalities of their own.
During the brief span of their lives they walked in their native
garments down the great highway of a great nation; were laughed at,
sworn at, chased, and fled from. Then they passed and were heard of no
They were already taking form dimly, when a taxi cab with the top open
breezed down Broadway in the faintest glimmer of May dawn. In this car
sat the souls of Mr. In and Mr. Out discussing with amazement the blue
light that had so precipitately colored the sky behind the statue of
Christopher Columbus, discussing with bewilderment the old, gray faces
of the early risers which skimmed palely along the street like blown
bits of paper on a gray lake. They were agreed on all things, from the
absurdity of the bouncer in Childs' to the absurdity of the business
of life. They were dizzy with the extreme maudlin happiness that the
morning had awakened in their glowing souls. Indeed, so fresh and
vigorous was their pleasure in living that they felt it should be
expressed by loud cries.
"Ye-ow-ow!" hooted Peter, making a megaphone with his hands--and Dean
joined in with a call that, though equally significant and symbolic,
derived its resonance from its very inarticulateness.
"Yo-ho! Yea! Yoho! Yo-buba!"
Fifty-third Street was a bus with a dark, bobbed-hair beauty atop;
Fifty-second was a street cleaner who dodged, escaped, and sent up a
yell of, "Look where you're aimin'!" in a pained and grieved voice. At
Fiftieth Street a group of men on a very white sidewalk in front of a
very white building turned to stare after them, and shouted:
"Some party, boys!"
At Forty-ninth Street Peter turned to Dean. "Beautiful morning," he
said gravely, squinting up his owlish eyes.
"Go get some breakfast, hey?"
Dean agreed--with additions.
"Breakfast and liquor."
"Breakfast and liquor," repeated Peter, and they looked at each other,
nodding. "That's logical,"
Then they both burst into loud laughter.
"Breakfast and liquor! Oh, gosh!"
"No such thing," announced Peter.
"Don't serve it? Ne'mind. We force 'em serve it Bring pressure bear."
"Bring logic bear."
The taxi cut suddenly off Broadway, sailed along a cross street, and
stopped in front of a heavy tomb-like building in Fifth Avenue.
The taxi-driver informed them that this was Delmonico's.
This was somewhat puzzling. They were forced to devote several minutes
to intense concentration, for if such an order had been given there
must have been a reason for it.
"Somep'm 'bouta coat," suggested the taxi-man.
That was it. Peter's overcoat and hat. He had left them at
Delmonico's. Having decided this, they disembarked from the taxi and
strolled toward the entrance arm in arm.
"Hey!" said the taxi-driver.
"You better pay me."
They shook their heads in shocked negation.
"Later, not now--we give orders, you wait."
The taxi-driver objected; he wanted his money now. With the scornful
condescension of men exercising tremendous self-control they paid him.
Inside Peter groped in vain through a dim, deserted check-room in
search of his coat and derby.
"Gone, I guess. Somebody stole it."
"Some Sheff student."
"Never mind," said Dean, nobly. "I'll leave mine here too--then we'll
both be dressed the same."
He removed his overcoat and hat and was hanging them up when his
roving glance was caught and held magnetically by two large squares of
cardboard tacked to the two coat-room doors. The one on the left-hand
door bore the word "In" in big black letters, and the one on the
right-hand door flaunted the equally emphatic word "Out."
"Look!" he exclaimed happily---
Peter's eyes followed his pointing finger.
"Look at the signs. Let's take 'em."
"Probably pair very rare an' valuable signs. Probably come in handy."
Peter removed the left-hand sign from the door and endeavored to
conceal it about his person. The sign being of considerable
proportions, this was a matter of some difficulty. An idea flung
itself at him, and with an air of dignified mystery he turned his
back. After an instant he wheeled dramatically around, and stretching
out his arms displayed himself to the admiring Dean. He had inserted
the sign in his vest, completely covering his shirt front. In effect,
the word "In" had been painted upon his shirt in large black letters.
"Yoho!" cheered Dean. "Mister In."
He inserted his own sign in like manner.
"Mister Out!" he announced triumphantly. "Mr. In meet Mr. Out."
They advanced and shook hands. Again laughter overcame them and they
rocked in a shaken spasm of mirth.
"We probably get a flock of breakfast."
"We'll go--go to the Commodore."
Arm in arm they sallied out the door, and turning east in Forty-fourth
Street set out for the Commodore.
As they came out a short dark soldier, very pale and tired, who had
been wandering listlessly along the sidewalk, turned to look at them.
He started over as though to address them, but as they immediately
bent on him glances of withering unrecognition, he waited until they
had started unsteadily down the street, and then followed at about
forty paces, chuckling to himself and saying, "Oh, boy!" over and over
under his breath, in delighted, anticipatory tones.
Mr. In and Mr. Out were meanwhile exchanging pleasantries concerning
their future plans.
"We want liquor; we want breakfast. Neither without the other. One and
"We want both 'em!"
It was quite light now, and passers-by began to bend curious eyes on
the pair. Obviously they were engaged in a discussion, which afforded
each of them intense amusement, for occasionally a fit of laughter
would seize upon them so violently that, still with their arms
interlocked, they would bend nearly double.
Reaching the Commodore, they exchanged a few spicy epigrams with the
sleepy-eyed doorman, navigated the revolving door with some
difficulty, and then made their way through a thinly populated but
startled lobby to the dining-room, where a puzzled waiter showed them
an obscure table in a corner. They studied the bill of fare
helplessly, telling over the items to each other in puzzled mumbles.
"Don't see any liquor here," said Peter reproachfully.
The waiter became audible but unintelligible.
"Repeat," continued Peter, with patient tolerance, "that there seems
to be unexplained and quite distasteful lack of liquor upon bill of
"Here!" said Dean confidently, "let me handle him." He turned to the
waiter--"Bring us--bring us--" he scanned the bill of fare anxiously.
"Bring us a quart of champagne and a--a--probably ham sandwich."
The waiter looked doubtful.
"Bring it!" roared Mr. In and Mr. Out in chorus.
The waiter coughed and disappeared. There was a short wait during
which they were subjected without their knowledge to a careful
scrutiny by the head-waiter. Then the champagne arrived, and at the
sight of it Mr. In and Mr. Out became jubilant.
"Imagine their objecting to us having, champagne for breakfast--jus'
They both concentrated upon the vision of such an awesome possibility,
but the feat was too much for them. It was impossible for their joint
imaginations to conjure up a world where any one might object any one
else having champagne for breakfast. The waiter drew the cork with an
enormous _pop_ and their glasses immediately foamed with pale
"Here's health, Mr. In."
"Here's same to you, Mr. Out."
The waiter withdrew; the minutes passed; the champagne became low in
"It's--it's mortifying," said Dean suddenly.
"The idea their objecting us having champagne breakfast."
"Mortifying?" Peter considered. "Yes, tha's word--mortifying."
Again they collapsed into laughter, howled, swayed, rocked back and
forth in their chairs, repeating the word "mortifying" over and over
to each other--each repetition seeming to make it only more
After a few more gorgeous minutes they decided on another quart. Their
anxious waiter consulted his immediate superior, and this discreet
person gave implicit instructions that no more champagne should be
served. Their check was brought.
Five minutes later, arm in arm, they left the Commodore and made their
way through a curious, staring crowd along Forty-second Street, and up
Vanderbilt Avenue to the Biltmore. There, with sudden cunning, they
rose to the occasion and traversed the lobby, walking fast and
standing unnaturally erect.
Once in the dining-room they repeated their performance. They were
torn between intermittent convulsive laughter and sudden spasmodic
discussions of politics, college, and the sunny state of their
dispositions. Their watches told them that it was now nine o'clock,
and a dim idea was born in them that they were on a memorable party,
something that they would remember always. They lingered over the
second bottle. Either of them had only to mention the word
"mortifying" to send them both into riotous gasps. The dining-room was
whirring and shifting now; a curious lightness permeated and rarefied
the heavy air.
They paid their check and walked out into the lobby.
It was at this moment that the exterior doors revolved for the
thousandth time that morning, and admitted into the lobby a very pale
young beauty with dark circles under her eyes, attired in a
much-rumpled evening dress. She was accompanied by a plain stout man,
obviously not an appropriate escort.
At the top of the stairs this couple encountered Mr. In and Mr. Out.
"Edith," began Mr. In, stepping toward her hilariously and making a
sweeping bow, "darling, good morning."
The stout man glanced questioningly at Edith, as if merely asking her
permission to throw this man summarily out of the way.
"'Scuse familiarity," added Peter, as an afterthought. "Edith,
He seized Dean's elbow and impelled him into the foreground.
"Meet Mr. In, Edith, my bes' frien'. Inseparable. Mr. In and Mr. Out."
Mr. Out advanced and bowed; in fact, he advanced so far and bowed so
low that he tipped slightly forward and only kept his balance by
placing a hand lightly on Edith's shoulder.
"I'm Mr. Out, Edith," he mumbled pleasantly. "S'misterin Misterout."
"'Smisterinanout," said Peter proudly.
But Edith stared straight by them, her eyes fixed on some infinite
speck in the gallery above her. She nodded slightly to the stout man,
who advanced bull-like and with a sturdy brisk gesture pushed Mr. In
and Mr. Out to either side. Through this alley he and Edith walked.
But ten paces farther on Edith stopped again--stopped and pointed to a
short, dark soldier who was eying the crowd in general, and the
tableau of Mr. In and Mr. Out in particular, with a sort of puzzled,
"There," cried Edith. "See there!"
Her voice rose, became somewhat shrill. Her pointing finger shook
"There's the soldier who broke my brother's leg."
There were a dozen exclamations; a man in a cutaway coat left his
place near the desk and advanced alertly; the stout person made a sort
of lightning-like spring toward the short, dark soldier, and then the
lobby closed around the little group and blotted them from the sight
of Mr. In and Mr. Out.
But to Mr. In and Mr. Out this event was merely a particolored
iridescent segment of a whirring, spinning world.
They heard loud voices; they saw the stout man spring; the picture
Then they were in an elevator bound skyward.
"What floor, please?" said the elevator man.
"Any floor," said Mr. In.
"Top floor," said Mr. Out.
"This is the top floor," said the elevator man.
"Have another floor put on," said Mr. Out.
"Higher," said Mr. In.
"Heaven," said Mr. Out.
In a bedroom of a small hotel just off Sixth Avenue Gordon Sterrett
awoke with a pain in the back of his head and a sick throbbing in all
his veins. He looked at the dusky gray shadows in the corners of the
room and at a raw place on a large leather chair in the corner where
it had long been in use. He saw clothes, dishevelled, rumpled clothes
on the floor and he smelt stale cigarette smoke and stale liquor. The
windows were tight shut. Outside the bright sunlight had thrown a
dust-filled beam across the sill--a beam broken by the head of the
wide wooden bed in which he had slept. He lay very quiet--comatose,
drugged, his eyes wide, his mind clicking wildly like an unoiled
It must have been thirty seconds after he perceived the sunbeam with
the dust on it and the rip on the large leather chair that he had the
sense of life close beside him, and it was another thirty seconds
after that before that he realized that he was irrevocably married to
He went out half an hour later and bought a revolver at a sporting
goods store. Then he took a took a taxi to the room where he had been
living on East Twenty-seventh Street, and, leaning across the table
that held his drawing materials, fired a cartridge into his head just
behind the temple.
PORCELAIN AND PINK
_room in the down-stairs of a summer cottage. High around the wall
runs an art frieze of a fisherman with a pile of nets at his feet and
a ship on a crimson ocean, a fisherman with a pile of nets at his feet
and a ship on a crimson ocean, a fisherman with a pile of nets at his
feet and so on. In one place on the frieze there is an overlapping--here
we have half a fisherman with half a pile of nets at his foot,
crowded damply against half a ship on half a crimson ocean.
The frieze is not in the plot, but frankly it fascinates me. I could
continue indefinitely, but I am distracted by one of the two objects
in the room--a blue porcelain bath-tub. It has character, this
bath-tub. It is not one of the new racing bodies, but is small with a
high tonneau and looks as if it were going to jump; discouraged,
however, by the shortness of its legs, it has submitted to its
environment and to its coat of sky-blue paint. But it grumpily refuses
to allow any patron completely to stretch his legs--which brings us
neatly to the second object in the room:_
_is a girl--clearly an appendage to the bath-tub, only her head and
throat--beautiful girls have throats instead of necks--and a
suggestion of shoulder appearing above the side. For the first ten
minutes of the play the audience is engrossed in wondering if she
really is playing the game fairly and hasn't any clothes on or whether
it is being cheated and she is dressed._
_The girl's name is_ JULIE MARVIS. _From the proud way she sits
up in the bath-tub we deduce that she is not very tall and that she
carries herself well. When she smiles, her upper tip rolls a little
and reminds you of an Easter Bunny, She is within whispering distance
of twenty years old._
_One thing more--above and to the right of the bath-tub is a window.
It is narrow and has a wide sill; it lets in much sunshine, but
effectually prevents any one who looks in from seeing the bath-tub.
You begin to suspect the plot?_
_We open, conventionally enough, with a song, but, as the startled
gasp of the audience quite drowns out the first half, we will give
only the last of it:_
JULIE: (_In an airy sophrano--enthusiastico_)
When Caesar did the Chicago
He was a graceful child,
Those sacred chickens
Just raised the dickens
The Vestal Virgins went wild.
Whenever the Nervii got nervy
He gave them an awful razz
They shook is their shoes
With the Consular blues
The Imperial Roman Jazz
(_During the wild applause that follows_ JULIE _modestly moves
her arms and makes waves on the surface of the water--at least we
suppose she does. Then the door on the left opens and_ LOIS MARVIS
_enters, dressed but carrying garments and towels._ LOIS _is a
year older than_ JULIE _and is nearly her double in face and
voice, but in her clothes and expression are the marks of the
conservative. Yes, you've guessed it. Mistaken identity is the old
rusty pivot upon which the plot turns._)
LOIS: (_Starting_) Oh, 'scuse me. I didn't know you were here.
JULIE: Oh, hello. I'm giving a little concert--
LOIS: (_Interrupting_) Why didn't you lock the door?
JULIE: Didn't I?
LOIS: Of course you didn't. Do you think I just walked through it?
JULIE: I thought you picked the lock, dearest.
LOIS: You're _so_ careless.
JULIE: No. I'm happy as a garbage-man's dog and I'm giving a little
LOIS: (_Severely_) Grow up!
JULIE: (_Waving a pink arm around the room_) The walls reflect
the sound, you see. That's why there's something very beautiful about
singing in a bath-tub. It gives an effect of surpassing loveliness.
Can I render you a selection?
LOIS: I wish you'd hurry out of the tub.
JULIE: (_Shaking her head thoughtfully_) Can't be hurried. This
is my kingdom at present, Godliness.
LOIS: Why the mellow name?
JULIE: Because you're next to Cleanliness. Don't throw anything
LOIS: How long will you be?
JULIE: (_After some consideration_) Not less than fifteen nor
more than twenty-five minutes.
LOIS: As a favor to me will you make it ten?
JULIE: (_Reminiscing_) Oh, Godliness, do you remember a day in
the chill of last January when one Julie, famous for her Easter-rabbit
smile, was going out and there was scarcely any hot water and young
Julie had just filled the tub for her own little self when the wicked
sister came and did bathe herself therein, forcing the young Julie to
perform her ablutions with cold cream--which is expensive and a darn
lot of troubles?
LOIS: (_Impatiently_) Then you won't hurry?
JULIE: Why should I?
LOIS: I've got a date.
JULIE: Here at the house?
LOIS: None of your business.
(_JULIE shrugs the visible tips of her shoulders and stirs the water
JULIE: So be it.
LOIS: Oh, for Heaven's sake, yes! I have a date here, at the house--in
JULIE: In a way?
LOIS: He isn't coming in. He's calling for me and we're walking.
JULIE: (_Raising her eyebrows_) Oh, the plot clears. It's that
literary Mr. Calkins. I thought you promised mother you wouldn't
invite him in.
LOIS: (_Desperately_) She's so idiotic. She detests him because
he's just got a divorce. Of course she's had more expedience than I
JULIE: (_Wisely_) Don't let her kid you! Experience is the
biggest gold brick in the world. All older people have it for sale.
LOIS: I like him. We talk literature.
JULIE: Oh, so that's why I've noticed all these weighty, books around
the house lately.
LOIS: He lends them to me.
JULIE: Well, you've got to play his game. When in Rome do as the
Romans would like to do. But I'm through with books. I'm all educated.
LOIS: You're very inconsistent--last summer you read every day.
JULIE: If I were consistent I'd still be living on warm milk out of a
LOIS: Yes, and probably my bottle. But I like Mr. Calkins.
JULIE: I never met him.
LOIS: Well, will you hurry up?
JULIE: Yes. (_After a pause_) I wait till the water gets tepid
and then I let in more hot.
LOIS: (_Sarcastically_) How interesting!
JULIE: 'Member when we used to play "soapo"?
LOIS: Yes--and ten years old. I'm really quite surprised that you
don't play it still.
JULIE: I do. I'm going to in a minute.
LOIS: Silly game.
JULIE: (_Warmly_) No, it isn't. It's good for the nerves. I'll
bet you've forgotten how to play it.
LOIS: (_Defiantly_) No, I haven't. You--you get the tub all full
of soapsuds and then you get up on the edge and slide down.
JULIE: (_Shaking her head scornfully_) Huh! That's only part of
it. You've got to slide down without touching your hand or feet--
LOIS:(_Impatiently_) Oh, Lord! What do I care? I wish we'd either
stop coming here in the summer or else get a house with two bath-tubs.
JULIE: You can buy yourself a little tin one, or use the hose-----
LOIS: Oh, shut up!
JULIE: (_Irrelevantly_) Leave the towel.
JULIE: Leave the towel when you go.
LOIS: This towel?
JULIE: (_Sweetly_) Yes, I forgot my towel.
LOIS: (_Looking around for the first time_) Why, you idiot! You
haven't even a kimono.
JULIE: (_Also looking around_) Why, so I haven't.
LOIS: (_Suspicion growing on her_) How did you get here?
JULIE: (_Laughing_) I guess I--I guess I whisked here. You know--a
white form whisking down the stairs and--
LOIS: (_Scandalized_) Why, you little wretch. Haven't you any
pride or self-respect?
JULIE: Lots of both. I think that proves it. I looked very well. I
really am rather cute in my natural state.
LOIS: Well, you--
JULIE: (_Thinking aloud_) I wish people didn't wear any clothes.
I guess I ought to have been a pagan or a native or something.
LOIS: You're a--
JULIE: I dreamt last night that one Sunday in church a small boy
brought in a magnet that attracted cloth. He attracted the clothes
right off of everybody; put them in an awful state; people were crying
and shrieking and carrying on as if they'd just discovered their skins
for the first time. Only _I_ didn't care. So I just laughed. I
had to pass the collection plate because nobody else would.
LOIS: (_Who has turned a deaf ear to this speech_) Do you mean to
tell me that if I hadn't come you'd have run back to your
JULIE: _Au naturel_ is so much nicer.
LOIS: Suppose there had been some one in the living-room.
JULIE: There never has been yet.
LOIS: Yet! Good grief! How long--
JULIE: Besides, I usually have a towel.
LOIS: (_Completely overcome_) Golly! You ought to be spanked. I
hope, you get caught. I hope there's a dozen ministers in the
living-room when you come out--and their wives, and their daughters.
JULIE: There wouldn't be room for them in the living-room, answered
Clean Kate of the Laundry District.
LOIS: All right. You've made your own--bath-tub; you can lie in it.
(_LOIS starts determinedly for the door._)
JULIE: (_In alarm_) Hey! Hey! I don't care about the k'mono, but
I want the towel. I can't dry myself on a piece of soap and a wet
LOIS: (_Obstinately_). I won't humor such a creature. You'll have
to dry yourself the best way you can. You can roll on the floor like
the animals do that don't wear any clothes.
JULIE: (_Complacent again_) All right. Get out!
LOIS: (_Haughtily_) Huh!
(JULIE _turns on the cold water and with her finger directs a
parabolic stream at LOIS. LOIS retires quickly, slamming the door
after her. JULIE laughs and turns off the water_)
When the Arrow-collar man
Meets the D'jer-kiss girl
On the smokeless Sante Fé
Her Pebeco smile
Her Lucile style
De dum da-de-dum one day--
(_She changes to a whistle and leans forward to turn on the taps,
but is startled by three loud banging noises in the pipes. Silence for
a moment--then she puts her mouth down near the spigot as if it were a
JULIE: Hello! (_No answer_) Are you a plumber? (_No answer_)
Are you the water department? (_One loud, hollow bang_) What do
you want? (_No answer_) I believe you're a ghost. Are you? (_No
answer_) Well, then, stop banging. (_She reaches out and turns on
the warm tap. No water flows. Again she puts her mouth down close to
the spigot_) If you're the plumber that's a mean trick. Turn it on
for a fellow. (_Two loud, hollow bangs_) Don't argue! I want
(_A young man's head appears in the window--a head decorated with a
slim mustache and sympathetic eyes. These last stare, and though they
can see nothing but many fishermen with nets and much crimson ocean,
they decide him to speak_)
THE YOUNG MAN: Some one fainted?
JULIE: (_Starting up, all ears immediately_) Jumping cats!
THE YOUNG MAN: (_Helpfully_) Water's no good for fits.
JULIE: Fits! Who said anything about fits!
THE YOUNG MAN: You said something about a cat jumping
JULIE: (_Decidedly_) I did not!
THE YOUNG MAN: Well, we can talk it over later, Are you ready to go
out? Or do you still feel that if you go with me just now everybody
JULIE: (_Smiling_) Gossip! Would they? It'd be more than
gossip--it'd be a regular scandal.
THE YOUNG MAN: Here, you're going it a little strong. Your family
might be somewhat disgruntled--but to the pure all things are
suggestive. No one else would even give it a thought, except a few old
women. Come on.
JULIE: You don't know what you ask.
THE YOUNG MAN: Do you imagine we'd have a crowd following us?
JULIE: A crowd? There'd be a special, all-steel, buffet train leaving
New York hourly.
THE YOUNG MAN: Say, are you house-cleaning?
THE YOUNG MAN: I see all the pictures are off the walls.
JULIE: Why, we never have pictures in this room.
THE YOUNG MAN: Odd, I never heard of a room without pictures or
tapestry or panelling or something.
JULIE: There's not even any furniture in here.
THE YOUNG MAN: What a strange house!
JULIE: It depend on the angle you see it from.
THE YOUNG MAN: (_Sentimentally_) It's so nice talking to you like
this--when you're merely a voice. I'm rather glad I can't see you.
JULIE; (_Gratefully_) So am I.
THE YOUNG MAN: What color are you wearing?
JULIE: (_After a critical survey of her shoulders_) Why, I guess
it's a sort of pinkish white.
THE YOUNG MAN: Is it becoming to you?
JULIE: Very. It's--it's old. I've had it for a long while.
THE YOUNG MAN: I thought you hated old clothes.
JULIE: I do but this was a birthday present and I sort of have to wear
THE YOUNG MAN: Pinkish-white. Well I'll bet it's divine. Is it in
JULIE: Quite. It's very simple, standard model.
THE YOUNG MAN: What a voice you have! How it echoes! Sometimes I shut
my eyes and seem to see you in a far desert island calling for me. And
I plunge toward you through the surf, hearing you call as you stand
there, water stretching on both sides of you--
(_The soap slips from the side of the tub and splashes in. The young
YOUNG MAN: What was that? Did I dream it?
JULIE: Yes. You're--you're very poetic, aren't you?
THE YOUNG MAN: (_Dreamily_) No. I do prose. I do verse only when
I am stirred.
JULIE: (_Murmuring_) Stirred by a spoon--
THE YOUNG MAN: I have always loved poetry. I can remember to this day
the first poem I ever learned by heart. It was "Evangeline."
JULIE: That's a fib.
THE YOUNG MAN: Did I say "Evangeline"? I meant "The Skeleton in
JULIE: I'm a low-brow. But I can remember my first poem. It had one
Parker and Davis
Sittin' on a fence
Tryne to make a dollar
Outa fif-teen cents.
THE YOUNG MAN: (_Eagerly_) Are you growing fond of literature?
JULIE: If it's not too ancient or complicated or depressing. Same way
with people. I usually like 'em not too ancient or complicated or
THE YOUNG MAN: Of course I've read enormously. You told me last night
that you were very fond of Walter Scott.
JULIE: (_Considering_) Scott? Let's see. Yes, I've read "Ivanhoe"
and "The Last of the Mohicans."
THE YOUNG MAN: That's by Cooper.
JULIE: (_Angrily_) "Ivanhoe" is? You're crazy! I guess I know. I
read it. THE YOUNG MAN: "The Last of the Mohicans" is by Cooper.
JULIE: What do I care! I like O. Henry. I don't see how he ever wrote
those stories. Most of them he wrote in prison. "The Ballad of Reading
Gaol" he made up in prison.
THE YOUNG MAN: (_Biting his lip_) Literature--literature! How
much it has meant to me!
JULIE: Well, as Gaby Deslys said to Mr. Bergson, with my looks and
your brains there's nothing we couldn't do.
THE YOUNG MAN: (_Laughing_) You certainly are hard to keep up
with. One day you're awfully pleasant and the next you're in a mood.
If I didn't understand your temperament so well--
JULIE: (_Impatiently_) Oh, you're one of these amateur
character-readers, are you? Size people up in five minutes and then
look wise whenever they're mentioned. I hate that sort of thing.
THE YOUNG MAN: I don't boast of sizing you up. You're most mysterious,
JULIE: There's only two mysterious people in history.
THE YOUNG MAN: Who are they?
JULIE: The Man with the Iron Mask and the fella who says "ug uh-glug
uh-glug uh-glug" when the line is busy.
THE YOUNG MAN: You _are_ mysterious, I love you. You're
beautiful, intelligent, and virtuous, and that's the rarest known
JULIE: You're a historian. Tell me if there are any bath-tubs in
history. I think they've been frightfully neglected.
THE YOUNG MAN: Bath-tubs! Let's see. Well, Agamemnon was stabbed in
his bath-tub. And Charlotte Corday stabbed Marat in his bath-tub.
JULIE: (_Sighing_) Way back there! Nothing new besides the sun,
is there? Why only yesterday I picked up a musical-comedy score that
mast have been at least twenty years old; and there on the cover it
said "The Shimmies of Normandy," but shimmie was spelt the old way,
with a "C."
THE YOUNG MAN: I loathe these modern dances. Oh, Lois, I wish I could
see you. Come to the window.
(_There is a loud bang in the water-pipe and suddenly the flow
starts from the open taps. Julie turns them off quickly_)
THE YOUNG MAN: (_Puzzled_) What on earth was that?
JULIE: (_Ingeniously_) I heard something, too.
THE YOUNG MAN: Sounded like running water.
JULIE: Didn't it? Strange like it. As a matter of fact I was filling
the gold-fish bowl.
THE YOUNG MAN: (_Still puzzled_) What was that banging noise?
JULIE: One of the fish snapping his golden jaws.
THE YOUNG MAN: (_With sudden resolution_) Lois, I love you. I am
not a mundane man but I am a forger---
JULIE: (_Interested at once_) Oh, how fascinating.
THE YOUNG MAN:--a forger ahead. Lois, I want you.
JULIE: (_Skeptically_) Huh! What you really want is for the world
to come to attention and stand there till you give "Rest!"
THE YOUNG MAN: Lois I--Lois I--
(_He stops as Lois opens the door, comes in, and bangs it behind
her. She looks peevishly at _JULIE _and then suddenly catches
sight of the young man in the window_)
LOIS: (_In horror_) Mr. Calkins!
THE YOUNG MAN: (_Surprised_) Why I thought you said you were
wearing pinkish white!
(_After one despairing stare _LOIS _ shrieks, throws up her
hands in surrender, and sinks to the floor._)
THE YOUNG MAN: (_In great alarm_) Good Lord! She's fainted! I'll
be right in.
(JULIE'S _eyes light on the towel which has slipped from_ LOIS'S
JULIE: In that case I'll be right out.
(_She puts her hands on the side of the tub to lift herself out and
a murmur, half gasp, half sigh, ripples from the audience.
A Belasco midnight comes guickly down and blots out the stage._)
THE DIAMOND AS BIG AS THE RITZ
John T. Unger came from a family that had been well known in Hades--a
small town on the Mississippi River--for several generations. John's
father had held the amateur golf championship through many a heated
contest; Mrs. Unger was known "from hot-box to hot-bed," as the local
phrase went, for her political addresses; and young John T. Unger, who
had just turned sixteen, had danced all the latest dances from New
York before he put on long trousers. And now, for a certain time, he
was to be away from home. That respect for a New England education
which is the bane of all provincial places, which drains them yearly
of their most promising young men, had seized upon his parents.
Nothing would suit them but that he should go to St. Midas's School
near Boston--Hades was too small to hold their darling and gifted son.
Now in Hades--as you know if you ever have been there--the names of
the more fashionable preparatory schools and colleges mean very
little. The inhabitants have been so long out of the world that,
though they make a show of keeping up-to-date in dress and manners and
literature, they depend to a great extent on hearsay, and a function
that in Hades would be considered elaborate would doubtless be hailed
by a Chicago beef-princess as "perhaps a little tacky."
John T. Unger was on the eve of departure. Mrs. Unger, with maternal
fatuity, packed his trunks full of linen suits and electric fans, and
Mr. Unger presented his son with an asbestos pocket-book stuffed with
"Remember, you are always welcome here," he said. "You can be sure,
boy, that we'll keep the home fires burning."
"I know," answered John huskily.
"Don't forget who you are and where you come from," continued his
father proudly, "and you can do nothing to harm you. You are an
So the old man and the young shook hands, and John walked away with
tears streaming from his eyes. Ten minutes later he had passed outside
the city limits and he stopped to glance back for the last time. Over
the gates the old-fashioned Victorian motto seemed strangely
attractive to him. His father had tried time and time again to have it
changed to something with a little more push and verve about it, such
as "Hades--Your Opportunity," or else a plain "Welcome" sign set over
a hearty handshake pricked out in electric lights. The old motto was a
little depressing, Mr. Unger had thought--but now ....
So John took his look and then set his face resolutely toward his
destination. And, as he turned away, the lights of Hades against the
sky seemed full of a warm and passionate beauty.
* * * * *
St. Midas's School is half an hour from Boston in a Rolls-Pierce
motor-car. The actual distance will never be known, for no one, except
John T. Unger, had ever arrived there save in a Rolls-Pierce and
probably no one ever will again. St. Midas's is the most expensive and
the most exclusive boys' preparatory school in the world.
John's first two years there passed pleasantly. The fathers of all the
boys were money-kings, and John spent his summer visiting at
fashionable resorts. While he was very fond of all the boys he
visited, their fathers struck him as being much of a piece, and in his
boyish way he often wondered at their exceeding sameness. When he told
them where his home was they would ask jovially, "Pretty hot down
there?" and John would muster a faint smile and answer, "It certainly
is." His response would have been heartier had they not all made this
joke--at best varying it with, "Is it hot enough for you down there?"
which he hated just as much.
In the middle of his second year at school, a quiet, handsome boy
named Percy Washington had been put in John's form. The new-comer was
pleasant in his manner and exceedingly well dressed even for St.
Midas's, but for some reason he kept aloof from the other boys. The
only person with whom he was intimate was John T. Unger, but even to
John he was entirely uncommunicative concerning his home or his
family. That he was wealthy went without saying, but beyond a few such
deductions John knew little of his friend, so it promised rich
confectionery for his curiosity when Percy invited him to spend the
summer at his home "in the West." He accepted, without hesitation.
It was only when they were in the train that Percy became, for the
first time, rather communicative. One day while they were eating lunch
in the dining-car and discussing the imperfect characters of several
of the boys at school, Percy suddenly changed his tone and made an
"My father," he said, "is by far the richest man in the world."
"Oh," said John politely. He could think of no answer to make to this
confidence. He considered "That's very nice," but it sounded hollow
and was on the point of saying, "Really?" but refrained since it would
seem to question Percy's statement. And such an astounding statement
could scarcely be questioned.
"By far the richest," repeated Percy.
"I was reading in the _World Almanac_," began John, "that there
was one man in America with an income of over five million a years and
four men with incomes of over three million a year, and---"
"Oh, they're nothing." Percy's mouth was a half-moon of scorn.
"Catch-penny capitalists, financial small-fry, petty merchants and
money-lenders. My father could buy them out and not know he'd done
"But how does he---"
"Why haven't they put down _his_ income-tax? Because he doesn't
pay any. At least he pays a little one--but he doesn't pay any on his
"He must be very rich," said John simply, "I'm glad. I like very rich
"The richer a fella is, the better I like him." There was a look of
passionate frankness upon his dark face. "I visited the
Schnlitzer-Murphys last Easter. Vivian Schnlitzer-Murphy had rubies as
big as hen's eggs, and sapphires that were like globes with lights
"I love jewels," agreed Percy enthusiastically. "Of course I wouldn't
want any one at school to know about it, but I've got quite a
collection myself. I used to collect them instead of stamps."
"And diamonds," continued John eagerly. "The Schnlitzer-Murphys had
diamonds as big as walnuts---"
"That's nothing." Percy had leaned forward and dropped his voice to a
low whisper. "That's nothing at all. My father has a diamond bigger
than the Ritz-Carlton Hotel."
The Montana sunset lay between two mountains like a gigantic bruise
from which dark arteries spread themselves over a poisoned sky. An
immense distance under the sky crouched the village of Fish, minute,
dismal, and forgotten. There were twelve men, so it was said, in the
village of Fish, twelve sombre and inexplicable souls who sucked a
lean milk from the almost literally bare rock upon which a mysterious
populatory force had begotten them. They had become a race apart,
these twelve men of Fish, like some species developed by an early whim
of nature, which on second thought had abandoned them to struggle and
Out of the blue-black bruise in the distance crept a long line of
moving lights upon the desolation of the land, and the twelve men of
Fish gathered like ghosts at the shanty depot to watch the passing of
the seven o'clock train, the Transcontinental Express from Chicago.
Six times or so a year the Transcontinental Express, through some
inconceivable jurisdiction, stopped at the village of Fish, and when
this occurred a figure or so would disembark, mount into a buggy that
always appeared from out of the dusk, and drive off toward the bruised
sunset. The observation of this pointless and preposterous phenomenon
had become a sort of cult among the men of Fish. To observe, that was
all; there remained in them none of the vital quality of illusion
which would make them wonder or speculate, else a religion might have
grown up around these mysterious visitations. But the men of Fish were
beyond all religion--the barest and most savage tenets of even
Christianity could gain no foothold on that barren rock--so there was
no altar, no priest, no sacrifice; only each night at seven the silent
concourse by the shanty depot, a congregation who lifted up a prayer
of dim, anaemic wonder.
On this June night, the Great Brakeman, whom, had they deified any
one, they might well have chosen as their celestial protagonist, had
ordained that the seven o'clock train should leave its human (or
inhuman) deposit at Fish. At two minutes after seven Percy Washington
and John T. Unger disembarked, hurried past the spellbound, the agape,
the fearsome eyes of the twelve men of Fish, mounted into a buggy
which had obviously appeared from nowhere, and drove away.
After half an hour, when the twilight had coagulated into dark, the
silent negro who was driving the buggy hailed an opaque body somewhere
ahead of them in the gloom. In response to his cry, it turned upon
them a luminous disc which regarded them like a malignant eye out of
the unfathomable night. As they came closer, John saw that it was the
tail-light of an immense automobile, larger and more magnificent than
any he had ever seen. Its body was of gleaming metal richer than
nickel and lighter than silver, and the hubs of the wheels were
studded with iridescent geometric figures of green and yellow--John
did not dare to guess whether they were glass or jewel.
Two negroes, dressed in glittering livery such as one sees in pictures
of royal processions in London, were standing at attention beside the
car and, as the two young men dismounted from the buggy, they were
greeted in some language which the guest could not understand, but
which seemed to be an extreme form of the Southern negro's dialect.
"Get in," said Percy to his friend, as their trunks were tossed to the
ebony roof of the limousine. "Sorry we had to bring you this far in
that buggy, but of course it wouldn't do for the people on the train
or those God-forsaken fellas in Fish to see this automobile."
"Gosh! What a car!" This ejaculation was provoked by its interior.
John saw that the upholstery consisted of a thousand minute and
exquisite tapestries of silk, woven with jewels and embroideries, and
set upon a background of cloth of gold. The two armchair seats in
which the boys luxuriated were covered with stuff that resembled
duvetyn, but seemed woven in numberless colours of the ends of ostrich
"What a car!" cried John again, in amazement.
"This thing?" Percy laughed. "Why, it's just an old junk we use for a
By this time they were gliding along through the darkness toward the
break between the two mountains.
"We'll be there in an hour and a half," said Percy, looking at the
clock. "I may as well tell you it's not going to be like anything you
ever saw before."
If the car was any indication of what John would see, he was prepared
to be astonished indeed. The simple piety prevalent in Hades has the
earnest worship of and respect for riches as the first article of its
creed--had John felt otherwise than radiantly humble before them, his
parents would have turned away in horror at the blasphemy.
They had now reached and were entering the break between the two
mountains and almost immediately the way became much rougher.
"If the moon shone down here, you'd see that we're in a big gulch,"
said Percy, trying to peer out of the window. He spoke a few words
into the mouthpiece and immediately the footman turned on a
searchlight and swept the hillsides with an immense beam.
"Rocky, you see. An ordinary car would be knocked to pieces in half an
hour. In fact, it'd take a tank to navigate it unless you knew the
way. You notice we're going uphill now."
They were obviously ascending, and within a few minutes the car was
crossing a high rise, where they caught a glimpse of a pale moon newly
risen in the distance. The car stopped suddenly and several figures
took shape out of the dark beside it--these were negroes also. Again
the two young men were saluted in the same dimly recognisable dialect;
then the negroes set to work and four immense cables dangling from
overhead were attached with hooks to the hubs of the great jewelled
wheels. At a resounding "Hey-yah!" John felt the car being lifted
slowly from the ground--up and up--clear of the tallest rocks on both
sides--then higher, until he could see a wavy, moonlit valley
stretched out before him in sharp contrast to the quagmire of rocks
that they had just left. Only on one side was there still rock--and
then suddenly there was no rock beside them or anywhere around.
It was apparent that they had surmounted some immense knife-blade of
stone, projecting perpendicularly into the air. In a moment they were
going down again, and finally with a soft bump they were landed upon
the smooth earth.
"The worst is over," said Percy, squinting out the window. "It's only
five miles from here, and our own road--tapestry brick--all the way.
This belongs to us. This is where the United States ends, father
"Are we in Canada?"
"We are not. We're in the middle of the Montana Rockies. But you are
now on the only five square miles of land in the country that's never
"Why hasn't it? Did they forget it?"
"No," said Percy, grinning, "they tried to do it three times. The
first time my grandfather corrupted a whole department of the State
survey; the second time he had the official maps of the United States
tinkered with--that held them for fifteen years. The last time was
harder. My father fixed it so that their compasses were in the
strongest magnetic field ever artificially set up. He had a whole set
of surveying instruments made with a slight defection that would allow
for this territory not to appear, and he substituted them for the ones
that were to be used. Then he had a river deflected and he had what
looked like a village up on its banks--so that they'd see it, and
think it was a town ten miles farther up the valley. There's only one
thing my father's afraid of," he concluded, "only one thing in the
world that could be used to find us out."
Percy sank his voice to a whisper.
"Aeroplanes," he breathed. "We've got half a dozen anti-aircraft guns
and we've arranged it so far--but there've been a few deaths and a
great many prisoners. Not that we mind _that_, you know, father
and I, but it upsets mother and the girls, and there's always the
chance that some time we won't be able to arrange it."
Shreds and tatters of chinchilla, courtesy clouds in the green moon's
heaven, were passing the green moon like precious Eastern stuffs
paraded for the inspection of some Tartar Khan. It seemed to John that
it was day, and that he was looking at some lads sailing above him in
the air, showering down tracts and patent medicine circulars, with
their messages of hope for despairing, rock-bound hamlets. It seemed
to him that he could see them look down out of the clouds and
stare--and stare at whatever there was to stare at in this place
whither he was bound--What then? Were they induced to land by some
insidious device to be immured far from patent medicines and from
tracts until the judgment day--or, should they fail to fall into the
trap, did a quick puff of smoke and the sharp round of a splitting
shell bring them drooping to earth--and "upset" Percy's mother and
sisters. John shook his head and the wraith of a hollow laugh issued
silently from his parted lips. What desperate transaction lay hidden
here? What a moral expedient of a bizarre Croesus? What terrible and
The chinchilla clouds had drifted past now and, outside the Montana
night was bright as day the tapestry brick of the road was smooth to
the tread of the great tyres as they rounded a still, moonlit lake;
they passed into darkness for a moment, a pine grove, pungent and
cool, then they came out into a broad avenue of lawn, and John's
exclamation of pleasure was simultaneous with Percy's taciturn "We're
Full in the light of the stars, an exquisite château rose from the
borders of the lake, climbed in marble radiance half the height of an
adjoining mountain, then melted in grace, in perfect symmetry, in
translucent feminine languor, into the massed darkness of a forest of
pine. The many towers, the slender tracery of the sloping parapets,
the chiselled wonder of a thousand yellow windows with their oblongs
and hectagons and triangles of golden light, the shattered softness of
the intersecting planes of star-shine and blue shade, all trembled on
John's spirit like a chord of music. On one of the towers, the
tallest, the blackest at its base, an arrangement of exterior lights
at the top made a sort of floating fairyland--and as John gazed up in
warm enchantment the faint acciaccare sound of violins drifted down in
a rococo harmony that was like nothing he had ever beard before. Then
in a moment the car stepped before wide, high marble steps around
which the night air was fragrant with a host of flowers. At the top of
the steps two great doors swung silently open and amber light flooded
out upon the darkness, silhouetting the figure of an exquisite lady
with black, high-piled hair, who held out her arms toward them.
"Mother," Percy was saying, "this is my friend, John Unger, from
Afterward John remembered that first night as a daze of many colours,
of quick sensory impressions, of music soft as a voice in love, and of
the beauty of things, lights and shadows, and motions and faces. There
was a white-haired man who stood drinking a many-hued cordial from a
crystal thimble set on a golden stem. There was a girl with a flowery
face, dressed like Titania with braided sapphires in her hair. There
was a room where the solid, soft gold of the walls yielded to the
pressure of his hand, and a room that was like a platonic conception
of the ultimate prison--ceiling, floor, and all, it was lined with an
unbroken mass of diamonds, diamonds of every size and shape, until,
lit with tail violet lamps in the corners, it dazzled the eyes with a
whiteness that could be compared only with itself, beyond human wish,
Through a maze of these rooms the two boys wandered. Sometimes the
floor under their feet would flame in brilliant patterns from lighting
below, patterns of barbaric clashing colours, of pastel delicacy, of
sheer whiteness, or of subtle and intricate mosaic, surely from some
mosque on the Adriatic Sea. Sometimes beneath layers of thick crystal
he would see blue or green water swirling, inhabited by vivid fish and
growths of rainbow foliage. Then they would be treading on furs of
every texture and colour or along corridors of palest ivory, unbroken
as though carved complete from the gigantic tusks of dinosaurs extinct
before the age of man ....
Then a hazily remembered transition, and they were at dinner--where
each plate was of two almost imperceptible layers of solid diamond
between which was curiously worked a filigree of emerald design, a
shaving sliced from green air. Music, plangent and unobtrusive,
drifted down through far corridors--his chair, feathered and curved
insidiously to his back, seemed to engulf and overpower him as he
drank his first glass of port. He tried drowsily to answer a question