Part 8 out of 8
turned to slush and was being escorted to the gutters by the hoses of
the street-cleaning department. The wind, none the less bitter for being
casual, whipped in through the open windows of the living room bearing
with it the dismal secrets of the areaway and clearing the Patch
apartment of stale smoke in its cheerless circulation.
Gloria, wrapped in a warm kimona, came into the chilly room and taking
up the telephone receiver called Joseph Bloeckman.
"Do you mean Mr. Joseph _Black_?" demanded the telephone girl at "Films
"Bloeckman, Joseph Bloeckman. B-l-o--"
"Mr. Joseph Bloeckman has changed his name to Black. Do you want him?"
"Why--yes." She remembered nervously that she had once called him
"Blockhead" to his face.
His office was reached by courtesy of two additional female voices; the
last was a secretary who took her name. Only with the flow through the
transmitter of his own familiar but faintly impersonal tone did she
realize that it had been three years since they had met. And he had
changed his name to Black.
"Can you see me?" she suggested lightly. "It's on a business matter,
really. I'm going into the movies at last--if I can."
"I'm awfully glad. I've always thought you'd like it."
"Do you think you can get me a trial?" she demanded with the arrogance
peculiar to all beautiful women, to all women who have ever at any time
considered themselves beautiful.
He assured her that it was merely a question of when she wanted the
trial. Any time? Well, he'd phone later in the day and let her know a
convenient hour. The conversation closed with conventional padding on
both sides. Then from three o'clock to five she sat close to the
telephone--with no result.
But next morning came a note that contented and excited her:
* * * * *
_My dear Gloria:_
_Just by luck a matter came to my attention that I think will be just
suited to you. I would like to see you start with something that would
bring you notice. At the same time if a very beautiful girl of your sort
is put directly into a picture next to one of the rather shop-worn stars
with which every company is afflicted, tongues would very likely wag.
But there is a "flapper" part in a Percy B. Debris production that I
think would be just suited to you and would bring you notice. Willa
Sable plays opposite Gaston Mears in a sort of character part and your
part I believe would be her younger sister._
_Anyway Percy B. Debris who is directing the picture says if you'll come
to the studios day after to-morrow (Thursday) he will run off a test. If
ten o'clock is suited to you I will meet you there at that time._
_With all good wishes_
* * * * *
Gloria had decided that Anthony was to know nothing of this until she
had obtained a definite position, and accordingly she was dressed and
out of the apartment next morning before he awoke. Her mirror had given
her, she thought, much the same account as ever. She wondered if there
were any lingering traces of her sickness. She was still slightly under
weight, and she had fancied, a few days before, that her cheeks were a
trifle thinner--but she felt that those were merely transitory
conditions and that on this particular day she looked as fresh as ever.
She had bought and charged a new hat, and as the day was warm she had
left the leopard skin coat at home.
At the "Films Par Excellence" studios she was announced over the
telephone and told that Mr. Black would be down directly. She looked
around her. Two girls were being shown about by a little fat man in a
slash-pocket coat, and one of them had indicated a stack of thin
parcels, piled breast-high against the wall, and extending along for
"That's studio mail," explained the fat man. "Pictures of the stars who
are with 'Films Par Excellence.'"
"Each one's autographed by Florence Kelley or Gaston Mears or Mack
Dodge--" He winked confidentially. "At least when Minnie McGlook out in
Sauk Center gets the picture she wrote for, she _thinks_ it's
"Just a stamp?"
"Sure. It'd take 'em a good eight-hour day to autograph half of 'em.
They say Mary Pickford's studio mail costs her fifty thousand a year."
"Sure. Fifty thousand. But it's the best kinda advertising there is--"
They drifted out of earshot and almost immediately Bloeckman
appeared--Bloeckman, a dark suave gentleman, gracefully engaged in the
middle forties, who greeted her with courteous warmth and told her she
had not changed a bit in three years. He led the way into a great hall,
as large as an armory and broken intermittently with busy sets and
blinding rows of unfamiliar light. Each piece of scenery was marked in
large white letters "Gaston Mears Company," "Mack Dodge Company," or
simply "Films Par Excellence."
"Ever been in a studio before?"
She liked it. There was no heavy closeness of greasepaint, no scent of
soiled and tawdry costumes which years before had revolted her behind
the scenes of a musical comedy. This work was done in the clean
mornings; the appurtenances seemed rich and gorgeous and new. On a set
that was joyous with Manchu hangings a perfect Chinaman was going
through a scene according to megaphone directions as the great
glittering machine ground out its ancient moral tale for the edification
of the national mind.
A red-headed man approached them and spoke with familiar deference to
Bloeckman, who answered:
"Hello, Debris. Want you to meet Mrs. Patch.... Mrs. Patch wants to go
into pictures, as I explained to you.... All right, now, where do
Mr. Debris--the great Percy B. Debris, thought Gloria--showed them to a
set which represented the interior of an office. Some chairs were drawn
up around the camera, which stood in front of it, and the three of
them sat down.
"Ever been in a studio before?" asked Mr. Debris, giving her a glance
that was surely the quintessence of keenness. "No? Well, I'll explain
exactly what's going to happen. We're going to take what we call a test
in order to see how your features photograph and whether you've got
natural stage presence and how you respond to coaching. There's no need
to be nervous over it. I'll just have the camera-man take a few hundred
feet in an episode I've got marked here in the scenario. We can tell
pretty much what we want to from that."
He produced a typewritten continuity and explained to her the episode
she was to enact. It developed that one Barbara Wainwright had been
secretly married to the junior partner of the firm whose office was
there represented. Entering the deserted office one day by accident she
was naturally interested in seeing where her husband worked. The
telephone rang and after some hesitation she answered it. She learned
that her husband had been struck by an automobile and instantly killed.
She was overcome. At first she was unable to realize the truth, but
finally she succeeded in comprehending it, and went into a dead faint on
"Now that's all we want," concluded Mr. Debris. "I'm going to stand here
and tell you approximately what to do, and you're to act as though I
wasn't here, and just go on do it your own way. You needn't be afraid
we're going to judge this too severely. We simply want to get a general
idea of your screen personality."
"You'll find make-up in the room in back of the set. Go light on it.
Very little red."
"I see," repeated Gloria, nodding. She touched her lips nervously with
the tip of her tongue.
As she came into the set through the real wooden door and closed it
carefully behind her, she found herself inconveniently dissatisfied with
her clothes. She should have bought a "misses'" dress for the
occasion--she could still wear them, and it might have been a good
investment if it had accentuated her airy youth.
Her mind snapped sharply into the momentous present as Mr. Debris's
voice came from the glare of the white lights in front.
"You look around for your husband.... Now--you don't see him ... you're
curious about the office...."
She became conscious of the regular sound of the camera. It worried her.
She glanced toward it involuntarily and wondered if she had made up her
face correctly. Then, with a definite effort she forced herself to
act--and she had never felt that the gestures of her body were so banal,
so awkward, so bereft of grace or distinction. She strolled around the
office, picking up articles here and there and looking at them inanely.
Then she scrutinized the ceiling, the floor, and thoroughly inspected an
inconsequential lead pencil on the desk. Finally, because she could
think of nothing else to do, and less than nothing to express, she
forced a smile.
"All right. Now the phone rings. Ting-a-ling-a-ling! Hesitate, and then
She hesitated--and then, too quickly, she thought, picked up the
Her voice was hollow and unreal. The words rang in the empty set like
the ineffectualities of a ghost. The absurdities of their requirements
appalled her--Did they expect that on an instant's notice she could put
herself in the place of this preposterous and unexplained character?
"... No ... no.... Not yet! Now listen: 'John Sumner has just been
knocked over by an automobile and instantly killed!'"
Gloria let her baby mouth drop slowly open. Then:
"Now hang up! With a bang!"
She obeyed, clung to the table with her eyes wide and staring. At length
she was feeling slightly encouraged and her confidence increased.
"My God!" she cried. Her voice was good, she thought. "Oh, my God!"
She collapsed forward to her knees and throwing her body outward on the
ground lay without breathing.
"All right!" called Mr. Debris. "That's enough, thank you. That's
plenty. Get up--that's enough."
Gloria arose, mustering her dignity and brushing off her skirt.
"Awful!" she remarked with a cool laugh, though her heart was bumping
tumultuously. "Terrible, wasn't it?"
"Did you mind it?" said Mr. Debris, smiling blandly. "Did it seem hard?
I can't tell anything about it until I have it run off."
"Of course not," she agreed, trying to attach some sort of meaning to
his remark--and failing. It was just the sort of thing he would have
said had he been trying not to encourage her.
A few moments later she left the studio. Bloeckman had promised that she
should hear the result of the test within the next few days. Too proud
to force any definite comment she felt a baffling uncertainty and only
now when the step had at last been taken did she realize how the
possibility of a successful screen career had played in the back of her
mind for the past three years. That night she tried to tell over to
herself the elements that might decide for or against her. Whether or
not she had used enough make-up worried her, and as the part was that of
a girl of twenty, she wondered if she had not been just a little too
grave. About her acting she was least of all satisfied. Her entrance had
been abominable--in fact not until she reached the phone had she
displayed a shred of poise--and then the test had been over. If they had
only realized! She wished that she could try it again. A mad plan to
call up in the morning and ask for a new trial took possession of her,
and as suddenly faded. It seemed neither politic nor polite to ask
another favor of Bloeckman.
The third day of waiting found her in a highly nervous condition. She
had bitten the insides of her mouth until they were raw and smarting,
and burnt unbearably when she washed them with listerine. She had
quarrelled so persistently with Anthony that he had left the apartment
in a cold fury. But because he was intimidated by her exceptional
frigidity, he called up an hour afterward, apologized and said he was
having dinner at the Amsterdam Club, the only one in which he still
It was after one o'clock and she had breakfasted at eleven, so, deciding
to forego luncheon, she started for a walk in the Park. At three there
would be a mail. She would be back by three.
It was an afternoon of premature spring. Water was drying on the walks
and in the Park little girls were gravely wheeling white doll-buggies up
and down under the thin trees while behind them followed bored
nursery-maids in two's, discussing with each other those tremendous
secrets that are peculiar to nursery-maids.
Two o'clock by her little gold watch. She should have a new watch, one
made in a platinum oblong and incrusted with diamonds--but those cost
even more than squirrel coats and of course they were out of her reach
now, like everything else--unless perhaps the right letter was awaiting
her ... in about an hour ... fifty-eight minutes exactly. Ten to get
there left forty-eight ... forty-seven now ...
Little girls soberly wheeling their buggies along the damp sunny walks.
The nursery-maids chattering in pairs about their inscrutable secrets.
Here and there a raggedy man seated upon newspapers spread on a drying
bench, related not to the radiant and delightful afternoon but to the
dirty snow that slept exhausted in obscure corners, waiting for
Ages later, coming into the dim hall she saw the Martinique elevator boy
standing incongruously in the light of the stained-glass window.
"Is there any mail for us?" she asked.
The switchboard squawked abominably and Gloria waited while he
ministered to the telephone. She sickened as the elevator groaned its
way up--the floors passed like the slow lapse of centuries, each one
ominous, accusing, significant. The letter, a white leprous spot, lay
upon the dirty tiles of the hall....
* * * * *
_My dear Gloria:_
_We had the test run off yesterday afternoon, and Mr. Debris seemed to
think that for the part he had in mind he needed a younger woman. He
said that the acting was not bad, and that there was a small character
part supposed to be a very haughty rich widow that he thought
* * * * *
Desolately Gloria raised her glance until it fell out across the
areaway. But she found she could not see the opposite wall, for her gray
eyes were full of tears. She walked into the bedroom, the letter
crinkled tightly in her hand, and sank down upon her knees before the
long mirror on the wardrobe floor. This was her twenty-ninth birthday,
and the world was melting away before her eyes. She tried to think that
it had been the make-up, but her emotions were too profound, too
overwhelming for any consolation that the thought conveyed.
She strained to see until she could feel the flesh on her temples pull
forward. Yes--the cheeks were ever so faintly thin, the corners of the
eyes were lined with tiny wrinkles. The eyes were different. Why, they
were different! ... And then suddenly she knew how tired her eyes were.
"Oh, my pretty face," she whispered, passionately grieving. "Oh, my
pretty face! Oh, I don't want to live without my pretty face! Oh, what's
Then she slid toward the mirror and, as in the test, sprawled face
downward upon the floor--and lay there sobbing. It was the first awkward
movement she had ever made.
Within another year Anthony and Gloria had become like players who had
lost their costumes, lacking the pride to continue on the note of
tragedy--so that when Mrs. and Miss Hulme of Kansas City cut them dead
in the Plaza one evening, it was only that Mrs. and Miss Hulme, like
most people, abominated mirrors of their atavistic selves.
Their new apartment, for which they paid eighty-five dollars a month,
was situated on Claremont Avenue, which is two blocks from the Hudson in
the dim hundreds. They had lived there a month when Muriel Kane came to
see them late one afternoon.
It was a reproachless twilight on the summer side of spring. Anthony lay
upon the lounge looking up One Hundred and Twenty-seventh Street toward
the river, near which he could just see a single patch of vivid green
trees that guaranteed the brummagem umbrageousness of Riverside Drive.
Across the water were the Palisades, crowned by the ugly framework of
the amusement park--yet soon it would be dusk and those same iron
cobwebs would be a glory against the heavens, an enchanted palace set
over the smooth radiance of a tropical canal.
The streets near the apartment, Anthony had found, were streets where
children played--streets a little nicer than those he had been used to
pass on his way to Marietta, but of the same general sort, with an
occasional hand organ or hurdy-gurdy, and in the cool of the evening
many pairs of young girls walking down to the corner drug-store for ice
cream soda and dreaming unlimited dreams under the low heavens.
Dusk in the streets now, and children playing, shouting up incoherent
ecstatic words that faded out close to the open window--and Muriel, who
had come to find Gloria, chattering to him from an opaque gloom over
across the room.
"Light the lamp, why don't we?" she suggested. "It's getting _ghostly_
With a tired movement he arose and obeyed; the gray window-panes
vanished. He stretched himself. He was heavier now, his stomach was a
limp weight against his belt; his flesh had softened and expanded. He
was thirty-two and his mind was a bleak and disordered wreck.
"Have a little drink, Muriel?"
"Not me, thanks. I don't use it anymore. What're you doing these days,
Anthony?" she asked curiously.
"Well, I've been pretty busy with this lawsuit," he answered
indifferently. "It's gone to the Court of Appeals--ought to be settled
up one way or another by autumn. There's been some objection as to
whether the Court of Appeals has jurisdiction over the matter."
Muriel made a clicking sound with her tongue and cocked her head on one
"Well, you tell'em! I never heard of anything taking so long."
"Oh, they all do," he replied listlessly; "all will cases. They say it's
exceptional to have one settled under four or five years."
"Oh ..." Muriel daringly changed her tack, "why don't you go to work,
"At what?" he demanded abruptly.
"Why, at anything, I suppose. You're still a young man."
"If that's encouragement, I'm much obliged," he answered dryly--and then
with sudden weariness: "Does it bother you particularly that I don't
want to work?"
"It doesn't bother me--but, it does bother a lot of people who claim--"
"Oh, God!" he said brokenly, "it seems to me that for three years I've
heard nothing about myself but wild stories and virtuous admonitions.
I'm tired of it. If you don't want to see us, let us alone. I don't
bother my former friends.' But I need no charity calls, and no criticism
disguised as good advice--" Then he added apologetically: "I'm
sorry--but really, Muriel, you mustn't talk like a lady slum-worker even
if you are visiting the lower middle classes." He turned his bloodshot
eyes on her reproachfully--eyes that had once been a deep, clear blue,
that were weak now, strained, and half-ruined from reading when he
"Why do you say such awful things?" she protested. You talk as if you
and Gloria were in the middle classes."
"Why pretend we're not? I hate people who claim to be great aristocrats
when they can't even keep up the appearances of it."
"Do you think a person has to have money to be aristocratic?"
Muriel ... the horrified democrat ...!
"Why, of course. Aristocracy's only an admission that certain traits
which we call fine--courage and honor and beauty and all that sort of
thing--can best be developed in a favorable environment, where you don't
have the warpings of ignorance and necessity."
Muriel bit her lower lip and waved her head from side to side.
"Well, all _I_ say is that if a person comes from a good family they're
always nice people. That's the trouble with you and Gloria. You think
that just because things aren't going your way right now all your old
friends are trying to avoid you. You're too sensitive--"
"As a matter of fact," said Anthony, "you know nothing at all about it.
With me it's simply a matter of pride, and for once Gloria's reasonable
enough to agree that we oughtn't go where we're not wanted. And people
don't want us. We're too much the ideal bad examples."
"Nonsense! You can't park your pessimism in my little sun parlor. I
think you ought to forget all those morbid speculations and go to work."
"Here I am, thirty-two. Suppose I did start in at some idiotic business.
Perhaps in two years I might rise to fifty dollars a week--with luck.
That's _if_ I could get a job at all; there's an awful lot of
unemployment. Well, suppose I made fifty a week. Do you think I'd be any
happier? Do you think that if I don't get this money of my grandfather's
life will be _endurable?_"
Muriel smiled complacently.
"Well," she said, "that may be clever but it isn't common sense."
A few minutes later Gloria came in seeming to bring with her into the
room some dark color, indeterminate and rare. In a taciturn way she was
happy to see Muriel. She greeted Anthony with a casual "Hi!"
"I've been talking philosophy with your husband," cried the
irrepressible Miss Kane.
"We took up some fundamental concepts," said Anthony, a faint smile
disturbing his pale cheeks, paler still under two days' growth of beard.
Oblivious to his irony Muriel rehashed her contention. When she had
done, Gloria said quietly:
"Anthony's right. It's no fun to go around when you have the sense that
people are looking at you in a certain way."
He broke in plaintively:
"Don't you think that when even Maury Noble, who was my best friend,
won't come to see us it's high time to stop calling people up?" Tears
were standing in his eyes.
"That was your fault about Maury Noble," said Gloria coolly.
"It most certainly was."
Muriel intervened quickly:
"I met a girl who knew Maury, the other day, and she says he doesn't
drink any more. He's getting pretty cagey."
"Practically not at all. He's making _piles_ of money. He's sort of
changed since the war. He's going to marry a girl in Philadelphia who
has millions, Ceci Larrabee--anyhow, that's what Town Tattle said."
"He's thirty-three," said Anthony, thinking aloud. But it's odd to
imagine his getting married. I used to think he was so brilliant."
"He was," murmured Gloria, "in a way."
"But brilliant people don't settle down in business--or do they? Or what
do they do? Or what becomes of everybody you used to know and have so
much in common with?"
"You drift apart," suggested Muriel with the appropriate dreamy look.
"They change," said Gloria. "All the qualities that they don't use in
their daily lives get cobwebbed up."
"The last thing he said to me," recollected Anthony, "was that he was
going to work so as to forget that there was nothing worth working for."
Muriel caught at this quickly.
"That's what _you_ ought to do," she exclaimed triumphantly. "Of course
I shouldn't think anybody would want to work for nothing. But it'd give
you something to do. What do you do with yourselves, anyway? Nobody ever
sees you at Montmartre or--or anywhere. Are you economizing?"
Gloria laughed scornfully, glancing at Anthony from the corners of her
"Well," he demanded, "what are you laughing at?" "You know what I'm
laughing at," she answered coldly.
"At that case of whiskey?"
"Yes"--she turned to Muriel--"he paid seventy-five dollars for a case of
"What if I did? It's cheaper that way than if you get it by the bottle.
You needn't pretend that you won't drink any of it."
"At least I don't drink in the daytime."
"That's a fine distinction!" he cried, springing to his feet in a weak
rage. "What's more, I'll be damned if you can hurl that at me every
"It is _not!_ And I'm getting sick of this eternal business of
criticising me before visitors!" He had worked himself up to such a
state that his arms and shoulders were visibly trembling. "You'd think
everything was my fault. You'd think you hadn't encouraged me to spend
money--and spent a lot more on yourself than I ever did by a long shot."
Now Gloria rose to her feet.
"I _won't_ let you talk to me that way!"
"All right, then; by Heaven, you don't have to!"
In a sort of rush he left the room. The two women heard his steps in the
hall and then the front door banged. Gloria sank back into her chair.
Her face was lovely in the lamplight, composed, inscrutable.
"Oh--!" cried Muriel in distress. "Oh, what _is_ the matter?"
"Nothing particularly. He's just drunk."
"Drunk? Why, he's perfectly sober. He talked----"
Gloria shook her head.
"Oh, no, he doesn't show it any more unless he can hardly stand up, and
he talks all right until he gets excited. He talks much better than he
does when he's sober. But he's been sitting here all day
drinking--except for the time it took him to walk to the corner for a
"Oh, how terrible!" Muriel was sincerely moved. Her eyes filled with
tears. "Has this happened much?"
"Drinking, you mean?"
"No, this--leaving you?"
"Oh, yes. Frequently. He'll come in about midnight--and weep and ask me
to forgive him."
"And do you?"
"I don't know. We just go on."
The two women sat there in the lamplight and looked at each other, each
in a different way helpless before this thing. Gloria was still pretty,
as pretty as she would ever be again--her cheeks were flushed and she
was wearing a new dress that she had bought--imprudently--for fifty
dollars. She had hoped she could persuade Anthony to take her out
to-night, to a restaurant or even to one of the great, gorgeous moving
picture palaces where there would be a few people to look at her, at
whom she could bear to look in turn. She wanted this because she knew
her cheeks were flushed and because her dress was new and becomingly
fragile. Only very occasionally, now, did they receive any invitations.
But she did not tell these things to Muriel.
"Gloria, dear, I wish we could have dinner together, but I promised a
man and it's seven-thirty already. I've got to _tear_."
"Oh, I couldn't, anyway. In the first place I've been ill all day. I
couldn't eat a thing."
After she had walked with Muriel to the door, Gloria came back into the
room, turned out the lamp, and leaning her elbows on the window sill
looked out at Palisades Park, where the brilliant revolving circle of
the Ferris wheel was like a trembling mirror catching the yellow
reflection of the moon. The street was quiet now; the children had gone
in--over the way she could see a family at dinner. Pointlessly,
ridiculously, they rose and walked about the table; seen thus, all that
they did appeared incongruous--it was as though they were being jiggled
carelessly and to no purpose by invisible overhead wires.
She looked at her watch--it was eight o'clock. She had been pleased for
a part of the day--the early afternoon--in walking along that Broadway
of Harlem, One Hundred and Twenty-fifth Street, with her nostrils alert
to many odors, and her mind excited by the extraordinary beauty of some
Italian children. It affected her curiously--as Fifth Avenue had
affected her once, in the days when, with the placid confidence of
beauty, she had known that it was all hers, every shop and all it held,
every adult toy glittering in a window, all hers for the asking. Here on
One Hundred and Twenty-fifth Street there were Salvation Army bands and
spectrum-shawled old ladies on door-steps and sugary, sticky candy in
the grimy hands of shiny-haired children--and the late sun striking down
on the sides of the tall tenements. All very rich and racy and savory,
like a dish by a provident French chef that one could not help enjoying,
even though one knew that the ingredients were probably left-overs....
Gloria shuddered suddenly as a river siren came moaning over the dusky
roofs, and leaning back in till the ghostly curtains fell from her
shoulder, she turned on the electric lamp. It was growing late. She knew
there was some change in her purse, and she considered whether she would
go down and have some coffee and rolls where the liberated subway made a
roaring cave of Manhattan Street or eat the devilled ham and bread in
the kitchen. Her purse decided for her. It contained a nickel and
After an hour the silence of the room had grown unbearable, and she
found that her eyes were wandering from her magazine to the ceiling,
toward which she stared without thought. Suddenly she stood up,
hesitated for a moment, biting at her finger--then she went to the
pantry, took down a bottle of whiskey from the shelf and poured herself
a drink. She filled up the glass with ginger ale, and returning to her
chair finished an article in the magazine. It concerned the last
revolutionary widow, who, when a young girl, had married an ancient
veteran of the Continental Army and who had died in 1906. It seemed
strange and oddly romantic to Gloria that she and this woman had been
She turned a page and learned that a candidate for Congress was being
accused of atheism by an opponent. Gloria's surprise vanished when she
found that the charges were false. The candidate had merely denied the
miracle of the loaves and fishes. He admitted, under pressure, that he
gave full credence to the stroll upon the water.
Finishing her first drink, Gloria got herself a second. After slipping
on a negligée and making herself comfortable on the lounge, she became
conscious that she was miserable and that the tears were rolling down
her cheeks. She wondered if they were tears of self-pity, and tried
resolutely not to cry, but this existence without hope, without
happiness, oppressed her, and she kept shaking her head from side to
side, her mouth drawn down tremulously in the corners, as though she
were denying an assertion made by some one, somewhere. She did not know
that this gesture of hers was years older than history, that, for a
hundred generations of men, intolerable and persistent grief has offered
that gesture, of denial, of protest, of bewilderment, to something more
profound, more powerful than the God made in the image of man, and
before which that God, did he exist, would be equally impotent. It is a
truth set at the heart of tragedy that this force never explains, never
answers--this force intangible as air, more definite than death.
Early in the summer Anthony resigned from his last club, the Amsterdam.
He had come to visit it hardly twice a year, and the dues were a
recurrent burden. He had joined it on his return from Italy because it
had been his grandfather's club and his father's, and because it was a
club that, given the opportunity, one indisputably joined--but as a
matter of fact he had preferred the Harvard Club, largely because of
Dick and Maury. However, with the decline of his fortunes, it had seemed
an increasingly desirable bauble to cling to.... It was relinquished at
the last, with some regret....
His companions numbered now a curious dozen. Several of them he had met
in a place called "Sammy's," on Forty-third Street, where, if one
knocked on the door and were favorably passed on from behind a grating,
one could sit around a great round table drinking fairly good whiskey.
It was here that he encountered a man named Parker Allison, who had been
exactly the wrong sort of rounder at Harvard, and who was running
through a large "yeast" fortune as rapidly as possible. Parker Allison's
notion of distinction consisted in driving a noisy red-and-yellow
racing-car up Broadway with two glittering, hard-eyed girls beside him.
He was the sort who dined with two girls rather than with one--his
imagination was almost incapable of sustaining a dialogue.
Besides Allison there was Pete Lytell, who wore a gray derby on the side
of his head. He always had money and he was customarily cheerful, so
Anthony held aimless, long-winded conversation with him through many
afternoons of the summer and fall. Lytell, he found, not only talked but
reasoned in phrases. His philosophy was a series of them, assimilated
here and there through an active, thoughtless life. He had phrases about
Socialism--the immemorial ones; he had phrases pertaining to the
existence of a personal deity--something about one time when he had been
in a railroad accident; and he had phrases about the Irish problem, the
sort of woman he respected, and the futility of prohibition. The only
time his conversation ever rose superior to these muddled clauses, with
which he interpreted the most rococo happenings in a life that had been
more than usually eventful, was when he got down to the detailed
discussion of his most animal existence: he knew, to a subtlety, the
foods, the liquor, and the women that he preferred.
He was at once the commonest and the most remarkable product of
civilization. He was nine out of ten people that one passes on a city
street--and he was a hairless ape with two dozen tricks. He was the hero
of a thousand romances of life and art--and he was a virtual moron,
performing staidly yet absurdly a series of complicated and infinitely
astounding epics over a span of threescore years.
With such men as these two Anthony Patch drank and discussed and drank
and argued. He liked them because they knew nothing about him, because
they lived in the obvious and had not the faintest conception of the
inevitable continuity of life. They sat not before a motion picture with
consecutive reels, but at a musty old-fashioned travelogue with all
values stark and hence all implications confused. Yet they themselves
were not confused, because there was nothing in them to be
confused--they changed phrases from month to month as they
Anthony, the courteous, the subtle, the perspicacious, was drunk each
day--in Sammy's with these men, in the apartment over a book, some book
he knew, and, very rarely, with Gloria, who, in his eyes, had begun to
develop the unmistakable outlines of a quarrelsome and unreasonable
woman. She was not the Gloria of old, certainly--the Gloria who, had she
been sick, would have preferred to inflict misery upon every one around
her, rather than confess that she needed sympathy or assistance. She was
not above whining now; she was not above being sorry for herself. Each
night when she prepared for bed she smeared her face with some new
unguent which she hoped illogically would give back the glow and
freshness to her vanishing beauty. When Anthony was drunk he taunted her
about this. When he was sober he was polite to her, on occasions even
tender; he seemed to show for short hours a trace of that old quality of
understanding too well to blame--that quality which was the best of him
and had worked swiftly and ceaselessly toward his ruin.
But he hated to be sober. It made him conscious of the people around
him, of that air of struggle, of greedy ambition, of hope more sordid
than despair, of incessant passage up or down, which in every metropolis
is most in evidence through the unstable middle class. Unable to live
with the rich he thought that his next choice would have been to live
with the very poor. Anything was better than this cup of perspiration
The sense of the enormous panorama of life, never strong in Anthony, had
become dim almost to extinction. At long intervals now some incident,
some gesture of Gloria's, would take his fancy--but the gray veils had
come down in earnest upon him. As he grew older those things
faded--after that there was wine.
There was a kindliness about intoxication--there was that indescribable
gloss and glamour it gave, like the memories of ephemeral and faded
evenings. After a few high-balls there was magic in the tall glowing
Arabian night of the Bush Terminal Building--its summit a peak of sheer
grandeur, gold and dreaming against the inaccessible sky. And Wall
Street, the crass, the banal--again it was the triumph of gold, a
gorgeous sentient spectacle; it was where the great kings kept the money
for their wars....
... The fruit of youth or of the grape, the transitory magic of the
brief passage from darkness to darkness--the old illusion that truth and
beauty were in some way entwined.
As he stood in front of Delmonico's lighting a cigarette one night he
saw two hansoms drawn up close to the curb, waiting for a chance drunken
fare. The outmoded cabs were worn and dirty--the cracked patent leather
wrinkled like an old man's face, the cushions faded to a brownish
lavender; the very horses were ancient and weary, and so were the
white-haired men who sat aloft, cracking their whips with a grotesque
affectation of gallantry. A relic of vanished gaiety!
Anthony Patch walked away in a sudden fit of depression, pondering the
bitterness of such survivals. There was nothing, it seemed, that grew
stale so soon as pleasure.
On Forty-second Street one afternoon he met Richard Caramel for the
first time in many months, a prosperous, fattening Richard Caramel,
whose face was filling out to match the Bostonian brow.
"Just got in this week from the coast. Was going to call you up, but I
didn't know your new address."
Richard Caramel noticed that Anthony was wearing a soiled shirt, that
his cuffs were slightly but perceptibly frayed, that his eyes were set
in half-moons the color of cigar smoke.
"So I gathered," he said, fixing his friend with his bright-yellow eye.
"But where and how is Gloria? My God, Anthony, I've been hearing the
dog-gonedest stories about you two even out in California--and when I
get back to New York I find you've sunk absolutely out of sight. Why
don't you pull yourself together?"
"Now, listen," chattered Anthony unsteadily, "I can't stand a long
lecture. We've lost money in a dozen ways, and naturally people have
talked--on account of the lawsuit, but the thing's coming to a final
decision this winter, surely--"
"You're talking so fast that I can't understand you," interrupted Dick
"Well, I've said all I'm going to say," snapped Anthony. "Come and see
us if you like--or don't!"
With this he turned and started to walk off in the crowd, but Dick
overtook him immediately and grasped his arm.
"Say, Anthony, don't fly off the handle so easily! You know Gloria's my
cousin, and you're one of my oldest friends, so it's natural for me to
be interested when I hear that you're going to the dogs--and taking her
"I don't want to be preached to."
"Well, then, all right--How about coming up to my apartment and having a
drink? I've just got settled. I've bought three cases of Gordon gin from
a revenue officer."
As they walked along he continued in a burst of exasperation:
"And how about your grandfather's money--you going to get it?"
"Well," answered Anthony resentfully, "that old fool Haight seems
hopeful, especially because people are tired of reformers right now--you
know it might make a slight difference, for instance, if some judge
thought that Adam Patch made it harder for him to get liquor."
"You can't do without money," said Dick sententiously. "Have you tried
to write any--lately?"
Anthony shook his head silently.
"That's funny," said Dick. "I always thought that you and Maury would
write some day, and now he's grown to be a sort of tight-fisted
aristocrat, and you're--"
"I'm the bad example."
"I wonder why?"
"You probably think you know," suggested Anthony, with an effort at
concentration. "The failure and the success both believe in their hearts
that they have accurately balanced points of view, the success because
he's succeeded, and the failure because he's failed. The successful man
tells his son to profit by his father's good fortune, and the failure
tells _his_ son to profit by his father's mistakes."
"I don't agree with you," said the author of "A Shave-tail in France."
"I used to listen to you and Maury when we were young, and I used to be
impressed because you were so consistently cynical, but now--well, after
all, by God, which of us three has taken to the--to the intellectual
life? I don't want to sound vainglorious, but--it's me, and I've always
believed that moral values existed, and I always will."
"Well," objected Anthony, who was rather enjoying himself, "even
granting that, you know that in practice life never presents problems as
clear cut, does it?"
"It does to me. There's nothing I'd violate certain principles for."
"But how do you know when you're violating them? You have to guess at
things just like most people do. You have to apportion the values when
you look back. You finish up the portrait then--paint in the details
Dick shook his head with a lofty stubbornness. "Same old futile cynic,"
he said. "It's just a mode of being sorry for yourself. You don't do
anything--so nothing matters."
"Oh, I'm quite capable of self-pity," admitted Anthony, "nor am I
claiming that I'm getting as much fun out of life as you are."
"You say--at least you used to--that happiness is the only thing worth
while in life. Do you think you're any happier for being a pessimist?"
Anthony grunted savagely. His pleasure in the conversation began to
wane. He was nervous and craving for a drink.
"My golly!" he cried, "where do you live? I can't keep walking forever."
"Your endurance is all mental, eh?" returned Dick sharply. "Well, I live
He turned in at the apartment house on Forty-ninth Street, and a few
minutes later they were in a large new room with an open fireplace and
four walls lined with books. A colored butler served them gin rickeys,
and an hour vanished politely with the mellow shortening of their drinks
and the glow of a light mid-autumn fire.
"The arts are very old," said Anthony after a while. With a few glasses
the tension of his nerves relaxed and he found that he could
"All of them. Poetry is dying first. It'll be absorbed into prose sooner
or later. For instance, the beautiful word, the colored and glittering
word, and the beautiful simile belong in prose now. To get attention
poetry has got to strain for the unusual word, the harsh, earthy word
that's never been beautiful before. Beauty, as the sum of several
beautiful parts, reached its apotheosis in Swinburne. It can't go any
further--except in the novel, perhaps."
Dick interrupted him impatiently:
"You know these new novels make me tired. My God! Everywhere I go some
silly girl asks me if I've read 'This Side of Paradise.' Are our girls
really like that? If it's true to life, which I don't believe, the next
generation is going to the dogs. I'm sick of all this shoddy realism. I
think there's a place for the romanticist in literature."
Anthony tried to remember what he had read lately of Richard Caramel's.
There was "A Shave-tail in France," a novel called "The Land of Strong
Men," and several dozen short stories, which were even worse. It had
become the custom among young and clever reviewers to mention Richard
Caramel with a smile of scorn. "Mr." Richard Caramel, they called him.
His corpse was dragged obscenely through every literary supplement. He
was accused of making a great fortune by writing trash for the movies.
As the fashion in books shifted he was becoming almost a byword
While Anthony was thinking this, Dick had got to his feet and seemed to
be hesitating at an avowal.
"I've gathered quite a few books," he said suddenly.
"So I see."
"I've made an exhaustive collection of good American stuff, old and new.
I don't mean the usual Longfellow-Whittier thing--in fact, most of
He stepped to one of the walls and, seeing that it was expected of him,
Anthony arose and followed.
Under a printed tag _Americana_ he displayed six long rows of books,
beautifully bound and, obviously, carefully chosen.
"And here are the contemporary novelists."
Then Anthony saw the joker. Wedged in between Mark Twain and Dreiser
were eight strange and inappropriate volumes, the works of Richard
Caramel--"The Demon Lover," true enough ... but also seven others that
were execrably awful, without sincerity or grace.
Unwillingly Anthony glanced at Dick's face and caught a slight
"I've put my own books in, of course," said Richard Caramel hastily,
"though one or two of them are uneven--I'm afraid I wrote a little too
fast when I had that magazine contract. But I don't believe in false
modesty. Of course some of the critics haven't paid so much attention to
me since I've been established--but, after all, it's not the critics
that count. They're just sheep."
For the first time in so long that he could scarcely remember, Anthony
felt a touch of the old pleasant contempt for his friend. Richard
"My publishers, you know, have been advertising me as the Thackeray of
America--because of my New York novel."
"Yes," Anthony managed to muster, "I suppose there's a good deal in what
He knew that his contempt was unreasonable. He, knew that he would have
changed places with Dick unhesitatingly. He himself had tried his best
to write with his tongue in his cheek. Ah, well, then--can a man
disparage his life-work so readily? ...
--And that night while Richard Caramel was hard at toil, with great
hittings of the wrong keys and screwings up of his weary, unmatched
eyes, laboring over his trash far into those cheerless hours when the
fire dies down, and the head is swimming from the effect of prolonged
concentration--Anthony, abominably drunk, was sprawled across the back
seat of a taxi on his way to the flat on Claremont Avenue.
As winter approached it seemed that a sort of madness seized upon
Anthony. He awoke in the morning so nervous that Gloria could feel him
trembling in the bed before he could muster enough vitality to stumble
into the pantry for a drink. He was intolerable now except under the
influence of liquor, and as he seemed to decay and coarsen under her
eyes, Gloria's soul and body shrank away from him; when he stayed out
all night, as he did several times, she not only failed to be sorry but
even felt a measure of relief. Next day he would be faintly repentant,
and would remark in a gruff, hang-dog fashion that he guessed he was
drinking a little too much.
For hours at a time he would sit in the great armchair that had been in
his apartment, lost in a sort of stupor--even his interest in reading
his favorite books seemed to have departed, and though an incessant
bickering went on between husband and wife, the one subject upon which
they ever really conversed was the progress of the will case. What
Gloria hoped in the tenebrous depths of her soul, what she expected that
great gift of money to bring about, is difficult to imagine. She was
being bent by her environment into a grotesque similitude of a
housewife. She who until three years before had never made coffee,
prepared sometimes three meals a day. She walked a great deal in the
afternoons, and in the evenings she read--books, magazines, anything she
found at hand. If now she wished for a child, even a child of the
Anthony who sought her bed blind drunk, she neither said so nor gave any
show or sign of interest in children. It is doubtful if she could have
made it clear to any one what it was she wanted, or indeed what there
was to want--a lonely, lovely woman, thirty now, retrenched behind some
impregnable inhibition born and coexistent with her beauty.
One afternoon when the snow was dirty again along Riverside Drive,
Gloria, who had been to the grocer's, entered the apartment to find
Anthony pacing the floor in a state of aggravated nervousness. The
feverish eyes he turned on her were traced with tiny pink lines that
reminded her of rivers on a map. For a moment she received the
impression that he was suddenly and definitely old.
"Have you any money?" he inquired of her precipitately.
"What? What do you mean?"
"Just what I said. Money! Money! Can't you speak English?"
She paid no attention but brushed by him and into the pantry to put the
bacon and eggs in the ice-box. When his drinking had been unusually
excessive he was invariably in a whining mood. This time he followed her
and, standing in the pantry door, persisted in his question.
"You heard what I said. Have you any money?"
She turned about from the ice-box and faced him.
"Why, Anthony, you must be crazy! You know I haven't any money--except a
dollar in change."
He executed an abrupt about-face and returned to the living room, where
he renewed his pacing. It was evident that he had something portentous
on his mind--he quite obviously wanted to be asked what was the matter.
Joining him a moment later she sat upon the long lounge and began taking
down her hair. It was no longer bobbed, and it had changed in the last
year from a rich gold dusted with red to an unresplendent light brown.
She had bought some shampoo soap and meant to wash it now; she had
considered putting a bottle of peroxide into the rinsing water.
"--Well?" she implied silently.
"That darn bank!" he quavered. "They've had my account for over ten
years--ten _years_. Well, it seems they've got some autocratic rule that
you have to keep over five hundred dollars there or they won't carry
you. They wrote me a letter a few months ago and told me I'd been
running too low. Once I gave out two bum checks--remember? that night in
Reisenweber's?--but I made them good the very next day. Well, I promised
old Halloran--he's the manager, the greedy Mick--that I'd watch out. And
I thought I was going all right; I kept up the stubs in my check-book
pretty regular. Well, I went in there to-day to cash a check, and
Halloran came up and told me they'd have to close my account. Too many
bad checks, he said, and I never had more than five hundred to my
credit--and that only for a day or so at a time. And by God! What do you
think he said then?"
"He said this was a good time to do it because I didn't have a damn
penny in there!"
"That's what he told me. Seems I'd given these Bedros people a check for
sixty for that last case of liquor--and I only had forty-five dollars in
the bank. Well, the Bedros people deposited fifteen dollars to my
account and drew the whole thing out."
In her ignorance Gloria conjured up a spectre of imprisonment and
"Oh, they won't do anything," he assured her. "Bootlegging's too risky a
business. They'll send me a bill for fifteen dollars and I'll pay it."
"Oh." She considered a moment. "--Well, we can sell another bond."
He laughed sarcastically.
"Oh, yes, that's always easy. When the few bonds we have that are paying
any interest at all are only worth between fifty and eighty cents on the
dollar. We lose about half the bond every time we sell."
"What else can we do?"
"Oh, we'll sell something--as usual. We've got paper worth eighty
thousand dollars at par." Again he laughed unpleasantly. "Bring about
thirty thousand on the open market."
"I distrusted those ten per cent investments."
"The deuce you did!" he said. "You pretended you did, so you could claw
at me if they went to pieces, but you wanted to take a chance as much
as I did."
She was silent for a moment as if considering, then:
"Anthony," she cried suddenly, "two hundred a month is worse than
nothing. Let's sell all the bonds and put the thirty thousand dollars in
the bank--and if we lose the case we can live in Italy for three years,
and then just die." In her excitement as she talked she was aware of a
faint flush of sentiment, the first she had felt in many days.
"Three years," he said nervously, "three years! You're crazy. Mr.
Haight'll take more than that if we lose. Do you think he's working
"I forgot that."
"--And here it is Saturday," he continued, "and I've only got a dollar
and some change, and we've got to live till Monday, when I can get to my
broker's.... And not a drink in the house," he added as a significant
"Can't you call up Dick?"
"I did. His man says he's gone down to Princeton to address a literary
club or some such thing. Won't be back till Monday."
"Well, let's see--Don't you know some friend you might go to?"
"I tried a couple of fellows. Couldn't find anybody in. I wish I'd sold
that Keats letter like I started to last week."
"How about those men you play cards with in that Sammy place?"
"Do you think I'd ask _them?_" His voice rang with righteous horror.
Gloria winced. He would rather contemplate her active discomfort than
feel his own skin crawl at asking an inappropriate favor. "I thought of
Muriel," he suggested.
"She's in California."
"Well, how about some of those men who gave you such a good time while I
was in the army? You'd think they might be glad to do a little favor
She looked at him contemptuously, but he took no notice.
"Or how about your old friend Rachael--or Constance Merriam?"
"Constance Merriam's been dead a year, and I wouldn't ask Rachael."
"Well, how about that gentleman who was so anxious to help you once that
he could hardly restrain himself, Bloeckman?"
"Oh--!" He had hurt her at last, and he was not too obtuse or too
careless to perceive it.
"Why not him?" he insisted callously.
"Because--he doesn't like me any more," she said with difficulty, and
then as he did not answer but only regarded her cynically: "If you want
to know why, I'll tell you. A year ago I went to Bloeckman--he's changed
his name to Black--and asked him to put me into pictures."
"You went to Bloeckman?"
"Why didn't you tell me?" he demanded incredulously, the smile fading
from his face.
"Because you were probably off drinking somewhere. He had them give me a
test, and they decided that I wasn't young enough for anything except a
"A character part?"
"The 'woman of thirty' sort of thing. I wasn't thirty, and I didn't
think I--looked thirty."
"Why, damn him!" cried Anthony, championing her violently with a curious
perverseness of emotion, "why--"
"Well, that's why I can't go to him."
"Why, the insolence!" insisted Anthony nervously, "the insolence!"
"Anthony, that doesn't matter now; the thing is we've got to live over
Sunday and there's nothing in the house but a loaf of bread and a
half-pound of bacon and two eggs for breakfast." She handed him the
contents of her purse. "There's seventy, eighty, a dollar fifteen. With
what you have that makes about two and a half altogether, doesn't it?
Anthony, we can get along on that. We can buy lots of food with
that--more than we can possibly eat."
Jingling the change in his hand he shook his head. "No. I've got to have
a drink. I'm so darn nervous that I'm shivering." A thought struck him.
"Perhaps Sammy'd cash a check. And then Monday I could rush down to the
bank with the money." "But they've closed your account."
"That's right, that's right--I'd forgotten. I'll tell you what: I'll go
down to Sammy's and I'll find somebody there who'll lend me something. I
hate like the devil to ask them, though...." He snapped his fingers
suddenly. "I know what I'll do. I'll hock my watch. I can get twenty
dollars on it, and get it back Monday for sixty cents extra. It's been
hocked before--when I was at Cambridge."
He had put on his overcoat, and with a brief good-by he started down the
hall toward the outer door.
Gloria got to her feet. It had suddenly occurred to her where he would
probably go first.
"Anthony!" she called after him, "hadn't you better leave two dollars
with me? You'll only need car-fare."
The outer door slammed--he had pretended not to hear her. She stood for
a moment looking after him; then she went into the bathroom among her
tragic unguents and began preparations for washing her hair.
Down at Sammy's he found Parker Allison and Pete Lytell sitting alone at
a table, drinking whiskey sours. It was just after six o'clock, and
Sammy, or Samuele Bendiri, as he had been christened, was sweeping an
accumulation of cigarette butts and broken glass into a corner.
"Hi, Tony!" called Parker Allison to Anthony. Sometimes he addressed him
as Tony, at other times it was Dan. To him all Anthonys must sail under
one of these diminutives.
"Sit down. What'll you have?"
On the subway Anthony had counted his money and found that he had almost
four dollars. He could pay for two rounds at fifty cents a drink--which
meant that he would have six drinks. Then he would go over to Sixth
Avenue and get twenty dollars and a pawn ticket in exchange for
"Well, roughnecks," he said jovially, "how's the life of crime?"
"Pretty good," said Allison. He winked at Pete Lytell. "Too bad you're a
married man. We've got some pretty good stuff lined up for about eleven
o'clock, when the shows let out. Oh, boy! Yes, sir--too bad he's
married--isn't it, Pete?"
At half past seven, when they had completed the six rounds, Anthony
found that his intentions were giving audience to his desires. He was
happy and cheerful now--thoroughly enjoying himself. It seemed to him
that the story which Pete had just finished telling was unusually and
profoundly humorous--and he decided, as he did every day at about this
point, that they were "damn good fellows, by golly!" who would do a lot
more for him than any one else he knew. The pawnshops would remain open
until late Saturday nights, and he felt that if he took just one more
drink he would attain a gorgeous rose-colored exhilaration.
Artfully, he fished in his vest pockets, brought up his two quarters,
and stared at them as though in surprise.
"Well, I'll be darned," he protested in an aggrieved tone, "here I've
come out without my pocketbook."
"Need some cash?" asked Lytell easily.
"I left my money on the dresser at home. And I wanted to buy you another
"Oh--knock it." Lytell waved the suggestion away disparagingly. "I guess
we can blow a good fella to all the drinks he wants. What'll you
"I tell you," suggested Parker Allison, "suppose we send Sammy across
the street for some sandwiches and eat dinner here."
The other two agreed.
"Hey, Sammy, wantcha do somep'm for us...."
Just after nine o'clock Anthony staggered to his feet and, bidding them
a thick good night, walked unsteadily to the door, handing Sammy one of
his two quarters as he passed out. Once in the street he hesitated
uncertainly and then started in the direction of Sixth Avenue, where he
remembered to have frequently passed several loan offices. He went by a
news-stand and two drug-stores--and then he realized that he was
standing in front of the place which he sought, and that it was shut and
barred. Unperturbed he continued; another one, half a block down, was
also closed--so were two more across the street, and a fifth in the
square below. Seeing a faint light in the last one, he began to knock on
the glass door; he desisted only when a watchman appeared in the back of
the shop and motioned him angrily to move on. With growing
discouragement, with growing befuddlement, he crossed the street and
walked back toward Forty-third. On the corner near Sammy's he paused
undecided--if he went back to the apartment, as he felt his body
required, he would lay himself open to bitter reproach; yet, now that
the pawnshops were closed, he had no notion where to get the money. He
decided finally that he might ask Parker Allison, after all--but he
approached Sammy's only to find the door locked and the lights out. He
looked at his watch; nine-thirty. He began walking.
Ten minutes later he stopped aimlessly at the corner of Forty-third
Street and Madison Avenue, diagonally across from the bright but nearly
deserted entrance to the Biltmore Hotel. Here he stood for a moment, and
then sat down heavily on a damp board amid some debris of construction
work. He rested there for almost half an hour, his mind a shifting
pattern of surface thoughts, chiefest among which were that he must
obtain some money and get home before he became too sodden to find
Then, glancing over toward the Biltmore, he saw a man standing directly
under the overhead glow of the porte-cochère lamps beside a woman in an
ermine coat. As Anthony watched, the couple moved forward and signalled
to a taxi. Anthony perceived by the infallible identification that lurks
in the walk of a friend that it was Maury Noble.
He rose to his feet.
"Maury!" he shouted.
Maury looked in his direction, then turned back to the girl just as the
taxi came up into place. With the chaotic idea of borrowing ten dollars,
Anthony began to run as fast as he could across Madison Avenue and along
As he came up Maury was standing beside the yawning door of the taxicab.
His companion turned and looked curiously at Anthony.
"Hello, Maury!" he said, holding out his hand. "How are you?"
"Fine, thank you."
Their hands dropped and Anthony hesitated. Maury made no move to
introduce him, but only stood there regarding him with an inscrutable
"I wanted to see you--" began Anthony uncertainly. He did not feel that
he could ask for a loan with the girl not four feet away, so he broke
off and made a perceptible motion of his head as if to beckon Maury
to one side.
"I'm in rather a big hurry, Anthony."
"I know--but can you, can you--" Again he hesitated.
"I'll see you some other time," said Maury. "It's important."
"I'm sorry, Anthony."
Before Anthony could make up his mind to blurt out his request, Maury
had turned coolly to the girl, helped her into the car and, with a
polite "good evening," stepped in after her. As he nodded from the
window it seemed to Anthony that his expression had not changed by a
shade or a hair. Then with a fretful clatter the taxi moved off, and
Anthony was left standing there alone under the lights.
Anthony went on into the Biltmore, for no reason in particular except
that the entrance was at hand, and ascending the wide stair found a seat
in an alcove. He was furiously aware that he had been snubbed; he was as
hurt and angry as it was possible for him to be when in that condition.
Nevertheless, he was stubbornly preoccupied with the necessity of
obtaining some money before he went home, and once again he told over on
his fingers the acquaintances he might conceivably call on in this
emergency. He thought, eventually, that he might approach Mr. Howland,
his broker, at his home.
After a long wait he found that Mr. Howland was out. He returned to the
operator, leaning over her desk and fingering his quarter as though
loath to leave unsatisfied.
"Call Mr. Bloeckman," he said suddenly. His own words surprised him. The
name had come from some crossing of two suggestions in his mind.
"What's the number, please?"
Scarcely conscious of what he did, Anthony looked up Joseph Bloeckman in
the telephone directory. He could find no such person, and was about to
close the book when it flashed into his mind that Gloria had mentioned a
change of name. It was the matter of a minute to find Joseph Black--then
he waited in the booth while central called the number.
"Hello-o. Mr. Bloeckman--I mean Mr. Black in?"
"No, he's out this evening. Is there any message?" The intonation was
cockney; it reminded him of the rich vocal deferences of Bounds.
"Where is he?"
"Why, ah, who is this, please, sir?"
"This Mr. Patch. Matter of vi'al importance." "Why, he's with a party at
the Boul' Mich', sir." "Thanks."
Anthony got his five cents change and started for the Boul' Mich', a
popular dancing resort on Forty-fifth Street. It was nearly ten but the
streets were dark and sparsely peopled until the theatres should eject
their spawn an hour later. Anthony knew the Boul' Mich', for he had been
there with Gloria during the year before, and he remembered the
existence of a rule that patrons must be in evening dress. Well, he
would not go up-stairs--he would send a boy up for Bloeckman and wait for
him in the lower hall. For a moment he did not doubt that the whole
project was entirely natural and graceful. To his distorted imagination
Bloeckman had become simply one of his old friends.
The entrance hall of the Boul' Mich' was warm. There were high yellow
lights over a thick green carpet, from the centre of which a white
stairway rose to the dancing floor.
Anthony spoke to the hallboy:
"I want to see Mr. Bloeckman--Mr. Black," he said. "He's up-stairs--have
The boy shook his head.
"'Sagainsa rules to have him paged. You know what table he's at?"
"No. But I've got see him."
"Wait an' I'll getcha waiter."
After a short interval a head waiter appeared, bearing a card on which
were charted the table reservations. He darted a cynical look at
Anthony--which, however, failed of its target. Together they bent over
the cardboard and found the table without difficulty--a party of eight,
Mr. Black's own.
"Tell him Mr. Patch. Very, very important."
Again he waited, leaning against the banister and listening to the
confused harmonies of "Jazz-mad" which came floating down the stairs. A
check-girl near him was singing:
_"Out in--the shimmee sanitarium
The jazz-mad nuts reside.
Out in--the shimmee sanitarium
I left my blushing bride.
She went and shook herself insane,
So let her shiver back again--"_
Then he saw Bloeckman descending the staircase, and took a step forward
to meet him and shake hands.
"You wanted to see me?" said the older man coolly.
"Yes," answered Anthony, nodding, "personal matter. Can you jus' step
Regarding him narrowly Bloeckman followed Anthony to a half bend made by
the staircase where they were beyond observation or earshot of any one
entering or leaving the restaurant.
"Well?" he inquired.
"Wanted talk to you."
Anthony only laughed--a silly laugh; he intended it to sound casual.
"What do you want to talk to me about?" repeated Bloeckman.
"Wha's hurry, old man?" He tried to lay his hand in a friendly gesture
upon Bloeckman's shoulder, but the latter drew away slightly.
"Very well, thanks.... See here, Mr. Patch, I've got a party up-stairs.
They'll think it's rude if I stay away too long. What was it you wanted
to see me about?"
For the second time that evening Anthony's mind made an abrupt jump, and
what he said was not at all what he had intended to say.
"Un'erstand you kep' my wife out of the movies." "What?" Bloeckman's
ruddy face darkened in parallel planes of shadows.
"You heard me."
"Look here, Mr. Patch," said Bloeckman, evenly and without changing his
expression, "you're drunk. You're disgustingly and insultingly drunk."
"Not too drunk talk to you," insisted Anthony with a leer. "Firs' place,
my wife wants nothin' whatever do with you. Never did. Un'erstand me?"
"Be quiet!" said the older man angrily. "I should think you'd respect
your wife enough not to bring her into the conversation under these
"Never you min' how I expect my wife. One thing--you leave her alone.
You go to hell!"
"See here--I think you're a little crazy!" exclaimed Bloeckman. He took
two paces forward as though to pass by, but Anthony stepped in his way.
"Not so fas', you Goddam Jew."
For a moment they stood regarding each other, Anthony swaying gently
from side to side, Bloeckman almost trembling with fury.
"Be careful!" he cried in a strained voice.
Anthony might have remembered then a certain look Bloeckman had given
him in the Biltmore Hotel years before. But he remembered nothing,
"I'll say it again, you God----"
Then Bloeckman struck out, with all the strength in the arm of a
well-conditioned man of forty-five, struck out and caught Anthony
squarely in the mouth. Anthony cracked up against the staircase,
recovered himself and made a wild drunken swing at his opponent, but
Bloeckman, who took exercise every day and knew something of sparring,
blocked it with ease and struck him twice in the face with two swift
smashing jabs. Anthony gave a little grunt and toppled over onto the
green plush carpet, finding, as he fell, that his mouth was full of
blood and seemed oddly loose in front. He struggled to his feet, panting
and spitting, and then as he started toward Bloeckman, who stood a few
feet away, his fists clenched but not up, two waiters who had appeared
from nowhere seized his arms and held him, helpless. In back of them a
dozen people had miraculously gathered.
"I'll kill him," cried Anthony, pitching and straining from side to
side. "Let me kill----"
"Throw him out!" ordered Bloeckman excitedly, just as a small man with a
pockmarked face pushed his way hurriedly through the spectators.
"Any trouble, Mr. Black?"
"This bum tried to blackmail me!" said Bloeckman, and then, his voice
rising to a faintly shrill note of pride: "He got what was coming
The little man turned to a waiter.
"Call a policeman!" he commanded.
"Oh, no," said Bloeckman quickly. "I can't be bothered. Just throw him
out in the street.... Ugh! What an outrage!" He turned and with
conscious dignity walked toward the wash-room just as six brawny hands
seized upon Anthony and dragged him toward the door. The "bum" was
propelled violently to the sidewalk, where he landed on his hands and
knees with a grotesque slapping sound and rolled over slowly onto
The shock stunned him. He lay there for a moment in acute distributed
pain. Then his discomfort became centralized in his stomach, and he
regained consciousness to discover that a large foot was prodding him.
"You've got to move on, y' bum! Move on!"
It was the bulky doorman speaking. A town car had stopped at the curb
and its occupants had disembarked--that is, two of the women were
standing on the dashboard, waiting in offended delicacy until this
obscene obstacle should be removed from their path.
"Move on! Or else I'll _throw_ y'on!"
"Here--I'll get him."
This was a new voice; Anthony imagined that it was somehow more
tolerant, better disposed than the first. Again arms were about him,
half lifting, half dragging him into a welcome shadow four doors up the
street and propping him against the stone front of a millinery shop.
"Much obliged," muttered Anthony feebly. Some one pushed his soft hat
down upon his head and he winced.
"Just sit still, buddy, and you'll feel better. Those guys sure give you
"I'm going back and kill that dirty--" He tried to get to his feet but
collapsed backward against the wall.
"You can't do nothin' now," came the voice. "Get 'em some other time.
I'm tellin' you straight, ain't I? I'm helpin' you."
"An' you better go home. You dropped a tooth to-night, buddy. You know
Anthony explored his mouth with his tongue, verifying the statement.
Then with an effort he raised his hand and located the gap.
"I'm agoin' to get you home, friend. Whereabouts do you live--"
"Oh, by God! By God!" interrupted Anthony, clenching his fists
passionately. "I'll show the dirty bunch. You help me show 'em and I'll
fix it with you. My grandfather's Adam Patch, of Tarrytown"--
"Adam Patch, by God!"
"You wanna go all the way to Tarrytown?"
"Well, you tell me where to go, friend, and I'll get a cab."
Anthony made out that his Samaritan was a short, broad-shouldered
individual, somewhat the worse for wear.
"Where d'you live, hey?"
Sodden and shaken as he was, Anthony felt that his address would be poor
collateral for his wild boast about his grandfather.
"Get me a cab," he commanded, feeling in his pockets.
A taxi drove up. Again Anthony essayed to rise, but his ankle swung
loose, as though it were in two sections. The Samaritan must needs help
him in--and climb in after him.
"See here, fella," said he, "you're soused and you're bunged up, and you
won't be able to get in your house 'less somebody carries you in, so I'm
going with you, and I know you'll make it all right with me. Where
With some reluctance Anthony gave his address. Then, as the cab moved
off, he leaned his head against the man's shoulder and went into a
shadowy, painful torpor. When he awoke, the man had lifted him from the
cab in front of the apartment on Claremont Avenue and was trying to set
him on his feet.
"Can y' walk?"
"Yes--sort of. You better not come in with me." Again he felt helplessly
in his pockets. "Say," he continued, apologetically, swaying dangerously
on his feet, "I'm afraid I haven't got a cent."
"I'm cleaned out."
"Sa-a-ay! Didn't I hear you promise you'd fix it with me? Who's goin' to
pay the taxi bill?" He turned to the driver for confirmation. "Didn't
you hear him say he'd fix it? All that about his grandfather?"
"Matter of fact," muttered Anthony imprudently, "it was you did all the
talking; however, if you come round, to-morrow--"
At this point the taxi-driver leaned from his cab and said ferociously:
"Ah, poke him one, the dirty cheap skate. If he wasn't a bum they
wouldn'ta throwed him out."
In answer to this suggestion the fist of the Samaritan shot out like a
battering-ram and sent Anthony crashing down against the stone steps of
the apartment-house, where he lay without movement, while the tall
buildings rocked to and fro above him....
After a long while he awoke and was conscious that it had grown much
colder. He tried to move himself but his muscles refused to function. He
was curiously anxious to know the time, but he reached for his watch,
only to find the pocket empty. Involuntarily his lips formed an
"What a night!"
Strangely enough, he was almost sober. Without moving his head he looked
up to where the moon was anchored in mid-sky, shedding light down into
Claremont Avenue as into the bottom of a deep and uncharted abyss. There
was no sign or sound of life save for the continuous buzzing in his own
ears, but after a moment Anthony himself broke the silence with a
distinct and peculiar murmur. It was the sound that he had consistently
attempted to make back there in the Boul' Mich', when he had been face
to face with Bloeckman--the unmistakable sound of ironic laughter. And
on his torn and bleeding lips it was like a pitiful retching of
Three weeks later the trial came to an end. The seemingly endless spool
of legal red tape having unrolled over a period of four and a half
years, suddenly snapped off. Anthony and Gloria and, on the other side,
Edward Shuttleworth and a platoon of beneficiaries testified and lied
and ill-behaved generally in varying degrees of greed and desperation.
Anthony awoke one morning in March realizing that the verdict was to be
given at four that afternoon, and at the thought he got up out of his
bed and began to dress. With his extreme nervousness there was mingled
an unjustified optimism as to the outcome. He believed that the decision
of the lower court would be reversed, if only because of the reaction,
due to excessive prohibition, that had recently set in against reforms
and reformers. He counted more on the personal attacks that they had
levelled at Shuttleworth than on the more sheerly legal aspects of the
Dressed, he poured himself a drink of whiskey and then went into
Gloria's room, where he found her already wide awake. She had been in
bed for a week, humoring herself, Anthony fancied, though the doctor had
said that she had best not be disturbed.
"Good morning," she murmured, without smiling. Her eyes seemed unusually
large and dark.
"How do you feel?" he asked grudgingly. "Better?"
"Do you feel well enough to go down to court with me this afternoon?"
"Yes. I want to. Dick said yesterday that if the weather was nice he was
coming up in his car and take me for a ride in Central Park--and look,
the room's all full of sunshine."
Anthony glanced mechanically out the window and then sat down upon the
"God, I'm nervous!" he exclaimed.
"Please don't sit there," she said quickly.
"You smell of whiskey. I can't stand it."
He got up absent-mindedly and left the room. A little later she called
to him and he went out and brought her some potato salad and cold
chicken from the delicatessen.
At two o'clock Richard Caramel's car arrived at the door and, when he
phoned up, Anthony took Gloria down in the elevator and walked with her
to the curb.
She told her cousin that it was sweet of him to take her riding. "Don't
be simple," Dick replied disparagingly. "It's nothing."
But he did not mean that it was nothing and this was a curious thing.
Richard Caramel had forgiven many people for many offenses. But he had
never forgiven his cousin, Gloria Gilbert, for a statement she had made
just prior to her wedding, seven years before. She had said that she did
not intend to read his book.
Richard Caramel remembered this--he had remembered it well for seven
"What time will I expect you back?" asked Anthony.
"We won't come back," she answered, "we'll meet you down there at four."
"All right," he muttered, "I'll meet you."
Up-stairs he found a letter waiting for him. It was a mimeographed
notice urging "the boys" in condescendingly colloquial language to pay
the dues of the American Legion. He threw it impatiently into the
waste-basket and sat down with his elbows on the window sill, looking
down blindly into the sunny street.
Italy--if the verdict was in their favor it meant Italy. The word had
become a sort of talisman to him, a land where the intolerable anxieties
of life would fall away like an old garment. They would go to the
watering-places first and among the bright and colorful crowds forget
the gray appendages of despair. Marvellously renewed, he would walk
again in the Piazza di Spanga at twilight, moving in that drifting
flotsam of dark women and ragged beggars, of austere, barefooted friars.
The thought of Italian women stirred him faintly--when his purse hung
heavy again even romance might fly back to perch upon it--the romance of
blue canals in Venice, of the golden green hills of Fiesole after rain,
and of women, women who changed, dissolved, melted into other women and
receded from his life, but who were always beautiful and always young.
But it seemed to him that there should be a difference in his attitude.
All the distress that he had ever known, the sorrow and the pain, had
been because of women. It was something that in different ways they did
to him, unconsciously, almost casually--perhaps finding him
tender-minded and afraid, they killed the things in him that menaced
their absolute sway.
Turning about from the window he faced his reflection in the mirror,
contemplating dejectedly the wan, pasty face, the eyes with their
crisscross of lines like shreds of dried blood, the stooped and flabby
figure whose very sag was a document in lethargy. He was thirty
three--he looked forty. Well, things would be different.
The door-bell rang abruptly and he started as though he had been dealt a
blow. Recovering himself, he went into the hall and opened the outer
dour. It was Dot.
He retreated before her into the living room, comprehending only a word
here and there in the slow flood of sentences that poured from her
steadily, one after the other, in a persistent monotone. She was
decently and shabbily dressed--a somehow pitiable little hat adorned
with pink and blue flowers covered and hid her dark hair. He gathered
from her words that several days before she had seen an item in the
paper concerning the lawsuit, and had obtained his address from the
clerk of the Appellate Division. She had called up the apartment and had
been told that Anthony was out by a woman to whom she had refused to
give her name.
In a living room he stood by the door regarding her with a sort of
stupefied horror as she rattled on.... His predominant sensation was
that all the civilization and convention around him was curiously
unreal.... She was in a milliner's shop on Sixth Avenue, she said. It
was a lonesome life. She had been sick for a long while after he left
for Camp Mills; her mother had come down and taken her home again to
Carolina.... She had come to New York with the idea of finding Anthony.
She was appallingly in earnest. Her violet eyes were red with tears; her
soft intonation was ragged with little gasping sobs.
That was all. She had never changed. She wanted him now, and if she
couldn't have him she must die....
"You'll have to get out," he said at length, speaking with tortuous
intensity. "Haven't I enough to worry me now without you coming here? My
_God_! You'll have to get _out!"_
Sobbing, she sat down in a chair.
"I love you," she cried; "I don't care what you say to me! I love you."
"I don't care!" he almost shrieked; "get out--oh, get out! Haven't you
done me harm enough? Haven't--you--done--_enough?"_
"Hit me!" she implored him--wildly, stupidly. "Oh, hit me, and I'll kiss
the hand you hit me with!"
His voice rose until it was pitched almost at a scream. "I'll kill you!"
he cried. "If you don't get out I'll kill you, I'll kill you!"
There was madness in his eyes now, but, unintimidated, Dot rose and took
a step toward him.
He made a little clicking sound with his teeth and drew back as though
to spring at her--then, changing his purpose, he looked wildly about him
on the floor and wall.
"I'll kill you!" he was muttering in short, broken gasps. "I'll _kill_
you!" He seemed to bite at the word as though to force it into
materialization. Alarmed at last she made no further movement forward,
but meeting his frantic eyes took a step back toward the door. Anthony
began to race here and there on his side of the room, still giving out
his single cursing cry. Then he found what he had been seeking--a stiff
oaken chair that stood beside the table. Uttering a harsh, broken shout,
he seized it, swung it above his head and let it go with all his raging
strength straight at the white, frightened face across the room ... then
a thick, impenetrable darkness came down upon him and blotted out
thought, rage, and madness together--with almost a tangible snapping
sound the face of the world changed before his eyes....
Gloria and Dick came in at five and called his name. There was no
answer--they went into the living room and found a chair with its back
smashed lying in the doorway, and they noticed that all about the room
there was a sort of disorder--the rugs had slid, the pictures and
bric-à-brac were upset upon the centre table. The air was sickly sweet
with cheap perfume.
They found Anthony sitting in a patch of sunshine on the floor of his
bedroom. Before him, open, were spread his three big stamp-books, and
when they entered he was running his hands through a great pile of
stamps that he had dumped from the back of one of them. Looking up and
seeing Dick and Gloria he put his head critically on one side and
motioned them back.
"Anthony!" cried Gloria tensely, "we've won! They reversed the
"Don't come in," he murmured wanly, "you'll muss them. I'm sorting, and
I know you'll step in them. Everything always gets mussed."
"What are you doing?" demanded Dick in astonishment. "Going back to
childhood? Don't you realize you've won the suit? They've reversed the
decision of the lower courts. You're worth thirty millions!"
Anthony only looked at him reproachfully.
"Shut the door when you go out." He spoke like a pert child.
With a faint horror dawning in her eyes, Gloria gazed at him--
"Anthony!" she cried, "what is it? What's the matter? Why didn't you
come--why, what _is_ it?"
"See here," said Anthony softly, "you two get out--now, both of you. Or
else I'll tell my grandfather."
He held up a handful of stamps and let them come drifting down about him
like leaves, varicolored and bright, turning and fluttering gaudily upon
the sunny air: stamps of England and Ecuador, Venezuela and
TOGETHER WITH THE SPARROWS
That exquisite heavenly irony which has tabulated the demise of so many
generations of sparrows doubtless records the subtlest verbal
inflections of the passengers of such ships as _The Berengaria_. And
doubtless it was listening when the young man in the plaid cap crossed
the deck quickly and spoke to the pretty girl in yellow.
"That's him," he said, pointing to a bundled figure seated in a wheel
chair near the rail. "That's Anthony Patch. First time he's been
"Yes. He's been a little crazy, they say, ever since he got his money,
four or five months ago. You see, the other fellow, Shuttleworth, the
religious fellow, the one that didn't get the money, he locked himself
up in a room in a hotel and shot himself--
"Oh, he did--"
"But I guess Anthony Patch don't care much. He got his thirty million.
And he's got his private physician along in case he doesn't feel just
right about it. Has _she_ been on deck?" he asked.
The pretty girl in yellow looked around cautiously.
"She was here a minute ago. She had on a Russian-sable coat that must
have cost a small fortune." She frowned and then added decisively: "I
can't stand her, you know. She seems sort of--sort of dyed and
_unclean_, if you know what I mean. Some people just have that look
about them whether they are or not."
"Sure, I know," agreed the man with the plaid cap. "She's not
bad-looking, though." He paused. "Wonder what he's thinking about--his
money, I guess, or maybe he's got remorse about that fellow
But the man in the plaid cap was quite wrong. Anthony Patch, sitting
near the rail and looking out at the sea, was not thinking of his money,
for he had seldom in his life been really preoccupied with material
vainglory, nor of Edward Shuttleworth, for it is best to look on the
sunny side of these things. No--he was concerned with a series of
reminiscences, much as a general might look back upon a successful
campaign and analyze his victories. He was thinking of the hardships,
the insufferable tribulations he had gone through. They had tried to
penalize him for the mistakes of his youth. He had been exposed to
ruthless misery, his very craving for romance had been punished, his
friends had deserted him--even Gloria had turned against him. He had
been alone, alone--facing it all.
Only a few months before people had been urging him to give in, to
submit to mediocrity, to go to work. But he had known that he was
justified in his way of life--and he had stuck it out stanchly. Why, the
very friends who had been most unkind had come to respect him, to know
he had been right all along. Had not the Lacys and the Merediths and the
Cartwright-Smiths called on Gloria and him at the Ritz-Carlton just a
week before they sailed?
Great tears stood in his eyes, and his voice was tremulous as he
whispered to himself.
"I showed them," he was saying. "It was a hard fight, but I didn't give
up and I came through!"