Part 3 out of 9
settlement at once. Business matters must be kept
"What do you want him to do, Madam?" he asked,
looking at her keenly from under his bushy eyebrows.
"Anything to earn his bread," she replied, in
a decided tone.
Cobb passed his hand over his face, pinched his
chin with his thumb and forefinger, and looked out
of the window. The answer pleased him. It pleased
him, too, to be consulted by the Horns on a matter
of this kind. It pleased him most of all to realize that
when these aristocrats who differed with him politically
got into a financial hole they had to send for
him to help pull them out.
For a moment the Vermonter remained in deep
thought. "Here is a Southern woman," he said to
himself, "with some common-sense and with a head
on her shoulders. If her husband had half her brains
I'd let the mortgage stand." Then he turned and
faced her squarely, his eyes boring into hers.
"Send him to New York, by all means, Madam,
or anywhere else out of here," he said, firmly, but
with a kindly tone in his voice. "When you decide,
let me know--I will give him a letter to a business
friend of mine who lives on the Hudson, a short
distance above the city, who may help him. But let
me advise you to send him at once. I saw your son
yesterday at the club, and he exactly fits your measure,
except in one respect. He's got more grit in him
than you give him credit for. I looked him over
pretty carefully, and if he gets in a tight place you
needn't worry about him. He'll pull out, or my name
isn't Cobb. And now one thing more--" and he rose
stiffly from the sofa and buttoned up his coat--
"don't give him any pocket-money. Chuck him out
neck and heels into the world and let him shift for
himself. That's the way I was treated, and that's the
way I got on. Good-day."
A SEAT IN UNION SQUARE
Within a day's journey of Kennedy Square lay
another wide breathing-space, its winding paths worn
smooth by countless hurrying feet.
Over its flat monotony straggled a line of gnarled
willows, marking the wanderings of some guileless
brook long since swallowed up and lost in the mazes
of the great city like many another young life fresh
from green fields and sunny hill-sides. This desert of
weeds and sun-dried, yellow grass, this kraal for
scraggly trees and broken benches, breasted the rush
of the great city as a stone breasts a stream, dividing
its current--one part swirling around and up Broadway
to the hills and the other flowing eastward toward
Harlem and the Sound. Around its four sides, fronting
the four streets that hemmed it in, ran a massive
iron railing, socketed in stone and made man-proof
and dog-proof by four great iron gates. These gates
were opened at dawn to let the restless in, and closed
at night to keep the weary out.
Above these barriers of stone and iron no joyous
magnolias lifted their creamy blossoms; no shy
climbing roses played hide-and-seek, blushing scarlet
when caught. Along its foot-worn paths no drowsy
Moses ceased his droning call; no lovers walked forgetful
of the world; no staid old gentlemen wandered
idly, their noses in their books.
All day long on its rude straight-backed benches
and over its thread-bare turf sprawled unkempt women
with sick babies from the shanties; squalid, noisy
children from the rookeries; beggars in rags, and now
and then some hopeless wayfarer--who for the moment
had given up his search for work or bread and
who rested or slept until the tap of a constable's club
brought him to consciousness and his feet.
At night, before the gates were closed--ten o'clock
was the hour--there could always be found, under
its dim lamps, some tired girl, sitting in the light for
better protection while she rested, or some weary
laborer on the way home from his long day's work,
and always passing to and fro, swinging his staff,
bullying the street-rats who were playing tag among
the trees, and inspiring a wholesome awe among
those hiding in the shadows, lounged some guardian
of the peace awaiting the hour when he could drive
the inmates to the sidewalk and shut the gates behind
them with a bang.
Here on one of these same straight-backed wooden
seats one September night--a night when the air was
heavy with a blurred haze, through which the lamps
peered as in a fog, and the dust lay thick upon the
leaves--sat our Oliver.
Outside the square--all about the iron fence, and
surging past the big equestrian statue, could be heard
the roar and din of the great city--that maelstrom
which now seemed ready to engulf him. No sound
of merry laughter reached him, only rumbling of
countless wheels, the slow thud of never-ending,
crowded stages lumbering over the cobbles, the cries
of the hucksters selling hot corn, and the ceaseless
scrapings of a thousand feet.
He had sat here since the sun had gone down
watching the crowds, wondering how they lived and
how they had earned their freedom from such cares
as were now oppressing him. His heart was heavy.
A long-coveted berth, meaning self-support and independence
and consequent relief to his mother's
heart, had been almost within his grasp. It was not
the place he had expected when he left home. It was
much more menial and unremunerative. But he had
outlived all his bright hopes. He was ready now to
take anything he could get to save him from returning
to Kennedy Square, or what would be still worse
--from asking his mother for a penny more than she
had given him. Rather than do this he would sweep
As he leaned forward on the bench, his face in his
hands, his elbows on his knees, his thoughts went
back to his father's house. He knew what they were
all doing at this hour; he could see the porches
crowded with the boys and girls he loved, their bright
voices filling the night-air, Sue in the midst of
them, her curls about her face. He could see his
father in the big chair reading by the lamp, that dear
old father who had held his hands so tenderly and
spoken with such earnestness the day before he had
left Kennedy Square.
"Your mother is right," Richard had said. "I
am glad you are going, my son; the men at the
North are broader-minded than we are here, and you
will soon find your place among them. Great things
are ahead of us, my boy. I shall not live to see them,
but you will."
He could see his mother, too, sitting by the window,
looking out upon the trees. He knew where
her thoughts lay. As his mind rested on her pale
face his eyes filled with tears. "Dear old mother,"
he said to himself--"I am not forgetting, dear. I
am holding on. But oh, if I had only got the place
to-day, how happy you would be to-morrow."
A bitter feeling had risen in his heart, when he
had opened the letter which had brought him the
news of the loss of this hoped-for situation. "This
is making one's way in the world, is it?" he had said
to himself with a heavy sigh. Then the calm eyes of
his mother had looked into his again, and he had
felt the pressure of the soft hand and heard the tones
of her voice:
"You may have many discouragements, my son,
and will often be ready to faint by the way, but stick
to it and you will win."
His bitterness had been but momentary, and he
had soon pulled himself together, but his every resource
seemed exhausted now. He had counted so
on the situation--that of a shipping-clerk in a dry-
goods store--promised him because of a letter that
he carried from Amos Cobb's friend. But at the last
moment the former clerk, who had been laid off because
of sickness, had been taken back, and so the
weary search for work must begin again.
And yet with everything against him Oliver had
no thought of giving up the struggle. Even Amos
Cobb would have been proud of him could he have
seen the dogged tenacity with which he clung to his
purpose--a tenacity due to his buoyant, happy
temperament, or to his devotion to his mother's
wishes; or (and this is more than probable) to some
drops of blood, perhaps, that had reached his own
through his mother's veins--the blood of that Major
with the blue and buff coat, whose portrait hung in
the dining-room at home, and who in the early days
had braved the flood at Trenton side by side with the
Hero of the Bronze Horse now overlooking the
bench on which Oliver sat; or it may be of that other
ancestor in the queue whose portrait hung over the
mantel of the club and who had served his State with
distinction in his day.
Whatever the causes of these several effects, the
one dominating power which now controlled him
was his veneration for his mother's name and honor.
For on the night succeeding Amos Cobb's visit after
she had dropped upon her knees and poured out her
heart in prayer she had gone into Oliver's bedroom,
and shutting the door had told him of the mortgage;
of his father's embarrassment, and the danger they
suffered of losing the farm--their only hope for
their old age--unless success crowned Richard's
inventions. With his hand fast in hers she
had given him in exact detail all that she had done
to ward off this calamity; recounting, word by word,
what she had said to the Colonel, lowering her voice
almost to a whisper as she spoke of the solemn
promise she had made him--involving her own and
her husband's honor--and the lengths to which she
was prepared to go to keep her obligations to the
Then, her hand still clasping his, the two sitting
side by side on his bed, his wondering, startled eyes
looking into hers--for this world of anxiety was an
unknown world to him--she had by slow stages made
him realize how necessary it was that he, their only
son, and their sole dependence, should begin at once
to earn his daily bread; not only on his own account
but on hers and his father's. In her tenderness she
had not told him that the real reason was his instability
of purpose; fearing to wound his pride, she had
put it solely on the ground of his settling down to
"It is the law of nature, my son," she had added.
"Everything that lives must WORK to live. You have
only to watch the birds out here in the Square to convince
you of that. Notice them to-morrow, when
you go out. See how busy they are; see how long it
takes for any one of them to get a meal. You are
old enough now to begin to earn your own bread,
and you must begin at once, Ollie. Your father can
no longer help you. I had hoped your profession
would do this for you, but that is not to be thought
Oliver, at first, had been stunned by it all. He
had never before given the practical side of life a
single thought. Everything had gone along smoothly
from his earliest remembrance. His father's house
had been his home and his protection; his room with
its little bed and pretty hangings and all its comforts
--a room cared for like a girl's--had always been
open to him. He had never once asked himself how
these things came about, nor why they continued.
These revelations of his mother's therefore were like
the sudden opening of a door covering a vault over
which he had walked unconsciously and which now,
for the first time, he saw yawning beneath him.
"Poor daddy," were his first words. "I never
knew a thing about his troubles; he seems always so
happy and so gentle. I am so sorry--dear daddy--
dear dad--" he kept repeating.
And then as she spoke there flashed into his mind
the thought of his own hopes. They were shattered
now. He knew that the art career was dead for him,
and that all his dreams in that direction were over.
He was about to tell her this, but he stopped before
the words were formed. He would not add his
own burden to her sorrow. No, he would bear it
alone. He would tell Sue, but he would not tell his
mother. Next there welled up in his heart a desire
to help this mother whom he idolized, and this father
who represented to him all that was kind and true.
"What can I do? Where can I go, dearie?" he
cried with sudden resolve. "Even if I am to work
with my hands I am ready to do it, but it must be
away from here. I could not do it here at home
with everybody looking on; no, not here! not
This victory gained, the mother with infinite tact,
little by little, unfolded to the son the things she had
planned. Finally with her arms about his neck,
smoothing his cheek with her hands she told him
of Amos Cobb's advice and of his offer, adding:
"He will give you a letter to his friend who lives
at Haverstraw near New York, my boy, with
whom you can stay until you get the situation you
The very impracticability of this scheme did not
weigh with her. She did not see how almost hopeless
would be the task of finding employment in an unknown
city. Nor did the length of time her son
might be a burden on a total stranger make any difference
in her plans. Her own home had always been
open to the friends of her friends, and for any length
of time, and her inborn sense of hospitality made it
impossible for her to understand any other conditions.
Then again she said to herself: "Mr. Cobb
is a thoroughly practical man, and a very kind one.
His friend will welcome Oliver, or he would not
have allowed my son to go." She had repeated,
however, no word of the Vermonter's advice "to
chuck the boy out neck and heels into the world and
let him shift for himself," although the very Spartan
quality of the suggestion, in spite of its brusqueness,
had greatly pleased her. She could not but recognize
that Amos understood. She would have faced
the situation herself if she had been in her son's
place; she said so to herself. And she hoped, too,
that Oliver would face it as bravely when the time
As for the temptations that might assail her boy
in the great city, she never gave them a thought.
Neither the love of drink nor the love of play ran
in her own or Richard's veins--not for generations.
back. "One test of a gentleman, my son," Richard
always said, "lies in the way in which he controls his
appetites--in the way he regards his meat and drink.
Both are foods for the mind as well as for the body,
and must be used as such. Gluttons and drunkards
should he classed together." No, her boy's heart
might lead him astray, but not his appetites, and
never his passions. She was as sure of that as she
was of his love.
As she talked on, Oliver's mind, yielding to her
stronger will as clay does to a sculptor's hand, began
to take shape. What at first had looked like a
hardship now began to have an attractive side. Perhaps
the art career need not be wholly given up. Perhaps,
too, there was a better field for him in New
York than here--old Mr. Crocker had always told
him this. Then, too, there was something of fascination
after all, in going out alone like a knight-errant
to conquer the world. And in that great Northern
city, too, with its rush and whirl and all that it held
for him of mystery! How many times had Mr. Crocker
talked to him by the hour of its delights. And Ellicott's
chair! Yes, he could get rid of that. And
Sue? Sue would wait--she had promised him she
would; no, there was no doubt about Sue! She
would love him all the better if he fought his battle
alone. Only the day before she had told him of
the wonderful feats of the White Knight, that the
new English poet had just written about and that
everybody in Kennedy Square was now reading.
Above all there was the delight of another sensation
--the sensation of a new move. This really
pleased him best. He was apparently listening to
his mother when these thoughts took possession of
him, for his eyes were still fixed on hers, but he heard
only a word now and then. It was his imagination
that swayed him now, not his will nor his judgment.
He would have his own adventures in the great city
and see the world as Mr. Crocker had done, he said
"Yes, dearie, I'll go," he answered quickly.
"Don't talk any more about it. I'll do just as you
want me to, and I'll go anywhere you say. But about
the money for my expenses? Can father give it to
me?" he asked suddenly, a shade of anxiety crossing
"We won't ask your father, Ollie," she said, drawing
him closer to her. She knew he would yield to
her wishes, and she loved him the better for it, if
that were possible. "I have a little money saved
which I will give you. You won't be long finding
a good place."
"And how often can I come back to you?" he
cried, starting up. Until now this phase of the situation
had not entered his mind.
"Not often, my boy--certainly not until you can
afford it. It is costly travelling. Maybe once or
twice a year."
"Oh, then there's no use talking, I can't go. I
can't--can't, be away from you that long. That's
going to be the hardest part." He had started from
his seat and, stood over her, a look of determination
on his face.
"Oh, yes, you can, my son, and you will," she
replied, as she too rose and stood beside him, stopping
the outburst of his weakness with her calm voice,
and quieting and soothing him with the soft touch
of her hand, caressing his cheek with her fingers as
she had so often done when he, a baby, had lain upon
Then with a smile on her face, she had kissed him
good-night, closed the door, and staggering along the
corridor steadying herself as she walked, her hand
on the walls, had thrown herself upon her bed in an
agony of tears, crying out:
"Oh, my boy--my boy! How can I give you up?
And I know it is forever!"
And now here he is foot-sore and heart-sore, sitting
in Union Square, New York, the roar of the
great city in his ears, and here he must sit until the
cattle-barge which takes him every night to the house
of Amos Cobb's friend is ready to start on her
voyage up the river.
He sat with his head in his hands, his elbows on
his knees, not stirring until a jar on the other end
of the bench roused him. A negro hod-carrier,
splashed with plaster, and wearing a ragged shirt and
a crownless straw hat, had taken a seat beside him.
The familiarity of the act startled Oliver. No negro
wayfarer would have dared so much in his own
Square at home.
The man reached forward and drew closer to his
own end of the bench a bundle of sawed ends and
bits of wood which he had carried across the park
on his shoulder.
Oliver watched him for a moment, with a feeling
amounting almost to indignation. "Were the poverty
and the struggle of a great city to force such
familiarities upon him," he wondered. Then something
in the negro's face, as he wiped the perspiration
from his forehead with the back of his hand, produced
a sudden change of feeling. "Was this man,
too, without work?" Oliver asked himself, as he felt
the negro's weariness, and realized for the first time,
the common heritage of all men.
"Are you tired, Uncle?" he asked.
"Yes, a little mite. I been a-totin' dis kindlin'
from way up yander in Twenty-third Street where
the circus useter be. Dey's buildin' a big hotel dere
now--de Fifth Avenue dey calls it. I'm a-carryin'
mortar for de brick-layers an' somehow dese sticks
is monst'ous heavy after workin' all day."
"Where do you live?" asked Oliver, his eyes on
"Not far from here, sah; little way dis side de
Bow'ry. Whar's yo'r home?" And the old man
rose to his feet and picked up his bundle.
The question staggered Oliver. He had no home,
really none that he could call his own--not now.
"Oh, a long way from here," he answered,
thoughtfully, without raising his head, his voice choking.
The old negro gazed at him for a moment, touched
his hat respectfully, and walked toward the gate.
At the entrance he wheeled about, balanced the bundle
of wood on his shoulder and looked back at Oliver,
who had resumed his old position, his eyes on
the ground. Then he walked away, muttering:
"'Pears like he's one o' my own people calling me
uncle. Spec' he ain't been long from his mammy."
Two street-rats now sneaked up toward Oliver,
watched him for a moment, and whispered to each
other. One threw a stone which grazed Oliver's
head, the other put his hand to his mouth and yelled:
"Spad, spad," at the top of his voice. Oliver understood
the epithet, it meant that he wore clean linen,
polished shoes, and perhaps, now and then, a pair
of gloves. He had heard the same outcry in his own
city, for the slang of the street-rat is Volapuk the
world over. But he did not resent the assault. He
was too tired to chase any boys, and too despondent
to answer their taunts.
A constable, attracted by the cries of the boys, now
passed in front of him swinging his long staff. He
was about to tap Oliver's knees with one end of it,
as a gentle reminder that he had better move on,
when something in the young man's face or appearance
made him change his mind.
"Hi, sonny," he cried, turning quickly and facing
Olivr, "yer can't bum round here after ten, ye
know. Keep yer eyes peeled for them gates, d'ye
If Oliver heard he made no reply. He was in no
mood to dispute the officer's right to order him about.
The gates were not the only openings shut in his
face, he thought to himself; everything seemed
closed against him in this great city. It was not so
at home on Kennedy Square. Its fence, was a
shackly, moss-covered, sagging old fence, intertwined
with honeysuckles, full of holes and minus
many a paling; where he could have found a dozen
places to crawl through. He had done so only a few
weeks before with Sue in a mad frolic across the
Square. Besides, why should the constable speak to
him at all? He knew all about the hour of closing the
New York gates without the policeman reminding
him of it. Had he not sat here every night waiting
for that cattle-boat? He hated the place cordially,
yet it was the only spot in that great city to which
he could come and not be molested while he waited
for the barges. He always selected this particular
bench because it was nearest the gate that led to the
bronze horse. He loved to look at its noble contour
silhouetted against the sky or illumined by the
street-lamps, and was seldom too tired to be inspired
by it. He had never seen any work in sculpture to
be compared to it, and for the first few days after
his arrival, he was never content to end the day's
tramping until he stood beneath it, following its outlines,
his heart swelling with pride at the thought
that one of his own nationality and not a European
had created it. He wished that his father, who
believed so in the talent of his countrymen, could
Suddenly, while he was still resenting the familiarity
of the constable, his ears were assailed by the
cry of a dog in pain; some street-rat had kicked him.
Instantly Oliver was on his feet. A small spaniel
was running toward him, followed by half a dozen
boys who were pelting him with stones.
Oliver sprang forward as the dog crouched at his
feet; caught him up in his arms and started for the
rats, who dodged behind the tree-trunks, calling
"Spad, spad," as they ran. Then came the voice of
the same constable.
"Hi, yer can't bring that dog in here."
"He's not my dog, somebody has hurt him," said
Oliver in an indifferent tone, examining carefully the
dog's legs to see if any bones were broken.
"If that ain't your dog what yer doin' with him?
See here, I been a-watchin' ye. Yer got ter move
on or I'll run ye in. D'ye moind?"
Oliver's eyes flashed. In all his life no man had
ever doubted his word, nor had anyone ever spoken
to him in such terms.
"You can do as you please, but I will take care
of this dog, no matter what happens. You ought to
be ashamed of yourself to see him hurt, and not want
to protect him. You're a pretty kind of an officer."
A crowd began to gather.
Oliver was standing with the dog under one arm,
holding the little fellow close to his breast, the other
bent with fist tight shut as if to defend himself.
"I am, am I? yer moon-faced spad! I'll show
ye," and he sprang toward Oliver.
"Here now, Tim Murphy," came a sharp voice,
"kape yer hands off the young gintleman. He ain't
a-doin' nothin', and he ain't done nothin'. Thim
divils hit the dog, I seen 'em myself."
The officer turned quickly and faced a big, broad-
shouldered Irish woman, bare-headed, her sleeves
rolled up to her elbows, every line in her kindly face
replete with indignation.
"Don't put yer hands on him, or I'll go to the
lock-up an' tell McManus."
"Oh, it's you, is it, Mrs. Mulligan?" said the
officer, in a conciliatory tone.
"Yes, it's me. The young gintleman's right. It's
the b'ys ye oughter club into shape, not be foolin'
yer time over the dog."
"Well, ye know it's agin the rules to let dogs inside
the gates," he retorted as he continued his stroll
along the walk, swinging his club as he went, puffing
out his chest and cheeks with his old air as he moved
toward the gate.
"Yes, an' so it's agin the rules," she called after
him, "to have them rapscallions yellin' like mad an'
howlin' bloody murder when a body comes up here
to git a breath o' air."
"Is the dog hurt, sir?" and she stepped close to
Oliver and laid her big hand on the dog's head, as
it lay nestling close to Oliver's side.
"No, I don't think so--he would have been if I
had not got him."
The dog, under the caress, raised his head, and a
slight movement of his tail expressed his pleasure.
Then his ears shot forward. A young man about
Oliver's own age was rapidly walking up the path,
with a quick, springy step, whistling as he came. The
dog, with a sudden movement, squirmed himself
from under Oliver's arm and sprang toward him.
"Oh, it's you, Mr. Fred, is it?" broke out the
woman, "and it's Miss Margaret's dog, too. Of
course it's her dog, an' I was that dumb I didn't know
it. But it's not me ye can thank for savin' its skin
--it's the young gintleman here. Them divils would
have killed it but for him."
"Is the dog yours, sir?" asked Oliver, raising his
hat with that peculiar manner of his which always
won him friends at first sight.
"No, I wish it were. It's Miss Margaret Grant's
dog--one of our students. I am taking care of it
while she is away. The little rascal ran out and got
into the Square before I knew it. I live right across
the street--you can see my house from here. Miss
Grant will be ever so much obliged to you for protecting
"Oh, don't mention it. I got hold of him just in
time, or these ruffians would have hurt him. I think
the old lady here, however, is most to be thanked.
We might both have been locked up," he added, smiling,
"if she had not interfered. You know her, it
"Yes, she's Mother Mulligan, as we call her.
She's janitress of the Academy of Design, where I
draw at night. My name's Fred Stone. Come over
to where I live--it's only a step," and he looked
straight into Oliver's face, his big blue eyes never
"Well, I will if you don't think it's too late," and
the two young fellows, with a wave of their hands to
the old woman, left the Square, the dog bounding before
Within the hour--in less time indeed, for the
friendly light in the eyes of his new-found friend
had shone straight into our boy's soul, warming and
cheering him to his finger-tips, opening his heart, and
bringing out all his secrets--Oliver had told Fred the
story of his fruitless tramps for work; of his mother's
hopes and fears; of his own ambitions and
his aims. And Fred, his own heart wide open,
had told Oliver with equal frankness the story of
his own struggles; of his leaving his father's farm
in the western part of the State, and of his giving
up everything to come to New York to study art.
It was the old, old story of two chance acquaintances
made friends by reason of the common ground
of struggle and privation on which they stood; comrades
fighting side by side in the same trenches for
the same end, and both dreaming of the morrow
which would always bring victory and never death.
A story told without reserve, for the disappointments
of life had not yet dulled their enthusiasm, nor had
the caution acquired by its many bitter experiences
yet checked the free flow of their confidences.
To Oliver, in his present despondent mood, the
hand held out to him was more than the hand of a
comrade. It was the hand of a strong swimmer
thrust into the sea to save a drowning man. There
were others then besides himself, he thought, as he
grasped it, who were making this fight for bread and
glory; there was something else in the great city besides
cruelty and misery, money-getting and money-
spending--something of unselfishness, sympathy and
The two sat on the steps of Fred's boarding-house
--that house where Oliver was to spend so many
happy days of his after-life--until there was only
time enough to catch the barge. Reluctantly he bade
his new-found comrade good-by and, waving his
hand, turned the corner in the direction of the dock.
The edge of Oliver's cloud had at last caught the
AN OLD SONG
Not only had the sunshine of a new friendship
illumined the edge of Oliver's clouds, but before the
week was out a big breeze laden with success had
swept them so far out to sea, that none but the clearest
of skies radiant with hope now arched above his
A paste-board sign had wrought this miracle.
One day he had been tramping the lower parts of
the city, down among the docks, near Coenties Slip,
looking up the people who on former visits had said:
"Some other time, perhaps," or "If we should have
room for another man we will be glad to remember
you," or "We know Mr. Cobb, and shall be pleased,"
etc., etc., when he chanced to espy a strange sign
tacked outside a warehouse door, a sign which bore
the unheard-of-announcement--unheard of to Oliver,
especially the last word, "Shipping Clerk
No one, for weeks, had WANTED anything that Oliver
could furnish. Strangely enough too, as he afterward
discovered, the bullet-headed Dutch porter had
driven the last tack into the clean, white, welcome
face of the sign only five minutes before Oliver
stopped in front of it. Still more out of the common,
and still more incomprehensible, was the reply
made to him by the head salesman, whom he found
just inside the door--a wiry, restless little man with
two keen black eyes, and a perfectly bald head.
"Yes, if you can mark boxes decently; can show
any references; don't want too much pay, and can
come NOW. We're short of a boy, and it's our busy
Oh! blessed be Mr. Crocker, thought Oliver, as
he picked up a marking-brush, stirred it round and
round in the tin pot filled with lamp-black and turpentine,
and to his own and the clerk's delight, painted,
on a clean board, rapidly and clearly, and in new letters
too--new to the clerk--the full address of the
bald-headed man's employers:
MORTON, SLADE & CO.,
121 PEARL STREET, NEW YORK.
More amazing still were the announcements made
by the same bald-headed man after Oliver had shown
him Amos Cobb's recommendations: Oliver was to
come to work in the morning, the situation to be permanent
provided Cobb confirmed by letter the good
wishes he had previously expressed, and provided
Mr. Morton, the senior partner, approved of the bald-
head's action; of which the animated billiard-ball
said there was not the slightest doubt as he, the ball,
had charge of the shipping department, and was responsible
for its efficiency.
All of these astounding, incomprehensible and
amazing occurrences Oliver had written to his
mother, ending his letter by declaring in his enthusiasm
that it was his art, after all, which had pulled
him through, and that but for his readiness with the
brush, he would still be a tramp, instead of "rolling
in luxury on the huge sum of eight dollars a week,
with every probability of becoming a partner in the
house, and later on a millionnaire." To which the
dear lady had replied, that she was delighted to know
he had pleased his employers, but that what had
pleased her most was his never having lost heart
while trying to win his first fight, adding: "The
second victory will come more easily, my darling boy,
and so will each one hereafter." Poor lady, she
never knew how sore that boy's feet had been, nor
how many times he had gone with half a meal or
none at all, for fear of depleting too much the small
store she had given him when he left home.
With his success still upon him, he had sallied forth
to call upon young Fred Stone who had grasped his
hand so warmly the night he had rescued the dog
from the street-boys, and whose sympathy had gone
out to him so freely. He had written him of his good
fortune, and Fred had replied, begging him to call
upon him, and had appointed this same Friday night
as the night of all others when he could entertain
But Oliver is not the same boy who said good-by
to Fred that moonlight night the week before. His
eyes are brighter; his face is a-glow with ill-concealed
pleasure. Even his step shows the old-time
spring and lightness of the days at home--on his toes
part of the time, as if restraining an almost
uncontrollable impulse to stop and throw one or two hand-
springs just to relieve the pressure on his nerves.
When he reached the bench in the Square where
he had sat so many nights with his head in his hands,
one of those quick outbursts of enthusiasm took possession
of him, the kind that sets young hearts singing
with joy when some sudden shift of hope's kaleidoscope
opens a wide horizon brilliant with the light
of future success. With an exclamation of boyish
glee he plumped himself down upon the hard planks
of the bench, and jumped up again, pirouetting on
his toe and slanting his hat over one eye as if in a
spirit of sheer bravado against fate. Then he sauntered
out of the iron gate to Fred's house.
Even as he waited on the stone steps of Miss Teeturn's
boarding-house for the dowdy servant-girl's
return--such dirty, unkempt steps as they were, and
such a dingy door-plate, spotted with rain and dust,
not like Malachi's, he thought--he could hardly restrain
himself from beating Juba with his foot, a
plantation trick Malachi had taught him, keeping
time the while with the palms of his hands on his
Meanwhile another young enthusiast is coming
downstairs three steps at a time, this one bare-
headed, all out of breath, and without a coat, who
pours out his heart to the first Juba-beating enthusiast
as the two climb the stairs together to the second
enthusiast's room on the very top floor. He tells
him of his delight at seeing him again and of the lot
of fellows waiting to welcome him under the skylight;
and of what a jolly lot the "Skylarkers"
really are; and of Mr. Slade, Oliver's employer,
whom Fred knows and who comes from Fred's own
town; and of how much Mr. Slade likes a certain
new clerk, one Oliver Horn, of Kennedy Square, he
having said so the night before, this same Horn being
the precise individual whose arm at that very moment
was locked in Fred's own and which was now getting
an extra squeeze merely for the purposes of identification.
All of this Fred poured into Oliver's willing ear
without stopping to take breath, as they mounted
the four long flights of stairs that led to the top
floor, where, under the roof, there lived a group of
Bohemians as unique in their personalities as could
be found the great city over.
When the two pairs of feet had at last reached
the last flight of steps under the flat roof of
the house, the "Skylarkers" were singing "Old
Dog Tray" at the top of their voices, to the accompaniment
of a piano, and of some other instruments,
the character of which our young hero failed to recognize,
although the strains had grown louder and
louder as the young men mounted the stairs.
As Oliver stood in the open doorway and looked
in through the haze of tobacco-smoke upon the group,
he instantly became conscious that a new world had
opened before him; a world, as he had always pictured
it, full of mystery and charm, peopled by a race
as fascinating to him as any Mr. Crocker had ever
described, and as new and strange as if its members
had been the denizens of another planet.
The interior was not a room, but a square
low-ceiled hall into which opened some six or
more small bedrooms, slept in, whenever sleep was
possible, by an equal number of Miss Teetum's boarders.
The construction and appointments of this open
garret, with two exceptions, were similar to those
of all other garrets of its class: it had walls and
ceiling, once whitewashed, and now discolored by roof-
leaks from a weather-beaten skylight; its floor was
bare of carpet, and its well-worn woodwork was
stained with time and use. Chairs, however, were
scarce, most of the boarders and their guests being
seated on the floor.
The two exceptions, already noted, were some crisp,
telling sketches, big and little, in color and black-and-
white, the work of the artist members of this coterie,
which covered every square inch of the leak-stained
surface of ceiling and wall, and the yellow-keyed,
battered piano which occupied the centre of the open
space and which stood immediately under two flaring
gas-jets. At the moment of Fred's and Oliver's arrival
the top of this instrument was ornamented by
two musically inclined gentlemen, one seated cross-
legged like a Turk, voicing the misfortunes of Dog
Tray, the other, with his legs resting on a chair, beating
time to the melody with a cane. This cane, at
short intervals, he brought down upon the shoulders
of any ambitious member who attempted to usurp his
place. The chief object of the gathering, so far as
Oliver's hasty glance could determine, was undoubtedly
the making of as much noise as possible.
While the young men stood looking into the room
waiting for the song to cease prior to Oliver's entry
and introduction, Fred whispered hurriedly into his
guest's ear some of the names, occupations, and
characteristics of the group before him.
The cross-legged man with the long neck, drooping
mustache, and ropy black hair, was none other
than Bowdoin, the artist--the only American who
had taken a medal at Munich for landscape, but who
was now painting portraits and starving slowly in
consequence. He mounted to this eyry every Friday
night, so as to be reminded of the good old days
at Schwartz's. The short, big-mustached, bald-
headed man swinging the cane, was Bianchi--Julius
Bianchi--known to the Skylarkers as "The Pole,"
and to the world at large as an accomplished lithographer
and maker of mezzotints. Bianchi was a
piece of the early artistic driftwood cast upon our
shores--an artist every inch of him--drawing from
life, and handling the crayon like a master.
The pale-faced young fellow at the piano, with
bulging watch-crystal eye-glasses and hair tucked behind
his ears, was the well-known, all-round musician,
Wenby Simmons--otherwise known as "Pussy Me-ow"
--a name associated in some way with the strings
of his violin. This virtuoso played in the orchestra
at the Winter Garden, and occupied the bedroom
next to Fred's.
The clean-shaven, well-groomed young Englishman
standing behind Simmons and holding a coal-
scuttle half full of coal which he shook with deafening
jangle to help swell the chorus, was "My Lord
Cockburn" so called--an exchange clerk in a banking-
house. He occupied the room opposite Fred's.
With the ending of the chorus Fred Stone stepped
into the open space with his arm through that of his
guest, and the noise was hushed long enough for the
entire party to welcome the young Southerner--a
welcome which kindled into a glow of enthusiasm
when they caught the look of frank undisguised pleasure
which lighted his face, and noticed the unaffected
bow with which he entered the room, shaking hands
with each one as Fred introduced him--and all with
that warm, hearty, simple, courteous manner peculiar
to his people.
The slight ceremony over--almost every Friday
night some new guest was welcomed--Fred seated
himself on the floor with his back to the whitewashed
wall, although two chairs were at once offered them,
and made room for Oliver, who settled down beside
As they sat leaning back, Oliver's eyes wandering
over the room drinking in the strange, fascinating
scene before him, as bewildering as it was unexpected,
Fred--now that they were closer to the scene of
action, again whispered or shouted, as the suddenly
revived noise permitted, into Oliver's alert and
delighted ears, such additional facts concerning the
other members present as he thought would interest
The fat man behind the piano astride of a chair, a
pipe in his mouth and a black velvet skull-cap on his
head, was Tom Waller, the sheep-painter-Thomas
Brandon Waller, he signed it--known as the Walrus.
He, too, was a boarder and a delightful fellow,
although an habitual grumbler. His highest ambition
was to affix an N. A. at the end of his name, but
he had failed of election by thirty votes out of forty
cast. That exasperating event he had duly celebrated
at Pfaff's in various continued libations covering a
week, and had accordingly, on many proper and improper
occasions, renewed and recelebrated the event,
breathing out meanwhile, between his pewter mugs,
scathing anathemas against the "idiots" who had
defeated him out of his just rights, and who were
stupid enough to believe in the school of Verboeckhoeven.
Slick and shiny Verboeckhoeven, "the mechanic,"
he would call him, with his fists closed tight,
who painted the hair on every one of his sheep as if it
were curled by a pair of barber's tongs--not dirty
and woolly and full of suggestions as, of course, he
--the great Waller, alone of all living animal-painters
--depicted it. All of which, to Waller's credit,
it must be parenthetically stated, these same "idiots"
learned to recognize in after years as true, when that
distinguished animal-painter took a medal at the
Salon for the same picture which the Jury of N. A.'s
had rejected at their Spring Exhibition.
The irreproachable, immaculate young person,
with eyes half-closed, lying back in the arm-chair--
one which he had brought from his own room--was
"Ruffle-shirt" Tomlins. He was the only member
who dressed every day for dinner, whether he was
going out afterward or not--spike-tailed coat, white
tie and all. Tomlins not only knew intimately a
lady of high degree who owned a box at the Academy
of Music, in Fourteenth Street, and who invited him
to sit in it at least once a season, but he had besides
a large visiting acquaintance among the people of
quality living on Irving Place. A very agreeable
and kindly little man was "Ruffle-shirt" Tomlins--
so Fred said--the sort of a little man whose philosophy
of life was based on the possibility of catching
more innocent, unwary flies with honey than he could
with vinegar, and who, in consequence, always said
nice things about everybody--sometimes in a loud
tone enough for everybody to hear. This last statement
of Fred's Tomlins confirmed ten minutes later
by remarking, in a stage whisper to Waller:
"Did you see how that young Mr. Horn entered
the room? Nobody like these high-bred Southerners,
my boy. Quite the air of a man of the world--
hasn't he?" To all of which the distinguished sheep-
painter made no other reply than a slight nod of the
head, as he blew a cloud of smoke toward the ceiling
--Tomlins's immaculate appearance being a constant
offence to the untidy painter.
The member with the stentorian voice, who was
roaring out his opinions to Cockburn, Fred continued,
was "Fog-horn" Cranch, the auctioneer. His
room was next to Waller's. His weaknesses were
gay-colored waistcoats and astounding cravats. He
varied these portions of his dress according to wind,
weather, and sales of the day--selecting blue for sunshiny
mornings, black for rainy ones, green for pictures,
red for household furniture, white for real
estate, etc. Into these color-schemes he stuck a variety
of scarf-pins--none very valuable or rare, but
each one distinct--a miniature ivory skull, for instance,
with little garnets for eyes, or tiny onyx dice
with sixes on all sides.
The one man of all the others most beloved by Fred
and every other boarder, guest, and habitue that
gathered around the piano in this garret-room, and
now conspicuous by his absence, he having gone to
the circus opposite the Academy of Music, and not
likely to return until late--a fact greatly regretted
by Fred who made this announcement with lowered
voice to Oliver--was a young Irishman by the name
of McFudd--Cornelius McFudd, the life of the
house, and whom Waller, in accordance with the general
custom, had christened "Continuous McFuddie,"
by reason of the nature of the Hibernian's
habits. His room was across the open space opposite
Fred's, with windows overlooking the yard.
This condensation of good-nature, wit, and good-
humor, Fred went on to say, had been shipped to
"The States" by his father, a rich manufacturer of
Irish whiskies in Dublin, that he might learn something
of the ways of the New World. And there
was not the slightest doubt in the minds of his comrades,
so Fred assured Oliver, that he had not only
won his diploma, but that the sum of his knowledge
along several other lines far exceeded that of any
one of his contemporaries. His allowances came regularly
every month, through the hands of Cockburn,
who had known him in London, and whose bank
cashed McFudd's remittances--a fact which enabled
my lord to a greater extent than the others to keep
an eye on the Irishman's movements and expenditures.
Whatever deviltry was inaugurated on this top
floor during the day as well as the night, and it was
pretty constant, could be traced without much difficulty
to this irrepressible young Irishman. If Tomlins
found his dress-suit put to bed, with a pillow for
a body and his crush-hat for a head; or Cranch found
Waller's lay-figure (Waller often used his bedroom
as a studio) sitting bolt upright in his easy-chair, with
its back to him reading a newspaper--the servant
having been told to announce to Cranch, the moment
she opened the door, that "a gentleman was waiting
for him in his room"; or Cockburn was sent off on
some wild-goose chase uptown--it was safe to say
that Mac was at the bottom of it all.
If, Fred added impressively, this rollicking, devil-
may-care, perfectly sound and hearty young Hibernian
had ever been absolutely, entirely, and completely
sober since his sojourn in the land of the
free, no one of his fellow-boarders had ever discovered
Of this motley gathering "Ruffle-shirt" Tomlins,
the swell; "Fog-horn" Cranch, the auctioneer;
"Walrus" Waller, the sheep-painter; "My Lord"
Cockburn, the Englishman; Fred Stone and Cornelius
McFudd, not only occupied the bedrooms, but
had seats at Miss Teetum's table, four flights below.
Bianchi and the others were the guests of the evening.
All this, and more, Fred poured into Oliver's willing
ear in loud or soft tones, dependent upon the particular
kind of bedlam that was loose in the room at
the moment, as they sat side by side on the floor, Oliver's
back supported by a pillow which Tomlins had
brought from his own bed and tucked behind his
shoulders with his own hand.
This courtesy had been followed by another, quite
as comforting and as thoughtful. Cockburn, the moment
Oliver's back touched the wall, had handed him
a tooth-brush mug without a handle, filled to the brim
with a decoction of Cockburn's own brewing, compounded
hot according to McFudd's receipt, and
poured from an earthen pitcher kept within reach of
Cockburn's hand, and to which Oliver, in accordance
with his habitual custom, had merely touched his lips,
he being the most temperate of young gentlemen.
While they talked on, stopping now and then
to listen to some outburst of Cranch, whose voice
drowned all others--or to snatches of song from Wenby
Simmons, the musician, or from Julius Bianchi,
Waller's voice managed to make itself felt above the
din with an earnestness that gained the attention and
calmed all the others.
"You don't know what you're all talking about,"
he was heard to say. He was still astride his chair,
his pipe in his hand. "Inness's picture was the best
thing we had in the Exhibition, except Eastman
Johnson's 'Negro Life at the South.' Kensett's
'Lake George' was--"
"What--that Inness smear?" retorted "My
Lord" Cockburn, who still stood with the coal-scuttle
in his hand ready for another chorus. "Positively,
Waller, you Americans amuse me. Do you really
think that you've got anybody about you who can
paint anything worth having--"
"Oh! oh! Hear the high-cockalorum! Oh! oh!"
The sheep-painter raised his hand to command
"Do I think we've got anybody about here who
can paint?--you fog-headed noodle from Piccadilly?
We've got a dozen young fellows in this very town
that put more real stuff into their canvases than all
your men put together. They don't tickle their
things to death with detail. They get air and vitality
and out-of-doors into their work, and--"
"Names! Names!" shouted "My Lord" Cockburn,
rattling the scuttle to drown the answers to
"George Inness for one, and young McEntee and
Sanford Gifford, and Eastman Johnson, Page, Casilear
--a lot of them," shouted "The Walrus." "Go
to the Exhibition and see for yourself, and you--"
The rest of the discussion was lost to Oliver's ears
owing to the roar of Cranch's fog-horn, accompanied
by another vigorous shaking of the scuttle, which
the auctioneer caught away from "My Lord" Cockburn's
grasp, and the pounding of Simmons's fingers
on the yellow keys of the wheezy piano.
The tribute to Inness had not been missed by Oliver,
despite the deafening noise accompanying its
utterance. He remembered another green smear,
that hung in Mr. Crocker's studio, to which that old
enthusiast always pointed as the work of a man who
would yet be heard from if he lived. He had never
appreciated it himself at the time, but now he saw that
Mr. Crocker must be right.
Someone now started the chorus--
Down among the dead men, down.
Instantly every man was on his feet crowding
about the piano, Oliver catching the inspiration of the
moment and joining in with the others. The quality
of his voice must have caught the ear of some of the
singers, for they gradually lowered their tones; leaving
Oliver's voice almost alone.
Fred's eye glowed with pleasure. His new-found
friend was making a favorable impression. He at
once urged Oliver to sing one of his own Southern
songs as the darkies sung them at home, and not as
they were caricatured by the end men in the minstrel
Oliver, at first abashed, and then anxious to contribute
something of his own in return for all the
pleasure they had given him, hummed the tune for
Simmons, and in the hush that followed began one of
the old plantation songs that Malachi had taught him,
De old black dog he bay at de moon,
Away down yan ribber.
Miss Bull-frog say she git dar soon,
Away down yan ribber.
As the melody rang through the room, now full
and strong, now plaintive as the cooing of a dove or
the moan of a whippoorwill, the men stood stock-still,
their wondering eyes fixed on the singer, and it was
not until the timely arrival of the Bull-frog and the
escape of her lover had been fully told that the listening
crowd allowed themselves to do much more than
breathe. Then there came a shout that nearly raised
the roof. The peculiar sweetness of Oliver's voice,
the quaintness of the melody, the grotesqueness of
his gestures--for it was pantomime as well as music
--and the quiet simplicity and earnestness with which
it had all been done, had captivated every man in the
room. It was Oliver's first triumph--the first in all
And the second was not far off, for in the midst
of all the uproar that followed, as he resumed his
place on the floor, Cockburn sprang to his feet and
proposed Mr. Oliver Horn as a full member of the
Skylarkers' Club. This was carried unanimously,
and a committee of two, consisting of "Ruffle-shirt"
Tomlins and Waller, were forthwith appointed to
acquaint the said member, who stood three feet away,
of his election, and to escort him to Tomlins's chair--
the largest and most imposing-looking one in the
room. This action was indorsed by the shouts and
cat-calls of all present, accompanied by earthquake
shakings of the coal-scuttle and the rattling of chairlegs
and canes on the floor.
Oliver rose to his feet and stood blushing like a
girl, thanking those about him in halting sentences
for the honor conferred upon him. Then he stammered
something about his not deserving their praise,
for he could really sing very few songs--only those
he had sung at home to help out an occasional chorus,
and that he would be delighted to join in another
song if any one of the gentlemen present would start
These last suggestions being eminently distasteful
to the group, were immediately drowned in a series of
protests, the noise only ceasing when "Fog-horn"
Cranch mounted a chair and in his best real estate
voice commanded silence.
"Ladies and Gentlemen," thundered the auctioneer,
"I have the honor to announce that the great
barytone, Mr. Oliver Horn, known to the universe as
the 'Musical Cornucopia,' late of the sunny South,
and now a resident of this metropolis, will delight
this company by singing one of those soul-moving
plantation melodies which have made his name famous
over two hemispheres. Mr. 'Pussy Me-ow'
Simmons, the distinguished fiddling pianist, late of
the Bowery, very late, I may remark, and now on
the waiting list at Wallack's Theatre--every other
month, I am told--will accompany him."
"Hear! Hear!" "Horn! Horn!" "Don't let
him get away, Fred." "Song! Song!" was heard
all over the room.
Oliver again tried to protest, but he was again
shouted down by cries of--
"None of that!" "Can't fool us." "You know
a barrel of 'em." "Song! Song!"
Cranch broke in again--"Mr. Horn's modesty,
gentlemen, greatly endears him to his fellow-members,
and we love him the better for it, but all the
same--" and he raised his hand with the same gesture
he would have used had it held an auctioneer's
hammer-- "All in favor of his singing again say
'Aye!' Going! Going! Gone! The ayes have it."
In the midst of the cheering Cranch jumped from the
chair and taking Oliver by the hand as if he had been
a young prima donna at her first appearance, led him
to the piano with all the airs and graces common to
such an occasion.
Our young hero hesitated a moment, looked about
in a pleased but helpless way, and nerving himself
tried to collect his thoughts sufficiently to recall some
one of the songs that were so familiar to him at
home. Then Sue's black eyes looked into his--there
must always be a woman helping Oliver--and the
strains of the last song he had sung with her the night
before he left home floated through his brain.
(These same eyes were gazing into another's at the
moment, but our young Oliver was unconscious of
that lamentable fact.)
"Did you ever happen to hear 'The Old Kentucky
Home'?" Oliver asked Simmons. "No? Well,
it goes this way," and he struck the chords.
"You play it," said Simmons, rising from the
"Oh, I can only play the chords, and not all
of them right--" and he took Simmons's seat.
"Perhaps I can get through--I'll try it," he added,
simply, and squared himself before the instrument
and began the melody.
The sun shines bright in the old Kentucky home,
'Tis summer, the darkies are gay.
The corn-top's ripe and the meadow is in bloom,
While the birds make music all the day.
Weep no more, my lady--oh, weep no more to-day!
We'll sing one song for the old Kentucky home,
For the old Kentucky home far away.
As the words rolled from his lips Oliver seemed to
forget the scene before him. Somehow he could see
the light in Sue's eyes, as she listened, and hear her
last words. He could hear the voice of his mother,
and feel her hand on his head; and then, as the soft
vowels and cadences of the quaint melody breathed
themselves out, he could catch again the expression
of delight on the face of Malachi--who had taught
him the song--as he listened, his black cheek in
his wrinkled palm. It was a supreme moment with
Oliver. The thrill of happiness that had quivered
through him for days, intensified by this new
heaven of Bohemia, vibrated in every note he uttered.
The effect was equally startling on those about
him. Cranch craned his head, and for once lowered
his voice to a whisper in speaking to the man next
him. Bowdoin, the painter, and one of the guests,
left his seat and tip-toed to the piano, his eyes riveted
on Oliver's face, his whole being absorbed in the
melody. Bianchi and Waller so far lost themselves
that their pipes went out, while Simmons was so entranced
that he forgot to applaud when Oliver finished.
The effect produced was not so much due to the
quality in Oliver's voice--sweet and sympathetic as
it was--nor to his manner of singing, nor to the sentiment
of the song itself, but to the fact of its being,
with its clear, sweet notes, a positive contrast to all of
noise and clamor that had gone before. This fact,
more than any other, made his listeners hold their
breath in wonder and delight. It came like the song
of a bird bursting out after a storm and charming
everyone with the beauty of its melody, while the
thunder of the tempest still reverberated through the
In the hush of the death-like stillness that followed,
the steady tramp of feet was heard on the
staircase, and the next instant the head of a young
man, with a rosy face and side-chop coachman whiskers,
close-cut black hair and shoe-button eyes,
glistening with fun, was craned around the jamb of
It was the property of Mr. Cornelius McFudd!
He was in full evening dress, and as immaculate
as if he had stepped out of a bandbox.
Whatever stimulants had permeated his system and
fired his imagination had evidently escaped his legs,
for they were as steady as those of a tripod. His
entrance, in a measure, restored the assemblage to
its normal condition. Mr. McFudd raised his hand
impressively, checking the customary outbreak that
always greeted his appearance on occasions like this,
struck a deprecatory attitude and said, solemnly, in
a rich, North-of-Ireland accent:
"Gentlemen, it is with the greatest surprise that
I find ye contint to waste your time over such riotous
proceedings as I know have taken place here to-night,
when within a block of yez is a perfarmance that
would delight yer souls. Think of a man throwing
a hand-spring over--"
At this instant a wet sponge was fired point blank
from an open bedroom door, missed McFudd's head
by an inch and bounded down the staircase.
"Thank ye, Admiral Lord Cockburn, for yer civility,"
cried McFudd, bowing low to the open bedroom
door, "and for yer good intintions, but ye missed
it as yer did yer mither's blessing--and as ye do most
of the things ye try io hit." This was said without
raising his voice or changing a muscle of his face, his
eyes fixed on the door inside of which stood Cockburn.
McFudd continued, "The perfarmance of this
acrobat is one of the--"
Cries of "Don't you see you disturb the music?"
"Go to bed!" "Somebody sit on McFudd!" etc.,
filled the room.
"Go on, gentlemen. Continue your insults; defame
the name of an honest man who is attimpting
to convey to yer dull comprehinsions some idea of
the wonders of the acrobatic ring. I'll turn a hand-spring
for yez meself that will illustrate what I mane,"
and Mr. McFudd carefully removed his coat and began
sliding up his shirt-cuffs.
At this juncture "My Lord" Cockburn, who had
come from behind the door, winked significantly at
Waller, and creeping on all fours behind McFudd,
just as that gentleman was about lifting his legs aloft,
swept him off his feet by a twist of his arm, and deposited
him on the small of his back next to Oliver,
his head resting against the wall. There Waller
stood over him with a chair, which he threatened to
turn over him upside down and sit on if the prostrate
Irishman moved an inch.
McFudd waved his hand sadly as if in acquiescence
to the inscrutable laws of fate, begged the gentlemen
present to give no further thought to his existence,
and after a moment of silence continued his remarks
on the acrobatic ring to Oliver in the same monotonous
tone of voice which he had addressed to the
room before Cockburn's flank movement had made
him bite the dust.
"It may seem to you, Mr.-- Mr.--, I haven't
your name, sir," and he bent his head toward
"Horn, sir," Oliver suggested. "Oliver Horn."
"Thanks, it may seem to you that I'm exaggerating,
Mr. Oliver Horn, the wonder of this perfarmance,
The rest of the sentence, despite the Hibernian's
well-intentioned efforts, was not addressed to Oliver,
but to the room at large, or rather to its furniture,
or to be still more exact, to the legs of the piano, and
such chairs and tables as the Irishman's prostrate
body bumped into on the way to his room. For at
that instant Waller, to save Oliver, as he pretended,
from further annoyance, had caught the distinguished
Hibernian by both feet, and in that position dragged
him along the floor, as if he had been a wheelbarrow,
McFudd's voice never changing its tone as he continued
his remarks on physical culture, and the benefits
which would accrue to the human race if they
would practice the acrobat's hand-spring.
When Fred and Oliver had closed their bedroom
door for the night, the guests having departed and
all the regular boarders being supposedly secure in
their beds (Fred without much difficulty had persuaded
Oliver to share his own bed over night), there
came a knock at Fred's door, and the irrepressible
Irishman stalked in.
He had removed his vest, high collar, and shoes,
and had the air and look of an athlete. The marvellous
skill of the acrobat still occupied his mind.
"Don't disturb yourself, my dear Stone, but me
deloightful conversation with yer friend, Mr. Horn,
was interrupted by that wild beast of a Waller, and I
wanted to finish it. I am quite sure I can do it--the
trick I was telling ye of. I've been practizing in
me room. It's as easy as rolling off a jaunting
"No, Mac, old man. Go to bed again," pleaded
"Not till I show ye, me boy, one of the most beautiful
feats of agility--"
"Come off, Mac, I say," cried Fred, catching the
Irishman around the waist.
"I'll come nothing! Unhand me, gentlemen, or
by the--" and tearing himself free McFudd threw a
hand-spring with the ease of a professional, toppled,
for a moment, his feet in the air, scraped along the
whitewashed wall with his heels, and sweeping the
basins and pitchers filled with water from the wash-
stand measured his length on the floor. Then came
the crash of broken china, a deluge of water, and
Fred and Oliver began catching up sponges and towels
to stay the flood.
A minute later a man in a long gray beard and
longer night-robe--one of the regular boarders--
bounded up the stairs two steps at a time and dashed
through Fred's open door.
"By thunder, boys!" he cried, "I don't mind how
much noise you make, rather like it; but what the
devil are you trying to drown us out for? Wife is
soaking--it's puddling down on our bed."
By this time every door had been flung open, and
the room was filled with half-dressed men.
"It's that lunatic, McFudd. He's been to the circus
and thinks he's Martello," cried Fred, pointing
to the prostrate Irishman with the sponge which he
had been squeezing out in the coal-scuttle.
"Or the clown," remarked Waller, stooping over
McFudd, who was now holding his sides and roaring
Long after Fred had fallen asleep, Oliver lay awake
thinking of the night's pleasure. He had been very,
very happy--happier than he had been for many
months. The shouts of approval on his election to
membership, the rounds of applause that had followed
his rendering of the simple negro melodies,
resounded in his ears, and the joy of it all still tingled
through his veins. This first triumph of his life had
brought with it a certain confidence in himself--a
new feeling of self-reliance--of being able to hold
his own among men, something he had never experienced
before. This made it all the more exhilarating.
And the company!
Real live painters who sold their pictures and who
had studied in Munich, and who knew Paris and
Dresden and all the wonderful cities of which Mr.
Crocker had talked. And real musicians, too!--who
played at theatres; and Englishmen from London,
and Irishmen from Dublin, and all so jolly and
unconventional and companionable. It was just as Mr.
Crocker had described it, and just what he had about
despaired of ever finding. Surely his cup of happiness
was full to the brim.
We can forgive him; we who still remember those
glimpses behind the scenes--our first and never-to-
be-forgotten! How real everything seemed, even
the grease-paint, the wigs, and the clothes. And
the walking gentleman and the leading old man and
low comedian! What splendid fellows they were
and how we sympathized with them in their enforced
exiles from a beloved land. How they suffered
from scheming brothers who had robbed them
of their titles and estates, or flint-hearted fathers
who had turned them out of doors because of
their infatuation for their "art" or because of their
love for some dame of noble birth or simple lass,
whose name--"Me boy, will be forever sacred!"
How proud we were of knowing them, and how delighted
they were at knowing us--and they so much
older too! And how tired we got of it all--and of
them--and of all their kind when our eyes became
accustomed to the glare and we saw how cheap and
commonplace it all was and how much of its glamour
and charm had come from our own inexperience and
As Oliver lay with wide-open eyes, going over
every incident of the evening, he remembered, with
a certain touch of exultant pride, a story his father
had told him of the great Poe, and he fell to wondering
whether the sweetness of his own song, falling on
ears stunned by the jangle of the night, had not produced
a similar effect. Poe, his father had said, on
being pressed for a story in the midst of a night of
revelry in a famous house on Kennedy Square, had
risen from his seat and repeated the Lord's Prayer
with such power and solemnity that the guests, one
and all, stunned and sobered, had pushed their chairs
from the table and had left the house. He remembered
just where his father sat when he told the story
and the impression it had made upon him at the time.
He wished Kennedy Square had been present to-
night to have heard him and to have seen the impression
his song had made upon those gathered
Kennedy Square! What would dear old Richard
Horn, with his violin tucked lovingly under his chin,
and gentle, white-haired Nathan, with his lips caressing
his flute, have thought of it all, as they listened
to the uproar of Cockburn's coal-scuttle? And, that
latter-day Chesterfield, Colonel John Howard Clayton,
of Pongateague, whose pipe-stemmed Madeira
glasses were kept submerged in iced finger-bowls until
the moment of their use, and whose rare Burgundies
were drunk out of ruby-colored soap-bubbles warmed
to an exact temperature. What would this old
aristocrat have thought of McFudd's mixture and the
way it was served?
No! It was just as well that Kennedy Square, at
the moment of Oliver's triumph, was fast asleep.
MISS TEETUM'S LONG TABLE
The prying sun peeped through the dingy curtains
of Fred's bedroom on the morning after Oliver's
revels, stencilling a long slant of yellow light down
its grimy walls, and awaking our young hero with a
start. Except for the shattered remnants of the
basins and pitchers that he saw as he looked around
him, and the stringy towels, still wet, hanging over
the backs of the chairs, he would not have recognized
it as the same room in which he had met such
brilliant company the night before--so kindly a
glamour does the night throw over our follies.
With the vision of the room and its tokens of
their frolic came an uneasy sense of an unpleasant
remembrance. The thrill of his own triumph no
longer filled his heart; only the memory of the uproar
remained. As he caught sight of the broken
pieces of china still littering the carpet, and recalled
McFudd's sprawling figure, a slight color suffused his
The room itself, in the light of day, was not only
cold and uninviting, but so bare of even the commonest
comforts that Oliver shivered. The bottoms were
half out of the chairs; the painted wash-stand stood
on a square of chilly oil-cloth; the rusty grate and
broken hearth were unswept of their ashes; the carpet
patched and threadbare. He wondered, as he
studied each detail, how Miss Teetum could expect
her boarders to be contented in such quarters.
He saw at a glance how much more cosey and restful
the room might be made with the addition of a
few touches here and there; a colored print or two--
a plaster cast--a bit of cheap stuff or some gay-colored
cushions. It surprised him, above all, to discover
that Fred, who was studying art and should,
therefore, be sensitive to such influences, was willing
to live amid such desolate surroundings.
When he stepped out into the square hall, the
scene of the night's revelry, and glanced about him,
the crude bareness and reckless disorder that the merciful
glow of the gas-light and its attendant shadows
had kindly concealed, stood out in bold relief under
the white light of the day now streaming through an
oval skylight immediately above the piano. The
floor was strewn with the various properties of the
night's performance--overturned stools, china mugs,
bits of lemon-peel, stumps of cigars, and stray pipes;
while scattered about under the piano and between
the legs of the chairs, and even upon the steps of the
staircase, were the pieces of coal which Fog-horn
Cranch and Waller, who held the scuttle, had
pounded into bits when they produced that wild jangle
which had added so much of dignity and power to
the bass notes of the Dead Man's Chorus.
These cold facts aroused in Oliver a sense of repugnance
which he could not shake off. It was as
if the head of some jolly clown of the night before
had been suddenly thrust through the canvas of the
tent in broad daylight, showing the paint, the
wrinkles beneath, the yellow teeth, and the coarse
Oliver was about to turn back to Fred's room, this
feeling of revolt strong upon him, when his attention
was arrested by a collection of drawings that covered
almost every square inch of the ceiling. To his
astonishment he discovered that what in the smoke of the
night before he had supposed to be only hasty
sketches scrawled over the white plaster, were in
reality, now that he saw them in a clearer atmosphere,
effective pictures in pastel, oil, and charcoal.
That the basis of these cartoons was but the grimy
stain made by the water which had beaten through
the rickety sash during the drive and thrash of winter
storms, flooding the whitewashed ceiling and trickling
down the side-walls in smears of brown rust, did
not lessen their value in his eyes.
Closer inspection showed him that these discolorations
--some round or curved, others straight or
angular--had been altered and amended as the signatures
indicated by the deft pencils of Waller, Fred,
Bowdoin, and the others, into flying Cupids, Dianas,
Neptunes, and mermaids fit to grace the ceiling of
a salon if properly enlarged; while the up-and-down
smears had suggested the opportunity for caricaturing
half the boarders of the house. Every fresh leak
and its accompanying stains evidently presented a
new problem to the painters, and were made the subject
of prolonged study and much consultation before
a brush was permitted to touch them, the point apparently
being to help the discolorations express themselves
with the fewest possible touches.
In addition to these decorations overhead, Oliver
found, framed in on the cleaner plaster of the side-
walls, between broad bands of black paint, several
taking bits of landscape in color and black and white;
stretches of coast with quaint boats and dots of figures;
winter wood interiors with white plaster for
snow and scrapings of charcoal for tree-trunks, each
one marked with that sure crispness of touch which
denotes the master-hand. Moreover, the panels of all
the doors, as well as their jambs and frames, were
ornamented with sketches in all mediums, illustrating
incidents in the lives of the various boarders
who occupied the rooms below, and who--so Fred
told him afterward--stole into this sacred spot on the
sly, to gloat over the night's work whenever a new
picture was reported and the rightful denizens were
known to be absent.
As he stood absorbed before these marvels of
brush and pencil, scrutinizing each one in turn, his
sense of repulsion for the debris on the floor gave
way to a feeling of enthusiasm. Not only were the
sketches far superior to any he had ever seen, but
the way in which they were done and the uses of the
several mediums were a revelation to him. It was
only when Fog-horn Cranch's big voice roused him
to consciousness that he realized where he was. The
auctioneer was coming out of his room, resplendent
in a striped suit, gaiters, and white necktie--this being
his real-estate day.
"My dear fellow," Cranch shouted, bringing his
hand down on Oliver's shoulder, "do you know
you've got a voice like an angel's?"
Before Oliver could reply, My Lord Cockburn
joined them, his first word one of pleasure at meeting
him, and his second a hope that he would know
him better; then Fred ran out, flinging on his coat
and laughing as he came. Under these combined
influences of praise and good-cheer Oliver's spirits
rose and his blood began once more to surge through
his veins. With his old-time buoyancy he put his arm
through Fred's, while the two tramped gayly down
the four flights of stairs to be ushered into the long,
narrow, stuffy dining-room on the basement floor,
there to be presented to the two Misses Teetum, who
as the young men entered bent low over their plates
in unison. This perfunctory salute our young gentleman
acknowledged by bowing grandly in return,
after which he dropped into a seat next to Fred's--
his back to a tin box filled with plates, placed over the
hot-air register--drew out a damp napkin from a
bone ring, and took a bird's-eye view of the table and
The two Misses Teetum sat one at either end--
Miss Ann, thin, severe, precise; Miss Sarah, stout,
coy, and a trifle kittenish, as doubtless became a
young woman of forty-seven, and her sister's junior
by eight years. Miss Ann had evidently passed the
dead-line of middle age, and had given up the fight,
and was fast becoming a very prim and very proper
old lady, but Miss Sarah, being out of range, could
still smile, and nod her head, and shake her curls,
and laugh little, hollow, girlish laughs, and otherwise
disport herself in a light and kittenish way, after
the manner of her day and age. All of which betrayed
not only her earnest desire to please, but her
increasing anxiety to get in under matrimonial cover
before one of Father Time's sharpshooters picked
her off, and thus ended her youthful career.
The guests seated on either side of these two presiding
goddesses, Oliver was convinced, as he studied
the double row of faces, would have stretched the
wondering eyelids of Kennedy Square to their utmost
Old Mr. Lang, who with his invalid wife occupied
the room immediately below Fred's, and who had
been so nearly drowned out the night before because
of McFudd's acrobatic tendencies, sat on Fred's left.
Properly clothed and in his right mind, he proved to
be a most delightful old gentleman, with gold spectacles
and snow-white side-whiskers, and a welcoming
smile for everyone who entered. Fred said that the
smile never wavered even when the old gentleman
had been up all night with his wife.
Across the table, with her eye-glasses trained on
Oliver, half concealed by a huge china "compoteer"
(to quote the waitress), and at present filled with last
week's fruit, caulked with almonds, sat Mrs. Southwark
Boggs--sole surviving relic of S. B., Esq. This
misfortune she celebrated by wearing his daguerreotype,
set in plain gold, as a brooch with which she
fastened her crocheted collar. She was a thin, faded,
funereal-looking person, her body encased in a black
silk dress, which looked as if it had been pressed and
ironed over night, and her hands in black silk mitts
which reached to her knuckles.
On Mrs. Boggs's right sat Bates--a rising young
lawyer with political tendencies--one of the first men
to cut his hair so "Zou-Zou" that it stood straight
up from his forehead; and next to him Morgan, the
editor, who pored over manuscript while his coffee
got cold; and then Nelson, and Webster, and Cummings
all graded in Miss Ann's mind as being eight,
or ten, or twelve-dollar-a-week men, depending on
the rooms that they occupied, and farther along, toward
Miss Sarah, Cranch and Cockburn--five-dollar
boys these (Fred was another), with the privilege of
lighting their own coke fires, and of trimming the
wicks and filling the bulbs of their own burning-fluid
lamps. And away down in the far corner, crumpled
up in his chair, crouched the cheery little hunchback,
Mr. Crumbs, who kept a book-stall on Astor
Place, where Bayard Taylor, Irving, Halleck,
Bryant, and many another member of the Century
Club used to spend their late afternoons delving
among the old volumes on his shelves.
All these regular boarders, including Fog-horn
Cranch and Fred, breakfasted at eight o'clock.
Waller, the painter, and Tomlins, the swell, breakfasted
at nine. As to that descendant of the Irish
kings, Mr. Cornelius McFudd, he rose at ten, or
twelve, or two, just as the spirit (and its dilutions of
the night before) moved or retarded him, and breakfasted
whenever Miss Ann or Miss Sarah, who had
presided continuously at the coffee-urn from eight
to ten, could spare one of her two servants to carry
a tray to his room.
Last and by no means least, with her eyes devouring
every expression that flitted across the new arrival's
face, there beamed out beside Miss Ann, a
tail, willowy young person, whom Fred, in answer to
an inquiring lifting of Oliver's eyebrows, designated
as the belle of the house. This engaging young
woman really lived with her mother, in the next
street, but flitted in and out, dining, or breakfasting,
or spending a week at a time with her
aunts, the Misses Teetum, whenever an opportunity
offered--the opportunity being a vacant and non-
paying room, one of which she was at the time
This fair damsel, who was known to the boarders
on the top floor as "our Phemy," and to the world at
large as Miss Euphemia Teetum--the real jewel in
her name was Phoebe, but she had reset it--had been
especially beloved, so Fred informed Oliver, by every
member of the club except Waller, who, having
lived in boarding-houses all his life, understood her
thoroughly. Her last flame--the fire was still smouldering
--had been the immaculate Tomlins, who had
won her heart by going into raptures, in one of his
stage whispers, over the classic outlines of her face.
This outburst resulted in Miss Euphemia appearing
the following week in a silk gown, a Greek fillet and
no hoops--a costume which Waller faithfully portrayed
on the side-wall of the attic the night of her
appearance--the fillet being reproduced by a strip of
brass which the artist had torn from his easel and
nailed to the plaster, and the classic curves of her hair
by a ripple of brown paint.
This caricature nearly provoked a riot before the
night was over, the whole club, including even the
fun-loving McFudd, denouncing. Waller's act as an
outrage. In fact, the Hibernian himself had once
been so completely taken off his feet--it was the first
week of his stay--by the winning ways of the young
lady, that Miss Ann had begun to have high hopes of
Euphemia's being finally installed mistress in one of
those shadowy estates which the distinguished Hibernian
described with such eloquence. That these
hopes did not materialize was entirely due to Cockburn,
who took pains to enlighten the good woman
upon the intangible character of the Hibernian's
possessions, thus saving the innocent maiden from the
clutches of the bold, bad adventurer. At least, that
had been Cockburn's account of it when he came
But it was at dinner that same night--for Oliver
at Fred's pressing invitation had come back to dinner
--that the full galaxy of guests and regulars burst
upon our hero. Then came not only Miss Euphemia
Teetum in a costume especially selected for Oliver's
capture, but a person still more startling and imposing
--so imposing, in fact, that when she entered the
room one-half of the gentlemen present made little
backward movements with the legs of their chairs,
as if intending to rise to their feet in honor of her
This prominent figure in fashionable life, who had
now settled herself on the right of Miss Ann--the
post of honor at the table--and who was smiling in
so gracious and condescending a manner as her eye
lighted on the several recipients of her favor, was
none other than the distinguished Mrs. Schuyler Van
Tassell, of Tarrytown, another bird of passage, who
had left her country-seat on the Hudson to spend the
winter months in what she called the delights of
"upper-tandem." She belonged to an ancient family--or,
at least, her husband did--he was under the sod, poor
soul, and therefore at peace--and, having inherited
his estate--a considerable one--was to be treated
with every distinction.
These several personages of low and high degree
interested our young gentleman quite as much as
our young gentleman interested them. He made
friends with them all--especially with the ladies, who
all agreed that he was a most charming and accomplished
youth. This good opinion became permanent
when Oliver had paid each in turn the compliment
of rising from his seat when any one of them entered
the room, as much a habit with the young fellow as
the taking off of his hat when he came into a house,
but which was so rare a courtesy at Miss Teetum's
that each recipient appropriated the compliment as
personal to herself.
These sentiments of admiration were shared, and
to an alarming degree, by Miss Euphemia herself,
who, on learning later that Oliver had decided to
occupy half of Fred's room through the winter,
had at once determined to remain during the week,
the better to lay siege to his heart. This resolution,
it is fair to Oliver to say, she abandoned before
dinner was over, when her experienced eye detected
a certain amused if not derisive smile playing around
the corners of Oliver's mouth; a discovery which so
impressed the young woman that she left him severely
alone ever after.
And so it was that Oliver unpacked his trunk--the
same old hair trunk, studded with brass nails, that
had held his father's wardrobe at college--spread out
and tacked up the various knick-knacks which his
mother and Sue and Miss Clendenning had given him
when he had left the old home, and began to make
himself comfortable on the top floor of Miss Teetum's
boarding-house on Union Square.
MCFUDD'S BRASS BAND
Our hero had been installed at Miss Teetum's for
a month or more, when one night at dinner a tiny
envelope about the size of a visiting-card was brought