Part 4 out of 9
in by the middle-aged waitress and laid beside Simmons's
plate. The envelope contained six orchestra
seats at the Winter Garden and was accompanied by
a note which read as follows: "Bring some of the
boys; the piece drags."
The musician studied the note carefully and a
broad smile broke over his face. As one of the first
violins at the Winter Garden, with a wide acquaintance
among desirable patrons of the theatre, he had
peculiar facilities for obtaining free private boxes
and orchestra chairs not only at his own theatre, but
often at Wallack's in Broome Street and the old Bowery.
Simmons was almost always sure to have
tickets when the new piece needed booming, or when
an old play failed to amuse and the audiences had
begun to shrink. Indeed, the mystery of Mrs.
Schuyler Van Tassell's frequent appearance in the
left-hand proscenium box at the Winter Garden on
Friday nights--a mystery unexplained among the
immediate friends in Tarrytown, who knew how she
husbanded her resources despite her accredited
wealth--was no mystery at all to the guests at Miss
Teetum's table, who were in the habit of seeing
just such tiny envelopes handed to Simmons during
soup, and duly passed by him to that distinguished
leader of society. Should more than two tickets be
enclosed, Mrs. Van T. would, perhaps, invite. Mr.
Ruffle-shirt Tomlins, or some other properly attired
person, to accompany her--never Miss Ann or the
little hunchback, who dearly loved the play, but who
could seldom afford to go--never anybody, in fact,
who wore plain clothes or looked a compromising
On this night, however, Pussy Me-ow Simmons,
ignoring Mrs. Van Tassell, turned to Oliver.
"Ollie," he whispered--the formalities had ceased
between the members of the Skylarks--"got anything
to do to-night?"
And then, Simmons, with various imaginary
poundings of imaginary canes on the threadbare carpet
beneath his chair, and with sundry half-smothered
bursts of real laughter in which Fred and Oliver
joined, unfolded his programme for the evening--a
programme which was agreed to so rapturously that
the trio before dinner was over excused themselves
to their immediate neighbors and bounded upstairs,
three steps at a time. There they pulled the Walrus
out of his bed and woke up McFudd, who had gone to
sleep before dinner, and whom nobody had called.
Then having sent my Lord Cockburn to find Ruffle-
shirt Tomlins, who by this time was paying court to
Miss Euphemia in the front parlor, and having pinned
a ticket to Mr. Fog-horn Cranch's door, with instructions
to meet them in the lobby the moment he returned,
they all slipped on their overcoats, picked up
their canes, and started for the theatre.
Six young fellows, all with red blood in their veins,
steel springs under their toes and laughter in their
hearts! Six comrades, pals, good-fellows, skipping
down the avenue as gay as colts and happy as boys--
no thought for to-day and no care for to-morrow!
Each man with a free ticket in his pocket and a show
ahead of him. No wonder the bluecoats looked after
them and smiled; no wonder the old fellow with the
shaky legs, waiting at the corner for one of the
squad to help him over, gave a sigh as he watched
McFudd, with cane in air, drilling his recruits, all five
abreast. No wonder the tired shop-girls glanced at
them enviously as they swung into Broadway chanting
the "Dead Man's Chorus," with Oliver's voice
sounding clear as a bell above the din of the streets.
The play was a melodrama of the old, old school.
There was a young heroine in white, and a handsome
lover in top-boots and white trousers, and a cruel
uncle who wanted her property. And there was a
particularly brutal villain with leery eyes, ugly
mouth, with one tooth gone, and an iron jaw like a
hull-dog's. He was attired in a fur cap, brown corduroy
jacket, with a blood-red handkerchief twisted
about his throat, and he carried a bludgeon. When
the double-dyed villain proceeded in the third act to
pound the head of the lovely maiden to a jelly at the
instigation of the base uncle, concealed behind a
painted tree-trunk, and the lover rushed in and tried
to save her, every pair of hands except Oliver's came
together in raptures of applause, assisted by a vigorous
hammering of canes on the floor.
"Pound away, Ollie," whispered Simmons;
"that's what we came for; you are spoiling all our
fun. The manager is watching us. Pound away, I
tell you. There he is inside that box."
"I won't," said Oliver, in a tone of voice strangely
in contrast with the joyousness of an hour before.
"Then you won't get any more free tickets,"
muttered Simmons in surprise.
"I don't want them. I don't believe in murdering
people on the stage, or anywhere else. That man's
face is horrible; I'm sorry I came."
Simmons laughed, and, shielding his mouth with
his hand, repeated Oliver's outburst to Waller, who,
having first sent news of it down the line, reached
over and shook Oliver's hand gravely, while he wiped
a theatrical tear from his eye; while my Lord Cockburn,
with feet and hands still busy, returned word
to Oliver by Tomlins, "not to make a colossal ass of
himself." Oliver bore their ridicule good-naturedly,
but without receding from his opinion in any way,
a fact which ultimately raised him in the estimation
of the group. Only when the villain was thrown over
the pasteboard cliff into a canvas sea by the gentleman
in top-boots, to be devoured by sharks or cut
up by pirates, or otherwise disposed of as befitted
so blood-thirsty and cruel a monster, did Oliver join
in the applause.
The play over, and Simmons having duly reported
to the manager--who was delighted with the activity
of the feet, but who advised that next time the sticks
be left at home--the happy party sailed up Broadway,
this time by threes and twos, swinging their
canes as before, and threading their way in and out
of the throngs that filled the street.
The first stop was made at the corner of Thirteenth
Street by McFudd, who turned his troop abruptly to
the right and marched them down a flight of steps
into a cellar, where they immediately attacked a huge
wash-tub filled with steamed clams, and covered with
a white cloth to keep them hot. This was the bar's
free lunch. The clams devoured--six each--and the
necessary beers paid for, the whole party started to
retrace their steps, when Simmons stopped to welcome
a new-corner who had entered the cellar unperceived
by the barkeeper, and who was bending
over the wash-tub of clams, engaged in picking out
the smallest of the bivalves with the end of all iron
fork. He had such a benevolent, kindly face, and
was so courtly in his bearing, and spoke with so soft
and gentle a voice, that Oliver, who stood next to
Simmons, lingered to listen.
"Oh, my dear Simmons," cried the old gentleman,
"we missed you to-night. When are you coming
back to us? The orchestra is really getting to be
deplorable. Miss Gannon quite broke down in her
song. We must protest, my boy; we must protest.
I saw you in front, but you should be wielding the
baton. And is this young gentleman one of your
"Yes--Mr. Horn. Ollie, let me introduce you to
Mr. Gilbert, the actor"--and he laid his hand on
Oliver's shoulder--"dear John Gilbert, as we always
Oliver looked up into the kindly, sweet face of the
man, and a curious sensation passed over him. Could
this courtly, perfectly well-bred old gentleman, with
his silver-white hair, beaming smile and gentle voice,
the equal of any of his father's guests, be an actor?
Could he possibly belong to the profession which,
of all others, Oliver had been taught to despise? The
astonishment of our young hero was so great that
for a moment he could not speak.
Simmons thought he read Oliver's mind, and came
to his rescue.
"My friend, Mr. Horn, did not like the play to-
night, Mr. Gilbert," he said. "He thinks the
death-scene was horrible"--and Simmons glanced
smiling at the others who stood at a little distance
watching the interview with great interest.
"Dear me, dear me, you don't say so. What was
it you objected to, may I ask?" There was a trace
of anxiety in his voice.
"Why, the murder-scene, sir. It seemed to me
too dreadful to kill a woman in that way. I haven't
forgotten it yet," and a distressed look passed over
Oliver's face. "But then I have seen but very few
plays," he added--"none like that."
The old actor looked at him with a relieved expression.
"Ah, yes, I see. Yes, you're indeed right. As
you say, it is quite a dreadful scene."
"Oh, then you've seen it yourself, sir," said Oliver,
in a relieved tone.
The old actor's eyes twinkled. He, too, had read
the young man's mind--not a difficult task when one
looked down into Oliver's eyes.
"Oh, many, many times," he answered with a
smile. "I have known it for years. In the old days,
when they would smash the poor lady's head, they
used to have a pan of gravel which they would
crunch with a stick to imitate the breaking of the.
bones. It was quite realistic from the front, but that
was given up long ago. How did YOU like the business
to-night, Mr. Simmons?" and he turned to the
"Oh, admirable, sir. We all thought it had never
been better played or better put on," and he glanced
again toward his companions, who stood apart, listening
breathlessly to every word that fell from the
"Ah, I am glad of it. Brougham will be so pleased
--and yet it shocked you, Mr. Horn--and you really
think the poor lady minded it? Dear me! How
pleased she will be when I tell her the impression
it all made upon you. She's worked so hard over
the part and has been so nervous about it. I left her
only a moment ago--she and her husband wanted me
to take supper with them at Riley's--the new restaurant
on University Place, you know, famous for
its devilled crabs. But I always like to come here
for my clams. Allow me a moment--" and he bent
over the steaming tub, and skewering the contents of
a pair of shells with his iron fork held it out toward
"Let me beg of you, Mr. Horn, to taste this clam.
I am quite sure it is a particularly savory one. After
this my dear young friend, I hope you'll have a better
opinion of me." And his eye twinkled. "I am
really better than I look--indeed I am--and so, my
dear boy, is this clam. Come, come, it is getting
"What do you mean by 'a better opinion' of you,
Mr. Gilbert?" stammered Oliver. He had been completely
captivated by the charm of the actor's manner.
"Why shouldn't I think well of you?--I don't
"Why--because I strangled the poor lady to-
night. You know, of course--that it was I who
played the villain."
"You!" exclaimed Oliver. "No, I did not, sir.
Why, Mr. Gilbert, I can't realize--oh, I hope you'll
forgive me for what I've said. I've only been in New
York a short time, and--"
The old gentleman cut short Oliver's explanation
with a wave of his fork, and looking down into the
boy's face, said in a serious tone:
"My son, you're quite right. Quite right--and I
like you all the better for it. All such plays are dreadful
I feel just as you do about them, but what can
we actors do? The public will have it that way."
Another little prejudice toppled from its pedestal,
another household tradition of Oliver's smashed into
a thousand pieces at his feet! This rubbing and
grinding process of man against man; this seeing with
one's own eyes and not another's was fast rounding
out and perfecting the impressionable clay of our
young gentleman's mind. It was a lesson, too, the
scribe is delighted to say, which our hero never forgot;
nor did he ever forget the man who taught it.
One of his greatest delights in after-years was to raise
his hat to this incomparable embodiment of the dignity
and courtliness of the old school. The old gentleman
had long since forgotten the young fellow,
but that made no difference to Oliver--he would
cross the street any time to lift his hat to dear John
The introduction of the other members of the club
to the villain being over--they had stood the whole
time, they were listening to the actor, each head
uncovered--McFudd again marshalled his troop and
proceeded up Broadway, where, at Oliver's request,
they were halted at the pedestal of the big Bronze
Horse and within sight of their own quarters.
Here McFudd insisted that the club should sing
"God Save the Queen" to the Father of his Country,
where he sat astride of his horse, which was accordingly
done, much to the delight of a couple of night-
watchmen, who watched the entire performance and
who, upon McFudd's subsequent inspection, proved
to be fellow-countrymen of the distinguished Hibernian.
Had the buoyant and irrepressible Irishman been
content with this patriotic outburst as the final winding-
up of the night's outing, and had he then and
there betaken himself and his fellows off to bed, the
calamity which followed, and which so nearly wrecked
the Skylarks, might have been avoided.
It is difficult at any time to account for the workings
of Fate or to follow the course of its agents. The
track of an earth-worm destroys a dam; the parting
of a wire wrecks a bridge; the breaking of a root
starts an avalanche; the flaw in an axle dooms a
train; the sting of a microbe depopulates a city. But
none of these unseen, mysterious agencies was at
work--nothing so trivial wrecked the Skylarks.
It was a German street-band!
A band whose several members had watched
McFudd and his party from across the street, and
who had begun limbering their instruments before
the sextet had ceased singing; regarding the situation,
no doubt, as pregnant with tips.
McFudd did not give the cornet time to draw his
instrument from its woollen bag before he had him
by the arm.
"Don't put a mouthful of wind into that horn of
yours until I spake to ye," he cried in vociferous
The leader stopped and looked at him in a dazed
"I have an idea, gentlemen," added McFudd,
turning to his companion's, and tapping his forehead.
"I am of the opinion that this music would be wasted
on the night air, and so with your parmission I propose
to transfer this orchestra to the top flure, where
we can listen to their chunes at our leisure. Right
about, face! Forward! March!" and McFudd
advanced upon the band, wheeled the drum around,
and, locking arms with the cornet, started across the
street for the stone steps.
"Not a word out of any o' ye till I get 'em in,"
McFudd continued in a low voice, fumbling in his
pocket for his night-key.
The musicians obeyed mechanically and tiptoed
one by one inside the dimly lighted hall, followed by
Oliver and the others.
"Now take off your shoes; you've four flights of
stairs to crawl up, and if ye make a noise until I'm
ready for ye, off goes a dollar of your pay."
The bass-drum carefully backed his instrument
against the wall, sat down on the floor, and began
pulling off his boots; the cornet and bassoon followed;
the clarionet wore only his gum shoes, and so was
permitted to keep them on.
"Now, Walley, me boy, do you go ahead and turn
up the gas and open the piano, and Cockburn, old
man, will ye kindly get the blower and tongs out of
Freddie's room and the scuttle out of Tomlins's closet
and the Chinese gong that hangs over me bed? And
all you fellers go ahead treading on whispers, d'ye
moind?" said McFudd under his breath. "I'll bring
up this gang with me. Not a breath out of any o' yez
remimber, till I get there. The drum's unhandy and
we got to go slow wid it," and he slipped the strap
over his head and started upstairs, followed by the
The ascent was made without a sound until old
Mr. Lang's door was reached, when McFudd's foot
slipped, and, but for the bassoonist's head, both the
Irishman and the drum would have rolled down-
stairs. Lang heard the sound, and recognizing the
character of the attendant imprecation, did not get
up. "It's only McFndd," he said quietly to his suddenly
Once safe upon the attic floor the band who were
entering with great gusto into the spirit of the occasion,
arranged themselves in a half-circle about the
piano, replaced their shoes, stripped their instruments
of their coverings--the cornetist breathing noiselessly
into the mouth-pieces to thaw out the frost--and
stood at attention for McFudd's orders.
By this time Simmons had taken his seat at the
piano; Cockburn held the blower and tongs; Cranch,
who on coming in had ignored the card tacked to his
door, and who was found fast asleep in his chair, was
given the coal-scuttle; and little Tomlins grasped his
own wash-basin in one hand and Fred's poker in the
other. Oliver was to sing the air, and Fred was to beat
a tattoo on Waller's door with the butt end of a cane.
The gas had been turned up and every kerosene lamp
had been lighted and ranged about the hall. McFudd
threw off his coat and vest, cocked a Scotch smoking-
cap over one eye, and seizing the Chinese gong in
one hand and the wooden mallet in the other, climbed
upon the piano and faced his motley orchestra.
"Attintion, gentlemen," whispered McFudd.
"The first chune will be 'Old Dog Tray,' because it
begins wid a lovely howl. Remimber now, when I
hit this gong that's the signal for yez to begin, and
ye'll all come together wid wan smash. Then the
band will play a bar or two, and then every man
Jack o' ye will go strong on the chorus. Are yez
McFudd swung his mallet over his head; poised it
for an instant; ran his eye around the circle with the
air of an impresario; saw that the drum was in position,
the horns and clarionet ready, the blower, scuttle,
tongs, and other instruments of torture in place,
and hit the gong with all his might.
The crash that followed woke every boarder in
the house and tumbled half of them out of their beds.
Long before the chorus had been reached all the
doors had been thrown open, and the halls and passageways
filled with the startled boarders. Then certain
mysterious-looking figures in bed-gowns, water-
proofs, and bath-robes began bounding up the stairs,
and a collection of dishevelled heads were thrust
through the door of the attic. Some of the suddenly
awakened boarders tried to stop the din by protest;
others threatened violence; one or two grinned with
delight. Among these last was the little hunchback,
swathed in a blanket like an Indian chief, and barefooted.
He had rushed upstairs at the first sound
as fast as his little legs could carry him, and was peering
under the arms of the others, rubbing his sides
with glee and laughing like a boy. Mrs. Schuyler Van
Tassell, whose head and complexion were not ready
for general inspection, had kept her door partly
closed, opening it only wide enough when the other
boarders rushed by to let her voice through--always
an unpleasant organ when that lady had lost her
As the face of each new arrival appeared in the
doorway, McFudd would bow gracefully in recognition
of the honor of its presence, and redouble his
attack on the gong. The noise he produced was only
equalled by that of the drum, which never ceased for
an instant--McFudd's orders being to keep that instrument
going irrespective of time or tune.
In the midst of this uproar of brass, strings, sheep-
skin, wash-bowls, broken coal, pokers and tongs, a
lean figure in curl-papers and slippers, bright red
calico wrapper reaching to the floor, and a lighted
candle in one hand, forced its way through the crowd
at the door and stood out in the glare of the gaslights
It was Miss Ann Teetum!
Instantly a silence fell upon the room.
"Gentlemen, this is outrageous!" she cried in a
voice that ripped through the air like a saw. "I have
put up with these disgraceful performances as long as
I am going to. Not one of you shall stay in my house
another night. Out you go in the morning, every
one of you, bag and baggage!"
McFudd attempted to make an apology. Oliver
stepped forward, the color mounting to his cheeks,
and Waller began a protest at the unwarrantable
intrusion, but the infuriated little woman waved
them all aside and turning abruptly marched back
through the door and down the staircase, preceded
by the other female boarders. The little hunchback
alone remained. He was doubled up in a knot, wiping
the tears from his eyes, his breath gone from excessive
The Skylarkers looked at each other in blank astonishment.
One of the long-cherished traditions
of the house was the inviolability of this attic. Its
rooms were let with an especial privilege guaranteeing
its privacy, with free license to make all the noise
possible, provided the racket was confined to that one
floor. So careful had been its occupants to observe
this rule, that noisy as they all were when once on
the top floor, every man unlocked the front door at
night with the touch of a burglar and crept upstairs
as noiselessly as a footpad.
"I'm sorry, men," said McFudd, looking into the
astounded faces about him. "I'm the last man, as
ye know, to hurt anybody's feelings. But what the
divil's got into the old lady? Who'd 'a' thought she
would have heard a word of it down where she sleeps
in the basement?"
"'Tis the Van Tassell," grunted the Walrus.
"She's so mesmerized the old woman lately that she
don't know her own mind."
"What makes you think she put her up to it, Waller?"
"I don't think--but it's just like her," answered
Waller, with illogical prejudice.
"My eye! wasn't she a beauty!" laughed Fred,
and he picked up a bit of charcoal and began an outline
of the wrapper and slippers on the side-wall.
Tomlins, Cranch, and the others had no suggestions
to offer. Their minds were too much occupied
in wondering what was going to become of them in
The German band by this time had regained their
usual solidity. The leader seemed immensely relieved.
He had evidently expected the next apparition
to be a bluecoat with a pair of handcuffs.
"Put their green jackets on 'em," McFudd said
to the leader quietly, pointing to the instruments.
"We're much obliged to you and your men for
coming up," and he slipped some notes into the
leader's hand. "Now get downstairs, every man
o' ye, as aisy as if ye were walking on eggs. Cranch,
old man, will ye see 'em out, to kape that infernal
drum from butting into the Van Tassell's door, or
we'll have another hornet's nest. Begorra, there's
wan thing very sure--it's little baggage I'LL have to
The next morning a row of six vacant seats stared
Miss Ann out of countenance. The outcasts had risen
early and had gone to Riley's for their breakfast.
Miss Ann sat at the coffee-urn as stiff and erect as an
avenging judge. Lofty purpose and grim determination
were written in every line of her face. Mrs.
Van Tassell was not in evidence. Her nerves had
been so shattered by the "night's orgy," she had said
to Miss Ann, that she should breakfast in her room.
She further notified Miss Teetum that she should at
once withdraw her protecting presence from the
establishment, and leave it without a distinguished
social head, if the dwellers on the top floor remained
another day under the same roof with herself.
An ominous silence and depressing gloom seemed.
to hang over everybody. Several of the older men
pushed back their plates and began drumming oh the
table-cloth with their fingers, a far-away look in their
eyes. One or two talked in whispers, their coffee untasted.
Old Mr. Lang looked down the line of empty
seats and took his place with a dejected air. He was
the oldest man in the house and the oldest boarder;
this gave him certain privileges, one being to speak
"I understand," he said, unfolding his napkin and
facing. Miss Ann, "that you have ordered the boys
out of the house?"
"Yes, I have," snapped out Miss Teetum.
Everybody looked up. No one recognized the
tone of her voice, it was so sharp and bitter.
"Why, may I ask?"
"I will not have my house turned into a bear-
garden, that's why!"
"That's better than a graveyard," retorted Mr.
Lang. "That's what the house would be without
them. I can't understand why you object. You
sleep in the basement and shouldn't hear a sound;
my wife and I sleep under them every night. If
we can stand it, you can. You send the boys away,
Miss Teetum, and we'll move out."
Miss Ann winced under the shot, but she did not
"Do you mean that you're going to turn the young
gentlemen into the street, Miss Ann?" whined Mrs.
Southwark Boggs in an injured tone, from her end of
the table. "Are we going to have no young life in
the house at all? I won't stay a day after they're
Miss Teetum changed color, but she looked straight
ahead of her. She evidently did not want her private
affairs discussed at the table.
"I shall want my bill at the end of the week, now
that the boys are to leave," remarked the little
hunchback to Miss Ann as he bent over her chair.
"Life is dreary enough as it is."
And so the boys stayed on.
Only one room became vacant at the end of the
month. That was Mrs. Schuyler Van Tassell's.
A CHANGE OF WIND
The affair of the brass band, with its dramatic and
most unlooked-for ending, left an unpleasant memory
in the minds of the members of the club, especially
in Oliver's. His training had been somewhat different
from that of the others present, and his oversensitive
nature had been more shocked than pleased
by it all. While most of the other participants regretted
the ill-feeling which had been aroused in Miss
Teetum's mind, they felt sure--in fact, they knew--
that this heretofore kind and gentle hostess could
never have fanned her wrath to so white a heat had
not some other hand besides her own worked the
Suspicion first fell upon a new boarder unaccustomed
to the ways of the house, who, it was reported,
had double-locked herself in at the first crash of the
drum, and who had admitted, on being cross-examined
by McFudd, that she had nearly broken her
back in trying to barricade her bedroom door with a
Saratoga trunk and a wash-stand. This theory was
abandoned when subsequent inquiries brought to
light the fact that Mrs. Van Tassell, when the
echoes of one of McFudd's songs had reached her
ears, had stated a week before that no respectable
boarding-house would tolerate uproars like those
which took place almost nightly on the top floor, and
that she would withdraw her protection from Miss
Euphemia and leave the house at once and forever
if the noise did not cease. This dire threat being duly
reported to the two Misses Teetum had--it was afterward
learned--so affected them both that Miss Ann
had gone to bed with a chill and Miss Sarah had
warded off another with a bowl of hot camomile tea.
This story, true as it undoubtedly was, did not
entirely clear up the situation. One part of it sorely
puzzled McFudd. Why did Miss Euphemia need
Mrs. Van Tassell's protection, and why should the
loss of it stir Miss Ann to so violent an outburst?
This question no member of the Skylarks could answer.
The solution came that very night, and in the most
unexpected way, Waller bearing the glad tidings.
Miss Euphemia, ignoring them all, was to be married
at St. Mark's at 6 P.M. on the following Monday,
and Mrs. Van Tassell was to take charge of the wedding
reception in the front parlor! The groom was
the strange young man who had sat for some days
beside Miss Euphemia, passing as Miss Ann's
nephew, and who really was a well-to-do druggist
with a shop on Astor Place. All of the regular
boarders of the house were to be invited.
The explosion of this matrimonial bomb so cleared
the air of all doubt as to the guilt of Mrs. Van Tassell,
that a secret meeting, attended by every member of
the Skylarks, was at once held in Waller's room with
the result that Miss Ann's invitations to the wedding
were unanimously accepted. Not only would the
resident members go--so the original resolution ran
--but the non-resident and outside members would
also be on hand to do honor to Miss Euphemia and
her distinguished chaperone. This amendment being
accepted, McFudd announced in a sepulchral tone
that, owing to the severity of the calamity and to the
peculiarly painful circumstances which surrounded
their esteemed fellow-skylarker, the Honorable Sylvester
Ruffle-shirt Tomlins, his fellow-members
would wear crape on their left arms for thirty days.
This also was carried unanimously, every man except
Ruffle-shirt Tomlins breaking out into the "Dead
Man's Chorus"--a song, McFudd explained, admirably
fitted to the occasion.
When the auspicious night arrived, the several
dress-suits of the members were duly laid out on the
piano and hung over the chairs, and each gentleman
proceeded to array himself in costume befitting the
occasion. Waller, who weighed 200 pounds, squeezed
himself into McFudd's coat and trousers (McFudd
weighed 150), the trousers reaching a little below the
painter's knees. McFudd wrapped Waller's coat
about his thin girth and turned up the bagging legs,
of the unmentionables six inches above his shoes.
The assorted costumes of the other members were
equally grotesque. The habiliments themselves were
of proper cut and make, according to the standards
of the time--spike-tailed coats, white ties, patent-
leather pumps, and the customary trimmings, but
the effects produced were as ludicrous as they were
incongruous, though the studied bearing of the gentlemen
was meant to prove their unconsciousness of
The astonishment that rested on Mrs. Van Tassell's
face when this motley group filed into the parlor
and with marked and punctilious deference paid their
respects to the bride, and the wrath that flashed in
Miss Euphemia's eyes, became ever after part of the
traditions of the club. Despite Mrs. Van Tassell's
protest against the uproar on the top floor, she had
invariably spoken in high terms to her friends and
intimates of these very boarders--their acquaintance
was really part of her social capital--commenting at
the same time upon their exalted social and artistic
positions. In fact, many of her own special guests
had attended the wedding solely in the hope of being
brought into more intimate relations with this
distinguished group of painters, editors, and musicians,
some of whom were already being talked about.
When, however, McFudd stood in the corner of
Miss Teetum's parlor like a half-scared boy, pulling
out the fingers of Waller's kid gloves, an inch too
long for him, and Waller, Fred, and my Lord Cockburn
stumbled over the hearth-rug one after the
other, and Oliver, feeling like a guilty man and a
boor, bowed and scraped like a dancing-master; and
Bowdoin the painter, and Simmons and Fog-horn
Cranch, talked platitudes with faces as grave as
undertakers, the expectant special guests invited by
Mrs. Van Tassell began to look upon her encomiums
as part of an advertising scheme to fill Miss
The impression made upon the Teetum contingent
by the appearance and manners of the several members
--even Oliver's reputation was ruined--was
equally disastrous. It was, perhaps, best voiced by
the druggist groom, when he informed Mrs. Van T.
from behind his lemon-colored glove--that "if that
was the gang he had heard so much of, he didn't
want no more of 'em."
But these and other jollifications were not long to
continue. Causes infinitely more serious were at
work undermining the foundations of the Skylarks.
The Lodge of Poverty, to which they all belonged,
gay as it had often been, was slowly closing its door;
the unexpected, which always hangs over life, was
about to happen; the tie which bound these men together
was slowly loosening. Its members might
give the grip of fellowship to other members in other
lodges over the globe, but no longer in this one on
the top floor of the house on Union Square.
One morning McFudd broke the seal of an important-
looking letter bearing a Dublin post-mark on
the upper right-hand corner of the envelope, and the
family crest on its flap. For some moments he sat
still, looking straight before him. Then two tears
stole out and glistened on his lashes.
"Boys," he said, slowly, "the governor says I
must come home," and he held up a steamer ticket
and a draft that barely equalled his dues for a month's
board and washing.
That night he pawned his new white overcoat with
the bone buttons and velvet collar--the one his father
had sent him, and which had been the envy of every
man in the club, and invested every penny of the
proceeds in a supper to be given to the Skylarks.
The invitation ran as follows:
Mr. Cornelius McFudd respectively requests the pleasure
of your presence at an informal wake to be held in honor
of a double-breasted overcoat, London cut. The body and
tail will be the ducks, and the two sleeves and velvet
collar the Burgundy.
Riley's: 8 p.m. Third floor back.
The following week he packed his two tin boxes,
boarded the Scotia, and sailed for home.
The keystone having dropped out, it was not long
before the balance of the structure came down about
the ears of the members. My Lord Cockburn the following
week was ordered South by the bank to look
after some securities locked up in a vault in a Georgia
trust company, and which required a special messenger
to recover them--the growing uneasiness in
mercantile circles over the political outlook of the
country having assumed a serious aspect. Cockburn
had to swim rivers, he wrote Oliver in his first
letter, and cross mountains on horseback, and sleep
in a negro hut, besides having a variety of other
experiences, to say nothing of several hair-breadth
escapes, none of which availed him, as he returned
home after all, without the bonds.
These financial straws, indicating the direction and
force of the coming political winds, began to accumulate.
The lull before the hurricane--the stagnation
in commercial circles--became so ominous that
soon the outside members and guests of the club
ceased coming, being diligently occupied in earning
their bread, and then Simmons sent the piano home
--it had been loaned to him by reason of his profession
and position--and only Fog-horn Cranch, Waller,
Fred, Oliver, and Ruffle-shirt Tomlins were left.
Alter a while, Waller gave up his room and slept in
his studio and got his meals at the St. Clair, or went
without them, so light, by reason of the hard times,
was the demand for sheep pictures of Waller's particular
make. And later on Tomlins went abroad,
and Cranch moved West. And so the ruin of the
club was complete; and so, too, this merry band of
roysterers, with one or two exceptions, passes out
of those pages.
Dear boys of the long ago, what has become of you
all since those old days in that garret-room on Union
Square? Tomlins, I know, turned up in Australia,
where he married a very rich and very lovely woman,
because he distinctly stated both of those facts in an
exuberant letter to Oliver when he invited him to
the wedding. "Not a bad journey--only a step, my
dear Ollie, and we shall be so delighted to see you."
I know this, to be true, for Oliver showed me the letter.
Bowdoin went to Paris, where, as we all remember,
he had a swell studio opening on to a garden,
somewhere near the Arc de Triomphe, and had carriages
stop at his door, and a butler to open it, and
two maids in white caps to help the ladies off with
their wraps. Poor Cranch died in Montana while
hunting for gold, and my Lord Cockburn went back
But does anybody know what has become of
McFudd--irresistible, irresponsible, altogether delightful
McFudd? that condensation of all that was
joyous, rollicking, and spontaneous; that devotee of
the tub and pink of neatness, immaculate, clean-
shaven and well-groomed; that soul of good-nature,
which no number of flowing bowls could disturb nor
succeeding headaches dull; that most generous of
souls, whose first impulse was to cut squarely in half
everything he owned and give you your choice of the
pieces, and who never lost his temper until you refused
them both. If you, my dear boy, are still wandering
about this earth, and your eye should happen
to fall on these pages, remember, I send you my greeting.
If you have been sent for, and have gone aloft
to cheer those others who have gone before, and who
could spare you no longer, speak a good word for me,
please, and then, perhaps, I may shake your hand
With the dissolution of the happy coterie there
came to Oliver many a lonely night under the cheap
lamp, the desolate hall outside looking all the more
desolate and uninviting with the piano gone and the
Yet these nights were not altogether distasteful
to Oliver. Fred had noticed for months that his
room-mate no longer entered into the frolics of the
club with the zest and vim that characterized the
earlier days of the young Southerner's sojourn
among them. Our hero had said nothing while
the men had held together, and to all outward appearances
had done his share not only with his singing,
but in any other way in which he could help
on the merriment. He had covered the space allotted
to him on the walls with caricatures of the
several boarders below. He had mixed the salad at
Riley's the night of McFudd's farewell supper, with
his sleeves rolled up to the elbows and the cook's cap
on his head. He had lined up with the others at
Brown's on the Bowery; drank his "crystal cocktails"
--the mildest of beverages--and had solemnly
marched out again with his comrades in a lock-step
like a gang of convicts. He had indulged in forty-
cent opera, leaning over the iron railing of the top
row of the Academy of Music, and had finished the
evening at Pfaff's, drinking beer and munching hardtack
and pickles, and had laughed and sung in a dozen
other equally absurd escapades. And yet it was as
plain as daylight to Fred that Oliver's heart was no
longer centred in the life about him.
The fact is, the scribe is compelled to admit, the
life indulged in by these merry bohemians had begun
to pall upon this most sensitive of young gentlemen.
It really had not satisfied him at all. This was not
the sort of life that Mr. Crocker meant, he had said
to himself after a night at Riley's when Cranch had
sounded his horn so loud that the proprietor had
threatened to turn the whole party into the street.
Mr. Crocker's temperament was too restful to be
interested in such performances. As for himself,
he was tired of it.
Nothing of all this did he keep from his mother.
The record of his likes and dislikes which formed the
subject-matter of his daily letters was an absorbing
study with her, and she let no variation of the
weather-vane of his tastes escape her. Nor did she
keep their contents from her intimate friends. She
had read to Colonel Clayton one of his earlier ones,
in which he had told her of the concerts and of the
way Cockburn had served the brew that McFudd had
concocted, and had shown him an illustration Oliver
had drawn on the margin of the sheet--an outline of
the china mug that held the mixture--to which that
Chesterfield of a Clayton had replied:
"What did I tell you, madame--just what I expected
of those Yankees--punch from mugs! Bah!"
She had, too, talked their contents over with
Amos Cobb, who, since the confidence reposed in
him by the Horn family, had become a frequent visitor
at the house.
"There's no harm come to him yet, madame, or
he wouldn't write you of what he does. Boys will
be boys. Let him have his fling," the Vermonter had
replied with a gleam of pleasure in his eye. "If he
has the stuff in him that I think he has, he will swim
out and get to higher ground; if he hasn't, better
let him drown early. It will give everybody less
The dear lady had lost no sleep over these escapades.
She, too, realized that as long as Oliver
poured out his heart unreservedly to her there was
little to fear. In her efforts to cheer him she had
sought, in her almost daily letters sent him in return,
to lead his thoughts into other channels. She knew
how fond he had always been of the society of women,
and how necessary they were to his happiness,
and she begged him to go out more. "Surely there
must be some young girls in so great a city who can
help to make your life happier," she wrote.
In accordance with her suggestions, he had at last
put on his best clothes and had accompanied Tomlins
and Fred to some very delightful houses away up
in Thirty-third Street, and another on Washington
Square, and still another near St. Mark's Place, where
his personality and his sweet, sympathetic voice had
gained him friends and most pressing invitations to
call again. Some he had accepted, and some he had
not--it depended very largely on his mood and upon
the people whom he met. If they reminded him in
any way, either in manners or appointments, of his
life at home, he went again--if not, he generally
Among these was the house of his employer, Mr.
Slade, who had treated him with marked kindness,
not only inviting him to his own house, but introducing
him to many of his friends--an unusual civility
Oliver discovered afterward--not many of the clerks
being given a seat at Mr. Slade's table. "I like his
brusque, hearty manner," Oliver wrote to his mother
after the first visit. "His wife is a charming woman,
and so are the two daughters, quite independent and
fearless, and entirely different from the girls at
home, but most interesting and so well bred."
Another incident, too, had greatly pleased not only
Oliver and his mother, but Richard as well. It happened
that a consignment of goods belonging to Morton,
Slade & Co. was stored in a warehouse in Charleston,
and it became necessary to send one of the clerks
South to reship or sell them, the ordinary business
methods being unsafe, owing to the continued rumblings
of the now rapidly approaching political
storm--a storm that promised to be infinitely more
serious than the financial stringency. The choice had
fallen on Oliver, he being a Southerner, and knowing
the ways of the people. He had advised with his
mother and stood ready to leave at an hour's notice,
when Mr. Slade's heart failed him.
"It's too dangerous, my lad," he said to Oliver.
"I could trust you, I know, and I believe you would
return safely and bring the goods or the money with
you, but I should never forgive myself if anything
should happen to you. I will send an older man."
And he did.
It was at this time that Oliver had received Cockburn's
letter telling him of his own experiences, and
he, therefore, knew something of the risks a man
would run, and could appreciate Mr. Slade's action
all the more. Richard, as soon as he heard of it, had
put down his tools, left his work-bench, and had gone
into his library, where he had written the firm a
letter of thanks, couched in terms so quaint and
courtly, and so full of generous appreciation of their
interest in Oliver, that Mr. Slade, equally appreciative,
had worn it into ribbons in showing it to his
friends as a model of style and chirography.
Remembering his mother's wishes, and in appreciation
of his employer's courtesy, he had kept up this
intimacy with the Slade family until an unfortunate
catastrophe had occurred, which while it did not affect
his welcome at their house, ruined his pleasure
Mr. Slade had invited Oliver to dinner one rainy
night, and, being too poor to pay for a cab, Oliver,
in attempting to cross Broadway, had stepped into a
mud-puddle a foot deep. He must either walk back
and change his shoes and be late for dinner--an
unpardonable offence--or he must keep on and run his
chances of cleaning them in the dressing-room. There
was no dressing-room available, as it turned out, and
the fat English butler had to bring a wet cloth out
into the hall (oh! how he wished for Malachi!) and
get down on his stiff knees and wipe away vigorously
before Oliver could present himself before his
hostess, the dinner in the meantime getting cold and
the guests being kept waiting. Oliver could never
look at those shoes after that without shivering.
This incident had kept him at home for a time
and had made him chary of exposing himself to similar
mortifications. His stock of clothes at best was
limited--especially his shoes--and as the weather
continued bad and the streets impassable, he preferred
waiting for clearer skies and safer walking. So he
spent his nights in his room, crooning over the coke
fire with Fred, or all alone if Fred were at the Academy,
drawing from the cast.
On these nights he would begin to long for Kennedy
Square. He had said nothing yet about returning,
even for a day's visit. He knew how his mother
felt about it, and he knew how he had seen her
struggle to keep the interest paid up on the mortgage
and to meet the daily necessities of the house. The
motor was still incomplete, she wrote him, and success
was as far off as ever. The mortgage had again
been extended and the note renewed--this time for a
longer term, owing to some friend's interest in the
matter whose name she could not learn. She, therefore,
felt no uneasiness on that score, although there
were still no pennies which could be spared for Olivers
travelling expenses, even if he could get leave
of absence from his employers.
At these times, as he sat alone in his garret-room,
Malachi's chuckle, without cause or reminder would
suddenly ring in his ears, or some low strain from
his father's violin or a soft note from Nathan's
flute would float through his brain. "Dear Uncle
Nat," he would break out, speaking aloud and springing
from his chair--"I wish I could hear you tonight."
His only relief while in these moods was to again
seize his pen and pour out his heart to his mother or
to his father, or to Miss Clendenning or old Mr.
Crocker. Occasionally he would write to Sue--not
often--for that volatile young lady had so far forgotten
Oliver as to leave his letters unanswered for
weeks at a time. She was singing "Dixie," she told
him in her last billet-doux, now a month old, and
wondering whether Oliver was getting to be a Yankee,
and whether he would be coming home with a high
collar and his hair cut short and parted in the
His father's letters in return did not lessen his
gloom. "These agitators will destroy the country,
my son, if they keep on," Richard had written in his
last letter. "It is a sin against civilization to hold
your fellow-men in bondage, and that is why years
ago I gave Malachi and Hannah and the others their
freedom, but Virginia has unquestionably the right
to govern her internal affairs without consulting
Massachusetts, and that is what many of these Northern
leaders do not or will not understand. I am
greatly disturbed over the situation, and I sincerely
hope your own career will not be affected by these
troubles. As to my own affairs, all I can say is that
I work early and late, and am out of debt." Poor
fellow! He thought he was.
Oliver was sitting thus one night, his head in his
hands, elbows on his knees, gazing into the smouldering
coals of his grate, his favorite attitude when his
mind was troubled, when Fred, his face aglow, his
big blue eyes dancing, threw wide the door and
bounded in, bringing in his clothes the fresh, cool
air of the night. He had been at work in the School
of the Academy of Design, and had a drawing in
chalk under his arm--a head of the young Augustus.
"What's the matter, Ollie, got the blues?"
"No, Freddie, only thinking."
"What's her name? I'll go and see her and make
it up. Out with it--do I know her?"
Oliver smiled faintly, examined the drawing for a
moment, and handing it back to Fred, said, sadly,
"It's not a girl, Freddie, but I don't seem to get
Fred threw the drawing on the bed and squeezed
himself into the chair beside his chum, his arm around
"Where do you want to get, old man? What's
the matter--any trouble at the store?"
"No--none that I know of. But the life is so
monotonous, Fred. You do what you love to do. I
mark boxes all day till lunch-time, then I roll them
out on the sidewalk and make out dray tickets till
I come home. I've been doing that all winter; I
expect to be doing it for years. That don't get me
anywhere, does it? I hate the life more and more
(Was our hero's old love of change again asserting
itself, or was it only the pinching of that Chinese
shoe which his mother in her anxiety had slipped on
his unresisting foot, and which he was still wearing to
please her? Or was it the upper pressure of some
inherent talent--some gift of his ancestors that would
not down at his own bidding or that of his mother
or anybody else's?)
"Somebody's got to do it, Ollie, and you are the
last man hired," remarked Fred, quietly. "What
would you like to do?"
Oliver shifted himself in the crowded chair until
he could look into his room-mate's eyes.
"Fred, old man," he answered, his voice choking,
"I haven't said a word to you about it all the time
I've been here, for I don't like to talk about a thing
that hurts me, and so I've kept it to myself. Now
I'll tell you the truth just as it is. I don't want Mr.
Slade's work nor anybody else's work. I don't like
business and never will. I want to paint, and I'll
never be happy until I do. That's it, fair and square."
"Well, quit Slade, then, and come with me."
"I would if it wasn't for mother. I promised
her I would see this through, and I will." As he
spoke the overdue mortgage and his mother's efforts
to keep the interest paid passed in review before him.
Fred caught his breath. It astonished him, independent
young Northerner as he was, to hear a full-
grown man confess that his mother's' apron-strings
still held him up, but he made no comment.
"Why not try both?" he cried. "There's a place
in the school alongside of me--we'll work together
nights. It won't interfere with what you do downtown.
You'll get a good start, and when you have
a day off in the summer you can do some out-door
work. Waller has told me a dozen times that you
draw better than he did when he commenced. Come
along with me."
This conversation, with the other incidents of the
day, or rather that part of it which had reference
to the Academy, was duly set forth in his next letter
to his mother--not as an argument to gain her consent
to his studying with Fred, for he knew it was
the last thing she would agree to--but because it was
his habit to tell her everything. It would show her,
too, how good a fellow Fred was and what an interest
he took in his welfare. Her answer, three days later,
sent him bounding upstairs and into their room like
"Read, Fred, read!" he cried. "I can go.
Mother says she thinks it would be the best thing in
the world for me. Here, clap your eyes on that--"
and Oliver held the letter out to Fred, his finger
pointing to this passage: "I wish you would join Fred
at the Academy. Now that you have a regular business
that occupies your mind, and are earning your
living, I have no objection to your studying drawing
or learning any other accomplishment. You work
hard all day, and this will rest you."
The cramped foot was beginning to spread! The
Chinese shoe had lost its top button.
AROUND THE MILO
Still another new and far more bewildering world
was opened to Oliver the night that he entered the
cast-room of the School of the National Academy of
Design and took his seat among the students.
The title of the institution, high-sounding as it was,
not only truthfully expressed the objects and purposes
of its founders, but was wofully exact in the
sense of its being national; for outside the bare walls
of these rooms there was hardly a student's easel to
be found the country over.
And such forlorn, desolate rooms; up two flights of
dusty stairs, in a rickety, dingy loft off Broadway,
within a short walk of Union Square--an auction-
room on the ground floor and a bar-room in the rear.
The largest of these rooms was used for the annual
exhibition of the Academicians and their associates,
and the smaller ones were given over to the students;
one, a better lighted apartment, being filled
with the usual collection of casts--the Milo, the
Fighting Gladiator, Apollo Belvidere, Venus de
Medici, etc., etc.; the other being devoted to the
uses of the life-class and its models. Not the nude.
Whatever may have been clone in the studios, in the
class-room it was always the draped model that posed
--the old woman who washed for a living on the
top floor, or one of her chubby children or buxom
daughters, or perhaps the peddler who strayed in
to sell his wares and left his head behind him on ten
different canvases and in as many different positions.
The casts themselves were backed up against the
walls; some facing the windows for lights and darks,
and others pushed toward the middle of the room,
where the glow of the gas-jets could accentuate their
better points. The Milo, by right of divinity, held
the centre position--she being beautiful from any
point of sight and available from any side. The Theseus
and the Gladiator stood in the corners, affording
space for the stools of two or three students and their
necessary easels. Scattered about on the coarse,
whitewashed walls were hung the smaller life-casts;
fragments of the body--an arm, leg, or hand, or
sections of a head--and tucked in between could be
found cheap lithographic productions of the work of
the students and professors of the Paris and Dusseldorf
schools. The gas-lights under which the students
worked at night were hooded by cheap paper
shades of the students' own fashioning, and the lower
sashes of the windows were smeared with whitewash
or covered with newspapers to concentrate the light.
During working hours the drawing-boards were
propped upon rude easels or slanted on overturned
chairs, the students sitting on three-legged stools.
A gentle-voiced, earnest, whole-souled old man--
the one only instructor--presided over this temple of
art. He had devoted his whole life to the sowing of
figs and the reaping of thistles, and in his old age
was just beginning to see the shoots of a new art forcing
their way through the quickening clay of American
civilization. Once in awhile, as assistants in
this almost hopeless task, there would stray into his
class-room some of the painters who, unconsciously,
were founding a national art and in honor of whom
a grateful nation will one day search the world over
for marble white enough on which to perpetuate
their memories: men as distinct in their aims, methods,
and results as was that other group of unknown
and despised immortals starving together at that
very time in a French village across the sea--and
men, too, equally deserving of the esteem and gratitude
of their countrymen.
Oliver knew the names of these distinguished visitors
to the Academy, as did all the other members
of the Skylarks, and he knew their work. The pictures
of George Inness, Sanford Gifford, Kensett,
McEntee, Hart, Eastman Johnson, Hubbard,
Church, Casilaer, Whittredge, and the others had
been frequently discussed around the piano on the
top floor at Miss Teetum's, and their merits and supposed
demerits often hotly contested. He had met
Kensett once at the house of Mr. Slade, and McEntee
had been pointed out to him as he left the theatre one
night, but few of the others had ever crossed his path.
Of the group Gifford appealed to him most. One
golden "Venice" of the painter, which hung in a
picture-store, always delighted him--a stretch of the
Lagoon with a cluster of butterfly sails and a far-
away line of palaces, towers, and domes lying like
a string of pearls on the horizon. There was another
of Kensett's, a point of rocks thrust out like a mailed
hand into a blue sea; and a McEntee of October
woods, all brown and gold; but the Gifford he had
never forgotten; nor will anyone else who has seen it.
No wonder then that all his life he remembered
that particular night, when a slender, dark-haired
man in loose gray clothes sauntered into the class-
room and moved around among the easels, giving a
suggestion here and a word of praise there, for that
was the night on which Professor Cummings touched
our young hero's shoulder and said: "Mr. Gifford
likes your drawing very much, Mr. Horn"--a word
of praise which, as he wrote to Crocker, steadied his
uncertain fingers "as nothing else had ever done."
The students in his school were from all stations in
life: young and old; all of them poor, and most of
them struggling along in kindred professions and
occupations--engravers, house-painters, lithographers,
and wood-carvers. Two or three were sign-
painters. One of these--a big-boned, blue-eyed
young follow, who drew in charcoal from the cast
at night, and who sketched the ships in the harbor
during the day--came from Kennedy Square, or
rather from one of the side streets leading out of
it. There can still be found over the door of what
was once his shop a weather-beaten example of his
skill in gold letters, the product of his own hand.
Above the signature is, or was some ten years since,
a small decorative panel showing a strip of yellow
sand, a black dot of a boat, and a line of blue sky,
so true in tone and sure in composition that when
Mr. Crocker first passed that way and stood astounded
before it--as did Robinson Crusoe over Friday's
footprint--he was so overjoyed to find another artist
besides himself in the town, that he turned into the
shop, and finding only a young mechanic at work,
"Go to New York, young man, and study, you
have a career before you."
The old landscape-painter was a sure prophet; little
pen-and-ink sketches bearing the initials of this
same sign-painter now sell for more than their weight
in gold, while his larger canvases on the walls of our
museums and galleries hold their place beside the
work of the marine-painters of our own and other
times and will for many a day to come.
This exile from Kennedy Square had been the first
man to shake Oliver's hand the night he entered the
cast-room. Social distinctions had no place in this
atmosphere; it was the fellow who in his work came
closest to the curve of the shoulder or to the poise
of the head who proved, in the eyes of his fellow-
students, his possession of an ancestry: but the ancestry
was one that skipped over the Mayflower and
went straight back to the great Michael and Rembrandt.
"I'm Jack Bedford, the sign-painter," he said,
heartily. "You and I come from the same town,"
and as they grasped each other's hands a new friendship
was added to Oliver's rapidly increasing list.
Oliver's seat was next to Fred, with Jack Bedford
on his right. He had asked to join this group not
only because he wanted to be near his two friends
but because he wanted still more to be near the Milo.
He had himself selected a certain angle of the head
because he had worked from that same point of sight
with Mr. Crocker, and it had delighted him beyond
measure when the professor allowed him to place his
stool so that he could almost duplicate his earlier
drawing. His ambition was to get into the life-class,
and the quickest road, he knew, lay through a good
cast drawing. Every night for a week, therefore,
he had followed the wonderful lines of the Milo's
beautiful body, which seemed to grow with warmth
under the flare of the overhanging gas-jets.
These favored life students occupied the room
next to the casts. Mother Mulligan, in full regalia
of apron and broom, often sat there as a model. Oliver
had recognized her portrait at once; so can anyone
else who looks over the earlier studies of half the
painters of the time.
"Oh, it's you, is it--" Mrs. Mulligan herself had
cried when she met Oliver in the hall, "the young
gentleman that saved Miss Margaret's dog? She'll
be here next week herself--she's gone home for
awhile up into the mountains, where her old father
and mother live. I told her many times about ye,
and she'll be that pleased to meet ye, now that you're
WAN of us."
It was delightful to hear her accent the "wan."
Mother Mulligan always thought the institution
rested on her broad shoulders, and that the students
were part of her family.
The old woman could also have told Oliver of Margaret's
arrival at the school, and of the impression
which she, the first and only girl student, made on
the night she took her place before an easel. But
of the reason of her coming Mrs. Mulligan could
have told nothing, nor why Margaret had been willing
to exchange the comforts of a home among the
New Hampshire hills for the narrow confines of a
third-story back room, with Mrs. Mulligan as house-
keeper and chaperon.
Fred knew all the details, of course, and how it
had all come about. How a cousin of Margaret's
who lived on a farm near her father's had one day,
years before, left his plough standing in the furrow
and apprenticed himself to a granite-cutter in the
next town. How later on he had graduated in
gravestones, and then in bas-reliefs, and finally had
won a medal in Rome for a figure of "Hope," which
was to mark the grave of a millionnaire at home.
How when the statue was finished, ready to be set up,
this cousin had come to Brookfield, wearing a square-
cut beard, straight-out mustaches with needle-points,
and funny shoes with square toes. How the girl had
been disposed to laugh at him until he had told
her stories of the wonderful cities beyond the sea
and of his life among the painters and sculptors;
then she showed him her own drawings, searching
his face anxiously with her big eyes. How he had
been so astounded and charmed by their delicacy
and truth, that he had pleaded with her father--an
obstinate old Puritan--to send her to New York
to study, which the old man refused point-blank to
do, only giving his consent at the last when her
brother John, who had been graduated from Dartmouth
and knew something of the outside world, had
joined his voice to that of her mother and her own.
How when she at last entered the class-room of the
Academy the students had looked askance at her;
the usual talk had ceased, and for a time there had
been an uncomfortable restraint everywhere, until
the men found her laughing quietly at their whispered
jokes about her. After that the "red-headed
girl in blue gingham," as she was called, had become,
by virtue of that spirit of camaraderie which a common
pursuit develops, "one of us" in spirit as well
as in occupation.
Fred had described it all to Oliver, and every night
when Oliver came in from the hall, his eyes had
wandered over the group of students in the hope of
seeing the strange person. A girl studying art, or
anything else for that matter, seemed to him to be as
incongruous as for a boy to learn dress-making or
for a woman to open a barber-shop. He knew her
type, he said to himself: she would be thin and awkward,
with an aggressive voice that would jar on the
stillness of the room. And she would believe in the
doctrines of Elizabeth Cady Stanton--a name never
mentioned by his mother except apologetically and
in a low voice--and when she became older she would
address meetings and become conspicuous in church
and have her name printed in the daily papers.
Our hero's mind was intent upon these phases of
character always to be found, of course, in a girl who
would unsex herself to the extent that Miss Grant
had done, when one night a rich, full, well-modulated
voice sounding over his shoulder said:
"Excuse me, but Mother Mulligan tells me that
you are Mr. Horn, Fred Stone's friend. I want to
thank you for taking care of my poor Juno. It was
very good of you. I am Margaret Grant."
She had approached him without his seeing her.
He turned quickly to accost her and immediately lost
so much of his breath that he could only stammer his
thanks, and the hope that Juno still enjoyed the best
of health. But the deep-brown eyes did not waver
after acknowledging his reply, nor did the smile
about the mouth relax.
"And I'm so glad you've come at last," she went
on. "Fred has told me how you wanted to draw
and couldn't. I know something myself of what it
is to hunger after a thing and not get it."
He was on his feet now, the bit of charcoal still
between his fingers, his shirt-cuff rolled back to give
his hand more freedom. His senses were coming
back, too, and there was buoyancy as well as youth
in his face.
"Yes, I do love it," said Oliver, and his eyes
wandered over her wonderful hair that looked like
brown gold illumined by slants of sunshine, and
then rested for an instant on her eyes. "I drew
with old Mr. Crocker at home, but we only had one
cast, just the head of the Milo, and I was the only
pupil. Here everything helps me. What are you
at work on, Miss Grant?"
"I'm doing the Milo, too; my seat is right in
front of yours. Oh! what a good beginning," and
she bent over his drawing-board. "Why, this can't
be your first week," and she scanned it closely.
"One minute--a little too full under the chin, isn't
it?" She picked up a piece of chalk, and pointed
to the shaded lines, looking first with half-closed eyes
at the full-sized cast before them, and then at the
"Yes, I think you're right," said Oliver, studying
the cast also with half-closed eyes. "How will that
do?" and he smudged the shadow with his finger-tip.
"Just right," she answered. "How well you have
the character of the face. Isn't she lovely!--I know
of nothing so beautiful. There is such a queenly,
womanly, self-poised simplicity about her."
Oliver thought so too, and said so with his eyes,
only it was of a face framed in brown-gold that he
was thinking and not of one of white plaster. He
was touched too by the delicate way in which she had
commended his drawings. It was the "woman" in
her that pleased him, just as it had been in Sue--that
subtle, dominating influence which our fine gentleman
could never resist.
He shifted his stool a little to one side so that he
could see her the better unobserved while she was
arranging her seat and propping up her board. He
noticed that, although her face was tanned by the
weather, her head was set on a neck of singular whiteness.
Underneath, where the back hair was tucked
up, his eye caught some delicate filmy curls which
softened the line between her throat and head and
shone in the light like threads of gold. The shoulders
sloped and the whole fulness of her figure tapered
to a waist firmly held by a leather belt. A
wholesome girl, he thought to himself, and good to
look at, and with a certain rhythmic grace about her
Her crowning glory, though, was her hair, which
was parted over her forehead and caught in a simple
twist behind. As the light fell upon it he observed
again how full it was of varying tones like those
found in the crinklings of a satin gown--yellow-gold
one minute and dark brown the next. Oliver wondered
how long this marvellous hair might be, and
whether it would reach to the floor if it should burst
its fastenings and whether Sir Peter Lely would have
loved it too could he have seen this flood of gold bathing
her brow and shoulders.
He found it delightful to work within a few feet
of her, silent as they had to be, for much talking
was discountenanced by the professor: often hours
passed without any sound being heard in the room
but that of the scraping of the chairs on the bare floor
or the shifting of an easel.
Two or three times during the evening the old professor
emerged from his room and overlooked his
drawing, patiently pointing out the defects and
as patiently correcting them. He was evidently
impressed with Oliver's progress, for he remarked
to Miss Grant, in a low voice:
"The new student draws well--he is doing first-
rate," and passed on. Oliver caught the expression
of satisfaction on the professor's face and interpreted
it as in some way applying to his work, although
he did not catch the words.
The old man rarely had to criticise Margaret's
work. The suggestions made to her came oftener
from the students than from the professor himself
or any one of the visiting critics. In these criticisms,
not only of her own work but of the others, everyone
took part, each leaving his stool and helping in
the discussion, when the work of the night was over.
Fred's more correct eye, for instance, would be invaluable
to Jack Bedford, the ex-sign-painter, who
was struggling with the profile of the Gladiator; or
Margaret, who could detect at a glance the faintest
departure from the lines of the original, would
shorten a curve on Oliver's drawing, or he in turn
would advise her about the depth of a shadow or the
spot for a high light.
As the nights went by and Oliver studied her
the closer, the New England girl became all the more
inexplicable to him. She was, he could not but admit,
like no other woman he had ever met; certainly
not in his present surroundings. She really seemed
to belong to some fabled race--one of the Amazons,
or Rhine maidens, or Norse queens for whom
knights couched their lances. It was useless to compare
her to any one of the girls about Kennedy
Square, for she had nothing in common with any one
of them. Was it because she was unhappy among
her own people that she had thus exiled herself from
her home, or had some love-affair blighted her life?
Or could it be, as Fred had suggested, that she was
willing to undergo all these discomforts and privations
simply for love of her art? As this possible
solution of the vexing problem became established
in his mind, with the vision of Margaret herself before
him, the blood mounted to his cheeks and an uncontrollable
thrill of enthusiasm swept over him.
He could forgive her anything if this last motive had
really controlled and shaped her life.
Had he seen the more closely and with prophetic
vision, he would have discerned, in this Norse queen
with the golden hair, the mother of a long line of
daughters, who, in the days to follow, would hang
their triumphant shields beside those of their
brothers, winning equal recognition in salon and gallery
and conferring equal honor on their country.
But Oliver's vision was no keener than that of anyone
else about him. It was only the turn of Margaret's
head that caught the young student's eye and
the wealth of her brown-gold hair. With the future
he had no concern.
What attracted him most of all in this woman who
had violated all the known traditions of Kennedy
Square, was a certain fearlessness of manner--an
independence, a perfect ingenuousness, and a freedom
from any desire to interest the students in herself.
When she looked at any one of them, it was never
from under drooping eyelids, as Sue would have done,
nor with that coquettish, alluring glance to which he
had always been accustomed. She looked straight at
them with unflinching eyes that said, "I can trust
you, and WILL." He had never seen exactly that
look except in the portrait of his uncle's grandmother
by Sir Peter Lely--the picture he had always loved.
Strange to say, too, the eyes of the portrait were
Margaret's eyes, and so was the color of the hair.
No vexed problems entered Margaret's head regarding
the very engaging young gentleman who sat
behind HER stool. He merely represented to her another
student--that was all; the little band was
small enough, and she was glad to see the new ones
come. She noticed, it is true, certain unmistakable
differences--a peculiar, soft cadence in his voice as
the words slipped from his lips without their final g's;
a certain deference to herself--standing until she
regained her seat, an attention which she attributed
at first to embarrassment over his new surroundings
and to his desire to please. She noticed, too, a certain
grace in his movements--a grace that attracted
her, especially in the way with which he used his
hands, and in the way in which he threw his head
up when he laughed; but even these differences
ceased to interest her after the first night of their
But it did not occur to her that he came from any
different stock than the others about her, or that his
blood might or might not be a shade bluer than her
own. What had really impressed her more than anything
else--and this only flashed into her mind while
she was looking in the glass one night at her own--
were his big white teeth, white as grains of corn, and
the cleanliness of his hands and nails. She liked
these things about him. Some of the fingers that
rested on her drawing-board were often more like
clothes-pins than fingers, and shocked her not a little;
some, too, were stained with acids, and one or more
with printer's ink that no soap could remove.
Before the evening was over Oliver became one
of the class-room appointments--a young man who
sat one stool behind her and was doing fairly well
with his first attempt, and who would some day be
able to make a creditable drawing if he had patience
At the beginning of the second week a new student
appeared--or rather an old one, who had been laid
up at home with a cold. When Oliver arrived he
found him in Margaret's seat, his easel standing
where hers had been. He had a full-length drawing
of the Milo--evidently the work of days--nearly
finished on his board. Oliver was himself a little
ahead of time--ahead of either Margaret or Fred,
and had noticed the new-comer when he entered, the
room being nearly empty. Jack Bedford was already
"Horn," Jack cried, and beckoned to Oliver--
"see the beggar in Miss Grant's seat. Won't there
be a jolly row when she comes in?"
Margaret entered a moment later, her portfolio
under her arm, and stood taking in the situation.
Then she walked straight to her former seat, and said,
in a firm but kindly tone:
"This is my place, sir. I've been at work here for
a week. You see my drawing is nearly done."
The young man looked up. He toiled all day in
a lithographer's shop, and these precious nights in
the loft were his only glimpses of happiness. He sat
without his coat, his shirt-sleeves liberally smeared
with the color-stains of his trade.
"Well, it's my place, too. I sat here a week before
I was taken sick," he said, in a slightly indignant
tone, looking into Margaret's face in astonishment.
"But if you did," continued Margaret, "you see
I am nearly through. I can't take another seat, for
I'll lose the angle. I can finish in an hour if you will
please give me this place to-night. You can work
just as well by sitting a few feet farther along."
The lithographer, without replying, turned from
her impatiently, bent over his easel, picked up a fresh
bit of charcoal and corrected a line on the Milo's
shoulder. So far as he was concerned the argument
Margaret stood patiently. She thought at first he
was merely adding a last touch to his drawing before
granting her request.
"Will you let me have the seat?" she asked.
"No," he blurted out. He was still bending over
his drawing, his eyes fixed on the work. He did not
even look up. "I'm going to stay here until I finish.
You know the rules as well as I do. I wouldn't take
your seat--what do you want to take mine for?"
There was no animosity in his voice. He spoke as if
announcing a fact.
The words had hardly left his lips when there
came the sound of a chair being quickly pushed
back, and Oliver stood beside Margaret. His eyes
were flashing; his right shirt-cuff was rolled back,
the bit of charcoal still between his fingers. Every
muscle of his body was tense with anger. Margaret's
quick instinct took in the situation at a glance. She
saw Oliver's wrath and she knew its cause.
"Don't, Mr. Horn, please--please!" she cried,
putting up her hand. "I'll begin another drawing.
I see now that I took his seat when he was away, although
I didn't know it."
Oliver stepped past her. "Get up, sir," he said,
"and give Miss Grant her seat. What do you mean
by speaking so to a lady?"
The apprentice--his name was Judson--raised
his eyes quickly, took in Oliver's tense, muscular figure
standing over him, and said, with a contemptuous
wave of the hand:
"Young feller--you go and cool off somewhere,
or I'll tell the professor. It's none of your business.
I know the rules and--"
He never finished the sentence--not that anybody
heard. He was floundering on the floor, an overturned
easel and drawing-board lying across his
body; Oliver standing over him with his fists tightly
"I'll teach you how to behave to a lady." The
words sounded as if they came from between closed
teeth. "Here's your chair, Miss Grant," and with
a slight bow he placed the chair before her and
resumed his seat with as much composure as if he
had been in his mother's drawing-room in Kennedy
Margaret was so astounded. that for a moment
she could not speak. Then her voice came back to
her. "I don't want it," she cried, in a half-frightened
way, the tears starting in her eyes. "It was
never mine--I told you so. Oh, what have you
Never since the founding of the school had there
been such a scene. The students jumped from their
chairs and crowded about the group. The life class,
which were at work in another room, startled by the
uproar, swarmed out eager to know what had happened
and why--and who--and what for. Old
Mother Mulligan, who had been posing for the class,
with a cloak about her fat shoulders and a red
handkerchief binding up her head, rushed over to Margaret,
thinking she had been hurt in some way, until
she saw the student on the floor, still panting and
half-dazed from the effect of Oliver's blow. Then
she fell on her knees beside him.
At this instant Professor Cummings entered, and
a sudden hush fell upon the room. Judson, with the
help of Mother Mulligan's arm, had picked himself
up, and. would have made a rush at Oliver had not big
sack Bedford stopped him.
"Who's to blame for this?" asked the professor,
looking from one to the other.
Oliver rose from his seat.
"This man insulted Miss Grant and I threw him
out of her chair," he answered quietly.
"Insulted you!" cried the professor, in surprise,
and he turned to Margaret. "What did he say?"
"I never said a word to her," whined Judson,
straightening his collar. "I told her the seat was
mine, and so it is. That wasn't insulting her."
"It's all a mistake, professor--Mr. Horn did not
understand," protested Margaret. "It was his seat,
not mine. He began his drawing first. I didn't know
it when I commenced mine. I told Mr. Horn so."
"Why did you strike him?" asked the professor,
and he turned and faced Oliver.
"Because he had no business to speak to her as
he did. She is the only lady we have among us and
every man in the class ought to remember it, and
every man has since I've been here except this one."
There was a slight murmur of applause. Judson's
early training had been neglected as far as his manners
went, and he was not popular.
The professor looked searchingly into Oliver's eyes
and a flush of pride in the boy's pluck tinged his pale
cheeks. He had once thrown a fellow-student out
of a window in Munich himself for a similar offence,
and old as he was he had never forgotten it.
"You come from the South, Mr. Horn, I hear,"
he said in a gentler voice, "and you are all a hot-
tempered race, and often do foolish things. Judson
meant no harm--he says so, and Miss Grant says so.
Now you two shake hands and make up. We are
trying to learn to draw here, not to batter each
Oliver's eyes roved from one to the other; he was
too astonished to make further reply. He had only
done what he knew every other man around Kennedy
Square would have done under similar circumstances,
and what any other woman would have thanked him
for. Why was everybody here against him--even
the girl herself! What sort of people were these who
would stand by and see a woman insulted and make
no defence or outcry? He could not have looked his
father in the face again, nor Sue, nor anyone else
in Kennedy Square, if he had failed to protect
For a moment he hesitated, his eyes searching each
face. He had hoped that someone who had witnessed
the outrage would come forward and uphold his act.
When no voice broke the stillness he crossed the
room and taking the lithographer's hand, extended
rather sullenly, answered, quietly: "If Miss Grant
is satisfied, I am," and peace was once more restored.
Margaret sharpened her charcoals and bent over
her drawing. She was so agitated she could not trust
herself to touch its surface. "If I am SATISFIED," she
kept repeating to herself. The words, somehow,
seemed to carry a reproach with them. "Why
shouldn't I be satisfied.? I have no more rights in
the room than the other students about me; that is,
I thought I hadn't until I heard what he said. How
foolish for him to cause all this fuss about nothing,
and make me so conspicuous."
But even as she said the words to herself she remembered
Oliver's tense figure and the look of indignation
on his face. She had never been accustomed
to seeing men take up the cudgels for women.
There had been no opportunity, perhaps, nor cause,
but even if there had been, she could think of no one
whom she had ever met who would have done as
much for her just because she was a woman.
A little sob, which she could not have explained
to herself, welled up to her throat. Much as she
gloried in her own self-reliance, she suddenly and
unexpectedly found herself exulting in a quality
heretofore unknown to her--that quality which had
compelled an almost total stranger to take her part.
Then the man himself! How straight and strong
and handsome he was as he stood looking at Judson,
and then the uplifted arm, the quick spring, and,
best of all, the calm, graceful way in which he had
handed her the chair! She could not get the picture
out of her mind. Last, she remembered with
a keen sense of pleasure the chivalrous look in his
face when he held out his hand to the man who a
moment before had received its full weight about
She had not regained mastery of herself even when
she leaned across her drawing-board, pretending to
be absorbed in her work. The curves of the Milo
seemed in some strange way to have melted into the
semblance of the outlines of other visions sunk deep
in her soul since the days of her childhood--visions
which for years past had been covered over by the
ice of a cold, hard puritanical training, that had
prevented any bubbles of sentiment from ever rising to
the surface of her heart. As remembrances of these
visions rushed through her mind the half-draped
woman, with the face of the Madonna and the soul
of the Universal Mother shining through every line
of her beautiful body, no longer stood before her.
It was a knight in glittering armor now, with drawn
sword and visor up, beneath which looked out the
face of a beautiful youth aflame with the fire of a
holy zeal. She caught the flash of the sun on his
breastplate of silver, and the sweep of his blade, and
heard his clarion voice sing out. And then again,
as she closed her eyes, this calm, lifeless cast became
a gallant, blue-eyed prince, who knelt beside her and
kissed her finger-tips, his doffed plumes trailing at
When the band of students were leaving the rooms
that night, Margaret called Oliver to her side, and
extending her hand, said, with a direct simplicity that
carried conviction in every tone of her voice and in
which no trace of her former emotions were visible:
"I hope you'll forgive me, Mr. Horn. I'm all
alone here in this city and I have grown so accustomed
to depending on myself that, perhaps, I failed
to understand how you felt about it. I am very
grateful to you. Good-night."
She had turned away before he could do more than
express his regret over the occurrence. He wanted
to follow her; to render her some assistance; to
comfort her in some way. It hurt him to see her go
out alone into the night. He wished he might offer
his arm, escort her home, make some atonement for
the pain he had caused her. But there was a certain
proud poise of the head and swift glance of the eye
which held him back.