Part 1 out of 4
The Four Million
by O Henry
~Not very long ago some one invented the assertion that there were
only "Four Hundred" people in New York City who were really worth
noticing. But a wiser man has arisen--the census taker--and his
larger estimate of human interest has been preferred in marking out
the field of these little stories of the "Four Million."~
THE GIFT OF THE MAGI
A COSMOPOLITE IN A CAFE
THE SKYLIGHT ROOM
A SERVICE OF LOVE
THE COMING-OUT OF MAGGIE
MAN ABOUT TOWN
THE COP AND THE ANTHEM
AN ADJUSTMENT OF NATURE
MEMOIRS OF A YELLOW DOG
THE LOVE-PHILTRE OF IKEY SCHOENSTEIN
MAMMON AND THE ARCHER
SPRINGTIME A LA CARTE
THE GREEN DOOR
FROM THE CABBY'S SEAT
AN UNFINISHED STORY
THE CALIPH, CUPID AND THE CLOCK
SISTERS OF THE GOLDEN CIRCLE
THE ROMANCE OF A BUSY BROKER
AFTER TWENTY YEARS
LOST ON DRESS PARADE
THE FURNISHED ROOM
THE BRIEF DEBUT OF TILDY
Tobin and me, the two of us, went down to Coney one day, for there
was four dollars between us, and Tobin had need of distractions.
For there was Katie Mahorner, his sweetheart, of County Sligo, lost
since she started for America three months before with two hundred
dollars, her own savings, and one hundred dollars from the sale of
Tobin's inherited estate, a fine cottage and pig on the Bog
Shannaugh. And since the letter that Tobin got saying that she had
started to come to him not a bit of news had he heard or seen of
Katie Mahorner. Tobin advertised in the papers, but nothing could be
found of the colleen.
So, to Coney me and Tobin went, thinking that a turn at the chutes
and the smell of the popcorn might raise the heart in his bosom. But
Tobin was a hardheaded man, and the sadness stuck in his skin. He
ground his teeth at the crying balloons; he cursed the moving
pictures; and, though he would drink whenever asked, he scorned Punch
and Judy, and was for licking the tintype men as they came.
So I gets him down a side way on a board walk where the attractions
were some less violent. At a little six by eight stall Tobin halts,
with a more human look in his eye.
"'Tis here," says he, "I will be diverted. I'll have the palm of me
hand investigated by the wonderful palmist of the Nile, and see if
what is to be will be."
Tobin was a believer in signs and the unnatural in nature. He
possessed illegal convictions in his mind along the subjects of black
cats, lucky numbers, and the weather predictions in the papers.
We went into the enchanted chicken coop, which was fixed mysterious
with red cloth and pictures of hands with lines crossing 'em like a
railroad centre. The sign over the door says it is Madame Zozo the
Egyptian Palmist. There was a fat woman inside in a red jumper with
pothooks and beasties embroidered upon it. Tobin gives her ten cents
and extends one of his hands. She lifts Tohin's hand, which is own
brother to the hoof of a drayhorse, and examines it to see whether
'tis a stone in the frog or a cast shoe he has come for.
"Man," says this Madame Zozo, "the line of your fate shows--"
"Tis not me foot at all," says Tobin, interrupting. "Sure, 'tis no
beauty, but ye hold the palm of me hand."
"The line shows," says the Madame, "that ye've not arrived at your
time of life without bad luck. And there's more to come. The mound
of Venus--or is that a stone bruise?--shows that ye've been in love.
There's been trouble in your life on account of your sweetheart."
"'Tis Katie Mahorner she has references with," whispers Tobin to me
in a loud voice to one side.
"I see," says the palmist, "a great deal of sorrow and tribulation
with one whom ye cannot forget. I see the lines of designation point
to the letter K and the letter M in her name."
"Whist!" says Tobin to me, "do ye hear that?"
"Look out," goes on the palmist, "for a dark man and a light woman;
for they'll both bring ye trouble. Ye'll make a voyage upon the
water very soon, and have a financial loss. I see one line that
brings good luck. There's a man coming into your life who will fetch
ye good fortune. Ye'll know him when ye see him by his crooked
"Is his name set down?" asks Tobin. "'Twill be convenient in the way
of greeting when he backs up to dump off the good luck."
"His name," says the palmist, thoughtful looking, "is not spelled out
by the lines, but they indicate 'tis a long one, and the letter 'o'
should be in it. There's no more to tell. Good-evening. Don't
block up the door."
"'Tis wonderful how she knows," says Tobin as we walk to the pier.
As we squeezed through the gates a nigger man sticks his lighted
segar against Tobin's ear, and there is trouble. Tobin hammers his
neck, and the women squeal, and by presence of mind I drag the little
man out of the way before the police comes. Tobin is always in an
ugly mood when enjoying himself.
On the boat going back, when the man calls "Who wants the good-
looking waiter?" Tobin tried to plead guilty, feeling the desire to
blow the foam off a crock of suds, but when he felt in his pocket he
found himself discharged for lack of evidence. Somebody had
disturbed his change during the commotion. So we sat, dry, upon the
stools, listening to the Dagoes fiddling on deck. If anything, Tobin
was lower in spirits and less congenial with his misfortunes than
when we started.
On a seat against the railing was a young woman dressed suitable for
red automobiles, with hair the colour of an unsmoked meerschaum. In
passing by, Tobin kicks her foot without intentions, and, being
polite to ladies when in drink, he tries to give his hat a twist
while apologising. But he knocks it off, and the wind carries it
Tobin came back and sat down, and I began to look out for him, for
the man's adversities were becoming frequent. He was apt, when
pushed so close by hard luck, to kick the best dressed man he could
see, and try to take command of the boat.
Presently Tobin grabs my arm and says, excited: "Jawn," says he, "do
ye know what we're doing? We're taking a voyage upon the water."
"There now," says I; "subdue yeself. The boat'l1 land in ten minutes
"Look," says he, "at the light lady upon the bench. And have ye
forgotten the nigger man that burned me ear? And isn't the money I
had gone--a dollar sixty-five it was?"
I thought he was no more than summing up his catastrophes so as to
get violent with good excuse, as men will do, and I tried to make him
understand such things was trifles.
"Listen," says Tobin. "Ye've no ear for the gift of prophecy or the
miracles of the inspired. What did the palmist lady tell ye out of
me hand? 'Tis coming true before your eyes. 'Look out,' says she,
'for a dark man and a light woman; they'll bring ye trouble.' Have
ye forgot the nigger man, though be got some of it back from me fist?
Can ye show me a lighter woman than the blonde lady that was the
cause of me hat falling in the water? And where's the dollar sixty-
five I had in me vest when we left the shooting gallery?"
The way Tobin put it,it did seem to corroborate the art of
prediction, though it looked to me that these accidents could happen
to any one at Coney without the implication of palmistry.
Tobin got up and walked around on deck, looking close at the
passengers out of his little red eyes. I asked him the
interpretation of his movements. Ye never know what Tobin has in his
mind until he begins to carry it out.
"Ye should know," says he, "I'm working out the salvation promised
by the lines in me palm. I'm looking for the crooked-nose man that's
to bring the good luck. 'Tis all that will save us. Jawn, did ye
ever see a straighter-nosed gang of hellions in the days of your
'Twas the nine-thirty boat, and we landed and walked up-town through
Twenty-second Street, Tobin being without his hat.
On a street corner, standing under a gas-light and looking over the
elevated road at the moon, was a man. A long man he was, dressed
decent, with a segar between his teeth, and I saw that his nose made
two twists from bridge to end, like the wriggle of a snake. Tobin
saw it at the same time, and I heard him breathe hard like a horse
when you take the saddle off. He went straight up to the man, and
I went with him.
"Good-night to ye," Tobin says to the man. The man takes out his
segar and passes the compliments, sociable.
"Would ye hand us your name," asks Tobin, "and let us look at the
size of it? It may be our duty to become acquainted with ye."
"My name" says the man, polite, "is Friedenhausman--Maximus G.
"'Tis the right length," says Tobin. "Do you spell it with an 'o'
anywhere down the stretch of it?"
"I do not," says the man.
"~Can~ ye spell it with an 'o'?" inquires Tobin, turning anxious.
"If your conscience," says the man with the nose, "is indisposed
toward foreign idioms ye might, to please yourself, smuggle the
letter into the penultimate syllable."
"'Tis well," says Tobin. "Ye're in the presence of Jawn Malone and
"Tis highly appreciated," says the man, with a bow. "And now since
I cannot conceive that ye would hold a spelling bee upon the street
corner, will ye name some reasonable excuse for being at large?"
"By the two signs," answers Tobin, trying to explain, "which ye
display according to the reading of the Egyptian palmist from the
sole of me hand, ye've been nominated to offset with good luck the
lines of trouble leading to the nigger man and the blonde lady with
her feet crossed in the boat, besides the financial loss of a dollar
sixty-five, all so far fulfilled according to Hoyle."
The man stopped smoking and looked at me.
"Have ye any amendments," he asks, "to offer to that statement, or
are ye one too? I thought by the looks of ye ye might have him in
"None," says I to him, "except that as one horseshoe resembles
another so are ye the picture of good luck as predicted by the hand
of me friend. If not, then the lines of Danny's hand may have been
crossed, I don't know."
"There's two of ye," says the man with the nose, looking up and down
for the sight of a policeman. "I've enjoyed your company immense.
With that he shoves his segar in his mouth and moves across the
street, stepping fast. But Tobin sticks close to one side of him
and me at the other.
"What!" says he, stopping on the opposite sidewalk and pushing back
his hat; "do ye follow me? I tell ye," he says, very loud, "I'm
proud to have met ye. But it is my desire to be rid of ye. I am off
to me home."
"Do," says Tobin, leaning against his sleeve. "Do be off to your
home. And I will sit at the door of it till ye come out in the
morning. For the dependence is upon ye to obviate the curse of the
nigger man and the blonde lady and the financial loss of the
"'Tis a strange hallucination," says the man, turning to me as a more
reasonable lunatic. "Hadn't ye better get him home?"
"Listen, man," says I to him. "Daniel Tobin is as sensible as he
ever was. Maybe he is a bit deranged on account of having drink
enough to disturb but not enough to settle his wits, but he is no
more than following out the legitimate path of his superstitions and
predicaments, which I will explain to you." With that I relates the
facts about the palmist lady and how the finger of suspicion points
to him as an instrument of good fortune. "Now, understand," I
concludes, "my position in this riot. I am the friend of me friend
Tobin, according to me interpretations. 'Tis easy to be a friend to
the prosperous, for it pays; 'tis not hard to be a friend to the
poor, for ye get puffed up by gratitude and have your picture printed
standing in front of a tenement with a scuttle of coal and an orphan
in each hand. But it strains the art of friendship to be true friend
to a born fool. And that's what I'm doing," says I, "for, in my
opinion, there's no fortune to be read from the palm of me hand that
wasn't printed there with the handle of a pick. And, though ye've
got the crookedest nose in New York City, I misdoubt that all the
fortune-tellers doing business could milk good luck from ye. But the
lines of Danny's hand pointed to ye fair, and I'll assist him to
experiment with ye until he's convinced ye're dry."
After that the man turns, sudden, to laughing. He leans against a
corner and laughs considerable. Then he claps me and Tobin on the
backs of us and takes us by an arm apiece.
"'Tis my mistake," says he. "How could I be expecting anything so
fine and wonderful to be turning the corner upon me? I came near
being found unworthy. Hard by," says he, "is a cafe, snug and
suitable for the entertainment of idiosyncrasies. Let us go there
and have drink while we discuss the unavailability of the
So saying, he marched me and Tobin to the back room of a saloon, and
ordered the drinks, and laid the money on the table. He looks at me
and Tobin like brothers of his, and we have the segars.
"Ye must know," says the man of destiny, "that me walk in life is one
that is called the literary. I wander abroad be night seeking
idiosyncrasies in the masses and truth in the heavens above. When ye
came upon me I was in contemplation of the elevated road in
conjunction with the chief luminary of night. The rapid transit is
poetry and art: the moon but a tedious, dry body, moving by rote.
But these are private opinions, for, in the business of literature,
the conditions are reversed. 'Tis me hope to be writing a book to
explain the strange things I have discovered in life."
"Ye will put me in a book," says Tobin, disgusted; "will ye put me
in a book?"
"I will not," says the man, "for the covers will not hold ye. Not
yet. The best I can do is to enjoy ye meself, for the time is not
ripe for destroying the limitations of print. Ye would look
fantastic in type. All alone by meself must I drink this cup of joy.
But, I thank ye, boys; I am truly grateful."
"The talk of ye," says Tobin, blowing through his moustache and
pounding the table with his fist, "is an eyesore to me patience.
There was good luck promised out of the crook of your nose, but ye
bear fruit like the bang of a drum. Ye resemble, with your noise of
books, the wind blowing through a crack. Sure, now, I would be
thinking the palm of me hand lied but for the coming true of the
nigger man and the blonde lady and--"
"Whist!" says the long man; "would ye be led astray by physiognomy?
Me nose will do what it can within bounds. Let us have these glasses
filled again, for 'tis good to keep idiosyncrasies well moistened,
they being subject to deterioration in a dry moral atmosphere."
So, the man of literature makes good, to my notion, for he pays,
cheerful, for everything, the capital of me and Tobin being exhausted
by prediction. But Tobin is sore, and drinks quiet, with the red
showing in his eye.
By and by we moved out, for 'twas eleven o'clock, and stands a bit
upon the sidewalk. And then the man says he must be going home, and
invites me and Tobin to walk that way. We arrives on a side street
two blocks away where there is a stretch of brick houses with high
stoops and iron fences. The man stops at one of them and looks up
at the top windows which he finds dark.
"'Tis me humble dwelling," says he, "and I begin to perceive by the
signs that me wife has retired to slumber. Therefore I will venture
a bit in the way of hospitality. 'Tis me wish that ye enter the
basement room, where we dine, and partake of a reasonable
refreshment. There will be some fine cold fowl and cheese and a
bottle or two of ale. Ye will be welcome to enter and eat, for I am
indebted to ye for diversions."
The appetite and conscience of me and Tobin was congenial to the
proposition, though 'twas sticking hard in Danny's superstitions to
think that a few drinks and a cold lunch should represent the good
fortune promised by the palm of his hand.
"Step down the steps," says the man with the crooked nose, "and I
will enter by the door above and let ye in. I will ask the new girl
we have in the kitchen," says he, "to make ye a pot of coffee to
drink before ye go. 'Tis fine coffee Katie Mahorner makes for a
green girl just landed three months. Step in," says the man, "and
I'll send her down to ye."
THE GIFT OF THE MAGI
One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. And sixty cents
of it was in pennies. Pennies saved one and two at a time by
bulldozing the grocer and the vegetable man and the butcher until
one's cheeks burned with the silent imputation of parsimony that such
close dealing implied. Three times Della counted it. One dollar and
eighty-seven cents. And the next day would be Christmas.
There was clearly nothing to do but flop down on the shabby little
couch and howl. So Della did it. Which instigates the moral
reflection that life is made up of sobs, sniffles, and smiles, with
While the mistress of the home is gradually subsiding from the first
stage to the second, take a look at the home. A furnished flat at $8
per week. It did not exactly beggar description, but it certainly
had that word on the lookout for the mendicancy squad. In the
vestibule below was a letter-box into which no letter would go, and
an electric button from which no mortal finger could coax a ring.
Also appertaining thereunto was a card bearing the name "Mr. James
Dillingham Young." The "Dillingham" had been flung to the breeze
during a former period of prosperity when its possessor was being
paid $30 per week. Now, when the income was shrunk to $20, the
letters of "Dillingham" looked blurred, as though they were thinking
seriously of contracting to a modest and unassuming D. But whenever
Mr. James Dillingham Young came home and reached his flat above he
was called "Jim" and greatly hugged by Mrs. James Dillingham Young,
already introduced to you as Della. Which is all very good.
Della finished her cry and attended to her cheeks with the powder
rag. She stood by the window and looked out dully at a grey cat
walking a grey fence in a grey backyard. Tomorrow would be Christmas
Day, and she had only $1.87 with which to buy Jim a present. She had
been saving every penny she could for months, with this result.
Twenty dollars a week doesn't go far. Expenses had been greater than
she had calculated. They always are. Only $1.87 to buy a present
for Jim. Her Jim. Many a happy hour she had spent planning for
something nice for him. Something fine and rare and sterling--
something just a little bit near to being worthy of the honour of
being owned by Jim.
There was a pier-glass between the windows of the room. Perhaps you
have seen a pier-glass in an $8 flat. A very thin and very agile
person may, by observing his reflection in a rapid sequence of
longitudinal strips, obtain a fairly accurate conception of his
looks. Della, being slender, had mastered the art.
Suddenly she whirled from the window and stood before the glass.
Her eyes were shining brilliantly, but her face had lost its colour
within twenty seconds. Rapidly she pulled down her hair and let it
fall to its full length.
Now, there were two possessions of the James Dillingham Youngs in
which they both took a mighty pride. One was Jim's gold watch that
had been his father's and his grandfather's. The other was Della's
hair. Had the Queen of Sheba lived in the flat across the airshaft,
Della would have let her hair hang out the window some day to dry
just to depreciate Her Majesty's jewels and gifts. Had King Solomon
been the janitor, with all his treasures piled up in the basement,
Jim would have pulled out his watch every time he passed, just to see
him pluck at his beard from envy.
So now Della's beautiful hair fell about her, rippling and shining
like a cascade of brown waters. It reached below her knee and made
itself almost a garment for her. And then she did it up again
nervously and quickly. Once she faltered for a minute and stood
still while a tear or two splashed on the worn red carpet.
On went her old brown jacket; on went her old brown hat. With a
whirl of skirts and with the brilliant sparkle still in her eyes, she
fluttered out the door and down the stairs to the street.
Where she stopped the sign read: "Mme. Sofronie. Hair Goods of All
Kinds." One flight up Della ran, and collected herself, panting.
Madame, large, too white, chilly, hardly looked the "Sofronie."
"Will you buy my hair?" asked Della.
"I buy hair," said Madame. "Take yer hat off and let's have a sight
at the looks of it."
Down rippled the brown cascade. "Twenty dollars," said Madame,
lifting the mass with a practised hand.
"Give it to me quick," said Della.
Oh, and the next two hours tripped by on rosy wings. Forget the
hashed metaphor. She was ransacking the stores for Jim's present.
She found it at last. It surely had been made for Jim and no one
else. There was no other like it in any of the stores, and she had
turned all of them inside out. It was a platinum fob chain simple
and chaste in design, properly proclaiming its value by substance
alone and not by meretricious ornamentation--as all good things
should do. It was even worthy of The Watch. As soon as she saw it
she that it must be Jim's. It was like him. Quietness and value--
the description applied to both. Twenty-one dollars they took from
her for it, and she hurried home with the 87 cents. With that chain
on his watch Jim might be properly anxious about the time in any
company. Grand as the watch was, he sometimes looked at it on the
sly on account of the old leather strap that he used in place of a
When Della reached home her intoxication gave way a little to
prudence and reason. She got out her curling irons and lighted the
gas and went to work repairing the ravages made by generosity added
to love. Which is always a tremendous task, dear friends--a mammoth
Within forty minutes her head was covered with tiny, close-lying
curls that made her look wonderfully like a truant schoolboy. She
looked at her reflection in the mirror long, carefully, and
"If Jim doesn't kill me," she said to herself, "before he takes a
second look at me, he'll say I look like a Coney Island chorus girl.
But what could I do--oh! what could I do with a dollar and eighty-
At 7 o'clock the coffee was made and the frying-pan was on the back
of the stove hot and ready to cook the chops.
Jim was never late. Della doubled the fob chain in her hand and sat
on the corner of the table near the door that he always entered. Then
she heard his step on the stair away down on the first flight, and
she turned white for just a moment. She had a habit for saying little
silent prayers about the simplest everyday things, and now she
whispered: "Please God, make him think I am still pretty."
The door opened and Jim stepped in and closed it. He looked thin and
very serious. Poor fellow, he was only twenty-two--and to be
burdened with a family! He needed a new overcoat and he was without
Jim stopped inside the door, as immovable as a setter at the scent of
quail. His eyes were fixed upon Della, and there was an expression
in them that she could not read, and it terrified her. It was not
anger, nor surprise, nor disapproval, nor horror, nor any of the
sentiments that she had been prepared for. He simply stared at her
fixedly with that peculiar expression on his face.
Della wriggled off the table and went for him.
"Jim, darling," she cried, "don't look at me that way. I had my hair
cut off and sold because I couldn't have lived through Christmas
without giving you a present. It'll grow out again--you won't mind,
will you? I just had to do it. My hair grows awfully fast. Say
'Merry Christmas!' Jim, and let's be happy. You don't know what a
nice--what a beautiful, nice gift I've got for you."
"You've cut off your hair?" asked Jim, laboriously, as if he had not
arrived at that patent fact yet even after the hardest mental labor.
"Cut it off and sold it," said Della. "Don't you like me just as
well, anyhow? I'm me without my hair, ain't I?"
Jim looked about the room curiously.
"You say your hair is gone?" he said, with an air almost of idiocy.
"You needn't look for it," said Della. "It's sold, I tell you--sold
and gone, too. It's Christmas Eve, boy. Be good to me, for it went
for you. Maybe the hairs of my head were numbered," she went on with
sudden serious sweetness, "but nobody could ever count my love for
you. Shall I put the chops on, Jim?"
Out of his trance Jim seemed quickly to wake. He enfolded his Della.
For ten seconds let us regard with discreet scrutiny some
inconsequential object in the other direction. Eight dollars a week
or a million a year--what is the difference? A mathematician or a
wit would give you the wrong answer. The magi brought valuable
gifts, but that was not among them. This dark assertion will be
illuminated later on.
Jim drew a package from his overcoat pocket and threw it upon the
"Don't make any mistake, Dell," he said, "about me. I don't think
there's anything in the way of a haircut or a shave or a shampoo that
could make me like my girl any less. But if you'll unwrap that
package you may see why you had me going a while at first."
White fingers and nimble tore at the string and paper. And then an
ecstatic scream of joy; and then, alas! a quick feminine change to
hysterical tears and wails, necessitating the immediate employment of
all the comforting powers of the lord of the flat.
For there lay The Combs--the set of combs, side and back, that Della
had worshipped long in a Broadway window. Beautiful combs, pure
tortoise shell, with jewelled rims--just the shade to wear in the
beautiful vanished hair. They were expensive combs, she knew, and
her heart had simply craved and yearned over them without the least
hope of possession. And now, they were hers, but the tresses that
should have adorned the coveted adornments were gone.
But she hugged them to her bosom, and at length she was able to look
up with dim eyes and a smile and say: "My hair grows so fast, Jim!"
And them Della leaped up like a little singed cat and cried, "Oh,
Jim had not yet seen his beautiful present. She held it out to him
eagerly upon her open palm. The dull precious metal seemed to flash
with a reflection of her bright and ardent spirit.
"Isn't it a dandy, Jim? I hunted all over town to find it. You'll
have to look at the time a hundred times a day now. Give me your
watch. I want to see how it looks on it."
Instead of obeying, Jim tumbled down on the couch and put his hands
under the back of his head and smiled.
"Dell," said he, "let's put our Christmas presents away and keep 'em
a while. They're too nice to use just at present. I sold the watch
to get the money to buy your combs. And now suppose you put the
The magi, as you know, were wise men--wonderfully wise men--who
brought gifts to the Babe in the manger. They invented the art of
giving Christmas presents. Being wise, their gifts were no doubt
wise ones, possibly bearing the privilege of exchange in case of
duplication. And here I have lamely related to you the uneventful
chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely
sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house.
But in a last word to the wise of these days let it be said that of
all who give gifts these two were the wisest. Of all who give and
receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest.
They are the magi.
A COSMOPOLITE IN A CAFE
At midnight the cafe was crowded. By some chance the little table
at which I sat had escaped the eye of incomers, and two vacant chairs
at it extended their arms with venal hospitality to the influx of
And then a cosmopolite sat in one of them, and I was glad, for I held
a theory that since Adam no true citizen of the world has existed.
We hear of them, and we see foreign labels on much luggage, but we
find travellers instead of cosmopolites.
I invoke your consideration of the scene--the marble-topped tables,
the range of leather-upholstered wall seats, the gay company, the
ladies dressed in demi-state toilets, speaking in an exquisite
visible chorus of taste, economy, opulence or art; the sedulous and
largess-loving ~garcons~, the music wisely catering to all with its
raids upon the composers; the ~melange~ of talk and laughter--and,
if you will, the Wurzburger in the tall glass cones that bend to your
lips as a ripe cherry sways on its branch to the beak of a robber
jay. I was told by a sculptor from Mauch Chunk that the scene was
My cosmopolite was named E. Rushmore Coglan, and he will be heard
from next summer at Coney Island. He is to establish a new
"attraction" there, he informed me, offering kingly diversion. And
then his conversation rang along parallels of latitude and longitude.
He took the great, round world in his hand, so to speak, familiarly,
contemptuously, and it seemed no larger than the seed of a Maraschino
cherry in a ~table d'hote~ grape fruit. He spoke disrespectfully of
the equator, he skipped from continent to continent, he derided the
zones, he mopped up the high seas with his napkin. With a wave of
his hand he would speak of a certain bazaar in Hyderabad. Whiff! He
would have you on skis in Lapland. Zip! Now you rode the breakers
with the Kanakas at Kealaikahiki. Presto! He dragged you through an
Arkansas post-oak swamp, let you dry for a moment on the alkali
plains of his Idaho ranch, then whirled you into the society of
Viennese archdukes. Anon he would be telling you of a cold he
acquired in a Chicago lake breeze and how old Escamila cured it in
Buenos Ayres with a hot infusion of the ~chuchula~ weed. You would
have addressed a letter to "E. Rushmore Coglan, Esq., the Earth,
Solar System, the Universe," and have mailed it, feeling confident
that it would be delivered to him.
I was sure that I had found at last the one true cosmopolite since
Adam, and I listened to his worldwide discourse fearful lest I should
discover in it the local note of the mere globe-trotter. But his
opinions never fluttered or drooped; he was as impartial to cities,
countries and continents as the winds or gravitation. And as
E. Rushmore Coglan prattled of this little planet I thought with glee
of a great almost-cosmopolite who wrote for the whole world and
dedicated himself to Bombay. In a poem he has to say that there is
pride and rivalry between the cities of the earth, and that "the men
that breed from them, they traffic up and down, but cling to their
cities' hem as a child to the mother's gown." And whenever they walk
"by roaring streets unknown" they remember their native city "most
faithful, foolish, fond; making her mere-breathed name their bond
upon their bond." And my glee was roused because I had caught Mr.
Kipling napping. Here I had found a man not made from dust; one who
had no narrow boasts of birthplace or country, one who, if he bragged
at all, would brag of his whole round globe against the Martians and
the inhabitants of the Moon.
Expression on these subjects was precipitated from E. Rushmore Coglan
by the third corner to our table. While Coglan was describing to me
the topography along the Siberian Railway the orchestra glided into
a medley. The concluding air was "Dixie," and as the exhilarating
notes tumbled forth they were almost overpowered by a great clapping
of hands from almost every table.
It is worth a paragraph to say that this remarkable scene can be
witnessed every evening in numerous cafes in the City of New York.
Tons of brew have been consumed over theories to account for it.
Some have conjectured hastily that all Southerners in town hie
themselves to cafes at nightfall. This applause of the "rebel" air
in a Northern city does puzzle a little; but it is not insolvable.
The war with Spain, many years' generous mint and watermelon crops,
a few long-shot winners at the New Orleans race-track, and the
brilliant banquets given by the Indiana and Kansas citizens who
compose the North Carolina Society have made the South rather a
"fad" in Manhattan. Your manicure will lisp softly that your left
forefinger reminds her so much of a gentleman's in Richmond, Va.
Oh, certainly; but many a lady has to work now--the war, you know.
When "Dixie" was being played a dark-haired young man sprang up from
somewhere with a Mosby guerrilla yell and waved frantically his soft-
brimmed hat. Then he strayed through the smoke, dropped into the
vacant chair at our table and pulled out cigarettes.
The evening was at the period when reserve is thawed. One of us
mentioned three Wurzburgers to the waiter; the dark-haired young man
acknowledged his inclusion in the order by a smile and a nod. I
hastened to ask him a question because I wanted to try out a theory
"Would you mind telling me," I began, "whether you are from--"
The fist of E. Rushmore Coglan banged the table and I was jarred into
"Excuse me," said he, "but that's a question I never like to hear
asked. What does it matter where a man is from? Is it fair to judge
a man by his post-office address? Why, I've seen Kentuckians who
hated whiskey, Virginians who weren't descended from Pocahontas,
Indianians who hadn't written a novel, Mexicans who didn't wear
velvet trousers with silver dollars sewed along the seams, funny
Englishmen, spendthrift Yankees, cold-blooded Southerners, narrow-
minded Westerners, and New Yorkers who were too busy to stop for an
hour on the street to watch a one-armed grocer's clerk do up
cranberries in paper bags. Let a man be a man and don't handicap him
with the label of any section."
"Pardon me," I said, "but my curiosity was not altogether an idle
one. I know the South, and when the band plays 'Dixie' I like to
observe. I have formed the belief that the man who applauds that air
with special violence and ostensible sectional loyalty is invariably
a native of either Secaucus, N.J., or the district between Murray
Hill Lyceum and the Harlem River, this city. I was about to put my
opinion to the test by inquiring of this gentleman when you
interrupted with your own--larger theory, I must confess."
And now the dark-haired young man spoke to me, and it became evident
that his mind also moved along its own set of grooves.
"I should like to be a periwinkle," said he, mysteriously, "on the
top of a valley, and sing tooralloo-ralloo."
This was clearly too obscure, so I turned again to Coglan.
"I've been around the world twelve times," said he. "I know an
Esquimau in Upernavik who sends to Cincinnati for his neckties, and
I saw a goatherder in Uruguay who won a prize in a Battle Creek
breakfast food puzzle competition. I pay rent on a room in Cairo,
Egypt, and another in Yokohama all the year around. I've got
slippers waiting for me in a tea-house in Shanghai, and I don't have
to tell 'em how to cook my eggs in Rio de Janeiro or Seattle. It's a
mighty little old world. What's the use of bragging about being from
the North, or the South, or the old manor house in the dale, or
Euclid avenue, Cleveland, or Pike's Peak, or Fairfax County, Va., or
Hooligan's Flats or any place? It'll be a better world when we quit
being fools about some mildewed town or ten acres of swampland just
because we happened to be born there."
"You seem to be a genuine cosmopolite," I said admiringly. "But it
also seems that you would decry patriotism."
"A relic of the stone age," declared Coglan, warmly. "We are all
brothers--Chinamen, Englishmen, Zulus, Patagonians and the people
in the bend of the Kaw River. Some day all this petty pride in one's
city or State or section or country will be wiped out, and we'll all
be citizens of the world, as we ought to be."
"But while you are wandering in foreign lands," I persisted, "do not
your thoughts revert to some spo--some dear and--"
"Nary a spot," interrupted E. R. Coglan, flippantly. "The
terrestrial, globular, planetary hunk of matter, slightly flattened
at the poles, and known as the Earth, is my abode. I've met a good
many object-bound citizens of this country abroad. I've seen men
from Chicago sit in a gondola in Venice on a moonlight night and brag
about their drainage canal. I've seen a Southerner on being
introduced to the King of England hand that monarch, without batting
his eyes, the information that his grandaunt on his mother's side was
related by marriage to the Perkinses, of Charleston. I knew a New
Yorker who was kidnapped for ransom by some Afghanistan bandits. His
people sent over the money and he came back to Kabul with the agent.
'Afghanistan?' the natives said to him through an interpreter.
'Well, not so slow, do you think?' 'Oh, I don't know,' says he, and
he begins to tell them about a cab driver at Sixth avenue and
Broadway. Those ideas don't suit me. I'm not tied down to anything
that isn't 8,000 miles in diameter. Just put me down as E. Rushmore
Coglan, citizen of the terrestrial sphere."
My cosmopolite made a large adieu and left me, for he thought he saw
some one through the chatter and smoke whom he knew. So I was left
with the would-be periwinkle, who was reduced to Wurzburger without
further ability to voice his aspirations to perch, melodious, upon
the summit of a valley.
I sat reflecting upon my evident cosmopolite and wondering how the
poet had managed to miss him. He was my discovery and I believed in
him. How was it? "The men that breed from them they traffic up and
down, but cling to their cities' hem as a child to the mother's
Not so E. Rushmore Coglan. With the whole world for his--
My meditations were interrupted by a tremendous noise and conflict
in another part of the cafe. I saw above the heads of the seated
patrons E. Rushmore Coglan and a stranger to me engaged in terrific
battle. They fought between the tables like Titans, and glasses
crashed, and men caught their hats up and were knocked down, and a
brunette screamed, and a blonde began to sing "Teasing."
My cosmopolite was sustaining the pride and reputation of the Earth
when the waiters closed in on both combatants with their famous
flying wedge formation and bore them outside, still resisting.
I called McCarthy, one of the French ~garcons~, and asked him the
cause of the conflict.
"The man with the red tie" (that was my cosmopolite), said he, "got
hot on account of things said about the bum sidewalks and water
supply of the place he come from by the other guy."
"Why," said I, bewildered, "that man is a citizen of the world--a
"Originally from Mattawamkeag, Maine, he said," continued McCarthy,
"and he wouldn't stand for no knockin' the place."
The May moon shone bright upon the private boarding-house of Mrs.
Murphy. By reference to the almanac a large amount of territory will
be discovered upon which its rays also fell. Spring was in its
heydey, with hay fever soon to follow. The parks were green with new
leaves and buyers for the Western and Southern trade. Flowers and
summer-resort agents were blowing; the air and answers to Lawson were
growing milder; handorgans, fountains and pinochle were playing
The windows of Mrs. Murphy's boarding-house were open. A group of
boarders were seated on the high stoop upon round, flat mats like
In one of the second-floor front windows Mrs. McCaskey awaited her
husband. Supper was cooling on the table. Its heat went into Mrs.
At nine Mr. McCaskey came. He carried his coat on his arm and his
pipe in his teeth; and he apologised for disturbing the boarders on
the steps as he selected spots of stone between them on which to set
his size 9, width Ds.
As he opened the door of his room he received a surprise. Instead of
the usual stove-lid or potato-masher for him to dodge, came only
Mr. McCaskey reckoned that the benign May moon had softened the
breast of his spouse.
"I heard ye," came the oral substitutes for kitchenware. "Ye can
apollygise to riff-raff of the streets for settin' yer unhandy feet
on the tails of their frocks, but ye'd walk on the neck of yer wife
the length of a clothes-line without so much as a 'Kiss me fut,' and
I'm sure it's that long from rubberin' out the windy for ye and the
victuals cold such as there's money to buy after drinkin' up yer
wages at Gallegher's every Saturday evenin', and the gas man here
twice to-day for his."
"Woman!" said Mr. McCaskey, dashing his coat and hat upon a chair,
"the noise of ye is an insult to me appetite. When ye run down
politeness ye take the mortar from between the bricks of the
foundations of society. 'Tis no more than exercisin' the acrimony
of a gentleman when ye ask the dissent of ladies blockin' the way
for steppin' between them. Will ye bring the pig's face of ye out
of the windy and see to the food?"
Mrs. McCaskey arose heavily and went to the stove. There was
something in her manner that warned Mr. McCaskey. When the corners
of her mouth went down suddenly like a barometer it usually foretold
a fall of crockery and tinware.
"Pig's face, is it?" said Mrs. MeCaskey, and hurled a stewpan full of
bacon and turnips at her lord.
Mr. McCaskey was no novice at repartee. He knew what should follow
the entree. On the table was a roast sirloin of pork, garnished with
shamrocks. He retorted with this, and drew the appropriate return of
a bread pudding in an earthen dish. A hunk of Swiss cheese
accurately thrown by her husband struck Mrs. McCaskey below one eye.
When she replied with a well-aimed coffee-pot full of a hot, black,
semi-fragrant liquid the battle, according to courses, should have
But Mr. McCaskey was no 50-cent ~table d'hoter~. Let cheap Bohemians
consider coffee the end, if they would. Let them make that ~faux
pas~. He was foxier still. Finger-bowls were not beyond the compass
of his experience. They were not to be had in the Pension Murphy;
but their equivalent was at hand. Triumphantly he sent the granite-
ware wash basin at the head of his matrimonial adversary. Mrs.
McCaskey dodged in time. She reached for a flatiron, with which, as
a sort of cordial, she hoped to bring the gastronomical duel to a
close. But a loud, wailing scream downstairs caused both her and Mr.
McCaskey to pause in a sort of involuntary armistice.
On the sidewalk at the corner of the house Policeman Cleary was
standing with one ear upturned, listening to the crash of household
"'Tis Jawn McCaskey and his missis at it again," meditated the
policeman. "I wonder shall I go up and stop the row. I will not.
Married folks they are; and few pleasures they have. 'Twill not last
long. Sure, they'll have to borrow more dishes to keep it up with."
And just then came the loud scream below-stairs, betokening fear or
dire extremity. "'Tis probably the cat," said Policeman Cleary, and
walked hastily in the other direction.
The boarders on the steps were fluttered. Mr. Toomey, an insurance
solicitor by birth and an investigator by profession, went inside to
analyse the scream. He returned with the news that Mrs. Murphy's
little boy, Mike, was lost. Following the messenger, out bounced
Mrs. Murphy--two hundred pounds in tears and hysterics, clutching the
air and howling to the sky for the loss of thirty pounds of freckles
and mischief. Bathos, truly; but Mr. Toomey sat down at the side of
Miss Purdy, millinery, and their hands came together in sympathy.
The two old maids, Misses Walsh, who complained every day about the
noise in the halls, inquired immediately if anybody had looked behind
Major Grigg, who sat by his fat wife on the top step, arose and
buttoned his coat. "The little one lost?" he exclaimed. "I will
scour the city." His wife never allowed him out after dark. But now
she said: "Go, Ludovic!" in a baritone voice. "Whoever can look
upon that mother's grief without springing to her relief has a heart
of stone." "Give me some thirty or--sixty cents, my love," said the
Major. "Lost children sometimes stray far. I may need carfares."
Old man Denny, hall room, fourth floor back, who sat on the lowest
step, trying to read a paper by the street lamp, turned over a page
to follow up the article about the carpenters' strike. Mrs. Murphy
shrieked to the moon: "Oh, ar-r-Mike, f'r Gawd's sake, where is me
little bit av a boy?"
"When'd ye see him last?" asked old man Denny, with one eye on the
report of the Building Trades League.
"Oh," wailed Mrs. Murphy, "'twas yisterday, or maybe four hours ago!
I dunno. But it's lost he is, me little boy Mike. He was playin' on
the sidewalk only this mornin'--or was it Wednesday? I'm that busy
with work, 'tis hard to keep up with dates. But I've looked the
house over from top to cellar, and it's gone he is. Oh, for the love
Silent, grim, colossal, the big city has ever stood against its
revilers. They call it hard as iron; they say that no pulse of pity
beats in its bosom; they compare its streets with lonely forests and
deserts of lava. But beneath the hard crust of the lobster is found
a delectable and luscious food. Perhaps a different simile would
have been wiser. Still, nobody should take offence. We would call
no one a lobster without good and sufficient claws.
No calamity so touches the common heart of humanity as does the
straying of a little child. Their feet are so uncertain and feeble;
the ways are so steep and strange.
Major Griggs hurried down to the corner, and up the avenue into
Billy's place. "Gimme a rye-high," he said to the servitor.
"Haven't seen a bow-legged, dirty-faced little devil of a six-year-
old loot kid around here anywhere, have you?"
Mr. Toomey retained Miss Purdy's hand on the steps. "Think of that
dear little babe," said Miss Purdy, "lost from his mother's side--
perhaps already fallen beneath the iron hoofs of galloping steeds--
oh, isn't it dreadful?"
"Ain't that right?" agreed Mr. Toomey, squeezing her hand. "Say I
start out and help look for um!"
"Perhaps," said Miss Purdy, "you should. But, oh, Mr. Toomey, you
are so dashing--so reckless--suppose in your enthusiasm some accident
should befall you, then what--"
Old man Denny read on about the arbitration agreement, with one
finger on the lines.
In the second floor front Mr. and Mrs. McCaskey came to the window to
recover their second wind. Mr. McCaskey was scooping turnips out of
his vest with a crooked forefinger, and his lady was wiping an eye
that the salt of the roast pork had not benefited. They heard the
outcry below, and thrust their heads out of the window.
"'Tis little Mike is lost," said Mrs. McCaskey, in a hushed voice,
"the beautiful, little, trouble-making angel of a gossoon!"
"The bit of a boy mislaid?" said Mr. McCaskey, leaning out of the
window. "Why, now, that's bad enough, entirely. The childer, they
be different. If 'twas a woman I'd be willin', for they leave peace
behind 'em when they go."
Disregarding the thrust, Mrs. McCaskey caught her husband's arm.
"Jawn," she said, sentimentally, "Missis Murphy's little bye is lost.
'Tis a great city for losing little boys. Six years old he was.
Jawn, 'tis the same age our little bye would have been if we had had
one six years ago."
"We never did," said Mr. McCaskey, lingering with the fact.
"But if we had, Jawn, think what sorrow would be in our hearts this
night, with our little Phelan run away and stolen in the city
nowheres at all."
"Ye talk foolishness," said Mr. McCaskey. "'Tis Pat he would be
named, after me old father in Cantrim."
"Ye lie!" said Mrs. McCaskey, without anger. "Me brother was worth
tin dozen bog-trotting McCaskeys. After him would the bye be named."
She leaned over the window-sill and looked down at the hurrying and
"Jawn," said Mrs. McCaskey, softly, "I'm sorry I was hasty wid ye."
"'Twas hasty puddin', as ye say," said her husband, "and hurry-up
turnips and get-a-move-on-ye coffee. 'Twas what ye could call a
quick lunch, all right, and tell no lie."
Mrs. McCaskey slipped her arm inside her husband's and took his rough
hand in hers.
"Listen at the cryin' of poor Mrs. Murphy," she said. "'Tis an awful
thing for a bit of a bye to be lost in this great big city. If 'twas
our little Phelan, Jawn, I'd be breakin' me heart."
Awkwardly Mr. McCaskey withdrew his hand. But he laid it around the
nearing shoulders of his wife.
"'Tis foolishness, of course," said he, roughly, "but I'd be cut up
some meself if our little Pat was kidnapped or anything. But there
never was any childer for us. Sometimes I've been ugly and hard with
ye, Judy. Forget it."
They leaned together, and looked down at the heart-drama being acted
Long they sat thus. People surged along the sidewalk, crowding,
questioning, filling the air with rumours, and inconsequent surmises.
Mrs. Murphy ploughed back and forth in their midst, like a soft
mountain down which plunged an audible cataract of tears. Couriers
came and went.
Loud voices and a renewed uproar were raised in front of the
"What's up now, Judy?" asked Mr. McCaskey.
"'Tis Missis Murphy's voice," said Mrs. McCaskey, harking. "She
says she's after finding little Mike asleep behind the roll of old
linoleum under the bed in her room."
Mr. McCaskey laughed loudly.
"That's yer Phelan," he shouted, sardonically. "Divil a bit would a
Pat have done that trick. If the bye we never had is strayed and
stole, by the powers, call him Phelan, and see him hide out under the
bed like a mangy pup."
Mrs. McCaskey arose heavily, and went toward the dish closet, with
the corners of her mouth drawn down.
Policeman Cleary came back around the corner as the crowd dispersed.
Surprised, he upturned an ear toward the McCaskey apartment, where
the crash of irons and chinaware and the ring of hurled kitchen
utensils seemed as loud as before. Policeman Cleary took out his
"By the deported snakes!" he exclaimed, "Jawn McCaskey and his lady
have been fightin' for an hour and a quarter by the watch. The
missis could give him forty pounds weight. Strength to his arm."
Policeman Cleary strolled back around the corner.
Old man Denny folded his paper and hurried up the steps just as Mrs.
Murphy was about to lock the door for the night
THE SKYLIGHT ROOM
First Mrs. Parker would show you the double parlours. You would not
dare to interrupt her description of their advantages and of the
merits of the gentleman who had occupied them for eight years. Then
you would manage to stammer forth the confession that you were
neither a doctor nor a dentist. Mrs. Parker's manner of receiving
the admission was such that you could never afterward entertain the
same feeling toward your parents, who had neglected to train you up
in one of the professions that fitted Mrs. Parker's parlours.
Next you ascended one flight of stairs and looked at the second-
floor-back at $8. Convinced by her second-floor manner that it was
worth the $12 that Mr. Toosenberry always paid for it until he left
to take charge of his brother's orange plantation in Florida near
Palm Beach, where Mrs. McIntyre always spent the winters that had the
double front room with private bath, you managed to babble that you
wanted something still cheaper.
If you survived Mrs. Parker's scorn, you were taken to look at Mr.
Skidder's large hall room on the third floor. Mr. Skidder's room was
not vacant. He wrote plays and smoked cigarettes in it all day long.
But every room-hunter was made to visit his room to admire the
lambrequins. After each visit, Mr. Skidder, from the fright caused
by possible eviction, would pay something on his rent.
Then--oh, then--if you still stood on one foot, with your hot hand
clutching the three moist dollars in your pocket, and hoarsely
proclaimed your hideous and culpable poverty, nevermore would Mrs.
Parker be cicerone of yours. She would honk loudly the word" Clara,"
she would show you her back, and march downstairs. Then Clara, the
coloured maid, would escort you up the carpeted ladder that served
for the fourth flight, and show you the Skylight Room. It occupied
7x8 feet of floor space at the middle of the hall. On each side of
it was a dark lumber closet or storeroom.
In it was an iron cot, a washstand and a chair. A shelf was the
dresser. Its four bare walls seemed to close in upon you like the
sides of a coffin. Your hand crept to your throat, you gasped, you
looked up as from a well--and breathed once more. Through the glass
of the little skylight you saw a square of blue infinity.
"Two dollars, suh," Clara would say in her half-contemptuous, half-
One day Miss Leeson came hunting for a room. She carried a
typewriter made to be lugged around by a much larger lady. She was
a very little girl, with eyes and hair that had kept on growing after
she had stopped and that always looked as if they were saying:
"Goodness me ! Why didn't you keep up with us?"
Mrs. Parker showed her the double parlours. "In this closet," she
said, "one could keep a skeleton or anaesthetic or coal "
"But I am neither a doctor nor a dentist," said Miss Leeson, with
Mrs. Parker gave her the incredulous, pitying, sneering, icy stare
that she kept for those who failed to qualify as doctors or dentists,
and led the way to the second floor back.
"Eight dollars?" said Miss Leeson. "Dear me! I'm not Hetty if I do
look green. I'm just a poor little working girl. Show me something
higher and lower."
Mr. Skidder jumped and strewed the floor with cigarette stubs at the
rap on his door.
"Excuse me, Mr. Skidder," said Mrs. Parker, with her demon's smile at
his pale looks. "I didn't know you were in. I asked the lady to
have a look at your lambrequins."
"They're too lovely for anything," said Miss Leeson, smiling in
exactly the way the angels do.
After they had gone Mr. Skidder got very busy erasing the tall,
black-haired heroine from his latest (unproduced) play and inserting
a small, roguish one with heavy, bright hair and vivacious features.
"Anna Held'll jump at it," said Mr. Skidder to himself, putting his
feet up against the lambrequins and disappearing in a cloud of smoke
like an aerial cuttlefish.
Presently the tocsin call of "Clara!" sounded to the world the state
of Miss Leeson's purse. A dark goblin seized her, mounted a Stygian
stairway, thrust her into a vault with a glimmer of light in its top
and muttered the menacing and cabalistic words "Two dollars!"
"I'll take it!" sighed Miss Leeson, sinking down upon the squeaky
Every day Miss Leeson went out to work. At night she brought home
papers with handwriting on them and made copies with her typewriter.
Sometimes she had no work at night, and then she would sit on the
steps of the high stoop with the other roomers. Miss Leeson was not
intended for a sky-light room when the plans were drawn for her
creation. She was gay-hearted and full of tender, whimsical fancies.
Once she let Mr. Skidder read to her three acts of his great
(unpublished) comedy, "It's No Kid; or, The Heir of the Subway."
There was rejoicing among the gentlemen roomers whenever Miss Leeson
had time to sit on the steps for an hour or two. But Miss
Longnecker, the tall blonde who taught in a public school and said,
"Well, really!" to everything you said, sat on the top step and
sniffed. And Miss Dorn, who shot at the moving ducks at Coney every
Sunday and worked in a department store, sat on the bottom step and
sniffed. Miss Leeson sat on the middle step and the men would
quickly group around her.
Especially Mr. Skidder, who had cast her in his mind for the star
part in a private, romantic (unspoken) drama in real life. And
especially Mr. Hoover, who was forty-five, fat, flush and foolish.
And especially very young Mr. Evans, who set up a hollow cough to
induce her to ask him to leave off cigarettes. The men voted her
"the funniest and jolliest ever," but the sniffs on the top step and
the lower step were implacable.
* * * * * *
I pray you let the drama halt while Chorus stalks to the footlights
and drops an epicedian tear upon the fatness of Mr. Hoover. Tune the
pipes to the tragedy of tallow, the bane of bulk, the calamity of
corpulence. Tried out, Falstaff might have rendered more romance to
the ton than would have Romeo's rickety ribs to the ounce. A lover
may sigh, but he must not puff. To the train of Momus are the fat
men remanded. In vain beats the faithfullest heart above a 52-inch
belt. Avaunt, Hoover! Hoover, forty-five, flush and foolish, might
carry off Helen herself; Hoover, forty-five, flush, foolish and fat
is meat for perdition. There was never a chance for you, Hoover.
As Mrs. Parker's roomers sat thus one summer's evening, Miss Leeson
looked up into the firmament and cried with her little gay laugh:
"Why, there's Billy Jackson! I can see him from down here, too."
All looked up--some at the windows of skyscrapers, some casting about
for an airship, Jackson-guided.
"It's that star," explained Miss Leeson, pointing with a tiny finger.
"Not the big one that twinkles--the steady blue one near it. I can
see it every night through my skylight. I named it Billy Jackson."
"Well, really!" said Miss Longnecker. "I didn't know you were an
astronomer, Miss Leeson."
"Oh, yes," said the small star gazer, "I know as much as any of them
about the style of sleeves they're going to wear next fall in Mars."
"Well, really!" said Miss Longnecker. "The star you refer to is
Gamma, of the constellation Cassiopeia. It is nearly of the second
magnitude, and its meridian passage is--"
"Oh," said the very young Mr. Evans, "I think Billy Jackson is a much
better name for it."
"Same here," said Mr. Hoover, loudly breathing defiance to Miss
Longnecker. "I think Miss Leeson has just as much right to name
stars as any of those old astrologers had."
"Well, really!" said Miss Longnecker.
"I wonder whether it's a shooting star," remarked Miss Dorn. "I hit
nine ducks and a rabbit out of ten in the gallery at Coney Sunday."
"He doesn't show up very well from down here," said Miss Leeson.
"You ought to see him from my room. You know you can see stars even
in the daytime from the bottom of a well. At night my room is like
the shaft of a coal mine, and it makes Billy Jackson look like the
big diamond pin that Night fastens her kimono with."
There came a time after that when Miss Leeson brought no formidable
papers home to copy. And when she went out in the morning, instead
of working, she went from office to office and let her heart melt
away in the drip of cold refusals transmitted through insolent office
boys. This went on.
There came an evening when she wearily climbed Mrs. Parker's stoop at
the hour when she always returned from her dinner at the restaurant.
But she had had no dinner.
As she stepped into the hall Mr. Hoover met her and seized his
chance. He asked her to marry him, and his fatness hovered above her
like an avalanche. She dodged, and caught the balustrade. He tried
for her hand, and she raised it and smote him weakly in the face.
Step by step she went up, dragging herself by the railing. She
passed Mr. Skidder's door as he was red-inking a stage direction for
Myrtle Delorme (Miss Leeson) in his (unaccepted) comedy, to
"pirouette across stage from L to the side of the Count." Up the
carpeted ladder she crawled at last and opened the door of the
She was too weak to light the lamp or to undress. She fell upon the
iron cot, her fragile body scarcely hollowing the worn springs. And
in that Erebus of the skylight room, she slowly raised her heavy
eyelids, and smiled.
For Billy Jackson was shining down on her, calm and bright and
constant through the skylight. There was no world about her. She
was sunk in a pit of blackness, with but that small square of pallid
light framing the star that she had so whimsically and oh, so
ineffectually named. Miss Longnecker must be right; it was Gamma,
of the constellation Cassiopeia, and not Billy Jackson. And yet she
could not let it be Gamma.
As she lay on her back she tried twice to raise her arm. The third
time she got two thin fingers to her lips and blew a kiss out of the
black pit to Billy Jackson. Her arm fell back limply.
"Good-bye, Billy," she murmured faintly. "You're millions of miles
away and you won't even twinkle once. But you kept where I could see
you most of the time up there when there wasn't anything else but
darkness to look at, didn't you? . . . Millions of miles. . . .
Good-bye, Billy Jackson."
Clara, the coloured maid, found the door locked at 10 the next day,
and they forced it open. Vinegar, and the slapping of wrists and
burnt feathers proving of no avail, some one ran to 'phone for an
In due time it backed up to the door with much gong-clanging, and the
capable young medico, in his white linen coat, ready, active,
confident, with his smooth face half debonair, half grim, danced up
"Ambulance call to 49," he said briefly. "What's the trouble?"
"Oh, yes, doctor," sniffed Mrs. Parker, as though her trouble that
there should be trouble in the house was the greater. "I can't think
what can be the matter with her. Nothing we could do would bring her
to. It's a young woman, a Miss Elsie--yes, a Miss Elsie Leeson.
Never before in my house--"
"What room?" cried the doctor in a terrible voice, to which Mrs.
Parker was a stranger.
"The skylight room. It--
Evidently the ambulance doctor was familiar with the location of
skylight rooms. He was gone up the stairs, four at a time. Mrs.
Parker followed slowly, as her dignity demanded.
On the first landing she met him coming back bearing the astronomer
in his arms. He stopped and let loose the practised scalpel of his
tongue, not loudly. Gradually Mrs. Parker crumpled as a stiff
garment that slips down from a nail. Ever afterward there remained
crumples in her mind and body. Sometimes her curious roomers would
ask her what the doctor said to her.
"Let that be," she would answer. "If I can get forgiveness for
having heard it I will be satisfied."
The ambulance physician strode with his burden through the pack of
hounds that follow the curiosity chase, and even they fell back along
the sidewalk abashed, for his face was that of one who bears his own
They noticed that he did not lay down upon the bed prepared for it in
the ambulance the form that he carried, and all that he said was:
"Drive like h**l, Wilson," to the driver.
That is all. Is it a story? In the next morning's paper I saw a
little news item, and the last sentence of it may help you (as it
helped me) to weld the incidents together.
It recounted the reception into Bellevue Hospital of a young woman
who had been removed from No. 49 East -- street, suffering from
debility induced by starvation. It concluded with these words:
"Dr. William Jackson, the ambulance physician who attended the case,
says the patient will recover."
A SERVICE OF LOVE
When one loves one's Art no service seems too hard.
That is our premise. This story shall draw a conclusion from it, and
show at the same time that the premise is incorrect. That will be a
new thing in logic, and a feat in story-telling somewhat older than
the great wall of China.
Joe Larrabee came out of the post-oak flats of the Middle West
pulsing with a genius for pictorial art. At six he drew a picture
of the town pump with a prominent citizen passing it hastily. This
effort was framed and hung in the drug store window by the side of
the ear of corn with an uneven number of rows. At twenty he left for
New York with a flowing necktie and a capital tied up somewhat
Delia Caruthers did things in six octaves so promisingly in a pine-
tree village in the South that her relatives chipped in enough in her
chip hat for her to go "North" and "finish." They could not see her
f--, but that is our story.
Joe and Delia met in an atelier where a number of art and music
students had gathered to discuss chiaroscuro, Wagner, music,
Rembrandt's works, pictures, Waldteufel, wall paper, Chopin and
Joe and Delia became enamoured one of the other, or each of the
other, as you please, and in a short time were married--for (see
above), when one loves one's Art no service seems too hard.
Mr. and Mrs. Larrabee began housekeeping in a flat. It was a
lonesome flat--something like the A sharp way down at the left-hand
end of the keyboard. And they were happy; for they had their Art,
and they had each other. And my advice to the rich young man would
be--sell all thou hast, and give it to the poor--janitor for the
privilege of living in a flat with your Art and your Delia.
Flat-dwellers shall indorse my dictum that theirs is the only true
happiness. If a home is happy it cannot fit too close--let the
dresser collapse and become a billiard table; let the mantel turn to
a rowing machine, the escritoire to a spare bedchamber, the washstand
to an upright piano; let the four walls come together, if they will,
so you and your Delia are between. But if home be the other kind,
let it be wide and long--enter you at the Golden Gate, hang your hat
on Hatteras, your cape on Cape Horn and go out by the Labrador.
Joe was painting in the class of the great Magister--you know his
fame. His fees are high; his lessons are light--his high-lights have
brought him renown. Delia was studying under Rosenstock--you know
his repute as a disturber of the piano keys.
They were mighty happy as long as their money lasted. So is every--
but I will not be cynical. Their aims were very clear and defined.
Joe was to become capable very soon of turning out pictures that old
gentlemen with thin side-whiskers and thick pocketbooks would sandbag
one another in his studio for the privilege of buying. Delia was to
become familiar and then contemptuous with Music, so that when she
saw the orchestra seats and boxes unsold she could have sore throat
and lobster in a private dining-room and refuse to go on the stage.
But the best, in my opinion, was the home life in the little flat--
the ardent, voluble chats after the day's study; the cozy dinners and
fresh, light breakfasts; the interchange of ambitions--ambitions
interwoven each with the other's or else inconsiderable--the mutual
help and inspiration; and--overlook my artlessness--stuffed olives
and cheese sandwiches at 11 p.m.
But after a while Art flagged. It sometimes does, even if some
switchman doesn't flag it. Everything going out and nothing coming
in, as the vulgarians say. Money was lacking to pay Mr. Magister and
Herr Rosenstock their prices. When one loves one's Art no service
seems too hard. So, Delia said she must give music lessons to keep
the chafing dish bubbling.
For two or three days she went out canvassing for pupils. One
evening she came home elated.
"Joe, dear," she said, gleefully, "I've a pupil. And, oh, the
loveliest people! General--General A. B. Pinkney's daughter--on
Seventy-first street. Such a splendid house, Joe--you ought to see
the front door! Byzantine I think you would call it. And inside!
Oh, Joe, I never saw anything like it before.
"My pupil is his daughter Clementina. I dearly love her already.
She's a delicate thing-dresses always in white; and the sweetest,
simplest manners! Only eighteen years old. I'm to give three
lessons a week; and, just think, Joe! $5 a lesson. I don't mind it
a bit; for when I get two or three more pupils I can resume my
lessons with Herr Rosenstock. Now, smooth out that wrinkle between
your brows, dear, and let's have a nice supper."
"That's all right for you, Dele," said Joe, attacking a can of peas
with a carving knife and a hatchet, "but how about me? Do you think
I'm going to let you hustle for wages while I philander in the
regions of high art? Not by the bones of Benvenuto Cellini! I guess
I can sell papers or lay cobblestones, and bring in a dollar or two."
Delia came and hung about his neck.
"Joe, dear, you are silly. You must keep on at your studies. It is
not as if I had quit my music and gone to work at something else.
While I teach I learn. I am always with my music. And we can live
as happily as millionaires on $15 a week. You mustn't think of
leaving Mr. Magister."
"All right," said Joe, reaching for the blue scalloped vegetable
dish. "But I hate for you to be giving lessons. It isn't Art. But
you're a trump and a dear to do it."
"When one loves one's Art no service seems too hard," said Delia.
"Magister praised the sky in that sketch I made in the park," said
Joe. "And Tinkle gave me permission to hang two of them in his
window. I may sell one if the right kind of a moneyed idiot sees
"I'm sure you will," said Delia, sweetly. "And now let's be thankful
for Gen. Pinkney and this veal roast."
During all of the next week the Larrabees had an early breakfast.
Joe was enthusiastic about some morning-effect sketches he was doing
in Central Park, and Delia packed him off breakfasted, coddled,
praised and kissed at 7 o'clock. Art is an engaging mistress. It
was most times 7 o'clock when he returned in the evening.
At the end of the week Delia, sweetly proud but languid, triumphantly
tossed three five-dollar bills on the 8x10 (inches) centre table of
the 8x10 (feet) flat parlour.
Sometimes," she said, a little wearily, "Clementina tries me. I'm
afraid she doesn't practise enough, and I have to tell her the same
things so often. And then she always dresses entirely in white, and
that does get monotonous. But Gen. Pinkney is the dearest old man!
I wish you could know him, Joe. He comes in sometimes when I am with
Clementina at the piano--he is a widower, you know--and stands there
pulling his white goatee. 'And how are the semiquavers and the
demisemiquavers progressing?' he always asks.
"I wish you could see the wainscoting in that drawing-room, Joe!
And those Astrakhan rug portieres. And Clementina has such a funny
little cough. I hope she is stronger than she looks. Oh, I really
am getting attached to her, she is so gentle and high bred. Gen.
Pinkney's brother was once Minister to Bolivia."
And then Joe, with the air of a Monte Cristo, drew forth a ten, a
five, a two and a one--all legal tender notes--and laid them beside
"Sold that watercolour of the obelisk to a man from Peoria," he
"Don't joke with me," said Delia, "not from Peoria!"
"All the way. I wish you could see him, Dele. Fat man with a
woollen muffler and a quill toothpick. He saw the sketch in Tinkle's
window and thought it was a windmill at first, he was game, though,
and bought it anyhow. He ordered another--an oil sketch of the
Lackawanna freight depot--to take back with him. Music lessons! Oh,
I guess Art is still in it."
"I'm so glad you've kept on," said Delia, heartily. "You're bound to
win, dear. Thirty-three dollars! We never had so much to spend
before. We'll have oysters to-night."
"And filet mignon with champignons," said Joe. "Were is the olive
On the next Saturday evening Joe reached home first. He spread his
$18 on the parlour table and washed what seemed to be a great deal of
dark paint from his hands.
Half an hour later Delia arrived, her right hand tied up in a
shapeless bundle of wraps and bandages.
"How is this?" asked Joe after the usual greetings. Delia laughed,
but not very joyously.
Clementina," she explained, "insisted upon a Welsh rabbit after her
lesson. She is such a queer girl. Welsh rabbits at 5 in the
afternoon. The General was there. You should have seen him run for
the chafing dish, Joe, just as if there wasn't a servant in the
house. I know Clementina isn't in good health; she is so nervous.
In serving the rabbit she spilled a great lot of it, boiling hot,
over my hand and wrist. It hurt awfully, Joe. And the dear girl was
so sorry! But Gen. Pinkney!--Joe, that old man nearly went
distracted. He rushed downstairs and sent somebody--they said the
furnace man or somebody in the basement--out to a drug store for some
oil and things to bind it up with. It doesn't hurt so much now."
"What's this?" asked Joe, taking the hand tenderly and pulling at
some white strands beneath the bandages.
"It's something soft," said Delia, "that had oil on it. Oh, Joe, did
you sell another sketch?" She had seen the money on the table.
"Did I?" said Joe; "just ask the man from Peoria. He got his depot
to-day, and he isn't sure but he thinks he wants another parkscape
and a view on the Hudson. What time this afternoon did you burn your
"Five o'clock, I think," said Dele, plaintively. "The iron--I mean
the rabbit came off the fire about that time. You ought to have seen
Gen. Pinkney, Joe, when--"
"Sit down here a moment, Dele," said Joe. He drew her to the couch,
sat beside her and put his arm across her shoulders.
"What have you been doing for the last two weeks, Dele?" he asked.
She braved it for a moment or two with an eye full of love and
stubbornness, and murmured a phrase or two vaguely of Gen. Pinkney;
but at length down went her head and out came the truth and tears.
"I couldn't get any pupils," she confessed. "And I couldn't bear to
have you give up your lessons; and I got a place ironing shirts in
that big Twentyfourth street laundry. And I think I did very well to
make up both General Pinkney and Clementina, don't you, Joe? And
when a girl in the laundry set down a hot iron on my hand this
afternoon I was all the way home making up that story about the Welsh
rabbit. You're not angry, are you, Joe? And if I hadn't got the
work you mightn't have sold your sketches to that man from Peoria.
"He wasn't from Peoria," said Joe, slowly.
"Well, it doesn't matter where he was from. How clever you are, Joe
--and--kiss me, Joe--and what made you ever suspect that I wasn't
giving music lessons to Clementina?"
"I didn't," said Joe, "until to-night. And I wouldn't have then,
only I sent up this cotton waste and oil from the engine-room this
afternoon for a girl upstairs who had her hand burned with a
smoothing-iron. I've been firing the engine in that laundry for the
last two weeks."
"And then you didn't--"
"My purchaser from Peoria," said Joe, "and Gen. Pinkney are both
creations of the same art--but you wouldn't call it either painting
And then they both laughed, and Joe began:
"When one loves one's Art no service seems--"
But Delia stopped him with her hand on his lips. "No," she said--
"just 'When one loves.'"
THE COMING-OUT OF MAGGIE
Eevery Saturday night the Clover Leaf Social Club gave a hop in the
hall of the Give and Take Athletic Association on the East Side. In
order to attend one of these dances you must be a member of the Give
and Take--or, if you belong to the division that starts off with the
right foot in waltzing, you must work in Rhinegold's paper-box
factory. Still, any Clover Leaf was privileged to escort or be
escorted by an outsider to a single dance. But mostly each Give and
Take brought the paper-box girl that he affected; and few strangers
could boast of having shaken a foot at the regular hops.
Maggie Toole, on account of her dull eyes, broad mouth and left-
handed style of footwork in the twostep, went to the dances with
Anna McCarty and her "fellow." Anna and Maggie worked side by side
in the factory, and were the greatest chums ever. So Anna always
made Jimmy Burns take her by Maggie's house every Saturday night so
that her friend could go to the dance with them.
The Give and Take Athletic Association lived up to its name. The
hall of the association in Orchard street was fitted out with muscle-
making inventions. With the fibres thus builded up the members were
wont to engage the police and rival social and athletic organisations
in joyous combat. Between these more serious occupations the
Saturday night hop with the paper-box factory girls came as a
refining influence and as an efficient screen. For sometimes the tip
went 'round, and if you were among the elect that tiptoed up the dark
back stairway you might see as neat and satisfying a little welter-
weight affair to a finish as ever happened inside the ropes.
On Saturdays Rhinegold's paper-box factory closed at 3 P. M. On one
such afternoon Anna and Maggie walked homeward together. At Maggie's
door Anna said, as usual: "Be ready at seven, sharp, Mag; and Jimmy
and me'll come by for you."
But what was this? Instead of the customary humble and grateful
thanks from the non-escorted one there was to be perceived a high-
poised head, a prideful dimpling at the corners of a broad mouth, and
almost a sparkle in a dull brown eye.
"Thanks, Anna," said Maggie; "but you and Jimmy needn't bother to-
night. I've a gentleman friend that's coming 'round to escort me to
The comely Anna pounced upon her friend, shook her, chided and
beseeched her. Maggie Toole catch a fellow! Plain, dear, loyal,
unattractive Maggie, so sweet as a chum, so unsought for a two-step
or a moonlit bench in the little park. How was it? When did it
happen? Who was it?
"You'll see to-night," said Maggie, flushed with the wine of the
first grapes she had gathered in Cupid's vineyard. "He's swell all
right. He's two inches taller than Jimmy, and an up-to-date dresser.
I'll introduce him, Anna, just as soon as we get to the hall."
Anna and Jimmy were among the first Clover Leafs to arrive that
evening. Anna's eyes were brightly fixed upon the door of the hall
to catch the first glimpse of her friend's "catch."
At 8:30 Miss Toole swept into the hall with her escort. Quickly her
triumphant eye discovered her chum under the wing of her faithful
"Oh, gee!" cried Anna, "Mag ain't made a hit--oh, no! Swell fellow?
well, I guess! Style? Look at 'um."
"Go as far as you like," said Jimmy, with sandpaper in his voice.
"Cop him out if you want him. These new guys always win out with the
push. Don't mind me. He don't squeeze all the limes, I guess. Huh!"
"Shut up, Jimmy. You know what I mean. I'm glad for Mag. First
fellow she ever had. Oh, here they come."
Across the floor Maggie sailed like a coquettish yacht convoyed by a
stately cruiser. And truly, her companion justified the encomiums
of the faithful chum. He stood two inches taller than the average
Give and Take athlete; his dark hair curled; his eyes and his teeth
flashed whenever he bestowed his frequent smiles. The young men of
the Clover Leaf Club pinned not their faith to the graces of person
as much as they did to its prowess, its achievements in hand-to-hand
conflicts, and its preservation from the legal duress that constantly
menaced it. The member of the association who would bind a paperbox
maiden to his conquering chariot scorned to employ Beau Brumme1 airs.
They were not considered honourable methods of warfare. The swelling
biceps, the coat straining at its buttons over the chest, the air of
conscious conviction of the supereminence of the male in the
cosmogony of creation, even a calm display of bow legs as subduing
and enchanting agents in the gentle tourneys of Cupid--these were the
approved arms and ammunition of the Clover Leaf gallants. They
viewed, then, genuflexions and alluring poses of this visitor with
their chins at a new angle.
"A friend of mine, Mr. Terry O'Sullivan," was Maggie's formula of
introduction. She led him around the room, presenting him to each
new-arriving Clover Leaf. Almost was she pretty now, with the unique
luminosity in her eyes that comes to a girl with her first suitor and
a kitten with its first mouse.
"Maggie Toole's got a fellow at last," was the word that went round
among the paper-box girls. "Pipe Mag's floor-walker"--thus the Give
and Takes expressed their indifferent contempt.
Usually at the weekly hops Maggie kept a spot on the wall warm with
her back. She felt and showed so much gratitude whenever a self-
sacrificing partner invited her to dance that his pleasure was
cheapened and diminished. She had even grown used to noticing Anna
joggle the reluctant Jimmy with her elbow as a signal for him to
invite her chum to walk over his feet through a two-step.
But to-night the pumpkin had turned to a coach and six. Terry
O'Sullivan was a victorious Prince Charming, and Maggie Toole winged
her first butterfly flight. And though our tropes of fairyland be
mixed with those of entomology they shall not spill one drop of
ambrosia from the rose-crowned melody of Maggie's one perfect night.
The girls besieged her for introductions to her "fellow." The Clover
Leaf young men, after two years of blindness, suddenly perceived
charms in Miss Toole. They flexed their compelling muscles before
her and bespoke her for the dance.
Thus she scored; but to Terry O'Sullivan the honours of the evening
fell thick and fast. He shook his curls; he smiled and went easily
through the seven motions for acquiring grace in your own room before
an open window ten minutes each day. He danced like a faun; he
introduced manner and style and atmosphere; his words came trippingly
upon his tongue, and--he waltzed twice in succession with the paper-
box girl that Dempsey Donovan brought.
Dempsey was the leader of the association. He wore a dress suit, and
could chin the bar twice with one hand. He was one of "Big Mike"
O'Sullivan's lieutenants, and was never troubled by trouble. No cop
dared to arrest him. Whenever be broke a pushcart man's head or shot
a member of the Heinrick B. Sweeney Outing and Literary Association
in the kneecap, an officer would drop around and say:
"The Cap'n 'd like to see ye a few minutes round to the office whin
ye have time, Dempsey, me boy."
But there would be sundry gentlemen there with large gold fob chains
and black cigars; and somebody would tell a funny story, and then
Dempsey would go back and work half an hour with the sixpound
dumbbells. So, doing a tight-rope act on a wire stretched across
Niagara was a safe terpsichorean performance compared with waltzing
twice with Dempsey Donovan's paper-box girl. At 10 o'clock the jolly
round face of "Big Mike" O'Sullivan shone at the door for five
minutes upon the scene. He always looked in for five minutes, smiled
at the girls and handed out real perfectos to the delighted boys.
Dempsey Donovan was at his elbow instantly, talking rapidly. "Big
Mike" looked carefully at the dancers, smiled, shook his head and
The music stopped. The dancers scattered to the chairs along the
walls. Terry O'Sullivan, with his entrancing bow, relinquished a
pretty girl in blue to her partner and started back to find Maggie.
Dempsey intercepted him in the middle of the floor.
Some fine instinct that Rome must have bequeathed to us caused nearly
every one to turn and look at them--there was a subtle feeling that
two gladiators had met in the arena. Two or three Give and Takes
with tight coat sleeves drew nearer.
"One moment, Mr. O'Sullivan," said Dempsey. "I hope you're enjoying
yourself. Where did you say you live?"
The two gladiators were well matched. Dempsey had, perhaps, ten
pounds of weight to give away. The O'Sullivan had breadth with
quickness. Dempsey had a glacial eye, a dominating slit of a mouth,
an indestructible jaw, a complexion like a belle's and the coolness
of a champion. The visitor showed more fire in his contempt and less
control over his conspicuous sneer. They were enemies by the law
written when the rocks were molten. They were each too splendid, too
mighty, too incomparable to divide pre-eminence. One only must
"I live on Grand," said O'Sullivan, insolently; "and no trouble to
find me at home. Where do you live?"
Dempsey ignored the question.
"You say your name's O'Sullivan," he went on. "Well, 'Big Mike' says
he never saw you before."
"Lots of things he never saw," said the favourite of the hop.
"As a rule," went on Dempsey, huskily sweet, "O'Sullivans in this
district know one another. You escorted one of our lady members
here, and we want chance to make good. If you've got a family tree
let's see a few historical O'Sullivan buds come out on it. Or do you
want us to dig it out of you by the roots?"
"Suppose you mind your own business," suggested O'Sullivan, blandly.
Dempsey's eye brightened. He held up an inspired forefinger as
though a brilliant idea had struck him.
"I've got it now," he said cordially. "It was just a little mistake.
You ain't no O'Sullivan. You are a ring-tailed monkey. Excuse us
for not recognising you at first."
O'Sullivan's eye flashed. He made a quick movement, but Andy Geoghan
was ready and caught his arm.
Dempsey nodded at Andy and William McMahan, the secretary of the
club, and walked rapidly toward a door at the rear of the hall. Two
other members of the Give and Take Association swiftly joined the
little group. Terry O'Sullivan was now in the hands of the Board of
Rules and Social Referees. They spoke to him briefly and softly, and
conducted him out through the same door at the rear.
This movement on the part of the Clover Leaf members requires a word
of elucidation. Back of the association hall was a smaller room
rented by the club. In this room personal difficulties that arose on
the ballroom floor were settled, man to man, with the weapons of
nature, under the supervision of the board. No lady could say that
she had witnessed a fight at a Clover Leaf hop in several years. Its
gentlemen members guaranteed that.
So easily and smoothly had Dempsey and the board done their
preliminary work that many in the hall had not noticed the checking
of the fascinating O'Sullivan's social triumph. Among these was
Maggie. She looked about for her escort.
"Smoke up!" said Rose Cassidy. "Wasn't you on? Demps Donovan picked
a scrap with your Lizzie-boy, and they've waltzed out to the
slaughter room with him. How's my hair look done up this way, Mag?"
Maggie laid a hand on the bosom of her cheesecloth waist.
"Gone to fight with Dempsey!" she said, breathlessly. "They've got
to be stopped. Dempsey Donovan can't fight him. Why, he'll--he'll
"Ah, what do you care?" said Rosa. "Don't some of 'em fight every
But Maggie was off, darting her zig-zag way through the maze of
dancers. She burst through the rear door into the dark hall and then
threw her solid shoulder against the door of the room of single
combat. It gave way, and in the instant that she entered her eye
caught the scene--the Board standing about with open watches; Dempsey
Donovan in his shirt sleeves dancing, light-footed, with the wary
grace of the modern pugilist, within easy reach of his adversary;
Terry O'Sullivan standing with arms folded and a murderous look in
his dark eyes. And without slacking the speed of her entrance she
leaped forward with a scream--leaped in time to catch and hang upon
the arm of O'Sullivan that was suddenly uplifted, and to whisk from
it the long, bright stiletto that he had drawn from his bosom.
The knife fell and rang upon the floor. Cold steel drawn in the
rooms of the Give and Take Association! Such a thing had never
happened before. Every one stood motionless for a minute. Andy
Geoghan kicked the stiletto with the toe of his shoe curiously, like
an antiquarian who has come upon some ancient weapon unknown to his
And then O'Sullivan hissed something unintelligible between his
teeth. Dempsey and the board exchanged looks. And then Dempsey
looked at O'Sullivan without anger, as one looks at a stray dog, and
nodded his head in the direction of the door.
"The back stairs, Giuseppi," he said, briefly. "Somebody'11 pitch
your hat down after you."
Maggie walked up to Dempsey Donovan. There was a brilliant spot of
red in her cheeks, down which slow tears were running. But she
looked him bravely in the eye.
"I knew it, Dempsey," she said, as her eyes grew dull even in their
tears. "I knew he was a Guinea. His name's Tony Spinelli. I
hurried in when they told me you and him was scrappin'. Them Guineas
always carries knives. But you don't understand, Dempsey. I never
had a fellow in my life. I got tired of comin' with Anna and Jimmy
every night, so I fixed it with him to call himself O'Sullivan, and
brought him along. I knew there'd be nothin' doin' for him if he
came as a Dago. I guess I'll resign from the club now."
Dempsey turned to Andy Geoghan.
"Chuck that cheese slicer out of the window," he said, "and tell 'em
inside that Mr. O'Sullivan has had a telephone message to go down to
And then he turned back to Maggie.
"Say, Mag," he said, "I'll see you home. And how about next Saturday
night? Will you come to the hop with me if I call around for you?"
It was remarkable how quickly Maggie's eyes could change from dull to
a shining brown.
"With you, Dempsey?" she stammered. "Say--will a duck swim?"
MAN ABOUT TOWN
There were two or three things that I wanted to know. I do not care
about a mystery. So I began to inquire.
It took me two weeks to find out what women carry in dress suit
cases. And then I began to ask why a mattress is made in two pieces.
This serious query was at first received with suspicion because it
sounded like a conundrum. I was at last assured that its double form
of construction was designed to make lighter the burden of woman, who
makes up beds. I was so foolish as to persist, begging to know why,
then, they were not made in two equal pieces; whereupon I was
The third draught that I craved from the fount of knowledge was
enlightenment concerning the character known as A Man About Town.
He was more vague in my mind than a type should be. We must have a
concrete idea of anything, even if it be an imaginary idea, before we
can comprehend it. Now, I have a mental picture of John Doe that is
as clear as a steel engraving. His eyes are weak blue; he wears a
brown vest and a shiny black serge coat.
He stands always in the sunshine chewing something; and he keeps
half-shutting his pocket knife and opening it again with his thumb.
And, if the Man Higher Up is ever found, take my assurance for it, he
will be a large, pale man with blue wristlets showing under his
cuffs, and he will be sitting to have his shoes polisbed within sound
of a bowling alley, and there will be somewhere about him turquoises.
But the canvas of my imagination, when it came to limning the Man
About Town, was blank. I fancied that he bad a detachable sneer
(like the smile of the Cheshire cat) and attached cuffs; and that was
all. Whereupon I asked a newspaper reporter about him.
"Why," said he, "a 'Man About Town' something between a 'rounder' and
a 'clubman.' He isn't exactly--well, he fits in between Mrs. Fish's
receptions and private boxing bouts. He doesn't--well, he doesn't
belong either to the Lotos Club or to the Jerry McGeogheghan
Galvanised Iron Workers' Apprentices' Left Hook Chowder Association.
I don't exactly know how to describe him to you. You'll see him
everywhere there's anything doing. Yes, I suppose he's a type.
Dress clothes every evening; knows the ropes; calls every policeman
and waiter in town by their first names. No; he never travels with
the hydrogen derivatives. You generally see him alone or with
My friend the reporter left me, and I wandered further afield. By
this time the 3126 electric lights on the Rialto were alight. People
passed, but they held me not. Paphian eyes rayed upon me, and left
me unscathed. Diners, heimgangers, shop-girls, confidence men,
panhandlers, actors, highwaymen, millionaires and outlanders hurried,
skipped, strolled, sneaked, swaggered and scurried by me; but I took
no note of them. I knew them all; I had read their hearts; they had
served. I wanted my Man About Town. He was a type, and to drop him
would be an error--a typograph--but no! let us continue.
Let us continue with a moral digression. To see a family reading the
Sunday paper gratifies. The sections have been separated. Papa is
earnestly scanning the page that pictures the young lady exercising
before an open window, and bending--but there, there! Mamma is
interested in trying to guess the missing letters in the word N_w
Yo_k. The oldest girls are eagerly perusing the financial reports,
for a certain young man remarked last Sunday night that he had taken
a flyer in Q., X. & Z. Willie, the eighteen-year-old son, who
attends the New York public school, is absorbed in the weekly article
describing how to make over an old skirt, for he hopes to take a
prize in sewing on graduation day.
Grandma is holding to the comic supplement with a two-hours' grip;
and little Tottie, the baby, is rocking along the best she can with
the real estatc transfers. This view is intended to be reassuring,
for it is desirable that a few lines of this story be skipped. For
it introduces strong drink.
I went into a cafe to -- and while it was being mixed I asked the man
who grabs up your hot Scotch spoon as soon as you lay it down what he
undcrstood by the term, epithet, description, designation,
characterisation or appellation, viz.: a "Man About Town."
"Why," said he, carefully, "it means a fly guy that's wise to the
all-night push--see? It's a hot sport that you can't bump to the
rail anywhere between the Flatirons--see? I guess that's about what
I thanked him and departed.
On the sidewalk a Salvation lassie shook her contribution receptacle
gently against my waistcoat pocket.
"Would you mind telling me," I asked her, "if you ever meet with the
character commonly denominated as 'A Man About Town' during your