Part 3 out of 4
Jerry's fare rose, and held out her numbered card simply:
"Is there anything coming on the ticket?" she asked.
A waiter told her it was her cab check, and that she should give it
to the man at the entrance. This man took it, and called the number.
Only three hansoms stood in line. The driver of one of them went and
routed out Jerry asleep in his cab. He swore deeply, climbed to the
captain's bridge and steered his craft to the pier. His fare
entered, and the cab whirled into the cool fastnesses of the park
along the shortest homeward cuts.
At the gate a glimmer of reason in the form of sudden suspicion
seized upon Jerry's beclouded mind. One or two things occurred to
him. He stopped his horse, raised the trap and dropped his
phonographic voice, like a lead plummet, through the aperture:
"I want to see four dollars before goin' any further on th' thrip.
Have ye got th' dough?"
"Four dollars!" laughed the fare, softly, "dear me, no. I've only
got a few pennies and a dime or two."
Jerry shut down the trap and slashed his oat-fed horse. The clatter
of hoofs strangled but could not drown the sound of his profanity.
He shouted choking and gurgling curses at the starry heavens; he cut
viciously with his whip at passing vehicles; he scattered fierce and
ever-changing oaths and imprecations along the streets, so that a
late truck driver, crawling homeward, heard and was abashed. But he
knew his recourse, and made for it at a gallop.
At the house with the green lights beside the steps he pulled up. He
flung wide the cab doors and tumbled heavily to the ground.
"Come on, you," he said, roughly.
His fare came forth with the Casino dreamy smile still on her plain
face. Jerry took her by the arm and led her into the police station.
A gray-moustached sergeant looked keenly across the desk. He and
the cabby were no strangers.
"Sargeant," began Jerry in his old raucous, martyred, thunderous
tones of complaint. "I've got a fare here that--"
Jerry paused. He drew a knotted, red hand across his brow. The fog
set up by McGary was beginning to clear away.
"A fare, sargeant," he continued, with a grin, "that I want to
inthroduce to ye. It's me wife that I married at ould man Walsh's
this avening. And a divil of a time we had, ‘tis thrue. Shake hands
wid th' sargeant, Norah, and we'll be off to home."
Before stepping into the cab Norah sighed profoundly.
"I've had such a nice time, Jerry," said she.
AN UNFINISHED STORY
We no longer groan and heap ashes upon our heads when the flames of
Tophet are mentioned. For, even the preachers have begun to tell us
that God is radium, or ether or some scientific compound, and that
the worst we wicked ones may expect is a chemical reaction. This is
a pleasing hypothesis; but there lingers yet some of the old, goodly
terror of orthodoxy.
There are but two subjects upon which one may discourse with a free
imagination, and without the possibility of being controverted. You
may talk of your dreams; and you may tell what you heard a parrot
say. Both Morpheus and the bird are incompetent witnesses; and your
listener dare not attack your recital. The baseless fabric of a
vision, then, shall furnish my theme--chosen with apologies and
regrets instead of the more limited field of pretty Polly's small
I had a dream that was so far removed from the higher criticism that
it had to do with the ancient, respectable, and lamented bar-of-
Gabriel had played his trump; and those of us who could not follow
suit were arraigned for examination. I noticed at one side a
gathering of professional bondsmen in solemn black and collars that
buttoned behind; but it seemed there was some trouble about their
real estate titles; and they did not appear to be getting any of us
A fly cop--an angel policeman--flew over to me and took me by the
left wing. Near at hand was a group of very prosperous-looking
spirits arraigned for judgment.
"Do you belong with that bunch?" the policeman asked.
"Who are they?" was my answer.
"Why," said he, "they are--"
But this irrelevant stuff is taking up space that the story should
Dulcie worked in a department store. She sold Hamburg edging, or
stuffed peppers, or automobiles, or other little trinkets such as
they keep in department stores. Of what she earned, Dulcie received
six dollars per week. The remainder was credited to her and debited
to somebody else's account in the ledger kept by G-- Oh, primal
energy, you say, Reverend Doctor--Well then, in the Ledger of Primal
During her first year in the store, Dulcie was paid five dollars per
week. It would be instructive to know how she lived on that amount.
Don't care? Very well; probably you are interested in larger
amounts. Six dollars is a larger amount. I will tell you how she
lived on six dollars per week.
One afternoon at six, when Dulcie was sticking her hat-pin within an
eighth of an inch of her ~medulla oblongata~, she said to her chum,
Sadie--the girl that waits on you with her left side:
"Say, Sade, I made a date for dinner this evening with Piggy."
"You never did!" exclaimed Sadie admiringly. "Well, ain't you the
lucky one? Piggy's an awful swell; and he always takes a girl to
swell places. He took Blanche up to the Hoffman House one evening,
where they have swell music, and you see a lot of swells. You'll
have a swell time, Dulce."
Dulcie hurried homeward. Her eyes were shining, and her cheeks
showed the delicate pink of life's--real life's--approaching dawn.
It was Friday; and she had fifty cents left of her last week's wages.
The streets were filled with the rush-hour floods of people. The
electric lights of Broadway were glowing--calling moths from miles,
from leagues, from hundreds of leagues out of darkness around to come
in and attend the singeing school. Men in accurate clothes, with
faces like those carved on cherry stones by the old salts in sailors'
homes, turned and stared at Dulcie as she sped, unheeding, past them.
Manhattan, the night-blooming cereus, was beginning to unfold its
dead-white, heavy-odoured petals.
Dulcie stopped in a store where goods were cheap and bought an
imitation lace collar with her fifty cents. That money was to have
been spent otherwise--fifteen cents for supper, ten cents for
breakfast, ten cents for lunch. Another dime was to be added to her
small store of savings; and five cents was to be squandered for
licorice drops--the kind that made your cheek look like the
toothache, and last as long. The licorice was an extravagance--
almost a carouse--but what is life without pleasures?
Dulcie lived in a furnished room. There is this difference between
a furnished room and a boardinghouse. In a furnished room, other
people do not know it when you go hungry.
Dulcie went up to her room--the third floor back in a West Side
brownstone-front. She lit the gas. Scientists tell us that the
diamond is the hardest substance known. Their mistake. Landladies
know of a compound beside which the diamond is as putty. They pack
it in the tips of gas-burners; and one may stand on a chair and dig
at it in vain until one's fingers are pink and bruised. A hairpin
will not remove it; therefore let us call it immovable.
So Dulcie lit the gas. In its one-fourth-candlepower glow we will
observe the room.
Couch-bed, dresser, table, washstand, chair--of this much the
landlady was guilty. The rest was Dulcie's. On the dresser were her
treasures--a gilt china vase presented to her by Sadie, a calendar
issued by a pickle works, a book on the divination of dreams, some
rice powder in a glass dish, and a cluster of artificial cherries
tied with a pink ribbon.
Against the wrinkly mirror stood pictures of General Kitchener,
William Muldoon, the Duchess of Marlborough, and Benvenuto Cellini.
Against one wall was a plaster of Paris plaque of an O'Callahan in
a Roman helmet. Near it was a violent oleograph of a lemon-coloured
child assaulting an inflammatory butterfly. This was Dulcie's final
judgment in art; but it had never been upset. Her rest had never
been disturbed by whispers of stolen copes; no critic had elevated
his eyebrows at her infantile entomologist.
Piggy was to call for her at seven. While she swiftly makes ready,
let us discreetly face the other way and gossip.
For the room, Dulcie paid two dollars per week. On week-days her
breakfast cost ten cents; she made coffee and cooked an egg over the
gaslight while she was dressing. On Sunday mornings she feasted
royally on veal chops and pineapple fritters at "Billy's" restaurant,
at a cost of twenty-five cents--and tipped the waitress ten cents.
New York presents so many temptations for one to run into
extravagance. She had her lunches in the department-store restaurant
at a cost of sixty cents for the week; dinners were $1.05. The
evening papers--show me a New Yorker going without his daily paper!
--came to six cents; and two Sunday papers--one for the personal
column and the other to read--were ten cents. The total amounts to
$4.76. Now, one has to buy clothes, and--
I give it up. I hear of wonderful bargains in fabrics, and of
miracles performed with needle and thread; but I am in doubt. I hold
my pen poised in vain when I would add to Dulcie's life some of those
joys that belong to woman by virtue of all the unwritten, sacred,
natural, inactive ordinances of the equity of heaven. Twice she had
been to Coney Island and had ridden the hobby-horses. 'Tis a weary
thing to count your pleasures by summers instead of by hours.
Piggy needs but a word. When the girls named him, an undeserving
stigma was cast upon the noble family of swine. The words-of-three-
letters lesson in the old blue spelling book begins with Piggy's
biography. He was fat; he had the soul of a rat, the habits of a
bat, and the magnanimity of a cat. . . He wore expensive clothes; and
was a connoisseur in starvation. He could look at a shop-girl and
tell you to an hour how long it had been since she had eaten anything
more nourishing than marshmallows and tea. He hung about the
shopping districts, and prowled around in department stores with his
invitations to dinner. Men who escort dogs upon the streets at the
end of a string look down upon him. He is a type; I can dwell upon
him no longer; my pen is not the kind intended for him; I am no
At ten minutes to seven Dulcie was ready. She looked at herself in
the wrinkly mirror. The reflection was satisfactory. The dark blue
dress, fitting without a wrinkle, the hat with its jaunty black
feather, the but-slightly-soiled gloves--all representing self-
denial, even of food itself--were vastly becoming.
Dulcie forgot everything else for a moment except that she was
beautiful, and that life was about to lift a corner of its mysterious
veil for her to observe its wonders. No gentleman had ever asked her
out before. Now she was going for a brief moment into the glitter
and exalted show.
The girls said that Piggy was a "spender." There would be a grand
dinner, and music, and splendidly dressed ladies to look at, and
things to eat that strangely twisted the girls' jaws when they tried
to tell about them. No doubt she would be asked out again. There
was a blue pongee suit in a window that she knew--by saving twenty
cents a week instead of ten, in--let's see--Oh, it would run into
years! But there was a second-hand store in Seventh Avenue where--
Somebody knocked at the door. Dulcie opened it. The landlady stood
there with a spurious smile, sniffing for cooking by stolen gas.
"A gentleman's downstairs to see you," she said. "Name is Mr.
By such epithet was Piggy known to unfortunate ones who had to take
Dulcie turned to the dresser to get her handkerchief; and then she
stopped still, and bit her underlip hard. While looking in her
mirror she had seen fairyland and herself, a princess, just awakening
from a long slumber. She had forgotten one that was watching her
with sad, beautiful, stern eyes--the only one there was to approve or
condemn what she did. Straight and slender and tall, with a look of
sorrowful reproach on his handsome, melancholy face, General
Kitchener fixed his wonderful eyes on her out of his gilt photograph
frame on the dresser.
Dulcie turned like an automatic doll to the landlady.
"Tell him I can't go," she said dully. "Tell him I'm sick, or
something. Tell him I'm not going out."
After the door was closed and locked, Dulcie fell upon her bed,
crushing her black tip, and cried for ten minutes. General Kitchener
was her only friend. He was Dulcie's ideal of a gallant knight. He
looked as if he might have a secret sorrow, and his wonderful
moustache was a dream, and she was a little afraid of that stern yet
tender look in his eyes. She used to have little fancies that he
would call at the house sometime, and ask for her, with his sword
clanking against his high boots. Once, when a boy was rattling a
piece of chain against a lamp-post she had opened the window and
looked out. But there was no use. She knew that General Kitchener
was away over in Japan, leading his army against the savage Turks;
and he would never step out of his gilt frame for her. Yet one look
from him had vanquished Piggy that night. Yes, for that night.
When her cry was over Dulcie got up and took off her best dress, and
put on her old blue kimono. She wanted no dinner. She sang two
verses of "Sammy." Then she became intensely interested in a little
red speck on the side of her nose. And after that was attended to,
she drew up a chair to the rickety table, and told her fortune with
an old deck of cards.
"The horrid, impudent thing!" she said aloud. "And I never gave him
a word or a look to make him think it!"
At nine o'clock Dulcie took a tin box of crackers and a little pot
of raspberry jam out of her trunk, and had a feast. She offered
General Kitchener some jam on a cracker; but he only looked at her
as the sphinx would have looked at a butterfly--if there are
butterflies in the desert.
"Don't eat it if you don't want to," said Dulcie. "And don't put on
so many airs and scold so with your eyes. I wonder if you'd he so
superior and snippy if you had to live on six dollars a week."
It was not a good sign for Dulcie to be rude to General Kitchener.
And then she turned Benvenuto Cellini face downward with a severe
gesture. But that was not inexcusable; for she had always thought
he was Henry VIII, and she did not approve of him.
At half-past nine Dulcie took a last look at the pictures on the
dresser, turned out the light, and skipped into bed. It's an awful
thing to go to bed with a good-night look at General Kitchener,
William Muldoon, the Duchess of Marlborough, and Benvenuto Cellini.
This story really doesn't get anywhere at all. The rest of it comes
later--sometime when Piggy asks Dulcie again to dine with him, and
she is feeling lonelier than usual, and General Kitchener happens to
be looking the other way; and then--
As I said before, I dreamed that I was standing near a crowd of
prosperous-looking angels, and a policeman took me by the wing and
asked if I belonged with them.
"Who are they?" I asked.
"Why," said he, "they are the men who hired working-girls, and paid
'em five or six dollars a week to live on. Are you one of the
"Not on your immortality," said I. "I'm only the fellow that set
fire to an orphan asylum, and murdered a blind man for his pennies."
THE CALIPH, CUPID AND THE CLOCK
Prince Michael, of the Electorate of Valleluna, sat on his favourite
bench in the park. The coolness of the September night quickened the
life in him like a rare, tonic wine. The benches were not filled;
for park loungers, with their stagnant blood, are prompt to detect
and fly home from the crispness of early autumn. The moon was just
clearing the roofs of the range of dwellings that bounded the
quadrangle on the east. Children laughed and played about the fine-
sprayed fountain. In the shadowed spots fauns and hamadryads wooed,
unconscious of the gaze of mortal eyes. A hand organ--Philomel by
the grace of our stage carpenter, Fancy--fluted and droned in a side
street. Around the enchanted boundaries of the little park street
cars spat and mewed and the stilted trains roared like tigers and
lions prowling for a place to enter. And above the trees shone the
great, round, shining face of an illuminated clock in the tower of an
antique public building.
Prince Michael's shoes were wrecked far beyond the skill of the
carefullest cobbler. The ragman would have declined any negotiations
concerning his clothes. The two weeks' stubble on his face was grey
and brown and red and greenish yellow--as if it had been made up from
individual contributions from the chorus of a musical comedy. No man
existed who had money enough to wear so bad a hat as his.
Prince Michael sat on his favourite bench and smiled. It was a
diverting thought to him that he was wealthy enough to buy every one
of those close-ranged, bulky, window-lit mansions that faced him, if
he chose. He could have matched gold, equipages, jewels, art
treasures, estates and acres with any Croesus in this proud city of
Manhattan, and scarcely have entered upon the bulk of his holdings.
He could have sat at table with reigning sovereigns. The social
world, the world of art, the fellowship of the elect, adulation,
imitation, the homage of the fairest, honours from the highest,
praise from the wisest, flattery, esteem, credit, pleasure, fame--all
the honey of life was waiting in the comb in the hive of the world
for Prince Michael, of the Electorate of Valleluna, whenever he might
choose to take it. But his choice was to sit in rags and dinginess
on a bench in a park. For he had tasted of the fruit of the tree of
life, and, finding it bitter in his mouth, had stepped out of Eden
for a time to seek distraction close to the unarmoured, beating heart
of the world.
These thoughts strayed dreamily through the mind of Prince Michael,
as he smiled under the stubble of his polychromatic beard. Lounging
thus, clad as the poorest of mendicants in the parks, he loved to
study humanity. He found in altruism more pleasure than his riches,
his station and all the grosser sweets of life had given him. It was
his chief solace and satisfaction to alleviate individual distress,
to confer favours upon worthy ones who had need of succour, to dazzle
unfortunates by unexpected and bewildering gifts of truly royal
magnificence, bestowed, however, with wisdom and judiciousness.
And as Prince Michael's eye rested upon the glowing face of the great
clock in the tower, his smile, altruistic as it was, became slightly
tinged with contempt. Big thoughts were the Prince's; and it was
always with a shake of his head that he considered the subjugation of
the world to the arbitrary measures of Time. The comings and goings
of people in hurry and dread, controlled by the little metal moving
hands of a clock, always made him sad.
By and by came a young man in evening clothes and sat upon the third
bench from the Prince. For half an hour he smoked cigars with
nervous haste, and then he fell to watching the face of the
illuminated clock above the trees. His perturbation was evident, and
the Prince noted, in sorrow, that its cause was connected, in some
manner, with the slowly moving hands of the timepiece.
His Highness arose and went to the young man's bench.
"I beg your pardon for addressing you," he said, "but I perceive that
you are disturbed in mind. If it may serve to mitigate the liberty I
have taken I will add that I am Prince Michael, heir to the throne of
the Electorate of Valleluna. I appear incognito, of course, as you
may gather from my appearance. It is a fancy of mine to render aid
to others whom I think worthy of it. Perhaps the matter that seems
to distress you is one that would more readily yield to our mutual
The young man looked up brightly at the Prince. Brightly, but the
perpendicular line of perplexity between his brows was not smoothed
away. He laughed, and even then it did not. But he accepted the
"Glad to meet you, Prince," he said, good humouredly. "Yes, I'd say
you were incog. all right. Thanks for your offer of assistance--but
I don't see where your butting-in would help things any. It's a kind
of private affair, you know--but thanks all the same."
Prince Michael sat at the young man's side. He was often rebuffed
but never offensively. His courteous manner and words forbade that.
"Clocks," said the Prince, "are shackles on the feet of mankind. I
have observed you looking persistently at that clock. Its face is
that of a tyrant, its numbers are false as those on a lottery ticket;
its hands are those of a bunco steerer, who makes an appointment with
you to your ruin. Let me entreat you to throw off its humiliating
bonds and to cease to order your affairs by that insensate monitor of
brass and steel."
"I don't usually," said the young man. "I carry a watch except when
I've got my radiant rags on."
"I know human nature as I do the trees and grass," said the Prince,
with earnest dignity. "I am a master of philosophy, a graduate in
art, and I hold the purse of a Fortunatus. There are few mortal
misfortunes that I cannot alleviate or overcome. I have read your
countenance, and found in it honesty and nobility as well as
distress. I beg of you to accept my advice or aid. Do not belie the
intelligence I see in your face by judging from my appearance of my
ability to defeat your troubles."
The young man glanced at the clock again and frowned darkly. When
his gaze strayed from the glowing horologue of time it rested
intently upon a four-story red brick house in the row of dwellings
opposite to where he sat. The shades were drawn, and the lights in
many rooms shone dimly through them.
"Ten minutes to nine!" exclaimed the young man, with an impatient
gesture of despair. He turned his back upon the house and took a
rapid step or two in a contrary direction.
"Remain!" commanded Prince Michael, in so potent a voice that the
disturbed one wheeled around with a somewhat chagrined laugh.
"I'll give her the ten minutes and then I'm off," he muttered, and
then aloud to the Prince: "I'll join you in confounding all clocks,
my friend, and throw in women, too."
"Sit down," said the Prince calmly. "I do not accept your addition.
Women are the natural enemies of clocks, and, therefore, the allies
of those who would seek liberation from these monsters that measure
our follies and limit our pleasures. If you will so far confide in
me I would ask you to relate to me your story."
The young man threw himself upon the bench with a reckless laugh.
"Your Royal Highness, I will," he said, in tones of mock deference.
"Do you see yonder house--the one with three upper windows lighted?
Well, at 6 o'clock I stood in that house with the young lady I am--
that is, I was--engaged to. I had been doing wrong, my dear Prince--
I had been a naughty boy, and she had heard of it. I wanted to be
forgiven, of course--we are always wanting women to forgive us,
aren't we, Prince?"
"'I want time to think it over,' said she. 'There is one thing
certain; I will either fully forgive you, or I will never see your
face again. There will be no half-way business. At half-past
eight,' she said, 'at exactly half-past eight you may be watching the
middle upper window of the top floor. If I decide to forgive I will
hang out of that window a white silk scarf. You will know by that
that all is as was before, and you may come to me. If you see no
scarf you may consider that everything between us is ended forever.'
That," concluded the young man bitterly, "is why I have been watching
that clock. The time for the signal to appear has passed twenty-
three minutes ago. Do you wonder that I am a little disturbed, my
Prince of Rags and Whiskers?"
"Let me repeat to you," said Prince Michael, in his even, well-
modulated tones, "that women are the natural enemies of clocks.
Clocks are an evil, women a blessing. The signal may yet appear."
"Never, on your principality!" exclaimed the young man, hopelessly.
"You don't know Marian--of course. She's always on time, to the
minute. That was the first thing about her that attracted me. I've
got the mitten instead of the scarf. I ought to have known at 8.31
that my goose was cooked. I'll go West on the 11.45 to-night with
Jack Milburn. The jig's up. I'll try Jack's ranch awhile and top
off with the Klondike and whiskey. Good-night--er--er--Prince."
Prince Michael smiled his enigmatic, gentle, comprehending smile and
caught the coat sleeve of the other. The brilliant light in the
Prince's eyes was softening to a dreamier, cloudy translucence.
"Wait," he said solemnly, "till the clock strikes. I have wealth and
power and knowledge above most men, but when the clock strikes I am
afraid. Stay by me until then. This woman shall be yours. You have
the word of the hereditary Prince of Valleluna. On the day of your
marriage I will give you $100,000 and a palace on the Hudson. But
there must be no clocks in that palace--they measure our follies and
limit our pleasures. Do you agree to that?"
"Of course," said the young man, cheerfully, "they're a nuisance,
anyway--always ticking and striking and getting you late for dinner."
He glanced again at the clock in the tower. The hands stood at three
minutes to nine.
"I think," said Prince Michael, "that I will sleep a little. The day
has been fatiguing."
He stretched himself upon a bench with the manner of one who had
slept thus before.
"You will find me in this park on any evening when the weather is
suitable," said the Prince, sleepily. "Come to me when your marriage
day is set and I will give you a cheque for the money."
"Thanks, Your Highness," said the young man, seriously. "It doesn't
look as if I would need that palace on the Hudson, but I appreciate
your offer, just the same."
Prince Michael sank into deep slumber. His battered hat rolled from
the bench to the ground. The young man lifted it, placed it over the
frowsy face and moved one of the grotesquely relaxed limbs into a
more comfortable position. "Poor devil!" he said, as he drew the
tattered clothes closer about the Prince's breast.
Sonorous and startling came the stroke of 9 from the clock tower.
The young man sighed again, turned his face for one last look at the
house of his relinquished hopes--and cried aloud profane words of
>From the middle upper window blossomed in the dusk a waving, snowy,
fluttering, wonderful, divine emblem of forgiveness and promised joy.
By came a citizen, rotund, comfortable, home-hurrying, unknowing of
the delights of waving silken scarfs on the borders of dimly-lit
"Will you oblige me with the time, sir?" asked the young man; and the
citizen, shrewdly conjecturing his watch to be safe, dragged it out
"Twenty-nine and a half minutes past eight, sir."
And then, from habit, he glanced at the clock in the tower, and made
"By George! that clock's half an hour fast! First time in ten years
I've known it to be off. This watch of mine never varies a--"
But the citizen was talking to vacancy. He turned and saw his
hearer, a fast receding black shadow, flying in the direction of a
house with three lighted upper windows.
And in the morning came along two policemen on their way to the beats
they owned. The park was deserted save for one dilapidated figure
that sprawled, asleep, on a bench. They stopped and gazed upon it.
"It's Dopy Mike," said one. "He hits the pipe every night. Park bum
for twenty years. On his last legs, I guess."
The other policeman stooped and looked at something crumpled and
crisp in the hand of the sleeper.
"Gee!" he remarked. "He's doped out a fifty-dollar bill, anyway.
Wish I knew the brand of hop that he smokes."
And then "Rap, rap, rap!" went the club of realism against the shoe
soles of Prince Michael, of the Electorate of Valleluna.
SISTERS OF THE GOLDEN CIRCLE
The Rubberneck Auto was about ready to start. The merry top-riders
had been assigned to their seats by the gentlemanly conductor. The
sidewalk was blockaded with sightseers who had gathered to stare at
sightseers, justifying the natural law that every creature on earth
is preyed upon by some other creature.
The megaphone man raised his instrument of torture; the inside of the
great automobile began to thump and throb like the heart of a coffee
drinker. The top-riders nervously clung to the seats; the old lady
from Valparaiso, Indiana, shrieked to be put ashore. But, before a
wheel turns, listen to a brief preamble through the cardiaphone,
which shall point out to you an object of interest on life's
Swift and comprehensive is the recognition of white man for white man
in African wilds; instant and sure is the spiritual greeting between
mother and babe; unhesitatingly do master and dog commune across the
slight gulf between animal and man; immeasurably quick and sapient
are the brief messages between one and one's beloved. But all these
instances set forth only slow and groping interchange of sympathy and
thought beside one other instance which the Rubberneck coach shall
disclose. You shall learn (if you have not learned already) what two
beings of all earth's living inhabitants most quickly look into each
other's hearts and souls when they meet face to face.
The gong whirred, and the Glaring-at-Gotham car moved majestically
upon its instructive tour.
On the highest, rear seat was James Williams, of Cloverdale,
Missouri, and his Bride.
Capitalise it, friend typo--that last word--word of words in the
epiphany of life and love. The scent of the flowers, the booty of
the bee, the primal drip of spring waters, the overture of the lark,
the twist of lemon peel on the cocktail of creation--such is the
bride. Holy is the wife; revered the mother; galliptious is the
summer girl--but the bride is the certified check among the wedding
presents that the gods send in when man is married to mortality.
The car glided up the Golden Way. On the bridge of the great cruiser
the captain stood, trumpeting the sights of the big city to his
passengers. Wide-mouthed and open-eared, they heard the sights of
the metropolis thundered forth to their eyes. Confused, delirious
with excitement and provincial longings, they tried to make ocular
responses to the megaphonic ritual. In the solemn spires of
spreading cathedrals they saw the home of the Vanderbilts; in the
busy bulk of the Grand Central depot they viewed, wonderingly, the
frugal cot of Russell Sage. Bidden to observe the highlands of the
Hudson, they gaped, unsuspecting, at the upturned mountains of a new-
laid sewer. To many the elevated railroad was the Rialto, on the
stations of which uniformed men sat and made chop suey of your
tickets. And to this day in the outlying districts many have it that
Chuck Connors, with his hand on his heart, leads reform; and that but
for the noble municipal efforts of one Parkhurst, a district
attorney, the notorious "Bishop" Potter gang would have destroyed law
and order from the Bowery to the Harlem River.
But I beg you to observe Mrs. James Williams--Hattie Chalmers that
was--once the belle of Cloverdale. Pale-blue is the bride's, if she
will; and this colour she had honoured. Willingly had the moss
rosebud loaned to her cheeks of its pink--and as for the violet!--her
eyes will do very well as they are, thank you. A useless strip of
white chaf--oh, no, he was guiding the auto car--of white chiffon--or
perhaps it was grenadine or tulle--was tied beneath her chin,
pretending to hold her bonnet in place. But you know as well as I do
that the hatpins did the work.
And on Mrs. James Williams's face was recorded a little library of
the world's best thoughts in three volumes. Volume No. 1 contained
the belief that James Williams was about the right sort of thing.
Volume No. 2 was an essay on the world, declaring it to be a very
excellent place. Volume No. 3 disclosed the belief that in occupying
the highest seat in a Rubberneck auto they were travelling the pace
that passes all understanding.
James Williams, you would have guessed, was about twenty-four. It
will gratify you to know that your estimate was so accurate. He was
exactly twenty-three years, eleven months and twenty-nine days old.
He was well built, active, strong-jawed, good-natured and rising. He
was on his wedding trip.
Dear kind fairy, please cut out those orders for money and 40 H. P.
touring cars and fame and a new growth of hair and the presidency of
the boat club. Instead of any of them turn backward--oh, turn
backward and give us just a teeny-weeny bit of our wedding trip over
again. Just an hour, dear fairy, so we can remember how the grass
and poplar trees looked, and the bow of those bonnet strings tied
beneath her chin--even if it was the hatpins that did the work.
Can't do it? Very well; hurry up with that touring car and the oil
Just in front of Mrs. James Williams sat a girl in a loose tan jacket
and a straw hat adorned with grapes and roses. Only in dreams and
milliners' shops do we, alas! gather grapes and roses at one swipe.
This girl gazed with large blue eyes, credulous, when the megaphone
man roared his doctrine that millionaires were things about which we
should be concerned. Between blasts she resorted to Epictetian
philosophy in the form of pepsin chewing gum.
At this girl's right hand sat a young man about twenty-four. He was
well-built, active, strong-jawed and good-natured. But if his
description seems to follow that of James Williams, divest it of
anything Cloverdalian. This man belonged to hard streets and sharp
corners. He looked keenly about him, seeming to begrudge the asphalt
under the feet of those upon whom he looked down from his perch.
While the megaphone barks at a famous hostelry, let me whisper you
through the low-tuned cardiaphone to sit tight; for now things are
about to happen, and the great city will close over them again as
over a scrap of ticker tape floating down from the den of a Broad
The girl in the tan jacket twisted around to view the pilgrims on the
last seat. The other passengers she had absorbed; the seat behind
her was her Bluebeard's chamber.
Her eyes met those of Mrs. James Williams. Between two ticks of a
watch they exchanged their life's experiences, histories, hopes and
fancies. And all, mind you, with the eye, before two men could have
decided whether to draw steel or borrow a match.
The bride leaned forward low. She and the girl spoke rapidly
together, their tongues moving quickly like those of two serpents--
a comparison that is not meant to go further. Two smiles and a dozen
nods closed the conference.
And now in the broad, quiet avenue in front of the Rubberneck car a
man in dark clothes stood with uplifted hand. From the sidewalk
another hurried to join him.
The girl in the fruitful hat quickly seized her companion by the arm
and whispered in his ear. That young man exhibited proof of ability
to act promptly. Crouching low, he slid over the edge of the car,
hung lightly for an instant, and then disappeared. Half a dozen of
the top-riders observed his feat, wonderingly, but made no comment,
deeming it prudent not to express surprise at what might be the
conventional manner of alighting in this bewildering city. The
truant passenger dodged a hansom and then floated past, like a leaf
on a stream between a furniture van and a florist's delivery wagon.
The girl in the tan jacket turned again, and looked in the eyes of
Mrs. James Williams. Then she faced about and sat still while the
Rubberneck auto stopped at the flash of the badge under the coat of
the plainclothes man.
"What's eatin' you?" demanded the megaphonist, abandoning his
professional discourse for pure English.
"Keep her at anchor for a minute," ordered the officer. "There's a
man on board we want--a Philadelphia burglar called 'Pinky' McGuire.
There he is on the back seat. Look out for the side, Donovan."
Donovan went to the hind wheel and looked up at James Williams.
"Come down, old sport," he said, pleasantly. "We've got you. Back
to Sleepytown for yours. It ain't a bad idea, hidin' on a
Rubberneck, though. I'll remember that."
Softly through the megaphone came the advice of the conductor:
"Better step off, sir, and explain. The car must proceed on its tour."
James Williams belonged among the level heads. With necessary
slowness he picked his way through the passengers down to the steps
at the front of the car. His wife followed, but she first turned her
eyes and saw the escaped tourist glide from behind the furniture van
and slip behind a tree on the edge of the little park, not fifty feet
Descended to the ground, James Williams faced his captors with a
smile. He was thinking what a good story he would have to tell in
Cloverdale about having been mistaken for a burglar. The Rubberneck
coach lingered, out of respect for its patrons. What could be a more
interesting sight than this?
"My name is James Williams, of Cloverdale, Missouri," he said kindly,
so that they would not be too greatly mortified. "I have letters
here that will show--"
"You'll come with us, please," announced the plainclothes man.
"'Pinky' McGuire's description fits you like flannel washed in hot
suds. A detective saw you on the Rubberneck up at Central Park and
'phoned down to take you in. Do your explaining at the station-
James Williams's wife--his bride of two weeks--looked him in the face
with a strange, soft radiance in her eyes and a flush on her cheeks,
looked him in the face and said:
"Go with 'em quietly, 'Pinky,' and maybe it'll be in your favour."
And then as the Glaring-at-Gotham car rolled away she turned and
threw a kiss--his wife threw a kiss--at some one high up on the seats
of the Rubberneck.
"Your girl gives you good advice, McGuire," said Donovan. "Come on,
And then madness descended upon and occupied James Williams. He
pushed his hat far upon the back of his head.
"My wife seems to think I am a burglar," he said, recklessly. "I
never heard of her being crazy; therefore I must be. And if I'm
crazy, they can't do anything to me for killing you two fools in my
Whereupon he resisted arrest so cheerfully and industriously that
cops had to be whistled for, and afterwards the reserves, to disperse
a few thousand delighted spectators.
At the station-house the desk sergeant asked for his name.
"McDoodle, the Pink, or Pinky the Brute, I forget which," was James
Williams's answer. "But you can bet I'm a burglar; don't leave that
out. And you might add that it took five of 'em to pluck the Pink.
I'd especially like to have that in the records."
In an hour came Mrs. James Williams, with Uncle Thomas, of Madison
Avenue, in a respect-compelling motor car and proofs of the hero's
innocence--for all the world like the third act of a drama backed by
an automobile mfg. co.
After the police had sternly reprimanded James Williams for imitating
a copyrighted burglar and given him as honourable a discharge as the
department was capable of, Mrs. Williams rearrested him and swept him
into an angle of the station-house. James Williams regarded her with
one eye. He always said that Donovan closed the other while somebody
was holding his good right hand. Never before had he given her a
word of reproach or of reproof.
"If you can explain," he began rather stiffly, "why you--"
"Dear," she interrupted, "listen. It was an hour's pain and trial to
you. I did it for her--I mean the girl who spoke to me on the coach.
I was so happy, Jim--so happy with you that I didn't dare to refuse
that happiness to another. Jim, they were married only this morning
--those two; and I wanted him to get away. While they were
struggling with you I saw him slip from behind his tree and hurry
across the park. That's all of it, dear--I had to do it."
Thus does one sister of the plain gold band know another who stands
in the enchanted light that shines but once and briefly for each one.
By rice and satin bows does mere man become aware of weddings. But
bride knoweth bride at the glance of an eye. And between them
swiftly passes comfort and meaning in a language that man and widows
wot not of.
THE ROMANCE OF A BUSY BROKER
Pitcher, confidential clerk in the office of Harvey Maxwell, broker,
allowed a look of mild interest and surprise to visit his usually
expressionless countenance when his employer briskly entered at half
past nine in company with his young lady stenographer. With a snappy
"Good-morning, Pitcher," Maxwell dashed at his desk as though he were
intending to leap over it, and then plunged into the great heap of
letters and telegrams waiting there for him.
The young lady had been Maxwell's stenographer for a year. She was
beautiful in a way that was decidedly unstenographic. She forewent
the pomp of the alluring pompadour. She wore no chains, bracelets or
lockets. She had not the air of being about to accept an invitation
to luncheon. Her dress was grey and plain, but it fitted her figure
with fidelity and discretion. In her neat black turban hat was the
gold-green wing of a macaw. On this morning she was softly and shyly
radiant. Her eyes were dreamily bright, her cheeks genuine
peachblow, her expression a happy one, tinged with reminiscence.
Pitcher, still mildly curious, noticed a difference in her ways this
morning. Instead of going straight into the adjoining room, where
her desk was, she lingered, slightly irresolute, in the outer office.
Once she moved over by Maxwell's desk, near enough for him to be
aware of her presence.
The machine sitting at that desk was no longer a man; it was a busy
New York broker, moved by buzzing wheels and uncoiling springs.
"Well--what is it? Anything?" asked Maxwell sharply. His opened
mail lay like a bank of stage snow on his crowded desk. His keen
grey eye, impersonal and brusque, flashed upon her half impatiently.
"Nothing," answered the stenographer, moving away with a little smile.
"Mr. Pitcher," she said to the confidential clerk, did Mr. Maxwell
say anything yesterday about engaging another stenographer?"
"He did," answered Pitcher. "He told me to get another one. I
notified the agency yesterday afternoon to send over a few samples
this morning. It's 9.45 o'clock, and not a single picture hat or
piece of pineapple chewing gum has showed up yet."
"I will do the work as usual, then," said the young lady, "until some
one comes to fill the place." And she went to her desk at once and
hung the black turban hat with the gold-green macaw wing in its
He who has been denied the spectacle of a busy Manhattan broker
during a rush of business is handicapped for the profession of
anthropology. The poet sings of the "crowded hour of glorious life."
The broker's hour is not only crowded, but the minutes and seconds
are hanging to all the straps and packing both front and rear
And this day was Harvey Maxwell's busy day. The ticker began to reel
out jerkily its fitful coils of tape, the desk telephone had a
chronic attack of buzzing. Men began to throng into the office and
call at him over the railing, jovially, sharply, viciously,
excitedly. Messenger boys ran in and out with messages and
telegrams. The clerks in the office jumped about like sailors during
a storm. Even Pitcher's face relaxed into something resembling
On the Exchange there were hurricanes and landslides and snowstorms
and glaciers and volcanoes, and those elemental disturbances were
reproduced in miniature in the broker's offices. Maxwell shoved his
chair against the wall and transacted business after the manner of a
toe dancer. He jumped from ticker to 'phone, from desk to door with
the trained agility of a harlequin.
In the midst of this growing and important stress the broker became
suddenly aware of a high-rolled fringe of golden hair under a nodding
canopy of velvet and ostrich tips, an imitation sealskin sacque and a
string of beads as large as hickory nuts, ending near the floor with
a silver heart. There was a self-possessed young lady connected with
these accessories; and Pitcher was there to construe her.
"Lady from the Stenographer's Agency to see about the position," said
Maxwell turned half around, with his hands full of papers and ticker
"What position?" he asked, with a frown.
"Position of stenographer," said Pitcher. "You told me yesterday to
call them up and have one sent over this morning."
"You are losing your mind, Pitcher," said Maxwell. "Why should I
have given you any such instructions? Miss Leslie has given perfect
satisfaction during the year she has been here. The place is hers as
long as she chooses to retain it. There's no place open here, madam.
Countermand that order with the agency, Pitcher, and don't bring any
more of 'em in here."
The silver heart left the office, swinging and banging itself
independently against the office furniture as it indignantly
departed. Pitcher seized a moment to remark to the bookkeeper that
the "old man" seemed to get more absent-minded and forgetful every
day of the world.
The rush and pace of business grew fiercer and faster. On the floor
they were pounding half a dozen stocks in which Maxwell's customers
were heavy investors. Orders to buy and sell were coming and going
as swift as the flight of swallows. Some of his own holdings were
imperilled, and the man was working like some high-geared, delicate,
strong machine--strung to full tension, going at full speed,
accurate, never hesitating, with the proper word and decision and act
ready and prompt as clockwork. Stocks and bonds, loans and
mortgages, margins and securities--here was a world of finance, and
there was no room in it for the human world or the world of nature.
When the luncheon hour drew near there came a slight lull in the
Maxwell stood by his desk with his hands full of telegrams and
memoranda, with a fountain pen over his right ear and his hair
hanging in disorderly strings over his forehead. His window was
open, for the beloved janitress Spring had turned on a little warmth
through the waking registers of the earth.
And through the window came a wandering--perhaps a lost--odour--a
delicate, sweet odour of lilac that fixed the broker for a moment
immovable. For this odour belonged to Miss Leslie; it was her own,
and hers only.
The odour brought her vividly, almost tangibly before him. The world
of finance dwindled suddenly to a speck. And she was in the next
room--twenty steps away.
"By George, I'll do it now," said Maxwell, half aloud. "I'll ask her
now. I wonder I didn't do it long ago."
He dashed into the inner office with the haste of a short trying to
cover. He charged upon the desk of the stenographer.
She looked up at him with a smile. A soft pink crept over her cheek,
and her eyes were kind and frank. Maxwell leaned one elbow on her
desk. He still clutched fluttering papers with both hands and the
pen was above his ear.
"Miss Leslie," he began hurriedly, "I have but a moment to spare.
I want to say something in that moment. Will you he my wife? I
haven't had time to make love to you in the ordinary way, but I
really do love you. Talk quick, please--those fellows are clubbing
the stuffing out of Union Pacific."
"Oh, what are you talking about?" exclaimed the young lady. She rose
to her feet and gazed upon him, round-eyed.
"Don't you understand?" said Maxwell, restively. "I want you to
marry me. I love you, Miss Leslie. I wanted to tell you, and I
snatched a minute when things had slackened up a bit. They're
calling me for the 'phone now. Tell 'em to wait a minute, Pitcher.
Won't you, Miss Leslie?"
The stenographer acted very queerly. At first she seemed overcome
with amazement; then tears flowed from her wondering eyes; and then
she smiled sunnily through them, and one of her arms slid tenderly
about the broker's neck.
"I know now," she said, softly. "It's this old business that has
driven everything else out of your head for the time. I was
frightened at first. Don't you remember, Harvey? We were married
last evening at 8 o'clock in the Little Church Around the Corner."
AFTER TWENTY YEARS
The policeman on the beat moved up the avenue impressively. The
impressiveness was habitual and not for show, for spectators were
few. The time was barely 10 o'clock at night, but chilly gusts of
wind with a taste of rain in them had well nigh depeopled the
Trying doors as he went, twirling his club with many intricate and
artful movements, turning now and then to cast his watchful eye adown
the pacific thoroughfare, the officer, with his stalwart form and
slight swagger, made a fine picture of a guardian of the peace. The
vicinity was one that kept early hours. Now and then you might see
the lights of a cigar store or of an all-night lunch counter; but the
majority of the doors belonged to business places that had long since
When about midway of a certain block the policeman suddenly slowed
his walk. In the doorway of a darkened hardware store a man leaned,
with an unlighted cigar in his mouth. As the policeman walked up to
him the man spoke up quickly.
"It's all right, officer," he said, reassuringly. "I'm just waiting
for a friend. It's an appointment made twenty years ago. Sounds a
little funny to you, doesn't it? Well, I'll explain if you'd like to
make certain it's all straight. About that long ago there used to be
a restaurant where this store stands--'Big Joe' Brady's restaurant."
"Until five years ago," said the policeman. "It was torn down then."
The man in the doorway struck a match and lit his cigar. The light
showed a pale, square-jawed face with keen eyes, and a little white
scar near his right eyebrow. His scarfpin was a large diamond, oddly
"Twenty years ago to-night," said the man, "I dined here at 'Big Joe'
Brady's with Jimmy Wells, my best chum, and the finest chap in the
world. He and I were raised here in New York, just like two
brothers, together. I was eighteen and Jimmy was twenty. The next
morning I was to start for the West to make my fortune. You couldn't
have dragged Jimmy out of New York; he thought it was the only place
on earth. Well, we agreed that night that we would meet here again
exactly twenty years from that date and time, no matter what our
conditions might be or from what distance we might have to come. We
figured that in twenty years each of us ought to have our destiny
worked out and our fortunes made, whatever they were going to be."
"It sounds pretty interesting," said the policeman. "Rather a long
time between meets, though, it seems to me. Haven't you heard from
your friend since you left?"
"Well, yes, for a time we corresponded," said the other. "But after
a year or two we lost track of each other. You see, the West is a
pretty big proposition, and I kept hustling around over it pretty
lively. But I know Jimmy will meet me here if he's alive, for he
always was the truest, stanchest old chap in the world. He'll never
forget. I came a thousand miles to stand in this door to-night, and
it's worth it if my old partner turns up."
The waiting man pulled out a handsome watch, the lids of it set with
"Three minutes to ten," he announced. "It was exactly ten o'clock
when we parted here at the restaurant door."
"Did pretty well out West, didn't you?" asked the policeman.
"You bet! I hope Jimmy has done half as well. He was a kind of
plodder, though, good fellow as he was. I've had to compete with
some of the sharpest wits going to get my pile. A man gets in a
groove in New York. It takes the West to put a razor-edge on him."
The policeman twirled his club and took a step or two.
"I'll be on my way. Hope your friend comes around all right. Going
to call time on him sharp?"
"I should say not!" said the other. "I'll give him half an hour at
least. If Jimmy is alive on earth he'll be here by that time. So
"Good-night, sir," said the policeman, passing on along his beat,
trying doors as he went.
There was now a fine, cold drizzle falling, and the wind had risen
from its uncertain puffs into a steady blow. The few foot passengers
astir in that quarter hurried dismally and silently along with coat
collars turned high and pocketed hands. And in the door of the
hardware store the man who had come a thousand miles to fill an
appointment, uncertain almost to absurdity, with the friend of his
youth, smoked his cigar and waited.
About twenty minutes he waited, and then a tall man in a long
overcoat, with collar turned up to his ears, hurried across from the
opposite side of the street. He went directly to the waiting man.
"Is that you, Bob?" he asked, doubtfully.
"Is that you, Jimmy Wells?" cried the man in the door.
"Bless my heart!" exclaimed the new arrival, grasping both the
other's hands with his own. "It's Bob, sure as fate. I was certain
I'd find you here if you were still in existence. Well, well, well!
--twenty years is a long time. The old gone, Bob; I wish it had
lasted, so we could have had another dinner there. How has the West
treated you, old man?"
"Bully; it has given me everything I asked it for. You've changed
lots, Jimmy. I never thought you were so tall by two or three
"Oh, I grew a bit after I was twenty."
"Doing well in New York, Jimmy?"
"Moderately. I have a position in one of the city departments. Come
on, Bob; we'll go around to a place I know of, and have a good long
talk about old times."
The two men started up the street, arm in arm. The man from the
West, his egotism enlarged by success, was beginning to outline the
history of his career. The other, submerged in his overcoat,
listened with interest.
At the corner stood a drug store, brilliant with electric lights.
When they came into this glare each of them turned simultaneously to
gaze upon the other's face.
The man from the West stopped suddenly and released his arm.
"You're not Jimmy Wells," he snapped. "Twenty years is a long time,
but not long enough to change a man's nose from a Roman to a pug."
"It sometimes changes a good man into a bad one, said the tall man.
"You've been under arrest for ten minutes, 'Silky' Bob. Chicago
thinks you may have dropped over our way and wires us she wants to
have a chat with you. Going quietly, are you? That's sensible.
Now, before we go on to the station here's a note I was asked to hand
you. You may read it here at the window. It's from Patrolman
The man from the West unfolded the little piece of paper handed him.
His hand was steady when he began to read, but it trembled a little
by the time he had finished. The note was rather short.
~"Bob: I was at the appointed place on time. When you struck the
match to light your cigar I saw it was the face of the man wanted in
Chicago. Somehow I couldn't do it myself, so I went around and got
a plain clothes man to do the job. JIMMY."~
LOST ON DRESS PARADE
Mr. Towers Chandler was pressing his evening suit in his hall
bedroom. One iron was heating on a small gas stove; the other was
being pushed vigorously back and forth to make the desirable crease
that would be seen later on extending in straight lines from Mr.
Chandler's patent leather shoes to the edge of his low-cut vest. So
much of the hero's toilet may be intrusted to our confidence. The
remainder may be guessed by those whom genteel poverty has driven to
ignoble expedient. Our next view of him shall be as he descends the
steps of his lodging-house immaculately and correctly clothed; calm,
assured, handsome--in appearance the typical New York young clubman
setting out, slightly bored, to inaugurate the pleasures of the
Chandler's honorarium was $18 per week. He was employed in the
office of an architect. He was twenty-two years old; he considered
architecture to be truly an art; and he honestly believed--though he
would not have dared to admit it in New York--that the Flatiron
Building was inferior to design to the great cathedral in Milan.
Out of each week's earnings Chandler set aside $1. At the end of
each ten weeks with the extra capital thus accumulated, he purchased
one gentleman's evening from the bargain counter of stingy old
Father Time. He arrayed himself in the regalia of millionaires and
presidents; he took himself to the quarter where life is brightest
and showiest, and there dined with taste and luxury. With ten
dollars a man may, for a few hours, play the wealthy idler to
perfection. The sum is ample for a well-considered meal, a bottle
bearing a respectable label, commensurate tips, a smoke, cab fare and
the ordinary etceteras.
This one delectable evening culled from each dull seventy was to
Chandler a source of renascent bliss. To the society bud comes but
one debut; it stands alone sweet in her memory when her hair has
whitened; but to Chandler each ten weeks brought a joy as keen, as
thrilling, as new as the first had been. To sit among ~bon vivants~
under palms in the swirl of concealed music, to look upon the
~habitues~ of such a paradise and to be looked upon by them--what is
a girl's first dance and short-sleeved tulle compared with this?
Up Broadway Chandler moved with the vespertine dress parade. For
this evening he was an exhibit as well as a gazer. For the next
sixty-nine evenings he would be dining in cheviot and worsted at
dubious ~table d'hotes~, at whirlwind lunch counters, on sandwiches
and beer in his hall-bedroom. He was willing to do that, for he was
a true son of the great city of razzle-dazzle, and to him one evening
in the limelight made up for many dark ones.
Chandler protracted his walk until the Forties began to intersect the
great and glittering primrose way, for the evening was yet young, and
when one is of the ~beau monde~ only one day in seventy, one loves to
protract the pleasure. Eyes bright, sinister, curious, admiring,
provocative, alluring were bent upon him, for his garb and air
proclaimed him a devotee to the hour of solace and pleasure.
At a certain corner he came to a standstill, proposing to himself the
question of turning back toward the showy and fashionable restaurant
in which he usually dined on the evenings of his especial luxury.
Just then a girl scuddled lightly around the corner, slipped on a
patch of icy snow and fell plump upon the sidewalk.
Chandler assisted her to her feet with instant and solicitous
courtesy. The girl hobbled to the wall of the building, leaned
against it, and thanked him demurely.
"I think my ankle is strained," she said. "It twisted when I fell."
"Does it pain you much?" inquired Chandler.
"Only when I rest my weight upon it. I think I will be able to walk
in a minute or two."
"If I can be of any further service," suggested the young man, "I
will call a cab, or--"
"Thank you," said the girl, softly but heartily. "I am sure you need
not trouble yourself any further. It was so awkward of me. And my
shoe heels are horridly common-sense; I can't blame them at all."
Chandler looked at the girl and found her swiftly drawing his
interest. She was pretty in a refined way; and her eye was both
merry and kind. She was inexpensively clothed in a plain black dress
that suggested a sort of uniform such as shop girls wear. Her glossy
dark-brown hair showed its coils beneath a cheap hat of black straw
whose only ornament was a velvet ribbon and bow. She could have
posed as a model for the self-respecting working girl of the best
A sudden idea came into the head of the young architect. He would
ask this girl to dine with him. Here was the element that his
splendid but solitary periodic feasts had lacked. His brief season
of elegant luxury would be doubly enjoyable if he could add to it a
lady's society. This girl was a lady, he was sure--her manner and
speech settled that. And in spite of her extremely plain attire he
felt that he would be pleased to sit at table with her.
These thoughts passed swiftly through his mind, and he decided to ask
her. It was a breach of etiquette, of course, but oftentimes wage-
earning girls waived formalities in matters of this kind. They were
generally shrewd judges of men; and thought better of their own
judgment than they did of useless conventions. His ten dollars,
discreetly expended, would enable the two to dine very well indeed.
The dinner would no doubt be a wonderful experience thrown into the
dull routine of the girl's life; and her lively appreciation of it
would add to his own triumph and pleasure.
"I think," he said to her, with frank gravity, "that your foot needs
a longer rest than you suppose. Now, I am going to suggest a way in
which you can give it that and at the same time do me a favour. I
was on my way to dine all by my lonely self when you came tumbling
around the corner. You come with me and we'll have a cozy dinner and
a pleasant talk together, and by that time your game ankle will carry
you home very nicely, I am sure."
The girl looked quickly up into Chandler's clear, pleasant
countenance. Her eyes twinkled once very brightly, and then she
"But we don't know each other--it wouldn't be right, would it?" she
"There is nothing wrong about it," said the young man, candidly.
"I'll introduce myself--permit me--Mr. Towers Chandler. After our
dinner, which I will try to make as pleasant as possible, I will bid
you good-evening, or attend you safely to your door, whichever you
"But, dear me!" said the girl, with a glance at Chandler's faultless
attire. "In this old dress and hat!"
"Never mind that," said Chandler, cheerfully. "I'm sure you look
more charming in them than any one we shall see in the most elaborate
"My ankle does hurt yet," admitted the girl, attempting a limping
step. "I think I will accept your invitation, Mr. Chandler. You may
call me--Miss Marian."
"Come then, Miss Marian," said the young architect, gaily, but with
perfect courtesy; "you will not have far to walk. There is a very
respectable and good restaurant in the next block. You will have to
lean on my arm--so--and walk slowly. It is lonely dining all by
one's self. I'm just a little bit glad that you slipped on the ice."
When the two were established at a well-appointed table, with a
promising waiter hovering in attendance, Chandler began to experience
the real joy that his regular outing always brought to him.
The restaurant was not so showy or pretentious as the one further
down Broadway, which he always preferred, but it was nearly so. The
tables were well filled with Prosperous-looking diners, there was a
good orchestra, playing softly enough to make conversation a possible
pleasure, and the cuisine and service were beyond criticism. His
companion, even in her cheap hat and dress, held herself with an air
that added distinction to the natural beauty of her face and figure.
And it is certain that she looked at Chandler, with his animated but
self-possessed manner and his kindling and frank blue eyes, with
something not far from admiration in her own charming face.
Then it was that the Madness of Manhattan, the frenzy of Fuss and
Feathers, the Bacillus of Brag, the Provincial Plague of Pose seized
upon Towers Chandler. He was on Broadway, surrounded by pomp and
style, and there were eyes to look at him. On the stage of that
comedy he had assumed to play the one-night part of a butterfly of
fashion and an idler of means and taste. He was dressed for the
part, and all his good angels had not the power to prevent him from
So he began to prate to Miss Marian of clubs, of teas, of golf and
riding and kennels and cotillions and tours abroad and threw out
hints of a yacht lying at Larchmont. He could see that she was
vastly impressed by this vague talk, so he endorsed his pose by
random insinuations concerning great wealth, and mentioned
familiarly a few names that are handled reverently by the
proletariat. It was Chandler's short little day, and he was wringing
from it the best that could be had, as he saw it. And yet once or
twice he saw the pure gold of this girl shine through the mist that
his egotism had raised between him and all objects.
"This way of living that you speak of," she said, "sounds so futile
and purposeless. Haven't you any work to do in the world that might
interest you more?"
"My dear Miss Marian," he exclaimed--"work! Think of dressing every
day for dinner, of making half a dozen calls in an afternoon--with a
policeman at every corner ready to jump into your auto and take you
to the station, if you get up any greater speed than a donkey cart's
gait. We do-nothings are the hardest workers in the land."
The dinner was concluded, the waiter generously fed, and the two
walked out to the corner where they had met. Miss Marian walked very
well now; her limp was scarcely noticeable.
"Thank you for a nice time," she said, frankly. "I must run home
now. I liked the dinner very much, Mr. Chandler."
He shook hands with her, smiling cordially, and said something about
a game of bridge at his club. He watched her for a moment, walking
rather rapidly eastward, and then he found a cab to drive him slowly
In his chilly bedroom Chandler laid away his evening clothes for a
sixty-nine days' rest. He went about it thoughtfully.
"That was a stunning girl," he said to himself. "She's all right,
too, I'd be sworn, even if she does have to work. Perhaps if I'd
told her the truth instead of all that razzle-dazzle we might--but,
confound it! I had to play up to my clothes."
Thus spoke the brave who was born and reared in the wigwams of the
tribe of the Manhattans.
The girl, after leaving her entertainer, sped swiftly cross-town
until she arrived at a handsome and sedate mansion two squares to the
east, facing on that avenue which is the highway of Mammon and the
auxiliary gods. Here she entered hurriedly and ascended to a room
where a handsome young lady in an elaborate house dress was looking
anxiously out the window.
"Oh, you madcap!" exclaimed the elder girl, when the other entered.
"When will you quit frightening us this way? It is two hours since
you ran out in that rag of an old dress and Marie's hat. Mamma has
been so alarmed. She sent Louis in the auto to try to find you. You
are a bad, thoughtless Puss."
The elder girl touched a button, and a maid came in a moment.
"Marie, tell mamma that Miss Marian has returned."
"Don't scold, sister. I only ran down to Mme. Theo's to tell her to
use mauve insertion instead of pink. My costume and Marie's hat were
just what I needed. Every one thought I was a shopgirl, I am sure."
"Dinner is over, dear; you stayed so late."
"I know. I slipped on the sidewalk and turned my ankle. I could not
walk, so I hobbled into a restaurant and sat there until I was
better. That is why I was so long."
The two girls sat in the window seat, looking out at the lights and
the stream of hurrying vehicles in the avenue. The younger one
cuddled down with her head in her sister's lap.
"We will have to marry some day," she said dreamily--" both of us.
We have so much money that we will not be allowed to disappoint the
public. Do you want me to tell you the kind of a man I could love,
"Go on, you scatterbrain," smiled the other.
"I could love a man with dark and kind blue eyes, who is gentle and
respectful to poor girls, who is handsome and good and does not try
to flirt. But I could love him only if he had an ambition, an
object, some work to do in the world. I would not care how poor he
was if I could help him build his way up. But, sister dear, the kind
of man we always meet--the man who lives an idle life between society
and his clubs--I could not love a man like that, even if his eyes
were blue and he were ever so kind to poor girls whom he met in the
It was neither the season nor the hour when the Park had frequenters;
and it is likely that the young lady, who was seated on one of the
benches at the side of the walk, had merely obeyed a sudden impulse
to sit for a while and enjoy a foretaste of coming Spring.
She rested there, pensive and still. A certain melancholy that
touched her countenance must have been of recent birth, for it had
not yet altered the fine and youthful contours of her cheek, nor
subdued the arch though resolute curve of her lips.
A tall young man came striding through the park along the path near
which she sat. Behind him tagged a boy carrying a suit-case. At
sight of the young lady, the man's face changed to red and back to
pale again. He watched her countenance as he drew nearer, with hope
and anxiety mingled on his own. He passed within a few yards of her,
but he saw no evidence that she was aware of his presence or
Some fifty yards further on he suddenly stopped and sat on a bench at
one side. The boy dropped the suit-case and stared at him with
wondering, shrewd eyes. The young man took out his handkerchief and
wiped his brow. It was a good handkerchief, a good brow, and the
young man was good to look at. He said to the boy:
"I want you to take a message to that young lady on that bench. Tell
her I am on my way to the station, to leave for San Francisco, where
I shall join that Alaska moose-hunting expedition. Tell her that,
since she has commanded me neither to speak nor to write to her, I
take this means of making one last appeal to her sense of justice,
for the sake of what has been. Tell her that to condemn and discard
one who has not deserved such treatment, without giving him her
reasons or a chance to explain is contrary to her nature as I believe
it to be. Tell her that I have thus, to a certain degree, disobeyed
her injunctions, in the hope that she may yet be inclined to see
justice done. Go, and tell her that."
The young man dropped a half-dollar into the boy's hand. The boy
looked at him for a moment with bright, canny eyes out of a dirty,
intelligent face, and then set off at a run. He approached the lady
on the bench a little doubtfully, but unembarrassed. He touched the
brim of the old plaid bicycle cap perched on the back of his head.
The lady looked at him coolly, without prejudice or favour.
"Lady," he said, "dat gent on de oder bench sent yer a song and dance
by me. If yer don't know de guy, and he's tryin' to do de Johnny
act, say de word, and I'll call a cop in t'ree minutes. If yer does
know him, and he's on de square, w'y I'll spiel yer de bunch of hot
air he sent yer."
The young lady betrayed a faint interest.
"A song and dance!" she said, in a deliberate sweet voice that seemed
to clothe her words in a diaphanous garment of impalpable irony.
"A new idea--in the troubadour line, I suppose. I--used to know the
gentleman who sent you, so I think it will hardly be necessary to
call the police. You may execute your song and dance, but do not
sing too loudly. It is a little early yet for open-air vaudeville,
and we might attract attention."
"Awe," said the boy, with a shrug down the length of him, "yer know
what I mean, lady. 'Tain't a turn, it's wind. He told me to tell
yer he's got his collars and cuffs in dat grip for a scoot clean out
to 'Frisco. Den he's goin' to shoot snow-birds in de Klondike. He
says yer told him not to send 'round no more pink notes nor come
hangin' over de garden gate, and he takes dis means of puttin' yer
wise. He says yer refereed him out like a has-been, and never give
him no chance to kick at de decision. He says yer swiped him, and
never said why."
The slightly awakened interest in the young lady's eyes did not
abate. Perhaps it was caused by either the originality or the
audacity of the snow-bird hunter, in thus circumventing her express
commands against the ordinary modes of communication. She fixed her
eye on a statue standing disconsolate in the dishevelled park, and
spoke into the transmitter:
"Tell the gentleman that I need not repeat to him a description of my
ideals. He knows what they have been and what they still are. So
far as they touch on this case, absolute loyalty and truth are the
ones paramount. Tell him that I have studied my own heart as well as
one can, and I know its weakness as well as I do its needs. That is
why I decline to hear his pleas, whatever they may be. I did not
condemn him through hearsay or doubtful evidence, and that is why I
made no charge. But, since he persists in hearing what he already
well knows, you may convey the matter.
"Tell him that I entered the conservatory that evening from the rear,
to cut a rose for my mother. Tell him I saw him and Miss Ashburton
beneath the pink oleander. The tableau was pretty, but the pose and
juxtaposition were too eloquent and evident to require explanation.
I left the conservatory, and, at the same time, the rose and my
ideal. You may carry that song and dance to your impresario."
"I'm shy on one word, lady. Jux--jux--put me wise on dat, will yer?"
"Juxtaposition--or you may call it propinquity--or, if you like,
being rather too near for one maintaining the position of an ideal."
The gravel spun from beneath the boy's feet. He stood by the other
bench. The man's eyes interrogated him, hungrily. The boy's were
shining with the impersonal zeal of the translator.
"De lady says dat she's on to de fact dat gals is dead easy when a
feller comes spielin' ghost stories and tryin' to make up, and dat's
why she won't listen to no soft-soap. She says she caught yer dead
to rights, huggin' a bunch o' calico in de hot-house. She side-
stepped in to pull some posies and yer was squeezin' de oder gal to
beat de band. She says it looked cute, all right all right, but it
made her sick. She says yer better git busy, and make a sneak for de
The young man gave a low whistle and his eyes flashed with a sudden
thought. His hand flew to the inside pocket of his coat, and drew
out a handful of letters. Selecting one, he handed it to the boy,
following it with a silver dollar from his vest-pocket.
"Give that letter to the lady," he said, "and ask her to read it.
Tell her that it should explain the situation. Tell her that, if she
had mingled a little trust with her conception of the ideal, much
heartache might have been avoided. Tell her that the loyalty she
prizes so much has never wavered. Tell her I am waiting for an
The messenger stood before the lady.
"De gent says he's had de ski-bunk put on him widout no cause. He
says he's no bum guy; and, lady, yer read dat letter, and I'll bet
yer he's a white sport, all right."
The young lady unfolded the letter; somewhat doubtfully, and read it.
DEAR DR. ARNOLD: I want to thank you for your most kind and
opportune aid to my daughter last Friday evening, when she was
overcome by an attack of her old heart-trouble in the conservatory
at Mrs. Waldron's reception. Had you not been near to catch her as
she fell and to render proper attention, we might have lost her. I
would be glad if you would call and undertake the treatment of her
The young lady refolded the letter, and handed it to the boy.
"De gent wants an answer," said the messenger. "Wot's de word?"
The lady's eyes suddenly flashed on him, bright, smiling and wet.
"Tell that guy on the other bench," she said, with a happy, tremulous
laugh, "that his girl wants him."
THE FURNISHED ROOM
Restless, shifting, fugacious as time itself is a certain vast bulk
of the population of the red brick district of the lower West Side.
Homeless, they have a hundred homes. They flit from furnished room
to furnished room, transients forever--transients in abode,
transients in heart and mind. They sing "Home, Sweet Home" in
ragtime; they carry their ~lares et penates~ in a bandbox; their vine
is entwined about a picture hat; a rubber plant is their fig tree.
Hence the houses of this district, having had a thousand dwellers,
should have a thousand tales to tell, mostly dull ones, no doubt; but
it would be strange if there could not be found a ghost or two in the
wake of all these vagrant guests.
One evening after dark a young man prowled among these crumbling red
mansions, ringing their bells. At the twelfth he rested his lean
hand-baggage upon the step and wiped the dust from his hatband and
forehead. The bell sounded faint and far away in some remote, hollow
To the door of this, the twelfth house whose bell he had rung, came
a housekeeper who made him think of an unwholesome, surfeited worm
that had eaten its nut to a hollow shell and now sought to fill the
vacancy with edible lodgers.
He asked if there was a room to let.
"Come in," said the housekeeper. Her voice came from her throat; her
throat seemed lined with fur. "I have the third floor back, vacant
since a week back. Should you wish to look at it?"
The young man followed her up the stairs. A faint light from no
particular source mitigated the shadows of the halls. They trod
noiselessly upon a stair carpet that its own loom would have
forsworn. It seemed to have become vegetable; to have degenerated in
that rank, sunless air to lush lichen or spreading moss that grew in
patches to the staircase and was viscid under the foot like organic
matter. At each turn of the stairs were vacant niches in the wall.
Perhaps plants had once been set within them. If so they had died in
that foul and tainted air. It may be that statues of the saints had
stood there, but it was not difficult to conceive that imps and
devils had dragged them forth in the darkness and down to the unholy
depths of some furnished pit below.
"This is the room," said the housekeeper, from her furry throat.
"It's a nice room. It ain't often vacant. I had some most elegant
people in it last summer--no trouble at all, and paid in advance to
the minute. The water's at the end of the hall. Sprowls and Mooney
kept it three months. They done a vaudeville sketch. Miss B'retta
Sprowls--you may have heard of her--Oh, that was just the stage names
--right there over the dresser is where the marriage certificate
hung, framed. The gas is here, and you see there is plenty of closet
room. It's a room everybody likes. It never stays idle long."
"Do you have many theatrical people rooming here?" asked the young
"They comes and goes. A good proportion of my lodgers is connected
with the theatres. Yes, sir, this is the theatrical district. Actor
people never stays long anywhere. I get my share. Yes, they comes
and they goes."
He engaged the room, paying for a week in advance. He was tired, he
said, and would take possession at once. He counted out the money.
The room had been made ready, she said, even to towels and water. As
the housekeeper moved away he put, for the thousandth time, the
question that he carried at the end of his tongue.
"A young girl--Miss Vashner--Miss Eloise Vashner--do you remember
such a one among your lodgers? She would be singing on the stage,
most likely. A fair girl, of medium height and slender, with
reddish, gold hair and a dark mole near her left eyebrow."
"No, I don't remember the name. Them stage people has names they
change as often as their rooms. They comes and they goes. No, I
don't call that one to mind."
No. Always no. Five months of ceaseless interrogation and the
inevitable negative. So much time spent by day in questioning
managers, agents, schools and choruses; by night among the audiences
of theatres from all-star casts down to music halls so low that he
dreaded to find what he most hoped for. He who had loved her best
had tried to find her. He was sure that since her disappearance from
home this great, water-girt city held her somewhere, but it was like
a monstrous quicksand, shifting its particles constantly, with no
foundation, its upper granules of to-day buried to-morrow in ooze and
The furnished room received its latest guest with a first glow of
pseudo-hospitality, a hectic, haggard, perfunctory welcome like the
specious smile of a demirep. The sophistical comfort came in
reflected gleams from the decayed furniture, the raggcd brocade
upholstery of a couch and two chairs, a footwide cheap pier glass
between the two windows, from one or two gilt picture frames and a
brass bedstead in a corner.
The guest reclined, inert, upon a chair, while the room, confused in
speech as though it were an apartment in Babel, tried to discourse to
him of its divers tenantry.
A polychromatic rug like some brilliant-flowered rectangular,
tropical islet lay surrounded by a billowy sea of soiled matting.
Upon the gay-papered wall were those pictures that pursue the
homeless one from house to house--The Huguenot Lovers, The First
Quarrel, The Wedding Breakfast, Psyche at the Fountain. The mantel's
chastely severe outline was ingloriously veiled behind some pert
drapery drawn rakishly askew like the sashes of the Amazonian ballet.
Upon it was some desolate flotsam cast aside by the room's marooned
when a lucky sail had borne them to a fresh port--a trifling vase or
two, pictures of actresses, a medicine bottle, some stray cards out
of a deck.
One by one, as the characters of a cryptograph become explicit, the
little signs left by the furnished room's procession of guests
developed a significance. The threadbare space in the rug in front
of the dresser told that lovely woman had marched in the throng.
Tiny finger prints on the wall spoke of little prisoners trying to
feel their way to sun and air. A splattered stain, raying like the
shadow of a bursting bomb, witnessed where a hurled glass or bottle
had splintered with its contents against the wall. Across the pier
glass had been scrawled with a diamond in staggering letters the name
"Marie." It seemed that the succession of dwellers in the furnished
room had turned in fury--perhaps tempted beyond forbearance by its
garish coldness--and wreaked upon it their passions. The furniture
was chipped and bruised; the couch, distorted by bursting springs,
seemed a horrible monster that had been slain during the stress of
some grotesque convulsion. Some more potent upheaval had cloven a
great slice from the marble mantel. Each plank in the floor owned
its particular cant and shriek as from a separate and individual
agony. It seemed incredible that all this malice and injury had been
wrought upon the room by those who had called it for a time their
home; and yet it may have been the cheated home instinct surviving
blindly, the resentful rage at false household gods that had kindled
their wrath. A hut that is our own we can sweep and adorn and
The young tenant in the chair allowed these thoughts to file, soft-
shod, through his mind, while there drifted into the room furnished
sounds and furnished scents. He heard in one room a tittering and
incontinent, slack laughter; in others the monologue of a scold, the
rattling of dice, a lullaby, and one crying dully; above him a banjo
tinkled with spirit. Doors banged somewhere; the elevated trains
roared intermittently; a cat yowled miserably upon a back fence. And
he breathed the breath of the house--a dank savour rather than a smell
--a cold, musty effluvium as from underground vaults mingled with the
reeking exhalations of linoleum and mildewed and rotten woodwork.
Then, suddenly, as he rested there, the room was filled with the
strong, sweet odour of mignonette. It came as upon a single buffet
of wind with such sureness and fragrance and emphasis that it almost
seemed a living visitant. And the man cried aloud: "What, dear?" as
if he had been called, and sprang up and faced about. The rich odour
clung to him and wrapped him around. He reached out his arms for it,
all his senses for the time confused and commingled. How could one
be peremptorily called by an odour? Surely it must have been a
sound. But, was it not the sound that had touched, that had caressed
"She has been in this room," he cried, and he sprang to wrest from it
a token, for he knew he would recognize the smallest thing that had
belonged to her or that she had touched. This enveloping scent of
mignonette, the odour that she had loved and made her own--whence
The room had been but carelessly set in order. Scattered upon the
flimsy dresser scarf were half a dozen hairpins--those discreet,
indistinguishable friends of womankind, feminine of gender, infinite
of mood and uncommunicative of tense. These he ignored, conscious of
their triumphant lack of identity. Ransacking the drawers of the
dresser he came upon a discarded, tiny, ragged handkerchief. He
pressed it to his face. It was racy and insolent with heliotrope; he
hurled it to the floor. In another drawer he found odd buttons, a
theatre programme, a pawnbroker's card, two lost marshmallows, a book
on the divination of dreams. In the last was a woman's black satin
hair bow, which halted him, poised between ice and fire. But the
black satin hairbow also is femininity's demure, impersonal, common
ornament, and tells no tales.
And then he traversed the room like a hound on the scent, skimming
the walls, considering the corners of the bulging matting on his
hands and knees, rummaging mantel and tables, the curtains and
hangngs, the drunken cabinet in the corner, for a visible sign,
unable to perceive that she was there beside, around, against,
within, above him, clinging to him, wooing him, calling him so
poignantly through the finer senses that even his grosser ones became
cognisant of the call. Once again he answered loudly: "Yes, dear!"
and turned, wild-eyed, to gaze on vacancy, for he could not yet
discern form and colour and love and outstretched arms in the odour
of mnignonette. Oh, God! whence that odour, and since when have
odours had a voice to call? Thus he groped.
He burrowed in crevices and corners, and found corks and cigarettes.
These he passed in passive contempt. But once he found in a fold of
the matting a half-smoked cigar, and this he ground beneath his heel
with a green and trenchant oath. He sifted the room from end to end.
He found dreary and ignoble small records of many a peripatetic
tenant; but of her whom he sought, and who may have lodged there, and
whose spirit seemed to hover there, he found no trace.
And then he thought of the housekeeper.
He ran from the haunted room downstairs and to a door that showed a
crack of light. She came out to his knock. He smothered his
excitement as best he could.
"Will you tell me, madam," he besought her, "who occupied the room I
have before I came?"
"Yes, sir. I can tell you again. 'Twas Sprowls and Mooney, as I
said. Miss B'retta Sprowls it was in the theatres, but Missis Mooney
she was. My house is well known for respectability. The marriage
certificate hung, framed, on a nail over--"
"What kind of a lady was Miss Sprowls--in looks, I mean?"
Why, black-haired, sir, short, and stout, with a comical face. They
left a week ago Tuesday."
"And before they occupied it?"
"Why, there was a single gentleman connected with the draying
business. He left owing me a week. Before him was Missis Crowder
and her two children, that stayed four months; and back of them was
old Mr. Doyle, whose sons paid for him. He kept the room six months.
That goes back a year, sir, and further I do not remember."
He thanked her and crept back to his room. The room was dead. The
essence that had vivified it was gone. The perfume of mignonette had
departed. In its place was the old, stale odour of mouldy house
furniture, of atmosphere in storage.
The ebbing of his hope drained his faith. He sat staring at the
yellow, singing gaslight. Soon he walked to the bed and began to
tear the sheets into strips. With the blade of his knife he drove
them tightly into every crevice around windows and door. When all
was snug and taut he turned out the light, turned the gas full on
again and laid himself gratefully upon the bed.
* * * * * * *
It was Mrs. McCool's night to go with the can for beer. So she
fetched it and sat with Mrs. Purdy in one of those subterranean
retreats where house-keepers foregather and the worm dieth seldom.
"I rented out my third floor, back, this evening," said Mrs. Purdy,
across a fine circle of foam. "A young man took it. He went up to
bed two hours ago."
"Now, did ye, Mrs. Purdy, ma'am?" said Mrs. McCool, with intense
admiration. "You do be a wonder for rentin' rooms of that kind. And
did ye tell him, then?" she concluded in a husky whisper, laden with
"Rooms," said Mrs. Purdy, in her furriest tones, "are furnished for
to rent. I did not tell him, Mrs. McCool."
"'Tis right ye are, ma'am; 'tis by renting rooms we kape alive. Ye
have the rale sense for business, ma'am. There be many people will
rayjict the rentin' of a room if they be tould a suicide has been
after dyin' in the bed of it."
"As you say, we has our living to be making," remarked Mrs. Purdy.
"Yis, ma'am; 'tis true. 'Tis just one wake ago this day I helped ye
lay out the third floor, back. A pretty slip of a colleen she was to
be killin' herself wid the gas--a swate little face she had, Mrs.
"She'd a-been called handsome, as you say," said Mrs. Purdy,
assenting but critical, "but for that mole she had a-growin' by her
left eyebrow. Do fill up your glass again, Mrs. McCool."
THE BRIEF DEBUT OF TILDY
If you do not know Bogle's Chop House and Family Restaurant it is
your loss. For if you are one of the fortunate ones who dine
expensively you should be interested to know how the other half
consumes provisions. And if you belong to the half to whom waiters'
checks are things of moment, you should know Bogle's, for there you
get your money's worth--in quantity, at least.
Bogle's is situated in that highway of ~bourgeoisie~, that boulevard
of Brown-Jones-and-Robinson, Eighth Avenue. There are two rows of
tables in the room, six in each row. On each table is a caster-
stand, containing cruets of condiments and seasons. From the pepper
cruet you may shake a cloud of something tasteless and melancholy,
like volcanic dust. From the salt cruet you may expect nothing.
Though a man should extract a sanguinary stream from the pallid
turnip, yet wili his prowess be balked when he comes to wrest salt
from Bogle's cruets. Also upon each table stands the counterfeit of
that benign sauce made "from the recipe of a nobleman in India."
At the cashier's desk sits Bogle, cold, sordid, slow, smouldering,
and takes your money. Behind a mountain of toothpicks he makes your
change, files your check, and ejects at you, like a toad, a word
about the weather. Beyond a corroboration of his meteorological
statement you would better not venture. You are not Bogle's friend;
you are a fed, transient customer, and you and he may not meet again
until the blowing of Gabriel's dinner horn. So take your change and
go--to the devil if you like. There you have Bogle's sentiments.
The needs of Bogle's customers were supplied by two waitresses and a
Voice. One of the waitresses was named Aileen. She was tall,
beautiful, lively, gracious and learned in persiflage. Her other
name? There was no more necessity for another name at Bogle's than
there was for finger-bowls.
The name of the other waitress was Tildy. Why do you suggest
Matilda? Please listen this time--Tildy--Tildy. Tildy was dumpy,
plain-faced, and too anxious to please to please. Repeat the last
clause to yourself once or twice, and make the acquaintance of the
The Voice at Bogle's was invisible. It came from the kitchen, and
did not shine in the way of originality. It was a heathen Voice, and
contented itself with vain repetitions of exclamations emitted by the
waitresses concerning food.
Will it tire you to be told again that Aileen was beautiful? Had she
donned a few hundred dollars' worth of clothes and joined the Easter
parade, and had you seen her, you would have hastened to say so
The customers at Bogle's were her slaves. Six tables full she could
wait upon at once. They who were in a hurry restrained their
impatience for the joy of merely gazing upon her swiftly moving,
graceful figure. They who had finished eating ate more that they
might continue in the light of her smiles. Every man there--and they
were mostly men--tried to make his impression upon her.
Aileen could successfully exchange repartee against a dozen at once.
And every smile that she sent forth lodged, like pellets from a
scatter-gun, in as many hearts. And all this while she would be
performing astounding feats with orders of pork and beans, pot
roasts, ham-and, sausage-and-the-wheats, and any quantity of things
on the iron and in the pan and straight up and on the side. With all
this feasting and flirting and merry exchange of wit Bogle's came
mighty near being a salon, with Aileen for its Madame Recamier.
If the transients were entranced by the fascinating Aileen, the
regulars were her adorers. There was much rivalry among many of the
steady customers. Aileen could have had an engagement every evening.
At least twice a week some one took her to a theatre or to a dance.
One stout gentleman whom she and Tildy had privately christened "The
Hog" presented her with a turquoise ring. Another one known as
"Fresby," who rode on the Traction Company's repair wagon, was going
to give her a poodle as soon as his brother got the hauling contract
in the Ninth. And the man who always ate spareribs and spinach and
said he was a stock broker asked her to go to "Parsifal" with him.
"I don't know where this place is," said Aileen while talking it over
with Tildy, "but the wedding-ring's got to be on before I put a
stitch into a travelling dress--ain't that right? Well, I guess!"
In steaming, chattering, cabbage-scented Bogle's there was almost a
heart tragedy. Tildy with the blunt nose, the hay-coloured hair, the
freckled skin, the bag-o'-meal figure, had never had an admirer. Not
a man followed her with his eyes when she went to and fro in the
restaurant save now and then when they glared with the beast-hunger
for food. None of them bantered her gaily to coquettish interchanges
of wit. None of them loudly "jollied" her of mornings as they did
Aileen, accusing her, when the eggs were slow in coming, of late
hours in the company of envied swains. No one had ever given her a
turquoise ring or invited her upon a voyage to mysterious, distant
Tildy was a good waitress, and the men tolerated her. They who sat
at her tables spoke to her briefly. with quotations from the bill of
fare; and then raised their voices in honeyed and otherwise-flavoured
accents, eloquently addressed to the fair Aileen. They writhed in
their chairs to gaze around and over the impending form of Tildy,
that Aileen's pulchritude might season and make ambrosia of their
bacon and eggs.
And Tildy was content to be the unwooed drudge if Aileen could
receive the flattery and the homage. The blunt nose was loyal to the
short Grecian. She was Aileen's friend; and she was glad to see her
rule hearts and wean the attention of men from smoking pot-pie and
lemon meringue. But deep below our freckles and hay-coloured hair
the unhandsomest of us dream of a prince or a princess, not
vicarious, but coming to us alone.
There was a morning when Aileen tripped in to work with a slightly
bruised eye; and Tildy's solicitude was almost enough to heal any
"Fresh guy," explained Aileen, "last night as I was going home at
Twenty-third and Sixth. Sashayed up, so he did, and made a break.
I turned him down, cold, and he made a sneak; but followed me down to
Eighteenth, and tried his hot air again. Gee! but I slapped him a
good one, side of the face. Then he give me that eye. Does it look
real awful, Til? I should hate that Mr. Nicholson should see it when
he comes in for his tea and toast at ten."
Tildy listened to the adventure with breathless admiration. No man
had ever tried to follow her. She was safe abroad at any hour of the
twenty-four. What bliss it must have been to have had a man follow
one and black one's eye for love!
Among the customers at Bogle's was a young man named Seeders, who
worked in a laundry office. Mr. Seeders was thin and had light hair,
and appeared to have been recently rough-dried and starched. He was
too diffident to aspire to Aileen's notice; so he usually sat at one
of Tildy's tables, where he devoted himself to silence and boiled
One day when Mr. Seeders came in to dinner he had been drinking beer.
There were only two or three customers in the restaurant. When Mr.
Seeders had finished his weakfish he got up, put his arm around
Tildy's waist, kissed her loudly and impudently, walked out upon the