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The Rise of David Levinsky by Abraham Cahan

Part 10 out of 11

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seen in the library were his work. He had a pale, high forehead and
a thick, upright grove of very soft, brown hair which I pictured as
billowing in a breeze like a field of rye. "Just the kind of son for a
poet to have," I thought

There was another son, Moissey. He was married and I did not see
him that evening. His mother was continually referring to him

"I can see that you miss him," I said

"I should say so," Anna broke in. "He's her pet."

"Don't mind what she says, Mr. Levinsky," her mother exhorted
me. "She just loves to tease me."

"Mother is right," Elsie interposed. "Moissey is not her pet. lf
somebody is, it's I, isn't it, ma?"

Anna smiled good-naturedly

"Gracie is my pet," Mrs. Tevkin rejoined

"Gracie and Moissey, both," Tevkin amended. "Moissey is her
first-born, don't you know. But the great point is that he has been
married only three months, and she has not yet got used to having
him live somewhere else. She feels as if somebody had snatched
him from her. When a day passes without her seeing him she is

"Not at all," Mrs. Tevkin demurred. "I am thinking of him just now
because--because--well, because we have all been introduced to
Mr. Levinsky except him!"

"If two or three of the family were missing it wouldn't be so
marked," Tevkin supported her, chivalrously. "But only one is
missing, only one. That somehow makes you think of him. I feel
the same way."

As he spoke it seemed to me that in his home atmosphere he bore
himself with more self-confidence and repose than at the café or
at his office. His hospitality had made him ill at ease at first, but
that had worn off

"You can depend on father to find some defense for mother,"
remarked the picturesque Emil

At her husband's suggestion and after some urging the hostess led
the way back to the parlor, or library, where she was to play us
something. As we were passing out of the dining-room and up the
stairs Tevkin seized the opportunity to say to me: "We live on the
communistic principle, as you see. Each of us, except Mrs.

Tevkin and the little one contributes his earnings or part of them to
the general treasury, my wife acting as treasurer and manager.
Still, in the near future I hope to be able to turn the commune into
a family of the good old type. My affairs are making headway,
thank God. I sha'n't need my children's contributions much

Mrs. Tevkin played some classical pieces. She had a pleasing tone
and apparently felt at home at the keyboard, but it was to my eye
rather than to my ear that her playing appealed. A white-haired
Jewish woman at a piano was something which, in Antomir, had
been associated in my mind with the life of the highest aristocracy
exclusively. But then Mrs. Tevkin's father had been a physician,
and Jewish physicians belonged, in the conception of my
childhood and youth, to the highest social level. Another mark of
her noble birth, according to my Antomir ideas, was the fact that
she often addressed her husband and her older children, not in
Yiddish or English, but in Russian. Compared to her, Matilda's
mother was a plebeian

The only other person in the family who played the piano with
facility and confidence was Emil.

I had never been in a house of this kind in my life. I was fascinated
beyond expression

Anna's constraint soon wore off and she treated me with charming
hospitality. So did Elsie. There was absolutely no difference in
their manner toward me. Elsie gave me the attention which a girl
usually accords to a close friend of her father's, and this was also
the sort of attention I received from her older sister. It was as if
the Catskill episode had never taken place and she were now
seeing me for the first time

I met Moissey and his wife at my next visit. He was a man of
thirty-two or more, tall, wiry, nervous, with large, protruding, dark
eyes. He was "a dentist by profession and a Russian social
democrat by religion," as his father introduced him to me

"Karl Marx is his god and Pleenanoff, the Russian socialist leader,
is his Moses," the old man added

Moissey's wife looked strikingly Semitic. She seemed to have just
stepped out of the Old Testament. She had been only about a year
in the country, and the only language she could speak was
Russian, which she enunciated without a trace of a Jewish accent
or intonation. She scarcely understood Yiddish.

All this was uncannily at variance with her Biblical face. It seemed
incredable that her speech and outward appearance should belong
to the same person. To add to the discrepancy, she was smoking
cigarette after cigarette, a performance certainly not in keeping
with one's notion of a Jewish woman of the old type

The oldest two sons, Moissey and Sasha, spoke English with a
Russian accent from which the English of all the other children
was absolutely free. Mrs.

Tevkin's Russian sounded more Russian than her husband's. Emil,
Elsie, and Gracie did not speak Russian at all

Barring Mrs. Tevkin, each adult in the family worshiped at the
shrine of some "ism." Anna professed Israel Zangwill's modified
Zionism or Territorialism. This, however, was merely a platonic
interest with her. It took up little or none of her time. Her real
passion was Minority, a struggling little magazine of "modernistic
literature and thought." It was published by a group of radicals of
which she was a member. Elsie, on the other hand, who was a
socialist, was an ardent member of the Socialist party and of the
Socialist Press Club. Politically the two sisters were supposed to
be irreconcilable opponents, yet Anna often worked in the interests
of Elsie's party. Indeed, the more I knew them the clearer it
became to me that the older sister was under the influence of the

The two girls and their brothers had many visitors--socialist and
anarchist writers, poets, critics, artists. These were of both sexes
and some of them were Gentiles. Two of the most frequent callers
were Miss Siegel and the sallow-faced, homely man who had
danced with Anna at the Rigi Kulm pavilion.

He was an instructor in an art school From his talks with Emil and
Anna I learned of a whole world whose existence I had never even
suspected--the world of East Side art students, of the gifted boys
among them, some of whom had gone to study in Paris, of their
struggles, prospects, jealousies. I was introduced to several of
these people, but I never came into sympathetic touch with them. I
was ever conscious, never my real self in their midst.

Perhaps it was because they did not like me; perhaps it was
because I failed to appreciate a certain something that was the key
note to their mental attitude. However that may have been, I
always felt wretched in their company, and my attempts at saying
something out of the common usually missed fire

Was Anna interested in any of the young men who came to the
house? I was inclined to think that she was not, but I was not sure

Among Elsie's closest friends or "comrades" was an American
millionaire--a member of one of the best-known families in New
York--and his wife, who was a Jewess, of whom I had read in the
papers. I never saw them at the Tevkins', but I knew that they
occasionally called on the school-teacher and that she saw a good
deal of them at their house and at various meetings, a fact the
discovery of which produced a disheartening impression on me. It
was as though the sole advantage I enjoyed over Anna--the
possession of money--suddenly had been wiped out

I sometimes wondered whether at the bottom of her heart Elsie did
not feel elated by her close relations with that couple. That she
herself was a stranger to all money interests there could be no
doubt, however. And this was true of Anna and the other children.
Elsie and Moissey were the strongest individualities in the family.
Theirs were truly religious natures, and socialism was their
religion in the purest sense of the term.

Elsie scarcely had any other great interest in life. Her socialism
amused me, but her devotion to it inspired me with reverence. As
for Moissey, good literature, as the term is understood in Russia,
was nearly as much of a passion with him as Marxian socialism.
His fervent talks of what he considered good fiction and his
ferocious assaults upon what he termed "candy stories" were very
impressive, though I did not always understand what he was
talking about. Sometimes he would pick a quarrel with Anna over
Minority and her literary hobbies generally. Once he brought her to
tears by his attacks. I could not see why people should quarrel
over mere stories. I thought Moissey crazy, but I must confess that
his views on literature were not without influence upon my tastes.
I did not do much reading in these days, so I may not have become
aware of it at once. But at a later period, when I did do much
reading, Moissey's opinions came back to me and I seemed to find
myself in accord with them

To return to my visits at the Tevkins'. I told myself again and again
that their world was not mine, that there was no hope for me, and
that there was nothing for it but to discontinue my calls, but I had
not the strength to do so. I never went away from this house
otherwise than dejected and forlorn

Tevkin was charming in the fervent, yet tactful, hospitality with
which he endeavored to assuage the bitterness of my visits. He
seemed to say, "I see everything, my dear friend, and my heart
goes out to you, but how can I help you?"

His wife tried to be diplomatic

"American young people imagine they own the earth," she once
said to me, with a knowing glint in her beautiful eyes. "Some day
they'll find out their mistake."

The hot months set in. The family nominally moved to Rockaway
Beach for the season and my visits were suspended. Nominally,
because Elsie and the boys and old Tevkin himself slept in the
Harlem house more often than in their summer home. Elsie was
wrapped up in the socialist campaign, which kept her busy every
night from the middle of July to Election Day. She practically had
no vacation. Anna made arrangements to spend her brief vacation
with some of her literary friends who had a camp in Maine, but
while she was in the city she came home to her mother and Gracie
almost every evening. As for her father, whom I saw several times
during that summer, he often sat up far into the night in Malbin's
or some other restaurant, talking "parcels." He had become so
absorbed in his real-estate speculations that he was rarely seen at
Yampolsky's café these days. One evening, when he was dining
with me at the private hotel in which I lived, and we were
discussing his ventures, he said: "Do you know, my friend, I have
made more than twelve thousand dollars?"

He tried to say it in a matter-of-fact, business-like way, but his face
melted into an expression of joy before he finished the sentence.

"I tell it to you because I know that you are a real friend and that
you will be sincerely glad to hear it," he went on

"I certainly am. I'm awfully glad," I rejoined, fervently

"I expect to make more. No more chipping in by the children!
Anna shall give up her typewriting and Elsie her teaching. Yes,
things are coming my way at last."

"Still, if I were you, I should go slow. The real-estate market is an
uncertain thing, after all."

"Of course it is," he answered, mechanically

Since I bought that Brooklyn parcel and refused to go into further
real-estate operations he had never approached me with business
schemes again. There was not the slightest alloy of self-interest in
his friendship, and he was careful not to have it appear that there
was. He never initiated me into the details of his speculations, lest
I should offer him a loan. He was quite squeamish about it

One day I offered him a hundred-dollar check for The Pen, the
Hebrew weekly with which he was connected and upon which I
knew him to spend more than he could afford

"I don't want it," he said, reddening and shaking his head

"Why?" I asked, also reddening

I was sorely hurt and he noticed it

"I know that you do it whole-heartedly," he hastened to explain,
"but I don't want to feel that you do it for my sake."

"But I don't do it for your sake. I just want to help the paper. Can't
I--" He interrupted me with assurances of his regard for me and
for my motives, and accepted the check.

Was he dreaming of Anna ultimately agreeing to marry me--and
my money? He certainly considered me a most desirable match.
But I felt sure that he was fond of me on my personal account and
that he would have liked to have me for his son-in-law even if my
income had not exceeded three or four thousand dollars a year. He
did not share the radical views of his children. He was much
nearer to my point of view than they

CHAPTER V IT was December. There was an air of prosperity in
Tevkin's house, but the girls would not give up their jobs. I was a
frequent caller again. I was burning to take Anna, Elsie, and their
parents to the theater, but was afraid the two girls would spurn the

One day I was agreeably surprised by Elsie asking me to buy some
tickets for a socialist ball. They were fifty cents apiece

"How many do you want me to take?" I asked

"As many as you can afford," she answered, roguishly

"Will you sell me twenty-five dollars' worth?"

"Oh, that would be lovely!" she said, in high glee

When I handed her the money I was on the brink of asking if it
might not be rejected as "tainted," but suppressed the pleasantry

For me to attend a socialist ball would have meant to face a crowd
of union men. It was out of the question. But the twenty-five
dollars somehow brought me nearer to Elsie, and that meant to
Anna also. I began to feel more at home in their company. Elsie
was as dear as a sister to me. I went so far as to venture to invite
them and their parents to the opera, and my invitation was
accepted. I was still merely "a friend of father's," something like an
uncle, but I saw a ray of hope now

"Suppose a commonplace business man like myself offered you a
check for Minority," I once said to Anna.

"A check for Minority?" she echoed, with joyful surprise. "Well, it
would be accepted with thanks, of course, but you would first
have to withdraw the libel 'the commonplace business man.'
Another condition is that you must promise to read the magazine."
As I was making out the check I told her that I had read some
issues of it and that I "solemnly swore" to read it regularly now.
That I had found it an unqualified bore I omitted to announce.
Shortly after that opera night Tevkin provided a box at one of the
Jewish theaters for a play by Jacob Gordin

I was quite chummy with the girls. They would jokingly call me

Capitalist" and, despite their father's protests, "bleed" me for all
sorts of contributions. One of these came near embroiling me with
Moissey. It was for a revolutionary leader, a Jew, who had
recently escaped from a Siberian prison in a barrel of cabbage and
whose arrival in New York (by way of Japan and San Francisco)
had been the great sensation of the year among the socialists of
the East Side. The new-comer was the founder of a party of
terrorists and had organized a plot which had resulted in the killing
of an uncle of the Czar and of a prime minister. Now, Moissey, in
his rabid, uncompromising way, sympathized with another party
of Russian revolutionists, with one that was bitterly opposed to
the theories and methods of the terrorists. So when he learned that
Anna was collecting funds for the man who had been smuggled
out of jail in a barrel, and that I had given her a check for him, he
flared up and called her "busybody."

"You had better mind your own affairs, Moissey," she retorted,

She essayed to defend her position, contending that the methods of
the Russian Government rendered terrorism not only justifiable,
but inevitable

"The question is not whether it is justifiable, but whether there is
any sense to it," Moissey replied, sneeringly. "Revolutions are not
made by plotting or bomb-throwing. They must take the form of
an uprising by the masses."

"As if the Russian terrorists did not have the masses back of them!
The peasantry and the educated classes are with them."

"How do you know they are?" Moissey asked, with a good-natured,
but patronizing, smile

He spoke of the Russian working class as the great element that
was destined to work out the political and economic salvation of
the country, and at this he tactlessly dwelt on the Russian
trade-unions, on what he termed their revolutionary strikes, and
upon the aid Russian capitalists gave the Government in its
crusade upon the struggle for liberty

I felt quite awkward. I wondered whether he was not saying these
things designedly to punish me for the check I had given Anna for
the terrorists.

He had always seemed to hold aloof from me, as if he were
opposed to the visits of the "money-bag" that I was at his father's
house. At this minute I felt as though his eyes said, "The idea of
this fleecer of labor contributing to the struggle for liberty!"

I was burning to tell him that he lacked manners, and to assail
trade-unionism, but I restrained myself, of course

Sometimes the girls and I would discuss the social question or
literature, subjects upon which they assured me that I held
"naïve" views. But all my efforts to get Anna into a more intimate
conversation failed. For all our familiarity, it seemed as if we held
our conversations through a thick window-pane. Nevertheless, in
a very vague way, and for no particular reason that I was aware of,
I thought that I sensed encouragement

Tevkin never again approached me with his real-estate ventures,
but the very air of his house these days was full of such ventures. I
met other real-estate men at his home. Their talk was tempting.
my enormous income notwithstanding. Huge fortunes seemed to
be growing like mushrooms all over the five Ghettos of New York
and Brooklyn. I saw men who three years ago had not been worth
a cent and who were now buying and selling blocks of property.
How much they were actually worth was a question which in the
excitement of the "boom" did not seem to matter. It is never a rare
incident among our people for a man with a nebulous fortune of a
few hundred dollars to plunge into a commercial undertaking
involving many thousands; but during that period this was an
every-day affair. At first I treated it like something that was going
on in another country. But I had a good deal of uninvested money
and my resistance was slackening.

At last I succumbed

One of the men I met at Tevkin's was Volodsky, the old-time street
peddler, the man of the beautiful teeth whose push-cart had
adjoined mine in those gloomy days when I tried to sell goods in
the streets, and who had told me of the dower-money which his
sister had lent him for his journey to America.

I had not seen him since then--an interval of over twenty
years--and we recognized each other with some difficulty

The real-estate boom had found him eking out a wretched
livelihood by selling goods on the instalment plan. Most of his
business had been in the Italian quarter and he had learned to
speak Italian far more fluently than he had English. A short time
before I stumbled upon him at the Tevkins' he had built an
enormous block of high, brick apartment-houses in Harlem. He
had gone into the undertaking with only five thousand dollars of
his own, and before the houses were half completed he had sold
them all, pocketing an enormous profit. When we were peddlers
together he had been considered a failure and a fool. He now
struck me as a clever fellow, full of dash.

Nor did Volodsky represent the only metamorphosis of this kind
that I came across. It was as though there were something in the
atmosphere which turned paupers into capitalists and inane
milksops into men of brains and pluck.

Volodsky succeeded in luring me into a network of speculations

Tevkin had an interest in some of these operations, and, as they
were mostly concerned with property in Harlem or in the Bronx,
his house became my real-estate headquarters. There were two
classes of callers at his home now: the socialists and the literary
men or artists who visited Tevkin's children and the "real-estate
crowd" who came to see Tevkin himself. It came to be tacitly
understood that the library was to be left to the former, while the
dining-room, in the basement, was used as Tevkin's office. Being
"a friend of the family," I had the freedom of both

"You're making a big mistake, Levinsky," Nodelman once said to
me, with a gesture of deep concern. "What is biting you? Aren't
you making money fast enough? Mark my word, if you try to
swallow too fast you'll choke. Any doctor will tell you that."

I urged him to join me, but he would not hear of it. Instead, he
exhorted me to sell out my holdings and give all my attention to
my cloak business

"Take pity on your hard-earned pennies, Levinsky," he would say.
"Else you'll wake up some day like the fellow who has dreamed he
has found a treasure. He's holding on to the treasure tight, and
when he opens his eyes he finds it's nothing but a handful of
wind." "I'll tell you what, Levinsky," he began on one occasion.
"You ought to see some of those magician fellows."

"What for?" I asked

"Did you ever see them at their game? They'll put an egg into a
hat; say, 'One, two, three,' and pull out a chicken. And then they
say, 'One, two, three,' again and there's neither a chicken nor an
egg. That's the way all this real-estate racket will end. Mark my
word, Levinsky."

Bender nagged and pleaded with me without let-up. If I had had
the remotest doubt of his devotion to me it would have been
dispelled now. I was at my great mahogany desk every morning,
as usual, but I seldom stayed more than two hours, and even
during those two hours my mind was divided between cloaks and
real estate or between cloaks and Anna. Bender was practically in
full charge of the business. Instead, however, of welcoming the
power it gave him, he made unrelenting efforts to restore things to
their former state. He was constantly haranguing me on the risks I
was incurring, beseeching me to drop my new ventures, and
threatening to leave me unless I did so. Once, as he was thus
expostulating with me, he broke down

"I appeal to you as your friend, as your old-time teacher," he said,
and burst into tears

If it had not been for him I should have neglected my cloak
business beyond repair. He handled me as a gambler's wife does
her husband. He would seek me out in front of some unfinished
building, at Tevkin's, or at some "boom" café, and make me sign
some checks, consult me on something or other, or wheedle me
into accompanying him to my factory for an hour or two. But the
next day he would have to go hunting for me again

I had invested considerable money in my new affairs, and releasing
it at short notice would not have been an easy matter. But the
great point was that I was literally intoxicated by my new
interests, and the fact that they were intimately associated with the
atmosphere of Anna's home had much--perhaps everything--to do
with it

I loved her to insanity. She was the supreme desire of my being. I
knew that she was weaker in character and mind than Elsie, for
example, but that seemed to be a point in her favor rather than
against her. "She is a good girl," I would muse, "mild, kindly,
girlish. As for her 'radical' notions, they really don't matter much. I
could easily knock them out of her. I should be happy with her.
Oh, how happy!" And, in spite of the fact that I thought her weak,
the sight of her would fill me with awe.

One's first love is said to be the most passionate love of which one
is capable. I do not think it is. I think my feeling for Anna was
stronger, deeper, more tender, and more overpowering than either
of my previous two infatuations. But then, of course, there is no
way of measuring and comparing things of this kind. Anna was
the first virgin I had ever loved.

Was that responsible for the particular depth of my feeling? "Oh, I
must have her or I'll fall to pieces," I would say to myself,
yearning and groaning and whining like a lunatic

My gambling mania was really the aberration of a love-maddened
brain. How could Bender or Nodelman understand it? I found
myself in the midst of other lunatics, of men who had simply been
knocked out of balance by the suddenness of their gains. My
money had come slowly and through work and worry. Theirs had
dropped from the sky. So they could scarcely believe their senses
that it was not all a dream. They were hysterical with gleeful
amazement; they were in a delirium of ecstasy over themselves;
and at the same time they looked as though they were tempted to
feel their own faces and hands to make sure that they were real

One evening I saw a man whose family was still living on fifteen
dollars a week lose more than six hundred dollars in poker and
then take a group of congenial spirits out for a spree that cost him
a few hundred dollars more.

One man in this party, who was said to be worth three-quarters of a
million, had only recently worked as a common brick-layer. He is
fixed in my memory by his struggles to live up to his new
position, more especially by the efforts he would make to break
himself of certain habits of speech. He always seemed to be on his
guard lest some coarse word or phrase should escape him, and
when a foul expression eluded his vigilance he would give a start,
as if he had broken something. There was often a wistful look in
his eye, as if he wondered whether his wealth and new mode of
living were not merely a cruel practical joke. Or was he yearning
for the simpler and more natural life which he had led until two
years ago? We had many an expensive meal together, and often,
as he ate, he would say: "Oh, it's all nonsense, Mr. Levinsky. All
this fussy stuff does not come up to one spoon of my wife's
cabbage soup."

Once he said: "Do you really like champagne? I don't. You may
say I am a common, ignorant fellow, but to me it doesn't come up
to the bread cider mother used to make. Honest." And he gave a

I knew a man who bought a thousand-dollar fur coat and a
full-dress suit before he had learned to use a handkerchief. He
always had one in his pocket, but he would handle it gingerly, as
if he had not the heart to soil it, and then he would carefully fold it
again. The effect money had on this man was of quite another
nature than it was in the case of the bricklayer.

It had made him boisterously arrogant, blusteringly disdainful of
his intellectual superiors, and brazenly foul-mouthed. It was as
though he was shouting: "I don't have to fear or respect anybody
now! I have got a lot of money. I can do as I damn please." More
than one pure man became dissolute in the riot of easily gotten
wealth. A real-estate speculator once hinted to me, in a fit of
drunken confidence, that his wife, hitherto a good woman and a
simple home body, had gone astray through the new vistas of life
that had suddenly been flung open to her. One fellow who was
naturally truthful was rapidly becoming a liar through the practice
of exaggerating his profits and expenditures. There was an
abundance of side-splitting comedy in the things I saw about me,
but there was no dearth of pathos, either. One day, as I entered a
certain high-class restaurant on Broadway, I saw at one of the
tables a man who looked strikingly familiar to me, but whom I was
at first unable to locate. Presently I recognized him. Three or four
years before he had peddled apples among the employees of my
cloak-shop. He had then been literally in tatters. That was why I
was now slow to connect his former image with his present
surroundings. I had heard of his windfall. He had had a job as
watchman at houses in process of construction. While there he had
noticed things, overheard conversations, put two and two together,
and finally made fifty thousand dollars in a few months as a
real-estate broker

We were furtively eying each other. Finally our eyes met. He
greeted me with a respectful nod and then his face broke into a
good-humored smile. He moved over to my table and told me his
story in detail. He spoke in brief, pithy sentences, revealing a
remarkable understanding of the world. In conclusion he said,
with a sigh: "But what is the good of it all? The Upper One has
blessed me with one hand, but He has punished me with the

It appeared that his wife had died, in Austria, just when she was
about to come to join him and he was preparing to surprise her
with what, to her, would have been a palatial apartment

"For six years I tried to bring her over, but could not manage it," he
said, simply. "I barely made enough to feed one mouth. When
good luck came at last, she died. She was a good woman, but I
never gave her a day's happiness. For eighteen years she shared
my poverty. And now, that there is something better to share, she
is gone."

CHAPTER VI ONE of the many Jewish immigrants who were
drawn into the whirl of real-estate speculation was Max Margolis,
Dora's husband. I had heard his name in connection with some
deals, and one afternoon in February we found ourselves side by
side in a crowd of other "boomers." The scene was the corner of
Fifth Avenue and One Hundred and Sixteenth Street, two blocks
from Tevkin's residence, a spot that usually swarmed with
Yiddish-speaking real-estate speculators in those days. It was a
gesticulating, jabbering, whispering, excited throng, resembling
the crowd of curb-brokers on Broad Street. Hence the nickname
"The Curb" by which that corner was getting to be known

I was talking to Tevkin when somebody slapped me on the back

"Hello, Levinsky! Hello!"


His face had the florid hue of worn, nervous, middle age. "I heard
you were buying. Is it true? Well, how goes it, great man?"

"How have you been?"

"Can't kick. Of course, compared to a big fellow like David
Levinsky, I am a fly."

I excused myself to Tevkin and took Margolis to the quieter side of
the Avenue

"Glad to see you, upon my word," he said. "Well, let bygones by

It's about time we forgot it all."

"There is nothing to forget."


"Honest! Is that idiotic notion still sticking in your brain?"

"Why, no. Not at all. May I not live till to-morrow if it does. You
are not angry at me, are you? Come, now, say that you are not."

I smiled and shrugged my shoulders

"Well, shake hands, then."

We did and he offered to sell me a "parcel." As I did not care for it,
he went on to talk of the real-estate market in general. There was
a restaurant on that side of the block--The Curb Café we used to
call it--so we went in, ordered something, and he continued to
talk. He was plainly striving to sound me, in the hope of "hanging
on" to some of my deals. Of a sudden he said: "Say, you must
think I'm still jealous? May I not live till to-morrow if I am." And
to prove that he was not he added: "Come, Levinsky, come up to
the house and let's be friends again, as we used to be. I have
always wished you well." He gave me his address. "Will you

"Some day."

"You aren't still angry at Dora, are you?"

"Why, no. But then she may be still angry at me," I said,

"Nonsense. Perhaps it is beneath your dignity to call on small
people like us? Come, forget that you are a great capitalist and let
us all spend an evening together as we used to." Was he ready to
suppress his jealousy for the prospect of getting under my
financial wing? The answer to this question came to me through a
most unexpected channel

The next morning, when I came to my Fifth Avenue office (it was
some eighty blocks--about four miles--downtown from "The
Curb" section of Fifth Avenue), I found Dora waiting for me. I
recognized her the moment I entered the waiting-room on my
office floor. Her hair was almost white and she had grown rather
fleshy, but her face had not changed. She wore a large, becoming
hat and was quite neatly dressed generally

The blood surged to my face. Her presence was a bewildering
surprise to me

There were three other people in the room and I had to be on my

"How are you?" I said, rushing over to her

She stood up and we shook hands. I took her into my private office
through my private corridor.

"Dora! Well, well!" I murmured in a delirium of embarrassment

"I have come to tell you not to mind Margolis and not to call at the
house," she said, gravely, looking me full in the face. "It would be
awful if you did. He is out of his mind. He is--"

"Wait a minute, Dora," I interrupted her. "There'll be plenty of
time to talk of that. First tell me something about yourself. How
have you been? How are the children?" She was like an old song
that had once held me under its sway, but which now appealed to
me as a memory only. I was conscious of my consuming passion
for Anna. Dora interested and annoyed me at once

I treated her as a dear old friend. She, however, persisted in
wearing a mask of politeness, as if she had come strictly on
business arid there had never been any other relations between us

"Everybody is all right, thank you," she answered

"Is Lucy married?"

"Oh, she has a beautiful little girl of two years. But I do want to
tell you about Margolis. The man is simply crazy, and I want to
warn you not to take him seriously. Above all, don't let him take
you up to the house. Not for anything in the world. That's what
brings me here this morning."

"Why? What's the trouble?"

"Oh, it would take too long to tell," she answered. "And it isn't
important, either. The main thing is that you should not let him
get into business relations with you, or into any other kind of
relations, for that matter."

Her English was a striking improvement upon what it had been
sixteen years before. As we continued to talk it became evident to
me that she was a well-read, well-informed woman. I made some
efforts to break her reserve, but they failed. Nor, indeed, was I
over-anxious to have them succeed. She did speak of her
husband's jealousy, however (though she dropped her glance and
slurred over the word as she did so); and from what she said, as
well as by reading between the lines of her statement, I gathered a
fairly clear picture of the situation. Echoes of Max's old jealousy
would still make themselves felt in his domestic life. A clash, an
irritation, would sometimes bring my name to his lips. He still,
sometimes, tortured her with questions concerning our relations

"I never answer these questions of his," she said, her eyes on my
office rug. "Not a word. I just let him talk. But sometimes I feel
like putting an end to my life," she concluded, with a smile

I listened with expressions of surprise and sympathy and with a
feeling of compunction. A thought was sluggishly trailing through
my mind: "Does she still care for me?"

Margolis had built up some sort of auction business, but his
real-estate mania had ruined it and eaten up all he had except
three thousand dollars, which Dora had contrived to save from the
wreck. With this she had bought a cigar-and-stationery store on
Washington Heights by means of which she now supported the
family. He spent his days and evenings hanging around real-estate
haunts as a penniless drunkard does around liquor-shops. He was
always importuning Dora for "a couple of hundred dollars" for a
"sure thing." This was often the cause of an altercation. Quarrels
had, in fact, never been such a frequent occurrence in the house as
they had been since he lost his money in real estate, and one of his
favorite thrusts in the course of these brawls was to allude to me

"If Levinsky asked you for money you would not refuse him,
would you?" he would taunt her

Now, that he had met me at "The Curb," he had taken it into his
head that his jealousy had worn off long since and that he had the
best of feelings for me. His heart was set upon regaining my
friendship. He had spoken to her of our meeting as a "predestined
thing" that was to result in my "letting him in" on some of my
deals. Dora, however, felt sure that a renewal of our acquaintance
would only rekindle the worst forms of his jealousy and make life
impossible to her. She dreaded to imagine it

We spoke of Lucy again. It was so stirring to think of her as a
mother. Dora told me that Lucy's husband was in the jewelry
business and quite well-to-do

She rose to go. I escorted her, continuing to question her about
Lucy, Dannie, her husband. It would have been natural for me to
take her out by way of my private little corridor, but I preferred to
pilot her through my luxurious show-rooms. We found two
customers there to whom some of my office men and a designer
were showing our "line." I greeted the customers, and, turning to
Dora again, I asked her to finish an interrupted remark. We
paused by one of the windows. What she was saying about Lucy
was beginning to puzzle me. She did not seem to be pleased with
her daughter's marriage

"She has three servants and a machine," she said, with a peculiar

"She wanted it and she got what she wanted."

"Why?" I said, perplexed

"Everything is all right," she answered, with another smile

We spoke in an undertone, so that nobody could overhear us. The
fact, however, that we were no longer alone had the effect of
relieving our constraint. Dora unbent somewhat. A certain note of
intimacy that had been lacking in our talk while we were by
ourselves stole into it now that we were in the presence of other

In the course of our love-affair she had often spoken to me of her
determination not to let Lucy repeat her mistake, not to let her
marry otherwise than a man she loved. We were both thinking of
it at this minute, and it seemed to be tacitly understood between
us that we were

At last I ventured to ask: "What's the trouble, Dora: Tell me all
about it.

It interests me very much."

"I don't know whether there's anything to tell," she answered,
coloring slightly. "She says she cares for her husband, and they
really get along very well. He certainly worships her. Why
shouldn't he? She is so beautiful--a regular flower--and he is old
enough to be her father."

"You don't say!" I ejaculated, with genuine distress

"She is satisfied."

"Are you?"

"As if it mattered whether I was or not. I had other ideas about her
happiness, but I am only a mother and was not even born in this
country. So what does my opinion amount to? I begged her not to
break my heart, but she would have her automobile."

"Perhaps she does love him."

She shook her head ruefully. "She was quite frank about it. She
called it being practical. She thought my idea weren't American,
that I was a dreamer.

She talked that way ever since she was eighteen, in fact. 'I don't
care if I marry a man with white hair, provided he can make a nice
living for me,' she used to say. I thought it would drive me mad.
And the girls she went with had the same ideas. When they got
together it would be, 'This girl married a fellow who's worth a
hundred thousand,' and, 'That girl goes with a fellow who's worth
half a million.' If that's what they learn at college, what's the use
going to college?"

"It's prosperity ideas," I suggested. "It's a temporary craze."

"I don't care what it is. A girl should be a girl. She ought to think
of love, of real happiness." (Her glance seemed to be the least bit
unsteady.) "But I ain't 'practical,' don't you know. Exactly what my
mother--peace upon her [this in Hebrew]--used to say. She, too,
did not think it was necessary to be in love with the man you
marry. But then she did not go to college, not even to school. Of
what good is education, then?"

It was evident that she spoke from an overflowing heart, and that
she could speak for hours on the subject. But she cut herself short
and took another tack

"You must not think her husband is a kike, though," she said. "He
is no fool and he writes a pretty good English letter. And he is a
very nice man."

She started to go

"Tell me some more about Dannie," I said, on our way to the

"He's going to college. Always first or second in his class. And one
of the best men on the football team, too." She smiled, the first
radiant smile I had seen on her that morning

"He's all right," she continued. And in Yiddish, "He is my only
consolation." And again in English, "If it wasn't for him life
wouldn't be worth living. Good-by," she said, as we paused in
front of the elevator door. "Don't forget what I told you." She was
ill at ease again

The elevator came down from the upper floors. We shook hands
and she entered it. It sank out of sight. I stood still for a second
and then returned to my private office with a sense of relief and
sadness. My heart was full of love for Anna

CHAPTER VII IN a vague, timid way I had been planning to
propose to Anna all along. My meeting with Dora gave these
plans shape. Her unexpected visit revived in my mind the whole
history of my acquaintance with her. I said to myself: "It was
through tenacity and persistence that I won her. It was persistence,
too, that gave me success in business. Anna is a meek,
good-natured girl.

She has far less backbone than Dora. I can win her, and I will." It
seemed so convincing. It was like a discovery. It aroused the
fighting blood in my veins. I was throbbing with love and
determination. I was priming myself for a formal proposal. I
expected to take her by storm. I was only waiting for an
opportunity. In case she said no, I was prepared for a long and
vigorous campaign. "I won't give her up. She shall be mine,
whether she wants it or not," I said to myself again and again.
These soliloquies would go on in my mind at all hours and in all
kinds of circumstances--while I was pushing my way through a
crowded street-car, while I was listening to some of Bender's
scoldings, while I was parleying with some real-estate man over a
piece of property. They often made me so absent-minded that I
would pace the floor of my hotel room, for instance, with one foot
socked and the other bare, and then distressedly search for the
other sock, which was in my hand. One morning as I sat at my
mahogany desk in my office, with the telephone receiver to my
ear, waiting to be connected with a banker, I said to myself:
"Women like a man with a strong will. My very persistence will
fascinate her." And this, too, seemed like a discovery to me. The
banker answered my call. It was an important matter, yet all the
while I spoke or listened to him I was conscious of having hit
upon an invincible argument in support of my hope that Anna
would be mine

At last I thought I saw my opportunity. It was an evening in April.

According to the Jewish calendar it was the first Passover night,
when Israel's liberation from the bondage of Egypt is
commemorated by a feast and family reunion which form the
greatest event in the domestic life of our people

Two years before, when I was engaged to Fanny, I deeply regretted
not being able to spend the great evening at her father's table. This
time I was an invited guest at the Tevkins'. They were not a
religious family by any means. Tevkin had been a free-thinker
since his early manhood, and his wife, the daughter of the Jewish
Ingersoll, had been born and bred in an atmosphere of aggressive
atheism. And so religious faith never had been known in their
house. Of late years, however--that is, since Tevkin had espoused
the cause of Zionism or nationalism--he had insisted on the
Passover feast every year. He contended that to him it was not a
religious ceremony, but merely a "national custom," but about this
his children were beginning to have their doubts. It seemed to
them that the older their father grew the less sure he was of his
free thought. They suspected that he was getting timid about it,
fearful of the hereafter. As a rule, they saw only the humorous
side of the change that was apparently coming over him, but
sometimes they would awaken to the pathos of it

As we all sat in the library, waiting to be called to the great feast,
he delivered himself of a witticism at the expense of the
prospective ceremony

"You needn't take his atheism seriously, Mr. Levinsky," said Anna,
the sound of my name on her lips sending a thrill of delight
through me. "'Way down at the bottom of his heart father is
getting to be really religious, I'm afraid." And, as though taking
pity on him, she crossed over to where he sat and nestled up to
him in a manner that put a choking sensation into my throat and
filled me with an impulse to embrace them both

At last the signal was given and we filed down into the
dining-room. A long table, flanked by two rows of chairs, with a
sofa, instead of the usual arm-chair, at its head, was set with
bottles of wine, bottles of mead, wine-glasses, and little piles of
matzos (thin, fiat cakes of unleavened bread). The sofa was
cushioned with two huge Russian pillows, inclosed in fresh white
cases, for the master of the house to lean on, in commemoration
of the freedom and ease which came to the Children of Israel upon
their deliverance from Egypt. Placed on three covered matzos,
within easy reach of the master, were a shank bone, an egg, some
horseradish, salt water, and a mush made of nuts and wine. These
were symbols, the shank bone being a memorial of the pascal
lamb, and the egg of the other sacrifices brought during the
festival in ancient times, while the horseradish and the salt water
represented the bitter work that the Sons of Israel had to do for
Pharaoh, and the mush the lime and mortar from which they made
brick for him. A small book lay in front of each seat. That was the
Story of the Deliverance, in the ancient Hebrew text, accompanied
by an English translation

Moissey, the uncompromising atheist and Internationalist, was
demonstratively absent, much to the distress of his mother and
resentment of his father. His Biblical-looking wife was at the
table. So were Elsie and Emil. They were as uncompromising in
their atheism as Moissey, but they had consented to attend the
quaint supper to please their parents. As to Anna, Sasha, and
George, each of them had his or her socialism "diluted" with some
species of nationalism, so they were here as a matter of principle,
their theory being that the Passover feast was one of the things
that emphasized the unity of the Jews of all countries. But even
they, and even Tevkin himself, treated it all partly as a joke. In the
case of the poet, however, it was quite obvious that his levity was
pretended. For all his jesting and frivolity, he looked nervous. I
could almost see the memories of his childhood days which the
scene evoked in his mind. I could feel the solemnity that swelled
his heart. It appeared that this time he had decided to add to the
ceremony certain features which he had foregone on the previous
few Passover festivals he had observed. He was now bent upon
having a Passover feast service precisely like the one he had seen
his father conduct, not omitting even the white shroud which his
father had worn on the occasion. As a consequence, several of
these details were a novel sight to his children. A white shroud lay
ready for him on his sofa, and as he slipped it on, with smiles and
blushes, there was an outburst of mirth

"Oh, daddy!" Anna shouted

"Father looks like a Catholic priest," said Emil

"Don't say that, Emil," I rebuked him

Fun was made of the big white pillows upon which Tevkin leaned,
"king-like," and of the piece of unleavened bread which he "hid"
under them for Gracie to "steal."

As he raised the first of the Four Cups of wine he said, solemnly,
with an effort of shaking off all pretense of flippancy: "Well, let
us raise our glasses. Let us drink the First Cup."

We all did so, and he added, "This is the Fourth of July of our
unhappy people." After the glasses were drained and refilled he
said: "Scenes like this bind us to the Jews of the whole world, and
not only to those living, but to the past generations as well. This is
no time for speaking of the Christian religion, but as I look at this
wine an idea strikes me which I cannot help submitting: The
Christians drink wine, imagining that it is the blood of Jesus.
Well, the wine we are drinking to-night reminds me of the martyr
blood of our massacred brethren of all ages."

Anna gave me a merry wink. I felt myself one of the family. I was
in the seventh heaven. She seemed to be particularly attentive to
me this evening

"I shall speak to her to-night," I decided. "I sha'n't wait another
day." And the fact that she was a nationalist and not an
unqualified socialist, like Elsie, for instance, seemed to me a new
source of encouragement. I was in a quiver of blissful excitement

The Four Questions are usually asked by the youngest son, but
Emil, the Internationalist, could not be expected to take an active
part in the ceremony, so Sasha, the Zionist, took his place. Sasha,
however, did not read Hebrew, and old Tevkin had to be content
with having the Four Questions read in English, the general
answer to them being given by Tevkin and myself in Hebrew. It
reminded me of an operatic performance in which the part of
Faust, for instance, is sung in French, while that of Margarita is
performed in some other language. We went on with the Story of
the Deliverance. Tevkin made frequent pauses to explain and
comment upon the text, often with a burst of oratory. Mrs. Tevkin
and some of the children were obviously bored.

Gracie pleaded hunger

Finally the end of the first part of the story was reached and supper
was served. It was a typical Passover supper, with matzo balls,
and it was an excellent repast. Everybody was talkative and gay. I
addressed some remarks to Anna, and she received them all

By way of attesting her recognition of Passover as a "national
holiday" she was in festive array, wearing her newest dress, a
garment of blue taffeta embroidered in old rose, with a crêpe
collar of gray. It mellowed the glow of her healthful pink
complexion. She was the most beautiful creature at the table,
excluding neither her picturesque younger brother nor her majestic
old mother. She shone. She flooded my soul with ecstasy

Tevkin's religion was Judaism, Zionism. Mine was Anna. The
second half of the story is usually read with less pomp and
circumstance than the first, many a passage in it being often
skipped altogether. So Tevkin dismissed us all, remaining alone at
the table to chant the three final ballads, which he had
characterized to his children as "charming bits of folk-lore."

When Mrs. Tevkin, the children, and myself were mounting the
stairs leading up from the dining-room, I was by Anna's side, my
nerves as taut as those of a soldier waiting for the command to
charge. I charged sooner than I expected.

"Sasha asked the Four Questions," I found myself saying. "There is
one question which I should like to ask of you, Miss Tevkin."

I said it so simply and at a moment so little suited to a proposal of
marriage that the trend of my words was lost upon her

"Something about Jewish nationalism?" she asked

"About that and about something else."

We were passing through the hallway now. When we entered the
library I took her into a corner, and before we were seated I said:
"Well, my question has really nothing to do with nationalism. It's
quite another thing I want to ask of you. Don't refuse me. Marry
me. Make me happy."

She listened like one stunned

"I am terribly in love with you," I added

"Oh!" she then exclaimed. Her delicate pink skin became a fiery
red. She looked down and shook her head with confused stiffness.

"I see you're taken aback. Take a seat; get your bearings," I said,
lightly, pulling up a chair that stood near by, "and say, 'Yes.'"

"Why, that's impossible!" she said, with an awkward smile,
without seating herself. "I need not tell you that I have long since
changed my mind about you--"

"I am no more repellent, am I?" I jested

"No. Not at all," she returned, with another smile. "But what you
say is quite another thing. I am very sorry, indeed." She made to
move away from me, but I checked her

"That does not discourage me," I said. "I'll just go on loving you
and waiting for a favorable answer. You are still unjust to me.
You don't know me well enough. Anyhow, I can't give you up. I
won't give you up. ("That's it," I thought. "I am speaking like a
man of firm purpose.") "I am resolved to win you."

"Oh, that's entirely out of the question," she said, with a gesture of
impatience and finality. And, bursting into tears of child-like
indignation, she added: "Father assured me you would never hint
at such a thing--never.

If you mean to persist, then--"

The sentence was left eloquently unfinished. She turned away,
walked over to her mother and took a seat by her side, like a little
girl mutely seeking her mamma's protection

The room seemed to be in a whirl. I felt the cold perspiration break
out on my forehead. I was conscious of Mrs. Tevkin's and Elsie's
glances. I was sick at heart. Anna's bitter resentment was a black
surprise to me. I had a crushing sense of final defeat

a severe blow. It caused me indescribable suffering. It would not
have been unnatural to attribute my fiasco to my age. Had I been
ten years younger, Anna's attitude toward me might have been
different. But this point of view I loathed to accept. Instead, I put
the blame on Anna's environment.

"I was in the 'enemy's country' there," I would muse. "The
atmosphere around her was against me." I hated the socialists with
a novel venom. Finally I pulled myself together. Then it was that I
discovered the real condition of my affairs. I had gone into those
speculations far deeper than I could afford. There were indications
that made me seriously uneasy. Things were even worse than
Bender imagined. Ruin stared me in the face. I was panic-stricken.
One day I had the head of a large woolen concern lunch with me
in a private dining-room of a well-known hotel. He was dignifiedly
steel-gray and he had the appearance of a college professor or
successful physician rather than of a business man. He liked me. I
had long been one of his most important customers and I had
always sought to build up a good record with him. For example:
other cloak-manufacturers would exact allowances for
merchandise that proved to have some imperfection. I never do so.
It is the rule of my house never to put in a claim for such things. In
the majority of cases the goods can be cut so as to avoid any loss
of material, and if it cannot, I will sustain the small loss rather
than incur the mill's disfavor. In the long run it pays. And so this
cloth merchant was well disposed toward me. He had done me
some favors before. He addressed me as Dave. (There was a note
of condescension as well as of admiration in this "Dave" of his. It
implied that I was a shrewd fellow and an excellent customer,
singularly successful and reliable, but that I was his inferior, all
the same--a Jew, a social pariah. At the bottom of my heart I
considered myself his superior, finding an amusing discrepancy
between his professorial face and the crudity of his intellectual
interests; but he was a Gentile, and an American, and a much
wealthier man than I, so I looked up to him.) To make my appeal
as effective as possible I initiated him into the human side of my
troubles. I told him of my unfortunate courtship as well as of the
real-estate ventures into which it had led me

He was interested and moved, and, as he had confidence in me, he
granted my request at once.

"It's all right, Dave," he said, slapping my back, a queer look in his

"You can always count on me. Only throw that girl out of your

I grasped his hand silently. I wanted to say something, but the
words stuck in my throat. He helped me out of my difficulties and
I devoted myself to the cloak business with fresh energy. The
agonies of my love for Anna were more persistent than those I had
suffered after I moved out of Dora's house.

But, somehow, instead of interfering with my business activities,
these agonies stimulated them. I was like the victim of a
toothache who seeks relief in hard work. I toiled day and night,
entering into the minutest detail of the business and performing
duties that were ordinarily left to some inferior employee.

Business was good. Things went humming. Bender, who now had
an interest in my factory, was happy

Some time later the same woolen man who had come to my
assistance did me another good turn, one that brought me a rich
harvest of profits. A certain weave was in great vogue that season,
the demand far exceeding the output, and it so happened that the
mill of the man with the professorial face was one of the very few
that produced that fabric. So he let me have a much larger supply
of it than any other cloak-manufacturer in the country was able to
obtain. My business then took a great leap, while my overhead
expenses remained the same. My net profits exceeded two hundred
thousand dollars that year

One afternoon in the summer of the same year, as I walked along
Broadway in the vicinity of Canal Street, my attention was
attracted by a shabby, white-haired, feeble-looking old peddler,
with a wide, sneering mouth, who seemed disquietingly familiar
and in whom I gradually recognized one of my Antomir
teachers--one of those who used to punish me for the sins of their
other pupils. The past suddenly sprang into life with detailed,
colorful vividness. The black pit of poverty in which I had been
raised; my misery at school, where I had been treated as an
outcast and a scapegoat because my mother could not afford even
the few pennies that were charged for my tuition; the joy of my
childish existence in spite of that gloom and martyrdom--all this
rose from the dead before me

The poor old peddler I now saw trying to cross Broadway was
Shmerl the Pincher, the man with whom my mother had a
pinching and hair-pulling duel after she found the marks of his
cruelty on my young body. He had been one of the most heartless
of my tormentors, yet it was so thrillingly sweet to see him in New
York! In my schooldays I would dream of becoming a rich and
influential man and wreaking vengeance upon my brutal teachers,
more especially upon Shmerl the Pincher and "the Cossack," the
man whose little daughter, Sarah-Leah, had been the heroine of
my first romance. I now rushed after Shmerl, greatly excited, one
of the feelings in my heart being a keen desire to help him

A tangle of wagons and trolley-cars caused me some delay. I stood
gazing at him restively as he picked his weary way. I had known
him as a young man, although to my childish eye he had looked
old--a strong fellow, probably of twenty-eight, with jet-black
side-whiskers and beard, with bright, black eyes and alert
movements. At the time I saw him on Broadway he must have
been about sixty, but he looked much older

As I was thus waiting impatiently for the cars to start so that I
could cross the street and greet him, a cold, practical voice
whispered to me: "Why court trouble? Leave him alone."

My exaltation was gone. The spell was broken.

The block was presently relieved, but I did not stir. Instead of
crossing the street and accosting the old man, I stood still,
following him with my eyes until he vanished from view. Then I
resumed my walk up Broadway. As I trudged along, a feeling of
compunction took hold of me. By way of defending myself before
my conscience, I tried to think of the unmerited beatings he used
to give me. But it was of no avail. The idea of avenging myself on
this decrepit, tattered old peddler for what he had done more than
thirty years before made me feel small. "Poor devil! I must help
him," I said to myself.

I was conscious of a desire to go back and to try to overtake him;
but I did not. The desire was a meandering, sluggish sort of
feeling. The spell was broken irretrievably

CHAPTER II THE following winter chance brought me together
with Matilda. On this occasion our meeting was of a pleasanter
nature than the one which had taken place at Cooper Institute. It
was in a Jewish theater. She and another woman, accompanied by
four men, one of whom was Matilda's husband, were occupying a
box adjoining one in which were the Chaikins and myself and
from which it was separated by a low partition. The performance
was given for the benefit of a society in which Mrs. Chaikin was
an active member, and it was she who had made me pay for the
box and solemnly promise to attend the performance. Not that I
maintained a snobbish attitude toward the Jewish stage. I went to
see Yiddish plays quite often, in fact, but these were all of the
better class (our stage has made considerable headway), whereas
the one that had been selected by Mrs. Chaikin's society was of
the "historical-opera" variety, a hodge-podge of "tear-wringing"
vaudeville and "laughter-compelling" high tragedy. I should have
bought ten boxes of Mrs.

Chaikin if she had only let me stay away from the performance,
but her heart was set upon showing me off to the other members
of the organization, and I had to come

It was on a Monday evening. As I entered the box my eyes met
Matilda's and, contrary to my will, I bowed to her. To my surprise,
she acknowledged my salutation heartily

The curtain rose. Men in velvet tunics and plumed hats were
saying something, but I was more conscious of Matilda's
proximity and of her cordial recognition of my nod than of what
was going on on the stage.

Presently a young man and a girl entered our box and occupied
two of our vacant chairs. Mrs. Chaikin thought they had been
invited by me, and when she discovered that they had not there
was a suppressed row, she calling upon them to leave the box and
they nonchalantly refusing to stir from their seats, pleading that
they meant to stay only as long as there was no one else to occupy
them. Our box was beginning to attract attention. There were
angry outcries of "'S-sh!" "Shut up!" Matilda looked at me
sympathetically and we exchanged smiles. Finally an usher came
into our box and the two intruders were ejected

When the curtain had dropped on the first act Matilda invited me
into her box. When I entered it she introduced me to her husband
and her other companions as "a fellow-townsman" of hers

Seen at close range, her husband looked much younger than she,
but it did not take me long to discover that he was wrapped up in
her. His beard was smaller and more neatly trimmed than it had
looked at the Cooper Institute meeting, but it still ill became him.
He had an unsophisticated smile, which I thought suggestive of a
man playing on a flute and which emphasized the discrepancy
between his weak face and his reputation for pluck

An intermission in a Jewish theater is almost as long as an act.
During the first few minutes of our chat Matilda never alluded to
Antomir nor to what had happened between us at Cooper Institute.
She made merry over the advertisements on the curtain and over
the story of the play explaining that the box had been forced on
one of her companions and that they had all come to see what
"historic opera" was like. She commented upon the musicians,
who were playing a Jewish melody, and on some of the scenes
that were being enacted in the big auditorium. The crowd was
buzzing and smiling good-humoredly, with a general air of
family-like sociability, some eating apple or candy. The faces of
some of the men were much in need of a shave.

Most of the women were in shirt-waists. Altogether the audience
reminded one of a crowd at a picnic. A boy tottering under the
weight of a basket laden with candy and fruit was singing his
wares. A pretty young woman stood in the center aisle near the
second row of seats, her head thrown back, her eyes fixed on the
first balcony, her plump body swaying and swaggering to the
music. One man, seated in a box across the theater from us, was
trying to sneak to somebody in the box above ours. We could not
hear what he said, but his mimicry was eloquent enough. Holding
out a box of candy, he was facetiously offering to shoot some of
its contents into the mouth of the person he was addressing. One
woman, in an orchestra seat near our box, was discussing the play
with a woman in front of her. She could be heard all over the
theater. She was in ecstasies over the prima donna

"I tell you she can kill a person with her singing," she said,

"She tugs me by the heart and makes it melt. I never felt so
heartbroken in my life. May she live long."

This was the first opportunity I had had to take a good look at
Matilda since she had come to New York; for our first meeting
had been so brief and so embarrassing to me that I had come away
from it without a clear impression of her appearance

At first I found it difficult to look her in the face. The passionate
kisses I had given her twenty-three years before seemed to be
staring me out of countenance. She, however, was perfectly
unconstrained and smiled and laughed with contagious
exuberance. As we chatted I now and again grew absent-minded,
indulging in a mental comparison between the woman who was
talking to me and the one who had made me embrace her and so
cruelly trifled with my passion shortly before she raised the
money for my journey to America. The change that the years had
wrought in her appearance was striking, and yet it was the same
Matilda. Her brown eyes were still sparkingly full of life and her
mouth retained the sensuous expression of her youth. This and her
abrupt gestures gave her provocative charm

Nevertheless, she left me calm. It was an indescribable pleasure to
be with her, but my love for her was as dead as were the days
when I lodged in a synagogue. She never alluded to those days. To
listen to her, one would have thought that we had been seeing a
great deal of each other all along, and that small talk was the most
natural kind of conversation for us to carry on

All at once, and quite irrelevantly, she said: "I am awfully glad to
see you again. I did not treat you properly that time--at the
meeting, I mean.

Afterward I was very sorry."

"Were you?" I asked, flippantly.

"I wanted to write you, to ask you to come to see me, but--well,
you know how it is. Tell me something about yourself. At this
minute the twenty-three years seem like twenty-three weeks. But
this is no time to talk about it.

One wants hours, not a minute or two. I know, of course, that you
are a rich man. Are you a happy man? But, no, don't answer now.
The curtain will soon rise. Go back to your box, and come in
again after the next act. Will you?"

She ordered me about as she had done during my stay at her
mother's house, which offended and pleased me at once. During
the whole of the second act I looked at the stage without seeing or
hearing anything. The time when I fell in love with Matilda
sprang into life again. It really seemed as though the twenty-three
years were twenty-three weeks. My mother's death, her funeral;
Abner's Court; the uniformed old furrier with the side-whiskers,
his wife with her crutches; Naphtali with his curly hair and
near-sighted eyes; Reb Sender, his wife, the bully of the old
synagogue; Matilda's mother, and her old servant--all the hinnan
figures and things that filled the eventful last two years of my life
at home loomed up with striking vividness before me

Matilda's affable greeting and her intimate brief talk were a
surprise to me. Did I appeal to her as the fellow who had once
kissed her? Had she always remembered me with a gleam of
romantic interest? Did I stir her merely as she stirred me--as a
living fragment of her past? Or was she trying to cultivate me in
the professional interests of her husband, who was practising
medicine in Harlem? When the curtain had fallen again Matilda
made her husband change seats with me. I was to stay by her side
through the rest of the performance. The partition between the
two boxes being only waist-high, the two parties were practically
joined into one and everybody was satisfied--everybody except
Mrs. Chaikin

"I suppose our company isn't good enough for Mr. Levinsky," she
said, aloud

When the performance was over we all went to Lorber's--the most
pretentious restaurant on the East Side. Matilda and I were mostly
left to ourselves. We talked of our native town and of her pious
mother, who had died a few years before, but we carefully
avoided the few weeks which I had spent in her mother's house,
when Matilda had encouraged my embraces. In answer to my
questions she told me something of her own and her husband's
revolutionary exploits. She spoke boastfully and yet reluctantly of
these things, as if it were a sacrilege to discuss them with a man
who was, after all, a "money-bag."

My impression was that they lived very modestly and that they
were more interested in their socialist affairs than in their income.
My theory that she wanted her husband to profit by her
acquaintance with me seemed to be exploded. She reminded me
of Elsie and her whole-hearted devotion to socialism. We mostly
spoke in Yiddish, and our Antomir enunciation was like a bond of
kinship between us, and yet I felt that she spoke to me in the
patronizing, didactical way which one adopts with a foreigner, as
though the world to which she belonged was one whose interests
were beyond my comprehension

She inquired about my early struggles and subsequent successes. I
told her of the studies I had pursued before I went into business,
of the English classics I had read, and of my acquaintance with

"Do you remember what you told me about becoming an educated
man?" I said, eagerly. "Your words were always ringing in my
ears. It was owing to them that I studied for admission to college.
I was crazy to be a college man, but fate ordained otherwise. To
this day I regret it."

In dwelling on my successes I felt that I was too effusive and
emphatic; but I went on bragging in spite of myself. I tried to
correct the impression I was making on her by boasting of the
sums I had given to charity, but this made me feel smaller than
ever. However, my talk did not seem to arouse any criticism in her
mind. She listened to me as she might to the tale of a child

Referring to my uumarried state, she said, with unfeigned
sympathy: "This is really no life. You ought to get married." And
she added, gaily, "If you ever marry, you mustn't neglect to invite
me to the wedding."

"I certainly won't; you may be sure of that," I said

"You must come to see me. I'll call you up on the telephone some
day and we'll arrange it."

"I shall be very glad, indeed."

I departed in a queer state of mind. Her present identity failed to
touch a romantic chord in my heart. She was simply a memory,
like Dora. But as a memory she had rekindled some of the old
yearning in me. I was still in love with Anna, but at this moment I
was in love both with her and with the Matilda of twenty-three
years before. But this intense feeling for Matilda as a monument
of my past self did not last two days

The invitation she had promised to telephone never came

I came across a man whom I used to see at the Tevkins', and one
of the things he told me was that Anna had recently married a
high-school teacher

CHAPTER III THE real estate boom collapsed. The cause of the
catastrophe lay in the nature, or rather in the unnaturalness, of the
"get-rich-quick" epidemic.

Its immediate cause, however, was a series of rent strikes inspired
and engineered by the Jewish socialists through their Yiddish
daily. One of the many artificialities of the situation had been a
progressive inflation of rent values. Houses had been continually
changing hands, being bought, not as a permanent investment, but
for speculation, whereupon each successive purchaser would raise
rents as a means of increasing the market price of his temporary
property. And so the socialists had organized a crusade that filled
the municipal courts with dispossess cases and turned the boom
into a panic

Hundreds of people who had become rich overnight now became
worse than penniless overnight. The Ghetto was full of dethroned
"kings for a day only." It seemed as if it all really had been a

One of the men whose quickly made little fortune burst like a
bubble was poor Tevkin. I wondered how his children took the
socialist rent strikes

Nor did I escape uninjured when the crisis broke loose. I still had a
considerable sum in real estate, all my efforts to extricate it having
proved futile. My holdings were rapidly depreciating. In hundreds
of cases similar to mine equities were wiped out through the
speculators' inability to pay interest on mortgages or even taxes.
To be sure, things did not come to such a pass in my case, but
then some of the city lots or improved property in which I was
interested had been hit so hard as to be no longer worth the
mortgages on them

Volodsky lost almost everything except his courage and
speculative spirit

"Oh, it will come back," he once said to me, speaking of the boom

When I urged that it had been an unnatural growth he retorted that
it was the collapse of the boom which was unnatural. He was
scheming some sort of syndicate again

"It requires no money to make a lot of money," he said. "All it does
require is brains and some good luck."

Nevertheless, he coveted some of my money for his new scheme.
He did not succeed with me, but he found other "angels." He was
now quite in his element in the American atmosphere of
breathless enterprise and breakneck speed. When the violence of
the crisis had quieted down building operations were resumed on
a more natural basis. Men like Volodsky, with hosts of carpenters,
bricklayers, plumbers--all Russian or Galician Jews--continued to
build up the Bronx, Washington Heights, and several sections of

Vast areas of meadowland and rock were turned by them, as by a
magic wand, into densely populated avenues and streets of brick
and mortar. Under the spell of their activity cities larger than
Odessa sprang up within the confines of Greater New York in the
course of three or four years

Mrs. Chaikin came out of her speculations more than safe. She and
her husband, who is still in my employ, own half a dozen
tenement-houses. One day, on the first of the month, I met her in
the street with a large hand-bag and a dignified mien. She was out
collecting rent

CHAPTER IV IT was the spring of 1910. The twenty-fifth
anniversary of my coming to America was drawing near. The day
of an immigrant's arrival in his new home is like a birthday to
him. Indeed, it is more apt to claim his attention and to warm his
heart than his real birthday. Some of our immigrants do not even
know their birthday. But they all know the day when they came to
America. It is Landing Day with red capital letters. This, at any
rate, is the case with me. The day upon which I was born often
passes without my being aware of it.

The day when I landed in Hoboken, on the other hand, never
arrives without my being fully conscious of the place it occupies
in the calendar of my life. Is it because I do not remember myself
coming into the world, while I do remember my arrival in
America? However that may be, the advent of that day invariably
puts me in a sentimental mood which I never experience on the
day of my birth

It was 1910, then, and the twenty-fifth anniversary of my coming
was near at hand. Thoughts of the past filled me with mixed joy
and sadness. I was overcome with a desire to celebrate the day.
But with whom? Usually this is done by "ship brothers," as
East-Siders call fellow-immigrants who arrive here on the same
boat. It came back to me that I had such a ship brother, and that it
was Gitelson. Poor Gitelson! He was still working at his trade.

I had not seen him for years, but I had heard of him from time to
time, and I knew that he was employed by a ladies' tailor at
custom work somewhere in Brooklyn. (The custom-tailoring shop
he had once started for himself had proved a failure.) Also, I knew
how to reach a brother-in-law of his. The upshot was that I made
an appointment with Gitelson for him to be at my office on the
great day at 12 o'clock. I did so without specifying the object of
the meeting, but I expected that he would know

Finally the day arrived. It was a few minutes to 12. I was alone in
my private office, all in a fidget, as if the meeting I was expecting
were a love-tryst. Reminiscences and reflections were flitting
incoherently through my mind. Some of the events of the day
which I was about to celebrate loomed up like a ship seen in the
distance. My eye swept the expensive furniture of my office. I
thought of the way my career had begun. I thought of the Friday
evening when I met Gitelson on Grand Street, he an American
dandy and I in tatters. The fact that it was upon his advice and
with his ten dollars that I had become a cloak-maker stood out as
large as life before me. A great feeling of gratitude welled up in
me, of gratitude and of pity for my tattered self of those days.
Dear, kind Gitelson! Poor fellow! He was still working with his
needle. I was seized with a desire to do something for him.

I had never paid him those ten dollars. So I was going to do so
with "substantial interest" now. "I shall spend a few hundred
dollars on him--nay, a few thousand!" I said to myself. "I shall buy
him a small business. Let him end his days in comfort. Let him
know that his ship brother is like a real brother to him."

It was twenty minutes after 12 and I was still waiting for the
telephone to announce him. My suspense became insupportable.
"Is he going to disappoint me, the idiot?" I wondered. Presently
the telephone trilled. I seized the receiver

"Mr. Gitelson wishes to see Mr. Levinsky," came the familiar pipe
of my switchboard girl. "He says he has an appointment--"

"Let him come in at once," I flashed.

Two minutes later he was in my room. His forelock was still the
only bunch of gray hair on his head, but his face was pitifully
wizened. He was quite neatly dressed, as trained tailors will be,
even when they are poor, and at some distance I might have failed
to perceive any change in him. At close range, however, his
appearance broke my heart

"Do you know what sort of a day this is?" I asked, after shaking his
hand warmly.

"I should think I did," he answered, sheepishly. "Twenty-five years
ago at this time--"

He was at a loss for words

"Yes, it's twenty-five years, Gitelson," I rejoined. I was going to
indulge in reminiscences, to compare memories with him, but
changed my mind. I would rather not speak of our Landing Day
until we were seated at a dining-table and after we had drunk its
toast in champagne

"Come, let us have lunch together," I said, simply

I took him to the Waldorf-Astoria, where a table had been reserved
for us in a snug corner.

Gitelson was extremely bashful and his embarrassment infected
me. He was apparently at a loss to know what to do with the
various glasses, knives, forks. It was evident that he had never sat
at such a table before. The French waiter, who was silently
officious, seemed to be inwardly laughing at both of us. At the
bottom of my heart I cow before waiters to this day.

Their white shirt-fronts, reticence, and pompous bows make me
feel as if they saw through me and ridiculed my ways. They make
me feel as if my expensive clothes and ways ill became me

"Here is good health, Gitelson," I said in plain old Yiddish, as we
touched glasses. "Let us drink to the day when we arrived in
Castle Garden."

There was something forced, studied, in the way I uttered these
words. I was disgusted with my own voice. Gitelson only
simpered. He drained his glass, and the champagne, to which he
was not accustomed, made him tipsy at once. I tried to talk of our
ship, of the cap he had lost, of his timidity when we had found
ourselves in Castle Garden, of the policeman whom I asked to
direct us. But Gitelson only nodded and grinned and tittered. I
realized that I had made a mistake--that I should have taken him
to a more modest restaurant. But then the chasm between him and
me seemed to be too wide for us to celebrate as ship brothers in
any place

"By the way, Gitelson, I owe you something," I said, producing a
ten-dollar bill. "It was with your ten dollars that I learned to be a
cloak-operator and entered the cloak trade. Do you remember?" I
was going to add something about my desire to help him in some
substantial way, but he interrupted me

"Sure, I do," he said, with inebriate shamefacedness, as he received
the money and shoved it into the inside pocket of his vest. "It has
brought you good luck, hasn't it? And how about the interest? He,
he, he! You've kept it over twenty-three years. The interest must
be quite a little. He, he, he!"

"Of course I'll pay you the interest, and more, too. You shall get a

"Oh, I was only joking."

"But I am not joking. You're going to get a check, all right."

He revolted me

I made out a check for two hundred dollars; tore it and made out
one for five hundred

He flushed, scanned the figure, giggled, hesitated, and finally
folded the check and pushed it into his inner vest pocket, thanking
me with drunken ardor

Some time later I was returning to my office, my heart heavy with
self-disgust and sadness. In the evening I went home, to the
loneliness of my beautiful hotel lodgings. My heart was still heavy
with distaste and sadness

CHAPTER V GUSSIE, the finisher-girl to whom I had once made
love with a view to marrying her for her money, worked in the
vicinity of my factory and I met her from time to time on the
Avenue. We kept up our familiar tone of former days. We would
pause, exchange some banter, and go our several ways. She was
over fifty now. She looked haggard and dried up and her hair was
copiously shot with gray

One afternoon she told me she had changed her shop, naming her
new employer

"Is it a good place to work in?" I inquired

"Oh, it's as good or as bad as any other place," she replied, with a
gay smile

"Mine is good," I jested

"That's what they all say

"Come to work for me and see for yourself."

"Will I get good wages?"


"How much?"

"Any price you name."

"Look at him," she said, as though addressing a third person. "Look
at the new millionaire."

"It might have been all yours. But you did not think I was good
enough for you." "You can keep it all to yourself and welcome."

"Well, will you come to work?"

"You can't do without me, can you? He can't get finisher-girls, the
poor fellow. Well, how much will you pay me?"

We agreed upon the price, but on taking leave she said, "I was

"What do you mean? Don't you want to work for me, Gussie?"

She shook her head


"I don't want you to think I begrudge you your millions. We'll be
better friends at a distance. Good-by."

"You're a funny girl, Gussie. Good-by."

A short time after this conversation I had trouble with the
Cloak-makers' Union, of which Gussie was one of the oldest and
most loyal members

The cause of the conflict was an operator named Blitt, a native of
Antomir, who had been working in my shop for some months. He
was a spare little fellow with a nose so compressed at the nostrils
that it looked as though it was inhaling some sharp, pleasant odor.
It gave his face a droll appearance, but his eyes, dark and large,
were very attractive. I had known him as a small boy in my
birthplace, where he belonged to a much better family than I

When Blitt was invited to join the Levinsky Antomir Society of my
employees he refused. It turned out that he was one of the active
spirits of the union and also an ardent member of the Socialist
party. His foreman had not the courage to discharge him, because
of my well-known predilection for natives of Antomir, so he
reported him to me as a dangerous fellow

"He isn't going to blow up the building, is he?" I said, lightly

"But he may do other mischief. He's one of the leaders of the

"Let him lead."

The next time I looked at Blitt I felt uncomfortable. His refusal to
join my Antomir organization hurt me, and his activities in the
union and at socialist gatherings kindled my rancor. His
compressed nose revolted me now.

I wanted to get rid of him

Not that I had remained inflexible in my views regarding the
distribution of wealth in the world. Some of the best-known
people in the country were openly taking the ground that the poor
man was not getting a "square deal." To sympathize with
organized labor was no longer "bad form," some society women
even doing picket duty for Jewish factory-girls out on strike.

Socialism, which used to be declared utterly un-American, had
come to be almost a vogue. American colleges were leavened
with it, while American magazines were building up stupendous
circulations by exposing the corruption of the mighty. Public
opinion had, during the past two decades, undergone a striking
change in this respect. I had watched that change and I could not
but be influenced by it. For all my theorizing about the "survival
of the fittest" and the "dying off of the weaklings," I could not help
feeling that, in an abstract way, the socialists were not altogether

The case was different, however, when I considered it in
connection with the concrete struggle of trade-unionism (which
among the Jewish immigrants was practically but another name
for socialism) against low wages or high rent.

I must confess, too, that the defeat with which I had met at
Tevkin's house had greatly intensified my hostility to socialists.
As I have remarked in a previous chapter, I ascribed my fiasco to
the socialist atmosphere that surrounded Anna. I was embittered

The socialists were constantly harping on "class struggle," "class
antagonism," "class psychology." I would dismiss it all as absurd,
but I did hate the trade-unions, particularly those of the East Side.
Altogether there was too much socialism among the masses of the
Ghetto, I thought

Blitt now seemed to be the embodiment of this "class antagonism."

"Ah, he won't join my Antomir Society!" I would storm and fume
and writhe inwardly. "That's a tacit protest against the whole
society as an organization of 'slaves.' It means that the society
makes meek, obedient servants of my employees and helps me
fleece them. As if they did not earn in my shop more than they
would anywhere else! As if they could all get steady work outside
my place! And what about the loans and all sorts of other favors
they get from me? If they worked for their own fathers they could
not be treated better than they are treated here." I felt outraged

I rebuked myself for making much ado about nothing. Indeed, this
was a growing weakness with me. Some trifle unworthy of
consideration would get on my nerves and bother me like a grain
of sand in the eye. Was I getting old? But, no, I felt in the prime of
life, full of vigor, and more active and more alive to the passions
than a youth

Whenever I chanced to be on the floor where Blitt worked I would
avoid looking in his direction. His presence irritated me. "How
ridiculous," I often thought. "One would imagine he's my
conscience and that's why I want to get rid of him." As a
consequence, I dared not send him away, and, as a consequence of
this, he irritated me more than ever

Finally, one afternoon, acting on the spur of the moment, I called
his foreman to me and told him to discharge him

A committee of the union called on me. I refused to deal with
them. The upshot was a strike--not merely for the return of Blitt to
my employment, but also for higher wages and the recognition of
the union. The organization was not strong, and only a small
number of my men were members of it, but when these went out
all the others followed their contagious example, the members of
my Antomir Society not excepted

The police gave me ample protection, and there were thousands of
cloak-makers who remained outside the union, so that I soon had
all the "hands" I wanted; but the conflict caused me all sorts of
other mortifications. For one thing, it gave me no end of hostile
publicity. The socialist Yiddish daily, which had an
overwhelmingly wide circulation now, printed reports of meetings
at which I had been hissed and hooted. I was accused of bribing
corrupt politicians who were supposed to help me suppress the
strike by means of police clubs. I was charged with bringing
disgrace upon the Jewish people

The thought of Tevkin reading these reports and of Anna hearing
of them hurt me cruelly. I could see Moissey reveling in the hisses
with which my name was greeted. And Elsie? Did she take part in
some of the demonstrations against me? Were she and Anna
collecting funds for my striking employees? The reports in the
American papers also were inclined to favor the strikers.

Public opinion was against me. What galled me worse than all,
perhaps, was the sympathy shown for the strikers by some
German-Jewish financiers and philanthropists, men whose
acquaintance it was the height of my ambition to cultivate. All of
which only served to pour oil into the flames of my hatred for the

Bender implored me to settle the strike

"The union doesn't amount to a row of pins," he urged. "A week or
two after we settle, things will get back to their old state."

"Where's your backbone, Bender?" I exploded. "If you had your
way, those fellows would run the whole business. You have no
sense of dignity. And yet you were born in America."

I was always accompanied by a detective

One of the strikers was in my pay. Every morning at a fixed hour
he would call at a certain hotel, where he reported the doings of
the organization to Bender and myself. One of the things I thus
learned was that the union was hard up and constantly exacting
loans from Gussie and several other members who had
savings-bank accounts. One day, however, when the secretary
appealed to her for a further loan with which to pay fines for
arrested pickets and assist some of the neediest strikers, she flew
into a passion. "What do you want of me, murderers that you are?"
she cried, bursting into tears.

"Haven't I done enough? Have you no hearts?"

A minute or two later she yielded

"Bleed me, bleed me, cruel people that you are!" she said, pointing
at her heart, as she started toward her savings bank

I was moved. When my spy had departed I paced the floor for
some minutes.

Then, pausing, I smilingly declared to Bender my determination to
ask the union for a committee. He was overjoyed and shook my
hand solemnly

One of my bookkeepers was to communicate with the strike
committee in the afternoon. Two hours before the time set for
their meeting I saw in one of the afternoon papers an interview
with the president of the union. His statements were so unjust to
me, I thought, and so bitter, that the fighting blood was again up
in my veins

But the image of Gussie giving her hard-earned money to help the
strikers haunted me. The next morning I went to Atlantic City for
a few days, letting Bender "do as he pleased." The strike was
compromised, the men obtaining a partial concession of their
demands and Blitt waiving his claim to his former job

CHAPTER VI MY business continued to grow. My consumption
of raw material reached gigantic dimensions, so much so that at
times, when I liked a pattern, I would buy up the entire output and
sell some of it to smaller manufacturers at a profit

Gradually I abandoned the higher grades of goods, developing my
whole business along the lines of popular prices. There are two
cloak-and-suit houses that make a specialty of costly garments.
These enjoy high reputations for taste and are the real arbiters of
fashion in this country, one of the two being known in the trade as
Little Pans; but the combined volume of business of both these
firms is much smaller than mine

My deals with one mill alone--the largest in the country and the
one whose head had come to my rescue when my affairs were on
the brink of a precipice--now exceeded a million dollars at a
single purchase to be delivered in seven months. The mills often
sell me at a figure considerably lower than the general market
price. They do so, first, because of the enormous quantities I buy,
and, second, because of the "boost" a fabric receives from the very
fact of being handled by my nouse. One day, for instance, I said to
the president of a certain mill: "I like this cloth of yours. I feel like
making a big thing of it, provided you can let me have an inside
figure." We came to terms, and I gave him an advance order for
nine thousand pieces. When smaller manufacturers and
department-store buyers heard that I had bought an immense
quantity of that pattern its success was practically established. As
a consequence, the mill was in a position to raise the price of the
cloth to others, so that it amply made up for the low figure at
which it had sold the goods to me

Judged by the market price of the raw material, my profit on a
garment did not exceed fifty cents. But I paid for the raw material
seventy-five cents less than the market price, so that my total
profit was one dollar and twenty-five cents. Still, there have been
instances when I lost seventy-five thousand dollars in one month
because goods fell in price or because a certain style failed to
move and I had to sell it below cost to get it out of the way. To be
sure, cheaper goods are less likely to be affected by the caprices
of style than higher grades, which is one of several reasons why I
prefer to produce garments of popular prices

I do not employ my entire capital in my cloak business, half of it,
or more, being invested in "quick assets." Should I need more
ready cash than I have, I could procure it at a lower rate than what
those assets bring me. I can get half a million dollars, from two
banks, without rising from my desk--by merely calling those
banks up on the telephone. For this I pay, say, three and a half or
four per cent., for I am a desirable customer at the banks; and, as
my quick assets bring me an average of five per cent., I make at
least one per cent. on the money

Another way of making my money breed money is by early
payments to the mills. Not only can I do without their credit, but I
can afford to pay them six months in advance. This gives me an
"anticipation" allowance at the rate of six per cent. per annum,
while money costs me at the banks three or four per cent. per

All this is good sport

I own considerable stock in the very mills with which I do

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