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The Sorrows of a Show Girl by Kenneth McGaffey

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"A guy who had enough gilt on to be a Major-General in the
National Guard came floundering up and Wilbur gave him his real
name and the wop said, 'This way, please, threw us into a young
elevator and we went up a couple of stories and along a hall
until we came to a door which the gee threw open and said, 'This
is your stateroom.'

"Honest, I never saw such a drum. A great big room with a real
bed instead of those shelve things and off of the room a bath,
and we were only to be on the water five days. Can you beat it?
I was the one surprised pup and as soon as I hung my 'Merry
Widow' on the gas jet I asked Wilbur about it.

"He says, 'Kid, we are on the ferry to Europe and we are going
to spend our honeymoon across the pond.' I says, 'not for little
Sabrina; you don't get her out of sight of New York,' and made a
stab for the rail. By the time I got to it we were in the middle
of the creek and nothing in sight but a flock of tugboats and a
bunch of yaps waving their mitts on the dock. Take it from me,
if I hadn't been a bride I would have cut up something
scandalous, but it was too early in the matrimonial game to
start any lumpy work. So all I did was to sit and pout, 'cause I
know I can always make a hit when I flash the pouting number.

"Gee, what could I do? Out there in the middle of the water with
a long, slushy walk back to the dock. So I did the next best
thing and gave the high sign to the steward to kick in with a
few refreshments, which he very graciously did.

"Say, party, I can't tell you how I felt to see little old New
York slip away in the distance. That old town is a great old
burg, and as I was going to kick into some other country that I
wasn't hep to I naturally felt kind of bumly.

"We went busting by the Statue of Liberty and then on out past
the Hook, and, take it from me, if that steward hadn't come
across with the refreshments just at that moment I would have
burst into tears. As it was I could only address Wilbur in a few
terse adjectives, and tell him what I thought of a person that
would pull off such a low down deal on an unsuspecting fluff. I
want to state right now that though I was but a bride I called
him good and proper.

"The next morning we went down to breakfast. Say, they have
about ten meals a day on one of these scows and I've gained
about twenty pounds already. There was a bunch of show people
going over on the same boat and Wilbur and I naturally cottoned
to them. We didn't do a thing all day but sit on the deck and
read, or walk around or sing in the music room. Sure, they got a
real live music room on board, as well as a conservatory, a gym
and an elevator.

"I don't know whether I plucked a quince or not. Wilbur kept
insisting that I go to the table every time they turned in an
alarm, and I was sorta holding off, 'cause I didn't want to
lance the poor boy for all his change on the way over, but he
kept insisting that I eat and acted so peevish when I didn't
that I thought, well, if he wants to spend his money all right,
so I eat so much that I couldn't have crowded any more in me
with a hypo. Come to find out the food was included in the
passage and we had to pay for it whether we ate it or not.
That's why I am wondering if I plucked a quince. Wilbur was
never tight before we were wed, and you can take it from me that
if he starts to hold out or draw down now there is going to be
fine large doings in the Wilbur family from the female

"Wilbur was in the smoking room the other evening and got to
talking with what he thought were a couple of boobs, but come to
find out they were wise guys. After sipping up a couple of slow
ones, the guys propose a little poker game. Wilbur and two other
boobs fall for the bunk and they open up. Wilbur, after losing a
little junk, gives the wise guys the office that he's jerry to
the fact that they are playing with newspaper, and lets them
know that if he ain't in on the frame-up he'll belch.

"These two boobs are dirty with the evergreen, and Wilbur's got
the wise guys so leary for fear he will tip his mitt and they
naturally slip him a big one every time they get a chance.
Wilbur gets his money back and everything is even all around,
but the wise guys are the only ones who want to lay down.

"Wilbur hands them a game of cheerful chatter and they don't
dare quit. Foxy Wilbur sits there until 3 a.m., raking in their
money, and incidentally corrals some that belongs to the wealthy
wops. In the meantime I am doing the earnest conversation act
with an old dowager that I met the second day out and she is
telling me about her country home in Devonshire or some other
one of these shire things. She sorta took a fancy to me and
insisted that Wilbur and I should run out there for a week-end.
Which end of the week she didn't say. But I guess if we go
Sunday we are safe. To hear this old dame tell it, she must own
about nine million acres up in the country, and her husband has
all kinds of wild animals--lions, tigers, elephants and all that
truck that are trained to be shot. She called it a shooting
lodge. Probably a branch of the Elks. This old party ceases her
harangue and I beat it to the air-felt and am pounding my ear
when Wilbur kicks in with a souse on.

"I come out of the hay and am getting ready to call him to a
fare-you-well when he flashes his bundle. My anger vanished in a
moment and I just reach out and cop the coin and roll over and
goes to sleep. Wilbur sleeps on the floor until I took
compassion on him and rolled him on the lounge. Talk about your
wifely devotion, what! I count the roll in the morning before I
slip it to the purser for safekeeping and it assayed $1,245,
which is not half bad for a night's work.

"The wise guys come around and offer Wilbur $100 a night to stay
out of the smoking room and he won't do it, but tells them if he
catches them playing another game during the trip he will turn
loose the long Rebel yell. Now the two wise guys are sitting on
deck reading 'The Lives of the Saints' and making faces at
Wilbur every time he goes romping by. Ain't Wilbur the saucy

"The last night on board we gave a concert for the benefit of
the Seamen's Fund, or something like that, and I claim that it
was a classy affair. I appeared, and without any brag or
ostentation I can truthfully say that I scored a great personal
triumph. It wasn't so much what I did, but the winsome manner in
which I did it. Get that? Wilbur was the manager of the affair
and didn't shake down a cent.

"What do you think of that? He said that a sailor needed all the
money he could get and he would be the first man not to take it
from them. I made my big hit at the concert in reciting 'Lasca.'
One of the mates told me that somebody does 'Lasca' on every
trip, but I was the first one that furnished scenery by letting
down my hair. I wonder if he was kidding me?

"A great many of the ladies on board spent all their time in
playing Bridget whist, and after watching them for a couple of
afternoons they offered to teach me the game with a moderate
limit. I am hep to this poker thing and can look a pat hand in
the face without a quiver of the lip, but I must blushingly
admit that I thought I was in for a good old-fashioned trimming
when I got up against those dames. It cost me about fifty
dollars to learn, and then I had a streak of beginner's luck,
and before the whistle blew for dinner I was several hundred to
the velvet.

"Two of the Janes put up a horrible holler about it being a
friendly game and wanted their money back. I was going to give
it to them, because I didn't want 'em to look any older, but one
of the others took my part and told me to hold onto the gross.
The three that didn't get their's back got out their little
hammers and for a while I had no one to talk to but myself or
Wilbur, and he was trying to dope out a scheme whereby he could
paste threesheets on the ocean and catch the incoming tourists.
I left him trying to compose a one-word wireless that would
explain the whole proposition to Fred Thompson.

"We came in sight of England or Ireland, or some of those
foolish islands, early in the morning, and they didn't look so
much. Barren Island has got 'em faded for smell. There were
nothing but long white chalk cliffs that a good man with a
bucket of whitewash could paint in a week.

"We got into Liverpool and loafed around town for a couple of
hours and saw nothing that would cause any excitement. The
natives look just the same and dress just the same as they do in
America but you have to go some to understand what they say.

"Gee, you should pipe the herdics they use for railroad cars in
this man England's country. Instead of making the grand entrance
from the end you sneak in at the side and sit in a kind of a pew
thing, making faces at some one across the aisle. Wilbur got
sore 'cause he blew himself for a couple of tickets and the
conductor, I mean, the guard, didn't come around to collect them
until we go nearly into London. He wanted to bet an Englishman,
on the other side of the hall, $5--Bly me, I mean a pound, that
he could make the same trip for nothing and hand the guard a
group of chatter that would get him all the way into town.

"When we crawled out of the caboose in London we thought it was
midnight, but on asking a cop--my word, I mean Bobby--he said it
was nothing but a fog. Wilbur told him that if he wanted him to
see much of his blooming city he would have to bring around a
dark lantern.

"We called a cab and started for the Savoy. All true Americans
when they go to London stop at the Savoy. We drove for about an
hour, the horse gumshoeing his way through the dark until we
came to the hotel. Wilbur asked the cab driver how much it was
and he named the sum that if you even suggested it to a New York
cabby he would have you pinched.

"After registering Wilbur called Marcus Mayer up on the
telephone. He grabbed down the receiver and after waiting for
about half an hour some dame said, 'Are you there?' Wilbur's
Nanny took the hurdle and he answered, 'Where did you think I
was? Playing pinochle with the King?' After a sharp struggle he
managed to get Marcus' hangout, but he wasn't in, so Wilbur
started out to hunt the American bar alone. In about fifteen
minutes he came back on the run with a couple of Bobbys about
two jumps behind him. It seems that Wilbur had found the
American bar and walked up to it and asked for a Manhattan
cocktail, because he was getting homesick and the bartender
said, 'Will you have it made with Scotch or Irish, sir?'

"Naturally Wilbur hit him with the first thing that came handy,
which happened to be a heavy beer mug. The bartender was a short
sport, and instead of trimming him with a bung-starter, turns
loose a yell for the law. So Wilbur lopes on, carelessly
knocking over a couple of cops on his way out.

"The two officers that followed him to the room were strong for
sending him to the booby hatch, but I had the presence of mind
to slip them each a piece of change and they exit laughing.
That's all that has happened so far, though we just got in town
last night and I am writing this before breakfast. Oh, no;
there's something else. Last night Wilbur and I started down to
dinner and they shooed him back to put on his evening clothes.
He met some of the American bunch after supper, and it took them
three hours to tell all the things they did to Georgie Cohan
when he was over here. Ted Marks is right here, with his hair in
a braid and the white carnation.

"We will stay here for about a week and then caper over to
Paris. I got a hunch that Wilbur is fixing to leave me in the
outskirts, because I heard him say something about the
foolishness of taking a cheese sandwich to a banquet.

"Will write again soon.

"Platonically Yours,


"P.S.--Wilbur is in another row downstairs and I got to go and
see what's coming off.


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