Part 3 out of 4
there's nothing to eat but quinine and nothing to drink but rum. The
natives and foreigners lay down with chills and get up with fevers;
and a good mixed drink is nature's remedy for all such tropical
"So we lays in a fine stock of wet goods in New York, and bar
fixtures and glassware, and we sails for that Santa Palma town on
a lime steamer. On the way me and Tim sees flying fish and plays
seven-up with the captain and steward, and already begins to feel
like the high-ball kings of the tropics of Capricorn.
"When we gets in five hours of the country that we was going to
introduce to long drinks and short change the captain calls us over
to the starboard binnacle and recollects a few things.
"'I forgot to tell you, boys,' says he, 'that Nicaragua slapped an
import duty of 48 per cent. ad valorem on all bottled goods last
month. The President took a bottle of Cincinnati hair tonic by
mistake for tobasco sauce, and he's getting even. Barrelled goods is
"'Sorry you didn't mention it sooner,' says we. And we bought two
forty-two gallon casks from the captain, and opened every bottle we
had and dumped the stuff all together in the casks. That 48 per cent
would have ruined us; so we took the chances on making that $1,200
cocktail rather than throw the stuff away.
"Well, when we landed we tapped one of the barrels. The mixture was
something heartrending. It was the color of a plate of Bowery pea
soup, and it tasted like one of those coffee substitutes your aunt
makes you take for the heart trouble you get by picking losers. We
gave a nigger four fingers of it to try it, and he lay under a
cocoanut tree three days beating the sand with his heels and refused
to sign a testimonial.
"But the other barrel! Say, bartender, did you ever put on a straw
hat with a yellow band around it and go up in a balloon with a
pretty girl with $8,000,000 in your pocket all at the same time?
That's what thirty drops of it would make you feel like. With two
fingers of it inside you you would bury your face in your hands and
cry because there wasn't anything more worth while around for you to
lick than little Jim Jeffries. Yes, sir, the stuff in that second
barrel was distilled elixir of battle, money and high life. It was
the color of gold and as clear as glass, and it shone after dark
like the sunshine was still in it. A thousand years from now you'll
get a drink like that across the bar.
"Well, we started up business with that one line of drinks, and it
was enough. The piebald gentry of that country stuck to it like a
hive of bees. If that barrel had lasted that country would have
become the greatest on earth. When we opened up of mornings we had a
line of Generals and Colonels and ex-Presidents and revolutionists a
block long waiting to be served. We started in at 50 cents silver a
drink. The last ten gallons went easy at $5 a gulp. It was wonderful
stuff. It gave a man courage and ambition and nerve to do anything;
at the same time he didn't care whether his money was tainted or
fresh from the Ice Trust. When that barrel was half gone Nicaragua
had repudiated the National debt, removed the duty on cigarettes and
was about to declare war on the United States and England.
"'Twas by accident we discovered this king of drinks, and 'twill
be by good luck if we strike it again. For ten months we've been
trying. Small lots at a time, we've mixed barrels of all the harmful
ingredients known to the profession of drinking. Ye could have
stocked ten bars with the whiskies, brandies, cordials, bitters,
gins and wines me and Tim have wasted. A glorious drink like that
to be denied to the world! 'Tis a sorrow and a loss of money. The
United States as a nation would welcome a drink of that sort, and
pay for it."
All the while McQuirk lead been carefully measuring and pouring
together small quantities of various spirits, as Riley called them,
from his latest pencilled prescription. The completed mixture was of
a vile, mottled chocolate color. McQuirk tasted it, and hurled it,
with appropriate epithets, into the waste sink.
"'Tis a strange story, even if true," said Con. "I'll be going now
along to my supper."
"Take a drink," said Riley. "We've all kinds except the lost blend."
"I never drink," said Con, "anything stronger than water. I am just
after meeting Miss Katherine by the stairs. She said a true word.
'There's not anything,' says she, 'but is better off for a little
When Con had left them Riley almost felled McQuirk by a blow on the
"Did ye hear that?" he shouted. "Two fools are we. The six dozen
bottles of 'pollinaris we had on the slip--ye opened them
yourself--which barrel did ye pour them in--which barrel, ye
"I mind," said McQuirk, slowly, "'twas in the second barrel we
opened. I mind the blue piece of paper pasted on the side of it."
"We've got it now," cried Riley. "'Twas that we lacked. 'Tis the
water that does the trick. Everything else we had right. Hurry, man,
and get two bottles of 'pollinaris from the bar, while I figure out
the proportionments with me pencil."
An hour later Con strolled down the sidewalk toward Kenealy's café.
Thus faithful employees haunt, during their recreation hours, the
vicinity where they labor, drawn by some mysterious attraction.
A police patrol wagon stood at the side door. Three able cops were
half carrying, half hustling Riley and McQuirk up its rear steps.
The eyes and faces of each bore the bruises and cuts of sanguinary
and assiduous conflict. Yet they whooped with strange joy, and
directed upon the police the feeble remnants of their pugnacious
"Began fighting each other in the back room," explained Kenealy to
Con. "And singing! That was worse. Smashed everything pretty much
up. But they're good men. They'll pay for everything. Trying to
invent some new kind of cocktail, they was. I'll see they come out
all right in the morning."
Con sauntered into the back room to view the battlefield. As he went
through the hall Katherine was just coming down the stairs.
"Good evening again, Mr. Lantry," said she. "And is there no news
from the weather yet?"
"Still threatens r-rain," said Con, slipping past with red in his
smooth, pale cheek.
Riley and McQuirk had indeed waged a great and friendly battle.
Broken bottles and glasses were everywhere. The room was full of
alcohol fumes; the floor was variegated with spirituous puddles.
On the table stood a 32-ounce glass graduated measure. In the bottom
of it were two tablespoonfuls of liquid--a bright golden liquid that
seemed to hold the sunshine a prisoner in its auriferous depths.
Con smelled it. He tasted it. He drank it.
As he returned through the hall Katherine was just going up the
"No news yet, Mr. Lantry?" she asked with her teasing laugh.
Con lifted her clear from the floor and held her there.
"The news is," he said, "that we're to be married."
"Put me down, sir!" she cried indignantly, "or I will-- Oh, Con,
where, oh, wherever did you get the nerve to say it?"
A HARLEM TRAGEDY
Mrs. Fink had dropped into Mrs. Cassidy's flat one flight below.
"Ain't it a beaut?" said Mrs. Cassidy.
She turned her face proudly for her friend Mrs. Fink to see. One eye
was nearly closed, with a great, greenish-purple bruise around it.
Her lip was cut and bleeding a little and there were red finger-marks
on each side of her neck.
"My husband wouldn't ever think of doing that to me," said Mrs.
Fink, concealing her envy.
"I wouldn't have a man," declared Mrs. Cassidy, "that didn't beat me
up at least once a week. Shows he thinks something of you. Say! but
that last dose Jack gave me wasn't no homeopathic one. I can see
stars yet. But he'll be the sweetest man in town for the rest of the
week to make up for it. This eye is good for theater tickets and a
silk shirt waist at the very least."
"I should hope," said Mrs. Fink, assuming complacency, "that Mr.
Fink is too much of a gentleman ever to raise his hand against me."
"Oh, go on, Maggie!" said Mrs. Cassidy, laughing and applying witch
hazel, "you're only jealous. Your old man is too frappéd and slow
to ever give you a punch. He just sits down and practises physical
culture with a newspaper when he comes home--now ain't that the
"Mr. Fink certainly peruses of the papers when he comes home,"
acknowledged Mrs. Fink, with a toss of her head; "but he certainly
don't ever make no Steve O'Donnell out of me just to amuse
himself--that's a sure thing."
Mrs. Cassidy laughed the contented laugh of the guarded and happy
matron. With the air of Cornelia exhibiting her jewels, she drew
down the collar of her kimono and revealed another treasured bruise,
maroon-colored, edged with olive and orange--a bruise now nearly
well, but still to memory dear.
Mrs. Fink capitulated. The formal light in her eye softened to
envious admiration. She and Mrs. Cassidy had been chums in the
downtown paper-box factory before they had married, one year before.
Now she and her man occupied the flat above Mame and her man.
Therefore she could not put on airs with Mame.
"Don't it hurt when he soaks you?" asked Mrs. Fink, curiously.
"Hurt!"--Mrs. Cassidy gave a soprano scream of delight. "Well,
say--did you ever have a brick house fall on you?--well, that's just
the way it feels--just like when they're digging you out of the
ruins. Jack's got a left that spells two matinees and a new pair of
Oxfords--and his right!--well, it takes a trip to Coney and six
pairs of openwork, silk lisle threads to make that good."
"But what does he beat you for?" inquired Mrs. Fink, with wide-open
"Silly!" said Mrs. Cassidy, indulgently. "Why, because he's full.
It's generally on Saturday nights."
"But what cause do you give him?" persisted the seeker after
"Why, didn't I marry him? Jack comes in tanked up; and I'm here,
ain't I? Who else has he got a right to beat? I'd just like to catch
him once beating anybody else! Sometimes it's because supper ain't
ready; and sometimes it's because it is. Jack ain't particular about
causes. He just lushes till he remembers he's married, and then
he makes for home and does me up. Saturday nights I just move the
furniture with sharp corners out of the way, so I won't cut my
head when he gets his work in. He's got a left swing that jars you!
Sometimes I take the count in the first round; but when I feel like
having a good time during the week or want some new rags I come up
again for more punishment. That's what I done last night. Jack knows
I've been wanting a black silk waist for a month, and I didn't think
just one black eye would bring it. Tell you what, Mag, I'll bet you
the ice cream he brings it to-night."
Mrs. Fink was thinking deeply.
"My Mart," she said, "never hit me a lick in his life. It's just
like you said, Mame; he comes in grouchy and ain't got a word to
say. He never takes me out anywhere. He's a chair-warmer at home for
fair. He buys me things, but he looks so glum about it that I never
Mrs. Cassidy slipped an arm around her chum. "You poor thing!"
she said. "But everybody can't have a husband like Jack. Marriage
wouldn't be no failure if they was all like him. These discontented
wives you hear about--what they need is a man to come home and kick
their slats in once a week, and then make it up in kisses, and
chocolate creams. That'd give 'em some interest in life. What I want
is a masterful man that slugs you when he's jagged and hugs you when
he ain't jagged. Preserve me from the man that ain't got the sand to
Mrs. Fink sighed.
The hallways were suddenly filled with sound. The door flew open at
the kick of Mr. Cassidy. His arms were occupied with bundles. Mame
flew and hung about his neck. Her sound eye sparkled with the love
light that shines in the eye of the Maori maid when she recovers
consciousness in the hut of the wooer who has stunned and dragged
"Hello, old girl!" shouted Mr. Cassidy. He shed his bundles and
lifted her off her feet in a mighty hug. "I got tickets for Barnum
& Bailey's, and if you'll bust the string of one of them bundles I
guess you'll find that silk waist--why, good evening, Mrs. Fink--I
didn't see you at first. How's old Mart coming along?"
"He's very well, Mr. Cassidy--thanks," said Mrs. Fink. "I must be
going along up now. Mart'll be home for supper soon. I'll bring you
down that pattern you wanted to-morrow, Mame."
Mrs. Fink went up to her flat and had a little cry. It was a
meaningless cry, the kind of cry that only a woman knows about, a
cry from no particular cause, altogether an absurd cry; the most
transient and the most hopeless cry in the repertory of grief. Why
had Martin never thrashed her? He was as big and strong as Jack
Cassidy. Did he not care for her at all? He never quarrelled; he
came home and lounged about, silent, glum, idle. He was a fairly
good provider, but he ignored the spices of life.
Mrs. Fink's ship of dreams was becalmed. Her captain ranged between
plum duff and his hammock. If only he would shiver his timbers or
stamp his foot on the quarter-deck now and then! And she had thought
to sail so merrily, touching at ports in the Delectable Isles! But
now, to vary the figure, she was ready to throw up the sponge, tired
out, without a scratch to show for all those tame rounds with her
sparring partner. For one moment she almost hated Mame--Mame, with
her cuts and bruises, her salve of presents and kisses; her stormy
voyage with her fighting, brutal, loving mate.
Mr. Fink came home at 7. He was permeated with the curse of
domesticity. Beyond the portals of his cozy home he cared not to
roam, to roam. He was the man who had caught the street car, the
anaconda that had swallowed its prey, the tree that lay as it had
"Like the supper, Mart?" asked Mrs. Fink, who had striven over it.
"M-m-m-yep," grunted Mr. Fink.
After supper he gathered his newspapers to read. He sat in his
Arise, some new Dante, and sing me the befitting corner of perdition
for the man who sitteth in the house in his stockinged feet. Sisters
of Patience who by reason of ties or duty have endured it in silk,
yarn, cotton, lisle thread or woollen--does not the new canto belong?
The next day was Labor Day. The occupations of Mr. Cassidy and Mr.
Fink ceased for one passage of the sun. Labor, triumphant, would
parade and otherwise disport itself.
Mrs. Fink took Mrs. Cassidy's pattern down early. Mame had on her
new silk waist. Even her damaged eye managed to emit a holiday
gleam. Jack was fruitfully penitent, and there was a hilarious
scheme for the day afoot, with parks and picnics and Pilsener in it.
A rising, indignant jealousy seized Mrs. Fink as she returned to her
flat above. Oh, happy Mame, with her bruises and her quick-following
balm! But was Mame to have a monopoly of happiness? Surely Martin
Fink was as good a man as Jack Cassidy. Was his wife to go always
unbelabored and uncaressed? A sudden, brilliant, breathless idea
came to Mrs. Fink. She would show Mame that there were husbands as
able to use their fists and perhaps to be as tender afterward as any
The holiday promised to be a nominal one with the Finks. Mrs. Fink
had the stationary washtubs in the kitchen filled with a two weeks'
wash that had been soaking overnight. Mr. Fink sat in his stockinged
feet reading a newspaper. Thus Labor Day presaged to speed.
Jealousy surged high in Mrs. Fink's heart, and higher still surged
an audacious resolve. If her man would not strike her--if he would
not so far prove his manhood, his prerogative and his interest in
conjugal affairs, he must be prompted to his duty.
Mr. Fink lit his pipe and peacefully rubbed an ankle with a
stockinged toe. He reposed in the state of matrimony like a lump
of unblended suet in a pudding. This was his level Elysium--to sit
at ease vicariously girdling the world in print amid the wifely
splashing of suds and the agreeable smells of breakfast dishes
departed and dinner ones to come. Many ideas were far from his
mind; but the furthest one was the thought of beating his wife.
Mrs. Fink turned on the hot water and set the washboards in the
suds. Up from the flat below came the gay laugh of Mrs. Cassidy. It
sounded like a taunt, a flaunting of her own happiness in the face
of the unslugged bride above. Now was Mrs. Fink's time.
Suddenly she turned like a fury upon the man reading.
"You lazy loafer!" she cried, "must I work my arms off washing and
toiling for the ugly likes of you? Are you a man or are you a
Mr. Fink dropped his paper, motionless from surprise. She feared
that he would not strike--that the provocation had been insufficient.
She leaped at him and struck him fiercely in the face with her
clenched hand. In that instant she felt a thrill of love for him
such as she had not felt for many a day. Rise up, Martin Fink, and
come into your kingdom! Oh, she must feel the weight of his hand
now--just to show that he cared--just to show that he cared!
Mr. Fink sprang to his feet--Maggie caught him again on the jaw with
a wide swing of her other hand. She closed her eyes in that fearful,
blissful moment before his blow should come--she whispered his name
to herself--she leaned to the expected shock, hungry for it.
In the flat below Mr. Cassidy, with a shamed and contrite face was
powdering Mame's eye in preparation for their junket. From the flat
above came the sound of a woman's voice, high-raised, a bumping, a
stumbling and a shuffling, a chair overturned--unmistakable sounds
of domestic conflict.
"Mart and Mag scrapping?" postulated Mr. Cassidy. "Didn't know they
ever indulged. Shall I trot up and see if they need a sponge holder?"
One of Mrs. Cassidy's eyes sparkled like a diamond. The other
twinkled at least like paste.
"Oh, oh," she said, softly and without apparent meaning, in the
feminine ejaculatory manner. "I wonder if--wonder if! Wait, Jack,
till I go up and see."
Up the stairs she sped. As her foot struck the hallway above out
from the kitchen door of her flat wildly flounced Mrs. Fink.
"Oh, Maggie," cried Mrs. Cassidy, in a delighted whisper; "did he?
Oh, did he?"
Mrs. Fink ran and laid her face upon her chum's shoulder and sobbed
Mrs. Cassidy took Maggie's face between her hands and lifted it
gently. Tear-stained it was, flushing and paling, but its velvety,
pink-and-white, becomingly freckled surface was unscratched,
unbruised, unmarred by the recreant fist of Mr. Fink.
"Tell me, Maggie," pleaded Mame, "or I'll go in there and find out.
What was it? Did he hurt you--what did he do?"
Mrs. Fink's face went down again despairingly on the bosom of her
"For God's sake don't open that door, Mame," she sobbed. "And don't
ever tell nobody--keep it under your hat. He--he never touched me,
and--he's--oh, Gawd--he's washin' the clothes--he's washin' the
"THE GUILTY PARTY"
A Red-haired, unshaven, untidy man sat in a rocking chair by a
window. He had just lighted a pipe, and was puffing blue clouds with
great satisfaction. He had removed his shoes and donned a pair of
blue, faded carpet-slippers. With the morbid thirst of the confirmed
daily news drinker, he awkwardly folded back the pages of an evening
paper, eagerly gulping down the strong, black headlines, to be
followed as a chaser by the milder details of the smaller type.
In an adjoining room a woman was cooking supper. Odors from strong
bacon and boiling coffee contended against the cut-plug fumes from
the vespertine pipe.
Outside was one of those crowded streets of the east side, in which,
as twilight falls, Satan sets up his recruiting office. A mighty
host of children danced and ran and played in the street. Some in
rags, some in clean white and beribboned, some wild and restless as
young hawks, some gentle-faced and shrinking, some shrieking rude
and sinful words, some listening, awed, but soon, grown familiar,
to embrace--here were the children playing in the corridors of the
House of Sin. Above the playground forever hovered a great bird. The
bird was known to humorists as the stork. But the people of Chrystie
street were better ornithologists. They called it a vulture.
A little girl of twelve came up timidly to the man reading and
resting by the window, and said:
"Papa, won't you play a game of checkers with me if you aren't too
The red-haired, unshaven, untidy man sitting shoeless by the window
answered, with a frown.
"Checkers. No, I won't. Can't a man who works hard all day have a
little rest when he comes home? Why don't you go out and play with
the other kids on the sidewalk?"
The woman who was cooking came to the door.
"John," she said, "I don't like for Lizzie to play in the street.
They learn too much there that ain't good for 'em. She's been in the
house all day long. It seems that you might give up a little of your
time to amuse her when you come home."
"Let her go out and play like the rest of 'em if she wants to be
amused," said the red-haired, unshaven, untidy man, "and don't
* * * * * * *
"You're on," said Kid Mullaly. "Fifty dollars to $25 I take Annie to
the dance. Put up."
The Kid's black eyes were snapping with the fire of the baited and
challenged. He drew out his "roll" and slapped five tens upon the
bar. The three or four young fellows who were thus "taken" more
slowly produced their stake. The bartender, ex-officio stakeholder,
took the money, laboriously wrapped it, recorded the bet with an
inch-long pencil and stuffed the whole into a corner of the cash
"And, oh, what'll be done to you'll be a plenty," said a bettor,
with anticipatory glee.
"That's my lookout," said the "Kid," sternly. "Fill 'em up all
After the round Burke, the "Kid's" sponge, sponge-holder, pal,
Mentor and Grand Vizier, drew him out to the bootblack stand at the
saloon corner where all the official and important matters of the
Small Hours Social Club were settled. As Tony polished the light tan
shoes of the club's President and Secretary for the fifth time that
day, Burke spake words of wisdom to his chief.
"Cut that blond out, 'Kid,'" was his advice, "or there'll be
trouble. What do you want to throw down that girl of yours for?
You'll never find one that'll freeze to you like Liz has. She's
worth a hallful of Annies."
"I'm no Annie admirer!" said the "Kid," dropping a cigarette ash
on his polished toe, and wiping it off on Tony's shoulder. "But I
want to teach Liz a lesson. She thinks I belong to her. She's been
bragging that I daren't speak to another girl. Liz is all right--in
some ways. She's drinking a little too much lately. And she uses
language that a lady oughtn't."
"You're engaged, ain't you?" asked Burke.
"Sure. We'll get married next year, maybe."
"I saw you make her drink her first glass of beer," said Burke.
"That was two years ago, when she used to came down to the corner of
Chrystie bare-headed to meet you after supper. She was a quiet sort
of a kid then, and couldn't speak without blushing."
"She's a little spitfire, sometimes, now," said the Kid. "I hate
jealousy. That's why I'm going to the dance with Annie. It'll teach
her some sense."
"Well, you better look a little out," were Burke's last words. "If
Liz was my girl and I was to sneak out to a dance coupled up with an
Annie, I'd want a suit of chain armor on under my gladsome rags, all
Through the land of the stork-vulture wandered Liz. Her black eyes
searched the passing crowds fierily but vaguely. Now and then she
hummed bars of foolish little songs. Between times she set her
small, white teeth together, and spake crisp words that the east
side has added to language.
Liz's skirt was green silk. Her waist was a large brown-and-pink
plaid, well-fitting and not without style. She wore a cluster ring
of huge imitation rubies, and a locket that banged her knees at the
bottom of a silver chain. Her shoes were run down over twisted high
heels, and were strangers to polish. Her hat would scarcely have
passed into a flour barrel.
The "Family Entrance" of the Blue Jay Café received her. At a table
she sat, and punched the button with the air of milady ringing for
her carriage. The waiter came with his large-chinned, low-voiced
manner of respectful familiarity. Liz smoothed her silken skirt with
a satisfied wriggle. She made the most of it. Here she could order
and be waited upon. It was all that her world offered her of the
prerogative of woman.
"Whiskey, Tommy," she said as her sisters further uptown murmur,
"Sure, Miss Lizzie. What'll the chaser be?"
"Seltzer. And say, Tommy, has the Kid been around to-day?"
"Why, no, Miss Lizzie, I haven't saw him to-day."
Fluently came the "Miss Lizzie," for the Kid was known to be one who
required rigid upholdment of the dignity of his fiancee.
"I'm lookin' for 'm," said Liz, after the chaser had sputtered under
her nose. "It's got to me that he says he'll take Annie Karlson to
the dance. Let him. The pink-eyed white rat! I'm lookin' for 'm. You
know me, Tommy. Two years me and the Kid's been engaged. Look at
that ring. Five hundred, he said it cost. Let him take her to the
dance. What'll I do? I'll cut his heart out. Another whiskey,
"I wouldn't listen to no such reports, Miss Lizzie," said the waiter
smoothly, from the narrow opening above his chin. "Kid Mullaly's not
the guy to throw a lady like you down. Seltzer on the side?"
"Two years," repeated Liz, softening a little to sentiment under
the magic of the distiller's art. "I always used to play out on the
street of evenin's 'cause there was nothin' doin' for me at home.
For a long time I just sat on doorsteps and looked at the lights
and the people goin' by. And then the Kid came along one evenin'
and sized me up, and I was mashed on the spot for fair. The first
drink he made me take I cried all night at home, and got a lickin'
for makin' a noise. And now--say, Tommy, you ever see this Annie
Karlson? If it wasn't for peroxide the chloroform limit would have
put her out long ago. Oh, I'm lookin' for 'm. You tell the Kid if
he comes in. Me? I'll cut his heart out. Leave it to me. Another
A little unsteadily, but with watchful and brilliant eyes, Liz
walked up the avenue. On the doorstep of a brick tenement a
curly-haired child sat, puzzling over the convolutions of a tangled
string. Liz flopped down beside her, with a crooked, shifting smile
on her flushed face. But her eyes had grown clear and artless of a
"Let me show you how to make a cat's-cradle, kid," she said, tucking
her green silk skirt under her rusty shoes.
And while they sat there the lights were being turned on for the
dance in the hall of the Small Hours Social Club. It was the
bi-monthly dance, a dress affair in which the members took great
pride and bestirred themselves huskily to further and adorn.
At 9 o'clock the President, Kid Mullaly, paced upon the floor with a
lady on his arm. As the Loreley's was her hair golden. Her "yes" was
softened to a "yah," but its quality of assent was patent to the
most Milesian ears. She stepped upon her own train and blushed,
and--she smiled into the eyes of Kid Mullaly.
And then, as the two stood in the middle of the waxed floor, the
thing happened to prevent which many lamps are burning nightly in
many studies and libraries.
Out from the circle of spectators in the hall leaped Fate in a green
silk skirt, under the _nom de guerre_ of "Liz." Her eyes were hard
and blacker than jet. She did not scream or waver. Most unwomanly,
she cried out one oath--the Kid's own favorite oath--and in his
own deep voice; and then while the Small Hours Social Club went
frantically to pieces, she made good her boast to Tommy, the
waiter--made good as far as the length of her knife blade and the
strength of her arm permitted.
And next came the primal instinct of self-preservation--or was it
self-annihilation, the instinct that society has grafted on the
Liz ran out and down the street swift and true as a woodcock flying
through a grove of saplings at dusk.
And then followed the big city's biggest shame, its most ancient
and rotten surviving canker, its pollution and disgrace, its blight
and perversion, its forever infamy and guilt, fostered, unreproved
and cherished, handed down from a long-ago century of the basest
barbarity--the Hue and Cry. Nowhere but in the big cities does it
survive, and here most of all, where the ultimate perfection of
culture, citizenship and alleged superiority joins, bawling, in the
They pursued--a shrieking mob of fathers, mothers, lovers and
maidens--howling, yelling, calling, whistling, crying for blood.
Well may the wolf in the big city stand outside the door. Well may
his heart, the gentler, falter at the siege.
Knowing her way, and hungry for her surcease, she darted down the
familiar ways until at last her feet struck the dull solidity of the
rotting pier. And then it was but a few more panting steps--and good
mother East River took Liz to her bosom, soothed her muddily but
quickly, and settled in five minutes the problem that keeps lights
burning o' nights in thousands of pastorates and colleges.
* * * * * * *
It's mighty funny what kind of dreams one has sometimes. Poets call
them visions, but a vision is only a dream in blank verse. I dreamed
the rest of this story.
I thought I was in the next world. I don't know how I got there; I
suppose I had been riding on the Ninth avenue elevated or taking
patent medicine or trying to pull Jim Jeffries's nose, or doing some
such little injudicious stunt. But, anyhow, there I was, and there
was a great crowd of us outside the courtroom where the judgments
were going on. And every now and then a very beautiful and imposing
court-officer angel would come outside the door and call another
While I was considering my own worldly sins and wondering whether
there would be any use of my trying to prove an alibi by claiming
that I lived in New Jersey, the bailiff angel came to the door and
"Case No. 99,852,743."
Up stepped a plain-clothes man--there were lots of 'em there,
dressed exactly like preachers and hustling us spirits around just
like cops do on earth--and by the arm he dragged--whom, do you
think? Why, Liz!
The court officer took her inside and closed the door. I went up to
Mr. Fly-Cop and inquired about the case.
"A very sad one," says he, laying the points of his manicured
fingers together. "An utterly incorrigible girl. I am Special
Terrestrial Officer the Reverend Jones. The case was assigned to
me. The girl murdered her fiance and committed suicide. She had no
defense. My report to the court relates the facts in detail, all of
which are substantiated by reliable witnesses. The wages of sin is
death. Praise the Lord."
The court officer opened the door and stepped out.
"Poor girl," said Special Terrestrial Officer the Reverend Jones,
with a tear in his eye. "It was one of the saddest cases that I ever
met with. Of course she was"--
"Discharged," said the court officer. "Come here, Jonesy. First
thing you know you'll be switched to the pot-pie squad. How
would you like to be on the missionary force in the South Sea
Islands--hey? Now, you quit making these false arrests, or you'll
be transferred--see? The guilty party you've not to look for in
this case is a red-haired, unshaven, untidy man, sitting by the
window reading, in his stocking feet, while his children play in
the streets. Get a move on you."
Now, wasn't that a silly dream?
ACCORDING TO THEIR LIGHTS
Somewhere in the depths of the big city, where the unquiet dregs are
forever being shaken together, young Murray and the Captain had met
and become friends. Both were at the lowest ebb possible to their
fortunes; both had fallen from at least an intermediate Heaven of
respectability and importance, and both were typical products of the
monstrous and peculiar social curriculum of their overweening and
bumptious civic alma mater.
The captain was no longer a captain. One of those sudden moral
cataclysms that sometimes sweep the city had hurled him from a high
and profitable position in the Police Department, ripping off his
badge and buttons and washing into the hands of his lawyers the
solid pieces of real estate that his frugality had enabled him to
accumulate. The passing of the flood left him low and dry. One month
after his dishabilitation a saloon-keeper plucked him by the neck
from his free-lunch counter as a tabby plucks a strange kitten from
her nest, and cast him asphaltward. This seems low enough. But after
that he acquired a pair of cloth top, button Congress gaiters and
wrote complaining letters to the newspapers. And then he fought
the attendant at the Municipal Lodging House who tried to give
him a bath. When Murray first saw him he was holding the hand of
an Italian woman who sold apples and garlic on Essex street, and
quoting the words of a song book ballad.
Murray's fall had been more Luciferian, if less spectacular. All
the pretty, tiny little kickshaws of Gotham had once been his. The
megaphone man roars out at you to observe the house of his uncle on
a grand and revered avenue. But there had been an awful row about
something, and the prince had been escorted to the door by the
butler, which, in said avenue, is equivalent to the impact of the
avuncular shoe. A weak Prince Hal, without inheritance or sword, he
drifted downward to meet his humorless Falstaff, and to pick the
crusts of the streets with him.
One evening they sat on a bench in a little downtown park. The great
bulk of the Captain, which starvation seemed to increase--drawing
irony instead of pity to his petitions for aid--was heaped against
the arm of the bench in a shapeless mass. His red face, spotted by
tufts of vermilion, week-old whiskers and topped by a sagging white
straw hat, looked, in the gloom, like one of those structures that
you may observe in a dark Third avenue window, challenging your
imagination to say whether it be something recent in the way of
ladies' hats or a strawberry shortcake. A tight-drawn belt--last
relic of his official spruceness--made a deep furrow in his
circumference. The Captain's shoes were buttonless. In a smothered
bass he cursed his star of ill-luck.
Murray, at his side, was shrunk into his dingy and ragged suit of
blue serge. His hat was pulled low; he sat quiet and a little
indistinct, like some ghost that had been dispossessed.
"I'm hungry," growled the Captain--"by the top sirloin of the Bull
of Bashan, I'm starving to death. Right now I could eat a Bowery
restaurant clear through to the stovepipe in the alley. Can't
you think of nothing, Murray? You sit there with your shoulders
scrunched up, giving an imitation of Reginald Vanderbilt driving
his coach--what good are them airs doing you now? Think of some
place we can get something to chew."
"You forget, my dear Captain," said Murray, without moving, "that
our last attempt at dining was at my suggestion."
"You bet it was," groaned the Captain, "you bet your life it was.
Have you got any more like that to make--hey?"
"I admit we failed," sighed Murray. "I was sure Malone would be good
for one more free lunch after the way he talked baseball with me the
last time I spent a nickel in his establishment."
"I had this hand," said the Captain, extending the unfortunate
member--"I had this hand on the drumstick of a turkey and two
sardine sandwiches when them waiters grabbed us."
"I was within two inches of the olives," said Murray. "Stuffed
olives. I haven't tasted one in a year."
"What'll we do?" grumbled the Captain. "We can't starve."
"Can't we?" said Murray quietly. "I'm glad to hear that. I was
afraid we could."
"You wait here," said the Captain, rising, heavily and puffily to
his feet. "I'm going to try to make one more turn. You stay here
till I come back, Murray. I won't be over half an hour. If I turn
the trick I'll come back flush."
He made some elephantine attempts at smartening his appearance. He
gave his fiery mustache a heavenward twist; he dragged into sight a
pair of black-edged cuffs, deepened the crease in his middle by
tightening his belt another hole, and set off, jaunty as a zoo
rhinoceros, across the south end of the park.
When he was out of sight Murray also left the park, hurrying swiftly
eastward. He stopped at a building whose steps were flanked by two
"A police captain named Maroney," he said to the desk sergeant, "was
dismissed from the force after being tried under charges three years
ago. I believe sentence was suspended. Is this man wanted now by the
"Why are ye asking?" inquired the sergeant, with a frown.
"I thought there might be a reward standing," explained Murray,
easily. "I know the man well. He seems to be keeping himself pretty
shady at present. I could lay my hands on him at any time. If there
should be a reward--"
"There's no reward," interrupted the sergeant, shortly. "The man's
not wanted. And neither are ye. So, get out. Ye are frindly with um,
and ye would be selling um. Out with ye quick, or I'll give ye a
Murray gazed at the officer with serene and virtuous dignity.
"I would be simply doing my duty as a citizen and gentleman," he
said, severely, "if I could assist the law in laying hold of one of
Murray hurried back to the bench in the park. He folded his arms and
shrank within his clothes to his ghost-like presentment.
Ten minutes afterward the Captain arrived at the rendezvous, windy
and thunderous as a dog-day in Kansas. His collar had been torn
away; his straw hat had been twisted and battered; his shirt with
ox-blood stripes split to the waist. And from head to knee he
was drenched with some vile and ignoble greasy fluid that loudly
proclaimed to the nose its component leaven of garlic and kitchen
"For Heaven's sake, Captain," sniffed Murray, "I doubt that I would
have waited for you if I had suspected you were so desperate as to
resort to swill barrels. I"--
"Cheese it," said the Captain, harshly. "I'm not hogging it yet.
It's all on the outside. I went around on Essex and proposed
marriage to that Catrina that's got the fruit shop there. Now, that
business could be built up. She's a peach as far as a Dago could be.
I thought I had that senoreena mashed sure last week. But look what
she done to me! I guess I got too fresh. Well there's another scheme
"You don't mean to say," said Murray, with infinite contempt, "that
you would have married that woman to help yourself out of your
"Me?" said the Captain. "I'd marry the Empress of China for one bowl
of chop suey. I'd commit murder for a plate of beef stew. I'd steal
a wafer from a waif. I'd be a Mormon for a bowl of chowder."
"I think," said Murray, resting his head on his hands, "that I would
play Judas for the price of one drink of whiskey. For thirty pieces
of silver I would"--
"Oh, come now!" exclaimed the Captain in dismay. "You wouldn't do
that, Murray! I always thought that Kike's squeal on his boss was
about the lowest-down play that ever happened. A man that gives his
friend away is worse than a pirate."
Through the park stepped a large man scanning the benches where the
electric light fell.
"Is that you, Mac?" he said, halting before the derelicts. His
diamond stickpin dazzled. His diamond-studded fob chain assisted.
He was big and smooth and well fed. "Yes, I see it's you," he
continued. "They told me at Mike's that I might find you over here.
Let me see you a few minutes, Mac."
The Captain lifted himself with a grunt of alacrity. If Charlie
Finnegan had come down in the bottomless pit to seek him there must
be something doing. Charlie guided him by an arm into a patch of
"You know, Mac," he said, "they're trying Inspector Pickering on
"He was my inspector," said the Captain.
"O'Shea wants the job," went on Finnegan. "He must have it. It's for
the good of the organization. Pickering must go under. Your testimony
will do it. He was your 'man higher up' when you were on the force.
His share of the boodle passed through your hands. You must go on the
stand and testify against him."
"He was"--began the Captain.
"Wait a minute," said Finnegan. A bundle of yellowish stuff came out
of his inside pocket. "Five hundred dollars in it for you. Two-fifty
on the spot, and the rest"--
"He was my friend, I say," finished the Captain. "I'll see you and
the gang, and the city, and the party in the flames of Hades before
I'll take the stand against Dan Pickering. I'm down and out; but I'm
no traitor to a man that's been my friend." The Captain's voice rose
and boomed like a split trombone. "Get out of this park, Charlie
Finnegan, where us thieves and tramps and boozers are your betters;
and take your dirty money with you."
Finnegan drifted out by another walk. The Captain returned to his
"I couldn't avoid hearing," said Murray, drearily. "I think you are
the biggest fool I ever saw."
"What would you have done?" asked the Captain.
"Nailed Pickering to the cross," said Murray.
"Sonny," said the Captain, huskily and without heat. "You and me are
different. New York is divided into two parts--above Forty-second
street, and below Fourteenth. You come from the other part. We both
act according to our lights."
An illuminated clock above the trees retailed the information that
it lacked the half hour of twelve. Both men rose from the bench and
moved away together as if seized by the same idea. They left the
park, struck through a narrow cross street, and came into Broadway,
at this hour as dark, echoing and de-peopled as a byway in Pompeii.
Northward they turned; and a policeman who glanced at their unkempt
and slinking figures withheld the attention and suspicion that he
would have granted them at any other hour and place. For on every
street in that part of the city other unkempt and slinking figures
were shuffling and hurrying toward a converging point--a point that
is marked by no monument save that groove on the pavement worn by
tens of thousands of waiting feet.
At Ninth street a tall man wearing an opera hat alighted from a
Broadway car and turned his face westward. But he saw Murray,
pounced upon him and dragged him under a street light. The Captain
lumbered slowly to the corner, like a wounded bear, and waited,
"Jerry!" cried the hatted one. "How fortunate! I was to begin a
search for you to-morrow. The old gentleman has capitulated. You're
to be restored to favor. Congratulate you. Come to the office in the
morning and get all the money you want. I've liberal instructions in
"And the little matrimonial arrangement?" said Murray, with his head
"Why.--er--well, of course, your uncle understands--expects that
the engagement between you and Miss Vanderhurst shall be"--
"Good night," said Murray, moving away.
"You madman!" cried the other, catching his arm. "Would you give up
two millions on account of"--
"Did you ever see her nose, old man?" asked Murray, solemnly.
"But, listen to reason, Jerry. Miss Vanderhurst is an heiress,
"Did you ever see it?"
"Yes, I admit that her nose isn't"--
"Good night!" said Murray. "My friend is waiting for me. I am
quoting him when I authorize you to report that there is 'nothing
doing.' Good night."
A wriggling line of waiting men extended from a door in Tenth street
far up Broadway, on the outer edge of the pavement. The Captain and
Murray fell in at the tail of the quivering millipede.
"Twenty feet longer than it was last night," said Murray, looking up
at his measuring angle of Grace Church.
"Half an hour," growled the Captain, "before we get our punk."
The city clocks began to strike 12; the Bread Line moved forward
slowly, its leathern feet sliding on the stones with the sound of a
hissing serpent, as they who had lived according to their lights
closed up in the rear.
A MIDSUMMER KNIGHT'S DREAM
"The knights are dead;
Their swords are rust.
Except a few who have to hust-
Le all the time
To raise the dust."
Dear Reader: It was summertime. The sun glared down upon the city
with pitiless ferocity. It is difficult for the sun to be ferocious
and exhibit compunction simultaneously. The heat was--oh, bother
thermometers!--who cares for standard measures, anyhow? It was so
The roof gardens put on so many extra waiters that you could hope to
get your gin fizz now--as soon as all the other people got theirs.
The hospitals were putting in extra cots for bystanders. For when
little, woolly dogs loll their tongues out and say "woof, woof!"
at the fleas that bite 'em, and nervous old black bombazine ladies
screech "Mad dog!" and policemen begin to shoot, somebody is
going to get hurt. The man from Pompton, N.J., who always wears
an overcoat in July, had turned up in a Broadway hotel drinking
hot Scotches and enjoying his annual ray from the calcium.
Philanthropists were petitioning the Legislature to pass a bill
requiring builders to make tenement fire-escapes more commodious,
so that families might die all together of the heat instead of one
or two at a time. So many men were telling you about the number of
baths they took each day that you wondered how they got along after
the real lessee of the apartment came back to town and thanked 'em
for taking such good care of it. The young man who called loudly for
cold beef and beer in the restaurant, protesting that roast pullet
and Burgundy was really too heavy for such weather, blushed when he
met your eye, for you had heard him all winter calling, in modest
tones, for the same ascetic viands. Soup, pocketbooks, shirt waists,
actors and baseball excuses grew thinner. Yes, it was summertime.
A man stood at Thirty-fourth street waiting for a downtown car.
A man of forty, gray-haired, pink-faced, keen, nervous, plainly
dressed, with a harassed look around the eyes. He wiped his forehead
and laughed loudly when a fat man with an outing look stopped and
spoke with him.
"No, siree," he shouted with defiance and scorn. "None of your old
mosquito-haunted swamps and skyscraper mountains without elevators
for me. When I want to get away from hot weather I know how to do
it. New York, sir, is the finest summer resort in the country. Keep
in the shade and watch your diet, and don't get too far away from
an electric fan. Talk about your Adirondacks and your Catskills!
There's more solid comfort in the borough of Manhattan than in
all the rest of the country together. No, siree! No tramping up
perpendicular cliffs and being waked up at 4 in the morning by a
million flies, and eating canned goods straight from the city for
me. Little old New York will take a few select summer boarders;
comforts and conveniences of homes--that's the ad. that I answer
"You need a vacation," said the fat man, looking closely at the
other. "You haven't been away from town in years. Better come with
me for two weeks, anyhow. The trout in the Beaverkill are jumping at
anything now that looks like a fly. Harding writes me that he landed
a three-pound brown last week."
"Nonsense!" cried the other man. "Go ahead, if you like, and boggle
around in rubber boots wearing yourself out trying to catch fish.
When I want one I go to a cool restaurant and order it. I laugh at
you fellows whenever I think of you hustling around in the heat
in the country thinking you are having a good time. For me Father
Knickerbocker's little improved farm with the big shady lane running
through the middle of it."
The fat man sighed over his friend and went his way. The man who
thought New York was the greatest summer resort in the country
boarded a car and went buzzing down to his office. On the way he
threw away his newspaper and looked up at a ragged patch of sky
above the housetops.
"Three pounds!" he muttered, absently. "And Harding isn't a liar.
I believe, if I could--but it's impossible--they've got to have
another month--another month at least."
In his office the upholder of urban midsummer joys dived,
headforemost, into the swimming pool of business. Adkins, his clerk,
came and added a spray of letters, memoranda and telegrams.
At 5 o'clock in the afternoon the busy man leaned back in his office
chair, put his feet on the desk and mused aloud:
"I wonder what kind of bait Harding used."
* * * * * * *
She was all in white that day; and thereby Compton lost a bet to
Gaines. Compton had wagered she would wear light blue, for she knew
that was his favorite color, and Compton was a millionaire's son,
and that almost laid him open to the charge of betting on a sure
thing. But white was her choice, and Gaines held up his head with
twenty-five's lordly air.
The little summer hotel in the mountains had a lively crowd that
year. There were two or three young college men and a couple of
artists and a young naval officer on one side. On the other there
were enough beauties among the young ladies for the correspondent of
a society paper to refer to them as a "bevy." But the moon among the
stars was Mary Sewell. Each one of the young men greatly desired to
arrange matters so that he could pay her millinery bills, and fix
the furnace, and have her do away with the "Sewell" part of her name
forever. Those who could stay only a week or two went away hinting
at pistols and blighted hearts. But Compton stayed like the
mountains themselves, for he could afford it. And Gaines stayed
because he was a fighter and wasn't afraid of millionaire's sons,
and--well, he adored the country.
"What do you think, Miss Mary?" he said once. "I knew a duffer in
New York who claimed to like it in the summer time. Said you could
keep cooler there than you could in the woods. Wasn't he an awful
silly? I don't think I could breathe on Broadway after the 1st of
"Mamma was thinking of going back week after next," said Miss Mary
with a lovely frown.
"But when you think of it," said Gaines, "there are lots of jolly
places in town in the summer. The roof gardens, you know, and
the--er--the roof gardens."
Deepest blue was the lake that day--the day when they had the mock
tournament, and the men rode clumsy farm horses around in a glade in
the woods and caught curtain rings on the end of a lance. Such fun!
Cool and dry as the finest wine came the breath of the shadowed
forest. The valley below was a vision seen through an opal haze. A
white mist from hidden falls blurred the green of a hand's breadth
of tree tops half-way down the gorge. Youth made merry hand-in-hand
with young summer. Nothing on Broadway like that.
The villagers gathered to see the city folks pursue their mad
drollery. The woods rang with the laughter of pixies and naiads and
sprites. Gaines caught most of the rings. His was the privilege to
crown the queen of the tournament. He was the conquering knight--as
far as the rings went. On his arm he wore a white scarf. Compton
wore light blue. She had declared her preference for blue, but she
wore white that day.
Gaines looked about for the queen to crown her. He heard her merry
laugh, as if from the clouds. She had slipped away and climbed
Chimney Rock, a little granite bluff, and stood there, a white fairy
among the laurels, fifty feet above their heads.
Instantly he and Compton accepted the implied challenge. The bluff
was easily mounted at the rear, but the front offered small hold
to hand or foot. Each man quickly selected his route and began
to climb, A crevice, a bush, a slight projection, a vine or tree
branch--all of these were aids that counted in the race. It was
all foolery--there was no stake; but there was youth in it, cross
reader, and light hearts, and something else that Miss Clay writes
so charmingly about.
Gaines gave a great tug at the root of a laurel and pulled himself
to Miss Mary's feet. On his arm he carried the wreath of roses; and
while the villagers and summer boarders screamed and applauded below
he placed it on the queen's brow.
"You are a gallant knight," said Miss Mary.
"If I could be your true knight always," began Gaines, but Miss Mary
laughed him dumb, for Compton scrambled over the edge of the rock
one minute behind time.
What a twilight that was when they drove back to the hotel! The opal
of the valley turned slowly to purple, the dark woods framed the
lake as a mirror, the tonic air stirred the very soul in one. The
first pale stars came out over the mountain tops where yet a faint
* * * * * * *
"I beg your pardon, Mr. Gaines," said Adkins.
The man who believed New York to be the finest summer resort in the
world opened his eyes and kicked over the mucilage bottle on his
"I--I believe I was asleep," he said.
"It's the heat," said Adkins. "It's something awful in the city
"Nonsense!" said the other. "The city beats the country ten to one
in summer. Fools go out tramping in muddy brooks and wear themselves
out trying to catch little fish as long as your finger. Stay in town
and keep comfortable--that's my idea."
"Some letters just came," said Adkins. "I thought you might like to
glance at them before you go."
Let us look over his shoulder and read just a few lines of one of
MY DEAR, DEAR HUSBAND: Just received your letter ordering us to
stay another month . . . Rita's cough is almost gone . . . Johnny
has simply gone wild like a little Indian . . . Will be the
making of both children . . . work so hard, and I know that your
business can hardly afford to keep us here so long . . . best man
that ever . . . you always pretend that you like the city in
summer . . . trout fishing that you used to be so fond of . . .
and all to keep us well and happy . . . come to you if it were
not doing the babies so much good . . . I stood last evening on
Chimney Rock in exactly the same spot where I was when you put
the wreath of roses on my head . . . through all the world . . .
when you said you would be my true knight . . . fifteen years
ago, dear, just think! . . . have always been that to me . . .
ever and ever,
The man who said he thought New York the finest summer resort in the
country dropped into a café on his way home and had a glass of beer
under an electric fan.
"Wonder what kind of a fly old Harding used," he said to himself.
THE LAST LEAF
In a little district west of Washington Square the streets have run
crazy and broken themselves into small strips called "places." These
"places" make strange angles and curves. One street crosses itself
a time or two. An artist once discovered a valuable possibility in
this street. Suppose a collector with a bill for paints, paper and
canvas should, in traversing this route, suddenly meet himself
coming back, without a cent having been paid on account!
So, to quaint old Greenwich Village the art people soon came
prowling, hunting for north windows and eighteenth-century gables
and Dutch attics and low rents. Then they imported some pewter mugs
and a chafing dish or two from Sixth avenue, and became a "colony."
At the top of a squatty, three-story brick Sue and Johnsy had their
studio. "Johnsy" was familiar for Joanna. One was from Maine; the
other from California. They had met at the _table d'hote_ of an
Eighth street "Delmonico's," and found their tastes in art, chicory
salad and bishop sleeves so congenial that the joint studio
That was in May. In November a cold, unseen stranger, whom the
doctors called Pneumonia, stalked about the colony, touching one
here and there with his icy fingers. Over on the east side this
ravager strode boldly, smiting his victims by scores, but his feet
trod slowly through the maze of the narrow and moss-grown "places."
Mr. Pneumonia was not what you would call a chivalric old gentleman.
A mite of a little woman with blood thinned by California zephyrs
was hardly fair game for the red-fisted, short-breathed old duffer.
But Johnsy he smote; and she lay, scarcely moving, on her painted
iron bedstead, looking through the small Dutch window-panes at the
blank side of the next brick house.
One morning the busy doctor invited Sue into the hallway with a
shaggy, gray eyebrow.
"She has one chance in--let us say, ten," he said, as he shook down
the mercury in his clinical thermometer. "And that chance is for her
to want to live. This way people have of lining-up on the side of
the undertaker makes the entire pharmacopeia look silly. Your little
lady has made up her mind that she's not going to get well. Has she
anything on her mind?"
"She--she wanted to paint the Bay of Naples some day," said Sue.
"Paint?--bosh! Has she anything on her mind worth thinking about
twice--a man, for instance?"
"A man?" said Sue, with a jew's-harp twang in her voice. "Is a man
worth--but, no, doctor; there is nothing of the kind."
"Well, it is the weakness, then," said the doctor. "I will do all
that science, so far as it may filter through my efforts, can
accomplish. But whenever my patient begins to count the carriages
in her funeral procession I subtract 50 per cent. from the curative
power of medicines. If you will get her to ask one question about
the new winter styles in cloak sleeves I will promise you a
one-in-five chance for her, instead of one in ten."
After the doctor had gone Sue went into the workroom and cried a
Japanese napkin to a pulp. Then she swaggered into Johnsy's room
with her drawing board, whistling ragtime.
Johnsy lay, scarcely making a ripple under the bedclothes, with her
face toward the window. Sue stopped whistling, thinking she was
She arranged her board and began a pen-and-ink drawing to illustrate
a magazine story. Young artists must pave their way to Art by
drawing pictures for magazine stories that young authors write to
pave their way to Literature.
As Sue was sketching a pair of elegant horseshow riding trousers and
a monocle on the figure of the hero, an Idaho cowboy, she heard a
low sound, several times repeated. She went quickly to the bedside.
Johnsy's eyes were open wide. She was looking out the window and
"Twelve," she said, and a little later "eleven;" and then "ten," and
"nine;" and then "eight" and "seven," almost together.
Sue looked solicitously out the window. What was there to count?
There was only a bare, dreary yard to be seen, and the blank side of
the brick house twenty feet away. An old, old ivy vine, gnarled and
decayed at the roots, climbed half way up the brick wall. The cold
breath of autumn had stricken its leaves from the vine until its
skeleton branches clung, almost bare, to the crumbling bricks.
"What is it, dear?" asked Sue.
"Six," said Johnsy, in almost a whisper. "They're falling faster
now. Three days ago there were almost a hundred. It made my head
ache to count them. But now it's easy. There goes another one. There
are only five left now."
"Five what, dear. Tell your Sudie."
"Leaves. On the ivy vine. When the last one falls I must go, too.
I've known that for three days. Didn't the doctor tell you?"
"Oh, I never heard of such nonsense," complained Sue, with
magnificent scorn. "What have old ivy leaves to do with your getting
well? And you used to love that vine so, you naughty girl. Don't be
a goosey. Why, the doctor told me this morning that your chances for
getting well real soon were--let's see exactly what he said--he said
the chances were ten to one! Why, that's almost as good a chance as
we have in New York when we ride on the street cars or walk past a
new building. Try to take some broth now, and let Sudie go back to
her drawing, so she can sell the editor man with it, and buy port
wine for her sick child, and pork chops for her greedy self."
"You needn't get any more wine," said Johnsy, keeping her eyes fixed
out the window. "There goes another. No, I don't want any broth.
That leaves just four. I want to see the last one fall before it
gets dark. Then I'll go, too."
"Johnsy, dear," said Sue, bending over her, "will you promise me to
keep your eyes closed, and not look out the window until I am done
working? I must hand those drawings in by to-morrow. I need the
light, or I would draw the shade down."
"Couldn't you draw in the other room?" asked Johnsy, coldly.
"I'd rather be here by you," said Sue. "Besides I don't want you to
keep looking at those silly ivy leaves."
"Tell me as soon as you have finished," said Johnsy, closing her
eyes, and lying white and still as a fallen statue, "because I
want to see the last one fall. I'm tired of waiting. I'm tired of
thinking. I went to turn loose my hold on everything, and go sailing
down, down, just like one of those poor, tired leaves."
"Try to sleep," said Sue. "I must call Behrman up to be my model for
the old hermit miner. I'll not be gone a minute. Don't try to move
'till I come back."
Old Behrman was a painter who lived on the ground floor beneath
them. He was past sixty and had a Michael Angelo's Moses beard
curling down from the head of a satyr along the body of an imp.
Behrman was a failure in art. Forty years he had wielded the brush
without getting near enough to touch the hem of his Mistress's robe.
He had been always about to paint a masterpiece, but had never yet
begun it. For several years he had painted nothing except now and
then a daub in the line of commerce or advertising. He earned a
little by serving as a model to those young artists in the colony
who could not pay the price of a professional. He drank gin to
excess, and still talked of his coming masterpiece. For the rest he
was a fierce little old man, who scoffed terribly at softness in
any one, and who regarded himself as especial mastiff-in-waiting to
protect the two young artists in the studio above.
Sue found Behrman smelling strongly of juniper berries in his dimly
lighted den below. In one corner was a blank canvas on an easel that
had been waiting there for twenty-five years to receive the first
line of the masterpiece. She told him of Johnsy's fancy, and how she
feared she would, indeed, light and fragile as a leaf herself, float
away when her slight hold upon the world grew weaker.
Old Behrman, with his red eyes, plainly streaming, shouted his
contempt and derision for such idiotic imaginings.
"Vass!" he cried. "Is dere people in de world mit der foolishness
to die because leafs dey drop off from a confounded vine? I haf not
heard of such a thing. No, I will not bose as a model for your fool
hermit-dunderhead. Vy do you allow dot silly pusiness to come in der
prain of her? Ach, dot poor lettle Miss Johnsy."
"She is very ill and weak," said Sue, "and the fever has left her
mind morbid and full of strange fancies. Very well, Mr. Behrman, if
you do not care to pose for me, you needn't. But I think you are a
horrid old--old flibbertigibbet."
"You are just like a woman!" yelled Behrman. "Who said I will not
bose? Go on. I come mit you. For half an hour I haf peen trying to
say dot I am ready to bose. Gott! dis is not any blace in which
one so goot as Miss Yohnsy shall lie sick. Some day I vill baint a
masterpiece, and ve shall all go away. Gott! yes."
Johnsy was sleeping when they went upstairs. Sue pulled the shade
down to the window-sill, and motioned Behrman into the other room.
In there they peered out the window fearfully at the ivy vine.
Then they looked at each other for a moment without speaking. A
persistent, cold rain was falling, mingled with snow. Behrman, in
his old blue shirt, took his seat as the hermit-miner on an upturned
kettle for a rock.
When Sue awoke from an hour's sleep the next morning she found
Johnsy with dull, wide-open eyes staring at the drawn green shade.
"Pull it up; I want to see," she ordered, in a whisper.
Wearily Sue obeyed.
But, lo! after the beating rain and fierce gusts of wind that had
endured through the livelong night, there yet stood out against the
brick wall one ivy leaf. It was the last on the vine. Still dark
green near its stem, but with its serrated edges tinted with the
yellow of dissolution and decay, it hung bravely from a branch some
twenty feet above the ground.
"It is the last one," said Johnsy. "I thought it would surely fall
during the night. I heard the wind. It will fall to-day, and I shall
die at the same time."
"Dear, dear!" said Sue, leaning her worn face down to the pillow,
"think of me, if you won't think of yourself. What would I do?"
But Johnsy did not answer. The lonesomest thing in all the world is
a soul when it is making ready to go on its mysterious, far journey.
The fancy seemed to possess her more strongly as one by one the ties
that bound her to friendship and to earth were loosed.
The day wore away, and even through the twilight they could see the
lone ivy leaf clinging to its stem against the wall. And then, with
the coming of the night the north wind was again loosed, while the
rain still beat against the windows and pattered down from the low
When it was light enough Johnsy, the merciless, commanded that the
shade be raised.
The ivy leaf was still there.
Johnsy lay for a long time looking at it. And then she called to
Sue, who was stirring her chicken broth over the gas stove.
"I've been a bad girl, Sudie," said Johnsy. "Something has made that
last leaf stay there to show me how wicked I was. It is a sin to
want to die. You may bring me a little broth now, and some milk with
a little port in it, and--no; bring me a hand-mirror first, and then
pack some pillows about me, and I will sit up and watch you cook."
An hour later she said.
"Sudie, some day I hope to paint the Bay of Naples."
The doctor came in the afternoon, and Sue had an excuse to go into
the hallway as he left.
"Even chances," said the doctor, taking Sue's thin, shaking hand in
his. "With good nursing you'll win. And now I must see another case
I have downstairs. Behrman, his name is--some kind of an artist, I
believe. Pneumonia, too. He is an old, weak man, and the attack is
acute. There is no hope for him; but he goes to the hospital to-day
to be made more comfortable."
The next day the doctor said to Sue: "She's out of danger. You've
won. Nutrition and care now--that's all."
And that afternoon Sue came to the bed where Johnsy lay, contentedly
knitting a very blue and very useless woolen shoulder scarf, and put
one arm around her, pillows and all.
"I have something to tell you, white mouse," she said. "Mr. Behrman
died of pneumonia to-day in the hospital. He was ill only two days.
The janitor found him on the morning of the first day in his room
downstairs helpless with pain. His shoes and clothing were wet
through and icy cold. They couldn't imagine where he had been
on such a dreadful night. And then they found a lantern, still
lighted, and a ladder that had been dragged from its place, and some
scattered brushes, and a palette with green and yellow colors mixed
on it, and--look out the window, dear, at the last ivy leaf on the
wall. Didn't you wonder why it never fluttered or moved when the
wind blew? Ah, darling, it's Behrman's masterpiece--he painted it
there the night that the last leaf fell."
THE COUNT AND THE WEDDING GUEST
One evening when Andy Donovan went to dinner at his Second Avenue
boarding-house, Mrs. Scott introduced him to a new boarder, a young
lady, Miss Conway. Miss Conway was small and unobtrusive. She wore a
plain, snuffy-brown dress, and bestowed her interest, which seemed
languid, upon her plate. She lifted her diffident eyelids and shot
one perspicuous, judicial glance at Mr. Donovan, politely murmured
his name, and returned to her mutton. Mr. Donovan bowed with the
grace and beaming smile that were rapidly winning for him social,
business and political advancement, and erased the snuffy-brown one
from the tablets of his consideration.
Two weeks later Andy was sitting on the front steps enjoying his
cigar. There was a soft rustle behind and above him, and Andy turned
his head--and had his head turned.
Just coming out the door was Miss Conway. She wore a night-black
dress of _crêpe de_--_crêpe de_--oh, this thin black goods. Her hat
was black, and from it drooped and fluttered an ebon veil, filmy as
a spider's web. She stood on the top step and drew on black silk
gloves. Not a speck of white or a spot of color about her dress
anywhere. Her rich golden hair was drawn, with scarcely a ripple,
into a shining, smooth knot low on her neck. Her face was plain
rather than pretty, but it was now illuminated and made almost
beautiful by her large gray eyes that gazed above the houses across
the street into the sky with an expression of the most appealing
sadness and melancholy.
Gather the idea, girls--all black, you know, with the preference for
_crêpe de_--oh, _crêpe de Chine_--that's it. All black, and that
sad, faraway look, and the hair shining under the black veil (you
have to be a blonde, of course), and try to look as if, although
your young life had been blighted just as it was about to give a
hop-skip-and-a-jump over the threshold of life, a walk in the park
might do you good, and be sure to happen out the door at the right
moment, and--oh, it'll fetch 'em every time. But it's fierce, now,
how cynical I am, ain't it?--to talk about mourning costumes this
Mr. Donovan suddenly reinscribed Miss Conway upon the tablets of his
consideration. He threw away the remaining inch-and-a-quarter of his
cigar, that would have been good for eight minutes yet, and quickly
shifted his center of gravity to his low cut patent leathers.
"It's a fine, clear evening, Miss Conway," he said; and if the
Weather Bureau could have heard the confident emphasis of his tones
it would have hoisted the square white signal, and nailed it to the
"To them that has the heart to enjoy it, it is, Mr. Donovan," said
Miss Conway, with a sigh.
Mr. Donovan, in his heart, cursed fair weather. Heartless weather!
It should hail and blow and snow to be consonant with the mood of
"I hope none of your relatives--I hope you haven't sustained a
loss?" ventured Mr. Donovan.
"Death has claimed," said Miss Conway, hesitating--"not a relative,
but one who--but I will not intrude my grief upon you, Mr. Donovan."
"Intrude?" protested Mr. Donovan. "Why, say, Miss Conway, I'd be
delighted, that is, I'd be sorry--I mean I'm sure nobody could
sympathize with you truer than I would."
Miss Conway smiled a little smile. And oh, it was sadder than her
expression in repose.
"'Laugh, and the world laughs with you; weep, and they give you the
laugh,'" she quoted. "I have learned that, Mr. Donovan. I have no
friends or acquaintances in this city. But you have been kind to me.
I appreciate it highly."
He had passed her the pepper twice at the table.
"It's tough to be alone in New York--that's a cinch," said Mr.
Donovan. "But, say--whenever this little old town does loosen up and
get friendly it goes the limit. Say you took a little stroll in the
park, Miss Conway--don't you think it might chase away some of your
mullygrubs? And if you'd allow me--"
"Thanks, Mr. Donovan. I'd be pleased to accept of your escort if you
think the company of one whose heart is filled with gloom could be
anyways agreeable to you."
Through the open gates of the iron-railed, old, downtown park, where
the elect once took the air, they strolled, and found a quiet bench.
There is this difference between the grief of youth and that of old
age: youth's burden is lightened by as much of it as another shares;
old age may give and give, but the sorrow remains the same.
"He was my fiance," confided Miss Conway, at the end of an hour. "We
were going to be married next spring. I don't want you to think that
I am stringing you, Mr. Donovan, but he was a real Count. He had an
estate and a castle in Italy. Count Fernando Mazzini was his name.
I never saw the beat of him for elegance. Papa objected, of course,
and once we eloped, but papa overtook us, and took us back. I
thought sure papa and Fernando would fight a duel. Papa has a livery
business--in P'kipsee, you know."
"Finally, papa came 'round, all right, and said we might be married
next spring. Fernando showed him proofs of his title and wealth, and
then went over to Italy to get the castle fixed up for us. Papa's
very proud, and when Fernando wanted to give me several thousand
dollars for my trousseau he called him down something awful. He
wouldn't even let me take a ring or any presents from him. And when
Fernando sailed I came to the city and got a position as cashier in
a candy store."
"Three days ago I got a letter from Italy, forwarded from P'kipsee,
saying that Fernando had been killed in a gondola accident."
"That is why I am in mourning. My heart, Mr. Donovan, will remain
forever in his grave. I guess I am poor company, Mr. Donovan, but I
cannot take any interest in no one. I should not care to keep you
from gayety and your friends who can smile and entertain you.
Perhaps you would prefer to walk back to the house?"
Now, girls, if you want to observe a young man hustle out after a
pick and shovel, just tell him that your heart is in some other
fellow's grave. Young men are grave-robbers by nature. Ask any
widow. Something must be done to restore that missing organ to
weeping angels in _crêpe de Chine_. Dead men certainly get the worst
of it from all sides.
"I'm awfully sorry," said Mr. Donovan, gently. "No, we won't walk
back to the house just yet. And don't say you haven't no friends in
this city, Miss Conway. I'm awful sorry, and I want you to believe
I'm your friend, and that I'm awful sorry."
"I've got his picture here in my locket," said Miss Conway, after
wiping her eyes with her handkerchief. "I never showed it to
anybody; but I will to you, Mr. Donovan, because I believe you to be
a true friend."
Mr. Donovan gazed long and with much interest at the photograph
in the locket that Miss Conway opened for him. The face of Count
Mazzini was one to command interest. It was a smooth, intelligent,
bright, almost a handsome face--the face of a strong, cheerful man
who might well be a leader among his fellows.
"I have a larger one, framed, in my room," said Miss Conway. "When
we return I will show you that. They are all I have to remind me of
Fernando. But he ever will be present in my heart, that's a sure
A subtle task confronted Mr. Donovan,--that of supplanting the
unfortunate Count in the heart of Miss Conway. This his admiration
for her determined him to do. But the magnitude of the undertaking
did not seem to weigh upon his spirits. The sympathetic but cheerful
friend was the rôle he essayed; and he played it so successfully
that the next half-hour found them conversing pensively across two
plates of ice-cream, though yet there was no diminution of the
sadness in Miss Conway's large gray eyes.
Before they parted in the hall that evening she ran upstairs and
brought down the framed photograph wrapped lovingly in a white silk
scarf. Mr. Donovan surveyed it with inscrutable eyes.
"He gave me this the night he left for Italy," said Miss Conway. "I
had the one for the locket made from this."
"A fine-looking man," said Mr. Donovan, heartily. "How would it suit
you, Miss Conway, to give me the pleasure of your company to Coney
next Sunday afternoon?"
A month later they announced their engagement to Mrs. Scott and the
other boarders. Miss Conway continued to wear black.
A week after the announcement the two sat on the same bench in the
downtown park, while the fluttering leaves of the trees made a dim
kinetoscopic picture of them in the moonlight. But Donovan had worn
a look of abstracted gloom all day. He was so silent to-night that
love's lips could not keep back any longer the questions that love's
"What's the matter, Andy, you are so solemn and grouchy to-night?"
"I know better. Can't I tell? You never acted this way before. What
"It's nothing much, Maggie."
"Yes it is; and I want to know. I'll bet it's some other girl you
are thinking about. All right. Why don't you go get her if you want
her? Take your arm away, if you please."
"I'll tell you then," said Andy, wisely, "but I guess you won't
understand it exactly. You've heard of Mike Sullivan, haven't you?
'Big Mike' Sullivan, everybody calls him."
"No, I haven't," said Maggie. "And I don't want to, if he makes you
act like this. Who is he?"
"He's the biggest man in New York," said Andy, almost reverently.
"He can about do anything he wants to with Tammany or any other old
thing in the political line. He's a mile high and as broad as East
River. You say anything against Big Mike, and you'll have a million
men on your collarbone in about two seconds. Why, he made a visit
over to the old country awhile back, and the kings took to their
holes like rabbits.
"Well, Big Mike's a friend of mine. I ain't more than deuce-high in
the district as far as influence goes, but Mike's as good a friend
to a little man, or a poor man as he is to a big one. I met him
to-day on the Bowery, and what do you think he does? Comes up and
shakes hands. 'Andy,' says he, 'I've been keeping cases on you.
You've been putting in some good licks over on your side of the
street, and I'm proud of you. What'll you take to drink?" He takes a
cigar, and I take a highball. I told him I was going to get married
in two weeks. 'Andy,' says he, 'send me an invitation, so I'll keep
in mind of it, and I'll come to the wedding.' That's what Big Mike
says to me; and he always does what he says.
"You don't understand it, Maggie, but I'd have one of my hands
cut off to have Big Mike Sullivan at our wedding. It would be the
proudest day of my life. When he goes to a man's wedding, there's a
guy being married that's made for life. Now, that's why I'm maybe
looking sore to-night."
"Why don't you invite him, then, if he's so much to the mustard?"
said Maggie, lightly.
"There's a reason why I can't," said Andy, sadly. "There's a reason
why he mustn't be there. Don't ask me what it is, for I can't tell
"Oh, I don't care," said Maggie. "It's something about politics, of
course. But it's no reason why you can't smile at me."
"Maggie," said Andy, presently, "do you think as much of me as you
did of your--as you did of the Count Mazzini?"
He waited a long time, but Maggie did not reply. And then, suddenly
she leaned against his shoulder and began to cry--to cry and shake
with sobs, holding his arm tightly, and wetting the _crêpe de Chine_
"There, there, there!" soothed Andy, putting aside his own trouble.
"And what is it, now?"
"Andy," sobbed Maggie. "I've lied to you, and you'll never marry me,
or love me any more. But I feel that I've got to tell. Andy, there
never was so much as the little finger of a count. I never had a
beau in my life. But all the other girls had; and they talked about
'em; and that seemed to make the fellows like 'em more. And, Andy,
I look swell in black--you know I do. So I went out to a photograph
store and bought that picture, and had a little one made for my
locket, and made up all that story about the Count, and about his
being killed, so I could wear black. And nobody can love a liar, and
you'll shake me, Andy, and I'll die for shame. Oh, there never was
anybody I liked but you--and that's all."
But instead of being pushed away, she found Andy's arm folding her
closer. She looked up and saw his face cleared and smiling.
"Could you--could you forgive me, Andy?"
"Sure," said Andy. "It's all right about that. Back to the cemetery
for the Count. You've straightened everything out, Maggie. I was in
hopes you would before the wedding-day. Bully girl!"
"Andy," said Maggie, with a somewhat shy smile, after she had been
thoroughly assured of forgiveness, "did you believe all that story
about the Count?"
"Well, not to any large extent," said Andy, reaching for his cigar
case, "because it's Big Mike Sullivan's picture you've got in that
locket of yours."
THE COUNTRY OF ELUSION
The cunning writer will choose an indefinable subject, for he
can then set down his theory of what it is; and next, at length,
his conception of what it is not--and lo! his paper is covered.
Therefore let us follow the prolix and unmapable trail into that
mooted country, Bohemia.
Grainger, sub-editor of _Doc's Magazine_, closed his roll-top desk,
put on his hat, walked into the hall, punched the "down" button, and
waited for the elevator.
Grainger's day had been trying. The chief had tried to ruin the
magazine a dozen times by going against Grainger's ideas for running
it. A lady whose grandfather had fought with McClellan had brought a
portfolio of poems in person.
Grainger was curator of the Lion's House of the magazine. That day
he had "lunched" an Arctic explorer, a short-story writer, and the
famous conductor of a slaughter-house expose. Consequently his mind
was in a whirl of icebergs, Maupassant, and trichinosis.
But there was a surcease and a recourse; there was Bohemia. He would
seek distraction there; and, let's see--he would call by for Mary
Half an hour later he threaded his way like a Brazilian orchid-hunter
through the palm forest in the tiled entrance hall of the "Idealia"
apartment-house. One day the christeners of apartment-houses and the
cognominators of sleeping-cars will meet, and there will be some
jealous and sanguinary knifing.
The clerk breathed Grainger's name so languidly into the house
telephone that it seemed it must surely drop, from sheer inertia,
down to the janitor's regions. But, at length, it soared dilatorily
up to Miss Adrian's ear. Certainly, Mr. Grainger was to come up
A colored maid with an Eliza-crossing-the-ice expression opened
the door of the apartment for him. Grainger walked sideways down
the narrow hall. A bunch of burnt umber hair and a sea-green eye
appeared in the crack of a door. A long, white, undraped arm came
out, barring the way.
"So glad you came, Ricky, instead of any of the others," said
the eye. "Light a cigarette and give it to me. Going to take me
to dinner? Fine. Go into the front room till I finish dressing.
But don't sit in your usual chair. There's pie in it--Meringue.
Kappelman threw it at Reeves last evening while he was reciting.
Sophy has just come to straighten up. Is it lit? Thanks. There's
Scotch on the mantel--oh, no, it isn't,--that's chartreuse. Ask
Sophy to find you some. I won't be long."
Grainger escaped the meringue. As he waited his spirits sank still
lower. The atmosphere of the room was as vapid as a zephyr wandering
over a Vesuvian lava-bed. Relics of some feast lay about the room,
scattered in places where even a prowling cat would have been
surprised to find them. A straggling cluster of deep red roses in
a marmalade jar bowed their heads over tobacco ashes and unwashed
goblets. A chafing-dish stood on the piano; a leaf of sheet music
supported a stack of sandwiches in a chair.
Mary came in, dressed and radiant. Her gown was of that thin, black
fabric whose name through the change of a single vowel seems to
summon visions ranging between the extremes of man's experience.
Spelled with an "ê" it belongs to Gallic witchery and diaphanous
dreams; with an "a" it drapes lamentation and woe.
That evening they went to the Café André. And, as people would
confide to you in a whisper that André's was the only truly Bohemian
restaurant in town, it may be well to follow them.
André began his professional career as a waiter in a Bowery ten-cent
eating-house. Had you seen him there you would have called him
tough--to yourself. Not aloud, for he would have "soaked" you as
quickly as he would have soaked his thumb in your coffee. He saved
money and started a basement _table d'hote_ in Eighth (or Ninth)
Street. One afternoon André drank too much absinthe. He announced to
his startled family that he was the Grand Llama of Thibet, therefore
requiring an empty audience hall in which to be worshiped. He moved
all the tables and chairs from the restaurant into the back yard,
wrapped a red table-cloth around himself, and sat on a step-ladder
for a throne. When the diners began to arrive, madame, in a flurry of
despair, laid cloths and ushered them, trembling, outside. Between
the tables clothes-lines were stretched, bearing the family wash. A
party of Bohemia hunters greeted the artistic innovation with shrieks
and acclamations of delight. That week's washing was not taken in for
two years. When André came to his senses he had the menu printed on
stiffly starched cuffs, and served the ices in little wooden tubs.
Next he took down his sign and darkened the front of the house.
When you went there to dine you fumbled for an electric button and
pressed it. A lookout slid open a panel in the door, looked at you
suspiciously, and asked if you were acquainted with Senator Herodotus
Q. McMilligan, of the Chickasaw Nation. If you were, you were
admitted and allowed to dine. If you were not, you were admitted and
allowed to dine. There you have one of the abiding principles of
Bohemia. When André had accumulated $20,000 he moved up-town, near
Broadway, in the fierce light that beats upon the thrown-down.
There we find him and leave him, with customers in pearls and
automobile veils, striving to catch his excellently graduated nod
There is a large round table in the northeast corner of André's at
which six can sit. To this table Grainger and Mary Adrian made their
way. Kappelman and Reeves were already there. And Miss Tooker, who
designed the May cover for the _Ladies' Notathome Magazine_. And Mrs.
Pothunter, who never drank anything but black and white highballs,
being in mourning for her husband, who--oh, I've forgotten what he
did--died, like as not.
Spaghetti-weary reader, wouldst take one penny-in-the-slot peep into
the fair land of Bohemia? Then look; and when you think you have
seen it you have not. And it is neither thimbleriggery nor
The walls of the Café André were covered with original sketches by
the artists who furnished much of the color and sound of the place.
Fair woman furnished the theme for the bulk of the drawings. When
you say "sirens and siphons" you come near to estimating the
alliterative atmosphere of André's.
First, I want you to meet my friend, Miss Adrian. Miss Tooker and
Mrs. Pothunter you already know. While she tucks in the fingers of
her elbow gloves you shall have her daguerreotype. So faint and
uncertain shall the portrait be:
Age, somewhere between twenty-seven and highneck evening dresses.
Camaraderie in large bunches--whatever the fearful word may mean.
Habitat--anywhere from Seattle to Terra del Fuego. Temperament
uncharted--she let Reeves squeeze her hand after he recited one of
his poems; but she counted the change after sending him out with a
dollar to buy some pickled pig's feet. Deportment 75 out of a
possible 100. Morals 100.
Mary was one of the princesses of Bohemia. In the first place, it
was a royal and a daring thing to have been named Mary. There are
twenty Fifines and Heloises to one Mary in the Country of Elusion.
Now her gloves are tucked in. Miss Tooker has assumed a June poster
pose; Mrs. Pothunter has bitten her lips to make the red show;
Reeves has several times felt his coat to make sure that his latest
poem is in the pocket. (It had been neatly typewritten; but he has
copied it on the backs of letters with a pencil.) Kappelman is
underhandedly watching the clock. It is ten minutes to nine. When
the hour comes it is to remind him of a story. Synopsis: A French
girl says to her suitor: "Did you ask my father for my hand at nine
o'clock this morning, as you said you would?" "I did not," he.
replies. "At nine o'clock I was fighting a duel with swords in the
Bois de Boulogne." "Coward!" she hisses.
The dinner was ordered. You know how the Bohemian feast of reason
keeps up with the courses. Humor with the oysters; wit with the
soup; repartee with the entrée; brag with the roast; knocks for
Whistler and Kipling with the salad; songs with the coffee; the
slapsticks with the cordials.
Between Miss Adrian's eyebrows was the pucker that shows the intense
strain it requires to be at ease in Bohemia. Pat must come each
sally, _mot_, and epigram. Every second of deliberation upon a reply
costs you a bay leaf. Fine as a hair, a line began to curve from her
nostrils to her mouth. To hold her own not a chance must be missed.
A sentence addressed to her must be as a piccolo, each word of it
a stop, which she must be prepared to seize upon and play. And she
must always be quicker than a Micmac Indian to paddle the light
canoe of conversation away from the rocks in the rapids that flow
from the Pierian spring. For, plodding reader, the handwriting on
the wall in the banquet hall of Bohemia is "_Laisser faire_." The
gray ghost that sometimes peeps through the rings of smoke is that
of slain old King Convention. Freedom is the tyrant that holds them
As the dinner waned, hands reached for the pepper cruet rather
than for the shaker of Attic salt. Miss Tooker, with an elbow to
business, leaned across the table toward Grainger, upsetting her
glass of wine.
"Now while you are fed and in good humor," she said, "I want to
make a suggestion to you about a new cover."
"A good idea," said Grainger, mopping the tablecloth with his
napkin. "I'll speak to the waiter about it."
Kappelman, the painter, was the cut-up. As a piece of delicate
Athenian wit he got up from his chair and waltzed down the room
with a waiter. That dependent, no doubt an honest, pachydermatous,
worthy, tax-paying, art-despising biped, released himself from
the unequal encounter, carried his professional smile back to the
dumb-waiter and dropped it down the shaft to eternal oblivion.
Reeves began to make Keats turn in his grave. Mrs. Pothunter told
the story of the man who met the widow on the train. Miss Adrian
hummed what is still called a _chanson_ in the cafés of Bridgeport.
Grainger edited each individual effort with his assistant editor's
smile, which meant: "Great! but you'll have to send them in through
the regular channels. If I were the chief now--but you know how it
And soon the head waiter bowed before them, desolated to relate that
the closing hour had already become chronologically historical; so
out all trooped into the starry midnight, filling the street with
gay laughter, to be barked at by hopeful cabmen and enviously eyed
by the dull inhabitants of an uninspired world.
Grainger left Mary at the elevator in the trackless palm forest of
the Idealia. After he had gone she came down again carrying a small
hand-bag, 'phoned for a cab, drove to the Grand Central Station,
boarded a 12.55 commuter's train, rode four hours with her
burnt-umber head bobbing against the red-plush back of the seat,
and landed during a fresh, stinging, glorious sunrise at a deserted
station, the size of a peach crate, called Crocusville.
She walked a mile and clicked the latch of a gate. A bare, brown
cottage stood twenty yards back; an old man with a pearl-white,
Calvinistic face and clothes dyed blacker than a raven in a
coal-mine was washing his hands in a tin basin on the front porch.
"How are you, father?" said Mary timidly.
"I am as well as Providence permits, Mary Ann. You will find your
mother in the kitchen."
In the kitchen a cryptic, gray woman kissed her glacially on the
forehead, and pointed out the potatoes which were not yet peeled for
breakfast. Mary sat in a wooden chair and decorticated spuds, with a
thrill in her heart.
For breakfast there were grace, cold bread, potatoes, bacon, and
"You are pursuing the same avocation in the city concerning which
you have advised us from time to time by letter, I trust," said her
"Yes," said Mary, "I am still reviewing books for the same
After breakfast she helped wash the dishes, and then all three sat
in straight-back chairs in the bare-floored parlor.