Part 3 out of 12
Kedzie and Tommie enjoyed a cozy betrothal. He was busy at his shop,
and she was busy at hers. They did not see much of each other, and
that made for the prosperity of their love. They talked a great deal
of marriage, but it seemed expedient to wait till one or the other
acquired a raise of wage. The Silsby dancers were playing at cut
salaries in accord with the summer schedules, and business was very
light at the advertising agency.
The last week the troupe was playing at the Bronx Opera House, and
there Skip Magruder chanced to see her--to see more of her than he
had ever expected to on the hither side of matrimony.
His old love came back with a tidal rush, and he sent her a note
written with care in a barroom--or so Kedzie judged from the beery
fragrance of it. It said:
DEAR ANITA,--Was considerable supprise to see you to-night as didn't
know you was working in vawdvul and as I have been very loansome
for you thought would ask you would you care to take supper after
show with your loveing admirror and friend will wait for anser at
stage door hopping to see you for Old Lang's Sign.
PATRICK X. MAGRUDER--"SKIP."
Kedzie did not read this letter to the gang of nymphs. She blushed
bitterly and mumbled, "Well, of all the nerve!" After some hesitation
she wrote on Skip's note the "scatting" words, _"Nothing doing"_
and sent it back by the dismal stage doorkeeper.
She had hoped Skip would have the decency to go away and die quietly
and not hang round to see her leave with Mr. Gilfoyle. Skip had
a hitch in one leg, but Mr. Gilfoyle had a touch of writer's cramp,
and Kedzie had no desire to see the result of a conflict between two
such victims of unpreparedness.
She forgot both rivals in the excitement of a sudden incursion
of Miss Silsby, who came crying:
"Oh, girls, girls, what Do you sup-Pose has Happened? I have been
en-Gaged to give my dances at Noxon's--old Mrs. Noxon's, in Newport."
Miss Silsby always used the first person singular, though she never
danced; and if she had, in the costume of her charges, the effect
would have been a fatal satire.
By now Kedzie was familiar enough with names of great places
to realize the accolade. To be recognized by the Noxons was to
be patented by royalty. And Newport was Mecca.
The pilgrimage thither was a voyage of discovery with all
an explorer's zest. Her first view of the city disappointed her,
but her education had progressed so far that she was able to call
the pleasant, crooked streets of the older towns "picturesque."
A person who is able to murmur "How picturesque!" has made progress
in snobbical education. Kedzie murmured, "How picturesque!" when
she saw the humbler portions of Newport.
But there was a poignant sincerity in her admiration of the homes
of the rich. Bad taste with ostentation moved her as deeply as true
stateliness. Her heart made outcry for experience of opulence. She
now despised the palaces of New York because they had no yards.
Newport houses had parks. Newport was the next candy-shop she wanted
to work in.
The splendor of the visit was dimmed for her, however, when she
learned that she would not be permitted to swim at Bailey's Beach.
Immediately she felt that swimming anywhere else was contemptible.
Still, she was seeing Newport, and she could not tell what swagger
fate might now be within reach of her hands--or her feet, rather--for
Kedzie was gaining her golden apples not by clutching at them, but by
kicking them off the tree of opportunity with her carefully manicured
Also she said "swagger" now instead of "classy" or "swell." Also she
forgot to telegraph Tommie Gilfoyle, as she promised, of her safe
arrival. Also she was too busy to write to him that first night.
When Prissy Atterbury started the gossip rolling that he had seen
Jim Dyckman enter the Grand Central Terminal alone and wait for
Charity Coe Cheever to come from the same train it did not take
long for the story to roll on to Newport. By then it was a pretty
definite testimony of guilt in a vile intrigue. When Mrs. Noxon
announced her charity circus people wondered if even she would dare
include Mrs. Cheever on her bead-roll. The afternoon was for guests;
the evening was for the public at five dollars a head.
One old crony of Charity's, a Mrs. Platen, revived the story for
Mrs. Noxon at the time when she was editing the list of invitations
for the afternoon. Mrs. Noxon seemed to be properly shocked.
"Of course, you'll not invite her now," said Mrs. Platen.
"Not invite her!" Mrs. Noxon snorted. "I'll invite her twice. In
the first place, I don't believe it of Charity Coe. I knew her mother.
In the second, if it's true, what of it? Charity Coe has done so much
good that she has a right to do no end of bad to balance her books."
To emphasize her support, Mrs. Noxon insisted on Charity Coe's coming
to her as a house-guest for a week before the fête. This got into all
the papers and redeemed Charity's good name amazingly. Perhaps Jim
Dyckman saw it in the papers. At least he and his yacht drifted into
the harbor the day of the affair. Of course he had an invitation.
The Noxon affair was the usual thing, only a little more so. People
dressed themselves as costlily as they could, for hours beforehand
--then spent a half-hour or more fuming in a carriage-and-motor
tangle waiting to arrive at the entrance, while the heat sweat all
the starch out of themselves and their clothes.
A constant flood poured in upon Mrs. Noxon, or tried to find her
at the receiving-post. She was usually not there. She was like
a general running a big battle. She had to gallop to odd spots
now and then.
The tradition of her selectness received a severe strain in the
presence of such hordes of guests. They trod on one another's toes,
tripped on one another's parasols, beg-pardoned with ill-restrained
wrath, failed to get near enough to see the sights, stood on tiptoe
or bent down to peer through elbows like children outside a
The entertainment was vaudeville disguised by expense. It was not
easy to hold the attention of those surfeited eyes and ears. Actors
and actresses of note almost perished with wrath and humiliation
at the indifference to their arts. Loud laughter from the back rows
broke in at the wrong time, and appalling silences greeted the times
The fame, or notoriety, of the Silsby dancers attracted a part of
the throng to the marble swimming-pool and the terraced fountain
with its deluged statuary. Jim Dyckman and Charity Coe suddenly
found themselves together. They hated it, but they could not easily
escape. Jim felt that all eyes were bulging out at them. He had
murder in his heart.
There was the usual delay, the frank impatience and leg-fag of people
unused to standing about except at receptions and dressmakers'.
Finally the snobbish string-orchestra from Boston, which played only
the most exclusive music, began to tune up, and at length, after much
mysterious wigwagging of signals to play, it played a hunting-piece.
Suddenly from the foliage came what was supposed to be a startled
nymph. The spectators were startled, too, for a moment, for her
costume was amazing. Even on Bailey's Beach it would have attracted
Kedzie was the nymph. She was making her début into great society.
What would her mother have said if she could have seen her there?
Her father would have said nothing. He would have fainted
unobtrusively, for the first time in his life.
Kedzie was scared. She had stage-fright of all these great people
so overdressed when she was not even underclothed.
"Poor little thing!" said Charity, and began to applaud to cheer her
up. She nudged Jim. "Come on, help her out. Isn't she beautiful?"
"Is she?" said Jim, applauding.
It did not seem right to praise one woman's beauty to another. It
was like praising one author's work to another, or praising another
preacher's sermon to a preacher's face.
Still, Jim had to admit that Kedzie was pretty. Suddenly he wanted
to torment Charity, and so he exclaimed:
"You're right, she is a little corker, a very pleasant dream!" Anger
at Charity snatched away the blindfold which is another name for
fidelity. Scales fell from his eyes, and he saw truth in nakedness.
He saw beauty everywhere. All about him were beautiful women in rich
costume. He saw that beauty is not a matter of opinion, a decision
of love's, but a happening to be regular or curvilinear or warm of
color or hospitable in expression.
Particularly he saw the beauty of Kedzie. There was more of her
to see than of those other women behind their screens of silk and
lace and linen. His infatuation for Charity Coe had befuddled him,
wrapped him in a fog through which all other women passed like
swaddled figures. He felt free now.
Over Charity's shoulder and through the spray of the goura on
her hat he saw Kedzie sharp and stark, her suavities of line and
the milk-smooth fabric of her envelope. He studied Kedzie with
emancipation, not seeing Charity at all any more--nor she him.
For Charity studied Kedzie, too. She felt academically the delight
of the girl's beauty, a statue coming to life, or a living being
going back into statue--Galatea in one phase or the other. She felt
the delight of the girl's successful drawing. She smiled to behold
it. Then her smile drooped, for the words of the old song came back
crooning the ancient regret:
How small a part of time they share--
There was elegy now in Kedzie's graces. Youth was of their essence,
and youth shakes off like the dust on the moth's wing. Youth is gone
at a touch.
In her sorrow she turned to look up at Jim. She was shocked to
see how attentively he regarded Kedzie. He startled her by the
fascination in his mien. She looked again at Kedzie.
Somehow the girl immediately grew ugly--or what beauty she had was
that of a poisonous snake. And she looked common, too. Who else but
a common creature would come out on a lawn thus unclothed for a few
She looked again at Jim Dyckman, and he was not what he had been. He
was as changed as the visions in Lewis Carroll's poem. She saw that
he had his common streak, too: he was mere man, animal, temptable.
But she forgave him. Curiously, he grew more valuable since she felt
that she was losing him.
There was an impatient shaking at her breast. In anybody else she
would have called it jealousy. This astounded her, made her afraid
of herself and of him. What right had she to be jealous of anybody
but Peter Cheever? She felt that she was more indecent than Kedzie.
She bowed her head and blushed. Scales fell from her eyes also. She
was like Eve after the apple had taught her what she was. She wanted
to hide. But she could not break through the crowd. She must stand
and watch the dance through.
All this brief while Kedzie had stood wavering. There had been
a hitch somewhere. The other nymphs were delayed in their entrance.
One of them had stepped on a thorny rose and another had ripped her
tunic--she came in at last with a safety-pin to protect her from
the law; but then, safety-pins are among the primeval inventions.
According to the libretto, the wood-nymphs, terrified by a hunting-
party, ran to take refuge with the water-nymphs. The water-nymphs
were late likewise. The dryads came suddenly through Mrs. Noxon's
imported shrubs, puncturing them with rhythmic attitudes. These lost
something of their poetry from being held so long that equilibria
were lost foolishly.
Finally, the water-sprites came forth from cleverly managed
concealment in a bower and stood mid-thigh in the water about
the fountain. They attitudinized also, with a kind of childish
poetry that did not quite convince, for the fountain rained on
them, and some of them shivered as cold gouts of water smote their
shoulder-blades. One little Yiddish nymph gasped, "Oi, oi!" which
was perfect Greek, though she didn't know it. Neither did anybody
else. Several people snickered.
The hunting-music died away, and the wood-nymphs decided not to go
into the water home; instead, they implored the water-nymphs to come
forth from their liquid residence. But the water-nymphs refused.
The dryads tried to lure them with gestures and dances. It was all
dreadfully puerile, and yet somehow worth while.
The wood-nymphs wreathed a human chain about the marge of the pool.
Unfortunately the marble had been splashed in spots by the fountain
spray, and it was on the slipperiest of the spots that Kedzie had to
execute a pirouette.
Her pivotal foot slid; the other stabbed down in a wild effort
to restore her balance. It slipped. She knew that she was gone.
She made frenzied clutches at the air, but it would not sustain her.
She was strangely sincere now in her gestures. The crowd laughed--
then stopped short.
It was funny till it looked as if the nymph might be hurt. Jim
Dyckman darted forward to save her. He knocked Charity aside roughly
and did not know it. He arrived too late to catch Kedzie.
Kedzie sat into the pool with great violence. The spray she cast up
fatally spotted several delicate robes. That would have been of some
consolation to Kedzie if she had known it. But all she knew was that
she went backward into the wrong element. Her wrath was greater than
Her head went down: she swallowed a lot of water, and when she kicked
herself erect at last she was half strangled, entirely drenched, and
quite blinded. The other nymphs, wood and water, giggled and shook
with sisterly affection.
Kedzie was the wettest dryad that ever was. She stumbled forward,
groping. Jim Dyckman bent, slipped his hands under her arms,
and hoisted her to land. He felt ludicrous, but his chivalry was
Kedzie was so angry at herself and everybody else that she flung
off his hands and snapped, "Quit it, dog on it!"
Jim Dyckman quit it. He had for his pains an insult and a suit
of clothes so drenched that he had to go back to his yacht, running
the gantlet of a hundred ridicules.
When he vanished Kedzie found herself in garments doubly clinging
from being soaked. She was ashamed now, and hid her face in her arm.
Charity Coe took pity on her, and before the jealous Charity could
check the generous Charity she had stepped forward and thrown about
the girl's shoulders a light wrap she carried. She led the child to
the other wood-nymphs, and they took her back into the shrubbery.
"Wait till you hear what Miss Silsby's gotta say!" said one dryad,
and another added:
"Woisse than that is this: you know who that was you flang out at
"I don't know, and I don't care," sobbed Kedzie.
"You would care if you was wise to who His Nibs was!"
"Who was it?" Kedzie gasped.
"Jim Dyckman--no less! You was right in his arms, and you hadda go
an' biff him."
"Oh, Lord!" sighed Kedzie. "I'll never do." She was thinking that
destiny had tossed her into the very arms of the aristocracy and
she had been fool enough to fight her way out.
Jim Dyckman, meanwhile, was clambering into his car with clothes
and ardor dampened. He was swearing to cut out the whole herd of
And Charity Coe Cheever was chattering flippantly with a group of
the dispersing audience, while her heart was in throes of dismay
at her own feelings and Jim Dyckman's.
THE SECOND BOOK
MRS. TOMMIE GILFOYLE HAS HER PICTURE TAKEN
The scene was like one of the overcrowded tapestries of the
Middle Ages. At the top was the Noxon palace, majestic, serene,
self-confident in the correctness of its architecture and not
afraid even of the ocean outspread below.
The house looked something like Mrs. Noxon at her best. Just now she
was at her worst. She stood by her marble pool and glared at her mob
of guests dispersing in knots of laughter and indifference. There
were hundreds of men and women of all ages and sizes, and almost all
of them were startling the summer of 1915 with the fashion-plates
Mrs. Noxon turned from them to the dispersing nymphs of Miss Silsby's
troupe. The nymphs were dressed in the fashion of 916 B.C. They also
were laughing and snickering, as they sauntered toward the clump
of trees and shrubs which masked their dressing-tent. One of them
was not laughing--Kedzie. She was slinking along in wet clothes and
doused pride. The beautiful wrap that Mrs. Charity Cheever had flung
about her she had let fall and drag in a damp mess.
Mrs. Noxon was tempted to hobble after Kedzie and smack her for
her outrageous mishap. But she could not afford the luxury. She must
laugh with her guests. She marched after them to take her medicine
of raillery more or less concealed as they went to look at the other
sideshows and permit themselves to be robbed handsomely for charity.
Kedzie was afraid to meet Miss Silsby, but there was no escape.
The moment the shrubs closed behind her she fell into the ambush.
Miss Silsby was shrill with rage and scarlet in the face. She swore,
and she looked as if she would scratch.
"You miserable little fool!" she began. "You ought to be whipped
within an inch of your life. You have ruined me! It was the biggest
chance of my career. I should have been a made woman if it hadn't
been for you. Now I shall be the joke of the world!"
"Please, Miss Silsby," Kedzie protested, "if you please, Miss
Silsby--I didn't mean to fall into the water. I'm as sorry as
I can be."
"What good does it do me for you to be sorry? I'm the one to be
sorry. I should think you would have had more sense than to do
such a thing!"
"How could I help it, dog on it!" Kedzie retorted, her anger
"Help it? Are you a dancer or are you a cow?"
Kedzie quivered as if she had been lashed. She struck back with
her best Nimrim repartee, "You're a nice one to call me a cow,
you big, fat, old lummox!"
Miss Silsby fairly mooed at this.
"You--you insolent little rat, you! You--oh, you--you! I'll never
let you dance for me again--never!"
"I'd better resign, then, I suppose," said Kedzie.
"Resign? How dare you resign! You're fired! That's how you'll resign.
You're fired! The impudence of her! She turns my life-work into
a laughing-stock and then says she'd better resign!"
"How about to-night?" Kedzie put in, dazed.
"Never you mind about to-night. I'll get along without you if
I have to dance myself."
The other nymphs shook under this, like corn-stalks in a wind.
But Kedzie was a statuette of pathos. She stood cowering barelegged
before Miss Silsby, fully clothed in everything but her right mind.
There was nothing Grecian about Miss Silsby except the Medusa glare,
and that turned Kedzie into stone. She finished her tirade by
thrusting some money into Kedzie's hand and clamoring:
"Get into your clothes and get out of my sight."
Rage made Miss Silsby generous. She paid Kedzie an extra week and
her fare to New York. Kedzie had no pocket to put her money in. She
carried it in her hand and laid it on the table in the tent as she
bent to whip her lithe form out of her one dripping garment.
The other nymphs followed her into the tent and made a Parthenonian
frieze as they writhed out of their tunics and into their petticoats.
They gathered about Kedzie in an ivory cluster and murmured their
sympathy--Miss Silsby not being within ear-shot.
Kedzie blubbered bitterly as she glided into her everyday things,
hooking her corsets askew, drawing her stockings up loosely, and
lacing her boots all wrong. She was still jolted with sobs as she
pushed the hat-pins home in her traveling-hat.
She kissed the other girls good-by. They were sorry to see her go,
now that she was going. And she was very sorry to go, now that she
If she had lingered awhile Miss Silsby would have found her there
when she relented from sheer exhaustion of wrath, and would have
restored her to favor. But Kedzie had stolen away in craven
To reach the trade-entrance Kedzie had to skirt the accursed pool of
her destruction. Charity Coe was near it, seated on a marble bench
alone. She was pensive with curious thoughts. She heard Kedzie's
childish snivel as she passed. Charity looked up, recognized the
girl with difficulty, and after a moment's hesitation called to her:
"What's the matter, you poor child? Come here! What's wrong?"
Kedzie suffered herself to be checked. She dropped on the bench
alongside Charity and wailed:
"I fell into that damn' pool, and I've lost my jah-ob!"
Charity patted the shaken back a moment, and said, "But there are
other jobs, aren't there?"
"I don't know of any."
"Well, I'll find you one, my dear, if you'll only smile. You have
such a pretty smile."
"How do you know?" Kedzie queried, giving her a sample of her best.
Charity laughed. "See! That proves it. You are a darling, and too
pretty to lack for a job. Give me your address, and I'll get you
a better place than you lost. I promise you."
Kedzie ransacked her hand-bag and found a printed card, crumpled
and rouge-stained. She poked it at Charity, who read and commented:
"Miss Anita Adair, eh? Such a pretty name! And the address, my
dear--if you don't mind. I am Mrs. Cheever."
"Oh, are you!" Kedzie exclaimed. "I've heard of you. Pleased to
Then Kedzie whimpered, and Charity wrote the address and repeated
her assurances. She also gave Kedzie her own card and asked her to
write to her. That seemed to end the interview, and so Kedzie rose
and said: "Much obliged. I guess I gotta go now. G'-by!"
"Good-by," said Charity. "I'll not forget you."
Kedzie moved on humbly. She looked back. Charity had fallen again
into a listless reverie. She seemed sad. Kedzie wondered what on
earth she could have to be sorry about. She had money and a husband,
and she was swagger.
Kedzie slipped through the gate out to the road. She did not dare
hire a carriage, now that she was jobless. She wished she had not
left paradise. But she dared not try to return. She was not "classy"
enough. Suddenly a spasm of resentment shook the girl.
She felt the hatred of the rich that always set Tommie Gilfoyle afire.
What right had such people to such majesty when Kedzie must walk?
What right had they to homes and yards so big that it tired Kedzie
out just to trudge past? Who was this Mrs. Cheever, that she should
be so top-lofty and bend-downy? Kedzie ground her teeth in anger and
tore Charity's card to bits. She flung them at the sea, but the wind
brought them back about her face stingingly. She walked on, loathing
the very motors that flashed by, flocks of geese squawking contempt.
She walked and walked and walked. The overpowering might of the big
houses in their green demesnes made her feel smaller and wearier, but
big with bitterness. She would have been glad to have a suit-case
full of bombs to blow those snobbish residences into flinders.
She was dog tired when, after losing her way again and again, she
reached the boarding-house where the dancers lodged. She packed
her things and went to the train, lugging her own baggage. When she
reached the station she was footsore, heartsore, soulsore. Her only
comfort was that the Silsby dancers had been placed early enough
on Mrs. Noxon's program for her to have failed in time to get home
the same day. She hated Newport now. It had not been good to her.
New York was home once more.
"When's the next train to New York?" she asked a porter.
"It's wint," said the porter. "Wint at four-five."
"I said when's the next train," Kedzie snapped.
"T'-marra' marnin'," said the porter.
"My Gawd!" said Kedzie. "Have I gotta spend the night in this hole?"
The porter stared. He was not used to hearing Mecca called a hole.
"Well, if it's that bad," he grinned, "you might take the five-five
to Providence and pick up the six-forty there. But you'll have to
git a move on."
Kedzie got a move on. The train swept her out along the edge of
Rhode Island. She knew nothing of its heroic history. She cared
nothing for its heroic splendor. She thought of it only as the
stronghold of an embattled aristocracy. She did not blame Miss
Silsby for her disgrace, nor herself. She blamed the audience,
as other actors and authors and politicians do. She blazed with
the merciless hatred of the rich that poor people feel when they
are thwarted in their efforts to rival or cultivate or sell to
the rich. Their own sins they forget as absolved, because the
sins have failed. It is the success of sin and the sin of success
that cannot be forgiven.
The little dancer whose foot had slipped on the wet marble of
wealth was shaken almost to pieces by philosophic vibrations too
big for her exquisite frame. They reminded her of her poet, of
Tommie Gilfoyle, who was afraid of her and paid court to her.
He appeared to her now as a radiant angel of redemption. From
Providence she telegraphed him that she would arrive at New York
at eleven-fifteen, and he would meet her if he loved her.
This done, she went to the lunch-counter, climbed on a tall stool,
and bought herself a cheap dinner. She was paying for it out of
her final moneys, and her brain once more told her stomach that
it would have to be prudent. She swung aboard the train when it
came in, and felt as secure as a lamb with a good shepherd on the
horizon. When she grew drowsy she curled up on the seat and slept
Her invasion of Newport was over and done--disastrously done, she
thought; but its results were just beginning for Jim Dyckman and
Eventually Kedzie reached the Grand Central Terminal--a much
different Kedzie from the one that once followed her father and
mother up that platform to that concourse! Her very name was
different, and her mind had learned multitudes of things good
and bad. She had a young man waiting for her--a poet, a socialist,
a worshiper. Her heavy suit-case could not detain her steps. She
dragged it as a little sloop drags its anchor in a gale.
Gilfoyle was waiting for her at the barrier. He bent to snatch
the suit-case from her and snatched a kiss at the same time. His
bravery thrilled her; his gallantry comforted her immeasurably.
She was so proud of herself and of him that she wasted never a
glance at the powdered gold on the blue ceiling.
"I'm terrible glad to see you, Tommie," she said.
"Are you? Honest?" he chortled.
They jostled into each other and the crowd.
"I'm awful hungry, though," she said, "and I've got oodles of
things to tell you."
"Let's eat," he said. They went to the all-night dairy restaurant
in the Terminal. He led her to one of the broad-armed chairs and
fetched her dainties--a triangle of apple pie, a circle of cruller,
and a cylinder of milk.
She leaned across the arm of the chair and told him of her mishaps.
He was so enraged that he knocked a plate to the floor. She snatched
the cruller off just in time to save it, and the room echoed
They talked and talked until she was talked out, and it was
midnight. He began to worry about the hour. It was a long ride
on the Subway and then a long walk to her boarding-house and then
a long walk and a long ride to his.
"I hate to go back to that awful Jambers woman and let her know
I'm fired," Kedzie moaned. "My trunk's in storage, anyhow, and
maybe she's got no room."
"Why go back?" said Tommie, not realizing the import of his words.
It was merely his philosophical habit to ask every custom "Why?"
"Where else is there to go to?" she sighed.
"If we were only married--" he sighed.
"As we ought to be!"
"Why, Tommie Gilfoyle!"
And now he was committed. As when he wrote poetry the grappling-hooks
of rhyme dragged him into statements he had not dreamed of at
the start and was afraid of at the finish--so now he stumbled into
a proposal he could not clamber out of. He must flounder through.
The idea was so deliriously unexpected, so fascinatingly novel to
Kedzie, that she fell in love with it. Immediately she would rather
have died than remain unmarried to Tommie Gilfoyle.
But there were difficulties.
In the good old idyllic days it had been possible for romantic
youth to get married as easily as to get dinner--and as hard to get
unmarried as to get wings. Couples who spooned too long at seaside
resorts and missed the last train home could wake up a preacher and
be united in indissoluble bonds of holy matrimony for two dollars.
The preachers of that day slept light, in order to save the
reputations of foolish virgins.
But now a greedy and impertinent civil government had stepped in
and sacrilegiously insisted on having a license bought and paid for
before the Church could officiate. And the license bureau was not
open all night, as it should have been.
Kedzie knew nothing of this, but Gilfoyle was informed. Theoretically
he believed that marriage should be rendered impossible and divorce
easy. But he could no more have proposed an informal alliance with
his precious Kedzie than he could have wished that his mother had
made one with his father. His mother and father had eloped and been
married by a sleepy preacher, but that was poetic and picturesque,
seeing that they did not fail to wake the preacher. Gilfoyle's
reverence for Kedzie demanded at least as much sanctity about his
union with her.
It is curious how habits complicate life. Here were two people whom
it would greatly inconvenience to separate. Yet just because it was
a custom to close the license bureau in the late afternoon they
must wait half a night while the license clerk slept and snored,
or played cards or read detective stories or did whatever license
clerks do between midnight and office hours. And just because people
habitually crawl into bed and sleep between midnight and forenoon,
these two lovers were already finding it hard to keep awake in spite
of all their exaltation. They simply must sleep. Romance could wait.
Gilfoyle knew that there were places enough where Kedzie and he
could go and have no questions asked except, "Have you got baggage,
or will you pay in advance?" But he would not take his Kedzie to
any such place, any more than he would leave a chalice in a saloon
In their drowsy brains projects danced sparklingly, but they could
find nothing to do except to part for the eternity of the remnant
of the night. So Gilfoyle escorted Kedzie to the Hotel Belmont door,
and told her to say she was an actress arrived on a late train. He
stood off at a distance while he saw that she registered and was
respectfully treated and led to the elevator by a page.
Then he moved west to the Hotel Manhattan and found shelter. And
thus they slept with propriety, Forty-second Street lying between
them like a sword.
The alarm-clock in Gilfoyle's head woke him at seven. He hated to
interrupt Kedzie's sleep, but he was afraid of his boss and he needed
his salary more than ever--twice as much as ever. He telephoned from
his room to Kedzie's room down the street and up ten stories and was
comforted to find that he woke her out of a sleep so sound that he
could hardly understand her words. But he eventually made sure that
she would make haste to dress and meet him in the restaurant.
They breakfasted together at half past eight. Kedzie was aglow with
the whole procedure.
"You ought to write a novel about us," she told Gilfoyle. "It would
be a lot better than most of the awful stories folks write nowadays.
And you'd make a million dollars, I bet. We need a lot of money now,
too, don't we?"
"A whole lot," said Gilfoyle, who was beginning to fret over the
probable cost of the breakfast.
It cost more than he expected--as he expected. But he was in for it,
and he trusted that the Lord would provide. They bought a ring at
a petty jewelry-shop in Forty-second Street and then descended to
a Subway express and emerged at the Brooklyn Bridge Station.
The little old City Hall sat among the overtowering buildings like
an exquisite kitten surrounded by mastiffs, but Gilfoyle's business
took him and his conquest into the enormous Municipal Building,
whose windy arcades blew Kedzie against him with a pleasant clash.
The winds of life indeed had blown them together as casually as
two leaves met in the same gutter. But they thought it a divine
encounter arranged from eons back and to continue for eons forward.
They thought it so at that time.
They went up in the elevator to the second floor, where, in the
fatal Room 258, clerks at several windows vended for a dollar apiece
the State's permission to experiment with matrimony.
There was a throng ahead of them--brides, grooms, parents, and
witnesses of various nationalities. All of them looked shabby and
common, even to Kedzie in her humility. All over the world couples
were mating, as the birds and animals and flowers and chemicals
mate in their seasons. The human pairs advertised their union by
numberless rites of numberless religions and non-religions. The
presence or absence of rite or its nature seemed to make little
difference in the prosperity of the emulsion. The presence or
absence of romance seemed to make little difference, either. But
it seemed to be generally agreed upon as a policy around the world
that marriage should be made exceedingly easy, and unmarriage
exceedingly difficult. In recruiting armies the same plan is
observed; every encouragement is offered to enlist; one has only
to step in off the street and enlist. But getting free! That is
not the object of the recruiting business.
Gilfoyle and Kedzie had to wait their turns before they could reach
a window. Then they had a cross-examination to face.
Kedzie giggled a good deal, and she leaned softly against the hard
shoulder of Gilfoyle while the clerk quizzed him as to his full name,
color, residence, age, occupation, birthplace, the name of his father
and mother and the country of their birth, and the number of his
She grew abruptly solemn when the clerk looked at her for answers
to the same questions on her part; for she realized that she was
expected to tell her real name and her parents' real names. She
would have to confess to Tommie that she had deceived him and
cheated him out of a beautiful poem. Had he known the truth he
would never have written:
Pretty maid, pretty maid, may I call you Kedzie?
Your last name is Thropp, but your first name is--
Nothing rhymed with _Kedzie_.
While she gaped, wordless, Gilfoyle magnificently spoke for her,
proudly informed the clerk that her name was "Anita Adair," that
she was white (he nearly said "pink"), that her age was--he had
to ask that, and she told him nineteen. He gave her residence as
New York and her occupation as "none."
"What is your father's first name, honey?" he said, a little
startled to realize how little he knew of her or her past. She
had learned much news of him, too, in hearing his own answers.
"Adna," she whispered, and he told the clerk that her father's name
was Adna Adair. She told the truth about her mother's maiden name.
She could afford to do that, and she could honestly aver that she
had never had any husband or husbands "up to yet," and that she
had not been divorced "so far." Also both declared that they knew
of no legal impediment to their marriage. There are so few legal
impediments to marriage, and so many to the untying of the knot
into which almost anybody can tie almost anybody!
The clerk's facile pen ran here and there, and the license was
delivered at length on the payment of a dollar. For one almighty
dollar the State gave the two souls permission to commit mutual
mortgage for life.
Gilfoyle was growing nervous. He told Kedzie that he was expected
at the office. There were several advertisements to write for the
next day's papers, and he had given the firm no warning of what
he had not foreseen the day before. If they hunted for a preacher,
Gilfoyle would get into trouble with Mr. Kiam.
If they had listened to the excellent motto, "Business before
pleasure," they might never have been married. That would have
saved them a vast amount of heartache, both blissful and hateful.
But they were afraid to postpone their nuptials. The mating
instinct had them in its grip.
They fretted awhile in the hurlyburly of other love-mad couples
and wondered what to do. Gilfoyle finally pushed up to one of
the windows again and asked:
"What's the quickest way to get married? Isn't there a preacher
or alderman or something handy?"
"Aldermen are not allowed to marry folks any more," he was told.
"But the City Clerk will hitch you up for a couple of dollars.
The marriage-room is right up-stairs."
This seemed the antipodes of romance and Gilfoyle hesitated
But Kedzie, knowing his religious ardor against religions, said:
"What's the diff? I don't mind."
Gilfoyle smiled at last, and the impatient lovers hurried out
into the corridor. They would not wait for the elevator, but ran
up the steps. They passed a trio of youth, a girl and two young
fellows. One of the lads gave the other a shove that identified
the bridegroom. The girl was holding her left hand up and staring
at her new ring. A pessimist might have seen a portent in the
cynical amusement of her smile, and another in the aweless speed
with which Gilfoyle and Kedzie hustled toward the awful mystery
of such a union as marriage attempts.
The wedlock-factory was busy. In spite of the earliness of the hour
the waiting-room was crowded, its benches full. The only place for
Kedzie to sit was next to a couple of negroes, the man in Ethiopian
foppery grinning up into the face of a woman who held his hat and
cane, and simpered in ebony.
Kedzie whispered to Gilfoyle her displeased surprise:
"Why, they act just like we do."
Kedzie liked to use _like_ like that. She felt belittled at
sharing with such people an emotion that seemed to her far too good
for them. Also she felt that the emotion itself was cheapened by
such company. She wished she had not consented to the marriage. But
it would excite attention to back out now, and the dollar already
invested would be wasted. For all she knew, the purchase of the
license compelled the completion of the project.
A group of Italians came from Room 365--two girls in white, a
bareheaded mother who had been weeping, a fat and relieved-looking
father, an insignificant youth who was unquestionably the new-born
Gilfoyle kept looking at his watch, but he had to wait his turn.
There was a book to be signed and a two-dollar bill to be paid.
At last, when the negro pair came forth chuckling, Kedzie and
Gilfoyle rushed into the so-called "chapel" to meet their fate.
The chapel was a barrenly furnished office. Its nearest approach
to an altar was a washstand with hot and cold running water. At
the small desk the couple stood while the City Clerk read the pledge
drawn up in the Corporation Counsel's office with a sad mixture of
religious, legal, and commercial cant:
"In the name of God, Amen.
"Do either of you know of any impediment why you should not be
legally joined together in matrimony, or if any one present can
show any just cause why these parties should not be legally joined
together in matrimony let them now speak or hereafter hold their
"Do you, Thomas Gilfoyle, take this woman as your lawfully wedded
wife, to live together in the state of matrimony? Will you love,
honor, and keep her, as a faithful man is bound to do, in health,
sickness, prosperity, and adversities, and forsaking all others
keep you alone unto her as long as you both shall live?
"Do you, Anita Adair, take this man for your lawfully wedded husband
to live together in the state of matrimony? Will you love, honor,
and cherish him as a faithful woman is bound to do, in health,
sickness, prosperity, and adversities, and forsaking all others
keep you alone unto him as along as you both shall live?
"For as both have consented in wedlock and have acknowledged same
before this company I do by virtue of the authority vested in me
by the laws of the State of New York now pronounce you husband
"And may God bless your union."
The City Clerk had to furnish witnesses from his own staff while
he administered the secular rites and exacted the solemn promises
which so few have kept, and invoked the help of God which is so
rarely manifest or so subtly hidden, in the human-animal-angel
relation of marriage.
And now Anita Adair and Thomas Gilfoyle were officially welded into
one. They had received the full franchise each of the other's body,
soul, brain, time, temper, liberty, leisure, admiration, education,
past, future, health, wealth, strength, weakness, virtue, vice,
destructive power, procreative power, parental gift or lack,
domestic or bedouin genius, prejudice, inheritance--all.
It was a large purchase for three dollars, and it remained to be
seen whether either or both delivered the goods. At the altar of
Hymen, Kedzie had publicly vowed to love, honor, and cherish under
all circumstances. It was like swearing to walk in air or water as
well as on earth. The futile old oath to "obey" had been omitted
as a perjury enforced.
Kedzie Thropp, who had dome to New York only a few months before,
had done one more impulsive thing. First she had run away from her
parents. Now she had run away from herself. She had loved New York
first. Now she was infatuated with Tommie Gilfoyle. He was as
complex and mysterious a city as Manhattan. She would be as long
in reaching the heart of him.
There had been no bridesmaids to give the scene social grace, no
music or flowers to give it poetry, no minister to give it an odor
of sanctity. It was marriage in its cold, business-like actuality,
without hypnotism, superstition, or false pretense. Small wonder
that Kedzie had hardly left the marriage-room before she felt that
she was not married at all. The vaccination had not taken. She
was not one with Gilfoyle. And yet she must pretend that she was.
She must act as if they were one soul, one flesh; must share his
tenement, his food, his joys and anxieties. Of these last there
promised to be no famine.
Gilfoyle was in a panic about his office. He told Kedzie to devote
the morning to looking up some place to live. He would join her
at luncheon. He fidgeted while they waited for the elevator, Kedzie
staring at her ring with the same curious smile as the other girl.
They rode up-town in a Subway express to Forty-second Street.
heir first business treaty had to be drawn up in the crowd.
"How much do you want to pay for the flat, honey?" said Kedzie.
Gilfoyle was startled. Already the money-snake was in their Eden.
And she asked him how much he "wanted" to pay! It was only a form
of speech, but it grated on him.
"I haven't time to figure it out," he fretted. "I get twenty-five
dollars a week--darling. That's a hundred a month--dear." His pet
names came afterward, mere trailers. "Out of that we've got to get
something to eat and to wear, and there'll be street-car fare to
pay and--tooth-powder to buy, and we'll want something for theater
tickets, and--" He was aghast; at the multitude of things married
people need. He added, "And we ought to save a little, I suppose."
"I suppose so," said Kedzie, who was as much taken aback by the
mention of economy at such a time as he was by the mention of
expenditure. But she rose bravely to the responsibility: "I'll
do the best I can, and we'll be so cozy--ooh!"
Kedzie was used to small figures. He put into her hand all the cash
he had with him, which was all he had on earth--forty-two dollars.
He borrowed back the two dollars. Kedzie had her own money, about
forty more dollars. This, with twenty-five dollars a week, seemed
big; enough to her to keep them in luxury. They parted at the Grand
Central Terminal with looks of devoted agony.
She set out at once to look at flats and to visit furniture-stores.
She bought a _Herald_ and read the numberless advertisements.
Something was the matter everywhere. She had gone far and found
nothing but discouragement when the luncheon hour arrived.
Humble as her ideas were, they rebelled at what she and her
bridegroom would have to accept for their home. She had always
dreamed of marrying a beautiful man with a million dollars and
a steam yacht. She was to have been married by a swagger parson,
in a swagger church, and to have gone on a long voyage somewhere,
and come back at last to a castle on Fifth Avenue. She had lost
the parson; the voyage was not to be thought of; and the castle
was not even in the air.
She looked at one or two expensive apartments, just to see what real
apartments could be like. They stunned her with their splendors,
their liveried outguards, their elevators clanking like caparisoned
chariot-horses, their conveniences, their rentals--six or eight
thousand dollars a year, unfurnished!--six or seven times her
husband's whole annual earnings. They were beyond the folly of
She would have to be content with what one could rent furnished
for twenty-five dollars a month. She would have to be her own
hired girl. She would have to toil in a few cells of a beehive
on a side-street. She would be chauffeuse to a gas-stove only.
She went to the luncheon tryst with a load of forebodings, but
Gilfoyle did not appear. She heard her name paged by a corridor-crier
and was called to the telephone, where her husband's voice told her
that there was a big upset at the office and he dared not leave.
He forgot to be tender in his endearments, and he forgot to explain
to her that he was talking in a crowded office with an impatient
boss waiting for him and a telephone-girl probably listening in.
Kedzie lunched alone, already a business man's wife.
She scoured the town all afternoon, and at last, in desperation,
took the furnished flat she happened to be in when she could go
no farther. She had to sign a year's lease, and pay twenty-five
dollars in advance.
They would live a condensed life there. Even the hall was shared
with another family. The secrets were also to be shared, evidently,
for Kedzie could hear all that went on in the other home--all, all!
But by this time she was so tired that any cranny would have been
welcome. She was even wearier than she had been when she occupied
the outdoor apartment under the park bench where she spent her second
night in New York. She called that an "aparkment" and liked the pun
so well that she longed to tell her husband. But that would have
compelled the telling of her real name, and she did not know him
well enough for that yet. She found that she did not know him
well enough yet for an increasing number of things. She began to be
afraid to have him come home. What would he be like as a husband?
What would she be like as a wife? Those are all-important facts that
one is permitted to learn after the vows of perfection are sealed.
When Kedzie had rested awhile she grew braver and lonelier. She would
welcome almost any husband for companionship's sake. She resolved to
have Tom's dinner ready for him. She dragged herself down the stairs
and up the hill to the grocer's and the butcher's and bought the raw
material for dinner and breakfast.
She telephoned Gilfoyle at his office, gave him the address and
invited him to dine with "Mrs. Gilfoyle." She chuckled over the
romance of it, but he was harrowed with office troubles. Her ardor
was a trifle dampened by his voice, but she found new thrills in
the gas-stove, a most dramatic instrument to play. It frightened
her with every manifestation. She turned the wrong handles and got
bad odors from it, and explosions. She burned her fingers and
She stared in dismay at the charred first banquet and then marched
her weary feet down the stairs again and up the hill again to
a delicatessen shop. She had previously learned the fatal ease of
the ready-made meals they vend at such places, and she compiled
her first menu there.
When Gilfoyle came down the street and up the steps into his new
home and into her arms he tried to lay off care for a while. But
he could not hide his anxiety--and his ecstasy was half an ecstasy
He did not like the shabby, showy furniture the landlord had selected.
But the warmed-up dinner amazed him. He had not imagined Kedzie so
scholarly a cook. She dared not tell him that she had cheated. He
found her wonderfully refreshing after a day of office toil and told
her how happy they would be, and she said, "You bet." Kedzie cleared
the table by scooping up all the dishes and dumping them into a big
pan and turning the hot water into it with a cake of soap. Then she
retreated to the wabbly divan in the living-room.
Gilfoyle went over to Kedzie like a lonely hound; and she laced still
tighter the arms that encircled her. They told each other that they
were all they had in the world, and they forgot the outside world for
the world within themselves. But the evening was maliciously hot and
muggy; it was going to rain in a day or so. That divan would hardly
support two, and there was no comfort in sitting close; it merely
added two furnaces together.
Clamor rose in the adjoining apartment. Their neighbors had children,
and the children did not want to go to bed. The parents nagged the
children and each other. The wrangle was insufferable. And the idea
came to Kedzie and Gilfoyle that children were one of the liabilities
of their own marriage. They were afraid of each other, now, as well
as of the world. If only they had not been in such haste to be
married! If only they could recall those hasty words!
Gilfoyle put out the lights--"because they draw the insects," he
said, but Kedzie thought that he was beginning to economize. He
was. Across the street they could see other heat-victims miserably
preparing for the night. They were careless of appearances.
In the back of the parlor was a window opening into a narrow
air-shaft. The one bedroom's one window opened on the same cleft.
If the curtain were not kept down the neighbors across the area
could see and be seen. If the window were left open they could be
heard; and when the curtain flapped in the occasional little puffs
of hot air, it gave brief glimpses of family life next door. That
family had a squalling child, too. Somewhere above, a rickety
phonograph was at work; and somewhere below, a piano was being
mauled; and somewhere else a ukelele was being thumped and a
doleful singer was snarling "The Beach at Waikiki." This racket
was their only epithalamium. It was more like the "chivaree" with
which ironic crowds tormented bridal couples back in Nimrim, Mo.
Gilfoyle was poet enough to enjoy a little extra doldrums at what
might have made a longshoreman peevish. He mopped sweat and fanned
himself with a newspaper till he grew frantic. He flung down the
paper and rose with a yawn.
"Well, this is one helluva honeymoon. I'm going to crawl into
the oven and fry."
Kedzie sat alone in the dark parlor a long while. She was cold now.
She had danced Greek dances in public, but she blushed in the dark
as she loitered over her shoelaces. She was so forlorn and so
disappointed with life that tears would have been bliss.
Somebody on that populous, mysterious air-shaft kept a parrot.
It woke Kedzie early in the morning with hysterical laughter that
pierced the ears like steel saws. There was something uncannily
real but hideously mirthless in its Ha-ha-ha! It would gurgle with
thick-tongued idiocy: "Polly? Polly? Polly wanny clacky? Polly?
Kedzie wondered how any one could care or dare to keep such a pest.
She wanted to kill it. She leaned out of the window and stared up.
Somewhere above the fire-escape rungs she could see the bottom of
its cage. If only she had a gun, how gladly she would have blown
Polly to bits.
She saw a frowsy-haired man in a nightgown staring up from another
window and yelling at the parrot. She drew her head in hastily.
The idol of her soul slept on. The inpouring day illumined him to
his disadvantage. His head was far back, his jaw down, his mouth
agape. During the night a beard had crept out on his cheeks. He was
Kedzie crouched on the bed and stared at him in wonder, in a
fascination of disgust. This was the being she had selected from
all mankind for her companion through the long, long years to come.
This was her playmate, partner, hero, master, financier, bedfellow,
lifefellow. For him she had given up her rights to freedom, to
praise, to chivalry, to individuality, her hopes of wealth, luxury,
She glanced about the room--the pine bureau with its imitation
stain, broken handles, and curdled mirror, the ugly chairs, the
gilt radiator, the worn rug, the bed that other wretches had
occupied. She wondered who they were and where they were.
She remembered Newport, the Noxon home. She tried to picture a
bedroom there. She saw a palace of the best moving-picture period.
She remembered the first moving picture she had seen in New York,
and contrasted the Anita Adair of that adventure with the Anita
Adair of this. She recalled that girl locking her door against the
swell husband, and the poor but honest lover with the revolver.
Kedzie wished she had locked her own door--only there was no door,
merely a shoddy portière, for there was not room to open a door.
Her old ambitions came back to her. She had planned to know rich
people and rebuke their wicked wiles. One rich man had held her in
his arms, lifted her out of the pool. It was no less a man than
Jim Dyckman, and she had repulsed him.
She caught a glimpse of her own tousled head in the mirror,
and she sneered at it. "You darn fool--oh, you darn fool!"
At last the parrot woke Gilfoyle. He snorted, bored his fists
into his eyes, yawned, scratched his head, stared at the unusual
furniture, flounced over, saw his mate, stared again, grinned,
"Why, hello, Anita!"
He put out his hand to her. She wiggled away; he followed. She
slid to the floor and gasped:
"Don't touch me!"
"Why, what's the matter, honey?"
"Huh! What isn't the matter?"
He fumbled under the pillow for his watch, looked at it, yawned:
"Lord, it's only five o'clock. Good _night_!" He disposed
himself for sleep again. The parrot broke out in another horrible
Ha-ha! He sat up with an oath. "I'd like to murder the beast."
"Don't! I'm much obliged to it."
"Obliged to it? You must be crazy. Good Lord! hear it scream."
"Well, ain't life a scream?"
Gilfoyle was a graceless sleeper and a surly waker. He forgot that
he was a bridegroom.
He sniffed, yawned, flopped, buried one ear in the pillow and pulled
the cover over the other and almost instantly slept. His head on
the pillow looked like some ugly, shaggy vegetable. Kedzie wanted to
uproot the object and throw it out of the window, out of her life.
That was the head of her husband, the lord and master of her dreams!
Dainty-minded couples have separate bedrooms. Ordinary people accept
the homely phases of coexistence as inevitable and therefore
unimportant. They grow to enjoy the intimacy: they give and take
informality as one of the comforts of a home. They see frowsy hair
and unshaven cheeks and yawns as a homely, wholesome part of life
and make a pleasant indolence of them.
But Kedzie was in an unreasoning mood. She had hoped for unreasonable
delights. Marriage had been a goal beyond the horizon, at the base of
the rainbow. She had reached it. The girl Kedzie was no more. She was
a wife. Kedzie Thropp and Anita Adair were now Mrs. Thomas Gilfoyle.
Her soul cried out:
"This is my honeymoon! I am married, married forever to that
tousle-headed, bristle-jawed, brainless, heartless dub. I won't
stand for it. I won't! I won't!"
She wanted to outscream the parrot. Its inarticulate, horrible
cachinnations voiced her humor uncannily. She had to bury her
pouting lips in her round young arm to keep from insanely echoing
that maniacal Ha-ha-ha! That green-and-red philosopher expressed
her own mockery of life and love, with its profound and eloquent
Ha-ha-ha! Oh, ha-ha-ha! Ee, ha-ha-ha!
Now, of course, Kedzie ought to have been happy. Millions of girls
of her age were waking up that morning and calling themselves wretched
because their parents or distance or some other cause prevented them
from marrying young fellows no more prepossessing asleep than Gilfoyle
In Europe that morning myriads of young girls tossed in their beds
and shivered lest their young men in the trenches might have been
killed or mangled by some shell dropped from an airship or sent over
from a cannon or shot up from a mine. And those young men, alive or
dead, looked no better than Gilfoyle, if as neat.
In Europe and in Asia, that morning, there were young girls and nuns
and wives who were in the power of foreign soldiers whose language
they could not speak but could understand all too well--poor, ruined
victims of the tidal waves of battle. There were wives, young and
old, who had got their husbands back from war blind, crippled,
foolish, petulant. They had left part of their souls on the field
with their blood.
It was a time when it seemed that nobody had a right to be unhappy
who had life, health, shelter, and food. Yet America was perhaps as
discontented as Europe.
Kedzie had reason enough to make peace with life. Gilfoyle was as
valuable a citizen as she. She might have helped to make him a good
business man or a genuine poet. What is poetry, anyway, but the
skilful advertisement of emotions? She might at least have made of
Gilfoyle that all-important element of the Republic, a respectable,
amiable, ordinary man, perhaps the father of children who would be
of value, even of glory, to the world.
There was romance enough in their wedding. Others of the couples who
had bought licenses that day were rapturous in yet cheaper tenements,
greeting the new day with laughter and kisses and ambition to earn
and to save, to breed and grow old well.
But to be content with what or whom she had, Kedzie would have had
to be somebody else besides Kedzie; and then Gilfoyle would not
perhaps have met her or married her. Some man in Nimrim, Mo., would
have wed the little stay-at-home.
Kedzie, the pretty fool, apparently fancied that she would have been
happy if Gilfoyle had been a handsomer sleeper, and the apartment
a handsomer apartment, and the bank-account an inexhaustible fountain
But would she have been? Peter Cheever was as handsome as a man
dares to be, awake or asleep; he had vast quantities of money, and
he was generous with it. But Zada L'Etoile was not happy. She dwelt
in an apartment that would have overwhelmed Kedzie by the depth of
its velvets and the height of its colors.
Yet Zada was crying this very morning--crying like mad because
while she had Cheever she had no marriage license. She tore her
hair and bit it, and peeled diamonds off her fingers and threw them
at the mirror like pebbles, and sopped up her tears with point-lace
handkerchiefs and hurled those to the floor--then hurled herself
after them. She was a tremendous weeper, Zada.
And in Newport there was a woman who had a marriage license but no
husband. She slept in a room too beautiful for Kedzie to have liked.
She did not know enough to like it. She would have found it cold.
Charity Cheever found it cold, but she slept at last, though the
salt wind blowing in from the sea tormented the light curtains and
plucked at the curls about Charity's face. There was salt in the
air, and her eyelashes were still wet with tears. She was crying
in her sleep, for loneliness.
Kedzie thought her room was small, but it was nearly as big as
the bedroom where Jim Dyckman had slept. He had a bigger room, but
he had given it to his father and mother, who had come to Newport
with him. They were a stodgy old couple enough now, and snoring
idyllically in duet after a life of storms and tears and discontents
in spite of wealth.
Jim's room was big for a yacht, but the yacht was narrow, built for
speed. Thirty-six miles an hour its turbines could shoot it through
the sea. It had to be narrow. We can't have everything--especially
Jim was barefoot, standing in his pajamas at a port-hole and trying
to see the Noxon home, imagining Charity there. He was denied her
presence and was as miserable as any waif in a poor farm attic.
Money seemed to make no visible difference in his despair.
If he thought of Kedzie at all, he dismissed her as a trifling
memory. He wanted Charity, who did not want him. Charity had
Cheever, who did not want her. Kedzie had Gilfoyle, and did not want
him. It looked as if the old jingle ought to be changed from "Finders
keepers, losers weepers" to "Losers keepers, finders weepers."
The day after Jim Dyckman pulled Kedzie out of the water he made
a desperate effort to convince himself that he could be happy
without the forbidden Charity Coe.
He breakfasted and played tennis, then swam at Bailey's Beach.
Beauties of every type and every conscience were there--pale, slim
ash blondes with legs like banister-spindles, and swarthy, slender
brunettes of the same Sheraton furniture. There were brunettes of
generous ovals, and blondes of heroic rotundities, and every scheme
of shape between. Minds were equally diversified--maternal young
girls and wicked old ladies, hilarious and sinister, intellectual
and athletic, bookish and horsy, a woman of a sort for every mood.
And Jim Dyckman was so wealthy and so simple and so likable and
important that it seemed nobody would refuse to accept him. But
he wanted Charity.
Later in the afternoon he gave up the effort to snub her and went
to the Noxon home. It was about the hour when Kedzie in her new
flat had been burning her fingers at the gas-stove. Jim Dyckman
was preparing to burn his fingers at the shrine of Mrs. Cheever.
He rang the bell and asked for Mrs. Noxon, though her motor was
waiting at the door, as he was glad to note. Mrs. Noxon came down
with her hat on and her gloves going on. She pinched Dyckman's cheek
and kissed him and said:
"It's sweet of you, Jimmie, to call on an old crone like me, and so
promptly. She'll be down in a minute. But you must be on your good
behavior, Jim, for they're talking about you, you know. They're
bracketing your name with Charity's."
"The dirty beasts! I'll--"
"You can't, Jim. But you can behave. Cheer her up a little. She's
blue about that dog of a Cheever. I've got to go and turn over the
money we earned yesterday. Quite a tidy sum, but I'll never give
another damned show as long as I live."
She left, and by and by Charity Coe drifted in, bringing strange
contentment with her. She greeted Jim with a weary cordiality. He
took her hand and kissed it and laid his other hand over it as usual.
She put her other hand on top of his and patted it--then withdrew her
slender fingers and sat down.
They glanced at each other and sighed. Jim was miserably informed now
that he had made the angelic Charity Coe a theme for gossip. He felt
guilty--irritatedly guilty, because he had the name without the game.
Charity Coe was in a dull mood. She was in a love lethargy. Her mind
was trying to persuade her heart that her devotion to Peter Cheever
was a wasted lealty, but her heart would not be convinced, though it
began to be afraid. She was as a watcher who sits in the next room
to one who is dying slowly and quietly. She could neither lose hope
nor use it.
Jim and Charity sat brooding for a long while. He had outstretched
himself on a sumptuous divan. She was seated on a carved chair,
leaning against the tall back of it like a figure in high relief.
About them the great room brooded colossally.
Gilfoyle would have hated Charity and Jim as perfect examples of the
idle rich, too stupid to work, too pampered to be worthy of sympathy.
But whether these two had a right to suffer or not, suffer they did.
The mansion was quiet. The other house-guests were motoring or darting
about the twilit tennis-court or trading in the gossip-exchange at
the Casino. Jim and Charity were marooned in a sleeping castle.
At length Jim broke forth, "For God's sake, sing."
Charity laughed a little and said, "All right--anything to make
She went to the piano and shifted the music. There were dozens of
songs about roses. She dropped to the bench and began to play and
croon Edward Carpenter's luscious music to Waller's old poem,
"Go, Lovely Rose."
Jim began to talk almost at once. Charity went on singing, smiling
a little at the familiar experience of being asked to sing only to
be talked over. Jim grew garrulous as he read across her shoulder
with characteristic impoliteness.
_"Tell her that wastes her time and me,"_ he quoted; then
he groaned: "That's you and me, Charity Coe. But you're wasting
yourself most of all."
He bent closer to peek at the name of the author. "Who's this
feller Waller, who knows so much?"
"Hush and listen," she said, and hummed the song through. It made
a new and deep impression on her in that humor. She felt that she
had wasted the rosiness of her own life. Girlhood was gone; youth
was gone; carefreedom was gone. Like petals they had fallen from
the core of her soul. The words of the lyric stabbed her:
Then die that she
The common fate of all things rare
May read in thee.
How small a part of time they share
That are so sweet and fair.
Her fingers slipped from the keys and, as it were, died in her lap.
Jim Dyckman understood a woman for once, and in a gush of pity for
her and of resentment for her disprized preciousness caught at her
to embrace her. Her hands came to life. The wifely instinct leaped
to the fore. She struck and wrenched and drove him off. She was
panting with wrath.
"What a rotten thing to do! Go away and don't come near me again.
I'm ashamed of you."
"Me, too," he snarled.
Jim slunk out and slunk down the marble steps and down the winding
walk and through the monstrous gate into the highway along the sea,
enraged at himself and at Charity and at Peter Cheever. If he had met
Cheever he would have picked him up and flung him over the sea-wall.
But there was little danger of Peter Cheever's being found so near
_"Tell her that wastes her time and me,"_ kept running through
Jim's head. He was furious at Charity for wasting so much of him. He
had followed her about and moped at her closed door like a stray dog.
And she had never even thrown him a bone.
A wave ran up on the beach and seemed to try to embrace the earth,
possess it. But it fell away baffled. Over its subsiding pother sprang
a new wave with the same bosomful of desire and the same frantic
clutching here and there--the same rebuff, the same destruction
under the surge of the next and the next. The descending night gave
a strange pathos to the eternal vanity.
Jim Dyckman stood and faced the ocean. Once more he discovered that
life was too much for him to understand. He was ashamed of himself
for his vain endeavor to envelop Charity Coe and absorb her into
the deeps of his love. He was most ashamed because he had failed
and must slither back into the undertow with the many other men
whom Charity had refused to love.
He was ashamed of Charity Coe, too, for squandering her prime
and her pride. He was enraged at her blindness to Pete Cheever's
duplicity or her complacency with it. He hated Charity for a
while--nearly. At any rate he was ashamed of her, ashamed of
the world, in a rebel mood.
As he stood wind-blown and spray-flogged and glad to be beaten, a
shabby old carriage went by. It was piled to overflowing with some
of Miss Silsby's girls taking a seeing-Newport tour on the cheap.
The driver was, or said he had been in his time, coachman to some
of the oldest families. He ventured their names with familiarity
and knew their houses by heart. He told quaint stories of their
ways, how old Mrs. Noxon once swore down a mutinous stableman, how
Miss Wossom ran away with her coachman. There was something finely
old-fashioned and conservative about that. A new-rich would have
run away with a chauffeur.
The driver knew Jim Dyckman's back and pointed him out. The girls
laughed, remembering Kedzie's encounter with him. They laughed so
loud that Dyckman turned, startled by the racket. But the carriage
rolled them away and he did not hear them wondering what had become
of Kedzie. The gloaming saddened them, and they felt very sorry for
her. But Jim Dyckman gave her no thought.
He was tearing apart his emotions toward Charity and resolving that
he must never see her again. In the analytical chemistry of the soul
he found that this resolution was three parts hopelessness of winning
her, three parts a decent sense of the wickedness of courting another
man's woman, three parts resentment at her for treating him properly,
and one part a feeling that he would make himself most valuable to
her by staying away.
Never a homeless dog slinking through an alley in search of a
sidelong ash-barrel to sleep in felt more poverty-stricken, woebegone,
than Jim Dyckman. He moped along the stately road, as much afraid of
his future as Kedzie had been, trudging the same highway. She had
wondered if board and lodging would fail her. This was not Jim
Dyckman's fear, but his own was as great, for everybody was some
Lucian showed Jupiter himself cowering on his throne in the sky and
twiddling his thunderbolt with trembling hand as he wondered what
the fates held in store for him, and saw on earth the increasing
impudence of the skeptics.
So Jim Dyckman, unconscious that he was following in Kedzie's
footsteps, walked miserably on his way. He had no place to go to
but the finest yacht in the harbor. He had no money to depend on
but a few millions of his own and the Pelion plus Ossa fortunes
of his father and mother and their relatives--a mere sierra of
He drifted down to the landing-place and went out to his yacht
in a hackney launch. He was received at her snowy sides as if he
were the emperor of somewhere come to visit one of his rear admirals.
He went up the steps as if he were a school-boy caught playing hooky
and going up-stairs to play the bass drum to his mother's slipper.
His mother was on the shade-deck, reclining. The big white wicker
lounge looked as if a small avalanche had fallen on it. From the
upturned points of her white shoes back to her white hair she was
a study in foreshortening that would have interested a draftsman.
Spread out on a huge wicker arm-chair sat Jim's father, also all
white, except for his big pink hands and his big pink face. It
seemed that he ought to have been smoking a white cigar. As a matter
of fact, he had sat so still that half the weed was ash.
When the two moved to greet Jim there was a mighty creaking of wicker.
There was another when Jim spilled his own great weight into a chair.
A steward in white raised his eyebrows inquiringly and Jim nodded
the eighth of an inch. It was the equivalent of ordering a drink.
Dyckman senior turned to Dyckman seniora and said, "Enter Hamlet in
the graveyard! Where's the skull, my boy, where's the skull?"
"Let the child alone," Mrs. Dyckman protested. "It's too hot for
fooling. You might kiss your poor mother, though. No, don't get up,
just throw me one."
Jim rose heavily, went to her, bent far down, kissed her, and
would have risen again, but her big arms encompassed his neck and
held him, uncomfortably, till he knelt by her side and laid his
head on her bosom.
He felt exceedingly foolish, but nearer to comfort than he had been
for a long while. He wished that he might be a boy again in his
mother's arms and be altogether content and carefree as he had been
there. As if children were content and carefree! Great Heavens!
do they not begin to squirm and kick before they are born?
Mrs. Dyckman was suffocated a trifle by his weight and her own and
her corsets, but her heart ached for him somewhere down deep and
"Can't he tell his mother what he wants? Maybe she can get it
He laughed bitterly and extricated himself from her clasp, patted
her fat arm, and turned away. His father jealously seized his
"Anything serious, old man? You know I'm here."
Jim squeezed his father's hand and shook his head and turned to
the drink which had arrived. He took it from the tray to his chair
and sat meditating Newport across the top of his glass. Between
the rail of the deck and the edge of the awning he saw a long slice
of it. It was vanity and emptiness to him. He spoke at length.
"Fact is, folks, I've got to go back to New York or somewhere."
"Good Lord!" his father said. "I'm all mixed up in a golf tournament.
I think I've got a chance to lick the boots off old Wainwright."
"Oh dear!" sighed Mrs. Dyckman, "there's to be the most interesting
lecture by that Hindu poet. And it's so much more comfortable here
than ashore. This boat is the coziest you've ever had."
"Stay here, darling," said Jim. "I'll make you a present of her."
"Oh, that's glorious," said Mrs. Dyckman. "I've never had a yacht
of my own. It's a shame to take it from you, but you can get another.
And of course you'll always be welcome here--which is more than
a certain other big Dyckman will be if he doesn't look sharp."
"For the Lord's sake, Jim, don't give it to her. She's the meanest
old miser about her own things." Dyckman senior pushed his chair
back against the rail.
"Watch out!" Mrs. Dyckman gasped. "You're scraping the paint off
Jim rose again. "I've just about time to make the last train
for the day," he said.
His mother sat up and clutched at his hand. "Can't I help you, honey?
Please let me! What is the matter?"
"The matter is I'm a lunkhead and Newport bores me stiff. That's all.
Don't worry. I'll go get the packing started."
He went along the deck, and his parents helplessly craned their
necks after him. His father groaned. Jim had "everything." There
was nothing to get for him, no toy to buy to divert him with.
"He wants a new toy, and he doesn't know what it is," said
the old man.
But Jim wanted an old toy on a shelf too high for his reach. He
ran away from the sight of it.
And Dyckman was fleeing to Charity's next resting-place, after all,
for she also returned in a few days to New York. She was restive
under the goad to return to France. She repented her selfish neglect
of the children of all ages she had adopted abroad. One thing
held her back--the dread of putting the ocean again between her
and her husband.
She thought it small of her to leave so many heroes to suffer without
her ministrations, in order that she might prevent one non-hero
from having too good a time without her ministrations. But womankind
has never been encouraged to adopt the policy of the greatest good
to the greatest number. Hardly!
Charity was conscience-smitten, however, and she cast about for a way
to absolve herself. Money is the old and ever-reliable way of paying
debts physical, moral, and religious. Charity determined to arrange
some big fête to bring in a heap of money for the wounded of France,
the blind fathers, and the fatherless children.
Everybody was giving entertainments at this time in behalf of
some school of victims of the war. The only excuse for amusements
in America seemed to be that the profits went to the belligerents
in one way or another.
Charity was distressed by the need of an oddity, a novel note which
should make itself heard among the clamors for Belgian relief, for
Polish relief, for Armenian succor, for German, French, Italian,
Russian widows and orphans.
Charity's secretary, Miss Gurdon, made dozens of suggestions, but
none of them was big enough to interest Charity. One day a card
came up to her with a letter of introduction from Mrs. Noxon:
CHARITY DEAR,--This will acquaint you with a very clever girl, Miss
Grace Havender. Her mother was a school friend of mine. Miss Havender
arranges to have moving pictures taken of people. They are ever
so much quainter than stupid still-life pictures. Posterity ought
to see you with your poor wounded soldiers, but meanwhile we really
should have a chance to perpetuate you as you are. You are always
on the go, and an ordinary picture does not represent you.
Anyway, you will be nice to Miss Havender, for the sake of
Charity did not want a picture of herself, but she went down to
get rid of Miss Havender politely and to recommend her to friends
of greater passion for their own likenesses. Miss Havender was
a forward young person and launched at once into a defense of
"Oh, I admire the movies immensely," Charity interposed. "We had
some of them in the hospitals abroad. If you could have seen that
dear Charlie Chaplin convulse a whole ward of battered soldiers
and make them forget their pain and their anxieties! He was more
of a nurse than a hundred of us. If he isn't a benefactor, I don't
know who is. Oh, I admire the movies, but I'd rather see them than
be them, you know.
"Still, an idea has just occurred to me. You know I'm terribly in
need of a pile of money."
Miss Havender looked about her and smiled.
"Oh, I don't mean for myself. I have far too much, but for the
soldiers. I want something that will bring in a big sum. It occurs
to me that if a lot of us got up a story and acted it ourselves,
it would be tremendously interesting to--well, to ourselves. And
our friends would flock to see it. Amateur performances are ghastly
from an artistic standpoint, but they're great fun.
"It just struck me that if we got up a play and had a cast made up
of Mr. Jim Dyckman and Tom Duane and Winnie Nicolls and Miss Bettany
and the young Stowe Webbs and Mrs. Neff and people like that it
would be dreadfully bad art, but much more amusing than if we had
all the stars in the world--Mr. Drew and his daughter and his niece
Miss Barrymore and her brothers, and Miss Anglin and Miss Bates or
Miss Adams or anybody like that. Don't you think so? Or what do you
think? Could it be done, or has it been--or what about it?"
Miss Havender gasped. She saw new vistas of business opening
"Yes, it has been done in a small way, and it was great fun, as you
say; but it would have been more fun if it hadn't been so crude.
What you would need would be a director who was not an amateur.
Now, our director is marvelous--Mr. Ferriday. He's the Belasco of
the photoplays. He's as great as Griffith. He takes his art like
a priest. If you had him you could do wonders."
"Then we must have him, by all means," said Charity, smiling a
little at the gleam in Miss Havender's eyes. She had a feeling
that Miss Havender had a deep, personal interest in Mr. Ferriday.
Miss Havender had; most of the women in his environs had. In the
first place, he was powerful and could increase or diminish or
check salaries. He distributed places and patronage with a royal
prerogative. But he was hungry for praise and suffered from the
lack of social prestige granted "the new art."
Miss Havender seconded Charity's motion with enthusiasm. After a
long conference it was agreed that Miss Havender should broach the
matter to the great Mr. Ferriday while Charity recruited actors
As Charity rummaged in her hand-bag for a pencil to write Miss
Havender's telephone number with, she turned out Kedzie Thropp's
crumpled, shabby card. She started.
"Oh, for Heaven's sake! The poor child! I had forgotten her
completely. You might be able to do something for her. This Miss
Adair is the prettiest thing, and I promised to get her a job. She
might photograph splendidly. Won't you try to find her a place?"
"I'll guarantee her one," said Miss Havender, who was sure that the
firm would be glad to put Mrs. Cheever under obligations. The firm
was in need of patronage, as Mr. Ferriday's lavish expenditures
had crippled its treasury, while his artistic whims had held up
the delivery of nearly finished films.
Miss Havender told Charity to send the girl to her at the office
any day and she would take care of her. Charity kept Kedzie's card
in her hand, and, as soon as Miss Havender was gone, ran to her desk
to write Kedzie. She told a pale lie--it seemed a gratuitous insult
to confess that she had forgotten.
DEAR MISS ADAIR,--Please forgive my delay in keeping my promise,
but I have been unable to find anything likely to interest you till
to-day. But now Miss Grace Havender, of the Hyperfilm Company, has
just assured me that if you will call on her at her office she will
see that you are engaged. You will photograph so beautifully that
I am sure you will have a great career. Please don't fail to call
on Miss Havender.
Yours, with best wishes,
CHARITY C. CHEEVER.
She sent the letter to the address Kedzie had given her--which was
that of Kedzie's abandoned boarding-house.
Since Kedzie, by the time her marriage had reached its first
morning-after, had already found her brand-new husband odious,
there was small hope of her learning to like him or their poverty
better on close acquaintance.
When he left her for his office she missed him, and her heart
warmed toward him till he came home again. He always brought new
disillusionment with him. He spent his hours out of office in
bewailing his luck, celebrating the hardness of the times, and
proclaiming the hopelessness of his prospects.
And then one evening he arrived with so doleful a countenance that
Kedzie took pity on him. She perched herself on his lap and asked
him what was worrying him.
"Nothing much, honey," he groaned, "except that I've lost my job."
Kedzie was thunderstruck. She breathed the expletive she learned
from her latest companions. "My Gawd!"
Gilfoyle nodded dreadfully: "Business has been bad, anyway. Kalteyer,
with his chewing-gum, was about our only big customer, and now he's
gone bust. Yep. The bank's shut down on his loans, and he was caught
with a mountain of bills on his hands. And the Breathasweeta Chewing
Gum stopped selling. People didn't seem to take to the perfume idea."
"I just hate people!" Kedzie growled, pacing the floor.
Gilfoyle went on, bitterly: "Remember how they all said I was such
a genius for thinking up the name 'Breathasweeta,' and the perfumery
idea? And how they liked my catch-phrase?"
Gilfoyle grew sarcastic: "Well, a man's a genius if he succeeds, and
a fool if he doesn't. I'm just as sure as ever that there's a fortune
in Breathasweeta. But when Kalteyer's bankers got cold feet I lost
my halo. He and Kiam have been roasting the life out of me. They
blame me! They've kept knocking me and quoting 'Kiss me again--who
are you?' and then groaning. It's funny. I loved it when everybody
else said it was great. But I didn't care much for it myself, the
way they said it."
Kedzie flung herself on the tremulous wabbly-legged divan. Kedzie
didn't like the phrase, either, now. When he had first smitten it
from his brain she had thought it an inspiration and him a king.
Now it sounded silly, coarse, a little indecent. Of course it had
not succeeded. How could he ever have been so foolish as to utter
it--"Kiss me again--who are you?" Why, it was vulgar!
Gilfoyle looked dismally incompetent as he drooped and mumbled. It
is hard to tell an autobiography of failure and look one's best.
"Didn't you tell him you was--you were married?" queried Kedzie.
"I hadn't the courage."
"Courage! Well, I like that! So you're fired! Just like me. Funny!
And here we are, married and all. My Gaw--"
"Here we are, married and all. They'll let me finish the week, but
my goose is cooked, I guess. Jobs are mighty scarce in my line of
business. Everybody's poor except the munitions crowd. I wish I knew
how to make dynamite."
Kedzie pushed her wet hair back from her brow and tore her waist open
a little deeper at the throat. This was carrying the joke of marriage
a little too far even for her patient soul.
Soon Gilfoyle's office was closed to him and he was at home almost
all day. That finished him with Kedzie.
He had not improved on connubial acquaintance. He was lazy and
sloven of mornings, and since he had no office to go to he grew more
neglectful of his appearance than ever. His end-to-end cigarettes
got on Kedzie's nerves and cost a nagging amount of money, especially
as she could not learn to like them herself.
He tried to write poetry for the magazines and permanently destroyed
what little respect Kedzie had for the art. Hunting for some little
love-word that was unimportant when found threw him into frenzies of
rage. He went about mumbling gibberish.
"What in hell rhymes with _heaven_?" he would snarl. "_Beven,
ceven, Devon, fevon, gevin, given_--" And so on to "_zeven_."
Then "_breven, creven, dreven_" and "_bleven, eleven,
dleven_" and "_pseven, spleven, threven_" and so forth.
At length he would hurl his pen across the room, pull at his hair,
and light another cigarette. Cigarette always rhymed with cigarette.
After a day or two of this drivel he produced a brief lyric with
a certain fleetness of movement; it had small freight to carry. He
took it to a number of editors he knew, and one of them accepted
it as a kindness.
Kedzie was delighted till she heard that it would bring into the
exchequer about seven dollars when the check came, which would be
in two weeks.
When Gilfoyle was not fighting at composition he was calling the
editors hard names and deploring the small remuneration given to
poets by a pork-packing nation. Or he would be hooting ridicule
at the successful poets and growing almost as furious against the
persons addicted to the fashionable _vers libre_ as he was
against the wealthy classes.
It seemed to Kedzie that nothing on earth was less important than
prosody, and that however badly poets were paid, they were paid more
than they earned. She grew so lonely for some one to talk to that
she decided to call on old Mrs. Jambers at the boarding-house. She
planned to stop in at dinner-time, in the hope of being asked to
sit in at a real meal. The task of cooking what she could afford
to buy robbed her of all appetite, and she was living mainly on
fumes of food and gas.
She was growing thinner and shabbier of soul, and she knew it.
She put off the call till she could endure her solitude no longer;
then she visited Mrs. Jambers. A new maid met her at the door and
barred her entrance suspiciously. Mrs. Jambers was out. So was Mrs.
Bottger. So were the old boarders that Kedzie knew. New boarders
had their rooms, Kedzie was exiled indeed.
She turned away, saying: "Tell Mrs. Jambers that Anita Adair stopped
to say hello. I was just passing."
"Anita Adair?" said the maid. "You was Anita Adair, yes? Wait once.
It is a letter for you by downstairs."
She closed the door in Kedzie's face. Some time later she came back
and gave Anita the letter from Charity. It was several days old. She
read it with amazement. The impulse to tear it up as she had torn
up Charity's card in Newport did not last long. She went at once
to a drugstore and looked up the telephone number and the address
of the Hyperfilm Company. She repaid the druggist with a smile and
a word of thanks; then she took a street-car to the office.
Miss Havender, who was also a scenario-writer and editor, was very
busy. She had an executive manner that strangely contradicted her
abilities to suffer under the pangs of love and unrequited idolatry.
But then, business men are no more immune to the foolish venom on
Cupid's arrows than poets--perhaps less, since they have no outlet
of rhapsody. That was one of the troubles with Kedzie's poet. By
the time Gilfoyle had finished a poem of love he was so exhausted
that any other emotion was welcome, best of all a good quarrel and
the healthful exercise of his poetic gifts for hate. He could hate
at the drop of a hat.
When the office-boy brought Charity's letter of introduction to Miss
Havender with the verbal message that Miss Adair was waiting outside
Miss Havender nodded. She decided to procure this Miss Adair a good
job in order to curry favor with Mrs. Cheever. She would advise Mr.
Ferriday to pay her marked attention, too.
But when she caught sight of Kedzie running the gantlet of the
battery of authors and typists, and noted how pretty she was, Miss
Havender decided that it would not be good for Mr. Ferriday to pay
marked attention to this minx. He had a habit of falling in love
with women more ardently than with scenarios. He was a despot with
a scenario, and he could quickly make a famous novel unrecognizable
by its own father or mother. But a pretty woman could rule him
ludicrously while her charm lasted.
Miss Havender would gladly have turned Kedzie from the door, but
she did not dare. She had promised Mrs. Cheever to give the girl
a job. But she had not promised what kind of job it should be.
She received Kedzie with such brusqueness that the frightened girl
almost fell off the small rim of chair she dared to occupy. She
offered Kedzie a post as a typist, but Kedzie could not type; as
a film-cutter's assistant, but Kedzie had never seen a film; as
a printing-machine engineer or a bookkeeper's clerk, but Kedzie
had no ability to do things. She could merely look things.
Finally Miss Havender said: "I'm awfully sorry, Miss Adair, but the
only position open is a place as extra woman. There is a big ballroom
scene to be staged tomorrow, and a low dance-hall the next day, and
on Monday a crowd of starving Belgian peasants. We could use you in
those, but of course you wouldn't care to accept the pay."
She said this hopefully. Kedzie answered, hopelessly:
"What's the pay?"
"I'll take it."
Miss Havender accepted the inevitable, gave her the address
of the studio--far up-town in the Bronx--and told her to report
at eight the next morning.
Kedzie went back to her home in a new mood. She was the breadwinner
now, if not a cake-earner. Gilfoyle was depressed by her good news,
and she was indignant because he was not happy. The poor fellow was
simply ashamed of his own inability to support her in the style she
had been accustomed to dreaming about.
Kedzie was sullen at having to get the dinner that night. The hot
water would not help to give her hands the ballroom texture. The
next morning she had to leave early. Gilfoyle was too tired of doing
nothing to get up, and she resolved to buy her breakfast ready-made
outside. Her last glance at her husband with his frowsy hair on his
frowsy pillow infuriated her.
The experience at the big studio assuaged her wrath against life.
It was something new, and there was a thrill in the concerted action
of the crowds. She wore a rented ball-gown which did not fit her.
Seeing how her very shoulders winced at their exposure, one would
not have believed that she was a graduate of the Silsby school of
near to nature in next to nothing.
She danced with an extra man, Mr. Clarence Yoder, a portly actor
out of work. He was a costume-play gentleman, and Kedzie thought him
something grand. He found her an entrancing armload. He was rather
aggressive and held her somewhat straitly to his exuberant form, but
he gave her so much information that she did not snub him. She did
not even tell him that she was married. Indeed, when at the close
of a busy day he hinted at a willingness to take her out to see
a picture that evening, she made other excuses than those that
actually prevented her accepting. She spent a doleful evening at
home with her dour husband and resented him more than ever.
On the second day Kedzie was a slum waif and did not like it. She
pouted with a sincerity that was irresistible.
Mr. Ferriday did not direct the crowd scenes in these pictures. His
assistant, Mr. Garfinkel, was the slave-driver. Mr. Yoder cleverly
called him "Simon Legree." Kedzie did not know who Mr. Legree was,
but she laughed because Mr. Yoder looked as if he wanted her to