The Trimmed Lamp
Part 2 out of 4
He flicked a two-carat diamond solitaire ring across the table. Miss
Asher flipped it back to him with her fork.
"Don't get fresh," she said, severely.
"I'm worth a hundred thousand dollars," said Platt. "I'll build you
the finest house in West Texas."
"You can't buy me, Mr. Buyer," said Miss Asher, "if you had a
hundred million. I didn't think I'd have to call you down. You
didn't look like the others to me at first, but I see you're all
"All who?" asked Platt.
"All you buyers. You think because we girls have to go out to dinner
with you or lose our jobs that you're privileged to say what you
please. Well, forget it. I thought you were different from the
others, but I see I was mistaken."
Platt struck his fingers on the table with a gesture of sudden,
"I've got it!" he exclaimed, almost hilariously--"the Nicholson
place, over on the north side. There's a big grove of live oaks and
a natural lake. The old house can be pulled down and the new one set
"Put out your pipe," said Miss Asher. "I'm sorry to wake you up, but
you fellows might as well get wise, once for all, to where you stand.
I'm supposed to go to dinner with you and help jolly you along so
you'll trade with old Zizzy, but don't expect to find me in any of
the suits you buy."
"Do you mean to tell me," said Platt, "that you go out this way with
customers, and they all--they all talk to you like I have?"
"They all make plays," said Miss Asher. "But I must say that you've
got 'em beat in one respect. They generally talk diamonds, while
you've actually dug one up."
"How long have you been working, Helen?"
"Got my name pat, haven't you? I've been supporting myself for eight
years. I was a cash girl and a wrapper and then a shop girl until I
was grown, and then I got to be a suit model. Mr. Texas Man, don't
you think a little wine would make this dinner a little less dry?"
"You're not going to drink wine any more, dear. It's awful to think
how-- I'll come to the store to-morrow and get you. I want you to
pick out an automobile before we leave. That's all we need to buy
"Oh, cut that out. If you knew how sick I am of hearing such talk."
After the dinner they walked down Broadway and came upon Diana's
little wooded park. The trees caught Platt's eye at once, and he
must turn along under the winding walk beneath them. The lights
shone upon two bright tears in the model's eyes.
"I don't like that," said Platt. "What's the matter?"
"Don't you mind," said Miss Asher. "Well, it's because--well, I
didn't think you were that kind when I first saw you. But you are
all like. And now will you take me home, or will I have to call a
Platt took her to the door of her boarding-house. They stood for a
minute in the vestibule. She looked at him with such scorn in her
eyes that even his heart of oak began to waver. His arm was half way
around her waist, when she struck him a stinging blow on the face
with her open hand.
As he stepped back a ring fell from somewhere and bounded on the
tiled floor. Platt groped for it and found it.
"Now, take your useless diamond and go, Mr. Buyer," she said.
"This was the other one--the wedding ring," said the Texan, holding
the smooth gold band on the palm of his hand.
Miss Asher's eyes blazed upon him in the half darkness.
"Was that what you meant?--did you"--
Somebody opened the door from inside the house.
"Good-night," said Platt. "I'll see you at the store to-morrow."
Miss Asher ran up to her room and shook the school teacher until she
sat up in bed ready to scream "Fire!"
"Where is it?" she cried.
"That's what I want to know," said the model. "You've studied
geography, Emma, and you ought to know. Where is a town called
Cac--Cac--Carac--Caracas City, I think, they called it?"
"How dare you wake me up for that?" said the school teacher."
Caracas is in Venezuela, of course."
"What's it like?"
"Why, it's principally earthquakes and negroes and monkeys and
malarial fever and volcanoes."
"I don't care," said Miss Asher, blithely; "I'm going there
THE BADGE OF POLICEMAN O'ROON
It cannot be denied that men and women have looked upon one another
for the first time and become instantly enamored. It is a risky
process, this love at first sight, before she has seen him in
Bradstreet or he has seen her in curl papers. But these things do
happen; and one instance must form a theme for this story--though
not, thank Heaven, to the overshadowing of more vital and important
subjects, such as drink, policemen, horses and earldoms.
During a certain war a troop calling itself the Gentle Riders rode
into history and one or two ambuscades. The Gentle Riders were
recruited from the aristocracy of the wild men of the West and the
wild men of the aristocracy of the East. In khaki there is little
telling them one from another, so they became good friends and
comrades all around.
Ellsworth Remsen, whose old Knickerbocker descent atoned for his
modest rating at only ten millions, ate his canned beef gayly by the
campfires of the Gentle Riders. The war was a great lark to him, so
that he scarcely regretted polo and planked shad.
One of the troopers was a well set up, affable, cool young man, who
called himself O'Roon. To this young man Remsen took an especial
liking. The two rode side by side during the famous mooted up-hill
charge that was disputed so hotly at the time by the Spaniards and
afterward by the Democrats.
After the war Remsen came back to his polo and shad. One day a well
set up, affable, cool young man disturbed him at his club, and he
and O'Roon were soon pounding each other and exchanging opprobrious
epithets after the manner of long-lost friends. O'Roon looked seedy
and out of luck and perfectly contented. But it seemed that his
content was only apparent.
"Get me a job, Remsen," he said. "I've just handed a barber my last
"No trouble at all," said Remsen. "I know a lot of men who have
banks and stores and things downtown. Any particular line you
"Yes," said O'Roon, with a look of interest. "I took a walk in your
Central Park this morning. I'd like to be one of those bobbies on
horseback. That would be about the ticket. Besides, it's the only
thing I could do. I can ride a little and the fresh air suits me.
Think you could land that for me?"
Remsen was sure that he could. And in a very short time he did. And
they who were not above looking at mounted policemen might have seen
a well set up, affable, cool young man on a prancing chestnut steed
attending to his duties along the driveways of the park.
And now at the extreme risk of wearying old gentlemen who carry
leather fob chains, and elderly ladies who--but no! grandmother
herself yet thrills at foolish, immortal Romeo--there must be a hint
of love at first sight.
It came just as Remsen was strolling into Fifth avenue from his club
a few doors away.
A motor car was creeping along foot by foot, impeded by a freshet
of vehicles that filled the street. In the car was a chauffeur and
an old gentleman with snowy side whiskers and a Scotch plaid cap
which could not be worn while automobiling except by a personage.
Not even a wine agent would dare do it. But these two were of no
consequence--except, perhaps, for the guiding of the machine and
the paying for it. At the old gentleman's side sat a young lady
more beautiful than pomegranate blossoms, more exquisite than the
first quarter moon viewed at twilight through the tops of oleanders.
Remsen saw her and knew his fate. He could have flung himself under
the very wheels that conveyed her, but he knew that would be the last
means of attracting the attention of those who ride in motor cars.
Slowly the auto passed, and, if we place the poets above the autoists,
carried the heart of Remsen with it. Here was a large city of
millions, and many women who at a certain distance appear to resemble
pomegranate blossoms. Yet he hoped to see her again; for each one
fancies that his romance has its own tutelary guardian and divinity.
Luckily for Remsen's peace of mind there came a diversion in the
guise of a reunion of the Gentle Riders of the city. There were
not many of them--perhaps a score--and there was wassail and
things to eat, and speeches and the Spaniard was bearded again in
recapitulation. And when daylight threatened them the survivors
prepared to depart. But some remained upon the battlefield. One of
these was Trooper O'Roon, who was not seasoned to potent liquids.
His legs declined to fulfil the obligations they had sworn to the
"I'm stewed, Remsen," said O'Roon to his friend. "Why do they
build hotels that go round and round like catherine wheels?
They'll take away my shield and break me. I can think and talk
con-con-consec-sec-secutively, but I s-s-stammer with my feet. I've
got to go on duty in three hours. The jig is up, Remsen. The jig is
up, I tell you."
"Look at me," said Remsen, who was his smiling self, pointing to his
own face; "whom do you see here?"
"Goo' fellow," said O'Roon, dizzily, "Goo' old Remsen."
"Not so," said Remsen. "You see Mounted Policeman O'Roon. Look at
your face--no; you can't do that without a glass--but look at mine,
and think of yours. How much alike are we? As two French _table
d'hote_ dinners. With your badge, on your horse, in your uniform,
will I charm nurse-maids and prevent the grass from growing under
people's feet in the Park this day. I will have your badge and your
honor, besides having the jolliest lark I've been blessed with since
we licked Spain."
Promptly on time the counterfeit presentment of Mounted Policeman
O'Roon single-footed into the Park on his chestnut steed. In a
uniform two men who are unlike will look alike; two who somewhat
resemble each other in feature and figure will appear as twin
brothers. So Remsen trotted down the bridle paths, enjoying himself
hugely, so few real pleasures do ten-millionaires have.
Along the driveway in the early morning spun a victoria drawn by a
pair of fiery bays. There was something foreign about the affair,
for the Park is rarely used in the morning except by unimportant
people who love to be healthy, poor and wise. In the vehicle sat an
old gentleman with snowy side-whiskers and a Scotch plaid cap which
could not be worn while driving except by a personage. At his side
sat the lady of Remsen's heart--the lady who looked like pomegranate
blossoms and the gibbous moon.
Remsen met them coming. At the instant of their passing her eyes
looked into his, and but for the ever coward's heart of a true lover
he could have sworn that she flushed a faint pink. He trotted on for
twenty yards, and then wheeled his horse at the sound of runaway
hoofs. The bays had bolted.
Remsen sent his chestnut after the victoria like a shot. There was
work cut out for the impersonator of Policeman O'Roon. The chestnut
ranged alongside the off bay thirty seconds after the chase began,
rolled his eye back at Remsen, and said in the only manner open to
"Well, you duffer, are you going to do your share? You're not
O'Roon, but it seems to me if you'd lean to the right you could
reach the reins of that foolish slow-running bay--ah! you're all
right; O'Roon couldn't have done it more neatly!"
The runaway team was tugged to an inglorious halt by Remsen's
tough muscles. The driver released his hands from the wrapped
reins, jumped from his seat and stood at the heads of the team.
The chestnut, approving his new rider, danced and pranced, reviling
equinely the subdued bays. Remsen, lingering, was dimly conscious of
a vague, impossible, unnecessary old gentleman in a Scotch cap who
talked incessantly about something. And he was acutely conscious of
a pair of violet eyes that would have drawn Saint Pyrites from his
iron pillar--or whatever the allusion is--and of the lady's smile
and look--a little frightened, but a look that, with the ever coward
heart of a true lover, he could not yet construe. They were asking
his name and bestowing upon him wellbred thanks for his heroic deed,
and the Scotch cap was especially babbling and insistent. But the
eloquent appeal was in the eyes of the lady.
A little thrill of satisfaction ran through Remsen, because he had a
name to give which, without undue pride, was worthy of being spoken
in high places, and a small fortune which, with due pride, he could
leave at his end without disgrace.
He opened his lips to speak and closed them again.
Who was he? Mounted Policeman O'Roon. The badge and the honor of
his comrade were in his hands. If Ellsworth Remsen, ten-millionaire
and Knickerbocker, had just rescued pomegranate blossoms and Scotch
cap from possible death, where was Policeman O'Roon? Off his beat,
exposed, disgraced, discharged. Love had come, but before that there
had been something that demanded precedence--the fellowship of men
on battlefields fighting an alien foe.
Remsen touched his cap, looked between the chestnut's ears, and took
refuge in vernacularity.
"Don't mention it," he said stolidly. "We policemen are paid to do
these things. It's our duty."
And he rode away--rode away cursing _noblesse oblige_, but knowing he
could never have done anything else.
At the end of the day Remsen sent the chestnut to his stable and
went to O'Roon's room. The policeman was again a well set up,
affable, cool young man who sat by the window smoking cigars.
"I wish you and the rest of the police force and all badges, horses,
brass buttons and men who can't drink two glasses of _brut_ without
getting upset were at the devil," said Remsen feelingly.
O'Roon smiled with evident satisfaction.
"Good old Remsen," he said, affably, "I know all about it. They
trailed me down and cornered me here two hours ago. There was a
little row at home, you know, and I cut sticks just to show them. I
don't believe I told you that my Governor was the Earl of Ardsley.
Funny you should bob against them in the Park. If you damaged that
horse of mine I'll never forgive you. I'm going to buy him and take
him back with me. Oh, yes, and I think my sister--Lady Angela, you
know--wants particularly for you to come up to the hotel with me
this evening. Didn't lose my badge, did you, Remsen? I've got to
turn that in at Headquarters when I resign."
Blinker was displeased. A man of less culture and poise and wealth
would have sworn. But Blinker always remembered that he was a
gentleman--a thing that no gentleman should do. So he merely looked
bored and sardonic while he rode in a hansom to the center of
disturbance, which was the Broadway office of Lawyer Oldport, who
was agent for the Blinker estate.
"I don't see," said Blinker, "why I should be always signing
confounded papers. I am packed, and was to have left for the North
Woods this morning. Now I must wait until to-morrow morning. I hate
night trains. My best razors are, of course, at the bottom of some
unidentifiable trunk. It is a plot to drive me to bay rum and a
monologueing, thumb-handed barber. Give me a pen that doesn't
scratch. I hate pens that scratch."
"Sit down," said double-chinned, gray Lawyer Oldport. "The worst has
not been told you. Oh, the hardships of the rich! The papers are not
yet ready to sign. They will be laid before you to-morrow at eleven.
You will miss another day. Twice shall the barber tweak the helpless
nose of a Blinker. Be thankful that your sorrows do not embrace a
"If," said Blinker, rising, "the act did not involve more signing of
papers I would take my business out of your hands at once. Give me a
"If," said Lawyer Oldport, "I had cared to see an old friend's son
gulped down at one mouthful by sharks I would have ordered you to
take it away long ago. Now, let's quit fooling, Alexander. Besides
the grinding task of signing your name some thirty times to-morrow,
I must impose upon you the consideration of a matter of business--of
business, and I may say humanity or right. I spoke to you about
this five years ago, but you would not listen--you were in a hurry
for a coaching trip, I think. The subject has come up again. The
"Oh, property!" interrupted Blinker. "Dear Mr. Oldport, I
think you mentioned to-morrow. Let's have it all at one dose
to-morrow--signatures and property and snappy rubber bands and that
smelly sealing-wax and all. Have luncheon with me? Well, I'll try
to remember to drop in at eleven to-morrow. Morning."
The Blinker wealth was in lands, tenements and hereditaments, as the
legal phrase goes. Lawyer Oldport had once taken Alexander in his
little pulmonary gasoline runabout to see the many buildings and
rows of buildings that he owned in the city. For Alexander was
sole heir. They had amused Blinker very much. The houses looked so
incapable of producing the big sums of money that Lawyer Oldport
kept piling up in banks for him to spend.
In the evening Blinker went to one of his clubs, intending to dine.
Nobody was there except some old fogies playing whist who spoke to
him with grave politeness and glared at him with savage contempt.
Everybody was out of town. But here he was kept in like a schoolboy
to write his name over and over on pieces of paper. His wounds were
Blinker turned his back on the fogies, and said to the club steward
who had come forward with some nonsense about cold fresh salmon roe:
"Symons, I'm going to Coney Island." He said it as one might say:
"All's off; I'm going to jump into the river."
The joke pleased Symons. He laughed within a sixteenth of a note of
the audibility permitted by the laws governing employees.
"Certainly, sir," he tittered. "Of course, sir, I think I can see
you at Coney, Mr. Blinker."
Blinker got a pager and looked up the movements of Sunday
steamboats. Then he found a cab at the first corner and drove to a
North River pier. He stood in line, as democratic as you or I, and
bought a ticket, and was trampled upon and shoved forward until,
at last, he found himself on the upper deck of the boat staring
brazenly at a girl who sat alone upon a camp stool. But Blinker did
not intend to be brazen; the girl was so wonderfully good looking
that he forgot for one minute that he was the prince incog, and
behaved just as he did in society.
She was looking at him, too, and not severely. A puff of wind
threatened Blinker's straw hat. He caught it warily and settled it
again. The movement gave the effect of a bow. The girl nodded and
smiled, and in another instant he was seated at her side. She was
dressed all in white, she was paler than Blinker imagined milkmaids
and girls of humble stations to be, but she was as tidy as a cherry
blossom, and her steady, supremely frank gray eyes looked out from
the intrepid depths of an unshadowed and untroubled soul.
"How dare you raise your hat to me?" she asked, with a smile-redeemed
"I didn't," Blinker said, but he quickly covered the mistake by
extending it to "I didn't know how to keep from it after I saw you."
"I do not allow gentlemen to sit by me to whom I have not been
introduced," she said, with a sudden haughtiness that deceived him.
He rose reluctantly, but her clear, teasing laugh brought him down
to his chair again.
"I guess you weren't going far," she declared, with beauty's
"Are you going to Coney Island?" asked Blinker.
"Me?" She turned upon him wide-open eyes full of bantering surprise.
"Why, what a question! Can't you see that I'm riding a bicycle in
the park?" Her drollery took the form of impertinence.
"And I am laying brick on a tall factory chimney," said Blinker.
"Mayn't we see Coney together? I'm all alone and I've never been
there before." "It depends," said the girl, "on how nicely you
behave. I'll consider your application until we get there."
Blinker took pains to provide against the rejection of his
application. He strove to please. To adopt the metaphor of his
nonsensical phrase, he laid brick upon brick on the tall chimney of
his devoirs until, at length, the structure was stable and complete.
The manners of the best society come around finally to simplicity;
and as the girl's way was that naturally, they were on a mutual
plane of communication from the beginning.
He learned that she was twenty, and her name was Florence; that she
trimmed hats in a millinery shop; that she lived in a furnished room
with her best chum Ella, who was cashier in a shoe store; and that
a glass of milk from the bottle on the window-sill and an egg that
boils itself while you twist up your hair makes a breakfast good
enough for any one. Florence laughed when she heard "Blinker."
"Well," she said. "It certainly slows that you have imagination. It
gives the 'Smiths' a chance for a little rest, anyhow."
They landed at Coney, and were dashed on the crest of a great human
wave of mad pleasure-seekers into the walks and avenues of Fairyland
gone into vaudeville.
With a curious eye, a critical mind and a fairly withheld judgment
Blinker considered the temples, pagodas and kiosks of popularized
delights. Hoi polloi trampled, hustled and crowded him. Basket
parties bumped him; sticky children tumbled, howling, under his
feet, candying his clothes. Insolent youths strolling among the
booths with hard-won canes under one arm and easily won girls on
the other, blew defiant smoke from cheap cigars into his face. The
publicity gentlemen with megaphones, each before his own stupendous
attraction, roared like Niagara in his ears. Music of all kinds that
could be tortured from brass, reed, hide or string, fought in the
air to grain space for its vibrations against its competitors. But
what held Blinker in awful fascination was the mob, the multitude,
the proletariat shrieking, struggling, hurrying, panting, hurling
itself in incontinent frenzy, with unabashed abandon, into the
ridiculous sham palaces of trumpery and tinsel pleasures, The
vulgarity of it, its brutal overriding of all the tenets of
repression and taste that were held by his caste, repelled him
In the midst of his disgust he turned and looked down at Florence
by his side. She was ready with her quick smile and upturned, happy
eyes, as bright and clear as the water in trout pools. The eyes were
saying that they had the right to be shining and happy, for was
their owner not with her (for the present) Man, her Gentleman Friend
and holder of the keys to the enchanted city of fun?
Blinker did not read her look accurately, but by some miracle he
suddenly saw Coney aright.
He no longer saw a mass of vulgarians seeking gross joys. He now
looked clearly upon a hundred thousand true idealists. Their
offenses were wiped out. Counterfeit and false though the garish
joys of these spangled temples were, he perceived that deep
under the gilt surface they offered saving and apposite balm and
satisfaction to the restless human heart. Here, at least, was the
husk of Romance, the empty but shining casque of Chivalry, the
breath-catching though safe-guarded dip and flight of Adventure, the
magic carpet that transports you to the realms of fairyland, though
its journey be through but a few poor yards of space. He no longer
saw a rabble, but his brothers seeking the ideal. There was no magic
of poesy here or of art; but the glamour of their imagination turned
yellow calico into cloth of gold and the megaphones into the silver
trumpets of joy's heralds.
Almost humbled, Blinker rolled up the shirt sleeves of his mind and
joined the idealists.
"You are the lady doctor," he said to Florence. "How shall we go
about doing this jolly conglomeration of fairy tales, incorporated?"
"We will begin there," said the Princess, pointing to a fun pagoda
on the edge of the sea, "and we will take them all in, one by one."
They caught the eight o'clock returning boat and sat, filled with
pleasant fatigue, against the rail in the bow, listening to the
Italians' fiddle and harp. Blinker had thrown off all care. The
North Woods seemed to him an uninhabitable wilderness. What a fuss
he had made over signing his name--pooh! he could sign it a hundred
times. And her name was as pretty as she was--"Florence," he said it
to himself a great many times.
As the boat was nearing its pier in the North River a two-funnelled,
drab, foreign-looking sea-going steamer was dropping down toward the
bay. The boat turned its nose in toward its slip. The steamer veered
as if to seek midstream, and then yawed, seemed to increase its
speed and struck the Coney boat on the side near the stern, cutting
into it with a terrifying shock and crash.
While the six hundred passengers on the boat were mostly tumbling
about the decks in a shrieking panic the captain was shouting at the
steamer that it should not back off and leave the rent exposed for
the water to enter. But the steamer tore its way out like a savage
sawfish and cleaved its heartless way, full speed ahead.
The boat began to sink at its stern, but moved slowly toward the
slip. The passengers were a frantic mob, unpleasant to behold.
Blinker held Florence tightly until the boat had righted itself.
She made no sound or sign of fear. He stood on a camp stool, ripped
off the slats above his head and pulled down a number of the life
preservers. He began to buckle one around Florence. The rotten
canvas split and the fraudulent granulated cork came pouring out in
a stream. Florence caught a handful of it and laughed gleefully.
"It looks like breakfast food," she said. "Take it off. They're no
She unbuckled it and threw it on the deck. She made Blinker sit down
and sat by his side and put her hand in his. "What'll you bet we
don't reach the pier all right?" she said and began to hum a song.
And now the captain moved among the passengers and compelled order.
The boat would undoubtedly make her slip, he said, and ordered the
women and children to the bow, where they could land first. The
boat, very low in the water at the stern, tried gallantly to make
his promise good.
"Florence," said Blinker, as she held him close by an arm and hand,
"I love you."
"That's what they all say," she replied, lightly.
"I am not one of 'they all,'" he persisted. "I never knew any one I
could love before. I could pass my life with you and be happy every
day. I am rich. I can make things all right for you."
"That's what they all say," said the girl again, weaving the words
into her little, reckless song.
"Don't say that again," said Blinker in a tone that made her look at
him in frank surprise.
"Why shouldn't I say it?" she asked calmly. "They all do."
"Who are 'they'?" he asked, jealous for the first time in his
"Why, the fellows I know."
"Do you know so many?"
"Oh, well, I'm not a wall flower," she answered with modest
"Where do you see these--these men? At your home?"
"Of course not. I meet them just as I did you. Sometimes on the
boat, sometimes in the park, sometimes on the street. I'm a pretty
good judge of a man. I can tell in a minute if a fellow is one who
is likely to get fresh."
"What do you mean by 'fresh?'"
"Why, try to kiss you--me, I mean."
"Do any of them try that?" asked Blinker, clenching his teeth.
"Sure. All men do. You know that."
"Do you allow them?"
"Some. Not many. They won't take you out anywhere unless you do."
She turned her head and looked searchingly at Blinker. Her eyes
were as innocent as a child's. There was a puzzled look in them,
as though she did not understand him.
"What's wrong about my meeting fellows?" she asked, wonderingly.
"Everything," he answered, almost savagely. "Why don't you entertain
your company in the house where you live? Is it necessary to pick up
Tom, Dick and Harry on the streets?"
She kept her absolutely ingenuous eyes upon his. "If you could see
the place where I live you wouldn't ask that. I live in Brickdust
Row. They call it that because there's red dust from the bricks
crumbling over everything. I've lived there for more than four
years. There's no place to receive company. You can't have anybody
come to your room. What else is there to do? A girl has got to meet
the men, hasn't she?"
"Yes," he said, hoarsely. "A girl has got to meet a--has got to meet
"The first time one spoke to me on the street," she continued, "I
ran home and cried all night. But you get used to it. I meet a good
many nice fellows at church. I go on rainy days and stand in the
vestibule until one comes up with an umbrella. I wish there was a
parlor, so I could ask you to call, Mr. Blinker--are you really sure
it isn't 'Smith,' now?"
The boat landed safely. Blinker had a confused impression of walking
with the girl through quiet crosstown streets until she stopped at a
corner and held out her hand.
"I live just one more block over," she said. "Thank you for a very
Blinker muttered something and plunged northward till he found a
cab. A big, gray church loomed slowly at his right. Blinker shook
his fist at it through the window.
"I gave you a thousand dollars last, week," he cried under his
breath, "and she meets them in your very doors. There is something
wrong; there is something wrong."
At eleven the next day Blinker signed his name thirty times with a
new pen provided by Lawyer Oldport.
"Now let me go to the woods," he said surlily.
"You are not looking well," said Lawyer Oldport. "The trip will do
you good. But listen, if you will, to that little matter of business
of which I spoke to you yesterday, and also five years ago. There
are some buildings, fifteen in number, of which there are new
five-year leases to be signed. Your father contemplated a change in
the lease provisions, but never made it. He intended that the parlors
of these houses should not be sub-let, but that the tenants should be
allowed to use them for reception rooms. These houses are in the
shopping district, and are mainly tenanted by young working girls.
As it is they are forced to seek companionship outside. This row of
Blinker interrupted him with a loud, discordant laugh.
"Brickdust Row for an even hundred," he cried. "And I own it. Have I
"The tenants have some such name for it," said Lawyer Oldport.
Blinker arose and jammed his hat down to his eyes.
"Do what you please with it," he said harshly. "Remodel it, burn it,
raze it to the ground. But, man, it's too late I tell you. It's too
late. It's too late. It's too late."
THE MAKING OF A NEW YORKER
Besides many other things, Raggles was a poet. He was called a
tramp; but that was only an elliptical way of saying that he was a
philosopher, an artist, a traveller, a naturalist and a discoverer.
But most of all he was a poet. In all his life he never wrote a
line of verse; he lived his poetry. His Odyssey would have been
a Limerick, had it been written. But, to linger with the primary
proposition, Raggles was a poet.
Raggles's specialty, had he been driven to ink and paper, would have
been sonnets to the cities. He studied cities as women study their
reflections in mirrors; as children study the glue and sawdust of a
dislocated doll; as the men who write about wild animals study the
cages in the zoo. A city to Raggles was not merely a pile of bricks
and mortar, peopled by a certain number of inhabitants; it was
a thing with a soul characteristic and distinct; an individual
conglomeration of life, with its own peculiar essence, flavor and
feeling. Two thousand miles to the north and south, east and west,
Raggles wandered in poetic fervor, taking the cities to his breast.
He footed it on dusty roads, or sped magnificently in freight cars,
counting time as of no account. And when he had found the heart of a
city and listened to its secret confession, he strayed on, restless,
to another. Fickle Raggles!--but perhaps he had not met the civic
corporation that could engage and hold his critical fancy.
Through the ancient poets we have learned that the cities are
feminine. So they were to poet Raggles; and his mind carried a
concrete and clear conception of the figure that symbolized and
typified each one that he had wooed.
Chicago seemed to swoop down upon him with a breezy suggestion of
Mrs. Partington, plumes and patchouli, and to disturb his rest with
a soaring and beautiful song of future promise. But Raggles would
awake to a sense of shivering cold and a haunting impression of
ideals lost in a depressing aura of potato salad and fish.
Thus Chicago affected him. Perhaps there is a vagueness and
inaccuracy in the description; but that is Raggles's fault. He
should have recorded his sensations in magazine poems.
Pittsburg impressed him as the play of "Othello" performed in the
Russian language in a railroad station by Dockstader's minstrels.
A royal and generous lady this Pittsburg, though--homely, hearty,
with flushed face, washing the dishes in a silk dress and white kid
slippers, and bidding Raggles sit before the roaring fireplace and
drink champagne with his pigs' feet and fried potatoes.
New Orleans had simply gazed down upon him from a balcony. He could
see her pensive, starry eyes and catch the flutter of her fan, and
that was all. Only once he came face to face with her. It was at
dawn, when she was flushing the red bricks of the banquette with
a pail of water. She laughed and hummed a chansonette and filled
Raggles's shoes with ice-cold water. Allons!
Boston construed herself to the poetic Raggles in an erratic and
singular way. It seemed to him that he had drunk cold tea and that
the city was a white, cold cloth that had been bound tightly around
his brow to spur him to some unknown but tremendous mental effort.
And, after all, he came to shovel snow for a livelihood; and the
cloth, becoming wet, tightened its knots and could not be removed.
Indefinite and unintelligible ideas, you will say; but your
disapprobation should be tempered with gratitude, for these are
poets' fancies--and suppose you had come upon them in verse!
One day Raggles came and laid siege to the heart of the great city
of Manhattan. She was the greatest of all; and he wanted to learn
her note in the scale; to taste and appraise and classify and solve
and label her and arrange her with the other cities that had given
him up the secret of their individuality. And here we cease to be
Raggles's translator and become his chronicler.
Raggles landed from a ferry-boat one morning and walked into the
core of the town with the blasé air of a cosmopolite. He was dressed
with care to play the rôle of an "unidentified man." No country,
race, class, clique, union, party clan or bowling association could
have claimed him. His clothing, which had been donated to him
piece-meal by citizens of different height, but same number of inches
around the heart, was not yet as uncomfortable to his figure as
those speciments of raiment, self-measured, that are railroaded to
you by transcontinental tailors with a suit case, suspenders, silk
handkerchief and pearl studs as a bonus. Without money--as a poet
should be--but with the ardor of an astronomer discovering a new
star in the chorus of the milky way, or a man who has seen ink
suddenly flow from his fountain pen, Raggles wandered into the great
Late in the afternoon he drew out of the roar and commotion
with a look of dumb terror on his countenance. He was defeated,
puzzled, discomfited, frightened. Other cities had been to him
as long primer to read; as country maidens quickly to fathom; as
send-price-of-subscription-with-answer rebuses to solve; as oyster
cocktails to swallow; but here was one as cold, glittering, serene,
impossible as a four-carat diamond in a window to a lover outside
fingering damply in his pocket his ribbon-counter salary.
The greetings of the other cities he had known--their homespun
kindliness, their human gamut of rough charity, friendly curses,
garrulous curiosity and easily estimated credulity or indifference.
This city of Manhattan gave him no clue; it was walled against him.
Like a river of adamant it flowed past him in the streets. Never an
eye was turned upon him; no voice spoke to him. His heart yearned
for the clap of Pittsburg's sooty hand on his shoulder; for
Chicago's menacing but social yawp in his ear; for the pale and
eleemosynary stare through the Bostonian eyeglass--even for the
precipitate but unmalicious boot-toe of Louisville or St. Louis.
On Broadway Raggles, successful suitor of many cities, stood,
bashful, like any country swain. For the first time he experienced
the poignant humiliation of being ignored. And when he tried to
reduce this brilliant, swiftly changing, ice-cold city to a formula
he failed utterly. Poet though he was, it offered him no color
similes, no points of comparison, no flaw in its polished facets,
no handle by which he could hold it up and view its shape and
structure, as he familiarly and often contemptuously had done with
other towns. The houses were interminable ramparts loopholed for
defense; the people were bright but bloodless spectres passing in
sinister and selfish array.
The thing that weighed heaviest on Raggles's soul and clogged his
poet's fancy was the spirit of absolute egotism that seemed to
saturate the people as toys are saturated with paint. Each one that
he considered appeared a monster of abominable and insolent conceit.
Humanity was gone from them; they were toddling idols of stone and
varnish, worshipping themselves and greedy for though oblivious of
worship from their fellow graven images. Frozen, cruel, implacable,
impervious, cut to an identical pattern, they hurried on their ways
like statues brought by some miracles to motion, while soul and
feeling lay unaroused in the reluctant marble.
Gradually Raggles became conscious of certain types. One was an
elderly gentleman with a snow-white, short beard, pink, unwrinkled
face and stony, sharp blue eyes, attired in the fashion of a gilded
youth, who seemed to personify the city's wealth, ripeness and
frigid unconcern. Another type was a woman, tall, beautiful,
clear as a steel engraving, goddess-like, calm, clothed like the
princesses of old, with eyes as coldly blue as the reflection of
sunlight on a glacier. And another was a by-product of this town of
marionettes--a broad, swaggering, grim, threateningly sedate fellow,
with a jowl as large as a harvested wheat field, the complexion of
a baptized infant and the knuckles of a prize-fighter. This type
leaned against cigar signs and viewed the world with frappéd
A poet is a sensitive creature, and Raggles soon shrivelled in
the bleak embrace of the undecipherable. The chill, sphinx-like,
ironical, illegible, unnatural, ruthless expression of the city left
him downcast and bewildered. Had it no heart? Better the woodpile,
the scolding of vinegar-faced housewives at back doors, the kindly
spleen of bartenders behind provincial free-lunch counters, the
amiable truculence of rural constables, the kicks, arrests and
happy-go-lucky chances of the other vulgar, loud, crude cities than
this freezing heartlessness.
Raggles summoned his courage and sought alms from the populace.
Unheeding, regardless, they passed on without the wink of an eyelash
to testify that they were conscious of his existence. And then he
said to himself that this fair but pitiless city of Manhattan was
without a soul; that its inhabitants were manikins moved by wires
and springs, and that he was alone in a great wilderness.
Raggles started to cross the street. There was a blast, a roar, a
hissing and a crash as something struck him and hurled him over and
over six yards from where he had been. As he was coming down like
the stick of a rocket the earth and all the cities thereof turned to
a fractured dream.
Raggles opened his eyes. First an odor made itself known to him--an
odor of the earliest spring flowers of Paradise. And then a hand
soft as a falling petal touched his brow. Bending over him was the
woman clothed like the princess of old, with blue eyes, now soft and
humid with human sympathy. Under his head on the pavement were silks
and furs. With Raggles's hat in his hand and with his face pinker
than ever from a vehement burst of oratory against reckless driving,
stood the elderly gentleman who personified the city's wealth and
ripeness. From a nearby café hurried the by-product with the vast
jowl and baby complexion, bearing a glass full of a crimson fluid
that suggested delightful possibilities.
"Drink dis, sport," said the by-product, holding the glass to
Hundreds of people huddled around in a moment, their faces wearing
the deepest concern. Two flattering and gorgeous policemen got into
the circle and pressed back the overplus of Samaritans. An old lady
in a black shawl spoke loudly of camphor; a newsboy slipped one
of his papers beneath Raggles's elbow, where it lay on the muddy
pavement. A brisk young man with a notebook was asking for names.
A bell clanged importantly, and the ambulance cleaned a lane through
the crowd. A cool surgeon slipped into the midst of affairs.
"How do you feel, old man?" asked the surgeon, stooping easily to
his task. The princess of silks and satins wiped a red drop or two
from Raggles's brow with a fragrant cobweb.
"Me?" said Raggles, with a seraphic smile, "I feel fine."
He had found the heart of his new city.
In three days they let him leave his cot for the convalescent ward
in the hospital. He had been in there an hour when the attendants
heard sounds of conflict. Upon investigation they found that Raggles
had assaulted and damaged a brother convalescent--a glowering
transient whom a freight train collision had sent in to be patched
"What's all this about?" inquired the head nurse.
"He was runnin' down me town," said Raggles.
"What town?" asked the nurse.
"Noo York," said Raggles.
VANITY AND SOME SABLES
When "Kid" Brady was sent to the rope by Molly McKeever's blue-black
eyes he withdrew from the Stovepipe Gang. So much for the power of
a colleen's blanderin' tongue and stubborn true-heartedness. If you
are a man who read this, may such an influence be sent you before 2
o'clock to-morrow; if you are a woman, may your Pomeranian greet you
this morning with a cold nose--a sign of doghealth and your
The Stovepipe Gang borrowed its name from a sub-district of the city
called the "Stovepipe," which is a narrow and natural extension of
the familiar district known as "Hell's Kitchen." The "Stovepipe"
strip of town runs along Eleventh and Twelfth avenues on the river,
and bends a hard and sooty elbow around little, lost homeless DeWitt
Clinton park. Consider that a stovepipe is an important factor in
any kitchen and the situation is analyzed. The chefs in "Hell's
Kitchen" are many, and the "Stovepipe" gang, wears the cordon blue.
The members of this unchartered but widely known brotherhood
appeared to pass their time on street corners arrayed like the
lilies of the conservatory and busy with nail files and penknives.
Thus displayed as a guarantee of good faith, they carried on an
innocuous conversation in a 200-word vocabulary, to the casual
observer as innocent and immaterial as that heard in clubs seven
blocks to the east.
But off exhibition the "Stovepipes" were not mere street corner
ornaments addicted to posing and manicuring. Their serious
occupation was the separating of citizens from their coin and
valuables. Preferably this was done by weird and singular tricks
without noise or bloodshed; but whenever the citizen honored by
their attentions refused to impoverish himself gracefully his
objections came to be spread finally upon some police station
blotter or hospital register.
The police held the "Stovepipe" gang in perpetual suspicion and
respect. As the nightingale's liquid note is heard in the deepest
shadows, so along the "Stovepipe's" dark and narrow confines the
whistle for reserves punctures the dull ear of night. Whenever there
was smoke in the "stovepipe" the tasselled men in blue knew there
was fire in "Hell's Kitchen."
"Kid" Brady promised Molly to be good. "Kid" was the vainest, the
strongest, the wariest and the most successful plotter in the gang.
Therefore, the boys were sorry to give him up.
But they witnessed his fall to a virtuous life without protest.
For, in the Kitchen it is considered neither unmanly nor improper
for a guy to do as his girl advises.
Black her eye for love's sake, if you will; but it is
all-to-the-good business to do a thing when she wants you to do it.
"Turn off the hydrant," said the Kid, one night when Molly, tearful,
besought him to amend his ways. "I'm going to cut out the gang. You
for mine, and the simple life on the side. I'll tell you, Moll--I'll
get work; and in a year we'll get married. I'll do it for you. We'll
get a flat and a flute, and a sewing machine and a rubber plant and
live as honest as we can."
"Oh, Kid," sighed Molly, wiping the powder off his shoulder with her
handkerchief, "I'd rather hear you say that than to own all of New
York. And we can be happy on so little!"
The Kid looked down at his speckless cuffs and shining patent
leathers with a suspicion of melancholy.
"It'll hurt hardest in the rags department," said he. "I've kind
of always liked to rig out swell when I could. You know how I hate
cheap things, Moll. This suit set me back sixty-five. Anything in
the wearing apparel line has got to be just so, or it's to the
misfit parlors for it, for mine. If I work I won't have so much coin
to hand over to the little man with the big shears."
"Never mind, Kid. I'll like you just as much in a blue jumper as I
would in a red automobile."
Before the Kid had grown large enough to knock out his father he
had been compelled to learn the plumber's art. So now back to this
honorable and useful profession he returned. But it was as an
assistant that he engaged himself; and it is the master plumber and
not the assistant, who wears diamonds as large as hailstones and
looks contemptuously upon the marble colonnades of Senator Clark's
Eight months went by as smoothly and surely as though they had
"elapsed" on a theater program. The Kid worked away at his pipes and
solder with no symptoms of backsliding. The Stovepipe gang continued
its piracy on the high avenues, cracked policemen's heads, held up
late travelers, invented new methods of peaceful plundering, copied
Fifth avenue's cut of clothes and neckwear fancies and comported
itself according to its lawless bylaws. But the Kid stood firm and
faithful to his Molly, even though the polish was gone from his
fingernails and it took him 15 minutes to tie his purple silk ascot
so that the worn places would not show.
One evening he brought a mysterious bundle with him to Molly's
"Open that, Moll!" he said in his large, quiet way. "It's for you."
Molly's eager fingers tore off the wrappings. She shrieked aloud,
and in rushed a sprinkling of little McKeevers, and Ma McKeever,
dishwashy, but an undeniable relative of the late Mrs. Eve.
Again Molly shrieked, and something dark and long and sinuous flew
and enveloped her neck like an anaconda.
"Russian sables," said the Kid, pridefully, enjoying the sight of
Molly's round cheek against the clinging fur. "The real thing. They
don't grow anything in Russia too good for you, Moll."
Molly plunged her hands into the muff, overturned a row of the
family infants and flew to the mirror. Hint for the beauty column.
To make bright eyes, rosy checks and a bewitching smile: Recipe--one
set Russian sables. Apply.
When they were alone Molly became aware of a small cake of the ice
of common sense floating down the full tide of her happiness.
"You're a bird, all right, Kid," she admitted gratefully. "I never
had any furs on before in my life. But ain't Russian sables awful
expensive? Seems to me I've heard they were."
"Have I ever chucked any bargain-sale stuff at you, Moll?" asked
the Kid, with calm dignity. "Did you ever notice me leaning on the
remnant counter or peering in the window of the five-and-ten? Call
that scarf $250 and the muff $175 and you won't make any mistake
about the price of Russian sables. The swell goods for me. Say, they
look fine on you, Moll."
Molly hugged the sables to her bosom in rapture. And then her smile
went away little by little, and she looked the Kid straight in the
eye sadly and steadily.
He knew what every look of hers meant; and he laughed with a faint
flush upon his face.
"Cut it out," he said, with affectionate roughness. "I told you I
was done with that. I bought 'em and paid for 'em, all right, with
my own money."
"Out of the money you worked for, Kid? Out of $75 a month?"
"Sure. I been saving up."
"Let's see--saved $425 in eight months, Kid?"
"Ah, let up," said the Kid, with some heat. "I had some money when
I went to work. Do you think I've been holding 'em up again? I told
you I'd quit. They're paid for on the square. Put 'em on and come
out for a walk."
Molly calmed her doubts. Sables are soothing. Proud as a queen she
went forth in the streets at the Kid's side. In all that region of
low-lying streets Russian sables had never been seen before. The
word sped, and doors and windows blossomed with heads eager to see
the swell furs Kid Brady had given his girl. All down the street
there were "Oh's" and "Ah's" and the reported fabulous sum paid for
the sables was passed from lip to lip, increasing as it went. At her
right elbow sauntered the Kid with the air of princes. Work had not
diminished his love of pomp and show and his passion for the costly
and genuine. On a corner they saw a group of the Stovepipe Gang
loafing, immaculate. They raised their hats to the Kid's girl and
went on with their calm, unaccented palaver.
Three blocks behind the admired couple strolled Detective Ransom, of
the Central office. Ransom was the only detective on the force who
could walk abroad with safety in the Stovepipe district. He was fair
dealing and unafraid and went there with the hypothesis that the
inhabitants were human. Many liked him, and now and then one would
tip off to him something that he was looking for.
"What's the excitement down the street?" asked Ransom of a pale
youth in a red sweater.
"Dey're out rubberin' at a set of buffalo robes Kid Brady staked his
girl to," answered the youth. "Some say he paid $900 for de skins.
Dey're swell all right enough."
"I hear Brady has been working at his old trade for nearly a year,"
said the detective. "He doesn't travel with the gang any more, does
"He's workin', all right," said the red sweater, "but--say, sport,
are you trailin' anything in the fur line? A job in a plumbin' shop
don' match wid dem skins de Kid's girl's got on."
Ransom overtook the strolling couple on an empty street near the
river bank. He touched the Kid's arm from behind.
"Let me see you a moment, Brady," he said, quietly. His eye rested
for a second on the long fur scarf thrown stylishly back over
Molly's left shoulder. The Kid, with his old-time police hating
frown on his face, stepped a yard or two aside with the detective.
"Did you go to Mrs. Hethcote's on West 7--th street yesterday to fix
a leaky water pipe?" asked Ransom.
"I did," said the Kid. "What of it?"
"The lady's $1,000 set of Russian sables went out of the house about
the same time you did. The description fits the ones this lady has
"To h--Harlem with you," cried the Kid, angrily. "You know I've
cut out that sort of thing, Ransom. I bought them sables yesterday
The Kid stopped short.
"I know you've been working straight lately," said Ransom. "I'll
give you every chance. I'll go with you where you say you bought the
furs and investigate. The lady can wear 'em along with us and
nobody'll be on. That's fair, Brady."
"Come on," agreed the Kid, hotly. And then he stopped suddenly in
his tracks and looked with an odd smile at Molly's distressed and
"No use," he said, grimly. "They're the Hethcote sables, all right.
You'll have to turn 'em over, Moll, but they ain't too good for you
if they cost a million."
Molly, with anguish in her face, hung upon the Kid's arm.
"Oh, Kiddy, you've broke my heart," she said. "I was so proud of
you--and now they'll do you--and where's our happiness gone?"
"Go home," said the Kid, wildly. "Come on, Ransom--take the furs.
Let's get away from here. Wait a minute--I've a good mind to--no,
I'll be d---- if I can do it--run along, Moll--I'm ready, Ransom."
Around the corner of a lumber-yard came Policeman Kohen on his
way to his beat along the river. The detective signed to him for
assistance. Kohen joined the group. Ransom explained.
"Sure," said Kohen. "I hear about those saples dat vas stole. You
say you have dem here?"
Policeman Kohen took the end of Molly's late scarf in his hands and
looked at it closely.
"Once," he said, "I sold furs in Sixth avenue. Yes, dese are saples.
Dey come from Alaska. Dis scarf is vort $12 and dis muff--"
"Biff!" came the palm of the Kid's powerful hand upon the policeman's
mouth. Kohen staggered and rallied. Molly screamed. The detective
threw himself upon Brady and with Kohen's aid got the nippers on his
"The scarf is vort $12 and the muff is vort $9," persisted the
policeman. "Vot is dis talk about $1,000 saples?"
The Kid sat upon a pile of lumber and his face turned dark red.
"Correct, Solomonski!" he declared, viciously. "I paid $21.50 for
the set. I'd rather have got six months and not have told it. Me,
the swell guy that wouldn't look at anything cheap! I'm a plain
bluffer. Moll--my salary couldn't spell sables in Russian."
Molly cast herself upon his neck.
"What do I care for all the sables and money in the world," she
cried. "It's my Kiddy I want. Oh, you dear, stuck-up, crazy
"You can take dose nippers off," said Kohen to the detective."
Before I leaf de station de report come in dat de lady vind her
saples--hanging in her wardrobe. Young man, I excuse you dat punch
in my vace--dis von time."
Ransom handed Molly her furs. Her eyes were smiling upon the Kid.
She wound the scarf and threw the end over her left shoulder with a
"A gouple of young vools," said Policeman Kohen to Ransom; "come on
THE SOCIAL TRIANGLE
At the stroke of six Ikey Snigglefritz laid down his goose. Ikey was
a tailor's apprentice. Are there tailor's apprentices nowadays?
At any rate, Ikey toiled and snipped and basted and pressed and
patched and sponged all day in the steamy fetor of a tailor-shop.
But when work was done Ikey hitched his wagon to such stars as his
firmament let shine.
It was Saturday night, and the boss laid twelve begrimed and
begrudged dollars in his hand. Ikey dabbled discreetly in water,
donned coat, hat and collar with its frazzled tie and chalcedony
pin, and set forth in pursuit of his ideals.
For each of us, when our day's work is done, must seek our ideal,
whether it be love or pinochle or lobster à la Newburg, or the sweet
silence of the musty bookshelves.
Behold Ikey as he ambles up the street beneath the roaring "El"
between the rows of reeking sweat-shops. Pallid, stooping,
insignificant, squalid, doomed to exist forever in penury of body
and mind, yet, as he swings his cheap cane and projects the noisome
inhalations from his cigarette you perceive that he nurtures in his
narrow bosom the bacillus of society.
Ikey's legs carried him to and into that famous place of
entertainment known as the Café Maginnis--famous because it was the
rendezvous of Billy McMahan, the greatest man, the most wonderful
man, Ikey thought, that the world had ever produced.
Billy McMahan was the district leader. Upon him the Tiger purred,
and his hand held manna to scatter. Now, as Ikey entered, McMahan
stood, flushed and triumphant and mighty, the centre of a huzzaing
concourse of his lieutenants and constituents. It seems there had
been an election; a signal victory had been won; the city had been
swept back into line by a resistless besom of ballots.
Ikey slunk along the bar and gazed, breath-quickened, at his idol.
How magnificent was Billy McMahan, with his great, smooth, laughing
face; his gray eye, shrewd as a chicken hawk's; his diamond ring,
his voice like a bugle call, his prince's air, his plump and active
roll of money, his clarion call to friend and comrade--oh, what a
king of men he was! How he obscured his lieutenants, though they
themselves loomed large and serious, blue of chin and important
of mien, with hands buried deep in the pockets of their short
overcoats! But Billy--oh, what small avail are words to paint for
you his glory as seen by Ikey Snigglefritz!
The Café Maginnis rang to the note of victory. The white-coated
bartenders threw themselves featfully upon bottle, cork and glass.
From a score of clear Havanas the air received its paradox of
clouds. The leal and the hopeful shook Billy McMahan's hand. And
there was born suddenly in the worshipful soul of Ikey Snigglefritz
an audacious, thrilling impulse.
He stepped forward into the little cleared space in which majesty
moved, and held out his hand.
Billy McMahan grasped it unhesitatingly, shook it and smiled.
Made mad now by the gods who were about to destroy him, Ikey threw
away his scabbard and charged upon Olympus.
"Have a drink with me, Billy," he said familiarly, "you and your
"Don't mind if I do, old man," said the great leader, "just to keep
the ball rolling."
The last spark of Ikey's reason fled.
"Wine," he called to the bartender, waving a trembling hand.
The corks of three bottles were drawn; the champagne bubbled in
the long row of glasses set upon the bar. Billy McMahan took his
and nodded, with his beaming smile, at Ikey. The lieutenants and
satellites took theirs and growled "Here's to you." Ikey took his
nectar in delirium. All drank.
Ikey threw his week's wages in a crumpled roll upon the bar.
"C'rect," said the bartender, smoothing the twelve one-dollar notes.
The crowd surged around Billy McMahan again. Some one was telling
how Brannigan fixed 'em over in the Eleventh. Ikey leaned against
the bar a while, and then went out.
He went down Hester street and up Chrystie, and down Delancey to
where he lived. And there his women folk, a bibulous mother and
three dingy sisters, pounced upon him for his wages. And at his
confession they shrieked and objurgated him in the pithy rhetoric
of the locality.
But even as they plucked at him and struck him Ikey remained in his
ecstatic trance of joy. His head was in the clouds; the star was
drawing his wagon. Compared with what he had achieved the loss of
wages and the bray of women's tongues were slight affairs.
He had shaken the hand of Billy McMahan.
* * * * * * *
Billy McMahan had a wife, and upon her visiting cards was engraved
the name "Mrs. William Darragh McMahan." And there was a certain
vexation attendant upon these cards; for, small as they were, there
were houses in which they could not be inserted. Billy McMahan was
a dictator in politics, a four-walled tower in business, a mogul,
dreaded, loved and obeyed among his own people. He was growing rich;
the daily papers had a dozen men on his trail to chronicle his every
word of wisdom; he had been honored in caricature holding the Tiger
cringing in leash.
But the heart of Billy was sometimes sore within him. There was a
race of men from which he stood apart but that he viewed with the
eye of Moses looking over into the promised land. He, too, had
ideals, even as had Ikey Snigglefritz; and sometimes, hopeless of
attaining them, his own solid success was as dust and ashes in his
mouth. And Mrs. William Darragh McMahan wore a look of discontent
upon her plump but pretty face, and the very rustle of her silks
seemed a sigh.
There was a brave and conspicuous assemblage in the dining saloon
of a noted hostelry where Fashion loves to display her charms. At
one table sat Billy McMahan and his wife. Mostly silent they were,
but the accessories they enjoyed little needed the indorsement of
speech. Mrs. McMahan's diamonds were outshone by few in the room.
The waiter bore the costliest brands of wine to their table. In
evening dress, with an expression of gloom upon his smooth and
massive countenance, you would look in vain for a more striking
figure than Billy's.
Four tables away sat alone a tall, slender man, about thirty,
with thoughtful, melancholy eyes, a Van Dyke beard and peculiarly
white, thin hands. He was dining on filet mignon, dry toast and
apollinaris. That man was Cortlandt Van Duyckink, a man worth eighty
millions, who inherited and held a sacred seat in the exclusive
inner circle of society.
Billy McMahan spoke to no one around him, because he knew no one.
Van Duyckink kept his eyes on his plate because he knew that every
one present was hungry to catch his. He could bestow knighthood and
prestige by a nod, and he was chary of creating a too extensive
And then Billy McMahan conceived and accomplished the most startling
and audacious act of his life. He rose deliberately and walked over
to Cortlandt Van Duyckink's table and held out his hand.
"Say, Mr. Van Duyckink," he said, "I've heard you was talking about
starting some reforms among the poor people down in my district. I'm
McMahan, you know. Say, now, if that's straight I'll do all I can to
help you. And what I says goes in that neck of the woods, don't it?
Oh, say, I rather guess it does."
Van Duyckink's rather sombre eyes lighted up. He rose to his lank
height and grasped Billy McMahan's hand.
"Thank you, Mr. McMahan," he said, in his deep, serious tones. "I
have been thinking of doing some work of that sort. I shall be glad
of your assistance. It pleases me to have become acquainted with
Billy walked back to his seat. His shoulder was tingling from the
accolade bestowed by royalty. A hundred eyes were now turned upon
him in envy and new admiration. Mrs. William Darragh McMahan
trembled with ecstasy, so that her diamonds smote the eye almost
with pain. And now it was apparent that at many tables there were
those who suddenly remembered that they enjoyed Mr. McMahan's
acquaintance. He saw smiles and bows about him. He became enveloped
in the aura of dizzy greatness. His campaign coolness deserted him.
"Wine for that gang!" he commanded the waiter, pointing with his
finger. "Wine over there. Wine to those three gents by that green
bush. Tell 'em it's on me. D----n it! Wine for everybody!"
The waiter ventured to whisper that it was perhaps inexpedient to
carry out the order, in consideration of the dignity of the house
and its custom.
"All right," said Billy, "if it's against the rules. I wonder if
'twould do to send my friend Van Duyckink a bottle? No? Well, it'll
flow all right at the caffy to-night, just the same. It'll be rubber
boots for anybody who comes in there any time up to 2 A. M."
Billy McMahan was happy.
He had shaken the hand of Cortlandt Van Duyckink.
* * * * * * *
The big pale-gray auto with its shining metal work looked out
of place moving slowly among the push carts and trash-heaps on
the lower east side. So did Cortlandt Van Duyckink, with his
aristocratic face and white, thin hands, as he steered carefully
between the groups of ragged, scurrying youngsters in the streets.
And so did Miss Constance Schuyler, with her dim, ascetic beauty,
seated at his side.
"Oh, Cortlandt," she breathed, "isn't it sad that human beings have
to live in such wretchedness and poverty? And you--how noble it is
of you to think of them, to give your time and money to improve
Van Duyckink turned his solemn eyes upon her.
"It is little," he said, sadly, "that I can do. The question is a
large one, and belongs to society. But even individual effort is
not thrown away. Look, Constance! On this street I have arranged to
build soup kitchens, where no one who is hungry will be turned away.
And down this other street are the old buildings that I shall cause
to be torn down and there erect others in place of those death-traps
of fire and disease."
Down Delancey slowly crept the pale-gray auto. Away from it toddled
coveys of wondering, tangle-haired, barefooted, unwashed children.
It stopped before a crazy brick structure, foul and awry.
Van Duyckink alighted to examine at a better perspective one of the
leaning walls. Down the steps of the building came a young man who
seemed to epitomize its degradation, squalor and infelicity--a
narrow-chested, pale, unsavory young man, puffing at a cigarette.
Obeying a sudden impulse, Van Duyckink stepped out and warmly
grasped the hand of what seemed to him a living rebuke.
"I want to know you people," he said, sincerely. "I am going to help
you as much as I can. We shall be friends."
As the auto crept carefully away Cortlandt Van Duyckink felt an
unaccustomed glow about his heart. He was near to being a happy man.
He had shaken the hand of Ikey Snigglefritz.
THE PURPLE DRESS
We are to consider the shade known as purple. It is a color justly
in repute among the sons and daughters of man. Emperors claim it
for their especial dye. Good fellows everywhere seek to bring their
noses to the genial hue that follows the commingling of the red and
blue. We say of princes that they are born to the purple; and no
doubt they are, for the colic tinges their faces with the royal tint
equally with the snub-nosed countenance of a woodchopper's brat. All
women love it--when it is the fashion.
And now purple is being worn. You notice it on the streets. Of course
other colors are quite stylish as well--in fact, I saw a lovely thing
the other day in olive green albatross, with a triple-lapped flounce
skirt trimmed with insert squares of silk, and a draped fichu of lace
opening over a shirred vest and double puff sleeves with a lace band
holding two gathered frills--but you see lots of purple too. Oh, yes,
you do; just take a walk down Twenty-third street any afternoon.
Therefore Maida--the girl with the big brown eyes and cinnamon-colored
hair in the Bee-Hive Store--said to Grace--the girl with the
rhinestone brooch and peppermint-pepsin flavor to her speech--"I'm
going to have a purple dress--a tailor-made purple dress--for
"Oh, are you," said Grace, putting away some 7½ gloves into the
6¾ box. "Well, it's me for red. You see more red on Fifth avenue.
And the men all seem to like it."
"I like purple best," said Maida. "And old Schlegel has promised to
make it for $8. It's going to be lovely. I'm going to have a plaited
skirt and a blouse coat trimmed with a band of galloon under a white
cloth collar with two rows of--"
"Sly boots!" said Grace with an educated wink.
"--soutache braid over a surpliced white vest; and a plaited basque
"Sly boots--sly boots!" repeated Grace.
"--plaited gigot sleeves with a drawn velvet ribbon over an inside
cuff. What do you mean by saying that?"
"You think Mr. Ramsay likes purple. I heard him say yesterday he
thought some of the dark shades of red were stunning."
"I don't care," said Maida. "I prefer purple, and them that don't
like it can just take the other side of the street."
Which suggests the thought that after all, the followers of purple
may be subject to slight delusions. Danger is near when a maiden
thinks she can wear purple regardless of complexions and opinions;
and when Emperors think their purple robes will wear forever.
Maida had saved $18 after eight months of economy; and this had
bought the goods for the purple dress and paid Schlegel $4 on the
making of it. On the day before Thanksgiving she would have just
enough to pay the remaining $4. And then for a holiday in a new
dress--can earth offer anything more enchanting?
Old Bachman, the proprietor of the Bee-Hive Store, always gave a
Thanksgiving dinner to his employees. On every one of the subsequent
364 days, excusing Sundays, he would remind them of the joys of the
past banquet and the hopes of the coming ones, thus inciting them
to increased enthusiasm in work. The dinner was given in the store
on one of the long tables in the middle of the room. They tacked
wrapping paper over the front windows; and the turkeys and other
good things were brought in the back way from the restaurant on the
corner. You will perceive that the Bee-Hive was not a fashionable
department store, with escalators and pompadours. It was almost
small enough to be called an emporium; and you could actually go
in there and get waited on and walk out again. And always at the
Thanksgiving dinners Mr. Ramsay--
Oh, bother! I should have mentioned Mr. Ramsay first of all. He is
more important than purple or green, or even the red cranberry
Mr. Ramsay was the head clerk; and as far as I am concerned I am for
him. He never pinched the girls' arms when he passed them in dark
corners of the store; and when he told them stories when business
was dull and the girls giggled and said: "Oh, pshaw!" it wasn't G.
Bernard they meant at all. Besides being a gentleman, Mr. Ramsay
was queer and original in other ways. He was a health crank, and
believed that people should never eat anything that was good for
them. He was violently opposed to anybody being comfortable, and
coming in out of snow storms, or wearing overshoes, or taking
medicine, or coddling themselves in any way. Every one of the ten
girls in the store had little pork-chop-and-fried-onion dreams every
night of becoming Mrs. Ramsay. For, next year old Bachman was going
to take him in for a partner. And each one of them knew that if she
should catch him she would knock those cranky health notions of his
sky high before the wedding cake indigestion was over.
Mr. Ramsay was master of ceremonies at the dinners. Always they had
two Italians in to play a violin and harp and had a little dance in
And here were two dresses being conceived to charm Ramsay--one
purple and the other red. Of course, the other eight girls were
going to have dresses too, but they didn't count. Very likely
they'd wear some shirt-waist-and-black-skirt-affairs--nothing as
resplendent as purple or red.
Grace had saved her money, too. She was going to buy her dress
ready-made. Oh, what's the use of bothering with a tailor--when
you've got a figger it's easy to get a fit--the ready-made are
intended for a perfect figger--except I have to have 'em all taken
in at the waist--the average figger is so large waisted.
The night before Thanksgiving came. Maida hurried home, keen and
bright with the thoughts of the blessed morrow. Her thoughts were of
purple, but they were white themselves--the joyous enthusiasm of the
young for the pleasures that youth must have or wither. She knew
purple would become her, and--for the thousandth time she tried to
assure herself that it was purple Mr. Ramsay said he liked and not
red. She was going home first to get the $4 wrapped in a piece of
tissue paper in the bottom drawer of her dresser, and then she was
going to pay Schlegel and take the dress home herself.
Grace lived in the same house. She occupied the hall room above
At home Maida found clamor and confusion. The landlady's tongue
clattering sourly in the halls like a churn dasher dabbing in
buttermilk. And then Grace come down to her room crying with eyes as
red as any dress.
"She says I've got to get out," said Grace. "The old beast. Because
I owe her $4. She's put my trunk in the hall and locked the door. I
can't go anywhere else. I haven't got a cent of money."
"You had some yesterday," said Maida.
"I paid it on my dress," said Grace. "I thought she'd wait till next
week for the rent."
Sniffle, sniffle, sob, sniffle.
Out came--out it had to come--Maida's $4.
"You blessed darling," cried Grace, now a rainbow instead of sunset.
"I'll pay the mean old thing and then I'm going to try on my dress.
I think it's heavenly. Come up and look at it. I'll pay the money
back, a dollar a week--honest I will."
The dinner was to be at noon. At a quarter to twelve Grace switched
into Maida's room. Yes, she looked charming. Red was her color.
Maida sat by the window in her old cheviot skirt and blue waist
darning a st--. Oh, doing fancy work.
"Why, goodness me! ain't you dressed yet?" shrilled the red one.
"How does it fit in the back? Don't you think these velvet tabs look
awful swell? Why ain't you dressed, Maida?"
"My dress didn't get finished in time," said Maida. "I'm not going
to the dinner."
"That's too bad. Why, I'm awfully sorry, Maida. Why don't you put on
anything and come along--it's just the store folks, you know, and
they won't mind."
"I was set on my purple," said Maida. "If I can't have it I won't go
at all. Don't bother about me. Run along or you'll be late. You look
awful nice in red."
At her window Maida sat through the long morning and past the time
of the dinner at the store. In her mind she could hear the girls
shrieking over a pull-bone, could hear old Bachman's roar over his
own deeply-concealed jokes, could see the diamonds of fat Mrs.
Bachman, who came to the store only on Thanksgiving days, could see
Mr. Ramsay moving about, alert, kindly, looking to the comfort of
At four in the afternoon, with an expressionless face and a lifeless
air she slowly made her way to Schlegel's shop and told him she
could not pay the $4 due on the dress.
"Gott!" cried Schlegel, angrily. "For what do you look so glum? Take
him away. He is ready. Pay me some time. Haf I not seen you pass
mine shop every day in two years? If I make clothes is it that I do
not know how to read beoples because? You will pay me some time when
you can. Take him away. He is made goot; and if you look bretty in
him all right. So. Pay me when you can."
Maida breathed a millionth part of the thanks in her heart, and
hurried away with her dress. As she left the shop a smart dash of
rain struck upon her face. She smiled and did not feel it.
Ladies who shop in carriages, you do not understand. Girls whose
wardrobes are charged to the old man's account, you cannot begin to
comprehend--you could not understand why Maida did not feel the cold
dash of the Thanksgiving rain.
At five o'clock she went out upon the street wearing her purple
dress. The rain had increased, and it beat down upon her in a
steady, wind-blown pour. People were scurrying home and to cars with
close-held umbrellas and tight buttoned raincoats. Many of them
turned their heads to marvel at this beautiful, serene, happy-eyed
girl in the purple dress walking through the storm as though she
were strolling in a garden under summer skies.
I say you do not understand it, ladies of the full purse and varied
wardrobe. You do not know what it is to live with a perpetual
longing for pretty things--to starve eight months in order to bring
a purple dress and a holiday together. What difference if it rained,
hailed, blew, snowed, cycloned?
Maida had no umbrella nor overshoes. She had her purple dress and
she walked abroad. Let the elements do their worst. A starved heart
must have one crumb during a year. The rain ran down and dripped
from her fingers.
Some one turned a corner and blocked her way. She looked up into Mr.
Ramsay's eyes, sparkling with admiration and interest.
"Why, Miss Maida," said he, "you look simply magnificent in your
new dress. I was greatly disappointed not to see you at our dinner.
And of all the girls I ever knew, you show the greatest sense and
intelligence. There is nothing more healthful and invigorating than
braving the weather as you are doing. May I walk with you?"
And Maida blushed and sneezed.
THE FOREIGN POLICY OF COMPANY 99
John Byrnes, hose-cart driver of Engine Company No. 99, was
afflicted with what his comrades called Japanitis.
Byrnes had a war map spread permanently upon a table in the second
story of the engine-house, and he could explain to you at any hour
of the day or night the exact positions, conditions and intentions
of both the Russian and Japanese armies. He had little clusters of
pins stuck in the map which represented the opposing forces, and
these he moved about from day to day in conformity with the war news
in the daily papers.
Wherever the Japs won a victory John Byrnes would shift his pins,
and then he would execute a war dance of delight, and the other
firemen would hear him yell: "Go it, you blamed little, sawed-off,
huckleberry-eyed, monkey-faced hot tamales! Eat 'em up, you little
sleight-o'-hand, bow-legged bull terriers--give 'em another of them
Yalu looloos, and you'll eat rice in St. Petersburg. Talk about your
Russians--say, wouldn't they give you a painsky when it comes to a
Not even on the fair island of Nippon was there a more enthusiastic
champion of the Mikado's men. Supporters of the Russian cause did
well to keep clear of Engine-House No. 99.
Sometimes all thoughts of the Japs left John Byrnes's head. That
was when the alarm of fire had sounded and he was strapped in his
driver's seat on the swaying cart, guiding Erebus and Joe, the
finest team in the whole department--according to the crew of 99.
Of all the codes adopted by man for regulating his actions toward
his fellow-mortals, the greatest are these--the code of King
Arthur's Knights of the Round Table, the Constitution of the United
States and the unwritten rules of the New York Fire Department. The
Round Table methods are no longer practicable since the invention
of street cars and breach-of-promise suits, and our Constitution is
being found more and more unconstitutional every day, so the code of
our firemen must be considered in the lead, with the Golden Rule and
Jeffries's new punch trying for place and show.
The Constitution says that one man is as good as another; but the
Fire Department says he is better. This is a too generous theory,
but the law will not allow itself to be construed otherwise. All of
which comes perilously near to being a paradox, and commends itself
to the attention of the S. P. C. A.
One of the transatlantic liners dumped out at Ellis Island a lump of
protozoa which was expected to evolve into an American citizen. A
steward kicked him down the gangway, a doctor pounced upon his eyes
like a raven, seeking for trachoma or ophthalmia; he was hustled
ashore and ejected into the city in the name of Liberty--perhaps,
theoretically, thus inoculating against kingocracy with a drop of
its own virus. This hypodermic injection of Europeanism wandered
happily into the veins of the city with the broad grin of a pleased
child. It was not burdened with baggage, cares or ambitions. Its
body was lithely built and clothed in a sort of foreign fustian;
its face was brightly vacant, with a small, flat nose, and was
mostly covered by a thick, ragged, curling beard like the coat
of a spaniel. In the pocket of the imported Thing were a few
financial nomenclature of his unknown country may have been.
Prattling to himself, always broadly grinning, pleased by the roar
and movement of the barbarous city into which the steamship cut-rates
had shunted him, the alien strayed away from the, sea, which he
hated, as far as the district covered by Engine Company No. 99.
Light as a cork, he was kept bobbing along by the human tide, the
crudest atom in all the silt of the stream that emptied into the
reservoir of Liberty.
While crossing Third avenue he slowed his steps, enchanted by the
thunder of the elevated trains above him and the soothing crash of
the wheels on the cobbles. And then there was a new, delightful
chord in the uproar--the musical clanging of a gong and a great
shining juggernaut belching fire and smoke, that people were
hurrying to see.
This beautiful thing, entrancing to the eye, dashed past, and the
protoplasmic immigrant stepped into the wake of it with his broad,
enraptured, uncomprehending grin. And so stepping, stepped into the
path of No. 99's flying hose-cart, with John Byrnes gripping, with
arms of steel, the reins over the plunging backs of Erebus and Joe.
The unwritten constitutional code of the fireman has no exceptions
or amendments. It is a simple thing--as simple as the rule of three.
There was the heedless unit in the right of way; there was the
hose-cart and the iron pillar of the elevated railroad.
John Byrnes swung all his weight and muscle on the left rein. The
team and cart swerved that way and crashed like a torpedo into the
pillar. The men on the cart went flying like skittles. The driver's
strap burst, the pillar rang with the shock, and John Byrnes fell
on the car track with a broken shoulder twenty feet away, while
Erebus--beautiful, raven-black, best-loved Erebus--lay whickering
in his harness with a broken leg.
In consideration for the feelings of Engine Company No. 99 the
details will be lightly touched. The company does not like to be
reminded of that day. There was a great crowd, and hurry calls were
sent in; and while the ambulance gong was clearing the way the men
of No. 99 heard the crack of the S. P. C. A. agent's pistol, and
turned their heads away, not daring to look toward Erebus again.
When the firemen got back to the engine-house they found that one of
them was dragging by the collar the cause of their desolation and
grief. They set it in the middle of the floor and gathered grimly
about it. Through its whiskers the calamitous object chattered
effervescently and waved its hands.
"Sounds like a seidlitz powder," said Mike Dowling, disgustedly,
"and it makes me sicker than one. Call that a man!--that hoss
was worth a steamer full of such two-legged animals. It's a
immigrant--that's what it is."
"Look at the doctor's chalk mark on its coat," said Reilly, the desk
man. "It's just landed. It must be a kind of a Dago or a Hun or one
of them Finns, I guess. That's the kind of truck that Europe unloads
"Think of a thing like that getting in the way and laying John up
in hospital and spoiling the best fire team in the city," groaned
another fireman. "It ought to be taken down to the dock and drowned."
"Somebody go around and get Sloviski," suggested the engine driver,
"and let's see what nation is responsible for this conglomeration of
hair and head noises."
Sloviski kept a delicatessen store around the corner on Third avenue,
and was reputed to be a linguist.
One of the men fetched him--a fat, cringing man, with a discursive
eye and the odors of many kinds of meats upon him.
"Take a whirl at this importation with your jaw-breakers, Sloviski,"
requested Mike Dowling. "We can't quite figure out whether he's from
the Hackensack bottoms or Hongkong-on-the-Ganges."
Sloviski addressed the stranger in several dialects that ranged in
rhythm and cadence from the sounds produced by a tonsilitis gargle
to the opening of a can of tomatoes with a pair of scissors. The
immigrant replied in accents resembling the uncorking of a bottle of
"I have you his name," reported Sloviski. "You shall not pronounce
it. Writing of it in paper is better." They gave him paper, and he
wrote, "Demetre Svangvsk."
"Looks like short hand," said the desk man.
"He speaks some language," continued the interpreter, wiping his
forehead, "of Austria and mixed with a little Turkish. And, den,
he have some Magyar words and a Polish or two, and many like the
Roumanian, but not without talk of one tribe in Bessarabia. I do
not him quite understand."
"Would you call him a Dago or a Polocker, or what?" asked Mike,
frowning at the polyglot description.
"He is a"--answered Sloviski--"he is a--I dink he come from--I dink
he is a fool," he concluded, impatient at his linguistic failure,
"and if you pleases I will go back at mine delicatessen."
"Whatever he is, he's a bird," said Mike Dowling; "and you want to
watch him fly."
Taking by the wing the alien fowl that had fluttered into the
nest of Liberty, Mike led him to the door of the engine-house and
bestowed upon him a kick hearty enough to convey the entire animus
of Company 99. Demetre Svangvsk hustled away down the sidewalk,
turning once to show his ineradicable grin to the aggrieved firemen.
In three weeks John Byrnes was back at his post from the hospital.
With great gusto he proceeded to bring his war map up to date. "My
money on the Japs every time," he declared. "Why, look at them
Russians--they're nothing but wolves. Wipe 'em out, I say--and the
little old jiu jitsu gang are just the cherry blossoms to do the
trick, and don't you forget it!"
The second day after Byrnes's reappearance came Demetre Svangvsk,
the unidentified, to the engine-house, with a broader grin than
ever. He managed to convey the idea that he wished to congratulate
the hose-cart driver on his recovery and to apologize for having
caused the accident. This he accomplished by so many extravagant
gestures and explosive noises that the company was diverted for half
an hour. Then they kicked him out again, and on the next day he came
back grinning. How or where he lived no one knew. And then John
Byrnes's nine-year-old son, Chris, who brought him convalescent
delicacies from home to eat, took a fancy to Svangvsk, and they
allowed him to loaf about the door of the engine-house occasionally.
One afternoon the big drab automobile of the Deputy Fire
Commissioner buzzed up to the door of No. 99 and the Deputy stepped
inside for an informal inspection. The men kicked Svangvsk out a
little harder than usual and proudly escorted the Deputy around 99,
in which everything shone like my lady's mirror.
The Deputy respected the sorrow of the company concerning the loss
of Erebus, and he had come to promise it another mate for Joe that
would do him credit. So they let Joe out of his stall and showed
the Deputy how deserving he was of the finest mate that could be
While they were circling around Joe confabbing, Chris climbed into
the Deputy's auto and threw the power full on. The men heard a
monster puffing and a shriek from the lad, and sprang out too late.
The big auto shot away, luckily taking a straight course down the
street. The boy knew nothing of its machinery; he sat clutching the
cushions and howling. With the power on nothing could have stopped
that auto except a brick house, and there was nothing for Chris to
gain by such a stoppage.
Demetre Svangvsk was just coming in again with a grin for another
kick when Chris played his merry little prank. While the others
sprang for the door Demetre sprang for Joe. He glided upon the
horse's bare back like a snake and shouted something at him like
the crack of a dozen whips. One of the firemen afterward swore that
Joe answered him back in the same language. Ten seconds after the
auto started the big horse was eating up the asphalt behind it like
a strip of macaroni.
Some people two blocks and a half away saw the rescue. They said
that the auto was nothing but a drab noise with a black speck in the
middle of it for Chris, when a big bay horse with a lizard lying on
its back cantered up alongside of it, and the lizard reached over
and picked the black speck out of the noise.
Only fifteen minutes after Svangvsk's last kicking at the hands--or
rather the feet--of Engine Company No. 99 he rode Joe back through
the door with the boy safe, but acutely conscious of the licking he
was going to receive.
Svangvsk slipped to the floor, leaned his head against Joe's and
made a noise like a clucking hen. Joe nodded and whistled loudly
through his nostrils, putting to shame the knowledge of Sloviski,
of the delicatessen.
John Byrnes walked up to Svangvsk, who grinned, expecting to be
kicked. Byrnes gripped the outlander so strongly by the hand that
Demetre grinned anyhow, conceiving it to be a new form of
"The heathen rides like a Cossack," remarked a fireman who had seen
a Wild West show--"they're the greatest riders in the world."
The word seemed to electrify Svangvsk. He grinned wider than ever.
"Yas--yas--me Cossack," he spluttered, striking his chest.
"Cossack!" repeated John Byrnes, thoughtfully, "ain't that a kind of
"They're one of the Russian tribes, sure," said the desk man, who
read books between fire alarms.
Just then Alderman Foley, who was on his way home and did not know
of the runaway, stopped at the door of the engine-house and called
"Hello there, Jimmy, me boy--how's the war coming along? Japs still
got the bear on the trot, have they?"
"Oh, I don't know," said John Byrnes, argumentatively, "them Japs
haven't got any walkover. You wait till Kuropatkin gets a good whack
at 'em and they won't be knee-high to a puddle-ducksky."
THE LOST BLEND
Since the bar has been blessed by the clergy, and cocktails open the
dinners of the elect, one may speak of the saloon. Teetotalers need
not listen, if they choose; there is always the slot restaurant,
where a dime dropped into the cold bouillon aperture will bring
forth a dry Martini.
Con Lantry worked on the sober side of the bar in Kenealy's café.
You and I stood, one-legged like geese, on the other side and went
into voluntary liquidation with our week's wages. Opposite danced
Con, clean, temperate, clear-headed, polite, white-jacketed,
punctual, trustworthy, young, responsible, and took our money.
The saloon (whether blessed or cursed) stood in one of those little
"places" which are parallelograms instead of streets, and inhabited
by laundries, decayed Knickerbocker families and Bohemians who have
nothing to do with either.
Over the café lived Kenealy and his family. His daughter Katherine
had eyes of dark Irish--but why should you be told? Be content with
your Geraldine or your Eliza Ann. For Con dreamed of her; and when
she called softly at the foot of the back stairs for the pitcher of
beer for dinner, his heart went up and down like a milk punch in the
shaker. Orderly and fit are the rules of Romance; and if you hurl
the last shilling of your fortune upon the bar for whiskey, the
bartender shall take it, and marry his boss's daughter, and good
will grow out of it.
But not so Con. For in the presence of woman he was tongue-tied and
scarlet. He who would quell with his eye the sonorous youth whom
the claret punch made loquacious, or smash with lemon squeezer the
obstreperous, or hurl gutterward the cantankerous without a wrinkle
coming to his white lawn tie, when he stood before woman he was
voiceless, incoherent, stuttering, buried beneath a hot avalanche
of bashfulness and misery. What then was he before Katherine? A
trembler, with no word to say for himself, a stone without blarney,
the dumbest lover that ever babbled of the weather in the presence
of his divinity.
There came to Kenealy's two sunburned men, Riley and McQuirk. They
had conference with Kenealy; and then they took possession of a
back room which they filled with bottles and siphons and jugs and
druggist's measuring glasses. All the appurtenances and liquids of
a saloon were there, but they dispensed no drinks. All day long
the two sweltered in there pouring and mixing unknown brews and
decoctions from the liquors in their store. Riley had the education,
and he figured on reams of paper, reducing gallons to ounces and
quarts to fluid drams. McQuirk, a morose man with a red eye, dashed
each unsuccessful completed mixture into the waste pipes with curses
gentle, husky and deep. They labored heavily and untiringly to
achieve some mysterious solution like two alchemists striving to
resolve gold from the elements.
Into this back room one evening when his watch was done sauntered
Con. His professional curiosity had been stirred by these occult
bartenders at whose bar none drank, and who daily drew upon
Kenealy's store of liquors to follow their consuming and fruitless
Down the back stairs came Katherine with her smile like sunrise on
"Good evening, Mr. Lantry," says she. "And what is the news to-day,
if you please?"
"It looks like r-rain," stammered the shy one, backing to the wall.
"It couldn't do better," said Katherine. "I'm thinking there's
nothing the worse off for a little water." In the back room
Riley and McQuirk toiled like bearded witches over their strange
compounds. From fifty bottles they drew liquids carefully measured
after Riley's figures, and shook the whole together in a great glass
vessel. Then McQuirk would dash it out, with gloomy profanity, and
they would begin again.
"Sit down," said Riley to Con, "and I'll tell you.
"Last summer me and Tim concludes that an American bar in this
nation of Nicaragua would pay. There was a town on the coast where
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