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Title: The Boy Grew Older
Author: Broun, Heywood, 1888-1939
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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   THE BOY GREW OLDER

          BY

     HEYWOOD BROUN

  [Illustration: colophon]

   G. P. Putnam's Sons
     New York & London
  The Knickerbocker Press
       1923

  Copyright, 1922,
       by
  Heywood Broun

  Made in the United States of America

  _First Printing, October 1922_
  _Second Printing, October 1922_
  _Third Printing, November 1922_
  _Fourth Printing, December 1922_
  _Fifth Printing, February 1923_
  _Sixth Printing, March 1923_

[Illustration: The Knickerbocker Press New York]

Made in the United States of America

DEDICATED

TO

HERBERT BAYARD SWOPE



The Boy Grew Older

Book I



CHAPTER I


"Your son was born ten minutes ago," said the voice at the other end of
the wire.

"I'll be up," replied Peter Neale, "right away."

But it wasn't right away. First he had to go upstairs to the card room
and settle his losses. Indeed he played one more pot for when he
returned to the table his deal had come around again. He felt that it
was not the thing to quit just then. The other men might think he had
timed his departure in order to save the dollar ante. He dealt the cards
and picked up four spades and a heart. Eventually, he paid five dollars
to draw and again he had four spades and a heart. Nevertheless, he bet
ten dollars but it was no go. His hands shook as he dropped the two blue
chips in the centre of the table. The man with a pair of jacks noticed
that and called. Peter threw his cards away.

"I've got nothing--a busted flush. I want to cash in now. I owe for two
stacks. That's right, isn't it? I haven't any chips left. If
somebody'll lend me a fountain pen I'll make out a check. I guess I
need a check too. Any kind'll do. I can cross the name off."

"Why are you quitting so soon?" asked the banker as Peter waved the
check back and forth to let it dry. "We're all going to quit at seven
o'clock."

"Two rounds and a consolation pot," corrected somebody across the table.

Peter was curiously torn between reticence and an impulse to tell. He
felt a little as if he might begin to cry. When he spoke his voice was
thick. "I've got to go up to see my son," he said. "He's just been
born."

He shoved the check over to the banker and was out of the room before
anybody could say anything.

He thought that the banker said, "Congratulations," as he slammed the
door behind him, but he could not be certain of it.

All the way up in the taxi he worried. The hospital was half a mile
away. He wished that the nurse had said, "A fine boy," but he remembered
it was just, "Your son was born ten minutes ago."

"If anything had been wrong," he thought, "she wouldn't have said it
over the telephone."

"Is everything all right?" was his first question when a nurse came to
the door of the small private hospital and let him in. "My name's Peter
Neale," he explained. "My son's just been born half an hour ago."

"Everything's fine, Mr. Neale," she said and she smiled. "The baby
weighs nine pounds. Mrs. Neale is fine too. You can see them both, but
she's asleep now. You can't really see her today, but I think they'll
let you have a good look at your son. He's a little darling."

Peter was reassured but irritated. Formula was all over the remark,
"He's a little darling." He thought she ought not to use it until she
had learned to do it better. Some place or other he had read that babies
were fearfully homely. Still it didn't look so bad when he came into the
room. Black was smudged all around the eyes which gave the child a
rakish look.

"Miss Haine," said the nurse who brought him in, "this is Mr. Neale."

"Mr. Neale," she added, "meet your son." Then she went out.

"Is he all right, Miss Haine?" was Peter's first question as soon as the
door closed. After all, the other woman was just supposed to answer the
bell. Miss Haine might know more about it.

"He's a cherub," said Miss Haine.

"How did his eyes get blacked?" Peter wanted to know.

"Oh that's just the silver nitrate. We always put that on a baby's eyes
to make sure--Look what a fine head he has."

Peter bent closer. The baby was not nearly so red as he had expected. As
for the head he didn't see why it was fine. He had no notion of just
what made a head fine anyway. The child kept wrinkling up its face, but
it was not crying. There was nothing about his son to which Peter could
take specific exception, but somehow he was disappointed. When he had
said down at the New York Newspaper Club, "I've got to go up and see my
son," the phrase "my son" had thrilled him. But this wasn't "my son." It
was just a small baby. It seemed to him as distant as a second cousin.

"He is sweet," remarked Miss Haine.

"Yes," said Peter, but he felt that any extension of the discussion
would merely promote hypocrisy on both sides. "Can I see my wife?" he
asked.

"Come this way," said Miss Haine. "You can only stay a second. I'm
pretty sure she's asleep."

Maria was asleep and snoring hard. Miss Haine took up one arm which was
flung outside the cover and found the pulse of the sleeping girl and as
she felt it she smiled reassuringly. "Yes," she said, "she's doing
fine."

"And now," she added, "I'm going to bundle you off. There really isn't
anything around here for a father to do. This isn't your job, you know.
I'm going to let you come back in the morning, but not before ten."

Peter learned later that one of the strongest factors in Maria's
resentment against having a baby was that he was implicated in the
affair so slightly. He tried to tell her that she ought to blame biology
and not him, but she said there was nothing in the scheme of creation
which arranged that fathers should be playing cards when their sons were
born. It had an air of reckless indifference about it which maddened
her. Peter knew that he could not explain to her that he had not been
free in spirit during the afternoon. He simply could not bear to stay
out of a single pot. Hour after hour he kept coming in on middle
straights and three flushes. Never before had he done anything like
that. But she knew so little about poker that there was no use in
telling her any of this. Indeed he realized that he had made a mistake
in venturing his one answer. Maria was in nowise pacified when he said,
"But I lost fifty dollars."



CHAPTER II


Peter saw Maria only once after that and then for a few minutes. Most of
the time she wept. "She's getting along splendidly," said Dr. Clay. "Her
nervous condition isn't good," he added as an afterthought. "Somehow or
other she doesn't take much interest in the baby. You would almost think
she didn't like it. She'll get over that. The maternal urge is bound to
have its effect in time."

Of course Peter could not know that this urge, of which the bearded
doctor spoke so confidently, might be tardy. That was something which he
was to learn later for two days after the baby was born he went to
Goldfield for the big fight. He had made the stipulation with the
managing editor that somebody else should cover the story in case his
son was not yet born. The consent had been somewhat grudging and so he
had no inclination to call for another respite now that the baby had
actually arrived. It would have embarrassed him to say to the managing
editor, "I don't want to go away now because Maria--that's my
wife--doesn't like the baby." Anyhow Dr. Clay had said she was getting
along splendidly except for her nerves and the maternal urge would
attend to that.

And so Peter went to Goldfield and when he came back two weeks later
they told him at the hospital that Maria had gone leaving the baby
behind her. They were slightly apologetic. Miss Haine had been a little
careless. Twelve days after Peter started for the fight Maria had
dressed and walked out. Nobody around the hospital knew anything more
than that about it. She had left a note and Dr. Clay had taken the
extreme liberty of reading it. Medically speaking, he could not say that
it indicated anything more than a highly neurotic condition. The woman
was rational. He could not see his way clear to sending out a general
alarm. After all he did not suppose that there was any legal way of
making the young woman come back. She said she was going to sail for
Paris and he supposed she had. Dr. Clay offered sympathy and some
observations gleaned in twenty years of practice about the Latin
temperament.

Peter said nothing in reply. He did not want to discuss it. He felt lost
and gone but not altogether startled. Now that it had happened he
realized that he should have known that Maria might do something just
like that. It was an altogether silly arrangement that she should have
had a baby.

"The youngster's fine," said Dr. Clay. "It must be a comfort to you to
know that you've still got him. I believe he's having his bath now.
Wouldn't you like to come up and see him. It's quite an exciting event I
can assure you."

Peter didn't want to be excited and it didn't appeal to him as a
sporting event anyhow. Would Dr. Clay allow him to lie down on his couch
for a little while. Later he'd come up and talk about what to do with
the baby. He supposed the hospital didn't want it very much longer
anyway. After Clay had gone he cried a little. That didn't necessarily
mean much. Only the Thursday before he had cried at the ringside in
Goldfield when Battling Nelson knocked out Joe Gans. Then it had been
partly rage because thousands around him had shouted "Knock his block
off. Kill the nigger." And he had seen someone very beautiful slowly
crumple up before a slab-sided, bristling, little man who had no quality
of skill or grace. Nelson had just kept coming in and in. He never
stepped back. Often he took a blow in the face rather than bother to
stop for an instant from swinging his own short arms at the brown belly
in front of him. The victory had seemed altogether mechanical. Gans had
not been knocked out so much as clawed to pieces by a threshing machine.
And it was Gans Peter had thought of two years ago when he first saw
Maria Algarez dance. She had that same amazing suddenness of movement.
When he first saw her she was standing still in the middle of the huge
stage. And then everything about her had come to life. There was never
any feeling that she was thinking about what to do. No roll call was
carried on in her mind before she kicked or leaped, or flung an arm
above her head. The left jab of Joe Gans was like that too.

Peter went to the stage door and thought he had made up his mind to stop
her and speak to her. He found that he hadn't. She came out slowly and
when he stared at her she looked straight at him and almost smiled. He
could not be quite sure of it because that was the very moment something
inside rapidly wheeled him about and sent him all but running out of the
alley. Later he was more enterprising. The dramatic critic at his
request introduced him to the press agent of "Adios" and the press
agent introduced him to Maria Algarez. She had just finished her dance.
Peter was standing in the wings and people were telling him not to.

"Perhaps Mlle. Algarez will take us up to her dressing-room," said the
press agent.

"It is not mine," said Maria, "I am not a star. The eight Bandana
Sisters dress with me. But never mind. Here they come. It is now their
turn on the stage. You will have to climb two flights of stairs, Mr.
Neale. You do not mind? Yes?"

"I do," said the press agent. "But that scores for you. You're the one
he wants to see."

And so Peter found himself alone in one corner of the long dressing-room
of Maria Algarez and the eight Bandana Sisters. All sorts of clothes
were scattered over the room. Maria sat down on a chair and stretched
out her feet. There was another chair nearby but somebody's stockings
were on it. Peter stood up. Maria looked at him and smiled with no
particular merriment. She was tired. Peter shifted from one foot to
another through a long pause.

"Are they really sisters?" he asked.

"Just two," said Maria. "Vonnie is the sister to Boots. The rest they
are all mixed. It could not be that there should be eight such bad
dancers in the one family."

"I think you're the greatest dancer I ever saw."

Maria nodded. "Yes, I am the great dancer. It is smart for you to know
that. The others they do not know. When Boots was sick, Mr. Casey--he is
our stage manager--he wanted me to go on in her place. He said he would
give me $5 a week more. He is stupid Mr. Casey. I do not dance like
that. It is not for me."

"We'll be miss, miss, missed in Mississip," she hummed and made a face.
"One, two, three, four, lie down on the stomach and kick first the right
leg and then the left leg and then kick both legs. That was what he
wanted Maria Algarez to do. How is it you know? It is so smart. Here
throw down those stockings on the floor and take the chair. I want to
hear you say more about why I am so great a dancer."

Peter lifted the stockings as if they had been little kittens and placed
them on the long shelf under the electric lights.

"I don't know why," he said. "It just seems so easy when you do things.
And the thing you dance to; I think that's the best tune in the show."

Maria was merry now for the first time. "Again you are smart. It is 'The
Invitation to the Waltz' of Weber. 'Miss, Miss, Missed' is not so good.
That is right. And some time you will tell about me in your newspaper
and say that I am a great dancer?"

"I can't," said Peter. "I don't write about the theatre. I only write
about sports. Baseball, you know and football and prizefights and things
like that."

"Never mind, you and I know, it will be our secret. We will tell none of
the others."

Up the stairs there came a tramping and shouting and all eight Bandanas
rushed into the room approximately at the same time.

"I'm going," said Peter jumping up hastily.

"Don't you mind us Bandanas," shouted Vonnie across the room. "We don't
take off anything for half an hour."

"Goodbye," said Peter. "Excuse me, ladies."

Maria held his hand for one and two thirds seconds. "You must come
again. I want that you should tell me more about our secret."

Vonnie held the door open for Peter. "You come when we're all here,"
she said. "There isn't a nickle's worth of harm in the lot of us. But
that Maria there is a vamp, a baby Spanish vamp. Will you remember
that."

"I'll remember."

As Peter went down the stairs he was trying to see if he could hum the
thing that Maria said was "The Invitation to the Waltz" by Weber. He
wasn't good at it. And besides it was all mixed up and racketing around
in his head with, "We'll be miss, miss, missed in Mississip."

Peter went to the show the next night and after that the alley. He stood
scrunched up against a wall for a time but he felt too conspicuous. He
was afraid that somebody would come up to him suddenly and say, "What
are you hanging around here for?" It didn't make much difference who
said it, the door man, a stage hand, a scrub woman, anyone would have
sufficient authority to terrify him. His mind leaped beyond that and he
had a vision of a policeman laying a hand upon his shoulder and saying,
"I arrest you on the charge of mashing." After that would come the trial
and the sentence. Peter moved out of the alley. He had no notion of just
what were the fixed post rights of anybody waiting at a stage door to
see an actress. Walking seemed safer and he took up a beat along the
side street which ran at right angles to the alley.

His pace was brisk and he succeeded pretty well in developing the air of
a man bent upon getting to some important engagement five or six miles
away. Of course, every time he passed the alley it was possible to sweep
it with a glance over his shoulder. Even a man in a hurry has a right to
notice a tributary of chorus girls, musicians and actors sweeping into
his street. First came the musicians. Then one girl. Then two and
presently the flood. Peter did not dare to be too detached any more.
Fortunately he found the window of a cigar store just at the corner
where the alley turned into the street. By pretending an interest in the
special sale of genuine imported English briar pipes Peter was able to
keep close watch upon everyone who came from the stage door and at the
same time seem not quite a prominent clubman. But one of the pipes,
possibly the calabash cut to $2.21, must have commanded more than
fictitious interest, for Peter was suddenly startled by a clutch at his
left arm. He tugged away and turned at the same moment.

"Unhand me, woman," said Vonnie, but she immediately took his arm again.
"I knew you'd come," she said. "It was that look you threw at me over
your shoulder when you went out yesterday."

"I haven't come," said Peter. "I just happened to be going by."

"But you are glad to see me?"

"Of course I am."

"And you'll walk home with me to keep me from being unprotected on the
streets of a great city at night. It's only about twelve blocks. You
don't need to take a taxi."

"Honest, I can't. I wish I could. I'm awful sorry."

Vonnie began to laugh. "I wonder why it is that when they come big they
haven't got any sense. 'I knew I could rule you the day we were wed,'
she hummed, 'for thick in the middle is thick in the head.'"

"What did I do that was stupid? And I'm not thick in the middle."

"Well, that's a fact. I don't know your name but your figure is grand. I
guess you find being so handsome you don't need any sense."

"I have so too got sense. What have I done?"

"Well, you're just so serious I can't go on kidding you. Don't you
suppose I knew you were waiting for Maria? And I know a lot more than
that. You keep looking at that girl the way you did yesterday afternoon
and all of a sudden you'll find rice in your ears."

"All right," said Peter, "I guess I can stand that."

"Here comes the bride--watch your step," and Vonnie went up the street
as Maria came around the corner.

"Hello," said Maria, "what was it you talked about to Vonnie?"

"She thinks we're going to get married."

"And what is it you think?"

"I'd like it."

"Because I am the great dancer you think I ought to be the wife. So? It
is funny. But it is not so funny. We can talk about it again. Now I am
so tired that I just want to hear you say one thing and that is about
the dancing and me."

"I think you were just fine," said Peter.



CHAPTER III


I

Maria was right. They did talk about it again and largely because Peter
surprised himself and her with enterprise. It was raining hard that
night when she came out into the alley. Peter grown bold was standing
not more than two feet away from the stage door at a spot where a
projecting fire escape offered some shelter from the rain. A big puddle
lay all the way across the alley.

"Here," said Peter, almost casually and he picked Maria up and carried
her across.

"Thank God, there's no winding staircase," Vonnie shouted after them.

Still it was an entirely natural and easy thing to keep one arm around
Maria when they got into the taxicab. She rested her head against his
shoulder. Peter realized then that he ought to kiss her. After all he
had known her three weeks. It seemed the conventional thing to do.
Besides he wanted to. She said nothing until the second time.

"I like the quiet ones better, Peter, my hermit. It is nice to lean
against you. With you the taxi does not jounce so much. Part of my
tiredness it goes into your arm."

"Won't you marry me?" asked Peter.

"Because we have kissed? And I have put my head on your shoulder? You
would make me the honest woman?"

"I want to marry you."

"First we must have some supper. Maybe it is that you are just hungry.
It is not upon an empty stomach to talk about getting married."

Maria would not take the table which the headwaiter offered. "No that
other. The little one in the corner."

After they had ordered Maria took up a long bread stick and began
breaking it into little pieces in her hand.

"Peter," she said, "I must make you very sad. Maybe I will be a little
sad. You do not think I am good?"

Peter stared at her.

"That is too bad. I am not good, not very good. You know what I mean.
You have heard the actress in the play say, 'I am a good woman?' Maria
is not. I do not know why I tell you but I will. First it was three
years ago in Paris. He was married and I knew that. I do not even like
him much but I go. It was wrong. It was not so wrong another time
because that boy I like a little. Now it was Mr. Casey, our manager, I
told you he was a fool. That I could not help. He is such a fool. I try
to get the job and he does not say you can dance. He say to me, 'I am a
nice man and you are a nice girl.' What is there for me to say except
'yes.' About the dance he does not know anything. What is the use for me
to say, 'No, I am not the nice girl, I am the great dancer.' Even if he
would watch me dance he would not know. And so for the week-end at Long
Beach I was the nice girl. I cannot help it that people are fools. It
does not make me sad, but I am sad because now you are unhappy."

But Peter was not exactly unhappy. He knew that by all the rules he
should be broken-hearted or raging. He wondered why he had no impulse to
shoot Casey. As a matter of fact he could think of nothing more silly.
His mind kept turning back to a play he had seen once called "The Second
Mrs. Tanqueray." In that the heroine had confessed in the first act to
the man she was going to marry. It was thrilling Peter found to have
somebody confessing to him. Maria the dancer was romantic, but Maria the
adventuress was a whole leap beyond that into the realm of fantasy. He
stole a glance around the long room and everywhere he saw men and women
talking. Some were laughing and some were earnest. "But," he thought to
himself, "probably this is the only table in the room where anybody is
making a confession."

And besides all the dramatic values of the situation, he was not quite
unconscious of the comic ones. There sat Maria, at least five feet high
and looking about ten years old, gravely lifting up one corner of life a
little gingerly to spare the feelings of Peter Neale, the best known
sporting writer in America. But every other impression was swept away by
the sudden feeling that it was extraordinarily honest for Maria to tell
him all this. It was more than that. It was like cheering when the Yale
captain got up again. It was sportsmanship.

Peter reached across the table and patted her hand. "I'm not sad, Maria.
I think it was awfully white of you to tell me. I'm not exactly a good
man myself. Anyhow things are different with you. Those things you said
are nothing. You know the way I feel is that you're an artist and it's
nobody's business what you do. We don't have to talk about that any
more. There's something else. You remember what we were saying in the
taxicab. You've had two pieces of bread now and a glass of water. Won't
you marry me?"

"Yes," said Maria, "I'm going to marry you."


II

Peter was surprised the day they went down to get the license to
discover that Maria was twenty-three. He was only twenty-six himself.
Maria had seemed a child. Nineteen would have been his guess.

"Maybe," she said, "you will not want me because I am so old."

"You could be a hundred," Peter answered.

They were to be married the next day but when he met her at the theatre
in the evening she told him that Dolly Vance was ill and that Mr. Casey
wanted her to take over four of the sick girl's numbers. "I have to come
to the theatre at ten o'clock and rehearse all the day."

"Then we'll get married at nine. I'm not going to take a chance like
that. I've read about it in books. The whole house will be cheering you
and then you'll ask for waivers on me. I want to get you signed up."

"Pooh, for me they will not cheer. These are the jazz dances. They are
not for me. And Peter, oh, Peter, I must sing."

"Can you sing?"

"Yes, my hermit, I am almost so good a singer as a dancer. And I could
play the piano if there was any one smart enough to know. You see I
bring you the dowry."

A very bored Alderman said that they were man and wife, but there was
some excitement when they came out of the City Hall and two newspaper
photographers took their pictures. Peter was proud of the fact that both
the camera men made a point of treating him as a person of a good deal
of importance. "You see," he said, "I'm somebody in my business."

"The paper you work on what is the name?"

"It's called the Bulletin."

"And what is it they pay you?"

"Well, with my share of the syndicate and all that it amounts to about
$100 a week."

"One hundred dollars a week! That is funny. My pay it is $50. I have
caught a millionaire. Peter, why do they pay you $100 a week?"

"I don't know, Maria----"

"One hundred dollars a week to write about the baseball game! Fifty
dollars a week to Maria Algarez. My God, what a country! I do not like
that, Peter. Still, it does not matter so much. Maybe I am glad that you
are rich. You can buy me a piano and I will show you that I know how to
play Chopin. You would like that."

"That'll be fine," said Peter.

"Where was it that you learned so much about this baseball that they pay
you $100 for the week?"

"I used to play myself at Harvard. At least I played one year. I pitched
against Yale and shut 'em out. The next year I got fired because I
couldn't learn French."

"But that is so easy, the French. I do not know what it is to shut Yale
out."

"Of course it's easy for you. You lived there, you told me ever since
you were five. Any foreigner ought to be able to speak French."

"But I am not. I am now the American, I know that. I am Mrs. Peter
Neale."

"Oh," she said, and made a fearful grimace, "that you must never call
me. It must be that I am still Maria Algarez. Mrs. Peter Neale I do not
know. Maria Algarez she will not die. Oh no, Peter, you understand
that?"

"It's all right with me," said Peter. "I'm just going to call you Maria
any way."

"And, Peter, I forgot, you have a father and a mother and the relations
for me to meet."

"Not a one. I've got an uncle in Salt Lake City. That's a long way off
if you don't know. But how about you?"

"Maybe, who can tell. They are no good. I do not care. Perhaps they are
dead. Peter, you are all I have in the world. That is why you must buy
me the grand piano."

They went straight from the City Hall to the theatre and Peter left her.
He was not to see her again until after the performance. Of course he
went to the show and sat in the second row. But Maria did not see him
when she came on to do the first of her new numbers. Or at any rate she
made no sign of recognition. She kept her eyes intently on the
conductor's baton. And then she began to sing. Even Peter had an inkling
of the fact that here was a lovely voice. If he had not been married to
Maria Algarez at nine o'clock that morning he would still have been
caught up in the excitement of the theatre. Almost everybody stopped
coughing. They honestly cheered and they kept it up. Nine times Maria
sang the chorus and five times more she came out to bow. Her fourth song
was the last number in the play with the exception of the parade of all
the nations and nobody paid any attention to that. They just kept on
applauding and shouting. Peter argued with the stage door man.

"I have to see Maria Algarez," he said. "I have to, I tell you. I'm her
husband."

"Write your name down on a piece of paper, and I'll take it up and see
what she says."

In three or four minutes he returned. "Miss Algarez says you're to come
up. It's number twelve. Two flights up at the head of the stairs."

Peter knocked.

"Come in," said Maria. She had thrown the blue and gold costume in a
corner, and slipped on a kimono.

"It was marvelous," said Peter; "nobody's ever heard anything like it in
a theatre. They're still cheering and applauding for you."

"For all that applause I do not give a damn," answered Maria and snapped
her fingers. "As long as you like. That is all."

Peter kissed her. "Maria, I was afraid I'd lost you." He held her at
arm's length and the kimono slipped down over one shoulder. "Cover
yourself up," said Peter almost sharply. Maria pulled the wrap back and
folded it closely around her. Peter had never seen that smile before.

"A husband," she said. "It is different."



CHAPTER IV


I

Maria blamed a good many things upon the institution of marriage for
which the explanation probably lay elsewhere. If Peter had been a lover
rather than a husband he would still have been insensitive to Chopin. In
all the range of Maria's repertoire he was never able to detect more
than a single tune. That itself seemed to him an achievement for the
Fantaisie Impromptu had not yet been discovered to be actually, "I'm
Always Chasing Rainbows." But as a matter of fact Peter did not really
understand Maria Algarez any better than he understood Chopin. He loved
her throughout the year of their married life but he was not happy.

"It is the curse of the witch on you," she said, "or maybe it is not the
witch but that America of yours. There is something in you, Peter, that
will not let you be happy. You are afraid of it. Of me you are afraid,
Peter."

He protested that this was not so but Maria knew better.

"Love--what you call sex--that is one of the things which has frightened
you the most of any. Somebody has put black thoughts into that head.
Yes, I tell you it is so. A terrible thing has been done to you.
Somebody has brought you up carefully."

But in an instant she had come across the room to him and had a
protecting arm about him.

"Now I have made you the more sad. You must tell me what it is."

"I can't, Maria. I don't know whether I know. But anyhow I can't."

"Perhaps it is the sound of it which you fear. You tell me. You must.
Whisper it."

Peter did whisper. "You remember that night you told me---- you told me
about the others."

"You mean those oh so few lovers. But that did not make you sad then.
You were not angry."

"I'm not angry now. But I can't help it, Maria, that I worry."

"And for what do you worry?"

"I think that maybe those other lovers they made you happier than I
can."

"So! That I should have known. You think you are not the so great lover.
These men they are gone but they are still your rivals. Perhaps I
remember. That is it?"

"Yes," said Peter.

He was startled when Maria laughed.

"Why do you laugh at me?"

"It is to you like the baseball game. It is what you call it? Oh yes, a
competition."

Peter made no answer.

"Now listen to me, Peter. You I love the most of anybody in the world. I
tell you that but it is not enough. You still worry. Something I must do
to show you. This blackness I must drive away. Peter, you must have a
baby. Yes, it is a son you need. Then you can worry about him."

Maria spoke upon the conviction but also upon impulse and babies are not
born that way. The time of her trial beat fiercely upon her. She had to
quit the show just a day after a new rôle and several new songs were
promised to her. During the last three months of her pregnancy she never
left the apartment. "I do not want anybody to point at me," she told
Peter, "and say that is Maria Algarez who did the Butterfly Dance in
'Adios.'"

       *       *       *       *       *

In the note which Dr. Clay handed to Peter, Maria had written: "I did
keep my promise. It is a baby and a son. That was all I promised. More I
cannot do. Peter, I must be Maria Algarez, the dancer. I cannot be the
wife and the mother. You should not be sad altogether. I think it is
good that we have met. When you look at your son you will forget some of
the rubbish that was in your head. That is more than that you should
remember Maria Algarez. And the boy, Peter, remember it is fair that
from life he should get fun. Thank God, nobody can ever make of him the
wife and mother. Miss Haine says he is like me. If that is so, Peter,
you may have much trouble. But leave him just a little bad."

The last sentence was hard to decipher. Peter could not make out whether
Maria had written, "I love you," or "I loved you."


II

Peter must have gone to sleep eventually on the sofa in the reception
room of Dr. Clay's hospital. It was almost dark when he woke. He had
been dreaming hard. In the dream some vague figure, forgotten by the
time he awoke, presented him with a small lion cub as a pet. Throughout
the dream Peter worried about the lion cub. The apartment house in which
he lived had a strict rule against dogs. The janitor did not actually
come into the dream, but much of Peter's sleeping consciousness was
concerned with planning arguments for that official. "But it isn't a
dog," Peter was prepared to say, "it's a lion. Your rules don't say
anything about lions. Anyhow it's only a little lion." There had been a
lion cub in Battling Nelson's camp and Peter had often watched the
fighter fool around with it and slap the animal when it tried to nip
him. Nelson had a trick of rubbing the rough stubble of his beard
against the lion's nose. Peter hated that.

Disentangling himself from his dream he decided that his nightmare had
been an echo he remembered from Goldfield. It took him several minutes
to get himself back from the Nevada fight to the hospital in New York.
While he slept he had forgotten that Maria had run away and that his son
was in a room upstairs. He was about to skirmish out in search of one
of the nurses when Dr. Clay came into the room.

"Feeling any better?" asked the doctor.

"I feel all right. I'm all ready to take the baby now."

"You don't need to be in any hurry about that, Mr. Neale. Better let him
stay till tomorrow. It's after six now. Suppose we go up and watch the
little fellow get bathed. I asked Miss Haine to postpone that so you
could see him."

Peter realized that his presence at the bath seemed to be obligatory in
the mind of the doctor. He went up the stairs to the same room which he
had visited the fortnight before when he rushed away from the poker
game. There could be no possible question about finding the right door
for the hall was filled with loud howling.

"They never like it," said Dr. Clay.

"Is there any other reason for doing it?" asked Peter, but the physician
made no answer.

The baby was propped up against one end of the tub rubbing at his eyes
and Miss Haine was sloshing his chest with water from a sponge.

She looked up and said, "He's just fine, Mr. Neale. I'm not really
hurting him."

Peter found that a dim shadow of personality had descended upon his son
in the two weeks since he had last seen him. The face was too crowded
with tears and fingers to make much of an impression, but Peter, making
room for the doctor, walked around behind the tub and from the shoulders
of the child he received his first thrill. They were square high
shoulders without the suggestion of a curve. Christy Mathewson, the
rookie pitcher of the Giants, whom Peter Neale had recently hailed in
his column as a coming baseball star had shoulders just like that. And
it was a fine assertive chest.

"He'll be a big man some day," said Miss Haine lifting up one of the
baby's feet. "Remember he's got to grow up to these."

But no sooner was his foot lifted than the child began to howl louder
than ever. Peter suddenly reached toward him.

"Look out," cried Miss Haine in alarm. "You mustn't touch his head."

Peter cared nothing about the head. It was the high boxed shoulders
which he wanted, for some reason, to touch. He patted the child twice.
"I wouldn't cry like that," he said. But the child continued.

"He thinks I put soap in his eyes," explained Miss Haine. "Tell him I
didn't."

Peter thought it would be silly to say anything like that to the baby.
He patted him twice more and said, "There, there."

"You're going to have your bottle in just a minute now," cooed Miss
Haine, drying the child with a vigor which it resented. She put him back
into his crib and presented the bottle.

Instantly he ceased crying and drank noisily. He drank a good deal more
than he could conveniently swallow and milk began to spill out at the
corners of his mouth. The flash of interest which had animated Peter
died away. Indeed his feeling slumped down through indifference to
dislike.

"I suppose," said Miss Haine, "you're going to keep him on cow's milk
from now on."

"Cow's milk?" said Peter. "That's what he's got in the bottle now, isn't
it? It's all right for him, I suppose?"

"In theory," said Dr. Clay, "bottle babies don't do quite so well, but
it doesn't make much difference. I imagine more than half the children
in New York today are brought up on bottles."

"By the way," he continued, "I don't want to pry into your affairs, Mr.
Neale, but I suppose the little fellow's got a grandmother or somebody
you can turn him over to."

"No," said Peter, "he hasn't got any grandmother that I know of. I guess
we'll just have to get along without one."

"I can give you the telephone number of an agency where you could get a
trained nurse for him. That would insure expert care for a month or so
while you're looking around trying to make some more permanent
arrangement."

Peter shook his head. He had come to hate the hospital. Any starched
person would remind him constantly of Maria and her letter and her
running away.

"I think I've got somebody," he said. He was thinking of Kate. She had
been part of his life before he met Maria. And then there couldn't be
any scandal concerning Kate. She was about sixty. Before the baby was
born Kate had discussed the possibility of his paying her more than she
got for part time housekeeping and letting her be a nurse for the child.

"Well, whoever you get," advised Dr. Clay, "I want you to buy this book.
I'll write it down for you--it's Dr. Kerley's, I've always found it the
best--and have her follow the directions carefully."

Peter put the slip in his pocket. "I'll come around for the baby at
ten," he said. He took one more glance at the crib, but the milk
guzzling still continued. He left without saying goodbye to anybody
except Miss Haine and Dr. Clay. As he went out the front door he
suddenly said, "Damn!" He remembered that Kate couldn't read.



CHAPTER V


On the way back to the flat in West Sixty-sixth Street, Peter stopped at
a store and asked for Dr. Kerley's book. The clerk was sorry that it was
not in stock. Of course he could order it.

"I want something right away," said Peter. They rummaged around on a
shelf marked miscellaneous and found, "Your Child," and "The Christian
Nursery." Neither seemed from its title quite to answer the needs of
Peter, but since there was nothing else he took them both. Arriving at
his flat in West Sixty-sixth Street three doors away from Central Park,
Peter found Kate on hand. He had seen her just for a minute on his
return from Goldfield but not since he had learned his news at the
hospital. He did not know whether or not she knew.

"My wife's gone away," he said. "And she won't be back."

"Yes, sir," replied Kate. Peter liked her for that. Whether she was
surprised or not she made no sign.

"Now," he continued, "I've got to bring the baby back here tomorrow.
It's a boy. There isn't anybody I know to turn him over to. I want you
to come and live here and be his nurse. I'll pay you fifteen dollars a
week. You remember you said you would come for ten when we were talking
about it before. I'm going to pay you more because you'll have to do the
whole job now."

"I want one night a week off, Mr. Neale," said Kate.

"That'll be all right if you make it Sunday. I guess I can learn enough
to take care of him once a week. I've got a couple of books here that
tell how to do it. This baby's going to be brought up right, Kate. I
want you to read these books too."

"Mr. Neale, I've broke my glasses and I can't see print at all without
them. I'm an old woman, Mr. Neale."

"That's all right, Kate, I'll read you some of it so we can be ready for
this baby when he comes tomorrow. Don't stand up. Sit down, Kate. This
is called 'Your Child.' It's written by a woman named Alice Carter
Scott."

Peter opened the book and decided to skip the preface.

"I had a sister in Brooklyn once," said Kate, "that was married to a man
named Scott. She's dead these ten years, God rest her soul."

"It says," began Peter, skimming over the first page and deciding that a
summary would be sufficient, "that the most important task in the world
and the greatest blessing is to bring up children."

"'The first years of the child's life'" he read, "'roughly speaking from
birth to the age of six, constitute the most important period of the
child's whole existence.'"

He skimmed ahead again until he found a heading, "Constructive
Suggestions."

"'First of all,'" he read, "'I would say that the home cannot be a
normal home unless the mother herself is a normal being---- '"

Peter tried to skip ahead rapidly. "'She must learn to discriminate
between the essentials and the non-essentials in life. She must give the
best of herself to important things and she must learn to eliminate or
subordinate the non-important--'" Here Peter broke off and put the book
down.

"This doesn't seem to be much good for us," he said. "It's all too
general. Maybe we can get something more out of this one. This one's
called 'The Christian Nursery,' That doesn't sound much good, but we'll
see. 'Functions of the Family--.' 'The Functions of the family in human
life are five-fold: (1) biological; (2) educational; (3) moral; (4)
social; (5) religious.'"

He put it down impatiently. "These aren't what I wanted at all. I'll
have to go and get that Dr. Kerley book they told me about in the
hospital. I can get it in the morning."

"Begging your pardon, Mr. Neale," said Kate, "there's no need for me to
have a book about babies. I raised five children and buried four. I'm
not saying, mind you, that books aren't the great things for wisdom but
it's not wisdom that little children do be needing. The Blessed Virgin
herself, she didn't have to read in no books. I'll be bringing him up
like he was my own son, Mr. Neale, and that's better than you'll be
finding in all your fine books."

Peter was disposed to argue the proposition that all a woman needs to
know about motherhood can be learned by having some children, but Kate
got up and walked out into the kitchen to show that the interview was
over. Peter never did get around to buying Dr. Kerley even for his own
education. Still he could not quite dismiss the little he had read that
night. He could not remember whether it was in the Christian book or the
other that he had come across the paragraph about the mother--"She must
learn to discriminate between the essentials and the non-essentials in
life." He wondered whether it was essential that Maria should devote
herself to the gurgling little child who cried about everything but
spilt milk, or that she should go on dancing to the strains of that tune
by Weber. He tried to hum it and couldn't. Then he sat and thought for a
long time. In reply to a question from Kate he said that he didn't want
any dinner. He was going out. Would she please be at the flat at ten
o'clock as he expected to have the baby back by that time.

Presently Kate went out. Peter sat by the window and looked up towards
the park. He could catch a glimpse of it by leaning out. There was a
moon. A wind whipped through the trees and they were swaying back and
then rushing forward again whenever the gusts gave them an opening. That
was a sort of dance. He turned away from the window. There was nothing
in the room to remind him of Maria except the grand piano. He would get
rid of that. His mind began to lose its ache. He could accept the fact
that Maria had gone. He would remember her now always as he had seen her
that first night standing still in the centre of the stage just before
she began to dance. The sight of Maria washing a baby would have been
queer. It was all right for nurses and old Irish women and sporting
writers to mess around with babies and soap and rubber-tipped milk
bottles. Somehow or other he was glad he had never seen the greatest
dancer in all the world with a mouth full of safety pins.



CHAPTER VI


Miss Haine seemed somewhat surprised when Peter arrived at the hospital
alone the next morning. "You're not going to carry him back yourself?"
she said.

"Why not?"

"Have you ever held a baby?"

Peter thought back. "Not such a little one," he admitted.

"Well then, watch me," she said. "See, take him like this. If you don't
he's sure to cry."

"But he's crying now," protested Peter.

"That's for some other reason. It isn't because I'm holding him wrong.
All little babies cry a good deal at first. It's good for them. Any time
a small baby doesn't cry a certain number of hours a day there's
something wrong. You see he isn't big enough to walk, or crawl, or even
roll around much and crying is the way he gets his exercise. He's
getting air into his little lungs now."

"There isn't anything to be done about it?" Peter wanted to know.

"Well, of course, you must look first of all to see if there is any real
reason for his crying. His skin is very sensitive. There might be a pin
sticking in him. It might be that his clothes need to be changed." Miss
Haine paused. "Yes, he wants to be changed now."

Peter made a step toward the door, "Oh, you'll have to learn this," said
Miss Haine. "Watch me."

At the moment she seemed skilful. For the first time Peter appreciated
the fact that she really was trained. But he did not know until after
months of subsequent experience just what a marvel he was permitted to
observe. In the course of a year or so he made progress. His improvement
was tangible enough to be demonstrated in figures. Neale was given to
statistics. He was the first sporting writer to keep separate averages
for batters against right and lefthanded pitching. It was Peter Neale
who proved years later that there were definite exceptions to the
accepted theory that lefthanded batters do badly against southpaws. He
was able to show that through one entire campaign Ty Cobb batted 11.692
points better against lefthanders than he did against righthanders. In
much the same spirit Peter used a stop watch on himself while he was
engaged in the task of changing the child. In twelve months time he was
pleased to observe that his record was gradually cut down from nineteen
minutes to five and a half. Later he wished it had been his privilege to
time Miss Haine at this first demonstration. He was sportsman enough to
admit that in all probability even his best performance after months of
practice was markedly inferior to hers. Indeed he would not have been a
bit surprised to learn that she had established a world's record before
his very eyes. Even as a novice in the matter he knew that he had seen a
marvel.

After all, in spite of Peter's ignorance of babies he did have a
reportorial eye. It took him no more than a few seconds to observe that
Miss Haine's phrase, "He wants to be changed," was not a particularly
nice use of English. There seemed to be nothing in the world which the
child wanted less. He screamed as Peter, at that time, had never heard
him scream, and kicked prodigiously. Many months later when Peter had
begun to perfect himself in the technique of the task he felt that
perhaps he would not do at all badly in any competition limited to
participants who were also parents. He was never able to challenge in
any way the complete mastery of Miss Haine because she was endowed with
a complete indifference. She did not allow the screaming to interfere
with her efficiency in any way. The kicking never worried or angered
her. She acted as if it were a natural hazard.

"There's a nice dry child for you," she said at the end of an interval
which Peter subsequently estimated to have been three minutes and twenty
seconds. He was also a silent child until Peter picked him up.

"Put your right hand a little lower and raise your left," advised Miss
Haine. "Remember he isn't strong enough yet to hold up his head all by
himself."

Peter obeyed at the moment, but he grew to have a certain contempt for
all established canons of good form in regard to holding a baby. Indeed
he eventually wrote an article for one of the magazines in which he
maintained: "There are one hundred and fifty-two distinctly different
ways of holding a baby--and all are right! At least all will do." He
based this contention on the fact that the body of a small baby is soft
and pliable and that a person with a strong pair of hands can get a
grip pretty much any place he chooses. Still, for the moment he obeyed
instructions implicitly and went down the stairs gingerly and out to the
taxicab.

"That's a fine husky kid you've got there," said the driver. "Is it
yours?"

"Yes," said Peter somewhat ashamed and annoyed by the fact that a
suggestion of pride crept into his voice quite against his will. "It's
my son."

"He certainly knows how to yell," said the driver. "I've got five but he
beats 'em all."

Curiously enough the child ceased crying the instant the taxi started.
The motion of the journey and possibly the sight of the trees and the
river and the ships seemed to have a certain interest for it. The mouth
opened into something that might have been a grin.

"That's Grant's Tomb," said Peter before he realized that whatever
interest in the proceedings the child actually had it could hardly be
pinned down to the particular. Climbing the two flights of stairs which
led to his apartment, Peter knocked at the door briskly. Somehow or
other the baby had begun to slip through his fingers and he found it
impossible to reach the pocket in his vest where he kept his keys.
There was no answer. Peter knocked again and still nobody came. Heaving
the baby up over his shoulder he found the key after trying three wrong
pockets and went into the flat. There was no one about. Kate had not
arrived. Peter was alone with his son.

Panic descended upon him. He remembered, "His skin is very sensitive. A
pin may be sticking into him," and he wondered if in the event of such
an emergency he could possibly locate the trouble. He was still more
doubtful of his ability to do anything else which might be necessary.
Even in the taxicab, Peter had not felt wholly alone. After all the
driver had said that he was the father of five. This was reassuring to
Peter. He had a mind which hopped ahead. He had been quite alive to the
arrival of a contingency upon which he would find it necessary to tap
upon the window and say, "Never mind the car for a minute. What should I
do now?"

Fortunately, the conduct of the baby was more admirable than anything
Peter had yet known. He put it in the middle of the bed where it
promptly went to sleep. Peter sat in a chair close by and watched.
Suddenly something happened which startled him. Without waking the
child rolled over and buried its head in the pillow face downward. Peter
knew that it would not smother. He had slept exactly that way himself
for twenty-five years.

There was no clock in the house and Peter had no notion of how long he
waited. Presently the child woke and began to cry petulantly. A search
for pins was resented and the wailing took on its characteristic vigor.

"Don't do that," said Peter. He picked the child up, carried it to the
window and back again without good results. Then he said, "Listen!"
Peter cleared his throat. "Rockabye, baby, on the tree top," he began
but to no avail. He wasn't very sure of the tune. There was only one
song of which he was confident. "Oh, Harvard was old Harvard when Yale
was but a pup," struck up Peter. "And Harvard will be Harvard still when
Yale is all gone up, And if any Eli son of a----."

Instinctively Peter began to hum the rest. It did not seem to him just
the sort of song he should sing to his baby. And yet it proved exactly
right. The child went off to sleep again and remained that way while
Peter disentangled it. A few minutes later Kate came in. "I was
thinking, Mr. Neale," she said, "that there was no clothes for the
child." She stepped across to the bed. "Oh, the little angel. Now the
deep sleep does be on him. I found some old things and brought them. I
hope he was no trouble to you."

"No," said Peter, mopping his forehead. "He wasn't so much trouble. Have
you got everything you need? I'm going to leave you some money for milk
and food and things. Can you stay with him right along now till your day
off?"

"I can that."

"Well, let's see. This is Tuesday. I'm going out for awhile. I won't be
back tonight. Maybe I won't be back tomorrow. Anyhow I'll be back before
Sunday. Take good care of him."

Peter had to steady himself going down the stairs to the street. He was
shaky and wringing with perspiration. He felt as if he had pitched a
nine inning game with the score nothing to nothing all the way. He just
had to get out of the house. The ache which had died down the night
before was back again. "I guess I've got to get drunk," thought Peter.



CHAPTER VII


When Peter reached the corner he found that it was only half-past
twelve. It was much too early to get drunk. Daylight drinking had always
seemed to him disgusting. As a matter of fact, he was contemplating the
spree merely as a means to an end. In order to forget Maria he must
think of someone else and it would suit his purpose that the other
person should be someone rowdy and degraded. He would rub himself with
mud to ease the numbness of his spirit. He knew that he could never do
it without drinking. First many gates must be unlocked. Maria had been
right when she said that Peter was afraid of sex. When he was quite a
small boy somebody had told him about flowers and it meant nothing to
him. It had seemed merely a fairy story rather more dull than usual.
Much later a red-haired boy who lived five houses away had talked to
Peter and frightened and disgusted him. After that he had run away when
other boys tried to tell him anything about these mysteries. Of course
his squeamishness had been marked and he became the butt of every
youngster with any talent for smut. Finding that flight was useless
Peter adopted a new system and fought fiercely with anyone who taunted
him. He was bigger and stronger than most of the other boys and he soon
piled up an imposing list of victims to his prowess. He fought so well
that his ignorance remained almost unimpaired. Once when he was in the
act of belaboring a companion who had tried to outline for him the plot
of a book called "Only A Boy," a woman passing by had interrupted the
fight. She wanted to know if Peter was not ashamed of himself.
Defensively he answered that the other boy had been "talking dirty."
Immediately the passerby deluged Peter with admiration. She took down
his name and address and later he received by mail a Bible, leather
bound, and on the flyleaf was the inscription "To a young Sir Galahad."
Peter never took any particular pride in this gift.

He knew in his heart that his purity rested solidly on fear. He burned
with curiosity. At times he actually invited lewd confidences though
making every pretence of anger when they were imparted to him. Respite
came to him for a year or two before he went to college because
athletics became his god. He excelled all competitors in school and was
generally rated the best right-handed pitcher in the metropolitan
district. Baseball filled all his thoughts waking and sleeping, and in
the autumn it was football, although in this branch of sport he was by
no means as proficient. Indeed when he went to Harvard at the age of
seventeen he was dropped from the varsity squad in the first cut and
later from the freshmen.

At this particular time, when he was much more foot-loose than usual,
the annual medical lecture to the Freshmen was delivered. It was known
in unofficial circles as Smut One and attendance was compulsory. Very
gravely and severely the old doctor unfolded his tale of horrors. The
spirit was not unlike that of a traditional hell-fire sermon. Peter
heard the man half through and then fainted, toppling over from his seat
across an aisle. He was carried downstairs into the fresh air and did
not come back. But he had heard enough to be convinced that this sex
business was even worse than it had seemed in the crude and rowdy
flashes which had come to him from his companions. And yet the fact that
it was horrible by no means served to keep his thoughts clear of the
subject. The doctor had talked entirely of the dangers and disgraces of
immorality. Peter could not escape the only partially conscious surmise
that unspeakable delights and wonders must lie within this circle of
leaping flames. This impression was confirmed when he happened in the
college library to come across a poem by Carew called "The Rapture." Sex
seemed to him now by far the most romantic and adventurous thing in
life. The fact that there were monsters and dragons to be dared made it
all the more a piece with the unforgotten tales of childhood concerning
giant killers and knights-errant.

Peter was no longer satisfied to be Galahad. He wanted to be Launcelot.
And still he was afraid. He found out that Columbus Avenue in Boston was
a street largely given over to women and night after night he used to
slink about dark corners hoping and dreading that somebody would speak
to him. Whenever a "Hello dearie" came to him out of the darkness Peter
trembled. "No," he would say, "I'm sorry. I've got a very important
engagement. I've got to go right along. I must go right along. Sure,
I'll be here at this same time tomorrow night."

Often he would carry on some such dialogue a dozen times in an evening
and then one night a woman, more stalwart and audacious than any he had
yet encountered, seized him by the arm. "Sonny," she said, "I'm not
going to let you waste my time. You're not going any place except with
me. Now march along."

Peter marched. That was why he told Maria Algarez that he was not quite
a good man himself.

For a time disillusion supplanted turmoil in the mind of Peter. He found
that the romanticists were just as fraudulent as the moralists. Don Juan
seemed to him as great a fake as Galahad. Besides in the spring the call
for baseball candidates came along and Peter surprised the college world
by being the only Freshman to win a place on the varsity nine. He
pitched the second game against Yale and won by a score of 2 to 0. Life
meant something after all. Bending a third strike across the knees of a
man with a Y on his chest gave a dignity to existence which it had never
before possessed. Peter was done with hot thoughts and cold ones.
Unfortunately he was also done with thoughts about examinations. French
was his most abject failure, but he did badly enough in everything else
to be told that his college days were over.

Still he was bereft of romance for no more than a month. He caught on
with the sporting department of the Bulletin early in August and made an
almost instantaneous hit. Here again he found satisfaction in the gait
and color of life. Women were not rigorously excluded from the scheme of
things, but they were not important. He saw them in the dance halls
where he went after hours and talked to them and drank with them, but
they served merely as minor characters. The talk which animated this
existence for Peter was all of the shop. A reporter from San Francisco,
named Rusk, suddenly discovered to his amazement and delight that here
was a man eager to hear his tales of newspaper work along the waterfront
in the days when the coast towns were still unregenerate. Everybody else
on the Bulletin was in the habit of groaning loudly whenever Rusk began,
"In the old days on the waterfront----," but Peter listened with the
most intense sort of interest to Rusk's entire stock of anecdotes. By
and by Rusk had to make them up. He gave himself a boyhood as a jockey
and also enlisted fictionally in the Spanish American war. Peter
believed everything and liked everything. Four months later Rusk left
the Bulletin in order to try his hand at free lancing for the
magazines. His failure in that field surprised him. He had come to
confuse Peter Neale and the general public.

       *       *       *       *       *

Peter began his spree by going to the Newspaper Club. He found no one in
the big room except two old men playing chess. One of them did weather
and the other fish on the New York Press. They were not communicative
and neither seemed disposed to be drawn into conversation. And so for a
time Peter watched the game. He found it impossible to work up any
enthusiasm about the issue and departed to practice pool on a table at
the other end of the room. Caring nothing about performance, Peter was
surprised to discover that the most difficult shots all came off.
Nothing was too hard. Even the most fantastically complicated
combinations plopped the required ball into a pocket.

Far from being pleased at this Peter grew angry. He felt that Fate was
ironically evening up things for him by burdening him with luck and
prowess in something which made no difference and withholding its favor
in all the important aspects of life. Testing out his theory he picked
up a straggler, a man he knew but slightly, who happened to wander into
the club at that moment.

"I'll roll you Indian dice," challenged Peter. "A dollar a throw."

Good luck continued to plague him although he knew that its attentions
were not honorable! At the end of three quarters of an hour Peter was
$85 ahead.

"That's enough," he said with irritation.

"You're not going to quit now that you've got me in the hole," protested
his opponent. "Aren't you going to give me a chance to get back?"

"You wouldn't have any chance. If we keep up I'm sure to win hundreds of
dollars from you. Nobody can beat me just now. Look here if you don't
believe me I'll give you a chance. I'll bet you a hundred dollars to ten
on one roll."

"What's the matter with you, Neale?" asked the loser. "Are you soused?"

"Not yet," said Peter. "You're not taking any advantage of me. I tell
you I know. I can't lose. Go ahead and roll."

"All right, if you want to throw money away it's not my fault."

He took the leather cup and rolled a pair of sixes. Peter slammed the
dice down and four aces and a five danced out.

"No more," said Peter. "It's no use. That's $95 you owe me."

"Would you mind if I held you up on that till next week? I'm sort of
busted just now."

"No hurry, anytime'll do."

"Ninety-five, that's right, isn't it? Lend me $5 that'll make it an even
hundred. Easier to remember."

Peter gave him the five. He knew that even in his gambling triumphs
there would be some catch. Wandering over to the bar alone he had two
Martinis and then a Bronx but nothing seemed to happen. Looking at his
watch he found that it was still only a little after three and he went
up town to Fourteenth Street to a burlesque house. The show was called
"Dave Shean's Joy Girls." When Peter came in Shean as a German comedian
with a false stomach and a red wig had just volunteered to take the
place of the bullfighter played by the straight man.

"Do you think you can kill the bull?" asked the straight man.

"I don't know dot I kills him," said Shean, "but I can throw him."

It annoyed Peter that everybody else in the theatre laughed so loudly.

"Yesterday," continued the real toreador, "I killed four bulls in the
arena."

"I had him for breakfast."

"What are you talking about? What did you have for breakfast?"

"Farina."

Peter thought he would go but he waited in the hope that it might get
better. Presently Shean and the tall man got into an argument. The
serious one of the pair contended that Otto Schmaltz, the character
played by Shean, did not have a whole shirt on his back.

"I bet you! I bet you!" shouted Schmaltz dancing about and patting the
other man on the cheek. They came close to the footlights and placed
huge piles of stage money side by side.

"Now," said the big man, "the bet is you haven't got a whole shirt on
your back."

"Ches," replied Schmaltz.

"Why, you poor pusillanimous, transcendental, ossified little shrimp,
you," said the big man. "Of course you haven't got a whole shirt on
your back. Half of it is on the front."

"Ha! Ha! Ha!" he continued sneeringly and kicked the little man
resoundingly while the crowd screamed.

Later Schmaltz bet with somebody else taking the other side of the
contention, but again he lost because when it came time for the tag line
he grew confused and shouted. "Why, you poor pussaliniment,
tramps-on-a-dimple, oysterfied little shrimp, you, half of de back is on
the front." And again the fortune of Schmaltz was swept away and again
he was kicked.

Possibly the three cocktails had begun to have some effect after all or
it may have been something else, but at any rate Peter was no longer
merely bored by all these happenings. His sensation was just as
unpleasant, but it was acute. Somehow or other the story of Schmaltz and
the shirt had made him sad.

"Schmaltz is on me," he thought. "Schmaltz is everybody. Getting fooled
and getting kicked." His musing became more vague. "Half of the back is
on the front," seemed to take form as a tragic complaint against life.
He and Schmaltz they couldn't have it whole because "half of the back
is on the front."

More disturbing moralizing was yet to come from the book of "Dave
Shean's Joy Girls." The next entertainers were the Mulligan Brothers,
female impersonators. One played the part of Clara and the other was
Margie.

"The sailors on that ship was awful," began Clara. "The sailors on that
ship was just awful. The poor girl was sinking there in the water and
they wouldn't let her into the lifeboat. Every time she came up, Margie,
one of the sailors hit her over the head with an oar."

Margie began to laugh stridently.

"What are you laughing for, Margie? Did you hear what I was telling you?
I said every time the poor girl came up a sailor hit her over the head
with an oar."

"Wasn't she the fool to come up," said Margie.

Peter knew that was not a joke. Here was his case against life summed up
in a sentence. Idiots about him were laughing. Couldn't they see the
bitterness of it. "Wasn't she the fool to come up!" That was his folly.
He was going on taking the buffeting of the oars and for no reason. And
yet he knew perfectly well that he would continue to come up no matter
what blows fell about his head and shoulders. There was no use making
any resolve to quit it all. Peter had no facility for suicide. He did
not dare and he tried to justify himself in this unwillingness.

"After all," he thought, "it would be a pretty rotten trick to play on
Kate. I promised her she could have Sunday off."

One piece of positive action he could and did take. He did not wait to
gather any further pessimistic contributions to cosmic philosophy from
"Dave Shean's Joy Girls," but walked out in the middle of Shean's
drunken act. The comedian was pretending that the edge of the stage was
the brass rail along a bar. Now he was swaying far over the orchestra
pit and seemed about to fall into it. A woman in front of Peter
screamed. Shean slowly straightened himself up and shook a reproving
finger at the laughing audience. "My wife's bes' lil' woman in worl',"
he said and did a hiccough. Still he seemed sober enough when Peter
sitting on the aisle in the second row got up and started out of the
theatre.

"Don't you like our show?" he called after him.

Peter flushed and made no answer.

"I guess I'm too natural," said Shean. "He can't stand it. You know how
it is. He's a married man himself."

"Hey, Percy," he shouted after the retreating figure of Peter in a high
falsetto, "you'll find a saloon right around the corner. Tell the
bartender to let you have one on Otto Schmaltz."

Peter conscientiously walked past the saloon mentioned by the
impertinent Shean and went into the next one three blocks farther on. He
began to drink doggedly and consequently with slight effect. He was like
a sleepless person. No blur came over the acuteness of his
consciousness. He might just as well have tried counting sheep jumping
over a fence. "Wasn't she the fool to come up!" recurred in his ears as
if it had been a clock ticking late at night in a big silent house.
Straight whiskey tasted abominably and returned no reward for his
efforts. In the back room somebody was singing "Mother Machree" and
cheating on the high notes. An idea for a newspaper paragraph came to
Peter. Somebody had been conducting an agitation in the Bulletin against
the use of "The Star Spangled Banner" as a national anthem on the ground
that the air was originally that of a drinking song. "We ought to point
out," thought Peter, "that it takes a few drinks to make anybody think
he can get up to 'the rockets' red glare.'"

He wished his mind would stop pelting him with ideas. Thinking ought not
to keep up when he hated it so. Leaving the bar, Peter took his drink
over into the corner and sat down at a table. On the wall to his left
hung a large colored picture labelled "Through the Keyhole." Peter
looked at it and then moved his chair around so that he couldn't see it.
He realized that he must get much drunker.



CHAPTER VIII


It was after ten when Peter came into Billy Gallivan's, the restaurant
of the singing waiters. By now he could not see distinctly every sheep
which jumped over the fence but he was still counting them. "I am
drunk," he said to himself. "I am so drunk that nothing matters." But he
knew that it was not so. Unfortunately the formula of Coué had not yet
been given to the world and Peter lacked the prevision to say, "Drink by
drink I am getting drunker and drunker and drunker."

And the singing waiters failed to inspire him with that reckless
disregard for present, past and future which he desired. One of them, a
fat man who had blonde hair and sang bass, eventually took Peter's
order. He set the glass on the table and then moved away no more than a
step to begin his song. "When I'm a-a-lone I'm lonely," he thundered in
Peter's ear, "when I'm a-a-lone I'm bloo." Probably he was not as lonely
as Peter. It made it worse because the song was so silly. "Every other
girl and brother," the verse went on later, "has some pal just like a
mother."

By this time the waiters were gathering from all over the long low room.
Six of them stood shoulder to shoulder in front of Peter's table and
sang together. "When I'm a-a-lone I'm lonely, when I'm a-a-lone I'm
bloo." One of them went up high and quavered. Others went elsewhere.
There was a voice for every level. It was part singing. And they swayed
back and forth from one foot to another. The room swayed with them but
it would not keep time. The rhythm of the room was much longer. Peter
could feel it pound as if he had been a mile runner and the finish lay a
hundred yards ahead of him. He still knew that he was a fool to come up.

After a long time the song stopped. The patrons of the place began to
throw money out to the singers. With painstaking recklessness Peter
fumbled in his pockets and found a silver dollar. It almost filled his
hand as if it had been a baseball. He shook his head vehemently. What
did he care if the count was two and three, he was not going to lay it
over. The curve was the trick. The outside corner was the nervy spot to
shoot for. Drawing back his arm he flung the dollar and it crashed
against a table and bounded away. For a second the coin spun around and
then it waddled in a long arc straight home to Peter's chair. He put his
foot on it and picked it up. No, he was too sober not to know that a
dollar was excessive.

These men were not very good waiters--any of them--but that did not make
them artists. They were not very good singers either. Peter remembered
that he had read in his little leather Bible, "You cannot serve God and
mammon." That was the trouble. Art and utility should never meet. A fine
tenor ought not to serve drinks and even indifferent singing seemed to
spoil a man as a waiter. This theme had been in his mind before. A great
dancer could not be a mother. Yes, that was the point where this
speculation had begun. At last he found a quarter and threw that and he
left a ten cent tip on the table.

"Hello, big boy," said a woman as he was going out. She was as blonde
and as fat as the lonely waiter and much redder. Peter made no reply but
went out and up the street to the Eldorado. Eldorado! That was a land of
which the Spaniards had dreamed, a land of gold. They never found it.
Perhaps that was just as well. Somebody in a tub had said, "Eldorado!"
No, he didn't--that was "Eureka!"

At the Eldorado the waiters didn't sing at all. Special people did that.
But mostly it was just dancing. The floor was filled with couples. A
long flight of steps led down to the tables. At the foot of the steps a
girl sat alone. She was a young girl and pretty but hard and brazen
enough. And she didn't call him, "Dearie." She merely said, "Buy me a
drink."

Peter sat down.

"My name's Elaine," she said. "But you don't have to call me that. I
think it's sort of a cold name, don't you? I'm not cold. People that
like me call me 'Red,' on account of my hair. Now you tell me your
name."

"John Whittier," said Peter, reverting to the slumming name he had used
in his Freshman year at Harvard. It was the name of the proctor in his
entry.

"Maybe John Greenleaf Whittier," said Elaine.

"Perhaps you're a poet. Yes, I can see you're a poet."

Peter was annoyed. "John Whittier's not my real name," he said. "My
name's Peter Neale."

That aroused no flash of recognition. Peter was surprised that this girl
of the Eldorado should know John Greenleaf Whittier and never have heard
of Peter Neale.

"I don't think it's very nice of you," she said, "not to give me your
real name. I gave you mine. Are you ashamed of me?"

"No," replied Peter, "I'm ashamed of myself."

"What are you doing?"

"Trying to get drunk."

"We'll get drunk together. I'll help you."

Drinking with somebody did seem to help. At any rate after two rounds
Peter achieved for the first time during the evening that detached
feeling which he had been seeking. All the dancers now were dim and
distant. The music was something which tinkled from down a long
corridor. Even the obligation to drink seemed lighter. Peter merely sat
and stared at Elaine. Gray-eyed, firm and flaming, it was a face which
blotted out all other images. He found himself thinking only of this
woman in front of him. And she was real. She was close. He could touch
her.

"Who are you looking at?" said the girl.

"Elaine."

"I told you that people that liked me called me Red. Why don't you call
me that? Why don't you like me?"

"I like you a lot."

Elaine made a face at him. In her no barriers seemed to have been set up
against the potency of drinking. Already she was in the babbling stage.

"I'm not like the rest of the girls around here. You don't need to be
ashamed of me. I've had a good education. I can prove it to you. Ask me
about the square on the hypotenuse of a right-angled triangle."

"What about it?"

"It's equal to the sum of the squares on the other two sides. You see,
if it wasn't for hard luck I wouldn't be in a place like this. I'm a
lady. I know Latin too. _Amo_, that's love. _Amo_, I love. _Amas_, you
love."

"Don't," said Peter crossly. The spell was broken. The woman was making
him think. Now he could hear the drums again. This was the meanest trick
of many which the fate of the day had played him. With all the evil
women of a great city to choose from it had been Peter's misfortune to
happen upon an educated harlot. He had drugged himself steadfastly to be
rowdy and here was a lady who talked about Latin and right angles.

Elaine sensed a mistake in technique. "Come away from here, Peter," she
said. "Come on. You're just a tired little baby. You don't want to talk
any more. You're my little baby."

Peter got up and had to catch the table to keep from falling over. "My
name's Otto Schmaltz," he said and did a silly imitation of the accent
of the comedian in "The Joy Girls." But the possibility of a revision of
the material came to him. "My baby's bes' lil' baby in the world."

He would have gone away at once, but a man came down the stairs at that
moment and approached the table. "Red," he said, "if you ever stand me
up again I'll bust your face."

"Honest, Jim," said the girl, "I waited half an hour. I thought you
weren't coming."

"Let that lady alone," said Peter. "She's with me."

He didn't like Elaine any more, but he knew that the code demanded that
he should show resentment of the intrusion.

"Keep your face out of this," said the newcomer. "What damned business
is it of yours?"

There was a ready-made answer for that in the code.

"You come outside and I'll make it my business," said Peter.

"Don't waste your time on the big souse, Jim," said Elaine clutching at
the arm of the man who had threatened her. But the fact that the girl
absolved Peter from all the cares of guardianship did not remove his
responsibilities according to the code. "Come on outside," he repeated.
He went slowly up the stairs but when he reached the sidewalk and turned
around there was no Jim. Peter waited. He wanted very much to hit
somebody and Jim seemed wholly appropriate. After a few seconds the man
came out. He walked up close to Peter but he held his hands behind his
back. According to the code nothing could be done until each had
extended an arm.

"Come on," said Peter impatiently, "put up your hands and I'll punch
your head off."

Jim suddenly drew his right arm from behind his back and clipped him
sharply over the head with a bottle. Peter stared at him wonderingly for
almost a second. Surprise seemed to halt the message to his brain.
Slowly he crumpled up on the sidewalk. The blow was not painful, but the
swinging arc of all things visible was now longer than ever before. The
lights, the lamp-posts and the buildings slowly turned end over end in a
complete circle. Peter put one hand to his head. It was wet and sticky.
For a second or so he considered that and wondered. Finally he realized
that it was blood. Lifting himself up on his hands and knees he saw Jim
and Elaine scrambling into a taxicab.

"I'll bet she doesn't talk about right angles to him," thought Peter.
For a moment he considered pursuit, but before he could make up his mind
the taxicab had started. It swept past him no more than ten feet away.
He could see the red head of the woman in the window. One week later he
decided that he should have cupped his hands and shouted, "You
hypotenuse hussy!" That night he could think of nothing. The fragments
of glass lay about him. Peter examined them and found it had been a
champagne bottle. After a bit he called a taxicab for himself and said,
"Go to some hospital that's near." He had begun to feel a little faint.

A doctor in the reception room dug the glass out of Peter's scalp bit by
bit and hurt him dreadfully. Every stab of pain cut through the fumes
and left him clear-headed. Nothing was forgotten any more. He was able
to compare the relative poignancy of two sorts of pain and decided that
he did not care much how long the doctor kept it up. At last the job was
finished and Peter's head bandaged.

"You were drunk, weren't you?" said the doctor.

"Yes," said Peter, "I was."

There was no other comment. Nobody would call Peter Sir Galahad on
account of this fight and yet it was honorable enough he thought, even
if the issues were a little mixed. Nor was it entirely unsatisfactory.
At least he had been able to taunt Fate into an overt act. He knew a
poem by a man who wrote, "My head is bloody but unbowed." Peter had
often used that line in prizefight stories. Still he was a little sick
now and perfectly sober. He looked at his watch. In an hour or so it
would be dawn. There didn't seem to be anything to do but go home.

Opening the door of his apartment, Peter tripped over something in the
dark and fell with a bang. Kate woke and called out in obvious terror,
"Who's there?"

"It's only me," said Peter, "Mr. Neale. I decided not to stay out after
all. I'm sorry I woke you up. I fell over the baby carriage."



CHAPTER IX


Somebody at the office must have heard about the flight of Maria
Algarez, for when Peter returned from Goldfield he had found at his flat
a telegram which said, "Lay off a couple of weeks. Longer if you
like--Miles, managing editor." That was an extraordinary thing because
the material for Peter's column--"Looking Them Over with Peter
Neale"--was only up one week ahead. A two weeks' vacation would mean not
only that there would be no Peter Neale in the Bulletin, but that in
thirty-one other papers throughout the country the feature would be
missing. Peter wondered how Miles could suggest a thing like that so
calmly. Maria's running away ought not to wrench a whole chain of
newspapers in that fashion. In daydreams Peter had often pictured
himself dying from flood, or earthquake or a stray bullet in some great
riot. When the rescuers picked him up and bent over to hear what he
might say his lips framed the words, "Send a story to the Bulletin!"

The Bulletin couldn't be bothered about people's dying or running away.
The Bulletin was bigger than that. The newspaper yarn of Rusk's which
had impressed Peter the most was about a man named O'Brale in San
Francisco. O'Brale was secretly engaged to a girl in Alameda and then a
week or so before they were to be married she had eloped with a man who
said he was a Polish Count. According to Rusk by some strange
coincidence O'Brale received the assignment to cover the story. He
didn't beg off. He sat down to write it and he finished up his story
with: "And when the news of Miss Lee's elopement drifted into the office
of the Chronicle a reporter on the city staff sighed and said, 'Scooped
again.'"

Miles must be a fool not to know that even after Peter Neale had been
smashed that part of him which was the Bulletin would go on. A picture
suddenly came to Peter. That was the way he did his thinking. "I can go
on wriggling," he said to himself, "until the first edition."

Peter felt that it was up to him to go down to the office and show them
that. He would have to show Miles. Miles was new to him. The managing
editor traffic through the office of the Bulletin was prodigious. After
all Peter had been away for two weeks and it was only natural that there
should be a new man in charge. Peter wasn't a veteran, but he had seen
five managing editors in his time and probably a couple of hundred copy
readers. "Looking Them Over" was different. That was something vital and
rooted in the Bulletin. It wasn't so much that Peter Neale was a part of
the Bulletin as that the Bulletin was a part of Peter Neale. "This other
thing," thought Peter, "is just my private life."

He felt pretty rocky when he got up. During the night the bandages had
turned bloody. It made him shaky to look at himself. Something of the
rhythm of the buildings as they swung in the long arc and turned over
was still in the pulse of Peter. All right, but he had seen Gans get up
when his legs would barely hold him. Not only get up but walk
deliberately across the ring to meet the charge of Battling Nelson.

Neale went down town. There was no one else in the elevator when he went
up to the ninth floor to the office of the Bulletin, but Sykes, the head
office boy, was in the hall outside the city room. He looked up and
said, "Hello, Mr. Neale."

So far it was all right. Nelson had knocked out Gans and Maria had run
away since Peter and Sykes had last seen each other. Sykes had been able
to take all that in his stride. Peter wondered if Miles would be as
smart. There was a man at the desk, a fat placid man, in the office of
the managing editor. Peter knocked at the door and went in before the
man looked up. "My name's Peter Neale," he said. "You're Mr. Miles,
aren't you? I got your telegram. It was nice of you, but I don't want
any time off. There's a whole batch of stuff due for the syndicate
tomorrow."

Miles nodded. He tilted his chair back three times without saying
anything. It was like a pitcher's wind-up. Peter found Miles always
spoke just after the third tilt. "Have a cigarette," he said. He also
provided a match. Then letting the chair rest on the floor he sat
looking at Peter. There wasn't any surprise or inquiry in his face.
Peter felt acutely conscious of his bloody bandages. He sat waiting to
hear, "Have an accident?" or something like that, but Miles seemed to
take it as a matter of course that Peter was all cut up. Apparently the
managing editor accepted it as something inevitable in an out-of-town
assignment. Peter dreaded the question so long that he would have felt
easier if Miles had asked him about the bandages. He was prepared to
say something about a taxicab. After all it wasn't fair that Miles
should assume that he had been drunk just because he had. Presently the
tilting began again. One, two, three, Peter counted to himself. "I want
you to do baseball in addition to your column," said Miles. "Monday
isn't too soon to start in, is it?"

"Monday's all right," said Peter.

"All right," said Miles. "You need a match," he added. "Your cigarette's
gone out."

Neither of them said anything then for a minute. Miles continued to look
at him and ignore the bandages.

"All right on Monday," said Peter and went across the hall to his own
office. Putting the catch on, he closed the door. Miles hadn't talked
about his private life, but Peter felt that he must know about it.
Probably he was thinking about it every time he quit tilting. That was
the trouble.

Out there in the City Room they were talking about it too. They must be.
Nothing happened to anybody on the Bulletin that didn't get talked about
in the City Room. No district in the town was covered so perfectly as
the reporters covered the lives of each other. When Woolstone, the
Sunday editor, started living with that little girl, Miss Gray, the one
who wrote the piece about the Haymarket, it was common gossip within a
week. Woolstone hadn't told anybody. Indeed he hadn't said a word except
that the Haymarket story was the finest piece of English prose since De
Quincey. But somehow after that everybody knew that Woolstone was living
with Miss Gray.

Peter put a sheet of paper into his typewriter and rapidly wrote at the
top of the upper right-hand corner Neale--Sports--Syndicate. Then he
turned half of the sheet through the machine and wrote "Looking Them
Over With Peter Neale--(Copyright)." There he stuck.

The sheet of paper had not been blemished but after a while Peter took
it out and wrote the same thing on another. After that he sharpened a
pencil. He wanted to get a drink of water but that was out in the City
Room. It was foolish of him not to have brought cigarettes. Miles had
cigarettes, but Peter didn't want to face that scrutiny any more.
"Gans," he wrote, "was not outboxed but he was outfought." That wouldn't
do. There had been a line almost like that in his fight story. Of course
he might do some sort of prediction story about how long Battling
Nelson would hold the title. A man who took all that punishment couldn't
last so very long. But suddenly Peter realized that he didn't give a
damn about Gans or about Nelson. The Bulletin didn't make so much
difference either. Maria was more than all this. He'd ask Miles to send
him to Africa or China or some place. Sedition seeped in. Baseball
wasn't exciting enough to make him forget. He tried to make his mind do
him a picture of Matty bending back and then shooting over his fast one.
Instead he saw Maria Algarez standing in the middle of the big stage.

That wouldn't do. Peter gripped the edge of his desk. If his mind was
only something that would stand up to him and fight like a man. He could
heave it back all right if only he could get a hand on it. Instead he
pushed against the desk. Very slowly the picture began to fade. Maria
was taller and broader. Now it was Matty. Dim but unmistakably Matty.
But the figure stood in the centre of the big stage. He must get him out
of there. If he was to hold the thing it would have to move and take on
life. Suddenly Peter realized the trick. The picture ought not to be
Matty throwing his fast one. The fadeway! That was the thing which
marked Matty in his mind above all others. He closed his eyes in order
to help. The figure bent back. The arms came up over the head. The left
leg kicked. No, it was not Maria kicking. This was a huge clumsy leg
which moved slowly, ever so slowly, grinding power for the swing of back
and shoulders which was to come. Then there was the lunge forward. Matty
had thrown the ball straight at his head. He conquered the impulse to
duck. This was the slow ball. He could see the seams. Now it was slower
and growing bigger and bigger all the time. It would walk past him
shoulder high. Peter swung at it and the ball wasn't there. A sudden
decision had come upon it. Down it swooped and out. It had passed him.
Peter opened his eyes. He didn't want to go to China or Africa after
all. Honus Wagner and the Pirates would be at the Polo Grounds on
Monday.

Peter got up and started for his drink of water. There were only three
men in the City Room. Charlie Hall was sitting at his desk right beside
the ice cooler. Perhaps Charlie had had a lot of fun out of that story
of Maria Algarez running away. Women didn't run away from Charlie. Peter
remembered the time Charlie was marooned in the Press Club. He stuck in
the poker game for two days not daring to leave the building. The
elevator man had told him of the woman who kept coming in every half an
hour or so and asking for Mr. Hall. According to the elevator man she
was very much excited. Charlie said it sounded a lot like Ethel. He
wouldn't be surprised if she wanted to shoot him. She had often
threatened to do that. Twice during those two days Peter had volunteered
to go down and scout around. Both times he had seen a woman pacing the
sidewalk just across the street from the Press Club. It looked like the
same woman. Charlie said probably it was. Ethel was very determined.
Finally they had to get a policeman to come and tell Ethel to go away.
Nobody ever seemed so glamorous to Peter as Charlie during those two
days. Peter wondered if any woman would ever want to shoot him.

There was no way of getting to the ice cooler without passing Charlie.
Peter did it slowly. Charlie looked up. "Have any fun at the fight?" he
asked.

"No, it was too hot. Anyhow I wanted to see Gans win."

"It was a great story you wrote."

"I'm glad you liked it."

"Too bad about the nigger--he was the smartest of the lot, wasn't he?"

"Yes, and don't forget he could hit too. Nelson wouldn't have had a
chance with him five years ago."

Peter was turning to go back to his office when Charlie Hall thrust out
a hand and slapped him on the shoulder. "I hear you've had some hard
luck," he said. "I'm sorry."

Peter couldn't answer for a second. "I guess nobody ever is happy so
very much," Charlie continued, sensing that Peter was stumped for the
moment. "Now you take me. I suppose you'd say I was happily married.
I've been married fifteen years and I've got five children. Well,
sometimes when I sit down at home I wonder, 'What's the use of all this
anyway?' There ought to be a law that reporters can't get married. It's
bad for them and it's bad for the paper."

"I guess you're right," said Peter.

"The thing to do is not to take women seriously. They'll bust hell out
of you if you do."

Peter brightened perceptibly. "Do you remember that time you got stuck
up in the Press Club and the girl was waiting downstairs to shoot you?"
he inquired with a certain eagerness.

"Oh yes, sure, Gracie."

"No, that wasn't the name. It was Ethel."

"Ethel?--I remember now. I had it mixed up with a business in Chicago.
Ethel! Oh yes, indeed. She was a wild one. She was just about the most
dangerous woman south of Fifty-ninth Street. That was a couple of years
ago. I can't stand so much excitement now."

"Go on," said Peter, "I suppose you'll be telling me you've reformed."

"That wouldn't be so far off the truth. Anyhow where do you get off. Who
beaned you?"

Another burden of reticence was snatched away. At last Peter had a
chance to tell somebody about the bandages.

"I was with a woman up at the Eldorado. You know the Eldorado. And a big
fellow comes over and tries to butt in. I bawled him out and we went up
on the sidewalk. I made a couple of passes at him and he hauled off and
clipped me with a bottle--a champagne bottle. I guess I was pretty
drunk."

Charlie Hall nodded his head. "You're all right. I'm glad. Some of the
boys around here have been telling me that you were all busted up about
that girl you married. I'm glad it's not so. I knew you had too much
sense for that. There isn't a one of them in the whole world that's
worth getting busted up over. Don't take 'em seriously. That's what I
say. I ought to know. I've been married fifteen years. Well, almost
fifteen years. It'll be fifteen years in October."

"I'm all right, Charlie. You tell that to the rest. I'm back on the job,
you know."

"That's good. It wouldn't seem like the Bulletin without you."

Charlie turned to the story in front of him and put one second of energy
into pounding the space bar before coming back to conversation.

"Where is this Eldorado?" he asked.

"Fiftieth Street and Seventh Avenue."

"Does it stay open all night?"

"Well, it's open all night but after one there's a man on the door and
he won't let you in unless he knows you."

"Are they strict about it?"

"Pretty strict, lately," said Peter, "but that's all right, Charlie.
Any time you want to go up late you let me know. I'll be glad to show
you round. I'm always free nights. Any night at all--That is any night
except Sunday."



CHAPTER X


THE baby carriage was kept in the kitchen thereafter and Peter did not
see it again until Sunday, his first Sunday at home. Kate left the flat
very early. Peter could not very well object to that because she said
she was going to mass. He wished that she might be converted to one of
the eleven o'clock denominations, but he supposed at her age there was
small hope of that. She would be gone, she told him, until nine or ten
o'clock in the evening. Her niece, the one who lived in Jamaica, had a
new baby five weeks old. Kate was going there right after church. Peter
thought that if he had Kate's job he would prefer to spend his day off
at an old folks' home or some other spot exclusively mature.

Still he could understand the psychology of it. Out in Jamaica, Kate
could sit around and when the baby cried she need not move hand or foot.
She could watch other people bustle around and fulfill its needs. And
then every now and then she might give advice and see it carried out. He
himself had spent many a day off in the office of the Bulletin sitting
on the desk of somebody who was working and interrupting him.

Before Kate left she gave Peter a complete list of directions for the
baby's day and also a problem for him to ponder over. "What will I be
calling the boy?" she wanted to know. "I find it hard to be talking to
him and him with no name."

"I'll think it over," Peter told her. After she left he did think it
over. He went into the baby's room and looked at him as he lay there to
see if the child suggested any name in particular. Being asleep he
seemed a little more impersonal than usual. Of course, Peter Neale was a
pretty good name, but there didn't seem to be any point in calling him
that unless in some way or other he seemed to be Peter. He did sleep
with his head buried face down in the pillow but that was an
insufficient bond. Perhaps there were millions of people in the world
who slept that way. Probably there were no statistics on the subject.

Maybe one Peter Neale was enough. It did mean something. After all it
was Peter Neale who had written in the Bulletin: "If Horace Fogel goes
through with his plan of making a first baseman out of Christy Mathewson
he will be committing the baseball crime of the century. Mathewson, or
Matty as his team mates call him, is still green, but he has in him the
makings of one of the greatest pitchers the world has ever known. He has
the speed and control and more than that he has a head on his shoulders.
Horace Fogel hasn't."

And they didn't switch Matty to first base after all and now everybody
was beginning to realize that he was a great pitcher. But Peter Neale
knew it first of all. More than that it was Peter Neale who had begun
his round by round story of the Gans-Nelson fight, only two weeks ago,
with the memorable line, "The Dane comes up like thunder." He had
invented the name of "Hooks" for George Wiltse and had written that
"Frank Bowerman runs the bases like somebody pulling Grover Cleveland in
a rickshaw." And Peter was still progressing. He would go on, years
hence, to make the most of McGraw's practice of starting games with Rube
Schauer and finishing them with Ferdie Schupp by contriving the lead,
"It never Schauers but it Schupps." Perhaps he had prevision enough to
realize that it was he, Peter Neale, who would eventually ascribe to
Jack Dempsey the motto, "Say it with cauliflowers" and write after a
Crimson disaster on the Thames, "Harvard's most perplexing race problems
appear to be crewish and Jewish."

He looked at the sleeping child and wondered if there were any leads
like that in the little head. By and by, of course, the baby would grow
up and in some newspaper there would be articles under his name. Peter
would like to see the articles before he was willing to have them signed
"By Peter Neale." Every now and then somebody wandered into his office
at the Bulletin and asked him to use his good influences with the
managing editor. Peter always said, "Will you let me see something
you've written." Here in front of him was a candidate not only for a job
but for his job. And the applicant had nothing to show.

It was a hot bright Sunday and Kate had recommended that the baby go
out. The carriage was deplorable. Peter had not bothered to look at it
before, but now he examined it and found it wholly lacking in
distinction. It could not be that all the things which were wrong with
it had resulted from his falling over it a few mornings back. That had
hurt him much more than the carriage. The paint was splotchy and all the
wheels squeaked. Kate must have seized the first available vehicle in
the neighborhood. What with that carriage and his heavily bandaged head
he felt that the caravan which he was about to conduct would be
disreputable. The numerous chin straps which held the bandages in place
made it difficult for Peter to shave. In order to avoid that difficulty
Peter hadn't shaved. He only hoped that nobody in the Park would stop
the procession and ask him to accept a quarter. Peter practised an
expression of scorn in front of a mirror in order to be ready for some
such contingency. Nature had endowed him with a loose scalp. He could
wiggle both ears, together or separately. So far this had never been of
much use although he found that it helped him enormously to qualify as a
nursery entertainer. But there was another manoeuvre which he used
habitually and successfully to indicate utter disagreement and contempt.
He could elevate his right eyebrow without disturbing the other. This
never failed to strike terror to all observers. Peter had that so well
in hand that he needed no mirror practice to perfect it. He worked on
curling his lip, a device which was new to him.

Combined with an elevated eyebrow an effect was produced ample to carry
off the handicaps of both carriage and bandages.

Nevertheless, he felt a little conspicuous when he started for the Park.
And pushing a carriage was dull work. There was no future to it, no
competitive value, no opportunity for advancement. One could not very
well come to the point of being able to say, "I can wheel a carriage a
little bit better than anybody else in New York." The thing was without
standards. Of all outdoor sports this was the most dreary and
democratic. But in spite of the ease of manipulation he was under the
impression that a carriage required constant attention. Quite by
accident he discovered that it would space nicely between shoves if he
happened to let go of the handlebar. This led to the creation of a
rather amusing game. Peter called it putting the sixteen pound carriage.

Not far from the Sixty-fifth Street entrance of the Park he found a
large hill and for a moment it was clear of pedestrians. Standing at the
foot of this hill Peter gave the carriage a violent shove and let go. Up
the hill it sped until its momentum was exhausted and then it rolled
back again. The game was to try and make it reach the top. Peter never
succeeded in that although he came within four feet eight inches of
accomplishing the feat which he had set for himself. He was handicapped
by the fact that he did not quite dare to put all his back and shoulders
into the preliminary shove. Indeed on his best heave, the one which took
the missile within four feet eight inches of the top, the carriage
careened precariously. More than that it almost hit a stout woman who
was coming down the hill. She stopped and spoke to Peter. "Haven't you
got any better sense than to do a thing like that," she said. "That
carriage almost upset. I've a good mind to follow you home and tell the
father of that baby some of the things you're doing with his child.
Aren't you ashamed of yourself, a grown man carrying on like that. And
on Sunday too."

Peter didn't want her to follow him home and so he merely said, "Yes,
mam, I won't do it any more."

And for that day he kept his word. However, the baby did not seem to
mind much. It continued to sleep. Peter pushed the carriage aimlessly
about for a little while, never letting go of the handlebar. He felt
like an Atlantic City Negro with a wheel chair hired for the day by a
tired business man. There was nobody to whom he could talk. The baby
had slept so long by now that Peter began to worry that something might
be wrong with him. Bending over the carriage he ascertained that the
child was still breathing. He wished it would wake up. Of course he
might not actually be company if aroused but he seemed even less
animated when asleep.

Perhaps Christy would be a good name for him. Christopher Mathewson
Neale had a fine resounding swing to it. Still maybe Matty wouldn't turn
out to be a great pitcher after all. Peter was tremendously confident
about him, but it might be best to wait until time had tested him. After
a World's Series or something like that one could be absolutely certain.
No good taking chances until then. It was still within the bounds of
possibility that Matty might be a bloomer and it would hardly be fair to
name the child after somebody in the Three I League.

Finding a tree and a bench Peter sat down to continue his speculations.
How about a newspaper name? Greeley Neale wouldn't be so bad. Yes, it
would. Everybody would be sure to make it Greasy Neale. A prizefight
name offered possibilities. Nelson Neale, for instance, had
alliteration. Peter had given the lightweight a name--the Durable Dane
was his invention--and it seemed no more than a fair exchange to take
his in return. Still he had never been convinced that Nelson was a
really first class man. He had neither speed nor a punch. It was just
stamina which carried him along. The youngster ought not to go through
life head down. Besides a name like that would serve to remind Peter of
his return from Goldfield and the flight of Maria.

Just then a sound came from the carriage. It was a gurgle. Peter pushed
back the hood. The baby looked at him fixedly and Peter fancied that
there was a certain trace of emotion in the small face. Surprise seemed
to be indicated. And it was not altogether agreeable surprise for as
Peter returned the stare the baby's right eyebrow went up and the left
one didn't.

"God!" said Peter, "he is Peter Neale."

But there must be more ceremony than that. Peter looked around to see
that he and the baby were alone. Then he spoke to him distinctly
although emotionally. He realized now that his intuition had been sound
when he had said way back weeks ago at the Newspaper Club. "My son has
just been born." He had never had any doubt about his physical
paternity but that did not seem important. It was spiritual kinship
which counted and an eyebrow like that was a thing of the spirit.

"You're my son all right," said Peter, "and you're going to have my
name. Peter Neale, that's your name."

He thought it would complicate things to go into the question of whether
he should be Peter Neale, Jr. or Peter Neale, 2nd. The Peter Neale was
the important part of it. "I guess maybe you can do a lot more with that
name than I have, but I've made it a good newspaper name. You can make
it a better one maybe. We'll wait and see." He reached out and took the
small hand of Peter Neale and shook it. The prayer which went with it
was silent. "O God, give him some of the breaks and I will." That
completed the christening. It was all that young Peter ever got.

The red-headed boy up the block who had contributed disturbing ideas in
other fields also threw a bombshell into Peter's boyhood theology. "Can
God do anything?" was his catch question. "Of course He can," replied
Peter. "Well, I'll just bet you a million billion dollars He can't make
a trolley car go in two directions at the same time." Peter didn't see
how He could. He puzzled over the problem for months and at last he
decided that maybe God could work it by making the trolley car like an
elastic so that it could be stretched up town and down town at the same
time. It was not an entirely satisfactory solution of the problem. If a
passenger stood in the middle of the car he wouldn't get any place at
all.

But for the moment Peter was not much concerned with the potential
relationship between the Deity and young Peter. He could bide his time
and think up an answer for the day when the child should ask him, "Who's
God?" The immediate problem was what place he should fill on the
Bulletin. Eventually, of course, he would conduct the column called,
"Looking Them Over With Peter Neale." Already there were thirty-one
papers in the syndicate and some day Peter could step down and the
column would still be "Looking Them Over With Peter Neale."

It would be pleasant not to die in the office but to have ten years or
so with no worries as to whether Jim Jeffries could have beaten John L.
Sullivan in his prime. And he didn't want to go on forever writing on
the question of whether more nerve was required to hole a ten foot putt
in a championship match or bring down a halfback on the five yard line.
In those last ten years he would have all the fun of reading a Peter
Neale column without having to write it. The job had come to him by the
merest chance. But young Peter could be trained from the beginning for
the work. "I'll start his education right now," Peter resolved and then
he looked at the baby and decided that there didn't seem to be anything
specific which could be done immediately. Still an early start was
possible. Long division ought to be easy and interesting for a child who
knew that it was something used in computing batting averages. Of course
young Peter would receive an excellent general education. There wasn't
any reason why a sporting writer shouldn't be a person of well rounded
culture. Sometimes Peter regretted that his Harvard career had lasted
only a year. Probably his sporting poems might have been better if he
had been able to go on and take that course in versification. Fine arts
and history would not be a waste of time.

There was never any telling when some stray scrap of information could
be pressed into service for a sporting story. For instance Peter had
been struck by that quotation from Walter Pater about the Mona Lisa
which he had happened upon in a Sunday newspaper story. Two years later
he had been able to use it about Ed Dunkhurst, the human freight car, by
paraphrasing the line to read, "Here is the head upon which all the jabs
of the world have come and the eyelids are a little weary."

The quotation had given distinction to the story. Sporting writing ought
to be just as distinguished as a man could make it. The days of the
lowbrow commentator were disappearing. Young Peter might very well carry
on and expand the tradition which he had begun. To be sure, there wasn't
any hurry about giving him the job. Twenty-five years more for himself
would be about right. By that time young Peter would be just twenty-five
years and three weeks old. A year or so of general work on the city
staff of the Bulletin might be good for him. Indeed anything on the
newspaper would do for a start. That was, anything real. Book critics
and people like that weren't really newspaper men. On his fiftieth
birthday, perhaps, Peter would go to the managing editor and say, "I'm
through and there's just one thing I want from the Bulletin. I think
it's only fair that you should let me name my successor."

And the managing editor would say, "Why, of course, Neale, who is it to
be?"

"His name is Peter Neale."

Naturally, the managing editor would express some regrets. He would pay
a warm tribute to the worth and career of Peter Neale, at the end of
which Peter would remark, "I'm glad you feel that way about it, sir."
After that formality the substitution would be accepted. The line of
Neale would remain unbroken.

All this gazing into the future cheered up Peter so much that he started
out very gaily that afternoon to compose a column and mind the baby at
the same time. Unfortunately the five o'clock feeding time came around
just as he was getting into the swing of an article on the advantages of
being lefthanded for the purposes of baseball. Somebody had told him
that the Bible had something to say on the subject. Peter found it in
the twentieth chapter of Judges where he read: "The inhabitants of
Gibeah.... Among all this people there were seven hundred chosen men
lefthanded; everyone could sling stones at an hair-breadth, and not
miss."

That was just meat for Peter.

"The average southpaw of today," he began, "may have even more speed
than the inhabitants of old Gibeah but his control isn't so good."
Before he could develop the theme further young Peter began to cry. When
searched nothing seemed wrong with him but then Peter remembered about
the bottle. He was already half an hour late. The milk was mixed and
ready in individual containers in the icebox but Kate had told him to be
sure and have it warm. Peter had never warmed anything in his life.
After some thought he decided that he could put water into a pot and
heat it and then dip the bottle in. He waited until the water was
boiling. But the next problem was more difficult. What did Kate mean by
warm? How hot could the child stand it? His first three estimates were
wrong. Young Peter spit out the milk and yelled. It was annoying for the
mixture was hardly steaming.

Cooling it seemed ever so much more difficult than heating. Peter stood
the bottle on the window ledge and waved it over his head and blew on it
without much appreciable effect upon the temperature. More than half an
hour was wasted before the child consented to accept the milk. When
Peter went back to his column about lefthanders the spirit and swing of
the thing had disappeared. He tried to write a poem to Rube Waddell
called, "The Great Gibean" and couldn't find any rhymes. The notion
limped home.

Kate's ten o'clock turned out to be past midnight. Shortly before her
return the baby went to sleep.

"How did you find your niece's child?" asked Peter.

"Oh, she's fine," said Kate. "She's a girl. A fine little girl, but
she's not a patch on himself."

"He's got a name now," said Peter. "We won't have to be saying 'him,'
and 'it' and 'the baby' any more. His name's Peter Neale."



CHAPTER XI


The name Peter did not stick to the baby long. Old Peter noticed that
Kate never used it. Her first move was to modify it into Petey, then
Pete and suddenly it became an unmistakable Pat. "What have you got
against the name Peter?" he asked her.

"It's not for me to be criticising a saint in Heaven," answered Kate
piously.

"I won't tell on you. Why didn't you like him, He was a good man, wasn't
he?"

"A good man, is it?--begging your pardon and that of the blessed saints
in Heaven--didn't he deny the name of our blessed Lord and Him seized by
the dirty Jews?"

Peter had forgotten about it but he found the striking story in the
Gospel according to St. Mark.

"'And thou also wast with Jesus of Nazareth.' But he denied, saying--'I
know not, neither understand I what thou sayest.'"

Of course, it was not admirable conduct, but Peter could understand and
sympathize with the motives of his namesake. He himself, he felt, would
have done much the same thing. Cowardice was not the only factor which
prompted the denial. The incident was more complicated than that. Maybe
Peter didn't want to make a scene. If he had said yes he was a Christian
everybody in the palace of the High Priest would have felt
self-conscious and uncomfortable. It might have been necessary for some
one to change the subject. Saying "No" made things easier for everybody.
Courage may be admirable but tact is not altogether contemptible. Peter
Neale usually agreed with people when he felt that they wanted him to.

Still, he hoped that his son would move through the world with a freer
and more courageous mood and the next time Kate called the baby Pat,
Peter did not object much. He merely said:

"I don't think that name's much of an improvement, Kate."

"And why not?"

"Well, what did this St. Patrick of yours ever do?"

"The blessed St. Patrick that drove the snakes out of Ireland!"

"Yes, but he left the Irish."

Nevertheless for all practical purposes little Peter became Pat from
that time on. Kate got most things which she wanted. Peter lived in
constant fear of her suddenly quitting her job. He dreaded the task of
invading the agencies in search of a new nurse and there did not seem to
be any other feasible arrangement.

About three months after he assumed the duties of Sunday father he did
contemplate dimly a move which might well have revolutionized the
existence of himself and Pat and Kate as well. He met Margaret quite by
chance. Pat had colic in the Park. Of course, Peter didn't know it was
colic. He only knew that the child screamed in a manner more violent
than any he had yet known. His inability to handle the situation was so
obvious that Margaret who was sitting with her four-year-old charge on a
bench nearby came over and showed him how to roll the baby. After Pat
had been rolled sufficiently he recovered but Margaret and Peter did not
part company immediately.

"You're a funny one to be sending out with a baby," said Margaret.

"I'm not sent out with him. I go out with him. I'm his father."

Peter realized afterwards that his admission, indeed his boast, of not
belonging to the employed classes was largely responsible for the blight
which lay under the surface of his relationship to Margaret and finally
led to tragedy. There were many meetings following the afternoon of the
colic. For a month or so the pretense was kept up that these were merely
accidental, but finally one Sunday Peter and Pat and Margaret and Bobby,
the boy she was in charge of, were driven under an archway by a
thunderstorm. There was so much thunder that Margaret grew very
frightened. Peter could think of nothing better to do than put an arm
around her. He realized an obligation. Hadn't she rolled Pat out of
colic? By and by there was lightning and Peter kissed her. After that
they met by acknowledged premeditation every Sunday--close to the
entrance of the tunnel.

Peter found it almost as difficult to talk to Margaret as to Pat, but
she was better company. The long Sundays went faster when he could sit
holding hands in some moderately obscure corner of the park. Margaret
was the sort of person who didn't seem to expect much in the way of
conversation. All she required was an occasional answer to some simple
hypothetical question. These were generally somewhat similar in
character. Did he think (she never reached the stage of calling him
Peter) that a rich man could marry a poor girl and be happy? Did he
realize that a girl could be a child's nurse and a lady at the same
time? Wasn't it a fact that widowers led a desperately lonely and
unhappy life? Peter happened to have adopted the easy expedient of
disposing of Maria by means of a fever.

Margaret was unmistakably a fool, but Peter thought her rather an
appealing one. She seemed pretty and he knew that she was expert in
handling children. The things required by Bobby and Pat never gave her
more than the briefest trouble. And then as Peter was becoming more and
more liberal about unintelligence the fatal Sunday arrived. They had
lingered a little longer in the Park than usual. Bobby in obedience to
the usual command, "Now run away and play, Bobby, and don't get your
clothes dirty," had done so. Suddenly he came running back across the
meadow as fast as his legs would carry him straight to Margaret.

"I want to make a river," he said.

"Shush! Bobby," answered Margaret in a low voice.

"But I want to make a river," repeated Bobby, even more insistently.

Margaret, her face flaming scarlet, got up and seized the child roughly
by the wrist. As she dragged him away he screamed. Peter heard her say,
"Aren't you ashamed of yourself!" Presently from out of the bushes in
addition to frantic screaming there came the unmistakable sound of a
child being spanked.

When Margaret returned to the bench, if indeed she did, Peter had gone.
He saw her once weeks afterwards at a distance, but they never talked
again. This time it was Peter who did the blushing for the more he
thought about the whole business the more degraded he found himself. He
had come within at least an appreciable distance of selling his soul for
a colic cure. A disgusting snip of a person had moved between him and
those bitter but glamorous memories of Maria Algarez. Maybe Maria did
ruin all his hope of happiness and yet he knew that but for Maria he
would never have made up enough ground in his pursuit of life to learn
the great truth that propriety is one of the vices.



CHAPTER XII


Pat grew but it was slow work. Kate would speak of an ounce as if it
were some silver trophy which the child had won. Like Samuel Butler her
admiration was unbounded for the intelligence which manifested itself in
the process of developing bone and muscle and tissue. Peter was not
inclined to give the child any credit for this. If you poured water on a
lawn, grass sprang up. All the credit belonged to the gardener and Pat
became bigger and bigger through no obvious efforts of his own but
merely because Peter and Kate plied him with milk and sometimes carrots.
Raising grass was easier. The gardener didn't have to deal with a moving
target and he could administer water quite irrespective of the wishes of
the grass.

Of course, there were moments when Pat displayed intelligence but it was
of the most rudimentary sort. When he was about six months old Peter
found that if he put a finger in front of him Pat would try to bite it.
Sometimes he laughed but only at his own jokes. At seven months he
began to crawl. This was moderately interesting but it doubled Peter's
Sunday responsibilities and even affected his literary style. Short
paragraphs appeared more frequently than ever before in the Looking Them
Over column. Longer flights were subject to interruption as Peter had to
put Pat away from places such as the steam radiator or the gas logs. It
was no longer even possible to leave safety razor blades about.

Eventually somebody told Peter to buy a stockade and he did so. The
arrangement was a collapsible fence which could be set up in the middle
of the floor to imprison the child and curtail its wanderings. The only
trouble lay in the fact that it was much too collapsible. In a month or
so Pat was able to pull himself to his feet by holding on to the rail
and after a few violent tugs the whole contraption would come down on
top of him.

And yet when Kate came to Peter and said that her niece, the one in
Jamaica, was looking for a part time job and would take care of Pat on
Sundays for $3 a week, Peter refused the offer. He never knew quite why.
Somehow or other his Sunday fatherhood had become part of a routine.
Perhaps he would have felt foot-loose without it. He merely told Kate
that $3 was too much. And one night when Pat was suddenly assailed by
croup Peter almost worried himself sick. It was a short illness, but
terrific while it lasted. The child seemed to be strangling. The cough
which racked it was deep and in its agony the child took on maturity.
Against death it fought back. Peter was moved not only because this was
his son but because here was a fellow human being grappling with the
common enemy. He waited in the hall outside while Dr. Clay was making
his examination. There he had more room to walk up and down.

Presently the doctor came out and, taking Peter's arm, led him to the
front of the flat. "The child's very ill," he said, "I'm going to send
for a trained nurse."

Pat cried his best, but every now and then this would be broken by the
fearful cough. It was like the baying of an animal. A spasm from the
back room interrupted Dr. Clay. "It almost sounds as if there was
another person in that room," he said. "I'm going back."

Peter knew who that thing or person was. He went with Clay and lifted
Pat out of his crib and held him in his arms. This gave him a curious
feeling that he was doing something; as if he were trying to throw his
body between Pat and someone else. In a dim way he felt that he and Pat
and the other one, all three, were running down a football field. He
must keep close to Pat and block off the tackler.

"Part of my tiredness it goes into your arm." Maria had said that. And
now Peter wanted to give something of his own strength to Pat against
the fury of the attack. It did not seem fantastic. There was a current
in the contact. The man had lied when he said Peter and Maria were one.
That couldn't be done. Men and women were grown people, individuals, all
finished, but this was only a little person. He was part of Peter.
Father and son were one. He was holding Pat so tightly that nobody could
take him away. His prayer was all the more fervent from the fact that he
did not believe in God. He had to create God. "Don't let him die. Don't
let him die." God began to take form in his mind. God was Maria. She was
gone and not gone. To her he did not need to make a prayer. "Maria" was
enough.

The doorbell rang and Dr. Clay answered it. He brought Miss Haine back.
"I guess you know this baby," he said. "We've got to make him well."
The nurse spoke to Peter and set about fixing a croup kettle beside the
crib. The fumes filled the room. It was a pleasant smell. "Better lay
him down in his crib, now," said the Doctor, touching Peter on the
shoulder, "so he can get the benefit of this. I think he's a little
better already."

Peter knew that he was. Pat was no longer gasping and in a few minutes
he was asleep. For a time Peter sat beside the bed. The child's
breathing was regular and his cheek was cool to the touch. "Why, he's
fine now," Miss Haine told him. "You go to bed. In the morning you won't
even know that he's been sick."

There was no trace of the shadow upon Pat next day. Peter was the
haggard one. Something had gone out of him during the night as he held
Pat in his arms. Father and child were doing as well as could be
expected.



CHAPTER XIII


At the age of eleven months and eight days Pat walked for the first
time. Peter thought he might have been considerate enough to have chosen
a Sunday. His first tooth came on a Sunday, but that wasn't any fun.
Besides, it couldn't be tied exactly to some particular day and minute
the way that the walking could. Nor was there any gaiety about it.
However, Peter did not quite miss the walking for he came in time to see
the last couple of hundred yards.

It was a rainy Saturday and Peter happened home early. Kate met him in
the hall with a finger at her lips. "He's walking."

She seemed to feel that if anybody said anything about it the child
would probably grow self-conscious and collapse. There appeared to be a
certain sagacity in that. It was not an experiment but an adventure. One
step led to another. At terrific speed Pat went round and round the
room. He might have been Bobby Walthour trying to steal a lap in a six
day race. Kate and Peter watched him breathlessly from behind the
curtains of the living-room.

"How long has this been going on?" Peter wanted to know.

"It's these ten minutes."

Peter pulled out his gold stop watch and created thereby a psychic
crisis. Perhaps Pat felt that his amateur standing was in jeopardy. At
any rate he tripped on the edge of a rug, almost turned a somersault,
blacked his eye and cried for half an hour.

He did not even attempt to walk again for a week. After that it became
habitual. Up to this time Peter had never said much to anybody about his
son. He did not talk to the men at the office about the child. There
wouldn't be any sense in interrupting Charlie Hall in the middle of a
story about city politics with, "My son's got two teeth." They were all
busy men and it was not conceivable that they would care how much Pat
Neale weighed.

Walking was a little different. Maybe it wasn't exactly a first page
story but still Peter wanted to tell somebody about it. For the first
time he was disposed to show off Pat--in person. Of course eleven months
and eights days wasn't a record. Peter would have to look into that and
find out the best accepted performance. He remembered being told that
his own brother had walked at eight months but he had no means of
knowing whether or not that was authentic.

The desire to confide in somebody eventually took Peter around to a
stage door, though not the one at the end of the alley. From a Sunday
graphic section he had noticed that Vonnie Bandana was playing in a
musical show called "Harvest Moon." Vonnie Bandana wasn't really her
name. The caption said Vonnie Ryan and Peter was sure it was the same
girl. Evidently the Eight Bandana Sisters had gone the way of Brook Farm
and Halcyon Hall and many another experiment in co-operation. Vonnie
knew him all right.

"You're the man that married Maria Algarez," she said.

"Yes, but she's gone away."

"I'm sorry."

"That's all right. It was a long time ago. Almost a year now. She was a
good dancer, wasn't she?"

"Maria, oh, yes, she could dance. I wondered what became of her."

"I don't know that. I haven't heard from her at all. I think she's
abroad."

"Have you seen our show?"

"No, I just happened to notice your picture in the Bulletin last
Sunday."

"Did you? Wasn't that smart of you? I've got a part in this. Lines and
everything. I sing a song. You know I don't sing it much. Just one verse
and the chorus and then I dance it. The dance is all right."

Peter and Vonnie had been slowly walking away from the theatre towards
Broadway while they carried on this discussion and when they reached the
avenue Vonnie stopped.

"Are you going my way? I go up to a Hundred and Sixty-eighth street.
Just a little this side of Albany."

"Well, as a matter of fact, I was wondering if maybe you wouldn't come
out and have supper with me. I just happened to be going by the theatre
and I stopped around and thought I might run into you."

"Listen," said Vonnie. "I'll have supper with you, but don't pull any
more of that 'I just happened to be going by the theatre.' That's awful.
You ought to say you've been planning to come and see me for a week and
came all the way in from New Rochelle just special. You don't know
anything about women, do you?"

"I guess I don't," said Peter very soberly.

"Oh, I am sorry," Vonnie laid her hand on his arm. "I didn't mean
anything by that. Forget it. You're all right even if I don't remember
your name. Did you ever tell it to me?"

"My name's Peter Neale."

"You're not the Peter Neale that writes in the Bulletin, are you?"

"Yes, I do a sporting column. That looking 'em over stuff."

"I've been looking for you. Do you know I almost wrote you a letter.
Where do you get that stuff about Sandow Mertes being a more valuable
man than George Browne?"

"Browne can't hit lefthanders."

"That's the bunk. You and the rest of the sporting writers keep pulling
that stuff about him and of course he can't. Suppose there was somebody
standing in the wings every night just before I came on, yelling at me,
'Vonnie, you can't dance,' do you suppose I could go on and do that song
for a cent? Of course I couldn't. You and the rest of you, you're just
ruining this fellow. The best looking young outfielder I've seen in ten
years. Why he could run up a hill faster than Mertes could roll down
one."

"You don't know what you're talking about," said Peter. It was the
boldest speech he had ever made to a woman and he did it without turning
a hair. Vonnie was wrong. George Browne couldn't hit lefthanders. Before
he took her home Vonnie had arranged to go with him to the Polo Grounds
the next day and to come and see the baby on Sunday.

"Here," she said as he was turning away from the door of her apartment,
"you've got a kiss coming to you. When you live up as far as One Hundred
and Sixty-eighth Street you've got to do at least that much for any
fellow that takes you home."

"And say, listen," said Vonnie, just before she closed the door, "next
month I'm going to move to Two Hundred and Forty-second Street."



CHAPTER XIV


Vonnie came to the flat the next Sunday. The moment might have
embarrassed Peter if it had been anybody else.

But Vonnie had such an imperious and lofty way of rising above all
things traditionally embarrassing to Peter and snooting down at them
that she carried him with her. At least part way.

"Why haven't you got the young Giant in his ball park over there," said
Vonnie pointing to the Stockade.

"I'm changing him."

"No game," said Vonnie, "wet grounds."

"Get out of that. Never had a baby in my life," she continued, briskly
rapping her knuckles on the woodwork above her head, "but I can't be
worse at that job than you are."

She pushed Peter away, but did not begin on the business in hand
immediately. "He's a good kid. A fine husky kid. I know now why you
asked me here. You figured if I wanted one for myself you'd let me know
where to apply."

"Never mind the compliments," said Peter. "Change his diapers."

Vonnie had brought the new freedom into his life.

"No doubt about his being yours," she went on. "Everything up to the
chin is you--of course I'm just guessing--but Maria left him those eyes
and that nose. Maybe she left him more than that. He's marked for the
show business. You might as well make up your mind to that."

"He's going to be a newspaper man," cut in Peter sharply.

"Oh, I see. Got it all fixed. If he begins to bust out singing or
playing the piano or something you won't let him. That's it, isn't it?"

"I'm going to shape him in that direction."

"Just shape him, hey? Boy, didn't you ever bust bang into the artistic
temperament? I played a season once with William Faversham. Shape him?
You can't beat him out of it with a club. I don't know yet what way he's
going to jump but I want to put down a little bet this kid of yours is
going to be some kind of an artist."

"Don't keep saying that. I tell you he's coming on the Bulletin. His
name's Peter Neale."

"You could name him Rosenberg and that wouldn't make him a pawnbroker."

"But this is in his blood just like in mine. He can't help himself. He's
just got to be a newspaper man."

"All right we won't fight about it. You say he's going to be a newspaper
man and I tell you he's going to be an artist. Maybe he won't be
anything but a moving picture actor."

Peter saw Vonnie frequently throughout the summer. She went to the ball
games with him almost every afternoon except matinée days. The dispute
about George Browne and Sandow Mertes persisted. There could be no
question but that Browne had the speed. Even when he hit straight to an
infielder it took a fast throw to nail him at first. But Peter didn't
like him because his cap almost always fell off whenever he beat out a
slow roller. Somebody would have to carry it down to first for him and
while Browne was waiting he had a trick of bending his head back and
shaking his long hair out of his eyes.

"He looks like a Goddamn violinist," said Peter.

"Yes," replied Vonnie, "and your friend Mertes looks like a piccolo
player. Do you know the story about the piccolo player?"

"Not in the press box," interrupted Peter fearfully. He felt obliged to
interrupt Vonnie a good deal. She was much given to tantalizing him by
beginning in a loud clear voice, "It seems there was a travelling
salesman came to a hotel," or "This fellow, you see, started to take his
girl out for a ride."

"I don't want to hear it," Peter would say half in jest and half hoping
to be effectual.

"But it's a nice story."

"It isn't a nice story or it wouldn't begin that way" was the agreed
formula for Peter's reply, whereupon Vonnie would disturb his gravity
and dignity by digging him in the ribs with her elbow. Another favorite
device of hers was sedulously to brush an imaginary spot on Peter's coat
lapel and when he looked down bring up her hand and flip him under the
nose. Peter never seemed to remember not to look down. Perhaps he liked
to have his nose flipped.

"It isn't necessary," he would object, "for everybody around here to
know you're a chorus girl."

"Chorus girl, nothing. I got the song hit of the piece. 'Any little
thing for you dear, any little thing for you,'" Vonnie indicated the
tempo by scruffing her feet against the concrete floor of the press box.

"Cut it out. Pay attention to the game."

Sometimes the admonition was unnecessary. The day George Browne took a
real cut at the ball and banged it over the ropes in right field Vonnie
hopped into a chair and shouted, "The blessed lamb! Oh, you Georgie boy!
Watch that kid go. Look at him, Peter, he runs just like my Michael."

Michael was Vonnie's white dog, said to be a Highland terrier. When
Peter took Vonnie home to One Hundred and Sixty-eighth Street it had
become the custom for him to wait down in the street while she got
Michael and took him a turn around the block before saying good night to
Peter. Vonnie had a good deal to say about Michael from time to time,
which was calculated to embarrass Peter. "You got to get me a book for
Michael," she told Peter.

"What sort of a book?"

"Well, I guess it's called 'What a Young Dog Ought to Know.' He don't
know any of the facts about life. I can take that dog past a million
lamp-posts and ten minutes after I get him back in the flat I've got to
lick him. Maybe you could give him a little plain talk, Peter. Coming
from a man, you know, it'd carry more weight with him."

After Peter had known Vonnie for two months she did move to Two Hundred
and Forty-second Street. Peter took her out to supper a week later and
made the long journey up town. She was more subdued than usual as they
stood at the door of the apartment house. He put both hands on her
shoulders and leaned down to kiss her good night.

"Don't you like me, Peter?" she said.

"Of course I do. You know that."

"I don't want you to go away, now. I don't want you to go away tonight."

"I've got to."

"Why have you got to?"

"I think I ought to go."

"Oh, if it's just morals, forget it. There's nothing to be afraid of.
You're not in love with me and I'm not in love with you. I just like
you. And I'm lonely. They won't let me keep Michael in this place, but I
guess I can sneak you in if you don't bark as we go up the stairs."

"Maybe this'll spoil everything," said Peter. "It's been so nice and
easy and pleasant going around with you, Vonnie. If I get in love with
you something will happen to me sure. I can't stand anything like that
again. I do like you a lot. That's the trouble."

"Oh, Hell! nothing like that's going to happen. I'm a tough bird. I'll
make you a promise, Peter. The minute I see you're falling in love with
me any I'll tell you that story about the tattooed man and the girl from
Oshkosh and shock it right out of you. Don't make any noise, Peter. I've
found the janitor's a light sleeper. And don't be so awful solemn. Try
and think up something worse that could have happened to you."

Still when Vonnie kissed him again after they had tiptoed up two flights
and into her flat, Peter noticed that this time she did not laugh.



CHAPTER XV


I

Peter worried a good deal over Vonnie's predictions as to Pat's future.
The doubt which she had cast upon the feasibility of his scheme
heightened after the victrola was introduced into the flat. The man on
the floor below happened to be moving and meeting Peter in the hall one
night he struck up a bargain to sell his phonograph and all the records.
After the bargain was made and the machine duly delivered, Peter looked
over the repertoire and found it queer stuff according to his notions.
"Werther--Ah! non mi ridestar!" sung by Mattia Battistini; "Siegfried's
Funeral March;" "The Funeral March of a Marionette." It seemed morbid to
Peter. "Minuet in G, No. 2" played by Ysaye; "Lucia--il dolce suono (mad
scene)." "Merry old bird," thought Peter. "Invitation to the
Waltz--Weber." That was a tune he knew, but it could hardly be classed
as cheerful.

Peter went out and purchased a few of the latest song hits--"The
Sextette from Floradora," "Under the Shade of the Sheltering Palm," and
to his delight he found "Any Little Thing for You, Dear." Unfortunately
the phonograph company had chosen another voice instead of Vonnie's for
the record. Nevertheless, Peter bought it and some more.

Pat was now a year and a half old, but he manifested the most violent
interest in the phonograph. That pleased Peter but he did not like it
quite so well when Kate reported to him, "'Tis a queer child, Mr. Neale.
It's them red records he does be playing all the time. He wants the one
about somebody's funeral all the time. Would you believe it he cries
when I put on a nice tune for him."

The report was not exaggerated. Pat liked the song from Werther, but the
Siegfried record was his favorite, with Gounod a close second. Indeed
his passion to have his own particular favorites played and no others
seemed to be the compelling influence which brought him to language.
Almost his first articulate words were "Boom-Boom" which Peter
eventually and regretfully identified as an attempt to designate the
Siegfried Funeral March. When more words were developed The Funeral
March of a Marionette became "the other Boom-Boom."

Before Pat was quite two he could mess about in the cabinet of the
victrola and pick out a dozen records in response to Peter's request.

"Go get the red Bat," Peter would say and Pat would gravely pull out a
handful of records and return with Battistini's Werther. For that matter
he knew Floradora well enough to pick it out of the pile but he never
held it out to Peter with an imperious, "I want" as he did whenever he
got his hands on "Siegfried" or "The Funeral March of a Marionette." It
was still more thrilling, a little later, when he abandoned his
descriptive "Boom-Boom" for "Siegfried's Funeral March" and began to
call it, "Go to Bed Tired." Peter never knew just how Pat could identify
the records by looking at them. He supposed that some of the titles were
longer than others and that the child was able to bear in mind the
picture created by some certain series of signs.

But a still more shocking discovery came when Peter learned that his
tiny son could identify by sound as well as sight. Peter, for instance,
was never quite certain whether the record being played was the Mad
Scene from Lucia or the Floradora Sextette. At any rate not until it had
gone along about to "On bended knee--on bended knee." But there was no
fooling Pat. He never needed more than a few notes before he was able to
exclaim with a well justified assurance that the piece in question was
"Chi-Chi" or "Floor" as the case might be. The Weber waltz was never
played much and Pat had no name for it, but he evidently knew it well
enough for no sooner was it started than he would get up and swing
slowly from side to side. Peter finally got a hammer and broke that
record. He would have liked to pass the victrola on to somebody else but
Kate would have protested as well as Pat. Music had solved for her the
problem of what to do with Pat on rainy days. Outside of a little
cranking these once difficult experiences had now become practically
painless.

On Pat's second birthday Peter was startled to receive at the office of
the Bulletin a package directed in the handwriting of Maria Algarez.
Peter had travelled a little of the way toward forgetting Maria Algarez.
Time had done something, but Vonnie had done more. It was almost seven
months now since Peter first went to Two Hundred and Forty-second
Street. In the package he found a letter and a phonograph record. On the
disc he read "Chanson de Solveig--Maria Algarez." The letter
said--"Dear Peter--I send to your son a present for his second birthday.
I hope he will like it. Is his name Peter, too? So it should be. He will
be a fine boy I think, big and strong like his father. And make it so
that he shall grow up not to have the fear of anything and not the shame
of anything. Here for two years I have studied the English hard. You see
I write it much better. Now I have not danced for two years. First it
was because of the baby. It was not his fault. Maybe I have left the
hospital too soon. I did not want to stay longer and to die. All the
time I sing. The voice it is magnificent. Perhaps it is next season I am
to sing in the Opera Comique. For the phonograph company I have made the
one record and they say it will be more. I do not know. It is not
necessary ever for me to see your son, or for him to see me but some
time you will play for him this record. That he should hear me I want.
You need not say who it is. That does not matter. In you, Peter, there
is no song. For little Peter that should be different. Perhaps you will
say no. I do not think so. I want that he should hear my song--Maria."

There was no address. Peter played Solveig's song that Sunday. It
stirred him strangely. This was almost a tune. When the notes went high
he could not only see Maria in the room, he could almost feel her. He
was so intent with this presence that he did not watch Pat. The child
was lying on the floor. He said nothing until the last note had almost
died away. "I want the red Bat," he said.


II

Vonnie never came to the flat except on Sundays. It wouldn't do to have
Kate know anything about her. Several weeks after the arrival of Maria's
letter she happened in just as Peter was playing the Solveig song for
Pat. The child never put this particular record into his list of
imperatives, but he was reconciled to it. Perhaps interested. And Peter
felt a sort of compulsion of duty to play it every once and so often. He
had been surprised in the beginning that no miracle of recognition had
occurred in Pat's mind. To Pat she was merely a lady singing. Yet Peter
could not be sure what currents might move beneath the surface. Anyhow
it was enough for him that Maria had asked that he play the record. And
to him there was a certain instinct to play the record for his own
sake. Now that the memory was not so painful he rather wanted to keep it
alive. The thing was far enough away by now to be romantic. Peter took a
definite pride in the fact that once his heart had been broken. That
didn't happen to everybody.

His feeling about Vonnie was different. She was ever so much more fun
than Maria, but she wasn't romantic. He felt that he knew her better.
Certainly he was more assured and easy with her than he had ever been
with Maria, but she could not move him to that curious exalted
unhappiness which he had once known. People about to become monks or
missionaries must feel something of what he felt for Maria. Still, that
wasn't it exactly. Maria was that moment before you hit the water in a
chute the chutes. Living with her was like watching a baseball game with
the bases always full and two strikes on the batter. Even marriage was
no windbreak. There was never a moment in that year when he had not felt
the tang of a gale full upon him. Having an affair with Vonnie was
highly respectable in comparison. This passion was even hospitable to
little jokes. Life had become comfortable.

He did not know whether or not Vonnie realized that she and Maria were
different. They no longer talked ever of Maria Algarez. Even when she
came in upon the Solveig song Peter would have said nothing about it.

"It's Maria, isn't it?" asked Vonnie.

"Yes."

"Where did you get it?"

"She sent it to me."

"Has she come back?"

"No, it just said Paris."

"Maybe she thinks she don't need to come back. She can bean you just as
good with a phonograph record."

Peter said nothing, but let the song die out and then took the disc from
the machine.

"Here," said Vonnie, "let me see it."

Peter handed it over. Vonnie looked at it for a moment, then she moved
across the room.

"Pete," she said, "what would you do if I dropped this thing out the
window." She made a move as if to put the suggestion into execution.

"Don't do that," cried Peter.

"Don't do that," mimicked Vonnie. "You're still a damn fool, hey?"

"It's not mine. It was sent to Pat."

"Oh, yes, blame it on the kid. I don't suppose he's a nut about her,
too. Are you, Pat?"

Pat seemed to have no comprehension of the issue and made no answer.

"Look here, Pete," said Vonnie, "nobody can say I've ever been jealous.
You can be daffy about anybody you like. That's none of my business, but
I can't stand it to have you such a fool that you'll let this damn woman
slap you in the face and then come back for more. If you didn't know she
was no good in the first place you ought to know it now."

"I don't want you to say that."

"Well, what is she good for?"

"She's the greatest dancer in the world."

"Don't make me laugh."

"You know she is. You heard them cheering her that night."

"Hell to that. Everything was set for her. Somebody gets sick and on she
waltzes. Any audience'll fall for that. If Carmencita should fall down
and break her leg I could do the same thing. 'Miss Vonnie Ryan with one
hour's rehearsing will take the place of Carmencita.' It's a cinch."

"All right. You've got your opinion and I've got mine. Don't let's talk
about it."

"I'm going to talk about it. This gets settled right now. I don't have
to be first with you, Pete, or anybody else, but I'm not going to run
second to a dish-faced mutt. I've got some pride in the people that cut
me out. Either I smash that phonograph record or you and I smash."

"Give me that."

Vonnie handed it over.

"All right," she said. "I'm sorry. It was silly for me to bawl you out.
You haven't done anything to me. God knows I can't stand here and say
you seduced me. I had to get a half-nelson on you to pull you into the
flat that night. Maybe that's what makes me so sore. I put a lot of work
in on you, Pete."

"Please don't go way, Vonnie. It's silly for us to scrap over a
phonograph record."

"Everything's silly. I got to go way. I'm going to get just as far away
as I can. I'm going to get in some road company going to the Coast and
then by God, I hope we get stranded. You poor mutt, I'm in love with
you."

"Oh, please, Vonnie, don't cry. I know I'm no good. I just can't help
it about that phonograph record."

"Well, you don't suppose I'd bawl this way if I could help it. Now don't
be patting me on the back. I don't love you enough to let you, 'There!
there!' me."

She moved resolutely to the door and by the time she reached it the line
had come to her.

"I ought've known," said Vonnie, "no good could come out of taking up
with a fellow that thinks Mertes is a better outfielder than George
Browne."



CHAPTER XVI


I

Vonnie made good her threat and two weeks after the quarrel Peter
received a picture postcard of a giant redwood. The message said, "Well
Peter here I am in San Francisco--Vonnie." It was the first written
communication he had ever received from her and so he did not know
whether or not the brevity was habitual or was intended to convey a
rebuke. It seemed safe to assume the latter as Vonnie sent no address.

Peter found himself turning to Pat for companionship. Perhaps he did not
exactly turn, but was rather tugged about without will of his own. The
needs of Pat were increasingly greater and Peter was caught up into them
now that he had nothing in particular to do with his evenings. Instead
of taking Vonnie out to an early dinner before the show he helped to put
Pat to bed. It didn't seem quite virile to Peter, but it was easier than
hanging around Jack's or Joel's or the Eldorado. Of course, Pat was
supposed to be in bed long before the night life of New York had really
begun, but bit by bit he edged his time ahead until it was often eleven
or after before he fell off to sleep. The child fought against sleep as
if it were a count of ten. Never within Peter's memory did Pat express a
willingness to go to sleep, much less a desire. It was always necessary
to conduct him forcibly over the line where consciousness ceased.

Peter was swept under the tyranny of this obligation a couple of nights
after Vonnie went away. Unable to think up anything to do, he came back
to the flat a little after ten. He saw a light burning down the hall in
Pat's room and occasional entreaties and commands drifted out. Pat
wanted a drink of water and the toy alligator and the electric engine
and six freight cars. Looking at his watch Peter found that it was half
past ten. He walked into the child's room and exclaimed sternly, "What's
all this racket about?"

"He wants the funny section read to him," explained Kate, "and it's been
lost some place. I can't find it anywhere."

"That's perfect rubbish," said Peter.

"I've looked all over for it, Mr. Neale."

"That wasn't what I meant was rubbish, Kate. I'm glad you lost it. I
want you to keep on losing it. I meant it's rubbish for him to be
staying up this late and asking for things."

"Yes sir."

"Now we'll both say good night to him, Kate, and let him go to sleep."

Pat began to cry not only loudly but with a certain note of sincerity
which caught Peter's ear. "What's the matter with him now?"

"He made me promise I'd tell him a story if I couldn't find the funny
paper," said Kate.

"It's too late now and anyway if he made you do it, Kate, it isn't a
promise. It don't count."

"Yes, Mr. Neale. But it's so set he is he'll be calling me back all the
night long for me to tell him the story. It's nothing he does be
forgetting."

"All right, Kate, we'll settle that very easily. You go out and I'll
stay and he can cry his head off."

"Where'll I go, Mr. Neale?"

"I don't care, Kate. Go any place you like. It isn't eleven o'clock yet.
Where do you usually go?"

"To my sister's in Jamaica, but it's no time to be routing them out at
this hour."

"Well, let me see. I tell you, Kate, there's a moving picture theatre
down there at Fifty-ninth Street that keeps going till after one.
Here's some money. You go there and see the picture and I'll stay and
show this young man he can't get everything he cries for."

"I want to see the picture," said Pat, sitting up in bed.

"Now don't be silly. You get back there on your pillow," said Peter, "or
I'll just knock you down."

Kate rummaged around for her bonnet and finally went out. During all
this time Pat kept up a suppressed sobbing. As soon as the door slammed
behind Kate he was sufficiently rested again to begin crying full force.

"Well, what is it now?" said Peter as fiercely as he could.

Pat's utterance was muffled with tears. "I want a story."

"You heard Kate go out. If you've got any sense you know she can't tell
you a story."

"You tell me a story."

"I'm too busy. Go to sleep."

"Why are you busy?"

"Because I am. Now go to sleep."

"I don't want to go to sleep. I want you to tell me a story."

Pat commenced to cry again. He had sensed an opening.

Peter dropped his guard. "Just one story?" he asked.

Upon the instant Pat ceased crying and sat up. "Tell me about the old
beggarman and Saint Pat."

"I don't know it," said Peter. In fact he felt almost as if he had been
suddenly called upon to make a speech at a public banquet. Of course, he
had heard of Cinderella and Red Riding Hood and Aladdin and the
wonderful lamp, but he could not quite remember what any of them did.
Suddenly he remembered another source book.

"Once," he began, "there was a man named Goliath and he was the biggest
man in the world. He could beat any man in the world. And one day there
was a little man named David----."

"I'm bigger than David," interrupted Pat.

"I guess you are. He was a little bit of a man, but he wasn't afraid of
Goliath. He said, 'Ole Goliath, you talk too much. You make me sick.'
And he picked up a rock and hit Goliath and knocked him down."

"Why did he knock Goliath down?" Pat wanted to know.

"I guess he knocked Goliath down because it was Goliath's bedtime and
Goliath wouldn't go to bed."

Pat remained alert in spite of the moralizing. He gave no hint of
recognition that the end of a story had been reached. Anyhow, the
creative impulse had seized upon Peter particularly since it might be so
unblushingly combined with propaganda.

"Well," he continued, "pretty soon George Browne came out of his house
and he was the second biggest man in the world and he wouldn't go to bed
and so David picked up another great big rock and knocked him down. And
then your friend the Red Bat came out of his house and he was the next
biggest man in the world and he wouldn't go to bed and so David picked
up another rock and knocked him down."

"No, he didn't," broke in Pat.

"I'm telling this story. David hit the Red Bat with a rock and knocked
him down because he wouldn't go to bed."

"No, he didn't."

"Oh, all right then, if you know so much about it, he didn't. What did
he do?"

"He knocked David down."

Peter realized that his narrative was overburdened with propaganda and
he was artist enough to throw over some of his moralizing ballast.

"Well, this was the way it happened, Pat. David picked up a big rock and
threw it at the Red Bat, but the Red Bat was too smart for him. The Red
Bat caught the rock and threw it back at David and knocked him down.
That was it, wasn't it?"

"Yes," said Pat.

When Kate returned a little after one Peter reported, "I didn't have any
bother with him. He just went right off to sleep."


II

David and Goliath became set as a bedtime story and lasted through the
next six months almost without change. Indeed Pat resented changes.
"Once," Peter would begin, "there was a man named Goliath and he was the
biggest man in the world and he could lick any man in the world."

"Not lick," Pat would interrupt. "Beat."

"Oh, yes, he could beat any man in the world." Peter found himself
coming home for Pat's bedtime with increasing frequency. Once or twice
he tried to break away, but upon such occasions Kate reported that the
child had cried for him and had kept awake until after midnight asking
for the story of David and Goliath.

"You tell it to him," said Peter. "I think I can teach it to you. He
wants it just this way." And he repeated the accepted version.

Kate shook her head. "I'm too old a woman to be learning so many words,
Mr. Neale," she said. "And it's not a story I think Father Ryan would
like me to be telling. That's not the way the story do be going in our
Bible."

"Gosh," thought Peter to himself. "She thinks it was Martin Luther made
those changes."

Notwithstanding Goliath, Peter made a gallant attempt to break away from
his newly found responsibilities. He felt that he ought to. He felt that
in the restaurants and poolrooms there lay the sort of sporting gossip
he ought to pick up for his column. Of course, not all New York kept
Pat's hours in those days but there was something almost auto-hypnotic
in getting the child to sleep. In addition to the bedtime story, Peter
found it necessary to feign great weariness in order to suggest a
similar feeling in Pat. He would yawn prodigiously immediately after the
Red Bat had knocked down David and pretend to doze off on the foot of
Pat's bed. Presently, he would hear the boy's regular breathing and
would tiptoe out of the room. But Peter acted his rôle much too well.
After so much shamming he generally was actually tired himself and
indisposed to wander down to Jack's or any of the other places where he
might find fighters or their managers.

Indeed, he made the discovery that the material to be extracted from
these people was not inexhaustible. Like David and Goliath they had a
tendency to run into formula. "And I yell at him, don't box him; fight
him. Keep rushing him. Don't let him set. And when he comes to his
corner at the end of the third round I bawl in his ear, 'You kike so and
so, begging your pardon, Mr. Neale, if you don't get that lousy wop I'm
done with you.' And would you believe me it did him a lot of good. It
put guts in him. In the fourth we nail him with a right and we win. Now
we're going after the champ and if we ever get him into a ring we'll
lick him."

A year or so before Neale could have taken stuff like that and worked it
over into a column on "The Psychology of a Prizefight Manager." But now
all the inspiration was gone. He had heard precisely the same tale in
much the same language too many times. He was almost tempted to cry out,
"Not lick him, beat him."

Nor was there much more available color in the fighters themselves. They
were a silent crowd, most of them, particularly if they happened to have
a manager along.

Once, Peter found Dave Keyes, the Brooklyn lightweight, sitting all
alone in Jack's. He was going great guns that year and Peter thought of
him as the logical successor to the champion. They had met a couple of
times at fight clubs, but Keyes did not seem to remember Peter. He was
sober but not bright. Still, Peter felt that he might draw him out
during the course of the evening. In time Keyes began to talk freely
enough. He was even confidential but fighting seemed to be the last
thing in the world he cared to discuss.

"You see there's two dames fall for me. And the tough break is the both
of them lives on the same block. See. Well, let me tell you how I works
it. First I give Helen, that's the blonde one, a ring and then right
bang on top of that I has the call switched over to Gracie's flat----."

"Life," thought the harassed Peter Neale, "is just one bedtime story
after another."

In the Spring a long swing around the baseball training camps took Peter
away for almost two months and another month and a half went in a
fruitless journey to Juarez to wait for a fight which never happened. It
was June when Peter returned and to his horror he found that the child
had picked up theology in his absence. A storm helped the discovery. The
roll of the thunder was still a long way off when Peter called it to
Pat's attention. "We're going to have a thunderstorm," he said.

"No, we're not," answered the child. "Thunder storms only come when
you're bad."

"What's that?" asked Peter.

"A thunderstorm's God showing his ankle," explained Pat.

This did not seem a dogma altogether iron clad and yet it worried Peter.

"Thunder's got nothing to do with you're being bad," he told Pat. "If
that was it we'd have thunder all the time. Thunder's nothing to be
afraid of. It's just somebody up the sky saying 'Booh' at you for fun."

"God lives up in the sky."

"How do you know that? Did you see him?"

"Yes," said Pat stoutly.

That made the question difficult to argue.

"All right," continued Peter. "Call him God if you want to. Anyhow, when
it's thunder he's just saying 'Booh' at you and if you get scared you
haven't got any sense. Remember that's what thunder is. Just somebody
named God saying 'Booh.'"

"No, it isn't."

"Well, you tell me then."

"When it's thunder," said Pat, pointing up the street in the direction
of Central Park, "it's a big giant in the trees."

The child paused. "A blind giant," he added.

Peter stared at him and wondered whether the phrase and figure were his
own or whether he had picked them up from Kate. Later Peter took
occasion to ask her and she denied it. "God's ankle," she admitted but
only after revision. "You know, Mr. Neale, it's the way he has of
getting things twisted in his little head. You understand now it was
'God's anger' I was a telling him."

"Oh, I knew that all right, Kate. I knew he made up the ankle part of
it. But you're sure you didn't tell him anything about thunder and a
giant in the trees--a blind giant."

"No, sir."

Peter got to thinking things over and began to remember what Vonnie had
said concerning the future of Pat. He was worried. This idolatry of the
Red Bat who sang on the phonograph he didn't like. After this it would
have to be somebody else who knocked David down. Sandow Mertes maybe.
Then there was this blind giant in the trees. He didn't mind Pat's
growing up to be a poet. That would fit into the column nicely enough,
but not wild poetry. The thing had to be kept in bounds or there wasn't
any way to syndicate it. Still the next column of "Looking Them Over"
which Peter wrote contained a little poem somewhat outside his usual
manner. It was called, "The Big Blind Giant."

Three days later the syndicate manager on the Bulletin called up Peter.
"We've got six telegrams already about that poem of yours," he said.
"The one about the big blind giant running around and hitting his head
against the trees."

"What's the matter with it?" asked Peter aggressively.

"Nothing at all, Peter, they all say it's great. All but that sporting
editor of the Des Moines Register--you know him, Caleb Powers?"

"No, I don't know him. What's he say?"

"He just gives the name of the poem and then he says in his telegram,
'Don't tell me the answer, I want to guess.'"

"Five out of six is plenty," said Peter. "And say, Bill, where do you
suppose I got the idea from?"

"Where?"

"From my kid--Peter Neale, 2nd. He isn't four yet, but you see I've got
him working for the Bulletin already."



CHAPTER XVII


Pat furnished copy for Peter again within a month. Kate came in from the
Park all breathless with an account of a fight between the child and his
friend and playmate Bobby, last name not given.

"It was about an engine," explained Kate. "Bobby give it to Pat and then
he wanted to take it away again. Before we could get to them Pat hit
Bobby in the mouth so hard it made his mouth bleed. And that Bobby, him
almost six years old. And a head taller than Pat. He bled something
terrible, Mr. Neale. First I thought it was just Bobby's blood on Pat's
hand, but it kept on and when I looked closer there was all the skin off
of the knuckles of Pat. It must have been the teeth of that Bobby when
Pat hit him. I'll be putting iodine on it this very minute if you'll
watch till I get back, Mr. Neale."

"Put down that engine and come here, Pat," said Peter.

"I can't hear you."

"Yes, you can. I said put down that engine. Nobody's going to take it
away from you. Not just now, anyway. It's not yours but I suppose you've
won it. Come here, I want to see your hand."

Very reluctantly Pat placed the engine on the sofa and advanced slowly.

"It's all red," he said.

Peter took off the handkerchief. "Nonsense," he said, "you haven't more
than scratched it."

He was about to dismiss the matter from his mind and start for the
office when he noticed something he'd overlooked. "Kate, Kate," cried
Peter in great excitement, "this hand that Pat cut hitting that boy is
his left hand."

"Yes, 'tis his left hand he'd be using all the time when I'm not
noticing him," said Kate, returning with the iodine. "That's where the
strength is. It'll be hard to teach him out of it."

"I don't want him taught out of it, Kate. Don't you ever try to stop
him. It's bad to try to change children around. Anyway I don't want him
changed. This is fine for him. When he grows up and plays baseball he'll
be two steps nearer first base and besides the swing will throw him into
his stride. Maybe you don't know what I'm talking about, Kate, but
remember I want him to stay a left-hander."

Peter went down to the office and wrote, "There seems to be no shadow of
doubt from which hope can spring--I am the father of a southpaw." He
nursed the theme and the incident along for almost a column, and there
were other by-products of comfort. In the City Room Peter ran into Deane
Taylor, the venerable music critic of the Bulletin.

"Mr. Taylor," he asked, "did you ever see a left-handed violin player?"

"No, Peter," said the old man, "there's no such thing. Of course there
might be left-handed piano players, but certainly all the fiddlers and
all the conductors are right-handed. Come to think of it, I don't know
any left-handed musicians at all. But if you're writing something about
that you better ask somebody else. I might be wrong. You see I've never
gone into music from that angle."

"No," replied Peter, "this is just something I'm interested in
personally. Your impression's good enough for me. You don't have to
prove it. Thank you very much."

Peter went away greatly pleased. "There's one of Vonnie's guesses gone
wrong anyhow," he said.

From his observations of professional baseball, Peter had worked out the
theory that lefthanders were more difficult to handle than anybody else.
There was Rube Waddell for instance. Peter had seen him call the
outfielders in for the ninth inning and retire the side with only an
infield behind him. And everybody knew about the way Rube used to
disappear every now and then during the middle of a season and go
fishing. Only the day before he had had a Rube Waddell story in his
column. It was about Rube and the animal crackers. The man who told
Peter said the story came straight from Connie Mack and that there was
no doubt about its being true. Ollie Shreck, Rube's regular catcher,
wouldn't sign a contract one season. When they asked him the trouble he
said, "They always put me in to room with Rube on the road. Maybe they
think I understand him after catching him so much. Well, Mr. Mack, I
won't sign no contract unless you put in a clause that Rube can't eat
animal crackers in our bed."

Pat lived up to most of Peter's theories about southpaws. Before the
child had quite turned four Peter discovered that Kate had no control
over him. She had given him a little theology but no discipline. The
facts came out through her complaint that Pat wouldn't eat any of the
things which he was supposed to eat. A doctor called in to attend a
passing cold had remained to suggest a diet. He was horrified to learn
that Kate had allowed the child to eat meat two or three times a day,
with the exception of Friday, just as she did.

"Your child is just about one ton behind in spinach," said Dr. Whiting
to Peter. "He's got to catch up, but there won't be any particular
trouble about that. He's pretty sure to like spinach. All children do.
And I want him to have more milk."

Peter found upon inquiry that Pat had never known spinach. "I don't like
it," explained Kate.

"Well, he's got to have a lot of it," said Peter. "I want you to start
right in today."

The report next morning was unsatisfactory. "How did the spinach go?"
asked Peter. "He wouldn't eat any of it," answered Kate. "He said he
didn't like it."

"How could he tell he didn't like it if he didn't eat any," objected
Peter sharply.

"I don't know. But he said he didn't like it. He threw the plate on the
floor."

"How about the milk?"

"He wouldn't drink any."

"Didn't you tell him that he had to."

"I did that, Mr. Neale. I told him God wouldn't love him if he didn't
eat his nice spinach and that, begging your pardon, sir, you'd cry."

"Today," said Peter with a certain magnificence, "I'll stay home and eat
lunch with him myself. And for lunch we'll have just spinach and milk."

"Well, well," said Peter, with great gusto as lunch was served, "isn't
this fine--milk and spinach. Kate, how did you know just what we
wanted?"

"I don't want any lunch," said Pat.

"No spinach?"

Pat did not deign a reply.

"What do you want?"

"I want crackerjack and ice cream."

"Spinach is what you're going to get."

Pat began to cry, but Peter found that it was only a sign of rage and
not of weakness. The child's refusal remained steadfast. Finally, Peter
spanked him for the first time in his life. It was not a success. Pat
cried a lot more but he ate no spinach. Press of other work kept Peter
from pursuing the problem for three days, during which time the child
reverted to his old diet. In a second personally conducted test, Peter
Neale managed to induce Pat both to drink milk and eat spinach, but it
was not exactly a triumph. The result was gained by strategy, which was
ingenious but also abject. Moreover, it was almost wholly accidental.
Driven desperate by an unyielding stubbornness, Peter at length lost his
temper and shouted at the child. "All right then, don't eat any spinach.
I won't let you eat any spinach."

Pat scowled and, reaching all the way across the table, helped himself
to a large spoonful. "I'm eating spinach," he said, "I'm eating it right
now."

The only thing of which Peter had a right to boast was that he did not
allow any false pride to stand between him and the object which he
sought. He was quick to seize his opportunity. Pat's seeming free will
was harnessed to serve the predetermined purposes of an ego less
powerful but more unscrupulous.

"Maybe you are eating a little spinach," said Peter, "but I guess you
won't dare take any milk when I tell you not to."

Pat fell into the trap. "Look at me now, Peter, I'm drinking it all
up."

Once he learned the method Peter became a strict disciplinarian. Almost
invariably Pat disobeyed with alacrity when he heard the stalwart and
ringing command, "Now, Pat, I don't want you to go to bed and I don't
want you to go this very minute." Of course the thing became a little
complicated. Even after much practice Peter used to get somewhat mixed
up over such instructions as, "No, the nightgown I don't want you to
wear is the one over there."

The eating problem was subjected to still further complexities. Peter
was shrewd enough to realize that the scheme of indirect discourse might
become strained beyond all usefulness if employed too much. Pat
conformed and yet it became evident at length that he saw through the
trickery. On his fifth birthday, for instance, at his party he made no
rush for the ice cream which was placed before him but looked up
plaintively and said, "Peter, why don't you tell me not to eat my ice
cream."

Accordingly, other games were invented. The milk race proved generally
useful but rules had to be devised to prevent Pat from going too fast.
Eventually the contest was introduced by Peter as "a slow milk race." In
order to prevent Pat from choking to death he would cry every now and
then "Measure!" At that signal both would lower their glasses and set
one against the other on the table. Pat took over the announcing of
these results. He used only one decision--"I'm ahead"--and this bore no
accurate relation to the actual quantity of milk in the two glasses.

As a matter of fact, the milk race never was a very sporting
proposition. Pat always won and as the practice continued he began to
demand new guarantees of success. "You mustn't start till I'm through,
Peter," he would say. "I want to win." Peter also hit upon the device of
serving Pat with nothing but "special milk." His own came out of the
same bottle but had no title. Nobody but Pat was supposed under any
circumstances to be allowed to touch "special milk." The story,
circulated by Peter, was that the cow wouldn't like it.

Another incentive to appetite was playing burglar. This game was also
one of Peter's inventions, but Pat eventually became the aggressor. "You
must be asleep," he would say, "and I must be a burglar and come along
and steal some of your spinach. Shut your eyes."

Even years afterward Peter could never look at spinach without blinking.

Kate was not very apt at any of the eating games and the result was that
Peter found himself more bound to the flat than ever. Now he seldom got
down to the office except during the hours between lunch and dinner. The
feeding and more particularly, the urging of Pat came to be almost a
regular duty. Peter was never quite sure whether he liked or hated these
activities. Although they were confining and arduous he got an
undeniable satisfaction out of them. He was succeeding with something a
good deal more personal than a syndicate. He was succeeding where Kate,
the mother of five or six, had failed.

"Maybe women are all right for children when they get a little older,"
was the way Peter expressed it to himself, "but they haven't imagination
enough to handle a little one like Pat. That's a man's job."



CHAPTER XVIII


Pat was six years old when he saw his first ball game up at the old hill
top park of the New York Yankees who were then the Highlanders. The Red
Sox were the visiting team.

"That's Sea Lion Harry Hall," said Peter, pointing to a man in a gray
uniform who was throwing the ball. Pat tried to follow the direction in
which Peter pointed.

"I don't see no sea lion," he complained.

"Right over there," replied Peter, "the pitcher. Don't you see the man
that's throwing the ball. That's his name, Sea Lion Harry Hall."

Pat was enormously disappointed. He had thought that maybe it was some
sort of circus which they were going to see in this great open park. The
sea lion had sounded like a promise of elephants to come. He tried to
beat back his grief, but presently tears rolled out of his eyes. The
best he could do was to make no sound. Eventually Peter noticed the damp
tracks across his face.

"What are you crying about?" he asked in surprise.

"You said it was a sea lion," sobbed Pat, "and it isn't any sea lion."

"Oh, that's it. Don't you understand: his name's Sea Lion. Just as they
call you Pat."

"Why do they call him a Sea Lion?"

"Well," said Peter, "to tell the truth I don't know exactly. It's just
one of those things. I've been writing about Sea Lion Harry Hall a
couple of years and now I never stopped to think up any reason for it.
It was smart of you to ask me, Pat. That's right. Don't you go taking in
things people tell you without asking why. That's the first thing a
newspaperman ought to learn. You just wait here a minute and I'll go and
find out why they call him Sea Lion Harry Hall."

Peter went over to the wire screen which ran in front of the press box
and called to a short little man who was sitting on his heels and
balancing himself with his bat which he had dug into the ground. The
player straightened up and came over. Peter conversed earnestly with him
for a moment. Then he came back. "Now," he said, "I know all about it.
Kid Elberfeld--that was Kid Elberfeld I was talking to--he says they
call him Sea Lion Harry Hall because he roars so--just like a sea lion."

For the next half hour Pat abandoned all thought of the game. Peter
rattled off words and the meaning of them. There were hits and errors
and flies and grounders. Once everybody in the park shouted and stood up
and Peter said it was a home run, but Pat gave very little heed to this.
He paid no more attention to the rooting than if it had been Peter
talking to him. It was another sound for which he was waiting. He
couldn't be burdened with learning about hits and errors or even the
thing called a home run. What he wanted was to hear Sea Lion Harry Hall
roar like a sea lion. For hours Pat heard nothing. The man just did his
exercises and threw the ball. Then something happened which made him
mad. He threw the ball and after it was thrown he walked straight up to
a man in blue who had on a false face. And he talked at him. Very loud
and hoarse he said, "Jesus, Tim, call 'em right."

"There goes the Sea Lion," said Peter who had been busy with something
else and had caught no more than the rumble. "Didn't that sound just
like a sea lion?"

Pat scorned to cry. He did not even bother to say "No." By now he knew
that the baseball park was the land of disappointment. It was a place
where things were cried up with words which were not so. Peter had said
he would roar like a sea lion. And he didn't. He was just a man who said
"Jesustim" pretty loud.

Pat heard a seal lion once. "Jesustim" didn't sound anything like a sea
lion.

Interesting inquiry might have centred around "Too hot to handle" if
Peter had used it earlier in the day, but by the time it came Pat knew
that it was just a grown up way of talking big. When Peter said, "That's
Birdie Cree," Pat did not look or even ask any questions. He knew there
was not a birdie.

Only one romantic concept came to Pat from the game.

"That's Tris Speaker, that kid in centre field," said Peter.

Of course, Pat knew that he really wouldn't be a kid. It didn't surprise
him to find that Tris was a man but he was quite a lot different from
pretty nearly all the other grown-ups that Pat had ever seen. They
didn't run like Tris. Probably they couldn't. The other men in this
baseball park ran, but Tris was the fastest. But it wasn't just looking
at him that Pat liked. He said the name over to himself several times.
"Tris Speaker, Tris Speaker." There was fun in the sound of it. Not
quite enough for a whole afternoon, to be sure. This was a park without
sandpiles or a merry-go-round. And there were no policemen to make
everybody keep off the grass. Pat wished they would.

"I want to go home," he said at last.

"Tired already?" asked Peter. "Well, there's only half an inning more.
It wasn't much of a game, was it? Too one-sided. But we're not going
home right off. I've got to go straight to the office and I'm going to
take you with me."

In another ten minutes the game was over. "You didn't like it, did you?"
asked Peter. The formula nettled Pat.

"Yes, I did," he said.

After a long trip in the subway they came to the big building where
Peter worked. Pat had never been there before. At the end of a long
corridor was a small office and Peter opened the door and went in. "I've
got to write the paper," he said. "You keep quiet till I'm done. Here's
the funny section for you."

Upon examination Pat found that it was last Sunday's pictures. He had
already seen the one about how the kids put dynamite in the Captain's
high hat. Still he followed the adventure again. When Kate read it to
him on Sunday it had made him a little sad. It seemed to him that it
must have hurt the Captain when Maude, the mule, kicked him in the head.
Now he found a new significance in the last picture. Maude and the
Captain were floating in the air high above the roof. Coming out of the
Captain's mouth were marks like this, "!----!!!" And yet it must be
pleasant to go floating away in the sky like that. Pat looked out of the
window and he could see the river and the great bridge. He would like to
have a high hat and some dynamite and a mule. Then he could float
through the window like Davey and the Goblin. That would be better than
sitting there in the little office so quietly while Peter pounded the
keys of his typewriter. Peter kept taking sheets of paper out of it and
tearing them up.

"Whatch you doing?" Pat asked when he could keep silent no longer.

"Hush," said Peter very sternly, "you mustn't ask questions now. I'm
doing a story for the Bulletin. That's very important, I must do it
right away."

"Why?"

"Well, pretty soon they're going to put the paper to bed." Pat knew that
must be some sort of joke. Papers didn't go to bed. They didn't have any
pajamas or nightgowns.

Somebody knocked at the door and before Peter could say anything Charlie
Hall came in. "Is that your kid?" he asked.

"Yes," said Peter, "He's my son. Say hello to Charlie Hall, Pat."

"Well, what's your name?" said Hall just as if he was very much
interested.

"My name's Pat."

"Tell him your big name," prompted Peter. "Go ahead."

"Peter Neale, second."

"I suppose you'll be down here doing baseball yourself pretty soon now
that you're getting to be such a big boy," said Hall.

Pat picked up the funny paper again and pretended to become engrossed in
it. Charlie Hall was diverted back to the first of the Peter Neales.

"I guess he's a little older than my youngest," he said. "Let me see,
Joe--no, that's not the one I mean--Bill must be about four or five now.
Just around there."

"Pat's older than that. He was six a couple of days ago."

"Getting pretty near time to begin figuring what to do with him."

"I know that already," said Peter, "he's going to be a newspaper man.
He's going to be 'by Peter Neale'."

"I'd drown mine, all six of 'em, before I'd let 'em go into the
newspaper business."

"What's the matter with it?"

"It don't get you any place. Now if I was in business I'd be just
getting ready to be a president of the company or something. And as it
is I'm just an old man around the shop. Forty-two my last birthday. In a
couple of years more I'll be on the copy desk."

"That's mostly bunk, Charlie. But even if it was so, haven't you had a
lot of fun?"

"What do you mean, fun?"

"Going out where things are happening and writing pieces and seeing them
in the paper the next day. Just writing a baseball story seems sort of
exciting to me."

"Hell," said Charlie, "they're all faked, those baseball games. I
wouldn't go across the street to see one."

He paused, but went on again before Peter could protest.

"It's a funny thing, but the longer you stay in newspaper work the more
it gets to seem as if everything's faked. After a while you find out
that all the murders are just alike. Somebody sleeps with somebody and
somebody else don't like it and then you have what we call a 'mystery'
and we get all steamed up about it. Railroad accidents--the engineer
disregarded the signal--fires--somebody dropped a cigarette in a pile of
waste. My God, Pete, there's only about ten things can happen any place
in the world and then they must go on repeating themselves over and
over."

Peter rushed in pellmell. "But don't you see, Charlie. It's the writing
about them makes them different. A piano player might as well say, 'I
haven't got anything but the same notes.'"

"Well," said Charlie, "I'd drown all five of them if they wanted to be
piano players. Maybe there is some fun in writing. I don't know
anything about that. But if a man wants to write why put it down some
place where it's going to be swept up by the street cleaner the next
day. At eleven o'clock tomorrow morning all that stuff you were writing
before I came in will be dead and rotten. It'll have to make room for
the home edition and on top of that'll come another. And so on all day
long. Writing for a newspaper's like spitting in Niagara Falls. Anybody
that can write ought to get on a magazine and do something that'll last
anyway from breakfast to dinner time."

"It's no good for me," said Peter. "I've written for magazines a
little--just sport stuff, you know. You do something and maybe you like
it, but that's the last you hear about it for a month. By the time it
comes out you've forgotten all about it and maybe by that time it isn't
true anyway. It's like writing for posterity."

"All right," said Charlie, "go on with your story. If you make it a good
one maybe there'll be somebody around the office'll remember it clear
into next week."

Left alone, Peter proceeded at a furious rate. Even Pat was frightened
out of interrupting by the beat and pace of the noise which came from
the typewriter. If there had been a steam whistle it would have sounded
a good deal like a locomotive. Soon Peter called a copy boy and gave him
the pages. It had grown almost dark now, but he did not switch on the
electric light immediately. From the next room came the clicking sound
of telegraph keys.

"Do you hear that," said Peter. "That's magic. Some place there's a war,
or a king's just died, or maybe he's only sick and those clicks are
telling us about it."

"Did he eat too much ice cream and cake?" asked Pat.

"I don't know. I can't tell till somebody writes it down. You have to
make _a b c's_ out of it before anybody except just the man in the
room understands about it."

"Come here," said Peter, suddenly getting up from his chair, "you sit
down there, Pat."

"I don't want to," said Pat.

"All right, I won't let you sit in my chair."

Pat got up and took the seat.

"Now," said Peter earnestly, "I don't want you to grow up to be a
newspaper man, and I don't want you to come into this office after I'm
gone."

He put his arm around Pat's shoulder and drew him close. Then he took
the boy's hand, the left one, and moved it forward near the typewriter.

"This is the desk," said Peter, "that I don't want you to use."



Book II



CHAPTER I


Peter was coming back to America. He had been through the war and then
the peace and he was very tired. The tension of it all was still upon
him. Even though he lay back in his steamer chair and looked over the
rail at a wide and peaceful ocean the jangle within him continued. For
him there was no friendship in the sea. Probably there never would be
any more. He had come to hate it that afternoon on the Espagne when they
ran from the submarine. That was almost four years ago, but Peter had
not forgotten. He had been playing poker in the card-room when the
little gun on the forward deck went "bang!" The man across the table had
his whole stack of chips in his hand. He was just about to say, "I'll
raise you, Neale." And then he said nothing. He just sat there holding
the chips and grinning. Some of them trickled out of his hands and a
yellow one fell on the floor. The man stooped down and rummaged for it
under his chair. Yellow chips represented five dollars. Peter couldn't
stand the comedy of it. His capacity for irony was limited.

"Don't do that," he said sharply. "Maybe it's going to sink us. Come on.
We can look for the chips afterwards."

Still the man didn't come. His right hand was trembling but he held on
to the cards.

"Oh," said Peter, "you win if that's what you're waiting for. For God's
sake, come on."

Peter didn't have the courage to be the first man out of the
smoking-room. He walked slowly enough to let two players pass him. Going
to his room he found a life preserver and put it on clumsily. Outside in
the hall a very white-faced steward was saying over and over again,
"There is no danger. There is no danger." Coming out on deck a passenger
almost ran into Peter. He was dashing up and down the deck shouting,
"Don't get excited." Peter saw his poker friend standing beside the rail
and took his place alongside him.

"There she is," said the man, pointing to a thing about a mile away
which looked like a stray beanpole thrust into the ocean. "It's the
periscope," he explained. The gun on the Espagne went "bang!" once
more.

"If we don't get her, she'll get us, won't she?" asked Peter.

The man nodded. The beanpole disappeared. "She'll come up some other
place," he told Peter.

They both stared at the ocean, looking for the sprouting of the weed.
Peter kept silent for at least two minutes. He held on to the rail
because his right leg was shaking. The man must not know that he was
afraid.

"What did you have?" asked Peter. "What did you have?" he repeated.

"How's that?"

"A minute ago when I dropped. What did you have?"

"A king high flush."

Peter was just about to confess his full house, but thought better of
it. "I guess the submarine didn't hurt me any," he said. "Mine was only
aces and eights."

His companion turned and looked at him. He was a little white, too.
There was a growing horror in his face. Peter wondered and then realized
the reason for the curious look. Somehow it cheered him enormously to
find terror in another. The man had shamed him by sticking to the card
room and looking for the yellow chip. Now Peter could pay him back.
Even the huskiness was gone from his voice. "Yes," he said slowly, "aces
and eights. That was queer, wasn't it? The dead man's hand."

The beanpole never did come up again and now in the year 1919 there
would be none in this pleasant glassy ocean and yet Peter couldn't look
at it very long without seeing black stakes rise up against him. In the
twenty minutes of watching which followed the remark about aces and
eights Peter planted firmly and deeply in himself another abiding fear.
He wondered idly now whether the man who stood with him, the name was
Bentwick, would ever enjoy ocean travel again.

Peter found that it was not physically possible to be afraid of
everything which he encountered in the war. Everybody had his pet fear.
Peter specialized on submarines, which was convenient since, after
arriving in France, he saw nothing more of warfare on the water. He
never liked shells, particularly the big ones, airplanes or machine guns
and yet he could stand them well enough to do his work. Before going he
had assumed that he would be unable to endure the strain of getting
under fire. Indeed he told Miles, "You mustn't expect a lot of stuff
from me about how things look in a front line trench."

Miles had said, "All right. Give us the news and we won't kick."

The news had been enough to take Peter into hell and keep him there.
Miles had been smart. Dying for his country might very likely have been
an insufficient ideal for Peter, but there never was any place he
refused to go to get a story for the Bulletin. He never knew why. There
wasn't any person on the Bulletin whom Peter idolized. The owner lived
in Arizona and Peter had never seen him. The paper itself was a person.
That was what Miles had seemed to say that afternoon in the office when
he asked Peter to go over as a war correspondent. "I think you ought to
go for the paper," he said. First, of course, he teetered back and forth
on his chair three times. "Sport don't look so important now," he began.
"This thing is much bigger than baseball. It's going to get bigger. The
syndicate's selling you to one hundred and ten papers now but that
doesn't make any difference, Neale. There's no good waiting for the
bottom to drop out of a thing. We've got to beat 'em to it."

"I don't know anything about war," suggested Peter.

"We don't want war stuff. I wouldn't give a damn for the regular war
correspondent stuff. You can humanize all that. You've got a light
touch. Some of this is going to be funny. Most of the papers are
overlooking that. And mark my words, by and by we're going to get in
it."

"Maybe it won't be so funny then," said Peter.

Miles paid no attention. "Don't you see the big start you'll have if
you're already over there when America comes in. You'll have the hang of
the thing. You'll know a lot more about it than most of the generals.
You'll be on the spot to jump right into it."

Miles did not foresee that by the time America came into the war there
wouldn't be much jump left in Peter. Blood and, more than that, a
desperate boredom fell upon the light touch. Almost all of Peter's
romantic enthusiasm was spent in his first two years on the fighting
line of the English and the French. The American war correspondents used
to tell with wonder and amusement of the afternoon upon which Peter
started off to join the American army with the other correspondents.
They just filled the compartment, but a minute before the train left
the Gare du Nord, a Y. M. C. A. man who had reserved his seat bustled
in. He picked out Peter and slapped him on the back. "I'm very sorry,
old scout," he said, "but you've got my seat."

Peter got up. "You can have the seat, you son of a----," he answered,
"but don't you 'old scout' me."

Whatever romantic feeling might have been left in Peter about America
and the war broke on the military bearing of John J. Pershing. Peter was
with him the day he inspected the newly arrived First Division. Aides
and war correspondents without number trailed at his heels. They
followed him into a stable which had been transformed into a company
kitchen. Just inside the door stood a youngster only a year or so older
than Pat. He was peeling potatoes but when the General entered he
dropped his work and stood at attention. Pershing went on to the far end
of the stable and, as he passed by, the boy who had never seen the
commander-in-chief of all the American expeditionary forces, stole just
a fleeting look over his shoulder. Pershing saw him and strode back,
followed by all the war correspondents and his aides.

"What's the matter with you?" he shouted at the boy. "You don't know
the first thing about being a soldier." Turning to a lieutenant he said,
"Take this man out and make him stand at attention for two hours." Not
even the dead men upon the wire ever moved Peter to the same violent
revulsion against the war. Nor did he have a chance to write it out of
himself. His cable dispatch which began, "They will never call him Papa
Pershing," did not get by the censors.

Censorship was among the horrors of war which Peter never thought of as
he stood in the office of Miles. He was a little hesitant about
accepting the assignment and the managing editor misunderstood him
somewhat.

"You'll find your war stuff will sell in time just as well as sports,"
he said.

"I've got enough money, almost enough," Peter told him. "I don't know
what to do about Pat, that's my son. He's here in school. He's fourteen.
There isn't a soul to look after him."

"Yes," said Miles, "that makes it hard. I tell you what I'll do. Will
you let him come and live with me and Mrs. Miles? Next year he can go to
boarding-school. This thing can't last forever. You'll be back in a
little while."

"Well," said Peter, "that's nice of you but I don't know how it'll work
out."

"What are you planning for the boy?"

"Why, I've always figured that as soon as he got old enough I'd try to
get him on the paper. I want him to be a newspaper man."

Miles broke in so eagerly that he even neglected to do his three
preliminary tilts. "That's fine. Don't you see how that all fits in? You
go to France for us and I'll promise you a job for the boy on the
Bulletin. You won't have to just think about it. The thing's done. He's
nominated for the Bulletin right now. And you can start him off the
minute you think he's old enough. Don't fret about that. I'll give him
an ear full of shop. Is it a bargain?"

"All right," said Peter, "I'll go over for the paper for a little
while."

The little while lasted almost five years.



CHAPTER II


It was a June night in the fourth year of the war when Peter saw Maria
Algarez. He was walking up the Avenue de l'Opera when a woman cut across
in front of him, turning into a side street. The street was crowded with
soldiers and women, sauntering and peering, but this woman was walking
fast. She almost bumped into Peter. They were under a shaded light which
fell on her face as she looked up. Peter looked at her without much
curiosity. He did not want to invite friendliness. Hospitality had been
hurled at him all the way down the avenue. He knew instantly that it was
Maria. When she left him she had seemed a child. After seventeen years
there was the same youthful quality in her face. The only change was, it
was much more tired. And there was paint.

"Hello," said Peter.

Maria smiled at him without obvious recognition, but made no answer.

"I'm Peter Neale."

Maria's smile grew broader. "I thought I have made a conquest," she
said, "and it is a husband."

She held out her hand. Peter took it, but his eager surprise at seeing
her was chilled by a sudden thought.

"You're not--," he said, but he could not phrase it. He tried again.
"You're not walking here alone?"

Maria's smile became a laugh. "And what then?" she asked.

"Good God!" said Peter in horror. And then almost to himself, "And it
might have been any other soldier on the avenue."

"There, there," said Maria, checking her laughter and patting him on the
arm. "It is not right for me to laugh at you. I should not forget to
remember that you are the worrier. You think that maybe it is my living
to walk in L'avenue de L'Opera and to look for the good-looking soldier.
It should please that it is you I have selected, Peter. But no, there,
it is not so. Come with me. My car it is around the corner. Do not let
us stand here where maybe you will be compromised. We will drive to my
studio. There we can talk."

Peter followed Maria around the corner where a limousine was waiting and
got in.

"How do you manage to have a car in war time?" he asked.

"It is because I am the important person. Yes, that is true. You have
not heard of me, Peter? Really? That is so extraordinary. You do not
know that I am the singer?"

"Well," said Peter, "of course I heard that phonograph record you sent
for Pat but that was fifteen years ago. I never heard from you again.
Sometimes I went to the shops and asked if they had records of Maria
Algarez but none of them had ever heard of you."

"Pooh," said Maria, "in America you do not know anything. But here in
Paris do you never hear anybody speak of Maria Algarez?"

Peter shook his head. "I've been with the American army almost all the
time. What would I know if I had heard? What do they say about you?"

"Maybe it is better that I should say it myself," answered Maria. "The
others might not make it enough. When I send the phonograph record so
long ago I say in my letter to you 'the voice is magnificent.' That is
true. It is much more than that. Peter, sometimes it makes me sad that I
cannot sit off a little way and hear the voice. The phonograph, it is
not the same thing. That is the pity of it, I alone of everybody in
Europe cannot truly hear Maria Algarez sing. It has been the great voice
in the world. It is still the great voice."

"Oh," said Peter, "and that is what anybody would have told me if I
asked."

Maria shook her head. "People, they are not so smart. You remember when
I was a dancer they did not know about me all that you and I, we knew.
It is the same now. They do not know. A little, yes, but not all."

"But they realize it enough to give you a job, don't they?"

"The job, pooh! Yes, the job. First I sing in Comique. I sing in Russia
and Spain and for the seven, eight years I am the leading soprano of the
Paris opera house. Where is it that you hide yourself that all this you
do not know?"

"In mud in Flanders, I guess."

"Yes, it is not your fault. The war, it is so loud in all the world
there is no other noise. That is why I go away. I have the contract to
sing in Argentine."

The limousine drew up in front of an apartment and Maria took Peter up
to a studio on the top floor. They went into a big room with one great
window of glass covering an entire wall. Through it Peter could see the
defense of Paris aviators moving across the skyline like high riding
fireflies.

"It's a nice place for air raids," suggested Peter.

"The Boche--the German--he comes sometime but I am not afraid. You know,
Peter, now I know that there is the God. It is something. I cannot tell
you just what. But he is smart. When the others did not know about the
voice it was that I remembered. He would know. If there was nobody else
he would be smart enough. He is not silly. Nothing can happen to Maria
Algarez."

"Gosh," said Peter, abashed and puzzled by this outburst, "I hope he
feels the same way about me. Most of the last three years I've been
needing him more than you do."

Maria's rapt expression faded. "I am the pig. All the time I talk about
myself. And you, you, Peter, what is it you do? You are the officer,
that I know, but captain, colonel, general that I do not know."

"I see I've got a kick coming, too. Where have you been hiding? I'm not
an officer. I'm a war correspondent. If you can say it I guess I can.
Any way I will. I'm the best war correspondent in the world," Peter
grinned. "That's not such a joke either. Maybe I am. Didn't you ever
hear of my book--'Lafayette, Nous Voila?' All the rest of it's English.
It means 'Lafayette, We're Here.' I forgot you'd know that. They've sold
seventy-five thousand copies. Didn't you ever hear of it?"

"No, I have not heard. I think you are still the newspaper man."

"Well, a war correspondent's a sort of a newspaper man, only more so.
I'm still on the Bulletin. That was my paper years ago when--when we
knew each other."

Maria was almost startled. "The boy," she said suddenly. "Your boy, how
is he? He is well? He is big? What is it that you call him?"

"Yes," said Peter, "bigger than I know, I guess. I haven't seen him for
almost three years. His name is Peter Neale, Jr."

"But you hear from him? He writes? What is it he says?"

"Well, as a matter of fact I just got a letter from him today. There
isn't anything much in it. I don't know whether you'd be interested.
It's just about stuff he's doing in school."

"Yes, I want to know what it is he learns. Here, let me see?"

Peter fumbled in his pocket and found Pat's letter.

"Maybe I'd better read it you. Handwriting is one of the things they
haven't taught him. I don't believe you could make out his writing."

He picked up the letter and began, "'Dear Peter---- '

"'Peter,' it is so he calls you?"

"Yes 'father' sounds terribly formal to me and I don't want to be 'pop'
or 'dad' or anything like that. 'Peter' seems closer. Before this war
Pat and I were pretty chummy."

Maria settled back and Peter went on with the letter.

"'Perhaps, I didn't tell you about my joining the fraternity here last
month. It's called Alpha Kappa Phi. The letters stand for Greek words
which are secret and mean friends and brothers or maybe it's brothers
and friends. And of course the initiation is secret, but I guess it
won't be any harm if I tell you about it. I had to report at the
fraternity house in the afternoon and they took me down in the cellar
and put me in a coffin. It wasn't really a coffin, but a big packing
case but we tell the fellows that come in that it's a coffin and that
scares the life out of some of them. I wasn't scared any, but it got
pretty tiresome lying around all afternoon. In the evening they took me
out and told me they were going to put the initials of the fraternity on
my chest. They pretended to be heating up an iron. There was a long
speech which went with this and it is quite beautiful. While they were
pretending to heat up the irons they burned something, meat I guess, and
it made an awful smell. They did make me a little nervous but when they
got around to cutting the initials in my chest it was just an electric
battery they had and they ran the current over my chest. It hurt a
little, but I knew they weren't really cutting initials and so I didn't
mind. After that they took a chemical called lunar caustic and traced
out Alpha Kappa Phi on my chest. It didn't do anything just then, but
the next day it turned all black. Every time I took a shower in the gym
all the younger kids stared at me. One asked me what I got on my chest
and I said maybe I fell down in some mud. After I was branded they took
me up some stairs and down some more. I was still blindfolded, you know.
They said to me, "You must jump the last fifteen steps." Well, I jumped
and it was just one step and it nearly ruined me. Then there were some
more things like having to stand on your head and sing the first verse
of the school song. They helped you a little by holding up your feet.
And you had to get down on the floor and scramble like an egg. Then
there was something very impressive. They took the bandage off and I was
standing just in front of a skull. A man all in white read out about the
secrets of the society. It was quite beautiful but I can't remember
enough to tell you. Just when he came where it said what would happen to
any neophyte who divulged aught on the sacred scroll of Alpha Kappa Phi,
a great big tongue of flame shot out of the mouth of the skull. They do
it by pinching the end of a piece of gas pipe and putting it in the
mouth of the skull and when you turn on the gas the thing shoots out.
That was about all except all of us being stood up against a wall and
hitting us in the tail with tennis balls. Of course there was supper
finally and I shook hands with all the brothers and they said most of
them get scared a lot more than I did. We've put in a couple of lots
since I got in and I certainly got square with them for what they did to
me. I suppose you read in the paper about my kicking a goal from the
thirty-three yard line and winning the game from the Columbia
freshmen.'"

There was a good deal more about the game, almost a complete play by
play account, but Peter, peeking over the edge of the letter saw that
Maria was yawning. He just put in a "With love--Pat," and stopped in the
middle of a paragraph.

"He is nice. I think he is like you," she said. "How old is he, Peter?"

"Just about seventeen."

"Like you he will be the writer for the Bulletin? Is it so that you want
it?"

"Yes, I've set my heart on that."

"It is good. He knows about the baseball that you know and all your
sport. Is he big too like you, Peter?"

"I guess he must be by now. He sent me a picture. It's an enlargement
of a snapshot. Just a head like one of these motion picture closeups."

Maria held out her hand casually. "Let me see."

She took the picture under a lamp and looked closely. For a full minute
or more Maria held the picture and stared at it. She said nothing, but
Peter was conscious in some way that the casual mood had gone. He could
tell that she was enormously moved. He did not even dare break in upon
her silence. Still looking at the picture Maria whispered, "He is my
son. It is my nose. It is my nose exactly."

"Yes," said Peter, in a matter of fact way, "there is quite a
resemblance."

Maria waved her left hand impatiently. "No, no, it is not a resemblance.
The rest does not look alike. It is the nose. That is not a resemblance.
It is the same. It is my nose. Here you see," she slapped the bridge of
her nose violently, "so it would be if the bone it had been broken. You
see in the picture of my son it is the break. The same. The hook in the
nose. But it is not broken. Never it has not been?"

"Why, no," said Peter, "his nose has always been like that."

"Yes, yes, it is from me he has it. Yes, and from the God. Do you not
know why it is the break in the nose?"

"Well, he's got to have some kind of a nose I suppose."

"But this kind, Peter, it is for just one thing. It marks him like those
foolish letters on his chest in the letter. You cannot read the marking.
I can read it for you. It says singer, singer, singer. It must be. The
singing nose it is always so. Sometimes it is not so much. But this is
my nose. It says more than singer. It says great singer."

"Well," said Peter somewhat impatient at the fervency of Maria, "he says
in his letter that he sang the first verse of the school song standing
on his head. That must have been hard."

"Yes," replied Maria fiercely, "he is standing on his head. He writes to
you only foolishness. It is about skulls and jumping steps. And about
the sport. And there was more. I know you did not read it all. You have
made him to stand on his head. They have made him. He lives only for
foolishness. The mark is there but first there must be work. Years of
work. He is not a child to jump over steps. He must come with me to the
Argentine."

"Whoa," cried Peter. "We can't let a nose run away with us. Just stop
and think a minute. It's impossible for Pat to go to Argentine with you.
In a year or so he may be old enough to go into the army. It would look
as if he was running away."

Peter's attempt at a conciliatory speech was conspicuously a failure.

"The army! The war!" said Maria between clenched teeth. "That is the
most silly of all. Better he should stay with the good brothers and jump
down the steps. My God! Peter, you won't, you can't let him go to the
war. If there was in him not one note of music you would not let him. He
is a boy. He is something alive. And don't you understand? I think it is
in him the fire. They won't kill him. This I will not let."

"All right, but if the war goes on and he comes of age what can anybody
do about it?"

"I have much money, Peter. It can be all spent to save him if there is
the need."

"Money, I've got money too. Lots of it. That's all foolishness. It won't
work."

"Is it that you want him to go?"

"Damn you," said Peter, almost sobbing in his anger, "you mustn't say
things like that. He's my son too. He was my son when you ran away and
left him. I've seen war. I've got lately so I see it all from one angle.
Any time our lines go forward I think of them fighting for just one
thing, fighting to keep Pat out of it. You get all excited and worked up
about a nose in a photograph. A picture of a boy you don't even know.
I've wheeled him in the park. I saw him walk the first time. I'm not
looking to save him because he's some kind of a genius. I want him to
live because he's Pat."

"I said wrong, Peter. I am sorry. Both of us we must wait. It will be
all right. I know God won't be silly."

Presently Maria said, "I do not know him. That is what you have said.
Tell me about him--about Pat."

Peter did. It was mostly things about when Pat was a small boy. He
remembered God's ankle and told Maria, and about the blind giant. She
was enormously interested to hear of how Pat had picked out phonograph
records. "And mine," she said eagerly, "did he like that?"

Peter lied a little. "It was the one he asked for first all the time,"
he answered. It surprised Peter that he remembered so much about Pat.
All sorts of little things which he hadn't thought of for years welled
up in his mind. Some of them were things that he had hardly noticed at
the time.

"And of course you never heard about Judge Krink," he said. "He was a
man Pat invented when he was about five years old. He used to tell me
that he wrote letters to Judge Krink and Judge Krink wrote letters to
him. 'What did he say?' I'd ask him. 'Nothing,' said Pat. I remember
Judge Krink had dirty fingernails. He never went to bed. I don't know
just where he lived, but it was some place in a garden. He sat there and
dug dirt. All the things that Pat couldn't do, Judge Krink did. Maybe I
got asking him about Judge Krink too much because one day he said, 'I
don't have Judge Krink any more. He's got table manners.'"

"You see," broke in Maria, "it is not the truth when you said I do not
even know him--my son. I have seen him many times. I have played with
him."

"Where?" asked Peter, puzzled.

"At the house of the Judge Krink."

Later they talked about themselves. Peter told Maria about Vonnie.
Somehow he could not bear to have her think that he had been altogether
desolated by her flight seventeen years ago or that he had spent his
life entirely in persuading Pat to eat spinach. Certainly Maria was not
displeased by the story. She smiled cheerfully when told of the
devastation wrought by her phonograph record but she said, "Oh, Peter,
you should not have let her go. I did not teach you enough or you would
have broken the record of the song." Maria met confession with
confession and rather overtopped Peter.

"How about this God you were telling me about. Do you think he liked
that?" he inquired.

"Oh," said Maria, "it is not such little things about which he bothers."

"Didn't you ever love me?" Peter protested.

"Not after the baby," said Maria. "It was not your fault but in my heart
I blamed you. It seemed to me the thing mean and silly. To be hurt so
much, that cannot be good. Now I am not so sure. If he is to sing it
cannot be too much. Nothing. Not even that."

She moved to the piano and ran over an air which sounded familiar to
Peter. "You remember?" she said.

On a chance he guessed. "That's what you danced to in 'Adios'."

"That is smart. You remember. It is the Invitation to the Waltz. All
these years you have remembered."

"When do you go back to the war?" she asked suddenly.

"Tomorrow," said Peter.

"It is seventeen years and you go away tomorrow." She came across the
room and bending across the back of the chair in which Peter sat she
kissed him on the eyes. "There is something more I want you to
remember," she said.

Peter was swept as he had been years ago by a gust of emotion. He
started to get up but his legs were a little unsteady. Maria moved
across the room to the piano.

"Maybe," she said, "you will remember me for the seventeen years more if
I sing 'Depuis Le Jour.'"



CHAPTER III


Maria went to the Argentine a month later but Peter heard from her every
now and then. Her letters were mostly brief, acknowledging the letters
from Pat which Peter forwarded to her. Occasionally he would supply a
footnote to something which Pat had written if it touched upon things
which were known only to himself and the boy and could not be understood
by an outsider without explanation. Or it might be that some sporting
reference, simple enough in itself, seemed to require clarification for
the sake of Maria. For instance when Pat wrote, "He tried a forward pass
but I managed to grab it on the two yard line and ran all the way for a
touchdown," Peter added the note, "A football field is a hundred yards
long. Pat's feat was most unusual."

But sports did not figure quite so large in the letters as they had done
before. Rather often the boy wrote about books. In one letter he
outlined the entire plot of "Mr. Polly" for Peter. In another somewhat
to Peter's astonishment he wrote "Heard Galli again last Saturday. She
does not excite me so much as she used to." Maria returned this letter
with her acknowledgment and Peter found that this time she was supplying
a footnote. "Galli," she wrote, "is Galli Curci, an opera singer with
the voice and nothing else."

When the letter came in which Pat announced that he had entered the
officer's training school at Harvard, Peter cabled to Maria. She replied
almost immediately, "Have broken my contract, coming back to Paris."
Before she arrived the armistice was signed. Peter went to see her
almost immediately. He wanted to explain to her why her schemes about
Pat were wholly impossible and he felt that now with the war issue
removed it would be easier to discuss the matter calmly and rationally.
He plunged into the question immediately.

"Now let's both make a solemn promise, Maria, to tell nothing but the
truth without letting emotion or anything like that come in."

"But then," objected Maria, "it would not be the truth."

"Oh, you know what I mean. When I showed you Pat's picture that night
you got very much excited. You said he had a nose just like yours and
that it meant he was all cut out to be a singer. A great singer you
said. Well, we're not excited now. Be honest with me. You can't really
tell anything about whether he could be a singer or not just by looking
at his nose in a picture. That was a little far-fetched, wasn't it? I
mean it wasn't plain, cold, common-sense."

"What you ask me is a little hard, Peter. This common-sense you talk to
me about, for that I care nothing. It is no good. It is not so that I
see things. I was excited when I see the picture. That is true but it
makes no difference. To have the much sense it is necessary for me to
get excited. It is so I see things. If you mean can I write it down on
the piece of paper like the contract, Pat he will be the singer, the
great singer, I must say no. That I cannot promise. But contracts too I
do not like."

"Yes," said Peter, "I've observed that."

"But I feel it, Peter. That is so much more. Can you not understand? You
have sometimes maybe look into the crystal. It is so when I look at the
picture. Here is my nose again in the world. It is for something."

"Maybe," suggested Peter, "it's a nose for news."

Maria paid no attention. "Do you not see? If it is the failure that does
not matter. Just so long as it is the possibility it is necessary that
we try.

"You don't begin to understand how far apart we are, Maria. I'll tell
you frankly where I stand. Even if I knew Pat could be the greatest
singer in the world I'd rather have him a newspaperman. That's my
angle."

"You are not serious."

"But I am. Newspaper work's real. It's got roots into life. It is life.
It makes people in the world a little different. Singing is just
something you go and hear in the evening."

"For you it is enough that he should go to the baseball and the football
and perhaps the next war and write the book 'Lafayette Voulez Vous.'"

Peter flushed. "I think there's more sense to it," he said. "And it's
pretty probable that Pat'll think something like I do. We were together
and you weren't there. And we went around together and talked about
Matty and Ty Cobb and Tris Speaker."

Maria looked a little puzzled.

"You wouldn't know," said Peter a little bitterly, "they're none of them
singers."

"I didn't mean to be rotten," he added hastily. "I'm just trying to tell
you the truth."

Maria smiled. "It is all right. You tell me, Peter, the truth---- your
truth."

"Well, you see, Maria, he is like me. The nose may be you, but the rest
is me. It's just got to be. In the beginning he wasn't anything but just
sort of red clay or he was like a phonograph record before you cut the
tune on it. He's been brought up around baseball games and newspaper
offices. He knows, and everybody knows, that he's coming on the Bulletin
and will take my place. In fact the job's been promised him. I'm not
trying to lay down the law. It's just the way things are. I don't see
what I could do about it even if I wanted to. He's all made by now.
What's the use of my saying, 'Yes, let him go over and learn to be a
singer.' It just hasn't been put in him."

Peter paused.

"I'm sorry, Maria. The trouble is he's a boy. If he'd been a girl I'd
have jumped at the chance to have you make a singer of him. Newspaper
work's no good for women."

"And singing, it is not good for men?" asked Maria.

"Well, as a matter of fact, I don't honestly think it is."

"Peter, I understand better now what this is you feel, but it is not all
the truth you say. When I go away he is red clay, that is what you say.
It is not so simple. I have looked at him then and to me he was just
what you have said. But it is more. Inside the clay all the time there
is something. The little bug, I do not know what it is you call it."

"Do you mean germ?"

"Yes, I think so. That you cannot touch and I cannot. So we do not need
to talk and to get angry. It is for him to say. Is it not so?"

"Well, within reason--yes."

"So! You go back to America and you make him the newspaper man. That is
fair. When he is twenty-one you will come here. And he will come. You
will say 'yes'."

"That's almost four years off."

"The day I know; it is the twentieth in August. The year it will be
1922."

Peter hesitated.

"But it is fair, Peter. You should like it. Do you not see it is what
you call it 'sporting'."

"You're on," said Peter.

"There, now we will not quarrel any more. Some things I want to know.
You will tell me. You have heard him singing? Sometimes he sings a
little?"

"I suppose so. I never noticed particularly. Yes, I remember when he was
a kid he used to sing something that went, 'Tell me, pretty maiden'---- I
can't remember the rest of it. He's got a loud voice, I say that for
him. When he was playing out in front of the house with other kids I
could always hear him a way above all the others. I guess he's got lungs
all right."

"Those he has got from you. If he is the singer, you see, it will not be
all my fault."

Maria was leaving for Spain within a few days and Peter said he expected
to get back to America pretty soon.

"Here we shall meet on the twentieth in August, in nineteen twenty-two,"
said Maria. "Good-bye, Peter. I want you to bring my son at eight
o'clock."



CHAPTER IV


A few months later while the peace conference was still raging fiercely,
Peter was puzzled by a cablegram which he received from America.
"Congratulations on your story," it read, "we want more just like it.
Convey my respects to President Wilson and tell him I am solidly behind
him,---- Twice."

Peter couldn't remember anybody named Twice which made it still more
difficult for him to understand why he was being congratulated. He
wondered just how urgent was the message to Wilson. Of course it sounded
a little bit like somebody on the paper, but the manner was not that of
Miles even if he assumed that the signature had been in some way or
other so curiously distorted. Cheeves, the Paris correspondent of the
Bulletin, solved his perplexity.

"You're kidding me," he said. "It isn't possible that you never heard of
Twice. Why, it's Rufus Twice of course, but he always signs just his
last name. You know how it is on state documents, 'Lansing,' 'Bryan' or
whoever the current boy on the job happens to be."

"It doesn't help any that his first name's Rufus. Who's Rufus Twice,
anyhow?"

"Well, since yesterday afternoon he happens to be your boss. He's the
new managing editor of the Bulletin, only they don't call him that. He's
got a title. They call him Supervising Editor."

"He didn't lose any time cabling, did he?"

"No, everybody around here got one."

"Were they all congratulations?"

"All that I've seen, but most of them are much briefer than yours."

"How about this message I'm to give Wilson, is that really necessary?"

"Oh, I guess not. But the president ought to feel flattered that Rufus
Twice is behind him and not about three feet out in front pulling him
along. On the level, don't you remember Rufus Twice on the Bulletin?"

"No, I don't. I've been away for years and years now. I don't remember
anybody."

"Big black-haired fellow. Snappy dresser. Always made a point of coming
in late and just barely catching the first edition."

"That fits any one of twenty people around the shop."

"Maybe they were all Rufus Twice. My God! there've been times when he
seemed like _ad nauseam_. You'll remember him if I remind you of the
story about Twice and the district attorney."

"Go on. Remind me. What district attorney?"

"Hell! I can't be bothered remembering the names of district attorneys.
He don't figure anyway. We'll just call him Smith. It was about that
Haldeman murder case. I suppose you've forgotten that too, but Haldeman
was a fellow said he had something on the police and the day before he
was to spill it they found him murdered up in his apartment. This was
about twelve o'clock at night and all the reporters come down to the
station. Rufus Twice is there and this district attorney fellow he shows
up too. After getting all the facts they go out for sandwiches and one
of the reporters says, 'Mr. Smith, haven't you some statement to make to
the papers about this murder.' The district attorney just looks at him
and sits there trying to make up his mind. And while he's thinking Rufus
Twice hops in. 'I think Mr. Smith would like to say something about as
follows,' he begins. It goes on for about a thousand words and when
he's all done he turns to Smith and says, 'That's about right, isn't
it?' And Smith says, 'Yes.' And after that all through the case Twice
gives out the statements the same way except that he doesn't bother to
say, 'That's about right' any more."

"Is that a true story?"

"I don't know. That's the way Twice always tells it."

As Peter was going out, Cheeves called him back.

"Say, I suppose now that the cruel peace conference is almost over
you'll be going back. I don't want to give you a wrong steer about
Twice. Maybe you got the impression from what I said that he's just a
big bluff. That's only about ten per cent right. He is a big bluff but
in addition to that he's got the stuff. You could make about ten of
Miles out of him. When you pack up your stuff to go back don't forget to
take along a grain of salt."

There must have been something of prophetic vision in the remarks of
Cheeves for Peter received his message of recall the next day. The cable
said, "Baseball beginning to look more important peace conference stop
much quicker stop we want you back right away stop advise you take
Espagne--Twice."

Peter looked at his watch. He had just twenty-two hours to dig up such
roots as he had sprouted during his four years in France. He made the
boat by the closest possible margin. Of course he would rather that it
had been any vessel afloat except the Espagne haunted by the ghost of
what was probably by now a dead submarine. Still catching the boat was a
sort of assignment. And it was the quickest way home. Pat would be
waiting on the pier in New York. Peter had cabled ahead to him.



CHAPTER V


It was a Pat prodigiously grown who met Peter as he came down the
gangplank. Not much had altered in the look of him but just the added
inches and heft gave him a curiously disturbing air of maturity. Peter
would have liked to put his arms around him but he didn't dare. The
handshake was not adequate and there was nothing he could say to express
what he wanted to. It seemed better not to try.

"Hello, Pat," he said.

"Hello, Father," said the boy.

"Don't," exclaimed Peter almost as if in pain. "I've got a name. I don't
want to be father. I never have been father. Four years oughtn't to do
that."

"I'm sorry, Peter," Pat said it almost shyly.

The baggage was passed promptly, but as Peter was about to leave the
pier a man came up to him.

"You're Peter Neale, aren't you?" he asked.

Peter nodded.

"I'm a reporter from the Bulletin. My name's Weed. Mr. Twice sent me
down. He told me to tell you to come right up to the office."

"What's the rush?" asked Peter.

"I don't know. He didn't say."

"I think maybe we'd better go," broke in Pat. "He gave me the same
message for you yesterday. I forgot about it."

"What has he got to do with you?" Peter inquired, after Weed had gone.

"Don't you see, when Mr. Twice became editor he inherited me along with
the paper. Mr. Miles never did anything much the last couple years about
managing me. He just turned over the allowance you gave me every week.
Mr. Twice has taken complete charge. He's got my whole life mapped out."

"What's it going to be?"

"He's got it all fixed up for me to go to Harvard one more year and then
start on the Bulletin."

"How do you like that?"

"I like it fine. But that doesn't make any difference. It's all fixed up
that way anyhow. Twice has made up his mind about it."

"I'm obliged to him, but why can't he let me alone the first day. They
didn't do things like this on the Bulletin in the old days. Here it is
four years and I want to sit down some place and talk with you."

They waited in the outer office less than half an hour before a young
woman ushered them into Twice's room. Peter had seen him before. The
description which Cheeves gave was not so very good after all. His hair
wasn't very black.

"Glad to see you back, Neale," said Twice, "and you, Pat. Won't you just
sit down. I'll be with you in a second."

"Miss Nathan," he called across the room to his secretary, "I want you
to take a cablegram to Speyer in Berlin. 'Fine story today. We think
Ebert is doing constructive service to humanity. Tell him I said so.'
And oh, Miss Nathan, let me know the minute that call from Washington
comes through. But don't disturb me for anything else. I'm going to be
busy now for some time. Don't forget to make that note about finding out
when Blake's contract is up. I want to know about that the first thing
in the morning. And tell Mr. O'Neill not to go home until he sees me.
You can hold the rest of those letters over till I get back from dinner
tonight. You know where to get me. Just a minute. Take a note for
Booth. The Milwaukee offer is far too low. Tell 'em I've been thinking
it over and that the price for the series is now three hundred instead
of two.' That's the cheapest crowd I ever had to deal with. Don't put
that in the letter. 'Price for the series now three hundred instead of
two.' That's the end of it."

He turned to Peter. "It's that diary of the sub-commander. I'm letting a
few selected papers in on it. Miss Nathan--" In the moment of lull the
secretary had gone.

"Well, Neale, I certainly am glad to have you back here again. We've got
to begin to hammer sports. They're coming back terrifically. I put all
the foreign politics in the paper because that's what I think the people
ought to read. Baseball's the thing that actually gets 'em. If Babe Ruth
and Lloyd George both died tomorrow Ruth would just blanket him. And let
me tell you, Neale, George is one of the great men of our day. I have a
very warm personal feeling for him. I don't suppose you remember
Delehanty."

Peter was just about to answer that he had seen him several times but he
wasn't nearly quick enough.

"Ruth reminds me more of him than any other player I've seen in the
game," continued Twice. "Killed, jumping off a railroad bridge on June
third, 1902. I've always made it a business not to be wrong. Remember
that, Pat. It's just as easy to have the right date as the wrong one.
It's just a knack. Anybody can do it. Come in some time and I'll explain
the trick for you."

Peter broke in resolutely. "There was a man came down to the dock who
said you wanted to see me. His name was Weed."

"Yes, Weed, good man. I dug him up myself. He came off a little paper in
Reading. Of course he hasn't quite got the touch yet. The city's a
little too big for him, but I think he's going to be a first rate
newsman. Right now he tries too hard. He thinks he's got to dazzle
people. The result is he's just a little esoteric. A little too
esoteric. I must remember to tell him he's too esoteric."

"What is it you want to do with me?" asked Peter, returning to the
attack.

"Yes," said Rufus Twice, "that's why I asked you to come here. I've been
talking it over with Booth, the syndicate man, and a week from Monday'll
be a good time for you to begin the sport column again. It takes a
little time to get momentum up again but inside of a year I think we'll
have a bigger list for you than when you went away. What did you have
then?"

"A hundred and twelve," replied Peter.

"A hundred and twelve," repeated Twice. "Yes, that's just about right.
Well, in a year we'll give you two hundred. I've got another name for
your column. I don't like 'Looking Them Over With Peter Neale.' It's a
little amorphous. How do you like 'Hit and Run?'"

"I'm not sure I like that at all," said Peter.

"That's just because it sounds strange to you. You'll get used to it in
no time. Now, we want you to get your first column ready in a couple of
days. We want to have a good margin of time there. I don't want to do
any more than suggest, but I believe you want to say in your first
column that fundamentally there is a kinship between war and sport. Take
a football quarterback and you have the perfect prototype of the general
in charge of operations. The line plunge gives you exactly the same
problem the allies had in Flanders. If you have sufficient preparation
the point of attack will be learned before you're ready. The quick
thrust must be a surprise. Then you have the forward pass. What's that?"

"Why, I don't know," said Peter.

"An air raid," said Pat.

"Exactly. Work it out, Neale and you'll find it has almost innumerable
possibilities. Of course you understand this is just a suggestion."

Miss Nathan ran in through the door. "Senator Borah's on the wire now,"
she cried.

"All right," said Twice, "I'll be there in a minute. While you were
away, Neale, Miles told me I was supposed to take a look after Pat. That
was an agreement he made with you, he told me. I've got that all fixed.
He goes back to Harvard next week. His work in the officers' training
camp will count him for a year. That means he'll be a sophomore and can
play football. I think he might even make the team. Then the next year
he comes to us. Four years of college is too much. A degree's just
nonsense. I never got one and I wouldn't take an LL.D. I hope the
arrangement's satisfactory to you. Will you please excuse me now? I've
got to talk up disarmament in Washington. You and Pat come down and have
lunch with me tomorrow. Ring me up at the house around noon. It's a
private number but Miss Nathan will give it to you. Glad to have you
back, Neale."

He was gone.

"Say, Pat," said Peter, "how did you know a forward pass was like an air
raid?"

"Well, you see I've heard him do that a couple of times before. How do
you like him?"

Peter did not obey his first impulse in answering. He suddenly realized
that Rufus Twice was in a position to offer him the most useful sort of
support in launching Pat safely and permanently into the newspaper
business.

"I tell you, Pat," he said. "I wouldn't be surprised if he's got a lot
more sense than you'd think."



CHAPTER VI


"Let's go and dine at some terribly quiet place," suggested Peter as he
and Pat came down in the elevator from the office of Rufus Twice. They
went to the Harvard Club and sat in a corner of the dining-room where
not even a waiter noticed them for the first half hour. Peter was
distressed because he found it enormously difficult to talk to Pat. The
years he had been away stood like a wall between them. It seemed to be
an effort for the boy even to call him "Peter" as he had done for so
many years. He was attentive and respectful. There didn't begin to be
enough intimacy for banter.

In reply to questions Pat said that he had spent almost no time on
football or baseball during his last year because the work at the
officers' training camp had been much too difficult. He didn't know
whether he ever could pitch again. In the last football game at school
he had hurt his left shoulder and it was still a little stiff. It
wouldn't keep him from football he thought, but when he tried to swing
the arm up over his head he got a twinge in the bad shoulder. Anyway he
had come to like football a good deal better than baseball. Twice had
told him he ought to have a bully chance to make the team at Harvard but
he wasn't sure. Perhaps he wouldn't have quite enough speed for a big
college team.

"I said something like that to Mr. Twice," Pat added, "and he jumped all
over me. He asked me if I'd ever heard of Freud and if I knew what an
inferiority complex was, and I said I had, but he explained it all to me
anyway."

"What is an inferiority complex?" asked Peter.

"Oh, you know--that business of thinking there's something wrong with
you about something."

Pat rubbed the lower part of his neck. "Down here in the subconscious
mind. A sort of a fear or shame or something like that gets stuck down
there and you have rheumatism or you yell at people."

"What do you mean yell at people? Why do you yell at them?"

"I don't know exactly, sir. I guess it's to show 'em that you aren't
inferior."

"Say, Pat, please don't call me 'sir' any more."

"I'm sorry."

"I guess there is something in that inferiority thing after all. I've
seen it lots of times, but I never knew the name for it. Lots of
pitchers come up from the sticks with all the stuff in the world and
can't do anything because they're afraid it's going to be too tough for
them. Say, Pat, you've got to pitch again some time. You know on account
of this war I've never seen you pitch."

"Oh, yes. Don't you remember the year before you went away. We used to
go over in the Park and you'd catch for me."

"That doesn't count. I mean in a game. How were you anyway?"

"Well, I guess I wasn't much good. Not with men on bases. If anything
went wrong I always had a terrible time to keep from hurrying. I had to
just stick the ball right over."

"Why?"

"Well, I always got to worrying that I was going to lose control. In my
head I could keep a jump ahead of everything that was happening. I was
always seeing fellows walking down to first. I didn't mind them hitting
me so much. It was having 'em all walking around just as slow as they
liked that got my goat. Sometimes I used to have nightmares about it."

"That's funny, maybe you can't pitch," said Peter. "It doesn't make any
difference. You've had enough baseball already to help you a lot when
you begin to write about it."

Pat made no reply.

"Don't you think so?" asked Peter a little sharply.

"Oh, yes, sir."

Peter made no comment. He realized that the sharpness of his tone had
checked his advance into the confidence of Pat. That business about the
nightmares was better. People didn't tell things like that to strangers.
He tried to re-establish the mood.

"Speaking of nightmares," said Peter. "There's one I have a lot. Mine is
about people running, running along the deck of a ship. I guess it's
something left over from that time we had the fight with the submarine
on the Espagne. But there isn't any submarine in the dream. It's just
the people running that frightens me."

Pat merely listened. Peter paused a moment. "That's curious, isn't it?"

"Yes, it is," answered Pat.

A waiter came up now and took the order. After he went away they were
silent. From the big lounging-room came the sound of a man more or less
aimlessly fooling with the piano. After a while Peter broke the silence.
He would have liked to know something about Pat's thoughts on this
career which was being planned for him, and his attitude on the war and
religion and women. "Are you in love with anybody and who is she and
tell me about her?" Peter would have liked to ask a question like that,
but he did not dare.

"What have you been doing with yourself?" was what he did ask.

"Mostly just hanging around to find out what Mr. Twice was deciding to
do with me?" Pat answered.

Then there was more silence. The man in the next room was playing
louder. "I wish, he'd either play that 'Invitation to the Waltz' or cut
it out," said Pat.

So that was it. The "Invitation to the Waltz." It suggested to Peter
that he bid boldly and offer close confidence in the hope that it would
be met in kind.

"I wish he wouldn't play the 'Invitation to the Waltz' at all," he said.
"That tune always tears me to bits."

He waited but Pat said nothing.

"I've never talked to you before about your mother. The first time I saw
her she danced to that tune ... the 'Invitation to the Waltz.' She's a
singer now but she was a dancer then. I don't suppose you even know her
name."

"Yes," said Pat, "her name is Maria Algarez and she's singing now at the
opera in Buenos Aires."

"How did you know that? I didn't even know myself that she was in Buenos
Aires right now."

"I had a letter from her last week," explained Pat.

"She writes to you?" asked Peter in a good deal of surprise. "You mean
she always has written to you?"

"Oh no, I never heard from her at all till during the war. It must have
been a couple of years ago. Of course even when I was a kid I'd heard a
little about her. You remember old Kate. Well, a long time ago she told
me that my mother was an actress and a very bad woman and that I mustn't
say anything about her to you. I don't believe I ever did, did I?"

"Kate had no right to say that. Your mother isn't a bad woman. She's a
great artist."

"Well, I guess I never worried much about it anyway. Maybe I was a
little sad about it at first, but I've forgotten. And then all of
sudden I got this letter from Maria Algarez. She said she'd seen you in
Paris and that you showed her my picture and she wanted to write to me.
She told me all about her singing. After that I got a lot of letters
from her. She'd say she'd just been singing in 'Butterfly' and then
she'd tell me what it was all about. You know that funny broken way she
has of writing things."

"Yes," said Peter, "I know."

"Well, it was a lot of fun. You see I'd never heard any of these operas
but after I found out about Maria Algarez singing in them I used to go.
If she wrote that she'd been singing 'Butterfly' I'd go to the Met and
get a standup seat and then I'd write to her and tell her about Farrar
and all the people I'd heard. She'd write back and tell me all the
things that were the matter with Farrar and the way she did it
differently and a lot better."

"She never showed any of those letters to me," said Peter.

"Didn't she?" asked Pat casually as if it made no difference. "Oh yes, I
remember she wrote to me once that if I told you about going to the
opera it might worry you and not to say anything about it. I don't know
why. She used to send me clippings from the newspapers with the things
critics said about her. They were all just crazy about her."

Peter in his bitterness was about to say, "Of course, she picked out the
good ones," but Pat was in full swing and he decided not to throw him
off his stride.

"You know I couldn't read this stuff at first. It was in French and
Spanish, but there was an old fellow that taught at school and he was
terribly excited too when I told him that Maria Algarez was sending me
these clippings. He'd heard her sing, you know. He used to translate the
clippings for me and he told me a lot about Maria Algarez."

"And now," said Peter, "I suppose you can read them yourself."

"Well, I can do the French all right but I'm not much on the Spanish.
You see the old Frenchman, the fellow that taught at school, he was
awful decent to me. He used to give me extra classes outside of school.
You see we had a secret between us. It was like belonging to that kid
fraternity we used to have in high school--Alpha Kappa Phi. That means
something that nobody else knew. I can't remember what."

"Brothers and friends," prompted Peter.

"How did you know that?"

"You told me about it in one of the letters you wrote to me. But what
was the secret you had with the old Frenchman?"

"Why, about Maria. He told me not to let any of the fellows know that
Maria Algarez was my mother. He said that it was a beautiful romance but
that here in America people wouldn't understand on account of American
morality being so strict and that they might look down on me."

Peter was indignant. "Beautiful romance! Where did he get that idea?
Maria Algarez and I were married just like anybody. Didn't she tell you
that?"

"No," said Pat in obvious disappointment, "she didn't."

"I guess she forgot about it," suggested Peter.

"It doesn't make any difference to me, but if I run into old Mons.
Fournier I won't dare tell him. It would spoil the whole thing for him.
He'll think I was just boasting. Gosh he got a lot of fun out of it."

"Fournier, there's a Jacques Fournier that plays first base for the
White Sox."

"No, this man's named Antoine. He's the old French teacher I was telling
you about. Maybe they're related. He never said anything about it."

"In these letters about the opera and singing and all that," asked
Peter, "did Maria Algarez ever suggest that you ought to try and be a
singer."

Pat broke into unrestrained merriment. "Good God! no," he said and added
quickly, "I beg your pardon, Father, I didn't mean to curse but it would
be so funny if Maria'd said anything like that about me."

Peter was nettled. "If you're going to call me 'father' why don't you
call her 'mother'?"

"I'm sorry; I know you don't like to be called 'father'. I won't do it
again."

"All right, but you haven't answered my question. Don't you ever think
of calling her 'mother'?"

"Maria Algarez? No, it would sound so funny. I've never seen her. She
doesn't seem like my mother or anybody's mother. She's around singing
before people and all that. And look at her picture."

He took one out of his pocket and handed it across the table. For the
first time since the conversation had turned upon Maria Peter smiled.
He recognized the picture. He too had had one just like it a good many
years ago. It was taken two or three months before he married Maria
Algarez. However, Peter let it pass without comment.

"What does Maria say about what you're going to do?" he wanted to know.
"She hasn't raised any objections to your going into the newspaper
business?"

"No, she never mentioned that or anything definite. She's just kept
hammering away at one thing. She keeps saying Pat don't do anything
unless it's something you want to do very much. And she says if a man or
a woman has something like that he wants to do he musn't let anything in
the world stand in his way. He must go after it."

"Have you been living up to that? Have you been doing everything you
wanted?"

"Well, no," said Pat, "not since Rufus Twice took me over."

Peter brightened. Maria had a fight on her hands. Rufus Twice was right
behind him even as he had been behind President Wilson. But the next
moment he was again sunk in gloom. They were done with dinner and Pat
asked with unmistakable eagerness, "Couldn't we go some place and hear
some music?"

Peter throttled down his chagrin but before he could answer Pat added,
"Do you suppose there's any chance of our getting in to the Follies?"



CHAPTER VII


The plans of Rufus Twice did not work out quite according to
specifications. Pat went to Harvard, but he failed to make the football
team although he remained on the squad as a rather remotely removed
substitute quarterback. He was not even taken to the Princeton game, but
he wrote to Peter that he would be on the sidelines in uniform for the
game with Yale at New Haven. It was arranged that he should meet Peter
immediately afterwards at the Western Union office. Pat's letters from
Harvard were sparse and infrequent.

"Football is the toughest course I have," he wrote, "and the dullest.
Learning the signals here is worse than dates. You can't even guess at
them. You have to know. Last week Bob Fisher gave us a blackboard talk
in the locker-room and made a comparison between war and football. It
sounded just like Mr. Twice. Maybe Mr. Twice put him up to it. It's
beginning to seem to me as if that man ran everything in this world. The
only thing I've enjoyed much is going round to Copeland's. He's an
assistant professor in English. I take a course with him about Dr.
Johnson and his Circle. I don't care anything about Dr. Johnson. He
seems to have been the Rufus Twice of his day. But I do like hearing
Copeland. The fellows that know him well call him 'Copey,' but I haven't
nerve enough to do that. He has receptions in his room at night. There's
a regular thing he tells you, 'Nobody comes much before ten or stays
after eleven'. He talks about books and makes them exciting. I'm kind of
steamed up about an English woman writer called May Sinclair. I've been
reading 'Mary Olivier.' It isn't much like any writing I've ever seen
before. She just sort of sails along over a story and whenever she sees
anything that seems important to her she swoops down and collars it. All
the stuff that doesn't matter is left out. There isn't much here that
matters, but you can't leave it out because if you do the dean tells you
about it. Do you remember that suggestion you made to me that night we
took dinner at the Harvard Club. You remember you asked me if I ever
thought any about singing myself. I got rather interested and thought
some about going out for the Glee Club, but I knew Mr. Twice would
raise the dickens if I didn't play football. Sometimes we sing up here
in the room. Just swipes you know. I'm getting so I can work out chords
on the piano. I don't know anything about my voice because it's always a
bunch of us that sings together. I do know though that I can sing a lot
louder than the rest. I think if you're smart you'll put a bet on us
against Yale. Those lickings we got earlier in the season don't mean
anything. We're just beginning to come along now. I don't know why I say
'we.' I mean 'they.' I haven't got anything to do with it. Somehow
though I do get swept along into the whole business. Mr. Copeland was
telling us the other night that we all take football a lot too
seriously. He says nothing will crumble and fall down even if we don't
beat Yale next Saturday. I know there's sense to that, but somehow I
can't help caring about it. Keep your eyes on Charlie Bullitt when you
come up to the game. When I watch him work I realize how far off I am
from being a regular college quarterback. He's got a bean on him. I'll
see you right after the game at the telegraph office. I suppose you're
going to do the story for the Bulletin. See that Harvard doesn't get any
the worst of it."

Peter did watch Bullitt, but more than that he watched the huddled crowd
of Harvard players on the sidelines. He couldn't help feeling that in
some way or other Pat would finally get into the game. His old habit of
making pictures beforehand was with him. There was Pat throwing off his
blanket and running out to report to the officials. Peter wondered if he
would know him from his lofty seat at the top of the Stadium. He felt
sure that he would. Still every time a Harvard substitute went in Peter
shouted down the line to find out if at last this was Pat. The picture
he had fashioned for himself couldn't be wrong. Pat would run down the
field through the blue team yard after yard over the goal line. If it
only could happen to Pat. Once let him hear the roar of the whole
Harvard cheering section racketing behind him and there could never be
any more talk about his being a singer or anything like that. It
wouldn't be exciting enough.

Just to sit there and watch made Peter feel that he was a part of one of
the most thrilling manifestations of life. When the British went over
and captured Messines Ridge Peter had watched the show from the top of
Kemmel Hill. He and the other correspondents knew the exact second when
the mines were to explode. They all knew that this might be the decisive
push of the war. And as he waited for the great crash which would show
that the attack was on Peter trembled. But the excitement didn't begin
to toss him about as it did now when Harvard was playing Yale. Yes, it
was true as Pat had said that there wasn't any sense to it, but there it
was. It was a symbol of something much greater. Peter didn't know quite
what. Maybe there was some significance for him in the fact that the
Yale line was so much bigger and heavier. Harvard would have to win with
speed and skill.

Maria had always said that there was no song in him. He knew that she
felt he didn't appreciate beauty. But what could she ever show Pat that
would pound a pulse like this. How could anybody dream of making a
singer out of Pat when he might be a quarterback and after his own
playing was done go on living the thing over as he watched the games
year after year. And perhaps when Pat came to write he could put in it
this thing that was sport, and beauty, and life and fighting and
everything else worth while in life. Perhaps he could do the things that
he spoke of in the letter about that English novelist, the woman that
sort of soared over things and then swooped down on them. All this that
was happening belonged to him and Pat. Maria and the boy had nothing
like this in common. She just couldn't have an ear for football.

By and by Peter forgot all about her. He didn't even remember very much
that Pat was waiting in the sidelines. The affair grew too desperate to
admit of any personal considerations. The one present and compelling
tragedy of Peter's life dwarfing all others was that Yale was winning.
He had stationed beside him a young undergraduate from New Haven who was
supposed to give him the substitutions in the Yale lineup and identify
the Eli who carried the ball or made the tackle. This young man had gone
a little more insane than Peter. He paid no attention to any questions,
but pounded his fist on the great pile of copy paper which lay in front
of Peter and shouted: "Touchdown! Touchdown! Touchdown!"

"Don't do that," said Peter. He didn't like the sentiment and he hated
to have his notes knocked around. The Yale youngster didn't hear him.
"Touchdown!" he screamed again and almost jarred Peter's typewriter over
the edge of the Stadium.

A fumble lost three yards and halted the Yale attack. There came a punt
and the Harvard quarterback raced down the field. Pat had said, "Watch
Charlie Bullitt." They threw him on the fourteen yard line.

"Who made that tackle?" asked Peter.

"Hold 'em, Yale! Hold 'em, Yale!" chanted the undergraduate reporter.

Suddenly Peter jumped up scattering his notes all over the press box.
His typewriter fell to the concrete with a clatter. "Harvard!" he said,
and then much louder, "Harvard! Harvard!" And as he shouted the ball
went over the line. It was only by chance that he happened to hit the
Yale reporter on the back the first time, but he was so swept along by
the wildness of the moment that he continued to slap him violently until
the youngster moved away. A little later there was a field goal and
presently the game was over and Harvard had won by a score of 10 to 3.

Peter didn't leave the press box immediately. He was much too shaky to
attempt the journey down the long steps to the field. The Harvard stands
had poured out on to the gridiron and the students were throwing their
hats over the goal posts. The Yale undergraduates remained and across
the field came booming, "For God! For Country! And for Yale!" Peter knew
that he would have to cool off emotionally before he could write his
story. That would have to tell who carried the ball and when and how
far. He couldn't just write, "Harvard! Harvard! Harvard!" and let it go
at that. He must make most of his story on that run of Bullitt's. The
thing was almost perfect in its newspaper possibilities. It couldn't be
better. The tackle which stopped the quarterback on the fourteen-yard
line had knocked him out. Peter wished he knew what Dr. Nichols had said
when he ran out to the player. Then he remembered somebody had told him
once that the doctor had a formula which he invariably used when a
player was knocked out. "What day of the week is it? Who are you
playing? What's the score?" That was the test which must be passed by an
injured man before he could remain in the game.

Suddenly an idea came to Peter. That was just the touch he needed. His
story was made. He almost jogged all the way to the telegraph office.
His first two starts were false ones. Then he achieved a sentence which
suited him and pounded away steadily. No doubts assailed him. He was
never forced to stop and hunt for any word. The thing just wrote itself.
"There's a little trouble," said the chief operator, "but I can let you
have a wire in about half an hour."

"I've got half of it done already," replied Peter. "Make it snappy."
They were holding him up and he stopped to look over what he had
written.

"Cambridge, Mass., November, 19--By Peter Neale--The Harvard worm turned
into a snake dance. Tied by Penn State, beaten by Centre and by
Princeton, the plucky Crimson eleven made complete atonement this
afternoon when it won from Yale by a score of 10 to 3.

"Joy came in the evening. Harvard did all its scoring in the dusk of the
final period. The Crimson backs showed that they were not afraid to go
home in the dark.

"Charles K. Bullitt, quarterback, who weighs 156 pounds, earned most of
the glory. In the past this slight young man has been valued chiefly for
his head work. He is rather a delicate piece of thinking machinery and
it has been the custom to guard him a little from the bumps of the game.
His rôle has been like that of a chief of staff.

"The customary procedure is for Bullitt to peer calmly over the opposing
lines and then make a suggestion to one of the bigger backs as to where
it might be advisable for him to go. In general his acquaintance with
the ball has been only a passing one. He is expected merely to fair
catch punts and not to run them back. Indeed for the last two years
Bullitt has fairly thought his way into a place on the Harvard team.

"But today the scholar in football suddenly became the man of action. He
proved that he could function from the neck down. Standing at midfield,
late in the third period, Bullitt received a punt from Aldrich. He
switched his tactics. Instead of playing safe he began to run. Leaving
his philosophic cloister, he plunged headlong into life. And it was life
of the roughest sort, for Yale men were all about him. Fortunately for
the little anchorite of the football field he had achieved a theory
during his sheltered meditations and it worked. Whenever a Yale tackler
approached him he thrust out one foot. And then, just to fool the foe,
he took it away again.

"The zest of living gripped him and he went on and on over the chalk
marks. It seemed to him that the rigors of existence had been
overstated. Drunk with achievement he set no limit on his journey. But
the Yale tacklers did.

"In the end the world was too much with him. Disillusion came in the
form of two tacklers in blue who hurled themselves upon him. Their hands
touched him and held tight. Down went Bullitt. The big stadium turned
three complete revolutions before his eyes. Pinwheels danced. From a
distance of approximately one million miles he heard thousands of people
crying 'Harvard! Harvard! Harvard!' Curiously enough they were all
whispering. And then he lost consciousness. After several quarts of
water had been poured over Bullitt he came to. Dr. Nichols the physician
of the Harvard team was standing over him. The doctor waited while
Bullitt blinked a couple of times and then he propounded his stock
questions which he always uses after a player has been knocked out. The
test of rationality was, 'What day is it? Whom are you playing? And
what's the score?' Dr. Nichols was gravity itself but Bullitt grinned
and answered, 'It's Saturday, November nineteenth. We're playing Yale
and the score is three to nothing against us but Harvard's going to get
a touchdown damn soon.'

"Dr. Nichols gave it as his professional opinion that Bullitt was
rational. Four minutes later as the Crimson swept over the line for a
touchdown, he knew it."

Just as he finished rereading his story the wire chief came in and
announced that he had the Bulletin looped up. Before Peter could hand
him the copy Pat walked into the office. Peter felt just as he had done
at the pier. He wanted to throw his arms around Pat. "It was wonderful,
wasn't it?" he cried. "That's the greatest game I ever saw in my life."

"Yes," said Pat, "I guess it was a good game. Have you finished your
story?"

"Just the lead. Do you want to see it?"

"All right."

"The wire's waiting for me. Hand it over a sheet at a time as soon as
you get done."

Peter turned to his typewriter, but he couldn't go on. He kept watching
Pat. He waited to hear him say something. Pat read on to the end without
comment. Then he looked up. "Where did you get that story about Charlie
Bullitt and Doc Nichols?"

"I didn't get it. I knew that they said something to each other and I
thought that would be about it."

"The part about Nichols is all right. Those are the questions he always
asks, but Charlie Bullitt wouldn't have said anything like that. Don't
you know how serious they take football. They'd put a man off the squad
for making jokes like that. He winked, did he? They shook him up a long
ways beyond winking. I don't believe he said it at all. Who told you
anyway?"

"I've said nobody told me. It's just one of those things that might have
happened."

"Don't stand there holding on to that copy," Peter added in
exasperation. "The wire's waiting."

"But you're not going to send it, are you? It's not true. It doesn't
even sound true."

"I'm writing this story," said Peter. "Hand it in."

"All right."

Pat carried it to the operator in the next room. Peter began to write
again but all the zest and excitement of it was gone. He had to fumble
around and look at his notes. Nothing went right. It was almost three
quarters of an hour before he got to the last page. Pat sat across the
table from him saying nothing.

"All done," said Peter at last. "Where shall we go?"

"I don't care."

"Maybe there's a party for the team that you've got to go to."

"I don't have to go. I'm not going."

"What's the matter with you, Pat. You'd think Yale had licked us. Are
you sore because you didn't get into the game?"

"No, I knew I wouldn't get in. Pretty near the whole squad would have to
be struck by lightning before I got in. That wasn't it. I found out this
afternoon that Copeland was right. The thing doesn't matter. It's silly
to get so worked up about it."

"What made you think that?"

"You remember that man that dropped the punt in the first quarter, that
fumble that gave the Elis the chance for their field goal."

"Yes, I remember. He had it square in his hands and muffed it."

"Well, that was Bill French. I know him better than anybody else on the
squad. He's a corker. They hauled him out right after that muff and as
he came off one of the coaches said something to him. I don't know what,
but he flopped down on the seat right beside me and began blubbering
like a kid. He was trying not to, you understand, but just bawling
away."

"Oh, he'll forget about all that by tomorrow."

"No, he won't and nobody else will. They won't let him forget. He'll be
'the man that dropped the punt.' If we hadn't won he'd be around
thinking of committing suicide. It's just rotten. There oughtn't to be
things like that."

"Well, you can't have any kind of a real struggle without somebody
suffering."

"Then let 'em suffer for something worth while. The thing's all dolled
up in the newspaper stories. You come along with that yarn about Bullitt
saying, 'We're going to get a touchdown damn soon' and all that stuff
about his getting knocked out."

"Well, he did get knocked out, didn't he?"

"You bet your life he did but it wasn't all nice and pretty. Pinwheels
and whispering cheers in his ears and all that. You weren't close enough
to see what happened when Jim came out with the sponge."

"What did happen?"

"He put his lunch, but that isn't pretty enough to get in your story."

"That's not going to disable him for life."

"I didn't say it would. He was just a sick pup and he would have liked
to go off some place and lie down. But you can't. I'd die for dear old
Harvard and all that. He had to get up and go on with it. If you don't
you're a quitter and you haven't got any guts. I tell you I think it's
damn rot. It's phoney like your story."

"Maybe you'll have a chance to write a better one some day," said Peter.
He had hard work to steady himself. He didn't believe Bullitt had been
hurt any worse than he was at that moment. Pat didn't answer.

"Wasn't there anything that gave you any kick all afternoon?" asked
Peter after a pause.

"Sure, just one thing. It was the Yale stands singing 'Die Wacht Am
Rhein.' I know they've got terribly silly words, but there is something
that has got guts. I think that's just about ten times as exciting as
all the football games ever played. There was our crowd tooting away,
'Hit the line for Harvard, for Harvard wins today' and that big song
with all those marching feet in it throbbing over across the field."

"German feet," objected Peter.

"Well, but they are feet and you can't take the beat and the sweep out
of it. Maybe we did win the game but they did sing the heads off us."

"Another moral victory for Yale," suggested Peter.



CHAPTER VIII


When Peter came into his office one afternoon a couple of weeks after
the Yale game he found Pat sitting at his desk waiting for him.

"I'm through," said Pat.

"What's the matter?"

"Well, as a matter of fact, they're through with me. They've fired me."

Pat looked across the desk expectantly awaiting a question. Peter didn't
ask it. "I'm sorry," was all he said.

"You know about it. I suppose you must have the letter from the dean by
now. It took me three days getting back from Cambridge."

"I don't know anything about it. You can tell me if you want to."

"Well, I got fired the worst way. It wasn't just flunking courses. I
didn't even mean to do it. Not ahead of time anyway. It just sort of
happened."

Peter waited and then suddenly he remembered his interview with Miles
years ago, the day he came to the office in bandages and was never
offered a chance to tell about it. A question would be kinder.

"What happened, Pat?" he asked.

"The proctor reported me. I had a girl in my room. No, that's slicking
it up and making it sound romantic and pretty. What I mean is I had a
woman in my room. You know ... a woman."

"I know," said Peter.

"You remember I was low in my mind after the football game. It let me
down. I don't care what I wrote you before the game. I really did think
it was going to be fine. I thought I'd get stirred by it and after it
was all over the only things I remembered were Bill French sitting on
the side-lines crying and Charlie Bullitt out on the field putting his
lunch. You don't mind if I tell it this way--the long way."

"Take your time."

"Well, I know it sounds silly, but it seemed to me that I just had to go
out and find something that was thrilling and beautiful too. I saw this
girl--this woman--walking across Harvard Square. It was night and
raining and blowing. The wind was almost carrying her along. You know it
made her seem so alive."

He paused again. Peter could not resist an impulse to break into the
story. "She said to you, 'Come along' or a something like that," he
suggested.

"No, I spoke to her. I said, 'Why get wet?' It was dark and we sneaked
up the stairs in Weld to my room. And then it wasn't beautiful at all."
Pat buried his head in his hands.

This time Peter did put his arm around his shoulders. "That's right,"
said Peter, "it wasn't beautiful. You couldn't know that. Nobody ever
does. I didn't."

Pat looked up and in the second he had snapped back to normal. The shame
had gone somewhere; into Peter's protecting arm perhaps. He managed a
smile.

"Peter," he said, "there's something more I'm sorry about. I'm sorry for
what I said about that football story. It was a good football story. A
peach of a story--all but that part about Charlie Bullitt and Dr.
Nichols."

Peter grinned back at him. "That's my weakness. I can't help being a
little yellow sometime."

A sudden elation swept over Peter. Here at last was a secret shared just
by him and Pat. Of course, the Dean of Harvard College and the proctor
and the woman who walked in the rain knew about it, but they didn't
count.

"The proctor saw her when she was going out," Pat added just to finish
up the story. There they left it and went on to talk of other things but
presently Miss Nathan came in.

"Mr. Neale," she said, "Mr. Twice wants to see you in his office."

Peter got up. "No," she said, "it's Mr. Pat Neale he wants to see. He's
been asking for him for a couple of days now. I told him that he was
here this afternoon."

"What's Twice want to see you for, I wonder?"

"I know," said Pat. "I've just thought of it. He must have got the
Dean's letter. Don't you remember it was Mr. Twice arranged about my
going to Harvard before you got back? I suppose they think he's still my
guardian."

"Do you want me to come in with you?"

"Never mind. Now that I've got it off my chest once I guess I can do it
again."

Pat was gone for almost three quarters of an hour. Peter walked up and
down nervously. He wondered what was happening. From across the transoms
of Twice's office he could hear just the rumbling of the editor's
voice. Pat didn't seem to be saying anything. At last he came back.

"What did he say to you? He seemed to be raising Cain."

"No, he didn't say anything much. At least not much about the Dean's
letter. He had that all right. He got talking to me about Krafft-Ebing."

"Oh, was that all?"

"No, there was more than that. I report down here for work on Monday."

       *       *       *       *       *

"The trouble with him," said Rufus Twice, "is that he doesn't seem to
understand that you've got to have a certain routine in a newspaper
office. Deering tells me that he hardly ever gets in at one o'clock.
Along about two he calls up on the phone and wants to get his assignment
that way. And last night Warren says that he called up after ten and
said, 'It's raining like hell. You don't really want me to go out and
cover that story, do you?' Warren told him, 'Oh no, Mr. Neale. I didn't
know it was raining. Of course, if this keeps up we won't get out any
paper at all.'"

Peter couldn't laugh because Twice was telling him of the reportorial
shortcomings of Pat. He spoke to Pat about it when he got home to the
apartment. The old flat in Sixty-sixth Street was again theirs.

"But I get such lousy assignments," said Pat. "I think Deering's down on
me. I suppose I've given him cause all right, but he's taking it out on
me. He sends me where there isn't any chance of getting anything. If I
do write something it never gets in the paper anyway. I did tell him it
was raining. What was the use of my getting wet for nothing? They wanted
me to go up to a meeting of the trustees of the Museum of Natural
History. Now what could I get out of that?"

"Didn't you go up?" said Peter aghast. "He was just being sarcastic when
he told you there wouldn't be any paper if the rain kept up."

"Oh, I know that. The Bulletin comes out every day all right. That's the
trouble with it, but I took him up literally on what he said. I don't
think the joke was on me. It was on him."

"You shouldn't do things like that."

"Suppose I had gone. There wouldn't have been any story anyway."

"You've got to quit supposing. Let the city editor do that. The
worst-looking assignment may turn out to be something if you go after
it."

"Yes, once in every twenty years those directors of the Museum of
Natural History get into an awful row about whether to put the
ichthyosaurus on the second floor or in the basement and if anything
like that happened they'd turn over the whole front page to me."

Peter shook his head gloomily. "You've got the wrong spirit. Even if
your assignments are no good keep your eyes and your ears open when you
go round the city and something will turn up. That's the way to show
them. Bring in something you pick up yourself. Every day of the year
there must be whole pagefuls of stuff just as good and better than the
stuff we get in the paper. Only we don't find out about it. Keep
scouting for stuff like that. When you say newspaper work's stupid
you're practically saying that life's stupid."

"Maybe it is," said Pat, "but I'm not so sure about that as I am about
newspapers."

"It's the same thing."

"I don't think so. Here's the sort of thing that makes life amusing and
isn't worth anything for a newspaper. I was riding in one of those
B.R.T. subway trains the other day and there were two women sitting next
me on one of those cross seats. One was fat and middle-aged and the
other was younger. I didn't notice her so much. It was the fat one who
was doing the talking. She was very much excited and she was explaining
something to the younger woman. 'Why, I said to him,' she told her--'I
said to him, 'Why, Mr. Babcock, I don't want to be sacrilegious but that
girl she's so sweet and so pretty I don't even believe our Lord himself
could be mean to her.' That made me satisfied with the whole day, but
imagine coming in and trying to put it over on Warren or Deering for a
story."

"A story's got to begin some place and end some place," objected Peter.

"The kind I get don't begin any place and so I don't have to wait around
for them to end."

Peter went to Rufus Twice and told him that Pat didn't seem to be making
any progress in general work.

"You ought to be more patient, Neale," answered Twice. "What's all this
hurry about Pat? He won't be twenty-one yet for a couple of years."

"It's nearer than that. It's just thirteen months and three days."
Peter could have told him the hours and the minutes too which lay
between Pat and his eight o'clock appointment in Paris.

"That doesn't make him exactly aged. He's learning or he ought to be
learning all the time. Even if he didn't get a line in the paper all
year he wouldn't be wasting his time. Just being here helps him to pick
up my way of doing things. Of course, when I say 'my' I mean the
paper's."

"All that's perfectly true, Mr. Twice, but I have a very special reason
for wanting him to get ahead right now. I want him to be interested. I
want him to feel that he's important."

"There isn't any job around here that isn't important. You ought to know
that, Neale. None of us count as individuals. We're all part of the
Bulletin. Nobody can say that one cog's more important than another. Did
you ever see a Liberty motor assembled?"

"Yes," said Peter with as much haste and emphasis as he could muster,
but it was probably the convenient ringing of the phone which saved him.

"If Mr. Boone has anything to say in reply to the story we printed this
morning he's welcome to come to my office and see me. That is if he's
got facts. I want you to know that I resent his making his complaint
through an advertising agency. I don't care if I am impolite. I intend
to be. Don't bother to threaten me about your advertising. You can't
take it out. I'll beat you to that. It's thrown out. Good-bye."

Twice swung his chair around and faced Peter. "I've just cost the paper
$65,000 a year in advertising," he said cheerfully. "The Dubell Agency
was trying to bawl me out about that Sun Flower Oil story we had on the
front page this morning. Did you see it?"

"Well, I saw the headlines," said Peter untruthfully.

"I want you to read it. Weed did it. I told you I was going to make
something out of that young man. Let's see, what were we talking about?"

Peter almost said, "The Liberty Motor," but stopped himself in time. "We
were talking about Pat."

"Oh yes, I remember. I suppose, Neale, you and I could say without
egotism that we're important cogs here on the Bulletin. I suppose
sometimes it seems to us that we're vital cogs, but if you should die
tomorrow the Bulletin would come out just the same. I'd give you a good
obit but work would go on. Nobody is indispensable. Pat's got to get it
through his head that he's just part of an army."

"I think he has," said Peter, "but the trouble is he feels that he's got
a permanent assignment on kitchen police."

"But consider this, Neale. I didn't seduce Pat away from college and on
to the Bulletin. I did promise him a job and he's got it. He can't
expect to hang around here for a year or so and jump right in and write
lead stories. What is it you want me to do anyway?"

"Well, I thought maybe it would be a good thing to shift him over on
sports. He knows baseball and football and I'd like to have him come out
with me and do notes of the games and things like that. That would be
down his alley. That would interest him and I think he could do it."

"I don't think it's the best way. I think you're forgetting that general
news is the backbone of a paper. All the rest is tacked on. You're wrong
but I tell you what I'll do. I'm going to yield to your judgment. Go in
and tell Clark that I want Pat to report to him from now on. Go and send
Pat in. I want to have a talk with him."

Peter ran into Pat late that night in the Newspaper Club.

"Did Twice get hold of you?" he asked.

"He certainly did," said Pat. "He's decided to take me off general work
and put me on sports. His idea is to send me around with you to football
games and baseball and have me write notes. You know 'Diamond Chips' or
'Hot Off The Gridiron.'"

"Did he say anything else to you?"

"Yes, he asked me if I'd ever seen a Liberty Motor assembled and I said,
'No,' and he told me about it. Oh yes, and he said, 'When a reporter
goes out on a story there are four things he ought to remember--When!
Where! What! and Why!'"

"What's the matter with that?" Peter felt that Pat ought to show a
little more delight and gratitude at being fairly launched on his career
as a sporting writer.

"Well, I tried it out on that assignment I had to cover--the directors
of the Museum of Natural History. It worked out like this--When--last
night. Where--the palatial apartment of Mr. Harold Denny at 605 Park
avenue. What--the annual report of the directors of the Museum of
Natural History. Why--God knows."

Pat was busily engaged with three other men in a game called horse
racing. Each contestant had two pool balls and all were lined up at one
end of the table with a piece of board behind them. The starter's job
rotated among the players. He sent the balls spinning up the table and
the one which landed nearest to the rail on the rebound won the purse.
Peter wanted to talk to Pat, but he seemed anxious to get away.

"There's a newspaper man over in the corner that I'd like to have you
meet," said Peter.

"Who is it?"

"His name's Heywood Broun. He's on the World."

"Which one do you mean? The one with the shave?"

"No, the other one."

"I'm too busy," said Pat. "I can't be bothered. We're just going to run
the Suburban Handicap, That costs fifty cents for each horse."

As the balls were shoved away Pat raced down the table with them
shouting, "Come on Ulysses. Come on James Joyce." He ran over to Peter
with a handful of coins. "Ulysses won," he said, "and James Joyce was
second."

"What do you call them that for?"

"They're named after a book I've been reading."

Peter was about to head up town, but Pat urged him to stay. "Stick
around awhile," he said, "as soon as Nick Carter shows up the
quartette's going to have a concert."

"What quartette?"

"Oh just me and three other fellows. We're pretty good. At least I am.
We get in a few swipes almost every night."

"Are you still going to the opera so much?" asked Peter anxiously.

"No, I haven't had any time. There isn't any opera now anyway but it's
almost a year since I've been."

"Have you heard from Maria lately?"

"The last letter I got was almost six months ago. She didn't say
anything much except she said that before long she was going to see me
in Paris. I don't know how. You haven't heard Mr. Twice say anything
about giving me an assignment over there, the annual meeting of the
house committee of the Louvre or anything like that?"

"He hasn't said anything to me about it."

Peter didn't wait for the singing nor was he particularly worried about
it. He was cheered by the fact that Pat had spoken so casually of the
opera and of Maria. When he got home to the flat he noticed a big book
in blue paper covers on the table. It was "Ulysses" by James Joyce.

"Why, that's the book Pat named the pool balls after." He picked it up
and began at the beginning and then skipped ahead frantically. An hour
or so later Pat came in. Peter pointed to the book and looked at him
reproachfully.

"What does it mean, Pat?" he asked. Stumbling over it at random he read:

     "In a giggling peal young goldbronze voices blended. Douce with
     Kennedy your other eye. They threw young heads back, bronze
     gigglegold, to let freefly their laughter, screaming, your other,
     signals to each other, high piercing notes."

"I don't know," said Pat. "I haven't got that far yet. But what
difference does it make what it means? That isn't the point. There's
music in it."

As Peter was going to bed he cursed silently to himself. "Damn this
music. They're even trying to play it on typewriters now."



CHAPTER IX


On sports Pat worked better and more cheerfully. It was Pat who devised
the note at one of the Princeton football games, "The Tiger eleven has
three fine backs and the greatest of these is Gharrity." And he came
through splendidly when he was assigned to cover Marshal Foch's
activities at another game and report in detail what the Frenchman did.
Peter found the story posted on the board in the Bulletin office. In
fact Twice had allowed Pat to have his signature in the paper. Right
after Peter's own story it came--"By Peter Neale, Jr."

This was the third reading for Peter but he could not resist the
pleasure of standing in front of the board in the City Room and looking
over it again slowly:

     "Ferdinand Foch, field marshal, was outranked this afternoon by
     Malcolm Aldrich, captain. The Field Marshal was received
     enthusiastically by the 80,000 spectators but he found he could not
     hold the attention of the throng once the whistle had blown. He
     became then just a spectator at one of the greatest football games
     ever played between Yale and Princeton. Come to think of it he was
     rather less a part of the proceedings than the young men in the
     cheering section behind him. Foch did not have a blue feather, or a
     girl, or a bet on the game. The greatest military leader in the
     world was assigned today to the humble job of being just a neutral.
     He must have known that momentous things were happening when 40,000
     roared defiance and another 40,000 roared back. Undoubtedly he was
     stirred when huge sections of the Bowl turned into fluttering banks
     of orange and black, or of blue, but probably there was much of it
     which he could not understand. It would be hard, for instance, to
     explain to a man who had been at Verdun the justice of penalizing
     anybody for holding, nor did the rival teams pay any respect to the
     slogan 'They shall not pass!' They did it all the time.

     "The young American officer detailed to help the distinguished
     visitor did his best. 'You see, Marshal,' he would explain, 'it's
     this way. Yale has _la balle_ on Princeton's 35-yard line and it's
     _premier bas_ with _dix_ yards to go.' Just at that point Aldrich
     or O'Hearn would tear through the Tigers for a run and the American
     officer grew so excited that he would lose the thread of his
     explanations. Foch never did catch up."

"It's just the way I would have written it myself," thought Peter.

Pat was grinning when he found him. "How did you like my parody?" he
asked.

"What do you mean?"

"Didn't you see yourself in that story about Foch. That business about
'They shall not pass' ought've tipped you off. I thought that was a
regular Peter Neale touch."

"Oh," said Peter, "you were just fooling."

"But here's the best of it," added Pat. He held out a letter from Rufus
Twice which read:

     "Dear Pat, I want to congratulate you on the story you wrote about
     Foch at the football game. It was excellent. All the facts were
     there and you handled them with a fresh and original touch of your
     own. When I saw the Marshal at luncheon today he said he was very
     much amused by our story--Twice."

"Well," said Peter a little bitterly, "if that was just an imitation
keep it up."

Pat did keep it up although he grew a little restive during the winter.
"If they're going to be many more of these indoor track meets," he
complained, "I want to be put back on the Museum of Natural History.
Clark there in the sporting department is just crazy about facts. You
have to squeeze them all into the first paragraph. Even if anything
exciting ever did happen there wouldn't be any chance to tell about it.
You'd have to start out just the same and say how many people there
were in the hall and what the temperature was and whether it was raining
or snowing outside."

Still he had conformed with sufficient fidelity to remain in the graces
of the powers on the Bulletin and when Summer came around Pat was
assigned to go with Peter to Atlantic City and watch Jack Dempsey train.
Pat's part was to write a half column of notes called 'Sidelights On The
Big Show.' After the first day or so Pat lost interest in the actual
boxing at Dempsey's camp.

"Where do you see anything in that?" he asked Peter as they sat at the
ringside in the enclosure near the training camp of the champion.
Dempsey was whaling away with both hands at Larry Williams, an
unfortunate blonde heavyweight who seemed to be under a contract or some
other compulsion to go two rounds every day.

"Watch him," exclaimed Pat as Williams clinched desperately and tucked
his head over Dempsey's shoulder. "He looks like an old cow leaning over
a fence."

"That's a good line," said Peter, "don't waste it on me. Use it in the
Bulletin."

But Pat wandered off and loafed around the training quarters. When he
came back to the hotel late that afternoon he had something else.

"This is all right, isn't it?" he asked. Peter looked over the copy
which Pat had written.

     "Dempsey is taking a great deal of electricity into his system," he
     read, "in preparation for his fight with Carpentier. This portion
     of his training is being handled by S. J. Foster, D.C.M.T.,
     chiropractor, mechano-therapist and electrical therapeutist. In
     other words Doc Foster is the man who rubs Dempsey after his
     workouts. But the rubbing is only a small part of it. Doc Foster
     insists on that. His chief pride and reliance is the polysine
     generator. 'Why, that machine,' said Doc Foster, this afternoon,
     'has got some currents in it that would break your arm in a minute.
     Yes, sir, they'd break your arm quicker than that.' And as he
     boasted he looked rather longingly at the fattest arm of the
     fattest newspaper correspondent. Of course, there are more soothing
     currents as well in the polysine generator. 'They just reach down
     after the deep muscles,' the old Doc explained, 'and grab 'em.' He
     neglected to add just what the electricity does with the deep
     muscles after it has grabbed them. Presumably it does not break
     them, but just frolics around with the muscles and then casts them
     aside like withered violets."

"Sure," said Peter, "that's fine. You don't have to bother with Larry
Williams at all. I'll put all the stuff about him into the lead."

Next morning Peter awoke with a splitting headache. Toward noon it got
much worse. He called Pat in from the next room. "I'm up against it," he
told him. "I'm sick as a dog. Of course I could telegraph to the office
and get them to send somebody down but I don't want to do that. This is
your chance. You'll have to do the lead story. You say you can imitate
me or parody me or whatever you call it. Now's the time to go to it. And
say nobody has to know that I'm not doing it. Just sign your story 'by
Peter Neale.'"

"I'll do my best," said Pat. Peter dozed off late that afternoon and the
doze became a deep slumber. He did not wake until morning when there
came a violent rapping on his door. In the hall was a messenger with a
telegram. Peter opened it and read:

     "What happened? We didn't get the story. Never mind telephoning
     explanations because I'm coming down over the week-end. I'll be at
     the hotel at one--Twice."

Pat was nowhere around the hotel and nobody seemed to know where he had
gone. Peter was still mystified when Rufus Twice arrived. He thought at
first of trying to conceal the fact that Pat had acted as his substitute
and then decided not to. "It isn't fair to expect me to do as much as
that," he thought. However he found that any such deception would have
been useless.

"What happened to you?" was Twice's first question.

"I was sick. I had a blinding headache and I told Pat to do the story.
Didn't he send anything?"

"Yes, but it might as well have been nothing. All we had to go by was
the A. P. Dempsey cut loose yesterday and knocked Larry Williams down
three times. The last time they had to carry him out of the ring. And
our story was something about a man named Daredevil Oliver that's doing
a high dive at an amusement park down here. It was signed Peter Neale
but I knew it couldn't be you."

Twice picked some copy out of his pocket and flourished it in the air.
"Lights. Gray mist. East wind," he read. "Good God! Peter, nobody can
say I don't appreciate Walt Whitman or Amy Lowell, but I tell you
Dempsey knocked Larry Williams down three times. The last time he was
out clean as a whistle."

"You mean to say there wasn't any Peter Neale story in the paper?" asked
Peter terrified.

"Yes, you get off all right. You don't suffer any. I did it myself. I
rewrote the A. P. and signed your name. But it was just the merest
chance that I happened to drop in at the office. You should have called
me up and let me send a man down."

"But I didn't know he'd blow up like that. The other story he did from
here seemed all right."

"Yes, but it wasn't news. I think Pat can write but somebody's got to
stand over him and tell him what news is. The one he sent might have
been all right for an editorial page feature though it was a little
esoteric. What do you suppose 'gigglegold' means or is that something
the operator did?"

"I don't know what it means but it's a word James Joyce uses in
'Ulysses.'"

"I'd forgotten," said Twice. "Of course. I was trying to place it. Great
book, 'Ulysses,' never should have been suppressed. But you couldn't use
any of it on the sporting page."

"Was it all like that?"

"Pretty much. It was about this Daredevil Oliver doing a high dive of a
hundred and five feet into four feet of water. And there were only nine
people there to watch him and how ironic it would have been if he'd
broken his neck. And then some more about Eugene O'Neill and the tragic
drama in America. Jack Dempsey or Larry Williams or the fight never got
mentioned at all."

Pat came in without knocking. He was flushed and angry. "Mr. Twice," he
said, "that story in the Bulletin signed 'Peter Neale' wasn't the story
I sent. I wouldn't have written anything like that."

"I know it," said Twice, "that's why I wrote it."

"Didn't you go down to see the workout?" asked Peter.

"Of course I did. I didn't stay all through it. I waited until Jack
Dempsey knocked that old cow Larry Williams down for the third time and
then I got bored and went out."

"But that was the story," cried Peter. "Can't you see that."

"Why Dempsey could knock out Larry Williams a hundred times in an
afternoon," objected Pat.

"That isn't the point," Twice broke in. "News isn't things that might
happen. News is things that do happen. When a reporter goes out on a
story there are four things for him to remember."

"I know," said Pat. "When! Where! What! and Why!"

"Yes, and there are two ways of doing a story. One of them is the way I
want it to be done. The other doesn't count. I don't want you to argue
with me. I tell you that your story should have been about Larry
Williams getting knocked out. Some day you'll learn why. Pat, I'm not
going to fire you. You've got stuff. Deering's had a crack at you and so
has your father. Now I'm going to see what I can do. You're to go back
to New York this afternoon. Report at my office on Monday. Hereafter
you'll get your assignments from me and turn your copy over to me. I've
never been licked yet and I'm not going to be licked now. I'm going to
make a newspaperman of you or my name's not Rufus Twice."

After Twice had gone Peter asked, "Pat, what made you want to throw me
down?"

"You don't think I made all this trouble for you on purpose?"

"Well, why did you go and write a story about Daredevil Oliver and leave
Dempsey out of it?"

"It seemed so much more important to me. You'd have thought so too if
you'd seen him. He just leaned back off the platform so slowly. He could
have stopped himself any second. And then all of a sudden he couldn't.
And he started to fall."

"But the story was signed with my name. Didn't you think of that?"

"Of course I did."

"Didn't you remember that I'd get blamed for it."

Pat was pale with earnestness and almost crying. "I didn't think
anybody'd be blamed. I wanted to do something for you."

"Do you mean to say," asked Peter in surprise, "that you thought it was
as good a story as I'd write."

"I thought it was a better story. It was a better story than you ever
wrote."

Peter was silent with astonishment. Where, he wondered, did his son
Peter Neale, second, ever unearth such amazing and audacious confidence.
Suddenly it came to him that he was not the only parent. He remembered
Maria. Obviously there was no use in arguing with Pat any further.
Indeed he was almost a little frightened at so bold a blaze of spirit.

"Well," he said at length, "what are you going to do?"

"I'm going to report to Mr. Twice on Monday," answered Pat.

Peter sent down and got a "Bulletin" in order to find out just what it
was that Peter Neale had written. He read only the first line, "Can Jack
Dempsey sock? Ask Larry Williams."



CHAPTER X


Not until after the big fight did Peter get back to the Bulletin office.
He found a subdued and cheerless Pat. "How are things going?" he asked.

"I'm learning a trade," said Pat.

Rufus Twice was more optimistic. "He's getting along fine," he reported.
"I flatter myself that he's picked up more of the newspaper angle on
things in the last two weeks than he got in a whole year before this.
You see I call him into the office every afternoon and go over the paper
with him and show him why we've used each story and the reason for
handling it the way we do. He's been a good soldier. I'll tell you what
I'll do. You take your vacation next week and I'll let him go with you.
You ought to have a month but I don't believe the syndicate can spare
you. Three weeks is the best I can do."

Peter and Pat planned to go out in the country some place, but they kept
putting it off and two weeks were gone before they decided on Westport,
Conn., and bought the tickets. On the morning set for the journey Pat
came into Peter's room with the paper.

"Don't let's go," he said.

"All right but why not."

"Maria Algarez is here. They've got her picture in the Bulletin. It
isn't a very good one. She got in from Argentine yesterday afternoon."

"Maria Algarez here in New York? Where?"

"It doesn't say."

A messenger arrived with a letter a few hours later. Peter opened it and
read:

     "You must not hide from me. I have called up the Bulletin and they
     say you are not there. When I ask for the number of your house they
     tell me it is the rule that they must not tell. Is it, Peter, that
     so many ladies call you up? The next time I am more smart. I say
     that your father is very sick and that I am the nurse and must know
     where you are. But I should have known. It is twenty years and the
     flat it is the same. You are like that Peter. You do not change. I
     thought not to see you and Pat until next year in Paris but from
     Buenos Aires I decided suddenly I will go to New York. Here I am.
     My hotel it is the Ritz. You and Pat you will come tonight at eight
     and have supper with me--Maria."

"I didn't want to go to Westport much anyway," said Pat.

He was more nervous than Peter when they came to the door of Maria's
suite. She kissed Peter but Pat only held out his hand. Maria laughed.
"He does not know me. I know him. He is like the picture."

Pat was almost silent during supper. He spoke up only once. Maria was
ordering. "We will have some vegetable," she said. "What is the name? I
do not know the English. _Les épinards._"

"That's spinach," said Peter and added slyly. "Pat doesn't like spinach.
He won't want that."

"Yes, I do," said Pat promptly.

Peter smiled but he had the joke all to himself. Pat had forgotten.

After dinner they talked sparsely with Peter doing most of the work.
Suddenly Maria said, "It is necessary that somebody he ask me."

Peter was puzzled, but Pat understood. "I've waited for five years to
hear you sing. Won't you?"

"It is nice, but it is the twenty years I have waited. First you must
sing."

"I can't."

"Maybe. It must be that sometimes you have sung."

"Oh, just with other people. Swipes you know."

"I do not know what it is but you sing and the swipes I will do."

"Just anything. That's all I can sing--anything."

Maria moved over to the piano. "The accompaniment it is not necessary
but it I can do if what you sing it is not too hard."

"It's just something you sing around with a crowd."

"Come nearer."

Pat moved over beside the piano.

"Allons!"

Maria looked up at him and whispered, "You can. I know."

There was no banter in it. Pat began a little husky at first but then
louder and clearer.

    "Down by the stream where I first met Rebecca
     Down by the stream where the sun loves to shine.
     Sweet were the garlands I wound for Rebecca.
     Bright eyes gave answer, she said she'd be mine.
     One, two, three, four,
     Sometimes I wish there were more.
     Ein, zwei, drei, vier,
     I love the one that's near.
     Ut ne sam si,
     So says the heathen Chinee.
     Fair girls bereft
     There will get left,
     One, two, and three."

Maria looked up and smiled. Peter waited in an agony. He remembered that
he had not heard Pat sing since he was a small child. He waited for
somebody to speak. He did not know whether or not it was good. Somebody
would have to tell him if this was the singing voice for which Maria had
hoped.

She continued to look at Pat and smile and he smiled back now more
boldly.

Peter couldn't stand it any longer. "Tell me ... Maria. Can he sing?"

Getting up from the piano she put a hand on Pat's shoulder.

"It is the fine voice that I know. I think it will be the greatest voice
in all the world."

Peter took out his handkerchief and mopped his forehead. Maria turned to
him. "The time it is not up. I have come too soon. There is still the
year. But you must not. We cannot wait."

"Ask him. Tell him," said Peter hoarsely.

"Pat," she said, "if you will come with me to Paris you can be the great
singer. It will not be tomorrow. It will be two years. Maybe three
years. You must work. You must do what I say."

"When?" asked Pat trembling.

"In the week."

Peter said nothing, but he looked at Pat. The boy continued to stare at
Maria.

"Pat," he said.

His son turned to him.

"I want to, Peter. I want to."

Peter mopped his forehead again.

"He wants to, Maria," he said. "I give up my year." Peter paused. "I
give up all my years," he added in a low voice.

"But you must not give up the years," said Maria. "We will go to Paris,
all three. It will be more and more. You must watch and listen. He is
your son Peter."

But Peter shook his head. "No," he answered, "it wouldn't mean anything
to me. I wouldn't know. I don't care anything about tunes."

Maria ran her hands over the keys playing softly "The Invitation to the
Waltz." She watched Peter but he gave no sign of recognition. He was
fumbling in his pocket for something. At last he found it and pulled out
a letter.

"You see it wouldn't be possible for me to go anyway," he said. "This
morning I got this letter from Rufus Twice. He's the Supervising Editor
of the Bulletin. He writes and says, 'I'm sorry about your vacation, but
it is imperative that you give up the last week of it. The syndicate's
doing great work on your Hit And Run column. Booth has just come back
from the West and he's sold you to eighteen more papers. When you got
back from the war I promised you two hundred. This addition brings it up
to two hundred and ten. You see I've made good for you. But Booth says
they want the stuff right off. Another week might mean our losing some
of them.'"

Peter folded up the letter and put it in his pocket. "There's no chance
anyway. It's the tightest race they've had in the American League for
years and pretty soon the World Series'll be on and right after that
football starts. With all that going on there ought to be something in
the paper by Peter Neale."


THE END





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