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Title: Vignettes of Manhattan; Outlines in Local Color
Author: Matthews, Brander, 1852-1929
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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VIGNETTES OF MANHATTAN

OUTLINES IN LOCAL COLOR

_Books by Brander Matthews_

These Many Years, Recollections of a New Yorker


BIOGRAPHIES

Shakspere as a Playwright

Molière, His Life and His Works


ESSAYS AND CRITICISMS

The Principles of Playmaking

French Dramatists of the 19th Century

Pen and Ink, Essays on subjects of more or less
Importance

Aspects of Fiction, and other Essays

The Historical Novel, and other Essays

Parts of Speech, Essays on English

The Development of the Drama

Inquiries and Opinions

The American of the Future, and other Essays

Gateways to Literature, and other Essays

On Acting

A Book About the Theater

Essays on English


Vignettes of Manhattan; Outlines in Local Color

[Illustration: "PEOPLE WHO THRONGED THE FLOOR WERE WELLNIGH AS VARIOUS
AS THE PAINTINGS"]



VIGNETTES OF MANHATTAN:

OUTLINES IN LOCAL COLOR

BY

BRANDER MATTHEWS

WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY

W. C. BROWNELL

ILLUSTRATED BY

W. T. SMEDLEY

NEW YORK

CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS

1921

COPYRIGHT 1894, 1897, BY

BRANDER MATTHEWS

COPYRIGHT, 1921, BY

CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS

THE SCRIBNER PRESS



TO

THEODORE ROOSEVELT


_My dear Theodore,--You know--for we have talked it over often
enough--that I do not hold you to be a typical New-Yorker, since you
come of Dutch stock, and first saw the light here on Manhattan Island,
whereas the typical New-Yorker is born of New England parents, perhaps
somewhere west of the Alleghanies. You know, also, that often the
typical New-Yorker is not proud of the city of his choice, and not so
loyal to it as we could wish. He has no abiding concern for this
maligned and misunderstood town of ours; he does not thrill with pride
at the sight of its powerful and irregular profile as he comes back to
it across the broad river; nor is his heart lifted up with joy at the
sound of its increasing roar, so suggestive and so stimulating. But we
have a firm affection for New York, you and I, and a few besides; we
like it for what it is; and we love it for what we hope to see it._

_It is because of this common regard for our strange and many-sided city
that I am giving myself the pleasure of proffering to you this little
volume of vignettes. They are not stories really, I am afraid--not
sketches even, nor studies; they are, I think, just what I have called
them--vignettes. And then are a dozen of them, one for every month in
the year, an urban calendar of times and seasons. Such as they are, I
beg that you will accept them in token of my friendship and esteem; and
that you will believe me, always,_

_Yours truly,_

BRANDER MATTHEWS

New York, _May_, 1894

     _"When I came to my chamber I writ down these minutes; but was at a
     loss what instruction I should propose to my readers from the
     enumeration of so many insignificant matters and occurrences; and I
     thought it of great use, if they could learn with me to keep their
     minds open to gratification, and ready to receive it from anything
     it meets with."_

     --STEELE, _in "The Spectator," August 11, 1712_.



INTRODUCTION


Few volumes of short stories published a generation ago remain in print
to-day and fewer still either merit or would repay reprinting. But the
case is different with the two volumes published by Mr. Matthews in the
early nineties under respectively the title and subtitle now given to
their contents combined in one and made once more accessible to the
reading public. Whatever may be said of the progress made by current
literature in the interval, the public for it has augmented at least
correspondingly with the census, and it is permitted to hope that the
interest of this wider public in work of such exceptional authorship,
subject and quality has similarly increased. Mr. Matthews has himself a
wider public, amply earned, and I should say that interest in New York
has probably increased in pretty nearly equal measure with the change in
its character. Its cosmopolitanism has grown prodigiously, yet its
self-consciousness far from diminishing has distinctly deepened--if one
may properly speak of depth in connection with it. No doubt the
chameleon's changes, even shallower, quicken its sense of self.
Vignettes of Manhattan should therefore appeal to such actual local
pride and public spirit as we have, as well as to a historic interest
in a previous epoch of their subject's evolution--as the pace of the day
requires us to consider the aspect, character and manners of twenty-five
years ago, when Mr. Matthews had the idea of fixing these in the
framework of the short story. Besides, a good deal of the scent of those
roses survives.

So far as I know it was a unique idea. It was certainly a happy one.
Would it not be a pleasant thing if we had such series of analogous
authorship systematically celebrating London, Paris, not to say
Florence, Rome, Athens itself? Perhaps it was never attempted by any one
before because it was too difficult of execution. To the pure fictionist
it would necessitate irksome notation; the mere observer would hardly
perceive its fictional value. Mr. Matthews fortunately was at home in
both departments of writing. The result was that almost every essential
phase of New York life and character, belonging to every quarter of the
city, is veraciously pictured in these twenty-four proficient and
polished stories. Each is composed with attentive art to illustrate its
two-fold motive of interest as fiction and as portraiture. And the
whole, the collection, constitutes a dramatic panorama of the metropolis
a generation ago of great variety and point. "Little old New York" has
never had so thorough-going and so diverting a historiographer. Are
there any New York "types" omitted? I think of none. How did the author
come across some of them? How get some of them to sit for him? Unlike a
writer with a reporter's record he has never been, as it were, a prowler
among the precincts and purlieus of the town; yet clearly he knows his
Mulberry Bend material as well as that of Fifth Avenue, the studios as
well as the stage, the now extinct saloon as well as the still
flourishing Salvation Army barracks, and portrays Lazarus and Dives with
equal familiarity--our kind, too, of each and all. I suppose a writer
must have been born in New Orleans to have such a sharp sense of New
York, but it is true that he immigrated early.

Rich enough in material for plots and characters--in the right
hands--Mr. Matthews shows the metropolis to be in these twenty-four
stories, (though I wish he had also republished a volume of Manhattan
"Vistas" containing twelve more tales belonging to the same period). But
obviously to have forced the fictional note would have been to diminish
that of portraiture and accordingly to have minimized the motive of the
stories. In order to keep New York itself in the foreground the author's
personages are of necessity types--not individuals to be found anywhere.
And their stories are such as might have happened, since their author's
design is to convey an impression of what does happen. Their
representative qualities and circumstances and adventures are therefore
those that are emphasized. They are not for this reason less definitely
depicted, though they may be less elaborately realized. If they were
more highly complicated, however, their typical function would be
frustrated. New York itself would recede too far into the background. As
it is, Miss Marlenspuyk, for example, though a personally charming
silhouette, is chiefly differentiated for us by the characteristic
perfume of genuine Knickerbocker idiosyncrasy. Similarly of homely and
low-life figures for supplying which the author never seems to be at a
loss, any more than he is for supplying them with appropriate Manhattan
adventure--drama and dramatis personæ, indeed, Manhattan to the core.
Among them all they certainly create the illusion of a very palpable
environment.

It was to be sure a little different from that which now surrounds us,
and furnished a different theme for treatment different from current
practice. Probably if ecstasies and excess, "psychoanalysis" and
external melodrama had in the nineties been invented, or been deemed
normal, Mr. Matthews would have picked his way through them, but in any
case to be veridical the Manhattan "picture" of those days had to be, by
contrast with ours, placidity itself. The crime-wave was unknown, the
daylight holdup unprecedented. There was an occasional murder mystery,
always more than a nine days' wonder; the public had not yet grown
callous. One of the stories records an assault with murderous intent.
There were more fires. Our author has a fire story. Suicide has always
been with us and we have here a rather notably well handled one--minus
the horror, which the fastidious artist must generally, one would think,
doubt his capacity to dwell on to advantage, just as the sensitive
painter leaves Niagaras and volcanic convulsions to Nature. But
incontestably the life here mirrored was quieter than ours and, being
"slower," was correspondingly fuller. People had time to devote to
living.

It is furthermore incidentally to be pointed out that the Vignettes have
a technical interest quite apart from that of their substance. Every one
nowadays is enormously interested in process. One might almost say there
was a "popular movement" of concern with the philosophy of technic. If
so, it could hardly be denied that Mr. Matthews was one of its pioneers.
Certainly of the philosophy of the short story he was the first analytic
and explicit exponent. Each of these tales is his theory in action, so
to say. Nor is it to be doubted, in the case of so ardently systematic a
temperament and such a talent for argument and organization, that this
was in each case definitely his design. He was not content to contend
but desired to demonstrate and we have here his "philosophy teaching by
example." Accordingly the skeleton, the structure, the framework and the
filling of each little tale produce an effect that at least is bound to
have the merit of having been intended. The hap-hazard and the
desultory are avoided not only altogether, but, to analysis, quite
obviously. For this reason indeed the Vignettes have also, I should
think, a certain text-book or "collateral reading" value in the populous
courses now offered by the Universities for the elevation of the
short-story-writing masses. Nothing, one would say, could better
inculcate by explicit example the measured and disciplined practice, the
ship-shape and organic result which--plus, of course, literary
talent--are the elementary excellences of this prevalent form of
literary expression.

"Introductions," too, I may add, are in fashion, and fashion is, as is
well known, inexorable. Otherwise I should not have been asked to write
one about the lighter work of an author who in virtue of a shelf-full of
books comprehending all varieties of literary activity--novels and
tales, biography, autobiography, history, linguistics, literary and
social criticism, the drama, versification and verse as well as prose,
even juvenile fiction--is widely recognized both at home and abroad as
one of the particularly representative men of letters of our time.

W. C. BROWNELL.



CONTENTS

VIGNETTES OF MANHATTAN

                                                                    PAGE

IN THE LITTLE CHURCH DOWN THE STREET                                   3

THE TWENTY-NINTH OF FEBRUARY                                          11

AT A PRIVATE VIEW                                                     21

SPRING IN A SIDE STREET                                               35

A DECORATION-DAY REVERY                                               45

IN SEARCH OF LOCAL COLOR                                              57

BEFORE THE BREAK OF DAY                                               73

A MIDSUMMER MIDNIGHT                                                  87

A VISTA IN CENTRAL PARK                                              107

THE SPEECH OF THE EVENING                                            117

A THANKSGIVING-DAY DINNER                                            131

IN THE MIDST OF LIFE                                                 145


OUTLINES IN LOCAL COLOR

AN INTERVIEW WITH MISS MARLENSPUYK                                   161

A LETTER OF FAREWELL                                                 175

A GLIMPSE OF THE UNDER WORLD                                         189

A WALL STREET WOOING                                                 205

A SPRING FLOOD IN BROADWAY                                           225

THE VIGIL OF MCDOWELL SUTRO                                          241

AN IRREPRESSIBLE CONFLICT                                            263

THE SOLO ORCHESTRA                                                   277

THE REHEARSAL OF THE NEW PLAY                                        295

A CANDLE IN THE PLATE                                                323

MEN AND WOMEN AND HORSES                                             337

IN THE WATCHES OF THE NIGHT                                          357



ILLUSTRATIONS


People who thronged the floor were wellnigh as various
as the paintings                                           _Frontispiece_

FACING PAGE

Distracted by the crossing shouts of loud-voiced
men                                                                   48

Two slim Japanese gentlemen                                          108

Coming from church                                                   134

"Winifred!" he cried                                                 234

"The air was thick and heavy"                                        278

Explanations                                                         340

She almost shivered, the place seemed to her so
cheerless                                                            360



VIGNETTES OF MANHATTAN



IN THE LITTLE CHURCH DOWN THE STREET


The little church stands back from the street, with a scrap of lawn on
either side of the path that winds from the iron gate to the church
door. On this chill January morning the snow lay a foot deep on the
grass-plots, with the water frozen out of it by the midnight wind. The
small fountain on one side was sheathed with ice; and where its tiny
spirtle fell a glittering stalagmite was rising rapidly, so the rotund
sparrows had difficulty in getting at their usual drinking-trough. The
sky was ashen, yet there was a hope that the sun might break out later
in the morning. A sharp breeze blew down the street from the river,
bearing with it, now and again, the tinkle of sleigh-bells from the
Avenue, only fifty yards away.

There was the customary crowd of curious idlers gathered about the gate
as the hearse drew up before it. The pall-bearers alighted from the
carriages which followed, and took up their positions on the sidewalk,
while the undertaker's assistants were lifting out the coffin. Then the
bareheaded and gray-haired rector came from out the church porch, and
went down to the gate to meet the funeral procession. He held the
prayer-book open in his hand, and when he came to the coffin he began to
read the solemn words of the order for the burial of the dead:

"I am the resurrection and the life, saith the Lord: he that believeth
in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and
believeth in me, shall never die."

Preceding the pall-bearers the rector led the way to the church, which
was already filled with the dead actor's comrades and with his friends,
and with mere strangers who had come out of curiosity, and to see
actresses by daylight and off the stage. The interior was dusky,
although the gas had been lighted here and there. The Christmas greens
still twined about the pillars, and still hung in heavy festoons from
the low arched roof. As the coffin passed slowly through the porch, the
rector spoke again:

"We brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry
nothing out. The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the
Name of the Lord."

Throughout the church there was a stir, and all heads were turned
towards the entrance. There were tears in the eyes of more than one man,
for the actor had been a favorite, and not a few women were weeping
silently. In a pew near the door were two young actresses who had been
in the same company with the dead man when he had made his first
appearance on the stage, only three years before; and now, possessed by
the emotion of the moment, these two sobbed aloud. By their side stood a
tall, handsome, fair-haired woman, evidently not an actress; she was
clad in simple black; she gave but a single glance at the coffin as it
passed up the aisle, half hidden by the heaped-up wreaths of flowers,
and then she stared straight before her, with a rigid face, but without
a tear in her eye.

Slowly the rector preceded the pall-bearers up the central aisle of the
church, while the vestured choir began the stately anthem:

"Lord, let me know my end, and the number of my days; that I may be
certified how long I have to live.

"Behold, thou hast made my days as it were a span long, and mine age is
even as nothing in respect of thee; and verily every man living is
altogether vanity."

It was for a young man that this solemn anthem was being sung--for a man
who had died in his twenty-fifth year, at the moment of his first
success, and when life opened temptingly before him. He bore a name
known in American history, and his friends had supposed that he would be
called to the bar, like his father and his grandfather before him. He
was a handsome young fellow, with a speaking eye and a rich, alluring
voice; and his father's friends saw in him a moving advocate. But the
year he was graduated from college his father had died, and his mother
also, and he was left alone in the world. As it happened, his father's
investments were ill-advised, and there was little or no income to be
hoped from them for years. In college he had been the foremost member of
the dramatic club, and in the summer vacations he had taken part in many
private theatricals. Perhaps it had always been his secret wish to
abandon the bar for the stage. While he was debating the course he
should take, chance threw in his way the offer of an engagement in the
company which supported a distinguished tragedian. He had accepted what
opportunity proffered, and it was not as a lawyer but as an actor that
he had made his living; it was as an actor that his funeral was now
being held at "the little church down the street."

While the choir had been singing the anthem, the coffin had been borne
to the chancel and set down before the rail, which was almost concealed
from sight by the flowers scattered about the steps and clustering at
the foot of the pulpit and in front of the reading-desk. The thick and
cloying perfume of the lilies was diffused throughout the church.

The rector had taken his place at the desk in the chancel to read the
appointed lesson, with its message of faith and love. There were sobs to
be heard when he declared that this mortal shall put on immortality.

"Then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is
swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is
thy victory?"

There were those present--old friends of his boyhood, come from afar to
give the dead man the last greeting of affection--who knew how high had
been his hopes when he went upon the stage; and they knew also how hard
that first year had been, with the wearisome drudgery of his
apprenticeship, with the incessant travelling, with ambition baffled by
lack of opportunity. Some of them were aware how the second year of his
career in the theatre had seen a change in his fortunes, and how
discouragement had given place to confidence. There had been dissensions
in the company to which he belonged, and the tragedian had parted with
the actor who played the second parts. Here was a chance for the young
man, and he proved himself worthy of the good-fortune. No more youthful
and fiery Laertes had been seen for years, no more passionate Macduff,
no more artful and persuasive Mark Antony. He had the gifts of
nature--youth, and manly beauty, and the histrionic temperament; and he
had also the artistic intelligence which made the utmost out of his
endowment. Before the end of his second season on the stage he was
recognized as the most promising actor of his years. He had played Mark
Antony for the first time only twelve months before; and now he lay
there in his coffin, and the little church was filled with the actors
and actresses of New York who had come to bid him farewell.

When the rector had finished the reading of the lesson there was a hush
throughout the church. A faint jingle of sleigh-bells came floating down
from the Avenue.

A few straggling rays of sunshine filtered through the windows on the
right side of the little church, and stained with molten colors the
wood-work of the pews on the left. There was a movement among the
members of the vestured choir, and a large and stately woman took her
stand before the organ; she was the contralto of a great opera company,
and it was with skill and power and feeling that she sang "Rock of
Ages."

In a pew between the organ and the pulpit sat a slight, graceful,
dark-eyed and dark-haired woman, young still and charming always,
although the freshness had faded from her face. This was the celebrated
actress with whom the dead man had been acting only a week before. She
was the ideal Juliet--so the theatre-goers thought--and never before had
she been aided by so gallant and so ardent a Romeo. Never before had the
tragedy been produced with so much splendor, and with dramatic effect so
certain and so abundant. Never before had "Romeo and Juliet" been
performed for a hundred and fifty nights without interruption. And for
once the critics had been in accord with the public, so potent was the
glamour of youth and beauty and passion. It was a joy to all discerning
lovers of the drama to see characters so difficult interpreted so
adequately. Thus it was that the tragedy had been played for five months
to overflowing audiences; and its prosperity had been cut short only by
the death of the fiery wooer--of the Romeo who lay now in the coffin
before the chancel, while the Juliet, with the tears gliding down her
cheeks, sat there by the side of the middle-aged merchant she was soon
to marry. The young actor, to catch a glimpse of whom silly school-girls
would watch the stage door, and to whom foolish women sent baskets of
flowers, now lay cold in death, with lilies and lilacs in a heap over
his silent heart.

When the final notes of the contralto's rich and noble voice had died
away, the rector went on with the ritual:

"Man, that is born of a woman, hath but a short time to live, and is
full of misery. He cometh up, and is cut down, like a flower; he fleeth
as it were a shadow, and never continueth in one stay."

The dead man had been the last of his line, and there were no near
kindred at the funeral. There was no mother there, no sister, no wife.
Friends there were, but none of his blood, none who bore his name. Yet
there was a shiver of sympathy as the tiny clods of clay rattled down
upon the coffin lid, and as the rector said "earth to earth, ashes to
ashes, dust to dust."

Then the service drew to an end swiftly, and the pall-bearers formed in
order once again, and the coffin was lifted and carried slowly down the
aisle.

As the sorrowful procession drew near to the open door and passed before
the pew where the tall fair-haired woman stood, stolid, with averted
head, and a stare fixed on the floor, one of the bearers stumbled, but
recovered himself at once. The woman had raised her hand, and she had
checked a cry of warning; but the coffin was borne before her steadily;
and they who bore it little guessed that they were carrying it past the
dry-eyed mother of the dead man's unborn child.

(1893.)



THE TWENTY-NINTH OF FEBRUARY


The Governor of the State and his secretary had just finished their
lunch in one of the private parlors of the hotel. The Governor lighted
his cigar and leaned back in his chair as the secretary went to the door
and admitted an old man who had been patrolling the corridor
impatiently.

"The Governor will see you now, Mr. Baxter," said the secretary.

The old man, tall, thin, and impetuous, strode past the secretary
without a word of thanks, and came straight to where the Governor was
sitting.

"At last!" he cried--"at last I've got a chance to talk to you face to
face. If you only knew how I have longed for this, you would have let me
in before."

"Take a seat, Mr. Baxter," said the Governor, kindly.

"Thank you, but I'd rather stand," replied the old man. "In fact, I'd
rather walk. I don't seem to be able to sit nor to stand when I get
a-talking about the boy. You know why I wanted to see you, I suppose?"
he inquired, suddenly, fixing the Governor with a penetrating stare.

"You wish to urge your son's pardon, I take it," the Governor answered;
"and I am ready to listen to you. I have all the papers here," and he
indicated a bundle of documents at his elbow. "I have just been reading
them."

"But the men who wrote those papers didn't know my boy as I know him,
and they can't tell you about him as I can tell you. He's in jail, and
he's been there nearly three years, and he's twenty-four years old
to-day--for to-day's his birthday--but he's only a boy for all that. He
isn't a man yet, to be judged as a man, and to take a man's punishment.
I can't tell you that he didn't shoot the fellow, for he did; but he did
it in his anger, and he was sorely tempted; and what's more, he did it
in self-defence. Oh, I know that wasn't brought out on the trial, but
just you read this," and he tore open his coat and pulled out a package
of papers; selecting one of them, he thrust it into the Governor's
hands. "That's from the man who sold Bowles a pistol and a knife on the
28th of February, the day before the fight. Then you read this too," and
he picked out a second letter, and gave that to the Governor with the
same impatient and imperious gesture. "That's from one of Bowles's
friends, the fellow who was with him just before the shot was fired. He
kept quiet at the trial, and said as little as he could. He knew that I
was sick a-bed, and so he held his peace. But I've been at him ever
since I got about again, and now I've pinned him down. And there's the
result; the truth must prevail in the end always. There, in that letter,
he says that Bowles had that pistol on his person on the morning of the
29th; and that if it wasn't found on the body, it was because Bowles
dropped it as he fell. The pistol was picked up that night under a plank
in the sidewalk. It was this same friend of Bowles's who found it then,
and he said nothing--the cur! Even at the trial he said nothing! But I
knew he had something to say, and at last I made him speak. He's telling
the truth now, and the whole truth. Read the letter and see if it isn't.
He hated my boy; and he said he wanted to see him swing; but I made him
write that letter. And if that isn't enough, I'll put him on the stand,
and I'll make him swear to every word of it."

The Governor adjusted his glasses, and began to read the letters thus
forcibly placed in his hands.

In his eagerness to be heard, the old man could not brook even this
delay, and as the Governor laid down the first letter, he broke forth
again: "To-day's his birthday, the first he's had since the shooting,
the first that he's ever spent away from me. He was born on the 29th of
February, and he has a birthday only once in four years; and it was just
four years ago to-day that he got into this scrape, and fired the shot
that caused us all this trouble. He was twenty years old that morning,
for he was born in 1864; that was the year when General Grant was
getting ready to smash Jeff Davis and the rebels; that's why we called
him Grant--out of gratitude for the saving of the country. Sometimes I
think it's a pity he hadn't been born twenty years before, so that he
could have died at Cold Harbor like a man, without ever having seen the
inside of a jail. But it was to be, I suppose. Our lives are laid out
for us, I suppose. Maybe a boy born on the 29th of February is different
from other boys; I don't know. He was loved more than most boys; I know
that well enough. I was raised on Cape Cod, and my father never gave me
a caress; though I guess he loved me, too, in his way. But I moved out
to Lake Erie when I was married, and out by the edge of the lake we
waited, my wife and I, for a man-child to be born to us. And we waited a
score of years and more; and when Grant came at last, he was our only
child. Both his sisters had died in their cradles. So he was the son of
our old age. Maybe we spoiled him. Surely we spared the rod. Why, we
loved him too much ever to say a hard word to him. In the main he was a
good boy, too--wild at times, and skittish--but always loving and easily
led. His mother had only to look, and he'd jump to serve her. So we let
him do as he pleased, and most generally he pleased us. Perhaps I gave
him too much rope; I've often thought so, now I see how near he came to
hanging himself. But he was a good boy, and devoted to his mother
always. And she loved him--oh! how she loved him!--more than she loved
her husband, I know, fond as she was of me."

Here the old man paused in his vehement speech, and turned away
abruptly.

"Is Mrs. Baxter with you here in the city?" the Governor asked, gently.

"Here--in the city?" cried the old man, facing about sharply. "She's at
home--in the cemetery! That's where she is. She drooped as soon as ever
he was arrested, but she bore up till the trial was over, hoping that he
might get off somehow, not believing that her boy could be found guilty.
But when he was sent off to Auburn to serve fifteen years for
manslaughter, why, then there wasn't anything left for her to live for
any longer, with all the joy of her life locked up in a stone cell. So
she took to her bed, and she died. She faded away; she had lost her
interest in life, and so she gave up. Now the boy's all I have, and I
want you to give him back to me. That's what I've come down here for.
That's what I've been pursuing you for these six months. The boy is all
I have. I want to see him back at the old home on the lake before I
die--and I can't live much longer, I guess. I'm seventy now, and for all
I look hale and hearty, there's something the matter with my heart, the
doctors say, and I may go out any time, like a candle in a gale of wind.
Well, give me back the boy, and I'm ready to die. Let me see him at home
once more, a free man, and I'll carry the good news to the old woman
whenever the call comes, and gladly."

He paused for a moment, and his impassioned speech had lost a little of
its fierce fire.

The Governor took up the second letter and began to read it. The
movement of the Governor's hand as he raised the paper aroused the old
man again.

"If the District Attorney had done his duty by the people of the State
it wouldn't have been left for me to wring the truth out of that coward
whose letter you are reading. Sometimes I half think this cur was at the
bottom of the whole thing. It was he who introduced Grant to the woman.
You know that the wedding was to have taken place that very night--the
night of the shooting? Yes, it all came out on the trial. Grant only had
one birthday in four years, as I've been telling you, and so he
persuaded the girl to set it as the wedding-day too. And he was just
twenty--a mere boy. It was no wonder they took advantage of him. If
you've read the report you can see how she deceived him. Even the
District Attorney admitted that, bitter as he was against the boy. Ah!
if I could only have been in court at the trial! If I had only been in
town the day when the boy discovered the truth, he wouldn't have shot
that villain, for I'd have done it myself."

"Then who would have come to me to ask for your pardon?" inquired the
Governor, smiling kindly. "I have read these letters, but they contain
nothing that is new to me, and--"

"Nothing new?" interrupted the old man, violently. "That letter shows
that Grant fired in self-defence, since the fellow had a pistol in his
hand. Isn't that something new?"

"Not to me, for the District Attorney--against whom you seem to have a
prejudice, Mr. Baxter--had already informed me of this."

"If you've been listening to him, I suppose there isn't much hope of my
getting what I'm after," the old man returned, hotly; "for no man ever
spoke more unfairly against another than that man did against my boy."

"You do him injustice," the Governor said, firmly. "He did his duty at
the trial in pressing for sentence, and he has done his duty now in
laying before me this newly discovered evidence. He has even gone
further; he has urged me to accede to your request for your son's
pardon."

"The District Attorney?" cried the old man in surprise.

"Yes," the Governor replied.

"Then his conscience has pricked him at last."

"And it is chiefly in consequence of his recommendation that I have
decided to pardon your son," the Governor continued.

"I don't care on whose urging it is, so long as it's done," the old man
rejoined. "When can the boy come out?" he asked, eagerly.

"I will let you bear the pardon to him," said the Governor, and he
unfolded one of the papers which lay on the table by his side and signed
it. "Here it is."

The old man seized the paper with a convulsive clutch. His knees
trembled as his eyes read the pardon swiftly.

The door of the parlor opened, and the secretary returned.

The old man grasped his hat. "Do you know when the next train leaves for
Auburn?" he inquired, hastily.

"There's one at four o'clock, I think," the secretary answered.

"I shall be in time," said the old man; and then, the pardon in his
twitching fingers, he left the parlor without another word. He passed
quickly through the corridors of the hotel, down the stairs, and out
into the street. When he reached the pavement he stood still for a
moment and bared his head, quite unconscious of the rain-storm which had
broken but a minute before.

A small boy came running to him across the street, crying, "Evening
papers--four o'clock _Gazette_!"

Seemingly the old man did not hear him.

"Terrible loss of life!" the newsboy shrilled out, as he moved away.
"Riot at Auburn! Attempted escape of the prisoners!"

Then a clutch of iron was fastened on the newsboy's arm, and the old man
towered above him, asking hoarsely: "What's that you say? A loss of
life in the prison at Auburn? Give me the paper!"

He seized it. On the first page was a despatch from Auburn stating that
there had been a rising of the convicts at the State-prison, which the
wardens had been able to repress after it had gained headway. The
prisoners had yielded and gone back to their cells only after the
wardens had fired on them, wounding half a dozen and killing the
ringleader, who had fought desperately. He was a young man from one of
the lake villages, sentenced to fifteen years for manslaughter; his name
was Grant Baxter.

As the old man read this, the paper slipped from his fingers, and he
fell on the sidewalk dead, still tightly grasping the pardon.

(1889.)



AT A PRIVATE VIEW


When the Spring Exhibition opened, March had thrown off its lion's skin,
and stood revealed as a lamb. There was no tang to the wind that swept
the swirling dust down the broad street; and the moonlight which
silvered the Renascence front of the building had no longer a wintry
chill. Flitting clouds were thickening, and threatened rain; but the
carriages, rolling up to the canvas tunnel which had been extemporized
across the sidewalk, brought many a pretty woman who had risked a spring
bonnet. Not a few of the ladies who had been bidden to the Private View
were in evening dress; and it was a brilliant throng which pressed down
the broad corridor, past the dressing-rooms, and into the first gallery,
where the President of the Society, surrounded by other artists of
renown, stood ready to receive them.

Beyond the first gallery, and up half a dozen steps, was a smaller
saloon, with a square room yet smaller to its right and to its left.
Still farther beyond, and up a few more steps, was the main gallery, a
splendid and stately hall, lofty and well proportioned, and worthy of
the many fine paintings which lined its walls two and three deep. In
the place of honor, facing the entrance, was Mr. Frederick Olyphant's
startling picture, "The Question of the Sphinx," which bore on its
simple frame the bit of paper declaring that it had received a silver
medal at the Salon of the summer before. In a corner was another
painting by the same artist, a portrait of his friend Mr. Laurence
Laughton; and balancing this, on the other side of a landscape called "A
Sunset at Onteora," was a portrait of Mr. Rupert de Ruyter, the poet, by
a young artist named Renwick Brashleigh, painted vigorously yet
sympathetically, and quite extinguishing the impressionistic "Girl in a
Hammock," which hung next to it. Here and there throughout the spacious
room there were statuettes and busts; one of the latter represented
Astroyd, the amusing comedian. Landscapes drenched with sunshine hung by
the side of wintry marines; and delicate studies of still life set off
purely decorative compositions painted almost in monochrome.

The people who thronged the floor were wellnigh as various as the
paintings which covered the walls. There were artists in plenty, men of
letters and men about town, women who lived for art and women who lived
for society, visitors of both sexes who came to see the exhibition, and
visitors of both sexes who came to be seen themselves. There were
art-students and art-critics, picture-buyers and picture-dealers, poets
and novelists, stock-brokers and clergymen. Among them were Mr. Robert
White, of the _Gotham Gazette_, and Mr. Harry Brackett, formerly
attached to that journal; Mr. Rupert de Ruyter, who could not be kept
away from his own portrait; Mr. Delancey Jones, the architect, with his
pretty wife; Mr. J. Warren Payn, the composer; Mr. and Mrs. Martin, of
Washington Square; and Miss Marlenspuyk, an old maid, who seemed to know
everybody and to be liked by everybody.

Miss Marlenspuyk lingered before Olyphant's portrait of Laurence
Laughton, whom she had known for years. She liked the picture until she
overheard two young art-students discussing it.

"It's a pity Olyphant hasn't any idea of color, isn't it?" observed one.

"Yes," assented the other; "and the head is hopelessly out of drawing."

"The man has a paintable face, too," the first rejoined. "I'd like to do
him myself."

"Olyphant's well enough for composition," the second returned, "but when
it comes to portraits, he simply isn't in it with Brashleigh. Seen his
two yet?"

"Whose?" inquired the first speaker.

"Brashleigh's," was the answer. "Biggest things here. And as different
as they make 'em. Best is a Wall Street man--Poole, I think, his name
is."

"I know," the first interrupted. "Cyrus Poole; he's president of a big
railroad somewhere out West. Lots of money. I wonder how Brashleigh got
the job?"

"Guess he did Rupert de Ruyter for nothing. You know De Ruyter wrote him
up in one of the magazines."

The two young art-students stood before the portrait a few seconds
longer, looking at it intently. Then they moved off, the first speaker
saying, "That head's out of drawing too."

It gave Miss Marlenspuyk something of a shock to learn that the heads of
two of her friends were out of drawing; she wondered how serious the
deformity might be; she felt for a moment almost as though she were
acquainted with two of the startlingly abnormal specimens of humanity
who are to be seen in dime museums. As these suggestions came to her one
after the other, she smiled gently.

"I don't wonder that you are laughing at that picture, Miss
Marlenspuyk," said a voice at her right. "It's no better than the
regulation 'Sunset on the Lake of Chromo,' that you can buy on Liberty
Street for five dollars, with a frame worth twice the money."

Miss Marlenspuyk turned, and recognized Mr. Robert White. She held out
her hand cordially.

"Is your wife here?" she asked.

"Harry Brackett is explaining the pictures to her," White answered. "He
doesn't know anything about art, but he is just as amusing as if he
did."

"I like Mr. Brackett," the old maid rejoined. "He's a little--well, a
little common, I fear; but then he is so quaint and so individual in his
views. And at my time of life I like to be amused."

"I know your fondness for a new sensation," White returned. "I believe
you wouldn't object to having the devil take you in to dinner."

"Why should I object?" responded Miss Marlenspuyk, bravely. "The devil
is a gentleman, they say; and besides, I should be so glad to get the
latest news of lots of my friends."

"Speaking of the gentleman who is not as black as he is painted," said
White, "have you seen the portrait of Cyrus Poole yet? It is the best
thing here. I didn't know Brashleigh had it in him to do anything so
good."

"Where is it?" asked Miss Marlenspuyk. "I've been looking at this Mr.
Brashleigh's portrait of Mr. De Ruyter, and--"

"Pretty little thing, isn't it?" White interrupted. "Perhaps a trifle
too sentimental and saccharine. But it hits off the poet to the life."

"And life is just what I don't find in so many of these portraits," the
lady remarked. "Some of them look as though the artist had first made a
wax model of his sitter and then painted that."

They moved slowly through the throng towards the other end of the
gallery.

"Charley Vaughn, now, has another trick," said White, indicating a
picture before them with a slight gesture. "Since he has been to Paris
and studied under Carolus he translates all his sitters into French,
and then puts the translation on canvas."

The picture White had drawn attention to represented a lady dressed for
a ball, and standing before a mirror adjusting a feather in her hair. It
was a portrait of Mrs. Delancey Jones, the wife of the architect.

Miss Marlenspuyk raised her glasses, and looked at it for a moment
critically. Then she smiled. "It is the usual thing, now, I see," she
said--"intimations of immorality."

White laughed, as they resumed their march around the hall.

"If you say that of Charley Vaughn's picture," he commented, "I wonder
what you will say of Renwick Brashleigh's. Here it is."

And they came to a halt before the painting which had the place of honor
in the centre of the wall on that side of the gallery.

"That is Cyrus Poole," White continued. "President of the Niobrara
Central, one of the rising men of the Street, and now away in Europe on
his honeymoon."

The picture bore the number 13, and the catalogue declared it to be a
"Portrait of a Gentleman." It was a large canvas, and the figure was
life size. It represented a man of barely forty years of age, seated at
his desk in his private office. On the wall beyond him hung a map of the
Niobrara Central Railroad with its branches. The light came from the
window on the left, against which the desk was placed. The pose was that
of a man who had been interrupted in his work, and who had swung around
in his chair to talk to a visitor. He was a man to be picked out of a
crowd as unlike other men, rather spare, rather below medium height,
rather wiry than muscular. Beyond all question he was energetic,
untiring, determined, and powerful. The way he sat indicated the
consciousness of strength. So did his expression, although there was no
trace of conceit to be detected on his features. His hair was dark and
thick and straight, with scarce a touch of gray. He had a sharp nose and
piercing eyes, while his lips were thin and his jaw massive.

Miss Marlenspuyk looked at the picture with interest. "Yes," she said,
"I don't wonder this has made a hit. There is something striking about
it--something novel. It's a new note; that's what it is. And the man is
interesting too. He has a masterful chin. Not a man to be henpecked, I
take it. And he's a good provider, too, judging by the eyes and the
mouth; I don't believe that his wife will ever have to turn her best
black silk. There's something fascinating about the face, but I don't
see how--"

She interrupted herself, and gazed at the picture again.

"Is it a good likeness?" she asked at last, with her eyes still fixed on
the portrait.

"It's so like him that I wouldn't speak to it," White answered.

"I see what you mean," the old lady responded. "Yes, if the man really
looks like that, nobody would want to speak to him. I wouldn't have this
artist--what's his name?--Mr. Brashleigh?--I wouldn't have him paint my
portrait for the world. Why, if he did, and my friends once saw it,
there isn't one of them who would ever dare to ask me to dinner again."

White smiled, and quickly responded, "As I said before, you know, even
the gentleman you wanted to take you in to dinner is probably not as
black as he is painted."

"But I wouldn't want that man to take me in to dinner," returned Miss
Marlenspuyk, promptly, indicating the portrait with a wave of her hand.
"Paint is all very well; besides, it is only on the outside, and women
don't mind it; but it is that man's _heart_ that is black. It is his
inner man that is so terrible. He fascinates me--yes--but he frightens
me too. Who is he?"

"I told you," White answered. "He is Mr. Cyrus Poole, the president of
the Niobrara Central Railroad, and one of the coming men in the Street.
He turned up in Denver ten years ago, and when he had learned all that
Denver had to teach him he went to Chicago. He graduated from the Board
of Trade there, and then came to New York; he has been here two years
now, and already he has made himself felt. He has engineered two or
three of the biggest things yet seen in the Street. As a result there
are now two opinions about him."

"If this portrait is true," said the old maid, "I don't see how there
can be more than one opinion about him."

"There were three at first," White rejoined. "At first they thought he
was a lamb; now they know better. But they are still in doubt whether he
is square or not. They say that the deal by which he captured the stock
of the Niobrara Central and made himself president had this little
peculiarity, that if it hadn't succeeded, instead of being in Europe on
his honeymoon, Cyrus Poole would now be in Sing Sing. Why, if half they
said about him at the time _is_ true--instead of hanging here on the
line, he ought to have been hanged at the end of a rope. But then I
don't believe half that I hear."

"I could believe anything of a man who looks like that," Miss
Marlenspuyk said. "I don't think I ever saw a face so evil, for all it
appears frank and almost friendly."

"But I have told you only one side," White went on. "Poole has partisans
who deny all the charges against him. They say that his only crime is
his success. They declare that he has got into trouble more than once
trying to help friends out. While his enemies call him unscrupulous and
vindictive, his friends say that he is loyal and lucky."

Miss Marlenspuyk said nothing for a minute or more. She was studying the
portrait with an interest which showed no sign of flagging. Suddenly she
looked up at White and asked, "Do you suppose he knows how this picture
affects us?"

"Poole?" queried White. "No, I imagine not. He is a better judge of
values as they are understood in Wall Street than as they are
interpreted at the Art Students' League. Besides, I've heard that he was
married and went to Europe before the picture was quite finished.
Brashleigh had to paint in the background afterwards."

"The poor girl!" said Miss Marlenspuyk. "Who was she?"

"What poor girl?" asked the man. "Oh, you mean the new Mrs. Cyrus
Poole?"

"Yes," responded the old lady.

"She was a Miss Cameron," White answered; "Eunice Cameron, I think her
name was. I believe that she is a cousin of Brashleigh's. By-the-way, I
suppose that's how it happened he was asked to paint this portrait. He
is one of the progressive painters a Wall Street man wouldn't be likely
to appreciate off-hand. But it couldn't have been given to a better man,
could it?"

Miss Marlenspuyk smiled.

"Well," said White, "Brashleigh has a marvellous insight into character;
you can see that for yourself. Or at least he paints portraits as if he
had; it's hard to tell about these artists, of course, and it's easy to
credit them with more than they have. They see so much more than they
understand; they have the gift, you know, but they can't explain; and
half the time they don't know what it is they have done."

The old lady looked up and laughed a little.

"I think the man who painted that," she said, "knew what he was about."

"Yes," White admitted, "it seems as though no one could do a thing with
the astounding vigor of this, unconsciously. But, as like as not, what
Brashleigh thought about chiefly was his drawing and his brush-work and
his values; probably the revelation of the sitter's soul was an
accident. He did it because he couldn't help it."

"I don't agree with you, for once," Miss Marlenspuyk replied. "I find in
this portrait such an appreciation of the possibilities of human
villany. Oh, the man _must_ have seen it before he painted it!"

"It's lucky I'm not a painter by trade," returned White, "or I should
feel it my duty to annihilate you on the spot by the retort that laymen
always look at painting from the literary side."

Miss Marlenspuyk did not respond for a minute. She was looking at the
portrait with curious interest. She glanced aside, and then she gazed at
it again.

"Poor girl!" she said at last, with a gentle sigh.

"Meaning Mrs. Poole?" White inquired.

"Yes," the old lady answered. "I'm sorry for her, but I think I
understand how she had to give in. I can feel the sinister fascination
of that face myself."

Above the babble of many tongues which filled the gallery there was to
be heard a rumble of thunder, and then the sharp patter of rain on the
huge skylight above them.

"Excuse me, Miss Marlenspuyk," said White, hastily, "but my wife is
always a little nervous about thunder now. I must look her up. I'll send
you Harry Brackett."

"You needn't mind about me," she answered, as he moved away. "I've taken
care of myself for a good many years now, and I think I'm still equal to
the task."

The hall was densely crowded by this time, and it was becoming more and
more difficult to make one's way in any given direction. The rain fell
heavily on the roof, and dominated the rising murmur of the throng, and
even the shrill voices now and again heard above it.

Miss Marlenspuyk drifted aimlessly with the crowd, looking at the
pictures occasionally, and listening with interest to the comments and
the fragmentary criticisms she could not help hearing on all sides of
her. She found herself standing before Mr. Charles Vaughn's "Judgment of
Paris," when she was accosted by Harry Brackett.

"I've been looking for you everywhere, Miss Marlenspuyk," he began.
"White said you were here or hereabouts, and I haven't seen you for many
moons."

They chatted for a few minutes about their last meeting, and the friends
at whose house they had dined.

Then Harry Brackett, looking up, saw the huge painting before them.

"So Charley Vaughn's 'Judgment of Paris' is a Salon picture, is it?" he
asked. "It looks to me better fitted for a saloon. It's one of those
nudes that Renwick Brashleigh says are offensive alike to the artist,
the moralist, and the voluptuary."

Miss Marlenspuyk smiled; and her smile was one of her greatest charms.

"Do you know Mr. Brashleigh?" she asked.

"I've known him ever since he came back from Paris," Brackett answered.
"And he's a painter, he is. He isn't one of those young dudes who teach
society girls how to foreshorten the moon. You don't catch him going
round to afternoon teas and talking about the Spontaneity of Art."

"Have you seen his portrait of this Mr. Poole?" she inquired.

"Not yet," he replied, "but they tell me it's a dandy. I've never met
Poole, but I used to know his wife. She was Eunice Cameron, and she's a
cousin of Brashleigh's. Come to think of it, his first hit was a
portrait of her at the Academy three years ago."

"What sort of a girl is she?" Miss Marlenspuyk asked.

"For one thing, she's a good-looker," he responded, "although they say
she's gone off a little lately; I haven't seen her this year. But when
Brashleigh introduced me to her she was a mighty pretty girl, I can tell
you."

The pressure of the crowd had carried them along, and now Miss
Marlenspuyk found herself once more in front of the "Portrait of a
Gentleman," and once more she was seized by the power and by the evil
which the artist had painted on the face of Cyrus Poole.

"They used to say," Harry Brackett went on, not looking at the picture,
"that Brashleigh was in love with her. I think somebody or other once
told me that they were engaged."

There was a sudden gleam of intelligence in Miss Marlenspuyk's eyes.

"But of course there wasn't any truth in it," he continued.

The smile came back to the old maid's mouth as she gazed steadily at the
portrait before her and answered, "Of course not."

(1893.)



SPRING IN A SIDE STREET


In the city the spring comes earlier than it does in the country, and
the horse-chestnuts in the sheltered squares sometimes break into
blossom a fortnight before their brethren in the open fields. That year
the spring came earlier than usual, both in the country and in the city,
for March, going out like a lion, made an April-fool of the following
month, and the huge banks of snow heaped high by the sidewalks vanished
in three or four days, leaving the gutters only a little thicker with
mud than they are accustomed to be. Very trying to the convalescent was
the uncertain weather, with its obvious inability to know its own mind,
with its dark fog one morning and its brisk wind in the afternoon, with
its mid-day as bright as June and its sudden chill descending before
nightfall.

Yet when the last week of April came, and the grass in the little square
around the corner was green again, and the shrubs were beginning to
flower out, the sick man also felt his vigor returning. His strength
came back with the spring, and restored health sent fresh blood coursing
through his veins as the sap was rising in the branches of the tree
before his window. He had had a hard struggle, he knew, although he did
not suspect that more than once he had wrestled with death itself. Now
his appetite had awakened again, and he had more force to withstand the
brooding sadness which sought to master him.

The tree before his window was but a shabby sycamore, and the window
belonged to a hall bedroom in a shabby boarding-house down a side
street. The young man himself lay back in the steamer chair lent him by
one of the few friends he had in town, and his overcoat was thrown over
his knees. His hands, shrunken yet sinewy, lay crossed upon a book in
his lap. His body was wasted by sickness, but the frame was well knit
and solid. His face was still white and thin, although the yellow pallor
of the sick-bed had gone already. His scanty boyish beard that curled
about his chin had not been trimmed for two months, and his uncut brown
hair fell thickly on the collar of his coat. His dark eyes bore the mark
of recent suffering, but they revealed also a steadfast soul, strong to
withstand misfortune.

His room was on the north side of the street, and the morning sun was
reflected into his window, as he lay back in the chair, grateful for the
warmth. A heavy cart lumbered along slowly over the worn and irregular
pavement; it came to a stand at the corner, and a gang of workmen
swiftly emptied it of the steel rails it contained, dropping them on
the sidewalk one by one with a loud clang which reverberated harshly far
down the street. From the little knot of men who were relaying the
horse-car track came cries of command, and then a rail would drop into
position, and be spiked swiftly to its place. Then the laborers would
draw aside while an arrested horse-car urged forward again, with the
regular footfall of its one horse, as audible above the mighty roar of
the metropolis as the jingle of the little bell on the horse's collar.
At last there came from over the house-tops a loud whistle of escaping
steam, followed shortly by a dozen similar signals, proclaiming the
mid-day rest. A rail or two more clanged down on the others, and then
the cart rumbled away. The workmen relaying the track had already seated
themselves on the curb to eat their dinner, while one of them had gone
to the saloon at the corner for a large can of the new beer advertised
in the window by the gaudy lithograph of a frisky young goat bearing a
plump young goddess on his back.

The invalid was glad of the respite from the more violent noises of
track-layers, for his head was not yet as clear as it might be, and his
nerves were strained by pain. He leaned forward and looked down at the
street below, catching the eye of a young man who was bawling
"Straw-b'rees! straw-b'rees!" at the top of an unmelodious voice. The
invalid smiled, for he knew that the street venders of strawberries were
an infallible sign of spring--an indication of its arrival as
indisputable as the small square labels announcing that three of the
houses opposite to him were "To Let." The first of May was at hand. He
wondered whether the flower-market in Union Square had already opened;
and he recalled the early mornings of the preceding spring, when the
girl he loved, the girl who had promised to marry him, had gone with him
to Union Square to pick out young roses and full-blown geraniums worthy
to bloom in the windows of her parlor looking out on Central Park.

He thought of her often that morning, and without bitterness, though
their engagement had been broken in the fall, three months or more
before he was taken sick. He had not seen her since Christmas, and he
found himself wondering how she would look that afternoon, and whether
she was happy. His revery was broken by the jangling notes of an
ill-tuned piano in the next house, separated from his little room only
by a thin party-wall. Some one was trying to pick out the simple tune of
"Wait till the Clouds roll by." Seemingly it was the practice hour for
one of the children next door, whose playful voices he had often heard.
Seemingly also the task was unpleasant, for the piano and the tune and
the hearer suffered from the ill-will of the childish performer.

A sudden hammering of a street rail in the street below notified him the
nooning was over, and that the workmen had gone back to their labors.
Somehow he had failed to hear the stroke of one from the steeple of the
church at the corner of the Avenue, a short block away. Now he became
conscious of a permeating odor, and he knew that the luncheon hour of
the boarding-house had arrived. He had waked early, and his breakfast
had been very light. He felt ready for food, and he was glad when the
servant brought him up a plate of cold beef and a saucer of prunes. His
appetite was excellent, and he ate with relish and enjoyment.

When he had made an end of his unpretending meal, he leaned back again
in his chair. A turbulent wind blew the dust of the street high in the
air and set swinging the budding branches of the sycamore before the
window. As he looked at the tender green of the young leaves dancing
before him in the sunlight he felt the spring-time stir his blood; he
was strong again with the strength of youth; he was able to cope with
all morbid fancies, and to cast away all repining. He wished himself in
the country--somewhere where there were brooks and groves and
grass--somewhere where there were quiet and rest and surcease of
noise--somewhere where there were time and space to think out the past
and to plan out the future resolutely--somewhere where there were not
two hand-organs at opposite ends of the block vying which should be the
more violent, one playing "Annie Laurie" and the other "Annie Rooney."
He winced as the struggle between the two organs attained its height,
while the child next door pounded the piano more viciously than before.
Then he smiled.

With returning health, why should he mind petty annoyances? In a week or
so he would be able to go back to the store and to begin again to earn
his own living. No doubt the work would be hard at first, but hard work
was what he needed now. For the sake of its results in the future, and
for its own sake also, he needed severe labor. Other young men there
were a plenty in the thick of the struggle, but he knew himself as stout
of heart as any in the whole city, and why might not fortune favor him
too? With money and power and position he could hold his own in New
York; and perhaps some of those who thought little of him now would then
be glad to know him.

While he lay back in the steamer chair in his hall room the shadows
began to lengthen a little, and the long day drew nearer to its end.
When next he roused himself the hand-organs had both gone away, and the
child next door had given over her practising, and the street was quiet
again, save for the high notes of a soprano voice singing a florid aria
by an open window in the Conservatory of Music in the next block, and
save also for an unusual rattle of vehicles drawing up almost in front
of the door of the boarding-house. With an effort he raised himself, and
saw a line of carriages on the other side of the way, moving slowly
towards the corner. A swirling sand-storm sprang up again in the street
below, and a simoom of dust almost hid from him the faces of those who
sat in the carriages--young girls dressed in light colors, and young men
with buttoned frock-coats. They were chatting easily; now and again a
gay laugh rang out.

He wondered if it were time for the wedding. With difficulty he twisted
himself in his chair and took from the bureau behind him an envelope
containing the wedding-cards. The ceremony was fixed for three. He
looked at his watch, and he saw that it lacked but a few minutes of that
hour. His hand trembled a little as he put the watch back in his pocket;
and he gazed steadily into space until the bell in the steeple of the
church at the corner of the Avenue struck three times. The hour
appointed for the wedding had arrived. There were still carriages
driving up swiftly to deposit belated guests.

The convalescent young man in the little hall bedroom of the shabby
boarding-house in the side street was not yet strong enough to venture
out in the spring sunshine and to be present at the ceremony. But as he
lay there in the rickety steamer chair with the old overcoat across his
knees, he had no difficulty in evoking the scene in the church. He saw
the middle-aged groom standing at the rail awaiting the bride. He heard
the solemn and yet joyous strains of the wedding-march. He saw the bride
pass slowly up the aisle on the arm of her father, with the lace veil
scarcely lighter or fairer than her own filmy hair. He wondered whether
she would be pale, and whether her conscience would reproach her as she
stood at the altar. He heard the clergyman ask the questions and
pronounce the benediction. He saw the new-made wife go down the aisle
again on the arm of her husband. He sighed wearily, and lay back in his
chair with his eyes closed, as though to keep out the unwelcome vision.
He did not move when the carriages again crowded past his door, and went
up to the church porch one after another in answer to hoarse calls from
conflicting voices.

He lay there for a long while motionless and silent. He was thinking
about himself, about his hopes, which had been as bright as the sunshine
of spring, about his bitter disappointment. He was pondering on the
mysteries of the universe, and asking himself whether he could be of any
use to the world--for he still had high ambitions. He was wondering what
might be the value of any one man's labor for his fellow-men, and he
thought harshly of the order of things. He said to himself that we all
slip out of sight when we die, and the waters close over us, for the
best of us are soon forgotten, and so are the worst, since it makes
little difference whether the coin you throw into the pool is gold or
copper--the rarer metal does not make the more ripples. Then, as he saw
the long shafts of almost level sunshine sifting through the tiny
leaves of the tree before his window, he took heart again as he recalled
the great things accomplished by one man. He gave over his mood of
self-pity; and he even smiled at the unconscious conceit of his attitude
towards himself.

He was recalled from his long revery by the thundering of a heavy
fire-engine, which crashed its way down the street, with its rattling
hose-reel tearing along after it. In the stillness that followed, broken
only by the warning whistles of the engine as it crossed avenue after
avenue farther and farther east, he found time to remember that every
man's struggle forward helps along the advance of mankind at large; the
humble fireman who does his duty and dies serves the cause of humanity.

The swift twilight of New York was almost upon him when he was next
distracted from his thoughts by the crossing shouts of loud-voiced men
bawling forth a catchpenny extra of a third-rate evening paper. The
cries arose from both sides of the street at once, and they ceased while
the fellows sold a paper here and there to the householders whose
curiosity called them to the door-step.

The sky was clear, and a single star shone out sharply. The air was
fresh, and yet balmy. The clanging of rails had ceased an hour before,
and the gang of men who were spiking the iron into place had dispersed
each to his own home. The day was drawing to an end. Again there was an
odor of cooking diffused through the house, heralding the dinner-hour.

But the young man who lay back in the steamer chair in the hall bedroom
of the boarding-house was unconscious of all except his own thoughts.
Before him was a picture of a train of cars speeding along moonlit
valleys, and casting a hurrying shadow. In this train, as he saw it, was
the bride of that afternoon, borne away by the side of her husband. But
it was the bride he saw, and not the husband. He saw her pale face and
her luminous eyes and her ashen-gold hair; and he wondered whether in
the years to come she would be as happy as if she had kept her promise
to marry him.

(1896.)



A DECORATION-DAY REVERY


There had been a late spring, set off by frequent rain; and when
Decoration Day dawned there was a fresh fairness of foliage, as though
Nature were making ready her garlands for our honored dead. When at
length the march began, the sunshine sifted through the timid verdure of
the trees in the square, and fell softly on the swaying ranks that
passed beneath. The golden beams glinted from the slanting bayonets, and
seemed to keep time with the valiant old war-tunes as they swelled up
from the frequent bands. There was a contagion of military ardor in the
air, and even the small boy who had climbed up into the safe eyry of a
dismantled lamp-post had within him inarticulate stirrings of warlike
ambition. In the pauses of the music fifes shrilled out, and the roll
and rattle of drums covered the rhythmic tramping of the soldiers. I
lingered for a while near the noble statue of the great admiral, who
stood there firm on his feet, with the sea-breeze blowing back the skirt
of his coat, and so presented by the art of the sculptor that the
motionless bronze seemed more alive than most of the ordinary men and
women who clustered about its base. Here, I thought, was the fit
memorial of the man who had done his duty in the long struggle, to the
heroes of which the day was sacred; and I was glad that the marching
thousands should pass in review before that mute image of the best and
bravest our country can bring forth. At that moment a detachment of
sailors swung into view, and cheers of hearty greeting broke forth on
all sides.

As I loitered, musing, a battalion of our little army strode by us in
turn, with soldierly bearing, clad in no gaudy garb, but ready for their
bloody work; ready with cold steel to give a cold welcome to the
invading foreigner, ready with a prompt volley to put an end to lawless
strife at home. After an interval came the first ranks of the citizen
soldiery, trim in their workmanlike uniforms, with stretchers, with
ambulances, with Gatling-guns. One after another advanced the regiments
of the city militia, and no man need doubt that they would be as swift
now to go forward to battle as were their former fellow-members whose
deeds gave them the right to bear flags emblazoned with more than one
battle as hard fought as Marathon or Philippi, Fontenoy or Waterloo. As
they swept on down the Avenue in the morning sunlight, with the strident
music veiled now and again by ringing cheers, my thoughts went back to
the many other thousands I had seen go down that Avenue, now more than
a quarter of a century ago, coming from the pine forests and the granite
hills of New England, and going to the silent swamps and the dark bayous
of the South. In those drear days of doubt I had watched the ceaseless
tramp of the troops down that Avenue, a thousand at a time--young,
earnest, ardent; and I remembered that I had seen them return but a
scant hundred or two, it may be, worn and ragged, foot-sore and
heart-sick, but resolute yet and full of grit. Death, like the maddened
peasants in the strife of the Jacquerie, fights with a scythe; and for
four long years Time held a slow glass and Death mowed a broad swath.
There is many a house now where an old woman cannot hear the trivial
notes of "Tramp, tramp, tramp, the boys are marching," without a sharp
pain in the throat and a sudden vision of the prison-pen at
Andersonville. No doubt there is many another woman south of that Mason
and Dixon's line which was washed out in the blood of the war where the
sentimental strains of "My Maryland" have an equal poignancy and an
equal tenderness. Shiloh and Malvern Hill and Gettysburg are names made
sacred forever by the deeds done there, and by the dead who lie there
side by side in a common grave, where the gray cloth and the blue have
faded into dust alike, and there is now naught to tell them apart. It is
well that a spring day, fresh after rain and fair with blossoms, should
help to keep their memory sweet.

Down the Avenue regiment after regiment went on briskly, with the easy
pace of health and enjoyment. After the young men of the militia came
the veterans, with flowers for their fallen comrades. Some of the older
men were in carriages, with here and there a crutch across the seat; but
for the most part they walked, keeping time, no doubt, though with a
shorter stride. As a handful of brave men filed before us, bearing aloft
the tattered remnant of a battle-flag, I raised my hat with instinctive
reverence. For a moment the gesture shielded my eyes from the rays of
the sun, and I caught sight of a group in the window of a house
opposite. A lady, tall and stately, wearing a widow's cap above her gray
hair as though it were a crown, stood in the centre with her hands on
the shoulders of two young men--her sons, beyond all question--stalwart
young fellows, with features at once fine and strong, bearing themselves
with manly grace. I looked, and I recognized. When I lowered my eyes
again to the procession I saw another set of faces that I knew by sight.
In a carriage sat a man of some fifty years, stout, vulgar, with a cigar
alight in the coarse hand which rested on the door of the vehicle. He
had a shock of hair, once reddish and now grizzling to an unclean white.
He wore in his button-hole the button of the Grand Army of the Republic.
In the open barouche with him were three youngish men, noisy in
laughter--apparently professional politicians of the baser sort.

[Illustration: "DISTRACTED BY THE CROSSING SHOUTS OF LOUD-VOICED MEN"]

The man bowed effusively, with a broad and unctuous smile, when he saw a
friend on the sidewalk; and the crowd about me recognized him, and
called him by name one to another; and a little knot of young fellows on
the corner raised a cheer.

I knew both groups, the unclean creature in the carriage and the noble
lady in the window above him. I knew that both were survivals of the
war.

As the procession passed on, I could hear an occasional cheer run along
the line of spectators when one or another recognized the politician. I
was not surprised, for the man's popularity with a portion of the people
is patent to all of us. He was a soldier who had never fired a shot, a
colonel who had never seen the enemy. His tactical skill had been shown
in the securing of a detail for himself where there was chance of profit
with no risk of danger. His strategy had been to secure the good word of
those who dispensed the good things of life.

While others were battling for the country he was looking out for
himself. When the war was over he presented his claims for recognition,
and he was sent as consul to the Orient. In due time there came across
the ocean rumors of scandals, and an investigation was ordered;
whereupon he resigned, and the matter was never probed. Then he went
into politics: he was ready of speech and loud-mouthed; he flattered the
mob, believing that in politics the blarney-stone is the stepping-stone
to success. He never paused to weigh his words when he assailed an
opponent, believing that in politics billingsgate is the gate of
success. He was prompt to set people by the ears that he might lead them
by the nose the more readily. As though to make up for his delinquencies
during the struggle, he was now untiring in his abuse of the Southern
people, and his denunciation of them was always violent and virulent. In
every election he besought his fellow-citizens to vote as they had shot.
He was unfailingly bitter in his abuse of those who had fought for the
cause of the South. He was, in short, a specimen of the scum which may
float on the surface whenever there is an upheaval of the deep.

Brutal in political debate and brazen in political chicanery, he was a
fit leader for the band of hirelings he had organized with no small
skill. His position was not unlike that of the _condottieri_ of the
foreign mercenaries in the mediæval quarrels of the Italian republics.
Like them, he led a compact body, prompt to obey orders so long as it
received the pay and had hopes of the plunder for which it was
organized. Although he belonged nominally to one of the two great
parties which contended for the control of the nation, he was always
ready to turn his forces against it if his pay and his proportion of the
spoils of office failed to satisfy himself and his men-at-arms; or even
in revenge for a slight, and in hope of higher remuneration from the
other side.

For me, as I stood on the corner under Farragut's statue and watched the
veterans file past, the knowledge of this man's career, and the sight of
his presence among those who had fought a good fight for a high motive,
seemed to tarnish the sacred occasion and to stain the glory of the
morning. Again I looked up at the window where I had seen the lady with
her two sons. She was still there, leaning forward a little, as though
in involuntary excitement, and one hand clinched the arm of the
soldierly young fellow at her right. The sight of those three refreshed
me, for I knew who they were, and what they stood for in the history of
our country--a shining example in the past and a beacon of hope for the
future. The widow's cap which crowns the brow of that mother brought up
before me the memory of a deed as noble as it was simple.

A fife-and-drum corps of boys dressed as sailors preceded a model of a
monitor mounted on wheels and artfully adorned with flowers and wreaths.
Behind this came the scanty score of old sailors who had formed
themselves into Post Rodman R. Hardy. When they came abreast of the
window where the lady stood with her two sons, they looked up and
cheered. The eyes of Captain Hardy's widow had filled with tears when
she caught sight of his old comrades; and when they cheered her and her
boys her face flushed and the arm which rested on her son's trembled.
She bowed, the two young men raised their hats, and the Post passed on
down the Avenue to perform their sad office; though they might not deck
with flowers the grave of their old commander, for he lies buried at the
bottom of the sea, and great guns were firing many a salute with shot
and shell when his body was lowered into its everlasting resting-place.

I have heard it said that a soldier's trade is learning how to kill and
how to die, and that how he lives is little matter. Captain Hardy lived
like a man, like a gentleman, like a Christian; and he died like a hero.
He came of a generation of sailors. His great-grandfather had sailed
with the fleet under Amherst when Louisburg was taken in 1758. His
grandfather had been a midshipman with Paul Jones in the _Bonhomme
Richard_. His father served on "Old Ironsides" when the _Constitution_
captured the _Guerrière_. He himself had gone to sea in time to take
part in the siege of Vera Cruz. When the war broke out he had been
married but three years. He was on the _Cumberland_ when the _Merrimac_
sank her. While the new monitors were building he had a few brief weeks
with his wife and his two baby boys. When the _Onteora_ was finished he
was a captain, and he was appointed to take command.

And there was no monitor which did better service or had more hard work
than the _Onteora_. Just before the grand attack on Fort Davis he ran
under the guns of a Confederate battery to shell a cruiser which had
retreated up the river behind the strip of land on which the earthworks
stood. Regardless of the fire from the battery, which bade fair to
hammer his ship till it might become unmanageable, he trained his guns
on the cruiser. He had no more than got the range when a fog settled
down and hid the combatants from each other. The battery ceased firing
or aimed wildly a few chance shots. The monitor, relying on the accuracy
of its gunners, continued to send shell after shell through the thick
wall of fog to the invisible place where the enemy's ship lay. When the
fog lifted, the cruiser was on fire; and then the monitor fell back out
of the range of the guns of the battery, having done the work Captain
Hardy had set it to do.

The next day came the grand assault on Fort Davis. The admiral ordered
the _Onteora_ to follow the flag-ship in the attack. The channel was
defended not only by the cannon of the fort itself and of its supporting
earthworks and by a flotilla of gunboats, but also by hidden torpedoes,
the position of which was wholly unknown even to the pilots, Union men
of the port who had volunteered to guide our vessels through the
tortuous windings of the entrance. The iron ship was made ready for
battle; its deck was sunk level with the surface of the sea; and nothing
projected but the revolving turret, with its two huge guns. In the
little box of a pilot-house Captain Hardy took his place with the pilot.
The admiral gave the signal to advance, and the _Onteora_ followed in
the wake of the flag-ship.

The first turning of the channel was made safely, and the monitor was at
last full under the fire of the fort. The turret revolved slowly, and
both guns were discharged against a pert gunboat which had ventured out
beyond the protection of the fort. The second shot struck the
steam-chest of the gunboat, and it blew up and drifted at the mercy of
the current. Still the admiral advanced, and the _Onteora_ followed.
Then a sudden shock was felt, there was a dull roar, the monitor
shivered from stem to stern, and began to settle. A torpedo had blown a
hole in the bottom of the boat, and the _Onteora_ was sinking. Almost at
the same time a shot from Fort Davis struck the turret, and a fragment
smote Captain Hardy and tore off his right arm. In the scant seconds
after the explosion of the torpedo, before the shuddering ship lurched
down, half a score of men escaped from the turret and flung themselves
into the river. The captain had barely time to climb into the open air
when his ship went down beneath him. When he arose from the vortex of
whirling waters his unwounded hand grasped a chance fragment of wood,
which served to sustain him despite the weakness from his open wound. He
found himself by the side of the pilot, who was struggling vainly with
the waves, his strength almost spent.

"Can't you swim?" asked Captain Hardy.

"Only a little," answered the pilot; "and I am almost gone now, I fear."

"Take this bit of wood," said the sailor.

The pilot reached out his arm and with despairing fingers gripped the
broken plank. It was too small to support two men, and Captain Hardy
released his hold. He sought to sustain himself with one hand, and for a
little he succeeded. Then his strength failed him, and at last he went
under almost where the _Onteora_ had sunk beneath him. The battle raged
above; shell from ship after ship answered shell from the fort and the
batteries; another ironclad took up the work of the _Onteora_; brave
hearts and quick heads were at work on sea and on shore; but Rodman
Hardy was dead at the bottom of the river, leaving to his widow and his
sons the heritage of a manly death.

The widow's cap which the young wife took that night she has never
discarded to this day. His sons she has brought up to follow in their
father's footsteps. One has already begun to make his mark in the navy,
having been graduated from Annapolis, high up in his class. The other is
a lawyer, who is solving for himself the problem of the scholar in
politics. Although not yet thirty, he has spent two terms in the
Legislature of the State, where he has done yeoman service for the city.

The parade was over at last--for the Rodman R. Hardy Post had been one
of the latest in line--and I turned away across the square. The sight
of the widow with her two sons had cleansed the atmosphere from the
miasma that trailed behind the politician as he rode by me in his vulgar
barouche. The memory of a great deed is an oasis in the vista of life,
and the recollection of Captain Hardy's death made the day seem fairer.
The sunshine flooded the streets with molten gold. A pair of young
sparrows flitted across the park before me and alighted on a bough above
my head. From over the house-tops came floating echoes of "John Brown's
Body" and "Marching through Georgia."

(1890.)



IN SEARCH OF LOCAL COLOR


The novelist stood at the corner of Rivington Street and the Bowery,
trying to find fit words to formulate his impression of the most
characteristic of New York streets as it appeared on a humid morning in
June. The elevated trains clattered past over his head and he gave no
heed to them, so intent was he in making a mental record of the types
which passed before him. Suddenly he was almost thrown off his feet. A
young man, slipping on the peel of a banana cast away carelessly upon
the sidewalk, had stumbled heavily against him.

"I beg your pardon," cried the young man as he recovered himself.
"I--why, Mr. De Ruyter!" he exclaimed, recognizing the author.

"John Suydam!" returned Rupert de Ruyter, holding out his hand
cordially. "Well, this is good-fortune! Do you know, I was on my way to
the University Settlement to look you up."

"You would have found me there in ten minutes," Suydam answered. "This
is my week to be in residence; in fact, I think I shall be here for the
summer now. You see, I passed my A.M. examination at Columbia last
week--"

"So they examine you for it now, eh?" the novelist queried. "In my time
we got it almost for the asking--at least, I did--and that was only
twenty years ago. What are you going to do with it, now you've got it? I
heard you were to study for the ministry."

"I had thought of the Church," answered Suydam. He was a tall, spare
young fellow, with straight brown hair and a resolute chin. "But I don't
know now what I shall do. I have a little money, you know--enough to
live on, if I choose. So I may stay here at the Settlement; the work is
very interesting."

"No doubt," the novelist responded, readily; "you must see many curious
cases. I wish I could cut loose for a while, and spend a month with you
here."

"Why don't you?" suggested Suydam, eagerly.

"Oh, I have too much on hand," De Ruyter replied. "I've got to read the
Phi Beta Kappa poem at Harvard next week; and besides, I've promised to
finish a series of New York stories for the _Metropolis_. That is why I
was on my way to find you this morning. I want you to help me."

"But I never wrote a story in my life," said the young man, promptly.

"I don't want you to write the stories," De Ruyter retorted. "Of course
I can do that for myself. But I thought that you could help me to a
little local color."

"Local color?" echoed Suydam, doubtfully.

"Yes," the novelist went on, "local color--that's what I want--fresh
impressions."

"I don't quite see--" the young man began, hesitatingly.

"Oh, I can explain what I want," Rupert de Ruyter interrupted. "You see,
I'm a New-Yorker born, as you are, and I've lived here all my life, and
I know the city pretty well--that is, I know certain aspects of it
thoroughly. I can do the Patriarchs, or a Claremont tea, or any other
function of the smart set; I know the way men talk in clubs; I've
studied the painters and the literary men and the journalists; I can
describe a first night at the theatre or a panic in the Street; but I've
pretty nearly exhausted the people I know, and I thought I would come
down here and get introduced to a set I didn't know."

"I shall be glad to take you to the Settlement," Suydam responded,
"and--"

"It isn't the Settlement I want, thank you," De Ruyter interrupted. "The
people in the Settlement are variants of types I know already. The
people I want to meet are people I don't know anything about--the very
poor people, the tenement-house people, the people who work for the
sweaters. Do you know any of those?"

"Yes," Suydam answered, "I know many of them. But they are not half so
picturesque and so pathetic as the sensational newspapers make them
out. Wouldn't you rather go and see the Chinese quarter?"

"That isn't what I want," the novelist made answer. "The Chinese quarter
is barbarous; it is exotic; it is extraneous; it is a mere accidental
excrescence on New York. But the tenement-house people have come to
stay; they are an integral and a vital part of the city. I don't care
about Chinatown, and I do care about Mulberry Bend. Now, Suydam, you
know Mulberry Bend, don't you?"

"Yes," Suydam returned. "I know Mulberry Bend."

"Do you know any tenement-house in the Bend, or near it, which is
characteristic--which is typical of the worst that the Bend has to
show?" De Ruyter asked.

"Yes," Suydam responded again. "I think I could find a tenement of that
kind."

"Then take me there now, if you can spare me an hour or two," said the
novelist.

"I can put off my errand till this afternoon," the young man answered.
"I think I can show you what you want. Come with me."

They had been standing where they had met, at the corner of the Bowery
and Rivington Street. Now, under John Suydam's guidance, they walked a
little way up the Bowery, beneath the single track of the elevated
railroad. Then they turned into a side street, and pushed their way
westward.

Whenever they came to a crossing De Ruyter remarked that three of the
corners always, and four of them sometimes, were saloons. The broad gilt
signs over the open doors of these bar-rooms bore names either German or
Irish, until they came to a corner where one of the saloons called
itself the Caffè Cristoforo Colombo. A wooden stand, down the side
street, and taking up a third of the width of the walk, had a sign
announcing ice-cold soda-water at two cents a glass with fruit syrups;
with chocolate and cream, the price was three cents. Right on the corner
of the curb stood a large wash-tub half filled with water, in which
soaked doubtful young cabbages and sprouts; its guardian was a thin slip
of a girl with a red handkerchief knotted over her head.

At this corner Suydam turned out of the side street, and went down a
street no wider perhaps, but extending north and south in a devious and
hesitating way not common in the streets of New York. The sidewalks of
this sinuous street were inconveniently narrow for its crowded
population, and they were made still narrower by tolerated encroachments
of one kind or another. Here, for instance, from the side of a small
shop projected a stand on which unshelled pease wilted under the strong
rays of the young June sun. There, for example, were steps down to the
low basement, and in a corner of the hollow at the foot of these stairs
there might be a pail with dingy ice packed about a can of alleged
ice-cream, or else a board bore half a dozen tough brown loaves, also
proffered for sale to the chance customer. Here and there, again, the
dwellers in the tall tenements had brought chairs to the common door,
and were seated, comfortably conversing with their neighbors, regardless
of the fact that they thus blocked the sidewalk, and compelled the
passer-by to go out into the street itself.

And the street was as densely packed as the sidewalk. In front of Suydam
and De Ruyter as they picked their way along was a swarthy young fellow
with his flannel shirt open at the throat and rolled up on his tawny
arms; he was pushing before him a hand-cart heaped with gayly colored
calicoes. Other hand-carts there were, from which other men, young and
old, were vending other wares--fruit more often than not; fruit of a
most untempting frowziness. Now and then a huge wagon came lumbering
through the street, heaped high with lofty cases of furniture from a
rumbling and clattering factory near the corner. And before the heavy
horses of this wagon the children scattered, waiting till the last
moment of possible escape. There were countless children, and they were
forever swarming out of the houses and up from the cellars and over the
sidewalks and up and down the street. They were of all ages, from the
babe in the arms of its dumpy, thick-set mother to the sweet-faced and
dark-eyed girl of ten or twelve really, though she might seem a
precocious fourteen. They ran wild in the street; they played about the
knees of their mothers, who sat gossiping in the doorways; they hung
over the railing of the fire-escapes, which gridironed the front of
every tall house.

Everywhere had the Italians treated the balcony of the fire-escape as an
out-door room added to their scant accommodation. They adorned it with
flowers growing in broken wooden boxes; they used its railings to dry
their parti-colored flannel shirts; they sat out on it as though it were
the loggia of a villa in their native land.

Everywhere, also, were noises and smells. The roar of the metropolis was
here sharpened by the rattle of near machinery heard through open
windows, and by the incessant clatter and shrill cries of the multitude
in the street. The rancid odor of ill-kept kitchens mingled with the
mitigated effluvium of decaying fruits and vegetables.

But over and beyond the noises and the smells and the bustling business
of the throng, Rupert de Ruyter felt as though he were receiving an
impression of life itself. It was as if he had caught a glimpse of the
mighty movement of existence, incessant and inevitable. What he saw did
not strike him as pitiful; it did not weigh him down with despondency.
The spectacle before him was not beautiful; it was not even picturesque;
but never for a moment, even, did it strike him as pathetic. Interesting
it was, of a certainty--unfailingly interesting.

"I haven't found anything so Italian as this for years," he said to his
guide, as they picked their way through a tangle of babies sprawling out
of a doorway. "I remember seeing nothing more Italian in my first walk
in Italy--up the hill-side at Menaggio, after we landed from the boat to
Como. Some of the faces here are of a purer Greek type than any you meet
in northern Italy. Did you see that young mother we passed just now?"

"The one nursing the infant?" Suydam returned.

"Yes," De Ruyter went on. "She had the oval face and the olive
complexion the Greeks left behind them in Sicily. She was not pretty, if
you like, but she had the calm beauty of a race of sculptors. Her
profile might have come off a Syracusan coin. And to see such a face
here, in the city that was New Amsterdam and is New York!"

"We haven't time down here to think of Syracuse and New Amsterdam," said
Suydam; "we are too busy thinking about New York. And if we ever do
think of Sicily it is only to remember that the Sicilians we have here
are the hottest tempered of all the Italians, the most revengeful and
vindictive."

"If I didn't know," the novelist remarked, "that the Italians had
developed their mercantile faculty at the expense of all their artistic
impulses, I should wonder how it was that scions of the race of Michael
Angelo and Leonardo da Vinci and Raffael of Urbino could now be willing
to live in a house as hideous as that!" and with a sweep of his hand he
indicated a lofty double tenement, made uglier by much misplaced
ornament. "It isn't even picturesque by decay. In fact, this whole
region is in better repair than I had expected."

"Look at the house behind you," answered his companion.

The house behind them was one of the oldest tenements in the street. The
balconies of its fire-escape were as cluttered as those of the
neighboring dwellings; and every window gave signs that the room behind
was inhabited. Yet the building, as a whole, seemed neglected.

"This house does seem out at elbows and dishevelled," De Ruyter
admitted. "It looks like a tramp, doesn't it?"

"It does not look very clean," said Suydam. "And the back building is
dirtier yet. That's where we are going, if you like."

"Well," De Ruyter answered, "if there is local color to be found
anywhere round here, I guess we shall find a fair share of it in this
place."

"This way, then," Suydam said, plunging into a covered alleyway, which
extended under the house, and led into a small yard paved with uneven
flag-stones, and shut in on all four sides by the surrounding buildings.
Even on that sunny pure morning there was a dank chill in the air, and
there were patches of moisture here and there on the pavement.

"The new building laws don't allow back buildings of this sort," Suydam
explained. "But there are thousands of them in the city, put up before
the new laws went into effect. Perhaps we had better try the basement
first."

In one corner of the yard half a dozen steps led down into the basement
of the back building. Followed by the novelist, the young man from the
University Settlement went down these steps and into the cellarlike
room, which occupied about half the space under the back building.

The air in this room was so foul that De Ruyter held his breath for a
moment. The room was not more than twelve feet square; its walls were
unplastered, showing the coarse foundation-stones; its floor was of
earth, trodden to hardness, except where the drippings from the
beer-cans had moistened it; the beams of the floor above seemed rotten.
In the damp heat of this room ten or a dozen men and boys were seated on
old chairs and on broken boxes, smoking, playing cards by the light of a
single foul and flaring kerosene-lamp, and drinking the dregs of
beer-kegs collected in old cans.

The inhabitants of the cellar looked up as Suydam and De Ruyter entered,
and then they resumed their previous occupations, with no further
attention to the intruders.

The man nearest to the door was a powerfully built fellow of fifty,
with gray hair cropped close to his head. He was playing cards. He had a
knife thrust in his leathern belt.

"Good-morning, Giacomo," said Suydam to this grizzled brute. "I haven't
heard of you for a long while now. When did you get off the Island?"

"Las' week," was the gruff answer.

"And where is your wife now?" the young man asked.

"She work," answered Giacomo.

Suydam did not pursue the conversation further. Judging that the
novelist had seen enough, he turned and went up the rickety steps again,
followed by his friend.

"Ouf!" said De Ruyter, drawing a long breath, as they stood again in the
cramped yard. "I don't see how they can breathe that air and live."

"They don't live," answered Suydam--"at least, the weaker are soon
pushed to the wall and die, leaving only the tougher specimens you saw.
Now we will go up-stairs, if you like."

"I'm ready," De Ruyter responded. "This is exactly what I came to see."

In the centre of the back building there was an entry. The door was off
its hinges. Just inside the passage were the stairs, with the railing
broken, and many of the steps dangerously decayed. There was little
light as they went up, and a rank odor of decaying fish accompanied
them.

At the head of the stairs there was a door on either hand. Suydam
knocked at them in turn, and then tried to open them; but they were
locked, and there was no response to the repeated hammerings.

"I say," remarked the novelist, as they went up to the floor above, "do
these people like to have us intrude on them in this way?"

"Some don't," Suydam answered, promptly, "and of course I try never to
intrude. But most of them don't mind. Most of them have no sense of
home. Most of them don't know what privacy means. How could they?"

"True," echoed the novelist. "How could they?"

"Here is an exemplification of what I mean," said the young man from the
Settlement as they came to the next landing.

The door leading into the room on the right was open. The room was
perhaps ten feet square; it contained two beds. On one of the beds a man
sat cross-legged sewing; he glanced up for a moment only as the two
visitors darkened the doorway, and then he went on with his work. On the
other bed were two little children, half naked and asleep; one was a boy
of three, the other a girl of nearly two. On the edge of this bed sat a
tall boy of seventeen, also sewing. In the narrow alley between the two
beds were two sewing-machines, one tended by a girl of fifteen or
sixteen perhaps, a thin, stunted child, with bent shoulders. The other
machine was operated by the mother of these children, a large-framed
woman of forty, with the noble head so often seen among the
Trasteverines.

She knew Suydam, and she smiled.

"Good-mornin'," she said.

"Good-morning," responded Suydam. "I am showing a friend over the
building. You seem a little crowded here."

"Not crowd' now," she answered. "Only one boarder now," and she
indicated the man seated cross-legged on the bed. "Last week two."

"Where is your husband?" asked the young man.

"Oh, he got another girl," she replied, with a vague gesture, apparently
of disapproval.

Suydam and De Ruyter went a floor higher, glancing into the rooms which
were open. Suydam knew most of the inhabitants, and they seemed glad to
see him. Evidently they looked on him as a friend.

On the top floor, under the steps which led to the roof, was a den
scarce six feet by eight. Small as it was, this room had better
furniture than most of those De Ruyter had seen; it contained evidences
of a desire to make a home. There were violent chromos pinned to the
wall. The bed had a parti-colored coverlet. The sole inhabitant was a
tall, dark Italian with fiery eyes. He was cooking macaroni with ropy
cheese over an oil-lamp. His door was ajar only.

"Good-morning, Pietro," said Suydam, cheerfully.

Pietro obeyed his first impulse, and shut the door swiftly. Then he
changed his mind, for he opened the door and peered out suspiciously.
Recognizing Suydam, he was about to throw it wide, when he caught sight
of De Ruyter. There was a moment of hesitancy, and then he took his hand
from the knob of the door and went on with his cooking.

"I am showing my friend over the building," explained Suydam.

The Italian said nothing. Apparently his cooking absorbed all his
attention. But he gave De Ruyter a searching glance.

Suydam turned to the novelist. "This is Pietro Barretti," he said; "he
is one of the most expert layers of mosaic in America. He is from
Naples; that's the reason he cooks macaroni so well, I suppose."

"Certainly I haven't seen macaroni cooked that way since I was in Naples
last," the novelist remarked, for the sake of talk, not knowing just
what to make of the Italian's manner.

"Your wife not here?" asked Suydam.

"No," the Italian answered, abruptly.

"Where is she?" persisted the young man.

"She mort," responded Barretti.

"Dead?" Suydam cried. "That is very sad. When did she die?"

"Ten days," the Italian replied.

When Suydam and De Ruyter had made an end of their visit, and were going
down the stairs cautiously, the young man from the University Settlement
asked the novelist if he had seen anything interesting.

"Oh yes," was the answer. "I've got lots of color; just what I wanted.
And that Italian whose wife was mort--he's copy, I'm sure."

"Copy?" queried Suydam.

"I mean I can use him in one of my sketches for the _Metropolis_," the
novelist explained. "I wish I knew what his wife was like."

"She was a pretty girl--dark-haired, dark-eyed, with a lively smile,"
Suydam said. "He was very jealous of her. I've been told they used to
quarrel bitterly."

"I shouldn't like to have that fellow for an enemy," De Ruyter declared,
as they passed through the alleyway and came out in the open air. "He
has an eye like a glass stiletto."

The novelist and the young man from the University Settlement walked up
the street together. As they drew near to a police-station, jealously
guarded by its green lamps, three officers came out and turned down the
street.

When the policemen were abreast of the two friends, one of them stepped
aside and accosted the young man from the Settlement.

"Mr. Suydam," he said, "you gentlemen from the Settlement sometimes know
what's going on better than we do. Have you seen Pietro Barretti
lately--the one they call Italian Pete?"

"I saw him not ten minutes ago--in his own room," Suydam answered.

"He's all right, boys," cried the policeman. "He's there."

"Do you want him?" asked Suydam.

"Don't we?" the policeman replied, promptly. "We've got to bring him
in."

"What has he done?" De Ruyter inquired.

"Oh, he's done enough!" responded the officer. "He murdered his wife
last week, that's what he's done."

Suydam looked at De Ruyter.

"Yes," said De Ruyter, "that completes the picture. I can get a good
_mot de la fin_ now."

(1893.)



BEFORE THE BREAK OF DAY


She lived in a little wooden house on the corner of the street huddled
in the shadow of two towering tenements. There are a few frail buildings
of this sort still left in that part of the city, half a mile east of
the Bowery and half a mile south of Tompkins Square, where the
architecture is as irregular, as crowded, and as little cared for as the
population. Amid the old private houses erected for a single family, and
now violently altered to accommodate eight or ten--amid the tall new
tenements, stark and ugly--here and there one can still find wooden
houses built before the city expanded, half a century old now, worn and
shabby and needlessly ashamed in the presence of every new edifice no
better than they. With the peak of their shingled roofs they are
pathetic survivals of a time when New York still remembered that it had
been New Amsterdam, and when it did not build its dwellings in imitation
of the polyglot loftiness of the Tower of Babel. It was in one of these
little houses with white clapboarded walls, ashen gray in the paling
moonlight, that Maggie O'Donnell lay fast asleep, when the bell in a
far-off steeple tolled three in the morning of the day that was to be
the Fourth of July.

She was asleep in the larger of the two little rooms over the saloon. In
that part of the city there are saloons on every corner almost, and
sometimes two and three in a block. The signs over the doors of most of
these saloons and over the doors of the groceries and of the bakeries
and of the other shops bear strangely foreign names. The German quarter
of the city is not far off, nor is the Italian, nor the Chinese; but
hereabouts the houses are packed with Poles chiefly, and chiefly
Jews--industrious, docile, and saving. Not until midnight had the whir
of the sewing-machines ceased in the tenements which occupied the three
other corners. The sign over the door of the saloon above which Maggie
lay fast asleep bore an Irish name, the name of her husband, Terence
O'Donnell. But the modest boards which displayed his name were overawed
by the huge signs that flanked them, filling a goodly share of the wall
on either street and proclaiming the "McGown's Pass Brewery, Kelly &
Company."

These brewer's signs were so large that they made the little house seem
even smaller than it was--and it was not more than twenty feet square.
The doors of the saloon were right at the corner, of course, to catch
trade. On one street there were two windows, and on the other one window
and a door over which was the sign "Family Entrance." This door opened
into a little passage, from which access could be had to the saloon, and
from which also arose the narrow stairs leading to the home of Terence
O'Donnell and Maggie, his wife, on the floor above. The saloon filled
the whole ground-floor except the space taken up by this entry and the
stairs. A single jet of gas had burned dimly over the bar ever since
Terry had locked up a little after midnight. The bar curved across the
saloon, and behind it the sideboard with its bevelled-edge mirrors lined
the two inner walls. The sideboard glittered with glasses built up in
tiers, and a lemon lay yellow at the top of every pyramid. The
beer-pumps were in the centre under the bar; at one end was the small
iron safe where Terence kept his money; and at the other end, against
the wall, just behind the door which opened into the Family Entrance,
was a telephone.

Up-stairs there were two little rooms and a closet or two. The smaller
of the rooms Maggie had turned into a kitchen and dining-room. The
larger--the one on the corner--was their bedroom, and here Maggie lay
asleep. The night was close and warm, and though the windows were open,
the little white curtains hung limp and motionless. The day before had
been hot and cloudless, so the brick buildings on the three other
corners had stored up heat for fifteen hours, and had been giving it out
ever since the sun had set. Stifling as it was, Maggie O'Donnell slept
heavily. It was after midnight when Terry had kissed her at the door,
and she had been asleep for three hours. Already there were faint hints
of the coming day, for here in New York the sun rises early on the
Fourth of July--at half-past four. A breeze began to blow lazily up from
the East River and fluttered the curtains feebly. Maggie tossed
uneasily, reached out her hand, and said "Terry."

Suddenly she was wide awake. For a moment she looked stupidly at the
empty place beside her, and then she remembered that Terry would be gone
all night, working hard on the boat and the barges making ready for the
picnic. She turned again, but sleep had left her. She lay quietly in bed
listening; she could catch nothing but the heavy rumble of a brewery
wagon in the next street and the hesitating toot of a Sound steamer.
Then she heard afar off three or four shots of a revolver, and she knew
that some young fellow was up early, and had already begun to celebrate
the Fourth on the roof of the tenement where he lived.

She tried to go to sleep, but the effort was hopeless. She was awakened
fully, and she knew that there was small chance of her dropping off into
slumber again. More than once she had wakened like this in the middle of
the night, an hour or so before daybreak, and then she had to lie there
in bed quietly listening to Terry's regular breathing. She lay there now
alone, thinking of Terry, grateful for his goodness to her, and happy in
his love. She lay there alone, wondering where she would be now if Terry
had not taken pity on her.

Then all at once she raised herself in bed, and held her breath and
listened. For a second she thought she heard a noise in the saloon below
her. She was not nervous in the least, but she wished Terry had not left
so much money in the safe; and this was the first night he had been away
from her since they had been married--nearly two years ago. She strained
her ears, but the sound was not repeated. She sank back on the pillow
again, making sure that it was a rat dropping down from the bar, where
he had been picking up the crumbs of cheese. There were many rats in the
cellar, and sometimes they ventured up even to the bedroom and the
kitchen next door.

Time was when it would have taken a loud noise to wake the girl who was
now Terence O'Donnell's wife out of a sound sleep. After her mother
died, when Maggie was not five years old, her father had moved into one
of the worst tenements in the city, a ram-shackle old barrack just at
the edge of Hell's Kitchen; and there was never any quiet there, day or
night, in the house or in the street. There was always a row of some
sort going on, whatever the hour of the day; if profanity and riot could
keep a girl awake she would never have had any sleep there. But Maggie
did not recall that she had been a wakeful child; indeed, she remembered
that she could sleep at any time and anywhere. On the hot summer nights,
when her father came home intoxicated, she would steal away and climb
up to the roof and lie down there, slumbering as healthily as though she
were in their only room.

Even then her father used to get drunk often, on Saturday night always,
and frequently once or twice in the middle of the week. And when he had
taken too much he was mad always. If he found her at home he beat her.
She could recall distinctly the first time her father had knocked her
down, but the oaths that had accompanied the blow she had forgotten. He
had not knocked her down often, but he had sworn at her every day of her
life. The vocabulary of profanity was the first that her infant ears had
learned to distinguish.

Her father quit drinking for a month after he married again. They moved
away from Hell's Kitchen to a better house near the East River. All went
well for a little while, and her step-mother was good to her. But her
father went back to his old ways again, and soon his new wife turned out
to be no better. When the fit was on they quarrelled with each other,
and they took turns in beating Maggie, if she were not quick to make her
escape. It was when aiming a blow at Maggie one Saturday night that her
father pitched forward and fell down a flight of the tenement-house
stairs, and was picked up dead. The neighbors carried him up to the room
where his wife lay in a liquorish stupor.

Maggie was nearly fourteen then. She went on living with her
step-mother, who got her a place in a box-factory. The first days of
work were the happiest of Maggie's girlhood. She remembered the joy
which she felt at her ability to earn money; it gave her a sense of
being her own mistress, of being able to hold her own in the world. And
she made friends among the other girls. One of them, Sadie McDermott,
had a brother Jim, who used to come around on Saturday night and tease
his sister for money. Jim belonged to a gang, and he never worked if he
could help it. He had no trade. Maggie remembered the Saturday night
when she and Sadie had walked home together, and when Jim got mad
because his sister would not divide her wages with him. He snatched her
pocket-book and started to run. When Maggie reproved him with an oath
and caught him by one arm, he threw her off so roughly that she fell and
struck her head on a lamp-post so hard that she fainted.

As Maggie lay in her bed that Fourth of July morning, while her past
life unrolled itself before her like a panorama, she knew that the scar
on the side of her head was not the worst wound Jim McDermott had dealt
her. As she looked back, she wondered how she had ever been friendly
with him; how she had let him follow her about; how she had allowed him
to make love to her. It was on Jim McDermott's account that she had had
the quarrel with her step-mother. Having robbed a drunken man of five
dollars, Jim had invited Maggie to a picnic; and the step-mother, a
little drunker than usual that evening, had said that if Maggie went
with him she would not be received again. Maggie was not one to take a
dare, and she told Jim she would go with him in the morning. The
step-mother cursed her for an ungrateful girl; and when Maggie returned
with him from the picnic late the next night, and came to the door of
the room where she and her step-mother lived, they found it locked
against her, and all Maggie's possessions tied in a bundle, and
scornfully left outside on the landing.

It had not taken Jim long that night to persuade Maggie to go away with
him; and she had not seen her step-mother since. A week later, but not
before he and Maggie had quarrelled, Jim was arrested for robbing the
drunken man; he was sent up to the Island. Since the picnic Maggie had
not been back to the factory. Jim had taken her with him one night to a
dance-hall, and there she went without him when she was left alone in
the world. There she had met Terry a month later. When she first saw
Terry the thing plainest before her was the Morgue; she was on the way
there, and she was going fast, and she knew it. Although winter had not
yet come, she had already a cough that racked her day and night.

And as she lay there in her comfortable bed, and thought of the chill of
the Morgue from which Terry had saved her, she closed her eyes to keep
out the dreadful picture, and she clinched her fists across her
forehead. Then she smiled as she remembered the way Terry had thrashed
Jim, who had got off the Island somehow before his time was up. Jim said
he had a pull with the police, and he came to her for money, and he
threatened to have her taken up. It was then Terry had the scrap with
him, and did him up. Terry had had a day off, for his boss kept closed
on Sundays; at that time Terry was keeping bar at a high-toned café near
Gramercy Park.

When he thrashed Jim that was not the first time Terry had been good to
her. Nor was it the last. A fortnight later he took her away from the
dance-hall, and as soon as he could get a day off he married her. They
went down to the Tombs, and the judge married them. The judge knew
Terry, and when he had kissed the bride he congratulated Terry, and said
that the new-made husband was a lucky man, and that he had got a good
wife.

A good wife Maggie knew she had been, and she was sure she brought Terry
luck. When the man who had been running the house which now bore the
name of Terence O'Donnell over its door got into trouble and had to skip
the country, the boss had put Terry in charge, and had let Maggie go to
house-keeping in the little rooms over the saloon; and when the boss
died suddenly, his widow knew Terry was honest, and sold out the place
to him, cheap, on the instalment plan. That was a year and a half ago,
and all the instalments had been paid except the last, which was not
due for a week yet, though the money for it lay all ready in the safe
down-stairs. And Terry was doing well; he was popular; his friends would
come two blocks out of the way to get a drink at his place; and he had
just had a chance to go into a picnic speculation. He was sure to make
money; and perhaps in two or three years they might be able to pay off
the mortgage on the fixtures. Then they would be rich; and perhaps Terry
would get into politics.

Suddenly the current of Maggie's thoughts was arrested. From the floor
below there came sounds, confused and muffled, and yet unmistakable.
Maggie listened, motionless, and then she got out of bed quickly. She
knew that there was some one in the saloon down-stairs; and at that hour
no one could be there for a good purpose. Whoever was there was a thief.
Perhaps it was some one of the toughs of the neighborhood, who knew that
Terry was away.

She had no weapon of any kind, but she was not in the least afraid. She
stepped cautiously to the head of the stairs, and crept stealthily down,
not delaying to put on her stockings. The sounds in the saloon
continued; they were few and slight, but Maggie could interpret them
plainly enough; they told her that a man having got into the house
somehow, had now gone behind the bar. Probably he was trying to steal
the change in the cash-drawer; she was glad that Terry had locked all
his money in the safe just before he went off.

When Maggie had slipped down the stairs gently, and stood in the little
passageway with the door into the saloon ajar before her, she felt a
slight draught, and she knew that the thief had entered through a
window, and had left it open. Yet there was no use in her calling for
assistance. The only people within reach of her voice were the poor
Poles, who were too poor-spirited to protest even if they saw her robbed
in broad daylight; they were cowardly creatures all of them; and she
could not hope for help from them as she would if they were only white
men. The policeman might be within reach of her cry; but he had a long
beat, and there was only a slim chance that he was near.

Her head was clear, and she thought swiftly. The thing to do, the only
thing, was to make use of the telephone to summon assistance. The
instrument was within two feet of her as she stood in the passage, but
it was on the other side of the door at the end of the bar, and
therefore in full view of any one who might be in the saloon. And it
would not be possible to ring up the central office and call for help
without being heard by the robber.

Having made up her mind what it was best for her to do, Maggie did not
hesitate a moment; she pushed the door gently before her and stepped
silently into the saloon. As the faint light from the single dim jet of
gas burning over the bar fell upon her, she looked almost pretty, with
the aureole of her reddish hair, and with her firm young figure draped
in the coarse white gown. She glanced around her, and for a second she
saw no one. The window before her was open, but the man who had broken
in was not in sight.

As she peered about she heard a scratching, grating noise, and then she
saw the top of a man's head just appearing above the edge of the bar
behind which his body was concealed. She knew then that the thief was
trying to get into the safe where Terry's money was locked up.

Leaving the door wide open behind her, Maggie took the two steps that
brought her to the telephone, and rapidly turned the handle. Then she
faced about swiftly to see what the man would do.

The first thing he did was to bob his head suddenly under the bar,
disappearing wholly. Then he slowly raised his face above the edge of
the bar, and Maggie found herself staring into the shifty eyes of Jim
McDermott.

"Hello, Maggie!" he said, as he stood up. "Is that you?"

She saw that he had a revolver in his right hand. But she put up her
hand again and repeated the telephone call.

"Drop that!" he cried, as he raised the revolver. "You try to squeal and
I'll shoot--see?"

"Where did you steal that pistol, Jim McDermott?" was all she answered.

"None o' your business where I got it," he retorted. "I got it good and
ready for you now. I kin use it too, and don't you forget it! You quit
that telephone or you'll see how quick I can shoot. You hear me?"

She did not reply. She was waiting for the central office to acknowledge
her call. She looked Jim McDermott square in the eyes, and it was he who
was uncomfortable and not she.

Then the bell of the telephone rang, and she turned and spoke into the
instrument clearly and rapidly and yet without flurry. "This is 31
Chatham. There's a burglar here. It's Jim McDermott. Send the police
quick."

This was her message; and then she faced about sharply and cried to him,
"Now shoot, and be damned!"

He took her at her word, and fired. The bullet bored a hole in the
wooden box of the telephone.

Maggie laughed tauntingly, and slipped swiftly out of the door, but not
swiftly enough to avoid the second bullet.

Five minutes later when the police arrived, just as the day was
beginning to break, they found Jim McDermott fled, the window open, the
safe uninjured, and Maggie O'Donnell lying in the passageway at the foot
of the stairs, her night-gown stained with blood from a flesh wound in
her arm.

(1893.)



A MIDSUMMER MIDNIGHT


After three years' service at sea on the flag-ship of the White
Squadron, Lieutenant John Stone had a long leave of absence. It was late
in the afternoon of one of the hottest days of August when he left the
navy-yard and took the ferry to New York. The street-car in which he
rode across town crawled along, the horses seeming to be exhausted by
the wearing weather of the preceding fortnight, and the driver had no
energy to keep them up to their work.

It mattered little to John Stone how slowly they went; he was in no
hurry; he had nothing to do; he had nobody waiting for him. At forty he
was alone in the world, without a blood-relation anywhere or any nearer
than a second cousin, without a home, without an address, except "Care
of the Navy Department, Washington, D.C." He was almost without ambition
even in the service now, for he had not yet had a command, and he would
not get his step for three or four years more. He was fond of his
profession, and of late he had been working lovingly at its early
history. He had come to New York now to look up in the libraries a few
missing links in an account of the rise and fall of Carthage as a sea
power. To be near the books he had to consult, he was going to stay at a
hotel within two or three blocks of Washington Square.

When he had registered at the hotel, the clerk, reading his name
upsidedown, said, courteously: "I'm sorry we can't do better for you,
Mr. Stone, but I shall have to put you on the sixth floor. You see, we
are overrun with our Southern and Western trade now; they have found out
that New York is the finest summer resort in the country. The best I can
do for you is to give you a room on the Avenue, with a bath-room
attached."

"That will do very well," Stone answered.

"Front!" called the clerk. "Show Mr. Stone up to 313."

When the naval officer reached room 313 it was nearly six o'clock. He
threw open the window and looked down at the street below. Even at that
height the heat welled up from the stone sidewalks and from the brick
walls opposite. To his ear it seemed almost as though the mighty roar of
the metropolis rose to him muffled and made more remote by the heat. He
lighted a cigar and leaned out of the window, and wondered how many
people there were in all the city whom he knew by sight, and how very
few there were who could call him by name.

A sweltering wind from the west swayed the thick and dusty branches of
the trees which lined the curb far down below him. He threw his cigar
away half smoked. Then he took a cold bath, and went down to the
dining-room somewhat refreshed.

At the table to which the head waiter waved him there was already one
man sitting, a tall, handsome young fellow of twenty-five, perhaps.
Stone liked the man's face, and he liked the way the flannel shirt was
cut so as to leave the full throat free. The manner in which the simple
scarf was knotted and its ends tucked into the shirt he noticed also;
and he saw that the young fellow had insisted on bringing his black
slouch hat with him into the dining-room, having hung it on the back of
the next chair. When this seat was given to Stone, the hat was promptly
transferred to the chair on the other side of the owner. Stone made up
his mind that his neighbor was a ranchman of some sort, who had come
East on business.

It does not take long for two lonely men to get acquainted; and before
he had eaten his green corn, Stone knew all about his neighbor at table,
and the neighbor knew something about him.

"I sized you up when you come in," the young fellow said, "an' I took
stock in you from the start. Somehow I kind o' thought you was one of
Uncle Sam's boys, though o' course I didn't 'low you was a sailor. I
never see a sailor till this mornin', when I went down on the dock to
get news of this _Touraine_ steamer, an' the sailor down there was a
Frenchman, an' not like you, not by a jugful. I suppose, now, Uncle
Sam's sailors are like his other boys I've seen at home often. There's
Dutchmen that ain't bad men, an' I've seen Dagoes you could tie to, and
sometimes a greaser, now and then--not but what they's powerful skase,
greasers you can trust--but Uncle Sam's boys are white men every time."

The young fellow was Clay Magruder. He was a cowboy, as Stone had
supposed, and he was in New York on a mission of the highest importance
to himself. He was waiting for the girl he wanted to marry, and she was
expected to arrive the next morning on the French steamer.

"The grub here ain't so bad, is it?" Magruder said, as the repast drew
to an end. "O' course it ain't like what we get at home. I don't find
nowhere no beef that's equal to the beef we've been gettin' right along
now for two years, ever since I've been with Old Man Pettigrew. The
Hash-knife Outfit always has the best cookin' on the trail. It's jest
notorious for it. Things here in New York is good enough, but the flavor
don't take hold of you like it does at home; an' their coffee East is
poor stuff, ain't it? It don't bite you like coffee should."

After dinner they went into the smoking-room of the hotel, and Stone
offered a cigar to his new friend.

"No, thank you," he responded, taking a small brier-wood pipe out of
his trousers-pocket. "I don't go much on cigars; I can git more solid
comfort out of a pipe, I reckon." After he had filled his pipe and
pulled at it half a dozen times, he said to Stone, suddenly: "Say! is
there any show in town to-night? I've got a night off, you know, and
I've allus heerd that for shows New York could lay over everything in
sight. You've been to this town before, haven't you?"

Stone admitted that this was not his first visit to New York.

"I reckoned so," was Clay Magruder's comment. "An' so you know your way
here, an' I don't; there's too many trails crossin' for me to keep to
the road. Suppose we go to the show together--ef there is a show in
town?"

Stone bought an evening paper, and looked over the list of amusements.
He wondered what would best suit the tastes of his new friend.

"There's Deadwood Dick's Wild Western Exhibition at Niblo's--" he began.

"Deadwood Dick?" interrupted the cowboy, in great contempt; "he's a holy
show, he is. He's a fraud; that's what he is. An' is he the only thing
we can take in to-night?"

"Oh no," the sailor replied. "There are half a dozen other things to
see. There's a comic opera at the Garden Theatre, with a variety show up
in the roof garden afterwards."

"A comic opera--singing, and funny business, and pretty girls, I
suppose?" said the Westerner. "I reckon we'd might as well go
there--unless you'd rather go somewhere else."

"The comic opera and the roof garden will just suit me," Stone
responded.

They were fortunate in getting good seats at the theatre, where they
arrived as the curtain was rising on the first act of "Patience." Even
in midsummer the attire of Stone's new friend attracted some attention,
and a group of pretty girls in the row behind them nudged each other as
he came in and giggled. In their hearts they were glad to look at so
handsome a man.

During the first act Magruder's face was a study for Stone. It was
evident that the cowboy failed wholly to understand the narrow and
insular satire of "Patience." When the curtain fell at last, he could
contain himself no longer.

"I never see such a fool play," he said. "There ain't no sense in makin'
believe that one fellow could round up a bunch of girls that way. It's
the plumb-stupidest show I've seen for years and years. It's bad as
Deadwood Dick 'most. 'Patience' they call it? Well, I 'ain't got none to
see no more of it. What's this roof garden you told me about?"

So Stone took him up to the roof garden, and they were glad to get again
into the open air, baked as the atmosphere was even at the top of the
building. They had a drink and a smoke while they listened to the music.

When the variety show began on the little stage, Stone went forward in
time to secure advantageous positions for Magruder and himself. Early on
the programme was a French song by a highly-colored young lady wearing
an enormous hat.

"That's a good enough song," the cowboy declared, "but what sort of a
lingo is it she's singin' it in? Why isn't plain United States good
enough for songs? Not but what she's a pretty girl, too, and lively on
her feet."

The part of the performance which excited Clay Magruder's warmest
appreciation was the serpentine dance of Mademoiselle Éloise. When he
beheld the coiling draperies of that graceful young woman curving about
in picturesque and unexpected convolutions, and heightened in effect by
the changing colors of the lime-lights directed upon the stage, his
enthusiasm rose to a height.

"That's _some_!" he cried. "It reminds me of an Eyetalian gal I saw
dance once in Cheyenne. She was a daisy, too; but this is bigger. They's
no doubt about it, this is a heap bigger."

Magruder joined in accomplishing the inevitable recall and the
repetition of a part of the dance. Perhaps this was the reason why the
next two or three numbers of the programme seemed to him to be less
interesting. At all events, both the cowboy and the sailor tired of the
entertainment. So they made their way through the crowd and down to the
street.

As they walked back to the hotel Magruder told Stone what had brought
him to New York. It was to meet the _Touraine_ on her expected arrival
in the morning, and to persuade one of the passengers to marry him.

"She's jest got to marry me," he said, earnestly. "I can't get along
without her any longer. She's a sort of governess to Old Man Pettigrew's
sister's kids--learns them to read and play the pianner. They was all in
Miles City last winter, and that was when I first see her. I made up my
mind right off on the spot that there was Mrs. Clay Magruder if I could
get her. And I'm here now to get her if I can. She's as pretty as a
picture--better'n that, too, for I never see no chromo half as
good-lookin' as her. Once last winter they was 'most a blizzard;
leastways the wind set back on its hind-legs and howled. You ought to
have seen her then, with the color in her cheeks! An' everything was
froze stiff, and she was skeered of fallin'. Why, she teetered along
jest like a chicken with a jag." And he laughed out loud at the
recollection. "She'll be here in the mornin', and you shall see her. I'm
goin' to be down on that dock good an' early to-morrow, and no French
sailor ain't goin' to stand me off."

As they drew near to the hotel, Magruder remarked: "Say! ain't they a
jag-factory somewheres round here? Come in and have one with me."

Stone went with him, and they drank the young lady's health, Magruder
expatiating on her charms and on the happiness that awaited him when he
should marry her. Then they crossed the street to the hotel and went up
to their rooms.

As it happened, the room of Clay Magruder was exactly opposite John
Stone's, so it was at their own doors that they parted for the night
with a hearty grasp of the hand.

The sailor found the air of his room stifling. He threw wide the window
and stood for a while looking out over the heated city as it lay around
him in the darkness. He wondered what the girl was like whom Magruder
had come East to meet, and he caught himself almost envying the cowboy.
Then he sighed unconsciously and made ready for bed. As he wound up his
watch he saw that it was nearly half-past eleven. Five minutes
afterwards he was asleep.

He had been asleep but five minutes, as it seemed to him, when he was
waked slowly with a slight difficulty in breathing, and with the feeling
that all was not well. While he was still drowsy, he was conscious of a
crackling sound like the snapping of dry twigs. When he opened his eyes
he found that they smarted. The first long breath that he drew filled
his lungs with thin smoke. In an instant he was wide awake. The meaning
of the crackling and the snapping was not doubtful. The hotel was on
fire.

He sprang out of bed and opened the door of his room. The corridor was
full of smoke, and the sound of the flames was louder. At the bend in
the hall where the stairs were, sharp tongues of flame were licking
around the corner. Stone saw that his retreat that way was cut off, and
that he must rely on the windows for escape. He crossed to the door
opposite, pounded at it heavily, and cried "Fire! Fire! Get up at once!"
till Clay Magruder answered. The floor of the corridor was hot beneath
his feet as he went back to his own room, closed the door, and dressed
himself as swiftly as he could, the murmur of the fire growing nearer
and nearer.

When he was still in his shirt-sleeves he stepped again to the corridor
and called across to Magruder.

The door opposite opened, and the cowboy appeared in it, half-dressed.

"The stairs are on fire," cried Stone; "we can't get out that way. We
must try the windows. Take your sheets and your blankets and come in
here."

"I wish I'd a couple of lariats here," said Magruder, as he went back
for the bed-linen.

The air in the hall was now thick and suffocating, and the stairs at the
corner were a furnace of fierce flames. Here and there thin threads of
smoke were rising from the floor of the corridor.

The cowboy reappeared in his doorway, with his arms full of bedclothes.

"Come in here quick, so that I can get this door shut and keep out the
smoke," said the sailor, standing back to leave the doorway open.

As Magruder stepped out of his room, the floor of the corridor gave way
with a crash, and a red-hot gulf yawned between the two rooms. Stone
leaned far forward to try and save his new friend. But the falling of
the floor was too sudden, and Magruder went down into the roaring
furnace below, from which the flames sprang up fiercely. In a moment he
was lost to sight in the seething fire. Stone stood stock-still for a
second, bent over the blazing opening, with his arm out-stretched until
the heat scorched it. Then he rose to his feet swiftly and shut the door
behind him.

His own room was now full of smoke, and he knew that the door would be
on fire in less than a minute. He threw open the window and looked down,
seeing at once that his bedding alone would be useless, as it would take
him down two stories at the most, while the fire had already broken out
at the front of the building. He discovered that there was a ledge or
narrow cornice running around the house just on the end of his floor. He
stepped out upon this, and closed the window behind him. As he did so,
the flames burst through from the corridor into his room.

Standing outside of his window on the narrow ledge, which gave him a
scant foothold, he saw in front of him on his right what he had not
before observed--a tall tower with an illuminated clock face. The hands
pointed to four minutes past midnight. From the street below there
arose a confused murmur of noises--shouts and cries of command, the
rattle of heavy wheels as the engines rushed up, the regular rhythmic
beat of the pumps as they got into play, the hissing of steam as a dozen
streams of water curved upward and smote the burning building. The
foliage of the trees which lined the curb was so thick that Stone could
not see the sidewalk just below him, and apparently those in charge of
operations had not seen him.

The sailor had faced death before--he had weathered many a fierce gale
at sea; he had been at Samoa during the hurricane; he had been overboard
for an hour once in the Bay of Biscay--and he was not afraid to die. He
recalled his sensations when he believed himself to be drowning, and he
remembered that his dominant thought had been that such a death then and
there was needless and served no purpose. On that occasion he was more
or less passive, being spent with the struggle against the waves; at
present he was strong and ready to make a fight for his life. Then he
had to contend with water, and now he knew that water was his chief
hope.

At that moment there came a louder roar from far down in the street
below: the water-tower had arrived. It was speedily erected and in
service, and from its long trunk a thick stream of water was forced into
the blazing hotel perhaps fifty feet from where Stone was standing. He
watched it at work, and then he raised his eyes and again caught sight
of the illuminated dial, whereon the hands now pointed to seven minutes
after midnight.

Stone wondered whether the firemen would be able to get the better of
the flames. He doubted it, but he wished that he could take part in the
fight. It was rather the helplessness of his position than its
fearfulness that he felt most keenly. He was in danger, and the danger
was deepening with every minute of delay, but he could do nothing. The
ledge on which he was standing was barely a foot wide, and it was
perhaps ten feet long. Its length measured the width of his room, which
projected a yard or more beyond the main line of the building. Stone
moved cautiously to the right till he came to the end of the ledge, in
the hope that it continued around the side, and that by following it he
might pass along the whole front of the hotel, and perhaps find some way
to escape to the roof of the house next door.

But the hope was futile, for the slight cornice shrank away as it turned
back till it was barely an inch wide. The sailor was used to an insecure
footing at a great height, and his nerves were steady; but he knew that
it was certain destruction for him to try to advance in that direction.
With his back pressed tight to the wall, he glided along to the window,
now lighted up by the flames which filled his room. He pushed past it to
the left until he came to the end of the ledge on that side, finding
that the projection ceased on the one hand as it had on the other. He
felt himself a prisoner, held fast, with little hope of rescue; neither
to the right nor to the left could he move; behind him was the wall of
the blazing hotel, and before him was a sheer drop of sixty feet to the
street below. He glanced down for an instant, and then raised his head
again. To the right, in the distance, was the clock-tower, and it was
now nine minutes past twelve. He wondered if the clock had stopped
suddenly, for it seemed to him nearly an hour since he had awaked to
find himself in peril of his life.

He thought of Magruder, and he wondered why the man who had hopes and
joys before him should be cut off, while the man who had little to live
for should be given a chance for his life. That the cowboy had perished
in the flames he had no doubt; and in a flash his imagination bore him
outside of the exigencies of the moment, and he had a vision of the
_Touraine_ making her way past Sandy Hook, and drawing near to Staten
Island and anchoring there, too far from the city for its passengers to
see the glare of the conflagration. Yet the fire was one to be seen from
afar, for there was a sullen roar, and the roof of a wing of the hotel
fell in. A myriad of sparks was blasted upward, and the crowd in the
street raised a loud shout of warning. Stone looked down, and he saw a
woman at a window of the floor below him; she was shrieking with terror,
and at last she gave a wild spring forward. He beheld her crash through
the branches of the trees, and he heard her body strike the sidewalk.
There was a yell of horror from the crowd, and then silence. A few
seconds later Stone caught the quick clang of an ambulance bell in the
side street. He counted the strokes automatically until they died away
in the distance. His ear was so strained to catch this sound that he
heard the rattle of a train stopping at the station of the elevated
railroad only a block away, and he seized even the shrill squeak of the
brakes as they grated against the wheels. Then he aroused himself, and
wondered why he had noted such trifles. Turning his head, he found the
single eye of the clock-tower still beaming at him. He blinked stupidly
before he saw that it was now thirteen minutes after twelve.

More engines had arrived in the street below, and another
hook-and-ladder truck. Several small ladders had been put up to the
lower windows, and women and children had been carried down in safety.
Stone watched while the firemen tried to raise one of the taller ladders
which might reach to the third or fourth floor. The branches of the
trees were so close that the men found it impossible to get this longer
ladder into position. A man was sent up into the tree, and he was
cutting away the branches, when flames burst out of the nearest window.
A torrent of water was at once directed into the window, while a second
stream splashed down upon the tree and made a watery shield for the
fireman, who went on lopping off the limbs. He labored swiftly, but the
fire was swifter still. At almost the same time the flames burst forth
from three or four other of the lower windows.

Stone had been noting every effort of the men below. At first he had not
been seen. But after the man had cut away a few of the branches of the
tree, two or three of the firemen caught sight of the sailor. They
shouted to him, but in the roar of the fire behind him and below him he
could not make out their words. A captain gave a sudden command, and two
men sprang forward with short scaling-ladders, which they succeeded in
hooking to the second-story window immediately below the ledge on which
he was standing. Looking down, he could see the heads of these men as
they climbed the ladders, their bodies being foreshortened into
invisibility. The men could not get above the second story, for the fire
was gushing forth as though the window were the mouth of hell. The smoke
rose black and dense, enshrouding Stone.

He saw that it was useless to hope that they could now get a ladder up
to him; the flames would not give them time. The wall behind him was
becoming hotter, and the heat had broken the glass of the window of his
room. The fire was creeping along the roof above his head, and every now
and again it peered over the edge at him, as though seeing how far it
had still to go before it could grasp him. The smoke from below was
thickening, and threatened to choke him. Through its haze he could see
the cyclops eye of the clock-tower gloating over his inevitable fate.
The hands on the illuminated dial had slowly crept forward, and it was
now nearly twenty minutes past twelve.

Stone knew that his position was untenable for many seconds longer. At
any moment the wall might fall back and bury him in the blazing ruins.
To remain was impossible; and there seemed no way of escape. A crash
shook the building, and then another; and he guessed that two of the
floors had fallen in. He slid along again to the end of the narrow ledge
and tried to peer around the corner, in the vague hope that there might
be some possible means of escape. He found that he could not twist his
head far enough to see anything while his back was flat against the
wall. To turn was to risk a fall to the pavement below. He looked down
fearlessly, and calculated his chances if he missed his footing.
Immediately beneath him the tree was taller than its fellows, and its
foliage was thicker; it was barely possible that the branches might
break his fall; but the chance was slim. The smoke poured heavily from
the window three feet from him. He hesitated no longer, but turned
slowly and steadily. His nerves were unshaken, and he executed the
manoeuvre in safety. Standing with his face to the wall--which rose
sheer above him, and which gave him no hold for his hands--he was able
to thrust out his head sideways and to look around the corner. What he
saw gave him a thrill of hope.

His room projected perhaps a yard beyond the main line of the building,
forming what might be termed a square bay-window. From his position on
the narrow shelf of marble, which ran around the front of the hotel on
every floor, he thought he could reach forward and touch the main wall
of the building. And here was his one possible chance of escape. In the
corner formed by the junction of the projection and the main line there
was the leader which conducted the rain-water from the roof. It was of
tin only, and in the eyes of the sailor gazing at it with upspringing
hope it seemed frail, insecurely fastened, perhaps rotten. But it
offered a chance, and the only chance, of life, and therefore it was
welcome. Stone prepared to make the best of it.

He gave a final glance around before he made the irrevocable move. He
caught sight of the clock, and he saw that it was twenty-two minutes
after midnight. He reached forward, and he found that the space was
wider than he had thought. It was with the tips of his fingers only that
he could touch the tin pipe; it was beyond the reach of his grasp. Yet
to seize it was the one way to the street below. He did not hesitate. He
stood on his left foot on the very end of the ledge, with his right foot
dangling in space. He made a carefully measured plunge forward, and he
gripped the leader with his left hand and then instantly with his right.
It yielded under the sudden strain, but it did not part. With the habit
of a sailor, he clasped his legs about it, and so eased the pressure.
Then he began slowly to slide down, gaining velocity as he descended.

At every floor there was a shelf of stone like that on which he had
stood outside his window, and through which the tin tube passed. Stone
had therefore to release his feet, and by his hands alone to cling to
the pipe, which spread from the wall with the weight of his body. Then
he clasped his legs again below the ledge and let go one hand after the
other. The tin was broken and jagged here and there, and Stone's flesh
was cut to the bone. But he did not notice this in the tension of his
swift descent.

When he came to the first floor and tried to take a fresh grip with his
legs, he found nothing to clasp with his knees. From there to its
connection with the gutter the pipe went inside the building. Stone hung
from the ledge by his hands, not knowing how far he was above the
sidewalk. The smoke was pouring up from the cellar grating beneath him,
and in a minute he would have suffocated. So he let go.

The drop was ten feet or more, and he came down on a trunk which had
been thrown out of a window. From this he pitched to the sidewalk with
a broken leg and a dislocated shoulder. He was dimly conscious of being
lifted gently, and of a brief but painful ride. The sharp clang of the
ambulance bell he felt as though it were a physical blow.

When he came to himself again it was morning, and he was in bed in a
long room with a row of cots on both sides of it, under the slanting
sunbeams.

He lay still, wondering.

The occupant of the next bed was unfolding a newspaper, and Stone heard
him say to the nurse, with an Alsacian accent: "Ve're goin' have nodder
hot day; I vonder how dhose people yust back from Paris on dhe
_Douraine_ vill like dot?"

(1892.)



A VISTA IN CENTRAL PARK


It was the last Sunday in September, and the blue sky arched above the
Park, clear, cloudless, unfathomable. The afternoon sun was hot, and
high overhead. Now and then a wandering breeze came without warning and
lingered only for a moment, fluttering the broad leaves of the aquatic
plants in the fountain below the Terrace. At the Casino, on the hill
above the Mall, men and women were eating and drinking, some of them
inside the dingy and sprawling building, and some of them out-doors at
little tables set in curving lines under the gayly colored awnings,
which covered the broad walk bending away from the door of the
restaurant. From the bandstand in the thick of the throng below came the
brassy staccato of a cornet, rendering "The Last Rose of Summer." Even
the Ramble was full of people; and the young couples, seeking
sequestered nooks under the russet trees, were often forced to share
their benches with strangers. Beneath the reddening maples lonely men
lounged on the grass by themselves, or sat solitary and silent in the
midst of chattering family groups.

The crowd was cosmopolitan and unhurried. For the most part it was
good-natured and well-to-do. There was not a beggar to be seen; there
was no appealing poverty. Fathers of families there were in abundance,
well-fed and well-clad, with their wives and with their sons' wives and
with their sons' children. Maids in black dresses and white aprons
pushed baby-carriages. Young girls in groups of three and four giggled
and gossiped. Young men in couples leaned over the bridge of the Lake,
smoking and exchanging opinions. There was a general air of prosperity
gladly displaying itself in the sunshine; the misery and the want and
the despair of the great city were left behind and thrust out of mind.

[Illustration: "TWO SLIM JAPANESE GENTLEMEN"]

Two or three yards after a portly German with a little boy holding each
of his hands while a third son still younger rode ahead astride of his
father's solid cane, there came two slim Japanese gentlemen, small and
sallow, in their neatly cut coats and trousers. A knot of laughing
mulatto-girls followed, arm in arm; they, too, seemed ill-dressed in the
accepted costume of civilization, especially when contrasted with half a
dozen Italians who passed slowly, looking about them with curious
glances; the men in worn olive velveteens and with gold rings in their
ears, the women with bright colors in their skirts and with embroidery
on their neckerchiefs. Where the foot-path touched the carriage-drive
there stood a plain but comfortably plump Irishwoman, perhaps thirty
years of age; she had a baby in her arms, and a little girl of scant
three held fast to her patched calico dress; with her left hand she was
proffering a basket containing apples, bananas, and grapes; two other
children, both under six, played about her skirts; and two more, a boy
and a girl, kept within sight of her--the girl, about ten years old,
having a basket of her own filled with thin round brown cakes; and the
boy, certainly not yet thirteen, holding out a wooden box packed with
rolls of lozenges, put up in red and yellow and green papers. Now and
again the mother or one of the children made a sale to a pedestrian on
his way to the music. The younger children watched, with noisy glee, the
light leaps of a gray squirrel bounding along over the grass behind the
path and balancing himself with his horizontal tail.

The broad carriage-drive was as crowded as any of the foot-paths.
Bicyclists in white sweaters and black stockings toiled along in groups
of three and four, bent forward over the bars of their machines.
Politicians with cigars in the corners of their mouths held in impatient
trotters. Park omnibuses heavily laden with women and children drew up
for an instant before the Terrace, and then went on again to skirt the
Lake. Old-fashioned and shabby landaus lumbered along with strangers
from the hotels. Now and then there came in sight a hansom cab with a
young couple framed in the front of it, or a jolting dog-cart, on the
high seat of which a British-looking young man was driving tandem. Here
and there were other private carriages--coupés and phaetons, for the
most part, with once and again a four-in-hand coach rumbling heavily on
the firmly packed road.

A stylish victoria sped along, spick and span, with its glistening
harness and its jingling steel chains, with its stalwart pair of
iron-gray steppers and with two men on the box, correct and impassive.
Suddenly, as it passed close to the walk at the end of the Terrace, the
coachman drew up sharply, pulling his horses back on their haunches and
swearing inaudibly at the plump Irishwoman who had dropped her basket of
fruit just in time to rescue one of her children from being run over.

"It's more careful ye ought to be!" cried the mother, as she stood again
on the walk with her daughter clasped to her waist.

"We are very sorry, indeed," said the lady in the victoria, leaning
forward. "It was an accident."

"An accident, was it?" returned the Irishwoman. "An' it's an accident,
then, ye wouldn't like if it was yer own children ye were runnin' over
like that."

The childless couple in the carriage looked at each other for a moment
only; and then the husband said, swiftly, "Drive on, John!"

He was a man of fifty, spare in frame and round-shouldered; he had a
keen glance, and a weary smile came and went on his lips, not hidden by
his sparse gray moustache. His wife was a woman of perhaps thirty, tall,
dark, with passionate eyes and a full figure.

She was still leaning forward, clinching the side of the carriage as it
turned northward and rolled along by the side of the Lake. Her voice
showed that her excitement had not subsided, as she faced her husband
again and said: "John is getting very careless. That is the third time
this week he has nearly run over a child!"

"He has not quite run over one yet. It will be time enough to discharge
him when he does," her husband answered, calmly. "That little girl there
is none the worse for her fright. She seemed a pretty little thing, and
she has been saved to grow up in a tenement-house and to go to the devil
ten years from now. So her mother has cause to be thankful."

His wife looked at him indignantly. "I suppose," she said, "you mean
that it is a pity that John didn't run over the child and kill her."

"I didn't mean that exactly," he responded. "But perhaps it is true
enough. Death is not the worst thing in this world, you know."

"You are always talking of dying," returned his young wife, impatiently.
"I wonder you don't commit suicide."

"I have thought of it," he answered, looking at her with a tolerant
smile. "But life amuses me still--I have so much curiosity, you know.
But I might do it, if I were sure I could have the privilege of coming
back to see what you will be up to when I'm gone."

She looked straight before her and made no answer, keeping her lips
firmly compressed.

There was a touch of tenderness in his tone as he went on, a curious
cynical tenderness, quite characteristic of him. "Don't let some rascal
marry you for my money. That would annoy me, I confess. And yet, I don't
know why I should suggest the possibility of such a thing, for you will
be a most fascinating widow."

She gazed ahead steadily and said nothing, but she had joined her hands
together, and her fingers kept moving.

"Still," he continued, "I'm afraid I'm good for ten years more. We're a
hardy stock, you know. My father lived to be eighty, and he was fifty
when I was born. Besides, you take such good care of me always."

He held out his hand to her, and she took it and clasped it tight in
both of hers, while the tears brimmed her eyes.

"But perhaps you are letting me stay out too long this afternoon," he
said. "It is balmy, I know, but I'm getting tired already."

"John," she cried, hastily, "you may turn now, and go home."

"I don't want you to lose this lovely September afternoon," her husband
declared. "Take me home, and come back to the Park here for an hour,
while I have a nap, if I can."

Just then there was a break in the stream of vehicles, and the coachman
took advantage of it and turned the horses' heads southward. In five
minutes the victoria swerved to the westward, leaving the Lake behind,
and making for the Riverside Drive.

The Lake was gay with boats. Black gondolas with white canopies and
brilliant American flags were propelled adroitly by their standing
boat-men. Light canoes were paddled briskly in and out of the bays and
channels, where the ducks and swans swam lazily about. Young fellows in
their shirt-sleeves tugged inexpertly at the oars of row-boats laden
down with young women. By regular and easy strokes the Park watermen
rowed the capacious barges, with their striped awnings, in the
prescribed course around the Lake. The oars flashed in the flickering
sunlight, and the sunshine gilded the prows of the distant canoes as
they shot across the vista. The yellow leaves of the maples high on the
bank over the opposite shore fluttered loosely away on the doubtful
breeze, and at last fell languidly into the water. To the west a
towering apartment-house lifted itself aloft over the edge of the Park,
and seemed to shorten the space between. To the east the gilded dome of
a new synagogue rose over the tree-tops. Above all was the blue concave
of the calm and illimitable sky.

When the victoria, with its two men on the box and with its pair of
high-stepping horses, returned to the Park, and skirted the Lake again,
and approached the Terrace, the lady sat in it alone. As she came in
sight of the Mall she bent forward, eagerly looking for the little girl
whom they had almost run over half an hour earlier.

Near the Terrace she saw the pleasant-faced Irishwoman, with her basket
of fruit in one hand and the baby in the other arm; the three little
children were playing about their mother's feet, while the elder boy and
girl were only a few yards away.

The lonely woman in the victoria bade the coachman draw up.

Seeing the carriage stop at the side of the road the Irishwoman came
forward, proffering her fruit. Then she recognized the lady and checked
her approach, hesitating.

The handsome woman in the carriage smiled, and said, "Which is the
little girl we almost ran over?"

"That's the one," answered the mother, indicating the slip of a child
who was now clasping the edge of the fruit-basket while staring at the
strange lady with wide-open eyes.

"What a pretty child she is!" said the lady. "I hope she is none the
worse for her fright?"

"Ye didn't break any bones, if that's what ye mean," the mother
responded.

"And how old is she?" was the next question.

"She'll be three years old come Christmas," was the answer.

The lady in the carriage felt in her pocket, and brought out her purse
and looked through it.

"Here," she said at last, as she took out a five-dollar gold-piece;
"here is something I wish you would give her on Christmas morning as a
present from me. Will you?"

"I will that," the mother replied, taking the money, "and gladly too.
It's richer than her sisters she'll be now."

"How many children have you?" the lady inquired.

"Six; thank ye, ma'am, for askin'," was the response, "an' all well and
hearty."

"Six?" echoed the woman in the victoria, with a hungry gleam in her
eyes. "You have six children?"

"It's six I have," the mother answered; "and it's a fine lot they are
altogether, though I say it that shouldn't."

The lady put her hand in her purse again.

"Buy something with this for the others," she said, placing a bank-note
in the Irishwoman's hands. Then she raised her voice and added, "You may
drive on, John!"

As the victoria rolled away to the westward the fruit-vender courtesied,
and the children all looked after the carriage with interest.

"That lady must be very rich," said the eldest boy, the one who had the
lozenges for sale. "I shouldn't wonder if she had two millions of
dollars!"

"She must be very happy," the eldest girl added. "I suppose she can have
ice-cream every day, and go to the Seaside Home for two weeks whenever
she wants."

"It's a kind heart she has anyway, for all her money," was the mother's
comment, as she unfolded the bank-note and saw the X in the corner of
it.

Meanwhile the lady in the victoria was eaten with bitter thoughts as the
carriage rattled along in the brilliant sunshine beneath the unclouded
sky.

"Six children!" she was saying to herself. "That Irishwoman has six
children! Why is it that some women have so much luck?"

(1893.)



THE SPEECH OF THE EVENING


The more immaterial part of the banquet was about to begin. The guests
had made an end of eating, and the waiters were filling the small cups
with black coffee, and passing boxes of cigars and cigarettes. At the
five long tables which gridironed the great room the hum of conversation
rose higher and higher; while at the shorter table, raised on the
platform at the western end of the hall, there was almost silence, as
the men who were to make speeches saw the oratorical moment approaching.
The musicians, hidden behind a screen of greenery, were playing a medley
of the latest popular airs; and here and there, at the tables below, a
little group of the diners now and again took up a chorus, with
intermittent energy, to the amusement of the ladies who were arriving
and filling rapidly the broad boxes in the galleries.

The organizers of the dinner had felt that it was a great occasion, and
they had sought to make it memorable artistically. The severe white of
the beautifully proportioned concert-hall was relieved by foliage
plants, massed and scattered with a delicate understanding of decorative
effect; against the absolutely colorless walls, with their carved
caryatides, were palms in pots; gayly colored silken banners floated
down from the ceiling; and everywhere, on the ceiling and the walls and
the balconies and the platforms, the electric lights glowed and
twinkled, illuminating the lofty hall with steady brilliancy.

Near the eastern end of one of the long tables there sat a young man--at
least, he was barely thirty. He was so placed that he had before him the
whole scene. He had an uninterrupted view of the raised table, where the
speakers were absorbed in self-communion. He commanded the entrance to
the gallery opposite, and he could see the ladies as they arrived in
little groups, eager for the unwonted pleasure of attendance at a great
public dinner. He could hear the feminine chatter rising shrill above
the masculine babble below. He gazed at the boxes curiously, as though
he did not know any of the ladies in them; and he remained quiet while
the diners about him at that end of the table exchanged salutations with
the occupants of one box or another. Apparently he had few if any
acquaintances even on the floor of the hall, the men on each side of him
being generally engaged in conversation with their neighbors.

Seemingly his solitude was lightly borne, and he found solace for it in
amused observation of the gathering. He lighted his own cigar, and was
soon helping to make the blue haze which hung over the tables, rising
in time almost to the level of the boxes in the long balconies.

Yet he was not averse to conversation, and when his right-hand neighbor
turned back to pick up a fresh cigarette, he took occasion to say, "It
isn't usual to let ladies in at dinners here in New York, is it?"

"No," his right-hand neighbor responded, with a slight but obvious
German accent, "I don't think it is. I've been lifing in New York for a
long vile now--'most eleven years--and I never saw it before."

Then the right-hand neighbor, having lighted his cigarette, sat back in
his chair again and resumed his interrupted talk with the man on the
other side of him.

The young man who was apparently a stranger was allowed to keep silence
only for a minute or two, however, as his left-hand neighbor, to whom he
had hardly spoken during the dinner, now engaged him in conversation.

"I thought it was about time they did that," said the neighbor,
indicating the waiters who were removing the potted orange-trees and the
sugar-trophies from the upper table. "Now we can see who's who."

"I suppose those are the more distinguished guests?" the young man
suggested.

"Most of the men who are going to make speeches are up there," the
neighbor responded. "Hello, hello! there's Alexander Macgregor down at
that end there, the one with the full red beard. He's the President of
the St. Andrew's Society. He's a first-rate American, too, for all he
was born in Edinburgh. You know, he's the man they call the
'Star-spangled Scotchman.'"

"And who is that clean-shaved, clean-looking, fair-haired man next to
him?" asked the young man.

"That?" the neighbor replied, "that's--oh, I forget his name--but he's
the President of the St. George's Society, I think. He's an
Englishman--that is, he was; I suppose he's been naturalized--but then
you can never tell about Englishmen, can you? They will live in a place
for years, and they will be Britons to the backbone all the time."

"Who is the presiding officer?" was the next question.

"Don't you know _him_?" the neighbor retorted. "Why, that's
Crowninshield Eliot, the lawyer. He used to be President of the New
England Society. He's a clever man and he makes a rattling good speech
sometimes, but then he's mighty uncertain. He may speak well or he may
make a bad break. A speech from him is a regular grab-bag--you never
know what you are going to have. But things don't get rusty when he is
around, I tell you. You can rely on him to wake all the other speakers
up. And I guess we shall have some fun before we get through; it isn't
often you see so many representative New-Yorkers together; it's really
a typical gathering."

The young man made no response to this, being for the moment busy with
his own ironic thoughts.

"Now there's a man who will make the fur fly if he gets a chance,"
continued the loquacious neighbor, "that tall, thin, dignified-looking
man, with the black goatee and mustache; that's Colonel Fairfax. He's
Secretary of the Southern Society--all rebels, you know, but
reconstructed by this time, most of them. He's District Attorney for the
second term now, and you ought to hear him talk to a jury. He could get
a verdict against the angel Gabriel for stealing the silver trumpet.
When I was on the grand jury last year he--"

Here the young man's neighbor interrupted himself to say, "Hello, hello!
that is odd, isn't it? Right next to Colonel Fairfax is the man who was
foreman of our grand jury; I didn't catch sight of him till that waiter
took away that candy Statue of Liberty. See him? The bald one with the
scar on his jaw; it's a bullet wound he got at Shiloh. That's S. Colfax
Morrison; he was major of the 200th Ohio, but he's been living in New
York for ten years now at least. That's 'the Ohio idea' they talk about:
to come to New York to live as soon as they can. I was born in Ohio
myself."

And the talker let his loquacity taper off into a laugh, in which the
young man joined courteously.

There was a sudden diminution of the roar of talk as the gentleman
sitting in the middle of the raised table rose to his feet and rapped
for silence. Even in the boxes, now filled to overflowing with ladies,
the chatter ceased as the man who had been selected to preside over the
dinner began his remarks by recalling the event they had met to
commemorate. In felicitous phrases and with neatly turned strokes of
humor he declared the reason why they were assembled together. And when
he had made an end of this, he announced that the first toast of the
evening would be "New York, the Empire City, sitting at the gates of
commerce, and holding the highways of trade."

There was a burst of applause and a pushing back of chairs as all the
guests rose with their glasses in their hands.

Then the presiding officer prepared to introduce the speaker who was to
make the response to this important toast.

"I saw only this morning," he began again, "the report of some remarks
made by a Senator from Nevada, in which New York was called a 'city of
kites and crows.' There are Congressmen who cannot open their mouths
without disseminating miscellaneous misinformation; and the only
appropriate retort would be with the plain-spoken bowie of the
mining-camp or with the unambiguous derringer of Nevada. No adequate
answer is possible in the sterilized vocabulary permitted to us by the
conventions of modern society. And yet it is well that once in a while
New York should assert herself--that she should celebrate herself--that
she should rest from her mighty labors, if only for a moment, to
contemplate her own great work. We are fortunate in having with us here
to-night a man who can do justice to this imposing theme, a man who
loves New York as we all love her, who is proud of New York as we are
all proud of her--a man whom there is no need for me to introduce to an
assembly of New-Yorkers. Works of supererogation are discountenanced,
and who is there here who does not know Horace Chauncy?"

As the chairman ceased the gentleman who had been sitting at his right
rose, and immediately there was great applause from all parts of the
hall. Men clapped their hands and rapped upon the table with the handles
of their fruit-knives. Even the ladies in the boxes waved their
handkerchiefs.

Then, as the chairman, having done his duty, took his seat, there was
the customary hum of anticipated enjoyment, dying away swiftly as Mr.
Chauncy prepared to speak.

The left-hand neighbor of the young man down at the far end of the long
table turned to him again, and said, "Now you keep your eyes open. I
shouldn't wonder if this was the speech of the evening."

The young man looked at the new speaker and liked his face, at once
masterful and intelligent. Mr. Chauncy's attitude was one of conscious
strength and of perfect ease. He was a man of fifty, perhaps, with gray
hair and a curling gray mustache.

"Upon a mellow October night like this," the speaker began, and his
voice was rich and firm, while his delivery was as clear as a line
engraving--"upon a mellow October night like this, possible in no other
city in this country or in Europe, I think, and illustrative of the fact
that here in New York we have really a climate, while most of the other
great towns of the world have only weather--upon a night like this, and
under this graceful tower, uplifting its loveliness into the azure air
and topped by a Diana fairer than that of the Ephesians smiling down
upon gardens more beautiful than any ever hanging in Babylon, there is
no need for me to present any defence of the Empire City, or to proffer
any apology for her. If you seek for proof of her superiority, look
about you here to-night, and remember that nowhere else in the United
States could any such company as this be gathered together; nowhere else
in the United States is there a banquet-hall so beautiful; nowhere else
in the United States would a feast like this be graced by the presence
of so many lovely women. Yet I feel that I should be derelict to my
duty--that I should let slip a precious occasion--if I did not dwell for
a while upon a few of the many things in the history of this city which
give her proud pre-eminence; which make her what she is--the mighty and
magnificent metropolis of a great people."

Again the applause broke forth. After a pause the speaker continued,
having the attention of every man and woman in the hall. Even as he
warmed to his subject he preserved the perfection of his delivery, and
he poured forth facts, figures, illustrations, one after the other, with
never a broken accent or a blurred syllable.

"I will not detain you by detailing the many natural advantages of New
York--the noble river which sweeps by on one side and the arm of the
ocean which embraces the other, and the spacious and beautiful bay, with
its harborage ample for all the fleets of all the nations of the earth.
It is not my purpose to-night to linger long over the works of art which
make this island of ours distinguished as the works of nature have made
possible her prosperity; and therefore I shall say nothing of the Statue
of Liberty, of the Brooklyn Bridge, of the Riverside Drive, of the
libraries and the museums and the colleges and the churches; I shall
even say nothing of Central Park, truly the finest single work of art
yet produced by any American, and, simply as a work of art, unequalled
by any pleasure-ground of Europe."

There was another burst of applause, but the speaker scarcely waited for
it to die down before he began again.

"Passing by these works of God and man, ever present before our eyes, I
am going to call your attention to things less material--to things which
do not cling to our remembrance as they ought. Secure in our material
prosperity, we New-Yorkers do not always recall those incidents in the
history of the city which deserve to be forever memorable. We are not
often accused of modesty--but we are over-modest, are we not?--when we
allow our children to be taught that the first bloodshed of the
Revolution was in the Boston Massacre, forgetting that the Liberty Pole
fight took place in New York six weeks earlier. It was here in New York
that the Stamp Act Congress met, the forerunner of the federation of the
American colonies which cast off the British yoke. And in the long and
weary war of the Revolution only one of the thirteen colonies furnished
its full quota of men, money, and supplies--and that colony was the
colony of New York!"

Once more was the speaker interrupted by a tumult of approval; and once
more he went on again as soon as he could make himself heard.

"When the critical period in the history of this country came--that is,
when the need of a new constitution was felt by all--no men had a larger
share in the making of that constitution than two New-Yorkers, Alexander
Hamilton and John Jay, while the nervous English of that great
instrument was due to a third New-Yorker, Gouverneur Morris. It was in
New York that the foundations of American literature were laid, by the
publication of _Knickerbocker's History_, the earliest book to be
printed in America which keeps its popularity to-day--and more than
fourscore years have not yet tarnished its humor. To the author of this
immortal book, to Washington Irving, was due the first work of American
authorship which won acceptance outside of the boundaries of the United
States. And as it was the _Sketch-Book_ of Washington Irving which was
the first American book to win its way in England, so it was the _Spy_
of another citizen of New York, Fenimore Cooper, which was the first
American book to achieve fame outside of the English language. It was
here in New York that our American literature was first fostered, as it
is here in New York that our American authors are most abundant, most
highly honored, and most richly rewarded."

The speaker paused again, but only for a moment.

"As in letters, so in the arts. Here in New York the National Academy of
Design was founded, and later the Society of American Artists; and to
two painters of New York, to Robert Fulton and to Samuel F. B. Morse, we
owe the steamboat and the telegraph. Here in New York was founded the
Children's Aid Society--than which no city in the world has a nobler
charity--the first of the kind and the most successful. Here in New
York, also, Peter Cooper established the first institution intended to
provide instruction to all ambitious youth--an institution that has
been imitated in almost every city of the Union, although no city of the
Union has ever had a citizen more esteemed or better beloved than was
Peter Cooper here in New York. It is not in 'a city of kites and crows'
that men of Peter Cooper's character choose to dwell; it is not in 'a
city of kites and crows' that men of Peter Cooper's character are
cherished and revered."

Here the speech was again broken into by prolonged applause. Men rose to
their feet and cheered, waving their napkins over their heads.

When there was quiet once more the speaker went on:

"After years of peace and of prosperity, the people of the United States
suddenly found themselves face to face with armed rebellion, and war
loomed before us inevitable. New York was ready then as always. The
first regiment to reach the capital of the country--to secure it against
traitors--was a regiment of New York City militia. Nor was there ever
after any lack of men here in this city who despised the snares of death
and defied the pains of hell, and who went into battle bravely, and
gayly, and glad that--in the words of one of them--glad that 'there is
lots of good fighting along the whole line.' I have been told--I confess
I have not been able to verify the figures--but I have been told, that
the number of men who enlisted into the army and the navy of the United
States from this city of ours during those four long years of doubt and
anxiety exceeded the number of the male inhabitants of fighting age in
the year when the rebellion broke out. And not content with furnishing
men to fight, the city of New York saw to it that the wounded were duly
attended to and their anguish lightened as far as might be--for it was
here that the United States Sanitary Commission was organized."

There were cheers once more and yet again, and it was not for a full
minute that the speaker was enabled to continue.

"Your applause tells me that I need say no more," he began. "A
successful city is the spoiled child of fortune, and perhaps, like other
spoiled children, it is all the better for a sound thrashing now and
then. But what has New York done amiss now, that she should be scourged
with scorpions? In the welter of politics it may be considered adroit to
suggest that your opponent is either a wolf in sheep's clothing or an
ass in a lion's skin; but it is more adroit still, it seems to me, to
avoid personality altogether. The louder the report of the gun, the more
violent the kick is. When a New-Yorker hears his beloved town called 'a
city of kites and crows' his first impulse is to laugh; his second is to
inquire as to the man who said it; and his third is to laugh again and
louder when he discovers that the author of this assertion is from
Nevada, a state where even Santa Claus on Christmas Eve does not dare
go his rounds for fear of being held up by road-agents!"

This time a burst of hearty laughter mingled with the abundant applause
as the speaker sat down.

"That's a very good speech," the young man who seemed to be a stranger
said to his left-hand neighbor.

"Good speech?" echoed the other enthusiastically; "I should think so.
It's the speech of the evening, sure! There's not one of them can beat
that."

"I've been in Japan for the past five years, and I seem to have lost
track of people here in the city," said the young man. "What is the name
of the gentleman who made the speech?"

"Horace Chauncy," was the answer. "I thought everybody knew him. His
father was United States Senator from West Virginia, and his mother was
a famous Kentucky belle in her day. He himself used to be the leader of
the California bar before he moved here a few years ago. He caught on at
once in New York; he's one of the most popular speakers we have now;
some fellows call him 'Our Horace.' Haven't you ever heard about him,
really?"

"Well," the young man retorted, "you mustn't expect me to know all these
people. You see, I was born in New York."

(1894.)



A THANKSGIVING-DAY DINNER


Thanksgiving Day had dawned clear and cold, an ideal day for the
foot-ball game. Soon after breakfast the side-streets had been made
hideous by small bands of boys, strangely disguised as girls some of
them, or as Indians and as negroes, with improvised costumes and with
staring masks; they blew fish-horns, and besought coppers. A little
later in the day groups of fantasticals paraded on horseback or in
carriages; and straggling target companies--some of them in the uniforms
worn during the political campaign which had culminated in the election
three weeks earlier--marched irregularly up the avenues under the
elevated railroads, preceded by thin lines of pioneers, and by slim
bands of music that played spasmodically before the many adjacent
saloons, at the doors of which the companies came to a halt willingly.

The sun shone out and warmed one side of the street as people came from
church; and the wind blew gently down the avenues, and fluttered the
petals of the yellow chrysanthemums which expanded themselves in many
button-holes. Little groups of young people passed, the girls with
knots of blue at their throats or with mufflers of orange and black, the
young men with college-buttons or with protruding handkerchiefs of the
college colors. The fashionable dealers in men's goods had arranged
their windows with impartial regard for future custom--one with blue
flannels and scarfs, shirts and socks, and the other all orange and
black. Coaches began to go by, draped with one set of colors or the
other, and filled with young men who split the air with explosive
cheers, while waving blue pennants with white letters, or yellow
pennants with black. The sun shone brightly, and the brisk breeze
shivered the bare branches of the trees. It rippled the flags which
projected from the vehicles gathering at Madison Square and streaming up
the avenue in thick succession--coaches, private carriages, omnibuses,
road-wagons of one kind or another.

Towards nightfall the tide turned and the coaches began to come back,
the young men hoarse with incessant shouting of their staccato college
cries. Some of them, wild with joy at the victory of their own team, had
voice still for exulting yells. Others were saddened into silence by the
defeat of their side. Most of those who had gone out to see the game
belonged neither to the college of the blue nor to the college of the
black and orange, but they were all stimulated by the struggle they had
just seen--a struggle of strength and of skill, of gumption and of grit.
The sun had gone down at last, and the bracing breeze of noon had now a
touch of dampness which chilled the flesh. But the hearty young fellows
paid no heed to it; they cheered and they sang and they cried aloud one
to the other as though the season were spring, and they were alone on
the sea-shore.

Robert White caught the fever like the rest, and as he walked down the
avenue to the College Club he was conscious of an excitement he had not
felt for years. He was alone in the city for a week, as it happened, his
wife having taken the children into the country for a long-promised
visit; and he had been spending his evenings at the College Club. So it
was that he had joined in chartering a coach, and for the first time in
a dozen years he had seen the foot-ball game. He had been made happy by
the success of his own college, and by meeting classmates whom he had
not laid eyes on since their Commencement in the heat of the Centennial
summer. One of them was now the young governor of a new Western State,
and another was likely to be a member of the new President's cabinet.

On the way out to the game White had sat beside a third classmate, now a
professor in the old college, and they had talked over their four years
and their fellow-students. They recalled the young men of promise who
had failed to sustain the hopes of the class; the steady, hard-working
fellows, who were steady and hard-working still; the quiet, shy man who
had known little Latin and less Greek, but was fond of science, and who
was now developing into one of the foremost novelists of the country;
the best base-ball player of the class, now the pastor of one of the
leading churches of Chicago; and others who had done well for themselves
in the different walks of life. They talked over the black sheep of the
class--some dead, some worse than dead, some dropped out of sight.

"What has become of Johnny Carroll?" asked the professor.

"I have not seen him since class-day. There was some wretched scandal
before Commencement, you know, and I doubt if Johnny ever got his
degree," White answered.

"I know he didn't," the professor returned. "He never dared to apply for
it."

"They managed to keep the trouble very quiet, whatever it was," White
went on. "I never knew just what the facts were."

"I didn't know then," responded the professor; "I have been told since.
But there is no need to go into that now. The girl is dead long ago, and
Johnny too, for all I have heard."

"Poor Johnny Carroll," White said; "I can remember how handsome he
looked that last night, the night of class-day. But he was always
handsome and always well dressed. He was not very clever or very
anything, was he? Yet we all liked him."

[Illustration: COMING FROM CHURCH]

"I remember that he tried to get on the Freshman crew," the professor
remarked, after a pause, "but the temptations of high living were too
much for him. He wouldn't train."

"Training was just what he needed most," White added; "moral and mental
as well as physical. Fact is, he always had more money than was good for
him. His father was in Wall Street then, and making money hand over
fist."

"It wasn't till the year after we were graduated that old Carroll
committed suicide, was it?" the professor inquired. "Blew out his brains
in the bath-tub, didn't he?"

"And didn't leave enough money to pay for his funeral," White answered.
"Johnny was in hard luck always: he had too much money at first, and
none at all when he needed it most."

"His great misfortune," said the professor, "was that his father was
'one of the boys.'"

"Yes," White agreed, "that is pretty rough on a fellow. I wonder where
Johnny is, if he is alive? Out West, perhaps, prospecting on a grub
stake, or else stoker on an ocean steamer, or perhaps he's a member of
the Broadway squad, earning a living by elbowing ladies over the
crossing."

"I hope he has as good a berth as that," the professor answered; "but I
don't believe that Johnny Carroll would stay on the force long, even if
he got the appointment. Do you remember how well he sang 'The Son of a
Gamboleer'?"

It was this question of the professor's which Robert White remembered
after he had got off the coach and was walking towards Madison Square.
Three young fellows, mere boys two of them, were staggering on just in
front of him. They were arm in arm, in hope of a triplicate stability
quite unattainable without more ballast than they carried, and they were
singing the song Johnny Carroll had made his own in college. The wind
was still sharpening, and the wooden signs which projected across the
sidewalk here and there swung heavily as they felt its force. There were
knots of eager young men and boys going to and fro before the
brilliantly lighted porticos of the hotels.

As White stepped aside to get out of the way of one of these groups,
rather more hilarious than the others, he knocked into a man who was
standing up against the glaring window of a restaurant. The man was thin
and pinched; his face was clean-shaven and blue; his clothes were
threadbare; his attitude was as though he were pressing close to the
glass in the hope of a reflected warmth.

"I beg your pardon," cried White.

The man turned stiffly. "It's of no con--" he began, then he saw White's
face in the bright light which streamed across the sidewalk. He stopped,
hesitated for a moment, and then turned away.

The moment had been enough for White to recognize him. "Johnny Carroll!"
he called.

The man continued to move away.

White overtook him in two strides, and laid a hand on his shoulder.
"Johnny!" he said again.

The man faced about and answered doubtfully, "Well, what do you want?"

"Is this really you, Johnny Carroll?" asked White, as he held out his
hand.

"Oh yes," said the other, "it's Johnny Carroll--and you are Bob White."

White's hand was still extended. After a long pause his classmate took
it. White was shocked at the chill of Carroll's fingers. "Why, man," he
cried, "you are cold."

"Well," the other answered, simply, "why not? It isn't the first time."
Then, after a swift glance at White's face, he turned his own away and
said, "I'm hungry, too, if you want to know."

"So am I," said White, cordially. "I was going to have my Thanksgiving
dinner alone. Will you join me, Johnny?"

"Do you mean it?" asked the other.

"Why shouldn't we dine together?" White responded, setting off briskly
and putting his arm through his classmate's. "Our team has won to-day,
you know--eighteen to nothing; we'll celebrate the victory."

"Where are you taking me?" inquired Johnny, uneasily.

"To the College Club, of course," answered White. "We'll--"

"I mustn't go there," said Johnny, stopping short. "I couldn't face them
now. I--oh, I couldn't!"

"Very well, then," White agreed. "Where shall we go? What do you say to
Delmonico's?"

Again Johnny asked: "Do you mean it? Honest?"

"Of course I mean it, Johnny," he replied.

"I haven't been in Delmonico's for ten years and more," said the other.
"I'd like to have just another dinner there. But you can't take me
there. Look at me!"

White looked at him. The thin coat was buttoned tight; it was very worn,
and yet it was not ragged; it was in better condition than the hat or
the boots.

As the two men stood there facing each other on the corner of the street
there was a foretaste of winter in the wind which smote them and ate
into their marrow.

White linked his arm again in his classmate's. "I've seen you look
sweller, Johnny, I confess," he said; "but I haven't dressed for dinner
myself to-night."

"So it's Delmonico's?" Johnny asked.

"It's Delmonico's," White responded.

"Then take me into the café," said the other. "I can stand the men, I
think, but I'm not in shape to go into the restaurant where the women
are."

"Very well," agreed White. "We'll try the café."

When they entered the café it was crowded with young men. There was
already a blue haze of smoke over the heads of the noisy throng. Boys
drinking champagne at adjacent tables were calling across to each other
with boisterous merriment.

White was able to secure a small table near the corner on the Broadway
side. As he walked over to it he nodded to half a score of
acquaintances, some of whom looked askant at his companion, and
exchanged whispered comments after he had passed.

Apparently Johnny neither saw the looks nor heard the whispers. He
followed White as if in a dream; and White had noticed that when they
had entered the heated room Carroll had drawn a long breath as though to
warm himself.

"I don't need an overcoat in here," he said, as he took the chair
opposite White's with the little marble-topped table between them.

When the waiter had deftly laid the cloth, Johnny fingered its fair
softness, as with a cat-like enjoyment of its cleanness.

"Now, what shall we have?" asked White, as the waiter handed him the
bill of fare in its narrow frame. "What would you like?"

"I?" the guest responded; "oh, anything--whatever you want--some roast
beef."

"Then your taste has changed since you left college," White declared. "I
asked you what you would _like_."

"What _I'd_ like?" echoed Johnny. "Do you mean it? Honest?"

White smiled as the old college phrase dropped again from the lips of
his classmate.

"Of course I mean it," he said; "honest. There's the bill of fare. Order
what you please. And remember that it is Thanksgiving, and that I'm
hungry, and that I want a good dinner."

"Very well, then," said Johnny, as he took the bill of fare. He was
already warmer, and now he seemed to expand a little with the unwonted
luxury of the occasion.

He looked over the bill of fare carefully.

"Blue Points on the half-shell, of course," he began, adding to the
waiter, "be sure that they are on the deep shell. Green turtle soup--the
green turtle here used to be very good fifteen years ago. _Filet de
sole, à la Mornay_--the sole is flounder, I suppose, but _à la Mornay_ a
man could eat a Hebrew manuscript. Then a canvas-back apiece--two
canvas-back, you understand, real canvas-back, not red-head or
mallard--with samp, of course, and a mayonnaise of celery. Then a bit of
Chedder cheese and a cup of coffee. How will that suit you, White?"

"That will suit me," White responded. "And now what wine?"

"Wine, too?" Johnny queried.

White smiled and nodded.

"Well, I'll go you," the guest went on. "I might as well see the thing
through, if you are bound to do it in style." He turned over the bill of
fare and scanned the wine list on the under side. "Yquem '74 with the
oysters; and they tell me there is a Silver Seal Special '84 _brut_ that
is better than anything one has tasted before. Give us a quart of that
with the duck. And let us have it as soon as you can."

He handed the bill of fare to the waiter, and then, for the first time,
he ventured to glance about the room.

The oysters were brought very soon, and when Johnny had eaten them and
part of a roll, and when he had drunk two glasses of the Yquem, White
said to him: "Tell me something about yourself. What have you been doing
all these years?"

Johnny's face fell a little. "I've done pretty nearly everything," he
answered, "from driving a Fifth Avenue stage to keeping books for a
Third Avenue pawnbroker. I've been a waiter at a Coney Island chowder
saloon. Two summers ago I waited on the man who has just taken our
order--I waited on him more than once. I've dealt faro, too."

The waiter brought the soup and served them.

When he left them alone again, White asked: "Can't some of your old
friends help you out of this--give you a start and set you up again?"

"It's no good trying," Johnny replied. "You can't pull me up now. It's
too late. I guess it was too late from the start."

"Why don't you drop this place?" White queried, "and go out West,
and--"

"What's the use of talking about that?" Johnny interrupted. "I can't
live away from New York. If I got out of sight of that tower over there
I'd die."

"You will die here soon enough at this rate," White answered.

"That's so, too," admitted Johnny; "but it can't be helped now." He was
eating steadily, sturdily, but not ravenously.

After the waiter had served the fish, White asked again, "What can we do
for you?"

"Nothing," Johnny answered--"nothing at all. Yes, you can give me a
five, if you like, or a ten; but don't give me your address, or the
first time I'm down again I'd look you up and strike you for ten more."

A band of undergraduates, twenty of them or more, four abreast, arm in
arm, went tramping down Broadway, yelling forth the chorus of a college
song.

"You used to sing that song, Johnny," said White.

"I used to do lots of things," he answered, as the waiter opened the
champagne.

"I never heard anybody get as much out of 'The Son of a Gamboleer' as
you did," White continued.

"I joined a negro-minstrel troupe as second tenor twelve years ago, but
we got stranded in Hartford, and I had to walk home. I've tried to do a
song and dance in the Bowery dime museums since then, more than once.
But it's no use."

When they had made an end of the canvas-backs and the _brut_ '84, Johnny
sat back in his chair and smiled, and said, "Well, this was worth
while."

Then the coffee came, and White said, "You forgot to order the liqueur,
Johnny."

"You see what it is to be out of practice," he replied. "I'd like some
orange curaçoa."

"And I will take a little green mint," said White to the waiter. "And
bring some cigars--Henry Clays."

"That's right," Johnny declared. "My father was always a Henry Clay man,
and I suppose that's why I like those cigars."

After the cigars were lighted White looked his companion square in the
face. "Are you sure," he asked, "that we can do nothing for you?"

"Dead sure," was the answer.

"Nothing?"

"You have given me a good dinner," said Johnny. "That's enough. That's
more than most of my old friends would give me. And there's nothing more
to be done."

White held his peace for the moment.

Johnny took a long sip of his coffee, and drew three or four times at
his cigar. "That's a first-rate cigar," he said. "I haven't smoked a
Henry Clay for nearly two years, and then I picked up one a man had
lighted, between the acts, outside of Daly's."

He puffed at it again with voluptuous appreciation, and then leaned
across the table to White and remarked, confidentially, "Do you know,
Bob, 'most everything I've cared for in this world has been immoral, or
expensive, or indigestible."

"Yes," White admitted; "I suppose that's the cause of your bad luck."

"I've had lots of luck in my life," was the response, "good and
bad--better than I deserved, most of it--this dinner, for example; I
should remember it even without to-morrow's dyspepsia. But what's the
use of anticipating evil? I'll let the next day take care of itself, and
make the best of this one. There are several hours of it left--where
shall we go now?"

(1892.)



IN THE MIDST OF LIFE


It was late in the afternoon when John Suydam turned into Twenty-third
Street, and he remarked the absence of the gleam of color generally
visible far away to the westward beyond the end of the street and across
the river. There was no red vista that Christmas Eve, for the sky was
overcast and lowering, and there was a damp chill in the air, a
premonition of approaching snow. It was about the edge of dusk as he
skirted Madison Square and saw the electric-lights twinkle out suddenly
up and down Fifth Avenue, and in the square here and there.

The young man crossed Broadway, skilfully avoiding a huge express wagon,
and springing lightly out of the path of a clanging cable-car. He
crossed Fifth Avenue, threading his way through the carriages and the
carts piled high with paper-covered packages. The white walls of the
hotel on the opposite side of Twenty-third Street were dingy under the
leaden sky as the haze of the swift twilight settled down. The wind died
away altogether, and yet the atmosphere was raw and dank. Suydam bought
an evening paper from the crippled newsboy who sat in his
rolling-chair, warmly wrapped against the weather, and seemingly
cheerful and contented with his takings.

A few steps farther the young man passed an old French sailor standing
on the curb-stone, and using his single hand to wind the machinery of a
glazed box, wherein a ship was to be seen tossing on the regular waves
while a train of cars kept crossing a bridge which spanned an estuary.
Almost under the sailor's feet there was an old woman huddled in a dirty
heap over a tiny hand-organ, from which she was slowly grinding a
doubtful and dolorous tune. By her side, but a little beyond, two boys
were offering for sale green wreaths and stars and ropes of greenery, to
be used in festooning. Close to the broad windows of a dry-goods store,
whence a yellow light streamed forth, a tall, thin man had a board on a
trestle, and on this portable table he was showing off the antics of a
toy clown who tumbled artlessly down a steep flight of steps. The people
who hurried past, with parcels under their arms, rarely stopped to look
at the ship tossing on the waves, or to listen to the hesitating tune of
the wheezy organ, or to buy a bit of green or a performing clown. Yet
the open-air bazaar, as it might plainly be called, the out-door fair,
extended all the way along the street, and on both edges of the sidewalk
the fakirs were trying to gather in their scanty Christmas harvest.

Before John Suydam came to the corner of Sixth Avenue the snow began at
last to fall; the first flakes descended hesitatingly, scurried by a
brief wind that sprang up for a minute or two, and then died away
absolutely. After a while the snow thickened and fell faster, sifting
down softly and silently, but filling the air under the electric-lights
which were clustered at the corner, and reddening under the glare of the
engines on the elevated railroad overhead, as the cars rushed along girt
with swirling clouds of steam. The snow clustered upon the boughs of the
unsold Christmas-trees which stood irregularly along the sidewalk before
a florist's a few doors down Sixth Avenue, and by the time Suydam had
turned the corner, they looked like the shrouded ghosts of balsam pines.

All along the avenue he had to make his way through the same crowds of
belated Christmas shoppers, hurrying in and out of the overgrown stores,
availing themselves of their last chance to buy gifts for the morrow;
but as he advanced, the throng thinned a little, driven home perhaps by
the snow-storm. Yet though the purchasers were fewer, the peddlers
persisted. Suydam noted one old man, bent and shrivelled, and with a
long gray beard, who had a tray before him hung on a strap over his
shoulders, and on the narrow board were plaster figures of Santa Claus
carrying aloft a branching Christmas-tree besprinkled with glittering
crystalline flakes. Under the hood of the staircase of the station of
the elevated railroad he saw a little blind woman wrapped in a scant
shawl, silently proffering half a dozen lead-pencils. And high over the
centre of the roadway the snow-clad trains thundered up and down, with
white plumes of steam trailing from the engines.

As Suydam neared Fourteenth Street he found the crowds compacting again;
and at the corner there was a chaos of carriages, carts, and
street-cars. The flights of stairs leading to the elevated railroad
station were packed with people bearing bundles and boxes, most of them,
ascending and descending with difficulty, jostling one another
good-naturedly. Long lines of children of all ages spread along the wide
plate-glass windows at the corner of one huge store, gazing wonderingly
at a caravan of toy animals in gorgeous trappings, with chariots and
palanquins, which kept circling around in front of painted palm-trees
and gayly-decorated tents. The snow was now falling fast, but still the
young ones looked admiringly and waited willingly, though their hats
were whitened, and though the soft flakes melted on their capes and on
their coats.

The mass of humanity clustering about these windows forced Suydam almost
to the edge of the sidewalk; but this was the last crowd he had to make
his way through. Lower down there were no solid groups, although the
avenue was still thronged. He was able to quicken his pace. So he sped
along, passing the butchers', where carcasses of sheep and of beeves
hung in line garlanded with ropes of evergreen; passing the grocers',
where the shelves were battlemented with cans of food; passing the
bakers', where bread and cakes, pies and crullers, were displayed in
trays and in baskets. He glanced into the yellow windows of
candy-stores, and saw the parti-colored sweetmeats temptingly spread
out. He caught a glimpse of more than one dealer in _delicatessen_ whose
display of silver-clad sausage and heavy pasty and wicker-work flask was
enough to stimulate the appetite of a jaded epicure. He saw the signs of
a time of plenty, but no one knew better than John Suydam that just then
there was truly a season of want.

Night had fallen before he reached the court-house, with its high roof
and its lofty turret, before he came to the market, with its yawning
baskets of vegetables and its long rows of pendent turkeys beneath the
flaring jets of gas. He crossed the avenue and turned into a small
street--not here at right angles to the thoroughfare, as are the most of
the side streets of New York. At last he stopped before a little house,
an old two-story building, worn with long use, and yet dignified in its
decay. The tiny dwelling had a Dutch roof, with two dormer-windows; and
it had been built when the Dutch traditions of New Amsterdam were
stronger than they are to-day.

The young man mounted the high stoop, on which the snow was now nearly
half an inch thick. He rang the bell twice with a measured interval
between. The flying step of a girl was heard, and then the door was
thrown open, and Suydam disappeared within the little old house.

As the door closed, the young man took the young woman in his arms and
kissed her.

"Oh, John," she said, "it is so good of you to come on Christmas Eve.
How did you manage to get away?"

"I've only two hours," he answered, "and I had to get something to eat,
so I thought that perhaps you--"

"Of course we can," the girl interrupted. "And mother will be delighted.
She has made one of her old-fashioned chicken pies, and it's ever so
much too much for us two. It will be ready at six."

"Then I know where I'm going to get my dinner," her lover returned, as
he followed her into the little parlor. "But I shall have to go back as
soon as I've had it. I've told them that I think the office ought to be
kept open till midnight, and I said I'd stay. It would be a sorrowful
thing, wouldn't it, if any one who wants help couldn't get it on
Christmas Eve?"

"And there must be many who want help this hard winter," said the girl.
"I went as far as Broadway this afternoon, on an errand for mother, and
I passed six beggars--"

"Oh, beggars--" he began.

"Yes, I know," she interrupted again. "I did not give them anything,
though it seemed so cruel not to. I knew what you thought about
indiscriminate charity, and so I steeled my heart. And I suffered for
it, too. I know I should have felt happier if I had given something to
one or two of them."

"I suppose you did deprive yourself of the virtuous glow of
self-satisfaction," Suydam admitted. "But that virtuous glow is too
cheap to be valuable. If we want to help our neighbor really, we must
practise self-sacrifice, and not purchase an inexpensive
self-gratification at the cost of his self-respect."

"I should feel as though I wasn't spending Christmas if I didn't give
away something," she protested.

"Exactly," he returned. "You haven't yet freed yourself from the
pestilent influence of Dickens, though you have much more sense, too,
than nine women out of ten. You have blindly followed the belief that
you ought to give for your own sake, without thinking whether it was
best for the beggar to receive. Dickens's Christmas stories are now
breeding their third generation of paupers; and I doubt if we can
convince the broad public of the absurdity of his sociology in another
half-century. It takes science to solve problems; hysteric emotionalism
won't do it."

"You don't think all the beggars I saw to-day were humbugs, do you?" she
asked.

"There isn't one chance in ten that any one of the half-dozen is really
in need," he answered; "and probably five out of the six have taken to
begging partly out of laziness, and partly because they can beg larger
wages than they can earn honestly."

"But there was one old man; he must have been forty, at least," urged
the girl, "who was positively starving. Why, just as I turned out of
Broadway, I saw him spring down to the gutter and pick up a crust of
bread and begin to eat it greedily. I felt in my pocket for my purse, of
course, but a gentleman had seen it, too, and he went up to the man and
talked to him and gave him a five-dollar bill. Now, there was a real
case of distress, wasn't it?"

Suydam smiled, sadly. "The starving man was about forty, you say? Tall
and thin, wasn't he, with a thin, pointed beard, and a mark on his right
cheek?"

The girl looked at him in wonder. "Why, how did you know?" she cried.

"That's Scar-faced Charley," he answered.

"And is he a humbug, too?" she asked.

"I followed him for two hours one afternoon last week," he explained,
"and I saw him pick up that bit of bread and pretend to eat it at least
twenty times. When I had him arrested he had more than ten dollars in
his pockets."

"Well," the young woman declared, "I shall never believe in anybody
again."

"But I don't see how it is Scar-faced Charley is out to-day," Suydam
went on. "We had him sent up for a month only, for the judge was easy
with him. If he's out again so soon, I suppose he must have a pull of
some sort. Those fellows often have more influence than you would
think."

"He took me in completely," the girl admitted. "If Scar-faced Charley,
as you call him, can act so well, why doesn't he go on the stage and
earn an honest living?"

"That's the first thing that astonished me when I went to live in the
University Settlement last spring, and began to study out these things
for myself. I found beggars who were fond of their profession, and who
prided themselves on their skill. What are you to do with them? And if
you let them ply their trade, how are you going to distinguish them from
those who are really in need?"

"It is all very puzzling to me," the girl confessed. "Since I've heard
you talk, charity doesn't seem half as simple as it used to."

"No," said Suydam, "it isn't simple. In fact, it is about as complicated
and complex a problem as the twentieth century will have to solve. But
I'm coming to one conclusion fast, and that is that the way to tell
those who need help from those who don't need it is, that the latter ask
for it, and the former won't. New York is rich and generous, and there's
never any difficulty about getting money enough to relieve every case of
distress in the city limits--none whatever. The real difficulty is in
getting the money to the people who really need it, and in keeping it
from the people who ought not to have it. You see that those who ask for
assistance don't deserve it--not once in fifty times; and those who
deserve it won't ask for it. There are men and women--women
especially--who will starve before they will face the pity of their
fellows. Every day I hear of cases of suffering borne silently, and
discovered only by accident."

"I've been wondering for a week if we haven't one of those cases in this
house now," said the girl.

"In this house?" the young man repeated.

"I've been meaning to tell you all about it every day," she went on,
"but I've seen so little of you, and when you do come we have so many
things to talk about, you know."

"I know," Suydam repeated. He was seated by her side on the sofa, and
his arm was around her waist. He drew her closer to him and kissed her.
"Now tell me about your case of distress," he said.

"Well," the girl began, "this house is too big for mother and me alone,
so we let one room on the top floor to two old ladies. They have been
here since before Thanksgiving. They are foreigners--Cubans, I think.
The mother must be seventy, and I can see she has been very handsome.
The daughter is nearly fifty, I'm sure; and a more devoted daughter you
never saw. She waits on her mother hand and foot. They didn't bring any
baggage to speak of--no trunk, only just a little bag--and we saw at
once that they were very, very poor. They paid two weeks' rent in
advance, and since then they've paid two weeks' more. A fortnight ago
the daughter told mother that they would be obliged if she would let
them defer paying the rent for a little while, as a letter they were
expecting had not come. And I suppose that was so, for the postman never
whistled but the daughter came running down stairs to see if there
wasn't something for them. But it hasn't come yet, and I don't believe
they've got enough money to get things to eat, hardly. The daughter used
to go out every morning, and come back with a tiny little parcel. You
see, there's a gas-stove in their room, and they do their own cooking.
But she hasn't been out of the house for two days, and we haven't seen
either of them since the day before yesterday, when the daughter came to
the head of the stairs and asked if there was a letter for her mother.
We can hear them moving about overhead gently, but we haven't seen them.
And now we don't really know what to do. I'm so glad you've come, for I
told mother I was going to ask you about them."

"Do you think they have no money?" Suydam asked.

"I'm afraid it's all gone," she answered. "And they have no friends at
all so far as we know."

"You say they are Cubans?"

"I think they are. Their name is De los Rios--Señora de los Rios, I
heard the daughter call her mother when she asked the postman about a
letter."

"If it wasn't so late," said the young man, looking at his watch, "I
would go to the Spanish Consulate. But it's nearly six now, and the
consulate is certain to be closed. If there is any reason to think that
they are actually suffering for want of food, can't you find some
feminine reason for intruding on them."

"I'm afraid we can't," she answered. "We did try yesterday morning. When
we found that the daughter didn't go out for something to cook, we
misdoubted they might be hungry, and so we talked it over and over, and
did our best to hit on some way of helping them. At last mother had an
idea, and she made a sort of Spanish stew--what they call an _olla
podrida_, you know. She got the receipt out of the cook-book, and she
took it up and knocked at the door. They asked who it was, and they
didn't open the door but a little. Mother told the daughter that she had
been trying to make a Spanish dish, and she didn't know as she'd got it
right, and so she'd come up to ask them as a favor if they wouldn't
taste it, and tell her if it was all right. You see that was mother's
idea. She thought she might get them to eat it that way, and save their
pride. But it wouldn't do. The daughter said that she was sorry, but she
couldn't taste it then, she couldn't, nor her mother either. They had no
appetite then, and so they couldn't judge of the _olla podrida_. She
said they had just been cooking some chops and steaks."

"Chops and steaks?" echoed Suydam.

"That's what she said," the girl continued. "But of course that was only
her excuse for refusing. That was her way of impressing on mother that
they didn't need anything. So mother had to give it up, and bring the
stew down-stairs again. Mother doesn't feel so badly about them,
however, because they had been cooking something yesterday. She smelt
fish--yesterday was Friday, you know."

"I know," repeated the young man; "but still I--"

Just then the shrill whistle of the postman was heard, and a sharp ring
at the bell.

The girl jumped up, and went to the door. As she opened it there came in
the faint melody of distant sleigh-bells, and the roar of the street
already muffled by the snow.

She returned to the parlor with a long blue envelope in her hand.

"Here is the letter at last," she said.

"What letter?" asked Suydam.

"The letter the old ladies are waiting for," she answered, handing it to
him.

He held it up nearer the single gas-jet of the parlor and read the
address aloud, "'Marquisa de los Rios,' and it's registered."

"Yes," the girl returned, "and the postman is waiting to have the
receipt signed. He said he guessed it was money or a Christmas present
of some sort, since it had so many seals on it. I wanted you to know
about it; but I'll take it right up now."

She tripped lightly up-stairs, and John Suydam heard her knocking at the
door of the room the two old ladies occupied. After an interval she
rapped again, apparently without response. Then he heard her try the
door gently.

Two seconds later her voice rang out in a cry of alarm: "Mother! mother!
Oh, John!"

Suydam sprang up-stairs, and found her just outside of the door of the
old ladies' room. She was trembling, and she gripped his hand.

"Oh, John," she said, "something terrible has happened! It was even
worse than I thought! They really were starving!"

Then she led him silently into the room, where her mother joined them
almost immediately.

After waiting five minutes the postman at the front door below became
impatient. He rang the bell sharply and whistled again. He was kicking
the snow off his boots and swinging his arms to keep warm, when at last
the door opened and John Suydam appeared, with the long blue envelope in
his hand.

"I'm afraid that you will have to take this letter away again," Suydam
said to the postman. "There is no one here now to sign for it. The
Marquisa de los Rios is dead!"



OUTLINES IN LOCAL COLOR



AN INTERVIEW WITH MISS MARLENSPUYK


It was a chill day early in January, and at four in the afternoon a gray
sky shut in the city, like the cylindrical background of a cyclorama.
Now and then a wreath of steam chalked itself on the slate-colored
horizon; and across the river, far over to the westward, there was a
splash of pink, sole evidence of the existence of the sun, which no one
had seen for twenty-four hours.

As Miss Marlenspuyk turned the corner of the side street she stood still
for a moment, looking down on the long Riverside Drive and on the mighty
Hudson below, flowing sluggishly beneath its shield of ice. She had long
passed the limit of threescore years and ten, and she had been an
indefatigable traveller; and as she gazed, absorbing the noble beauty of
the splendid scene, unsurpassable in any other city she had ever
visited, she was glad that she was a New-Yorker born and bred, and that
it was her privilege to dwell where a vision like this was to be had for
the asking. But while she looked lovingly up and down the solemn stream
the wind sprang up again, and fluttered her gray curls and blew her
wrappings about her.

Two doors above the corner where Miss Marlenspuyk was standing a striped
awning stretched its convolutions across the sidewalk and up the
irregular stone steps, and thrust itself into the door-way at the top of
the stoop. A pretty young girl, with a pleasantly plump figure and with
a dash of gold in her fair hair, passed through this twisting canvas
tunnel just ahead of Miss Marlenspuyk; and when the door of the house
was opened to admit them they entered together, the old maid and the
young girl.

The house was illuminated as though it were already night; the curtains
were drawn, and the lamps, with their fantastically extravagant shades
of fringed silk, were all alight. The atmosphere was heavy with the
perfume of flowers, which were banked up high on the mantel-pieces and
the tables, while thick festoons of smilax were pendent from all the
gas-fixtures and over all the mirrors. Palms stood in the corners and in
the fireplaces; and at one end of the hall they were massed as a screen,
through which glimpses could be caught of the bright uniforms of the
Hungarian band.

In the front parlor, before a broad table on which there were a dozen or
more beautiful bouquets tied with bows of ribbon, and under a bower of
solid ropes of smilax, stood the lady of the house with the daughter she
was that afternoon introducing to society. The hostess was a handsome,
kindly woman, with scarce a gray hair in her thick dark braids. The
daughter was, like her mother, kindly also, and also handsome; she was
better looking, really, than any of the six or seven pretty girls she
had asked to aid her in receiving her mother's friends and
acquaintances.

The young woman who had preceded Miss Marlenspuyk into the house
happened also to precede her in entering the parlor. The hostess,
holding her bunch of orchids in the left hand, greeted the girl
pleasantly, but perhaps with a vague hint of condescension.

"Miss Peters, isn't it?" said the lady of the house, pitching her voice
low, but with an effort, as though the habit had been acquired late in
life. "So good of you to come on such a nasty day. Mildred, you know
Miss Peters?"

Then the daughter stepped forward and smiled and shook hands with Miss
Peters, thus leaving the mother at liberty to greet Miss Marlenspuyk;
and this time there was no trace of condescension in her manner, but
rather a faint suggestion of satisfaction.

"Oh, Miss Marlenspuyk," she said, cordially, "this is a pleasure. So
good of you to come on such a nasty day."

"It did blow as I came to the top of your hill here," Miss Marlenspuyk
returned, "and I'm not as strong as I was once upon a time. I suppose
that few of us are as frisky at seventy-five as we were at seventeen."

"I protest," said the hostess; "you don't look a day older now than
when I first met you."

"That's not so very long ago," the old maid answered. "I don't think
I've known you more than five or ten years, have I? And five or ten
years are nothing to me now. I don't feel any older than I did half a
century ago; but as for my looks--well, the least said about them is
soonest mended. I never was a good-looker, you know."

"How can you say so?" responded the hostess, absently noting a group of
new-comers gathering in the door-way. "Mildred, you know Miss
Marlenspuyk?"

"Oh yes, indeed I do," the girl said, heartily, shaking hands with the
vivacious old maid.

The young woman with the touch of gold in her light hair was still
standing by Mildred's side. Noting this, and seeing the group of
new-comers breaking from the door-way and coming towards her, the
hostess spoke hastily again.

"Do you know Miss Peters, Miss Marlenspuyk?" she asked. "Well, at all
events, Miss Peters ought to know you."

Then she had just time to greet the group of new-comers and to lower her
voice again, and to tell them it was so good of them to come on such a
nasty day.

The daughter was left talking to Miss Marlenspuyk and Miss Peters, but
within a minute her mother called her--"Mildred, you know Mrs.
Hitchcock?"

As the group of new-comers pressed forward the old maid with the bright
blue eyes, and the young woman with the pleasantly plump figure, fell
back a little.

"I've heard so much of you, Miss Marlenspuyk, from my grandfather,"
began the younger woman.

"Your grandfather!" echoed the elder lady. "Then your father must be a
son of Bishop Peters?"

Little Miss Peters nodded.

"Then your grandfather was a great friend of my younger brother's," Miss
Marlenspuyk continued. "They went to school together. I remember the
first time I saw the Bishop--it must be sixty years ago--it was the day
he was put into trousers for the first time! And wasn't he proud of
them!"

Miss Peters joined Miss Marlenspuyk in laughing at this amusing memory.

Then the old maid asked, "Your father married in the South after the
war, didn't he? Wasn't your mother from Atlanta?"

"He lived there till mother died; I was bo'n there," said the girl.
"I've been No'th only two years now this Christmas."

"I don't suppose you found many of your grandfather's friends left.
Nowadays people die so absurdly young," the old maid remarked. "Is your
father here this afternoon?"

"Oh dear no," responded Miss Peters; "he has to live in Southe'n
Califo'nia for his health. I'm in New Yo'k all alone."

"I'm sorry for you, my child," said the elder woman, taking the girl's
hand. "I've been alone myself a great deal, and I know what it means.
But you must do as I did--make friends with yourself, and cultivate a
liking for your own society."

The younger woman laughed lightly, and answered, "But I haven't as
cha'ming a companion as you had."

Miss Marlenspuyk smiled back. "Yes, you have, my child. I'm not an
ill-looking old woman now, I know, but I was a very plain girl; and I
know it isn't good for any one's character to be conscious that she's
almost ugly. But I set out to make the best of it, and I did. I thought
it likely I should have a good deal of my own society, and so I made
friends with this forced acquaintance. Now, I'm very good company for
myself. I'm rarely dull, for I find myself an amusing companion, and we
have lots of interests in common. And if you choose you can also
cultivate a friendship for yourself. But it won't be as necessary for
you as for me, because you are a pretty girl, you see. That glint of
gold in your fair hair is really very fetching. And what are you doing
here in New York all alone?"

"I'm writing," Miss Peters replied.

"Writing?" echoed Miss Marlenspuyk.

"My father's in ve'y bad health, as I told you," the younger woman
explained, "and I have to suppo't myself. So I write."

"But I don't think I've seen anything signed Peters in the magazines,
have I?" asked the old maid.

"Oh, the magazines!" Miss Peters returned--"the magazines! I'm not old
enough to have anything in the magazines yet. You have to wait so long
for them to publish an article, even if they do accept it. But I get
things into the weeklies sometimes. The first time I have a piece
printed that I think you'd like, I'll send it to you, if I may."

"I will read it at once and with pleasure," Miss Marlenspuyk declared,
cordially.

"I don't sign my own name yet," continued Miss Peters; "I use a
pen-name. So perhaps you have read something of mine without knowing
it."

"Perhaps I have, my child," said Miss Marlenspuyk. "I shall be on the
lookout for you now. It must be delightful to be able to put your
thoughts down in black and white, and send them forth to help make the
world brighter and better."

Little Miss Peters laughed again, disclosing a fascinating dimple.

"I don't believe I shall ever write anything that will make the world
better," she said; "and if I did, I don't believe the editor would take
it. I don't think that is just what editors are after nowadays--do you?
They're on the lookout for stuff that'll sell the paper."

"Sad stuff it is, too, most of it," the old maid declared. "When I was a
girl the newspapers were violent enough, and the editors abused each
other like pickpockets, and sometimes they called each other out, and
sometimes somebody else horsewhipped them. But the papers then weren't
as silly and as cheap and as trivial as the papers are now. It seems as
though the editors to-day had a profound contempt for their readers, and
thought anything was good enough for them. Why, I had a letter from a
newspaper last week--a printed form it was, too--stating that they were
'desirous of obtaining full and correct information on Society Matters,
and would appreciate the kindness if Miss Marlenspuyk would forward to
the Society Editor any information regarding entertainments she may
purpose giving during the coming winter, and the Society Editor will
also be happy to arrange for a full report when desired.' Was there ever
such impudence? To ask me to describe my own dinners, and to give a list
of my guests! As though any lady would do a thing like that!"

"There are ladies who do," ventured Miss Peters.

"Then they are not what you and I would call ladies, my child," returned
Miss Marlenspuyk.

The face of the Southern girl flushed suddenly, and she bit her lip in
embarrassment. Then she mustered up courage to ask, "I suppose you do
not read the _Daily Dial_, Miss Marlenspuyk?"

"I tried it for a fortnight once," the old maid answered. "They told me
it had the most news, and all that. But I had to give it up. Nobody that
I knew ever died in the _Dial_. My friends all died in the _Gotham
Gazette_."

"The _Gazette_ has a larger family circulation," admitted the younger
woman.

"Besides," Miss Marlenspuyk continued, "I could not stand the vulgarity
of the _Dial_. I'm an old woman now, and I've seen a great deal of the
world, but the _Dial_ was too much for me. It seemed to be written down
to the taste of the half-naked inhabitants of an African kraal."

"Oh," protested the other, "do you really think it is as bad as that?"

"Indeed I do," the old maid affirmed. "It's worse than that, because the
poor negroes wouldn't know better. And what was most offensive, perhaps,
in the _Dial_ was the unwholesome knowingness of it."

"I see what you mean," said Miss Peters, and again the color rose in her
cheeks.

"There was that Lightfoot divorce case," Miss Marlenspuyk went on. "The
way the _Dial_ dwelt on that was unspeakable. I'm willing to allow that
Mrs. Lightfoot was not exactly a nice person; I'll admit that she may
have been divorced more times than she had been married--"

"That's admitting a good deal!" said the young woman, as the elder
paused.

"But it is going altogether too far to say that, like Cleopatra, she had
the manners of a kitten and the morals of a cat--isn't it?"

Miss Peters made no response. Her eyes were fixed on the carpet, and her
face was redder than ever.

"Of course it isn't likely you saw the article I mean," the old maid
continued.

"Yes," the younger responded, "I saw it."

"I'm sorry for that," said Miss Marlenspuyk. "I may be old-fashioned--I
suppose I must be at my age--but I don't think that is the kind of thing
a nice girl like you should read."

Again Miss Peters made no response.

"I happen to remember that phrase," Miss Marlenspuyk continued, "because
the article was signed 'Polly Perkins.' Very likely it was a man who
wrote it, after all, but it may have been a woman. And if it was I felt
ashamed for her as I read it. How could one woman write of another in
that way?"

"Perhaps the writer was very poor," pleaded Miss Peters.

"That would not be a good reason, and it is a bad excuse," the old maid
declared. "Of course I don't know what I should do if I were desperately
poor--one never knows. But I think I'd live on cold water and a dry
crust sooner than earn my bread and butter that way--wouldn't you?"

Miss Peters did not answer this direct question. For a moment she said
nothing. Then she raised her head, and there was a hint of high resolve
in the emphasis with which she said, "It is a mean way to make a
living."

Before Miss Marlenspuyk could continue the conversation she was greeted
by two ladies who had just arrived. Miss Peters drew back and stood by
herself in a corner for a few minutes as the throng in front of her
thickened. She was gazing straight before her, but she was not conscious
of the people who encompassed her about. Then she aroused herself, and
went into the dining-room and had a cup of tea and a thin slice of
buttered bread, rolled up and tied with a tiny ribbon. And perhaps
fifteen minutes later she found herself in front of the hostess.

She told the hostess that she had had such a very good time, that she
didn't know when she had met such very agreeable people, and that she
was specially delighted with an old friend of her grandfather's, Miss
Marlenspuyk. "Such a very delightful old maid, with none of the flavor
of desiccated spinsterhood. She does her own thinking, too. She gave me
some of her ideas about modern journalism."

"She is a brilliant conversationalist," said the hostess. "You might
have interviewed her."

"Oh, she talked freely enough," Miss Peters responded. "But I could
never write her up properly. Besides, I'm thinking of giving up
newspaper wo'k."

Three ladies here came towards the hostess, who stepped forward with
extended hand, saying, "So good of you to come on such a nasty day."
Miss Peters availed herself of the opportunity, and made her escape.

It might be half an hour afterwards when Miss Marlenspuyk, having had
her cup of tea and her roll of bread-and-butter, returned to the front
parlor in time to overhear a bashful young man take leave of the
hostess, and wish the hostess's daughter "many happy returns of the
day."

As it happened, there was a momentary stagnation of the flood of guests
when Miss Marlenspuyk went up to say farewell, and she had a chance to
congratulate the daughter of the house on the success of her coming-out
tea.

"Then I must tell you, Miss Marlenspuyk," said the hostess, "that you
completely fascinated little Miss Peters."

"She's a pretty little thing," the old maid returned, "with excellent
manners. That comes with the blood, I suppose; she told me she was a
granddaughter of the Bishop, you know. She isn't like so many of the
girls here, who take what manners they have out of a book. They get them
up overnight, but she was born with them. And she has the final sign of
breeding, which is so rare nowadays--she listens when her elders are
talking."

"Yes," the hostess replied, "Pauline Peters has pleasant manners, for
all she is working on a newspaper now."

"On a newspaper?" repeated Miss Marlenspuyk. "She told me she was
writing for her living, but she didn't say she was on a newspaper."

"She said something about giving it up as she went out," the hostess
remarked; "but I shouldn't think she would, for she has been doing very
well. Some of her articles have made quite a hit. You know she is the
'Polly Perkins' of the _Daily Dial_?"

"No," said Miss Marlenspuyk--"no, I didn't know that."



A LETTER OF FAREWELL


There had been a hesitating fall of snow in the morning, but before noon
it had turned to a mild and fitful rain that had finally modified itself
into a clinging mist as evening drew near. The heavy snow-storm of the
last week in January had left the streets high on both sides with banks
that thawed swiftly whenever the sun came out again, the water running
from them into the broad gutters, and then freezing hard at night, when
the cold wind swept across the city. Now, at nightfall, after a muggy
day, a sickening slush had spread itself treacherously over all the
crossings. The shop-girls going home had to pick their way cautiously
from corner to corner under the iron pillars supporting the station of
the elevated railroad. Train followed train overhead, each close on the
other's heels; and clouds of steam swirled down as the engines came to a
full stop with a shrill grinding of the brakes. From the skeleton spans
of the elevated road moisture dripped on the cable-cars below, as they
rumbled along with their bells clanging sharply when they neared the
crossings. The atmosphere was thick with a damp haze; and there was a
halo about every yellow globe in the windows of the bar-rooms at the
four corners of the avenue. More frequent, as the dismal day wore to an
end, was the hoarse and lugubrious tooting of the ferryboats in the East
River.

Under the steps of the stairs leading up to the aërial station of the
railroad overhead, an Italian street vender had wheeled the barrow
whereon he proffered for sale bananas and apples and nuts. At one end of
this stand was the cylinder in which he was roasting peanuts, and which
he ground as conscientiously as though he were turning a hand-organ. A
scant quarter past six o'clock it might have been, when he opened his
fire-box to throw in a stick or two more of fuel and to warm his
stiffened fingers in the flame. The sudden red glare, glowing through
the drizzle, caught the eye of a middle-aged man who was crossing the
avenue. So insecure was his footing that this momentary relaxation of
his attention was sufficient cause for a false step. His feet slipped
from under him and he fell flat on his back, striking just below the
right shoulder-blade upon a compact mass of snow, hardened by the chilly
breeze, and yet softer than the stone pavement.

The concussion knocked the breath out of him; and he lay there for a
minute almost, gasping again and again, wholly unable to raise himself.
As he struggled to get to his feet and to refill his lungs with air, he
heard a shop-girl cry, "Oh, Liz, did you see him fall? Wasn't it
awful?" And then he heard her companion respond, "I say, Mame, you ask
him if he's hurt bad." Then two men stepped from the sidewalk and lifted
him to his feet, while a boy picked up his hat and handed it to him.

"That's all right," said one of the men; "there ain't no bones broke, is
there?"

The man who had fallen was getting his breath back slowly. "No," he
panted, "there's nothing broke"--and he cautiously moved his limbs to
make sure.

"Ye've knocked the wind out of ye," the other man returned, "but ye'll
get it again in a jiffy. Come into Pat M'Cann's here and have a drink;
that'll put the life into ye again."

"That's it," agreed the man who had been helped to his feet--"that's it;
get me into Pat M'Cann's--they know me there--I can rest a bit--then
I'll be all right again in a little." He broke his sentences short, but
even thus he was able to speak only with effort.

Taking him each by one arm, the two men helped him into the saloon
almost at the door of which he had slipped. They led him straight up to
the bar.

"Good-evenin', Mr. Malone," was the barkeeper's greeting. "The boss was
after askin' for ye." Then seeing the ashen face of the new-comer, he
added, "It's not well ye're lookin'. What can I give ye?"

The man addressed as Malone was plainly attired; his clothes were tidy
but shiny; his overcoat was thin, and it was now thickly stained down
the back by the slush into which he had fallen. The bronze button of the
Grand Army was in the buttonhole of his threadbare coat.

He steadied himself by the railing before the bar. "Ye may give me--a
little whiskey, Tom," he said, still gasping, "and ask these
gentlemen--what they'll take."

These gentlemen joined him in taking whiskey. Then they again assured
him he would be all right in a jiffy; and with that they left him
standing before the bar, and went their several ways.

There was nobody else in the saloon, for the moment, as it chanced; and
Tom, the barkeeper, was able to give undivided attention to Mr. Malone.

"It's sorry the boss'll be to hear of yer fallin' here at his door, an'
he not there to pick ye up," he remarked. "But ye'd better bide till he
comes in again. Ye'll not get your breath back so easy either--I've been
knocked out myself, an' I know--though it wa'n't no ice that downed me."

"So Pat M'Cann wanted to see me, did he?" asked Malone, trying to draw a
long breath and finding it impossible, as the bruised muscles of his
back refused to yield. "Oh--well, then I'll sit me down here and wait."

"There's yer old place in the corner," Tom responded.

"I'll smoke a pipe," said Malone, moving away, "if I haven't broke it in
my fall. No; I've got it right enough," he added, taking the brier-wood
from the breast-pocket of his coat.

As Malone was shuffling slowly forward towards a table in a corner of
the saloon, the street-door was pushed open and the owner of the barroom
entered--a tall man, with a high hat and a fur-trimmed overcoat. M'Cann
went straight to the bar.

"Tom," he asked, "how many of those labor-tickets have I now in the
glass there?"

Tom looked in a tumbler on the top shelf of a rack against the wall
behind him. "There's five of 'em left," he answered.

"Barry M'Cormack will be in before we close and he'll ask ye for them,
and ye'll give him three of them," said the owner of the saloon. "Tell
him it's all I have. An' if Jerry O'Connor is here again wantin' me to
go bail for his brother in the Tombs, ye must stand him off. I don't
want to do it, ye see, an' I don't want neither to tell him I don't want
to."

"An' what will I tell him, then?" asked the barkeeper. "Hadn't I better
say ye've gone to Washington to see the Sinator?"

"Tell him what you please," responded M'Cann, "but be easy with him."

"I'll do what I can," Tom promised. "Ye was askin' for Danny Malone
before ye went out. That's him now in the corner. It's a bad fall he had
out there on the ice. The drop knocked him out--but there's no bones
broken."

"What I've got to tell him won't make him feel easier," returned M'Cann.
"But I'll get it over as soon as I can." And with that he crossed the
saloon to the farther corner, where Malone had taken his seat before a
little table.

Looking up as M'Cann came towards him, Malone recognized the owner of
the saloon and tried to rise to his feet; but the suddenness of his
movement was swiftly resented by the strained muscles of his back, and
he dropped sharply on the seat, his face wincing with the pain, which
also took his breath away again.

"Well, Dan, old man," said M'Cann, "so ye've had a bad fall, sure. I'm
sorry for that. Don't get up!--rest yerself there, and brace up."

The tall frame of the saloon-keeper towered stiffly beside the bent
figure of the man who had had the fall, and who now looked up in the
face of the other in the hope of seeing good news written there.

"Well, Pat," he began, getting his breath again, "I've had a fall--but
it's nothin'--I'll be over it--in an hour or two. I'm strong enough
yet--for any place ye can get me--"

He had fixed his gaze hungrily on the eyes of the other, and he was
waiting eagerly for a word of hope.

The saloon-keeper lowered his glance and then cleared his throat. He had
unbuttoned his overcoat and the large diamond in his shirt-front was now
exposed.

Before he made answer to this appeal the elder man spoke again,
overmastered by anxiety.

"Did ye see him?" he asked.

"Yes," was the response, "I saw him."

"An' will he do it for ye?" was the next passing question.

"He'd do it for me if he could, but he can't," returned M'Cann.

"He can't?" asked Malone. "An' why not?"

"Because the appointment isn't his, he says," the saloon-keeper
explained. "He'd be glad to give the place to a friend of mine if he
could, he told me--but there's the civil-service. He's got to follow
that, he says, more by token that they raised such a row the last time
he tried to beat the law."

"But I'm a veteran," pleaded the other, "I served my three years. The
civil-service has got to count that, hasn't it?"

"Ye might be on the list this very minute, and it wouldn't do any good,"
the saloon-keeper responded; "there's veterans to burn on the list now!"

"My post will recommend me, if I ask 'em--won't that help?"

"Nothing will help, he says," M'Cann explained. "It isn't a pull
that'll do ye any good, or I could get ye the job myself, couldn't I?"

"There ain't no influence that'll help me, then?" was the elder man's
next question.

"As I'm tellin' ye, I done what I could, and I don't believe any man in
the district couldn't do more," the saloon-keeper answered. "He says
he'd rather give ye the job than not, but he can't. He's got to take the
civil-service man."

"Then there ain't nothin' else you can do?" asked Malone, hopelessly.

"I'd do anythin' I could," M'Cann replied. "But I don't see nothin' more
to be done. That dog won't fight, that's all. The jig's up, there ain't
no two ways about it. Of course, if I hear of anythin' else I'll tell
ye--and I'll get it for ye, if I can. But it's been a pretty cold winter
for the boys, so far; you know that well enough."

The other said nothing; his head had fallen, and his eyes were staring
vacantly at a box of sand across the saloon.

The saloon-keeper drew a breath of relief that the interview was over.

"Well," he said, turning away, "I must be goin' now. I've got to see the
new man who's got that contract for fillin' in up on the Harlem."

"Don't think I ain't beholden to you, Pat," Malone declared, raising his
head again. "Ye know I am that, and I know ye've done yer best for me."

"I did that," M'Cann admitted, taking the hand the other held out; "an'
it's better I hope I can do some other time, maybe."

With that he shook Malone's hand gently and left the saloon, calling to
the barkeeper as he passed, "I'll be back in an hour, if there's anybody
wants me. An' make Danny Malone as comfortable as ye can. It's a bad
shock he's had."

As the owner of the saloon left it three customers came in, and were
served, and tossed off their drinks standing, and went out again; and
the dank night-air was blown in as they swung open the outer door.

Then the barkeeper went down to the corner where Malone was sitting,
with his pipe in his fingers, unlighted and unfilled, gazing fixedly at
vacancy.

"Mr. Malone," he said, "is it better ye're feelin' now? Have ye got yer
breath again?"

"Yes, yes," answered Malone, rousing himself, "I'm better now." And he
tried to rise again; and again he sat down suddenly, seized with
muscular pangs. "I'm better--but I'd best--stay here a while yet--I'm
thinking."

"That's it," responded Tom, cheerfully, "get a rest here. Let me fill
yer pipe for ye. There ain't nothin' so soothin' as a pipe, I don't
think. An' I don't believe a drop of old ale would hurt ye, would it
now?"

Five minutes later Dan Malone had his pipe alight in his mouth and a
glass of ale before him on the table. He drank the liquid slowly,
barely a mouthful at a time; and he smoked irregularly also, scarcely
keeping the pipe alight. He sat there by himself, limp on the seat, with
his last hope washed out of him.

Half an hour afterwards the saloon happened again to be empty, and
seeing the barkeeper at liberty, Malone asked for the loan of an
inkstand and a pen, and for a sheet of paper and an envelope. When the
table had been wiped off, and these things were placed on it before him,
he ordered another glass of ale, and he filled his pipe again.

After he had taken a sip or two of the ale and pulled four or five times
at the pipe, he squared himself painfully to the task of writing.

First, he addressed the envelope to "Hon. Terence O'Donnell, Assembly,
Albany"; then he thrust this on one side to dry, and began on the letter
itself. His handwriting was more irregular than usual; it had always
been cramped and straggling, but now it was shaky also.


     "FRIEND TERRY,--Ime writing you this at Pat M'Canns, and its the
     last letter you will ever have from me. I slipped at the corner
     here and I fell flat on my shoulders and I knocked all the wind out
     of me like I was a shut bellows. I aint got it back yet. I will
     never have any strength again. Ime only fifty, but I had three
     years in the Army of the Potomac; and fighting and sleeping in the
     swamp and laying out all day and all night with a wound in your
     leg--thats fun you got to pay for sooner or later. Ime paying for
     mine now. Ime feeling very old to-night and old men ain't no good.
     If Ide been younger I doubt Mary would have shook me for Jack. Your
     young yet Terry and you got a good wife, God Bless her, and youll
     thrive, for your square and a good friend. But you wont never know
     what it is to have the woman you loved shake you. That hurts and it
     hurts just as hard even if it is your brother she marries. Jacks
     only my half brother you know but it hurt all the same. Mary
     married him and hes never forgive me for the wrong he did me then.
     And Mary she sides with him. Thats natural enough I suppose--hes
     the father of her children--but that hurts too. Hes been doing me
     dirt all this winter. I know it but I aint never let on. Now I
     caught him setting the kids against me too. And theyve been
     friendly, both of Marys kids have. The one named for me is a good
     boy and, Terry, if you can give him a helping hand any day do it
     for my sake. Ime going to pawn my watch when I leave here to buy a
     pistol with. But Ill put the ticket in the envelope with this, and
     some day when your feeling flush I wish you would take it out and
     give it to little Danny. I always meant him to have it.

     "I ask you now for this is the last letter I will write you and I
     wont never see you again. Ime smoking the last pipe I will ever
     smoke and Ive drunk half of my last glass of beer. I shall think of
     you when I finish it, and it will be drinking your health and
     Maggies and the baby boy your expecting.

     "Ime going to quit. Ime tired, and I aint never felt so old as I do
     since I had that fall an hour ago. It knocked more out of me than
     wind. I was thinking Pat M'Can here could get me a job, but he cant
     for fear of the civil service. So its time I quit for good and all.
     Ime going to put up my watch and get a gun. Then Ime going up to
     Jacks. Mary cant refuse me a bite. Its little enough to give me Ime
     thinking and its the last time Ile ask it too. The kids are going
     out to a party--a sunday school party it is. Ile see them all once
     more, and Ile say good-by to them. After supper when the kids are
     gone I will get out the pistol and I will put the bullet where it
     will do most good. May be Jack will be sorry when its too late may
     be Mary will too. I dont know. If they had treated me white first
     off, I woodent need to buy no gun now.

     "Good-by now, Terry, and God Bless you all. Its time I was going
     along to Marys if I want to see the kids again.

"Your old friend

"DAN MALONE."



When he had made an end of the letter he had a pull or two at his pipe,
and then he finished his beer. He took up what he had written and read
it over carefully to see if he had said all that needed to be said.
Satisfied, he folded it and tucked it inside the envelope. After four or
five whiffs more his pipe was smoked out. He emptied it on the table
with a sharp rap, and methodically put it back in the breast-pocket of
his coat.

Then he raised himself to his feet slowly and carefully, not knowing
just what bruised muscle he might chance to stretch by an inadvertent
gesture. He shuffled across to the bar and paid for his drinks, and
asked the barkeeper if there was a stamp to be had. As it happened, Tom
was able to give him one, which he stuck on the corner of the envelope.

"Say, Mr. Malone," asked the barkeeper, "ye don't want no tickets for
the Lady Dazzlers' Coterie Mask and Civic Ball, to-night, do ye? It's
goin' to be the most high-toned blow-out they ever had."

"I'm not goin' to balls any more," Malone answered, "I'm too old now."

Buttoning his thin overcoat tightly across the chest, he held out his
hand to Tom, to the barkeeper's great surprise.

"Good-bye," he said, "Good-bye. Maybe I won't see you again, Tom."

"Good-bye, Mr. Malone," Tom answered. "But ye'll be better in the
mornin,' I'm thinkin'."

"Yes," the elder man repeated, "I'll be better in the mornin'. Yes; I'm
goin' to make sure of that, to-night."

When he opened the outer door of the saloon the damp moisture suddenly
filled his lungs and he choked, but he dared not cough, as the strained
muscles of his side warned him.

Two doors above the saloon was a pawnbroker's office, with the three
golden balls hanging over the door, and with the unredeemed pledges
offered for sale in the broad window. Into this store Malone made his
way, glad to get out of the dank air, if only for a moment.

In perhaps five minutes he came forth holding in his hand the envelope
addressed to the Honorable Terence O'Donnell. He paused on the threshold
of the pawnshop and, by the light of the gas-jets in its window, he put
the pawn-ticket into the letter and then closed it. In the large
right-hand pocket of his thin overcoat there was something that had not
been there when he entered the pawnbroker's--something irregular in
shape; it was the revolver he had bought with the money advanced on his
watch.

He turned down the avenue again, for there was a letter-box on the
lamp-post at the corner occupied by M'Cann's saloon. The store between
the pawnbroker's and the barroom was an undertaker's; and Malone,
walking slowly past, saw in the window a little coffin, lined with white
satin.

"It'll take a bigger one than that for me," he said. "To-night's
Friday--they'll be havin' the funeral on Sunday."

At the corner he dropped the letter into the box on the lamp-post, just
as there came a weird shriek from an impatient tug in the river far
behind him. While he was waiting for a cable-car a lame newsboy limped
up to him and proffered the evening papers with a beseeching look.
Malone felt in his pocket and found only two coins, a nickel and a
quarter. He gave the quarter to the newsboy. Then he lifted himself
painfully on the rear platform of a cable-car, and handed the nickel to
the impatient conductor. The car clanged forward again; and soon the
halo about its colored lamp faded away in the murky distance.

(1895.)



A GLIMPSE OF THE UNDER WORLD


It was a little dinner indeed, a dinner for eight only; and it was given
one evening in March, in a spacious and handsome dwelling in Madison
Avenue, high up on the slope of Murray Hill. The wide dining-room was at
the rear of the house, and it had a broad butler's-pantry extending into
the yard behind. The large kitchen was under the dining-room; and under
the butler's-pantry was a room of the same size which the servants used
as a parlor. In one corner of this sitting-room for the domestics was
the dumb-waiter which connected with the pantry above, and in another
corner was a spiral staircase which allowed the butler to descend
swiftly to the kitchen in case of emergency. There was a table near the
window of this servants' parlor, with a battered student-lamp on it; and
around the table were grouped three or four chairs.

A whistle sounded gently in the kitchen, and the Swedish cook walked
leisurely to the speaking-tube and whistled back. Then she listened, and
heard the butler say, "They're all here now; I've got the oysters on the
table, and I'm a-goin' in now to announce dinner to the madam. So you
get that soup ready--do you hear?"

The cook did not deign to make any direct reply, but, as she left the
speaking-tube and went back to the range, she said, loud enough to be
heard by the servants in the sitting-room adjoining, "As though I did
not know anything! I will never have another place if a black man is
butler."

In the room under the pantry a sharp, wiry boy was grinning. "They're
allus havin' spats, ain't they, them two? If I was Cato I wouldn't let
no Dutch cook sass me, even if I was a nigger, would you?"

"Who is this young cub, when he's at 'ome?" asked the clean-shaven,
trim-looking young British valet.

"He's Tim," answered the Irish laundress.

"I'm Tim," said the boy, indignantly, "that's who I am, and I'm as good
as you are, too, for all you belong to a lord! And you needn't put on no
frills with me, neither, for when I'm a year or two older I can lick
ye!--see?"

"Don't ye mind the boy, Mr. Parsons," the Irish girl intervened. "He's
no call here at all, at all. He'd run of an errand belike in the mornin'
and does be sthrivin' to make himself useful. That's why they kept him
here the night."

"I've got just as good a right here as he has," the boy declared, "and
he doesn't come here after you either, Maggie--you're not his steady.
It's that French Elise he is sparkin'."

"An' greatly I care if he is! Sparkin', in truth! Bad cess to yer
impidence," said the pleasant-faced laundress, drawing herself up. "A
man, is it? It's lashins and lavins of men I could have if I'd a mind."

Fortunately the cook called Tim at this juncture and gave him a chore to
do; and so left the Irish girl and the young Englishman alone.

The valet had been standing until then with his hat and cane in his hand
and his overcoat across his arm. Now he laid these things on the table
and took his seat by the side of the comely Irishwoman.

"Mam'zelle," he began, "is a French girl, of course, and I never could
abide a foreign lingo. Now it's a pleasure for me to hear you talk, Miss
Maggie."

"Ah, do be aisy, now, Mr. Parsons," she returned, coquettishly.

"It's gospel truth," he rejoined. "I enjoy talkin' to you. You keep your
eyes wide open and can always tell me what's goin' on!"

"Troth, can I?" replied the laundress. "I know which ind of the egg the
chicken'll be after chippin'--every time."

"Then tell me who's dinin' 'ere to-night," the valet asked.

Before she could answer the whistle sounded faintly again, and the cook
immediately brought in the green-turtle soup in the handsome silver
tureen, and sent it up on the dumb-waiter. Then she returned at once to
the kitchen.

"It's not a big dinner," the Irishwoman explained. "There's only eight
of them. There's us three, isn't there?--Mr. and Mrs. Van Allen and Miss
Ethel. Then there's your lord--and I'll go bail it's Miss Ethel he's
after now? He'll be the lucky man if he gets her, too; it's a sweet
angel she is."

"She won't be so unlucky to 'ave 'im neither," the Englishman returned,
"mark that! She'll be Lady Stanyhurst, won't she? And my lord is a fine
figure of a man, too!"

"Sure it isn't under the skin of any man that ever stepped to be worthy
the likes of Miss Ethel!" said Maggie, looking at Parsons out of the
corner of her eye.

"There ain't any girl in the States 'ere that wouldn't be proud to 'ave
my lord," the valet retorted. "There's lots of 'em settin' their caps
for 'im now. He can 'ave 'is pick, 'e can."

"The sorra cap Miss Ethel'll set for him or any man," the laundress
declared. "The boy that wants her'll have to court her."

"I 'ave reason to believe that the marriage is arranged," Parsons
asserted. "I 'ope--" then he paused, and with an effort he went on
again: "I hope that 'er father is a warm man? He's good to give the girl
a plum at least, I 'ope? We couldn't throw ourselves away on a girl who
'adn't a plum, you know."

"An' what might a plum be?" asked Maggie.

"A plum," the young Englishman explained, "is a 'undred thousand
pounds--'alf a million dollars, isn't it?"

"It's a whole million Mr. Van Allen can give Miss Ethel," Maggie said,
"and more, too, if he wanted to. By the same token, they do be after
tellin' me he has one big building down-town somewhere--I don't
know--where the tenants pay him a hundred thousand dollars a year; an'
they pay it, too, regular, an' nivver an eviction from one year's end to
the other."

The whistle shrilled out again, and the cook made haste to place on the
dumb-waiter the dish containing the fillets of sea-bass.

A few minutes later Mlle. Elise, the French maid of Miss Van Allen,
entered the servants' sitting-room, and was cordially greeted by Mr.
Parsons. It appeared that the Frenchwoman had been detained in Mrs. Van
Allen's room relieving the guests of their wraps.

"Zat ole maid, Miss Marlenspuyk--what devil of name it is--" said Elise,
"she is a true grande dame; but that Mistress Playfair--oh! I cannot
suffer her! She is--how you say--made up? stuck up?"

"It's both stuck up and med up she is," the Irish laundress declared.
"She's that painted her own mother wouldn't know her. An' as for stuck
up, her manners is that bad there isn't none of her girls will stay in
her house the second month; they gets their bit of money and they goes.
Sure my brother is coachman there, and it's seven years he's had the
place."

"How can he rest zere," asked the French maid, "if she is so stuck up?"

"Ah, my brother is a steady lad, and they get on very well," Maggie
returned. "He knows his place, and she knows her place, too. She never
says nothin' to him, and he never says nothin' to her. An' it's a good
job he has, an' he don't mean to let go of it. He keeps a still tongue
in his head, Danny does; but there's months when, with his wages and
with his board-wages and with what he makes on the feed, the place is
worth more than a hundred dollars to him."

"It's as much as a man's place is worth sometimes to accept the
commission you're entitled to," the valet remarked.

"Ah, but Danny's the boy!" the laundress responded, shrewdly. "It's too
much he knows about Mrs. Playfair for him to lose the job; trust him for
that! As long as he wants that place he can have it an' welcome; she
won't never say nothin' to him."

"Is she a widow or is she divorced, zis Mistress Playfair?" asked the
French maid.

"She's the wan an' the other," said the laundress, with a laugh. "Mr.
Playfair, he took and died a week after the trial, barrin' a day."

"What's this I 'ear about your Mr. Van Allen and Mrs. Playfair?" Parsons
inquired.

"Is there anything between them, do you think?"

The whistle was heard again, and the cook passed before them with a
saddle of mutton; and for the moment the valet's question remained
unanswered.

"Who is it they have to dinner, after all?" the laundress inquired.
"There's our three and your lord and Miss Marlenspuyk and Mrs.
Playfair--but that's sure only six. There was to be eight all out, I'm
thinkin'. It's two more men they must have."

"I heard his lordship say that he expected to meet the Lord Bishop of
Tuxedo," the Englishman remarked.

"And madame say zat ze judge would be here," said the French maid.

"Judge Gillespie?" asked the valet, with a certain interest.

"Yes," the Frenchwoman answered, "the Judge Gillespie. What does that
make to you zat you jump like zat?"

"Oh, nothin', nothin' at all," returned Parsons, settling himself back
in his chair with a snigger.

"Out with it!" cried the Irish girl. "Don't be grinnin' all night there
like a stuck pig! Out with it--I see it's on the end of your tongue."

"But yes--but yes," urged the maid, "what is it you have to laugh?"

"Really," the valet began, "I don't know that I ought to say anything
'ere in this 'ouse, you know--house, I mean. But I 'ave been told that
this 'ere Judge Gillespie is a very great friend of Mrs. Van Allen's.
Mind, I don't say there's anything wrong in it, you know. I only tell
you what I 'ave 'eard tell myself in society 'ere and there. You see
this ain't the only 'ouse I visit in New York, not by a long shot it
ain't. And knowin' I visit 'ere, why, naturally, you see, my other
friends tell me the news, you know--the news about the goin's on 'ere,
you know."

The Irish laundress and the French maid looked at each other for a
moment, and then both laughed.

"It's not outside they get the first news, is it?" the laundress
inquired.

Apparently the maid was also going to make a remark, but she changed her
mind as the cook again came to the dumb-waiter with the dish of little
silver saucepans containing terrapin.

The valet was somewhat puzzled by the failure of his two attempts to
open the family cupboard of the host and hostess for an inspection of
the skeletons it might contain.

"I don't know how she has them seated at the table," Maggie declared.

"Of course, his lordship took her in," the Englishman declared. "A earl
'as precedence of a judge or a bishop."

"I'd like to have a look at that lordship of yours," the Irishwoman
said, as she rose to her feet. "I'll slip up the stairs there, and maybe
I can get a glimpse of 'em through the door an' no one a ha'p'orth the
wiser. Is it a young man your lordship is?"

"His lordship is a young man yet," the valet replied.

"I know what that means," the laundress answered. "If he's a young man
yet, I'll go bail he hasn't a hair between him an' heaven. An' to think
that our Miss Ethel here is to take up with a poor hairless cratur like
that. Well, well, there's no accountin' for tastes! Maybe I'll marry a
Dutchman myself one of these days."

And with that she began to climb the spiral staircase in the corner of
the room.

"What sort of a man is he, your milord?" asked the Frenchwoman.

"He is not a bad sort at all," the Englishman answered. "Your young lady
might do worse than 'ave 'im, you know--have him, I mean. I won't say
but that 'e's been a bit fast in 'is time, you know; but that's nothin'
to her now, is it? 'E's sowed his wild oats long ago, and 'e's ready to
marry now and settle down."

"He is zen--_défraíchi_--how you say--worn? your milord?" the
Frenchwoman went on. "And mademoiselle is an angel of candor. Zey would
give her _le bon Dieu_ wizout confession."

"Angel or no angel," returned Mr. Parsons, "there isn't any better catch
in the three kingdoms than 'is lordship to-day. 'E's a earl, isn't 'e?
And then there's the castle! Your young lady wouldn't be in a 'urry to
let 'im go if she'd only seen the castle, now!"

"Mademoiselle has seen ze castle," was the answer.

"Well, I'll be damned!" said the valet.

"But yes," the French maid explained. "Last summer, in London, your
milord was presented to mademoiselle, and he began to make his court.
Fifteen days after, when we were at Leamington, mademoiselle and I, we
go see your castle."

"It's a tip-topper now, ain't it?" he asked. "There's sometimes twenty
and thirty of us in the servants' 'all, and there's goin's on, and
larks, and all manner of sport. If this match comes off, now, between
'is lordship and your young lady, will you come with her or stay here
with her mother?"

"Never of the life do I quit mademoiselle," the Frenchwoman responded.

"Then I'll 'ope to 'ave the honor of introducin' you into the best
society at the castle whenever you come over," urged Mr. Parsons.

The Irish laundress now began to descend the spiral stairs. The cook
also came into the room and went towards the dumb-waiter, carrying a
silver platter, on which shook and shone a dozen little jellied cones.

"An' what might that be in thrimbles like that?" asked the Irishwoman,
with curiosity.

"_Pâté de foie gras en aspic_," the cook responded, curtly, sending up
the dish and then returning silently to the kitchen.

"Patti's photograph?" repeated the laundress. "Do ye mind the impidence
of her, tellin' me a lie like that?"

The English valet looked at the French maid and laughed. Then he
explained, patronizingly:

"Patty de four grass, as we call it in French--not Patti's photograph.
It's a delicacy, and it's made of goose livers."

"Then why couldn't that Dutch cook have said so?" the laundress asked,
indignantly. "I've as good a right to know about a goose as ever she
has. I misdoubt she was that poor where she came from they had never the
grass of a goose to their cabin."

"Did you see 'is lordship?" asked the valet.

"I did that," the Irish girl replied, "an' what did I tell you about
him? His head has grown through his hair! There's been good and bad
harvests since he was young, I'm thinkin'--and it's mighty quare he
looks about his eyes, too. It'll be a poor day for Miss Ethel when she
marries a bald-headed ould runt like that, for all he's a lord!"

"Oh, I say, Miss Maggie; you must not speak so disrespectful of his
lordship," Parsons insisted; "really, now, you mustn't."

"It's that Mrs. Playfair 'ud be the match for him, I'm thinkin'," said
Maggie. "It's a bold-faced creature she is, an' no more clothes on her
than ain't decent anyway. And then, how she looked at Mr. Van Allen and
then at the bishop; and how she talked--I'd no patience with her. Do ye
mind what it was I heard her say now?"

"How could we know what you 'eard her say?" the valet responded,
impatiently.

"Sure, amn't I tellin' ye?" the Irish girl returned. "She was talkin' to
the bishop, and she says, says she. 'The judge is a better man than you,
bishop,' she says, 'leastwise he makes more people happy,' she says.
'How so?' says the bishop, says he. 'This way,' she says; 'when you
marry a couple you make two people happy,' she says, 'an' when the judge
divorces a couple he makes four people happy,' she says. Miss Ethel and
the old lady with the white hair, they said nothin', but the rest of
them laughed."

What further fragments of the conversation at the dinner-table up-stairs
Maggie had been able to gather during her brief visit to the
butler's-pantry could not then be made known to the other domestics, for
Tim came slouching into the sitting-room.

"Say, Maggie," he began, "didn't you hear that ring at the bell? That's
your feller--I seen him. He's out at the gate now."

"Is it the letter-man you mean?" asked Maggie, adjusting her hair as she
passed the looking-glass.

"Ah, go on," returned Tim, impatiently, "what t'ell are you givin' us?
How many fellers do you want, say?"

After Maggie had chased Tim out of the room, the Swedish cook went to
the dumb-waiter once more to send up the four smoking canvas-backs that
lay luxuriously on their cushions of fried hominy.

The French maid and the English valet continued to chat, discussing
chiefly the personal peculiarities of the members of the households in
which they had served. His former masters Parsons was willing enough to
find fault with, but Lord Stanyhurst he seemed to think it a point of
honor to defend. Mrs. Van Allen the Frenchwoman had no high opinion of,
nor of Mr. Kortright Van Allen; but of their daughter, Miss Ethel Van
Allen, she could not say too much in praise.

"I told that wild Irish girl that the marriage was arranged," said
Parsons, "and I'm sure I 'ope so with all my heart, for 'is lordship
needs money badly--I don't mind tellin' you, mam'zelle, 'e 'asn't paid
me my wages this six months, not that I'd demean myself by askin' for
them. But is it really settled, after all?--that's what I'd like to
know."

"I zink so," the Frenchwoman responded; "you see, mademoiselle is not
happy here. Monsieur and madame are at drawn knives. Zey have not spoken
since two years."

"Mr. and Mrs. Van Allen don't speak to each other?" asked Parsons, with
great interest. "But they must be speaking to each other there at dinner
now."

"Oh, at dinner, yes," the French maid explained; "in the world, yes, zey
talk zemselves. But at ze house, never a word. Zat is so sad for
mademoiselle, is it not? It is not remarkable zat she marry herself with
anybody to get out of ze house."

"Oh, ho!" rejoined the valet, "I see, I see! But if that's the way she's
been brought up, you know, I don't believe she will 'it it off with 'is
lordship."

"If he makes her not happy, your milord--" began the maid, forcibly,
"but he must. He must render her happy, for she will have nobody to go
to after ze marriage except her husband."

"Whatever do you mean by that?" asked Parsons, a little suspiciously.

"I know what I mean," she responded. "Monsieur and madame only attend
till mademoiselle is married, and zen zey are divorced. Zey don't tell
me zat, no--but I know."

"Yes," the valet admitted, "it ain't so very 'ard to find out a thing
like that."

"And I know more yet," added the French maid. "I am not blind, am I? I
can see that two and two make four, is it not? Zen, I tell you zat after
ze marriage of mademoiselle, monsieur and madame are divorced, zat is
one zing. Zen madame will marry zat Judge Gillespie, and monsieur will
marry zat Madame Playfair--you see!"

"That would be a rum start, now, wouldn't it?" was the only comment of
Parsons.

At this moment the portly form of Cato, the black butler, was seen
descending the staircase in the corner of the room.

As soon as the aged negro's white head was visible he paused, and
leaning over the light iron railing he addressed himself to the young
Englishman.

"Misto' Parsons," he said, solemnly, "yo' lord knows a good thing when
he gets it, sah! He tasted my celery salad, and he said to Mrs. Van
Allen that he hadn't never eaten no better salad than that, sah, and I
don't believe he never did, neither!"

So saying he slowly withdrew up-stairs again, as the cook advanced to
the dumb-waiter carrying the Nesselrode pudding.

(1896.)



A WALL STREET WOOING


It had poured all the night before, and even now, at three o'clock in
the afternoon, the air had the washed clearness that follows a warm
rain. Fortunately the sun had shone forth before the church bells
summoned the worshippers to kneel in front of the marble altars, banked
high with scentless white flowers. It was Easter, and the first of April
also; and, furthermore, the first warm Sunday of the spring. So the
young men and maidens who clustered about the doors of the churches that
afternoon were decked out in fresh apparel--the young men in light
overcoats, and the maidens in all the bravery of their new bonnets.

In the corner of one of the cable-cars which were sliding along under
the skeleton of the elevated railroad there sat a young man looking at
his neighbors with begrudging interest, and pulling at the ends of an
aggressive black mustache. Filson Shelby was not yet at home in the
great city, and he knew it, and he silently protested against it. He was
forever on the watch for a chance to resent the complacent attitude of
city folks towards country people. Yet the metropolis had so far
conquered him that his hat and his shoes and his clothes were city
made.

It was six months now since the young Southwesterner had left his native
village, and already he thought that he knew New York pretty well, from
Harlem where he boarded to Wall Street where he worked. He was sure that
he was well informed as to the customs of New-Yorkers, although the
New-Yorkers changed their customs so rapidly that it was not so easy to
be certain about this.

There were white flowers blossoming in the parlor windows of many of the
houses in Fifty-third Street, through which the cable-car was passing,
and as the car clanged around the curve and started on its way down
Seventh Avenue it grazed the tail of a florist's wagon, the box of which
was piled high with palms. Filson Shelby was aware that it was now a
practice of New-Yorkers to give one another potted plants at Easter.

He had been told also that the habit no longer obtained of paying calls
on Sunday afternoon; and none the less was he on his way down to Wall
Street to take out for a walk the one girl in New York who seemed to him
to have the unpretending simplicity of the girls of the Southwest. What
did he care, he asked himself, whether or not it was fashionable to call
on girls Sunday afternoon? What right had the New-Yorkers, anyhow, to
assume that their way of doing things was the only right and proper
way?

Having propounded these questions to himself, he answered them with a
smile, for he had a saving sense of humor, and even a tendency towards
self-analysis, and he had long ago detected his own pride in living in
New York. In his earliest letters home he had expressed his delight in
that he was now at the headquarters of the whole country; and he had
written these letters on broad sheets of paper bought in the German
quarter, and adorned with outline views of the sights of the city,
picked out in the primary colors. He had sent missives thus decorated
not only to his family and to his old friends, but even to mere
acquaintances of his boyhood, for whom he cared little or nothing,
except that they should know him to be settled in the metropolis. He
could not but suspect that if he were now to go back to the village of
his birth, he would seem as stuck-up to the natives as the New-Yorkers
had seemed to him the first few weeks he was in the city.

The car slipped down Seventh Avenue, and stumbled into Broadway, and
sped along sometimes with a smooth swiftness and again with a jerky
hesitation. Gayly dressed family groups got on and got off, and the car
had almost emptied itself by the time it came to Madison Square. Filson
Shelby was greatly interested in the manners of two handsomely gowned
girls who sat opposite to him, and who did not know each other very
well. It struck him that one of them--the prettier of the two, as it
happened--was a little uneasy in the other's company, and yet pleased to
be seen with her. To his regret, both of them alighted at Grace Church,
leaving only half a dozen people in the long car as it started again on
its journey down-town.

He set down the plainer of the two as a member of the strange society
known as the "Four Hundred," about which he had heard so much since he
had been reading the Sunday papers. If he were right in this ascription,
and if he were to judge by this sample, the girls of the Four Hundred
were not a very good-looking lot, for all they were so stylishly
dressed. It struck him, too, that this girl's manners were somehow
offensive, although he could not state precisely where the offence lay.

He was glad that the one girl in New York whom he knew at all well had
the easy good manners which spring from a naturally good heart. She was
as well educated as the two girls who had just left the car; perhaps
better, for she was going to graduate from the Normal College in two or
three months; and yet she was unaffected and unassuming. As he phrased
it in his mind, "she didn't put on any frills." He could chat with her
just as easily as he used to talk to the girls who had gone to school
with him at home. And yet when he considered how unlike she was really
to these friends of his childhood he wondered why it was he and she had
got along so well, and his thoughts went back to the occasion of his
first meeting with her.

The car was now speeding swiftly down Broadway, obstructed by no
carriages, no carts, no tracks, no wagons, and no drays. Below Astor
Place the sidewalks were as bare as the street itself was empty. The
shades were down in the windows of the many-storied buildings which
towered above the deserted thoroughfare, and the flamboyant signs made
their incessant appeals in vain. For a mile or more it was almost as
though he were being carried through the avenues of an abandoned city.
The one evidence of life, other than the cars themselves, was an
infrequent bicyclist "riding the cable slot" up from the South Ferry. If
only he had first arrived in New York in the restful quiet of a Sunday,
so the young Southwesterner found himself thinking, perhaps the
metropolis might not have seemed to him so overwhelming. As it was, it
had been a shock to him to be plunged suddenly into the vortex of the
immense city.

A telegrapher in the little town near which he was born, Filson Shelby
had gone beyond his duty to oblige a New-Yorker who had chanced to be
detained there for a fortnight, and the New-Yorker had repaid his
courtesy by the proffer of a position as private operator in the office
of a Wall Street friend. The young man had accepted eagerly, having no
ties to bind him to his home; and yet he had felt desperately homesick
more than once during his first three months in New York. Indeed, it was
not until he had come to know Edna Leisler that he had reconciled
himself to the great town, which was so crowded, and in which he was so
alone. He was slow to form friendships, but he had made a few
acquaintances.

It was one of these casual acquaintances who had taken him one day to
the top of an old office building not far from the Stock Exchange. Here
the janitor lived, and was allowed to use one of the rooms allotted to
him as a lunch-room. The janitor's wife was a good cook, and Filson
Shelby returned there again and again. One Saturday, when the room
happened to be more crowded than usual, the rawboned and ruddy Irish
girl was unable to serve everybody, and some time after he had given his
order Filson Shelby was waited upon by a young lady in a neat brown
dress. He was observant, and he saw a red spot burning on each cheek,
and he noted that the lips were tightly set. It seemed to him that she
was acting as waitress unwillingly, and yet at the same time that she
was doing it of her own accord. He did not like to stare at her, and yet
he could hardly take his eyes from her while she was in the room. She
was not beautiful exactly, for she was but a slim slip of a girl, and
she had coppery hair; and he had always been taught that red hair was
ugly. Yet something about her took his fancy; perhaps it was her
independent manner, perhaps it was rather her perky self-possession;
perhaps, after all, it was the humorous expression which lurked in her
eyes and at the corner of her mouth.

He had lingered over his luncheon that noon as long as he could, and
then he was rewarded. The man who had first brought him there entered
and took a seat beside him. When the young lady in brown came for his
order the new-comer shook hands with her cordially, and called her "Miss
Edna."

"She used to go to school with my sister," he explained to the young
Southwesterner. "She's up at the Normal College now, and I've never seen
her here in the dining-room before. But she has a holiday, and I suppose
she thought she ought to help her mother out. It's her mother who cooks,
you know--and boss cooking it is, too, isn't it?--real home sort of
flavor about it."

Filson Shelby had still delayed his departure; and as Edna Leisler
brought bread and butter, and went back again to the kitchen, his
friend's chatter had streamed along.

"Red-hot hair, hasn't she?" was the next remark. "If there was half a
dozen more of her you'd think it was a torchlight procession, wouldn't
you? But it suits her style, don't it? Fact is, she's the only
red-haired girl I ever saw I didn't hate at sight."

It seemed as though he had expected Filson to respond to this, and so
the young Southwesterner hesitated, and cleared his throat, and
admitted that her hair was red.

"Well, it _is_ just," the other returned. "I guess her barber has to
wear asbestos gloves, eh? But she's a good girl, Edna is, if she is a
brand from the burning. My sister used to be very fond of her, and I
like her myself, though she isn't in our set exactly. I'll introduce
you, if you like?"

The cable-car now came to a halt sharply to set down passengers for
Brooklyn by way of the bridge, but Filson Shelby was wholly unconscious
of this. He was busy with the recollection of that winter day when he
had stood up with bashful awkwardness and had heard Edna Leisler say
that she was pleased to meet him. He had the memory also of the next
Saturday, when he had gone back to the little low eating-room under the
roof in the hope of seeing her again, and of the unaffected frankness of
her manner towards him when he met her on the stairway.

He remembered how simply she had accepted his invitation to go to
Central Park to lunch on Washington's Birthday, the first holiday when
they were both free, and he remembered, too, what a good time they had
up there. It was on that Washington's Birthday that he had first found
out that in the eyes of some people red hair was not a blemish, but a
beauty. The omnibus in which they came down-town had been so crowded
that they were separated, and he heard one well-dressed man say to his
companion: "Did you ever see such stunning hair as that girl has? It is
like burnished copper--except when the sun glints on it, and then it's
like spun gold."

Hitherto he had been willing to overlook her aggressive locks in
consideration of her good qualities, but thereafter he came rapidly to
accept the view of the well-dressed man in the omnibus, and to look upon
her red hair as a crown of glory. She did not seem any more attractive
to him than she did at first meeting, but he knew now that other men
might be attracted also. He wondered whether there were any other men
whom she knew as well as she knew him. It seemed to him that they had
taken to each other at the start, and they were now very good friends
indeed. But there was no reason why she should not have other friends
also.

The current of his retrospection was not so sweeping that he could not
follow the course of the cable-car in which he was seated, and just then
he saw the brown spire of Trinity Church and heard the clock strike
three. He signalled to the conductor, and the car stopped before the
church door and at the head of Wall Street.

As he stood looking down the crooked street, washed white by the rain
and looking clean in the April sunshine, he asked himself why he was
going to meet Edna Leisler--and especially why it was his heart had
slowed up at the suggestion that perhaps other men were as attentive to
her as he was. He was not in love with her, was he? That she had made
New York tolerable to him he was ready to admit, and also that he liked
her better than any girl he had ever met. But if he was jealous of her,
did not that prove that he loved her?

These were the questions he propounded as he walked from Broadway to the
old building on the top floor of which the Leislers lived. When Edna
Leisler came down-stairs to meet him, with her new Easter hat, he knew
the answers to these questions; he knew that he would be miserable if he
were to lose the privilege of her society; he knew furthermore that he
had loved her since the first day he had seen her, even though he had
not hitherto suspected it. He knew also that he would never have a
better chance to tell her that he loved her than he would have that
afternoon; and while they were shaking hands he made up his mind that
before he took her back to her mother's he would get her promise to
marry him.

With this resolve fixed, he took refuge in the commonplace.

"Am I late?" he asked.

"Five minutes," she answered. "I didn't know but what you were going to
April-fool me."

"Oh, Miss Edna," he cried, "you know I wouldn't do that!"

"I didn't think you would really," she laughed back. "And I felt sure I
could got even with you if you did."

Thus lightly chatting, they came to the corner of Broad Street.

"Shall we go down to the Battery?" he suggested, thinking that he might
find a chance there to say what was in his heart.

"Yes," she assented; "it'll be first-rate to get a whiff of the salt
breeze. It's as warm as spring to-day, isn't it?"

In front of the Stock Exchange, and for two or three blocks below, Broad
Street was absolutely bare, except for a little knot of men working over
a man-hole of the electrical conduit. The ten-story buildings lifted
themselves aloft on both sides of the street, without any evidence of
life from window or doorway; they were as silent and seemingly empty as
though they belonged to a deserted city of the plains. Bar-rooms in
cellars had bock-beer placards before their closed portals. On the glass
panel of the swing-door which admitted the week-day passer-by to the
Business Men's Quick Lunch there was wafered the bill of fare of the day
before, but the door itself was closed tight. So were the entrances to
more pretentious restaurants.

But as Filson Shelby and Edna Leisler went on farther down-town, Broad
Street slowly changed its character. There were not so many office
buildings and more retail shops; there were a few wholesale warehouses;
there were even cheap flat-houses; and there were more signs of life.
Children began to fill the roadway and the sidewalks. There were boys on
tri-cycles, and there were Little Mothers pushing perambulators in which
babies lay asleep. There were girls on roller-skates; and one of these,
a tall, lanky child, had a frolicsome black poodle, which pulled her
quickly along the sidewalk.

Seeing some of these things, and not seeing others, and being taken up
wholly by their own talk, the young Southwesterner and the New York girl
passed through Whitehall Street and came out on the Battery. They walked
to the edge of the water, and looked across the waves to the Statue of
Liberty holding her torch aloft. An Italian steamer full of immigrants
was just coming up from Quarantine. The afternoon was clear, after the
rain of the night before, and yet there was a haze on the horizon. The
huge grain-elevators over on the Jersey shore stood out against the sky
defiantly.

A fringe of men and women sat on the seats around the grass-plots and
along the sea-wall. Many of the women had children in their arms or at
their skirts. Most of the men were reading the gaudily illustrated
Sunday newspapers; some of them were smoking. The sea-breeze blew
mildly, with a foretaste of warm weather. The grass-plots were
brownish-gray, with but the barest touch of green at the edges, and
there was never a bud yet on any of the skeleton trees. None the less
did every one know that the winter was gone for good, and that any day
almost the spring might come in with a rush.

As Filson Shelby looked about him he saw more than one young couple
sitting side by side on the benches or sauntering languidly along the
winding walks, and he knew that he was not the only young fellow who
felt the stirring of the season. No one of the other girls was as
good-looking as Edna, nor as stylish; he saw this at half a glance. With
every minute his desire grew to tell her how dear she was to him, and
still he put it off and put it off. Once or twice when she spoke to him
he left her remark unanswered, and then hastily begged her pardon for
his rudeness. He did not quite know what he was saying, and he feared
that she must think him a fool. He was restless, too, and it seemed to
him quite impossible to ask her to marry him in such an exposed place as
the Battery.

"Suppose we go up to Trinity Church?" he suggested. "It's always quiet
enough in the graveyard there."

"Isn't it quiet enough here?" she asked, as they turned their footsteps
away from Castle Garden.

"It isn't really noisy, I'll admit," he responded; "but I get mighty
tired of those elevated trains snorting along over the back of my head,
don't you?"

She gave him a queer little look out of the corner of her eye, and then
she laughed lightly.

"Oh, well," she replied, "if you think Trinity Church Yard is a better
place, I don't mind."

Then her cheeks suddenly flamed crimson, and she turned away her head.

They were now crossing the barren space under the elevated railroad,
and, as it happened, the young man did not see her swift blush.

As they skirted the oval of Bowling Green the girl nodded to a
gray-coated policeman on guard over the little park.

"Who's that?" asked the young man, acutely jealous, although he saw that
the officer was not less than fifty years old.

"That's Mr. O'Rourke," she explained. "He's Rose O'Rourke's father. She
was graduated from the Normal College only two years ago, and then she
went on the stage. She's getting on splendidly, too. She played Queen
Elizabeth last year--and didn't she look it? I'm sure she's a great deal
handsomer than that old Queen was."

"But that old Queen," he returned, "wasn't the daughter of a
sparrow-cop--that's what you call them, don't you?"

"I don't call them so," she responded, "for I think it's vulgar to talk
slang."

"But the boys do call a park policeman a sparrow-cop, don't they?" he
persisted.

"The little boys do," she answered, "but I know Mr. O'Rourke doesn't
like it."

"I can understand that," he replied. "If I had Queen Elizabeth for a
daughter, I think I should want to be a king myself."

"Well," the girl went on to explain, "Rose did want him to give up his
appointment. She said she was earning enough for her father not to work.
But he wouldn't, for all she urged him. She's a kind girl, is Rose, and
not a bit stuck-up. She came up to the college last year and recited for
us. You should have heard her do 'Curfew shall not ring to-night'; I
tell you she was splendid."

"I don't believe she did it any better than you could," he declared.

"Oh, don't you?" she returned, heartily; "that's only because you didn't
hear her. And she was very nice to me, too. She complimented me on my
piece."

"What did you speak?" he asked.

"Oh, I always choose something fiery and patriotic. I spoke 'Sheridan's
Ride' first, and then, when the girls encored me, I spoke 'Old
Ironsides'--but I like 'Sheridan's Ride' best; and Rose O'Rourke said I
got more out of it than anybody she had ever heard. But then she always
was so complimentary."

"I reckon she knows it's lucky for her you don't go on the stage," the
lover asserted. "It would be a cold day for her if you did. I haven't
seen her, but I'm sure she isn't such a good looker as you are!"

"Thank you for the compliment," the girl answered. "If we weren't here
in Broadway, in front of Trinity Church, I'd drop you a courtesy. But
you wouldn't say that if you had seen her, for she's as pretty as a
picture."

"Do you mean that she is as fresh as paint?" he asked.

"That's real mean of you," she retorted, "for Rose doesn't need to paint
at all, even on the stage; she has just the loveliest complexion."

"She's not the only girl in New York who has a lovely complexion," he
declared; and again the color rose swiftly on her cheek, and then as
swiftly faded.

They had now come to the gates of Trinity Church, and they saw a little
stream of men and women pouring in to attend the afternoon service.

"You must not be down on Rose," the girl said, as they turned away from
Broadway and began to ramble slowly amid the tombstones. "She's a good
friend of mine. She said she'd get me an engagement if I'd go on the
stage--"

"But you are not going to?" he broke in, earnestly.

"I'd love to," she answered, calmly. "But I'm too big a coward. I'd
never dare stand up before the people in a great big theatre and feel
they were all looking at me."

"I'm glad you're not going to," he declared.

"It would be too delightful for anything!" she asserted; "but I'd never
have the courage. I know I wouldn't, so I've given up the idea. I'll
finish my course at the college, and get my diploma, and then I'll be a
teacher--that is, if I can get an appointment. But it isn't easy if you
haven't any influence; and father doesn't take any interest in politics,
and he doesn't know any of the trustees of this district, and I can't
see how I'm ever to get into a school. Now Mr. O'Rourke could help me if
he wanted--"

"The sparrow-cop?" interrupted the young Southwesterner. "Why, what has
he got to do with the public schools?"

"Mr. O'Rourke has a great deal of influence in this ward, I can tell you
that," she returned. "He has a pull on more than one of the trustees. If
he were to back me, I'd get my position sure! And maybe I had better go
to Rose and ask her for her father's influence."

They were now almost in the centre of that part of the church-yard which
lies above the church, and behind the monument to the American prisoners
who died during the British occupancy of New York. The afternoon service
was about to begin, and the solemn tones of the organ were audible where
they stood.

It seemed to Filson Shelby that the time had come for him to speak.

He swallowed a lump in his throat, and began.

"Miss Edna," he said, hesitatingly, "why do you want to be a
school-teacher?"

"To earn my living, to be sure!" she answered, calmly enough, although
the color was rising again on her cheeks.

"But you don't need ever so many scholars to earn your living, do you?"
he asked, gaining courage slowly.

"What do you mean?" she returned, forcing herself to look him in the
face.

"I mean," he responded, "that I don't see why you couldn't earn your
living just as well by having only one scholar--"

"Only one scholar?" she echoed.

"Yes--only one scholar," he declared; "but you could take him for life.
And you could teach him everything that was good and true and
beautiful--and he would work hard for you, and try and make you happy."

The color ebbed from her cheeks, but she said nothing. The low notes of
the organ were dying away, and on the elevated railroad just behind the
young couple a train came hissing along wreathed in swirling steam.

"I'm not worthy of you, Edna; I know that only too well; but you can
make me ever so much better if you'll only try," he urged. "I love you
with my whole heart--that's what I've been trying to say. Will you marry
me?"

She raised her eyes to his and simply answered,

"Yes."

An hour later, as they were going through the dropping twilight down
Wall Street to the old office building, on the top floor of which she
lived with her parents, they were still talking of each other, of their
united future, and of their separate past.

When they came to the door and stood at the foot of the five flights of
stairs that led up to the janitor's apartment, they had still many
things to say to each other.

What seemed to Filson Shelby most astonishing was that he should now be
engaged to be married, when that very morning he was not even aware of
his love for her. And being a very young fellow, and, moreover, being
very much in love, he could not keep this astonishing thing to himself,
but must needs tell her.

"Do you know, Edna," he began, "that I must have been in love with you a
long while without knowing it? Isn't that most extraordinary? And it was
only this morning that I found it out!"

Standing on the stairs above him, and just out of his reach, she broke
into a merry little laugh, and the tendrils of red hair quivered around
her broad brow.

"What are you laughing at?" he asked.

"Oh, nothing," she answered, and then she laughed again. "At least, not
much. It is only because men are so much slower to see things than women
are."

"What do you mean?" he asked again.

"Well," she returned, laughing once more, and retreating two or three
steps higher up the stairs, "I mean that you say you only found out this
morning that you were in love with me--"

"Yes?"

"Well," she continued, making ready for flight, "I found it out more
than two months ago."

(1895.)



A SPRING FLOOD IN BROADWAY


As he came down the steps of his sister's little house, that first
Saturday in May, he saw before him the fresh greenery of the grass in
Stuyvesant Square and the delicate blossoms on its sparse bushes and the
young leaves on its trees; and he felt in himself also the subtle
influences of the spring-tide. The sky was cloudless, serene, and
unfathomably blue. The sun shone clearly, and the shadows it cast were
already lengthening along the street. The gentle breeze blew
hesitatingly. He heard the inarticulate shriek of the hawker bearing a
tray containing a dozen square boxes of strawberries and walking near a
cart piled high with crates. When he crossed Third Avenue he noticed
that a white umbrella had flowered out over the raised chair of the
Italian boot-black at the corner. A butcher-boy, with basket on arm, was
lingering at a basement door in lively banter with a good-looking Irish
cook. A country wagon, full of growing plants, crawled down the street
while the vender bawled forth the cheapness of his wares.

There were other signs of the season at Union Square--the dingy landaus
with their tops half open, the flowers bedded out in bright profusion,
the aquatic plants adorning the broad basin of the fountain, the pigeons
wooing and cooing languidly, the sparrows energetically flirting and
fighting, the young men and maidens walking slowly along the curving
paths and smiling in each other's faces. To Harry Grant, just home from
a long winter in the bleak Northwest, it seemed as though man and nature
were alike rejoicing in the rising of the sap and the bourgeoning of
spring. It was as though the pulse of the strong city were beating more
swiftly and with renewed youth. Harry Grant felt his own heart rejoice
that he was back again amid the sights he loved, within a stone's-throw
of the house where he was born, within pistol-shot of the residence of
the girl he was now going at last to ask to marry him.

It was nearly a year since he had last seen her, but he knew she would
greet him as cordially as she had always done. That Winifred was a good
friend of his he knew well enough; what he did not know at all was
whether or not the friendship had changed to love on her part also. He
could hardly recall the time when he had not known her. He could
distinctly remember the occasion when he had first told her that he
intended to marry her when he was grown up--that was on a spring day
like this, and he was seven and she was five, and they were playing
together in Gramercy Park while their nurses followed them slowly
around the enclosure. Now he was twenty-three and she was twenty-one;
and in all these sixteen years there had been no day when he had not
looked forward to their marriage. Of course, when he had grown to be a
big boy and had been sent away to boarding-school, he had been ashamed
to talk about such things. But when he went to college he had gazed
ahead four years and almost fixed on the day he intended to propose.

Then his father had died, and the family affairs were left in
inexplicable confusion. His uncle had offered to pay Harry's way through
Columbia, but he was in a haste to be independent, to make his own path,
to have a position which he could ask Winifred to share. He found a
place at once in the office of a great dry-goods house; and he had been
so successful there that one of their customers had offered him
inducements to go out to a swiftly growing city in the new Northwest.
Two years had Harry Grant spent out there--two years of hard work amid
men who were all toiling mightily and who were capable of appreciating
his youthful energy. Now he was back again in New York to act as the
Eastern representative of the chief capitalist of the Northwestern city,
an old man, who liked Harry, and who saw how useful his address and his
character might be. The position was onerous for a man so young; but it
was honorable also, and the salary was liberal even from a New York
standpoint. At last he was again able to look at life from the point of
view of a New-Yorker. At last he was ready to ask her to share his life.

He was in no hurry for the moment, as he could not make sure of finding
her at home until nearly five o'clock, and it was now barely four by the
transparent dial which Atlas bore on his back in the jeweller's upper
window on the opposite side of the square. He crossed Broadway at
Fourteenth Street, and there he was caught up at once and swept along by
the spring-flood rolling up from down-town that beautiful afternoon in
May. The windows of the florists' were lovely with Easter lilies and
fragrant with branches of lilac. The windows of the confectioners' were
gay with gaudy Easter eggs and with elaborate chocolate rabbits. Young
girls pressed giggling through the doors to stand packed beside the
soda-water fountains. Elderly men lingered at the street corners to
stare at the young women.

Within an hour or two at the most Harry Grant intended to ask Winifred
to be his wife, and as he saw the dread question so close before him he
could not but wonder what the answer would be. Winifred liked him--that
much he felt sure about. Whether she loved him, even a little, that he
could not venture to guess. She had sturdy common-sense and she was
self-reliant, he knew well, and yet he could not help fearing that
perhaps the influence of her grandmother had been more powerful than he
wished. It was possible, of course, that the restless and ambitions old
lady had inoculated her young granddaughter with some of her own
dissatisfaction.

As Harry's circumstances had changed since they were boy and girl
together, so had Winifred's. Her father had died also, and then her
grandfather, leaving a very large fortune to his widow, and Winifred had
gone to live with her grandmother, Mrs. Winston-Smith. (It was her
grandmother who had put the hyphen into the name, and who had insisted
on its adoption by the son and the granddaughter.) That Mrs.
Winston-Smith did not like him, Harry Grant knew only too well, or, at
least, that she did not approve of him as a possible suitor for the hand
of Miss Winston-Smith. She thought that her granddaughter ought to make
a brilliant marriage. She had been heard to say that in England Winifred
would have no difficulty in marrying a title. She had taken her
granddaughter to London the season before, and they had been presented
at court, to go afterwards on a round of country-house visits, returning
late to finish the summer at Lenox.

All this Harry knew from the newspapers; but what Winifred had thought
of it all he did not know, for he had not seen her since the day before
her departure for England. And that interview itself had been in the
presence of the grandmother and of two or three casual callers. Really
he had not had chance of speech with the woman he had loved for three
years--ever since Mrs. Winston-Smith had asked him to dinner one night,
only to take him into the library and to tell him that she saw that he
was attracted by Winifred, and no wonder, but that he must give up the
hope of winning her. Mrs. Winston-Smith was some sixty-years old at the
time of this talk with Harry Grant, and she was a very stately dame,
with no lack of manner, but she could, if she chose, express herself
with absolute frankness and directness. On that occasion she had seen
fit to be perfectly plain-spoken. She had told him that Winifred had
been used to luxury and could not do without it, and that if Winifred
married against her wishes she would give all her money to the new
cathedral, cutting the girl off without a cent. She asked Harry if he
did not think it would be very selfish of him to press his suit when its
success would mean the misery of the woman he pretended to love. She
reminded him that his own income was meagre, and that he had no
prospects. If, then, Winifred had no money, how could she as his wife
have all the luxuries to which she was accustomed, and which had now
become necessities? Of course she did not admit that Winifred was in any
way interested in him. In fact, she hoped and trusted that the girl's
affections were in no way engaged; and she relied on Mr. Grant's good
sense and on his unwillingness to be so brutally selfish. After all,
Winifred was a mere child, and had seen nothing of the world as yet.

Harry Grant had made no promises to Mrs. Winston-Smith, but he had felt
the force of some of her arguments. Plainly he had no right to ask the
woman he loved to give up everything for his sake; and as plainly he had
no wish to live on any money her grandmother might give her. He meant,
more than ever, to win her for his wife; but he saw clearly that he must
make himself independent first. To be able to give her a home not
unworthy of her he had worked hard all these years. At last he had
succeeded, and he was in a position to ask her to marry him without at
the same time asking her to surrender the most of the little comforts
which made her life easy. With the salary he had now he could make her
comfortable, even if her grandmother chose to take offence and cut her
off without a cent. There was no false pride about the young fellow, and
he did not pretend to himself that he did not care whether or not the
grandmother carried out her threat. He was well aware that life would be
very much pleasanter if Mrs. Winston-Smith should accept the situation
and make the best of it, and give her granddaughter an adequate
allowance.

Then, as these thoughts ran through his head, he smiled at his own
fatuity in taking Winifred's consent for granted in this summary
fashion. What Mrs. Winston-Smith said or did mattered little. What was
of vital importance was Winifred's own answer to his question. He could
not but recognize that to call on a young lady after a year's separation
and to ask her in marriage, suddenly, without warning, was an unusual
proceeding. And yet that was just what he was going to do; and he found
himself musing over schemes for getting her away from her grandmother
and from any chance visitors. He tried to devise a means of luring her
into the library or of coaxing her into the conservatory. He cared not
how soon they might be interrupted; he knew what he had to say, and he
was prepared to say it briefly. Five minutes would be time enough--five
minutes, if he could but have them clear. When a man has been wanting
for years to be able to put a simple question, it ought not to take him
long to say the needful words; and he knew that Winifred would not keep
him waiting for his answer. Whether it was to be yes or no, she would
know her own mind, and be ready and willing to accept him at once or to
reject him with as little hesitation.

He had been keeping pace with the throng that was sweeping massively
up-town, but as the fear seized him that, after all, he had little right
to think she might love him, he lengthened his stride in futile
impatience to get his answer sooner. He glanced up at Tiffany's clock,
then almost over his head, and he slackened his speed as he saw that it
was not yet five minutes past four. He had at least half an hour to wait
before he could hope to find her at home.

Then, most unexpectedly, he was favored with fortune. The foremost of
the carriages drawn up in Fifteenth Street alongside the jeweller's was
a handsome coupé, in which a young lady was sitting alone. As Harry
Grant drew near to the corner his glance fell on this coupé, and at that
moment the young lady looked up. He saw that it was Winifred. As their
eyes met a swift blush bloomed in her face, and faded as speedily. She
smiled and held out her hand and laughed happily as he sprang to the
door of the carriage.

"Winifred!" he cried.

"Harry!" she answered.

"I didn't expect to see you here!" he declared.

"Is that the reason you are here, then?" she returned.

He made no reply. He could not take his eyes from her. In his delight at
seeing her again he had nothing to say.

"Well?" she asked, when she thought he had stared enough.

"Well," he answered, "I couldn't help it. You are prettier than ever."

Again a flush flitted across her face, fainter this time, and fleeting
sooner.

"That's a very direct compliment, don't you think?" she retorted,
withdrawing her hand, which he had kept clasped in his own. "And you are
looking well, too. Your life out West there is good for you. I don't
wonder you prefer it to this noisy old New York of ours."

"But I don't prefer it," he declared, hotly. "A week of New York is
worth a year of the whole wide West put together. And I've done with all
that now. I've come back here for good now--"

"Have you really?" she responded, as he hesitated, having so much to say
that he did not know where to begin.

"I got back this morning," he explained, "and I was coming to see you
this afternoon. I've--I've so many things to tell you."

She looked at him for a second, and then she glanced away, as she said:
"You will have to talk very fast, then, if you have so many things to
tell me. We are going to sail on Tuesday morning, and this afternoon we
are off to Tuxedo for over Sunday."

"You sail on Tuesday?" he cried, despairingly. "Just when I have come
back on purpose to see you again!"

"You didn't telegraph grandma that you were coming, or she might have
made other arrangements," the young woman retorted, with a little laugh.

[Illustration: "'WINIFRED!' HE CRIED"]

"And if you are going to Tuxedo to-night," he continued, paying no
heed to this ironic suggestion, "then you won't be at home this
afternoon?"

"No," she answered; "we shall be back just in time to dress and get away
to the train. Grandma has two or three errands to do first--she's inside
there arranging about some silver things she wants to take over with
us."

"But I must see you to-day," he pleaded.

"Aren't you seeing me now?" she returned, as the blush rose again and
fell.

"But I've got something I want to say to you!" he urged.

"Won't it keep till Monday afternoon?" she asked, with another light
laugh; but beneath the levity there was more than a hint of feeling.

"No," he declared; "it won't keep an hour longer, for it's been kept too
many years already. I've come here on purpose to tell you something--and
I must do it to-day!"

"If it's something you want to tell grand-ma--" she began, as if to gain
time.

"But it isn't," he returned, leaning his head almost inside the open
window of the carriage. "It's you I want to talk to--not to your
grandmother."

"Then," said she, with a subtle change of manner, "if it is something
you don't want grandma to hear, don't try to say it now, for here she
comes."

Harry Grant gave a hasty glance behind him, and he recognized the
stately figure of Mrs. Winston-Smith in conversation with one of the
salesmen just inside the door of the great store.

"Winifred," he said, pleadingly, taking her hand again, "where can I see
you again, if only for a minute--only a minute? That's enough for what I
want!"

Winifred looked at him and then down at her fingers. She hesitated, and
finally she answered:

"I think I heard grandma say she was going to the florist's before she
went home--that florist in Broadway near Daly's, you know. She has a lot
of things to order there, and I shall sit in the carriage."

"I'll take the cable-car and be there waiting for you," he responded.

"Don't let grandma see you," she cried; "that is--well--"

Then she sank back on the cushions of the carriage, for Mrs.
Winston-Smith was about to leave the store.

Harry Grant had caught sight of the old lady in time. He stepped away
from the carriage, and, passing behind it, crossed to the other side of
the street without giving Winifred's grandmother a chance to recognize
him.

He waited on the opposite corner until Mrs. Winston-Smith took her place
in the coupé beside her granddaughter, and until the carriage was turned
and had started towards Fifth Avenue.

Then he crossed the broad space nearly to the edge of the park and
jumped on the first car that came rushing around the curve. The platform
was crowded, but he took no heed of the men who were pressed against
him.

His thoughts were elsewhere and his heart was full of hope; it was
attuned to the gladness of the spring-time. He did not see the young men
and maidens who flocked thickly up Broadway; he saw Winifred only; he
saw her face, her eyes, her smile of welcome. He was to see her again,
at once almost, and he could tell her then how he loved her, and he
could ask her if she would not try to love him. What if the only chance
he should have was in the street itself? Only the proposal itself was of
importance, the place mattered nothing. Perhaps the unconventionality of
the proceeding even added zest to it. There was unconventionality in the
frankness with which she had made the appointment. It was this frankness
partly which made his heart leap with hope, and partly it was the
welcome he thought he had read in her eyes when their glances met first.

The car sped on its way, stopping at almost every corner to take on and
to let off men and women, who brushed against Harry Grant and whom he
did not see, so absorbed was he in going over every word of his brief
dialogue with the girl he loved. On the sidewalks were thick throngs of
brightly dressed women looking into the windows of the shops, where were
displayed brilliant parasols and trim yachting costumes and summer
stuffs in lightsome colors.

As the car crossed Fifth Avenue he saw the carriage of Mrs.
Winston-Smith only a block away. He recognized the coachman upright on
the box, and then all at once he wondered what the coachman must have
thought of his talk through the open window, and of his abrupt
appearance. He smiled--indeed he laughed gently--for what did he care
what the coachman might think, or anybody else? It was what she thought
which was of importance, and nothing else mattered at all. And again he
was seized with impatience to see her once and to tell her that he loved
her, and to get her answer. The car was going swiftly, but it seemed to
him to crawl. The coachman on the avenue was driving briskly, but Harry
Grant was ready to rebuke the man for his sluggishness.

At last the car passed the door of the florist's Winifred had described.
Its window was filled with azaleas massed with an artistic instinct
almost Japanese. Harry Grant rode to the corner above and walked back
very slowly, loitering before a shop window, but wholly unconscious of
the spring neck-wear therein displayed. Two minutes later he saw Mrs.
Winston-Smith's carriage coming down Twenty-ninth Street. It turned into
Broadway and stopped before the florist's wide window. Mrs.
Winston-Smith got out and ordered the coachman to wait at the corner.

She had disappeared inside the florist's before the coupé drew up in the
side street.

As the coachman reined in his horses Harry Grant stepped up to the open
window.

"Winifred--" he began.

"Oh!" she cried, "you are here already?" and again the blush crossed her
face.

"Winifred," he repeated, leaning his head inside the carriage, "I may
have only a minute to say what I have to say, and I know this isn't the
right place to say it, either, but I have no choice, for I may not have
another chance. I have waited so long that I simply mast speak now."

He paused for a moment. She said nothing, but she rubbed the back of her
glove as though to wear away a speck of dirt.

"Winnie," he went on, "what I want to say is simple enough. I love you.
Surely you must know that?"

"Yes," she answered, raising her eyes to his, "I know that."

"Then it's easier for me to go on. You know me; you know all about me;
you know all my faults, or most of them anyway; you know I love you. Do
you think you could ever love me a little in return? I will try so hard
to deserve it. I've been working ever since I was seventeen to make
money enough to be able to ask you to marry me. I've got a good position
now, one that I'm not ashamed to ask you to share. Will you? Will you
marry me, Winnie?"

Before she could make any answer, Harry Grant heard the voice of Mrs.
Winston-Smith behind him saying to the coachman, "Home!"

He stepped back and found himself face to face with her.

"It's Mr. Grant, isn't it?" she said, with a haughty inclination of her
head. "It's very good of you to amuse Winifred while I was in the shop.
I'd ask you to come and have a cup of tea with us, but we are off to
Tuxedo. And we sail on Tuesday; perhaps Winifred told you."

She stood there, expecting him to open the carriage door for her. It was
the least he could do, and he did it. But he could find no words to
respond to her conventional conversation. He looked at Winifred, and he
saw that the color was deepening on her cheeks, and that her eyes were
very bright.

"Grandma," she said, when at last Mrs. Winston-Smith was seated beside
her--"Grandma," she repeated, loud enough for the young man to hear as
he stood by the open window, "Harry has asked me to marry him--and you
came out just before I had time to tell him that I would!"

(1895.)



THE VIGIL OF McDOWELL SUTRO


For the third time that afternoon the young man stood before the window
of the post-office to ask the same question and to receive the same
answer:

"Has any letter come for McDowell Sutro?"

"No."

This time he persisted, for he could not take no for an answer at that
late hour of the day.

"Are you sure?" he asked, urgently.

"Certain sure," was the answer that came through the window.

"Will there be another mail from California to-night?" he inquired,
clutching a last hope.

"Not to-night," responded the clerk.

The young man stood there for a second, staring unconsciously into the
window, and not seeing anybody or anything. Then he turned slowly to go.

The clerk knew that look on the face of men who asked for letters, and
he had a movement of kindness.

"Say, young feller!" he called, brusquely.

McDowell Sutro faced about instantly, with a swift flash of hope.

"If you're expecting money in that letter, maybe it's registered,"
suggested the clerk. "Ask over there in the corner."

"Thank you," the young man answered, gratefully; and he walked to the
window in the corner with expectation again lighting his face.

But there was no registered letter for McDowell Sutro, and there could
none arrive before the next morning. And as the handsome young
Californian left the post-office he knew that he had hardly a right even
to hope that the letter he was asking for should ever arrive.

He stepped out on Fifth Avenue; and though a warm June wind blew balmily
up from Washington Square, his heart was chill within him. He shivered
as he wondered what he was to do now. He knew no one in New York, and he
had not a cent in his pocket.

In his youth he had expected to inherit a fortune, and so he learned no
trade and studied no profession. He had taught himself how to be idle
elegantly; he had never planned how to earn his own living. Perhaps this
was the reason why he had failed to find any work to do during the two
gliding weeks since he had suddenly been brought face to face with his
final ten-dollar bill.

He had no more resources than he had friends. His trunk, with the little
clothing he owned, was still at the boarding-house he had left ten days
before; it was held by the landlady till he paid her what he owed. His
modest jewelry had been pawned, bit by bit.

It was now about seven in the evening, and he had had no food since the
coffee and cakes taken perhaps twelve hours earlier, and bought with the
last dime left him after he had paid for his night's lodging. Having
walked all day, he was weary and hungry, and he had no idea how he could
get a roof over his head once again or fill his stomach once more. He
had heard of men and women starving to death in the streets of New York,
and he found himself inquiring if that were to be his fate.

Not guiding his steps consciously, he went up Fifth Avenue to the corner
of Fourteenth Street, and then turned towards Broadway. The long June
day was drawing to an end. Behind his back the red sun was settling down
slowly. The street was crowded with cars and with carts; and people
hurried along, eager to be with their families, and giving no attention
to the homeless young man they brushed against.

When he came to Broadway it seemed to him as though the rush and the
tumult redoubled, and as though the men and the women who passed him
were being tossed to and fro by invisible breakers. The roar of the city
rose all about him; it smote on his tired ears like the deafening crash
of the surf after a northeaster. He likened himself to a spent swimmer
about to have the life beaten out of him by the pounding of the waves,
and certain sooner or later to be cast up on the beach, a stripped and
bruised corpse.

So vividly did he picture this that involuntarily he straightened
himself and drew a long breath. He was a good-looking young fellow, with
a graceful brown mustache curling over his weak mouth. As he stood
there, erect as though ready to fight for his life, more than one woman
passing briskly along the street let his figure fill her eye with
pleasure.

The cable-cars whisked around the curves before him, and beyond them he
beheld the green fairness of Union Square. The freshness of its foliage
as he saw it through the darksome twilight attracted him. He crossed
cautiously, keeping a sharp lookout for the cars, and smiling as he
noted how careful he was of his life, now he did not know how he was to
sustain it.

As he stood at last in the verdant oasis in the centre of the square,
suddenly the electric light whitewashed the pavement, and his unexpected
shadow lay black and sprawling under his feet. He looked up, startled,
and he saw the infinite arch of the sky curving over him--clear,
cloudless, and illimitable. The faint sickle of the new moon hung low on
the horizon. A towering building thrust its thin height into the air,
and the yellow lights in its upper windows seemed like square panels
inlaid in the deep blue of the sky. The beauty of the moment lifted him
out of his present misery, and he was glad to be alive. The plash of the
fountain fell on his ears and charmed them. The broad leaves of the
aquatic plants swayed languidly as a gentle breeze blew across the
surface of the water.

With a sigh of relief, McDowell Sutro dropped upon one of the park
benches. Until he sat down he did not know how tired he was. His feet
ached, and his stomach cried for food. And yet he was stout of heart.
"If I've got to spend a night _à la belle étoile_," he said to himself,
"I could have no better luck. There are beautiful stars a-plenty this
evening. It's like that night in Venice when Tom Pixley and I took the
two Morton girls out in our gondolas, and their aunt couldn't find us. I
remember we had had a good dinner at Florian's, with an immense dish of
_risotto milanese_--so big we had to leave some. I wish I had the chance
again. I could finish it now if it was twice as much."

Over on Fourth Avenue, behind the equestrian statue of George
Washington, there was a Hungarian restaurant, and from his bench at the
edge of the grass McDowell Sutro could see the table right in the window
at which an old man and a young woman were having dinner. He could
follow every movement of their hands; he could count every mouthful they
ate. At last he could bear it no longer, and he changed his seat to a
bench nearer Broadway. Here he found himself facing another eating-room,
in the broad windows of which many kinds of food were alluringly
displayed. Men came out and lingered in the door-way long enough to
light a cigarette.

When McDowell Sutro noted this, the craving for tobacco seized him. A
smoke would not stay his stomach, but it would be a solace none the
less. He rose to his feet and felt in all his pockets, in the vain hope
that his fingers might touch some overlooked fragment of a cigar. There
was something at the bottom of one of the pockets of his coat, but it
mocked him by revealing itself as a match. He sank down on the bench and
turned his eyes away from the restaurant, for he could not bear to gaze
on the cakes and pies piled up behind the plate-glass, or to observe the
smoke curling up from the lips of men who had eaten and drunk
abundantly.

There was a bar-room under the hotel on the corner of Broadway, and
every now and then two or three men pushed inside the swinging doors, to
reappear five or ten minutes later. Farther down Broadway stood a
theatre, and there was now a throng about its broad door-way. Another
theatre faced the square, gay with prismatic signs and besprinkled with
electric lights. McDowell Sutro watched men and women step up to the
box-office of this place of amusement and buy their tickets and
disappear within. He wondered why these men and women should have money
to spare on a show, when he had not enough to pay for a meal and a
night's lodging.

Perhaps it was the fatigue of his useless day, and perhaps it was the
hypnotic influence of the revolving lights before the variety theatre,
which caused the lonely young man to fall asleep. How long he slept he
did not know, nor what waked him at last. But he had a doubtful memory
of a human touch upon his body, and three of his pockets were turned
inside out. When he discovered this, he laughed outright. The attempt to
rob him then struck him as the funniest thing that had ever happened.

He must have slept for two or three hours at least, for the appearance
of the square had changed. It was no longer evening; it was now night.
While he looked about him he saw the doors of the theatre in Broadway
pushed open, and the audience began to pour forth. A few moments later
little knots of the play-goers passed him, still laughing with
remembrance of the farce they had been witnessing. In another quarter of
an hour the people began to come out of the other theatre, the variety
show on the square, and the lights that flared above the door-way went
out, all at once.

It was nearly midnight when two men sat down on the bench of which
McDowell Sutro had been the sole occupant hitherto. They were tall and
thin, both of them; they were clean-shaven; their clothes were shabby;
and yet they carried themselves with an indescribable air, as though
they were accustomed to brave the gaze of the world.

"No," said the elder of the two, continuing their conversation, "she's
no good. She has a figure like a flat-iron and a voice like a fog-horn,
hasn't she? Well, there's no draft in that, is there? She's a Jonah,
that's what she is, and she'd hoo-doo any show. Why, the last time I was
on the road she tried to queer my act. I called her down right there and
then, and when the star backed her up, I was going to give my two weeks'
notice; and I'd have done it, too, but I was playing cases then, and I
didn't want to come back here walking on my uppers. But if I had quit,
they'd have closed in a month, I tell you! They didn't know who was
drawing the money to their old show; but I did! You ought to have been
in the one-night towns on the oil circuit and heard me do Shamus
O'Brien. That used to fetch 'em every night--I tell you it did! And it
used to make her tired!"

"Did you ever see me play Laertes?" asked the younger. "I did it first
in 'Frisco in '72, when Larry Barrett came out there. Well, while I was
on the stage with him, Hamlet didn't get a hand. I've got a notice here
now that said I was the Greatest Living Laertes."

"I played Iago once with Larry Barrett," said the first speaker, "and I
gave them such a realistic impersonation they used to hiss me off the
stage almost."

"Have a cigarette?" asked the other, holding out a package.

"Don't care if I do," was the answer. "I've got a match."

"That's lucky, for I haven't," said the owner of the cigarettes.

"Well, I haven't, after all," the elder actor had to confess, after a
vain search in his pockets.

"Let me provide the match," broke in McDowell Sutro. "I've only one, but
it's at your service."

"Thank you," was the response. "Can I not offer you a cigarette?"

"I don't care if I do," the young man answered, involuntarily repeating
the phrase he had just heard, as he thrust out his hand eagerly.

The first whiff of the smoke was like meat and drink to him; and in the
sensuous enjoyment of the luxury he almost neglected to respond to the
remark addressed to him. But in a minute he found himself chatting with
the two actors pleasantly. Although they had been to California more
than once, they knew none of his friends; but it cheered merely to hear
again the names of familiar landmarks. There was more than a suggestion
of haughtiness in the way they both condescended to him; but he did not
resent this, even if he remarked it. Human companionship was sweet to
him; and to drop into a chat with casual strangers on a bench in Union
Square at midnight, even this diminished the desolation of his
loneliness.

The talk lasted perhaps a quarter of an hour, and then the two other
men rose to go. McDowell Sutro stood up also, as though he were at home
and they were his guests.

"Come over and have a drink," said the elder of the two.

And again the young man answered, "I don't care if I do."

He would rather have had food than drink, but he could not tell two
strangers that he was hungry.

As they passed before the statue of Lafayette and crossed the car
tracks, he wondered whether the saloon where they were going to was one
of those which set out a free lunch.

When they entered the bar-room his eyes swept it wolfishly, and then
fixed themselves at the end of the counter, where there were broad
dishes with cheese and crackers and sandwiches. He could hardly control
himself; he wanted to rush there and snatch the food and devour it. But
shame kept him standing near the door with the two actors, though his
gaze was fastened on the dishes only a few feet from him.

The barkeeper set the bottle before them, and they poured out the
liquor. Then they looked at each other and said, "How!"

The elder actor half finished his drink at a single gulp. As he set down
his glass he caught McDowell Sutro staring at the free lunch.

"That's not a bad idea," he said, moving along the bar--"not half bad.
I'll take a sandwich myself. I feel a bit hollow to-night. I got three
encores after I gave them the 'Pride of Battery B,' and I need something
to build me up. Have a sandwich?"

"I don't care if I do," responded the hungry man, as his fingers closed
on the bread. Yet when he took the first mouthful it almost choked him.

Five minutes later he had said good-night to his two chance
acquaintances and he was again back in the square. The scant food he had
been able to take lay hard in his stomach, and the liquor he had drunk,
little as that was also, was yet enough to make his head whirl. He did
not walk unsteadily, although he was conscious that it took an effort
for him to carry himself without swerving.

The bench on which he had been sitting was now occupied by four very
young men in evening dress, who were gravely smoking pipes, as though
they were trying to acquire a taste for this novel pastime. So he went
to the centre of the square, where he stood for a while looking at the
aquatic plants and listening to the spurtle of the fountain.

All the seats around the fountain were occupied by men and women, most
of whom seemed to have settled themselves for the night, as though they
were used to sleeping there. McDowell Sutro found himself speculating
whether he, too, would soon be accustomed to spending his nights in the
open air, without a roof over him.

One solid German had fallen into a slumber so heavy that his snore
became a loud snort. Then a gray-coated policeman waked the sleeper by
smiting the soles of his feet with the club.

"This park ain't no bedroom," said the policeman, "and I ain't goin' to
have you fellows goin' to sleep here either! See?"

After walking three or four times around on the outer circle of the
little park, the young man found a vacant seat on a bench near the
corner of Broadway and Seventeenth Street. The brilliantly lighted
cable-cars still glided swiftly up and down Broadway with their
insistent gongs, but they were now fewer and fewer; and the cross-town
horse-cars passed only two or three an hour. The long day of the city
was nearly over at last, and for the two or three hours before dawn
there would be peace and a cessation of the struggle.

As he sat back on the bench, sick with weariness, the occupant of the
seat next to him aroused herself. She was an elderly woman, with
grizzled hair.

"I beg your pardon--if I waked you up?" said the young man.

"You did wake me up," she answered, "but I forgive you. It's only
cat-naps I get anyway nowadays. I haven't stretched my legs out between
the sheets and had my fill of sleep for a month of Sundays. And I'm a
glutton for sleeping if I've the chance. But I'm getting used to
sitting up late," and she laughed without bitterness. "What time is it
now?" she asked.

McDowell Sutro involuntarily lifted his hand to the pocket of his
waistcoat, and then he dropped it quickly. Blushing, he answered, "I
don't know--I--"

"Time's up, isn't it?" she returned, with a laugh of understanding. "I
haven't got my watch with me either; I left it in my other clothes at my
uncle's. But Mr. Tiffany is a kind-hearted man, and he keeps a clock all
lighted up for us to see. Your eyes are younger than mine--what time is
it now?"

McDowell Sutro looked intently for half a minute before he could make
out the hour. At last he answered, "It's almost half-past one, I think."

"Then I've a couple of hours for another nap before the sparrows wake us
all up," she returned. "Is it the first night you have come to this
hotel of ours?"

"Yes," he replied.

"I thought so," she continued, "by your feeling for your watch. You'll
get out of the way of doing that soon."

His face blanched with fear that she might be predicting the truth.
Would the time ever come when he should be used to sleeping in the open
air?

The old woman turned a little, so that she could look at him.

"It's a handsome young fellow you are," she went on; "there's more than
one house in town where they'd take you in on your looks--and tuck you
up in bed, too, and keep you warm."

"Perhaps I'm better off here," he remarked, feeling that he was expected
to say something.

"This isn't a bad hotel of ours, this isn't," she returned; "it's well
ventilated, for one thing. Of course you can go to the station-house if
you want. I don't. I've tried it, and I'd sooner sleep in the snow than
in the station-house, with the creatures you meet there. This hotel of
ours here keeps open all night; and it's on the European plan, I'm
thinking--leastwise you can have anything you can pay for. When the
owl-wagon is here, you can get a late supper--if you have the price of
it. I haven't."

"Neither have I," he answered.

"Then there's two of us ready for an invite to breakfast," she
responded, cheerily. "If any one asks us, it's no previous engagement
will make us decline, I'm thinking."

He made no answer, for his heart sank as he looked into the future.

"Are you hungry now?" she asked.

"Yes," he answered, simply.

"So am I," she replied, "and I can't get used to it. Hunger is like
pain, isn't it? It don't let go of you; it don't get tired and let up on
you. It's a stayer, that's what it is, and it keeps right on attending
strictly to business. Sometimes, when I'm very hungry, I feel like
committing suicide, don't you?"

"No," he responded--"at least, not yet; I haven't had enough of life to
be tired of it so soon."

"Neither have I," was her answer. "Sometimes I'm ready to quit, but
somehow I don't do it. But it would be so easy; you throw yourself in
front of one of those cable-cars coming down Broadway now--and you'll
get rapid transit to kingdom come. But they don't sell excursion
tickets. Besides, being crunched by a cable-car is a dreadful mussy way
of dying, don't you think? And to-day's Friday, too--and I don't believe
I'd ever have any luck in the next world if I was to commit suicide on a
Friday."

"This isn't Friday any longer," he suggested; "it's Saturday morning."

"So it is now," she rejoined; "then we'd better be getting our
beauty-sleep as soon as we can, for the flower-market here will wake us
up soon enough, seeing it's Saturday. And so, good-night to you!"

"Good-night!" he responded.

"And may you dream you've found a million dollars in gold, and then wake
up and find it true!" she continued.

"Thank you," he replied, wondering what manner of woman his neighbor
might be.

She said nothing more, but settled herself again and closed her eyes.
She was dressed in rusty black, and she had a thin black shawl over her
head. She had been a very handsome woman--so she impressed the young man
by her side--and he was wholly at a loss to guess how she came to be
here, in the street, at night, without money and alone. She seemed out
of place there; for her manner, though independent, was not defiant.
There was no rasping harshness in her tones; indeed, her talk was dashed
with joviality. Her speech even puzzled him, although he thought that
showed her to be Irish.

Turning these things over in his mind, he fell asleep. He dreamed the
same dream again and again--a dream of a barbaric banquet, where huge
outlandish dishes were placed on the table before him. The savor of them
was strange to his nostrils, but it brought the water to his mouth.
Then, when he made as though to help himself and stay his appetite, the
whole feast slid away beyond his reach, and finally faded into nothing.
The dream differed in detail every time he dreamed it; and the last time
the only dish on the board before him was a gigantic pasty, which he
succeeded in cutting open, only to behold four-and-twenty blackbirds fly
forth. The birds circled about his head, and then returned to the empty
shell of the pasty, and perched there, and sang derisively.

So loudly did they sing that McDowell Sutro awoke, and he heard in the
trees above him and behind him the chirping and twittering of countless
sparrows.

He recalled what the old woman had said--that the birds would wake them
up. Probably they had aroused her first, for the place on the bench next
to him was empty.

He rose to his feet and looked about him. It was almost daybreak, and
already there were rosy streaks in the eastern sky. A squirrel was
running up and down a large tree in the middle of the grass-plot behind
the bench on which he had been sleeping. In the open space at the
northern end of the square there were a dozen or more gardeners' wagons,
thick with growing flowers in pots, and men were arranging these plants
in rows upon the pavement. Another heavy wagon, loaded with roses only,
rolled across the car track and disturbed a flock of pigeons that
swirled aloft for a moment and then settled down again. A moist breeze
blew up from the bay, and brought a warning of rain to come later in the
day.

The sleepers on the other benches here and there throughout the square
were waking, one by one. McDowell Sutro saw one of them go to the
drinking-fountain and wash his hands and face. He followed this example
as best he could. When he had made an end of this his eye fell on
Tiffany's clock, which told the hour of half-past four. A few minutes
later the first rays of the sun began to gild the cornices of the tall
buildings which towered above the Lincoln statue.

Within the next hour and a half the cable-cars began to pass down-town
more frequently, and the cross-town cars from the ferries also came
closer together. The gardeners' wagons and the plants taken from them
filled the broad space at the upper end of the square. Milk-carts
rattled across the car tracks that bounded the square on all four sides.
The signs of the coming day multiplied, and McDowell Sutro noted them
all, one after another, with unfailing interest, despite the gnawing
pain in his stomach. It was the first time he had ever seen the
awakening of a great city.

He walked away from Union Square as far as Fifth Avenue and Twenty-third
Street, and again as far as Third Avenue and Fourteenth Street; but he
found himself always returning to the flower-market. At last a hope
sprang up within him. Among the purchasers were ladies not strong enough
to carry home the heavy pots, and perhaps he might pick up a job. This
was not the way he wanted to earn his daily bread, but never before had
he felt the want of the daily bread so keenly.

When he came back to the line of gardeners' wagons he found other men
out of work also hanging about in the hope of making an honest penny;
and more than once he saw one or another of these others sent away,
burdened with tall plants.

At last he took his courage in his hand, and went up to a little old
lady whom he had seen going from row to row. She had bright eyes and a
gentle manner and a kindly smile. He asked her, if she bought anything,
to let him carry it home for her. She looked at the handsome young
fellow, and her glance was as shrewd as it seemed to him sympathetic.

"Yes," she answered, "I think I can trust you."

A minute or two later she bargained with a Scotch gardener for two
azaleas in full bloom. Then she turned to McDowell Sutro:

"Will you take those to the Post-Graduate Hospital, corner of Second
Avenue and Twentieth Street, for half a dollar?"

"Yes," he answered, eagerly.

"Very well," she responded. "They are for the Babies' Wards. Say that
they are from Miss Van Dyne. The Babies' Wards, you understand? And here
is your money. I've got to trust you; but you have an honest face, and I
don't believe that you would rob sick children of the sight and smell of
the flowers they love."

"No," said McDowell Sutro, "I wouldn't." He picked up the heavy pots,
and held one in the hollow of each arm. "The Babies' Wards of the
Post-Graduate Hospital, from Miss Van Dyne? Is that it?"

"That's it," she answered, with her illuminating smile.

He walked off with the plants. Having the money in his pocket to break
his fast, it seemed as though he could not get to the hospital swiftly
enough. But when he had handed in the flowers, and was on his way back
again to the square, he remembered suddenly the woman who had sat by him
on the bench, and who had been hungry also. He had fifty cents in his
pocket now, and in the window of an eating-house on Fourth Avenue he saw
the sign, "Regular Breakfast, 25 cts." He had money enough to buy two
regular breakfasts, one for himself and one for her.

He made the circle of the little park three times, besides traversing it
in every direction, and then he had to confess that she was beyond his
reach.

So he went to the restaurant alone, and had a regular breakfast all to
himself.

When he came forth he felt refreshed, and the people who were now
hurrying along the streets struck him as happier than those he had seen
in the gray dawn. The long sunbeams were lighting the side streets. The
workmen with their dinner-pails were giving place to the shop-girls with
their luncheons tied up in paper.

The roar of the great city arose once more as the mighty tide of
humanity again swept through its thoroughfares.

He went back to the gardeners' wagons, believing that he might earn
another half-dollar. But when he saw other men waiting there hungrily,
he turned away, thinking it only fair to give them a chance too.

He found a seat in the sun, and looked on while the flower-market was
stripped by later purchasers. He wondered where the plants were all
going, and then he remembered that the same flowers serve for the
funeral and for the wedding. For the first time it struck him as strange
that the plant which dresses a dinner-table to-day may gladden a
sick-room to-morrow, and be bedded on a grave the day after.

At last he thought the hour had come when the post-office would be open
again, and he set off for Fifth Avenue and Thirteenth Street.

When he reached the station he checked his walk. He did not dare go in,
although the doors were open, and he could see other men and women
asking questions at the little square windows. What if his questions
should meet with the same answer as yesterday? What if he should have to
spend another night in Union Square?

He nerved himself at last and entered. As he approached the window the
clerk looked at him with a glance of recognition.

"McDowell Sutro, isn't it? Yes--there is a letter for you. Overweight,
too--there's four cents extra postage to pay."

The young man's hand trembled as he put down the quarter left after
paying for his regular breakfast. He seized the envelope swiftly, and
almost forgot to pick up his change, till the clerk reminded him of it.

He tore the letter open. It was from Tom Pixley; it contained a
post-office order for fifty dollars; and it began:

     "MY DEAR MAC,--Go and see Sam Sargent, 78 Broadway, and he will get
     you a place on the surveyor's staff for the new line of the
     Barataria Central. I'm writing to him by this mail, and--"

But for a minute McDowell Sutro could read no further. His eyes had
filled with tears.

(1895.)



AN IRREPRESSIBLE CONFLICT


The summer sun had blazed down all day on the low wooden roof of the old
shed lately used as an ice-cream saloon, and now hastily altered to
accommodate a post of the Salvation Army. Placards at the wide doorway
proclaimed that All were Welcome, and besought the stranger to Come in
and be Saved. The tall tenements that lined the side-streets east and
west had emptied their hundreds of inhabitants out into the avenue that
evening, and the sidewalks were thronged with men and women languid from
the heat of the day, and longing for the lazy breeze that sometimes
creeps into the city with nightfall; but few of them cared to enter the
stifling hall where the song-service was about to begin, and that night
especially there were many counter-attractions out-doors. Already were
the rockets beginning to burst far above the square where the fireworks
were to be displayed; and now and again a boy (who had more than boyish
self-control) produced a reserve pack of fire-crackers, and dropped them
into a barrel, and capered away with delight as the owner of the barrel
was called to his door by the rattle of their explosion.

A pale and thin young woman, in the uniform of the Salvation Army,
stood wearily in the entrance, proffering the _War Cry_ to all those who
came near. She looked as though she had been pretty when she was a girl.
Now she was obviously worn and weak, like one recovering from a long
illness. High up over her head appeared a shower of colored stars shot
forth from a bomb; and then she remembered how she had seen the
fireworks on the last Fourth of July, only a year before, lying on her
bed which Jim had pulled to the window before he went down to conduct
the meeting. She had lain there peacefully with her two-weeks-old baby
in her arms, and it had seemed to her as though the glowing wheels that
revolved in the air, and the curving lines of fire that rose and fell
again, were but a prefiguration of a golden future where all would be
splendor and glory. How that vision had faded into blackness in the
months that followed!--when the baby sickened because they had not
proper food for him, and when Jim broke down also; and she had had to
get up, feeble as she was, and nurse them both until they died, one
after another. When she let herself think of those days of despair, she
had always to make a resolute effort if she did not wish to give way and
go into a fit of sobbing that left her exhausted for the next
twenty-four hours.

She mastered her rising emotion and turned for relief to the duty of the
moment. For five minutes no one had bought a paper from her, and the
time had come to go into the hall to take part in the service of song.

She pushed inside the swinging-door and found that perhaps a score of
visitors had gathered, and that already half a dozen members of the
Salvation Army had taken their seats at the edge of the low platform at
the end of the shallow hall. Captain Quigley was standing there, with
his shiny black hair carefully curled and his pointed beard carefully
combed. He was waiting, ready to begin, with his accordion in his hands.

She wondered why it was that she was always sorry to have Captain
Quigley lead the service. She would not deny that he led well, giving a
swing to the tunes he played that carried all the people off their feet;
he sang sweetly and he spoke feelingly. But she did not altogether like
his manner, which was almost patronizing; and then he had a way of
bringing her suddenly into his remarks and of calling her forward
needlessly. Even after her two years' service she shrank from
personalities and from self-exhibition. Yet there was no doubt that he
meant to be kind to her, and she knew that he had allowed her special
privileges more than once. With motherly kindness Adjutant Willetts had
asked her only a week before if she really liked Captain Quigley,
telling her that if she did not like him, she ought to be careful not to
encourage him, and since that talk with the adjutant her distaste for
the captain had been intensified.

It was as though Captain Quigley had been waiting for her to appear, for
he began to speak as soon as he saw her. In a high nasal voice and with
an occasional elided aspirate, he welcomed those present and told them
he was glad that they had come. He asked them all to take part in
singing the grand old hymn, "There Is a Fountain Filled with Blood." He
set the tune with his accordion, and lined out the first stanza and led
in the singing. Only three or four of the chance visitors joined in the
song, the burden of which was borne by the members of the Salvation
Army.

Then the captain told his hearers that there was a new _War Cry_
published that very morning full of interesting things, and containing
the words of the songs they would all sing later, so he wanted everybody
in the hall to buy one, that they could all follow the music.

The thin young woman with the saddened face began to move down the
aisles offering her papers right and left.

"That's the way, Sister Miller," called out the captain, as though to
encourage her; but she winced as she heard her name thus thrown to the
public. "I want you all to buy Sister Miller's papers, so that she can
come up here and join us in the singing. You don't know what a sweet
voice Sister Miller has--but we know."

He continued to talk thus familiarly as she made the circuit of the
seats. When she had taken her place on the platform by the side of
Adjutant Willetts, who smiled at her with maternal affection in her eye,
then suddenly the captain changed his tone. "Now we will ask the Lord to
bless us--to bless us all, to bless this meeting. I don't know why any
of you have come here to-night, but I do know this: if you have come
here for God's blessing, you will get it. If you have come here for
something else, I don't know whether you will get it; but if you have
come here for that you will surely get it. God always gives His blessing
to all who ask for it. Brother Higginson, will you lead us in prayer?"

The men and women on the platform fell on their knees, and the most of
those scattered about the hall bowed their heads reverently, while
Brother Higginson prayed that the blessing of God might descend upon
them that night. Sister Miller had heard Brother Higginson lead in
prayer many times and she knew almost to a word what he was likely to
say, for the range of his appeal was limited; but she always thrilled a
little at the simple fervor of the man. It annoyed her, as usual, to
have the captain punctuate the appeal of Brother Higginson with an
occasional "Amen! Amen!" or "Hallelujah!"

After the prayer there was another gospel song, and then the captain
laid aside his accordion and took up a Bible. He read a passage from the
Old Testament describing the advance of the Children of Israel into the
desert, guided by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by
night. He held the book in his hand while he expounded his text. The
Children of Israel had their loins girded to fight the good fight, he
said. That is what every people has to do; the Israelites had to do it,
the English had to do it, the Americans had to do it. They all knew what
the Fourth of July stood for and how well Americans fought then, more
than a hundred years ago; and so saying he seized the flag which had
been leaning against the wall behind him, by the side of the blood-red
banner of the Salvation Army.

As he was waving the Stars and Stripes Sister Miller felt her dislike
accentuated, for she knew that the captain was an Englishman who had
been here but a few years, and it seemed to her mean of him to be taking
sides against his native land. She wondered if he was really ignorant
enough to think that one of the great battles of the Revolution had been
fought on the Fourth of July.

Then her mind went back to her girlhood, and she recalled the last
celebration of the Fourth that had taken place in the old school-house
at home the summer before she graduated. She remembered how old Judge
Standish read the Declaration of Independence with a magnificent air of
proprietorship, as though he had just dashed it off. Other incidents of
that day came floating back to her memory as she sat there in the thick
air of the little hall, and she ceased to hear Captain Quigley calling
urgently on all those present to be Soldiers of God. In her ears there
echoed, instead, the pleading words of young Dexter Standish, telling
her that he was going to the Naval Academy and that he wanted her to
wait for him till he should come back. She had given her promise, and
why had she not kept her word? Why had she been foolishly jealous when
she heard that he was the best dancer in his class at Annapolis, and
that all the Baltimore girls were wild to dance with him. She had long
ago discovered that her reason for breaking off the engagement was
wholly inadequate; and, in her folly, she had not foreseen that Dexter
could not leave the Academy and come to her and explain. If only he had
presented himself and told her he loved her she would have forgiven him,
even if he had really deserved punishment. But he was a cadet, and he
would not have a leave of absence for another year. Before that year was
out, she had married James Miller, a theological student, who soon threw
up all his studies in his religions zeal to join the Salvation Army, as
though craving martyrdom. Jim had loved her, and he had thought she
loved him. It was with a swift pang of reproach that she found herself
asking whether it was not better for Jim that he had died before he
found out that his wife did not love him as he loved her.

With the ingenuity that came of long experience, Captain Quigley had
ended his address with a quotation from "Onward, Christian Soldiers,"
and Sister Miller was roused from her reverie to take part in the
chorus. When they had sung three stanzas the captain stopped abruptly
and turned to the gray-haired woman who sat beside Sister Miller, and
called on Adjutant Willetts to say a few words of loving greeting to the
souls waiting to be saved.

To Sister Miller it was a constant delight to be with the adjutant, to
be comforted by her motherly smile and to be sustained by her cheerful
faith. There was a Quaker simplicity about Sister Willetts, and a Quaker
strength of character that the wan and worn Sister Miller had found she
could always rely upon. And another characteristic of the elder woman's
endeared her also to the younger: her religious fervor was as fresh as
it was sincere, and she gave her testimony night after night with the
same force and the same feeling that she had given it the first time.
Too many of the others had reduced what they had to say to a mere
formula, modified but little and delivered at last in almost mechanical
fashion. But Sister Willetts stood forward on the platform and bore
witness to her possession of the peace of God which passeth all
understanding; and she did this most modestly, with neither shyness nor
timidity, merely as though she were doing her duty gladly in declaring
what God had done for her.

When the adjutant had made an end of speaking and had taken her seat by
the side of the pale young woman, who smiled back at her again, Captain
Quigley grasped his accordion once more.

"Now you shall have a solo," he said. "Sister Miller will sing that
splendid old hymn, 'Rock of Ages.' Come, Sister Miller."

Her voice had no great power, but it sufficed for that little hall. She
did not like to stand forward conspicuously, but the singing itself she
always enjoyed. Sometimes she was almost able to forget herself as she
poured out her soul in song.

On that Fourth of July evening she had not more than begun when she
became conscious that somebody was staring at her with an intensity
quite different from the ordinary gaze of curiosity to which she was
accustomed. She obeyed the impulse, and looked down into the eyes of
Dexter Standish fixed upon her as though he had come to claim possession
of her at once.

So unexpected was this vision, and so enfeebled was her self-control,
that her voice faltered, and she almost broke off in the middle of a
line. But she stiffened herself, and though she felt the blood dyeing
her face, she sang on sturdily. Her first thought was to run away--to
run away at once and hide herself, somewhere, anywhere, so that she were
only out of his sight. He had not seen her for six years and more, and
in those weary years she had lost her youth and her looks. She knew
that she was no longer the pretty girl he had loved, and she shrank from
his scrutiny of her faded features and of her shrunken figure.

She could not run away and she could not hide; she had to stand there
and let him gaze at her and discover how old she looked and how worn.
She met his eyes again--he never took them from her--and it seemed to
her that they were full of pity. She resented this. What right had he to
compassionate her? She drew her thin frame up and sang the louder in
mere bravado. Yet she was glad when she came to the end, and was able to
sink back into the seat by the side of Sister Willetts.

The captain spoke up at once, and said that the time had come to take up
a collection. Let every man give a little, in proportion to his means,
no more and no less. Would Sister Willetts and Sister Miller go about
among the people to collect the offerings?

As she picked up her tambourine she turned impulsively to the elder
woman.

"Let me go to those near the platform, please," she begged. "Won't you
take the outside rows?"

The adjutant looked down on her a little surprised, but agreed at once.

The younger woman went only a few steps down the aisles, keeping as far
away from him as possible. Whenever she glanced towards him she found
his eyes fixed upon her, following her everywhere; and now it was not
pity she thought she saw in his look, but love--the same love she had
seen in those eyes the last time they two had stood face to face.

When the tambourines had been extended towards everybody in the hall,
the two women went back to the platform and the adjutant counted up the
money--coppers and nickels, most of it, and not two dollars in all.

The captain kept on steadfastly. He gave out another hymn. When that had
been sung, he turned to a portly man who had come in late and who was
sitting on the platform behind Brother Higginson.

"Brother Jackman," he asked, with unction, "how is your soul to-night?
Can't you tell us about it?"

While the portly man, standing uneasily with his hands on the chair
before him, was briskly setting forth the circumstances of his assured
salvation, Sister Miller was silent on the platform.

She could not help seeing Dexter Standish, who was straight in front of
her. She noted how erect he was, and how resolutely his shoulders were
squared. She saw that he was older, too; and she observed that his face
had a masterful look, wanting there the last time she had seen him.

He had always been a fine-looking fellow, and the training at Annapolis
had done him good. He was no mere youth now, but a man, bronzed and
bearded, and bearing himself like one who knew what he wanted and meant
to get it. She realized that the woman he chose to guard from the world
would be well shielded. A weary woman might find rest under the shelter
of his stalwart protection. Involuntarily she contrasted the man she had
promised to marry with the man she had married--the manly strength of
the one with the gentle weakness of the other. Then she blushed again,
for this seemed to her disloyalty to the dead. Jim had been very good to
her always; he was the father of her child; he never did any wrong. But
the thought returned again--perhaps if he had had more force of
character the child need not have died as it did.

Brother Jackman was rattling along glibly, but Sister Miller did not
heed him. She did not hear him even. She did not hear anything
distinctly during the rest of the service. She rose to her feet with the
rest of them, and she sat down again automatically, and she knelt like
one in a trance. When the meeting was over and the people began to
disperse she saw that he did not move. He stood there silently, waiting
for her to come to him, ready to bear her away. Without a word Sister
Miller knew what it was her old lover wanted; he wanted to pick up their
love-story where it had been broken off four years before.

When the hall was nearly empty he started towards her.

She turned to the gray-haired woman by her side.

"Tell me what to do," she cried. "He is coming to take me away with
him."

Sister Willetts saw the young man advancing slowly, as those last to go
made a path for him.

"Is he in love with you, too?" she asked.

"Yes," the younger woman answered.

"And do you love him?"

"Yes--at least, I think so. Oh yes!"

"And is he a good man?" was the last question.

"Yes, indeed," came the prompt reply, "the best man I ever knew!"

The sturdy figure was drawing nearer and the elder woman rose.

"If you love him better than you love your work with us, go to him, in
God's name," she said. "We seek no unwilling workers here. If you cannot
give yourself to the service joyfully, putting all else behind you, go
in peace--and may the blessing of God be with you!"

She bent forward and kissed the younger woman and left her, as Dexter
Standish came and stood before her.

"Margaret," he said, firmly, "I have come for you."

Without a word she stepped down from the platform and went with him.

When they came to the door a hansom happened to pass and he called it.

"Where are you taking me?" she asked, glad to be under the shelter of
his devotion and ready to relinquish all right to decide upon her future
for herself.

"To my mother," he answered, as he lifted her into the vehicle. "She's
at a hotel here. She'll be glad to see you."

"Will she?" the girl asked, doubtfully.

"Yes," was the authoritative answer, "she knows that I have always loved
you."

(1897.)



THE SOLO ORCHESTRA


The air was thick and heavy, as it sometimes is in the great city
towards nightfall after a hot spell has lasted for ten days. There were
sponges tied to the foreheads of the horses that wearily tagged at the
overladen cross-town cars. The shop-girls going home fanned themselves
limply. The men released from work walked languidly, often with their
coats over their arms. The setting sun burned fiery red as it sank
behind the hills on the other side of the Hudson. But the night seemed
likely to be as hot as the day had been, for the leaves on the trees
were motionless now, as they had been all the afternoon.

We had been kept in town all through July by the slow convalescence of
our invalid, and with even the coming of August we could not hope to get
away for another ten days yet. The excessive heat had retarded the
recovery of our patient by making it almost impossible for her to sleep.
That evening, as it happened, she had dropped off into an uneasy slumber
a little after six o'clock, and we had left her room gently in the
doubtful hope that her rest might be prolonged for at least an hour.

I had slipped down-stairs and was standing on the stoop, with the door
open behind me, when I heard the shrill notes of the Pan-pipes,
accompanied by the jingling of a set of bells and the dull thumping of a
drum. I understood at once that some sort of wandering musician was
about to perform, and I knew that with the first few bars the needful
slumber of our invalid would be interrupted violently.

I closed the door behind me softly and sprang down the steps, and sped
swiftly to the corner around which the sounds seemed to proceed. If the
fellow is a foreigner, I thought, I must give him a quarter and so bribe
him to go away, and then he will return every evening to be bought off
again, and I shall become a subscriber by the week to the concerts I do
not wish to hear. But if the itinerant musician is an American, of
course I can appeal to him, as one gentleman to another, and we shall
not be troubled with him again.

[Illustration: "THE AIR WAS THICK AND HEAVY"]

When I turned the corner I saw a strange figure only a few yards
distant--a strange figure most strangely accoutred--a tall, thin,
loose-jointed man, who had made himself appear taller still by wearing a
high-peaked hat, the pinnacle of which was surmounted by a wire
framework, in which half a dozen bells were suspended, ringing with
every motion of the head. He had on a long linen duster, which flapped
about his gaunt shanks encased in tight, black trousers. Between his
legs he had a pair of cymbals, fastened one to each knee. Upon his back
was strapped a small bass-drum, on which there was painted the
announcement that the performer was "Prof. Theophilus Briggs, the Solo
Orchestra." A drumstick was attached to each side of the drum and
connected with a cord that ran down his legs to his feet, so that by
beating time with his toes he could make the drum take part in his
concert. The Pan-pipes that I had heard were fastened to his breast just
at the height of his chin, so that he could easily blow into them by the
slightest inclination of his head. In his left hand he held a fiddle,
and in his right hand he had a fiddle-bow. Just as I came in sight, he
tapped the fiddle with the bow, as though to call the attention of the
orchestra. Then he raised the fiddle; not to his chin, for the Pan-pipes
made this impossible, but to the other position, not infrequent among
street musicians, just below the shoulder. Evidently I had just arrived
in time.

He was not a foreigner, obviously enough. It needed only one glance at
the elongated visage, with its good-natured eyes and its gentle mouth,
to show that here was a native American whose parents and grandparents
also had been born on this side of the Atlantic.

"I beg your pardon for interrupting you before you begin," I said,
hastily, "but I shall be very much obliged indeed if you would kindly
consent to give your performance a little farther down this street--a
little farther away from this corner."

I saw at once that I had not chosen my words adroitly, for the kindly
smile faded from his lips, and there was more than a hint of stiffness
in his manner as he responded, slowly:

"I don't know as I quite catch your meaning," he began. "I ain't--"

"I'm sorry to have to ask you to go away," I interrupted, wishing to
explain; "I'd like to hear your concert myself; but the fact is, there's
a member of my family slowly recovering from a long sickness, and she's
only just fallen asleep now for the first time since midnight."

"Why didn't you say so at first?" was Professor Briggs's immediate
response, and the genial smile returned to his thin face. "Of course, I
don't want to worry no one with my music. And I'd just as lief as not go
over the other side of the city if it will be any more agreeable to a
sick person. I know myself what it is to have sickness in the house;
there ain't no one knows what that is better than I do--no one don't."

"It is very kind of you, I'm sure," I said, as he walked back with me to
the corner.

"Oh, that's all right," he returned. "It don't make any differ to me.
Now you just show me which house it is, so I can keep away from it."

I pointed out the door to him.

"The third one from the corner, is it?" he repeated. "Well, that's all
right. And I am much obliged to you for telling me about it, for I
should have hated to wake up a sick person; and these pipes and this
drum ain't exactly soothing to the sick, are they?"

Then the smile ripened to a laugh, and after I had thanked him once more
and shaken hands, he turned back and walked away, accompanied by the
bevy of children who had encircled us expectantly ever since I had first
spoken to him.

       *       *       *       *       *

Before daybreak the next morning a storm broke over the city, and the
heavy rain kept up all day, cooling the streets at last and washing the
atmosphere. With the passing of the hot wave sleep became easier for us
all. Men walked to their offices in the morning with a brisker step, and
the shop-girls were no longer listless as they went to their work. Our
invalid improved rapidly, and we could count the days before we should
be able to take her out of the city.

The rain-storm had brought this relief on a Thursday, and the skies did
not clear till Friday evening. The air kept its freshness over Saturday
and Sunday.

On the latter day, towards nightfall, I had taken my seat on the stoop,
as is the custom of New-Yorkers kept in town during the summer months. I
had brought out a cushion or two, and I was smoking my second
after-supper cigar. I felt at peace with the world, and for the moment
I had even dispensed with the necessity of thinking. It satisfied me to
watch the rings of tobacco-smoke as they curled softly above my head.

Although I was thus detached from earth, I became at last vaguely
conscious that a man had passed before the house for two or three times,
and that as he passed he had stared at me as though he expected
recognition. With his next return my attention was aroused. I saw that
he was a tall, thin man, of perhaps fifty years of age, with a lean face
clean-shaven, plainly dressed in black, and in what was obviously a
Sunday suit, so revealing itself by its odd wrinkles and creases. As he
came abreast of me, he slackened his gait and looked up. When he caught
my eye he smiled. And then I recognized him at once. It was Professor
Theophilus Briggs, the Solo Orchestra.

When he discovered that I knew him again he stood still. I rose to my
feet and greeted him.

"I thought this was the house," he began, "but I wa'n't sure for
certain. You see, my memory ain't any longer than a toad's tail. Still,
I allowed I hadn't ought to disremember anything as big as a house--now
had I?" and he laughed pleasantly. "And I thought that was you, too,
setting up there on the porch," he went on, cheerfully. "And I'm glad it
is, because I wanted to see you again to ask after the lady's health.
Did she have her sleep out that evening? And how is she getting on now?"

I thanked him again for his considerate action the first time we had
met, as well as for his kindly inquiries now, and I was glad to give him
good news of our patient. Then I recognized the duties of hospitality,
and I asked my visitor if he would not "take something."

"No, thank you," he returned--"that is, if there ain't no offence. Fact
is, I've quit. I don't look on the wine when it is red now, for it
biteth like an adder and it stingeth like a serpent, and I don't want
any more snakes in mine. I've had enough of them, I have. Croton extra
dry is good enough for me now, I guess; and I ain't no use now for a
happy family of blue mice and green rats and yellow monkeys. I've had
whole menageries of them, too, in my time--regular Greatest Show on
Earth, you know, and me with a season ticket. But it's like all these
continuous performances, you get tired of it pretty soon--leastways, I
did, and so I quit, and I don't touch a drop now."

"Sworn off?" I suggested, as I made room for him on the cushion by my
side.

"Oh no," he said, simply, as he sat down; "I hadn't no need to swear
off. I just quit; that's all there was to it."

"Some men do not find it so very easy to give up drinking," I remarked.

"That's so, too," he answered, "and I didn't either, for a fact. But I
just had to do it, that's all. You see, I'd given drinking a fair show,
and I'd found it didn't pay. Well, I don't like no trade where you're
bound to lose in the long-run--seems a pretty poor way to do business,
don't it? So I quit."

This seemed to call for a commonplace from me, and I was equal to the
occasion. "It's easier to get into the way of taking a drop now and then
than it is to get out of it."

"I got into it easy enough, I know that," he returned, smiling genially.
"It was when I was in the army. After a man has been laying out in the
swamp for a week or so, a little rum ain't such a bad thing to have in
the house."

Then it was that for the first time I noticed the bronze button in his
coat.

"So you were in the army?" I said, with the ever-rising envy felt by so
many of my generation who lived through the long years of the Civil War
mere boys, too young to take part in the struggle.

"I was a drummer-boy at Gettysburg," he answered; "and it warn't mighty
easy for me, either."

"How so?" I asked.

"Well, it was this way," he explained. "Father, he was a Maine man, and
he was a sea-captain. And when mother died, after a spell father he up
and married again. Now that second wife of father's she didn't like me;
and I didn't like her either, not overmuch. I guess there warn't no
love lost between us. She liked to make a voyage with father now and
then, and so did I. We was both with him on a voyage he made about the
time the war broke out. We cleared for Cowes and a market, and along in
the summer of '62 we was in the Mediterranean. It was towards the end of
that summer we come into Genoa, and there we got a chance at the papers,
all filled chock-full of battles. And it didn't seem as though things
was going any too well over here, either, and so I felt I'd like to come
home and lend a hand in putting down the rebellion. You see, I was past
fourteen then, and I was tall for my age--'most as tall as I am now, I
guess. I was doing a man's work on the ship, and I didn't see why I
couldn't do a man's work in helping Uncle Sam, seeing he seemed to be
having a hard time of it. And I don't mind telling you, too, that she
had been making me have considerable of a hard time of it, too; and
there warn't no way of contenting her, she was so all-fired pernicketty.
There was another ship in the harbor near us, and the captain was a sort
of a kind of a cousin of mother's, and so I shipped with him and we come
straight home from Genoa to Portsmouth. And when I wanted to enlist they
wouldn't have me, saying I was too young, which was all foolishness. So
I went for a drummer-boy, and I was in the Army of the Potomac from
Gettysburg to Appomattox."

"You were only a boy even when the war was over," I commented.

"Well, I was seventeen, and I felt old enough to be seventy," he
returned, as a smile wrinkled his lean features. "At any rate, I was old
enough to get married the year after Lee surrendered, and my daughter
was born the year after that--she'd be nearly thirty now if she was
living to-day."

"Did you stay in one of the bands of the regulars after the war?" I
asked, wondering how the sailor-lad who had become a drummer-boy had
finally developed into a solo orchestra.

"No," he answered. "Not but what I did think of it some. But after being
at sea so long and in the army, camping here and there and always moving
on, I was restless, and I didn't want to settle down nowhere for long.
So I went into the show business. I'd always been fond of music, and I
could play on 'most anything, from a fine-tooth comb to a church-organ
with all the stops you please. So I went out with the side-show of a
circus, playing on the tumbleronicon."

"The tumbleronicon?" I repeated, in doubt.

"It's a tray with a lot of wineglasses on it and goblets and tumblers,
partly filled with water, you know, so as to give different notes. Why,
I've had one tumbleronicon of seven octaves that I used to play the
'Anvil Chorus' on, and always got a double encore for it. I believe it's
what they used to call the 'musical glasses'--but tumbleronicon is what
it's called now in the profession."

I admitted that I had heard of the musical glasses.

"It was while I was playing the tumbleronicon in that side-show that I
met the lady I married," he went on. "She was a Circassian girl then.
Most Circassian girls are Irish, you know, but she wasn't. She was from
the White Mountains. Well, I made up to her from the start, and when the
circus went into winter-quarters we had a lot of money saved up and we
got married. My wife hadn't a bad ear for music, so that winter we
worked up a double act, and in the spring we went on the road as Swiss
Bellringers. We dressed up just as I had seen the I-talians dress in
Naples."

Again I asked for an explanation.

"Oh, you must have seen that act?" he urged, "though it has somehow gone
out of style lately. It's to have a fine set of bells, three or four
octaves, laying out on a table before you, and then you play tunes on
them, just as you do on the tumbleronicon. There's some tunes go better
on the bells than on anything else--'Yankee Doodle' and 'Pop Goes the
Weasel.' It's quick tunes like them that folks like to have you pick out
on the bells. Why, Mrs. Briggs and I used to do a patriotic medley,
ending up with 'Rally Round the Flag,' that just made the soldiers'
widows cry. If we could only have gone on, we'd have been sure of our
everlasting fortunes. But Mrs. Briggs went and lost her health after our
daughter was born the next summer. We kept thinking all the time she'd
get better soon, and so I took an engagement here in New York, at
Barnum's old museum in Broadway, to play the drum in the orchestra. You
remember Barnum's old museum, don't you?"

I was able to say that I did remember Barnum's old museum in Broadway.

"I didn't really like it there; for the animals were smelly, you know,
and the work was very confining, what with two and three performances a
day. But I had to stay here in New York somehow, for my wife wa'n't able
to get away. The long and short of it is, she was sick a-bed nigh on to
thirty years--not suffering really all the time, of course, but puny and
ailing, and getting no comfort from her food. There was times I thought
she never would get well or anything. But two years ago she up and died
suddenly, just when I'd most got used to her being sick. Women's
dreadful uncertain, ain't they?"

I had to confess that the course of the female of our species was more
or less incalculable.

"My daughter, she died the year before her mother; and she'd never been
sick a day in her life--took after me, she did," Professor Briggs went
on. "She and her husband used to do Yankee Girl and Irish Boy duets in
the vaudevilles, as they call them now."

I remarked that variety show, the old name for entertainments of that
type, seemed to me more appropriate.

"That's what I think myself," he returned, "and that's what I'm always
telling them. But they say vaudeville is more up to date--and that's
what they want now, everything up to date. Now I think there's lots of
the old-fashioned things that's heaps better than some of these
new-fangled things they're so proud of. Take a three-ringed circus, for
instance--what good is a three-ringed circus to anybody, except the boss
of it? The public has only two eyes apiece, that's all--and even a man
who squints can't see more than two rings at once, can he? And three
rings don't give a real artist a show; they discourage him by
distracting folk's attention away from him. How is he to do his best if
he can't never be certain sure that the public is looking at him?"

Here again I was able to express my full agreement with the professor.

"I'd never do in a three-ring show, no matter what they was to give me,"
he continued. "And I've got an act nearly ready now that there's lots of
these shows will be wanting just as soon as they hear of it. I"--here he
interrupted himself and looked up and down the street, as though to make
sure that there were no concealed listeners lying in wait to overhear
what he was about to say--"I don't mind telling you about it, if you'd
like to know."

I declared that I was much interested, and that I desired above all
things to learn all about this new act of his.

"Well," he began, "I think I told you awhile ago that my granddaughter's
all the family I got left now? She's nearly eight years old, and as
cunning a little thing as ever you see anywhere--and healthy, too, like
her mother. She favors me, just as her mother did. And she takes to
music naturally--can't keep her hands off my instruments when I put them
down--plays 'Jerusalem the Golden' on the pipes now so it would draw
tears from a graven image. And she sings too--just as if she couldn't
help it. She's a voice like an angel--oh, she'll be a primy donny one of
these days. And it was her singing gave me the idea of this new act of
mine. It's _Uncle Tom's Cabin_ arranged just for her and me. I do Uncle
Tom and play the fiddle, and she doubles Little Eva and Topsy with a
lightning change. As Little Eva, of course, she'll sing a hymn--'Wait
Till the Clouds Roll By,' or the 'Sweet By-and-By,' or something of that
sort; and as Topsy she'll do a banjo solo first, and then for the encore
she'll do a song and dance, while I play the fiddle for her. It's a
great scheme, isn't it? It's bound to be a go!"

I expressed the opinion that it seemed to me a most attractive
suggestion.

"But I've made up my mind," he went on, "not to bring her out at all
until I can get the right opening. I don't care about terms first off,
because when we make our hit we can get our own terms quick enough. But
there's everything in opening right. So I shall wait till fall, or maybe
even till New Year's, before I begin to worry about it. And in the
meantime my own act in the street goes. The Solo Orchestra is safe for
pretty good money all summer. You didn't hear me the other evening, and
I'm sorry--but there's no doubt it's a go. I don't suppose it's as
legitimate as the tumbleronicon, maybe, or as the Swiss bells--I don't
know for sure. But it isn't bad, either; and in summer, wherever there's
children around, it's a certain winner. Sometimes when I do the 'Turkish
Patrol,' or things like that, there's a hundred or more all round me."

"From the way the little ones looked at me the other evening, when I
asked you to move on," I said, "it was obvious enough that they were
very anxious to hear you. And I regret that I was forced to deprive
myself also of the pleasure."

He rose to his feet slowly, his loose-jointed frame seeming to unfold
itself link by link.

"I tell you what I'll do," he responded, cordially; "isn't your lady
getting better?"

I was able to say that our invalid was improving steadily.

"Well, then," he suggested, "what do you say to my coming round here
some evening next week? I'll give a concert for her and you, and any of
your friends you like to invite? And you can tell her there isn't any of
the new songs or waltzes or marches or selections from operas she wants
I can't do. She's only got to give it a name and the Solo Orchestra will
play it."

Of course I accepted this proffered entertainment; and with that
Professor Briggs took his leave, bidding me farewell with a slightly
conscious air as though he were accustomed to have the eyes of a
multitude centred upon him.

And one evening, in the middle of the week, the Solo Orchestra appeared
on the sidewalk in front of our house and gave a concert for our special
benefit.

Our invalid had so far regained her strength that she was able to sit at
the window to watch the performance of Professor Briggs. But her
attention was soon distracted from the Solo Orchestra itself to the
swarm of children which encompassed him about, and which took the
sharpest interest in his strange performance.

"Just look at that lovely little girl on the stoop opposite, sitting all
alone by herself, as though she didn't know any of the others," cried
our convalescent. "She's the most elfinlike little beauty I've ever
seen. And she is as _blasée_ about this Solo Orchestra of yours as
though it was _Tannhäuser_ we were listening to, and she was the owner
of a box at the Metropolitan."

When the concert came to an end at last, as the brief twilight was
waning, when the Solo Orchestra had played the "Anvil Chorus" as a final
encore after the "Turkish Patrol," when Professor Theophilus Briggs,
after taking up the collection himself, had shaken hands with me when I
went down to convey to him our thanks, when it was so plainly evident
that the performance was over at last that even the children accepted
the inevitable and began to scatter--then the self-possessed little girl
on the opposite side of the way rose to her feet with dignity. When the
tall musician, with the bells jingling in his peaked hat, crossed the
street, she took his hand as though he belonged to her. As he walked
away she trotted along by his side, smiling up at him.

"I see now," I said; "that must be his granddaughter, the future
impersonator of the great dual character, Little Eva and Topsy."

(1896.)



THE REHEARSAL OF THE NEW PLAY


When Wilson Carpenter came to the junction of the two great
thoroughfares he stood still for a moment and looked at his watch, not
wishing to arrive at the rehearsal too early. He found that it was then
almost eight o'clock, and he began at once to pick his way across the
car-tracks that were here twisted in every direction. A cloud of steam
swirled down as a train on the elevated railroad clattered along over
his head; the Cyclops eye of a cable-car glared at him as it came
rushing down-town; from the steeple of a church on the corner, around
which the mellow harvest-moon peered down on the noisy streets, there
came the melodious call to the evening service; over the entrance to a
variety show a block above a gaudy cluster of electric lights
illuminated the posters which proclaimed for that evening a Grand Sacred
Concert, at which Queenie Dougherty, the Irish Empress, would sing her
new song, "He's an Illigant Man in a Scrap, My Boys." As the young
dramatist sped along he noted that people were still straggling by twos
and threes into the house of worship and into the place of
entertainment; and he could not but contrast swiftly this Sunday
evening in a great city with the Sunday evenings of his boyhood in the
little village of his birth.

He wondered what his quiet parents would think of him now were they
alive, and did they know that he was then going to the final rehearsal
of a play of which he was half author. It was not his first piece, for
he had been lucky enough the winter before to win a prize offered by an
enterprising newspaper for the best one-act comedy; but it was the first
play of his to be produced at an important New York house. When he came
to the closed but brilliantly lighted entrance of this theatre, he stood
still again to read with keen pleasure the three-sheet posters on each
side of the doorway. These parti-colored advertisements announced the
first appearance at that theatre of the young American actress, Miss
Daisy Fostelle, in a new American comedy, "Touch and Go," written
expressly for her by Harry Brackett and Wilson Carpenter, and produced
under the immediate direction of Z. Kilburn.

When the author of the new American comedy had read this poster twice,
he took out his watch again and saw that it was just eight. He threw
away his cigarette and walked swiftly around the corner. Entering a
small door, he went down a long, ill-lighted passage. At the end of this
was a small square hall, which might almost be called the landing-stage
of a flight of stairs leading to the dressing-rooms above and to the
property-room below. This hall was cut off from the stage by a large
swinging-door.

As Carpenter entered the room this door swung open and a nervous young
man rushed in. Catching sight of the dramatist, he checked his speed,
held out his hand, and smiled wearily, saying, "That's you, is it? I'm
so glad you've come!"

"The rehearsal hasn't begun, has it?" Carpenter asked, eagerly.

"Star isn't here yet," answered the actor, "and she's never in a hurry,
you know. She takes her own time always, Daisy does. I know all her
little tricks. I've told you already that I never would have accepted
this engagement at all if I hadn't been out since January. I don't see
myself in this part of yours. I'll do my best with it, of course, and it
isn't such a bad part, maybe; but I don't see myself in it."

Carpenter tapped the other on the back heartily and cried: "Don't you be
afraid, Dresser; you will be all right! Why, I shouldn't wonder if you
made the hit of the whole piece!"

And with that he started to open the door that led to the stage.

But Dresser made a sudden appeal: "Don't go away just as I've found you.
I've been wanting to see you all day. I've got to have your advice, and
it's important."

"Well?" the dramatist responded.

"Well," repeated the young actor, "you know that bit of mine in the
third act, where I have the scene with Jimmy Stark? He has to say to
me, 'I think my wife's mind is breaking,' and I say, 'Are you afraid she
is going to give you a piece of it?' Now, how would you read that?"

After the author had explained to the actor what seemed to him the
obvious distribution of the emphasis in this speech, he was able to
escape and at last to make his way upon the stage.

The scene of the first act of "Touch and Go" was set, and the stage
itself was brilliantly lighted, while the auditorium was in absolute
darkness. It was at least a minute before Carpenter was able to discern
the circle of the balcony, shrouded in the linen draperies that
protected its velvet and its gilding from the dust. Here and there in
the orchestra chairs were little knots of three or four persons, perhaps
twenty or thirty in all. The proscenium boxes yawned blackly. Although
it was a warm evening in the early fall, the house struck Carpenter as
chill and forbidding. He peered into the darkness to discover the face
he was longing to see again.

Two men were talking earnestly, seated at a table in the centre of the
stage near the footlights. One of these was a short man, with grizzled
hair and a masterful manner. This was Sherrington, the stage-manager who
had been engaged to produce the play. The other was Harry Brackett,
Carpenter's collaborator in its authorship.

Just as the new-comer had made out in the dark house the group he was
seeking and had bowed to the two ladies comprising it, Harry Brackett
caught sight of him.

"Well, Will," he cried, "the Stellar Attraction is late, as usual--and
we've got lots of work before us to-night, too. Sherrington isn't at all
satisfied with the way they do either of the big scenes in the second
act; and we've got to look out and keep them all up to their work if we
want this to be anything more than a mere 'artistic success.'"

"'Artistic success!'" said Sherrington, emphatically; "why, there's
money in this thing of yours--big money, too, if we can get all the
laughs out of those two scenes of Daisy's in the second act. But it will
take good work to get out all the laughs there ought to be,
legitimately--and we've got to do it! Every laugh is worth a dollar and
a half; that's what I say."

"The two scenes in the second act?" inquired Carpenter. "The one with
Stark and the one with Miss Marvin, you mean?"

"The one with Marvin will be all right, I think," said the
stage-manager.

"I'm not so sure of that," Harry Brackett interjected; "you insisted on
her being engaged, Will, but she is very inexperienced, and I don't know
how she'll get through that long scene."

"Miss Marvin is very clever," Carpenter declared, eager to defend the
girl he was in love with; "and she will look the part to perfection!"

"Looking is all very well," Brackett responded, "but it is acting she
will have to do in that scene in the second act."

"And she will do it too," asserted the stage-manager. "You see, she's
got her mother here to-night, and there isn't a sharper old stager
anywhere than Kate Shannon Loraine."

"That's so," Harry Brackett admitted; "I suppose Loraine can show her
daughter how to get out of that scene all there is in it."

"Shannon'll see the whole play to-night," said Sherrington, "and she'll
be able to give Marvin lots of pointers to-morrow. The little girl will
be all right; it's Daisy I'm more afraid of in that scene. It ought to
be played high comedy, 'Lady Teazle,' way up in G--and high comedy isn't
altogether in Daisy's line."

"That can't be helped now," Brackett replied; "and if the Stellar
Attraction can't reach that scene it's the Stellar Attraction's own
fault, isn't it? You remember, Will, how she kept telling us all the
time we were writing the play that she wanted as high-toned a part as we
could give her. We gave it to her, and now she's just got to stretch up
to it, if she can."

"I am not afraid of that scene," Carpenter declared, "for I've always
doubted whether she could really do high comedy, and that scene is
written so that it will go almost as well if it's played broadly. You
know there are two ways of doing Lady Teazle."

"There are no two ways about Daisy's being a great favorite," said the
stage-manager. "She's accepted, and that's enough. After all, I don't
suppose it matters much how she takes that scene; high or broad, the
public will accept her. The part fits her like a glove, and all we've
got to do is to keep everybody up to concert-pitch and get all the
laughs we can. You took my advice and cut that talky scene in the third
act, and now the whole act will go off like hot cakes--see if it don't.
I tell you what it is, I'll teach you two boys how to write a real farce
before I've done with you!"

Harry Brackett was standing almost behind Sherrington as the
stage-manager made this speech. He winked at Carpenter.

"Yes," he said, a moment later, "I think it is a pretty good piece of
the kind, and I hope it will fetch them. At any rate, I don't believe
even our worst enemies will praise it for its 'literary merit.'"

Carpenter laughed a little bitterly. "No," he assented, "we've got it
into shape now, and I doubt if anybody insults us by saying that 'Touch
and Go' is 'well written.'"

"Do you remember our joke while we were working on it last winter,
Will?" asked Harry Brackett. Then turning to Sherrington he explained:
"We used to say that the managers wouldn't 'touch' it, so the people
couldn't 'go.'"

"It's harder to touch the manager than it is to make the public go,"
added Carpenter. "I believe that any fool can write a play, but that
only a man of great genius ever succeeds in getting his play produced."

A handsome young woman with snapping black eyes walked on the stage
briskly.

"Here's the Stellar Attraction at last," said Harry Brackett; "now we
can get down to business."

"Am I late?" the handsome young woman asked, as she came forward.
"Everybody waiting for me?"

"You are just twenty minutes late, my dear," said the stage-manager,
looking at his watch, "and we are all waiting for you."

"That's all right, then," she replied, laughing lightly; "we've got all
night before us, haven't we?"

The prompter clapped his hands and called out "First act!" Two
clean-shaven men of indefinite age who had been sitting in the wings
rose and came forward. Mr. Dresser joined them, and his manner suggested
a certain increase of his ordinary nervous tension. A well-preserved
elderly lady left her seat on one side of the aisles under the
proscenium box and came through the door which led from the auditorium
to the stage. She was followed by a slight, graceful girl, a blonde with
clear gray eyes.

"Mrs. Castleman--Miss Marvin," said the prompter, seeing them; "now we
are all ready."

And then the serious business of the rehearsal began. Mrs. Castleman
came down to the centre of the stage and took up a newspaper and read
the date of it aloud, and remarked that it was just five years since
master and mistress had parted in anger, adding that neither of them had
put foot inside the old house in all the five years, and yet it was not
an hour from New York. Then one of the minor actors, an awkward young
fellow, one of the two who had been standing in the wings, entered with
a telegram, which he gave to Mrs. Castleman. She tore it open and read
it aloud; the master would arrive early that evening. Then Miss Marvin,
the girl with the clear blue eyes, came forward with an open letter in
her hand and told Mrs. Castleman that the mistress of the house would be
home again at last late that afternoon. And thus the rehearsal went on
gravely, every one intent upon the business in hand. The speeches of the
actors were interrupted now and then by the stage-manager. "Take the
last scene over again," he might command, whereupon the performers would
resume their places as before and begin again. "Don't cross till he
takes the stage, my dear. And when he says, 'What is the meaning of
this?' don't be in a hurry. Wait, and then say your aside, 'Can he
suspect?' in a hoarse whisper. See?"

Finally there was a jingle of sleigh-bells, and the orchestra, beginning
faintly and slowly, soon worked up to a swift _forte_, and then Miss
Daisy Fostelle made her first appearance through the broad door at the
back of the stage. Finding that she had taken everybody by surprise, she
smiled sweetly, and said, "You didn't expect me, I see--but I hope you
are all glad to see me once more."

A thin, cadaverous man with a heavy, black mustache here stepped forward
to face the wife he had not seen for five years. "We are all glad to see
you once more," he had to say, "very glad indeed, and we are gladder
still to see that you seem to be in such excellent health and such high
spirits! The separation has not dimmed the brightness of your eyes,
nor--" Here the tall, gaunt actor stopped and hesitated. "I don't know
what's the matter with that speech," he said, impatiently, "but I can't
get it into my head. I never had such tricky lines!"

The prompter gave him the word he needed, and no one else paid any
attention to this out-break.

The two authors were seated at the table in the centre of the
footlights, and Harry Brackett whispered to Carpenter: "Stark is getting
the big head, isn't he? The idea of a mere cuff-shooter like that taking
himself seriously!"

Then there followed an important scene in which the wife gave her
husband a witty and vivacious account of all her doings during the five
years of their separation, ending with the startling announcement that
she had spent six weeks in South Dakota and had there procured a divorce
from him! But there is no need to disclose here in detail the plot of
"Touch and Go," as the new American comedy unfolded itself scene by
scene. As the end of the act approached Sherrington pressed the actors
to play more briskly so as to bring the curtain down swiftly on an
unexpected but carefully prepared tableau.

When the act was over the stage manager had the final passages repeated
twice, to make sure of its going smoothly at the first performance; and
then the stage was cleared so that the scene might be set for the second
act.

Carpenter watched the graceful, gray-eyed girl go back into the dim
auditorium and take a seat beside her mother; and his heart thumped
suddenly as he found himself wondering when he would dare to tell her
that he loved her and to ask her to be his wife. Then he also left the
stage and dropped into the chair behind mother and daughter.

"It was very good of you to come this evening, Mrs. Loraine," he began.
"I feel as if having your daughter act in this play of mine will bring
me luck somehow."

"The idea!" said Miss Marvin, smilingly.

"Mary had told me how clever the piece was," the elder actress
responded, "but it is really better than she said. The dialogue is very
brilliant at times, and the characters are excellently contrasted--and,
what is more important, the whole thing will act! The parts carry the
actors; they've got something to do which is worth while doing. It will
go all right to-morrow night!"

"It's a beautiful piece," Mary Marvin declared, "and I think my part is
just lovely!"

And before he could say anything in fit acknowledgment, Mrs. Loraine
went on: "Yes, Mary's part is charming. And I think she will play it
very well, too!"

"I'm sure of it!" he cried, unhesitatingly.

"I think there is more in it than I thought at first," said Mary's
mother, "now I've seen the play, and I'll go over Mary's part with her
to-night and show her what can be done with it. I'm waiting for that
scene in the second act with Fostelle. I think that Mary ought to share
the call after that. In fact, I'm not sure that she can't take the scene
away from Fostelle."

"Oh, mother," the daughter broke in, "that would never do! I should get
my two weeks' notice the next morning, shouldn't I? And I don't want to
be out of an engagement just at the beginning of the season when all the
companies are made up."

"Are you sure that the ghost will walk every week with this Fostelle
company, if you strike bad business for a month or so?" asked Mrs.
Loraine, with a suggestion of anxiety in her voice.

"I think Zeke Kilburn is all right," the dramatic author responded; "he
made a pile of money last year on that imported melodrama, the 'Doctor's
Daughter'; and, besides, he has a backer."

Mrs. Loraine laughed gently, showing her beautifully regular teeth. She
was still a handsome woman, with a fine figure and a crown of silver
hair.

"A backer?" she rejoined; "but who backs the backer? I've heard your
friend, Mr. Brackett, there, say that a jay and his money are soon
parted."

Carpenter answered her earnestly. "I really think Kilburn is pretty
solid, but I suppose that a great deal does depend on the way that the
play draws. They've got open time here in New York, and if 'Touch and
Go' catches on they can stay here till Christmas. So it comes down to
this, that if our piece is a go the ghost will walk regularly."

"I hope it will make a hit," Mrs. Loraine answered, "for your sake, too.
You haven't sold it outright, have you?"

"No, indeed," the young dramatist replied. "Harry Brackett is too old in
the business for that. We've got a nightly royalty, with a percentage on
the gross whenever it plays to more than four thousand dollars a week.
We stand to make a lot of money--if it makes a hit. What do you think of
its chances, Mrs. Loraine?"

"The first act is all right," she responded. "That's the most I can say
now. But come and ask me after I've seen the third act and I'll tell you
what I think, and I believe I can then prophesy its fate pretty well."

By this time the scene of the second act had been set. It represented a
stone summer-house on the top of a hill overlooking the Hudson just
below West Point. It was picturesque in itself, and it was ingeniously
arranged to provide opportunities for effective stage business.

Carpenter accompanied Miss Marvin back to the stage when the time drew
nigh for the second act to begin.

As he was passing through the door between the auditorium and the stage,
he found himself face to face with Dresser, who was fidgeting to and
fro.

"Oh, Mr. Carpenter," he cried, "I'm so glad to see you! I want to ask
your opinion about this. After all, you know, you wrote the play, and
you ought to be able to decide. In my scene with Marvin in this act, am
I really in love with her then, or ain't I? Sherrington says I am, but I
think it's a great deal funnier if I'm not in love with her then--it
helps to work up the last act better. Now what do you think? Sherrington
insists that his way of playing it is more dramatic. Well, I don't say
it ain't, but it isn't half as funny, is it?"

After Carpenter had given his opinion upon this question, Dresser
allowed him to escape. But he had not advanced ten yards before he was
claimed by Mrs. Castleman.

"Mr. Carpenter," the elderly actress began, in her usual haughtily
dignified manner, "how do you think I ought to dress this part in the
first act? She's a house-keeper, isn't she? So I suppose I ought to wear
an apron."

The young dramatist expressed his belief that perhaps an apron would be
a proper thing for the house-keeper to wear in the first act.

"But not a cap, I hope?" urged Mrs. Castleman.

Carpenter doubted if a cap would be necessary.

"Thank you," said Mrs. Castleman. "You see, I have always hitherto been
associated with the legitimate, and I really don't quite know what to do
with this sort of thing." Then she suddenly paused, only to break out
again impetuously: "Oh, I beg your pardon, Mr. Carpenter, really I did
not mean to imply that this charming play of yours is not legitimate--"

The dramatic author laughed. "You needn't apologize," he declared; "I'm
inclined to think that 'Touch and Go' is so illegitimate now that its
own parents can't recognize it!"

At last the rehearsal of the second act began, the two authors sitting
at the little table with the stage-manager.

Sherrington consulted them once or twice in regard to the omission of a
line here and there.

"Cut it down to the bone when you can--that's what I say," he
explained; "what you cut out can't make people yawn."

But once he stopped the rehearsal to suggest that a speech be written
in. "You've got to make that complication mighty clear," he declared,
"and this is the place to do it, I think. If you want them to understand
that Dresser here is going to mistake Marvin for Fostelle in the next
scene, you had better give him another line now to lead up to it."

The two authors consulted hastily, and Carpenter, drawing out a
note-book and a pencil, hurriedly wrote a sentence, which he showed to
Brackett.

"That'll do it," said Sherrington; and he read it aloud to Dresser, who
borrowed Carpenter's pencil and wrote in the line on the manuscript of
his part, wondering aloud whether he should ever remember it on the
first night.

A few minutes later Sherrington again interrupted the actors to insist
that the sunset effect should be adjusted carefully to accompany the
spoken dialogue.

"I want a soft, rosy tinge on Fostelle in this scene," he explained.

"Quite right," laughed the black-eyed star; "that ought to be becoming
to my style of beauty."

"And I want it to contrast with the blue moonlight in the scene with
Marvin," said the stage-manager.

"Quite right again," Miss Daisy Fostelle commented. "I'll take the
centre of the stage, and you will order calciums for one!"

"We had better go back to your entrance, I think," Sherrington decided,
"and take the whole scene over."

The actors and actresses obediently resumed the positions they had
occupied when Miss Daisy Fostelle made her first appearance in that act.
The cue for her entrance was given, and she came forward with a burst of
artificial laughter.

"That laugh was very good," Sherrington declared--"better than it was
last time; but you must make it as hollow as you can. Remember the
situation: your best young man has gone back on you and you are trying
to keep a stiff upper-lip--but your heart is breaking all the same.
See?"

The star repeated the laugh, and it was more obviously artificial.

"That's it, my dear," said the stage-manager. "Now keep it up till you
cross, and then drop into that chair there, and then you let the laugh
die away into a sob."

The star went back to the rustic gate by which she had entered, laughed
again, and came forward; then she crossed the stage, sank upon a seat,
and choked with a sob.

Carpenter stepped forward and whispered into Sherrington's ear,
whereupon Miss Fostelle sat upright instantly and very suspiciously
asked, "What's that? I'd rather have you say it out loud than whisper
it!"

The young dramatist explained at once.

"I was only suggesting to Sherrington that perhaps it would be better if
that seat were turned a little so that you were not so sideways: then
the audience would get a full view of your face here."

"It would be a pity to deprive them of that, I'll admit," said the
mollified actress, as she and the stage-manager slightly turned the
rustic chair.

Then she dropped into the seat and repeated her sob.

Miss Marvin stepped upon the stage, and remarked to space, "What a
lovely evening, and how glorious the sunset!" Then she stood silently
watching.

Miss Daisy Fostelle sobbed again, and, in tones heavy-laden with tears,
she said, "What have I to live for now?" Looking back at the other
actress she remarked, in her ordinary voice, "You will give me time to
pick myself up here, won't you?" Then she went on, in the former
tear-stained accents, "What have I left to live for now? My heart is
broken! My heart is broken!" Again she resumed her every-day tones to
ask the stage-manager: "Is that all right? Am I far enough around now?"

Thus they came to perhaps the most important scene of the play--that
between the Stellar Attraction (as Brackett liked to call her) and the
girl Carpenter was in love with. Both actresses were well fitted to the
characters they had to perform. Carpenter, who had no liking for Daisy
Fostelle, was a little surprised at the judgment and skill with which
she carried off the _bravura_ passages of her part; and he was not a
little charmed with the delicate force the gentle Mary Marvin revealed
in the contrasting character.

And so the rehearsal proceeded laboriously, Sherrington directing it
autocratically, ordering certain scenes to be played more rapidly and
seeing that others were taken more slowly, so that the spectators might
have time to understand the situation. Now and then either Carpenter or
Brackett made a suggestion or a criticism, but both yielded to
Sherrington, if he was insistent. The stage-manager kept the whole
company of actors up to their work, and imposed on them his
understanding of that work, much as the conductor of an orchestra leads
his musicians at the performance of a symphony.

When the whole act had been rehearsed, and the final scene was repeated
three or four times until it ran like well-oiled clockwork, the stage
was cleared so that the scenery of the third act might be set.

Sherrington accompanied Miss Marvin through the door behind the
proscenium box into the dark auditorium.

"You will play that scene very well," he said, "but you've got to have
confidence."

"It is a beautiful part, isn't it?" she responded, with enthusiasm. "I
never had a part I could enjoy playing so much."

Carpenter was about to leave the stage to tell Mary what a delight it
was to him to hear her speak the words he had written, when his
collaborator tapped him on the shoulder. As he turned Harry Brackett
whispered in his ear:

"Look out for the Stellar Attraction. I'm afraid she has just dropped on
Marvin's part. If she once suspects that the little girl may get that
scene away from her, she can make herself mightily disagreeable all
round. I guess we had better go up and tell her she is a greater actress
than Charlotte Cushman."

Carpenter laughingly answered: "Take care she doesn't drop on you! It
would be worse if she thought you were guying her."

"There's no danger of that," Harry Brackett returned. "That Stellar
Attraction of ours is a boa-constrictor for flattery--there isn't
anything she won't swallow."

The two dramatic authors found Miss Daisy Fostelle standing in the wings
and discussing with Dresser the personal peculiarities of another member
of the dramatic profession.

As Carpenter and Brackett came up the actress was saying: "Why, she had
the cheek actually to tell me I was more amusing off the stage than
on--the cat! But I got even with her. I told her I was sorry I couldn't
return the compliment, for she was even less amusing on the stage than
off!"

The two dramatists joined in the laugh, and then Harry Brackett began.

"Is it your hated rival you are having fun with?" he asked. "Well, if
she comes to see you in this play to-morrow they'll have to put a
waterproof carpet into the private box, for she will weep bitter tears
of despair while she's watching you in this second act of ours."

Miss Daisy Fostelle snapped her big black eyes at him and smiled with
pleasure.

"Yes," she admitted. "I don't believe she will really enjoy that
scene--and yet she'll have to give me a hand at the end of the act."

"She'll go through the motions, perhaps," Brackett returned, "but she
won't burst a hole in her gloves." Then he slyly nudged his
collaborator.

"The fact is," began Carpenter, thus admonished, "I was just going to
tell Harry Brackett here that maybe we have made a mistake in writing
you a high-comedy part like this--"

The actress flashed a suspicious glance at him, but he went on as if
unconscious of this.

"We can see now," he continued, "that you are going to play this part so
well that you will make a great hit in it, and then the critics will all
be after you to play Lady Teazle and Rosalind. They'll tell you that
you are only wasting your talents in modern plays and that you ought to
devote yourself to the legitimate."

The suspicion faded from Miss Daisy Fostelle's face and the smile of
pleasure reappeared.

"That's so," Harry Brackett declared. "You will make such a hit in this
part, I'm afraid, that Sheridan and Shakespeare will be good enough for
you next season. Now that would be taking the bread out of our mouths!"

The actress laughed easily. "I don't think you would starve," she
returned; "and I might, maybe--if I took to the legitimate. Not that it
would be my first attempt, either, for I played Ariel in the 'Tempest'
when I was a mere child. And it wasn't easy, I can tell you. Ariel's a
real hard part, I think; there's a certain swing to the words, too, and
you can't make up a line of your own if you get stuck, as I could in
this piece of yours."

"No," Brackett confessed, solemnly, "the dialogue of 'Touch and Go' is
not as rhythmic as the dialogue of the 'Tempest.'"

"And I've played François in 'Richelieu,' too," continued Miss Fostelle.
"But I don't think I really like any of those Shakespearian parts."

"No," Brackett confessed again, with fearless gravity, "François is not
one of Shakespeare's best parts. It wasn't worthy of you, no matter how
inexperienced you were. But Rosalind, now, as Carpenter suggests, and
Beatrice--"

Carpenter here guessed from Dresser's spasmodic manner that the actor
was about to intervene in the conversation, and not knowing what might
be the result, the younger of the dramatists dropped out of the group
and managed to draw Dresser away with him.

After they had exchanged a few words Carpenter looked into the
auditorium to discover where Mary Marvin might be. He saw that she was
by the side of her mother, and that Mrs. Loraine and Sherrington were
still engaged in an earnest conversation. He made a movement as if to
leave Dresser, whereupon the comedian begged him for a moment's
interview.

"It's about that speech of mine in the third act that I want to make a
suggestion," said the actor. "It's a very good speech, too, and I think
I can get three laughs out of it, easy. You know the speech. I mean the
one about the three old maids: 'There were three old maids in our town;
one was as plain as a pikestaff, and the other was as homely as a hedge
fence, and the third was as ugly as sin; and whenever they all three
walked out together every clock in the place stopped short. Their
parents had christened them Faith and Hope and Charity; but the boys
always called them Battle and Murder and Sudden Death.' Now, don't you
think it would help to ring out the point more if the orchestra was to
play 'Grandfather's Clock' very gently just as I say that 'every clock
in the place stopped short'? What do you think? That's my own idea!"

The dramatist said nothing for a second or two, and then told the actor
to consult the stage-manager, who was just returning to begin the
rehearsal of the third act.

The new scene had been set swiftly and the furniture was already in
place. The first of the actors to enter was the cadaverous and irritable
Stark. He began glibly enough, but soon hesitated for a word, and then
broke out impatiently, regardless of the presence of the two authors:
"Oh, I can't get that line into my head! And I don't know what it means,
either! How can you expect a man to speak such rubbish?"

As before, nobody paid any attention to this petulance, and the actor
went on with his part without further comment.

Dresser then entered, and the two men proceeded to misunderstand each
other in the most elaborate fashion. The character which Stark
represented had reason to believe that the character that Dresser
represented was the uncle of the character that Daisy Fostelle
represented and was also a soldier. In like manner Dresser had reason to
believe that Stark was the lady's uncle and also a sailor. They
addressed each other, therefore, in sailor talk and in soldier talk; and
the fun waxed fast and furious. At the height of the misunderstanding
Daisy Fostelle entered unexpectedly and found herself instantly
immeshed in the humorous complication, with no possibility of plausible
explanation.

Once the stage-manager reminded Dresser that he had omitted a phrase.
"You left out 'Confound it, man!'" he said.

"I know it," the actor explained, "but I wanted to save it to use in my
next speech. It goes better there--you see if it does not."

And Sherrington decided that "Confound it, man!" was more effective in
the later speech; so the transposition was authorized, to Dresser's
satisfaction.

The stage-manager had this important scene of mutual misunderstanding
between Stark and Dresser and Daisy Fostelle repeated twice, until every
word fell glibly and every gesture seemed automatic. And so the
rehearsal went to the end, Sherrington applying the finishing touches,
and seeming at last to be fairly well satisfied with the result of his
labors.

The final lines of the comedy were, of course, to be delivered by the
star; but when the cue was given to her Miss Fostelle simply said "Tag!"
everybody being aware that it is very unlucky to speak the last speech
of a play at a rehearsal--as unlucky as it is to put up an umbrella on
the stage, or to quote from "Macbeth."

"That will do," said the stage-manager; "I think it will be all right
to-morrow night."

And with that the rehearsal concluded and the company began to
disperse.

"I hope it is all right," Harry Brackett remarked to Carpenter, "and I
think it is. But I shall have a great deal more confidence after the man
in the box-office shakes hands with me cordially, say, next Wednesday or
Thursday, and inquires about my health. He'll know by that time whether
we've got a good thing or not!"

Carpenter helped Miss Marvin to put on her light cape. Then, after her
mother had joined them, they said good-night to the others and left the
theatre together.

When they came out into the warm night the street was quieter than it
had been when Carpenter entered the theatre. There were fewer cable-cars
passing the door, and the trains on the elevated road in the avenue were
now infrequent. The lights had been turned out in front of the variety
show across the way, and evidently the grand sacred concert was over.
The moon had sunk, and before they had gone a block the bell of the
church tolled the hour of midnight.

The young man who was walking by the side of Mrs. Loraine broke the
silence at last.

"Well," he asked, "what do you think of the play now?"

"I think it is a good piece of its kind," the elder actress answered--"a
very good piece of its kind; and it is well staged; and it will be well
acted, too. Sherrington knows how to get his best work out of everybody.
Yes, it will be a success."

"Is it good for three months here now?" the young author asked, "and for
the rest of the season on the road?"

"Oh yes, indeed," replied Mrs. Loraine; "yes, indeed. It's safe for a
hundred nights here at least!"

They paused at the corner to wait for a cable-car, and Sherrington
joined them.

This gave Carpenter a chance to lead the daughter away from the mother
half a dozen steps.

"I'm so glad mother thinks the play will go," the girl began. "And
mother is a very good judge, too. You ought to make a lot out of it."

The young dramatist felt that he had his chance at last.

"I've wanted to make money mainly for one reason," he returned; "I
wanted to ask you to take half of it."

"Half of it?" she echoed, as though she did not understand.

"Oh, well--all of it," he responded, swiftly; "and me with it."

"Mr. Carpenter!" she cried, and her blushes made her look even lovelier
than before.

"Won't you marry me?" he asked, ardently.

"Oh, I suppose I've got to say yes," she answered, "or else you'll go
down on your knees here in the street!"

(1895.)



A CANDLE IN THE PLATE


Little Miss Peters had given a last look to the dinner-table with its
effective decoration of autumn leaves, and she had made sure that the
cards were in their proper places. She had glanced at herself in the
mirror of the music-room as she passed through, and she had smiled to
see the little spot of color burning in her cheek. She had taken her
place modestly behind her employer, the portly hostess, and she had seen
the guests arrive one by one. She had remarked the cheerful eagerness of
the young Irishman for whose sake the company had gathered, and she had
frankly admired his good looks. Now she was sitting silently in her seat
at the table, and she was wondering what the stranger would think of
them all.

It would not be quite fair to the worthy widow to say that Mrs. Canton's
dinners were always ponderous; but it might be admitted that, although
the cooking was ever excellent and the guests were selected from the
innermost circle of Society, the bill of fare was monotonous and the
conversation often lacked variety. That evening, however, there were
several present who had not before been honored with invitations to dine
in that exclusive mansion. Few people of fashion were back in town so
early in October, and it had not been easy for Mrs. Canton to make up
her complement of guests when she found that she had suddenly to honor a
letter of introduction Lord Mannington had given to the Honorable
Gilbert Barry, brother of Lord Punchestown. She had heard that the
handsome Irishman had been a great success at Lenox, and that all the
girls were wild about him. In Mannington's letter she was informed that
the young man went in for slumming and all that sort of thing, and that
he had been living in Toynbee Hall; she was besought, therefore, to make
him acquainted with the people in New York most interested in the
elevation of the lower classes.

This sentence of Lord Mannington's letter it was that had caused Mrs.
Canton to invite Rupert de Ruyter, the novelist, for she happened to
have read one of his stories about the wretched creatures living down in
the Italian quarter, and she was sure he would be able to tell Mr. Barry
all that the young Irishman might want to know about the slums of New
York. She had been fortunate enough to get the Jimmy Suydams, too; and
she knew that Mrs. Jimmy took such an interest in the poor, acting as
patroness so often, and all that. Then when little Miss Peters had come
in to write the invitations and to balance the check-book and to answer
the accumulated notes, Mrs. Canton, having gone over the list, looked
at the pretty young secretary for a minute without speaking, and then
said, "It won't be easy to get just the people one wants. Why shouldn't
you come, Miss Peters? You belong to one of those things, you know, what
do you call them--Working Girls' Clubs--don't you?"

"I'm a working girl myself, am I not?" Miss Peters answered. "And I
reckon I'm very glad I've gotten the work to do."

"Then you can tell him anything Mr. de Ruyter doesn't know about these
sort of people. How absurd for the younger brother of a peer to bother
himself about such things over here, isn't it?" Mrs. Canton had
returned. "Then that's settled."

Although the Southern girl had not relished the way the invitation had
been proffered, she had not declined it, glad to get a glimpse again of
the life of luxury to which she had been a stranger since she had been
earning her own living; and thus it was that she was sitting silently in
her seat at the dinner-table that evening in October, with Gilbert Barry
and Rupert de Ruyter opposite to her. She did not seem to notice how the
young Irishman glanced across the table at her more than once with
obvious admiration, or how he tried to lure her into the conversation.

It irritated Miss Peters to have Rupert de Ruyter monopolize the talk.
His rather rasping voice sawed her nerves, and she detested the way he
thrust forward his square chin. She listened while he chattered along,
not boasting exactly, yet managing to convey the impression that he knew
more than any one else. Now and again he did bring forth a picturesque
fact, for which he had the kodak eye of a reporter. He had the
happy-go-lucky facility of the newspaper man, and he rattled away with
more than one absurd misapprehension of the reality, until he reminded
her of a singer with a fine voice but unable to avoid false notes.

"I don't pretend to know New York inside-out and upsidedown," he was
saying; "but it is a most fascinating study, this polyglot city of ours,
and the more you push your investigations the more likely you are to
make surprising discoveries. You know we have an Italian quarter here?"

This was addressed, perhaps, to the British guest, but it was Mrs. Jimmy
Suydam who answered it.

"Of course we do," she said; "haven't we all read that thrilling story
you wrote about it?--the story with the startling title--_A Vision of
Black Despair_."

The author flushed with pride that so handsome a woman and so exclusive
a leader of Society should thus praise one of his writings.

Mr. Jimmy Suydam leaned over to Mrs. Canton, at whose left he was
sitting, and said, "I don't see how my wife does it, do you? She keeps
up with everything, you know--reads all the books--and all that."

"I didn't mean to remind you of that little thing of mine," continued De
Ruyter, with a self-satisfied air that made little Miss Peters feel as
though she would like to stick a pin in him. "That's neither here nor
there, though I spent two days down in the Italian quarter getting up
the local color for it. But what you didn't know, any of you, I am
certain, is that part of the soil of this city was imported from Italy."

"Really, now," commented the British guest, "that is very interesting,
indeed. It would be from a religious motive, I suppose--just as some of
the mediæval cemeteries had earth brought from the Holy Land?"

"That would be a more romantic reason, no doubt," the story-teller
explained. "But the real one is very prosaic, I fear. The Italian soil
here in New York was brought over as ballast by the ships that were
going to take back our bread-stuffs. There is lot after lot upon the
Harlem that has been filled in with this ballast--stones mostly, but
some of it is earth."

"Genoa the superb providing a foundation for imperial New York," said
the young Irishman, with a little flourish--and Miss Peters guessed that
De Ruyter made a mental note of the figure for future elaboration. "And
has New York a volcano under the city like Naples, now?--like every
great town in Europe for the matter of that. Have you a seething mass of
want and misery and discontent, such as boiled over in Paris under the
Commune? That's what I'm wanting to find out."

"We have a devil's cauldron of our own, if that's what you mean,"
responded De Ruyter; "and we have people from every corner of the globe
here now helping to keep the pot a-boiling. We have Russian Jews by the
thousand, living just as they did in the Pale. We have Chinese enough to
support a Chinese theatre. We have so many Syrians now that they are
pre-empting certain blocks for themselves. We have Irish peasants so
timid and suspicious that they won't go to the hospital when they are
almost dying, because they believe the doctors keep a Black Bottle to be
administered to troublesome patients."

"I should think they would be ever so much more comfortable in a roomy
hospital than in their stuffy little tenement-house rooms," said Mrs.
Jimmy; "and they can't get decent nursing in their own homes, can they?"

"The poor are a most unreasonable lot--and ungrateful, too," added Mr.
Suydam; "that's what I think."

"They are not so badly off in their tenement-houses as you might think,"
explained De Ruyter. "They help each other with the children when
there's sickness."

"The universal freemasonry of motherhood," commented Gilbert Barry; and
again Miss Peters suspected the story-teller of making a mental record
of the phrase.

"They are impossible to understand," De Ruyter declared.

"Why?" asked Miss Peters, suddenly, across the table, to the surprise of
everybody. The young Irishman smiled encouragingly, as though he had
been regretting that this pretty girl refused to talk.

"Why are they impossible to understand?" repeated the American
story-teller. "I don't know, I'm sure. They are conundrums, all of them,
and I am ready to give them up."

"Isn't it because you persist in approaching them as though they were
strange, wild beasts?" the young woman went on. "You speak of them just
as if they were different from us. But they are not, are they? They have
their feelings just like we have; they fall in love and they get married
and they quarrel and they die, just like we do. There is not more crime
in the tenement-houses than there is in the rest of the city--not if you
remember how many more people live in the tenement-houses. There isn't
less joy there, or less sorrow either. There is quite as much happiness,
I reckon, and a good deal more fun. They are not the lower animals; and
it just makes me mad all over when I hear them spoken of in that way.
They are human beings, after all--and if you can't understand them it's
because you're not ready to go to them as your equals."

"That's what I say," the Irishman agreed; "we must approach them on the
plane of human sympathy--that's the only way to get them to open their
hearts."

"Why should we expect them to open their hearts to us?" Miss Peters
continued. "We don't open ours to strangers, do we?"

"That's quite true," admitted Barry. "Sometimes I wonder if it isn't
impertinent we are when we thrust ourselves into a poor man's room. I
doubt we should like him to thrust himself into ours."

"I think that is a most amusing suggestion of yours," Mrs. Jimmy
declared. "I shall look forward with delight to the day when the Five
Points send missionaries up to Fifth Avenue."

"What an absurd idea!" cried Mrs. Canton, in disgust.

"Come now," the Irishman returned, "I deny that the suggestion is mine;
but it is not so absurd--really, it isn't. There's lots of things they
can teach us. I don't know but what we have more to learn from them than
they have from us--really I don't. Christianity, now--practical
Christianity--'inasmuch as ye did it to one of the least of these,' and
all that sort of thing--well, there's more of that among the poor than
there is among the rich, I'm thinking."

"If you want to pick up picturesque bits of low life in New York," broke
in De Ruyter, "you must get a chance to see a candle in the plate."

"A candle in the plate?" echoed Barry. "I've never heard of it."

"It sounds like the title of a tale of superstition transplanted from
Europe and surviving here in America," said Mrs. Jimmy.

"It's not a superstition, it's only a custom," De Ruyter explained; "and
whether it's a transplanted survival or not I can't say. You see I've
never seen the thing myself, but I've been told about it. I hear that
down in the tenement-house region, when a family can't pay the rent and
the landlord puts their scant furniture out on the sidewalk, and they
don't know where to lay their heads that night, then one of the
neighbors takes a candle and lights it and sticks it up on a plate, and
takes his stand on the sidewalk; and this is a sign to everybody that
there is a family in sore distress, and so the passers-by drop in a
penny or two until there is enough to pay the arrears of rent and let
the poor mother and children go back."

Mrs. Jimmy Suydam laughed a little bitterly. "That sort of thing may be
possible on Cherry Hill," she said, "but it would never do on Murray
Hill, would it? Just imagine how absurd a broken millionaire would look
standing at a street corner with a little electric light on a silver
salver, expecting the multi-millionaires going by to drop in a check or
two to pay his rent for him!"

"I thought I had a quaint little silhouette of metropolitan life for
you," De Ruyter responded, smiling back; "but you spoil the picture if
you guy it like that."

"Very curious it is," said Barry--"very curious, indeed. 'How far a
little candle throws its beams.' I don't think that the custom was
exported from Ireland or from England--at least, I do not recall
anything analogous."

"I've heard an old Irishwoman complain that the law was harder here on
the tenant than it was in the old country," Miss Peters asserted; and
then she appended an imitation of the old Irishwoman's speech: "'Sure,
they'd boycott the landlord there, that's what they'd do, or they'd
shoot the agent, maybe; but here ye can't--there's the police, bad cess
to 'em!'"

"Have you ever seen the candle in the plate?" Barry asked her, across
the table.

"Never," she answered.

"But you have heard of it?" De Ruyter inquired.

"Never before to-night," was her reply.

"You don't mean to say you don't believe that there is any such custom?"
Mrs. Jimmy asked. "Thus all our illusions are shattered one by one."

"Of course, I don't know," the girl responded; "I haven't been working
down there very long--only since last February. But it sounds like it
was a fake, as we used to say in the newspaper office when I was a
reporter."

Mrs. Jimmy Suydam had never met Miss Peters before, and now she examined
the girl curiously, wondering what sort of being a woman was who had
been a reporter and was now living among the poor, and who happened also
to be dining at Mrs. Canton's.

The hostess was just then explaining to Mr. Suydam in a whisper that
Miss Peters was a Southern girl of excellent family, who used to write
those "Polly Perkins" articles for the _Dial_ on Sunday, but who had
given it up last winter, and now acted as her secretary.

"A fake?" repeated the Irishman, gleefully; "that's one of your
Americanisms, isn't it? I must remember that. A fake--what does it mean
exactly?"

"It means the thing that is not," De Ruyter explained, with a trace of
acerbity in his voice. "Miss Peters disbelieves in the existence of the
candle in the plate, and she was too polite to call my story a lie, so
she said it was a fake."

"Oh, Mr. De Ruyter," was her retort, "and you used to be a newspaper man
yourself once!"

"Your newspapers, now," Barry broke in, "I confess they puzzle me. They
are so clever, you know, and so up-to-date, and all that; but you never
know what to believe in them, do you? And then they do such dreadful
things."

"I fear you will find few Americans prepared to defend our newspapers,"
said the story-teller, always a little ashamed that he had once been a
reporter. "But what sort of a dreadful thing have you in mind just now?"

"Things quite inconceivable, you know," the Irishman explained; "a thing
like this, for example. A year or two ago a man gave me a copy of one of
your New York papers--the _Dial_, I think it was. I read it with great
interest, as one would the writing of some strange tribe of savages,
don't you know? It was so very extraordinary."

As the guest made this plain statement, little Miss Peters happened to
catch the eye of the handsome Mrs. Jimmy Suydam, and they exchanged an
imperceptible smile.

"What shocked me the most," Barry continued, "was a long article from
some special commissioner, with headings in huge letters--"

"Scare-heads they call them," explained De Ruyter.

"Scare-heads?" repeated the Irishman. "That's the very name for them.
Scare-heads--delicious! This article, then, had scare-heads galore, and
it described how a suicide had been identified. It seems some poor girl
of the working-class had got into trouble, and sooner than bring
disgrace on her family she had jumped into the river here--Hudson's
River, isn't it? She had carefully arranged so that there was no clew
by which she could be traced. But she had not counted on the devilish
ingenuity of the special commissioner, a woman, too--at least I suppose
it was a woman, since the thing was signed 'Polly Perkins.'"

Mrs. Jimmy saw the blood rise in the cheeks of Miss Peters, until the
little Southern girl was as red as any of the maple-leaves that decked
the cloth between the two women. She noticed that Rupert De Ruyter was
staring into his plate with ill-concealed embarrassment, and that Mrs.
Canton seemed a little uneasy.

"It seems that the poor creature's body was sent to the Morgue," Barry
continued, "and no one claimed it, so it was buried at the cost of the
county. And there's where the diabolical cunning of this reporter was
exercised. She guessed that the girl's family would want to see the body
laid away in holy ground, and so she went to the burying. And she hit
it, for there were two women there in deep black, the mother of the poor
wretch and the sister, not afraid to show their bitter grief when they
thought they were unknown and unwatched. The spy tracked them to their
house and she found out their names, and she put the whole story in the
paper! I suppose it broke the mother's heart, and the sister's, to see
the dead girl's shame brought home to her and to them when they thought
it was buried in the grave with her body. I don't deny that the female
detective showed a deal of skill; but what a pitiful thing! To risk
breaking two loving hearts--and for what purpose?"

There was a moment's silence when the Irishman asked this unanswerable
question. Then Miss Peters raised her head and looked him in the eye.

"That was what is called a 'beat.' No other paper had the news," she
said; "and the reporter who wrote that story got a raise of five dollars
a week."

"Faith, she deserved it," Barry returned. "It was blood-money she was
taking, I'm thinking."

"That's what I think now," Miss Peters replied. "I wish I had thought so
then. I wrote that article, and that is one reason why I am living down
there among the poor, to try and make it up to them. Of course, I can't
undo the wrong I did; but I mean to do my best."

Then there was another silence, broken by Mrs. Jimmy, who turned to Mrs.
Canton and asked if she was going to take a box at the horse-show.

When the ladies left the dining-room Barry took the chair by the side of
Suydam.

"What's the name of that pretty little girl?" he asked. "Peters, isn't
it? I say, it was awfully plucky of her to tell us that she was 'Polly
Perkins,' wasn't it, now? I like her; she's a trump! And that fair hair
of hers is very fetching, isn't it?"

(1897.)



MEN AND WOMEN AND HORSES


Merrymount Morton walked briskly down Madison Avenue that warm November
evening, when there was never a foretaste of winter in the intermittent
breezes that blew gently across the city from river to river; and as he
crossed the side streets one after another he saw the full moon in the
east, low and large and mellow. On the brow of Murray Hill he checked
his pace for a moment in frank enjoyment of the vista before him,
differing in so many ways from the scenes which met his vision in the
little college town of New England where he earned his living, and where
he had spent the most of his life. The glow of the great town filled the
air, and the roar of the city arose all about him. It seemed to him
almost as though he could feel the heart of the metropolis throbbing
before him. He caught himself wondering again whether he had not erred
in accepting the professorship he had been so glad to get when he came
back from Germany, and whether his life would not have been fuller and
far richer had he come to New York, as once he thought of doing, and had
he resolutely struck out for himself in the welter and chaos of the
commercial capital of the country.

Down at the foot of the slope a cluster of electric lights spelled out
the name of a trivial extravaganza then nearing its hundredth
performance in the lovely Garden Theatre, and the avenue hereabouts had
a strange, unnatural brilliance. High up in the pure dark blue the
beautiful tower rose in air, its grace made visible by many lights of
its own. The avenue was clogged with carriages, and the arcade before
the theatre and under the tower was thick with men who carried under
their arms folded card-board plans of the great amphitheatre, and who
vociferously proffered tickets for the horse-show. So far remote from
the current of fashion was Merrymount Morton that he had not been aware
that the horse-show week was about to come to a glorious end. But he was
familiar enough with New York to know that the horse-show was also an
exhibition of men and women, and that the human entries were quite as
important as the equine, and rather more interesting. He had never
happened to be in the city at this season of the year; and although he
had intended to spend the evening at the College Club, he seized the
occasion to see a metropolitan spectacle which chanced to be novel to
him.

From one of the shouting and insistent venders he bought a ticket, and
he walked through the broad entrance-hall, the floor of which slanted
upwards. He passed the door of a restaurant on his right, and he
glanced down a staircase which led to the semi-subterranean stalls where
the horses were tethered. A pungent, acrid, stable odor filled his
nostrils. Then he found himself inside the immense amphitheatre, under
the skeleton ribs of its roof picked out with long lines of tiny
electric bulbs. Morton had a first impression of glittering hugeness,
and a second of restless bustle. From a gallery behind him there came
the blare and crash of a brass band playing an Oriental march; but even
this did not drown the buzz and murmur of many thousand voices. The vast
building seemed to Morton to be filled with men and women, all of them
talking and many of them in motion. He found himself swept along slowly
in the dense crowd that circled steadily around the high fence which
guarded the arena wherein the horses were exhibited. This crowd was too
compact for him to approach the railing, and he could not discover for
himself whether or not anything was to be seen.

A thin line of more or less horsy fellows fringed the fence, and seemed
to be interested in what was going on. The most of the men and women who
filled the broad promenade between the railing and the long tier of
private boxes paid little or no attention to the arena; they gave
themselves up to staring at the very gayly dressed ladies in the boxes.
It struck the New England college professor that the most of those
present made no pretence of caring for the horses, as though horses
could be seen any day; while they frankly devoted themselves to gazing
at the people of fashion penned side by side in the boxes, and not often
placing themselves so plainly on exhibition. Some of those who were
playing their parts on this narrow and elevated stage had the
self-consciousness of the amateur, and some had the ease that comes of
long practice. These latter looked as though they were accustomed to be
stared at, as though they expected it of right, as though they were
there on purpose to be seen. They seemed to know one another; and it
struck Morton that they were apparently all members of a secret
fraternity of fashion, with their own signs and passwords and their own
system of private grips; and they wholly ignored the people who had not
been initiated and who were not members of their society. They nodded
and smiled brightly to belated arrivals of their own set. They kept up a
continual chatter among themselves, the women leaning across to talk to
acquaintances in the adjoining compartments, and the men paying visits
to the boxes of their friends. Now and again some one in a box would
recognize some one in the circling throng below; but for the most part
there was no communication between the two classes.

[Illustration: EXPLANATIONS]

To Morton the spectacle had the attraction of novelty; it was so novel,
indeed, that he did not quite know what to make of it. It
disconcerted him not a little to see people, of position presumably, and
obviously of wealth, willing thus to show themselves off, dressed, many
of them, as though with special intent to attract attention. As a
student of sociology, he found this inspection of Society--in the
narrowest sense of the word--almost as instructive as it was
interesting. At times the vulgarity of the whole thing shocked him, more
especially once when he could not but hear the loud voices of one
over-dressed group of women, who were discussing the characteristics of
one "Willie."

"He's a wretched little beast!" cried one of these ladies.

"You mustn't say that," rejoined another, a tall woman with gray hair;
"you know he's my corespondent." And at this stroke of wit the rest of
the party laughed repeatedly.

But few of those on exhibition were as common as the members of this
group. Indeed, Morton was struck with the fact that the most of the men
and women who were being stared out of countenance were apparently
people of breeding, and he wondered that they were willing to place
themselves in what seemed to him so false a position. Many of the girls,
for example, who wore striking costumes and extravagant hats, were
themselves refined in face and retiring in bearing; they were stylish,
no doubt, but they were well bred also. It seemed to Morton that style
was perhaps the chief characteristic of these New York girls--style
rather than beauty.

The average of good looks was high, and yet, as it happened, he was able
to walk half around the huge building without seeing half a dozen women
whom he was prepared to declare handsome. The girls appeared to be
strong, healthy, lively, quick-witted, and charming, but rarely
beautiful. They seemed to him, moreover, to be emphatically superior to
the men who accompanied them, superior not only in looks, but in manners
and intelligence.

Morton noted, to his surprise, that some of these men were quite as
conscious of their clothes as any of the women were; and he caught also
more than one remark showing that the appreciation of the women's
clothes was not confined to the women themselves.

As he was nearing the Fourth Avenue end of the edifice he saw in a box
just above him--for he found himself staring like the rest--a lady of
striking beauty, with a look of sadness on her face, that gave place to
a factitious smile when she spoke to one or another of the three or four
young men who stood on the steps at the side of her chair. The face
interested Morton, and it was recognized by two young men just behind
him.

"Hello!" said one of them, "there's Mrs. Cyrus Poole. Smart gown, hasn't
she?"

"Always has," answered the other. "Best-groomed woman in New York."

"She is pretty well turned out generally, for a fact," the first speaker
responded. "But Cyrus Poole's made money enough out of the widow and the
orphan this summer to pay for all the gowns his wife can wear this
winter, at any rate."

It was only when Merrymount Morton had threaded his way half around the
horse-show that he first saw a horse there. As he came to the Fourth
Avenue end the crowd before him fell away, and a gate in the railing
swung back across the promenade, while grooms led out of the arena five
or six beautiful stallions. The New England college professor had a
healthy liking for a fine horse, and his eyes followed these superb
creatures till they were out of sight. Then in the clear space at the
far end of the building he saw three coaches, one of them already
equipped with its four-in-hand, while the horses were being harnessed to
the others.

He stood there for a minute or two looking at them with interest. Then
he turned his back, and once more began circling about the arena in the
thick of the crowd, with no chance of seeing a horse again until he
could get to the seat to which his ticket entitled him. He took out the
bit of pasteboard and examined it again, and he saw that his place was
very near the entrance, only he had gone to the right when he came in
instead of to the left. By this time the men and women on exhibition in
the boxes had begun to lose the attraction of novelty; and Morton
walked on as swiftly as he could make his way through the crowd,
wishing to get his seat in time to see the competition of the coaches.

He had come almost to the foot of the little flight of steps by which he
could reach his seat when he happened to look up, and he caught sight of
a familiar face. In a box only a score of feet before him there sat a
lady about whose high-bred beauty there could hardly be two opinions.
She was probably nearly thirty years old, but she looked fresher than
either of the girls by her side. She wore a costume combining studied
simplicity and marked individuality; and yet no one who saw her took
thought of her attire, for her beauty subdued all things, and made any
adornment she might adopt seem as though it were necessary and
inevitable.

There was a suggestion of stiffness in her carriage, and perhaps a hint
of haughtiness; but when she smiled she was as charming as she was
handsome.

As his eyes first fell upon her Morton's heart gave a sudden thump, and
then beat swiftly for a minute or two. Although he had not seen her for
nearly ten years, he recognized her instantly. She had changed but
little since they had met for the last time. He would have known her
anywhere and at once.

And if he had been in any doubt as to her identity, it would have been
dispelled by the conversation of the two young men who had been walking
around the arena just behind him.

"Devilish pretty Mrs. Jimmy Suydam looks to-night, doesn't she?" asked
one of them.

"She's had a good summer's rest," the other answered. "She was at St.
Moritz with her mother while Jimmy was off with Lord Stanyhurst."

"Drove from Paris to Vienna, didn't he?" the first speaker queried. "I'd
rather do it in a sleeper--wouldn't you?"

"I don't know," the second responded. "It's very swagger to drive your
own coach all over Europe with a man like Stanyhurst, who knows
everybody. I guess Jimmy thought it was cheap at the price. Besides,
_Punch_ called him the 'Wandering Jehu,' and they thought that was a
great joke over there."

"The joke was at Jimmy's expense, of course," was the next remark. "They
say Lord Stanyhurst never pays a bill himself when he can get an
American to do it."

"Well, Jimmy made by the bargain," the other rejoined, "and he can
afford it. Old man Suydam left a good business, and Jimmy knows enough
to let it alone."

There had been a congestion of the crowd in front of Morton, but now
there was a path opened before him. He drew back and let the two young
men pass. He could not look away from the beautiful woman in the box
before him. He wondered if he had courage to go up and speak to her. He
remembered her so sharply, he recognized every turn of her head and
every dainty gesture of her hands, he recalled so distinctly every word
of their conversation the last time they met that it did not seem
possible to him that she might have forgotten him. And yet it was not
impossible. Why should she remember what he could not forget?

While he was hesitating, the party in her box broke up. One of the young
ladies who were sitting with her arose and came down the steps, escorted
by two young men, and as they passed Morton he caught from their
conversation that they were going to the stables below to see a certain
famous horse in his stall. The other young lady had changed her seat to
the back of the box, where she was deep in conversation with a young man
who had taken the chair beside hers. Mrs. Suydam was left alone in the
front of the box.

She sat there apparently not bored with her own society, and obviously
indifferent to the frank staring of the men and women who passed along
the promenade a few feet below her. She sat there calm in her cold
beauty, unmoved and uninterested, almost as though her thoughts were far
away.

Morton made up his mind, and pressed forward again.

When he was within a yard or two of the steps leading to her box she
happened to glance down, and she caught his eye fixed upon hers. She was
about to glance away, when she looked again, and then a smile of
recognition lighted her face, followed by the faintest of blushes.

She bowed as Morton raised his hat, and she held out her hand cordially
when he climbed the steps to her box.

"I hardly dared to hope that you would remember me, Mrs. Suydam," he
said, as he shook hands gently. "It is so long since I saw you last."

"How could you think I should ever forget the pleasant month I spent in
your mother's house?" she returned. "We do not have so many pleasant
months in life, do we, that we can afford to let any one of them slip
out of memory? You haven't forgotten me, have you? Well, then, why
should I forget you and your mother and the lovely little college town?"

"That month I can't forget," he responded; "but it was a long while ago,
and my existence is uneventful always, while yours is full--and then so
many things have happened since."

"Yes," she admitted, "so many things have happened. I'm married, for one
thing. But that hasn't made me forget how kind you all were to me. Can't
you sit down here for a few minutes and give me all the news of the
college and the town?"

"I shall be only too glad," he said, taking the chair by her side.
"Where shall I begin?"

"Tell me about yourself," she commanded.

"That won't take me long," he returned. "Very little has happened to me.
I was going to Germany--perhaps you remember--that fall, after you left
us. Well, I went, and I stayed two years, and I took my Ph.D. there, and
I came back to the old college, and they gave me a professorship--and
that's all."

"That's enough, I think," she answered, looking at him frankly with her
dark eyes. "You have your work to do, and you do it. I don't believe
there is anything better in life than to be sure what you ought to work
at and to be able to work at it."

"I suppose you are right," Morton acknowledged. "I find hard labor is
often the best fun, after all. But I can get solid enjoyment out of
loafing, too. I don't recall that we worked very steadily that month
that you were with us, and we certainly had a very good time. At least I
did!"

"And so did I," she declared, unbending a little, and with a laugh of
pleasant recollection. "I enjoyed every minute of my visit. I wish I
could have such good times now!"

"Don't you?" he asked.

"Not often," she answered. "Perhaps never."

"You surprise me," he replied. "I supposed you were being entertained by
day and by night, week in and week out, from one year's end to
another."

"So we are," she explained. "But being entertained isn't always being
interested, is it?"

"That's the theory, isn't it?" he rejoined.

"It may be the theory," she confessed, "but I'm sure it isn't the
practice."

"I know that little college town of ours is remote from the path of
progress," he went on, "but sometimes we behold those messengers of
civilization, the New York Sunday newspapers. And whenever I do get one
I am certain to see that you have been to a dinner-dance here, to a _bal
poudré_ there. I should judge that you lived in an endless
merry-go-round of gayety."

She smiled again, and there was no sadness in her smile, only a vague,
detached weariness. "Dinner-dances are the fashion just now," she said;
"and if there is anything more absurd than the fashion it's to waste
one's strength struggling against it."

"That is very end-of-the-century philosophy," he commented.

"It's philosophical not to want to be left out of things, isn't it?" she
inquired. "Even if one doesn't care to go, one doesn't like not to be
asked, and so one goes often when one would rather stay at home."

"I should think that if many people had motives like that, your parties
here in New York might be rather dull," he retorted, with a little
laugh.

"They are dull," she returned, calmly. "Sometimes they are very dull.
But, of course, it doesn't do not to go."

"I suppose not," he agreed.

"But I find myself wondering sometimes," she continued, "where all the
dull people in society were dug up. Sometimes after a long month of
dinners I get desperate and almost wish I could renounce the world. Why,
at the end of last winter I told my husband that we had not spent a
single evening home since we got back from Florida, and we hadn't had a
single pleasant evening, not one. He didn't think it was as bad as that,
and perhaps it wasn't for him either, for I don't believe the women are
as stupid as the men. Of course now and then there was a dinner I
thought I should enjoy, but I never did. I'd see the clever man I'd have
liked to talk to; I'd see him far down at the other end of the table,
and that was all I did see of him. Some dreary old man would take me in,
and then after dinner I'd have perhaps two or three little boys come up
and try to pay compliments, and succeed in keeping away the men who
might possibly have had something to say."

"And yet yours is the set that so many people seem to be trying so hard
to enter," he suggested; "that is, if I understand aright what I read in
New York novels."

"Yes," she answered, "I suppose that's the chief satisfaction we
have--we know we are envied by the people who want to visit us, and to
have us visit them. I suppose the desire to get into Society fills the
emptiness in many a woman's life; it gives her something to live for."

"They don't seem to have much of the stern joy that foemen feel," Morton
commented. "They take life desperately hard. Over there in the other
corner I saw a handsome woman, and I overheard a man call her by
name--she's the wife of Cyrus Poole, the Wall Street operator. And when
I saw the unsatisfied aspiration in her face, I wondered whether she was
one of those social strugglers I had read about."

"Mrs. Poole?" echoed Mrs. Suydam, indifferently. "I don't know her: I've
met her, of course--one meets everybody--but I don't know her. She is
good-looking, and she is in the thick of the social struggle. Upward and
outward is her motto--Excelsior! They used to say that all last winter
you could positively hear her climb. But then they have said that of so
many people! She is clever, they say, and she entertains lavishly, so I
shouldn't wonder if she succeeded sooner or later; and then she will be
so disappointed."

Morton smiled. "From your account," he said, "the social struggle is
rather a tragedy than a comedy; and I confess it has hitherto struck me
as not without a suggestion of farce."

"It is absurd, isn't it?" she returned, smiling back. "And are we not a
very snobbish lot? Jimmy declares that society in New York is almost as
snobbish as it is in London even."

There was a moment of silence, and then Morton asked, a little stiffly,
"How is Mr. Suydam? You know I have never had the pleasure of meeting
him."

"Haven't you?" Mrs. Suydam responded. "You can see him soon. He's to
drive George Western's coach. There they come now!"

A trumpet sounded; a gate in the railing at the Fourth Avenue end of the
building was opened; and a coach was driven into the arena. A very stout
man sat on the box alone.

Mrs. Suydam raised her long-handled eye-glass and looked at the
approaching coachman.

"Oh, that's not Jimmy," she said, quickly; "of course not. That's the
man they call The Adipose Deposit."

The trumpet sounded again, and a second coach was turned into the arena.
The four horses were beautifully matched bays. The driver was a tall,
thin, youngish man, who sat impassible on the box, and gave no sign of
annoyance when a wheel of the vehicle rasped the gate-post.

"That's Mr. Suydam," said the lady to whom Morton was talking, as the
bays trotted briskly past them, the man on the box holding himself
rigidly and handling the ribbons skilfully.

"He is quite a professional," Morton remarked.

"Isn't he?" Mrs. Suydam replied. "You know he drove the Brighton coach
out of London for three years. He really does it very well, they all
say. I've told him that if we ever lost our money he would make a very
superior coachman."

"Those bays go together admirably," the college professor declared, "and
Mr. Suydam handles them superbly. But how pitiful it is to see their
tails docked!"

"Oh, they do that in England," she explained, "so it's fashionable. But
it is ugly, isn't it? Do you remember what a lovely long tail that
Kentucky mare had, the one I rode that day--"

Then Mrs. Suydam paused suddenly.

"Yes," answered Morton, not looking at her, "I remember it."

Mrs. Suydam conquered her slight embarrassment and gave a light little
laugh.

"How rude I have been!" she said. "Here I've been talking about myself
and about my husband, and I haven't asked about you. Are you married
yet?"

"No," he answered, and now he looked at her, and she blushed again; "and
I am not likely ever to marry, I think. There was only one woman in the
world for me, and I told her so, but she didn't care for me at all, and
she told me so--and then she touched up that Kentucky mare and rode away
with my heart hanging at her saddle-bow."

"You can find a better woman than she is," was her response; "a woman
who will make you a better wife than she would ever have done."

Before Morton could reply to this, the girl and the two young men who
had been in the box at first returned from their visit to the stables.
The trumpet sounded again, and the judges made the drivers of the four
coaches--for two more had entered after Mr. Suydam's--repeat their
evolutions around the arena. And then, after protracted consultation
together, the awards were made, and grooms ran to attach rosettes to the
leaders of the team driven by the stout gentleman, who took the first
prize, and then to the leaders of the team driven by Suydam, who took
the second prize. The numbers of the winning coaches were displayed on
the wide sign-boards at each end of the hall. The coaches were driven
around again, and then out. The trumpets were silent for a while; and
the brass band crashed forth again.

"Jimmy won't like not getting the first prize, will he?" asked the girl
who had just returned to the box.

"I don't think it will worry him," answered his wife, with a return of
her haughty manner.

She had not introduced Morton to any of the others in the box.

In the presence of so many it was impossible to resume their
conversation on the old friendly basis. It seemed to Morton that since
the girl and the young men had come back there was a difference in Mrs.
Suydam's manner towards him; he could not define it to himself, but he
felt it. Perhaps she was conscious of this herself.

When he made a movement preparatory to going, she said: "Must you go? I
wanted you to meet my husband. Can't you drop in and lunch with us
to-morrow?"

Morton thanked her and regretted that he might have to take a midnight
train, and expressed his pleasure at having met her again. Then she held
out her hand once more; and a minute later he was again in the thick of
the throng circling along the promenade.

Before he reached the entrance the music was checked suddenly and the
trumpet blared out, and then the voice of a man in the centre of the
building was heard, intermittently, hopelessly endeavoring to inform the
thousands packed in the splendid edifice that the fastest trotter in the
world would now be shown. The crowd which was staring steadily at the
men and women in the boxes paid little attention to this proclamation;
to it the men and women in the boxes were far more interesting than any
horses could be, even if any one of these could trot a mile in two
minutes without a running mate.

(1895.)



IN THE WATCHES OF THE NIGHT


It was still snowing solidly as the carriage swung out of the side
street and went heavily on its way up the avenue; the large flakes soon
thickened again upon the huge fur collars of the two men who sat on the
box bolt-upright; the flat crystals frosted the windows of the landau so
that the trained nurse could see out only on one side. She sat back in
the luxurious vehicle. She had on the seat beside her the bag containing
her change of raiment; and she wondered, as she always did when she was
called unexpectedly to take charge of an unknown case, what manner of
house it might be that she was going to enter, and what kind of people
she would be forced to associate with in the swift intimacy of the
sick-room and for an unknown period. That the patient was wealthy and
willing to spend his wealth was obvious--the carriage, the horses, the
liveried servants, were evidence enough of this. That his name was Swank
she also knew; and she thought that perhaps she had heard about the
marriage of a rich old man named Swank to a pretty young wife a year or
two ago. That he had been taken sick suddenly, and that the case might
be serious, she had gathered from the note which the doctor had sent to
summon her, and which had been brought by the carriage that was now
returning with her.

She had ample time for speculation as they drove up the avenue in the
early darkness of the last day of the year. The Christmas wreaths still
decked the windows of the hotels, although through the steady snow she
could see little more than a blur of reddish-yellow light as she sped
past. There were few people in the avenue, except as they crossed the
broader side streets, now beginning to be filled with the throng of
workers returning home after the day's labor. They passed St. Patrick's
Cathedral, already encrusted with snow whiter than its stone. They came
to Central Park, and they kept on, with its broad meadows on their left
gray in the descending darkness. At last the carriage drew up before a
house on a corner--a very large house it seemed to the trained nurse;
and its marble front struck her as cold, not to call it gloomy. Workmen
were hastily erecting the frame of an awning down the marble steps, and
a path had been made across the snowy sidewalk.

The footman carried her bag up the stoop and rang the bell for her.

The door was opened promptly by a very British butler.

"This is the nurse for Mr. Swank," said the footman. "Is he any
better?"

"'E's about the same, I'm thinkin'," the butler responded. "This way,
please," he said to the owner of the bag, which the footman deposited
just inside the door. "I'll take you up to Mr. Swank's room, and I'll
send your bag up to you afterwards."

The trained nurse followed the butler up the massive wooden stairs,
heavy with dark carving. She noticed that the house was now dimly
lighted, and that there was a going and a coming of servants, as though
in preparation for an entertainment of some sort.

"We 'ave a dinner on this evening," the butler explained; "only
twenty-four; but it's 'ard Mr. Swank ain't goin' to be able to come
down. We're keepin' the 'ouse dark now, so it won't get too 'ot at
dinner-time."

Whatever the reason for the absence of adequate illumination, it made
the upper hall even more dismal than the one below--so the trained nurse
thought.

"That's Mr. Swank's room there; and 'ere's 'is dressin'-room, that
you're to 'ave--so the doctor said," the butler declared, leading the
stranger into a small room with a lofty ceiling, and with one window
overlooking Central Park. The shades had not been drawn; the single
gas-jet was burning dimly; there was no fireplace; and a sofa on one
side had had sheets and blankets put on it to serve as her bed.

She almost shivered, the place seemed to her so cheerless. But her
training taught her not to think of her own comfort.

"This will do very well," she asserted.

"I'll tell them to fetch up your bag," the butler said, as he was about
to withdraw. "Would you be wantin' any dinner later?"

"Yes," she answered, "I would like something to eat later--whenever it
is convenient."

The butler left the room, only to reappear almost immediately.

"'Ere's the doctor now," he announced, holding the door open.

A tall, handsome man, with a masterful mouth, walked in with a soft,
firm tread.

"So this is the nurse," he began. "Miss Clement, isn't it? I'm glad you
were able to follow my note so quickly. If you will come into the next
room, where the patient is, as soon as you have changed your dress, I'll
tell you what I wish you to do."

With that he left her; and in less than ten minutes she followed him
into the large bedroom on the corner of the house. It was an unusually
spacious room, with a high ceiling and four tall windows.

There was a dull-red fire, which seemed insufficient to warm even the
elaborate marble mantel. Almost in one corner stood a large bed, with
thick curtains draped back from a canopy.

The doctor was sitting by the side of the bed as the nurse came into the
room.

[Illustration: "SHE ALMOST SHIVERED, THE PLACE SEEMED TO HER SO
CHEERLESS"]

"This is Miss Clement, Mr. Swank," he said, in a cheerful voice, to the
old man, who lay in the bed motionless. "She will look after you during
the night."

Mr. Swank made no answer, but he opened his eyes and looked at the woman
who had come to nurse him. She used to say afterwards that she had never
felt before so penetrating a gaze.

The doctor turned to her, and in the same professionally cheery tones he
said: "I sent for you, nurse, because Mrs. Swank has an important dinner
to-night, and it might therefore be difficult for her to give Mr. Swank
the attention he may require."

The physician was addressing the nurse, but it seemed to her that his
words were really intended for the patient, whose eyes were still fixed
on her.

All at once the sick man sat up in bed and began to cough violently.
When the paroxysm had passed he sank back on the pillow again and closed
his eyes wearily.

"I think that was not as severe as the last one," the doctor remarked;
"I can leave you in Miss Clement's hands now. Perhaps, if I happen to be
up this way about midnight, I may drop in again just to see that you are
getting on all right. In the mean time, nurse, you will see that he
takes these capsules every two hours--he had the last at half-past five.
And you will take his temperature every hour if he is awake."

He said good-night to Mr. Swank in the same cheering tone, and then he
went to the door. The nurse knew that she was to follow him.

When they stood alone in the hall, the doctor said to her: "If there is
any change in the pulse or the temperature, send for me at once. Ring
for the butler, and tell him I am to be sent for; he will know what to
do. Mr. Swank has influenza only, but his heart is weak, and he needs
careful attention. I shall be here again the last thing to-night."

When the nurse returned to the corner room the patient had fallen into a
heavy doze, and she took advantage of this to prepare for the long
vigil. She arranged her own belongings ready to her hand in the
dressing-room set aside for her use. In that room she did not lower the
shade, and she even stood at the window for a minute, trying to look out
over Central Park, hidden from her by a swaying veil of swirling snow.
The workmen had completed the canvas tunnel down the stoop to the edge
of the sidewalk, and the lanterns hung inside the frame-work revealed
grotesquely its striped contortions. As the nurse gazed down on it an
old man without any overcoat sought a temporary shelter from the storm
in the mouth of the awning, only to be ordered away almost immediately
by the servant in charge.

The nurse went back into the larger room. She looked at her patient
asleep in the warm bed. She wondered why life was so unequal; why the
one man should spend the night in the snowy street, while the other had
all that money could buy--shelter, warmth, food, attendance. She
recalled how her father used to declare that the inequalities we see all
around us are superficial only, and that there are compensations, did we
but know them, for all deprivations, and that all apparent advantages
are to be paid for, somehow, sooner or later. More than ever to-night
she doubted the wisdom of her father's saying. How could there be
anything but inequality between the old man in the street there below
and the old man here in the bed? The thing seemed to her impossible.

As she became accustomed to the dim light of the room she was able to
note that the furniture was heavy and black, that the carpet was
unusually thick, that the walls had large paintings hanging on them,
that the ceiling was frescoed in sombre tints. On all sides of her she
saw the evidences of wealth and of the willingness to spend it; and yet
the room and the house seemed to her strangely uninviting, and almost
repellent. She asked herself why the sick man lying there asleep in the
huge bed had not used his money to better advantage, and had not at
least made cheerful his own sick-room. Then she smiled at her own
foolishness. Of course the owner of the room had not expected to be
stricken down; of course he had no thought of illness when he had
furnished.

She moved gently about the room and tried to look at the pictures, but
the illumination was insufficient. All that she could make out clearly
were the names of the artists carved on tiny tablets attached to the
broad frames; and although she knew little about painting, she had read
the newspapers enough to be aware that pictures by these artists must
have cost a great deal of money--thousands of dollars each, very likely.
If she had thousands to spend, she believed that she could lay them out
to better advantage than the owner of the house had done here. It struck
her again as though the sick man had more than his share of the good
things of life. She had not yet heard him speak, and she had not really
had a good look at him; but she could not help thinking that a man who
had so much, who had the means of doing so much, who was absolutely his
own master, and who could spend a large fortune just as he pleased--she
could not help thinking that he ought to be happy. It was true that he
was ill now, but the influenza wears itself out at last; and when he was
well he had so much money that he must be happier than other men--far
happier than poor men, certainly.

When she came to this conclusion she was standing near the foot of the
bed, looking at the man lying there asleep. It was on the stroke of
half-past seven, and she had come to let him have his medicine again.
Then she noticed that his eyelids were parted, and that he was looking
at her.

"It is time to take one of these capsules now," she said, gently moving
to his side and offering it to him.

He took it without a word, and gulped it down with a swallow of water.
Then he sank back on the pillow, only to raise himself at once, as he
was again shaken by a severe fit of coughing.

At last he lay back on the bed once more, still breathing heavily.

A fresh, young voice was heard at the door leading to the hall, saying,
"May I come in, John?" and then a graceful young figure floated into the
room with a birdlike motion.

The sick man opened his eyes wide as his wife came near him, and a smile
illumined his face.

"How beautiful you are!" he said, faintly, but proudly.

"Am I?" she answered, laughing a little. "I _tried_ to be to-night,
because there will be the smartest women in New York at Mrs. Jimmy
Suydam's dance, and I wanted to be as good as any of them."

The nurse had withdrawn towards the window as the wife came forward, and
she did not believe that any woman at Mrs. Jimmy Suydam's, wherever that
might be, could well look more beautiful than the one who now stood
smiling by the side of the sick husband.

She was a blonde, this young wife of an old man, a mere girl, and the
vaporous blue dress was cut low on a slender neck girt about by a single
strand of large pearls, while a diamond tiara high on her shapely head
flashed light into every corner of the darkened sick-room.

"I thought I'd just run in and see how you were before anybody came,"
she said, lightly. "Dinner is at quarter to eight, you know. I do _wish_
you could be down. We shall miss you _dreadfully_. Of course I sent out
at the last minute and got a man to fill your place, so we shall sit
down with twenty-four all right; but then--"

Here she broke off, having caught sight of the third person in the room.

"So this is the nurse Dr. Cheever sent for?" she went on. "I'm sure
she'll take good care of you, John--the doctor is always so careful. And
if you hadn't had somebody with you I shouldn't have liked to leave you
all alone--really I shouldn't!"

With that she circled about the bed again, turning towards the door.

"I must be off now," she explained. "I can't be _wasting_ my time on you
in this way. I really ought to be down in the drawing-room _now_; and
first, I've got to see if the flowers are all right on the table."

Her husband's eyes had followed her wistfully about the room, watching
every one of her easy and graceful movements; and when at last she
slipped out of the door, it was a moment before he turned an inquiring
glance on the nurse, as though to discover what she thought of the
brilliant vision.

The nurse came to the side of the bed with her clinical thermometer in
her hand.

"You are awake now," she said, with a pleasant smile. "May I take your
temperature?"

Five minutes later, when she was entering in her note-book the high
degree shown by the thermometer, and when the patient had again dropped
off to sleep, the first guests began to arrive for the wife's dinner
party.

The thick snow made the wheels inaudible, but the nurse heard the doors
of the carriages slam as those who had been invited passed through the
canvas tunnel one after another. In the room next to the dressing-room
assigned to her for her own use there was a rustling of silken stuffs,
and there were fragments of conversation now and again so loudly pitched
as to reach the ear of the young woman who sat silent in the
sick-chamber. Then, when all the guests were come, the house sank again
into silence, and a tall clock in a corner of the stairs chimed forth
the hour of eight.

So long as her patient slept the nurse had little or nothing to do; but
though her body was motionless, her thoughts were busy. She was
country-bred herself; she had left her home in a little New England
village by the sea to make her way in the world. She had now been a
trained nurse for nearly two years; and yet, as it happened, her work
had been either in hotels or in families of only moderate means. This
was the first time she had been in so handsome a house or with people of
so much wealth. She could not help being conscious of her surroundings,
and she caught herself wishing that she too were rich. She confessed
that she would like to be a guest at the dinner below. She wondered what
a dinner-table for twenty-four must be. To be able to entertain as
lavishly as that, and not to have to worry about the arrangement, or the
cost, or anything--well, that would be an existence any woman must
delight in. She felt herself capable of expanding, and of being equal to
the enjoyment of any degree of luxury. She liked her occupation, for she
had chosen her own calling. She had been successful in it too; and yet
she was beginning to be a little afraid that she had miscalculated her
strength. The work was very laborious and confining, and more than once
of late she had felt overtaxed. It might be that in a year or two her
reserve force would be exhausted, and she would have to give up the
struggle and go back home, where she would be welcome, of course, but
where she would add to the burdens her mother was already laden with.

There was an alternative, and never before had it seemed to her so
tempting as when she was sitting there alone with the sick man in the
darkened corner room of his great house. She might marry. More than
once she had been asked in marriage; and one man had asked her more than
once. He was persistent, and he still declined to accept her refusal as
final. He was not an old man yet, although he was twice her age. He was
a rich man, even if he was not as wealthy as the owner of the splendid
but depressing home where she now sat silently musing. She did not love
him, that was true, and there was no doubt about it; but she did respect
him, and she had heard that sometimes love comes after marriage. He
could let her have all she longed for, and he was ready to give her
everything he had. If she married him she too could have dinners of
twenty-four, and wear a rope of pearls and a diamond tiara; and then,
too, she could do so much good with money if she had it.

In the course of her services in the hospital, and afterwards among the
poor, she had seen many a case of sore distress which she had been
unable to relieve. If she had riches she could accomplish much that was
now impossible; she could do good in many ways; she could relieve
suffering and aid the impoverished and help the feeble far more adroitly
and skilfully than could any woman who had always been wealthy, and who
had not had her experience of life and of its misfortunes and its
miseries. She thought that she knew her own character, and she believed
that she had strength to withstand the temptations which beset the
rich. Thinking herself unselfish, she held herself incapable of keeping
for herself alone any good fortune that might come to her. And she made
a solemn resolve that if she should marry the man who stood ready to
take her to wife she would devote to good works the greater part of her
money and of her time. She would dress as became her station, of course,
and she would entertain sumptuously too; but no old man should ever be
turned shivering from her door when she was giving a dinner of
twenty-four.

Her revery was interrupted half a dozen times by the fits of coughing
which shook her patient, and which seemed to her to become more and more
frequent and more violent. At half-past nine she gave him his medicine
again, and took his temperature once more. Then she made up the fire,
which burned badly; and she straightened the sheets on his bed, and
turned the pillows.

He soon sank to slumber again, breathing heavily and turning uneasily in
his sleep. The house was singularly still, and no sound of the dinner
party below reached the nurse in the corner room above. When she
happened to go into the dressing-room she found there awaiting her a
tray with several dishes from the dinner table. She was glad to have
something to eat, and she sat down by the window to enjoy it. The thick,
soft snow had silenced nearly all the usual street sounds. The
carriages that went up and down the avenue were as inaudible as though
they were rolling on felt. But sleighing parties became more frequent,
and she found a suggestion of pleasant companionship and of human
activity in the jingle of the bells. Once a fire-engine sped swiftly
past the house, its usual roar deadened by the heavy snow, and its
whistle shrilling forth as it neared the side streets, one after
another; ten minutes later it came slowly back. The nurse was glad that
there was only a false alarm, for she knew how terrible a fire would be
in a crowded tenement-house on such a night.

She finished her belated dinner a few minutes after the deep tones of
the clock in the hall had told her that it was ten, and that there were
left of the old year but two hours more. Except when the sick man waked
with a cough, the next hour was wholly eventless.

And yet, when it had drawn to an end, the nurse thought that it would
count in her life as important beyond most others, for it was between
ten and eleven that she made up her mind to marry the rich man who
wanted her for his wife, and whom she did not love. The resolution once
determined, she let her mind play about the possibilities of the future.
She would not be married till the spring, of course, and they would go
to Europe for their wedding-trip. Then, in the fall, she would persuade
him to move to New York. He was fond of his own town, but he would get
used to the city in time; and they could buy a new house, overlooking
Central Park--perhaps in the same neighborhood as the one where she was
sitting in the hazy light of the sick-room. She smiled unconsciously as
she found herself wondering whether her patient's beautiful young wife
would call on her if she purchased the house next door.

It was a little after eleven o'clock when she again heard a rustling of
silken stuffs in the room by the side of hers, followed shortly by the
voice of the servant in the street below calling the carriages of the
departing guests. But some of the diners still lingered, for it was
nearly half an hour later before the door of the sick-room opened and
the sick man's wife came gliding in again with her languorous grace.

He fixed his eyes upon her at once, and smiled with contentment as she
came towards him.

"You've been asleep, haven't you?" she began. "I'm so glad, for of
course that's so good for you. We all missed you down-stairs, and
everybody asked about you and said they were _so_ sorry you were not
there. You must hurry up and get well; and I'll give another dinner like
this, for it was a _great_ success. The flowers were superb--and I don't
think any of the women had a handsomer gown than I did. And I know all
of them together hadn't as elegant diamonds. I don't believe _anybody_
at the dance will have as many either."

"Sit down by me here and tell me all about the dinner," said the sick
husband.

"Oh, I can't wait now," the young wife answered. "I _must_ be off at
once. I've simply _got_ to be there in time to see the old year out and
the new year in. They say Mrs. Jimmy has a surprise for us, and nobody
at dinner had the slightest idea what it _could_ possibly be!"

"Are you going to the dance to-night?" asked the man in the bed; and the
nurse saw the pleading look in his eyes, even if his wife failed to
perceive it.

"Of course I am," was the wife's reply. "I wouldn't miss it for
_anything_. I think it's a lovely idea to have a dance on New-Year's
Eve, don't you? I _do_ wish you were well enough to go, and I'm certain
sure Mrs. Jimmy will ask about you--she's always _so_ polite. You won't
miss me--you will be asleep again in five minutes, won't you?"

"Perhaps," he answered, still clinging to her fingers. "I'll try to
sleep."

"That's right," she responded, withdrawing her hand and going towards
the door. "I'll trust you to the nurse. She'll take better care of you
than I should, I'm afraid. I never was _any_ good when people were sick.
Now good-bye. I _do_ hope you'll be better when I get back. I'll come in
and say good-night, of course. I sha'n't be late, either--I'll be home
by three--or before four, _anyway_."

And with that she glided away, smiling back at her husband as she left
the room. He followed her with his eyes, and he gazed at the door
fixedly after she had gone. There was a hungry look in his face, so it
seemed to the nurse, as of one starving in the midst of plenty. With the
vain hope that the vision of beauty might yet return, he lay silent, but
listening intently, until he heard the sharp slam of the carriage doors.
Then he relaxed and turned restlessly in bed.

It was then half-past eleven, and the nurse took his temperature and
administered another capsule, as the doctor had ordered. It seemed to
her that he was more feverish and that he was coughing more frequently;
and even as she saw the patient sink into a broken sleep, she wished
that the physician would come soon.

The arrival of the doctor was delayed till a few minutes before
midnight, and the nurse had time to reconsider, once and forever, her
decision to marry for money and without love. Her mind had been made up
slowly and with great deliberation; it was unmade suddenly and
unhesitatingly and irrevocably. It was the sight of the mute pleading in
the sick man's eyes which made her change her mind. After seeing that
look she felt that it would be impossible for her to make a loveless
marriage--not for her own sake only, but also for the sake of the man
she should marry. If he loved her and she did not love him, there would
be no fair exchange; she would be cheating him. When she beheld clearly
the meaning of the transaction her honesty revolted. She had refused to
marry him more than once, and now her refusal was final.

She stood for a moment at the window and looked out. The snow had ceased
falling, and there was already a clearing of the clouds, which let the
moonlight pierce them fitfully. The wind blew steadily across the broad
meadows of the Park, bending the whitened skeletons of the trees.

Three immense sleighs filled with a joyous and laughing party went down
the avenue, bandying songs from one sleigh to the other. A horn was
tooted repeatedly in one of the side streets, and there were louder and
more frequent whistles from the river craft on both sides of the city. A
pistol-shot rang out now and again. It was almost midnight on the last
day of the old year; and the new year was to be greeted with the
customary chorus of wild noises.

As the nurse turned from the window the doctor entered the room. She
made her report briefly, and she told him that the old man's cough was
worse, and that he seemed weaker.

While they were standing at the foot of the bed, the patient was seized
with another paroxysm. He sat up, shaken by the violent effort--far more
violent than any that had preceded it. He seemed to struggle vainly for
relief, and then he dropped back limply on the pillows. The physician
was at his side instantly, and laid a hand on his heart. There was a
moment of silence, and the clock on the stairs began to strike twelve,
its chimes mingling with the uproar made by the pistols and the horns
and the steam-whistles out-doors.

"That's what I was afraid of," said the doctor at last. "I suspected
that he had fatty degeneration of the heart."

"Is he--is he dead?" asked the nurse.

"Yes, he is dead."

But it was not for five or ten minutes that the shrill noises outside
ceased.

       *       *       *       *       *


The following typographical errors were corrected by the etext
transcriber:

perfume of geniune=> perfume of genuine

he griped the leader=> he gripped the leader

There where cheers=> There were cheers





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