The babe, Tommie, died. He went
away in a white, insignificant
coffin, his small waxen hand
clutching a flower that the girl,
Maggie, had stolen from an Italian.
She and Jimmie lived.
The inexperienced fibres of
the boy's eyes were hardened
at an early age. He became a
young man of leather. He lived
some red years without laboring.
During that time his sneer became
chronic. He studied human nature
in the gutter, and found it no
worse than he thought he had
reason to believe it. He never
conceived a respect for the world,
because he had begun with no
idols that it had smashed.
He clad his
soul in armor by means of happening
in at a mission church where
a man composed his sermons of "yous." While
they got warm at the stove, he
told his hearers just where he
calculated they stood with the
Lord. Many of the sinners were
impatient over the pictured depths
of their degradation. They were
waiting for soup-tickets.
A reader of words of wind-demons
might have been able to see the
portions of a dialogue pass to
and fro between the exhorter
and his hearers.
"You are damned," said the
preacher. And the reader of sounds
might have seen the reply go
forth from the ragged people: "Where's
Jimmie and a companion sat
in a rear seat and commented
upon the things that didn't concern
them, with all the freedom of
English gentlemen. When they
grew thirsty and went out their
minds confused the speaker with
Momentarily, Jimmie was sullen
with thoughts of a hopeless altitude
where grew fruit. His companion
said that if he should ever meet
God he would ask for a million
dollars and a bottle of beer.
Jimmie's occupation for a long
time was to stand on streetcorners
and watch the world go by, dreaming
blood-red dreams at the passing
of pretty women. He menaced mankind
at the intersections of streets.
On the corners he was in life
and of life. The world was going
on and he was there to perceive
He maintained a belligerent
attitude toward all well-dressed
men. To him fine raiment was
allied to weakness, and all good
coats covered faint hearts. He
and his order were kings, to
a certain extent, over the men
of untarnished clothes, because
these latter dreaded, perhaps,
to be either killed or laughed
Above all things he despised
obvious Christians and ciphers
with the chrysanthemums of aristocracy
in their button-holes. He considered
himself above both of these classes.
He was afraid of neither the
devil nor the leader of society.
When he had a dollar in his
pocket his satisfaction with
existence was the greatest thing
in the world. So, eventually,
he felt obliged to work. His
father died and his mother's
years were divided up into periods
of thirty days.
He became a truck driver. He
was given the charge of a painstaking
pair of horses and a large rattling
truck. He invaded the turmoil
and tumble of the down-town streets
and learned to breathe maledictory
defiance at the police who occasionally
used to climb up, drag him from
his perch and beat him.
In the lower part of the city
he daily involved himself in
hideous tangles. If he and his
team chanced to be in the rear
he preserved a demeanor of serenity,
crossing his legs and bursting
forth into yells when foot passengers
took dangerous dives beneath
the noses of his champing horses.
He smoked his pipe calmly for
he knew that his pay was marching
If in the front and the key-truck
of chaos, he entered terrifically
into the quarrel that was raging
to and fro among the drivers
on their high seats, and sometimes
roared oaths and violently got
After a time his sneer grew
so that it turned its glare upon
all things. He became so sharp
that he believed in nothing.
To him the police were always
actuated by malignant impulses
and the rest of the world was
composed, for the most part,
of despicable creatures who were
all trying to take advantage
of him and with whom, in defense,
he was obliged to quarrel on
all possible occasions. He himself
occupied a down-trodden position
that had a private but distinct
element of grandeur in its isolation.
The most complete cases of
aggravated idiocy were, to his
mind, rampant upon the front
platforms of all the street cars.
At first his tongue strove with
these beings, but he eventually
was superior. He became immured
like an African cow. In him grew
a majestic contempt for those
strings of street cars that followed
him like intent bugs.
He fell into the habit, when
starting on a long journey, of
fixing his eye on a high and
distant object, commanding his
horses to begin, and then going
into a sort of a trance of observation.
Multitudes of drivers might howl
in his rear, and passengers might
load him with opprobrium, he
would not awaken until some blue
policeman turned red and began
to frenziedly tear bridles and
beat the soft noses of the responsible
When he paused to contemplate
the attitude of the police toward
himself and his fellows, he believed
that they were the only men in
the city who had no rights. When
driving about, he felt that he
was held liable by the police
for anything that might occur
in the streets, and was the common
prey of all energetic officials.
In revenge, he resolved never
to move out of the way of anything,
until formidable circumstances,
or a much larger man than himself
forced him to it.
Foot-passengers were mere pestering
flies with an insane disregard
for their legs and his convenience.
He could not conceive their maniacal
desires to cross the streets.
Their madness smote him with
eternal amazement. He was continually
storming at them from his throne.
He sat aloft and denounced their
frantic leaps, plunges, dives
When they would thrust at,
or parry, the noses of his champing
horses, making them swing their
heads and move their feet, disturbing
a solid dreamy repose, he swore
at the men as fools, for he himself
could perceive that Providence
had caused it clearly to be written,
that he and his team had the
unalienable right to stand in
the proper path of the sun chariot,
and if they so minded, obstruct
its mission or take a wheel off.
And, perhaps, if the god-driver
had an ungovernable desire to
step down, put up his flame-colored
fists and manfully dispute the
right of way, he would have probably
been immediately opposed by a
scowling mortal with two sets
of very hard knuckles.
It is possible, perhaps, that
this young man would have derided,
in an axle-wide alley, the approach
of a flying ferry boat. Yet he
achieved a respect for a fire
engine. As one charged toward
his truck, he would drive fearfully
upon a sidewalk, threatening
untold people with annihilation.
When an engine would strike a
mass of blocked trucks, splitting
it into fragments, as a blow
annihilates a cake of ice, Jimmie's
team could usually be observed
high and safe, with whole wheels,
on the sidewalk. The fearful
coming of the engine could break
up the most intricate muddle
of heavy vehicles at which the
police had been swearing for
the half of an hour.
A fire engine was enshrined
in his heart as an appalling
thing that he loved with a distant
dog-like devotion. They had been
known to overturn street-cars.
Those leaping horses, striking
sparks from the cobbles in their
forward lunge, were creatures
to be ineffably admired. The
clang of the gong pierced his
breast like a noise of remembered
When Jimmie was a little boy,
he began to be arrested. Before
he reached a great age, he had
a fair record.
He developed too great a tendency
to climb down from his truck
and fight with other drivers.
He had been in quite a number
of miscellaneous fights, and
in some general barroom rows
that had become known to the
police. Once he had been arrested
for assaulting a Chinaman. Two
women in different parts of the
city, and entirely unknown to
each other, caused him considerable
annoyance by breaking forth,
simultaneously, at fateful intervals,
into wailings about marriage
and support and infants.
he had, on a certain star-lit
wonderingly and quite reverently: "Deh
moon looks like hell, don't it?"