Pete took note of Maggie.
"Say, Mag, I'm stuck on yer
shape. It's outa sight," he said,
parenthetically, with an affable
As he became aware that she
was listening closely, he grew
still more eloquent in his descriptions
of various happenings in his
career. It appeared that he was
invincible in fights.
"Why," he said, referring to
a man with whom he had had a
misunderstanding, "dat mug scrapped
like a damn dago. Dat's right.
He was dead easy. See? He tau't
he was a scrapper. But he foun'
out diff'ent! Hully gee."
He walked to and fro in the
small room, which seemed then
to grow even smaller and unfit
to hold his dignity, the attribute
of a supreme warrior. That swing
of the shoulders that had frozen
the timid when he was but a lad
had increased with his growth
and education at the ratio of
ten to one. It, combined with
the sneer upon his mouth, told
mankind that there was nothing
in space which could appall him.
Maggie marvelled at him and surrounded
him with greatness. She vaguely
tried to calculate the altitude
of the pinnacle from which he
must have looked down upon her.
"I met a chump deh odder day
way up in deh city," he said. "I
was goin' teh see a frien' of
mine. When I was a-crossin' deh
street deh chump runned plump
inteh me, an' den he turns aroun'
an' says, 'Yer insolen' ruffin,'
he says, like dat. 'Oh, gee,'
I says, 'oh, gee, go teh hell
and git off deh eart',' I says,
like dat. See? 'Go teh hell an'
git off deh eart',' like dat.
Den deh blokie he got wild. He
says I was a contempt'ble scoun'el,
er somet'ing like dat, an' he
says I was doom' teh everlastin'
pe'dition an' all like dat. 'Gee,'
I says, 'gee! Deh hell I am,'
I says. 'Deh hell I am,' like
dat. An' den I slugged 'im. See?"
With Jimmie in his company,
Pete departed in a sort of a
blaze of glory from the Johnson
home. Maggie, leaning from the
window, watched him as he walked
down the street.
Here was a formidable man who
disdained the strength of a world
full of fists. Here was one who
had contempt for brass- clothed
power; one whose knuckles could
defiantly ring against the granite
of law. He was a knight.
The two men went from under
the glimmering street-lamp and
passed into shadows.
Turning, Maggie contemplated
the dark, dust-stained walls,
and the scant and crude furniture
of her home. A clock, in a splintered
and battered oblong box of varnished
wood, she suddenly regarded as
an abomination. She noted that
it ticked raspingly. The almost
vanished flowers in the carpet-pattern,
she conceived to be newly hideous.
Some faint attempts she had made
with blue ribbon, to freshen
the appearance of a dingy curtain,
she now saw to be piteous.
She wondered what Pete dined
She reflected upon the collar
and cuff factory. It began to
appear to her mind as a dreary
place of endless grinding. Pete's
elegant occupation brought him,
no doubt, into contact with people
who had money and manners. it
was probable that he had a large
acquaintance of pretty girls.
He must have great sums of money
To her the
earth was composed of hardships
and insults. She
felt instant admiration for a
man who openly defied it. She
thought that if the grim angel
of death should clutch his heart,
Pete would shrug his shoulders
and say: "Oh, ev'ryt'ing goes."
She anticipated that he would
come again shortly. She spent
some of her week's pay in the
purchase of flowered cretonne
for a lambrequin. She made it
with infinite care and hung it
to the slightly-careening mantel,
over the stove, in the kitchen.
She studied it with painful anxiety
from different points in the
room. She wanted it to look well
on Sunday night when, perhaps,
Jimmie's friend would come. On
Sunday night, however, Pete did
Afterward the girl looked at
it with a sense of humiliation.
She was now convinced that Pete
was superior to admiration for
A few evenings later Pete entered
with fascinating innovations
in his apparel. As she had seen
him twice and he had different
suits on each time, Maggie had
a dim impression that his wardrobe
was prodigiously extensive.
"Say, Mag," he said, "put
on yer bes' duds Friday night
I'll take yehs teh deh show.
He spent a few moments in flourishing
his clothes and then vanished,
without having glanced at the
Over the eternal collars and
cuffs in the factory Maggie spent
the most of three days in making
imaginary sketches of Pete and
his daily environment. She imagined
some half dozen women in love
with him and thought he must
lean dangerously toward an indefinite
one, whom she pictured with great
charms of person, but with an
altogether contemptible disposition.
She thought he must live in
a blare of pleasure. He had friends,
and people who were afraid of
She saw the golden glitter
of the place where Pete was to
take her. An entertainment of
many hues and many melodies where
she was afraid she might appear
small and mouse-colored.
Her mother drank whiskey all
Friday morning. With lurid face
and tossing hair she cursed and
destroyed furniture all Friday
afternoon. When Maggie came home
at half-past six her mother lay
asleep amidst the wreck of chairs
and a table. Fragments of various
household utensils were scattered
about the floor. She had vented
some phase of drunken fury upon
the lambrequin. It lay in a bedraggled
heap in the corner.
"Hah," she snorted, sitting
up suddenly, "where deh hell
yeh been? Why deh hell don' yeh
come home earlier? Been loafin'
'round deh streets. Yer gettin'
teh be a reg'lar devil."
When Pete arrived Maggie, in
a worn black dress, was waiting
for him in the midst of a floor
strewn with wreckage. The curtain
at the window had been pulled
by a heavy hand and hung by one
tack, dangling to and fro in
the draft through the cracks
at the sash. The knots of blue
ribbons appeared like violated
flowers. The fire in the stove
had gone out. The displaced lids
and open doors showed heaps of
sullen grey ashes. The remnants
of a meal, ghastly, like dead
flesh, lay in a corner. Maggie's
red mother, stretched on the
floor, blasphemed and gave her
daughter a bad name.