An orchestra of yellow silk
women and bald-headed men on
an elevated stage near the centre
of a great green-hued hall, played
a popular waltz. The place was
crowded with people grouped about
little tables. A battalion of
waiters slid among the throng,
carrying trays of beer glasses
and making change from the inexhaustible
vaults of their trousers pockets.
Little boys, in the costumes
of French chefs, paraded up and
down the irregular aisles vending
fancy cakes. There was a low
rumble of conversation and a
subdued clinking of glasses.
Clouds of tobacco smoke rolled
and wavered high in air about
the dull gilt of the chandeliers.
The vast crowd had an air throughout
of having just quitted labor.
Men with calloused hands and
attired in garments that showed
the wear of an endless trudge
for a living, smoked their pipes
contentedly and spent five, ten,
or perhaps fifteen cents for
beer. There was a mere sprinkling
of kid-gloved men who smoked
cigars purchased elsewhere. The
great body of the crowd was composed
of people who showed that all
day they strove with their hands.
Quiet Germans, with maybe their
wives and two or three children,
sat listening to the music, with
the expressions of happy cows.
An occasional party of sailors
from a war-ship, their faces
pictures of sturdy health, spent
the earlier hours of the evening
at the small round tables. Very
infrequent tipsy men, swollen
with the value of their opinions,
engaged their companions in earnest
and confidential conversation.
In the balcony, and here and
there below, shone the impassive
faces of women. The nationalities
of the Bowery beamed upon the
stage from all directions.
Pete aggressively walked up
a side aisle and took seats with
Maggie at a table beneath the
Leaning back he regarded with
eyes of superiority the scene
before them. This attitude affected
Maggie strongly. A man who could
regard such a sight with indifference
must be accustomed to very great
It was obvious that Pete had
been to this place many times
before, and was very familiar
with it. A knowledge of this
fact made Maggie feel little
He was extremely gracious and
attentive. He displayed the consideration
of a cultured gentleman who knew
what was due.
deh hell? Bring deh lady a
big glass! What deh
hell use is dat pony?"
"Don't be fresh, now," said
the waiter, with some warmth,
as he departed.
"Ah, git off deh eart'," said
Pete, after the other's retreating
Maggie perceived that Pete
brought forth all his elegance
and all his knowledge of high-class
customs for her benefit. Her
heart warmed as she reflected
upon his condescension.
The orchestra of yellow silk
women and bald-headed men gave
vent to a few bars of anticipatory
music and a girl, in a pink dress
with short skirts, galloped upon
the stage. She smiled upon the
throng as if in acknowledgment
of a warm welcome, and began
to walk to and fro, making profuse
gesticulations and singing, in
brazen soprano tones, a song,
the words of which were inaudible.
When she broke into the swift
rattling measures of a chorus
some half-tipsy men near the
stage joined in the rollicking
refrain and glasses were pounded
rhythmically upon the tables.
People leaned forward to watch
her and to try to catch the words
of the song. When she vanished
there were long rollings of applause.
Obedient to more anticipatory
bars, she reappeared amidst the
half-suppressed cheering of the
tipsy men. The orchestra plunged
into dance music and the laces
of the dancer fluttered and flew
in the glare of gas jets. She
divulged the fact that she was
attired in some half dozen skirts.
It was patent that any one of
them would have proved adequate
for the purpose for which skirts
are intended. An occasional man
bent forward, intent upon the
pink stockings. Maggie wondered
at the splendor of the costume
and lost herself in calculations
of the cost of the silks and
The dancer's smile of stereotyped
enthusiasm was turned for ten
minutes upon the faces of her
audience. In the finale she fell
into some of those grotesque
attitudes which were at the time
popular among the dancers in
the theatres up-town, giving
to the Bowery public the phantasies
of the aristocratic theatre-going
public, at reduced rates.
"Say, Pete," said Maggie, leaning
forward, "dis is great."
Pete, with proper complacence.
A ventriloquist followed the
dancer. He held two fantastic
dolls on his knees. He made them
sing mournful ditties and say
funny things about geography
"Do dose little men talk?" asked
"Naw," said Pete, "it's
some damn fake. See?"
Two girls, on the bills as
sisters, came forth and sang
a duet that is heard occasionally
at concerts given under church
auspices. They supplemented it
with a dance which of course
can never be seen at concerts
given under church auspices.
After the duettists had retired,
a woman of debatable age sang
a negro melody. The chorus necessitated
some grotesque waddlings supposed
to be an imitation of a plantation
darkey, under the influence,
probably, of music and the moon.
The audience was just enthusiastic
enough over it to have her return
and sing a sorrowful lay, whose
lines told of a mother's love
and a sweetheart who waited and
a young man who was lost at sea
under the most harrowing circumstances.
From the faces of a score or
so in the crowd, the self-contained
look faded. Many heads were bent
forward with eagerness and sympathy.
As the last distressing sentiment
of the piece was brought forth,
it was greeted by that kind of
applause which rings as sincere.
As a final
effort, the singer rendered
some verses which described
a vision of Britain being annihilated
by America, and Ireland bursting
her bonds. A carefully prepared
crisis was reached in the last
line of the last verse, where
the singer threw out her arms
and cried, "The star-spangled
banner." Instantly a great cheer
swelled from the throats of the
assemblage of the masses. There
was a heavy rumble of booted
feet thumping the floor. Eyes
gleamed with sudden fire, and
calloused hands waved frantically
in the air.
After a few moments' rest,
the orchestra played crashingly,
and a small fat man burst out
upon the stage. He began to roar
a song and stamp back and forth
before the foot-lights, wildly
waving a glossy silk hat and
throwing leers, or smiles, broadcast.
He made his face into fantastic
grimaces until he looked like
a pictured devil on a Japanese
kite. The crowd laughed gleefully.
His short, fat legs were never
still a moment. He shouted and
roared and bobbed his shock of
red wig until the audience broke
out in excited applause.
Pete did not pay much attention
to the progress of events upon
the stage. He was drinking beer
and watching Maggie.
Her cheeks were blushing with
excitement and her eyes were
glistening. She drew deep breaths
of pleasure. No thoughts of the
atmosphere of the collar and
cuff factory came to her.
When the orchestra crashed
finally, they jostled their way
to the sidewalk with the crowd.
Pete took Maggie's arm and pushed
a way for her, offering to fight
with a man or two.
They reached Maggie's home
at a late hour and stood for
a moment in front of the gruesome
"Say, Mag," said Pete, "give
us a kiss for takin' yeh teh
deh show, will yer?"
Maggie laughed, as if startled,
and drew away from him.
"Naw, Pete," she said, "dat
wasn't in it."
"Ah, what deh hell?" urged
The girl retreated nervously.
"Ah, what deh hell?" repeated
Maggie darted into the hall,
and up the stairs. She turned
and smiled at him, then disappeared.
Pete walked slowly down the
street. He had something of an
astonished expression upon his
features. He paused under a lamp-
post and breathed a low breath
"Gawd," he said, "I
wonner if I've been played
fer a duffer."