In a hall of irregular shape
sat Pete and Maggie drinking
beer. A submissive orchestra
dictated to by a spectacled man
with frowsy hair and a dress
suit, industriously followed
the bobs of his head and the
waves of his baton. A ballad
singer, in a dress of flaming
scarlet, sang in the inevitable
voice of brass. When she vanished,
men seated at the tables near
the front applauded loudly, pounding
the polished wood with their
beer glasses. She returned attired
in less gown, and sang again.
She received another enthusiastic
encore. She reappeared in still
less gown and danced. The deafening
rumble of glasses and clapping
of hands that followed her exit
indicated an overwhelming desire
to have her come on for the fourth
time, but the curiosity of the
audience was not
Maggie was pale. From her eyes
had been plucked all look of
self-reliance. She leaned with
a dependent air toward her companion.
She was timid, as if fearing
his anger or displeasure. She
seemed to beseech tenderness
Pete's air of distinguished
valor had grown upon him until
it threatened stupendous dimensions.
He was infinitely gracious to
the girl. It was apparent to
her that his condescension was
He could appear to strut even
while sitting still and he showed
that he was a lion of lordly
characteristics by the air with
which he spat.
With Maggie gazing at him wonderingly,
he took pride in commanding the
waiters who were, however, indifferent
"Hi, you, git
a russle on yehs! What deh
hell yehs lookin' at?
Two more beehs, d'yeh hear?"
He leaned back and critically
regarded the person of a girl
with a straw-colored wig who
upon the stage was flinging her
heels in somewhat awkward imitation
of a well-known danseuse.
At times Maggie told Pete long
confidential tales of her former
home life, dwelling upon the
escapades of the other members
of the family and the difficulties
she had to combat in order to
obtain a degree of comfort. He
responded in tones of philanthropy.
He pressed her arm with an air
of reassuring proprietorship.
"Dey was damn jays," he
said, denouncing the mother
The sound of
the music which, by the efforts
of the frowsy-
headed leader, drifted to her
ears through the smoke-filled
atmosphere, made the girl dream.
She thought of her former Rum
Alley environment and turned
to regard Pete's strong protecting
fists. She thought of the collar
and cuff manufactory and the
eternal moan of the proprietor: "What
een hell do you sink I pie fife
dolla a week for? Play? No, py
damn." She contemplated Pete's
man-subduing eyes and noted that
wealth and prosperity was indicated
by his clothes. She imagined
a future, rose-tinted, because
of its distance from all that
she previously had experienced.
As to the present she perceived
only vague reasons to be miserable.
Her life was Pete's and she considered
him worthy of the charge. She
would be disturbed by no particular
apprehensions, so long as Pete
adored her as he now said he
did. She did not feel like a
bad woman. To her knowledge she
had never seen any better.
At times men at other tables
regarded the girl furtively.
Pete, aware of it, nodded at
her and grinned. He felt proud.
"Mag, yer a bloomin' good-looker," he
remarked, studying her face through
the haze. The men made Maggie
fear, but she blushed at Pete's
words as it became apparent to
her that she was the apple of
Grey-headed men, wonderfully
pathetic in their dissipation,
stared at her through clouds.
Smooth-cheeked boys, some of
them with faces of stone and
mouths of sin, not nearly so
pathetic as the grey heads, tried
to find the girl's eyes in the
smoke wreaths. Maggie considered
she was not what they thought
her. She confined her glances
to Pete and the stage.
The orchestra played negro
melodies and a versatile drummer
pounded, whacked, clattered and
scratched on a dozen machines
to make noise.
Those glances of the men, shot
at Maggie from under half-closed
lids, made her tremble. She thought
them all to be worse men than
"Come, let's go," she
As they went out Maggie perceived
two women seated at a table with
some men. They were painted and
their cheeks had lost their roundness.
As she passed them the girl,
with a shrinking movement, drew
back her skirts.