In a hilarious hall there were
twenty-eight tables and twenty-
eight women and a crowd of smoking
men. Valiant noise was made on
a stage at the end of the hall
by an orchestra composed of men
who looked as if they had just
happened in. Soiled waiters ran
to and fro, swooping down like
hawks on the unwary in the throng;
clattering along the aisles with
trays covered with glasses; stumbling
over women's skirts and charging
two prices for everything but
beer, all with a swiftness that
blurred the view of the cocoanut
palms and dusty monstrosities
painted upon the walls of the
room. A bouncer, with an immense
load of business upon his hands,
plunged about in the crowd, dragging
bashful strangers to prominent
chairs, ordering waiters here
and there and quarreling furiously
with men who wanted to sing with
The usual smoke cloud was present,
but so dense that heads and arms
seemed entangled in it. The rumble
of conversation was replaced
by a roar. Plenteous oaths heaved
through the air. The room rang
with the shrill voices of women
bubbling o'er with drink-laughter.
The chief element in the music
of the orchestra was speed. The
musicians played in intent fury.
A woman was singing and smiling
upon the stage, but no one took
notice of her. The rate at which
the piano, cornet and violins
were going, seemed to impart
wildness to the half-drunken
crowd. Beer glasses were emptied
at a gulp and conversation became
a rapid chatter. The smoke eddied
and swirled like a shadowy river
hurrying toward some unseen falls.
Pete and Maggie entered the hall
and took chairs at a table near
the door. The woman who was seated
there made an attempt to occupy
Pete's attention and, failing,
Three weeks had passed since
the girl had left home. The air
of spaniel-like dependence had
been magnified and showed its
direct effect in the peculiar
off-handedness and ease of Pete's
ways toward her.
She followed Pete's eyes with
hers, anticipating with smiles
gracious looks from him.
A woman of brilliance and audacity,
accompanied by a mere boy, came
into the place and took seats
At once Pete sprang to his
feet, his face beaming with glad
"By Gawd, there's Nellie," he
He went over to the table and
held out an eager hand to the
"Why, hello, Pete, me boy,
how are you," said she, giving
him her fingers.
Maggie took instant note of
the woman. She perceived that
her black dress fitted her to
perfection. Her linen collar
and cuffs were spotless. Tan
gloves were stretched over her
well-shaped hands. A hat of a
prevailing fashion perched jauntily
upon her dark hair. She wore
no jewelry and was painted with
no apparent paint. She looked
clear-eyed through the stares
of the men.
"Sit down, and call your lady-friend
over," she said cordially to
Pete. At his beckoning Maggie
came and sat between Pete and
the mere boy.
"I thought yeh were gone away
fer good," began Pete, at once. "When
did yeh git back? How did dat
Buff'lo bus'ness turn out?"
The woman shrugged
her shoulders. "Well,
he didn't have as many stamps
as he tried to make out, so I
shook him, that's all."
"Well, I'm glad teh see yehs
back in deh city," said Pete,
with awkward gallantry.
He and the woman entered into
a long conversation, exchanging
reminiscences of days together.
Maggie sat still, unable to formulate
an intelligent sentence upon
the conversation and painfully
aware of it.
She saw Pete's eyes sparkle
as he gazed upon the handsome
stranger. He listened smilingly
to all she said. The woman was
familiar with all his affairs,
asked him about mutual friends,
and knew the amount of his salary.
She paid no attention to Maggie,
looking toward her once or twice
and apparently seeing the wall
The mere boy was sulky. In
the beginning he had welcomed
with acclamations the additions.
have a drink! What'll you take,
Nell? And you, Miss
what's-your-name. Have a drink,
Mr. -----, you, I mean."
He had shown a sprightly desire
to do the talking for the company
and tell all about his family.
In a loud voice he declaimed
on various topics. He assumed
a patronizing air toward Pete.
As Maggie was silent, he paid
no attention to her. He made
a great show of lavishing wealth
upon the woman of brilliance
"Do keep still, Freddie! You
gibber like an ape, dear," said
the woman to him. She turned
away and devoted her attention
many a good time together again,
"Sure, Mike," said
Pete, enthusiastic at once.
"Say," whispered she, leaning
forward, "let's go over to Billie's
and have a heluva time."
"Well, it's dis way! See?" said
Pete. I got dis lady frien' here."
"Oh, t'hell with her," argued
Pete appeared disturbed.
"All right," said she, nodding
her head at him. "All right for
you! We'll see the next time
you ask me to go anywheres with
"Say," he said, beseechingly, "come
wid me a minit an' I'll tell
The woman waved her hand.
all right, you needn't explain,
you know. You
wouldn't come merely because
you wouldn't come, that's all
there is of it."
To Pete's visible distress
she turned to the mere boy, bringing
him speedily from a terrific
rage. He had been debating whether
it would be the part of a man
to pick a quarrel with Pete,
or would he be justified in striking
him savagely with his beer glass
without warning. But he recovered
himself when the woman turned
to renew her smilings. He beamed
upon her with an expression that
was somewhat tipsy and inexpressibly
"Say, shake that Bowery jay," requested
he, in a loud whisper.
"Freddie, you are so droll," she
Pete reached forward and touched
the woman on the arm.
"Come out a minit while I tells
yeh why I can't go wid yer. Yer
doin' me dirt, Nell! I never
taut ye'd do me dirt, Nell. Come
on, will yer?" He spoke in tones
"Why, I don't see why I should
be interested in your explanations," said
the woman, with a coldness that
seemed to reduce Pete to a pulp.
His eyes pleaded
with her. "Come
out a minit while I tells yeh."
The woman nodded
slightly at Maggie and the
mere boy, "'Scuse
The mere boy interrupted his
loving smile and turned a shrivelling
glare upon Pete. His boyish countenance
flushed and he spoke, in a whine,
to the woman:
"Oh, I say,
Nellie, this ain't a square
deal, you know. You
aren't goin' to leave me and
go off with that duffer, are
you? I should think--"
"Why, you dear boy, of course
I'm not," cried the woman, affectionately.
She bended over and whispered
in his ear. He smiled again and
settled in his chair as if resolved
to wait patiently.
As the woman walked down between
the rows of tables, Pete was
at her shoulder talking earnestly,
apparently in explanation. The
woman waved her hands with studied
airs of indifference. The doors
swung behind them, leaving Maggie
and the mere boy seated at the
Maggie was dazed. She could
dimly perceive that something
stupendous had happened. She
wondered why Pete saw fit to
remonstrate with the woman, pleading
for forgiveness with his eyes.
She thought she noted an air
of submission about her leonine
Pete. She was astounded.
The mere boy occupied himself
with cock-tails and a cigar.
He was tranquilly silent for
half an hour. Then he bestirred
himself and spoke.
"Well," he said, sighing, "I
knew this was the way it would
be." There was another stillness.
The mere boy seemed to be musing.
"She was pulling m'leg. That's
the whole amount of it," he said,
suddenly. "It's a bloomin' shame
the way that girl does. Why,
I've spent over two dollars in
drinks to-night. And she goes
off with that plug-ugly who looks
as if he had been hit in the
face with a coin-die. I call
it rocky treatment for a fellah
like me. Here, waiter, bring
me a cock-tail and make it damned
no reply. She was watching
the doors. "It's a mean
piece of business," complained
the mere boy. He explained to
her how amazing it was that anybody
should treat him in such a manner. "But
I'll get square with her, you
bet. She won't get far ahead
of yours truly, you know," he
added, winking. "I'll tell her
plainly that it was bloomin'
mean business. And she won't
come it over me with any of her
'now-Freddie-dears.' She thinks
my name is Freddie, you know,
but of course it ain't. I always
tell these people some name like
that, because if they got onto
your right name they might use
it sometime. Understand? Oh,
they don't fool me much."
Maggie was paying no attention,
being intent upon the doors.
The mere boy relapsed into a
period of gloom, during which
he exterminated a number of cock-tails
with a determined air, as if
replying defiantly to fate. He
occasionally broke forth into
sentences composed of invectives
joined together in a long string.
The girl was still staring
at the doors. After a time the
mere boy began to see cobwebs
just in front of his nose. He
spurred himself into being agreeable
and insisted upon her having
a charlotte-russe and a glass
"They's gone," he remarked, "they's
gone." He looked at her through
the smoke wreaths. "Shay, lil'
girl, we mightish well make bes'
of it. You ain't such bad-lookin'
girl, y'know. Not half bad. Can't
come up to Nell, though. No,
can't do it! Well, I should shay
not! Nell fine-lookin' girl!
F--i--n--ine. You look damn bad
longsider her, but by y'self
ain't so bad. Have to do anyhow.
Nell gone. On'y you left. Not
half bad, though."
Maggie stood up.
"I'm going home," she
The mere boy started.
"Eh? What? Home," he cried,
struck with amazement. "I beg
pardon, did hear say home?"
"I'm going home," she
"Great Gawd, what hava struck," demanded
the mere boy of himself, stupefied.
In a semi-comatose state he
conducted her on board an up-town
car, ostentatiously paid her
fare, leered kindly at her through
the rear window and fell off