Upon a wet evening, several
months after the last chapter,
two interminable rows of cars,
pulled by slipping horses, jangled
along a prominent side-street.
A dozen cabs, with coat-enshrouded
drivers, clattered to and fro.
Electric lights, whirring softly,
shed a blurred radiance. A flower
dealer, his feet tapping impatiently,
his nose and his wares glistening
with rain-drops, stood behind
an array of roses and chrysanthemums.
Two or three theatres emptied
a crowd upon the storm-swept
pavements. Men pulled their hats
over their eyebrows and raised
their collars to their ears.
Women shrugged impatient shoulders
in their warm cloaks and stopped
to arrange their skirts for a
walk through the storm. People
having been comparatively silent
for two hours burst into a roar
of conversation, their hearts
still kindling from the glowings
of the stage.
The pavements became tossing
seas of umbrellas. Men stepped
forth to hail cabs or cars, raising
their fingers in varied forms
of polite request or imperative
demand. An endless procession
wended toward elevated stations.
An atmosphere of pleasure and
prosperity seemed to hang over
the throng, born, perhaps, of
good clothes and of having just
emerged from a place of forgetfulness.
In the mingled light and gloom
of an adjacent park, a handful
of wet wanderers, in attitudes
of chronic dejection, was scattered
among the benches.
A girl of the painted cohorts
of the city went along the street.
She threw changing glances at
men who passed her, giving smiling
invitations to men of rural or
untaught pattern and usually
seeming sedately unconscious
of the men with a metropolitan
seal upon their faces.
Crossing glittering avenues,
she went into the throng emerging
from the places of forgetfulness.
She hurried forward through the
crowd as if intent upon reaching
a distant home, bending forward
in her handsome cloak, daintily
lifting her skirts and picking
for her well-shod feet the dryer
spots upon the pavements.
The restless doors of saloons,
clashing to and fro, disclosed
animated rows of men before bars
and hurrying barkeepers.
A concert hall gave to the
street faint sounds of swift,
machine-like music, as if a group
of phantom musicians were hastening.
A tall young man, smoking a
cigarette with a sublime air,
strolled near the girl. He had
on evening dress, a moustache,
a chrysanthemum, and a look of
ennui, all of which he kept carefully
under his eye. Seeing the girl
walk on as if such a young man
as he was not in existence, he
looked back transfixed with interest.
He stared glassily for a moment,
but gave a slight convulsive
start when he discerned that
she was neither new, Parisian,
nor theatrical. He wheeled about
hastily and turned his stare
into the air, like a sailor with
A stout gentleman, with pompous
and philanthropic whiskers, went
stolidly by, the broad of his
back sneering at the girl.
A belated man
in business clothes, and in
haste to catch a car,
bounced against her shoulder. "Hi,
there, Mary, I beg your pardon!
Brace up, old girl." He grasped
her arm to steady her, and then
was away running down the middle
of the street.
The girl walked on out of the
realm of restaurants and saloons.
She passed more glittering avenues
and went into darker blocks than
those where the crowd travelled.
A young man
in light overcoat and derby
hat received a glance
shot keenly from the eyes of
the girl. He stopped and looked
at her, thrusting his hands in
his pockets and making a mocking
smile curl his lips. "Come, now,
old lady," he said, "you don't
mean to tell me that you sized
me up for a farmer?"
man marched along with bundles
under his arms.
To her remarks, he replied: "It's
a fine evenin', ain't it?"
squarely into the face of a
boy who was hurrying
by with his hands buried in his
overcoat, his blonde locks bobbing
on his youthful temples, and
a cheery smile of unconcern upon
his lips. He turned his head
and smiled back at her, waving
his hands. him. "He's all right!
He didn't mean anything! Let
it go! He's a good fellah!"
"Din' he insul' me?" asked
the man earnestly.
"No," said they. "Of
course he didn't! He's all
"Sure he didn' insul' me?" demanded
the man, with deep anxiety in
"No, no! We
know him! He's a good fellah.
He didn't mean
"Well, zen," said the man,
resolutely, "I'm go' 'pol'gize!"
When the waiter came, the man
struggled to the middle of the
you insul' me! I shay damn
lie! I 'pol'gize!"
"All right," said
The man sat down. He felt a
sleepy but strong desire to straighten
things out and have a perfect
understanding with everybody.
"Nell, I allus
trea's yeh shquare, din' I?
Yeh likes me, don' yehs,
Nell? I'm goo' f'ler?"
the woman of brilliance and
I'm stuck on yehs, don' yehs,
Overwhelmed by a spasm of drunken
adoration, he drew two or three
bills from his pocket, and, with
the trembling fingers of an offering
priest, laid them on the table
before the woman.
damn it, yehs kin have all
got, 'cause I'm
stuck on yehs, Nell, damn't,
I--I'm stuck on yehs, Nell--buy
heluva time--w'en anyone trea's
me ri'--I--damn't, Nell--we're
Shortly he went to sleep with
his swollen face fallen forward
on his chest.
The women drank and laughed,
not heeding the slumbering man
in the corner. Finally he lurched
forward and fell groaning to
The women screamed in disgust
and drew back their skirts.
"Come ahn," cried one, starting
up angrily, "let's get out of
The woman of brilliance and
audacity stayed behind, taking
up the bills and stuffing them
into a deep, irregularly-shaped
pocket. A guttural snore from
the recumbent man caused her
to turn and look down at him.
She laughed. "What a damn fool," she
said, and went.
The smoke from the lamps settled
heavily down in the little compartment,
obscuring the way out. The smell
of oil, stifling in its intensity,
pervaded the air. The wine from
an overturned glass dripped softly
down upon the blotches on the