All along the rails there were faces; in the portholes there were faces. Leeward a stale smell came from the tubby steamer that rode at anchor listed a little to one side with the yellow quarantine flag drooping at the foremast.
"I'd give a million dollars," said the old man resting on his oars, "to know what they come for."
"Just for that pop," said the young man who sat in the stern. "Aint it the land of opportoonity?"
"One thing I do know," said the old man. "When I was a boy it was wild Irish came in the spring with the first run of shad. . . . Now there aint no more shad, an them folks, Lord knows where they come from."
"It's the land of opportoonity."
A LEANFACED young man with steel eyes and a thin highbridged nose sat back in a swivel chair with his feet on his new mahogany-finish desk. His skin was sallow, his lips gently pouting. He wriggled in the swivel chair watching the little scratches his shoes were making on the veneer. Damn it I dont care. Then he sat up suddenly making the swivel shriek and banged on his knee with his clenched fist. "Results," he shouted. Three months I've sat rubbing my tail on this swivel chair. . . . What's the use of going through lawschool and being admitted to the bar if you cant find anybody to practice on? He frowned at the gold lettering through the groundglass door.
Niwdlab, Welsh. He jumped to his feet. I've read that damn sign backwards every day for three months. I'm going crazy. I'll go out and eat lunch.
He straightened his vest and brushed some flecks of dust off his shoes with a handkerchief, then, contracting his face into an expression of intense preoccupation, he hurried out of his office, trotted down the stairs and out onto Maiden Lane. In front of the chophouse he saw the headline on a pink extra; Japs Thrown Back From Mukden. He bought the paper and folded it under his arm as he went in through the swinging door. He took a table and pored over the bill of fare. Mustn't be extravagant now. "Waiter you can bring me a New England boiled dinner, a slice of applepie and coffee." The longnosed waiter wrote the order on his slip looking at it sideways with a careful frown. . . . That's the lunch for a lawyer without any practice. Baldwin cleared his throat and unfolded the paper. . . . Ought to liven up the Russian bonds a bit. Veterans Visit President. . . . Another Accident on Eleventh Avenue Tracks. Milkman seriously injured. Hello, that'd make a neat little damage suit.
Augustus McNiel, 253 W. 4th Street, who drives a milkwagon for the Excelsior Dairy Co. was severely injured early this morning when a freight train backing down the New York Central tracks . . .
He ought to sue the railroad. By gum I ought to get hold of that man and make him sue the railroad. . . . Not yet recovered consciousness. . . . Maybe he's dead. Then his wife can sue them all the more. . . . I'll go to the hospital this very afternoon. . . . Get in ahead of any of these shysters. He took a determined bite of bread and chewed it vigorously. Of course not; I'll go to the house and see if there isn't a wife or mother or something: Forgive me Mrs. McNiel if I intrude upon your deep affliction, but I am engaged in an investigation at this moment. . . . Yes, retained by prominent interests. . . . He drank up the last of the coffee and paid the bill.
Repeating 253 W. 4th Street over and over he boarded an uptown car on Broadway. Walking west along 4th he skirted Washington Square. The trees spread branches of brittle purple into a dovecolored sky; the largewindowed houses opposite glowed very pink, nonchalant, prosperous. The very place for a lawyer with a large conservative practice to make his residence. We'll just see about that. He crossed Sixth Avenue and followed the street into the dingy West Side, where there was a smell of stables and the sidewalks were littered with scraps of garbage and crawling children. Imagine living down here among low Irish and foreigners, the scum of the universe. At 253 there were several unmarked bells, A woman with gingham sleeves rolled up on sausageshaped arms stuck a gray mophead out the window.
"Can you tell me if Augustus McNiel lives here?"
"Him that's up there alayin in horspital. Sure he does."
"That's it. And has he any relatives living here?"
"An what would you be wantin wid 'em?"
"It's a little matter of business."
"Go up to the top floor an you'll foind his wife there but most likely she cant see yez. . . . The poor thing's powerful wrought up about her husband, an them only eighteen months married."
The stairs were tracked with muddy footprints and sprinkled here and there with the spilling of ashcans. At the top he found a freshpainted darkgreen door and knocked.
"Who's there?" came a girl's voice that sent a little shiver through him. Must be young.
"Is Mrs. McNiel in?"
"Yes," came the lilting girl's voice again. "What is it?"
"It's a matter of business about Mr. McNiel's accident."
"About the accident is it?" The door opened in little cautious jerks. She had a sharpcut pearly white nose and chin and a pile of wavy redbrown hair that lay in little flat curls round her high narrow forehead. Gray eyes sharp and suspicious looked him hard in the face.
"May I speak to you a minute about Mr. McNiel's accident? There are certain legal points involved that I feel it my duty to make known to you. . . . By the way I hope he's better."
"Oh yes he's come to."
"May I come in? It's a little long to explain."
"I guess you can." Her pouting lips flattened into a wry smile. "I guess you wont eat me."
"No honestly I wont." He laughed nervously in his throat.
She led the way into the darkened sitting room. "I'm not pulling up the shades so's you wont see the pickle everythin's in."
"Allow me to introduce myself, Mrs. McNiel. . . . George Baldwin, 88 Maiden Lane. . . . You see I make a specialty of cases like this. . . . To put the whole matter in a nutshell. . . . Your husband was run down and nearly killed through the culpable or possibly criminal negligence of the employees of the New York Central Railroad. There is full and ample cause for a suit against the railroad. Now I have reason to believe that the Excelsior Dairy Company will bring suit for the losses incurred, horse and wagon etcetera. . . ."
"You mean you think Gus is more likely to get damages himself?"
"How much do you think he could get?"
"Why that depends on how badly hurt he is, on the attitude of the court, and perhaps on the skill of the lawyer. . . . I think ten thousand dollars is a conservative figure."
"And you dont ask no money down?"
"The lawyer's fee is rarely paid until the case is brought to a successful termination."
"An you're a lawyer, honest? You look kinder young to be a lawyer."
The gray eyes flashed in his. They both laughed. He felt a warm inexplicable flush go through him.
"I'm a lawyer all the same. I make a specialty of cases like these. Why only last Tuesday I got six thousand dollars for a client who was kicked by a relay horse riding on the loop. . . . Just at this moment as you may know there is considerable agitation for revoking altogether the franchise of the Eleventh Avenue tracks. ... I think this is a most favorable moment."
"Say do you always talk like that, or is it just business?"
He threw back his head and laughed.
"Poor old Gus, I always said he had a streak of luck in him."
The wail of a child crept thinly through the partition into the room.
"It's only the baby. . . . The little wretch dont do nothin but squall."
"So you've got children Mrs. McNiel?" The thought chilled him somehow.
"Juss one . . . what kin ye expect?"
"Is it the Emergency Hospital?"
"Yes I reckon they'll let you see him as it's a matter of business. He's groanin somethin dreadful."
"Now if I could get a few good witnesses."
"Mike Doheny seen it all. . . . He's on the force. He's a good frien of Gus's."
"By gad we've got a case and a half. . . . Why they'll settle out of court. . . . I'll go right up to the hospital."
A fresh volley of wails came from the other room.
"Oh, that brat," she whispered, screwing up her face.
"We could use the money all right Mr. Baldwin. . . ."
"Well I must go." He picked up his hat. "And I certainly will do my best in this case. May I come by and report progress to you from time to time?"
"I hope you will."
When they shook hands at the door he couldn't seem to let go her hand. She blushed.
"Well goodby and thank you very much for callin," she said stiffly.
Baldwin staggered dizzily down the stairs. His head was full of blood. The most beautiful girl I've ever seen in my life. Outside it had begun to snow. The snowflakes were cold furtive caresses to his hot cheeks.
The sky over the Park was mottled with little tiptailed clouds like a field of white chickens.
"Look Alice, lets us go down this little path."
"But Ellen, my dad told me to come straight home from school."
"But Ellen those dreadful kidnappers. . . ."
"I told you not to call me Ellen any more."
"Well Elaine then, Elaine the lily maid of Astalot."
Ellen had on her new Black Watch plaid dress. Alice wore glasses and had legs thin as hairpins.
"They're dreadful men sitting on that bench. Come along Elaine the fair, let's go home."
"I'm not scared of them. I could fly like Peter Pan if I wanted to."
"Why dont you do it?"
"I dont want to just now."
Alice began to whimper. "Oh Ellen I think you're mean. . . . Come along home Elaine."
"No I'm going for a walk in the Park."
Ellen started down the steps. Alice stood a minute on the top step balancing first on one foot then on the other.
"Scaredy scaredy scarecat!" yelled Ellen.
Alice ran off blubbering. "I'm goin to tell your mommer."
Ellen walked down the asphalt path among the shrubbery kicking her toes in the air.
Ellen in her new dress of Black Watch plaid mummy'd bought at Hearn's walked down the asphalt path kicking her toes in the air. There was a silver thistle brooch on the shoulder of the new dress of Black Watch plaid mummy'd bought at Hearn's. Elaine of Lammermoor was going to be married. The Betrothed. Wangnaan nainainai, went the bagpipes going through the rye. The man on the bench has a patch over his eye. A watching black patch. A black watching patch. The kidnapper of the Black Watch, among the rustling shrubs kidnappers keep their Black Watch. Ellen's toes dont kick in the air. Ellen is terribly scared of the kidnapper of the Black Watch, big smelly man of the Black Watch with a patch over his eye. She's scared to run. Her heavy feet scrape on the asphalt as she tries to run fast down the path. She's scared to turn her head. The kidnapper of the Black Watch is right behind. When I get to the lamppost I'll run as far as the nurse and the baby, when I get to the nurse and the baby I'll run as far as the big tree, when I get to the big tree. . . . Oh I'm so tired. . . . I'll run out onto Central Park West and down the street home. She was scared to turn round. She ran with a stitch in her side. She ran till her mouth tasted like pennies.
"What are you running for Ellie?" asked Gloria Drayton who was skipping rope outside the Norelands.
"Because I wanted to," panted Ellen.
Winey afterglow stained the muslin curtains and filtered into the blue gloom of the room. They stood on either side of the table. Out of a pot of narcissus still wrapped in tissue paper starshaped flowers gleamed with dim phosphorescence, giving off a damp earthsmell enmeshed in indolent prickly perfume.
"It was nice of you to bring me these Mr. Baldwin. I'll take them up to Gus at the hospital tomorrow."
"For God's sake dont call me that."
"But I dont like the name of George."
"I dont care, I like your name, Nellie."
He stood looking at her; perfumed weights coiled about his arms. His hands dangled like empty gloves. Her eyes were black, dilating, her lips pouting towards him across the flowers. She jerked her hands up to cover her face. His arm was round her little thin shoulders.
"But honest Georgy, we've got to be careful. You mustn't come here so often. I dont want all the old hens in the house to start talkin."
"Dont worry about that. . . . We mustn't worry about anything."
"I've been actin' like I was crazy this last week. . . . I've got to quit."
"You dont think I've been acting naturally, do you? I swear to God Nellie I've never done anything like this before. I'm not that kind of a person."
She showed her even teeth in a laugh. "Oh you kin never tell about men."
"But if it weren't something extraordinary and exceptional you dont think I'd be running after you this way do you? I've never been in love with anybody but you Nellie."
"That's a good one."
"But it's true. . . . I've never gone in for that sort of thing. I've worked too hard getting through lawschool and all that to have time for girls."
"Makin up for lost time I should say."
"Oh Nellie dont talk like that."
"But honestly Georgy I've got to cut this stuff out. What'll we do when Gus comes out of the hospital? An I'm neglectin the kid an everythin."
"Christ I dont care what happens. . . . Oh Nellie." He pulled her face round. They clung to each other swaying, mouths furiously mingling.
"Look out we almost had the lamp over."
"God you're wonderful, Nellie." Her head had dropped on his chest, he could feel the pungence of her tumbled hair all through him. It was dark. Snakes of light from the streetlamp wound greenly about them. Her eyes looked up into his frighteningly solemnly black.
"Look Nellie lets go in the other room," he whispered in a tiny trembling voice.
"Baby's in there."
They stood apart with cold hands looking at each other.
"Come here an help me. I'll move the cradle in here. . . . Careful not to wake her or she'll bawl her head off." Her voice crackled huskily.
The baby was asleep, her Httle rubbery face tight closed, minute pink fists clenched on the coverlet.
"She looks happy," he said with a forced titter.
"Keep quiet cant you. . . . Here take yer shoes off. . . . There's been enough trampin o men's shoes up here. . . . Georgy I wouldn't do this, but I juss cant help. . . ."
He fumbled for her in the dark. "You darling. . . ." Clumsy he brooded over her, breathing crazily deep.
"Flatfoot you're stringin us. . . ."
"I aint, honest I'd swear by me muder's grave it's de trutt. . . . Latitude toityseven soutt by twelve west. . . . You go dere an see. . . . On dat island we made in de second officer's boat when de Elliot P. Simkins foundered der was four males and fortyseven females includin women an children. Waren't it me dat tole de reporter guy all about it an it came out in all de Sunday papers?"
"But Flatfoot how the hell did they ever get you away from there?"
"Dey carried me off on a stretcher or I'm a cockeyed lyer. I'll be a sonofabitch if I warnt founderin, goin down by de bows like de ole Elliot P."
Heads tossed back on thick necks let out volleys of laughter, glasses were banged on the round ringmarked table, thighs resounded with slaps, elbows were poked into ribs.
"An how many guys was in de boat?"
"Six includin Mr. Dorkins de second officer."
"Seven and four makes eleven. . . . Jez. . . . Four an three-elevenths broads per capita. . . . Some island."
"When does the next ferry leave?"
"Better have another drink on that. . . . Hay Charlie fill 'em up."
Emile pulled at Congo's elbow. "Come outside a sec, J'ai que'quechose a te dire." Congo's eyes were wet, he staggered a little as he followed Emile into the outer bar. "O le p'tit mysterieux."
"Look here, I've got to go call on a lady friend."
"Oh that's what's eating you is it? I always said you was a wise guy Emile."
"Look, here's my address on a piece of paper in case you forget it: 945 West 22nd. You can come and sleep there if you're not too pickled, and dont you bring any friends or women or anything. I'm in right with the landlady and I dont want to spoil it. . . . Tu comprends."
"But I wanted you to come on a swell party. . . . Faut faire un peu la noce, nom de dieu! . . ."
"I got to work in the morning."
"But I got eight months' pay in my pocket. . . .
"Anyway come round tomorrow at about six. I'll wait for you."
"Tu m'emmerdes tu sais avec tes manières;" Congo aimed a jet of saliva at the spittoon in the corner of the bar and turned back frowning into the inside room.
"Hay dere sit down Congo; Barney's goin to sing de Bastard King of England."
Emile jumped on a streetcar and rode uptown. At Eighteenth Street he got off and walked west to Eighth Avenue. Two doors from the corner was a small store. Over one window was Confiserie, over the other Delicatessen. In the middle of the glass door white enamel letters read Emile Rigaud, High Class Table Dainties. Emile went in. The bell jangled on the door. A dark stout woman with black hairs over the corners of her mouth was drowsing behind the counter, Emile took off his hat.
"Bonsoir Madame Rigaud." She looked up with a start, then showed two dimples in a profound smile.
"Tieng c'est comma ça qu'ong oublie ses ami-es," she said in a booming Bordelais voice. "Here's a week that I say to myself, Monsieur Loustec is forgetting his friends."
"I never have any time any more."
"Lots of work, lots of money, being?" When she laughed her shoulders shook and the big breasts under the tight blue bodice.
Emile screwed up one eye. "Might be worse. . . . But I'm sick of waiting. . . . It's so tiring; nobody regards a waiter."
"You are a man of ambition, Monsieur Loustec,"
"Que voulez vous?" He blushed, and said timidly "My name's Emile."
Mme. Rigaud rolled her eyes towards the ceiling. "That was my dead husband's name. I'm used to that name." She sighed heavily.
"And how's business?"
"Comma ci comma ça. . . . Ham's gone up again."
"It's the Chicago ring's doing that. . . . A corner in pork, that's the way to make money."
Emile found Mme. Rigaud's bulgy black eyes probing his. "I enjoyed your singing so last time. . . . I've thought of it often. . . . Music does one good dont it?" Mme. Rigaud's dimples stretched and stretched as she smiled. "My poor husband had no ear. . . . That gave me a great deal of pain."
"Couldn't you sing me something this evening?"
"If you want me to, Emile? . . . But there is nobody to wait on customers."
"I'll run in when we hear the bell, if you will permit me."
"Very well. . . . I've learned a new American song . . . C'est chic vous savez."
Mme. Rigaud locked the till with a key from the bunch that hung at her belt and went through the glass door in the back of the shop. Emile followed with his hat in his hand.
"Give me your hat Emile."
"Oh dont trouble yourself."
The room beyond was a little parlor with yellow flowered wallpaper, old salmon pink portieres and, under the gasbracket from which hung a bunch of crystals, a piano with photographs on it. The pianostool creaked when Mme. Rigaud sat down. She ran her fingers over the keys. Emile sat carefully on the very edge of the chair beside the piano with his hat on his knees and pushed his face forward so that as she played she could see it out of the corner of her eye tilted up towards hers. Madame Rigaud began to sing:
Just a birrd in a geelded cage
A beauteeful sight to see
You'd tink se vas 'appee
And free from all care
Se's not zo se seems to be. . . .
The bell on the door of the shop jangled loud.
"Permettez," cried Emile running out.
"Half a pound o bolony sausage sliced," said a little girl with pigtails. Emile passed the knife across the palm of his hand and sliced the sausage carefully. He tiptoed back into the parlor and put the money on the edge of the piano. Madame Rigaud was still singing:
Tis sad ven you tink of a vasted life
For yout cannot mate vit age
Beautee vas soooold
For an old man's gooold
Se's a birrd in a geelded cage.
Bud stood on the corner of West Broadway and Franklin Street eating peanuts out of a bag. It was noon and his money was all gone. The Elevated thundered overhead. Dustmotes danced before his eyes in the girderstriped sunlight. Wondering which way to go he spelled out the names of the streets for the third time. A black shiny cab drawn by two black shinyrumped horses turned the corner sharp in front of him with a rasp on the cobblestones of red shiny wheels suddenly braked. There was a yellow leather trunk on the seat beside the driver. In the cab a man in a brown derby talked loud to a woman with a gray feather boa round her neck and gray ostrich plumes in her hat. The man jerked a revolver up to his mouth. The horses reared and plunged in the middle of a shoving crowd. Policemen elbowing through. They had the man out on the curbstone vomiting blood, head hanging limp over his checked vest. The woman stood tall and white beside him twisting her feather boa in her hands, the gray plumes in her hat nodding in the striped sunlight under the elevated.
"His wife was taking him to Europe. . . . The Deutschland sailing at twelve. I'd said goodby to him forever. He was sailing on the Deutschland at twelve. He'd said goodby to me forever."
"Git oute de way dere;" a cop jabbed Bud in the stomach with his elbow. His knees trembled. He got to the edge of the crowd and walked away trembling. Mechanically he shelled a peanut and put it in his mouth. Better save the rest till evenin. He twisted the mouth of the bag and dropped it into his pocket.
Under the arclight that spluttered pink and green-edged violet the man in the checked suit passed two girls. The full-lipped oval face of the girl nearest to him; her eyes were like a knifethrust. He walked a few paces then turned and followed them fingering his new satin necktie. He made sure the horseshoe diamond pin was firm in its place. He passed them again. Her face was turned away. Maybe she was. . . . No he couldn't tell. Good luck he had fifty dollars on him. He sat on a bench and let them pass him. Wouldnt do to make a mistake and get arrested. They didnt notice him. He followed them down the path and out of the Park. His heart was pounding. I'd give a million dollars for . . . Pray pardon me, isn't this Miss Anderson? The girls walked fast. In the crowd crossing Columbus Circle he lost sight of them. He hurried down Broadway block after block. The full lips, the eyes like the thrust of a knife. He stared in girls' faces right and left. Where could she have gone? He hurried on down Broadway.
Ellen was sitting beside her father on a bench at the Battery. She was looking at her new brown button shoes. A glint of sunlight caught on the toes and on each of the little round buttons when she swung her feet out from under the shadow of her dress.
"Think how it'd be," Ed Thatcher was saying, "to go abroad on one of those liners. Imagine crossing the great Atlantic in seven days."
"But daddy what do people do all that time on a boat?"
"I dunno . . . I suppose they walk round the deck and play cards and read and all that sort of thing. Then they have dances."
"Dances on a boat! I should think it'd be awful tippy." Ellen giggled.
"On the big modern liners they do."
"Daddy why dont we go?"
"Maybe we will some day if I can save up the money."
"Oh daddy do hurry up an save a lot of money. Alice Vaughan's mother an father go to the White Mountains every summer, but next summer they're going abroad."
Ed Thatcher looked out across the bay that stretched in blue sparkling reaches into the brown haze towards the Narrows. The statue of Liberty stood up vague as a sleepwalker among the curling smoke of tugboats and the masts of schooners and the blunt lumbering masses of brickbarges and sandscows. Here and there the glary sun shone out white on a sail or on the superstructure of a steamer. Red ferryboats shuttled back and forth.
"Daddy why arent we rich?"
"There are lots of people poorer than us Ellie. . . . You wouldn't like your daddy any better if he were rich would you?"
"Oh yes I would daddy."
Thatcher laughed. "Well it might happen someday. . . . How would you like the firm of Edward C. Thatcher and Co., Certified Accountants?"
Ellen jumped to her feet: "Oh look at that big boat. . . . That's the boat I want to go on."
"That there's the Harabic," croaked a cockney voice beside them.
"Oh is it really?" said Thatcher.
"Indeed it is, sir; as fahne a ship as syles the sea sir," explained eagerly a frayed creakyvoiced man who sat on the bench beside them. A cap with a broken patentleather visor was pulled down over a little peaked face that exuded a faded smell of whiskey. "Yes sir, the Harabic sir."
"Looks like a good big boat that does."
"One of the biggest afloat sir. I syled on er many's the tahme and on the Majestic and the Teutonic too sir, fahne ships both, though a bit light'eaded in a sea as you might say. I've signed as steward on the Hinman and White Star lahnes these thirty years and now in me old age they've lyed me hoff."
"Oh well, we all have hard luck sometimes."
"And some of us as it hall the tahme sir. . . . I'd be a appy man sir, if I could get back to the old country. This arent any plyce for an old man, it's for the young and strong, this is." He drew a gout-twisted hand across the bay and pointed to the statue. "Look at er, she's alookin towards Hengland she is."
"Daddy let's go away. I dont like this man," whispered Ellen tremulously in her father's ear.
"All right we'll go and take a look at the sealions. . . . Good day."
"You couldn't fahnd me the price of a cup o coffee, could you now sir? I'm fair foundered." Thatcher put a dime in the grimy knobbed hand.
"But daddy, mummy said never to let people speak to you in the street an to call a policeman if they did an to run away as fast as you could on account of those horrible kidnappers."
"No danger of their kidnapping me Ellie. That's just for little girls."
"When I grow up will I be able to talk to people on the street like that?"
"No deary you certainly will not."
"If I'd been a boy could I?"
"I guess you could."
In front of the Aquarium they stopped a minute to look down the bay. The liner with a tug puffing white smoke against either bow was abreast of them towering above the ferryboats and harborcraft. Gulls wheeled and screamed. The sun shone creamily on the upper decks and on the big yellow blackcapped funnel. From the foremast a string of little flags fluttered jauntily against the slate sky.
"And there are lots of people coming over from abroad on that boat arent there daddy?"
"Look you can see . . . the decks are black with people."
Walking across Fiftythird Street from the East River Bud Korpenning found himself standing beside a pile of coal on the sidewalk. On the other side of the pile of coal a grayhaired woman in a flounced lace shirtwaist with a big pink cameo poised on the curve of her high bosom was looking at his stubbly chin and at the wrists that hung raw below the frayed sleeves of his coat. Then he heard himself speak:
"Dont spose I could take that load of coal in back for you ma'am?" Bud shifted his weight from one foot to the other.
"That's just what you could do," the woman said in a cracked voice. "That wretched coal man left it this morning and said he'd be back to bring it in. I suppose he's drunk like the rest of them. I wonder if I can trust you in the house."
"I'm from upstate ma'am," stammered Bud.
"Hum. . . . I'm from Buffalo, This is certainly the city for everyone being from somewhere else. . . . Well you're probably a burglar's accomplice, but I cant help it I've got to have that coal in. . . . Come in my man, I'll give you a shovel and a basket and if you dont drop any in the passage or on the kitchen floor, because the scrubwoman's just left . . . naturally the coal had to come when the floor was clean. . . . I'll give you a dollar."
When he carried in the first load she was hovering in the kitchen. His caving hungersniff stomach made him totter lightheadedly, but he was happy to be working instead of dragging his feet endlessly along pavements, across streets, dodging drays and carts and streetcars.
"How is it you haven't got a regular job my man," she asked as he came back breathless with the empty basket.
"I reckon it's as I aint caught on to city ways yet. I was born an raised on a farm."
"And what did you want to come to this horrible city for?"
"Couldn't stay on the farm no more."
"It's terrible what's going to become of this country if all the fine strong young men leave the farms and come into the cities."
"Thought I could git a work as a longshoreman, ma'am, but they're layin' men off down on the wharves. Mebbe I kin go to sea as a sailor but nobody wants a green hand. . . . I aint et for two days now."
"How terrible. . . . Why you poor man couldn't you have gone to some mission or something?"
When Bud had brought the last load in he found a plate of cold stew on the corner of the kitchen table, half a loaf of stale bread and a glass of milk that was a little sour. He ate quickly barely chewing and put the last of the stale bread in his pocket.
"Well did you enjoy your little lunch?"
"Thankye ma'am." He nodded with his mouth full.
"Well you can go now and thank you very much." She put a quarter into his hand. Bud blinked at the quarter in the palm of his hand.
"But ma'am you said you'd give me a dollar,"
"I never said any such thing. The idea. . . . I'll call my husband if you dont get out of here immediately. In fact I've a great mind to notify the police as it is. . . ."
Without a word Bud pocketed the quarter and shuffled out.
"Such ingratitude," he heard the woman snort as he closed the door behind him.
A cramp was tying knots in his stomach. He turned east again and walked the long blocks to the river with his fists pressed tight in under his ribs. At any moment he expected to throw up. If I lose it it wont do me no good. When he got to the end of the street he lay down on the gray rubbish slide beside the wharf. A smell of hops seeped gruelly and sweet out of the humming brewery behind him. The light of the sunset flamed in the windows of factories on the Long Island side, flashed in the portholes of tugs, lay in swaths of curling yellow and orange over the swift browngreen water, glowed on the curved sails of a schooner that was slowly bucking the tide up into Hell Gate. Inside him the pain was less. Something flamed and glowed like the sunset seeping through his body. He sat up. Thank Gawd I aint agoin to lose it.
On deck it's damp and shivery in the dawn. The ship's rail is wet when you put your hand on it. The brown harbor-water smells of washbasins, rustles gently against the steamer's sides. Sailors are taking the hatches off the hold. There's a rattle of chains and a clatter from the donkey-engine where a tall man in blue overalls stands at a lever in the middle of a cloud of steam that wraps round your face like a wet towel.
"Muddy is it really the Fourth of July?"
Mother's hand has grasped his firmly trailing him down the companionway into the dining saloon. Stewards are piling up baggage at the foot of the stairs.
"Muddy is it really the Fourth of July?"
"Yes deary I'm afraid it is. . . . A holiday is a dreadful time to arrive. Still I guess they'll all be down to meet us."
She has her blue serge on and a long trailing brown veil and the little brown animal with red eyes and teeth that are real teeth round her neck. A smell of mothballs comes from it, of unpacking trunks, of wardrobes littered with tissue-paper. It's hot in the dining saloon, the engines sob soothingly behind the bulkhead. His head nods over his cup of hot milk just colored with coffee. Three bells. His head snaps up with a start. The dishes tinkle and the coffee spills with the trembling of the ship. Then a thud and rattle of anchorchains and gradually quiet. Muddy gets up to look through the porthole.
"Why it's going to be a fine day after all. I think the sun will burn through the mist. . . . Think of it dear; home at last. This is where you were born deary."
"And it's the Fourth of July."
"Worst luck. . . . Now Jimmy you must promise me to stay on the promenade deck and be very careful. Mother has to finish packing. Promise me you wont get into any mischief."
He catches his toe on the brass threshold of the smoking-room door and sprawls on deck, gets up rubbing his bare knee just in time to see the sun break through chocolate clouds and swash a red stream of brightness over the putty-colored water. Billy with the freckles on his ears whose people are for Roosevelt instead of for Parker like mother is waving a silk flag the size of a handkerchief at the men on a yellow and white tugboat.
"Didjer see the sun rise?" he asks as if he owned it.
"You bet I saw it from my porthole," says Jimmy walking away after a lingering look at the silk flag. There's land close on the other side; nearest a green bank with trees and wide white grayroofed houses.
"Well young feller, how does it feel to be home?" asks the tweedy gentleman with droopy mustaches.
"Is that way New York?" Jimmy points out over the still water broadening in the sunlight.
"Yessiree-bobby, behind yonder bank of fog lies Manhattan."
"Please sir what's that?"
"That's New York. . . . You see New York is on Manhattan Island."
"Is it really on an island?"
"Well what do you think of a boy who dont know that his own home town is on an island?"
The tweedy gentleman's gold teeth glitter as he laughs with his mouth wide open. Jimmy walks on round the deck, kicking his heels, all foamy inside; New York's on an island.
"You look right glad to get home little boy," says the Southern lady.
"Oh I am, I could fall down and kiss the ground."
"Well that's a fine patriotic sentiment. . . . I'm glad to hear you say it."
Jimmy scalds all over. Kiss the ground, kiss the ground, echoes in his head like a catcall. Round the deck.
"That with the yellow flag's the quarantine boat." A stout man with rings on his fingers—he's a Jew—is talking to the tweedy man. "Ha we're under way again. . . . That was quick, what?"
"We'll be in for breakfast, an American breakfast, a good old home breakfast."
Muddy coming down the deck, her brown veil floating. "Here's your overcoat Jimmy, you've got to carry it."
"Muddy, can I get out that flag?"
"The silk American flag."
"No dear it's all put away."
"Please I'd so like to have that flag cause it's the Fourth of July an everything."
"Now dont whine Jimmy. When mother says no she means no."
Sting of tears; he swallows a lump and looks up in her eyes.
"Jimmy it's put away in the shawlstrap and mother's so tired of fussing with those wretched bags."
"But Billy Jones has one."
"Look deary you're missing things . . . There's the statue of Liberty." A tall green woman in a dressing gown standing on an island holding up her hand.
"What's that in her hand?"
"That's a light, dear . . . Liberty enlightening the world. . . . And there's Governors Island the other side. There where the trees are . . . and see, that's Brooklyn Bridge. . . . That is a fine sight. And look at all the docks . . . that's the Battery . . . and the masts and the ships . . . and there's the spire of Trinity Church and the Pulitzer building." . . . Mooing of steamboat whistles, ferries red and waddly like ducks churning up white water, a whole train of cars on a barge pushed by a tug chugging beside it that lets out cotton steampuffs all the same size. Jimmy's hands are cold and he's chugging and chugging inside.
"Dear you mustn't get too excited. Come on down and see if mother left anything in the stateroom."
Streak of water crusted with splinters, groceryboxes, orangepeel, cabbageleaves, narrowing, narrowing between the boat and the dock. A brass band shining in the sun, white caps, sweaty red faces, playing Yankee Doodle. "That's for the ambassador, you know the tall man who never left his cabin." Down the slanting gangplank, careful not to trip. Yankee Doodle went to town. . . . Shiny black face, white enameled eyes, white enameled teeth. "Yas ma'am, yas ma'am" . . . Stucka feather in his hat, an called it macaroni. . . . "We have the freedom of the port." Blue custom officer shows a bald head bowing low . . . Tumte boomboom boom boom boom . . . cakes and sugar candy. . . .
"Here's Aunt Emily and everybody. . . . Dear how sweet of you to come."
"My dear I've been here since six o'clock!"
"My how he's grown."
Light dresses, sparkle of brooches, faces poked into Jimmy's, smell of roses and uncle's cigar.
"Why he's quite a little man. Come here sir, let me look at you."
"Well goodby Mrs. Herf. If you ever come down our way. . . . Jimmy I didn't see you kiss the ground young man."
"Oh he's killing, he's so oldfashioned . . . such an oldfashioned child."
The cab smells musty, goes rumbling and lurching up a wide avenue swirling with dust, through brick streets soursmelling full of grimy yelling children, and all the while the trunks creak and thump on top.
"Muddy dear, you dont think it'll break through do you?"
"No dear," she laughs tilting her head to one side. She has pink cheeks and her eyes sparkle under the brown veil.
"Oh muddy." He stands up and kisses her on the chin.
"What lots of people muddy."
"That's on account of the Fourth of July."
"What's that man doing?"
"He's been drinking dear I'm afraid."
From a little stand draped with flags a man with white whiskers with little red garters on his shirtsleeves is making a speech. "That's a Fourth of July orator. . . . He's reading the Declaration of Independence."
"Because it's the Fourth of July."
Crang! . . . that's a cannon-cracker. "That wretched boy might have frightened the horse. . . . The Fourth of July dear is the day the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776 in the War of the Revolution. My great grandfather Harland was killed in that war."
A funny little train with a green engine clatters overhead.
"That's the Elevated . . . and look this is Twentythird Street . . . and the Flatiron Building."
The cab turns sharp into a square glowering with sunlight, smelling of asphalt and crowds and draws up before a tall door where colored men in brass buttons run forward, "And here we are at the Fifth Avenue Hotel."
Icecream at Uncle Jeff's, cold sweet peachy taste thick against the roof of the mouth. Funny after you've left the ship you can still feel the motion. Blue chunks of dusk melting into the squarecut uptown streets. Rockets spurting bright in the blue dusk, colored balls falling, Bengal fire, Uncle Jeff tacking pinwheels on the tree outside the apartmenthouse door, lighting them with his cigar. Roman candles you have to hold. "Be sure and turn your face away, kiddo." Hot thud and splutter in your hands, eggshaped balls soaring, red, yellow, green, smell of powder and singed paper. Down the fizzing glowing street a bell clangs, clangs nearer, clangs faster. Hoofs of lashed horses striking sparks, a fire engine roars by, round the corner red and smoking and brassy. "Must be on Broadway." After it the hookandladder and the firechief's highpacing horses. Then the tinkletinkle of an ambulance. "Somebody got his."
The box is empty, gritty powder and sawdust get under your nails when you feel along it, it's empty, no there are still some little wooden fire engines on wheels. Really truly fire engines. "We must set these off Uncle Jeff. Oh these are the best of all Uncle Jeff." They have squibs in them and go sizzling off fast over the smooth asphalt of the street, pushed by sparkling plumed fiery tails, leaving smoke behind some real fire engines.
Tucked into bed in a tall unfriendly room, with hot eyes and aching legs. "Growing pains darling," muddy said when she tucked him in, leaning over him in a glimmering silk dress with drooping sleeves.
"Muddy what's that little black patch on your face?"
"That," she laughed and her necklace made a tiny tinkling, "is to make mother look prettier."
He lay there hemmed by tall nudging wardrobes and dressers. From outside came the sound of wheels and shouting, and once in a while a band of music in the distance. His legs ached as if they'd fall off, and when he closed his eyes he was speeding through flaring blackness on a red fire engine that shot fire and sparks and colored balls out of its sizzling tail.
The July sun pricked out the holes in the worn shades on the office windows. Gus McNiel sat in the morrischair with his crutches between his knees. His face was white and puffy from months in hospital. Nellie in a straw hat with red poppies rocked herself to and fro in the swivel chair at the desk.
"Better come an set by me Nellie. That lawyer might not like it if he found yez at his desk."
She wrinkled up her nose and got to her feet. "Gus I declare you're scared to death."
"You'd be scared too if you'd had what I'd had wid de railroad doctor pokin me and alookin at me loike I was a jailbird and the Jew doctor the lawyer got tellin me as I was totally in-cap-aciated. Gorry I'm all in. I think he was lyin though."
"Gus you do as I tell ye. Keep yer mouth shut an let the other guys do the talkin',"
"Sure I wont let a peep outa me."
Nellie stood behind his chair and began stroking the crisp hair back from his forehead.
"It'll be great to be home again, Nellie, wid your cookin an all." He put an arm round her waist and drew her to him.
"Juss think, maybe I wont have to do any."
"I don't think I'd loike that so well. . . . Gosh if we dent git that money I dunno how we'll make out."
"Oh pop'll help us like he's been doin."
"Hope to the Lord I aint goin to be sick all me loife."
George Baldwin came in slamming the glass door behind him. He stood looking at the man and his wife a second with his hands in his pockets. Then he said quietly smiling:
"Well it's done people. As soon as the waiver of any further claims is signed the railroad's attorneys will hand me a check for twelve thousand five hundred. That's what we finally compromised on."
"Twelve thousand iron men," gasped Gus. "Twelve thousand five hundred. Say wait a second. . . . Hold me crutches while I go out an git run over again. . . . Wait till I tell McGillycuddy about it. The ole divil'll be throwin hisself in front of a market train. . . . Well Mr. Baldwin sir," Gus propped himself onto his feet. . . . "you're a great man. . . . Aint he Nellie?"
"To be sure he is."
Baldwin tried to keep from looking her in the eye. Spurts of jangling agitation were going through him, making his legs feel weak and trembly.
"I'll tell yez what let's do," said Gus. "Sposin we all take a horsecab up to ole McGillycuddy's an have somethin to wet our whistles in the private bar. . . . My treat, I need a bit of a drink to cheer me up. Come on Nellie."
"I wish I could," said Baldwin, "but I'm afraid I cant. I'm pretty busy these days. But just give me your signature before you go and I'll have the check for you tomorrow. . . . Sign here . . . and here."
McNiel had stumped over to the desk and was leaning over the papers. Baldwin felt that Nellie was trying to make a sign to him. He kept his eyes down. After they had left he noticed her purse, a little leather purse with pansies burned on the back, on the corner of the desk. There was a tap on the glass door. He opened.
"Why wouldn't you look at me?" she said breathlessly low.
"How could I with him here." He held the purse out to her.
She put her arms round his neck and kissed him hard on the mouth. "What are we goin to do? Shall I come in this afternoon? Gus'll be liquorin up to get himself sick again now he's out of the hospital."
"No I cant Nellie. . . . Business . . . business. . . . I'm busy every minute."
"Oh yes you are. . . . All right have it your own way."
She slammed the door.
Baldwin sat at his desk biting his knuckles without seeing the pile of papers he was staring at. "I've got to cut it out," he said aloud and got to his feet. He paced back and forth across the narrow office looking at the shelves of lawbooks and the Gibson girl calendar over the telephone and the dusty square of sunlight by the window. He looked at his watch. Lunchtime. He drew the palm of a hand over his forehead and went to the telephone.
“Rector 1237. . . . Mr. Sandbourne there? . . . Say Phil suppose I come by for you for lunch? Do you want to go out right now? . . . Sure. . . . Say Phil I clinched it, I got the milkman his damages. I’m pleased as the dickens. I’ll set you up to a regular lunch on the strength of it. . . So long. . . ."
He came away from the telephone smiling, took his hat off its hook, fitted it carefully on his head in front of the little mirror over the hatrack, and hurried down the stairs.
On the last flight he met Mr. Emery of Emery & Emery who had their offices on the first floor.
“Well Mr. Baldwin how’s things?” Mr. Emery of Emery & Emery was a flatfaced man with gray hair and eyebrows and a protruding wedgeshaped jaw. “Pretty well sir, pretty well.”
“They tell me you are doing mighty well. . . . Something about the New York Central Railroad.”
“Oh Simsbury and I settled it out of court.”
“Humph,” said Mr. Emery of Emery & Emery.
As they were about to part in the street Mr. Emery said suddenly “Would you care to dine with me and my wife some time?”
“Why . . . er . . . I’d be delighted.”
“T like to see something of the younger fellows in the profession you understand. . . . Well I'll drop you a line. . . . Some evening next week. It would give us a chance to have a chat.”
Baldwin shook a blueveined hand in a shinystarched cuff and went off down Maiden Lane hustling with a springy step through the noon crowd. On Pearl Street he climbed a steep flight of black stairs that smelt of roasting coffee and knocked on a groundglass door.
“Come in,” shouted a bass voice. A swarthy man lanky in his shirtsleeves strode forward to meet him. “Hello George, thought you were never comin'. I'm hongry as hell."
"Phil I'm going to set you up to the best lunch you ever ate in your life."
"Well I'm juss waitin' to be set."
Phil Sandbourne put on his coat, knocked the ashes out of his pipe on the corner of a draftingtable, and shouted into a dark inner office, "Goin out to eat, Mr. Specker."
"All right go ahead," replied a goaty quavering from the inner office.
"How's the old man?" asked Baldwin as they went out the door.
"Ole Specker? Bout on his last legs . . . but he's been thataway for years poa ole soul. Honest George I'd feel mighty mean if any thin happened to poa ole Specker. . . . He's the only honest man in the city of New York, an he's got a head on his shoulders too."
"He's never made anything much by it," said Baldwin.
"He may yet. . . . He may yet. . . . Man you ought to see his plans for allsteel buildins. He's got an idea the skyscraper of the future'll be built of steel and glass. We've been experimenting with vitrous tile recently. . . . cristamighty some of his plans would knock yer eye out. . . . He's got a great sayin about some Roman emperor who found Rome of brick and left it of marble. Well he says he's found New York of brick an that he's goin to leave it of steel . . . steel an glass. I'll have to show you his project for a rebuilt city. It's some pipedream."
They settled on a cushioned bench in the corner of the restaurant that smelled of steak and the grill. Sandbourne stretched his legs out under the table.
"Wow this is luxury," he said.
"Phil let's have a cocktail," said Baldwin from behind the bill of fare. "I tell you Phil, it's the first five years that's the hardest."
"You needn't worry George, you're the hustlin kind. . . . I'm the ole stick in the mud."
“I don’t see why, you can always get a job as a draftsman.”
“That’s a fine future I muss say, to spend ma life with the corner of a draftintable stuck in ma bally. . . . Christamighty man!”
“Well Specker and Sandbourne may be a famous firm yet.”
“People’ll be goin round in flyin machines by that time an you and me’ll be laid out with our toes to the daisies.”
“Here’s luck anyway.”
“Here’s lead in yer pencil, George.”
They drank down the Martinis and started eating their oysters.
“I wonder if it’s true that oysters turn to leather in your stomach when you drink alcohol with em.”
“Search me. . . . Say by the way Phil how are you getting on with that little stenographer you were taking out?”
“Man the food an drink an theaters I’ve wasted on that lil girl. . . . She’s got me run to a standstill. . . . Honest she has. You’re a sensible feller, George, to keep away from the women.”
“Maybe,” said Baldwin slowly and spat an olive stone into his clenched fist.
The first thing they heard was the quavering whistle that came from a little wagon at the curb opposite the entrance to the ferry. A small boy broke away from the group of immigrants that lingered in the ferryhouse and ran over to the little wagon.
“Sure it’s like a steam engine an its fulla monkeynuts,” he yelled running back.
“Padraic you stay here.”
“And this here’s the L station, South Ferry,” went on Tim Halloran who had come down to meet them. “Up thataway’s Battery Park an Bowling Green an Wall Street an th' financial district. . . . Come along Padraic your Uncle Timothy's goin to take ye on th' Ninth Avenoo L."
There were only three people left at the ferrylanding, an old woman with a blue handkerchief on her head and a young woman with a magenta shawl, standing at either end of a big corded trunk studded with brass tacks; and an old man with a greenish stub of a beard and a face lined and twisted like the root of a dead oak. The old woman was whimpering with wet eyes: "Dove andiamo Madonna mia, Madonna mia?" The young woman was unfolding a letter blinking at the ornate writing. Suddenly she went over to the old man, "Non posso leggere," holding out the letter to him. He wrung his hands, letting his head roll back and forth, saying over and over again something she couldn't understand. She shrugged her shoulders and smiled and went back to the trunk. A Sicilian with sideburns was talking to the old woman. He grabbed the trunk by its cord and pulled it over to a spring wagon with a white horse that stood across the street. The two women followed the trunk. The Sicilian held out his hand to the young woman. The old woman still muttering and whimpering hoisted herself painfully onto the back of the wagon. When the Sicilian leaned over to read the letter he nudged the young woman with his shoulder. She stiffened. "Awright," he said. Then as he shook the reins on the horse's back he turned back towards the old woman and shouted, "Cinque le due. . . . Awright."