Page:The Bohemian Review, vol1, 1917.djvu/182

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The Bohemian Review

a barn right across the street, a small fire broke out just as I was leaving the house. Of course they put it out in a jiffy; old rags and bundles of paper were the sole prey of the flames. But I made a long story out of it and they used it too. I had a man burn his right hand and I described the panic among the families in nearby houses. Hurrah! Nine-six lines, Ninety-six pennies.

August 4th, Morning.

Good morning, blue-eyed neighbor! Are you blue-eyed? What does it matter if you are not? I got up very early in the morning, opened the window and dressed as if I wanted to leave the house. Then I closed it, drew the curtain and took my seat next to the window sill. Soon her window was thrown open and I could observe her undisturbed. I am wondering why there is no older woman with her. Perhaps they are two orphans. She is kneeling in front of the crib and she must have been succeesful in rocking the baby to sleep. Maybe the pale infant has not slept at all during the night and his nurse has been watching at his side. She must be praying for her little brother or sister or why should she remain on her knees for so long? She turns her face! Goodness! She cries, tears stream down her cheeks and she looks unceasingly up at the clouds . . . Does she know that she is crying? She dries her eyes. She looks down into the street. She must be waiting for somebody. I open the window carefully. She does not notice it, yet must have heard the creaking of the old worn window sash. Paper is in front of me on the window sill, the pencil is in my hand. If I could only draw other things beside my old horrid caricatures! The letter carrier turns into our street—well, he has nothing for me. It is tragic how anxiously she watches him emerging from one house and disappearing into another. Poor little girl, he has passed your house already. So for him she had been waiting.

She espied me leaning out of my window; she flushed. I did too, if I remember right. She closed her window, and, I feel she weeps again.

I hadn’t noticed that I have not been alone in my room. The milkwoman delivers my daily breakfast, a penny’s worth of milk—milk that strongly resembles the beauty of southern skies—aren’t they famous for their delicate blue hues? Her strange carrying-on today astonishes me. At first she makes elaborate excuses for disturbing me. She says that she knocked twice on the door but that I did not answer (she had never knocked previously). She mentions that she thought I might like cream for breakfast, just for a change and finally she confesses that she would like to ask a favor of me, not for herself, but for someone in the neighborhood. I thought with horror of her asking me to write a petition for someone. But nothing of the kind. “The cobbler’s daughter on the third floor” she said “knows that you are on “a paper”. She is studying to become a “prima donna”. No, she hasn’t a teacher yet, but is practicing hard all by herself.”

“They are very nice, good people, and the girl’s mother would like to know if she could pay you a visit tonight. I am sure you are just the person to tell them how to go about making their daughter a famous singer.”

I hesitated a minute and then graciously gave my consent  But I took occasion to inquire about my neighbor in her garret. “Ah! That woman” was the answer I received. “The Jewess? The poor thing is an unhappy fallen girl, but otherwise she is a good woman; she pays very regularly. She has wealthy parents, and I also believe . . .

I did not listen any farther. “A Jewess—a fallen woman?” The milkwoman seemed to be impatient over my sudden silence and she repeated her question several times: “May I tell the cobbler’s daughter she will be welcome tonight?”

“I shall be glad if you will,” I answered, absentmindedly.

“Good-bye, and thank you.”

“I have not paid you yet.”

“Please don’t mention it”, and out she went, more quickly than I had ever seen a woman of her age move. A bottle of cream—a tip, my first graft.

It is at least a nickel’s worth. But I don’t touch it. I have no appetite this morning.

August 4th, Evening.

I wish I was a real artist, able to draw with a few lines human weaknesses with all their psychological variations!

I lean against the window. The cobbler’s daughter is seated at the chair and is so bashful, as if she did not know how to be at ease; her mother, a fat little woman with red cheeks and an imitation lace shawl around her shoulders, sits on my trunk. We