by James Thurber

                                Copyright, 1935  


The Gentleman Is Cold 
The Departure of Emma Inch 
There's an Owl in My Room 
The Topaz Cufflinks Mystery 
Casuals of the Keys 
A Preface to Dogs 
Guessing Game 
Everything Is Wild 
The State of Bontana 
Mr. Pendly and the Poindexter 
The Indian Sign 
The Private Life of Mr. Bidwell 
The Curb in the Sky 
Mr. Preble Gets Rid of His Wife 
A Portrait of Aunt Ida 
The Luck of Jad Peters 
I Went to Sullivant 
The Civil War Phone-Number Association 
Back to the Grades 
Hell Only Breaks Loose Once 
The Man Who Was Wetly 
If Grant Had Been Drinking at Appomattox 
One More April 
How to See a Bad Play 
How to Listen to a Play 
The Funniest Man You Ever Saw 
The Black Magic of Barney Haller 
The Remarkable Case of Mr. Bruhl 
Something to Say 
Snapshot of a Dog 
The Evening's at Seven 
The Man on the Train 
The Greatest Man in the World 
One Is a Wanderer
A Box to Hide In

The Gentleman Is Cold 

In the first chill days of November it was the subject of sharp 
and rather nasty comment on the part of my friends and col- 
leagues that I went about the draughty streets of town without 
a hat or overcoat. Once even a stranger who passed me in the 
street snarled, "Put on your hat and coat!" It seemed to annoy 
people. They began to insinuate under their breath, and even 
come right out and say, that I was simply trying to look strange 
and different in order to attract attention. This accusation was 
made with increasing bitterness when my hair, which I always 
forget to have cut, began to get very long. It was obvious, my 
friends said, that I walked about the city cold and miserable in 
the hope that people would nudge their companions and say, 
"There goes Jacob Thurman, the eccentric essayist." 

There was, and is, no basis to these charges at all. I have 
reasons, and good reasons, for not wanting to, for, in fact, not 
being able to, wear an overcoat. I have just as good reasons 
about the hat, but I needn't go into them so fully. A week or so 
ago, however, the smirking remarks and mean innuendoes of 
my associates forced me one day to put on my overcoat (I 
couldn't find my hat and I wouldn't buy a new one, because 
when I try one on and peer in the triplicate mirrors they have 
in hat shops, I catch unexpected angles of my face which make 
me look like a slightly ill professor of botany who is also lost). 
The overcoat, which I bought in 1930, after a brief and losing 
battle with a sharp-tongued clerk who was taller than I am, 
does not fit me very well and never did fit me very well. That's 
one reason I don't like to wear it. Another is that it has no 
buttons (it didn't have any buttons after the first week) and is 
extremely difficult to manage in a head wind. In such a wind 
I used to grab for my hat with both hands, thus letting go the 
hold I had on my coat to keep it together in front, and the 
whole thing would belly out all around me. Once, in grabbing 
for my hat (and missing it, for I was a fraction of a second too 
late), I knocked my glasses off and was not only caught in a 
grotesque swirl of overcoat right at the corner of Fifth Avenue 
and Forty-fourth Street but couldn't see a thing. Several people 
stopped and watched the struggle without offering to help until 
finally, when everybody had had his laugh, a woman picked up 
my glasses and handed them to me. "Here's your glasses," she 
tittered, grinning at me as if I were a policeman's horse with a 
sunbonnet. I put the glasses on, gathered the coat together, and 
walked off with as much dignity as I could, leaving my hat 
swirling along the street under the wheels of traffic. 

It was the twentieth of November this winter that I finally 
put on my overcoat for the first time. It is a heavy gray one, 
and looks a little like a dog bed because the strap on the inside 
of the collar broke and the coat had been lying on the floor 
of my closet for almost a year. I carried it downstairs from my 
hotel room to the lobby, and didn't start to put it on until I 
had reached the revolving doors leading to the street. I had 
just got one arm into a sleeve when I was suddenly grabbed 
from behind, a hand shot up under the coat, jerked my under- 
coat sharply down, and I fell backward, choking, into the arms 
of the hotel doorman, who had come to my assistance. He is a 
powerfully built man who brooks no denial of, or interference 
with, his little attentions and services. He didn't exactly throw 
me, but I took a pretty bad tossing around. 

From the hotel I went, in a badly disturbed state of mind, to 
my barber's, and I was just reaching into a pocket of the over- 
coat for my cigarettes and matches when the coat was whisked 
off me from behind. This was done with great firmness but no 
skill by the colored porter and bootblack who sneaks up behind 
people at Joe's barbershop and tears their overcoats off their 
backs. This porter is not so powerfully built as the doorman at 
my hotel, but he is sinewy and in excellent condition. Further- 
more, he was not wearing an overcoat himself, and the man 
who is wearing an overcoat is at a great disadvantage in a 
struggle. This porter is also a coat-tugger, belonging to that 
school of coat-tuggers who reach up under your overcoat after 
they have helped you on with it and jerk the back of your 
suit jacket so savagely that the collar of the jacket is pulled 
away from its proper set around the shoulders and makes you 
feel loutish and miserable. There is nothing to do about this 
except give the man a dime. 

It wasn't, however, until I went with some fine acquaintances 
of mine to an excellent restaurant that night that I got into my 
old familiar plight with the ripped lining of the left sleeve. 
After dining, the gentlemen in the party were helped on with 
their coats by one of those slim, silent waiters with the cold and 
fishy eye of an art critic. He got me adroitly into the right 
sleeve of my overcoat, and then I stuck my left arm smoothly 
into the lining of the other sleeve. Running an arm into the 
ripped lining of an overcoat while people, both acquaintances 
and strangers, look on and the eye of the struggling waiter 
gets colder and colder, is one of the most humiliating experi- 
ences known to the American male. After it was finally 
straightened out and I got my arm through the sleeve, I 
couldn't find any money for a tip; I couldn't even find a dime. 
I don't like to dwell on that incident. 

After leaving the restaurant, we went to a theatre, and there 
another reason I do not like to wear an overcoat and never will 
wear an overcoat again reared its terrifying head. In taking off 
my overcoat to hand it to the unsympathetic hat-check boy, I 
took off with it the jacket to my dinner clothes and was left 
standing in the crowded and well-dressed lounge in my shirt- 
sleeves, with a section of my suspenders plainly visible through 
the armhole of my waistcoat. So speedily do hat-check boys 
work that my overcoat and jacket had been whisked to the 
back of the hat-check room and hung up under a couple of 
other overcoats before I could do anything about it. The eight 
or ten seconds that went by before I recovered my dinner jacket 
were among the worst moments of my life. The only worse 
experience I can think of was the time my suitcase flopped 
open on the Madison Avenue car tracks when I was hurrying 
to make a train at Grand Central. 

I tried to pass off the episode of the dinner jacket non- 
chalantly, but succeeded only in lapsing into that red-faced 
fixed grin which no truly well-poised man-about-town ever 
permits himself to lapse into. I reached for my cigarettes, but 
I found that I had left them in a pocket of my overcoat, so in 
order to have something to do with my hands—for people were 
still staring and leering—I gracefully pulled a neatly folded 
handkerchief from the breast pocket of my dinner jacket, only 
to discover when I shook it out that it was a clean white silk 
sock. The last time I had dressed for dinner, I had been unable 
to find a fresh handkerchief, and after considerable effort had 
finally folded the sock and tucked it into the pocket of my 
jacket in such a way that it looked like a handkerchief. Of 
course, on that occasion I had remembered not to pull the 
handkerchief out. I had remembered this by grimly repeating 
it to myself all evening, but that had been several nights before 
and I had completely forgotten about the sock. 

I would never have brought out all these humiliating revela- 
tions had it not been for the fact that even those persons who 
know me best, for a modest, unassuming man, had really come 
to believe that I went around town without an overcoat in 
order to make the same kind of impression that Oscar Wilde 
made with his sunflower or Sean O'Casey with his brown 
sweater. I simply want to be mentally at ease, and I have 
found out after years of experience that I cannot be mentally at 
ease and at the same time wear an overcoat. Going without an 
overcoat in bitter weather has, God knows, its special humilia- 
tions, but having a kindly old lady come up to me on the street 
and hand me a dime is nothing compared to the horrors I went 
through when I wore an overcoat, or tried to wear one. 

The Departure of Emma Inch 

Emma Inch looked no different from any other middle-aged, 
thin woman you might glance at in the subway or deal with 
across the counter of some small store in a country town, and 
then forget forever. Her hair was drab and unabundant, her 
face made no impression on you, her voice I don't remember - 
it was just a voice. She came to us with a letter of recommenda- 
tion from some acquaintance who knew that we were going to 
Mardia's Vineyard for the summer and wanted a cook. We 
took her because there was nobody else, and she seemed all 
right. She had arrived at our hotel in Forty-fifth Street the 
day before we were going to leave and we got her a room for 
the night, because she lived way uptown somewhere. She said 
she really ought to go back and give up her room, but I told 
her I'd fix that. 

Emma Inch had a big scuffed brown suitcase with her, and 
a Boston bull terrier. His name was Feely. Feely was seventeen 
years old and he grumbled and growled and snuffled all the 
time, but we needed a cook and we agreed to take Feely along 
with Emma Inch, if she would take care of him and keep him 
out of the way. It turned out to be easy to keep Feely out of 
the way because he would lie grousing anywhere Emma put 
him until she came and picked him up again. I never saw him 
walk. Emma had owned him, she said, since he was a pup. He 
was all she had in the world, she told us, with a mist in her 
eyes. I felt embarrassed but not touched. I didn't see how any- 
body could love Feely. 

I didn't lose any sleep about Emma Inch and Feely the night 
of the day they arrived, but my wife did. She told me next 
morning that she had lain awake a long time thinking about 
the cook and her dog, because she felt kind of funny about 
them. She didn't know why. She just had a feeling that they 
were kind of funny. When we were all ready to leave—it was 
about three o'clock in the afternoon, for we had kept putting 
off the packing—I phoned Emma's room, but she didn't an- 
swer. It was getting late and we felt nervous—the Fall River 
boat would sail in about two hours. We couldn't understand 
why we hadn't heard anything from Emma and Feely. It 
wasn't until four o'clock that we did. There was a small rap I 
on the door of our bedroom and I opened it and Emma and 
Feely were there, Feely in her arms, snuffing and snaffling, as ; 
if he had been swimming a long way. 

My wife told Emma to get her bag packed, we were leaving 
in a little while. Emma said her bag was packed, except for her 
electric fan, and she couldn't get that in. "You won't need am 
electric fan at the Vineyard," my wife told her. "It's cool there, . 
even during the day, and it's almost cold at night. Besides, there 
is no electricity in the cottage we are going to." Emma Inch 
seemed distressed. She studied my wife's face. "I'll have to 
think of something else then," she said. "Mebbe I could let the 
water run all night." We both sat down and looked at her. 
Feely's asthmatic noises were the only sounds in the room for 
a while. "Doesn't that dog ever stop that ?" I asked, irritably. 
"Oh, he's just talking," said Emma. "He talks all the time, but 
I'll keep him in my room and he won't bother you none." 
"Doesn't he bother you?" I asked. "He would bother me," said 
Emma, "at night, but I put the electric fan on and keep the 
light burning. He don't make so much noise when it's light, 
because he don't snore. The fan kind of keeps me from noticing 
him. I put a piece of cardboard, like, where the fan hits it and 
then I don't notice Feely so much. Mebbe I could let the water 
run in my room all night instead of the fan." I said "Hmmm" 
and got up and mixed a drink for my wife and me—we had 
decided not to have one till we got on the boat, but I thought 
we'd better have one now. My wife didn't tell Emma there 
would be no running water in her room at the Vineyard. 

"We've been worried about you, Emma," I said. "I phoned 
your room but you didn't answer." "I never answer the phone," 
said Emma, "because I always get a shock. I wasn't there any- 
ways. I couldn't sleep in that room. I went back to Mrs. 
McCoy's on Seventy-eighth Street." I lowered my glass. "You 
went back to Seventy-eighth Street last night" I demanded. 
"Yes, sir," she said. "I had to tell Mrs. McCoy I was going 
away and wouldn't be there any more for a while—Mrs. 
McCoy's the landlady. Anyways, I never sleep in a hotel." She 
looked around the room. "They burn down," she told us. 

It came out that Emma Inch had not only gone back to 
Seventy-eighth Street the night before but had walked all the 
way, carrying Feely. It had taken her an hour or two, because 
Feely didn't like to be carried very far at a time, so she had 
had to stop every block or so and put him down on the side- 
walk for a while. It had taken her just as long to walk back 
to our hotel, too; Feely, it seems, never got up before afternoon 
- that's why she was so late. She was sorry. My wife and I 
finished our drinks, looking at each other, and at Feely. 

Emma Inch didn't like the idea of riding to Pier 14 in a 
taxi, but after ten minutes of cajoling and pleading she finally 
got in. "Make it go slow," she said. We had enough time, so I 
asked the driver to take it easy. Emma kept getting to her feet 
and I kept pulling her back onto the seat. "I never been in an 
automobile before," she said. "It goes awful fast." Now and 
then she gave a little squeal of fright. The driver turned his 
head and grinned. "You're O.K. wit' me, lady," he said. Feely 
growled at him. Emma waited until he had turned away again, 
and then she leaned over to my wife and whispered. "They all 
take cocaine," she said. Feely began to make a new sound—a 
kind of high, agonized yelp. "He's singing," said Emma. She 
gave a strange little giggle, but the expression of her face didn't 
change. "I wish you had put the Scotch where we could get 
at it," said my wife. 

If Emma Inch had been afraid of the taxicab, she was terri- 
fied by the Priscilla of the Fall River Line. "I don't think I 
can go," said Emma. "I don't think I could get on a boat. I 
didn't know they were so big." She stood rooted to the pier, 
clasping Feely. She must have squeezed him too hard, for he 
screamed—he screamed like a woman. We all jumped. "It's 
his ears," said Emma. "His ears hurt." We finally got her on 
the boat, and once aboard, in the salon, her terror abated some- 
what. Then the three parting blasts of the boat whistle rocked 
lower Manhattan. Emma Inch leaped to her feet and began to 
run, letting go of her suitcase (which she had refused to give 
up to a porter) but holding onto Feely. I caught her just as she 
reached the gangplank. The ship was on its way when I let go 
of her arm. 

It was a long time before I could get Emma to go to her 
stateroom, but she went at last. It was an inside stateroom, and 
she didn't seem to mind it. I think she was surprised to find 
that it was like a room, and had a bed and a chair and a wash- 
bowl. She put Feely down on the floor. "I think you'll have to 
do something about the dog," I said. "I think they put them 
somewhere and you get them when you get off." "No, they 
don't," said Emma. I guess, in this case, they didn't. I don't 
know. I shut the door on Emma Inch and Feely, and went 
away. My wife was drinking straight Scotch when I got to 
our stateroom. 

The next morning, cold and early, we got Emma and Feely 
off the Priscilla at Fall River and over to New Bedford in a 
taxi and onto the little boat for Martha's Vineyard. Each move 
was as difficult as getting a combative drunken man out of the 
night club in which he fancies he has been insulted. Emma sat 
in a chair on the Vineyard boat, as far away from sight of the 
water as she could get, and closed her eyes and held onto 
Feely. She had thrown a coat over Feely, not only to keep him 
warm but to prevent any of the ship's officers from taking him 
away from her. I went in from the deck at intervals to see how 
she was. She was all right, or at least all right for her, until 
five minutes before the boat reached the dock at Woods Hole, 
the only stop between New Bedford and the Vineyard. Then 
Feely got sick. Or at any rate Emma said he was sick. He 
didn't seem to me any different from what he always was—his 
breathing was just as abnormal and irregular. But Emma said 
he was sick. There were tears in her eyes. "He's a very sick 
dog, Mr. Thurman," she said. "I'll have to take him home." I 
knew by the way she said "home" what she meant. She meant 
Seventy-eighth Street. 

The boat tied up at Woods Hole and was motionless and we 
could hear the racket of the deckhands on the dock loading 
freight. "I'll get off here," said Emma, firmly, or with more 
firmness, anyway, than she had shown yet. I explained to her 
that we would be home in half an hour, that everything would 
be fine then, everything would be wonderful. I said Feely 
would be a new dog. I told her people sent sick dogs to 
Martha's Vineyard to be cured. But it was no good. "I'll have 
to take him off here," said Emma. "I always have to take him 
home when he is sick." I talked to her eloquently about the 
loveliness of Martha's Vineyard and the nice houses and the 
nice people and the wonderful accommodations for dogs. But 
I knew it was useless. I could tell by looking at her. She was 
going to get off the boat at Woods Hole. 

"You really can't do this," I said, grimly, shaking her arm. 
Feely snarled weakly. "You haven't any money and you don't 
know where you are. You're a long way from New York. 
Nobody ever got from Woods Hole to New York alone." She 
didn't seem to hear me. She began walking toward the stairs 
leading to the gangplank, crooning to Feely. "You'll have to 
go all the way back on boats," I said, "or else take a train, and 
you haven't any money. If you are going to be so stupid and 
leave us now, I can't give you any money." "I don't want any 
money, Mr. Thurman," she said. "I haven't earned any money." 
I walked along in irritable silence for a moment; then I gave 
her some money. I made her take it. We got to the gangplank. 
Feely snaffled and gurgled. I saw now that his eyes were a 
little red and moist. I know it would do no good to summon 
my wife—not when Feely's health was at stake. "How do you 
expect to get home from here?" I almost shouted at Emma 
Inch as she moved down the gangplank. "You're way out on 
the end of Massachusetts." She stopped and turned around. 
"We'll walk," she said. "We like to walk, Feely and me." I 
just stood still and watched her go. 

When I went up on deck, the boat was clearing for the 
Vineyard. "How's everything?" asked my wife. I waved a 
hand in the direction of the dock. Emma Inch was standing 
there, her suitcase at her feet, her dog under one arm, waving 
goodbye to us with her free hand. I had never seen her smile 
before, but she was smiling now. 

There's an Owl in My Room 

I saw Gertrude Stein on the screen of a newsreel theatre one 
afternoon and I heard her read that famous passage of hers 
about pigeons on the grass, alas (the sorrow is, as you know, 
Miss Stein's). After reading about the pigeons on the grass alas, 
Miss Stein said, "This is a simple description of a landscape I 
have seen many times." I don't really believe that that is true. 
Pigeons on the grass alas may be a simple description of Miss 
Stein's own consciousness, but it is not a simple description of 
a plot of grass on which pigeons have alighted, are alighting, 
or are going to alight. A truly simple description of the pigeons 
alighting on the grass of the Luxembourg Gardens (which, I 
believe, is where the pigeons alighted) would say of the 
pigeons alighting there only that they were pigeons alighting. 
Pigeons that alight anywhere are neither sad pigeons nor gay 
pigeons, they are simply pigeons. 

It is neither just nor accurate to connect the word alas with 
pigeons. Pigeons are definitely not alas. They have nothing to 
do with alas and they have nothing to do with hooray (not 
even when you tie red, white, and blue ribbons on them and 
let them loose at band concerts) ; they have nothing to do with 
mercy me or isn't that fine, either. White rabbits, yes, and 
Scotch terriers, and blue jays, and even hippopotamuses, but not 
pigeons. I happen to have studied pigeons very closely and care- 
fully, and I have studied the effect, or rather the lack of effect, 
of pigeons very carefully. A number of pigeons alight from 
time to time on the sill of my hotel window when I am eating 
breakfast and staring out the window. They never alas me, 
they never make me feel alas; they never make me feel any- 

Nobody and no animal and no other bird can play a scene 
so far down as a pigeon can. For instance, when a pigeon on 
my window ledge becomes aware of me sitting there in a chair 
in my blue polka-dot dressing-gown, worrying, he pokes his 
head far out from his shoulders and peers sideways at me, for 
all the world (Miss Stein might surmise) like a timid man 
peering around the corner of a building trying to ascertain 
whether he is being followed by some hoofed fiend or only 
by the echo of his own footsteps. And yet it is not for all the 
world like a timid man peering around the corner of a build- 
ing trying to ascertain whether he is being followed by a 
hoofed fiend or only by the echo of his own footsteps, at all. 
And that is because there is no emotion in the pigeon and no 
power to arouse emotion. A pigeon looking is just a pigeon 
looking. When it comes to emotion, a fish, compared to a 
pigeon, is practically beside himself. 

A pigeon peering at me doesn't make me sad or glad or 
apprehensive or hopeful. With a horse or a cow or a dog it 
would be different. It would be especially different with a dog. 
Some dogs peer at me as if I had just gone completely crazy 
or as if they had just gone completely crazy. I can go so far as 
to say that most dogs peer at me that way. This creates in the 
consciousness of both me and the dog a feeling of alarm or 
downright terror and legitimately permits me to work into a 
description of the landscape, in which the dog and myself are 
figures, a note of emotion. Thus I should not have minded if 
Miss Stein had written: dogs on the grass, look out, dogs on 
the grass, look out, look out, dogs on the grass, look out Alice. 
That would be a simple description of dogs on the grass. But 
when any writer pretends that a pigeon makes him sad, or 
makes him anything else, I must instantly protest that this is a 
highly specialized fantastic impression created in an individual 
consciousness and that therefore it cannot fairly be presented as 
a simple description of what actually was to be seen. 

People who do not understand pigeons—and pigeons can be 
understood only when you understand that there is nothing to 
understand about them—should not go around describing 
pigeons or the effect of pigeons. Pigeons come closer to a zero of 
impingement than any other birds. Hens embarrass me the way 
my old Aunt Hattie used to when I was twelve and she still 
insisted I wasn't big enough to bathe myself; owls disturb 
me; if I am with an eagle I always pretend that I am not with 
an eagle; and so on down to swallows at twilight who scare the 
hell out of me. But pigeons have absolutely no effect on me. 
They have absolutely no effect on anybody. They couldn't even 
startle a child. That is why they are selected from among all 
birds to be let loose, with colored ribbons attached to them, at 
band concerts, library dedications, and christenings of new 
dirigibles. If any body let loose a lot of owls on such an occa- 
sion there would be rioting and catcalls and whistling and 
fainting spells and throwing of chairs and the Lord only 
knows what else. 

From where I am sitting now I can look out the window and 
see a pigeon being a pigeon on the roof of the Harvard Club. 
No other thing can be less what it is not than a pigeon can, 
and Miss Stein, of all people, should understand that simple 
fact. Behind the pigeon I am looking at, a blank wall of tired 
gray bricks is stolidly trying to sleep off oblivion; underneath 
the pigeon the cloistered windows of the Harvard Club are 
staring in horrified bewilderment at something they have seen 
across the street. The pigeon is just there on the roof being a 
pigeon, having been, and being, a pigeon and, what is more, 
always going to be, too. Nothing could be simpler than that. 
If you read that sentence aloud you will instantly see what I 
mean. It is a simple description of a pigeon on a roof. It is 
only with an effort that I am conscious of the pigeon, but I am 
acutely aware of a great sulky red iron pipe that is creeping up 
the side of the building intent on sneaking up on a slightly 
tipsy chimney which is shouting its head off. 

There is nothing a pigeon can do or be that would make me 
feel sorry for it or for myself or for the people in the world, 
just as there is nothing I could do or be that would make a 
pigeon feel sorry for itself. Even if I plucked his feathers out 
it would not make him feel sorry for himself and it would not 
make me feel sorry for myself or for him. But try plucking the 
quills out of a porcupine or even plucking the fur out of a 
jackrabbit. There is nothing a pigeon could be, or can be, 
rather, which could get into my consciousness like a fumbling 
hand in a bureau drawer and disarrange my mind or pull any- 
thing out of it. I bar nothing at all. You could dress up a pigeon 
in a tiny suit of evening clothes and put a tiny silk hat on his 
head and a tiny gold-headed cane under his wing and send 
him walking into my room at night. It would make no impres- 
sion on me. I would not shout, "Good god amighty, the birds 
are in charge!" But you could send an owl into my room, 
dressed only in the feathers it was born with, and no monkey 
business, and I would pull the covers over my head and scream. 

No other thing in the world falls so far short of being able 
to do what it cannot do as a pigeon does. Of being unable to 
do what it can do, too, as far as that goes. 

The Topaz Cufflinks Mystery 

When the motorcycle cop came roaring up, unexpectedly, out 
of Never-Never Land (the way motorcycle cops do), the man 
was on his hands and knees in the long grass beside the road, 
barking like a dog. The woman was driving slowly along in a 
car that stopped about eighty feet away; its headlights shone on 
the man: middle-aged, bewildered, sedentary. He got to his 

"What's goin' on here?" asked the cop. The woman giggled. 
"Cock-eyed," thought the cop. He did not glance at her. 

"I guess it's gone," said the man. "I—ah—could not find it." 

"What was it?" 

"What I lost?" The man squinted, unhappily. "Some—some 
cufflinks; topazes set in gold." He hesitated: the cop didn't 
seem to believe him. "They were the color of a fine Moselle," 
said the man. He put on a pair of spectacles which he had been 
holding in his hand. The woman giggled. 

"Hunt things better with ya glasses off?" asked the cop. He 
pulled his motorcycle to the side of the road to let a car pass. 
"Better pull over off the concrete, lady," he said. She drove 
the car off the roadway. 

"I'm nearsighted," said the man. "I can hunt things at a 
distance with my glasses on, but I do better with them off if 
I am close to something." The cop kicked his heavy boots 
through the grass where the man had been crouching. 

"He was barking," ventured the lady in the car, "so that I 
could see where he was." The cop pulled his machine up on 
its standard; he and the man walked over to the automobile. 

"What I don't get," said the officer, "is how you lose ya cuff- 
links a hundred feet in front of where ya car is; a person 
usually stops his car past the place he loses something not a 
hundred feet before he gits to the place." 

The lady laughed again; her husband got slowly into the 
car, as if he were afraid the officer would stop him any moment. 
The officer studied them. 

"Been to a party?" he asked. It was after midnight. 

"We're not drunk, if that's what you mean," said the woman, , 
smiling. The cop tapped his fingers on the door of the car. 

"You people didn't lose no topazes," he said. 

"Is it against the law for a man to be down on all fours; 
beside a road, barking in a perfectly civil manner?" demanded I 
the lady. 

"No, ma'am," said the cop. He made no move to get on his i 
motorcycle, however, and go on about his business. There was 
just the quiet chugging of the cycle engine and the auto engine, , 
for a time. 

"I'll tell you how it was, Officer," said the man, in a crisp, . 
new tone. "We were settling a bet. O. K.?" 

"O. K.," said the cop. "Who win?" There was another 
pulsing silence. 

"The lady bet," said her husband, with dignity, as though 
he were explaining some important phase of industry to a 
newly hired clerk, "the lady bet that my eyes would shine like 
a cat's do at night, if she came upon me suddenly close to the 
ground alongside the road. We had passed a cat, whose eyes 
gleamed. We had passed several persons, whose eyes did not 
gleam " 

"Simply because they were above the light and not under 
it," said the lady. "A man's eyes would gleam like a cat's if 
people were ordinarily caught by headlights at the same angle 
as cats are." The cop walked over to where he had left his 
motorcycle, picked it up, kicked the standard out, and wheeled 
it back. 

"A cat's eyes," he said, "are different than yours and mine, 
Dogs, cats, skunks, it's all the same. They can see in a darkl 

"Not in a totally dark room," said the lady. 

"Yes, they can," said the cop. 

"No, they can't; not if there is no light at all in the room,, 
not if it's absolutely black" said the lady. "The question came 
up the other night; there was a professor there and he said' 
there must be at least a ray of light, no matter how faint." 

"That may be," said the cop, after a solemn pause, pulling 
at his gloves. "But people's eyes don't shine—I go along these 
roads every night an' pass a under of of cats and hundreds of 

"The people are never close to the ground," said the lady 

"I was close to the ground," said her husband. 

"Look at it this way," said the cop. "I've seen wildcats in 
trees at night and their eyes shine." 

"There you are!" said the lady's husband. "That proves it.' 

"I don't see how," said the lady. There was another silence. 

"Because a wildcat in a tree's eyes are higher than the level 
of a man's," said her husband. The cop may possibly have 
followed this, the lady obviously did not; neither one said any- 
thing. The cop got on his machine, raced his engine, seemed 
to be thinking about something, and throttled down. He 
turned to the man. 

"Took ya glasses off so the headlights wouldn't make ya 
glasses shine, huh?" he asked. 

"That's right," said the man. The cop waved his hand, tri- 
umphantly, and roared away. "Smart guy," said the man to 
his wife, irritably. 

'I still don't see where the wildcat proves anything," said 
is wife. He drove off slowly. 

'Look," he said. "You claim that the whole thing depends 
n how low a cat's eyes are; I " 

'I didn't say that; I said it all depends on how high a man's 
eyes . . ." 

Casuals of the Keys 

If you know the more remote little islands off the Florida i 
coast, you may have met—although I greatly doubt it—Captain 
Darke. Darrell Darke. His haunted key is, for this reason and I 
that, the most inaccessible of them all. I came upon it quite by 
chance and doubt that I could find it again. I saw him first that : 
moment when my shining little launch, so impudently summer- 
resortish, pushed its nose against the lonely pier on which he 
stood. Tall, dark, melancholy, his white shirt open at the throat, , 
he reminded me instantly of that other solitary wanderer* 
among forgotten islands, the doomed Lord Jim. 

I stepped off the boat and he came toward me with a lean i 
brown hand out-thrust. "I'm Darke," he said, simply, "Darrell 
Darke." I shook hands with him. He seemed pleased to en- 
counter someone from the outside world. I found out later that 
no white man had set foot on his remote little key for several I 

He took me to a little thatched hut and waved me to a 
bamboo chair. It was a pleasant place, with a bed of dried palm 
leaves, a few withered books, some fishing equipment, and a 
bright rifle. Darke produced from somewhere a bottle with a 
greenish heavy liquid in it, and two glasses. "Opono," he said, 
apologetically. "Made from the sap of the opono tree. Horrible 
stuff, but kicky." I asked him if he would care for a touch of 
Bacardi, of which I had a quart on the launch, and he said he 
would. I went down and got it. . . . 

"A newspaperman, eh?" said Darke, with interest, as I filled 
up the glasses for the third time. "You must meet a lot of inter- 
esting people." I really felt that I had met a lot of interesting 
people and, under slight coaxing, began to tell about them: 
Gene Tunney, Eddie Rickenbacker, the Grand Duchess Marie, 
William Gibbs McAdoo. Darke listened to my stories with 
quick attention, thirsty as he was for news of the colorful 
civilization which, he told me, he had put behind him twenty 
years before. 

"You must," I said at last, to be polite, "have met some inter- 
esting people yourself." 

"No," he said. "All of a stripe, until you came along. Last 
chap that put in here, for example, was a little fellow name of 
Mark Menafee who turned up one day some three years ago in 
an outboard motor. He was only a trainer of fugitives from 
justice." Darke reached for the glass I had filled again. 

"I never heard of anyone being that," I said. "What did 
he do?" 

"He coached fugitives from justice," said Darke. "Seems 
Menafee could spot one instantly. Take the case of Burt Fred- 
ericks he told me about. Fredericks was a bank defaulter from 
Connecticut. Menafee spotted him on a Havana boat—knew 
him from his pictures in the papers. 'Hello, Burt,' says Menafee, 
casually. Fredericks whirled around. Then he caught himself 
and stared blankly at Menafee. 'My name is Charles Brandon/ 
he says. Menafee won his confidence and for a fee and his 
expenses engaged to coach Fredericks not to be caught off his 
guard and answer to the name of Burt. He'd shadow Fredericks 
from city to city, contriving to come upon him unexpectedly in 
dining-rooms, men's lounges, bars, and crowded hotel lobbies. 
Why Burt!' Menafee would say, gaily, or 'It's old Fredericks!' 
like someone meeting an old friend after years. Fredericks got 
so he never let on—unless he was addressed as Charlie or 
Brandon. Far as I know he was never caught. Menafee made 
enough to keep going, coaching fugitives, but it was a dullish 
kind of job." Darke fell silent. I sat watching him. 

"Did you ever meet any other uninteresting people?" I asked. 

"There was Harrison Cammery," said Darke, after a moment. 
"He put in here one night in a storm, dressed in full evening 
clothes. Came from New York—I don't know how. There 
never was a sign of a boat or anything to show how he got here. 
He was always that way while he was here, dully incompre- 
hensible. He had the most uninteresting of manias, which is 
monomania. He was a goldfish-holder." Darke stopped and 
seemed inclined to let the story end there. 

"What do you mean, a goldfish-holder?" I demanded. 

"Cammery had been a professional billiard-player," said 
Darke. "He told me that the strain of developing absolutely 
nerveless hands finally told on him. He had trained so that he 
could balance five BB shot on the back of each of his fingers 
indefinitely. One night, at a party where the host had a bowl of 
goldfish, the guests got to trying to catch them with one grab 
of their hand. Nobody could do it until Cammery tried. He 
caught up one of the fish and held it lightly in his closed hand. 
He told me that the wettish fluttering of that fish against the 
palm of his hand became a thing he couldn't forget. He got to 
snatching up goldfish and holding them, wherever he went. At 
length he had to have a bowl of them beside the table when 
he played his billiard matches, and would hold one between 
innings the way tennis-players take a mouthful of water. The 
effect finally was to destroy his muscular precision, so he took 
to the islands. One day he was gone from here—I don't know 
how. I was glad enough. A singularly one-track and boring 

"Who else has put in here?" I asked, filling them up again. 

"Early in 1913," said Darke, after a pause in which he seemed 
to make an effort to recall what he was after, "early in 1913 an 
old fellow with a white beard—must have been seventy-five or 
eighty—walked into this hut one day. He was dripping wet. 
Said he swam over from the mainland and he probably did. 
It's fifty miles. Lots of boats can be had for the taking along 
the main coast, but this fellow was apparently too stupid to 
take one. He was as dull about everything as about that. Used 
to recite short stories word for word—said he wrote them him- 
self. He was a writer like you, but he didn't seem to have met 
any interesting people. Talked only about himself, where he'd 
come from, what he'd done. I didn't pay any attention to him. . 
I was glad when, one night, he disappeared. His name was 
. . ." Darke put his head back and stared at the roof of his hut, 
striving to remember. "Oh, yes," he said. "His name was Bierce. 
Ambrose Bierce." 

"You say that was in 1913, early in 1913?" I asked, excitedly.. 

"Yes, I'm sure of it," said Darke, "because it was the same 
year C-18769 showed up here." 

"Who was C-18769?" I asked. 

"It was a carrier pigeon," said Darke. "Flew in here one night 
tuckered by the trip from the mainland, and flopped down on 
that bed with its beak open, panting hard. It was red-eyed 
and dishevelled. I noticed it had something sizable strapped 
under its belly and I saw its registration number, on a silver 
band fastened to its leg: C-18769. When it got rested up it: 
hung around here for quite a while. I didn't pay much atten- 
tion to it. In those days I used to get the New York papers 
about once a month off a supply boat that used to put in at an 
island ten miles from here. I'd row over. One day I saw a notice 
in one of the papers about this bird. Some concern or other, for 
a publicity stunt, had arranged to have this bird carry a thou- 
sand dollars in hundred-dollar bills from the concern's offices 
to the place where the bird homed, some five hundred miles 
away. The bird never got there. The papers had all kinds of 
theories: the bird had been shot and robbed, it had fallen in 
the water and drowned, or it had got lost." 

"The last was right," I said. "It must have got lost." 

"Lost, hell," said Darke. "After I read the stories I caught it 
up one day, suddenly, and examined the packet strapped to it. 
It only had four hundred and sixty-five dollars left." 

I felt a little weak. Finally, in a small voice, I asked: "Did 
you turn it over to the authorities ?" 

"Certainly not," said Darrell Darke. "A man or a bird's life 
is his own to lead, down here. I simply figured this pigeon for 
a fool, and let him go. What could he do, after the money 
was gone ? Nothing." Darke rolled and lighted a cigarette and 
smoked a while, silently. "That's the kind of beings you meet 
with down here," he said. "Stupid, dullish, lacking in common 
sense, fiddling along aimlessly. Menafee, Cammery, Bierce, 
C- 18769—all the same. It gets monotonous. Tell me more about 
this Grand Duchess Marie. She must be a most interesting 

A Preface to Dogs 

As soon as a wife presents her husband with a child, her capac- 
ity for worry becomes acuter: she hears more burglars, she 
smells more things burning, she begins to wonder, at the theatre 
or the dance, whether her husband left his service revolver in 
the nursery. This goes on for years and years. As the child grows 
older, the mother's original major fear—that the child was ex- 
changed for some other infant at the hospital—gives way to 
even more magnificent doubts and suspicions : she suspects that 
the child is not bright, she doubts that it will be happy, she is 
sure that it will become mixed up with the wrong sort of 

This insistence of parents on dedicating their lives to their 
children is carried on year after year in the face of all that dogs 
have done, and are doing, to prove how much happier the 
parent-child relationship can become, if managed without senti- 
ment, worry, or dedication. Of course, the theory, that dogs 
have a saner family life than humans is an old one, and it was 
in order to ascertain whether the notion is pure legend or 
whether it is based on observable fact that I have for four 
years made a careful study of the family life of dogs. My con- 
clusions entirely support the theory that dogs have a saner 
family life than people. 

In the first place, the husband leaves on a woodchuck-hunting 
expedition just as soon as he can, which is very soon, and never 
comes back. He doesn't write, makes no provision for the care 
or maintenance of his family, and is not liable to prosecution 
because he doesn't. The wife doesn't care where he is, never 
wonders if he is thinking about her, and although she may 
start at the slightest footstep, doesn't do so because she is hoping 
against hope that it is he. No lady dog has ever been known to 
set her friends against her husband, or put detectives on his 

This same lack of sentimentality is carried out in the mother 
dog's relationship to her young. For six weeks—but only six 
weeks—she looks after them religiously, feeds them (they come 
clothed), washes their ears, fights off cats, old women, and 
wasps that come nosing around, makes the bed, and rescues 
the puppies when they crawl under the floor boards of the barn 
or get lost in an old boot. She does all these things, however, 
without fuss, without that loud and elaborate show of solicitude 
and alarm which a woman displays in rendering some exag- 
gerated service to her child. 

At the end of six weeks, the mother dog ceases to lie awake 
at night harking for ominous sounds; the next morning she 
snarls at the puppies after breakfast, and routs them all out of 
the house. "This is forever," she informs them, succinctly. "I 
have my own life to live, automobiles to chase, grocery boys' 
shoes to snap at, rabbits to pursue. I can't be washing and feed- 
ing a lot of big six-weeks-old dogs any longer. That phase is 
definitely over." The family life is thus terminated, and the 
mother dismisses the children from her mind—frequently as 
many as eleven at one time—as easily as she did her husband. 
She is now free to devote herself to her career and to the novel 
and astonishing things of life. 

In the case of one family of dogs that I observed, the mother, 
a large black dog with long ears and a keen zest for living, 
tempered only by an immoderate fear of toads and turtles, 
kicked ten puppies out of the house at the end of six weeks to 
the day—it was a Monday. Fortunately for my observations, the 
puppies had no place to go, since they hadn't made any plans, 
and so they just hung around the barn, now and again trying 
to patch things up with their mother. She refused, however, to 
entertain any proposition leading to a resumption of home 
life, pointing out firmly that she was, by inclination, a chaser 
of bicycles and a hearth-fire watcher, both of which activities 
would be insupportably cluttered up by the presence of ten 
helpers. The bicycle-chasing field was overcrowded, anyway, 
she explained, and the hearth-fire-watching field even more so. 
"We could chase parades together," suggested one of the dogs, 
but she refused to be touched, snarled, and drove him off. 

It is only for a few weeks that the cast-off puppies make 
overtures to their mother in regard to the reestablishment of a 
home. At the end of that time, by some natural miracle that I 
am unable clearly to understand, the puppies suddenly one day 
don't recognize their mother any more, and she doesn't recog- 
nize them. It is as if they had never met, and is a fine idea, 
giving both parties a clean break and a chance for a fresh start. 
Once, some months after this particular family had broken 
up and the pups had been sold, one of them, named Liza, was 
brought back to "the old nest" for a visit. The mother dog of 
course didn't recognize the puppy and promptly bit her in the 
hip. They had to be separated, each grumbling something about 
you never know what kind of dogs you're going to meet. Here 
was no silly, affecting reunion, no sentimental tears, no bitter 
intimations of neglect, or forgetfulness, or desertion. 

If a pup is not sold or given away, but is brought up in the 
same household with its mother, the two will fight bitterly, 
sometimes twenty or thirty times a day, for maybe a month. 
This is very trying to whoever owns the dogs, particularly if 
they are sentimentalists who grieve because mother and child 
don't know each other. The condition finally clears up: the 
two dogs grow to tolerate each other and, beyond growling a 
little under their breath about how it takes all kinds of dogs to 
make up a world, get along fairly well together when their paths 
cross. I know of one mother dog and her half -grown daughter 
who sometimes spend the whole day together hunting wood- 
chucks, although they don't speak. Their association is not 
sentimental, but practical, and is based on the fact that it is safer 
to hunt woodchucks in pairs than alone. These two dogs start 
out together in the morning, without a word, and come back 
together in the evening, when they part, without saying good 
night, whether they have had any luck or not. Avoidance of 
farewells, which are always stuffy and sometimes painful, is 
another thing in which it seems to me dogs have better sense 
than people. 

Well, one day the daughter, a dog about ten months old, 
seemed, by some prank of nature which again I am unable 
clearly to understand, for a moment or two, to recognize her 
mother, after all those months of oblivion. The two had just 
started out after a fat woodchuck who lives in the orchard. 
Something got wrong with the daughter's ear- a long, floppy 
ear. "Mother," she said, "I wish you'd look at my ear." In- 
stantly the other dog bristled and growled. "I'm not your 
mother," she said, "I'm a woodchuck-hunter." The daughter 
grinned. "Well," she said, just to show that there were no hard 
feelings, "that's not my ear, it's a motorman's glove." 

Guessing Game 

An article was found after your departure in the room which you 
occupied. Kindly let us know if you have missed such an article, and if so, 
send us a description and instructions as to what disposition you wish 
made of same. For lack of space, all Lost and Found articles must be dis- 
posed of within two months. 
                                                           LOST AND FOUND DEPARTMENT 
                                                           HOTEL LEXINGTON 
                                                           Lexington Ave. & 48th St., New York 
                                                           Per R. E. Daley.

Dear Mr. Daley: 
This whole thing is going to be much more complicated 
than you think. I have waited almost two weeks before answer- 
ing your postcard notification because I have been unable to 
figure out what article I left behind. I'm sorry now I didn't just 
forget the whole business. As a matter of fact, I did try to 
forget it, but it keeps bobbing up in my mind. I have got into 
an alphabetical rut about it; at night I lie awake naming articles 
to myself: bathrobe, bay rum, book, bicycle, belt, baby, etc. Dr. 
Prill, my analyst, has advised me to come right out and meet 
you on the subject. 

So far, I have been able to eliminate, for certain, only two 
articles. I never remember to take pajamas or a hairbrush with 
me, so it couldn't be pajamas or a hairbrush you found. This 
does not get us very far. I have, however, ransacked the house 
and I find that a number of things are missing, but I don't 
remember which of them, if any, I had with me at the Lexing- 
ton that night: the vest to my blue suit, my life-insurance 
policy, my Scotch terrier Jeannie, the jack out of the automobile 
tool case, the bottle-opener that is supposed to be kept in the 
kitchen drawer, the glass top to the percolator, a box of aspirin, 
a letter from my father giving my brother William's new ad- 
dress in Seattle, a roll of films (exposed) for a 2 A Kodak, my 
briefcase (missing since 1927), etc. The article you have on hand 
might be any of these (with the exception of the briefcase). It 
would have been entirely possible for me, in the state of mind 
I was in that Friday, to have gone about all day with the auto- 
mobile jack in my hand. 

The thing that worries me most is the possibility that what 
I left in my room was something the absence of which I have 
not yet discovered and may never discover, unless you give me 
some hint. Is it animal, vegetable, or mineral ? Is it as big as I 
am ? Twice as big ? Smaller than a man's hand ? Does it have 
a screw-on top ? Does it make any kind of regular ticking noise 
when in operation? Is it worth, new, as much as a hundred 
dollars? A thousand dollars? Fifty cents? It isn't a bottle of 
toothache drops, is it? Or a used razor blade? Because I left 
them behind on purpose. These questions, it seems to me, are 
eminently fair. I'm not asking you some others I could think of, 
such as: Does it go with the pants and coat of a blue suit ? Can 
it bark ? Can it lift the wheel of an automobile off the ground ? 
Can it open a bottle ? Does it relieve pain ? Is it a letter from 
somebody ? Does anybody get any money out of it when I am 
dead, providing I keep the payments up ? 

I think you should let me know whether you are willing to 
answer yes or no to my first set of questions, as in all games of 
this sort. Because if you are just going to stand there with a 
silly look on your face and shake your head and keep repeating 
"Can't guess what it i-yis, can't guess what it i-yis!", to hell 
with it. I don't care if it's a diamond ring. 

I take it for granted, of course, that I really did leave an article 
in the room I occupied. If I didn't, and this thing turns out to 
be merely a guessing game in which the answer is Robert E. 
Lee's horse, or something, you'll never be able to answer your 
phone for a whole year without running the chance of it's being 
me, reserving dozens of rooms in a disguised voice and under 
various assumed names, reporting a fire on the twenty-third 
floor, notifying you that your bank balance is overdrawn, pre- 
tending, in a husky guttural, that you are the next man the 
gang is going to put on the spot for the shooting of Joe the 
Boss over in Brooklyn. 

Of course, I'm a little sore about the thing the way it is. If 

you had been a guest at my house and had gone away leaving 
your watch or your keyring behind, would I send you a penny 
postcard asking you to guess what you had left behind ? I would 
now, yes; but I mean before this all happened. Supposing 
everybody did business that way. Supposing your rich and 
doting uncle wired you: "I'm arriving Grand Central some 
time next month. Meet me." Or, worse yet, supposing that 
instead of issuing a summons naming a definite crime or mis- 
demeanor, the courts sent out a postcard reading: "I know 
what's going to happen to you-oo!" We'd all be nervous wrecks. 
The only thing I see to do right now is comply with your 
request for a description of the article I left in that room. It is a 
large and cumbersome iron object, usually kept in a kitchen 
drawer, entitling my wife, upon my death, to a certain payment 
of money; it barks when in operation and, unless used when 
the coffee reaches the boiling point, will allow the liquid to spill 
out on the stove; it is signed by my father's name, is sensitive 
to light, relieves neuralgic pains, and is dark blue in color. 

I have, of course, the same suspicion that you seem to have; 
namely, that maybe the object wasn't left behind by me but by 
somebody else who occupied the room before I did or who 
occupied it at the same time I did, without either one of us> 
knowing the other was there. And I'll tell you why. The night 
that I was at your hotel, the room clerk took a message out of 
my box when he reached for my key. The message was for a 
Mr. Donovan. I looked at it and said it didn't belong to me. 
"You haven't a Mr. Donovan with you?" he asked. I said no,, 
but he didn't seem to be convinced. Perhaps whatever was left 
behind in my room was left behind by Mr. Donovan. I have 
an idea that, after all, Mr. Donovan and I may have occupied 
the same room, since his mail was in my box; perhaps he always 
arrived just after I had left the room and got out each time 
just before I came back. It's that kind of city. 

I'm glad, anyway, that I have two months before the article 
is returned to the insurance company or sent to the pound, or 
whatever. It gives me time to think. 

Everything Is Wild 

In the first place it was a cold and rainy night and the Cort- 
rights lived eighteen miles away, in Bronxville. "Eighteen hun- 
dred miles," Mr. Brush put it, bitterly. He got the car out of the 
Gramercy Lane garage, snarling savagely at the garage man, 
an amiable and loquacious fellow who spoke with an accent 
and who kept talking about winter oil and summer oil, and 
grinning, and repeating himself. As they drove out, Mrs. Brush 
told her husband that he didn't have to be so mean, the man 
hadn't done anything to him. "He kept yelling about oil, didn't 
he?" demanded Mr. Brush. "I know about oil. Nobody has to 
tell me about oil." Mrs. Brush kept her voice abnormally low, 
the way she always did when he was on the verge of a tantrum. 
"He wasn't yelling," she said. "He'll probably ruin the car 
some night, the way you acted." 

The drive to Bronxville was as bad as Mr. Brush expected 
it would be. He got lost, and couldn't find Bronxville. When 
he did find Bronxville, he couldn't find the Woodmere Apart- 
ments. "You'll have to ask somebody where it is," said Mrs. I 
Brush. He didn't want to ask anybody anything, but he stopped | 
in front of a bright little barbershop, got out, and went inside. 
The barber he encountered turned out to be a garrulous for- 
eigner. Sure, he knew where eez these Woodmare Apartamen. 
"Down is street has a concrete breech," he said. "It go under 
but no up to the first raid light. Quick, like this, before turn!" 
The barber made swift darting angles in the air with his hand. | 
He also turned completely around. "So not down these light, 
hah?" he finished up. Mr. Brush snarled at him and went 

"Well?" asked Mrs. Brush. She knew by his silence that he 
hadn't found out anything. "I'll go in and ask next time," she 
said. Mr. Brush drove on. "The guy didn't know what he was 
talking about," he said. "He's crazy." Finally, after many twists 
and turns, most of them wrong, they drove up in front of the 
Woodmere. "Hell of an apartment building," said Mr. Brush. 
Mrs. Brush didn't answer him. 

The dinner, fortunately, was quite nice. Mr. Brush had ex- 
pected, indeed he had predicted, that there would be a lot of 
awful people, but the Brushes were the only guests. The Cort- 
rights were charming, there wasn't a radio, and nobody talked 
about business or baseball. Also there was, after dinner, Mr. 
Brush's favorite liqueur, and he was just settling comfortably 
into a soft chair, glass in hand, when the doorbell rang. A man 
and a woman were brought into the room and introduced - 
a Mr. and Mrs. Spreef, as Brush got it. The name turned out to 
be Spear. Mr. Brush didn't like them. They were quite nice, but 
he never liked anybody he hadn't met before. 

After a flurry of trivial talk, during which Spear told a story 
about a fellow who had been courting a girl for fifteen years, 
at which everybody laughed but Brush, who grinned fixedly, 
the hostess wanted to know if people would like to play poker. 
There were pleased murmurs, a grunt from Brush, and in a 
twinkling a card table was pulled out from behind something 
and set up. Mrs. Cortright brightly explained that one leg of 
the table was broken, but she thought it would hold up all 
right. Mr. Brush didn't actually say that he thought it wouldn't, 
but he looked as if he did. 

Mr. Spear won the deal. "This is dealer's choice, Harry," 
his hostess told him. "Change on each deal." Harry squealed. 
"O. K." he said. "How about a little old Duck-in-the-Pond?" 
The ladies giggled with pleasure. "Whazzat ?" grumbled Brush. 
He hated any silly variation of the fine old game of poker. He 
instantly dropped out of the hand and sat staring at Mr. Spear. 
Mr. Spear, it came to him, looked like Chevalier. Mr. Brush 
hated Chevalier. 

The next deal fell to Brush and he immediately named 
straight poker as his game. Mrs. Spear said she was crazy about 
Duck-in-the-Pond and why didn't they just keep on playing 
that? "Straight poker," said Mr. Brush, gruffly. "Oh," said Mrs. 
Spear, her smile vanishing. Mr. Brush won the straight-poker 
hand with three of a kind. 

Mrs. Spear was the next dealer. "Seven-card stud," she said, 
"with the twos and threes wild." The women all gave little 
excited screams. Mrs. Cortright said she was crazy about seven- 
card stud with something wild. Mrs. Spear said she was, too. 
Mr. Brush said yah. Mrs. Spear won the hand with four kings 
- that is, two kings, a deuce, and a trey. Mr. Cortright, the next 
dealer, announced that they would now play Poison Ivy. This 
was a nuisance Mr. Brush had never heard of. It proved to be 
a variation of poker in which each player gets four cards, and 
Rye others are placed face down on the table to be turned up 
one at a time. The lowest card, when all are turned up, becomes 
the wild card. Mr. Brush rolled his cigar from one corner of his 
mouth to the other, and narrowed his eyes. He scowled at 
Chevalier, because Chevalier kept repeating that Poison Ivy 
was the nuts. Brush folded up his hand and sat stiffly in his 
chair, rolling his cigar and grunting. Four aces won that hand, 
and in doing so had to beat four other aces (there were two 
fours in the hand on the table, and they were low). 

So the game went wildly on, with much exclaiming and 
giggling, until it came Mr. Brush's time to deal again. He sat 
up very straight in his chair and glared around the table. "We'll 
play Soap-in- Your-Eye this time," he said, grimly. Mrs. Spear 
screeched. "Oh, I don't know that!" she cried. Brush rolled 
his cigar at her. "Out West they call it Kick-in-the-Pants," he 
said. Mrs. Brush suggested that they better play Duck-in-the- 
Pond again, or Poison Ivy. "Soap-in- Your-Eye," said Brush, 
without looking at her. "How does it go?" asked Cortright. 

"The red queens, the fours, fives, sixes, and eights are wild," 
said Mr. Brush. "I'll show you." He dealt one card to each 
person. Then he dealt another one around, face up this time. 
"Ah," he exclaimed, "Mrs. Spear draws a red queen on the 
second round, so it becomes forfeit. It can be reinstated, how- 
ever, if on the next round she gets a black four. I'll show you." 
Mr. Brush was adroit with cards and he contrived it so that 
Mrs. Spear did get a black four on the next round. "Ho," said 
Brush, "that makes it interesting. Having foured your queen, 
you can now choose a card, any card, from the deck." He held 
up the deck and she selected a card. "Now if you don't want 
that card," continued Brush, "you can say 'Back' or 'Right' or 
'Left,' depending on whether you want to put it back in the 
deck or pass it to the person at your right or the person at your 
left. If you decide to keep it, you say 'Hold.' The game, by the 
way, is sometimes called Hold Back or Right and Left. Get it?" 

"I don't think so," said Mrs. Spear. She looked vaguely at the 
card she had drawn. "Hold, I guess," she said. 

"Good," said Brush. "Now everybody else draws a card." 
Everybody did, Mrs. Brush trying to catch her husband's eye, 
but failing. "Now," said Brush, "we each have four cards, two 
of which everybody has seen, and two of which they haven't. 
Mrs. Spreef, however, has a Hold. That is, having black-foured 
her red queen, she is privileged to call a jack a queen or a trey a 
four or any other card just one point under a wild card, a wild 
card. See?" Nobody, apparently, saw. 

"Why don't we just play Poison Ivy again?" asked Mrs. 
Brush. "Or a round of straight poker?" 

"I want to try this," said Brush. "I'm crazy about it." He 
dealt two more cards around, face down. "We all have six cards 
now," he went on, "but you can't look at the last two—even 
after the game is over. All you can look at is the four cards in 
your hand and this one." He put a card face down in the middle 
of the table. "That card is called Splinter-Under- Your-Thumb 
and is also wild, whatever it is," he explained. "All right, bet." 
Everybody was silent for several seconds, and then they all 
checked to him. Brush bet five chips. Mrs. Spear, encouraged in 
a dim way by the fact that she had black-foured her red queen, 
thus reinstating it after forfeit, stayed, and so did Mrs. Cort- 
right (who always stayed), but the others dropped out. The two 
ladies put in five chips each, and called Mr. Brush. He turned 
up the card in the middle of the table—the queen of diamonds. 
"Hah!" said Brush. "Well, I got a royal flush in spades!" He 
laid down the four of diamonds, the eight of hearts, and a pair 
of sixes. "I don't see how you have," said Mrs. Spear, dubiously. 
"Sure," said Brush. "The queen of diamonds is a wild card, 
so I call it the ace of spades. All my other cards are wild, so I 
call them king, queen, jack, ten of spades." The women laid 
their hands down and looked at Brush. "Well, you both got 
royal flushes, too," he said, "but mine is spades and is high. 
You called me, and that gave me the right to name my suit. I 
win." He took in the chips. 

The Brushes said good night and left shortly after that. They 
went out to the elevator in silence, and in silence they went out 
to the car, and in silence they drove off. Mr. Brush at last began 
to chortle. "Darn good game, Soap-in-Your-Eye," he said. Mrs. 
Brush stared at him, evilly, for a full minute. "You terrible 
person," she said. Mr. Brush broke into loud and hearty laugh- 
ter. He ho-hoed all the way down the Grand Concourse. He 
had had a swell time after all. 

The State of Bontana 

I am sure that it must have been Dudley Pierce who introduced 
Oral Categories into our little group. A curious light comes 
into his eyes when people gather together in a comfortable 
room and begin to talk. Dudley can hardly wait for a lull in 
the conversation; very often, indeed, he makes a lull in the 
conversation: "How about some Oral Categories?" he will 
shout, much to the annoyance of whoever is saying to whom- 
ever else, "What! You don't know Andre Simon's 'The Art of 
Good Living'? But one cannot——" 

Oral Categories, as you may know, goes like this. Whoever 
is It takes a letter, say M, and the others wait, more or less breath- 
lessly, for him to name a category. Suppose he has taken M 
and says, "A make of automobile!" Then the first person who 
names an automobile beginning with M—Marmon, for ex- 
ample—wins a point. The first player to win five points is It 
and he, in turn, selects another letter and names more cate- 
gories, and so it goes until people get tired of it, or bored, or, 
as has been happening more and more often in our circle, an- 
noyed, hurt, or downright angry. 

The game has, as a matter of fact, thrown a clear white 
light for me upon some of my friends who, until it was insti- 
tuted among us, were simply the pleasant, conventional figures 
that most of our friends are—those friends, I mean, whom we 
rarely become intimate with but nevertheless think we know 
quite well by mingling with them, year in and year out, at 
parties. They have taken on color and character for me, dropped 
their masks, spoken in unfamiliar tones, stood out sharply in 
strange and new postures. 

There is, for instance, Viola Drake. The fact that she was 
married, about a year ago, to Holman Drake brought her into 
our group. Until Categories came along we had all supposed 
that her silences draped, charmingly enough, an almost total 
lack of interest in anything except Holman. Certainly no one 
had been able to draw her out on any subject (I see now that no 
one tried the right ones). She became, quite suddenly, articu- 
late and varied in this peculiar game. I recall the night that the 
letter A and the category Bird came up. "Avocet," said Viola in 
her low, cool voice before anyone else spoke (most of us shout 
out our answers excitedly) . There was a rustle and a muttering. 
Then: "What kind of a bird is that?" demanded Myra Hertz- 
man, shrilly. "I never heard of a whatever-it-is." Myra's voice 
always has the pitch and fever of a person describing a train 
wreck. None of the rest of us, I think, had heard of an avocet 
either. "It's a water bird with long legs and a long curved bill," 
said Viola. Somebody looked it up in a dictionary and there, of 
course, it was. 

Michael Lindsey announced, in the admiring pause that fol- 
lowed, that we had all missed Auk. "Yes," said Kaley Geren, 
"and Albatross." Then somebody else observed that there didn't 
seem to be any other birds than those three whose names began 
with A. "Not many, certainly," said Viola. I asked her if she 
knew any more. "Well," she said, "there are the Ash-throated 
Flycatcher and the Arkansas Kingbird, if you would allow 
them. They're very real," she said to Myra, smiling. We were 
impressed; there was a murmur of approbation. When Viola a 
moment later said "Arachne" and won the next category also, I 
began to realize for the first time that this lady had been beaten 
into her silences by our continuous gabble about liquor and 
books and economics. 

But if our little game has brought Viola into flower, so to 
speak, it has definitely made enemies of Michael Lindsey and 
Kaley Geren, who, up until Categories, had maintained a polite 
friendship despite their fundamental differences of opinion 
about Chianti, John Dos Passos, and Marxism. It began the 
night that Lindsey had the letter B and named as a category 
"a kind of camel." Nobody answered for many minutes. Lind- 
sey smiled his superior smile. "Give up?" he asked. "Wait a 
second," said Geren. "I know it as well as you do." "Big camel !" 
squealed Myra Hertzman, giggling. Myra always has her joke, 
her series of jokes, about every letter and category that are 
named. "How about a camel named Bert?" she added. Geren, 
who was trying to think, frowned at her. "Give up?" said 
Lindsey, again. "No, no," said Geren. "Wait a second." Lind- 
sey's smile became definitely smug. Geren, I feel sure, actually 
knew the word, but he had groped his way into a morass of 
B's. The psychological pitfalls and illusions of the game are 
many. The answer in this particular case—Bactrian, of course, 
though none of us could think of it—was on the end of Geren's 
tongue, on the edge of his mind, but so were a lot of other words 
beginning with B, including Big Camel and Bert Camel. In the 
end, bewitched by alliterations, Geren abruptly shouted out 
"Bucephalus!" thinking, for a wild moment, that he had got 
his hands on the word he was seeking for. Lindsey laughed. 
"Bucephalus was the war horse of Alexander the Great, Kaley," 
he said, patronizingly. "Of course it was," said Kaley. "I know 
that. I know that as well as you know it, but—" "But you 
just couldn't think of it, could you, dear?" asked his wife, inno- 
cently. She was, I think, merely trying to avert what she dis- 
cerned as approaching trouble between the two, but Kaley took 
it to mean that she thought he didn't know what Bucephalus 
was. He understands the nuances of her inflections better than 
I do, but I think he was wrong. "Certainly I know it!" snapped 
Kaley. "Everybody knows it!" "I don't know it!" screamed 
Myra. "Anyway, nobody's got the answer to the big bad camel 
yet!" That brought Geren back to that. He had to give up, still 
insisting he knew but couldn't think. "Bactrian," said Lindsey 
smoothly. Geren sniffed and made a gesture. Lindsey lighted 
a cigarette. That was the beginning of a growing formality 
between them and, as far as I know, a widening chasm between 
the Gerens themselves, for I could foresee a cold, tense argument 
in their car on the way home: "Just exactly why you see fit to 
hold me up to ridicule before that fellow Lindsey is, of course, 
your own . . ." 

Nobody (unless it is Garrison) has been made more miserable 
by our favorite game than John Almond. Almond has as fine a 
mind and as wide a general knowledge as any man I know, but 
he invariably becomes mind-tied when Oral Categories is 
started. If you took R and then said "Name a flower" he would 
be unable, for some strange reason, to think of Rose. He just 
sits there, staring at the floor, a heavy, angry look on his face. 
I daresay the machinery of his mentality is too complex for 
him to turn out instantly an obvious and meager little word. 
But he is sensitive and easily annoyed. The game has got to him. 
He worries about it, hates it, but comes back to it the way an 
unlucky player comes back to the roulette table. Grace Almond, 
confident of his potential superiority, has taken to railing at him 
merrily during the games. "Poor Johnny didn't do very well at 
his lessons in school," she will say. That always gives Lindsey 
- and Myra Hertzman—a laugh (Myra would get a laugh out 
of any sudden announcement, even that someone had dropped 
dead). Almond pretends to take the joking in all good humor, 
but recently it has been apparent to me that he forces his smile. . 
I think that on their way home from the last party the Almonds 
must have "had it out," because John did not win one point that 
night and Grace blithely called attention to it at the door and 
patted his cheek and said, "Poor Johnny didn't do so well at 
his lessons in school." She doesn't hit on many little quips and 
when she does she holds onto them. I think this one had the. 
effect on John of a half-finished mug of ale that has stood all 
night and I imagine that he said so and I imagine that she slept 
in the guest-room, crying. 

It was Garrison, however, who took the worst beating at our 
last party. He doesn't come to our parties often, has never en- 
joyed the game, and rarely gets into it, preferring to sit in a 
corner and read a book or (as I have often noticed) look at 
Louise Grayson with furtive eyes. He did get into the game this 
last night, however. Lillian Garrison, jumpy, small, with a rasp- 
ing voice, fairly tugged him into it: "Now you're not going to 
sit there and read all evening!" He came into it the way Jeffries 
came into the ring with Jack Johnson, if you happen to re- 

Garrison is, or was, one of the ablest executives in town, 
a quiet, fiftyish, forceful man who loves the last firm dignified 
word and is bred to a posture of dominance. In the very first 
category his "Pierce-Arrow" trailed in a bad third behind his 
own wife's "Packard" and Lindsey's "Peerless" and he felt, I 
could see, a little silly, for he had barked out his futile answer 
in a voice of peremptory command. It was a bad start and for 
several categories thereafter he maintained a haughty silence. 
Lindsey eventually won and became It again—for the third or 
fourth time—whereupon Kaley Geren got up and muttered 
something about he guessed he'd mix another drink. 

Lindsey took the letter B. "Name a state in the Union!" he 
snapped. "Boston!" shouted someone, excitedly, and then j 
flushed as the others hooted. Of course there was then a long J 
silence, for there is no state beginning with B. "Bassachusetts!" 
squealed Myra Hertzman. "Bidaho! Butah! Bontana!" 

"All right," said Lindsey, finally. "There is no state with B.". 
All right, I'll take—a kind of bird!

"Beagle!" roared Garrison instantly, very erect, red in the. 
face, a bit pontifical. He had been beautifully tricked by Myra's s 
Bidaho, Butah, etc., into putting a B in front of Eagle. Every- 
body, of course, shouted with laughter. It was a long time dyings 
down. Myra Hertzman laughed till she cried. Garrison laughed, . 
too, but in a strange, choked, artificial way, as if he were being i 
sick in an airplane. He crossed his legs and flung one arm over r 
the back of his chair and glared at Myra as if he would have 
liked to choke her slowly and pleasurably to death. He didn't 
look at Louise Grayson. "B-b-beagle," chortled Myra, with tears 
streaming. "He said Beagle!" Dudley Pierce quietly won that: 
round, in the confusion, with Barnswallow. 

"All right, all right!" said Lindsey. "Here comes another. 
Here comes another. Ready ? A kind of dog!

"Beagle," said Viola Drake instantly, in her cool, even voice. . 
Nobody else, I am sure, would have thought of saying it: we 
had all been tricked again as far as naming that particular - 
breed of dog went, all except the inimitable Viola—and Kaley 
Geren, who was out in the kitchen moodily mixing drinks. 
Garrison apparently took Viola's answer as the further rubbing 
in of an insult. His face became heavily flushed again. Presently 
he observed that it was infernally late. I imagine that on the 
way home he suddenly "began on" Mrs. Garrison. "Beagle! 
Bah! Bird-dog, Baffin Bay hound, Bulldog, Boxer!" He prob- 
ably shouted at her, pounding the steering wheel with one 
gloved hand. "The hell with all those shallow-pated people! 
The hell with all of them, especially that simpering, giggling, 
empty-headed —— — – ——— of a Hertzman woman!" 

It is, I am sure, a bad game; a bad game for friends, unless 
they are the very best of friends. It is much better to play some 
nice, comfortable card game—say Red Dog. 

Mr. Pendly and the Poindexter 

Mr. Pendly hadn't driven the family car for five years, since, 
to be exact, the night of the twenty-third of October, 1930, 
when he mistook a pond for a new concrete road and turned! 
off onto it. He didn't really drive into the pond, only hovered! 
at the marge, for Mrs. Pendly shut off the ignition and jerked 1 
the emergency brake. Mr. Pendly was only forty-two, but hiss 
eyes weren't what they had been. After that night, Mrs. Pendly 
always drove the car. She even drove it during the daytime, for 
although Mr. Pendly could see in the daytime, his nerve was 
gone. He was obsessed with the fear that he wouldn't see the: 
traffic lights, or would get them mixed up with lights on store- 
fronts, or would jam on his brakes when postmen blew their r 
whistles. You can't drive toward a body of water thinking it's 
made of concrete without having your grip on yourself per- 
manently loosened. 

Mr. Pendly was not particularly unhappy about the actual 
fact of not driving a car any more. He had never liked to drive 
much. It galled him slightly that his wife could see better than 
be could and it gave him a feeling of inferiority to sit mildly 
Deside her while she solved the considerable problems of city 
traffic. He used to dream at night of descending, in an autogiro, 
on some garden party she was attending: he would come down 
in a fine landing, leap out, shout "Hahya, Bee!," sweep her 
into the machine, and zoom away. He used to think of things 
like that while he was riding with her. 

One day Mrs. Pendly said she thought they ought to trade in 
t£ie old car for another one. What she had in mind was a 
second-hand Poindexter—she was tired of small cars. You 
could, she said, get perfectly marvellous bargains in 1932 and 
1933 Poindexters. Mr. Pendly said he supposed you could. He 
didn't know anything about Poindexters, and very little about 
any automobile. He knew how to make them go and how to 
stop them, and how to back up. Mrs. Pendly was not good at 
backing up. When she turned her head and looked behind her, 
her mind and hands ceased to coordinate. It rather pleased Mr. 
Pendly that his wife was not good at backing up. Still, outside 
of that, she knew more about cars than he ever would. The 
thought depressed him. 

Mrs. Pendly went to the Poindexter Sales Company, up near 
Columbus Circle, one day, spent an hour looking around the 
various floors with a salesman named Huss, and located finally 
what she described to her husband that evening as a perfectly 
lovely bargain. True, it was a '31 model, but a late '31 model 
and not an early '31 model. Mr. Pendly said he didn't think 
there ever were two models in one year, but she said Mr. Huss 
told her there were, that everybody knew there were, and that 
you could tell by the radiator cap. 

She took Mr. Pendly up to the Poindexter place the next 
afternoon to see the car. They had to wait a long time for Mr. 
Huss. Mr. Pendly got restless. All the shining Poindexter 16's 
in the main showroom seemed to him as big as hook-and- 
ladders and as terrifying. He worried because he knew Mr. 
Huss would expect him to ask acute technical questions about 
the car, to complain of this and that. Mr. Huss, finding out 
that Mr. Pendly didn't know anything at all about automobiles, 
would sniff in surprise and disdain. A husband whose wife 
drove the car! 

Mr. Huss turned out to be a large, vital man. Mr. Pendly 
was vital enough, but not as large as Mr. Huss. Their meeting 
was not much fun for either one. As they got into an elevator 
to go to the sixth floor, where the lovely bargain was, Mr. Huss 
kept referring to it as a nice job. The sixth floor was filled with! 
second-hand cars and with mechanics, pounding and buffing; 
and tinkering. Mr. Pendly had the same feeling in the presence 
of mechanics that, as a child, he had had during church ser- 
mons: he felt that he was at the mercy of malignant powers 
beyond his understanding. 

When they stood in front of the Poindexter that Mrs. Pendly 
had picked out, Huss said to Mr. Pendly: "Whatta you think 
of that for a piece of merchandise?" Mr. Pendly touched a 
front fender with his fingers. The salesman waited for him ta 
say something, but he didn't say anything. The only part of a; 
car that Mr. Pendly could think of at the moment was the fan 
belt. He felt it would be silly to ask to see the fan belt. Maybe 
Poindexters didn't have fan belts. Mr. Pendly frowned, opened' 
the back door, and shut it. He noticed the monogram of the 
previous owner on the door. "That monogram," said Mr. 
Pendly, "would have to come off." Since it seemed that this 
was all Mr. Pendly had to say, his wife and Mr. Huss ignored 
him and got into an intricate talk about grinding valves, refin- 
ing brakes, putting in a new battery. Mr. Pendly felt the way 
he used to in school when he hadn't prepared his homework. 
He waited for an opening to cut in on the conversation and 
thought he saw one when Mrs. Pendly said that she didn't like 
the car not having a vacuum pump. Mr. Pendly jumped to the 
conclusion that a vacuum pump was something you could buy 
and put under the back seat, like a fire-extinguisher. "We could 
pick up a vacuum pump in any accessory shop," he said. Both 
his wife and Mr. Huss gave him a surprised look and then 
went on to the question of the rear tires. 

Mr. Pendly wandered sadly over to where a mechanic was 
lying under a big car. As he got there, the mechanic crawled 
out from under, jumped up, and brushed against Mr. Pendly. 
"Look out, Bud," said the mechanic, who was chewing tobacco. 
Bud walked back to where his wife and Mr. Huss were. He 
had suddenly thought of the word "transmission," and had 
some idea of asking Mr. Huss about that. It occurred to him, 
however, that maybe free-wheeling had done away with trans- 
mission and that he would just be showing his ignorance. Mr. 
Huss was trying to get the luggage compartment at the back 
of the Poindexter open, because Mrs. Pendly said she had to 
see how large it was. The key wouldn't work. Mr. Huss shouted 
for somebody named Mac, and presently the chewing mechanic 
walked over. He couldn't open the compartment either, and 
went away. Mrs. Pendly and the salesman walked off to look 
at the compartment on a similar car, and Mr. Pendly set to 
work. In a few minutes he found out what was the matter. 
You had to press down on the cover and then turn the key! 
He had the back open when his wife and Huss returned. They 
didn't pay any attention to it. They were talking about mileage, 

"I got the back open," said Mr. Pendly, finally. 

"This was a chauffeur-driven car," said Mr. Huss. "And it; 
was handled like a watch. There's another hundred thousand 
miles in it." 

"The front seat would have to be lowered," said Mrs. Pendly. 
"I couldn't be stuck way up in the air like that." 

"We'll take care of that," said Huss. "That'll be easy." 

"You want to see into the back now?" asked Mr. Pendly. 

"And you'd be sure to have the brakes tested?" Mrs. Pendly 
said to Huss. 

"Those brakes will be A-1 when the job leaves this room," 
said Huss. "We never turn out a piece of merchandise here that 
isn't A-1." 

Mr. Pendly shut the baggage compartment. Then he opened 
it again. He did this a couple more times. 

"Come on, Bert," his wife said. 

On the way home—Mrs. Pendly had decided to think the 
bargain over, although Huss said somebody else would snap it 
up if she didn't snap it up—Mr. Pendly sat beside his wife in 
their old car and thought. She prattled along about the Poin- 
dexter but he didn't really hear, although now and then he 
grunted some answer in a monotone. He was imagining that, 
as he sauntered over to Mac, Mac got out from under the big 
car he was working on and said: "Well, it's got me licked." 
Mr. Pendly smiled. "Yeah ?" he said, slowly removing his coat 
and vest. He handed them to Mac. Then he crawled under the 
car, looked the works over coldly, tinkered delicately and 
expertly with a couple of rods and a piston, tightened a winch 
gasket, blew softly into a valve, and crawled out again. He put 
on his coat and vest. "Try her now," he said, indifferently, to 
Mac. Mac tried her. She worked beautifully. The big mechanic 
turned slowly to Mr. Pendly and held out an oily hand. 
"Brother," said Mac, "I hand it to you. Where did you ev- ?" 

"What's the matter; are you in a trance or what?" asked 
Mrs. Pendly, pulling her husband's sleeve. He gave her a cold, 
superior look. 

"Never mind about me," he said. 

The Indian Sign 

"Mr. Pinwither is doing wonders with the new Cora Allyn 
letter," Mrs. Bentley told her husband. He winced slightly. 
Three letters about the old lady hadn't been enough; somebody 
had had to turn up another one. 

"That's fine," said Mr. Bentley, taking off his overcoat and 
hanging it up in the hall closet. 

"It's all about their moving to New Milford—in 1667," said 
Mrs. Bentley. "There's nothing new in it, he says, about the 
Indians." She seemed disappointed. 

"That's fine," said Mr. Bentley again. His wife, on the verge 
of a new eagerness, apparently didn't hear. 

"And," she said, "Cora learned a new word today!" This 
Cora, Mr. Bentley knew, was of course his little daughter. He 
really meant his "That's fine" this time. Still, he winced again. 
He had wanted to name his daughter Rosemary, after a dream. 
But his wife and all the stern and silly pride of the Allyns 
had been behind "Cora." Since a certain day almost three 
hundred years ago the first female born into every ramification 
of the Allyn family had been named Cora: "After old Cora 
Cora herself," as Henry Bentley said at the Comics' Club the 
night his daughter was born. 

The original Cora Allyn, his little girl's great-great-great- 
great-great-grandmother, had slain nineteen Pequot Indians 
single-handed in an incredible and dimly authenticated strug- 
gle near New London, Connecticut, in 1643, or 1644. The 
Allyns could never be positive of the year, for the letters bear- 
ing upon the incident were almost three centuries old, yellow 
and brittle and written crisscross, the thrifty and illegible 
Colonial method of saving postage charges. Two were undated 
and the date of the other was faded and tricky, like all of the 
writing in the three priceless heirlooms of the Allyn family. 
The letters purported to have been written by one Loyal 
Holgate, supposedly a young divine, and—Bentley had exam- 
ined them carefully, or as carefully as anyone who was not an 
Allyn was allowed to—there apparently were passages in them 
about one Cora Allyn's having slain nineteen Indians. Some of 
the most eminent antiquarians in the country, including Mr. 
Pinwither, had pored over the letters. They had all but one 
brought out of the vague, faint scrawlings virtually the same 
story of the early New England lady's heroic deed. The satur- 
nine Murray Kraull had, it is true, doubted that the word 
"nineteen" was really "nineteen" and even that "Pequots" was 
"Pequots." He had, indeed, gone so far as to suggest that the 
phrase might be "no male peacocks," for which heresy he had 
practically been hustled out of Mrs. Bentley's mother's house. 
The other experts had all conformed, however, to the letter - 
and the number—of the legend. In Henry Bentley's mind, as 
in Mr. Kraull's, there would always remain a doubt. 

Mr. Bentley, quietly and in secret, had long been elaborating 
on his doubt. So far as he had been able to find out, there was 
no record of a Cora Allyn who had slain nineteen Indians. 
There had been a rather famous incident in which a band of 
Pequots killed a Mrs. Anne Williamson, a Massachusetts 
woman who had settled near Stamford, but that was all. Once, 
to make a dinner topic, he had tossed out timidly to his wife 
that he had come upon an old history of the state at his office 
and so far had found in it no reference to any woman who 
had killed nineteen Indians. Mrs. Bentley's quick, indignant 
look had caused him to mumble the rest of his suspicions into 
his shirt-front. It was the closest he ever came to expressing 
openly his feeling in the matter. 

"The new letter," said Mrs. Bentley, as they walked into the 
living-room, "tells some more about Rockbottom Thraillkill, 
the minister who established the third church in what is now 
New Milford. It was called Appasottowams then, or some- 
thing like that. It is all in Mr. Pinwither's report." 

"That's close enough," said Mr. Bentley. He strove to change 
the subject. "What did my little girl say today?" he asked. 

"Cora? She said 'telephone.' " 

"That's fine," said Mr. Bentley. It was terrible the way he 
allowed the name Cora to affect him. There were literally 
hundreds of Coras among his wife's connections. They kept 
recurring, like leaf blight, among the spreading branches of 
the Allyn family. And scarcely a day went by but what some- 
one alluded to the first, great Cora. He encountered her glib 
ghost at all family gatherings, on all holidays, and before, 
during, and after every family ceremony, such as marriage, 
birth, christening, divorce, and death. 

Mrs. Bentley talked about the small excitements of her day 
during dinner. Her husband affected to listen, and now and 
then gave a sympathetic grunt, but he was quietly contemplat- 
ing that early American heroine who was so damnably inter- 
twined with his life. Supposing that the story about her were 
true? Why be so insistently conscious and so eternally proud 
of an ancestor who killed nineteen Indians? Her open- 
mouthed, wild-eyed gestures during the unmatronly ordeal, 
the awkwardness of her stance, the disarray of her apparel, 
must have been disturbingly unattractive. The vision of his 
litte daughter's forebear, who up to her great hour had 
undoubtedly depended rather charmingly upon a sturdy pio- 
neer husband, suddenly learning that she was more than a 
match for nineteen males affected Henry Bentley dismally; it 
saddened him to be continually carried back along the rocky, 
well-forgotten roads of American life to the prophetic figure 
of Cora Allyn, standing there against the sky, with her match- 
lock or her hunting knife or her axe handle, so outrageously 
and significantly triumphant. 

Henry had often tried to get a picture of the famous Cora's 
husband, old Coppice Allyn. There was little mention of him 
in the frail letters of almost three centuries ago. Old Coppice 
was rarely mentioned by the Allyns, either; he remained staunch 
but indistinct, like a figure in the background of a wood-cut. 
He had cleared away trees, he had built a house, he had dug a 
well, he had had a touch of brain fever—things like that: no 
vivid, red, immortal gestures. What must he have thought that 
April evening (not "April" but "apple," Kraull had made it 
out) when he came home from the fields to find a new gleam 
in his wife's eyes and nineteen new corpses under her feet? 
He must have felt some vague, alarming resentment; he must 
have realized, however dimly, that this was the beginning of a 
new weave in the fabric of life in the Colonies. Poor old 

"I want to show you," said Mrs. Bentley after dinner, "Mr. 
Pinwither's report. Of course it's just a preliminary. Mother 
sent it over." 

"That's fine," said Mr. Bentley. He watched his wife go out 
of the room and tried to be glad that she, at least, was not a 
Cora; her oldest sister held that honor. That was something. 
Mr. Bentley seized the chance, now that he was alone, to 
reflect upon his latest clandestine delving into the history of 
the Connecticut Indians. The Pequots, he had discovered in a 
book that very afternoon, had been woefully incompetent 
fighters. Some early militarist had written of them that, fight- 
ing as they did, they "couldn't have killed seven people in 
seven years." They shot their arrows high into the air: anybody 
could see them coming and step out of the way. The Colonial 
militiamen used to pick up the flinted sticks, break them in 
two, and laugh at their helpless foes. Even when the shafts did 
get home, they almost never killed; a neckcloth would turn 
them aside or even, as in the case of one soldier, a piece of 
cheese carried in one's pocket. Poor, pathetic, stupid old 
Pequots! Brave they had undeniably been, but dumb. Mr. 
Bentley had suddenly a rather kindly feeling for the Pequots. 
And he had, at the same time, a new, belittling vision of that 
grand old lady, the first Cora: he saw her leisurely firing 
through a chink in the wall of her house, taking all afternoon 
to knock off nineteen Indians who had no chance against her, 
who stood on the edge of a clearing firing arrows wistfully 
into the sky until one of the white woman's blunderbuss slugs 
- a tenpenny nail or a harness buckle—struck them down. If 
only they had rushed her! If only one of them had been smart 
enough to light the end of an arrow and stick it burning in 
the roof of the Allyn house ! They would have finished her off 
fast enough if they had ever got her outside! Mr. Bentley's 
heart beat faster and his eyes blinked brightly. 

"What is it?" asked Mrs. Bentley, coming back into the 
room. Her husband looked so eager and pleased, sitting there. 

"I was just thinking," he said. 

Mr. Pinwither's preliminary report on the new letter was 
long and dull. Mr. Bentley tried to look interested: he knew 
better than to appear indifferent to any holy relic connected 
with the Great Cora. 

"Cora's had such a day!" said Mrs. Bentley, as they were 
preparing for bed. "She went to sleep playing with those toy 
soldiers and Indians her Uncle Bert gave her." Mr. Bentley 
had one of his vivid pictures of Uncle Bert. "Urn," he said, and 
went downstairs to get his aspirin box out of his coat. 

Before he went to bed, Mr. Bentley stopped in the nursery 
to have a good-night look at his little sleeping daughter. She 
lay sweetly with her hands curled above her head. Mr. Bentley 
regarded the little girl with sad eyes. The line of her forehead 
and the curve of her chin were (or so the Allyns hysterically 
claimed) the unmistakable sign of the Great Cora, the proof of 
the child's proud heritage, the latest blaze along the trail. He 
stood above her, thinking, a long time. 

When Mr. Bentley went back to the bedroom, it was pitch- 
dark; his wife had turned out the light. He tiptoed in. He 
heard her slow, deep breathing. She was sound asleep. 

"Henry?" she called suddenly out of the blackness. Sur- 
prised, he did not answer. 

"Henry!" she said. There was uneasiness and drowsy be- 
wilderment in her voice. 

To Henry Bentley, standing there in the darkness, there 
came a quick, wild urge. He tried to restrain it, and then, 
abruptly, he gave way to it, with a profound sense of release. 
Patting the fingers of his right hand rapidly against his open 
lips, he gave, at the top of his voice, the Pequot war whoop: 
"Ah-wah-wah-wah-wah !" 

The Private Life of Mr. Bidwell 

From where she was sitting, Mrs. Bidwell could not see her 
husband, but she had a curious feeling of tension: she knew he 
was up to something. 

"What are you doing, George?" she demanded, her eyes still 
on her book. 


"What's the matter with you?" 

"Pahhhhh-h-h," said Mr. Bidwell, in a long, pleasurable ex- 
hale. "I was holding my breath." 

Mrs. Bidwell twisted creakingly in her chair and looked at 
him; he was sitting behind her in his favorite place under the 
parchment lamp with the street scene of old New York on it. 
"I was just holding my breath," he said again. 

"Well, please don't do it," said Mrs. Bidwell, and went back 
to her book. There was silence for five minutes. 

"George!" said Mrs. Bidwell. 

"Bwaaaaaa," said Mr. Bidwell. "What?" 

"Will you please stop that?" she said. "It makes me nervous." 

"I don't see how that bothers you," he said. "Can't I breathe?" 

"You can breathe without holding your breath like a goop," 
said Mrs. Bidwell. "Goop" was a word that she was fond of 
using; she rather lazily applied it to everything. It annoyed Mr. 

"Deep breathing," said Mr. Bidwell, in the impatient tone 
he used when explaining anything to his wife, "is good exer- 
cise. You ought to take more exercise." 

"Well, please don't do it around me," said Mrs. Bidwell, 
turning again to the pages of Mr. Galsworthy. 

At the Cowans' party, a week later, the room was full of 
chattering people when Mrs. Bidwell, who was talking to 
Lida Carroll, suddenly turned around as if she had been sum- 
moned. In a chair in a far corner of the room, Mr. Bidwell 
was holding his breath. His chest was expanded, his chin 
drawn in; there was a strange stare in his eyes, and his face 
was slightly empurpled. Mrs. Bidwell moved into the line of 
his vision and gave him a sharp, penetrating look. He deflated 
slowly and looked away. 

Later, in the car, after they had driven in silence a mile or 
more on the way home, Mrs. Bidwell said, "It seems to me you 
might at least have the kindness not to hold your breath in 
other people's houses." 

"I wasn't hurting anybody," said Mr. Bidwell. 

"You looked silly!" said his wife. "You looked perfectly 
crazy!" She was driving and she began to speed up, as she 
always did when excited or angry. "What do you suppose 
people thought—you sitting there all swelled up, with your 
eyes popping out?" 

"I wasn't all swelled up," he said, angrily. 

"You looked like a goop," she said. The car slowed down,
sighed, and came to a complete, despondent stop. 

"We're out of gas," said Mrs. Bid well. It was bitterly cold 
and nastily sleeting. Mr. Bidwell took a long, deep breath. 

The breathing situation in the Bidwell family reached a 
critical point when Mr. Bidwell began to inhale in his sleep, 
slowly, and exhale with a protracted, growling "woooooooo." 
Mrs. Bidwell, ordinarily a sound sleeper (except on nights 
when she was sure burglars were getting in), would wake up 
and reach over and shake her husband. "George !" she would 

"Hawwwwww," Mr. Bidwell would say, thickly. "Wahs 
maanah, hm?" 

After he had turned over and gone back to sleep, Mrs. 
Bidwell would lie awake, thinking. 

One morning at breakfast she said, "George, I'm not going 
to put up with this another day. If you can't stop blowing up 
like a grampus, I'm going to leave you." There was a slight, 
quick lift in Mr. Bidwell's heart, but he tried to look surprised 
and hurt. 

"All right," he said. "Let's not talk about it." 

Mrs. Bidwell buttered another piece of toast. She described 
to him the way he sounded in his sleep. He read the paper. 

With considerable effort, Mr. Bidwell kept from inflating 
his chest for about a week, but one night at the McNally's he 
hit on the idea of seeing how many seconds he could hold his 
breath. He was rather bored by the McNally's party, anyway. 
He began timing himself with his wrist-watch in a remote 
corner of the living-room. Mrs. Bidwell, who was in the kitchen 
talking children and clothes with Bea McNally, left her 
abruptly and slipped back into the living-room. She stood 
quietly behind her husband's chair. He knew she was there, 
and tried to let out his breath imperceptibly. 

"I see you," she said, in a low, cold tone. Mr. Bidwell jumped 

"Why don't you let me alone?" he demanded. 

"Will you please lower your voice ?" she said, smiling so that 
if anyone were looking he wouldn't think the Bidwells were 

"I'm getting pretty damned tired of this," said Bidwell in a 
low voice. 

"You've ruined my evening!" she whispered. 

"You've ruined mine, too!" he whispered back. They knifed 
each other, from head to stomach, with their eyes. 

"Sitting here like a goop, holding your breath," said Mrs. 
Bidwell. "People will think you are an idiot." She laughed, 
turning to greet a lady who was approaching them. 

Mr. Bidwell sat in his office the next afternoon, a black, moist 
afternoon, tapping a pencil on his desk, and scowling. "All 
right, then, get out, get out!" he muttered. "What do I care?" 
He was visualizing the scene when Mrs. Bidwell would walk 
out on him. After going through it several times, he returned 
to his work, feeling vaguely contented. He made up his mind 
to breathe any way he wanted to, no matter what she did. And, 
having come to this decision, he oddly enough, and quite 
without effort, lost interest in holding his breath. 

Everything went rather smoothly at the Bidwells' for a 
month or so. Mr. Bidwell didn't do anything to annoy his wife 
beyond leaving his razor on her dressing-table and forgetting 
to turn out the hall light when he went to bed. Then there 
came the night of the Bentons' party. 

Mr. Bidwell, bored as usual, was sitting in a far corner of 
the room, breathing normally. His wife was talking animatedly 
with Beth Williamson about negligees. Suddenly her voice 
slowed and an uneasy look came into her eyes : George was up 
to something. She turned around and sought him out. To any- 
one but Mrs. Bidwell he must have seemed like any husband 
sitting in a chair. But his wife's lips set tightly. She walked 
casually over to him. 

"What are you doing?" she demanded. 

"Hm?" he said, looking at her vacantly. 

"What are you doing?" she demanded, again. He gave her at 
harsh, venomous look, which she returned. 

"I'm multiplying numbers in my head," he said, slowly and 
evenly, "if you must know." In the prolonged, probing exam- 
ination that they silently, without moving any muscles save 
those of their eyes, gave each other, it became solidly, frozenly 
apparent to both of them that the end of their endurance had 
arrived. The curious bond that held them together snapped—
rather more easily than either had supposed was possible. That 
night, while undressing for bed, Mr. Bidwell calmly multiplied 
numbers in his head. Mrs. Bidwell stared coldly at him for a 
few moments, holding a stocking in her hand; she didn't 
bother to berate him. He paid no attention to her. The thing 
was simply over. 

George Bidwell lives alone now (his wife remarried). He 
never goes to parties any more, and his old circle of friends 
rarely sees him. The last time that any of them did see him, 
he was walking along a country road with the halting, uncer- 
tain gait of a blind man: he was trying to see how many steps 
he could take without opening his eyes. 

The Curb in the Sky 

When Charlie Deshler announced that he was going to marry 
Dorothy, someone said he would lose his mind posthaste. "No," 
said a wit who knew them both, "post hoc." Dorothy had 
begun, when she was quite young, to finish sentences for 
people. Sometimes she finished them wrongly, which annoyed 
the person who was speaking, and sometimes she finished them 
correctly, which annoyed the speaker even more. 

"When William Howard Taft was—" some guest in Dor- 
othy's family's home would begin. 

"President!" Dorothy would pipe up. The speaker may have 
meant to say "President" or he may have meant to say 
"young," or "Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United 
States." In any case, he would shortly put on his hat and go 
home. Like most parents, Dorothy's parents did not seem to be 
conscious that her mannerism was a nuisance. Very likely they 
thought that it was cute, or even bright. It is even probable 
that when Dorothy's mother first said "Come, Dorothy, eat 
your—" and Dorothy said "Spinach, dear," the former tele- 
phoned Dorothy's father at the office and told him about it, and 
he told everybody he met that day about it—and the next day 
and the day after. 

When Dorothy grew up she became quite pretty and so even 
more of a menace. Gentlemen became attracted to her and then 
attached to her. Emotionally she stirred them, but mentally 
she soon began to wear them down. Even in her late teens she 
began correcting their English. "Not 'was,' Arthur," she would 
say, "'were.' 'Were prepared.' See?" Most of her admirers 
tolerated this habit because of their interest in her lovely 
person, but as time went on and her interest in them remained 
more instructive than sentimental, they slowly drifted away to 
less captious, if dumber, girls. 

Charlie Deshler, however, was an impetuous man, of the 
sweep-them-off-their-feet persuasion, and he became engaged to 
Dorothy so quickly and married her in so short a time that, 
being deaf to the warnings of friends, whose concern he 
regarded as mere jealousy, he really didn't know anything 
about Dorothy except that she was pretty and bright-eyed and 
(to him) desirable. 

Dorothy as a wife came, of course, into her great flowering: 
she took to correcting Charlie's stories. He had travelled widely 
and experienced greatly and was a truly excellent raconteur, 
Dorothy was, during their courtship, genuinely interested in 
him and in his stories, and since she had never shared any of 
the adventures he told about, she could not know when he 
made mistakes in time or in place or in identities. Beyond 
suggesting a change here and there in the number of a verb, 
she more or less let him alone. Charlie spoke rather good Eng- 
lish, anyway—he knew when to say "were" and when to say 
"was" after "if"—and this was another reason he didn't find 
Dorothy out. 

I didn't call on them for quite a while after they were mar- 
ried, because I liked Charlie and I knew I would feel low if I 
saw him coming out of the anesthetic of her charms and 
beginning to feel the first pains of reality. When I did finally 
call, conditions were, of course, all that I had feared. Charlie 
began to tell, at dinner, about a motor trip the two had made 
to this town and that—I never found out for sure what towns, 
because Dorothy denied almost everything that Charlie said. 
"The next day," he would say, "we got an early start and drove 
two hundred miles to Fairview—" "Well," Dorothy would say, 
"I wouldn't call it early. It wasn't as early as the first day we 
set out, when we got up about seven. And we only drove a 
hundred and eighty miles, because I remember looking at that 
mileage thing when we started." 

"Anyway, when we got to Fairview—" Charlie would go on. 
But Dorothy would stop him. "Was it Fairview that day, dar- 
ling?" she would ask. Dorothy often interrupted Charlie by 
asking him if he were right, instead of telling him that he was 
wrong, but it amounted to the same thing, for if he would 
reply: "Yes, I'm sure it was Fairview," she would say: "But it 
wasn't, darling," and then go on with the story herself. (She 
called everybody that she differed from "darling.") 

Once or twice, when I called on them or they called on me, 
Dorothy would let Charlie get almost to the climax of some 
interesting account of a happening and then, like a tackier from 
behind, throw him just as he was about to cross the goal-line. 
There is nothing in life more shocking to the nerves and to the 
mind than this. Some husbands will sit back amiably—almost 
it seems, proudly—when their wives interrupt, and let them 
go on with the story, but these are beaten husbands. Charlie 
did not become beaten. But his wife's tackles knocked the wind 
out of him, and he began to realize that he would have to do 
something. What he did was rather ingenious. At the end of 
the second year of their marriage, when you visited the Desh- 
lers, Charlie would begin some outlandish story about a dream 
he had had, knowing that Dorothy could not correct him on 
his own dreams. They became the only life he had that was 
his own. 

"I thought I was running an airplane," he would say, "made 
out of telephone wires and pieces of old leather. I was trying 
to make it fly to the moon, taking off from my bedroom. About 
halfway up to the moon, however, a man who looked like 
Santa Claus, only he was dressed in the uniform of a customs 
officer, waved at me to stop—he was in a plane made of tele- 
phone wires, too. So I pulled over to a cloud. 'Here,' he said 
to me, 'you can't go to the moon, if you are the man who in- 
vented these wedding cookies.' Then he showed me a cookie 
made in the shape of a man and woman being married—little 
images of a man and a woman and a minister, made of dough 
and fastened firmly to a round, crisp cookie base." So he would 
go on. 

Any psychiatrist will tell you that at the end of the way 
Charlie was going lies madness in the form of monomania. 
You can't live in a fantastic dream world, night in and night 
out and then day in and day out, and remain sane. The sub- 
stance began to die slowly out of Charlie's life, and he began 
to live entirely in shadow. And since monomania of this sort 
is likely to lead in the end to the reiteration of one particular 
story, Charlie's invention began to grow thin and he eventually 
took to telling, over and over again, the first dream he had ever 
described—the story of his curious flight toward the moon in 
an airplane made of telephone wires. It was extremely pain- 
ful. It saddened us all. 

After a month or two, Charlie finally had to be sent to an 
asylum. I was out of town when they took him away, but Joe 
Fultz, who went with him, wrote me about it. "He seemed 
to like it up here right away," Joe wrote. "He's calmer and 
his eyes look better." (Charlie had developed a wild, hunted 
look.) "Of course," concluded Joe, "he's finally got away from 
that woman." 

It was a couple of weeks later that I drove up to the asylum 
to see Charlie. He was lying on a cot on a big screened-in 
porch, looking wan and thin. Dorothy was sitting on a chain 
beside his bed, bright-eyed and eager. I was somehow sur- 
prised to see her there, having figured that Charlie had, at least, 
won sanctuary from his wife. He looked quite mad. He began 
at once to tell me the story of his trip to the moon. He got 
to the part where the man who looked like Santa Claus waved 
at him to stop. "He was in a plane made of telephone wires, 
too," said Charlie. "So I pulled over to a curb " 

"No. You pulled over to a cloud" said Dorothy. "There 
aren't any curbs in the s\y. There couldn't be. You pulled 
over to a cloud." 

Charlie sighed and turned slighdy in his bed and looked at 
me. Dorothy looked at me, too, with her pretty smile. 

"He always gets that story wrong," she said. 

Mr. Preble Gets Rid of His Wife 

Mr. Preble was a plump middle-aged lawyer in Scarsdale. 
He used to kid with his stenographer about running away with 
him. "Let's run away together," he would say, during a pause 
in dictation. "All righty," she would say. 

One rainy Monday afternoon, Mr. Preble was more serious 
about it than usual. 

"Let's run away together," said Mr. Preble. 

"All righty," said his stenographer. Mr. Preble jingled the 
keys in his pocket and looked out the window. 

"My wife would be glad to get rid of me," he said. 

"Would she give you a divorce?" asked the stenographer. 

"I don't suppose so," he said. The stenographer laughed. 

"You'd have to get rid of your wife," she said. 

Mr. Preble was unusually silent at dinner that night. About 
half an hour after coffee, he spoke without looking up from 
his paper. 

"Let's go down in the cellar," Mr. Preble said to his wife. 

"What for?" she said, not looking up from her book. 

"Oh, I don't know," he said. "We never go down in the 
cellar any more. The way we used to." 

"We never did go down in the cellar that I remember," said 
Mrs. Preble. "I could rest easy the balance of my life if I never 
went down in the cellar." Mr. Preble was silent for several 

"Supposing I said it meant a whole lot to me," began Mr. 

"What's come over you?" his wife demanded. "It's cold 
down there and there is absolutely nothing to do." 

"We could pick up pieces of coal," said Mr. Preble. "We 
might get up some kind of a game with pieces of coal." 

"I don't want to," said his wife. "Anyway, I'm reading." 

"Listen," said Mr. Preble, rising and walking up and down. 
"Why won't you come down in the cellar ? You can read down 
there, as far as that goes." 

"There isn't a good enough light down there," she said, "and 
anyway, I'm not going to go down in the cellar. You may as i 
well make up your mind to that." 

"Gee whiz!" said Mr. Preble, kicking at the edge of a rug. 
"Other people's wives go down in the cellar. Why is it you 
never want to do anything? I come home worn out from the 
office and you won't even go down in the cellar with me. God 
knows it isn't very far—it isn't as if I was asking you to go 
to the movies or some place." 

"I don't want to go!" shouted Mrs. Preble. Mr. Preble sat 
down on the edge of a davenport. 

"All right, all right" he said. He picked up the newspaper 
again. "I wish you'd let me tell you more about it. It's—kind 
of a surprise." 

"Will you quit harping on that subject ?" asked Mrs. Preble. 

"Listen," said Mr. Preble, leaping to his feet. "I might as well 
tell you the truth instead of beating around the bush. I want to 
get rid of you so I can marry my stenographer. Is there any- 
thing especially wrong about that? People do it every day. 
Love is something you can't control " 

"We've been all over that," said Mrs. Preble. "I'm not going 
to go all over that again." 

"I just wanted you to know how things are," said Mr. Preble. 
"But you have to take everything so literally. Good Lord, do 
you suppose I really wanted to go down in the cellar and 
make up some silly game with pieces of coal ?" 

"I never believed that for a minute," said Mrs. Preble. "I 
knew all along you wanted to get me down there and bury 

"You can say that now—after I told you," said Mr. Preble. 
"But it would never have occurred to you if I hadn't." 

"You didn't tell me; I got it out of you," said Mrs. Preble. 
"Anyway, I'm always two steps ahead of what you're 

"You're never within a mile of what I'm thinking," said 
Mr. Preble. 

"Is that so ? I knew you wanted to bury me the minute you 
set foot in this house tonight." Mrs. Preble held him with a 

"Now that's just plain damn exaggeration," said Mr. Preble, 
considerably annoyed. "You knew nothing of the sort. As a 
matter of fact, I never thought of it till just a few minutes 

"It was in the back of your mind," said Mrs. Preble. "I 
suppose this filing woman put you up to it." 

"You needn't get sarcastic," said Mr. Preble. "I have plenty 
of people to file without having her file. She doesn't know 
anything about this. She isn't in on it. I was going to tell her 
you had gone to visit some friends and fell over a cliff. She 
wants me to get a divorce." 

"That's a laugh," said Mrs. Preble. "That's a laugh. You 
may bury me, but you'll never get a divorce." 

"She knows that! I told her that," said Mr. Preble. "I mean 
—I told her I'd never get a divorce." 

"Oh, you probably told her about burying me, too," said 
Mrs. Preble. 

"That's not true," said Mr. Preble, with dignity. "That's 
between you and me. I was never going to tell a soul." 

"You'd blab it to the whole world; don't tell me," said Mrs. 
Preble. "I know you." Mr. Preble puffed at his cigar. 

"I wish you were buried now and it was all over with," he 

"Don't you suppose you would get caught, you crazy thing?" 
she said. "They always get caught. Why don't you go to bed ? 
You're just getting yourself all worked up over nothing." 

"I'm not going to bed," said Mr. Preble. "I'm going to bury 
you in the cellar. I've got my mind made up to it. I don't know 
how I could make it any plainer." 

"Listen," cried Mrs. Preble, throwing her book down, "will 
you be satisfied and shut up if I go down in the cellar? Can 
I have a little peace if I go down in the cellar? Will you let 
me alone then?" 

"Yes," said Mr. Preble. "But you spoil it by taking that atti- 

"Sure, sure, I always spoil everything. I stop reading right in 
the middle of a chapter. I'll never know how the story comes 
out—but that's nothing to you." 

"Did I make you start reading the book?" asked Mr. Preble. 
He opened the cellar door. "Here, you go first." 

"Brrr," said Mrs. Preble, starting down the steps. "It's cold 
down here ! You would think of this, at this time of year ! Any 
other husband would have buried his wife in the summer." 

"You can't arrange those things just whenever you want to," 
said Mr. Preble. "I didn't fall in love with this girl till late 

"Anybody else would have fallen in love with her long be- 
fore that. She's been around for years. Why is it you always let 
other men get in ahead of you ? Mercy, but it's dirty down 
here! What have you got there?" 

"I was going to hit you over the head with this shovel," said 
Mr. Preble. 

"You were, huh?" said Mrs. Preble. "Well, get that out off 
your mind. Do you want to leave a great big clue right here 
in the middle of everything where the first detective that comes 
snooping around will find it? Go out in the street and find 
some piece of iron or something—something that doesn't be- ¦ 
long to you." 

"Oh, all right," said Mr. Preble. "But there won't be any 
piece of iron in the street. Women always expect to pick up a 
piece of iron anywhere." 

"If you look in the right place you'll find it," said Mrs. 
Preble. "And don't be gone long. Don't you dare stop in at the 
cigarstore. I'm not going to stand down here in this cold cellar 
all night and freeze." 

"All right," said Mr. Preble. "I'll hurry." 

"And shut that door behind you!" she screamed after him. 
"Where were you born—in a barn?" 

A Portrait of Aunt Ida 

My mother's Aunt Ida Clemmens died the other day out 
West. She was ninety-one years old. I remember her clearly, 
although I haven't thought about her in a long time and never 
saw her after I was twenty. I remember how dearly she loved 
catastrophes, especially those of a national or international im- 
portance. The sinking of the Titanic was perhaps the most 
important tragedy of the years in which I knew her. She 
never saw in such things, as her older sisters, Emma and Clara, 
did, the vengeance of a Deity outraged by Man's lust for speed 
and gaiety; she looked for the causes deep down in the dark 
heart of the corporate interests. You could never make her be- 
lieve that the Titanic hit an iceberg. Whoever heard of such a 
thing! It was simply a flimsy prevarication devised to cover up 
the real cause. The real cause she could not, or would not, make 
plain, but somewhere in its black core was a monstrous secret 
of treachery and corrupt goings-on—men were like that. She 
came later on to doubt the courage of the brave gentlemen on 
the sinking ship who at the last waved goodbye smilingly and 
smoked cigarettes. It was her growing conviction that most 
of them had to be shot by the ship's officers in order to prevent 
them from crowding into the lifeboats ahead of the older and 
less attractive women passengers. Eminence and wealth in men 
Aunt Ida persistently attributed to deceit, trickery, and impiety. 
I think the only famous person she ever trusted in her time 
was President McKinley. 

The disappearance of Judge Crater, the Hall-Mills murder, 
the Starr Faithfull case, and similar mysteries must have made 
Aunt Ida's last years happy. She loved the unsolvable and the 
unsolved. Mysteries that were never cleared up were brought 
about, in her opinion, by the workings of some strange force 
in the world which we do not thoroughly understand and 
which God does not intend that we ever shall understand. An 
invisible power, a power akin to electricity and radio (both 
of which she must have regarded as somehow or other blas- 
phemous), but never to be isolated or channelled. Out of this 
power came murder, disappearances, and supernatural phe- 
nomena. All persons connected in any way whatever with cele- 
brated cases were tainted in Aunt Ida's sight—and that went 
for prosecuting attorneys, too (always "tricky" men). But she 
would, I'm sure, rather have had a look at Willie Stevens than 
at President Roosevelt, at Jafsie than at the King of England, 
just as she would rather have gone through the old Wendel 
house than the White House. 

Surgical operations and post-mortems were among Aunt Ida's 
special interests, although she did not believe that any opera- 
tion was ever necessary, and she was convinced that post-mor- 
tems were conducted to cover up something rather than to find 
something out. It was her conviction that doctors were in the 
habit of trying to obfuscate or distort the true facts about ill- 
ness and death. She believed that many of her friends and rela- 
tives had been laid away without the real causes of their deaths 
being entered on the "city books." She was fond of telling a 
long and involved story about the death of one of her first 
cousins, a married woman who had passed away at twenty- 
five. Aunt Ida for thirty years contended that there was some- 
thing "behind it." She believed that a certain physician, a 
gentleman of the highest reputation, would some day "tell 
the truth about Ruth," perhaps on his deathbed. When he died 
(without confessing, of course), she said after reading the ac- 
count in the newspaper that she had dreamed of him a few 
nights before. It seemed that he had called to her and wanted 
to tell her something but couldn't. 

Aunt Ida believed that she was terribly psychic. She had 
warnings, premonitions, and "feelings." They were invariably 
intimations of approaching misfortune, sickness, or death. She 
never had a premonition that everything was going to be all 
right. It was always that Grace So-and-So was not going to 
marry the man she was engaged to, or that Mr. Hollowell, who 
was down in South America on business, would never return, 
or that old Mrs. Hutchins would not last out the year (she 
missed on old Mrs. Hutchins for twenty-two years but finally 
made it) . Most all of Aunt Ida's forewarnings of financial ruin 
and marital tragedy came in the daytime while she was mar- 
keting or sitting hulling peas; most all of her intimations of 
death appeared to her in dreams. Dreams of Ohio women 
of Aunt Ida's generation were never Freudian; they were 
purely prophetic. They dealt with black hearses and white 
hearses rolling soundlessly along through the night, and with 
coffins being carried out of houses, and with tombstones bear- 
ing names and dates, and with tall, faceless women in black 
veils and gloves. Most of Aunt Ida's dreams foretold the fate 
of women, for what happened to women was of much greater 
importance to Aunt Ida than what happened to men. Men 
usually "brought things on themselves"; women, on the other 
hand, were usually the victims of dark and devious goings- 
on of a more or less supernatural nature. 

Birth was, in some ways, as dark a matter to Aunt Ida as 
death. She felt that most babies, no matter what you said or 
anybody else said, were "not wanted." She believed that the 
children of famous people, brilliant people, and of first, second, 
or third cousins would be idiotic. If a child died young, she 
laid it to the child's parentage, no matter what the immediate 
cause of death might have been. "There is something in that 
family," Aunt Ida used to say, in her best funeral voice. This 
something was a vague, ominous thing, both far off and 
close at hand, misty and ready to spring, compounded of no- 
body could guess exactly what. One of Aunt Ida's favorite pre- 
dictions was "They'll never raise that baby, you mark my 
words." The fact that they usually did never shook her confi- 
dence in her "feelings." If she was right once in twenty times, 
it proved that she knew what she was talking about. In fore- 
telling the sex of unborn children, she was right about half 
the time. 

Life after death was a source of speculation, worry, and ex- 
hilaration to Aunt Ida. She firmly believed that people could 
"come back" and she could tell you of many a house that was 
haunted (barrels of apples rolled down the attic steps of one of 
them, I remember, but it was never clear why they did). Aunt 
Ida put no faith in mediums or séances. The dead preferred 
to come back to the houses where they had lived and to go 
stalking through the rooms and down the halls. I think Aunt 
Ida always thought of them as coming back in the flesh, fully 
clothed, for she always spoke of them as "the dead," never as 
ghosts. The reason they came back was that they had left some- 
thing unsaid or undone that must be corrected. Although a 
descendant of staunch orthodox Methodists, some of them min- 
isters, Aunt Ida in her later years dabbled a little in various 
religions, superstitions, and even cults. She found astrology, 
New Thought, and the theory of reincarnation comforting. 
The people who are bowed down in this life, she grew to be- 
lieve, will have another chance. 

Aunt Ida was confident that the world was going to be 
destroyed almost any day. When Halley's comet appeared in 
1910, she expected to read in the papers every time she picked 
them up the news that Paris had gone up in flames and that 
New York City had slid into the ocean. Those two cities, being 
horrible dens of vice, were bound to go first; the smaller towns 
would be destroyed in a more leisurely fashion with some re- 
spectable and dignified ending for the pious and the kindly 

Two of Aunt Ida's favorite expressions were "I never heard 
of such a thing" and "If I never get up from this chair. . . ." 
She told all stories of death, misfortune, grief, corruption, and 
disaster with vehemence and exaggeration. She was hampered 
in narration by her inability to think of names, particularly 
simple names, such as Joe, Earl, Ned, Harry, Louise, Ruth, 
Bert. Somebody usually had to prompt her with the name of 
the third cousin, or whomever, that she was trying to think 
of, but she was unerring in her ability to remember difficult 
names the rest of us had long forgotten. "He used to work in 
the old Schirtzberger & Wallenheim saddle store in Naughton 
Street," she would say. "What was his name?" It would turn 
out that his name was Frank Butler. 

Up to the end, they tell me, Aunt Ida could read without 
her glasses, and none of the commoner frailties of senility af- 
fected her. She had no persecution complex, no lapses of mem- 
ory, no trailing off into the past, no unfounded bitternesses— 
unless you could call her violent hatred of cigarettes unfounded 
bitterness, and I don't think it was, because she actually knew 
stories of young men and even young women who had become 
paralyzed to the point of losing the use of both legs through 
smoking cigarettes. She tended to her begonias and wrote out 
a check for the rent the day she took to her bed for the last 
time. It irked her not to be up and about, and she accused the 
doctor the family brought in of not knowing his business. 
There was marketing to do, and friends to call on, and work 
to get through with. When friends and relatives began calling 
on her, she was annoyed. Making out that she was really sick! 
Old Mrs. Kurtz, who is seventy-two, visited her on the last 
day, and when she left, Aunt Ida looked after her pityingly 
"Poor Cora," she said, "she's failin', ain't she?" 

The Luck of Jad Peters 

Aunt Emma Peters, at eighty-three—the year she died—still 
kept in her unused front parlor, on the table with Jad Peters's 
collection of lucky souvenirs, a large rough fragment of rock 
weighing perhaps twenty pounds. The rock stood in the centre 
of a curious array of odds and ends: a piece of tent canvas, a 
chip of pine wood, a yellowed telegram, some old newspaper 
clippings, the cork from a bottle, a bill from a surgeon. Aunt 
Emma never talked about the strange collection except once, 
during her last days, when somebody asked her if she wouldn't 
feel better if the rock were thrown away. "Let it stay where 
Lisbeth put it," she said. All that I know about the souvenirs 
I have got from other members of the family. A few of them 
didn't think it was "decent" that the rock should have been 
part of the collection, but Aunt Lisbeth, Emma's sister, had 
insisted that it should be. In fact, it was Aunt Lisbeth Banks 
who hired a man to lug it to the house and put it on the table 
with the rest of the things. "It's as much God's doing as that 
other clutter-trap," she would say. And she would rock back 
and forth in her rocking chair with a grim look. "You can't 
taunt the Lord," she would add. She was a very religious 
woman. I used to see her now and again at funerals, tall, gaunt, 
grim, but I never talked to her if I could help it. She liked 
funerals and she liked to look at corpses, and that made me 
afraid of her. 

Just back of the souvenir table at Aunt Emma's, on the wall, 
hung a heavy-framed, full-length photograph of Aunt Emma's 
husband, Jad Peters. It showed him wearing a hat and overcoat 
and carrying a suitcase. When I was a little boy in the early 
nineteen-hundreds and was taken to Aunt Emma's house near 
Sugar Grove, Ohio, I used to wonder about that photograph 
(I didn't wonder about the rock and the other objects, because 
they weren't put there till much later). It seemed so funny for 
anyone to be photographed in a hat and overcoat and carry- 
ing a suitcase, and even funnier to have the photograph en- 
larged! to almost life size and put inside so elaborate a frame. 
When we children would sneak into the front parlor to look at 
the picture, Aunt Emma would hurry us out again. When we 
asked her about the picture, she would say, "Never you mind." 
But when I grew up, I learned the story of the big photograph 
and of how Jad Peters came to be known as Lucky Jad. As a 
matter of fact, it was Jad who began calling himself that; once 
when he ran for a county office (and lost) he had "Lucky 
Jad Peters" printed on his campaign cards. Nobody else took 
the name up except in a scoffing way. 

It seems that back in 1888, when Jad Peters was about thirty 
five, he had a pretty good business of some kind or other which 
caused him to travel around quite a lot. One week he went 
to New York with the intention of going on to Newport, later, 
by ship. Something turned up back home, however, and one 
of his employees sent him a telegram reading "Don't go to 
Newport. Urgent you return here." Jad's story was that he was 
on the ship, ready to sail, when the telegram was delivered; 
it had been sent to his hotel, he said, a few minutes after he 
had checked out, and an obliging clerk had hustled the mes- 
senger boy on down to the dock. That was Jad's story. Most 
people believed, when they heard the story, that Jad had got 
the wire at his hotel, probably hours before the ship sailed, for 
he was a great one at adorning a tale. At any rate, whether 
or not he rushed off the ship just before the gangplank was 
hauled up, it sailed without him and some eight or nine hours 
out of the harbor sank in a storm with the loss of everybody 
on board. That's why he had the photograph taken and en- 
larged: it showed him just as he was when he got off the 
ship, he said. And that is how he came to start his collection 
of lucky souvenirs. For a few years he kept the telegram, and 
newspaper clippings of the ship disaster, tucked away in the 
family Bible, but one day he got them out and put them on 
the parlor table under a big glass bell. 

From 1888 up until 1920, when Jad died, nothing much hap- 
pened to him. He is remembered in his later years as a gar- 
rulous, boring old fellow whose business slowly went to pieces 
because of his lack of industry and who finally settled down 
on a small farm near Sugar Grove and barely scraped out an 
existence. He took to drinking in his sixties, and from then 
on made Aunt Emma's life miserable. I don't know how she 
managed to keep up the payments on his life-insurance policy, 
but some way or other she did. Some of her relatives said 
among themselves that it would be a blessing if Jad died in 
one of his frequent fits of nausea. It was pretty well known that 
Aunt Emma had never liked him very much—she married 
him because he asked her to twice a week for seven years and 
because there had been nobody else she cared about; she stayed 
married to him on account of their children and because her 
people always stayed married. She grew, in spite of Jad, to be 
a quiet, kindly old lady as the years went on, although her 
mouth would take on a strained, tight look when Jad showed 
up at dinner time from wherever he had been during the day 
— usually from down at Prentice's store in the village, where he 
liked to sit around telling about the time he just barely got 
off the doomed boat in New York harbor in '88 and adding 
tales, more or less fantastic, of more recent close escapes he had 
had. There was his appendicitis operation, for one thing: he 
had come out of the ether, he would say, just when they had 
given him up. Dr. Benham, who had performed the opera- 
tion, was annoyed when he heard this, and once met Jad in the 
street and asked him to quit repeating the preposterous story, 
but Jad added the doctor's bill to his collection of talismans, 
anyway. And there was the time when he had got up in the 
night to take a swig of stomach bitters for a bad case of heart- 
burn and had got hold of the carbolic-acid bottle by mistake. 
Something told him, he would say, to take a look at the bottle 
before he uncorked it, so he carried it to a lamp, lighted the 
lamp, and he'd be gol-dam if it wasn't carbolic acid! It was 
then that he added the cork to his collection. 

Old Jad got so that he could figure out lucky escapes for 
himself in almost every disaster and calamity that happened in 
and around Sugar Grove. Once, for example, a tent blew down 
during a wind storm at the Fairfield County Fair, killing two 
people and injuring a dozen others. Jad hadn't gone to the fair 
that year for the first time in nine or ten years. Something 
told him, he would say, to stay away from the fair that year. 
The fact that he always went to the fair, when he did go, on a 
Thursday and that the tent blew down on a Saturday didn't 
make any difference to Jad. He hadn't been there and the tent 
blew down and two people were killed. After the accident, he 
went to the fair grounds and cut a piece of canvas from the 
tent and put it on the parlor table next to the cork from the 
carbolic-acid bottle. Lucky Jad Peters! 

I think Aunt Emma got so that she didn't hear Jad when 
he was talking, except on evenings when neighbors dropped in, 
and then she would have to take hold of the conversation and 
steer it away from any opening that might give Jad a chance 
to tell of some close escape he had had. But he always got his 
licks in. He would bide his time, creaking back and forth in 
his chair, clicking his teeth, and not listening much to the talk 
about crops and begonias and the latest reports on the Spen- 
cers' feeble-minded child, and then, when there was a long 
pause, he would clear his throat and say that that reminded 
him of the time he had had a mind to go down to Pullen's 
lumber yard to fetch home a couple of two-by-fours to shore 
up the chicken house. Well, sir, he had pottered around the 
house a little while and was about to set out for Pullen's when 
something told him not to go a step. And it was that very day 
that a pile of lumber in the lumber yard let go and crushed 
Grant Pullen's leg so's it had to be amputated. Well, sir, he 
would say—but Aunt Emma would cut in on him at this point. 
"Everybody's heard that old chestnut," she would say, with a 
forced little laugh, fanning herself in quick strokes with an old 
palm-leaf fan. Jad would go sullen and rock back and forth in 
his chair, clicking his teeth. He wouldn't get up when the 
guests rose to go—which they always did at this juncture. The 
memento of his close escape from the Pullen lumber-yard 
disaster was, of course, the chip of pine wood. 

I think I have accounted for all of Jad's souvenirs that I re- 
member except the big rough fragment of rock. The story of 
the rock is a strange one. In August, 1920, county engineers 
were widening the channel of the Hocking River just outside 
of Sugar Grove and had occasion to do considerable blasting 
out of river-bed rock. I have never heard Clem Warden tell the 
story himself, but it has been told to me by people who have. 
It seems that Clem was walking along the main street of 
Sugar Grove at about a quarter to four when he saw Jad com- 
ing along toward him. Clem was an old crony of Jad's—one 
of the few men of his own generation who could tolerate Jad 
—and the two stopped on the sidewalk and talked. Clem fig- 
ured later that they had talked for about five minutes, and 
then either he or Jad said something about getting on, so they 
separated, Jad going on toward Prentice's store, slowly, on 
account of his rheumatic left hip, and Clem going in the other 
direction. Clem had taken about a dozen steps when suddenly 
he heard Jad call to him. "Say, Clem!', Jad said. Clem stopped 
and turned around, and here was Jad walking back toward 
him. Jad had taken about six steps when suddenly he was flung 
up against the front of Matheny's harness store "like a sack 
o' salt," as Clem put it. By the time Clem could reach him, 
he was gone. He never knew what hit him, Clem said, and for 
quite a few minutes nobody else knew what hit him, either. 
Then somebody in the crowd that gathered found the big 
muddy rock lying in the road by the gutter. A particularly big 
shot of dynamite, set off in the river bed, had hurded the frag- 
ment through the air with terrific force. It had come flying 
over the four-story Jackson Building like a cannon ball and 
had struck Jad Peters squarely in the chest. 

I suppose old Jad hadn't been in his grave two days before 
the boys at Prentice's quit shaking their heads solemnly over 
the accident and began making funny remarks about it. Cal 
Gregg's was the funniest. "Well, sir," said Cal, "I don't sup- 
pose none of us will ever know what it was now, but somethin' 
must of told Jad to turn around." 

I Went to Sullivant 

I was reminded the other morning—by what, I don't remember 
and it doesn't matter—of a crisp September morning last year 
when I went to the Grand Central to see a little boy of ten get 
excitedly on a special coach that was to take him to a boys' school 
somewhere north of Boston. He had never been away to school 
before. The coach was squirming with youngsters; you could 
tell, after a while, the novitiates, shining and tremulous and a 
little awed, from the more aloof boys, who had been away to 
school before, but they were all very much alike at first glance. 
There was for me (in case you thought I was leading up to 
that) no sharp feeling of old lost years in the tense atmosphere 
of that coach, because I never went away to a private school 
when I was a little boy. I went to Sullivant School in Columbus. 
I thought about it as I walked back to my hotel. 

Sullivant was an ordinary public school, and yet it was not 
like any other I have ever known of. In seeking an adjective 
to describe the Sullivant School of my years—1900 to 1908— 
I can only think of "tough." Sullivant School was tough. The 
boys of Sullivant came mostly from the region around Central 
Market, a poorish district with many colored families and many 
white families of the laboring class. The school district also in- 
cluded a number of homes of the upper classes because, at the 
turn of the century, one or two old residential streets still 
lingered near the shouting and rumbling of the market, reluc- 
tant to surrender their fine old houses to the encroaching rabble 
of commerce, and become (as, alas, they now have) mere 
vulgar business streets. 

I remember always, first of all, the Sullivant baseball team. 
Most grammar-school baseball teams are made up of boys in 
the seventh and eighth grades, or they were in my day, but with 
Sullivant it was different. Several of its best players were in the 
fourth grade, known to the teachers of the school as the Terrible 
Fourth. In that grade you first encountered fractions and long 
division, and many pupils lodged there for years, like logs in a 
brook. Some of the more able baseball-players had been in the 
fourth grade for seven or eight years. Then, too, there were a 
number of boys, most of them colored (about half of the pupils 
at Sullivant were colored), who had not been in the class past 
the normal time but were nevertheless deep in their teens. They 
had avoided starting to school—by eluding the truant officer— 
until they were ready to go into long pants, but he always got 
them in the end. One or two of these fourth-graders were seven- 
teen or eighteen years old, but the dean of the squad was a tall, 
husky young man of twenty-two who was in the fifth grade 
(the teachers of the third and fourth had got tired of having 
him around as the years rolled along and had pushed him on). 
His name was Dana Waney and he had a mustache. Don't ask 
me why his parents allowed him to stay in school so long. There 
were many mysteries at Sullivant that were never cleared up. 
All I know is why he kept on in school and didn't go to work: 
he liked playing on the baseball team, and he had a pretty easy 
time in class, because the teachers had given up asking him any 
questions at all years before. The story was that he had answered 
but one question in the seventeen years he had been going to 
classes at Sullivant and that was "What is one use of the 
comma?" "The commy," said Dana, embarrassedly unsnarling 
his long legs from beneath a desk much too low for him, "is 
used to shoot marbles with." ("Commies" was our word for 
those cheap, ten-for-a-cent marbles, in case it wasn't yours.) 

The Sullivant School baseball team of 1905 defeated several 
high-school teams in the city and claimed the high-school 
championship of the state, to which title it had, of course, no 
technical right. I believe the boys could have proved their moral 
right to the championship, however, if they had been allowed 
to go out of town and play all the teams they challenged, such 
as the powerful Dayton and Toledo nines, but their road season 
was called off after a terrific fight that occurred during a game 
in Mt. Sterling, or Piqua, or Zenia—I can't remember which. 
Our first baseman—Dana Waney—crowned the umpire with 
a bat during an altercation over a called strike and the fight 
was on. It took place in the fourth inning, so of course the game 
was never finished (the battle continued on down into the 
business section of the town and raged for hours, with much 
destruction of property), but since Sullivant was ahead at the 
time 17 to 0 there could have been no doubt as to the outcome. 
Nobody was killed. All of us boys were sure our team could 
have beaten Ohio State University that year, but they wouldn't 
play us; they were scared. 

Waney was by no means the biggest or toughest guy on the 
grammar-school team; he was merely the oldest, being about 
a year the senior of Floyd, the colored centre-fielder, who could 
jump five feet straight into the air without taking a running 
start. Nobody knew—not even the Board of Education, which 
once tried to find out—whether Floyd was Floyd's first name 
or his last name. He apparently only had one. He didn't have 
any parents, and nobody, including himself, seemed to know 
where he lived. When teachers insisted that he must have an- 
other name to go with Floyd, he would grow sullen and omi- 
nous and they would cease questioning him, because he was a 
dangerous scholar in a schoolroom brawl, as Mr. Harrigan, the 
janitor, found out one morning when he was called in by a 
screaming teacher (all our teachers were women) to get Floyd 
under control after she had tried to whip him and he had 
begun to take the room apart, beginning with the desks. Floyd 
broke into small pieces the switch she had used on him (some 
said he also ate it; I don't know, because I was home sick at 
the time with mumps or something). Harrigan was a burly, 
iron-muscled janitor, a man come from a long line of coal- 
shovellers, but he was no match for Floyd, who had, to be sure, 
the considerable advantage of being more aroused than Mr. 
Harrigan when their fight started. Floyd had him down and 
was sitting on his chest in no time, and Harrigan had to promise 
to be good and to say "Dat's what Ah get" ten times before 
Floyd would let him up. 

I don't suppose I would ever have got through Sullivant 
School alive if it hadn't been for Floyd. For some reason he 
appointed himself my protector, and I needed one. If Floyd was 
known to be on your side, nobody in the school would dare be 
"after" you and chase you home. I was one of the ten or fifteen 
male pupils in Sullivant School who always, or almost always, 
knew their lessons, and I believe Floyd admired the mental 
prowess of a youngster who knew how many continents there 
were and whether or not the sun was inhabited. Also, one time 
when it came my turn to read to the class—we used to take 
turns reading American history aloud—I came across the word 
"Duquesne" and knew how to pronounce it. That charmed 
Floyd, who had been slouched in his seat idly following the 
printed page of his worn and pencilled textbook. "How you 
know dat was Dukane, boy?" he asked me after class. "I don't 
know," I said. "I just knew it." He looked at me with round 
eyes. "Boy, dat's sump'n," he said. After that, word got around 
that Floyd would beat the tar out of anybody that messed 
around me. I wore glasses from the time I was eight and I knew 
my lessons, and both of those things were considered pretty 
terrible at Sullivant. Floyd had one idiosyncrasy. In the early 
nineteen-hundreds, long warm furry gloves that came almost 
to your elbows were popular with boys, and Floyd had one of 
the biggest pairs in school. He wore them the year around. 

Dick Peterson, another colored boy, was an even greater 
figure on the baseball team and in the school than Floyd was. 
He had a way in the classroom of blurting out a long deep 
rolling "beee—eee—ahhhh!" for no reason at all. Once he licked 
three boys his own size single-handed, really single-handed, for 
he fought with his right hand and held a mandolin in his left 
hand all the time. It came out uninjured. Dick and Floyd never 
met in mortal combat, so nobody ever knew which one could 
"beat," and the scholars were about evenly divided in their 
opinions. Many a fight started among them after school when 
that argument came up. I think school never let out at Sullivant 
without at least one fight starting up, and sometimes there 
were as many as five or six raging between the corner of Oak 
and Sixth Streets and the corner of Rich and Fourth Streets, four 
blocks away. Now and again virtually the whole school turned 
out to fight the Catholic boys of the Holy Cross Academy in 
Fifth Street near Town, for no reason at all—in winter with 
snowballs and iceballs, in other seasons with fists, brickbats, and 
clubs. Dick Peterson was always in the van, yelling, singing, 
beeee-ahing, whirling all the way around when he swung with 
his right or (if he hadn't brought his mandolin) his left and 
missed. He made himself the pitcher on the baseball team be- 
cause he was the captain. He was the captain because everybody 
was afraid to challenge his self-election, except Floyd. Floyd 
was too lazy to pitch and he didn't care who was captain, be- 
cause he didn't fully comprehend what that meant. On one 
occasion, when Earl Battec, a steam-fitter's son, had shut out 
Mound Street School for six innings without a hit, Dick took 
him out of the pitcher's box and went in himself. He was hit 
hard and the other team scored, but it didn't make much dif- 
ference, because the margin of Sullivant's victory was so great. 
The team didn't lose a game for five years to another grammar 
school. When Dick Peterson was in the sixth grade, he got into 
a saloon brawl and was killed. 

When I go back to Columbus I always walk past Sullivant 
School. I have never happened to get there when classes were 
letting out, so I don't know what the pupils are like now. I am 
sure there are no more Dick Petersons and no more Floyds, 
unless Floyd is still going to school there. The play yard is still 
entirely bare of grass and covered with gravel, and the syca- 
mores still line the curb between the schoolhouse fence and the 
Oak Street car line. A street-car line running past a schoolhouse 
is a dangerous thing as a rule, but I remember no one being 
injured while I was attending Sullivant. I do remember, how- 
ever, one person who came very near being injured. He was a 
motorman on the Oak Street line, and once when his car 
stopped at the corner of Sixth to let off passengers, he yelled 
at Chutey Davidson, who played third base on the ball team, 
and was a member of the Terrible Fourth, to get out of the way. 
Chutey was a white boy, fourteen years old, but huge for his 
age, and he was standing on the tracks, taking a chew of 
tobacco. "Come ahn down offa that car an' I'll knock your 
block off!" said Chutey, in what I can only describe as a Sulli- 
vant tone of voice. The motorman waited until Chutey moved 
slowly off the tracks; then he went on about his business. I think 
it was lucky for him that he did. There were boys in those days. 

The Civil War Phone-Number Association 

Mr. Rudy Vallée, in an interview (or maybe it was in an 
article), has said that sometimes when he goes backstage he is 
saddened at the sight of the members of his band sitting around 
reading detective stories. "They should try to improve their 
memories," says Mr. Vallée, "by associating telephone numbers, 
for instance, with the date of the Civil War." 

This remarkable statement can be picked to pieces by any 
skillful Civil War telephone-number associator. In the first 
place, the use of the phrase "for instance" in the position we 
find it implies that Mr. Vallée thinks it is a good idea to sit 
around associating various things with the date of the Civil 
War ("telephone numbers, for instance"). Such a practice 
would confound even Salo Finkelstein, the lightning calcu- 
lator. If a person has put in the afternoon associating his bank 
balance, his automobile license plates, and the total amount of 
his debts with the date of the Civil War, he is not going to be 
able to call up a phone number when he wants to; he is going 
to call up the money he has in the bank or the number on the 
back of his car. In the second place, it is futile to sit around, 
backstage or anywhere else, merely associating telephone num- 
bers with the date of the Civil War and not calling anybody up. 
The purpose of the War of the Rebellion system of remember- 
ing phone numbers is not to keep them in the forefront of the 
mind, whence they can be brought up and recited to oneself as 
if they were limericks, but to tuck them away in the back of 
the mind, whence they can be called forth when needed and 
used for the practical purpose of getting in touch with 

And in the third place, I must, as one of the oldest surviving 
veterans of the Civil War Telephone-Number Association, take 
firm exception to the expression "the date of the Civil War." 
The Civil War was full of dates, many of them—such as Sep- 
tember 19, the date of the Battle of Chickamauga—as important 
and helpful as the war years themselves. Mr. Vallée's "date" 
would seem to indicate that he goes simply by 1861, the year 
the war began, or 1865, the year it ended. These would be useful 
in fixing in one's mind only about half a dozen numbers, such 
as Bryant 9-1861, Wickersham 2-1865, maybe Watkins 9-1961 
(if you remember to subtract a hundred years), and possibly 
Gramercy 7-5681. This last is, of course, 1865 backward and 
seems simple; but in a phone booth, without a pencil, one could 
call up practically everybody in the south-central part of town 
without getting the right party, unless one were very good at 
visualizing four digits backward. 

If I were Mr. Vallée and knew only one date for the Civil 
War, I should certainly give up the whole system of association 
and write the numbers I wanted to remember in a small book 
and carry it about with me. Even I, who know dozens of Civil 
War dates, including the hour of day that Stonewall Jackson 
was shot, sometimes wish I had gone in for the "jotting down" 
system. Using that method, if you get mad at somebody, you 
can cross out his number in the little notebook and be quit of it, 
whereas if you have it filed away in your mind alongside of 
Pickett's charge, it is there ineradicably. I still know the phone 
number of a girl who gave me the go-by in 1920, and now and 
then, as the years roll away, it flicks around the back of my 
head annoyingly, like a deer fly, upsetting my day. The phone 
number of the American Embassy in Paris, for which I no 
longer have any possible use, often keeps me awake at night: 
Passy 12 . 50. Particularly on trains: Passy douze cinquante, 
Passy douze cinquante, chant the iron wheels on the rails. 

It was eight years ago that I began to go in for associating 
telephone numbers with troop movements, in a big way. At that 
time, which was before the fifth digit got into Manhattan 
phone numbers and made my life and Mr. Vallée's even harder 
than they had been, my telephone number was Algonquin 9618. 
For some reason, that was hard for me. The Civil War fell 
down, in this case, almost completely, for although there was 
'61 in the middle to remember it by, the 9 and the 8 didn't seem 
to mean much. It was then that I began to toy with other wars, 
the war with Spain naturally (and unfortunately) suggesting 
itself because of 98. As a result, I would phone 9861 and then 
6198 and in the end go completely to pieces and try all the 
permutations until I had run the entire gamut of numbers in the 
Algonquin exchange, from 1689, the lowest, to 9861, the high- 
est. For an old war associator to quit fiddling his life away 
in a phone booth and look up his number in the directory 
would be, of course, an unthinkable defeat that would leave its 
mark. The way I finally got Algonquin 9618 fixed in my mind, 
where it still stands as staunchly and as uselessly as an iron 
hitching post in a concrete walk, was to bring in the World 
War. I saw that by subtracting 4 from the last two digits—18 
—and adding it to the first two—96—I could make an even 
100 of the first two. This made 14 out of the last two. I now 
had 10014 as a key number. This was useless unless I could 
plant in my memory some story, some war anecdote, which 
would break 10014 down into the proper arrangement of digits. 
The story I invented was this : that I had ended the war—that is, 
made '18 out of '14—by sending overseas a male quartet from 
my company of 100 men (I figured myself as captain of a 
company with the full regulation Civil War strength of 100 
men). This gave me, logically and smoothly, 9618. 

My invention of the war anecdote was the beginning of an 
elaborate system of remembering telephone numbers in which 
sometimes as many as seven wars were involved, together with 
the movement of not only male quartets but bowling teams, 
football squads, rowing crews, and the like. For instance, to 
remember one number, I figured myself as an officer in the war 
with Mexico (a certain Lieutenant Chelsea) who sent a baseball 
nine to the aid of Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo. The key 
number was 4615; the correct reading 3724. 1 simply sent my 9 
from '46 to '15, you see. 

The danger of this kind of preoccupation lies in the likeli- 
hood of confusing fact with fancy, shadow with substance, 
one's imaginary character with one's actual character. My re- 
actions and reflexes in the workaday world began to be 
prompted now and then by the nature of my responsibilities 
as an officer in wars that ended long ago. I would sometimes, in 
the office, bark commands at my superiors. Things finally got 
so bad that for more than two years I never phoned anybody. 
In this way I managed to slough off from my overburdened 
subconscious something in the neighborhood of a hundred and 
eighty numbers. Along with these vanished a lot of wearisome 
maneuvers, such as the activities of a golfing foursome in the 
Seminole Indian War, and the extraordinary advent of three 
basketball teams at the Battle of Saratoga. Now I am back to a 
fairly normal basis, with the phone numbers of only about 
ninety-five people thundering in the indexes of my mind. Of 
these people, I am in actual contact with perhaps thirty. The 
others have moved away, or have broken up housekeeping, or 
have cut me off, or are dead. Their silly phone numbers, how- 
ever, linger still, often in the night marching wearily along 
the border of a dream, on their way back from Moscow, Gen- 
eral Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard riding ahead, the 
American Davis Cup team of 1919 bringing up the rear. Hoot- 
ing and mocking, laughing and crying, they pass in review, 
all the old, lost numbers. 

I wish I were a member of Rudy Vallée's band, peacefully 
reading a detective story. 

Back to the Grades 

When I read in the newspapers that young James Cox Brady, 
who is a director in fifty corporations, had started shovelling 
coal in the boiler-room of one of them in order to learn the 
business, I was reminded of the time that I went back to gram- 
mar school. I reentered the fifth grade, because it was in the 
fifth grade that I had first begun to lose my way; and also 
because the desks in the lower grades were too small for me— 
I couldn't get my knees under them. I feel that there is more 
to be learned by going back to the fifth grade than by shovel- 
ling coal in a boiler-room. All you can learn in the latter case 
is how to shovel coal into a boiler, which can't be much of a 
help to a director of a corporation. Young Mr. Brady may, of 
course, have had some idea of studying the psychology of his 
fellow-workers, but he is bound to be disappointed in that, 
because all boiler-workers are Slavs and all they ever say is 
"Strook 'em." Let us imagine Mr. Brady trying to get at the 
psychology of one of his shovel-mates, a Slav named Wienesz- 
ciewcz. "How do you like this life?" says Mr. Brady, between 
shovels. "Strook 'em," says Mr. Wieneszciewcz. "What do you 
do for relaxation and entertainment—after work hours, I 
mean?" asks Mr. Brady. "Strook 'em," says Mr. Wieneszciewcz. 
In a little under an hour, a director of a corporation is going 
to learn all there is to know about shovelling coal and what 
his fellow-workers are thinking. Going back to the fifth grade 
is a richer experience. 

I was thirty-four going on thirty-five when I returned to 
grammar school. My failure to grasp sentence-parsing, frac- 
tions, decimals, long division, and, especially, "problems," had 
after a quarter of a century begun to show up in my life and 
work. Although a family man of property, I discovered that I 
didn't understand taxation, gas-meter readings, endowment or 
straight-pay insurance policies, compound or simple interest, 
time-tables, bank balances, and electric-light bills. Nor could I 
get much meaning out of the books and articles which were 
being written all the time on economics and politics. Long 
stretches of Walter Lippmann meant nothing to me. One eve- 
ning after we had returned from a contract-bridge game, my 
wife said to me, earnestly: "You ought to go back to the fifth 
grade." I suggested just as earnestly that she, too, should start 
over again, beginning with the first grade (she is younger than 
I am), but we finally compromised on my going back to the 
fifth grade. 

I went to live with my parents when I returned to the gram- 
mar grades. The first morning of school, I couldn't find my hat. 
"If you'd hang up your hat, you'd know where it was," my 
mother said. "Let him find it himself; don't you hunt for it," 
said my father. I finally found it in the dog house with my 
baseball glove. Miss Malloy (the same teacher I had had in the 
fifth grade in 1905) made me stay after school for being tardy. 
She didn't remember me at first, but she finally did. "My, you 
have shot up like a weed!" she said. I was somewhat embar- 
rassed. "You have shot up like a weed, too," I said. 

Since I was used to staying up until one and two o'clock in 
the morning, I never got to sleep at ten and was usually late for 
school. I had to stay after class and write, a hundred times, the 
lines beginning: "Lost, somewhere between sunrise and sunset, 
two golden hours." "Don't cramp your fingers; get a free and 
easy wrist motion," Miss Malloy said. "Aw," I said, and grinned. 
She told me to wipe the smile off my face. I wouldn't, and she 
made me learn "To a Water Fowl" by heart. 

Long division came a trifle easier to me at thirty-four than it 
had when I was ten, but I was so bad at problems that I had to 
stay after class and clean the blackboard-erasers. It was fun 
leaning out the window and slapping them against the wall of 
the building; the chalk spurted like smoke from a gun and got 
into your nose, and the erasers left little white rectangles on the 
bricks. Afterward I drew a picture of Miss Malloy on the black- 
board and went home. 

Miss Malloy would stay after class and help me with my prob- 
lems in arithmetic. I had brought her some applejack one morn- 
ing and she would sip the applejack while I struggled with the 
problems. "I'll ask my father to help me with the problems," I 
said one afternoon when, at the end of an hour, I hadn't got 
anywhere and neither had Miss Malloy—except with the apple- 
jack. Miss Malloy didn't say anything. She looked at me. "Fines' 
fatha ev' had," she said. "Fines' probblums ev' solve, too." She 
began to cry and I went home. 

I started Father off on a problem about if twenty men can 
excavate two hundred and thirty cubic yards of earth in five and 
a half hours, how many cubic yards of earth can five men ex- 
cavate in an hour and a quarter ? Father had first failed to make 
anything of that problem about the time that the Wright 
brothers got their improbable airship off the ground at Kitty 
Hawk, but he started in on it again with considerable assurance. 
His first answer came out in hours instead of yards; his next 
answer was 1,987,000 cubic yards, which he had arrived at by 
changing the hours into seconds; and he finally wound up by 
discovering what a fifth of a man could excavate in three 
months. "Men don't work on an hour-and-a-quarter schedule 
in practical experience," said Father, at last. Mother said that 
that wasn't the idea. "Then what is the idea?" shouted Father. 
The argument that followed aroused Grandfather, who for 
several years now had been laboring under the delusion that 
time had turned backward and that Father was courting Mother 
again. "Lovers' quarrels!" he cackled from the head of the 
stairs, and went cackling back to bed. He thought McKinley 
was President. I often wonder who he thought I was. 

The next morning I told Mother I was too sick to go to 
school. "Where are you sick?" she said. I told her I had terrible 
pains in my stomach. "Be a big middle-aged soldier and get 
up!" she coaxed. "I don't want to be a big middle-aged soldier," 
I whined. She made me take some awful medicine. At break- 
fast, Father said he was going to take me out of school, that he 
and myself and Grandfather were simply losing ground all the 
time. He said he had dreamed about Christy Mathewson and 
the San Francisco earthquake and a lot of other things of 
twenty-five years ago. Grandfather said that Hayes had stolen 
the election from Tilden and to mark his words there would be 
hell to pay. Father told me I could go to school that day, for 
the last time, and get my books. "I don't propose to go through 
the fifth grade again at my age!" said Father, vehemently. 
Grandfather was furious. "You git your chores done and hike 
on to school or I'll whup your hide off!" he shouted at Father. 
We had to change the subject. 

I didn't really drop out of school that day; I was thrown out. 
A little girl named Virginia Morrison, who sat at a desk across 
the aisle from me, had all the answers to the problems right. 
She was always laughing at me and sticking her tongue out at 
me from behind her geography. I finally pulled her hair, and 
she yelled. Miss Malloy came down the aisle and hit me across 
the hand with a ruler. I took the ruler away from her, sat on 
top of my desk, turned her over my knee, and spanked her. 

My analyst (who is also losing ground steadily) told me later 
that it was a happy thing that I had been able to go back to 
school and spank my teacher. He said that noticeably good 
results would begin to show up in my life. They haven't, 

Hell Only Breaks Loose Once 

(Written After Reading James M. Cain's 
"The Postman Always Rings Twice") 


They kicked me out of college when I was about twenty-seven. 
I went up to see the Dean and tried to hand him a couple of 
laughs but it was no good. He said he couldn't put me back in 
college but I could hang around the office and sweep out and 
wash windows. I figured I better be rambling and I said I had a 
couple of other offers. He told me to sit down and think it over 
so I sat down. 

Then she came in the room. She was tall and thin and had a 
white frowning forehead and soft eyes. She wasn't much to 
look at but she was something to think about. As far as she 
and I were concerned he wasn't in the room. She leaned over 
the chair where I was sitting and bit me in the ear. I let her have 
it right under the heart. It was a good one. It was plenty. She 
hit the floor like a two-year-old. 

"What fell?" asked the Dean, peering over his glasses. I told 
him nothing fell. 


After a while I said I guessed I'd hang around and go to 
work for him. "Do what?" he asked. He had forgot all about 
me, but I hung around. I liked him and he liked me but neither 
one of us cared what happened to the other. 

When the Dean went out to lunch I walked into a rear office 
and she was there. I began to tremble all over like a hooch 
dancer. She was fussing with some papers but I could see she 
wasn't really doing anything. I walked close to her. It was like 
dying and going to Heaven. She was a little like my mother 
and a little like the time I got my hip busted in a football 
scrimmage. I reached over and let her have one on the chin and 
she went down like a tray of dishes. I knew then I would be 
beating her up the rest of my life. It made me feel like it was 
April and I was a kid again and had got up on a warm morning 
and it was all misty outdoors and the birds were singing. 


"Hi, Dean," I said to him when he got back from lunch. 

"What is it?" he asked. I could tell he thought he had never 
seen me before. I told him what it was. "Excellent," he said, 
looking surprised. He still didn't know what it was. She came 
out of the back room and he asked her what she wanted. He 
never remembered seeing anybody. 

I took her out to lunch. It was sweet in the lunchroom and I 
kicked her under the table and broke her ankle. It was still 
broken when I carried her back to the Dean's office. 

"Who do you wish to see?" he asked, looking over his glasses 
at us. I wanted to grind his glasses into his skull. She said we 
both worked there. He said that was excellent, but he wasn't 
looking for work. I told him to think it over and she and I went 
into the back room. I let her have one over the eye but it was a 
glancing blow and didn't knock her out. She cracked down on 
me with a paperweight and I went out like a light, but I took 
her with me. She broke her head in the fall. We were uncon- 
scious for about an hour. A couple of guys were bending over 
us when we came to. They said they were from a place named 
Lang's, a cleaning establishment. The Dean had got the idea we 
were a bear rug and was going to send us out to be dry-cleaned. 
He was pretty dumb but I liked him. 


"What do you want to work for that guy for?" 

"I'm his secretary." 

"What do you want to work for him for?" 

"I said I'm his secretary." 

"Keep talking." 

"I have to work for him. He's my husband." I felt pretty sick 

"That's tough. You oughtn't to be married to him. He doesn't 
know what it's all about." 

"He lectures in his sleep." 

"That must be swell." 

"I don't want to be his wife. I want to be yours." 

"You are mine." 

"Let me have it again," she said. I gave her a short left jab 
on the button. She was dizzy for days. 


The Dean was too absent-minded to notice she was bruised 
all the time. It made me sick seeing him sitting at his desk trying 
to remember what it was all about. One day he began dictating 
a letter to me but I didn't pay any attention. I went on dusting 
a chair. Pretty soon he went out to lunch and I went in the back 
room. She was there and I began to shiver like a tuning fork. 
I stroked her hair. I had never done that before. It was like 
going to sleep. 

"There is one out for us," she told me. 
"Okay," I said. 


He was sitting at his desk trying to figure out who he was 
when I hit him over the conk with an auto crank. I thought 
he would fold up like a leather belt, but he didn't. It didn't 
faze him. "Somebody's at the door," he said. I was shaking a 
little but I went to the door and opened it. There wasn't any- 
body there. I stood to one side so he could look out of the door 
into the hall. It was empty. "I thought I heard somebody knock," 
he said. It made me cold. 


We fixed him finally. I got him up on top of the university 
water tower one night to see the aurora borealis. There wasn't 
any aurora borealis but he was too dumb to notice that. It was 
swell up there on the tower. It smelled pretty. It smelled of 
jasmine. I felt like the first time I ever kissed a girl. 

I rigged up one of those double flights of steps like tap- 
dancers dance up and down on and told him to get up on 
top of it. 

"I don't want to get up on top of that," he said. 

"You want to see the aurora borealis, don't you ?" 

"Most certainly." 

"Then get up on top of that." 

He got up on top of it and I climbed up after him. The thing 
was rickety but he didn't notice. 

"What are we doing up here?" he asked me. 

"Look at the aurora," I said, pointing at the sky. He looked 
and while we were standing there she came up on top of the 
steps with us. He didn't pay any attention to her. I swayed 
from side to side and started the thing teetering. I beat her up a 
little and then I beat him up a little. He looked like he had 
been spanked by an old aunt. The thing was swinging bad 
now, from one side to the other. I knew it was going over. 


We all fell six flights. He was dead when they picked him up. 
She was dead too. I was near to her, but she was a long way off. 
I was dying, they told me. So I dictated this to a guy from the 
D.A.'s office, and here it is. And that's all, except I hope it's 
pretty in Heaven and smells like when the lilacs first come 
out on May nights in the Pare Monceau in Paris. 

The Man Who Was Wetly 

(After Reading an Anthology of British Short Stories) 

A half-dozen of us were discussing that curious thing called 
life and the singular interrelationship between penalty and re- 
ward one night in the fireplace of the Cathay Cyclists' Club. 
"It seems rather warm in here, you know," said Empringham, 
who had, I knew, been wounded four times at Vimy Ridge. 
We moved out of the fireplace into the club room. It became a 
little cooler. Masters brought in another large tray of goose- 
berry wine and spiced walnuts, and for a time we were silent. 

"Sitting in that fireplace," mused Empringham, finally, "re- 
minded me of a curious adventure I had one night in New 
York City." 

Lord Burleigh laughed. "I had supposed," he said, "that 
there were no singular adventures to be had in New York 
City. How about it, Buell?" This last was addressed to me, as 
being the only American present. 

"Oh," I said, "we don't, of course, have your mysterious fog 
which shrouds London in a—ah, " 

"Mysterious fog," put in little Bailey. 

"Precisely," mused Empringham. "But I assure you there is 
mystery also to be found in clear streets. Shall I tell you my 

"No," said the Earl of Leaves, a bald, choleric man, who got 
up and abruptly left the room. 

"Curious chap, Leaves," mused young Priestley. "I remem- 
ber one night in the Sudan. A curious rain had come up and 
cooled that furnace of a jungle, in which you could hear Snider 
rifles squibbing wetly. Several of us subalterns were sitting 
around in our fatigue uniforms, when out of the jungle " 

"Jungle!" cried Empringham, slapping his leg. "The jungle 
is a state of mind. Your rain, my dear fellow, was a state of 
mind, too. Would it surprise you if I said that New York 
is also a jungle, also a state of mind?" 

No one spoke for a minute. 

"Let's see, where was I?" began young Priestley, again. "Oh, 
yes. It had rained, as I say, and the Sniders were squib- 
bing " 

"Wetly," I prompted him, for Priestley had been wounded 
at Nantes and sometimes remembered rather slowly. 

"Dear old Wetly!" cried Empringham. "What a chap he 
was! I last saw him in Port Said. God, how he had changed! 
At first I didn't know him. I was pricing some sherids at a 
native sampan in the marketplace when a fellow seized my 
shoulder—there in that hustings, that shambles! I supposed, of 
course, the man was a beggar and I threw off his arm a bit 
gruffly. 'Have on with you,' I said. 'Cheero, Empringham,' he 
said, and I saw that it was Wetly." 

"That, of course," chimed in Leaves, who had returned to 
the room because he hadn't been able to find anything to do in 
any of the other rooms, "that is a decision which, at some 
time or other, in the lives of all of us, a man must make for 
himself, all alone—without the help of God or man. Lord, 
what solitude can encompass a man in the midst of a teeming 
city!" He held up a curious object for us to look at. It did 
not seem, at first glance, extraordinary, being only a singular 
china figurine of a Napoleonic cavalryman standing beside 
his horse. 

"Who is it?" asked Dunleavy, sourly. "Wetly?" We all fell 
silent, for it was unusual indeed when Kerry Dunleavy said 
anything. This was, in point of fact, the first thing he had said 
since 1908 when, fresh from Indian service, with the insignia 
of a subaltern on his shoulders, a pretty wife whom he had 
married God knows where, and the livid scar of a Sikh tama- 
rinth across one cheek, he walked into the Cyclists' Club, took 
his old familiar chair, the leather one by the window, and 
called for a Scotch and soda. 

"Damme," mused Dunleavy, "it was amazing, I tell you. 
There hadn't been a sound, except the drip, drip of rain fall- 
ing from the huge leaves of the pelango trees, which the na- 
tives thatch their huts with. I was running over the company 
accounts at a little table, doing the best I could by the light of 
a beastly kerosene lamp and smoking that vile native tobacco 
to fend off the mosquitoes and flet-flet flies, when the door 
opened and a man wearing the uniform of Her Majesty's 
Death's Head Hussars staggered into the room. He was ghastly 
pale and, I could see at a glance, badly wounded at Ypres. 
Without a word he walked in an uncertain line over to the 
table and snatched up the champagne glass out of which I had 
been drinking that fiendish native pongo-pongo, or gluelike 
liqueur. He stood there wavering, then proposed a toast 

"Shattered the glass in his hand!" cried young Priestley. 

"Good God!" cried Empringham, pushing back his chair 
and rising to his feet. We all stared at him. 

"Take it easy, old chap," I said, for I liked Empringham and 
knew that his old wounds still bothered him. 

"I say, what is the matter?" cried young Priestley, who was, 
as we all knew, too young to know what was the matter. 

"Did he give this toast when he shattered that glass?" de- 
manded Empringham, in an odd, strained voice, white as a 
sheet. "Did he say, when he broke that glass: 'The Queen, God 
bless her'?" There was a singular, strained silence. We all 
looked at Dunleavy. 

"That," said Dunleavy in a low, tense voice, "that is what he 
said." Empringham fixed us all in turn with a curious, wide- 
eyed stare. Outside the rain beat against the windows. Empring- 
ham's chair toppled to the floor with a clatter as loud as that 
of a brass shield falling. 

"Gentlemen," said Empringham, "that toast has not been 
drunk for more than one hundred and fifty years." 

"Good God!" cried young Priestley. 

"Good God!" muttered little Bailey. 

"Good God!" I mused, softly. Old Masters moved over and 
took up the tray, its wine and walnuts untouched. He was 
about to turn away when, as if on second thought, he removed 
the walnut bowl and set it before us. 

"Nuts, gentlemen," said Masters, and withdrew. 

If Grant Had Been Drinking at Appomattox 

(Scribner's Magazine published a series of three articles: "If Booth Had 
Missed Lincoln," "If Lee Had Not Won The Battle of Gettysburg," and 
"If Napoleon Had Escaped to America." This is the fourth.) 

The morning of the ninth of April, 1865, dawned beautifully. 
General Meade was up with the first streaks of crimson in the 
eastern sky. General Hooker and General Burnside were up, 
and had breakfasted, by a quarter after eight. The day con- 
tinued beautiful. It drew on toward eleven o'clock. General 
Ulysses S. Grant was still not up. He was asleep in his famous 
old navy hammock, swung high above the floor of his head- 
quarters' bedroom. Headquarters was distressingly disarranged: 
papers were strewn on the floor; confidential notes from spies 
scurried here and there in the breeze from an open window; 
the dregs of an overturned bottle of wine flowed pinkly across 
an important military map. 

Corporal Shultz, of the Sixty-fifth Ohio Volunteer Infantry, 
aide to General Grant, came into the outer room, looked 
around him, and sighed. He entered the bedroom and shook 
the General's hammock roughly. General Ulysses S. Grant 
opened one eye. 

"Pardon, sir," said Corporal Shultz, "but this is the day of 
surrender. You ought to be up, sir." 

"Don't swing me," said Grant, sharply, for his aide was 
making the hammock sway gently. "I feel terrible," he added, 
and he turned over and closed his eye again. 

"General Lee will be here any minute now," said the Cor- 
poral firmly, swinging the hammock again. 

"Will you cut that out?" roared Grant. "D'ya want to make 
me sick, or what?" Shultz clicked his heels and saluted. 
"What's he coming here for?" asked the General. 

"This is the day of surrender, sir," said Shultz. Grant grunted 

"Three hundred and fifty generals in the Northern armies," 
said Grant, "and he has to come to me about this. What time 
is it?" 

"You're the Commander-in-Chief, that's why," said Corporal 
Shultz. "It's eleven twenty-five, sir." 

"Don't be crazy," said Grant. "Lincoln is the Commander- 
in-Chief. Nobody in the history of the world ever surrendered 
before lunch. Doesn't he know that an army surrenders on its 
stomach?" He pulled a blanket up over his head and settled 
himself again. 

"The generals of the Confederacy will be here any minute 
now," said the Corporal. "You really ought to be up, sir." 

Grant stretched his arms above his head and yawned. 

"All right, all right," he said. He rose to a sitting position 
and stared about the room. "This place looks awful," he 

"You must have had quite a time of it last night, sir," ven- 
tured Shultz. 

"Yeh," said General Grant, looking around for his clothes. 
"I was wrassling some general. Some general with a beard." 

Shultz helped the commander of the Northern armies in the 
field to find his clothes. 

"Where's my other sock?" demanded Grant. Shultz began 
to look around for it. The General walked uncertainly to a 
table and poured a drink from a bottle. 

"I don't think it wise to drink, sir," said Shultz. 

"Nev' mind about me," said Grant, helping himself to a 
second, "I can take it or let it alone. Didn' ya ever hear the 
story about the fella went to Lincoln to complain about me 
drinking too much? 'So-and-So says Grant drinks too much' 
this fella said. 'So-and-So is a fool,' said Lincoln. So this fella 
went to What's-His-Name and told him what Lincoln said 
and he came roarin' to Lincoln about it. 'Did you tell So- 
and-So I was a fool?' he said. 'No,' said Lincoln, 'I thought he 
knew it.' " The General smiled, reminiscently, and had another 
drink. "That's how I stand with Lincoln," he said, proudly. 

The soft thudding sound of horses' hooves came through the 
open window. Shultz hurriedly walked over and looked out. 

"Hoof steps," said Grant, with a curious chortle. 

"It is General Lee and his staff," said Shultz. 

"Show him in," said the General, taking another drink. 
"And see what the boys in the back room will have." 

Shultz walked smartly over to the door, opened it, saluted, 
and stood aside. General Lee, dignified against the blue of the 
April sky, magnificent in his dress uniform, stood for a mo- 
ment framed in the doorway. He walked in, followed by his 
staff. They bowed, and stood silent. General Grant stared at 
them. He only had one boot on and his jacket was unbuttoned. 

"I know who you are," said Grant. "You're Robert Brown- 
ing, the poet." 

"This is General Robert E. Lee," said one of his staff, coldly. 

"Oh," said Grant. "I thought he was Robert Browning. He 
certainly looks like Robert Browning. There was a poet for 
you, Lee: Browning. Did ja ever read 'How They Brought the 
Good News from Ghent to Aix'? 'Up Derek, to saddle, up 
Derek, away; up Dunder, up Blitzen, up Prancer, up Dancer 
up Bouncer, up Vixen, up— ' " 

"Shall we proceed at once to the matter in hand?" asked 
General Lee, his eyes disdainfully taking in the disordered 

"Some of the boys was wrassling here last night," explained 
Grant. "I threw Sherman, or some general a whole lot like 
Sherman. It was pretty dark." He handed a bottle of Scotch to 
the commanding officer of the Southern armies, who stood 
holding it, in amazement and discomfiture. "Get a glass, some- 
body," said Grant, looking straight at General Longstreet 
"Didn't I meet you at Cold Harbor?" he asked. General Long- 
street did not answer. 

"I should like to have this over with as soon as possible," 
said Lee. Grant looked vaguely at Shultz, who walked up close 
to him, frowning. 

"The surrender, sir, the surrender," said Corporal Shultz in 
a whisper. 

"Oh sure, sure," said Grant. He took another drink. "All 
right," he said. "Here we go." Slowly, sadly, he unbuckled his 
sword. Then he handed it to the astonished Lee. "There you 
are, General," said Grant. "We dam' near licked you. If I'd 
been feeling better we would of licked you." 

One More April 

(An Effort to Start Another Novel about the Galsworthy 
Characters, Taking Them Up Where He Left Off) 

On the second day after the sailing of the transatlantic liner 
Picardy for America, in April, 1935, three English people who 
were unknown to each other came into the main dining saloon 
from wholly different staterooms and began to play piquet 
together. This breach of form affected them all in precisely the 
same way: each one sat perhaps seven feet from the card table 
so that, even with arms extended at full length, it was impossi- 
ble to bring the cards near enough to the playing surface to 
lay them upon it. One of these three was a young woman of 
about twenty-two, one a darkish man of perhaps forty-three, 
and one a man of between ninety-five and a hundred. 

The younger man spoke suddenly. 

The effect of his breach of form on the others was diverse: 
the olderish man leaned forward as if to examine the table 
legs, with a sort of weathered skepticism; the young woman 
turned a surprised look upon the speaker. 

"Didn't I meet you at my wedding?" she queried. "I am 
Fleur Desert, the second daughter of Dinny Mont, who mar- 
ried Wilfrid Desert; the first daughter was Celia. There are 
two brothers, Michael and Michael." The younger man's 
mouth lost its disdainful look. 

"I am your sister's brother-in-law, Cherrill Desert." 

The older man spoke unexpectedly. 

"Forsyte Desert's nephew, eh? Old Derek Mont's cousin. 
What's become of young Cherrill Desert? Still wandering sal- 
lowly about the East, I'll wager, writing verse." 

Desert smiled and shook his head. 

"I am Cherrill Desert," he said. The older man looked sur- 

"And probably died there," he grunted. 

Fleur Desert thought: "He can't have been home for many 

"Cherrill Desert married Dinny Mont's second daughter, 
Fleur," she said. "They have two children, Dinny and Fleur." 
A slight colour stained her cheeks. The disdainful look which 
had been about to return to the young man's lips did not. 

"I remember you perfectly," he said. "You are Wilfrid 
Desert's daughter." 

"Old Derek Mont's cousin's wife," said the older man, with 
a sort of skeptical weatheredness. "Forsyte Desert's niece-in- 

The other two looked at him with frank surprise. 

"I am Uncle Adrian," said the older man. "Or his brother, 
Mark. I cannot always remember which. However, if I'm 
Mark, he's going to be confoundedly seasick." He glared about 
the saloon, which was filled with surprised card tables. "I like 
the way these tables stand up," he said. The ship rocked a bit. 
"Mark never had a stomach for the ocean." He chuckled 

Fleur thought: "He's Adrian. Uncle Lawrence always said 
Adrian Mont knew tables." 

The older man gave up his study of the card tables. 

"Rather leggish. But they hold up." He took out a surprised 
old watch which chimed the days and months and years. It 
struck April fifth, 1935. 

"My goodness! Aunt Sheila's birthday!" cried Fleur. "And 
I've forgotten to send her a radiogram!" 

The older man smiled and spoke abruptly. 

"I was at Somebody Mont's, or her mother's," he said, "the 
day that all these birthday parties started. Ronald Ferse was 
there, and a small Chinese boy, and Aunt Alison and her 
youngest, little Anne, and Uncle Hilary and Tony. Monty 
Muskham, too—who became Musky Montham. The war 
turned him around. And Uncle Lawrence, my father's brother. 
And the Dingo children, Celia and Moriston." He frowned. 
"All scattered now. All scattered then, as far as that goes." 

The disdainful look returned to the younger man's lips. 

"Ronald Ferse is in coal and feed, Hilary and Tony's daugh- 
ter, Jean, went in for one-old-cat behind Government House 
in Rangoon. I don't know what became of the Chinese boy. 
Uncle Lawrence is translating the Foreign Office records into 
Russian for the Soviet—confounded officialism! The Dingo 
children married each other and broke old Forsyte Dingo's 

"Forsyte Dingo was in love with Celia Dingo, wasn't he?" 
queried the more weathered of the two men. The dark look 
deepened on the face of the more disdainful of the two men. 

"Forsyte Dingo was her father," he said. "And her father- 
in-law, too—after she married her brother." 

The old man chuckled unexpectedly. 

"Like to see old Forsyte again," he said. "The two of us 
could play four-handed bridge." He looked at Dinny Mont's 
daughter, for whose mother he had gone away to the East. He 
wondered who she was. It didn't make much difference. All 
these women, he understood, were the same woman; he was 
two men, like old Forsyte Dingo, and outnumbered them all. 
Perhaps it was what kept him going—that and his nice eye for 
tables—providing he was Adrian. Mark Mont was never a man 
for tables. The old man twiddled the setting arrangement of 
his watch, turning it back to 1894, and suddenly discovered 
that, except for his shoes and socks, his legs were quite bare. 
Through some surprising and unexpected oversight he had 
forgotten to put on his trousers. This breach of form had an 
immediate effect on the others. Wilfrid Desert's son-in-law 1 
arose and so did Dinny Mont's daughter. The older man's face 
was masked in a sort of shrewd suspicion. 

"I for one," he said, "shall never leave this spot." The young 
man laughed and turned his dark eyes on Fleur. 

"Will you have lunch with me tomorrow?" he queried. 

"I will. Where?" 

"Right here on the ship. It'll be easier. We're two days out, 
you know." They crossed the saloon together. 

Fleur thought: "He's as quick as ever. He sees through 

The older man sat where he was—where, indeed, he in- 
tended always to sit unless they came and carried him away, 
or brought him the rest of his clothes. "England, England!" 
he murmured. It disturbed him that Adrian Mont, the solid 
one of the two Mont brothers, should lose his pants. Suddenly 
he began to feel sickish. 

With a faint smile of relief, he thought: "I'm Mark!" 

How to See a Bad Play 

One of my friends, who is a critic of the drama, invited me to 
accompany him last season to all the plays which he suspected 
were not going to be good enough or interesting enough to take 
his girl to. His suspicions were right in each instance, and 
there were dozens of instances. I don't know why I kept ac- 
cepting his invitations to first nights of dubious promise, but I 
did. Perhaps it was sheer fascination. I know a man, an invet- 
erate smoker of five-cent cigars, who once refused my offer of 
a Corona: he said he just couldn't go the things. Bad plays 
can get that kind of hold on you; anyway, diey did on me. 
(I'm not going to go to any plays this season; I'm going to ski, 
and play lotto.) 

I still brood about some of the situations, characters, tactics, 
and strategies I ran into last season in the more awful plays. 
I thank whatever gods may be that very few lines of dialogue, 
however, come back at night to roost above my chamber door. 
As a matter of fact, the only line that haunts me is one from 
"Reprise," during the first scene of the first act of which a 
desperate young man is prevented from jumping off the balus- 
trade of a penthouse (all plays set in penthouses are terrible) 
by another young man. The desperate young man then has 
three or four shots of what he describes as "excellent brandy" 
and the other man asks him if he still wants to jump. "No," 
says the desperate young man. "Your brandy has taken my 
courage." That marked the first time in the history of the 
world when three or four slugs of excellent brandy took a 
desperate man's courage. I find myself thinking about it. 

lt was in this very same play, "Reprise" (or was it "Yes- 
terday's Orchids"?), that the double-wing-back formation and 
triple lateral pass reached a new height. I have drawn a little 
diagram (Fig. I) to illustrate what I mean. There was really no 
business in the play, only a great deal of talk, and the director 
must have found out early—probably during the first rehearsal 
— that the way the play was written the characters were just 
going to sit in chairs or on chaise longues and talk to each 
other, so he got them to moving around. After all, there has 
to be action of some kind in every play. Fig. I shows one of the 
more intricate moves that were made, as accurately as I can 
remember it now (I may have left out a couple of shifts, but 
it's close enough). Character A, to begin with, is standing at 
the right (A1) of the handsome chair, centre rear, and Char- 
acter B is sitting (B1) on the chaise longue. A moves over 
(A2) and sits on the foot of the chaise longue, whereupon B 
gets up and moves to position B2 and then around the chaise 
longue (B3) to the same place he had been sitting, as A 
reverses his field (A3), circles around the big chair (A4), and 
goes to the little chair (A5). B now moves to the foot of the 
chaise longue (B4), and then goes over and sits in the big 
chair (B5). As he does so, A moves over and sits on the foot 
of the chaise longue again (A6), then B crosses to the little 
chair (B6), thus completing a full circle, with variations. All 
this time a lot of dialogue was going on, dealing with some 
brand-new angle on sex, but I was so engrossed in following 
the maze of crisscrosses that I didn't take in any of it, and 
hence, as far as sex knowledge goes, I am just where I was 
before I went to the play. There were a great many other in- 
volved crossings and recrossings, and what are known on the 
gridiron as Statue of Liberty plays, in this drama, but the one 
I have presented here was my favorite. 

Another formation that interested me in several of the plays 
I studied was what I call the back-to-back emotional scene 
(Fig. 2). The two characters depicted here are, strange as it 
may seem, "talking it out." In some plays in which this forma- 
tion occurred they were declaring their love for each other; in 
others she was telling him that she was in love with someone 
else, or he was telling her that he had to go to South America 
because he was in love with her sister or because he thought 
she was in love with his brother, or his father-in-law, or some- 
thing of the sort. I have witnessed a number of emotional 
scenes in real life, but I have just happened to miss any in 
which the parties involved moved past each other and faced 
things out back to back. Apparently I don't get around as 
much as playwrights do. 
Fig. 3 illustrates another position that was frequently to be 
seen on our stage last season: the woman, standing, comforting 
the man, sitting. In this curious entanglement, so different 
from anything that has ever happened to me, the position of 
the arms is always just as I have shown it in the picture and 
the woman's head is always lifted, as if she were studying a 
cobweb in a far corner of the ceiling. Sometimes she closes her 
eyes, whereupon the man opens his. When they break away, 
it is quite simple to go into the back-to-back formation. Some 
years ago, along about the time of "Merton of the Movies," the 
comforting scene was done in quite a different manner: the 
woman sat on the chair, and the man got down on his knees 
and put his head in her lap. But times have changed. 
In Fig. 4, we take up the character who bobbed up (and 
down) oftenest in last year's bad plays (she bobbed up and 
down in some of the better plays, too, but mostly in the bad 
plays); namely, the elderly lady who is a good sport, a hard 
drinker, and an authority on sex. There was one such lady in 
the forgettable "Yesterday's Reprise" (or was it "Orchids"?). 
She could get away with half a quart of brandy between dinner 
time and bedtime (3 a.m.), and when she went to bed finally 
she took the bottle with her—"I'm going to put a nipple on 
this thing and go to bed," she announced as she made her exit. 
This type of old lady was also given to a stream of epigrams, 
such as: "At twenty, one is in love with love; at thirty, love is 
in love with one; at forty, one is in love with two; at fifty, one 
does not care what two are in love with one; and at sixty," 
etc., etc. It doesn't have to make a great deal of sense; the 
sophisticates in the audience always laugh, and one or two who 
have been through a lot applaud. 

There were a lot of other trick moves, positions, and char- 
acters in last year's plays, but I have neither the time nor the 
inclination to remind you of all of them. In winding up the 
season, I might mention two postures that were very prevalent. 
It was customary, in the theatre of 1934-35, for juveniles to sit 
down backward, or wrong-side-out, in straight chairs—that is, 
facing the back of the chair with their arms crossed on the top 
of it and their chins on their arms. This position indicated 
nonchalance and restless energy. Of course, it has been resorted 
to for years (and years), but last season was the biggest season 
for it that I can recall; almost no man under forty-five sat 
down with his back to the chair back. Another popular position 
- for juveniles and ingenues—was sitting on the extreme edge 
of a davenport or chaise longue. It seems that nowadays a 
young couple in love never relax and lean back against any- 
thing; they must sit (and it is one of the few face-to-face 
postures in the modern theatre) on the very edge of whatever 
they are sitting on, their legs thrust backward, their bodies 
inclined sharply forward, their eyes sparkling, and their words 
coming very fast. From this position, as from the standing- 
sitting position (Fig. 3), it is easy to stand up, work the double- 
crossing maneuver, and go into the back-to-back emotional 
scene. Apparently young people no longer meet on their feet, 
face to face, and engage in the obsolete practice of putting their 
arms around each other. As I say, times have changed. Or 
maybe it's only the theatre that has changed. 

How to Listen to a Play 

Practically all the people I know who write plays want to 
read them to me. Furthermore, they do read them to me. I 
don't know why they select me to read plays to, because I am 
a very bad listener indeed, one of the worst listeners in the 
United States. I am always waiting for people to stop talking, 
or reading plays, so that I can talk, or read plays. Unfortu- 
nately, I have no plays to read to people (although I am always 
planning to write some) and, at forty, I do not talk as fast as 
I used to, or get into it as quickly, so that people with plays 
under their arms, or in their hip pockets, or even just vaguely 
outlined in their minds, get the jump on me. It is in the lobby 
of a hotel which I shall call the Cherokee that I am most often 
trapped by play readers. I frequently wander into the lobby 
looking for my hat or overcoat, which I am in the habit of 
forgetting and leaving there. Play readers seem to know this, 
for they are generally lurking near where I have left my hat or 
coat, waiting to pounce. They pounce very fast. "Listen!" a 
play reader will say, confronting me without even a hello or a 
how-are-you. "The action takes place in a roadside hot-dog 
stand, with the usual what's-its-names and so-and-sos scattered 
here and there, a gasoline pump down right, and a cabin or two 
on the backdrop. Ella is this girl in charge of the stand; she is 
pretty, charming, and intelligent but can't get away from the 
stand to go to school or anything on account of her paralyzed 
mother, who is paralyzed but sinister, and very strong—she's 
the menace, see, but she doesn't come on until later. Ella is 
arranging the salt and mustard and what's-this on the counter 
when Harry comes on. Ella: 'Hello, Harry.'  Harry: 'Hello, 
Ella.' You can see they are in love " 

"Who can?" I used to ask, bitterly, or "How can you?", but 
I gave that up because interruptions other than "That's fine," 
"Swell," and the like are lost on people who read plays to you. 
What I usually do now is find a comfortable chair, lean back, 
close my eyes, put an index finger alongside one cheek, and, 
frowning slightly, pretend to be engrossed. It used to be diffi- 
cult to do this for more than one act without dozing, but now 
I can do it for all three, saying "That's fine" or "Swell" at 
intervals, although I haven't actually taken in a word. A semi- 
doze, which even now I occasionally lapse into, is worse than 
complete sleep, because one finds oneself, in a semi-doze, now 
and then answering questions in the script. For instance, this 
question occurred in the second act of a play a woman was 
reading to me recently: "How've you been, Jim?" "Fine," I 
answered, coming out of my doze without quite knowing 
where I was. "How've you been?" That was a terrible moment 
for both of us, but I got out of it some way. 

Some play readers buy you drinks while you listen, but you 
can't count on it, and it really isn't a good idea to drink during 
the reading of a three-act play, because it takes about an hour 
and a half to read a three-act play and you can get pretty cock- 
eyed in an hour and a half, especially if you are keeping your 
mind a blank. Many a time I have walked unsteadily out of 
the Cherokee at three-thirty in the afternoon, drunk as a lord, 
with nothing left to do but go to my apartment and go to 
sleep. As a rule, on these occasions I wake up about ten-thirty 
p.m., having accomplished nothing and with the whole heavy 
dull night ahead of me. Play readers don't care about that; 
They are selfish people. 

I can think of no plays, no matter how fine, from "Macbeth" 
to "What Price Glory?", that I would like to have read to me. 
I like to see them played or to read them myself, but I have 
never liked having anything read to me (the italics have been 
mine since I was a little boy). But no playwright will turn his 
play over to you (or at least he won't to me) so that it can be 
read alone and at your convenience. Playwrights like to read 
their plays aloud, because they think you will miss the full rich 
flavor of certain scenes if they don't. They do not seem to 
realize that a woman reading a man's part, or a man reading 
a woman's part, is not only dull but ineffective; but I do, I 
realize it. 

Seven or eight years ago, when I first started in listening to 
plays, I would actually absorb the sense of the first few scenes 
before my mind began to wander and my eyes to rove. It really 
is advisable to comprehend a little of what has been read to 
you, because the moment is bound to come when the man on 
woman actually finishes the thing and stops reading. Then he 
or she is going to say, "Well, what do you think of the char- 
acter of Rose?" The only thing to say to this is "I think the 
character of Rose is fine. You've got her down beautifully": 
then you can go back quickly to the first scene of the first act 
(the one you listened to) and dwell on that. No playwright 
wants to dwell very long with you on the first scene of his first 
act (they are always crazy about their second and third acts).; 
but if you are adroit enough, you can always work back to that 
first scene no matter what the playwright wants to have your 
opinion on. "That," you can say of the second or third act, "is 
perfect as it stands, perfect. I wouldn't change a line. Nor 
would I in that magnificent first scene where Ella and Harry 
discover they are in love." Etc., etc. 

It is useless to rely on some friend, wandering around the 
lobby, to extricate you from your predicament. I've tried that 
and it only caused more anguish. Once, when a playwright was 
slowly nearing his second-act curtain (where Harry and Ella 
rediscover that they are in love, or discover that they are not in 
love, or are in love with someone else, as the play may be), I 
slyly signalled a friend to come to my rescue. He walked over 
to where the playwright and I were sitting. "Good Lord!" I 
cried, jumping to my feet and facing the newcomer.' "I com- 
pletely forgot about you! We're late now, aren't we? We'll 
have to hurry!" He stared at me. "Late for what? Hurry 
where?" he asked. I had a frightful time getting out of that. 

If the play reader is bad, the plot outliner is even worse, 
because you don't have to meet the eyes of the reader, he being 
intent on his manuscript, but you can't get away from the eyes 
of the outliner He usually begins something like this: "There's 
this girl, see, and the guy, and her paralyzed mother, who she 
suspects knows where she has hidden the franchise and nat- 
rurally doesn't want Ella to leave the room because he'll get it. 
She knows that Ella is in love with Ella—I mean Harry, the 
fellow, see?—but the old girl sees through him even if she 
doesn't, only she can't talk, she can't speak, see, and let the 
girl know, let Ella know her suspicions." Even if you listen 
with intense concentration, you can't follow the plot of a plot 
outliner. It gets more and more involved as it goes along and 
is bound to be filled with such terms as "upstage" and "down- 
stage," which I always get mixed up so that I don't know 
where I am, or where Ella is or the old lady. 

I am trying to be kind and considerate to everybody, out of 
repentance for the life I have led, but some day a play reader 
or a plot outliner is going to push me too far and I am going. 
to get up in the middle of the first scene and scream. I am 
going to scream until the manager comes. I am going to scream 
until the ambulance and the police and the photographers 
come. I don't care how much people may talk. 

The Funniest Man You Ever Saw 

Everybody seemed surprised that I had never met Jack Kloh- 

"Judas, I didn't know there was anybody who didn't know 
Jack Klohman," said Mr. Potter, who was big and heavy, of 
body and mind. "He's funnier 'n hell." Mr. Potter laughed and 
slapped his knee. "He's the funniest man you ever saw." 

"He certainly is funny," said somebody else. 

"He's marvellous," drawled a woman I didn't like. Looking 
around the group I discovered I didn't like any of them much, 
except Joe Mayer. This was undoubtedly unfair, for Joe was 
the only one I knew very well. The others had come over to 
the table where we were sitting. Somebody had mentioned Jack 
Klohman and everybody had begun to laugh. 

"Do you know him, Joe?" I asked. 

"I know him," said Joe, without laughing. 

"Judas," went on Potter, "I'll never forget one night at Jap 
Rudolph's. Klohman was marvellous that night. This was a 
couple years ago, when Ed Wynn was here in a new show- 
let's see, what the devil was it? Not 'The Crazy Fool.'" 

" 'The Perfect Fool,' " said somebody else. 

"Yes. But it wasn't that," said Potter. "What the dickens was 
it? Well, never mind; anyway there was a scene in it 

"Was it 'Simple Simon'?" asked the blonde girl who was 
with Creel. 

"No. It was a couple years before that," said Potter. 

"Oh, I know," said the blonde girl. "It was—now wait—it 
was 'The Manhatters'!" 

"Ed Wynn wasn't in that," said Creel. "Wynn wasn't in that 

"Well, it doesn't make much difference," said Potter. "Any- 
way, in this scene he has a line where—" 

" 'Manhattan Mary!' " cried Griswold. 

"That's it!" said Potter, slapping his knee. "Well, in this 
scene he comes on with a rope, kind of a lariat—" 

"Halter," said Griswold. "It was a halter." 

"Yes, that's right," said Potter. "Anyway, he comes on with 
this halter—" 

"Who comes on?" asked Joe Mayer. "Klohman?" 

"No, no," said Potter. "Wynn comes on with the halter and 
walks up to the footlights and some guy asks him what he's 
got the rope for, what he's doing with the halter. 'Well,' says 
Wynn, 'I've either lost a horse or found a piece of rope ' ' 

"I think he said: 'I've either found a piece of rope or lost a 
horse,'" said Griswold. "Losing the horse coming last is fun- 

"Well, anyway," said Potter, "Jack Klohman used to elab- 
orate on the idea and this night at Jap Rudolph's I thought 
we'd all pass away." 

"I nearly did," said Joe Mayer. 

"What did this Klohman do?" I asked finally, cutting in on 
the general laughter. 

"Well," said Potter, "he'd go out into the kitchen, see, and 
come in with a Uneeda biscuit and he'd say : 'Look, I've either 
lost a biscuit box or found a cracker'—that's the right order, 
Gris—'I've either lost a biscuit box or lost'—I mean found— 
'a cracker.' " 

"I guess you're right," said Griswold. 

"It sounds right," said Joe Mayer. 

"Then he'd do the same thing with everything he picked up, 
no matter what," said Potter. "Finally he went out of the room 
and was gone half an hour or so and then he comes down the 
stairs and holds up this faucet and says: I've either lost a bath- 
tub or found a faucet.' He'd unscrewed a faucet from the 
bathtub and comes downstairs with this faucet—see what I 
mean? Laugh? I thought I'd pass away." 

Everybody who had been at Jap Rudolph's that night roared 
with laughter. 

"But that wasn't anything," said Potter. "Wait'll you hear. 
Along about two in the morning he slips out again, see?—all 
the way out of the house this time. Well, I'll be doggoned if 
that guy didn't come back carrying part of an honest-to-God 
chancel rail! He did! I'm telling you! Son-of-a-gun had actu- 
ally got into a church somehow and wrenched part of this 
chancel rail loose and there he was standing in the door and he 
says: 'I've either lost a church or found a chancel rail.' It was 
rich. It was the richest thing I ever saw. Helen Rudolph had 
gone to bed, I remember—she wasn't very well—but we got her 
up and he did it again. It was rich." 

"Sounds like a swell guy to have around," I said. 

"You'd darn near pass away," said Potter. 

"You really would," said Joe Mayer. 

"He's got a new gag now," said one of the women. "He's got 
a new gag that's as funny as the dickens. He keeps taking 
things out of his pockets or off of a table or something and 
says that he's just invented them. He always takes something 
that's been invented for years, say like a lead pencil or some- 
thing, and goes into this long story about how he thought it up 
one night. I remember he did it with about twenty different 
things one night at Jap's " 

"Jap Rudolph's?" I asked. 

"Yes," said the woman. "He likes to drop in on them, so you 
can usually find him there, so we usually drop in on them too. 
Well, this night he took out a package of those Life Savers and 
handed us each one of the mints and " 

"Oh, yes, I remember that!" said Potter, slapping his knee 
and guffawing. 

"Gave us each one of these mints," went on the woman, "and 
asked us what we thought of them—asked us whether we 
thought they'd go or not. 'It's a little thing I thought up one 
day,' he said. Then he'd go on with a long rigmarole about 
how he happened to think of the idea, and—" 

"And then he'd take a pencil out of his pocket," cut in Potter, 
"and ask you what you thought of the eraser on the end of it. 
'Just a little gadget I thought up the other night,' he'd say. 
Then he says he'll show you what it's for, so he makes every- 
body take a piece of paper and he says: 'Now everybody make 
some pencil marks on the paper; any kind—I won't look,' so 
then he goes into another room and says to let him know when 
you're ready. So we all make marks on the pieces of paper and 
somebody goes and gets him out of the other room " 

"They always go and get him out of the other room," Joe 
Mayer said to me. 

"Sure," said Potter. "So he comes out with his sleeves rolled 
up, like a magician, and " 

"But the funniest thing he does," began the woman whom 
Potter had interrupted. 

"And he gathers up the papers and erases the marks with 
the eraser and he says: 'Oh, it's just a novelty; I'm not going to 
try to market it.' Laugh? I thought I'd pass away. Of course 
you really ought to see him do it; the way he does it is a big 
part of it—solemn and all; he's always solemn, always acts 
solemn about it." 

"The funniest thing he does," began the interrupted woman 
again, loudly, "is fake card tricks. He—" 

"Oh, yes!" cried Potter, roaring and slapping his knee. "He 
does these fake card tricks. He—" Here the recollection of the 
funny man's antics proved too much for Potter and he laughed 
until he cried. It was several minutes before he could control 
himself. "He'll take a pack of cards," he finally began again. 
"He'll take a pack of cards—" Once more the image of Kloh- 
man taking a pack of cards was too much for the narrator and 
he went off into further gales of laughter. "He'll take this pack 
of cards," Potter eventually said once more, wiping his eyes, 
"and ask you to take any card and you take one and then he 
says: Put it anywhere in the deck' and you do and then he 
makes a lot of passes and so on—" 

"Like a magician," said Joe Mayer. 

"Yes," said Potter. "And then he draws out the wrong card, 
or maybe he looks at your card first and then goes through the 
whole deck till he finds it and shows it to you or—" 

"Sometimes he just lays the pack down and acts as if he'd 
never started any trick," said Griswold. 

"Does he do imitations?" I asked. Joe Mayer kicked my shins 
under the table. 

"Does he do imitations?" bellowed Potter. "Wait'll I tell 

The Black Magic of Barney Hailer 

It was one of those hot days on which the earth is uninhabita- 
ble; even as early as ten o'clock in the morning, even on the 
hill where I live under the dark maples. The long porch was 
hot and the wicker chair I sat in complained hotly. My coffee 
was beginning to wear off and with it the momentary illusion 
it gives that things are Right and life is Good. There were 
sultry mutterings of thunder. I had a quick feeling that if I 
looked up from my book I would see Barney Hailer. I looked 
up, and there he was, coming along the road, lightning playing 
about his shoulders, thunder following him like a dog. 

Barney is (or was) my hired man. He is strong and amiable, 
sweaty and dependable, slowly and heavily competent. But he 
is also eerie: he trafficks with the devil. His ears twitch when 
he talks, but it isn't so much that as the things he says. Once 
in late June, when all of a moment sabres began to flash 
brightly in the heavens and bowling balls rumbled, I took 
refuge in the barn. I always have a feeling that I am going to 
be struck by lightning and either riven like an old apple tree or 
left with a foot that aches in rainy weather and a habit of 
fainting. Those things happen. Barney came in, not to escape 
the storm to which he is, or pretends to be, indifferent, but to 
put the scythe away. Suddenly he said the first of those things 
that made me, when I was with him, faintly creepy. He 
pointed at the house. "Once I see dis boat come down de rock," 
he said. It is phenomena like that of which I stand in constant 
dread: boats coming down rocks, people being teleported, 
statues dripping blood, old regrets and dreams in the form of 
Luna moths fluttering against the windows at midnight. 

Of course I finally figured out what Barney meant—or what 
I comforted myself with believing he meant: something about 
a bolt coming down the lightning rod on the house; a common- 
place, an utterly natural thing. I should have dismissed it, but 
it had its effect on me. Here was a stolid man, smelling of hay 
and leather, who talked like somebody out of Charles Fort's 
books, or like a traveller back from Oz. And all the time the 
lightning was zigging and zagging around him. 

On this hot morning when I saw Barney coming along with 
his faithful storm trudging behind him, I went back frown- 
ingly to my copy of "Swann's Way." I hoped that Barney, 
seeing me absorbed in a book, would pass by without saying 
anything. I read: "... I myself seemed actually to have be- 
come the subject of my book: a church, a quartet, the rivalry 
between Francis I and Charles V ..." I could feel Barney 
standing looking at me, but I didn't look at him. 

"Dis morning bime by," said Barney, "I go hunt grotches in 
de voods." 

"That's fine," I said, and turned a page and pretended to be 
engrossed in what I was reading. Barney walked on; he had 
wanted to talk some more, but he walked on. After a para- 
graph or two, his words began to come between me and the 
words in the book. "Bime by I go hunt grotches in de voods." 

If you are susceptible to such things, it is not difficult to visu- 
alize grotches. They fluttered into my mind: ugly little crea- 
tures, about the size of whippoorwills, only covered with blood 
and honey and the scrapings of church bells. Grotches . . . 
Who and what, I wondered, really was this thing in the form 
of a' hired man that kept anointing me ominously, in passing, 
with abracadabra? 

Barney didn't go toward the woods at once; he weeded the 
corn, he picked apple boughs up off the lawn, he knocked a 
yellow jacket's nest down out of a plum tree. It was raining 
now, but he didn't seem to notice it. He kept looking at me 
out of the corner of his eye, and I kept looking at him out of 
the corner of my eye. "Vot dime is it, blease?" he called to me 
finally. I put down my book and sauntered out to him. "When 
you go for those grotches," I said, firmly, "I'll go with you." 
I was sure he wouldn't want me to go. I was right; he pro- 
tested that he could get the grotches himself. "I'll go with 
you," I said, stubbornly. We stood looking at each other. And 
then, abruptly, just to give him something to ponder over, I 

        "I'm going out to clean the pasture spring; 
        I'll only stop to rake the leaves away 
        (And wait to watch the water clear, I may): 
        I shan't be gone long.—You come too." 

It wasn't, I realized, very good abracadabra, but it served: 
Barney looked at me in a puzzled way. "Yes," he said, vaguely. 

"It's five minutes of twelve," I said, remembering he had 

"Den we go," he said, and we trudged through the rain over 
to the orchard fence and climbed that, and opened a gate and 
went out into the meadow that slopes up to the woods. I had a 
prefiguring of Barney, at some proper spot deep in the woods, 
prancing around like a goat, casting off his false nature, shed- 
ding his hired man's garments, dropping his Teutonic accent, 
repeating diabolical phrases, conjuring up grotches. 

There was a great slash of lightning and a long bumping of 
thunder as we reached the edge of the woods. 

I turned and fled. Glancing over my shoulder, I saw Barney 
standing and staring after me. . . . 

It turned out (on the face of it) to be as simple as the boat 
that came down the rock. Grotches were "crotches": crotched 
saplings which he cut down to use as supports under the peach 
boughs, because in bearing time they became so heavy with 
fruit that there was danger of the branches snapping off. I saw 
Barney later, putting the crotches in place. We didn't have 
much to say to each other. I can see now that he was beginning 
to suspect me too. 

About six o'clock next evening, I was alone in the house and 
sleeping upstairs. Barney rapped on the door of the front porch. 
I knew it was Barney because he called to me. I woke up 
slowly. It was dark for six o'clock. I heard rumblings and saw 
flickerings. Barney was standing at the front door with his 
storm at heel! I had the conviction that it wasn't storming any- 
where except around my house. There couldn't, without the 
intervention of the devil or one of his agents, be so many light- 
ning storms in one neighborhood. 

I had been dreaming of Proust and the church at Combray 
and madeleines dipped in tea, and the rivalry between Francis I 
and Charles V. My head whirled and I didn't get up. Barney 
kept on rapping. He called out again. There was a flash, fol- 
lowed by a sharp splitting sound. I leaped up. This time, I 
thought, he is here to get me. I had a notion that he was stand- 
ing at the door barefooted, with a wreath of grape leaves 
around his head, and a wild animal's skin slung over his shoul- 
der. I didn't want to go down, but I did. 

He was as usual, solid, amiable, dressed like a hired man. I 
went out on the porch and looked at the improbable storm, 
now on in all its fury. "This is getting pretty bad," I said, 
meaningly. Barney looked at the rain placidly. "Well," I said, 
irritably, "what's up?" Barney turned his little squinty blue 
eyes on me. 

"We go to the garrick now and become warbs," he said. 

"The hell we do!" I thought to myself, quickly. I was uneasy 
— I was, you might even say, terrified—but I determined not to 
show it. If he began to chant incantations or to make obscene 
signs or if he attempted to sling me over his shoulder, I re- 
solved to plunge right out into the storm, lightning and all, 
and run to the nearest house. I didn't know what they would 
think at the nearest house when I burst in upon them, or what 
I would tell them. But I didn't intend to accompany this 
amiable-looking fiend to any garrick and become a warb. I 
tried to persuade myself that there was some simple explanation, 
that warbs would turn out to be as innocuous as boats on rocks 
and grotches in the woods, but the conviction gripped me (in 
the growling of the thunder) that here at last was the Moment 
when Barney Haller, or whoever he was, had chosen to get me. 
I walked toward the steps that lead to the lawn, and turned 
and faced him, grimly. 

"Listen!" I barked, suddenly. "Did you know that even when 
it isn't brillig I can produce slithy toves? Did you happen to 
know that the mome rath never lived that could outgrabe me ? 
Yeah and furthermore I can become anything I want to; even 
if I were a warb, I wouldn't have to keep on being one if I 
didn't want to. I can become a playing card at will, too; once 
I was the jack of clubs, only I forgot to take my glasses off and 
some guy recognized me. I . . ." 

Barney was backing slowly away, toward the petunia box at 
one end of the porch. His little blue eyes were wide. He saw 
that I had him. "I think I go now," he said. And he walked 
out into the rain. The rain followed him down the road. 

I have a new hired man now. Barney never came back to 
work for me after that day. Of course I figured out finally 
what he meant about the garrick and the warbs: he had simply, 
got horribly mixed up in trying to tell me that he was going up 
to the garret and clear out the wasps, of which I have thou- 
sands. The new hired man is afraid of them. Barney could 
have scooped them up in his hands and thrown them out a 
window without getting stung. I am sure he trafficked with the 
devil. But I am sorry I let him go. 

The Remarkable Case of Mr. Bruhl 

Samuel O. Bruhl was just an ordinary-looking citizen, like you 
and me, except for a curious, shoe-shaped scar on his left cheek, 
which he got when he fell against a wagon-tongue in his youth. 
He had a good job as treasurer for a syrup-and-fondant concern, 
a large, devout wife, two tractable daughters, and a nice home 
in Brooklyn. He worked from nine to five, took in a show occa- 
sionally, played a bad, complacent game of golf, and was 
usually in bed by eleven o'clock. The Bruhls had a dog named 
Bert, a small circle of friends, and an old sedan. They had made 
a comfortable, if unexciting, adjustment to life. 

There was no reason in the world why Samuel Bruhl shouldn't 
have lived along quietly until he died of some commonplace 
malady. He was a man designed by Nature for an uneventful 
life, an inexpensive but respectable funeral, and a modest stone 
marker. All this you would have predicted had you observed 
his colorless comings and goings, his mild manner, the small 
stature of his dreams. He was, in brief, the sort of average citizen 
that observers of Judd Gray thought Judd Gray was. And pre- 
cisely as that mild little family man was abruptly hurled into 
an incongruous tragedy, so was Samuel Bruhl suddenly picked 
out of the hundreds of men just like him and marked for an 
extravagant and unpredictable end. Oddly enough it was the 
shoe-shaped scar on his left cheek which brought to his heels a 
Nemesis he had never dreamed of. A blemish on his heart, a 
tic in his soul would have been different; one would have 
blamed Bruhl for whatever anguish an emotional or spiritual 
flaw laid him open to, but it is ironical indeed when the Furies 
ride down a man who has been guilty of nothing worse than 
an accident in his childhood. 

Samuel O. Bruhl looked very much like George ("Shoescar") 
Clinigan. Clinigan had that same singular shoe-shaped scar 
on his left cheek. There was also a general resemblance in 
height, weight, and complexion. A careful study would have 
revealed very soon that Clinigan's eyes were shifty and Bruhl's 
eyes were clear, and that the syrup-and-fondant company's 
treasurer had a more pleasant mouth and a higher forehead 
than the gangster and racketeer, but at a glance the similarity 
was remarkable. 

Had Clinigan not become notorious, this prank of Nature 
would never have been detected, but Clinigan did become no- 
torious and dozens of persons observed that he looked like 
Bruhl. They saw Clinigan's picture in the papers the day he 
was shot, and the day after, and the day after that. Presently 
someone in the syrup-and-fondant concern mentioned to some- 
one else that Clinigan looked like Mr. Bruhl, remarkably like 
Mr. Bruhl. Soon everybody in the place had commented on it, 
among themselves, and to Mr. Bruhl. 

Mr. Bruhl rather laughed it off at first, but one day when 
Clinigan had been in the hospital a week, a cop peered closely 
at Mr. Bruhl when he was on his way home from work. After 
that, the little treasurer noticed a number of other strangers 
staring at him with mingled surprise and alarm. One small, 
dark man hastily thrust a hand into his coat pocket and paled 

Mr. Bruhl began to worry. He began to imagine things. "I 
hope this fellow Clinigan doesn't pull through," he said one 
morning at breakfast. "He's a bad actor. He's better off dead." 

"Oh, he'll pull through," said Mrs. Bruhl, who had been 
reading the morning paper. "It says here he'll pull through. 
But it says they'll shoot him again. It says they're sure to shoot 
him again." 

The morning after the night that Clinigan left the hospital, 
secretly, by a side door, and disappeared into the town, Bruhl 
decided not to go to work. "I don't feel so good today," he said 
to his wife. "Would you call up the office and tell them I'm 

"You don't look well," said his wife. "You really don't look 
well. Get down, Bert," she added, for the dog had jumped upon 
her lap and whined. The animal knew that something was 

That evening Bruhl, who had mooned about the house all 
day, read in the papers that Clinigan had vanished, but was 
believed to be somewhere in the city. His various rackets re- 
quired his presence, at least until he made enough money to 
skip out with; he had left the hospital penniless. Rival gang- 
sters, the papers said, were sure to seek him out, to hunt him 
down, to give it to him again. "Give him what again?" asked 
Mrs. Bruhl when she read this. "Let's talk about something 
else," said her husband. 

It was little Joey, the officeboy at the syrup-and-fondant com- 
pany, who first discovered that Mr. Bruhl was afraid. Joey, 
who went about with tennis shoes on, entered the treasurer's 
office suddenly—flung open the door and started to say some- 
thing. "Good God!" cried Mr. Bruhl, rising from his chair. 

"Why, what's the matter, Mr. Bruhl?" asked Joey. Other little 
things happened. The switchboard girl phoned Mr. Bruhl's 
desk one afternoon and said there was a man waiting to see 
him, a Mr. Globe. "What's he look like?" asked Bruhl, who 
didn't know anybody named Globe. "He's small and dark," 
said the girl. "A small, dark man?" said Bruhl. "Tell him I'm 
out. Tell him I've gone to California." The personnel, compar- 
ing notes, decided at length that the treasurer was afraid of being 
mistaken for Shoescar and put on the spot. They said nothing to 
Mr. Bruhl about this, because they were forbidden to by Ollie 
Breithofter, a fattish clerk who was a tireless and inventive 
practical joker and who had an idea. 

As the hunt went on for Clinigan and he still wasn't found 
and killed, Mr. Bruhl lost weight and grew extremely fidgety. 
He began to figure out new ways of getting to work, one re- 
quiring the use of two different ferry lines; he ate his lunch in, 
he wouldn't answer bells, he cried out when anyone dropped 
anything, and he ran into stores or banks when cruising taxi- 
drivers shouted at him. One morning, in setting the house to 
rights, Mrs. Bruhl found a revolver under his pillow. "I found a 
revolver under your pillow," she told him that night. "Burglars 
are bad in this neighborhood," he said. "You oughtn't to have 
a revolver," she said. They argued about it, he irritably, she 
uneasily, until time for bed. As Bruhl was undressing, after 
locking and bolting all the doors, the telephone rang. "It's for 
you, Sam," said Mrs. Bruhl. Her husband went slowly to the 
phone, passing Bert on the way. "I wish I was you," he said to 
the dog, and took up the receiver. "Get this, Shoescar," said a 
husky voice. "We trailed you where you are, see? You're 
cooked." The receiver at the other end was hung up. Bruhl 
shouted. His wife came running. "What is it, Sam, what is it?" 
she cried. Bruhl, pale, sick-looking, had fallen into a chair. 
"They got me," he moaned. "They got me." Slowly, deviously, 
Minnie Bruhl got it out of her husband that he had been mis- 
taken for Clinigan and that he was cooked. Mrs. Bruhl was 
not very quick mentally, but she had a certain intuition and this 
intuition told her, as she trembled there in her nightgown above 
her broken husband, that this was the work of Ollie Breithofter. 
She instantly phoned Ollie Breithofter's wife and, before she 
hung up, had got the truth out of Mrs. Breithofter. It was 
Ollie who had called. 

The treasurer of the Maskonsett Syrup & Fondant Company, 
Inc., was so relieved to know that the gangs weren't after him 
that he admitted frankly at the office next day that Ollie had 
fooled him for a minute. Mr. Bruhl even joined in the laughter 
and wisecracking, which went on all day. After that, for almost 
a week, the mild little man had comparative peace of mind. 
The papers said very little about Clinigan now. He had com- 
pletely disappeared. Gang warfare had died down for the 
time being. 

One Sunday morning Mr. Bruhl went for an automobile ride 
with his wife and daughters. They had driven about a mile 
through Brooklyn streets when, glancing in the mirror above 
his head, Mr. Bruhl observed a blue sedan just behind him. He 
turned off into the next side street, and the sedan turned off 
too. Bruhl made another turn, and the sedan followed him. 
"Where are you going, dear?" asked Mrs. Bruhl. Mr. Bruhl 
didn't answer her, he speeded up, he drove terrifically fast, he 
turned corners so wildly that the rear wheels swung around. A 
traffic cop shrilled at him. The younger daughter screamed. 
Bruhl drove right on, weaving in and out. Mrs. Bruhl began 
to berate him wildly. "Have you lost your mind, Sam?" she 
shouted. Mr. Bruhl looked behind him. The sedan was no 
longer to be seen. He slowed up. "Let's go home," he said. "I've 
had enough of this." 

A month went by without incident (thanks largely to Mrs. 
Breithofter) and Samuel Bruhl began to be himself again. On 
the day that he was practically normal once more, Sluggy Pen- 
siotta, alias Killer Lewis, alias Stranger Koetschke, was shot. 
Sluggy was the leader of the gang that had sworn to get Shoescar 
Clinigan. The papers instantly took up the gang-war story where 
they had left off. Pictures of Clinigan were published again. 
The slaying of Pensiotta, said the papers, meant but one thing: 
it meant that Shoescar Clinigan was cooked. Mr. Bruhl, reading 
this, went gradually to pieces once more. 

After another week of skulking about, starting at every noise, 
and once almost fainting when an automobile backfired near 
him, Samuel Bruhl began to take on a remarkable new appear- 
ance. He talked out of the corner of his mouth, his eyes grew 
shifty. He looked more and more like Shoescar Clinigan. He 
snarled at his wife. Once he called her "Babe," and he had 
never called her anything but Minnie. He kissed her in a 
strange, new way, acting rough, almost brutal. At the office he 
was mean and overbearing. He used peculiar language. One 
night when the Bruhls had friends in for bridge—old Mr. 
Creegan and his wife—Bruhl suddenly appeared from upstairs 
with a pair of scarlet pajamas on, smoking a cigarette, and 
gripping his revolver. After a few loud and incoherent remarks 
of a boastful nature, he let fly at a clock on the mantel, and hit 
it squarely in the middle. Mrs. Bruhl screamed. Mr. Creegan 
fainted. Bert, who was in the kitchen, howled. "What's the 
matta you?" snarled Bruhl. "Ya bunch of softies." 

Quite by accident, Mrs. Bruhl discovered, hidden away in a 
closet, eight or ten books on gangs and gangsters, which Bruhl 
had put there. They included "Al Capone," "You Can't Win," 
"10,000 Public Enemies" and a lot of others; and they were all 
well thumbed. Mrs. Bruhl realized that it was high time some- 
thing was done, and she determined to have a doctor for her 
husband. For two or three days Bruhl had not gone to work. 
He lay around in his bedroom, in his red pajamas, smoking 
cigarettes. The office phoned once or twice. When Mrs. Bruhl 
urged him to get up and dress and go to work, he laughed and 
patted her roughly on the head. "It's a knockover, kid," he 
said. "We'll be sitting pretty. To hell with it." 

The doctor who finally came and slipped into Bruhl's bed- 
room was very grave when he emerged. "This is a psychosis," 
he said, "a definite psychosis. Your husband is living in a world 
of fantasy. He has built up a curious defence mechanism against 
something or other." The doctor suggested that a psychiatrist 
be called in, but after he had gone Mrs. Bruhl decided to take 
her husband out of town on a trip. The Maskonsett Syrup & 
Fondant Company, Inc., was very fine about it. Mr. Scully said 
of course. "Sam is very valuable to us, Mrs. Bruhl," said Mr. 
Scully, "and we all hope he'll be all right." Just the same he 
had Mr. Bruhl's accounts examined, when Mrs. Bruhl had gone. 

Oddly enough, Samuel Bruhl was amenable to the idea of 
going away. "I need a rest," he said. "You're right. Let's get 
the hell out of here." He seemed normal up to the time they set 
out for the Grand Central and then he insisted on leaving from 
the 125th Street station. Mrs. Bruhl took exception to this, as 
being ridiculous, whereupon her doting husband snarled at 
her. "God, what a dumb moll I picked," he said to Minnie 
Bruhl, and he added bitterly that if the heat was put to him 
it would be his own babe who was to blame. "And what do 
you think of that?" he said, pushing her to the floor of the cab. 

They went to a little inn in the mountains. It wasn't a very 
nice place, but the rooms were clean and the meals were good. 
There was no form of entertainment, except a Tom Thumb 
golf course and an uneven tennis court, but Mr. Bruhl didn't 
mind. He said it was too cold outdoors, anyway. He stayed 
indoors, reading and smoking. In the evening he played the 
mechanical piano in the dining-room. He liked to play "More 
Than You Know" over and over again. One night, about nine 
o'clock, he was putting in his seventh or eighth nickel when 
four men walked into the dining-room. They were silent men, 
wearing overcoats, and carrying what appeared to be cases for 
musical instruments. They took out various kinds of guns from 
their cases, quickly, expertly, and walked over toward Bruhl, 
keeping step. He turned just in time to see them line up four 
abreast and aim at him. Nobody else was in the room. There 
was a cumulative roar and a series of flashes. Mr. Bruhl fell 
and the men walked out in single file, rapidly, nobody having 
said a word. 

Mrs. Bruhl, state police, and the hotel manager tried to get 
the wounded man to talk. Chief Witznitz of the nearest town's 
police force tried it. It was no good. Bruhl only snarled and 
told them to go away and let him alone. Finally, Commissioner 
O'Donnell of the New York City Police Department arrived 
at the hospital. He asked Bruhl what the men looked like. "I 
don't know what they looked like," snarled Bruhl, "and if I 
did know I wouldn't tell you." He was silent a moment, then: 
"Cop!" he added, bitterly. The Commissioner sighed and turned 
away. "They're all like that," he said to the others in the room. 
"They never talk." Hearing this, Mr. Bruhl smiled, a pleased 
smile, and closed his eyes. 

Something to Say 

Hugh Kingsmill and I stimulated each other to such a pitch that after 
the first meeting he had a brain storm and I lay sleepless all night and in 
the morning was on the brink of a nervous breakdown.—William Ger- 
hardi's "Memoirs of a Polyglot." 

Elliot Vereker was always coming into and going out of my 
life. He was the only man who ever continuously stimulated me 
to the brink of a nervous breakdown. I met him first at a party 
in Amawalk, New York, on the Fourth of July, 1927. He arrived 
about noon in an old-fashioned horse cab, accompanied by a 
lady in black velvet whom he introduced as "my niece, Olga 
Nethersole." She was, it turned out, neither his niece nor Olga 
Nethersole. Vereker was a writer; he was gaunt and emaciated 
from sitting up all night talking; he wore an admiral's hat 
which he had stolen from an admiral. Usually he carried with 
him an old Gladstone bag filled with burned-out electric-light 
bulbs which it was his pleasure to throw, unexpectedly, against 
the sides of houses and the walls of rooms. He loved the pop- 
ping sound they made and the tinkling sprinkle of fine glass 
that followed. He had an inordinate fondness for echoes. 
"Halloooo !" he would bawl, wherever he was, in a terrific boom- 
ing voice that could have conjured up an echo on a prairie. 

At the most inopportune and inappropriate moments he would 
snap out frank four-letter words, such as when he was talking 
to a little child or the sister of a vicar. He had no reverence 
and no solicitude. He would litter up your house, burn bed- 
spreads and carpets with lighted cigarette stubs, and as likely 
as not depart with your girl and three or four of your most 
prized books and neckties. He was enamored of breaking phono- 
graph records and phonographs; he liked to tear sheets and 
pillowcases in two; he would unscrew the doorknobs from your 
doors so that if you were in you couldn't get out and if you were 
out you couldn't get in. His was the true artistic fire, the rare 
gesture of genius. When I first met him, he was working on a 
novel entitled "Sue You Have Seen." He had worked it out, 
for some obscure reason, from the familiar expression "See you 
soon." He never finished it, nor did he ever finish, or indeed get 
very far with, any writing, but he was nevertheless, we all felt, 
one of the great original minds of our generation. That he had 
"something to say" was obvious in everything he did. 

Vereker could converse brilliantly on literary subjects: Proust, 
Goethe, Voltaire, Whitman. Basically he felt for them a certain 
respect, but sometimes, and always when he was drunk, he 
would belittle their powers and their achievements in strong 
and pungent language. Proust, I later discovered, he had never 
read, but he made him seem more clear to me, and less impor- 
tant, than anybody else ever has. Vereker always liked to have 
an electric fan going while he talked and he would stick a 
folded newspaper into the fan so that the revolving blades 
scuttered against it, making a noise like the rattle of machine- 
gun fire. This exhilarated him and exhilarated me, too, but I 
suppose that it exhilarated him more than it did me. He seemed, 
at any rate, to get something out of it that I missed. He would 
raise his voice so that I could hear him above the racket. Some- 
times, even then, I couldn't make out what he was saying. 

"What?" I would shout. "You heard me!" he would yell, his 
good humor disappearing in an instant. 

I had, of course, not heard him at all. There was no reasoning 
with him, no convincing him. I can still hear the musketry of 
those fans in my ears. They have done, I think, something to 
me. But for Vereker, and his great promise, one could endure a 
great deal. He would talk about the interests implicated in life, 
the coincidence of desire and realization, the symbols behind 
art and reality. He was fond of quoting Santayana when he 
was sober. 

"Santayana," he would say when he was drinking, "has 
weight; he's a ton of feathers." Then he would laugh roaringly; 
if he was at Tony's, he would flounder out into the kitchen, 
insulting some movie critic on the way, and repeat his line to 
whoever was there, and come roaring back. 

Vereker had a way of flinging himself at a sofa, kicking one 
end out of it; or he would drop into a fragile chair like a tired 
bird dog and something would crack. He never seemed to 
notice. You would invite him to dinner, or, what happened 
oftener, he would drop in for dinner uninvited, and while you 
were shaking up a cocktail in the kitchen he would disappear. 
He might go upstairs to wrench the bathtub away from the wall 
("Breaking lead pipe is one of the truly enchanting adventures 
in life," he said once), or he might simply leave for good in 
one of those inexplicable huffs of his which were a sign of his 
peculiar genius. He was likely, of course, to come back around 
two in the morning bringing some awful woman with him, 
stirring up the fire, talking all night long, knocking things off 
tables, singing, or counting. I have known him to lie back on a 
sofa, his eyes closed, and count up to as high as twenty-four 
thousand by ones, in a bitter, snarling voice. It was his protest 
against the regularization of a mechanized age. "Achievement," 
he used to say, "is the fool's gold of idiots." He never believed 
in doing anything or in having anything done, either for the 
benefit of mankind or for individuals. He would have written, 
but for his philosophical indolence, very great novels indeed. 
We all knew that, and we treated him with a deference for 
which, now that he is gone, we are sincerely glad. 

Once Vereker invited me to a house which a lady had turned 
over to him when she went to Paris for a divorce. (She expected 
to marry Vereker afterward but he would not marry her, nor 
would he move out of her house until she took legal action. 
"American women," Vereker would say, "are like American 
colleges: they have dull, half-dead faculties.") When I arrived 
at the house, Vereker chose to pretend that he did not remember 
me. It was rather difficult to carry the situation off, for he was 
in one of his black moods. It was then that he should have writ- 
ten, but never did; instead he would gabble brilliantly about 
other authors. "Goethe," he would say, "was a wax figure stuffed 
with hay. When you say that Proust was sick, you have said 
everything. Shakespeare was a dolt. If there had been no Vol- 
taire, it would not have been necessary to create one." Etc. I had 
been invited for the weekend and I intended to stay; none of 
us ever left Vereker alone when we came upon him in one of his 
moods. He frequently threatened suicide and six or seven times 
attempted it but, in every case, there was someone on hand to 
prevent him. Once, I remember, he got me out of bed late at 
night at my own apartment. "I'm going through with it this 
time," he said, and darted into the bathroom. He was fumbling 
around for some poison in the medicine chest, which fortunately 
contained none, when I ran in and pleaded with him. "You 
have so many things yet to do," I said to him. "Yes," he said, 
"and so many people yet to insult." He talked brilliantly all 
night long, and drank up a bottle of cognac that I had got to 
send to my father. 

I had gone to the bathroom for a shower, the time he invited 
me to his lady's house, when he stalked into the room. "Get 
out of that tub, you common housebreaker," he said," or I 
shall summon the police!" I laughed, of course, and went on 
bathing. I was rubbing myself with a towel when the police 
arrived—he had sent for them! Vereker would have made an 
excellent actor; he convinced the police that he had never seen 
me before in his life. I was arrested, taken away, and locked 
up for the night. A few days later I got a note from Vereker. "I 
shall never ask you to my house again," he wrote, "after the 
way I acted last Saturday." His repentances, while whimsical, 
were always as complete as the erratic charades which called 
them forth. He was unpredictable and, at times, difficult, but he 
was always stimulating. Sometimes he keyed you up to a point 
beyond which, you felt, you could not go. 

Vereker had a close escape from death once which I shall 
never forget. A famous American industrialist had invited a 
number of American writers and some visiting English men of 
letters out to his Long Island place. We were to make the trip 
in a huge bus that had been chartered for the purpose. Vereker 
came along and insisted, when we reached Long Island, on 
driving the bus. It was an icy night and he would put on the 
brakes at a curve, causing the heavy vehicle to skid ponderously. 
Several times we surged perilously near to a ditch and once the 
bus snapped off a big tree like a match. I remember that H. G. 
Bennett was along, and Arnold Wells, the three Sitwells, and 
four or five Waughs. One of them finally shut off the ignition 
and another struck Vereker over the head with a crank. His 
friends were furious. When the car stopped, we carried him 
outside and put him down on the hard, cold ground. Marvin 
Deane, the critic, held Vereker's head, which was bleeding pro- 
fusely, in his lap, looked up at the busload of writers, and said: 
"You might have killed him! And he is a greater genius than 
any of you!" It was superb. Then the amazing Vereker opened 
his eyes. "That goes for me, too," he said, and closed them 

We hurried him to a hospital, where, in two days, he was 
on his feet again; he left the hospital without a word to any- 
body, and we all chipped in to pay the bill. Vereker had some 
money at the time which his mother had given him but, as he 
said, he needed it. "I am glad he is up and out," I said to the 
nurse who had taken care of him. "So am I," she said. Vereker 
affected everybody the same way. 

Some time after this we all decided to make up a fund and 
send Vereker to Europe to write. His entire output, I had dis- 
covered, consisted of only twenty or thirty pages, most of them 
bearing the round stain of liquor glasses; one page was the 
beginning of a play done more or less in the style of Gertrude 
Stein. It seemed to me as brilliant as anything of its kind. 

We got together about fifteen hundred dollars and I was 
delegated to approach Vereker, as tactfully as possible. We 
knew that it was folly for him to go on the way he was, dis- 
sipating his talent; for weeks he had been in one of his blackest 
moods: he would call on people, drink up their rye, wrench 
light-brackets off the walls, hurl scintillating gibes at his friends 
and at the accepted literary masters of all time, through whose 
superficiality Vereker saw more clearly, I think, than anybody 
else I have ever known. He would end up by bursting into 
tears. "Here, but for the gracelessness of God," he would shout, 
"stands the greatest writer in the history of the world!" We felt 
that, despite Vereker's drunken exaggeration, there was more 
than a grain of truth in what he said: certainly nobody else 
we ever met had, so utterly, the fire of genius that blazed in 
Vereker, if outward manifestations meant anything. 

He would never try for a Guggenheim fellowship. "Guggen- 
heim follow-sheep!" he would snarl. "Fall in line, all you little 
men! Don't talk to me about Good-in-time fellowships!" He 
would go on that way, sparklingly, for an hour, his tirade finally 
culminating in one of those remarkable fits of temper in which 
he could rip up any apartment at all, no matter whose, in less 
than fifteen minutes. 

Vereker, much to my surprise and gratification, took the 
fifteen hundred dollars without making a scene. I had suspected 
that he might denounce us all, that he might go into one of 
his brilliant philippics against Money, that he might even 
threaten again to take his life, for it had been several months 
since he had attempted suicide. But no; he snarled a bit, it is 
true, but he accepted the money. "I'm cheap at twice the price," 
he said. 

It was the most money Vereker had ever had in his life and 
of course we should have known better than to let him have it 
all at once. The night of the day I gave it to him he cut a wide 
swath in the cheaper West Side night clubs and in Harlem, 
spent three hundred dollars, insulted several women, and fig- 
ured in fist fights with a policeman, two taxi-drivers, and two 
husbands, all of whom won. We instantly decided to arrange 
his passage on a ship that was sailing for Cherbourg three nights 
later. Somehow or other we kept him out of trouble until the 
night of the sailing, when we gave a going-away party for him 
at Marvin Deane's house. Everybody was there: Gene Tunney, 
Sir Hubert Wilkins, Count von Luckner, Edward Bernays, and 
the literary and artistic crowd generally. Vereker got fright- 
fully drunk. He denounced everybody at the party and also 
Hugh Walpole, Joseph Conrad, Crane, Henry James, Hardy, 
and Meredith. He dwelt on the subject of "Jude the Obscure." 
"Jude the Obscure," he would shout, "Jude the Obscene, June 
the Obscude, Obs the June Moon." He combined with his pene- 
trating critical evaluations and his rare creative powers a certain 
unique fantasy not unlike that of Lewis Carroll. I once told him 
so. "Not unlike your goddam grandmother!" he screamed. He 
was sensitive; he hated to be praised to his face; and then of 
course he held the works of Carroll in a certain disesteem. 

Thus the party went on. Everybody was speechless, spell- 
bound, listening to Elliot Vereker. You could not miss his 
force. He was always the one person in a room. When it got to 
be eleven o'clock, I felt that we had better round up Vereker 
and start for the docks, for the boat sailed at midnight. He was 
nowhere to be found. We were alarmed. We searched every 
room, looked under beds, and into closets, but he was gone. 
Some of us ran downstairs and out into the street, asking cab- 
drivers and passersby if they had seen him, a gaunt, tall, wild 
man with his hair in his eyes. Nobody had. It was almost 
eleven-thirty when somebody thought to look on the roof, to 
which there was access by a ladder through a trapdoor. Vereker 
was there. He lay sprawled on his face, the back of his head 
crushed in by a blow from some heavy instrument, probably a 
bottle. He was quite dead. "The world's loss," murmured 
Deane, as he looked down at the pitiful dust so lately the most 
burning genius we had ever been privileged to know, "is Hell's 

I think we all felt that way. 

Snapshot of a Dog 

I ran across a dim photograph of him the other day, going 
through some old things. He's been dead twenty-five years. 
His name was Rex (my two brothers and I named him when 
we were in our early teens) and he was a bull terrier. "An 
American bull terrier," we used to say, proudly; none of your 
English bulls. He had one brindle eye that sometimes made him 
look like a clown and sometimes reminded you of a politician 
with derby hat and cigar. The rest of him was white except for 
a brindle saddle that always seemed to be slipping off and a 
brindle stocking on a hind leg. Nevertheless, there was a nobility 
about him. He was big and muscular and beautifully made. He 
never lost his dignity even when trying to accomplish the ex- 
travagant tasks my brothers and myself used to set for him. 
One of these was the bringing of a ten-foot wooden rail into 
the yard through the back gate. We would throw it out into 
the alley and tell him to go get it. Rex was as powerful as a 
wrestler, and there were not many things that he couldn't man- 
age somehow to get hold of with his great jaws and lift or 
drag to wherever he wanted to put them, or wherever we 
wanted them put. He would catch the rail at the balance and 
lift it clear of the ground and trot with great confidence toward 
the gate. Of course, since the gate was only four feet wide or 
so, he couldn't bring the rail in broadside. He found that out 
when he got a few terrific jolts, but he wouldn't give up. He 
finally figured out how to do it, by dragging the rail, holding 
onto one end, growling. He got a great, wagging satisfaction 
out of his work. We used to bet kids who had never seen Rex 
in action that he could catch a baseball thrown as high as they 
could throw it. He almost never let us down. Rex could hold 
a baseball with ease in his mouth, in one cheek, as if it were a 
chew of tobacco. 

He was a tremendous fighter, but he never started fights. I 
don't believe he liked to get into them, despite the fact that he 
came from a line of fighters. He never went for another dog's 
throat but for one of its ears (that teaches a dog a lesson), and 
he would get his grip, close his eyes, and hold on. He could hold 
on for hours. His longest fight lasted from dusk until almost 
pitch-dark, one Sunday. It was fought in East Main Street in 
Columbus with a large, snarly nondescript that belonged to a 
big colored man. When Rex finally got his ear grip, the brief 
whirlwind of snarling turned to screeching. It was frightening . 
to listen to and to watch. The Negro boldly picked the dogs 
up somehow and began swinging them around his head, and 
finally let them fly like a hammer in a hammer throw, but al- 
though they landed ten feet away with a great plump, Rex 
still held on. 

The two dogs eventually worked their way to the middle of 
the car tracks, and after a while two or three streetcars were 
held up by the fight. A motorman tried to pry Rex's jaws open 
with a switch rod; somebody lighted a fire and made a torch of 
a stick and held that to Rex's tail, but he paid no attention. 

In the end, all the residents and storekeepers in the neighbor- 
hood were on hand, shouting this, suggesting that. Rex's joy 
of battle, when battle was joined, was almost tranquil. He 
had a kind of pleasant expression during fights, not a vicious 
one, his eyes closed in what would have seemed to be sleep 
had it not been for the turmoil of the struggle. The Oak 
Street Fire Department finally had to be sent for—I don't know 
why nobody thought of it sooner. Five or six pieces of apparatus 
arrived, followed by a battalion chief. A hose was attached 
and a powerful stream of water was turned on the dogs. Rex 
held on for several moments more while the torrent buffeted 
him about like a log in a freshet. He was a hundred yards away 
from where the fight started when he finally let go. 

The story of that Homeric fight got all around town, and 
some of our relatives looked upon the incident as a blot on 
the family name. They insisted that we get rid of Rex, but 
we were very happy with him, and nobody could have made 
us give him up. We would have left town with him first, along 
any road there was to go. It would have been different, perhaps, 
if he had ever started fights, or looked for trouble. But he had 
a gentle disposition. He never bit a person in the ten strenuous 
years that he lived, nor ever growled at anyone except prowlers. 
He killed cats, that is true, but quickly and neatly and with- 
out especial malice, the way men kill certain animals. It was 
the only thing he did that we could never cure him of doing. 
He never killed, or even chased, a squirrel. I don't know why. 
He had his own philosophy about such things. He never ran 
barking after wagons or automobiles. He didn't seem to see 
the idea in pursuing something you couldn't catch, or some- 
thing you couldn't do anything with, even if you did catch it. 
A wagon was one of the things he couldn't tug along with his 
mighty jaws, and he knew it. Wagons, therefore, were not a 
part of his world. 

Swimming was his favorite recreation. The first time he ever 
saw a body of water (Alum Creek), he trotted nervously along 
the steep bank for a while, fell to barking wildly, and finally 
plunged in from a height of eight feet or more. I shall always 
remember that shining, virgin dive. Then he swam upstream 
and back just for the pleasure of it, like a man. It was fun to 
see him battle upstream against a stiff current, struggling and 
growling every foot of the way. He had as much fun in the 
water as any person I have known. You didn't have to throw 
a stick in the water to get him to go in. Of course, he would 
bring back a stick to you if you did throw one in. He would I 
even have brought back a piano if you had thrown one in. 

That reminds me of the night, way after midnight, when 
he went a-roving in the light of the moon and brought back a 
small chest of drawers that he found somewhere—how far 
from the house nobody ever knew; since it was Rex, it could 
easily have been half a mile. There were no drawers in the chest 
when he got it home, and it wasn't a good one—he hadn't 
taken it out of anybody's house; it was just an old cheap piece 
that somebody had abandoned on a trash heap. Still, it was 
something he wanted, probably because it presented a nice 
problem in transportation. It tested his mettle. We first knew 
about his achievement when, deep in the night, we heard him 
trying to get the chest up onto the porch. It sounded as if I 
two or three people were trying to tear the house down. We 
came downstairs and turned on the porch light. Rex was on 
the top step trying to pull the thing up, but it had caught 
somehow and he was just holding his own. I suppose he would 
have held his own till dawn if we hadn't helped him. The 
next day we carted the chest miles away and threw it out. If 
we had thrown it out in a nearby alley, he would have brought 
it home again, as a small token of his integrity in such matters. 
After all, he had been taught to carry heavy wooden objects 
about, and he was proud of his prowess. 

I am glad Rex never saw a trained police dog jump. He was 
just an amateur jumper himself, but the most daring and 
tenacious I have ever seen. He would take on any fence we 
pointed out to him. Six feet was easy for him, and he could do 
eight by making a tremendous leap and hauling himself over 
finally by his paws, grunting and straining; but he lived and 
died without knowing that twelve- and sixteen-foot walls were 
too much for him. Frequently, after letting him try to go over 
one for a while, we would have to carry him home. He would 
never have given up trying. 

There was in his world no such thing as the impossible. 
Even death couldn't beat him down. He died, it is true, but only, 
as one of his admirers said, after "straight-arming the death 
angel" for more than an hour. Late one afternoon he wandered 
home, too slowly and too uncertainly to be the Rex that had 
trotted briskly homeward up our avenue for ten years. I think 
we all knew when he came through the gate that he was dying. 
He had apparently taken a terrible beating, probably from the 
owner of some dog that he had got into a fight with. His head 
and body were scarred. His heavy collar with the teeth marks 
of many a battle on it was awry; some of the big brass studs 
in it were sprung loose from the leather. He licked at our hands 
and, staggering, fell, but got up again. We could see that he 
was looking for someone. One of his three masters was not home. 
He did not get home for an hour. During that hour the bull 
terrier fought against death as he had fought against the cold, 
strong current of Alum Creek, as he had fought to climb twelve- 
foot walls. When the person he was waiting for did come 
through the gate, whistling, ceasing to whistle, Rex walked a 
few wobbly paces toward him, touched his hand with his muz- 
zle, and fell down again. This time he didn't get up. 

The Evening's at Seven 

He hadn't lighted the upper light in his office all afternoon 
and now he turned out the desk lamp. It was a quarter of seven 
in the evening and it was dark and raining. He could hear the 
rattle of taxicabs and trucks and the sound of horns. Very far 
off a siren screamed its frenzied scream and he thought: it's a 
little like an anguish dying with the years. When it gets to 
Third Avenue, or Ninety-fifth Street, he thought, I won't 
hear it any more. 

I'll be home, he said to himself, as he got up slowly and slowly 
put on his hat and overcoat (the overcoat was damp), by seven 
o'clock, if I take a taxicab, I'll say hello, my dear, and the two 
yellow lamps will be lighted and my papers will be on my desk, 
and I'll say I guess I'll lie down a few minutes before dinner, 
and she will say all right and ask two or three small questions 
about the day and I'll answer them. 

When he got outside of his office, in the street, it was dark 
and raining and he lighted a cigarette. A young man went by 
whistling loudly. Two girls went by talking gaily, as if it were 
not raining, as if this were not a time for silence and for re- 
membering. He called to a taxicab and it stopped and he got 
in, and sat there, on the edge of the seat, and the driver finally 
said where to ? He gave a number he was thinking about. 

She was surprised to see him and, he believed, pleased. It was 
very nice to be in her apartment again. He faced her, quickly, 
and it seemed to him as if he were facing somebody in a tennis 
game. She would want to know (but wouldn't ask) why he 
was, so suddenly, there, and he couldn't exactly say: I gave a 
number to a taxi-driver and it was your number. He couldn't 
say that; and besides, it wasn't that simple. 

It was dark in the room and still raining outside. He lighted a 
cigarette (not wanting one) and looked at her. He watched her 
lovely gestures as of old and she said he looked tired and he 
said he wasn't tired and he asked her what she had been doing 
and she said oh, nothing much. He talked, sitting awkwardly 
on the edge of a chair, and she talked, lying gracefully on a 
chaise-longue, about people they had known and hadn't cared 
about. He was mainly conscious of the rain outside and of the 
soft darkness in the room and of other rains and other dark- 
nesses. He got up and walked around the room looking at pic- 
tures but not seeing what they were, and realizing that some 
old familiar things gleamed darkly, and he came abruptly face 
to face with something he had given her, a trivial and comic 
thing, and it didn't seem trivial or comic now, but very large 
and important and embarrassing, and he turned away from it 
and asked after somebody else he didn't care about. Oh, she 
said, and this and that and so and such (words he wasn't listen- 
ing to). Yes, he said, absently, I suppose so. Very much, he said 
(in answer to something else), very much. Oh, she said, laugh- 
ing at him, not that much ! He didn't have any idea what they 
were talking about. 

She asked him for a cigarette and he walked over and gave 
her one, not touching her fingers but very conscious of her 
fingers. He was remembering a twilight when it had been rain- 
ing and dark, and he thought of April and kissing and laughter. 
He noticed a clock on the mantel and it was ten after seven. She 
said you never used to believe in clocks. He laughed and looked 
at her for a time and said I have to be at the hotel by seven- 
thirty, or I don't get anything to eat; it's that sort of hotel. Oh, 
she said. 

He walked to a table and picked up a figurine and set it 
down again with extreme care, looking out of the corner of his 
eye at the trivial and comic and gigantic present he had given 
her. He wondered if he would kiss her and when he would 
kiss her and if she wanted to be kissed and if she were thinking 
of it, but she asked him what he would have to eat tonight at his 
hotel. He said clam chowder. Thursday, he said, they always 
have clam chowder. Is that the way you know it's Thursday, 
she said, or is that the way you know it's clam chowder? 

He picked up the figurine and put it down again, so that he 
could look (without her seeing him look) at the clock. It was 
eighteen minutes after seven and he had the mingled thoughts 
clocks gave him. You mustn't, she said, miss your meal. (She 
remembered he hated the word meal.) He turned around 
quickly and went over quickly and sat beside her and took hold 
of one of her fingers and she looked at the finger and not at 
him and he looked at the finger and not at her, both of them 
as if it were a new and rather remarkable thing. 

He got up suddenly and picked up his hat and coat and as 
suddenly put them down again and took two rapid determined 
steps toward her, and her eyes seemed a little wider. A bell 
rang. Oh that, she said, will be Clarice. And they relaxed. He 
looked a question and she said: my sister; and he said oh, of 
course. In a minute it was Clarice like a small explosion in the 
dark and rainy day talking rapidly of this and that: my dear 
he and this awful and then of all people so nothing loth and I 
said and he said, if you can imagine that! He picked up his 
hat and coat and Clarice said hello to him and he said hello 
and looked at the clock and it was almost twenty-five after seven. 

She went to the door with him looking lovely, and it was 
lovely and dark and raining outside and he laughed and she 
laughed and she was going to say something but he went out 
into the rain and waved back at her (not wanting to wave back 
at her) and she closed the door and was gone. He lighted a 
cigarette and let his hand get wet in the rain and the cigarette 
get wet and rain dripped from his hat. A taxicab drove up and 
the driver spoke to him and he said: what? and: oh, sure. And 
now he was going home. 

He was home by seven-thirty, almost exactly, and he said 
good evening to old Mrs. Spencer (who had the sick husband), 
and good evening to old Mrs. Holmes (who had the sick Pom- 
eranian), and he nodded and smiled and presently he was 
sitting at his table and the waitress spoke to him. She said: the 
Mrs. will be down, won't she? and he said yes, she will. And 
the waitress said clam chowder tonight, and consomme: you 
always take the clam chowder, ain't I right? No, he said, I'll 
have the consomme. 


When Tommy Trinway was fifteen years old, he knocked a 
lamp off the family surrey trying to drive it, behind the old 
family mare, Maud, into Bitzer's livery stable in Columbus. 
Maud, nearing bed and board, had trotted up suddenly, jerking 
one rein from young Trinway 's hands, and as a result she had 
veered to the left and a lamp had been knocked off the carriage 
as it entered the stable. That happened a long time ago—it was 
in 1909—but it had had a lasting effect on Tommy. He was not 
allowed to drive Maud after that—Maud, who was fat-bellied 
and gentle and sixteen—but his younger brother Ned could 
drive her, and that had had an effect on Tommy, too. He took 
to reading books instead of going out and playing games with 
the fellows. His mother worried about him. 

When the Trinways bought a Rambler, Tommy's old acci- 
dent with the carriage rose out of his past to plague him. He 
was nineteen then, but everybody said he was too nervous to 
drive the Rambler. Tommy didn't insist. He was afraid to drive 
the Rambler. He would dream at night of driving it, sometimes 
with his cap on backward, at sixty miles an hour, like Barney 
Oldfield; but mostly he would dream of driving it into the 
sides of buildings and off the tops of buildings. Once in a while, 
at breakfast, Tommy would reach the verge of announcing 
that he was going to learn to drive the auto—you were some- 
body in those days if your family had a Rambler and you drove 
it—but his big moment would always pass, his courage would 
wear off, and he never asserted himself. He became a studious 
young man, a young man of thought and not of action. Once 
he had played tennis with some ability, and more promise, and 
he had been a fair dancer, too, but he seldom played tennis any 
more—when he did, Ned beat him—and he never went to 
dances. His mother still worried about him, but nobody else 
did. He was looked upon as a sedentary young man, a natural 
born student. 

Tommy became slightly bald in his twenties and he took to 
wearing glasses, but he was not unattractive. At least, he was 
not unattractive to Betty Carter. She fell in love with him. She 
felt that there was something deep, if not profound, behind 
Tommy's moody silences, and the way he wrinkled his brow, 
and his slow, uncertain smile. She got him to go to dances again 
once in a while, and she told him she liked the way he danced. 
She decided that he had a future. Tommy brightened somewhat 
under Betty's admiration. When he was twenty-eight, she mar- 
ried him. 

Tommy Trinway did not want to drive the car his wife 
picked out for him to buy. But he bought it and he learned 
to drive it. He would practice in the early morning in a park 
at the edge of town (never with Betty, though; he didn't want 
her to see him groping and fumbling). He got so he could 
drive well enough, but he never liked it. He was always uneasy 
in traffic. Drivers of cars behind him would sound their klaxons 
irritably, and sometimes shout at him as they roared past on his 
left. Now and then, seeing in his mirror a big car rushing up 
behind, he would signal it on, slow down, and pull over to the 
side of the road. Betty used to laugh at him for that and call 
him silly. Pleasantly enough—at first. She drove very fast herself, 
with keen concentration, quick reflexes, and evident enjoyment. 
Tommy would find himself studying her, when she was driv- 
ing. There was an assured set to her mouth and a certain glint 
in her eyes. It dismayed him slightly. 

Betty finally took over the driving of the car entirely. Tommy 
began to get in the seat beside the driver's seat after the day in 
Broad Street when he absently put the gears in reverse and 
banged into a Pierce-Arrow parked behind him. He sat puzzled 
and helpless until Betty said firmly, "Let me get at the wheel." 
He moved over and let her get at the wheel. After that, Betty 
drove wherever they went. The more she drove, the faster she 
drove. She was always whirling out of line to pass cars ahead. 
Tommy lived in dread of a head-on collision, and sometimes 
Betty would become conscious of his tenseness. "Don't be so 
silly," she would say to him. "You're jumpy as a cat." When the 
gibe was new, he would laugh, and say something funny, maybe, 
and sometimes, after a moment, she would pat him on the 
shoulder. But it got so that he didn't answer her, and she kept 
both hands on the wheel. 

Betty sprained her left wrist—the first accident she had had 
in their ten years of married life—the summer they spent at 
West Dennis, on the Cape. "You're going to have to drive now," 
she told Tommy. "Sure," he said. "Sure. I'll drive." But he was 
silent at mealtimes and he looked miserable. He kept thinking 
of the day when he had gone out to the garage in Betty's absence 
and tried to back the car out and drive it around a little. She 
had gone somewhere in the Laytons' car to play tennis. Tommy 
had been thirty-nine years old that day, and something about 
being thirty-nine had made him determined to go out and 
drive the car. He started the engine after some trouble (he 
forgot for a while to switch on the ignition) and practiced shift- 
ing gears. He found himself trembling just doing that, and 
when he accidentally pressed his wrist on the klaxon button and 
it screamed at him, he jumped and took his foot off the clutch, 
and the car leaped forward and shook him up a bit before the 
engine choked and died. He hadn't told Betty about the in- 
cident. Once she would merely have laughed about it; but she 
wouldn't now, he thought. 

In the days before they were to start to New York, Tommy 
would take the car out on the roads early in the morning, before 
there was much traffic. He managed fairly well, but his co- 
ordination was slow, and once or twice he put the brake on hard 
without letting his clutch out and killed the engine. That 
would give him a sense of helplessness and panic, and he would 
sit for a long time without starting the engine again, remember- 
ing the time he had knocked the lamp off the surrey. He had 
hated Bitzer, he reflected, recalling the livery-stable man per- 
fectly—a stumpy, bow-legged man with a beard. Tommy had 
not told the family about that accident when he went home. 
They had found out about it the next morning from Bitzer. 
Tommy had been afraid to tell the family, just as he had been 
afraid to tell Betty about trying to back the car out of the 

One morning when he was out practicing driving, he came 
to a wide, straight concrete road, and pretty soon, to his own 
surprise, he had the car up to fifty miles an hour, and then fifty- 
five, and then sixty. He kept it at sixty for a little while, and as 
he roared along he suddenly began to chant loudly, for some 
crazy reason, "Little Bet-ty Bit-zer, little Bet-ty Bit-zer!" Then 
he slowed down as abruptly as he had started up, and stopped 
chanting. He felt pretty good when he drove back to the house 
and got breakfast. "The coffee is too strong," said Betty. "The 
coffee is swell," he told her. She widened her eyes. "Well!" she 
said. "Old cocksure!" Their laughter was a little strained, like 
the laughter of two people who have just met. 

The day that he started to drive the car to New York, with 
his wife beside him, Tommy Trinway felt vaguely that his 
future with her lay before him on the roads, obscure and 
ominous. He drove steadily, a little stiffly, and not fast. Other 
cars complained briefly, and roared past. Once in a while, when 
Tommy wavered, Betty would start up and make as if to grab 
the wheel, but she didn't. "Well!" she would begin, impatiently, 
and stop. They went along most of the time in silence. When, 
after many hours of driving and more stops than Betty thought 
were necessary, Tommy came out of the quiet of the Hutchinson 
River Parkway into the clangor and tangle of Fordham and 
felt the menace of the Bronx ahead of him, he almost drove 
to one side and stopped, but he didn't; he kept on, slowly. He 
was tired and worn. He had driven a long way, over good 
roads and over narrow, twisting roads. His shoulders ached 
from leaning tensely forward. The Bronx loomed up before 
him, like an ether nightmare he had had as a boy. Only there 
had been, that time, finally oblivion, and here now were unend- 
ing shouts and banging, and the roaring of elevated trains over- 
head, and a snarl of broad, ugly streets curving off in every 
direction, and big, sweaty women pushing baby carriages, and 
scowling men in shirt sleeves jabbering, and trucks rumbling 
and pounding by, and taxis rushing around him, and lights 
turning red and green under their iron hoods, and policemen 
making formidable gestures with their huge hands. 

He got through it somehow. Once a cop blew a series of 
quick, petulant blasts on his whistle and Betty snapped, "Speed 
it up ! You're blocking people !" and he had speeded up, narrowly 
missing the front fender of a laundry truck, whose driver 
shouted some profanity at him. "I wish I could take that wheel," 
Betty said. Tommy's heart was beating painfully in his throat 
and he didn't answer. Betty had to tell him which turns to make 
all the way. Once she cried, "Good God, watch the lights!" He 
finally reached the entrance to Central Park at 110th Street. 
As they drove through the Park, she settled back and sighed. 
"Well, we're going to make it alive, I guess," she said. "Yeah," 
said Tommy, tightly. "For heaven's sake, relax a little," she told 
him. "I'm all right," said Tommy, with an effort at sharpness 
that failed. He wasn't all right. 

It was at Sixth Avenue and Forty-seventh Street that doom 
shot out in front of his car. The doom of an angular woman 
of sixty, the doom of Tommy and Betty. It happened in a flash. 
The woman had reached the line of "L" pillars nearer the east 
curb and was hovering there uncertainly, waiting to cross to the 
west curb. A taxi going north whisked by her and she saw that 
no other car was close behind it. She darted into the path of 
Tommy's car, coming the other way. He had a quick, hot sense 
of horror, buildings and people writhed around him, the brakes 
of cars screamed. Then all the noises of the city stopped. Every- 
thing stopped. "Nice piece of drivin', mister," a voice was say- 
ing, and Tommy looked up at a policeman standing beside 
the door of his car. The policeman walked toward the back 
of the car, and Tommy opened the door and leaned out and 
followed him with his eyes. A man was supporting the angular 
old woman. She was grinning idiotically. "I guess she's all right," 
the man told the policeman. "I seen it. He didn't hit her. He 
just grazed her." "You're lucky, lady," said the policeman. 
"You can thank your stars that fella can drive like that. You 
wanta stay on the sidewalk when you see that red light. This 
street ain't no playgrounds." Cars began to sound their klaxons 
and a streetcar bell clanged. The cop motioned to Tommy to 
back up. Tommy saw then, for the first time, that he had 
whirled his car sharply to the right and had come to a stop only 
a few inches from an "L" pillar. "We just barely grazed her," 
said Betty. "The crazy fool." Tommy started to back up. "Take 
the emergency brake off," said Betty. Tommy frowned and 
let the brake forward. He backed up and straightened out and 
went on. "Close call, buddy," said a grinning taxi-driver, pass- 
ing him. 

"I guess I rate a drink," said Tommy, as they went into the 
lobby of their hotel. He had turned the car over to the doorman 
with a proud sigh. Something heavy had dropped away from 
him. "I guess we both rate a drink," said Betty. They sat down 
in big chairs in a corner and ordered Scotch and soda. Tommy 
stretched his legs languidly. "Well," he said, "nobody got killed." 
"No, thank God," said Betty. "But somebody would have if I 
hadn't jerked on the hand brake. You never think of the hand 
brake. You'd have hit that pillar sure, and killed both of us." 
Tommy looked at her coldly. "Oh, yeah?" he said. She raised her 
eyebrows in surprise and indignation at his tone; the match she 
was about to hold to her cigarette went out. "What's the matter 
with you?" she asked. The waiter brought their drinks, put 
them down, and went away. "Nothing is the matter with me," 
said Tommy. "I'm fine." She stared at her husband over the 
cigarette and, striking another match, still stared. He stared 
back at her. He tossed off his Scotch with a new, quick gesture, 
set the glass down, got up, and lounged over to the desk. "We'll 
want two single rooms tonight, Mr. Brent," he said to the man 
at the desk. Mr. Brent looked over his glasses in some surprise 
as Tommy signed the register and then walked jauntily out 
the revolving doors into the street, whistling. 

The Man on the Train 

I instantly felt as if I had stumbled into a wrong apartment 
in which someone was dressing. And yet I had merely glanced 
across the aisle of a train at a man I had never seen before, who 
looked back at me. I had the quick, unreasonable feeling that 
there must be something I could do for him. It was almost as if 
he had spoken. And yet I met his gaze for only a moment or 
two and then we both turned away. It happened a long time 
ago—four or five years—and it is as meaningless to my life as 
an old forgotten telephone number; but there it is, as sharp as 
any memory I have of a friend. It comes up before me, clear, 
irrelevant, and uncalled for, at unexpected hours. 

I had never seen the man before and I would not recognize 
him if I saw him again. I couldn't tell you the color of the suit 
he wore, or how large he was, or even whether he had a hat on. 
All that is gone, like the roads and rains and houses that whisk 
past you when you are riding on a train; the man as a person is 
as lost to me as the lonely figures that wave at you from fields 
when your train goes by. But I remember his eyes as well as I 
remember anything. 

There is something lugubrious about the expression of a man 
with a toothache. I think I could always pick out such a sufferer 
instantly: a man with a toothache looks, crazily enough, as if he 
were trying not to laugh. But this was not a look of physical pain. 
I felt, for some odd reason, as if the cause for it were on the 
tip of my mind; as if, by some little extra effort, I could divine 
the dark experience, whatever it was. 

I remember it was a fine afternoon in April or May. I had 
walked to the Grand Central and bought some brightly covered 
magazines, and I had slumped down comfortably in a rear 
coach, and a dozen women without faces came into the coach, 
and a dozen men who were merely suits of clothes. I was only 
vaguely conscious of them, as movement and murmuring; 
but I became acutely aware of him. He had made no sign of 
any kind, I had not yet seen him, but I was aware of him as 
one becomes aware on entering a room that one's name has 
just been spoken there. 

I looked up finally, under a kind of compulsion, and saw 
him. He was not looking at me. He was sitting tensely on the 
edge of the seat across the aisle, one hand lying limply on his 
knee, the other clutching tightly the back of the seat in front 
of him. The train hadn't yet begun to move out of the darkness 
and closeness of the Grand Central cavern. I had the feeling 
that the man wanted to jump up and get off the train, run off; 
but he just sat there, one hand clutching the seat-back, the other 
lying limply on his knee. He turned his head and looked at me. 
I didn't look at him again all during the ride. 

The people on the coach thinned out at every stop, moving 
heavily, without energy, through the aisle; seeming sodden and 
damp although it was a bright dry afternoon. One man sitting 
in front of me, with his head lolling back, snored raspingly. 
I tried to read, but couldn't. I was too conscious of the man across 
the aisle, still sitting, I was certain, as he had been before the 
train started—as if he were about to get up and protest against 
something, some incredible thing that was about to come to 
pass. But he didn't get up; I don't believe he ever relaxed, or 
made any movement at all, except when the conductor stopped 
to take up his ticket. I thought the conductor spoke to him, a 
sentence or two, but I didn't hear the man answer. The con- 
ductor went slowly on. 

It was a bright sunny trip and I became drowsy after South 
Norwalk, but I couldn't sleep; the man stuck too keenly in my 
consciousness. I don't know just where he got off, but after a 
time I felt that he was no longer there. The tension and uncom- 
fortableness went out of me. I had closed my eyes, but I opened 
them and began to leaf through a magazine. When I glanced 
furtively across the aisle, I saw that he had gone. There was 
only the snoring man, deeper in dream now, and a woman's hat 
peeking over the back of a seat far in front of me. I began to 
feel a little foolish about my awareness of the man who had 
gone. I had probably exaggerated the whole thing: made catas- 
trophe out of predicament. 

The train whistled for my station. I think I would have dis- 
missed the man from my mind if the conductor had not come 
back through the coach, saying something in a disinterested 
drone about not forgetting your parcels. I was standing up, gath- 
ering my magazines together, trying to decide which ones to 
leave, when he stopped beside me. He was one of those gray- 
haired, placid conductors who seem beyond excitement, im- 
pervious to concern of any kind. I don't know why he felt im- 
pelled to speak to me, but apparently he did. It is a little 
startling when a conductor begins talking to you about some- 
thing unconnected with tickets, or towns, or time. "Ja notice 
that fella was sittin' opposite you?" he asked me. He indicated 
the seat the man had sat in. "Poor fella just lost his little girl," 
he said. 

The Greatest Man in the World 

Looking back on it now, from the vantage point of 1940, one 
can only marvel that it hadn't happened long before it did. The 
United States of America had been, ever since Kitty Hawk, 
blindly constructing the elaborate petard by which, sooner or 
later, it must be hoist. It was inevitable that some day there 
would come roaring out of the skies a national hero of insuffi- 
cient intelligence, background, and character successfully to 
endure the mounting orgies of glory prepared for aviators who 
stayed up a long time or flew a great distance. Both Lindbergh 
and Byrd, fortunately for national decorum and international 
amity, had been gentlemen; so had our other famous aviators. 
They wore their laurels gracefully, withstood the awful weather 
of publicity, married excellent women, usually of fine family, 
and quietly retired to private life and the enjoyment of their 
varying fortunes. No untoward incidents, on a worldwide 
scale, marred the perfection of their conduct on the perilous 
heights of fame. The exception to the rule was, however, bound 
to occur and it did, in July, 1937, when Jack ("Pal") Smurch, 
erstwhile mechanic's helper in a small garage in Westfield, Iowa, 
flew a second-hand, single-motored Bresthaven Dragon-Fly III 
monoplane all the way around the world, without stopping. 

Never before in the history of aviation had such a flight as 
Smurch's ever been dreamed of. No one had even taken seri- 
ously the weird floating auxiliary gas tanks, invention of the 
mad New Hampshire professor of astronomy, Dr. Charles 
Lewis Gresham, upon which Smurch placed full reliance. When 
the garage worker, a slightly built, surly, unprepossessing young 
man of twenty-two, appeared at Roosevelt Field early in July, 
1937, slowly chewing a great quid of scrap tobacco, and an- 
nounced "Nobody ain't seen no flyin' yet," the newspapers 
touched briefly and satirically upon his projected twenty-five- 
thousand-mile flight. Aeronautical and automotive experts dis- 
missed the idea curtly, implying that it was a hoax, a publicity 
stunt. The rusty, battered, second-hand plane wouldn't go. The 
Gresham auxiliary tanks wouldn't work. It was simply a cheap 

Smurch, however, after calling on a girl in Brooklyn who 
worked in the flap-folding department of a large paper-box fac- 
tory, a girl whom he later described as his "sweet patootie," 
climbed nonchalantly into his ridiculous plane at dawn of the 
memorable seventh of July, 1937, spit a curve of tobacco juice 
into the still air, and took off, carrying with him only a gallon 
of bootleg gin and six pounds of salami. 

When the garage boy thundered out over the ocean the papers 
were forced to record, in all seriousness, that a mad, unknown 
young man—his name was variously misspelled—had actually 
set out upon a preposterous attempt to span the world in a 
rickety, one-engined contraption, trusting to the long-distance 
refuelling device of a crazy schoolmaster. When, nine days later, 
without having stopped once, the tiny plane appeared above San 
Francisco Bay, headed for New York, spluttering and choking, 
to be sure, but still magnificently and miraculously aloft, the 
headlines, which long since had crowded everything else off the 
front page—even the shooting of the Governor of Illinois by 
the Vileti gang—swelled to unprecedented size, and the news 
stories began to run to twenty-five and thirty columns. It was 
noticeable, however, that the accounts of the epoch-making 
flight touched rather lightly upon the aviator himself. This was 
not because facts about the hero as a man were too meagre, but 
because they were too complete. 

Reporters, who had been rushed out to Iowa when Smurch's 
plane was first sighted over the little French coast town of 
Serly-le-Mer, to dig up the story of the great man's life, had 
promptly discovered that the story of his life could not be 
printed. His mother, a sullen short-order cook in a shack res- 
taurant on the edge of a tourists' camping ground near West- 
field, met all inquiries as to her son with an angry "Ah, the 
hell with him; I hope he drowns." His father appeared to be 
in jail somewhere for stealing spotlights and lap-robes from 
tourists' automobiles; his young brother, a weak-minded lad, 
had but recently escaped from the Preston, Iowa, Reformatory 
and was already wanted in several Western towns for the theft 
of money-order blanks from post offices. These alarming dis- 
coveries were still piling up at the very time that Pal Smurch, 
the greatest hero of the twentieth century, blear-eyed, dead for 
sleep, half-starved, was piloting his crazy junk-heap high above 
the region in which the lamentable story of his private life was 
being unearthed, headed for New York and a greater glory 
than any man of his time had ever known. 

The necessity for printing some account in the papers of the 
young man's career and personality had led to a remarkable 
predicament. It was of course impossible to reveal the facts, for 
a tremendous popular feeling in favor of the young hero had 
sprung up, like a grass fire, when he was halfway across Europe 
on his flight around the globe. He was, therefore, described as 
a modest chap, taciturn, blond, popular with his friends, popular 
with girls. The only available snapshot of Smurch, taken at the 
wheel of a phony automobile in a cheap photo studio at an 
amusement park, was touched up so that the little vulgarian 
looked quite handsome. His twisted leer was smoothed into a 
pleasant smile. The truth was, in this way, kept from the youth's 
ecstatic compatriots; they did not dream that the Smurch family 
was despised and feared by its neighbors in the obscure Iowa 
town, nor that the hero himself, because of numerous unsavory 
exploits, had come to be regarded in Westfield as a nuisance 
and a menace. He had, the reporters discovered, once knifed 
the principal of his high school—not mortally, to be sure, but 
he had knifed him; and on another occasion, surprised in the 
act of stealing an altarcloth from a church, he had bashed the 
sacristan over the head with a pot of Easter lilies; for each of 
these offences he had served a sentence in the reformatory. 

Inwardly, the authorities, both in New York and in Wash- 
ington, prayed that an understanding Providence might, how- 
ever awful such a thing seemed, bring disaster to the rusty, bat- 
tered plane and its illustrious pilot, whose unheard-of flight 
had aroused the civilized world to hosannas of hysterical praise. 
The authorities were convinced that the character of the re- 
nowned aviator was such that the limelight of adulation was 
bound to reveal him, to all the world, as a congenital hooligan 
mentally and morally unequipped to cope with his own pro- 
digious fame. "I trust," said the Secretary of State, at one of 
many secret Cabinet meetings called to consider the national 
dilemma, "I trust that his mother's prayer will be answered," 
by which he referred to Mrs. Emma Smurch's wish that her 
son might be drowned. It was, however, too late for that - 
Smurch had leaped the Atlantic and then the Pacific as if they 
were millponds. At three minutes after two o'clock on the after- 
noon of July 17, 1937, the garage boy brought his idiotic plane 
into Roosevelt Field for a perfect three-point landing. 

It had, of course, been out of the question to arrange a modest 
little reception for the greatest flier in the history of the world. 
He was received at Roosevelt Field with such elaborate and pre- 
tentious ceremonies as rocked the world. Fortunately, however, 
the worn and spent hero promptly swooned, had to be removed 
bodily from his plane, and was spirited from the field without 
having opened his mouth once. Thus he did not jeopardize the 
dignity of this first reception, a reception illumined by the pres- 
ence of the Secretaries of War and the Navy, Mayor Michael J. 
Moriarity of New York, the Premier of Canada, Governors Fan- 
niman, Groves, McFeely, and Critchfield, and a brilliant array 
of European diplomats. Smurch did not, in fact, come to in time 
to take part in the gigantic hullabaloo arranged at City Hall for 
the next day. He was rushed to a secluded nursing home and 
confined in bed. It was nine days before he was able to get up, 
or to be more exact, before he was permitted to get up. Mean- 
while the greatest minds in the country, in solemn assembly, 
had arranged a secret conference of city, state, and government 
officials, which Smurch was to attend for the purpose of being 
instructed in the ethics and behavior of heroism. 

On the day that the little mechanic was finally allowed to get 
up and dress and, for the first time in two weeks, took a great 
chew of tobacco, he was permitted to receive the newspapermen 
- this by way of testing him out. Smurch did not wait for ques- 
tions. "Youse guys," he said—and the Times man winced— 
"youse guys can tell the cock-eyed world dat I put it over on 
Lindbergh, see ? Yeh—an' made an ass o' them two frogs." The 
"two frogs" was a reference to a pair of gallant French fliers who, 
in attempting a flight only halfway round the world, had, two 
weeks before, unhappily been lost at sea. The Times man was 
bold enough, at this point, to sketch out for Smurch the accepted 
formula for interviews in cases of this kind; he explained that 
there should be no arrogant statements belittling the achieve- 
ments of other heroes, particularly heroes of foreign nations. 
"Ah, the hell with that," said Smurch. "I did it, see? I did it, 
an' I'm talkin' about it." And he did talk about it. 

None of this extraordinary interview was, of course, printed. 
On the contrary, the newspapers, already under the disciplined 
direction of a secret directorate created for the occasion and 
composed of statesmen and editors, gave out to a panting and 
restless world that "Jacky," as he had been arbitrarily nick- 
named, would consent to say only that he was very happy and 
that anyone could have done what he did. "My achievement 
has been, I fear, slightly exaggerated," the Times man's article 
had him protest, with a modest smile. These newspaper stories 
were kept from the hero, a restriction which did not serve to 
abate the rising malevolence of his temper. The situation was, 
indeed, extremely grave, for Pal Smurch was, as he kept insist- 
ing, "rarin' to go." He could not much longer be kept from a 
nation clamorous to lionize him. It was the most desperate crisis 
the United States of America had faced since the sinking of the 

On the afternoon of the twenty-seventh of July, Smurch was 
spirited away to a conference-room in which were gathered 
mayors, governors, government officials, behaviorist psycholo- 
gists, and editors. He gave them each a limp, moist paw and a 
brief unlovely grin. "Hah ya?" he said. When Smurch was 
seated, the Mayor of New York arose and, with obvious pes- 
simism, attempted to explain what he must say and how he 
must act when presented to the world, ending his talk with a 
high tribute to the hero's courage and integrity. The Mayor 
was followed by Governor Fanniman of New York, who, after 
a touching declaration of faith, introduced Cameron Spottis- 
wood, Second Secretary of the American Embassy in Paris, the 
gentleman selected to coach Smurch in the amenities of public 
ceremonies. Sitting in a chair, with a soiled yellow tie in his 
hand and his shirt open at the throat, unshaved, smoking a 
rolled cigarette, Jack Smurch listened with a leer on his lips. 
"I get ya, I get ya," he cut in, nastily. "Ya want me to ack like 
a softy, huh ? Ya want me to ack like that baby-face 

Lindbergh, huh? Well, nuts to that, see?" Everyone took in his 
breath sharply; it was a sigh and a hiss. "Mr. Lindbergh," 
began a United States Senator, purple with rage, "and Mr. 
Byrd—" Smurch, who was paring his nails with a jackknife, 
cut in again. "Byrd!" he exclaimed. "Aw fa God's sake, dot 
big—" Somebody shut off his blasphemies with a sharp word. 
A newcomer had entered the room. Everyone stood up, except 
Smurch, who, still busy with his nails, did not even glance up. 
"Mr. Smurch," said someone, sternly, "the President of the 
United States!" It had been thought that the presence of the 
Chief Executive might have a chastening effect upon the young 
hero, and the former had been, thanks to the remarkable 
cooperation of the press, secretly brought to the obscure 

A great, painful silence fell. Smurch looked up, waved a 
hand at the President. "How ya comin' ?" he asked, and began 
rolling a fresh cigarette. The silence deepened. Someone 
coughed in a strained way. "Geez, it's hot, ain't it?" said 
Smurch. He loosened two more shirt buttons, revealing a hairy 
chest and the tattooed word "Sadie" enclosed in a stencilled 
heart. The great and important men in the room, faced by the 
most serious crisis in recent American history, exchanged wor- 
ried frowns. Nobody seemed to know how to proceed. "Come 
awn, come awn," said Smurch. "Let's get the hell out of here! 
When do I start cuttin' in on de parties, huh ? And what's they 
goin' to be in it?" He rubbed a thumb and forefinger together 
meaningly. "Money!" exclaimed a state senator, shocked, pale. 
"Yeh, money," said Pal, flipping his cigarette out of a window. 

"An' big money." He began rolling a fresh cigarette. "Big 
money," he repeated, frowning over the rice paper. He tilted 
back in his chair, and leered at each gentleman, separately, the 
leer of an animal that knows its power, the leer of a leopard 
loose in a bird-and-dog shop. "Aw fa God's sake, let's get some 
place where it's cooler," he said. "I been cooped up plenty for 
three weeks!" 

Smurch stood up and walked over to an open window, 
where he stood staring down into the street, nine floors below. 
The faint shouting of newsboys floated up to him. He made 
out his name. "Hot dog!" he cried, grinning, ecstatic. He 
leaned out over the sill. "You tell 'em, babies!" he shouted 
down. "Hot diggity dog!" In the tense little knot of men 
standing behind him, a quick, mad impulse flared up. An un- 
spoken word of appeal, of command, seemed to ring through 
the room. Yet it was deadly silent. Charles K. L. Brand, secre- 
tary to the Mayor of New York City, happened to be standing 
nearest Smurch; he looked inquiringly at the President of the 
United States. The President, pale, grim, nodded shortly. 
Brand, a tall, powerfully built man, once a tackle at Rutgers, 
stepped forward, seized the greatest man in the world by his 
left shoulder and the seat of his pants, and pushed him out 
the window. 

"My God, he's fallen out the window!" cried a quick-witted 

"Get me out of here!" cried the President. Several men 
sprang to his side and he was hurriedly escorted out of a door 
toward a side-entrance of the building. The editor of the Asso- 
ciated Press took charge, being used to such things. Crisply he 
ordered certain men to leave, others to stay; quickly he out- 
lined a story which all the papers were to agree on, sent two 
men to the street to handle that end of the tragedy, com- 
manded a Senator to sob and two Congressmen to go to pieces 
nervously. In a word, he skillfully set the stage for the gigantic 
task that was to follow, the task of breaking to a grief-stricken 
world the sad story of the untimely, accidental death of its 
most illustrious and spectacular figure. 

The funeral was, as you know, the most elaborate, the finest, 
the solemnest, and the saddest ever held in the United States of 
America. The monument in Arlington Cemetery, with its clean 
white shaft of marble and the simple device of a tiny plane 
carved on its base, is a place for pilgrims, in deep reverence, to 
visit. The nations of the world paid lofty tributes to little Jacky 
Smurch, America's greatest hero. At a given hour there were 
two minutes of silence throughout the nation. Even the inhab- 
itants of the small, bewildered town of Westfield, Iowa, ob- 
served this touching ceremony; agents of the Department of 
Justice saw to that. One of them was especially assigned to 
stand grimly in the doorway of a little shack restaurant on the 
edge of the tourists' camping ground just outside the town. 
There, under his stern scrutiny, Mrs. Emma Smurch bowed 
her head above two hamburger steaks sizzling on her grill - 
bowed her head and turned away, so that the Secret Service 
man could not see the twisted, strangely familiar, leer on her 

One Is a Wanderer 

The walk up Fifth Avenue through the slush of the sidewalks 
and the dankness of the air had tired him. The dark was com- 
ing quickly down, the dark of a February Sunday evening, 
and that vaguely perturbed him. He didn't want to go "home," 
though, and get out of it. It would be gloomy and close in his 
hotel room, and his soiled shirts would be piled on the floor of 
the closet where he had been flinging them for weeks, where 
he had been flinging them for months, and his papers would be 
disarranged on the tops of the tables and on the desk, and his 
pipes would be lying around, the pipes he had smoked deter- 
minedly for a while only to give them up, as he always did, to 
go back to cigarettes. He turned into the street leading to his 
hotel, walking slowly, trying to decide what to do with the 
night. He had had too many nights alone. Once he had enjoyed 
being alone. Now it was hard to be alone. He couldn't read any 
more, or write, at night. Books he tossed aside after nervously 
flipping through them; the writing he tried to do turned into 
spirals and circles and squares and empty faces. 

I'll just stop in, he thought, and see if there are any messages; 
I'll see if there have been any phone calls. He hadn't been back 
to the hotel, after all, for—let's see—for almost five hours ; just 
wandering around. There might be some messages. I'll just 
stop in, he thought, and see; and maybe I'll have one brandy. 
I don't want to sit there in the lobby again and drink brandy; 
I don't want to do that. 

He didn't go through the revolving doors of the hotel, 
though. He went on past the hotel and over to Broadway. A 
man asked him for some money. A shabbily dressed woman 
walked by, muttering. She had what he called the New York 
Mouth, a grim, set mouth, a strained, querulous mouth, a 
mouth that told of suffering and discontent. He looked in the 
window of a cane-and-umbrella shop and in the window of a 
cheap restaurant, a window holding artificial pie and cake, a 
cup of cold coffee, a plate of artificial vegetables. He got into 
the shoving and pushing and halting and slow flowing of 
Broadway. A big cop with a red face was striking his hands 
together and kidding with a couple of girls whom he had kept 
from crossing the street against a red light. A thin man in a 
thin overcoat watched them out of thin, emotionless eyes. 

It was a momentary diversion to stand in front of the book 
counter in the drugstore at Forty-fifth Street and Broadway 
and look at the books, cheap editions of ancient favorites, 
movie editions of fairly recent best-sellers. He picked up some 
of the books and opened them and put them down again, but 
there was nothing he wanted to read. He walked over to the 
soda counter and sat down and asked for hot chocolate. It 
warmed him up a little and he thought about going to the 
movie at the Paramount; it was a movie with action and guns 
and airplanes, and Myrna Loy, the kind of movie that didn't 
bother you. He walked down to the theatre and stood there a 
minute, but he didn't buy a ticket. After all, he had been to 
one movie that day. He thought about going to the office. It 
would be quiet there, nobody would be there; maybe he could 
get some work done; maybe he could answer some of the 
letters he had been putting off for so long. 

It was too gloomy, it was too lonely. He looked around the 
office for a while, sat down at his typewriter, tapped out the 
alphabet on a sheet of paper, took a paper-clip, straightened it, 
cleaned the "e" and the "o" on the typewriter, and put the 
cover over it. He never remembered to put the cover over the 
typewriter when he left in the evening. I never, as a matter of 
fact, remember anything, he thought. It is because I keep try- 
ing not to; I keep trying not to remember anything. It is an 
empty and cowardly thing, not to remember. It might lead 
you anywhere; no, it might stop you, it might stop you from 
getting anywhere. Out of remembrance comes everything; out 
of remembrance comes a great deal, anyway. You can't do 
anything if you don't let yourself remember things. He began 
to whisde a song because he found himself about to remember 
things, and he knew what things they would be, things that 
would bring a grimace to his mouth and to his eyes, disturbing 
fragments of old sentences, old scenes and gestures, hours, and 
rooms, and tones of voice, and the sound of a voice crying. All 
voices cry differently; there are no two voices in the whole 
world that cry alike; they're like footsteps and fingerprints and 
the faces of friends . . . 

He became conscious of the song he was whistling. He got 
up from the chair in front of his covered typewriter, turned out 
the light, and walked out of the room to the elevator, and there 
he began to sing the last part of the song, waiting for the 
elevator. "Make my bed and light the light, for I'll be home 
late tonight, blackbird, bye bye." He walked over to his hotel 
through the slush and the damp gloom and sat down in a chair 
in the lobby, without taking off his overcoat. He didn't want to 
sit there long. 

"Good evening, sir," said the waiter who looked after the 
guests in the lobby. "How are you?" 

"I'm fine, thank you," he said. "I'm fine. I'll have a brandy, 
with water on the side." 

He had several brandies. Nobody came into the lobby that he 
knew. People were gone to all kinds of places Sunday night. 
He hadn't looked at his letter box back of the clerk's desk 
when he came in, to see if there were any messages there. That 
was a kind of game he played, or something. He never looked 
for messages until after he had had a brandy. He'd look now 
after he had another brandy. He had another brandy and 
looked. "Nothing," said the clerk at the desk, looking too. 

He went back to his chair in the lobby and began to think 
about calling up people. He thought of the Graysons. He saw 
the Graysons, not as they would be, sitting in their apartment, 
close together and warmly, but as he and Lydia had seen them 
in another place and another year. The four had shared a bright 
vacation once. He remembered various attitudes and angles 
and lights and colors of that vacation. There is something about 
four people, two couples, that like each other and get along; 
that have a swell time; that grow in intimacy and understand- 
ing. One's life is made up of twos, and of fours. The Graysons 
understood the nice little arrangements of living, the twos and 
fours. Two is company, four is a party, three is a crowd. One 
is a wanderer. 

No, not the Graysons. Somebody would be there on Sunday 
night, some couple, some two; somebody he knew, somebody 
they had known. That is the way life is arranged. One ar- 
ranges one's life—no, two arrange their life—in terms of twos, 
and fours, and sixes. Marriage does not make two people one, 
it makes two people two. It's sweeter that way, and simpler. 
All this, he thought, summoning the waiter, is probably very 
silly and sentimental. I must look out that I don't get to that 
state of tipsiness where all silly and lugubrious things seem 
brilliant divinations of mine, sound and original ideas and the- 
ories. What I must remember is that such things are sentimen- 
tal and tiresome and grow out of not working enough and out 
of too much brandy. That's what I must remember. It is no 
good remembering that it takes four to make a party, two to 
make a house. 

People living alone, after all, have made a great many things. 
Let's see, what have people living alone made? Not love, of 
course, but a great many other things: money, for example, 
and black marks on white paper. "Make this one a double 
brandy," he told the waiter. Let's see, who that I \now has 
made something alone, who that I know of has made some- 
thing alone? Robert Browning? No, not Robert Browning. 
Odd, that Robert Browning would be the first person he 
thought of. "And had you only heard me play one tune, or 
viewed me from a window, not so soon with you would such 
things fade as with the rest." He had written that line of 
Browning's in a book once for Lydia, or Lydia had written it 
in a book for him; or they had both written it in a book for 
each other. "Not so soon with you would such things fade as 
with the rest." Maybe he didn't have it exactly right; it was 
hard to remember now, after so long a time. It didn't matter. 
"Not so soon with you would such things fade as with the 
rest." The fact is that all things do fade; with twos, and with 
fours ; all bright things, all attitudes and angles and lights and 
colors, all growing in intimacy and understanding. 

I think maybe I'll call the Bradleys, he thought, getting up 
out of his chair. And don't, he said to himself, standing still a 
moment, don't tell me you're not cockeyed now, because you 
are cockeyed now, just as you said you wouldn't be when you 
got up this morning and had orange juice and coffee and deter- 
mined to get some work done, a whole lot of work done; just 
as you said you wouldn't be but you knew you would be, all 
right. You knew you would be, all right. 

The Bradleys, he thought, as he walked slowly around the 
lobby, avoiding the phone booths, glancing at the headlines of 
the papers on the newsstand, the Bradleys have that four- 
square thing, that two-square thing—that two-square thing, 
God damn them! Somebody described it once in a short story 
that he had read: an intimacy that you could feel, that you 
could almost take hold of, when you went into such a house, 
when you went into where such people were, a warming thing, 
a nice thing to be in, like being in warm sea water; a little 
embarrassing, too, yes, damned embarrassing, too. He would 
only take a damp blanket into that warmth. That's what I'd 
take into that warmth, he told himself, a damp blanket. They 
know it, too. Here comes old Kirk again with his damp 
blanket. It isn't because I'm so damned unhappy—I'm not so 
damned unhappy—it's because they're so damned happy, damn 
them. Why don't they know that? Why don't they do some- 
thing about it ? What right have they got to flaunt it at me, for 
God's sake? . . . Look here now, he told himself, you're get- 
ting too cockeyed now; you're getting into one of those states, 
you're getting into one of those states that Marianne keeps 
telling you about, one of those states when people don't like to 
have you around . . . Marianne, he thought. He went back to 
his chair, ordered another brandy, and thought about Marianne. 

She doesn't know how I start my days, he thought, she only 
knows how I end them. She doesn't even know how I started 
my life. She only knows me when night gets me. If I could 
only be the person she wants me to be, why, then I would be 
fine, I would be the person she wants me to be. Like ordering 
a new dress from a shop, a new dress that nobody ever wore, a 
new dress that nobody's ever going to wear but you. I wouldn't 
get mad suddenly, about nothing. I wouldn't walk out of places 
suddenly, about nothing. I wouldn't snarl at nice people. About 
what she says is nothing. I wouldn't be "unbearable." Her 
word, "unbearable." A female word, female as a cat. Well, she's 
right, to. I am unbearable. "George," he said to the waiter, "I 
am unbearable, did you know that?" "No, sir, I did not, sir," 
said the waiter. "I would not call you unbearable, Mr. Kirk." 
"Well, you don't know, George," he said. "It just happens that 
I am unbearable. It just happened that way. It's a long story." 
"Yes, sir," said the waiter. 

I could call up the Mortons, he thought. They'll have twos 
and fours there, too, but they're not so damned happy that 
they're unbearable. The Mortons are all right. Now look, the 
Mortons had said to him, if you and Marianne would only stop 
fighting and arguing and forever analyzing yourselves and for- 
ever analyzing everything, you'd be fine. You'd be fine if you 
got married and just shut up, just shut up and got married. 
That would be fine. Yes, sir, that would be fine. Everything 
would work out all right. You just shut up and get married, 
you just get married and shut up. Everybody knows that. It is 
practically the simplest thing in the world. . . . Well, it would 
be, too, if you were twenty-five maybe; it would be if you were 
twenty-five, and not forty. 

"George," he said, when the waiter walked over for his 
empty glass, "I will be forty-one next November." "But that's 
not old, sir, and that's a long way off," said George. "No, it 
isn't," he said. "It's almost here. So is forty-two and forty-three 
and fifty, and here I am trying to be—do you know what I'm 
trying to be, George? I'm trying to be happy." "We all want 
to be happy, sir," said George. "I would like to see you happy, 
sir." "Oh, you will," he said. "You will, George. There's a 
simple trick to it. You just shut up and get married. But you 
see, George, I am an analyzer. I am also a rememberer. I have 
a pocketful of old used years. You put all those things together 
and they sit in a lobby getting silly and old." "I'm very sorry, 
sir," said George. 

"And I'll have one more drink, George," he called after the 

He had one more drink. When he looked up at the clock in 
the lobby it was only 9 130. He went up to his room and, feeling 
sleepy, he lay down on his bed without turning out the over- 
head light. When he woke up it was 12:30 by his wristwatch. 
He got up and washed his face and brushed his teeth and put 
on a clean shirt and another suit and went back down into the 
lobby, without looking at the disarranged papers on the tables 
and on the desk. He went into the dining-room and had some 
soup and a lamb chop and a glass of milk. There was nobody 
there he knew. He began to realize that he had to see some- 
body he knew. He paid his check and went out and got into a 
cab and gave the driver an address on Fifty-third Street. 

There were several people in Dick and Joe's that he knew. 
There were Dick and Joe, for two—or, rather, for one, because 
he always thought of them as one; he could never tell them 
apart. There were Bill Vardon and Mary Wells. Bill Vardon 
and Mary Wells were a little drunk and gay. He didn't know 
them very well, but he could sit down with them. . . . 

It was after three o'clock when he left the place and got into 
a cab. "How are you tonight, Mr. Kirk?" asked the driver. The 
driver's name was Willie. "I'm fine tonight, Willie," he said. 
"You want to go on somewheres else?" asked Willie. "Not 
tonight, Willie," he said. "I'm going home." "Well," said Willie, 
"I guess you're right there, Mr. Kirk. I guess you're right about 
that. These places is all right for what they are—you know 
what I mean—it's O.K. to kick around in 'em for a while and 
maybe have a few drinks with your friends, but when you 
come right down to it, home is the best place there is. Now, 
you take me, I'm hackin' for ten years, mosdy up around here 
- because why? Because all these places know me; you know 
that, Mr. Kirk. I can get into 'em you might say the same way 
you do, Mr. Kirk—I have me a couple drinks in Dick and 
Joe's maybe or in Tony's or anywheres else I want to go into - 
hell, I've had drinks in 'em with you, Mr. Kirk—like on 
Christmas night, remember ? But I got a home over in Brook- 
lyn and a wife and a couple kids and, boy, I'm tellin' you that's 
the best place, you know what I mean?" 

"You're right, Willie," he said. "You're absolutely right, 

"You're darn tootin' I am," said Willie. "These joints is all 
right when a man wants a couple drinks or maybe even get a 
litde tight with his friends, that's O.K. with me " 

"Getting tight with friends is O.K. with me, too," he said to 

"But when a man gets fed up on that kind of stuff, a man 
wants to go home. Am I right, Mr. Kirk?" 

"You're absolutely right, Willie," he said. "A man wants to 
go home." 

"Well, here we are, Mr. Kirk. Home it is." 

He got out of the cab and gave the driver a dollar and told 
him to keep the change and went into the lobby of the hotel. 
The night clerk gave him his key and then put two fingers 
into the recesses of the letter box. "Nothing," said the night 

When he got to his room, he lay down on the bed a while 
and smoked a cigarette. He found himself feeling drowsy and 
he got up. He began to take his clothes off, feeling drowsily 
contented, mistily contented. He began to sing, not loudly, 
because the man in 711 would complain. The man in 711 was a 
gray-haired man, living alone ... an analyzer ... a remem- 
berer . . . 

"Make my bed and light the light, for I'll be home late to- 
night . . ." 

A Box to Hide In 

I waited till the large woman with the awful hat took up her 
sack of groceries and went out, peering at the tomatoes and 
lettuce on her way. The clerk asked me what mine was. 

"Have you got a box," I asked, "a large box ? I want a box to 
hide in." 

"You want a box?" he asked. 

"I want a box to hide in," I said. 

"Whatta you mean?" he said. "You mean a big box?" 

I said I meant a big box, big enough to hold me. 

"I haven't got any boxes," he said. "Only cartons that cans 
come in." 

I tried several other groceries and none of them had a box 
big enough for me to hide in. There was nothing for it but to 
face life out. I didn't feel strong, and I'd had this overpowering 
desire to hide in a box for a long time. 

"Whatta you mean you want to hide in this box?" one 
grocer asked me. 

"It's a form of escape," I told him, "hiding in a box. It cir- 
cumscribes your worries and the range of your anguish. You 
don't see people, either." 

"How in the hell do you eat when you're in this box?" asked 
the grocer. "How in the hell do you get anything to eat?" I 
said I had never been in a box and didn't know, but that that 
would take care of itself. 

"Well," he said, finally, "I haven't got any boxes, only some 
pasteboard cartons that cans come in." 

It was the same every place. I gave up when it got dark and 
the groceries closed, and hid in my room again. I turned out 
the light and lay on the bed. You feel better when it gets dark. 
I could have hid in a closet, I suppose, but people are always 
opening doors. Somebody would find you in a closet. They 
would be startled and you'd have to tell them why you were in 
the closet. Nobody pays any attention to a big box lying on the 
floor. You could stay in it for days and nobody 'd think to look 
in it, not even the cleaning-woman. 

My cleaning-woman came the next morning and woke me 
up. I was still feeling bad. I asked her if she knew where I 
could get a large box. 

"How big a box you want?" she asked. 

"I want a box big enough for me to get inside of," I said. 
She looked at me with big, dim eyes. There's something wrong 
with her glands. She's awful but she has a big heart, which 
makes it worse. She's unbearable, her husband is sick and her 
children are sick and she is sick too. I got to thinking how pleas- 
ant it would be if I were in a box now, and didn't have to see 
her. I would be in a box right there in the room and she wouldn't 
know. I wondered if you have a desire to bark or laugh when 
someone who doesn't know walks by the box you are in. Maybe 
she would have a spell with her heart, if I did that, and would 
die right there. The officers and the elevatorman and Mr. 
Gramadge would find us. "Funny doggone thing happened at 
the building last night," the doorman would say to his wife. 
"I let in this woman to clean up io-F and she never come out, 
see ? She's never there more'n an hour, but she never come out, 
see ? So when it got to be time for me to go off duty, why I 
says to Crennick, who was on the elevator, I says what the hell 
you suppose has happened to that woman cleans io-F? He 
says he didn't know; he says he never seen her after he took 
her up. So I spoke to Mr. Gramadge about it. 'I'm sorry to 
bother you, Mr. Gramadge,' I says, 'but there's something funny 
about that woman cleans 10-F.' So I told him. So he said we 
better have a look and we all three goes up and knocks on the 
door and rings the bell, see, and nobody answers so he said 
we'd have to walk in so Crennick opened the door and we 
walked in and here was this woman cleans the apartment dead 
as a herring on the floor and the gentleman that lives there was 
in a box." . . . 

The cleaning-woman kept looking at me. It was hard to 
realize she wasn't dead. "It's a form of escape," I murmured. 
"What say?" she asked, dully. 

"You don't know of any large packing boxes, do you?" I 

"No, I don't," she said. 

I haven't found one yet, but I still have this overpowering 
urge to hide in a box. Maybe it will go away, maybe I'll be all 
right. Maybe it will get worse. It's hard to say.