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Full text of "Tales of the jazz age"

Aurele 6. Roy 

2OO-I9 36th Avenue 

Bayside, Queens New York 



BY F. SCOTT FITZGERALD 



Novels 

THIS SIDE OP PARADISE 

THE BEAUTIFUL AND DAMNED 

Stories 

FLAPPERS AND PHILOSOPHERS 
TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 



CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS 




TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 



\\ 



TALES OF THE 
JAZZ AGE '/ 



\ BY 

F. SCOTT FITZGERALD 



NEW YORK 

CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS 
1922 



COPYRIGHT, 1922, BY 
CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS 

COPYRIGHT, 1920. BY THE VANITY FAIR PUB. CO., INC. 
COPYRIGHT, 1920. 3821, BY THE METROPOLITAN PUBLICATIONS, INC 

COPYRIGHT, i20, BY THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE 

COPYRIGHT. 1920. BY THE CURTIS PUBLISHING CO. 

COPYRIGHT, 1920. 1921. BY THE SMART SET CO. 

Printed in the United States of America 
Published September, 1922 




QUITE INAPPROPRIATELY 
TO MY MOTHER 



i 









\984 




A TABLE OF CONTENTS 

MY LAST FLAPPERS 

THE JELLY-BEAN Page 3 

This is a Southern story, with the scene laid in the small city 
of Tarleton, Georgia. I have a profound affection for Tarleton, 
but somehow whenever I write a story about it I receive letters 
from all over the South denouncing me in no uncertain terms. 
" The Jelly-Bean," published in "The Metropolitan," drew 
its full share of these admonitory notes. 

It was written under strange circumstances shortly after my 
first novel was published, and, moreover, it was the first story in 
which I had a collaborator. For, finding that I was unable to 
manage the crap-shooting episode, I turned it over to my wife, 
who, as a Southern girl, was presumably an expert on the tech- 
nique and terminology of that great sectional pastime. 

THE CAMEL'S BACK Page 27 

I suppose that of all the stories I have ever written this one 
cost me the least travail and perhaps gave me the most amuse- 
ment. As to the labor involved, it was written during one day 
in the city of New Orleans, with the express purpose of buying 
a platinum and diamond wrist watch which cost six hundred 
dollars. I began it at seven in the morning and finished it at 
two o'clock the same night. It was published in the "Saturday 
Evening Post" in 1920, and later included in the O. Henry 
Memorial Collection for the same year. I like it least of all 
the stories in this volume. 

My amusement was derived from the fact that the camel part 
of the story is literally true ; in fact, I have a standing engage- 
ment with the gentleman involved to attend . he next fancy-dress 
party to which we are mutually invited, attireJ as the latter part 
of the camel this as a sort of atonement for being his historian. 

vii 



viii A TABLE OF CONTENTS 

'MAYDAY Page6i 

This somewhat unpleasant tale, published as a novelette in 
the "Smart Set" in July, 1920, relates a series of events which 
took place in the spring of the previous year. Each of the three 
events made a great impression upon me. In life they were 
unrelated, except by the general hysteria of that spring which 
inaugurated the Age of Jazz, but in my story I have tried, un- 
successfully I fear, to weave them into a pattern a pattern 
which would give the effect of those months in New York as they 
appeared to at least one member of what was then the younger 
generation. 

PORCELAIN AND PINK Page 126 

"And do you write for any other magazines?" inquired the 
young lady. 

"Oh, yes," I assured her. "I've had some stories and plays 
in the 'Smart Set,' for instance " 

The young lady shivered. 

" The ' Smart Set '/"she exclaimed. " How can you ? Why, 
they publish stuff about girls in blue bathtubs, and silly things 
like that!" 

And I had the magnificent joy of telling her that she was re- 
ferring to "Porcelain and Pink," which had appeared ther*, 
several months before. 

FANTASIES 

THE DIAMOND AS BIG AS THE RITZ . Page 141 

These next stories are written in what, were I of imposing 
stature, I should call my "second manner." "The Diamond 
as Big as the Ritz," which appeared last summer in the "Smart 
Set," was designed utterly for my own amusement. I was in 
that familiar mood characterized by a perfect craving for luxury, 
and the story began as an attempt to feed that craving on im- 
ginary foods. 

One well-known critic has been pleased to like this extrava- 
ganza better than anything I have written. Personally I prefer 
" The Of Shore Pirate." But, to tamper slightly with Lincoln : 
If you like this sort of thing, this, possibly, is the sort of thing 
you'll like. 



A TABLE OF CONTENTS ix 

THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN 

BUTTON Page 192 

This story was inspired by a remark of Mark Twain's to the 
effect that it was a pity iliat the best part of life came at the 
beginning and the worst part at the end. By trying the ex- 
periment upon only one man in a perfectly normal world I 
have scarcely given his idea a fair trial. Several weeks after 
completing it, I discovered an almost identical plot in Samuel 
Butter's " Note-books." 

The story was published in "Collier's" last summer and 
provoked this startling letter from an anonymous admirer in 
Cincinnati : 

"Sir 

I have read the story Benjamin Button in Colliers and I 
wish to say that as a short story writer you would make a good 
lunatic I have seen many peices of cheese in my life but of all 
the peices of cheese I have ever seen you are the biggest peice. 
I hate to waste a peice of stationary on you but I will." 

TARQUIN OF CHEAPSIDE Page 225 

Written almost six years ago, this story is a product of under- 
graduate days at Princeton. Considerably revised, it was pub- 
lished in the l i Smart Set " in 1921. At the time of its conception 
I had but one idea to be a poet and the fact that I was in- 
terested in the ring of every phrase, that I dreaded the obvious 
in prose if not in plot, shows throughout. Probably the peculiar 
affection I feel for it depends more upon its age than upon any 
intrinsic merit. 

RUSSET WITCH! Page 234 

When this was written! had just completed the first draft of my 
second novel, and a natural reaction made me revel in a story 
wherein none of the characters need be taken seriously. And I'm 
afraid that I was somewhat carried away by the feeling that there 
was no ordered scheme to which I must conform. After due con- 
sideration, however, I have decided to let it stand as it is, although 
the reader may find himself somewhat puzzled at the time ele- 
ment. I had best say that however the years may have dealt with 
Merlin Grainger, I myself was thinking always in the present. 

It was published in the "Metropolitan" 



A TABLE OF CONTENTS 



UNCLASSIFIED MASTERPIECES 

THE LEES OF HAPPINESS Page 275 

Of this story I can say that it came to me in an irresistible 
form, crying to be written. It will be accused perhaps of being 
a mere piece of sentimentality, but, as I saw it, it was a great 
deal more. If, therefore, it lacks the ring of sincerity, or even 
of tragedy, the fault rests not with the theme but with my han- 
dling of it. 

It appeared in the "Chicago Tribune," and later obtained, 
I believe, the quadruple gold laurel leaf or some such encomium 
from one of the anthologists who at present swarm among us. 
The gentleman I refer to runs as a rule to stark melodramas 
with a volcano or the ghost of John Paul Jones in the role of 
Nemesis, melodramas carefully disguised by early paragraphs 
in Jamesian manner which hint dark and subtle complexities 
to follow. On this order : 

" The case of Shaw McPhee, curiously enough, had no bear- 
ing on the almost incredible attitude of Martin Sulo. This is 
parenthetical and, to at least three observers, whose names for 
the present I must conceal, it seems improbable, etc., etc., etc.," 
until the poor rat of fiction is at last forced out into the open 
and the melodrama begins. 



MR. ICKY Page 302 

This has the distinction of being the only magazine piece 
ever written in a New York hotel. The business was done in 
a bedroom in the Knickerbocker, and shortly afterward that 
memorable hostelry closed its doors forever. 

When a fitting period of mourning had elapsed it was pub- 
lished in the "Smart Set." 



JEMINA Page 311 

Written, like " Tarquin of Cheapside," while I was at Prince- 
ton, this sketch was published years later in "Vanity Fair." 
For its technique I must apologize to Mr. Stephen Leacock. 

I have laughed over it a great deal, especially when I first 
wrote it, but I can laugh over it no longer. Still, as other people 



A TABLE OF CONTENTS xi 

tell me it is amusing, I include it here. It seems to me worth 
preserving a few years at least until the ennui of changing 
fashions suppresses me, my books, and it together. 

With due apologies for this impossible Table of Contents, I 
tender these tales of the Jazz Age into the hands of those who 
read as they run and run as they read. 



MY LAST FLAPPERS 



THE JELLY-BEAN 

JIM POWELL was a Jelly-bean. Much as I desire to 
make him an appealing character, I feel that it would 
be unscrupulous to deceive you on that point. He was 
a bred-in-the-bone, dyed-in-the-wool, ninety-nine three- 
quarters per cent Jelly-bean and he grew lazily all during 
Jelly-bean season, which is every season, down in the 
land of the Jelly-beans well below the Mason-Dixon line. 

Now if you call a Memphis man a Jelly-bean he will 
quite possibly pull a long sinewy rope from his hip 
pocket and hang you to a convenient telegraph-pole. 
If you call a New Orleans man a Jelly-bean he will prob- 
ably grin and ask you who is taking your girl to the 
Mardi Gras ball. The particular Jelly-bean patch 
which produced the protagonist of this history lies 
somewhere between the two a little city of forty thou- 
sand that has dozed sleepily for forty thousand years in 
southern Georgia, occasionally stirring in its slumbers 
and muttering something about a war that took place 
sometime, somewhere, and that everyone else has for- 
gotten long ago. 

Jim was a Jelly-bean. I write that again because it 
has such a pleasant sound rather like the beginning of 
a fairy story as if Jim were nice. It somehow gives 
me a picture of him with a round, appetizing face and 
all sorts of leaves and vegetables growing out of his cap. 
But Jim was long and thin and bent at the waist from 
stooping over pool-tables, and he was what might have 
been known in the indiscriminating North as a corner 
loafer. " Jelly-bean" is the name throughout the un- 
dissolved Confederacy for one who spends his life con- 

3 



4 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

jugating the verb to idle in the first person singular I 
am idling, I have idled, I will idle. 

Jim was born in a white house on a green corner. It 
had four weather-beaten pillars in front and a great 
amount of lattice-work in the rear that made a cheerful 
criss-cross background for a flowery sun-drenched lawn. 
Originally the dwellers in the white house had owned 
the ground next door and next door to that and next 
door to that, but this had been so long ago that even 
Jim's father scarcely remembered it. He had, in fact, 
thought it a matter of so little moment that when he 
was dying from a pistol wound got in a brawl he neglected 
even to tell little Jim, who was five years old and miser- 
ably frightened. The white house became a boarding- 
house run by a tight-lipped lady from Macon, whom 
Jim called Aunt Mamie and detested with all his soul. 

He became fifteen, went to high school, wore his hair 
in black snarls, and was afraid of girls. He hated his 
home where four women and one old man prolonged 
an interminable chatter from summer to summer about 
what lots the Powell place had originally included and 
what sort of flowers would be out next. Sometimes 
the parents of little girls in town, remembering Jim's 
mother and fancying a resemblance in the dark eyes 
and hair, invited him to parties, but parties made 
him shy and he much preferred sitting on a dis- 
connected axle in Tilly's Garage, rolling the bones or 
exploring his mouth endlessly with a long straw. For 
pocket money, he picked up odd jobs, and it was due to 
this that he stopped going to parties. At his third 
party little Marjorie Haight had whispered indiscreetly 
and within hearing distance that he was a boy who 
brought the groceries sometimes. So instead of the 
two-step and polka, Jim had learned to throw any 
number he desired on the dice and had listened to spicy 



THE JELLY-BEAN 5 

tales of all the shootings that had occurred in the sur- 
rounding country during the past fifty years. 

He became eighteen. The war broke out and he 
enlisted as a gob and polished brass in the Charleston 
Navy-yard for a year. Then, by way of variety, he 
went North and polished brass in the Brooklyn Navy- 
yard for a year. 

When the war was over he came home. He was 
twenty-one, his trousers were too short and too tight. 
His buttoned shoes were long and narrow. His tie was 
an alarming conspiracy of purple and pink marvellously 
scrolled, and over it were two blue eyes faded Like a 
piece of very good old cloth long exposed to the sun. 

In the twilight of one April evening when a soft 
gray had drifted down along the cottonfields and over 
the sultry town, he was a vague figure leaning against 
a board fence, whistling and gazing at the moon's rim 
above the lights of Jackson Street. His mind was work- 
ing persistently on a problem that had held his attention 
for an hour. The Jelly-bean had been invited to a 
party. 

Back in the days when all the boys had detested all 
the girls, Clark Darrow and Jim had sat side by side in 
school. But, while Jim's social aspirations had died 
in the oily air of the garage, Clark had alternately fallen 
in and out of love, gone to college, taken to drink, given 
it up, and, in short, become one of the best beaux of the 
town. Nevertheless Clark and Jim had retained a friend- 
ship that, though casual, was perfectly definite. That 
afternoon Clark's ancient Ford had slowed up beside 
Jim, who was on the sidewalk and, out of a clear sky, 
Clark had invited him to a party at the country club. 
The impulse that made him do this was no stranger 
than the impulse which made Jim accept. The latter 
was probably an unconscious ennui, a half -frightened 



6 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

sense of adventure. And now Jim was soberly think- 
ing it over. 

He began to sing, drumming his long foot idly on a 
stone block in the sidewalk till it wobbled up and down 
in time to the low throaty tune: 

"One mile from Home in Jelly-bean town, 
Lives Jeanne, the Jetty-bean Queen. 
She loves her dice and treats 'em nice ; 
No dice would treat her mean" 

He broke off and agitated the sidewalk to a bumpy 
gallop. 

"Daggone!" he muttered, half aloud. 

They would all be there the old crowd, the crowd 
to which, by right of the white house, sold long 
since, and the portrait of the officer in gray over the 
mantel, Jim should have belonged. But that crowd 
had grown up together into a tight little set as gradu- 
ally as the girls' dresses had lengthened inch by inch, 
as definitely as the boys' trousers had dropped suddenly 
to their ankles. And to that society of first names and 
dead puppy-loves Jim was an outsider a running mate 
of poor whites. Most of the men knew him, con- 
descendingly; he tipped his hat to three or four girls. 
That was all. 

When the dusk had thickened into a blue setting for 
the moon, he walked through the hot, pleasantly 
pungent town to Jackson Street. The stores were closing 
and the last shoppers were drifting homeward, as if borne 
on the dreamy revolution of a slow merry-go-round. A 
street-fair farther down made a brilliant alley of vari- 
colored booths and contributed a blend of music to the 
night an oriental dance on a calliope, a melancholy 
bugle in front of a freak show, a cheerful rendition of 
"Back Home in Tennessee" on a hand-organ. 



THE JELLY-BEAN 7 

The Jelly-bean stopped in a store and bought a collar. 
Then he sauntered along toward Soda Sam's, where he 
found the usual three or four cars of a summer evening 
parked in front and the little darkies running back and 
forth with sundaes and lemonades. 

"Hello, Jim." 

It was a voice at his elbow Joe Ewing sitting in 
an automobile with Marylyn Wade. Nancy Lamar and 
a strange man were in the back seat. 

The Jelly-bean tipped his hat quickly. 

"Hi, Ben ' then, after an almost imperceptible 
pause "How y' all?" 

^as/ing, he ambled on toward the garage where he 
had a room up-stairs. His "How y' all " had been said to 
Nancy Lamar, to whom he had not spoken in fifteen years. 

Nancy had a mouth like a remembered kiss and 
shadowy eyes and blue-black hair inherited from her 
mother who had been born in Budapest. Jim passed 
her often in the street, walking small-boy fashion with 
her hands in her pockets and he knew that with her 
inseparable Sally Carrol Hopper she had left a trail of 
broken hearts from Atlanta to New Orleans. 

For a few fleeting moments Jim wished he could 
dance. Then he laughed and as he reached his door 
began to sing softly to himself: 

"Her Jelly Roll can twist your soul, 
Her eyes are big and brown, 
She's the Queen of the Queens of the Jelly-beans 
My Jeanne of Jelly-bean Town" 

II 

At nine-thirty Jim and Clark met in front of Soda 
Sam's and started for the Country Club in Clark's 
Ford. 



8 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

"Jim," asked Clark casually, as they rattled through 
the jasmine-scented night, "how do you keep alive ?" 

The Jelly-bean paused, considered. 

"Well," he said finally, "I got a room over Tilly's 
garage. I help him some with the cars in the afternoon 
an' he gives it to me free. Sometimes I drive one of 
his taxies and pick up a little thataway. I get fed up 
doin' that regular though." 

"That all?" 

"Well, when there's a lot of work I help him by the 
day Saturdays usually and then there's one main 
source of revenue I don't generally mention. Maybe 
you don't recollect I'm about the champion crap-shooter 
of this town. They make me shoot from a cup now 
because once I get the feel of a pair of dice they just roll 
for me." 

Clark grinned appreciatively. 

"I never could learn to set J em so's they'd do what I 
wanted. Wish you'd shoot with Nancy Lamar some 
day and take all her money away from her. She will roll 
'em with the boys and she loses more than her daddy can 
afford to give her. I happen to know she sold a good 
ring last month to pay a debt." 

The Jelly-bean was non-committal. 

"The white house on Elm Street still belong to you ?" 

Jim shook his head. 

"Sold. Got a pretty good price, seein' it wasn't 
in a good part of town no more. Lawyer told me to 
put it into Liberty bonds. But Aunt Mamie got so she 
didn't have no sense, so it takes all the interest to keep 
her up at Great Farms Sanitarium. 

"Hm." 

"I got an old uncle up-state an' I reckin I kin go up 
there if ever I get sure enough pore. Nice farm, but 
not enough niggers around to work it. He's asked me 



THE JELLY-BEAN 9 

to come up and help him, but I don't guess I'd take 

much to it. Too doggone lonesome ' He broke off 

suddenly. "Clark, I want to tell you I'm much obliged 
to you for askin' me out, but I'd be a lot happier if you'd 
just stop the car right here an 7 let me walk back into 
town." 

"Shucks!" Clark grunted. "Do you good to step 
out. You don't have to dance just get out there on 
the floor and shake." 

"Hold on," exclaimed Jim uneasily, "Don't you go 
leadin' me up to any girls and leavin' me there so I'll 
have to dance with 'em." 

Clark laughed. 

"'Cause," continued Jim desperately, "without you 
swear you won't do that I'm agoin' to get out right 
here an' my good legs goin' carry me back to Jackson 
Street." 

They agreed after some argument that Jim, unmo- 
lested by females, was to view the spectacle from a 
secluded settee in the corner where Clark would join 
him whenever he wasn't dancing. 

So ten o'clock found the Jelly-bean with his legs 
crossed and his arms conservatively folded, trying to 
look casually at home and politely uninterested in the 
dancers. At heart he was torn between overwhelming 
self-consciousness and an intense curiosity as to all 
that went on around him. He saw the girls emerge 
one by one from the dressing-room, stretching and plum- 
ing themselves like bright birds, smiling over their 
powdered shoulders at the chaperones, casting a quick 
glance around to take in the room and, simultaneously, 
the room's reaction to their entrance and then, again 
like birds, alighting and nestling in the sober arms of 
their waiting escorts. Sally Carrol Hopper, blonde and 
lazy-eyed, appeared clad in her favorite pink and bunk- 



io TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

ing like an awakened rose. Marjorie Haight, Marylyn 
Wade, Harriet Gary, all the girls he had seen loitering 
down Jackson Street by noon, now, curled and bril- 
liantined and delicately tinted for the overhead lights, 
were miraculously strange Dresden figures of pink and 
blue and red and gold, fresh from the shop and not yet 
fully dried. 

He had been there half an hour, totally uncheered 
by Clark's jovial visits which were each one accom- 
panied by a " Hello, old boy, how you making out?" 
and a slap at his knee. A dozen males had spoken to 
him or stopped for a moment beside him, but he knew 
that they were each one surprised at finding him there 
and fancied that one or two were even slightly resent- 
ful. But at half past ten his embarrassment suddenly 
left him and a pull of breathless interest took him com- 
pletely out of himself Nancy Lamar had come out of 
the dressing-room. 

She was dressed in yellow organdie, a costume of a 
hundred cool corners, with three tiers of ruffles and a 
big bow in back until she shed black and yellow around 
her in a sort of phosphorescent lustre. The Jelly-bean's 
eyes opened wide and a lump arose in his throat. For 
a minute she stood beside the door until her partner 
hurried up. Jim recognized him as the stranger who 
had been with her in Joe Ewing's car that afternoon. 
He saw her set her arms akimbo and say something in 
a low voice, and laugh. The man laughed too and Jim 
experienced the quick pang of a weird new kind of pain. 
Some ray had passed between the pair, a shaft of 
beauty from that sun that had warmed him a moment 
since. The Jelly-bean felt suddenly like a weed in a 
shadow. 

A minute later Clark approached him, bright-eyed 
and glowing. 



THE JELLY-BEAN n 

"Hi, old man," he cried with some lack of originality. 
"How you making out?" 

Jim replied that he was making out as well as could 
be expected. 

"You come along with me," commanded Clark. 
"I've got something that'll put an edge on the eve- 
ning." 

Jim followed him awkwardly across the floor and up 
the stairs to the locker-room where Clark produced a 
flask of nameless yellow liquid. 

"Good old corn." 

Ginger ale arrived on a tray. Such potent nectar 
as "good old corn" needed some disguise beyond seltzer. 

"Say, boy," exclaimed Clark breathlessly, "doesn't 
Nancy Lamar look beautiful?" 

Jim nodded. 

"Mighty beautiful," he agreed. 

"She's all dolled up to a fare-you-well to-night," 
continued Clark. "Notice that fellow she's with ?" 

"Big fella? White pants?" 

"Yeah. Well, that's Ogden Merritt from Savannah. 
Old man Merritt makes the Merritt safety razors. 
This fella's crazy about her. Been chasing after her 
all year. 

"She's a wild baby," continued Clark, "but I like 
her. So does everybody. But she sure does do crazy 
stunts. She usually gets out alive, but she's got scars 
all over her reputation from one thing or another she's 
done." 

"That so?" Jim passed over his glass. "That's 
good corn." 

"Not so bad. Oh, she's a wild one. Shoots craps, 
say, boy! And she do like her high-balls. Promised 
I'd give her one later on." 

"She in love with this Merritt ?" 



12 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

"Damned if I know. Seems like all the best girls 
around here marry fellas and go off somewhere." 

He poured himself one more drink and carefully 
corked the bottle. 

" Listen, Jim, I got to go dance and I'd be much 
obliged if you just stick this corn right on your hip as 
long as you're not dancing. If a man notices I've had 
a drink he'll come up and ask me and before I know it 
it's all gone and somebody else is having my good time." 

So Nancy Lamar was going to marry. This toast of 
a town was to become the private property of an indi- 
vidual in white trousers and all because white trousers' 
father had made a better razor than his neighbor. As 
they descended the stairs Jim found the idea inex- 
plicably depressing. For the first time in his life 
he felt a vague and romantic yearning. A picture of 
her began to form in his imagination Nancy walking 
boy like and debonnaire along the street, taking an 
orange as tithe from a worshipful fruit-dealer, charg- 
ing a dope on a mythical account at Soda Sam's, as- 
sembling a convoy of beaux and then driving off in trium- 
phal state for an afternoon of splashing and singing. 

The Jelly-bean walked out on the porch to a deserted 
corner, dark between the moon on the lawn and the 
single lighted door of the ballroom. There he found a 
chair and, lighting a cigarette, drifted into the thought- 
less reverie that was his usual mood. Yet now it was a 
reverie made sensuous by the night and by the hot smell 
of damp powder puffs, tucked in the fronts of low dresses 
and distilling a thousand rich scents to float out through 
the open door. The music itself, blurred by a loud 
trombone, became hot and shadowy, a languorous over- 
tone to the scraping of many shoes and slippers. 

Suddenly the square of yellow light that fell through 
the door was obscured by a dark figure. A girl had 



THE JELLY-BEAN 13 

come out of the dressing-room and was standing on the 
porch not more than ten feet away. Jim heard a low- 
breathed "doggone" and then she turned and saw him. 
It was Nancy Lamar. 

Jim rose to his feet. 

"Howdy?" 

"Hello " she paused, hesitated and then approached. 
"Oh, it's Jim Powell." 

He bowed slightly, tried to think of a casual remark. 

"Do you suppose," she began quickly, "I mean do 
you know anything about gum ?" 

"What?" 

"I've got gum on my shoe. Some utter ass left his 
or her gum on the floor and of course I stepped in it." 

Jim blushed, inappropriately. 

"Do you know how to get it off?" she demanded 
petulantly. "I've tried a knife. I've tried every damn 
thing in the dressing-room. I've tried soap and water 
and even perfume and I've ruined my powder-puff try- 
ing to make it stick to that." 

Jim considered the question in some agitation. 

"Why I think maybe gasolene " 

The words had scarcely left his lips when she grasped 
his hand and pulled him at a run off the low veranda, 
over a flower bed and at a gallop toward a group of 
cars parked in the moonlight by the first hole of the 
golf course. 

"Turn on the gasolene," she commanded breathlessly. 

"What?" 

"For the gum of course. I've got to get it off. I 
can't dance with gum on." 

Obediently Jim turned to the cars and began inspect- 
ing them with a view to obtaining the desired solvent. 
Had she demanded a cylinder he would have done his 
best to wrench one out. 



14 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

"Here," he said after a moment's search. " Here's 
one that's easy. Got a handkerchief ?" 

"It's up-stairs wet. I used it for the soap and water." 

Jim laboriously explored his pockets. 

"Don't believe I got one either." 

"Doggone it! Well, we can turn it on and let it 
run on the ground." 

He turned the spout; a dripping began. 

"More!" 

He turned it on fuller. The dripping became a flow 
and formed an oily pool that glistened brightly, reflect- 
ing a dozen tremulous moons on its quivering bosom. 

"Ah," she sighed contentedly, "let it all out. The 
only thing to do is to wade in it." 

In desperation he turned on the tap full and the pool 
suddenly widened sending tiny rivers and trickles in 
all directions. 

"That's fine. That's something like." 

Raising her skirts she stepped gracefully in. 

"I know this'll take it off," she murmured. 

Jim smiled. 

"There's lots more cars." 

She stepped daintily out of the gasolene and began 
scraping her slippers, side and bottom, on the running- 
board of the automobile. The Jelly-bean contained him- 
self no longer. He bent double with explosive laugh- 
ter and after a second she joined in. 

"You're here with Clark Darrow, aren't you?" she 
asked as they walked back toward the veranda. 

"Yes." 

"You know where he is now?" 

"Out dancin', I reckin." 

"The deuce. He promised me a highball." 

"Well," said Jim, "I guess that'll be all right. I got 
his bottle right here in my pocket." 



THE JELLY-BEAN 15 

She smiled at him radiantly. 

"I guess maybe you'll need ginger ale though/' 
he added. 

"Not me. Just the bottle." 

"Sure enough?" 

She laughed scornfully. 

"Try me. I can drink anything any man can. Let's 
sit down." 

She perched herself on the side of a table and he 
dropped into one of the wicker chairs beside her. 
Taking out the cork she held the flask to her lips and 
took a long drink. He watched her fascinated. 

"Like it?" 

She shook her head breathlessly. 

"No, but I like the way it makes me feel. I think 
most people are that way." 

Jim agreed. 

"My daddy liked it too well. It got him." 

"American men," said Nancy gravely, "don't know 
how to drink." 

"What ? " Jim was startled. 

"In fact," she went on carelessly, "they don't know 
how to do anything very well. The one thing I regret 
in my life is that I wasn't born in England." 

"In England?" 

"Yes. It's the one regret of my life that I wasn't." 

"Do you like it over there." 

"Yes. Immensely. I've never been there in person, 
but I've met a lot of Englishmen who were over here in 
the army, Oxford and Cambridge men you know, 
that's like Sewanee and University of Georgia are here 
and of course I've read a lot of English novels." 

Jim was interested, amazed. 

"D' you ever hear of Lady Diana Manners?" she 
asked earnestly. 



16 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

No, Jim had not. 

"Well, she's what I'd like to be. Dark, you know, 
like me, and wild as sin. She's the girl who rode her 
horse up the steps of some cathedral or church or some- 
thing and all the novelists made their heroines do it 
afterwards." 

Jim nodded politely. He was out of his depths. 

"Pass the bottle," suggested Nancy. "I'm going to 
take another little one. A little drink wouldn't hurt a 
baby. 

"You see," she continued, again breathless after a 
draught. " People over there have style. Nobody has 
style here. I mean the boys here aren't really worth 
dressing up for or doing sensational things for. Don't 
you know ?" 

"I suppose so I mean I suppose not," murmured 
Jim. 

"And I'd like to do 'em an' all. I'm really the only 
girl in town that has style." 

She stretched out her arms and yawned pleasantly. 

"Pretty evening." 

"Sure is," agreed Jim. 

"Like to have boat," she suggested dreamily. "Like 
to sail out on a silver lake, say the Thames, for instance. 
Have champagne and caviare sandwiches along. Have 
about eight people. And one of the men would jump 
overboard to amuse the party and get drowned like a 
man did with Lady Diana Manners once." 

"Did he do it to please her?" 

"Didn't mean drown himself to please her. He just 
meant to jump overboard and make everybody laugh." 

"I reckin they just died laughin' when he drowned." 

"Oh, I suppose they laughed a little," she admitted. 
"I imagine she did, anyway. She's pretty hard, I 
guess like I am." 



THE JELLY-BEAN 17 

"You hard?" 

"Like nails." She yawned again and added, "Give 
me a little more from that bottle." 

Jim hesitated but she held out her hand defiantly. 

"Don't treat me like a girl," she warned him. "I'm 
not like any girl you ever saw." She considered. "Still, 
perhaps you're right. You got you got old head on 
-A young shoulders." 

She jumped to her feet and moved toward the door. 
The Jelly-bean rose also. 

"Good-bye," she said politely, "good-bye. Thanks, 
Jelly-bean." 

Then she stepped inside and left him wide-eyed upon 
the porch. 

m 

At twelve o'clock a procession of cloaks issued single 
file from the women's dressing-room and, each one pair- 
ing with a coated beau like dancers meeting in a cotil- 
lion figure, drifted through the door with sleepy happy 
laughter through the door into the dark where autos 
backed and snorted and parties called to one another 
and gathered around the water-cooler. 

Jim, sitting in his corner, rose to look for Clark. 
They had met at eleven; then Clark had gone in to 
dance. So, seeking him, Jim wandered into the soft- 
drink stand that had once been a bar. The room was 
deserted except for a sleepy negro dozing behind the 
counter and two boys lazily fingering a pair of dice at 
one of the tables. Jim was about to leave when he saw 
Clark coming in. At the same moment Clark looked up. 

"Hi, Jim ! " he commanded. " C' mon over and help us 
with this bottle. I guess there's not much left, but 
there's one all around." 

Nancy, the man from Savannah, Marylyn Wade, and 



i8 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

Joe Ewing were lolling and laughing in the doorway. 
Nancy caught Jim's eye and winked at him humorously. 

They drifted over to a table and arranging themselves 
around it waited for the waiter to bring ginger ale. 
Jim, faintly ill at ease, turned his eyes on Nancy, who 
had drifted into a nickel crap game with the two boys 
at the next table. 

" Bring them over here," suggested Clark. 

Joe looked around. 

"We don't want to draw a crowd. It's against club 
rules." 

"Nobody's around," insisted Clark, "except Mr. Tay- 
lor. He's walking up and down like a wild-man trying 
to find out who let all the gasolene out of his car." 

There was a general laugh. 

"I bet a million Nancy got something on her shoe 
again. You can't park when she's around." 

"O Nancy, Mr. Taylor's looking for you!" 

Nancy's cheeks were glowing with excitement over 
the game. "I haven't seen his silly little flivver in 
two weeks." 

Jim felt a sudden silence. He turned and saw an 
individual of uncertain age standing in the doorway. 

Clark's voice punctuated the embarrassment. 

"Won't you join us, Mr. Taylor?" 

"Thanks." 

Mr. Taylor spread his unwelcome presence over a 
chair. "Have to, I guess. I'm waiting till they dig 
me up some gasolene. Somebody got funny with my 
car." 

His eyes narrowed and he looked quickly from one 
to the other. Jim wondered what he had heard from 
the doorway tried to remember what had been said. 

"I'm right to-night," Nancy sang out, "and my four 
bits is in the ring." 



THE JELLY-BEAN 19 

" Faded!" snapped Taylor suddenly. 

"Why, Mr. Taylor, I didn't know you shot craps!" 
Nancy was overjoyed to find that he had seated himself 
and instantly covered her bet. They had openly dis- 
liked each other since the night she had definitely dis- 
couraged a series of rather pointed advances. 

"All right, babies, do it for your mamma. Just one 
little seven." Nancy was cooing to the dice. She 
rattled them with a brave underhand flourish, and 
rolled them out on the table. 

"Ah-h! I suspected it. And now again with the 
dollar up." 

Five passes to her credit found Taylor a bad 
loser. She was making it personal, and after each suc- 
cess Jim watched triumph flutter across her face. She 
was doubling with each throw such luck could scarcely 
last. 

"Better go easy," he cautioned her timidly. 

"Ah, but watch this one," she whispered. It was 
eight on the dice and she called her number. 

"Little Ada, this time we're going South." 

Ada from Decatur rolled over the table. Nancy 
was flushed and half-hysterical, but her luck was hold- 
ing. She drove the pot up and up, refusing to drag. 
Taylor was drumming with his fingers on the table, but 
he was in to stay. 

Then Nancy tried for a ten and lost the dice. Tay- 
lor seized them avidly. He shot in silence, and in the 
hush of excitement the clatter of one pass after another 
on the table was the only sound. 

Now Nancy had the dice again, but her luck had 
broken. An hour passed. Back and forth it went. 
Taylor had been at it again and again and again. 
They were even at last Nancy lost her ultimate five 
dollars. 



20 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

"Will you take my check," she said quickly, "for 
fifty, and we'll shoot it all?" Her voice was a little 
unsteady and her hand shook as she reached to the 
money. 

Clark exchanged an uncertain but alarmed glance 
with Joe Ewing. Taylor shot again. He had Nancy's 
check. 

"How 'bout another?" she said wildly. "Jes' any 
bank'll do money everywhere as a matter of fact." 

Jim understood tBe "good old corn" he had given 
her the "good old corn" she had taken since. He 
wished he dared interfere a girl of that age and posi- 
tion would hardly have two bank accounts. When the 
clock struck two he contained himself no longer. 

"May I can't you let me roll 'em for you ?" he sug- 
gested, his low, lazy voice a little strained. 

Suddenly sleepy and listless, Nancy flung the dice 
down before him. 

"All right old boy! As Lady Diana Manners says, 
'Shoot 'em, Jelly-bean' My luck's gone." 

"Mr. Taylor," said Jim, carelessly, "we'll shoot for 
one of those there checks against the cash." 

Half an hour later Nancy swayed forward and clapped 
him on the back. 

"Stole my luck, you did." She was nodding her head 
sagely. 

Jim swept up the last check and putting it with the 
others tore them into confetti and scattered them on 
the floor. Someone started singing, and Nancy kicking 
her chair backward rose to her feet. 

"Ladies and gentlemen," she announced. "Ladies 
that's you Marylyn. I want to tell the world that 
Mr. Jim Powell, who is a well-known Jelly-bean of this 
city, is an exception to a great rule 'lucky in dice 
unlucky in love.' He's lucky in dice, and as matter 



THE JELLY-BEAN 21 

fact I I love him. Ladies and gentlemen, Nancy La- 
mar, famous dark-haired beauty often featured in the 
Herald as one th' most popular members of younger set 
as other girls are often featured in this particular case. 
Wish to announce wish to announce, anyway, Gentle- 
men She tipped suddenly. Clark caught her and 

restored her balance. 

"My error," she laughed, "she stoops to stoops to 

anyways We'll drink to Jelly-bean . . . Mr. Jim 

Powell, King of the Jelly-beans." 

And a few minutes later as Jim waited hat in hand 
for Clark in the darkness of that same corner of the 
porch where she had come searching for gasolene, she 
appeared suddenly beside him. 

"Jelly-bean," she said, "are you here, Jelly-bean? 
I think ' and her slight unsteadiness seemed part 
of an enchanted dream "I think you deserve one of my 
sweetest kisses for that, Jelly-bean." 

For an instant her arms were around his neck her 
lips were pressed to his. 

"I'm a wild part of the world, Jelly-bean, but you did 
me a good turn." 

Then she was gone, down the porch, over the cricket- 
loud lawn. Jim saw Merritt come out the front door 
and say something to her angrily saw her laugh and, 
turning away, walk with averted eyes to his car. 
Marylyn and Joe followed, singing a drowsy song about 
a Jazz baby. 

Clark came out and joined Jim on the steps. "All 
pretty lit, I guess," he yawned. "Merritt's in a mean 
mood. He's certainly off Nancy." 

Over east along the golf course a faint rug of gray 
spread itself across the feet of the night. The party in 
the car began to chant a chorus as the engine warmed up. 

"Good-night everybody," called Clark. 



22 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

"Good-night, Clark." 

"Good-night." 

There was a pause, and then a soft, happy voice 
added, 

"Good-night, Jelly-bean." 

The car drove off to a burst of singing. A rooster on 
a farm across the way took up a solitary mournful crow, 
and behind them a last negro waiter turned out the 
porch light. Jim and Clark strolled over toward the 
Ford, their shoes crunching raucously on the gravel 
drive. 

"Oh boy!" sighed Clark softly, "how you can set 
*hosedice!" 

It was still too dark for him to see the flush on Jim's 
thin cheeks or to know that it was a flush of unfamiliar 
shaiiie. 

IV 

Over Tilly's garage a bleak room echoed all day to 
the rumble and snorting down-stairs and the singing of 
the negro washers as they turned the hose on the cars 
outside. It was a cheerless square of a room, punctuated 
with a bed and a battered table on which lay half a 
dozen books Joe Miller's " Slow Train thru Arkansas," 
"Lucille," in an old edition very much annotated in an 
old-fashioned hand; "The Eyes of the World, " by Harold 
Bell Wright, and an ancient prayer-book of the Church 
of England with the name Alice Powell and the date 1831 
written on the fly-leaf. 

The East, gray when the Jelly-bean entered the garage, 
became a rich and vivid blue as he turned on his soli- 
tary electric light. He snapped it out again, and going 
to the window rested his elbows on the sill and stared 
into the deepening morning. With the awakening of his 



THE JELLY-BEAN 23 

emotions, his first perception was a sense of futility, a dull 
ache at the utter grayness of his life. A wall had sprung 
up suddenly around him hedging him in, a wall as definite 
and tangible as the white wall of his bare room. And 
with his perception of this wall all that had been the 
romance of his existence, the casualness, the light- 
hearted improvidence, the miraculous open-handedness 
of life faded out. The Jelly-bean strolling up Jackson 
Street humming a lazy song, known at every shop and 
street stand, cropful of easy greeting and local wit, 
sad sometimes for only the sake of sadness and the 
flight of time that Jelly-bean was suddenly vanished. 
The very name was a reproach, a triviality. With a 
flood of insight he knew that Merritt must despise him, 
that even Nancy's kiss in the dawn would have awak- 
ened not jealousy but only a contempt for Nancy's so 
lowering herself. And on his part the Jelly-bean had 
used for her a dingy subterfuge learned from the garage. 
He had been her moral laundry; the stains were his. 

As the gray became blue, brightened and filled the 
room, he crossed to his bed and threw himself down on 
it, gripping the edges fiercely. 

"I love her," he cried aloud, "God I" 

As he said this something gave way within him like 
a lump melting in his throat. The air cleared and be- 
came radiant with dawn, and turning over on his face 
he began to sob dully into the pillow. 

In the sunshine of three o'clock Clark Darrow chug- 
ging painfully along Jackson Street was hailed by the 
Jelly-bean, who stood on the curb with his fingers in 
his vest pockets. 

"Hi!" called Clark, bringing his Ford to an aston- 
ishii.g stop alongside. " Just get up ?" 

Th:> Jelly-bean shook his head. 



24 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

"Never did go to bed. Felt sorta restless, so I took a 
long walk this morning out in the country. Just got 
into town this minute." 

"Should think you would feel restless. I been feel- 
ing thataway all day 

"I'm thinkin' of leavin' town," continued the Jelly- 
bean, absorbed by his own thoughts. "Been thinkin' 
of goin' up on the farm, and takin' a little that work off 
Uncle Dun. Reckin I been bummin' too long." 

Clark was silent and the Jelly-bean continued: 

"I reckin maybe after Aunt Mamie dies I could sink 
that money of mine in the farm and make somethin' 
out of it. All my people originally came from that 
part up there. Had a big place." 

Clark looked at him curiously. 

"That's funny," he said. " This this sort of affected 
me the same way." 

The Jelly-bean hesitated. 

"I don't know," he began slowly, "somethin' about 
about that girl last night talkin' about a lady named 
Diana Manners an English lady, sorta got me think- 
in* !" He drew himself up and looked oddly at Clark, 
"I had a family once," he said defiantly. 

Clark nodded. 

"I know." 

"And I'm the last of 7 em," continued the Jelly-bean, 
his voice rising slightly, "and I ain't worth shucks. 
Name they call me by means jelly weak and wobbly 
like. People who weren't nothin' when my folks was 
a lot turn up their noses when they pass me on the 
street." 

Again Clark was silent. 

"So I'm through. I'm goin' to-day. And when I 
come back to this town it's going to be like a gentle- 



THE JELLY-BEAN 25 

Clark took out his handkerchief and wiped his damp 
brow. 

"Reckon you're not the only one it shook up," he 
admitted gloomily. "All this thing of girls going round 
like they do is going to stop right quick. Too bad, 
too, but everybody'll have to see it thataway." 

"Do you mean," demanded Jim in surprise, "that 
all that's leaked out?" 

"Leaked out? How on earth could they keep it 
secret. It'll be announced in the papers to-night. 
Doctor Lamar's got to save his name somehow." 

Jim put his hands on the sides of the car and tightened 
his long fingers on the metal. 

"Do you mean Taylor investigated those checks?" 

It was Clark's turn to be surprised. 

"Haven't you heard what happened ?" 

Jim's startled eyes were answer enough. 

"Why," announced Clark dramatically, "those four 
got another bottle of corn, got tight and decided to shock 
the town so Nancy and that fella Merritt were married 
in Rockville at seven o'clock this morning." 

A tiny indentation appeared in the metal under the 
Jelly-bean's fingers. 

"Married?" 

"Sure enough. Nancy sobered up and rushed back 
into town, crying and frightened to death claimed 
it'd all been a mistake. First Doctor Lamar went 
wild and was going to kill Merritt, but finally they got 
it patched up some way, and Nancy and Merritt went to 
Savannah on the two-thirty train." 

Jim closed his eyes and with an effort overcame a 
sudden sickness. 

"It's too bad," said Clark philosophically. "I don't 
mean the wedding reckon that's all right, though I 
don't guess Nancy cared a darn about him. But it's 



26 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

a crime for a nice girl like that to hurt her family that 
way." 

The Jelly-bean let go the car and turned away. Again 
something was going on inside him, some inexplicable 
but almost chemical change. 

" Where you going?'' asked Clark. 

The Jelly-bean turned and looked dully back over 
his shoulder. 

" Got to go," he muttered. "Been up too long; feekV 
right sick." 

"Oh." 

The street was hot at three and hotter still at four, 
the April dust seeming to enmesh the sun and give it 
forth again as a world-old joke forever played on an 
eternity of afternoons. But at half past four a first 
layer of quiet fell and the shades lengthened under the 
awnings and heavy foliaged trees. In this heat nothing 
mattered. All life was weather, a waiting through the 
hot where events had no significance for the cool that 
was soft and caressing like a woman's hand on a tired 
forehead. Down in Georgia there is a feeling perhaps 
inarticulate that this is the greatest wisdom of the 
South so after a while the Jelly-bean turned into a pool- 
hall on Jackson Street where he was sure to find a con- 
genial crowd who would make all the old jokes the 
ones he knew. 



THE CAMEL'S BACK 

THE glazed eye of the tired reader resting for a second 
on the above title will presume it to be merely meta- 
phorical. Stories about the cup and the lip and the 
bad penny and the new broom rarely have anything to 
do with cups or lips or pennies or brooms. This story 
is the exception. It has to do with a material, visible and 
large-as-life camel's back. 

Starting from the neck we shall work toward the tail. 
I want you to meet Mr. Perry Parkhurst, twenty-eight, 
lawyer, native of Toledo. Perry has nice teeth, a Har- 
vard diploma, parts his hair in the middle. You have 
met him before in Cleveland, Portland, St. Paul, Indi- 
anapolis, Kansas City, and so forth. Baker Brothers, 
New York, pause on their semi-annual trip through the 
West to clothe him; Montmorency & Co. dispatch a 
young man post-haste every three months to see that he 
has the correct number of little punctures on his shoes. 
He has a domestic roadster now, will have a French 
roadster if he lives long enough, and doubtless a Chinese 
tank if it comes into fashion. He looks like the ad- 
vertisement of the young man rubbing his sunset- 
colored chest with liniment and goes East every other 
year to his class reunion. 

I want you to meet his Love. Her name is Betty Me- 
dill, and she would take well in the movies. Her father 
gives her three hundred a month to dress on, and she has 
tawny eyes and hair and feather fans of live colors. I 
shall also introduce her father, Cyrus Medill. Though 
he is 10 all appearances flesh and blood, he is, strange to 
say, commonly known in Toledo as the Aluminum Man. 



28 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

But when he sits in his club window with two or three 
Iron Men, and the White Pine Man, and the Brass Man, 
they look very much as you and I do, only more so, if 
you know what I mean. 

Now during the Christmas holidays of 1919 there took 
place in Toledo, counting only the people with the ital- 
icized the, forty-one dinner parties, sixteen dances, six 
luncheons, male and female, twelve teas, four stag din- 
ners, two weddings, and thirteen bridge parties. It 
was the cumulative effect of all this that moved Perry 
Parkhurst on the twenty-ninth day of December to a 
decision. 

This Medill girl would marry him and she wouldn't 
marry him. She was having such a good time that she 
hated to take such a definite step. Meanwhile, their 
secret engagement had got so long that it seemed as if 
any day it might break off of its own weight. A little 
man named Warburton, who knew it all, persuaded 
Perry to superman her, to get a marriage license and go 
up to the Medill house and tell her she'd have to marry 
him at once or call it off forever. So he presented him- 
self, his heart, his license, and his ultimatum, and within 
five minutes they were in the midst of a violent quarrel, 
a burst of sporadic open fighting such as occurs near the 
end of all long wars and engagements. It brought about 
one of those ghastly lapses in which two people who are 
in love pull up sharp, look at each other coolly and think 
it's all been a mistake. Afterward they usually kiss 
wholesomely and assure the other person it was all their 
fault. Say it all was my fault ! Say it was ! I want to 
hear you say it ! 

But while reconciliation was trembling in the air, 
while each was, in a measure, stalling it off, so that they 
might the more voluptuously and sentimentally enjoy 
it when it came, they were permanently interrupted by 



THE CAMEL'S BACK 29 

a twenty-minute phone call for Betty from a garrulous 
aunt. At the end of eighteen minutes Perry Parkhurst, 
urged on by pride and suspicion and injured dignity, 
put on his long fur coat, picked up his light brown soft 
hat, and stalked out the door. 

"It's all over," he muttered brokenly as he tried to 
jam his car into first. "It's all over if I have to choke 
you for an hour, damn you!" This last to the car, 
which had been standing some time and was quite cold. 

He drove downtown that is, he got into a snow rut 
that led him downtown. He sat slouched down very 
low in his seat, much too dispirited to care where he 
went. 

In front of the Clarendon Hotel he was hailed from 
the sidewalk by a bad man named Baily, who had big 
teeth and lived at the hotel and had never been in 
love. 

"Perry," said the bad man softly when the roadster 
drew up beside him at the curb, "I've got six quarts of 
the doggonedest still champagne you ever tasted. A 
third of it's yours, Perry, if you'll come up-stairs and help 
Martin Macy and me drink it." 

"Baily," said Perry tensely, "I'll drink your cham- 
pagne. I'll drink every drop of it. I don't care if it 
kills me." 

" Shut up, you nut ! " said the bad man gently. " They 
don't put wood alcohol in champagne. This is the stuff 
that proves the world is more than six thousand years 
old. It's so ancient that the cork is petrified. You 
have to pull it with a stone drill." 

"Take me up-stairs," said Perry moodily. "If that 
cork sees my heart it'll fall out from pure mortifica- 
tion." 

The room up-stairs was full of those innocent hotel 
pictures of little girls eating apples and sitting in swings 



3 o TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

and talking to dogs. The other decorations were neck- 
ties and a pink man reading a pink paper devoted to 
ladies in pink tights. 

"When you have to go into the highways and by- 
ways " said the pink man, looking reproachfully at 
Baily and Perry. 

" Hello, Martin Macy," said Perry shortly, "where's 
this stone-age champagne?" 

" What's the rush? This isn't an operation, under- 
stand. This is a party." 

Perry sat down dully and looked disapprovingly at 
all the neckties. 

Baily leisurely opened the door of a wardrobe and 
brought out six handsome bottles. 

"Take off that darn fur coat!" said Martin Macy to 
Perry. "Or maybe you'd like to have us open all the 
windows." 

" Give me champagne," said Perry. 

"Going to the Townsends' circus ball to-night?" 

"Am not!" 

"'Vited?" 

"Uh-huh." 

"Why not go?" 

"Oh, I'm sick of parties," exclaimed Perry. "I'm 
sick of 'em. I've been to so many that I'm sick of 



'em." 



"Maybe you're going to the Howard Tates' party?" 

"No, I tell you; I'm sick of 'em." 

"Well," said Macy consolingly, "the Tates' is just for 
college kids anyways." 

"I tell you 

"I thought you'd be going to one of ? em anyways. I 
see by the papers you haven't missed a one this Christ- 
mas." 

"Hm," grunted Perry morosely. 



THE CAMEL'S BACK 31 

He would never go to any more parties. Classical 
phrases played in his mind that side of his life was 
closed, closed. Now when a man says "closed, closed" 
like that, you can be pretty sure that some woman has 
double-closed him, so to speak. Perry was also think- 
ing that other classical thought, about how cowardly 
suicide is. A noble thought that one warm and in- 
spiring. Think of all the fine men we should lose if 
suicide were not so cowardly ! 

An hour later was six o'clock, and Perry had lost all 
resemblance to the young man in the liniment adver- 
tisement. He looked like a rough draft for a riotous 
cartoon. They were singing an impromptu song of 
Batty 's improvisation: 

"One Lump Perry, the parlor snake, 

Famous through the city for the way he drinks his tea ; 
Plays with it, toys with it, 
Makes no noise with it, 

Balanced on a napkin on his well-trained knee " 

"Trouble is," said Perry, who had just banged his 
hair with Baily's comb and was tying an orange tie 
round it to get the effect of Julius Caesar, "that you 
fellas can't sing worth a damn. Soon's I leave th' air 
and start singin' tenor you start singin' tenor too." 

"'M a natural tenor," said Macy gravely. "Voice 
lacks cultivation, tha's all. Gotta natural voice, m'aunt 
used say. Naturally good singer." 

"Singers, singers, all good singers," remarked Baily, 
who was at the telephone. "No, not the cabaret; I 
want night egg. I mean some dog-gone clerk 'at's got 
food food ! I want " 

"Julius Caesar," announced Perry, turning round from 
the mirror. "Man of iron will and stern 'termination." 

"Shut up!" yelled Baily. "Say, iss Mr. Baily. 



32 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

Sen' up enormous supper. Use y'own judgment. Right 
away." 

He connected the receiver and the hook with some 
difficulty, and then with his lips closed and an expres- 
sion of solemn intensity in his eyes went to the lower 
drawer of his dresser and pulled it open. 

"Lookit!" he commanded. In his hands he held a 
truncated garment of pink gingham. 

"Pants," he exclaimed gravely. "Lookit !" 

This was a pink blouse, a red tie, and a Buster Brown 
collar. 

"Lookit!" he repeated. "Costume for the Town- 
sends' circus ball. I'm liT boy carries water for the 
elephants." 

Perry was impressed in spite of himself. 

"I'm going to be Julius Caesar," he announced after 
a moment of concentration. 

"Thought you weren't going!" said Macy. 

"Me ? Sure, I'm goin'. Never miss a party. Good 
for the nerves like celery." 

"Caesar!" scoffed Baily. "Can't be Caesar! He is 
not about a circus. Caesar's Shakespeare. Go as a 
clown." 

Perry shook his head. 

"Nope; Caesar." 

"Caesar?" 

"Sure. Chariot." 

Light dawned on Baily. 

"That's right. Good idea." 

Perry looked round the room searchingly. 

"You lend me a bathrobe and this tie," he said finally. 

Baily considered. 

"No good." 

"Sure, tha's all I need. Caesar was a savage. They 
can't kick if I come as Caesar, if he was a savage." 



THE CAMEL'S BACK 33 

"No," said Baily, shaking his head slowly. "Get a 
costume over at a costumer's. Over at Nolak's." 

"Closed up." 

"Find out." 

After a puzzling five minutes at the phone a small, 
weary voice managed to convince Perry that it was Mr. 
Nolak speaking, and that they would remain open until 
eight because of the Townsends' ball. Thus assured, 
Perry ate a great amount of filet mignon and drank his 
third of the last bottle of champagne. At eight-fifteen 
the man in the tall hat who stands in front of the Clar- 
endon found him trying to start his roadster. 

"Froze up," said Perry wisely. "The cold froze it. 
The cold air." 

"Froze, eh?" 

"Yes. Cold air froze it." 

"Can't start it?" 

"Nope. Let it stand here till summer. One those 
hot ole August days'll thaw it out awright." 

"Coin' let it stand?" 

"Sure. Let 'er stand. Take a hot thief to steal it. 
Gemme taxi." 

The man in the tall hat summoned a taxi. 

"Where to, mister?" 

"Go to Nolak's costume fella." 

II 

Mrs. Nolak was short and ineffectual looking, and on 
the cessation of the world war had belonged for a while 
to one of the new nationalities. Owing to unsettled 
European conditions she had never since been quite 
sure what she was. The shop in which she and her 
husband performed their daily stint was dim and ghostly, 
and peopled with suits of armor and Chinese mandarins, 



34 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

and enormous papier-mache birds suspended from the 
ceiling. In a vague background many rows of masks 
glared eyelessly at the visitor, and there were glass 
cases full of crowns and scepters, and jewels and enor- 
mous stomachers, and paints, and crape hair, and wigs of 
all colors. 

When Perry ambled into the shop Mrs. Nolak was 
folding up the last troubles of a strenuous day, so she 
thought, in a drawer full of pink silk stockings. 

"Something for you?" she queried pessimistically. 

"Want costume of Julius Hur, the charioteer." 

Mrs. Nolak was sorry, but every stitch of charioteer 
had been rented long ago. Was it for the Town sends' 
circus ball ? 

It was. 

"Sorry," she said, "but I don't think there's anything 
left that's really circus." 

This was an obstacle. 

"Hm," said Perry. An idea struck him suddenly. 
"If you've got a piece of canvas I could go's a tent." 

"Sorry, but we haven't anything like that. A hard- 
ware store is where you'd have to go to. We have some 
very nice Confederate soldiers." 

"No. No soldiers." 

"And I have a very handsome king." 

He shook his head. 

"Several of the gentlemen," she continued hopefully, 
"are wearing stovepipe hats and swallow-tail coats and 
going as ringmasters but we're all out of tall hats. I 
can let you have some crape hair for a mustache." 

"Want somep'n 'stinctive." 

"Something let's see. Well, we have a lion's head, 
and a goose, and a camel 

"Camel?" The idea seized Perry's imagination, 
gripped it fiercely. 



THE CAMEL'S BACK 35 

"Yes, but it needs two people." 

"Camel. That's the idea. Lemme see it." 

The camel was produced from his resting place on a 
top shelf. At first glance he appeared to consist en- 
tirely of a very gaunt, cadaverous head and a sizable 
hump, but on being spread out he was found to possess 
a dark brown, unwholesome-looking body made of thick, 
cottony cloth. 

"You see it takes two people," explained Mrs. Nolak, 
holding the camel in frank admiration. "If you have 
a friend he could be part of it. You see there's sorta 
pants for two people. One pair is for the fella in front, 
and the other pair for the fella in back. The fella in 
front does the lookin' out through these here eyes, an' 
the fella in back he's just gotta stoop over an' folia the 
front fella round." 

"Put it on," commanded Perry. 

Obediently Mrs. Nolak put her tabby-cat face inside 
the camel's head and turned it from side to side fero- 
ciously. 

Perry was fascinated. 

"What noise does a camel make?" 

"What?" asked Mrs. Nolak as her face emerged, 
somewhat smudgy. "Oh, what noise? Why, he sorta 
brays." 

"Lemme see it in a mirror." 

Before a wide mirror Perry tried on the head and 
turned from side to side appraisingly. In the dim light 
the effect was distinctly pleasing. The camel's face 
was a study in pessimism, decorated with numerous 
abrasions, and it must be admitted that his coat was in 
that state of general negligence peculiar to camels in 
fact, he needed to be cleaned and pressed but distinc- 
tive he certainly was. He was majestic. He would 
have attracted attention in any gathering, if only by his 



36 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

melancholy cast of feature and the look of hunger lurking 
round his shadowy eyes. 

"You see you have to have two people," said Mrs. 
Nolak again. 

Perry tentatively gathered up the body and legs and 
wrapped them about him, tying the hind legs as a girdle 
round his waist. The effect on the whole was bad. It 
was even irreverent like one of those mediaeval pictures 
of a monk changed into a beast by the ministrations of 
Satan. At the very best the ensemble resembled a 
humpbacked cow sitting on her haunches among blankets. 

" Don't look like anything at all," objected Perry 
gloomily. 

"No," said Mrs. Nolak; "you see you got to have 
two people." 

A solution flashed upon Perry. 

"You got a date to-night?" 

"Oh, I couldn't possibly- 

"Oh, come on," said Perry encouragingly. "Sure 
you can ! Here ! Be good sport, and climb into these 
hind legs." 

With difficulty he located them, and extended their 
yawning depths ingratiatingly. But Mrs. Nolak seemed 
loath. She backed perversely away. 

"Oh, no ' 

"C'm on ! You can be the front if you want to. Or 
we'll flip a coin." 

"Oh, no " 

"Make it worth your while." 

Mrs. Nolak set her lips firmly together. 

"Now you just stop!" she said with no coyness im- 
plied. "None of the gentlemen ever acted up this 
way before. My husband 

"You got a husband?" demanded Perry. "Where 
is he?" 



THE CAMEL'S BACK 37 

"He's home." 

"Wha's telephone number?" 

After considerable parley he obtained the telephone 
number pertaining to the Nolak penates and got into 
communication with that small, weary voice he had 
heard once before that day. But Mr. Nolak, though 
taken off his guard and somewhat confused by Perry's 
brilliant flow of logic, stuck staunchly to his point. He 
refused firmly, but with dignity, to help out Mr. Park- 
hurst in the capacity of back part of a camel. 

Having rung off, or rather having been rung off on, 
Perry sat down on a three-legged stool to think it over. 
He named over to himself those friends on whom he 
might call, and then his mind paused as Betty Medill's 
name hazily and sorrowfully occurred to him. He had 
a sentimental thought. He would ask her. Their love 
affair was over, but she could not refuse this last re- 
quest. Surely it was not much to ask to help him 
keep up his end of social obligation for one short night. 
And if she insisted, she could be the front part of the 
camel and he would go as the back. His magnanimity 
pleased him. His mind even turned to rosy-colored 
dreams of a tender reconciliation inside the camel 
there hidden away from all the world. . . . 

"Now you'd better decide right off." 

The bourgeois voice of Mrs. Nolak broke in upon his 
mellow fancies and roused him to action. He went to 
the phone and called up the Medill house. Miss Betty 
was out; had gone out to dinner. 

Then, when all seemed lost, the camel's back wandered 
curiously into the store. He was a dilapidated indi- 
vidual with a cold in his head and a general trend about 
him of downwardness. His cap was pulled down low 
on his head, and his chin was pulled down low on his 
chest, his coat hung down to his shoes, he looked run- 



38 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

down, down at the heels, and Salvation Army to the 
contrary down and out. He said that he was the 
taxicab-driver that the gentleman had hired at the 
Clarendon Hotel. He had been instructed to wait 
outside, but he had waited some time, and a suspicion 
had grown upon him that the gentleman had gone out 
the back way with purpose to defraud him gentlemen 
sometimes did so he had come in. He sank down 
onto the three-legged stool. 

"Wanta go to a party?" demanded Perry sternly. 

"I gotta work/' answered the taxi-driver lugubriously. 
"I gotta keep my job." 

"It's a very good party." 

"'S a very good job." 

"Come on !" urged Perry. "Be a good fella. See- 
it's pretty !" He held the camel up and the taxi-driver 
looked at it cynically. 

"Huh!" 

Perry searched feverishly among the folds of the cloth. 

"See!" he cried enthusiastically, holding up a selec- 
tion of folds. "This is your part. You don't even 
have to talk. All you have to do is to walk and sit 
down occasionally. You do all the sitting down. 
Think of it. I'm on my feet all the time and you can 
sit down some of the tune. The only time / can sit 
down is when we're lying down, and you can sit down 
when oh, any time. See ? " 

"What's 'at thing?" demanded the individual dubi- 
ously. "A shroud?" 

"Not at all," said Perry indignantly. "It's a camel." 

"Huh?" 

Then Perry mentioned a sum of money, and the con- 
versation left the land of grunts and assumed a practical 
tinge. Perry and the taxi-driver tried on the camel in 
front of the mirror. 



THE CAMEL'S BACK 39 

"You can't see it," explained Perry, peering anxiously 
out through the eyeholes, "but honestly, ole man, you 
look sim'ly great ! Honestly !" 

A grunt from the hump acknowledged this somewhat 
dubious compliment. 

"Honestly, you look great!" repeated Perry enthusi- 
astically. "Move round a little." 

The hind legs moved forward, giving the effect of 
a huge cat-camel hunching his back preparatory to a 
spring. 

"No; move sideways." 

The earners hips went neatly out of joint; a hula 
dancer would have writhed in envy. 

"Good, isn't it?" demanded Perry, turning to Mrs. 
Nolak for approval. 

"It looks lovely," agreed Mrs. Nolak. 

"We'll take it," said Perry. 

The bundle was stowed under Perry's arm and they 
left the shop. 

"Go to the party!" he commanded as he took his 
seat in the back. 

"What party?" 

"Fanzy-dress party." 

"Where'bouts is it?" 

This presented a new problem. Perry tried to re- 
member, but the names of all those who had given 
parties during the holidays danced confusedly before 
his eyes. He could ask Mrs. Nolak, but on looking 
out the window he saw that the shop was dark. Mrs. 
Nolak had already faded out, a little black smudge far 
down the snowy street. 

"Drive uptown," directed Perry with fine confidence. 
"If you see a party, stop. Otherwise I'll tell you when 
we get there." 

He fell into a hazy daydream and his thoughts wan- 



40 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

dered again to Betty he imagined vaguely that they 
had had a disagreement because she refused to go to the 
party as the back part of the camel. He was just 
slipping off into a chilly doze when he was wakened by 
the taxi-driver opening the door and shaking him by the 
arm. 

"Here we are, maybe." 

Perry looked out sleepily. A striped awning led from 
the curb up to a spreading gray stone house, from 
which issued the low d rummy whine of expensive 
jazz. He recognized the Howard Tate house. 

"Sure," he said emphatically; " 'at's it! Tate's 
party to-night. Sure, everybody's goin'." 

"Say," said the individual anxiously after another 
look at the awning, "you sure these people ain't gonna 
romp on me for comin' here ?" 

Perry drew himself up with dignity. 

" 'F anybody says anything to you, just tell 'em you're 
part of my costume." 

The visualization of himself as a thing rather than a 
person seemed to reassure the individual. 

"All right," he said reluctantly. 

Perry stepped out under the shelter of the awning 
and began unrolling the camel. 

"Let's go," he commanded. 

Several minutes later a melancholy, hungry-looking 
camel, emitting clouds of smoke from his mouth and 
from the tip of his noble hump, might have been seen 
crossing the threshhold of the Howard Tate residence, 
passing a startled footman without so much as a snort, 
and heading directly for the main stairs that led up to 
the ballroom. The beast walked with a peculiar gait 
which varied between an uncertain lockstep and a 
stampede but can best be described by the word 



THE CAMEL'S BACK 41 

" halting." The camel had a halting gait and as he 
walked he alternately elongated and contracted like a 
gigantic concertina. 

in 

The Howard Tates are, as every one who lives in To- 
ledo knows, the most formidable people in town. Mrs. 
Howard Tate was a Chicago Todd before she became a 
Toledo Tate, and the family generally affect that con- 
scious simplicity which has begun to be the earmark of 
American aristocracy. The Tates have reached the 
stage where they talk about pigs and farms and look at 
you icy-eyed if you are not amused. They have begun 
to prefer retainers rather than friends as dinner guests, 
spend a lot of money in a quiet way, and, having lost 
all sense of competition, are in process of growing quite 
dull. 

The dance this evening was for little Millicent 
Tate, and though all ages were represented, the dan- 
cers were mostly from school and college the youn- 
ger married crowd was at the Townsends' circus ball 
up at the Tallyho Club. Mrs. Tate was standing 
just inside the ballroom, following Millicent round 
with her eyes, and beaming whenever she caught her 
eye. Beside her were two middle-aged sycophants, 
who were saying what a perfectly exquisite child Milli- 
cent was. It was at this moment that Mrs. Tate was 
grasped firmly by the skirt and her youngest daughter, 
Emily, aged eleven, hurled herself with an "Oof!" into 
her mother's arms. 

"Why, Emily, what's the trouble?" 

"Mamma," said Emily, wild-eyed but voluble, 
"there's something out on the stairs." 



42 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

"What?" 

"There's a thing out on the stairs, mamma. I think 
it's a big dog, mamma, but it doesn't look like a dog." 

"What do you mean, Emily ?" 

The sycophants waved their heads sympatheti- 
cally. 

"Mamma, it looks like a like a camel." 

Mrs. Tate laughed. 

"You saw a mean old shadow, dear, that's all." 

" No, I didn't. No, it was some kind of thing, mamma 
big. I was going down-stairs to see if there were any 
more people, and this dog or something, he was coming 
up-stairs. Kinda funny, mamma, like he was lame. 
And then he saw me and gave a sort of growl, and then 
he slipped at the top of the landing, and I ran." 

Mrs. Tate's laugh faded. 

"The child must have seen something," she said. 

The sycophants agreed that the child must have seen 
something and suddenly all three women took an in- 
stinctive step away from the door as the sounds of 
muffled steps were audible just outside. 

And then three startled gasps rang out as a dark 
brown form rounded the corner, and they saw what 
was apparently a huge beast looking down at them 
hungrily. 

"Oof!" cried Mrs. Tate. 

"O-o-oh!" cried the ladies in a chorus. 

The camel suddenly humped his back, and the gasps 
turned to shrieks. 

"Oh look!" 

"What is it?" 

The dancing stopped, but the dancers hurrying 
over got quite a different impression of the invader; 
in fact, the young people immediately suspected that 



THE CAMEL'S BACK 43 

it was a stunt, a hired entertainer come to amuse 
the party. The boys in long trousers looked at it 
rather disdainfully, and sauntered over with their 
hands in their pockets, feeling that their intelligence 
was being insulted. But the girls uttered little shouts 
of glee. 

" It's a camel!" 

"Well, if he isn't the funniest!" 

The camel stood there uncertainly, swaying slightly 
from side to side, and seeming to take in the room in a 
careful, appraising glance; then as if he had come to an 
abrupt decision he turned and ambled swiftly out the 
door. 

Mr. Howard Tate had just come out of the library on 
the lower floor, and was standing chatting with a young 
man in the hall. Suddenly they heard the noise of 
shouting up-stairs, and almost immediately a succession 
of bumping sounds, followed by the precipitous appear- 
ance at the foot of the stairway of a large brown beast 
that seemed to be going somewhere in a great hurry. 

"Now what the devil!" said Mr. Tate, starting. 

The beast picked itself up not without dignity and, 
affecting an air of extreme nonchalance, as if he had 
just remembered an important engagement, started at 
a mixed gait toward the front door. In fact, his front 
legs began casually to run. 

"See here now," said Mr. Tate sternly. "Here! 
Grab it, Butterfield ! Grab it ! " 

The young man enveloped the rear of the camel 
in a pair of compelling arms, and, realizing that 
further locomotion was impossible, the front end sub- 
mitted to capture and stood resignedly in a state of 
some agitation. By this time a flood of young people 
was pouring down-stairs, and Mr. Tate, suspecting 



44 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

everything from an ingenious burglar to an escaped 
lunatic, gave crisp directions to the young man: 

"Hold him ! Lead him in here; we'll soon see." 

The camel consented to be led into the library, and Mr. 
Tate, after locking the door, took a revolver from a table 
drawer and instructed the young man to take the thing's 
head off. Then he gasped and returned the revolver 
to its hiding-place. 

"Well, Perry Parkhurst!" he exclaimed in amaze- 
ment. 

" Got the wrong party, Mr. Tate," said Perry sheep- 
ishly. "Hope I didn't scare you." 

"Well you gave us a thrill, Perry." Realization 
dawned on him. "You're bound for the Townsends' 
circus ball." 

"That's the general idea." 

"Let me introduce Mr. Butterfield, Mr. Parkhurst." 
Then turning to Perry: "Butterfield is staying with us 
for a few days." 

"I got a little mixed up," mumbled Perry. "I'm 
very sorry." 

"Perfectly all right; most natural mistake in the 
world. I've got a clown rig and I'm going down 
there myself after a while." He turned to Butter- 
field. "Better change your mind and come down with 
us." 

The young man demurred. He was going to bed. 

"Have a drink, Perry?" suggested Mr. Tate. 

"Thanks, I will." 

"And, say," continued Tate quickly, "I'd forgotten all 
about your friend here." He indicated the rear part 
of the camel. " I didn't mean to seem discourteous. Is 
it any one I know ? Bring him out." 

"It's not a friend," explained Perry hurriedly. "I 
just rented him." 



THE CAMEL'S BACK 45 

"Does he drink?" 

"Do you?" demanded Perry, twisting himself tor- 
tuously round. 

There was a faint sound of assent. 

"Sure he does!" said Mr. Tate heartily. "A really 
efficient camel ought to be able to drink enough so it'd 
last him three days." 

"Tell you," said Perry anxiously, "he isn't exactly 
dressed up enough to come out. If you give me the 
bottle I can hand it back to him and he can take his 
inside." 

From under the cloth was audible the enthusiastic 
smacking sound inspired by this suggestion. When a 
butler had appeared with bottles, glasses, and siphon 
one of the bottles was handed back; thereafter the si- 
lent partner could be heard imbibing long potations at 
frequent intervals. 

Thus passed a benign hour. At ten o'clock Mr. Tate 
decided that they'd better be starting. He donned his 
clown's costume; Perry replaced the camel's head, and 
side by side they traversed on foot the single block be- 
tween the Tate house and the Tallyho Club. 

The circus ball was in full swing. A great tent fly 
had been put up inside the ballroom and round the walls 
had been built rows of booths representing the various 
attractions of a circus side show, but these were now 
vacated and over the floor swarmed a shouting, laughing 
medley of youth and color clowns, bearded ladies, 
acrobats, bareback riders, ringmasters, tattooed men, 
and charioteers. The Townsends had determined to 
assure their party of success, so a great quantity of 
liquor had been surreptitiously brought over from 
their house and was now flowing freely. A green 
ribbon ran along the wall completely round the ball- 
room, with pointing arrows alongside and signs which 



46 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

instructed the uninitiated to " Follow the green line!" 
The green line led down to the bar, where waited 
pure punch and wicked punch and plain dark-green 
bottles. 

On the wall above the bar was another arrow, red 
and very wavy, and under it the slogan: "Now follow 
this!" 

But even amid the luxury of costume and high spirits 
represented there, the entrance of the camel created 
something of a stir, and Perry was immediately sur- 
rounded by a curious, laughing crowd attempting to 
penetrate the identity of this beast that stood by the 
wide doorway eying the dancers with his hungry, melan- 
choly gaze. 

And then Perry saw Betty standing in front of a 
booth, talking to a comic policeman. She was dressed 
in the costume of an Egyptian snake-charmer: her 
tawny hair was braided and drawn through brass 
rings, the effect crowned with a glittering Oriental tiara. 
Her fair face was stained to a warm olive glow and on 
her arms and the half moon of her back writhed 
painted serpents with single eyes of venomous green. 
Her feet were in sandals and her skirt was slit to the 
knees, so that when she walked one caught a glimpse 
of other slim serpents painted just above her bare an- 
kles. Wound about her neck was a glittering cobra. 
Altogether a charming costume one that caused the 
more nervous among the older women to shrink away 
from her when she passed, and the more troublesome 
ones to make great talk about "shouldn't be allowed" 
and "perfectly disgraceful." 

But Perry, peering through the uncertain eyes of 
the camel, saw only her face, radiant, animated, and 
glowing with excitement, and her arms and shoulders, 
whose mobile, expressive gestures made her always the 
outstanding figure in any group. He was fascinated 



THE CAMEL'S BACK 47 

and his fascination exercised a sobering effect on him. 
With a growing clarity the events of the day came back 
rage rose within him, and with a half-formed inten- 
tion of taking her away from the crowd he started toward 
her or rather he elongated slightly, for he had neglected 
to issue the preparatory command necessary to locomo- 
tion. 

But at this point fickle Kismet, who for a day had 
played with him bitterly and sardonically, decided to 
reward him in full for the amusement he had afforded 
her. Kismet turned the tawny eyes of the snake- 
charmer to the camel. Kismet led her to lean toward 
the man beside her and say, "Who's that? That 
camel ?" 

"Darned if I know." 

But a little man named Warburton, who knew it all, 
found it necessary to hazard an opinion: 

"It came in with Mr. Tate. I think part of it's 
probably Warren Butterfield, the architect from New 
York, who's visiting the Tates." 

Something stirred in Betty Medill that age-old in- 
terest of the provincial girl in the visiting man. 

"Oh," she said casually after a slight pause. 

At the end of the next dance Betty and her partner 
finished up within a few feet of the camel. With 
the informal audacity that was the key-note of the 
evening she reached out and gently rubbed the camel's 
nose. 

"Hello, old camel." 

The camel stirred uneasily. 

"You 'fraid of me?" said Betty, lifting her eyebrows 
in reproof. "Don't be. You see I'm a snake-charmer, 
but I'm pretty good at camels too." 

The camel bowed very low and some one made the 
obvious remark about beauty and the beast. 

Mrs. Townsend approached the group. 



48 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

"Well,Mr.Butterfield,"she said helpfully, " I wouldn't 
have recognized you." 

Perry bowed again and smiled gleefully behind his 
mask. 

"And who is this with you ?" she inquired. 

"Oh," said Perry, his voice muffled by the thick cloth 
and quite unrecogni/aMe, "he isn't a fellow, Mrs. 
Townsend. He's just part of my costume." 

Mrs. Townsend laughed and moved away. Perry 
turned again to Betty. 

"So," he thought, "this is how much she cares! 
On the very day of our final rupture she starts a flirta- 
tion with another man an absolute stranger." 

On an impulse he gave her a soft nudge with his 
shoulder and waved his head suggestively toward the 
hall, making it clear that he desired her to leave her 
partner and accompany him. 

"By-by, Rus," she called to her partner. "This old 
camel's got me. Where we going, Prince of Beasts ?" 

The noble animal made no rejoinder, but stalked 
gravely along in the direction of a secluded nook on the 
side stairs. 

There she seated herself, and the camel, after some 
seconds of confusion which included gruff orders and 
sounds of a heated dispute going on in his interior, 
placed himself beside her his hind legs stretching out 
uncomfortably across two steps. 

"Well, old egg," said Betty cheerfully, "how do you 
like our happy party?" 

The old egg indicated that he liked it by rolling his 
head ecstatically and executing a gleeful kick with his 
hoofs. 

"This is the first time that I ever had a t6te-a-tete 
with a man's valet 'round" she pointed to the hind 
legs "or whatever that is." 



THE CAMEL'S BACK 49 

"Oh," mumbled Perry, "he's deaf and blind." 

"I should think you'd feel rather handicapped you 
can't very well toddle, even if you want to." 

The camel hung his head lugubriously. 

"I wish you'd say something," continued Betty 
sweetly. "Say you like me, camel. Say you think 
I'm beautiful. Say you'd like to belong to a pretty 
snake-charmer." 

The camel would. 

"Will you dance with me, camel?" 

The camel would try. 

Betty devoted half an hour to the camel. She de- 
voted at least half an hour to all visiting men. It was 
usually sufficient. When she approached a new man 
the current debutantes were accustomed to scatter 
right and left like a close column deploying before a 
machine-gun. And so to Perry Parkhurst was awarded 
the unique privilege of seeing his love as others saw her. 
He was flirted with violently ! 

IV 

This paradise of frail foundation was broken into by 
the sounds of a general ingress to the ballroom; the 
cotillion was beginning. Betty and the camel joined 
the crowd, her brown hand resting lightly on his 
shoulder, defiantly symbolizing her complete adoption 
of him. 

When they entered the couples were already seating 
themselves at tables round the walls, and Mrs. Town- 
send, resplendent as a super bareback rider with 
rather too rotund calves, was standing in the centre 
with the ringmaster in charge of arrangements. At 
a signal to the band every one rose and began to 
dance. 



50 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

" Isn't it just slick!" sighed Betty. "Do you think 
you can possibly dance ? " 

Perry nodded enthusiastically. He felt suddenly 
exuberant. After all, he was here incognito talking to 
his love he could wink patronizingly at the world. 

So Perry danced the cotillion. I say danced, but that 
is stretching the word far beyond the wildest dreams of 
the jazziest terpsichorean. He suffered his partner to 
put her hands on his helpless shoulders and pull him 
here and there over the floor while he hung his huge 
head docilely over her shoulder and made futile dummy 
motions with his feet. His hind legs danced in a manner 
all their own, chiefly by hopping first on one foot and 
then on the other. Never being sure whether dancing 
was going on or not, the hind legs played safe by going 
through a series of steps whenever the music started 
playing. So the spectacle was frequently presented of 
the front part of the camel standing at ease and the rear 
keeping up a constant energetic motion calculated to 
rouse a sympathetic perspiration in any soft-hearted 
observer. 

He was frequently favored. He danced first with a 
tall lady covered with straw who announced jovially 
that she was a bale of hay and coyly begged him not to 
eat her. 

"I'd like to; you're so sweet," said the camel gal- 
lantly. 

Each tune the ringmaster shouted his call of "Men 
up ! " he lumbered ferociously for Betty with the card- 
board wienerwurst or the photograph of the bearded 
lady or whatever the favor chanced to be. Sometimes 
he reached her first, but usually his rushes were unsuc- 
cessful and resulted in intense interior arguments. 

"For Heaven's sake," Perry would snarl fiercely be- 
tween his clenched teeth, "get a little pep! I could 



THE CAMEL'S BACK 51 

have gotten her that time if you'd picked your feet 
up." 

"Well, gimme a little warnin' !" 

"I did, darn you." 

"I can't see a dog-gone thing in here." 

"All you have to do is follow me. It's just like drag- 
ging a load of sand round to walk with you." 

"Maybe you wanta try back here." 

"You shut up! If these people found you in this 
room they'd give you the worst beating you ever had. 
They'd take your taxi license away from you !" 

Perry surprised himself by the ease with which he 
made this monstrous threat, but it seemed to have a 
soporific influence on his companion, for he gave out an 
"aw gwan" and subsided into abashed silence. 

The ringmaster mounted to the top of the piano and 
waved his hand for silence. 

"Prizes ! " he cried. " Gather round ! " 

"Yea! Prizes!" 

Self-consciously the circle swayed forward. The 
rather pretty girl who had mustered the nerve to come 
as a bearded lady trembled with excitement, thinking 
to be rewarded for an evening's hideousness. The man 
who had spent the afternoon having tattoo marks painted 
on him skulked on the edge of the crowd, blushing furi- 
ously when any one told him he was sure to get it. 

"Lady and gent performers of this circus," announced 
the ringmaster jovially, "I am sure we will all agree 
that a good time has been had by all. We will now be- 
stow honor where honor is due by bestowing the prizes. 
Mrs. Townsend has asked me to bestow the prizes. 
Now, fellow performers, the first prize is for that lady 
who has displayed this evening the most striking, be- 
coming" at this point the bearded lady sighed re- 
signedly "and original costume." Here the bale of 



52 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

hay pricked up her ears. "Now I am sure that the 
decision which has been agreed upon will be unanimous 
with all here present. The first prize goes to Miss Betty 
Medill, the charming Egyptian snake-charmer." 

There was a burst of applause, chiefly masculine, 
and Miss Betty Medill, blushing beautifully through her 
olive paint, was passed up to receive her award. With 
a tender glance the ringmaster handed down to her a 
huge bouquet of orchids. 

"And now," he continued, looking round him, "the 
other prize is for that man who has the most amusing 
and original costume. This prize goes without dispute 
to a guest in our midst, a gentleman who is visiting here 
but whose stay we all hope will be long and merry in 
short, to the noble camel who has entertained us all by 
his hungry look and his brilliant dancing throughout 
the evening." 

He ceased and there was a violent clapping and yea- 
ing, for it was a popular choice. The prize, a large box 
of cigars, was put aside for the camel, as he was ana- 
tomically unable to accept it in person. 

"And now," continued the ringmaster, "we will 
wind up the cotillion with the marriage of Mirth to 
Folly! 

"Form for the grand wedding march, the beautiful 
snake-charmer and the noble camel in front ! " 

Betty skipped forward cheerily and wound an olive 
arm round the camel's neck. Behind them formed the 
procession of little boys, little girls, country jakes, fat 
ladies, thin men, sword-swallowers, wild men of Borneo, 
and armless wonders, many of them well in their cups, 
all of them excited and happy and dazzled by the flow 
of light and color round them, and by the familiar faces, 
strangely iinfamiliar under bizarre wigs and barbaric 
paint. The voluptuous chords of the wedding march 



THE CAMEL'S BACK 53 

done in blasphemous syncopation issued in a delirious 
blend from the trombones and saxophones and the 
march began. 

" Aren't you glad, camel?" demanded Betty sweetly 
as they stepped off. " Aren't you glad we're going to 
be married and you're going to belong to the nice snake- 
charmer ever afterward?" 

The camel's front legs pranced, expressing excessive 
joy. 

"Minister! Minister! Where's the minister?" cried 
voices out of the revel. "Who's going to be the clergy- 
man?" 

The head of Jumbo, obese negro, waiter at the Tally- 
ho Club for many years, appeared rashly through a half- 
opened pantry door. 

"Oh, Jumbo!" 

" Get old Jumbo. He's the fella ! " 

' ' Come on, Jumbo. How 'bout marrying us a couple ? " 

"Yea!" 

Jumbo was seized by four comedians, stripped of his 
apron, and escorted to a raised dais at the head of the 
ball. There his collar was removed and replaced back 
side forward with ecclesiastical effect. The parade sep- 
arated into two lines, leaving an aisle for the bride and 
groom. 

"Lawdy, man," roared Jumbo, "Ah got ole Bible V 
ev'ythin', sho miff." 

He produced a battered Bible from an interior pocket. 

" Yea ! Jumbo's got a Bible ! " 

"Razor, too, I'll bet!" 

Together the snake-charmer and the camel ascended 
the cheering aisle and stopped in front of Jumbo. 

"Where's yo license, camel?" 

A man near by prodded Perry. 

"Give him a piece of paper. Anything'll do." 



54 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

Perry fumbled confusedly in his pocket, found a 
folded paper, and pushed it out through the camel's 
mouth. Holding it upside down Jumbo pretended to 
scan it earnestly. 

"Dis yeah's a special camel's license/' he said. "Get 
you ring ready, camel." 

Inside the camel Perry turned round and addressed 
his worse half. 

"Gimme a ring, for Heaven's sake!" 

"I ain't got none," protested a weary voice. 

"You have. I saw it." 

"I ain't goin* to take it offen my hand." 

"If you don't I'll kill you." 

There was a gasp and Perry felt a huge affair of 
rhinestone and brass inserted into his hand. 

Again he was nudged from the outside. 

"Speak up!" 

"I do!" cried Perry quickly. 

He heard Betty's responses given in a debonair tone, 
and even in this burlesque the sound thrilled him. 

Then he had pushed the rhinestone through a tear 
in the earners coat and was slipping it on her finger, 
muttering ancient and historic words after Jumbo. 
He didn't want any one to know about this ever. His 
one idea was to slip away without having to disclose 
his identity, for Mr. Tate had so far kept his secret 
well. A dignified young man, Perry and this might 
injure his infant law practice. 

"Embrace the bride!" 

"Unmask, camel, and kiss her!" 

Instinctively his heart beat high as Betty turned to 
him laughingly and began to stroke the card-board 
muzzle. He felt his self-control giving way, he 
longed to surround her with his arms and declare his 
identity and kiss those lips that smiled only a foot 



THE CAMEL'S BACK 55 

away when suddenly the laughter and applause round 
them died off and a curious hush fell over the hall. 
Perry and Betty looked up in surprise. Jumbo had 
given vent to a huge " Hello!" in such a startled 
voice that all eyes were bent on him. 

"Hello!" he said again. He had turned round the 
camel's marriage license, which he had been holding up- 
side down, produced spectacles, and was studying it 
agonizingly. 

"Why," he exclaimed, and in the pervading silence 
his words were heard plainly by every one in the room, 
"this yeah's a sho-nuff marriage permit." 

"What?" 

"Huh?" 

"Say it again, Jumbo!" 

"Sure you can read?" 

Jumbo waved them to silence and Perry's blood 
burned to fire in his veins as he realized the break he 
had made. 

"Yassuh!" repeated Jumbo. "This yeah's a sho- 
nuff license, and the pa' ties concerned one of 'em is dis 
yeah young lady, Miz Betty Medill, and th' other's 
Mistah Perry Pa'khurst." 

There was a general gasp, and a low rumble broke out 
as all eyes fell on the camel. Betty shrank away 
from him quickly, her tawny eyes giving out sparks 
of fury. 

"Is you Mistah Pa'khurst, you camel?" 

Perry made no answer. The crowd pressed up closer 
and stared at him. He stood frozen rigid with embar- 
rassment, his cardboard face still hungry and sardonic 
as he regarded the ominous Jumbo. 

"Y'all bettah speak up!" said Jumbo slowly, 
"this yeah's a mighty serious mattah. Outside mah 
duties at this club ah happens to be a sho-nuff minister 



56 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

in the Firs' Cullud Baptis' Church. It done look to me 
as though y'all is gone an' got married." 



The scene that followed will go down forever in the 
annals of the Tailyho Club. Stout matrons fainted, one 
hundred per cent Americans swore, wild-eyed debutantes 
babbled in lightning groups instantly formed and in- 
stantly dissolved, and a great buzz of chatter, virulent yet 
oddly subdued, hummed through the chaotic ballroom. 
Feverish youths swore they would kill Perry or Jumbo 
or themselves or some one, and the Baptis' preacheh 
was besieged by a tempestuous covey of clamorous 
amateur lawyers, asking questions, making threats, de- 
manding precedents, ordering the bonds annulled, and 
especially trying to ferret out any hint of prearrange- 
ment in what had occurred. 

In the corner Mrs. Townsend was crying softly on 
the shoulder of Mr. Howard Tate, who was trying 
vainly to comfort her; they were exchanging "all my 
fault's" volubly and voluminously. Outside on a snow- 
r covered walk Mr. Cyrus Medill, the Aluminum Man, 
was being paced slowly up and down between two 
brawny charioteers, giving vent now to a string of 
unrepeatables, now to wild pleadings that they'd just 
let him get at Jumbo. He was facetiously attired for 
the evening as a wild man of Borneo, and the most 
exacting stage-manager would have acknowledged any 
improvement in casting the part to be quite impos- 
sible. 

Meanwhile the two principals held the real centre of 
the stage. Betty Medill or was it Betty Parkhurst ? 
storming furiously, was surrounded by the plainer girls 
the prettier ones were too busy talking about her to 



THE CAMEL'S BACK 57 

pay much attention to her and over on the other side 
of the hall stood the camel, still intact except for his 
headpiece, which dangled pathetically on his chest. 
Perry was earnestly engaged in making protestations of 
his innocence to a ring of angry, puzzled men. Every 
few minutes, just as he had apparently proved his case, 
some one would mention the marriage certificate, and 
the inquisition would begin again. 

A girl named Marion Cloud, considered the second 
best belle of Toledo, changed the gist of the situation 
by a remark she made to Betty. 

"Well/' she said maliciously, "it'll all blow over, 
dear. The courts will annul it without question." 

Betty's angry tears dried miraculously in her eyes, 
her lips shut tight together, and she looked stonily at 
Marion. Then she rose and, scattering her sympathizers 
right and left, walked directly across the room to Perry, 
who stared at her in terror. Again silence crept down 
upon the room. 

"Will you have the decency to grant me five minutes' 
conversation or wasn't that included in your plans?" 

He nodded, his mouth unable to form words. 

Indicating coldly that he was to follow her she walked 
out into the hall with her chin uptilted and headed for 
the privacy of one of the little card-rooms. 

Perry started after her, but was brought to a jerky 
halt by the failure of his hind legs to function. 

"You stay here!" he commanded savagely. 

"I can't," whined a voice from the hump, "unless 
you get out first and let me get out." 

Perry hesitated, but unable any longer to tolerate 
the eyes of the curious crowd he muttered a command 
and the camel moved carefully from the room on its 
four legs. 

Betty was waiting for him. 



58 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

"Well," she began furiously, "you see what you've 
done! You and that crazy license! I told you you 
shouldn't have gotten it ! " 

"My dear girl, I " 

"Don't say 'dear girl' to me! Save that for your 
real wife if you ever get one after this disgraceful per- 
formance. And don't try to pretend it wasn't all ar- 
ranged. You know you gave that colored waiter money ! 
You know you did ! Do you mean to say you didn't 
try to marry me ? " 

"No of course " 

"Yes, you'd better admit it! You tried it, and now 
what are you going to do ? Do you know my father's 
nearly crazy? It'll serve you right if he tries to kill 
you. He'll take his gun and put some cold steel in you. 
Even if this wed this thing can be annulled it'll hang 
over me all the rest of my life !" 

Perry could not resist quoting softly: "'Oh, camel, 
wouldn't you like to belong to the pretty snake-charmer 
for all your- 

"Shut up!" cried Betty. 

There was a pause. 

"Betty," said Perry finally, "there's only one thing 
to do that will really get us out clear. That's for you 
to marry me." 

"Marry you!" 

"Yes. Really it's the only " 

"You shut up! I wouldn't marry you if if 

"I know. If I were the last man on earth. But if 
you care anything about your reputation " 

"Reputation!" she cried. "You're a nice one to 
think about my reputation now. Why didn't you think 
about my reputation before you hired that horrible 
Jumbo to to 

Perry tossed up his hands hopelessly. 



THE CAilEL'S BACK 59 

"Very well. I'll do anything you want. Lord knows 
I renounce all claims ! " 

"But," said a new voice, "I don't." 

Perry and Betty started, and she put her hand to her 
heart. 

"For Heaven's sake, what was that?" 

"It's me," said the camel's back. 

In a minute Perry had whipped off the camel's skin, 
and a lax, limp object, his clothes hanging on him 
damply, his hand clenched tightly on an almost empty 
bottle, stood defiantly before them. 

"Oh," cried Betty, "you brought that object in here 
to frighten me ! You told me he was deaf that awful 
person ! " 

The camel's back sat down on a chair with a sigh of 
satisfaction. 

"Don't talk 'at way about me, lady. I ain't no per- 
son. I'm your husband." 

"Husband!" 

The cry was wrung simultaneously from Betty and 
Perry. 

"Why, sure. I'm as much your husband as that gink 
is. The smoke didn't marry you to the camel's front. 
He married you to the whole camel. Why, that's my 
ring you got on your finger!" 

With a little yelp she snatched the ring from her finger 
and flung it passionately at the floor. 

"What's all this?" demanded Perry dazedly. 

" Jes' that you better fix me an' fix me right. If you 
don't I'm a-gonna have the same claim you got to bein' 
married to her ! " 

"That's bigamy," said Perry, turning gravely to 
Betty. 

Then came the supreme moment of Perry's evening, 
the ultimate chance on which he risked his fortunes. He 



60 TALES OF THF JAZZ AGE 

rose and looked first at Betty, where she sat weakly, 
aghast at this new complication, and then at the indi- 
vidual who swayed from side to side on his chair, un- 
certainly, menacingly. 

"Very well," said Perry slowly to the individual, 
"you can have her. Betty, I'm going to prove to you 
that as far as I'm concerned our^ marriage was entirely 
accidental. I'm going to renounce utterly my rights to 
have you as my wife, and give you to to the man 
whose ring you wear your lawful husband." 

There was a pause and four horror-stricken eyes 
were turned on him. 

"Good-by, Betty," he said brokenly. "Don't for- 
get me in your new-found happiness. I'm going to 
leave for the Far West on the morning train. Think of 
me kindly, Betty." 

With a last glance at them he turned and his head 
rested on his chest as his hand touched the door-knob. 

"Good-by," he repeated. He turned the door-knob. 

But at this sound the snakes and silk and tawny hair 
precipitated themselves violently toward him. 

"Oh, Perry, don't leave me! Perry, Perry, take me 
with you!" 

Her tears flowed damply on his neck. Calmly he 
folded his arms about her. 

"I don't care," she cried. "I love you and if you can 
wake up a minister at this hour and have it done over 
again I'll go West with you." 

Over her shoulder the front part of the camel looked 
at the back part of the camel and they exchanged a 
particularly subtle, esoteric sort of wink that only true 
camels can understand. 



MAY DAY 

THERE had been a war fought and won and the great 
city of the conquering people was crossed with trium- 
phal arches and vivid with thrown flowers of white, 
red, and rose. All through the long spring days the re- 
turning soldiers marched up the chief highway behind 
the strump of drums and the joyous, resonant wind of 
the brasses, while merchants and clerks left their bick- 
erings and figurings and, crowding to the windows, 
turned their white-bunched faces gravely upon the pass- 
ing battalions. 

Never had there been such splendor in the great city, 
for the victorious war had brought plenty in its train, 
and the merchants had flocked thither from the South 
and West with their households to taste of all the lus- 
cious feasts and witness the lavish entertainments pre- 
pared and to buy for their women furs against the next 
winter and bags of golden mesh and varicolored slip- 
pers of silk and silver and rose satin and cloth of gold. 

So gaily and noisily were the peace and prosperity 
impending hymned by the scribes and poets of the con- 
quering people that more and more spenders had gath- 
ered from the provinces to drink the wine of excitement, 
and faster and faster did the merchants dispose of their 
trinkets and slippers until they sent up a mighty cry 
for more trinkets and more slippers in order that they 
might give in barter what was demanded of them. 
Some even of them flung up their hands helplessly, 
shouting: 

"Alas 1 1 have no more slippers ! and alas ! I have no 

61 



62 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

more trinkets ! May Heaven help me, for I know not 
what I shall do!" 

But no one listened to their great outcry, for the 
throngs were far too busy day by day, the foot-soldiers 
trod jauntily the highway and all exulted because the 
young men returning were pure and brave, sound of 
tooth and pink of cheek, and the young women of the 
land were virgins and comely both of face and of figure. 

So during all this time there were many adventures 
that happened in the great city, and, of these, several 
or perhaps one are here set down. 



At nine o'clock on the morning of the first of May, 
1919, a young man spoke to the room clerk at the Bilt- 
more Hotel, asking if Mr. Philip Dean were registered 
there, and if so, could he be connected with Mr. Dean's 
rooms. The inquirer was dressed in a well-cut, shabby 
suit. He was small, slender, and darkly handsome; 
his eyes were framed above with unusually long eye- 
lashes and below with the blue semicircle of ill health, 
this latter effect heightened by an unnatural glow which 
colored his face like a low, incessant fever. 

Mr. Dean was staying there. The young man was 
directed to a telephone at the side. 

After a second his connection was made; a sleepy 
voice hello'd from somewhere above. 

"Mr. Dean?" this very eagerly "it's Gordon, 
Phil. It's Gordon Sterrett. I'm down-stairs. I heard 
you were in New York and I had a hunch you'd be here." 

The sleepy voice became gradually enthusiastic. Well, 
how was Gordy, old boy ! Well, he certainly was sur- 
prised and tickled ! Would Gordy come right up, for 
Pete's sake ! 



MAY DAY 63 

A few minutes later Philip Dean, dressed in blue silk 
pajamas, opened his door and the two young men greeted 
each other with a half-embarrassed exuberance. They 
were both about twenty-four, Yale graduates of the year 
before the war; but there the resemblance stopped 
abruptly. Dean was blond, ruddy, and rugged under his 
thin pajamas. Everything about him radiated fitness 
and bodily comfort. He smiled frequently, showing 
large and prominent teeth. 

"I was going to look you up," he cried enthusiasti- 
cally. "I'm taking a couple of weeks off. If you'll sit 
down a sec I'll be right with you. Going to take a 
shower." 

As he vanished into the bathroom his visitor's dark 
eyes roved nervously around the room, resting for a 
moment on a great English travelling bag in the corner 
and on a family of thick silk shirts littered on the chairs 
amid impressive neckties and soft woollen socks. 

Gordon rose and, picking up one of the shirts, gave it 
a minute examination. It was of very heavy silk, yel- 
low, with a pale blue stripe and there were nearly a 
dozen of them. He stared involuntarily at his own 
shirt-cuffs they were ragged and linty at the edges and 
soiled to a faint gray. Dropping the silk shirt, he held 
his coat-sleeves down and worked the frayed shirt-cuffs 
up till they were out of sight. Then he went to the 
mirror and looked at himself with listless, unhappy 
interest. His tie, of former glory, was faded and thumb- 
creased it served no longer to hide the jagged button- 
holes of his collar. He thought, quite without amuse- 
ment, that only three years before he had received a 
scattering vote in the senior elections at college for being 
the best-dressed man in his class. 

Dean emerged from the bathroom polishing his body. 

"Saw an old friend of yours last night/' he remarked. 



64 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

"Passed her in the lobby and couldn't think of her name 
to save my neck. That girl you brought up to New 
Haven senior year." 

Gordon started. 

" Edith Bradin ? That whom you mean ? " 

"'At's the one. Damn good looking. She's still 
sort of a pretty doll you know what I mean : as if you 
touched her she'd srn 

He surveyed his shining self complacently in the 
mirror, smiled faintly, exposing a section of teeth. 

"She must be twenty-three anyway," he continued. 

"Twenty- two last month," said Gordon absently. 

"What? Oh, last month. Well, I imagine she's 
down for the Gamma Psi dance. Did you know we're 
having a Yale Gamma Psi dance to-night at Delmoni- 
co's? You better come up, Gordy. Half of New 
Haven'll probably be there. I can get you an invita- 
tion." 

Draping himself reluctantly in fresh underwear, Dean 
lit a cigarette and sat down by the open window, in- 
specting his calves and knees under the morning sun- 
shine which poured into the room. 

"Sit down, Gordy," he suggested, "and tell me all 
about what you've been doing and what you're doing 
now and everything." 

Gordon collapsed unexpectedly upon the bed; lay 
there inert and spiritless. His mouth, which habitually 
dropped a little open when his face was in repose, be- 
came suddenly helpless and pathetic. 

"What's the matter ?" asked Dean quickly. 

"Oh, God!" 

"What's the matter?" 

"Every God damn thing in the world," he said miser- 
ably. "I've absolutely gone to pieces, Phil. I'm all 



in." 



MAY DAY 65 

"Huh?" 

"I'm all in." His voice was shaking. 

Dean scrutinized him more closely with appraising 
blue eyes. 

"You certainly look all shot." 

"I am. I've made a hell of a mess of everything." 
He paused. "I'd better start at the beginning or will 
it bore you?" 

"Not at all; go on." There was, however, a hesitant 
note in Dean's voice. This trip East had been planned 
for a holiday to find Gordon Sterrett in trouble exas- 
perated him a little. 

"Go on," he repeated, and then added half under his 
breath, "Get it over with." 

"Well," began Gordon unsteadily, "I got back from 
France in February, went home to Harrisburg for a 
month, and then came down to New York to get a job. 
I got one with an export company. They fired me 
yesterday." 

"Fired you?" 

" I'm coming to that, Phil. I want to tell you frankly. 
You're about the only man I can turn to in a matter like 
this. You won't mind if I just tell you frankly, will 
you, Phil?" 

Dean stiffened a bit more. The pats he was bestow- 
ing on his knees grew perfunctory. He felt vaguely that 
he was being unfairly saddled with responsibility; he 
was not even sure he wanted to be told. Though 
never surprised at finding Gordon Sterrett in mild 
difficulty, there was something in this present misery 
that repelled him and hardened him, even though it 
excited his curiosity. 

"Goon." 

"It's a girl." 

"Hm." Dean resolved that nothing was going to 



66 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

spoil his trip. If Gordon was going to be depressing, 
then he'd have to see less of Gordon. 

"Her name is Jewel Hudson," went on the distressed 
voice from the bed. "She used to be 'pure,' I guess, 
up to about a year ago. Lived here in New York 
poor family. Her people are dead now and she lives 
with an old aunt. You see it was just about the time 
I met her that everybody began to come back from 
France in droves and all I did was to welcome the 
newly arrived and go on parties with 'em. That's the 
way it started, Phil, just from being glad to see every- 
body and having them glad to see me." 

"You ought to've had more sense." 

"I know," Gordon paused, and then continued list- 
lessly. "I'm on my own now, you know, and Phil, I 
can't stand being poor. Then came this darn girl. 
She sort of fell in love with me for a while and, though I 
never intended to get so involved, I'd always seem to 
run into her somewhere. You can imagine the sort 
of work I was doing for those exporting people of 
course, I always intended to draw; do illustrating for 
magazines; there's a pile of money in it." 

"Why didn't you? You've got to buckle down if 
you want to make good," suggested Dean with cold 
formalism. 

"I tried, a little, but my stuff's crude. I've got tal- 
ent, Phil; I can draw but I just don't know how. I 
ought to go to art school and I can't afford it. Well, 
things came to a crisis about a week ago. Just as I 
was down to about my last dollar this girl began bother- 
ing me. She wants some money; claims she can make 
trouble for me if she doesn't get it." 

"Can she?" 

"I'm afraid she can. That's one reason I lost my 
job she kept calling up the office all the time, and that 



MAY DAY 67 

was sort of the last straw down there. She's got a 
letter all written to send to my family. Oh, she's got 
me, all right. I've got to have some money for her." 

There was an awkward pause. Gordon lay very still, 
his hands clenched by his side. 

"I'm all in," he continued, his voice trembling. "I'm 
half crazy, Phil. If I hadn't known you were coming 
East, I think I'd have killed myself. I want you to 
lend me three hundred dollars." 

Dean's hands, which had been patting his bare ankles, 
were suddenly quiet and the curious uncertainty play- 
ing between the two became taut and strained. 

After a second Gordon continued: 

"I've bled the family until I'm ashamed to ask for 
another nickel." 

Still Dean made no answer. 

"Jewel says she's got to have two hundred dollars." 

"Tell her where she can go." 

"Yes, that sounds easy, but she's got a couple of 
drunken letters I wrote her. Unfortunately she's not 
at all the flabby sort of person you'd expect." 

Dean made an expression of distaste. 

"I can't stand that sort of woman. You ought to 
have kept away." 

"I know," admitted Gordon wearily. 

"You've got to look at things as they are. If you 
haven't got money you've got to work and stay away 
from women." 

"That's easy for you to say," began Gordon, his eyes 
narrowing. "You've got all the money in the world." 

"I most certainly have not. My family keep darn 
close tab on what I spend. Just because I have a little 
leeway I have to be extra careful not to abuse it." 

He raised the blind and let in a further flood of sun- 
shine. 



68 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

"I'm no prig, Lord knows," he went on deliberately. 
"I like pleasure and I like a lot of it on a vacation 
like this, but you're you're in awful shape. I never 
heard you talk just this way before. You seem to be 
sort of bankrupt morally as well as financially." 

" Don't they usually go together?" 

Dean shook his head impatiently. 

"There's a regular aura about you that I don't under- 
stand. It's a sort of evil." 

"It's an air of worry and poverty and sleepless 
nights," said Gordon, rather defiantly. 

"I don't know." 

" Oh, I admit I'm depressing. I depress myself. But, 
my God, Phil, a week's rest and a new suit and some 
ready money and I'd be like like I was. Phil, I can 
draw like a streak, and you know it. But half the time 
I haven't had the money to buy decent drawing ma- 
terials and I can't draw when I'm tired and discour- 
aged and all in. With a little ready money I can take 
a few weeks off and get started." 

"How do I know you wouldn't use it on some other 
woman ? " 

"Why rub it in ?" said Gordon quietly. 

"I'm not rubbing it in. I hate to see you this way." 

"Will you lend me the money, Phil ?" 

"I can't decide right off. That's a lot of money and 
it'll be darn inconvenient for me." 

"It'll be hell for me if you can't I know I'm whining, 
and it's all my own fault but that doesn't change it." 

"When could you pay it back ?" 

This was encouraging. Gordon considered. It was 
probably wisest to be frank. 

"Of course, I could promise to send it back next 
month, but I'd better say three months. Just as 
soon as I start to sell drawings." 



MAY DAY 69 

"How do 1 know you'll sell any drawings ?" 

A new hardness in Dean's voice sent a faint chill of 
doubt over Gordon. Was it possible that he wouldn't 
get the money ? 

"I supposed you had a little confidence in me." 

"I did have but when I see you like this I begin to 
wonder." 

"Do you suppose if I wasn't at the end of my rope 
I'd come to you like this ? Do you think I'm enjoying 
it?" He broke off and bit his lip, feeling that he had 
better subdue the rising anger in his voice. After all, 
he was the suppliant. 

"You seem to manage it pretty easily," said Dean 
angrily. "You put me in the position where, if I don't 
lend it to you, I'm a sucker oh, yes, you do. And let 
me tell you it's no easy thing for me to get hold of three 
hundred dollars. My income isn't so big but that a 
slice like that won't play the deuce with it." 

He left his chair and began to dress, choosing his 
clothes carefully. Gordon stretched out his arms and 
clenched the edges of the bed, fighting back a de- 
sire to cry out. His head was splitting and whirring, 
his mouth was dry and bitter and he could feel the fever 
in his blood resolving itself into innumerable regular 
counts like a slow dripping from a roof. 

Dean tied his tie precisely, brushed his eyebrows, and 
removed a piece of tobacco from his teeth with solemnity. 
Next he filled his cigarette case, tossed the empty box 
thoughtfully into the waste basket, and settled the case 
in his vest pocket. 

"Had breakfast?" he demanded. 

"No; I don't eat it any more." 

"Well, we'll go out and have some. We'll decide 
about that money later. I'm sick of the subject. I 
came East to have a good time. 



70 TALES OF THE JAZZ 

"Let's go over to the Yale Club," he continued 
moodily, and then added with an implied reproof: 
"You've given up your job. You've got nothing else 
to do." 

"I'd have a lot to do if I had a little money," said 
Gordon pointedly. 

"Oh, for Heaven's sake drop the subject for a while \ 
No point in glooming on my whole trip. Here, here's 
some money." 

He took a five-dollar bill from his wallet and tossed 
it over to Gordon, who folded it carefully and put it 
in his pocket. There was an added spot of color in 
his cheeks, an added glow that was not fever. For 
an instant before they turned to go out their eyes met 
and in that instant each found something that made 
him lower his own glance quickly. For in that instant 
they quite suddenly and definitely hated each other. 

II 

Fifth Avenue and Forty-fourth Street swarmed with 
the noon crowd. The wealthy, happy sun glittered in 
transient gold through the thick windows of the smart 
shops, lighting upon mesh bags and purses and strings 
of pearls in gray velvet cases; upon gaudy feather fans of 
many colors; upon the laces and silks of expensive 
dresses; upon the bad paintings and the fine period 
furniture in the elaborate show rooms of interior deco- 
rators. 

Working-girls, in pairs and groups and swarms, 
loitered by these windows, choosing their future boudoirs 
from some resplendent display which included even a 
man's silk pajamas laid domestically across the bed. 
They stood in front of the jewelry stores and picked 



MAY DAY 71 

out their engagement rings, and their wedding rings 
and their platinum wrist watches, and then drifted on 
to inspect the feather fans and opera cloaks; meanwhile 
digesting the sandwiches and sundaes they had eaten 
for lunch. 

All through the crowd were men in uniform, sailors 
from the great fleet anchored in the Hudson, soldiers 
with divisional insignia from Massachusetts to Cali- 
fornia, wanting fearfully to be noticed, and finding the 
great city thoroughly fed up with soldiers unless they 
were nicely massed into pretty formations and uncom- 
fortable under the weight of a pack and rifle. 

Through this medley Dean and Gordon wandered; 
the former interested, made alert by the display of hu- 
manity at its frothiest and gaudiest; the latter reminded 
of how often he had been one of the crowd, tired, cas- 
ually fed, overworked, and dissipated. To Dean the 
struggle was significant, young, cheerful; to Gordon it 
was dismal, meaningless, endless. 

In the Yale Club they met a group of their former 
classmates who greeted the visiting Dean vociferously. 
Sitting in a semicircle of lounges and great chairs, they 
had a highball all around. 

Gordon found the conversation tiresome and intermin- 
able. They lunched together en masse, warmed with 
liquor as the afternoon began. They were all going to 
the Gamma Psi dance that night it promised to be the 
best party since the war. 

"Edith Bradin's coming," said some one to Gordon. 
" Didn't she used to be an old flame of yours? Aren't 
you both from Harrisburg ? " 

"Yes." He tried to change the subject. "I see her 
brother occasionally. He's sort of a socialistic nut. 
Runs a paper or something here in New York." 



72 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

"Not like his gay sister, eh?" continued his eager 
informant. "Well, she's coining to-night with a junior 
named Peter Himmel." 

Gordon was to meet Jewel Hudson at eight o'clock 
he had promised to have some money for her. Several 
times he glanced nervously at his wrist watch. At four, 
to his relief, Dean rose and announced that he was going 
over to Rivers Brothers to buy some collars and ties. 
But as they left the Club another of the party joined 
them, to Gordon's great dismay. Dean was in a jovial 
mood now, happy, expectant of the evening's party, 
faintly hilarious. Over in Rivers' he chose a dozen 
neckties, selecting each one after long consultations with 
the other man. Did he think narrow ties were com- 
ing back ? And wasn't it a shame that Rivers couldn't 
get any more Welsh Margotson collars? There never 
was a collar like the "Covington." 

Gordon was in something of a panic. He wanted 
the money immediately. And he was now inspired 
also with a vague idea of attending the Gamma Psi 
dance. He wanted to see Edith Edith whom he hadn't 
met since one romantic night at the Harrisburg Country 
Club just before he went to France. The affair had died, 
drowned in the turmoil of the war and quite forgotten 
in the arabesque of these three months, but a picture 
of her, poignant, debonnaire, immersed in her own in- 
consequential chatter, recurred to him unexpectedly 
and brought a hundred memories with it. It was 
Edith's face that he had cherished through college with 
a sort of detached yet affectionate admiration. He 
had loved to draw her around his room had been a 
dozen sketches of her playing golf, swimming he 
could draw her pert, arresting profile with his eyes shut. 

They left Rivers' at five- thirty and paused for a mo- 
ment on the sidewalk. 



MAY DAY 73 

"Well," said Dean genially, "I'm all set now. Think 
I'll go back to the hotel and get a shave, haircut, and 
massage." 

"Good enough," said the other man, "I think I'll 
join you." 

Gordon wondered if he was to be beaten after all. 
With difficulty he restrained himself from turning to 
the man and snarling out, "Go on away, damn you!" 
In despair he suspected that perhaps Dean had spoken 
to him, was keeping him along in order to avoid a dis- 
pute about the money. 

They went into the Biltmore a Biltmore alive with 
girls mostly from the West and South, the stellar debu- 
tantes of many cities gathered for the dance of a famous 
fraternity of a famous university. But to Gordon 
they were faces in a dream. He gathered together his 
forces for a last appeal, was about to come out with he 
knew not what, when Dean suddenly excused him- 
self to the other man and taking Gordon's arm led him 
aside. 

"Gordy," he said quickly, "Fve thought the whole 
thing over carefully and I've decided that I can't lend 
you that money. I'd like to oblige you, but I don't 
feel I ought to it'd put a crimp hi me for a month." 

Gordon, watching him dully, wondered why he had 
never before noticed how much those upper teeth pro- 
jected. 

"I'm mighty sorry, Gordon," continued Dean, 
"but that's the way it is." 

He took out his wallet and deliberately counted out 
seventy-five dollars in bills. 

"Here," he said, holding them out, "here's seventy- 
five; that makes eighty all together. That's all the 
actual cash I have with me, besides what I'll actually 
spend on the trip." 



74 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

Gordon raised his clenched hand automatically, 
opened it as though it were a tongs he was holding, 
and clenched it again on the money. 

"I'll see you at the dance," continued Dean. "I've 
got to get along to the barber shop." 

"So-long," said Gordon in a strained and husky 
voice. 

"So-long." 

Dean began to smile, but seemed to change his mind. 
He nodded briskly and disappeared. 

But Gordon stood there, his handsome face awry 
with distress, the roll of bills clenched tightly in his 
hand. Then, blinded by sudden tears, he stumbled 
clumsily down the Biltmore steps. 

Ill 

About nine o'clock of the same night two human 
beings came out of a cheap restaurant in Sixth Avenue. 
They were ugly, ill-nourished, devoid of all except the 
very lowest form of intelligence, and without even that 
animal exuberance that in itself brings color into life; 
they were lately vermin-ridden, cold, and hungry in a 
dirty town of a strange land; they were poor, friendless; 
tossed as driftwood from their births, they would be 
tossed as driftwood to their deaths. They were dressed 
in the uniform of the United States Army, and on the 
shoulder of each was the insignia of a drafted division 
from New Jersey, landed three days before. 

The taller of the two was named Carrol Key, a name 
hinting that in his veins, however thinly diluted by 
generations of degeneration, ran blood of some poten- 
tiality. But one could stare endlessly at the long, chin- 
less face, the dull, watery eyes, and high cheek-bones, 
without finding a suggestion of either ancestral worth 
or native resourcefulness. 



MAY DAY 75 

His companion was swart and bandy-legged, with 
rat-eyes and a much-broken hooked nose. His defiant 
air was obviously a pretense, a weapon of protection 
borrowed from that world of snarl and snap, of physi- 
cal bluff and physical menace, in which he had always 
lived. His name was Gus Rose. 

Leaving the cafe they sauntered down Sixth Avenue, 
wielding toothpicks with great gusto and complete de- 
tachment. 

"Where to?" asked Rose, in a tone which implied 
that he would not be surprised if Key suggested the 
South Sea Islands. 

"What you say we see if we can getta holda some 
liquor?" Prohibition was not yet. The ginger in the 
suggestion was caused by the law forbidding the selling 
of liquor to soldiers. 

Rose agreed enthusiastically. 

"I got an idea," continued Key, after a moment's 
thought, "I got a brother somewhere." 

"In New York?" 

"Yeah. He's an old fella." He meant that he was 
an elder brother. "He's a waiter in a hash joint." 

"Maybe he can get us some." 

"I'll say he can!" 

"B'lieve me, I'm goin' to get this dam uniform off 
me to-morra. Never get me in it again, neither. I'm 
goin' to get me some regular clothes." 

"Say, maybe I'm not." 

As their combined finances were something less than 
five dollars, this intention can be taken largely as a 
pleasant game of words, harmless and consoling. It 
seemed to please both of them, however, for they rein- 
forced it with chuckling and mention of personages 
high in biblical circles, adding such further emphasis 
as "Oh, boy!" "You know!" and "I'll say so!" re- 
peated many times over. 



76 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

The eiitire mental pabulum of these two men con- 
sisted of an offended nasal comment extended through 
the years upon the institution army, business, or poor- 
house which kept them alive, and toward their im- 
mediate superior in that institution. Until that very 
morning the institution had been the "government" 
and the immediate superior had been the- "Tap'n"- 
from these two they had glided out and were now in the 
vaguely uncomfortable state before they should adopt 
their next bondage. They were uncertain, resentful, 
and somewhat ill at ease. This they hid by pretending 
an elaborate relief at being out of the army, and by 
assuring each other that military discipline should never 
again rule their stubborn, liberty-loving wills. Yet, 
as a matter of fact, they would have felt more at home 
in a prison than in this new-found and unquestionable 
freedom. 

Suddenly Key increased his gait. Rose, looking up 
and following his glance, discovered a crowd that was 
collecting fifty yards down the street. Key chuckled 
and began to run in the direction of the crowd; Rose 
thereupon also chuckled and his short bandy legs 
twinkled beside the long, awkward strides of his com- 
panion. 

Reaching the outskirts of the crowd they immediately 
became an indistinguishable part of it. It was com- 
posed of ragged civilians somewhat the worse for liquor, 
and of soldiers representing many divisions and many 
stages of sobriety, all clustered around a gesticulating 
little Jew with long black whiskers, who was waving his 
arms and delivering an excited but succinct harangue. 
Key and Rose, having wedged themselves into the 
approximate parquet, scrutinized him with acute suspi- 
cion, as his words penetrated their common conscious- 
ness. 



MAY DAY 77 

" What have you got outa the war ?" he was crying 
fiercely. "Look arounja, look arounja! Are you rich ? 
Have you got a lot of money offered you ? no; you're 
lucky if you're alive and got both your legs; you're 
lucky if you came back an' find your wife ain't gone 
off with some other fella that had the money to buy 
himself out of the war! That's when you're lucky! 
Who got anything out of it except J. P. Morgan an' 
JohnD. Rockefeller?" 

At this point the little Jew's oration was interrupted 
by the hostile impact of a fist upon the point of his 
bearded chin and he toppled backward to a sprawl on 
the pavement. 

"God damn Bolsheviki!" cried the big soldier- 
blacksmith who had delivered the blow. There was a 
rumble of approval, the crowd closed in nearer. 

The Jew staggered to his feet, and immediately went 
down again before a half-dozen reaching-in fists. This 
tune he stayed down, breathing heavily, blood oozing 
from his lip where it was cut within and without. 

There was a riot of voices, and in a minute Rose and 
Key found themselves flowing with the jumbled crowd 
down Sixth Avenue under the leadership of a thin civil- 
ian in a slouch hat and the brawny soldier who had sum- 
marily ended the oration. The crowd had marvellously 
swollen to formidable proportions and a stream of more 
non-committal citizens followed it along the sidewalks 
lending their moral support by intermittent' huzzas. 

" Where we goin'?" yelled Key to the man nearest 
him. 

His neighbor pointed up to the leader in the slouch 
hat. 

"That guy knows where there's a lot of 'em ! We're 
goin' to show 'em!" 

"We're goin' to show 'em!" whispered Key delight- 



78 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

edly to Rose, who repeated the phrase rapturously to 
a man on the other side. 

Down Sixth Avenue swept the procession, joined here 
and there by soldiers and marines, and now and then by 
civilians, who came up with the inevitable cry that 
they were just out of the army themselves, as if present- 
ing it as a card of admission to a newly formed Sporting 
and Amusement Club. 

Then the procession swerved down a cross street and 
headed for Fifth Avenue and the word filtered here and 
there that they were bound for a Red meeting at Tolli- 
ver Hall. 

" Where is it?" 

The question went up the line and a moment later 
the answer floated back. Tolliver Hall was down on 
Tenth Street. There was a bunch of other sojers who 
was goin' to break it up and was down there now ! 

But Tenth Street had a faraway sound and at the 
word a general groan went up and a score of the pro- 
cession dropped out. Among these were Rose and Key, 
who slowed down to a saunter and let the more enthusi- 
astic sweep on by. 

"I'd rather get some liquor," said Key as they halted 
and made their way to the sidewalk amid cries of " Shell 
hole!" and " Quitters!" 

"Does your brother work around here ?" asked Rose, 
assuming the air of one passing from the superficial to 
the eternal. 

"He oughta," replied Key. "I ain't seen him for 
a coupla years. I been out to Pennsylvania since. 
Maybe he don't work at night anyhow. It's right along 
here. He can get us some o'right if he ain't gone." 

They found the place after a few minutes' patrol of 
the street a shoddy tablecloth restaurant between Fifth 
Avenue and Broadway. Here Key went inside to inquire 



MAY DAY 79 

for his brother George, while Rose waited on the side- 
walk. 

"He ain't here no more," said Key emerging. "He's 
a waiter up to Delmonico's." 

Rose nodded wisely, as if he'd expected as much. One 
should not be surprised at a capable man changing jobs 
occasionally. He knew a waiter once there ensued a 
long conversation as they walked as to whether waiters 
made more in actual wages than in tips it was decided 
that it depended on the social tone of the joint wherein 
the waiter labored. After having given each other 
vivid pictures of millionaires dining at Delmonico's 
and throwing away fifty-dollar bills after their first 
quart of champagne, both men thought privately of 
becoming waiters. In fact, Key's narrow brow was sev 
creting a resolution to ask his brother to get him a 
job. 

"A waiter can t drink up all the champagne those 
fellas leave in bottles," suggested Rose with some relish, 
and then added as an afterthought, "Oh, boy!" 

By the time they reached Delmonico's it was half 
past ten, and they were surprised to see a stream of taxis 
driving up to the door one after the other and emitting 
marvelous, hatless young ladies, each one attended by a 
stiff young gentleman in evening clothes. 

"It's a party," said Rose with some awe. "Maybe 
we better not go in. He'll be busy." 

"No, he won't. He'll be o'right." 

After some hesitation they entered what appeared to 
them to be the least elaborate door and, indecision 
falling upon them immediately, stationed themselves 
nervously in an inconspicuous corner of the small din- 
ing-room in which they found themselves. They took 
off their caps and held them in their hands. A cloud 
of gloom fell upon them and both started when a 



80 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

door at one end of the room crashed open, emitting a 
comet-like waiter who streaked across the floor and 
vanished through another door on the other side. 

There had been three of these lightning passages be- 
fore the seekers mustered the acumen to hail a waiter. 
He turned, looked at them suspiciously, and then ap- 
proached with soft, catlike steps, as if prepared at any 
moment to turn and flee. 

"Say," began Key, "say, do you know my brother? 
He's a waiter here." 

"His name is Key," annotated Rose. 

Yes, the waiter knew Key. He was up-stairs, he 
thought. There was a big dance going on in the main 
ballroom. He'd tell him. 

Ten minutes later George Key appeared and greeted 
his brother with the utmost suspicion; his first and 
most natural thought being that he was going to be 
asked for money. 

George was tall and weak chinned, but there his re- 
semblance to his brother ceased. The waiter's eyes 
were not dull, they were alert and twinkling, and his 
manner was suave, in-door, and faintly superior. They 
exchanged formalities. George was married and had 
three children. He seemed fairly interested, but not 
impressed by the news that Carrol had been abroad in 
the army. This disappointed Carrol. 

" George," said the younger brother, these ameni- 
ties having been disposed of, "we want to get some 
booze, and they won't sell us none. Can you get 
us some?" 

George considered. 

"Sure. Maybe I can. It may be half aa hour, 
though." 

"All right," agreed Carrol, "we'll wait." 

At this Rose started to sit down in a convenient chair, 
but was hailed to his feet by the indignant George. 



MAY DAY 81 

"Hey! Watch out, you! Can't sit down here! 
This room's all set. for a twelve o'clock banquet." 

"I ain't goin' to hurt it," said Rose resentfully. 
"I been through the delouser." 

" Never mind," said George sternly, "if the head 
waiter seen me here talkin' he'd romp all over me." 

"Oh." 

The mention of the head waiter was full explanation 
to the other two; they fingered their overseas caps ner- 
vously and waited for a suggestion. 

"I tell you," said George, after a pause, "I got a 
place you can wait; you just come here with me." 

They followed him out the far door, through a de- 
serted pantry and up a pair of dark winding stairs, 
emerging finally into a small room chiefly furnished by 
piles of pails and stacks of scrubbing brushes, and il- 
luminated by a single dim electric light. There he left 
them, after soliciting two dollars and agreeing to re- 
turn in half an hour with a quart of whiskey. 

" George is makin' money, I bet," said Key gloomily 
as he seated himself on an inverted pail. "I bet he's 
making fifty dollars a week." 

Rose nodded his head and spat. 

"I bet he is, too." 

" What'd he say the dance was of ?" 

"A lot of college fellas. Yale College." 

They both nodded solemnly at each other. 

"Wonder where that crowda sojers is now?" 

"I don't know. I know that's too damn long to walk 
for me." 

"Me too. You don't catch me walkin' that far." 

Ten minutes later restlessness seized them. 

"I'm goin' to see what's out here," said Rose, stepping 
cautiously toward the other door. 

It was a swinging door of green baize and he pushed 
it open a cautious inch. 



82 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

"See anything?" 

For answer Rose drew in his breath sharply. 

"Doggone! Here's some liquor I'll say!" 

"Liquor?" 

Key joined Rose at the door, and looked eagerly. 

'Til tell the world that's liquor," he said, after a mo- 
ment of concentrated gazing. 

It was a room about twice as large as the one they 
were in and in it was prepared a radiant feast of spirits. 
There were long walls of alternating bottles set along 
two white covered tables; whiskey, gin, brandy, French 
and Italian vermouths, and orange juice, not to mention 
an array of syphons and two great empty punch bowls. 
The room was as yet uninhabited. 

"It's for this dance they're just starting," whispered 
Key; "hear the violins playin'? Say, boy, I wouldn't 
mind havin' a dance." 

They closed the door softly and exchanged a glance of 
mutual comprehension. There was no need of feeling 
each other out. 

"I'd like to get my hands on a coupla those bottles," 
said Rose emphatically. 

"Me too." 

"Do you suppose we'd get seen ?" 

Key considered. 

"Maybe we better wait till they start drinkin' 'em. 
They got 'em all laid out now, and they know how many 
of them there are." 

They debated this point for several minutes. Rose 
was all for getting his hands on a bottle now and tuck- 
ing it under his coat before any one came into the room. 
Key, however, advocated caution. He was afraid he 
might get his brother in trouble. If they waited till 
some of the bottles were opened it'd be all right to take 



MAY DAY 83 

one, and everybody 'd think it was one of the college 
fellas. 

While they were still engaged in argument George 
Key hurried through the room and, barely grunting at 
them, disappeared by way of the green baize door. A 
minute later they heard several corks pop, and then the 
sound of cracking ice and splashing liquid. George was 
mixing the punch. 

The soldiers exchanged delighted grins. 

"Oh, boy!" whispered Rose. 

George reappeared. 

"Just keep low, boys," he said quickly. "I'll have 
your stuff for you in five minutes." 

He disappeared through the door by which he had come. 

As soon as his footsteps receded down the stairs, Rose, 
after a cautious look, darted into the room of delights 
and reappeared with a bottle in his hand. 

"Here's what I say," he said, as they sat radiantly 
digesting their first drink. " We'll wait till he comes up, 
and we'll ask him if we can't just stay here and drink 
what he brings us see. We'll tell him we haven't got 
any place to drink it see. Then we can sneak in 
there whenever there ain't nobody in that there room 
and tuck a bottle under our coats. We'll have enough 
to last us a coupla days see ? " 

"Sure," agreed Rose enthusiastically. "Oh, boy! 
And if we want to we can sell it to sojers any time we 
want to." 

They were silent for a moment thinking rosily of 
this idea. Then Key reached up and unhooked the 
collar of his O. D. coat. 

"It's hot in here, ain't it ?" 

Rose agreed earnestly. 

"Hot as hell." 



84 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

IV 

She was still quite angry when she came out of the 
dressing-room and crossed the intervening parlor of po- 
liteness that opened onto the hall angry not so much 
at the actual happening which was, after all, the merest 
commonplace of her social existence, but because it 
had occurred on this particular night. She had no 
quarrel with herself. She had acted with that correct 
mixture of dignity and reticent pity which she al- 

ys employed. She had succinctly and deftly snubbed 
him. 

It had happened when their taxi was leaving the Bilt- 
more hadn't gone half a block. He had lifted his right 
arm awkwardly she was on his right side and at- 
tempted to settle it snugly around the crimson fur- 
trimmed opera cloak she wore. This in itself had been 
a mistake. It was inevitably more graceful for a young 
man attempting to embrace a young lady of whose 
acquiescence he was not certain, to first put his far arm 
around her. It avoided that awkward movement of 
raising the near arm. 

His second fa ux pas was unconscious. She had spent 
the afternoon at the hairdresser's; the idea of any ca- 
lamity overtaking her hair was extremely repugnant 
yet as Peter made his unfortunate attempt the point of 
his elbow had just faintly brushed it. That was his 
second faux pas. Two were quite enough. 

He had begun to murmur. At the first murmur she 
had decided that he was nothing but a college boy- 
Edith was twenty-two, and anyhow, this dance, first 
of its kind since the war, was reminding her, with the 
accelerating rhythm of its associations, of something 
else of another dance and another man, a man for 
whom her feelings had been little more than a sad-eyed, 



MAY DAY 85 

adolescent mooniness. Edith Bradin was falling in 
love with her recollection of Gordon Sterrett. 

So she came out of the dressing-room at Delmonico's 
and stood for a second in the doorway looking over the 
shoulders of a black dress in front of her at the groups 
of Yale men who flitted like dignified black moths 
around the head of the stairs. From the room she had 
left drifted out the heavy fragrance left by the passage 
to and fro of many scented young beauties rich per- 
fumes and the fragile memory-laden dust of fragrant 
powders. This odor drifting out acquired the tang of 
cigarette smoke in the hall, and then settled sensuously 
down the stairs and permeated the ballroom where the 
Gamma Psi dance was to be held. It was an odor she 
knew well, exciting, stimulating, restlessly sweet the 
odor of a fashionable dance. 

She thought of her own appearance. Her bare arms 
and shoulders were powdered to a creamy white. She 
knew they looked very soft and would gleam like milk 
against the black backs that were to silhouette them to- 
night. The hairdressing had been a success; her red- 
dish mass of hair was piled and crushed and creased to 
an arrogant marvel of mobile curves. Her lips were 
finely made of deep carmine; the irises of her eyes were 
delicate, breakable blue, like china eyes. She was a 
complete, infinitely delicate, quite perfect thing of 
beauty, flowing in an even line from a complex coiffure 
to two small slim feet. 

She thought of what she would say to-night at this 
revel, faintly prestiged already by the sounds of high and 
low laughter and slippered footsteps, and movements of 
couples up and down the stairs. She would talk the 
language she had talked for many years her line made 
up of the current expressions, bits of journalese and col- 
lege slang strung together into an intrinsic whole, care- 



86 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

less, faintly provocative, delicately sentimental. She 
smiled faintly as she heard a girl sitting on the stairs 
near her say: "You don't know the half of it, dearie!" 

And as she smiled her anger melted for a moment, 
and closing her eyes she drew in a deep breath of plea- 
sure. She dropped her arms to her side until they were 
faintly touching the sleek sheath that covered and sug- 
gested her figure. She had never felt her own softness 
so much nor so enjoyed the whiteness of her own arms. 

"I smell sweet," she said to herself simply, and then 
came another thought "I'm made for love." 

She liked the sound of this and thought it again; then 
in inevitable succession came her new-born riot of dreams 
about Gordon. The twist of her imagination which, two 
months before, had disclosed to her her unguessed 
desire to see him again, seemed now to have been leading 
up to this dance, this hour. 

For all her sleek beauty, Edith was a grave, slow- 
thinking girl. There was a streak in her of that same 
desire to ponder, of that adolescent idealism that had 
turned her brother socialist and pacifist. Henry Bradin 
had left Cornell, where he had been an instructor in 
economics, and had come to New York to pour the latest 
cures for incurable evils into the columns of a radical 
weekly newspaper. 

Edith, less fatuously, would have been content to cure 
Gordon Sterrett. There was a quality of weakness in 
Gordon that she wanted to take care of; there was a 
helplessness in him that she wanted to protect. And 
she wanted someone she had known a long while, some- 
one who had loved her a long while. She was a little 
tired; she wanted to get married. Out of a pile of let- 
ters, half a dozen pictures and as many memories, and 
this weariness, she had decided that next time she saw 
Gordon their relations were going to be changed. She 



MAY DAY 87 

would say something that would change them. There 
was this evening. This was her evening. All evenings 
were her evenings. 

Then her thoughts were interrupted by a solemn 
undergraduate with a hurt look and an air of strained 
formality who presented himself before her and bowed 
unusually low. It was the man she had come with, 
Peter Himmel. He was tall and humorous, with horned- 
rimmed glasses and an air of attractive whimsicality. 
She suddenly rather disliked him probably because he 
had not succeeded in kissing her. 

"Well," she began, "are you still furious at me?" 

"Not at all." 

She stepped forward and took his arm. 

"I'm sorry," she said softly. "I don't know why I 
snapped out that way. I'm in a bum humor to-night 
for some strange reason. I'm sorry." 

"S'all right," he mumbled, "don't mention it." 

He felt disagreeably embarrassed. Was she rubbing 
in the fact of his late failure ? 

"It was a mistake," she continued, on the same con- 
sciously gentle key. "We'll both forget it." For this 
he hated her. 

A few minutes later they drifted out on the floor while 
the dozen swaying, sighing members of the specially 
hired jazz orchestra informed the crowded ballroom 
that "if a saxophone and me are left alone why then two 
is com-pan-ee ! " 

A man with a mustache cut in. 

"Hello," he began reprovingly. "You don't remem- 
ber me." 

"I can't just think of your name," she said lightly 
"and I know you so well." 

"I met you up at His voice trailed disconso- 
lately off as a man with very fair hair cut in. Edith 



88 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

murmured a conventional " Thanks, loads cut in later," 
to the inconnu. 

The very fair man insisted on shaking hands enthusi- 
astically. She placed him as one of the numerous Jims 
of her acquaintance last name a mystery. She re- 
membered even that he had a peculiar rhythm in danc- 
ing and found as they started that she was ri^ht. 

"Going to be here longr" he breathed confidentially. 

She leaned back and looked up at him. 

"Couple of weeks." 

"Where are you?" 

"Bfltmore. Call me up some day." 

"I mean it," he assured her. "I will. We'll go to 
tea." 

"So do I Do." 

A dark man cut in with intense formality. 

"You don't remember me, do you ?" he said gravely. 

"I should say I do. Your name's Harlan." 

"No-ope. Barlow." 

"Well, I knew there were two syllables anyway. 
You're the boy that played the ukulele so well up at 
Howard Marshall's house party. 

"I played but not 

A man with prominent teeth cut in. Edith inhaled 
a slight cloud of whiskey. She liked men to have had 
something to drink; they were so much more cheerful, 
and appreciative and complimentary much easier to 
talk to. 

"My name's Dean, Philip Dean," he said cheer- 
fully. "You don't remember me, I know, but you used 
to come up to New Haven with a fellow I roomed with 
senior year, Gordon Sterrett." 

Edith looked up quickly. 

"Yes, I went up with him twice to the Pump and 
Slipper and the Junior prom." 



MAY DAY 89 

"You've seen him, of course," said Dean carelessly. 
"He's here to-night. I saw him just a minute ago." 

Edith started. Yet she had felt quite sure he would 
be here. 

"Why, no, I haven't- 

A fat man with red hair cut in. 

"Hello, Edith," he began. 

"Why hdlo there- 
She slipped, stumbled lightly. 

"I'm sorry, dear," she murmured mechanically. 

She had seen Gordon Gordon very white and list- 
less, leaning against the side of a doorway, smoking and 
looking into the ballroom. Edith could see that his 
face was thin and wan that the hand he raised to 
his lips with a cigarette was trembling. They were 
dancing quite close to him now. 

" They invite so darn many extra fellas that you 
the short man was saying. 

"Hello, Gordon," called Edith over her partner's 
shoulder. Her heart was pounding wildly. 

His large dark eyes were fixed on her. He took a 
step in her direction. Her partner turned her away 
she heard his voice bleating 

" but half the stags get lit and leave before long, 

Then a low tone at her side. 

"May I, please?" 

She was dancing suddenly with Gordon; one of his 
arms was around her; she felt it tighten spasmodically; 
felt his hand on her back with the fingers spread. Her 
hand holding the little lace handkerchief was crushed 
in his. 

"Why Gordon," she began breathlessly. 

"Hello, Edith." 

She slipped again was tossed forward by her recov- 



90 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

ery until her face touched the black cloth of his dinner 
coat. She loved him she knew she loved him then 
for a minute there was silence while a strange feeling 
of uneasiness crept over her. Something was wrong. 

Of a sudden her heart wrenched, and turned over as 
she realized what it was. He was pitiful and wretched, 
a little drunk, and miserably tired. 

"Oh " she cried involuntarily. 

His eyes looked down at her. She saw suddenly that 
they were blood-streaked and rolling uncontrollably. 

"Gordon," she murmured, "we'll sit down; I want to 
sit down." 

They were nearly in mid-floor, but she had seen two 
men start toward her from opposite sides of the room, 
so she halted, seized Gordon's limp hand and led him 
bumping through the crowd, her mouth tight shut, her 
face a little pale under her rouge, her eyes trembling 
with tears. 

She found a place high up on the soft-carpeted stairs, 
and he sat down heavily beside her. 

"Well," he began, staring at her unsteadily, "I cer- 
tainly am glad to see you, Edith." 

She looked at him without answering. The effect of 
this on her was immeasurable. For years she had seen 
men in various stages of intoxication, from uncles all 
the way down to chauffeurs, and her feelings had varied 
from amusement to disgust, but here for the first tune 
she was seized with a new feeling an unutterable 
horror. 

"Gordon," she said accusingly and almost crying, 
"you look like the devil." 

He nodded. "I've had trouble, Edith." 

"Trouble?" 

"All sorts of trouble. Don't you say anything to the 
family, but I'm all gone to pieces. I'm a mese, Edith." 



MAY DAY 91 

His lower lip was sagging. He seemed scarcely to see 
her. 

" Can't you can't you," she hesitated, "can't you 
tell me about it, Gordon? You know I'm always in- 
terested in you." 

She bit her lip she had intended to say something 
stronger, but found at the end that she couldn't bring 
it out. 

Gordon shook his head dully. "I can't tell you. 
You're a good woman. I can't tell a good woman the 
story." 

"Rot," she said, defiantly. "I think it's a perfect 
insult to call any one a good woman in that way. It's a 
slam. You've been drinking, Gordon." 

"Thanks." He inclined his head gravely. "Thanks 
for the information." 

"Why do you drink?" 

"Because I'm so damn miserable." 

"Do you think drinking's going to make it any better ? " 

"What you doing trying to reform me?" 

"No; I'm trying to help you, Gordon. Can't you 
tell me about it?" 

"I'm in an awful mess. Best thing you can do is to 
pretend not to know me." 

"Why, Gordon?" 

"I'm sorry I cut in on you its unfair to you. You're 
pure woman and all that sort of thing. Here, I'll get 
some one else to dance with you." 

He rose clumsily to his feet, but she reached up and 
pulled him down beside her on the stairs. 

"Here, Gordon. You're ridiculous. You're hurting 
me. You're acting Like a like a crazy man 

"I admit it. I'm a little crazy. Something's wrong 
with me, Edith. There's something left me. It 
doesn't matter." 



9 2 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

" It does, tell me." 

"Just that. I was always queer little bit different 
from other boys. All right in college, but now it's all 
wrong. Things have been snapping inside me for four 
months like little hooks on a dress, and it's about to 
come off when a few more hooks go. I'm very gradu- 
ally going loony." 

He turned his eyes full on her and began to laugh, 
and she shrank away from him. 

"What is the matter?" 

"Just me," he repeated. "I'm going loony. This 
whole place is like a dream to me this Delmonico's 

As he talked she saw he had changed utterly. He 
wasn't at all light and gay and careless a great leth- 
argy and discouragement had come over him. Re- 
vulsion seized her, followed by a faint, surprising bore- 
dom. His voice seemed to come out of a great void. 

"Edith," he said, "I used to think I was clever, 
talented, an artist. Now I know I'm nothing. 
Can't draw, Edith. Don't know why I'm telling you 
this." 

She nodded absently. 

"I can't draw, I can't do anything. I'm poor as a 
church mouse." He laughed, bitterly and rather too 
loud. "I've become a damn beggar, a leech on my 
friends. I'm a failure. I'm poor as hell." 

Her distaste was growing. She barely -podded this 
time, waiting for her first possible cue to rise. 

Suddenly Gordon's eyes filled with tears. 

"Edith," he said, turning to her with what was evi- 
dently a strong effort at self-control, "I can't tell you 
what it means to me to know there's one person left 
who's interested in me." 

He reached out and patted her hand, and involun- 
tarily she drew it away. 



MAY DAY 93 

"It's mighty fine of you," he repeated. 

"Well," she said slowly, looking him in the eye, 
"any one's always glad to see an old friend but I'm 
sorry to see you like this, Gordon." 

There was a pause while they looked at each other, 
and the momentary eagerness in his eyes wavered. She 
rose and stood looking at him, her face quite expression- 
less. 

"Shall we dance?" she suggested, coolly. 

Love is fragile she was thinking but perhaps the 
pieces are saved, the things that hovered on lips, that 
might have been said. The new love words, the tender- 
nesses learned, are treasured up for the next lover. 



Peter Himmel, escort to the lovely Edith, was unac- 
customed to being snubbed; having been snubbed, he 
was hurt and embarrassed, and ashamed of himself. For 
a matter of two months he had been on special de- 
livery terms with Edith Bradin, and knowing that the 
one excuse and explanation of the special delivery letter 
is its value in sentimental correspondence, he had be- 
lieved himself quite sure of his ground. He searched 
in vain for any reason why she should have taken this 
attitude in the matter of a simple kiss. 

Therefore when he was cut in on by the man with the 
mustache he went out into the hall and, making up a 
sentence, said it over to himself several times. Con- 
siderably deleted, this was it: 

"Well, if any girl ever led a man on and then jolted 
him, she did and she has no kick coming if I go out and 
get beautifully boiled." 

So he walked through the supper room into a small 
room adjoining it, which he had located earlier in the 



94 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

evening. It was a room in which there were several 
large bowls of punch flanked by many bottles. He 
took a seat beside the table which held the bottles. 

At the second highball, boredom, disgust, the monot- 
ony of time, the turbidity of events, sank into a vague 
background before which glittering cobwebs formed. 
Things became reconciled to themselves, things lay 
quietly on their shelves; the troubles of the day ar- 
ranged themselves in trim formation and at his curt 
wish of dismissal, marched off and disappeared. And 
with the departure of worry came brilliant, permeating 
symbolism. Edith became a flighty, negligible girl, 
not to be worried over; rather to be laughed at. She 
fitted like a figure of his own dream into the surface 
world forming about him. He himself became in a 
measure symbolic, a type of the continent bacchanal, 
the brilliant dreamer at play. 

Then the symbolic mood faded and as he sipped his 
third highball his imagination yielded to the warm glow 
and he lapsed into a state similar to floating on his 
back in pleasant water. It was at this point that he 
noticed that a green baize door near him was open 
about two inches, and that through the aperture a pair 
of eyes were watching him intently. 

"Hm," murmured Peter calmly. 

The green door closed and then opened again a 
bare half inch this time. 

" Peek-a-boo," murmured Peter. 

The door remained stationary and then he became 
aware of a series of tense intermittent whispers. 

"One guy/' 

"What's he doin'?" 

"He's sittin' lookin'." 

"He better beat it off. We gotta get another liT 
bottle." 



MAY DAY 95 

Peter listened while the words filtered into his con- 
sciousness. 

"Now this," he thought, "is most remarkable." 

He was excited. He was jubilant. He felt that he 
had stumbled upon a mystery. Affecting an elaborate 
carelessness he arose and walked around the table 
then, turning quickly, pulled open the green door, pre- 
cipitating Private Rose into the room. 

Peter bowed. 

"How do you do?" he said. 

Private Rose set one foot slightly in front of the other, 
poised for fight, flight, or compromise. 

"How do you do?" repeated Peter politely. 

"I'm o'right." 

"Can I offer you a drink ?" 

Private Rose looked at him searchingly, suspecting 
possible sarcasm. 

"O'right," he said finally. 

Peter indicated a chair. 

"Sit down." 

"I got a friend," said Rose, "I got a friend in there." 
He pointed to the green door. 

"By all means let's have him in." 

Peter crossed over, opened the door and welcomed in 
Private Key, very suspicious and uncertain and guilty. 
Chairs were found and the three took their seats around 
the punch bowl. Peter gave them each a highball and 
offered them a cigarette from his case. They accepted 
both with some diffidence. 

"Now," continued Peter easily, "may I ask why you 
gentlemen prefer to lounge away your leisure hours in a 
room which is chiefly furnished, as far as I can see, with 
scrubbing brushes. And when the human race has pro- 
gressed to the stage where seventeen thousand chairs 
are manufactured on every day except Sunday ' he 



96 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

paused. Rose and Key regarded him vacantly. "Will 
you tell me," went on Peter, "why you choose to rest 
yourselves on articles intended for the transportation 
of water from one place to another ?" 

At this point Rose contributed a grunt to the con- 
versation. 

"And lastly/' finished Peter, "will you tell me why, 
when you are in a building beautifully hung with enor- 
mous candelabra, you prefer to spend these evening 
hours under one anemic electric light : 

Rose looked at Key; Key looked at Rose. They 
laughed; they laughed uproariously; they found it was 
impossible to look at each other without laughing. 
But they were not laughing with this man they were 
laughing at him. To them a man who talked after this 
fashion was either raving drunk or raving crazy. 

"You are Yale men, I presume," said Peter, finishing 
his highball and preparing another. 

They laughed again. 

"Na-ah." 

" So ? I thought perhaps you might be members of 
that lowly section of the university known as the Shef- 
field Scientific School." 

"Na-ah." 

"Hm. Well, that's too bad. No doubt you are 
Harvard men, anxious to preserve your incognito in 
this this paradise of violet blue, as the newspapers 
say." 

"Na-ah," said Key scornfully, "we was just waitin' 
for somebody." 

"Ah," exclaimed Peter, rising and filling their glasses, 
"very interestin'. Had a date with a scrublady, eh ?" 

They both denied this indignantly. 

"It's all right," Peter reassured them, "don't apolo- 
gize. A scrublady's as good as any lady in the world. 



MAY DAY 97 

Kipling says 'Any lady and Judy O'Grady under the 
skin.'" 

" Sure," said Key, winking broadly at Rose. 

"My case, for instance," continued Peter, finishing 
his glass. "I got a girl up here that's spoiled. Spoildest 
darn girl I ever saw. Refused to kiss me; no reason 
whatsoever. Led me on deliberately to think sure I 
want to kiss you and then plunk! Threw me over! 
What's the younger generation comin' to ? " 

"Say tha's hard luck," said Key "that's awful hard 
luck." 

"Oh, boy! "said Rose. 

"Have another?" said Peter. 

"We got in a sort of fight for a while," said Key after 
a pause, "but it was too far away." 

"A fight? tha's stuff!" said Peter, seating himself 
unsteadily. "Fight 'em all! I was in the army." 

"This was with a Bolshevik fella." 

"Tha's stuff!" exclaimed Peter, enthusiastic. 
"That's what I say! Kill the Bolshevik! Extermi- 
nate 'em!" 

"We're Americuns," said Rose, implying a sturdy, 
defiant patriotism. 

"Sure," said Peter. "Greatest race in the world! 
We're all Americuns ! Have another." 

They had another. 

VI 

At one o'clock a special orchestra, special even in a 
day of special orchestras, arrived at Delmonico's, and 
its members, seating themselves arrogantly around the 
piano, took up the burden of providing music for the 
Gamma Psi Fraternity. They were headed by a famous 
flute-player, distinguished throughout New York for 
his feat of standing on his head and shimmying with 



98 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

his shoulders while he played the latest jazz on his 
flute. During his performance the lights were extin- 
guished except for the spotlight on the flute-player and 
another roving beam that threw flickering shadows and 
changing kaleidoscopic colors over the massed dancers. 

Edith had danced herself into that tired, dreamy 
state habitual only with debutantes, a state equivalent 
to the glow of a noble soul after several long highballs. 
Her mind floated vaguely on the bosom of her music; 
IUT partners changed with the unreality of phantoms 
under the colorful shifting dusk, and to her present 
coma it seemed as if days had passed since the dance 
began. She had talked on many fragmentary subjects 
with many men. She had been kissed once and made 
love to six times. Earlier in the evening different under- 
graduates had danced with her, but now, like all the 
more popular girls there, she had her own entourage 
that is, half a dozen gallants had singled her out or 
were alternating her charms with those of some other 
chosen beauty; they cut in on her in regular, inevitable 
succession. 

Several times she had seen Gordon he had been sit- 
ting a long time on the stairway with his palm to his 
head, his dull eyes fixed at an infinite speck on the floor 
before him, very depressed, he looked, and quite drunk 
but Edith each time had averted her glance hurriedly. 
All that seemed long ago; her mind was passive now, 
her senses were lulled to trance-like sleep; only her feet 
danced and her voice talked on in hazy sentimental 
banter. 

But Edith was not nearly so tired as to be incapable 
of moral indignation when Peter Himmel cut in on her, 
sublimely and happily drunk. She gasped and looked 
up at him. 

"Why, Peter I" 



MAY DAY 99 

"I'm a liT stewed, Edith." 

"Why, Peter, you're a peach, you are! Don't you 
think it's a bum way of doing when you're with me ?" 

Then she smiled unwillingly, for he was looking at 
her with owlish sentimentality varied with a silly spas- 
modic smile. 

"Darlin' Edith," he began earnestly, "you know I 
love you, don't you ?" 

"You tell it well." 

"I love you and I merely wanted you to kiss me," 
he added sadly. 

His embarrassment, his shame, were both gone. She 
was a mos' beautiful girl in whole worl'. Mos' beauti- 
ful eyes, like stars above. He wanted to 'pologize 
firs', for presuming try to kiss her; second, for drinking 
but he'd been so discouraged 'cause he had thought 
she was mad at him 

The red-fat man cut in, and looking up at Edith 
smiled radiantly. 

"Did you bring any one?" she asked. 

No. The red-fat man was a stag. 

"Well, would you mind would it be an awful bother 
for you to to take me home to-night?" (this extreme 
diffidence was a charming affectation on Edith's part- 
she knew that the red-fat man would immediately dis- 
solve into a paroxysm of delight). 

"Bother? Why, good Lord, I'd be darn glad to! 
You know I'd be darn glad to." 

"Thanks loads! You're awfully sweet." 

She glanced at her wrist-watch. It was half-past one. 
And, as she said "half-past one" to herself, it floated 
vaguely into her mind that her brother had told her at 
luncheon that he worked in the office of his newspaper 
until after one-thirty every evening. 

Edith turned suddenly to her current partner. 



ioo TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

"What street is Delmonico's on, anyway?" 

"Street? Oh, why Fifth Avenue, of course." 

"I mean, what cross street?" 

"Why let's see it's on Forty-fourth Street." 

This verified what she had thought. Henry's office 
must be across the street and just around the corner, 
and it occurred to her immediately that she might slip 
over for a moment and surprise him, float in on him, a 
shimmering marvel in her new crimson opera cloak and 
"cheer him up." It was exactly the sort of thing Edith 
revelled in doing an unconventional, jaunty thing. 
The idea reached out and gripped at her imagination- 
after an instant's hesitation she had decided. 

"My hair is just about to tumble entirely down," 
she said pleasantly to her partner; "would you mind 
if I go and fix it?" 

"Not at all." 

"You're a peach." 

A few minutes later, wrapped in her crimson opera 
cloak, she flitted down a side-stairs, her cheeks glowing 
with excitement at her little adventure. She ran by a 
couple who stood at the door a weak-chinned waiter 
and an over-rouged young lady, in hot dispute and 
opening the outer door stepped into the warm May 
night. 

VII 

The over-rouged young lady followed her with a brief, 
bitter glance then turned again to the weak-chinned 
waiter and took up her argument. 

"You better go up and tell him I'm here," she said 
defiantly, "or I'll go up myself." 

"No, you don't!" said George sternly. 

The girl smiled sardonically. 

"Oh, I don't, don't I ? Well, let me tell you I know 



MAY DAY 101 

more college fellas and more of 'em know me, and are 
glad to take me out on a party, than you ever saw in 
your whole life." 

"Maybe so" 

" Maybe so," she interrupted. "Oh, it's all right for 
any of 'em like that one that just ran out God knows 
where she went it's all right for them that are asked 
here to come or go as they like but when I want to see 
a friend they have some cheap, ham-slinging, bring-me- 
a-doughnut waiter to stand here and keep me out." 

"See here," said the elder Key indignantly, "I can't 
lose my job. Maybe this fella you're talkin' about 
doesn't want to see you." 

"Oh, he wants to see me all right." 

"Anyways, how could I find him in all that crowd ?" 

"Oh, he'll be there," she asserted confidently. "You 
just ask anybody for Gordon Sterrett and they'll point 
him out to you. They all know each other, those fellas." 

She produced a mesh bag, and taking out a dollar 
bill handed it to George. 

"Here," she said, "here's a bribe. You find him and 
give him my message. You tell him if he isn't here in 
five minutes I'm coming up." 

George shook his head pessimistically, considered 
the question for a moment, wavered violently, and then 
withdrew. 

In less than the allotted time Gordon came down-stairs. 
He was drunker than he had been earlier in the evening 
and in a different way. The liquor seemed to have 
hardened on him like a crust. He was heavy and lurch- 
ing almost incoherent when he talked. 

"'Lo, Jewel," he said thickly. "Came right away. 
Jewel, I couldn't get that money. Tried my best." 

"Money nothing !" she snapped. "You haven't been 
near me for ten days. What's the matter ?" 



102 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

He shook his head slowly. 

"Been very low, Jewel. Been sick." 

"Why didn't you tell me if you were sick. I don't 
care about the money that bad. I didn't start bother- 
ing you about it at all until you began neglecting me." 

Again he shook his head. 

"Haven't been neglecting you. Not at all." 

"Haven't! You haven't been near me for three 
weeks, unless you been so drunk you didn't know what 
you were doing." 

"Been sick, Jewel," he repeated, turning his eyes 
upon her wearily. 

"You're well enough to come and play with your 
society friends here all right. You told me you'd meet 
me for dinner, and you said you'd have some money for 
me. You didn't even bother to ring me up." 

"I couldn't get any money." 

"Haven't I just been saying that doesn't matter? 
I wanted to see you, Gordon, but you seem to prefer 
your somebody else." 

He denied this bitterly. 

"Then get your hat and come along," she suggested. 

Gordon hesitated and she came suddenly close to 
him and slipped her arms around his neck. 

"Come on with me, Gordon," she said in a half whis- 
per. "We'll go over to Devineries' and have a drink, 
and then we can go up to my apartment." 

"I can't, Jewel 

"You can," she said intensely. 

"I'm sick as a dog!" 

"Well, then, you oughtn't to stay here and dance." 

With a glance around him in which relief and despair 
were mingled, Gordon hesitated; then she suddenly 
pulled him to her and kissed him with soft, pulpy lips. 

"All right," he said heavily. "I'll get my hat. 



MAY DAY 103 

VIII 

When Edith came out into the clear blue of the May 
night she found the Avenue deserted. The windows of 
the big shops were dark; over their doors were drawn 
great iron masks until they were only shadowy tombs of 
the late day's splendor. Glancing down toward Forty- 
second Street she saw a commingled blur of lights from 
the all-night restaurants. Over on Sixth Avenue the 
elevated, a flare of fire, roared across the street between 
the glimmering parallels of light at the station and 
streaked along into the crisp dark. But at Forty- 
fourth Street it was very quiet. 

Pulling her cloak close about her Edith darted across 
the Avenue. She started nervously as a solitary man 
passed her and said in a hoarse whisper "Where bound, 
kiddo ?" She was reminded of a night in her childhood 
when she had walked around the block in her pajamas 
and a dog had howled at her from a mystery-big back 
yard. 

In a minute she had reached her destination, a two- 
story, comparatively old building on Forty-fourth, in 
the upper window of which she thankfully detected a 
wisp of light. It was bright enough outside for her to 
make out the sign beside the window the New York 
Trumpet. She stepped inside a dark hall and after a 
second saw the stairs in the corner. 

Then she was in a long, low room furnished with many 
desks and hung on all sides with file copies of news- 
papers. There were only two occupants. They were 
sitting at different ends of the room, each wearing a 
green eye-shade and writing by a solitary desk light. 

For a moment she stood uncertainly in the doorway, 
and then both men turned around simultaneously and 
she recognized her brother. 



104 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

"Why, Edith!" He rose quickly and approached 
her in surprise, removing his eye-shade. He was tall, 
lean, and dark, with black, piercing eyes under very thick 
glasses. They were far-away eyes that seemed always 
fixed just over the head of the person to whom he was 
talking. 

He put his hands on her arms and kissed her cheek. 

"What is it?" he repeated in some alarm. 

"I was at a dance across at Delmonico's, Henry," 
she said excitedly, "and I couldn't resist tearing over 
to see you." 

"I'm glad you did." His alertness gave way quickly 
to a habitual vagueness. "You oughtn't to be out 
alone at night though, ought you ? " 

The man at the other end of the room had been look- 
ing at them curiously, but at Henry's beckoning gesture 
he approached. He was loosely fat with little twin- 
kling eyes, and, having removed his collar and tie, he gave 
the impression of a Middle- Western farmer on a Sunday 
afternoon. 

"This is my sister," said Henry. "She dropped in to 
see me." 

"How do you do?" said the fat man, smiling. "My 
name's Bartholomew, Miss Bradin. I know your 
brother has forgotten it long ago." 

Edith laughed politely. 

"Well," he continued, "not exactly gorgeous quarters 
we have here, are they ? " 

Edith looked around the room. 

"They seem very nice," she replied. "Where do you 
keep the bombs ? " 

"The bombs?" repeated Bartholomew, laughing. 
"That's pretty good the bombs. Did you hear her, 
Henry ? She wants to know where we keep the bombs. 
Say, that's pretty good." 

Edith swung herself onto a vacant desk and sat 



MAY DAY 105 

dangling her feet over the edge. Her brother took a 
seat beside her. 

"Well," he asked, absent-mindedly, "how do you 
like New York this trip ?" 

"Not bad. I'll be over at the Biltmore with the Hoy ts 
until Sunday. Can't you come to luncheon to-morrow ? " 

He thought a moment. 

"I'm especially busy," he objected, "and I hate wo- 
men in groups." 

"All right," she agreed, unruffled. "Let's you and 
me have luncheon together." 

"Very well." 

"I'll call for you at twelve." 

Bartholomew was obviously anxious to return to his 
desk, but apparently considered that it would be rude 
to leave without some parting pleasantry. 

"Well" he began awkwardly. 

They both turned to him. 

"Well, we we had an exciting time earlier in the 
evening." 

The two men exchanged glances. 

"You should have come earlier," continued Bar- 
tholomew, somewhat encouraged. "We had a regular 
vaudeville." 

"Did you really?" 

"A serenade," said Henry. "A lot of soldiers 
gathered down there in the street and began to yell 
at the sign." 

"Why? "she demanded. 

"Just a crowd," said Henry, abstractedly. "All 
crowds have to howl. They didn't have anybody with 
much initiative in the lead, or they'd probably have 
forced their way in here and smashed things up." 

"Yes," said Bartholomew, turning again to Edith, 
"you should have been here." 

He seemed to consider this a sufficient cue for with- 



106 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

drawal, for he turned abruptly and went back to his 
desk. 

"Are the soldiers all set against the Socialists?" de- 
manded Edith of her brother. "I mean do they at- 
tack you violently and all that ? " 

Henry replaced his eye-shade and yawned. 

"The human race has come a long way," he said 
casually, "but most of us are throw-backs; the soldiers 
don't know what they want, or what they hate, or what 
they like. They're used to acting in large bodies, and 
they seem to have to make demonstrations. So it hap- 
pens to be against us. There've been riots all over the 
city to-night. It's May Day, you see." 

"Was the disturbance here pretty serious?" 

"Not a bit," he said scornfully. "About twenty- 
five of them stopped in the street about nine o'clock, 
and began to bellow at the moon." 

"Oh" She changed the subject. "You're glad 
to see me, Henry ? " 

"Why, sure." 

"You don't seem to be." 

"I am." 

"I suppose you think I'm a a waster. Sort of the 
World's Worst Butterfly." 

Henry laughed. 

"Not at all. Have a good time while you're young. 
Why ? Do I seem like the priggish and earnest youth ? " 

"No She paused, " but somehow I began 
thinking how absolutely different the party I'm on is 
from from all your purposes. It seems sort of of 
incongruous, doesn't it ? me being at a party like that, 
and you over here working for a thing that'll make 
that sort of party impossible ever any more, if your 
ideas work." 

"I don't think of it that way. You're young, and 



MAY DAY 107 

you're acting just as you were brought up to act. Go 
ahead have a good time ? " 

Her feet, which had been idly swinging, stopped and 
her voice dropped a note. 

"I wish you'd you'd come back to Harrisburg and 
have a good time. Do you feel sure that you're on the 
right track 

"You're wearing beautiful stockings," he interrupted. 
"What on earth are they?" 

"They're embroidered," she replied, glancing down. 
"Aren't they cunning?" She raised her skirts and 
uncovered slim, silk-sheathed calves. "Or do you dis- 
approve of silk stockings ? " 

He seemed slightly exasperated, bent his dark eyes 
on her piercingly. 

"Are you trying to make me out as criticizing you in 
any way, Edith ?" 

"Not at all- 
She paused. Bartholomew had uttered a grunt. She 
turned and saw that he had left his desk and was stand- 
ing at the window. 

"What is it?" demanded Henry. 

"People," said Bartholomew, and then after an instant: 
"Whole jam of them. They're coming from Sixth Avenue." 

"People?" 

The fat man pressed his nose to the pane. 

"Soldiers, by God!" he said emphatically. "I had 
an idea they'd come back." 

Edith jumped to her feet, and running over joined 
Bartho; rew at the window. 

"The e s a lot of them !" she cried excitedly. "Come 
here, Henry ! " 

Henry readjusted his shade, but kept his seat. 

"Hadn't we better turn out the lights?" suggested 
Bartholomew. 



io8 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

"No. They'll go away in a minute." 

"They're not," said Edith, peering from the window. 
"They're not even thinking of going away. There's 
more of them coming. Look there's a whole crowd 
turning the corner of Sixth Avenue." 

By the yellow glow and blue shadows of the street 
lamp she could see that the sidewalk was crowded with 
men. They were mostly in uniform, some sober, some 
enthusiastically drunk, and over the whole swept an 
incoherent clamor and shouting. 

Henry rose, and going to the window exposed himself 
as a long silhouette against the office lights. Imme- 
diately the shouting became a steady yell, and a rattling 
fusillade of small missiles, corners of tobacco plugs, 
cigarette-boxes, and even pennies beat against the win- 
dow. The sounds of the racket now began floating up 
the stairs as the folding doors revolved. 

"They're coming up!" cried Bartholomew. 

Edith turned anxiously to Henry. 

"They're coming up, Henry." 

From down-stairs in the lower hall their cries were 
now quite audible. 

"God damn Socialists!" 

" Pro-Germans ! Boche-lovers ! " 

" Second floor, front ! Come on ! " 

"We'll get the sons- 

The next five minutes passed in a dream. Edith was 
conscious that the clamor burst suddenly upon the three 
of them like a cloud of rain, that there was a ^hunder 
of many feet on the stairs, that Henry had b9]Wd her 
arm and drawn her back toward the rear of the office. 
Then the door opened and an overflow of men were 
forced into the room not the leaders, but simply those 
who happened to be in front. 



MAY DAY 109 

"Hello, Bo!" 

"Up late, ain't you?" 

"You an' your girl. Damn you!" 

She noticed that two very drunken soldiers had been 
forced to the front, where they wobbled fatuously one 
of them was short and dark, the other was tall and 
weak of chin. 

Henry stepped forward and raised his hand. 

"Friends! "he said. 

The clamor faded into a momentary stillness, punc- 
tuated with mutterings. 

"Friends!" he repeated, his far-away eyes fixed over 
the heads of the crowd, "you're injuring no one but 
yourselves by breaking in here to-night. Do we look 
like rich men ? Do we look like Germans ? I ask you 
in all fairness " 

"Pipe down!" 

"I'll say you do!" 

"Say, who's your lady friend, buddy?" 

A man in civilian clothes, who had been pawing over 
a table, suddenly held up a newspaper. 

" Here it is ! " he shouted. "They wanted the Germans 
to win the war ! " 

A new overflow from the stairs was shouldered in and 
of a sudden the room was full of men all closing around 
the pale little group at the back. Edith saw that the 
tall soldier with the weak chin was still in front. The 
short dark one had disappeared. 

She edged slightly backward, stood close to the open 
window, through which came a clear breath of cool 
night air. 

Then the room was a riot. She realized that the sol- 
diers were surging forward, glimpsed the fat man swing- 
ing a chair over his head instantly the lights went out> 



no TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

and she felt the push of warm bodies under rough cloth, 
and her ears were full of shouting and trampling and 
hard breathing. 

A figure flashed by her out of nowhere, tottered, was 
edged sideways, and of a sudden disappeared helplessly 
out through the open window with a frightened, frag- 
mentary cry that died staccato on the bosom of the 
clamor. By the faint light streaming from the build- 
ing backing on the area Edith had a quick impression 
that it had been the tall soldier with the weak chin. 

Anger rose astonishingly in her. She swung her 
arms wildly, edged blindly toward the thickest of the 
scuffling. She heard grunts, curses, the muffled impact 
of fists. 

"Henry!" she called frantically, "Henry!" 

Then, it was minutes later, she felt suddenly that 
there were other figures in the room. She heard a 
voice, deep, bullying, authoritative; she saw yellow 
rays of light sweeping here and there in the fracas. 
The cries became more scattered. The scuffling in- 
creased and then stopped. 

Suddenly the lights were on and the room was full 
of policemen, clubbing left and right. The deep voice 
boomed out: 

"Here now ! Here now ! Here now !" 

And then: 

"Quiet down and get out ! Here now !" 

The room seemed to empty like a wash-bowl. A 
policeman fast-grappled in the corner released his hold 
on his soldier antagonist and started him with a shove 
toward the door. The deep voice continued. Edith per- 
ceived now that it came from a bull-necked police cap- 
tain standing near the door. 

"Here now ! This is no way ! One of your own sojers 
got shoved out of the back window an' killed hisself ! " 



MAY DAY in 

"Henry!" called Edith, "Henry!" 

She beat wildly with her fists on the back of the man 
in front of her; she brushed between two others; fought, 
shrieked, and beat her way to a very pale figure sitting 
on the floor dose to a desk. 

"Henry," she cried passionately, "what's the mat- 
ter? What's the matter? Did they hurt you ?" 

His eyes were shut. He groaned and then looking up 
said disgustedly 

"They broke my leg. My God, the fools !" 

"Here now !" called the police captain. "Here now ! 
Here now ! " 

IX 

"Childs', Fifty-ninth Street," at eight o'clock of any 
morning differs from its sisters by less than the width 
of their marble tables or the degree of polish on the fry- 
ing-pans. You will see there a crowd of poor people 
with sleep in the corners of their eyes, trying to look 
straight before them at their food so as not to see the 
other poor people. But Childs', Fifty-ninth, four hours 
earlier is quite unlike any Childs' restaurant from Port- 
land, Oregon, to Portland, Maine. Within its pale but 
sanitary walls one finds a noisy medley of chorus girls, 
college boys, debutantes, rakes, filles de joie a not un- 
representative mixture of the gayest of Broadway, and 
even of Fifth Avenue. 

In the early morning of May the second it was un- 
usually full. Over the marble-topped tables were bent 
the excited faces of flappers whose fathers owned in- 
dividual villages. They were eating buckwheat cakes 
and scrambled eggs with relish and gusto, an accomplish- 
ment that it would have been utterly impossible for 
them to repeat in the same place four hours later. 

Almost the entire crowd were from the Gamma Psi 



ii2 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

dance at Delmonico's except for several chorus girls 
from a midnight revue who sat at a side table and wished 
they'd taken off a little more make-up after the show. 
Here and there a drab, mouse-like figure, despen 
out of place, watched the butterflies with a weary, 
puzzled curiosity. But the drab figure was the excep- 
tion. This was the morning after May Day, and c 
bration was still in the air. 

Gus Rose, sober but a little dazed, must be classed 
as one of the drab figures. How he had got him.- elf from 
Forty-fourth Street to Fifty-ninth Street after the riot 
was only a hazy half-memory. He had seen the body 
of Carrol Key put in an ambulance and driven off, and 
then he had started up town with two or three soldi 
Somewhere between Forty-fourth Street and Fifty- 
ninth Street the other soldiers had met some women 
and disappeared. Rose had wandered to Columbus 
Circle and chosen the gleaming lights of Childs' to 
minister to his craving for coffee and doughnuts. He 
walked in and sat down. 

All around him floated airy, inconsequential chatter 
and high-pitched laughter. At first he failed to under- 
stand, but after a puzzled five minutes he realized that 
this was the aftermath of some gay party. Here and 
there a restless, hilarious young man wandered frater- 
nally and familiarly between the tables, shaking hands 
indiscriminately and pausing occasionally for a face- 
tious chat, while excited waiters, bearing cakes and eggs 
aloft, swore at him silently, and bumped him out of the 
way. To Rose, seated at the most inconspicuous and 
least crowded table, the whole scene was a colorful cir- 
cus of beauty and riotous pleasure. 

He became gradually aware, after a few moments, 
that the couple seated diagonally across from him, with 
their backs to the crowd, were not the least interesting 



MAY DAY 113 

pair in the room. The man was drunk. He wore a 
dinner coat with a dishevelled tie and shirt swollen by 
spillings of water and wine. His eyes, dim and blood- 
shot, roved unnaturally from side to side. His breath 
came short between his lips. 

"He's been on a spree!" thought Rose. 

The woman was almost if not quite sober. She was 
pretty, with dark eyes and feverish high color, and she 
kept her active eyes fixed on her companion with the 
alertness of a hawk. From time to time she would lean 
and whisper intently to him, and he would answer by 
inclining his head heavily or by a particularly ghoulish 
and repellent wink. 

Rose scrutinized them dumbly for some minutes, 
until the woman gave him a quick, resentful look; then 
he shifted his gaze to two of the most conspicuously 
hilarious of the promenaders who were on a protracted 
circuit of the tables. To his surprise he recognized in 
one of them the young man by whom he had been so 
ludicrously entertained at Delmonico's. This started 
him thinking of Key with a vague sentimentality, not 
unmixed with awe. Key was dead. He had fallen 
thirty-five feet and split his skull like a cracked cocoa- 
nut. 

"He was a darn good guy," thought Rose mourn- 
fully. "He was a darn good guy, o'right. That was 
awful hard luck about him." 

The two promenaders approached and started down 
between Rose's table and the next, addressing friends 
and strangers alike with jovial familiarity. Suddenly 
Rose saw the fair-haired one with the prominent teeth 
stop, look unsteadily at the man and girl opposite, and 
then begin to move his head disapprovingly from side 
to side. 

The man with the blood-shot eyes looked up. 



ii 4 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

"Gordy," said the promenader with the prominent 
teeth, "Gordy." 

"Hello," said the man with the stained shirt thickly. 

Prominent Teeth shook his finger pessimistically at 
the pair, giving the woman a glance of aloof condemna- 
tion. 

"What'd I tell you Gordy?" 

Gordon stirred in his seat 

"Go to hell! "he said. 

Dean continued to stand there shaking his finger. 
The woman began to get angry. 

"You go way!" she cried fiercely. "You're drunk, 
that's what you are ! " 

"So's he," suggested Dean, staying the motion of his 
finger and pointing it at Gordon. 

Peter Himmel ambled up, owlish now and oratorically 
inclined. 

"Here now," he began as if called upon to deal with 
some petty dispute between children. "Wha's all 
trouble?" 

"You take your friend away," said Jewel tartly. 
"He's bothering us." 

"What's at?" 

"You heard me!" she said shrilly. "I said to take 
your drunken friend away." 

Her rising voice rang out above the clatter of the res- 
taurant and a waiter came hurrying up. 

"You gotta be more quiet!" 

"That feUa's drunk," she cried. "He's insulting 
us." 

"Ah-ha, Gordy," persisted the accused. "What'd I 
tell you." He turned to the waiter. "Gordy an' I 
friends. Been tryin' help him, haven't I, Gordy ? " 

Gordy looked up. 

"Help me? Hell, no!" 



MAY DAY 115 

Jewel rose suddenly, and seizing Gordon's arm assisted 
him to his feet. 

"Come on, Gordy !" she said, leaning toward him and 
speaking in a half whisper. "Let's us get out of here. 
This fella's got a mean drunk on." 

Gordon allowed himself to be urged to his feet and 
started toward the door. Jewel turned for a second and 
addressed the provoker of their flight. 

"I know all about you!" she said fiercely. "Nice 
friend, you are, I'll say. He told me about you." 

Then she seized Gordon's arm, and together they 
made their way through the curious crowd, paid their 
check, and went out. 

"You'll have to sit down," said the waiter to Peter 
after they had gone. 

"What's 'at? Sit down?" 

"Yes or get out." 

Peter turned to Dean. 

"Come on," he suggested. "Let's beat up this 
waiter." 

"All right." 

They advanced toward him, their faces grown stern. 
The waiter retreated. 

Peter suddenly reached over to a plate on the table 
beside him and picking up a handful of hash tossed it 
into the air. It descended as a languid parabola in 
snowflake effect on the heads of those near by. 

"Hey! Ease up!" 

"Put him out!" 

"Sit down, Peter!" 

"Cut out that stuff!" 

Peter laughed and bowed. 

"Thank you for your kind applause, ladies and gents. 
If some one will lend me some more hash and a tall hat 
we will go on with the act." 



n6 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

The bouncer bustled up. 

" You've gotta get out!" he said to Peter. 

"Hell, no!" 

"He's my friend !" put in Dean indignantly. 

A crowd of waiters were gathering. "Put him out !" 

"Better go, Peter." 

There was a short struggle and the two were edged 
and pushed toward the door. 

1 ot a hat and a coat here!" cried Peter. 

"Well, go get 'em and be spry about it!" 

The bouncer released his hold on Peter, who, adopt- 
ing a ludicrous air of extreme cunning, rushed im- 
mediately around to the other table, where he burst 
into derisive laughter and thumbed his nose at the exas- 
perated waiters. 

'Think I just better wait a 1'iP longer," he announced. 

The chase began. Four waiters were sent around one 
way and four another. Dean caught hold of two of 
them by the coat, and another struggle took place be- 
fore the pursuit of Peter could be resumed; he was 
finally pinioned after overturning a sugar-bowl and sev- 
eral cups of coffee. A fresh argument ensued at the 
cashier's desk, where Peter attempted to buy another 
dish of hash to take with him and throw at policemen. 

But the commotion upon his exit proper was dwarfed 
by another phenomenon which drew admiring glances 
and a prolonged involuntary "Oh-h-h!" from every 
person in the restaurant. 

The great plate-glass front had turned to a deep 
creamy blue, the color of a Maxfield Parrish moonlight 
a blue that seemed to press close upon the pane as if to 
crowd its way into the restaurant. Dawn had come up 
in Columbus Circle, magical, breathless dawn, silhou- 
etting the great statue of the immortal Christopher, and 
mingling in a curious and uncanny manner with the 
fading yellow electric light inside. 



MAY DAY 117 

X 

Mr. In and Mr. Out are not listed by the census-taker. 
You will search for them in vain through the social 
register or the births, marriages, and deaths, or the 
grocer's credit list. Oblivion has swallowed them 
and the testimony that they ever existed at all is vague 
and shadowy, and inadmissible in a court of law. Yet 
I have it upon the best authority that for a brief 
space Mr. In and Mr. Out lived, breathed, answered 
to their names and radiated vivid personalities of their 
own. 

During the brief span of their lives they walked in 
their native garments down the great highway of a great 
nation; were laughed at, sworn at, chased, and fled from. 
Then they passed and were heard of no more. 

They were already taking form dimly, when a taxi- 
cab with the top open breezed down Broadway in the 
faintest glimmer of May dawn. In this car sat the souls 
of Mr. In and Mr. Out discussing with amazement the 
blue light that had so precipitately colored the sky be- 
hind the statue of Christopher Columbus, discussing 
with bewilderment the old, gray faces of the early risers 
which skimmed palely along the street like blown bits of 
paper on a gray lake. They were agreed on all things, 
from the absurdity of the bouncer hi Childs' to the ab- 
surdity of the business of life. They were dizzy with 
the extreme maudlin happiness that the morning had 
awakened in their glowing souls. Indeed, so fresh and 
vigorous was their pleasure in living that they felt it 
should be expressed by loud cries. 

"Ye-ow-ow!" hooted Peter, making a megaphone 
with his hands and Dean joined in with a call that, 
though equally significant and symbolic, derived its 
resonance from its very inarticulateness. 

"Yo-ho! Yea! Yoho! Yo-buba!" 



n8 TALES OF THE JAZZ A(,J 

Fifty-third Street was a bus with a dark, bobbed-hair 
beauty atop; Fifty-second was a street cleaner who 
dodged, escaped, and sent up a yell of, "Look where 
you're aimin'l" in a pained and grieved voice. At 
Fiftieth Street a group of men on a very white sidewalk 
in front of a very white building turned to stare after 
them, and shouted: 

"Some party, b< 

At Forty-ninth Stied IVter turned to Dean. "Beau- 
tiful morning," he said gravely, squinting up his owlish 
eyes. 

"Probably is." 

"Go get some bi hey?" 

Dean agreed with additions. 

"Breakfast and liquor." 

"Breakfast and liquor," repeated Peter, and they 
looked at each other, nodding. "That's logical." 

Then they both burst into loud laughter. 

" Breakfast and liquor ! Oh, gosh ! " 

"No such thin^." announced Peter. 

"Don't serve it? Xe'mind. We force 'em serve it. 
Bring pressure bear." 

"Bring logic bear." 

The taxi cut suddenly off Broadway, sailed along a 
cross street, and stopped in front of a heavy tomb-like 
building in Fifth Avenue. 

"What's idea?" 

The taxi-driver informed them that this was Del- 
monico's. 

This was somewhat puzzling. They were forced to 
devote several minutes to intense concentration, for if 
such an order had been given there must have been a 
reason for it. 

"Somep'm 'bouta coat," suggested the taxi-man. 

That was it. Peter's overcoat and hat. He had left 



MAY DAY 119 

them at Delmonico's. Having decided this, they dis- 
embarked from the taxi and strolled toward the entrance 
arm in arm. 

"Hey!" said the taxi-driver. 

"Huh?" 

"You better pay me." 

They shook their heads in shocked negation. 

"Later, not now we give orders, you wait." 

The taxi-driver objected; he wanted his money now. 
With the scornful condescension of men exercising tre- 
mendous self-control they paid him. 

Inside Peter groped in vain through a dim, deserted 
check-room in search of his coat and derby. 

"Gone, I guess. Somebody stole it." 

"Some Sheff student." 

"All probability." 

"Never mind," said Dean, nobly. "I'll leave mine 
here too then we'll both be dressed the same." 

He removed his overcoat and hat and was hanging 
them up when his roving glance was caught and held 
magnetically by two large squares of cardboard tacked 
to the two coat-room doors. The one on the left-hand 
door bore the word "In" in big black letters, and the 
one on the right-hand door flaunted the equally emphatic 
word "Out." 

"Look !" he exclaimed happily 

Peter's eyes followed his pointing finger. 

"What?" 

"Look at the signs. Let's take 'em." 

"Good idea." 

"Probably pair very rare an' valuable signs. Prob- 
ably come in handy." 

Peter removed the left-hand sign from the door and 
endeavored to conceal it about his person. The sign 
being of considerable proportions, this was a matter of 



120 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

some difficulty. An idea flung itself at him, and with an 
air of dignified mystery he turned his back. After 
an instant he wheeled dramatically around, and stretch- 
ing out his arms displayed himself to the admiring Dean. 
He had inserted the sign in his vest, completely cover- 
ing his shirt front. In effect, the word "In" had been 
painted upon his shirt in large black letters. 

" Yoho !" cheered Dean. "Mister In." 

He inserted his own sign in like manner. 

"Mister Out!" he announced triumphantly. "Mr. 
In meet Mr. Out." 

They advanced and shook hands. Again laughter over- 
came them and they rocked in a shaken spasm of mirth. 

"Yoho!" 

"We probably get a flock of breakfast." 

"We'll go go to the Commodore." 

Arm in arm they sallied out the door, and turning 
east in Forty-fourth Street set out for the Commodore. 

As they came out a short dark soldier, very pale and 
tired, who had been wandering listlessly along the side- 
walk, turned to look at them. 

He started over as though to address them, but as 
they immediately bent on him glances of withering un- 
recognition, he waited until they had started unsteadily 
down the street, and then followed at about forty paces, 
chuckling to himself and saying "Oh, boy!" over and 
over under his breath, in delighted, anticipatory tones. 

Mr. In and Mr. Out were meanwhile exchanging plea- 
santries concerning their future plans. 

"We want liquor; we want breakfast. Neither with- 
out the other. One and indivisible," 

"We want both 'em!" 

"Both 'em!" 

It was quite light now, and passers-by began to bend 
curious eyes on the pair. Obviously they were engaged 
in a discussion, which afforded each of them intense 



MAY DAY 121 

amusement, for occasionally a fit of laughter would 
seize upon them so violently that, still with their arms 
interlocked, they would bend nearly double. 

Reaching the Commodore, they exchanged a few 
spicy epigrams with the sleepy-eyed doorman, navigated 
the revolving door with some difficulty, and then made 
their way through a thinly populated but startled lobby 
to the dining-room, where a puzzled waiter showed them 
an obscure table in a corner. They studied the bill of 
fare helplessly, telling over the items to each other in 
puzzled mumbles. 

" Don't see any liquor here," said Peter reproachfully. 

The waiter became audible but unintelligible. 

"Repeat," continued Peter, with patient tolerance, 
"that there seems to be unexplained and quite distaste- 
ful lack of liquor upon bill of fare." 

"Here !" said Dean confidently, "let me handle him." 
He turned to the waiter "Bring us bring us ' he 
scanned the bill of fare anxiously. "Bring us a quart 
of champagne and a a probably ham sandwich." 

The waiter looked doubtful. 

"Bring it!" roared Mr. In and Mr. Out in chorus. 

The waiter coughed and disappeared. There was a 
short wait during which they were subjected without 
their knowledge to a careful scrutiny by the head- 
waiter. Then the champagne arrived, and at the sight 
of it Mr. In and Mr. Out became jubilant. 

"Imagine their objecting to us having champagne for 
breakfast jus' imagine." 

They both concentrated upon the vision of such an 
awesome possibility, but the feat was too much for them. 
It was impossible for their joint imaginations to conjure 
up a world where any one might object to any one else 
having champagne for breakfast. The waiter drew the 
cork with an enormous pop and their glasses imme- 
diately foamed with pale yellow froth. 



122 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

"Here's health, Mr. In." 

" Here's same to you, Mr. Out." 

The waiter withdrew; the minutes passed; the cham- 
pagne became low in the bottle. 

"It's it's mortifying," said Dean suddenly. 

"Wha's mortifying?" 

"The idea their objecting us having champagne 
breakfast." 

"Mortifying ? " Peter considered. " Yes, tha's word 
mortifying." 

Again they collapsed into laughter, howled, swayed, 
rocked back and forth in their chairs, repeating the 
word "mortifying" over and over to each other each 
repetition seeming to make it only more brilliantly ab- 
surd. 

After a few more gorgeous minutes they decided on 
another quart. Their anxious waiter consulted his im- 
mediate superior, and this discreet person gave implicit 
instructions that no more champagne should be served. 
Their check was brought. 

Five minutes later, arm in arm, they left the Commo- 
dore and made their way through a curious, staring 
crowd along Forty-second Street, and up Vanderbilt 
Avenue to the Biltmore. There, with sudden cunning, 
they rose to the occasion and traversed the lobby, 
walking fast and standing unnaturally erect. 

Once in the dining-room they repeated their perform- 
ance. They were torn between intermittent convulsive 
laughter and sudden spasmodic discussions of politics, 
college, and the sunny state of their dispositions. Their 
watches told them that it was now nine o'clock, and a 
dim idea was born in them that they were on a memora- 
ble party, something that they would remember always. 
They lingered over the second bottle. Either of them 
had only to mention the word "mortifying" to send 



MAY DAY 123 

them both into riotous gasps. The dining-room was 
whirring and shifting now; a curious lightness permeated 
and rarefied the heavy air. 

They paid their check and walked out into the lobby. 

It was at this moment that the exterior doors revolved 
for the thousandth time that morning, and admitted 
into the lobby a very pale young beauty with dark cir- 
cles under her eyes, attired in a much-rumpled evening 
dress. She was accompanied by a plain stout man, 
obviously not an appropriate escort. 

At the top of the stairs this couple encountered Mr. 
In and Mr. Out. 

"Edith," began Mr. In, stepping toward her hilari- 
ously and making a sweeping bow, " darling, good morn- 
ing." 

The stout man glanced questioningly at Edith, as if 
merely asking her permission to throw this man sum- 
marily out of the way. 

"'Scuse familiarity," added Peter, as an afterthought. 
" Edith, good-morning." 

He seized Dean's elbow and impelled him into the 
foreground. 

"Meet Mr. In, Edith, my bes' frien'. Inseparable. 
Mr. In and Mr. Out." 

Mr. Out advanced and bowed ; in fact, he advanced so 
far and bowed so low that he tipped slightly forward 
and only kept his balance by placing a hand lightly on 
Edith's shoulder. 

"I'm Mr. Out, Edith," he mumbled pleasantly, " S'mis- 
terin Misterout." 

" 'Smisterinanout," said Peter proudly. 

But Edith stared straight by them, her eyes fixed on 
some infinite speck in the gallery above her. She 
nodded slightly to the stout man, who advanced bull- 
like and with a sturdy brisk gesture pushed Mr. In and 



i2 4 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

Mr. Out to either side. Through this alley he and Edith 
walked. 

But ten paces farther on Edith stopped again stopped 
and pointed to a short, dark soldier who was eying the 
crowd in general, and the tableau of Mr. In and Mr. Out 
in particular, with a sort of puzzled, spell-bound awe. 

"There," cried Edith. "See there !" 

Her voice rose, became somewhat shrill. Her point- 
ing ringer shook slightly. 

"There's the soldier who broke my brother's leg." 

There were a dozen exclamations ; a man in a cutaway 
coat left his place near the desk and advanced alertly; 
the stout person made a sort of lightning-like spring 
toward the short, dark soldier, and then the lobby closed 
around the little group and blotted them from the 
sight of Mr. In and Mr. Out. 

But to Mr. In and Mr. Out this event was merely a 
particolored iridescent segment of a whirring, spinning 
world. 

They heard loud voices; they saw the stout man 
spring; the picture suddenly blurred. 

Then they were in an elevator bound skyward. 

"What floor, please?" said the elevator man. 

"Any floor," said Mr. In. 

"Top floor," said Mr. Out. 

"This is the top floor," said the elevator man. 

"Have another floor put on," said Mr. Out. 

"Higher," said Mr. In. 

"Heaven," said Mr. Out. 

XI 

In a bedroom of a small hotel just off Sixth Avenue 
Gordon Sterrett awoke with a pain in the back of his 
head and a sick throbbing in all his veins. He looked at 



MAY DAY 125 

the dusky gray shadows in the corners of the room and at 
a raw place on a large leather chair in the corner where 
it had long been in use. He saw clothes, dishevelled, 
rumpled clothes on the floor and he smelt stale cigarette 
smoke and stale liquor. The windows were tight shut. 
Outside the bright sunlight had thrown a dust-filled beam 
across the sill a beam broken by the head of the wide 
wooden bed in which he had slept. He lay very quiet 
comatose, drugged, his eyes wide, his mind clicking 
wildly like an unoiled machine. 

It must have been thirty seconds after he perceived 
the sunbeam with the dust on it and the rip on the large 
leather chair that he had the sense of life close beside 
him, and it was another thirty seconds after that be- 
fore that he realized that he was irrevocably married to 
Jewel Hudson. 

He went out half an hour later and bought a revolver 
at a sporting goods store. Then he took a taxi to the 
room where he had been living on East Twenty-seventh 
Street, and, leaning across the table that held his drawing 
materials, fired a cartridge into his head just behind the 
temple. 



PORCELAIN AND PINK 

A room in the down-stairs of a summer cottage. High 
around the wall runs an art frieze of a fisherman with 
a pile of nets at his feet and a ship on a crimson ocean, 
a fisherman with a pile of nets at his feet and a ship 
on a crimson ocean, a fisherman with a pile of nets 
at his feet and so on. In one place on the frieze there 
is an overlapping here we have half a fisherman 
with half a pile of nets at his foot, crowded damply 
against half a ship on half a crimson ocean. The 
frieze is not in the plot, but frankly it fascinates me. 
I could continue indefinitely, but I am distracted by 
one of the two objects in the room a blue porcelain 
bath-tub. It has character, this bath-tub. It is not 
one of the new racing bodies, but is small with a high 
tonneau and looks as if it were going to jump ; dis- 
couraged, however, by the shortness of its legs, it has 
submitted to its environment and to its coat of sky-blue 
paint. But it grumpily refuses to allow any patron 
completely to stretch his legs which brings us neatly 
to the second object in the room : 

It is a girl clearly an appendage to the bath-tub, only her 
head and throat beautiful girls have throats instead 
of necks and a suggestion of shoulder appearing 
above the side. For the first ten minutes of the play 
the audience is engrossed in wondering if she really 
is playing the game fairly and hasn't any clothes on 
or whether it is being cheated and she is dressed. 

The girl's name is JULIE MAR vis. From the proud way 
she sits up in the bath-tub we deduce that she is not 
very tall and that she carries herself well. When 
126 



PORCELAIN AND PINK 127 

she smiles, her upper lip rolls a little and reminds you 
of an Easter Bunny. She is within whispering dis- 
tance of twenty years old. 

One thing more above and to the right of the bath-tub is a 
window. It is narrow and has a wide sill ; it lets in 
much sunshine, but effectually prevents any one who 
looks in from seeing the bath-tub. You begin to sus- 
pect the plot? 

We open, conventionally enough, with a song, but, as the 
startled gasp of the audience quite drowns out the 
first half, we will give only the last of it : 
JULIE: (In an airy sophrano-enthusiastico) 

When Caesar did the Chicago 
He was a graceful child, 

Those sacred chickens 

Just raised the dickens 
The Vestal Virgins went wild. 
Whenever the Nervii got nervy 
He gave them an awful razz 

They shook in their shoes 

With the Consular blues 
The Imperial Roman Jazz 

(During the wild applause that follows JULIE mod- 
estly moves her arms and makes waves on the 
surface of the water at least we suppose she 
does. Then the door on the left opens and Lois 
MARVIS enters, dressed but carrying garments 
and towels. Lois is a year older than JULIE 
and is nearly her double in face and voice, but in 
her clothes and expression are the marks of the 
conservative. Yes, you've guessed it. Mistaken 
identity is the old, rusty pivot upon which the 
plot turns.) 



128 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

Lois: (Starting) Oh, 'scuse me. I didn't know you 
were here. 

JULIE: Oh, hello. I'm giving a little concert- 
Lois : (Interrupting) Why didn't you lock the door ? 

JULIE: Didn't I? 

Lois: Of course you didn't. Do you think I just 
walked through it ? 

JULIE: I thought you picked the lock, dearest. 

Lois: You're so careless. 

JULIE: No. I'm happy as a garbage-man's dog and 
I'm giving a little concert. 

Lois : (Severely) Grow up ! 

JULIE : (Waving a pink arm around the room) The walls 
reflect the sound, you see. That's why there's something 
very beautiful about singing in a bath-tub. It gives an 
effect of surpassing loveliness. Can I render you a 
selection ? 

Lois: I wish you'd hurry out of the tub. 

JULIE: (Shaking her head thoughtfully) Can't be hur- 
ried. This is my kingdom at present, Godliness. 

Lois: Why the mellow name? 

JULIE: Because you're next to Cleanliness. Don't 
throw anything please! 

Lois: How long will you be ? 

JULIE: (After some consideration) Not less than fif- 
teen nor more than twenty-five minutes. 

Lois: As a favor to me will you make it ten ? 

JULIE : (Reminiscing) Oh, Godliness, do you remember 
a day in the chill of last January when one Julie, famous 
for her Easter-rabbit smile, was going out and there 
was scarcely any hot water and young Julie had just 
filled the tub for her own little self when the wicked 
sister came and did bathe herself therein, forcing the 
young Julie to perform her ablutions with cold cream 
which is expensive and a darn lot of trouble ? 



PORCELAIN AND PINK 129 

Lois : (Impatiently) Then you won't hurry ? 

JULIE : Why should I ? 

Lois: I've got a date. 

JULIE : Here at the house ? 

Lois : None of your business. 

(JULIE shrugs the visible tips of her shoulders and 
stirs the water into ripples.) 

JULIE: So be it. 

Lois : Oh, for Heaven's sake, yes ! I have a date here 
at the house in a way. 

JULIE : In a way ? 

Lois: He isn't coming in. He's calling for me and 
we're walking. 

JULIE: (Raising her eyebrows) Oh, the plot clears. 
It's that literary Mr. Calkins. I thought you prom- 
ised mother you wouldn't invite him in. 

Lois: (Desperately) She's so idiotic. She detests him 
because he's just got a divorce. Of course she's had 
more experience than I have, but 

JULIE: (Wisely) Don't let her kid you! Experience 
is the biggest gold brick in the world. All older people 
have it for sale. 

Lois: I like him. We talk literature. 

JULIE: Oh, so that's why I've noticed all these weighty 
books around the house lately. 

Lois: He lends them to me. 

JULIE: Well, you've got to play his game. When in 
Rome do as the Romans would like to do. But I'm 
through with books. I'm all educated. 

Lois: You're very inconsistent last summer you 
read every day. 

JULIE: If I were consistent I'd still be living on warm 
milk out of a bottle. 

Lois: Yes, and probably my bottle. But I like Mr. 
Calkins. 



i 3 o TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

JULIE: I never met him. 

Lois : Well, will you hurry up ? 

JULIE: Yes. (After a pause) I wait till the water 
gets tepid and then I let in more hot. 

Lois : (Sarcastically) How interesting ! 

JULIE: 'Member when we used to play "soapo" ? 

Lois: Yes and ten years old. I'm really quite sur- 
prised that you don't play it still. 

JULIE: I do. I'm going to in a minute. 

Lois: Silly game. 

JULIE: (Warmly) No, it isn't. It's good for the 
nerves. I'll bet you've forgotten how to play it. 

Lois: (Defiantly) No, I haven't. You you get the 
tub all full of soapsuds and then you get up on the edge 
and slide down. 

JULIE: (Shaking her head scornfully) Huh! That's 
only part of it. You've got to slide down without touch- 
ing your hands or feet 

Lois: (Impatiently) Oh, Lord! What do I care? I 
wish we'd either stop coming here in the summer or 
else get a house with two bath-tubs. 

JULIE: You can buy yourself a little tin one, or use 
the hose 

Lois: Oh, shut up! 

JULIE: (Irrelevantly) Leave the towel. 

Lois: What? 

JULIE: Leave the towel when you go. 

Lois : This towel ? 

JULIE: (Sweetly) Yes, I forgot my towel. 

Lois: (Looking around for the first time] Why, you 
idiot ! You haven't even a kimono. 

JULIE: (Also looking around) Why, so I haven't. 

Lois: (Suspicion growing on her) How did you get 
here? 

JULIE: (Laughing) I guess I I guess I whisked here. 



PORCELAIN AND PINK 131 

You know a white form whisking down the stairs 
and 

Lois: (Scandalized] Why, you little wretch. Haven't 
you any pride or self-respect ? 

JULIE: Lots of both. I think that proves it. Hooked 
very well. I really am rather cute in my natural state. 

Lois: Well, you 

JULIE: (Thinking aloud) I wish people didn't wear any 
clothes. I guess I ought to have been a pagan or a na- 
tive or something. 

Lois: You're a 

JULIE : I dreamt last night that one Sunday in church 
a small boy brought in a magnet that attracted cloth. 
He attracted the clothes right off of everybody; put 
them in an awful state; people were crying and shriek- 
ing and carrying on as if they'd just discovered their 
skins for the first time. Only / didn't care. So I just 
laughed. I had to pass the collection plate because no- 
body else would. 

Lois: (Who has turned a deaf ear to this speech) Do 
you mean to tell me that if I hadn't come you'd have 
run back to your room un unclothed ? 

JULIE: Au naturel is so much nicer. 

Lois : Suppose there had been some one in the living- 
room. 

JULIE: There never has been yet. 

Lois: Yet ! Good grief ! How long 

JULIE: Besides, I usually have a towel. 

Lois: (Completely overcome) Golly! You ought to 
be spanked. I hope you get caught. I hope there's a 
dozen ministers in the living-room when you come out 
and their wives and their daughters. 

JULIE: There wouldn't be room for them in the living- 
room, answered Clean Kate of the Laundry District. 



132 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

Lois: All right. You've made your own bath-tub; 
you can lie in it. 

(Lois starts determinedly for the door.) 
JULEE: (In alarm) Hey! Hey! I don't care about 
the k'mono, but I want the towel. I can't dry myself 
on a piece of soap and a wet wash-rag. 

Lois: (Obstinately) I won't humor such a creature. 
You'll have to dry yourself the best way you can. You 
can roll on the floor like the animals do that don't wear 
any clothes. 

JULIE: (Complacent again) All right. Get out! 
Lois: (Haughtily) Huh! 

(JULIE turns on the cold water and with her finger 
directs a parabolic stream at Lois. Lois retires 
quickly, slamming the door after her. JULIE 
laughs and turns off the water) 
JULIE: (Singing) 

When the Arrow-collar man 

Meets the D'jer-kiss girl 
On the smokeless Sante F6 

Her Pebeco smile 

Her Lucile style 
De dum da-de-dum one day 

(She changes to a whistle and leans forward to 
turn on the taps, but is startled by three loud 
banging noises in the pipes. Silence for a mo- 
ment then she puts her mouth down near the 
spigot as if it were a telephone) 

JULIE: Hello! (No answer) Are you a plumber? 
(No answer) Are you the water department ? (One 
loud, hollow bang) What do you want ? (No answer) 
I believe you're a ghost. Are you ? (No answer) 
Well, then, stop banging. (She reaches out and turns 
on the warm tap. No water flows. Again she puts her 



PORCELAIN AND PINK 133 

mouth down close to the spigot) If you're the plumber 
that's a mean trick. Turn it on for a fellow. (Two 
loud, hollow bangs) Don't argue! I want water- 
water! Water! 

(A young man's head appears in the window a 
head decorated with a slim mustache and sympa- 
thetic eyes. These last stare, and though they 
can see nothing but many fishermen with nets 
and much crimson ocean, they decide him to 
speak) 

THE YOUNG MAN: Some one fainted ? 

JULIE: (Starting up, all ears immediately) Jumping 
cats! 

THE YOUNG MAN: (Helpfully) Water's no good for 
fits. 

JULIE : Fits ! Who said anything about fits ! 

THE YOUNG MAN: You said something about a cat 
jumping. 

JULIE: (Decidedly) I did not! 

THE YOUNG MAN: Well, we can talk it over later. 
Are you ready to go out ? Or do you still feel that if 
you go with me just now everybody will gossip ? 

JULIE: (Smiling) Gossip! Would they? It'd be 
more than gossip it'd be a regular scandal. 

THE YOUNG MAN: Here, you're going it a little strong. 
Your family might be somewhat disgruntled but to 
the pure all things are suggestive. No one else would 
even give it a thought, except a few old women. Come 
on. 

JULIE: You don't know what you ask. 

THE YOUNG MAN: Do you imagine we'd have a 
crowd following us ? 

JULIE: A crowd? There'd be a special, all-steel, 
buffet train leaving New York hourly. 

THE YOUNG MAN: Say, are you house-cleaning? 



134 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

JULIE: Why? 

THE YOUNG MAN: I see all the pictures are off the 
walls. 

JULIE: Why, we never have pictures in this room. 

THE YOUNG MAN: Odd. I never heard of a room 
without pictures or tapestry or panelling or something. 

JULIE: There's not even any furniture in here. 

THE YOUNG MAN: What a strange house! 

JULIE: It depends on the angle you see it from. 

THE YOUNG MAN: (Sentimentally) It's so nice talking 
to you like this when you're merely a voice. I'm 
rather glad I can't see you. 

JULIE: (Gratefully) So am I. 

THE YOUNG MAN: What color are you wearing ? 

JULIE : (After a critical survey of her shoulders) Why, I 
guess it's a sort of pinkish white. 

THE YOUNG MAN: Is it becoming to you ? 

JULIE: Very. It's it's old. I've had it for a long 
while. 

THE YOUNG MAN: I thought you hated old 
clothes. 

JULIE: I do but this was a birthday present and I 
sort of have to wear it. 

THE YOUNG MAN: Pinkish white. Well, I'll bet it's 
divine. Is it in style ? 

JULIE: Quite. It's very simple, standard model. 

THE YOUNG MAN: What a voice you have ! How it 
echoes! Sometimes I shut my eyes and seem to see 
you in a far desert island calling for me. And I plunge 
toward you through the surf, hearing you call as you 
stand there, water stretching on both sides of you 

( The soap slips from the side of tlie tub and splashes 
in. The young man blinks) 

THE YOUNG MAN: What was that ? Did I dream it ? 

JULIE: Yes. You're you're very poetic, aren't you? 



PORCELAIN AND PINK 135 

THE YOUNG MAN: (Dreamily) No. I do prose. I 
do verse only when I am stirred. 

JULIE: (Murmuring) Stirred by a spoon 

THE YOUNG MAN: I have always loved poetry. I 
can remember to this day the first poem I ever learned 
by heart. It was "Evangeline." 

JULIE: That's a fib. 

THE YOUNG MAN: Did I say "Evangeline" ? I 
meant "The Skeleton in Armor. " 

JULIE: I'm a low-brow. But I can remember my first 
poem. It had one verse: 

Parker and Davis 
Sittin' on a fence 
Tryne to make a dollar 
Outa fif-teen cents. 

THE YOUNG MAN: (Eagerly) Are you growing fond of 
literature ? 

JULIE: If it's not too ancient or complicated or de- 
pressing. Same way with people. I usually like 'em 
if they're not too ancient or complicated or depressing. 

THE YOUNG MAN: Of course I've read enormously. 
You told me last night that you were very fond of Walter 
Scott. 

JULIE: (Considering) Scott? Let's see. Yes, I've 
read "Ivanhoe" and "The Last of the Mohicans." 

THE YOUNG MAN: That's by Cooper. 

JULLE: (Angrily) "Ivanhoe" is? You're crazy! I 
guess I know. I read it. 

THE YOUNG MAN: "The Last of the Mohicans" is 
by Cooper. 

JULIE: What do I care! I like O. Henry. I don't 
see how he ever wrote those stories. Most of them he 
wrote in prison. "The Ballad of Reading Gaol " he 
made up in prison. 



136 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

THE YOUNG MAN: (Biting his lip) Literature litera- 
ture ! How much it has meant to me ! 

JULIE: Well, as Gaby Deslys said to Mr. Bergson, 
with my looks and your brains there's nothing we couldn't 
do. 

THE YOUNG MAN: (Laughing) You certainly are hard 
to keep up with. One day you're awfully pleasant and 
the next you're in a mood. If I didn't understand your 
temperament so well 

JULIE: (Impatiently) Oh, you're one of these amateur 
character-readers, are you ? Size people up in five min- 
utes and then look wise whenever they're mentioned. I 
hate that sort of thing. 

THE YOUNG MAN: I don't boast of sizing you up. 
You're most mysterious, I'll admit. 

JULIE : There's only two mysterious people in history. 

THE YOUNG MAN: Who are they? 

JULIE: The Man with the Iron Mask and the fella 
who says "ug uh-glug uh-glug uh-glug" when the line 
is busy. 

THE YOUNG MAN: You are mysterious. I love you. 
You're beautiful, intelligent, and virtuous, and that's 
the rarest known combination. 

JULIE: You're a historian. Tell me if there are any 
bath-tubs in history. I think they've been frightfully 
neglected. 

THE YOUNG MAN: Bath-tubs! Let's see. Well, Aga- 
memnon was stabbed in his bath-tub. And Charlotte 
Corday stabbed Marat in his bath-tub. 

JULIE: (Sighing) Way back there! Nothing new be- 
sides the sun, is there ? Why only yesterday I picked 
up a musical-comedy score that must have been at least 
twenty years old; and there on the cover it said "The 
Shimmies of Normandy," but shimmie was spelt the 
old way, with a "C." 



PORCELAIN AND PINK 137 

THE YOUNG MAN: I loathe these modern dances. 
Oh, Lois, I wish I could see you. Come to the window. 
(There is a loud bang in the water -pipe and sud- 
denly the flow starts from the open taps. Julie 
turns them off quickly) 

THE YOUNG MAN: (Puzzled) What on earth was 
that? 

JULIE: (Ingeniously) I heard something, too. 

THE YOUNG MAN: Sounded like running water. 

JULIE: Didn't it? Strange like it. As a matter of 
fact I was filling the gold-fish bowl. 

THE YOUNG MAN: (Still puzzled) What was that bang- 
ing noise ? 

JULIE : One of the fish snapping his golden jaws. 

THE YOUNG MAN: (With sudden resolution) Lois, I 
love you. I am not a mundane man but I am a forg- 

JULIE: (Interested at once) Oh, how fascinating. 
THE YOUNG MAN: a forger ahead. Lois, I want 
you. 

JULIE: (SkeptkoMy) Huh! What you really want is 
for the world to come to attention and stand there till 
you give "Rest!" 

THE YOUNG MAN: Lois I Lois I 

(He stops as Lois opens the door, comes in, and 
bangs it behind her. She looks peevishly at 
JULIE and then suddenly catches sight of the 
young man in the window) 
Lois: (In horror) Mr. Calkins! 
THE YOUNG MAN: (Surprised) Why I thought you 
said you were wearing pinkish white ! 

(After one despairing stare Lois shrieks, throws up 

her hands in surrender, and sinks to the floor.) 
THE YOUNG MAN: (In great alarm) Good Lord ! 
She's fainted ! I'll be right in. 



138 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

(JULIE'S eyes light on the towel which has slipped 

from Lois's inert hand.) 
JULIE: In that case I'll be right out. 

(She puts her hands on the side of the tub to lift her- 
self out and a murmur, half gasp, half sigh, 
ripples from the audience. 

A Bdasco midnight comes quickly down and blots 
out the stage.) 

CURTAIN. 



FANTASIES 



THE DIAMOND AS BIG AS THE RITZ 



JOHN T. UNGER came from a family that had been well 
known in Hades a small town on the Mississippi River 
for several generations. John's father had held the 
amateur golf championship through many a heated con- 
test; Mrs. Unger was known "from hot-box to hot-bed," 
as the local phrase went, for her political addresses; and 
young John T. Unger, who had just turned sixteen, had 
danced all the latest dances from New York before he 
put on long trousers. And now, for a certain time, he 
was to be away from home. That respect for a New 
England education which is the bane of all provincial 
places, which drains them yearly of their most promis- 
ing young men, had seized upon his parents. Nothing 
would suit them but that he should go to St. Midas' 
School near Boston Hades was too small to hold their 
darling and gifted son. 

Now in Hades as you know if you ever have been 
there the names of the more fashionable preparatory 
schools and colleges mean very little. The inhabitants 
have been so long out of the world that, though they 
make a show of keeping up to date in dress and manners 
and literature, they depend to a great extent on hear- 
say, and a function that in Hades would be considered 
elaborate would doubtless be hailed by a Chicago beef- 
princess as "perhaps a little tacky." 

John T. Unger was on the eve of departure. Mrs. 
Unger, with maternal fatuity, packed his trunks full of 
linen suits and electric fans, and Mr. Unger presented 
his son with an asbestos pocket-book stuffed with money. 

141 



142 TALES OF THE JAZZ 

"Remember, you are always welcome here," he said. 
"You can be sure, boy, that we'll keep the home fires 
burning." 

"I know," answered John huskily. 

"Don't forget who you are and where you come from," 
continued his father proudly, "and you can do nothing 
to harm you. You are an Unger from Hades." 

So the old man and the young shook hands and John 
walked away with tears streaming from his eyes. Ten 
minutes later he had passed outside the city limits, and 
he stopped to glance back for the last time. Over the 
gates the old-fashioned Victorian motto seemed strangely 
attractive to him. His father had tried time and time 
again to have it changed to something with a little more 
push and verve about it, such as "Hades Your Op- 
portunity," or else a plain "Welcome" sign set over a 
hearty handshake pricked out in electric lights. The 
old motto was a little depressing, Mr. Unger had thought 
but now. . . . 

So John took his look and then set his face resolutely 
toward his destination. And, as he turned away, the 
lights of Hades against the sky seemed full of a warm 
and passionate beauty. 

St. Midas' School is half an hour from Boston in a 
Rolls-Pierce motor-car. The actual distance will never 
be known, for no one, except John T. Unger, had ever 
arrived there save in a Rolls-Pierce and probably no 
one ever will again. St. Midas' is the most expensive 
and the most exclusive boys' preparatory school in the 
world. 

John's first two years there passed pleasantly. The 
fathers of all the boys were money-kings and John spent 
his summers visiting at fashionable resorts. While he 
was very fond of all the boys he visited, their fathers 



THE DIAMOND AS BIG AS THE RITZ 143 

struck him as being much of a piece, and in his boyish 
way he often wondered at their exceeding sameness. 
When he told them where his home was they would 
ask jovially, "Pretty hot down there ?" and John would 
muster a faint smile and answer, "It certainly is." His 
response would have been heartier had they not all made 
this joke at best varying it with, "Is it hot enough 
for you down there ? " which he hated just as much. 

In the middle of his second year at school, a quiet, 
handsome boy named Percy Washington had been put 
in John's form. The newcomer was pleasant in his man- 
ner and exceedingly well dressed even for St. Midas', 
but for some reason he kept aloof from the other boys. 
The only person with whom he was intimate was John 
T. Unger, but even to John he was entirely uncommuni- 
cative concerning his home or his family. That he was 
wealthy went without saying, but beyond a few such 
deductions John knew little of his friend, so it promised 
rich confectionery for his curiosity when Percy invited 
him to spend the summer at his home "in the West." 
He accepted, without hesitation. 

It was only when they were in the train that Percy 
became, for the first time, rather communicative. One 
day while they were eating lunch in the dining-car and 
discussing the imperfect characters of several of the 
boys at school, Percy suddenly changed his tone and 
made an abrupt remark. 

"My father," he said, "is by far the richest man in 
the world." 

"Oh," said John, politely. He could think of no an- 
swer to make to this confidence. He considered "That's 
very nice," but it sounded hollow and was on the point 
of saying, "Really?" but refrained since it would seem 
to question Percy's statement. And such an astound- 
ing statement could scarcely be questioned. 



144 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

"By far the richest," repeated Percy. 

"I was reading in the World Almanac," began John, 
"that there was one man in America with an income of 
over five million a year and four men with incomes of 
over three million a year, and " 

"Oh, they're nothing." Percy's mouth was a half- 
moon of scorn. "Catch-penny capitalists, financial 
small-fry, petty merchants and money-lenders. My 
father could buy them out and not know he'd done it." 

"But how does he " 

"Why haven't they put down his income tax? Be- 
cause he doesn't pay any. At least he pays a little one 
but he doesn't pay any on his real income." 

"He must be very rich," said John simply. "I'm 
glad. I like very rich people. 

"The richer a fella is, the better I like him." There 
was a look of passionate frankness upon his dark face. 
"I visited the Schnlitzer-Murphys last Easter. Vivian 
Schnlitzer-Murphy had rubies as big as hen's eggs, 
and sapphires that were like globes with lights inside 
them " 

"I love jewels," agreed Percy enthusiastically. "Of 
course I wouldn't want any one at school to know about 
it, but I've got quite a collection myself. I used to 
collect them instead of stamps." 

"And diamonds," continued John eagerly. ''The 
Schnlitzer-Murphys had diamonds as big as walnuts 

"That's nothing." Percy had leaned forward and 
dropped his voice to a low whisper. "That's nothing 
at all. My father has a diamond bigger than the Ritz- 
Carlton Hotel." 

II 

The Montana sunset lay between two mountains like 
a gigantic bruise from which dark arteries spread them- 



THE DIAMOND AS BIG AS THE RITZ 145 

selves over a poisoned sky. An immense distance under 
the sky crouched the village of Fish, minute, dismal, and 
forgotten. There were twelve men, so it was said, in 
the village of Fish, twelve sombre and inexplicable 
souls who sucked a lean milk from the almost literally 
bare rock upon which a mysterious populatory force 
had begotten them. They had become a race apart, 
these twelve men of Fish, like some species developed 
by an early whim of nature, which on second thought 
had abandoned them to struggle and extermination. 

Out of the blue-black bruise in the distance crept a 
long line of moving lights upon the desolation of the 
land, and the twelve men of Fish gathered like ghosts 
at the shanty depot to watch the passing of the seven 
o'clock train, the Transcontinental Express from Chi- 
cago. Six times or so a year the Transcontinental Ex- 
press, through some inconceivable jurisdiction, stopped 
at the village of Fish, and when this occurred a figure 
or so would disembark, mount into a buggy that always 
appeared from out of the dusk, and drive off toward 
the bruised sunset. The observation of this pointless 
and preposterous phenomenon had become a sort of 
cult among the men of Fish. To observe, that was all; 
there remained in them none of the vital quality of il- 
lusion which would make them wonder or speculate, 
else a religion might have grown up around these mys- 
terious visitations. But the men of Fish were beyond 
all religion the barest and most savage tenets of even 
Christianity could gain no foothold on that barren rock 
so there was no altar, no priest, no sacrifice; only 
each night at seven the silent concourse by the shanty 
depot, a congregation who lifted up a prayer of dim, 
anaemic wonder. 

On this June night, the Great Brakeman, whom, had 
they deified any one, they might well have chosen as 



i 4 6 TALES O* THE JAZZ AGE 

their celestial protagonist, had ordained that the seven 
o'clock train should leave its human (or inhuman) 
deposit at Fish. At two minutes after seven Percy 
Washington and John T. Unger disembarked, hurried 
past the spellbound, the agape, the fearsome eyes of 
the twelve men of Fish, mounted into a buggy which 
had obviously appeared from nowhere, and drove away. 

After half an hour, when the twilight had coagulated 
into dark, the silent negro who was driving the buggy 
hailed an opaque body somewhere ahead of them in the 
gloom. In response to his cry, it turned upon them a 
luminous disk which regarded them like a malignant eye 
out of the unfathomable night. As they came closer, 
John saw that it was the tail-light of an immense auto- 
mobile, larger and more magnificent than any he had 
ever seen. Its body was of gleaming metal richer than 
nickel and lighter than silver, and the hubs of the wheels 
were studded with iridescent geometric figures of green 
and yellow John did not dare to guess whether they 
were glass or jewel. 

Two negroes, dressed in glittering livery such as one 
sees in pictures of royal processions in London, were 
standing at attention beside the car and as the two young 
men dismounted from the buggy they were greeted in 
some language which the guest could not understand, 
but which seemed to be an extreme form of the Southern 
negro's dialect. 

"Get in," said Percy to his friend, as their trunks 
were tossed to the ebony roof of the limousine. " Sorry 
we had to bring you this far in that buggy, but of course 
it wouldn't do for the people on the train or those God- 
forsaken fellas in Fish to see this automobile." 

"Gosh! What a car!" This ejaculation was pro- 
voked by its interior. John saw that the upholstery 
consisted of a thousand minute and exquisite tapestries 



THE DIAMOND AS BIG AS THE RITZ 147 

of silk, woven with jewels and embroideries, and set 
upon a background of cloth of gold. The two armchair 
seats in which the boys luxuriated were covered with 
stuff that resembled duvetyn, but seemed woven in num- 
berless colors of the ends of ostrich feathers. 

"What a car!" cried John again, in amazement. 

"This thing?" Percy laughed. "Why, it's just an 
old junk we use for a station wagon." 

By this time they were gliding along through the dark- 
ness toward the break between the two mountains. 

"We'll be there in an hour and a half," said Percy, 
looking at the clock. "I may as well tell you it's not 
going to be like anything you ever saw before." 

If the car was any indication of what John would 
see, he was prepared to be astonished indeed. The sim- 
ple piety prevalent in Hades has the earnest worship 
of and respect for riches as the first article of its creed 
had John felt otherwise than radiantly humble before 
them, his parents would have turned away in horror 
at the blashemy. 

They had now reached and were entering the break 
between the two mountains and almost immediately 
the way became much rougher. 

"If the moon shone down here, you'd see that we're 
in a big gulch," said Percy, trying to peer out of the 
window. He spoke a few words into the mouthpiece 
and immediately the footman turned on a search-light 
and swept the hillsides with an immense beam. 

"Rocky, you see. An ordinary car would be knocked 
to pieces in half an hour. In fact, it'd take a tank to 
navigate it unless you knew the way. You notice we're 
going uphill now." 

They were obviously ascending, and within a few 
minutes the car was crossing a high rise, where they 
caught a glimpse of a pale moon newly risen in the dis- 



148 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

tance. The car stopped suddenly and several figures 
took shape out of the dark beside it these were negroes 
also. Again the two young men were saluted in the 
same dimly recognizable dialect; then the negroes set 
to work and four immense cables dangling from over- 
head were attached with hooks to the hubs of the great 
jeweled wheels. At a resounding "Hey-yah!" John 
felt the car being lifted slowly from the ground up and 
up clear of the tallest rocks on both sides then higher, 
until he could see a wavy, moonlit valley stretched out 
before him in sharp contrast to the quagmire of rocks 
that they had just left. Only on one side was there 
still rock and then suddenly there was no rock beside 
them or anywhere around. 

It was apparent that they had surmounted some im- 
mense knife-blade of stone, projecting perpendicularly 
into the air. In a moment they were going down again, 
and finally with a soft bump they were landed upon the 
smooth earth. 

"The worst is over," said Percy, squinting out the 
window. "It's only five miles from here, and our own 
road tapestry brick all the way. This belongs to 
us. This is where the United States ends, father says." 

"Are we in Canada ?" 

"We are not. We're in the middle of the Montana 
Rockies. But you are now on the only five square miles 
of land in the country that's never been surveyed." 

"Why hasn't it ? Did they forget it ?" 

"No," said Percy, grinning, "they tried to do it three 
times. TTie first time my grandfather corrupted a whole 
department of the State survey; the second time he had 
the official maps of the United States tinkered with 
that held them for fifteen years. The last time was 
harder. My father fixed it so that their compasses were 
in the strongest magnetic field ever artificially set up. 



THE DIAMOND AS BIG AS THE RITZ 149 

He had a whole set of surveying instruments made with 
a slight defection that would allow for this territory not 
to appear, and he substituted them for the ones that 
were to be used. Then he had a river deflected and he 
had what looked like a village built up on its banks so 
that they'd see it, and think it was a town ten miles 
farther up the valley. There's only one thing my father's 
afraid of," he concluded, "only one thing in the world 
that could be used to find us out." 

"What's that?" 

Percy sank his voice to a whisper. 

"Aeroplanes," he breathed. "We've got half a doz- 
en anti-aircraft guns and we've arranged it so far but 
there've been a few deaths and a great many prisoners. 
Not that we mind that, you know, father and I, but it 
upsets mother and the girls, and there's always the 
chance that some time we won't be able to arrange it." 

Shreds and tatters of chinchilla, courtesy clouds in the 
green moon's heaven, were passing the green moon like 
precious Eastern stuffs paraded for the inspection of some 
Tartar Khan. It seemed to John that it was day, and 
that he was looking at some lads sailing above him in the 
air, showering down tracts and patent medicine circu- 
lars, with their messages of hope for despairing, rock- 
bound hamlets. It seemed to him that he could see 
them look down out of the clouds and stare and stare 
at whatever there was to stare at in this place whither 
he was bound What then? Were they induced 
to land by some insidious device there to be immured 
far from patent medicines and from tracts until the judg- 
ment day or, should they fail to fall into the trap, 
did a quick puff of smoke and the sharp round of a split- 
ting shell bring them drooping to earth and "upset" 
Percy's mother and sisters. John shook his head and 
the wraith of a hollow laugh issued silently from his 



1 50 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

parted lips. What desperate transaction lay hidden 
here ? What a moral expedient of a bizarre Croesus ? 
What terrible and golden mystery ? . . . 

The chinchilla clouds had drifted past now and out- 
side the Montana night was bright as day. The tapes- 
try brick of the road was smooth to the tread of the great 
tires as they rounded a still, moonlit lake; they passed 
into darkness for a moment, a pine grove, pungent and 
cool, then they came out into a broad avenue of lawn 
and John's exclamation of pleasure was simultaneous 
with Percy 's taciturn "We're home." 

Full in the light of the stars, an exquisite chateau 
rose from the borders of the lake, climbed in marble 
radiance half the height of an adjoining mountain, then 
melted in grace, in perfect symmetry, in translucent 
feminine languor, into the massed darkness of a forest 
of pine. The many towers, the slender tracery of the 
sloping parapets, the chiselled wonder of a thousand 
yellow windows with their oblongs and hectagons and 
triangles of golden light, the shattered softness of the 
intersecting planes of star-shine and blue shade, all 
trembled on John's spirit like a chord of music. On one 
of the towers, the tallest, the blackest at its base, an 
arrangement of exterior lights at the top made a sort 
of floating fairyland and as John gazed up in warm 
enchantment the faint acciaccare sound of violins 
drifted down in a rococo harmony that was like nothing 
he had ever heard before. Then in a moment the car 
stopped before wide, high marble steps around which 
the night air was fragrant with a host of flowers. At 
the top of the steps two great doors swung silently 
open and amber light flooded out upon the darkness, 
silhouetting the figure of an exquisite lady with black, 
high-piled hair, who held out her arms toward them. 

"Mother," Percy was saying, "this is my friend, John 
Unger, from Hades." 



THE DIAMOND AS BIG AS THE RITZ 151 

Afterward John remembered that first night as a daze 
of many colors, of quick sensory impressions, of music 
soft as a voice in love, and of the beauty of things, lights 
and shadows, and motions and faces. There was a white- 
haired man who stood drinking a many-hued cordial 
from a crystal thimble set on a golden stem. There 
was a girl with a flowery face, dressed like Titania with 
braided sapphires in her hair. There was a room where 
the solid, soft gold of the walls yielded to the pressure 
of his hand, and a room that was like a platonic con- 
ception of the ultimate prison ceiling, floor, and all, 
it was lined with an unbroken mass of diamonds, dia- 
monds of every size and shape, until, lit with tall violet 
lamps in the corners, it dazzled the eyes with a white- 
ness that could be compared only with itself, beyond 
human wish or dream. 

Through a maze of these rooms the two boys wan- 
dred. Sometimes the floor under their feet would flame 
in brilliant patterns from lighting below, patterns of 
barbaric clashing colors, of pastel delicacy, of sheer white- 
ness, or of subtle and intricate mosaic, surely from some 
mosque on the Adriatic Sea. Sometimes beneath layers 
of thick crystal he would see blue or green water swirl- 
ing, inhabited by vivid fish and growths of rainbow 
foliage. Then they would be treading on furs of 
every texture and color or along corridors of palest 
ivory, unbroken as though carved complete from the 
gigantic tusks of dinosaurs extinct before the age of 
man. . . . 

Then a hazily remembered transition, and they were 
at dinner where each plate was of two almost imper- 
ceptible layers of solid diamond between which was 
curiously worked a filigree of emerald design, a shaving 
sliced from green air. Music, plangent and unobtrusive, 
drifted down through far corridors his chair, feathered 
and curved insidiously to his back, seemed to engulf 



152 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

and overpower him as he drank his first glass of port. 
He tried drowsily to answer a question that had been 
asked him, but the honeyed luxury that clasped his body 
added to the illusion of sleep jewels, fabrics, wines, and 
metals blurred before his eyes into a sweet mist. . . . 

"Yes," he replied with a polite effort, "it certainly is 
hot enough for me down there." 

He managed to add a ghostly laugh; then, without 
movement, without resistance, he seemed to float off 
and away, leaving an iced dessert that was pink as a 
dream. ... He fell asleep. 

When he awoke he knew that several hours had 
passed. He was in a great quiet room with ebony walls 
and a dull illumination that was too faint, too subtle, 
to be called a light. His young host was standing over 
him. 

"You fell asleep at dinner," Percy was saying. "I 
nearly did, too it was such a treat to be comfortable 
again after this year of school. Servants undressed and 
bathed you while you were sleeping." 

"Is this a bed or a cloud?" sighed John. "Percy, 
Percy before you go, I want to apologize." 

"For what?" 

"For doubting you when you said you had a diamond 
as big as the Ritz-Carlton Hotel." 

Percy smiled. 

"I thought you didn't believe me. It's that moun- 
tain, you know." 

"What mountain?" 

"The mountain the chateau rests on. It's not very 
big, for a mountain. But except about fifty feet of sod 
and gravel on top it's solid diamond. One diamond, 
one cubic mile without a flaw. Aren't you listening ? 
Say " 

But John T. Unger had again fallen asleep. 



THE DIAMOND AS BIG AS THE RITZ 153 



III 

Morning. As he awoke he perceived drowsily that 
the room had at the same moment become dense with 
sunlight. The ebony panels of one wall had slid aside 
on a sort of track, leaving his chamber half open to the 
day. A large negro in a white uniform stood beside his 
bed. 

"Good-evening," muttered John, summoning his 
brains from the wild places. 

"Good-morning, sir. Are you ready for your bath, 
sir? Oh, don't get up I'll put you in, if you'll just 
unbutton your pajamas there. Thank you, sir." 

John lay quietly as his pajamas were removed he 
was amused and delighted; he expected to be lifted like 
a child by this black Gargantua who was tending him, 
but nothing of the sort happened; instead he felt the 
bed tilt up slowly on its side he began to roll, startled 
at first, in the direction of the wall, but when he reached 
the wall its drapery gave way, and sliding two yards 
farther down a fleecy incline he plumped gently into 
water the same temperature as his body. 

He looked about him. The runway or rollway on 
which he had arrived had folded gently back into place. 
He had been projected into another chamber and was 
sitting in a sunken bath with his head just above the 
level of the floor. All about him, Lining the walls of the 
room and the sides and bottom of the bath itself, was a 
blue aquarium, and gazing through the crystal surface 
on which he sat, he could see fish swimming among 
amber lights and even gliding without curiosity past 
his outstretched toes, which were separated from them 
only by the thickness of the crystal. From overhead, 
sunlight came down through sea-green glass. 



i 5 4 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

"I suppose, sir, that you'd like hot rosewater and 
soapsuds this morning, sir and perhaps cold salt water 
to finish." 

The negro was standing beside him. 

" Yes," agreed John, smiling inanely, "as you please." 
Any idea of ordering this bath according to his own 
meagre standards of living would have been priggish 
and not a little wicked. 

The negro pressed a button and a warm rain began to 
fall, apparently from overhead, but really, so John dis- 
covered after a moment, from a fountain arrangement 
near by. The water turned to a pale rose color and jets 
of liquid soap spurted into it from four miniature wal- 
rus heads at the corners of the bath. In a moment a 
dozen little paddle-wheels, fixed to the sides, had churned 
the mixture into a radiant rainbow of pink foam which 
enveloped him softly with its delicious lightness, and 
burst in shining, rosy bubbles here and there about him. 

"Shall I turn on the moving-picture machine, sir?" 
suggested the negro deferentially. "There's a good one- 
reel comedy in this machine to-day, or I can put in a 
serious piece in a moment, if you prefer it." 

"No, thanks," answered John, politely but firmly. 
He was enjoying his bath too much to desire any dis- 
traction. But distraction came. In a moment he was 
listening intently to the sound of flutes from just out- 
side, flutes dripping a melody that was like a waterfall, 
cool and green as the room itself, accompanying a frothy 
piccolo, in play more fragile than the lace of suds that 
covered and charmed him. 

After a cold salt-water bracer and a cold fresh finish, 
he stepped out and into a fleecy robe, and upon a couch 
covered with the same material he was rubbed with oil, 
alcohol, and spice. Later he sat in a voluptuous chair 
while he was shaved and his hair was trimmed. 



THE DIAMOND AS BIG AS THE RITZ 155 

"Mr. Percy is waiting in your sitting-room," said the 
negro, when these operations were finished. "My name 
is Gygsum, Mr. Unger, sir. I am to see to Mr. linger 
every morning." 

John walked out into the brisk sunshine of his living- 
room, where he found breakfast waiting for him and 
Percy, gorgeous in white kid knickerbockers, smoking 
in an easy chair. 

IV 

This is a story of the Washington family as Percy 
sketched it for John during breakfast. 

The father of the present Mr. Washington had been 
a Virginian, a direct descendant of George Washington, 
and Lord Baltimore. At the close of the Civil War he 
was a twenty-five-year-old Colonel with a played-out 
plantation and about a thousand dollars in gold. 

Fitz-Norman Culpepper Washington, for that was the 
young Colonel's name, decided to present the Virginia 
estate to his younger brother and go West. He selected 
two dozen of the most faithful blacks, who, of course, 
worshipped him, and bought twenty-five tickets to the 
West, where he intended to take out land in their names 
and start a sheep and cattle ranch. 

When he had been in Montana for less than a month 
and things were going very poorly indeed, he stumbled 
on his great discovery. He had lost his way when riding 
in the hills, and after a day without food he began to 
grow hungry. As he was without his rifle, he was forced 
to pursue a squirrel, and in the course of the pursuit he 
noticed that it was carrying something shiny in its 
mouth. Just before it vanished into its hole for Provi- 
dence did not intend that this squirrel should alleviate 
his hunger it dropped its burden. Sitting down to 
consider the situation Fitz-Norman's eye was caught 



156 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

by a gleam in the grass beside him. In ten seconds he 
had completely lost his appetite and gained one hun- 
dred thousand dollars. The squirrel, which had re- 
fused with annoying persistence to become food, had 
made him a present of a large and perfect diamond. 

Late that night he found his way to camp and twelve 
hours later all the males among his darkies were back 
by the squirrel hole digging furiously at the side of the 
mountain. He told them he had discovered a rhine- 
stone mine, and, as only one or two of them had ever 
seen even a small diamond before, they believed him, 
without question. When the magnitude of his discovery 
became apparent to him, he found himself in a quandary. 
The mountain was a diamond it was literally nothing 
else but solid diamond. He filled four saddle bags full 
of glittering samples and started on horseback for St. 
Paul. There he managed to dispose of half a dozen 
small stones when he tried a larger one a storekeeper 
fainted and Fitz-Norman was arrested as a public dis- 
turber. He escaped from jail and caught the train for 
New York, where he sold a few medium-sized diamonds 
and received in exchange about two hundred thousand 
dollars in gold. But he did not dare to produce any 
exceptional gems in fact, he left New York just in 
time. Tremendous excitement had been created in 
jewelry circles, not so much by the size of his diamonds 
as by their appearance in the city from mysterious 
sources. Wild rumors became current that a diamond 
mine had been discovered in the Catskills, on the Jersey 
coast, on Long Island, beneath Washington Square. 
Excursion trains, packed with men carrying picks and 
shovels, began to leave New York hourly, bound for 
various neighboring El Dorados. But by that time 
young Fitz-Norman was on his way back to Montana. 

By the end of a fortnight he had estimated that the 



THE DIAMOND AS BIG AS THE RITZ 157 

diamond in the mountain was approximately equal in 
quantity to all the rest of the diamonds known to exist 
in the world. There was no valuing it by any regular 
computation, however, for it was one solid diamond 
and if it were offered for sale not only would the bottom 
fall out of the market, but also, if the value should vary 
with its size in the usual arithmetical progression, there 
would not be enough gold in the world to buy a tenth 
part of it. And what could any one do with a diamond 
that size ? 

It was an amazing predicament. He was, in one 
sense, the richest man that ever lived and yet was he 
worth anything at all? If his secret should transpire 
there was no telling to what measures the Government 
might resort in order to prevent a panic, in gold as well 
as in jewels. They might take over the claim immedi- 
ately and institute a monopoly. 

There was no alternative he must market his moun- 
tain in secret. He sent South for his younger brother 
and put him in charge of his colored following darkies 
who had never realized that slavery was abolished. To 
make sure of this, he read them a proclamation that he 
had composed, which announced that General Forrest 
had reorganized the shattered Southern armies and de- 
feated the North in one pitched battle. The negroes 
believed him implicitly. They passed a vote declaring 
it a good thing and held revival services immediately. 

Fitz-Norman himself set out for foreign parts with 
one hundred thousand dollars and two trunks filled with 
rough diamonds of all sizes. He sailed for Russia in a 
Chinese junk and six months after his departure from 
Montana he was in St. Petersburg. He took obscure 
lodgings and called immediately upon the court jeweller, 
announcing that he had a diamond for the Czar. He 
remained in St. Petersburg for two weeks, in constant 



i 5 8 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

danger of being murdered, living from lodging to lodg- 
ing, and afraid to visit his trunks more than three or 
four times during the whole fortnight. 

On his promise to return in a year with larger and finer 
stones, he was allowed to leave for India. Before he 
left, however, the Court Treasurers had deposited to 
his credit, in American banks, the sum of fifteen million 
dollars under four different aliases. 

He returned to America in 1868, having been gone a 
little over two years. He had visited the capitals of 
twenty- two countries and talked with five emperors, 
eleven kings, three princes, a shah, a khan, and a sul- 
tan. At that time Fitz-Norman estimated his own 
wealth at one billion dollars. One fact worked consis- 
tently against the disclosure of his secret. No one of 
his larger diamonds remained in the public eye for a 
week before being invested with a history of enough 
fatalities, amours, revolutions, and wars to have occu- 
pied it from the days of the first Babylonian Empire. 

From 1870 until his death in 1900, the history of Fitz- 
Norman Washington was a long epic in gold. There 
were side issues, of course he evaded the surveys, he 
married a Virginia lady, by whom he had a single son, 
and he was compelled, due to a series of unfortunate 
complications, to murder his brother, whose unfortunate 
habit of drinking himself into an indiscreet stupor had 
several times endangered their safety. But very few 
other murders stained these happy years of progress 
and expansion. 

Just before he died he changed his policy, and with all 
but a few million dollars of his outside wealth bought 
up rare minerals in bulk, which he deposited in the safety 
vaults of banks all over the world, marked as bric-a-brac. 
His son, Braddock Tarleton Washington, followed this 
policy on an even more tensive scale. The minerals 



THE DIAMOND AS BIG AS THE RITZ 159 

were converted into the rarest of all elements radium 
so that the equivalent of a billion dollars in gold could 
be placed in a receptacle no bigger than a cigar box. 

When Fitz-Norman had been dead three years his 
son, Braddock, decided that the business had gone far 
enough. The amount of wealth that he and his father 
had taken out of the mountain was beyond all exact 
computation. He kept a note-book in cipher in which 
he set down the approximate quantity of radium in 
each of the thousand banks he patronized, and recorded 
the alias under which it was held. Then he did a very 
simple thing he sealed up the mine. 

He sealed up the mine. What had been taken out of 
it would support all the Washingtons yet to be born in 
unparalleled luxury for generations. His one care must 
be the protection of his secret, lest in the possible panic 
attendant on its discovery he should be reduced with 
all the property-holders in the world to utter poverty. 

This was the family among whom John T. Unger was 
staying. This was the story he heard in his silver- 
walled living-room the morning after his arrival. 



After breakfast, John found his way out the great 
marble entrance, and looked curiously at the scene be- 
fore him. The whole valley, from the diamond moun- 
tain to the steep granite cliff five miles away, still gave 
off a breath of golden haze which hovered idly above 
the fine sweep of lawns and lakes and gardens. Here 
and there clusters of elms made delicate groves of shade, 
contrasting strangely with the tough masses of pine 
forest that held the hills in a grip of dark-blue green. 
Even as John looked he sa\\ three fawns in single file 
patter out from one clump about a half mile away and 



i6o TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

disappear with awkward gayety into the black-ribbed 
half-light of another. John would not have been sur- 
prised to see a goat-foot piping his way among the trees 
or to catch a glimpse of pink nymph-skin and flying 
yellow hair between the greenest of the green leaves. 

In some such cool hope he descended the marble 
steps, disturbing faintly the sleep of two silky Russian 
wolfhounds at the bottom, and set off along a walk of 
white and blue brick that seemed to lead in no par- 
ticular direction. 

He was enjoying himself as much as he was able. It 
is youth's felicity as well as its insufficiency that it can 
never live in the present, but must always be measuring 
up the day against its own radiantly imagined future- 
flowers and gold, girls and stars, they are only prefigura- 
tions and prophecies of that incomparable, unattaina- 
ble young dream. 

John rounded a soft corner where the massed rose- 
bushes filled the air with heavy scent, and struck off 
across a park toward a patch of moss under some trees. 
He had never lain upon moss, and he wanted to see 
whether it was really soft enough to justify the use of 
its name as an adjective. Then he saw a girl coming 
toward him over the grass. She was the most beau- 
tiful person he had ever seen. 

She was dressed in a white little gown that came just 
below her knees, and a wreath of mignonettes clasped 
with blue slices of sapphire bound up her hair. Her pink 
bare feet scattered the dew before them as she came. 
She was younger than John not more than sixteen. 

"Hello," she cried softly, "I'm Kismine." 

She was much more than that to John already. He 
advanced toward her, scarcely moving as he drew near 
lest he should tread on her bare toes. 

"You haven't met me," said her soft voice. Her blue 



THE DIAMOND AS BIG AS THE RITZ 161 

eyes added, "Oh, but you've missed a great deal !" . . . 
"You met my sister, Jasmine, last night. I was sick 
with lettuce poisoning/ ' went on her soft voice, and her 
eyes continued, "and when I'm sick I'm sweet and 
when I'm well." 

"You have made an enormous impression on me," 
said John's eyes, "and I'm not so slow myself" "How 
do you do ?" said his voice. "I hope you're better this 
morning." "You darling," added his eyes tremulously. 

John observed that they had been walking along 
the path. On her suggestion they sat down together 
upon the moss, the softness of which he failed to deter- 
mine. 

He was critical about women. A single defect a 
thick ankle, a hoarse voice, a glass eye was enough to 
make him utterly indifferent. And here for the first 
time in his life he was beside a girl who seemed to him 
the incarnation of physical perfection. 

"Are you from the East?" asked Kismine with 
charming interest. 

"No," answered John simply. "I'm from Hades." 

Either she had never heard of Hades, or she could 
think of no pleasant comment to make upon it, for she 
did not discuss it further. 

"I'm going East to school this fall," she said. "D'you 
think I'll like it? I'm going to New York to Miss 
Bulge's. It's very strict, but you see over the week- 
ends I'm going to live at home with the family in our 
New York house, because father heard that the girls 
had to go walking two by two." 

"Your father wants you to be proud," observed 
John. 

"We are," she answered, her eyes shining with dig- 
nity. "None of us has ever been punished. Father 
said we never should be. Once when my sister Jasmine 



1 62 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

was a little girl she pushed him down-stairs and he just 
got up and limped away. 

"Mother was well, a little startled," continued Kis- 
mine, " when she heard that you were from from where 
you are from, you know. She said that when she was 
a young girl but then, you see, she's a Spaniard and 
old-fashioned." 

"Do you spend much time out here?" asked John, 
to conceal the fact that he was somewhat hurt by this 
remark. It seemed an unkind allusion to his provin- 
cialism. 

"Percy and Jasmine and I are here every summer, 
but next summer Jasmine is going to Newport. She's 
coming out in London a year from this fall. She'll be 
presented at court." 

"Do you know," began John hesitantly, "you're 
much more sophisticated than I thought you were when 
I first saw you?" 

"Oh, no, I'm not," she exclaimed hurriedly. "Oh, 
I wouldn't think of being. I think that sophisticated 
young people are terribly common, don't you ? I'm not 
at all, really. If you say I am, I'm going to cry." 

She was so distressed that her lip was trembling. 
John was impelled to protest: 

"I didn't mean that; I only said it to tease you." 

"Because I wouldn't mind if I were" she persisted, 
"but I'm not. I'm very innocent and girlish. I never 
smoke, or drink, or read anything except poetry. I 
know scarcely any mathematics or chemistry. I dress 
very simply in fact, I scarcely dress at all. I think 
sophisticated is the last thing you can say about me. I 
believe that girls ought to enjoy their youths in a 
wholesome way." 

"I do, too," said John heartily. 

Kismine was cheerful again. She smiled at him, and 



THE DIAMOND AS BIG AS THE RITZ 163 

a still-born tear dripped from the corner of one blue 
eye. 

"I like you," she whispered, intimately. "Are you 
going to spend all your time with Percy while you're 
here, or will you be nice to me ? Just think I'm abso- 
lutely fresh ground. I've never had a boy in love with 
me in all my life. I've never been allowed even to see 
boys alone except Percy. I came all the way out here 
into this grove hoping to run into you, where the family 
wouldn't be around." 

Deeply flattered, John bowed from the hips as he had 
been taught at dancing school in Hades. 

"We'd better go now," said Kismine sweetly. "I 
have to be with mother at eleven. You haven't asked 
me to kiss you once. I thought boys always did that 
nowadays." 

John drew himself up proudly. 

"Some of them do," he answered, "but not me. 
Girls don't do that sort of thing in Hades." 

Side by side they walked back toward the house. 

VI 

John stood facing Mr. Braddock Washington in the 
full sunlight. The elder man was about forty with a 
proud, vacuous face, intelligent eyes, and a robust figure. 
In the mornings he smelt of horses the best horses. He 
carried a plain walking-stick of gray birch with a single 
large opal for a grip. He and Percy were showing John 
around. 

"The slaves' quarters are there." His walking-stick 
indicated a cloister of marble on their left that ran in 
graceful Gothic along the side of the mountain. "In 
my youth I was distracted for a while from the business 
of life by a period of absurd idealism. During that 



i6 4 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

time they lived in luxury. For instance, I equipped 
every one of their rooms with a tile bath." 

"I suppose/' ventured John, with an ingratiating 
laugh, "that they used the bathtubs to keep coal in. 
Mr. Schnlitzer-Murphy told me that once he 

"The opinions of Mr. Schnlitzer-Murphy are of little 
importance, I should imagine," interrupted Braddock 
Washington, coldly. "My slaves did not keep coal in 
their bathtubs. They had orders to bathe every day, 
and they did. If they hadn't I might have ordered a 
sulphuric acid shampoo. I discontinued the baths for 
quite another reason. Several of them caught cold and 
died. * Water is not good for certain races except as a 
beverage." 

John laughed, and then decided to nod his head in 
sober agreement. Braddock Washington made him 
uncomfortable. 

"All these negroes are descendants of the ones my 
father brought North with him. There are about two 
hundred and fifty now. You notice that they've lived 
so long apart from the world that their original dialect 
has become an almost indistinguishable patois. We 
bring a few of them up to speak English my secretary 
and two or three of the house servants. 

"This is the golf course," he continued, as they strolled 
along the velvet winter grass. "It's all a green, you see 
no fairway, no rough, no hazards." 

He smiled pleasantly at John. 

"Many men in the cage, father?" asked Percy sud- 
denly. 

Braddock Washington stumbled, and let forth an in- 
voluntary curse. 

"One less than there should be," he ejaculated darkly 
and then added after a moment, "We've had diffi- 
culties." 



THE DIAMOND AS BIG AS THE RITZ 165 

"Mother was telling me," exclaimed Percy, "that 
Italian teacher 

"A ghastly error," said Braddock Washington angrily. 
"But of course there's a good chance that we may have 
got him. Perhaps he fell somewhere in the woods or 
stumbled over a cliff. And then there's always the prob- 
ability that if he did get away his story wouldn't be 
believed. Nevertheless, I've had two dozen men look- 
ing for him in different towns around here." 

"And no luck?" 

"Some. Fourteen of them reported to my agent 
that they'd each killed a man answering to that descrip- 
tion, but of course it was probably only the reward 
they were after- 
He broke off. They had come to a large cavity in 
the earth about the circumference of a merry-go-round 
and covered by a strong iron grating. Braddock Wash- 
ington beckoned to John, and pointed his cane down 
through the grating. John stepped to the edge and 
gazed. Immediately his ears were assailed by a wild 
clamor from below. 

"Come on down to Hell !" 

"Hello, kiddo, how's the air up there?" 

" Hey ! Throw us a rope ! " 

" Got an old doughnut, Buddy, or a couple of second- 
hand sandwiches?" 

"Say, fella, if you'll push down that guy you're 
with, well show you a quick disappearance scene." 

"Paste him one for me, will you ?" 

It was too dark to see clearly into the pit below, but 
John could tell from the coarse optimism and rugged 
vitality of the remarks and voices that they proceeded 
from middle-class Americans of the more spirited type. 
Then Mr. Washington put out his cane and touched a 
button in the grass, and the scene below sprang into light. 



i66 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

"These are some adventurous mariners who had the 
misfortune to discover El Dorado," he remarked. 

Below them there had appeared a large hollow in the 
earth shaped like the interior of a bowl. The sides were 
steep and apparently of polished glass, and on its slightly 
concave surface stood about two dozen men clad in 
the half costume, half uniform, of aviators. Their up- 
turned faces, lit with wrath, with malice, with despair, 
with cynical humor, were covered by long growths of 
beard, but with the exception of a few who had pined 
perceptibly away, they seemed to be a well-fed, healthy 
lot. 

Braddock Washington drew a garden chair to the 
edge of the pit and sat down. 

"Well, how are you, boys ?" he inquired genially. 

A chorus of execration in which all joined except a 
few too dispirited to cry out, rose up into the sunny 
air, but Braddock Washington heard it with unruffled 
composure. When its last echo had died away he spoke 
again. 

"Have you thought up a way out of your difficulty ?" 

From here and there among them a remark floated up. 

"We decided to stay here for love!" 

"Bring us up there and we'll find us a way!" 

Braddock Washington waited until they were again 
quiet. Then he said: 

"I've told you the situation. I don't want you here. 
I wish to heaven I'd never seen you. Your own curi- 
osity got you here, and any time that you can think 
of a way out which protects me and my interests I'll 
be glad to consider it. But so long as you confine your 
efforts to digging tunnels yes, I know about the new 
one you've started you won't get very far. This 
isn't as hard on you as you make it out, with all your 
howling for the loved ones at home. If you were trie 



THE DIAMOND AS BIG AS THE RITZ 167 

type who worried much about the loved ones at home, 
you'd never have taken up aviation." 

A tall man moved apart from the others, and held up 
his hand to call his captor's attention to what he was 
about to say. 

"Let me ask you a few questions!" he cried. "You 
pretend to be a fair-minded man." 

"How absurd. How could a man of my position be 
fair-minded toward you ? You might as well speak of a 
Spaniard being fair-minded toward a piece of steak." 

At this harsh observation the faces of the two dozen 
steaks fell, but the tall man continued : 

"All right!" he cried. "We've argued this out be- 
fore. You're not a humanitarian and you're not fair- 
minded, but you're human at least you say you are 
and you ought to be able to put yourself in our place 
for long enough to think how how how 

"How what?" demanded Washington, coldly. 

" how unnecessary ' : 

"Not to me." 

"Well , how cruel " 

"We've covered that. Cruelty doesn't exist where 
self-preservation is involved. You've been soldiers; you 
know that. Try another." 

"Well, then, how stupid." 

"There," admitted Washington, "I grant you that. 
But try to think of an alternative. I've offered to have 
all or any of you painlessly executed if you wish. I've 
offered to have your wives, sweethearts, children, and 
mothers kidnapped and brought out here. I'll enlarge 
your place down there and feed and clothe you the rest 
of your lives. If there was some method of producing 
permanent amnesia I'd have all of you operated on and 
released immediately, somewhere outside of my pre- 
serves. But that's as far as my ideas go." 



i68 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

"How about trusting us not to peach on you ?" cried 
some one. 

"You don't proffer that suggestion seriously," said 
Washington, with an expression of scorn. "I did take 
out one man to teach my daughter Italian. Last week 
he got away." 

A wild yell of jubilation went up suddenly from two 
dozen throats and a pandemonium of joy ensued. The 
prisoners clog-danced and cheered and yodled and 
wrestled with one another in a sudden uprush of animal 
spirits. They even ran up the glass sides of the bowl as 
far as they could, and slid back to the bottom upon the 
natural cushions of their bodies. The tall man started 
a song in which they all joined 

"Oh, we'll hang the kaiser 
On a sour apple tree " 

Braddock Washington sat in inscrutable silence until 
the song was over. 

"You see," he remarked, when he could gain a modi- 
cum of attention. "I bear you no ill-will. I like to 
see you enjoying yourselves. That's why I didn't 
tell you the whole story at once. The man what was 
his name? Critchtichiello ? was shot by some of my 
agents in fourteen different places." 

Not guessing that the places referred to were cities, 
the tumult of rejoicing subsided immediately. 

"Nevertheless," cried Washington with a touch of 
anger, "he tried to run away. Do you expect me to 
take chances with any of you after an experience like 
that?" 

Again a series of ejaculations went up. 

"Sure!" 

"Would your daughter like to learn Chinese ?" 



THE DIAMOND AS BIG AS THE RITZ 169 

"Hey, I can speak Italian ! My mother was a wop." 

"Maybe she'd like t'learna speak N'Yawk!" 

"If she's the little one with the big blue eyes I can 
teach her a lot of things better than Italian." 

"I know some Irish songs and I could hammer 
brass once't." 

Mr. Washington reached forward suddenly with his 
cane and pushed the button in the grass so that the pic- 
ture below went out instantly, and there remained only 
that great dark mouth covered dismally with the black 
teeth of the grating. 

"Hey!" called a single voice from below, "you ain't 
goin' away without givin' us your blessing ?" 

But Mr. Washington, followed by the two boys, was 
already strolling on toward the ninth hole of the golf 
course, as though the pit and its contents were no more 
than a hazard over which his facile iron had triumphed 
with ease. 

VII 

July under the lee of the diamond mountain was a 
month of blanket nights and of warm, glowing days. 
John and Kismine were in love. He did not know that 
the little gold football (inscribed with the legend Pro 
deo et patria et St. Mida) which he had given her 
rested on a platinum chain next to her bosom. But it 
did. And she for her part was not aware that a large 
sapphire which had dropped one day from her simple 
coiffure was stowed away tenderly in John's jewel box. 

Late one afternoon when the ruby and ermine music 
room was quiet, they spent an hour there together. He 
held her hand and she gave him such a look that he whis- 
pered her name aloud. She bent toward him then 
hesitated. 

"Did you say 'Kismine' ?" she asked softly, "or " 



TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

She had wanted to be sure. She thought she might 
have misunderstood. 

Neither of them had ever kissed before, but in the 
course of an hour it seemed to make little difference. 

The afternoon drifted away. That night when a last 
breath of music drifted down from the highest tower, 
they each lay awake, happily dreaming over the sepa- 
rate minutes of the day. They had decided to be mar- 
ried as soon as possible. 

VIII 

Every day Mr. Washington and the two young men 
went hunting or fishing in the deep forests or played 
golf around the somnolent course games which John 
diplomatically allowed his host to win or swam in the 
mountain coolness of the lake. John found Mr. Wash- 
ington a somewhat exacting personality utterly un- 
interested in any ideas or opinions except his own. Mrs. 
Washington was aloof and reserved at all times. She 
was apparently indifferent to her two daughters, and 
entirely absorbed in her son Percy, with whom she held 
interminable conversations in rapid Spanish at dinner. 

Jasmine, the elder daughter, resembled Kismine in 
appearance except that she was somewhat bow-legged, 
and terminated in large hands and feet but was utterly 
unlike her in temperament. Her favorite books had to 
do with poor girls who kept house for widowed fathers. 
John learned from Kismine that Jasmine had never 
recovered from the shock and disappointment caused 
her by the termination of the World War, just as she 
was about to start for Europe as a canteen expert. She 
had even pined away for a time, and Braddock Wash- 
ington had taken steps to promote a new war in the 
Balkans but she had seen a photograph of some 



THE DIAMOND AS BIG AS THE RITZ 171 

wounded Serbian soldiers and lost interest in the whole 
proceedings. But Percy and Kismine seemed to have 
inherited the arrogant attitude in all its harsh mag- 
nificence from their father. A chaste and consistent 
selfishness ran like a pattern through their every idea. 

John was enchanted by the wonders of the chateau 
and the valley. Braddock Washington, so Percy told 
him, had caused to be kidnapped a landscape gardener, 
an architect, a designer of state settings, and a French 
decadent poet left over from the last century. He had 
put his entire force of negroes at their disposal, guar- 
anteed to supply them with any materials that the world 
could offer, and left them to work out some ideas of 
their own. But one by one they had shown their use- 
lessness. The decadent poet had at once begun be- 
wailing his separation from the boulevards in spring 
he made some vague remarks about spices, apes, and 
ivories, but said nothing that was of any practical value. 
The stage designer on his part wanted to make the whole 
valley a series of tricks and sensational effects a state 
of things that the Washingtons would soon have grown 
tired of. And as for the architect and the landscape 
gardener, they thought only in terms of convention. 
They must make this like this and that like that. 

But they had, at least, solved the problem of what 
was to be done with them they all went mad early 
one morning after spending the night in a single room 
trying to agree upon the location of a fountain, and were 
now confined comfortably in an insane asylum at West- 
port, Connecticut. 

"But," inquired John curiously, a who did plan all 
your wonderful reception rooms and halls, and ap- 
proaches and bathrooms ?" 

"Well," answered Percy, "I blush to tell you, but it 
was a moving-picture fella. He was the only man we 



172 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

found who was used to playing with an unlimited 
amount of money, though he did tuck his napkin in his 
collar and couldn't read or write." 

As August drew to a close John began to regret that he 
must soon go back to school. He and Kismine had de- 
cided to elope the following June. 

"It would be nicer to be married here," Kismine con- 
fessed, "but of course I could never get father's permis- 
sion to marry you at all. Next to that I'd rather elope. 
It's terrible for wealthy people to be married in America 
at present they always have to send out bulletins to 
the press saying that they're going to be married in 
remnants, when what they mean is just a peck of old 
second-hand pearls and some used lace worn once by 
the Empress Eugenie." 

"I know," agreed John fervently. "When I was 
visiting the Schnlitzer-Murphys, the eldest daughter, 
Gwendolyn, married a man whose father owns half of 
West Virginia. She wrote home saying what a tough 
struggle she was carrying on on his salary as a bank 
clerk and then she ended up by saying that 'Thank 
God, I have four good maids anyhow, and that helps 
a little.'" 

"It's absurd," commented Kismine. "Think of the 
millions and millions of people in the world, laborers 
and all, who get along with only two maids." 

One afternoon late in August a chance remark of 
Kismine's changed the face of the entire situation, and 
threw John into a state of terror. 

They were in their favorite grove, and between kisses 
John was indulging in some romantic forebodings which 
he fancied added poignancy to their relations. 

"Sometimes I think we'll never marry," he said sadly. 
"You're too wealthy, too magnificent. No one as rich 
as you'are can be like other girls. I should marry the 



THE DIAMOND AS BIG AS THE RITZ 173 

daughter of some well-to-do wholesale hardware man 
from Omaha or Sioux City, and be content with her half- 
million.^ 

"I knew the daughter of a wholesale hardware man 
once," remarked Kismine. "I don't think you'd have 
been contented with her. She was a friend of my sis- 
ter's. She visited here." 

"Oh, then you've had other guests ?" exclaimed John 
in surprise. 

Kismine seemed to regret her words. 

"Oh, yes," she said hurriedly, "we've had a few." 

"But aren't you wasn't your father afraid they'd 
talk outside?" 

"Oh, to some extent, to some extent," she answered. 
"Let's talk about something pleasanter." 

But John's curiosity was aroused. 

"Something pleasanter!" he demanded. "What's 
unpleasant about that ? Weren't they nice girls ?" 

To his great surprise Kismine began to weep. 

"Yes th that's the the whole t-trouble. I grew 
qu-quite attached to some of them. So did Jasmine, 
but she kept inv-viting them anyway. I couldn't 
understand it." 

A dark suspicion was born in John's heart. 

"Do you mean that they told, and your father had 
them removed ?" 

"Worse than that," she muttered brokenly. "Father 
took no chances and Jasmine kept writing them to 
come, and they had such a good time!" 

She was overcome by a paroxysm of grief. 

Stunned with the horror of this revelation, John sat 
there open-mouthed, feeling the nerves of his body twitter 
like so many sparrows perched upon his spinal column. 

"Now, I've told you, and I shouldn't have," she said, 
calming suddenly and drying her dark blue eyes. 



174 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

"Do you mean to say that your father had them 
murdered before they left ? " 

She nodded. 

"In August usually or early in September. It's 
only natural for us to get all the pleasure out of them 
that we can first." 

"How abominable! How why, I must be going 
crazy ! Did you really admit that 

"I did," interrupted Kismine, shrugging her should- 
ers. "We can't very well imprison them like those 
aviators, where they'd be a continual reproach to us 
every day. And it's always been made easier for Jas- 
mine and me, because father had it done sooner than 
we expected. In that way we avoided any farewell 
scene " 

"So you murdered them! Uh!" cried John. 

"It was done very nicely. They were drugged while 
they were asleep and their families were always told 
that they died of scarlet fever in Butte." 

"But I fail to understand why you kept on inviting 
them!" 

"I didn't," burst out Kismine. "I never invited one. 
Jasmine did. And they always had a very good time. 
She'd give them the nicest presents toward the last. 
I shall probably have visitors too I'll harden up to it. 
We can't let such an inevitable thing as death stand in 
the way of enjoying life while we have it. Think how 
lonesome it'd be out here if we never had any one. Why, 
father and mother have sacrificed some of their best 
friends just as we have." 

"And so," cried John accusingly, "and so you were 
letting me make love to you and pretending to return 
it, and talking about marriage, all the time knowing 
perfectly well that I'd never get out of here alive 

"No," she protested passionately. "Not any more. 



THE DIAMOND AS BIG AS THE RITZ 175 

I did at first. You were here. I couldn't help that, and 
I thought your last days might as well be pleasant for 
both of us. But then I fell in love with you, and and 
I'm honestly sorry you're going to going to be put 
away though I'd rather you'd be put away than ever 
kiss another girl." 

"Oh, you would, would you ?" cried John ferociously. 

"Much rather. Besides, I've always heard that a 
girl can have more fun with a man whom she knows 
she can never marry. Oh, why did I tell you ? I've 
probably spoiled your whole good time now, and we 
were really enjoying things when you didn't know it. I 
knew it would make things sort of depressing for you." 

"Oh, you did, did you ?" John's voice trembled with 
anger. "I've heard about enough of this. If you 
haven't any more pride and decency than to have an 
affair with a fellow that you know isn't much better 
than a corpse, I don't want to have any more to do with 
you!" 

"You're not a corpse!" she protested in horror. 
"You're not a corpse! I won't have you saying that 
I kissed a corpse ! " 

"I said nothing of the sort!" 

"You did ! You said I kissed a corpse !" 

"I didn't!" 

Their voices had risen, but upon a sudden interrup- 
tion they both subsided into immediate silence. Foot- 
steps were coming along the path in their direction, 
and a moment later the rose bushes were parted display- 
ing Braddock Washington, whose intelligent eyos set 
in his good-looking vacuous face were peering in at them. 

"Who kissed a corpse?" he demanded in obvious 
disapproval. 

"Nobody," answered Kismine quickly. "We were 
just joking." 



176 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

"What are you two doing here, anyhow ?" he de- 
manded gruffly. "Kismine, you ought to be to be 
reading or playing golf with your sister. Go read ! Go 
play golf! Don't let me find you here when I come 
back!" 

Then he bowed at John and went up the path. 

"See?" said Kismine crossly, when he was out of 
hearing. "You've spoiled it all. We can never meet 
any more. He won't let me meet you. He'd have you 
poisoned if he thought we were in love." 

"We're not, any more!" cried John fiercely, "so he 
can set his mind at rest upon that. Moreover, don't 
fool yourself that I'm going to stay around here. Inside 
of six hours I'll be over those mountains, if I have to 
gnaw a passage through them, and on my way East." 

They had both got to their feet, and at this remark 
Kismine came close and put her arm through his. 

"I'm going, too." 

"You must be crazy : 

"Of course I'm going," she interrupted impatiently. 

"You most certainly are not. You 

"Very well," she said quietly, "we'll catch up with 
father now and talk it over with him." 

Defeated, John mustered a sickly smile. 

"Very well, dearest," he agreed, with pale and uncon- 
vincing affection, "we'll go together." 

His love for her returned and settled placidly on his 
heart. She was his she would go with him to share 
his dangers. He put his arms about her and kissed her 
fervently. After all she loved him; she had saved him, 
in fact. 

Discussing the matter, they walked slowly back toward 
the chateau. They decided that since Braddock Wash- 
ington had seen them together they had best depart 
the next night. Nevertheless, John's lips were unusu- 



THE DIAMOND AS BIG AS THE RITZ 177 

ally dry at dinner, and he nervously emptied a great 
spoonful of peacock soup into his left lung. He had to 
be carried into the turquoise and sable card-room and 
pounded on the back by one of the under-butlers, which 
Percy considered a great joke. 

IX 

Long after midnight John's body gave a nervous jerk, 
and he sat suddenly upright, staring into the veils of 
somnolence that draped the room. Through the squares 
of blue darkness that were his open windows, he had 
heard a faint far-away sound that died upon a bed of 
wind before identifying itself on his memory, clouded 
with uneasy dreams. But the sharp noise that had suc- 
ceeded it was nearer, was just outside the room the 
click of a turned knob, a footstep, a whisper, he could 
not tell; a hard lump gathered in the pit of his stomach, 
and his whole body ached in the moment that he strained 
agonizingly to hear. Then one of the veils seemed to 
dissolve, and he saw a vague figure standing by the door, 
a figure only faintly limned and blocked in upon the 
darkness, mingled so with the folds of the drapery as 
to seem distorted, like a reflection seen in a dirty pane 
of glass. 

With a sudden movement of fright or resolution John 
pressed the button by his bedside, and the next moment 
he was sitting in the green sunken bath of the adjoining 
room, waked into alertness by the shock of the cold 
water which half filled it. 

He sprang out, and, his wet pajamas scattering a 
heavy trickle of water behind him, ran for the aqua- 
marine door which he knew led out onto the ivory 
landing of the second floor. The door opened noise- 
lessly. A single crimson lamp burning in a great dome 



178 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

above lit the magnificent sweep of the carved stair- 
ways with a poignant beauty. For a moment John 
hesitated, appalled by the silent splendor massed about 
him, seeming to envelop in its gigantic folds and contours 
the solitary drenched little figure shivering upon the 
ivory landing. Then simultaneously two things hap- 
pened. The door of his own sitting-room swung open, 
precipitating three naked negroes into the hall and, 
as John swayed in wild terror toward the stairway, an- 
other door slid back in the wall on the other side of the 
corridor, and John saw Braddock Washington standing 
in the lighted lift, wearing a fur coat and a pair of riding 
boots which reached to his knees and displayed, above, 
the glow of his rose-colored pajamas. 

On the instant the three negroes John had never 
seen any of them before, and it flashed through his mind 
that they must be the professional executioners paused 
in their movement toward John, and turned expectantly 
to the man in the lift, who burst out with an imperious 
command : 

" Get in here ! All three of you ! Quick as hell ! " 

Then, within the instant, the three negroes darted 
into the cage, the oblong of light was blotted out as the 
lift door slid shut, and John was again alone in the hall. 
He slumped weakly down against an ivory stair. 

It was apparent that something portentous had oc- 
curred, something which, for the moment at least, had 
postponed his own petty disaster. What was it ? Had 
the negroes risen in revolt ? Had the aviators forced 
aside the iron bars of the grating ? Or had the men of 
Fish stumbled blindly through the hills and gazed with 
bleak, joyless eyes upon the gaudy valley ? John did 
not know. He heard a faint whir of air as the lift 
whizzed up again, and then, a moment later, as it de- 
scended. It was probable that Percy was hurrying to 



THE DIAMOND AS BIG AS THE RITZ 179 

his father's assistance, and it occurred to John that this 
was his opportunity to join Kismine and plan an im- 
mediate escape. He waited until the lift had been si- 
lent for several minutes; shivering a little with the night 
cool that whipped in through his wet pajamas, he re- 
turned to his room and dressed himself quickly. Then 
he mounted a long flight of stairs and turned down the 
corridor carpeted with Russian sable which led to Kis- 
mine's suite. 

The door of her sitting-room was open and the lamps 
were lighted. Kismine, in an angora kimono, stood 
near the window of the room in a listening attitude, and 
as John entered noiselessly she turned toward him. 

"Oh, it's you!" she whispered, crossing the room to 
him, "Did you hear them ?" 

"I heard your father's slaves in my " 

' ' No, ' ' she interrup ted excitedly. ' ' Aeroplanes ! " 
"Aeroplanes ? Perhaps that was the sound that woke 
me." 

"There're at least a dozen. I saw one a few moments 
ago dead against the moon. The guard back by the 
cliff fired his rifle and that's what roused father. We're 
going to open on them right away." 
"Are they here on purpose ?" 

"Yes it's that Italian who got away " 

Simultaneously with her last word, a succession of 
sharp cracks tumbled in through the open window. 
Kismine uttered a little cry, took a penny with fumbling 
fingers from a box on her dresser, and ran to one of the 
electric lights. In an instant the entire chateau was in 
darkness she had blown out the fuse. 

" Come on ! " she cried to him. " We'll go up to the roof 
garden, and watch it from there!" 

Drawing a cape about her, she took his hand, and they 
found their way out the door. It was only a step to 



i8o TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

the tower lift, and as she pressed the button that shot 
them upward he put his arms around her in the darkness 
and kissed her mouth. Romance had come to John 
Unger at last. A minute later they had stepped out 
upon the star-white platform. Above, under the misty 
moon, sliding in and out of the patches of cloud that 
eddied below it, floated a dozen dark- winged bodies in 
a constant circling course. From here and there in the 
valley flashes of fire leaped toward them, followed by 
sharp detonations. Kismine clapped her hands with 
pleasure, which, a moment later, turned to dismay as 
the aeroplanes at some prearranged signal, began to 
release their bombs and the whole of the valley became 
a panorama of deep reverberate sound and lurid light. 

Before long the aim of the attackers became concen- 
trated upon the points where the anti-aircraft guns 
were situated, and one of them was almost immediately 
reduced to a giant cinder to lie smouldering in a park 
of rose bushes. 

"Kismine," begged John, "you'll be glad when I tell 
you that this attack came on the eve of my murder. 
If I hadn't heard that guard shoot off his gun back by 
the pass I should now be stone dead 

" I can't hear you !" cried Kismine, intent on the scene 
before her. "You'll have to talk louder !" 

"I simply said," shouted John, "that we'd better get 
out before they begin to shell the chateau ! " 

Suddenly the whole portico of the negro quarters 
cracked asunder, a geyser of flame shot up from under 
the colonnades, and great fragments of jagged marble 
were hurled as far as the borders of the lake. 

"There go fifty thousand dollars' worth of slaves," 
cried Kismine, "at prewar prices. So few Americans 
have any respect for property." 

John renewed his efforts to compel her to leave. The 



THE DIAMOND AS BIG AS THE RITZ 181 

aim of the aeroplanes was becoming more precise minute 
by minute, and only two of the anti-aircraft guns were 
still retaliating. It was obvious that the garrison, en- 
circled with fire, could not hold out much longer. 

"Come on!" cried John, pulling Kismine's arm, 
"we've got to go. Do you realize that those aviators 
will kill you without question if they find you ?" 

She consented reluctantly. 

"Well have to wake Jasmine !" she said, as they hur- 
ried toward the lift. Then she added in a sort of child- 
ish delight: "We'll be poor, won't we? Like people in 
books. And I'll be an orphan and utterly free. Free 
and poor! What fun!" She stopped and raised her 
lips to him in a delighted kiss. 

"It's impossible to be both together," said John 
grimly. "People have found that out. And I should 
choose to be free as preferable of the two. As an extra 
caution you'd better dump the contents of your jewel 
box into your pockets." 

Ten minutes later the two girls met John in the dark 
corridor and they descended to the main floor of the 
chateau. Passing for the last time through the mag- 
nificence of the splendid halls, they stood for a moment 
out on the terrace, watching the burning negro quarters 
and the flaming embers of two planes which had fallen 
on the other side of the lake. A solitary gun was still 
keeping up a sturdy popping, and the attackers seemed 
timorous about descending lower, but sent their thun- 
derous fireworks in a circle around it, until any chance 
shot might annihilate its Ethiopian crew. 

John and the two sisters passed down the marble 
steps, turned sharply to the left, and began to ascend 
a narrow path that wound like a garter about the dia- 
mond mountain. Kismine knew a heavily wooded spot 
half-way up where they could lie concealed and yet be 



182 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

able to observe the wild night in the valley finally to 
make an escape, when it should be necessary, along a 
secret path laid in a rocky gully. 



It was three o'clock when they attained their destina- 
tion. The obliging and phlegmatic Jasmine fell off to 
sleep immediately, leaning against the trunk of a large 
tree, while John and Kismine sat, his arm around her, 
and watched the desperate ebb and flow of the dying 
battle among the ruins of a vista that had been a garden 
spot that morning. Shortly after four o'clock the last 
remaining gun gave out a clanging sound and went out 
of action in a swift tongue of red smoke. Though the 
moon was down, they saw that the flying bodies were 
circling closer to the earth. When the planes had made 
certain that the beleaguered possessed no further re- 
sources, they would land and the dark and glittering 
reign of the Washingtons would be over. 

With the cessation of the firing the valley grew quiet. 
The embers of the two aeroplanes glowed like the eyes 
of some monster crouching in the grass. The chateau 
stood dark and silent, beautiful without light as it had 
been beautiful in the sun, while the woody rattles of 
Nemesis filled the air above with a growing and reced- 
ing complaint. Then John perceived that Kismine, 
like her sister, had fallen sound asleep. 

It was long after four when he became aware of foot- 
steps along the path they had lately followed, and he 
waited in breathless silence until the persons to whom 
they belonged had passed the vantage-point he occupied. 
There was a faint stir in the air now that was not of 
human origin, and the dew was cold; he knew that the 
dawn would break soon. John waited until the steps 



THE DIAMOND AS BIG AS THE RITZ 183 

had gone a safe distance up the mountain and were in- 
audible. Then he followed. About half-way to the 
steep summit the trees fell away and a hard saddle of 
rock spread itself over the diamond beneath. Just be- 
fore he reached this point he slowed down his pace, 
warned by an animal sense that there was life just ahead 
of him. Coming to a high boulder, he lifted his head 
gradually above its edge. His curiosity was rewarded; 
this is what he saw: 

Braddock Washington was standing there motionless, 
silhouetted against the gray sky without sound or sign 
of life. As the dawn came up out of the east, lending a 
cold green color to the earth, it brought the solitary 
figure into insignificant contrast with the new day. 

While John watched, his host remained for a few mo- 
ments absorbed in some inscrutable contemplation; 
then he signalled to the two negroes who crouched at his 
feet to lift the burden which lay between them. As 
they struggled upright, the first yellow beam of the sun 
struck through the innumerable prisms of an immense 
and exquisitely chiselled diamond and a white radiance 
was kindled that glowed upon the air like a fragment of 
the morning star. The bearers staggered beneath its 
weight for a moment then their rippling muscles caught 
and hardened under the wet shine of the skins and the 
three figures were again motionless in their defiant 
impotency before the heavens. 

After a while the white man lifted his head and slowly 
raised his arms in a gesture of attention, as one who would 
call a great crowd to hear but there was no crowd, only 
the vast silence of the mountain and the sky, broken by 
faint bird voices down among the trees. The figure on 
the saddle of rock began to speak ponderously and with 
an inextinguishable pride. 

"You out there ' he cried in a trembling voice. 



184 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

"You there !" He paused, his arms still uplifted, 
his head held attentively as though he were expecting 
an answer. John strained his eyes to see whether 
there might be men coming down the mountain, but the 
mountain was bare of human life. There was only sky 
and a mocking flute of wind along the tree-tops. Could 
Washington be praying ? For a moment John wondered. 
Then the illusion passed there was something in the 
man's whole attitude antithetical to prayer. 
"Oh, you above there!" 

The voice was become strong and confident. This 
was no forlorn supplication. If anything, there was in 
it a quality of monstrous condescension. 
"You there- 
Words, too quickly uttered to be understood, flowing 
one into the other. . . . John listened breathlessly, 
catching a phrase here and there, while the voice broke 
off, resumed, broke off again now strong and argu- 
mentative, now colored with a slow, puzzled impatience. 
Then a conviction commenced to dawn on the single 
listener, and as realization crept over him a spray of 
quick blood rushed through his arteries. Braddock 
Washington was offering a bribe to God ! 

That was it there was no doubt. The diamond in 
the arms of his slaves was some advance sample, a prom- 
ise of more to follow. 

That, John perceived after a time, was the thread 
running through his sentences. Prometheus Enriched 
was calling to witness forgotten sacrifices, forgotten 
rituals, prayers obsolete before the birth of Christ. 
For a while his discourse took the form of reminding God 
of this gift or that which Divinity had deigned to accept 
from men great churches if he would rescue cities from 
the plague, gifts of myrrh and gold, of human lives and 
beautiful women and captive armies, of children and 



THE DIAMOND AS BIG AS THE RITZ 185 

queens, of beasts of the forest and field, sheep and goats, 
harvests and cities, whole conquered lands that had been 
offered up in lust or blood for His appeasal, buying a 
meed's worth of alleviation from the Divine wrath 
and now he, Braddock Washington, Emperor of Dia- 
monds, king and priest of the age of gold, arbiter of 
splendor and luxury, would offer up a treasure such as 
princes before him had never dreamed of, offer it up 
not in suppliance, but in pride. 

He would give to God, he continued, getting down to 
specifications, the greatest diamond in the world. This 
diamond would be cut with many more thousand facets 
than there were leaves on a tree, and yet the whole dia- 
mond would be shaped with the perfection of a stone no 
bigger than a fly. Many men would work upon it for 
many years. It would be set in a great dome of beaten 
gold, wonderfully carved and equipped with gates of 
opal and crusted sapphire. In the middle would be hol- 
lowed out a chapel presided over by an altar of irides- 
cent, decomposing, ever-changing radium which would 
burn out the eyes of any worshipper who lifted up his 
head from prayer and on this altar there would be 
slain for the amusement of the Divine Benefactor any 
victim He should choose, even though it should be the 
greatest and most powerful man alive. 

In return he asked only a simple thing, a thing that for 
God would be absurdly easy only that matters should 
be as they were yesterday at this hour and that they 
should so remain. So very simple ! Let but the heav- 
ens open, swallowing these men and their aeroplanes 
and then close again. Let him have his slaves once 
more, restored to life and well. 

There was no one else with whom he had ever needed 
to treat or bargain. 

He doubted only whether he had made his bribe big 



186 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

enough. God had His price, of course. God was made 
in man's image, so it had been said: He must have His 
price. And the price would be rare no cathedral whose 
building consumed many years, no pyramid constructed 
by ten thousand workmen, would be like this cathedral, 
this pyramid. 

He paused here. That was his proposition. Every- 
thing would be up to specifications and there was noth- 
ing vulgar in his assertion that it would be cheap at the 
price. He implied that Providence could take it or 
leave it. 

As he approached the end his sentences became 
broken, became short and uncertain, and his body 
seemed tense, seemed strained to catch the slightest 
pressure or whisper of life in the spaces around him. 
His hair had turned gradually white as he talked, and 
now he lifted his head high to the heavens like a prophet 
of old magnificently mad. 

Then, as John stared in giddy fascination, it seemed 
to him that a curious phenomenon took place somewhere 
around him. It was as though the sky had darkened 
for an instant, as though there had been a sudden mur- 
mur in a gust of wind, a sound of far-away trumpets, 
a sighing like the rustle of a great silken robe for a 
time the whole of nature round about partook of this 
darkness; the birds' song ceased; the trees were still, 
and far over the mountain there was a mutter of dull, 
menacing thunder. 

That was all. The wind died along the tall grasses of 
the valley. The dawn and the day resumed their place 
in a time, and the risen sun sent hot waves of yellow 
mist that made its path bright before it. The leaves 
laughed in the sun, and their laughter shook the trees 
until each bough was like a girl's school in fairyland. 
God had refused to accept the bribe. 



THE DIAMOND AS BIG AS THE RITZ 187 

For another moment John watched the triumph of 
the day. Then, turning, he saw a flutter of brown down 
by the lake, then another flutter, then another, like 
the dance of golden angels alighting from the clouds. 
The aeroplanes had come to earth. 

John slid off the boulder and ran down the side of 
the mountain to the clump of trees, where the two girls 
were awake and waiting for him. Kismine sprang to 
her feet, the jewels in her pockets jingling, a question on 
her parted lips, but instinct told John that there was no 
time for words. They must get off the mountain with- 
out losing a moment. He seized a hand of each, and 
in silence they threaded the tree-trunks, washed with 
light now and with the rising mist. Behind them from 
the valley came no sound at all, except the complaint 
of the peacocks far away and the pleasant undertone of 
morning. 

When they had gone about half a mile, they avoided 
the park land and entered a narrow path that led over 
the next rise of ground. At the highest point of this 
they paused and turned around. Their eyes rested 
upon the mountainside they had just left oppressed 
by some dark sense of tragic impend ency. 

Clear against the sky a broken, white-haired man was 
slowly descending the steep slope, followed by two gi- 
gantic and emotionless negroes, who carried a burden 
between them which still flashed and glittered in the 
sun. Half-way down two other figures joined them 
John could see that they were Mrs. Washington and 
her son, upon whose arm she leaned. The aviators had 
clambered from their machines to the sweeping lawn in 
front of the chateau, and with rifles in hand were start- 
ing up the diamond mountain in skirmishing formation. 

But the little group of five which had formed farther 
np and was engrossing all the watchers' attention had 



i88 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

stopped upon a ledge of rock. The negroes stooped 
and pulled up what appeared to be a trap-door in the 
side of the mountain. Into this they all disappeared, 
the white-haired man first, then his wife and son, finally 
the two negroes, the glittering tips of whose jeweled 
head-dresses caught the sun for a moment before the 
trap-door descended and engulfed them all. 

Kismine clutched John's arm. 

"Oh," she cried wildly, "where are they going? 
What are they going to do ? " 

"It must be some underground way of escape 

A little scream from the two girls interrupted his 
sentence. 

"Don't you see?" sobbed Kismine hysterically. 
"The mountain is wired !" 

Even as she spoke John put up his hands to shield 
his sight. Before their eyes the whole surface of the 
mountain had changed suddenly to a dazzling burning 
yellow, which showed up through the jacket of turf as 
light shows through a human hand. For a moment 
the intolerable glow continued, and then like an extin- 
guished filament it disappeared, revealing a black waste 
from which blue smoke arose slowly, carrying off with 
it what remained of vegetation and of human flesh. Of 
the aviators there was left neither blood nor bone they 
were consumed as completely as the five souls who had 
gone inside. 

Simultaneously, and with an immense concussion, 
the chateau literally threw itself into the air, bursting 
into flaming fragments as it rose, and then tumbling 
back upon itself in a smoking pile that lay projecting 
half into the water of the lake. There was no fire 
what smoke there was drifted off mingling with the 
sunshine, and for a few minutes longer a powdery dust 
of marble drifted from the great featureless pile that 



THE DIAMOND AS BIG AS THE RITZ 189 

had once been the house of jewels. There was no more 
sound and the three people were alone in the valley. 



XI 

At sunset John and his two companions reached the 
high cliff which had marked the boundaries of the Wash- 
ingtons' dominion, and looking back found the valley tran- 
quil and lovely in the dusk. They sat down to finish the 
food which Jasmine had brought with her in a basket. 

" There!" she said, as she spread the table-cloth and 
put the sandwiches in a neat pile upon it. "Don't they 
look tempting ? I always think that food tastes better 
outdoors." 

"With that remark/ 7 remarked Kismine, "Jasmine 
enters the middle class." 

"Now," said John eagerly, "turn out your pocket and 
let's see what jewels you brought along. If you made 
a good selection we three ought to live comfortably all 
the rest of our lives." 

Obediently Kismine put her hand in her pocket and 
tossed two handfuls of glittering stones before him. 

"Not so bad," cried John, enthusiastically. "They 
aren't very big, but Hello!" His expression changed 
as he held one of them up to the declining sun. "Why, 
these aren't diamonds ! There's something the matter !" 

"By golly!" exclaimed Kismine, with a startled look. 
"What an idiot I am!" 

"Why, these are rhinestones ! " cried John. 

"I know." She broke into a laugh. "I opened the 
wrong drawer. They belonged on the dress of a girl 
who visited Jasmine. I got her to give them to me in 
exchange for diamonds. I'd never seen anything but 
precious stones before." 

"And this is what you brought?" 



TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

"I'm afraid so." She fingered the brilliants wist- 
fully. "I think I like these better. I'm a little tired 
of diamonds." 

"Very well," said John gloomily. "We'll have to 
live in Hades. And you will grow old telling incredu- 
lous women that you got the wrong drawer. Un- 
fortunately your father's bank-books were consumed 
with him." 

"Well, what's the matter with Hades ?" 

"If I come home with a wife at my age my father is 
just as liable as not to cut me off with a hot coal, as they 
say down there." 

Jasmine spoke up. 

"I love washing," she said quietly. "I have always 
washed my own handkerchiefs. I'll take in laundry 
and support you both." 

"Do they have washwomen in Hades?" asked Kis- 
mine innocently. 

1 1 Of course, ' ' answered John. " It's just like anywhere 
else." 

"I thought perhaps it was too hot to wear any 
clothes." 

John laughed. 

"Just try it!" he suggested. "They'll run you out 
before you're half started." 

"Will father be there ?" she asked. 

John turned to her in astonishment. 

"Your father is dead," he replied somberly. "Why 
should he go to Hades ? You have it confused with 
another place that was abolished long ago." 

After supper they folded up the table-cloth and spread 
their blankets for the night. 

"What a dream it was," Kismine sighed, gazing up 
at the stars. "How strange it seems to be here with one 
dress and a penniless nance ! 



THE DIAMOND AS BIG AS THE RITZ 191 

" Under the stars," she repeated. "I never noticed 
the stars before. I always thought of them as great big 
diamonds that belonged to some one. Now they frighten 
me. They make me feel that it was all a dream, all my 
youth." 

"It was a dream," said John quietly. "Everybody's 
youth is a dream, a form of chemical madness." 

"How pleasant then to be insane!" 

"So I'm told," said John gloomily. "I don't know 
any longer. At any rate, let us love for a while, for a 
year or so, you and me. That's a form of divine drunk- 
enness that we can all try. There are only diamonds 
in the whole world, diamonds and perhaps the shabby 
gift of disillusion. Well, I have that last and I will 
make the usual nothing of it." He shivered. "Turn 
up your coat collar, little girl, the night's full of chill 
and you'll get pneumonia. His was a great sin who 
first invented consciousness. Let us lose it for a few 
hours." 

So wrapping himself in his blanket he fell off to sleep. 



THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN 
BUTTON 

As long ago as 1860 it was the proper thing to be born 
at home. At present, so I am told, the high gods of 
medicine have decreed that the first cries of the young 
shall be uttered upon the anesthetic air of a hospital, 
preferably a fashionable one. So young Mr. and Mrs. 
Roger Button were fifty years ahead of style when they 
decided, one day in the summer of 1860, that their first 
baby should be born in a hospital. Whether this 
anachronism had any bearing upon the astonishing 
history I am about to set down will never be known. 

I shall tell you what occurred, and let you judge for 
yourself. 

The Roger Buttons held an enviable position, both 
social and financial, in ante-bellum Baltimore. They 
were related to the This Family and the That Family, 
which, as every Southerner knew, entitled them to mem- 
bership in that enormous peerage which largely popu- 
lated the Confederacy. This was their first experience 
with the charming old custom of having babies Mr. 
Button was naturally nervous. He hoped it would be 
a boy so that he could be sent to Yale College in Con- 
necticut, at which institution Mr. Button himself had 
been known for four years by the somewhat obvious 
nickname of "Cuff." 

On the September morning consecrated to the enor- 
mous event he arose nervously at six o'clock, dressed 
himself, adjusted an impeccable stock, and hurried forth 
through the streets of Baltimore to the hospital, to de- 

192 



THE CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON 193 

termine whether the darkness of the night had borne in 
new life upon its bosom. 

When he was approximately a hundred yards from 
the Maryland Private Hospital for Ladies and Gentle- 
men he saw Doctor Keene, the family physician, de- 
scending the front steps, rubbing his hands together 
with a washing movement as all doctors are required 
to do by the unwritten ethics of their profession. 

Mr. Roger Button, the president of Roger Button & 
Co., Wholesale Hardware, began to run toward Doctor 
Keene with much less dignity than was expected from 
a Southern gentleman of that picturesque period. 
"Doctor Keene I" he called. "Oh, Doctor Keene !" 

The doctor heard him, faced around, and stood wait- 
ing, a curious expression settling on his harsh, medicinal 
face as Mr. Button drew near. 

"What happened?" demanded Mr. Button, as he 
came up in a gasping rush. "What was it? How is 
she? A boy? Who is it? What " 

"Talk sense!" said Doctor Keene sharply. He ap- 
peared somewhat irritated. 

"Is the child born?" begged Mr. Button. 

Doctor Keene frowned. "Why, yes, I suppose so 
after a fashion." Again he threw a curious glance at 
Mr. Button. 

"Is my wife all right ?" 

"Yes." 

"Is it a boy or a girl ?" 

"Here now!" cried Doctor Keene in a perfect pas- 
sion of irritation, "I'll ask you to go and see for your- 
self. Outrageous!" He snapped the last word out in 
almost one syllable, then he turned away muttering: 
"Do you imagine a case like this will help my profes- 
sional reputation? One more would ruin me ruin 
anybody." 



i 9 4 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

"What's the matter?" demanded Mr. Button, ap- 
palled. "Triplets?" 

"No, not triplets!" answered the doctor cuttingly. 
"What's more, you can go and see for yourself. And 
get another doctor. I brought you into the world, young 
man, and I've been physician to your family for forty 
years, but I'm through with you ! I don't want to see 
you or any of your relatives ever again ! Good-by !" 

Then he turned sharply, and without another word 
climbed into his phaeton, which was waiting at the curb- 
stone, and drove severely away. 

Mr. Button stood there upon the sidewalk, stupefied 
and trembling from head to foot. What horrible mis- 
hap had occurred ? He had suddenly lost all desire to go 
into the Maryland Private Hospital for Ladies and Gen- 
tlemen it was with the greatest difficulty that, a mo- 
ment later, he forced himself to mount the steps and 
enter the front door. 

A nurse was sitting behind a desk in the opaque 
gloom of the hall. Swallowing his shame, Mr. Button 
approached her. 

"Good-morning," she remarked, looking up at him 
pleasantly. 

" Good-morning. I I am Mr. Button." 

At this a look of utter terror spread itself over the 
girl's face. She rose to her feet and seemed about to 
fly from the hall, restraining herself only with the most 
apparent difficulty. 

"I want to see my child," said Mr. Button. 

The nurse gave a little scream. "Oh of course!" 
she cried hysterically. "Up-stairs. Right up-stairs. Go 
up!" 

She pointed the direction, and Mr. Button, bathed in 
a cool perspiration, turned falteringly, and began to 
mount to the second floor. In the upper hall he ad- 



THE CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON 195 

dressed another nurse who approached him, basin in 
hand. "I'm Mr. Button/' he managed to articulate. 
" I want to see my 

Clank! The basin clattered to the floor and rolled 
in the direction of the stairs. Clank! Clank! It be- 
gan a methodical descent as if sharing in the general 
terror which this gentleman provoked. 

"I want to see my child!" Mr. Button almost 
shrieked. He was on the verge of collapse. 

Clank ! The basin had reached the first floor. The 
nurse regained control of herself, and threw Mr. Button 
a look of hearty contempt. 

"All right, Mr. Button," she agreed in a hushed voice. 
"Very well! But if you knew what state it's put us all 
in this morning! It's perfectly outrageous! The hos- 
pital will never have the ghost of a reputation after 

"Hurry!" he cried hoarsely. "I can't stand this!" 

"Come this way, then, Mr. Button." 

He dragged himself after her. At the end of a long 
hall they reached a room from which proceeded a variety 
of howls indeed, a room which, in later parlance, would 
have been known as the "crying-room." They entered. 
Ranged around the walls were half a dozen white- 
enameled rolling cribs, each with a tag tied at the head. 

"Well," gasped Mr. Button, "which is mine?" 

"There!" said the nurse. 

Mr. Button's eyes followed her pointing finger, and 
this is what he saw. Wrapped in a voluminous white 
blanket, and partially crammed into one of the cribs, 
there sat an old man apparently about seventy years of 
age. His sparse hair was almost white, and from his 
chin dripped a long smoke-colored beard, which waved 
absurdly back and forth, fanned by the breeze coming 
in at the window. He looked up at Mr. Button with 
dim, faded eyes in which lurked a puzzled question. 



196 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

"Am I mad?" thundered Mr. Button, his terror re- 
solving into rage. " Is this some ghastly hospital joke ? " 

"It doesn't seem like a joke to us," replied the nurse 
severely. "And I don't know whether you're mad or 
not but that is most certainly your child." 

The cool perspiration redoubled on Mr. Button's 
forehead. He closed his eyes, and then, opening them, 
looked again. There was no mistake he was gazing at 
a man of threescore and ten a baby of threescore and 
ten, a baby whose feet hung over the sides of the crib 
in which it was reposing. 

The old man looked placidly from one to the other 
for a moment, and then suddenly spoke in a cracked and 
ancient voice. "Are you my father?" he demanded. 

Mr. Button and the nurse started violently. 

"Because if you are," went on the old man queru- 
lously, "I wish you'd get me out of this place or, at 
least, get them to put a comfortable rocker in here." 

"Where in God's name did you come from ? Who are 
you?" burst out Mr. Button frantically. 

"I can't tell you exactly who I am," replied the queru- 
lous whine, "because I've only been born a few hours 
but my last name is certainly Button." 

"You lie ! You're an impostor !" 

The old man turned wearily to the nurse. "Nice 
way to welcome a new-born child," he complained in a 
weak voice. "Tell him he's wrong, why don't you ?" 

"You're wrong, Mr. Button," said the nurse severely. 
"This is your child, and you'll have to make the best of 
it. We're going to ask you to take him home with you 
as soon as possible some time to-day." 

"Home?" repeated Mr. Button incredulously. 

"Yes, we can't have him here. We really can't, 
you know ? " 

"I'm right glad of it," whined the old man. "This is 



THE CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON 197 

a fine place to keep a youngster of quiet tastes. With 
all this yelling and howling, I haven't been able to get a 
wink of sleep. I asked for something to eat" here his 
voice rose to a shrill note of protest "and they brought 
me a bottle of milk!" 

Mr. Button sank down upon a chair near his son and 
concealed his face in his hands. "My heavens!" he 
murmured, in an ecstasy of horror. "What will people 
say? What must I do?" 

"You'll have to take him home," insisted the nurse 
"immediately!" 

A grotesque picture formed itself with dreadful 
clarity before the eyes of the tortured man a picture of 
himself walking through the crowded streets of the city 
with this appalling apparition stalking by his side. "I 
can't. I can't," he moaned. 

People would stop to speak to him, and what was he 
going to say? He would have to introduce this this 
septuagenarian: "This is my son, born early this 
morning." And then the old man would gather his 
blanket around him and they would plod on, past the 
bustling stores, the slave market for a dark instant 
Mr. Button wished passionately that his son was black 
past the luxurious houses of the residential district, 
past the home for the aged. . . . 

"Come! Pull yourself together," commanded the 
nurse. 

"See here," the old man announced suddenly, "if 
you think I'm going to walk home in this blanket, you're 
entirely mis taken. V 

"Babies always have blankets." 

With a malicious crackle the old man held up a small 
white swaddling garment. "Look!" he quavered. 
"This is what they had ready for me." 

"Babies always wear those," said the nurse primly. 



198 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

"Well/ 1 said the old man, "this baby's not going to 
wear anything in about two minutes. This blanket 
itches. They might at least have given me a sheet." 

1 1 Keep it on ! Keep it on ! ' ' said Mr. Button hurriedly. 
He turned to the nurse. "What'll I do ?" 

"Go down town and buy your son some clothes." 

Mr. Button's son's voice followed him down into the 
hall: "And a cane, father. I want to have a cane." 

Mr. Button banged the outer door savagely. . . . 

II 

"Good-morning," Mr. Button said, nervously, to the 
clerk in the Chesapeake Dry Goods Company. "I want 
to buy some clothes for my child." 

"How old is your child, sir?" 

"About six hours," answered Mr. Button, without 
due consideration. 

"Babies' supply department in the rear." 

"Why, I don't think I'm not sure that's what I 
want. It's he's an unusually large-size child. Ec- 
ceptionally ah large." 

"They have the largest child's sizes." 

"Where is the boys' department?" inquired Mr. 
Button, shifting his ground desperately. He felt that 
the clerk must surely scent his shameful secret. 

"Right here." 

"Well " He hesitated The notion of dressing his 
son in men's clothes was repugnant to him. If, say, 
he could only find a very large boy's suit, he might cut 
off that long and awful beard, dye the white hair brown, 
and thus manage to conceal the worst, and to retain 
something of his own self-respect not to mention his 
position in Baltimore society. 

But a frantic inspection of the boys' department re- 



THE CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON 199 

vealed no suits to fit the new-born Button. He blamed 
the store, of course in such cases it is the thing to blame 
the store. 

"How old did you say that boy of yours was?" de- 
manded the clerk curiously. 

"He's sixteen." 

" Oh, I beg your pardon. I thought you said six hours. 
You'll find the youths' department in the next aisle." 

Mr. Button turned miserably away. Then he stopped, 
brightened, and pointed his finger toward a dressed 
dummy in the window display. " There ! " he exclaimed. 
"Ill take that suit, out there on the dummy." 

The clerk stared. "Why," he protested, "that's not 
a child's suit. At least it w, but it's for fancy dress. 
You could wear it yourself ! " 

"Wrap it up/' insisted his customer nervously. 
"That's what I want." 

The astonished clerk obeyed. 

Back at the hospital Mr. Button entered the nursery 
and almost threw the package at his son. "Here's your 
clothes," he snapped out. 

The old man untied the package and viewed the con- 
tents with a quizzical eye. 

"They look sort of funny to me," he complained. 
"I don't want to be made a monkey of " 

"You've made a monkey of me!" retorted Mr. But- 
ton fiercely. "Never you mind how funny you look. 
Put them on or I'll or I'll spank you." He swal- 
lowed uneasily at the penultimate word, feeling never- 
theless that it was the proper thing to say. 

"All right, father" this with a grotesque simula- 
tion of filial respect "you've lived longer; you know 
best. Just as you say." 

As before, the sound of the word "father" caused 
Mr. Button to start violently. 



200 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

"And hurry." 

"I'm hurrying, father." 

When his son was dressed Mr. Button regarded him 
with depression. The costume consisted of dotted socks, 
pink pants, and a belted blouse with a wide white collar. 
Over the latter waved the long whitish beard, drooping 
almost to the waist The effect was not good. 

"Wait!" 

Mr. Button seized a hospital shears and with three 
quick snaps amputated a large section of the beard 1 . But 
even with this improvement the ensemble fell far short 
of perfection. The remaining brush of scraggly hair, 
the watery eyes, the ancient teeth, seemed oddly out of 
tone with the gayety of the costume. Mr. Button, 
however, was obdurate he held out his hand. "Come 
along ! " he said sternly. 

His son took the hand trustingly. "What are you 
going to call me, dad ? " he quavered as they walked from 
the nursery "just 'baby' for a while? till you think of 
a better name ? " 

Mr. Button grunted. "I don't know," he answered 
harshly. "I think we'll call you Methuselah." 

Ill 

Even after the new addition to the Button family 
had had his hair cut short and then dyed to a sparse un- 
natural black, had had his face shaved so close that it 
glistened, and had been attired in small-boy clothes made 
to order by a flabbergasted tailor, it was impossible for 
Mr. Button to ignore the fact that his son was a poor 
excuse for a first family baby. Despite his aged stoop, 
Benjamin Button for it was by this name they called 
him instead of by the appropriate but invidious Methuse- 
lah was five feet eight inches tall. His clothes did not 



THE CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON 201 

conceal this, nor did the clipping and dyeing of his 
eyebrows disguise the fact that the eyes underneath 
were faded and watery and tired. In fact, the baby- 
nurse who had been engaged in advance left the house 
after one look, in a state of considerable indignation. 

But Mr. Button persisted in his unwavering purpose. 
Benjamin was a baby, and a baby he should remain. 
At first he declared that if Benjamin didn't like warm 
milk he could go without food altogether, but he was 
finally prevailed upon to allow his son bread and butter, 
and even oatmeal by way of a compromise. One day 
he brought home a rattle and, giving it to Benjamin, 
insisted in no uncertain terms that he should "play 
with it," whereupon the old man took it with a weary 
expression and could be heard jingling it obediently at 
intervals throughout the day. 

There can be no doubt, though, that the rattle bored 
him, and that he found other and more soothing amuse- 
ments when he was left alone. For instance, Mr. But- 
ton discovered one day that during the preceding week 
he had smoked more cigars than ever before a phe- 
nomenon which was explained a few days later when, 
entering the nursery unexpectedly, he found the room 
full of faint blue haze and Benjamin, with a guilty ex- 
pression on his face, trying to conceal the butt of a dark 
Havana. This, of course, called for a severe spanking, 
but Mr. Button found that he could not bring himself 
to administer it. He merely warned his son that he 
would "stunt his growth." 

Nevertheless he persisted in his attitude. He brought 
home lead soldiers, he brought toy trains, he brought 
large pleasant animals made of cotton, and, to perfect 
the illusion which he was creating for himself at least 
he passionately demanded of the clerk in the toy-store 
whether "the paint would come off the pink duck if the 



202 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

baby put it in his mouth." But, despite all his father's 
efforts, Benjamin refused to be interested. He would 
steal down the back stairs and return to the nursery 
with a volume of the "Encyclopaedia Britannica," over 
which he would pore through an afternoon, while his 
cotton cows and his Noah's ark were left neglected on 
the floor. Against such a stubbornness Mr. Button's 
efforts were of little avail. 

The sensation created in Baltimore was, at first, 
prodigious. What the mishap would have cost the But- 
tons and their kinsfolk socially cannot be determined, 
for the outbreak of the Civil War drew the city's atten- 
tion to other things. A few people who were unfailingly 
polite racked their brains for compliments to give to the 
parents and finally hit upon the ingenious device of 
declaring that the baby resembled his grandfather, a 
fact which, due to the standard state of decay common 
to all men of seventy, could not be denied. Mr. and 
Mrs. Roger Button were not pleased, and Benjamin's 
grandfather was furiously insulted. 

Benjamin, once he left the hospital, took life as he 
found it. Several small boys were brought to see him, 
and he spent a stiff-jointed afternoon trying to work up 
an interest in tops and marbles he even managed, quite 
accidentally, to break a kitchen window with a stone 
from a sling shot, a feat which secretly delighted his 
father. 

Thereafter Benjamin contrived to break something 
every day, but he did these things only because they 
were expected of him, and because he was by nature 
obliging. 

When his grandfather's initial antagonism wore off, 
Benjamin and that gentleman took enormous pleasure in 
one another's company. They would sit for hours, these 
two so far apart in age and experience, and, like old 



THE CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON 203 

cronies, discuss with tireless monotony the slow events 
of the day. Benjamin felt more at ease in his grand- 
father's presence than in his parents' they seemed al- 
ways somewhat in awe of him and, despite the dicta- 
torial authority they exercised over him, frequently 
addressed him as "Mr." 

He was as puzzled as any one else at the apparently 
advanced age of his mind and body at birth. He read 
up on it in the medical journal, but found that no such 
case had been previously recorded. At his father's 
urging he made an honest attempt to play with other 
boys, and frequently he joined in the milder games 
football shook him up too much, and he feared that in 
case of a fracture his ancient bones would refuse to knit. 

When he was five he was sent to kindergarten, where 
he was initiated into the art of pasting green paper on 
orange paper, of weaving colored maps and manufac- 
turing eternal cardboard necklaces. He was inclined 
to drowse off to sleep in the middle of these tasks, a habit 
which both irritated and frightened his young teacher. 
To his relief she complained to his parents, and he was 
removed from the school. The Roger Buttons told 
their friends that they felt he was too young. 

By the time he was twelve years old his parents had 
grown used to him. Indeed, so strong is the force of 
custom that they no longer felt that he was different 
from any other child except when some curious anomaly 
reminded them of the fact. But one day a few weeks 
after his twelfth birthday, while looking in the mirror, 
Benjamin made, or thought he made, an astonishing dis- 
covery. Did his eyes deceive him, or had his hair 
turned in the dozen years of his life from white to iron- 
gray under its concealing dye ? Was the network of 
wrinkles on his face becoming less pronounced ? Was 
his skin healthier and firmer, with even a touch of ruddy 



204 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

winter color ? He could not tell. He knew that he no 
longer stooped and that his physical condition had im- 
proved since the early days of his life. 

"Can it be ?" he thought to himself, or, rather, 

scarcely dared to think. 

He went to his father. "I am grown," he announced 
determinedly. "I want to put on long trousers." 

His father hesitated. "Well," he said finally, "I 
don't know. Fourteen is the age for putting on long 
trousers and you are only twelve." 

"But you'll have to admit," protested Benjamin, 
"that I'm big for my age." 

His father looked at him with illusory speculation. 
"Oh, I'm not so sure of that," he said. "I was as big 
as you when I was twelve." 

This was not true it was all part of Roger Button's 
silent agreement with himself to believe in his son's 
normality. 

Finally a compromise was reached. Benjamin was to 
continue to dye his hair. He was to make a better 
attempt to play with boys of his own age. He was not 
to wear his spectacles or carry a cane in the street. In 
return for these concessions he was allowed his first 
suit of long trousers. . . . 

IV 

Of the life of Benjamin Button between his twelfth 
and twenty-first year I intend to say little. Suffice to 
record that they were years of normal ungrowth. When 
Benjamin was eighteen he was erect as a man of fifty; 
he had more hair and it was of a dark gray; his step 
was firm, his voice had lost its cracked quaver and des- 
cended to a healthy baritone. So his father sent him up 
to Connecticut to take examinations for entrance to 



THE CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON 205 

Yale College. Benjamin passed his examination and be- 
came a member of the freshman class. 

On the third day following his matriculation he re- 
ceived a notification from Mr. Hart, the college regis- 
trar, to call at his office and arrange his schedule. Ben- 
jamin, glancing in the mirror, decided that his hair needed 
a new application of its brown dye, but an anxious in- 
spection of his bureau drawer disclosed that the dye 
bottle was not there. Then he remembered he had 
emptied it the day before and thrown it away. 

He was in a dilemma. He was due at the registrar's 
in five minutes. There seemed to be no help for it he 
must go as he was. He did. 

" Good-morning," said the registrar politely. "You've 
come to inquire about your son." 

"Why, as a matter of fact, my name's Button " be- 
gan Benjamin, but Mr. Hart cut him off. 

"I'm very glad to meet you, Mr. Button. I'm ex- 
pecting your son here any minute." 

" That's me ! " burst out Benjamin. " I'm a freshman." 

"What!" 

"I'm a freshman." 

"Surely you're joking." 

"Not at all." 

The registrar frowned and glanced at a card before 
him. "Why, I have Mr. Benjamin Button's age down 
here as eighteen." 

"That's my age," asserted Benjamin, flushing slightly. 

The registrar eyed him wearily. "Now surely, Mr. 
Button, you don't expect me to believe that." 

Benjamin smiled wearily. "I am eighteen," he re- 
peated. 

The registrar pointed sternly to the door. " Get out," 
he said. " Get out of college and get out of town. You 
are a dangerous lunatic." 



206 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

"I am eighteen." 

Mr. Hart opened the door. "The idea ! " he shouted. 
"A man of your age trying to enter here as a freshman. 
Eighteen years old, are you ? Well, I'll give you eigh- 
teen minutes to get out of town." 

Benjamin Button walked with dignity from the room, 
and half a dozen undergraduates, who were waiting in 
the hall, followed him curiously with their eyes. When 
he had gone a little way he turned around, faced the in- 
furiated registrar, who was still standing in the doorway, 
and repeated in a firm voice: "I am eighteen years old." 

To a chorus of titters which went up from the group of 
undergraduates, Benjamin walked away. 

But he was not fated to escape so easily. On his 
melancholy walk to the railroad station he found that 
he was being followed by a group, then by a swarm, 
and finally by a dense mass of undergraduates. The 
word had gone around that a lunatic had passed the en- 
trance examinations for Yale and attempted to palm 
himself off as a youth of eighteen. A fever of excite- 
ment permeated the college. Men ran hatless out of 
classes, the football team abandoned its practice and 
joined the mob, professors' wives with bonnets awry 
and bustles out of position, ran shouting after the pro- 
cession, from which proceeded a continual succession of 
remarks aimed at the tender sensibilities of Benjamin 
Button. 

"He must be the Wandering Jew !" 

"He ought to go to prep school at his age !" 

"Look at the infant prodigy!" 

"He thought this was the old men's home." 

"Go up to Harvard!" 

Benjamin increased his gait, and soon he was running. 
He would show them ! He would go to Harvard, and 
then they would regret these ill-considered taunts ! 



THE CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON 207 

Safely on board the train for Baltimore, he put his 
head from the window. " You'll regret this!" he 
shouted. 

" Ha-ha !" the undergraduates laughed. "Ha-ha- 
ha ! " It was the biggest mistake that Yale College had 
ever made. 



In 1880 Benjamin Button was twenty years old, and 
he signalized his birthday by going to work for his father 
in Roger Button & Co., Wholesale Hardware. It was 
in that same year that he began "going out socially" 
that is, his father insisted on taking him to several 
fashionable dances. Roger Button was now fifty, and 
he and his son were more and more companionable in 
fact, since Benjamin had ceased to dye his hair (which 
was still grayish) they appeared about the same age, 
and could have passed for brothers. 

One night in August they got into the phaeton attired 
in their full-dress suits and drove out to a dance at the 
Shevlins' country house, situated just outside of Balti- 
more. It was a gorgeous evening. A full moon drenched 
the road to the lustreless color of platinum, and late- 
blooming harvest flowers breathed into the motionless 
air aromas that were like low, half-heard laughter. The 
open country, carpeted for rods around with bright 
wheat, was translucent as in the day. It was almost 
impossible not to be affected by the sheer beauty of 
the sky almost. 

"There's a great future in the dry-goods business," 
Roger Button was saying. He was not a spiritual 
man his esthetic sense was rudimentary. 

"Old fellows like me can't learn new tricks," he ob- 
served profoundly. "It's you youngsters with energy 
and vitality that have the great future before you." 



208 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

Far up the road the lights of the Shevlins* country 
house drifted into view, and presently there was a sigh- 
ing sound that crept persistently toward them it 
might have been the fine plaint of violins or the rustle 
of the silver wheat under the moon. 

They pulled up behind a handsome brougham whose 
passengers were disembarking at the door. A lady got 
out, then an elderly gentleman, then another young 
lady, beautiful as sin. Benjamin started; an almost 
chemical change seemed to dissolve and recompose the 
very elements of his body. A rigor passed over him, 
blood rose into his cheeks, his forehead, and there was a 
steady thumping in his ears. It was first love. 

The girl was slender and frail, with hah* that was ashen 
under the moon and honey-colored under the sputtering 
gas-lamps of the porch. Over her shoulders was thrown 
a Spanish mantilla of softest yellow, butterflied in black; 
her feet were glittering buttons at the hem of her bustled 
dress. 

Roger Button leaned over to his son. "That," he 
said, "is young Hildegarde Moncrief, the daughter of 
General Moncrief." 

Benjamin nodded coldly. "Pretty little thing," he 
said indifferently. But when the negro boy had led 
the buggy away, he added: "Dad, you might introduce 
me to her." 

They approached a group of which Miss Moncrief 
was the centre. Reared in the old tradition, she courte- 
sied low before Benjamin. Yes, he might have a dance. 
He thanked her and walked away staggered away. 

The interval until the time for his turn should arrive 
dragged itself out interminably. He stood close to the 
wall, silent, inscrutable, watching with murderous eyes 
the young bloods of Baltimore as they eddied around 
Hildegarde Moncrief, passionate admiration in their 



THE CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON 205 

faces. How obnoxious they seemed to Benjamin; how 
intolerably rosy ! Their curling brown whiskers aroused 
in him a feeling equivalent to indigestion. 

But when his own time came, and he drifted with her 
out upon the changing floor to the music of the latest 
waltz from Paris, his jealousies and anxieties melted 
from him like a mantle of snow. Blind with enchant- 
ment, he felt that life was just beginning. 

"You and your brother got here just as we did, didn't 
you?" asked Hildegarde, looking up at him with eyes 
that were like bright blue enamel. 

Benjamin hesitated. If she took him for his father's 
brother, would it be best to enlighten her ? He remem- 
bered his experience at Yale, so he decided against it. 
It would be rude to contradict a lady; it would be crimi- 
nal to mar this exquisite occasion with the grotesque 
story of his origin. Later, perhaps. So he nodded, 
smiled, listened, was happy. 

"I like men of your age," Hildegarde told him. 
"Young boys are so idiotic. They tell me how much 
champagne they drink at college, and how much money 
they lose playing cards. Men of your age know how to 
appreciate women." 

Benjamin felt himself on the verge of a proposal 
with an effort he choked back the impulse. 

"You're just the romantic age," she continued 
"fifty. Twenty-five is too worldly-wise; thirty is apt to 
be pale from overwork; forty is the age of long stories 
that take a whole cigar to tell; sixty is oh, sixty is too 
near seventy; but fifty is the mellow age. I love fifty." 

Fifty seemed to Benjamin a glorious age. He longed 
passionately to be fifty. 

"I've always said," went on Hildegarde, "that I'd 
rather marry a man of fifty and be taken care of than 
marry a man of thirty and take care of him." 



210 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

For Benjamin the rest of the evening was bathed in a 
honey-colored mist. Hildegarde gave him two more 
dances, and they discovered that they were marvellously 
in accord on all the questions of the day. She was to 
go driving with him on the following Sunday, and then 
they would discuss all these questions further. 

Going home in the phaeton just before the crack of 
dawn, when the first bees were humming and the fading 
moon glimmered in the cool dew, Benjamin knew vaguely 
that his father was discussing wholesale hardware. 

". . . . And what do you think should merit our 
biggest attention after hammers and nails?" the elder 
Button was saying. 

"Love," replied Benjamin absent-mindedly. 

"Lugs ?" exclaimed Roger Button. "Why, I've just 
covered the question of lugs." 

Benjamin regarded him with dazed eyes just as the 
eastern sky was suddenly cracked with light, and an 
oriole yawned piercingly in the quickening trees. . . . 

VI 

When, six months later, the engagement of Miss 
Hildegarde Moncrief to Mr. Benjamin Button was made 
known (I say "made known," for General Moncrief de- 
clared he would rather fall upon his sword than announce 
it), the excitement in Baltimore society reached a fever- 
ish pitch. The almost forgotten story of Benjamin's 
birth was remembered and sent out upon the winds of 
scandal in picaresque and incredible forms. It was said 
that Benjamin was really the father of Roger Button, 
that he was his brother who had been in prison for forty 
years, that he was John Wilkes Booth in disguise and, 
finally, that he had two small conical horns sprouting 
from his head. 



THE CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON 211 

The Sunday supplements of the New York papers 
played up the case with fascinating sketches which 
showed the head of Benjamin Button attached to a fish, 
to a snake, and, finally, to a body of solid brass. He be- 
came known, journalistically, as the Mystery Man of 
Maryland. But the true story, as is usually the case, 
had a very small circulation. 

However, every one agreed with General Moncrief 
that it was "criminal" for a lovely girl who could have 
married any beau in Baltimore to throw herself into the 
arms of a man who was assuredly fifty. In vain Mr. 
Roger Button published his son's birth certificate in 
large type in the Baltimore Blaze. No one believed it. 
You had only to look at Benjamin and see. 

On the part of the two people most concerned there 
was no wavering. So many of the stories about her 
fiance were false that Hildegarde refused stubbornly to 
believe even the true one. In vain General Moncrief 
pointed out to her the high mortality among men of 
fifty or, at least, among men who looked fifty; in vain 
he told her of the instability of the wholesale hardware 
business. Hildegarde had chosen to marry for mellow- 
ness and marry she did. . . . 

VII 

In one particular, at least, the friends of Hildegarde 
Moncrief were mistaken. The wholesale hardware busi- 
ness prospered amazingly. In the fifteen years between 
Benjamin Button's marriage in 1880 and his father's re- 
tirement in 1895, the family fortune was doubled and 
this was due largely to the younger member of the firm. 

Needless to say, Baltimore eventually received the 
couple to its bosom. Even old General Moncrief be- 
came reconciled to his son-in-law when Benjamin gave 



212 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

him the money to bring out his "History of the Civil 
War" in twenty volumes, which had been refused byi 
nine prominent publishers. 

In Benjamin himself fifteen years had wrought many 
changes. It seemed to him that the blood flowed with 
new vigor through his veins. It began to be a pleasure 
to rise in the morning, to walk with an active step along 
the busy, sunny street, to work untiringly with his ship- 
ments of hammers and his cargoes of nails. It was in 
1890 that he executed his famous business coup: he 
brought up the suggestion that all nails used in nailing 
up the boxes in which nails are shipped are the property of 
the shippee, a proposal which became a statute, was ap- 
proved by Chief Justice Fossile, and saved Roger Button 
and Company, Wholesale Hardware, more than six hun- 
dred nails every year. 

In addition, Benjamin discovered that he was becom- 
ing more and more attracted by the gay side of life. It 
was typical of his growing enthusiasm for pleasure that 
he was the first man in the city of Baltimore to own and 
run an automobile. Meeting him on the street, his con- 
temporaries would stare enviously at the picture he made 
of health and vitality. 

"He seems to grow younger every year," they would 
remark. And if old Roger Button, now sixty-five years 
old, had failed at first to give a proper welcome to his 
son he atoned at last by bestowing on him what 
amounted to adulation. 

And here we come to an unpleasant subject which it 
will be well to pass over as quickly as possible. There 
was only one thing that worried Benjamin Button: his 
wife had ceased to attract him. 

At that time Hildegarde was a woman of thirty-five, 
with a son, Roscoe, fourteen years old. In the early 
days of their marriage Benjamin had worshipped her. 



THE CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON 213 

But, as the years passed, her honey-colored hair became 
an unexciting brown, the blue enamel of her eyes assumed 
the aspect of cheap crockery moreover, and most of 
all, she had become too settled in her ways, too placid, 
too content, too anemic in her excitements, and too 
sober in her taste. As a bride it had been she who had 
"dragged" Benjamin to dances and dinners now con- 
ditions were reversed. She went out socially with him, 
but without enthusiasm, devoured already by that 
eternal inertia which comes to live with each of us one 
day and stays with us to the end. 

Benjamin's discontent waxed stronger. At the out- 
break of the Spanish-American War in 1898 his home had 
"for him so little charm that he decided to join the army. 
With his business influence he obtained a commission as 
captain, and proved so adaptable to the work that he 
was made a major, and finally a lieutenant-colonel just 
in time to participate in the celebrated charge up San 
Juan Hill. He was slightly wounded, and received a 
medal. 

Benjamin had become so attached to the activity and 
excitement of army life that he regretted to give it up, 
but his business required attention, so he resigned his 
commission and came home. He was met at the station 
by a brass band and escorted to his house. 

vm 

Hildegarde, waving a large silk flag, greeted him on 
the porch, and even as he kissed her he felt with a sink- 
ing of the heart that these three years had taken their 
toll. She was a woman of forty now, with a faint 
skirmish line of gray hairs in her head. The sight de- 
pressed him. 

Up in his room he saw his reflection in the familiar 



214 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

mirror he went closer and examined his own face 
with anxiety, comparing it after a moment with a photo- 
graph of himself in uniform taken just before the war. 

"Good Lord!" he said aloud. The process was con- 
tinuing. There was no doubt of it he looked now like 
a man of thirty. Instead of being delighted, he was un- 
easy he was growing younger. He had hitherto hoped 
that once he reached a bodily age equivalent to his age 
in years, the grotesque phenomenon which had marked 
his birth would cease to function. He shuddered. His 
destiny seemed to him awful, incredible. 

When he came down-stairs Hildegarde was waiting 
for him. She appeared annoyed, and he wondered if 
she had at last discovered that there was something 
amiss. It was with an effort to relieve the tension be- 
tween them that he broached the matter at dinner in 
what he considered a delicate way. 

"Well," he remarked lightly, "everybody says I 
look younger than ever." 

Hildegarde regarded him with scorn. She sniffed. 
"Do you think it's anything to boast about ?" 

"I'm not boasting," he asserted uncomfortably. 

She sniffed again. "The idea," she said, and after a 
moment: "I should think you'd have enough pride to 
stop it." 

"How can I?" he demanded. 

"I'm not going to argue with you," she retorted. 
"But there's a right way of doing things and a wrong 
way. If you've made up your mind to be different 
from everybody else, I don't suppose I can stop you, 
but I really don't think it's very considerate." 

"But, Hildegarde, I can't help it." 

"You can too. You're simply stubborn. You think 
you don't want to be like any one else. You always have 
been that way, and you always will be. But just think 



THE CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON 215 

how it would be if every one else looked at things as 
you do what would the world be like ? " 

As this was an inane and unanswerable argument 
Benjamin made no reply, and from that time on a chasm 
began to widen between them. He wondered what pos- 
sible fascination she had ever exercised over him. 

To add to the breach, he found, as the new century 
gathered headway, that his thirst for gayety grew 
stronger. Never a party of any kind in the city of 
Baltimore but he was there, dancing with the prettiest 
of the young married women, chatting with the most 
popular of the debutantes, and finding their company 
charming, while his wife, a dowager of evil omen, sat 
among the chaperons, now in haughty disapproval, and 
now following him with solemn, puzzled, and reproach- 
ful eyes. 

"Look!" people would remark. "What a pity! A 
young fellow that age tied to a woman of forty-five. He 
must be twenty years younger than his wife." They had 
forgotten as people inevitably forget that back in 
1880 their mammas and papas had also remarked about 
this same ill-matched pair. 

Benjamin's growing unhappiness at home was com- 
pensated for by his many new interests. He took up 
golf and made a great success of it. He went in for 
dancing: in 1906 he was an expert at "The Boston," and 
in 1908 he was considered proficient at the "Maxixe," 
while in 1909 his "Castle Walk" was the envy of every 
young man in town. 

His social activities, of course, interfered to some ex- 
tent with his business, but then he had worked hard at 
wholesale hardware for twenty-five years and felt that 
he could soon hand it on to his son, Roscoe, who had 
recently graduated from Harvard. 

He and his son were, in fact, often mistaken for each 



2i6 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

other. This pleased Benjamin he soon forgot the in- 
sidious fear which had come over him on his return 
from the Spanish-American War, and grew to take a 
naive pleasure in his appearance. There was only one 
fly in the delicious ointment he hated to appear in 
public with his wife. Hildegarde was almost fifty, 
and the sight of her made him feel absurd. . . . 

IX 

One September day in 1910 a few years after Roger 
Button & Co., Wholesale Hardware, had been handed 
over to young Roscoe Button a man, apparently about 
twenty years old, entered himself as a freshman at 
Harvard University in Cambridge. He did not make 
the mistake of announcing that he would never see 
fifty again nor did he mention the fact that his son had 
been graduated from the same institution ten years be- 
fore. 

He was admitted, and almost immediately attained a 
prominent position in the class, partly because he seemed 
a little older than the other freshmen, whose average 
age was about eighteen. 

But his success was largely due to the fact that in the 
football game with Yale he played so brilliantly, with so 
much dash and with such a cold, remorseless anger that 
he scored seven touchdowns and fourteen field goals for 
Harvard, and caused one entire eleven of Yale men to 
be carried singly from the field, unconscious. He was 
the most celebrated man in college. 

Strange to say, in his third or junior year he was 
scarcely able to "make" the team. The coaches said 
that he had lost weight, and it seemed to the more ob- 
servant among them that he was not quite as tall as 
before. He made no touchdowns indeed, he was re- 



THE CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON 217 

tained on the team chiefly in hope that his enormous 
reputation would bring terror and disorganization to 
the Yale team. 

In his senior year he did not make the team at all. He 
had grown so slight and frail that one day he was taken 
by some sophomores for a freshman, an incident which 
humiliated him terribly. He became known as some- 
thing of a prodigy a senior who was surely no more 
than sixteen and he was often shocked at the worldli- 
ness of some of his classmates. His studies seemed 
harder to him he felt that they were too advanced. He 
had heard his classmates speak of St. Midas', the famous 
preparatory school, at which so many of them had pre- 
pared for college, and he determined after his gradua- 
tion to enter himself at St. Midas', where the sheltered 
life among boys his own size would be more congenial 
to him. 

Upon his graduation in 1914 he went home to Balti- 
more with his Harvard diploma in his pocket. Hilde- 
garde was now residing in Italy, so Benjamin went to 
live with his son, Roscoe. But though he was welcomed 
in a general way, there was obviously no heartiness in 
Roscoe's feeling toward him there was even percepti- 
ble a tendency on his son's part to think that Benjamin, 
as he moped about the house in adolescent mooniness, 
was somewhat in the way. Roscie was married now and 
prominent in Baltimore life, and he wanted no scandal 
to creep out in connection with his family. 

Benjamin, no longer persona grata with the debu- 
tantes and younger college set, found himself left much 
alone, except for the companionship of three or four 
fifteen-year-old boys in the neighborhood. His idea of 
going to St. Midas' school recurred to him. 

"Say," he said to Roscoe one day, "I've told you over 
and over that I want to go to prep school." 



218 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

"Well, go, then/ 7 replied Roscoe shortly. The mat- 
ter was distasteful to him, and he wished to avoid a 
discussion. 

"I can't go alone," said Benjamin helplessly. "You'll 
have to enter me and take me up there." 

"I haven't got time," declared Roscoe abruptly. His 
eyes narrowed and he looked uneasily at his father. 
"As a matter of fact," he added, "you'd better not go 
on with this business much longer. You better pull up 
short. You better you better" he paused and his 
face crimsoned as he sought for words "you better 
turn right around and start back the other way. This 
has gone too far to be a joke. It isn't funny any longer. 
You you behave yourself!" 

Benjamin looked at him, on the verge of tears. 

"And another thing," continued Roscoe, "when visi- 
tors are in the house I want you to call me ' Uncle ' not 
'Roscoe/ but l Uncle/ do you understand? It looks 
absurd for a boy of fifteen to call me by my first name. 
Perhaps you'd better call me ' Uncle' ail the time, so 
you'll get used to it." 

With a harsh look at his father,^ Roscoe turned 
away. . . . 

X 

At the termination of this interview, Benjamin wan- 
dered dismally up-stairs and stared at himself in the 
mirror. He had not shaved for three months, but he 
could find nothing on his face but a faint white down 
with which it seemed unnecessary to meddle. When he 
had first come home from Harvard, Roscoe had ap- 
proached him with the proposition that he should wear 
eye-glasses and imitation whiskers glued to his cheeks, 
and it had seemed for a moment that the farce of his 
early years was to be repeated. But whiskers had 



THE CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON 219 

itched and made him ashamed. He wept and Roscoe 
had reluctantly relented. 

Benjamin opened a book of boys' stories, "The Boy 
Scouts in Bimini Bay," and began to read. But he 
found himself thinking persistently about the war. 
America had joined the Allied cause during the preced- 
ing month, and Benjamin wanted to enlist, but, alas, 
sixteen was the minimum age, and he did not look that 
old. His true age, which was fifty-seven, would have 
disqualified him, anyway. 

There was a knock at his door, and the butler ap- 
peared with a letter bearing a large official legend in 
the corner and addressed to Mr. Benjamin Button. 
Benjamin tore it open eagerly, and read the enclosure 
with delight. It informed him that many reserve officers 
who had served in the Spanish-American War were 
being called back into service with a higher rank, and it 
enclosed his commission as brigadier-general in the United 
States army with orders to report immediately. 

Benjamin jumped to his feet fairly quivering with 
enthusiasm. This was what he had wanted. He seized 
his cap and ten minutes later he had entered a large 
tailoring establishment on Charles Street, and asked in 
his uncertain treble to be measured for a uniform. 

"Want to play soldier, sonny?" demanded a clerk, 
casually. 

Benjamin flushed. "Say! Never mind what I 
want!" he retorted angrily. "My name's Button and 
I live on Mt. Vernon Place, so you know I'm good for 
it." 

"Well," admitted the clerk, hesitantly, "if you're 
not, I guess your daddy is, all right." 

Benjamin was measured, and a week later his uniform 
was completed. He had difficulty in obtaining the 
proper general's insignia because the dealer kept in- 



220 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

sisting to Benjamin that a nice Y. W. C. A. badge 
would look just as well and be much more fun to play 
with. 

Saying nothing to Roscoe, he left the house one night 
and proceeded by train to Camp Mosby, in South Caro- 
lina, where he was to command an infantry brigade. 
On a sultry April day he approached the entrance to 
the camp, paid off the taxicab which had brought him 
from the station, and turned to the sentry on guard. 

" Get some one to handle my luggage ! " he said briskly. 

The sentry eyed him reproachfully. "Say," he re- 
marked, "where you goin' with the general's duds, 
sonny?" 

Benjamin, veteran of the Spanish-American War, 
whirled upon him with fire in his eye, but with, alas, 
a changing treble voice. 

"Come to attention !" he tried to thunder; he paused 
for breath then suddenly he saw the sentry snap his 
heels together and bring his rifle to the present. Ben- 
jamin concealed a smile of gratification, but when he 
glanced around his smile faded. It was not he who had 
inspired obedience, but an imposing artillery colonel who 
was approaching on horseback. 

"Colonel!" called Benjamin shrilly. 

The colonel came up, drew rein, and looked coolly 
down at him with a twinkle in his eyes. "Whose little 
boy are you ?" he demanded kindly. 

"I'll soon darn well show you whose little boy I 
am!" retorted Benjamin in a ferocious voice. "Get 
down off that horse!" 

The colonel roared with Daughter. 

"You want him, eh, general ?" 

"Here!" cried Benjamin desperately. "Read this." 
And he thrust his commission toward the colonel. 

The colonel read it, his eyes popping from their sockets. 



THE CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON 221 

"Where'd you get this?" he demanded, slipping the 
document into his own pocket. 

"I got it from the Government, as you'll soon find 
out!" 

"You come along with me," said the colonel with a 
peculiar look. "We'll go up to headquarters and talk 
this over. Come along." 

The colonel turned and began walking his horse in 
the direction of headquarters. There was nothing for 
Benjamin to do but follow with as much dignity as pos- 
sible meanwhile promising himself a stern revenge. 

But this revenge did not materialize. Two days 
later, however, his son Roscoe materialized from Balti- 
more, hot and cross from a hasty trip, and escorted the 
weeping general, sans uniform, back to his home. 

XI 

In 1920 Roscoe Button's first child was born. Dur- 
ing the attendant festivities, however, no one thought 
it "the thing" to mention that the little grubby boy, 
apparently about ten years of age who played around 
the house with lead soldiers and a miniature circus, was 
the new baby's own grandfather. 

No one disliked the little boy whose fresh, cheerful 
face was crossed with just a hint of sadness, but to Roscoe 
Button his presence was a source of torment. In the 
idiom of his generation Roscoe did not consider the 
matter "efficient." It seemed to him that his father, 
in refusing to look sixty, had not behaved like a "red- 
blooded he-man" this was Roscoe's favorite expres- 
sion but in a curious and perverse manner. Indeed, 
to think about the matter for as much 'as a half an hour 
drove him to the edge of insanity. Roscoe believed that 
"live wires" should keep young, but carrying it out on 



222 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

such a scale was was was inefficient. And there 
Roscoe rested. 

Five years later Roscoe's little boy had grown old 
enough to play childish games with little Benjamin 
under the supervision of the same nurse. Roscoe took 
them both to kindergarten on the same day and Ben- 
jamin found that playing with little strips of colored 
paper, making mats and chains and curious and beauti- 
ful designs, was the most fascinating game in the world. 
Once he was bad and had to stand in the corner then 
he cried but for the most part there were gay hours in 
the cheerful room, with the sunlight coming in the win- 
dows and Miss Bailey's kind hand resting for a mo- 
ment now and then in his tousled hair. 

Roscoe's son moved up into the first grade after a 
year, but Benjamin stayed on in the kindergarten. He 
was very happy. Sometimes when other tots talked 
about what they would do when they grew up a shadow 
would cross his little face as if in a dim, childish way he 
realized that those were things in which he was never to 
share. 

The days flowed on in monotonous content. He went 
back a third year to the kindergarten, but he was too 
little now to understand what the bright shining strips 
of paper were for. He cried because the other boys 
were bigger than he and he was afraid of them. The 
teacher talked to him, but though he tried to understand 
he could not understand at all. 

He was taken from the kindergarten. His nurse, 
Nana, in her starched gingham dress, became the centre 
of his tiny world. On bright days they walked in the 
park; Nana would point at a great gray monster and 
say "elephant," and Benjamin would say it after her, 
and when he was being undressed for bed that night he 
would say it over and over aloud to her: "Elyphant, 



THE CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON 223 

elyphant, elyphant." Sometimes Nana let him jump 
on the bed, which was fun, because if you sat down ex- 
actly right it would bounce you up on your feet again, 
and if you said "Ah" for a long time while you jumped 
you got a very pleasing broken vocal effect. 

He loved to take a big cane from the hatrack and go 
around hitting chairs and tables with it and saying: 
"Fight, fight, fight." When there were people there 
the old ladies would cluck at him, which interested him, 
and the young ladies would try to kiss him, which he 
submitted to with mild boredom. And when the long 
day was done at five o'clock he would go up-stairs with 
Nana and be fed oatmeal and nice soft mushy foods with 
a spoon. 

There were no troublesome memories in his childish 
sleep; no token came to him of his brave days at col- 
lege, of the glittering years when he flustered the hearts 
of many girls. There were only the white, safe walls 
of his crib and Nana and a man who came to see him 
sometimes, and a great big orange ball that Nana pointed 
at just before his twilight bed hour and called "sun." 
When the sun went his eyes were sleepy there were no 
dreams, no dreams to haunt him. 

The past the wild charge at the head of his men up 
San Juan Hill; the first years of his marriage when he 
worked late into the summer dusk down in the busy 
city for young Hildegarde whom he loved; the days be- 
fore that when he sat smoking far into the night in the 
gloomy old Button house on Monroe Street with his 
grandfather all these had faded like unsubstantial 
dreams from his mind as though they had never been. 

He did not remember. He did not remember clearly 
whether the milk was warm or cool at his last feeding or 
how the days passed there was only his crib and Nana's 
familiar presence. And then he remembered nothing. 



224 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

When he was hungry he cried that was all. Through 
the noons and nights he breathed and over him there 
were soft mumblings and murmurings that he scarcely 
heard, and faintly differentiated smells, and light and 
darkness. 

Then it was all dark, and his white crib and the dim 
faces that moved above him, and the warm sweet aroma 
of the milk, faded out altogether from his mind. 



TARQUIN OF CHEAPSIDE 

RUNNING footsteps light, soft-soled shoes made of 
curious leathery cloth brought from Ceylon setting the 
pace ; thick flowing boots, two pairs, dark blue and gilt, 
reflecting the moonlight in blunt gleams and splotches, 
following a stone's throw behind. 

Soft Shoes flashes through a patch of moonlight, then 
darts into a blind labyrinth of alleys and becomes only 
an intermittent scuffle ahead somewhere in the enfold- 
ing darkness. In go Flowing Boots, with short swords 
lurching and long plumes awry, rinding a breath to curse 
God and the black lanes of London. 

Soft Shoes leaps a shadowy gate and crackles through 
a hedgerow. Flowing Boots leap the gate and crackles 
through the hedgerow and there, startlingly, is the 
watch ahead two murderous pikemen of ferocious cast 
of mouth acquired in Holland and the Spanish marches. 

But there is no cry for help. The pursued does not fall 
panting at the feet of the watch, clutching a purse; 
neither do the pursuers raise a hue and cry. Soft Shoes 
goes by in a rush of swift air. The watch curse and 
hesitate, glance after the fugitive, and then spread their 
pikes grimly across the road and wait for Flowing Boots. 
Darkness, like a great hand, cuts off the even flow of the 
moon. 

The hand moves off the moon whose pale caress finds 
again the eaves and lintels, and the watch, wounded and 
tumbled in the dust. Up the street one of Flowing 
Boots leaves a black trail of spots until he binds himseli, 
clumsily as he runs, with fine lace caught from his 
throat. 

225 



226 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

It was no affair for the watch: Satan was at large to- 
night and Satan seemed to be he who appeared dimly 
in front, heel over gate, knee over fence. Moreover, 
the adversary was obviously travelling near home or at 
least in that section of London consecrated to his coarser 
whims, for the street narrowed like a road in a picture 
and the houses bent over further and further, cooping 
in natural ambushes suitable for murder and its histrionic 
sister, sudden death. 

Down long and sinuous lanes twisted the hunted 
and the harriers, always in and out of the moon in a 
perpetual queen's move over a checker-board of glints 
and patches. Ahead, the quarry, minus his leather 
jerkin now and half blinded by drips of sweat, had 
taken to scanning his ground desperately on both sides. 
As a result he suddenly slowed short, and retracing his 
steps a bit scooted up an alley so dark that it seemed that 
here sun and moon had been in eclipse since the last 
glacier slipped roaring over the earth. Two hundred 
yards down he stopped and crammed himself into a 
niche in the wall where he huddled and panted silently, 
a grotesque god without bulk or outline in the gloom. 

Flowing Boots, two pairs, drew near, came up, went 
by, halted twenty yards beyond him, and spoke in deep- 
lunged, scanty whispers: 

"I was attune to that scuffle; it stopped." 

"Within twenty paces." 

"He's hid." 

"Stay together now and we'll cut him up." 

The voice faded into a low crunch of a boot, nor did 
Soft Shoes wait to hear more he sprang in three leaps 
across the alley, where he bounded up, flapped for a 
moment on the top of the wall like a huge bird, and dis- 
appeared, gulped down by the hungry night at a mouth- 
ful. 



TARQUIN OF CHEAPSIDE 227 



II 

"He read at wine, he read in bed, 

He read aloud, had he the breath, 
His every thought was with the dead, 
And so he read himself to death" 

Any visitor to the old James the First graveyard near 
Peat's Hill may spell out this bit of doggerel, undoubt- 
edly one of the worst recorded of an Elizabethan, on the 
tomb of Wessel Caxter. 

This death of his, says the antiquary, occurred when 
he was thirty-seven, but as this story is concerned with 
the night of a certain chase through darkness, we find 
him still alive, still reading. His eyes were somewhat 
dim, his stomach somewhat obvious he was a mis- 
built man and indolent oh, Heavens ! But an era is an 
era, and in the reign of Elizabeth, by the grace of Luther, 
Queen of England, no man could help but catch the 
spirit of enthusiasm. Every loft in Cheapside pub- 
lished its Magnum Folium (or magazine) of the new 
blank verse; the Cheapside Players would produce any- 
thing on sight as long as it "got away from those reac- 
tionary miracle plays," and the English Bible had run 
through seven "very large" printings in as many 
months. 

So Wessel Caxter (who in his youth had gone to sea) 
was now a reader of all on which he could lay his hands 
he read manuscripts in holy friendship; he dined rotten 
poets; he loitered about the shops where the Magna 
Folia were printed, and he listened tolerantly while the 
young playwrights wrangled and bickered among them- 
selves, and behind each other's backs made bitter and 
malicious charges of plagiarism or anything else they 
could think of. 



228 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

To-night he had a book, a piece of work which, though 
inordinately versed, contained, he thought, some rather 
excellent political satire. "The Faerie Queene" by Ed- 
mund Spenser lay before him under the tremulous 
candle-light. He had ploughed through a canto; he was 
beginning another: 

THE LEGEND OF BRITOMARTIS OR OF CHASTITY 

// falls me here to write of Chastity. 

The fayrest vertue, far above the rest. . . . 

A sudden rush of feet on the stairs, a rusty swing-open 
of the thin door, and a man thrust himself into the 
room, a man without a jerkin, panting, sobbing, on the 
verge of collapse. 

"Wessel," words choked him, "stick me away some- 
where, love of Our Lady ! " 

Caxter rose, carefully closing his book, and bolted 
the door in some concern. 

"I'm pursued," cried out Soft Shoes. "I vow there's 
two short-witted blades trying to make me into mince- 
meat and near succeeding. They saw me hop the back 
wall!" 

"It would need," said Wessel, looking at him curiously, 
"several battalions armed with blunderbusses, and two 
or three Armadas, to keep you reasonably secure from 
the revenges of the world." 

Soft Shoes smiled with satisfaction. His sobbing 
gasps were giving way to quick, precise breathing; his 
hunted air had faded to a faintly perturbed irony. 

"I feel little surprise," continued Wessel. 

"They were two such dreary apes." 

"Making a total of three." 

"Only two unless you stick me away. Man, man, 
come alive; they'll be on the stairs in a spark's age." 



TARQUIN OF CHEAPSIDE 229 

Wessel took a dismantled pike-staff from the corner, 
and raising it to the high ceiling, dislodged a rough trap- 
door opening into a garret above. 

"There's no ladder." 

He moved a bench under the trap, upon which Soft 
Shoes mounted, crouched, hesitated, crouched again, 
and then leaped amazingly upward. He caught at the 
edge of the aperture and swung back and forth for a 
moment, shifting his hold; finally doubled up and disap- 
peared into the darkness above. There was a scurry, 
a migration of rats, as the trap-door was replaced; . . . 
silence. 

Wessel returned to his reading-table, opened to the 
Legend of Britomartis or of Chastity and waited. 
Almost a minute later there was a scramble on the 
stairs and an intolerable hammering at the door. Wessel 
sighed and, picking up his candle, rose. 

"Who's there?" 

"Open the door!" 

"Who's there?" 

An aching blow frightened the frail wood, splintered 
it around the edge. Wessel opened it a scarce three 
inches, and held the candle high. His was to play the 
timorous, the super-respectable citizen, disgracefully 
disturbed. 

"One small hour of the night for rest. Is that too 
much to ask from every brawler and " 

"Quiet, gossip! Have you seen a perspiring fellow ?" 

The shadows of two gallants fell in immense waver- 
ing outlines over the narrow stairs; by the light Wessel 
scrutinized them closely. Gentlemen, they were, hast- 
ily but richly dressed one of them wounded severely 
in the hand, both radiating a sort of furious horror. 
Waving aside Wessel's ready miscomprehension, they 
pushed by him into the room and with their swords 



230 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

went through the business of poking carefully into all 
suspected dark spots in the room, further extending 
their search to Wessel's bedchamber. 

"Is he hid here?" demanded the wounded man 
fiercely. 

"Is who here?" 

"Any man but you/' 

"Only two others that I know of." 

For a second Wessel feared that he had been too 
damned funny, for the gallants made as though to prick 
him through. 

"I heard a man on the stairs," he said hastily, "full 
five minutes ago, it was. He most certainly failed to 
come up." 

He went on to explain his absorption in " The Faerie 
Queene " but, for the moment at least, his visitors, like 
the great saints, were anaesthetic to culture. 

"What's been done?" inquired Wessel. 

"Violence!" said the man with the wounded hand. 
Wessel noticed that his eyes were quite wild. " My own 
sister. Oh, Christ in heaven, give us this man ! " 

Wessel winced. 

"Who is the man?" 

"God's word! We know not even that. What's 
that trap up there ?" he added suddenly. 

"It's nailed down. It's not been used for years." 
He thought of the pole in the corner and quailed in his 
belly, but the utter despair of the two men dulled their 
astuteness. 

"It would take a ladder for any one not a tumbler," 
said the wounded man listlessly. 

His companion broke into hysterical laughter. 

"A tumbler. Oh, a tumbler. Oh 

Wessel stared at them in wonder. 



TARQUIN OF CHEAPSIDE 231 

"That appeals to my most tragic humor," cried the 
man, "that no one oh, no one could get up there but 
a tumbler." 

The gallant with the wounded hand snapped his 
good fingers impatiently. 

"We must go next door and then on " 

Helplessly they went as two walking under a dark 
and storm-swept sky. 

Wessel closed and bolted the door and stood a mo- 
ment by it, frowning in pity. 

A low-breathed " Ha ! " made him look up. Soft Shoes 
had already raised the trap and was looking down into 
the room, his rather elfish face squeezed into a grimace, 
half of distaste, half of sardonic amusement. 

"They take off their heads with their helmets," he 
remarked in a whisper, " but as for you and me, Wessel, 
we are two cunning men." 

"Now you be cursed," cried Wessel vehemently. "I 
knew you for a dog, but when I hear even the half of a 
tale like this, I know you for such a dirty cur that I am 
minded to club your skull." 

Soft Shoes stared at him, blinking. 

"At all events," he replied finally, "I find dignity im- 
possible in this position." 

With this he let his body through the trap, hung for 
an instant, and dropped the seven feet to the floor. 

"There was a rat considered my ear with the air of a 
gourmet," he continued, dusting his hands on his 
breeches. "I told him in the rat's peculiar idiom that 
I was deadly poison, so he took himself off." 

"Let's hear of this night's lechery!" insisted Wessel 
angrily. 

Soft Shoes touched his thumb to his nose and wiggled 
the fingers derisively at Wessel. 



232 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

"Street gamin!" muttered Wessel. 

"Have you any paper?" demanded Soft Shoes irrele- 
vantly, and then rudely added, "or can you write?" 

"Why should I give you paper ?" 

"You wanted to hear of the night's entertainment. 
So you shall, an you give me pen, ink, a sheaf of paper, 
and a room to myself." 

Wessel hesitated. 

"Get out! "he said finally. 

"As you will. Yet you have missed a most intrigu- 
ing story." 

Wessel wavered he was soft as taffy, that man 
gave in. Soft Shoes went into the adjoining room with 
the begrudged writing materials and precisely closed the 
door. Wessel grunted and returned to " The Faerie 
Queene "; so silence came once more upon the house. 

Ill 

Three o'clock went into four. The room paled, the 
dark outside was shot through with damp and chill, 
and Wessel, cupping his brain in his hands, bent low over 
his table, tracing through the pattern of knights and 
fairies and the harrowing distresses of many girls. 
There were dragons chortling along the narrow street 
outside; when the sleepy armorer's boy began his work 
at half-past five the heavy clink and chank of plate and 
linked mail swelled to the echo of a marching cavalcade. 

A fog shut down at the first flare of dawn, and the room 
was grayish yellow at six when Wessel tiptoed to his 
cupboard bedchamber and pulled open the door. His 
guest turned on him a face pale as parchment in which 
two distraught eyes burned like great red letters. He 
had drawn a chair close to Wessel's prie-dieu which he 
was using as a desk; and on it was an amazing stack of 



TARQUIN OF CHEAPSIDE 233 

closely written pages. With a long sigh Wessel with- 
drew and returned to his siren, calling himself fool for 
not claiming his bed here at dawn. 

The clump of boots outside, the croaking of old bel- 
dames from attic to attic, the dull murmur of morning, 
unnerved him, and, dozing, he slumped in his chair, his 
brain, overladen with sound and color, working intoler- 
ably over the imagery that stacked it. In this restless 
dream of his he was one of a thousand groaning bodies 
crushed near the sun, a helpless bridge for the strong- 
eyed Apollo. The dream tore at him, scraped along 
his mind like a ragged knife. When a hot hand touched 
his shoulder, he awoke with what was nearly a scream 
to find the fog thick in the room and his guest, a gray 
ghost of misty stuff, beside him with a pile of paper in 
his hand. 

"It should be a most intriguing tale, I believe, though 
it requires some going over. May I ask you to lock it 
away, and in God's name let me sleep ? " 

He waited for no answer, but thrust the pile at Wessel, 
and literally poured himself like stuff from a suddenly 
inverted bottle upon a couch in the corner; slept, with 
his breathing regular, but his brow wrinkled in a curious 
and somewhat uncanny manner. 

Wessel yawned sleepily and, glancing at the scrawled, 
uncertain first page, he began reading aloud very softly: 

The Rape of Lucrece 

"From the besieged Ardea all in post, 
Borne by the trustless wings of false desire, 
Lust-breathing Tarquin leaves the Roman host " 



" O RUSSET WITCH ! " 

MERLIN GRAINGER was employed by the Moonlight 
Quill Bookshop, which you may have visited, just 
around the corner from the Ritz-Carlton on Forty- 
seventh Street. The Moonlight Quill is, or rather was, 
a very romantic little store, considered radical and ad- 
mitted dark. It was spotted interiorly with red and 
orange posters of breathless exotic intent, and lit no less 
by the shiny reflecting bindings of special editions than 
by the great squat lamp of crimson satin that, lighted 
through all the day, swung overhead. It was truly a 
mellow bookshop. The words "Moonlight Quill" were 
worked over the door in a sort of serpentine embroidery. 
The windows seemed always full of something that had 
passed the literary censors with little to spare; volumes 
with covers of deep orange which offer their titles on 
little white paper squares. And over all there was the 
smell of the musk, which the clever, inscrutable Mr. 
Moonlight Quill ordered to be sprinkled about the smell 
half of a curiosity shop in Dickens' London and half of 
a coffee-house on the warm shores of the Bosphorus. 

From nine until five-thirty Merlin Grainger asked 
bored old ladies in black and young men with dark cir- 
cles under their eyes if they "cared for this fellow" or 
were interested in first editions. Did they buy novels 
with Arabs on the cover, or books which gave Shake- 
speare's newest sonnets as dictated psychically to Miss 
Sutton of South Dakota? he sniffed. As a matter of 
fact, his own taste ran to these latter, but as an employee 
at the Moonlight Quill he assumed for the working day 
the attitude of a disillusioned connoisseur. 

After he had crawled over the window display to pull 

234 



"0 RUSSET WITCH!" 235 

down the front shade at five-thirty every afternoon, and 
said good-bye to the mysterious Mr. Moonlight Quill 
and the lady clerk, Miss McCracken, and the lady 
stenographer, Miss Masters, he went home to the girl, 
Caroline. He did not eat supper with Caroline. It 
is unbelievable that Caroline would have considered 
eating off his bureau with the collar buttons dangerously 
near the cottage cheese, and the ends of Merlin's necktie 
just missing his glass of milk he had never asked her 
to eat with him. He ate alone. He went into Braeg- 
dort's delicatessen on Sixth Avenue and bought a box 
of crackers, a tube of anchovy paste, and some oranges, 
or else a little jar of sausages and some potato salad and 
a bottled soft drink, and with these in a brown package 
he went to his room at Fifty-something West Fifty- 
eighth Street and ate his supper and saw Caroline. 

Caroline was a very young and gay person who lived 
with some older lady and was possibly nineteen. She 
was like a ghost in that she never existed until evening. 
She sprang into life when the lights went on in her apart- 
ment at about six, and she disappeared, at the latest, 
about midnight. Her apartment was a nice one, in a 
nice building with a white stone front, opposite the south 
side of Central Park. The back of her apartment faced 
the single window of the single room occupied by the 
single Mr. Grainger. 

He called her Caroline because there was a picture 
that looked like her on the jacket of a book of that name 
down at the Moonlight Quill. 

Now, Merlin Grainger was a thin young man of 
twenty-five, with dark hair and no mustache or beard 
or anything like that, but Caroline was dazzling and 
light, with a shimmering morass of russet waves to take 
the place of hair, and the sort of features that remind you 
of kisses the sort of features you thought belonged to 



236 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

your first love, but know, when you come across an old 
picture, didn't. She dressed in pink or blue usually, 
but of late she had sometimes put on a slender black 
gown that was evidently her especial pride, for whenever 
she wore it she would stand regarding a certain place 
on the wall, which Merlin thought must be a mirror. 
She sat usually in the profile chair near the window, but 
sometimes honored the chaise longue by the lamp, and 
often she leaned 'way back and smoked a cigarette with 
posturings of her arms and hands that Merlin considered 
very graceful. 

At another time she had come to the window and stood 
in it magnificently, and looked out because the moon had 
lost its way and was dripping the strangest and most 
transforming brilliance into the areaway between, turn- 
ing the motif of ash-cans and clothes-lines into a vivid 
impressionism of silver casks and gigantic gossamer 
cobwebs. Merlin was sitting in plain sight, eating cot- 
tage cheese with sugar and milk on it; and so quickly 
did he reach out for the window cord that he tipped the 
cottage cheese into his lap with his free hand and the 
milk was cold and the sugar made spots on his trousers, 
and he was sure that she had seen him after all. 

Sometimes there were callers men in dinner coats, 
who stood and bowed, hat in hand and coat on arm, as 
they talked to Caroline; then bowed some more and 
followed her out of the light, obviously bound for a play 
or for a dance. Other young men came and sat and 
smoked cigarettes, and seemed trying to tell Caroline 
something she sitting either in the profile chair and 
watching them with eager intentness or else in the 
chaise longue by the lamp, looking very lovely and youth- 
fully inscrutable indeed. 

Merlin enjoyed these calls. Of some of the men he 
approved. Others won only his grudging toleration, 



"0 RUSSET WITCH!" 237 

one or two he loathed especially the most frequent 
caller, a man with black hair and a black goatee and a 
pitch-dark soul, who seemed to Merlin vaguely familiar, 
but whom he was never quite able to recognize. 

Now, Merlin's whole life was not " bound up with this 
romance he had constructed"; it was not "the happiest 
hour of his day." He never arrived in time to rescue 
Caroline from "clutches"; nor did he even marry her. 
A much stranger thing happened than any of these, and 
it is this strange thing that will presently be set down 
here. It began one October afternoon when she walked 
briskly into the mellow interior of the Moonlight Quill. 

It was a dark afternoon, threatening rain and the end 
of the world, and done in that particularly gloomy gray 
in which only New York afternoons indulge. A breeze 
was crying down the streets, whisking along battered 
newspapers and pieces of things, and little lights were 
pricking out all the windows it was so desolate that 
one was sorry for the tops of sky-scrapers lost up there in 
the dark green and gray heaven, and felt that now surely 
the farce was to close, and presently all the buildings 
would collapse like card houses, and pile up in a dusty, 
sardonic heap upon all the millions who presumed to 
wind in and out of them. 

At least these were the sort of musings that lay heavily 
upon the soul of Merlin Grainger, as he stood by the win- 
dow putting a dozen books back in a row, after a cyclonic 
visit by a lady with ermine trimmings. He looked out 
of the window full of the most distressing thoughts of 
the early novels of H. G. Wells, of the book of Genesis, 
of how Thomas Edison had said that in thirty years 
there would be no dwelling-houses upon the island, but 
only a vast and turbulent bazaar; and then he set the 
last book right side up, turned and Caroline walked 
coolly into the shop. 



238 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

She was dressed in a jaunty but conventional walking 
costume he remembered this when he thought about 
it later. Her skirt was plaid, pleated like a concertina; 
her jacket was a soft but brisk tan; her shoes and spats 
were brown and her hat, small and trim, completed her 
like the top of a very expensive and beautifully filled 
candy box. 

Merlin, breathless and startled, advanced nervously 
toward her. 

"Good-afternoon" he said, and then stopped why, 
he did not know, except that it came to him that some- 
thing very portentous in his life was about to occur, 
and that it would need no furbishing but silence, and the 
proper amount of expectant attention. And in that 
minute before the thing began to happen he had the 
sense of a breathless second hanging suspended in time: 
he saw through the glass partition that bounded off the 
little office the malevolent conical head of his employer, 
Mr. Moonlight Quill, bent over his correspondence. 
He saw Miss McCracken and Miss Masters as two 
patches of hair drooping over piles of paper; he saw the 
crimson lamp overhead, and noticed with a touch of 
pleasure how really pleasant and romantic it made the 
book-store seem. 

Then the thing happened, or rather it began to hap- 
pen. Caroline picked up a volume of poems lying loose 
upon a pile, fingered it absently with her slender white 
hand, and suddenly, with an easy gesture, tossed it up- 
ward toward the ceiling, where it disappeared in the 
crimson lamp and lodged there, seen through the il- 
luminated silk as a dark, bulging rectangle. This 
pleased her she broke into young, contagious laughter, 
in which Merlin found himself presently joining. 

"It stayed up!" she cried merrily. "It stayed up, 
didn't it?" To both of them this seemed the height of 



"O RUSSET WITCH!" 239 

brilliant absurdity. Their laughter mingled, filled the 
bookshop, and Merlin was glad to find that her voice 
was rich and full of sorcery. 

"Try another," he found himself suggesting "try a 
red one." 

At this her laughter increased, and she had to rest her 
hands upon the stack to steady herself. 

"Try another," she managed to articulate between 
spasms of mirth. "Oh, golly, try another!" 

"Try two." 

"Yes, try two. Oh, I'll choke if I don't stop laugh- 
ing. Here it goes." 

Suiting her action to the word, she picked up a red 
book and sent it in a gentle hyperbola toward the 
ceiling, where it sank into the lamp beside the first. It 
was a few minutes before either of them could do more 
than rock back and forth in helpless glee; but then by 
mutual agreement they took up the sport anew, this 
time in unison. Merlin seized a large, specially bound 
French classic and whirled it upward. Applauding his 
own accuracy, he took a best-seller in one hand and a 
book on barnacles in the other, and waited breathlessly 
while she made her shot. Then the business waxed fast 
and furious sometimes they alternated, and, watching, 
he found how supple she was in every movement; 
sometimes one of them made shot after shot, picking up 
the nearest book, sending it off, merely taking time to 
follow it with a glance before reaching for another. 
Within three minutes they had cleared a little place on 
the table, and the lamp of crimson satin was so bulging 
with books that it was near breaking. 

"Silly game, basket-ball," she cried scornfully as a 
book left her hand. ' ' High-school girls play it in hideous 
bloomers." 

"Idiotic," he agreed. 



240 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

She paused in the act of tossing a book, and replaced 
it suddenly in its position on the table. 

"I think we've got room to sit down now," she said 
gravely. 

They had; they had cleared an ample space for two. 
With a faint touch of nervousness Merlin glanced toward 
Mr. Moonlight Quill's glass partition, but the three 
heads were still bent earnestly over their work, and it 
was evident that they had not seen what had gone on 
in the shop. So when Caroline put her hands on the 
table and hoisted herself up Merlin calmly imitated 
her, and they sat side by side looking very earnestly at 
each other. 

"I had to see you," she began, with a rather pathetic 
expression in her brown eyes. 

"I know." 

"It was that last time," she continued, her voice 
trembling a little, though she tried to keep it steady. 
"I was frightened. I don't like you to eat off the dresser. 
I'm so afraid you'll you'll swallow a collar button." 

"I did once almost," he confessed reluctantly, "but 
it's not so easy, you know. I mean you can swallow 
the flat part easy enough or else the other part that 
is, separately but for a whole collar button you'd 
have to have a specially made throat." He was aston- 
ishing himself by the debonnaire appropriateness of his 
remarks. Words seemed for the first time in his life 
to run at him shrieking to be used, gathering themselves 
into carefully arranged squads and platoons, and being 
presented to him by punctilious adjutants of para- 
graphs. 

"That's what scared me," she said. "I knew you 
had to have a specially made throat and I knew, at 
least I felt sure, that you didn't have one." 

He nodded frankly. 



"O RUSSET WITCH!" 241 

"I haven't. It costs money to have one more 
money unfortunately than I possess." 

He felt no shame in saying this rather a delight in 
making the admission he knew that nothing he could 
say or do would be beyond her comprehension; least 
of all his poverty, and the practical impossibility of ever 
extricating himself from it. 

Caroline looked down at her wrist watch, and with a 
little cry slid from the table to her feet. 

" It's after five," she cried. " I didn't realize. I have 
to be at the Ritz at five-thirty. Let's hurry and get 
this done. I've got a bet on it." 

With one accord they set to work. Caroline began 
the matter by seizing a book on insects and sending it 
whizzing, and finally crashing through the glass parti- 
tion that housed Mr. Moonlight Quill. The proprietor 
glanced up with a wild look, brushed a few pieces of 
glass from his desk, and went on with his letters. Miss 
McCracken gave no sign of having heard only Miss 
Masters started and gave a little frightened scream be- 
fore she bent to her task again. 

But to Merlin and Caroline it didn't matter. In a 
perfect orgy of energy they were hurling book after book 
in all directions, until sometimes three or four were in 
the air at once, smashing against shelves, cracking the 
glass of pictures on the walls, falling in bruised and torn 
heaps upon the floor. It was fortunate that no custom- 
ers happened to come in, for it is certain they would never 
have come in again the noise was too tremendous, a 
noise of smashing and ripping and tearing, mixed now 
and then with the tinkling of glass, the quick breathing 
of the two throwers, and the intermittent outbursts of 
laughter to which both of them periodically surrendered. 

At five- thirty Caroline tossed a last book at the lamp, 
and so gave the final impetus to the load it carried. The 



242 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

weakened silk tore and dropped its cargo in one vast 
splattering of white and color to the already littered 
floor. Then with a sigh of relief she turned to Merlin 
and held out her hand. 

"Good-by," she said simply. 

"Are you going?" He knew she was. His question 
was simply a lingering wile to detain her and extract 
for another moment that dazzling essence of light he 
drew from her presence, to continue his enormous satis- 
faction in her features, which- were like kisses and, he 
thought, like the features of a girl he had known back in 
1910. For a minute he pressed the softness of her hand 
then she smiled and withdrew it and, before he could 
spring to open the door, she had done it herself and was 
gone out into the turbid and ominous twilight that 
brooded narrowly over Forty-seventh Street. 

I would like to tell you how Merlin, having seen how 
beauty regards the wisdom of the years, walked into the 
little partition of Mr. Moonlight Quill and gave up his 
job then and there; thence issuing out into the street a 
much finer and nobler and increasingly ironic man. But 
the truth is much more commonplace. Merlin Grainger 
stood up and surveyed the wreck of the bookshop, the 
ruined volumes, the torn silk remnants of the once beau- 
tiful crimson lamp, the crystalline sprinkling of broken 
glass which lay in iridescent dust over the whole interior 
and then he went to a corner where a broom was kept 
and began cleaning up and rearranging and, as far as he 
was able, restoring the shop to its former condition. He 
found that, though some few of the books were unin- 
jured, most of them had suffered in varying extents. 
The backs were off some, the pages were torn from others, 
still others were just slightly cracked in the front, which, 
as all careless book returners know, makes a book un- 
salable, and therefore second-hand. 



"O RUSSET WITCH!" 243 

Nevertheless by six o'clock he had done much to re- 
pair the damage. He had returned the books to their 
original places, swept the floor, and put new lights in 
the sockets overhead. The red shade itself was ruined 
beyond redemption, and Merlin thought in some trepi- 
dation that the money to replace it might have to come 
out of his salary. At six, therefore, having done the 
best he could, he crawled over the front window display 
to pull down the blind. As he was treading delicately 
back, he saw Mr. Moonlight Quill rise from his desk, 
put on his overcoat and hat, and emerge into the shop. 
He nodded mysteriously at Merlin and went toward the 
door. With his hand on the knob he paused, turned 
around, and in a voice curiously compounded of ferocity 
and uncertainty, he said : 

"If that girl comes in here again, you tell her to be- 
have." 

With that he opened the door, drowning Merlin's 
meek "Yessir" in its creak, and went out. 

Merlin stood there for a moment, deciding wisely 
not to worry about what was for the present only a 
possible futurity, and then he went into the back of the 
shop and invited Miss Masters to have supper with him 
at Pulpat's French Restaurant, where one could still 
obtain red wine at dinner, despite the Great Federal 
Government. Miss Masters accepted. 

"Wine makes me feel all tingly," she said. 

Merlin laughed inwardly as he compared her to Caro- 
line, or rather as he didn't compare her. There was no 
comparison. 

II 

Mr. Moonlight Quill, mysterious, exotic, and oriental 
in temperament was, nevertheless, a man of decision. 
And it was with decision that he approached the problem 



244 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

of his wrecked shop. Unless he should make an outlay 
equal to the original cost of his entire stock a step 
which for certain private reasons he did not wish to take 
it would be impossible for him to continue in business 
with the Moonlight Quill as before. There was but one 
thing to do. He promptly turned his establishment 
from an up-to-the-minute book-store into a second-hand 
bookshop. The damaged books were marked down from 
twenty-five to fifty per cent, the name over the door 
whose serpentine embroidery had once shone so inso- 
lently bright, was allowed to grow dim and take on the 
indescribably vague color of old paint, and, having a 
strong penchant for ceremonial, the proprietor even 
went so far as to buy two skull-caps of shoddy red felt, 
one for himself and one for his clerk, Merlin Grainger. 
Moreover, he let his goatee grow until it resembled the 
tail-feathers of an ancient sparrow and substituted for 
a once dapper business suit a reverence-inspiring affair 
of shiny alpaca. 

In fact, within a year after Caroline's catastrophic 
visit to the bookshop the only thing in it that preserved 
any semblance of being up to date was Miss Masters. 
Miss McCracken had followed in the footsteps of Mr. 
Moonlight Quill and become an intolerable dowd. 

For Merlin too, from a feeling compounded of loyalty 
and listlessness, had let his exterior take on the semblance 
of a deserted garden. He accepted the red felt skull- 
cap as a symbol of his decay. Always a young man 
known as a "pusher," he had been, since the day of his 
graduation from the manual training department of a 
New York High School, an inveterate brusher of clothes, 
hair, teeth, and even eyebrows, and had learned the 
value of laying all his clean socks toe upon toe and heel 
upon heel in a certain drawer of his bureau, which would 
be known as the sock drawer. 



"0 RUSSET WITCH!" 245 

These things, he felt, had won him his place in the 
greatest splendor of the Moonlight Quill. It was due to 
them that he was not still making " chests useful for 
keeping things," as he was taught with breathless prac- 
ticality in High School, and selling them to whoever 
had use of such chests possibly undertakers. Never- 
theless when the progressive Moonlight Quill became 
the retrogressive Moonlight Quill he preferred to sink 
with it, and so took to letting his suits gather undis- 
turbed the wispy burdens of the air and to throwing his 
socks indiscriminately into the shirt drawer, the under- 
wear drawer, and even into no drawer at all. It was not 
uncommon in his new carelessness to let many of his 
clean clothes go directly back to the laundry without 
having ever been worn, a common eccentricity of im- 
poverished bachelors. And this in the face of his favorite 
magazines, which at that time were fairly staggering 
with articles by successful authors against the fright- 
ful impudence of the condemned poor, such as the buy- 
ing of wearable shirts and nice cuts of meat, and the 
fact that they preferred good investments in personal 
jewelry to respectable ones in four per cent saving- 
banks. 

It was indeed a strange state of affairs and a sorry 
one for many worthy and God-fearing men. For the 
first time in the history of the Republic almost any negro 
north of Georgia could change a one-dollar bill. But 
as at that time the cent was rapidly approaching the 
purchasing power of the Chinese ubu and was only a 
thing you got back occasionally after paying for a soft 
drink, and could use merely in getting your correct 
weight, this was perhaps not so strange a phenomenon 
as it at first seems. It was too curious a state of things, 
however, for Merlin Grainger to take the step that he 
did take the hazardous, almost involuntary step of 



246 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

proposing to Miss Masters. Stranger still that she 
accepted him. 

It was at Pulpat's on Saturday night and over a $1.75 
bottle of water diluted with mn ordinaire that the pro- 
posal occurred. 

"Wine makes me feel all tingly, doesn't it you?" 
chattered Miss Masters gaily. 

"Yes," answered Merlin absently; and then, after a 
long and pregnant pause: "Miss Masters Olive I 
want to say something to you if you'll listen to me." 

The tingliness of Miss Masters (who knew what was 
coming) increased until it seemed that she would shortly 
be electrocuted by her own nervous reactions. But her 
"Yes, Merlin," came without a sign or flicker of interior 
disturbance. Merlin swallowed a stray bit of air that 
he found in his mouth. 

"I have no fortune," he said with the manner of 
making an announcement. "I have no fortune at all." 

Their eyes met, locked, became wistful, and dreamy 
and beautiful. 

"Olive," he told her, "I love you." 

"I love you too, Merlin," she answered simply. 
"Shall we have another bottle of wine?" 

"Yes," he cried, his heart beating at a great rate. 
"Do you mean " 

"To drink to our engagement," she interrupted 
bravely. " May it be a short one !" 

"No!" he almost shouted, bringing his fist fiercely 
down upon the table. "May it last forever!" 

"What?" 

"I mean oh, I see what you mean. You're right. 
May it be a short one." He laughed and added,^"My 
error." 

After the wine arrived they discussed the matter 
thoroughly. 



"O RUSSET WITCH!" 247 

"We'll have to take a small apartment at first," he 
said, "and I believe, yes, by golly, I know there's a 
small one in the house where I live, a big room and a 
sort of a dressing-room-kitchenette and the use of a 
bath on the same floor." 

She clapped her hands happily, and he thought how 
pretty she was really, that is^the upper part of her face 
from the bridge of the nose down she was somewhat out 
of true. She continued enthusiastically: 

"And as soon as we can afford it we'll take a real swell 
apartment, with an elevator and a telephone girl." 

"And after that a place in the country and a car." 

"I can't imagine nothing more fun. Can you ?" 

Merlin fell silent a moment. He was thinking that 
he would have to give up his room, the fourth floor rear. 
Yet it mattered very little now. During the past year and 
a half in fact, from the very date of Caroline's visit to 
the Moonlight Quill he had never seen her. For a week 
after that visit her lights had failed to go on darkness 
brooded out into the areaway, seemed to grope blindly 
in at his expectant, uncurtained window. Then the 
lights had appeared at last, and instead of Caroline and 
her callers they showed a stodgy family a little man 
with a bristly mustache and a full-bosomed woman 
who spent her evenings patting her hips and rearrang- 
ing bric-a-brac. After two days of them Merlin had 
callously pulled down his shade. 

No, Merlin could think of nothing more fun than rising 
in the world with Olive. There would be a cottage in 
a suburb, a cottage painted blue, just one class below 
the sort of cottages that are of white stucco with a 
green roof. In the grass around the cottage would be 
rusty trowels and a broken green bench and a baby- 
carriage with a wicker body that sagged to the left. 
And around the grass and the baby-carriage and the 



248 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

cottage itself, around his whole world there would be 
the arms of Olive, a little stouter, the arms of her neo- 
Olivian period, when, as she walked, her cheeks would 
tremble up and down ever so slightly from too much 
face-massaging. He could hear her voice now, two 
spoons' length away: 

"I knew you were going to say this to-night, Merlin. 
I could see " 

She could see. Ah suddenly he wondered how much 
she could see. Could she see that the girl who had come 
in with a party of three men and sat down at the next 
table was Caroline? Ah, could she see that? Could 
she see that the men brought with them liquor far more 
potent than Pulpat's red ink condensed threefold . . . ? 

Merlin stared breathlessly, half-hearing through an 
auditory ether Olive's low, soft monologue, as like a per- 
sistent honey-bee she sucked sweetness from her mem- 
orable hour. Merlin was listening to the clinking of 
ice and the fine laughter of all four at some pleasantry 
and that laughter of Caroline's that he knew so well 
stirred him, lifted him, called his heart imperiously 
over to her table, whither it obediently went. He could 
see her quite plainly, and he fancied that in the last year 
and a half she had changed, if ever so slightly. Was 
it the light or were her cheeks a little thinner and her 
eyes less fresh, if more liquid, than of old? Yet the 
shadows were still purple in her russet hair; her mouth 
hinted yet of kisses, as did the profile that came some- 
times between his eyes and a row of books, when it was 
twilight in the bookshop where the crimson lamp pre- 
sided no more. 

And she had been drinking. The threefold flush in 
her cheeks was compounded of youth and wine and fine 
cosmetic that he could tell. She was making great 
amusement for the young man on her left and the portly 



"0 RUSSET WITCH!" 249 

person on her right, and even for the old fellow opposite 
her, for the latter from time to time uttered the shocked 
and mildly reproachful cackles of another generation. 
Merlin caught the words of a song she was intermittently 
singing 

"Just snap your fingers at care, 
Don't cross the bridge 'til you're there " 

The portly person filled her glass with chill amber. 
A waiter after several trips about the table, and many 
helpless glances at Caroline, who was maintaining a 
cheerful, futile questionnaire as to the succulence of this 
dish or that, managed to obtain the semblance of an 
order and hurried away. . . . 

Olive was speaking to Merlin 

"When, then?" she asked, her voice faintly shaded 
with disappointment. He realized that he had just 
answered no to some question she had asked him. 

"Oh, sometime." 

"Don't you care?" 

A rather pathetic poignancy in her question brought 
his eyes back to her. 

"As soon as possible, dear," he replied with sur- 
prising tenderness. "In two months in June." 

" So soon ? " Her delightful excitement quite took her 
breath away. 

"Oh, yes, I think we'd better say June. No use 
waiting." 

Olive began to pretend that two months was reaDy 
too short a time for her to make preparations. Wasn't 
he a bad boy! Wasn't he impatient, though! Well, 
she'd show him he mustn't be too quick with her. In- 
deed he was so sudden she didn't exactly know whether 
she ought to marry him at all. 



250" TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

"June," he repeated sternly. 

Olive sighed and smiled and drank her coffee, her 
little finger lifted high above the others in true refined 
fashion. A stray thought came to Merlin that he would 
like to buy five rings and throw at it. 

"By gosh!" he exclaimed aloud. Soon he would be 
putting rings on one of her fingers. 

His eyes swung sharply to the right. The party of 
four had become so riotous that the head-waiter had 
approached and spoken to them. Caroline was arguing 
with this head-waiter in a raised voice, a voice so clear 
and young that it seemed as though the whole restaurant 
would listen the whole restaurant except Olive Masters, 
self-absorbed in her new secret. 

"How do you do ? " Caroline was saying. "Probably 
the handsomest head-waiter in captivity. Too much 
noise ? Very unfortunate. Something'll have to be 
done about it. Gerald" she addressed the man on her 
right "the head-waiter says there's too much noise. 
Appeals to us to have it stopped. What'll I say ?" 

"Sh!" remonstrated Gerald, with laughter. "Sh!" 
and Merlin heard him add in an undertone: "All the 
bourgeoisie will be aroused. This is where the floor- 
walkers learn French." 

Caroline sat up straight in sudden alertness. 

"Where's a floorwalker?" she cried. "Show me a 
floorwalker." This seemed to amuse the party, for they 
all, including Caroline; burst into renewed laughter. 
The head-waiter, after a last conscientious but despair- 
ing admonition, became Gallic with his shoulders and 
retired into the background. 

Pulpat's, as every one knows, has the unvarying re- 
spectability of the table d'h6te. It is not a gay place 
in the conventional sense. One comes, drinks the red 
wine, talks perhaps a little more and a little louder than 



"0 RUSSET WITCH!" 251 

usual under the low, smoky ceilings, and then goes home. 
It closes up at nine-thirty, tight as a drum; the police- 
man is paid off and given an extra bottle of wine for the 
missis, the coat-room girl hands her tips to the collec- 
tor, and then darkness crushes the little round tables 
out of sight and life. But excitement was prepared for 
Pulpat's this evening excitement of no mean variety. 
A girl with russet, purple-shadowed hair mounted to 
her table-top and began to dance thereon. 

' ' Sacre nom de Dieu ! Come down off there ! " cried the 
head- waiter. "Stop that music!" 

But the musicians were already playing so loud that 
they could pretend not to hear his order; having once 
been young, they played louder and gayer than ever, and 
Caroline danced with grace and vivacity, her pink, 
filmy dress swirling about her, her agile arms playing in 
supple, tenuous gestures along the smoky air. 

A group of Frenchmen at a table near by broke into 
cries of applause, in which other parties joined in a 
moment the room was full of clapping and shouting; 
half the diners were on their feet, crowding up, and on 
the outskirts the hastily summoned proprietor was 
giving indistinct vocal evidences of his desire to put an 
end to this thing as quickly as possible. 

1 . . . Merlin!" cried Olive, awake, aroused at 
last; " she's such a wicked girl! Let's get out now!" 

The fascinated Merlin protested feebly that the check 
was not paid. 

"It's all right. Lay five dollars on the table. I 
despise that girl. I can't bear to look at her." She was 
on her feet now, tugging at Merlin's arm. 

Helplessly, listlessly, and then with what amounted 
to downright unwillingness, Merlin rose, followed Olive 
dumbly as she picked her way through the delirious 
clamor, now approaching its height and threatening to 



252 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

become a wild and memorable riot. Submissively he 
took his coat and stumbled up half a dozen steps into 
the moist April air outside, his ears still ringing with the 
sound of light feet on the table and of laughter all about 
and over the little world of the cafe. In silence they 
walked along toward Fifth Avenue and a bus. 

It was not until next day that she told him about the 
wedding how she had moved the date forward: it was 
much better that they should be married on the first of 
May. 

Ill 

And married they were, in a somewhat stuffy manner, 
under the chandelier of the flat where Olive lived with 
her mother. After marriage came elation, and then, 
gradually, the growth of weariness. Responsibility de- 
scended upon Merlin, the responsibility of making his 
thirty dollars a week and her twenty suffice to keep 
them respectably fat and to hide with decent garments 
the evidence that they were. 

It was decided after several weeks of disastrous and 
well-nigh humiliating experiments with restaurants that 
they would join the great army of the delicatessen-fed, 
so he took up his old way of life again, in that he stopped 
every evening at Braegdort's delicatessen and bought po- 
tatoes in salad, ham in slices, and sometimes even stuffed 
tomatoes in bursts of extravagance. 

Then he would trudge homeward, enter the dark hall- 
way, and climb three rickety flights of stairs covered 
by an ancient carpet of long obliterated design. The 
hall had an ancient smell of the vegetables of 1880, of 
the furniture polish in vogue when "Adam-and-Eve" 
Bryan ran against William McKinley, of portieres an 
ounce heavier with dust, from worn-out shoes and lint 
from dresses turned long since into patch-work quilts. 



"O RUSSET WITCH!" 253 

This smell would pursue him up the stairs, revivified 
and made poignant at each landing by the aura of con- 
temporary cooking, then, as he began the next flight, 
diminishing into the odor of the dead routine of dead 
generations. 

Eventually would occur the door of his room, which 
slipped open with indecent willingness and closed with 
almost a sniff upon his "Hello, dear! Got a treat for 
you to-night." 

Olive, who always rode home on the bus to "get a 
morsel of air," would be making the bed and hanging up 
things. At his call she would come up to him and give 
him a quick kiss with wide-open eyes, while he held her 
upright like a ladder, his hands on her two arms, as 
though she were a thing without equilibrium, and would, 
once he relinquished hold, fall stiffly backward to the 
floor. This is the kiss that comes in with the second 
year of marriage, succeeding the bridegroom kiss (which 
is rather stagey at best, say those who know about such 
things, and apt to be copied from passionate movies). 

Then came supper, and after that they went out for a 
walk, up two blocks and through Central Park, or some- 
times to a moving picture, which taught them patiently 
that they were the sort of people for whom life was or- 
dered, and that something very grand and brave and 
beautiful would soon happen to them if they were docile 
and obedient to their rightful superiors and kept away 
from pleasure. 

Such was their day for three years. Then change 
came into their lives: Olive had a baby, and as a result 
Merlin had a new influx of material resources. In the 
third week of Olive's confinement, after an hour of ner- 
vous rehearsing, he went into the office of Mr. Moon- 
light Quill and demanded an enormous increase in 
salary. 



254 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

"I've been here ten years," he said; "since I was 
nineteen. I've always tried to do my best in the in- 
terests of the business." 

Mr. Moonlight Quill said that he would think it over. 
Next morning he announced, to Merlin's great delight, 
that he was going to put into effect a project long pre- 
meditated he was going to retire from active work in 
the bookshop, confining himself to periodic visits and 
leaving Merlin as manager with a salary of fifty dollars 
a week and a one-tenth interest in the business. When 
the old man finished, Merlin's cheeks were glowing and 
his eyes full of tears. He seized his employer's hand and 
shook it violently, saying over and over again: 

"It's very nice of you, sir. It's very white of you. 
It's very, very nice of you." 

So after ten years of faithful work in the store he had 
won out at last. Looking back, he saw his own progress 
toward this hill of elation no longer as a sometimes 
sordid and always gray decade of worry and failing en- 
thusiasm and failing dreams, years when the moonlight 
had grown duller in the areaway and the youth had 
faded out of Olive's face, but as a glorious and trium- 
phant climb over obstacles which he had determinedly 
surmounted by unconquerable will-power. The opti- 
mistic self-delusion that had kept him from misery was 
seen now in the golden garments of stern resolution. 
Half a dozen times he had taken steps to leave the Moon- 
light Quill and soar upward, but through sheer faint- 
heartedness he had stayed on. Strangely enough he 
now thought that those were times when he had exerted 
tremendous persistence and had "determined" to fight 
it out where he was. 

At any rate, let us not for this moment begrudge 
Merlin his new and magnificent view of himself. He 
had arrived. At thirty he had reached a post of im- 



"0 RUSSET WITCH!" 255 

portance. He left the shop that evening fairly radiant, 
invested every penny in his pocket in the most tremen- 
dous feast that Braegdort's delicatessen offered, and 
staggered homeward with the great news and four gi- 
gantic paper bags. The fact that Olive was too sick to 
eat, that he made himself faintly but unmistakably ill 
by a struggle with four stuffed tomatoes, and that most 
of the food deteriorated rapidly in an iceless ice-box all 
next day did not mar the occasion. For the first time 
since the week of his marriage Merlin Grainger lived 
under a sky of unclouded tranquillity. 

The baby boy was christened Arthur, and life became 
dignified, significant, and, at length, centered. Merlin 
and Olive resigned themselves to a somewhat secondary 
place in their own cosmos; but what they lost in per- 
sonality they regained in a sort of primordial pride. 
The country house did not come, but a month in an 
Asbury Park boarding-house each summer filled the 
gap; and during Merlin's two weeks' holiday this excur- 
sion assumed the air of a really merry jaunt especially 
when, with the baby asleep in a wide room opening tech- 
nically on the sea, Merlin strolled with Olive along the 
thronged board-walk puffing at his cigar and trying to 
look like twenty thousand a year. 

With some alarm at the slowing up of the days and 
the accelerating of the years, Merlin became thirty-one, 
thirty-two then almost with a rush arrived at that 
age which, with all its washing and panning, can only 
muster a bare handful of the precious stuff of youth: he 
became thirty-five. And one day on Fifth Avenue he 
saw Caroline. 

It was Sunday, a radiant, flowerful Easter morning 
and the avenue was a pageant of lilies and cutaways 
and happy April-colored bonnets. Twelve o'clock: the 
great churches were letting out their people St. Simon's, 



256 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

St. Hilda's, the Church of the Epistles, opened their 
doors like wide mouths until the people pouring forth 
surely resembled happy laughter as they met and 
strolled and chattered, or else waved white bouquets at 
waiting chauffeurs. 

In front of the Church of the Epistles stood its twelve 
vestrymen, carrying out the time-honored custom of 
giving away Easter eggs full of face-powder to the 
church-going debutantes of the year. Around them 
delightedly danced the two thousand miraculously 
groomed children of the very rich, correctly cute and 
curled, shining like sparkling little jewels upon their 
mothers' fingers. Speaks the sentimentalist for the 
children of the poor ? Ah, but the children of the rich, 
laundered, sweet-smelling, complexioned of the country, 
and, above all, with soft, in-door voices. 

Little Arthur was five, child of the middle class. Un- 
distinguished, unnoticed, with a nose that forever 
marred what Grecian yearnings his features might have 
had, he held tightly to his mother's warm, sticky hand, 
and, with Merlin on his other side, moved upon the 
home-coming throng. At Fifty-third Street, where 
there were two churches, the congestion was at its thick- 
est, its richest. Their progress was of necessity retarded 
to such an extent that even little Arthur had not the 
slightest difficulty in keeping up. Then it was that 
Merlin perceived an open landaulet of deepest crimson, 
with handsome nickel trimmings, glide slowly up to 
the curb and come to a stop. In it sat Caroline. 

She was dressed in black, a tight-fitting gown trimmed 
with lavender, flowered at the waist with a corsage of 
orchids. Merlin started and then gazed at her fear- 
fully. For the first time in the eight years since his 
marriage he was encountering the girl again. But a girl 
no longer. Her figure was slim as ever or perhaps 



"0 RUSSET WITCH !" 257 

not quite, for a certain boyish swagger, a sort of in- 
solent adolescence, had gone the way of the first bloom- 
ing of her cheeks. But she was beautiful; dignity was 
there now, and the charming lines of a fortuitous nine- 
and- twenty; and she sat in the car with such perfect 
appropriateness and self-possession that it made him 
breathless to watch her. 

Suddenly she smiled the smile of old, bright as that 
very Easter and its flowers, mellower than ever yet 
somehow with not quite the radiance and infinite prom- 
ise of that first smile back there in the bookshop nine 
years before. It was a steelier smile, disillusioned 
and sad. 

But it was soft enough and smile enough to make a 
pair of young men in cutaway coats hurry over, to pull 
their high hats off their wetted, iridescent hair; to bring 
them, flustered and bowing, to the edge of her landaulet, 
where her lavender gloves gently touched their gray 
ones. And these two were presently joined by another, 
and then two more, until there was a rapidly swelling 
crowd around the landaulet. Merlin would hear a 
young man beside him say to his perhaps well-favored 
companion: 

" If you'll just pardon me a moment, there's some one 
I have to speak to. Walk right ahead. I'll catch up." 

Within three minutes every inch of the landaulet, 
front, back, and side, was occupied by a man a man 
trying to construct a sentence clever enough to find its 
way to Caroline through the stream of conversation. 
Luckily for Merlin a portion of little Arthur's clothing 
had chosen the opportunity to threaten a collapse, and 
Olive had hurriedly rushed him over against a building 
for some extemporaneous repair work, so Merlin was 
able to watch, unhindered, the salon in the street. 

The crowd swelled. A row formed in back of the first, 



258 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

two more behind that. In the midst, an orchid rising 
from a black bouquet, sat Caroline enthroned in her 
obliterated car, nodding and crying salutations and 
smiling with such true happiness that, of a sudden, a 
new relay of gentlemen had left their wives and consorts 
and were striding toward her. 

The crowd, now phalanx deep, began to be augmented 
by the merely curious; men of all ages who could not 
possibly have known Caroline jostled over and melted 
into the circle of ever-increasing diameter, until the lady 
in lavender was the centre of a vast impromptu audi- 
torium. 

All about her were faces clean-shaven, bewhiskered, 
old, young, ageless, and now, here and there, a woman. 
The mass was rapidly spreading to the opposite curb, 
and, as St. Anthony's around the corner let out its 
box-holders, it overflowed to the sidewalk and crushed 
up against the iron picket-fence of a millionaire across 
the street. The motors speeding along the avenue were 
compelled to stop, and in a jiffy were piled three, five, 
and six deep at the edge of the crowd ; auto-busses, top- 
heavy turtles of traffic, plunged into the jam, their 
passengers crowding to the edges of the roofs in wild 
excitement and peering down into the centre of the 
mass, which presently could hardly be seen from the 
mass's edge. 

The crush had become terrific. No fashionable audi- 
ence at a Yale-Princeton football game, no damp mob 
at a world's series, could be compared with the panoply 
that talked, stared, laughed, and honked about the 
lady in black and lavender. It was stupendous; it was 
terrible. A quarter mile down the block a half-frantic 
policeman called his precinct; on the same corner a 
frightened civilian crashed in the glass of a fire-alarm 
and sent in a wild paean for all the fire-engines of the 



"O RUSSET WITCH!" 259 

city; up in an apartment high in one of the tall buildings 
a hysterical old maid telephoned in turn for the prohibi- 
tion enforcement agent, the special deputies on Bolshev- 
ism, and the maternity ward of Bellevue Hospital. 

The noise increased. The first fire-engine arrived, 
filling the Sunday air with smoke, clanging and crying 
a brazen, metallic message down the high, resounding 
walls. In the notion that some terrible calamity had 
overtaken the city, two excited deacons ordered special 
services immediately and set tolling the great bells of St. 
Hilda's and St. Anthony's, presently joined by the jeal- 
ous gongs of St. Simon's and the Church of the Epistles. 
Even far off in the Hudson and the East River the sounds 
of the commotion were heard, and the ferry-boats and 
tugs and ocean liners set up sirens and whistles that 
sailed in melancholy cadence, now varied, now reiterated, 
across the whole diagonal width of the city from River- 
side Drive to the gray water-fronts of the lower East 
Side. . . . 

In the centre of her landaulet sat the lady in black 
and lavender, chatting pleasantly first with one, then 
with another of that fortunate few in cutaways who had 
found their way to speaking distance in the first rush. 
After a while she glanced around her and beside her 
with a look of growing annoyance. 

She yawned and asked the man nearest her if he 
couldn't run in somewhere and get her a glass of water. 
The man apologized in some embarrassment. He could 
not have moved hand or foot. He could not have 
scratched his own ear. . . . 

As the first blast of the river sirens keened along the 
air, Olive fastened the last safety-pin in little Arthur's 
rompers and looked up. Merlin saw her start, stiffen 
slowly like hardening stucco, and then give a little gasp 
of surprise and disapproval. 



260 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

"That woman," she cried suddenly. "Oh !" 
She flashed a glance at Merlin that mingled reproach 
and pain, and without another word gathered up little 
Arthur with one hand, grasped her husband by the 
other, and darted amazingly in a winding, bumping can- 
ter through the crowd. Somehow people gave way be- 
fore her; somehow she managed to retain her grasp on 
her son and husband; somehow she managed to emerge 
two blocks up, battered and dishevelled, into an open 
space, and, without slowing up her pace, darted down a 
side-street. Then at last, when uproar had died away 
into a dim and distant clamor, did she come to a walk 
and set little Arthur upon his feet. 

"And on Sunday, too ! Hasn't she disgraced herself 
enough?" This was her only comment. She said it 
to Arthur, as she seemed to address her remarks to Arthur 
throughout the remainder of the day. For some cu- 
rious and esoteric reason she had never once looked at 
her husband during the entire retreat 

IV 

The years between thirty-five and sixty-five revolve 
before the passive mind as one unexplained, confusing 
merry-go-round. True, they are a merry-go-round of 
ill-gaited and wind-broken horses, painted first in pastel 
colors, then in dull grays and browns, but perplexing 
and intolerably dizzy the thing is, as never were the 
merry-go-rounds of childhood or adolescence, as never, 
surely, were the certain-coursed, dynamic roller-coasters 
of youth. For most men and women these thirty years 
are taken up with a gradual withdrawal from life, a re- 
treat first from a front with many shelters, those myriad 
amusements and curiosities of youth, to a line with less, 
when we peel down our ambitions to one ambition, our 



"0 RUSSET WITCH!" 261 

recreations to one recreation, our friends to a few to 
whom we are anaesthetic; ending up at last in a soli- 
tary, desolate strong point that is not strong, where the 
shells now whistle abominably, now are but half-heard 
as, by turns frightened and tired, we sit waiting for 
death. 

At forty, then, Merlin was no different from himself 
at thirty-five; a larger paunch, a gray twinkling near 
his ears, a more certain lack of vivacity in his walk. 
His forty-five differed from his forty by a like margin, 
unless one mention a slight deafness in his left ear. 
But at fifty-five the process had become a chemical 
change of immense rapidity. Yearly he was more and 
more an "old man" to his family senile almost, so far 
as his wife was concerned. He was by this time com- 
plete owner of the bookshop. The mysterious Mr. 
Moonlight Quill, dead some five years and not survived 
by his wife, had deeded the whole stock and store to 
him, and there he still spent his days, conversant now 
by name with almost all that man has recorded for three 
thousand years, a human catalogue, an authority upon 
tooling and binding, upon folios and first editions, an 
accurate inventory of a thousand authors whom he could 
never have understood and had certainly never read. 

At sixty-five he distinctly doddered. He had assumed 
the melancholy habits of the aged so often portrayed 
by the second old man in standard Victorian comedies. 
He consumed vast warehouses of time searching for mis- 
laid spectacles. He "nagged" his wife and was nagged 
in turn. He told the same jokes three or four times a 
year at the family table, and gave his son weird, impossi- 
ble directions as to his conduct in life. Mentally and 
materially he was so entirely different from the Merlin 
Grainger of twenty-five that it seemed incongruous that 
he should bear the same name. 



262 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

He worked still in the bookshop with the assistance 
of a youth, whom, of course, he considered very idle, 
indeed, and a new young woman, Miss Gaffney. Miss 
McCracken, ancient and un venerable as himself, still 
kept the accounts. Young Arthur was gone into Wall 
Street to sell bonds, as all the young men seemed to be 
doing in that day. This, of course, was as it should be. 
Let old Merlin get what magic he could from his books 
the place of young King Arthur was in the counting- 
house. 

One afternoon at four when he had slipped noiselessly 
up to the front of the store on his soft-soled slippers, 
led by a newly formed habit, of which, to be fair, he 
was rather ashamed, of spying upon the young man 
clerk, he looked casually out of the front window, strain- 
ing his faded eyesight to reach the street. A limousine, 
large, portentous, impressive, had drawn to the curb, and 
the chauffeur, after dismounting and holding some sort 
of conversation with persons in the interior of the car, 
turned about and advanced in a bewildered fashion 
toward the entrance of the Moonlight Quill. He opened 
the door, shuffled in, and, glancing uncertainly at the old 
man in the skull-cap, addressed him in a thick, murky 
voice, as though his words came through a fog. 

"Do you do you sell additions?" 

Merlin nodded. 

"The arithmetic books are in the back of the store." 

The chauffeur took off his cap and scratched a close- 
cropped, fuzzy head. 

"Oh,naw. This I want's a detecatif story." He jerked 
a thumb back toward the limousine. "She seen it in 
the paper. Firs' addition." 

Merlin's interest quickened. Here was possibly a 
big sale. 

"Oh, editions. Yes, we've advertised some firsts, 



"O RUSSET WITCH!" 263 

but detective stories, I don't believe What was the 
title?" 

"I forget. About a crime." 

"About a crime. I have well, I have "The Crimes 
of the Borgias' full morocco, London 1769, beauti- 
fully- 

"Naw," interrupted the chauffeur, "this was one fella 
did this crime. She seen you had it for sale in the 
paper." He rejected several possible titles with the air 
of connoisseur. 

"'Silver Bones/" he announced suddenly out of a 
slight pause. 

"What ?" demanded Merlin, suspecting that the stiff- 
ness of his sinews were being commented on. 

"Silver Bones. That was the guy that done the 



crime." 



"Silver Bones?" 

"Silver Bones. Indian, maybe." 

Merlin stroked his grizzly cheeks. 

"Gees, Mister," went on the prospective purchaser, 
"if you wanna save me an awful bawlin' out jes' try an* 
think. The old lady goes wile if everything don't run 
smooth." 

But Merlin's musings on the subject of Silver Bones 
were as futile as his obliging search through the shelves, 
and five minutes later a very dejected charioteer wound 
his way back to his mistress. Through the glass Merlin 
could see the visible symbols of a tremendous uproar 
going on in the interior of the limousine. The chauffeur 
made wild, appealing gestures of his innocence, evidently, 
to no avail, for when he turned around and climbed 
back into the driver's seat his expression was not a little 
dejected. 

Then the door of the limousine opened and gave forth 
a pale and slender young man of about twenty, dressed 



264 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

in the attenuation of fashion and carrying a wisp of a 
cane. He entered the shop, walked past Merlin, and 
proceeded to take out a cigarette and light it. Merlin 
approached him. 

"Anything I can do for you, sir ?" 

"Old boy," said the youth coolly, "there are seveereal 
things. You can first let me smoke my ciggy in here out 
of sight of that old lady in the limousine, who happens 
to be my grandmother. Her knowledge as to whether 
I smoke it or not before my majority happens to be a 
matter of five thousand dollars to me. The second thing 
is that you should look up your first edition of the 
'Crime of Sylvester Bonnard' that you advertised in 
last Sunday's Times. My grandmother there happens 
to want to take it off your hands." 

Detecatif story ! Crime of somebody ! Silver Bones ! 
All was explained. With a faint deprecatory chuckle, 
as if to say that he would have enjoyed this had life 
put him in the habit of enjoying anything, Merlin dod- 
dered away to the back of his shop where his treasures 
were kept, to get this latest investment which he had 
picked up rather cheaply at the sale of a big collection. 

When he returned with it the young man was drawing 
on his cigarette and blowing out quantities of smoke 
with immense satisfaction. 

"My God !" he said. "She keeps me so close to her 
the entire day running idiotic errands that this happens 
to be my first puff in six hours. What's the world com- 
ing to, I ask you, when a feeble old lady in the milk-toast 
era can dictate to a man as to his personal vices? I 
happen to be unwilling to be so dictated to. Let's see 
the book." 

Merlin passed it to him tenderly and the young man, 
after opening it with a carelessness that gave a mo- 
mentary jump to the book-dealer's heart, ran through 
the pages with his thumb. 



"O RUSSET WITCH !" 265 

"No illustrations, eh?" he commented. "Well, old 
boy, what's it worth? Speak up! We're willing to 
give you a fair price, though why I don't know." 

"One hundred dollars," said Merlin with a frown. 

The young man gave a startled whistle. 

"Whew! Come on. You're not dealing with some- 
body from the cornbelt. I happen to be a city-bred 
man and my grandmother happens to be a city-bred 
woman, though I'll admit it'd take a special tax appro- 
priation to keep her in repair. We'll give you twenty- 
five dollars, and let me tell you that's liberal. We've 
got books in our attic, up in our attic with my old play- 
things, that were written before the old boy that wrote 
this was born." 

Merlin stiffened, expressing a rigid and meticulous 
horror. 

"Did your grandmother give you twenty-five dollars 
to buy this with?" 

"She did not. She gave me fifty, but she expects 
change. I know that old lady." 

"You tell her," said Merlin with dignity, "that she 
has missed a very great bargain." 

" Give you forty," urged the young man. " Come on 
now be reasonable and don't try to hold us up 

Merlin had wheeled around with the precious volume 
under his arm and was about to return it to its special 
drawer in his office when there was a sudden interrup- 
tion. With unheard-of magnificence the front door 
burst rather than swung open, and admitted into the 
dark interior a regal apparition in black silk and fur 
which bore rapidly down upon him. The cigarette 
leaped from the fingers of the urban young man and he 
gave breath to an inadvertent "Damn!" but it was 
upon Merlin that the entrance seemed to have the most 
remarkable and incongruous effect so strong an effect 
that the greatest treasure of his shop slipped from his 



2 66 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

hand and joined the cigarette on the floor. Before him 
stood Caroline. 

She was an old woman, an old woman remarkably 
preserved, unusually handsome, unusually erect, but 
still an old woman. Her hair was a soft, beautiful 
white, elaborately dressed and jewelled; her face, faintly 
rouged la grande dame, showed webs of wrinkles at 
the edges of her eyes and two deeper lines in the form of 
stanchions connected her nose with the corners of her 
mouth. Her eyes were dim, ill natured, and querulous. 

But it was Caroline without a doubt: Caroline's fea- 
tures though in decay; Caroline's figure, if brittle and 
stiff in movement; Caroline's manner, unmistakably 
compounded of a delightful insolence and an enviable 
self assurance; and, most of all, Caroline's voice, broken 
and shaky, yet with a ring in it that still could and did 
make chauffeurs want to drive laundry wagons and 
cause cigarettes to fall from the fingers of urban grand- 
sons. 

She stood and sniffed. Her eyes found the cigarette 
upon the floor. 

"What's that?" she cried. The words were not a 
question they were an entire litany of suspicion, accu- 
sation, confirmation, and decision. She tarried over 
them scarcely an instant. "Stand up !" she said to her 
grandson, "stand up and blow that nicotine out of your 
lungs I" 

The young man looked at her in trepidation. 

"Blow!" she commanded. 

He pursed his lips feebly and blew into the air. 

"Blow 1" she repeated, more peremptorily than before. 

He blew again, helplessly, ridiculously. 

"Do you realize," she went on briskly, "that you've 
forfeited five thousand dollars in five minutes ?" 

Merlin momentarily expected the young man to fall 



"O RUSSET WITCH!" 267 

pleading upon his knees, but such is the nobility of hu- 
man nature that he remained standing even blew 
again into the air, partly from nervousness, partly, no 
doubt, with some vague hope of reingratiating him- 
self. 

"Young ass!" cried Caroline. "Once more, just 
once more and you leave college and go to work." 

This threat had such an overwhelming effect upon 
the young man that he took on an even paler pallor than 
was natural to him. But Caroline was not through. 

"Do you think I don't know what you and your 
brothers, yes, and your asinine father too, think of me ? 
Well, I do. You think I'm senile. You think I'm 
soft. I'm not!" She struck herself with her fist as 
though to prove that she was a mass of muscle and 
sinew. "And I'll have more brains left when you've 
got me laid out in the drawing-room some sunny day 
than you and the rest of them were born with." 

"But Grandmother " 

"Be quiet. You, a thin little stick of a boy, who if it 
weren't for my money might have risen to be a journey- 
man barber out in the Bronx Let me see your hands. 
Ugh ! The hands of a barber you presume to be smart 
with me, who once had three counts and a bona-fide duke, 
not to mention half a dozen papal titles pursue me from 
the city of Rome to the city of New York." She paused, 
took breath. " Stand up ! Blow ! " 

The young man obediently blew. Simultaneously 
the door opened and an excited gentleman of middle age 
who wore a coat and hat trimmed with fur, and seemed, 
moreover, to be trimmed with the same sort of fur him- 
self on upper lip and chin, rushed into the store and up 
to Caroline. 

"Found you at last," he cried. "Been looking for 
you ail over town. Tried your house on the 'phone and 



268 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

your secretary told me he thought you'd gone to a book- 
shop called the Moonlight 

Caroline turned to him irritably. 

"Do I employ you for your reminiscences?" she 
snapped. "Are you my tutor or my broker ?" 

"Your broker," confessed the fur-trimmed man, taken 
somewhat aback. "I beg your pardon. I came about 
that phonograph stock. I can sell for a hundred and 
five." 

"Then do it." 

"Very well. I thought I'd better " 

"Go sell it. I'm talking to my grandson." 

"Very well. I " 

"Good-by." 

"Good-by, Madame." The fur-trimmed man made 
a slight bow and hurried in some confusion from the 
shop. 

"As for you," said Caroline, turning to her grandson, 
"you stay just where you are and be quiet." 

She turned to Merlin and included his entire length 
in a not unfriendly survey. Then she smiled and he 
found himself smiling too. In an instant they had both 
broken into a cracked but none the less spontaneous 
chuckle. She seized his arm and hurried him to the 
other side of the store. There they stopped, faced each 
other, and gave vent to another long fit of senile glee. 

"It's the only way," she gasped in a sort of triumphant 
malignity. "The only thing that keeps old folks like 
me happy is the sense that they can make other people 
step around. To be old and rich and have poor de- 
scendants is almost as much fun as to be young and 
beautiful and have ugly sisters." 

"Oh, yes," chuckled Merlin. "I know. I envy you." 

She nodded, blinking. 

"The last time I was in here, forty years ago," she 



"O RUSSET WITCH!" 269 

said, "you were a young man very anxious to kick up 
your heels." 

"I was," he confessed. 

"My visit must have meant a good deal to you." 

"You have all along," he exclaimed. "I thought I 
used to think at first that you were a real person 
human, I mean." 

She laughed. 

"Many men have thought me inhuman." 

"But now," continued Merlin excitedly, "I under- 
stand. Understanding is allowed to us old people 
after nothing much matters. I see now that on a cer- 
tain night when you danced upon a table-top you were 
nothing but my romantic yearning for a beautiful and 
perverse woman." 

Her old eyes were far away, her voice no more than 
the echo of a forgotten dream. 

"How I danced that night! I remember." 

"You were making an attempt at me. Olive's arms 
were closing about me and you warned me to be free and 
keep my measure of youth and irresponsibility. But 
it seemed like an effect gotten up at the last moment. 
It came too late." 

"You are very old," she said inscrutably. "I did not 
realize." 

"Also I have not forgotten what you did to me when 
I was thirty-five. You shook me with that traffic tie-up. 
It was a magnificent effort. The beauty and power you 
radiated ! You became personified even to my wife, and 
she feared you. For weeks I wanted to slip out of the 
house at dark and forget the stuffiness of life with music 
and cocktails and a girl to make me young. But then 
I no longer knew how." 

"And now you are so very old." 

With a sort of awe she moved back and away from him. 



270 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

"Yes, leave me!" he cried. "You are old also; the 
spirit withers with the skin. Have you come here only 
to tell me something I had best forget: that to be old 
and poor is perhaps more wretched than to be old and 
rich; to remind me that my son hurls my gray failure in 
my face ? " 

"Give me my book," she commanded harshly. "Be 
quick, old man!" 

Merlin looked at her once more and then patiently 
obeyed. He picked up the book and handed it to her, 
shaking his head when she offered him a bill. 

"Why go through the farce of paying me? Once 
you made me wreck these very premises." 

"I did," she said in anger, "and I'm glad. Perhaps 
there had been enough done to ruin me." 

She gave him a glance, half disdain, half ill-concealed 
uneasiness, and with a brisk word to her urban grandson 
moved toward the door. 

Then she was gone out of his shop) out of his life. 
The door clicked. With a sigh he turned and walked 
brokenly back toward the glass partition that enclosed 
the yellowed accounts of many years as well as the mel- 
lowed, wrinkled Miss McCracken. 

Merlin regarded her parched, cobwebbed face with 
an odd sort of pity. She, at any rate, had had less from 
life than he. No rebellious, romantic spirit cropping out 
unbidden had, in its memorable moments, given her life 
a zest and a glory. 

Then Miss McCracken looked up and spoke to him: 

"Still a spunky old piece, isn't she?" 

Merlin started. 

"Who?" 

"Old Alicia Dare. Mrs. Thomas Allerdyce she is 
now, of course; has been these thirty years." 

"What ? I don't understand you." Merlin sat down 
suddenly in his swivel chair; his eyes were wide. 



"0 RUSSET WITCH!" 271 

"Why, surely, Mr. Grainger, you can't tell me that 
you've forgotten her, when for ten years she was the 
most notorious character in New York. Why, one time 
when she was the corespondent in the Throckmorton 
divorce case she attracted so much attention on Fifth 
Avenue that there was a traffic tie-up. Didn't you read 
about it in the papers." 

"I never used to read the papers." His ancient brain 
was whirring. 

"Well, you can't have forgotten the time she came in 
here and ruined the business. Let me tell you I came 
near asking Mr. Moonlight Quill for my salary, and 
clearing out" 

"Do you mean that that you saw her ?" 

"Saw her! How could I help it with the racket 
that went on. Heaven knows Mr. Moonlight Quill 
didn't like it either, but of course he didn't say anything. 
He was daffy about her and she could twist him around 
her little finger. The second he opposed one of her whims 
she'd threaten to tell his wife on him. Served him right. 
The idea of that man falling for a pretty adventuress ! 
Of course he was never rich enough for her, even though 
the shop paid well in those days." 

"But when I saw her," stammered Merlin, "that is, 
when I thought I saw her, she lived with her mother." 

"Mother, trash!" said Miss McCracken indignantly. 
"She had a woman there she called 'Aunty' who was no 
more related to her than I am. Oh, she was a bad one 
but clever. Right after the Throckmorton divorce 
case she married Thomas AHerdyce, and made herself 
secure for life." 

" Who was she ? " cried Merlin. " For God's sake what 
was she a witch?" 

"Why, she was Alicia Dare, the dancer, of course. 
In those days you couldn't pick up a paper without find- 
ing her picture." 



272 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

Merlin sat very quiet, his brain suddenly fatigued 
and stilled. He was an old man now indeed, so old that 
it was impossible for him to dream of ever having been 
young, so old that the glamour was gone out of the world, 
passing not into the faces of children and into the per- 
sistent comforts of warmth and life, but passing out of 
the range of sight and feeling. He was never to smile 
again or to sit in a long reverie when spring evenings 
wafted the cries of children in at his window until grad- 
ually they became the friends of his boyhood out there, 
urging him to come and play before the last dark came 
down. He was too old now even for memories. 

That night he sat at supper with his wife and son, who 
had used him for their blind purposes. Olive said: 

' ' Don't sit there like a death's-head. Say something." 

"Let him sit quiet," growled Arthur. "If you en- 
courage him he'll tell us a story we've heard a hundred 
times before." 

Merlin went up-stairs very quietly at nine o'clock. 
When he was in his room and had closed the door tight 
he stood by it for a moment, his thin limbs trembling. 
He knew now that he had always been a fool. 

"O Russet Witch!" 

But it was too late. He had angered Providence by 
resisting too many temptations. There was nothing 
left but heaven, where he would meet only those who, 
like him, had wasted earth. 



UNCLASSIFIED MASTERPIECES 



THE LEES OF HAPPINESS 

IF you should look through the files of old magazines 
for the first years of the present century you would find, 
sandwiched in between the stories of Richard Harding 
Davis and Frank Norris and others long since dead, 
the work of one Jeffrey Curtain: a novel or two, and per- 
haps three or four dozen short stories. You could, if 
you were interested, follow them along until, say, 1908, 
when they suddenly disappeared. 

When you had read them all you would have been 
quite sure that here were no masterpieces here were 
passably amusing stories, a bit out of date now, but 
doubtless the sort that would then have whiled away a 
dreary half hour in a dental office. The man who did 
them was of good intelligence, talented, glib, probably 
young. In the samples of his work you found there 
would have been nothing to stir you to more than a faint 
interest in the whims of life no deep interior laughs, 
no sense of futility or hint of tragedy. 

After reading them you would yawn and put the num- 
ber back in the files, and perhaps, if you were in some 
library reading-room, you would decide that by way of 
variety you would look at a newspaper of the period 
and see whether the Japs had taken Port Arthur. But 
if by any chance the newspaper you had chosen was the 
right one and had crackled open at the theatrical page, 
your eyes would have been arrested and held, and for at 
least a minute you would have forgotten Port Arthur 
as quickly as you forgot Chateau Thierry. For you 
would, by this fortunate chance, be looking at the por- 
trait of an exquisite woman. 

275 



276 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

Those were the days of "Florodora" and of sextets, of 
pinched-in waists and blown-out sleeves, of almost 
bustles and absolute ballet skirts, but here, without 
doubt, disguised as she might be by the unaccustomed 
stiffness and old fashion of her costume, was a butterfly 
of butterflies. Here was the gayety of the period the 
soft wine of eyes, the songs that flurried hearts, the toasts 
and the bouquets, the dances and the dinners. Here 
was a Venus of the hansom cab, the Gibson girl in her 
glorious prime. Here was . . . 

. . . here was, you find by looking at the name be- 
neath, one Roxanne Milbank, who had been chorus girl 
and understudy in "The Daisy Chain," but who, by 
reason of an excellent performance when the star was 
indisposed, had gained a leading part. 

You would look again and wonder. Why you had 
never heard of her. Why did her name not linger in 
popular songs and vaudeville jokes and cigar bands, and 
the memory of that gay old uncle of yours along with 
Lillian Russell and Stella Mayhew and Anna Held? 
Roxanne Milbank whither had she gone ? What dark 
trap-door had opened suddenly and swallowed her up ? 
Her name was certainly not in last Sunday's supplement 
on that list of actresses married to English noblemen. 
No doubt she was dead poor beautiful young lady 
and quite forgotten. 

I am hoping too much. I am having you stumble on 
Jeffrey Curtain's stories and Roxanne Milbank's pic- 
ture. It would be incredible that you should find a 
newspaper item six months later, a single item two inches 
by four, which informed the public of the marriage, very 
quietly, of Miss Roxanne Milbank, who had been on tour 
with "The Daisy Chain," to Mr. Jeffrey Curtain, the 
popular author. "Mrs. Curtain," it added dispas- 
sionately, "will retire from the stage." 



THE LEES OF HAPPINESS 277 

It was a marriage of love. He was sufficiently spoiled 
to be charming; she was ingenuous enough to be ir- 
resistible. Like two floating logs they met in a head-on 
rush, caught, and sped along together. Yet had Jeffrey 
Curtain kept at scrivening for twoscore years he could 
not have put a quirk into one of his stories weirder than 
the quirk that came into his own life. Had Roxanne 
Milbank played three dozen parts and filled five thou- 
sand houses she could never have had a r61e with more 
happiness and more despair than were in the fate pre- 
pared for Roxanne Curtain. 

For a year they lived in hotels, travelled to California, 
to Alaska, to Florida, to Mexico, loved and quarrelled 
gently, and gloried in the golden triflings of his wit with 
her beauty they were young and gravely passionate; 
they demanded everything and then yielded everything 
again hi ecstasies of unselfishness and pride. She loved 
the swift tones of his voice and his frantic, unfounded 
jealousy. He loved her dark radiance, the white irises 
of her eyes, the warm, lustrous enthusiasm of her smile. 

"Don't you like her?" he would demand rather ex- 
citedly and shyly. " Isn't she wonderful ? Did you ever 

"Yes," they would answer, grinning. "She's a won- 
der. You're lucky." 

The year passed. They tired of hotels. They bought 
an old house and twenty acres near the town of Mar- 
lowe, half an hour from Chicago; bought a little car, 
and moved out riotously with a pioneering hallucination 
that would have confounded Balboa. 

"Your room will be here!" they cried in turn. 

And then: 

"And my room here !" 

"And the nursery here when we have children." 

"And we'll build a sleeping porch oh, next year." 



278 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

They moved out in April. In July Jeffrey's closest 
friend, Harry Cromwell, came to spend a week they 
met him at the end of the long lawn and hurried him 
proudly to the house. 

Harry was married also. His wife had had a baby 
some six months before and was still recuperating at her 
mothers in New York. Roxanne had gathered from 
Jeffrey that Harry's wife was not as attractive as Harry 
Jeffrey had met her once and considered her "shal- 
low." But Harry had been married nearly two years 
and was apparently happy, so Jeffrey guessed that she 
was probably all right . . . 

"I'm making biscuits," chattered Roxanne gravely. 
"Can your wife make biscuits? The cook is showing 
me how. I think every woman should know how to 
make biscuits. It sounds so utterly disarming. A 
woman who can make biscuits can surely do no 

"You'll have to come out here and live," said Jeffrey. 
"Get a place out in the country like us, for you and 
Kitty." 

"You don't know Kitty. She hates the country. She's 
got to have her theatres and vaudevilles." 

"Bring her out," repeated Jeffrey. "We'll have a 
colony. There's an awfully nice crowd here already. 
Bring her out ! " 

They were at the porch steps now and Roxanne made 
a brisk gesture toward a dilapidated structure on the 
right. 

"The garage," she announced. "It will also be Jef- 
frey's writing-room within the month. Meanwhile din- 
ner is at seven. Meanwhile to that I will mix a cocktail." 

The two men ascended to the second floor that is, 
they ascended half-way, for at the first landing Jeffrey 
dropped his guest's suitcase and in a cross between a 
query and a cry exclaimed: 



THE LEES OF HAPPINESS 279 

"For God's sake, Harry, how do you like her?" 

"We will go up-stairs," answered his guest, ''and we 
will shut the door." 

Half an hour later as they were sitting together in the 
library Roxanne reissued from the kitchen, bearing be- 
fore her a pan of biscuits. Jeffrey and Harry rose. 

"They're beautiful, dear," said the husband, intensely. 

"Exquisite," murmured Harry. 

Roxanne beamed. 

"Taste one. I couldn't bear to touch them before 
you'd seen them all and I can't bear to take them back 
until I find what they taste like." 

"Like manna, darling." 

Simultaneously the two men raised the biscuits to 
their lips, nibbled tentatively. Simultaneously they 
tried to change the subject. But Roxanne, undeceived, 
set down the pan and seized a biscuit. After a second 
her comment rang out with lugubrious finality: 

"Absolutely bum!" 

"Really- 

"Why, I didn't notice 

Roxanne roared. 

"Oh, I'm useless," she cried laughing. " Turn me out, 
Jeffrey I'm a parasite; I'm no good " 

Jeffrey put his arm around her. 

"Darling, I'll eat your biscuits." 

"They're beautiful, anyway," insisted Roxanne. 

"They're they're decorative," suggested Harry. 

Jeffrey took him up wildly. 

"That's the word. They're decorative; they're mas- 
terpieces. We'll use them." 

He rushed to the kitchen and returned with a hammer 
and a handful of nails. 

"We'll use them, by golly, Roxanne! We'll make a 
frieze out of them." 



2 8o TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

"Don't!" wailed Roxanne. "Our beautiful house." i 

"Never mind. We're going to have the library re- 
papered in October. Don't you remember ?" 

"Well " 

Bang! The first biscuit was impaled to the wall, 
where it quivered for a moment like a live thing. 

Bang! . . . 

When Roxanne returned with a second round of cock- 
tails the biscuits were in a perpendicular row, twelve of 
them, like a collection of primitive spear-heads. 

"Roxanne," exclaimed Jeffrey, "you're an artist! 
Cook? nonsense! You shall illustrate my books!" 

During dinner the twilight faltered into dusk, and later 
it was a starry dark outside, filled and permeated with 
the frail gorgeousness of Roxanne's white dress and her 
tremulous, low laugh. 

Such a little girl she is, thought Harry. Not as old 
as Kitty. 

He compared the two. Kitty nervous without be- 
ing sensitive, temperamental without temperament, 
a woman who seemed to flit and never light and Rox- 
anne, who was as young as spring night, and summed up 
in her own adolescent laughter. 

A good match for Jeffrey, he thought again. Two 
very young people, the sort who'll stay very young until 
they suddenly find themselves old. 

Harry thought these things between his constant 
thoughts about Kitty. He was depressed about Kitty. 
It seemed to him that she was well enough to come back 
to Chicago and bring his little son. He was thinking 
vaguely of Kitty when he said good-night to his friend's 
wife and his friend at the foot of the stairs. 

"You're our first real house guest," called Roxanne 
after him. "Aren't you thrilled and proud ?" 

When he was out of sight around the stair corner she 



THE LEES OF HAPPINESS 281 

turned to Jeffrey, who was standing beside her resting 

his hand on the end of the banister. 
"Are you tired, my dearest ?" 

Jeffrey rubbed the centre of his forehead with his fingers. 
"A little. How did you know ?" 
"Oh, how could I help knowing about you ?" 
"It's a headache," he said moodily. "Splitting. I'll 

take some aspirin." 
She reached over and snapped out the light, and with 

his arm tight about her waist they walked up the stairs 

together. 

n 

Harry's week passed. They drove about the dream- 
ing lanes or idled in cheerful inanity upon lake or lawn. 
In the evening Roxanne, sitting inside, played to them 
while the ashes whitened on the glowing ends of their 
cigars. Then came a telegram from Kitty saying that 
she wanted Harry to come East and get her, so Rox- 
anne and Jeffrey were left alone in that privacy of which 
they never seemed to tire. 

"Alone" thrilled them again. They wandered about 
the house, each feeling intimately the presence of the 
other; they sat on the same side of the table like honey- 
mooners; they were intensely absorbed, intensely happy. 

The town of Marlowe, though a comparatively old 
settlement, had only recently acquired a "society." 
Five or six years before, alarmed at the smoky swelling 
of Chicago, two or three young married couples, "bun- 
galow people, "had moved out; their friends had followed. 
The Jeffrey Curtains found an already formed "set" pre- 
pared to welcome them; a country club, ballroom, and 
golf links yawned for them, and there were bridge parties, 
and poker parties, and parties where they drank beer, 
and parties where they drank nothing at all. 



282 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

It was at a poker party that they found themselves a 
week after Harry's departure. There were two tables, 
and a good proportion of the young wives were smoking 
and shouting their bets, and being very daringly mannish 
for those days. 

Roxanne had left the game early and taken to per- 
ambulation; she wandered into the pantry and found 
herself some grape juice beer gave her a headache 
and then passed from table to table, looking over shoul- 
ders at the hands, keeping an eye on Jeffrey and being 
pleasantly unexcited and content. Jeffrey, with intense 
concentration, was raising a pile of chips of all colors, 
and Roxanne knew by the deepened wrinkle between his 
eyes that he was interested. She liked to see him in- 
terested in small things. 

She crossed over quietly and sat down on the arm of 
his chair. 

She sat there five minutes, listening to the sharp inter- 
mittent comments of the men and the chatter of the 
women, which rose from the table like soft smoke and 
yet scarcely hearing either. Then quite innocently she 
reached out her hand, intending to place it on Jeffrey's 
shoulder as it touched him he started of a sudden, 
gave a short grunt, and, sweeping back his arm furious- 
ly,, caught her a glancing blow on her elbow. 

There was a general gasp. Roxanne regained her 
balance, gave a little cry, and rose quickly to her feet. 
It had been the greatest shock of her life. This, from 
Jeffrey, the heart of kindness, of consideration this 
instinctively brutal gesture. 

The gasp became a silence. A dozen eyes were turned 
on Jeffrey, who Jooked up as though seeing Roxanne for 
the first time. An expression of bewilderment settled 
on his face. 

"Why Roxanne " he said haltingly. 



THE LEES OF HAPPINESS 283 

Into a dozen minds entered a quick suspicion, a rumor 
of scandal. Could it be that behind the scenes with 
this couple, apparently so in love, lurked some curious 
antipathy? Why else this, streak of fire across such a 
cloudless heaven ? 

" Jeffrey!" Roxanne's voice was pleading startled 
and horrified, she yet knew that it was a mistake. Not 
once did it occur to her to blame him or to resent it. 
Her word was a trembling supplication "Tell me, 
Jeffrey," it said, "tell Roxanne, your own Roxanne." 

"Why, Roxanne " began Jeffrey again. The be- 
wildered look changed to pain. He was clearly as 
startled as she. "I didn't intend that," he went on; 
"you startled me. You I felt as if some one were at- 
tacking me. I how why, how idiotic ! " 

"Jeffrey!" Again the word was a prayer, incense 
offered up to a high God through this new and unfathom- 
able darkness. 

They were both on their feet, they were saying good- 
by, faltering, apologizing, explaining. There was no 
attempt to pass it off easily. That way lay sacrilege. 
Jeffrey had not been feeling well, they said. He had 
become nervous. Back of both their minds was the 
unexplained horror of that blow the marvel that there 
had been for an instant something between them his 
anger and her fear and now to both a sorrow, mo- 
mentary, no doubt, but to be bridged at once, at once, 
while there was yet time. Was that swift water lashing 
under their feet the fierce glint of some uncharted 
chasm? 

Out in their car under the harvest moon he talked 
brokenly. It was just incomprehensible to him, he 
said. He had been thinking of the poker game ab- 
sorbed and the touch on his shoulder had seemed like 
an attack. An attack! He clung to that word, flung 



284 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

it up as a shield. He had hated what touched him. 
With the impact of his hand it had gone, that nervous- 
ness. That was all he knew. 

Both their eyes filled with tears and they whispered 
love there under the broad night as the serene streets of 
Marlowe sped by. Later, when they went to bed, they 
were quite calm. Jeffrey was to take a week off all 
work was simply to loll, and sleep, and go on long 
walks until this nervousness left him. When they had 
decided this safety settled down upon Roxanne. The 
pillows underhead became soft and friendly; the bed on 
which they lay seemed wide, and white, and sturdy be- 
neath the radiance that streamed in at the window. 

Five days later, in the first cool of late afternoon, 
Jeffrey picked up an oak chair and sent it crashing 
through his own front window. Then he lay down on 
the couch like a child, weeping piteously and begging 
to die. A blood clot the size of a marble had broken 
in his brain. 

m 

There is a sort of waking nightmare that sets in some- 
times when one has missed a sleep or two, a feeling that 
comes with extreme fatigue and a new sun, that the 
quality of the life around has changed. It is a fully 
articulate conviction that somehow the existence one 
is then leading is a branch shoot of life and is related 
to life only as a moving picture or a mirror that the 
people, and streets, and houses are only projections 
from a very dim and chaotic past. It was in such a 
state that Roxanne found herself during the first months 
of Jeffrey's illness. She slept only when she was ut- 
terly exhausted; she awoke under a cloud. The long, 
sober-voiced consultations, the faint aura of medicine 



THE LEES OF HAPPINESS 285 

in the halls, the sudden tiptoeing in a house that had 
echoed to many cheerful footsteps, and, most of all, 
Jeffrey's white face amid the pillows of the bed they 
had shared these things subdued her and made her in- 
delibly older. The doctors held out hope, but that was 
all. A long rest, they said, and quiet. So responsibil- 
ity came to Roxanne. It was she who paid the bills, 
pored over his bank-book, corresponded with his pub- 
lishers. She was in the kitchen constantly. She learned 
from the nurse how to prepare his meals and after the 
first month took complete charge of the sick-room. 
She had had to let the nurse go for reasons of economy. 
One of the two colored girls left at the same time. 
Roxanne was realizing that they had been living from 
short story to short story. 

The most frequent visitor was Harry Cromwell. He 
had been shocked and depressed by the news, and though 
his wife was now living with him in Chicago he found 
time to come out several times a month. Roxanne found 
his sympathy welcome there was some quality of suf- 
fering in the man, some inherent pitifulness that made 
her comfortable when he was near. Roxanne's nature 
had suddenly deepened. She felt sometimes that with 
Jeffrey she was losing her children also, those children 
that now most of all she needed and should have had. 

It was six months after Jeffrey's collapse and when the 
nightmare had faded, leaving not the old world but a 
new one, grayer and colder, that she went to see Harry's 
wife. Finding herself in Chicago with an extra hour 
before train tune, she decided out of courtesy to call. 

As she stepped inside the door she had an immediate 
impression that the apartment was very like some 
place she had seen before and almost instantly she 
remembered a round-the-corner bakery of her child- 
hood, a bakery full of rows and rows of pink frosted 



286 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

cakes a stuffy pink, pink as a food, pink triumphant, 
vulgar, and odious. 

And this apartment was like that. It was pink. It 
smelled pink ! 

Mrs. Cromwell, attired in a wrapper of pink and black, 
opened the door. Her hair was yellow, heightened, 
Roxanne imagined, by a dash of peroxide in the rinsing 
water every week. Her eyes were a thin waxen blue 
she was pretty and too consciously graceful. Her 
cordiality was strident and intimate, hostility melted 
so quickly to hospitality that it seemed they were both 
merely in the face and voice never touching nor 
touched by the deep core of egotism beneath. 

But to Roxanne these things were secondary; her 
eyes were caught and held in uncanny fascination by 
the wrapper. It was vilely unclean. From its lowest 
hem up four inches it was sheerly dirty with the blue 
dust of the floor; for the next three inches it was gray 
then it shaded off into its natural color, which was 
pink. It was dirty at the sleeves, too, and at the col- 
lar and when the woman turned to lead the way into 
the parlor, Roxanne was sure that her neck was dirty. 

A one-sided rattle of conversation began. Mrs. 
Cromwell became explicit about her likes and dislikes, 
her head, her stomach, her teeth, her apartment avoid- 
ing with a sort of insolent meticulousness any inclusion 
of Roxanne with life, as if presuming that Roxanne, 
having been dealt a blow, wished life to be carefully 
skirted. 

Roxanne smiled. That kimono! That neck I 

After five minutes a little boy toddled into the par- 
lor a dirty little boy clad in dirty pink rompers. His 
face was smudgy Roxanne wanted to take him into 
her lap and wipe his nose; other parts in the vicinity of 
his head needed attention, his tiny shoes were kicked 
out at the toes. Unspeakable ! 



THE LEES OF HAPPINESS 287 

"What a darling little boy!" exclaimed Roxanne, 
smiling radiantly. "Come here to me." 

Mrs. Cromwell looked coldly at her son. 

" He will get dirty. Look at that face ! " She held her 
head on one side and regarded it critically. 

"Isn't he a darling?" repeated Roxanne. 

"Look at his rompers," frowned Mrs. Cromwell. 

"He needs a change, don't you, George?" 

George stared at her curiously. To his mind the word 
rompers connotated a garment extraneously smeared, 
as this one. 

"I tried to make him look respectable this morning," 
complained Mrs. Cromwell as one whose patience had 
been sorely tried, "and I found he didn't have any 
more rompers so rather than have him go round with- 
out any I put him back in those and his face " 

"How many pairs has he?" Roxanne's voice was 
pleasantly curious. "How many feather fans have 
you ?" she might have asked. 

"Oh, " Mrs. Cromwell considered, wrinkling her 

pretty brow. "Five, I think. Plenty, I know." 

"You can get them for fifty cents a pair." 

Mrs. Cromwell's eyes showed surprise and the faint- 
est superiority. The price of rompers ! 

" Can you really ? I had no idea. He ought to have 
plenty, but I haven't had a minute all week to send the 
laundry out." Then, dismissing the subject as irrele- 
vant "I must show you some things " 

They rose and Roxanne followed her past an open 
bathroom door whose garment-littered floor showed in- 
deed that the laundry hadn't been sent out for some 
time, into another room that was, so to speak, the 
quintessence of pinkness. This was Mrs. Cromwell's 
room. 

Here the hostess opened a closet door and displayed 
before Roxanne's eyes an amazing collection of lingerie. 



288 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

There were dozens of filmy marvels of lace and silk, all 
clean, unruffled, seemingly not yet touched. On hangers 
beside them were three new evening dresses. 

"I have some beautiful things," said Mrs. Cromwell, 
"but not much of a chance to wear them. Harry doesn't 
care about going out." Spite crept into her voice. 
"He's perfectly content to let me play nursemaid and 
housekeeper all day and loving wife in the evening." 

Roxanne smiled again. 

"You've got some beautiful clothes here." 

"Yes, I have. Let me show you 

"Beautiful," repeated Roxanne, interrupting, "but 
I'll have to run if I'm going to catch my train." 

She felt that her hands were trembling. She wanted 
to put them on this woman and shake her shake her. 
She wanted her locked up somewhere and set to scrub- 
bing floors. 

"Beautiful," she repeated, "and I just came in for a 
moment." 

"Well, I'm sorry Harry isn't here." 

They moved toward the door. 

" and, oh," said Roxanne with an effort yet her 
voice was still gentle and her lips were smiling "I 
think it's Argile's where you can get those rompers. 
Good-by." 

It was not until she had reached the station and bought 
her ticket to Marlowe that Roxanne realized it was the 
first five minutes in six months that her mind had been 
off Jeffrey. 

IV 

A week later Harry appeared at Marlowe, arrived 
unexpectedly at five o'clock, and coming up the walk 
sank into a porch chair in a state of exhaustion. Rox- 
anne herself had had a busy day and was worn out. The 



THE LEES OF HAPPINESS 289 

doctors were coming at five-thirty, bringing a celebrated 
nerve specialist from New York. She was excited and 
thoroughly depressed, but Harry's eyes made her sit 
down beside him. 

"What's the matter?" 

"Nothing, Roxanne," he denied. "I came to see 
how Jeff was doing. Don't you bother about me." 

"Harry," insisted Roxanne, "there's something the 
matter." 

"Nothing," he repeated. "How's Jeff ?" 

Anxiety darkened her face. 

"He's a little worse, Harry. Doctor Jewett has 
come on from New York. They thought he could tell 
me something definite. He's going to try and find 
whether this paralysis has anything to do with the origi- 
nal blood dot." 

Harry rose. 

"Oh, I'm sorry," he said jerkily. "I didn't know 
you expected a consultation. I wouldn't have come. I 
thought I'd just rock on your porch for an hour " 

"Sit down," she commanded. 

Harry hesitated. 

"Sit down, Harry, dear boy." Her kindness flooded 
out now enveloped him. "I know there's something 
the matter. You're white as a sheet. I'm going to 
get you a cool bottle of beer." 

All at once he collapsed into his chair and covered his 
face with his hands. 

"I can't make her happy," he said slowly. "I've tried 
and I've tried. This morning we had some words about 
breakfast I'd been getting my breakfast down town 
and well, just after I went to the office she left the 
house, went East to her mother's with George and a 
suitcase full of lace underwear." 

"Harry!" 



2QO TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

"And I don't know " 

There was a crunch on the gravel, a car turning into 
the drive. Roxanne uttered a little cry. 

"It's Doctor Jewett." 

"Oh, I'll " 

"You'll wait, won't you?" she interrupted abstract- 
edly. He saw that his problem had already died on the 
troubled surface of her mind. 

There was an embarrassing minute of vague, elided 
introductions and then Harry followed the party inside 
and watched them disappear up the stairs. He went 
into the library and sat down on the big sofa. 

For an hour he watched the sun creep up the pat- 
terned folds of the chintz curtains. In the deep quiet 
a trapped wasp buzzing on the inside of the window 
pane assumed the proportions of a clamor. From time 
to time another buzzing drifted down from up-stairs, 
resembling several more larger wasps caught on larger 
window-panes. He heard low footfalls, the clink of 
bottles, the clamor of pouring water. 

What had he and Roxanne done that life should deal 
these crashing blows to them ? Up-stairs there was 
taking place a living inquest on the soul of his friend; 
he was sitting here in a quiet room listening to the plaint 
of a wasp, just as when he was a boy he had been com- 
pelled by a strict aunt to sit hour-long on a chair and 
atone for some misbehavior. But who had put him 
here? What ferocious aunt had leaned out of the sky 
to make him atone for what ? 

About Kitty he felt a great hopelessness. She was 
too expensive that was the irremediable difficulty. 
Suddenly he hated her. He wanted to throw her down 
and kick at her to tell her she was a cheat and a leech 
that she was dirty. Moreover, she must give him his 
boy. 



THE LEES OF HAPPINESS 291 

He rose and began pacing up and down the room. 
Simultaneously he heard some one begin walking along 
the hallway up-stairs in exact time with him. He found 
himself wondering if they would walk in time until the 
person reached the end of the hall. 

Kitty had gone to her mother. God help her, what 
a mother to go to! He tried to imagine the meeting: 
the abused wife collapsing upon the mother's breast. 
He could not. That Kitty was capable of any deep 
grief was unbelievable. He had gradually grown to 
think of her as something unapproachable and callous. 
She would get a divorce, of course, and eventually she 
would marry again. He began to consider this. Whom 
would she marry? He laughed bitterly, stopped; a 
picture flashed before him of Kitty's arms around 
some man whose face he could not see, of Kitty's lips 
pressed close to other lips in what was surely passion. 

" God ! " he cried aloud. " God ! God ! God ! " 

Then the pictures came thick and fast. The Kitty 
of this morning faded; the soiled kimono rolled up and 
disappeared; the pouts, and rages, and tears all were 
washed away. Again she was Kitty Carr Kitty Carr 
with yellow hair and great baby eyes. Ah, she had 
loved him, she had loved him. 

After a while he perceived that something was amiss 
with him, something that had nothing to do with Kitty 
or Jeff, something of a different genre. Amazingly it 
burst on him at last; he was hungry. Simple enough! 
He would go into the kitchen in a moment and ask the 
colored cook for a sandwich. After that he must go 
back to the city. 

He paused at the wall, jerked at something round, 
and, fingering it absently, put it to his mouth and tasted 
it as a baby tastes a bright toy. His teeth closed on it 
Ah! 



292 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

She'd left that damn kimono, that dirty pink kimono. 
She might have had the decency to take it with her, he 
thought. It would hang in the house like the corpse 
of their sick alliance. He would try to throw it away, 
but he would never be able to bring himself to move it. 
It would be like Kitty, soft and pliable, withal imper- 
vious. You couldn't move Kitty; you couldn't reach 
Kitty. There was nothing there to reach. He under- 
stood that perfectly he had understood it all along. 

He reached to the wall for another biscuit and with an 
effort pulled it out, nail and all. He carefully removed 
the nail from the centre, wondering idly if he had eaten 
the nail with the first biscuit. Preposterous ! He would 
have remembered it was a huge nail. He felt his 
stomach. He must be very hungry. He considered 
remembered yesterday he had had no dinner. It was 
the girl's day out and Kitty had lain in her room eating 
chocolate drops. She had said she felt "smothery" and 
couldn't bear having him near her. He had given George 
a bath and put him to bed, and then lain down on the 
couch intending to rest a minute before getting his own 
dinner. There he had fallen asleep and awakened about 
eleven, to find that there was nothing in the ice-box 
except a spoonful of potato salad. This he had eaten, 
together with some chocolate drops that he found on 
Kitty's bureau. This morning he had breakfasted hur- 
riedly down town before going to the office. But at 
noon, beginning to worry about Kitty, he had decided 
to go home and take her out to lunch. After that there 
had been the note on his pillow. The pile of lingerie 
in the closet was gone and she had left instructions for 
sending her trunk. 

He had never been so hungry, he thought. 

At five o'clock, when the visiting nurse tiptoed down- 
stairs, he was sitting on the sofa staring at the carpet. 

"Mr. Cromwell?" 



THE LEES OF HAPPINESS 293 

"Yes?" 

"Oh, Mrs. Curtain won't be able to see you at dinner. 
She's not well. She told me to tell you that the cook 
will fix you something and that there's a spare bedroom." 

"She's sick, you say?" 

"She's lying down in her room. The consultation 
is just over." 

"Did they did they decide anything?" 

"Yes," said the nurse softly. "Doctor Jewett says 
there's no hope. Mr. Curtain may live indefinitely, 
but he'll never see again or move again or think. He'll 
just breathe." 

"Just breathe?" 

"Yes." 

For the first tune the nurse noted that beside the writ- 
ing-desk where she remembered that she had seen a line 
of a dozen curious round objects she had vaguely imag- 
ined to be some exotic form of decoration, there was now 
only one. Where the others had been, there was now 
a series of little nail-holes. 

Harry followed her glance dazedly and then rose to 
his feet. 

"I don't believe I'll stay. I believe there's a train." 

She nodded. Harry picked up his hat. 

" Good-by," she said pleasantly. 

"Good-by," he answered, as though talking to him- 
self and, evidently moved by some involuntary necessity, 
he paused on his way to the door and she saw him pluck 
the last object from the wall and drop it into his pocket. 

Then he opened the screen door and, descending the 
porch steps, passed out of her sight. 



After a while the coat of clean white paint on the 
Jeffrey Curtain house made a definite compromise with 



294 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

the suns of many Julys and showed its good faith by 
turning gray. It scaled huge peelings of very brittle 
old paint leaned over backward like aged men practising 
grotesque gymnastics and finally dropped to a moldy 
death in the overgrown grass beneath. The paint on 
the front pillars became streaky; the white ball was 
knocked off the left-hand door-post; the green blinds 
darkened, then lost all pretense of color. 

It began to be a house that was avoided by the tender- 
minded some church bought a lot diagonally opposite 
for a graveyard, and this, combined with "the place 
where Mrs Curtain stays with that living corpse," was 
enough to throw a ghostly aura over that quarter of the 
road. Not that she was left alone. Men and women 
came to see her, met her down town, where she went to 
do her marketing, brought her home in their cars and 
came in for a moment to talk and to rest, in the glamour 
that still played in her smile. But men who did not 
know her no longer followed her with admiring glances 
in the street; a diaphanous veil had come down over her 
beauty, destroying its vividness, yet bringing neither 
wrinkles nor fat. 

She acquired a character in the village a group of 
little stories were told of her: how when the country was 
frozen over one winter so that no wagons nor automo- 
biles could travel, she taught herself to skate so that she 
could make quick time to the grocer and druggist, and 
not leave Jeffrey alone for long. It was said that every 
night since his paralysis she slept in a small bed beside 
his bed, holding his hand. 

Jeffrey Curtain was spoken of as though he were 
already dead. As the years dropped by those who had 
known him died or moved away there were but half 
a dozen of the old crowd who had drunk cocktails to- 
gether, called each other's wives by their first names, 



THE LEES OF HAPPINESS 295 

and thought that Jeff was about the wittiest and most 
talented fellow that Marlowe had ever known. Now, to 
the casual visitor, he was merely the reason that Mrs. 
Curtain excused herself sometimes and hurried up-stairs; 
he was a groan or a sharp cry borne to the silent parlor 
on the heavy air of a Sunday afternoon. 

He could not move; he was stone blind, dumb, and 
totally unconscious. All day he lay in his bed, except 
for a shift to his wheel-chair every morning while she 
straightened the room. His paralysis was creeping 
slowly toward his heart. At first for the first year 
Roxanne had received the faintest answering pres- 
sure sometimes when she held his hand then it had 
gone, ceased one evening and never come back, and 
through two nights Roxanne lay wide-eyed, staring into 
the dark and wondering what had gone, what fraction 
of his soul had taken flight, what last grain of compre- 
hension those shattered broken nerves still carried to 
the brain. 

After that hope died. Had it not been for her un- 
ceasing care the last spark would have gone long before. 
Every morning she shaved and bathed him, shifted him 
with her own hands from bed to chair and back to bed. 
She was in his room constantly, bearing medicine, 
straightening a pillow, talking to him almost as one talks 
to a nearly human dog, without hope of response or 
appreciation, but with the dim persuasion of habit, a 
prayer when faith has gone. 

Not a few people, one celebrated nerve specialist 
among them, gave her a plain impression that it was 
futile to exercise so much care, that if Jeffrey had been 
conscious he would have wished to die, that if his spirit 
were hovering in some wider air it would agree to no 
such sacrifice from her, it would fret only for the prison 
of its body to give it full release. 



296 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

"But you see," she replied, shaking her head gently, 
"when I married Jeffrey it was until I ceased to love 
him." 

"But," was protested, in effect, "you can't love that." 

"I can love what it once was. What else is there for 
me to do?" 

The specialist shrugged his shoulders and went away 
to say that Mrs. Curtain was a remarkable woman and 
just about as sweet as an angel but, he added, it was 
a terrible pity. 

"There must be some man, or a dozen, just crazy 
to take care of her. . . ." 

Casually there were. Here and there some one be- 
gan in hope and ended in reverence. There was no 
love in the woman except, strangely enough, for life, 
for the people in the world, from the tramp to whom 
she gave food she could ill afford to the butcher who sold 
her a cheap cut of steak across the meaty board. The 
other phase was sealed up somewhere in that expression- 
less mummy who lay with his face turned ever toward 
the light as mechanically as a compass needle and 
waited dumbly for the last wave to wash over his 
heart. 

After eleven years he died in the middle of a May 
night, when the scent of the syringa hung upon the win- 
dow-sill and a breeze wafted in the shrillings of the frogs 
and cicadas outside. Roxanne awoke at two, and real- 
ized with a start she was alone in the house at last. 

VI 

After that she sat on her weather-beaten porch through 
many afternoons, gazing down across the fields that 
undulated in a slow descent to the white and green town. 
She was wondering what she would do with her life. 



THE LEES OF HAPPINESS 297 

She was thirty-six handsome, strong, and free. The 
years had eaten up Jeffrey's insurance; she had reluc- 
tantly parted with the acres to right and left of her, 
and had even placed a small mortgage on the house. 

With her husband's death had come a great physical 
restlessness. She missed having to care for him in the 
morning, she missed her rush to town, and the brief 
and therefore accentuated neighborly meetings in the 
butcher's and grocer's; she missed the cooking for two, 
the preparation of delicate liquid food for him. One day, 
consumed with energy, she went out and spaded up the 
whole garden, a thing that had not been done for years. 

And she was alone at night in the room that had seen 
the glory of her marriage and then the pain. To meet 
Jeff again she went back in spirit to that wonderful year, 
that intense, passionate absorption and companionship, 
rather than looked forward to a problematical meeting 
hereafter; she awoke often to lie and wish for that pres- 
ence beside her inanimate yet breathing still Jeff. 

One afternoon six months after his death she was 
sitting on the porch, in a black dress which took away 
the faintest suggestion of plumpness from her figure. 
It was Indian summer golden brown all about her; 
a hush broken by the sighing of leaves; westward a 
four o'clock sun dripping streaks of red and yellow over 
a flaming sky. Most of the birds had gone only a 
sparrow that had built itself a nest on the cornice of a 
pillar kept up an intermittent cheeping varied by oc- 
casional fluttering sallies overhead. Roxanne moved 
her chair to where she could watch him and her mind 
idled drowsily on the bosom of the afternoon. 

Harry Cromwell was coming out from Chicago to 
dinner. Since his divorce over eight years before he 
had been a frequent visitor. They had kept up what 
amounted to a tradition between them: when he ar- 



298 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

rived they would go to look at Jeff; Harry would sit 
down on the edge of the bed and in a hearty voice ask: 
"Well, Jeff, old man, how do you feel to-day?" 
Roxanne, standing beside, would look intently at 
Jeff, dreaming that some shadowy recognition of this 
former friend had passed across that broken mind but 
the head, pale, carven, would only move slowly in its 
sole gesture toward the light as if something behind the 
blind eyes were groping for another light long since gone 
out. 

These visits stretched over eight years at Easter, 
Christmas, Thanksgiving, and on many a Sunday 
Harry had arrived, paid his call on Jeff, and then talked 
for a long while with Roxanne on the porch. He was 
devoted to her. He made no pretense of hiding, no 
attempt to deepen, this relation. She was his best 
friend as the mass of flesh on the bed there had been his 
best friend. She was peace, she was rest; she was the 
past. Of his own tragedy she alone knew. 

He had been at the funeral, but since then the com- 
pany for which he worked had shifted him to the East 
and only a business trip had brought him to the vicinity 
of Chicago. Roxanne had written him to come when he 
could after a night in the city he had caught a train 
out. 

They shook hands and he helped her move two rockers 
together. 

" How's George?" 

"He's fine, Roxanne. Seems to like school." 
"Of course it was the only thing to do, to send him." 
"Of course 

"You miss him horribly, Harry?" 
"Yes I do miss him. He's a funny boy 
He talked a lot about George. Roxanne was inter- 
ested. Harry must bring him out on his next vacation. 



THE LEES OF HAPPINESS 299 

She had only seen him once in her life a child in dirty 
rompers. 

She left him with the newspaper while she prepared 
dinner she had four chops to-night and some late vege- 
tables from her own garden. She put it all on and then 
called him, and sitting down together they continued 
their talk about George. 

"If I had a child" she would say. 

Afterward, Harry having given her what slender ad- 
vice he could about investments, they walked through 
the garden, pausing here and there to recognize what 
had once been a cement bench or where the tennis court 
had lain . . . 

"Do you remember 

Then they were off on a flood of reminiscences: the 
day they had taken all the snap-shots and Jeff had been 
photographed astride the calf; and the sketch Harry 
had made of Jeff and Roxanne, lying sprawled in the 
grass, their heads almost touching. There was to have 
been a covered lattice connecting the barn-studio with 
the house, so that Jeff could get there on wet days 
the lattice had been started, but nothing remained ex- 
cept a broken triangular piece that still adhered to the 
house and resembled a battered chicken coop. 

"And those mint juleps!" 

"And Jeff's note-book ! Do you remember how we'd 
laugh, Harry , when we'd get it out of his pocket and 
read aloud a page of material. And how frantic he 
used to get?" 

"Wild ! He was such a kid about his writing." 

They were both silent a moment, and then Harry 
said: 

"We were to have a place out here, too. Do you 
remember? We were to buy the adjoining twenty 
acres. And the parties we were going to have ! " 



300 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

Again there was a pause, broken this time by a low 
question from Roxanne. 

"Do you ever hear of her, Harry ?" 

"Why yes," he admitted placidly. "She's in Se- 
attle. She's married again to a man named Horton, a 
sort of lumber king. He's a great deal older than she 
is, I believe." 

"And she's behaving?" 

"Yes that is, I've heard so. She has everything, 
you see. Nothing much to do except dress up for this 
fellow at dinner-time." 

"I see." 

Without effort he changed the subject. 

"Are you going to keep the house?" 

"I think so," she said, nodding. "I've lived here so 
long, Harry, it'd seem terrible to move. I thought of 
trained nursing, but of course that'd mean leaving. 
I've about decided to be a boarding-house lady." 

"Live in one?" 

"No. Keep one. Is there such an anomaly as a 
boarding-house lady ? Anyway I'd have a negress and 
keep about eight people in the summer and two or three, 
if I can get them, in the winter. Of course I'll have to 
have the house repainted and gone over inside." 

Harry considered. 

"Roxanne, why naturally you know best what you 
can do, but it does seem a shock, Roxanne. You came 
here as a bride." 

"Perhaps," she said, "that's why I don't mind re- 
maining here as a boarding-house lady." 

"I remember a certain batch of biscuits." 

"Oh, those biscuits," she cried. "Still, from all I 
heard about the way you devoured them, they couldn't 
have been so bad. I was so low that day, yet somehow 
I laughed when the nurse told me about those biscuits." 



THE LEES OF HAPPINESS 301 

"I noticed that the twelve nail-holes are still in the 
library wall where Jeff drove them." 

"Yes." 

It was getting very dark now, a crispness settled in 
the air; a little gust of wind sent down a last spray of 
leaves. Roxanne shivered slightly. 

"We'd better go in." 

He looked at his watch. 

"It's late. I've got to be leaving. I go East to- 
morrow." 

"Must you?" 

They lingered for a moment just below the stoop, 
watching a moon that seemed full of snow float out of the 
distance where the lake lay. Summer was gone and now 
Indian summer. The grass was cold and there was no 
mist and no dew. After he left she would go in and 
light the gas and close the shutters, and he would go 
down the path and on to the village. To these two 
life had come quickly and gone, leaving not bitterness, 
but pity; not disillusion, but only pain. There was 
already enough moonlight when they shook hands for 
each to see the gathered kindness in the other's eyes. 



MR. ICKY 

THE QUINTESSENCE OF QUAINTNESS IN 
ONE ACT 

The Scene is the Exterior of a Cottage in West Issacshire 
on a desperately Arcadian afternoon in August. 
MR. ICKY, quaintly dressed in the cnttume of an Eliza- 
bethan peasant, is pottering and doddering among the 
pots and dods. He is an old man, well past the prime 
of life, no longer young. From the fact that there is 
a burr in his speech and that he has absent-mindedly 
put on his coat wrongside out, we surmise that he is 
either above or below the ordinary superficialities of 
life. 

Near him on the grass lies PETER, a little boy. PETER, of 
course, has his chin on his palm like the pictures of 
the young Sir Walter Raleigh. He has a complete 
set of features, including serious, sombre, even fu- 
nereal, gray eyes and radiates that alluring air of 
never having eaten food. This air can best be radiated 
during the afterglow of a beef dinner. He is looking at 
MR. ICKY, fascinated. 

Silence. . . . The song of birds. 

PETER : Often at night I sit at my window and regard 
the stars. Sometimes I think they're my stars. . . . 
(Gravely) I think I shall be a star some day. . . . 

MR. ICKY: (Whimsically) Yes, yes . . . yes. . . . 

PETER: I know them all: Venus, Mars, Neptune, 
Gloria Swanson. 

302 



MR. ICKY 303 

MR. ICKY: I don't take no stock in astronomy. . . . 
I've been thinking o' Lunnon, laddie. And calling to 
mind my daughter, who has gone for to be a type- 
writer. . . . (He sighs) 

PETER: I liked Ulsa, Mr. Icky; she was so plump, so 
round, so buxom. 

MR. ICKY: Not worth the paper she was padded with, 
laddie. (He stumbles over a pile of pots and dods.) 

PETER: How is your asthma, Mr. Icky? 

MR. ICKY: Worse, thank God ! . . . (Gloomily.) I'm 
a hundred years old. . . . I'm getting brittle. 

PETER: I suppose life has been pretty tame since you 
gave up petty arson. 

MR. ICKY: Yes . . . yes. . . . You see, Peter, lad- 
die, when I was fifty I reformed once in prison. 

PETER: You went wrong again ? 

MR. ICKY: Worse than that. The week before my 
term expired they insisted on transferring to me the 
glands of a healthy young prisoner they were executing. 

PETER: And it renovated you ? 

MR. ICKY: Renovated me ! It put the Old Nick back 
into me ! This young criminal was evidently a subur- 
ban burglar and a kleptomaniac. What was a little 
playful arson in comparison ! 

PETER: (Awed) How ghastly! Science is the bunk. 

MR. ICKY: (Sighing) I got him pretty well subdued 
now. 'Tisn't every one who has to tire out two sets 
o' glands in his lifetime. I wouldn't take another set 
for all the animal spirits in an orphan asylum. 

PETER: (Considering) I shouldn't think you'd object 
to a nice quiet old clergyman's set. 

MR. ICKY: Clergymen haven't got glands they have 
souls. 

(There is a low, sonorous honking off stage to indi- 
cate that a large motor-car has stopped in the 



304 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

immediate vicinity. Then a young man hand- 
somely attired in a dress-suit and a patent- 
leather silk hat comes onto the stage. He is 
very mundane. His contrast to the spirituality 
of the other two is observable as far back as the 
first row of the balcony. This is RODNEY 
DIVINE.) 
DIVINE: I am looking for Ulsa Icky. 

(MR. ICKY rises and stands tremulously between 

two dods.) 

MR. ICKY: My daughter is in Lunnon, 
DIVINE: She has left London. She is coming here. 
I have followed her. 

(He reaches into the little mother-of-pearl satchel 
that hangs at his side for cigarettes. He selects 
one and scratching a match touches it to the cigar- 
ette. The cigarette instantly lights.) 
DIVINE: I shall wait. 

(He waits. Several hours pass. There is no sound 
except an occasional cackle or hiss from the dods 
as they quarrel among themselves. Several songs 
can be introduced here or some card tricks by 
DIVINE or a tumbling act, as desired.) 
DIVINE: It's very quiet here. 
MR. ICKY: Yes, very quiet. . . . 

(Suddenly a loudly dressed girl appears; she is 
very worldly. It is ULSA ICKY. On her is one 
of those shapeless faces peculiar to early Italian 
painting.) 

ULSA: (In a coarse, worldly voice) Feyther! Here I 
am ! Ulsa did what ? 
MR. ICKY: (Tremulously) Ulsa, little Ulsa. 

(They embrace each other's torsos.) 
MR. ICKY: (Hopefully) You've come back to help 
with the ploughing. 



MR. ICKY 305 

ULSA: (Sullenly) No, feyther; ploughing's such a 
beyther. I'd reyther not. 

(Though her accent is broad, the content of her 
speech is sweet and clean.) 

DIVINE: (Conciliatingly) See here, Ulsa. Let's come 
to an understanding. 

(He advances toward her with the graceful, even 
stride that made him captain of the striding team 
at Cambridge.) 

ULSA: You still say it would be Jack ? 

MR. ICKY: What does she mean ? 

DIVINE: (Kindly) My dear, of course, it would be 
Jack. It couldn't be Frank. 

MR. ICKY: Frank who? 

ULSA: It would be Frank ! 

(Some risque joke can be introduced here.) 

MR. ICKY: (Whimsically) No good fighting ... no 
good fighting. . . . 

DIVINE: (Reaching out to stroke her arm with the 
powerful movement that made him stroke of the crew at 
Oxford) You'd better marry me. 

ULSA: (Scornfully) Why, they wouldn't let me in 
through the servants' entrance of your house. 

DIVINE: (Angrily) They wouldn't! Never fear you 
shall come in through the mistress' entrance. 

ULSA: Sir! 

DIVINE : (In confusion) I beg your pardon. You know 
what I mean ? 

MR. ICKY: (Aching with whimsey) You want to marry 
my little Ulsa ? . . . 

DIVINE : I do. 

MR. ICKY: Your record is clean. 

DIVINE: Excellent. I have the best constitution in 
the world 

ULSA: And the worst by-laws. 



3 o6 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

DIVINE: At Eton I was a member at Pop; at Rugby 
I belonged to Near-beer. As a younger son I was 
destined for the police force 

MR. ICKY: Skip that. . . . Have you money? . . . 

DIVINE: Wads of it. I should expect Ulsa to go 
down town in sections every morning in two Rolls- 
Royces. I have also a kiddy-car and a converted tank. 
I have seats at the opera 

ULSA: (Sullenly) I can't sleep except in a box. And 
I've heard that you were cashiered from your club. 

MR. ICKY: A cashier? . . . 

DIVINE: (Hanging his head) I was cashiered. 

ULSA: What for? 

DIVINE: (Almost inaudibly) I hid the polo balls one 
day for a joke. 

MR. ICKY: Is your mind in good shape ? 

DIVINE : (Gloomily) Fair. After all what is brilliance ? 
Merely the tact to sow when no one is looking and reap 
when every one is. 

MR. ICKY: Be careful. ... I will not marry my 
daughter to an epigram. . . . 

DIVINE: (More gloomily) I assure you I'm a mere 
platitude. I often descend to the level of an innate 
idea. 

ULSA: (Dully) None of what you're saying matters. 
I can't marry a man who thinks it would be Jack. Why 
Frank would 

DIVINE: (Interrupting) Nonsense! 

ULSA: (Emphatically) You're a fool! 

MR, ICKY: Tut tut! . . . One should not judge . . . 
Charity, my girl. What was it Nero said? a With 
malice toward none, with charity toward all 

PETER: That wasn't Nero. That was John Drink- 
water. 

MR. ICKY: Come! Who is this Frank? Who is 
this Jack ? 



MR. ICKY 307 

DIVINE: (Morosely) Gotch. 
ULSA: Dempsey. 

DIVINE: We were arguing that if they were deadly 
enemies and locked in a room together which one would 
come out alive. Now I claimed that Jack Dempsey 

would take one 

ULSA: (Angrily) Rot! He wouldn't have a 

DIVINE: (Quickly) You win. 
ULSA: Then I love you again. 

MR. ICKY: So I'm going to lose my little daugh- 
ter. . . . 
ULSA: You've still got a houseful of children. 

(CHARLES, ULSA'S brother, coming out of the cot- 
tage. He is dressed as if to go to sea ; a coil of 
rope is slung about his shoulder and an anchor is 
hanging from his neck.) 

CHARLES: (Not seeing them) I'm going to sea! I'm 
going to sea ! 

(His voice is triumphant.) 
MR. ICKY: (Sadly) You went to seed long ago. 
CHARLES: I've been reading "Conrad." 
PETER: (Dreamily) " Conrad," ah! "Two Years 
Before the Mast," by Henry James. 
CHARLES: What? 

PETER: Walter Pater's version of "Robinson Crusoe." 

CHARLES: (To his feyther) I can't stay here and rot 

with you. I want to live my life. I want to hunt eels. 

MR. ICKY: I will be here . . . when you come 

back. . . . 

CHARLES : (Contemptuously) Why, the worms are lick- 
ing their chops already when they hear your name. 

(// will be noticed that some of the characters have 

not spoken for some time. It will improve the 

technique if they can be rendering a spirited 

saxophone number.) 

MR. ICKY: (Mournfully) These vales, these hills, 



3 o8 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

these McConnick harvesters they mean nothing to 
my children. I understand. 

CHARLES: (More gently) Then you'll think of me 
kindly, feyther. To understand is to forgive. 

MR. ICKY: No ... no. ... We never forgive those 
we can understand. . . . We can only forgive those 
who wound us for no reason at all. . . . 

CHARLES: (Impatiently) I'm so beastly sick of your 
human nature line. And, anyway, I hate the hours 
around here. 

(Several dozen more of MR. ICKY'S children trip 
out of the house, trip over the grass, and trip 
over the pots and dods. They are muttering " We 
are going away" and "We are leaving you.") 
MR. ICKY: (His heart breaking) They're all deserting 
Me. I've been too kind. Spare the rod and spoil the 
fun. Oh, for the glands of a Bismarck. 

(There is a honking outside probably DIVINE'S 

chauffeur growing impatient for his master.) 
MR. ICKY: (In misery) They do not love the soil! 
They have been faithless to the Great Potato Tradition ! 
(He picks up a handful of soil passionately and rubs it 
n his bald head. Hair sprouts.) Oh, Wordsworth, 
Wordsworth, how true you spoke ! 

"No motion has she now, no force; 

She does not hear or feel ; 
RolVd round on earth's diurnal course 

In some one's Oldsmobile." 

(They all groan and shouting "Life" and "Jazz" 

move slowly toward the wings.) 

CHARLES: Back to the soil, yes ! I've been trying to 
turn my back to the soil for ten years ! 

ANOTHER CHILD: The farmers may be the backbone 
f the country, but who wants to be a backbone ? 



MR. ICKY 309 

ANOTHER CHILD : I care not who hoes the lettuce of my 
country if I can eat the salad ! 

ALL: Life! Psychic Research! Jazz! 

MR. ICKY: (Struggling with himself) I must be quaint. 
That's all there is. It's not life that counts, it's the 
quaintness you bring to it. ... 

ALL: We're going to slide down the Riviera. We've 
got tickets for Piccadilly Circus. Life ! Jazz ! 

MR. ICKY: Wait. Let me read to you from the Bible. 
Let me open it at random. One always finds something 
that bears on the situation. 

(He finds a Bible lying in one of the dods and open- 
ing it at random begins to read.) 

"Anab and Istemo and Anim, Goson and Olon and 
Gilo, eleven cities and their villages. Arab, and Ruma, 
and Esaau " 

CHARLES: (Cruelly) Buy ten more rings and try 
again. 

MR. ICKY: (Trying again) "How beautiful art thou 
my love, how beautiful art thou ! Thy eyes are dove's 
eyes, besides what is hid within. Thy hair is as flocks 
of goats which come up from Mount Galaad " Hm ! 
Rather a coarse passage. . . . 

(His children laugh at him rudely, shouting "Jazz!" 
and "All life is primarily suggestive/") 

MR. ICKY: (Despondently) It won't work to-day. 
(Hopefully) Maybe it's damp. (He feels it) Yes, it's 
damp. . . . There was water in the dod. ... It 
won't work. 

ALL: It's damp! It won't work! Jazz! 

ONE OF THE CHILDREN: Come, we must catch the 
six-thirty. 

(Any other cue may be inserted here.) 

MR. ICKY: Good-by. . . . 

(They all go out. MR. ICKY is left alone. He 



3 io TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

sighs and walking over to the cottage steps, lies 
down, and closes his eyes. 

Twilight has come down and the stage is flooded 
with such light as never was on land or sea. 
There is no sound except a sheep-herder's wife 
in the distance playing an aria from Beethoven's 
Tenth Symphony, on a mouth-organ. The great 
white and gray moths swoop down and light on 
the old man until he is completely covered by them. 
But he does not stir. 

The curtain goes up and down several times to de- 
note the lapse of several minutes. A good comedy 
effect can be obtained by having MR. ICKY cling 
to the curtain and go up and down with it. Fire- 
flies or fairies on wires can also be introduced at 
this point. 

Then PETER appears, a look of almost imbecile 
sweetness on his face. In his hand he clutches 
something and from time to time glances at it in 
a transport of ecstasy. After a struggle with 
himself he lays it on the old man's body and then 
quietly withdraws. 

The moths chatter among themselves and then scurry 
away in sudden fright. And as night deepens 
there still sparkles there, small, white and round, 
breathing a subtle perfume to the West Issac- 
shire breeze, PETER'S gift of love a moth-ball. 

(The play can end at this point or can go on indefi- 
nitely.) 



JEMINA, THE MOUNTAIN GIRL 

This don't pretend to be ''Literature." This is just a tale 
for red-blooded folks who want a story and not just a lot of " psy- 
chological" stuff or "analysis." Boy, you'll love it! Read it 
here, see it in the movies, play it on the phonograph, run it 
through the sewing-machine. 

A WILD THING 

It was night in the mountains of Kentucky. Wild 
hills rose on all sides. Swift mountain streams flowed 
rapidly up and down the mountains. 

Jemina Tantrum was down at the stream, brewing 
whiskey at the family still. 

She was a typical mountain girl. 

Her feet were bare. Her hands, large and powerful, 
hung down below her knees. Her face showed the 
ravages of work. Although but sixteen, she had for 
over a dozen years been supporting her aged pappy 
and mappy by brewing mountain whiskey. 

From time to time she would pause in her task, and, 
filling a dipper full of the pure, invigorating liquid, would 
drain it off then pursue her work with renewed vigor. 

She would place the rye in the vat, thresh it out with 
her feet and, in twenty minutes, the completed product 
would be turned out. 

A sudden cry made her pause in the act of draining a 
dipper and look up. 

" Hello," said a voice. It came from a man clad in 
hunting boots reaching to his neck, who had emerged 
from the wood. 

"Hi, thar," she answered sullenly. 

3" 



3i2 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

"Can you tell me the way to the Tantrums' cabin ?" 

"Are you uns from the settlements down thar ?" 

She pointed her hand down to the bottom of the hill, 
where Louisville lay. She had never been there; but 
once, before she was born, her great-grandfather, old 
Gore Tantrum, had gone into the settlements in the com- 
pany of two marshals, and had never come back. So 
the Tantrums, from generation to generation, had learned 
to dread civilization. 

The man was amused. He laughed a light tinkling 
laugh, the laugh of a Philadelphian. Something in the 
ring of it thrilled her. She drank off another dipper of 
whiskey. 

"Where is Mr. Tantrum, little girl?" he asked, not 
without kindness. 

She raised her foot and pointed her big toe toward 
the woods. 

"Thar in the cabing behind those thar pines. Old 
Tantrum air my old man." 

The man from the settlements thanked her and strode 
off. He was fairly vibrant with youth and personality. 
As he walked along he whistled and sang and turned 
handsprings and flapjacks, breathing in the fresh, cool 
air of the mountains. 

The air around the still was like wine. 

Jemina Tantrum watched him entranced. No one 
like him had ever come into her life before. 

She sat down on the grass and counted her toes. She 
counted eleven. She had learned arithmetic in the 
mountain school. 

A MOUNTAIN FEUD 

Ten years before a lady from the settlements had 
opened a school on the mountain. Jemina had no 



JEMINA, THE MOUNTAIN GIRL 313 

money, but she had paid her way in whiskey, bringing a 
pailful to school every morning and leaving it on Miss 
Lafarge's desk. Miss Lafarge had died of delirium tre- 
mens after a year's teaching, and so Jemina's education 
had stopped. 

Across the still stream still another still was standing, 
It was that of the Doldrums. The Doldrums and the 
Tantrums never exchanged calls. 

They hated each other. 

Fifty years before old Jem Doldrum and old Jem Tan- 
trum had quarrelled in the Tantrum cabin over a game 
of slapjack. Jem Doldrum had thrown the king of 
hearts in Jem Tantrum's face, and old Tantrum, en- 
raged, had felled the old Doldrum with the nine of dia- 
monds. Other Doldrums and Tantrums had joined in 
and the little cabin was soon filled with flying cards. 
Harstrum Doldrum, one of the younger Doldrums, lay 
stretched on the floor writhing in agony, the ace of hearts 
crammed down his throat. Jem Tantrum, standing in 
the doorway, ran through suit after suit, his face alight 
with fiendish hatred. Old Mappy Tantrum stood on 
the table wetting down the Doldrums with hot whiskey. 
Old Heck Doldrum, having finally run out of trumps, 
was backed out of the cabin, striking left and right with 
his tobacco pouch, and gathering around him the rest of 
his clan. Then they mounted their steers and galloped 
furiously home. 

That night old man Doldrum and his sons, vowing 
vengeance, had returned, put a ticktock on the Tan- 
trum window, stuck a pin in the doorbell, and beaten a 
retreat. 

A week later the Tantrums had put Cod Liver Oil 
in the Doldrums' still, and so, from year to year, the 
feud had continued, first one family being entirely 
wiped out, then the other. 



314 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 



THE BIRTH OF LOVE 

Every day little Jemina worked the still on her side of 
the stream, and Boscoe Doldrum worked the still on his 
side. 

Sometimes, with automatic inherited hatred, the 
feudists would throw whiskey at each other, and Jemina 
would come home smelling like a French table d'h6te. 

But now Jemina was too thoughtful to look across 
the stream. 

How wonderful the stranger had been and how oddly 
he was dressed! In her innocent way she had never 
believed that there were any civilized settlements at 
all, and she had put the belief in them down to the 
credulity of the mountain people. 

She turned to go up to the cabin, and, as she turned 
something struck her in the neck. It was a sponge, 
thrown by Boscoe Doldrum a sponge soaked in whis- 
key from his still on the other side of the stream. 

"Hi, thar, Boscoe Doldrum," she shouted in her deep 
bass voice. 

" Yo ! Jemina Tantrum . Gosh ding yoM ' ' he returned . 

She continued her way to the cabin. 

The stranger was talking to her father. Gold had 
been discovered on the Tantrum land, and the stranger, 
Edgar Edison, was trying to buy the land for a song. 
He was considering what song to offer. 

She sat upon her hands and watched him. 

He was wonderful. When he talked his lips moved. 

She sat upon the stove and watched him. 

Suddenly there came a blood-curdling scream. The 
Tantrums rushed to the windows. 

It was the Doldrums. 

They had hitched their steers to trees and concealed 



JEMINA, THE MOUNTAIN GIRL 315 

themselves behind the bushes and flowers, and soon a 
perfect rattle of stones and bricks beat against the win- 
dows, bending them inward. 

''Father! father!" shrieked Jemina. 

Her father took down his slingshot from his slingshot 
rack on the wall and ran his hand lovingly over the elas- 
tic band. He stepped to a loophole. Old Mappy Tan- 
trum stepped to the coalhole. 

A MOUNTAIN BATTLE 

The stranger was aroused at last. Furious to get at 
the Doldrums, he tried to escape from the house by crawl- 
ing up the chimney. Then he thought there might be 
a door under the bed, but Jemina told him there was not. 
He hunted for doors under the beds and sofas, but each 
time Jemina pulled him out and told him there were no 
doors there. Furious with anger, he beat upon the 
door and hollered at the Doldrums. They did not 
answer him, but kept up their fusillade of bricks and 
stones against the window. Old Pappy Tantrum knew 
that as soon as they were able to effect an aperture they 
would pour in and the fight would be over. 

Then old Heck Doldrum, foaming at the mouth and 
expectorating on the ground, left and right, led the 
attack. 

The terrific slingshots of Pappy Tantrum had not 
been without their effect. A master shot had disabled 
one Doldrum, and another Doldrum, shot almost inces- 
santly through the abdomen, fought feebly on. 

Nearer and nearer they approached the house. 

"We must fly." shouted the stranger to Jemina. "I 
will sacrifice myself and bear you away." 

"No," shouted Pappy Tantrum, his face begrimed. 
"You stay here and fit on. I will bar Jemina away. I 
will bar Mappy away. I will bar myself away." 



3 i 6 TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE 

The man from the settlements, pale and trembling 
with anger, turned to Ham Tantrum, who stood at the 
door throwing loophole after loophole at the advancing 
Doldrums. 

"Will you cover the retreat ?" 

But Ham said that he too had Tantrums to bear 
away, but that he would leave himself here to help the 
stranger cover the retreat, if he could think of a way of 
doing it. 

Soon smoke began to filter through the floor and ceil- 
ing. Shem Doldrum had come up and touched a match 
to old Japhet Tantrum's breath as he leaned from a 
loophole, and the alcoholic flames shot up on all sides. 

The whiskey in the bathtub caught fire. The walls 
began to fall in. 

Jemina and the man from the settlements looked at 
each other. 

"Jemina," he whispered. 

"Stranger," she answered. 

"We will die together," he said. "If we had lived I 
would have taken you to the city and married you. 
With your ability to hold liquor, your social success 
would have been assured." 

She caressed him idly for a moment, counting her toes 
softly to herself. The smoke grew thicker. Her left 
leg was on fire. 

She was a human alcohol lamp. 

Their lips met in one long kiss and then a wall fell on 
them and blotted them out. 

"As ONE." 

When the Doldrums burst through the ring of flame, 
they found them dead where they had fallen, their 
arms about each other. 



JEMINA, THE MOUNTAIN GIRL 317 

Old Jem Doldrum was moved. 

He took off his hat. 

He filled it with whiskey and drank it off. 

"They air dead," he said slowly, "they hankered 
after each other. The fit is over now. We must not 
part them." 

So they threw them together into the stream and the 
two splashes they made were as one. 



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