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work.

And on Mrs. James Williams's face was recorded a little library of the
world's best thoughts in three volumes. Volume No. 1 contained the
belief that James Williams was about the right sort of thing. Volume
No. 2 was an essay on the world, declaring it to be a very excellent
place. Volume No. 3 disclosed the belief that in occupying the highest
seat in a Rubberneck auto they were travelling the pace that passes
all understanding.

James Williams, you would have guessed, was about twenty-four. It will
gratify you to know that your estimate was so accurate. He was exactly
twenty-three years, eleven months and twenty-nine days old. He was well
built, active, strong-jawed, good-natured and rising. He was on his
wedding trip.

Dear kind fairy, please cut out those orders for money and 40 H. P.
touring cars and fame and a new growth of hair and the presidency of the
boat club. Instead of any of them turn backward - oh, turn backward and
give us just a teeny-weeny bit of our wedding trip over again. Just an
hour, dear fairy, so we can remember how the grass and poplar trees
looked, and the bow of those bonnet strings tied beneath her chin - even
if it was the hatpins that did the work. Can't do it? Very well; hurry
up with that touring car and the oil stock, then.

Just in front of Mrs. James Williams sat a girl in a loose tan jacket
and a straw hat adorned with grapes and roses. Only in dreams and
milliners' shops do we, alas! gather grapes and roses at one swipe.
This girl gazed with large blue eyes, credulous, when the megaphone man
roared his doctrine that millionaires were things about which we should
be concerned. Between blasts she resorted to Epictetian philosophy in
the form of pepsin chewing gum.

At this girl's right hand sat a young man about twenty-four. He
was well-built, active, strong-jawed and good-natured. But if his
description seems to follow that of James Williams, divest it of
anything Cloverdalian. This man belonged to hard streets and sharp
corners. He looked keenly about him, seeming to begrudge the asphalt
under the feet of those upon whom he looked down from his perch.

While the megaphone barks at a famous hostelry, let me whisper you
through the low-tuned cardiaphone to sit tight; for now things are about
to happen, and the great city will close over them again as over a scrap
of ticker tape floating down from the den of a Broad street bear.

The girl in the tan jacket twisted around to view the pilgrims on the
last seat. The other passengers she had absorbed; the seat behind her
was her Bluebeard's chamber.

Her eyes met those of Mrs. James Williams. Between two ticks of a watch
they exchanged their life's experiences, histories, hopes and fancies.
And all, mind you, with the eye, before two men could have decided
whether to draw steel or borrow a match.

The bride leaned forward low. She and the girl spoke rapidly together,
their tongues moving quickly like those of two serpents - a comparison
that is not meant to go further. Two smiles and a dozen nods closed
the conference.

And now in the broad, quiet avenue in front of the Rubberneck car a man
in dark clothes stood with uplifted hand. From the sidewalk another
hurried to join him.

The girl in the fruitful hat quickly seized her companion by the arm and
whispered in his ear. That young man exhibited proof of ability to act
promptly. Crouching low, he slid over the edge of the car, hung lightly
for an instant, and then disappeared. Half a dozen of the top-riders
observed his feat, wonderingly, but made no comment, deeming it prudent
not to express surprise at what might be the conventional manner of
alighting in this bewildering city. The truant passenger dodged a hansom
and then floated past, like a leaf on a stream between a furniture van
and a florist's delivery wagon.

The girl in the tan jacket turned again, and looked in the eyes of Mrs.
James Williams. Then she faced about and sat still while the Rubberneck
auto stopped at the flash of the badge under the coat of the
plainclothes man.

"What's eatin' you?" demanded the megaphonist, abandoning his
professional discourse for pure English.

"Keep her at anchor for a minute," ordered the officer. "There's a man
on board we want - a Philadelphia burglar called 'Pinky' McGuire. There
he is on the back seat. Look out for the side, Donovan."

Donovan went to the hind wheel and looked up at James Williams.

"Come down, old sport," he said, pleasantly. "We've got you. Back to
Sleepytown for yours. It ain't a bad idea, hidin' on a Rubberneck,
though. I'll remember that."

Softly through the megaphone came the advice of the conductor:

"Better step off, sir, and explain. The car must proceed on its tour."

James Williams belonged among the level heads. With necessary slowness
he picked his way through the passengers down to the steps at the front
of the car. His wife followed, but she first turned her eyes and saw the
escaped tourist glide from behind the furniture van and slip behind a
tree on the edge of the little park, not fifty feet away.

Descended to the ground, James Williams faced his captors with a smile.
He was thinking what a good story he would have to tell in Cloverdale
about having been mistaken for a burglar. The Rubberneck coach lingered,
out of respect for its patrons. What could be a more interesting sight
than this?

"My name is James Williams, of Cloverdale, Missouri," he said kindly, so
that they would not be too greatly mortified. "I have letters here that
will show - "

"You'll come with us, please," announced the plainclothes man. "'Pinky'
McGuire's description fits you like flannel washed in hot suds. A
detective saw you on the Rubberneck up at Central Park and 'phoned down
to take you in. Do your explaining at the station-house."

James Williams's wife - his bride of two weeks - looked him in the face
with a strange, soft radiance in her eyes and a flush on her cheeks,
looked him in the face and said:

"Go with 'em quietly, 'Pinky,' and maybe it'll be in your favour."

And then as the Glaring-at-Gotham car rolled away she turned and threw
a kiss - his wife threw a kiss - at some one high up on the seats of the
Rubberneck.

"Your girl gives you good advice, McGuire," said Donovan. "Come on,
now."

And then madness descended upon and occupied James Williams. He pushed
his hat far upon the back of his head.

"My wife seems to think I am a burglar," he said, recklessly. "I never
heard of her being crazy; therefore I must be. And if I'm crazy, they
can't do anything to me for killing you two fools in my madness."

Whereupon he resisted arrest so cheerfully and industriously that cops
had to be whistled for, and afterwards the reserves, to disperse a few
thousand delighted spectators.

At the station-house the desk sergeant asked for his name.

"McDoodle, the Pink, or Pinky the Brute, I forget which," was James
Williams's answer. "But you can bet I'm a burglar; don't leave that
out. And you might add that it took five of 'em to pluck the Pink. I'd
especially like to have that in the records."

In an hour came Mrs. James Williams, with Uncle Thomas, of Madison
Avenue, in a respect-compelling motor car and proofs of the hero's
innocence - for all the world like the third act of a drama backed by
an automobile mfg. co.

After the police had sternly reprimanded James Williams for imitating
a copyrighted burglar and given him as honourable a discharge as the
department was capable of, Mrs. Williams rearrested him and swept him
into an angle of the station-house. James Williams regarded her with
one eye. He always said that Donovan closed the other while somebody
was holding his good right hand. Never before had he given her a word
of reproach or of reproof.

"If you can explain," he began rather stiffly, "why you - "

"Dear," she interrupted, "listen. It was an hour's pain and trial to
you. I did it for her - I mean the girl who spoke to me on the coach. I
was so happy, Jim - so happy with you that I didn't dare to refuse that
happiness to another. Jim, they were married only this morning - those
two; and I wanted him to get away. While they were struggling with you
I saw him slip from behind his tree and hurry across the park. That's
all of it, dear - I had to do it."

Thus does one sister of the plain gold band know another who stands in
the enchanted light that shines but once and briefly for each one. By
rice and satin bows does mere man become aware of weddings. But bride
knoweth bride at the glance of an eye. And between them swiftly passes
comfort and meaning in a language that man and widows wot not of.





THE ROMANCE OF A BUSY BROKER


Pitcher, confidential clerk in the office of Harvey Maxwell, broker,
allowed a look of mild interest and surprise to visit his usually
expressionless countenance when his employer briskly entered at half
past nine in company with his young lady stenographer. With a snappy
"Good-morning, Pitcher," Maxwell dashed at his desk as though he were
intending to leap over it, and then plunged into the great heap of
letters and telegrams waiting there for him.

The young lady had been Maxwell's stenographer for a year. She was
beautiful in a way that was decidedly unstenographic. She forewent
the pomp of the alluring pompadour. She wore no chains, bracelets or
lockets. She had not the air of being about to accept an invitation to
luncheon. Her dress was grey and plain, but it fitted her figure with
fidelity and discretion. In her neat black turban hat was the gold-green
wing of a macaw. On this morning she was softly and shyly radiant. Her
eyes were dreamily bright, her cheeks genuine peachblow, her expression
a happy one, tinged with reminiscence.

Pitcher, still mildly curious, noticed a difference in her ways this
morning. Instead of going straight into the adjoining room, where her
desk was, she lingered, slightly irresolute, in the outer office. Once
she moved over by Maxwell's desk, near enough for him to be aware of
her presence.

The machine sitting at that desk was no longer a man; it was a busy New
York broker, moved by buzzing wheels and uncoiling springs.

"Well - what is it? Anything?" asked Maxwell sharply. His opened mail
lay like a bank of stage snow on his crowded desk. His keen grey eye,
impersonal and brusque, flashed upon her half impatiently.

"Nothing," answered the stenographer, moving away with a little smile.

"Mr. Pitcher," she said to the confidential clerk, "did Mr. Maxwell say
anything yesterday about engaging another stenographer?"

"He did," answered Pitcher. "He told me to get another one. I notified
the agency yesterday afternoon to send over a few samples this morning.
It's 9.45 o'clock, and not a single picture hat or piece of pineapple
chewing gum has showed up yet."

"I will do the work as usual, then," said the young lady, "until some
one comes to fill the place." And she went to her desk at once and hung
the black turban hat with the gold-green macaw wing in its accustomed
place.

He who has been denied the spectacle of a busy Manhattan broker during a
rush of business is handicapped for the profession of anthropology. The
poet sings of the "crowded hour of glorious life." The broker's hour is
not only crowded, but the minutes and seconds are hanging to all the
straps and packing both front and rear platforms.

And this day was Harvey Maxwell's busy day. The ticker began to reel
out jerkily its fitful coils of tape, the desk telephone had a chronic
attack of buzzing. Men began to throng into the office and call at him
over the railing, jovially, sharply, viciously, excitedly. Messenger
boys ran in and out with messages and telegrams. The clerks in the
office jumped about like sailors during a storm. Even Pitcher's face
relaxed into something resembling animation.

On the Exchange there were hurricanes and landslides and snowstorms and
glaciers and volcanoes, and those elemental disturbances were reproduced
in miniature in the broker's offices. Maxwell shoved his chair against
the wall and transacted business after the manner of a toe dancer. He
jumped from ticker to 'phone, from desk to door with the trained agility
of a harlequin.

In the midst of this growing and important stress the broker became
suddenly aware of a high-rolled fringe of golden hair under a nodding
canopy of velvet and ostrich tips, an imitation sealskin sacque and a
string of beads as large as hickory nuts, ending near the floor with
a silver heart. There was a self-possessed young lady connected with
these accessories; and Pitcher was there to construe her.

"Lady from the Stenographer's Agency to see about the position," said
Pitcher.

Maxwell turned half around, with his hands full of papers and ticker
tape.

"What position?" he asked, with a frown.

"Position of stenographer," said Pitcher. "You told me yesterday to call
them up and have one sent over this morning."

"You are losing your mind, Pitcher," said Maxwell. "Why should I
have given you any such instructions? Miss Leslie has given perfect
satisfaction during the year she has been here. The place is hers as
long as she chooses to retain it. There's no place open here, madam.
Countermand that order with the agency, Pitcher, and don't bring any
more of 'em in here."

The silver heart left the office, swinging and banging itself
independently against the office furniture as it indignantly departed.
Pitcher seized a moment to remark to the bookkeeper that the "old man"
seemed to get more absent-minded and forgetful every day of the world.

The rush and pace of business grew fiercer and faster. On the floor
they were pounding half a dozen stocks in which Maxwell's customers
were heavy investors. Orders to buy and sell were coming and going
as swift as the flight of swallows. Some of his own holdings were
imperilled, and the man was working like some high-geared, delicate,
strong machine - strung to full tension, going at full speed, accurate,
never hesitating, with the proper word and decision and act ready and
prompt as clockwork. Stocks and bonds, loans and mortgages, margins
and securities - here was a world of finance, and there was no room in
it for the human world or the world of nature.

When the luncheon hour drew near there came a slight lull in the uproar.

Maxwell stood by his desk with his hands full of telegrams and
memoranda, with a fountain pen over his right ear and his hair hanging
in disorderly strings over his forehead. His window was open, for the
beloved janitress Spring had turned on a little warmth through the
waking registers of the earth.

And through the window came a wandering - perhaps a lost - odour - a
delicate, sweet odour of lilac that fixed the broker for a moment
immovable. For this odour belonged to Miss Leslie; it was her own,
and hers only.

The odour brought her vividly, almost tangibly before him. The world
of finance dwindled suddenly to a speck. And she was in the next
room - twenty steps away.

"By George, I'll do it now," said Maxwell, half aloud. "I'll ask her
now. I wonder I didn't do it long ago."

He dashed into the inner office with the haste of a short trying to
cover. He charged upon the desk of the stenographer.

She looked up at him with a smile. A soft pink crept over her cheek, and
her eyes were kind and frank. Maxwell leaned one elbow on her desk. He
still clutched fluttering papers with both hands and the pen was above
his ear.

"Miss Leslie," he began hurriedly, "I have but a moment to spare. I want
to say something in that moment. Will you be my wife? I haven't had time
to make love to you in the ordinary way, but I really do love you. Talk
quick, please - those fellows are clubbing the stuffing out of Union
Pacific."

"Oh, what are you talking about?" exclaimed the young lady. She rose to
her feet and gazed upon him, round-eyed.

"Don't you understand?" said Maxwell, restively. "I want you to marry
me. I love you, Miss Leslie. I wanted to tell you, and I snatched a
minute when things had slackened up a bit. They're calling me for
the 'phone now. Tell 'em to wait a minute, Pitcher. Won't you, Miss
Leslie?"

The stenographer acted very queerly. At first she seemed overcome with
amazement; then tears flowed from her wondering eyes; and then she
smiled sunnily through them, and one of her arms slid tenderly about
the broker's neck.

"I know now," she said, softly. "It's this old business that has driven
everything else out of your head for the time. I was frightened at
first. Don't you remember, Harvey? We were married last evening at 8
o'clock in the Little Church Around the Corner."





AFTER TWENTY YEARS


The policeman on the beat moved up the avenue impressively. The
impressiveness was habitual and not for show, for spectators were few.
The time was barely 10 o'clock at night, but chilly gusts of wind with
a taste of rain in them had well nigh de-peopled the streets.

Trying doors as he went, twirling his club with many intricate and
artful movements, turning now and then to cast his watchful eye adown
the pacific thoroughfare, the officer, with his stalwart form and slight
swagger, made a fine picture of a guardian of the peace. The vicinity
was one that kept early hours. Now and then you might see the lights of
a cigar store or of an all-night lunch counter; but the majority of the
doors belonged to business places that had long since been closed.

When about midway of a certain block the policeman suddenly slowed his
walk. In the doorway of a darkened hardware store a man leaned, with an
unlighted cigar in his mouth. As the policeman walked up to him the man
spoke up quickly.

"It's all right, officer," he said, reassuringly. "I'm just waiting for
a friend. It's an appointment made twenty years ago. Sounds a little
funny to you, doesn't it? Well, I'll explain if you'd like to make
certain it's all straight. About that long ago there used to be a
restaurant where this store stands - 'Big Joe' Brady's restaurant."

"Until five years ago," said the policeman. "It was torn down then."

The man in the doorway struck a match and lit his cigar. The light
showed a pale, square-jawed face with keen eyes, and a little white
scar near his right eyebrow. His scarfpin was a large diamond, oddly
set.

"Twenty years ago to-night," said the man, "I dined here at 'Big Joe'
Brady's with Jimmy Wells, my best chum, and the finest chap in the
world. He and I were raised here in New York, just like two brothers,
together. I was eighteen and Jimmy was twenty. The next morning I was to
start for the West to make my fortune. You couldn't have dragged Jimmy
out of New York; he thought it was the only place on earth. Well, we
agreed that night that we would meet here again exactly twenty years
from that date and time, no matter what our conditions might be or from
what distance we might have to come. We figured that in twenty years
each of us ought to have our destiny worked out and our fortunes made,
whatever they were going to be."

"It sounds pretty interesting," said the policeman. "Rather a long time
between meets, though, it seems to me. Haven't you heard from your
friend since you left?"

"Well, yes, for a time we corresponded," said the other. "But after a
year or two we lost track of each other. You see, the West is a pretty
big proposition, and I kept hustling around over it pretty lively. But
I know Jimmy will meet me here if he's alive, for he always was the
truest, stanchest old chap in the world. He'll never forget. I came a
thousand miles to stand in this door to-night, and it's worth it if my
old partner turns up."

The waiting man pulled out a handsome watch, the lids of it set with
small diamonds.

"Three minutes to ten," he announced. "It was exactly ten o'clock when
we parted here at the restaurant door."

"Did pretty well out West, didn't you?" asked the policeman.

"You bet! I hope Jimmy has done half as well. He was a kind of plodder,
though, good fellow as he was. I've had to compete with some of the
sharpest wits going to get my pile. A man gets in a groove in New York.
It takes the West to put a razor-edge on him."

The policeman twirled his club and took a step or two.

"I'll be on my way. Hope your friend comes around all right. Going to
call time on him sharp?"

"I should say not!" said the other. "I'll give him half an hour at
least. If Jimmy is alive on earth he'll be here by that time. So long,
officer."

"Good-night, sir," said the policeman, passing on along his beat, trying
doors as he went.

There was now a fine, cold drizzle falling, and the wind had risen from
its uncertain puffs into a steady blow. The few foot passengers astir
in that quarter hurried dismally and silently along with coat collars
turned high and pocketed hands. And in the door of the hardware store
the man who had come a thousand miles to fill an appointment, uncertain
almost to absurdity, with the friend of his youth, smoked his cigar and
waited.

About twenty minutes he waited, and then a tall man in a long overcoat,
with collar turned up to his ears, hurried across from the opposite side
of the street. He went directly to the waiting man.

"Is that you, Bob?" he asked, doubtfully.

"Is that you, Jimmy Wells?" cried the man in the door.

"Bless my heart!" exclaimed the new arrival, grasping both the other's
hands with his own. "It's Bob, sure as fate. I was certain I'd find you
here if you were still in existence. Well, well, well! - twenty years is
a long time. The old restaurant's gone, Bob; I wish it had lasted, so we
could have had another dinner there. How has the West treated you, old
man?"

"Bully; it has given me everything I asked it for. You've changed lots,
Jimmy. I never thought you were so tall by two or three inches."

"Oh, I grew a bit after I was twenty."

"Doing well in New York, Jimmy?"

"Moderately. I have a position in one of the city departments. Come on,
Bob; we'll go around to a place I know of, and have a good long talk
about old times."

The two men started up the street, arm in arm. The man from the West,
his egotism enlarged by success, was beginning to outline the history
of his career. The other, submerged in his overcoat, listened with
interest.

At the corner stood a drug store, brilliant with electric lights. When
they came into this glare each of them turned simultaneously to gaze
upon the other's face.

The man from the West stopped suddenly and released his arm.

"You're not Jimmy Wells," he snapped. "Twenty years is a long time, but
not long enough to change a man's nose from a Roman to a pug."

"It sometimes changes a good man into a bad one," said the tall man.
"You've been under arrest for ten minutes, 'Silky' Bob. Chicago thinks
you may have dropped over our way and wires us she wants to have a chat
with you. Going quietly, are you? That's sensible. Now, before we go on
to the station here's a note I was asked to hand you. You may read it
here at the window. It's from Patrolman Wells."

The man from the West unfolded the little piece of paper handed him. His
hand was steady when he began to read, but it trembled a little by the
time he had finished. The note was rather short.

"_Bob: I was at the appointed place on time. When you struck the
match to light your cigar I saw it was the face of the man wanted in
Chicago. Somehow I couldn't do it myself, so I went around and got
a plain clothes man to do the job. JIMMY._"





LOST ON DRESS PARADE


Mr. Towers chandler was pressing his evening suit in his hall bedroom.
One iron was heating on a small gas stove; the other was being pushed
vigorously back and forth to make the desirable crease that would be
seen later on extending in straight lines from mr. Chandler's patent
leather shoes to the edge of his low-cut vest. So much of the hero's
toilet may be intrusted to our confidence. The remainder may be guessed
by those whom genteel poverty has driven to ignoble expedient. Our next
view of him shall be as he descends the steps of his lodging-house
immaculately and correctly clothed; calm, assured, handsome - in
appearance the typical new york young clubman setting out, slightly
bored, to inaugurate the pleasures of the evening.

Chandler's honorarium was $18 per week. He was employed in the office of
an architect. He was twenty-two years old; he considered architecture
to be truly an art; and he honestly believed - though he would not have
dared to admit it in New York - that the Flatiron Building was inferior
in design to the great cathedral in Milan.


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