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boarding-house.

"What's up now, Judy?" asked Mr. McCaskey.

"'Tis Missis Murphy's voice," said Mrs. McCaskey, harking. "She says
she's after finding little Mike asleep behind the roll of old linoleum
under the bed in her room."

Mr. McCaskey laughed loudly.

"That's yer Phelan," he shouted, sardonically. "Divil a bit would a Pat
have done that trick. If the bye we never had is strayed and stole, by
the powers, call him Phelan, and see him hide out under the bed like a
mangy pup."

Mrs. McCaskey arose heavily, and went toward the dish closet, with the
corners of her mouth drawn down.

Policeman Cleary came back around the corner as the crowd dispersed.
Surprised, he upturned an ear toward the McCaskey apartment, where the
crash of irons and chinaware and the ring of hurled kitchen utensils
seemed as loud as before. Policeman Cleary took out his timepiece.

"By the deported snakes!" he exclaimed, "Jawn McCaskey and his lady have
been fightin' for an hour and a quarter by the watch. The missis could
give him forty pounds weight. Strength to his arm."

Policeman Cleary strolled back around the corner.

Old man Denny folded his paper and hurried up the steps just as Mrs.
Murphy was about to lock the door for the night.





THE SKYLIGHT ROOM


First Mrs. Parker would show you the double parlours. You would not dare
to interrupt her description of their advantages and of the merits of
the gentleman who had occupied them for eight years. Then you would
manage to stammer forth the confession that you were neither a doctor
nor a dentist. Mrs. Parker's manner of receiving the admission was such
that you could never afterward entertain the same feeling toward your
parents, who had neglected to train you up in one of the professions
that fitted Mrs. Parker's parlours.

Next you ascended one flight of stairs and looked at the
second-floor-back at $8. Convinced by her second-floor manner that it
was worth the $12 that Mr. Toosenberry always paid for it until he left
to take charge of his brother's orange plantation in Florida near Palm
Beach, where Mrs. McIntyre always spent the winters that had the double
front room with private bath, you managed to babble that you wanted
something still cheaper.

If you survived Mrs. Parker's scorn, you were taken to look at Mr.
Skidder's large hall room on the third floor. Mr. Skidder's room was not
vacant. He wrote plays and smoked cigarettes in it all day long. But
every room-hunter was made to visit his room to admire the lambrequins.
After each visit, Mr. Skidder, from the fright caused by possible
eviction, would pay something on his rent.

Then - oh, then - if you still stood on one foot, with your hot hand
clutching the three moist dollars in your pocket, and hoarsely
proclaimed your hideous and culpable poverty, nevermore would Mrs.
Parker be cicerone of yours. She would honk loudly the word "Clara," she
would show you her back, and march downstairs. Then Clara, the coloured
maid, would escort you up the carpeted ladder that served for the fourth
flight, and show you the Skylight Room. It occupied 7x8 feet of floor
space at the middle of the hall. On each side of it was a dark lumber
closet or storeroom.

In it was an iron cot, a washstand and a chair. A shelf was the dresser.
Its four bare walls seemed to close in upon you like the sides of a
coffin. Your hand crept to your throat, you gasped, you looked up as
from a well - and breathed once more. Through the glass of the little
skylight you saw a square of blue infinity.

"Two dollars, suh," Clara would say in her half-contemptuous,
half-Tuskegeenial tones.

One day Miss Leeson came hunting for a room. She carried a typewriter
made to be lugged around by a much larger lady. She was a very little
girl, with eyes and hair that had kept on growing after she had stopped
and that always looked as if they were saying: "Goodness me! Why didn't
you keep up with us?"

Mrs. Parker showed her the double parlours. "In this closet," she said,
"one could keep a skeleton or anaesthetic or coal - "

"But I am neither a doctor nor a dentist," said Miss Leeson, with a
shiver.

Mrs. Parker gave her the incredulous, pitying, sneering, icy stare that
she kept for those who failed to qualify as doctors or dentists, and led
the way to the second floor back.

"Eight dollars?" said Miss Leeson. "Dear me! I'm not Hetty if I do look
green. I'm just a poor little working girl. Show me something higher and
lower."

Mr. Skidder jumped and strewed the floor with cigarette stubs at the rap
on his door.

"Excuse me, Mr. Skidder," said Mrs. Parker, with her demon's smile at
his pale looks. "I didn't know you were in. I asked the lady to have a
look at your lambrequins."

"They're too lovely for anything," said Miss Leeson, smiling in exactly
the way the angels do.

After they had gone Mr. Skidder got very busy erasing the tall,
black-haired heroine from his latest (unproduced) play and inserting a
small, roguish one with heavy, bright hair and vivacious features.

"Anna Held'll jump at it," said Mr. Skidder to himself, putting his feet
up against the lambrequins and disappearing in a cloud of smoke like an
aerial cuttlefish.

Presently the tocsin call of "Clara!" sounded to the world the state
of Miss Leeson's purse. A dark goblin seized her, mounted a Stygian
stairway, thrust her into a vault with a glimmer of light in its top
and muttered the menacing and cabalistic words "Two dollars!"

"I'll take it!" sighed Miss Leeson, sinking down upon the squeaky iron
bed.

Every day Miss Leeson went out to work. At night she brought home papers
with handwriting on them and made copies with her typewriter. Sometimes
she had no work at night, and then she would sit on the steps of the
high stoop with the other roomers. Miss Leeson was not intended for
a sky-light room when the plans were drawn for her creation. She was
gay-hearted and full of tender, whimsical fancies. Once she let Mr.
Skidder read to her three acts of his great (unpublished) comedy, "It's
No Kid; or, The Heir of the Subway."

There was rejoicing among the gentlemen roomers whenever Miss Leeson had
time to sit on the steps for an hour or two. But Miss Longnecker, the
tall blonde who taught in a public school and said, "Well, really!" to
everything you said, sat on the top step and sniffed. And Miss Dorn,
who shot at the moving ducks at Coney every Sunday and worked in a
department store, sat on the bottom step and sniffed. Miss Leeson sat
on the middle step and the men would quickly group around her.

Especially Mr. Skidder, who had cast her in his mind for the star part
in a private, romantic (unspoken) drama in real life. And especially Mr.
Hoover, who was forty-five, fat, flush and foolish. And especially very
young Mr. Evans, who set up a hollow cough to induce her to ask him
to leave off cigarettes. The men voted her "the funniest and jolliest
ever," but the sniffs on the top step and the lower step were
implacable.


* * * * * *


I pray you let the drama halt while Chorus stalks to the footlights and
drops an epicedian tear upon the fatness of Mr. Hoover. Tune the pipes
to the tragedy of tallow, the bane of bulk, the calamity of corpulence.
Tried out, Falstaff might have rendered more romance to the ton than
would have Romeo's rickety ribs to the ounce. A lover may sigh, but he
must not puff. To the train of Momus are the fat men remanded. In vain
beats the faithfullest heart above a 52-inch belt. Avaunt, Hoover!
Hoover, forty-five, flush and foolish, might carry off Helen herself;
Hoover, forty-five, flush, foolish and fat is meat for perdition. There
was never a chance for you, Hoover.

As Mrs. Parker's roomers sat thus one summer's evening, Miss Leeson
looked up into the firmament and cried with her little gay laugh:

"Why, there's Billy Jackson! I can see him from down here, too."

All looked up - some at the windows of skyscrapers, some casting about
for an airship, Jackson-guided.

"It's that star," explained Miss Leeson, pointing with a tiny finger.
"Not the big one that twinkles - the steady blue one near it. I can see
it every night through my skylight. I named it Billy Jackson."

"Well, really!" said Miss Longnecker. "I didn't know you were an
astronomer, Miss Leeson."

"Oh, yes," said the small star gazer, "I know as much as any of them
about the style of sleeves they're going to wear next fall in Mars."

"Well, really!" said Miss Longnecker. "The star you refer to is Gamma,
of the constellation Cassiopeia. It is nearly of the second magnitude,
and its meridian passage is - "

"Oh," said the very young Mr. Evans, "I think Billy Jackson is a much
better name for it."

"Same here," said Mr. Hoover, loudly breathing defiance to Miss
Longnecker. "I think Miss Leeson has just as much right to name stars
as any of those old astrologers had."

"Well, really!" said Miss Longnecker.

"I wonder whether it's a shooting star," remarked Miss Dorn. "I hit
nine ducks and a rabbit out of ten in the gallery at Coney Sunday."

"He doesn't show up very well from down here," said Miss Leeson. "You
ought to see him from my room. You know you can see stars even in the
daytime from the bottom of a well. At night my room is like the shaft of
a coal mine, and it makes Billy Jackson look like the big diamond pin
that Night fastens her kimono with."

There came a time after that when Miss Leeson brought no formidable
papers home to copy. And when she went out in the morning, instead of
working, she went from office to office and let her heart melt away in
the drip of cold refusals transmitted through insolent office boys. This
went on.

There came an evening when she wearily climbed Mrs. Parker's stoop at
the hour when she always returned from her dinner at the restaurant. But
she had had no dinner.

As she stepped into the hall Mr. Hoover met her and seized his chance.
He asked her to marry him, and his fatness hovered above her like an
avalanche. She dodged, and caught the balustrade. He tried for her hand,
and she raised it and smote him weakly in the face. Step by step she
went up, dragging herself by the railing. She passed Mr. Skidder's door
as he was red-inking a stage direction for Myrtle Delorme (Miss Leeson)
in his (unaccepted) comedy, to "pirouette across stage from L to the
side of the Count." Up the carpeted ladder she crawled at last and
opened the door of the skylight room.

She was too weak to light the lamp or to undress. She fell upon the iron
cot, her fragile body scarcely hollowing the worn springs. And in that
Erebus of the skylight room, she slowly raised her heavy eyelids, and
smiled.

For Billy Jackson was shining down on her, calm and bright and constant
through the skylight. There was no world about her. She was sunk in a
pit of blackness, with but that small square of pallid light framing the
star that she had so whimsically and oh, so ineffectually named. Miss
Longnecker must be right; it was Gamma, of the constellation Cassiopeia,
and not Billy Jackson. And yet she could not let it be Gamma.

As she lay on her back she tried twice to raise her arm. The third time
she got two thin fingers to her lips and blew a kiss out of the black
pit to Billy Jackson. Her arm fell back limply.

"Good-bye, Billy," she murmured faintly. "You're millions of miles away
and you won't even twinkle once. But you kept where I could see you most
of the time up there when there wasn't anything else but darkness to
look at, didn't you? . . . Millions of miles. . . . Good-bye, Billy
Jackson."

Clara, the coloured maid, found the door locked at 10 the next day,
and they forced it open. Vinegar, and the slapping of wrists and burnt
feathers proving of no avail, some one ran to 'phone for an ambulance.

In due time it backed up to the door with much gong-clanging, and the
capable young medico, in his white linen coat, ready, active, confident,
with his smooth face half debonair, half grim, danced up the steps.

"Ambulance call to 49," he said briefly. "What's the trouble?"

"Oh, yes, doctor," sniffed Mrs. Parker, as though her trouble that there
should be trouble in the house was the greater. "I can't think what can
be the matter with her. Nothing we could do would bring her to. It's a
young woman, a Miss Elsie - yes, a Miss Elsie Leeson. Never
before in my house - "

"What room?" cried the doctor in a terrible voice, to which Mrs. Parker
was a stranger.

"The skylight room. It - "

Evidently the ambulance doctor was familiar with the location of
skylight rooms. He was gone up the stairs, four at a time. Mrs. Parker
followed slowly, as her dignity demanded.

On the first landing she met him coming back bearing the astronomer in
his arms. He stopped and let loose the practised scalpel of his tongue,
not loudly. Gradually Mrs. Parker crumpled as a stiff garment that slips
down from a nail. Ever afterward there remained crumples in her mind and
body. Sometimes her curious roomers would ask her what the doctor said
to her.

"Let that be," she would answer. "If I can get forgiveness for having
heard it I will be satisfied."

The ambulance physician strode with his burden through the pack of
hounds that follow the curiosity chase, and even they fell back along
the sidewalk abashed, for his face was that of one who bears his own
dead.

They noticed that he did not lay down upon the bed prepared for it in
the ambulance the form that he carried, and all that he said was: "Drive
like h - - l, Wilson," to the driver.

That is all. Is it a story? In the next morning's paper I saw a little
news item, and the last sentence of it may help you (as it helped me)
to weld the incidents together.

It recounted the reception into Bellevue Hospital of a young woman who
had been removed from No. 49 East - - street, suffering from debility
induced by starvation. It concluded with these words:

"Dr. William Jackson, the ambulance physician who attended the case,
says the patient will recover."





A SERVICE OF LOVE


When one loves one's Art no service seems too hard.

That is our premise. This story shall draw a conclusion from it, and
show at the same time that the premise is incorrect. That will be a new
thing in logic, and a feat in story-telling somewhat older than the
great wall of China.

Joe Larrabee came out of the post-oak flats of the Middle West pulsing
with a genius for pictorial art. At six he drew a picture of the town
pump with a prominent citizen passing it hastily. This effort was framed
and hung in the drug store window by the side of the ear of corn with an
uneven number of rows. At twenty he left for New York with a flowing
necktie and a capital tied up somewhat closer.

Delia Caruthers did things in six octaves so promisingly in a pine-tree
village in the South that her relatives chipped in enough in her chip
hat for her to go "North" and "finish." They could not see her f - , but
that is our story.

Joe and Delia met in an atelier where a number of art and music students
had gathered to discuss chiaroscuro, Wagner, music, Rembrandt's works,
pictures, Waldteufel, wall paper, Chopin and Oolong.

Joe and Delia became enamoured one of the other, or each of the other,
as you please, and in a short time were married - for (see above), when
one loves one's Art no service seems too hard.

Mr. and Mrs. Larrabee began housekeeping in a flat. It was a lonesome
flat - something like the A sharp way down at the left-hand end of the
keyboard. And they were happy; for they had their Art, and they had each
other. And my advice to the rich young man would be - sell all thou hast,
and give it to the poor - janitor for the privilege of living in a flat
with your Art and your Delia.

Flat-dwellers shall indorse my dictum that theirs is the only true
happiness. If a home is happy it cannot fit too close - let the dresser
collapse and become a billiard table; let the mantel turn to a rowing
machine, the escritoire to a spare bedchamber, the washstand to an
upright piano; let the four walls come together, if they will, so you
and your Delia are between. But if home be the other kind, let it be
wide and long - enter you at the Golden Gate, hang your hat on Hatteras,
your cape on Cape Horn and go out by the Labrador.

Joe was painting in the class of the great Magister - you know his fame.
His fees are high; his lessons are light - his high-lights have brought
him renown. Delia was studying under Rosenstock - you know his repute as
a disturber of the piano keys.

They were mighty happy as long as their money lasted. So is every - but
I will not be cynical. Their aims were very clear and defined. Joe was
to become capable very soon of turning out pictures that old gentlemen
with thin side-whiskers and thick pocketbooks would sandbag one another
in his studio for the privilege of buying. Delia was to become familiar
and then contemptuous with Music, so that when she saw the orchestra
seats and boxes unsold she could have sore throat and lobster in a
private dining-room and refuse to go on the stage.

But the best, in my opinion, was the home life in the little flat - the
ardent, voluble chats after the day's study; the cozy dinners and fresh,
light breakfasts; the interchange of ambitions - ambitions interwoven
each with the other's or else inconsiderable - the mutual help and
inspiration; and - overlook my artlessness - stuffed olives and cheese
sandwiches at 11 p.m.

But after a while Art flagged. It sometimes does, even if some switchman
doesn't flag it. Everything going out and nothing coming in, as
the vulgarians say. Money was lacking to pay Mr. Magister and Herr
Rosenstock their prices. When one loves one's Art no service seems too
hard. So, Delia said she must give music lessons to keep the chafing
dish bubbling.

For two or three days she went out canvassing for pupils. One evening
she came home elated.

"Joe, dear," she said, gleefully, "I've a pupil. And, oh, the loveliest
people! General - General A. B. Pinkney's daughter - on Seventy-first
street. Such a splendid house, Joe - you ought to see the front door!
Byzantine I think you would call it. And inside! Oh, Joe, I never saw
anything like it before.

"My pupil is his daughter Clementina. I dearly love her already. She's
a delicate thing - dresses always in white; and the sweetest, simplest
manners! Only eighteen years old. I'm to give three lessons a week; and,
just think, Joe! $5 a lesson. I don't mind it a bit; for when I get two
or three more pupils I can resume my lessons with Herr Rosenstock. Now,
smooth out that wrinkle between your brows, dear, and let's have a nice
supper."

"That's all right for you, Dele," said Joe, attacking a can of peas with
a carving knife and a hatchet, "but how about me? Do you think I'm going
to let you hustle for wages while I philander in the regions of high
art? Not by the bones of Benvenuto Cellini! I guess I can sell papers or
lay cobblestones, and bring in a dollar or two."

Delia came and hung about his neck.

"Joe, dear, you are silly. You must keep on at your studies. It is not
as if I had quit my music and gone to work at something else. While I
teach I learn. I am always with my music. And we can live as happily as
millionaires on $15 a week. You mustn't think of leaving Mr. Magister."

"All right," said Joe, reaching for the blue scalloped vegetable dish.
"But I hate for you to be giving lessons. It isn't Art. But you're a
trump and a dear to do it."

"When one loves one's Art no service seems too hard," said Delia.

"Magister praised the sky in that sketch I made in the park," said Joe.
"And Tinkle gave me permission to hang two of them in his window. I may
sell one if the right kind of a moneyed idiot sees them."

"I'm sure you will," said Delia, sweetly. "And now let's be thankful for
Gen. Pinkney and this veal roast."

During all of the next week the Larrabees had an early breakfast. Joe
was enthusiastic about some morning-effect sketches he was doing in
Central Park, and Delia packed him off breakfasted, coddled, praised
and kissed at 7 o'clock. Art is an engaging mistress. It was most times
7 o'clock when he returned in the evening.

At the end of the week Delia, sweetly proud but languid, triumphantly
tossed three five-dollar bills on the 8x10 (inches) centre table of the
8x10 (feet) flat parlour.

"Sometimes," she said, a little wearily, "Clementina tries me. I'm
afraid she doesn't practise enough, and I have to tell her the same
things so often. And then she always dresses entirely in white, and that
does get monotonous. But Gen. Pinkney is the dearest old man! I wish you
could know him, Joe. He comes in sometimes when I am with Clementina at
the piano - he is a widower, you know - and stands there pulling his white
goatee. 'And how are the semiquavers and the demisemiquavers
progressing?' he always asks.

"I wish you could see the wainscoting in that drawing-room, Joe! And
those Astrakhan rug portières. And Clementina has such a funny little
cough. I hope she is stronger than she looks. Oh, I really am getting
attached to her, she is so gentle and high bred. Gen. Pinkney's brother
was once Minister to Bolivia."

And then Joe, with the air of a Monte Cristo, drew forth a ten, a five,
a two and a one - all legal tender notes - and laid them beside Delia's
earnings.

"Sold that watercolour of the obelisk to a man from Peoria," he
announced overwhelmingly.

"Don't joke with me," said Delia, "not from Peoria!"

"All the way. I wish you could see him, Dele. Fat man with a woollen
muffler and a quill toothpick. He saw the sketch in Tinkle's window and
thought it was a windmill at first. He was game, though, and bought it
anyhow. He ordered another - an oil sketch of the Lackawanna freight
depot - to take back with him. Music lessons! Oh, I guess Art is still in
it."

"I'm so glad you've kept on," said Delia, heartily. "You're bound to
win, dear. Thirty-three dollars! We never had so much to spend before.
We'll have oysters to-night."

"And filet mignon with champignons," said Joe. "Where is the olive
fork?"

On the next Saturday evening Joe reached home first. He spread his $18
on the parlour table and washed what seemed to be a great deal of dark
paint from his hands.

Half an hour later Delia arrived, her right hand tied up in a shapeless
bundle of wraps and bandages.

"How is this?" asked Joe after the usual greetings. Delia laughed, but
not very joyously.

"Clementina," she explained, "insisted upon a Welsh rabbit after her
lesson. She is such a queer girl. Welsh rabbits at 5 in the afternoon.
The General was there. You should have seen him run for the chafing
dish, Joe, just as if there wasn't a servant in the house. I know
Clementina isn't in good health; she is so nervous. In serving the
rabbit she spilled a great lot of it, boiling hot, over my hand and
wrist. It hurt awfully, Joe. And the dear girl was so sorry! But Gen.
Pinkney! - Joe, that old man nearly went distracted. He rushed downstairs
and sent somebody - they said the furnace man or somebody in the
basement - out to a drug store for some oil and things to bind it up
with. It doesn't hurt so much now."

"What's this?" asked Joe, taking the hand tenderly and pulling at some
white strands beneath the bandages.

"It's something soft," said Delia, "that had oil on it. Oh, Joe, did you
sell another sketch?" She had seen the money on the table.

"Did I?" said Joe; "just ask the man from Peoria. He got his depot
to-day, and he isn't sure but he thinks he wants another parkscape and
a view on the Hudson. What time this afternoon did you burn your hand,
Dele?"

"Five o'clock, I think," said Dele, plaintively. "The iron - I mean the
rabbit came off the fire about that time. You ought to have seen Gen.
Pinkney, Joe, when - "

"Sit down here a moment, Dele," said Joe. He drew her to the couch, sat
beside her and put his arm across her shoulders.

"What have you been doing for the last two weeks, Dele?" he asked.

She braved it for a moment or two with an eye full of love and
stubbornness, and murmured a phrase or two vaguely of Gen. Pinkney;
but at length down went her head and out came the truth and tears.

"I couldn't get any pupils," she confessed. "And I couldn't bear to have
you give up your lessons; and I got a place ironing shirts in that big
Twenty-fourth street laundry. And I think I did very well to make up
both General Pinkney and Clementina, don't you, Joe? And when a girl in
the laundry set down a hot iron on my hand this afternoon I was all the
way home making up that story about the Welsh rabbit. You're not angry,


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