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So Dulcie lit the gas. In its one-fourth-candlepower glow we will
observe the room.

Couch-bed, dresser, table, washstand, chair - of this much the landlady
was guilty. The rest was Dulcie's. On the dresser were her treasures - a
gilt china vase presented to her by Sadie, a calendar issued by a pickle
works, a book on the divination of dreams, some rice powder in a glass
dish, and a cluster of artificial cherries tied with a pink ribbon.

Against the wrinkly mirror stood pictures of General Kitchener, William
Muldoon, the Duchess of Marlborough, and Benvenuto Cellini. Against one
wall was a plaster of Paris plaque of an O'Callahan in a Roman helmet.
Near it was a violent oleograph of a lemon-coloured child assaulting an
inflammatory butterfly. This was Dulcie's final judgment in art; but
it had never been upset. Her rest had never been disturbed by whispers
of stolen copes; no critic had elevated his eyebrows at her infantile
entomologist.

Piggy was to call for her at seven. While she swiftly makes ready, let
us discreetly face the other way and gossip.

For the room, Dulcie paid two dollars per week. On week-days her
breakfast cost ten cents; she made coffee and cooked an egg over the
gaslight while she was dressing. On Sunday mornings she feasted royally
on veal chops and pineapple fritters at "Billy's" restaurant, at a
cost of twenty-five cents - and tipped the waitress ten cents. New York
presents so many temptations for one to run into extravagance. She had
her lunches in the department-store restaurant at a cost of sixty cents
for the week; dinners were $1.05. The evening papers - show me a New
Yorker going without his daily paper! - came to six cents; and two
Sunday papers - one for the personal column and the other to read - were
ten cents. The total amounts to $4.76. Now, one has to buy clothes,
and -

I give it up. I hear of wonderful bargains in fabrics, and of miracles
performed with needle and thread; but I am in doubt. I hold my pen
poised in vain when I would add to Dulcie's life some of those joys
that belong to woman by virtue of all the unwritten, sacred, natural,
inactive ordinances of the equity of heaven. Twice she had been to Coney
Island and had ridden the hobby-horses. 'Tis a weary thing to count your
pleasures by summers instead of by hours.

Piggy needs but a word. When the girls named him, an undeserving stigma
was cast upon the noble family of swine. The words-of-three-letters
lesson in the old blue spelling book begins with Piggy's biography.
He was fat; he had the soul of a rat, the habits of a bat, and the
magnanimity of a cat. . . He wore expensive clothes; and was a
connoisseur in starvation. He could look at a shop-girl and tell you
to an hour how long it had been since she had eaten anything more
nourishing than marshmallows and tea. He hung about the shopping
districts, and prowled around in department stores with his invitations
to dinner. Men who escort dogs upon the streets at the end of a string
look down upon him. He is a type; I can dwell upon him no longer; my
pen is not the kind intended for him; I am no carpenter.

At ten minutes to seven Dulcie was ready. She looked at herself in the
wrinkly mirror. The reflection was satisfactory. The dark blue dress,
fitting without a wrinkle, the hat with its jaunty black feather, the
but-slightly-soiled gloves - all representing self-denial, even of food
itself - were vastly becoming.

Dulcie forgot everything else for a moment except that she was
beautiful, and that life was about to lift a corner of its mysterious
veil for her to observe its wonders. No gentleman had ever asked her
out before. Now she was going for a brief moment into the glitter and
exalted show.

The girls said that Piggy was a "spender." There would be a grand
dinner, and music, and splendidly dressed ladies to look at, and things
to eat that strangely twisted the girls' jaws when they tried to tell
about them. No doubt she would be asked out again. There was a blue
pongee suit in a window that she knew - by saving twenty cents a week
instead of ten, in - let's see - Oh, it would run into years! But there
was a second-hand store in Seventh Avenue where -

Somebody knocked at the door. Dulcie opened it. The landlady stood there
with a spurious smile, sniffing for cooking by stolen gas.

"A gentleman's downstairs to see you," she said. "Name is Mr. Wiggins."

By such epithet was Piggy known to unfortunate ones who had to take him
seriously.

Dulcie turned to the dresser to get her handkerchief; and then she
stopped still, and bit her underlip hard. While looking in her mirror
she had seen fairyland and herself, a princess, just awakening from a
long slumber. She had forgotten one that was watching her with sad,
beautiful, stern eyes - the only one there was to approve or condemn
what she did. Straight and slender and tall, with a look of sorrowful
reproach on his handsome, melancholy face, General Kitchener fixed his
wonderful eyes on her out of his gilt photograph frame on the dresser.

Dulcie turned like an automatic doll to the landlady.

"Tell him I can't go," she said dully. "Tell him I'm sick, or something.
Tell him I'm not going out."

After the door was closed and locked, Dulcie fell upon her bed, crushing
her black tip, and cried for ten minutes. General Kitchener was her only
friend. He was Dulcie's ideal of a gallant knight. He looked as if he
might have a secret sorrow, and his wonderful moustache was a dream, and
she was a little afraid of that stern yet tender look in his eyes. She
used to have little fancies that he would call at the house sometime,
and ask for her, with his sword clanking against his high boots. Once,
when a boy was rattling a piece of chain against a lamp-post she had
opened the window and looked out. But there was no use. She knew that
General Kitchener was away over in Japan, leading his army against the
savage Turks; and he would never step out of his gilt frame for her. Yet
one look from him had vanquished Piggy that night. Yes, for that night.

When her cry was over Dulcie got up and took off her best dress, and put
on her old blue kimono. She wanted no dinner. She sang two verses of
"Sammy." Then she became intensely interested in a little red speck on
the side of her nose. And after that was attended to, she drew up a
chair to the rickety table, and told her fortune with an old deck of
cards.

"The horrid, impudent thing!" she said aloud. "And I never gave him a
word or a look to make him think it!"

At nine o'clock Dulcie took a tin box of crackers and a little pot of
raspberry jam out of her trunk, and had a feast. She offered General
Kitchener some jam on a cracker; but he only looked at her as the sphinx
would have looked at a butterfly - if there are butterflies in the
desert.

"Don't eat it if you don't want to," said Dulcie. "And don't put on so
many airs and scold so with your eyes. I wonder if you'd be so superior
and snippy if you had to live on six dollars a week."

It was not a good sign for Dulcie to be rude to General Kitchener. And
then she turned Benvenuto Cellini face downward with a severe gesture.
But that was not inexcusable; for she had always thought he was Henry
VIII, and she did not approve of him.

At half-past nine Dulcie took a last look at the pictures on the
dresser, turned out the light, and skipped into bed. It's an awful
thing to go to bed with a good-night look at General Kitchener, William
Muldoon, the Duchess of Marlborough, and Benvenuto Cellini. This story
really doesn't get anywhere at all. The rest of it comes later - sometime
when Piggy asks Dulcie again to dine with him, and she is feeling
lonelier than usual, and General Kitchener happens to be looking the
other way; and then -

As I said before, I dreamed that I was standing near a crowd of
prosperous-looking angels, and a policeman took me by the wing and
asked if I belonged with them.

"Who are they?" I asked.

"Why," said he, "they are the men who hired working-girls, and paid 'em
five or six dollars a week to live on. Are you one of the bunch?"

"Not on your immortality," said I. "I'm only the fellow that set fire to
an orphan asylum, and murdered a blind man for his pennies."





THE CALIPH, CUPID AND THE CLOCK


Prince Michael, of the Electorate of Valleluna, sat on his favourite
bench in the park. The coolness of the September night quickened the
life in him like a rare, tonic wine. The benches were not filled; for
park loungers, with their stagnant blood, are prompt to detect and fly
home from the crispness of early autumn. The moon was just clearing the
roofs of the range of dwellings that bounded the quadrangle on the east.
Children laughed and played about the fine-sprayed fountain. In the
shadowed spots fauns and hamadryads wooed, unconscious of the gaze of
mortal eyes. A hand organ - Philomel by the grace of our stage carpenter,
Fancy - fluted and droned in a side street. Around the enchanted
boundaries of the little park street cars spat and mewed and the stilted
trains roared like tigers and lions prowling for a place to enter. And
above the trees shone the great, round, shining face of an illuminated
clock in the tower of an antique public building.

Prince Michael's shoes were wrecked far beyond the skill of the
carefullest cobbler. The ragman would have declined any negotiations
concerning his clothes. The two weeks' stubble on his face was grey
and brown and red and greenish yellow - as if it had been made up from
individual contributions from the chorus of a musical comedy. No man
existed who had money enough to wear so bad a hat as his.

Prince Michael sat on his favourite bench and smiled. It was a diverting
thought to him that he was wealthy enough to buy every one of those
close-ranged, bulky, window-lit mansions that faced him, if he chose. He
could have matched gold, equipages, jewels, art treasures, estates and
acres with any Croesus in this proud city of Manhattan, and scarcely
have entered upon the bulk of his holdings. He could have sat at table
with reigning sovereigns. The social world, the world of art, the
fellowship of the elect, adulation, imitation, the homage of the
fairest, honours from the highest, praise from the wisest, flattery,
esteem, credit, pleasure, fame - all the honey of life was waiting in the
comb in the hive of the world for Prince Michael, of the Electorate of
Valleluna, whenever he might choose to take it. But his choice was to
sit in rags and dinginess on a bench in a park. For he had tasted of
the fruit of the tree of life, and, finding it bitter in his mouth,
had stepped out of Eden for a time to seek distraction close to the
unarmoured, beating heart of the world.

These thoughts strayed dreamily through the mind of Prince Michael, as
he smiled under the stubble of his polychromatic beard. Lounging thus,
clad as the poorest of mendicants in the parks, he loved to study
humanity. He found in altruism more pleasure than his riches, his
station and all the grosser sweets of life had given him. It was his
chief solace and satisfaction to alleviate individual distress, to
confer favours upon worthy ones who had need of succour, to dazzle
unfortunates by unexpected and bewildering gifts of truly royal
magnificence, bestowed, however, with wisdom and judiciousness.

And as Prince Michael's eye rested upon the glowing face of the great
clock in the tower, his smile, altruistic as it was, became slightly
tinged with contempt. Big thoughts were the Prince's; and it was always
with a shake of his head that he considered the subjugation of the world
to the arbitrary measures of Time. The comings and goings of people in
hurry and dread, controlled by the little metal moving hands of a clock,
always made him sad.

By and by came a young man in evening clothes and sat upon the third
bench from the Prince. For half an hour he smoked cigars with nervous
haste, and then he fell to watching the face of the illuminated clock
above the trees. His perturbation was evident, and the Prince noted, in
sorrow, that its cause was connected, in some manner, with the slowly
moving hands of the timepiece.

His Highness arose and went to the young man's bench.

"I beg your pardon for addressing you," he said, "but I perceive that
you are disturbed in mind. If it may serve to mitigate the liberty I
have taken I will add that I am Prince Michael, heir to the throne of
the Electorate of Valleluna. I appear incognito, of course, as you may
gather from my appearance. It is a fancy of mine to render aid to others
whom I think worthy of it. Perhaps the matter that seems to distress you
is one that would more readily yield to our mutual efforts."

The young man looked up brightly at the Prince. Brightly, but the
perpendicular line of perplexity between his brows was not smoothed
away. He laughed, and even then it did not. But he accepted the
momentary diversion.

"Glad to meet you, Prince," he said, good humouredly. "Yes, I'd say you
were incog. all right. Thanks for your offer of assistance - but I don't
see where your butting-in would help things any. It's a kind of private
affair, you know - but thanks all the same."

Prince Michael sat at the young man's side. He was often rebuffed but
never offensively. His courteous manner and words forbade that.

"Clocks," said the Prince, "are shackles on the feet of mankind. I have
observed you looking persistently at that clock. Its face is that of a
tyrant, its numbers are false as those on a lottery ticket; its hands
are those of a bunco steerer, who makes an appointment with you to your
ruin. Let me entreat you to throw off its humiliating bonds and to cease
to order your affairs by that insensate monitor of brass and steel."

"I don't usually," said the young man. "I carry a watch except when I've
got my radiant rags on."

"I know human nature as I do the trees and grass," said the Prince, with
earnest dignity. "I am a master of philosophy, a graduate in art, and I
hold the purse of a Fortunatus. There are few mortal misfortunes that I
cannot alleviate or overcome. I have read your countenance, and found
in it honesty and nobility as well as distress. I beg of you to accept
my advice or aid. Do not belie the intelligence I see in your face by
judging from my appearance of my ability to defeat your troubles."

The young man glanced at the clock again and frowned darkly. When his
gaze strayed from the glowing horologue of time it rested intently upon
a four-story red brick house in the row of dwellings opposite to where
he sat. The shades were drawn, and the lights in many rooms shone dimly
through them.

"Ten minutes to nine!" exclaimed the young man, with an impatient
gesture of despair. He turned his back upon the house and took a rapid
step or two in a contrary direction.

"Remain!" commanded Prince Michael, in so potent a voice that the
disturbed one wheeled around with a somewhat chagrined laugh.

"I'll give her the ten minutes and then I'm off," he muttered, and
then aloud to the Prince: "I'll join you in confounding all clocks, my
friend, and throw in women, too."

"Sit down," said the Prince calmly. "I do not accept your addition.
Women are the natural enemies of clocks, and, therefore, the allies of
those who would seek liberation from these monsters that measure our
follies and limit our pleasures. If you will so far confide in me I
would ask you to relate to me your story."

The young man threw himself upon the bench with a reckless laugh.

"Your Royal Highness, I will," he said, in tones of mock deference. "Do
you see yonder house - the one with three upper windows lighted? Well,
at 6 o'clock I stood in that house with the young lady I am - that is,
I was - engaged to. I had been doing wrong, my dear Prince - I had been
a naughty boy, and she had heard of it. I wanted to be forgiven, of
course - we are always wanting women to forgive us, aren't we, Prince?"

"'I want time to think it over,' said she. 'There is one thing certain;
I will either fully forgive you, or I will never see your face again.
There will be no half-way business. At half-past eight,' she said, 'at
exactly half-past eight you may be watching the middle upper window of
the top floor. If I decide to forgive I will hang out of that window a
white silk scarf. You will know by that that all is as was before, and
you may come to me. If you see no scarf you may consider that everything
between us is ended forever.' That," concluded the young man bitterly,
"is why I have been watching that clock. The time for the signal to
appear has passed twenty-three minutes ago. Do you wonder that I am a
little disturbed, my Prince of Rags and Whiskers?"

"Let me repeat to you," said Prince Michael, in his even, well-modulated
tones, "that women are the natural enemies of clocks. Clocks are an
evil, women a blessing. The signal may yet appear."

"Never, on your principality!" exclaimed the young man, hopelessly. "You
don't know Marian - of course. She's always on time, to the minute. That
was the first thing about her that attracted me. I've got the mitten
instead of the scarf. I ought to have known at 8.31 that my goose was
cooked. I'll go West on the 11.45 to-night with Jack Milburn. The jig's
up. I'll try Jack's ranch awhile and top off with the Klondike and
whiskey. Good-night - er - er - Prince."

Prince Michael smiled his enigmatic, gentle, comprehending smile and
caught the coat sleeve of the other. The brilliant light in the Prince's
eyes was softening to a dreamier, cloudy translucence.

"Wait," he said solemnly, "till the clock strikes. I have wealth and
power and knowledge above most men, but when the clock strikes I am
afraid. Stay by me until then. This woman shall be yours. You have the
word of the hereditary Prince of Valleluna. On the day of your marriage
I will give you $100,000 and a palace on the Hudson. But there must be
no clocks in that palace - they measure our follies and limit our
pleasures. Do you agree to that?"

"Of course," said the young man, cheerfully, "they're a nuisance,
anyway - always ticking and striking and getting you late for dinner."

He glanced again at the clock in the tower. The hands stood at three
minutes to nine.

"I think," said Prince Michael, "that I will sleep a little. The day
has been fatiguing."

He stretched himself upon a bench with the manner of one who had slept
thus before.

"You will find me in this park on any evening when the weather is
suitable," said the Prince, sleepily. "Come to me when your marriage
day is set and I will give you a cheque for the money."

"Thanks, Your Highness," said the young man, seriously. "It doesn't look
as if I would need that palace on the Hudson, but I appreciate your
offer, just the same."

Prince Michael sank into deep slumber. His battered hat rolled from
the bench to the ground. The young man lifted it, placed it over the
frowsy face and moved one of the grotesquely relaxed limbs into a more
comfortable position. "Poor devil!" he said, as he drew the tattered
clothes closer about the Prince's breast.

Sonorous and startling came the stroke of 9 from the clock tower. The
young man sighed again, turned his face for one last look at the house
of his relinquished hopes - and cried aloud profane words of
holy rapture.

From the middle upper window blossomed in the dusk a waving, snowy,
fluttering, wonderful, divine emblem of forgiveness and promised joy.

By came a citizen, rotund, comfortable, home-hurrying, unknowing of the
delights of waving silken scarfs on the borders of dimly-lit parks.

"Will you oblige me with the time, sir?" asked the young man; and the
citizen, shrewdly conjecturing his watch to be safe, dragged it out and
announced:

"Twenty-nine and a half minutes past eight, sir."

And then, from habit, he glanced at the clock in the tower, and made
further oration.

"By George! that clock's half an hour fast! First time in ten years I've
known it to be off. This watch of mine never varies a - "

But the citizen was talking to vacancy. He turned and saw his hearer,
a fast receding black shadow, flying in the direction of a house with
three lighted upper windows.

And in the morning came along two policemen on their way to the beats
they owned. The park was deserted save for one dilapidated figure that
sprawled, asleep, on a bench. They stopped and gazed upon it.

"It's Dopy Mike," said one. "He hits the pipe every night. Park bum for
twenty years. On his last legs, I guess."

The other policeman stooped and looked at something crumpled and crisp
in the hand of the sleeper.

"Gee!" he remarked. "He's doped out a fifty-dollar bill, anyway. Wish
I knew the brand of hop that he smokes."

And then "Rap, rap, rap!" went the club of realism against the shoe
soles of Prince Michael, of the Electorate of Valleluna.





SISTERS OF THE GOLDEN CIRCLE


The Rubberneck Auto was about ready to start. The merry top-riders had
been assigned to their seats by the gentlemanly conductor. The sidewalk
was blockaded with sightseers who had gathered to stare at sightseers,
justifying the natural law that every creature on earth is preyed upon
by some other creature.

The megaphone man raised his instrument of torture; the inside of the
great automobile began to thump and throb like the heart of a coffee
drinker. The top-riders nervously clung to the seats; the old lady from
Valparaiso, Indiana, shrieked to be put ashore. But, before a wheel
turns, listen to a brief preamble through the cardiaphone, which shall
point out to you an object of interest on life's sightseeing tour.

Swift and comprehensive is the recognition of white man for white man in
African wilds; instant and sure is the spiritual greeting between mother
and babe; unhesitatingly do master and dog commune across the slight
gulf between animal and man; immeasurably quick and sapient are the
brief messages between one and one's beloved. But all these instances
set forth only slow and groping interchange of sympathy and thought
beside one other instance which the Rubberneck coach shall disclose. You
shall learn (if you have not learned already) what two beings of all
earth's living inhabitants most quickly look into each other's hearts
and souls when they meet face to face.

The gong whirred, and the Glaring-at-Gotham car moved majestically upon
its instructive tour.

On the highest, rear seat was James Williams, of Cloverdale, Missouri,
and his Bride.

Capitalise it, friend typo - that last word - word of words in the
epiphany of life and love. The scent of the flowers, the booty of the
bee, the primal drip of spring waters, the overture of the lark, the
twist of lemon peel on the cocktail of creation - such is the bride. Holy
is the wife; revered the mother; galliptious is the summer girl - but the
bride is the certified check among the wedding presents that the gods
send in when man is married to mortality.

The car glided up the Golden Way. On the bridge of the great cruiser the
captain stood, trumpeting the sights of the big city to his passengers.
Wide-mouthed and open-eared, they heard the sights of the metropolis
thundered forth to their eyes. Confused, delirious with excitement
and provincial longings, they tried to make ocular responses to the
megaphonic ritual. In the solemn spires of spreading cathedrals they saw
the home of the Vanderbilts; in the busy bulk of the Grand Central depot
they viewed, wonderingly, the frugal cot of Russell Sage. Bidden to
observe the highlands of the Hudson, they gaped, unsuspecting, at the
upturned mountains of a new-laid sewer. To many the elevated railroad
was the Rialto, on the stations of which uniformed men sat and made
chop suey of your tickets. And to this day in the outlying districts
many have it that Chuck Connors, with his hand on his heart, leads
reform; and that but for the noble municipal efforts of one Parkhurst,
a district attorney, the notorious "Bishop" Potter gang would have
destroyed law and order from the Bowery to the Harlem River.

But I beg you to observe Mrs. James Williams - Hattie Chalmers that
was - once the belle of Cloverdale. Pale-blue is the bride's, if she
will; and this colour she had honoured. Willingly had the moss rosebud
loaned to her cheeks of its pink - and as for the violet! - her eyes will
do very well as they are, thank you. A useless strip of white chaf - oh,
no, he was guiding the auto car - of white chiffon - or perhaps it was
grenadine or tulle - was tied beneath her chin, pretending to hold her
bonnet in place. But you know as well as I do that the hatpins did the


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