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rows of trucks and drays stood ranged along the pavements for the
night, and on some of the stoops and fire-escapes of the tenements a
few dwarfish specimens of the Polish Jew sat squabbling in their
native tongue.

But it was not until they had reached Orchard Street, and when
Rivington Street was quite empty, that the man drew up uncertainly
beside the girl, and, bending over, stared up in her face, and then,
walking on at her side, surveyed her deliberately from head to foot.
For a few steps the girl moved on as apparently unmindful of his near
presence as though he were a stray dog running at her side; but when
he stepped directly in front of her, she stopped and backed away from
him fearfully. The man hesitated for an instant, and then came on
after her, laughing.

Van Bibber had been some distance in the rear. He reached the curb
beside them just as the girl turned back, with the man still following
her, and stepped in between them. He had come so suddenly from out of
the darkness that they both started. Van Bibber did not look at the
man. He turned to the girl, and raised his hat slightly, and
recognized Eleanore Cuyler instantly as he did so; but as she did not
seem to remember him he did not call her by name, but simply said,
with a jerk of his head, "Is this man annoying you?"

Miss Cuyler seemed to wish before everything else to avoid a scene.

"He - he just spoke to me, that is all," she said. "I live only a
block below here; if you will please let me go on alone, I would be
very much obliged."

"Certainly, do go on," said Van Bibber, "but I shall have to follow
you until you get in-doors. You needn't be alarmed, no one will speak
to you." Then he turned to the man, and said, in a lower tone, "You
wait here till I get back, will you? I want to talk to you."

The man paid no attention to him whatsoever. He was so far misled by
Van Bibber's appearance as to misunderstand the situation entirely.
"Oh, come now," he said, smiling knowingly at the girl, "you can't
shake me for no dude."

He put out his hand as he spoke as though he meant to touch her. Van
Bibber pulled his stick from under his arm and tossed it out of his
way, and struck the man twice heavily in the face. He was very cool
and determined about it, and punished him, in consequence, much more
effectively than if his indignation had made him excited. The man gave
a howl of pain, and stumbled backwards over one of the stoops, where
he dropped moaning and swearing, with his fingers pressed against his
face.

"_Please_, now," begged Van Bibber, quickly turning to Miss Cuyler, "I
am very sorry, but if you had _only_ gone when I asked you to." He
motioned impatiently with his hand. "Will you please go?"

But the girl, to his surprise, stood still and looked past him over
his shoulder. Van Bibber motioned again for her to pass on, and then,
as she still hesitated, turned and glanced behind him. The street had
the blue-black look of a New York street at night. There was not a
lighted window in the block. It seemed to have grown suddenly more
silent and dirty and desolate-looking. He could see the glow of the
elevated station at Allen Street, and it seemed fully a half-mile
away. Save for the girl and the groaning fool on the stoop, and the
three figures closing in on him, he was quite alone. The foremost of
the three men stopped running, and came up briskly with his finger
held interrogatively in front of him. He stopped when it was within a
foot of Van Bibber's face.

"Are you looking for a fight?" he asked.

There was enough of the element of the sport in Van Bibber to enable
him to recognize the same element in the young man before him. He knew
that this was no whimpering blackguard who followed women into side
streets to insult them; this was one of the purest specimens of the
tough of the East-Side water-front, and he and his companions would
fight as readily as Van Bibber would smoke - and they would not fight
fair. The adventure had taken on a grim and serious turn, and Van
Bibber gave an imperceptible shrug and a barely audible exclamation of
disgust as he accepted it.

"Because," continued his new opponent with business-like briskness,
"if you're looking for a fight, you can set right to me. You needn't
think you can come down here and run things - you - " He followed this
with an easy roll of oaths, intended to goad his victim into action.

A reformed prize-fighter had once told Van Bibber that there were six
rules to observe in a street fight. He said he had forgotten the first
five, but the sixth one was to strike first. Van Bibber turned his
head towards Miss Cuyler. "You had better run," he said, over his
shoulder; and then, turning quickly, he brought his left fist, with
all the strength and weight of his arm and body back of it, against
the end of the new-comer's chin.

This is a most effective blow. This is so because the lower jaw is
anatomically loose; and when it is struck heavily, it turns and jars
the brain, and the man who is struck feels as though the man who
struck him had opened the top of his skull and taken his brains in his
hand and wrenched them as a brakeman wrenches a brake. If you shut
your teeth hard, and rap the tip of your chin sharply with your
knuckles, you can get an idea of how effective this is when multiplied
by an arm and all the muscles of a shoulder.

The man threw up his arms and went over backwards, groping blindly
with his hands.

Van Bibber heard a sharp rapping behind him frequently repeated; he
could not turn to see what it was, for one of the remaining men was
engaging him in front, and the other was kicking at his knee-cap, and
striking at his head from behind. He was no longer cool; he was
grandly and viciously excited; and, rushing past his opponent, he
caught him over his hip with his left arm across his breast, and so
tossed him, using his hip for a lever.

A man in this position can be thrown so that he will either fall as
lightly as a baby falls from his pillow to the bed, or with sufficient
force to break his ribs. Van Bibber, being excited, threw him the
latter way. Seeing this, the second man, who had so far failed to find
Van Bibber's knee-cap, backed rapidly away, with his hands in front of
him.

"Here," he cried, "lem'me alone; I'm not in this."

"Oh yes, you are," cried Van Bibber, gasping, but with fierce
politeness. "Excuse me, but you are. Put up your hands; I'm going to
kill _you_."

He had a throbbing feeling in the back of his head, and his breathing
was difficult. He could still hear the heavy, irregular rapping behind
him, but it had become confused with the throbbing in his head. "Put
up your hands," he panted.

The third man, still backing away, placed his arms in a position of
defence, and Van Bibber beat them down savagely, and caught him by the
throat and pounded him until his arm was tired, and he had to drop him
at his feet.

As he turned dizzily, he heard a sharp answering rap down the street,
and saw coming towards him the burly figure of a policeman running
heavily and throwing his night-stick in front of him by its leather
thong, so that it struck reverberating echoes out of the pavement.

And then he saw to his amazement that Miss Cuyler was still with him,
standing by the curb and beating it with his heavy walking-stick as
calmly as though she were playing golf, and looking keenly up and down
the street for possible aid. Van Bibber gazed at her with breathless
admiration.

"Good heavens!" he panted, "didn't I ask you _please_ to go home?"

The policeman passed them and dived uncertainly down a dark area-way
as one departing figure disappeared into the open doorway of a
tenement, on his way to the roof, and the legs of another dodged
between the line of drays.

"Where'd them fellows go?" gasped the officer, instantly reappearing
up the steps of the basement.

"How should I know?" answered Van Bibber, and added, with ill-timed
lightness, "they didn't leave any address." The officer stared at him
with severe suspicion, and then disappeared again under one of the
trucks.

"I am very, very much obliged to you, Miss Cuyler," Van Bibber said.
He tried to raise his hat, but the efforts of the gentleman who had
struck him from behind had been successful and the hat came off only
after a wrench that made him wince.

"You were very brave," he went on. "And it was very good of you to
stand by me. You won't mind my saying so, now, will you? But you gave
the wrong rap. I hadn't time to tell you to change it." He mopped the
back of his head tenderly with his handkerchief, and tried to smile
cheerfully. "You see, you were giving the rap," he explained politely,
"for a fire-engine; but it's of no consequence." Miss Cuyler came
closer to him, and he saw that her face showed sudden anxiety.

"Mr. Van Bibber!" she exclaimed. "Oh, I didn't know it was you! I
didn't know it was any one who knew me. What will you think?"

"I beg your pardon," said Van Bibber, blankly.

"You must not believe," she went on, quickly, "that I am subject to
this sort of thing. Please do not imagine I am annoyed down here like
this. It has never happened before. I was nursing a woman, and her
son, who generally goes home with me, was kept at the works, and I
thought I could risk getting back alone. You see," she explained, as
Van Bibber's face showed he was still puzzled, "my people do not fancy
my living down here; and if they should hear of this they would never
consent to my remaining another day, and it means so much to me now."

"They need not hear of it," Van Bibber answered, sympathetically.
"They certainly won't from me, if that's what you mean."

The officer had returned, and interrupted them brusquely. It seemed
to him that he was not receiving proper attention.

"Say, what's wrong here?" he demanded. "Did that gang take anything
off'n you."

"They did not," said Van Bibber. "They held me up, but they didn't
take nothin' off'n of me."

The officer flushed uncomfortably, and was certain now that he was
being undervalued. He surveyed the blood running down over Van
Bibber's collar with a smile of malicious satisfaction.

"They done you up, any way," he suggested.

"Yes, they done me up," assented Van Bibber, cheerfully, "and if you'd
come a little sooner they'd done you up too."

He stepped to Miss Cuyler's side, and they walked on down the street
to the College Settlement in silence, the policeman following
uncertainly in the rear.

"I haven't thanked you, Mr. Van Bibber," said Miss Cuyler. "It was
really fine of you, and most exciting. You must be very strong. I
can't imagine how you happened to be there, but it was most fortunate
for me that you were. If you had not, I - "

"Oh, that's all right," said Van Bibber, hurriedly. "I haven't had so
much fun without paying for it for a long time. Fun," he added,
meditatively, "costs so much."

"And you will be so good, then, as not to speak of it," she said, as
she gave him her hand at the door.

"Of course not. Why should I?" said Van Bibber, and then his face
beamed and clouded again instantly. "But, oh," he begged, "I'm afraid
I'll have to tell Travers! Oh, please let me tell Travers! I'll make
him promise not to mention it, but it's too good a joke on him, when
you think what he missed. You see," he added, hastily, "we were to
have gone out together, and he forgot, as usual, and missed the whole
thing, and he wasn't _in it_, and it will just about break his heart.
He's always getting grinds on me," he went on, persuasively, "and now
I've got this on him. You will really have to let me tell Travers."

Miss Cuyler looked puzzled and said "Certainly," though she failed to
see why Mr. Travers should want his head broken, and then she thanked
Van Bibber again and nodded to the officer and went in-doors.

The policeman, who had listened to the closing speeches, looked at Van
Bibber with dawning admiration.

"Now then, officer," said Van Bibber, briskly, "which of the saloons
around here break the law by keeping open after one? You probably
know, and if you don't I'll have to take your number." And peace being
in this way restored, the two disappeared together into the darkness
to break the law.

Van Bibber told Travers about it the next morning, and Travers forgot
he was not to mention it, and told the next man he met. By one o'clock
the story had grown in his telling, and Van Bibber's reputation had
grown with it.

Travers found three men breakfasting together at the club, and drew up
a chair. "Have you heard the joke Van Bibber's got on me?" he asked,
sadly, by way of introduction.

Wainwright was sitting at the next table with his back to them. He had
just left the customs officers, and his wonder at the dirtiness of the
streets and height of the buildings had given way to the pleasure of
being home again, and before the knowledge that "old friends are
best." He had meant to return again immediately as soon as he had
arranged for the production of his play in New York; his second play
was to be brought out in London in a month. But the heartiness of his
friends' greetings, and the anxiety of men to be recognized who had
been mere acquaintances hitherto, had touched and amused him. He was
too young to be cynical over it, and he was glad, on the whole, that
he had come back.

His mind was wide awake, and shifting from one pleasant thought to
another, when he heard Travers's voice behind him raised impressively.
"And they both went at Van hammer and tongs," he heard Travers say,
"one in front and the other behind, kicking and striking all over the
shop. And," continued Travers, interrupting himself suddenly with a
shrill and anxious tone of interrogation, "where was I while this was
going on? That's the pathetic part of it - where was I?" His voice rose
to almost a shriek of disappointment. "_I_ was sitting in a red-silk
box listening to a red-silk opera with a lot of _girls_ - that's what
_I_ was doing. I wasn't in it; I wasn't. I - "

"Well, never mind what you were doing," said one of the men,
soothingly; "you weren't in it, as you say. Return to the libretto."

"Well," continued Travers, meekly, "let me see; where was I?"

"You were in a red-silk box," suggested one of the men, reaching for
the coffee.

"Go on, Travers," said the first man. "The two men were kicking Van
Bibber."

"Oh, yes," cried Travers. "Well, Van just threw the first fellow over
his head, and threw him _hard_. He must have broken his ribs, for the
second fellow tried to get away, and begged off, but Van wouldn't have
it, and rushed him. He got the tough's head under his arm, and
pummelled it till his arm ached, and then he threw him into the
street, and asked if any other gentleman would like to try his luck.
That's what Van did, and he told me not to tell any one, so I hope you
will not mention it. But I had to tell you, because I want to know if
you have ever met a harder case of hard luck than that. Think of it,
will you? Think of me sitting there in a red-silk box listening to
a - "

"What did the girl do?" interrupted one of the men.

"Oh, yes," said Travers, hastily; "that's the best part of it; that's
the plot - the girl. Now, who do you think the girl was?" He looked
around the table proudly, with the air of a man who is sure of his
climax.

"How should I know?" one man said. "Some actress going home from the
theatre, maybe - "

"No," said Travers. "It's a girl you all know." He paused
impressively. "What would you say now," he went on, dropping his
voice, "if I was to tell you it was Eleanore Cuyler?"

The three men looked up suddenly and at each other with serious
concern. There was a moment's silence. "Well," said one of them,
softly, "that _is_ rather nasty."

"Now, what I want to know is," Travers ran on, elated at the sensation
his narrative had made - "what I want to know is, where is that girl's
mother, or sister, or brother? Have they anything to say? Has any one
anything to say? Why, one of Eleanore Cuyler's little fingers is worth
more than all the East and West Side put together; and she is to be
allowed to run risks like - "

Wainwright pushed his chair back, and walked out of the room.

"See that fellow, quick," said Travers; "that's Wainwright who writes
plays and things. He's a thoroughbred sport, too, and he just got back
from London. It's in the afternoon papers."

Miss Cuyler was reading to Mrs. Lockmuller, who was old and bedridden
and cross. Under the influence of Eleanore's low voice she frequently
went to sleep, only to wake and demand ungratefully why the reading
had stopped.

Miss Cuyler was very tired. It was close and hot, and her head ached a
little, and the prospect across the roofs of the other tenements was
not cheerful. Neither was the thought that she was to spend her summer
making working-girls happy on a farm on Long Island.

She had grown sceptical as to working-girls, and of the good she did
them - or any one else. It was all terribly dreary and forlorn, and she
wished she could end it by putting her head on some broad shoulder and
by being told that it didn't matter, and that she was not to blame if
the world would be wicked and its people unrepentant and ungrateful.
Corrigan, on the third floor, was drunk again and promised trouble.
His voice ascended to the room in which she sat, and made her nervous,
for she was feeling the reaction from the excitement of the night
before. There were heavy footsteps on the stairs, and a child's shrill
voice cried, "She's in there," and, suspecting it might be Corrigan,
she looked up fearfully, and then the door opened and she saw the most
magnificent and the handsomest being in the world. His magnificence
was due to a Bond Street tailor, who had shown how very small a waist
will go with very broad shoulders, and if he was handsome, that was
the tan of a week at sea. But it was not the tan, nor the unusual
length of his coat, that Eleanore saw, but the eager, confident look
in his face - and all she could say was, "Oh, Mr. Wainwright," feebly.

Wainwright waved away all such trifling barriers as "Mister" and
"Miss." He came towards her with his face stern and determined.
"Eleanore," he said, "I have a hansom at the door, and I want you to
come down and get into it."

Was this the young man she had been used to scold and advise and
criticise? She looked at him wondering and happy. It seemed to rest
her eyes just to see him, and she loved his ordering her so, until a
flash of miserable doubt came over her that if he was confident, it
was because he was not only sure of himself, but of some one else on
the other side of the sea.

And all her pride came to her, and thankfulness that she had not shown
him what his coming meant, and she said, "Did my mother send you? How
did you come? Is anything wrong?"

He took her hand in one of his and put his other on top of it firmly.
"Yes," he said. "Everything is wrong. But we'll fix all that."

He did not seem able to go on immediately, but just looked at her.
"Eleanore," he said, "I have been a fool, all sorts of a fool. I came
over here to go back again at once, and I am going back, but not
alone. I have been alone too long. I had begun to fancy there was only
one woman in the world until I came back, and then - something some
man said proved to me there was another one, and that she was the only
one, and that I - had come near losing her. I had tried to forget
about her. I had tried to harden myself to her by thinking she had
been hard to me. I said - she does not care for you as the woman you
love must care for you, but it doesn't matter now whether she cares or
not, for I love _her_ so. I want her to come to me and scold me again,
and tell me how unworthy I am, and make me good and true like herself,
and happy. The rest doesn't count without her, it means nothing to me
unless she takes it and keeps it in trust for me, and shares it with
me." He had both her hands now, and was pressing them against the
flowers in the breast of the long coat.

"Eleanore," he said, "I tried to tell you once of the one thing that
would bring me back and you stopped me. Will you stop me now?"

She tried to look up at him, but she would not let him see the
happiness in her face just then, and lowered it and gently said, "No,
no."

It must have taken him a long time to tell it, for after he had driven
them twice around the Park the driver of the hansom decided that he
could ask eight dollars at the regular rates, and might even venture
on ten, and the result showed that as a judge of human nature he was a
success.

They were married in May, and Lord Lowes acted as best man, and his
sister sent her warmest congratulations and a pair of silver
candlesticks for the dinner-table, which Wainwright thought were very
handsome indeed, but which Miss Cuyler considered a little showy. Van
Bibber and Travers were ushers, and, indeed, it was Van Bibber himself
who closed the door of the carriage upon them as they were starting
forth after the wedding. Mrs. Wainwright said something to her
husband, and he laughed and said, "Van, Mrs. Wainwright says she's
much obliged."

"Yes?" said Van Bibber, pleased and eager, putting his head through
the window of the carriage. "What for, Mrs. Wainwright - the
chafing-dish? Travers gave half, you know."

And then Mrs. Wainwright said, "No; not for the chafing-dish."

And they drove off, laughing.

"Look at 'em," said Travers, morosely. "_They_ don't think the wheels
are going around, do they? _They_ think it is just the earth revolving
with them on top of it, and nobody else. We don't have to say 'please'
to no one, not much! We can do just what we jolly well please, and
dine when we please and wherever we please. You say to me, Travers,
let's go to Pastor's to-night, and I say, I won't, and you say I won't
go to the Casino, because I don't want to, and there you are, and all
we have to do is to agree to go somewhere else."

"I wonder," said Van Bibber, dreamily, as he watched the carriage
disappear down the avenue, "what brings a man to the proposing point?"

"Some other man," said Travers, promptly. "Some man he thinks has
more to do for the girl than he likes."

"Who," persisted Van Bibber, innocently, "do you think was the man in
that case?"

"How should I know?" exclaimed Travers, impatiently, waving away such
unprofitable discussion with a sweep of his stick, and coming down to
the serious affairs of life. "What I want to know is to what theatre
we are going - that's what I want to know."




A RECRUIT AT CHRISTMAS


Young Lieutenant Claflin left the Brooklyn Navy-yard at an early hour,
and arrived at the recruiting-office at ten o'clock. It was the day
before Christmas, and even the Bowery, "the thieves' highway," had
taken on the emblems and spirit of the season, and the young officer
smiled grimly as he saw a hard-faced proprietor of a saloon directing
the hanging of wreaths and crosses over the door of his palace and
telling the assistant barkeeper to make the red holly berries "show
up" better.

The cheap lodging-houses had trailed the green over their illuminated
transoms, and even on Mott Street the Chinamen had hung up strings of
evergreen over the doors of the joss-house and the gambling-house next
door. And the tramps and good-for-nothings, just back from the Island,
had an animated, expectant look, as though something certainly was
going to happen.

Lieutenant Claflin nodded to Corporal Goddard at the door of the
recruiting-office, and startled that veteran's rigidity, and kept his
cotton-gloved hand at his visor longer than the Regulations required,
by saying, "Wish you merry Christmas," as he jumped up the stairs.

The recruiting-office was a dull, blank-looking place, the view from
the windows was not inspiring, and the sight of the plump and
black-eyed Jewess in front of the pawn-shop across the street, who was
a vision of delight to Corporal Goddard, had no attractions to the
officer upstairs. He put on his blue jacket, with the black braid down
the front, lighted a cigar, and wrote letters on every other than
official matters, and forgot about recruits. He was to have leave of
absence on Christmas, and though the others had denounced him for
leaving the mess-table on that day, they had forgiven him when he
explained that he was going to spend it with his people at home. The
others had homes as far away as San Francisco and as far inland as
Milwaukee, and some called the big ship of war home; but Claflin's
people lived up in Connecticut, and he could reach them in a few
hours. He was a very lucky man, the others said, and he felt very


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