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heels when he walked through the gold diggings."

That night came Aunt Ellen, gentle, sentimental, wrinkled, sighing,
oppressed by wealth, in to Brother Anthony at his evening paper, and
began discourse on the subject of lovers' woes.

"He told me all about it," said brother Anthony, yawning. "I told him my
bank account was at his service. And then he began to knock money. Said
money couldn't help. Said the rules of society couldn't be bucked for a
yard by a team of ten-millionaires."

"Oh, Anthony," sighed Aunt Ellen, "I wish you would not think so much of
money. Wealth is nothing where a true affection is concerned. Love is
all-powerful. If he only had spoken earlier! She could not have refused
our Richard. But now I fear it is too late. He will have no opportunity
to address her. All your gold cannot bring happiness to your son."

At eight o'clock the next evening Aunt Ellen took a quaint old gold ring
from a moth-eaten case and gave it to Richard.

"Wear it to-night, nephew," she begged. "Your mother gave it to me. Good
luck in love she said it brought. She asked me to give it to you when
you had found the one you loved."

Young Rockwall took the ring reverently and tried it on his smallest
finger. It slipped as far as the second joint and stopped. He took it
off and stuffed it into his vest pocket, after the manner of man. And
then he 'phoned for his cab.

At the station he captured Miss Lantry out of the gadding mob at eight

"We mustn't keep mamma and the others waiting," said she.

"To Wallack's Theatre as fast as you can drive!" said Richard loyally.

They whirled up Forty-second to Broadway, and then down the
white-starred lane that leads from the soft meadows of sunset to the
rocky hills of morning.

At Thirty-fourth Street young Richard quickly thrust up the trap and
ordered the cabman to stop.

"I've dropped a ring," he apologised, as he climbed out. "It was my
mother's, and I'd hate to lose it. I won't detain you a minute - I saw
where it fell."

In less than a minute he was back in the cab with the ring.

But within that minute a crosstown car had stopped directly in front of
the cab. The cabman tried to pass to the left, but a heavy express wagon
cut him off. He tried the right, and had to back away from a furniture
van that had no business to be there. He tried to back out, but dropped
his reins and swore dutifully. He was blockaded in a tangled mess of
vehicles and horses.

One of those street blockades had occurred that sometimes tie up
commerce and movement quite suddenly in the big city.

"Why don't you drive on?" said Miss Lantry, impatiently. "We'll be

Richard stood up in the cab and looked around. He saw a congested flood
of wagons, trucks, cabs, vans and street cars filling the vast space
where Broadway, Sixth Avenue and Thirty-fourth street cross one another
as a twenty-six inch maiden fills her twenty-two inch girdle. And still
from all the cross streets they were hurrying and rattling toward
the converging point at full speed, and hurling themselves into the
struggling mass, locking wheels and adding their drivers' imprecations
to the clamour. The entire traffic of Manhattan seemed to have jammed
itself around them. The oldest New Yorker among the thousands of
spectators that lined the sidewalks had not witnessed a street blockade
of the proportions of this one.

"I'm very sorry," said Richard, as he resumed his seat, "but it looks as
if we are stuck. They won't get this jumble loosened up in an hour. It
was my fault. If I hadn't dropped the ring we - "

"Let me see the ring," said Miss Lantry. "Now that it can't be helped,
I don't care. I think theatres are stupid, anyway."

At 11 o'clock that night somebody tapped lightly on Anthony Rockwall's

"Come in," shouted Anthony, who was in a red dressing-gown, reading a
book of piratical adventures.

Somebody was Aunt Ellen, looking like a grey-haired angel that had been
left on earth by mistake.

"They're engaged, Anthony," she said, softly. "She has promised to marry
our Richard. On their way to the theatre there was a street blockade,
and it was two hours before their cab could get out of it.

"And oh, brother Anthony, don't ever boast of the power of money again.
A little emblem of true love - a little ring that symbolised unending
and unmercenary affection - was the cause of our Richard finding his
happiness. He dropped it in the street, and got out to recover it. And
before they could continue the blockade occurred. He spoke to his love
and won her there while the cab was hemmed in. Money is dross compared
with true love, Anthony."

"All right," said old Anthony. "I'm glad the boy has got what he wanted.
I told him I wouldn't spare any expense in the matter if - "

"But, brother Anthony, what good could your money have done?"

"Sister," said Anthony Rockwall. "I've got my pirate in a devil of a
scrape. His ship has just been scuttled, and he's too good a judge of
the value of money to let drown. I wish you would let me go on with
this chapter."

The story should end here. I wish it would as heartily as you who read
it wish it did. But we must go to the bottom of the well for truth.

The next day a person with red hands and a blue polka-dot necktie, who
called himself Kelly, called at Anthony Rockwall's house, and was at
once received in the library.

"Well," said Anthony, reaching for his chequebook, "it was a good bilin'
of soap. Let's see - you had $5,000 in cash."

"I paid out $300 more of my own," said Kelly. "I had to go a little
above the estimate. I got the express wagons and cabs mostly for $5; but
the trucks and two-horse teams mostly raised me to $10. The motormen
wanted $10, and some of the loaded teams $20. The cops struck me
hardest - $50 I paid two, and the rest $20 and $25. But didn't it work
beautiful, Mr. Rockwall? I'm glad William A. Brady wasn't onto that
little outdoor vehicle mob scene. I wouldn't want William to break his
heart with jealousy. And never a rehearsal, either! The boys was on time
to the fraction of a second. It was two hours before a snake could get
below Greeley's statue."

"Thirteen hundred - there you are, Kelly," said Anthony, tearing off a
check. "Your thousand, and the $300 you were out. You don't despise
money, do you, Kelly?"

"Me?" said Kelly. "I can lick the man that invented poverty."

Anthony called Kelly when he was at the door.

"You didn't notice," said he, "anywhere in the tie-up, a kind of a fat
boy without any clothes on shooting arrows around with a bow, did you?"

"Why, no," said Kelly, mystified. "I didn't. If he was like you say,
maybe the cops pinched him before I got there."

"I thought the little rascal wouldn't be on hand," chuckled Anthony.
"Good-by, Kelly."


It was a day in March.

Never, never begin a story this way when you write one. No opening could
possibly be worse. It is unimaginative, flat, dry and likely to consist
of mere wind. But in this instance it is allowable. For the following
paragraph, which should have inaugurated the narrative, is too wildly
extravagant and preposterous to be flaunted in the face of the reader
without preparation.

Sarah was crying over her bill of fare.

Think of a New York girl shedding tears on the menu card!

To account for this you will be allowed to guess that the lobsters were
all out, or that she had sworn ice-cream off during Lent, or that she
had ordered onions, or that she had just come from a Hackett matinee.
And then, all these theories being wrong, you will please let the story

The gentleman who announced that the world was an oyster which he with
his sword would open made a larger hit than he deserved. It is not
difficult to open an oyster with a sword. But did you ever notice any
one try to open the terrestrial bivalve with a typewriter? Like to wait
for a dozen raw opened that way?

Sarah had managed to pry apart the shells with her unhandy weapon far
enough to nibble a wee bit at the cold and clammy world within. She knew
no more shorthand than if she had been a graduate in stenography just
let slip upon the world by a business college. So, not being able to
stenog, she could not enter that bright galaxy of office talent. She was
a free-lance typewriter and canvassed for odd jobs of copying.

The most brilliant and crowning feat of Sarah's battle with the world
was the deal she made with Schulenberg's Home Restaurant. The restaurant
was next door to the old red brick in which she ball-roomed. One
evening after dining at Schulenberg's 40-cent, five-course _table
d'hôte_ (served as fast as you throw the five baseballs at the coloured
gentleman's head) Sarah took away with her the bill of fare. It was
written in an almost unreadable script neither English nor German, and
so arranged that if you were not careful you began with a toothpick and
rice pudding and ended with soup and the day of the week.

The next day Sarah showed Schulenberg a neat card on which the menu was
beautifully typewritten with the viands temptingly marshalled under
their right and proper heads from "hors d'oeuvre" to "not responsible
for overcoats and umbrellas."

Schulenberg became a naturalised citizen on the spot. Before Sarah left
him she had him willingly committed to an agreement. She was to furnish
typewritten bills of fare for the twenty-one tables in the restaurant - a
new bill for each day's dinner, and new ones for breakfast and lunch as
often as changes occurred in the food or as neatness required.

In return for this Schulenberg was to send three meals per diem to
Sarah's hall room by a waiter - an obsequious one if possible - and
furnish her each afternoon with a pencil draft of what Fate had in
store for Schulenberg's customers on the morrow.

Mutual satisfaction resulted from the agreement. Schulenberg's patrons
now knew what the food they ate was called even if its nature sometimes
puzzled them. And Sarah had food during a cold, dull winter, which was
the main thing with her.

And then the almanac lied, and said that spring had come. Spring comes
when it comes. The frozen snows of January still lay like adamant in
the crosstown streets. The hand-organs still played "In the Good Old
Summertime," with their December vivacity and expression. Men began to
make thirty-day notes to buy Easter dresses. Janitors shut off steam.
And when these things happen one may know that the city is still in the
clutches of winter.

One afternoon Sarah shivered in her elegant hall bedroom; "house heated;
scrupulously clean; conveniences; seen to be appreciated." She had no
work to do except Schulenberg's menu cards. Sarah sat in her squeaky
willow rocker, and looked out the window. The calendar on the wall kept
crying to her: "Springtime is here, Sarah - springtime is here, I tell
you. Look at me, Sarah, my figures show it. You've got a neat figure
yourself, Sarah - a - nice springtime figure - why do you look out the
window so sadly?"

Sarah's room was at the back of the house. Looking out the window she
could see the windowless rear brick wall of the box factory on the next
street. But the wall was clearest crystal; and Sarah was looking down a
grassy lane shaded with cherry trees and elms and bordered with
raspberry bushes and Cherokee roses.

Spring's real harbingers are too subtle for the eye and ear. Some must
have the flowering crocus, the wood-starring dogwood, the voice of
bluebird - even so gross a reminder as the farewell handshake of the
retiring buckwheat and oyster before they can welcome the Lady in
Green to their dull bosoms. But to old earth's choicest kin there come
straight, sweet messages from his newest bride, telling them they shall
be no stepchildren unless they choose to be.

On the previous summer Sarah had gone into the country and loved a

(In writing your story never hark back thus. It is bad art, and cripples
interest. Let it march, march.)

Sarah stayed two weeks at Sunnybrook Farm. There she learned to love old
Farmer Franklin's son Walter. Farmers have been loved and wedded and
turned out to grass in less time. But young Walter Franklin was a modern
agriculturist. He had a telephone in his cow house, and he could figure
up exactly what effect next year's Canada wheat crop would have on
potatoes planted in the dark of the moon.

It was in this shaded and raspberried lane that Walter had wooed and won
her. And together they had sat and woven a crown of dandelions for her
hair. He had immoderately praised the effect of the yellow blossoms
against her brown tresses; and she had left the chaplet there, and
walked back to the house swinging her straw sailor in her hands.

They were to marry in the spring - at the very first signs of spring,
Walter said. And Sarah came back to the city to pound her typewriter.

A knock at the door dispelled Sarah's visions of that happy day. A
waiter had brought the rough pencil draft of the Home Restaurant's next
day fare in old Schulenberg's angular hand.

Sarah sat down to her typewriter and slipped a card between the rollers.
She was a nimble worker. Generally in an hour and a half the twenty-one
menu cards were written and ready.

To-day there were more changes on the bill of fare than usual. The soups
were lighter; pork was eliminated from the entrées, figuring only with
Russian turnips among the roasts. The gracious spirit of spring pervaded
the entire menu. Lamb, that lately capered on the greening hillsides,
was becoming exploited with the sauce that commemorated its gambols. The
song of the oyster, though not silenced, was _dimuendo con amore_. The
frying-pan seemed to be held, inactive, behind the beneficent bars of
the broiler. The pie list swelled; the richer puddings had vanished;
the sausage, with his drapery wrapped about him, barely lingered in a
pleasant thanatopsis with the buckwheats and the sweet but doomed maple.

Sarah's fingers danced like midgets above a summer stream. Down through
the courses she worked, giving each item its position according to its
length with an accurate eye. Just above the desserts came the list of
vegetables. Carrots and peas, asparagus on toast, the perennial tomatoes
and corn and succotash, lima beans, cabbage - and then -

Sarah was crying over her bill of fare. Tears from the depths of some
divine despair rose in her heart and gathered to her eyes. Down went her
head on the little typewriter stand; and the keyboard rattled a dry
accompaniment to her moist sobs.

For she had received no letter from Walter in two weeks, and the next
item on the bill of fare was dandelions - dandelions with some kind of
egg - but bother the egg! - dandelions, with whose golden blooms Walter
had crowned her his queen of love and future bride - dandelions, the
harbingers of spring, her sorrow's crown of sorrow - reminder of her
happiest days.

Madam, I dare you to smile until you suffer this test: Let the Marechal
Niel roses that Percy brought you on the night you gave him your
heart be served as a salad with French dressing before your eyes
at a Schulenberg _table d'hôte_. Had Juliet so seen her love tokens
dishonoured the sooner would she have sought the lethean herbs of the
good apothecary.

But what a witch is Spring! Into the great cold city of stone and iron a
message had to be sent. There was none to convey it but the little hardy
courier of the fields with his rough green coat and modest air. He is a
true soldier of fortune, this _dent-de-lion_ - this lion's tooth, as the
French chefs call him. Flowered, he will assist at love-making, wreathed
in my lady's nut-brown hair; young and callow and unblossomed, he goes
into the boiling pot and delivers the word of his sovereign mistress.

By and by Sarah forced back her tears. The cards must be written. But,
still in a faint, golden glow from her dandeleonine dream, she fingered
the typewriter keys absently for a little while, with her mind and heart
in the meadow lane with her young farmer. But soon she came swiftly back
to the rock-bound lanes of Manhattan, and the typewriter began to rattle
and jump like a strike-breaker's motor car.

At 6 o'clock the waiter brought her dinner and carried away the
typewritten bill of fare. When Sarah ate she set aside, with a sigh,
the dish of dandelions with its crowning ovarious accompaniment. As this
dark mass had been transformed from a bright and love-indorsed flower
to be an ignominious vegetable, so had her summer hopes wilted and
perished. Love may, as Shakespeare said, feed on itself: but Sarah could
not bring herself to eat the dandelions that had graced, as ornaments,
the first spiritual banquet of her heart's true affection.

At 7:30 the couple in the next room began to quarrel: the man in the
room above sought for A on his flute; the gas went a little lower; three
coal wagons started to unload - the only sound of which the phonograph is
jealous; cats on the back fences slowly retreated toward Mukden. By
these signs Sarah knew that it was time for her to read. She got out
"The Cloister and the Hearth," the best non-selling book of the month,
settled her feet on her trunk, and began to wander with Gerard.

The front door bell rang. The landlady answered it. Sarah left Gerard
and Denys treed by a bear and listened. Oh, yes; you would, just as she

And then a strong voice was heard in the hall below, and Sarah jumped
for her door, leaving the book on the floor and the first round easily
the bear's. You have guessed it. She reached the top of the stairs just
as her farmer came up, three at a jump, and reaped and garnered her,
with nothing left for the gleaners.

"Why haven't you written - oh, why?" cried Sarah.

"New York is a pretty large town," said Walter Franklin. "I came in a
week ago to your old address. I found that you went away on a Thursday.
That consoled some; it eliminated the possible Friday bad luck. But it
didn't prevent my hunting for you with police and otherwise ever since!

"I wrote!" said Sarah, vehemently.

"Never got it!"

"Then how did you find me?"

The young farmer smiled a springtime smile.

"I dropped into that Home Restaurant next door this evening," said he.
"I don't care who knows it; I like a dish of some kind of greens at this
time of the year. I ran my eye down that nice typewritten bill of fare
looking for something in that line. When I got below cabbage I turned my
chair over and hollered for the proprietor. He told me where you lived."

"I remember," sighed Sarah, happily. "That was dandelions below

"I'd know that cranky capital W 'way above the line that your typewriter
makes anywhere in the world," said Franklin.

"Why, there's no W in dandelions," said Sarah, in surprise.

The young man drew the bill of fare from his pocket, and pointed to a

Sarah recognised the first card she had typewritten that afternoon.
There was still the rayed splotch in the upper right-hand corner where a
tear had fallen. But over the spot where one should have read the name
of the meadow plant, the clinging memory of their golden blossoms had
allowed her fingers to strike strange keys.

Between the red cabbage and the stuffed green peppers was the item:



Suppose you should be walking down Broadway after dinner, with ten
minutes allotted to the consummation of your cigar while you are
choosing between a diverting tragedy and something serious in the way
of vaudeville. Suddenly a hand is laid upon your arm. You turn to look
into the thrilling eyes of a beautiful woman, wonderful in diamonds and
Russian sables. She thrusts hurriedly into your hand an extremely hot
buttered roll, flashes out a tiny pair of scissors, snips off the
second button of your overcoat, meaningly ejaculates the one word,
"parallelogram!" and swiftly flies down a cross street, looking back
fearfully over her shoulder.

That would be pure adventure. Would you accept it? Not you. You would
flush with embarrassment; you would sheepishly drop the roll and
continue down Broadway, fumbling feebly for the missing button. This you
would do unless you are one of the blessed few in whom the pure spirit
of adventure is not dead.

True adventurers have never been plentiful. They who are set down in
print as such have been mostly business men with newly invented methods.
They have been out after the things they wanted - golden fleeces, holy
grails, lady loves, treasure, crowns and fame. The true adventurer goes
forth aimless and uncalculating to meet and greet unknown fate. A fine
example was the Prodigal Son - when he started back home.

Half-adventurers - brave and splendid figures - have been numerous. From
the Crusades to the Palisades they have enriched the arts of history
and fiction and the trade of historical fiction. But each of them had
a prize to win, a goal to kick, an axe to grind, a race to run, a new
thrust in tierce to deliver, a name to carve, a crow to pick - so they
were not followers of true adventure.

In the big city the twin spirits Romance and Adventure are always abroad
seeking worthy wooers. As we roam the streets they slyly peep at us and
challenge us in twenty different guises. Without knowing why, we look up
suddenly to see in a window a face that seems to belong to our gallery
of intimate portraits; in a sleeping thoroughfare we hear a cry of agony
and fear coming from an empty and shuttered house; instead of at our
familiar curb, a cab-driver deposits us before a strange door, which
one, with a smile, opens for us and bids us enter; a slip of paper,
written upon, flutters down to our feet from the high lattices of
Chance; we exchange glances of instantaneous hate, affection and
fear with hurrying strangers in the passing crowds; a sudden douse of
rain - and our umbrella may be sheltering the daughter of the Full Moon
and first cousin of the Sidereal System; at every corner handkerchiefs
drop, fingers beckon, eyes besiege, and the lost, the lonely, the
rapturous, the mysterious, the perilous, changing clues of adventure are
slipped into our fingers. But few of us are willing to hold and follow
them. We are grown stiff with the ramrod of convention down our backs.
We pass on; and some day we come, at the end of a very dull life, to
reflect that our romance has been a pallid thing of a marriage or two,
a satin rosette kept in a safe-deposit drawer, and a lifelong feud with
a steam radiator.

Rudolf Steiner was a true adventurer. Few were the evenings on which he
did not go forth from his hall bedchamber in search of the unexpected
and the egregious. The most interesting thing in life seemed to him to
be what might lie just around the next corner. Sometimes his willingness
to tempt fate led him into strange paths. Twice he had spent the night
in a station-house; again and again he had found himself the dupe of
ingenious and mercenary tricksters; his watch and money had been the
price of one flattering allurement. But with undiminished ardour he
picked up every glove cast before him into the merry lists of adventure.

One evening Rudolf was strolling along a crosstown street in the
older central part of the city. Two streams of people filled the
sidewalks - the home-hurrying, and that restless contingent that
abandons home for the specious welcome of the thousand-candle-power
_table d'hôte_.

The young adventurer was of pleasing presence, and moved serenely and
watchfully. By daylight he was a salesman in a piano store. He wore his
tie drawn through a topaz ring instead of fastened with a stick pin; and
once he had written to the editor of a magazine that "Junie's Love Test"
by Miss Libbey, had been the book that had most influenced his life.

During his walk a violent chattering of teeth in a glass case on the
sidewalk seemed at first to draw his attention (with a qualm), to a
restaurant before which it was set; but a second glance revealed the
electric letters of a dentist's sign high above the next door. A giant
negro, fantastically dressed in a red embroidered coat, yellow trousers
and a military cap, discreetly distributed cards to those of the passing
crowd who consented to take them.

This mode of dentistic advertising was a common sight to Rudolf. Usually
he passed the dispenser of the dentist's cards without reducing his
store; but tonight the African slipped one into his hand so deftly that
he retained it there smiling a little at the successful feat.

When he had travelled a few yards further he glanced at the card
indifferently. Surprised, he turned it over and looked again with

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Online LibraryO. HenryThe Four Million → online text (page 7 of 12)