Old Rogaum and His Theresa
by Theodore Dreiser
In all Bleecker Street was no more comfortable doorway than
that of the butcher Rogaum, even if the first floor was
given over to meat market purposes. It was to one side of
the main entrance, which gave ingress to the butcher shop,
and from it led up a flight of steps, at least five feet
wide, to the living rooms above. A little portico stood out
in front of it, railed on either side, and within was a
second or final door, forming, with the outer or storm
door, a little area, where Mrs. Rogaum and her children
frequently sat of a summer's evening. The outer door was
never locked, owing to the inconvenience it would inflict
on Mr. Rogaum, who had no other way of getting upstairs. In
winter, when all had gone to bed, there had been cases in
which belated travelers had taken refuge there from the
snow or sleet. One or two newsboys occasionally slept
there, until routed out by Officer Maguire, who, seeing it
half open one morning at two o'clock, took occasion to look
in. He jogged the newsboys sharply with his stick, and
then, when they were gone, tried the inner door, which was
"You ought to keep that outer door locked, Rogaum," he
observed to the phlegmatic butcher the next evening, as he
was passing, "people might get in. A couple o' kids was
sleepin' in there last night."
"Ach, dot iss no difference," answered Rogaum pleasantly.
"I haf der inner door locked, yet. Let dem sleep. Dot iss
"Better lock it," said the officer, more to vindicate his
authority than anything else. "Something will happen there
The door was never locked, however, and now of a summer
evening Mrs. Rogaum and the children made pleasant use of
its recess, watching the rout of street cars and
occasionally belated trucks go by. The children played on
the sidewalk, all except the budding Theresa (eighteen just
turning), who, with one companion of the neighborhood, the
pretty Kenrihan girl, walked up and down the block,
laughing, glancing, watching the boys. Old Mrs. Kenrihan
lived in the next block, and there, sometimes, the two
stopped. There, also, they most frequently pretended to be
when talking with the boys in the intervening side street.
Young "Connie" Almerting and George Goujon were the bright
particular mashers who held the attention of the maidens in
this block. These two made their acquaintance in the
customary bold, boyish way, and thereafter the girls had an
urgent desire to be out in the street together after eight,
and to linger where the boys could see and overtake them.
Old Mrs. Rogaum never knew. She was a particularly fat, old
German lady, completely dominated by her liege and portly
lord, and at nine o'clock regularly, as he had long ago
deemed meet and fit, she was wont to betake her way upward
and so to bed. Old Rogaum himself, at that hour, closed the
market and went to his chamber.
Before that all the children were called sharply, once from
the doorstep below and once from the window above, only
Mrs. Rogaum did it first and Rogaum last. It had come,
because of a shade of lenience, not wholly apparent in the
father's nature, that the older of the children needed two
callings and sometimes three. Theresa, now that she had
"got in" with the Kenrihan maiden, needed that many calls
and even more.
She was just at that age for which mere thoughtless,
sensory life holds its greatest charm. She loved to walk up
and down in the as yet bright street where were voices and
laughter, and occasionally moonlight streaming down. What a
nuisance it was to be called at nine, anyhow. Why should
one have to go in then, anyhow. What old fogies her parents
were, wishing to go to bed so early. Mrs. Kenrihan was not
so strict with her daughter. It made her pettish when
Rogaum insisted, calling as he often did, in German, "Come
you now," in a very hoarse and belligerent voice.
She came, eventually, frowning and wretched, all the
moonlight calling her, all the voices of the night urging
her to come back. Her innate opposition due to her urgent
youth made her coming later and later, however, until now,
by August of this, her eighteenth year, it was nearly ten
when she entered, and Rogaum was almost invariably angry.
"I vill lock you oudt," he declared, in strongly accented
English, while she tried to slip by him each time. "I vill
show you. Du sollst come ven I say, yet. Hear now."
"I'll not," answered Theresa, but it was always under her
Poor Mrs. Rogaum troubled at hearing the wrath in her
husband's voice. It spoke of harder and fiercer times which
had been with her. Still she was not powerful enough in the
family councils to put in a weighty word. So Rogaum fumed
There were other nights, however, many of them, and now
that the young sparks of the neighborhood had enlisted the
girls' attention, it was a more trying time than ever.
Never did a street seem more beautiful. Its shabby red
walls, dusty pavements and protruding store steps and iron
railings seemed bits of the ornamental paraphernalia of
heaven itself. These lights, the cars, the moon, the street
lamps! Theresa had a tender eye for the dashing Almerting,
a young idler and loafer of the district, the son of a
stationer farther up the street. What a fine fellow he was,
indeed! What a handsome nose and chin! What eyes! What
authority! His cigarette was always cocked at a high angle,
in her presence, and his hat had the least suggestion of
being set to one side. He had a shrewd way of winking one
eye, taking her boldly by the arm, hailing her as, "Hey,
Pretty!" and was strong and athletic and worked (when he
worked) in a tobacco factory. His was a trade, indeed,
nearly acquired, as he said, and his jingling pockets
attested that he had money of his own. Altogether he was
"Aw, whaddy ya want to go in for?" he used to say to her,
tossing his head gayly on one side to listen and holding
her by the arm, as old Rogaum called. "Tell him yuh didn't
"No, I've got to go," said the girl, who was soft and plump
and fair--a Rhine maiden type.
"Well, yuh don't have to go just yet. Stay another minute.
George, what was that fellow's name that tried to sass us
the other day?"
"Theresa!" roared old Rogaum forcefully. "If you do not now
come! Ve vill see!"
"I've got to go," repeated Theresa with a faint effort at
starting. "Can't you hear? Don't hold me. I haf to."
"Aw, whaddy ya want to be such a coward for? Y' don't have
to go. He won't do nothin' tuh yuh. My old man was always
hollerin' like that up tuh a coupla years ago. Let him
holler! Say, kid, but yuh got sweet eyes! They're as blue!
An' your mouth--"
"Now stop! You hear me!" Theresa would protest softly, as,
swiftly, he would slip an arm about her waist and draw her
to him, sometimes in a vain, sometimes in a successful
effort to kiss her.
As a rule she managed to interpose an elbow between her
face and his, but even then he would manage to touch an ear
or a cheek or her neck--sometimes her mouth, full and
warm--before she would develop sufficient energy to push
him away and herself free. Then she would protest mock
earnestly or sometimes run away.
"Now, I'll never speak to you any more, if that's the way
you're going to do. My father don't allow me to kiss boys,
anyhow," and then she would run, half ashamed, half smiling
to herself as he would stare after her, or if she lingered,
develop a kind of anger and even rage.
"Aw, cut it! Whaddy ya want to be so shy for? Dontcha like
me? What's gettin' into yuh, anyhow? Hey?"
In the meantime George Goujon and Myrtle Kenrihan, their
companions, might be sweeting and going through a similar
contest, perhaps a hundred feet up the street or near at
hand. The quality of old Rogaum's voice would by now have
become so raucous, however, that Theresa would have lost
all comfort in the scene and, becoming frightened, hurry
away. Then it was often that both Almerting and Goujon as
well as Myrtle Kenrihan would follow her to the corner,
almost in sight of the irate old butcher.
"Let him call," young Almerting would insist, laying a
final hold on her soft white fingers and causing her to
"Oh, no," she would gasp nervously. "I can't."
"Well, go on, then," he would say, and with a flip of his
heel would turn back, leaving Theresa to wonder whether she
had alienated him forever or no. Then she would hurry to
her father's door.
"Muss ich all my time spenden calling, mit you on de
streeds oudt?" old Rogaum would roar wrathfully, the while
his fat hand would descend on her back. "Take dot now. Vy
don'd you come ven I call? In now. I vill show you. Und
come you yussed vunce more at dis time--ve vill see if I am
boss in my own house, aber! Komst du vun minute nach ten
to-morrow und you vill see vot you vill get. I vill der
door lock. Du sollst not in kommen. Mark! Oudt sollst du
stayen--oudt!" and he would glare wrathfully at her
Sometimes Theresa would whimper, sometimes cry or sulk. She
almost hated her father for his cruelty, "the big, fat,
rough thing," and just because she wanted to stay out in
the bright streets, too! Because he was old and stout and
wanted to go to bed at ten, he thought every one else did.
And outside was the dark sky with its stars, the street
lamps, the cars, the tinkle and laughter of eternal life!
"Oh!" she would sigh as she undressed and crawled into her
small neat bed. To think that she had to live like this all
her days! At the same time old Rogaum was angry and equally
determined. It was not so much that he imagined that his
Theresa was in bad company as yet, but he wished to
forefend against possible danger. This was not a good
neighborhood by any means. The boys around here were tough.
He wanted Theresa to pick some nice sober youth from among
the other Germans he and his wife knew here and there--at
the Lutheran Church, for instance. Otherwise she shouldn't
marry. He knew she only walked from his shop to the door of
the Kenrihans and back again. Had not his wife told him so?
If he had thought upon what far pilgrimage her feet had
already ventured, or had even seen the dashing Almerting
hanging near, then had there been wrath indeed. As it was,
his mind was more or less at ease.
On many, many evenings it was much the same. Sometimes she
got in on time, sometimes not, but more and more "Connie"
Almerting claimed her for his "steady," and bought her
ice-cream. In the range of the short block and its
confining corners it was all done, lingering by the
curbstone and strolling a half block either way in the side
streets, until she had offended seriously at home, and the
threat was repeated anew. He often tried to persuade her to
go on picnics or outings of various kinds, but this,
somehow, was not to be thought of at her age--at least with
him. She knew her father would never endure the thought,
and never even had the courage to mention it, let alone run
away. Mere lingering with him at the adjacent street
corners brought stronger and stronger admonishments--even
more blows and the threat that she should not get in at
Well enough she meant to obey, but on one radiant night
late in June the time fled too fast. The moon was so
bright, the air so soft. The feel of far summer things was
in the wind and even in this dusty street. Theresa, in a
newly starched white summer dress, had been loitering up
and down with Myrtle when as usual they encountered
Almerting and Goujon. Now it was ten, and the regular calls
"Aw, wait a minute," said "Connie." "Stand still. He won't
lock yuh out."
"But he will, though," said Theresa. "You don't know him."
"Well, if he does, come on back to me. I'll take care of
yuh. I'll be here. But he won't though. If you stayed out a
little while he'd letcha in all right. That's the way my
old man used to try to do me but it didn't work with me. I
stayed out an' he let me in, just the same. Don'tcha let
him kidja." He jingled some loose change in his pocket
Never in his life had he had a girl on his hands at any
unseasonable hour, but it was nice to talk big, and there
was a club to which he belonged, The Varick Street
Roosters, and to which he had a key. It would be closed and
empty at this hour, and she could stay there until morning,
if need be or with Myrtle Kenrihan. He would take her there
if she insisted. There was a sinister grin on the youth's
By now Theresa's affections had carried her far. This youth
with his slim body, his delicate strong hands, his fine
chin, straight mouth and hard dark eyes--how wonderful he
seemed! He was but nineteen to her eighteen but cold,
shrewd, daring. Yet how tender he seemed to her, how well
worth having! Always, when he kissed her now, she trembled
in the balance. There was something in the iron grasp of
his fingers that went through her like fire. His glance
held hers at times when she could scarcely endure it.
"I'll wait, anyhow," he insisted.
Longer and longer she lingered, but now for once no voice
She began to feel that something was wrong--a greater
strain than if old Rogaum's voice had been filling the
"I've got to go," she said.
"Gee, but you're a coward, yuh are!" said he derisively.
"What 'r yuh always so scared about? He always says he'll
lock yuh out, but he never does."
"Yes, but he will," she insisted nervously. "I think he has
this time. You don't know him. He's something awful when he
gets real mad. Oh, Connie, I must go!" For the sixth or
seventh time she moved, and once more he caught her arm and
waist and tried to kiss her, but she slipped away from him.
"Ah, yuh!" he exclaimed. "I wish he would lock yuh out!"
At her own doorstep she paused momentarily, more to soften
her progress than anything. The outer door was open as
usual, but not the inner. She tried it, but it would not
give. It was locked! For a moment she paused, cold fear
racing over her body, and then knocked.
Again she rattled the door, this time nervously, and was
about to cry out.
Still no answer.
At last she heard her father's voice, hoarse and
indifferent, not addressed to her at all, but to her
"Let her go, now," it said savagely, from the front room
where he supposed she could not hear. "I vill her a lesson
"Hadn't you better let her in now, yet?" pleaded Mrs.
"No," insisted Mr. Rogaum. "Nefer! Let her go now. If she
vill alvays stay oudt, let her stay now. Ve vill see how
she likes dot."
His voice was rich in wrath, and he was saving up a good
beating for her into the bargain, that she knew. She would
have to wait and wait and plead, and when she was
thoroughly wretched and subdued he would let her in and
beat her--such a beating as she had never received in all
her born days.
Again the door rattled, and still she got no answer. Not
even her call brought a sound.
Now, strangely, a new element, not heretofore apparent in
her nature but nevertheless wholly there, was called into
life, springing in action as Diana, full formed. Why should
he always be so harsh? She hadn't done anything but stay
out a little later than usual. He was always so anxious to
keep her in and subdue her. For once the cold chill of her
girlish fears left her, and she wavered angrily.
"All right," she said, some old German stubbornness
springing up, "I won't knock. You don't need to let me in,
A suggestion of tears was in her eyes, but she backed
firmly out onto the stoop and sat down, hesitating. Old
Rogaum saw her, lowering down from the lattice, but said
nothing. He would teach her for once what were proper
At the corner, standing, Almerting also saw her. He
recognized the simple white dress, and paused steadily, a
strange thrill racing over him. Really they had locked her
out! Gee, this was new. It was great, in a way. There she
was, white, quiet, shut out, waiting at her father's
Sitting thus, Theresa pondered a moment, her girlish
rashness and anger dominating her. Her pride was hurt and
she felt revengeful. They would shut her out, would they?
All right, she would go out and they should look to it how
they would get her back--the old curmudgeons. For the
moment the home of Myrtle Kenrihan came to her as a
possible refuge, but she decided that she need not go there
yet. She had better wait about awhile and see--or walk and
frighten them. He would beat her, would he? Well, maybe he
would and maybe he wouldn't. She might come back, but still
that was a thing afar off. Just now it didn't matter so
much. "Connie" was still there on the corner. He loved her
dearly. She felt it.
Getting up, she stepped to the now quieting sidewalk and
strolled up the street. It was a rather nervous procedure,
however. There were street cars still, and stores lighted
and people passing, but soon these would not be, and she
was locked out. The side streets were already little more
than long silent walks and gleaming rows of lamps.
At the corner her youthful lover almost pounced upon her.
"Locked out, are yuh?" he asked, his eyes shining.
For the moment she was delighted to see him, for a nameless
dread had already laid hold of her. Home meant so much. Up
to now it had been her whole life.
"Yes," she answered feebly.
"Well, let's stroll on a little," said the boy. He had not
as yet quite made up his mind what to do, but the night was
young. It was so fine to have her with him--his.
At the farther corner they passed Officers Maguire and
Delahanty, idly swinging their clubs and discussing
"'Tis a shame," Officer Delahanty was saying, "the way
things are run now," but he paused to add, "Ain't that old
Rogaum's girl over there with young Almerting?"
"It is," replied Maguire, looking after.
"Well, I'm thinkin' he'd better be keepin' an eye on her,"
said the former. "She's too young to be runnin' around with
the likes o' him."
Maguire agreed. "He's a young tough," he observed. "I never
liked him. He's too fresh. He works over here in Myer's
tobacco factory, and belongs to The Roosters. He's up to no
good, I'll warrant that."
"Teach 'em a lesson, I would," Almerting was saying to
Theresa as they strolled on. "We'll walk around a while an'
make 'em think yuh mean business. They won't lock yuh out
any more. If they don't let yuh in when we come back I'll
find yuh a place, all right."
His sharp eyes were gleaming as he looked around into her
own. Already he had made up his mind that she should not go
back if he could help it. He knew a better place than home
for this night, anyhow--the club room of the Roosters, if
nowhere else. They could stay there for a time, anyhow.
By now old Rogaum, who had seen her walking up the street
alone, was marveling at her audacity, but thought she would
soon come back. It was amazing that she should exhibit such
temerity, but he would teach her! Such a whipping! At
half-past ten, however, he stuck his head out of the open
window and saw nothing of her. At eleven, the same. Then he
walked the floor.
At first wrathful, then nervous, then nervous and wrathful,
he finally ended all nervous, without a scintilla of wrath.
His stout wife sat up in bed and began to wring her hands.
"Lie down!" he commanded. "You make me sick. I know vot I
"Is she still at der door?" pleaded the mother.
"No," he said. "I don't tink so. She should come ven I
His nerves were weakening, however, and now they finally
"She vent de stread up," he said anxiously after a time. "I
vill go after."
Slipping on his coat, he went down the stairs and out into
the night. It was growing late, and the stillness and gloom
of midnight were nearing. Nowhere in sight was his Theresa.
First one way and then another he went, looking here,
there, everywhere, finally groaning.
"Ach, Gott!" he said, the sweat bursting out on his brow,
"vot in Teufel's name iss dis?"
He thought he would seek a policeman, but there was none.
Officer Maguire had long since gone for a quiet game in one
of the neighboring saloons. His partner had temporarily
returned to his own beat. Still old Rogaum hunted on,
worrying more and more.
Finally he bethought him to hasten home again, for she must
have got back. Mrs. Rogaum, too, would be frantic if she
had not. If she were not there he must go to the police.
Such a night! And his Theresa-- This thing could not go on.
As he turned into his own corner he almost ran, coming up
to the little portico wet and panting. At a puffing step he
turned, and almost fell over a white body at his feet, a
prone and writhing woman.
"Ach, Gott!" he cried aloud, almost shouting in his
distress and excitement. "Theresa, vot iss dis? Wilhelmina,
a light now. Bring a light now, I say, for himmel's sake!
Theresa hat sich umgebracht. Help!"
He had fallen to his knees and was turning over the
writhing, groaning figure. By the pale light of the street,
however, he could make out that it was not his Theresa,
fortunately, as he had at first feared, but another and yet
there was something very like her in the figure.
"Um!" said the stranger weakly. "Ah!"
The dress was gray, not white as was his Theresa's, but the
body was round and plump. It cut the fiercest cords of his
intensity, this thought of death to a young woman, but
there was something else about the situation which made him
forget his own troubles.
Mrs. Rogaum, loudly admonished, almost tumbled down the
stairs. At the foot she held the light she had brought--a
small glass oil-lamp--and then nearly dropped it. A fairly
attractive figure, more girl than woman, rich in all the
physical charms that characterize a certain type, lay near
to dying. Her soft hair had fallen back over a good
forehead, now quite white. Her pretty hands, well decked
with rings, were clutched tightly in an agonized grip. At
her neck a blue silk shirtwaist and light lace collar were
torn away where she had clutched herself, and on the white
flesh was a yellow stain as of one who had been burned. A
strange odor reeked in the area, and in one corner was a
"Ach, Gott!" exclaimed Mrs. Rogaum. "It iss a vooman! She
haf herself gekilt. Run for der police! Oh, my! oh, my!"
Rogaum did not kneel for more than a moment. Somehow, this
creature's fate seemed in some psychic way identified with
that of his own daughter. He bounded up, and jumping out
his front door, began to call lustily for the police.
Officer Maguire, at his social game nearby, heard the very
first cry and came running.
"What's the matter here, now?" he exclaimed, rushing up
full and ready for murder, robbery, fire, or, indeed,
anything in the whole roster of human calamities.
"A vooman!" said Rogaum excitedly. "She haf herself
umgebracht. She iss dying. Ach, Gott! in my own
"Vere iss der hospital?" put in Mrs. Rogaum, thinking
clearly of an ambulance, but not being able to express it.
"She iss gekilt, sure. Oh! Oh!" and bending over her the
poor old motherly soul stroked the tightened hands, and
trickled tears upon the blue shirtwaist. "Ach, vy did you
do dot?" she said. "Ach, for vy?"
Officer Maguire was essentially a man of action. He jumped
to the sidewalk, amid the gathering company, and beat
loudly with his club upon the stone flagging. Then he ran
to the nearest police phone, returning to aid in any other
way he might. A milk wagon passing on its way from the
Jersey ferry with a few tons of fresh milk aboard, he held
it up and demanded a helping.
"Give us a quart there, will you?" he said authoritatively.
"A woman's swallowed acid in here."
"Sure," said the driver, anxious to learn the cause of the
excitement. "Got a glass, anybody?"
Maguire ran back and returned, bearing a measure. Mrs.
Rogaum stood looking nervously on, while the stocky officer
raised the golden head and poured the milk.
"Here, now, drink this," he said. "Come on. Try an' swallow
The girl, a blonde of the type the world too well knows,
opened her eyes, and looked, groaning a little.
"Drink it," shouted the officer fiercely. "Do you want to
die? Open your mouth!"
Used to a fear of the law in all her days, she obeyed now,
even in death. The lips parted, the fresh milk was drained
to the end, some spilling on neck and cheek.
While they were working old Rogaum came back and stood
looking on, by the side of his wife. Also Officer
Delahanty, having heard the peculiar wooden ring of the
stick upon the stone in the night, had come up.
"Ach, ach," exclaimed Rogaum rather distractedly, "und she
iss oudt yet. I could not find her. Oh, oh!"
There was a clang of a gong up the street as the racing
ambulance turned rapidly in. A young hospital surgeon
dismounted, and seeing the woman's condition, ordered
immediate removal. Both officers and Rogaum, as well as the
surgeon, helped place her in the ambulance. After a moment
the lone bell, ringing wildly in the night, was all the
evidence remaining that a tragedy had been here.
"Do you know how she came here?" asked Officer Delahanty,
coming back to get Rogaum's testimony for the police.
"No, no," answered Rogaum wretchedly. "She vass here
alretty. I vass for my daughter loog. Ach, himmel, I haf my
daughter lost. She iss avay."
Mrs. Rogaum also chattered, the significance of Theresa's
absence all the more painfully emphasized by this.
The officer did not at first get the import of this. He was
only interested in the facts of the present case.
"You say she was here when you come? Where was you?"
"I say I vass for my daughter loog. I come here, und der
vooman vass here now alretty."
"Yes. What time was this?"
"Only now yet. Yussed a half-hour."
Officer Maguire had strolled up, after chasing away a small
crowd that had gathered with fierce and unholy threats. For
the first time now he noticed the peculiar perturbation of
the usually placid German couple.
"What about your daughter?" he asked, catching a word as to
Both old people raised their voices at once.
"She haf gone. She haf run avay. Ach, himmel, ve must for
her loog. Quick--she could not get in. Ve had der door
"Locked her out, eh?" inquired Maguire after a time,
hearing much of the rest of the story.
"Yes," explained Rogaum. "It was to schkare her a liddle.
She vould not come ven I called."
"Sure, that's the girl we saw walkin' with young Almerting,
do ye mind? The one in the white dress," said Delahanty to
"White dress, yah!" echoed Rogaum, and then the fact of her
walking with some one came home like a blow.
"Did you hear dot?" he exclaimed even as Mrs. Rogaum did
likewise. "Mein Gott, hast du das gehoert?"
He fairly jumped as he said it. His hands flew up to his
stout and ruddy head.
"Whaddy ya want to let her out for nights?" asked Maguire
roughly, catching the drift of the situation. "That's no
time for young girls to be out, anyhow, and with these
toughs around here. Sure, I saw her, nearly two hours ago."
"Ach," groaned Rogaum. "Two hours yet. Ho, ho, ho!" His
voice was quite hysteric.
"Well, go on in," said Officer Delahanty. "There's no use
yellin' out here. Give us a description of her an' we'll
send out an alarm. You won't be able to find her walkin'
Her parents described her exactly. The two men turned to
the nearest police box and then disappeared, leaving the
old German couple in the throes of distress. A time-worn
old church-clock nearby now chimed out one and then two.
The notes cut like knives. Mrs. Rogaum began fearfully to
cry. Rogaum walked and blustered to himself.
"It's a queer case, that," said Officer Delahanty to
Maguire after having reported the matter of Theresa, but
referring solely to the outcast of the doorway so recently
sent away and in whose fate they were much more interested.
She being a part of the commercialized vice of the city,
they were curious as to the cause of her suicide. "I think
I know that woman. I think I know where she came from. You
do, too--Adele's, around the corner, eh? She didn't come
into that doorway by herself, either. She was put there.
You know how they do."
"You're right," said Maguire. "She was put there, all
right, and that's just where she come from, too."
The two of them now tipped up their noses and cocked their
"Let's go around," added Maguire.
They went, the significant red light over the transom at 68
telling its own story. Strolling leisurely up, they
knocked. At the very first sound a painted denizen of the
half-world opened the door.
"Where's Adele?" asked Maguire as the two, hats on as
usual, stepped in.
"She's gone to bed."
"Tell her to come down."
They seated themselves deliberately in the gaudy mirrored
parlor and waited, conversing between themselves in
whispers. Presently a sleepy-looking woman of forty in a
gaudy robe of heavy texture, and slippered in red,
"We're here about that suicide case you had tonight. What
about it? Who was she? How'd she come to be in that doorway
around the corner? Come, now," Maguire added, as the madam
assumed an air of mingled injured and ignorant innocence,
"you know. Can that stuff! How did she come to take
"I don't know what you're talking about," said the woman
with the utmost air of innocence. "I never heard of any
"Aw, come now ," insisted Delahanty, "the girl around the
corner. You know. We know you've got a pull, but we've got
to know about this case, just the same. Come across now. It
won't be published. What made her take the poison?"
Under the steady eyes of the officers the woman hesitated,
but finally weakened.
"Why--why--her lover went back on her--that's all. She got
so blue we just couldn't do anything with her. I tried to,
but she wouldn't listen."
"Lover, eh?" put in Maguire as though that were the most
unheard-of thing in the world. "What was his name?"
"I don't know. You never can tell that."
"What was her name--Annie?" asked Delahanty wisely, as
though he knew but was merely inquiring for form's sake.
"Well, how did she come to get over there, anyhow?"
inquired Maguire most pleasantly.
"George took her," she replied, referring to a
man-of-all-work about the place.
Then little by little as they sat there the whole miserable
story came out, miserable as all the wilfulness and error
and suffering of the world.
"How old was she?"
"Well, where'd she come from?"
"Oh, here in New York. Her family locked her out one night,
Something in the way the woman said this last brought old
Rogaum and his daughter back to the policemen's minds. They
had forgotten all about her by now, although they had
turned in an alarm. Fearing to interfere too much with this
well-known and politically controlled institution, the two
men left, but outside they fell to talking of the other
"We ought to tell old Rogaum about her some time," said
Maguire to Delahanty cynically. "He locked his kid out
"Yes, it might be a good thing for him to hear that,"
replied the other. "We'd better go round there an' see if
his girl's back yet. She may be back by now," and so they
returned but little disturbed by the joint miseries.
At Rogaum's door they once more knocked loudly.
"Is your daughter back again?" asked Maguire when a reply
"Ach, no," replied the hysterical Mrs. Rogaum, who was
quite alone now. "My husband he haf gone oudt again to loog
vunce more. Oh, my! Oh, my!"
"Well, that's what you get for lockin' her out," returned
Maguire loftily, the other story fresh in his mind. "That
other girl downstairs here tonight was locked out too,
once." He chanced to have a girl-child of his own and
somehow he was in the mood for pointing a moral. "You
oughtn't to do anything like that. Where d'yuh expect she's
goin' to if you lock her out?"
Mrs. Rogaum groaned. She explained that it was not her
fault, but anyhow it was carrying coals to Newcastle to
talk to her so. The advice was better for her husband.
The pair finally returned to the station to see if the call
had been attended to.
"Sure," said the sergeant, "certainly. Whaddy ya think?"
and he read from the blotter before him:
"'Look out for girl, Theresa Rogaum. Aged 18; height, about
5, 3; light hair, blue eyes, white cotton dress, trimmed
with blue ribbon. Last seen with lad named Almerting, about
19 years of age, about 5, 9; weight 135 pounds.'"
There were other details even more pointed and conclusive.
For over an hour now, supposedly, policemen from the
Battery to Harlem, and far beyond, had been scanning long
streets and dim shadows for a girl in a white dress with a
youth of nineteen,--supposedly.
Officer Halsey, another of this region, which took in a
portion of Washington Square, had seen a good many couples
this pleasant summer evening since the description of
Theresa and Almerting had been read to him over the
telephone, but none that answered to these. Like Maguire
and Delahanty, he was more or less indifferent to all such
cases, but idling on a corner near the park at about three
a.m., a brother officer, one Paisly by name, came up and
casually mentioned the missing pair also.
"I bet I saw that couple, not over an hour ago. She was
dressed in white, and looked to me as if she didn't want to
be out. I didn't happen to think at the time, but now I
remember. They acted sort o' funny. She did, anyhow. They
went in this park down at the Fourth Street end there."
"Supposing we beat it, then," suggested Halsey, weary for
something to do.
"Sure," said the other quickly, and together they began a
careful search, kicking around in the moonlight under the
trees. The moon was leaning moderately toward the west, and
all the branches were silvered with light and dew. Among
the flowers, past clumps of bushes, near the fountain, they
searched, each one going his way alone. At last, the
wandering Halsey paused beside a thick clump of flaming
bushes, ruddy, slightly, even in the light. A murmur of
voices greeted him, and something very much like the sound
of a sob.
"What's that?" he said mentally, drawing near and
"Why don't you come on now?" said the first of the voices
heard. "They won't let you in any more. You're with me,
ain't you? What's the use cryin'?"
No answer to this, but no sobs. She must have been crying
"Come on. I can take care of yuh. We can live in Hoboken. I
know a place where we can go to-night. That's all right."
There was a movement as if the speaker were patting her on
"What's the use cryin'? Don't you believe I love yuh?"
The officer who had stolen quietly around to get a better
view now came closer. He wanted to see for himself. In the
moonlight, from a comfortable distance, he could see them
seated. The tall bushes were almost all about the bench. In
the arms of the youth was the girl in white, held very
close. Leaning over to get a better view, he saw him kiss
her and hold her--hold her in such a way that she could but
yield to him, whatever her slight disinclination.
It was a common affair at earlier hours, but rather
interesting now. The officer was interested. He crept
"What are you two doin' here?" he suddenly inquired, rising
before them, as though he had not seen.
The girl tumbled out of her compromising position,
speechless and blushing violently. The young man stood up,
nervous, but still defiant.
"Aw, we were just sittin' here," he replied.
"Yes? Well, say, what's your name? I think we're lookin'
for you two, anyhow. Almerting?"
"That's me," said the youth.
"And yours?" he added, addressing Theresa.
"Theresa Rogaum," replied the latter brokenly, beginning to
"Well, you two'll have to come along with me," he added
laconically. "The Captain wants to see both of you," and he
marched them solemnly away.
"What for?" young Almerting ventured to inquire after a
time, blanched with fright.
"Never mind," replied the policeman irritably. "Come along,
you'll find out at the station house. We want you both.
At the other end of the park Paisly joined them, and, at
the station-house, the girl was given a chair. She was all
tears and melancholy with a modicum possibly of relief at
being thus rescued from the world. Her companion, for all
his youth, was defiant if circumspect, a natural animal
defeated of its aim.
"Better go for her father," commented the sergeant, and by
four in the morning old Rogaum, who had still been up and
walking the floor, was rushing station-ward. From an
earlier rage he had passed to an almost killing grief, but
now at the thought that he might possibly see his daughter
alive and well once more he was overflowing with a mingled
emotion which contained rage, fear, sorrow, and a number of
other things. What should he do to her if she were alive?
Beat her? Kiss her? Or what? Arrived at the station,
however, and seeing his fair Theresa in the hands of the
police, and this young stranger lingering near, also
detained, he was beside himself with fear, rage, affection.
"You! You!" he exclaimed at once, glaring at the
imperturbable Almerting, when told that this was the young
man who was found with his girl. Then, seized with a sudden
horror, he added, turning to Theresa, "Vot haf you done?
Oh, oh! You! You!" he repeated again to Almerting angrily,
now that he felt that his daughter was safe. "Come not near
my tochter any more! I vill preak your effery pone, du
He made a move toward the incarcerated lover, but here the
"Stop that, now," he said calmly. "Take your daughter out
of here and go home, or I'll lock you both up. We don't
want any fighting in here. D'ye hear? Keep your daughter
off the streets hereafter, then she won't get into trouble.
Don't let her run around with such young toughs as this."
Almerting winced. "Then there won't anything happen to her.
We'll do whatever punishing's to be done."
"Aw, what's eatin' him!" commented Almerting dourly, now
that he felt himself reasonably safe from a personal
encounter. "What have I done? He locked her out, didn't he?
I was just keepin' her company till morning."
"Yes, we know all about that," said the sergeant, "and
about you, too. You shut up, or you'll go downtown to
Special Sessions. I want no guff out o' you." Still he
ordered the butcher angrily to be gone.
Old Rogaum heard nothing. He had his daughter. He was
taking her home. She was not dead--not even morally injured
in so far as he could learn. He was a compound of wondrous
feelings. What to do was beyond him.
At the corner near the butcher shop they encountered the
wakeful Maguire, still idling, as they passed. He was
pleased to see that Rogaum had his Theresa once more. It
raised him to a high, moralizing height.
"Don't lock her out any more," he called significantly.
"That's what brought the other girl to your door, you
"Vot iss dot?" said Rogaum.
"I say the other girl was locked out. That's why she
"Ach, I know," said the husky German under his breath, but
he had no intention of locking her out. He did not know
what he would do until they were in the presence of his
crying wife, who fell upon Theresa, weeping. Then he
decided to be reasonably lenient.
"She vass like you," said the old mother to the wandering
Theresa, ignorant of the seeming lesson brought to their
very door. "She vass loog like you."
"I vill not vip you now," said the old butcher solemnly,
too delighted to think of punishment after having feared
every horror under the sun, "aber, go not oudt any more.
Keep off de streads so late. I von't haf it. Dot loafer,
aber--let him yussed come here some more! I fix him!"
"No, no," said the fat mother tearfully, smoothing her
daughter's hair. "She vouldn't run avay no more yet, no,
no." Old Mrs. Rogaum was all mother.
"Well, you wouldn't let me in," insisted Theresa, "and I
didn't have any place to go. What do you want me to do? I'm
not going to stay in the house all the time."
"I fix him!" roared Rogaum, unloading all his rage now on
the recreant lover freely. "Yussed let him come some more!
Der penitentiary he should haf!"
"Oh, he's not so bad," Theresa told her mother, almost a
heroine now that she was home and safe. "He's Mr.
Almerting, the stationer's boy. They live here in the next
"Don't you ever bother that girl again," the sergeant was
saying to young Almerting as he turned him loose an hour
later. "If you do, we'll get you, and you won't get off
under six months. Y' hear me, do you?"
"Aw, I don't want 'er," replied the boy truculently and
cynically. "Let him have his old daughter. What'd he want
to lock 'er out for? They'd better not lock 'er out again
though, that's all I say. I don't want 'er."
"Beat it!" replied the sergeant, and away he went.