by Myra Kelly
"EVERY GOOSE A
"A BRAND FROM
THE MAGIC CAPE
"THE ORIGIN OF
THE ETIQUETTE OF
A BENT TWIG
EVERY GOOSE A SWAN
An ideal is like a golden pheasant. As soon as the hunter comes up
with one he kills it in more or less bloody fashion, tears its feathers
off, absorbs what he can of it, and then sets out, refreshed, in
pursuit of another. Or if, being a tender-hearted hunter, he tries to
keep it in a cage to tame it, to teach it, to show it to his friends,
it very soon loses its original character so that beholders
disparagingly exclaim: Why, it's only a little brown hen! Hardly worth
the trouble of hunting.
But among the pheasant and the trout of the ideal hunting-fields the
true relation between home and school flits ever along the horizon, a
very sea-serpent. Every one has heard of it. Some have pursued it. Some
even vow they have seen it. Almost any one is ready to describe it.
Expeditions have gone forth in search of it, and have come back
empty-handed or with the haziest of kodak films. And the most
conservative of insurance companies would consider it a safe risk.
In every-day and ordinary conditions this relation between home and
school is really a question of mother and teacher, with the child as
its stamping-ground. Two very busy women, indifferent, hostile, or
strangers to each other, are engaged in the formulated and unformulated
education of the child. To the mother this child is her own particular
Mary or Peter. To the teacher it is the whole generation, of which
Peter and Mary are such tiny parts.
The ideal teacher is as wise as Solomon, as impartial as the
telephone directory, as untiring as a steam-engine, as tender as a sore
throat, as patient as a glacier, as immovable as truth, as alert as a
mongoose, and as rare as a hen's tooth. But her most important
qualification is the power to combine her point of view with the
parental one, and to recognize and provide for the varieties of
character, temperament, mentality, and physical well-being of the
children intrusted to her care.
The average teachernearly as elusive as the idealis, to a
surprising and ever-increasing extent, learning to do this. It is, in
fact, a very large part of the law and the prophets in modern pedagogy.
The teacher is expected to know, and she generally does know, what, in
hospital parlance, is called the history of her pupils, and the newer
schools are equipped with apparatus for making thorough physical
examinations upon which the pupil's curriculum will largely depend.
As rare perhaps as the dodo-bird is the mother who takes an
intelligent and helpful interest in the school life of her offspring.
She generally regards the school as a safe house of detention, a sort
of day nursery of larger growth. Mrs. O'Rourke will send Tim and Pat
and Biddy and Jimmy and Mike and Delia, so that she may have leisure to
take care of the twins and the baby, and to do the washing; while Mrs.
Fitz-Jones will send Robert Albert Walter Fitz-John Fitz-Jones, so that
she may beto quote Browning, and since he's dead whatever he wrote
must be considered propersafe in her corset lacing, ere she sallies
out to bridge. Occasionally the two powers for good and evil in the
child's world meet. A large mother will drag a reluctant boy to school,
and loudly bewail herself for that she can do nothing with him. He has
been dismissed as unteachable by another teacher.
He ain't, so to speak, bad, miss. He's just naturally ugly an'
stoopid. Look at him now, and she directs the general attention to the
writhings of her victim. Would you think I just washed and combed him
an' came aroundleavin' my housework, tooto ask you to try him? He
don't appreciate nothin' I do for him. Just naturally ugly and
It may take a week to undo the effects of this introduction and to
gain the little chap's confidence. Then the teacher wheedles him
through the physical examination and seeks further speech with the
Your little boy she will begin.
He's been botherin' you, too, most likely. Him and me will have a
settlin' this afternoon
No, not that, please. I hardly know how to tell you. I'm afraid you
havewe all havebeen misjudging him. But have you ever had his eyes
His sight. He isI hope you will be strong and brave about
itvery nearly blind in his left eye, and the right is affected, too.
It has, on several occasions, been my unhappy duty to make some such
announcement, and never has it been received twice in the same way.
Some ladies entirely disbelieve, and set it down to the natural
officiousness of teachersbuttin' in where they ain't got no call.
Others will fall away into hysterics. Yet others will remark that their
own eyes were unsatisfactory in earlier stages: It's just growin', I
guess. I outgrew the trouble before I was twelve. One mother accepted
the facts frankly, took the child to an oculist, bought the glasses he
prescribed, and applied the drops he recommended, until she
inadvertently used the dropper to fill her fountain-pen. Soon the boy
lost his glasses, and the incident was closed.
Ears and teeth, tonsils and adenoids, frequently furnish
stumbling-blocks to education, but the teacher who reports them to the
home authorities does so at the risk of wasting her time, or of being
accused of causing or inventing the conditions. Recently the boards of
education in the larger cities have been legislating for appropriations
to be applied to free glasses, free dentistry, free professional
services of all kinds to the children of the public schools. And the
gratitude of the parentswhose duties are being attended totakes
fearful and wonderful forms.
Philosophers, in their slow and doddering way, may question the
exact part played by heredity in the formation of human character. Not
so the mother. She has reduced the problem to a formula. All that is
bad, hateful, and spiteful in the child is the direct contribution of
his father or his father's house. All that is appealing, lovable,
interesting, and most especially all that is cute, is directly
inherited from the female side. The only exception to this rule is the
half-orphan. In his case one or two good qualities may be inherited
from the deceased parent.
Once I taught a Gwendolin. She was a peculiarly abominable
individual, as, poets to the contrary notwithstanding, a child may
sometimes be. The class was large, the school was a public one, and the
curriculum prescribed from on high. There was no time for private
instructions, and Gwendolin lagged far in the rear. She was late by
habit; lazy by nature; and tearful by policy and experience. I spent
hours which should have been devoted to the common good in setting down
Gwendolin's tardiness, listening to her excuses, and drying her tears.
Finally I sent for the mother, and a large, blonde, lackadaisical
person responded to my call. She came, contrary to regulations, during
class hours, and Gwendolin promptly began to howl at sight of her. It
is, by the way, noted by most teachers and explained by few parents,
that the sight of a face from home will generally produce hysterics.
Well, I allowed Mrs. Marks to undo the effect of her appearance, and
with Gwendolin almost buried in the exuberances of the maternal costume
and figure, she proceeded to explain that dear Gwendolin was always
deliberate. It was her nature. We all, she hoped, were entitled to our
natures. Gwendolin's dear father was always late for breakfast, and
they never did, by any chance, see the first act of a play. She thought
she would step around and explain this to me, knowing that I would make
allowances for the sweet child. For I always tell her, she beamed on
me, that her dear teacher would rather have her late every day in the
year than ruin her stomach by eating too quickly. And as to her
crying, well, Mrs. Marks opined, it was a very strong commentary on the
manners and natures of the other children in the class. Of course
Gwendolin cried. Her mother cried. On the slightest provocation. Never
could help it. Never hoped to be able to help it. Why, it was only that
morning that Mr. Marks had remarked that any one who cried over the
newspaper should wait until after breakfast to read it.
I controlled my true feelings sufficiently to ask her what effect an
epidemic of Gwendolin's little characteristics would have upon my
class. I urged her imagination to picture fifty children late every
morning because their fifty fathers always missed the first act of a
play, and fifty voices always raised in howls because fifty mothers
wept upon one hundred poached eggs on toast.
Oh, but dear me, purred Mrs. Marks, as she heaved herself to the
perpendicular, shedding Gwendolin, a pocket-book, a handkerchief, and a
fanoh, but dear me, my sweet Gwendolin is such an exceptional
There is another class of parent from whom teachers suffer much. It
generally has but one child, and that child is generally a pitiful,
conscientious, earnest little creature in sombre hair ribbons and
Comfort shoes. Very frequently this parent has been, in some
prehistoric age, a teacher of mathematics in a high-school. Now, a
spiritualistic seance at which Messrs. Froebel, Pestalozzi, Herbart,
Locke, and Spencer should appear and explain their theories of
education, and at which Professor James should come from Harvard to
preside, while Professor John Dewey looked in to make a few remarks,
would never persuade that parent that her child's progress was not to
be gauged by an ability to spell obsolete words, and to worry her way
through complicated problems in long division.
Why, she's been to school every day for seven months; rain, nor
snow, nor sleet has daunted her. She has an umbrella, a mackintosh, and
a pair of rubbers. And yet with all these aids to education she cannot
spell 'parallel.' If you are rash you will inform her that the
rubbers, the mackintosh, and the umbrella may travel to school for yet
another seven months, and the child may still remain unable to spell
parallel. If you are patient and so disposed, you would deliver a
little lecture on the new methods of teaching reading, in which first a
whole sentence is used as a unit; later a phrase; later still a word;
and last of all a letter; but do not hope for a favorable reception of
this theory. The ex-teacher of high-school mathematics, who, in her own
far-distant youth, excelled at spelling-bees, could name the capital of
every State in the Union and every country in the world; who could
recite the names and dates of the Presidents, The Village Blacksmith,
The Old Oaken Bucket, The Psalm of Life, and the Declaration of
Independence, is not prepared to accept a method of teaching based upon
the interests and the reason of the child, and never upon its
mechanical memory. Things, she will tell you, are changed since my
day, and she allows you very thoroughly to understand that they are
changed most mournfully for the worse.
Changed they emphatically are, whether for worse or better. Almost
every scientific, medical, and sociological discovery of the century
has influenced the school. The single theory of the microbe as the
cause of disease has well-nigh revolutionized it. It does not require a
very long memory to reach back to the days of slates and slate rags,
with their attendant horrors of sliminess and sucked pencils. In those
dark ages, too, a school-book was used by successive generations of
children for as long as its print was legible to the keenest eye.
Lead-pencils were collected at the end of the day and dealt out again
promiscuously, and, marvellous to reflect upon, several children
survived their schooling.
In these days the well-equipped and well-managed school-room is as
sanitary as a hospital ward; sterilizing and fumigating are part of the
regular work, and every book and pencil undergoes such treatment before
being transferred from one child to another. The number of cubic feet
of air, per child, per hour, is calculated and provided for. The
designing of seats for school children is a matter which occupies the
attention of men whose reputation is international, and whole schools
of philosophy busy themselves to determine the sequence in which the
different formal studies shall be presented.
In these halcyon days when Botany doffs her cap and gown and
associates with ordinary mortals in the friendly guise of How to Know
the Wild Flowers, Nature's Garden, and other enticing disguises;
when ornithology takes such friendly shapes as A Kentucky Cardinal
and Bird Life; when physiology becomes How to Grow Young and What
Ails the Baby; when even political economy reaches the ordinary plane
at the hands of Messrs. Lincoln Steffens, Ray Stannard Baker, and
Charles Edward Russellwe soon expect psychology to burst its academic
bonds. It has already made one or two tentative appearances, and it was
moderately well received; but some day, and soon, a prophet will arise
to preach it with a yet more popular voice.
Then shall mother and teacher sweetly lisp of the fringe of
apperception, the stream of consciousness, inhibition, ideal
motor action, and the tabula raza. Psychology has, I am aware, an
unappealing sound. But let no one imagine that it is not or, rather,
cannot be made interesting. We cannot always catch a bird, find a
flower, or unearth a social evil; but every one, under all conditions
and at all times, has a psychology in full working order concealed
about him, and the art of teaching in its last analysis is applied
How many mothers have heard of the theory, formulated and vouched
for by most distinguished scientists, that the individual during the
normal progress of his existence passes through the whole history of
the development of his race? That he has, in turn, the instincts and
the wants which animated all his ancestors, from the age of chaos to
the day of the flying-machine? Upon this theory the whole scheme of
education is based. Its essential principle is that if you can catch
the child at the stone-age point of its development, you can then most
readily teach him the rather restricted sum of knowledge by which the
stone man steered his daily course. The difficulty lies in catching
what is then most literally the psychologic moment, at which a raw
root dug up with a stone hammer will strike the young learner as a
Any interested outsider will testify that the new baby confirms this
theory. It is an absolute savage. No head-hunter of Borneo could be
more destitute of the self-knowledge, self-reverence, self-control
which characterize the civilized man. Observe the small boy taking care
of his small sister, and you will see the spirit of the Inquisition
reproduced in all its ingenuity for torture. Note the length of time
which a boy will spend in a green-shaded swimming-hole on a summer day,
and you will see him dating back to his jelly-fish ancestors. A little
girl will lavish all the passion and absorption of motherhood upon a
bath towel and a croquet-ball. Hundreds of Davids have gone forth
against their Goliaths. Thousands of knights in short stockings have
kept the law of the Table Round. The most pampered of lads and lassies,
left to their own devices, will revert to the cuisine of the cave man
and sustain themselves upon mud pies.
Whole volumes, learned, authoritative, but so far ponderous, have
been devoted to determining the age at which the different impulses
which prompt or qualify human action are added unto the individual.
Reason, honor, self-control, knowledge, religion, the sense of right
and wrong and of responsibility, hate, envy, love, joyall the forces
developed in the race through immemorial agesare born and reach
maturity in the individual during the little span of one short life.
Whether this theory be right or wrong, no one can question that it
is interesting and suggestive. It is but one of dozens with which the
teacher is supposed to be at least on speaking terms. There is another
large field of experiment and accomplishment in what is known as the
manual-training movement, the marvellous and so long unrecognized
connection between the development of the hand and the development of
the mind and morals. Any one craving greater marvels than are furnished
in modern romance can find them in the reports of reformatories,
prisons, lunatic asylums, or schools for the defective, in which manual
training has been introduced.
The whole trend of education changed when the three R's ceased to
be its war-cry, and it behooves the modern mother to realize this
change and to adapt herself to it. For the school and the home are but
two agencies in the training of the child, two powers which should work
together for good; and the ideal relation between the two is that they
should be as one. It was a very great Teacher who taught that no man
can serve two masters. Then let the mother conform her rule and her
judgments to the laws of the sister kingdom.
Let her hold, for instance, that the principle of self-activity is
stronger than blind obedience ever was; that emulation as a spur to
effort is the abomination of desolation; that a sound mind in a sound
body is more to be valued than riches; that a keen eye for color and
form, a steady hand to guide a pencil or a tool, a mind alert, eager,
and reasonable, a heart which feels its brotherhood with all living,
growing things, a free, frank speech, a generous nature, and an honest
tongue, are in themselves a Declaration of Independence and a Psalm of
GAMES IN GARDENS
Isaac Borrachsohn, Room 18's only example of the gilded youth, could
never be described as a brilliant scholar, but on a morning in early
April Miss Bailey found him more trying even than was his wont. He was
plainly the centre of some sub-evident interest. First Readers nudged
one another and whispered together, casting awed or envious looks upon
him, and when the hour for recess came he formed the centre of an
excited and gesticulating crowd. But Isaac Borrachsohn had never quite
outgrown his distrust for his Krisht teacher. It was fostered by all
his womankind at home, and was insisted upon almost as an article of
faith by his grandfather the Rabbi. It was not to him, therefore, that
Miss Bailey looked for an explanation of the general excitement, though
she knew that before the day should pass she would hear several
accounts of it.
It was after three o'clock; the prescribed school work was over and
friendly converse was the order of the hour. The Board of Monitors,
closing the door carefully upon the last unofficial First Reader,
gathered solemnly round Teacher and proceeded to relate Isaac
Borrachsohn's saga of his latest adventure.
He says like that, said Eva Gonorowsky, Monitor of Pencil Points,
in awed and envious tones. He says he goes by his papa's side in a
carriage on Games in Gardens.
I guess maybe he lies, Nathan Spiderwitz, Monitor of Window Boxes,
suggested with some disparagement. I was to GardensSummer
Gardensmit my papa und no games stands in 'em. Stands bottles from
beer und pretzels on'y. I ain't seen nothings like how Ikey says.
And what does Ikey say? asked Miss Bailey.
Well, began Morris Mowgelewsky, Monitor of the Gold Fish Bowl,
Ikey says Gardens is a house mit thousens und thousens from mans und
ladies. Und they all sets by side theirselves, und they yells somethin'
fierce. Und in Gardens there ain't no upstairs, on'y thousens und
thousens from lights. Ikey says on the Bowery even he ain't never seen
how there is lights in Gardens.
Yes, dear, Ikey was quite right, said Miss Bailey, beginning to
discern the outline of Madison Square Garden with inter-scholastic
athletic games in progress. The mans and ladies were, of course, the
proud parents, sweethearts, relations, and various colleagues, and the
yells were their unconfined joy and triumph.
And flags, supplemented Patrick Brennan, Monitor of Blackboards
and Leader of the Line. I says to that show-off, Ikey Borrachsohn, 'Is
there any flowers in that garden?' And he says he didn't see none 'cept
what the ladies had on 'em. And all the rest was flags. Flags hangin'
down out of the sky. Flags up in the lights, and everybody wavin'
flags. Gee! It was pretty if it's true.
It's quite true, dear, Miss Bailey assured him. I was there one
night last week, and it was just as Isaac says.
You dun'no all what Ikey says, Morris intervened. He says a man
comes mit a great big hammera awful big hammer mit a long handle. Und
he takes that hammerMissis Bailey this is how Ikey saysund he makes
it shall go round und round by his head. Und then he takes und he
throws it where some mans stands, und Ikey says he had mad looks, he
was red on the face even, over somethings.
If any one got fresh with hammers on my pop's beat, Patrick
Brennan interrupted, they'd get pinched so quick they wouldn't know
what struck 'em, and Ikey says they was lots of police officers
standin' around doin' nothin'. Ain't he the liar!
Not this time, said Miss Bailey; he was telling you the truth.
Then Nathan Spiderwitz took up the tale.
Und sooner that man makes, like Morris says, mit hammers, comes
more mans mit more hammers, und they throws 'em. Und comes more mans
mit from iron balls so big like Ikey's head, und they throws 'em, und
the ladies und the mans they stands und yells, und music plays, und the
ladies make go their flags und scups up und down on their seats. Und
the mans mit those balls und hammers they has awful mads. They is red
on the face, und they tries und they triesMissis Bailey, Ikey says
it's somethin' fierce how they triesund they couldn't never to hit
They weren't trying to, Miss Bailey tried to explain, but Isaac's
picturesque recital was not lightly to be effaced.
[Illustration: I guess games in gardens ain't so awful healthy for
somebody, said Yetta]
I guess games in gardens ain't so awful healthy for somebody, was
Yetta Aaronsohn's pronouncement. My mamma says you could to make
yourself a sickness sooner you runs awful hard, on'y Ikey, he says a
whole bunch from mans und boys they chases theirselves like an'thing.
They runs und they runs, und all the times the mans und the ladies
scups und yells und makes go their flags. Ikey says it looks like a
awful fight is comin', on'y these boys und mans they couldn't never run
to catch theirselves, und so there ain't no fight. Ikey had a awful sad
It was evident all through this recital that Eva Gonorowsky had a
communication of a more important and confidential nature upon her
conscientious little mind. When at last the other Monitors had
scattered to their duties, and Room 18 was in a satisfactory stage
midway 'twixt chaos and order, Eva drew Miss Bailey into the corner
between the window and the bookcase.
Nobody ain't told you all what Ikey says, she whispered,
with much the same gusto as she had seen her elders display as they
gathered close about the very heart of a scandal. Everybody has fraids
over telling you.
Afraid! repeated Miss Bailey in surprise, well knowing this to be
the last feeling she inspired. Afraid to tell me!
Teacher, yiss, ma'am. They has fraids. It's somethin' fierce what
Ikey says. He says like that: all those mans what couldn't to catch
nothings und couldn't to hit nothings. He says somethin' fierce over
all those mans. And here Eva pressed her professionally soiled hand
over her mouth and regarded Miss Bailey with scandalized eyes.
Go on, dear, said Miss Bailey encouragingly. If Isaac has told
you and Morris and the others I might as well know it too.
Eva removed her hand. Ikey Borrachsohn, he dun'no what is polite
for him, she made reply. He tells it on everybodyin the yard even,
where the babies ishe tells it out. He needs he shall get hit off of
Now you tell me, said Miss Bailey, and I'll see about Isaac.
He says, whispered Eva, how all those mans they don't puts them
on like mans mit suits und hats und pants und coatsno, ma'am,
that ain't how they makesthey puts them on like ladies und like
little girls. On'y, and Miss Bailey had to stoop to catch this last
overwhelming sentenceon'y they don't puts them on so much.
Why of course not, Eva, answered Miss Bailey, repressing with
stern effort an inclination to wild laughter. This repression she knew
to be the corner-stone of the First Reader's faith in her. She never,
openly, laughed at their little confidences. She was a serious-minded
person, always ready to discuss a serious problem seriously. Quite
gravely now she pointed out to Eva the difficulty of violent exertion
in street attire.
You yourself, she amplified, take off your coat and hat when you
come to school, and yet you only read and write a little, and do quiet
things like that. Now these men and boys, dear, that Isaac Borrachsohn
has been telling about were running and exercising just as hard as they
could; you know how hot we sometimes get here when we only stand in our
places and exercise our arms and legs.
Eva was impressed, but not yet quite convinced.
It ain't, she insisted, a gentle last word, unanswerable,
overwhelming, it ain't hats und coats what Ikey Borrachsohn says them
mens in Gardens takes off.
* * * * *
Misunderstandings of this sort are a natural part of the order of
the day in class rooms such as Room 18, where children, alien to every
American custom, and prejudiced by religion and precept against most of
them, are undergoing their training in citizenship. Generations of
muffling and swaddling were behind Eva's shocked little face. Her
ancestors had not taken their recreation in running or rowing or
swimming. And the scene at Madison Square Garden was as foreign to the
First Readers' traditions as a warm afternoon in Athens during the age
of Pericles would have been to a New England spinster. It was the sort
of misunderstanding which must be faced instantly, and immediately
after assembly on the next morning Miss Bailey faced it.
Isaac Borrachsohn has told you all, she commenced pleasantly,
marshalling the wavering eyes before her with her own, steady and
clear, of how he went to Madison Square Garden with his father and saw
Isaac squirmed in his place.
And he told you, she continued, how he saw men and boys running
races, and trying how far they could throw a big heavy hammer and a big
iron ball. Isaac didn't quite understand what they were doing, but they
were not trying to hit any one, and not trying to catch one another,
and there was no thought at all of a fight. The boy who ran fastest got
a prize, the boy who threw the hammer farthest got a prize. And there
were a great many other prizes for jumping and all kinds of things.
And, she continued, redoubling the concentration in her eyes, did
Isaac tell you how those boys were dressed?
A gasp and a shiver swept through Room 18.
Well, if he didn't, I will. They wore the very lightest clothes
they could get. They wanted to be free and cool. They couldn't run fast
or jump far with all their heavy every-day clothes on. Exercise makes
people very warm, you know. It was a great help to those boys to be
dressed in cool white clothes.
I was at the games, she continued, as I was telling some of the
boys yesterday afternoon, and I enjoyed them ever so much. I was just
wishing that you were all there too. The girls could have sat with me,
and the boys could have run in the ring. I've watched you all playing
in the yard, and I know what good runners some of you are. And then
when they gave you prizes we, the girls and I, would have waved our
flags and cheered just like the ladies Isaac told you about. Now
wouldn't that be grand? she cried, and the First Readers vociferously
agreed with her, though Yetta Aaronsohn, the hypochondriacal, was still
of the opinion that wind on the legs ain't healthy for nobody.
Cold indeed would be the heart of any masculine First Reader who
could see, unmoved, the picture conjured up of Teacher's words. They
were well accustomed to impromptu races, run on a course all thick
beset with push-carts, ash cans, and humanity. Other tests of physical
strength, with the exception by an occasional hand-to-hand conflict,
neither determined, scientific, nor conclusive, were practically
unknown. But to run on a prepared course surrounded by a stationary and
admiring audience, of which Miss Bailey and the feminine First Readers
formed an important part, was quite a different thing. Then, too,
prizes was an alluring word. Teacher had shown it to mean articles of
price and great attractiveness. The clean-hands-for-a-week prize, won
by Sadie Gonorowsky, with Isidore Applebaum as a close second, had been
a little clasp pin of the American flag in enamel, and the
cleanest-shoes-for-a-month prize had been a pair of roller skates.
The masculine element of the Room 18's Board of Monitors met that
afternoon in the cellar of a recently burned tenement to discuss the
situation. If it would pleasure Miss Bailey to see her adherents racing
round a garden in abbreviated costumes, there was, they decided, no
very serious reason against giving her that pleasure. It was only a
shade more unreasonable than other desires of hers to which they had
bent their energies, and since there was question of reward, it became
even more a duty and a pleasure to oblige her.
But we ain't got no Gardens, Nathan Spiderwitz pointed out.
We'll use my yard, said Patrick. When me mother has company she
always calls our yard a garden. It's got a tree in it, and we can get
some flags to hang on the clothes line. I was askin' me big brother
last night, and he knows all about them games. He'll tell us mor'n Ikey
Borrachsohn can about how the thing goes, and when we get it fixed just
right, we'll have Miss Bailey and the girls come round some Saturday
morning and see us run and jump. Say, it'll be great! I can run faster
than any feller in the class; an' I bet I can jump higher too, an' I
bet I can throw things farther, too, an' I bet I can lick ye all
pole-vaultin', too. Me brother was tellin' me about that.
I don't know what is 'pole-vaultin' even, said Morris, and asked
with some natural curiosity what parts he and other possible
competitors were to take in these Games in Gardens.
Oh, you, answered Patrick, with happy condescension, you all is
goin' to get licked. That's what you're goin' to do. Don't you worry.
But this rôle did not appeal strongly to either of his colleagues.
I don't know do I likes gettin' licked, Morris objected with some
Und I don't know will I get licked, said Nathan Spiderwitz,
the valorous. I jumped once, und I run too. I jumped off of a wagon. A
awful big grocery wagon, mit crackers on it. Und I jumped when it was
goin'. Und I run like an'thin'.
You was throwed off, taunted Patrick, you was throwed off by the
man when he seen you hookin' crackers.
Ye lie, said Nathan frankly. I jumped as soon as he seen me, und
I guess I can jump some more. You ain't the only boy what can run und
jump, you old-show-of-freshy Irisher.
It was with difficulty that the peaceful Monitor of the Gold Fish
Bowl restored harmony, and time was added unto difficulty before the
Games in Gardens were satisfactorily arranged.
Had it been possible to consult Miss Bailey, all would have been
plain and simple sailing. She was the First Reader's home port, but she
was now blockaded for her own benefit. The suggestions of Patrick's big
brother were overwhelming and technical. And Isaac Borrachsohn, through
constant questionings, grew at once so extravagant and so hazy in his
recollections as to be practically useless. Patrick's mother, when
applied to for a morning's use of her yard, was curt and kind.
Use it if ye will, said she, but don't clutter it, an' don't fall
out of me pear tree.
It was at about the time of the densest discouragement that Miss
Bailey, all unknowing, came to their relief. She brought to Room 18 and
passed about among the First Readers a copy of an illustrated Weekly
containing pictures of the later and more important contest than that
which Isaac had witnessed. And Ignatius Aloysius Diamentstein, by that
time admitted to the track team, appropriated it at the lunch hour, and
thereafter it served as The Complete Guide to Games in Gardens.
The day was set. A Saturday morning in late May. The guests in
ordinary were invited. In other words the feminine First Readers had
been told that they would be admitted to Patrick Brennan's yard at ten
o'clock on that May morning, on condition that each would bring a flag
and say nothing to the uninvited boys. The free-for-all spirit was not
endorsed by Patrick, and the contestants were only seven, picked and
chosen, be it said, with a nice adjustment to Patrick's own prowess,
for I ain't goin' to be licked in me own yard, had been his steadfast
Nathan Spiderwitz was given to inspirations always inconvenient and
distressing. He experienced one at this eleventh hour when all the
arrangements were completed, and it remained only to invite the guest
Who gives the prizes? he demanded, as he and Patrick were
superintending the construction of a grand stand made of soap-boxes and
a broken sofa. Where is the prizes, and who gives 'em? he repeated.
Mind your own business, was Patrick's useful answer. It showed a
bold front and left time for thought.
Who gives 'em? insisted Nathan.
Don't you worry 'bout prizes, muttered Patrick darkly,
they ain't none of your business. You got a swell chanst to git
any prizes in my yard. Not when I'm in it, ye don't.
Thus with Nathan. But with Morris he was more frank.
There's one thing, said he, when he found that crack long-jumper
in the boys' yard at luncheon time, what I'm going to let you
Is it nice for me? queried the Custodian of Gold Fish.
Great! answered Patrick. I'm goin' to let ye ast Miss Bailey to
Morris glowed with pride and importance. I likes that, he
Well, you can do it. Ye don't want to tell her what kind of a party
it is. Just go up to her after school and say that 'we invites her to
come to my yard at ten o'clock in the mornin', and bring seven prizes
Ohoh-h-h! I couldn't to say nothings like that, Morris
remonstrated. I guess you don't know what is polite. I don't know has
Missis Bailey got seven prizes.
She'll get 'em all right, all right, Patrick assured him; ain't
she always givin' 'em around? You just tell her 'ten o'clock and seven
prizes.' It's all right, I tell you. I could'a showed ye the picture on
that paper of a lady standin' up givin' out the prizes. An' Miss
Bailey's the only lady goin' to be there.
It ain't polite, Morris maintained. But he had during these last
athletic weeks broken so many of his canons and his laws that he
accepted this last command with more docility than Patrick had
A party! cried Miss Bailey, now isn't that nice? And for
to-morrow morning. Of course I'll be there. And what kind of a party is
it to be, dear?
It's something you says you likes you shall see. Und on the party
you shall see it. Und you shall have a s'prise over it.
You grow more interesting every moment, said Teacher. Tell me
more. I love surprises.
There ain't no more, Morris answered, on'y, and he took his
conversational running-jump, on'y maybe you shall bring seven prizes
mit. I says maybe you ain't got seven prizes. On'y Patrick says I shall
say it out like that, 'you shall come on the party und bring seven
Seven! reflected Teacher. That is rather a large order, but I
think I can manage it. Have you any idea, Morris, of what kind they
Teacher, yiss, ma'am, Morris answered, 'fer-boys' prizes.
I think I understand, and Miss Bailey smiled at him. You may tell
Patrick that I and 'seven fer-boys' prizes' will be at his house in the
She regarded the subject as closed. Not so Morris. Through all the
succeeding occupations of the afternoon an idea persisted with him, and
when the Teacher left the building at last she found him waiting for
her on the wide steps.
You want me, dear? she asked.
I shall tell you somethings, Morris began in evident
It's over those prizes.
Miss Bailey, it's like this. You don't need to care sooner you
ain't got on'y six prizes. Seven prizes I guess costs bunches
und bunches from money. So six prizes comes on Patrick's yard, that's
all right. Stands one boy what don't needs no prize.
He must be a strange little boy, commented Teacher. I never
before heard of a boy who didn't like prizes.
Oh, he likes 'em; how he likes 'em. I ain't said he ain't
got feelin's over 'em. On'y it's like this: he don't needs you shall
buy prizes for him the whiles you got to buy six prizes already.
I think I understand, dear, Teacher answered, and she set out for
the shopping district and bought six prizes of great glitter and little
worth. But the seventh was such a watch as a boy might use and treasure
through all the years of his boyhood.
The great day dawned bright and clear. Miss Bailey's entrance,
punctual and parcel-laden, in a festive frilly frock and a flowery hat,
caused something almost like silence to fall upon the scene of the
coming tournament. Eva Gonorowsky clasped Teacher's unoccupied hand,
Sarah Schodsky and Yetta Aaronsohn relieved her of her bundles. Sadie
Gonorowsky gesticulated madly from the place upon the sofa which she
was reserving with all the expanse of her outspread skirt.
Teacher approached the grand stand and took her place. The feminine
First Readers swarmed upon the soap boxes. But neither leg nor arm nor
even eye was moved by the seven masculine First Readers drawn up in the
centre of the yard. Flags waved in such profusion and such uniformity
that even Miss Bailey's obligation to her hosts could not blind her to
the fact that she had at last found the fifty-two American flags pasted
together by the First Reader Class when Washington's Birthday was in
the air and the offing. Two weeks ago she had missed them out of the
cupboard, and neither janitor nor Monitor could give her tidings of
them. They looked very well, she was forced to admit, dangling from
high fence and clothes line. And very bright and joyant was the whole
scene. The little girls in their bright colors. The sky so blue. Mrs.
Brennan's pear tree in sturdy bloom. All was brilliant with a sense of
Spring save the seven dark-clothed figures in the centre of the yard.
Can you guess what kind from party it is? shrieked Sadie
Gonorowsky from the top of a tottering soap box to which she had
Why, it's Teacher began, recognizing some elements of the scene,
but made uncertain by the seven dark little figures, of course
It's 'Games in Gardens,' shouted the little girls, waving their
flags like mad and scupping so energetically that two disappeared,
it's Games in Gardens, und you're goin' to have a s'prise.
One of the dark and silent figures found speech and motion.
Set down an' shut up, commanded Patrick Brennan. We're goin' to
The shutting up would have been effected automatically by the next
proceeding of the seven. They laid violent hands upon themselves and in
an instant a flat little heap of dark clothes marked the centre of the
yard, and Patrick Brennan, Ignatius Aloysius Diamentstein, Isidore
Applebaum, Nathan Spiderwitz, Isidore Wishnewsky, Isaac Belchatosky,
and Morris Mowgelewsky stood forth in costumes reported by Isaac
Borrachsohn, sanctioned by Miss Bailey, and owned by members of the
A moment of tense silence followed. Every eye sought Teacher, and
Constance Bailey knew that upon her first word or look depended success
or failure, pride or everlasting shame. There was no time to wonder how
the mistake arose. No time to remember what she had said that could
possibly have been interpreted to mean this. They were her gallant
little knights doing her uncomprehended bidding, and tryingat what
sacrifice she guessedto pleasure their liege lady.
Again she had blundered. Again she had failed to quite bridge the
distance. The wrong word lay somewhere back in her effort to undo Isaac
Borrachsohn's mischief. And she had wrought mischief ten times worse.
The most devoted of her charges stood there in the clear May sunshine;
the funniest, most pathetic, most ridiculous little figures, with their
thin little arms and legs and their long little necks: proud,
My dear boys, she cried suddenly, how fine you look! How
beautiful andandclean you are, she went on a little bit at random.
And now we are going to have games, and the girls and I will cheer the
Be ye s'prised? yelled Patrick in irrepressible pride.
Dreadfully! she answered. Dreadfully, Patrick dear.
Then we'll begin, answered the master of ceremonies. One,
git in yer places! Two, fer a show! Three, to make ready!
And four to GO.
Upon his final word the Games in Gardens began. The two Isidores
and Ignatius Aloysius Diamentstein rushed madly round the yard. Patrick
tried to urge the others to follow, but Morris had elected the long
jumpand the long jump he would perform, all protests to the contrary
notwithstanding. Nathan Spiderwitz grasped the clothes pole and vaulted
with great accuracy into the left wing of the grand stand. Isaac
Belchatosky had secured a dilapidated ball from an abandoned
bowling-alley, and he put the shot in all directions to his own
satisfaction and the audience's terror until run into and overturned by
Ignatius Aloysius Diamentstein.
Shrill cries went up from the audience. The two boys arose unhurt,
but the feelings of Bertha Binderwitz and Eva Kidansky were not thereby
I guess I gets killed off of my mamma, wailed Bertha when she saw
that one whole side of Isaac Belchatosky was smeared with mud. And when
Nathan Spiderwitz was reclaimed from the soap boxes, with a long piece
of cambric ruffle trailing behind him, Sadie Gonorowsky fell into such
an agony of apprehension that Miss Bailey felt called upon for a
promise to repair the damage ere another sun should set. Meantime
Patrick was not idle. Disdaining competition, he went through all the
events, one after another until the perspiration was thick upon his
forehead, and Eva Gonorowsky was trembling with excitement.
My mamma don't know, she informed Miss Bailey over and over again.
But owing perhaps to her watchful care, perhaps to a natural aptitude
for athletics, Patrick escaped unspotted and unscathed.
He turned hand-springs upon the heap of clothes. He stood upon his
head upon the same rostrum until his eyes bulged, and Miss Bailey
implored him to desist. He wrested the shot from Isidore Wishnewsky, a
person of no spirit, and then he put it neatly into the waist line of
its owner, who promptly sat back gasping.
Don't you dast to set, Isidore Wishnewsky, shrilled Sarah Schodsky
in a panic. I guess you dunno what is polite for you. Sooner somebody
lends you somethings it ain't polite you should set on it! Ain't it
fierce how he makes, Missis Bailey?
It is a little rude, Miss Bailey admitted in a voice as unsteady
as Isidore Wishnewsky.
I never in my world seen how they all makes, said Yetta Aaronsohn,
that authority on Hygiene and the Care of the Body. They could to make
themselves awful sicknesses over ithome sicknesses, even, und
lay-on-the-bed sicknesses, und comes-the-doctor sicknesses.
Oh, I hope not! Teacher rallied the pessimistic Yetta, though
they certainly do seem to be getting very tired.
By this time the track team of the First Reader Class had exhausted
itself and its repertoire, and came forward, hot but confident, for its
laurels. There was something for each one, and for each a little word
of special commendation. And if Teacher's voice was more tender, her
eyes more gentle when Morris's turn came, she still was gentle and
tender enough with all of them.
At the end she made a short address to victors and audience alike.
She thanked them for their great effort to give her pleasure, and for
the great pleasure they had given her, and then added:
When I brought your prizes this morning I had no idea what the
party was to be like, and so of course I didn't get just what I would
have given you if I had known. But now that I do know how wonderfully
our boys can jump and run, I shall bring for each boy on Monday morning
a regular running suit, and whenever you have 'Games in Gardens' again
you won't have to borrow anything. Perhaps the Principal would like you
to have 'Games in Gardens' on the roof some afternoon, and you could
invite the other classes. I am sure they'd love it.
[Illustration: I never in my world seen how they all makes"]
You liked it all right, all right, didn't you, Teacher? demanded
Liked it! she echoed. Why, I was simply delighted.
Und s'prised? questioned Morris.
I was never more so in all my long, long life, answered Constance
Bailey with entire conviction.
A BRAND FROM THE BURNING
Where did you get him? said the Principal.
In the back yard of one of those double-deckers down by the river,
answered the Truant Officer. Ain't he the bird! he added in
professional enthusiasm. I've been chasing him for two or three days.
He's just about as easy to handle as an eel, and to-day he bit me as we
were coming along. He's a beauty, he is!
And you say he doesn't speak Yiddish? queried the Principal.
He don't speak the kind I do, the other answered. I get on all
right with the rest of the folks around here, and I certainly never
expected to have trouble rounding up a kid that ain't knee-high to a
grasshopper. No, you don't, sonny! he broke off as his charge was
sliding toward the door. You've got to stay here now and have a nice
lady learn you how to read and write and cipher.
The boy looked up at his captor with the wide, desperate eyes of an
animal at bay, recognizing his helplessness, but determined to bite and
fight to the very end.
Will you look at that now? the Truant Officer exclaimed; he
thinks every one's going to hurt him. That's the way some of those kids
Oh, he'll soon get over that here, the Principal laughed. I've
seen them much wilder on their first appearance. The teachers know how
to handle them.
Left alone with his new charge, the Principal turned and studied
him. The boy was in the corner, his eyes fixed on the closed door, his
whole little body tense. His visible clothing consisted of a man's
coat, cut short at the sleeves and pinned across the breast. The child
was so small that this reached far below his knees, where it was
supplemented by ragged stockings and shoes. He was unkempt and dirty,
even according to the unexacting East Side's standard. But there was
something about the poise of his head and the slow, lithe movements of
his body that differentiated him from the ordinary street waif. There
was no fear in himno pleading, no snivelling, nothing but a harsh,
almost mature, defiance.
Come here! said the Principal. At the sound of his voice the child
turned and looked at him, and the man found himself returning the cool
regard of a pair of violet-blue eyes. Blue eyes picked up in the heart
of that dusky neighborhood, where he had learned to expect all
children's eyes to be either black or brown!
I wonder what he is, and where he comes from, he sighed, as he
rang the bell and summoned the teacher who generally acted as his
interpreter. David Copperfield's poor old friend, Mr. Dick, would find
plenty of use for his famous prescription, 'wash him,' if he were in my
Miss Rosen soon arrived and began her usual inquiries as to name,
age, residence. The little stranger heard her through, and then he
uttered a sharp three or four word sentence, clear cut, imperious; and
Miss Rosen, a sweet and portly lady of fifteen years' faithful
teaching, flushed to the edge of her hard black pompadour, and stared,
incredulous, at the ragged form before her.
Well, said the Principal, as she made no effort at translation.
What does he say?
I do not speak his language, she answered.
And yet you understand him?
I understand himyes
Well, repeated the Principal, in no mind to allow one small boy to
upset his morning's routine, well, if you understand him, tell me what
he said. What language was that he used?
Russian, she replied, pure Russian, and what he said is the only
Russian phrase which many of the Jewish people ever hear. I have not
heard it since I escaped from Russia with my parents years and years
ago. I had hoped never to hear it again. I must refuse to translate it
When she had gone, all shaken, back to her class, the Principal
shook a remonstrating head at his captive, who was by this time
examining the book-case with a disparaging eye. Catching the man's
glance, he made some remark in his liquid speech, and thumped his
Perhaps so, my boy, Mr. Trevar agreed. But I'm studying your
case. No English, horrid temper, young wild animal, in fact. It's hard
on the girl, he admitted to his own conscience; but I guess it's a
case for Room 18, and rang the bell again and sent word to Room 18 to
summon Miss Bailey to his office.
We've caught a tartar, he told her, almost literally a Tartar. He
seems to have strong racial prejudices, and I shall have to assign him
to you until he learns a little English.
But if he speaks no English at all, Miss Bailey remonstratedfor
children of this kind were her greatest trial, and she was already
laboring with three of themwould he not be happier with one of the
teachers who could understand him?
[Illustration: I must refuse to translate it to you"]
Ah! but they wouldn't, he replied; that's just the point. Miss
Rosen tells me he's a Russian and not a Jew. He said something
extremely rude to her just now. No, you'll have to take him, at least
for a few days, until I can make some inquiries about him. We shall
have to get the Truant Officer to give us the child's name and address.
Will you take him with you now?
Constance Bailey had a smile to which many a lonely frightened
little novice had yielded a shy and sweet response, but there was no
answering smile here. She stretched out a hand to take the boy's, but
he eluded her, reached the door, opened it, and stood at stiff
attention until she had preceded him into the hall.
Well, I'll be blamed! reflected the Principal. Manners, and
princely ones at that!
On the way to Room 18, Miss Bailey's newest responsibility walked
beside her with a free and upright carriage strangely at variance with
the shoes he walked in. Once or twice she spoke to him, and his answer
was an uncomprehending but courteous inclination of the little head.
Once he spoke to her. It was when they passed the platform in the
Assembly Room. He pointed to the piano and said something eagerly,
authoritatively, in that language whose like Miss Bailey had never
heard. She nodded and smiled at him, and they fared on together.
Again, at the door of Room 18, he punctiliously allowed her to
precede him. But as he entered after her and met the full regard of
Room 18's dark eyes, he stopped and returned the glances bent upon him
with a cool, insulting indifference.
This is a new little boy, announced Miss Bailey, to whom I want
you all to be very kind. He doesn't speak much English, but we shall
teach him that. Morris, he will sit near you.
Morris Mowgelewsky, all timid friendliness, approached the stranger.
Here surely was a queer new little boy in a from man's coat, and an
exceeding dirty face; yet if Miss Bailey hailed him as a new little
friend, then as a new little friend he must be made welcome.
Talk to him a moment, Morris, Teacher commanded. See if he won't
tell you what his name is.
Morris obeyed, and the child answered him in the words that had so
upset Miss Rosen. But Morris had left Russia when he was only two years
old, and the phrase held no meaning for him, though the tone made him
I don't know how he says, Morris reported to Miss Bailey. I says
out of Jewish, 'What is your name, little boy?' und I don't know what
he says. On'y it ain't names, und it ain't lovin'.
Very well, dear, you may go back to your place. I'll keep him here
beside me for a while, answered Teacher, more than ever at a loss, for
the winningness of Morris had never failed to charm a stranger.
At the recess hour, when all the other children filed down into the
yard, Teacher sent Patrick Brennan with a little note to Mr. Eissler,
the teacher of the biggest boys, those nearly ready for graduation. He
was an elderly man wearing well in the service to which the noblest of
his race have always devoted themselves. He and Miss Bailey were great
friends, and much of the understanding of this alien raceits habits,
its emotions, and its innate refinementthe understanding which made
her reign in Room 18 so peaceful and beneficent, she had acquired from
him, and from the books he lent her.
Dear Mr. Eissler, ran the note. Will you come to Room 18 when you
are at leisure? I have rather an interesting specimen of Child Life
which I am keeping for your inspection.
During the short period which had elapsed between the stranger's
arrival and the departure of First Readers, the new-comer had undergone
an entire change of manner. Not that he had softened toward his little
future companions. Rather he grew in hatred and vindictiveness as the
busy morning progressed. It was his attitude toward Miss Bailey which
changed. In the Principal's office and on the way through the halls he
had seemed to waver on the brink of friendliness. But he had sat beside
her desk and had seen her moving up and down through the narrow streets
of her kingdom, encouraging here, laughing there, explaining with
patient care and detail, laying a friendly hand on bent little
shoulders and setting hair ribbons more jauntily erectbehaving, in
fact, with a freedom and affection most evidently reflected and
magnified by her subjects. And as he watched her his little mouth lost
all its softness, and the hard, inscrutable look disfigured him again.
When Mr. Eissler, in response to the summons, opened the door, the
newcomer's back was toward it. He wheeled at the sound, and clear and
quick he lashed out his single phrase.
Miss Bailey chanced to be looking at her old friend, and at the
child's voice saw him cringe and shrink as if from a blow.
There it is again, she cried. That's all we can get him to say.
Tell me, Mr. Eissler, what does it mean?
She got no answer.
The man, in all the dignity of his cutaway and his white linen, was
glaring at the child, and the child, in his ridiculous rags, pitiful,
starved, and dirty, was looking the man over from top to toe with
contemptuous, careless eyes. They stood so for some space, and it was
the man who turned away.
I will not pretend not to understand, said he to Teacher; but I
must decline to translate those words. They bring backthey bring
back! Ah, God! what they bring back!
Ah, yes, I know! said Miss Bailey, in vague but ready sympathy.
I'm very, very sorry.
While this conversation was in progress its object was wandering
about Room 18, surveying its pictures, the canary, the gold-fish bowl,
and the flowery window-boxes with a blasé air. Occasionally he glanced
at Miss Bailey with unfriendly disillusionment. And upon one of these
occasions Mr. Eissler, at Teacher's request, asked him his name.
The boy answered at greater length than before, but, judging by the
man's face, in equally offensive language, and Mr. Eissler turned to
The Principal will have some difficulty, said he, in finding a
teacher who could speak that child's language. It's Russian, pure Court
Russian, and not spoken by our people except when they make a special
study of it. I know it, a little.
And do you care to tell me, asked Miss Bailey, any part of what
he said just now?
He says, the man replied, that he will not speak to Jews or
toand by this he means youa seeming Christian, who makes the Jew
her friend, and allows Jewish babies to touch her hands. You've read of
the Russian autocratic spirit. Well! there you see it. Even in a little
child. It's born in them.
But how did it get here? marvelled Miss Bailey. Here, on the East
Side of New York, where he must be just about as popular as a wolf
Just about, answered Eissler. Of course I'm not going to pretend
to tell you how this particular specimen got here. We've had one or two
cases where the Jews, driven out, kidnapped a Russian child in revenge.
And sometimes Nihilism and other Socialistic societies draw Jew and
Russian together. Perhaps the boy's mother is in Siberia digging
sulphur. Perhaps she's in Petersburg, designing becoming mourning. But
from the look of the boy and the Truant Officer's account of him, I
feel pretty safe in saying she isn't about here.
Yes, I think you're safe in that. He hasn't been washed in a
He'll be better after you've had him awhile, said Mr. Eissler
gallantly. I back you against Hagenbeck as a taming influence.
You flatter me, laughed Miss Bailey. But I'll try. Of course I'll
try. But she had scant opportunity.
At luncheon time the new little boy departed with the others, and at
afternoon session he was not among them, as by law prescribed.
Day after day passed and brought no sign of him. Teacher reported
her bereavement to the authorities, and enjoined the First Readers to
produce the boy or tidings of him, and although they failed to procure
the boy, the tidings were not wanting. They rarely are in East Side
affairs. Morris Mowgelewsky was the first to procure definite
I seen that boy, he announced with pride. I seen him runnin' down
Scannel Street, und I calls und says you likes you should see him in
the school, on'y he runs by a cellar und don't says nothings. He puts
him on just like he was here, und he had awful cold looks. Teacher, he
ain't got no hat, and the snow was coming by his hair. I looks in the
cellar und I had a 'fraid over it the whiles nothings stand in it on'y
push-carts und boxes.
But do you think that he lives in the cellar? queried Teacher.
He don't lives at all, replied Morris. He don't boards
even. He runs all times.
Runs? queried Miss Bailey.
Teacher, yiss, ma'am, runs. He lays in sleep by barrels; comes
somebody, und he runs. He lays in sleep on sidewalks by bak'ry stores
where heat and smell comes; comes somebody, und he runs. He lays in
sleep by wagons, maybe, maybe by stables where horses is, und straw.
All places what he could he lays in sleep, und all places
where he lays comes somebody und he runs.
What's he always running from, Morris?
Teacher, I dun'no. He ain't got no 'fraids. I guess maybe he don't
likes nobody shall make nothings mit him. I tells him how you says he
shall come on the school, und what you think? He hits me a hack in mine
face, und runs on the cellar.
I'd like to see him hit me, said Patrick Brennan, son of the
Policeman on the Beat, a noble scion of a noble sire. Me pop he
wouldn't stand fer no funny play, and urged by Miss Bailey's friendly
attitude toward Morris, he boasted, I'll bring him to school if ye
want me to; I ain't afraid of him. And one afternoon some days later
he did appear with his new little friend.
It had taken six big boys, Patrick, and the janitor to secure his
attendance, and he hardly reaped the benefit which so much effort
deserved, for, except that he was thinner and in a wildly blazing
passion of indignation, his second attendance at Room 18 was much like
Again his studies were interrupted for several days, and it was the
Truant Officer who next restored him to the Halls of Learning. Between
these two appearances Morris had procured further intelligence.
That new boy, he began as always, that new boy he is in
So that's the reason that he fights against school! cried Teacher,
well accustomed to the interference of the sweat shop. I'm very glad
to know his reason for staying away. I was beginning to fear he was not
happy herethat he didn't like us.
Teacher, he don't, said Morris, with the beautiful candor which
adorned all his conversation. He hates us.
But why, why? demanded Miss Bailey.
He hates the childrens, the still candid Morris explained, the
whiles they is Sheenies. He hates you the whiles you is Krisht.
Rather an unfriendly attitude altogether, commented Teacher. And
how do you know he hates me because I'm a Christian?
My mamma tells me how it is. She says he has mads the whiles you is
Krisht und makes all things what is loving mit Sheenies. My mamma says
he is Russians; und Russians they don't makes like that mit Sheenies.
Teacher, no ma'am, loving ain't what Russians makes mit us. They makes
all things what is fierce.
I know, I know, said Constance Bailey, and thenWhat is the
little boy's business?
Teacher, he's a fire-lighter.
A fire-lighter, echoed Miss Bailey, with visions of arson before
her eyes. A fire-lighter, did you say?
Teacher, yiss, ma'am, he is a fire-lighter, but sooner he wants he
could to come on the school the whiles he ain't got no bizzness on'y
And then Miss Bailey understood. She had heard of certain stranded
waifs left high and dry when the ebb of Christianity receded before the
flood of Judaism, and New York's great East Side, once a fashionable
district, then claimed by a thrifty Irish element, became a Ghetto. It
was the Jewish Sabbatical Law which gave the derelicts an opportunity
to earn a few pennies every Saturday, for no orthodox Jew may kindle
fire on the Sabbath. And no frugal Jew, even in the impossible
circumstance of being able to afford it, will keep the stove alight all
through Friday night. Hence he employs a Christian to do the work he
would not stoop to.
And this was the occupation of that amazing new boy! Miss Bailey
clearly saw the path of her duty, and it led her, the lighter of fires
in tow, straight to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to
Children. For some days, however, this path was closed to her
conscientious feet. The boy was lost again, and Miss Bailey, who took
the welfare of her charges very much to heart, was seriously distressed
and uneasy. The First Readers were enlisted as a corps of detectives,
but though they prowled in likely and unlikely spots, they brought no
news of the stranger.
A week went by. The Principal, the Truant Officer, Patrick Brennan's
father, were all informed and enlisted in the quest. But day followed
day empty of news. Mr. Eissler could offer no suggestion, though he
promised that if the child should reappear he would make further and
more patient efforts to elicit some information from him. And then
quite casually one afternoon Sergeant Brennan appeared in Room 18, with
a bundle of rags under his arm.
Here he is for you, Miss, he announced, waving away her
acknowledgments with a stout blue arm before he removed his helmet and
dried his heated brow. I seen him several times since you spoke about
him, but never run him down until now.
Again the child was thinner, and his likeness to a hunted animal was
clearer, more heart-breaking. And how should he be otherwise?
reflected Constance Bailey as she realized that, partly through her
bidding, he actually had been persistently hunted throughout the past
After three o'clock when the First Readers, including the loudly
objecting Board of Monitors, had been sent home, Miss Bailey secured
every exit save the door into the hall, established the new boy in one
of the front row of seats, locked the hall door upon her own retreat,
and sought Mr. Eissler.
The Russian child has turned up again, she told him. I've had him
in the class since lunch time, and I never knew of so disturbing an
element. A band in the street, a piano organ, even the passing of a
fire engine, would have left those babies calmer than his mere presence
did. Did you ever see a poultry yard when a hawk was perched in a
neighboring tree? Well, there you have my class as long as that boy is
in the room. Brainless! Stupid! Huddled in their seats! I declare I
hardly knew them. And he, he hardly looked at one of us.
He'll look at me, said Mr. Eissler, picking up a brass-bound
ruler. By-laws may be by-laws
No, no, cried Teacher, not that. I don't think I could bear it.
And as for him, he would either kill or die. He's almost spent with
rage and starvation. I think you'll find him more amenable than he was
Mr. Eissler did not find him at all. Room 18 awaited them, pleasant,
orderly, and empty. Empty, too, was the whole great building and all
the rooms they searched through, save for the sweeper women who met
their queries blankly. They had noticed no boy.
Again! exclaimed Miss Bailey, almost tearfully, as they returned.
What shall I ever do about him? I meant, you know, to take him now,
this very afternoon, while I had him, up to the Society's rooms in
How often has he been here altogether? asked Mr. Eissler. Teacher
crossed to her desk, sat down at it, and commenced to turn the pages of
the Roll Book with listless hand. Mr. Eissler stood beside her, and
behind them both the door of the supply closet in which all class
necessities were stored opened gently, noiselessly, inch by inch, until
the Fire-lighter stood forth with a sheet of sulphur matches in his
hand. The joy of coming vengeance made his little face look very old as
he advanced upon the unsuspecting backs of his enemies. He struck one
of his matches upon some inner surface of his rags, and as Teacher
pointed and Mr. Eissler stopped to examine all the crosses which marked
one section of the Roll Book, the Fire-lighter held the match to the
hem of Miss Bailey's heavy walking skirt. It burned dully, and the
child had shut himself into the closet again before the smell of fire
was noticed and located.
Then alarmed and excited was Mr. Eissler, but not reduced to panic.
In a moment he had smothered the smoulder, and was beating off the
sparks with his ruler.
Miss Bailey just then chanced to turn toward the closet door and saw
a curl of smoke making its way stealthily through a crack in one of the
panels. Mr. Eissler saw it too, threw the door open, and revealed the
lost childhis rags all smoking and smouldering about him. They threw
Miss Bailey's heavy ulster about him, and rolled him upon the floor,
patting and pressing the bundle until they were quite sure that no fire
remained. Then Teacher, kneeling down, turned back the ulster. Very
quiet and relaxed lay her problem.
Dead? she questioned in terror.
Oh, hardly. Slip your hand in over his heart.
Teacher did so and breathed again. Beating, said she, and withdrew
her hand, and in her cuff-link was entangled a thin string.
Gold, exclaimed Eissler instantly; dirty, but gold.
Miss Bailey drew the chain out further and disclosed a flat locket.
Cut it off and keep it for him, Eissler advised. I'm going to
ring for the ambulance, and I know that there would be precious little
gold left on him by the time he reached the ward. I'll send one of the
women to you as I go. And so Miss Bailey sat on the floor and regarded
this bitter fruit of her striving. A childa little child, hunted,
wounded, as far as she could see even unto death. And for the
thousandth time she let despair roll over her. What was the use? What
was the use?
Some time later up in the dressing-room she was removing as best she
could the marks of her experience, when it occurred to her to examine
the locket. It was a thin gold affair with a smudge of dirt upon each
side of it, and she devoted her efforts to one of these smudges. She
rubbed it with a towel, and stood incredulous, carried back to the
Mystery Stories of her own youth, for a monogram in diamonds winked and
twinkled at her. She tried the other side and unearthed a coronet.
After much careful search she managed to open the locket. And the
Mystery held. On one side a beautiful woman, on the other a coil of
baby hair. All was as it should be.
As she finished the transition from white linen to street attire,
she pondered and marvelled, and by the time her veil was adjusted she
had decided upon her course. This was a case for some one more learned
in Russian ways than Mr. Eissler, and after consulting the nearest
directory she set out for the Russian Consulate. There her demand for
speech with the Consul General was met by the Vice-Consul's bland
regrets that his principal was invisible. Closeted, he reported,
dropping his voice and nodding toward the closed door behind him, with
His Excellency, Prince Epifanoff.
Then, said Miss Bailey, perhaps you can tell me something of your
Russian charities. I want you to direct me to an institution where a
sick little boy can find attention and understanding. He has sadly
lacked both these many weeks, I fear.
The Vice-Consul, a man of heart, listened with kindly but restrained
attention until Miss Bailey produced the locket on its severed chain.
Then even that practised diplomat allowed amazement to overspread him.
May I ask you to wait here for a moment? said he, and it took him
little more than the moment he appointed to disappear through the door
of the inner room, and to reappear.
And may I ask you now, said he, to tell these very interesting
facts to Prince Epifanoff and the Consul?
Constance Bailey was slightly disconcerted by this sudden plunge
into diplomatic waters, and by the extremely thorough, though always
courteous, cross-examination to which she was promptly subjected.
May I ask, she demanded on her own part when she was growing weary
of always answering, whether you have identified the miniature?
We have indeed, answered the Ambassador, a large but otherwise
unalarming personage, with stiff hair arranged à la door-mat.
And not only so: we have been searching for the miniature for almost a
year. Almost a year ago a boy was stolen from a castle in the northern
part of Russia. He was five years old, and the ownersince the
assassination of his fatherof what would make a whole state in this
country of yours. The Nihilists were suspected, this time with some
reason, as it transpired that one of their important membersa
womanhad obtained employment in the castle. She and the child
vanished together. There was little hope that the young Prince would
escape his father's fate, but in the absence of any proof of his death
the whole Russian secret service and the Consular Service were
notified. It was just possible, you see, that his captors would try to
use him as a hostage or as the price of some concession. The woman was
stopped at the frontier. Unfortunately she wasaccidentally, you
understandkilled before she had accounted for the boy, who was not
then with her. As I have said, all this occurred a year ago, and
nothing has been heard of the child. You can imagine the distracted
grief of this fair lady, his mother, touching the miniature.
And you think, cried Miss Bailey, that my little
Is the owner of one of the most exalted titles in Russia, and one
of the richest estates. He wore this locket when he was abducted. But
we are letting time pass. May I ask youthis to the Consulto order
my car? His Highness must be removed at once into suitable
Then my mission is accomplished, said Miss Bailey, and rose to
take her leave. But never had she encountered cordiality so insistent
as these courteous gentlemen then exhibited. She must, she really must,
go to the hospital with them and see the end of the affair. In vain she
pleaded other engagements, and promised to telephone later in the
evening to hear whether the Prince's interview with the waif had
corroborated the evidence of the locket. She was offered the use of the
official telephone for the breaking of her engagements, and when her
hosts left her alone to achieve this purpose, they quite calmly locked
She telephoned some trivial sounding excuse to her long-suffering
friend. Every one who knew her well was accustomed to interruptions by
her school interests. And as she listened to that friend's wailing
remonstrance she was tempted to tell the truth. Locked up in the
Russian Consulate! Prisoner! Involved in Court mystery. Obliged to
produce a Prince of the blood royal or take the consequences. Truly,
she told herself as she hung the receiver on its hook, things were
getting rather uncommon and going rather quickly. And in that moment of
apprehension she strangely drew comfort from the undeniable fit and
texture of her new tailor-made suit, as shown forth in a large mirror
between the window and the door. The contemplation of these
encouragements fortified her until the return of her jailors, and
during the ordeal of being swept through congested traffic by the side
of a Nicolai Sergieevitch Epifanoff, in a bright red motor car.
Arriving at Gouverneur Hospital, she left her companions in
consultation with the Matron and the House Surgeon, while she went up
to the Children's Ward to prepare the mind of her friend and sometime
co-laborer, Miss McCarthy, the Nurse-in-Charge. There was generally a
First Reader or so under Miss McCarthy's care, and the two young women
were great friends.
I was going to send for you, Miss McCarthy began when they had
moved a little away from the door. You've sent us a good many queer
cases, but what do you call your latest?
That's a Russian Prince of high degree, said Teacher.
Yes, he looked like one, laughed the nurse. But you should see
him now that he's washed. He's really not burned at all, she
amplified. Shock, a little; hunger, more; dirt, most.
But do you realize what I tell you? He's a Russian Prince. An
Ambassador and a Consul or two have come to fetch him. They're down in
the reception room, and I came up to make sure that you had him. I
don't know what they would have done to me if I had lost him again.
Oh! we have him, Miss McCarthy assured her when she had heard a
few more details of Miss Bailey's story, and had been properly
impressed thereby. He's there in the third bed on the left. You go
right on in. I'll go down-stairs. They'll want me if he's going to be
Upon the smooth pillow of the third bed there lay a mass of bright
gold hair, gleaming even in the faint light of the shaded electric
lamp. And the hair surrounded a little face whose every line and
contour was beautified, exalted. Teacher turned, incredulous, to make
sure that she was right, but the neighboring beds were empty. Only up
at the far end of the ward were there other shaded lights and a gently
Teacher sat upon the chair by the bedside and watched the sleeping
Fire-lighter. He moaned a little moan. Such a tired little moan! Ah,
this everlasting barrier of speech! Oh, to have been able, now at the
very last, to explain that she was not a demon actuated by cruelty! But
she did not dare to wake him. She knew the effect which the mere sight
of her would produce. And so the little Prince slept on until the big
Prince came softly to his bedside.
Miss Bailey rose and relinquished her chair. The big man noiselessly
took her place, and she stood at the bed's foot. The man looked long
and earnestly at the little sleeping face, then laid his hand on the
soft hair and uttered a short name.
Still asleep, the child answered. And very gently the man asked a
question. Then the baby turned and opened his eyes. The man spoke
again. The little voice answered him, and Miss Bailey left them alone
She waited in the hall, and presently Prince Nicolai Sergieevitch
Epifanoff joined her there.
You have been instrumental, under God, said he, in preserving the
succession of one of our noblest houses. That is the boy. From what he
tells me I judge that the woman who stole him was of the Jewish race.
That she intrusted him to the care of a friend who, with children of
her own, was coming to America. I suppose she was to have reclaimed him
here. We know why she did not. And we can only surmise that the other
woman, not knowing the value of her hostage, either lost or deserted
him. Of course he spent all his time and his baby ingenuity in trying
to get away from her. We shall never know quite definitely. However, my
dear young lady, we have him! And in the name of the great country for
which I am authorized to speak, I thank you. Russia will remember your
name and your great service when other gratitude which now protests
itself to you more vehemently has quite died away.
But, said Constance Bailey, I have not yet heard the true name of
my little Fire-lighter.
Ah! that, said suave Prince Sergieevitch, is a thing of which
even I am not authorized to speak. Your service was to the Nation.
Some months later Miss Bailey visited the Russian Consulate again.
Her presence had been formally requested, and the Consul was formally
awaiting her. The friendly Vice-Consul was in attendance, and Madame
Consul lent her genial presence to the occasion.
They purred congratulations; the whole staff was summoned, and the
Consul made a short address, which produced great enthusiasm in the
audience. He then pinned a scrap of red ribbon into the button-hole of
Miss Bailey's jacket, and handed her a small white leather box. Inside
was a gem-encircled miniaturegorgeous and blazing as the sunshine
broke upon it. The gentle-faced Empress of all the Russias smiled sadly
out at Constance Bailey, and on the reverse, still in diamonds, was the
inscription: For Service.
My mamma, reported Morris Mowgelewsky, choosing a quiet moment
during a writing period to engage his teacher's attention, my mamma
likes you shall come on mine house for see her.
Very well, dear, answered Miss Bailey with a patience born of many
such messages from the parents of her small charges. I think I shall
have time to go this afternoon.
My mamma, Morris began again, she says I shall tell you 'scuse
how she don't sends you no letter. She couldn't to send no letter the
while her eyes ain't healthy.
I am sorry to hear that, said Teacher, with a little stab of
regret for her prompt acceptance of Mrs. Mowgelewsky's invitation; for
of all the ailments which the children shared so generously with their
teacher, Miss Bailey had learned to dread most the many and painful
disorders of the eye. She knew, however, that Mrs. Mowgelewsky was not
one of those who utter unnecessary cries for help, being in this
regard, as in many others, a striking contrast to the majority of
parents with whom Miss Bailey came in contact.
To begin with, Mrs. Mowgelewsky had but one childher precious,
only Morris. In addition to this singularity she was thrifty and neat,
intensely self-respecting and independent of spirit, and astonishingly
outspoken of mind. She neither shared nor understood the gregarious
spirit which bound her neighbors together and is the lubricant which
makes East Side crowding possible without bloodshed. No groups of
chattering, gesticulating matrons ever congregated in her Monroe Street
apartment. No love of gossip ever held her on street corners or on
steps. She nourished few friendships and fewer acquaintanceships, and
she welcomed no haphazard visitor. Her hospitalities were as serious as
her manner; her invitations as deliberate as her slow English speech.
And Miss Bailey, as she and the First Readers followed the order of
studies laid down for them, found herself, again and again, trying to
imagine what the days would be to Mrs. Mowgelewsky if her keen, shrewd
eyes were to be darkened and useless.
At three o'clock she set out with Morris, leaving the Board of
Monitors to set Room 18 to rights with no more direct supervision than
an occasional look and word from the stout Miss Blake, whose kingdom
lay just across the hall. And as she hurried through the early cold of
a November afternoon, her forebodings grew so lugubrious that she was
almost relieved at last to learn that Mrs. Mowgelewsky's complaint was
a slow-forming cataract, and her supplication, that Miss Bailey would
keep a watchful eye upon Morris while his mother was at the hospital
undergoing treatment and operation.
But of course, Miss Bailey agreed, I shall be delighted to do
what I can, Mrs. Mowgelewsky, though it seems to me that one of the
Neighbors! snorted the matron; what you think the neighbors make
mit mine little boy? They got four, five dozens childrens theirselves.
They ain't got no time for look on Morris. They come maybe in mine
house und break mine dishes, und rubber on what is here, und set by
mine furniture und talks. What do they know over takin' care on mine
house? They ain't ladies. They is educated only on the front. Me, I was
raised private and expensive in Russia. I was ladies. Und you ist
ladies. You ist Krishtthat is too badbut that makes mit me
nothings. I wants you shall look on Morris.
But I can't come here and take care of him, Miss Bailey pointed
out. You see that yourself, don't you, Mrs. Mowgelewsky? I am sorry as
I can be about your eyes, and I hope with all my heart that the
operation will be successful. But I shouldn't have time to come here
and take care of things.
That ain't how mine mamma means, Morris explained. He was leaning
against Teacher and stroking her muff as he spoke. Mine mamma means
That ist what I means, said Mrs. Mowgelewsky, nodding her
ponderous head until her quite incredible wig slipped back and forth up
on it. Morris needs he shall have money. He could to fix the house so
good like I can. He don't needs no neighbors rubberin'. He could to buy
what he needs on the store. But ten cents a day he needs. His papa
works by Harlem. He is got fine jobs, und he gets fine moneys, but he
couldn't to come down here for take care of Morris. Und the doctor he
says I shall go now on the hospital. Und any way, she added
sadly, I ain't no good; I couldn't to see things. He says I shall lay
in the hospital three weeks, maybethat is twenty-one daysund for
Morris it is two dollars und ten cents. I got the money. And she
fumbled for her purse in various hiding-places about her ample person.
And you want me to be banker, cried Miss Bailey; to keep the
money and give Morris ten cents a dayis that it?
Sure, answered Mrs. Mowgelewsky.
It's a awful lot of money, grieved Morris. Ten cents a day is a
awful lot of money for one boy.
No, no, my golden one, cried his mother. It is but right that
thou shouldst have plenty of money, und thy teacher, a Christian lady,
though honestund what neighbor is honest?will give thee ten cents
every morning. Behold, I pay the rent before I go, und with the rent
paid und with ten cents a day thou wilt live like a landlord.
Yes, yes, Morris broke in, evidently repeating some familiar
warning, und every day I will say mine prayers und wash me the face,
und keep the neighbors out, und on Thursdays und on Sundays I shall go
on the hospital for see you.
And on Saturdays, broke in Miss Bailey, you will come to my house
and spend the day with me. He's too little, Mrs. Mowgelewsky, to go to
the synagogue alone.
That could be awful nice, breathed Morris. I likes I shall go on
your house. I am lovin' much mit your dog.
How? snorted his mother. Dogs! Dogs ain't nothing only
foolishness. They eats something fierce, und they don't works.
That iss how mine mamma thinks, Morris hastened to explain, lest
the sensitive feelings of his Lady Paramount should suffer. But mine
mamma she never seen your dog. He iss a awful nice dog; I am
lovin' much mit him.
I don't needs I shall see him, said Mrs. Mowgelewsky, somewhat
tartly. I seen, already, lots from dogs. Don't you go make no
foolishness mit him. Don't you go und get chawed off of him.
Of course not, of course not, Miss Bailey hastened to assure her;
he will only play with Rover if I should be busy or unable to take him
out with me. He'll be safer at my house than he would be on the
streets, and you wouldn't expect him to stay in the house all day.
After more parley and many warnings the arrangement was completed.
Miss Bailey was intrusted with two dollars and ten cents, and the
censorship of Morris. A day or so later Mrs. Mowgelewsky retired,
indomitable, to her darkened room in the hospital, and the neighbors
were inexorably shut out of her apartment. All their offers of help,
all their proffers of advice were politely refused by Morris, all their
questions and visits politely dodged. And every morning Miss Bailey
handed her Monitor of the Gold Fish Bowl his princely stipend, adding
to it from time to time some fruit or other uncontaminated food, for
Morris was religiously the strictest of the strict, and could have
given cards and spades to many a minor rabbi on the intricacies of
The Saturday after his mother's departure Morris spent in the
enlivening companionship of the antiquated Rover, a collie who no
longer roved farther than his own back yard, and who accepted Morris's
frank admiration with a noble condescension and a few rheumatic
gambols. Miss Bailey's mother was also hospitable, and her sister did
what she could to amuse the quaint little child with the big eyes, the
soft voice, and the pretty foreign manners. But Morris preferred Rover
to any of them, except perhaps the cook, who allowed him to prepare a
luncheon for himself after his own little rites.
Everything had seemed so pleasant and so successful that Miss Bailey
looked upon a repetition of this visit as a matter of course, and was
greatly surprised on the succeeding Friday afternoon when the Monitor
of the Gold Fish Bowl said that he intended to spend the next day at
Oh, no! she remonstrated, you mustn't stay at home. I'm going to
take you out to the Park and we are going to have all kinds of fun.
Wouldn't you rather go and see the lions and the elephants with me than
stay at home all by yourself?
For some space Morris was a prey to silence, then he managed by a
I ain't by mineself.
Has your father come home? said Teacher.
And surely it's not a neighbor. You remember what your mother said
about the neighbors, how you were not to let them in.
It ain't neighbors, said Morris.
Then who? began Miss Bailey.
Morris raised his eyes to hers, his beautiful, black, pleading eyes,
praying for the understanding and the sympathy which had never failed
him yet. It's a friend, he answered.
Nathan Spiderwitz? she asked.
Morris shook his head, and gave Teacher to understand that the
Monitor of the Window Boxes came under the ban of neighbor.
Well, who is it, dearest? she asked again. Is it any one that I
None of the boys in the school?
Have you known him long?
Does your mother know him?
Oh, Teacher, no, ma'am! mine mamma don't know him.
Well, where did you meet him?
Teacher, on the curb. Over yesterday on the night, Morris began,
seeing that explanation was inevitable. I lays on mine bed, und I
thinks how mine mamma has got a sickness, und how mine papa is by
Harlem, und how I ain't got nobody beside of me. Und, Teacher, it makes
me cold in mine heart. So I couldn't to lay no more, so I puts me on
mit mine clothes some more, und I goes by the street the while peoples
is there, und I needs I shall see peoples. So I sets by the curb, und
mine heart it go und it go so I couldn't to feel how it go in mine
inside. Und I thinks on my mamma, how I seen her mit bangages on the
face, und mine heart it goes some more. Und, Teacher, Missis Bailey, I
cries over it.
Of course you did, honey, said Teacher, putting her arm about him.
Poor, little, lonely chap! Of course you cried.
Teacher, yiss, ma'am; it ain't fer boys they shall cry, but I cries
over it. Und soon something touches me by mine side, und I turns und
mine friend he was sittin' by side of me. Und he don't say nothings, Teacher; no, ma'am; he don't say nothings, only he looks on me, und in
his eyes stands tears. So that makes me better in mine heart, und I
don't cries no more. I sets und looks on mine friend, und mine friend
he sets und looks on me mit smilin' looks. So I goes by mine house, und
mine friend he comes by mine house, too, und I lays by mine bed, und
mine friend he lays by mine side. Und all times in that night sooner I
open mine eyes und thinks on how mine mamma is got a sickness, und mine
papa is by Harlem, mine friend he is by mine side, und I don't cries. I
don't cries never no more the whiles mine friend is by me. Und I
couldn't to go on your house to-morrow the whiles I don't know if mine
friend likes Rover.
Of course he'd like him, cried Miss Bailey. Rover would play with
him just as he plays with you.
No, ma'am, Morris maintained; mine friend is too little for play
Is he such a little fellow?
Yiss, ma'am; awful little.
And has he been with you ever since the day before yesterday?
Teacher, yiss, ma'am.
Does he seem to be happy and all right?
Teacher, yiss, ma'am.
But, asked Miss Bailey, suddenly practical, what does the poor
little fellow eat? Of course ten cents would buy a lot of food
for one boy, but not so very much for two.
Teacher, no, ma'am, says Morris; it ain't so very much.
Well, then, said Miss Bailey, suppose I give you twenty cents a
day as long as a little strange friend is with you.
That could to be awful nice, Morris agreed; und, Missis Bailey,
he went on, sooner you don't needs all yours lunch mine friend could
eat it, maybe.
Oh, I'm so sorry, she cried; it's ham to-day.
That don't make nothings mit mine friend, said Morris; he likes
Now, Morris, said Miss Bailey very gravely, as all the meanings of
this announcement spread themselves before her, this is a very serious
thing. You know how your mother feels about strangers, and you know how
she feels about Christians, and what will she say to youand what will
she say to mewhen she hears that a strange little Christian is living
with you? Of course, dearie, I know it's nice for you to have company,
and I know that you must be dreadfully lonely in the long evenings, but
I'm afraid your mother will not be pleased to think of your having
somebody to stay with you. Wouldn't you rather come to my house and
live there all the time until your mother is better? You know, she
added as a crowning inducement, Rover is there.
But Morris betrayed no enthusiasm. I guess, said he, I ain't
lovin' so awful much mit Rover. He iss too big. I am likin' little dogs
mit brown eyes, what walks by their legs und carries things by their
mouths. Did you ever see dogs like that?
In the circus, answered Teacher. Where did you see them?
A boy by our block, answered Morris, is got one. He is lovin'
much mit that dog und that dog is lovin' much mit him.
Well, now, perhaps you could teach Rover to walk on his hind legs,
and carry things in his mouth, suggested Teacher; and as for this new
little Christian friend of yours
I don't know be he a Krisht, Morris admitted with reluctant
candor; he ain't said nothin' over it to me. On'y a Irisher lady what
lives by our house, she says mine friend is a Irisher.
Very well, dear; then of course he's a Christian, Miss Bailey
assured him, and I shan't interfere with you to-morrowyou may stay
at home and play with him. But we can't let it go on, you know. This
kind of thing never would do when your mother comes back from the
hospital. She might not want your friend in the house. Have you thought
of that at all, Morris? You must make your friend understand it.
I tells him, Morris promised; I don't know can he understand.
He's pretty little, only that's how I tells him all times.
Then tell him once again, honey, Miss Bailey advised, and make
him understand that he must go back to his own people as soon as your
mother is well. Where are his own people? I can't understand how any
one so little could be wandering about with no one to take care of
Teacher, I'm takin' care of him, Morris pointed out.
All that night and all the succeeding day Miss Bailey's imagination
reverted again and again to the two little ones keeping house in Mrs.
Mowgelewsky's immaculate apartment. Even increasing blindness had not
been allowed to interfere with sweeping and scrubbing and dusting, and
when Teacher thought of that patient matron, as she lay in her hospital
cot trusting so securely to her Christian friend's guardianship of her
son and home, she fretted herself into feeling that it was her duty to
go down to Monroe Street and investigate.
There was at first no sound when, after climbing endless stairs, she
came to Mrs. Mowgelewsky's door. But as the thumping of the heart and
the singing in her ears abated somewhat, she detected Morris's familiar
Bread, it said, iss awful healthy for you, only you dasn't eat it
'out chewin'. I never in my world seen how you eats.
Although the words were admonitory, they lost all didactic effect by
the wealth of love and tenderness which sang in the voice. There was a
note of happiness in it, too, a throb of pure enjoyment quite foreign
to Teacher's knowledge of this sad-eyed little charge of hers. She
rested against the door frame, and Morris went on:
I guess you don't know what iss polite. You shall better come on
the school, und Miss Bailey could to learn you what iss polite and
healthy fer you. No, you couldn't to have no meat! No, sir! No,
ma'am! You couldn't to have no meat 'til I cuts it fer you. You
could to, maybe, make yourself a sickness und a bashfulness.
Miss Bailey put her hand on the door and it yielded noiselessly to
her touch, and revealed to her guardian eyes her ward and his little
friend. They were seated vis-à-vis at the table; everything was
very neat and clean and most properly set out. A little lamp was
burning clearly. Morris's hair was parted for about an inch back from
his forehead and sleeked wetly down upon his brow. The guest had
evidently undergone similar preparation for the meal. Each had a napkin
tied around his neck, and as Teacher watched them, Morris carefully
prepared his guest's dinner, while the guest, an Irish terrier, with
quick eyes and one down-flopped ear, accepted his admonishings with a
good-natured grace, and watched him with an adoring and confiding eye.
The guest was first to detect the stranger's presence. He seized a
piece of bread in his teeth, jumped to the ground, and walking up to
Teacher on his hind legs, hospitably dropped the refreshment at her
Oh! Teacher! Teacher! cried Morris, half in dismay at discovery,
and half in joy that this so sure confidant should share his secret and
appreciate his friend. Oh! Teacher! Missis Bailey! this is the friend
what I was telling you over. See how he walks on his feet! See how he
has got smilin' looks! See how he carries somethings by his teeth! All
times he makes like that. Rover, he don't carries nothin's, und gold
fishes, they ain't got no feet even. On'y Izzie could to make them
Oh, is his name Izzie? asked Miss Bailey, grasping at this
conversational straw and shaking the paw which the stranger was
presenting to her. And this is the friend you told me about? You let
me think, she chided, with as much severity as Morris had shown to his
Izzie, that he was a boy.
I had a 'fraid, said the Monitor of the Gold Fish Bowl frankly.
So had Teacher as she reviewed the situation from Mrs. Mowgelewsky's
chair of state, and watched the friends at supper. It was a revelation
of solicitude on one side, and patient gratitude on the other. Morris
ate hardly anything, and was soon at Teacher's kneeIzzie was in her
lapdiscussing ways and means.
He refused to entertain any plan which would separate him
immediately from Izzie, but he was at last brought to see the sweet
reasonableness of preparing his mother's mind by degrees to accept
another member to the family.
Und he eats, his protector was forced to admithe eats somethin'
fierce, Missis Bailey; as much like a man he eats. Und my mamma, I
don't know what will she say. She won't leave me I shall keep him; from
long I had a little bit of a dog, und she wouldn't to leave me I should
keep him, und he didn't eat so much like Izzie eats, neither.
And I can't very well keep him, said Miss Bailey sadly,
because, you see, there is Rover. Rover mightn't like it. But there is
one thing I can do: I'll keep him for a few days when your mother comes
back, and then we'll see, you and I, if we can persuade her to let you
have him always.
She wouldn't never to do it, said Morris sadly. That other dog,
didn't I told you how he didn't eat so much like Izzie, and she
wouldn't to leave me have him. That's a cinch.
Oh! don't say that word, dear, cried Teacher. And we can only
try. We'll do our very, very best.
This guilty secret had a very dampening effect upon the joy with
which Morris watched for his mother's recovery. Upon the day set for
her return, he was a miserable battle-field of love and duty. Early in
the morning Izzie had been transferred to Miss Bailey's yard. Rover was
chained to his house, Izzie was tied to the wall at a safe distance
from him, and they proceeded to make the day hideous for the whole
Morris remained at home to greet his mother, received her encomiums,
cooked the dinner, and set out for afternoon school with a heavy heart
and a heavier conscience. Nothing had occurred in those first hours to
show any change in Mrs. Mowgelewsky's opinion of home pets; rather she
seemed, in contrast to the mild and sympathetic Miss Bailey, more than
ever dictatorial and dogmatic.
At a quarter after three, the gold fish having received perfunctory
attention, and the Board of Monitors being left again to do their
worst, unguarded, Morris and Teacher set out to prepare Mrs.
Mowgelewsky's mind for the adoption of Izzie. They found it very
difficult. Mrs. Mowgelewsky, restored of vision, was so hospitable, so
festive in her elephantine manner, so loquacious and so
self-congratulatory, that it was difficult to insert even the tiniest
conversational wedge into the structure of her monologue.
Finally Miss Bailey managed to catch her attention upon financial
matters. You gave me, she said, two dollars and ten cents, and
Morris has managed so beautifully that he has not used it all, and has
five cents to return to you. He's a very wonderful little boy, Mrs.
Mowgelewsky, she added, smiling at her favorite to give him courage.
He iss a good boy, Mrs. Mowgelewsky admitted. Don't you get
lonesome sometimes by yourself here, huh?
Well, said Miss Bailey, he wasn't always alone.
No? queried the matron with a divided attention. She was looking
for her purse, in which she wished to stow Morris's surplus.
No, said Teacher; I was here once or twice. And then a little
friend of his
Friend! the mother repeated with a glare; was friends here in
Miss Bailey began a purposely vague reply, but Mrs. Mowgelewsky was
not listening to her. She had searched the pockets of the gown she
wore, then various other hiding-places in the region of its waist line,
then a large bag of mattress covering which she wore under her skirt.
Ever hurriedly and more hurriedly she repeated this performance two or
three times, and then proceeded to shake and wring the out-door
clothing which she had worn that morning.
Gott! she broke out at last, mine Gott! mine Gott! it don't
stands. And she began to peer about the floor with eyes not yet quite
adjusted. Morris easily recognized the symptoms.
She's lost her pocket-book, he told Miss Bailey.
Yes, I lost it, wailed Mrs. Mowgelewsky, and then the whole party
participated in the search. Over and under the furniture, the carpets,
the bed, the stove, over and under everything in the apartment went
Mrs. Mowgelewsky and Morris. All the joy of home-coming and of
well-being was darkened and blotted out by this new calamity. And Mrs.
Mowgelewsky beat her breast and tore her hair, and Constance Bailey
almost wept in sympathy. But the pocket-book was gone, absolutely gone,
though Mrs. Mowgelewsky called Heaven and earth to witness that she had
had it in her hand when she came in.
Another month's rent was due; the money to pay it was in the
pocket-book. Mr. Mowgelewsky had visited his wife on Sunday, and had
given her all his earnings as some salve to the pain of her eyes.
Eviction, starvation, every kind of terror and disaster were thrown
into Mrs. Mowgelewsky's wailing, and Morris proved an able second to
Miss Bailey was doing frantic bookkeeping in her charitable mind,
and was wondering how much of the loss she might replace. She was about
to suggest as a last resort that a search should be made of the dark
and crannied stairs, where a purse, if the Fates were very, very kind,
might lie undiscovered for hours when a dull scratching made itself
heard through the general lamentation. It came from a point far down on
the panel of the door, and the same horrible conviction seized upon
Morris and upon Miss Bailey at the same moment.
Mrs. Mowgelewsky in her frantic round had approached the door for
the one-hundredth time, and with eyes and mind far removed from what
she was doing, she turned the handle. And entered Izzie, beautifully
erect upon his hind legs, with a yard or two of rope trailing behind
him, and a pocket-book fast in his teeth.
Blank, pure surprise took Mrs. Mowgelewsky for its own. She
staggered back into a chair, fortunately of heavy architecture, and
stared at the apparition before her. Izzie came daintily in, sniffed at
Morris, sniffed at Miss Bailey, sniffed at Mrs. Mowgelewsky's ample
skirts, identified her as the owner of the pocket-book, laid it at her
feet, and extended a paw to be shaken.
Mine Gott! said Mrs. Mowgelewsky, what for a dog iss that? She
counted her wealth, shook Izzie's paw, and then stooped forward,
gathered him into her large embrace, and cried like a baby. Mine Gott!
Mine Gott! she wailed again, and although she spent five minutes in
apparent effort to evolve another and more suitable remark, her
research met with no greater success than the addition:
He ain't a dog at all; he iss friends.
Miss Bailey had been sent to an eminently good college, and had been
instructed long and hard in psychology, so that she knew the
psychologic moment when she met it. She now arose with congratulations
and farewells. Mrs. Mowgelewsky arose also with Izzie still in her
arms. She lavished endearments upon him and caresses upon his short
black nose, and Izzie received them all with enthusiastic gratitude.
And I think, said Miss Bailey in parting, that you had better let
that dog come with me. He seems a nice enough little thing, quiet,
gentle, and very intelligent. He can live in the yard with Rover.
[Illustration: She staggered back into a chair, fortunately of heavy
architecture, and stared at the apparition before her]
Morris turned his large eyes from one to another of his rulers, and
Izzie, also good at psychologic moments, stretched out a pointed pink
tongue and licked Mrs. Mowgelewsky's cheek. This dog, said that lady
majestically, iss mine. Nobody couldn't never to have him. When I was
in mine trouble, was it mans or was it ladies what takes und gives me
mine money back? No! Was it neighbors? No! Was it you, Miss Teacher,
mine friend? No! It was that dog. Here he stays mit me. Morris, my
golden one, you wouldn't to have no feelin's 'bout mamma havin' dogs?
You wouldn't to have mads?
No, ma'am, responded her obedient son; Missis Bailey she says
it's fer boys they should make all things what is lovin' mit
cats und dogs und horses.
Goot, said his mother; I guess, maybe, that ain't such a
It was not until nearly bedtime that Mrs. Mowgelewsky reverted to
that part of Miss Bailey's conversation immediately preceding the
discovery of the loss of the purse.
So-o-oh, my golden one, she began, lying back in her chair with
Izzie on her lapso-o-oh, you had friends by the house when mamma was
On'y one, Morris answered faintly.
Well, I ain't scoldin', said his mother. Where iss your friend? I
likes I shall look on him. Ain't he comin' round to-night?
No, ma'am, answered Morris, settling himself at her side, and
laying his head close to his friend. He couldn't to go out by nights
the while he gets adopted off of a lady.
THE MAGIC CAPE
The heart of the janitor of an East Side school is not commonly
supposed to be a tender organ. And yet to Miss Bailey, busy with
roll-books and the average attendance of First Readers, there entered
the janitor with an air half apologetic, half defiant. There was snow
upon the janitor's cap and little icicles upon his red mustache, for a
premature blizzard had closed down upon New York during the last days
Well, Mr. McGrath, what can I do for you? asked Miss Bailey
pleasantly, for McGrath was the true despot of the school, controlling
light and air and heat and cold, and his good-will was a thing worth
I just stepped in, answered this kindly god of the machine, to
pass the remark that there's one of your children, a girl what oughtn't
to be left down in the yard with the others, waiting for the bell to
ring and let them up. She ain't dressed for it.
So few of them are, said Miss Bailey sadly. I wish you could send
them all straight up here instead of lining them up in the cold. Some
of them are so determined to be in time that they have to wait down
there for ten or fifteen minutes.
I know they do, the janitor acquiesced. But I can't let them all
up. But this little girl I'm telling you aboutyou know hershe wears
a blue gingham dress, andhe dropped his voice to confidential
pitchand mighty little else as I can see.
Yes, yes, said Miss Bailey, that is Becky Zabrowsky.
Well, I could pass her right straight up to you here where
it's warm. I'm a married man myself, and I've got kids of my own, so I
guess you'll excuse me butting in on this.
But I shall be very grateful to you, cried Teacher. It breaks my
heart to see her. And she comes dressed just as you say, whatever the
weather may be.
After a few professional questions as to heating and sweeping, after
taking the temperature of the radiators with a thermometric hand, and
examining their valves, the janitor withdrew, and when Miss Bailey
reached Room 18 on the next morning, Becky Zabrowsky, as blue of lips
and fingers as of vesture, was waiting for her. And indeed her costume
gave cause for pity, even as her smile and her bravery gave cause for
tears. Besides the gingham dress referred to by the janitor, she wore a
pair of black and pink stockings, of mature growth and many holes,
flapping adult shoes with all the buttons gone, and a hair ribbon which
had begun life as a bandage. That was all. But she was clean. And her
self-respect made her seven years as high a barrier against patronage
as though they had been seventy. She was as proudly and as sensitively
on her guard as though she were an old marquise fallen upon evil days,
and obliged to give lessons in French or die, and who was restrained
from the bitter and pleasanter alternative only by religion.
Miss Bailey was accustomed to more normal children. As a rule her
little First Readers took all that was offered to them, and a good deal
that was not. Their consumption of Kindergarten materialscolored
paper, colored sticks, chalks, pencils, booksanything which could be
cached upon the human bodywas colossal, and only an eagle eye and a
large corps of subsidized monitors kept the balance true between the
number of young learners and the number of readers. But this
particular little Becky had none of these taking ways. Had she been
like other Beckies and Rachels, Miss Bailey would have bought her a
little shawl and a few suits of underwear. With this particular Becky
such a liberty was out of the question. Teacher had encountered the
Zabrowsky spirit once, and had been defeated by it.
That had been upon the question of lunch. Teacher had noticed that
Becky frequently remained at school during the luncheon hour, but that
she never ate anything. Other little girls sometimes urged refreshment
upon her in vain. Miss Bailey, wise by this time in the laws of kosher
and of traff, the clean and the unclean, according to Mosaic dietary
laws, suggested a glass of milk at a neighboring dairy, or a roll from
the delicatessen shop across the street. Any one of her charges would
starve cheerfully to death or at the hospital ward before they would
touch any of her food. She was a Christian, and though they loved her,
learned from her, and honored her, they, like Shylock of old, would not
eat with her. And Becky Zabrowsky, adding pride unto faith, and manners
unto both, would smile her heart-breaking smile, shake her
bandage-bowed head, and go on starving.
Teacher, I tells you s'cuse, I don't needs I shall eat, was her
always courteous answer. And not all Miss Bailey's tact or wiles could
prevail against it.
It was at about this time that Miss Bailey in her unofficial
capacity accepted an invitation to a costume dance. Looking through old
trunks and long-neglected shelves, she came upon a little tight-fitting
shoulder cape of prehistoric date and fashion. It was such a cape as
you can find in some of Du Maurier's drawings. It pinned the wearer's
arms to her side, it gagged her tightly around the throat, it was of
velvet, and its color was royal blue.
Constance Bailey, peering back into the dim vista of the years,
could remember the pride and happiness which she had felt when her
over-indulgent grandmother had given her, then a child of about twelve,
this gorgeous garment. She could remember how it had dwarfed and faded
the rest of her wardrobe, how she had wept to wear it upon all possible
and impossible occasions, and how tragic had been the moment when it
refused to meet across her loving breast.
Here, she thought triumphantly, was something before which the
Zabrowsky spirit would break down. It did not in any way suggest the
useful, serviceable, humiliating, charitable devotion. It was gay and
festive, palpably a gift, and Teacher, with many misgivings but some
hope, submitted it to Becky's consideration. She represented that she
had herself outgrown it, that she had no costume with which it could
appropriately be worn, that it was menaced by moths, a prey to creases,
and a responsibility under which she could no longer find peace or
security. Under the circumstances, she pleaded, would Becky relieve her
of it? And Becky was delighted, translated, enchanted. She would never
allow that cape to hang with the ordinary outdoor apparel of the other
members of the class. It rested in her desk when she was busy, and she
lulled it in her arms when she was not. Before coming into this shining
fortune she had been rather looked down upon by other members of the
class, and had avoided publicity in every possible way. She had with
chattering teeth and livid lips assured her more warmly clad classmates
that she was all times too hot on the skin, and that her mamma
considered her Sunday coat too stylish to wear at school. But, girded
in blue velvet, she was another child. Once the most retiring of the
class, she now became the least so. Once the most studious, she now
yearned to be sent on outpost duty, on small shopping expeditions for
her teacher, to the Principal's office, or to other class rooms with
notes or with new students. And upon all these expeditions she wore an
air of conscious correctness and the royal-blue velvet cape. She had
once been the most truthful of small persons, but the glory of the cape
tinged everything, and she allowed the other children to infernay,
she even definitely statedthat this was the Sunday coat earlier
referred to, and that she was wearing it to school because it had been
superseded by another even more wonderful. Her auditors were too
impressed to be unconvinced, and, to cover her very literal nakedness
in every other respect, she invented for herself an entirely new
Say, Becky, one of the little girls in her class asked her, don't
you never put yourself on mit underwear nor underclothes? Ain't you
scared you should to get cold in your bones? My mamma, she puts me on
mit all from wool underwearcosts twenty-seven cents a suit by Grand
Streetand I puts them on when the school opens, and I don't takes
them off to the fourth of July.
Oh, retorted Becky, with more truth than she knew, it ain't so
awful healthy you should make like that. My mamma says it is healthy
for me the wind shall come on my skin. She says sooner no wind comes
outside of your skin, no blood could go inside of your skin. And don't
you know how teacher says what somebody what ain't got blood going in
them is dead ones?
Und you likes, marvelled her friend, you likes the
wind shall blow on you?
Sure, lied Becky, with a shiver, and she certainly had her wish.
But these appearances were only kept up for the eyes of the common
herd. In the sanctuary of Teacher's confidence she was more unreserved,
and whenever she could secure that young lady's kind ear, she bombarded
it with gratitude and with reports of the impression made in the
neighborhood of her one-roomed home by the shining splendor of that
Sooner I comes on mine house, she reported, sooner all the ladies
opens the doors and rubbers on mine cape. Sooner I walks by my block
all the children wants I shall let them wear it. Only I won't let
nobody wear it the while it is a present off of you.
That's very nice of you, smiled Miss Bailey, not surprised at this
new delicacy of feeling in so small and unfortunate and sorely tried a
heart. Very nice of you indeed.
Sure I won't let anybody wear it, reiterated Becky, not 'out they
pays me a penny for walkin' up and down the block, and two cents for
walkin' all round the block mit mine stylish from-plush cape.
Of course not, Teacher agreed, hastily adjusting herself to this
standard of right dealing.
No, ma'am, said Becky. I should never leave nobody have nothings
what you gives me 'out they pays me good. The lady of our floor, she
goes on a dancing-ball over yesterday, and she wants I shall leave her
put her on mit mine capeshe's a awful little ladyonly she don't
wants she shall pay me. Und so I ain't let her take it, the while you
gives it to me, and I am loving much mit you.
A teacher who gains the confidence of her small charges, even to a
slight degree, is sure to be made familiar with their family history
unto the third or fourth generation. And so Teacher knew that the
poverty of Becky's home life was embittered and made even harder to
bear by the contrasting elegance of an aunt, who lived, amid rank and
fashion, in the tony purlieus of Cherry Street. Her abode consisted,
according to her smarting small relative, of a room and a closet, a
lavish and extravagant area for a household as small as hers.
Why, Becky informed Miss Bailey, with upturned palms, upscrewed
shoulders, and upturned eyes, my aunt, she ain't got only five
children and three boarders!
It had been the habit of this rich and fashionable dame to pay
visits of state and ceremony to her less fortunate sister-in-law, whose
abode differed from hers only by the subtraction of the room. There, in
the chaste consciousness of an incredible wig and an impenetrable
shawl, she would monopolize many hundreds of cubic feet of space and
air; indulge in conversations of the elegant and fashionable kind,
which, so Becky reported to her teacher, makes the tears in my mamma's
eyes, and gives my papa shamed feelings, and caused an epidemic of
ill-temper, with resulting slaps and kicks and yelling among her
nephews and nieces.
And what you think? Becky had sadly added; she says like that all
times on my mamma, out of Jewish, she says: 'Why don't you never come
over for see me?' Und my mamma, she says all times, mit more tears in
the eyesbend down your head, Teacher. I likes I shall whisper mit you
in your earshe couldn't come the whiles she ain't got nothing she
could wear on the block. My papa has fierce feelings over it. He says
like that, his sisterthat's my auntis awful nosy.
Teacher often pondered as to whether it were possible, or even
desirable, to provide the means to more frequent intercourse between
the two families. She knew that this would mean shopping; that any
article of her own apparel, or that of any of her friends, would be
inadequate to enshroud the matronly form of Becky's mother, for years
of confinement to the house, years of sedentary occupation, and years
of ill-considered and ill-adapted diet had co-operated to produce
almost geographical outlines in Mrs. Zabrowsky. Mountains, valleys,
promontories, and plains seemed the terms most suitable to describe
her, and she looked about as movable as these natural formations.
Teacher thought of waiting until Christmas time, and of then doing
something anonymously. Meanwhile the episode of the cape occurred, and
some weeks later Becky reported with triumph:
Teacher, what you think? this was always her opening phrase; my
stylish aunt by Cherry Street, she goes and has a party, und my papa he
goes on the party, und my mamma, she goes by my papa's side.
Then she bought a shawl, cried Teacher. I am ever and ever so
Becky shook her head.
No, ma'am, she don't needs she shall buy no shawl. She puts her on
mit mine blue from-plush cape.
A vision of Becky's mother rose before Teacher's eyes, flanked by
another of the tiny cape, and she laughed.
But that is impossible, my dear. She couldn't.
Teacher, she does.
But, Becky, cried Teacher, how could she? You know that the cape
is too small for me, and it is only the right size for you, and you
know your mamma is twice as big as both of us. So how could she wear
it, dear? It never could have hooked up the front.
No, ma'am, it didn't hook, Becky admitted. My mamma's back needs
the most of it, und in front it don't fits very good, only that makes
mit my mamma nothings. She goes on my nosy auntie's party mit proud
feelings, the while she knows how her back is stylish. Und in the front
where the cape don't goes, my mamma, she wears my little sister.
What! gasped my friend. What did you say she wore in the front?
She wears the baby, Becky repeated. Und my nosy auntie's awful
fresh. She says like that on my mamma: 'Don't you likes you shall lay
the baby down by the bed?' She says like that, the while she knows my
mamma ain't got capes only in back, und she wants my mamma shall have
shamed feelings before all the peoples what is on the party. Und my
mamma, she says like that, just as smart, she says: 'No, I guess I
don't likes I shall lay my baby on no strange beds. It ain't healthy,
maybe.' And she holds the baby, and nobody knows how the front from
that cape is, und my mamma enjoyed a pleasant time, and my papa had a
Miss Bailey, said Miss Blake, entering Room 18 during the lunch
hour of a day in January, shortly after school had recovered from the
Christmas holidays, might I come in for a few moments this afternoon
to observe your children? I suppose I shall be having them next term.
Too bad you first-grade teachers never know what you are going to get
down here! It's different up town, where the kids nearly all go to
kindergarten. Down here they sweep them right in off the street.
Miss Bailey extended a cordial invitation to her colleague and
neighbor to visit Room 18 at any convenient hour. And as she proceeded
with her solitary luncheon, she was conscious of a heaviness in the
region of her heart not due to indigestion. She had committed the folly
of growing fond of that term's crop of little First Readers. Room 18
without Patrick Brennan, Morris Mowgelewsky, Eva Gonorowsky, and all
her other aide-de-camps and monitors would be a desolate place. And
Miss Bailey, as she munched a chicken sandwich, objected strongly to
Miss Blake's expressive phrase, sweep them right in off the street.
Yet it was quite true. The children of whom she was now so fond had
been swept in to her in September, and she remembered that a
considerable portion of the street would seem to have been swept in
with them. They had since learned the art of scraping their small shoes
on intervening stairs and through intervening halls, but as recruits
they had been all that she dreaded in their successors. Miss Blake
would now reap the benefit of this and other improvements, while Miss
Bailey devoted her energies to a new invoice of seedlings.
Such, of course, was life. Especially a teacher's life. But Miss
Bailey was new to her trade and had not yet learned the philosophic,
impersonal view-point of the gardener. She loved her little plants
individually, and she shrank from the idea of pulling them out of their
places under the protecting glass of her care, and handing them over to
the ministrations of another.
The promise of new seedlings did not comfort her. She felt outraged
by it, as a man bereaved of a fox terrier may feel toward the friend to
whom a dog is a dog, and who boasts that he knows where he can get
another worth two of the dear departed.
In the afternoon Miss Blake appeared, and the unsuspecting First
Readers were put through their paces. They sang, they marched, they
read, and they wrote. They would have gone gallantly on through all the
other subjects in their curriculum if she had found time to stay, but
she had left Room 19 in charge of a monitor, and that monitor's
inability to preserve order made itself heard through door and wall, so
that presently she declared herself quite satisfied, and retired to her
own kingdom. A deadly silence followed upon her arrival there.
They has awful 'fraids over her, Sarah Schodsky remarked. A girl
by her class tells me how she throws rulers once on a boy.
I'd have a 'fraid over her too, cried Yetta Aaronsohn. I don't
like I shall have no teachers what is big like that. I have all times
'fraids over big teachers.
You've never had one, laughed Miss Bailey, so don't talk
nonsense. Big teachers are much nicer than little ones.
They ain't fer me, Yetta maintained. I ain't never had no teacher
on'y you, and I don't needs I shall never have no teacher on'y you.
From these conversational straws Miss Bailey gathered that it would
be unwise to insist too strongly upon the personal element in
developing the promotion thought. Promotion had formed no part in the
experience or the vocabulary of the First Readers Class before Miss
Bailey somewhat guilefully introduced it.
The children were delighted. They always loved things vague and
looming, and Miss Baileyanimated by dutyspoke so enthusiastically
of promotion that they all thrilled to experience it. The phrase, when
I'm 'moted, grew very fashionable. No one knew exactly what it meant,
but it was something more imminent than the when I'm big of the boys,
and the when I git married of the girls. It was something, too, in
which one's prowess as a reader and writer was to count for
righteousness; For of course, Miss Bailey explained, we can't expect
to be promoted if we don't know how to read: 'see the leaves fall from
the tree.' (It was easier to read than to do in January on the lower
The First Readers were hardly daunted when they learned that a
barrier, known as zamnation, was to be stretched between them and the
'moted state. Zamnation, when first Miss Bailey pronounced it,
caused something akin to panic in Room 18. It differed in no
perceptible degree from a word which they all understood to be taboo
ever since Ikey Borrachsohn had addressed it, in the heat of argument,
to a classmate. In the lower grades an examination does not greatly
differ from an ordinary recitation, and so the First Readers, protected
from stage fright by complete ignorance of what they were undergoing,
passed the ordeal in triumph, and fell out at the other side victorious
almost to a man, and First Readers never more.
There came an afternoon when Miss Bailey, somewhat huskily,
explained this to them. Zamnation was over. The fair pages of the
Second Readers lay before them. In the morning they would be promoted.
She was very proud of them. One or two children had not worked quite
hard enough. They would have to try again, but the rank and file had
achieved promotion, and she hoped they would be very happy, and they
were to remember that she would always and ever be glad to see them,
and glad to hear that they were good.
The children who had taken their examinations so blandly, took their
promotion in quite a different spirit. Miss Bailey, laboring as best
she could with fifty little new-comers, could not be unaware of the
disturbancealmost the tumulton the other side of the wall. When
ten-thirty brought the recess hour and she went down to the yard with
her new responsibilities, the tumult met her there.
I don't likes it, und I don't needs that 'motion, cried Sarah
Schodsky; I likes I shall be by your room.
But you can't, honey. You're too big, said Miss Bailey. You just
stop crying for your lost youth and try to make the best of Room 19.
But we don't likes that room, cried Morris Mowgelewsky, ex-monitor
of Miss Bailey's Gold Fish Bowl. It don't stands no fish theaytre in
it nor no flowers. Nathan Spiderwitz, he has awful mads over it
(Nathan Spiderwitz had been Monitor of Miss Bailey's window-boxes),
und Patrick Brennan says maybe his papa could to arrest Missis Blake.
She says cheek on him. She calls him Irisher.
Oh, no! remonstrated Miss Bailey.
Teacher, yiss ma'am, she says cheek, Morris maintained. She says
cheek on all of us; she says we is Bailey's Babies. She says it on Miss
Rosen. Me und Nathan, we hears how she says on her. 'What you think I
got?' she says on Miss Rosen, und Miss Rosen, she says, 'she don't
knows,' und Missis Blake, she says, 'I got a bunch of Bailey's
Then you must have been bad, Morris, Miss Bailey reproved
him; you must have been behaving like babies.
Teacher, no ma'am, Morris answered. We don't make nothings like
that. She makes Eva Gonorowsky und Yetta Aaronsohn shall stand in
corners the whiles they cries. She says, 'What is mit them?' und they
says, 'They likes they shall look upon your face,' und extra she stands
them in corners. She is awful cross teachers! Und anyway, she's too
Although Miss Bailey appreciated this tribute she could understand
Miss Blake's failure to do so, and she explained to Morris that, upon
pain of being instantly cast out from her heart of hearts, he must
learn to love Miss Blake.
But Morris had had a severe lesson in the perils of unrequited
affection, and at the age of seven had formulated the axiom, It's a
foolishness you shall make what is lovin' mit somebody sooner somebody
don't makes what is lovin' mit you, and Miss Bailey found it difficult
to induce him to regard Miss Blake with affection.
Other members of the former cabinet and staff were equally
refractory, and at three o'clock every afternoon, save on the
regrettably frequent occasions when Miss Blake was obliged to require
their continued presence in Room 19, they flocked back to their old
posts of duty. They fell upon the window-boxes, the aquarium, the
pencils, and the blackboards with endearments and caresses, and they
utterly swept away and annihilated the slow-footed new-comers whom Miss
Bailey was trying to initiate in their duties. A clumsy boy named David
Boskowitz had succeeded to the portfolio of Gold Fishes. Now a gold
fish, even of eighteen-carat quality, is not warranted to endure the
endearments and refreshments lavished upon it by fifty emotional
members of a race whose ancestors once wandered to adoration of a
Golden Calf. During Morris's tenure of office Miss Bailey had
frequently been obliged to renew his charges. And some mysterious
tragedy was played in the fish theatre one night shortly after David
Boskowitz took office. Morris, slipping into Room 18 before school
hours, to bestow a defunct carnation upon Teacher, found a gold fish
floating, wrong side up, among the seaweed in the shining bowl.
With howls he pointed it out to Miss Bailey. Together they retrieved
it. Then Teacher wrapped it reverently in tissue paper and commissioned
Morris to go forth and give it decent burial in the nearest ash barrel.
But Morris did nothing of the kind. He carried it about with him for
days, and stirred up sentiments of wildest revolution in the hot hearts
of his contemporaries by showing them the limp body of their pet,
foully done to death by them new kids what Teacher had.
Miss Blake found Bailey's Babies astonishingly unmanageable. The
difficulty lay in the different conception of the art of teaching held
by these two exponents. Miss Bailey, as has been said, was of the
garden school. She regarded the children as plants, knowledge as water;
her part in the scheme of things to understudy the sunshine, and to
coax the plants to absorb the water. Miss Blake was of the carpenter
school. She held that facts were hard and straight; minds not quite so
hard, and never straight; her duty to saw and bore, sand-paper and file
the minds until the facts could be smoothly glued upon them.
Bailey's Babies felt this difference though they did not
understand it. In fact life was getting generally incomprehensible. For
were not Hymie Solomon, the greenhorn, who had not yet learned English,
Jakey Fishandler, who was so bad that no teacher except Miss Bailey
would have him in her class, and Becky Zalmanowsky, whothough the
First Readers did not appreciate itwas a perfect type of the criminal
idiot, were not these allowed to bask in Miss Bailey's presence, while
self-respecting, hard-working First Readers were thrown into outer
There was, indeed, weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth, and,
contributed by Patrick Brennan, an uninterrupted flow of minor
disturbances and insubordinations, culminating in a heated interview
between Miss Blake and the Principal, in which the lady insisted that
Patrick was making discipline impossible, that his writing was a blot
upon civilization, and that he should be returned whence he came.
[Illustration: Patrick was making discipline impossible]
The beginning of every term is marked by several such falls from
grace on the part of erstwhile model pupils, who do not easily adjust
themselves to their new environment. The Principal was surprised but
complacent, and very formally on the next morning Miss Blake delivered
her ultimatum to that unruly son of the Kings of Ulster and the
policeman on the beat. Its immediate cause was the unoffending but
offensive gold fish. For three days it had preached its silent sermon
of sedition and puzzled the olfactory nerves of Miss Blake, who after
ten years of East Side teaching had flattered herself that she was
beyond any new sensation of that nature. After a heated interview which
led to the disintegration of the venerable corse, Miss Blake gathered
her black serge draperies closely about her and issued her command.
Take your things, said she; I won't have you in this room another
minute. Patrick's eyes grew large, he hesitated about returning to the
paternal and official roof-tree with the tidings that he had been
expelled. Take your hat and everything you own and come with me.
Patrick gathered together a miscellaneous collection, consisting of
a wad of chewing-gum, the soul of a mouth-organ, a cap, and one rubber
overshoe, and prepared to march upon East Broadway.
You are a disgrace to the school, said Miss Blake loftily, and I
am going to take you to the only place you are fit forback to the
First Reader Class. We'll see what Miss Bailey will say to you, young
Well, Patrick followed her. It was the first command of hers to
which he had given favorable ear. He even went with alacrityand the
novices in the Second Reader gazed wildly upon one another. They may
not have been quick to memorize incomprehensible and unexplained
memory gems, or to carry in their heads long strings of figures
unconnected with anything in sea or sky. But Miss Bailey's training had
made them experts in recognizing cause and effect, and such an epidemic
of lawlessness and mischief swept over Room 19 as even Miss Blake's ten
years' experience had never paralleled. Bailey's Babies went suddenly
and unanimously to the dogs. The energy which they had expended in
being 'moted was as nothing to the delirious determination with which
they fought for retrogradation. They dutifully called to mind all Miss
Bailey's precepts, and then crashed through them, one by one. They fell
from grace, from truth, from cleanliness, from all the moral heights
upon which Teacher had perched them, and, as they fell, they set in
motion the machinery provided by the Board of Education. Mesdames
Gonorowsky, Mowgelewsky and Borrachsohn, and other matrons began to
find the tenor of their days interrupted by incomprehensible
post-cards, and a regrettably comprehensible Truant Officer. Bailey's
Babies were running amuck, and their cries as they committed moral
hara-kiri echoed as far as the marble halls of the Board of Education
on remote Park Avenue.
Mrs. Gonorowsky paid the exorbitant price of a cent to have her
official postcard read by an interpreter. Neighbors volunteered for
this service, but she would have none of them. She wanted an
authoritative reading, and having got it, she sat down to await the
return of Eva.
So-o-oh, ran the maternal greeting, you comes three times late on
the school mit dirty faces. Eva hung her guilty head. And I wash you
every day the face, und send you on the block plenty time? Hein? Eva
nodded the guilty head. Und now comes such a card from off the school
sayin' how you comes late und dirty, und the Principal, he wants he
shall see me to-morrow, quarter after three. A silence followed these
thunderous words. Eva's guilt engulfed her, although hers was the
clearest conscience among all the candidates for return tickets. Her
gentle spirit had been unequal to the orgy in which braver souls were
I wants, she whispered now, I wants I shall be put back. I don't
likes it by Miss Blakeses room. I ain't monitors off of nothings, und
Miss Blake she hollers on me, und Patrick he is put back. I likes I
shall be put back too.
Sooner you feels like that, said Mrs. Gonorowsky with sound logic,
why aind you stayed back by Miss Bailey's room? Aind you told me how
you wants you shall be 'moted, and learn off a new book?
Not 'out Miss Bailey, Eva protested. I couldn't to learn 'out
Miss Bailey. I want Miss Bailey shall be 'moted too.
Und why ain't she 'moted? demanded the voice of reason.
At this questionits answer had long been torture to her loyal
little heartEva broke into wild tears. Changing over to the voice of
love, Mrs. Gonorowsky soothed and cuddled and petted her until Eva
found speech again.
It's somethin' fierce, she whispered. In all my world I ain't
never seen how it is fierce. I shall better, maybe, whisper mit you in
the ear. It's like this: She ain't smart enough. Becky Zalmanowsky, she
ain't smart enough, und Hymie Solomon, he ain't smart enough, und Jakey
Fishandler, he is a greeney, und Teacher, she gets left back mit them.
Gott! cried Mrs. Gonorowsky, who says she ain't smart enough?
The Principal, maybe, wailed Eva.
All right, said her mother, whose admiration for Miss Bailey was
great and of long standing. I goes on the school to-morrow for see him
at quarter after three.
When Mrs. Gonorowsky reached the big school-house, she found that
her audience with the Principal was not to be a private one, for a
dozen or more mothers were gathered in the yard. A regular
investigation was on foot. Every one concerned had recognized that
there was some organization about Room 19's sedition, and Miss Blake
had first repudiated the acquaintance and friendship of Miss Bailey,
and had then gone on to repudiate all responsibility for what she now
termed Bailey's Brats.
I refuseI must refuseto teach that class, said she to the
harassed Principal. If you can't arrange to exchange me with some
other teacher, I shall apply for a transfer to an up-town school. If
that Miss Bailey is so crazy about these children, why don't you let
her keep them for another term? Every one seems to think she's a
crackerjack teacher, so I guess she can get along in second term work,
and I can take that new class of hers.
I'll think of it, said the Principal, as the janitor came to tell
him that the mothers were overflowing his office.
Before his interview with them, he turned into Room 18, and there he
found the ringleaders of Room 19's rebellion. Though beatified they
wore a chastened, propitiatory air, for Miss Bailey had just been
lecturing them. She looked as distressed as she was by the whole
I just stepped in, the Principal explained, to see how many of
them were still chained to their oars. Rather a luxurious galley this,
don't you think?
I can't think at all, answered Constance Bailey. They were a fine
class, and Miss Blake is a fine teacher.
These misunderstandings happen, said the Principal, in schools
just as they do in marriages. I'm going down now to interview the
mothers of most of these young people here. Do you mind staying and
keeping the children for a few moments? I must get this thing
We shall all be here when you come back, Miss Bailey promised.
Eva Gonorowsky had but reflected the general opinion when she told
her mother that Miss Bailey had been left back because she wasn't
smart enough, and the Principal found himself in the midst of an
indignation meeting. In Yiddish, in English, in all grades and dialects
between the two, the mothers protested against this ruling.
There was hardly one of them who did not owe Miss Bailey some meed
of gratitudeand they were of a race which still practises that
So they made ovation, fervid, gesticulatory, and obscure. But
through much harping on one theme they made their meaning clear.
So you think, said the Principal, that Miss Bailey is still
teaching the smallest children because she is not as clever as the
other teachers. You never were more mistaken in your lives. The hardest
child to teach and manage, as all of you very well know, is the
smallest child. The very best teaching should come at the very
This statement, when it was translated by those who understood it to
those who did not, met with a cordial rumble of approval.
Your children, he went on, are old enough now to be taught by an
ordinary teacher. Miss Blake is much more than that.
This translated was not very well received. Stout inarticulate
mothers drew their shawls more closely about them and grunted dissent.
But although they are old enough they haven't been proving
themselves good enough, and so I have decidedas you express itto
promote Miss Bailey too, and to let her have charge of them until the
end of the year. I shall notify Miss Blake to-morrow. Meanwhile, if you
ladies will go up to Room 18 I think you will find your children there,
and I know you will find Miss Bailey. Perhaps, he added with a smile,
she would be glad to receive your congratulations upon her promotion.
The mothers steamed and streamed away, led by Mrs. Mowgelewsky whose
wig was very much awry, and by Mrs. Gonorowsky, whose mind was in a
triumphant flame, while far in the rear there pattered the grandmother
of Isidore Applebaum, whose mind was quite unchanged by the events of
Isidore had managed to explain Miss Bailey's disabilities to her,
but her almost complete deafness left her quite unmoved by the
Principal's eloquence in either original or translated form. She only
knew that Miss Bailey had been at last allowed to retain the
guardianship of Isidore.
Fifteen unintelligible congratulations are rather overwhelming, and
Miss Bailey was accordingly overwhelmed by the inrush.
The mothers fell upon her bodily and pinned her to her chair. They
kissed her hands. They kissed her gown. They patted her back. They
embraced or chastised their offspring with equal violence. They admired
the pictures, stood enraptured before the aquarium, touched the flowers
with hungry appreciation, and enjoyed themselves immensely.
Mrs. Gonorowsky was a very champion among the hosts. She put Eva's
misconduct upon the basis of etiquette. Surely it was not polite, she
pointed out, that Eva should allow herself to be exalted over her
teacher. As Mrs. Gonorowsky lucidly phrased it:
Eva, she gets put back the whiles she don't wants you shall think
she shows off that she iss smarter als Teachersomethin's like that
aind polite. Und anyway now the Pincipal says Eva aind smarter.
That's very kind of him, remarked Miss Bailey, trying to
understand for the third time a whispered communication from Isidore
Applebaum's grandmother. The speech, whatever it meant, was clearly of
a cheerful and encouraging nature, and at the close of each repetition
the old lady patted Teacher encouragingly upon the shoulder, and winked
and nodded to an amazing extent.
Isidore was dragged from his lair and pressed into service as
She says like this out of Jewish, he began, she says you don't
have to care what nobody says over how you is smart or how you ain't
smart. She says that don't makes nothings mit her the whiles you is
lovin' mit childrens.
Again the old lady patted Teacher's shoulder, nodding and smiling
the while with a knowing and encouraging air.
Und she says, Isidore went on translating the hint with some
delicacy, she says we got a boarder by our house what ain't so awful
smart, undhere Isidore whisperedhe studies nights.
Miss Bailey took the old lady's hand and shook it gratefully.
THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES
Say! What you think! cried Rebecca Einstein to her friend and
neighbor Esther Nolan. What you think we got to our house?
Esther confessed ignorance.
A baby, cried the triumphant Rebecca.
It's mine, said Esther promptly. I writes such a letter on the
Central Park Stork he shall bring me a baby. I tells him I got a crib
even. It's too little fer me. I likes I shall lay all longed out on the
sofa. Und extra he goes and makes mistakes and leaves it by your house.
It's boys, ain't it?
Rebecca admitted it was a boy.
And did you write such letters on Storks?
Again Rebecca admitted that she had not. We don't got to write no
letters over babies, said she with pride. We gets 'em anyways. My
mamma is got thirteen childrens. We ain't all babies now, but we was.
Esther returned crestfallen to her second-floor home, and sought the
comforting arms of Mrs. Moriarty, her chaperon and guardian.
But whatever made you write for a baby? demanded Mrs. Moriarty,
when the Stork's carelessness had been explained to her. Aren't you
and your father and me happy enough in this grand new house without a
baby to be botherin' us?
Unconsciously she had touched the root of Esther's trouble.
I needs a baby, she wailed, the whiles my papa he ain't lovin' no
more mit me. And I wants somebody shall love me.
[Illustration: What you think we got to our house?]
Tut, tut, now! admonished Mrs. Moriarty, and then again, Tut,
tut! Now Esther, dear, said she, after a pause, you're getting to be
a big girl.
I'm eight. I will become nine.
Please God you will. But, anyway, you're big enough to know that
your father loves you as much as ever he did, but hasn't time to show
it, bein' in heavy trouble, God help him. You know about your auntie,
her that was to have the bringing up of you as your father often tells
She don't never comes, Esther complained. I waits und I waits und
my auntie don't comes, und mine papa ain't lovin', und I needs I shall
have a baby out of that Central Park.
The heart loneliness of which Esther complained was real enough. The
material prosperity which had recently fallen upon her had deprived her
of all the old comfortable joys which had brightened less prosperous
days. Chief among these had been her father's light-hearted
companionship. Mrs. Moriarty, the brightest feature of the new
conditions, did her best to cheer and comfort the motherless child, but
she could not hope to take the place of Jacob Morowsky, who had changed
in so much more than name since he became John Nolan. Esther had
dutifully triedand failedto understand why she, who had for so long
been Esther Morowsky, was now Esther Nolan. And yet the explanation was
sufficiently ordinary, and was the cause of her improved surroundings
and the result of her father's preoccupation.
Jacob Morowsky had, upon his first coming to America, found
employment with old John Nolan, whose little shop of sacred statues,
crucifixes, and holy pictures was the survival of the Irish Catholic
era in Henry Street's history. There are not many traces of this era
now remaining, but John Nolan's little shop was one of them, and
economy overcame racial prejudice on the day he engaged Jacob Morowsky
as his assistant. Later he congratulated himself upon this apostasy,
calling it interchangeably an act of charity, no more than that, or
the best bit of business ever I done, for Morowsky was an artist, and
the heavenly choir, as represented by John Nolan, soon became separate
dainty works of art more like Tanagra figurines than like the stiff and
stereotyped figures which John Nolan's six or seven moulds had formerly
Later still, when John Nolan was gathered to his fathers, and
afforded, one must presume, the opportunity of judging the accuracy of
his portraits, he left his business and his name to Jacob.
For without the name, said he, what good would the business be to
ye? Who could believe that the likes of a Jacob Morowsky would know the
truth about the blessed saints? And you're not to forget what I've
taught you. Arrows for Saint Sebastian, flames and a gridiron for Saint
Lawrence, a big book for Saint Luke (he was a scholard, you know), and
the rosary for Saint Dominick. There's not the call there used to be
for Saint Aloysius, but when you're doing him, don't forget to put a
skull in his hand. You have your 'Lives of the Saints,' haven't you?
I have, dear master, answered Jacob.
Then keep on studyin' it. And ye'll do what ye can for old Biddy
Moriarty, that's took care of me ever since me poor wife died.
She shall be of my household, answered Jacob. And so Esther
succeeded to the old man's name and the old woman's care.
Jacob Morowsky left his old quarters, and John Nolan took up his
residence in the front room of the second floor of a house that had
been the residence of an English official when New York was a Colony of
the Crown. The house had endured many vicissitudes and degradations. It
was, when Esther knew it, a tenement unpopular with the authorities
because it could not quite condescend to the laws of the Tenement House
Commission; and not too popular with its landlord because its rooms, in
proportion to its ground area, were extravagantly few. Its spacious
halls and staircase, its high ceilings and wide chimneys were all so
many waste spaces according to modern tenement architecture.
Esther and her father slept in the drawing-room behind a red
curtain, Esther in her babyhood's crib which, as she had written to the
Stork, she had quite outgrown. But no one seemed to notice that. No
one, in fact, noticed her very much. She was a good little girl. She
was never late or troublesome at school. Every Friday afternoon she
brought home a blue ticket, testifying that her application, her
deportment, and her progress were satisfactory. From time to time, as
she reached new altitudes in the course of study, the teacher's name on
these tickets varied. But the tickets were the only link between
Esther's two lives of home and school. No reproachful teacher, no
truant officer threatening arrest and the Juvenile Court, ever darkened
her horizon. No outraged Principal ever summoned her father to an
uncomfortable quarter of an hour. She was, as successive teachers noted
with amazement, that rara avis in the human family, a normal child.
Even her clear dark eyes and her dainty little features were as her
ancestry decreed that they should be. And the clear pallor of her
skinwhich Mrs. Moriarty tried to combat by dressing her much in
redwas the normal accompaniment to the fine soft blackness of her
She adored her father. His society was her sunshine, and since he
had become John Nolan, Esther's days had been very cloudy. He was
always away from home. There was only one little patch of the morning
of Saturday, the Sabbath, which Esther could call her own, and even
that was broken into by the service at the Synagogue, when he sat upon
one side of the aisle, magnificent in black broadcloth and silk hat,
and she sat upon the other side among the maids and matrons. In the
afternoon he was at work again. She was in my Lady's drawing-room, or
marketing with Mrs. Moriarty.
You're to bide by yourself or along with me, Mrs. Moriarty had
often admonished her. You're to bide by yourself till your auntie
And always to Esther's eager question, When is she coming? Mrs.
Moriarty's cryptic answer had been, God knows.
But when she understood that the gloom of the drawing-room had
forced Esther into the writing of unsuspected letters, she deemed it
wise to go further in enlightenment.
You're to say naught of this to your poor father. But I'll tell you
the meaning of his trouble. Your auntie is lost, my dear.
Lost! cried Esther.
Ay, lost in this cruel hard city. Lost among strangers in her
sorrow. She was comin' over to live with the two of ye. I'll never
forget the night your father got her letter sayin' she was comin', and
for him to meet her at Ellis Island. I went in an' found him sitting
with it in his hand, with the look of death on his face. For the letter
was two months old when he got it. Some mistake about his two names
there was, and the date she set down for him to meet her was six weeks
gone when her letter came. Glory be to God, but it's a cruel world! An'
her husband just dead on her, and her so lonely, the creature! If she
was poor itself we'd have a better chance of finding her, through some
of the charities or the hospitals, maybe. But she had money enough to
last her a while, and she's gone the same as if the ground had swallied
Mine papa, commented Esther, he's got it pretty hard, and she
folded her hands in her lap and shook her head in unconscious but
triumphant imitation of Mrs. Moriarty.
Hear you me, Mrs. Moriarty acquiesced. He has the hardest luck
ever I heard of. His sister's husband's name was Cohen, and her
Christian nameEsther looked puzzled, and Mrs. Moriarty politely
substitutedher first name was Esther, the same as yours. And
when your poor distracted father went to find out did e'er an Esther
Cohen land the day she mentioned in the letter, they told him that
twenty-five did, and for him to go away with his jokes. You know the
world is full of Cohens.
Esther knew more than that. She knew that there was a Cohen in the
house. She was not supposed to form friendships, but she cherished two
or three in secret, and one of them bore the name of Cohen.
To Esther she was always the lady mit the from-gold hair, but she
had heard a neighbor once address her as Mrs. Cohen. She lived in what
must have been, in the days of the house's grandeur, the 'tweeny's
room in the servants' quarters, on the top floor. A tiny little room it
was, whose one window opened now upon a blank wall, though the 'tweeny
may have sat at it and watched the locks and the slow canal-boats where
now Canal Street runs. There in the dimness Esther, on her
surreptitious way back from a surreptitious visit to the friendly Top
Floor Front, had discovered the lady mit the from-gold hair, and the
lady was crying.
Esther's heart swelled and almost burst beneath the square
breastplate of her apron, and presently the lady, looking up, met two
deep wells of sorrow and admiration fixed upon her. And so their
friendship began. It persisted, despite Mrs. Moriarty's warnings, and
despite, too, the barrier of alien tongue, for the speech of this
stranger was greatly different from the Yiddish spoken in that Polish
and Russian quarter. In the other wordless ways of love, however, she
threw her lonely little heart at the feet of the lonely lady, and knew
that another secret must lie between her and the home circle in the
The load of such deceptions upon her conscience was not heavy. There
was only the kindly Top Floor Front, the janitor, and Rebecca Einstein,
who lived next door, and who was in Esther's class at school, when she
was not nursing old and new babies at home.
Mrs. Moriarty disapproved of the Einsteins. Her complaint was that
there were too many of them, and that thirteen was an unlucky number
for a party, whether family or otherwise. But to Esther their number
was their greatest charm, and after a visit to their crowded and
uproarious circle, the quiet drawing-room seemed very chill and empty.
When Jacob came home that night, Esther was awake and waiting for
him with a proposition.
The Einsteins, she announced, had a superfluous baby. Would not he,
out of his loving bounty, buy it for her? It was a boy, and she,
Esther, desired beyond all things else a baby brother. She had reason
to believe that this one was really hers. She had forwarded an
application to the proper quarters.
Jacob took his little girl on his knee and explained the situation
Purchase, so his instructions ran, was not the usual method of
acquiring infants. One took them, or did without them, as the big Stork
pleased. It is true that babies sometimes were adopted. If, when she
grew a little older and he a little richer, she still desired a
brother, they might manage to adopt one, but not, as he told her when
he restored her to her crib, not until he had found her Aunt Esther.
And when he had eaten his supper he came again to Esther's little
bed and told her, as he sometimes did, stories of another little
brother and sister who had loved and played together in the long ago.
And he told her, too, more graphically than Mrs. Moriarty could, of
that brother's desperate search for his sister. Of all the promising
clews which led nowhere; of all the high hopes which ended in despair.
For two months he had neglected his business and his daughter for this
search, and he was beginning to believe that his sister was dead.
Esther caressed and comforted him as best she might, and after
holding her silently for a few moments, he carefully tucked her into
bed again, and went out into the crowded, sordid streets, to
searchhopelessly and doggedlyfor the little sister of his
As the days passed and her father confided more and more in her
great love and sympathy, Esther became reconciled to the Stork's
mistake, and decided that she could wait until he brought a baby
without urging or request. She was very busy. Her lady mit the
from-gold hair was illvery ill, indeed. She lay upon her bed very
white and quiet, and the First Floor Front took care of her. There was
also occasionally a doctor, and there were always the garrulous, if not
over-helpful neighbors. In any other case it is possible that Mrs.
Moriarty's known generosity and surmised skill would have been called
into requisition, but the lady mit the from-gold hair spoke no English,
and Esther entreated that Mrs. Moriarty should not be consulted, as
that would mean her own instant banishment to the lonely drawing-room.
And so Mrs. Moriarty was allowed to form her own explanation for
Esther's long absences, while Esther, light of hand and step, served
her golden-haired lady friend.
Mrs. Moriarty's natural supposition had been that Esther was with
the baby so carelessly turned over to the Einsteins; and occasionally,
of course, she did visit that official error. But as its novelty
diminished and its lung power increased Esther became reconciled to the
He cried, awful, Rebecca would explain, und we didn't really need
him. We had lots. The old baby ain't yet so big. She couldn't to stand
even. Und she needs all her clothes. My poor mamma has it pretty hard.
Ain't it funny? mused Esther, all unconscious that she was
grappling with a world problem. Ain't it funny, Becky? You got too
many families, und so you gets some more. I ain't got no families, und
I loses mine auntie. Ain't it fierce?
It sure is fierce, her friend admitted through the howls of the
youngest Einstein. But don't you care, Esther. I guess, maybe, that
Stork will get round to your order soon. One baby, she spoke
from experience and with conviction, is lots of family.
I don't know do I needs that kind from baby what you got, Esther
objected. It's an awful loud baby, ain't it?
It is, Rebecca admitted. And any one of the fifteen Einsteins or
even any neighbor to the fourth or fifth house removed would have
Und it's got black hair, Esther further objected.
They all do when they ain't redheaded, retorted the now ruffled
Rebecca. Ain't you got nothin' to do on'y knockin' other people's
babies? First off you says he's yours, und now you says he's too loud
und too black. Well, he ain't too loud or too black fer me. You wait
till your own baby comes. Maybe you'll get somethin' worster, with
fish's faces, maybe. How will you like that? You can't never tell what
kind they're goin' to be, an' you've got to keep 'em.
This haphazard systemor the lack of itrather alarmed Esther,
though the desire for a baby of her own design and choosing was growing
stronger every day. For her loneliness was growing, too. Jacob was
hardly ever at home. He spent many of his days and all of his evenings
in his fruitless, endless search. And Mrs. Moriarty had begun to help
him through some subterranean first-cousin-twice-removed channel which
connected her with a member of the police force. She was making a
canvass of the women's lodging-houses near the Bowery.
So Esther, having much time upon her hands, turned her thoughts
again to the upbringing of a brother, and wrote again to the
headquarters in Central Park, and impressed upon the authoritiesin
large round writing upon a sheet of pink paper with two turtle doves
embossed upon itthat she was not in a hurry for her baby, and would
prefer to wait until they found a really acceptable article. If
possible, she would prefer from-gold hair, blue eyes, and a silent
tongue. For such an infant her outgrown crib, a warm welcome, and
comfortable home were waiting. No others need apply.
When this letter was despatched she felt greatly relieved, and set
about the nursing of the lady mit the from-gold hair with renewed
energy. And the lady needed her little friend and welcomed her always
with a gentle smile, though a large and unwonted female was now
regularly established in the room, from which she relentlessly barred
more disturbing and autobiographical visitors.
All through her illness, indeed ever since her first coming into
that house, she had kept the door open, and she lay so that she could
watch the stairs. Whom she was waiting for she never told, but she was
always listening. She knew the step of every fellow lodger, of the
doctor, of any one who had ever once climbed those stairs. And at the
approach of any new footstep she would sit up rigidly among her
pillows, staring and listening so intently that when the new-comer
appeared and brought disappointment, she would sink back gasping and
What does she says? Esther once asked the imposing nurse, when a
visitor for the Top Floor Front had precipitated one of these attacks.
What does she says when she cries?
She says, interpreted the nurse, 'He is dead. It must be that he
is dead.' Yet we know that her husband is dead. She still
expects some one.
Maybe, said Esther, arguing from her own state of mind to that of
her friend, maybe she expects a Stork mit babies.
The woman caught Esther by the shoulders and peered down into her
eyes. So they have been talking to you, she said with immense scorn.
Oh, those women!
Nobody ain't told me nothings, Esther answered. I don't know
nothings. Only I thinks it in mine heart. And anyway, the first baby
what comes here is mine. I writes on the Central Park a letter over it.
It's going to be a boy mit from-gold hair.
Well, snorted the nurse with some professional pique, it's good
you got that settled.
Late that night Esther awoke in her little outgrown crib. A familiar
series of sounds had disturbed her: the arrival of the doctor. So the
lady mit the from-gold hair was presumably worse. The doctor's steps
mounted into the darkness and silence of the sleeping house, and the
clock in Mrs. Moriarty's room struck two. Esther lay wide-eyed in the
dark and waited for the sound of the doctor's return, but she heard
nothing except the far-away clang and shriek of an occasional cable-car
and the sound of stealthy, hurrying feet upon the sidewalk. She sat up,
and in the dim reflection from the electric light on the street corner
she distinguished the shapeless bulk that was her sleeping father.
Jacob had only recently come in from his quest, and he slept the sleep
Cold had no terrors for her; she was clad, feet and all, in an
Esquimaux garment of brilliant pink flannel of Mrs. Moriarty's
And still the doctor did not come down. Esther climbed to the floor
and noiselessly unlocked the door. In the hall a deadly quiet served as
a background for Mr. Finkelstein's snoring. And then Esther's summons
came. Shrill and clear from the darkness above dropped the cry of a
new-born child. Hers! The Stork had blundered again.
Oh, my! wailed Esther, ain't Storks the fools? In all my world I
ain't never seen how he makes mistakes. I told him just as plain:
Second Floor Front. Und extra he goes und maybe wakes up the lady mit
the from-gold hair over it. She's got it hard enough 'out no babies
As Esther toiled toward the sound, she realized that yet another
mistake had been made, it was 'a loud one.' Now what would her father
sayand Mrs. Moriarty? But this was no time for such questioning. Her
plain duty was to collect her property and prevent its disturbing the
When she reached her friend's room she found that the disturbance
had taken place and was still in progress. The nurse, the doctor, and
the Top Floor Front were gathered about the bed, presumably reassuring
their patient, and upon a pillow thrown into a rocking-chair the Stork
had left Esther's gold-haired brother.
Oh! it was easy, fatally easy, to recognize the answer to her
petition! The noise subsided as Esther noiselessly pattered over to it,
and from an end of its roll of flannel a bright head projected. Esther
picked it up and beat a hasty retreat unobserved by the workers at the
bedside. Down the dark stairs she passed with her burden, and into the
drawing-room again. She snuggled down beside it in her crib and for a
few ecstatic moments held it in her arms. The clock struck four, and,
as Esther quivered and listened still for the descent of the doctor,
the baby raised up its voice again in one prolonged and breathless
yell. Jacob was beside the crib in an instant and had his daughter in
What is it? he questioned wildly. Where is it? What hurt thee?
And then his heart too skipped a beat, for he found that though he had
Esther in his arms he had left her voice in the crib.
It ain't me, she finally managed to assure him. It's mine little
brother what I gets out of the Central Park.
Lights, Mrs. Moriarty, explanations, and expostulations followed.
I tells that Stork, Esther ended, I tells him I ain't got no
families und no aunties, und I needs a baby, und I has a bed ready. It
is mine baby. Storks is crazy fools!
But the inexorable John Nolan set out upon his mission of
restitution. Esther, puzzled, heart-broken, argumentative, sped on
before, and reached, not without some skirmishing, the side of the
golden-haired lady, while her father was still struggling with the
darkness and his unaccustomed burden.
And then the miracles began. The lady heard a step upon the stairs
and a great radiance fell upon her. Wonder, incredulity, and joy shone
in her lovely eyes. The doctor's hand was on her wrist. The nurse's
admonitions were in her ears. But she raised herself among her pillows
and watched the turn of the stairs where a shaft of light streamed
through the open door.
Esther's father came out of the darkness, and the lady wrenched her
hand from the doctor and stretched both her arms toward the oncoming
figure, and Jacob, said she, and quite gently fainted into the
No excitement, no fuss, commanded that authority. She's all
right, coming round in a minute. Here, stand there. Speak naturally to
her. There, she's coming now.
Why, Esther, said Jacob quietly in soft Hungarian, I've been
wondering where you were.
The lady mit the from-gold hair laid her other hand on his, smiled a
little wearily, and instantly dropped asleep.
You ain't asked her whose is that baby, his daughter whispered to
him. You ain't asked her did she write letters on that Stork?
I guess it's our baby all right, her father answered. You just
carry it down and put it in the bed that's been waiting for it. Tell
Mrs. Moriarty that your auntie was living here all the time.
Mine auntie! cried Esther. Mine auntie! My, but Storks is smart!
she gasped repentantly.
THE ETIQUETTE OF YETTA
Stands a girl by our block, Eva Gonorowsky began, as she and her
friend Yetta Aaronsohn wended their homeward way through the crowded
purlieus of Gouverneur and Monroe Streets, stands a girl by our block
what don't never goes on the school.
Yetta was obediently shocked. She had but recently been rescued from
a like benightment, but both she and her friend tactfully ignored this
Don't the Truant Officer gets her? the convert questioned,
remembering her own means to grace, and the long struggle she had made
against it. Don't the Truant Officer comes on her house und says cheek
on her mamma, und brings herby the hair, maybeon the school?
He don't comes yet, Eva replied.
Well, he's comin', Yetta predicted. He comes all times.
I guess, commented Eva, I guess Rosie Rashnowsky needs somebody
shall make somethings like that mit her. In all my world I ain't never
see how she makes. She don't know what is polite. She puts her on mit
funny clothes und 'fer-ladies-shoes.' She is awful fresh, undhere
Eva dropped her voice to a tone proper to a climaxshe dances on
Now Yetta Aaronsohn, in the days before the Truant Officer and the
Renaissance, would have run breathless blocks at the distant lure of a
street organ, and would have footed it merrily up and down the sidewalk
in all the apparently spontaneous intricacies which make this kind of
dancing so absorbing to the performer, and so charming to the audience.
Now, however, she shuddered under the shock of such depravity. School
had taught her many things not laid down in the official course of
Ain't that fierce? she murmured.
Not all subjects of gossip are as confirmative as Rosie Rashnowsky
that day proved herself to be. For as Yetta and Eva turned into Clinton
Street, Rosie was discovered dancing madly to the strains of a
one-legged hurdy-gurdy, in the midst of an envious but not emulating
That's her, said Eva briefly. Sooner you stands on the stoop you
shall see her better.
And when the two friends carried out this suggestion and mounted the
nearest steps, Eva pointed to what seemed a bundle of inanimate rags.
It's her baby, she disapprovingly remarked. She lays it all times
on steps. Somebody could to set on it sometimes.
It's fierce, repeated Yetta, this time with more conviction. She
was herself the guardian of three small and ailing sisters, and she
knew that they should not be deposited on cold doorsteps. So she picked
up Rosie's abandoned responsibility, and turned to survey that
Rosie was, as a dancer should be, startlingly arrayed. Her long
black-stockinged little legs ended in fer-ladies-shoes described by
Eva. Her hair bobbed wildly in four tight little braids, each tied with
a ribbon or a strip of cloth of a different color, and the rest of her
visible attire consisted of a dirty kimona dressing-jacket, red with
yellow flowers, and outlined with bands of green. The
fer-ladies-shoes poised and pointed and twinkled in time to the
wheezing of the one-legged hurdy-gurdy. The parti-colored braids waved
free. The kimona flapped and fluttered and permitted indiscreet
glimpses of a less gorgeous substructure.
Miss Gonorowsky regarded these excesses with a cold and disapproving
eye. She don't know what is fer her, she remarked. My mamma,
she wouldn't to leave me dance by no organs. It ain't fer ladies.
It's fierce, agreed Miss Aaronsohn, with a gulp, it's something
The hurdy-gurdy coughed its way to the end of one tune, held its
breath for an asthmatic moment, and then wailed into The Sidewalks of
New York. Fresh and amazing energy possessed the hair ribbons, the
kimona, and the fer-ladies-shoes. Fresh disdain possessed Miss
Gonorowsky. The tune would have seemed also to work havoc upon the new
propriety of Miss Aaronsohn.
It's something fierce, she once more remarked, and then casting
decorum to the winds, and the abandoned young Rashnowsky to Miss
Gonorowsky's care, she sped down the steps, through the crowd and out
into the ring.
Rosie, though she had never seen Miss Aaronsohn before, recognized
her talent instantly, and welcomed her partnership with an ecstatic
combination of the Cake Walk and the Highland Fling. Yetta returned the
compliment in a few steps of the Barn Dance flavored with a dash of the
Irish Jig. Then eye to eye, and hands on one another's shoulders, they
fell to spieling, with occasional Polka divertisements.
A passing stranger stopped to watch them and gave the organ-man
largesse, so that still he played, and still they danced until called
back to duty and reality by the uproar of the baby, now thrice
abandoned. For Eva Gonorowsky had gone virtuously home, feeling that
her traditions had been outraged, her friendship despised, and that her
disciple had disgraced her.
Yetta and Rosie with the heavy-headed baby followed the organ for
several blocks. They might have gone on forever like the Pied Piper's
rats, had not the howls of the youngest Rashnowsky anchored and
steadied them. When at last they had recovered breath and the
proprieties, they sat amicably down upon an alien doorstep, and went
back to the earlyand in their case neglectedpreliminaries of
They exchanged names, ages, addresses, the numbers of their family,
and their own places in the scale. The baby had obligingly gone to
sleep, and these amenities were carried out in due form. It seemed that
they were bound by many similarities of circumstance and fate: each was
the eldest of a family, but whereas Rosie could boast but one baby,
Yetta's mother had three. Both mothers worked at low and ill-paid
branches of the tailor's art. And both children were fatherless to all
daily intents and purposes.
Mine papa, Yetta told her new little friend, is pedlar-mans on
the country. Me und mine mamma don't know where he is even. From long
we ain't got no letters off of him, und no money. My mamma, she has
awful sads over it.
Does she cry? questioned the sympathetic Rosie, drawing her kimona
closely about her in the enjoyment of this new and promising gossip.
Yetta shook her head. She ain't got no time she shall cry. So my
papa don't comes, und letters mit money off of him don't comes. My
mamma, she ain't got time for nothings on'y sewing. She has it pretty
My mamma is got it hard too, cried Rosie, not to be outdone. She
don't know where my papa is neither. She don't know is he on the
country even. She don't know nothings over him. Me und my mamma
we looks all times on blocks und streets und stores. On'y we couldn't
to find him. Und my mamma, she works all day by factories, und by night
she comes on the house und brings more work. She ain't got time for
nothings neither, on'y sewing und looking fer my poor papa.
Then your papa ain't dead? queried Yetta.
No, he ain't dead; on'y he loses him the job. Rosie's voice as she
made this statement, and Yetta's manner as she received it, would seem
to say that if this were not death, it was very little better.
To Isidore Rashnowsky it had been the sudden and unprovided death
of which the Prayer Book speaks. It had meant the destruction of the
very delicate equilibrium by which he and his wife maintained their
tiny but peaceful household. It threw the whole burden of four lives
upon Mrs. Rashnowsky's thin and twisted shoulders. It drove him, after
three weeks of unsuccessful quest for work, to cut himself off from all
he cared for. Starvation was very close to them. He could contribute
nothing, and he determined to take nothing: to increase the niggardly
supply by diminishing the hungry demand. Mrs. Rashnowsky's
earningseven when augmented by the home work which the law forbids
but life demandswas scant indeed for the maintenance of the mother
and the two children. All these things Isidore explained to her
patiently, resignedly, and with what bravery he could muster. And she
agreed, nodding wearily over her sewing. But from his conclusion, from
his determination to remove himself and his hunger from her charge, she
persistently dissented. Rather, she insisted, would she take the babies
to the Children's Court and get them committed to some institution.
Then he and she could face the world together. She could find courage
for that. But not to live without him. Never for that.
It is but for a time, he hopefully remonstrated, and if we give
the children we cannot easily get them back. Children such as ours are
not often found. They would be adopted by some rich man before, maybe,
I could find a job.
This consideration had not occurred to Mrs. Rashnowsky, but when it
was pointed out to her she was forced to admit its weight. The physical
charm of Rosie, kimona clad and dirty, might not have appealed as
insistently as her father feared to the rich adopter, and the
rag-wrapped baby would have been equally safe. But to Mrs. Rashnowsky's
fear and pride, to see these infants was to covet them.
And so, tearfully, fearfully, she promised to think again of
Isidore's proposal. She thought all night, and all through the hurried,
steaming, driven day at the factory. When at last she was free she
toiled home to tell him that she could not do without him, and found
that he had gone.
All these things had happened, as Rosie told her new friend, three
months before. The mother had been forced into smaller, darker, cheaper
quarters, and it was this transition which had so far saved Rosie from
the Truant Officer. They had moved from one school district to another,
and the authorities of their new habitat had not yet tracked the
But that Truant Officer will get you sure, warned Yetta. He comes
in my house and he gets me, und makes me I shall go on the school.
He can go on mine house all he likes, responded the lawless Rosie,
making careful inventory of her hair ribbons the while, all he likes
he can go. There ain't never nobody there. My mamma she is all times on
factories, und me und the baby is all times by the street. I don't
needs I shall go on no school. I ain't got time.
He'll get you on a rainy day, maintained Cassandra.
But the dread official never did discover Rosie. She was
sufficiently wise to avoid any public display of her red and yellow
charms until after school hours, unless she were well out of her own
district. She would follow street organs and behave like any other
member of a decorous audience until she was well out of the path of the
ravening Truant Officer. Then she would abandon the baby to the cold
stones, and herself to the enchantment of the music. Thus she achieved
that freedom of which her adopted country boasts, and for which Yetta
Aaronsohnthough basking in the rays of a free education, with
lunches, medical attendance, and spectacles thrown instill yearned.
There had been a time when life had been to Yetta, even as it now
was to Rosie, a simple matter of loving and helping her mother, taking
care of the babies, and dancing to the organs in the street. Then
entered the Truant Officer, and life became a complicated affair of
manners, dress, books, washing, and friendships, with every day new
laws to be met, new ideas to be assimilated, old pleasures and
employments to be thrown aside.
That the end of his three months of wandering found Isidore alive
bordered on the miraculous; that the end of these three months found
him in congenial employment was altogether a miracle. Yet these things
had occurred, and Isidore's long loneliness and self-imposed exile were
nearly over, when his daughter and Miss Aaronsohn melted their souls
together in the langorous solvent of Silver Threads Among the Gold.
On the ensuing Saturday he was to receive his first week's wages as
janitor's assistant in a combination of restaurant, hall, and Masonic
lodge, much patronized by small and earnest clubs or societies, having
no permanent stamping ground of their own. On the Friday afternoon the
large hall was occupied by The Cornelia Aid Society for the
Instruction of Ignorant Parents Among the Poor. It had been the happy
idea of one of the vice-presidents to hold the meeting within the
citadel as it were of poor and ignorant parenthood, so that the members
coming gingerly through unimagined streets and evidences of parenthood
appallingly ignorant, might derivethe vice-president was fond of the
vernacularsome idea of what the society was up against.
Automobiles, victorias, disgusted footmen, and blasphemous chauffeurs
thronged the unaccustomed street, and the children of Israel thronged
A genius for opportunity drew Giusseppi Pagamini and his new piano
organ to this sensational business opening, and the sweet strains of
the piano organ drew Rosie Rashnowsky after him. They had drawn her for
many blocks, and the meeting of the Cornelias was in full swing when
her kimona and hair ribbons came into play upon the sidewalk. She laid
the baby upon the steps, swept clean for her reception by Isidore the
conscientious, who had little ideaas he plied his broom and
scrubbing-brush earlier in the daythat he was strewing the couch of
his own small daughter's siesta.
Then to an audience composed of glorified gentlemen in silk hats and
top-boots, and the quieter but still sumptuous chauffeur livery, Rosie
threw herself into a very ecstasy of her art. Louder thrilled
Giusseppi, quicker flew the fer-ladies-shoes, wilder waved ribbons
and dressing jacket. Out o' sight, commented the footmen.
Bravissimo, ejaculated the chauffeurs, and Rosie reached the climax
of her career in a pirouette which brought her, madly whirring, under
the aristocratic noses of a pair of chestnut cobs, whose terrified
plunges would have ended her gyrations forever and a day if a footman
had not interfered. Then Giusseppi passed his battered hat, and the
audience, naturally inferring that the black-eyed child belonged to the
black-eyed musician, threw him such encouragement as a week of ordinary
days would not have brought him.
[Illustration: Rosie threw herself into a very ecstasy of her art.]
In a reckless moment he gave Rosie a nickel, and this wealth,
combined with her recent danger and escape, and with the intoxicating
quality of her audience, made Rosie follow Giusseppi to the other end
of the line of carriages which trailed round the corner and half-way
down the next block. Here fresh triumphs awaited her, while from the
steps of Fraternity Hall her infant sister called aloud for instant
speech with her. The infant was still making these inarticulate
demands, when Mrs. Ponsonby-Brown, holding her skirts well above her
shoe tops with one hand, while with the other she applied a bottle of
lavender salts to her nose, approached the meeting. She was late but
unflurried. Her horses, somewhat racked by the elevated trains in Allen
Street, had been entirely unnerved by the children, the push-carts, the
dogs, and the flying papers, which beset them from all sides and sprang
up under their nervous feet. So the philanthropic Mrs. Ponsonby-Brown
had alighted from her carriage, secured a small though knowing-looking
guide, and walked to her destination. Presently she reached the hall,
rewarded her guide, and stopped in her surge up the steps by the yells
of the youngest Rashnowsky, which had broken free of its mummy clothes,
and was battling for breath with two arms like slate-pencilsas cold,
as thin, as gray, and seemingly as brittle.
Whose child is this? she demanded of a near and large chauffeur.
It was not the lady's fault that much philanthropic activity had so
formed her manner that these simple words, as she said them, seemed to
infer that the large green-clad chauffeur was a Rousseau among parents,
that the child was his, starved that he might grow fat, and abandoned
that he might go free. His reply was all that her manner demanded. And
when she repeated the question to other waiting men, she was hardly
answered at all.
Meanwhile the youngest Rashnowsky banged its hairless head upon the
cold stone, and reiterated its demands for its guardian sister. Mrs.
Ponsonby-Brown was puzzled, and she did not enjoy the sensation. She
picked up the child before she had planned any further step for its
disposition. She could not well drop it on the stone again, and there
was no one to whom she could give it. Realizing with a sudden sense of
outrage that she was affording amusement to the well-trained servants
of her Cornelia associates, she retreated into the building and into
the hall with the screaming Gracchus in her arms.
Her advent and the clamor of her burden interrupted the reading of a
paper upon Nursery Emergencies, and How to Meet Them, by a young lady
who had exhausted the family physician, and such books as he could be
persuaded to lend her. Her remarks, though interesting and
authoritative, could not prevail against the howling presence of a real
nursery emergency, and the attention of the audience stampeded to Mrs.
Ponsonby-Brown and her contribution to the meeting. That practised and
disgusted philanthropist relinquished the youngest Rashnowsky to the
first pair of pitying arms extended in its direction. But pity was not
what the sufferer craved, and she repudiated it eloquently.
What shall I do with it? cried this young Cornelia, looking
helplessly around upon her fellows. Whenever my Jimmie behaved like
this I used simply to ring for Louise. I never knew what she used to do
Mrs. Ponsonby-Brown snorted. A nurse! said she, a hireling! You
relegate a mother's sacred responsibilities to a servant. Mrs.
Ponsonby-Brown had never enjoyed these responsibilities, and so was
eloquent and authoritative upon them.
Other Cornelias fluttered about suggesting that the Gracchus was
suffering from hunger, colic, or misdirected pins. The expert upon
emergencies snatched this one from its embarrassed guardian, inverted
it across her knee, and patted it manfully upon the back. The dirtiness
of it, the thinness, the squalled wrappings, and the blue little hands
and feet touched and quickened the Cornelias as no lecture could have
done, and the resourceful vice-president found cause to congratulate
herself on the milieu of the meeting.
If we knew, said a bespectacled Cornelia sensibly and practically,
what food they were giving it, we could easily send out and get a meal
It hardly looks, interrupted another, like the Mellin's Food and
Nestle's Milk Babies one sees in the advertisements.
And yet, said the practical member, we can't do anything until we
know what it's accustomed to. With so young a child
Here the door opened and an unenrolled Cornelia was added to the
gathering. Her red and yellow kimona rose and fell with her quick
breathing. Defiance shone in her black eyes.
You got mine baby, declared Rosie Rashnowsky. Why couldn't you
leave her be where I put her, you old Miss Fix-its? You scared me most
to death until I heard her yellin'.
With these ungrateful remarks she advanced upon the ministering
group and snatched the inverted infant from the colic theorist.
This is the top of her, she pointed out. I guess you didn't look
Before the discredited practitioner had formed a reply the Cornelia
in spectacles was ready to remark:
We think your baby is hungry.
Sure is she, Rosie concurred; ain't babies always hungry?
And if you will tell us what you feed her on, the lady continued,
we will send out for some of it before you take her home.
Rosie was by this time established in a chair with the now only
whimpering baby upon her lap.
Don't you bother, she genially remonstrated. I just bought her
And then with many contortions she produced from some inner recess
of her kimona a large dill pickle, imperfectly wrapped in moist
newspaper. She dissevered a section of this with her own sharp teeth,
and put it into the baby's waiting mouth. The cries of the youngest
Rashnowsky were supplanted by a chorus of remonstrating Cornelias.
Pickles! they cried, and shuddered. Do you often give that baby
I do when I can get 'em, Rosie answered, but that ain't often.
And then this injudicious but warm-hearted audience drew from her
the sordid little story which seemed such a matter of course to her,
and such a tragedy to them.
Und I looks, said Rosie, all times I looks on cellars und
push-carts und fire 'scapes und stores und sidewalks. Und I walks und I
walksall times I walksmit that baby in mine hand, und I couldn't to
find me the papa. Mine poor mamma, she looks too, sooner she goes und
comes on the factory, und by night me und mine mamma, we comes by our
house und we looks on ourselves und we don't says nothings, on'y makes
soand Rosie shook a hopeless headund so we knows we ain't find
him. Sometimes mine mamma cries over it. She is got all times awful sad
By this time the more sentimental among the Cornelias were reduced
to tears, and the more practical were surveying such finances as they
carried with them, and in a very short time an endowment fund of nearly
fifty dollars had been collected. The sang-froid which had
throughout the proceedings distinguished Rosie was a little shaken when
this extraordinary shower of manna was made clear to her, but it
vanished altogether when, upon the suggestion of the practical and
bespectacled Cornelia, the assistant janitor was sent for to give
safe-conduct to the children and their bequest. And the amazement of
Isidore Rashnowskysummoned from the furnace room for some
uncomprehended reasonwas hardly less ecstatic when he found himself
in the close embrace of his frenzied daughter. For Rosie's joy was
nothing less than frenzy.
It's mine papa! Oh, it's mine papa! she informed the now jubilant
and sympathetic Cornelias, who were quite ready to pass a vote of
thanks to their pioneering vice-president, whose plan had afforded them
more emotion and more true human sensation than they had experienced
for many a day.
Isidore floated toward Clinton Street through clouds and seas of
gold. The endowment together with his own first week's wages made a
larger sum than he had ever hoped to gather. He wafted the baby through
this golden atmosphere, the baby wafted a second section of dill
pickle, and Rosie, in her red and golden draperies gyrated around them.
You shall go on the factory right away, babbled Isidore, und
bring the mamma on the house. She shall never no more work on no
factories. She shall stay on the house und take care of the baby und be
She don't needs she shall take care of no baby, Rosie, thus
lightly deposed, remonstrated; ain't I takin' care of her all right?
Sure, sure, the placating Isidore made answer; on'y you won't
have no time. You shall go on the school.
This last sinister word broke through all Rosie's golden dreams.
School? she repeated in dismay. Me on the school?
For learn, Isidore happily acquiesced, all them things what makes
Rosie's sentiments almost detached her from the triumphal
procession, so rebellious were they, so helpless, so baffled and
outraged. And in that moment of brainstorm they turned into Grand
Street, and came upon a piano organ, and Yetta Aaronsohn, the erstwhile
censorious Yetta, in the enjoyment of a complicated pas-seul.
For von things, Isidore ambled on, American ladies they don't
never dance by streets on organs. You shall that on the school learn,
und the reading, und the writing, und all things what is fer ladies.
Monday you shall go on the school. Your mamma shall go by your side.
She won't, he broke out ecstatically, have nothings else to do. You
shall go now on the factory for tell her.
Rosie paused but an instant on this mission of joy. She overtook
Yetta Aaronsohn homeward bound.
I guess, said Rosie with fashionable langour, I guess maybe I
goes on the school Monday.
Yetta stared, then smiled. Ain't I told you from long, said she,
that that Truant Officer could to make like that mit you?
I ain't never seen no Truant Officer, retorted Rosie. In all my
world I ain't never seen one. I don't know what are they even. On'y I
finds me the papa mit bunches from money, und a hall, und he says I
shall go on the school so somebody can learn me all things what
American ladies makes.
Come on my school, entreated Yetta. You und me could to set
Rosie pondered. She counted her four hair ribbons. She wrapped her
kimona toga wise about her and pondered.
I don't know, she finally answered, do I needs I shall set by
side somebody what dances on streets mit organs, and added, as Yetta's
expression seemed to hint at instant parting:
Well, good afternoon, I must be going.
Her evolution into American Ladies had already begun. The manners
of the Cornelias had not been lost upon her.
A BENT TWIG
In season and out of season Constance Bailey, that earnest young
educator, preached of the value of honesty. And fifty little children
of Israel who formed the First Reader class, and the one little son of
Erin who led it, hearkened to her: always with politeness, and
sometimes with surprise.
To some of the boys it seemed incredible that a person of mature
years, andupon other subjectscommon sense, should cling to a theory
which the most simple experiment must prove both mischievous and false.
Had not Abraham Wishnewsky, a spineless person, misled by her heresies,
but narrowly escaped the Children's Court and the Reformatory?
Strolling through Gouverneur Street upon a Friday afternoon when the
whole East Side is in a panic of shopping, he had seen a bewigged and
beshawled matron shed a purse and pass on her way unheeding. Promptly
Abraham set his foot upon it, carefully and casually he picked it up,
and then, all inconveniently, he remembered Miss Bailey and her
admonitions! Miss Bailey and her anecdotes of boys who, in
circumstances identical with his, had chosen the path of honor, and had
found it to lead to riches, approbation, glory, and self-righteousness.
Abraham opened the purse. It contained fifteen cents. He
appropriated the nickel as a first instalment of the reward so soon to
be his, and then sped fleetlyas Miss Bailey's heroes had ever
doneafter the brown-shawled matron and glory. But the matron had
evidently not been trained in the school of high honor. She regarded
Abraham with suspicion rather than with gratitude. She examined the
purse in the same spirit, and her investigations led to loud outcries
upon her part, and to swift flight upon Abraham's.
Abraham Wishnewsky was so ill-advised as to confide the details of
this adventure to a young gentleman who rejoiced in a rabbit face,
close-set lashless eyes, and the name of Isidore Cohen. Isidore was new
to Room 18, and new to his place beside the gentle Abraham. Miss Bailey
and her applied ethics were startlingly new to him. And he never
reported to Abraham any effort to experiment in revolutionary
Some of the more credulous among the feminine First Readers also
weighed these precepts in the balance and found them wanting.
You know how Teacher says, Sarah Schodsky remarked to Bertha
Binderwitz, as the two friends, arms intertwined, heads close together,
walked and talked in the yard at the recess hour. You know how she
says we dasen't never to tell no lies.
Bertha nodded. That's how she says, she agreed.
Well, resumed Sarah, you see how Mamie Untermeyer don't comes no
more on the school?
Bertha had remarked this absence.
Well, Mamie she lives by her auntie. She is got a awful auntie. Und
she asks her auntie for a penny for buy hokey pokey. Und her auntie
makes a mean laugh und says, 'What you think I am, anyway?' und Mamie,
she tells it right out what she thinks over her auntie, like Teacher
says, 'We shall all times tell what we thinks.' She lays on the bed now
mit bangages on the head. It ain't so awful healthy you shall tell
truths on aunties.
This report also reached the rabbit ears of Isidore Cohen. And again
he wondered that Miss Bailey should waste her timeand hisin folly.
And then he made an amazing discovery. Teacher actually believed
what she taught. She was ready to meet confidence with trust, and to
practise what she preached.
I never seen nothing like it, he reported to his friend, Hymie
Solomon. She looks like she knew a awful lot, but she don't know
What do you suppose is the matter with her? demanded Hymie. Miss
Blake, she don't act crazy. She don't give us no talk 'out no sense.
Now Hymie and Isidore were old friends and cronies. In the days
before a Truant Officer and their distracted fathers had consigned them
to school, Hymie and he had trod the ways which might have led them to
the Children's Court and the Reformatory; but the Board of Education
chanced to be the first power that laid hands upon them, and Hymie, who
was a year older than his friend, and who had once undergone some
intermittent education, was put in Miss Blake's class, while Isidore,
virgin soil where prescribed learning was concerned, joined the First
Readers. Miss Bailey's teachings as reported by Isidore formed amazing
subjects for conversation.
Und she says, he would report, that nobody dasn't to steal
nothings off of somebody.
Then how does she think we shall ever get anything?
Somebody shall give it to us.
Teacher ain't said.
No, I guess she ain't. I'd like to see her gettin' along on just
what was give to her.
Well, Isidore remembered, she says we shall 'work-un-strive.'
She does, does she? An' git pinched by the Gerry Society? She knows
as good as you do that nobody would let you work. An' she knows as good
as you do, too, that craps ain't safe round here no more; an' that you
just can't git nothin' unless you take it. She's actin' crazy just to
No, she ain't, Isidore maintained, she don't know nothings over
An' her grown up, sneered Hymie; say, but you're easy!
This faith in and affection for Miss Bailey were not confined to the
little First Readers who inhabited Room 18 from nine until twelve, and
again from one until three. These were Miss Bailey's official
responsibilities, but Gertie Armusheffsky's education was a private
affair, though her devotion was no less wholehearted. Her instruction
was carried on sometimes amid the canaries and fern baskets of Room 18,
and sometimes at Miss Bailey's home.
For Gertie, though nearly fifteen years old, was allowed but rare
and scanty freedom for the pursuit of learning. The grandfather with
whom she lived had imported her from Poland to assist him in the
conduct of his little shop in Goerck Street.
He was a miserly old man. The shop was little and mean, and Gertie's
life in it was little and miserly and mean. These things she bore with
the wonderful patience or stoicism of her race. She bore, too, bad air,
long hours, and uncongenial toil, but she could not bring any
resignation to bear on the lovelessness of her life, the squalor, the
I ain't puttin' up no kick, she would assure Miss Bailey, in her
newly acquired and strictly modern vernacular, about doin' all the
woik in the store, an' in the back room too. Didn't I know I was comin'
over to cook an' sew an' see to everything for him? What gits on my
noives is his everlasting grouch.
It must be hard, Miss Bailey acquiesced, especially as you have
no one else, no friends.
Gertie shook her head. Ain't got a friend in the world only you,
said she. How could I have any one come to see me with him carryin' on
like he does? An' I can't get away from him. He paid my way over, an'
if I did git a job the Gerry Society would give me back to him.
But you're nearly old enough now, Miss Bailey encouraged her, to
do as you please, and you're getting on so nicely with your reading and
writing that you will be able to get a very good position.
Not 'til he's dead, the girl answered. I guess you wouldn't learn
me no more if you knew how often I wish he'd choke himself, or fall
down cellar, or go out an' git run over. But he don't never go out. He
says he's afraid something would happen to the store. But that's a
pipe! What bothers him is the cash he's got tucked around in crazy
places. Every once in a while I fall into some of it, and then he 'most
has a fit explaining how it's change a customer is comin' back for.
Last year it wasn't quite so bad. He went to night school one term. You
would have died laughing to see him all folded up at a kid's desk
tryin' to write in a copy book. They learned him to write three words
that term, but when he found out that he couldn't read them in print,
it sort of discouraged him, and he stayed home.
It's awfully hard for you, Miss Bailey repeated, but you mustn't
let yourself say such things or think such thingsabout his getting
killed, I meanit's notshe found herself on the verge of saying
Christian, but remembered that Gertie made no pretence to the
Christian virtuesnot loving, she ended, and felt that the meaning
of the two words was very much the same.
Well, I don't love him, said Gertie shortly, I hate him!
That's another thing you mustn't say.
All right, I won't say it. I do it all the time.
What's the capital of Massachusetts? demanded Miss Bailey,
changing the subject with a jerk.
It's Grandpa's capital that's bothering me, laughed Gertie, but
she allowed herself to be led away from the trials and problems of
Goerck Street into the cool groves of learning.
* * * * *
A few mornings later Miss Blake, whose kingdom, Room 17, bordered
upon Miss Bailey's territory, bustled into Room 18 with a fat and
elaborate purse in her hand.
You know that wicked little Hymie Abrahams who seems to be always
getting into trouble, she began, when the First Readers had stiffened
to straight attention and sat, each in his little place, like some
extraordinary form of tin soldiers.
Miss Bailey nodded. She had indeed for many days been haunted by the
fear that Hymie Abrahams would perpetrate some too flagrant breach of
discipline, and be degraded to the First Reader class, and she
naturally dreaded the advent of such a wolf among her little lambs.
Well, said Miss Blake, he can't be all bad. I guess he has some
human feelings. He brought me this bag this morning. Says his mother
doesn't need it any more, and wants me to have it. It's almost new, you
see, and really very handsome. Just let me show you the fittings. I
guess his mother wouldn't find much use for powder puffs and mirrors
and smelling-salts. Not if I know anything about the women of the East
Side, she wouldn't.
She spread the glittering useless things upon Miss Bailey's desk,
and the force with which this bribe carried away her earlier dislike
showed that Hymie Solomon had mastered the art of character reading.
And Miss Bailey, as she reviewed the dainty paraphernalia spread before
her, found herself wondering how soon Madame Solomon would miss her
treasures and come storming in pursuit of them. And beside Miss
Bailey's desk sat Isidore Cohen in an agony of doubt and
disillusionment. His one childish attribute was that of believing that
all he knew must be common knowledge. Therefore he argued that the
powers before him knew as well as he did that Hymie Solomon was
motherless, and that Miss Blake would be most unwise to look her gift
purse in the pedigree. And so, as Miss Blake exhibited and Miss Bailey
admired, the work of weeks was undone. One teacher was acting as a
fence, and another was cheering and encouraging her. He had doubted
this honesty the best policy propaganda from the first. But he had
believed in the sincerity of its prophet.
Yet he might have been prepared. Had not his father, wise and
experienced in the ways of the world, armed him with the formula:
Krists is fakes? His own adventures had corroborated this, and Miss
Bailey from the very first had made no attempt to conceal her
connection with that despised sect. Of course she was a fake. No more
than half an hour ago she had thrilled her audience with
misinformation, and manufactured biography all going to prove the
noblenesseven the expediencyof honesty; and now she was purring
delightedly over the fruits of Hymie's sleight-of-hand.
Isidore's was not a sentimental nature. Idealism was not his forte.
And yet he could not help wishing that, if only for the confusion of
Hymie and his father, Miss Bailey had proved to be on the level.
Mr. Cohen père believed in nothing but the rights of man,
though his opinion of man was so low as to preclude his having any
rights at all. He was especially opprobrious toward all those in
authority, and he made no exception in the case of his son's teacher.
She belongs to the machine, he would asseverate with warmth. Run by
the machine, paid by the machine, a part of the machine. Policemen,
firemen, teachers, inspectors, they are all the same. All parts of the
big machine. And what is it chewing? Us. What does it live on? Us
again. Don't you try to fool me about that teacher of yours.
Isidore had been making no such attempt, and he repudiated the idea
with scorn. He was accustomed to vehement paternal outbreaks, for Mr.
Cohen was a popular orator in his social club, and he often rehearsed
his eloquence in the home circle. Not often, however, did Isidore
understand or remember the fervid periods. This attack upon Miss Bailey
he did remember, though he did not understand. To him a machine was a
sewing-machine, and his father, though he evidently meant something,
could not have meant to associate her with that most useful member of
Just like all the rest of them, his father had said. A grafter,
and now that Miss Blake had fallen from honesty, what proof was there
that Miss Bailey was not equally approachable?
And certainly Miss Blake played the game with the promptness and
surety of an old understanding. Influence or income are the counters in
the game, and she dealt both cheerily. Three days after the
presentation of the purse the post of Monitor of Supplies in Room 17
fell vacant, and Hymie Solomon received it. That was the influence, he
was holding down a job. Two days later he discovered a market for
surplus textbooks and other school supplies. Thus was the income
assured. No one could doubt Miss Blake was familiar with the rules.
You'd never believe, said she to her neighbor in fond and
unfounded pride, what a little responsibility will do for an almost
incorrigible boy. You wouldn't know Hymie. He stays behind almost every
afternoon when I go home, getting things straightened out.
They all have their good points, said Constance Bailey. I am
thinking of doing something of the same kind about Isidore Cohen. We
must hold their interest, you know.
It was about a week later. Miss Bailey and her monitors were putting
Room 18 to rights after the stress and storm of the day. Gold-fish,
window-boxes, canaries, and pencil points were all being ministered to
by their respective supervisors, and the door opened and Gertie
Armusheffsky appeared. Such a distracted, tear-stained, white-lipped
Gertie that Miss Bailey swept her monitors into their weird wrappings
and dismissed them with all speed.
I can't go home, cried Gertie in desperation. Honest, Miss
Bailey, he'd kill me if I did.
And after listening to the girl's story, Miss Bailey congratulated
herself that she had no other charges old enough to be caught in
trouble as difficult.
Old Mr. Armusheffsky had read of a fire in a Brooklyn glove factory:
hundreds of pairs of damaged gloves were spoken of. Now Mr.
Armusheffsky kept his store very dark, and only the most fatal damages
could be detected in its dim light. Catastrophes such as this of the
glove factory were his opportunities. He alwayshe never left the
storesent Gertie to negotiate with the bereaved manufacturers, the
insurance agents, or whoever chanced to be in authority over the
débris. Upon this day there chanced to be no débris: the fire and the
firemen had done their work. There was no one even to interview. And
Gertie, somewhat apprehensive as to her grandfather's displeasure and
disappointment, set out for home. She enlivened her homeward way by a
visit to a big department store, where she envied the be-pompadoured
damsels behind the counters; plunged into the squirming crowd around a
bargain table and secured a jabot of real German Mechlin lace for
thirteen cents. After this transaction she had in her purse the twelve
cents left of her quarter dollar, and the jabot, the check showing its
cost and the date, an unused trolley transfer, and the five dollars
deposit which she was to have paid on the purchase of gloves. The purse
was of the hand-bag variety, showy yet strong. It had been given to her
as a reward and an encouragement by Miss Bailey.
An' when I got off the car at the 'loop', she ended, an' changed
into the Second Avenue cable, somebody in the crowd swiped me bag. I
didn't have even a transfer left, an' I had to walk here. I was pushing
along in the crowd lookin' at the signs 'Beware of pickpockets', an'
thinkin' it was good I had no pockets to pick, when it come over me
that my bag was gone. Just that easy! Me what ought to have known
better. Say, you know it would be just as good as suicide to go an'
give that 'pipe' to Grandpa. So I was thinking maybe you'd go round and
sort of break the news. He's got a lot of respect for you. An' honest,
I ain't kiddin'. He'd kill me for that five dollars. Then with sudden
fury she ended, I'd kill him for five cents.
Miss Bailey had never responded with less alacrity to a cry for
help. She had a genuine horror of the fierce, sore-eyed old vulture,
with whom she had had to struggle so determinedly for the privilege of
teaching Gertie. Of course, she said at last, he will have to
know But Miss Bailey was wrong, Mr. Armusheffsky never knew.
Room 18's door opened again to admit two policemen, one
plain-clothes man, who silently showed his badge to Miss Bailey, and
three garrulous and dishevelled neighbors of the Armusheffsky ménage.
At sight of Gertie the neighbors grew vociferous, triumphant. The
policemen stationed themselves one on either side of Gertie, and the
plain-clothes man explained to Miss Bailey that old Armusheffsky had
been found murdered in his store, and that every man and woman for
blocks around was as ready as these incoherent samples to testify that
his granddaughter had often wished him dead, and had sometimes
threatened to kill him.
So I guess, he ended pleasantly, that 'The Tombs' will be this
young lady's address for a spell.
But I've been in Brooklyn all day, protested Gertie when at last
she found speech.
Can you prove it? Talked to anybody? Got any witnesses?
Gertie recapitulated her story.
Got the goods you bought? Got the check on them?
Gertie explained the loss of the purse.
The plain-clothes man shook his head. I'm sorry, Miss, said he to
Miss Bailey, but I guess it's a case for the sergeant. Of course if
that hand satchel turns up it will be all right, but the case looks bad
to me. She ain't the first what took the quickest way out of things she
couldn't stand. I don't blame them myself, but that's the jury's
business. Mine is to take the girl along with me. Your thinking so much
of her will go a good ways to help her out. The patrol wagon is at the
door. We'll just be moseying along.
Gertie went with him without a word. Her escape from her
grandfather's vituperations seemed to make her oblivious to everything
else. Miss Bailey, however, was comforted by no such blindness. She
realized that tragedy, perhaps death, had come to Room 18, and she set
about averting them with characteristic energy.
The one frail thread upon which Gertie's life hung led to one or two
pawn shops whence purses, not hers, were reported. Then it snapped, and
a whole mountain of circumstantial evidence was piled up in readiness
to drop on her defenceless head when the days of the trial should come.
Constance Bailey had never been so close to tragedy before, and she
bore the juxtaposition very badly. She persisted in, and insisted upon
effort, after the police and the reporters had done their best and
worst. But always she was met, though never quite daunted, by the
challenge to produce the purse with the proofs of alibi.
Under these conditions it naturally occurred that the little First
Readers received but a very divided attention. Affairs of state in Room
18 were left largely to the board of monitors, and more than ever did
it seem desirable to Isidore Cohen to secure a portfolio within that
cabinet. For more than a week he had been ready to present his
application. The proof of his fitness for office was wrapped in a
newspaper under the decayed mattress upon which he slept. And he only
waited a propitious moment to lay it and his application before
Teacher. Her new habit of dashing away at the stroke of three had
hitherto interfered with his plan, but about a week after Gertie's
arrest he found courage to elude the janitor, and to make his way to
Room 18 at a quarter past eight in the morning.
And Miss Bailey arrivingpale, distraught, and heavy-eyedat eight
twenty-five, found the lost purse lying upon her blotter, and Isidore
Cohen ready with the speech of presentation.
Mine auntie, it beganhe had never had an auntshe don't needs
this pocket-book no more. You can have it.
Miss Bailey dropped into her chair. Isidore! cried she. Oh,
Isidore! You're the cleverest boy! I would rather have this bag than
anything else in the world.
A moment later her joy was gone again. The bag was absolutely empty,
and Constance Bailey did some of the keenest thinking of her career.
It would be quite perfect, said she, if I only had a few little
things in it. Perhaps a transfer, a lace collar, or some pieces of
papershe caught the gleam in Isidore's rabbit eye, and amended
quicklynot money, of course. It would be foolish to carry money in a
bag like thisthe gleam vanishedbut just a few papers and things
would seem more natural.
Stands somethings like that to my house, Isidore vouchsafed
generously. Mine auntie don't needs them too.
Then perhaps, said Constance Bailey carefully, perhaps, dear,
your aunt would let me have them.
I likes, said Isidore, dashing off at an unmistakably natural
tangent, I likes I shall be monitors maybe off of somethings.
Miss Bailey felt the teeth of the trap, but she knew that her hand
was touching the very life of Gertie Armusheffsky, and she made no
effort to escape. And what sort of a monitor would you like to be?
she asked casually.
Off of supplies, was his decided answer.
I think that could be arranged, she replied. And these little
things to put in my bag?
I could to git 'em 'fore the other kids comes in, said Isidore.
And a few moments later she had obtained leave of absence from the
principal, and was buttoning her gloves while she gave her final
instructions to the substitute who would minister until luncheon hour
to the First Readers.
I'm quite sure you will have no trouble. The children understand
that I shall be back in the afternoon. If you want pencils, paper, or
anything else, Isidore Cohen will get them for you. For Isidoreand
she laid her hand upon his narrow headIsidore is monitor of
Very late that afternoon a disillusioned monitor of supplies fared
unostentatiously homeward from Room 18. He had never met candor equal
to Miss Bailey's, and he was in the grip of the paralyzing conviction
that for as long as he remained within her sphere of influence, honesty
would be the only expedient policy.