Et pis, doucett'ment on s'endort,
On fait sa carne, on fait sa sorgue.
On ronfle, et, comme un tuyan d'orgue,
L'tuyan s'met à ronfler pus fort. . . .
As I stepped upon the platform of a Broadway cable-cat at
Forty-second Street, some body said:
"Hello, Hilton, Jamison's looking for you."
"Hello, Curtis," I replied, 'what does Jamison want?"
"He wants to know what you've been doing all the week,"
said Curtis, hanging desperately to the railing as the car lurched forward;
"he says you seem to think that the Manhattan Illustrated Weekly was created
for the sole purpose of providing salary and vacations for you."
"The shifty old tom-cat!" I said, indignantly, "he knows
well enough where I've been.
Vacation! Does he think the State Camp in June is a snap?"
"Oh," said Curtis, you've been to Peekskill?"
"I should say so," I replied, my wrath rising as I thought
of my assignment.
"Hot?" inquired Curtis, dreamily.
"One hundred and three in the shade," I answered. "Jamison
wanted three full pages and three half pages, all for process work, and
a lot of line drawings into the bargain. I could have faked them—I wish
I had. I was fool enough to hustle and break my neck to get some honest
drawings, and that's the thanks I get!"
"Did you have a camera?"
"No. I will next time—I'll waste no more conscientious
work on Jamison," I said sulkily.
"It doesn't pay," said Curtis. "When I have military work
assigned me, I don't do the dashing sketch-artist act, you bet; I go to
my studio, light my pipe, pull out a lot of old Illustrated London News,
select several suitable battle scenes by Caton Woodville—and use 'em too."
The car shot around the neck-breaking curve at Fourteenth
"Yes," continued Curtis, as the car stopped in front of
the Morton House for a moment, then plunged forward again amid a furious
clanging of gongs, "it doesn't pay to do decent work for the fat-headed
men who run the Manhattan Illustrated. They don't appreciate it."
"I think the public does," I said, 'but I'm sure Jamison
doesn't. It would serve him right if I did what most of you fellows do—take
a lot of Caton Woodville's and Thulstrup's drawings, change the uniforms,
'chic' a figure or two, and turn in a drawing labelled 'from life.' I'm
sick of this sort of thing anyway. Almost every day this week I've been
chasing myself over that tropical camp, or galloping in the wake of those
batteries. I've got a full page of the 'camp by moonlight,' full pages
of 'artillery drill' and 'light battery in action,' and a dozen smaller
drawings that cost me more groans and perspiration than Jamison ever knew
in all his lymphatic life!"
"Jamison's got wheels," said Curtis,—"more wheels than
there are bicycles in Harlem. He wants you to do a full page by Saturday."
"A what?" I exclaimed, aghast.
"Yes he does he was going to send Jim Crawford, but Jim
expects to go to California for the winter fair, and you've got to do it."
"What is it?" I demanded savagely.
"The animals in Central Park," chuckled Curtis.
I was furious. The animals! Indeed! I'd show Jamison that
I was entitled to some consideration! This was Thursday; that gave me a
day and a half to finish a full-page drawing for the paper, and, after
my work at the State Camp I felt that I was entitled to a little rest.
Anyway I objected to the subject. I intended to tell Jamison so—I intended
to tell him firmly. However, many of the things that we often intended
to tell Jamison were never told. He was a peculiar man, fat-faced, thin-lipped,
gentle-voiced, mild-mannered, and soft in his movements as a pussy-cat.
Just why our firmness should give way when we were actually
in his presence, I have never quite been able to determine. He said very
little—so did we, although we often entered his presence with other intentions.
The truth was that the Manhattan Illustrated Weekly was
the best paying, best illustrated paper in America, and we young fellows
were not anxious to be cast adrift. Jamison's knowledge of art was probably
as extensive as the knowledge of any 'Art editor' in the city. Of course
that was saying nothing, but the fact merited careful consideration on
our part, and we gave it much consideration.
This time, however, I decided to let Jamison know that
drawings are not produced by the yard, and that I was neither a floor-walker
nor a hand-me-down. I would stand up for my rights; I'd tell old Jamison
a few things to set the wheels under his silk hat spinning, and if he attempted
any of his pussy-cat ways on me, I'd give him a few plain facts that would
curl what hair he had left.
Glowing with a splendid indignation I jumped off the car
at the City Hall, followed by Curtis, and a few minutes later entered the
office of the Manhattan Illustrated News.
"Mr. Jamison would like to see you, sir," said one of
the compositors as I passed into the long hallway. I threw my drawings
on the table and passed a handkerchief over my forehead.
"Mr. Jamison would like to see you, sir," said a small
freckle-faced boy with a smudge of ink on his nose.
"I know it," I said, and started to remove my gloves.
"Mr. Jamison would like to see you, sir," said a lank
messenger who was carrying a bundle of proofs to the floor below.
"The deuce take Jamison," I said to myself I started toward
the dark passage that leads to the abode of Jamison, running over in my
mind the neat and sarcastic speech which I had been composing during the
last ten minutes.
Jamison looked up and nodded softly as I entered the room.
I forgot my speech.
"Mr. Hilton," he said, "we want a full page of the Zoo
before it is removed to Bronx Park.
Saturday afternoon at three o'clock the drawing must be
in the engraver's hands. Did you have a pleasant week in camp?"
"It was hot," I muttered, furious to find that I could
not remember my little speech.
"The weather," said Jamison, with soft courtesy, "is oppressive
everywhere. Are your drawings in, Mr. Hilton?"
"Yes. It was infernally hot and I worked like a nigger—"
"I suppose you were quite overcome. Is that why you took
a two days' trip to the Catskills? I trust the mountain air restored you—but—was
it prudent to go to Cranston's for the cotillion Tuesday? Dancing in such
uncomfortable weather is really unwise. Good-morning, Mr. Hilton, remember
the engraver should have your drawings on Saturday by three."
I walked out, half hypnotized, half enraged. Curtis grinned
at me as I passed—I could have boxed his ears.
"Why the mischief should I lose my tongue whenever that
old tom-cat purrs!" I asked myself as I entered the elevator and was shot
down to the first floor. "I'll not put up with this sort of thing much
longer—how in the name of all that's foxy did he know that I went to the
I suppose he thinks I'm lazy because I don't wish to be
boiled to death. How did he know about the dance at Cranston's? Old cat!"
The roar and turmoil of machinery and busy men filled
my ears as I crossed the avenue and turned into the City Hall Park.
From the staff on the tower the flag drooped in the warm
sunshine with scarcely a breeze to lift its crimson bars. Overhead stretched
a splendid cloudless sky, deep, deep blue, thrilling, scintillating in
the gemmed rays of the sun.
Pigeons wheeled and circled about the roof of the grey
Post Office or dropped out of the blue above to flutter around the fountain
in the square.
On the steps of the City Hall the unlovely politician
lounged, exploring his heavy under jaw with wooden toothpick, twisting
his drooping black moustache, or distributing tobacco juice over marble
steps and close-clipped grass.
My eyes wandered from these human vermin to the calm scornful
face of Nathan Hale, on his pedestal, and then to the grey-coated Park
policeman whose occupation was to keep little children from the cool grass.
A young man with thin hands and blue circles under his
eyes was slumbering on a bench by the fountain, and the policeman walked
over to him and struck him on the soles of his shoes with a short club.
The young man rose mechanically, stared about, dazed by
the sun, shivered, and limped away.
I saw him sit down on the steps of the white marble building,
and I went over and spoke to him.
He neither looked at me, nor did he notice the coin I
"You're sick," I said, "you had better go to the hospital."
"Where?" he asked vacantly—"I've been, but they wouldn't
He stooped and tied the bit of string that held what remained
of his shoe to his foot.
"You are French," I said.
"Have you no friends? Have you been to the French Consul?"
"The Consul!" he replied; "no, I haven't been to the French
After a moment I said, "You speak like a gentleman."
He rose to his feet and stood very straight, looking me,
for the first time, directly in the eyes.
"Who are you?" I asked abruptly.
"An outcast," he said, without emotion, and limped off
thrusting his hands into his ragged pockets.
"Huh!" said the Park policeman who had come up behind
me in time to hear my question and the vagabond's answer; "don't you know
who that hobo is?—An' you a newspaper man!"
"Who is he, Cusick?" I demanded, watching the thin shabby
figure moving across Broadway toward the river.
"On the level you don't know, Mr. Hilton?" repeated Cusick,
"No, I don't; I never before laid eyes on him."
"Why," said the sparrow policeman, "that's 'Soger Charlie'
;—you remember—that French officer what sold secrets to the Dutch Emperor."
"And was to have been shot? I remember now, four years
ago—and he escaped—you mean to say that is the man?"
"Everybody knows it," sniffed Cusick, "I'd a-thought you
newspaper gents would have knowed it first."
"What was his name?" I asked after a moment's thought.
"I mean his name at home."
"Oh, some French dago name. No Frenchman will speak to
him here; sometimes they curse him and kick him. I guess he's dyin' by
I remembered the case now. Two young French cavalry officers
were arrested, charged with selling plans of fortifications and other military
secrets to the Germans. On the eve of their conviction, one of them, Heaven
only knows how, escaped and turned up in New York. The other was duly shot.
The affair had made some noise, because both young men were of good families.
It was a painful episode, and I had hastened to forget it. Now that it
was recalled to my mind, I remembered the newspaper accounts of the case,
but I had forgotten the names of the miserable young men.
"Sold his country," observed Cusick, watching a group
of children out of the corner of his eyes—"you can't trust no Frenchman
nor dagoes nor Dutchmen either. I guess Yankees are about the only white
I looked at the noble face of Nathan Hale and nodded.
"NoThin' sneaky about us, eh, Mr. Hilton?"
I thought of Benedict Arnold and looked at my boots.
Then the policeman said, "Well, solong, Mr. Hilton," and
went away to frighten a pasty-faced little girl who had climbed upon the
railing and was leaning down to sniff the fragrant grass.
"Cheese it, de cop!" cried her shrill-voiced friends,
and the whole bevy of small ragamuffins scuttled away across the square.
With a feeling of depression I turned and walked toward
Broadway, where the long yellow cable-cars swept up and down, and the din
of gongs and the deafening rumble of heavy trucks echoed from the marble
walls of the Court House to the granite mass of the Post Office.
Throngs of hurrying busy people passed up town and down
town, slim sober-faced clerks, trim cold-eyed brokers, here and there a
red-necked politician linking arms with some favourite heeler, here and
there a City Hall lawyer, sallow-faced and saturnine. Sometimes a fireman,
in his severe blue uniform, passed through the crowd, sometimes a blue-coated
policeman, mopping his clipped hair, holding his helmet in his white-gloved
hand. There were women too, pale-faced shop girls with pretty eyes, tall
blonde girls who might be typewriters and might not, and many, many older
women whose business in that part of the city no human being could venture
to guess, but who hurried up town and down town, all occupied with something
that gave to the whole restless throng a common likeness—the expression
of one who hastens toward a hopeless goal.
I knew some of those who passed me. There was little Jocelyn
of the Mail and Express; there was Hood, who had more money than he wanted
and was going to have less than he wanted when he left Wall Street; there
was Colonel Tidmouse of the 45th Infantry, N.G.S.N.Y, probably.coming from
the office of the Army and Navy Journal, and there was Dick Harding who
wrote the best stories of New York life that have been printed. People
said his hat no longer fitted,— especially people who also wrote stories
of New York life and whose hats threatened to fit as long as they lived.
I looked at the statue of Nathan Hale, then at the human
stream that flowed around his pedestal.
"Quand même," I muttered and walked out into Broadway,
signalling to the gripman of an uptown cable-car.