He turned sheepish. “Ain’t it fair, Lenie, in love and war and business a man has got to scheme for what he wants out of life? Long enough it took she should grow up. I knew all along once those two, each so full of life and being young, got together it was natural what should happen. Mrs. Kaufman! Lenie! Lenie!”
Prom two flights up, in through the open door and well above the harsh sound of scrubbing, a voice curled down through the hallways and in. “Mrs. Kaufman, ice-water—ple-ase!”
“Lenie,” he said, his singing, tingling fingers closing over her wrist.
“Mrs. Kauf-man, ice-water, pl—”
With her free arm she reached and slammed the door, let her cheek lie to the back of his hand, and closed her eyes.
HERS NOT TO REASON WHY
In the third winter of a world-madness, with Europe guzzling blood and wild with the taste of it, America grew flatulent, stenching winds from the battle-field blowing her prosperity.
Granaries filled to bursting tripled in value, and, in congested districts, men with lean faces rioted when bread advanced a cent a loaf. Munition factories, the fires of destruction smelting all night, worked three shifts. Millions of shells for millions of dollars. Millions of lives for millions of shells. A country feeding into the insatiable maw of war with one hand, and with the other pouring relief-funds into coffers bombarded by guns of its own manufacture—quelling the wound with a finger and widening it with a knife up the cuff.
In France, women with blue faces and too often with the pulling lips of babes at dry breasts, learned the bitter tasks of sewing closed the coat sleeves and of cutting off and hemming the trousers leg at the knee.
In America, women new to the feel of fur learned to love it and not question whence it came. Men of small affairs, suddenly earthquaked to the crest of the great tidal wave of new market-values, went drunk with wealth.
In New York, where so many great forces of a great country coagulate, the face of the city photographed would have been a composite of fat and jowl, rouge and heavy lip—satiated yet insatiate, the head double-chinned and even a little loggy with too many satisfactions.
But that is the New York of the Saturnite and of Teufelsdroeckh alone with his stars.
Upon Mrs. Blutch Connors, gazing out upon the tide of West Forty-seventh Street, life lay lightly and as unrelated as if ravage and carnage and the smell of still warm blood were of another planet.
A shower of white light from an incandescent tooth-brush sign opposite threw a pallid reflection upon Mrs. Connors; it spun the fuzz of frizz rising off her blond coiffure into a sort of golden fog and picked out the sequins of her bodice.
The dinner-hour descends glitteringly upon West Forty-seventh Street, its solid rows of long, lanky hotels, actors’ clubs, and sixty-cent tables d’hote adding each its candle-power.