On the morrow, I dragged him to an editor. The great man read, and, rising, gave Pettit his hand. That was a decoration, a wreath of bay, and a guarantee of rent.
And then old Pettit smiled slowly. I call him Gentleman Pettit now to myself. It’s a miserable name to give a man, but it sounds better than it looks in print.
“I see,” said old Pettit, as he took up his story and began tearing it into small strips. “I see the game now. You can’t write with ink, and you can’t write with your own heart’s blood, but you can write with the heart’s blood of some one else. You have to be a cad before you can be an artist. Well, I am for old Alabam and the Major’s store. Have you got a light, Old Hoss?”
I went with Pettit to the depot and died hard.
“Shakespeare’s sonnets?” I blurted, making a last stand. “How about him?”
“A cad,” said Pettit. “They give it to you, and you sell it—love, you know. I’d rather sell ploughs for father.”
“But,” I protested, “you are reversing the decision of the world’s greatest—”
“Good-by, Old Hoss,” said Pettit.
“Critics,” I continued. “But—say—if the Major can use a fairly good salesman and book-keeper down there in the store, let me know, will you?”
NEMESIS AND THE CANDY MAN
“We sail at eight in the morning on the Celtic,” said Honoria, plucking a loose thread from her lace sleeve.
“I heard so,” said young Ives, dropping his hat, and muffing it as he tried to catch it, “and I came around to wish you a pleasant voyage.”
“Of course you heard it,” said Honoria, coldly sweet, “since we have had no opportunity of informing you ourselves.”
Ives looked at her pleadingly, but with little hope.
Outside in the street a high-pitched voice chanted, not unmusically, a commercial gamut of “Cand-ee-ee-ee-s! Nice, fresh cand-ee-ee-ee-ees!”
“It’s our old candy man,” said Honoria, leaning out the window and beckoning. “I want some of his motto kisses. There’s nothing in the Broadway shops half so good.”
The candy man stopped his pushcart in front of the old Madison Avenue home. He had a holiday and festival air unusual to street peddlers. His tie was new and bright red, and a horseshoe pin, almost life-size, glittered speciously from its folds. His brown, thin face was crinkled into a semi-foolish smile. Striped cuffs with dog-head buttons covered the tan on his wrists.
“I do believe he’s going to get married,” said Honoria, pityingly. “I never saw him taken that way before. And to-day is the first time in months that he has cried his wares, I am sure.”
Ives threw a coin to the sidewalk. The candy man knows his customers. He filled a paper bag, climbed the old-fashioned stoop and handed it in. “I remember—” said Ives.