The men wash their hands, standing like cattle at a manger.
“It’s tough!” says Slug 1.
“You bet it’s tough!” says Slug 10, the crossest old dog of the pack.
“They say he went broke at election,” says Slug 50.
“If his widow could learn to distribute type she could do mighty well over here. I’d give her 4,000 to throw in every day,” says Slug 10. “Oh, let go of that towel!”
The men return to their cases, put on their coats and wrap their white throats. This pneumonia is a bad thing, anyhow.
Tramp, tramp, the small army goes down the long, iron stairways.
“Did you hear about Corkey?” they ask as they go. “Corkey had a heart in him like an ox.”
“Bet he had,” echoes up from the nethermost iron stairway.
Esther Lockwin’s wedding day is at hand. Her mansion is this afternoon a suite of odorous bowers. Happy the man who may be secure in her affection!
Such a man is George Harpwood. Let the November mists roll in from Lake Michigan. “It is no bed out there for me,” thinks the bridegroom, whose other days have often been gloomy enough in November.
Let the smoke of the tall chimneys tumble into the streets and pirouette backward and forward in black eddies, giving to the city an aspect forbidding to even the manner-born. George Harpwood feels no mist. He sees no smoke. It is the tide of industry. It is the earnest of Esther’s five millions.
“My God, what a prize!” he exclaims. The marriage license is procured. The minister is well and cannot fail. There is a bank-bill in the vest pocket, convenient for the wedding fee.
It is wise to visit the hotel once more and inspect one’s attire. This city is undeniably sooty. A groom with a sooty shirt bosom would not reflect credit on Esther Lockwin.
“Magnificent woman!” he cries, as he changes his linen once more. He thinks he would marry her if she were poor.
It is getting well toward the event. Would it be correct to go early? Where would he stay? Would he annoy the bride? What time is it? Let us see. Four-thirty! Yes, now to keep this linen white. How would it do to put a silk handkerchief over it—this way? Where are those silk handkerchiefs? Must have one! Must have one! Not a one! Where is that bell?
He touches the bell. He awaits the boy, who comes, and goes for a handkerchief.
He sits upon the side of the bed and listens to the bickerings of the waiters in the hall of the dining-room below. Dinner is now to be served.
He studies the lock-history of the door.
“Lots of people have broken in here,” he muses.
He passes over the rules—well he knows them!
The electric lights on the street throw dim shadows on the gas-lit wall—factories, depots, vessels, docks, saw-mills. The phantasmagoria pleases Mr. Harpwood.