“You want me to leave you now?”
He nodded. “I’ve got to think.”
“When would you leave, Ban, if you do go?”
“I don’t know.”
On the following morning he went, after a night spent in arranging, destroying, and burning. The last thing to go into the stove, 67 S 4230, was a lock of hair, once glossy, but now stiffened and stained a dull brown, which he had cut from the wound on Io’s head that first, strange night of theirs, the stain of her blood that had beaten in her heart, and given life to the sure, sweet motion of her limbs, and flushed in her cheeks, and pulsed in the warm lips that she had pressed to his—Why could they not have died together on their dissolving island, with the night about them, and their last, failing sentience for each other!
The flame of the greedy stove licked up the memento, but not the memory.
“You must not worry about me,” he wrote in the note left with his successor for Miss Van Arsdale. “I shall be all right. I am going to succeed.”
Mrs. Brashear’s rooming-house on Grove Street wore its air of respectability like a garment, clean and somber, in an environment of careful behavior. Greenwich Village, not having fully awakened to the commercial advantages of being a locale, had not yet stretched between itself and the rest of New York that gauzy and iridescent curtain of sprightly impropriety and sparkling intellectual naughtiness, since faded to a lather tawdry pattern. An early pioneer of the Villager type, emancipated of thought and speech, chancing upon No. 11 Grove, would have despised it for its lack of atmosphere and its patent conservatism. It did not go out into the highways and byways, seeking prospective lodgers. It folded its hands and waited placidly for them to come. When they came, it pondered them with care, catechized them tactfully, and either rejected them with courteous finality or admitted them on probation. Had it been given to self-exploitation, it could have boasted that never had it harbored a bug or a scandal within its doors.
Now, on this filmy-soft April day it was nonplussed. A type new to its experience was applying for a room, and Mrs. Brashear, who was not only the proprietress, but, as it were, the familiar spirit and incarnation of the institution, sat peering near-sightedly and in some perturbation of soul at the phenomenon. He was young, which was against him, and of a winning directness of manner, which was in his favor, and extremely good to look at, which was potential of complications, and encased in clothing of an uncompromising cut and neutral pattern (to wit; No. 45 T 370, “an ideal style for a young business man of affairs; neat, impressive and dignified"), which was reassuring.
“My name is Banneker,” he had said, immediately the door was opened to him. “Can I get a room here?”