Then he made an end to envy for the time being, and turned his attention to more pressing concerns; but though he pondered with all his might and main, it seemed impossible to excogitate any way to square his account with P. Sybarite. And when, at Thirty-eighth Street, the latter made an excuse to part with George, instead of going home in his company, the shipping clerk was too thoroughly disgusted to question the subterfuge. He was, indeed, a bit relieved; the temporary dissociation promised just so much more time for solitary conspiracy.
Turning west, he was presently prompted by that arch-comedian Destiny (disguised as Thirst) to drop into Clancey’s for a shell of beer.
Now in Clancey’s George found a crumpled copy of the Evening Journal almost afloat on the high-tide of the dregs-drenched bar. Rescuing the sheet, he smoothed it out, examined (grinning) its daily meed of comics, read every word on the “Sports Page,” ploughed through the weekly vaudeville charts, scanned the advertisements, and at length reviewed the news columns with a listless eye.
It may have been the stimulation of his drink, but it was probably nothing more nor less than jealousy that sparked his sluggish imagination as he contemplated a two-column reproduction in coarse half-tone of a photograph entitled “Marian Blessington.” Slowly the light dawned upon mental darkness; slowly his grin broadened and became fixed—even as his great scheme for the confusion and confounding of P. Sybarite took shape and matured.
He left Clancey’s presently, stepping high, with a mind elate; foretasting victory; convinced that he harboured within him the makings of a devil of a fellow, all the essential qualifications of (not to put too fine a point upon it) a regular wag....
THE GLOVE COUNTER
With a feeling of some guilt, becoming in one who stoops to unworthy artifice, P. Sybarite walked slowly on up Broadway a little way, then doubled on his trail, going softly until a swift and stealthy survey westward from the corner of Thirty-eighth Street assured him that George was not skulking thereabouts to spy upon him. Then mending his pace, he held briskly on toward the shopping district.
From afar the clock recently restored to its coign high above unlovely Greeley Square warned him that his hour was fleeting: in twenty minutes it would be six o’clock; at six, sharp, Blessington’s would close its doors. Distressed, he scurried on, crossed Thirty-fourth Street, aimed himself courageously for the wide entrance of the department store, battled manfully through the retreating army of feminine shoppers—and gained the glove counter with a good fifteen minutes to spare.
And there he halted, confused and blushing in recognition of circumstances as unpropitious as unforeseen.