A Man and a Woman eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 184 pages of information about A Man and a Woman.

CHAPTER XIV.

A rugged lost sheep.

The journal of Marie Bashkirtseff is a great revelation of the hopes and imaginings and sufferings of a girl just entering that period of life when woman’s world begins.  Many upon two continents have been affected by the depths and sadness of it, yet it is but a primer, the mere record of a kindergarten experience, in comparison with what would be the picture showing as plainly a heart of some man of the city.  Did you ever read the diary, unearthed after his death, and printed in part but recently, of Ellsworth, the young Zouave colonel, who was slain in Alexandria, and avenged on the moment, at the very beginning of the great civil war?  That is a diary worth the reading.  There is told the story of not alone vain hopes and ungratified ambitions, but of an empty stomach and dizzy head to supplement the mental agony and make its ruthlessness complete.  There were, too, the high courage which was sorely tested—­and an empty stomach is a dreadful shackle—­and the bulldog pertinacity which ever does things.  That was a diary of real life, with little room for dreams, and much blood upon the pen.

It befell Grant Harlson to learn how helpless in the great city is the man as yet unlearned in all its heartlessness and devious ways and lack of regard for strangers, and the story of Ellsworth was very nearly his.

It was well enough at first.  He had some money, and had occupation at a pittance, intended only by the law firm with whom he was a student to serve for his car or cab-hire when on service outside the office.  His privilege of studying with the firm was counted remuneration for his services, and he was, so far as this went, but in the position of other young men of his age and value under such circumstances, but, unlike others, he had relied upon the law of chance to aid him.

One hundred dollars does not last long when one is healthy and has a mighty appetite, and, that gone, two dollars and fifty cents a week, and hard work for it, is very little to live on, and Harlson found it so.  Not for all the comforts of the world would he have written home for aid in the town.  It seemed there was nothing for him to do.  It had become mid-winter, and the winter was a cold one.  Gaunt men followed the coal wagons or visited the places where charity is bunglingly dispensed by the sort of people who drift into smug officials at such agencies as naturally as some birds fly to worm-besprinkled furrows for their gleanings.

Harlson saw much of this, and knew his fate was not the worst among so many, and it aided him in his philosophy, but he had a mighty appetite.  He was a great creature, of much bone and brawn, and being hungry was something he could not endure.  He thought—­how far back it seemed—­of the farmers’ dinners, and the turkey and ruffed grouse and woodcock.  Woodcock!  Why, his whole two dollars and fifty cents would not feed him for a single time upon that glorious bird!  He looked through the fine restaurant windows, and it amused him.  His own meals were taken in restaurants of a poorer class.  With thirty-five cents and a fraction to live upon for a day, one does not care for game.

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A Man and a Woman from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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