“Quick, Arthur, play the Star-Spangled Banner! It’s the police. I want to save these poor souls—” she added, with a gulp in her throat; “quick, you idiot, the Star-Spangled Banner.” But Arthur was almost fainting. His ringers fell listlessly on the keys, and they were too weak to make a sound. The police! he moaned, as the knocking deepened into banging and shouting. What a scandal! What a disgrace! He could never face his own world after this! To be caught with a lot of crazy anarchists in a den like this!—Smash, went the outside door! And the newspapers! They would laugh him out of town. He, Arthur Schopenhauer Wyartz, the Amateur Anarch! He saw the hideous headlines. Why, the very daily in which some of his fortune was invested would be the first to mock him most!
The assault outside increased. He leaped to the floor, where Yetta was surrounded by an excited crowd. He plucked her sleeve. She gazed at him disdainfully.
“For God’s sake, Yetta, get me out of this—this awful scrape. My mother, my sisters—the disgrace!” She laughed bitterly.
“You poor chicken among hawks! But I’ll help you—follow me.” He reached the cellar stairs, and she showed him a way by which he could walk safely into the alley, thence to the street back of their building. He shook her hand with the intensity of a man in the clutches of the ague.
“But you—why don’t you go with me?” he asked, his teeth chattering.
The brittle sound of glass breaking was heard. She answered, as she took his feverish hand:—
“Because, you brave revolutionist, I must stick to my colours. Farewell!” And remounting the stairs, she saw the bluecoats awaiting her.
“I hope the police will catch him anyhow,” she said. It was her one relapse into femininity, and as she quietly surrendered she did not regret it.
Old Koschinsky’s store on the avenue was the joy of the neighbourhood. For hours, their smeary faces flattened against the glass, the children watched the tireless antics of the revolving squirrels; the pouter pigeons expand their breasts into feathered balloons; the goldfish, as they stolidly swam, their little mouths open, their eyes following the queer human animals imprisoned on the other side of the plate-glass window. Canary birds by the hundreds made the shop a trying one for sensitive ears. There were no monkeys. Koschinsky, whose heart was as soft as butter, though he was a formidable revolutionist—so he swore over at Schwab’s—declared that monkeys were made in the image of tyrannical humans. He would have none of them. Parrots? There were enough of the breed around him, he told the gossiping women, who, with their scheitels, curved noses, and shining eyes, lent to the quarter its Oriental quality.
It was in Koschinsky’s place that Arthur first encountered Yetta. He was always prowling about the East Side in search of sociological prey, and the modest little woman with her intelligent and determined face attracted him strongly. They fell into easy conversation near a cage of canaries, and the acquaintance soon bloomed into a friendship. A week after the raid on Schwab’s, Arthur, very haggard and nervous, wandered into Koschinsky’s. The old man greeted him:—