A block or two north of the Park, Dawe steered the editor again eastward, then, after covering a short distance, into a lofty but narrow flathouse burdened with a floridly over-decorated facade. To the fifth story they toiled, and Dawe, panting, pushed his latch-key into the door of one of the front flats.
When the door opened Editor Westbrook saw, with feelings of pity, how meanly and meagerly the rooms were furnished.
“Get a chair, if you can find one,” said Dawe, “while I hunt up pen and ink. Hello, what’s this? Here’s a note from Louise. She must have left it there when she went out this morning.”
He picked up an envelope that lay on the centre-table and tore it open. He began to read the letter that he drew out of it; and once having begun it aloud he so read it through to the end. These are the words that Editor Westbrook heard:
“By the time you get
this I will be about a hundred miles away and
still a-going. I’ve got a place in the chorus of the Occidental
Opera Co., and we start on the road to-day at twelve o’clock. I
didn’t want to starve to death, and so I decided to make my own
living. I’m not coming back. Mrs. Westbrook is going with me. She
said she was tired of living with a combination phonograph, iceberg
and dictionary, and she’s not coming back, either. We’ve been
practising the songs and dances for two months on the quiet. I hope
you will be successful, and get along all right! Good-bye.
Dawe dropped the letter, covered his face with his trembling hands, and cried out in a deep, vibrating voice:
"My God, why hast thou given me this cup to drink? Since she is false, then let Thy Heaven’s fairest gifts, faith and love, become the jesting by-words of traitors and fiends!"
Editor Westbrook’s glasses fell to the floor. The fingers of one hand fumbled with a button on his coat as he blurted between his pale lips:
"Say, Shack, ain’t that a hell of a note? Wouldn’t that knock you off your perch, Shack? Ain’t it hell, now, Shack—ain’t it?"
PAST ONE AT ROONEY’S
Only on the lower East Side of New York do the houses of Capulet and Montagu survive. There they do not fight by the book of arithmetic. If you but bite your thumb at an upholder of your opposing house you have work cut out for your steel. On Broadway you may drag your man along a dozen blocks by his nose, and he will only bawl for the watch; but in the domain of the East Side Tybalts and Mercutios you must observe the niceties of deportment to the wink of any eyelash and to an inch of elbow room at the bar when its patrons include foes of your house and kin.