As a final effort, the singer rendered some verses which described a vision of Britain being annihilated by America, and Ireland bursting her bonds. A carefully prepared crisis was reached in the last line of the last verse, where the singer threw out her arms and cried, “The star-spangled banner.” Instantly a great cheer swelled from the throats of the assemblage of the masses. There was a heavy rumble of booted feet thumping the floor. Eyes gleamed with sudden fire, and calloused hands waved frantically in the air.
After a few moments’ rest, the orchestra played crashingly, and a small fat man burst out upon the stage. He began to roar a song and stamp back and forth before the foot-lights, wildly waving a glossy silk hat and throwing leers, or smiles, broadcast. He made his face into fantastic grimaces until he looked like a pictured devil on a Japanese kite. The crowd laughed gleefully. His short, fat legs were never still a moment. He shouted and roared and bobbed his shock of red wig until the audience broke out in excited applause.
Pete did not pay much attention to the progress of events upon the stage. He was drinking beer and watching Maggie.
Her cheeks were blushing with excitement and her eyes were glistening. She drew deep breaths of pleasure. No thoughts of the atmosphere of the collar and cuff factory came to her.
When the orchestra crashed finally, they jostled their way to the sidewalk with the crowd. Pete took Maggie’s arm and pushed a way for her, offering to fight with a man or two.
They reached Maggie’s home at a late hour and stood for a moment in front of the gruesome doorway.
“Say, Mag,” said Pete, “give us a kiss for takin’ yeh teh deh show, will yer?”
Maggie laughed, as if startled, and drew away from him.
“Naw, Pete,” she said, “dat wasn’t in it.”
“Ah, what deh hell?” urged Pete.
The girl retreated nervously.
“Ah, what deh hell?” repeated he.
Maggie darted into the hall, and up the stairs. She turned and smiled at him, then disappeared.
Pete walked slowly down the street. He had something of an astonished expression upon his features. He paused under a lamp-post and breathed a low breath of surprise.
“Gawd,” he said, “I wonner if I’ve been played fer a duffer.”
As thoughts of Pete came to Maggie’s mind, she began to have an intense dislike for all of her dresses.
“What deh hell ails yeh? What makes yeh be allus fixin’ and fussin’? Good Gawd,” her mother would frequently roar at her.
She began to note, with more interest, the well-dressed women she met on the avenues. She envied elegance and soft palms. She craved those adornments of person which she saw every day on the street, conceiving them to be allies of vast importance to women.