Puslapio vaizdai


and a good many young ones, who would and keep straight on around until you gladly pay that amount for your invest- come out at Simon. St. Big Jim and St. ments, for your securities."

Pete are in the middle of the row.” He Now, the lad, with eager, upturned laughed. countenance, did not conceal his amuse- “Surely, no one of the Apostles was ment while the man drew this picture of called Big Jim!” protested the man, with him as a living, ragged gold-mine, as actu- forced sobriety and wholesome reverence. ally put together and made up of pieces “I call him that sometimes. He is of fabulous treasure. A child's notion of really James the Greater. He 's no bigwealth is the power to pay for what it has ger than the others; they are all nine and not. The wealth that childhood is, escapes a half feet. The Archangel Gabriel on childhood; it does not escape the old. the roof he's nine and a half. Everybody What most concerned the lad as to these standing around on the outside is nine priceless feet and hands and eyes and ears and a half. If Gabriel had been turned was the hard-knocked-in fact that many a a little to one side, he would blow his time he ached throughout this reputed trumpet straight over our roof. He did n't treasury of his being for a five-cent piece, blow anywhere one night, for a big wind and these reputed millionaires, acting to- came up behind him and blew him down, gether and doing their level best, could and he blew at the gutter. But he did n't not produce one.

stay down," boasted the lad with Nevertheless, the fresh and never-be- prompt, proud joy. fore-imagined image of his self-riches Throughout this talk he made it clear staggered him. It somehow put him over that the cathedral was a neighborhood into the class of enormously opulent affair, that its haps and mishaps possessed things; and finding himself a little lonely the fesh-and-blood interest of a living on that mental landscape, he cast about neighbor. Plainly his affections were imfor some object of comparison. Thus his bedded in it. Love always takes mental mind was led to the richest of all near-by possession of its object, and by virtue of objects.

his love it was his. “If I were worth a hundred million,” “You seem rather interested in the cahe said, with a satisfied twinkle in his thedral, very much interested,” observed eyes, “I would be as rich as the cathe- the man, with increased attention. dral."

“Why, of course, Mister. I 've been A significant silence followed. The passing there nearly every day since I 've man broke it gravely:

been selling papers on the avenue. “How did you happen to think of the times I stop and watch the masons. cathedral ?"

Granny tells me to. When I went with “I did n't happen to think of it; I her to the art school this morning, she could n't help thinking of it."

told me to go home that way. I have just “Have you ever been in the cathedral ?" been over there. They are building aninquired the man, incredulously.

other one of the chapels now, and the men “Been in it! We go there all the time. were up on the scaffolding. They had It 's our church. Why, good Lord! Vis- carried more rock up than they wanted, ter, we are descended from a bishop!" and they would walk to the edge and

The man laughed long and heartily. throw big pieces of it down with a smash.

“Thank you for telling me,” he said The old house they are using for the as one who feels himself a very small ob- choir school is just under there. Someject in the neighborhood of such heredi- times when the class is practising, I can

, tary beatitudes and ecclesiastical sancti- hear them from the outside. If they sing ties. “Are you, indeed? I am glad to high, I sing high; if they sing low, I sing know."

low. Why, Mister, I can sing"Why, Mister, we have been watching He broke off abruptly. He had been the cathedral from oịr windows for years. pouring out all kinds of confidences to his We can see the workmen away up in the new-found friend. Now he hesitated. air as they finish one part and then an- The boldness of his nature deserted him. other part. I can count the Apostles on The deadly preparedness ran short. A the roof. You begin with James the Less, shy, appealing look came into his eyes as


[ocr errors]

he asked his next question-a grave ques- on the white blossoms of the various tion indeed:

shrubs. They found the pink hawthorn; "Mister, do you love music?"

in the boughs of one of those trees one “Do I love music?" echoed the startled night in England in mid-May he had musician, pierced by the spear-like sincer- heard the nightingale, master singer of the ity of the question, which seemed to go non-human world. Up to him rose the clean through him and through all his enchanting picture of grass and moss and knowledge and to point back to child- fern. It was all like a sheet of soft organ hood's springs of feeling. “Do I love music to his reading eyes. music? Yes, some music, I hope. Some While he gazed, he listened. Down kinds of music, I hope."

past the

shadows and the greenness, These moderate, chastened words re- through the blossoms and the light, growstored the boy's confidence and captured ing fainter and fainter, went a wandering his friendship completely. Now he felt little drift of melody, a haunting, unidensure of his comrade, and he put to him a tified sound under the blue cathedral more daring question:

dome of the sky. He reflected again that “Do you know anything about the ca- he had never heard anything like it. thedral?"

Then he saw the lad's sturdy figure The man smiled guiltily.

bound across the valley to join friends in “A little. I know a little about the play on the thoroughfare that skirts the cathedral," he admitted.

park alongside the row of houses. And now the whole secret came out: He himself turned and went in the di

“Do you know how boys get into the rection of the cathedral. cathedral choir school ?”

As he walked slowly along, one thing The man did not answer, but stood haunted him açutely-the upturned face looking down at the lad, in whose eyes all of the lad and the look in his eyes as he at once a great baffled desire told its story. asked the question which brought out the Then he pulled out his watch and merely secret desire of a life: “Do you know said:

how boys get into the cathedral choir "I must be going. Good morning." school?" Then the blight of disappointHe turned his way across the rock.

ment when there was no answer. Disappointment darkened the lad's face The man walked thoughtfully on, seemwhen he saw that he was to receive no ingly as one who was turning over and answer; withering blight dried up its joy. over in his mind some difficult, delicate But he recovered himself quickly.

matter, looking at it on all sides and in "Well, I must be going, too,” he said every light, as he must do. bravely and sweetly. “Good morning.” Finally he quickened his pace as though He turned his way across the rock. But having decided what ought to be done. he had had a good time talking with this

III stranger, and, after all, he was a Southerner; and so, as his head was about to 'That night in an attic-like room of an disappear below the cliff, he called back old building opposite Morningside Park in his frank, human way, “I 'm glad I a tiny supper-table for two stood ready in met you, Mister."

the middle of the floor; the supper itself, The man went up, and the boy went the entire meal, was spread. There is a down.

victory which human nature in thousands The man, having climbed to the para- of lives daily wins over want, that though pet, leaned over the stone wall. The tops it cannot drive poverty from the scene, it of some of the tall poplar-trees, rooted can hide its desolation in the open by the far below, were on a level with his eyes. genius of choice and of touch. A battle Often he stopped there to watch them of that brave and desperate kind had been swaying like upright plumes against the won in this garret. Lacking every luxury, wind. They swayed now in the silvery it had the charm of tasteful bareness, of April air with a ripple of silvery leaves. exquisite penury. The supper-table, cheap His eyes sought out intimately the barely wood roughly carpentered, was hidden swollen buds on the boughs of other for- under a piece of fine, long-used tableest trees yet far from leaf. They lingered linen; into the gleaming damask were

[ocr errors]



wrought clusters of snowballs. The glare "I 'm awfully hungry. Are n't you of a plain glass lamp was softened by a nearly ready?” too costly silk shade. Over the rim of a The reply could not be heard. common vase hung a few daffodils, too “Are you putting on the dress I like?” costly daffodils. The supper, frugal to a The reply was not heard. bargain, tempted by the good sense with “Don't you want me to bring you a which it had been chosen and prepared. daffodil to wear?" Thus the whole scene betokened human The reply was lost. For a few minnature at bay, but victorious in the pres- utes the progenitor emptied his ancient ence of that wolf whose near-by howl lungs of some further moribund intimastartles the poor out of their sleep.

tions of tone. Later came another protest, Into this empty room sounds penetrated truly plaintive: through a door. They proceeded from "You could n't look any nicer. I 'm piano-keys evidently so old that one won- awfully hungry." dered whether possibly they had not be- Then all at once, as though the deathgun their labors in the days of Beethoven, due musical lungs had in a spasm fallen whether they were not such as were new in upon themselves, there was a tremenon the clavichord of Bach. The fingers dous smash on the keys, a joyous smash, that pressed them were unmistakably those and a moment afterward the door was of a child. As the hands wandered up softly opened. and down the keyboard, the ear now and

Mother and son entered the supperthen took notice of a broken string. There

One of his arms was around her were many of these broken strings. The waist, one of hers enfolded him about the instrument plainly announced itself to be neck and shoulders; they were laughing. a remote, well-nigh mythical ancestor, The teacher of the portrait class and preternaturally lingering on amid an in- his pupils would hardly have recognized numerable deafening modern progeny. It their model; the stranger on the hillside suggested a superannuated human being might not at once have identified the whose loudest utterances for the world newsboy. For model and newsboy, havhad sunk to ghostly whispers in a corner. ing laid aside the masks of the day that

Once the wandering hands stopped, and so often in New York people find it a voice was heard. It sounded as though necessary to wear,-the tragic mask, the pitched to reach some one in an inner comic mask, the callous, coarse, brutal room farther away, possibly a person who mask, the mask of the human pack, the might just have passed from a kitchen to mask of the human sty,– reappeared at a bedroom to make some change of dress. home with each other as nearly what in It was a very affectionate voice, very true truth they were as the denials of life and sweet, very tender, very endearing. would allow.

"Another string snapped to-day. There entered the room a woman of There's another key silent. There won't high breeding, with a certain Pallas-like be any but silent keys soon."

purity and energy of mien, clasping to The speaker seemed sorry without feel- her side her only child, a son whom she ing obliged to be sorry; remorseful, but secretly believed to be destined to greatnot troubled by remorse.

ness. She was dressed not with the studied There must have been a reply. Re- plainness and abnegation of the model in sponding to it, the voice at the piano the studio, but out of regard for her true sounded again, this time very loyal and station and her motherly responsibilities. devoted to an object closer at hand: Her utmost wish was that in years to

“But when we do get a new one, we come, when he looked back upon his childwon't throw the old one away. It has hood, he would always remember his evedone its best.”

nings with his mother. During the day Whereupon the musical ancestor was he must see her drudge, and many a picencouraged to speak up again while he ture of herself on a plane of life below had a chance, being a very dear ancestor, her own she knew to be fastened to his and not by any means dead in some re- growing brain; but as nearly as possible gions. Soon, however, the voice pleaded blotting these out, daily blotting them out anew with a kind of patient impatience: one by one, must be the evening pictures

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

when the day's work was done, its dis- She would be able to sit more at peace guises dropped, its humiliations over, and through those hours of posing if she could she, a serving-woman of fate, reappeared know that he had gone across the cathebefore him in the lineaments of his mother, dral grounds and then across the park, as to remain with him throughout his life as along a country road, bordered with the the supreme woman of the human race,

green of young grass and with shrubs in his idol until death, his mother.

bloom and forest trees in early leaf. She She now looked worthy of such an wished to keep all day before her eyes the ideal. But it was upon him that her heart picture of him as straying that April morn lavished extravagance when nightly he along such a country road--sometimes the had laid aside the coarse, half-ragged road of faint, far girlhood memories to fighting clothes of the streets. In those her. after years when he was to gaze across a Then with a great incomprehensible look

a long distance, he must be made to realize she had vanished from him. But before that away back there when he was a lit- the doors closed, he, peering past her, had tle fellow, it was his mother who first had caught sight of the walls inside thickly seen his star while it was still low on the hung with portraits of men and women horizon; and that from the beginning she in rich colors and in golden frames. Into had so reared him that there would be this splendid world his mother had vanstamped upon his memory the gentleness ished, herself to be painted. of his birth and her resolve to support him Now as he began ravenously to eat his in keeping with this through the neediest supper he wished to hear all about it. She hours.

told him. Part of her experience she kept While he was in his bath, she, as though back, a true part; the other, no less true, she were his valet, had laid out trim house she described. With deft fingers she went shoes and black stockings; and as the over the somberly woven web of the hours, spring night had a breath of summer and plucking here a bright thread and warmth, of almost Southern summer there a bright thread, rewove these into warmth, she had put out also a suit of a smaller picture, on which fell the day's white linen knickerbockers. Under his far-separated sunbeams; they were conbroad sailor collar she herself tied a big, densed now and made a solid brightness. soft, flowing black ribbon of the finest This is how she painted for him a silk. Above this rose the solid-looking bright picture out of the things not many head like a sphere on a column of tri- of which were bright. The teacher of the umph, with its lustrous, bronzed hair, portrait class, to begin, had been very conwhich, as she brushed it, she tenderly siderate. He had arranged that she should stroked with her hands, often kissing the leave her things with the janitor's wife bronzed face, ardent and friendly to the down-stairs, and not go up-stairs and take world, and thinking to herself of the dou- them off behind some screens in a corner ble blue in his eyes, the old Saxon blue of of the room where the class was assembattle and the old Saxon blue of the min- bled. That would have been dreadful, to strel, too.

have to go behind the screens. Then inIt was the evening meal that always stead of sending word for her to come up, brought them together, and he was at once he himself had come down. As he led the curious to hear how everything had gone way past the confusing halls and studios, at the art school. With some unsold pa- he had looked back over his shoulder just pers under his arm he had walked with a little, to let her know that not for a moher to the entrance, a new pang in his ment did he lose thought of her. To have breast about her that he did not under- walked in front of her, looking straight stand. At the door-step she had stooped ahead, might have meant that he esteemed

. and kissed him and bade him good-by. her a person of no consequence. A master Her quiet, quivering words were:

so walks before a servant, a superior be"Go home, dear, by way of the cathe- fore an inferior. Out of respect, he had dral.”

even lessened the natural noisiness of his If he took the other convenient route, feet on the bare floor. If you put your it would lead him into one of the city's feet down hard in the house, it does not main cross streets, beset with dangers. mean that you are thinking for other peo




ple. He had mounted the stairs slowly sometimes he, though hungry, with fork in lest she get out of breath. When he pre- the air paused to listen and to question. ceded her into the presence of the class, Now as she finished and looked across the he had turned as though he introduced to table at the picture of him under the them his own mother. In everything he lamplight, she was rewarded, she was condid he was really a man; that is, a gentle- tent; while he ate his plain food, out of

For being a gentleman is being her misfortunes she had richly nourished really a man; if you are really a man, you his mind. He did not know this; but she are a gentleman.

knew it, knew by his look and by his only As for the members of the class, they comment: had been beautiful in their treatment of “You had a perfectly splendid time, her. Not a word had been exchanged did n't you?" with them, but she could feel their beau- She laughed to herself. tiful thoughts. Sometimes when she “Now, then," she said, coming to what glanced at them, while they worked, such had all along been most in her consciousbeautiful expressions rested on their faces. ness — “now, then, tell me about your day. Unconsciously their natures had opened Begin at the moment you left me." like young flowers, and as at the hearts of He laid down his napkin, --he could young flowers there is for each a clear eat no more, and there was nothing more drop of honey, so in each of their minds to eat, -and he folded his hands quite like was one same thought, the remembrance the head of the house at ease at his board of their mothers. Altogether it was as after a careless feast, and then he began though they were all there for her sake, his story. and not she there for everybody's.

Well, he had had a splendid day, too. As to posing itself, one had not a thing After he had left her he had gone to the to do but sit perfectly still. One got such dealer's on the avenue with the unsold a good rest from being too much on one's papers. Then he had crossed over to the feet. And they had placed for her such a cathedral, and for a while had watched splendid carved-oak chair. When she took the men at work up in the air. He had her seat, all at once she had felt as in old walked around to the choir school, but no times. There were immense windows; one was there that morning, not a sound she had had all the fresh air she wished, coming from the inside. Then he had and she did enjoy fresh air. The whole started down across the park. As he sat roof was a window, and she could look down to count his money, a man who had out at the sky: sometimes the loveliest come up the hillside stopped and asked clouds drifted over, and sometimes the him a great many questions: who taught dearest little bird flew past, no doubt on him music and whether any one had ever its way to the park. Last, but not least, heard him sing. This stranger also liked she had not been crowded. In New York music and he also went to the cathedral, it was almost impossible to occupy a good so he claimed. From that point the story seat in a public place without being wound its way onward across the busy nudged or bumped or crowded. But that hours till nightfall. had actually happened to her. She had It was a child's story, not an older perhad a delightful chair in a very public son's. Therefore it did not draw the line place, with plenty of room in every direc- between pleasant and unpleasant, between tion. Oh, plenty of room, more than fair and unfair, right and wrong, which enough. How fortunate at last to dis- make up for each of us the history of our cover that she could pose! It would fit in checkered human day. It separated life perfectly at times when she did not have as a swimmer separates the sea: to the to go out for needlework or for the other swimmer, in front and on each side is the demands. Dollars would now soon begin same sea; it is one water which he parts to be brought in like their bits of coal, by by his passage. So the child, who is still the scuttleful! And then the piano! And wholly a child, divides the world. then the real teacher and the real lessons ! But as she pondered, she discriminated. And then, and then

Out of the long, rambling narrative she Her happy story ended. She had laid hold of one overwhelming incident watched the play of lights on his face as and held on to that, forgetting the rest :

« AnkstesnisTęsti »