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WHAT HAPPENED AFTERWARD
BY CHARLES BATTELL LOOMIS
THEN I saw her on the roof of that Ah, a balloon! But that did not ex
great house in the heart of New plain the apple-tree. I made up my mind York City, sitting on the limb of an apple- that I could not sleep that night until I tree and gazing at the clouds, I fell in had heard more of this strange story. love with her and said, “That woman, and When the Broadway express came in, she alone, shall be my bride!' And then the young and his companions I threw a kiss down to her. The next boarded it, and so did I. I would sit down minute I was a mile away
in front of him and even though it was Lenox Avenue express. Passengers the height of rudeness, I would read his off, please."
lips, a trick I learned while afflicted with At the interruption of the guard, the temporary deafness.
. crowd surged about me, and I was driven But, as luck would have it, he sat in out of ear-shot of the man who had ut- one of the cross seats, and a "peachtered the singular words printed above. basket” on top of a "peach” hid him from
· He was in evening clothes, and was accompanied by two elderly ladies, who, it In my youth I learned patience. “Though was plain to be seen, were deeply inter- I give up my contemplated trip to the ested in what he was saying.
Bermudas to-morrow," said I to myself, Pale-faced, intellectual-looking with very firmly, “I will hear the life-story of the stamp of candor in his eyes and a that romantic-looking young man." My nameless something that might well be heart was set on my holiday; but I conromanticism permeating his whole being, tinued, “Neither food nor drink shall pass he filled me with an absorbing curiosity my lips until I have learned what hapto know of what he was talking.
pened afterward." I was waiting for a down-town local, At Manhattan Street the young man and he was evidently waiting for a Broad- and his companions left the car, and my way express, for he let the Lenox pass. I heart sank. It is at Manhattan Street felt an insane impulse to go up to him that suburbanites get off. Must I follow and ask him what he was talking about. this man to some strange New Jersey I could see he was still engaged in telling haunt of the out-of-towners? his story, and the solemn-looking women If I must, I must, and I stepped off the on each side of him shook their heads and train just behind him, and heard him say, opened their mouths and unconsciously “Together we sat on the edge of the purlmimicked his facial expressions, as is the ing brook, and listened to the subdued habit of many; but they never smiled. noises of the city below." What he was telling them was of absorb- Worse and more of it! ing import, but it was evidently not hu- "How charming!" said one old lady, morous.
herself the personification of old-fashioned And yet it had had that sound.
charm. This wonderful woman, whoever she "How poetic!" said the other, whose was, was on the roof of a house in the white hair and old-fashioned bonnet sugheart of Manhattan, and yet she was sit- gested age when the sentimental ting on the bough of an apple-tree and reigned supreme. gazing at the passing clouds. Apple-trees "Yes,” said the young man with a feron New York houses are unheard of as vor that seemed absolutely sincere, "idylfar as I know. And then he threw down lic." a kiss to her. Where was he? On top We all passed down to the street, and of a higher building? No, for he said then, instead of walking across town to that the next minute he was a mile away. the ferry, the three went south two or
three blocks, and halted in front of an “One of the roof-gardens," said Ralph, apartment-house in a cross street.
patronizingly. Was I going to lose my young man? “No, it was n't a roof-garden; a roofSuppose he lived there? I must either go farm would come nearer to describing it. up and force myself upon his notice, and It was very evidently a private place, and baldly ask him to retell his story or else it must have covered a couple of acres wait until morning.
right in the heart of New York, and from But luck was with As they
they twenty to thirty stories up. ascended the steps the door opened, and “My companion was busy running the there came out a young man in evening balloon, and did not notice the farm, but clothes.
I was full of eyes, for at one corner of “Hello," said the romantic one; "you this prosperous little heart's-ease of a place 're just in time to have supper. What do was an apple-tree, and sitting on a bough you say, Mrs. Trembly? Shall we all of it was the most beautiful woman I have some ?"
It was eleven o'clock, time for old la- “When I saw her on the roof of that dies to be in bed; but these dear things great house in the heart of New York inclined their ears to his suggestion, and City, sitting on the limb of an apple-tree the four immediately wended their way and gazing at the clouds, I fell in love to a restaurant in the neighborhood. with her and said, “That woman, and she
And I also went; for I felt that I must alone, shall be my bride.' And I threw a keep this young man in sight, and I would kiss down to her. The next minute I was eat supper, too.
a mile away." No sooner were they seated than one of I almost expected to hear, “Lenox Avethe old ladies asked the young man to tell nue express. Passengers off, please,” but “Ralph” his romantic story.
there was no such interruption, and the The restaurant was a quiet one, not romantic young man went on, his three swagger, but highly respectable, and there auditors visibly interested, the old ladies were not more than three or four in it as before aping his facial expressions beside ourselves. So clear and penetrating through absorption in what he was saying. was the young man's voice that I could “But in that one look I had seen with not help but hear if he told the story. a busy eye, and I knew that that young
"Why,” said he, carelessly, “it is n't woman in the apple-tree was living a much to tell, and you have heard most of country life in the heart of New York, it."
that the little rustic cottage at the side "Don't mind me,” said Ralph, as if he of which the apple-tree grew sheltered her did n't care whether the story was retold form at night, that the old man driving or not. I took an instant dislike to him. the yoke of oxen at the farther end of the He looked to me like one of the "know- little patch was her father, and I also it-all” type, just out of college and with knew that in the whole wide universe I nothing further to learn.
loved but one woman, and that woman “Oh, tell it,” said Mrs. Trembly, smil- the lovely one I had surprised in her siming sweetly, and influenced by that smile ple life. She had seen me when I threw the young man began again at the begin- the kiss and had not seemed annoyed." ning.
"How charming!" said the elder of the “One day last month I was fortunate two old ladies, with a little sigh. I fanenough to be taken on a little balloon trip cied that she would have liked to be back by a man who has been giving exhibitions in the fifties, before the war, sitting in an in a small dirigible balloon at a near-by apple-tree on the top of a sky-scraper and park. After crossing the Hudson from receiving with equanimity the kisses the Jersey side, we sailed over New York, thrown by a strange man in a dirigible and followed the course of Broadway balloon. But it could never be; hence the about an eighth of a mile above it.
sigh. “We were in the neighborhood of the “Idyllic," said the younger lady, not at lower-numbered streets when I saw all shocked at the rapid passage of loverstrange sight, what looked like a little like courtesies on the part of the young farm on top of a building.”
man who sat before them.
Ralph did not say anything, but he to them, and although they had evidently looked about the room as if wondering heard all this before, for he had not yet whether any one else was listening. come to the place where he had said, “To
I of course gave no sign of having heard gether we sat on the edge of the purling a word, and the other suppers-to wrest brook, and listened to the subdued noises a word from its usual meaning-were of the city below," they were again ensupping very hard, and were heedful only tranced. of their own group.
“For days I sought for that house,” he “Well,” continued the young man, went on, his eyes gleaming. “I would "for me the rest of the trip was as noth- have gone up in the balloon again, but ing. I was told afterward that we went my friend had met with an accident and as far as Sandy Hook, and then finally his balloon was out of commission. came aground at Long Branch; but my "I inquired at police stations, and was thoughts were on that unknown roof, and laughed at as a madman. Mad I was busied themselves with the fair occupant over my lost one, but not mad in supposof the aërial apple-tree. What was she ing she had a corporeal existence. doing now? Did she help her father milk “But all things come to him who waits, the cows thirty stories above New York and once at midnight as I was walking streets? Had she swains coming up in along a cross street not a stone's throw the elevator to walk with her in the little from the Great White Way, I happened garden or gaze in the mimic brook that to glance within the courtyard of a great my one hasty glimpse had noticed purling sky-scraper. There in the Rembrandtin the direction of the East River, to esque shadows I saw what made me look which it was evidently led by a waste- again, for it was a team of oxen pulling pipe?"
a load of hay, and driven by the old man I should have supposed that right here I had seen on the roof-farm.” the ladies would have smiled. There was "Just think of that, Ralph!" said Mrs. something incongruous me in the Trembly, enthusiastically. She had evithought of a purling brook cascading into dently been waiting for this episode, for an ordinary waste-pipe, but they merely she looked from Ralph to the narrator elevated their eyebrows and looked benig- and back again to Ralph as if she felt she nant.
had performed a service in bringing a new “But my mission in life was plain,” listener to so odd a narration. said the young man. “I would seek for “Piffle!” said Ralph, and dropping a that thirty-story farm if I had to go up cigarette which he had been rude enough every sky-scraper in the city.
to smoke in the presence of the old ladies, “I knew in a general way that it lay he stamped on it pettishly. above Fourteenth Street and below Fif- "Go on, Mr. Bolingbroke," said Mrs. tieth Street, but its exact location I had Trembly, speaking the story-teller's name been unable to judge in my hurried for the first time. glimpse. But ever and always that sweet “It was plain to me,” said Mr. Bolingface in the apple-tree smiled at me sleep- broke, “that the old man did not wish to ing or waking, and ever I longed to press be seen. That was why he had waited her cool, white hand and tell her that I until midnight before appearing on the loved only her.”
street with his load of fresh-mown, skyAt this point Ralph uttered a sup- scraped hay. pressed exclamation and began to look “Ah me! how sweet it smelled! I could foolish. He was plainly not "romantic,” picture my fair unknown as having tossed nor was his sense of humor strong, and he it gracefully from one end of the farm to would have been well pleased to be else- the other as she helped her aged parent. where than in a public restaurant while “The oxen were shod with rubber such an avowal of love for a young wo- shoes, therefore their passage through the man was going on. But the two old la- street was attended with no noise. And dies purred until you could have heard the revelers on the Great White Way them in the street. They were having the were too intent on their follies to notice time of their sweet old lives. This young the horned beasts when they crossed man was a perfectly good Scheherazade Broadway.
"Waiting until the man had gotten out “To tell the truth,” said he, “I am of sight, bound for some haymarket, I rather glad that Ralph went. He disconcautiously walked within the courtyard certed me, for he was antagonistic in his and looked about me.
atmosphere. Let 's see, where was I?" “Was the elevator running at that time "You had just stepped aboard the of night? Plainly not, for it was an of- freight-elevator,” said Mrs. Trembly, fice building, and all its lights were ex- eagerly. tinguished, its erstwhile busy clerks and "Yes, yes," said the other. “Oh, I managers and stenographic corps gone think what follows is most remarkable, home.”
almost unbelievable!” “What a suggestion of poetry in that!" “I stepped aboard the elevator and said Mrs. Trembly. “How varied their pulled the rope. The car did not move, lives!”
but a voice from below said, “That you, "Charming!" murmured the other lady. Mr. Haynes ? Back again so soon?'
Mr. Bolingbroke bowed at the compli- "I am something of a mimic, and I had ment, and I wondered what his thoughts heard the farmer say, 'Gee haw, gee a litwere concerning these innocent ladies. tle!' to his oxen, and in the same tones I But it did my heart good to see their en- said, 'Yes, found I'd left my pitchfork joyment of the tale. Their salad had re
up on the farm.' ceived inadequate attention, so engrossed " 'Should n't have a farm in such an were they in the account of one man's unlikely place,' said the voice, gruffly; but night in New York.
the elevator began to move, and after The young man continued his narra- what seemed to me a year it came to a tion.
stop under a hood. Then the silver moon “But the old man had evidently come shed its beams on me, I smelled the frafrom above. How? By the freight-ele
By the freight-ele- grance of honeysuckle, and I knew that I vator undoubtedly. Cautiously I tiptoed had come to the sky-farm. to the elevator-shaft, and found the plat- And now I come to the most romantic form car at the street level.
part of the story. I assure you that I had “The gate was open, and I stepped had no thought beyond getting to the aboard"
farm. The hour was late, and I supposed “Say, if you 'll excuse me, I'll run that the gentle girl had long since gone along," said Ralph. "I just happened to sleep. I intended to find some sequesto think I was writing a letter — "
tered spot in a haymow where I could “Afraid of being made a fool of,” sleep until morning, and then in broad thought I as he passed me. "When will daylight I meant to seek out the lady of he have the serene unconsciousness of the the apple-tree and ask her to be mine." dear old aristocrats?"
"How honorable!” said Mrs. TremThey excused him, although his excuse bly, fervently. seemed inadequate; but the old ladies “But when I stepped off the car, whom begged Mr. Bolingbroke to go on with his did I behold but the roof-farmer's daughstory.
ter, a look of anxiety on her lovely face “You know, you had n't quite finished and a pitchfork in her hands! The moon it when Ralph came. He 's Jane's child silvered the tips of her eyelashes in a manall over - not ounce of romance in ner indescribably beautiful, and I loved him," said Mrs. Trembly. “He acted as her more than ever. if he did n't believe you.'
“ 'Who are you?' said she. “Who dares "Romance is always and everywhere," to come to this forbidden spot? Are you said the other ancient one. “It is all in the reception we give to it. Perhaps the At this point Mrs. Trembly interrupted old man with the oxen did not know that the recital. he was romantic."
“Tell me,” said she,—“I meant to ask “ Perhaps not,” said Mr. Bolingbroke, you before, - did she that she very soberly, and catching my eye just thought you a coward to come at night or then, it seemed to me that he winked at had she never seen a man?" me; but as I am a little near-sighted, I As it turned out, I was the first man would not swear to it.
she had ever seen near by except her fa