The Eleventh Virgin

By Dorothy Day.

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This book is affectionately dedicated to H. N., to J. K., to a girl whose initials I cannot remember, and although it is not customary to include oneself in dedications, to myself; according to agreement.

The Eleventh Virgin

Part I

Adolescent

I

Every few months Mother Grace and the children’s father had a house party and that meant the horse-chestnut tree in the back garden would have an outcropping of nickels and dimes. They grew in the branches and were hidden among the leaves and twigs around the trunk. The boys could climb for them, but June had to burrow around the roots of the tree. She was only four then⁠ ⁠…

There was a convenient ledge all around underneath the kitchen table where the children ate supper and they hid their crusts there. Sometimes they were able to slip away unsuspected from the supper table and sometimes Mary Milady, the “girl,” went around and scooped up the crusts and made them eat them before they went out to play “run, sheepy, run.” The disadvantage of that was that the crusts got mixed up and one had to eat them indiscriminately. June being a finicky child much preferred to eat her own⁠ ⁠…

Sadie Spielberger, whose mother kept a grocery store at the end of the block, used to lure June into the little corn field at the back of the house and while the two of them hid among the sweet smelling cornstalks, told June things which were very interesting but which June felt that she ought not to know. There was an agreeable excitement in listening to Sadie, excitement akin to that stomach-aching thrill when one was going to the circus.

But Sadie died from eating an Easter egg which had served as a parlor ornament for ten years. It was made of sugar and by squinting through one end, June could see a cow and a milkmaid and green trees. Sadie’s death, June felt, was the result of delving too deeply into life’s secrets⁠ ⁠…

There was a brook running through the vacant lot across the street, and June and her sister Adele used to sit on the stones and try to turn hairs from a horse’s tail into water-snakes, holding the long hairs patiently in the water, waiting for the heads to grow on them as you were told they did. Concentration made Adele dizzy and she fell in the water and went home howling. June was whipped for it because, as Mother Grace argued, June was two years older and should have known better. That was one of the disadvantages of playing with one’s sister.

June was slapped for many things. For going to the icebox and dipping her fingers into the condensed milk can. Two fingers could scoop up a lot⁠ ⁠…

At the end of the summer the weeds in the lot grew so high that June could tunnel her way through them, making large green-roofed caves here and there. One of the boys let her share his cave with him and some afternoons when the others weren’t around, he took her in his arms and kissed her, pressing himself up against her. He was one of the big boys, fourteen, and when June was allowed to play with a boy of his age who was captain of the “run, sheepy, run” team which always won, she felt that she should be glad that he wanted to hug her. But there was wickedness in it. It was exciting.

June was eight then, and at school, during recess, the girls joined hands and formed a circle and sang:

“Water, water wine-flower,
Growing up so high.
We are all young ladies
And we are sure to die.

All excepting Ju-une,
She is the fairest flower.
Fie for shame, fie for shame,
Turn around and tell your beau’s name.”

It wasn’t always June of course who was the “fairest flower.” Sometimes whole days passed before she was called upon to be one. It gave her a secret thrill to name the captain of the “run, sheepy, run” team. His name was Harvey. Then the girls joined hands again and sang:

“Harvey⁠—Harvey’s a nice young man,
Comes to the door with his hat in his hand.
Takes off his gloves and shows her the ring,
Tomorrow, tomorrow the wedding will begin.

“Harvey’s sick and ready to die,
That will make poor Ju-une cry,
Oh June, Oh June, don’t you cry,
He’ll be better by and by.”

Not long after this was a great upheaval. The Henreddy family moved to the city where there were no vacant lots and brooks and houses with wide lawns around them. Instead there was a long tenement which stretched the entire length of a block. There were stores downstairs and above there were five-room flats and back of each flat there was a porch as big as a room. Each porch had a gate to it, and when June went outside the gate, there was a long passageway down which she could walk, staring in at the other porches⁠—some of them with geraniums, and nasturtiums in boxes nailed to the railing, and swings hanging in the middle of the porches⁠ ⁠…

For lunch there was always potato soup and for supper there were bananas, bread and butter and jelly and tea. June didn’t like tea and she didn’t like jelly. And she didn’t like being sent after the bananas. “Get dead ripe ones,” her mother always said. “They ought to be only ten cents a dozen.” And Mother Grace told her if she couldn’t get them for ten cents in one place to go on to the next⁠ ⁠…

There was housework to do. Wiping dishes and sometimes washing. Wiping up the floor, and worst of all, dusting. After June and Adele read the story of Polly Pepper from the Sunday School library, there was more fascination in housework. June even polished the faucets of the kitchen sink.

Once there was a terrible scene. Mother Grace picked up dishes one by one and slammed them on the floor. Mr. Henreddy got behind her and tried to hold her and kept saying, “Grace, now Grace dear.”

June and Adele were making valentines⁠—the next day they were going to get up early and distribute them to the other children around the porches⁠—and they sat with gaudy bits of paper in their hands and whimpered as the smashing continued. Dan hustled them into the bedroom and made them go down on their knees and pray. Dave wouldn’t pray. He just sat with white lips and pretended to go on reading.

Afterwards when it was over and Mother Grace was weak and shaking on the bed, Mr. Henreddy sent out for ice cream for the children, but June refused to eat hers. It was too terrible an evening to think of eating ice cream. She sat and wept. Wept for her mother, and for her father because he was so pathetic in his efforts to comfort them. And because ice cream, generally considered a treat, made the tragedy more poignant.

The next day Mother Grace made a terse remark about losing her nerve and no more was said about it. June had a hideous feeling of shame and bitterness in her heart, but she did not blame her mother for a minute. Mother Grace was brave as a general rule. She had a sweet habit of “dressing up” in the afternoon. Not that she wasn’t neat and tidy in her pleasant house dresses in the morning. But on cleaning days when the floors had to be scrubbed or after a hard morning in the common laundry in the basement of the tenement, Mother Grace was exceptionally dainty.

June loved to watch and help; to prepare the hot bath with just a drop of cologne, for Mother Grace couldn’t afford bath salts; to lay out the towels and the treasured silk kimono with storks and flowers embroidered on it. And afterwards to keep Adele quietly amused on the back porch while Mother Grace napped for fifteen minutes. She seldom allowed herself more for there was always sewing and mending to do in the afternoon.

It was a special treat to be allowed to help at the dressing, to brush out the long twist of hair.

“Oh dear, oh dear, won’t it ever get all grey,” she often said. It was beautifully white around her face and she was proud of it, for she was only thirty. “I’ve heard say that you could have your hair whitened, but I doubt it. There⁠—that’s enough for the brushing of it. Just see if I get all the little hairs tucked-in in back, dear. The hand-glass, please. If it won’t curl, it’s got to stay tucked. Women who let their hair straggle on the back of their necks, add ten years to their age⁠—” this denunciation of the careless woman coming through several hairpins which Mother Grace kept in readiness in her mouth to tuck some more.

It was fun to powder her round neck and dimpled shoulder blades and still more fun to watch her with the pinkish, smelly powder for her face and the little dabs of rouge for cheeks and the lobes of her ears.

There was a deep sigh of pleasure for her improved appearance and always the emphatic statement that she felt a hundred times better already.

The toilet was completed when violet perfume was applied delicately to eyebrows and behind the ears, and as a reward for services rendered, to the flat bosom of June’s frock.

This afternoon’s toilet always brought back the smiley corners to Mother Grace’s lips and eyes.

But in times of unusual stress, when the rent had to be paid and there was no money to pay it, or when Mr. Henreddy had been hypercritical about the breakfast set before him and had stamped around and made the atmosphere blue, there was relief to be found in what Mother Grace termed “dissipation.”

June was sent down the street to spend fifteen cents on a bottle of ginger ale and the sewing that afternoon would be accompanied by sips of ginger ale highball.

“Will you have just a taste of ‘oh-be-joyful’ in your ginger ale?” Mother would say gayly, and June would have a thimbleful added, not because she liked the taste, but because she liked to feel grown-up and companionable. And the warm feeling produced was very pleasant, too.

Whenever Mother Grace referred to whiskey as “oh-be-joyful” she’d sigh, “dear old Uncle Charlie,” and there would follow stories about him and his whaling vessel and his iceboat on the Hudson and when Mother was a little girl. To which little June listened with absorbed attention⁠—so absorbed, indeed, that she could not darn more than two holes in the afternoon.

One of the little girls whom June played with was called “Cathern” and was a most intimate friend. She had ten dolls “up in the closet” and that phrase typified everything delightful to June. Once she wistfully asked Mother Grace if she didn’t have a doll “up in the closet” for her. “Damn that stingy Hall woman,” said her mother, and then scolded June for letting Mrs. Hall know that she wanted a doll by looking wistfully at Catherine’s.

But she took two towels nevertheless and in some miraculous way with cotton and clothespins and crayons and scraps, made dolls of fascinating character and expression. And for mouths there were buttonholed slits, very conveniently opened for “nippy bottles” which you could buy at the store for two cents. “Cathern” had nothing like them.

There were other things that Mother Grace did. When she noticed that “Cathern” and her sister “Gwadys” often had tea-parties in the afternoon (exclusive tea-parties to which no one was invited) she scrubbed the sooty back porch and put out a carpet and table and chairs and there suddenly appeared a surprise party of oatmeal cookies and cocoa molasses candy. And this was an exceptional party, for she invited not only Cathern and Gwadys (with intent to heap coals of fire perhaps) but six others beside.

And when Dave and Dan joined the choir and went away for a week’s vacation in a camp there was an evening treat for the girls every night. Sometimes it was ice cream and sometimes it was moving pictures and when it was ice cream, Mother Grace divided the pitcherful (it was now ten cents worth) into three equal parts, but somehow she could never finish hers.

“A little goes a long way,” she assured them, and then there was an extra portion to divide.

Mary was one of the porch children and the eldest of nine. She was a Catholic, and she told June of the mysteries of her religion and her saints one evening after the supper dishes were done, and before the smaller children had to be put to bed. The gleaming stars glimpsed through the network of porches, the soft warm night, and the dusky odorous alley made her disclosures all the more impressive. She also gave June the story of a saint to read, with the result that thereafter June prayed to Pelagia, her birthday saint, every time a whipping threatened. It didn’t avert the punishment, but her faith remained unshaken. Were the saints ever saved from the cauldrons of boiling oil by their prayers?

One hot night, when the hurdy-gurdies were playing in the street, and the call of the “hot tamale” man and the voices of the passersby kept the night alive, Adele stuck her elbow in June’s ribs.

“Tell me a story so’s I kin get to sleep,” she demanded.

“Won’t!” June replied. “I’m thinkin’.”

“All right for you. I’ll tell Mother how you went swimmin’ again with the boys after she told you not to.”

“All right, then, I’ll make an old witch’s face at you and scare you.”

“I’ll tell Mother on you for that too. Are y’gonna tell me a story?” she asked1 threateningly.

A whipping had lost its novelties and much of its terror for June. She was about to pull her sister’s hair when she thought of St. Pelagia and a new game they hadn’t played. Adele snuggled her hot face against her shoulder and breathed on her neck while June narrated the trials and struggles of the early saints.

“So you see,” she mumbled in conclusion, “if you ever expect to get to heaven, we’ve got to begin trying that stuff now. They all slept on the floor and hard boards and the stone floors of prison cells and ate nothing but bread and water. I don’t know what you’re going to do, but I’m going to sleep on the floor tonight.”

“You ain’t gonna be the only martyr. Me too.”

For weeks after that their bedroom at night was transformed into a bare cell, and to their glowing imaginations, visions of St. Pelagia and the Virgin with her little Christ child hovered around. And every night the smell of beer and whiskey came up in waves from the saloon below, and the Drunken Lady who lived in the flat above fell into bed and snorted and groaned with the heat all night.

And then they moved away from the tenement and for a time life lost its poignancy.

II

Life was becoming very difficult for June. There was nothing to do but read and go to school and help with the housework. Reading, in itself, might have been a pleasure, save for the fact that it was always interrupted to help prepare meals, to set tables, to make beds. Reading, moreover, seemed to make life even more of a problem.

For instance, there was the question of her soul and where she was before she was born and what would be come of her afterward. In reading Martin Eden, she came across references to Herbert Spencer, and she borrowed First Principles from the library and was unhappy that she could not understand it. In reading Edgar Allan Poe, she found references to metempsychosis which was easier to understand and believe, after consulting works of reference. The word led to research in ancient religion. She bumped into Kant and Spinoza afterwards and found them insurmountable. Coming across Darwin, she was slightly encouraged at finding him relatively understandable, and Darwin led her to Huxley and Huxley to Fabre.

She was learning a good deal, she reflected, not in the curriculum at the high school where she had to translate twenty lines each of French, Latin and Greek, write a theme, and read ten pages of dull history a day.

She was studying continually, but in her reading, she had not found any references to adolescence, nor anything to explain why life was so unreasonably difficult and why she was so unhappy.

In a sudden reaction from Zoroastrianism June became interested in the Episcopal church which her mother had attended as a child and her grandmother before her. But enjoyment of the elaborate services was at best a mournful one, nor did the pleasurable conviction of sin come to her until she fell in love. This happened when she was fifteen.


She was terribly sensitive about this new passion which gripped her and left her hot and cold and on the verge of tears, morning, noon and night. She was afraid that her brothers would get possession of the diary which she kept and read about it, and quote some passage to enrage her.

They had done so often enough before⁠—quoted little things, bits of religious ecstasy, scraps about her friends. And she used to become frightfully angry and chase them around the house with the bread knife until they were afraid and told Mother Grace that she was a wild cat. June never would have touched them with it, but she used to pummel them with her fists and bite them and pull their hair till they lost their tempers and fought back.

For a while it had seemed that no hiding-place was safe. If she put the diary under her mattress and locked the door of her bedroom, they would climb on the shed above the kitchen and in at the window, or they would pry open the door of the bedroom with a knife. Then they would read it, with their heads together over the fire, and giggle and learn passages of it by heart, to recite later. As furious as June became, however, she never ceased keeping it, because she was lonesome and the little red book was her only comfort. Finally a place was found for it underneath the carpet of the back stairs and then she felt safe.

This was an emotion more sacred than God and the little Jesus. It must be concealed from everyone, even from herself; only when she was alone, out under the trees in the park with her face pressed to the grass and her body clutching the warm throbbing earth or when she was in her room at night with all the lights out⁠—only then, could she let the hurrying thoughts and desires swarm through her mind, leaving her body aching and trembling.


She had had attachments before, but in retrospect they seemed dully insipid. There was none of the early companionship which she had enjoyed with her mother. Mother Grace no longer called her a comfort. Instead she wondered what had “gotten into” her three eldest children. Relatives were strangers who were familiar with June and could take liberties with her and her emotions. She would have loved her brothers⁠—but they were ashamed of being fond of their sister, and would suffer no expression of love from her. They were cold and aloof to each other, except when drawn together in times of storm; the poverty-stricken tenement on the South Side, and the time Mother Grace became hysterical and broke everything in sight⁠—these colossal things made them run together and clutch each other. They had each other and everything else in the world was terrible and mysterious. For brief hours they showed their love and were not ashamed.

June had loved Georgie Spielberger because when Mary Milady punished her for getting wet in a storm, he sympathized with her and consoled her. She had loved Adam Sunquist although he had protruding teeth, because he had said that she could go in swimming with the crowd if she wished, even if they did go in naked. June was six and he was eight, and although his freckles and his teeth prevented him from being just the one she would have chosen for her lover, she was grateful for his attentions. Feminine delicacy interfered on this occasion, so they took a “hitch” on the back of the mail-carrier’s wagon and rode up the mountain to get apricots. But June ate so many of them that she became ill and from that time on hated the apricots and the boy who led her to them.

Then there was a fair-haired boy who sat two seats behind her in Miss Davis’ room at school. In a fit of boredom on a hot day, she sent him a shy little note⁠—“I love you.” The reply was not at all gallant. Pursued, he fled. His note read, “Well, I hate you. You think that you’re the smartest in the room.” June replied, “I hate you, too.” That was all. But at the close of school when they had sung “Now the day is over,” and Miss Davis asked all those who had not whispered during the day to rise, and June rose and he rose, a tragedy occurred. The little telltale across the aisle raised her hand and said, “Miss Davis, June and Roy have been passing notes.” And they had to stay in after school, both of them. The teacher was very anxious to hear what the notes contained, but June would not tell, nor he. She stood at the teacher’s desk and wept and the boy stood sullen and obstinate. They would not tell her although she kept them for two hours.

In spite of the fact that the boy carried June’s books home from school and told her that he did not mean what he said in his note, she hated him forever after.

When she was twelve, she loved Jim Pickering because he also paid attention to her when no one else did. Jim was a man; he was eighteen and worked on a ten-twenty-thirty cent stage as a hypnotist and wrote poetry. All the girls on the block were crazy about him. His attentions appealed to June’s sense of vanity. Mr. Henreddy, in one of his recurrent moods of superiority, would not let his daughter play with the girls of the neighborhood nor join in their good times⁠—Mother Grace assisting him in carrying out his idea of exclusiveness⁠—and June envied them and tried to get even with them by inciting their jealousy. Every evening she sat on the front porch and listened to Jim’s poetry. Then one day Mother Grace accused her, laughing lightly, of having a “case” on him which shamed and disgusted June so that she fled whenever he was around.


But she had never before been troubled by thoughts of a man’s arms and lips. Her mind had never seemed to be connected with her body and it was strange and wonderful that a thought, a glance, could make a little shiver of delight run through her.

The day June fell in love, Mother Grace was in the hospital. June had just received word from Mr. Henreddy that she had a little brother and that he hoped she was glad. She was glad, but not in the way he thought. Tension was relieved; a subject was no longer avoided in the house; Mother Grace would no longer look out of haunted eyes, and now she could wear some sensible clothes again instead of loose, unheard-of garments. And she wouldn’t walk around the house any more at night like a silent, dusky ghost.

The baby⁠—June couldn’t realize. She hadn’t seen him yet. And she had other things to think of. Something had just happened to her and she was not yet sure what it was. From all the novels she had read, she suspected that she had fallen in love. She had fallen in love at first sight even. It was a remarkable thing, a joyous thing, and in a peculiar way, she was happy. She was happy but she wanted to cry. And she was sure that she didn’t want to cry because of this new feeling, but because “Miserere” was being played on a hurdy-gurdy down the street. She always wanted to cry when she heard it.

It had happened at two o’clock in the afternoon. June was sitting on the porch crocheting some wash rags for the family.

Half an hour before, she had found a four leaf clover⁠—the first that she had ever seen. She was thrilled in a curious way by it. With the sweet superstition of adolescence, she felt that something was going to happen to her, and that something was not connected in any way with the new baby.

The afternoon sun was filtering through the trees and the pavements were hot. There were some lilac bushes in the next yard and the fresh sweet smell swirled around her like a host of silent bees. She was stung with beauty.

Suddenly she heard steps on the porch next door. She glanced up casually to find a pair of keen blue eyes looking at her. The house had been empty for a long while, and June knew that someone had moved in from down the street. This was the first she had seen of the new family. She had heard a baby crying, heard a woman’s voice sighing once in a while, “Oh Gawd” or “Oh that brat,” from the room which faced the Henreddy dining-room and opened on an air shaft and she heard a violin whining and exulting now and then, late in the afternoon.

This man who caused such a shudder to shoot through her was Mr. Armand, as she found out afterward, who played in the symphony orchestra. Neighbors on the other side of the street knew him and his family because they had lived there for fifteen years. His wife had sung as a soloist before he married her, they said. He had fallen in love with her three summers before. She didn’t ever sing anymore. All she did was wheel the baby up and down the street and sew some tiny garments which were far too small for the child which she held in her arms. Mother Grace had seen her and said succinctly, “Another coming? Oh Lord, three small children in two adjoining houses!”

The man stood there for a long moment, fumbling for a key and piercing June with his sharp eyes. His hair was cropped short and brushed straight off his forehead which was high on each side of his temples. His nose was long and sharp and his chin was square with a deep dimple in it and he kept it in the air as though he were laughing contemptuously at the whole world. He was well groomed and he held his shoulders haughtily, and June noticed afterward that he swaggered as he walked.

She liked the interested look in his eyes; there was something personal about it that made her feel grown up. She felt her face flushing but she couldn’t turn away till he found the key and entered the house. Then she looked at her hands which were trembling in her lap and which had turned cold although she felt hot all over.

June got up quickly and went into the house for her hat, throwing her crocheting on the dining-room table.

“Where you going?” Adele asked. She was dusting the books on the open shelves and she looked worn and tired. “Let me come too, please, June,” and although her sister didn’t answer her, she flung the duster behind the door and came with her, hatless and with a smudge on her cheek.

“I hate that house,” she said. “And I hate Mrs. Cummins.” Mrs. Cummins was temporary housekeeper during their mother’s absence. “And I hate to dust and wash dishes. I hate the new baby too. It only means that we’ll be tied down all afternoon so that we can’t run away together for picnics as we used to. We’ll always have him whimpering around. Do you remember how all day long the Weiss girls had to take care of their baby brother?

“And mother’ll be more cranky and particular about things and there’ll be more work around the house with a kid. Oh, damn!” She bit her lips to keep from crying.

“Well,” she said at last with a resignation which seemed very sweet to June⁠—“well, there’s one comfort. You and I’ll get noble, just like Beulah, wheeling a carriage up and down the street and walking the floor with him and taking care of him while he’s sick. Do you mind awfully having this baby come?”

“No!” June snapped at her, more from the intensity of emotion than from actual ill-temper. “That’s just one little worry.”

“What’s the matter then?”

“Everything.” And June began to run wildly through the short grass till she was completely out of breath and Adele gasped as she caught up.

Arriving at the lake front, they clambered out on the breakwater which jutted like a pointed finger in the deadly calm water. Far out, on the very end, they sat among the rocks and listened to the water sobbing softly around the rotten wood. In a tiny patch of dirt which had settled there, a dandelion was growing, smiling up at the sky lonesomely. Its gay color stabbed the air. Every once in a while, a little wave leaped and sparkled with another splash of color which greeted the flower. A breeze sprang up as the sun settled on the skyline, and stirred the wisps of hair around their hot faces. It was like a caress and June thought of Mr. Armand’s long fingers.

“Why don’t you say something?” Adele burst in on her thoughts. “You haven’t spoken to me for days, and you’ve got that silent look I don’t like. What are you thinking about?”

“I was thinking of the hate we have inside of us,” June lied. “You hate everything and so do I. I hate the springtime. It’s so restless and uncomfortable. You never want to do what you ought to be doing. You can’t sit still and read and if you have to dust a room or wash dishes you have an awful ache in your heart. I tell you I hate it.”

But really June didn’t hate it. She loved to be bitten by fierce emotion. This steady restlessness had suddenly become a torment but she would not have given it up now that she knew what it was.

They sat there for a long time, Adele pulling out a tattered copy of Jane Eyre from the blouse of her dress and devouring it with an absorbed expression on her lean little face.

June stretched out on the rocks and let the wind kiss her lips and listened to the gurgling of the water around.

It was twilight when they reached home.

June discovered before the week was over that Mr. Armand, during the spring and summer months, led band concerts in the park a block away from her home. All through the summer the year before, she used to lie in bed and thrill at the little wisps of melody that floated in on the fragrant night. Often she begged her mother to let her go. There was little enough melody in their regular and placid lives. Her existence for the last six years had been so calm and restrained that now some little thing like a strain of music, the glance of a man’s eye as he passed and the scent of a summer night aroused her strangely. There were no adventures to make her realize that life was joyful. When Adele and June were younger and their parents had been engrossed in making ends meet, there had been opportunities to run away and mingle with the crowds of children in playgrounds and play in the dirty streets with strange little girls and tell them wild, imaginative tales. Even the boys that June used to play with who now came to the house were distant and different. It was a humdrum life of lonesomeness and she was fifteen.

Adele and June made up their minds that while Mother was in the hospital and Mr. Henreddy was working nights they would take advantage of the freedom and go to the concert. Adele was by nature more cautious and conscientious than June but she longed so to get away from the house that she was easily persuaded to do what she considered a wicked and thrilling thing.

“Suppose the boys tell?” she whispered.

“I know they won’t.” June was very confident of that. “I’ve got something on both of them, and they don’t dare. You didn’t know and you mustn’t tell, but Dan broke a window on the next block and got arrested for it. He made me promise not to tell, but I will if he starts snitching on us. And Dave is fighting⁠—real prize fights⁠—in the back room of the Emery Street saloon. Mother doesn’t know that either. One day he broke a thumb. I promised I wouldn’t tell her, so they won’t dare tell anything that we do.”

It had showered that afternoon, and all the park was cool and moist. People were hurrying to the concert to get seats. A slight breeze stirred the women’s clothes and wafted faint perfumes to June as the children passed them. Every now and then a little toad hopped across the path.

“Everything smells so good!” and Adele sniffed ecstatically.

They arrived at the concert ground early and found seats in the second row of the benches where they faced the bandmaster and could watch his every movement. They waited and waited. There was a continual babble of voices, but Adele and June were silent.

Then Mr. Armand strode through the crowd, and there was a ripple of applause as he came which swelled and swelled. He was tall and lithe. June noticed again with a thrill the aggressive way he carried his shoulders.

Adele nudged her sister as he passed. “He lives next door to us now,” she whispered. “I’ve seen him pass a couple of times. He knows father because he always speaks to him.”

June kicked her under the bench to make her keep quiet. She was irritated that Adele should break the sensuous stillness that enveloped her and she was angry and jealous that her sister should have seen him more often than she. And it was then too, that he passed her seat, which was on the outside by the aisle, and his hand brushed hers. The contact made her catch her breath and an agreeable quiver came to her heart.

For the rest of the evening June gazed at him with an intensity which he must have felt, she reasoned, because every now and then he’d look her way and smile. And all the while the spell grew and grew.


A week later, Mother Grace came home from the hospital with a tiny atom in her arms which she put in a clothes basket on the floor. The family bulldog smelled at it for an instant and woofed joyously. The tip of his tongue stood out as though he would like to give it a mighty and slobbery kiss that would engulf it. But he looked at Mother and slunk away.

Mother seemed tired. She showed no pride in her new possession. All day long she sat at the window with her brows puckered. Although Mr. Henreddy wanted her to go to bed, she stubbornly refused.

A feeling of awe swept over June every time she looked at her mother. Once in a great while when she managed to play with any of the children in the neighborhood, she had caught fragments of conversation which recalled Sadie Spielberger and her revelations. Also, in the tenement on Twenty-second Street, Mrs. Cleary had had a baby and June remembered how she had hidden her head under the covers and strangled the sobs in her throat as sounds came down the airshaft.

June wanted to question Mother Grace about it, but it took more courage than she possessed. It was only when the library grew dusky and the baby, whom father called “Glubb” was being nursed preparatory for bed that she could ask her⁠—“Mother Grace, did it hurt?” and clutch her hand.

“Who’s been saying things to you, or what have you been reading?” Her tone was brusque. “It was nothing much. Wore me out somewhat. Have you got the dishes washed?”

The children had never known what it was to have Mother sick before, so her irritability, added to increased household duties made their lives seem dark. Adele and June used to cry in bed at night. June’s only relief during that long hard summer were the moments when her blood ran fire at Mr. Armand’s glance.

She saw him three times a day regularly. At ten in the morning he left the house; at three in the afternoon he returned; at quarter of eight in the evening he left again for the concert.

All day she thought of him, and she found herself unconsciously imitating his walk, and when she caught herself at it, she felt a hot wave spread over her. Mother Grace used to say he swaggered and June would agree indifferently, although she became acutely self-conscious at the sound of his name. And because the neighbors talked about him behind his back, Mother Grace called him worthless too and said that he went around with other women. June didn’t blame him when she knew his wife.

She was a tall woman⁠—though he was taller⁠—and her hair was shot with grey. The baby was two years old, and once when June and Adele were walking and wheeling Glubb and she passed, she turned to June and said, “Gawd, these brats make me tired.”

In June’s heart she agreed with her, because she was hot and tired and unhappy. But she condemned her for saying what she did because she was his wife. She condemned her big floppy hat too, and her clothes were what Mother Grace called “in bad taste.”


On some golden afternoons June saw Mr. Armand oftener. In the afternoon when he returned, sometimes he took the baby to the park with him and sauntered down the steps and past with his pugnacious chin in the air; and June would look at him defiantly, angry with him for the feelings he evoked, yet loving him all the while.

On the days that he did not send her that sympathetic and exciting glance, she was miserable and sad and when she was alone at night, wallowed in melancholy.

Being at the Tennysonian age, the lines kept coming to her, increasing her mood⁠—

“Dear as remembered kisses after death
Or sweet as those by hopeless fancy feigned
On lips that are for others⁠—
Deep as love, deep as first love,
And wild with all regret⁠ ⁠…”

One violet evening his baby was ill. From June’s dusky seat on the porch she could see him pacing up and down the path in front of the house. Every now and then when the baby began to moan, he bent his head and a soft murmur reached her.

It was only occasionally that he played the violin at home and because of this, she had a queer feeling that what he played was for her. Sometimes for a breathless hour or so, she could hear wild, quivering notes that ate her heart out.

He must have seen the worship in her eyes, but she did not mind. She wanted him to know, though she concealed from everyone else how she adored him. She never imagined herself speaking to him, holding a casual, conventional conversation before the house about the babies, the weather or the last concert. But adventures crowded into her mind; his baby toddling out into the street, an automobile swiftly upon it, and June rushing out to save it just in time, but at the cost of her own life. Of course this didn’t happen while Mr. Armand was away. It happened when he could only rush forward, too late to save his child⁠—that June had already done⁠—but in time to hold her in his arms while she died.

There was also the adventure of his wife disappearing with another man and the baby falling ill and June being called in to nurse it back to health and thereby gaining Mr. Armand’s love.

When she realized her thoughts, the absurdity of them rushed over her so that she blushed with shame. Such situations were crude and melodramatic.

The summer faded away; autumn came and with it long walks, sweet-smelling days in the park with Glubb. There were fires from faded leaves on every street and the delicate spirals of smoke were a melancholy incense. The sweet clover in the fields down by the lake where June walked made the air heavy. The soft waves whispered at the breakwater all the day long.

But with the late autumn, school came again and band concerts ceased and she no longer saw Mr. Armand. The sky was muddy, there was no brightness in it. Music had fled with all the little breezes that aroused the soft emotions in her heart.

Long hours of study, the constant struggle in the family, housework and the baby occupied her time and her imagination. There was no more romance.

III

It was a gloomy Sunday. The Henreddy family had just finished dinner and Sunday dinner was a dark spot in the uniformly grey week. Mr. Henreddy must hate his children, June often thought. As long as she could remember, the only time they ever sat at the table with him was on Sunday at the midday meal. Even when the boys had started to work nights as telegraphers, getting up at ten when he also arose, he would not eat breakfast with them but insisted that Mother Grace serve his meals separately. He wished, twenty meals a week, to eat with Mother Grace alone. If he wanted to read in the parlor, he sent his sons and daughters into the dining-room, although they were no longer prattling children. It didn’t matter if the dining-room fire was out and the room cold and draughty. They had to allow him “to read in peace.”

Sunday noon, however, he insisted on a family meal. No engagement was important enough to keep anyone away. It was a solemn institution in the family life.

None spoke; all ate in gloomy silence. They could hear each other swallow and the strain to eat quietly was so great that by the time the dessert was brought on, appetites had fled.

June used to sit and look at her father eating in this curious, abject way and feel sorry for him. Did he feel as shy and embarrassed and miserable as they did? She was sure of it, and her self-consciousness and resultant anger relaxed and she gulped less. At moments like these she felt a curious sympathy for him. She suddenly realized that she and her father looked very much alike⁠—their eyes and the shape of their mouths. The same blood ran in their veins and probably the same feelings in their hearts.

All father wanted was mother, and here was a group of children sitting around the table, restrained and uncomfortable. Where did they all come from? They were his. Well, he had performed a family duty by dining with them on Sunday⁠ ⁠… His meals for a week hence would be with mother⁠ ⁠… Damn it! He always wanted to be alone with her, and here were five children come between them⁠ ⁠…

These, it seemed to June, must have been his thoughts.


Adele and June found it an unpleasant duty after dinner to wash the dishes. They could not sing while they worked as they usually did, because Mr. Henreddy would send Mother Grace out to silence them.

While Adele cleared the table, June piled the dishes in neat stacks in the kitchen. And sometimes they forgot to maintain their enforced silence and as soon as the doors were closed between the two rooms, they burst into soft song.

One hymn was June’s favorite:

“In that cou-untry⁠—
To which I jour-er-ny
My Redeemer, my Redeemer
Is its King.
There is no sorrow
Nor any si-ighing
Nor any tears there,
Nor any cry-y-ing.
I’m a pilgrim,
I’m a stra-anger,
I can tarry, I can tarry
But an hour.”

“Huh,” Adele said. “Feeling religious?”

“Is that a nice way to talk?”

“Just because you went to church this morning, you get holy!”

“Jesus, Lover of my soul,
Let me to Thy bosom fly⁠—”

“Hypercrite! Singing songs like that when you’re in love with a married man.” It seemed Adele had been reading her sister’s diary.

“You’re a liar,” June told her trembling.

“ ‘He who calleth his brother or sister a fool or a liar is in danger of hell fire.’ ” It was her turn.

“Now don’t you get holy. Besides you’re quoting wrong.”

“I’m not trying to be holy. You’re the one. You’re always pretending to mother that you’ve got religion. You’re always spouting the Bible to the boys and me. I don’t pretend to be religious the way you do.” All this with a self-righteous air, in spite of which June felt that she was right.


After that fervent summer, fall had come drearily. Lessons were dull and unprofitable, and although for a time the Virgil class was made interesting by a boy in the next row whose Irish eyes were blue-lidded and strangely appealing, that charm faded soon. For he came to school one day with his hair cut too short and the visible scalp offset the appeal of his eyelids.

There were no teachers offering opportunities for distant worship and, at first, no girl in the class sufficiently attractive to write notes to.

Then a new boy appeared in the choir of the little church and offered a sufficient reason for being baptized and confirmed, taking communion and attending church regularly.

It was a fragile and ephemeral attachment, hardly enduring till Monday morning. But part of its charm lay in its contrast to the fervid emotions of the summer, and the boy’s ascetic and rather tubercular face gave to the music a sad charm.

June read the Bible with interest, but exaltation was obtained only through the sermons of Wesley and the little books of Jonathan Edwards and Thomas á Kempis. The Church of England prayer book had a quaintness and beauty about it. Diligent translation of a Greek New Testament, attractively dog-eared and ancient (one hundred and fifty years old) and picked up in a secondhand bookshop for ten cents, served, if not to increase her religious zeal, to gain for her a high mark in Greek for the term.


Then came Henrietta, June’s first intimate friend. Her sincere and wholesomely cheerful piety gave a vigor to religion which it had lacked before, and also provided reasons for scrubbing the bathroom, say, Wednesday instead of putting it off till Thursday; reasons for not slapping Adele; reasons for looking for happiness in life instead of rebelling against it.

Though it is true Henrietta’s attitude toward life was self-conscious and she dramatized her sins and her virtues, her emotions were far more healthy than those of June. Her mother and two older sisters shared her religious convictions. They went to church together, sang hymns together, visited hospitals, and strove to outdo each other in self-sacrifice to help needy neighbors and friends.

On the other hand, June’s family, although really no more self-centered than Henrietta’s, was entirely worldly.

On three occasions, to June’s remembrance and to her mother’s despair, Mr. Henreddy had brought home friends who needed help⁠—once a broken-down newspaper man, then an actor and his wife, and finally one poor wreck who had just served a few years in the penitentiary (for being a “promoter” June gathered) and kept them for visits of weeks at a time.

Mother Grace, in spite of occasional bitter asides to June that charity began at home and that she was tired of skimping and saving and going without things⁠—always kept her delightful air of pleased hostess.

Mr. Henreddy and Mother Grace had no Christ-like attitude about such things. One came across an old friend, or a friend of an old friend in distress, and it was a matter of course to help him out.

June had little consciousness either of these guests of her parents’ magnanimity. They ate their meals with Mr. Henreddy and Mother Grace and were away all day just as Mr. Henreddy was. They were looking for “openings.”

So naturally June’s religion took a morbid and secretive tinge. Because of it she was scoffed at by her brothers and Adele. Mother Grace had no sympathy with churchgoing, regarding it as an easy way of avoiding the elaborate preparation of the formal Sunday meal, and rather a disagreeable pose on the part of June. Of course it was a pose. June would admit it. But didn’t everyone have poses, and why was one more objectionable than another?

There was another aspect of her religion which June caught a glimpse of once after long and consecutive thought on the subject. She had been reading of early Christian saints and took note of the fact that most of them indulged in trances. Not that she put it that way. It was hours of meditation, fasting, prayer and vigil, on which emphasis was laid, not only in the lives of the saints, but in the exhortations of á Kempis, and Wesley. And it occurred to June that some English poet had tried to induce the same ecstasy, according to some essay she had read, by sitting on a hilltop and trying either to think of nothing or to concentrate on a bluebell (she could not remember which). But she did remember that the poet quoted Indian philosophers as inspiration to his endeavor. Further reading discovered to her sages sitting on the banks of streams, grass growing from their toes, baked and wedged and stiffened into a perpetual pose, by the sun, the wind and the rain.

(With no early knowledge of Indian philosophers, had not June and Adele tried to outdo each other in seeing who could pray the longest, and had not stubbornness and cramp given way to a drowsy pleasure and feeling of blessedness⁠—which was dispelled when they awoke hours later still and cold?)

It was after long ruminations to the above effect that June, startled, had a sudden thought, as she lay in bed one night.

“It’s all because we are too small to know how to be happy. Some people take whiskey to be happy⁠—father usually has the smell of it about him, and then there are Mother Grace’s highballs when she’s feeling low. It’s because they want to escape from reality. Religion, or whiskey, or dope⁠ ⁠…

“I suppose I’m always worrying about my unhappiness because I’m introspective.” (It was a new word to June and she liked it.) “To be happy you’ve got to be retrospective and quit worrying about your relation to things.

“Somehow, I believe that Fabre is happy.” With this sudden leap from the general to the specific, she fell asleep.

And then, with the coming of Henrietta, she forgot about her conclusions, and religion became more of a pose than ever.


That Sunday afternoon, by the time the dishes were washed and dried and put away, and Adele had brushed out the dining-room to equalize her share of the work with that of June who had the pots and pans to wash and dry, June was looking forward with pleasurable anticipation to her Sunday religious letter to Henrietta which the two girls had pledged themselves to write.

She had forgotten about Adele and her accusations and smooth sounding phrases were rolling in the mind when Adele burst out.

“I don’t care, I want some fudge! Mother Grace always makes the Sunday desserts for father, regardless of what we like, so I don’t see why we can’t make fudge.”

“If we ask her, she’ll just say no. She can’t say yes in front of father. He’d just begin to talk about pampering.”

June finished the last pan and stood considering. Fudge was extremely desirable that stormy afternoon.

“There’s two doors in between the kitchen and the library, so I don’t see how she can smell it,” she declared. “Let’s make it anyway!”

With great daring, they started to make the candy, extravagantly using two cups of sugar. This was one of the periods of skimp and save in the Henreddy household. After it had boiled for a few minutes, and the smell began to permeate the house and fill the girls with apprehension, Mother Grace came out, clad in the loose, yet tidy negligee which she affected around the house, and asked them coldly what they were doing. She seemed, on Sundays and the mornings Mr. Henreddy was home, infected by his formal attitude towards his offspring; or perhaps she was afraid of incurring his wrath against her and them, by her usual show of affection. (For instance, if she drew Dan’s bath for him in the morning, she was accused of spoiling her son, and Dan, in turn, was accused of being spoiled and selfish).

“Making fudge,” June answered her, rather brazenly, considering her usual Sunday piety. “We didn’t like the dessert we had for dinner anyway, and we wanted something sweet.”

Mother Grace surveyed them with the stony look of displeasure in her eyes which the girls detested. “You can stop making that candy right now and go upstairs to your room.” And with that she sailed away, leaving a faint odor of lavender and violets behind her.

Adele and June looked at each other blankly. Whenever things went smoothly in the house they were inclined to quarrel. But whenever Mother Grace leagued herself against them on the side of Mr. Henreddy they immediately were drawn together.

As soon as she left the room, they took as much of the soft candy as they could carry on a plate and went upstairs.

The grate fire was burning downstairs, and it was warm and cozy there. The bedroom was cold and there was nothing to read but the Bible. The soft candy would have been good and comforting if Mother Grace had allowed them to finish it. June’s writing materials were in the room, however, and her diary in which she had continued to write all winter.

Curling up in her bathrobe by the window, she began her letter to Henrietta. Adele took the Bible and the plate of fudge and crouched against the pillows on the bed.

“We went to the amusement park Friday after school,” the letter began, “and Adele and I went on every ride. We each had fifty cents and it was with regret that I saw the money go. It seemed a shameless waste, but then I realized that there was more for God’s children and it will come to them when they need it. ‘Be careful for nothing.’ ‘Take no thought for the morrow.’ So I just spent it with the others and enjoyed myself very much. Today Dan gave me fifty cents to go downtown with. I shall go to the library and the secondhand bookstore, some day next week after school.

“Yesterday afternoon I rode home on the lake boat from downtown and afterwards had to take the baby to the park. Glubb was sweet and good and the sky was dark, deep blue, all flecked with purplish clouds. The trees were rustling and the sun flickered on my book. I was happy, but not in the right way. I did not have the spiritual happiness that I crave, only a wicked thrilly feeling at my heart⁠ ⁠…

“But I couldn’t give way to my sinful thoughts because Glubb yelled for candy, soda, sandwich, and to see the animals and my thoughts were taken away from myself. It’s a good thing. Such a foolish unhappiness and such foolish pining. I forgot all about ‘Bog’s silent messengers, the winged thoughts of love,’ and just wanted to think of my troubles. How weak I am! My pride forbids me to write this and to put it down on paper makes me blush, but all the old love comes back to me. It is a lust of the flesh and I know that unless I forsake all sin, I will not gain the kingdom of heaven.”

(June had confessed her summer passion to her friend and was the recipient of similar confidences.)

“Adele and I have been following an exciting serial in the movies and father usually lets us go on Sunday afternoon, but not any other time during the week. My ideas have changed about Sunday. I have learned that it is rather hypocritical to be so strict on the Sabbath and not on every other day. Every day belongs to God and every day we are to serve him, doing his pleasure. And as ‘every good thing is prepared for them that love God’ and my moving pictures are a good thing, if you stop to think of the educational advantages of them, therefore I can see no wrong in going to the show and pleasing Adele (for she cannot go alone) and incidentally myself.

“This afternoon it took two hours to do the dishes and now that they’re done I suppose I’ll have to take the baby for a long walk in the park. How I love the park in winter! So solitary and awful in the truest meaning of the word. God is there. Of course He is everywhere, but under the trees and looking over the wide expanse of lake, He communicates himself to me and fills me with a deep quiet peace. I need those hours alone in the afternoon with Glubb, and I feel as though the troubles of life are lifted until I return to the house and it comes back to me.

“Maybe if I stayed out more and kept away from the books I am reading this restlessness would pass. Last night I sat up late over Dostoevsky and today my soul is like lead. During the last few weeks I’ve read all of Ibsen but he doesn’t make me sad. His plays are less depressing and the unhappiness that comes afterward is nothing more than a pleasant melancholy.

“I am sitting in my bedroom in my comfortable chair by the window. The wind is cold and seeps in through the glass so that I have to wrap my bathrobe about me while I write. I should be reading my Bible because it is Sunday afternoon, but I don’t want to. I’d rather write. I’m still in Acts. I never went over it so thoroughly before and now I find much more in it. Isn’t it queer how the same verse will strike you at different times? ‘We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.’ How true that is! Only after a hard, bitter struggle with sin and only after we have overcome it, do we experience blessed joy and peace. The tears come to my eyes when I think how often I have gone through the bitter struggles and then succumbed to some small sin while peace was in sight. And after I fell, how far away it fled. Poor weak creatures we are, yet God is our Father and God is love, ever-present, ready to enfold us and comfort us and hold us up.”

June paused here having reached a climax of righteousness and looked at Adele apprehensively. She didn’t care to have her sister read over her shoulder or jump suddenly and snatch what she had been writing as she sometimes did. Gripping the paper tightly, June went on.

“I have so much work to do to overcome my sins. I am working always⁠—always on guard, praying without ceasing to overcome all physical sensations and be purely spiritual.

“It is wrong to think so much about human love. All those feeling and craving that come to us are sexual desires. We are prone to have them at this age, I suppose. But I think that they are impure. It is sensual and God is spiritual. We must harden ourselves to these feelings, for God is love and God is all, so the only love is of God and is spiritual without taint of earthliness. I am afraid I have never really experienced this love or I would never desire the sensual love or the thrill that comes with the meeting of lips.

“I know it seems foolish to try to be so Christ-like⁠—but God says we can⁠—why else His command, ‘Be ye therefore perfect.’

“Oh, it surely is a continual strife and my spirit is weary.”


Finger cramp at this point put a check to the enthusiasm of self-expression, and June paused to survey a line of roofs whose dirty covering of snow was being replaced by a blue-white layer of fresh flakes, sifting slowly from a soft sky which hung low over the houses.

As she watched the scene, a desolate one and lifeless, as it seems the backs of houses always are on Sunday afternoons⁠—lifeless save for the animation of the falling snow, June reflected how dingy is the backyard aspect of things. Dimly, for she wasn’t able to reason about all her feelings as she had tried to do in figuring out the need for religion, she felt that her attitude in the letter to Henrietta was a backyard and dingy attitude, strangely lacking in beauty.

She could not have put it in words, but she realized that the conviction of sin which is so vital a part of religious feeling was ignoble, and that it was wicked to spend an hour on one’s knees in contemplation and repentance of one moment’s ecstacies which had to the girl’s budding womanhood the aesthetic value of a symphony or a beautiful poem.2

What June could have put in words and what she did think was that it was really better for the soul to bask in the sun on a warm spring day, or walk in a snowy park when the twilight made deep blue shadows behind the trees, or to read beautiful poetry than to go to church.

And when she thought of poetry she thought of Swinburne’s Tristram which she had been reading and which was hidden back of the bookcase for safe keeping.

With the thought she picked up her diary and defiantly wrote:

“I should like to lie on the grass in the woods with a lover all night just like Tristram and Iseult. And I expect Adele feels the same way, so if she snoops for my diary and reads this, I don’t care. And I know she was in love all last summer, just as I was, otherwise why did she suddenly stop writing a diary after keeping one for two years, and then start again in the fall, unless she was afraid I’d find out about it?”

This protest against suppressions, suppressions which led only to an increase in her desire for beauty and excitement, satisfied her far more than her previous attempt at self-expression.

And so content both with the plate of fudge which she and Adele had consumed and with the temporary solution of her problems, she jumped up briskly.

“Come on, Adele,” she said, “I’m sick and tired of religion. I promise not to lecture you anymore, nor make you go to Wednesday night prayer-meetings. I’m going to the movies down the street and we’ve got to climb out the window over the shed. I begged the money from Dave. Mother’d have a fit rather than let us go. Glubb is so cranky today she’ll want us to take care of him when he wakes up from his nap. Wanna come?”

Adele hesitated a moment. Then she came over and hugged June tightly. “I’m glad you’re through with it. If you really meant it, it would have been all right, but you were playing a game and it made me so mad, we could only fight. Come on, let’s go. What do we care if we get a scolding when we get back?”

IV

After the loneliness which preceded her early love affair, and love affair June still thought it, and after her strife with things religious, she attained a state of happy melancholy. Life was unexciting, it is true. Henrietta passed out of it to attend business college, and so far, June’s friendships had not been serious enough for her to go out of her way either to make new ones or continue old ones which had been interrupted. There was a feeling of dependence, more household duties on account of Mother Grace’s ill health, the distaste for which was a large extent mitigated by the intensity they imparted to everyday pleasures.

There were the early morning hours which gradually became pleasant through their very hardship. Glubb, that little imp with the dimple in one cheek, and a devil in his eye, felt that since he was always put to bed just when the clatter of the supper dishes reminded him of how much fun it was to play with the pans and potatoes and apples (it was easier to bite the potatoes which were pleasantly gritty⁠—his teeth slid on the apples) and took his revenge by awakening before the birds. And in winter this was very early. For a while he would lie there, content to make earthquake changes in the mountains and valleys of his bedclothes. Toes were fascinating if he could extricate them from the jungle and there were mouth noises to make at the flicker of the street lamp on the ceiling and the corner brass knob on his crib. Steadfast gaze at the knob reminded him that here was another noise, and in making his way down the crib in pursuit of his object, there was always the discovery, new every morning it would seem from the surprised way he stopped, of a singsong creaking of the spring. For a moment there were a few little songs to make by jumping up and down, songs interspersed with delicious chuckles and crowings⁠—it was easy to chuckle but it was harder to crow. You had to stop, throw back your chin, clench your fists, draw in a deep breath and hold it back in your throat to gurgle with. Quite a strain on the chest, but a great accomplishment. The creaking of the spring was only temporarily satisfying, however. With a last dash to attain his original object, Glubb reached the loose post with the brass knob.

Here was real bliss, to be enjoyed only for a moment. So instead of beginning softly and leading up to a climax of banging, as he could do in the daytime when put in his crib for safekeeping, Glubb put aside artistic finish and threw into his work all the energy he could.

As always happened, the girl in the bed sighed, stirred, turned over, and before she could put her warm feet out into the cold, there was time for another loud rattle of the bedpost. It was a lovely clamor.

As always, the girl lifted him up, in spite of protesting legs kept in the sitting posture, flattened him out, tucking firmly the while to keep him in that position, and to forestall the usual whimper, gave him a rubber thing to play with. Rubber toys offended his aesthetic taste in daylight hours, but they were comforting to feel and chew on when the gloom of dawn hid their ugliness.

Well, he could get even with the girl in the bed at any time by lifting his voice in a howl, and the crib was warm. He might as well be good a little longer, especially since it was chilly downstairs and June fussed over him before she gave him the bottle of warm milk.

He remembered it was time for the outside noises to begin and began summoning them with peeps in different degrees of loudness. He could imitate the birds but not the noise of the milk wagon. That rattle over the cobbles of the alley, the clink of footsteps, punctuated by a metallic sound of depositing bottles, gradually coming nearer, and humanly interspersed with calls of the milkman to his horse⁠—these noises were hailed with delight by Glubb. The answering peep of birds outside was as nothing, and after so intense a joy, it was too insufferably dull to remain an instant longer in bed. When there were possibilities in life for such noise and stir, how impossible to remain tucked in!

Glubb never could understand why his loudest clatter during the day among pantry pans made so little racket in the scheme of things. It was seldom rewarded even by a reprimand from his mother. He had yet to learn the value of contrast.

With the noise of the milkman dying out, the diminuendo not nearly so enjoyable as the crescendo, protests began.

There was a first quavering cry. Glubb knew how pathetic it was, knew its sufficiency. There was a more determined hopping out of bed from the other side of the room and June was awake.

The transition from the languorous drowsiness of the bed, where she too under Glubb’s tutelage was beginning to enjoy the first sounds of the day, to the chill in a large house where the fires are low, was equally hard every winter morning.

Every morning when she peered at the alarm clock by the light of the street lamp⁠—no dawn yet⁠—it was four o’clock. Catching her clothes under one arm, Glubb under the other, she made her way down the stairs. And if by any chance she could see from the turning a tiny gleam of the grate fire, she felt an anticipatory warmth steal over her. She always banked it carefully the night before, but the draught was too strong. Most often she found only black coals which were still too hot to touch.

But once out of bed and her duties under way, it was an easy matter to start the blaze again⁠—to tip out the ashes, scoop them up, lay the crumpled balls of paper, then wood, cinders and soft coal. That done, a match applied and the blower adjusted, the cheerful roar began immediately. It was another noise that Glubb enjoyed.

To heat his milk and leave him ensconced in warm dryness, while she made coffee and found some breakfast for herself⁠—these things took but little time. She was left free to snuggle her own toes against the fire and over a history or Latin book to sip her coffee. June often thought that these early morning breakfasts with Glubb were the most tasty she had ever eaten.

Glubb was quite willing to play in the morning and leave her to her Virgil and Xenophon. And when it was time to call Adele for school and the boys, who had turned to working in the daytime, Glubb had fallen to sleep and her lessons were done.

The consciousness of virtue, the result of work well done, always carried her through the preparation for breakfast, a task which up to the arrival of Glubb had been despised and slightingly accomplished.

Now it was more carefully prepared and although perhaps Dave and Dan took no notice, June herself appreciated the improvement⁠—the smooth linen and a little pot of fern placed in the center of the table. On it, the boiled eggs, sliced oranges and toast made an attractive color scheme.

In retrospection, the school day beginning at nine and ending at two-thirty, passed quickly if the lessons were well prepared⁠—slowly if they were not. No period stood out, save the lunch period or two study periods when June could read and chew unobtrusively on a piece of candy which was not too scrunchy, yet lasted a long time. It occasionally surprised her when she realized how little she knew of her school fellows who sat together at lunch and giggled and gossiped, or passed notes during other periods. But books, usually romances, continued to absorb her and to play more vital a part in her life than the talk of the boys and girls around her.

Then duties began again at three when she arrived home an hour earlier than Adele, who was still in grammar school. Mother Grace was glad to be relieved of Glubb. Six hours of his alternating exuberance and complainings were a strain on her nerves and two hours were always needed for her recovery. So on clear days there were long walks in the park or an exploration of side and back streets; or if it were too cold and stormy a short brisk walk. Then with red noses and cold hands, in before the fire to make chocolate with melted marshmallows on top⁠—a treat which made Adele and June spend the afternoon in pleasant intercourse. All that remained of the day was supper which Adele helped prepare while June put Glubb to bed; and dishwashing⁠—Adele assisted even though she did make beds and run errands after school. Dishwashing was nice on winter nights because the hot water with the opalescent tints was so comfortable to cold hands.

Best of all were the long evenings curled up on the sofa while the hands of the clock neared twelve, reading Poe, or Stevenson or Rider Haggard, any author whose imagination carried her on strange adventures; and then the hurried going to bed, up the stairs through the library, peering down into the room she had just left where things haunted the corners and the fire glowed quietly; the cold bedroom with its immense windows, rattling in the winter wind; the bed with the sheets so icy that she could never stretch out but had to curl up in a warm ball. So passed each day of her last winter at home.

V

Thanks to the fact that one had to pay only ten dollars matriculation fee and twelve dollars a semester, June was able to spend the next two years at the state university.

One of the boys she went with there told her one time after he had read some of the short stories she had written for her English class, “what you need is perspective, my dear.” And when June looked back on those two years in after life, it was always with what she thought of as perspective.

Of her studies, she remembered very little. She flunked in a course in biology because she skipped most of the classes and when her examination papers were set in front of her, the only thing she could remember was the definition of the word “sport.”

She took a bird course because it consisted of two trips a week through the fields and woods about the little town and because a boy she liked was taking it with her.

The thing which impressed her most in the course in American literature was the professor’s futile attempts to implant in the minds of his students the love for the poetic phrase. She could still hear that class of sixty, yelling in every pitch:

The desert and the illimitable air.

“Do you get the beauty and swing of that? Say it again!”

The desert and the illimitable air.

The most valuable bit of information she received in rhetoric 3a was the fact that if you pressed the length of your forefinger to your upper lip every time a sneeze threatened, the spasm would be averted.

June often had the occasion to do this in after years, and since it was always efficacious she sometimes wondered why people who were plagued with hay fever had never heard of it.

The Latin professor was always quoting a line which he said came from one of Dickens’ novels. June didn’t know which one for she hadn’t read them all. “When found, make a note of it!” Fifteen or twenty times a day, this remark would be the signal for notebooks and pencils. She liked the Latin class because her seat was next to the window which looked out over the south campus to the forest where the pines were blue black. Every now and then a meadowlark threw her into a trance out of which it was hard to awaken.

What stood out most clearly in her university life were the jobs she held in order to earn board and room and pocket-money.

At the home of one professor where June washed dishes for her lunch and supper, it was necessary to say grace before eating. The three children said it, the old grandmother said it, the professor said it, his wife said it, and June had to say it too. Its simplicity made it very hard to say.

“Be present at our table, Lord.
Be here and every where, Adored.
Bless Thou this food and grant that we
May feast in Paradise with Thee.”

There was the job of the four babies, all under five years of age, and when one of them went to sleep, another would awaken it by crying. (Their sex was hard to determine.) And when June went into another room looking for a dry diaper for this one, still another would take the opportunity to fall off the couch. At one time, all of them were howling together and then June had to gather them up in her arms which were long enough to go around, fortunately, and finding an upholstered rocking-chair big enough to swallow them all, sang them to sleep. It was smothering work.

Occasionally she had to scrub floors and beat rugs, and once she had to wash baby clothes and all the skin peeled off her knuckles. She swore over such work, but having accepted the job she could not turn it down when she found out what it was.

Working for the Y.W.C.A. was difficult. For a while June set the tables and changed the linen for one hundred and fifty students and in return received her board. For several months she washed dishes after the one hundred and fifty (with two girls to help her dry them) and realized how simple a thing it was to wash dishes for a family of six.

After that she moved her belongings into the home of a bootlegger to assist his wife in the care of the children and in return received board and room. June didn’t know she was working for a bootlegger and probably wouldn’t have minded. What forced her to leave was the evident amorous intention of her employer.

Then there was Mrs. Wittle who was expecting her second baby in July. She was “three months gone” as she explained to June. And every afternoon at four when June came in from her last class, Mrs. Wittle gave her some flannels or diapers to hem and told her how it felt to be a prospective mother.

“It’s so long since I had Edwin,” she told the girl, “that I’ve forgotten all about it and I’m absolutely terrified. And haven’t you always heard it was dangerous to have a baby at my age? I’m thirty-eight, you know.”

“Mother was forty when she had her last baby,” June comforted her, “and it didn’t bother her a bit. She told me it was nothing at all and women made entirely too much fuss about such things.”

“Some women have an easier time than others,” Mrs. Wittle said gloomily.

June found her in tears one afternoon over a book of Upton Sinclair’s. “Just listen to this, June,” she almost wailed, and between the snuffles read an elaborately detailed scene of the birth of a child.

“Now isn’t that horrible? I had forgotten it was as bad as all that. Oh, oh, oh!”

“I think it’s disgusting⁠—I mean for a man to write stuff like that. It would be different if it were a woman. I suppose he hung over his wife’s bed while she was having a baby, carefully observing in order to make copy of it.”

“He might have gone to a hospital,” Mrs. Wittle suggested, in the writer’s defense.

“But they don’t let young authors in the maternity wards of hospitals to watch the birth of children.”

“It is a rather disgusting idea, isn’t it,” Mrs. Wittle agreed, “a man watching his wife with scientific interest while she was in such agony. It’s humiliating enough to have to lie still and holler while you’re performing such an important piece of work.”

“It does take away some of the dignity of motherhood, I should think. When a woman has to lie still and protest at the top of her voice, it makes her seem such a passive instrument instead of an active one⁠—a child-bearer.”

“I’ve been thinking of it all afternoon,” and Mrs. Wittle almost began to weep again, “and I think it’s outrageous that women should have to suffer so. Here they’ve been bringing children into the world for thousands of years, and they’re doing it in the same prehistoric way⁠—a little chloroform maybe, but a lot of good that does! If it was men who had to bear children, you can bet doctors and scientists would find an easier way of doing it.”

“Yes, and they glorify it and put a halo around motherhood, I suppose, so that we’ll keep on doing it,” June put in, becoming ardently feminist. “It would be much better if it could be regulated. First the woman should have a baby, then the man. The discomfort would be more evenly divided that way.”

That night at supper the subject was rehashed, somewhat to June’s embarrassment, for Mrs. Wittle insisted on reading aloud the most gruesome bits of the story and commenting on them, every minute remembering more of her early agony. The cause of it sat very still in his chair, lest attention be called to him and he be sent out of the room. It was the custom of the Wittles to speak freely before Edwin, Mr. Wittle being something of a modern educationist, but occasionally in the midst of a most interesting discussion, Edwin found himself suddenly sent on an errand.

The next afternoon Mrs. Wittle remembered that in her distress she had forgotten to tell June about the rape which had occurred earlier in the book, and unable to convey all the excitement, turned to reading it aloud.

“For my part,” Mrs. Wittle said as she put the book down, “I don’t see why it didn’t happen long before. It seems to me the physical side of marriage is the most important one and how these two people lived together so long!⁠—why it’s contrary to human nature.”

“My instructor said that the American race were as a rule so reticent about sex that they laid too much stress on the frankness of French literature. That applies not only to the people who read, but to the people who write. When they are frank, they go to such extremes,” June said.

Not yet having read enough of Dr. Wittle’s library (he was professor of psychology) June could not give expression to her ideas as to suppressions. But Mrs. Wittle was not interested in generalities. She preferred debating whether or not rape was possible; cited cases in the newspapers, the opinions of her friends; told of things that had happened in her town when she was a girl; things that she had heard had happened in other towns.

She hated to have June leave her to prepare supper.

For a month breakfasts were embarrassing meals to June. At that time investigations were being made in the city into the activities of midwives and every morning the most lurid of the newspapers was delivered at the Wittle door.

After the editorial page had been torn out for Dr. Wittle, the rest of the paper was Mrs. Wittle’s in which to scavenge for news of salacious interest.

The most interesting bits were read aloud and were greeted with noncommittal grunts by Dr. Wittle who had his sheets propped up before him.

“What different ways are there for performing abortions? Have you ever heard, June? I must ask Mrs. Bigley when she comes over this afternoon.”

“Oh, here’s a sad case. Young girl, eighteen, consulted Dr. S⁠⸺ and told him that⁠—”

It wasn’t only from Mrs. Wittle that June was beginning to learn of sexual problems. Dr. Wittle’s library was an extensive one and contained not only some valuable works on psychology and education which June availed herself of, but also books on sexual pathology by Havelock Ellis, Forel, Krafft-Ebing, Brill and Freud. For the most part, she was repelled by what she read. She preferred her early glamorous idea of life and blotted out of her mind, as much as she could, the glimpse into the abnormal which her reading had given her.

Even though June didn’t remember what she learned in classes, she would always remember the instructors. There was one group especially which afforded her a great deal of delight. And once she and her roommate were invited to tea by Mr. Lord, their instructor in rhetoric that semester.

He was a very blonde, enthusiastic young man who tried to hide his enthusiasm by a drawl, rendered more effective by a Harvard accent (he had graduated from a western college). In the heat of discussion he almost lost his drawl and recovered it with a gasp, and as this was often, his discourses were punctuated with abrupt intakings of breath. He was one of a little group of English instructors who professed themselves modern and unfettered. It was rumored about the campus that indeed some of them were living together, perhaps Miss Hubbard and Mr. Lord, or maybe Miss Hubbard and Mr. Fenton. Nobody knew. Although there were other women in the group, everybody suspected Miss Hubbard because she read Oscar Wilde’s poetry aloud to her classes. An ephemeral flavor of sex hovered around her, and young men were drawn to her classes and held there.

What clinched the matter was the report that she had read those verses of Swinburne in which the lines occur

“Curled snakes that are fed from my breast
Bite hard lest remembrance come after
And press with new lips where you pressed.”

It was decided then once and for all that she was living with someone⁠—not exactly immoral, but unmoral, it is true. Lots of literary people were like that and it was understood she was writing a book.

So her angularity of form and feature was endowed with a decadent grace in the eyes of her students and the gasping blondness of Mr. Lord and the stentorian triteness of Mr. Fenton were disregarded in the awe they aroused as possible inspirers of passion.

There were a few other young men and women in the same group⁠—all instructors and all taking postgraduate courses, but these three stood out by their enthusiasm for things literary.

It was rumored about the campus that at a picnic given by this group, some students came upon them engaged in theatricals. Mr. Lord was said to have been clothed only in his B.V.D.’s and a tiger skin (Miss Hubbard had one on her library floor) and was declaiming George Bernard Shaw while his blond shock of hair waved over his face. This report served only to turn the students of English to Shaw.

Mr. Fenton had an apartment in one of the large new apartment houses which had been built overlooking the campus and in which the more wealthy students had furnished flats.

When the girls arrived, the tea-party was in full progress. Mr. Lord and Miss Hubbard were sitting side by side on a couch and leading the conversation.

“But how can one really know without a trial marriage?” Miss Hubbard was saying languidly, while her bright sharp eyes sparkled around the group. And perhaps there was no answer because of the general rustle, attendant on the arrival of June and her roommate Regina. Then when Miss Hubbard assured June that there was plenty of room on the couch and Mr. Fenton had placed another chair for Regina, Mr. Lord brought back the conversation to where it was when the girls entered.

“How can one really know,” repeated Miss Hubbard, full of the italics of earnestness.

“Know what?” Regina startled them all by asking.

But such a question could never be answered directly and Miss Hubbard went on, “The only true mating is a complete harmony of the spiritual, mental and physical⁠—and preferably in that order, my dear.”

“But surely that’s the usual order. We usually get acquainted with a man before we marry him,” Regina put in matter-of-factly.

“Not at all,” boomed Mr. Fenton. “Too many young things are attracted by mere physical passion.” A slight stir passed over the room. “They know little or nothing of their mate’s intellectual or spiritual life and care even less. In fact,” he went on in his best classroom manner, “it is by the sublimation of passion, or rather, the directing of it into higher channels that we arrive at the basis of an understanding.”

The ladies nodded in agreement. Somehow it was more fitting for a man to speak of passion than a woman.

“But how long should a trial marriage last before one can really know?” spoke up Miss Smythe, English 2b, sitting on the edge of her chair and twitching with interest.

This question, couched in her own italics, was a little too direct for Miss Hubbard, who went on, “I don’t know that I wouldn’t advise a rather full experience for women before marriage. How else can we get into direct contact with the intricate nature of man?”

Another little stir, this time masculine. Mr. Lord hawed rather loudly, settling himself more firmly between June and Miss Hubbard, and as the haw was understood to be the preface to a speech, everyone kept silent.

“And when you speak of full experience, I presume you are thinking of a single standard for men and women⁠—”

“Yes, yes! That women should be allowed the freedom from condemnation that man enjoys, since in having freedom, it is generally understood that they will exercise it with the moderation natural to their sensibilities.”

“But isn’t that presupposing”⁠—June unconsciously fell into the didactic tone of the others. “But isn’t that presupposing that the mental and spiritual can only be reached through the physical?”

“Or do you mean Platonic trial marriages?” Regina contributed.

“You have to take into consideration the nature of the man and woman involved,” Miss Hubbard said gently, as from a height.

“Then too,” Miss Smythe reminded them, “one must remember the emotional wave line of women which stands in contradistinction to the steady even flow of that of man. After all, one cannot ignore the physiological basis of existence. According to recent tests made by Dr. Peraugh,” then remembering that the explanation of the tests was couched in language perhaps not fit for the ears of undergraduates and mixed company, she paused.

“You mean those published in Eros?” Mr. Fenton helped her out.

“Quite so,” Miss Hubbard agreed. “And do you remember those in an earlier issue which proved that woman’s brain is fully equal to a man’s and quite as capable of grappling with problems of state. There can be no doubt therefore that Pompadour and du Barry swayed the rulers of France, not through physical charm, but through their mental and spiritual qualities.”

“But I can’t see that their physical qualities weren’t the basis,” June protested. “If du Barry hadn’t been beautiful she would have always been a milliner’s apprentice. As it was, she attracted men, and they were the ones who educated her till she passed out of their hands and became Louis XV’s mistress.”

“You are getting down to specific cases, my dear,” Miss Hubbard reminded her, but before she could raise the conversation to generalities again, Regina had pitched in.

“I liked du Barry,” she assured them. “She was so beautifully frank. When she discovered in her footman an old lover of hers, she honestly confessed in her memoirs to falling a victim to his charms and being faithless to the king and didn’t try to excuse herself. All she did was to admit she was a flighty creature and dismiss him from her service for fear she’d fall again.”

“You must remember that French literature,” said Mr. Lord, succeeding where Miss Hubbard had failed, “is not restricted in the sense that English literature is. This freedom is apt to lead us to lay undue emphasis on that frankness and our reticence.”

“But then there is always the implication,” Miss Smythe hastened to say, “of character in our sublimest moments. You must remember those lines of Henley⁠—

“ ‘Some starlit garden grey with dew
Some chamber flushed with wine and fire
What matters so that I and you
Are worthy of our desire.’ ”

“Ah! ‘Worthy’! That is the point,” said Miss Hubbard softly. “And those other lines⁠—

“Some moment that will magnify the universal soul,
And quicken and control.”

The usual pause that separates a quotation from the rest of the conversation fell and the guests began to deposit their empty cups and saucers on the center table and to brush the crumbs from their knees. And in the pause Regina jumped up.

“Lordy, an editorial conference at five, and we’re late,” she reminded June.

“You must come again,” Mr. Fenton assured them.

“Yes, it has been very interesting,” was all the girls could say and as they went out they could hear Miss Hubbard italicizing⁠—“ ‘Youth shows but half. See all. Be not afraid,’ ” and Mr. Lord’s “Quite so!”

“Do you suppose they hang over their teacups and worry about sex every afternoon?” June asked Regina as they were getting into bed that night to read history for an hour before going to sleep.

“I wonder why they don’t live a full life as Miss Hubbard called it. Then they wouldn’t spend so much time gabbling about it.”

“I don’t believe for one minute that she’s living with anybody, Regina. You know the rumors that go around the campus. This is the way it looks to me. Mr. Lord, probably, is urging her to take the fatal step and she feels she is in danger of doing it. That gives her a feeling of superiority over the other old maid instructors and she speaks with authority. But if she had taken it, she wouldn’t talk so much about it, or if she did talk, what she’d say would have made more sense.

“Do you know, I’d like to write a theme for Mr. Lord only it would get me in a mess⁠—”

“What sort of theme? Your brain is entirely too active, June.” Regina settled back, glad to postpone the history reading for a time.

“On those things they were talking about this afternoon.” June pondered deeply. “Well in the first place, you know by all sorts of ways whether you like a man physically or not. You can tell without living with him first, I should think. And you can tell whether a man keeps himself clean and what sort of table manners he has, so you get an idea of what breakfast with him would be like in the morning. That’s the physical side of it.

“On the other side, the mental and spiritual, all the men we know and talk to try to impress us with their mentality and they put their best mental clothes on for us just as a male bird displays all its beauty of coloring for the sake of the female. Not that they want to marry us. They just want our admiration, the same as we like theirs.”

“That disposes of trial marriages, in a superficial way,” Regina agreed.

“Unless a trial marriage lasted for several years,” June went on very seriously, “it wouldn’t do any good. For any shorter time, a man would feel that he’s on his good behavior and just show off all the time⁠—put his best foot first. Of course on a desert island the time could be shorter, but not in our present civilization when a man is away all day working and sometimes the woman, too.

“Then if you lived with one man for a year or so and got tired of him, physically and mentally⁠—and found he hadn’t any depths to discover, then I should think you’d lack the courage to change and take another mate for fear you’d tire again.

“Such a course would just lead to promiscuity, I should think, even though it deserves a more dignified name than promiscuity.”

“Promiscuity wouldn’t be so bad,” Regina said thoughtfully. “There’s Madame du Barry. Think of the education you’d get by living with one man after another. That is, if you have a receptive mind and pick out intelligent men.”

“But couldn’t you get it without the physical side entering in?” June protested, a little shocked.

“No,” Regina decided. “You’d get just the smattering of an education. If you want to make an intensive study, you’d have to live with the man who knew all you wanted to know. You see with women of brains, an intelligent man uses his mental charms rather than physical to captivate her.”

“Yes, and when the personal equation enters in, you learn much more than when you’re studying by yourself. I was slumping in history till you joined the class in January. Then I felt I had to go you one better, so I’ve been studying like mad ever since.”

“I want a thorough knowledge of biology,” Regina went on dreamily.

“But who would want to live with a man like Professor Hawkins”⁠—June interrupted her practically.

Regina made a wry face. “That’s the trouble. You’ve got to have a mental and physical combination and I suppose it’s rare. No, I couldn’t ever live with Professor Hawkins.”

“Even if we were immoral⁠—”

“No, unmoral,” Regina corrected.

“Either way. As long as you’re independent about it, you don’t care whether people call you the one or the other. Anyway, even if we were immoral we couldn’t⁠—we wouldn’t have any opportunity⁠—we probably wouldn’t even be asked if we did have the opportunity of knowing them⁠—to live with the men we wanted to; Anatole France, for instance, or Fritz Kreisler, or H. G. Wells. But think what we’d learn if we could!”

The girls sighed.

And there were the other conversations that would always be remembered. One morning Regina cut a class to interview Mrs. Rose Pastor Stokes who was lecturing at the university on socialism. The girls took turns getting stories for the school paper and the well known radical had fallen to Regina, much to her delight. She was still blazing with enthusiasm that afternoon at tea, and her eyes had red lights in them. Tomorrow she would talk with equal fire of Benvenuto Cellini but today radicalism, as expressed by Mrs. Stokes, flowed through her veins.

“What a wonder she is! Didn’t you think she was stunning, June? Tall and distinguished and just as poised!” (Poised was one of Regina’s favorite words at the time.)

“And she was so lovely to me. She said she had red hair the color of mine and that I reminded her of herself when she was a girl. That was a real compliment, I think. She told me how she worked in a factory on the East Side of New York when she was a girl and how she struggled for an education in the university settlement there. And this New York millionaire came along and married her. There’s romance for you. It’ll make a ripping story for tomorrow morning’s paper. I’ll write it after tea.”

Socialism as a creed did not appeal to Regina. Perhaps it was because on the only occasions she had attended the Socialist local in the town, two of her instructors had been there, and held positions as executives in the branch. This was sufficient evidence that socialists were not persecuted, as she had imagined, and that free speech was not merely a phrase in the constitution. She could learn all she wanted on the subject from her economics professor, who was a well-read and nonpartisan teacher. “I am an instructor,” he once told them, “not a politician.” So Regina, partly as a result of American indifference to politics and partly through a Nietzschean conviction that the mob wasn’t worth assisting, learned just enough about socialism to pass her term examinations in political economy, and no more.

“I told Mrs. Stokes why I wasn’t interested in Socialism and she laughed at me and said I was very young.” Regina dimpled ruefully. “So I told her I would like to hear about her activities in the birth control movement, since they didn’t teach that in Economics 1b and didn’t have a society in the town.”

“You’re not going to say anything about that in the Mirror,” Regina’s fiancé Ray broke in. “We’d be suppressed and probably we’d be canned.”

“There you are⁠—there’s your free speech,” pointed out Jim, who had his astute moments.

“Here is part of the feminist movement which people don’t know about except when they pick up their papers and find out Mrs. Stokes has gone to jail for a month for distributing pamphlets on the subject. What wouldn’t tenement mothers give to have one of those pamphlets. But they haven’t any chance to learn until the newspapers agitate for it and the legislature changes the laws. It’s up to the press.”

“You’re editor, Jim. If Regina or I wrote an article on the history of the birth control movement, would you print it?” June asked.

“Nope.”

“Of course not. You haven’t the guts. But this is what would happen. The article would be printed and you and the person who wrote it would be called up before the dean and expelled. The rest of the staff would stand back of you, print a farewell edition of the paper, shouting for liberty and free speech, and they also would get kicked out. An uproar in a university of five thousand students wouldn’t go unnoticed and just because Regina’s father was President of the Board of Trade and Jim’s father owns railroads, the big papers would make a stir. And in all the fuss, people would hear about birth control⁠—it would be advertised, so to speak, and mothers would cry for it. And demand is always followed by supply⁠—so there you are.”

“I love the way we sit around and talk about what we could do,” Regina sniffed. “Get a couple of people like Mrs. Stokes on the staff and something would be done.”

“Bah! placed in the same situation we are, she’d do just what we do⁠—nothing! Besides,” Jim suddenly remembered, “I thought we decided last week we were Nietzscheans.”

“That’s one way of getting away from responsibilities,” Regina protested, still under the influence of Mrs. Stokes.

“I’ll stick to Nietzsche,” June decided consistently. “Why give up several years of good fun and education and incur the wrath of the worthy Mr. Henreddy by fighting for a mob of stupid, dirty people. They haven’t gumption enough to lift up their voices and complain. I’ll fight for myself and for what I want and that will keep me busy, I guess. I’m not in danger of having babies yet a while, so why worry? And I want another sandwich!”


There were three poets who visited the university that year, and caused much discussion⁠—John Masefield, Edgar Lee Masters and Vachel Lindsay.

Before the first arrived June cut all her classes, spent the day in the library, gloating over The Everlasting Mercy, The Widow in the Bye Street, The Daffodil Fields and Dauber. Regina, Ray and Jim followed her example and there were energetic discussions of Masefield, Masters and Lindsay.

“It’s a good thing we read Masefield’s stuff before he got here,” Regina said over the inevitable cup of tea. “In that huge auditorium he was the hardest man to hear! But I think he’s a wonder.”

“I think he was bashful, he sounded so muffled; but I’d much rather have a poet act that way. Lindsay was too flamboyant. As a matter of fact,” June continued, “Masefield acted as though he were shy and unwilling. He probably needed the money. Books of poetry are never best sellers.”

“I was all prepared not to like him,” Ray confessed. “I have a prejudice against English writers coming over to America to be hailed as geniuses. We pay too little attention to our own product to know whether it’s any good or not. We take English writers for granted. But Masefield’s all right and I think his poetry’s great stuff.”

It was an opinion that was echoed by the several thousand students who went to hear him. And when it was rumored that Masefield had actually been a sailor, and had acted as assistant bartender in a New York saloon, there was a run on the library for his books. He was a man who had “lived,” it was decided.

Whether free verse was really poetry was a much debated question for a time. Vachel Lindsay had declaimed verse of the open road, immaculately dressed in an evening suit.

“The incongruity of his dress and the roughness of his poetry sets me against him,” Regina insisted. “Let him wander around the Middle West dressed in corduroys and recite in the wheat fields if he wants to. The farmers and field hands probably looked on him as a lunatic, that is, unless he composed and chanted as he worked, pitching hay, for instance. He’d be like sailors with their chanteys in that case and in establishing a precedent all sorts of songs of the fields would crop up.”

“I understand that’s what he did do,” June put in. “He worked in the fields, living the life of the people, and writing a poetry of the people. His songs are like the negro melodies in the south⁠—they have real beauty⁠—or like the cowboy songs which have never been well done.

“What I object to about the man is his misplaced enthusiasm in appearing before two or three thousand students who have little appreciation of art or beauty. If he’d blackened his face to recite ‘General Booth Enters Heaven’ they might have enjoyed his recitation as they would a minstrel show. As it was, his way of reciting was unprecedented and therefore ridiculous and they didn’t catch at all the lilting music of it. I didn’t myself until I read it the next day and got away from the spirit of the crowd in judging it.”

Then came Edgar Lee Masters, not in person, but in the shape of a small green volume from which Mr. Lord read short “vitriolic” epitaphs. The adjective was Mr. Lord’s.

Immediately rhetoric instructors were deluged with themes in free verse, and a free verse column appeared in the Mirror.

“It’s a marvelous piece of work,” Jim decreed. “Anybody who has lived in a small Middle Western town would know that. It’s real poetry because it has a languorous, sad rhythm in it, a desolate undercurrent note that you feel in an ugly little town on a summer afternoon.”

“You’re inspired,” June laughed. “I distrust it as poetry because everyone is so enthusiastic and is trying so hard to imitate it. They think it’s easy. I’m something of a snob, I suppose, but I think true poetry is like true music, not to be appreciated by the multitude. Look at Germany. It produces Wagner, and people only accept him under protest and are bored to death if they have to sit through a Wagnerian opera. Most German music is sickly sentimental stuff⁠—waltzes played by fat beery men on huge horns. That’s what makes the multitude thrill.

“And look at us. We produce an Edgar Allan Poe⁠—a great poet⁠—and he dies of starvation. The crowd has never raved about him. But look at the furor about Masters. It’s a vulgar enthusiasm in which I refuse to join.”

Then, just as the free verse mood was beginning to dissolve, Scott Nearing, another socialist lecturer arrived, and wild political articles and dissertations on free speech filled the columns of the Mirror and there was something else to talk of at tea.

“That’s American democracy for you,” sniffed Regina, “a man is kicked out of one state university for expressing himself too freely, and is allowed to lecture at another. Why won’t the people in authority be consistent? That’s another reason why I can’t believe in socialism⁠—capitalists are never consistently oppressive.”

And so the teatime debates went on⁠—whether capitalists did more harm than good, whether state control had ever been successful, the possibility of a brotherhood of man⁠—and usually concluded each day with a realization that all discussion was futile.

“No use talking, I’m going into the railroad business when I’ve finished my course and no socialistic ideas will keep me from becoming the president of a railroad.”

“And I’m going to write novels that are best sellers just to make a living,” Ray decided, “and all my desire to devote myself to art and perfection won’t keep me from doing it.”

“I’d like to get a job on a big daily paper and my fun in going out after stories or running a woman’s page will keep me from worrying because the press is governed by its advertisers.”

“Me too,” Regina agreed, then⁠—“I’m afraid we’re awfully lacking in ideals.”

Part II

Still Adolescent

I

Mother Grace was proud of her daughter with her restless brain in spite of the crudities of her adolescence. Cigarettes and her freedom of speech were not so objectionable as her religious pose, nor indeed as that phase which comes to all youth when they feel that they are misunderstood.

Mother Grace’s pride was not that of a mother whose egotism is satisfied that she has produced an intelligent continuation of herself.

“No, you recognize me as an individual,” her daughter pointed out in what Mother Grace had come to term as one of her frequent harangues. “Most mothers refuse to recognize their children as individuals with minds and aims of their own. Usually the instinct of motherhood is merely a desire to perpetuate themselves or their husbands. At least women act that way. And when their children are born they say, ‘this is mine,’ or ‘this is my husband’s child,’ and they don’t recognize their children’s rights at all.

“Now the fact that you gave birth to me, Mother, I shall regard merely as an incident. If you hadn’t done it, somebody else would. So we won’t let the mother and daughter relationship stand between us in our friendship. Just the same, there are ties of blood, of course and I shall always cling to you just as I cling to Adele. I don’t expect her to exert any authority over me and I don’t expect you to. But you can give me advice of course, because you are older and more sensible than I. But you needn’t ever expect me to follow it, or get mad if I don’t. If I make mistakes by not taking it, I’ll have to suffer for it.”

“And so shall I,” added Mother Grace mentally, for after all she knew what it was to be a mother.

All this was rather irritating to her at first but after thinking it over, she decided it was part of June’s newfound ability to reason, to flaunt her ideas in her mother’s face. And further reflection showed her that it was the flaunting of them and not the ideas themselves to which she objected.

On the occasion when her mother did venture to remonstrate⁠—“Oh, June, don’t be such a prig!” her daughter disarmed her by an immediate acceptance of the word.

“How can I help but be, when you and Adele insist on thinking differently about human relations?”

Yes, she was a prig, she thought, and the real reason for it was her ever changing and modifying ideas.

Day by day they twisted into new shapes, and while she held them she must needs state them with all earnestness and conviction. And with all the more conviction because in so short a time another thought would come, bringing doubts.

Why couldn’t she formulate a satisfactory program for life and stick to it? Why couldn’t she reach some conclusion about human relations and then hold it?

If she could only see clearly as her father obviously did, distinguishing exactly between right and wrong, good and bad.

There was Regina for instance. She knew exactly what a good woman was and what a bad one. Not that she would ever condemn what she considered a bad one. She prided herself too much on her tolerance. She knew too, exactly what her principles would allow her to do, in her relations with men, present and future.

When June stopped to think about it, she realized she was capable of doing anything⁠—capable of following her desires, wherever they led, and justifying herself for so doing. And whether her reason would be treacherous in this justification she did not know.

There are certain stock situations in one type of novel which the very young girl reads. June and her friends at the age of thirteen had often discussed them with mingled and pleasurable emotions. Why the words blush and bride were always associated. What a wedding night felt like. Why a wife always hid her face in her husband’s breast and dilly-dallied about telling it when she was going to have a baby. Why be so reticent about it, anyway? All the world gave birth.

June had decided upon the way she would act. She’d face her husband triumphantly across the breakfast table and announce: “I’m going to have a baby!” And if she acted immodestly proud, it would be with the consciousness that she was taking part in a grand movement. It was quite proper for the husband to be astonished and pleased as though he hadn’t thought her capable of it. “Why you cute dear! What a wonderful thing to do,” he should say, showing a befitting admiration for a function he could never possibly perform himself.

As it was, the situation could only be treated that way once or twice. Each time it happened there would be less triumph for the woman and less wonder for the man. Hadn’t she heard her mother say, before Glubb’s arrival, “Yes, damn it, I’m going to have another.” Then why all this flumdididdle about the little shirt or bootee hidden in a workbasket?

Still considering the stock situations, the most delightful one of all was that in which a girl was forced to confess to her husband that she had had a lover before she met him. It was full of emotional possibilities and more interesting to consider, from every standpoint, than June’s favorite romance writers ever meant it to be. At the age of twelve it was easy and interesting for June to conceive of herself facing the realization of a loss of virtue and the necessity of confessing it to a husband. At the age of eighteen, more sexless and unemotional than ever before by reason of increasing mental activity, it was harder than ever to see wherein lay the crime of love out of bounds. In all the books she read⁠—English as well as Russian and French translations⁠—conventions were forgotten, love was treated aesthetically and morals, as the world knew them, ignored. It was for the weak to be uplifted or cast down by the world’s opinion. In literary history people had lived as they’d seen fit to live and the race had benefited by the stimulating companionships of men and women even though they rested on the basis of sex.

“But⁠—” Mother Grace pointed out when once June was trying to give expression to her muddled thoughts, “I don’t see how the convictions of genuises as to sex and life in general, affect you who have to live and work with the great mass of people in the world.”

But didn’t Mother Grace herself condemn the conventional reaction of the husband in the case of Tess of the d’Urbervilles? Who had been wrong in that case⁠—the husband for leaving Tess on the wedding night because a momentary weakness made her the victim of a man she’d have to submit to even if she had struggled? Or Tess?

“But that’s only a novel you’re talking about.”

Continuing her line of thought June decided that the only reason to condemn Tess was for her submitting without love. That made an unbeautiful splotch on her life. If she had loved her seducer heart and soul, however, it was still less probable that her “sin” would have been forgiven by her husband. Why should a woman justify herself by saying it was only her body which sinned, not her soul?

Suppose she said to her husband⁠—“Yes, this man was my lover and every moment I spent with him was beautiful. The experience made me more alive to the beauty of the world and I am more human because I loved so much. But it passed. We grew past it, and now we are not lovers, but friends.” June could not imagine it said without disastrous consequences.

It seemed that love with all its possibilities of bigness could not stand such a revelation. It was always demanded of a woman to say that a former lover had been just an incident, bringing no beauty or gladness into her life. This was jealousy. And when June tried to contemplate that she could not, for she could not yet realize love.

“Why is it so unusually hard for me to think straight?” she demanded.

“God knows,” said Mother Grace, “I don’t. But I’ll trust to your instinct not your mind, to take care of you through life.” And blessing her, June went out to find a job.

At dinner time several days later she burst into the house after an afternoon in the city and told her mother with glowing eyes that she had found work to do.

“Every afternoon this week I’ve taken my clippings from the school paper and the town paper and gone to newspapers. And even though I visited several every afternoon, I’ve only managed to see three city editors. Those office boys are the devil to get past and I wouldn’t tell them I was looking for a job. I just said I wanted to see the editor on business, and didn’t look important enough to have business, or else the city editors were really busy, so I didn’t get in. I saw the editor of the Tribune and he told me I was very young and that newspapers weren’t the place for young girls. So did the next one. He said he’d never allow a daughter of his to work on a paper. I wish they wouldn’t be so paternal. Both of them said my stuff was good and that a country newspaper was a nice place to work and one of them even gave me the address of an agency where you can apply for work in the country. They were very nice and after I got in to see them, relaxed and chatted very affably.

“After trying to get in on all the big papers I thought of that little labor paper that I brought home the other day. It’s socialist and has most of the news of the big sheets even if it hasn’t the advertisement. That’s the difference in bulk, really. You didn’t read it and I’ll get another for you. The editorials are all for labor and most of the news is written from the standpoint of the socialist.”

“Oh, June,” Mother Grace protested, “you know how opposed your father is to any socialism or anarchy. He thinks reformers all foreigners or laboring men. This is much worse than it would have been if you found a job on a regular paper.”

“It’s quite a respectable looking office,” June assured her. “It looks like all the other newspaper offices, only smaller and all the men working there were Americans that I could see.

“They didn’t seem to have any office boys⁠—only a copy boy and he was rushing downstairs to the press room when I went up and didn’t pay any attention to me. You could see right in the editorial room over a counter. Some men were working at typewriters and three men were sitting around a desk reading copy. A little blond man with a nice face went by and asked me what I wanted and I told him the editor.

“ ‘I’m it,’ ” he said, and opened the swing gate for me to go in. He led me in a private office on one side marked “managing editor” and I was scared. The managing editor seems to be so much more important than the city editor.

“I told him what I wanted and he laughed, not nastily, but as though it were a great joke.

“ ‘Why, we have hardly enough money to pay the office boy,’ he said, ‘let alone a woman reporter.’

“ ‘That’s all right,’ I told him, ‘I wasn’t expecting a big salary. I am sure you need a woman reporter. I can picket with strikers, and write human interest stories of strikes, and as you know the clothing workers and waitresses are striking now. And they’re predicting it will be a hard winter and there are all sorts of sob stories to write.’

“ ‘I know,’ he said, ‘women reporters are always a good thing, but we’re broke, simply broke.’ And then I showed him the things I’d done and he approved and I told him I could live on a small salary. You see after being to all the other papers I’d made up my mind that I’d have a job.

“He went on to tell me that some weeks the paper was so broke they had to issue half pay, and sometimes they had to take up a collection from the staff to pay for cuts for the next day’s paper. He seemed to really want to hire me, but not to see his way clear to do it.

“Then I had an inspiration. You’ve noticed accounts of this squad of policemen who are living on a diet and showing how cheaply working people can live if they do it scientifically. And those society women in Chicago who are feeding themselves in a club on a quarter a day. I asked Mr. Bright⁠—that was his name⁠—why I shouldn’t constitute myself a diet squad of one and live on five dollars a week. Lots of factory girls are living on that and I had lived comfortably on nine in the country. I pointed out to him that working girls couldn’t very well club together the way these ‘squads’ are doing and that I’d like to show how it would work out.

“ ‘Of course it won’t,’ he said, ‘but if you’ll try that for a month, and work for five a week, I’ll raise your pay to twelve.’

“So I told him I would and now if you don’t mind, I’m going to move and live in a tenement.”

“Well I’ll be damned,” cried Mother Grace.

“You can tell father I just decided to go away and be independent just as I did that last year at college. Then he can’t blame you. He’ll only commiserate with you at having a thankless child. And you know, Mother Grace, I always wanted to live away from home and be independent.”

Why you want to, I don’t see,” cried Mother Grace in despair.

“It’s just a case of living one’s own life, though that’s a trite way of putting it.”

“But I never wanted to live my own life.” And June in her triumph forbore to point out to her mother that hers was a new and more adventurous generation.

“There’s another reason why it’s best for me not to live at home,” June added. “The Clarion is a morning paper and I start to work at three in the afternoon and don’t know exactly what time I’ll be through. And it’s quite possible I’d run into father around twelve or even get home later than he did. And it wouldn’t only be one row but many of them. He’d quarrel about my working and about what I’m working at, and the hours I work. You know very well, too, he wouldn’t quarrel with me. It would be with you. He doesn’t seem to realize that we’re old enough to reason with. Why, only last Sunday at dinner he turned to you and asked you if I liked the breast or the dark meat, just as though I weren’t old enough to speak for myself. And instead of coming to me he’d ask you why I wanted to work and why you couldn’t persuade me that it was impossible for young girls to be out at night alone.”

“I know⁠—I’ve always borne the brunt of the misbehavior of all of you.”

“But if I actually got out, and proved myself to be beyond your influence, he couldn’t scold you for what I’d done, could he? I’ve got to go, mother dear. I’ve been home two months now and there is no work or anything to look forward to. It will be easier for you and for me too. I’ll just pack my suitcase and leave.”

The upshot of it was that June, with a thrilled feeling of adventure at her heart, kissed Mother Grace and Adele goodbye and took the car to the Clarion office the next afternoon.

“I’ll telephone you every afternoon, and come home on my nights off. And you and Adele will have to come often and have dinner with me. I have about an hour off and we’ll go to Chinatown and have chop suey. It’s near the office.”

Mr. Bright, the editor, had told her that in view of the fact that she had to find a home, she need not appear at the office until five. So leaving her heavy suitcase by the side of the desk which had been allotted to her, she set out through the East Side streets.

The Clarion office did not occupy a place of dignity on Park Row. You got off the subway, the elevated, the surface car, whichever you happened to be riding on, at Brooklyn Bridge, and walked down that dingy section of the Row given over to pawnbrokers, saloons and recruiting stations. Just before you reached Chatham Square, that gloomy crossroad where all streets lead out under shadowing elevated tracks to still gloomier regions, you turned down a little side street to the east and after passing three saloons, this was before prohibition, and two warehouses reached the Clarion offices which occupied a loft above the Meisel Printing Company.

To get to June’s room which she found that afternoon you continued east on this street. In another block it ends at Madison Street which digs straight into the East Side, running parallel with the river. It was a cheerful and lively street with horse cars which jogged every half hour through the crowds of children playing in the gutters and hiding among the ash cans. The air was full of shrill child voices, shouted admonitions from the mothers hanging over their fire-escapes which front the buildings like grim skeletons. Street organs surrounded by little girls played the latest popular tunes and every once in a while a merry-go-round set on a wagon was drawn to the curb by a lean and deafened horse. Rides were for a penny and the music which the man ground out as he turned the handle which set the carousel spinning held an invitation which gathered the children from blocks around.

Mulberry Street runs into this thoroughfare and spills a delta of tenements with shops where long cheeses and sausages and chains of red pepper and garlic contribute their smell to the cluttered air. There are Greek and Turkish coffee houses with strange colored curtains at the windows. When the curtains are not drawn you can see the men inside playing cards, smoking long water pipes. Sometimes there are dancing girls and often at night comes strange music which, with the echoes of daytime street pianos, haunts the silent street.

Late at night June found it a strangely sinister neighborhood. It seemed at first that she, alone in all the world, was awake. Her footsteps so stirred the silence the first night she went home that she had rubber heels attached to her shoes the next day so that she could swing along without feeling so gruesomely alone.

And soon she discovered she was not alone. A whole silent world was alive, a world that slept at dawn as she did. There were huge sleek cats, furtive pariahs that prowled through the hallways and gutters. And their cries and calls answered the dreary rustle of the wind in the trash of the street. A dull murmur came from the coffee houses, a subdued bustle from basement bakeries, the door of which opened sometimes to give out a warm, sweet smell of coffee bread and a glimpse of a perspiring and floury baker sniffing the night air.

Up dusky side streets you could see occasional pushcarts and beside them slept dim, bowed figures who occasionally roused themselves to hold murmured conversations.

Sometimes on a corner a little tobacco shop gleamed brightly. There was one on Rutgers Slip which was always open. A young Russian stood guard over tall jars of candy and colored syrup and neat stacks of cigarettes. It was nice to stop and chat with him before the nights got too cold.

Later on there was a woman who ran along the silence of the streets and broke it with her calls. Occasionally June heard her, darting down this side street or that and once she saw her running, stopping to get her breath, then running again. And every now and then came that long shrill cry of seeking.

When November with its flurrying snows sought to disguise the tawdry street, June made the acquaintance of two policemen who met each night for a chat under Manhattan Bridge while they ate their midnight meal of coffee and rolls. As the nights grew colder they had a glowing fire in an ash can, and June stopped to warm her hands by it. She was offered the seat of honor on a dry-goods box, and presented with a cup of hot coffee. The bulky ham sandwich she refused.

They asked her what she did so late at night and she told them, showing her newspaper police card.

Convinced that they didn’t have to waste professional curiosity on her, an easy friendship was established between them. Her office was two “beats” from home, they told her, and often one met her as she turned into Madison Street and escorted her to the ashcan fire under the bridge and from there the other took her to her door.

“We’ll watch out for you,” they assured her as if dangers lurked in every doorway. And they gave her a police whistle to blow on, if ever emergency should arise. They vied with each other in telling her long fantastic tales of tenements, haunted by crooks, catacombed with secret entrances and exits, tenements in which if a man once gained shelter, it was impossible to trace him. There were tales of gangsters, of the Cherry Hill gang and their hangouts along the docks, street battles and gang feuds.

Once as they sat there and talked over steaming coffee, the stillness shattered every now and then by the heavy trains far above the houses on the bridge, a woman came running with little steps down the street, and seeing the policemen’s fire, approached it slowly, shivering. June recognized her as the woman who called in the night, and listened curiously as the policemen welcomed her.

“How about it, mother? You haven’t found him yet? Better come and get warm and have a cup of coffee. You’ve hunted long enough tonight. Better luck next time.”

“You haven’t seen him?” she asked piteously at first, but after she drank her coffee she seemed to forget and babbled of Sadie and some other women with whom it seemed she shared a basement room; of the way they swore and fought and stole; how she had to wear her shoes to bed or they’d go and pawn them for a drink; (and to illustrate her point, she pulled open her ragged coat and waist and showed how in lieu of an undershirt she had to wrap newspapers about her bony chest to keep warm, “Went and washed the shirt one night,” she said, “and hung it hidden in an oven to dry. Next morning it was gone.”) of Ike, the Jewish bartender in the saloon on Pike and Front Streets and how he let her sit around on cold days and sometimes gave her soup.

Her breath was heavy with the smell of whiskey as she talked, an ingratiating smirk on her lean old face. The horrible sadness of her calling and the tragedy of her running feet was gone. It was life which was sad and tragic. She was tawdry.

“ ‘Dis-audrey conduct,’ they call her,” one of the policemen told June. “Her name is Audrey and she’s an old street girl.”

“Not now!” June shuddered, incredulous.

“Sure. They keep it up until they die along the docks. There’s always some rotten foreign sailor so far gone with dope or drink to pay her. You see she seemed pretty sensible while she talked to us, yet every now and then she goes off her head and starts running through the streets till you’d think she’d drop dead. You see it was this way. She had a kid once, a boy. No father, of course. She took care of him and hung on to him until he was shot in some street fight when he was eighteen. He’d joined a gang when he was twelve. It didn’t seem to bother her an awful lot until the last year or so. It happened twenty years back. Now she’s taken to looking for him⁠—and not the grown boy that he was either, but a little tot of five. She thinks he’s lost and every week or so when the fit’s on her she drops in the Madison Street station and asks the captain for him.”

Facing a tiny square which was overshadowed by warehouses and tenements and which led down to the river, was the six-story tenement where June lived. Back through a long passageway, she walked, past doors through the glass panes of which came a dim flicker of light or the occasional wail of a child. Sometimes in the narrow entryway, a couple stood, as in other doorways along Madison Street, lingering in their silent farewell. Sometimes cats were the only evidence of life in that huge tomb. They crouched on the stairs and glared with flaming eyes. Up five flights of steps, stepping over children’s playthings and treading carefully to avoid any stray bits of garbage, June made her way. The door of her room, though it was one room of a four-room flat, opened on the hall, and she let herself in with a key which fitted any other door in the house.

The single bed took up half the room. A table and one chair left enough space to open either of the two doors, one leading into the Warzinsky kitchen and the other into the hall. Over the foot of the bed hung a wardrobe, and covering the window which opened on an airshaft was clean white muslin.

Candlelight hid the dingy woodwork. A rubber hose attached to the one gas fixture was connected with a one burner gas stove on which she cooked her breakfast and late supper.

A row of books⁠—poetry and fiction⁠—decorated the table and pictures of Amenemhat III, Stefansson the explorer, and Bellmonte the bull fighter, decorated her walls. They could not approach Mr. Armand, of course, but she admired them all. She liked the first for the dissolute line of his broken nose, and the pleasant sensuousness of his expression. Stefansson typified high endeavor and Bellmonte, arrogant strength. It amused her to have them share with her her tenement bedroom.

Her rent was five dollars a month, including gas. She could walk to and from the office and other carfare incidental to her work for the paper was paid by the office. On the day she started to be the “Clarion diet squad of one” as the editor put it, she sent for a budget from a charities bureau, which gave weekly menus for families living on starvation wages. Not that they called it that. The adjective was the Clarion’s. According to the organized charities a family could live, eating scientifically and keeping track of the calories, on very little indeed. After June had adapted the “menu for a family of five⁠—$10 a week” to herself, it ran something like this:

Breakfast:
pt. milk .05
Cereal .01
Fruit .02
Rolls .02
Late Supper:
Soup (potato, pea, bean) .02
Rolls .02
Egg .03
Milk .05
Butter .03
.25

For her dinner at six, she found she could get a passable meal of soup, fish, bread and coffee for twenty cents at most of the East Side bakery lunches.

To her great surprise when she finished figuring her rent, she discovered she still had almost a dollar left over. This, of course, according to the organized charities budget, should be saved for “doctor, dentist, clothing, entertainment and education,” but seeing no need of any of the foregoing, June was not content until she had devised a way of spending it.

One of the advertisements in the Clarion pointed out that a dollar down and a dollar a week, for fifteen weeks, procured for you a phonograph. This June proceeded to buy, receiving a contribution from Mother Grace in the shape of fifteen records. For something had to be done to make the diet palatable, she pointed out in her second article. This it accomplished and more.

For the morning after the bulky parcel was carried up the five flights of stairs, she was awake at eight, eager as a child to survey a Christmas present, unpacking, putting together and finally, winding up the machine and adjusting the needle to the first whirl of one of Sousa’s most stirring marches.

There was a little rustle in the hall and then the patter of many baby feet. Downstairs and upstairs they came, leaving their play on the tenement stairs to snuffle around June’s door like a litter of puppies. June could hear Mrs. Warzinsky shoving them away, but back they came, to listen. She opened her door to them when she had dressed but they were shy at first and hung back. When she paid no attention to them and devoted herself to the cooking and eating of her cereal, a book propped against the milk bottle, they edged in, sat shyly on the bed, stood close against the wall, or peered from the hall around the corner of the door.

June felt like the Pied Piper of Hamelin at first and wanted to laugh. But she didn’t. They were all so seriously attentive. As she cooked and ate and read, she changed the records, and when the last bite of cereal and roll had disappeared, she shoved them out, locked her door and proceeded to cover her afternoon assignment.

But they came back every morning even before she was awake. In a half sleep she could hear them whispering and shuffling, tentatively trying the doorknob, Mrs. Warzinsky hushing them wrathfully. “Smootchy-faces,” she called them, the only two English words she knew.

But June loved them all⁠—little Jews and Poles and Russians, loved their appreciation of her morning concerts, loved their bright eyes and curly heads, black, blond and red.

Mrs. Warzinsky liked the music too. Often she came in with a bowl of soup or some coffee bread and many times June found a carefully covered dish of pickled fish, redolent with onions, standing on her table when she returned at night.

She and her landlady could not talk together but there was no restraint between them. By expressive smiles and eyebrows they could say all that needed to be said of soup, music or babies.

June’s room was cleaned by little Ruth who was twelve and who attended the public school around the corner. She was the eldest of five children who slept in the kitchen and living-room in the front. In the room next to June the parents slept with two younger ones. They were all clean and healthy and well-cared for, for their father was a tailor and never out of work. Ruth read when she wasn’t housecleaning or ironing or taking the younger children to the baths around the corner. She showed June the life of Helen Keller one Saturday morning when she came in with the little ones to listen to the phonograph and timidly asked leave to borrow of an evening some of June’s books which stood on her combination of desk, stove and dining table. Her brother, who was eleven, studied Hebrew in addition to his school work. June liked the little family.

She too used the baths around the corner. They were all showers and rooms were kept clean, though much frequented by the foreign mothers in the neighborhood. June enjoyed scrubbing under the hot spray and listening to the mothers bathing their children in the little rooms on all sides. Occasionally they burst into Russian folk songs, strange harmonies in a minor key with a sad happiness running through them.

She was given her afternoon assignments the night before, so she did not go to the office until she had covered them. There was much to do⁠—meetings to attend of protest against labor, capital, the high cost of living, war-profiteering, entering war, not entering war, conscription, anti-conscription. There were meetings to start strikes, to end strikes, to form unions, to fight against other unions. Food riots came. The city hall was stormed⁠—if you can call it storming (as the papers did) when a crowd of fat Jewish women from the East Side with babies in their arms, stood in front of the city hall and scolded that institution of city government. Heroically they paraded Fifth Avenue and “stormed” the Waldorf under the mistaken idea that the governor was staying there. There were birth control meetings⁠—trials of birth control leaders, meeting of the Anti-conscription League, the Emergency Peace Federation⁠—and interviews galore.

The city editor of the Clarion at this time was a young Russian Jew, twenty-five years old, who had lived all his life in New York and who had worked for the last five on the Clarion. Every now and then after six months or so of intensive work, Ivan failed to show up at the office and his place was taken by one of the desk men, older but less qualified for that position of responsibility. It was generally understood on these occasions that Ivan was on one of his poker sprees which lasted until he returned to the office several weeks later, a nervous wreck and in debt to the extent of several hundred dollars. In spite of his trembling hands and bloodshot eyes, he was always welcomed like a prodigal son. For the paper never ran so smoothly as when his shaking fingers were fumbling among the evening papers for rewrite stuff and among the syndicate news sheets for features.

No one knew how he had been educated⁠—how he had come by his knowledge of languages and literature. Nor was anything known of his family. (Most of the young men and women, in fact, that June came in contact with were remarkably reticent about families. For all she knew they might have been spontaneous growths with no background but their hall bedrooms and the newspaper office. June was engagingly frank about hers. Mother Grace and Adele often met her in the office around six for little dinner parties at which Ivan or Chester or Emil clamored to be the host.)

The Guillotine column, a special feature of the paper was run by Chester, who had a nose like that of Cyrano⁠—his favorite character⁠—keen eyes, a Rabelaisian tongue which June soon got used to, and ferocious ambition. He ran the column for the fun of it, and was paid for sitting at the desk as a copy reader from five in the evening until one in the morning. Outside of the office he toiled at a three-act problem drama, relaxing from his great work by writing verse and short stories that were usually rejected.

When the three of them could leave the desk at the same time it was usual for them to eat together. June protested at first, thinking of her diet. In spite of her attempt to satirize diet squads, she wanted to treat the matter fairly. “If I can get a dinner for a quarter, I’ll go,” she told them the first time she was invited. “That’s the most my budget allows.”

So the boys took pains to find cheap eating-houses and she overruled all their attempts to treat, and stuck to her regime as nearly as possible.

So far, June’s only dissipations had been at Child’s on lower Park Row when she sat with her three new friends and talked, over pancakes and coffee. There was no longer a chance to indulge in the ranting to which Adele and Mother Grace took exception. Everybody always wanted to talk at once and June was content to sit and listen, throwing in a word now and then to keep them at it. Often they sat till three, June smoking surreptitiously, although at that late hour the manager smiled leniently. Other newspaper workers came in and soon left. Pressmen with smudged faces came to eat and took away coffee in pails. Occasional trucks rumbled by through the cold night and every half hour a Third Avenue car clanged as it passed the Bridge. Diagonally across the street, a fruit stand with glaring lights kept busy. Continuously street cars came around the loop of the Bridge, received one or two sleepy night workers and went their fan-shaped way into Brooklyn. Paper boys shouted even at that sad hour of the morning, and newspaper wagons clattered along the cobbles to receive their load of papers and raced off.

And Ivan and Chester and June talked on and on. Emil, another reporter, usually rushed away after half an hour’s chat. “He’s got a girl uptown,” they told June regretfully. “But he’ll get over it in a couple of months and be a night owl once more. We all have our spells when we desert the pack for a while. Yours will come.”

“No, indeed,” said June, stretching luxuriously. “I intend to be free and have to answer to no one.”

Ivan was sympathetic but Chester ridiculed her. “In the newspaper and artistic crowd, nobody remains free. They are all the victims of their desire for love, and because they have so-called freedom⁠—to experiment and taste and try⁠—they are all the more victims of their passions.”

“Shut up, Chester! Don’t disillusion June. She’s too young. Besides all this talk of yours has just sprung up in the last couple of months. You’re the slave of a chastity ideal. If anyone ever had a complex, you have one now.”

What a complex was, June did not know at that time, but she soon found out where he got his purity ideal. One freezing night when she shivered at the thought of her cold little room, into which the breath of seven sleepers stole through the cracks around the door if she did not open the window, Chester insisted on her accompanying him to the flat of a friend of his, Ellen Winter.

“It’s steam-heated,” he told her, “and she’ll have coffee ready. She usually waits up for me if I let her know I’m going to stop in. I live on the next block.”

In a little book-lined sitting-room, Ellen received the three of them, sitting graciously behind an electric percolator. She had a mass of bright golden hair, prim features and a decisive way of talking. June felt immediately that here was one of those comfortable people who always know exactly what is right for them to do and whose principles never waver.

Ellen also was working on a play, and when June finally fell asleep curled up on the cushion-strewn sofa, talk of technique and criticism of everything that had been written for the last twenty years ran in her ears.

After that, Ellen often telephoned June in the evening and asked her to spend the night, an invitation June was glad to accept. Ellen was a self-reliant young woman with a sharp tongue and rigid ideals which kept other women at a distance. She took the woman of the world pose with June and the latter listened to all she had to say in silence. She was ten years older than June and she had a gratified feeling that June realized those ten years and looked up to her as an experienced woman.

June admired her abilities and secretly condemned her intolerance of other peoples’ morals. But then, she reflected, she had a reason for her condemnation. For Ellen, as she soon found out, was in love with Chester and was unable to marry him. Chester had referred darkly to a tragedy in his life on one occasion when June dined with him alone. Another time it came out. He had made an unfortunate marriage when he was twenty and had one child. (He was twenty-five now.) The girl was continually unfaithful to him, she admitted it, but he could get no proof that would procure him a divorce and give him the custody of the child and he had no money with which to hire a lawyer to conduct the case for him. As a consequence, whenever he and Ellen remembered it, they looked darkly on life and all women.

“A pure woman in these days is the rarest thing under the sun,” Ellen often told June solemnly. “Modern women think nothing of their virtue and sacrifice it without giving it a thought.

“My dear, your virginity is the only thing you have. Hold on to it.”

On reflection, June did not think the attitude a nice one.

“She keeps harping on virginity,” she told her mother. “She talks of it as though it were a commodity, a thing we have to sell. We give up our virginity and a man gives us a home, and permission to bear his children and his name. If we haven’t got virginity, we’re to be cast into outer darkness. Nothing else we’ve got is of any account⁠—only virginity. Oh⁠—I’m sick of the word.”

“This Ellen takes the worldly attitude which is the only sensible one to take seeing the world is what it is,” her mother told her. “She’s probably a very fine woman and you can’t come to any harm through listening to her talk.”

June made another friend of whom her mother could not possibly approve. This was Billy Burton, a pert little artist, whose one idea in life was to follow the whim. That her whim often created situations bothered her not at all. Situations were the breath of life to her. As she herself often sighed rapturously, “Ah, that was a situation!” and she defined the word as a scene, a mass of complications, a melee, a ticklish moment⁠—in fact a mess.

She and Ellen Winter never spoke to each other if they could help it, but a conversation between them would have run something like this, didactically:

Billy Sex is a barrier between men and women keeping them from a complete understanding of one another. Barriers are made to be broken down. If I meet a poet or artist or writer that I feel to be big of soul, that I feel I can learn from, and sex comes up between us and might prevent me from having a more perfect understanding of him, I let it be broken down. Once there are no barriers and men don’t want to get something out of a woman in the way of sex, there is complete freedom between the sexes. At no other time will you have that.
Ellen But think of the value men set upon a woman’s virtue.
Billy Sniffily. I suppose that’s why you set such a value on it.
Ellen A woman’s virtue is a gift which a woman brings her husband. She always feels the lack of it if she hasn’t it to give.
Billy I count the gifts of the mind of far more worth than the gifts of the body. I’m spiritually better off than you are, because I put the body where it belongs. Dust to dust and that sort of thing. You exalt it.
Ellen It’s only by keeping purity of the body that you can have purity of the mind. The men with whom I came in contact know that I am pure and I get the best and purest in them in my intercourse with them. And they know they can expect nothing from me, so sex doesn’t come up between us.
Billy But I don’t want to know the best and the purest in life. I want to know the good and the evil, the pure and the impure. And I do know both and I love all that life has to show me. I can’t hate anything and I can’t judge anybody or anything, so I am very happy.
Ellen According to your lights. But once you come up against love which is the biggest thing in the world, and the man scorns you for looseness of living, and refuses that which other men have taken so lightly, then you will know remorse.
Billy My love affairs are to me merely incidents in an erotic education. And this education ought to make any man love me more instead of less. Think of all I can teach the man I love. For a woman learns more by a free life than a man ever does.
Ellen Men don’t want to be taught, they want to teach.

But a conversation of this kind could never have taken place between Ellen and Billy, for their intercourse was of the briefest. It could not have taken place between what the world considers a good woman and a not-good one because each has such conviction of truth that they would never argue.

June, being eighteen and of few convictions made her mind the battleground and often, unknown to themselves, Billy and Ellen fought it out there. That neither side had the victory, it is unnecessary to say.

June became acquainted with Billy through Ivan who was a special friend of hers, and the two girls became immediately fond of each other. The fact that Billy “sexed” as she called it, and June didn’t, was no barrier between them. June liked the little artist because she felt that at heart Billy had as few convictions as she did. Her proclaimed attitude towards sex was a justification for whatever she did, and June could not help but admire the ease with which she formulated a creed for herself.

After the diet squad had retired and June was living as precariously on her twelve dollars a week as she had on her five, she often made her way to Billy’s hovel of a room to find her still in bed, hair uncombed, unwashed, wrapped in a soiled kimono in which she had probably slept, puffing furiously at a cigarette in a long green holder that matched her eyes. This morning there was the usual pad on her lap and she was listlessly drawing one nude and decadent woman after another and throwing them on the floor.

“Hell, hell, hell!” she kept muttering softly to herself, as she saw June come in. Then, “Oh, you darling. Just in time to prepare me some moral support. I’ve been awake for an hour and haven’t had the gumption to get up and get it for myself.”

Curtained off on the other side of the room June found coffee and when she had put it on the little gas stove she sat on the edge of Billy’s bed and surveyed her work. The utter clutter in which the little artist lived had repelled her at first and she had wondered how it was that anyone so unaesthetically untidy could have so many friends. But dropping in of a morning when she always saw her at her worst, she soon became used to externals and devoted her attention to Billy’s whimsical gossip.

“You’re wasting enough paper there,” she remarked as another sheet fell to the floor.

“I can’t exactly get it. Is that the moral support which I hear boiling? If it is, you’ll find cream on the windowsill and an extra cup in the closet on the floor. Whew! That’s hot,” and she set the cup of coffee on the floor by her low bed. “And now I’ll tell you what else you can do for me. Just strip off your clothes⁠—the room’s warm enough, and while you’re drinking your coffee I’ll sketch you.”

Although June would not have thought of undressing before her mother or Adele, it was impossible to refuse Billy’s request. So June quickly slipped out of her clothes and curled up on the end of the sofa which was softer than the chair and solaced herself for the discomfort of unaccustomed nudity with a cigarette.

“You have just the sort of impalpable figure that I am expected to draw for that blooming magazine,” Billy said with satisfaction as she started to work. “Don’t try to sit still. Move around all you want to. I want just a general impression, anatomically correct and yet impossibly lissome. I really think you more nearly approach the sort of stuff I draw than anybody I’ve ever seen. You’ll probably have a beautiful figure by the time you’re thirty. Have the men around here started to make love to you? You’re just the type, you know.”

June didn’t know what the type was, but she told her friend, “Yes, very nicely. But not violently enough to be convincing.”

“What do you want them to do? Rape you? Violence has gone out of fashion, don’t you know that?”

“I enjoy it immensely until they try to kiss me. But there is a sort of futility about their love making. It’s purposeless⁠—as though they did it because everybody else does it. I don’t get half so many thrills as I thought I would when I became grown up and untrammeled.”

“Unawakened,” said Billy with her pencil in her mouth.

“No, pure, Ellen Winter would say,” June put in rather maliciously.

“It’s a lucky thing I don’t live at home now,” June told Adele on one of her frequent visits home. “I’d have so much to talk about that you’d never get a word in edgewise. It’s all about causes, too⁠—the poor working girl, the police system, homes for fallen women and how they should be run, birth control, pacifism and any number of other things. But all I have time to tell you about are my adventures.”

“We’d a great deal rather hear them than the conclusions you draw from them,” Mother Grace said. “They’re bad enough for a mother to hear about anyway. Can’t you manage to avoid some of these experiences of yours?”

“I don’t go out of my way looking for them,” June protested aggrievedly. “If they worry you, I won’t tell you any more.”

“Of course you’ll tell me. I’d rather know exactly what I’m worrying about. I should worry in any case. If you didn’t keep me informed as to what you were doing and where you were living, think how shocked I would have been when Mrs. Gunther called me up that time.”

The woman that Mother Grace referred to was the chief factor in an unpleasant experience June had had several months after she had left home. On the lower East Side near the river she stumbled upon an old parish house next to an Episcopalian church that had a slave gallery. She explored the church which had been opened for a vesper service and wished also to explore the parish house next door when she noticed a small sign tucked unobtrusively away in one window announcing that there were rooms for rent. She was immediately fascinated by the somber atmosphere of the place, and the result was she rented the room (two dollars a week) and moved in the next day. It was the completeness of its desolation which attracted her. The first floor was occupied by a young woman with an old husband, the rector of the church. Mrs. Gunther puttered around the two rooms on the first floor of the house where she and her husband lived, leaving her lodgers to care for their own rooms as best they could. The beds were never made, the floors were never swept, clean towels were scarce and hot water was unknown.

On four sides of a square hall four doors opened into the lodgers’ rooms. June heard them open and shut in the morning, but she never saw the occupants in all the two months she remained there and since the doors were never open, she didn’t have a chance to peep in to see if they were as bleak as her own. Her room was on the side next to the church and Sunday mornings as she lay in bed, the mournful music of the organ seeped into her open window and lit up the greyness about her. Even in the middle of the day it was never a light room and on cold nights when she heated it by means of a gas stove which was attached to a solitary burner, she had to read by candlelight. There was no carpet on the floor and no curtain at the one window which faced the church. It was perfect in its dreariness and silence, and when June came in after a busy day and evening when she had interviewed and notated and written and lived the day with the clatter of voices and of typewriters in her ears, she stood still and drank in the silence. She enjoyed the damp old smell of the house, she enjoyed her complete apartness from the city.

On one occasion when she paid her rent, Mrs. Gunther detained her for a moment in chat. The subject of their conversation was the iniquity of a little servant whom she had employed.

“The girl was fourteen and I paid her three dollars a week to work for me, sleeping at home, of course. It was a great help to her family⁠—poor Irish and very shiftless. Anyway, one morning I caught her on the front porch (I’d sent her out to shake a duster) dancing to the music of a street piano, and what do you think⁠—she didn’t have any pants on. I had her brought up before the children’s court for misconduct and she was put on probation. Any more looseness and she goes right off to a reform school.”

“Pants!” June thought, with disgust. What an idiotic word, especially when you considered the disastrous consequences. She might have said “drawers,” but then, nobody wore drawers nowadays. It’s envelope chemises, teddy bears, bloomers or more elaborate still⁠—pettibockers. On the East Side⁠—from what June saw of the children, they didn’t wear anything. And the little maidservant was only fourteen.

Yes, “pants” was just what a Mrs. Gunther would say. She couldn’t have said anything else.

The conversation left a disagreeable impression on June’s mind and was increased the next week when her landlady informed her that she had just had the tobacco store on the corner closed because she was sure that it was the hangout of gangsters.

But the reform tendencies on the part of her landlady didn’t linger long in June’s mind, unfortunately, and when, two months later, she was confined to her room with the grippe, she didn’t hesitate to telephone Ivan (who by that time had become her close friend) to drop in after work and bring her cough medicine, lemons and some whiskey. She had been in bed for two days, only dragging herself out twice to get some milk toast at a nearby bakery. Mrs. Gunther had not been near her.

According to June’s instructions, Ivan whistled “Poor Butterfly” as he came along the silent street, in order that he would not have to ring the front doorbell. June kept her window open and soon after one o’clock slipped down to the door to let him in.

“Hell of a place for you to be sick in,” he grumbled as he deposited lemons, oranges, whiskey and cough medicine on the table by the side of June’s bed. “Why in the world don’t you move up to Eighth Street where the rest of us live?”

She liked the piquancy of an Episcopalian parish house in a Jewish neighborhood, she said, and she liked the ancient odor of her surroundings. She liked the sound of the organ on Sunday mornings and she liked to feel solitary. She wouldn’t move.

She hadn’t told her mother she was sick for fear she would visit her and display the same distaste for her surroundings which Ivan had. She didn’t want Ellen or Billy near her, because Ellen would talk chastity and Billy would talk about men. She was enjoying being sick⁠—having a great reading-fest and she’d probably be able to come to work in a day or so. So he might as well join her in having a hot toddy and tell her all the gossip of the office.

The paper was getting along the same as usual. Mr. Bright was still insisting on giving a lot of space to the A.F. of L. and the Board of Control continued to row about it. Ivan himself favored the Amalgamated Clothing workers and every time he gave a column to them Mr. Bright rowed. It was a three sided feud and probably the latter would have to give up his job. On the whole the socialist board was more hostile to the A.F. of L. than they were to the Amalgamated. The very fact that the latter union was fighting the American Federation inclined them to look with more latitude on the clothing workers. It was a mixed-up affair and the more they bickered, the less faith Ivan had in the working classes.

Chester had found some more evidence and was going to start proceedings for a divorce. But then he’d been doing that for a long time. Vic had left the paper for higher pay on a Connecticut sheet. Benny Leonard had contributed largely to the Clarion bond issue. June was to take Benny as an assignment next week and have lunch with him. A good story for the sporting page⁠—the class-conscious prize fighter.

Emil had left the paper for a job on a magazine as reader. They had two new men, not much good.

Several more pacifist meetings had been raided and there was talk of declaring war on April first.

He (Ivan) had brought her an article on Maxim Gorky to read and he had written two poems. He read them to her. They would appear in the Guillotine tomorrow. What was the book he had brought with him? Gosta Berling. It was marvelous⁠—a masterpiece. That woman certainly could write. Nobody could equal the Scandinavians these days. Wait, he would read a chapter or so to her.

And so the night wore on.

At seven Ivan left her and brought in a huge cup of hot milk and six slices of thin buttered toast from a nearby bakery and when she had assured him that he had saved her from the complications of boredom, pneumonia and slow starvation, he left her to sleep. Which she did all that day.

That night she was able to show up at the office to assist in rewrite work although Ivan refused to send her out on any assignment.

The next noon the blow fell. She had just stepped out of a cold tub and was leisurely dressing when a tap came at the door and Mother Grace came in.

“Well, my dear, I’ve come to your rescue.”

“How in the world did you know that I’ve been sick? Did Ivan call you up? I told him not to. I’m all right now⁠—went to the office last night.”

But Ivan hadn’t called her up. Mrs. Gunther had taken note of June’s midnight visitor and had called up the office that morning, asking for Miss Henreddy’s home address, saying that she was ill. The business office, contrary to the policy of the office had given it and the result was that Mother Grace had been forced to listen over the telephone to a long diatribe against June and her loose habits.

“I was absolutely furious, my dear.” But not at June. “Nothing in the world is worse than having somebody light on you over the telephone. It was so difficult to put her in her place. I dropped into the office to find out how to get down here and fortunately ran into Ivan there. He told me that you’d been sick and that he had dropped around after work and that your brute of a landlady hadn’t come near you for the two days you kept to your room. Oh, I told her just what I thought of her!”

Then after Mother Grace had announced casually that it wasn’t considered quite the thing in her day to receive young men in bedrooms at any hour of the night or day, she made herself comfortable on the bed with a glass of whiskey and water and lemon which June had prepared for her, listened to the records, commented on the quality of tone of the phonograph. Then, with June’s packed suitcase they went out to lunch together and that was all there was to that.

June was always making discoveries in the way of homes for herself in those days. She hadn’t lived in Eighth Street for more than a week before she came across the Shelter for Probationers from Blackwell’s Island and Bedford Reformatory. At least that was the name given it in the women’s night court by the deep-bosomed matron when she sat down to fill out the prisoners’ reports. When you spoke of it, you said Miss Prince’s. The judge called it Miss Prince’s. Whenever a girl was brought before him who had broken probation and who was given the name of “flagrant repeater” by the other probation officers, he’d say, “Well, call up Miss Prince. Maybe there’s room up at her place.”

There wasn’t another place exactly like it in New York. The only thing like it in literature was Jo’s farm in Little Men where she coddled and nursed and educated her waifs and strays.

The girls who were sent there were a distinct type, too. Actually “flagrant repeaters” who couldn’t be trusted with a probation officer were always given another sentence in the reformatory.

Those girls who had no previous record in the court were lectured on the sacred flower of womanhood and motherhood and girlhood, while the probation officers who sat on a bench in the first row beamed and nodded at each other, and then they were turned over to one of the latter.

The judge who was fat and Rabelaisian and always in a high humor at life and the part he had to play in it was inclined to favor the youthful and attractive type of offender.

“That girl has something in her, I’m sure,” he would tell Miss Prince solemnly. “She’s young and her face isn’t so hard, do you think?”

“She does seem to have better taste in rougeing,” Miss Prince would agree dryly.

As far as June could see, it didn’t matter whether they were young or old with Miss Prince, as long as they weren’t of the “moron type.”

“Give me a girl with some brains to start out with, who is halfway normal and I may be able to do something with her,” was her ultimatum as to what she wanted in the way of raw material. “It’s hopeless work enough without wasting time on the regular ‘hooker.’ ”

It was her occasional slang probably more than her attitude towards her work which attracted June. Certainly Miss Prince was unusual. She didn’t regard her charges sentimentally as fallen women as the other probation officers did. Education, not religion, was her panacea for the social evil.

After she had heard Miss Prince use the word “hooker” she asked to be allowed to visit her home to write a story on it for the paper. An invitation to lunch was the result and June went up there the next afternoon.

Somewhere around Fiftieth Street the island of Manhattan juts out into the East River and forms a little promontory across which a side street runs for two blocks. If you absentmindedly walked for more than two blocks in either direction you would find yourself walking through some iron railings, down a steep cliff and into the river.

There are prim brownstone houses on either side of the street and it is a stark, plain unprepossessing place, at first view. There are no lawns, no trees to soften its hard outlines. But all the houses on the east side of the street have back gardens with lilac and syringa bushes and beds of early purple orchids and lilies of the valley. If you look over the back fences of these yards you will see that on this side, too, the land slopes down in a steep cliff.

It isn’t a city-like cliff at all. It is fascinatingly irregular, offering many nooks and crannies for small boys’ foothold. If you climb down you will find that there is a natural beach extending for two blocks. It is a narrow beach, but it is not too narrow to sit there even when the big steamships and freighters pass and the waves wash in.

Before June pulled on the bell of number twenty-seven she walked up and down the street (for she was early) charmed with this quiet haven where there was not a sound of trolley car or a rumbling elevated train. The tall, quiet houses seemed to be hiding with their skirts, and protecting with their tapering railing fingers, that little beach. All the rest of the east shore of Manhattan had been gobbled by great corpse-like buildings and rotten creaking docks that jutted out like the tentacles of some mighty insect into the river.

As June described the place to Adele⁠—“It’s four stories high counting the basement where the kitchen and dining-room are. You’ve seen some of the tea rooms in Greenwich Village. That’s exactly what this kitchen and dining-room are like. Painted to indulge a kindergarten whim, and all bright and shining. The kitchen is immense and old-fashioned with a huge stove that fits into what once was a fireplace. There’s an enormous white sink and plenty of hot water to make the housework easy because the girls divide it up among themselves, taking turns at kitchen police the way they do in the army. The tables in the dining-room are long and painted blue and have blue runners down the middle of them and yellow curtains at the windows and there’s a fireplace at one side that makes the room even more cheerful.

“On the first floor there’s a big sitting-room and sun parlor facing the river with a grate fire there too and couches and easy chairs and books and a piano and phonograph and every night the girls play ragtime until ten o’clock and then they all sing Nunc Dimittis before they go to bed. The big front room belongs to Miss Prince and her assistant, and they share it so they’ll have more room for girls. All the lovely furnishings go in the sun parlor and sitting-room for the girls.

“On the two upper floors the rooms have been turned into dormitories and it’s as though there were upper and lower berths. One hall bedroom has been made into a nursery and they have two new babies. Two other girls are going to have babies. One of them comes from a small country town and before she met Miss Prince she was going to commit suicide.

“Down the street Miss Prince also keeps a house which has been made over into a nursery for babies whose mothers have to go to work. She only charges ten cents a day.

“Who supports the homes? Miss Prince herself. Every day she goes out among rich friends (she seems to have a lot of them) and collects money and clothes and food, free tuition to business colleges, anything that she can use to go on with her work. Her idea is to start a whole chain of these homes with an idea to do away with prisons.”

“Rather hopeless in this generation, I should think,” judged Mother Grace.

That was the trouble, June decided⁠—the hopelessness of it all. For every girl who turned out well, there were five who went back to the cabarets and eventually the streets. Miss Prince confessed it herself, acknowledged the apparent futility of any kind of social work, but saw no reason why that should prevent people from doing what they could.

And just when June began to mourn the futility of all endeavor, birth control was given to her for an assignment and through her newspaper work she was able to fling herself into another cause and forget the fallen women.

Of course birth control would solve all the troubles in the world. With birth control you wouldn’t have any more children than you could afford to support and educate. Economic necessity would no longer be an excuse for the woman of the streets; and with education, a moral and social sense would be developed. No more poverty. And when women were not forced to have more than two children, they would have time to look into the laws. There would be a better educational system and a better industrial system. Given two children instead of nine and there was room for the maternal instinct to work. All you need is birth control.

These were the things June wrote for her paper every day when she had attended meetings where the leaders of the Birth Control League spoke. A clinic had been started somewhere around Havemeyer Street in Brooklyn and there was daily expectation that a raid would take place. June had to keep her eye on it all day. Sure enough, there was a raid and the next development was the trial of Edith Burns, a trained nurse and worker in the movement.

Then came those thrilling days after Mrs. Burns had been taken to Blackwell’s Island and started her hunger and thirst strike. The first prisoner in America, the Clarion pointed out, to hunger strike for a cause. Forcible feeding began and June found an English suffragist who had hunger struck in a London jail and wrote a column on how it felt to be forcibly fed. Even the capitalist press was aroused and printed headlines on the condition of Edith Burns. One afternoon she was dying. The next afternoon the jail doctors vehemently denied the report. As a matter of fact, they said, it was all bluff and the prisoner had probably secreted cakes of chocolate on her person when entering the jail with the intention to strike. Five days and there were rumors of brutal treatment. Four men, the papers reported, had held the frail little woman to the bed while nourishment was being poured down her throat through a tube. They clamored for the governor to take action and pardon her. Birth control as an issue was disregarded. The important fact was than an American woman was being brutally treated by jail authorities and it was up to the chivalric American press to object. These things might take place in England, but not in New York. Here the Anglophobes had their chance.

Then the governor signed the pardon and dark rumors went around that clemency had come too late. There was a mad rush among the reporters to see who could get the first interview from the released prisoner, who would take her dying words.

“She’s not to be released until eleven tonight,” the Sun reporter said. “That’ll just give us time to3

“That’s the trouble. Can we get ahold of her?”4

“Well, there’s four of us. We’ll work together and if one gets the story first, he’s to call up the others when he gets back to the office.”

One reporter chose the Twenty-third Street ferry house where the Department of Correction landed their prisoners from the island. Another took the Fifty-ninth Street ferry. Another heard Mrs. Burns was to be brought to the Central Hospital and took the train uptown.

“And I’ve got a hunch on sticking around her home,” decided June, and proceeded to the artistic little apartment on the west side.

Mrs. Burns had several rooms in an old house which had lately been redecorated and fitted with modern improvements and rented out as studios to artists. She had furnished them very tastefully. Pongee curtains, a shade darker than the ivory tinted walls hung at the windows. The huge couch at one side of the room, covered with brown corduroy, served also as a bed. Between the couch and the wall was a bookcase stacked with modern poets, sets of Wells, Conrad and Hardy, books on nursing and several sociological works. There was a grate fire opposite the couch, several easy chairs, a low phonograph and cabinet of records. There were no pictures on the walls.

June, as a radical and reporter for the socialist press, was treated with more familiarity than other reporters and when she lifted the brass knocker that night, she was ushered into that more intimate room of Mrs. Burns. Mr. Waldor, the long-haired young poet whom she had met at Joel’s, was there alone, dismally trying to arrange huge bunches of yellow daffodils in green vases. Having failed in trying to establish a magazine of new verse he was at present acting as secretary to the Birth Control League.

“I wish I were a madrigal,” he murmured wistfully as he accepted June’s offer of help.

“I wish I were a madrigal
Upon a crimson stem.
I’d ask the yellow daffodils
The how and why and when.”

“Or do you like this⁠—

“Oh, if I were a madrigal
Upon a crimson stem
I’d lean down o’er the daffodils
And yerl around at them.”

“Don’t think much of either,” June decided. “You’ve been drinking.”

“Miss Henreddy, if you knew how my heart bleeds for that noble woman who has sacrificed her life for the cause⁠—”

“Good Lord, you don’t mean to say that she’s dead,” June burst out, more overcome at the idea of a big exclusive story for the paper than with pity for the fate of Edith Burns.

“No, but she’s dying.”

“Rot! That’s newspaper talk. You know she isn’t dying. You don’t really think she’s seriously ill, do you?”

“According to the reports of her doctors, she is in a very serious condition,” said the young poet with dignity.

“Yes, and both of her doctors are radicals and will give out misleading reports for the benefit of the League. The newspapers are making a big story of it just because there isn’t a murder on hand to serve up in headlines every night. I don’t think five days of hunger-striking could hurt anybody. The only way she’s suffered is from forcible feeding and that must be uncomfortable to say the least. Use your common sense, Waldor, if you have any. And you know she’s going to be brought here tonight rather than to any hospital. Otherwise why would you be here making a fire and putting daffodils around?”

“Where are the other reporters?” he asked with a gleam of sense that June had asked for.

June told him. “And don’t try any of your sob tactics on me, because you know I quote you and the doctors with the understanding that you’re faking. Save that for the capitalist press.”

Impatiently, June turned to the phonograph and the bookcase. She hoped to goodness Mrs. Burns would arrive on time so that she could telephone the story to the paper before twelve. She had no patience with poets or with long hair. And she had no patience with the League when they overreached themselves in providing sensational stories for the press. She thought of the other three reporters tramping around in the cold, waiting for a first interview with Mrs. Burns.

Two hours passed and she was beginning to philosophize on the idiocy of modern newspaper work, to wonder whether it were not rather debasing work, when she heard a taxi hooting downstairs. Immediately she was as full of glee as a child playing a game. She raced with Waldor down the stairs, raced across the curb to the taxi where the two doctors who were on the case were helping Mrs. Burns, somewhat pale and languid, out of the car. She got her interview in three sentences (the most interesting one of which was that Mrs. Burns’ teeth had been knocked out while being forcibly fed) and raced to the telephone across the street. It was ten minutes to twelve and she had been just in time.

And then June was hit by a police club. That was the next exciting event in her life as a reporter. The surprising thing, she discovered, was that you could enter into the spirit of the mob even when the club5 descended against her ribs with a hollow sound did not call up any resentment in her breast. She felt it, but it did not hurt. She felt it, but it did not disturb in any way the curious, detached, mad feeling that flowed through her veins as the crowd seethed and shouted and fought. June looked at the policeman who had used the club and perceived that he could see but dimly through a veil of blood that clouded his eyes. He had a cut across his forehead. At the moment of the blow, as she looked up at him, he smeared the blood from one eye and glared forth like one of the giants that Jack killed.

“Excuse me,” he said politely, “I can’t see.” And went on clubbing at the crowd to keep them from obstructing the patrol wagons which were gradually being filled. The crowd continued to surge and howl.

That it seemed was all they could do and after June realized that they couldn’t shout themselves to a more bloodthirsty pitch and she could not push through to see the fighting that was going on, she lost her enthusiasm and turned to the bloody policeman.

This time, he could see the police card that was pinned to the front of her coat and allowed her to stand at the wagon and survey the prisoners as they were pushed through the crowd and handed in. It was impossible to find out names. There were too many of them. One after another, five wagons drew up, received their load and departed. When no more arrests were made, the crowd dispersed.

June found time to observe from her position of vantage that nine-tenths of the prisoners were well-dressed youths, quite totteringly drunk. By their tattered American flags they were in favor of the war which was to be voted on the next day. It was harder to tell which were pacifists and which bystanders who had become involved.

But it was easy enough to complete the story by calling up the Baltimore police station where the prisoners had been taken. There she found that five were professed pacifists. The captain was affable enough to tell her that most of the crowd had been enthusiastic young city men of reliable parentage who had been released on cognizance.

“My dear,” she told her mother, “it was just fun. It was like a holiday or a picnic and I’m tickled to death that I got the assignment. There were four young women in the party and about fifteen young men, all from Columbia, but me.” (It was when she had returned to New York and was relating the exciting adventure. She had left on such short notice that there was not even time to telephone her mother that she was going to leave the city for several days. She just arrived at the office in the morning, found a note there from Ivan to take the Chinatown bus at Union Square and go to Washington.)

“The two drivers of the bus were such a strange contrast to the students who were so enthusiastic. It seemed to me that they typified the American people. They were just ordinary bus drivers and didn’t have any conviction one way or the other. Their usual work every day is to station themselves on the corner of Thirty-fourth Street and Broadway and make up excursions of sightseers. And here they were hired for this funny job.

“We rolled out of New York, crossed the river on a ferry and went through Newark with placards all over the car demanding peace. Some people cheered, but most of them were indifferent. They didn’t seem to care whether war were declared the next day or not. And everywhere we’d stop and some of the students would make speeches in favor of peace. Or at least try to make speeches. Most of the time, a policeman would come along and tell us to move on. They were very good-natured about it and accepted it as a lark.

“We stayed in Philadelphia the first night and had a long, long drive the next day to get to Baltimore that evening. We all were sunburned and our lips got chapped and we had lunch at a farmhouse. A professor from Columbia chaperoned the party and paid all the bills.

“And then Baltimore and the riot. After that it seemed that the declaration of war on Monday was an anticlimax⁠—at least in personal experience. It’s really too huge to realize, even to think about.

“I was treated as a person of authority because I had to send stories by telegraph once or twice every day⁠—on the condition of the countryside on the brink of the declaration of war. Most of it was imaginative, because the country people were all quite solid, too solid even to care whether we were rabidly pacifists or not. And then we got to Washington, too worn out and dirty to care whether war was declared and that was the end of the assignment.”

II

One day June was walking leisurely along Fourteenth Street when she met Terry Wode coming out of a saloon.

“A little appetizer,” he murmured, wiping his lips.

“Aren’t you pretty far uptown?” June reproved him. “And I thought that you weren’t going to do any investigating without me.”

Terry was a feature writer whom June had met while she was working on the Clarion, with whom she had often joined forces while on an assignment. Some time before, they had started what they called an investigation of all the saloons, between the Battery and Canal Street and the East and North Rivers. By limiting themselves thus they had hopes of someday visiting them all. (But they had not finished their explorations before prohibition went into effect.)

“Why, it’s only twelve o’clock and you know I never begin my investigations until two. As I said, I merely dropped in to build up an appetite for lunch and if you’ll come in and have a glass of port I’ll take you along. You’ll have an opportunity of meeting Mr. Hugh Brace, assistant managing editor of the Flame. I’ve got to hand in the stuff for the dramatic page today.”

“Sure, I’d love to. But I’ve already got an appetite and don’t want to drink. You’re only looking for a chance and an excuse to go back into a saloon again.”

As they entered a German restaurant on Third Avenue, a young man rose from his table to meet them.

Hugh Brace was a tall, slightly-built youth who was thirty-three and looked twenty-three. There was a look of great delicacy about him, an appearance of living in the night hours and sleeping during the day. As a matter of fact most of his work was done at night, not only on his own writing, but his editorial work on the Flame, a monthly magazine.

An artist who had the conviction that Hugh would become famous⁠—as a matter of fact most of his friends had that conviction⁠—had painted a life-size portrait of him several years before and in it brought out his extremely dusky transparency. There was almost a greenish light on his face. You did not notice the color of his hair or eyes. They were contradictory eyes. They were curiously detached and yet luminously sympathetic.

During the course of the lunch June noticed that his clothes as well as his manners had the same awkwardness. It came, she thought, from extreme shyness, and remained with him even when he forgot himself in the heat of discussion. Behind his writing desk, he had poise. With a pen in his hand he was gracious as well as graceful. He lost neither his dignity nor his train of thought when interrupted even when he had fulfilled the expectations of his friends and did become famous, giving up his magazine work to spend eight hours a day or an entire night, as the case may be, at his desk. For back of his apparent softness there was a streak of iron and he was never ill.

“Tomorrow the magazine goes to press,” he told them, “and I am short two book reviews. Have you got your ‘copy’ with you, Terry?”

Terry produced his “copy.” As dramatic critic, he didn’t feel called upon to confine his attention to the current plays on Broadway. He had found himself down on the Bowery near the Italian burlesque show not many weeks before and the result was a criticism and comparison of that production with the latest success of Broadway. Terry did not generally call himself a dramatic critic. He preferred to think of himself as a critic of life and there was much philosophy of a sort in his articles. His style reminded June of Robert Ingersoll. While the latter directed his criticism at the theology of the day, Terry hurled defiance and ridicule at the conventions of the world. All his energy he seemed to put in his writing.

After Terry’s contribution had been read and discussed Hugh reverted to his own troubles. “I’ve got one review planned out pretty well,” he said. “There are really only three ways of writing reviews. Usually you have to struggle to make the book fit into one of the three reviews⁠—that is, if it is worth reviewing. As a matter of fact this one falls in perfectly with one of them and it’s as good as written now. It’s the story of a man’s spiritual development, and you can take the personal view. You test its worth by applying your personal experience. The man in the story finally comes to believe in a God⁠—strange, but it’s a book that’s making a big sale with young soldiers on their way to the front.

“We all have a God of one kind or another. At one time, my God was a socialist ideal. Just now I find myself a Tolstoyan without accepting his idea of a personal Deity. But it’s wartime and our only ideal can be internationalism.

“But, damn it! That doesn’t solve the question of where I’m going to get another review to fill those extra two pages. I don’t feel as though I’m going to write more than that one I’m interested in.”

“I’ve just been reading a book that I’d like to review,” June put in.

Hugh looked at her hopefully.

“It’s an old copy of Aurora Leigh that I picked up in a secondhand store over on Third Avenue, printed in eighteen seventy-seven or thereabouts. I’ve read Aurora Leigh before and it’s been reviewed before. But this is an exceptional copy. There’s nothing like it in the world. Better than any first edition. It’s a present some young woman made to a friend of hers fifty years ago, but before she made the gift she went through it calling attention to different parts of it in marginal notes. And it seems from the notes that both of them were ardent suffragettes and indignant at the part they had to play in life as stay-at-homes.”

“That sounds as though it would be amusing,” Hugh said enthusiastically. “We could call it ‘Review of the marginal notes in an old edition of Aurora Leigh.’ You couldn’t have it done by tomorrow, could you?”

“Sure,” June agreed willingly. “I’m so interested in the book that it would be easy to write a review of it. I thought of it in fact, but was too lazy to do it. Now that there is some reason for it and somebody wants it, I’ll get right to work.”

A week after that Hugh Brace telephoned June at her office inviting her to lunch with him the next day. When she met him in a little restaurant near the Flame office, he showed her the proof of her review and it looked far more dignified to her than any of the signed “stories” that she had seen under her name in the Clarion. Only her initials were signed to it.

“And now,” said Hugh, “how would you like to have a steady editorial position on the Flame? Do you know anything about makeup or type or proof reading? No. Well those things don’t matter because I can teach them to you very easily. What really matters is whether you have good taste and from the tone of your review, I think you have. You can’t tell anything from your newspaper work, you know. Journalism is beyond taste, it seems to me.”

That was how June felt about it.

“What we want is literary taste and I guess you have it. Alaric is going to spend most of the summer lecturing in the west on poetry⁠—woman’s clubs, you know, and I’ve kicked about the burden of work falling on me. So he’s agreed to pay ten dollars a week to someone who will assist me.”

“And what’ll I have to do?” asked June breathless.

“Well, the simplest thing is to read proof every month after the material has gone to the press. You’ve got to be very careful about that. We’re exceptionally meticulous. We can’t afford good paper, so we pay as much attention to the printing and makeup as we can.

“Every day you read the contributions that come into the office, sending back most of them of course. Those that aren’t any good go back with printed slips. If you like what is sent in in the way of poetry or story or article and yet think that it isn’t good enough to print or suited to the magazine, you can write a little note to send back with it. We don’t pay for anything we accept, so we have to be as appreciative as we have time to be.

“You also interview the people that come to the office to see me or any other editor, taking the place of a private secretary which none of us has ever had. In general you add to the dignity of the office. And of course every month you’ll have to have one or two reviews written. I dummy up the magazine and I’ll show you how to do it so you can help.”

“You’ll have to show me how to write book reviews,” June told him. “You said there were three ways, but you only told me one of them. I understand how that one is done all right, but I don’t think that I’d have self-confidence enough to write a book review in the first person, applying my personal experience to it as a test of worth.”

There was no need to say whether or not she would accept the position. The expression on her face when Hugh mentioned it told him that. He told her before they parted that he was sorry her pay would be five dollars less than she had received on the Clarion but that she would work only five hours a day most of the month.

June had a feeling that she had graduated from journalism, and mentally agreed with her father, when she set out to her afternoon assignments, that newspaper work was not a job for a woman. She almost strutted.

June took it for granted the next Monday when she set out for the Flame office that her duties began at nine. Her first eagerness for this new and responsible position made her wake up hours too early. It was still dark but there was a softness about the sky which pressed against the window, promising dawn. Too drowsy to get out of bed to look at her watch on the bureau, she lay there, watching the window. The shades had been left up, contrary to her custom, for she was used to sleeping late and she wished the first light to awaken her. As she watched, the sky changed to violet, then became sickly pale. There was a sudden chirping of birds on the neighboring housetops.

From the river came the sound of a man whistling the Star Spangled Banner, all out of tune. He was silent and the river seemed empty. Then a tug sneezed violently. A few coughs of the engine, a grating and creaking against the pier, clearly heard although it was two blocks away, and a gentle rhythmical chugging and steaming. A man called out. Someone answered. Then the boat swished past leaving only the tentative caress of the waves against the little beach; like a baby’s lips pressing against its mother’s breast when it is not quite hungry, June thought. A tender, happy sound. And she lay there and appreciated her simile until the first rays of the sun reddened the room.

It was good to live in the daylight again. Although she had forced herself to rise every morning at eleven while she was working on the Clarion, she felt that she had lived at night for seven months. It was springtime, and early morning, so she hopped out of bed, splashed through her bathing, mended a pair of stockings and dressed. By this time it was seven o’clock. Whistling almost as disjointedly as the man on the river had, she started out, reflecting that she had time to walk to the office.

Breakfasts at seven in April always taste good to you. Both the month and the hour are in their favor. Poached eggs on toast, the latter thick with fresh butter, coffee that is half milk, the paper which has the most features in it propped up against the water carafe before you. You can get such a breakfast in some of the East Side Jewish bakeries. The very sounds of the elevated, the people in the street, the waiter beside the steaming coffee urn, are crisp.

It takes three-quarters of an hour to read and appreciate a newspaper thoroughly. It was after eight when June was swinging along the strangely clear sidewalks of Fifth Avenue and exactly nine when she passed the thirty-sixth block and reached Fourteenth Street where the office was then situated.

The elevator boy looked very drowsy to June who was glowing. On the fourth floor where the three office rooms were there was a complete silence. From behind the desk at one of the windows, a girl’s head popped up.

June named herself.

“O-o-oh! You’re Miss Henreddy. Mr. Brace told me that you’d be around this morning. But he ought to have told you⁠—nine o’clock is awfully early for the Flame. I got here early today because I left a book here that I was reading and I wanted to go on with it.” She held out Ann Veronica. “I’m the stenographer. The business manager gets here at ten and the advertising manager about noon. And Mr. Brace⁠—we never know what time to expect him. Lots of times he works at home.”

After showing June into the office which she was to share with Mr. Brace, the latter returned to the business office and Ann Veronica, leaving June to survey with pride her new domain.

There were four tables in the room, two of them stacked with drawings, manuscripts and proofs in the utmost confusion. Huge drawings stood against the wall, reprints of the same drawings were tacked around the room. On four sides, two shelves had been built and these were crowded with books that had been reviewed, as June could tell by the titles, and books to be reviewed. The one window in the room looked out over Union Square’s battleship.

June explored thoroughly and then sat down at her desk which held a pile of opened mail six inches high. Evidently Mr. Brace didn’t care for reading manuscripts. She did not wonder, as she read them carefully at first and then more swiftly, signing her initials to rejection blanks and enclosing them in return envelopes with their luckless contributions.

One page held these three:

Passersby

There were two of them,
tight-corseted,
tight-lipped,
tight-minded,

jealous
of my loose dress,
loose breasts,
loose morals
the lover at my side.

A Brown Stone Front

My apartment house
stands like an old horse
that is being curried
Two men are shearing off its coat.

The Monkey

Pennies,
Lice,
Garlic and Waterspouts⁠—
When I would swing by my tail from the treetops
Life keeps a cord
About my neck.

Bad as the poems were, June took an enthusiastic interest in all of them. Mr. Brace had said that she was to write letters to those whose work seemed worthy of criticism if not publication and she ventured a few replies, not to be sent however until they had been approved. The work was engrossing, and it was one o’clock before she knew it. By two she had finished the stack, and selecting a book from the shelves which she thought she would like to review for the next number, she proceeded to lunch.

Mr. Brace did not appear in the office for several days and June continued the work which he had pointed out to her at her leisure. She took to arriving at ten, answering the mail and reading by the open window which looked out over Union Square. Artists dropped in now and then, bringing drawings for the next number of the magazine and stopped to chat.

There was a little round-faced, round-bodied man with a curl on the top of his head like one of the Katzenjammer kids. He was the best cartoonist on the staff and in addition to running a comic monthly magazine of his own, represented a large capitalist monthly, for which he drew political cartoons.

There were two serious young artists, one an American Jew and another a Hungarian, who often came together for an hour’s gossip with Brace or June, whoever happened to be in the office.

The younger group of radicals that June met every day no longer talked of the war. That had already been declared. Now it was the draft which followed upon the heels of the declaration on April first. Registration day was June fifth. Were they to register? If they were consistently opposed to war, it was inconsistent to register. Registering and taking the chance that they wouldn’t be conscripted and so have to plead conscientious objection seemed cowardly. Not to register would make them fugitives from the law.

Sometimes June lunched with them and sometimes Ivan and Chester called her on the telephone and she met them at what was their breakfast and her lunch.

Poets came in and sat on the desk swinging their feet and declaiming, or, if they had their poems with them, reading aloud.

But these were only the accredited members of the staff and their friends. Other poets, and other artists came diffidently and asked her advice as to markets and the kind of work the Flame wanted. And June was both condescending and pitiful.

After the first few days when Brace did show up, he looked pale and puffy eyed. “I always loaf a bit after getting the magazine out every month,” he told her.

“You don’t look as though you have been loafing,” June told him.

“Not exactly. Loafing on the job, I meant. I’ve been writing for the last couple of nights and couldn’t sleep in the day.”

He fidgeted around desultorily for a while, approved of the letters that June had written, glanced over the contributions that she had laid to one side for him, and then threw his pen down in disgust.

“I’ve got to do something. This infernal restlessness. Worked myself out and you can’t get drunk in the springtime. It goes against the grain somehow. What’ll we do?” and he turned to June appealingly.

“Goldman and Ulan were in a little while ago and they were starting out for a tramp up the Hudson. You might walk off your feelings.”

He chuckled as he jumped out of his chair and went out into the business office. When he returned he had the business manager and the advertising manager with him. It was an unusual occurrence but all three were in the office at the same time.

“All decided. We’ve dismissed the office force, in other words the stenographer and bookkeeper, and we four will go on a picnic over in New Jersey. I’ve got a little old shack there which I retire to in moments of stress.” Brace was radiant.

“I think I should like to forget free verse for a while,” June sighed, stretching tremendously. “It makes me so angry after I’ve read a hundred samples, that I get all tense from holding myself in. Back here,” and June located the tenseness in the back of her neck, “and ’specially here,” and she rubbed her jaw.

“Chuck the work in the drawer,” Hugh told her briskly. “That tense feeling is just what I’ve been recovering from. After a number as full of ‘suppressed sex’ verse and ‘obscene art’ as this one has been, I feel like going home and writing healthy romances in the style of Marion Crawford. And when I get there I find myself putting down on paper the same ideas the Flame is full of. It’s a good thing for the novel I’m writing that I don’t realize it until I’ve been at it for three days. Then I have to get out for fear I’ll tear it up. After a picnic,” he ended cheerfully, “I’ll go back thinking I’m the equal of Anatole France. And so continue the great work.”

The obscene pictures which Hugh referred to was called to the paper’s attention that morning by the post office department, the American censor of the arts, for whom a sample copy of the magazine had to be made up from page proofs before the edition was allowed to go to press. It was an ordinary picture of a nude woman, ordinary to the Flame, at least, which appreciated nudity, and the fact that the artist was an upright middle-aged American who was more appreciated abroad than he was in America, mattered little to the censor.

“We’ve got to do something about that picture,” observed the business manager now that his attention had been called to it. “What’ll it be? Have the printer block it out?”

“That’s entirely too simple to be clever,” Brace reproved. “I’ve got a much better idea. I thought of it after you had telephoned to me this morning.” He took out one of those fashion books which are stacked in the doors of department stores as he spoke. “I stopped in Wanamaker’s as I passed,” he explained. And he picked up a pair of scissors and turning to a page of fashionable dresses he began to cut one out very carefully.

“Lovely idea,” June observed. “It reminds me of the time that I cut out paper dolls. Mother used to bring us home some of those every time she went downtown.”

The other two watched him fascinated. Not having played with paper dolls in their youth they did not know what Hugh was about to do.

“There! It is just the right size, you see.” And he took the original drawing of the nude figure and pasted it from neck to shin. “I’m sure the artist won’t mind my defacing his original. Anything to put something over on the post office.⁠ ⁠… Now if you’ll just send this down to the engraver’s and have him make a plate of it and give him word to send it to the printer’s they can substitute this for the original.” Brace surveyed the ridiculous result of his work with a great deal of satisfaction.

All they had to do to prepare the picnic was to stop in a butcher and grocery shop and buy supplies. “We’ll put it down on general expenses,” the business manager observed as he paid for the purchases. “We’re short on household expenses.”

For the three men clubbed together as the advertising manager put it, in order that they might live in the style to which they were accustomed without exceeding their meager salaries.

That day was a long day of talk⁠—mostly about themselves.

Daniel Sloane, the advertising manager, was a tall, phlegmatic Hollander who had lived most of his youth in Texas. He was a graduate of Harvard and when he was consciously conversing, you could detect a trace of what is known as the “Harvard accent” in his enunciation. There was more than a hint of the Southwestern in his speech for he had worked in a small town in the west before he had earned enough money to go to Harvard, and you could tell that he spoke Dutch with his family by a slight foreign note in his voice.

At the time when June was in the university town Daniel had been driving an ambulance car in France. Six months of service at the front resulted in shell shock. At this time, the shattering of his nerves was still noticeable, but he was making continual efforts to get back. He had no sympathy with the Flame but being something of a Jesuit in his principles, he worked to live. Now that war was declared by America he never let up in his endeavor to enlist in any form of active service.

Before the war he had had the same dogged enthusiasm for writing plays with the same dogged determination to have them produced. Although he no longer wrote⁠—war did not admit of voluntarily pursuing one’s personal ambition⁠—he never lost faith in what he had written and the greatest mark of friendship that he could have possibly shown, he showed to June. He gave her two of his plays to read. They were good plays to read, she knew that, but she knew too little about the production of them to criticize from more than a literary standpoint. She criticized them diffidently, for although she could imagine writing a book or a short story, she could not imagine herself writing a play. And when someone else did what was impossible to her, she respected them accordingly.

Daniel had two complexes, as Hugh in his enthusiasm for psychoanalysis often pointed out to him. One was a persecution complex. That was in regard to his writing. The other was a chastity complex.

For Daniel, as Tolstoy put it, had “whored a great deal in his youth.” That was the general idea which he managed to convey to June in the course of their friendship. From the way in which he talked of that revered institution which he had attended, June drew the conclusion that looseness was no part of it. Texas was connected with Daniel’s early life, and the only deduction you could draw from Daniel’s talk was that Texas was as iniquitous a place as the legended California in the days of the gold strike.

Hugh was an ardent feminist. June was much more in sympathy with what he had to say than she was with the haphazard talk of the “little group” in the university in their discussions of free love and single standards. When he talked of the necessity of a love life for woman, irrespective of marriage, she found him much more intelligible than she had found women writers on the subject. There were long arguments as to why a young woman should not remain in a virginal state after she had felt the first tingling of desire.

“If I had followed your line of reasoning,” June told Hugh indignantly, “I should have lost my virtue at the age of twelve. I was far more conscious of sex at that time (and once again a few years later) than I ever have been since. And that was because I knew nothing about it. It was a thing that wasn’t mentioned in polite society. Radicals are so free in their discussions and I’ve heard so much about sex that it loses in importance the more I learn. It’s no longer a temptation to indulge desire. It isn’t forbidden. You speak of it as a supremely right thing to do⁠—to take a lover or as many lovers as you want. It is, but it isn’t heroic. I shouldn’t feel brave and untrammeled and all that if I went in for lovers. Just because it isn’t forbidden. We can’t think about society and the condemnation of society because we don’t live in it. Look at the people I know, the people I came in contact with on the Clarion and the people I meet around the Flame. Anything short of absolute promiscuity is disregarded as long as you can speak of sexual relationships as love affairs.

“When they gossip you hear them say, ‘Have you heard the latest? Beatrice has left Charlie, or do you think he left her? And now she’s living with Bertram. I wonder how long it will last.⁠—Oh, wasn’t she the one who lived with Jim Albright for three years?’

“Or if you mention the name of some woman, somebody immediately speaks up⁠—‘Who is she living with now?’

“Oh, I wish I could meet someone who would tempt me very insidiously to give up my virtue, persuading me to wickedness that was lovely just because it was wickedness!”

Hugh was a subtle antagonist and usually June could find nothing to say to his arguments. She could not even take the attitude of Daniel who held up purity as an ideal with almost Biblical fervor. He talked as she had heard Ellen talk many times. Even if she had wished to combat Daniel’s arguments, she could not have done so, for logic was not one of her gifts. From her knowledge of it (confined to Jevon’s handbook) she was inclined to think that reason predominated on the side of Hugh. It was hard to find where instinct came in.

Hugh’s premise was that virginity was a state of dishonesty and it was only by living in a state of unreality that virginity continued.

June could only say that she was sure she was an honest person and that she had always faced reality.

“What you mean by facing reality,” Hugh told her, “is facing the more intellectual discussion of sex. As a matter of fact you are an utter coward when it comes to acknowledging your own feelings and the recognition of their importance in your life.”

June could only repeat what she had said before, that she had had no “feelings” since she was fifteen.

Whereupon Hugh regarded her lithe young body for several seconds and then gave a supercilious snort.

“You make me furious with your pose of cool indifference; I know you’re an exotic person. Don’t you suppose my feelings tell me something? It isn’t that I want you⁠—”

“Now you’re lying,” she caught him up quickly. “Even if I’m not seething with feelings of suppressed sex, I can recognize different forms of approach. The poetical, the primitive, the psychic, the intellectual and your combination of them which I can only call logical. But I must say that I like the simpler forms better. They at least allow of some illusion.”

That summer, similar conversations took place just as often in public with Daniel and Kenneth Graves (the business manager) as listeners, as in private. And June was delighted at the opportunity to point out to him, with her newfound knowledge of Freudian theories that he was something of an exhibitionist in his lovemaking. Or as one jealous rival put it in a moment of irritation, Hugh’s love encounters should really take place on the stage of the Hippodrome before a packed house.

During these discussions, Kenneth would sit curled up on a sofa, drawing consolation from the stem of a wet briar, making noises which were at first irritating to June, and which afterwards she associated with a singing teakettle or a purring cat. Although he was inarticulate, he managed to convey his appreciation of what was being said by a few rumbled words which nobody understood or paid any attention to. Somehow, in his person he reflected New England and was a thoroughly good young man. Without in any way modifying his own ideas or his life to conform to the ideas of those around him, he was tolerant and appreciative of his friends.

June’s intimacy with those three grew from a suggestion made by Hugh at the close of that picnic day, a suggestion prompted by a view to economy.

“You cannot possibly live and clothe yourself on ten dollars a week,” Hugh told her thoughtfully. “Besides a salary of such dimensions savours of capitalistic exploitation. Daniel and Kenneth and I, as you probably know, have rented a furnished apartment from a friend of ours for the summer at practically nothing so as to keep down our own expenses. And we’ve decided that the only thing lacking around there is a woman. Kenneth sleeps on a couch in the dining-room and Daniel and I have separate couches in the living-room. Besides a kitchen, there is a big hall bedroom which is quite unnecessary, so why don’t you come down and live there? Your only responsibilities, my dear, will be to be silent in the morning and fairly agreeable in the evening. We’ll all take turns at cooking and bed-making, Yes, even the dish-washing.”

This was the beginning of the “ménage au quatre” which miraculously worked from inception and was their boast to friends and even acquaintances. Hugh’s theoretical lovemaking, Kenneth’s vicious pipe, Daniel’s lectures on chastity and June’s almost irrepressible desire to sing before breakfast did not seriously disturb the friendship of the four. And the arrangement continued till the Flame with many other radical publications was abolished by the government in the fall of that year.

Breakfasts were at eight every morning and June for courtesy’s sake was conceded the first bath. She always felt so fresh after her cold plunge that it usually fell to her to run around the corner to buy the papers and go to the little French bakery for brioche. By the time she had returned, the others had jumped in the tub and out, had set the table and made the coffee. Immediately scrambled eggs and tomatoes had been established as the staple breakfast food and these Daniel prepared. Hugh made the coffee and it was Kenneth that set the table. He acknowledged that he was worthless as a cook but June comforted him by saying he was the only man she ever saw who could set a table properly without forgetting anything that was necessary.

They ate with newspapers propped before them and cigarettes near at hand to add the finishing touch to the meal. It was an attractive breakfast room. The table had been painted bright orange and the chairs were black. There was matting on the floor and a wide low couch was the only other furniture of the room. Japanese prints and old brass candlesticks and lamps were the only ornaments.

In the evening when one of the four brought home guests, which happened practically every night, it was understood that he should bring with him extra food. There was always steak. That Hugh insisted on for he often worked all night and went to bed after breakfast. June contributed strange-looking vegetables which no one knew how to cook and the recipes of the Italian grocer were seldom satisfactory. Kenneth favored complicated pastries of Greek, Turkish or French origin and Daniel saw to it that there were sensible and well known things such as potatoes and salad.

The meals were always successful. There were editors and authors, and artists who always had to be prevented from drawing on the attractive surface of the table.

There were nights when everyone insisted upon assisting with the dishes, to hasten matters, thereby hindering them, and the big orange table, which could seat twelve was cleared for cards. Around the corner⁠—you could buy everything around the corner⁠—someone bought “stingers,” cocktails which were supposed to be especially insidious, but which only made June more than ever cautious at poker. She was always a cautious player. She realized that she had to be or one of the three others of the ménage (peremptorily fraternal) would order her out of the game. She never allowed herself to lose more than five dollars of her weekly salary and she seldom allowed that. For there were always preconceived purposes to which the salary was to be devoted.

More often discussion was the rule, the war, the Russian revolution, especially the draft. For all the men who came to the house were of draft age and the matter was of such importance to them that June regretted that she wasn’t a man also in order that she might have such a mighty matter on her conscience.

The night before registration day was one which she would never forget. Russell was there, that adventurous romantic who had rushed to the thick of the trouble in Mexico and who afterwards was to become an important figure in the revolution in Russia and lose his life there.

Remington, a blithe freelancer who spoke with a lisp and who had written three books of criticism on music before he was twenty-eight. Afterwards he became a newspaper correspondent and travelled and disappeared in that fascinating bit of Russian territory, Georgia.

His wife, a plain-looking short-haired girl with a cunning chuckle, who went there to look for him and who many years after found him living the life of a mystic in India.

Bonwit, a black-haired silent boy of twenty-two who was later imprisoned in Germany where he was sent as a correspondent for a radical publication.

And a young Jewish student from Columbia who served three days for publishing an anti-conscription pamphlet, who later escaped the draft by fleeing to Mexico, who somehow managed to get into Russia to attend the Third International and who finally decided he preferred life on a Mexican plantation.

His wife, a soft-eyed Gentile, who went with him as far as his first trip to Mexico and then eloped with an artist to Spain.

And that artist, big, blustering and pro-German, somehow unpopular although he was a good landscape painter and contributed every month to the Flame.

More attractive, Francis Stubble, an editorial writer and authority on international politics. His face was curiously bloated and grey and looked as though a depression would remain if you poked your finger in his cheek.

All decided against registration in that discussion which lasted until three in the morning. And then next morning, bright and early, they registered. It was better to prolong their usefulness in the radical world by sacrificing their principles, was their argument.

The women who came to the house were various. For instance, there were Hugh’s former sweethearts and June decided that it was a point in his favor, much as she disliked his idea of lovemaking, that they continued their friendship with him in after life, and even with each other. One married, not long after June met her and went to live in the Middle West and raise babies. She was the sweetest of them all, June thought. She was delicately immaculate, both mentally and physically, and somehow reminded you of Galsworthy’s heroines.

Another was a tall, voluptuous brunette with a deep soft voice. She would sing after dinner⁠—love lyrics and negro spirituals, strange, twisted fragments of tunes. You thought of low soft couches, the Nile, jades and scarabs and sandalwood perfume.

There was one adorable little thing with fluffy blonde hair, blue eyes and a thin little face. There was a flyaway look about her and you felt ponderous when with her. Perhaps that was why Hugh and she lived together for only two months.

The evenings were not all devoted to dinner parties. Daniel liked to visit burlesque shows occasionally, although once when he and June and Kenneth went to one on Fourteenth Street, he got up and walked out because too much emphasis was laid on the osculatory habits of the French comedian. Daniel was fiercely pro-French. The war seemed to enter into everything.

Kenneth developed a penchant (he called it that himself) for riding on Staten Island ferry boats, and, if the night were especially warm, continuing to South Beach on the front seat of an open car. If it was hot, the four of them and whoever else happened to be along, threw off their clothes on the dark beach and scampered into the surf. It was quite black and June did not feel that she was being immodest.

There was even a night at Coney Island, and Hugh, who had never been there before, insisted on riding on all the roller coasters and kissing June in the tunnels. And they all squealed at each steep descent.


From the many holidays they took to celebrate nothing in particular you would naturally think that no work was done at the Flame office. But the manuscripts were read and returned, book reviews were written, the accepted contributions sent to the printer and engraver, and the magazine came out as usual once a month.

On a magazine dealing with ideas about the news of the month rather than the news itself, exciting things do not happen with enough frequency to make them commonplace. Newspaper life is crammed with events, which taken by themselves would provide ideal situations around which to write many novels. But they come so thick and fast that they lose in emphasis. When June had worked on the Flame for six months she began to feel as though she were regaining perspective.

There was excitement though. For instance, one of the artists drew at random a picture of two women, one upright and lofty, looking to the horizon, the other kneeling at her feet and gazing up at her wistfully.

“Didn’t draw anything for this issue,” he told Hugh vaguely. “I was working on a portrait. Can you use this, do you think?” and he drew the picture of the two women from his portfolio.

“We need a cover for this issue and that ought to show up well.”

And the drawing was accepted as listlessly as it had been offered for it was a hot day and no one cared much whether the August number had a cover on it or not.

Later, in view of the trouble with the suffragists in Washington, Hugh decided to call it “the militant” with the result that when the magazine appeared on the newsstands it caught the eye of the suffrage party who immediately ordered five thousand copies of the drawing, and afterwards bought the original to hang at headquarters. There was much enthusiasm around the office that day for the artist was a poor man.

Twice also within the last year (but this was before June joined) the issues of the paper had aroused much excitement. Once for a Christmas poem about Mary and more especially about the nobility of Joseph who married her when she was pregnant and in danger of disgrace. There was also a picture of Christ on the cover with the announcement “Christ will speak in Brotherhood Hall.” Unfortunately, the men at the head of the company who controlled the newsstands in the subway and elevated stations were Catholics and objected to the issue. And now the Flame was no longer sold on the stands which they owned.

Another month a large clothing firm gave a full page advertisement to the magazine, offering prizes for the best essays written on several economic subjects. They had made a custom of offering prizes every year, but the Flame had never been one of the magazines to carry the advertisement. The post office took this occasion to stop the number stating as a reason that the magazine was advertising a lottery. None of the other magazines which carried the advertisement received any notice whatever.

After war was declared the capitalist press took every opportunity to sneer at the radical monthly. One month a full column called attention to a bit of verse written by one of the editors which poeticized the hungry passion of a middle-aged woman at that period in her life which is more often treated by doctors and pathologists than by poets. The poem appealed to June’s erotic sensibilities but she did not much blame the newspaper for its jostling comment. The editors themselves took it, as they took all adverse criticism, as free advertisement.


Then, as the magazine daily received more attention, and the circulation steadily rose till it was higher than it had ever been before, the post office delayed the issues more frequently, and more reluctantly released them. With the end of September, came federal officers and all the back numbers of the magazine, the material for the next number, all the contributions which were in the editorial office and all the books and correspondence of the business office were confiscated. The end had come. Everyone knew that even before more federal officers came with warrants for five of the editors and two outside contributors. June felt rather out of it⁠—for she did not regard the arrests at all seriously⁠—until she also received a slip of paper which proved to be a subpoena. The date of the trial had not been set, but until after the trial she would feel that her work on the Flame was not yet over. Meanwhile, there was nothing to do.

III

Everyone in the radical movement had gone to jail at some time or another for at least a few days, if not a few years. June had not yet had that experience, but she had heard many talk of it.

There were the eleven radicals living in a single tax colony in Delaware who had come into conflict with one of the old Delaware Blue Laws which read “Thou shalt indulge in no worldly amusement on the Sabbath.”

A number of anarchists, as well as socialists and single taxers were living in the colony at the time. At a meeting of the socialist local a feud was begun between the anarchists and the socialists because the latter refused to allow one of the most insistent of the former to hold the floor. He had been in the habit of attending every meeting and pestering the members of the local with long speeches until they felt that they could no longer endure it. In a less civilized community, they would have thrown him out bodily or given him a thrashing on his way to the meeting-room to teach him better manners. A long argument was held as to whether they should use force to rid themselves of the nuisance. Deciding that it would savor of anarchy, they asked the help of the police and had their brother radical (although they did not consider him as such) arrested for disturbing the peace. For the sake of principle he refused to pay the fine imposed upon him and served three days in jail.

The result was a well planned revenge. With the aid of a lawyer (not an anarchist, one would suppose) he unearthed the aforementioned blue law and insisted that the baseball nine and tennis players of the colony, most of whom were members of the socialist local, be arrested for playing on Sunday.

They were fined thirteen dollars and fifty cents each and not to be outdone by the anarchist in the way of principle, they also declared themselves in favor of jail. In a spirit of retaliation, and merely to keep up the good work, they in turn threatened the Wilmington Golf Club which was made up of prosperous businessmen and even drove them from the links. For a while there was no more outdoor amusement on the Sabbath.

Because one of the eleven radicals arrested was the son of the man who had started the colony, another a well-known author who had made a fortune from his socialistic novels, the case received a good deal of attention in the newspapers. Somehow or other the anarchist who started the comedy was suppressed. Perhaps the socialists forgot their beliefs and became anarchists for a while. At any rate, all that the papers knew of the case was that the Wilmington authorities had swooped suddenly down upon the eleven members of the colony and on the most ridiculous pretext had arrested them. To all appearances, it was a case of plain persecution and the socialists made much of it. The author derived all the benefit possible from the publicity and ten years later when the case was forgotten by all but those who had played a part in it, he revived it in a lengthy work dealing mainly with his own persecutions. And somehow the truth never leaked out, perhaps because the eleven who were persecuted forgot what the truth was.

Practically all the cases of short sentences that June knew of had an element of humor in them. It is unfortunate, but true, that the more seriously devoted to a cause the victims were, the less comic the situation looked to them.

June had heard of another case, that of a young radical who was arrested for playing marbles on the Mall of Boston Common. The small boys who had enticed him into the game were chased, but he, due to the fact that he came from a good family and should have known better, was arraigned in court. Unfortunately he took this opportunity⁠—as many radicals do⁠—to make a speech on freedom in general but was suppressed in the middle of the first paragraph and sent to jail for a day.

And then Billy Burton came along with her experience. She sauntered into the basement café where June was sitting with Ivan who had a night off and joining them, ordered a tall mint julep. She was looking as bedraggled as usual and her brightly rouged lips only served to accentuate the pallor of her sharp-featured little face.

“What in the world have you been doing to yourself?” Ivan asked her. “You look like the devil. You look as though you were full of dope.” It was usual with Ivan to be almost tactlessly frank with his friends.

“Just trying to be decadent, that’s all,” June told her. “There’s a sort of wave of it going through the crowd. If you hear anybody murmuring about cats that crouch on pianos and howl with hoarse sweet voices like women, don’t be alarmed. They’re only quoting Baudelaire. But where in the world have you been for the last month that you don’t know the local gossip? You’re usually the purveyor of it.”

“If you read the papers instead of Les Fleurs du mal you’d know where she’s been,” Ivan reproved his companion. “Miss Billy Barton has turned suffragette and has been in jail for the last thirty days in Washington. What’s got into you Billy?”

“I’m not going in for causes, don’t worry. I got hard up, that’s all. Ejected from my studio, pay for drawings delayed, and I was sick of being broke. I met one of the suffragists who was on her way down to Washington to go to jail and went along, That’s all.”

“You’re just trying to make a good story of it,” Ivan scoffed. “That wasn’t the reason you went. Are you really going in for suffrage?”

“The truth,” Billy insisted, finishing her mint julep and ordering a cocktail. “But do you know, now that I’ve been in jail and with those suffragists for a month, I’m really enthusiastic about it. They’ve created such a stir down in Washington that I’m sure they’ll get what they want. I wouldn’t use a vote if I had one, but that doesn’t keep me from joining them when they’re making such a good fight. I approve of violence, not necessarily as undignified as that of England. But it is violence just the same when a crowd of women get arrested for picketing in front of the White House and sent to jail. And the way they’ve kept at it for the last year! You can’t help but admire their persistence.”

She beamed earnestly at them as she finished her cocktail and ordered a highball.

“For goodness sake,” Ivan cried, “stop mixing drinks. Do you want to get sick and messy? You know I won’t take care of females who haven’t any sense in that way. If you want to get gently exhilarated take another cocktail, the same kind you had before.”

“Lea’ me alone,” Billy mumbled with a straw between her lips. “I’ve dreamt of these drinks for the last thirty days and I must take the train and go back to Washington again tonight. They’re going to have another demonstration tomorrow and I can’t get a check for those drawings until after they’re published.”

Both Ivan and June offered to lend Billy whatever they had with them. “No, thanks,” she said sweetly, “you know I just want to go. Why don’t you go with me,” she turned to June. “You’re at a loose end now that the Flame has been stopped. You might as well employ your time in doing something useful. You’ve served radicals of all kinds so why not be a suffragist for a time?”

June considered the idea seriously. “I don’t see why I shouldn’t go. I hate not to be working and I don’t see what there is I can do just now. There isn’t a job in sight and Daniel has finally managed to get in the service and is going abroad and Kenneth is working for the capitalist press and Hugh is busy with his book.⁠ ⁠… Why not?” And at a remark from Ivan, “If you can’t do anything but protest this evening, you’d better go join that poker game that I lured you away from. Billy and I can then discuss jail in peace.”

But Ivan preferred to hear Billy’s story of her experiences and refused to leave them and the evening ended with his escorting the two of them to the train at the Pennsylvania station.

“All you need is a change of clothing while you’re waiting to get into jail and some books to read when you get there,” Billy said, so there was no packing to do. “And don’t take anything valuable because it will only be stolen or spoiled before you get out. They’re getting more and more exasperated with the prisoners and they’re liable to try some rough stuff.”

After all, it was really for the sake of a cause that June decided to go with Billy on her second expedition.

“What the suffragists are going to do this time, is strike for the rights of political prisoners,” Billy had told her. “You see up to this time the women have just stood at the gates of the White House and when they were arrested and tried for disorderly conduct, they’ve gone to the workhouse⁠—not the jail exactly⁠—and worked out their sentences. They’ve had to give up their own clothes and wear prison dresses, eat the filthy food that is provided by the authorities and sometimes they were allowed to have books and sometimes they weren’t. And sometimes they got their mail and sometimes they didn’t. What they want to fight for is the right to have the privileges that are granted to political prisoners in every country in Europe⁠—to keep their own clothes, not to have to work, the right to buy food and see their own doctors and lawyers and to have books and papers.”

“I think,” Ivan agreed with her warmly, “that that’s a cause that’s worth fighting for. It will be the first time in the history of America that political prisoners have fought for their rights and it’s about time.”

“Especially since all these promiscuous arrests have been made,” June chimed in enthusiastically. “This is a time for fighting and here’s the chance for me. I’ve been feeling rotten to be out of it when all my friends are risking arrest for conscientious objection and for writing and working for radical magazines and publications. I’ll go. Not for suffrage exactly, but for the rights of political prisoners of the United States.”

It was to be a bigger demonstration than any other which had been made up to this time by the suffragists in Washington. When June arrived there for the second time that year, she found that thirty-five women had responded to the organization’s call for picketers and represented many states in the union.

New York, as would be expected, was more represented than the others. There was Mrs. Bolton, the wife of a surgeon in one of New York’s largest hospitals. A young Russian Jewess came from the East Side, leaving her husband behind her to take care of her eight month old baby. And there were Billy and June.

Chicago was represented by a woman aviator and doctor who practiced neither one nor the other of her professions. Her machine was held because she could not afford to pay a repair bill, and she had been concerned in a scandal in Chicago which led her to give up her practice and come to the east. (After the suffrage disturbances were over she worked as a streetcar conductor and still later as a munition maker.)

Mrs. Prindiville, sixty years old, was the dignified representative of an old Philadelphia family.

Eleanor Arnold came from one of the few stubborn families on Beacon Hill in Boston, who refused to move from their traditional home to Back Bay. June deduced from later conversation with her that the real reason she came to Washington and to jail was to worry her father and mother who refused to allow her to marry a young anarchist, whom she had met at a radical club on Ashburton Place.

Two young Christian Scientists came from California and their religious fervor was only exceeded by their enthusiasm for suffrage. One of them was about to be married to a soldier who expected to be sent to France at any moment. But she had postponed her wedding in order that she might give her full attention to the suffrage work.

Old Mrs. Angell represented Florida and newspapers made much of the fact that she was eighty-six years old. She had been working for suffrage all her life and when she learned of what seemed to her a quicker way of attaining her end, she took the first train to Washington. The organization accepted her gladly. She was the most effective figure in the demonstration.

The youngest demonstrator was eighteen, a slim thing just out of school who looked four years younger than she was. Her sister was one of the leaders of the party. She was a quiet, gentle little creature and it was infinitely pathetic to think of her being locked in a cold “solitary” cell. She looked even more pathetic and young photographed.

And middle-aged maiden ladies and straight-backed school teachers completed the group.

After you had met the two women who were at the head of the movement it was easy to see why it was so many women clung to the cause and made a life work of it. They merely reflected the religious zeal which was undercurrent in the entire organization.

June had no opportunity to meet the head of the party. Jane Worth was already in jail⁠—had already served two months of her sentence of six months and was now with one companion hunger-striking for the rights of political prisoners. The thirty-five women who were about to picket burned to join her, and when it was suggested to them that they hunger strike too, all agreed and ate the cakes of chocolate which they had been accumulating to eke out their prison fare. Jane Worth was a short, brown-eyed young woman of the south who had served her apprenticeship to the suffrage cause with her assistant, Helen Drummond, in London. Both had served jail sentences there and had returned to start a militant party in America.

There was something compelling about Miss Worth’s eyes. It was said around headquarters that she could make a fractious devotee do anything she wished by just looking at her, backing up her steady gaze by a soft argument in a most ladylike tone of voice. June thought at first that these remarks arose from admiration, but the more she saw of the suffragists, the more she realized that it was something more than just admiration in the attitude of her followers towards her. There was a quality of blind adoration.

There was nothing militant about her appearance. On the other hand, her assistant Grace Drummond, tall, deep-chested, red-haired and vigorous, brought with her the atmosphere of combat. She was a type that appealed to June far more than little Miss Worth with her quietly compelling and assured eyes.

There was a story about her which some English friend must have repeated, for she never talked about herself, of a suffrage adventure which she had while she was in London.

She had been appointed by the suffragists as one having more than woman’s usual share of poise, to smuggle herself into a reception given to members of Parliament and their guests and confront Lloyd George and make a speech. A thing which seemed at first thought impossible to do. In the first place it would be difficult to get into the reception as all the doors and windows were guarded against any outbreak of the suffragists. Once in, however, it would be easy enough to confront Lloyd George. The problem then would be to get him to listen to a speech. It wasn’t to be thought that he would stand still and courteously listen to a suffrage appeal.

But Grace Drummond carried out the plan successfully. Enlisting the aid of a tall, broad-shouldered young man, and borrowing the elegant equipage which the people who attend such functions have at their disposal, she dressed in full evening costume and sailed up to the door like a queen. Tickets were expected by the doorkeeper and her companion turned to her.

“Where are the tickets?”

She started to open her bag and then desisted. “But I expressly said that I had left them in your dressing-room,” she replied6 in evident but well-bred irritation.

She lifted her haughty eyebrows, he shrugged, looked at the doorkeeper and smiled as a patient husband will do, and the doorkeeper allowed them to pass.

What followed took more courage. In the midst of the reception when all the guests had arrived, Miss Drummond went quietly up to Lloyd George while her companion took his station directly behind the minister. When she began her little speech which she had been repeating frantically all the way in the cab, the strong young man seized the arms of Lloyd George from behind and held him fast. The minister couldn’t release himself from the iron grip and it would have been most undignified to wriggle. So he stood and listened to what Miss Drummond had to say. Her remarks were short and swift and to the point and no one had time to interfere or do more than stand thunderstruck until the little scene was over. Then miraculously enough, the two were able to get away and the end of the story was that she sat in the cab and wept on the way back to the suffrage headquarters.


This was the woman who was to head the line of picketers and join Miss Worth in jail. Not that the headquarters were to be left without control during the thirty days or six months that the women were in prison. Many were there to carry out the directions and work of the militant party.

The parade began at the close of the late fall day, just at the time when the workers in the government buildings were on their way home from work. It was expected by both police and outsiders that the parade would take place, so the little park across from the White House was crowded with spectators, and the workers did not go directly home, but stood around and waited for the excitement. Many policemen held back the crowd and kept the road clear for the suffragists.

They started out, two by two, with colored ribbons of purple and gold across the bosoms of their dresses and banners in their hands. June was reminded as she walked in the slow and stately procession of the man at the head of the choir in the Episcopalian service who carried the cross. There was a religious flavor about the silent proceeding and a holy light shone on the faces of the suffragists. They forgot at that time the various reasons for joining the demonstration (June felt without doubt that there were various reasons besides that of suffrage, save perhaps in the case of Helen Drummond and those who had been working for the cause for years.)

To get to the White House gates you had to walk halfway round the little park, and as the procession moved forward in groups of six, the bystanders grew in number. There were old women, who cheered, young women whose faces glowed or were apathetic. Men were generally indignant, except perhaps the newspaper reporters, and they were enthusiastic because the suffragists were providing them with so many good stories. Some men shouted, “Shame! In wartime too! Hasn’t the president enough to bother him?” and others hissed. By the time the third contingent reached the gates and took their stand there, small boys were jeering and trying to throw stones and groups of sailors and soldiers had come to the front of the crowd and were trying to wrest the banners from the hands of the prisoners.

The police had been very busy. It was all they could do to keep back the crowd and the little boys slipped between their legs and were unmanageable. But at the sight of the first group of suffragists, patrol wagons had been called for and when June took her place and began wrestling for her banner with a red-faced young sailor, the first one came clanging up the street, pushing its way through the crowd. One by one, the suffragists were passed along a line of policemen to the curb and assisted into the wagon. Their banners would have taken up too much room, so they were piled on the roof. Then the wagon clanged its way out of the crowd and speeded through the streets of Washington to the Central Station, making as much of a demonstration owing to the banners on top of the car, as the parade had been.

All that was required of the women at the police station were their names and addresses and then they were released. Bail had already been provided and trial was set for the following morning at ten o’clock. But the next morning, the judge refused to do anything but pronounce them guilty and postpone sentence.

“He’s afraid to sentence all of us at once,” the suffragists said triumphantly. “We are too much for him!” And they picketed again that afternoon with the same result. Sentence was again postponed.

“We can go on picketing indefinitely,” Miss Drummond pointed out, “but that is not what we want. We wish to be sent to jail because in that way more attention is paid to the cause and it’s more likely there will be results. We’ve got to get to jail and hunger strike, otherwise Miss Worth and Miss Britton will be kept there hunger striking indefinitely. People won’t be worried much at the idea of two women striking for a cause, but when thirty-five go to jail and start a strike, the United States will have to sit up and take notice.”

So there was more picketing that afternoon and when they were asked their names in the police station, they refused to answer or to give bail. The result was that they were sent to a detention home which had no facilities for so many prisoners at once. They slept fifteen in a room which usually held only two and the next morning were again arraigned before the distraught judge.

“Isn’t this fun?” Billy whispered to June when all were being sentenced to from fifteen days to six months in the city jail.

What she was alluding to were the speeches which all the middle-aged school teachers took the opportunity of making as they received their sentences. Their attitude was that of their profession and indeed the judge looked like a miserable small boy who knows he is in the wrong but doesn’t quite know what to do about it. The same judge had acquitted some of these prisoners when they started their militant tactics and now he had to follow the order of someone higher up and send them to jail. He reminded June of her father, with his patient Southern drawl. He seemed to feel that what he was doing was not what a Southern gentleman should do. But without doubt, the women were, as Mr. Henreddy would say, “ornery.”

Both June and Billy were sentenced to a month in jail. Old Mrs. Angell by reason of her years and feebleness was given five days. She stood up bravely and spoke scathingly to the judge and her little speech was almost the only one which June and Billy didn’t snigger at.

Miss Drummond by virtue of being leader of the picketers received six months.

By general consent, the hunger strike started after they had received their sentences. So the scant meal of weak coffee and bread and oatmeal was the last one which they expected until their demands were granted or they were released. Not that they wanted to eat. There was too much excitement around to allow an appetite yet.

For many hours the women had to wait in a little room back of the court and then at four o’clock more things began to happen. Prison wagons were brought, wagons that had only slits along the top for ventilation and were otherwise closed. Two of them sufficed to carry the prisoners to the jail and when they reached that barren institution on the outskirts of the town, backed by a cemetery and surrounded by dreary, bare fields, there was a long halt at the entrance. Evidently there was some hitch in the proceedings. After a low argument at the entrance, an argument which none of the women could hear, the wagons turned away and started off in another direction.

“Well, I’m surprised,” Billy’s pert little voice broke through the darkness. “They don’t seem to want us. We were sentenced to the city jail and I know that there isn’t more than one in Washington.”

“They’re probably taking us out of town to the workhouse,” another woman said in a sepulchral voice, for many stories had been told of what the suffrage prisoners suffered at the hands of the violent keeper there. Talking was carried on in whispers until the two wagons reached the station.

It had been completely black in the prison wagons, but when the thirty-five women were ushered by a number of policewomen into a waiting train which rolled out of the station immediately, the lamps along the roads had not yet been lit.

June pressed her face against the window and watched the blue twilight pierced with the bare black shapes of many scrawny trees. Here and there lamps glowed in the farmhouse windows. In the west the sky still held radiance which gradually faded. It was drearily beautiful at that time of night, and all feeling of excitement dropped from the girl. The eager low voices of the suffragists coming through the noise of the wheels jarred upon her. Billy, sitting across from her also gazed silently out of the window.

“Somehow,” June told her when they reached the little country station which was their destination, “life and struggle seem very tawdry in the twilight. This bleak countryside makes me feel that I should struggle for my soul instead of my political rights.⁠ ⁠… I feel peculiarly small and lonely tonight. I’m glad you’re with me, Billy. We must stick together and probably they’ll put us in the same cell.”

But they weren’t cellmates that first ugly night.

There was more waiting after they had been driven from the railroad station to the administration building of the workhouse. There a matron asked them their names and histories, which all refused to give.

Miss Prindiville, the stately representative of the Philadelphia family, was appointed spokesman and announced to the matron that they wished to speak to the superintendent before they were assigned to their cells. The matron sniffed, turned to her knitting and the thirty-five suffragists found chairs for themselves and prepared to wait. It wasn’t until ten o’clock that Morrison appeared upon the scene.

He entered the room like a storm cloud, leaving the door open on the large porch outside, from which came the sounds of shuffling feet and expectant coughs.

“We wish to announce a hunger strike unless⁠—” but Miss Prindiville was allowed no further words. Morrison turned to the door and beckoned and immediately the room was filled with men, two of whom seized the elderly lady under the arms and giving her no chance to accompany them voluntarily, lifted her out of the room. As she was pulled backwards through the door, she looked like the stiff figure of a dressmaker’s dummy. Billy laughed hysterically and was immediately seized in her turn.

June made an instinctive movement to join her and was grabbed at by Morrison who stood there blazing triumphantly. As he reached his hand towards her she struck at him contemptuously and she had the satisfaction of seeing him start back and swear viciously before she found two men holding her fast by either arm. She had the feeling of being lifted, carried over the porch and along the path, before she felt her feet dragging on firm ground.

“I’m perfectly capable of walking,” she told them fiercely. But they held her the more tightly, so she vented her wrath by kicking them on the shins whenever she had the chance.

They passed many white buildings gleaming in the darkness before they entered a bare stone building smelling strongly of steam heat and dampness and antiseptic. There on the other side of the room she saw Billy, sitting very straight on a bench which ran around the room and chatting brightly with her guards who tried hard to remain grim and unsmiling. June retained an antagonistic attitude and when she got up from her bench and started to walk to her friend on the other side of the room, she was pounced upon by not only her own guards but two more and pulled this way and that until she finally found herself at the bench she had set out for. She had little consciousness of struggling, but dimly, through the restraining arms, she heard a suffragist (even in that moment she identified her as one of the school teachers) screaming and futilely trying to pluck off one of her captors, which merely served to make them cling the more. Billy was laughing again, not hysterically but with wholehearted enjoyment. June was too mad to laugh, but she knew she was grinning, grinning as she had seen David grin as a small boy when he was giving and receiving hard blows, a grin of pure wrath.

And then she was shuffled into a cell and the gate clanged on her and she breathed a sigh of relief.

“My dear child, are you hurt in any way? And isn’t this splendid? It’s the worst treatment the suffragists have had yet and with all the influential women we’ve got in here with us, the newspapers won’t stand for it. They’ve been pretty hostile so far, but now they’ll have to protest.”

And June turned to find Helen Drummond straightening her disordered hair and dress.

“It reminds me of a stiff hockey game,” June said, “when the other side plays dirty,” and she too straightened her middy and felt tenderly of her arms and legs.

One by one, the suffragists were being led past the cell door and placed in cells along the corridor. Miss Drummond called to each as they passed, asking them if they were all right and trying to find out what had become of all her thirty-four charges.

And while she talked, Morrison stood at the door, his black eyes burning and his grey hair disheveled and threatened her with the straightjacket, a gag, handcuffs⁠—whatever he could think of. But he received no attention whatever and wrathfully ordered the guard to bring the bracelets and chain her arms high to the door of the cell. Which was done, much to Miss Drummond’s satisfaction.

“Splendid,” she murmured to June, her eyes shining. “It gets worse and worse.” She was almost disappointed when an hour later the old guard who had obeyed Morrison’s orders, shuffled quietly to their cell and unlocked the cuffs around her numb wrists.

“Got to keep ’em on all night, I’m sorry, Miss,” he said. “I call it a shame the way that old brute⁠—” and he went away mumbling to himself.

“Well, child, you’ll just have to help me off with my shoes and you’ll find two blankets over there in the corner. They’re filthy, but we can’t sleep without covers in this dampness. Do you suppose we can squeeze up together on that little slab?”

A slab was all it was and obviously meant for only one person. But Miss Drummond and June both being very slim, were able to stretch out on one of the coarse thick blankets which they had spread beneath them and keeping the other one well away from their faces, tried to rest.

And ever after that night, June loved the memory of Helen Drummond, not because she was a suffragist, but because she didn’t talk of it at a time when it was quite pardonable to talk of nothing else. It was Conrad’s novels and travelling and the spell of the sea which they talked of until they fell asleep which was very shortly, for both had the healthy weariness of youth which enabled the one to sleep in spite of handcuffs and the other in spite of continuous fear of falling off the narrow ledge on which she was poised.

They were awakened by a guard who came to the cell in the early morning to lead Miss Drummond away to what June afterwards learned was a padded cell reserved for delirium tremens patients. Not that any such slight matter could disturb her nerve.

All the long morning, June lay there on her stiff blankets waiting for something to happen, and nothing happened. Guards were stationed at the end of the corridor and when any of the women tried to call to each other, they were immediately silenced harshly. There was a disagreeable feeling of suspense in the air, and the suffragists worn out with the excitement of the day before, remained silent. Through the narrow ventilators at the top of the rear wall of the cell, the sun shone dimly for a time and then disappeared. But there was a remaining brightness which allowed June to examine her surroundings.

It was a small, square stone room with an opening into the corridor which was barred. At night the guards hung blankets from the outside to keep out the light from the electric lamp in the middle of the hall.

There was a straw mattress flung in one corner which the two women had not noticed the night before. This June put on the bunk which had been built in one side of the cell and covered with one of her blankets. At that, it was anything but comfortable. There was nothing else in the cell, which was scantily heated by a pipe which ran through one wall.

Towards noon, June judged it must be noon because the sun had disappeared from the slit at the back of her cell, the guard came and told her she was allowed to wash and she accompanied him thankfully to a toilet room at the other end of the building.

And her oppression lifted for a moment when she saw Billy being led out of her cell at the same time, evidently for the same purpose. There was just time for a few moments whispered conversation while the two guards waited outside the washroom door.

“They’ve taken all the older women somewhere else,” Billy told her “and there’s just six of the youngest left here. These are the punishment cells and I guess they think we can stand it better than the old ladies.”

“We’ll probably all get pneumonia,” June said cheerfully. “This is worse than I thought it could possibly be. I’m aching with the cold and starving besides. How would you like to have a big steak from Brown’s Chop House?”

“Shut up, for goodness’ sake. Look, I slipped a couple of pencils in my shoe and some paper down the front of my dress. I’ve been drawing cartoons of Morrison all morning. If I only had some pins or something, I’d hang them on the wall for his approval when he makes his rounds.”

June accepted her friend’s offer to share the paper and take one of the pencils.

“I’ve gone through every pocket I have and only found a nail file and three handkerchiefs and I’ve been driven to making rag dolls as I did in school when I was bored to death.”

“I’m two cells away from you,” Billy said. “Get close to your door and holler to me whenever you want to. I’m not afraid of their old gags.”

There was no time for more than this for the guards were indelicately pounding at the door, and Billy just as indelicately irritating them by calling “come in,” which they could not do with the door locked. However, the girls thought it best to obey, fearing that the two men would vent their anger on the others when they were brought to wash, and went back quietly to their cells.

Somehow the afternoon passed and twilight fell, and the lights in the corridor were lit and shut out by blankets hung at the bars. And surprisingly enough, June fell asleep immediately, worn out by hunger and the aftermath of excitement and slept until late the following morning.

She woke cheerfully to the sound of Billy singing at the top of her lungs. She had no voice and evidently little sentiment, for the song was one of the Indian Love Lyrics, “Less than the dust beneath thy chariot wheels.”

“Stop that noise,” one of the guards bawled.

“Don’t you like it?” she asked them gently. “Maybe this one is better,” and she warbled a popular tune. But as soon as the men ceased to protest, she seemed to lose interest in music and there was silence again.

June had no opportunity to talk to her friend when they went to wash that morning. The prisoners were taken out one by one and locked in their cells before the next one’s return came in order that they might not pass in the corridor.

At noon the prisoners were offered milk and toast, but refused to touch what was brought to them. An hour later it was taken away and the ceremony was repeated that night. The guards did not bring the same milk and toast that had been refused that noon. No, it was piping hot and gave forth a most delicate odor through the damp smelliness of the cell. It was a refinement of torture.

“It’s a great temptation,” one of the girls called out, “but it’s much easier when you remember that if we once start to eat, we’ll go back immediately to prison fare and the work room. Remember the worms in the oatmeal!” Evidently she was one of those who had served sentence before.

And the third day of the hunger strike ended, drearily.

The vague greyness all about her became unspeakably depressing to June. The bar of gold which the sun left on the ceiling every morning for a short hour taunted her; and late in the afternoon when the cells were dim and the lights in the corridor were not yet lit, a heartbreaking conviction of the ugliness and futility of life came over her so that she could not cry, but only lie there in blank-eyed misery.

She lost all feeling of her own identity. She was no longer June Henreddy who regarded the obstacles of life as things to be met with a lifted chin and a smile. She could not throw back her head and shrug her shoulders and cast pain from her. A dull weight of it had descended upon her, the weight of the sorrow of all the world.

She thought of the little street girls she had known and talked and laughed with at Miss Prince’s home. She thought of the months they had sat in cells and ugly work rooms of prisons before they were sent to Miss Prince. What was there to look back on in life and what was there to look forward to?

She remembered the stories she had heard before she came to the workhouse of how Morrison had treated the prisoners handed over to him. The prison was one of the most modern. It was built on the cottage plan and men and women worked in the fields or sat at machines and sewed. Yet here were these solitary confinement cells, more bleak and barbarous than she could have imagined such cells could be. And there were stories of prisoners left in them for six months at a time. Six months! And thirty days stretched out before her interminable in their length. She would be utterly crushed by misery before she was released. There were stories too of a whipping-post, and bloodhounds wandering through the grounds to terrorize the prisoners. These things had been sworn to before a notary public by a former matron of the workhouse and the superintendent had not taken the trouble to deny them.

And June lay there, passively enduring, after forcing her way into jail with thirty-seven other women⁠—all in order that the papers might give the cause publicity and make the public think about suffrage. She could not realize what good suffrage would do when it came. Prisons had been undergoing a process of reform for a good many years and they would continue to be reformed until all prisons were abolished. Then Miss Prince’s dream would come true.

The ultimate idea of the women who were at the head of the Birth Control Movement was the same. They alleviated conditions by starting a clinic and teaching women how to limit their families to the number they could afford to care for.

But many of the women who belonged to the suffrage party didn’t believe in birth control, women in the birth control movement sniffed at the militant tactics of the suffragists, and both thought that Miss Prince’s work to help street women futile. While Miss Prince in turn disapproved of both birth control and militant suffrage and was in favor of the war. And pacifist women sniffed at the others. If they would only work together! But each group worked for its own end and ignored all others when they were not in active opposition to them.

The war entered too in June’s survey of life. Most women were blindly patriotic and accepted the idea of war without knowing what war was. Everybody agreed that wars must end but as long as women who did none of the fighting entered into the idea of war with more than masculine enthusiasm, fighting would go on forever.

What was needed was a radical party whose platform would include such planks as birth control, pacifism, suffrage. You might as well indulge in the dreams of the Utopians and ignore the present day.

Meanwhile the incomplete and sullen silence of the place was broken by the far-off squealing of pigs at their evening meal, by the twitter of a sparrow just outside the ventilator, an occasional shuffle from a cell along the corridor as someone turned on her straw mattress.

These suppressed sounds tortured June. But worst of all were the hurrying footsteps. They were never moderate or leisurely or happy or complacent. Even the slowest of them hurried in a drugged sort of way.

If she could only detach them from the crowding thoughts of her mind. If she could only set them apart for what they were as she could the twitter of a bird. But do what she would they aroused a frantic feeling. A rush of thought, of expectancy came with them. She knew that something was about to happen; she hoped with all her heart that something would happen. And then nothing happened.

She had not realized before how grey footsteps could be. When she went to the bars of the cell to ask the guard for a glass of water she suddenly realized that her footsteps were as grey as his.

That night heavy dreams came upon her. She could remember few of them afterward, but there was one that aroused her trembling with perspiration and shaking all over. She had been in a theatre where a benefit performance was about to be given to a crowd of little children from a house of correction. They filled the main floor and the balcony and were chatteringly expectant. No one tried to keep them quiet and it was an ominous leniency.

When the actors came on and the play began a dread silence came on the young audience and whimperings of fear. For the players wore frightful death masks and were crippled and gruesome in body. One little child in the balcony gave a sudden shriek as he leaned over the railing and then as suddenly died. His limp body hurtled down on the children below and June’s horror awakened her.

The cry seemed to ring in her ears still and the darkness fell against her so oppressively that she felt she could push it away with her hands.

There were other nightmares which came to her those nights of the hunger strike. One she had several times in her childhood and her mother had always come to her bedside to hold her hand until she fell asleep again. Somewhere, it seemed, someone was making cake batter in a huge bowl and the beating began far off in the distance and became louder and louder until she was totally surrounded by the hideous clamor and wrested herself from sleep.

Harder to shake from her was the feeling which came to her as she was about to drop into a doze. She felt herself swelling larger and larger and nothing would dispel the impression until she sat straight up in bed and pinched at herself to keep awake.

She lay and sobbed finally at the futility of trying either to sleep or to remain awake.

For five days the toast and warm milk was brought to the cell three times a day, and three times a day it was taken away. If you drank all the hot water you could when you were led tottering to the washroom at the end of the corridor and then clamored all the rest of the day for more hot water, you could get rid of the empty feeling. The hunger wasn’t so bad, it was the dimness and the cold.

One of the Christian Scientists asked the guard for a Bible and Bibles were passed around to all of them.

“Know the truth, Betty dear,” one of them called out to her sister and the other one said, “Yes, I’m reading the ninety-first psalm.”

June tried to memorize it but the verses became strangely jumbled. Occasionally Billy piped out at her and sometimes she sang. June blessed her.

The sixth day came with hurrying footsteps and this time something happened. The six girls who remained in the punishment cells received visits from no less than three doctors and later in the day were taken out into the cool, crisp autumn day where they could see the sun setting over the woods at one side of the colony.

Their new quarters were in the hospital building where the rest of the women had been confined and owing to lack of room, two were put in each narrow room. Billy and June were together, and there were no nightmares that night. Whenever they pleased they were allowed out of their rooms by the matron who sat sewing in the warm hall and two by two they could go down to the shower room at the end of the hall and bathe and drink all the water they wished.

And the next day the strike was broken by the announcement that in a few days they would be transferred to the jail where they should have been received in the first place. Their clothes were returned to them and the chubby-faced matron and white-clad intern tried to provide them all with books and magazines.


The remaining days were marked by delicious but hardly satisfying meals of milk, toast and finally a chicken dinner. Then the thirty-five prisoners were piled into touring cars and driven to Washington through the invigorating air with a smell of snow in it. It was the first week in November and the woods still glowed in spots and the sun was warm.

“The Washington jail is a joke,” said Billy. “In fact the whole thing is a joke, now that we’ve got out of those damnable punishment cells. Notice the protesting way they accept us when we came this afternoon?”

“They’ve certainly granted our demands to be treated as political prisoners,” June agreed, “even though they haven’t formally announced the fact. I’ve been put on a diet of four eggs and a quart of milk a day and given permission to buy all the fruit I want. And this morning I received a package of letters from my admirers, all unopened and I have four books to read.”

The cell that had been assigned to the two⁠—or rather which they had chosen for themselves, for they had been turned loose in the female section and allowed to choose from three tiers of cells⁠—was on the top tier and furthest from the matron’s prying eye. There was more air there, too, for the high windows which stretched from the first to the third tier were kept open at the top by the request of the suffragists, a request which was granted after previous skirmishes. The first prisoners who had come to the Washington jail had broken the windows with whatever there was at hand to throw when the matron refused to keep them open. Also they had been kept locked in their cells while the present thirty-five were allowed freedom to wander around the female quarters from eight o’clock in the morning until eight at night. Then the gates clanged and the lights went out and all you could do was lie in bed and talk.

On the other side of the female quarter were the cells for colored prisoners, most of whom worked around the jail. There were three girls awaiting trial for murder and many who had been arrested for disorderly conduct and drunkenness. They kept up their chatter after eight o’clock at night and giggled and sang and quarreled, laughing at the matron who puffed up and down the steps to quiet them.

Before the gates were closed and the work for the day was over there were card games on the third tier while one darky kept a lookout for the matron; and shimmy dances up and down the corridor while a row of black faces gleamed along the line and hands beat time to the steps of the dancers.

Saturday night the six tubs at the end of the corridor⁠—the suffragists could not bathe because the same tubs were used by the colored girls⁠—were filled again and again and there was a steady tumult while the girls scrubbed and primped and bound their hair down around their heads in order that it would be straight for the next day.

For Sunday was the one day in the entire week that they caught a glimpse of a man. There were two services held during the day, and both times, the two balconies on either side of the auditorium were filled. Hundreds joined in the melancholy hymns. The men and women were separated by the width of the little hall, but during the two hours of worship they sat there casting hungry eyes at each other. June saw sex and felt it at its crudest and was stirred by it, yet somehow disgusted that the excitement should affect her.

And that night the dances of the colored girls were wilder than usual and they quarreled more viciously than ever, before the three tiers of cells were finally silent.


The days passed, each one like the other. Billy drew pictures of the colored girls dancing in their shifts, and June as she appeared when descending from her upper bunk in the morning. June read Fortitude by Walpole and somehow regained the personal consciousness which she had lost at the workhouse. Life ceased to seem so futile and all endeavor regained a semblance of nobility.

“I begin to feel as though it were about time I did something,” she told Billy.

“What do you mean ‘do something’?” Billy asked, looking up from the free verse poem she was writing to a former lover. It was her twelfth and she said she was going to write a book of them.

“Sitting in the solitary confinement cell for five days has made me think⁠—made me want to perform some useful labor instead of frittering away my time as I have been doing. I want to really and honestly work.” (June had a feeling that split infinitives were emphatic and used them as writers do italics.)

“I should say you have been working,” her friend assured her. “Goodness, I’ve never held down a regular job in my whole life and I can’t really consider my drawing useful in the world of art.”

“Very few people we know do anything useful except those who write good books and they are few. I can’t think of more than two or three artists who are serious in their work and as for newspaper reporters, they are the most useless creatures in the world. They get a lot of fun out of life, but they don’t advance themselves or develop much.

“I’d feel as though I were of some use in the world if I believed in socialism or if I thought by working for the birth control league or suffragists I could benefit the world in some way. But I don’t feel that any of these things are solutions and if I worked among these people with their single-track minds, I’d go crazy. I’m ignorant and I feel that all these people with their causes are one-sided. I either want to retire from the world and study for the sake of acquiring wisdom or else I want to do something simple and useful.”

“I shall throw myself screaming against the bars unless you stop talking of the simple and useful life,” Billy complained and June shut up.

But some yeast of revolt was in her and it continued to work, even after Winkham, the warden, came into their midst on the sixteenth day and waved a release in their faces.

“A pardon signed by the president,” he cried joyfully. “Now you’ll all be home to eat Thanksgiving dinners,” for he was a jolly soul.

“But we don’t wish a pardon,” Miss Drummond said stonily. “We have committed no crime to be pardoned for.”

“Just the same, out you go,” and the little fat man almost danced in his glee. “If you don’t go out, I’ll have you all put out, so better pack up your things.”

That was how the jail experience ended and when it was over June and Billy hastened to the best restaurant in town and resumed smoking cigarettes which somehow had the flavor of meringue.

“I can’t feel that I have done a very useful thing by going to jail for sixteen days,” she complained. “And when suffrage comes I won’t feel as though I had been instrumental in making it come. We are bound to have it sooner or later and how the government is going to be anything more than irritated by the disturbance of the militant party when it has an impressive war on its hands is more than I can see.”

“At any rate this is the best roast duck I have ever tasted,” Billy comforted her, “and we leave tonight for New York.”

Part III

Not So Much So

I

Mother Grace thought that it would be tactless to show her enthusiasm for what June was about to do. If she showed the happiness she felt, she thought it would reveal to June her disapproval of what her daughter had done before.

“As for those three boys, Hugh and Daniel and Kenneth⁠—they’re perfect dears. And the apartment is a lovely one. I don’t blame you for preferring it to a furnished room,” she had said. “Of course your friends think nothing of it and neither do their friends. But think of the world. Not your world, I suppose, but my world. If any of my friends ask ‘where’s June living now’ and I say, nonchalantly, ‘with three men over on Waverly Place’⁠—what do you suppose they’ll think? Not that I’m likely to answer them in any such way.”

She wrinkled her eyebrows considerably over the jail episode and June noticed the little pucker of worry with remorse. “I am a brute,” she thought, “to make her worry so.” And she continued to fret over the inconsequentiality of her life. “Am I going to continue frittering my time away?”

As for the youngest member of the family, he gloated over his sister’s recent confinement. He sat on the front steps and informed all the children in the neighborhood of it. “My sister’s been to jail,” he boasted.

“We mustn’t talk of June in front of Glubb,” Mother Grace told Adele in despair. “He only goes out and repeats it to the children and they take the news home to their families. They think I’m the most unnatural mother, not to take better care of my children.”

And then June came with a letter to show her mother, applying for admittance to the city hospital. Her mother hid her approval as carefully as she hid her disapproval and asked her if she was about to become patriotic.

“Not a bit of it,” said June indignantly. “I don’t believe in war and I really think that if women united and refused to bear children to fight wars or to take care of the wounded as long as there are wars we’d never have any more fighting. But I hate being Utopian and trying to escape from reality. And now that there is war and so much work to be done, I might as well try to do some of it instead of sitting around playing at writing book reviews and helping edit magazines that are on the verge of suppression. That’s the only kind of a job that I’m fit for.⁠ ⁠… And I’ve had enough of newspaper work. I’d be sacrificing principles to work on the capitalist press even if I could get a job on one of the New York papers which I can’t. And if I’m going to sacrifice the foolish little principles that I have in looking forward to an ideal state, I might as well sacrifice them by doing work that has to be done in a hospital.”

“I don’t know what in the world you are talking about when you say you are sacrificing principle to enter a hospital,” said Mother Grace. “But you always have to have some high-flown reason for what you do, I suppose.”

“I expect I don’t know what I mean, either,” June agreed amiably. “I just know that I don’t believe in war and that by entering a hospital I am doing my share in the war.

“At any rate, the prospectus of the training school calls for six pink uniforms (that’s what probationers wear and I look like hell in pink) and a dozen aprons. Will you stake me to the money to buy them? I’m broke.”


“By the way, Mother Grace,” said Adele, not long afterward. “Do you realize that I’m eighteen?”

“Goodness gracious, so you are. I guess it’s about time that you began to talk of living your own life and getting out in the world.” And they smiled to each other as they often did when they were making pleasant fun of June.

“I know what you’re thinking of,” said June. “You want to enter the hospital with me.”

“You’ve still got Glubb,” and Adele looked at her mother appealingly. “I’ve got to do something, some time. And they need nurses so badly now. Not to go abroad, but to stay at home and serve in the hospitals here. The Red Cross is full and they haven’t sent abroad anywhere near all the nurses they have in reserve. They just sit around doing nothing or parade Fifth Avenue while they wait to get across. And meantime the hospitals are terribly hard up for help.”

Mother Grace had long expected her youngest daughter to realize her eighteen years. Since the hospital the two girls wished to enter was within twenty minutes’ ride of home, it was easier to give up the last of her grown ups than she had thought possible.

It was decided that the two should begin training after Christmas and many afternoons were spent in making pink dresses and voluminous white aprons.


“I did not dream bed-making could be so hard,” Adele sighed at the end of the first day and stretched her lame body luxuriously. “If it weren’t for you being here, I’d want to cry and go straight home. How many times did you have to put the bottom sheet on your bed? I didn’t get mine right until the tenth time.”

“I did mine satisfactorily the seventh,” June laughed. “But then I’m two years older than you are, so I can’t help being smarter.”

Bed-making was a difficult job. First you whisked the mattress⁠—away from you lest you get a germ on your clean white apron⁠—and turned it and whisked some more. Then you whisked a carbolic solution over each side of the mattress and washed the remainder of the bed till there wasn’t a speck of dust on it. You did this to six beds before you returned to the beginning of the line to make the first one.

The sheets were folded in a certain way so that they could be unfolded and spread out on the bed in a certain way. There was no flapping open as you did at home with a sheet or tablecloth to spread it smoothly. That might disturb germs that were in the air and set them in circulation.

After the sheet was smoothed out on the bed, you tucked in one side, tucking with broad sweeps from the middle. Then you went around to the other side and the sheet was so wide that when you tucked it there, you tucked that side so that it fitted into the other, as an envelop flap fits inside of an envelope. At either end what was left over of the sheet on the underside of the mattress was inserted under the sheet on the upper side of the mattress, was folded to form a flap and pinned carefully and neatly with two straight pins to the mattress. There was a certain way of putting in the pins too. You see what a difficult job it was.

And you see also what June and Adele meant when they said they had to make the bed seven and ten times before the head nurse was satisfied. It was very discouraging to put the sheet on to the best of your ability and then have the head nurse come along and point out several wrinkles. Wrinkles, it would seem, were very irritating to sick people.

When you had been told to try again, off the sheet had to come. Not quickly. You didn’t just take out the pins and pull the sheet off and begin laboriously to put it on again. No, it had to be folded as it was taken off, and unfolded again to put it on. So many times that you could never forget how hospital linen was folded.

Making a bed, June decided, was much more difficult than writing a book review, and her satisfaction when her bed had been made for the seventh time and approved was much greater than she had enjoyed when seeing a book review in print with her name signed to it.

June and Adele worked in an empty ward. A wide door opened into another ward from which every now and then came the hot, sharp cry of a patient. It was good to be working there. There was even a strange satisfaction in hearing a patient cry because when the cries were stilled you knew that something useful had been done.

Miss Kelley was the probationers’ instructor. She was a little white-faced nurse with prim firm ways. Her eyes were large and intensely serious, the color of an ocean on a dull winter day. Her hair was mouse colored. She was sweetly firm and could be very forceful. June heard her voice from behind a screen, calming an hysterical patient. “Turn right over on your side now and let the nurse attend to you! The idea of your making all this trouble!” There was quiet immediately.

There was the same insistence in the touch of her hands. She was not strong but she could move the helpless bulk of a woman who weighed three times as much as she did. Strength seemed to pour from her fingertips into a patient.

When, after several days of bed-making, June gave her first morning toilet, she felt that it was an event and an accomplishment. Before you could give a morning toilet, you had to be given a tray with many bottles and sponges and toilet articles on it. Trays were fascinating with the little jars of salve and swabs and bandages and liquid green soap and mouthwash⁠—many more things. You had to go over your tray every morning to see that the other nurses did not steal things from it.

June’s first patient was an old Canadian woman, ninety-four years old. Granny objected to being washed saying that she had been bathed the day before and that at her time of life she did not see why she had to be pestered with soap and water the way she was. Argument was useless so she began to kick and fight, clawing at June with birdlike hands.

Another nurse said, “Can’t you see, Granny, that Miss Henreddy only wants to make you comfortable? She does it because she loves you.”

“Love be damned,” said Granny, loudly, stridently. Her defiance was glorious, June thought, and she laughed joyfully as she put her hands under the armpits of the old lady and tried to persuade her to lie down. In the scuffle the bedclothes had been heaped in the middle of the bed. Granny perched there, sitting on the end of her spine, her arms clasped about her bare and scrawny knees and blazed at June with eyes as dark as those of a baby. Her cap hung over one ear, displaying a large bald spot surrounded by a queer fringe of grey hair which was matted and awry, standing up like a field of ferns. She gave way to June at last and allowed herself to be bathed, crying to herself all the while like a whimpering monkey. The ghastly youthfulness of her false teeth in her yellow shrivelled face haunted June for the rest of the day.

“She has been crying for months,” another nurse told June, “to be allowed to wear a wig which was taken away from her when she entered the hospital. She says she wouldn’t feel half so badly with it. I wish they would let her have it.”

There were two women dying in the ward, a woman of fifty and a girl of twenty-two. Mary Adams was slowly fading from the whiteness of the ward around her into a grey shadow on the long slim bed. She had a grown son who came to visit her every evening when the wards were twilit and the evening toilets were completed. He brought huge bunches of flowers which the head nurse vaguely disapproved of. “They are too flary.” But the orchids suited her somber eyes and the mint and old-fashioned flowers made a strange rich scent around the bed, Every time June passed her, a little thrill ran up and down her spine. Mrs. Adams never spoke but lay there motionless, looking out of wide open grey eyes, looking at the death she saw so plainly with dull wonder.

Irene was the girl and she was pathetically young. Her finely shaped mouth was always contorted with pain and there was a fierce protesting light in her eyes. The lines that agony had drawn in the ivory of her skin were like those of passion. She might have been clutching a lover in a last embrace knowing that when he arose from the bed he would go out and close the door forever.

“There is the smell of death around her,” June thought, “and no one brings her flowers to deaden it.”

When Adele was working in a ward where there were six girls who were about to have their tonsils taken out, June was passed on to the fracture ward, number twenty-five. There were eleven old ladies there with fractures of the femur and hip bones. The most youthful of them were sixty and close on to seventy years. They approached the elderly stage when they were eighty and when they passed ninety-five, it was admitted that they were indeed old.

It seemed strange at first to call them by their Christian names but it was the custom of the hospital and June soon became used to it.

Ida, a young Jewish woman of sixty, was a trial to June. It seemed she had never known the meaning of the word bath and when she was washed on her arrival she howled so that a young intern rushed in thinking that she had been taken with labor pains. Her features were colossal, well carved and wrinkled like a crumpled linen handkerchief. She had become so used to contorting every feature to give vent to her emotions that now her face was as uncontrolled as that of a six year old child.

Every morning June had to bathe her from head to foot, rub her back with alcohol, powder her and comb her hair. And soon Ida was so accustomed to being waited on that although she was no longer helpless, she wailed loudly if any detail of her morning toilet was omitted.

Schmeer! Mit alcohol!” she demanded, arching her back from the bed. She could not turn, owing to the splint which bound her on one side from her shoulder to her ankle.

Her sensuous joy was so great that all the while she was being groomed and curried, she grunted like an enormous pig. Before she had been in the ward a week, she demanded that each leg, each arm, be also rubbed with alcohol.

Occasionally, the ward maid, Catherine, “did” her morning toilet, and to avoid the boisterous argument which Ida always indulged in and to save the alcohol, she took to rubbing her arms and legs with a weak solution of thymol and water. Ida soon discovered the deception and seizing the bottle, she dashed it on the floor. After that she could no longer be deceived. Before she allowed herself to be rubbed, she smelled the contents of the bottle.

Although she was physically clean, thanks to June’s efforts, her habits remained filthy. On visiting days, she furtively accepted the food which her relatives brought her, and which was not supposed to be left at the bedside of the patient, and hid it under her mattress, her pillow, under her arms, and even between her splint and her body under the bandages. Then knowing that she had only a few hours before she would again be bathed, she applied herself assiduously to the food which was brought to her until every crumb was devoured. “Ei, ei, gevault, gevault, gevault,” she complained if anyone tried to take her food away from her.

Usually her relatives, who came in tribes and draped themselves around the bed to ei-gevault with her over the miseries of the world, brought her prunes. They came in quart jars, twice a week, and after drinking all the juice out of the bottle, Ida munched the prunes all night, eating them as continually and with as unalloyed delight as a debutante would salted almonds.

There were times in the sweet dusk of evening when she had been “schmeered” with alcohol to her heart’s content that she showed a gentler side. Her ei-gevaults gave way to a melancholy chanting, a chanting that was also joyous. One time when she was softly and exultantly wailing, June asked another Jewish woman in the ward what she was singing about. The reply was that she was “talking to God.”

There was another in the ward who was almost as much trouble as “Ei-gevault.” The nurse called her “Oh-a, Oh-a” because she cried continually. She was the one Irishwoman there who did not bear her pains stoically. Approaching death had loosened the bolts she had placed on her consciousness. Although she was seventy, she had a beautiful body, as white and firm as that of a young girl. She paid for her delicacy however, for every inch of her was alive to sensation and responded to the pain in her broken hip. She seemed burned by an inward fever and was always calling for water.

“I’m scaldin’, Nellie, and achin’. Bring me some water in the tin cup, in the little tin cup by the pump!” Glasses did not satisfy her thirst, so June bought a tin cup for her. “It tastes so good and cold,” said Oh-a, Oh-a.

June’s special pet was Sarah Lauthier, a tiny little lady of ninety-six. June was Margaret to her and anyone who made a noise was Willie. On one occasion, five nurses and a doctor were strapping a delirious, screaming patient into the bed next to her and consciousness of the tumult gradually sifted into her mind. “Willie!” she piped up. “Don’t make so much noise. The neighbors will think we keep a disorderly house.”

June loved Willie, her cubby great-grand-child of ten. He came twice a week with bottles of orange juice and sat by her bedside. When he had been at her side for an hour, she realized that he was there, and chirped at him happily. He always stayed for two hours, holding her hand, and never seemed oppressed by the sickness around him.

For a time June almost succumbed to the temptation to break one of the most stringent of the hospital rules. Sarah was continually beckoning to her and whispering slyly in her ear, “You know what I want,” or “Wouldn’t a wee drop of gin taste good.” And then June discovered that little Willie was bringing her something that strongly resembled a Bronx cocktail, judging by the smell of it. After that she was careful that Granny’s orange juice was not confused with the orange juice of other patients and that she got every drop of it.

Every morning when June arrived on the ward, she found the little old woman, lying naked. It was evident that she could not endure being wet and tore off her sheets and nightgown so that the warm air could dry her. Her withered, crooked body was like that of Rodin’s ancient courtesan.

At times her years dropped from her and she coquetted with June adorably. She had the sweetest grin and the wickedest wink. And there was a tiny dimple still left in one cheek when she laughed her silent laugh.

One evening June found her trying to sew with her large brass cross at the end of a rosary. “What are you trying to do, Granny?” She was swearing softly to herself now and then.

“Can’t you see I’m trying to make a buttonhole, you damn fool? The needle won’t go through. How can I keep warm without a buttonhole in my gowns?”

And then Lora McAlister was carried into the ward and all its sordid ugliness was lightened and relieved. Lora was twenty-eight, a widow, with auburn hair and brown eyes. The floor man, an ex-patient, found much to do in the neighborhood and wandered around singing under his breath. June caught a few lines of a tuneless ballad once⁠—“He placed his hand upon her knee. She said, ‘my man, you’re mighty free’⁠—” and then he caught sight of her and the song died away in his throat. The doctors haunted the ward and other patients were deluged with attentions. The three men who were with Lora when the automobile accident occurred which resulted in her broken hip obtained special permission to call at the hospital to see her every afternoon, and the ward was beautiful with flowers and plants.

In spite of her injuries which were severe, she threw off her lethargy and powdered and primped and sewed ribbons on her night dress and sang until the ward was aglow and the up-patients in the corridor stopped their chattering to listen. The sixty and seventy year old women became conscious of their sex and were more willing to have their faces washed. They gave June quarters to buy them sweet-smelling talcums and relatives appeared with dainty night dresses for them.

June had been in the hospital six months when she was transferred to the male medical ward. She was glad to leave her old ladies for Sarah Lauthier was about to die. She did not want to see her dead. So she got permission to perform Granny’s morning toilet for the last time and after gathering up her flung-out wet clothes around the bed, fastening the old lady securely in a dry unbleached muslin night gown, tucking her in tightly, and leaving a little kiss on the tiny dimple in her cheek, she rushed breathlessly to the male building at the other end of the grounds.

Ward fifty-four was a strange, wild place. June and Miss Andrews, a capable young Irish girl who was two months June’s senior in training, were alone in the ward from seven o’clock in the morning until seven in the evening, save for the visits of the doctors and interns and the much to be dreaded superintendent of nurses. The head nurse of the ward was busy most of the day in the ward above and when she came, she came to help not to criticize. It was the superintendent who stood sternly at the end of the room and let her eye travel down the long ward for some disorder or carelessness. It was hard not to be careless at this time too, for an influenza epidemic had broken out over the city and every day eight to ten victims were carried in or walked in staggeringly, only to fall unconscious as soon as their clothes were taken from them.

According to the superintendent every ward in the hospital should be in order by ten o’clock; but to get the work underway, June and Miss Andrews did without their breakfasts in the nurses’ dining-room and arrived on the ward at six-thirty.

However, Red Reynolds who used to keep a saloon on Coney Island and was at present the kitchen-man, prepared an excellent breakfast of toast, soft boiled eggs and coffee. While June ate, Miss Andrews worked and kept a lookout for head nurses (it being against the rule to eat on the ward) and June did the same for her.

The up-patients were already at work when the girls arrived, sweeping, polishing brass, getting the linen in order and helping other more miserable up-patients into their wheelchairs. The latter were trundled out into the solarium where they sat all day and chewed tobacco and gossiped of wine, women and war and occasionally of God. Sometimes you could hear the cracked voice of an old sailor trying to sing a barroom song or the booming voice of the old German who was almost ossified, singing a hymn.

June’s first task was to pour out the medicine for a hundred patients, a task demanding concentration and a steady hand. When she first started pouring, she continued pouring in her dreams every night, until she was able to associate every patient with the medicine which he took. For instance, whenever she saw Sullivan, her brain immediately flashed:

There were almost as many medicines for each patient, and the entire dose was handed out in one glass regardless of chemical combinations. The convalescent patients greeted June hilariously as she came bringing them what they called their cocktails and bracers.

It took two hours to pour and chart the medicines. All the while June stood at the glass medicine cabinet in the center of the ward, Philip, a handsome elderly man in the bed opposite to her, leisurely selected and picked (with apparently great discrimination) a large bouquet of flowers from the air, each one of which he sniffed with enjoyment before adding it to the bunch in his hand. This he presented to June with a courteous, grave smile, when she brought him his medicine, and she thanked him with equal gravity and ceremony and arranged them in an imaginary vase on her medicine tray. One time she noticed him pulling with a great deal of effort at what must have been a goldenrod, it was so hard to separate it from its stalk.

“If you try to break it, instead of tearing at it,” said the man in the next bed kindly, “maybe you’ll get it off.”

There was another patient, a laundryman, with a red haggard face and burning eyes, who took off his bedclothes, one by one and fed them into an ironing machine. Even his nightshirt was sacrificed in the stress of his delusion, and wearily, again and again, June clothed him, and bound him down in the bed with restraining sheets which he loosened in fifteen minutes with his restless, strong, sick fingers.


Adele sat and sniffed into a handkerchief at the open window while June, crouched on the bed in the corner where she couldn’t see how tantalizing the spring evening was, was trying vainly to memorize the symptoms of atropine poisoning.

“It seems to me that all the heart medicines have the same poisoning symptoms,” she complained. “Now, mercury is easy to remember. If your patients salivate, then you know they’ve got the first symptom. Then their gums begin to swell and turn purple and then their teeth fall out. When I first went on ward seventy-two, I had just learned those symptoms, so I went around to all the patients who were taking mercury in one form or another and looked at their mouths. And would you believe it, every one of them complained of wanting to spit all the time! Those interns had forgotten all about prescribing mercury and had left it on the medicine chart and the damn-fool nurse who was in the ward before me kept right on giving the medicine. I kicked to the head nurse⁠—or rather I reported the matter respectfully, for she’s an old devil⁠—and she told me to go right on giving the medicine till the doctor came on the ward again. ‘Doctor’s orders must be obeyed.’ And the doctor might not be on the ward again for a week!”

The ward was like a ship, she concluded, where the doctor was captain, the superintendent first mate, the head nurse, second mate and the nurses just ordinary seamen. They had to obey orders, nothing else. And if they used their brains, and deduced that a patient was about to die of strychnine poisoning unless the dose was stopped, they had to go on giving the dose until word came from higher-up to stop it. Discipline was a great thing. For any woman holding an executive position who was about to have a nervous prostration, a course of training in a hospital would surely cure her. If it didn’t kill her. June felt that she would like to scream every now and then and throw medicine bottles at the head nurses. But she felt too the relief of being told what to do and knowing that she had to do it.

Suddenly she looked up from the book she was vainly trying to concentrate her mind upon and noticed Adele with her handkerchief. “What is the matter? Have you got a cold or are you crying?”

Adele admitted that she was crying and continued sniffing. June’s sympathy made it worse.

“Oh, I like hospital work and I wouldn’t stop it for anything,” she wept, “but every now and then you see something that actually breaks your heart and you don’t see how you can stand it any longer. You know Mary⁠—the one I told you about with consumption and who had just had a baby a month ago? Well, she’s dead.”

June knew that it wasn’t at the death itself that her sister was crying, for they had talked of it and expected it every day for the past week. It sounded callous but there was a sort of excitement in seeing how long you could keep a person who was lingering with a fatal disease alive.

“She died at quarter to seven,” Adele went on. “And you know when a patient dies at ten minutes of seven the day nurses leave the work to the night nurses. Doctor Gleason was passing through the ward and signed the death certificate then and there, the time of death marked at the top of it and the day nurses had to ‘do up’ the dead body. Miss Smith⁠—she’s a month ahead of me⁠—had to attend to it seeing as the head nurse was off duty, and she and another girl went behind the screen and you could hear everything they said through the ward and out in the corridor. They swore⁠—they said, ‘damn it, why couldn’t she have waited till after seven. I’ve got a date tonight.’ And the other girl said, ‘Oh, hell, of course she had to wet the bed again before she died.’ And you could hear them slap her as they turned her over to get the sheet out from under her. The worst of it all was, the husband of the girl was standing out in the hall all the time and he was just a young boy. He was crying terribly. And I have been, too, ever since.”

Nursing was like newspaper work in that it was impossible to suffer long over the tragedies which took place every day. You were too close to them to have perspective. They happened too continuously. They weighed on you⁠—gave you a still and subdued feeling but the very fact that you were continually busy left you no time to brood.

There was brightness on the ward, the brightness of the spring sunlight, the cleanliness and the convalescent patients. Some patients could not help shedding a jovial atmosphere about them. There was the old sailor who called himself Captain Kidd, for instance. He had toppled into the river and when rescued had emptied no one knew how many bottles of whiskey to avoid bad effects, he told the doctor. But nevertheless he had been brought into the hospital with influenza. Now he was convalescing and his red bandanna handkerchief which he twined around his head made the one spot of color in the white ward. Every time the head nurse entered the ward she made him take it off. But it was on again as soon as her back was turned and June received grateful little nods and winks every time she was reprimanded for not having discipline among her patients. Red handkerchiefs were untidy, it seemed.

Even the superintendent of the nurses, who had trained in that same hospital long ago and had been there ever since, felt the influence of spring. Her yellowish-grey hair usually was pulled straight back behind her ears, but now it fluffed out a little like the wings of birds. Instead of the high stiff collar which she wore all winter, there was a low stiff one, but it was softened by a white and slightly withered throat. Every other afternoon she lectured the first year girls on anatomy and June noticed that the bones which she handled delicately, as though they were flowers, were the same color as her hair.

There was an insistent somnolence in her voice which must have come from years of association with the sick. It murmured on, those spring afternoons like the bees in the park outside. On Thursdays there were band concerts for the old peoples’ home next door and then the lecture had to be cut short. It wasn’t only that Miss Daly couldn’t compete with the noise. But the band was made up of twelve year old boys from the Catholic school nearby and every now and then came a series of bars that rasped on her nerves like the tearing of silk. She could not concentrate on what was before her. And since the lecture had been cut short there was a half hour of freedom for June and Adele to sit in the park and watch the old people smoke and mumble to themselves.

“Every one of those old ladies smokes her pipe and the county allows her tobacco,” June grumbled. “Gee, how I’d like to have a cigarette now.⁠ ⁠… What is it that you miss at these Thursday afternoon band concerts, Adele?”

“Lots of things.”

“No, I mean one thing specially. It’s the smell of cigarettes. I can’t think of those park concerts and Mr. Armand without remembering that odor of damp grass and people’s clothes and cigarettes.”

It was very restful there under the trees. The sparrows hopped up to the little old women who had saved crusts for them in their apron pockets. An occasional pigeon strutted up and down and a large black cat slunk under the benches with her yellow eyes on the birds. The trees were flecked with the pale green of new leaves.

June noticed one shrivelled little woman standing apart from the others talking to a man who was also in the uniform of the county. “Sex instinct at this late stage of the game,” she was about to say jeeringly, for the little woman was laughing coquettishly. But the smile was wiped off her lips as she recognized the bent figure as an ex-patient of hers.

“See that little old thing,” she told Adele, almost tenderly. “I saw her last night. You know the shortcut I take when I’m in a hurry⁠—around the back of the chapel and laundry and the two old peoples’ homes. There the two of them were last night, gripping each others’ hands, trying to tear themselves away. Seven o’clock is their bed time you see. Husband and wife being taken care of by the county, poor dears, and separated. He kissed her so nicely, and she said, ‘remember John, don’t kick the covers off tonight. You’ve got to be careful of your cold.’ Think of them having to sneak around behind a laundry house to kiss each other!”

What she did not say was that now and then a vague longing came to trouble her⁠—she felt a restless need of someone who would clutch at her and not want to let her go.

II

“How many times have you fallen in love?” June asked her sister suddenly. The two of them were walking slowly from the wards to the nurses’ home. It was eight o’clock and very dark and still in the big park which surrounded the hospital. They came to one of the old ladies’ benches and sat down. It was a dim spot. June felt that she could phrase the tumult within her in the properly ridiculous phrases and not betray herself. Walking a little further they would have to enter the glaring hall of the nurses’ home and Adele’s sharp eyes could see that her face was flushed and her hands unsteady.

“Just three times,” Adele told her. “You know, I told you about that boy when I was thirteen and then when I was fourteen and then again just a year ago.”

“I’ve heard you hint about that last ‘affair,’ ” June commented. “But if you’re perfectly frank with me, I’ll be perfectly frank with you. I want your advice.”

“Not my advice. You probably just want to get something off your chest.”

“Well, leave it that way, then. Anyway, did you always fall in love at first sight?”

“Of course.”

“It seems so impossible to do a thing like that when you think of it coldly and soberly, but I’ve gone and done it.”

“Oh, June! Who!” And Adele squeezed her sister’s arm.

June disregarded her question and went on. “It seems so unreasonable. If you grew up with a person or had known him for a long time and suddenly began to realize that you wanted to kiss his eyelids, there might be some sense in it. There’d be something in back of an insane desire like that. But to see a man for the first time and want to⁠—I’m actually ashamed of myself.”

“Yes, I can see how foolish it seems. You wouldn’t be a bit surprised if you had fallen in love with Hugh Brace or Daniel or Kenneth. Just casually fallen in love while you were living there all summer with them.”

“Sure,” June agreed. “And then in a case like that I shouldn’t have had the slightest hesitation about kissing them. But wouldn’t they have been surprised,” she chortled, “if I announced suddenly, ‘oh, by the way, when I woke up this morning I discovered that I was in love with you. It must have been growing on me.’ ”

“I don’t believe that it does just grow on you,” Adele said stoutly. “I think it always comes suddenly. As soon as you see the man, you know right away. Why, when I saw King walking down the street with Ann (fortunately it was a girl I knew) I realized immediately I was in love. Of course it’s hopeless but it’s nice being in love anyway.⁠ ⁠… All three of them had amber eyes,” she ended incoherently.

“It seems ridiculous, but I can’t laugh about it. Do you know what it was that made me fall in love right away, Adele? It was this man’s broken nose. It looked just exactly like Amenemhat’s. You know how his is broken, sort of hacked off so that it looks as though it were pushed to one side. I told him right away that he looked like Amenemhat III, and he said, ‘who in hell is he?’ and then he apologized and asked me if I would have my eggs scrambled or poached.”

“You don’t mean to say that you’ve fallen in love with a patient! Was he delirious?”

“No, of course not a patient. He was a kitchen man in ward seventy-two and now he’s an orderly.”

As long as June’s was what Adele would term a hopeless passion, she could not feel shocked. But as the weeks passed and she noticed the look of suppressed excitement in her sister’s eyes, she felt that she had to take it more seriously. Especially when she learned more about Dick Wemys.

He was not an ordinary orderly although you could hardly use that adjective in connection with any of the orderlies of the Central Hospital. A good many of them were formerly professional men, doctors and lawyers, college graduates who had never fitted themselves for any work and drank steadily until they found themselves in the city hospital either with some illness or with delirium tremens. If, after they had recovered, they were offered some position in the hospital, they usually took it. The pay was good, and so was the food. Their quarters were almost as comfortable as those of the nurses. Moreover, they were out of the way of temptation. It was generally understood that once a month they would disappear with their pay envelopes, but they usually returned two days later, yellow about the eyes and anxious to be taken back. And since intelligent orderlies were scarce, they were allowed to return to work without comment.

June was glad to assure her sister that Dick Wemys had not been brought into the hospital with delirium tremens. He had been working as a cameraman with a moving picture outfit in Caracas and had worked his passage on a freighter back to New York in order to save money.

“I always flattered myself that I was hard-boiled enough to take care of myself,” he told June, “but the trick those dirty Mexican sailors pulled on me was the simplest ever. Dropped into a saloon with them on Furman Street and didn’t know a thing until I came to in the hospital here a week afterward. An overdose of knockout drops, and they took all my money. As if that wasn’t enough, they chucked me under an archway at the foot of Montague Street and left me to freeze to death. Unfortunately I didn’t have but a few glasses of liquor in me so I got pneumonia.

“This job isn’t so bad and I want to save enough to get out to the harvest fields. That’s the life for you. I usually get out there every summer and wander from state to state with the harvest, ending up in Canada. Lumber camps are all right, too. Then you can winter in Seattle or down in Frisco. Either loaf or find a newspaper job. I was woman’s editor of a Frisco paper several winters ago.”

The strange wooing began immediately, of course. Dick Wemys was that sort of a man. He wouldn’t have remained in the hospital if it hadn’t been for June. It was another adventure for him, but he would not have enjoyed it if he had not had June to enjoy it with. And the fact that it was another adventure for her, too, made it easier. Adventurous souls were rare, he argued. People liked to regard something that just happened to them, and which took an hour or so to happen, as an adventure. Real adventurers were those that could enjoy a long drawn out adventure, one that entailed hard work and days of depression as well as those uplifted moments that come so seldom and are remembered ever after.

You have to get outside yourself June agreed⁠—stand afar off and watch yourself running up and down the ward with glasses of eggnog, tying patients in bed, undressing filthy longshoremen, watch yourself being scolded at by head nurses and superintendents or nurses who always insisted upon your doing the most unnecessary things at the most critical moments when it seemed absolutely essential to do something else. Dick had to share all this with June now.

There was the incident of the dirty feet, not so indelicate as it sounds. Dr. Weiss, that tiddy-nosed old flitterbottom as June called him, was examining a patient with rheumatism in his ankles. He was the sort of doctor who always insisted that the head nurse accompany him on his rounds. No ordinary blue and white striped nurse would do. And he not only needed a white gowned nurse, he needed an orderly to wheel around a dressing tray. He just had to have it. It added to his importance.

The man with rheumatism in his ankles had been a sailor all his life, used to scuffing about the docks barefooted, and the feet in their uniform brownness, thick and calloused on the soles, stubbled as to toe nails, did not correspond in whiteness with his thighs. There was tar on them too, but as June protested, if she stopped to scrape the tar from the feet of the sailors who came into ward seventy-two they would have to do without not only their medicines but their eggnogs.

Dr. Weiss came to the old sailor and the head nurse drew the immaculate bed linen from his feet. The movement was delicate. You could almost see the little finger of her hand upturned. She handled the sheets as Miss Daly had handled the bones in the anatomy class. The whiteness of the sheets and the smallness of her hands accentuated the grotesqueness of the huge widespread toes which were exposed.

The doctor turned away in disgust. “Did he just enter the hospital this morning?” He looked at the patient’s chart. “No, he has been here a week. I shall examine him another time.”

“Miss Henreddy!” It was the prim voice of the head nurse. “I shall examine the feet of every patient in the ward at eight o’clock tomorrow morning.”

Behind her back, Dick and June exchanged glances.

It was a day during the influenza epidemic when patients were brought in one after another on stretchers, and died very often before they could be put to bed and had to be carried away again.

“Believe me, those sailors won’t thank you for getting the callouses off their feet,” Dick laughed afterward. But nevertheless at six that evening when there was no danger of an inspection from head nurses, he and June informed the ward of what was before it.

“I’m taking charge of this,” Dick said briskly. And the patients who liked June and helped her whenever they could, offered their cooperation. In a minute, the two huge bath tubs at the end of the ward were full of warm water and liquid green soap, and all those patients who were able to walk or be assisted, tottered to the end of the ward and sat in a circle around the edge of the tubs. The job was taken hilariously and finished in an hour.

There was danger in it of course. Not two days before, one of the patients had taken advantage of the nurse’s absence to try to get out of bed to reach the lavatory and had dropped dead. Weakness of the heart was common in the influenza wards. But Dick claimed that the patients were so fond of June that they would risk dropping dead to save her trouble and that their mentally agreeable state would prevent any such disaster happening.


Mr. Liscinderella was another hard customer. He was brought in on a busy morning, raving fiercely and demanding liquor. June and Dick wrestled with him, strapping him into bed but their combined strength was hardly enough. He broke away from them again and again. Dick snarled at him viciously and June used the conciliatory tones proper to a nurse. Perhaps the two treatments neutralized each other. At any rate, it was a full hour before he was properly restrained. Several times June approached him with a hypodermic full of morphine which the doctor had ordered. But each time he leaped under the touch of her hand and either broke the needle or separated it from its glass cylinder.

“I know it doesn’t hurt him,” June said. “The first time I ever gave a hypo I know my hand trembled so that I must have bungled the job. After that I gave myself one with sterile water and as you don’t mind pain inflicted by yourself, my hand didn’t tremble at all and I couldn’t even feel the needle going in. All you have to do is keep a supply of fresh, sharp needles. Seeing as we have to buy our own, some of the nurses are stingy about it and use the same ones over and over.”

But even the morphine when it was finally administered failed to soothe the delirious man. In the middle of the afternoon he wrenched loose the sheet from around his shoulders and sat up in bed suddenly.

“Line up, everybody,” he called out. “My treat.” And one feeble longshoreman from the other side wandered vaguely into the middle of the ward with his nightshirt flapping around him and died upon being put back into bed.

It was only when an intern ordered whiskey three times a day for Liscinderella that he subsided and the ward again became quiet.

There was a sort of ghastly excitement and joy in the ward among the convalescing patients when the sicker ones were obstreperous.

“Gee, ain’t this a hell house,” June heard one of them remark complacently. “You’d think the old black bottle was being passed around.” For the legend that hospitals did away with superfluous patients by draughts from the black bottle was still current among the lowest of the lower classes.

They rather enjoyed believing it.

It was an exciting play that they were all taking part in. It was a battle in which one grim spirit passed by, casting a spell over some and shrieking through their mouths obscenities on life.

June and Dick were the only healthy young things in the entire ward. As long as some of the patients could help the nurse by washing their own faces and keeping their beds smoothed and the tables cleared by their sides, they felt that they partook of a little of her energetic health. They could watch the struggle going on in the long room with a grim humor.

On one occasion when the ward slept and June was off duty, a delirious patient who had been so quiet that it had not seemed necessary to fasten him in bed with restraining sheets, quietly got up, tied his blanket around his waist to hide his bare legs and sneaked down the stairs and away.

June came on the ward at seven to find the night nurse weeping hysterically. “You can’t turn your back to feed one patient his medicine without another getting into some devilment. Now I’ll be kicked out.”

Dick took part in the search. Patients had been known to have escaped to the roof, to the benches in the park around the hospital buildings. This one was not to be found on the grounds. It wasn’t until noon that he was discovered, minus the blanket, sitting on the curbing of a street that ran through two deserted lots, holding an imaginary fishing pole and pointing to what he thought was a trout in a large puddle before him. The short nightshirt was open down the back and disclosed a long curved spinal column and shoulder blades which, Dick said, seemed to flap as he flung his line. His toes were meditatively wriggling in the dirt of the gutter.

Dick was triumphant as he brought him in and June was triumphant that she kept him alive all that day. He continued to live too, and was the admiration of the other patients in the ward when they heard of his nocturnal wanderings.

It was these things which drew Dick and June closer together. They looked on the work with the same eyes and the same clearheaded enthusiasm. Other long winter afternoons when the ward was quiet and no patients were ill enough to demand continual attention, they shared a feeling of languorous tiredness. They seemed to have wandered through a nightmare hand in hand, to have passed through it into a half stupor. June felt the sensuousness of her mood even before Dick voiced it.

“Two lines of a poem have been running through my head these last few days,” he told her while they were making eggnogs in the kitchen:

“ ‘Here, where the world is quiet,
Here, where all trouble seems
Dead winds’ and spent waves’ riot
In doubtful dreams of dreams.’

“After the strain we’ve been through this last month everything seems the shadow of a dream.”

And because they both were so tired, and it was the quietest time of the afternoon when no one was stirring in the ward, she leaned against him with her head on his shoulder and they rested that way a few moments.

“You tempt me,” he told her one time. (It was a month later.) “You are a most intoxicating temptation. And who was it that said that temptations were made to be succumbed to?”

Neither of them could remember, but they were sure that it was a poet. (A year later he thought he remembered and woke her up in the night to tell her that it was Oscar Wilde.)

But they weren’t thinking much in terms of poetry those early days. June was too desperately determined that he shouldn’t go away from her as he kept saying he would. He gave himself three months to stay in the hospital. June gave him three months in which to seduce her.

“I’ve got to have you,” she told him. “I love you. I do love you. It’s a fatal passion.” She smiled, but her lips were trembling.

“You should wait for some nice young man who will marry you and buy you a rubber plant and give you babies.”

“I don’t give a damn about marriage. And you only talk about nice young men and rubber plants because you really want me, even though you don’t want to marry me.”

“Better look out! You’ll persuade me yet,” he laughed at her. And then, “But you know you love babies. And if you had one I’d leave you.”

“I don’t want anyone but you,” June protested stubbornly. “When women are really in love they don’t want babies. They only want them when they aren’t satisfied with the man they have and feel the need of something else. Or if they are jealous. Then they could feel, I suppose, that they were bringing another edition of their lovers into the world⁠—an edition that wouldn’t stay out late nights and neglect them.

“But I should never be satisfied with a substitute. I’ll take what I can get out of you and if I can’t get enough of you I suppose I shall just have to break my heart over it. I wouldn’t compromise.⁠ ⁠…

“But it just seems as though a hunger were gnawing at me continually. And I know what it is like to be hungry too. One doesn’t forget days like those I spent down in jail in Washington. It’s a continual pain.”

“You ungrateful little wretch, you. After the wonderful breakfasts I’ve given you on the ward⁠—and which I’ve seen you eat.”

“Oh, I can eat your breakfasts all right. I eat with the same appetite. I can’t say that I’m unhappy during the day. I’m too excited to be unhappy, when I can see you a good part of the time. It’s at night that I suffer so. I sleep, of course I sleep. I’m exhausted when I go off the ward at night. But I dream of you all the time. I don’t need to be a psychoanalyst either, to know what the dreams mean.

“Last night I was dreaming of the docks⁠—it wasn’t the East Side docks. I know them pretty well. It was in Brooklyn and the surroundings were strange to me. It must have been down around Furman Street you’ve told me about. I was sitting on the edge of a pier with you. We were throwing daggers at each other and we were only a couple of yards apart so they always hit. We played leisurely as though it was a game. It was a hideous game. I kept trying not to start so as not to show that I was hit.”

“My poor darling,” the words were playful but his arms around her were tender and there was passion in the touch of his lips on her face and neck.


“I am becoming a common little slut,” June maintained. “I slink out at night without telling anyone where I am going and meet you on deserted streets, and we have so little time together that I catch myself scheming. Scheming to get you into back rooms of saloons⁠—desolate, out of the way saloons, where the bartenders are always sleepy and there are never any customers so that I can look at you and you make love to me. Can’t coordinate when you put you arm around me on the street⁠—my knees wobble and I step on your feet.”

“You do seem to be strangely clumsy,” he mused. “And to think I fell in love with you because you held your hands like Mrs. Vernon Castle!”

“Oh dearest, you can say nice things!”

“Yes, I want to become sentimental when you put your hand on my face. They are luring. I want to quote Laurence Hope.”

“You should, if you want to. I’d love it.”

“That’s my weakness⁠—sentiment. I could quote reams of poetry to you but I always stop myself in time.”

“No,” and she liked to argue with him. “You are an accomplished flirt. You merely suggest a sentiment. But you are hard. I fell in love with you because you are hard.”

“It was my broken nose”⁠—in mock disappointment. “It was because I looked like the chipped and degenerate statue of Amenemhat.”

“That’s true, but he was hard. He looks as though he were above the weakness of falling in love. He was probably skilful in his lovemaking and he victimized women. Women love to be victims.” But Dick maintained she was basing her knowledge on an O. Henry story. “Women don’t mind being beaten. They’ll endure anything as long as they can persuade the man that he has the upper hand and they know all the while that they get their own way in the end. It’s true that Mrs. O’Grady or whatever her name was, was the envy of Mrs. Sullivan. But that was because although Mr. O’Grady beat up his wife periodically, she was always the winner. Didn’t he take her to Coney Island and buy her presents? Whereas Mr. Sullivan didn’t beat his wife and didn’t take her out or buy her anything. That’s why she tried to make him beat her.

“I’ll have to give you Schopenhauer’s essay on women to read. That old bird had the right idea of gals.”

June read it, but she was unconvinced. She insisted that it was only another of Dick’s fascinations that he could persuade women (with authorities) that they were the base, wily, and subtle heart breakers that they would like to be.

“Infatuated woman,” he called her, and pretended to be pleased.


“I have never had a virgin,” he ruminated cruelly another time and looked at her out of the corner of his eye.

She did not flinch. “Nothing you can say will hurt me. Nothing will persuade me to give you up. You’re mine, I know it.”

He disregarded her. “They are probably stupid little things that weep and are unnaturally unemotional. Accomplished women of the world have a more decided appeal.

“And yet⁠—I’ve always thought someday it would be nice to find a complete virgin. Not that I think I’ll ever discover one.⁠ ⁠… A completely unsophisticated young girl who has never heard of Freud or birth control and has never talked sex. Someone who is full of inhibitions and suppressions. I’m sure that there aren’t any such unless you catch them very young. And God! Look where that train of thought leads. I find myself convicted of moron tendencies.”

June admitted that she was a demi-vierge.

“You could call me that at the age of six,” she said rashly.

“I don’t doubt it,” Dick told her. “But that, too, adds to the decadent flavor which is one of your chief charms.”

June felt as though they were talking in circles.


When she arrived on the ward one morning she found Dick flitting up and down between the beds of patients holding a sheet high above his head which waved out behind him as he sang blithely, “Goodbye, boys, I’m through.” He stopped his carolling as he saw her enter the door and tying the sheet around his waist and taking up a towel, came toward her in mock servility and asked her what she would have for breakfast.

There was a frightened look in her eyes and a sickened feeling at the pit of her stomach which did not lessen when he came close to her and said, “Poor child, I’m going to leave you.”

“No, you aren’t,” her voice was grim. “Come on out in the kitchen.”

And when he followed her into that retreat of theirs, she closed the door after them, disregarding the fact that the head nurse was liable to come on the ward at any minute. He thoughtfully put some bread and milk on the table near her so that if anyone did open the door suddenly it might appear as though she was breaking one of the minor rules of the hospital in eating on the ward. Then he took her in his arms.

“How can I leave you?” he said softly. “You seem to be a part of my heart now after these months⁠—just a little part,” he teased her. “But it’s hard to cut it away. And I’m going to.”

“You won’t.”

“But I’ve got to. What in hell would I do with a woman around?”

“I don’t care. I’m just going to tag around after you from now on. If you go away I’ll go too. I can’t live without you and I don’t intend to stay here and suffer. You can run away all you want to, but I’ll just run after you, all over, wherever you go.”

“Silly little thing. What would you do in a lumber camp or harvest field? You wouldn’t last a minute. You can only endure the work here because of your morbid interest in it.”

June ignored the last part of his speech. “Where are you going? To the wheat fields? Oh God, I couldn’t stand your going away.” And her eyelashes were wet with the tears she pressed back.

“My sweetheart! Do you suppose I could go as far away as that? No I shall have to get out of your clutches gradually.”

“Where are you going then?”

“Me and my old sidekick, who’s still down in Caracas, have an apartment together here in New York which we subrented when we went away. The tenants are getting out now and I’ve found a respectable job acting the part of a drunkard in a play which is going on in a couple of weeks, and I’ve saved enough money from the job here to live for as long as that. Hip hip! I can loaf for a while.”

All that day she fought hard to keep from showing the bitter sorrow that was in her heart. It had to turn out right, she kept telling herself. It would turn out all right. She had to have him. She kept her head bent to hide her red-rimmed eyes. But she found herself dropping tears in the glasses of medicines on her tray.

Later in the day, Dick came into the linen room where she was hunting for sheets and while her hands were full took her face between his hands and kissed her and looked at her for a long time. “I know⁠—you are mine. It was meant that I should love you so it’s no use fighting.” He slipped a little card down the bosom of her dress. “I find I can get off now, before supper, so I’m leaving. That’s my address that I’m giving you. Let your conscience be your guide.” And he kissed her again, a hard kiss and went away humming.

The time came for a consultation with the family. Not that Mr. Henreddy was called in to give his opinion or that the two brothers that June had not seen for such a long time were written to and asked for advice. It was a woman’s affair, June thought. Even young Glubb, who was now called James because he went to school, was left out of it. It is true that Adele and June installed a modern educational system in the household for his benefit and insisted that at the age of four he should be told how the buttercup family grew, at six, how the fishes produced their young and at seven, how men and women cohabited. He had now finished the course of biology recommended for little ones by Margaret Sanger, but nevertheless he occasionally came to his mother and asked her what certain words meant. So it was considered that he was still too young to be included in this family secret.

That was what it became⁠—a secret, between Mother Grace and Adele and June.

It was easy enough to tell Adele about it. She was a serious and receptive young person and though not without a certain dry sense of humor, she was willing to take people and their intentions seriously. She might not approve of what one was about to do. But she would give it her most earnest consideration and the heartfelt hope that it would turn out for the best.

“You know⁠ ⁠… Dick⁠ ⁠… I’m going to live with him,” June announced rather jerkily that night after the weekly lecture on dietetics. The two had been comparing the notes they had taken and Adele had already concluded from the pages missing in June’s notebook that her attention in class had wavered often.

“June! You don’t really mean it, do you? I know you’ve always said you would live with a man rather than marry him, but I don’t know⁠—it’s kind of a shock.”

“Yes, I’m going to leave tomorrow morning. I didn’t know before or I would have told you. Dick just told me he was going this morning. So I’m going too.

“I’m not going to tell you or mother our address for fear you might have a conscience-stricken impulse suddenly to come and urge Dick to make an honest woman of me and all that sort of thing. As a matter of fact, he’s not seducing me, I’m seducing him. So there wouldn’t be much point to mother making objections to him.”

“He’ll probably say, ‘You’re perfectly right, Mrs. Henreddy,’ ” she continued her line of thought later. “ ‘I did all I could to persuade your daughter that the step she is about to take is a foolish one, but she’s willful and wayward and she’s too much for me. I’m taking the line of least resistance.’ ”

“But every time he pushed me away from him,” her thought was resentful, “he pulled me to him twice as close.”

That same evening, they heard Mother Grace was ill. The doctor didn’t know whether she had diphtheritic sore throat, or diphtheria or just plain sore throat. At any rate she had to stay in bed for a while and June got leave of absence from the hospital in order to take care of her.

“Suppose,” she kept thinking to herself, “Suppose he gets tired of waiting for me and goes out west. From the way I talked he must have thought that I would be there immediately the next day. Oh, what shall I do?”

She could not blame her mother for being ill. It was the first time she had indulged in the luxury of staying in bed since Glubb was born. She kept saying what a pleasure it was for her to have a “morning toilet” and “evening toilet” and alcohol rub and meals on a tray⁠—those things she had paid for in a hospital. “I think I just got sick because I had a couple of nurses in the family to take care of me,” she declared.

Meanwhile June made tea and toast and became sentimental over the eggnogs which Mother Grace drank, all unsuspicious of the emotions they evoked in her daughter.

It turned out to be an ordinary sore throat, but the doctor told her it was just as well that she had stayed in bed, considering that there were several cases of the disease in the neighborhood and when Mother Grace put on her black silk kimono with embroidered storks (it was a new one) and sat in the library, sewing, June broke the news to her.

“What?” asked her mother, looking up from her work with a very startled face. “What did you say?”

June repeated that she was about to begin to live with someone.

“Live with someone! What do you mean?”

“With a man of course. I’ve fallen in love⁠—terribly in love and he doesn’t want to marry me⁠—he’s not half crazy about me as I am about him, so I’m just going to live with him. You needn’t worry about me. I’m not at all worried. I can take care of myself. You know I’ve always told you that I didn’t think marriage was so important.⁠ ⁠…”

June tried to keep talking⁠—tried to fill up the gaps which Mother Grace left in what should have been a conversation. What could she say when her mother wouldn’t make any reply or pay any attention. “You don’t mind, do you? I really can’t help it. I’ve had a hell of a time for the last couple of months, knowing that I’d have to tell you this pretty soon.”

“When are you going to start doing this?” her mother asked in a rather faint voice.

“I’d made up my mind to leave the hospital the next day on that very night when the doctor telephoned to the hospital for me. So I had to put it off. Oh, why are you sick at such a time, mother, when it’s so hard for me?”

Mother Grace ignored the obvious selfishness of this appeal and saw beneath it. Again she tried to ask calmly when June wanted to go.

June blushed and paled and then blurted out, “As soon as possible. I’d like to go tonight. I’m sure he’s waiting for me. I should have been there with him a week ago and I haven’t written to him or anything to tell him why I’m not there⁠ ⁠…

“Can I go tonight?”

“What use is there for me to stop you when I’d only make you miserable? Oh, why ask me what to do? You know you’ll only do just what you think best for yourself and pay no attention to me anyway. It’s after five. Leave me alone to think. I can’t say anything that I know isn’t absolutely futile.”

III

“I’m here,” she told him as he met her at the door of the little apartment on Thirty-fifth Street. He held a half-finished cigarette and an open book in one hand and with the other he closed the door behind her. He greeted her coldly, and resumed his seat in the armchair by the open window. The standing lamp by the side of him lit up a sullenly indifferent face.

June took off her hat and gloves and put them on a table at one end of the room. Then she slipped down on the floor by Dick’s side and put her head against his knee. Her trembling excitement had given way to a languorous feeling of happiness but every now and then a sharp feeling of fear swept over her. She clasped his knees so that he could not get up and he picked up his book again. She did not even take the trouble to see if he turned the pages. She did not care if he continued reading. She was with him again.

Finally he flung the book to the floor. “I thought you said you’d be here a week ago!”

The tenseness of her body relaxed. So he did care that she was late! He had been waiting for her.

“The night you left, the doctor called the nurses’ home and told me my mother was ill⁠—that he thought it was diphtheria and I had to take care of her. It wasn’t diphtheria. After they had taken tests they discovered that. But she was very sick and I had to stay.”

“Why didn’t your sister do it?”

“Mother wanted me, so I had to stay with her. I knew I was going to hurt her enough when I told her I was going to live with someone.”

She spoke drowsily, hating to speak at all. Finally he drew her up in his arms and held her closely. She was no longer conscious of the overmastering desire that had been tormenting her all the week she was away from him. It was only when his arms relaxed and he looked at her moodily between kisses that she felt that bright flame searing her, leaping up in her again and again until it was almost anguish.

The lines about his mouth deepened. “Where are your things?” he asked her softly.

“I checked them at the subway newsstand until I knew.”

“I’ll get them for you tomorrow.”

“You do want me?”

“It hurts me to be away from you. I can’t fight against it. Besides⁠—what does it matter? A month or two months, and it will pass and then I’ll be free again.”

“I don’t care what happens in a month or two months. I’m here with you now. I adore you.”

Somewhere from down the street came the restless music of a piano organ. Nearby, a phonograph tinkled mechanically. It was still very early, and in a little yard outside the window there was a soft rustle in the stunted trees. Every now and then a cool breath of air filtered down between the skyscrapers. June shivered and clung closer to her lover. She felt very cold and there was a numbness creeping over her. Then he spoke again and she listened keeping her lips pressed against his throat where it showed above the turned-in collar of his shirt.

“Women⁠—all I ever thought before was that you take something that you need from them. It’s physically impossible for a woman to take a man. She always gives, gives herself up. And now I hate you⁠—I don’t want you because I feel everything going out of me to you. The thought of you eats into me continually.”

She had never seen him in this mood before. He was usually aloof, and rather mocking. He looked as though he were suffering. If he would only take her, push aside this barrier of sex that was between them he could grip hold of himself again. And then she could breathe easily once more and her heart wouldn’t ache so in her breast. To get the first pain over with! She bit his neck contemplatively.

He shook her so suddenly that she cried out, startled, and then noticed that it was very still and quiet. When he turned down the lamp there was only the painful thumping of her own heart.


Later in the evening, June sat cross-legged on the bed in a pair of pajamas which were far too big for her and ate with a great deal of enjoyment an anchovy toast sandwich and stuffed olives. She felt very young and childlike. The pain of the last week was far past and curiously unreal.

“You are a lovely host,” she said, leaning over and kissing Dick on the shoulder. He put down his glass of wine to smooth her cheek. “Listen to this, will you,” he said, without looking up from his book. “Isn’t this a darb of a line⁠—

“ ‘I know not ugliness. It is a mood which has forsaken me.’ ”

Her days were curiously divided. When Dick left the house in the morning, the rooms were coldly desolate. The bed with its tossed-back covers was like a corpse. She felt it lingeringly to see if there was any warmth left in it. If there had been she would curl up there and dream of the close warmth of his arms. But he always flung the covers from him so riotously. There they were in a heap on the floor. The pillows were discarded things that he had spurned. He got up each morning as though there was some new joyous adventure to begin. The sunlight that streamed into the room gave the lie to the hours she had spent in his arms. Those early hours after he had left were cruelly unreal.

She picked up the socks he had left on the floor and surveyed the holes and runners in them with rueful affection. They were past darning. Poor wrecks of stockings. He saved them all so that he could have a change every day, brooding over them as they came back from the laundry.

“Well, this pair will have to be discarded.” But there was never enough money in his pocket to pay for a new pair. June caught him washing two out one evening at the end of the week before the laundry was returned and snatched them from him. It was one more little thing she could do for him. Everything she did for him made her love him the more.

His ragged underwear which she had carefully patched still held the creases of the iron which they had had when they came from the laundry. He was as dainty as a girl, June reflected. It was one way of feeling respectably prosperous.

Collar, shirt, and socks with the thought of them were put aside for the laundry. She turned to a consideration of his suit. (Her thoughts were painfully simple now.)

Last night they had had a humorous evening patching one knee of the trousers. The suit, if you examined it carefully, would appear to be a greenish grey tweed. In fact the green tint was barely noticeable. But close examination disclosed the fact that not only were there green threads in what appeared to be a dark grey suit, but also brown.

June got her work basket, examined her various spools of darning cotton and she and Dick debated. Darning cotton didn’t come in single threads. If you were an experienced darner you separated it, using two threads at a time. This avoided clumsy thickness. If you were very young, as June was when she first started to darn, you used the four threads, which when threaded and knotted became eight. It was easier and quicker to cover a hole so.

Now the question was whether to use two grey, one green and one brown thread and make a wild stab at approximating the tweed, or darn the weak spot which was threatening to become a large hole, in solid grey. A tiny spot which wouldn’t show on completion was darned first with the mixed threads and proved to look peculiar. They decided on grey and when the spot had been reinforced, it was neat, but unmistakably a darn. The grey thread did not match the grey of the suit. Dick had the happy idea of tinting the patch, and used the cover of a dark green book, dipped in water. He had always noticed, he said, that it was easy to get the color off a book by chewing a corner or carrying it on a rainy day. The job was done with great thoroughness, but the results were not all that could be expected from the care which had been bestowed upon the work. It was decided that he would have to walk briskly, trusting to the rapid motion of his legs to hide the patch, and when sitting, he would have to keep one hand on his knee.

The darling, June thought, as she finished reviewing the incident and turned to making the bed. There was a gorgeous Indian blanket on it which he had picked up in Mexico, which if sold would more than pay for another suit. But treasures once acquired, he refused to part with.

“I’ve had to beg or steal or sweat for most of the things I have and I’m not going to part with them now,” he justified himself. “A day will come when I’ll have fifty dollars in my pocket which won’t have to go for rent or food and which I won’t be tempted to use for poker and drink. It sounds impossible but the impossible has been known to have happened.”

The bed was made with as much care as those in the hospital and as the sheets for a double bed are never the size of those for a single bed in the hospital, it was a longer job to get the lower one pinned neatly (and so it would not tear) and pulled free of wrinkles.

It was a comfort to see her picture of Amenemhat III framed and hung on one side of the bed. He looked more like Dick than ever. (That was the way she put it now. It wasn’t that Dick looked more like Amenemhat. She loved her own absurdities.)

There were dishes to do, but when you had only two plates and two cups, queer bits of pottery from South Carolina, it was the work of a moment to wash them and put them away. One frying pan, one coffee pot, some silverware. It took a minute to mop the floor.

The bathroom still had a warm smell of shaving soap and talcum powder. An intimate, man’s smell.


June would have preferred to have worked so that the long day would come to an end sooner. But it was sweet to be his woman too. She liked to have him use the phrase. It was more possessive than the phrase “his wife.” “You’re my woman and you have to wait on me hand and foot. I don’t want you independent. I like to think of you sitting at home and thinking of me all day. While you’re mine, you’ve got to be all mine so you needn’t have any interest outside of me.”

It was delightfully humiliating to be talked to in such a way. It was humiliating but she invited it. As long as he crushed her in his arms meanwhile, he could say anything. “You are nothing but a damn little fool so don’t you dare tell me Conrad knows how to write a story. I tell you he doesn’t so you might as well shut up.” She wasn’t even allowed to look as though Conrad could write novels. She could only snuggle her face closer in Dick’s neck and say⁠—“You are the most wonderful lover in the world and I’ll never read Conrad again.” (She gathered from Schopenhauer that he expected her to lie to him.)

At any rate she could spend the day in her armchair intermittently mending and reading books which he recommended⁠—The Count of Monte Cristo, The Three Musketeers and the three volumes which followed their adventures, Heine’s prose⁠—his poetry was not worth looking at⁠—and any Scandinavian literature, for all Scandinavian literature was great.

For the most part, though, she was content to curl up in the morris chair and dream.


You could dream over sewing if you had any material to sew on. June became a collector of remnants. Every week when she had paid the milk and butter bill and enough groceries had been purchased to last for the coming week, there were usually several dollars left over. Although they talked of everything else in the world, the subject of money was never touched on. Every week Dick brought in forty dollars (his salary was fifty, but the temptation of drawing ahead on it was one of those meant to be succumbed to as he himself would put it.) Fifteen of this had to go to pay the rent. The egg and milk bill was around four dollars and the groceries never were more than five. June washed her own clothes in order to keep down the laundry bill which was always more than two dollars. Thirty dollars covered all these bills.

Now for the remnant! Silk mull, voile for lingerie, lawn, batiste, nainsook, flowered crepe, cross-barred muslins, cotton Georgette⁠—all these may be found on the cotton remnant table. But you never went directly to that display of bargains. Across the aisle there are silk remnants⁠—crepe de chine, silk Georgette crepe, taffeta, satins and brocaded silks in all colors and designs.

Would she rather have a flame-colored nightgown or a black one of slinky silk, or perhaps palest of green? The material should be very thin.

The black would be the most interesting to experiment with. Pale green was too ethereal and the flame-colored one would be too passionate. Nightgowns should not be obviously emotional. Then too, with a black nightgown, experiments could be made with lampshades. Rose and orange for languorous evenings, yellow for cruel coldness.

June suddenly remembered a story of Billy’s.

“He was one peach,” referring to a lover of the night before. “He tied my lavender chemise around the electric light⁠—said it gave me a pensively chaste look. It made him a damn sight handsomer than I thought he was. Anyway, the fool thing caught fire at the most unpropitious moment!

“He sent me another one the next day⁠—a floozy kind, of course. Just the kind a man would buy. Pink satin with bows and lace around the top.”

June gave up the idea of colored lampshades and startling nighties and proceeded to the cotton counter. She found just what she wanted there⁠—enough sheer cotton Georgette crepe of very pale yellow to make her nightgown and after buying some black silk with which to stitch it her shopping was finished for the week.


She seldom had to go out. It was better to sit curled up in the big chair. There was no hurry about the sewing. She had a week in which to finish the new article of underwear and it would be a week before she could get new material to begin another. While June had been working she had observed the slogan, “a book a week.” Now it was, “an article of clothing once a week.” Her wardrobe became extensive. Little short white undershirts were cheap and not as repulsively sensible as the union suits for which you had to pay ninety cents. You could get the former in the ten cent store. You could get enough silk to make the most frivolous of chemises for one dollar and thirty-nine cents. Stockings were a dollar and a half and you could get along with one pair a month.

Silk and jersey for smocks was reasonably cheap and that year one embroidered them in wool. They were very gay. By December she had two, one woolen one and one of black silk. There was nothing she could do for the shabby lining of her coat. It just had to stay shabby. If she took it out, she reflected, the inner lining would have to come out too. She could make it look decent by facing the seams with silk and passing it off for a summer coat. But she needed something heavier those cold months. It was humiliating to expose her poverty in a restaurant when a waiter started to assist her in taking off her jacket. And still more uncomfortable to leave it on and bake. In order to divert her mind June ran out to the closet to look at the new velvet hat which her mother had given her.


June had called up a few weeks after she had joined Dick, just as she had done when she had been away from home working, and asked Mother Grace if she could come home for supper. Dick would not be home until twelve now that the snow had commenced.

“You bet, come along,” her mother had said brightly. “I’ve got a lot of housecleaning to do and you can help me.”

She kissed June affectionately at the door. “How are you getting on? That’s fine. I’ve a little wedding present for you.”

The wedding present proved to be six knives and forks and spoons which June received gratefully. She could discard the ten cent store things now. They were abominable to eat with.

“Dick will like these,” she said. “He fusses every morning at breakfast at the incongruity of our china which is very nice and the ‘silverware’ which is aluminum. I think the forks spoil the taste for him. He’s very fastidious.”

It was in casual references such as these that Mother Grace learned of the new member of her family as she called him.

“Dick is so careful of his appearance that I’ve become engrossed in my own. I spend hours every day manicuring and bathing and primping.” Or,

“Dick is very finicky about his breakfasts. The eggs must be fried so that there aren’t any little frills of crispness around them and the coffee must be French coffee and just come to a boil and the toast must be ready the last minute when he’s ready to sit down to the table. Not really too finicky you know, because he’s just as ready to get my breakfast for me and he does it perfectly. On Sunday mornings we have eggs Benedict with truffles on the top. I don’t know how to make Hollandaise sauce, so he makes the breakfast then.

“He doesn’t ever have to leave until around twelve, so every morning the breakfasts are lovely.

“Dick met Billy and Ivan and Hugh Brace and Ellen Winter and Chester. He seems to like them all well enough, and he’s willing for us all to go on parties together either after the theatre or when he has a night off, but he objects to my seeing any of them when he isn’t with me. I think he’s jealous.”


June was convinced that he was jealous a few months later. Billy and some friends of hers and Dick and June were having a late supper one night after the show, and June with her usual freedom of gesture, put her hand on the shoulder of the man next to her when she leaned over to talk to Billy.

Dick pushed back his chair roughly and stood up. When June turned to speak to him she was startled to see how pale he was. He seemed about to go without speaking to her, and then thought better of it.

“I’ll leave you here,” he sneered, “to embrace the gentleman on your right.”

In her surprise and anger, June did not answer him. The blow was unexpected and she felt suddenly ill. She wanted to run after him, to embrace him and tell him she was sorry for some fault she was unconscious of committing. She wanted to trample on her pride and yet she sat there, paralyzed in her chair. Then he was gone. Despair was raising in her throat to choke her. She hastily swallowed the glass of whiskey and water that was on the table before her and although it was but her second felt that she would stagger if she ventured to get up.

“Billy,” she said. “I feel awfully woozy. Can I come over to your place to stay tonight?”

“Sure, old thing. I’ll bring home a bottle of sherry and we’ll have one of those early morning sprees that I just dote on.”

People seemed ugly suddenly. There were remarks from the man on her right⁠—a sympathetic question⁠—she could not hear what he said. She repulsed him rudely. He turned and went on talking to his friends. What did she care for Sorolla or whoever it was they were talking about?

Billy moved to the vacant seat by her side and squeezed her limp hand. She felt limp all over. It was as though life had gone out of her. Wait! Dick had used that phrase. When was it? That night she went to him and he told her he hated her because she was taking his life from him.

“They’re brutes, all of them,” Billy whispered and then went on chirping to the others at the table. She could afford to be sympathetic. She was in love with one of them and basked in his presence whenever he would sit at the table with her. Why was it that women idolized men that scorned them? His name was Bryant and he was a thin, black-haired fellow who limped. He painted feverishly most of the time and only stopped now and then to drink.

June had known him when she had worked on the Flame. She had always liked him. There had been nights when they had talked for hours over a glass of wine. She had liked to hear him talk even when she didn’t know what he was talking about. It flattered her that he should take it for granted that she understood the difference between a Corot and a Manet.

Yes, there was a time when she liked to sit with people, evening after evening. She liked them. She liked their enthusiasm. She didn’t anymore. People were dull and stupid.

The other man at the table had a face like Puck. His mouth stretched from ear to ear when he smiled and his ears were pointed. He grinned as though life were obscene. He grinned at June now.

“I laugh that I may not weep,” he said. Then, “Rotten to be in love.”

There were three doors June could watch from where she sat. Each time she heard one open her heart gave a jump and each time she saw that the newcomer was not Dick, her heart sank lower. The café was “L” shaped and at either end of the “L” there were doors that kept opening and closing. Just around the corner from where she sat there was another door going out into the bar. He had passed through that. Although she had not listened, she had heard the swing door pushed aside as he had gone, and then swing back and forth. Was he in the bar now?

She forgot her pride and asked the Puck-faced man to see if he was in the bar. He grinned sympathetically and returned to report that he was not there.

“Why don’t you go home after him?” he asked her helpfully.

“If I’d run after him when he left it would have been all right. Damn my pride! I love him and nothing else matters. But now⁠—I don’t know whether he did go right home or uptown. I haven’t any key. We’ve only got one between us. We’ve lost the duplicate.” (That “we” hurt her as she said it. Maybe it would not be “we” anymore. The dear intimacy of the word!)

“I could go home and sit on the door step, but if he’s already there that would be useless. It’s a back apartment so I couldn’t make him hear me by tapping on a window. And the bell only communicates with the landlady. (It’s an old house made over into apartments, you know.)”

June’s mind kept running around and around in circles. She began to weep softly. “Don’t pay any attention,” she whispered. “It’s probably only the whiskey.”

“Take another. That’ll help. The thing to do is to get pie-eyed.”

June didn’t think emotion and whiskey would mix very well. “I feel sickish now. But I’m not angry now. Before I had everything in the world, and now⁠—now I don’t see any use in living.”


The three doors went on opening and shutting but Dick did not return. Every now and then the telephone bell rang and sent its jangle through her heart, but neither of the two waiters who knew her came to say, “Miss Henreddy, somebody wants you on the phone.”

Soon it was closing time and Billy was ready to go home.

“Come on, June. I’ve got the sherry and I’ll tuck you in bed and give you enough to make you forget there ever was a lover in the world.”

Billy had a telephone and June decided she would stay awake listening for it to ring. But she didn’t. The combination of emotion and highballs made her fall asleep as soon as she lay down and she awoke brightly to find the sun streaming across the dusty studio. Billy on the other side of the room, lifted a face still expressionless with sleep surrounded by matted short hair, and called, “Moral support!”

“What’ll it be? Sherry or coffee this morning?” June asked. With the recognition of her surroundings came the return of the emotions of the night before.

“Coffee o’ course. Every time I get lit, I decide when I go to bed that I’ll begin again immediately in the morning to keep up the glorious feeling. And then the next morning comes along and everybody in the whole house has entered into a conspiracy against me. They’re all making coffee. Smell it? Good ole coffee. June, get up and make my moral support.”

June looked at her watch and found that it was almost eleven. “But I’ve got to run up and see Dick,” she protested when she came out of the bath.

“You little idiot,” Billy sat up in bed in indignation. “Let him come down here after you. He went off in a huff. He isn’t tired of you yet. You can tell that by the way he acts. How long have you been with him?”

“Since the first of September and now it’s December. But I was really with him all summer in the hospital. We spent all our days together.” June wanted to cry but she took a swallow of hot coffee instead. It tasted so good that she decided to take Billy’s advice.

Later in the afternoon when her resolution wavered, she realized it was too late. He would not be there if she went home, and there she could not get in if he was not. She could only hope that he would meet her in the café where she often joined him after the theatre. It was a forlorn hope to feed upon. Until then, she could only sit in Billy’s dim studio and read. Now that the hard winter sun had gone down and the lamps were being lit along the street, her surroundings seemed very tawdry. She hid her face against the cushions of the sofa where she was curled up and repeated his name over and over. “God, how I want him,” was the cry she kept making.

They had a pickup supper in the room and afterward while June cleared up Billy continued the pen and ink illustration which she was making for a magazine.

But although June sat around with the “old” crowd in the café that night as she had done before she entered the hospital, Dick didn’t appear on the scene.

She went to see him the next morning when she knew he would be home.

“Did you come for your things?” he asked her brutally. He was sitting by the window as he had been that first night she had come to him and although she sat on his knee and twined her arms around his neck he did not stop filing his fingernails.

“I’ve beastly manners, haven’t I?” he asked her grinning. “Well, you can kiss me if you want to.”

But he met her more than halfway in the kiss and they were swept away by it. She could feel him trembling as he picked her up and carried her into the next room.

“I do love you,” he told her later, “but I can get along without you too. Better run along now. I’m going out pretty soon.”

She hated him desperately while she packed her things. But she refused to hate herself. “I don’t care. I’d sacrifice everything in the world for him,” and then stopped her packing. “I don’t see why I should take my things,” she said aloud.⁠ ⁠… “I won’t.” She hurled her suitcase back in the closet.

“You’ve got to go,” he reminded her gently, but she knew he meant it.

“I’m going to sit and wait in that café,” she informed him stubbornly as she stood by the door, pulling on her gloves, “from the time it opens in the morning until it closes at night. So you’ll know where to find me.”

Tony, the waiter, was a good friend of hers. “What are you doing around here so early in the morning?” he asked her the next day.

“I’m going to sit in here from eleven in the morning until one at night for three days,” said June, pleasantly. “I have a special purpose.”

“It’s a good enough place to sit and you’ll have plenty of company. So far as I can see, that gang of artists or whatever they call themselves hang out around here all the time. Will you tell me when they work? I ask you now.”

June couldn’t tell him, but she was relieved to find out that the “crowd” made up of reporters and young writers and artists who were out of a job and never tried to get one, still clung to the old place. She had been there seldom in the last eighteen months, and in the last four, only after eleven o’clock at night with Dick.

At least she wouldn’t be conspicuous in keeping her vigil. And keep it she would.

Billy and Bryant dropped in several times that day and evening and Bryant, unwittingly, was the cause of further mischief.

He presented her with a volume of Zuleika Dobson to while away the time with, and placed her name and his inside the cover. He had a large library and had often given her books in the two years she had known him.

But Dick came in late that night and took a seat by her side. “How are you, child?” She was suddenly made lighthearted and gay by the affection in his voice.

But he reached over to look at the book which she was reading and noticed her name with “from Bryant” under it. He looked at her a moment with lifted eyebrows and then getting up casually, sauntered out. Fortunately, Billy and Ivan and several others whom June did not know were sitting with her, so she had to resist the temptation to scream. Pure rage choked her. But it did not keep her from loving Dick desperately.

Dick joined the table the next night again, and spoke to her cheerfully. He was trying to torment her, she thought. But rather endure this agony of his casual presence than watch the doors and listen for the telephone bell to ring.

Billy had told her she was a fool. So she was. A line of Scripture flashed through her mind, “We are all fools for Christ’s sake.” She laughed suddenly and Dick took hold of her hand which was hanging by her side.

“Let’s go home,” he was saying.

“What? For the night?” she asked bitterly, knowing nevertheless that she would go.

“Come and see,” and she got up with him and went out, too dazed with her recovered happiness to say goodbye to Billy.

“Look!” And he showed her a bouquet of deep red roses. “They are a little withered, see? I cleaned up the house and bought them for you yesterday and then I saw that book and just couldn’t bring you home. What did you do with it?” he asked7 suspiciously.

“I threw it in the nearest ash can when I went over to Billy’s that night,” June said, but she didn’t add that she had finished it after he had left.

Spring came and with it that tormenting song, “The Missouri Waltz.” Played on hand organs, on neighboring phonographs, hummed by the two little girls who lived upstairs and who played in the back garden under June’s window all day long. The strains of it colored that season for her.

There was not very much to write about her now. She felt no longer that life was complicated. She no longer wondered and worried about herself and what she was going to do with her life. In fact she scarcely thought at all. She never thought about the Flame or the Clarion. It was by chance that she noticed that the editors of the magazine had finally been brought to trial after many delays, and dismissed. She read the notice in the paper with indifference. She heard that Hugh and Kenneth had both married and she was not interested enough to call on them to meet their wives.

Billy wrote to her that Terry Wode was going to China and that Ivan was leaving for Monte Carlo and asking her if she would not like to attend their going-away parties. “What is the matter with you,” Billy underlined the words heavily. “Are you dead or something?”

June would admit that there was something the matter with her. But she did not take the trouble to answer the letter. She was in love. That was all there was to it. When you were in love you couldn’t be anything else. When Dick was with her, she felt alive and completely satisfied. When he was away from her, she went around in a dream, living only with the image of him which was constantly with her.

One can understand how authors leave their heroines in the arms of her lover on the last page of the last chapter. There is so little you can say⁠—that is, until the two have incorporated their dream into their daily life and woven the spell of it through everything.

June probably could have written about herself and her lover, day after day and page after page without ever realizing that she was repeating herself.

The trouble was, she did not take her love affair and Dick as something she could incorporate into her life. He was not hers and this love was not hers. She had just come upon it by chance and snatched it to her. She knew she would not have it very long. Dick’s rather mocking attitude of casualness constantly reminded her of that. None of his plans for the future included her. At present he was working in the publicity department of a moving picture company, but he planned to act in the same capacity in the fall for a circus which had offered him the work when it made its southern tour.

“I love you, June, I love you more than anything else in the world, today. But I can’t say how I’ll feel tomorrow. It was my very good fortune to have been chucked out of that Furman Street saloon and into the hospital where you were. I have never loved anyone before and I never shall again probably. It’s just as well. It’s a very wearing emotion. Won’t you be glad to be free of it?”

“I only wish that with every kiss I give you a little of my life would leave me. It would be a lovely way to die, providing I could arrange it with God that my death would coincide with the moment you stopped loving me.”

“You nasty little thing. And think what a nuisance it would be for me. How’d I raise enough money to pay for a funeral?

“Anyway, I intend to leave you long before I stop loving you. I’d rather do it abruptly and go through the agony of parting from you than have my passion die out slowly. Unfortunately, you can’t stop loving as suddenly as you begin. Besides I want to see you for the last time when all the glamour of my affection is still there. You probably have no idea how beautiful and mysterious you are to me. It’s a continual torment to live with you.

“You are not beautiful but you appeal so to the imagination that I think all the poems in the world were written about you.

“And while I’m living with you, I’m not just living with you alone. When I hold you in my arms at night, you’re not June. I’m kissing a little street girl from Montmartre whom I’m keeping with me for the night; or you’re an eastern woman capable of any viciousness and with a knowledge of all the secret sins. Or I like to imagine you as cold and chaste, passively yielding to me because I’m stronger than you. You’ve taken the place to me of all the women in all books whom I thought I could have loved.”

The summer passed and the winter came again. Dick and June continued to live as though every day would be their last together. It added a delight to their relationship that was often indistinguishable from the keenest pain.

June often rebelled against it and there were afternoons when she walked the streets, or took bus rides, watching the women shopping on Fifth Avenue, looking at the homes of all those people who accepted permanency as the undercurrent of their lives. Those women were buying things to take home to their husbands⁠—to their babies, probably. Why couldn’t she too have a home, a husband, and babies? A dull resentment smouldered in her breast. She envied and hated them for the peace they could have which was denied to her.

IV

And then June discovered that she was about to become a mother.

There were a few days of uncertainty⁠—“Could I have miscalculated?” and then she lay crying and sobbing on the bed. She was caught!

“Don’t get caught!” her mother had said. “Whatever you do, don’t get caught.”

Well⁠—she had.

Hideous phrases flashed through her mind. The first was supposed to be a humorous one and she had heard it many times in burlesque shows. People would always laugh at the tragedies that had happened to them in the past, it would seem. She lay there and gulped as she thought about it.

Where had she heard the second phrase? It must have been at Miss Prince’s home. To the girls up there, nothing was so bad as being knocked up.

“About to become⁠—” That was an idiotic phrase anyway. Just as though it happened instantaneously. One realized that one was about to become and then one became. It followed right after. But it didn’t. There was the long wait of nine months. Plenty of time to worry and fret.

In the first place, Dick would never consent to have one. He had impressed that on her mind many times. If she insisted on having it, he would leave her⁠—leave her as soon as it began to show. Then, how could she go ahead and have it?

She thought of Dis-audrey and the long story she had told in the saloon down on the waterfront. There were homes, it seems, where you could wait for babies to arrive. Of course⁠—there was Miss Prince’s home. Lots of babies were born there. But to go to Miss Prince and say, “I have fallen. I’m going to have a baby. Will you take me in?” and feign repentance. That was impossible. She wasn’t repentant. She was not sorry she had fallen. Only sorry that she was going to have a baby. Sorry because she had been caught.

But a home was the only way open to her if she was going to have one. She could not go to her mother.

“You were willing enough to live with the man. What are you crying about now?”

“Whatever disasters my actions lead me into, I’ll have to take the consequences. I’ll be the one who will suffer, so don’t worry about me.” She had made that remark herself to Mother Grace a few years before. And now should she go whimpering home and ask her mother to share the consequences of what she had insisted on doing?

She could not sacrifice her pride and go to a home to have a baby. She could sacrifice every vestige of pride⁠—throw it all into the flames to keep her love burning. Her love for a man. But not her love for the child that was beginning to form in her.

She could not go to her mother for either help or sympathy. She had to stand alone. The same pride kept her from doing that.

Why should she expect any help from Dick anyway? He hadn’t wanted to love her or live with her. She had started the whole thing. She had told him she loved his broken nose. That he looked like Amenemhat III. That she was going to live with him no matter how much he protested. That she would follow him all over the world so that he couldn’t get away from her.

God knows he hadn’t wanted to live with her. She had clung to him knowing that sooner or later the affair (as he himself called it) would have to come to an end.

She continued excusing him for the brutality she expected he would show her in the near future.

She loved him for his irresponsibility⁠—for the happy-go-lucky way he slid through life. The way he “got out from under.” So there was no use expecting him to accept responsibility now.

It was all her fault anyway. Day after day, those long summer afternoons, she had sat in the window and watched the two little girls from the floor above, playing in the yard. One was two years old and the other five. The elder held up her skirts and pointed her toe at the lilac bush and sang the Missouri Waltz falteringly. The littlest one toddled around and got the seat of her pants filthy and ate dirt from a tablespoon that her mother had given her to play with. She was cross-eyed and chuckled ecstatically when you spoke to her. And every now and then she’d sit perfectly still and lifting up her little round face to the sky, fall into a perfect trance of happiness.

They never cried, they never fretted their mother at all. They just were alive and chortling and gleeful.

It was all their fault. It was because of them that she had found herself stopping by the side of baby buggies in the grocery store and beaming at the occupants.

Damn this mother instinct anyway.

Maybe she just wanted what she couldn’t have. That was human nature. Dick had told her that she would want a husband and babies someday and she had denied it vehemently.

Her theory had been that women only wanted children when they weren’t satisfied with their lovers. That a perfect love precluded the idea of children. She had said that she wanted only him and that she would not be satisfied with a substitute no matter how little happiness came to her through her love for him.

No, she wanted only Dick, she decided, and what was at the bottom of her desire for a child was the desire to bind Dick to her. As if that was any way to do it!

It was not a baby that she wanted. She wanted more of Dick. And she would lose Dick altogether unless she went to a doctor immediately and said nothing at all to him about it.

The thought of Mrs. Wittle flashed into her mind with her breakfast talk of operations so many years ago. If the Chicago paper had not carried detailed accounts of the investigations then being carried on into illegal operations, June would not know so much about it now. Mrs. Wittle had certainly given her detailed information too. She almost screamed as she thought of it. She jerked her mind away from the subject. It was as bad to think of as the dentist’s grinding machine which always set her mentally on edge days before she made an appointment with him and days afterward.

“Why in the world don’t you have it, June?” Billy was saying. Billy was the only one June could talk to in her hour of trouble.

“Because I’d lose Dick if I did, and because we couldn’t support it if I didn’t lose him. (But I know I would.) And because Dick and I aren’t married. He’s never once suggested it. Oh, for lots of reasons. Anyway, don’t let’s talk about it. What I want to know is, can you lend me any money and do you know the name of any doctor I can go to?”

“June, you are a fool, in every way. First because you’re so damn virtuous; then because when you do lose your virtue you pick out such a man. The last man in the world to fall for so seriously. Men like that are made for light affairs. I’m surprised that it’s lasted as long as it has.

“And gee, I’d give anything in the world to have a baby, but I can’t. I’m not made that way. I’m the most incapable sort of a person.”

“It’s the height of selfishness to bring children into the world anyway unless they’re going to have a fair chance at happiness,” June said seriously. “What do you want anyway? Just some helpless thing to share your misfortunes. You manage to have a good enough time, but the kid wouldn’t. Kids are the most conventional thing in the world anyway. We don’t mind not having a husband, but they’d probably mind not having a father. Why, I remember when I was seven years old and we were living in an awful hole in one of the worst neighborhoods in Chicago⁠—and when I walked home from school with one of the girls who lived on a decent street over by the lake, I’d always walk by the saloon⁠—we lived above it⁠—and pretend that I didn’t live there. There was a nice apartment house down the street and I’d always go in there as though I lived there, and wait in the hallway until my friends passed by. And it made me mad that we were always moving around from one place to another so that we never had any friends. I thought it would be wonderful if we could live in one house all our lives the way most of the children of the neighborhood did. And I wanted to go to dancing school when I got older, and I wanted to go to the school dances and wear pretty clothes. Children aren’t born with a radical scorn for the bourgeois class and the bourgeois things of life.”

It was four months later. June lay on a single cot bed in the home of Dr. Jane Pringle, a six-room flat in a huge apartment house on the upper East Side. Pretty soon it would be all over with. It ought not to take but a few hours more the doctor had said. Just to lie there and endure. Three hours seemed an eternity, but the minutes sped by very fast. One pain every three minutes. How fast they came! It seemed that the moments of respite could be counted in seconds. The pain came in a huge wave and she lay there writhing and tortured under it. Just when she thought she could endure it no longer, the wave passed and she could gather up her strength to endure the next one.

The door of the little hall bedroom where June lay was closed. Just before nine o’clock she heard the doctor’s small boy stamp past on his way to school. It was because of him that Dr. Pringle accepted such patients as she. She had lost her husband when he was a baby and her practice brought in very little money. Occasionally she took the case of a friend or the friend of a friend she told June.

The small boy was gone and now her door was open to the silent flat. Dr. Pringle was gone too to make several morning calls. She would be home at noon to see how June was and to make lunch for her son. Until then, June had the flat to herself. She could lie there and groan. It helped a great deal to groan every now and then. After twelve she must keep very quiet for the small boy would be back then.

There was an old singsong clock ticking in the next room, the living-room. There was a parrot there, too, and every now and then he called in to June, “Stop that noise!” and sometimes, “Poor dear, poor dear!” It took June a long time to recognize the remarks flung in at her.

A fat old bull terrier waddled into the room occasionally to look at her sympathetically. Downstairs in a room on the airshaft someone was practicing “Mimi, tu piu,” on the piano, playing it over and over again.

“A nice set for the last act,” June thought wryly. “I’m being given a chance to dramatize my misery.”

In the next interval she noticed a thick book on the table by the side of her, the story of some doctor in China. She would read that, she thought, when she got through with the business on hand. For the last couple of nights she had dreamed that she was a nurse back in the hospital again. She would have to go back there, she thought, and the idea was not disagreeable to her.

Dick was going away at the end of the week. It did not matter. Nothing mattered. Twelve hours of work a day, and no time to think, no time to be unhappy. Adele was there, in her last year now. She would have to hold open the doors for her and let her pass through first. Little Adele! She even might be head nurse on whatever ward to which June was assigned and give June orders to do this and that.

Mother Grace had arranged it so that June could go back any time. The hospital authorities thought that she had gone west to help take care of a delicate aunt. Mother Grace and Adele and June had fixed up the story between them. Without saying anything about it, it was tacitly understood that June would return to her work someday.

No use making any fuss about Dick’s going away. No use trying to follow him wherever he went. Ridiculous idea! Where would she get the money? It had been hard enough to raise money for the doctor. Dick was out of work. That was why he was going away. She was too tired to fight for him, tired of being precariously poised on the edge of an abyss of unhappiness. She had fallen into that abyss now. No one had reached out a hand to keep her from falling.

She stopped thinking then because a deep unconsciousness had overtaken her. She was sleeping the complete and dreamless sleep of exhaustion.

It had been agreed between them that Dick would call for her the following night and take her home. For she had not been able to keep her ordeal a secret after all. She would have, had it not been for the fact that Dick casually announced his departure one morning, showing her a telegram from a firm offering to pay his expenses back to Caracas. That had been a week ago and he had planned to leave at once. It had been a concession for him when he offered to remain with her two weeks longer.

“Dearest little sweetheart,” he had comforted her and had held her close and rocked her back and forth in his arms as though she were a child. And the moment had been a very bitter one for June. He could be tender to her; and she wept at the thought of the child she could not have.

She no longer thought of the child. That was over and done with. Although it was amazing how weak she was, she felt curiously clear and lighthearted. Whatever happened to her, she could stand alone and face it now.

Eight o’clock came and she was dressed and ready for Dick. Dr. Pringle had gone to a moving picture show with her son and had left June alone in the flat. In the front room was a lounge and she lay there, tired with her effort at dressing, her heart beating with expectancy. Perhaps that was his step on the stair! But it passed the door and went quickly up another flight and upstairs she heard a door open and shut.

Every now and then a taxi slowed up in front of the house, and June rushed to the window to watch for Dick to step out. But strange people descended and entered the apartment house or one of the neighboring flat buildings; or other strange people came out of the house and entered the taxi.

She got tired of jumping up to go to the window to look out. Soon the clock struck nine.

The telephone always gave a preliminary buzz before it began to ring. She had become acquainted with it while she had been lying in the little hall bedroom. She listened for it now with straining ears. Twice when it rang, the rush of hope almost suffocated her, but it was only patients calling for Dr. Pringle.

When the clock struck ten, she gave up hope, and putting on the scarf and hat, she left the house and waited on the corner for a taxi. She would rather go home alone than have Dr. Pringle find out that Dick had not called for her. If anyone pitied her, she would find it very easy to begin pitying herself. She could keep from being miserable as long as she was not sorry for herself.


“I suppose I should pin this on the pincushion,” the note which she found read, “but unfortunately you haven’t any pincushion. Why didn’t you have a pincushion for me? I go away with a grievance against you.

“I received another telegram yesterday telling me that if I wanted the job I would have to start out immediately. And to tell the truth, I was glad to do so. I have entirely too much imagination anyway. By nine o’clock yesterday morning, I was suffering the torments of the damned⁠—losing my perspective completely. After all, you are only one of God knows how many millions of women who go through the same thing, and why I should so far forget myself as to suffer the commonplace emotion of a man who is about to become a father, I don’t see. It is entirely against my principles and you would not respect me if I did not live up to my principles.

“When I return, and I hope it won’t be for several years, I shall expect to see you comfortably married to a rich man. It will be one of your patients, I suppose, if you stick to your noble resolution and go back into the hospital. And be sure it is a rich one, for it is quite likely that I shall want to borrow money from you.

“Romantic adventures must come to an end or they would not be romantic adventures.

“If you dream of me every night as you threaten to do, you will probably haunt me as you say you would like to. In all likelihood you will anyway. Habit is a strong thing, and I shall awake in the night and miss you from my arms.

“In thinking it all over, this is as good a time as any to split up. I should probably detect subconscious resentments in your attitude toward me which would build up serious counter-resentments in me.

“We could not have continued living on nothing anyway.

“Before I left I committed a last little crime. I cashed a check on a bank where I had no account for the money you will find in the enclosed envelope. This is the case where you must not let your conscience be your guide. I have spent at least five times as much in the saloon where I cashed the check, and they are acquainted with me only through the theatre where I worked last summer. The money will take care of you for a couple of weeks until you return to the hospital.

“Child, don’t be unhappy. Who knows. Perhaps my heart, scarred with the shackles of a hopeless passion will creep back someday like a frightened convict to the scene of its serfdom. Bleeding, torn from contact with an unsympathetic world, it may ask, who knows, that it be permitted once more to take its place in that least anchoritic of cells which you have provided it.

“But don’t build up any hopes. It is best, in fact, that you forget me.

“Your ever devoted swain.”

The next morning a final note came⁠—the last she received from him. It was mailed from the boat.

“When you were here and I was there,
The world did not a feather care,
Now you are there and I am here,
The world is just as cavalier.

“Ah, I had thought the world would fly
Apart, if either you or I
Had left the other; yet it sticks
As though all hearts were made of bricks.

“Strange world, yet I had also thought
That when to each we were as naught,
It would have torn its poles apart,
To mold us in a single heart.

“It didn’t then, it doesn’t now;
The world in fact, I must allow
Is so impervious to us
You’d think it didn’t give a cuss.”

“These thoughts are very helpful, dearest one. Goodbye.”

Monologue

“And the moral of that is,” quoted June as she dug her chin into Adele’s shoulder after the manner of the Duchess, “that women are more interested in men than in ideas. I thought that I was a free and emancipated young woman and I found out that I wasn’t at all, really. I got excited over socialists and the I.W.W.’s, and anarchists and birth controlists and suffragists and if I had not been working on a newspaper and bumped into them all at once, I would have gone on from one to another of them and joined them all, and kept on being fervent for years.

“As it was, I fell in love, happily at an early age, and I’m still in love. And it looks to me that this freedom is just a modernity gown, a new trapping that we women affect to capture the man we want. There are exceptions to the rule of course, but they only prove it.

“I know what I want. It’s Dick and marriage and babies! And I’ll have them yet. Wait and see.”

And the girls got up from the bench where they had been watching the sparrows fluttering around waiting for crumbs from the pockets of the little old ladies’ aprons, and hurried back to the long white wards where the twilight cast blue shadows over the beds and the patients waited for their evening meal.

Endnotes

  1. The words “she asked” are not present in the original printing and have been inferred from the context. —⁠S.E. Editor

  2. This paragraph, corresponding to the end of page 51 and the beginning of page 52 in the original printing, was originally misprinted with missing text. A later book quoting this passage has been used to reconstruct the missing text. —⁠S.E. Editor

  3. This paragraph is abruptly cut off in the original printing. —⁠S.E. Editor

  4. This paragraph was duplicated in the original printing, and the duplicate was excised from this production. —⁠S.E. Editor

  5. The words “the club” are not present in the original printing and have been inferred from the context. —⁠S.E. Editor

  6. The words “she replied” are not present in the original printing and have been inferred from the context. —⁠S.E. Editor

  7. The words “he asked” are not present in the original printing and have been inferred from the context. —⁠S.E. Editor

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