Minnie vs. Dannie

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Minnie vs. Dannie  (1906) 
by Wallace Irwin

Extracted from Metropolitan magazine, vol. 24, 1906, pp. 476-484. Accompanying illustrations by Dan Sayre Groesbeck omitted.


A Story of San Francisco before the Earthquake


FOUR o'clock spoke glumly through the musty corridors of City Hall. The day's serious business of dodging issues and begging questions under the Grecian nose of Justice, of roguery defending knavery, of keen blades splitting hairs between sheepskin covers, was now over, and the shoddy, blundering, ill-lighted building was sinking into torpor like a monster worn out by ugly deeds. The shysters had withdrawn from the police-courts to the police-station; the District Attorney was stepping into his cab at the curb; the janitors, jovial and noisy officials, were swabbing down the pretentious tiles of the "Grand Rotunda," piling the spittoons in high and perilous columns along the wall.

Two reporters met in the hallway in front of Superior Court No. 10. The elder and taller halted the other nervously, holding him by the shoulder, much as a deputy stops a runaway witness. "Great thing you got out of the Murdock trial yesterday—great! The 'evening' fellows are going all over the files at the County Clerk's office; but I know it's no use looking there. Come along, I'm going down to the office."

"Can't go yet," said the younger man with a grin. "Got to telephone—and look up a few things."

A deep line appeared over the elder's thick, black eyebrows.

"Nothing doing, I suppose," he ventured carelessly.

"Nothing at all," said the younger. "I'm just going to stay awhile and watch 'em take a turn at the divorce mill."

The dark, oval door of Court No. 10 swung open. A fat man with a black beard was stolidly leading a little girl by the hand. She was crying softly. A large woman in bright lavender seized the child at the door, the hairpins falling from her loud, bronze hair as she leaned over.

"O honey, dear, you ain't a-going to forgit your mamma, are you?" she said. "You ain't a-going to let 'em keep you away from me always—always——"

The child buried her face in the mother's vivid tresses.

"No, mamma," she wailed, "I want to go with you—I want—I want you to go with papa!"

The woman set the child down and arose melodramatically.

"Go with him—go with that—that——"

"Come on, Babe," said the man, lifting the child carefully to his shoulders, "she don't know what she's a-talkin' about—she never did."

Judge Leggett, sitting enclosed in his high rostrum, resembling an elephantine throne of black walnut, stroked his lean, gray jaw and gazed out of the window over the dingy roofs of Mission Street. He sighed. "Well, to-morrow's a holiday—good fishing at Sausalito—I wish some of these operations—the painful ones—could be performed under anesthetics," he thought. He, too, had been having a hard day.

A bailiff arose and closed the door. The Clerk smiled mechanically, consulting his records.

"Minnie McSweeny versus Daniel McSweeny, desertion," he drawled.

Among the shadows in the rear of the courtroom three figures sat drawn into a melancholy knot; the plaintiff, the plaintiff's mother and the plaintiff's gentlemanly witness. Mrs. Baumgarten, who flanked the plaintiff on the right with a look of vigilant disapproval, was an elderly, full-faced German woman who, with roving black eyes and convex nose, decorated and overtopped by a hat of green plumage, presented the appearance of a warlike and cynical parrot. To the left the gentlemanly witness, a short man of huge shoulders, grinned with careful diplomacy from mother to daughter. His gray eyes shone warily from a face which glowed uncomfortably like a hot stove; his thick hair, rolled and pasted over his forehead, had been carefully parted and combed with a florid sweep behind the left ear. His coat was buttoned very tightly across a white, starched, collarless shirt, on the breast of which, as if to explain the absence of a necktie, a diamond scarf-pin glared.

"Vy don' you go up to der Chooch, Min?" the mother was saying, nudging the girl.

"Naw, let 'er alone!" said the man on the other hand in the tone of the practised peacemaker, "she knows all right!"

A pink-cheeked lawyer came down to them the full length of the courtroom.

"Well, come on," he said, "hurry up, the Court's waiting! Mrs. McSweeny, this is your mother, I suppose—and this—this gentleman—is this Daniel McSweeny?"

"Nix, it iss not!" squawked the parrot-like Mrs. Baumgarten. "Please tell me, if you are dot schmart, how can Tannie McSveeny been present ven he iss deserted already? Vot you say?"

"Hick Geary's me name—H. J. Geary—and I come to fix de lady——"

"Call the witness!" roared the Judge, and Minnie McSweeny walked palely to the stand. She was pretty, small and neatly dressed. Her black eyes constantly sought the floor, her small, red fingers lay meekly in her lap.

"How long ago were you married to Daniel McSweeny?" asked the pink young man.

"Two years a-comin' nex' July," answered the girl, her eyes still fixed upon the floor.

"Did he support you up to last May?"

"Sure, none better."

"Was he ever cruel to you—did he ever beat you?"

The black eyes suddenly snapped from the carpet like twin firecrackers.

"Say, dat's funny—reel odd!" she shrilled while the young lawyer involuntarily shrunk back a few steps. "Daniel McSweeny crool to me? W'y he was tame! I had 'im dat trained an' docile I could of harnessed 'im with bot' me eyes shut——"

"Order!" snapped the Judge while the bailiff turned away and the clerk smiled behind his book.

The questions continued. Daniel McSweeny had been an efficient 'longshoreman until he got into difficulties—drink, irregular work, periodical idleness.

"And then what happened?"

"Wha' d'ye t'ink?" asked Minnie reproachfully. "Dan quit, dat's all—plain quit."

"Have you anything more to tell?" asked the Court impatiently, for the shadows were now lengthening into five o'clock.

"Jest one t'ing, yer Honor," the fireworks again blazing in her eyes, "I want me walkin' papers an' I don' see w'y I don' git 'em! I didn't come here to be——"

"Trim it, Min! Don't rag de Court!" came the even, diplomatic voice of Mr. Geary from the rear of the courtroom.

The witness dismissed, Hick Geary took the chair. He mauled his black felt hat with a beefy fist and sat painfully erect, his tight, blue trousers stretched to cracking-point over his enormous knees.

"Did you know Daniel McSweeny?" asked the lawyer, consulting his watch.

"Yes, sir, sure I did," answered Hick in his even, diplomatic tone, "an', honest, I'll always t'ink dat he was a vurry disappointed man——"

"Irrelevant!" said the Judge.

Witness knew that Daniel's habits were bad, his work intermittent and his sleep irregular. He had left his wife without proper maintenance and vanished to parts unknown.

"But," said the undaunted Hick in the same mild, forbearing voice, "if yer Honor will excuse me, I want to say dat I sh'll always t'ink dat Danny McSweeny was a vurry dis——"

"Incompetent, irrelevant and immaterial," suggested the Court. "The witness is dismissed and the divorce granted, grounds desertion and non-support."

The young lawyer folded his papers in an inside pocket and walked briskly away down the corridor. The plaintiff and her escort filed sadly out.

"You don'd git no ali-money," Mrs. Baumgarten was explaining, "pecause der defender haf deserted."

Mr. Hick Geary continued in a voice of immeasurable calm, "Dat's all right, but I sh'll always t'ink——"

"Vell, oplige oder peoples py finking mit yourself!" shrieked Mrs. Baumgarten as the party separated at the portals of justice.

The coastwise sailor and the deep-sea tar, world-weary and throat-parched, perhaps from unaccustomed contact with dry land, turn eagerly from the piers to the gaudy-faced saloons which smile brilliantly, like volcanic islands, along the dun and troubled billows of the water-front. The more discriminating 'longshoremen shun these rather too obvious grottos of enchantment and steer a direct course up Pacific Street to scatter careless silver at "The Old Anchor" or "The Sailor's Rest." Here, with boastful electric-blue front, lures "The Grapevine"—or at least it is so officially recorded in the city directory and telephone book. But to its regular patrons it is known briefly and always as "Otto's," out of respect for Otto Hahn, Prop'r, whose gold-leaf signature gleams from the ground-glass windows, from the brass plate on the bar, from the prodigiously high beer glasses, locally entitled "stovepipes." Otto Hahn, Prop'r, as if further to establish his claim and title, has caused a delicately tinted crayon enlargement of Otto Hahn, Prop'r, bravely attired in the uniform of a local Scheutzen Verein, to be hung in the place of honor behind the bar, flanked on the left by an oil painting of the "Clio," one of the first famous clipper ships to round the Horn at racing speed, and on the left by a portrait of the late celebrated Jack Dempsey, fists raised defiantly over the stars and stripes around his girdle.

It was seven o'clock and Otto, his dappled apron tucked above his short, fat legs, stood on a chair, reaching painfully to adjust the blinding acetylene lamp which swung from the center of the ceiling. A drowsy Chinaman was slicing bologna at the sideboard. Leaning over a table, almost directly under the light, sat Mr. Hick Geary in the act of flicking cigarette ashes from the lapel of his Sunday coat. A half-empty "stovepipe" loomed before him.

"Vell, Hickory, you are gitting to be sooch a great dood already—so?" wheezed Otto. "Sooch a grand clo'es vot you are rearing—maype you vill be calling mit der Balace Hotel und ordering more lopsters und champagne as you can git mit Otto's. Ven vill der vedding——"

"Cut out de coddin', Otto," said Hick. "Every beautiful gazabo's got to butt inter sassiety sometimes, ain't he? I've been de leadin' lady at a divorce party dis afternoon."

"Diworce! ach! Who iss it?"

"Minnie McSwceny versus Dannie McSweeny, desertion," said Hick dispassionately gazing into the depths of his "stovepipe." Otto stared blankly, holding a blazing match till it smouldered low and seared his fat fingers.

"Don'd tell me sooch t'ings!" said Otto, tears springing to his pale eyes. "Minnie und Tannie! I vould rader pelieve dot mein hand vas separated from mein wrist!"

"You ain't next, Dutch—you never was like me," said Hick in his even, diplomatic tone. "I sh'll always t'ink dat Dannie McSweeny was a vurry disappointed man—and if yez say it's 'irrelevant,' Dutch, I'm a-goin' to soak yez.

"Wasn't it me dat was responsible fer dis? Wasn't I de hand o' Providence dat bumped dem two souls togeder—chucked me pal Dannie up against Min Baumgarten w'en she was de main fairy at a scheutzen picnic out to Shell Mound Park?

"You know Dannie—six feet t'ree of 'im, all man and t'ree fourt's heart. Strong? Say, it was easier fer him to make 'is four and five dollars a day truckin' car-wheels and railroad irons dan fer me to make six bits shovellin' fog off a ferryboat. Seems to me Dannie done more'n half de dray-horse work along de Front. It was, 'Dannie, go put on dat boatload o' grand piannas fer Belvedere,' and, 'Git McSweeny to unload dem billiard tables down to Pier Seven'—I reckon if de Oakland ferryboat had brought over a ten-story buildin' some afternoon dey would of hired Dannie to put it on 'is truck and shove it a mile or two up Market Street.

"So Dannie was de real Frenchman w'en he worked—but it was w'en he drew 'is pay dat he passed 'em all. You know, Otto. He was Willie-off-de-yacht a-hangin' out de free drink sign till 'is friends was lined up like bums before de ticket window at a soup festival. Beer never seemed to cost nobuddy nothin'—'ceptin' Dannie. Den Monday mornin' come. Dannie tired? Aw, say! fresh as a fifteen-cent bunch o' vi'lets—and jest about as poor. Plain, common guys like you and me, Otto, it's up to us to economize—but w'en a feller's born like Dannie wit' ready money in de muscles of 'is shoulders, he don't worry. He makes it easy and he shakes it easy—and usu'lly dies in de County Horspital.

"An' I says dem moral t'ings to Dannie onct. 'Come on in wit' yerself,' I says, 'go scare up a lady and blow yerself to a marriage license,' I says. 'Because ye're six feet t'ree in yer bat'robe ain't no sign ye're big enough to blow around wit'out a caretaker. Jest a small-size Tessie gurl is all yez want—somp'n wit' a pompadour and great, sad eyes what'll rubber inter yer pay-envelope of a Saturday night and pull it away from yez wit'out pain or inconvenience.'

"I says dat to 'im. And de nex' day was Sunday. De Journeyman Butchers' Entertainment and Beneficial Soci'ty was a-givin' ther annual picnic at Shell Mound Park—dat was de fourt' annual picnic dey gave dat summer. Early in de mornin' I dropped Dannie inter some swell clo'es and we went. Took de ten o'clock ferry-boat and say! it was grand. Everybuddy was dere. Tony Lorenzo Association from Lombard Street, every Dago of 'em diked out in lily-white pants and red badges; Sunflower Club from Mission Street, carryin' star-spangled canes; Billy West's Highlanders' Brass Band, a-rippin' off rag-time in such quantities dat it almost scuttled de ship. And gurls! Say, femy-nine blossoms was draped over dat ship like floral offerin's at a Chinee funeral.

"But oh, it was her dat was de candy! You couldn't look at no tulips, because Min Baumgarten was de whole bouquet! Honest, she was lovely. Pink dress and white lid—golden hair a-hangin' down 'er back like taffy. Couldn't git near 'er unless yez had a ticket of admission. Best gents on de boat—and it was sure a swell cluster—hung around 'er t'ree deep all de way over.

"And where was Danny? A-leanin' agin de rail, never raisin' 'is eyes from de water, blushin' red like a toy balloon.

"'Come on, Dan!' I says, nice and curtyus, 'starch up and I'll interdooce yez.'

"'Scratch me,' says Dan, swallerin' a lump, 'scratch me. I ain't in. I was raised a pet an' some o' dem mutts might walk on me.'

"Well, we blowed inter Shell Mound and it was a el-egant picnic. Everybuddy felt good, 'cep'n' Dannie who was a-lookin' nervous like a hen what'd jest laid a egg in a coffin. W'en de gurls was around Dannie was far, far away. But he spent money. Bought w'en it was necessary an' w'en it wasn't; bought a dollar 'n' a half's wort' o' pops at de shootin' gallery; got 'is tintype took nine times an' behaved everywheres like a gen'leman and a free spender. But it made 'im unhappy. At t'ree o'clock in de afternoon dere was a gran' ball in de dancin' pavilion. 'Come in and join de merry twistin',' I says to Dan, and he come along, pullin' back every six steps.

"W'en we got to de pavilion de band was a-rippin' a waltz right up de back. Twenty couple was a-circulatin' over de floor and more a-comin' in. All de lads seemed to be makin' a scramble fer Min Baumgarten, but Tony Lorenzo got dere first, and de nex' moment dey was a-skatin' over de wax like a pair o' candy angels. 'Bout dis time Danny come out of 'is trance all of a sudden and gheeked at Tony a-clinchin' Min in a hammerlock. He squeezed me arm tight and sort o' coughed de frog out of 'is t'roat before he spoke.

"'Say, interdooce me!' he whispers.

"Min was busy fer about twelve more dances, but durin' a breathin' spell I drug Dan 'round to where she was a-settin' 'longside of Tony.

"'Miss Baumgarten, dere's a fren' o' mine wants to know ye, and here he is,' says I, a-pointin' to Dannie.

"Min looked up, wrinklin' 'er nose reel scornful.

"'Who is yer fren'?' she in-quires wit' a giggle.

"'McSweeny's me name,' says Dannie, speakin' up reel bold and jaunty, 'Dannie McSweeny, ma'am, and de nex' dance is de lancers.'

"'Oh, is it?' says Min.

"'Sure, Flossie,' says Dan a-settin' down nex' to 'er—an' wha' d'yez t'ink he done? Took 'er lily hand in dat great mitt o' his, an' de nex' minute had kissed 'er, a good, loud one, right on de cheek! An' wha' d'yez t'ink Min done? Reached out like a cat and lifted Dan a lovely paste 'longside de ear. Smack! she went—reg'lar bulls-eye. Jest den de music struck up and Min an' Tony clinched an' went slippin' away agin, leavin' Dannie a-hangin' to de wall paper like a misfit overcoat. Dere was a red streak acrost Dannie's cheek an' everybuddy jest yowed w'en dey seen it. One yap danced up clost and pointed to it, sayin' somp'n awful cheerful, till Dan hollered, 'Rubber!' t'rowed out 'is foot and sent de guy slidin' on 'is block.

"An' de woist of it was dat Min an' Tony got a five-dollar prize as de han'somest couple on de floor.

"Well, from dat minute on Min had a mortgage on Dannie McSweeny's life. He kep' 'is searchlights a-playin' right on 'er de rest o' de afternoon. W'en de picnic broke up at five o'clock, and Min started for de train hitched to Tony's side-gear, Dan was a-follerin' 'bout t'ree yards to de rear, smokin' a cigareet and lookin' awful careless.

"On de way acrost in de ferryboat Dan got de seat behin' w'ere Tony and Min was a-singin' 'I Don' Know W'y I Love Yu,' all de members of de Tony Lorenzo Association tearin' off barber-shops in de chorus. Between verses Dan 'd chuck me in de ribs an' say right out loud, 'I don' know w'y annybuddy loves a dog-eyed Eye-talian, do you? I don' like a Dago nohow—but dey do cert'nly learn a lot o' tunes a-hollerin' all day off a vegetable wagon.'

"Onct in awhile Dan 'd open 'is mout' an' yell, 'Bananas! bananas!' till all Tony's Dago fren's 'd rubber around. Den Dan 'd blow cigareet smoke in deir faces an' holler, 'Hullo, spaghetti! ye reco-nize de langwidge, don' yez!'

"I seen trouble a-comin'.

"We got back into 'Frisco 'bout supper time and blowed inter Luchetti's restaurant fer a swell French eatfest. Tony an' Min sat like bride an' groom at a big table in de middle of de room wit' all de members of de Tony Lorenzos 'round 'em an' side by each a bunch o' pretty gurls off de boat. Me an' Dan had a table to ourselves 'way off one side o' de room, Dan a-lookin' cheerful like de wet side of a Oregon fog.

"Well, de ladies an' gent'men of de middle table cert'nly did have a swell time. Tony Lorenzo an' Toby Angellotti was de twin flowers of Italy. Dey sang solos an' dey sang doo-ets, and dey joined hands an' gave a Neopolitan Cakewalk up an' down de aisles atween de tables. Toby, who was short an' fat, an' Tony, who was long an' slim, cert'nly did look comical prancin' along de room, dodgin' chandeliers an' kickin' over chairs wit' ther high-steppin'.

"It sure made a hit wit' Min, but yez couldn't measure Dannie's face wit' a yardstick. An' Tony? It was nuts fer him—kep' a-watchin' Dan outen de corner of 'is eye, an' w'en he seen 'im a-gittin' madder an' madder it made 'im happy. Den he got chesty and swallered some more red ink an' felt called on to make a speech, 'dough I couldn't hear nobuddy hollerin'. 'Is talk was in Eye-talian, but I'm wise dat he was a-tellin' how good he was. And at de conclusion o' de ceremony he sudd'nly turned to Dannie's table wit' a grin, picked up a siphon o' sody-water an' squirted Dan square in de eye wit' it.

"Dan rose up from de table, an' gee! how big he looked! He wiped 'is face wit' 'is napkin an' made a reel nice spiel.

"'Ladies an' gents,' he said, 'Mister Lorenzo, bein' a fruit peddler, is ust to fightin' wit' cabbages an' seltzer-water. I don' do it dat way. Will Mister Lorenzo please step out onter de sidewalk, or will I be obliged to carry 'im wit' me?'

"Tony's mout' dropped open an' 'is face went green. He laid down de siphon an' made a sky-oot fer de door, like he was in de wrong place by mistake. Danny follered 'im out, not far behind. Everybuddy dropped ther knife to onct. De gurls squealed like a bushel o' ginny-hens; de Mission gang yelled, 'Fight, fight!' an' de whole picnic made a break fer de door. But dere wasn't no time fer excitement. In less dan a whisper Dan come back—alone. He had a grin on 'im like a open trunk. 'Don' git excited, gurls,' he says, 'it's all over. De dead an' dyin' is bein' tenderly cared for,' he says, 'an' de survivors is still a-runnin' in de direction of Nort' Beach.'

"So sayin' he turned up 'is coat-collar an' set down nex' to Min in de vacant chair w'ich had been vacated by Tony Lorenzo. De members of de Tony Lorenzo Association went right on eatin' spaghetti.

"'You're pretty fresh, ain't yez!' says Min, kind o' soft.

"'Sure!' says Dan, layin' 'is hand acrost hers on de table."

Hick Geary emptied the schooner before him in one Thor-like draught.

"Und den dey vas married," said Otto, who was busy filling a decanter with green syrup.

"Dey was dat," said Hick, "an' a right rough-house marriage it was. Dey went to live in a t'ree-room shanty on de East slope o' Telegraft Hill, jest above de quarry on de very flagpole o' Creation, w'ere yez could stand wit' de billygoats in de still o' de ev'nin' an' look 'way acrost de docks over Goat Island an' Alcatraz an' de Gate wit' de Dago mackerel fleet a-blowin' in ahead o' de fog.

"Min she started in to rag Dan somp'n turribul; but Dan he didn't care if she t'rew 'im off de hill, so long as she come down an' tied up 'is head afterward. Dan worked pretty reg'lar dem times; made wages an' bought Min clo'es—de swellest bunch o' sweeps on Telegraft Hill, all right, all right. Did Min t'ank Dan kin'ly fer wat he done? Not while ye're livin', Otto. Wenever ye'd see 'im in public Dan 'd be a-reachin' out kind o' bashful to take Min's hand. She'd jerk it away quick an' say, 'Aw, quit yer foolin'!' Den Dan 'd try to explain, an' Min 'd say, 'Say, Dan, ye got a head on yez like a bell—nuthin' in it but a tongue, an' dat's all de time a-clappin'.'

"Dan didn't mind. He was proud of it. He'd wink kind o' sly an' say to me, 'Ain't she de 'cute one!'

"After dey'd been married 'bout six mont's Dan got fightin' de bottle agin an' Min growed hostile. One Saturday night he come home a-rollin' a distillery in front of 'im. He'd no sooner hit de house dan dere was a racket like a truck-load o' furniture a-fallin' t'rough a bay windah. Min was arguin' wit' 'im. Nex' mornin' Dan come down to work wit' a bandage draped 'round 'is left eye. He was a-chucklin' and a-laffin' to hisself. An', w'en de Sacrimento Swede, a-pilin' orange crates, siggested he didn't see no such awful funny joke a-hangin' 'round, Dan says, 'See dat fracture?' he says, a-pointin' to 'is eye an' jest bubblin' wit' joy; 'she done dat wit' a stove-lid. I tell yez, she's a corker!'

"Well, by de end o' de first year Dan had joined de Saturday Night Club pretty reg'lar. Every time he'd come home wit' a ballyhoo Min 'd re-fuse to give 'im anny supper—ust to toss cups an' saucers at 'im an' tell 'im to help hisself. Dan was most a cripple from de way she mauled 'im, but he never took it serious. Ust to come down to de wharf an' tell us how Min had busted a rockin' chair over 'is head, an' laff as if he'd married de sweetest lady atween Nort' Beach an' Rincon Hill.

"Onct he arrived at 'is peaceful cot at about half past two a.m. in de mornin'. It was Janooary an' a ice-cold drizzle was a-drippin' in from de Gate. Dan climbed up de hill reel tired. Set down on de front porch. Lights out, door locked. Pretty soon Min peeked out t'rough a windah. 'Sippose ye t'ink ye're a-comin' in?' she says. 'Dat's wat I expects I was led to t'ink,' says Dan quite merrily. 'Well, set dere an' tink awhile,' says Min. 'Dis ain't no all-night hotel!' an' wit' dat bang goes de windah. 'She knows wat to do all right!' says Dan, a-chucklin' an' a-laffin' to hisself as he stretched hisself out in a comfortable puddle an' went to sleep. I reckon he'd o' froze to deat', but Min sneaked out an' covered 'im wit' a rubber slicker as soon 's he was fast asleep.

"Well, dem was sure happy days fer Dan. Always some excitement; an' he never quit a-feelin' proud o' Min an' de way she was nex' to 'er job.

"But come las' May somp'n busted. Dan come up to 'is qui't home nest as usu'l expectin' to be greeted wit' a ton o' coal. No such t'ing. Min had de table all set fer 'im white an' pretty. Floor swept, bed made. Dan walked in an' set down to de table, kind o' watchin' out o' de corner of 'is eye for a chunk o' china-ware to up an' hit 'im. Nuthin' did. Min, who was busy cookin' beefsteak an' onions, smiled qui't an' pleasant an' put de grub on 'is plate as gentle as a maiden's prayer.

"'Say, Min, I reckon I stayed out kind o' late fer supper, didn' I?' says Dan at last.

"'Oh, did ye?' says Min in a mother-come-fan-me-I'm-dyin'-away tone o' voice.

"I blowed most o' me pay, but I paid de grocery bill down to Coster's,' says Dan, gittin' ready to jump.

"'Dat's good,' says Min, a-lookin' out o' de windah.

"Dan never et much supper. He went to bed worried an' got up worried. Nex' mornin' he come down early to de pier an' worked like a steam derrick all day, but he drunk neat w'iskey at noon, an' by eight o'clock at night was pretty good wit' himself. Never went home dat night or de nex'. Stayed away a week.

"Fin'lly, after he'd spent all he could make or borrah—struck you fer a stake, didn' he, Otto?—he drawed togeder 'is nerve an' climbed up Telegraft Hill agin. De door of 'is shanty was a-waitin' ajar fer 'is return. De front room was as neat as wax. Min was a-settin' by de door a-smilin' dat gentle an' fergivin' smile. De fam'ly broom was a-leanin' up agin de wall, but she never reached fer it; dere was a nice empty beer bottle a-settin' handy an' convenient, but she never grabbed it, stove-lid stayed on de stove, cups an' saucers on de table, all peaceful an' har-monious. Dan seen dem t'ings an' gazed all a-blank, not knowin' w'at to do.

"A warm an' comfortin' supper was bein' kep' fer Dan in de oven—reg'lar blankit w'en it was all laid out on de table. Min led Dan gently over to de table an' helped 'im into a chair. Placed before 'im a large-size plate o' corn beef an' cabbage an' a cup o' coffee. Dan lifted de plate twict an' set it down. He looked de saddest way at Min, who was a-sewin' by de door, not a-makin' anny disturbance. He started to lift a mout'ful o' corn beef, but dropped 'is knife on 'is plate.

"Sudd'nly a turribul t'ought twisted up 'is face like a jumpin' toothache. He got up, walked over to de wall an' put on 'is hat. He opened de door, stoppin' a minute to swaller 'is tonsils as he looked at Min.

"'I'm on now, Min,' he says, 'I tumble. You don' love me no more.'

"I never seen 'im since, Min never seen 'im since. Wher's he gone? Search me an' de water-front—you won't find 'im."

A tall, sad Jackie with a "Wyoming" ribbon around his cap was eating cloves from the tray on the bar. Two Swedish 'longshoremen sat in the corner, their bland, square gaze turned stolidly in the direction of Mr. Geary.

"Say, Otto, wat's de matter wit' yer steam beer to-night?" asked Hick, shoving forth his schooner.

"Vat iss der matter mit it? Does it nicht come cold enough?" asked Otto.

"Yes, Dutch, it comes cold enough."

"Does it nicht come sharp enough?"

"Sure, it comes sharp like a razor."

"Vell, vat iss der matter mit it?"

"It don't come often enough," said Hick, winking to a Swede as he sifted some mealy tobacco into a brown cigarette paper.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1927.

The author died in 1959, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 60 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.