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I was feeling blithe, almost jocund. I put a match to my cigar, and just then the morning's mail was handed in. The first superscription I glanced at was in a handwriting that sent a thrill of pleasure through and through me. It was Aunt Mary's; and she was the person I loved and honored most in all the world, outside of my own household. She had been my boyhood's idol; maturity, which is fatal to so many enchantments, had not been able to... more...

Mrs. Ballinger is one of the ladies who pursue Culture in bands, as though it were dangerous to meet alone. To this end she had founded the Lunch Club, an association composed of herself and several other indomitable huntresses of erudition. The Lunch Club, after three or four winters of lunching and debate, had acquired such local distinction that the entertainment of distinguished strangers became one of its accepted functions; in recognition... more...

CHAPTER I THROWN ON THE WORLD "Miss Winnifred," said the Old Lawyer, looking keenly over and through his shaggy eyebrows at the fair young creature seated before him, "you are this morning twenty-one." Winnifred Clair raised her deep mourning veil, lowered her eyes and folded her hands. "This morning," continued Mr. Bonehead, "my guardianship is at an end." There was a tone of something like emotion in the voice of the stern old lawyer,... more...

CHAPTER I ON THE WAY WITH CECIL It was a case of declarin' time out on the house. Uh-huh—a whole afternoon. What's the use bein' a private sec. in good standin' unless you can put one over on the time-clock now and then? Besides, I had a social date; and, now Mr. Robert is back on the job so steady and is gettin' so domestic in his habits, somebody's got to represent the Corrugated Trust at these function things. The event was the... more...

WATCH-DOGS "It's a'most the only enj'yment I've got left," said the oldest inhabitant, taking a long, slow draught of beer, "that and a pipe o' baccy. Neither of 'em wants chewing, and that's a great thing when you ain't got anything worth speaking about left to chew with." He put his mug on the table and, ignoring the stillness of the summer air, sheltered the flame of a match between his cupped hands and conveyed it with infinite care to... more...


PREFACE There is an old story of a punctiliously polite Greek, who, while performing the funeral of an infant daughter, felt bound to make his excuses to the spectators for "bringing out such a ridiculously small corpse to so large a crowd." The Author, although he trusts that the present production has more vitality than the Greek gentleman's child, still feels that in these days of philosophical fiction, metaphysical romance, and novels with... more...

CHAPTER I THE UP CALL FOR TORCHY Well, it's come! Uh-huh! And sudden, too, like I knew it would, if it came at all. No climbin' the ladder for me, not while they run express elevators. And, believe me, when the gate opened, I was right there with my foot out. It was like this: One mornin' I'm in my old place behind the brass rail, at the jump-end of the buzzer. I'm everybody's slave in general, and Piddie's football in particular. You... more...

CHAPTER I VEE TIES SOMETHING LOOSE I forget just what it was Vee was rummagin' for in the drawer of her writin' desk. Might have been last month's milk bill, or a stray hair net, or the plans and specifications for buildin' a spiced layer cake with only two eggs. Anyway, right in the middle of the hunt she cuts loose with the staccato stuff, indicatin' surprise, remorse, sudden grief and other emotions. "Eh?" says I. "Is it a woman-eatin'... more...

CHAPTER I THE QUICK SHUNT FOR PUFFY I must say I didn't get much excited at first over this Marion Gray tragedy. You see, I'd just blown in from Cleveland, where I'd been shunted by the Ordnance Department to report on a new motor kitchen. And after spendin' ten days soppin' up information about a machine that was a cross between a road roller and an owl lunch wagon, and fillin' my system with army stews cooked on the fly, I'm suddenly called... more...

CHAPTER I GETTING IN WITH THE GLORY BE Sure, I was carryin' the banner. But say, I ain't one of them kids that gets callouses on the hands doin' it. When I'm handed the fresh air on payday, I don't choke to death over it. I goes out and rustles for another job. And I takes my pick, too. Why not? It's just as easy. This time I gets a bug that the new Octopus Buildin' might have been put up special for me. Anyway, it looked good from the... more...