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- The Fashionable Adventures of Joshua Craig - 1/47 -


THE FASHIONABLE ADVENTURES OF JOSHUA CRAIG

A NOVEL

BY DAVID GRAHAM PHILLIPS

CONTENTS

I.--MR. CRAIG ARRAYS HIMSELF II.--IN THE BEST SOCIETY III.--A DESPERATE YOUNG WOMAN IV.--"HE ISN'T LIKE US" V.--ALMOST HOOKED VI.--MR. CRAIG IN SWEET DANGER VII.--MRS. SEVERENCE IS ROUSED VIII.--MR. CRAIG CONFIDES IX.--SOMEWHAT CYCLONIC X.--A BELATED PROPOSAL XI.--MADAM BOWKER HEARS THE NEWS XII.--PUTTING DOWN A MUTINY XIII.--A MEMORABLE MEETING XIV.--MAGGIE AND JOSH XV.--THE EMBASSY GARDEN PARTY XVI.--A FIGHT AND A FINISH XVII.--A NIGHT MARCH XVIII.--PEACE AT ANY PRICE XIX.--MADAM BOWKER'S BLESSING XX.-MR. CRAIG KISSES THE IDOL'S FOOT XXI.--A SWOOP AND A SCRATCH XXII.--GETTING ACQUAINTED XXIII.--WHAT THE MOON SAW AND DID XXIV.--"OUR HOUSE IS AFIRE" XXV.--MRS. JOSHUA CRAIG

THE FASHIONABLE ADVENTURES OF JOSHUA CRAIG

CHAPTER I

MR. CRAIG ARRAYS HIMSELF

It was one of the top-floor-rear flats in the Wyandotte, not merely biggest of Washington's apartment hotels, but also "most exclusive"--which is the elegant way of saying most expensive. The Wyandotte had gone up before landlords grasped the obvious truth that in a fire-proof structure locations farthest from noise and dust should and could command highest prices; so Joshua Craig's flat was the cheapest in the house. The ninety dollars a month loomed large in his eyes, focused to little-town ideas of values; it was, in fact, small for shelter in "the de luxe district of the de luxe quarter," to quote Mrs. Senator Mulvey, that simple, far- Western soul, who, finding snobbishness to be the chief distinguishing mark of the Eastern upper classes, assumed it was a virtue, acquired it laboriously, and practiced it as openly and proudly as a preacher does piety. Craig's chief splendor was a sitting-room, called a parlor and bedecked in the red plush and Nottingham that represent hotel men's probably shrewd guess at the traveling public's notion of interior opulence. Next the sitting- room, and with the same dreary outlook, or, rather, downlook, upon disheveled and squalid back yards, was a dingy box of a bedroom. Like the parlor, it was outfitted with furniture that had degenerated upward, floor by floor, from the spacious and luxurious first-floor suites. Between the two rooms, in dark mustiness, lay a bathroom with suspicious-looking, wood-inclosed plumbing; the rusted iron of the tub peered through scuffs and seams in the age-grayed porcelain.

Arkwright glanced from the parlor where he was sitting into the gloom of the open bathroom and back again. His cynical brown-green eyes paused upon a scatter of clothing, half-hiding the badly- rubbed red plush of the sofa--a mussy flannel nightshirt with mothholes here and there; kneed trousers, uncannily reminiscent of a rough and strenuous wearer; a smoking-jacket that, after a youth of cheap gayety, was now a frayed and tattered wreck, like an old tramp, whose "better days" were none too good. On the radiator stood a pair of wrinkled shoes that had never known trees; their soles were curved like rockers. An old pipe clamored at his nostrils, though it was on the table near the window, the full length of the room from him. Papers and books were strewn about everywhere. It was difficult to believe these unkempt and uncouth surroundings, and the personality that had created them, were actually being harbored behind the walls of the Wyandotte.

"What a hole!" grumbled Arkwright. He was in evening clothes, so correct in their care and in their carelessness that even a woman would have noted and admired. "What a mess! What a hole!"

"How's that?" came from the bedroom in an aggressive voice, so penetrating that it seemed loud, though it was not, and much roughened by open-air speaking. "What are you growling about?"

Arkwright raised his tone: "Filthy hole!" said he. "Filthy mess!"

Now appeared in the bedroom door a tall young man of unusual strength and nearly perfect proportions. The fine head was carried commandingly; with its crop of dark, matted hair it suggested the rude, fierce figure-head of a Viking galley; the huge, aggressively-masculine features proclaimed ambition, energy, intelligence. To see Josh Craig was to have instant sense of the presence of a personality. The contrast between him standing half- dressed in the doorway and the man seated in fashionable and cynically-critical superciliousness was more than a matter of exteriors. Arkwright, with features carved, not hewn as were Craig's, handsome in civilization's over-trained, overbred extreme, had an intelligent, superior look also. But it was the look of expertness in things hardly worth the trouble of learning; it was aristocracy's highly-prized air of the dog that leads in the bench show and tails in the field. He was like a firearm polished and incrusted with gems and hanging in a connoisseur's wall-case; Josh was like a battle-tested rifle in the sinewy hands of an Indian in full war-paint. Arkwright showed that he had physical strength, too; but it was of the kind got at the gymnasium and at gentlemanly sport--the kind that wins only where the rules are carefully refined and amateurized. Craig's figure had the solidity, the tough fiber of things grown in the open air, in the cold, wet hardship of the wilderness.

Arkwright's first glance of admiration for this figure of the forest and the teepee changed to a mingling of amusement and irritation. The barbarian was not clad in the skins of wild beasts, which would have set him off superbly, but was trying to get himself arrayed for a fashionable ball. He had on evening trousers, pumps, black cotton socks with just enough silk woven in to give them the shabby, shamed air of having been caught in a snobbish pretense at being silk. He was buttoning a shirt torn straight down the left side of the bosom from collar-band to end of tail; and the bosom had the stiff, glassy glaze that advertises the cheap laundry.

"Didn't you write me I must get an apartment in this house?" demanded he.

"Not in the attic," rejoined Arkwright.

"I can't afford anything better."

"You can't afford anything so bad."

"Bad!"

Craig looked round as pleased as a Hottentot with a string of colored glass beads. "Why, I've got a private sitting-room AND a private bath! I never was so well-off before in my life. I tell you, Grant, I'm not surprised any more that you Easterners get effete and worthless. I begin to like this lolling in luxury, and I keep the bell-boys on the jump. Won't you have something to drink?"

Arkwright pointed his slim cane at the rent in the shirt. "What are you going to do with that?" said he.

"This? Oh!"--Josh thrust his thick backwoods-man's hand in the tear--"Very simple. A safety-pin or so from the lining of the vest--excuse me, waistcoat--into the edge of the bosom."

"Splendid!" ejaculated Arkwright. "Superb!"

Craig, with no scent for sarcasm so delicate, pushed on with enthusiasm: "The safety-pin's the mainstay of bachelor life," said he rhetorically. "It's his badge of freedom. Why, I can even repair socks with it!"

"Throw that shirt away," said Arkwright, with a contemptuous switch of his cane. "Put on another. You're not dressing for a shindy in a shack."

"But it's the only one of my half-dozen that has a bang-up bosom."

"Bang-up? That sheet of mottled mica?"

Craig surveyed the shiny surface ruefully. "What's the matter with this?" he demanded.

"Oh, nothing," replied Arkwright, in disgust. "Only, it looks more like something to roof a house with than like linen for a civilized man."

Craig reared. "But, damn it, Grant, I'm not civilized. I'm a wild man, and I'm going to stay wild. I belong to the common people, and it's my game--and my preference, too--to stick to them. I'm willing to make concessions; I'm not a fool. I know there was a certain amount of truth in those letters you took the trouble to write me from Europe. I know that to play the game here in Washington I've got to do something in society. But"--here Josh's eyes flashed, and he bent on his friend a look that was impressive--"I'm still going to be myself. I'll make 'em accept me as I am. Dealing with men as individuals, I make them do what _I_ want, make 'em like me as I am."


The Fashionable Adventures of Joshua Craig - 1/47

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