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- T. Tembarom - 2/104 -
that the long-legged, clean youth with the grin never added fuel to the flame of his wrath. He was a common young man, who was not marked by special brilliancy of intelligence, but he had a clear head and a good temper, and a queer aptitude for being able to see himself in the other man's shoes--his difficulties and moods. This ended in his being tried with bits of new work now and then. In an emergency he was once sent out to report the details of a fire. What he brought back was usable, and his elation when he found he had actually "made good" was ingenuous enough to spur Galton, the editor, into trying him again.
To Tembarom this was a magnificent experience. The literary suggestion implied by being "on a newspaper" was more than he had hoped for. If you have sold newspapers, and slept in a barrel or behind a pile of lumber in a wood-yard, to report a fire in a street- car shed seems a flight of literature. He applied himself to the careful study of newspapers--their points of view, their style of phrasing. He believed them to be perfect. To attain ease in expressing himself in their elevated language he felt to be the summit of lofty ambition. He had no doubts of the exaltation of his ideal. His respect and confidence almost made Galton cry at times, because they recalled to him days when he had been nineteen and had regarded New York journalists with reverence. He liked Tembarom more and more. It actually soothed him to have him about, and he fell into giving him one absurd little chance after another. When he brought in "stuff" which bore too evident marks of utter ignorance, he actually touched it up and used it, giving him an enlightening, ironical hint or so. Tembarom always took the hints with gratitude. He had no mistaken ideas of his own powers. Galton loomed up before him a sort of god, and though the editor was a man with a keen, though wearied, brain and a sense of humor, the situation was one naturally productive of harmonious relations. He was of the many who unknowingly came in out of the cold and stood in the glow of Tembarom's warm fire, or took refuge from the heat in his cool breeze. He did not know of the private, arduous study of journalistic style, and it was not unpleasing to see that the nice young cub was gradually improving. Through pure modest fear or ridicule, Tembarom kept to himself his vaulting ambition. He practised reports of fires, weddings, and accidents in his hall bedroom.
A hall bedroom in a third-rate boarding-house is not a cheerful place, but when Tembarom vaguely felt this, he recalled the nights spent in empty trucks and behind lumber-piles, and thought he was getting spoiled by luxury. He told himself that he was a fellow who always had luck. He did not know, neither did any one else, that his luck would have followed him if he had lived in a coal-hole. It was the concomitant of his normal build and outlook on life. Mrs. Bowse, his hard-worked landlady, began by being calmed down by his mere bearing when he came to apply for his room and board. She had a touch of grippe, and had just emerged from a heated affray with a dirty cook, and was inclined to battle when he presented himself. In a few minutes she was inclined to battle no longer. She let him have the room. Cantankerous restrictions did not ruffle him.
"Of course what you say GOES," he said, giving her his friendly grin. "Any one that takes boarders has GOT to be careful. You're in for a bad cold, ain't you?"
"I've got grippe again, that's what I've got," she almost snapped.
"Did you ever try Payson's 'G. Destroyer'? G stands for grippe, you know. Catchy name, ain't it? They say the man that invented it got ten thousand dollars for it. 'G. Destroyer.' You feel like you have to find out what it means when you see it up on a boarding. I'm just over grippe myself, and I've got half a bottle in my pocket. You carry it about with you, and swallow one every half-hour. You just try it. It set me right in no time."
He took the bottle out of his waistcoat pocket and handed it to her. She took it and turned it over.
"You're awful good-natured,"--She hesitated,--"but I ain't going to take your medicine. I ought to go and get some for myself. How much does it cost?"
"It's on the bottle; but it's having to get it for yourself that's the matter. You won't have time, and you'll forget it."
"That's true enough," said Mrs. Bowse, looking at him sharply. "I guess you know something about boarding-houses."
"I guess I know something about trying to earn three meals a day--or two of them. It's no merry jest, whichever way you do it."
When he took possession of his hall bedroom the next day and came down to his first meal, all the boarders looked at him interestedly. They had heard of the G. Destroyer from Mrs. Bowse, whose grippe had disappeared. Jim Bowles and Julius Steinberger looked at him because they were about his own age, and shared a hall bedroom on his floor; the young woman from the notion counter in a down-town department store looked at him because she was a young woman; the rest of the company looked at him because a young man in a hall bedroom might or might not be noisy or objectionable, and the incident of the G. Destroyer sounded good-natured. Mr. Joseph Hutchinson, the stout and discontented Englishman from Manchester, looked him over because the mere fact that he was a new-comer had placed him by his own rash act in the position of a target for criticism. Mr. Hutchinson had come to New York because he had been told that he could find backers among profuse and innumerable multi- millionaires for the invention which had been the haunting vision of his uninspiring life. He had not been met with the careless rapture which had been described to him, and he was becoming violently antagonistic to American capital and pessimistic in his views of American institutions. Like Tembarom's father, he was the resentful Englishman.
"I don't think much o' that chap," he said in what he considered an undertone to his daughter, who sat beside him and tried to manage that he should not be infuriated by waiting for butter and bread and second helpings. A fine, healthy old feudal feeling that servants should be roared at if they did not "look sharp" when he wanted anything was one of his salient characteristics.
"Wait a bit, Father; we don't know anything about him yet," Ann Hutchinson murmured quietly, hoping that his words had been lost in the clatter of knives and forks and dishes.
As Tembarom had taken his seat, he had found that, when he looked across the table, he looked directly at Miss Hutchinson; and before the meal ended he felt that he was in great good luck to be placed opposite an object of such singular interest. He knew nothing about "types," but if he had been of those who do, he would probably have said to himself that she was of a type apart. As it was, he merely felt that she was of a kind one kept looking at whether one ought to or not. She was a little thing of that exceedingly light slimness of build which makes a girl a childish feather-weight. Few girls retain it after fourteen or fifteen. A wind might supposably have blown her away, but one knew it would not, because she was firm and steady on her small feet. Ordinary strength could have lifted her with one hand, and would have been tempted to do it. She had a slim, round throat, and the English daisy face it upheld caused it to suggest to the mind the stem of a flower. The roundness of her cheek, in and out of which totally unexpected dimples flickered, and the forget-me-not blueness of her eyes, which were large and rather round also, made her look like a nice baby of singularly serious and observing mind. She looked at one as certain awe-inspiring things in perambulators look at one-- with a far and clear silence of gaze which passes beyond earthly obstacles and reserves a benign patience with follies. Tembarom felt interestedly that one really might quail before it, if one had anything of an inferior quality to hide. And yet it was not a critical gaze at all. She wore a black dress with a bit of white collar, and she had so much soft, red hair that he could not help recalling one or two women who owned the same quantity and seemed able to carry it only as a sort of untidy bundle. Hers looked entirely under control, and yet was such a wonder of burnished fullness that it tempted the hand to reach out and touch it. It became Tembarom's task during the meal to keep his eyes from turning too often toward it and its owner.
If she had been a girl who took things hard, she might have taken her father very hard indeed. But opinions and feelings being solely a matter of points of view, she was very fond of him, and, regarding him as a sacred charge and duty, took care of him as though she had been a reverentially inclined mother taking care of a boisterous son. When his roar was heard, her calm little voice always fell quietly on indignant ears the moment it ceased. It was her part in life to act as a palliative: her mother, whose well-trained attitude toward the ruling domestic male was of the early Victorian order, had lived and died one. A nicer, warmer little woman had never existed. Joseph Hutchinson had adored and depended on her as much as he had harried her. When he had charged about like a mad bull because he could not button his collar, or find the pipe he had mislaid in his own pocket, she had never said more than "Now, Mr. Hutchinson," or done more than leave her sewing to button the collar with soothing fingers, and suggest quietly that sometimes he DID chance to carry his pipe about with him. She was of the class which used to call its husband by a respectful surname. When she died she left him as a sort of legacy to her daughter, spending the last weeks of her life in explaining affectionately all that "Father" needed to keep him quiet and make him comfortable.
Little Ann had never forgotten a detail, and had even improved upon some of them, as she happened to be cleverer than her mother, and had, indeed, a far-seeing and clear young mind of her own. She had been called "Little Ann" all her life. This had held in the first place because her mother's name had been Ann also, and after her mother's death the diminutive had not fallen away from her. People felt it belonged to her not because she was especially little, though she was a small, light person, but because there was an affectionate humor in the sound of it.
Despite her hard needs, Mrs. Bowse would have faced the chance of losing two boarders rather than have kept Mr. Joseph Hutchinson but for Little Ann. As it was, she kept them both, and in the course of three months the girl was Little Ann to almost every one in the house. Her normalness took the form of an instinct which amounted to genius for seeing what people ought to have, and in some occult way filling in bare or trying places.
"She's just a wonder, that girl," Mrs. Bowse said to one boarder after another.
"She's just a wonder," Jim Bowles and Julius Steinberger murmured to each other in rueful confidence, as they tilted their chairs against the wall of their hall bedroom and smoked. Each of the shabby and
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