The second story begins on the Atlantic Avenue platform of the Lexington Avenue subway. It is 9 A.M., and a crowded train is pulling out. Just before the train leaves a young man steps off one of the cars, leaving behind him (though not at once noticed) a rattan suitcase. This young man disappears in the usual fashion, viz., by mingling with the crowd. When the train gets to the end of the run the unclaimed suitcase is opened, and found to contain—continued on page 186.
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Every now and then we take a stroll up Irving Place. It is changing slowly, but it still has much of the flavour that Arthur Maurice had in mind when he christened It "the heart of O. Henry land." Number 55, the solid, bleached brownstone house where O. Henry once lived, is still there: it seems to be some sort of ecclesiastical rendezvous, if one may judge by the letters C.H.A. on the screen and the pointed carving of the doorway. Number 53, next door, always interests us greatly: the windows give a glimpse of the most extraordinary number of cages of canaries.
The old German theatre seems to have changed its language: the boards speak now in Yiddish. The chiropractor and psycho-analyst has invaded the Place, as may be seen by a sign on the eastern side. O. Henry would surely have told a yarn about him if he had been there fifteen years ago. There are still quite a number of the old brown houses, with their iron railings and little patches of grass. The chocolate factory still diffuses its pleasant candied whiff. At noontime the street is full of the high-spirited pupils of the Washington Irving High School. As for the Irving house itself, it is getting a new coat of paint. The big corset works, we dare say, has come since O. Henry's time. We had quite an adventure there once. We can't remember how it came about, but for some reason or other we went to that building to see the chief engineer. All we can remember about it was that he had been at sea at one time, and we went to see him on some maritime errand. We found that he and his family lived in a comfortable apartment on the roof of the factory, and we remember making our way, with a good many blushes, through several hundred or thousand young ladies who were industriously working away at their employer's business and who seemed to us to be giggling more than necessary. After a good deal of hunting we found our way to a secret stair and reached our seafaring engineer of the corset factory in his eyrie, where (we remember) there were oil paintings of ships on the walls and his children played about on the roof as though on the deck of a vessel.
Irving Place is also very rich in interesting little shops—laundries, tailors, carpenters, stationers, and a pleasant bookshop. It is a haunt of hand-organ men. The cool tavern at the corner of Eighteenth, where Con Delaney tended the bar in the days when O. Henry visited it, is there still. All along the little byway is a calm, genteel, domestic mood, in spite of the encroachments of factories and apartment houses. There are window boxes with flowers, and a sort of dim suffusion of conscious literary feeling. One has a suspicion that in all those upper rooms are people writing short stories. "Want to see a freak?" asks the young man in the bookshop as we are looking over his counters. We do, of course, and follow his animated gesture. Across the street comes a plump young woman, in a very short skirt of a violent blue, with a thick mane of bobbed hair, carrying her hat in her hand. She looks rather comfortable and seemly to us, but something about her infuriates the bookseller. He is quite Freudian in his indignation that any young woman should habit herself so. We wonder what the psycho-analyst a few blocks below would say about it. And walking a few paces further, one comes upon the green twitter, the tended walks and pink geranium beds of Gramercy Park.
* * * * *
There is no time when we need spiritual support so much as when we are having our hair cut, for indeed it is the only time when we are ever thoroughly and entirely Bored. But having found a good-natured barber who said he would not mind our reading a book while he was shearing, we went through with it. The ideal book to read at such a time (we offer you this advice, brave friends) is the "Tao" of Lao-Tse, that ancient and admirable Chinese sage. (Dwight Goddard's translation is very agreeable.) "The Tao," as of course you know, is generally translated The Way, i.e., the Way of Life of the Reasonable Man.
Lao-Tse, we assert, is the ideal author to read while the barber is at his business. He answers every inquiry that will be made, and all you have to do is hold the book up and point to your favourite marked passages.
When the barber says, genially, "Well, have you done your Christmas shopping yet?" we raise the book and point to this maxim:
Taciturnity is natural to man.
When he says, "How about a nice little shampoo this morning?" we are prompt to indicate:
The wise man attends to the inner significance of things and does not concern himself with outward appearances.
When, as we sit in the chair, we see (in the mirror before us) the lovely reflection of the beautiful manicure lady, and she arches her eyebrows at us to convey the intimation that we ought to have our hands attended to, old Lao-Tse is ready with the answer. We reassure ourself with his remark:
Though he be surrounded with sights that are magnificent, the wise man will remain calm and unconcerned.
When the shine boy offers to burnish our shoes, we call his attention to:
He who closes his mouth and shuts his sense gates will be free from trouble to the end of life.
When the barber suggests that if we were now to have a liberal douche of bay rum sprayed over our poll it would be a glittering consummation of his task, we show him the words:
If one tries to improve a thing, he mars it.
And when (finally) the irritated tonsor suggests that if we don't wait so long next time before getting our hair cut we will not be humiliated by our condition, we exhibit Lao-Tse's aphorism:
The wise man is inaccessible to favour or hate; he cannot be reached by profit or injury; he cannot be honoured or humiliated.
"It's very easy," says the barber as we pay our check; "just drop in here once a month and we'll fix you up." And we point to:
The wise man lives in the world, but he lives cautiously, dealing with the world cautiously. Many things that appear easy are full of difficulties.
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To a lot of people who are in a mortal scurry and excitement what is so maddening as the calm and unruffled serenity of a dignified philosopher who gazes unperturbed upon their pangs? So did we meditate when facing the deliberate and mild tranquillity of the priestly person presiding over the bulletin board announcing the arrival of trains at the Pennsylvania Station. It was in that desperate and curious limbo known as the "exit concourse," where baffled creatures wait to meet others arriving on trains and maledict the architect who so planned matters that the passengers arrive on two sides at once, so that one stands grievously in the middle slewing his eyes to one side and another in a kind of vertigo, attempting to con both exits. We cannot go into this matter in full (when, indeed, will we find enough white paper and enough energy to discuss anything in full, in the way, perhaps, Henry James would have blanketed it?), but we will explain that we were waiting to meet someone, someone we had never seen, someone of the opposite sex and colour, in short, that rare and desirable creature a cook, imported from another city, and she had missed her train, and all we knew was her first name and that she would wear a "brown turban." After prowling distraitly round the station (and a large station it is) and asking every likely person if her name was Amanda, and being frowned upon and suspected as a black slaver, and thinking we felt on our neck the heated breath and handcuffs of the Travellers' Aid Society, we decided that Amanda must have missed her train and concluded to wait for the next. Then it was, to return to our thesis, that we had occasion to observe and feel in our own person the wretched pangs of one in despair facing the gentle—shall we say hesychastic?—peace and benevolent quietness of the man at the bulletin board. Bombarded with questions by the impatient and anxious crowd, with what pacific good nature he answered our doubts and querulities. And yet how irritating was his calmness, his deliberation, the very placidity of his mien as he surveyed his clacking telautograph and leisurely took out his schoolroom eraser, rubbed off an inscription, then polished the board with a cloth, then looked for a piece of chalk and wrote in a fine curly hand some notation about a train from Cincinnati in which we were not at all interested. Ah, here we are at last! Train from Philadelphia! Arriving on track Number—; no, wrong again! He only change 5 minutes late to 10 minutes late. The crowd mutters and fumes. The telautograph begins to stutter and we gaze at it feverishly. It stops again and our dominie looks at it calmly. He taps it gently with his finger. We wonder, is it out of order? Perhaps that train is already coming in and he doesn't know it, and Amanda may be wandering lost somewhere in the vast vistas of the station looking for us. Shall we dash up to the waiting room and have another look? But Amanda does not know the station, and there are so many places where benches are put, and she might think one of those was the waiting room that had been mentioned. And then there is this Daylight Saving time mix-up. In a sudden panic we cannot figure out whether Philadelphia time is an hour ahead of New York time or an hour behind. We told Amanda to take the one o'clock from Philadelphia. Well, should she arrive here at two o'clock or at four? It being now 5:10 by our time, what are we to do? The telautograph clicks. The priestly person slowly and gravely writes down that the Philadelphia train is arriving on Track 6. There is a mad rush: everyone dashes to the gate. And here, coming up the stairs, is a coloured lady whose anxiously speculating eye must be the one we seek. In the mutuality of our worry we recognize each other at once. We seize her in triumph; in fact, we could have embraced her. All our anguish is past. Amanda is ours!
THOUGHTS IN THE SUBWAY
We hear people complain about the subway: its brutal competitive struggle, its roaring fury and madness. We think they have not sufficiently considered it.
Any experience shared daily and for a long time by a great many people comes to have a communal and social importance; it is desirable to fill it with meaning and see whether there may not be some beauty in it. The task of civilization is not to be always looking wistfully back at a Good Time long ago, or always panting for a doubtful millennium to come; but to see the significance and secret of that which is around us. And so we say, in full seriousness, that for one observer at any rate the subway is a great school of human study. We will not say that it is an easy school: it is no kindergarten; the curriculum is strenuous and wearying, and not always conducive to blithe cheer.
But what a tide of humanity, poured to and fro in great tides over which the units have little control. What a sharp and troubled awareness of our fellow-beings, drawn from study of those thousands of faces—the fresh living beauty of the girls, the faces of men empty of all but suffering and disillusion, a shabby errand boy asleep, goggling with weariness and adenoids—so they go crashing through the dark in a patient fellowship of hope and mysterious endurance. How can one pass through this quotidian immersion in humanity without being, in some small degree, enriched by that admiring pity which is the only emotion that can permanently endure under the eye of a questioning star?
Why, one wonders, should we cry out at the pangs and scuffles of the subway? Do we expect great things to come to pass without corresponding suffering? Some day a great poet will be born in the subway—spiritually speaking; one great enough to show us the terrific and savage beauty of this multitudinous miracle. As one watches each of those passengers, riding with some inscrutable purpose of his own (or an even more inscrutable lack of purpose) toward duty or liberation, he may be touched with anger and contempt toward individuals; but he must admit the majesty of the spectacle in the mass. One who loves his country for a certain candour and quick vigour of spirit will view the scene again and again in the hope of spying out some secrets of the national mind and destiny. Daily he bathes in America. He has that curious sense of mystical meaning in common things that a traveller feels coming home from abroad, when he finds even the most casual glimpses strangely pregnant with national identity. In the advertisements, despite all their absurdities; in voices humorous or sullen; even in the books that the girls are reading (for most girls read books in the subway) he will try to divine some authentic law of life.
He is but a poor and mean-spirited lover—whether of his city, his country, or anything else—who loves her only because he has known no other. We are shy of vociferating patriotism because it is callow and empty, sprung generally from mere ignorance. The true enthusiast, we would like to think, is he who can travel daily some dozen or score of miles in the subway, plunged in the warm wedlock of the rush hours; and can still gather some queer loyalty to that rough, drastic experience. Other than a sense of pity and affection toward those strangely sculptured faces, all busy upon the fatal tasks of men, it is hard to be precise as to just what he has learned. But as the crowd pours from the cars, and shrugs off the burden of the journey, you may see them looking upward to console themselves with perpendicular loveliness leaping into the clear sky. Ah, they are well trained. All are oppressed and shackled by things greater than themselves; yet within their own orbits of free movement they are masters of the event. They are patient and friendly, and endlessly brave.
The train roared through the subway, that warm typhoon whipping light summer dresses in a multitudinous flutter. All down the bright crowded aisle of patient humanity I could see their blowing colours.
My eyes were touched with Truth: I saw them as they are, beautiful and brave.
Is Time never sated with loveliness? How many million such he has devoured, and must he take these, too? They are so young, so slender, so untutored, such unconscious vessels of amazing life; so courageous in their simple finery, so unaware of the Enemy that waits for us all. With what strange cruelties will he trouble them, their very gayety a temptation to his hand? See them on Broadway at the lunch hour, pouring in their vivacious thousands onto the pavement. Is there no one who wonders about these merry little hostages? Can you look on them without marvelling at their gallant mien?
They are aware of their charms, but unconscious of their loveliness. Surely they are a new generation of their sex, cool, assured, even capable. They are happy, because they do not think too much; they are lovely, because they are so perishable, because (despite their naive assumption of certainty) one knows them so delightfully only an innocent ornament of this business world of which they are so ignorant. They are the cheerful children of Down Town, and Down Town looks upon them with the affectionate compassion children merit. Their joys, their tragedies, are the emotions of children—all the more terrible for that reason.
And so you see them, day after day, blithely and gallantly faring onward in this Children's Crusade. Can you see that caravan of life without a pang? For many it is tragic to be young and beautiful and a woman. Luckily, they do not know it, and they never will. But in courage, and curiosity, and loveliness, how they put us all to shame. I see them, flashing by in a subway train, golden sphinxes, whose riddles (as Mr. Cabell said of Woman) are not worth solving. Yet they are all the more appealing for that fact. For surely to be a riddle which is not worth solving, and still is cherished as a riddle, is the greatest mystery of all. What strange journeys lie before them, and how triumphantly they walk the precipices as though they were mere meadow paths.
My eyes were touched with Truth, and I saw them as they are, beautiful and brave. And sometimes I think that even Time must be sated with loveliness; that he will not crumble them or mar their gallant childishness; that he will leave them, their bright dresses fluttering, as I have seem them in the subway many a summer day.
DEMPSEY vs. CARPENTIER
The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong; but as Frank Adams once remarked, the betting is best that way. The event at Boyle's Thirty Acres in Jersey City was the conclusive triumph of Reality over Romance, of Prose over Poetry. To almost all the newspaper-reading world—except the canny fellows who study these matters with care and knowledge—Carpentier had taken on something of the lustre and divinity of myth. He was the white Greek god, he was Mercury and Apollo. The dope was against him; but there were many who felt, obscurely, that in some pregnant way a miracle would happen. His limbs were ivory, his eyes were fire; surely the gods would intervene! Perhaps they would have but for the definite pronouncement of the mystagogue G.B. Shaw. Even the gods could not resist the chance of catching Shaw off his base.
We are not a turncoat; we had hoped that Carpentier would win. It would have been pleasant if he had, quite like a fairy tale. But we must tell things as we see them. Dempsey, in a very difficult situation, bore himself as a champion, and (more than that) as a man of spirit puzzled and angered by the feeling that has been rumoured against him. Carpentier entered the ring smiling, perfectly at ease; but there was that same sunken, wistful, faintly weary look about his eyes that struck us when we first saw him, at Manhasset, three weeks ago. It was the look of a man who has had more put upon him than he can rightly bear. But with what a grace and aplomb he stood upon that scaffold! Dempsey, on the other hand, was sullen and sombre; when they spoke together he seemed embarrassed and kept his face averted. As the hands were bandaged and gloves put on, he sat with lowered head, his dark poll brooding over his fists, not unlike Rodin's Thinker. Carpentier, at the opposite corner, was apparently at ease; sat smilingly in his gray and black gown, watching the airplanes.
You have read the accounts of the fight to small purpose if you do not realize that Carpentier was utterly outclassed—not in skill or cunning, but in those qualities where the will has no part, in power and reach. From the first clinch, when Dempsey began that series of terrible body jabs that broke down the Frenchman's energy and speed, the goose was cooked. There was nothing poetic or glamorous about those jabs; they were not spectacular, not particularly swift; but they were terribly definite. Half a dozen of them altered the scene strangely. The smiling face became haggard and troubled.
Carpentier, too, must have been leaving something to the gods, for his tactics were wildly reckless. He was the aggressor at the start, leading fiercely for Dempsey's jaw, and landing, too, but not heavily enough to do damage. Again and again in that first round he fell into the fatal embrace in which Dempsey punished him busily, with those straight body strokes that slid in methodically, like pistons. Georges seemed to have no defence that could slacken those blows. After every clinch his strength plainly ebbed and withered. Away, he dodged nimbly, airily, easily more dramatic in arts of manoeuvre. But Dempsey, tall, sullen, composed, followed him steadily. He seemed slow beside that flying white figure, but that wheeling amble was deadly sure. He was always on the inner arc, Carpentier on the outer; the long, swarthy arms were impenetrable in front of his vitals; again and again he followed up, seeking to corner his man; Carpentier would fling a shining arm at the dark jaw; a clinch would follow in which the two leaned together in that curious posture of apparent affection; and they hung upon each other's necks—Carpentier, from a distance, looking almost like a white girl languishing in the arms of some dark, solicitous lover. But Mr. Dempsey was the Fatal Bridegroom, for at each union he would rivet in several more of those steam punches.
There was something almost incredible in the scene—so we had been drilled in that Million-Dollar Myth, the unscathability of Carpentier. Was this Gorgeous Georges, this blood-smeared, wilting, hunted figure, flitting desperately from the grim, dark-jowled avenger? And then, in the latter part of the second round, Georges showed one flash of his true genius. Suddenly he sprang, leaping (so it seemed) clear from the canvas, and landed solidly (though not killingly) on Dempsey's jaw. There was a flicker of lightning blows, and for an instant Dempsey was retreating, defensive, even a little jarred. That was the high moment of the fight, and the crowd then showed its heart. Ninety thousand people had come there to see bloodshed; through several humid hours they had sat in a rising temperature, both inward and outward, with cumulating intensity like that of a kettle approaching the boil. Dempsey had had a bigger hand on entering the ring; but so far it had been too one-sided for much roaring. But now, for an instant, there was actual fighting. There were some who thought that if Georges could have followed up this advantage he still had a chance. We do not think so. Dempsey was not greatly shaken. He was too powerful and too hard to reach. They clinched and stalled for a moment, and the gong came shortly. But Carpentier had shown his tiger streak. Scotty Monteith, manager (so we were told) of Johnny Dundee, sat just in front of us in a pink skirt, and had been gathering up substantial wagers from the ill-starred French journalists near by. Scotty was not in any doubt as to the outcome, but even he was moved by Carpentier's gallant sally. "No one knew he was a fighter like that," he said.
The rest is but a few words. Carpentier's face had a wild, driven look. His hits seemed mere taps beside Dempsey's. In the fourth round he went down once, for eight or nine counts, and climbed up painfully. The second time he sprawled flat; Dempsey, still with that pensive lowered head, walked grimly in a semi-circle, waiting to see if that was the end. It was. Greek gods are no match for Tarzans in this game.
It was all over in a breathless flash. It was not one lucky blow that did it, but a sequence of business-like crushing strokes. We shall not soon forget that picture before the gong rang: Carpentier, still the White Knight of legend and glory, with his charming upward smile and easy unconcern; and Dempsey's dark cropped head, bent and glowering over his chest. There was in Dempsey's inscrutable, darkling mien a cold, simmering anger, as of a man unfairly hounded, he hardly knew why. And probably, we think, unjustly. You will say that we import a symbolism into a field where it scarcely thrives. But Carpentier's engaging merriment in the eye of oncoming downfall seemed to us almost a parable of those who have smiled too confidingly upon the dark faces of the gods.
A LETTER TO A SEA CAPTAIN (To D.W.B.)
You are the most modest of men, but even at the risk of arousing your displeasure we have it on our mind to say something about you. We shall try not to be offensively personal, for indeed we are thinking not merely of yourself but also of the many others of your seafaring art who have always been such steadfast servants of the public, the greatness of whose service has not always been well enough understood. But perhaps it is only fair that the sea captain, so unquestionable an autocrat in his own world, should be called upon to submit to that purging and erratic discipline which is so notable a feature of our American life—publicity!
It is not enough understood, we repeat, how valuable and charming the sea captain is as an agent and private ambassador of international friendship. Perhaps we do not know you until we have seen you at sea (may the opportunity serve anon!). We have only known you with your majesty laid aside, your severity relaxed. But who else so completely and humorously understands both sides of the water, and in his regular movements from side to side acts so shrewd a commentator on Anglo-American affairs? Who takes more keen delight in our American ways, in the beauty of this New York of which we are so proud, who has done so much to endear each nation to the other? Yours, true to your blood (for you are Scot Scotorum), is the humorist's way: how many passengers you have warmed and tickled with your genial chaff, hiding constant kindness under a jocose word, perhaps teasing us Americans on our curious conduct of knives and forks, or (for a change) taking the cisatlantic side of the jape, esteeming no less highly a sound poke at British foibles.
All this is your personal gift: it is no necessary part of the master's equipment to be so gracefully conversable. Of the graver side of the sea captain's life, though you say little, we see it unconsciously written in your bearing. Some of us, who know just a little about it, can guess something of its burdens, its vigils, and its courages. There is something significant in the obscure instinct that some of your friends have to seize what opportunity they can of seeing you in your own quarters when you are in port. For though a ship in dock is a ship fettered and broken of much of her life and meaning, yet in the captain's cabin the landsman feels something of that fine, faithful, and rigorous way of life. It is a hard life, he knows; a life of stringent seriousness, of heavy responsibilities: and yet it is a life for which we are fool enough to speak the fool's word of envy. It is a life spared the million frittering interruptions and cheerful distractions that devil the journalist; it is a life cut down to the essentials of discipline, simplicity, and service; a life where you must, at necessity, be not merely navigator but magistrate, employer, and priest. Birth, death, and all the troubles that lie between, fall under your sway, and must find you unperturbed. But, when you go out of that snug cabin for your turn of duty, at any rate you have the dark happiness of knowing that you go to a struggle worthy your powers, the struggle with that old, immortal, unconquerable, and yet daily conquered enemy, the Sea.
And so you go and come, you go and come, and we learn to count on your regular appearance every four weeks as we would on any stated gesture of the zodiac. You come eager to pick up the threads of what has been happening in this our town, what books people are talking about, what is the latest jape, and what (your tastes being so catholic!) "Percy and Ferdie" are up to. And you, in turn, bring news of what they are saying in Sauchiehall Street or Fleet Street, and what books are making a stir on the other side. You take copies of American books that catch your fancy and pass them on to British reviewers, always at your quixotic task of trying to make each side appreciate the other's humours. For, though we promised not to give you away too personally, you are not only the sea captain but the man of letters, too, eminent in that field in your own right.
There must be some valid reason why so many good writers, and several who have some claim on the word "great," have been bred of the sea. Great writing comes from great stress of mind—which even a journalist may suffer—but it also requires strictness of seclusion and isolation. Surely, on the small and decently regimented island of a ship a man's mind must turn inward. Surrounded by all that barren beauty of sky and sea, so lovely, and yet so meaningless to the mind, the doomed business of humanity must seem all the more precious and deserving of tenderness. Perhaps that is what old George Herbert meant when he said, He that will learn to pray, let him go to sea.
* * * * *
This and the following are advertisements of Mr. Morley's books.
A modern humorist with the tang of an Elizabethan
Once upon a time Christopher Morley was coerced, against the objections of a well-nigh blushing modesty, to dictate some notes which we may go so far as to call autobiographical. In part they were:
"Born at Haverford, Pa., in 1890; father, professor of mathematics and a poet; mother a musician, poet, and fine cook. I was handicapped by intellectual society and good nourishment. I am and always have been too well fed. Great literature proceeds from an empty stomach. My proudest achievement is having been asked by a college president to give a course of lectures on Chaucer.
"When I was graduated from Haverford in 1910, a benevolent posse of college presidents in Maryland sent me to New College, Oxford, as a Rhodes scholar. At Oxford I learned to drink shandygaff. When I came home from England in 1913 I started to work for Doubleday, Page & Company at Garden City. I learned to read Conrad, and started my favorite hobby, which is getting letters from William McFee. By the way, my favorite amusement is hanging around Leary's second-hand book store in Philadelphia. My dearest dream is to own some kind of a boat, write one good novel and about thirty plays which would each run a year on Broadway. I have written book reviews, editorials, dramatic notices, worked as a reporter, a librarian, in a bookstore, and have given lectures." Mr. Morley should have added that he is now conductor of "The Bowling Green" on the editorial page of the New York Evening Post.
By CHRISTOPHER MORLEY
"And merrily embellished by Walter Jack Duncan"
Thus Mr. Morley entitles his new volume, in which he has occupied himself with books in particular, but also with divers other ingredients such as city and suburban incidents, women, dogs, children, tadpoles, and so on.
Plum Pudding, $1.75
THE HAUNTED BOOKSHOP
We have just found an advertisement for "The Haunted Bookshop" which was never released, though it was written before the book was published. Can you guess the writer of it? We're not at liberty to tell, for he would never forgive our mentioning his name.
"THIS SHOP IS HAUNTED!"
Such was the sign that met the eyes of those who entered Parnassus at Home, a very unusual bookshop on Gissing Street, Brooklyn. Roger Mifflin, the eccentric booklover who owned the shop, only meant that his shop was haunted by the great spirits of literature, but there were more substantial ghosts about, as the story tells. Read the curious adventures that befell after Titania Chapman came to learn the book business in the mellow atmosphere of the second-hand bookshop of this novel. There was mystery connected with the elusive copy of Carlyle's Oliver Cromwell, which kept on disappearing from Roger's shelves. Some readers may remember that Roger Mifflin was the hero of Mr. Morley's first novel, Parnassus on Wheels, though this is in no sense a sequel, but an independent story.
The Haunted Bookshop, $1.75
This is the book at the beginning of which its author has placed this bit of explanation:
SHANDYGAFF: a very refreshing drink, being a mixture of bitter ale or beer and ginger-beer, commonly drunk by the lower classes of England, and by strolling tinkers, low church parsons, newspaper men, journalists, and prizefighters.... JOHN MISTLETOE: Dictionary of Deplorable Facts
Published in the war period, "Shandygaff" brought this humorous letter from J. Edgar Park, of Massachusetts, Presbyterian pastor and author of "The Disadvantages of Being Good":
"This book of Morley's is absolutely useless—mere rot. It has already cost me not only its price but also two candles for an all-night seance and an entire degeneration of my most sad and sober resolutions. Money I needed for shoes, solemnity I needed for my reputation—all have gone to the winds in this nightmare of love, laughter, boyishness, and tobacco-smoke!"
"These sketches gave me pain to write; they will give the judicious patron pain to read; therefore we are quits. I think, as I look over their slattern paragraphs, of that most tragic hour—it falls about 4 P.M. in the office of an evening newspaper—when the unhappy compiler tries to round up the broodings of the day and still get home in time for supper." The Author
"Envelops in clouds of fragrant English many quaint ideas about life, living, and literature ... A belated Elizabethan who has strayed into the twentieth century! These piping little essays are mellow and leisurely!"—The Sun, New York
"Kathleen" is about an Oxford undergraduate prank. Members of a literary club, The Scorpions, agree to write a serial story on shares. They invent a tale around certain names in an accidentally found letter signed "Kathleen." Their romantic fervor soon takes them off together in search of the real author of the letter. One suspects that Mr. Morley, as a Rhodes scholar at Oxford, might have been up to just such pranks. Anyway, consider this dedication: "TO THE REAL KATHLEEN—With Apologies." His comedy is as interesting as his essays, its humor pointed by the rapid flow of action.