Thursday, October 25, 2007



I am an American, Chicago born--Chicago, that somber city--and go at things as I have taught myself, free-style, and will make the record in my own way: first to knock, first admitted; sometimes an innocent knock, sometimes a not so innocent. But a man's character is his fate, says Heraclitus, and in the end there isn't any way to disguise the nature of the knocks by acoustical work on the door or gloving the knuckles.

Everybody knows there is no fineness or accuracy of suppression; if you hold down one thing you hold down the adjoining.

My own parents were not much to me, though I cared for my mother. She was simple-minded, and what I learned from her was not what she taught, but on the order of object lessons. She didn't have much to teach, poor woman. My brothers and I loved her. I speak for them both; for the elder it is safe enough; for the younger one, Georgie, I have to answer--he was born an idiot--but I'm in no need to guess, for he had a song he sang as he ran dragfooted with his stiff idiot's trot, up and down along the curl-wired fence in the backyard: Georgie Mahchy, Augie, Simey Winnie Mahchy, evwy, evwy love Mama.

He was right about everyone save Winnie, Grandma Lausch's poodle, a pursy old overfed dog. Mama was Winnie's servant, as she was Grandma Lausch's. Loud-breathing and wind-breaking, she lay near the old lady's stool on a cushion embroidered with a Berber aiming a rifle at a lion. She was personally Grandma's, belonged to her suite; the rest of us were the governed, and especially Mama. Mama passed the dog's dish to Grandma, and Winnie received her food at the old lady's feet from the old lady's hands. These hands and feet were small; she wore a shriveled sort of lisle on her legs and her suppers were gray --ah, the gray of that felt, the gray despotic to souls--with pink rib- bons. Mama, however, had large feet, and around the house she wore men's shoes, usually without strings, and a dusting or mobcap like somebody's fanciful cotton effigy of the form of the brain. She was meek and long, round-eyed like Georgie--gentle green round eyes and a gentle freshness of color in her long face. Her hands were workreddened, she had very few of her teeth left--to heed the knocks as they come--and she and Simon wore the same ravelly coat-sweaters.

Besides having round eyes, Mama had circular glasses that I went with her to the free dispensary on Harrison Street to get. Coached by Grandma Lausch, I went to do the lying. Now I know it wasn't so necessary to lie, but then everyone thought so, and Grandma Lausch especially, who was one of those Machiavellis of small street and neighborhood that my young years were full of. So Grandma, who had it all ready before we left the house and must have put in hours plotting it out in thought and phrase, lying small in her chilly small room under the featherbed, gave it to me at breakfast. The idea was that Mama wasn't keen enough to do it right. That maybe one didn't need to be keen didn't occur to us; it was a contest. The dispensary would want to know why the Charities didn't pay for the glasses. So you must say nothing about the Charities, but that sometimes money from my father came and sometimes it didn't, and that Mama took boarders.

This was, in a delicate and choosy way, by ignoring and omitting certain large facts, true. It was true enough for them, and at the age of nine I could appreciate this perfectly. Better than my brother Simon, who was too blunt for this kind of maneuver and, anyway, from books, had gotten hold of some English schoolboy notions of honor. Tom Brown's Schooldays for many years had an influence we were not in a position to afford.

Simon was a blond boy with big cheekbones and wide gray eyes and had the arms of a cricketer--I go by the illustrations; we never played anything but softball. Opposed to his British style was his patriotic anger at George III. The mayor was at that time ordering the schoolboard to get history books that dealt more harshly with the king, and Simon was very hot at Cornwallis. I admired this patriotic flash, his terrific personal wrath at the general, and his satisfaction over his surrender at Yorktown, which would often come over him at lunch while we ate our bologna sandwiches. Grandma had a piece of boiled chicken at noon, and sometimes there was the gizzard for bristleheaded little Georgie, who loved it and blew at the ridgy thing more to cherish than to cool it. But this martial true-blood pride of Simon's disqualified him for the crafty task to be done at the dispensary; he was too disdainful to lie and might denounce everybody instead. I could be counted on to do the job, because I enjoyed it. I loved a piece of strategy. I had enthusiasms too; I had Simon's, though there was never much meat in Cornwallis for me, and I had Grandma Lausch's as well. As for the truth of these statements I was instructed to make-- well, it was a fact that we had a boarder. Grandma Lausch was our boarder, not a relation at all. She was supported by two sons, one from Cincinnati and one from Racine, Wisconsin. The daughters-in-law did not want her, and she, the widow of a powerful Odessa businessman-- a divinity over us, bald, whiskery, with a fat nose, greatly armored in a cutaway, a double-breasted vest, powerfully buttoned (his blue photo, enlarged and retouched by Mr. Lulov, hung in the parlor, doubled back between the portico columns of the full-length mirror, the dome of the stove beginning where his trunk ended)--she preferred to live with us, because for so many years she was used to direct a house, to command, to govern, to manage, scheme, devise, and intrigue in all her languages. She boasted French and German besides Russian, Polish, and Yiddish; and who but Mr. Lulov, the retouch artist from Division Street, could have tested her claim to French? And he was a serene bogus too, that triple-backboned gallant tea-drinker.

Except that he had been a hackie in Paris, once, and if he told the truth about that might have known French among other things, like playing tunes on his teeth with a pencil or singing and keeping time with a handful of coins that he rattled by jigging his thumb along the table, and how to play chess.

Grandma Lausch played like Timur, whether chess or klabyasch, with palatal catty harshness and sharp gold in her eyes. Klabyasch she played with Mr. Kreindl, a neighbor of ours who had taught her the game. A powerful stub-handed man with a large belly, he swatted the table with those hard hands of his, flinging down his cards and shouting "Shtoch! Yasch! Menel! Klabyasch!" Grandma looked sardonically at him. She often said, after he left, "If you've got a Hungarian friend you don't need an enemy." But there was nothing of the enemy about Mr.

Kreindl. He merely, sometimes, sounded menacing because of his drill-sergeant's bark. He was an old-time Austro-Hungarian conscript, and there was something soldierly about him: a neck that had strained with pushing artillery wheels, a campaigner's red in the face, a powerful bite in his jaw and gold-crowned teeth, green cockeyes and soft short hair, altogether Napoleonic. His feet slanted out on the ideal of Frederick the Great, but he was about a foot under the required height for guardsmen. He had a masterly look of independence. He and his wife--a woman quiet and modest to the neighbors and violently quarrelsome at home--and his son, a dental student, lived in what wasy; called the English basement at the front of the house. The son, Kotzie, ' worked evenings in the corner drugstore and went to school in the neighborhood of County Hospital, and it was he who told Grandma about the free dispensary. Or rather, the old woman sent for him to find out what one could get from those state and county places. She was always sending for people, the butcher, the grocer, the fruit peddler, and received them in the kitchen to explain that the Marches had to have discounts. Mama usually had to stand by. The old woman would tell them, "You see how it is--do I have to say more? There's no man in the house and children to bring up." This was her most frequent argument. When Lubin, the caseworker, came around and sat in the kitchen, familiar, bald-headed, in his gold glasses, his weight comfortable, his mouth patient, she shot it at him: "How do you expect children to be brought up?" While he listened, trying to remain comfortable but gradually becoming like a man determined not to let a grasshopper escape from his hand. "Well, my dear, Mrs. March could raise your rent," he said. She must often have answered--for there were times when she sent us all out to be alone with him--"Do you know what things would be like without me? You ought to be grateful for the way I hold them together." I'm sure she even said, "And when I die, Mr, Lubin, you'll see what you've got on your hands." I'm one hundred per cent sure of it. To us nothing was ever said that might weaken her rule by suggesting it would ever end. Besides, it would have shocked us to hear it, and she, in her miraculous knowledge of us, able to be extremely close to our thoughts--she was one sovereign who knew exactly the proportions of love, respect, and fear of power in her subjects--understood how we would have been shocked. But to Lubin, for reasons of policy and also because she had to express feelings she certainly had, she must have said it. He had a harassed patience with her of "deliver me from such clients," though he tried to appear master of the situation. He held his derby between his thighs (his suits, always too scanty in the pants, exposed white socks and bulldog shoes, crinkled, black, and bulging with toes), and he looked into the hat as though debating whether it was wise to release his grasshopper on the lining for a while.

"I pay as much as I can afford," she would say.

She took her cigarette case out from under her shawl, she cut a Murad in half with her sewing scissors and picked up the holder. This was still at a time when women did not smoke. Save the intelligentsia-- the term she applied to herself. With the holder in her dark little gums between which all her guile, malice, and command issued, she had her best inspirations of strategy. She was as wrinkled as an old paper bag, an autocrat, hard-shelled and Jesuitical, a pouncy old hawk of a Bolshevik, her small ribboned gray feet immobile on the shoekit and stool Simon had made in the manual-training class, dingy old wool Winnie whose bad smell filled the flat on the cushion beside her. If wit and discontent don't necessarily go together, it wasn't from the old woman that I learned it. She was impossible to satisfy. Kreindl, for example, on whom we could depend, Kreindl who carried up the coal when Mama was sick and who instructed Kotzie to make up our prescriptions for nothing, she called "that trashy Hungarian," or "Hungarian pig." She called Kotzie "the baked apple"; she called Mrs. Kreindl "the secret goose," Lubin "the shoemaker's son," the dentist "the butcher," the butcher "the timid swindler." She detested the dentist, who had several times unsuccessfully tried to fit her with false teeth. She accused him of burning her gums when taking the impressions. But then she tried to pull his hands away from her mouth. I saw that happen: the stolid, square-framed Dr. Wemick, whose compact forearms could have held off a bear, painfully careful with her, determined, concerned at her choked screams, and enduring her scratches. To see her struggle like that was no easy thing for me, and Dr. Wemick was sorry to see me there too, I know, but either Simon or I had to squire her wherever she went. Here particularly she needed a witness to Wemick's cruelty and clumsiness as well as a shoulder to lean on when she went weakly home.

Already at ten I was only a little shorter than she and big enough to hold her small weight.

"You saw how he put his paws over my face so I couldn't breathe?" she said. "God made him to be a butcher. Why did he become a dentist?

His hands are too heavy. The touch is everything to a dentist. If his hands aren't right he shouldn't be let practice. But his wife worked hard to send him through school and make a dentist of him. And I must go to him and be burned because of it."

The rest of us had to go to the dispensary--which was like the dream of a multitude of dentists' chairs, hundreds of them in a space as enormous as an armory, and green bowls with designs of glass grapes, drills lifted zigzag as insects' legs, and gas flames on the porcelain swivel trays--a thundery gloom in Harrison Street of limestone county buildings and cumbersome red streetcars with metal grillwork on their windows and monarchical iron whiskers of cowcatchers front and rear.

They lumbered and clanged, and their brake tanks panted in the slushy brown of a winter afternoon or the bare stone brown of a summer's, salted with ash, smoke, and prairie dust, with long stops at the clinics to let off dumpers, cripples, hunchbacks, brace-leg Sy. crutch-wielders, tooth and eye sufferers, and all the rest.

So before going with my mother for the glasses I was always instructed by the old woman and had to sit and listen with profound care.

My mother too had to be present, for there must be no slip-up. She must be coached to say nothing. "Remember, Rebecca," Grandma would rerepeat, "let him answer everything." To which Mama was too obedient even to say yes, but only sat and kept her long hands folded on the bottle-fly iridescence of the dress the old woman had picked for her to wear. Very healthy and smooth, her color; none of us inherited this high a color from her, or the form of her nose with nostrils turned back and showing a little of the partition. "You keep out of it. If they ask you something, you look at Augie like this." And she illustrated how Mama was to turn to me, terribly exact, if she had only been able to drop her habitual grandeur. "Don't tell anything. Only answer questions," she said to me. My mother was anxious that I should be worthy and faithful. Simon and I were her miracles or accidents; Georgie was her own true work in which she returned to her fate after blessed and undeserved success. "Augie, listen to Grandma. Hear what she says," was all she ever dared when the old woman'unfolded her plan.

"When they ask you, 'Where is your father?' you say, "I don't know where, miss.' No matter how old she is, you shouldn't forget to say 'miss.' If she wants to know where he was the last time you heard from him, you must tell her that the last time he sent a money order was about two years ago from Buffalo, New York. Never say a word about the Charity. The Charity you should never mention, you hear that?

Never. When she asks you how much the rent is, tell her eighteen dollars. When she asks where the money comes from, say you have boarders. How many? Two boarders. Now, say to me, how much rent?"

"Eighteen dollars."

"And how many boarders?" fey "Two."

"And how much do they pay?"

"How much should I say?"

"Eight dollars each a week."

"Eight dollars."

"So you can't go to a private doctor, if you get sixty-four dollars a month. The eyedrops alone cost me five when I went, and he scalded my eyes. And these specs"--she tapped the case--"cost ten dollars the frames and fifteen the glasses."

Never but at such times, by necessity, was my father mentioned. I claimed to remember him; Simon denied that I did, and Simon was right. I liked to imagine it.

"He wore a uniform," I said. "Sure I remember. He was a soldier."

"Like hell he was. You don't know anything about it.", "Maybe a sailor."

"Like hell. He drove a truck for Hall Brothers laundry on Marshfield, that's what he did. / said he used to wear a uniform. Monkey sees, monkey does; monkey hears, monkey says." Monkey was the basis of much thought with us. On the sideboard, on the Turkestan runner, with their eyes, ears, and mouth covered, we had see-no-evil, speak-no-evil, hear-no-evil, a lower trinity of the house. The advantage of lesser gods is that you can take their names any way you like. "Silence in the courthouse, monkey wants to speak; speak, monkey, speak."

"The monkey and the bamboo were playing in the grass..." Still the monkeys could be potent, and awesome besides, and deep social critics when the old woman, like a great lama--for she is Eastern to me, in the end-- would point to the squatting brown three, whose mouths and nostrils were drawn in sharp blood-red, and with profound wit, her unkindness finally touching greatness, say, "Nobody asks you to love the whole world, only to be honest, ehrllch. Don't have a loud mouth. The more you love people the more they'll mix you up. A child loves, a person respects. Respect is better than love. And that's respect, the middle monkey." It never occurred to us that she sinned mischievously herself against that convulsed speak-no-evil who hugged his lips with his hands; but no criticism of her came near our minds at any time, much less when the resonance of a great principle filled the whole kitchen.

She used to read us lessons off poor Georgie's head. He would kiss the dog. This bickering handmaiden of the old lady, at one time. Now a dozy, long-sighing crank and proper object of respect for her years of right-minded but not exactly lovable busyness. But Georgie loved her--and Grandma, whom he would kiss on the sleeve, on the knee, taking knee or arm in both hands and putting his underlip forward, chaste, lummoxy, caressing, gentle and diligent when he bent his narrow back, blouse bagging all over it, whitish hair pointy and close as a burr or sunflower when the seeds have been picked out of it. The old lady let him embrace her and spoke to him in the following way: "Hey, you, boy, clever junge, you like the old Grandma, my minister, my cavalyer? That's-a-boy, You know who's good to you, who gives you gizzards and necks? Who? Who makes noodles for you? Yes. Noodles are slippery, hard to pick up with a fork and hard to pick up with the fingers. You see how the little bird pulls the worm? The little worm wants to stay in the ground. The little worm doesn't want to come out.

Enough, you're making my dress wet." And she'd sharply push his forehead off with her old prim hand, having fired off for Simon and me, mindful always of her duty to wise us up, one more animadversion on the trustful, loving, and simple surrounded by the cunning-hearted and tough, a fighting nature of birds and worms, and a desperate mankind without feelings. Illustrated by Georgie. But the principal illustration was not Georgie but Mama, in her love-originated servitude, simpleminded, abandoned with three children. This was what old lady Lausch was driving at, now, in the later wisdom of her life, that she had a second family to lead.

And what must Mama have thought when in any necessary connection my father was brought into the conversation? She sat docile. I conceive that she thought of some detail about him--a dish he liked, perhaps meat and potatoes, perhaps cabbage or cranberry sauce; perhaps that he disliked a starched collar, or a soft collar; that he brought home the Evening American or the Journal. She thought this because her thoughts were always simple; but she felt abandonment, and greater pains than conscious mental ones put a dark streak to her simplicity.

I don't know how she made out before, when we were alone after the desertion, but Grandma came and put a regulating hand on the family life. Mama surrendered powers to her that maybe she had never known she had and took her punishment in drudgery; occupied a place, I suppose, among women conquered by a superior force of love, like those women whom Zeus got the better of in animal form and who next had to take cover from his furious wife. Not that I can see my big, gentle, dilapidated, scrubbing, and lugging mother as a fugitive of immense beauty from such classy wrath, or our father as a marble-legged Olympian. She had sewed buttonholes in a coat factory in a Wells Street loft and he was a laundry driver--there wasn't even so much as a picture of him left when he blew. But she does have a place among such women by the deeper right of continual payment. And as for vengeance from a woman, Grandma Lausch was there to administer the penalties under the standards of legitimacy, representing the main body of married womankind.

Still the old lady had a heart. I don't mean to say she didn't. She was tyrannical and a snob about her Odessa luster and her servants and governesses, but though she had been a success herself she knew what it was 10 fall through susceptibility. I began to realize this when I afterward read some of the novels she used to send me to the library for.

She taught me the Russian alphabet so that I could make out the titles.

Once a year she read Anna Karenina and Eugene Onegin. Occasionally I got into hot water by bringing a book she didn't want. "How many times do I have to tell you if it doesn't say rowan I don't want it? You didn't look inside. Are your fingers too weak to open the book? Then they should be too weak to play ball or pick your nose. For that you've got strength! Bozhe moy! God in Heaven! You haven't got the brains of a cat, to walk two miles and bring me a book about religion because it says Tolstoi on the cover."

The old grande dame, I don't" want to be misrepresenting her. She was suspicious of what could have been, given one wrong stitch of heredity, a family vice by which we could have been exploited. She didn't want to read Tolstoi on religion. She didn't trust him as a family man because the countess had had such trouble with him. But although she never went to the synagogue, ate bread on Passover, sent Mama to the pork butcher where meat was cheaper, loved canned lobster and other forbidden food, she was not an atheist and free-thinker. Mr.

Anticol, the old junky she called (search me why) "Rameses"--after the city named with Pithom in the Scriptures maybe; no telling what her inspirations were--was that. A real rebel to God. Icy and canny, she would listen to what he had to say and wouldn't declare herself. He was ruddy, and gloomy; his leathery serge cap made him flat-headed, and his alley calls for rags, old iron--"recks aline," he sung it--made him gravel-voiced and gruff. He had tough hair and brows and despising brown eyes; he was a studious, shaggy, meaty old man.

Grandma bought a set of the Encyclopedia Americana-edition of 1892,1 think--from him and saw to it that Simon and I read it; and he too, whenever he met us, asked, "How's the set?" believing, I reckon, that it taught irreverence to religion. What had made him an atheist was a massacre of Jews in his town. From the cellar where he was hidden he saw a laborer pissing on the body of his wife's younger brother, just killed. "So don't talk to me about God," he said. But it was he that talked about God, all the time. And while Mrs. Anticol stayed pious, it was his idea of grand apostasy to drive to the reform synagogue on the high holidays and park his pink-eye nag among the luxurious, whirl-wired touring cars of the rich Jews who bared their heads inside as if they were attending a theater, a kind of abjectness in them that gave him grim entertainment to the end of his life. He caught a cold in the rain and died of pneumonia.

Grandma, all the same, burned a candle on the anniversary of Mr.

Lausch's death, threw a lump of dough on the coals when she was baking, as a kind of offering, had incantations over baby teeth and stunts against the evil eye. It was kitchen religion and had nothing to do with the giant God of the Creation who turned back the waters and exploded Gomorrah, but it was on the side of religion at that. And while we're on that side I'll mention the Poles--we were just a handful of Jews among them in the neighborhood--and the swollen, bleeding hearts on every kitchen wall, the pictures of saints, baskets of death flowers tied at the door, communions, Easters, and Christmases. And sometimes we were chased, stoned, bitten, and beat up for Christ-killers, all of us, even Georgie, articled, whether we liked it or not, to this mysterious trade. But I never had any special grief from it, or brooded, being by and large too larky and boisterous to take it to heart, and looked at it as needing no more special explanation than the stone-and-bat wars of the street gangs or the swarming on a fall evening of parish punks to rip up fences, screech and bawl at girls, and beat up strangers. It wasn't in my nature to fatigue myself with worry over being born to this occult work, even though some of my friends and playmates would turn up in the middle of these mobs to trap you between houses from both ends of a passageway. Simon had less truck with them. School absorbed him more, and he had his sentiments anyway, a mixed extract from Natty Bumppo, Quentin Durward, Tom Brown, dark at Kaskaskia, the messenger who brought the good news from Ratisbon, and so on, that kept him more to himself. I was just a slow understudy to this, just as he never got me to put in hours on his Sandow muscle builder and the gimmick for developing the sinews of the wrist. I was an easy touch for friendships, and most of the time they were cut short by older loyalties.

I was pals longest with Stashu Kopecs, whose mother was a midwife graduated from the Aesculapian School of Midwifery on Milwaukee Avenue. Well to do, the Kopecses had an electric player piano and linoleums in all the rooms, but Stashu was a thief, and to run with him I stole too: coal off the cars, clothes from the lines, rubber balls from the dime store, and pennies off the newsstands. Mostly for the satisfaction of dexterity, though Stashu invented the game of stripping in the cellar and putting on girls' things swiped from the clotheslines. Then he too showed up in a gang that caught me one cold afternoon of very little snow while I was sitting on a crate frozen into the mud, eating Nabisco wafers, my throat full of the sweet dust. Foremost, there was a thug of a kid, about thirteen but undersized, hard and grievedlooking.

He came up to accuse me, and big Moonya Staplanski, just out of the St. Charles Reformatory and headed next for the one at Pontiac, backed him up.

"You little Jew bastard, you hit my brother," Moonya said.

"I never did. I never even saw him before."

"You took away a nickel from him. How did you buy them biscuits else, you?"

"I got them at home."

Then I caught sight of Stashu, hayheaded and jeering, pleased to sickness with his deceit and his new-revealed brotherhood with the others, and I said, "Hey, you lousy bed-wetter, Stashu, you know Moon ain't even got a brother."

Here the kid hit me and the gang jumped me, Stashu with the rest, . tearing the buckles from my sheepskin coat and bloodying my nose.

"Who is to blame?" said Grandma Lausch when I came home. "You know who? You are, Augie, because that's all the brains you have to eo with that piss-in-bed accoucherka's son. Does Simon hang around with them? Not Simon. He has too much sense." I thanked God she didn't know about the stealing. And in a way, because that was her schooling temperament, I suspect she was pleased that I should see where it led to give your affections too easily. But Mama, the prime example of this weakness, was horrified. Against the old lady's authority she didn't dare to introduce her feelings during the hearing, but when she took me into the kitchen to put a compress on me she nearsightedly pored over my scratches, whispering and sighing to me, while Georgie tottered around behind her, long and white, and Winnie lapped water under the sink.; i,


After the age of twelve we were farmed out in the summer by the old woman to get a taste of life and the rudiments of earning. Even before, she had found something for me to do. There was a morning class for feeble-minded children, and when I had left Georgie in school I reported to Sylvester's Star Theatre to distribute handbills. Grandma had arranged this with Sylvester's father, whom she knew from the old people's arbor in the park.

If it got to our rear flat that the weather was excellent--warm and still, she liked it--she would go to her room and put on her corset, relic of when she was fuller, and her black dress. Mama would fix her, a bottle of tea. Then in a chapeau of flowers and a furpiece of tails locked on her shoulder with badger claws she went to the park. With a book she never intended to read. There was too much talk in the arbor for that. It was a place where marriages were made. A year or so after the old atheist's death, Mrs. Anticol found herself a second husband there. This widower traveled down from Iowa City for just the purpose of marriage, and after they were married the news came back that he kept her locked a prisoner in his house and made her sign away all: rights of legacy. Grandma did not pretend to be sorry; she said, "Poor Bertha," but she said it with the humor she was a crackerjack at, as thin and full of play as fiddle wire, and she took much credit for not going in for that kind of second marriage. I quit thinking long ago that all old people came to rest from the things they were out for in their younger years. But that was what she wanted us to believe--"an old baba like me"--and accordingly we took her at her word to be old disinterested wisdom who had put by her vanity. But if she never got a marriage offer, I'm not prepared to say it made no difference to her.

She couldn't have been so sold on Anna Karenina for nothing, or an other favorite of hers I ought to mention, Manon Lescaut, and when she was feeling right she bragged about her waist and hips, so, since she never gave up any glory or influence that I know of, I can see it wasn't only from settled habit that she went into her bedroom to lace on her corset and wind up her hair but to take the eye of a septuagenarian Vronsky or Des Grieux. I sometimes induced myself to see, beyond her spotty yellowness and her wrinkles and dry bangs, a voun CTer and resentful woman in her eyes.

But whatever she was after for herself, in the arbor, she wasn't forgetting us, and she got me the handbill job through old Sylvester, called "the Baker" because he wore white ducks and white golfer's cap. He had palsy, this the joke of his making rolls, but he was clean, briefspoken, serious in the aim of his bloodshot eyes, reconciled, with an effort of nerve that was copied straight into the curve of his white horseshoe of mustache, to the shortness of his days. I suppose her pitch with him was as usual, about the family she was protecting, and Sylvester took me to see his son, a young fellow whom money or family anxiety always seemed to keep in a sweat. Something, his shadow business and the emptiness of the seats at two o'clock, the violinist playing just for him and the operator in the projection box, made it awful for him and misery to come across with my two bits. It made him act tough. He said, "I've had kids who shoved the bills down the sewer. Too bad if I ever find out about it, and I have ways to check up." So I knew that he might follow me along a block of the route, and I kept watch in the streets for his head with the weak hair of baldness and his worrywounded eyes, as brown as a bear's. "I've got a couple of tricks myself for any punk who thinks he's going to pull a fast one," he warned me.

But when he believed I was trustworthy, and at first I was, following his directions about rolling the bills and sticking them into the brass mouthpieces over the be'ls, not fouling up the mailboxes and getting him in dutch with the post office, he treated me to seltzer and Turkish Delight and said he was going to make a ticket-taker of me when I grew jja little taller, or put me in charge of the popcorn machine he was thinking of getting; and one of these years he was going to hire a manager while he went back to Armour Institute to finish his engineering degree. He had only a couple of years to go, and his wife was after him to do it.

He took me for my senior, I suppose, to tell me this, as the people at the dispensary did, and as often happened. I didn't understand all that he told me.

Anyway, he was just a little deceived in me, for when he said his other boys had dumped bills down the sewer I felt I couldn't do less sither and watched for my chance. Or gave out wads to the kids in George's dummy-room when I came at noon to fetch him at the penal" looking school built in the identical brick with the icehouse and the casket factory which were its biggest neighbors. It had the great gloom inside of clinks the world over, with ceilings the eye had to try for and wood floors trailed with marching. Summers, one corner of it was kept open for the feeble-minded, and, coming in, you traded the spray of the icehouse for the snipping, cooing hubbub of paper-chain making and the commands of teachers. I sat on the stairs and divided the remaining bills, and when class let out Georgie helped me get rid of them. Then I took him by the hand and led him home.

Much as he loved Winnie, he was scared of strange dogs, and as he carried her scent he drew them. They were always sniffing his legs, and I carried stones to pitch at them.

This was the last idle summer. The next, as soon as the term was over, Simon was sent to work as a bellhop in a resort hotel in Michigan, and I went to the Coblins' on the North Side to help Coblin with his newspaper route. I had to move there, for the papers came into the shed at four in the morning and we lived better than half an hour away on the streetcar. But it wasn't exactly as though I were passing into strange hands, for Anna Coblin was my mother's cousin and I was accordingly treated as a relative. Hyman Coblin came for me in his Ford; George howled when I left the house; he had a way of demonstrating the feelings Mama could not show under ban of the old woman. George had to be shut up in the parlor. I sat him down by the stove and left. Cousin Anna wept enough for everybody and plastered me with kisses at the door of her house, seeing me dog-dumb with the heartbreak of leaving home--a very temporary kind of emotion for me and almost, as it were, borrowed from Mama, who saw her sons drafted untimely into hardships. But Anna Coblin, who had led the negotiations for me, cried the most. Her feet were bare, her hair enormous, and her black dress misbuttoned. "I'll treat you like my own boy," she promised, "my own Howard." She took my canvas laundry bag from me and put me in Howard's room, between the kitchen and the toilet.

Howard had run away. Together with Joe Kinsman, the undertaker's son, he had lied about his age and enlisted in the Marine Corps. Their families were trying to get them out, but in the meantime they had been shipped to Nicaragua and were fighting Sandino and the rebels. She grieved terribly, as if he were dead already. And as she had great size and terrific energy of constitution she produced all kinds of excesses.

Even physical ones: moles, blebs, hairs, bumps in her forehead, huge concentration in her neck; she had spiraling reddish hair springing with no negligible beauty and definiteness from her scalp, tangling as it widened up and out, cut duck-tail fashion in the back and scrawled out high above her ears. Originally strong, her voice was crippled by weeping and asthma, and the whites of her eyes coppery from the same causes, a burning, morose face, piteous, and her spirit untamed by thoughts or the remote considerations that can reconcile people to awfuler luck than she had. Because, said Grandma Lausch, cutting her case down to scale with her usual satisfaction in the essential, what did she want, a woman like that? Her brothers found her a husband, bought him a business, she had two children in her own house and a few pieces of realestate besides. She might still be in the millinery factory where she started out, over the Loop on Wabash Avenue. That was the observation we heard after Cousin Anna had come to talk to her--as one comes to a wise woman--amassed herself into a suit, hat, shoes, and sat at the kitchen table looking at herself in the mirror as she spoke, not casually, but steadily, sternly, with wrathful comment; even at the bitterest, even when her mouth was at the widest stretch of tears, she went on watching. Mama, her head wrapped in a bandanna, was singeing a chicken at the gas plate.

"Daragaya, nothing will happen to your son; he'll come back," said the old woman while Anna sobbed. "Other mothers have their sons there."

"I told him to stop going with the undertaker's. What kind of friend was that for him?'He dragged him into it."

She had the Kinsmans down for death-breeders, and I found out that she made a detour of blocks when shopping to avoid Kinsman's parlors, though she had always boasted before that Mrs. Kinsman, a big, fresh, leery-looking woman, was a lodge sister and friend of hers--the rich Kinsmans. Coblin's uncle, a bank officer, was buried out of Kinsman's, and Fried! Coblin and Kinsman's daughter went to the same elocution teacher. She had the impediment of Moses whose hand the watching angel guided to the coal, Friedl, and she carried her stuttering into fluency later. Years after, at a football game where I was selling hotdogs, I heard her; she didn't recognize me in the white hat of the day, but I remembered coaching her in "When the Frost Is on the Punkin'."

And recalled also Cousin Anna's oath that I should marry Friedl when I was grown. It was in her tears of welcome when she pressed me, on the porch of the house that day. "Hear, Owgie, you'll be my son, my daughter's husband, mein kind!" At this moment she had once more given Howard up for dead.

She kept this project of marriage going all the time. When I cut my hand while sharpening the lawn-mower she said, "It'll heal before your s.^ .17.. wedding day," and then, "It's better to marry somebody you've known all your life, I swear. Nothing worse than strangers. You hear me?

Hear!" So she had the future mapped because little Friedl so resembled her that she lived with foreknowledge of her difficulty; she herself had had to be swept over it by the rude Providence of her brother. No mother to help her. And probably she felt that if a husband had not been found for her she would have been destroyed by the choked power of her instincts, deprived of children. And the tears to shed for them would have drowned her as sure as the water of Ophelia's brook. The sooner married the better. Where Anna came from there was no encouragement of childhood anyhow. Her own mother had been married at thirteen or fourteen, and Friedl therefore had only four or five years to go. Anna herself had exceeded this age limit by fifteen years at least, the last few, I imagine, of fearful grief, before Coblin married her.

Accordingly she was already on campaign, every young boy a prospect, for I assume I was not the only one but, for the time being, the most available. And Friedl was being groomed with music and dancing lessons as well as elocution and going into the best society in the neighborhood.

No reason but this would have made Anna belong to a lodge; she was too gloomy and house-haunting a woman, and it needed a great purpose to send her out to benefits and bazaars.

To anybody who snubbed her child she was a bad enemy and spread damaging rumors. "The piano teacher told me herself. Every Saturday it was the same story. When she went to give Minnie Carson her lesson, Mister tried to pull her behind the door with him." Whether true or not, it soon became her conviction. It made no difference who confronted her or whether the teacher came to plead with her to stop. But the Carsons had not invited Friedl to a birthday party and got themselves an enemy of Corsican rigor and pure absorption.

And now that Howard had run away all her enemies were somehow implicated as hell's agents and deputies, and she lay in bed, crying and cursing them: "0 God, Master of the Universe, may their hands and feet wither and their heads dry out," and other grandiose things, everyday language to her. As she lay in the summer light, tempered by the shades and the catalpa of the front yard, flat on her back with compresses, towels, rags, she had a considerable altitude of trunk, the soles of her feet shining from the sheets like graphite rubbings, feet of war disasters in the ruined villages of Napoleon's Spanish campaign; flies riding in echelon on the long string of the light switch. While she panted and butchered on herself with pains and fears. She had the will of a martyr to carry a mangled head in Paradise till doomsday, in the suffer18 a mothers' band led by Eve and Hannah. For Anna was terribly reli'nus and had her own ideas of time and place, so that Heaven and ternitv were not too far; she had things segmented, flattened down, nd telescoped like the stages and floors of the Leaning Tower, while Nicaragua was at a distance double the circumference of the world, where the bantam Sandino--and who he was to her is outside my power to imagine--was killing her son.

The filth of the house, meantime, and particularly of the kitchen, was stupendous. Nevertheless, swollen and fire-eyed, slow on her feet, shouting incomprehensibly on the telephone, and her face as if lit by that gorgeous hair which finally advanced her into royalty, she somehow kept up with her duties. She had meals on time for the men, she saw to it that Friedl practiced and rehearsed, that the money collected was checked, counted, sorted and the coins rolled when Coblin wasn't on hand to do it himself, that the new orders were attended to.

"Der... jener... Owgie, the telephone ringt. Hear! Don't forget to tell them it's now extra the Saturday afternoon paper!"

And when I tried to blow on Howard's saxophone I learned how quickly she could get out of bed and cover the house. She tore into the room and snatched it from me, yelling, "Already they're taking his things away from him!" in a way that made the skin gather down my head and the whole length of my neck. And I saw where a son-in-law-- granted, only a prospective one--ranked with respect to her son. She did not forgive me that day, though she knew she had scared me. But I guess I looked less wounded than I felt, and she assumed I had no sense of penitence. What really is more like it is that I had no grudgebearing power, unlike Simon with his Old South honor and his cododuello dangerous easiness that was his specialty of the time. Besides, how could you keep a grudge against anyone so terrific? And even while she pulled the saxophone out of my hands she was hunting her reflection in the small mirror on top of the long chest of drawers. I went down to the cellar where the storm windows and the tools were, and there, after I decided I couldn't cut out for home just yet only to be sent back by Grandma Lausch, I became interested in why the toilet trickled, took the lid off the waterbox, and passed my time below there, tinkering while the floor of the kitchen bowed and crunched.

That would be Five Properties shambling through the cottage, Anna's immense brother, long armed and humped, his head grown off the thick band of muscle as original as a bole on his back, hair tender and greenish brown, eyes completely green, clear, estimating, primi- taste, and sardonic, an Eskimo smile of primitive simplicity opening on Eskimo teeth buried in high gums, kidding, gleeful, and unfrank; a bigfooted contender for wealth. He drove a dairy truck, one of those electric jobs where the driver stood up like a helmsman, the bottles and wood-and-wire cases clashing like mad. He took me around his route a few times and paid me half a buck for helping him hustle empties.

When I tried to handle a full case he felt me up, ribs, thighs, and arms-- this was something he loved to do--and said, "Not yet, you got to wait yet," lugging it off himself and crashing it down beside the icebox.

He was the life of the quiet little lard-smelly Polish groceries that were his stops, punching it out or grappling in fun with the owners, head to head, or swearing in Italian at the Italians, "Fungoo!" and measuring off a chunk of stiff arm at them. He gave himself an awful lot of delight.

And he was very shrewd, his sister said. It wasn't so long ago he had done a small part in the ruin of empires, driving wagons of Russian and German corpses to burial on Polish farms; and now he had money in the bank, he had stock in the dairy, and he had picked up in the Yiddish theater the fat swagger of the suitor everybody hated: "Five prope'ties. Plente money."

Of a Sunday morning, when the balloon peddlers were tootling in the sweetness and calm of the leafy street and blue sky, he came down to breakfast in a white suit, picking his teeth finely, Scythian hair stroked down under a straw katie. Nonetheless he had not cast off his weekday milk smell. But how fine he was this morning, windburned and heartyblooded, teeth, gums, and cheeks involved in a bursting grin. He pinched his copper-eyed sister who was sullen with tears.


"Go, breakfast is ready.".; "Five prope'ties, plente money." - '

A smile stole over her face which she morosely resisted. But she loved her brother.: "Annitchka."

"Go! My child is missing. The world is chaos."

"Five prope'ties."

"Don't be a fool. You'll have a child yourself, and then you'll know what wehtig is."

Five Properties cared absolutely nothing about the absent or the dead and freely said so. Hell with them. He had worn their boots and caps while the stiffs were bouncing in his wagon through shot and explosion.

What he had to say was usually on the Spartan or proconsular model, quick and hard. "You can't go to war without smelling powder."

"If granny had wheels she'd be a cart."

"Sleep with dogs and wake with fleas."

"Don't shit where you eat." One simple moral in all, " mounting to, "You have no one to blame but yourself" or, Frenchy_jgg_for I have put in my time in the capital of the world--"Tu I'as voulu, Georges Dandin."

Thus you see what views Five Properties must have had on his nephew's enlistment. But he partly spared his sister.

"What do you want? He wrote you last week."

"Last week!" said Anna. "And what about meanwhile?"

"Meanwhile he's got a little Indian girl to tickle and squeeze him."

"Not my son," she said, turning her eyes to the kitchen mirror.

But in fact it appeared the boys had found someone to shack up with. Joe Kinsman sent his dad a snapshot of two straight-haired native girls in short skirts and hand in hand, without comment. Kinsman had shown it to Coblin. The fathers weren't exactly displeased; at least they didn't see fit to show displeasure to each other. On the contrary. But Cousin Anna didn't hear of the picture.

Coblin had fatherly fears of his own, but not Anna's rage against Kinsman, and he kept up the necessary liaison with him at his office, for of course the undertaker couldn't enter the house. Generally speaking, Coblin's main lines were outside anyway, and he led a life of movement, steady and square-paced. By comparison with Anna and her brother he appeared small, but he was really a good size himself, sturdy, and bald in a clean sweep of all his hair, his features also big, rounded and flattened, puffy at the eyes which were given to blinking just about to the point of caricature. If you took this tic of his with the standard interpretation of meekness--well, there are types and habits that develop to beguile the experience of mankind. He was not beaten down by Anna or Five Properties or other members of the family. He was something of a sport, he had his own motives and he had established his own right of way with the determination of a man who is liable to be dangerous when he makes a fight. And Anna gave in. Therefore his shirts were always laid away in the drawer with strips of whalebone in the collar, and the second breakfast he took when he came back from morning deliveries had to include cornflakes and hardboiled eggs.

The meals were of amazing character altogether and of huge quantity--Anna was a strong believer in eating. Bowls of macaroni without salt or pepper or butter or sauce, brain stews and lung stews, calves'foot jelly with bits of calves' hair and sliced egg, cold pickled fish, crumb-stuffed tripes, canned corn chowder, and big bottles of orange Pop. All this went well with Five Properties, who spread the butter on his bread with his fingers. Coblin, who ate with better manners, didn't complain either and seemed to consider it natural. But I know that when he went downtown to a carriers' meeting he fed differently.

To begin with, he changed from the old check suit in which he did his route with a bagful of papers, like Millet's "Sower," for a new check suit. In his snap-brim detective's felt and large-toed shoes, carrying accounts and a copy of the Tribune for the Gumps, the sports results, and the stock quotations--he was speculating--and also for the gangwar news, keeping up with what was happening around Colossimo and Capone in Cicero and the North Side O'Bannions, that being about the time when O'Bannion was knocked off among his flowers by somebody who kept his gun-hand in a friendly grip--with this, Coblin got on the Ashland car. For lunch he went to a good restaurant, or to Reicke's for Boston beans and brown bread. Then to the meeting, where the circulation manager gave his talk. Afterward, pie a la mode and coffee at the south end of the Loop, followed by a burlesque show at the Haymarket or Rialto, or one of the cheaper places where farm or Negro girls did the grinds, the more single-purposed, less playful houses.

Again, it's impossible to know what Anna's idea was of his downtown program. She was, you might say, in a desert, pastoral condition of development and not up to the fancy stage of Belshazzar's Feast of barbaric later days. For that matter, Coblin wasn't really up to it either. He was a solid man of relatively low current in his thoughts; he took the best care of his business and wouldn't overstay downtown to an hour that would make it difficult for him to get up at his regular time, four o'clock. He played the stock market, but that was business.

He played poker, but never for more than he carried in his change^ heavy pockets. He didn't have the long-distance burrowing vices of people who take you in by mildness and then turn out to have been digging and tunneling all the while--as skeptical judges are proud to point out when they see well-thought-of heads breaking through the earth in dark places. He was by and large okay with me, although he had his sullen times when he would badger me to get on faster with filling in the Sunday supplement. That was usually Anna's effect, when she obtained the widest influence on him and got him on war-footing with her in the smoke of her trenches. But on his own he had an entirely different spirit of private gayness, as exemplified by the time I walked in on him when he was in the bathtub, lying in the manly state, erect, and dripping himself with the sponge in the steamy, cramped steerage space of the small windowless bathroom. It might have been more .'^ 22 oublesome to ponder that the father of a Marine and of a young ghter and the husband of Cousin Anna, should be found in so little ^"

"Hy--much more troublesome, I see now, than it actually was. But my thoughts on this topic were never of any great severity; I could not see a debauchee where I had always seen Cousin Hyman, largely a considerate and merciful man, generous to me.

In fact they were all generous. Cousin Anna was a saving woman, she sane poor and did not spend much on herself, but she bought me a pair of winter hightops with a jack-knife on the side. And Five Properties loved to bring treats, cases of chocolate milk and flouncy giant boxes of candy, bricks of ice-cream and layer cakes. Both Coblin and he were hipped on superabundance. Whether it was striped silk shirts or sleeve garters or stockings with clocks, dixies in the movies or crackerlacks in the park when they took Friedl and me rowing, they seldom bought less than a dozen. Five Properties with bills. Cousin Hyman with his heaps of coins, just as flush. There was always much money in sight, in cups, glasses, and jars and spread on Coblin's desk. They seemed sure I wouldn't take any, and probably because everything was so lavish I never did. I was easily appealed to in this way, provided that I was given credit for understanding what the setup was, as when Grandma sent me on a mission. I could put my heart into a counterfeit too, just as easily. So don't think I'm trying to put over that, if handled right, a Cato could have been made of me, or a young Lincoln who tramped four miles in a frontier zero gale to refund three cents to a customer. I don't want to pass for having such legendary presidential stuff. Only those four miles wouldn't have been a hindrance if the right feelings were kindled. It depended on which way I was drawn.

Home made a neat and polished contrast on my half-days off. At Anna's the floors were washed on Friday afternoon, when she got down from bed and waded barefoot after the strokes of the mop, going forward, and afterward spread clean papers that soaked and dried and weren't taken up again till the week was over. Here you smelled the daily cleaning wax, and everything was in place on a studious plan --veneer shining, doilies spread, dime-store cut-glass, elkhorn, clock set in place--as regular as a convent parlor or any place where the love of God is made ready for on a base of domestic neatness and things kept well separated from the sea-composition of brutal and noisy trouble that heaves over every undefended wall. The bed that Simon and I slept in bulged up in full dress with pieces of embroidery on the pillow; books (Simon's hero's library) stacked; college pennants nailed in The; the women knitting by the clear, wall-browned summer air of the kitchen window; Georgie among the sunflowers and green washline poles of the yard, stumbling after slow Winnie, who went to smell where sparrows had lighted.

I guess it troubled me to see how absent Simon and I could be from the house and how smooth it went without us. Mama must have felt this and fussed over me as much as was allowable; she'd bake a cake, and I was something of a guest, with the table spread and jam dishes filled. That way my wage-earning was recognized, and it gave me pride to dig the folded dollars out of my watch pocket. Yet when any joke of the old woman's made me laugh harder than usual a noise came out of me which was the echo of the whooping cough--I was only that much ahead of childhood, and although I was already getting rangy and my head was as big as it would ever grow, I was still kept in short pants and Eton collar.

"Well, they must be teaching you great things over there," said Grandma. "This is your chance to learn culture and refinement." She meant to boast that she had already formed me and we had nothing to fear from common influences. But a little ridicule was indicated, just in case there should be any danger.

"Is Anna still crying?"


"All day long. And what does he do?--he looks at her and blinks with his eyes. And the kid stammers. It must be lively. And Five Properties, that Apollo--still looking for an American girl to marry?"

That was her deft, scuttling way. With the small yellow bone of her hand, the hand that had been truly married in Odessa to a man of real weight, she threw the switch, the water rushed in and the clumsy sank --money, strength, fat, silks, and candy boxes, and all--and left the witty and superb smiling to contemplate the ripples. You had to know, to get this as I did, that on Armistice Day of 1922, when Grandma turned her ankle coming down the stairs at eleven o'clock while the factories brewed up their solemn celebrating noise and she should have been standing still, Five Properties picked her up while she was spitting and wincing and rushed her to the kitchen. But her memory specialized in misdemeanors and offenses, which were as ineradicable from her brain as the patrician wrinkle was between her eyes, and her dissatisfaction was an element and a part of nature.

Five Properties was keen on getting married. He took the question up with everybody and naturally had been to see Grandma Lausch about it, and she masked herself up as usual and looked considerate and polite while in secret she checked off and collected what she wanted I for her file. But also she saw a piece of change in it for her, a matchmaker's fee. She watched for business opportunities. Once she had masterminded the smuggling of some immigrants from Canada. And I happen to know that she had made an agreement with Kreind! about a niece of his wife, that Kreindl was to act as go-between while the old woman encouraged Five Properties from her side. The scheme fell through, although Five Properties went into it eagerly at first, arriving to present himself brushed and burnished, flaming from his shave up to the Eskimo angle of his eyes, at Kreindl's basement where the meetin" was to be. But the girl was thin and pale and didn't satisfy him. He had in mind a bouncing, black-haired, large-lipped, party-going peach.

He was gentlemanlv about his refusal and took the thin girl out once or twice; she got a kewpie doll from him and one of those cartwheel crimson Bunte candy boxes, and he was done. The old woman then said she gave him up. However, I believe her arrangement with Kreindl stood for some time after, and Kreindl didn't quit. He still went to the Coblins' on Sundays, and he did a double errand, as he had Hebrew New Year's cards to sell on commission for a printer. It was one of his regular lines, like buying job-lots and auction goods and taking people from the neighborhood to the Halsted Street furniture stores when he got wind of their needing a suite.

He worked on Five Propeities craftily, and 1 would see them confabbing in the shed, Kreindl with his rolled legs and his conscript's history pasted on his eager, humiliated back, his beef-eater's face inflated to the height of his forehead with the fine points of the young lady of that day: of good family, nourished from her mother's hand with the purest and whitest food, brought up without rudeness or collision, producing breasts on time, no evil thoughts as yet, giving nothing but the clearest broth, you might say--and I can put myself in Five Properties' thoughts as he listened, crossed his arms, grinned, and appeared to scoff. Was she really so gentle, swell, and white? And if she overflowered into coarseness and grossness, after a little marriage, and lay in the luxury of bed eating fig newtons, corrupt and lazy, sending messages by window shade to sleek young boys? Or if her father was a grafter, her brothers burns and cardsharks, her mother loose or a spendthrift? Five Properties wanted to be awfully careful, and he didn't lack warnings and cautions from his sister, who, by ten years of seniority, could tip him off to American dangers and those of American women for green, old-country boys especially. She was comical when she did it, but grimly comical, for it was time taken from mourning.

'"It'll be something different than with me, somebody that undern stands life. If she wants a fur coat, like her swell friends, you'll have to buy a fur coat, and she won't care if it takes your last drop of blood to do it, a fresh young thing."

"Not me," said Five Properties, in somewhat the way Anna had said, "Not my son." He was rolling bread pills in his broad fingers and smoking a cigar, his green eyes awake and cold.

Busy at his accounts in his BVDs--the afternoon was hot--Coblin blinked me an extra smile, observing how I neglected my book to listen to this conversation. He never had it in for me because I broke in on his privacy in the bathroom; just the contrary.

As for the book, it was Simon's copy of the Iliad, and I had been reading how the fair Briseis was dragged around from tent to tent and Achilles racked up his spear and hung away his mail.

Early risers, the Coblins went to bed soon after supper, like a farm family. Five Properties was the first up, at half-past three, and waked Coblin. Coblin took me out with him to have breakfast at a joint on Belmont Avenue, a night-crowd hangout of truckers, conductors, postal clerks, and scrubwomen from Loop offices. Bismarcks and coffee for him, flapjacks and milk for me. He was in a big mood of sociability here, with the other steady patrons and with the Greek, Christopher, and the waitresses. He had no repartee but laughed at everything. At the convict hour between four and five when even those with the least to fear are darkened and sober, and back away from waking. It wasn't so for him; in the summer, at least, he loved to get out of the house and have the coffee before him and the bulldog edition under his arm.

We would go back to the shed to meet the paper trucks that came booming down the alley, tearing off leaves, with punks on the tail gate (to be on newspaper trucks was as sure a stage in their advancement to hoodlums as a hitch in Bridewell or joy-riding in stolen cars), booting off bundles of Tribunes or Examiners. Then the crew of delivery boys showed up with bicycles and coasters, and the route was covered by eight o'clock, Coblin and his older hands taking the steep back porches where you needed the knack of pitching the paper up to the third floor over the beams and clotheslines. Meanwhile Cousin Anna was awake and back at her specialties--as if the charge of them in the cottage had run down overnight--tears, speeches, lamentations, and bothering the morning mirrors with her looks. But also second breakfast was on the table, and Coblin ate before setting out on collections and the light banging of screen doors, in polite panama hat, blinking rapid-fire. He had morning gossamers on his trousers from being the first one through the yards, and he was ready for any conversation with up-tothe-minute oane news of the bloody nights of the beer barons and the last curb Quotations_everybody was playing the stock market, led by Insull.

And I was at home with Anna and the kid. Usually Anna went to Northern Wisconsin to escape the pollen in August, but this year, because of Howard's running away, Friedl was deprived of her vacation.

Anna often signed off with the complaint that Friedl was the only one of the better-class children to have no holiday. To make up for it she fed her more than ever, and the child had the color of too much nourishment in her face, a hectic, touchy, barbarous face. She couldn't be got to close the door when she went to the can, as even Georgie had been taught to do.

I hadn't forgotten that Friedl had been promised to me when I kept out of sight at the football game that day--the players bucking and thudding on the white lines of the frozen field. She was a young lady then, corrected of all such habits, I'm sure, grown big like her mother, and with her uncle's winesap complexion, and wearing a raccoon coat, eaoerly laughing and flagging a Michigan banner. She was studying to be a dietitian at Ann Arbor. This was about ten years removed from the Saturdays when I was given the money by Coblin to take her to the movies.

Anna did not object to our going, but she herself wouldn't touch money on holy days. She observed them all, including the new moons, from a little Hebrew calendar, covering her head, lighting candles, and: whispering prayers, with her eyes dilated and determined, going after religious terrors with the fear and nerve of a Jonah driven to enter frightful Nineveh. She thought it was her duty while I was in her house to give me some religious instruction, and it was a queer account I got from her of the Creation and Fall, the building of Babel, the Flood, the visit of the angels to Lot, the punishment of his wife and the lewdness of his daughters, in a spout of Hebrew, Yiddish, and English, powered by piety and anger, little flowers and bloody fires supplied from her own memory and fancy. She didn't abridge much in stories like the one about Isaac sporting with Rebecca in Abimelech's gardens, or the rape of Dinah by Shechem.

"He tortured her," she said.



She didn't think more was necessary and she was right. I have-to "and it to her that she knew her listener. There wasn't going to be any tooling about it. She was directing me out of her deep chest to the great eternal things.


Even at that time I couldn't imagine that I would marry into the Coblin family. And when Anna snatched Howard's saxophone, my thought was, "Go on, take it. What do I want it for! I'll do better than that."

My mind was already dwelling on a good enough fate.

While the old lady, following her own idea of what that fate would be, continued to find various jobs for me.

Saying "various jobs," I give out the Rosetta stone, so to speak, to my entire life.

These earliest jobs, though, that she chose for us, they weren't generally of the callousing kind. If hard, they were temporary and supposed to lead to something better. She didn't intend us to be common laborers.

No, we were to wear suits, not overalls, and she was going to set us on the way to becoming gentlemen despite our being born to have no natural hope of it, unlike her own sons with the German governesses and tutors and gymnasium uniforms they had had. It was not her fault that they couldn't do better than to become small-town businessmen, for they had been brought up to give the world a harder shake. Not that she ever complained of them, and they behaved with decent respect toward her, two sizable broad men in belted overcoats and spats, Stiva driving a Studebaker and Alexander a Stanley Steamer. Both were inclined to be silent and bored. Addressed in Russian, they answered in English, and apparently they weren't so enormously grateful for all she had done. Perhaps she worked so hard over Simon and me to show them what she could do even with such handicaps as ours; and maybe she sermonized us both about love because of her sons. Although she had a quick way of capturing their heads when they bent down to give her the kiss of duty.

Anyway, she had us under hard control. We had to brush our teeth with salt and wash our hair with Castile, bring home our report cards, and sleeping in skivvies was outlawed; we had to wear pajamas.

What did Danton lose his head for, or why was there a Napoleon, if it wasn't to make a nobility of us all? And this universal eligibility to be noble, taught everywhere, was what gave Simon airs of honor, Iroquois posture and eagle bearing, the lithe step that didn't crack a twie the grace of Chevalier Bayard and the hand of Cincinnatus at the plow the industry of the Nassau Street match-boy who became the king of corporations. Without a special gift of vision, maybe you wouldn't have seen it in most of us, lining up in the schoolyard on a red fall momino, standing on the gravel in black sheepskins and twisted black stoekinos, mittens. Western gauntlets, and peeling shoes, while the drum and bugle corps blasted and pounded and the glassy tides of wind drove weeds, leaves, and smoke around, struck the flag stiff and clanked the buckle of the rope on the steel pole. But Simon must have stood out, at the head of the school police patrol, in starched linen Sam Browne belt ironed the night before and serge cap. He had a handsome, bold, blond face; even the short scar on his brow was handsome and assertive. In the school windows Thanksgiving cut-outs were hanging, black and orange Pilgrims and turkeys, strung cranberries, and the polished glass showed the blue and the red chill of the sky, the electric lights and the blackboards inside. A red and dark building; an abbey, a mill by the Fall River or the Susquehanna, a county jail--it resembled each somewhat.

Simon had a distinguished record here. President of the Loyal League, he wore the shield on his sweater, and was valedictorian. I didn't have his singleness of purpose but was more diffuse, and anybody who offered entertainment could get me to skip and do the alleys for junk, or prowl the boathouse and climb in the ironwork under the lagoon bridge. My marks showed it, and the old lady would give me a going-over when I brought them in, calling me "cat-head" and, in her French, "meshant," threatening that I'd go to work at fourteen.

'I'll get you a certificate from the Board and you can go like a Polack and work in the stockyards," she'd say.

Other times she'd take a different tone with me. "It isn't that you don't have a brain, you're just as smart as anybody else. If Kreindl's son can be a dentist you can be governor of Illinois. Only you're too easy to tickle. Promise you a joke, a laugh, a piece of candy, or a lick of ice- "earn, and you'll leave everything and run. In short, you're a fool," she said, taking her shawl of woolen knitted spider-circles in her hands and drawing it down as a man draws on his lapels. "You don't know \at\ earning if you think you can get by with laughing and eating peach pie." Coblin had given me a taste for pie; she scorned and despised it. "Paper and glue," she said with hatred and her Jehovah jealousy of outside influences. "What else did he teach you?" she menacingly asked.

"Nothing." ';. -.: "Nothing is right!" And she would make me stand and endure a punitive silence, a comment on myself and my foolishness, overgrown and long-legged in my short pants, large-headed, with black mass of hair and cleft chin--a source of jokes. And also a healthy complexion. wasted on me evidently, for she would say, "Look, look, look at his face! Look at it!" grinning and gripping the holder in her gums, smoke trickling up from her cigarette.

She once caught me in the street, which was being paved, chewing tar from one of the seething tar-pots, with my friend Jimmy Klein whose family she didn't approve of anyhow, and I was in her bad books for a longer time than ever. These periods kept increasing, my misdemeanors growing worse. From taking my punishments very hard, consulting Mama as to how to be forgiven and asking her to approach the old lady for me, and shedding tears when I was pardoned, I got to the stage of feeling more resistant, through worldly comparisons that made me see my crimes more tolerantly. That isn't to say that I stopped connecting her with the highest and the best--taking her at her own word--with the courts of Europe, the Congress of Vienna, the splendor of family, and all kinds of profound and cultured things as hinted in her conduct and advertised in her speech--she'd call up connotations of the utmost importance, the imperial brown of Kaisers and rotogravures of capitals, the gloominess of deepest thought. And I wasn't unaffected by her nagging. I didn't want to go out at fourteen with a certificate and work in the packing plants, so occasionally, for a spell, I'd pick up; I'd do my homework and almost climb out of my seat, wagging my arm with zeal to answer questions. Then Grandma would swear that I'd not only go to high school but, if she lived and had strength, to college.

"Just so you want! Heaven and earth will be moved." And she spoke of her cousin Dasha who had rolled on the floor nights to stay awake, studying for her medical exam.

When Simon graduated and gave the commencement address I was skipped a grade, and the principal mentioned us in his speech, both March brothers. The whole family was present--Mama at the back where she had placed herself with George, in case he should act up.

She wasn't going to leave him at home today, and they were in the last' row, where the floor and the bottom of the gallery came the closest. I was sitting up in front, in the feather-trailed air, with the old lady, who was dressed up in dark silk and multiply-wound gold chains with the heart of a locket that one of her teething children had dented; she was narrow-nosed with pride, and distinguished, in a kind of fury of silent trying, from the other immigrant relatives, her double spray of feathers busv hanging in two directions. This was what she had been attempting to et over to us, that if we did as she said we could expect plenty of results like this public homage.

"Now I want to see you up there next year," she said to me.

But she wasn't going to. It was already too late, notwithstanding that I had applied myself enough to skip; my past record was against me, and anyhow I didn't take permanent inspiration from this success.

I wasn't cut out for it.

And besides, Simon didn't keep it up himself. He remained more attentive to school than I, but he went through a change the summer he waited on tables in Benton Harbor, and came back with some different aims from his original ones and new ideas about conduct.

A sign of his change, and of great importance for me, was that he returned in the fall brawnier and golden-colored but with an upperfront tooth broken, sharp and a little discolored among the whole and white ones, and his face, laughter and all, altered by it. He wouldn't say how it had happened. Was it in a fight that someone had cracked it?

"Kissing a statue," he said to me. "No, I was biting a dime in a crap game."

Six months before such an answer would have been unthinkable.

Also, there was money not accounted for to Grandma's satisfaction.

"Don't tell me all you made in tips was thirty dollars! I know that Reimann's is a first-class resort, and they have people all the way from Cleveland and St. Louis. I expected you to spend something on yourself when you were away the whole summer, but--"

"Well, sure, and I did spend about fifteen dollars."

"You always have been honest, Simon. Now Augie brought us home every cent."

"Have been? I am!" he said, mounting up on his pride and tallest falsehood-spurning dignity. "I brought you my wages for twelve weeks, and thirty bucks besides."

She let the matter drop with a silent, piercing glitter from the flat of her gold-wired goggles and a warning-off from a false course in her grayness and wrinkles and a quick suck of her cheek. She indicated she could strike a blow when the moment came. But for the first time relt fron-i Simon that he was thinking you didn't have to worry about that. Not that he was ready to jump off into rebellion. But he had some ideas, and by and by we were saying to each other things that couldn't be said before the women.

At first we often worked in the same places. We went to Coblin's sometimes when he needed us for his crew, and down in Woolworth's cellar we unpacked crockery from barrels so enormous that you could walk into them; we scooped out stale straw and threw it in the furnace.

Or we loaded paper into the giant press and baled it. It was foul down there from the spoiled food and mustard cans, old candy, and the straw and paper. For lunch we went upstairs. Simon refused to take sandwiches from home; he said we needed a hot meal when we were working. For twenty-five cents we got two hotdogs, a mug of root beer, and oie, the dogs in cotton-quality rolls, dripping with the same mustard that made the air bad below. But it was the figure you cut as an employee, on an employee's footing with the girls, in work clothes, and being of that tin-tough, creaking, jazzy bazaar of hardware, glassware, chocolate, chickenfeed, jewelry, drygoods, oilcloth, and song hits--that was the big thing; and even being the Atlases of it, under the floor, hearing how the floor bore up under the ambling weight of hundreds, with the fanning, breathing movie organ next door and the rumble descending from the trolleys on Chicago Avenue--the bloody-rinded Saturday gloom of wind-borne ash, and blackened forms of five-story buildings rising up to a blind Northern dimness from the Christmas blaze of shops. | Simon moved on soon to a better job with the Federal News Company, which had a concession of the stands in the railroad stations and 'the candy and paper sales on trains. The family had to lay out the deposit on a uniform, and he began to keep midnight hours, down- | town and on the trains, smart and cadet-like in the spanty new uniform.

Sunday mornings he rose late and came out in his bathrobe, sitting down to breakfast big and easy, emboldened by his new earning power. He was shorter than before with Mama and George, and occasionally he was difficult with me.

"Lay off that Tribune before I set to it. Christ, I bring it home at night, and in the morning it's all in pieces before I can look at iti"

On the other hand he gave Mama some of his pay without Grandma's knowledge, to spend on herself, and saw to it that I had pocket money and that even George got pennies for soldier-caramels. There was never anything mean about Simon, where money was concerned. He had kind of an oriental, bestowing temperament; he had no peace or rest if he ever lacked dough and would sooner beat a check altogether than go out of a lunchwagon without leaving a good tip. He banged i')

OF AUG1E MARCH p on the head once for taking up one of the two dimes he put under our plates in a coffee shop. Ten cents seemed to me enough.

"Don't let me catch you doing such piker things again," he said to me and I was afraid of him and didn't dare talk back.

Those Sunday mornings in the kitchen, then, with his uniform seen inside the bedroom, hung with care from the foot of the bed, and comfortable tears of mist running on the windows, he felt the strength of his position as the one getting ready to take the control of the family into his own hands. For he sometimes spoke to me of Grandma as of a stranger.

"She's really nothing to us, you know that, don't you, Aug?"

It wasn't so much rebellion as it was repudiation she had to fear, not being heeded, when he spread his paper over the entire table and read with his hand to his forehead and the darkening blond hair falling over it. Still, he didn't have any plan for deposing her and didn't interfere with her power over the rest of us-especially over Mama, who remained as much a slavey as before. And with her eyes deteriorating, so that the glasses fitted the year before were no longer strong enough. We went back to the dispensary for a new pair and cleared another inquisition; we only just cleared it. They had Simon's age on the record and asked whether he wasn't working. I thought I didn't need Grandma's rehearsing any more and could invent answers myself; and even Mama didn't obey as usual by being silent, but lifted up her odd clear voice and said, "My boys are still in school, and after school I need them to help me out."

Then we were nearly caught by the clerk in the making out of the budget and were terrified, but we were favored by the crowd that day anrt got the slip to the optical department. We were not ready yet to do without the old woman's coaching.

Simon's news became the chief interest of the house now, when he was shifted from the trains to a stand in the La Salle Street Station and men to the centra! stand that carried books and novelties, just where the most rushing and significant business was done, in the main path of travel. There he was able to see the celebrities in their furs or stetsons and alpacunas, going free in the midst of their toted luggage, always more proud or more melancholy or more affable or more lined than they were represented. They arrived from California or from Oregon on the Portland Rose in the snow whirled from the inhuman "eights of La Salle Street or cleaving hard in the speed lines of the trains; they took off for New York on the Twentieth Century, in their flower-garnished, dark polished parlor-like compartments upholstered b. - 33 in deep green, washing in silver sinks, sipping coffee out of china, smoking cigars.

Simon reported, "I saw John Gilbert today in a big velour hat," or, "Senator Borah left me the change of a dime from his Daily News," or, "If you saw Rockefeller you'd believe that he has a rubber stomach, as they say,"

When he gave these accounts at the table he set off the hope that somehow greatness might gather him into its circle since it touched him already, that he might appeal to somebody, that Insull's eye might be taken by him and he would give him his card and tell him to report at his office next morning. I have a feeling that soon Grandma began to blame Simon in her secret thought for not making the grade. Maybe he didn't care enough to seem distinguished, maybe his manner wasn't right, impudent, perhaps. Because Grandma believed in the stroke or inspiration that brought you to the notice of eminent men. She collected stories about this, and she had a scheme for writing to Julius Rosenwald whenever she read that he was making a new endowment.

It was always to Negroes, never to Jews, that he gave his money, she said, and it angered her enormously, and she cried, "That German Yehuda!" At a cry like that the age-crippled old white dog would stand up and try to trot to her.

"That Deutsch!"

Still, she admired Julius Rosenwald; he belonged to the inside ring of her equals; where they sat, with a different understanding from ours, and owned and supervised everything.

Simon, meanwhile, was trying to find a Saturday place for me in the La Salle Street Station and rescue me from the dime-store cellar, where Jimmy Klein had taken his place. Grandma and even Mama were after him to do something.

"Simon, you must pull Augie in."

"Well, I ask Borg every time I see him. Holy Jesus, folks, everybody has relatives there!"

"What's the matter, won't he take a bribe?" said Grandma. "Believe me, he's waiting for you to offer him one. Ask him for dinner and I'll show you. A couple of dollar bills in a napkin."

She'd show us how to practice in the world. Short of brushing the throat of a rival or hindrance with a poison feather at the dinner table, of course, as Nero had done. Simon said he couldn't invite Borg. He didn't know him well since he was only an extra, and he didn't want to look like a toady and be despised.

"Well, my dear Graf Potocki," Grandma said, narrowing down her look cold and dry, while he in his impatience was already out of breath. "So you'd rather leave your brother working at Woolworth's with that foolish Klein boy in the basement!"

After months of this Simon at last got me on downtown, proving that her power over him wasn't ended yet.

He brought me in to Borg one morning. "Remember now," he warned me on the streetcar, "no funny stuff. You'll be working for old foxy grandpa himself, and he isn't going to put up with any fooling. On this job you handle a lot of dough and it comes at you fast. Anything you're short at the end of the day Borg will take out of your little envelope.

You're on probation. I've seen some dopes go out on their ear."

He was particularly severe with me that morning. It was stiff cold weather, the ground hard, the weeds standing broken in the frost, the river giving off vapor and the trains leghorn shots of steam into the broad blue Wisconsin-humored sky, the brass handgrip of the straw seats finger-polished, the crusty straw golden, the olive and brown of coats in their folds gold too, and the hairs of Simon's sizable wrists a greater brightness of the same; also the down of his face, now shaved more often than before. He had a new tough manner of pulling down breath and hawking into the street. And whatever the changes were that he had undergone and was undergoing, still he hadn't lost his fineframed independent look that he controlled me with. I was afraid of him, though I was nearly his size. Except for the face, we had the same bones.

I wasn't fated to do well at the station. Maybe Simon's threats had something to do with this, and his disgust with me when I had to be docked the first day. But I was a flop, and nearly as much as a dollar short each time, even by the third week. Since I was allowed only two bits above my carfare--forty cents to the penny--! couldn't cover my shortages, and Simon, grim and brief, told me on the way to the car one night that Borg had given me the boot.

"I couldn't run after people who short-changed me," I kept defending myself. "They throw the money down and grab a paper; you can't leave the stand to shag them."

At last he answered me coldly, with a cold lick of fire in his eyes, on the stationary wintriness of the black steel harness of the bridge over the dragging unnamable mixture of the river flowing backwards with its waste. "You couldn't get that money out of somebody else's change, could you!"


"You heard me, you dumbhead!"

"Why didn't you tell me before?" I cried back.

"Tell you?" he said, pushing angrily by me. "Tell you to keep your barn buttoned, as if you didn't have any more brains than George!"

And he let the old woman yell at me, saying nothing in my defense.

Before this he had always stood up for me when it was any serious matter. Now he kept aside in the low lights of the kitchen, his fist on his hip and his coat slung over his shoulder, once in a while lifting the lid on the stove where our supper stood warming, and prodding the coals. I took it hard that he was disloyal to me, but also I knew I had let him down with Borg, whom he sold a bright brother that turned out stupid. But I had been at a small stand under a pillar, where I seemed to get merely stragglers, and Borg gave me only the coat of a uniform, gone in the lining, with ragged cuffs and the braid shot. Alone, I had nobody to point out celebrities to me if any came that way, and I passed the time mooning and waiting for lunch relief and the three o'clock break, when I would watch Simon at the main stand and admire the business there--where the receipts were something to see-- the pour of money and the black molecular circulation of travelers knowing what they wanted in gum, fruit, cigarettes, the thick bulwarks of papers and magazines, the power of the space and the span of the main chandelier. I thought that if Borg had started me here instead of in my marble corner, off on the edge where I heard only echoes and couldn't even see the trains, I would have made out better.

So I had the ignominy of being canned and was read the riot act in the kitchen. Seemingly the old lady had been waiting for just this to happen and had it ready to tell me that there were faults I couldn't afford to have, situated where I was in life, a child of an abandoned family with no father to keep me out of trouble, nobody but two women, feeble-handed, who couldn't forever hold a cover over us from hunger, misery, crime, and the wrath of the world. Maybe if we had been sent to an orphanage, as Mama at one time thought of doing, it would have been better. For me, at least, in lessons of hardness, since I had the kind of character that looked for ease and places where I could lie down. She shook the crabbed unit of her hand at me with the fierceness of the words, till now spoken only to herself, bitterly, and with them there came out an oceanic lightning of prophecy that had gathered in her skull by the stove-side through days not otherwise very lighted.

"Remember when I am in my grave, Augie, when I will be dead!"

And the falling hand landed on my arm; it was accidental, but the ffect was frightful, for I yelled as if this tap had tenfold hit my soul. Maybe I wasyelling about my character, made to feel the worst of it, that I'd go to the grave myself with never the hope of another and better- no power to relieve me of it, purify and redeem me from it; and she was putting herself already beyond life to make her verdict on me binding beyond recall.

"Gedenk, Augie, wenn ich bin todt!"

But she couldn't stand to dwell long on her death. Heretofore she hadn't ever mentioned her mortality to us, so it was a sort of lapse; and even now she was like a Pharaoh or Caesar promising to pass into g qq(j_except that she would have no pyramids or monuments to make ood the promise and was that much inferior to them. However, her painful, dreadful, toothless, gape-gummed crying the cry of judgment in the lock of death worked hard on me. She had the power to make a threat like this more than the threat of ordinary people, but she also had to pay the price of her own terror at it.

Now she switched back to our fatherlessness. It was a bad moment, and I had brought it on Mama. Simon kept silent by the nickel and bitumen black of the stove, fiddling with the poker-handled steel coil of the lid lever. In the other corner sat Mama, sober and guilty, the easy mark of whoever was our father. The old lady was out to bum me to small ash that night, and everyone was going to get scorched.

I couldn't go back to my old Woolworth job. And so Jimmy Klein and I went together to look for work, despite Grandma's warnings against him. He was highly sociable and spirited, slight and dark-faced, narrow-eyed, witty-looking, largely willing to be honest but not overstrapped by conscience--the old lady was right about that. He couldn't come to the house; she wouldn't encourage me to keep bad company, she said. But I was welcome at the Kleins', and even Georgie was.

Afternoons, when I had to take him out, I could leave him there playing with the little chicks they raised, or tried to raise, in the dark, clay areaway between buildings, and Mrs. Klein could keep an eye on him from the cellar kitchen, where she sat at the table, handy to the range, paring, peeling, slicing, cutting meat for stew, and molding meatballs.

Weighing more than two hundred pounds, and with one leg shorter than the other, she couldn't keep long on her feet. Unworried and ^gular-looking, brow bent to brow, nose curving and short, she dyed her hair black with a liquid ordered by mail from Altoona; she applied it with old toothbrushes she kept in a glass on the bathroom window; this gave her braids a peculiar Indian luster. They fell along her cheeks down to the multiform work of her chins. Her black eyes were small but merciful to confusion; she was popelike and liberal with pardons and indulgences. Jimmy had four brothers and three sisters, some of them occupied mysteriously, but all were genial and glad-handing, even the married elder daughters and the middle-aged sons. Two of her children were divorced and one daughter was a widow, so that Mrs. Klein had grandchildren in her kitchen at all times, some coming from school for lunch and after school for cocoa, others creeping on the floor or lying in buggies. Everyone in those prosperous days was earning money, and yet all had trouble. Gilbert had to pay alimony; the divorced sister, Velma, was not getting hers regularly. Her husband had knocked out one of her teeth in a brawl, and now he often came to beg her mother to plead with her to come back. I saw him lay his red head on the table and cry while his sons and daughters were playing in the seats of his taxi. He made good dough, still he wouldn't give Velma enough, figuring she'd come back to him if he kept her needy. She borrowed, however, from her family. I've never seen such people for borrowing and lending; there was dough changing hands in all directions, and nobody grudged anyone.

But the Kleins seemed to need a great many things and bought them all on the installment plan. Jimmy was sent out--and I with him--the money put inside the earflaps of his cap, to make payments. On the phonograph, on the Singer machine, on the mohair suite with pelletfilled ashtrays that couldn't be overturned, on buggies and bicycles, linoleums, on dental and obstetrical work, on the funeral of Mr. Klein's father, on back-supporting corsets and special shoes for Mrs. Klein, on family photos taken for a wedding anniversary. We covered the city on these errands. Mrs. Klein didn't mind our going to shows, as we often did, to hear Sophie Tucker whack herself on the behind and sing "Red Hot Mama," or see Rose La Rose swagger and strip in the indolent rhythm that made Coblin her admirer. "That girl is not just a beautiful girl," he said. "There are a lot of beautiful girls, but this girl feels men's hearts. She doesn't drop off her dress the way others do, she pulls it over her head. That's why she's the top of her profession today."

We were in the Loop much more than we ought to have been and were continually running into Coblin standing in theater lines during school hours. He never told on me. He only said, like a sport, "What's today, Augie? The mayor closed up the school?" Cheerful as usual, grinning and happy in the limy and red lights of the marquee, like the old kin" of the Scotch mists who had half a face of emerald and half of red jewel.

"What's the feature?"

"Bardelys the Magnificent plus Dave Apollon and his Komarinsky dancers. Come along and keep me company."

We had a reason, at that time, for keeping away from school. Steve the Sailor Bulba, my lockermate, brute-nosed and red, with the careful long-haired bartering and toutish sideburns that gave notice that he was dangerous; bearish, heavy-bottomed in his many-buttoned, groundscuffing sailor pants and his menacing rat-peaked shoes; a housebreaker who stole plumbing fixtures and knocked open telephone coin boxes in recently vacated flats--this Bulba had taken my science notebook and turned it in as his own. Since there was nothing I could do with Bulba, Jimmy lent me his notes, and I carelessly erased his name and wrote my own over it. We were caught, and Simon had to be called in. Simon didn't want Mama to be brought to school any more than I did. He was able to get around Wigler, the science teacher, eventually.

But all the while Bulba, small-eyed and looking mild, his forehead peaceful and blind, wrinkled to the gentle winter light of the classroom, was trying to make his clasp-knife stand up on its blades, like a horny insect.

After this it wasn't hard for Jimmy to induce me to go downtown with him, especially on science afternoons, to ride, if there was nothing better to do, in the City Hall elevator with his brother Tom, from the gilded lobby to the Municipal Courts. In the cage we rose and dropped, rubbing elbows with bigshots and operators, commissioners, grabbers, heelers, tipsters, hoodlums, wolves, fixers, plaintiffs, flatfeet, men in Western hats and women in lizard shoes and fur coats, hothouse and arctic drafts mixed up, brute things and airs of sex, evidence of heavy feeding and systematic shaving, of calculations, grief, not-caring, and hopes of tremendous millions in concrete to be poured or whole Mississippis of bootleg whisky and beer.

Tommy sent us to his bucket-shop stockbroker on Lake Street, back of the panels of a cigar-store front, later a handbook. Tommy was in a good position to get leads. But even in those money-minting days he never did more than break even. If you didn't count the gains that went into his wardrobe and the gifts he gave his family. The Kleins were all gift-givers. Gift robes and wrappers, Venetian mirrors and chateaux- ro-the-moonlight tapestries, teacarts, end tables, onyx-based lamps, percolators and electric toasters, and novels--boxes of things stacked "P in the closets and under the beds, awaiting their time of usefulness.

And yet, except on Sundays when they dolled up, the Kleins looked poor. Old Klein wore his vest over his long-sleeved undershirt and rolled his cigarettes in a little machine.

The one unmarried daughter, Eleanor, had a gypsy style and got herself up in flaming, bursting flowers and Japanese dyes. Fat and pale, with an intelligent Circassian bow to her eyes, very humane, overreconciled to a bad lot, taking it for granted that she was too fat to get a husband and forgiving her married sisters and mobile brothers their better luck, she had a genial cry, almost male and fraternal. She was especially kind to me, called me "lover" and "little brother" and "heartbreaker," told my fortune in cards and knitted me a three-peaked skating cap in yellow and green so that 1 would look like a Norwegian champion on the pond. When she was well enough--she suffered from rheumatism and had female disorders--she worked in the wrapping department of a soap factory on the North Branch; and when she was at home sat with her mother in the kitchen, wrapped in a flamboyant floral material, heavy black hair slipping back loose and tuberous from a topknot, drinking coffee, knitting, reading, shaving her legs, playing operettas on the gramophone, painting her nails, and, doing these necessary or half-necessary or superfluous things, invisibly paid herself out farther and farther into the mood of a long-seated woman.

The Kleins respected and admired Grandma Lausch for the task she undertook with us. However, Grandma heard, from one of her Pinkerton sources, that Georgie was seen with the chicks between the buildings--they never reached full size, these animals, from lack of sunlight and good feed, but moulted and died scraggly and in a queer state of growth--and she called the Kleins some ugly names.

She didn't come down to give them a piece of her mind because it was no use fighting; they were sometimes able to get me some small job or other, through the influence of Jimmy's uncle Tambow, who delivered the vote of his relatives in the ward and was a pretty big wheel in Republican ward politics. We had a very good month before elections, passing out campaign literature. Tambow often had use for us when someone put a piece of business in his way, like lost articles in the post office or distressed goods in a bankruptcy. It had to be something worth while to pull him away from his card game, but when he had made his buy of razors, leather straps, or doll dishes, toy xylophones, glass-cutters, hotel soap, or first-aid kits, being exempt from licenses, he'd set up a stand on Milwaukee Avenue and hire us to run it. His own sons refused to work for him.

He was divorced and lived in a single room. He had a huge nose, d a countenance loose in the skin, with the eye-bags of a fishing hird seamy, greenish, and gray. Patient, diligent-looking, and gross, ^'is chair like a vaquero deep sunk in the saddle, he whistled when he breathed from his burden of weight and the bite on his cigar; hair crrew from his nose and about the various rings on his knuckles. All? imes of the year were alike to him. May or November, he had his eleven o'clock breakfast of tea with milk and lump sugar and sweet rolls dinner of steak and baked potatoes, he smoked ten or twelve Ben Beys, wore the same pants of aldermanic stripe, a hat of dark convention drawing the sphere of social power over his original potent face while he considered what to meld and when to play jack or ace, or whether he could give his son Clementi the two bucks he often came in to ask for. Clementi was the younger son who lived with his mother and stepfather back of their infants'-wear store. "Mine boy, with pleasure," or, "Tomorrow, with pleasure," Tambow said. Tambow didn't say no to sons who had a stepfather. And, a good five rinds inside his old Adam, in the grease, tea, and onion blaze of his restaurant headquarters, crumbling ashes on his lap and picking up his cards with one hand, he wasn't, with his other sins, worried over money; he was grand-ducal with it, like the Kleins. And Clem was an easy spender too, and stood treat. But he wouldn't work, not for his father or for anyone else. So old Tambow set us up in the Milwaukee Avenue throng with, usually, Sylvester in charge, put in a fix with the cops so we wouldn't be bothered, and went back to his card game.

It was a bad time for Sylvester. He had lost the lease on his movie, which had been failing anyway--it was now a wallpaper and paint shop--and he was living with his father, for his wife had left him and, he told us himself, threw stones at him when he tried to come through the backyard to see her. He had given her up for crazy and sent a letter agreeing to an annulment. To raise the money for his fees at Armour Tcch, where he was trying to finish his work for an engineer's degree, he had sold his furniture and movie equipment, and now he said that he had been away from school too long to sit in a classroom. Eyes tearing in the November wind as he stood with us on Milwaukee Avenue, thick hands in his overcoat pocket, neck sunk, foot knocking "oot, he made depressed jokes. The difference in our ages was no consideration with him. He told all his thoughts. When he finished his degree he was off to see the total globe. Foreign governments were crying for American engineers, and he could write his own ticket. He'd go 10 Kimberley, where he understood it was true that the natives tried to hide the diamonds in their guts. Or to Soviet Russia--now giving us 41" the whole story, that he sympathized with the Reds and admired Lenin, and especially Trotsky, who had won the civil war, traveling in a tank and reading French novels, while czar, priests, barons, generals, and landlords were being smoked out of the palaces.

Meantime, Jimmy and I were sitting on Tambow's two big suitcases, and we called, "Get ya blades here!" and tended to business.

Sylvester collected the money.


All the influences were lined up waiting for me. I was born, and there they were to form me, which is why I tell you more of them than of myself.

At this time, and later too, I had a very weak sense of consequences, and the old lady never succeeded in opening much of a way into my imagination with her warnings and predictions of what was preparing for me--work certificates, stockyards, shovel labor, penitentiary rockpiles, bread and water, and lifelong ignorance and degradation. She invoked all these, hotter and hotter, especially from the time I began to go with Jimmy Klein, and she tried to tighten house discipline, inspected my nails and shirt collar before school, governed my table conduct more sharply, and threatened to lock me out nights if I stayed in the streets after ten. "You can go to the Kleins, if they'll take you in. Listen to me, Augie, I'm trying to make something of you. But I can't send Mama out to follow you and see what you do. I want you to be a mensch. You have less time to change than you think. The Klein boy is going to get you into trouble. He has thievish eyes. The truth now--is he a crook or not? Aha! He doesn't answer. True," she said, pushing sharply. "Say!"

I answered emptily, "No," and wondered what she knew and who had told her. For Jimmy, like Stashu Kopecs, did take what he wanted in stores and from stands. And at this very time we were engaged in a swindle in Deever's neighborhood department store, where we were Christmas extras in the toy department, Santa Claus's helpers, in elves' costumes, with painted faces. - High-school sophomores, we were getting too big for this sort of '"g, but Santa Claus himself was enormous, a Swedish stoker and dayman, from the alley side of the store, a former iron-boat fireman roin Duluth, with trellis-winding muscles and Neanderthal eye-sockets, ootch-shming lumps in his forehead and his beard-hidden lip packed " 43 with Copenhagen Seal snuff. Over an undershirt full of holes, he strapped pillows for girth, wadded up his pants, for his legs were long and thin, and we helped pull on his coat. Painted and rouged with theater greasepaint and dusted with mica snow. Jimmy and I marched around the store with tambourines and curl-tongued noisemakers, turning somersaults in our billiard-felt jester's suits, and we gathered a gang of kids to lead to the third floor where the Swede Santa Claus sat in his sleigh, with reindeer artfully hung from the ceiling, the toy trains snicking and money baskets mousing swift and mechanical on the cables to the cashier's cage. Here we were in charge of a surprisepackage barrel done up in red and green paper, hollies and diamond powder and coils of silver bristles. These Christmas packages sold for two bits, and Jimmy decided that no inventory of them was possible and began to pocket every tenth quarter. For several days he didn't tell me this, only stood me to lunch. Then he let me into his secret as the volume of business got heavier. We were supposed to carry the money to the cashier when we had accumulated ten dollars. "She dumps it straight in the sack with the rest of the change," he said. "She doesn't mark down where it comes from because she's too busy raking it in, so why shouldn't we take a cut?" We had many discussions about it and raised the percentage to two quarters in every ten. There was a great thriving noise and glitter; all minds were dispersed into this Christmas tinkling, whirring, carols, and signal chimes, and what we were doing in secret with our hands wasn't observable. We stole considerable money. Jimmy was ahead of me. Not only had he started earlier, but I was out several days from the effect of butterscotch cream pie and other rich stuff we treated ourselves to. Or perhaps from a heightening of nerves through the brilliance and success of the wrong we were doing and the problem of how to spend the money. Jimmy spent a lot on presents--elegant slippers and string-feathered mules for everyone, smoking jackets, jazzy ties, rag rugs, and Wearever aluminum. From me. Mama got a bathrobe, the old woman a cameo pin, Georgie plaid stockings, and Simon a shirt. I gave presents to Mrs. Klein and Eleanor too, and to some girls at school.

Days when we weren't working I stayed by preference at the Kleins', where the window sills were level with the sidewalk, and got a taste of what it was to be sitting on parlor furniture while outside something was shaping up from our misdeeds, as for a Roger Touhy, Tommy O'Connor, Basil Banghart, or Dillinger, who had had surgery on their faces, acid on their fingertips, who played solitaire, followed the sports results, sent out for hamburgers and milkshakes, and were trapped at 1
At the end of the Christmas holiday Deever's caught up with us.

The department manager came and had a talk with Grandma. There had been an inventory of the packages. We didn't attempt to deny the theft, and I at any rate didn't argue the figure of seventy dollars that the manager gave, though the amount we took was actually less. The old lady at first refused to see me through. Icy, she told Simon he had better call in Lubin, the caseworker, for she didn't have the strength to give and had only undertaken to help bring up children, not to handle criminals. Simon brought her around because, he said, the Charities would want to know how long we had been working and why they weren't told. Of course the old lady never had the slightest intention of letting me be sent to reform school, as was threatened. But the threat was made, and I was prepared to go to Juvenile Court and pass on to the house of correction with a practically Chinese acquiescence in their right to punish that foretold what I'd let be done with me. It partly showed I felt people were right because they were angry.

On the other hand, I lacked the true sense of being a criminal, the sense that I was on the wrong side of the universal wide line with the worse or weaker part of humankind, carrying brow marks or mutilated thumbs and slit ears and noses.

There wasn't just threatening and scolding this time but absolute abasement. After the first giant crash, in full brass. Grandma put me on cold treatment. Simon was distant to me. I couldn't throw it up to him that he had given me advice about short-change; he'd only say curtly that I was a chump and act as though he didn't know what I was talking about. Mama must have felt she was in one of her starcrossed hours, and that the result of her unlucky capitulation to our father was beginning to show its final retributive shape. Even she said a few sharp things to me. I suffered like a beaver. However, they couldn't get me to beg and entreat--though I wasn't unmoved by the thought of a jail sentence, head shaven, fed on slumgullion, mustered in the mud, buffaloed and bossed. If they decided I had it coming, why, 1 didn't see how I could argue it. do that. And her tailor father didn't seem to know of my being there, this lean, unshaved, back-bent man, and I could gaze at him as much as I liked while he pinned, sponged, and pressed, fatigued-lookjng and oblivious. Anyhow, once she had gone in Hilda didn't come out again; she sunk into the house and seemed to have no business whatever out of doors.

"With all the babes there are to fall for!" said Clem Tambow, scornful and ugly-nosed. "Let me once take you to a whore, and you'll forget all about her," he said. Of course I didn't answer. "Then I'll write her a letter for you," he offered, "and ask for a date. As soon as you've taken one single walk with her and kissed her you'll be washed up. You'll see how beanbrained she is, and she's not pretty; she has lousy teeth." I declined this too. "All right, I'll talk to her then. I'll tell her to grab you while you're still blind. She'll never get anybody handsomer, and she must know it. What gets you about her? That she smokes, I bet." Finally Jimmy said, "Don't bother him, he wants to carry the torch," and they grabbed their genitals obscenely and threw themselves around on the furniture of the Kleins' living room, which was our club. But I didn't stop this sadhearted, worshipful blundering around or standing like painted wood across the street from the tailor shop in the bluey afternoon. Her scraggy father labored with his needle, bent over, and presumably thinking nothing of his appearance to the street in the lighted glass; her chicken-thin little sister in black gym bloomers cut paper with the big shears.

It took several weeks before the acute part of this passed, and meanwhile I was still in the doghouse at home. It didn't improve things that during this love-struck time I brought in very little money. Simon now had strange hours for coming and going, and he couldn't be questioned about them, since he was working. We no longer came home for lunch; consequently Mama had the chores we used to do at noon, lugging up the coal, airing Winnie, fetching George from school, and doing all the hard wringing of sheets by herself on washdays, growing leaner and more haggard from the extra work. Anyhow, there was a tone and air of anarchy and unruliness around, and of powers thickening with age and delays, planning the stroke that would make the palace ring as in old times and knock the courtiers' noggins on the walls when they were least dreaming of it.

"Well, Augie? What? Are you through working?" Grandma said to me. "Finished work, eh? You want to live on the Charities all your life?"

I did have a sort of job at the time, in a flowershop. Only, on the tons when I was attending the meetings of the Bonheur Club or IJSilda Novinson in her heart-trap galoshes through the slush, l^asily say that Bluegren had no deliveries for me.

Staea gave me what he felt like giving on any particular after' ad that, usually, was more for helping him shake down and straw cores of wreaths (he had a big gangster clientele) than series, when he reckoned I would get tips, which by and large Hit pretty fair. I didn't like traveling on streetcars with large |^or floral doorpieces for funerals, because early in the evening ||-; the home-going traffic and had to fight for space and hold a "sagainsi conductors and winter-moody passengers, covering the l. with my body, and was pretty harassed. And then if it was an tker's I was bound for, swinging my package overhead like a Idler and making slow way through the beeping, grinding, and pag, there hardly ever was anyone in the quilted, silent plush y; glow of mahogany in the parlor to give me a tip, but only imky received me in my pointed skating cap and with my runny ijpt just decent by an occasional touch of my wool glove. Once in fifd strike on a wake where there was a jar of bootleg redeye I around, in one of those offside green bungalows approached |ardwalk over the long marsh of the yard, a room of friends (Rimers. When you came into one of those whisky-smelling Bg rooms with your flowers, why, nobody was so absorbed that |e ignored, as in other sorts of grieving that I've seen, and you Ife to come out with a buck or so in change weighing down your )t anyway I preferred to be in the shop--in that Elysian Fields'

|Eiflowers piled around the loam boxes of the back room or II behind the thick panes of the icebox, the roses, carnations, and Bthemums. Especially as I was in love.

(gren was an imposing man too, fair, smooth, and big, with conlte healthy flesh--a friend of gangsters and rum-runners, very |N people like Jake the Barber and, in his time, the chief of the Eaders, Dion O'Bannion, who was a florist himself after a fashion? s knocked off in his own shop by three men said to have been f, Johnny Torrio and who got away in a blue Jewett sedan. Blueled gloves to protect himself from thorns when he whipped out |to treat it to the shears. He had blue, cold eyes, prepared for Id of findings, and a big fleshy nose, a little sick of things. I supi|e confusion will happen of having sharp thoughts and a broad J6 broad thoughts and a sharp face. Bluegren's was the first kind, I reckon, the connection he had with gangsters, and the effects of fear or temporariness. This was what made him that way. He could be rude and bitter, very shrewish sometimes, especially after an important murder of a Genna or Aiello. And a lot of guys were shot that winter.

It was a bad winter for everyone--not just for notables but for people oblivious of anything except their own ups and downs and busy with the limited traffic of their hearts and minds. Kreindl, say, or Eleanor Klein, or my mother. These days Kreindl had operatic nerves and made hitching scenes in his English-basement flat; he threw dishes on the floor and stamped his feet. And Eleanor was in a slump of spirits and often wept in her room over the general drift of her life, There was plenty of such impulse, enough to reach and move all, just in the tone of days. I might have felt this more myself if it hadn't been for Hilda Novinson.

Mama also was very nervous; it was something you had to know how to detect since she didn't give any of the usual signs. I noticed it from the grimness that showed through her docility, and the longer rest of her weak green eyes on things around her, and sometimes the highbreasted breathing that didn't arise from any exertion at her work.

She had a dizzy watchfulness from the buzzing of some omen or other.

Presently we all knew what was up; the old woman was ready to deliver her stroke. She waited for an evening when we were all at supper.

I came in from delivering death-flowers; Simon was off from the station. The old woman hit out in her abrupt way and declared it was time we did something about Georgie, who was growing up. There was beef stew on the table, and everybody, the kid included, continued to eat meat and wipe up gravy. But I never assumed, like the old woman, that he was an unwitting topic; not even the poodle was entirely that but knew even when she became deaf before her death that she was spoken of. And sometimes Georgie had the Gioconda's own look and smile when he was being discussed, I declare he did, a subtle look that passed down his white lashes and cheeks, a sort of reflex from wisdom kept prisoner by incapacity, something full of comment on the life of all of us. This wasn't the first time Grandma had spoken of Georgie's future, but now it was not just another observation but getting down to cases. I assume Mama already knew about it, from the look of waiting that came on her face. Sooner or later something had to be done about him, said the old woman. He was hard to manage, now he was growing so tall and beginning to look like a man. What would we do if he got it in his head to take hold of some girl, she said, and we had to deal with the police? This was her rebuke in full for ilty, disobedience, waywardness, and unmindfulness of tdition, and I was the main cause of it, as I realized very __J Georgie should go to an institution. It was common sense at he couldn't stay with us all his life, and we hadn't shown y to carry burdens so far. Besides, Georgie had to learn to ng and be trained in basketry or brush-making or what it uld teach, the feeble-minded, some trade that would help >. She finished strong, with the threat that neighbors with ers already were angry, seeing him roam around the yards, i on long pants. Not making her distaste any too fine, she I reached his development of a man. As something lewd that er, to be faced. She got this across, in her granny grimace ice, and left us with her horror. is great for her to make us take a long swig of her mixture id to watch the effect come up sober in our eyes. Finishing, she had a terrific look of shrewd pleasure. Her brows were p. I maintain that Georgie had an idea of the topic, while Jib R and wiped up the beef gravy. I don't want to make out Iposition was all wicked evil while his was nothing but sublimity.

IHto't be true. She had a difficult practical burden, that of sug- (his shocking thing by which supposedly we would benefit. We Ifchave had the strength or wisdom to propose it. Like so many bamane people who, however, have to live, just like everyone 9 count on tougher souls to carry them along. But I am allows Udma her best excuse. Because there still remains the satisfact^ve her. She breathed that tense "Aha!" to herself with which (fed a trap in chess. It was always this same thing; we refused Iftere our mistakes were leading, and then the terrible conse Kcame on. Similar to Elisha's bear that rushed on the children K taunting him; or the divine blow that cracked down that Itotightless as to put out a hand to keep the ark of the covenant (Bag off the wagon. It was punishment for mistakes there would We, now to correct, that was what it was. She was happy when P tet in behalf of this inexorability she was all the time warning t|e sat there with one foot stepping on the other and ate the t'fliat unconscious, mind-crippled seraph's way of his by con- Qtis worldly reasoning. Mama in her hurt, high voice tried to Iwt only spoke confusion. She was anyway incapable of saying At was clear, and when she was excited or in pain you couldn't Md her at all. Then Georgie stopped eating and began to moan.

"You! Quiet!" said the old woman.

I spoke up on his side and Mama's. I said that George hadn't done wrong yet and that we wanted to keep him with us.

She had counted on this from me and was prepared. "Kopfmensch meiner," she said with powerful irony. "Genius! Do you want to wait until he gets in trouble? Are you here to take care of him when you're needed? You're in the streets and alleys with Klein, that hoodlum, learning to steal and every kind of dirt. Maybe you'd enjoy being an uncle to a bastard by your brother from a Polish girl with white hair, and explain to her stockyards father that he would be a fine son-in-law to him? He'd murder you with a sledgehammer, like an ox, and bum down the house."

"Well," Simon said, "if Augie really wants to take charge of him--"

"Even if Augie were better than he is," she answered quickly, "what would be the good of it? When Augie works once in a while, there's more trouble than money. But if he didn't work at all, imagine how fine it would be! He'd leave the boy at the Kleins' anyhow, and bum with his friend. Oh, I know your brother, my dear boy; he has a big heart if it costs him no trouble, pure gold, and he can promise you anything when his heart is touched. But how reliable he is I don't have to tell you. But even if he were as good as his word, could you afford for him to stop bringing in the little he makes? What? Did you inherit a fortune? Can you have servants, gouvernantkes, tutors, such as Lausch laid down his life to give our sons? I have done as much as I could to give you a little education and an honest upbringing, even tried to make gentlemen of you. But you must know who you are, what you are, and not get unreal ideas. So I tell you that you better do for yourself, first, what the world will do anyway for you without kindness. I've seen a little more than you; I know how mistakes are corrected, and how many ways there are to die just from foolishness alone, not to say other things. I tried to explain something about this to your brother, but his thoughts are about as steady as the way a drunkard pees."

Thus she went on with this ominous crying and prophecy. She didn't have to win Simon over; in this one matter of Georgie he was with her. He wasn't openly going to join her because of his feeling for Mama, but when we were alone in the bedroom he let me make all my accusations and arguments, waiting me out with a superior face, taking it easy full-length on the sheets--sewed together of Ceresota sacks--and when he thought I was ready to hear him he said, "Tell it to the Marines, kid. Whyn't you use your brains once in a while before they turn to powder and blow away? The old woman is right and you know it. And i Uunk you're the only one. that cares about George either, but J^ng has got to be done with him. How do you know what he Ipick up and do? He's not just a sprout any more, and we can't Idling him all his life."

(on had been rough on me since I had lost the job at the station luring my trials with Wigler and Sailor Bulba and my crookedtt Deever's. Nor did he think much of Clem and Jimmy, and I lade the mistake of telling him how I felt about Hilda and laid feopen to ridicule. "Why," he said, "Friedl Coblin'll be better jig than that when she grows up. She'll probably have tits any|0f course Simon knew I wasn't a real grudge-bearing character B type that comes down as fast as he boils up. And he considered 6 had the right to treat me like this, because he was making ss while I was making a fool of myself, and be intended to carry ittg with him, when it was time, the way Napoleon did his brothuring my worst difficulties with the old lady he'd be stiff and tdistance, but then he'd also tell me that I could expect him to ie out of real trouble as long as I was reasonably deserving. He liike to see my bubble-headed friends get me in dutch. Yes, he Eof duty toward me, and toward George too. I couldn't say ig hypocritical about George. are as hell there for a while when you just let Mama talk Sdn't say anything," I told him. "You know damn well I can't fch about the kid unless I quit school and take care of him. But ffla wants him home you should leave that up to her. And you Ih't have sat there and let her make a holy show of herself." '

|k might as well get it all at once as in installments." Simon lay i dark iron bedstead, brawny and blond. He spoke out strongly. 'the paused and took a calm touch of his broken tooth with his |. He seemed to have expected that I would light into him harder I did, and when I had said my sharpest words he went on to let sbt what I pretty well knew without being told. "She got you dead Site, Augie. You know you've been pretty damn sloppy. But any- The wouldn't have had the kid with us more than another year.

It you were in there pitching, which you're not."

SB, she thinks she's boss now." ft her think," he said. He cleared the passages of his head with Bid, short pull that had got to be the mark of his soberest moments Ipped the light switch with his foot. He began to read.

|here wasn't much I could do after that. I couldn't any longer Hrledge Grandma to be the head of the family, and it was to t 53 Simon that some of the old authority became attached. I stayed in the room with him rather than go out and face Mama, who, when the dishes were done and the crumbs shaken off the cloth, would be more lying than sitting in her chair with the Prussian-spiked bulb emitting its glossy villain light through the head on the squashlike wens and bubbles and hard-grained paint of the walls. When she had a grief she didn't play it with any arts; she took straight off from her spirit. She made no fuss or noise nor was seen weeping, but in an extreme and terrible way seemed to be watching out the kitchen window, until you came close and saw the tear-strengthened color of her green eyes and of her pink face, her gap-toothed mouth; she laid her head on the wing of the chair sideways, never direct. When sick she was that way also.

She climbed into bed in her gown, twisted her hair into braids to keep it from tangling, and had nothing to do with anyone until she felt able to stay on her feet. It was useless for us to come with the thermometer, for she refused to have it; she lay herself dumbly on the outcome of forces, without any work of mind, of which she was incapable. She had some original view on doom or recovery.

Well, it was now decided about George, and, not reproaching anyone, she did her work while Grandma Lausch made speed to carry out her project. The old lady went down to the drugstore herself to phone Lubin, the caseworker. That in itself was significant, because she scarcely ever set foot in the street when snow had fallen after that icy Armistice Day when she had twisted her ankle.'Old people often suffered out their days with broken bones that couldn't mend, she observed. Besides, even if it were only for a block, she couldn't go in a housedress. It wasn't right. She had to get herself up and change from worsted stockings--actually golf hose held with snarled elastics--to silk, to black dress, put up her triple-circle coif and, looking mean, powder her face. Not caring how ungentle she looked to, us, she mounted her air-sweeping feathers with hat pins and, got up in the condition of ceremony, she went out with an aged quickness of anger, but as she walked down she still had to set both feet on each tread of the stairs.

It was an election day, and crossed flags were hung over the polling places, burly party men were in the snow, breathing steam and flapping long sample ballots. School was closed, and I was available to accompany her, but she wouldn't have me. And half an hour later when I went out with the ash drawer of the stove I saw her on one knee in the snowy passageway. Fallen. It was hurtful to see her. She never before had gone out without protection. I flung away the tin drawer and ran id she fastened on my thin-shirted arm with the snow-wet see on her feet, though, she. wanted no support from me, use of a big, swollen consciousness of sacrifice or maybe tious thought of retribution. She got up the stairs alone and taight through the house to her room, where she further aecedent by locking the door. Till then I had never even ere was a key; she must have kept it hidden from the earliest I her jewels and family papers. Mama and I stood outside, I, and asked if she was hurt, until we got the answer of firm away and let her alone, and I was enough shaken up by ya her snow-spitten face to tremble now at the cat-intensity Ece. And there was a change in the main established order: if less to be thought of locked than the door of a church, and ccssible, should have a key, and that that key should be used! icance of this election-day fall was all the deeper since usually if and kitchen burns were treated with great seriousness and jaess, with downright melancholy and the haunting of the treat. After applying the iodine or oil and bandages she would (arette for her nerves. But the Murads were in her sewing Die kitchen and she didn't come out of her room. bae passed, and it was well on in the afternoon before she (She was wearing a thick bandage on her leg. She came along fths of the house, the parrot colors of the rug worn down to liime skirting the parlor stove and entering the short hall |pn the kitchen, where the trail changed to brown in the It-good part of this the work of her own feet and flint-colored |ng steadily along this fox run for the better part of ten j-Wore her everyday clothes and shawl again, so that every|tp be presumed back to normal or almost so; whereas it |ly nerve-silent, and her face, attempting to be steady and |blenched as if she really had lost blood, or else her long|e composure at the sight of blood. She had to have been |yed and scared to lock her door, but apparently she had It she had to come back and, moony-pale as she was, turn ence. But there was something missing. Even the frazzled, latch whose white wool had gone brown around her eyes, if walk with clickety claws, as if she sensed that new days % out the last of an old regime, the time when counselors gcs see the finish of their glory, and Switzers and Praetorian gutless. ibm to spend full time with Georgie, in the last month, pull- t\ 55 ing him around on the sled, walking him in the park, and taking him to the Garfield Park conservatory to see the lemons bloom. The administrative wheels were already going; eleventh-hour efforts did no good. Lubin, who had always said that Georgie would be better off in an institution, brought the commitment papers, and Mama, without Simon's support against the old lady (and probably even that would not have stopped her, since Grandma was in a decisive action and was carried along with the impulse of a doom), had to sign. No, Grandma Lausch couldn't have been withstood, I'm convinced. Not now, not in this. Everything considered, it was, no matter how sad, wiser to commit the kid. As Simon said, we would later have had to do it ourselves. But the old lady made of it something it didn't necessarily have to be, a test of strength, tactless, a piece of sultanism; it originated in things we little understood: disappointment, angry giddiness from self-imposed, prideful struggle, weak nearness to death that impaired her judgment, maybe a sharp utterance of stubborn animal spirit, or bubble from human enterprise, sinking and discharging blindly from a depth.

Do I know? But sending Georgie away could have been done differently.

At last notice arrived that there was place for him in the Home. I had to go and buy him a valise at the Army-Navy store--a tan, bulldog gladstone, the best I could get. The thing would be his for life, and I wanted it to be right. I taught him how to work the clasps and the key. Where he was going there would always be people of course to help him, but my idea was that he should be master of a little of his own, when he went from place to place. We also bought him a hat in the drygoods store.

It was sunless but snow-melting weather at the late start of spring, and the trees and roofs dripped. In that grown man's hat and the coat he didn't wear intelligently--not appearing to feel the need to settle it right on his shoulders--he looked grown up and like a traveler. In fact, beautiful, and the picture of a far traveler, with his pale, mind-crippled, impotent handsomeness. It was enough to make you break down and cry, to see him. But nobody did cry; neither of us, I mean, for by then there were only my mother and I--Simon had given him a kiss on the head when leaving in the morning and said, "Good-by, old socks, I'll; come and see you." As for Grandma Lausch, she stayed in her room.: Mama said, "Go and tell Gramma we're ready to go."; "It's Augie," I said at Grandma's door. "Everything is set."

[, "Well? Go, then." This she said in her onetime deci Idtpatient way, but without the brightness or what you might tea ring of real command. The door was locked, and I suppose |nng on the featherbed in her apron, shawl, and pointing slip It the bric-a-brac of her Odessa existence on her vanity table, pp, and on the walls. jk Mama wants you to say good-by." t is there to say good-by? I'll come and visit him later on." idn't have the strength to go and look at the results she had ^hard to get and then still keep on trying to hold power in her |Bd how was i supposed to interpret this refusal if not as feebleta cracking of organization?

I showed at last the trembling anger of weak people that it Bch to bring on. She seemed determined that Georgie should teatment of a child from the old woman. But in a few minutes H-ned alone from the bedroom and said with harshness not tfor me, "Pick up the satchel, Augie." I took hold of Georgie's Ingh the wide sleeve and we left by the door of the front room, Vinnie was snoozing under the ferns. Georgie softly chewed 'ses of his mouth as we went. It was a slow trip on the cars; we ithree times, and the last stretch on the West Side took us by Hoson's shop. te about an hour getting to the Home--wired windows, dogclone fence, asphalt yard, great gloom. In the tiny below-stairs itooody-looking matron took the papers and signed him into it. We were allowed to go up to the dormitory with him, where fe stood around under the radiator high on the wall and watched m took off George's coat and the manly hat, and in his shirt of ittons, with whitish head and big white, chill fingers--it was I that they were so man-sized--he kept by me beside the bed igain showed him the simple little stunt of the satchel lock. But |& distract him from the terror of the place and of boys like around--he had never met such before. And now he realized would leave him and he began to do with his soul, that is, to Is moan, worse for us than tears, though many grades below 8 of weeping. Then Mama slumped down and gave in utterly. hen she had the bristles of his special head between her hands H'tissing him that she began to cry. When I started after a |(faaw her away he tried to follow. I cried also. I took him (Be bed and said, "Sit here." So he sat and moaned. We went ^C .57 down to the car stop and stood waiting by the black, humming pole for the trolley to come back from city limits.

After that we had a diminished family life, as though it were care of Georgie that had been the main basis of household union and now everything was disturbed. We looked in different directions, and the old woman had outsmarted herself. Well, we were a disappointment to her too. Maybe she had started out by dreaming she might have a prodigy in one of us to manage to fame. Perhaps. The force that directs these things in us higher beings and brings together lovers to bear the genius that will lead the world a step or two of the slow march toward its perfection, or find the note that will reach the ear of the banded multitude and encourage it to take that step, had come across with a Georgie instead, and with us. We were far from having the stuff in us that she must have wanted. Our parentage needn't have mattered so much, and it wasn't just a question of high or even legal birth. Fouche got as far as Talleyrand. What counted was natural endowment, and on that score she formed the opinion bitterly that we were not born with talents. Nonetheless we could be trained to be decent and gentlemanly, to wear white collars and have clean nails, brushed teeth, table manners, be brought up to fairly good pattern no matter what office we worked in, store we clerked in, teller's cage we reliably counted in-- courteous in an elevator, prefatory in asking directions, courtly to ladies, grim and unanswering to streetwalkers, considerate in conveyances, and walking in the paths of a grayer, dimmer Castiglione.

Instead we were getting to be more common and rude, deepervoiced, hairy. In our underpants, mornings while getting dressed, we punched and grappled in play, banging to the springs, to the floor, knocking over chairs. Passing then into the hall to wash, there, often, we saw the old woman's small figure and her eyes whitely contemptuous, with a terrible little naked yawn of her gums, suck-cheeked with unspoken comment. But power-robbed. Done for. Simon would say sometimes, "Wha'che know, Gram?"--even, occasionally, "Mrs.

Lausch." I never repudiated her that much or tried to strike the old influence, such as it had become, out of her hands. Presently Simon too took a less disrespectful tone. By now, however, it didn't matter much. She had seen what we were and what we were capable of.

The house was changed also for us; dinkier, darker, smaller; once shiny and venerated things losing their attraction and richness and importance. Tin showed, cracks, black spots where enamel was hit ; r, design scuffed out of the center of the rug, all the er, massiveness, florescence, wiped out. The old-paste 5 in her last days apparently wasn't noticed by the housesa; it was by us, coming in fresh from outdoors.

I in May of that year, and.1 laid her in a shoe box and hb the yard. down to the car stop and stood waiting by the black, humming pole for the trolley to come back from city limits.

After that we had a diminished family life, as though it were care of Georgie that had been the main basis of household union and now everything was disturbed. We looked in different directions, and the old woman had outsmarted herself. Well, we were a disappointment to her too. Maybe she had started out by dreaming she might have a prodigy in one of us to manage to fame. Perhaps. The force that directs these things in us higher beings and brings together lovers to bear the genius that will lead the world a step or two of the slow march toward its perfection, or find the note that will reach the ear of the banded multitude and encourage it to take that step, had come across with a Georgie instead, and with us. We were far from having the stuff in us that she must have wanted. Our parentage needn't have mattered so much, and it wasn't just a question of high or even legal birth. Fouche got as far as Talleyrand. What counted was natural endowment, and on that score she formed the opinion bitterly that we were not born with talents. Nonetheless we could be trained to be decent and gentlemanly, to wear white collars and have clean nails, brushed teeth, table manners, be brought up to fairly good pattern no matter what office we worked in, store we clerked in, teller's cage we reliably counted in-- courteous in an elevator, prefatory in asking directions, courtly to ladies, grim and unanswering to streetwalkers, considerate in conveyances, and walking in the paths of a grayer, dimmer Castiglione.

Instead we were getting to be more common and rude, deepervoiced, hairy. In our underpants, mornings while getting dressed, we punched and grappled in play, banging to the springs, to the floor, knocking over chairs. Passing then into the hall to wash, there, often, we saw the old woman's small figure and her eyes whitely contemptuous, with a terrible little naked yawn of her gums, suck-cheeked with unspoken comment. But power-robbed. Done for. Simon would say sometimes, "Wha'che know, Gram?"--even, occasionally, "Mrs.

Lausch." I never repudiated her that much or tried to strike the old influence, such as it had become, out of her hands. Presently Simon too took a less disrespectful tone. By now, however, it didn't matter much. She had seen what we were and what we were capable of.

The house was changed also for us; dinkier, darker, smaller; once shiny and venerated things losing their attraction and richness and importance. Tin showed, cracks, black spots where enamel was hit off threadbarer, design scuffed out of the center of the rug, all the lamour, lacquer, massiveness, florescence, wiped out. The old-paste odor of Winnie in her last days apparently wasn't noticed by the housedwelline women; it was by us, coming in fresh from outdoors.

Winnie died in May of that year, and I laid her in a shoe box and buried her in the yard. ikk, fcr e^.-:...-,, CHAPTER V William Einhom was the first superior man I knew. He had a brain and many enterprises, real directing power, philosophical capacity, and if I were methodical enough to take thought before an important and practical decision and also (N. B.) if I were really his disciple and not what I am, I'd ask myself, "What would Caesar suffer in this case?

What would Machiavelli advise or Ulysses do? What would Einhorn think?" I'm not kidding when I enter Einhom in this eminent list. It was him that I knew, and what I understand of them in him. Unless you want to say that we're at the dwarf end of all times and mere children whose only share in grandeur is like a boy's share in fairy-tale kings, beings of a different kind from times better and stronger than ours. But if we're comparing men and men, not men and children or men and demigods, which is just what would please Caesar among us teeming democrats, and if we don't have any special wish to abdicate into some different, lower form of existence out of shame for our defects before the golden faces of these and other old-time men, then I have the right to praise Einhorn and not care about smiles of derogation from those who think the race no longer has in any important decree the traits we honor in these fabulous names. But I don't want to be pushed into exaggeration by such opinion, which is the opinion of students who, at all ages, feel their boyishness when they confront the past.

1 went to work for Einhom while I was a high-school junior, not long before the great crash, during the Hoover administration, when Einhorn was still a wealthy man, though I don't believe he was ever so rich as he later claimed, and I stayed on with him after he had lost most of his property. Then, actually, was when I became essential to him, not just metaphorical right hand but virtually arms and legs. Einhorn v/as a cripple who didn't have the use of either, not even partial; only his hands still functioned, and they weren't strong enough to drive heel chair. He had to be rolled and drawn around the house by his a. fe brother, relations, or one of the people he usually had on call, ther employed by or connected with him. Whether they worked for him or were merely around his house or office, he had a talent for makio supernumeraries of them, and there were always plenty of people heroin0 to become rich, or more rich if already well-to-do, through the Einhorns. They were the most important realestate brokers in the district and owned and controlled much property, including the enormous forty-flat building where they lived. The poolroom in the corner store of it was ov/ned outright by them and called Einhorn's Billiards.

There were six other stores--hardware, fruit, a tin shop, a restaurant, barbershop, and a funeral parlor belonging to Kinsman, whose son it was that ran away with my cousin Howard Cobiin to join the Marines aoainst Sandino. The restaurant was the one in which Tambow, the Republican vote-getter, played cards. The Einhoms were his ex-wife's relatives; they, however, had never taken sides in the divorce. It wouldn't have become Einhorn Senior, the old Commissioner, who had had four wives himself, two getting alimony still, to be strict with somebody on that' account. The Commissioner had never held office, that was just people's fun. He was still an old galliard, with white Buffalo Bill vandyke, and he swanked around, still healthy of flesh, in white suits, looking things over with big sex-amused eyes. He had a lot of respect from everyone for his shrewdness, and when he opened his grand old mouth to say something about a chattel mortgage or the location of a lot, in his laconic, single-syllabled way, the whole hefty, serious crowd of businessmen in the office stopped their talk. He gave out considerable advice, and Coblin and Five Properties got him to invest some of their money. Kreindl, who did a job for him once in a while, thought he was as wise as a god. "The son is smart," he said, "but the Commissioner--that's really a man you have to give way to on earth." I disagreed then and do still, though when the Commissioner was up to something he stole the show. One of my responsibilities in summer was to go with him to the beach, where he swam daily until the second week in September. I was supposed to see that he didn't go out too far, and also I handed him lighted cigarettes while he floated near the pier in the pillow striping of his suit with large belly, large old man's sex, and yellow, bald knees; his white back-hair spread on the water, yellowish, like polar bear's pelt, his vigorous foreskull, tanned and red, turned up; while his big lips uttered and his nose drove out smoke, clever and pleasurable in the warm, heavy blue of Micliigan; while wood-bracketed trawlers, tarred on the sides, chuffed and va^ 61 pored outside the water reserved for the bawling, splashing, manyactioned, brilliant-colored crowd; waterside structures and towers, and skyscrapers beyond in a vast right angle to the evading bend of the shore.

Einhom was the Commissioner's son by his first wife. By the second or third he had another son who was called Shep or, by his poolroom friends. Dingbat, for John Dingbat O'Berta, the candy kid of city politics and friend of Polack Sam Zincowicz. Since he didn't either know or resemble O'Berta and wasn't connected with Thirteenth Ward politics or any other, I couldn't exactly say how he came by the name.

But without being a hoodlum himself he was taken up with gang events and crime, a kind of amateur of the lore and done up in the gangster taste so you might take him for somebody tied in with the dangerous Druccis or Big Hayes Hubacek: sharp financial hat, body-clasping suit, the shirt Andalusian style buttoned up to the collar and worn without a necktie, trick shoes, pointed and pimpy, polished like a tango dancer's; he clumped hard on the leather heels. Dingbat's hair was violent, brilliant, black, treated, ripple-marked. Bantam, thin-muscled, swift, almost frail, he had an absolutely unreasonable face. To be distinguished from brutal--it wasn't that, there was all kind of sentiment in it. But wild, down-twisting, squint-eyed, unchangeably firm and wrong in thoughts, with the prickles coming black through his unmethodical after-shave talcum: the puss of an executioner's subject, provided we understand the prototype not as a murderer (he attacked with his fists and had a killer's swing but not the real intention) but as somebody intractable. As far as that goes, he was beaten all the time and wore a mishealed scar where his cheek had been caught between his teeth by a ring, but he went on springing and boxing, rushing out from the poolroom on a fresh challenge to spin around on his tango shoes and throw his tense, weightless punches. The heatings didn't squelch him. I was by one Sunday when he picked a fight with that huge Five Properties and thrust him on the chest with his hands, failing to move him; Five Properties picked him up and threw him down on the floor. When Dingbat came back punching, Five Properties grinned but was frightened and shied back against the cue rack. Somebody in the crowd began to shout that Five Properties was yellow, and it was thought the right thing to hold Dingbat back, by the arms, struggling with a blinded, drawn face of rage, A pal of his said what a shame that a veteran of Chateau Thierry should be shoved around by a greenhorn.

Five Properties took it to heart and thereafter stayed away from the poolroom .62 Dingbat had had charge of the poolroom at one time, but he was nreliable and the Commissioner had replaced him with a manager. ^ow he was around as the owner's son--racked up balls, once in a 'hile chanced color like a coal when a green table felt was ripped--ind in the capacity of key-man and bravo, referee, bet-holder, sports expert and gang-war historian, on the watch for a small deal, a fighter to manage, or a game of rotation at ten cents a ball. Between times he was his father's chauffeur. The Commissioner couldn't drive the big red Blackhawk-Stutz he owned--the Einhoms never could see anything in a small car--and Dingbat took him to the beach when it was too hot to walk. After all, the old man was pushing seventy-five and couldn't be allowed to risk a stroke. I'd ride with him in the back seat while Dingbat sat with mauled, crazy neck and a short grip on the wheel, ukelele and bathing suit on the cushion beside him; he was particularly sex-goaded when he drove, shouting, whistling, and honking after quiff, to the entertainment of his father. Sometimes we had the company of Clem or Jimmy, or of Sylvester, the movie bankrupt, who was now flunking out of his engineer's course at Armour Tech and talking about moving away to New York altogether. On the beach Dingbat, athletically braced up with belt and wristbands, a bandanna to keep the sand out of his hair when he stood on his head, streaked down with suntan oil, was with a crowd of girls and other beach athletes, dancing and striking into his ukelele with: Ani-ka, hula wicki-wicki *i Sweet brown maiden said to me, i- And she taught me hula-hula "

On the beach at Waikiki...

Kindled enough, he made it suggestive, his black voice cracking, and his little roosterish flame licked up clear, queer, and crabbed. His old sire, gruff and mocking, deeply tickled, lay like the Buffalo Bill of the?

Etruscans in the beach chair and bath towel drawn up burnoose-wise4 to keep the dazzle from his eyes--additionally shaded by his soft, flesh-heavy arm--his bushy mouth open with laughter.

"Ee-rfyo?/" he said to his son.

If the party began after the main heat of the day William Einhom flight come down too, wheel chair brought on the baggage rack of the ^utz, and his wife carrying an umbrella to shade them both. He was taken pick-a-back by his brother, or by me, from the office into the car, tom the car to the right site on the lakeshore; all as distinguished, oh- ^rving, white, untouched and nobiliare as a margrave. Quickeyes.

Originally a big man, of the Commissioner's stature, well formed, well favored, he had more delicacy of spirit than the Commissioner, and of course Dingbat wasn't a patch on him. Einhom was very pale, a little flabby in the face; considerable curvature of the nose, small lips, and graying hair let grow thickly so that it touched on the ears; and continually watchful, his look going forward uninterruptedly to fasten on subject matters. His heavy, attractive wife sat by him with the parasol, languorous, partly in smiles, with her free, soft brown fist on her lap and strong hair bobbed with that declivity that you see in pictures of the Egyptian coif, the flat base forming a black brush about the back of -the neck. Entertained by the summer breeziness and the little boats on the waves and the cavorting and minstrelsy.

If you want to know what she thought, it was that back home was locked. There were two pounds of hotdogs on the shelf of the gas range, two pounds of cold potatoes for salad, mustard, a rye bread already sliced. If she ran out, she could send me for more. Mrs. Einhom liked to feel that things were ready. The old man would want tea. He needed to be pleased, and she was willing, asking only in return that he stop spitting on the floor, and that not of him directly, being too shy, but through her husband, to him it was merely a joking matter. The rest of us would have Coca-Cola, Einhorn's favorite drink. One of my daily chores was to fetch him Cokes, in bottles from the poolroom or glasses from the drugstore, depending on which he judged to have the better mixture that day.

My brother Simon, seeing me carry a glass on a tray through the gathering on the sidewalk--there was always an overflow of businessmen in front of Einhorn's, mixing with the mourners from Kinsman's chapel and the poolroom characters--gave a big laugh of surprise and said, "So this is your job! You're the butler."

But it was only one function of hundreds, some even more menial, more personal, others calling for cleverness and training--secretary, deputy, agent, companion. He was a man who needed someone beside him continually; the things that had to be done for him made him autocratic. At Versailles or in Paris the Sun King had one nobleman to hand him his stockings, another his shirt, in his morning levee. Einhom had to be lifted up in bed and dressed. Now and then it was I who had to do it. The room was dark and unfresh, for he and his wife slept with the windows shut. So it was sleep rank from nights of both bodies. I see I had no sense of criticism about such things; I got used to it quickly.

Einhom slept in his underwear because changing to pajamas was a task, and he and his wife kept late hours. Thus, the light switched on, there was Einhorn in his BVDs, wasted arms freckled, grizzled hair afly from his face that was inclined to flatness, the shrewd curved nose and clipped mustache. If peevish, and sometimes he was, my cue was to be nuiet until he got back his spirits. It was against policy to be out of temper in the morning. He preferred to be jocular. Birdy, teasing, often corny or lewd, he guyed his wife about the noise and bother she made petting breakfast. In dressing him, my experience with George came in handy, but there was more style about Einhom than I was used to. His socks were of grand silk, trousers with a banker's stripe; he had several pairs of shoes, fine Walkovers that of course never wrinkled below the instep, much less wore out, a belt with a gothic monogram. Dressed to the waist, he was lifted into his black leather chair and pulled on quaky wheels to the bathroom. At times the first settling in the chair drew a frown from him, sometimes a more oblique look of empoisoned acceptance; but mostly it was a stoical operation. I eased him down and took him, traveling backwards, to the toilet, a sunny room with an east window to the yard. The Commissioner and Einhorn, both rather careless in their habits, made this a difficult place to keep clean. But for people of some nobility allowances have always been made in this regard.

I understand that British aristocrats are still legally entitled to piss, if they should care to, on the hind wheels of carriages. ':'; There wasn't anything Mrs. Einhom could do about the wet floor.

Once in a while when Bavatsky the handyman was gone too long in Polack Town or drunk in the cellar, she asked me to clean up. She said she didn't like to impose on me because I was a student. Nevertheless I was getting paid. For unspecified work of a mixed character. I accepted it as such; the mixed character of it was one of the things I liked.

I was just as varietistic and unfit for discipline and regularity as my friend Clem Tambow; only I differed from Clem in being a beaver, once my heart was attached to a work or a cause. Naturally, when Einhorn found this out, and he quickly did, he kept me going steadily; it suited him perfectly because of the great number of things he had to be done.

Should he run out, my standing by made him invent more. So I didn't often get the toilet detail; he had too many important tasks for me.

And when I did get it, why, what I had had under Grandma Lausch made an inconsiderable thing of it to be porter for an hour.

But now in the toilet with Einhom: he kept me by him to read the rooming headlines from the Examiner, the financial news, closing quotations from Wall Street and La Salle Street. Local news next, some- wing about Big Bill Thompson, that he had hired the Cort Theatre, or "stance, and presented himself on the stage with two caged giant c 65 rats from the stockyards whom he addressed by the names of Republican renegades--I came to know what items Einhorn would want first.

"Yes, it's just as Thompson says. He's a big gasbag, but this time it's true. He rushed back from Honolulu to save what's-his-name from the penitentiary." He was long and well-nigh perfect of memory, a close and detailed reader of the news, and kept a file on matters of interest to him, for he was highly systematic, and one of my jobs was to keep his files in order in the long steel and wood cases he surrounded himself with, being masterful, often fussy for reasons hard to understand when I placed something before him, proposing to throw it away. The stuff had to be where he could lay his hands on it at once, his clippings and pieces of paper, in folders labeled Commerce, Invention, Major Local Transactions, Crime and Gang, Democrats, Republicans, Archaeology, Literature, League of Nations. Search me, why the League cf Nations, but he lived by Baconian ideas of what makes the man this and that, and had a weakness for complete information. Everything was going to be properly done, with Einhom, and was thoroughly organized on his desk and around it--Shakespeare, Bible, Plutarch, dictionary and thesaurus. Commercial Law for Laymen, realestate and insurance guides, almanacs and directories; then typewriter in black hood, dictaphone, telephones on bracket arms and a little screwdriver to hand for touching off the part of the telephone mechanism that registered the drop of the nickel--for even at his most prosperous Einhorn was not going to pay for every call he made; the company was raking in a fortune from the coinboxes used by the other businessmen who came to the office--wire trays labeled Incoming and Outgoing, molten Aetna weights, notary's seal on a chain, staplers, flap-moistening sponges, keys to money, confidential papers, notes, condoms, personal correspondence and poems and essays. When all this was arranged and in place, all proper, he could begin to operate, back of his polished barrier approached by two office gates, where he was one of the chiefs of life, a white-faced executive, much aware of himself and even of the freakish, willful shrewdness that sometimes spoiled his dignity and proud, plaque-like good looks.

He had his father to keep up with, whose business ideas were perhaps less imaginative but broader, based on his connections with his rich old-time cronies. The old Commissioner had made the Einhom money and still kept the greater part of the titles in his name, not because he didn't trust his son, but only for the reason that to the business community he was the Einhom, the one who was approached first with offers. William was the heir and was also to be trustee of the shares of his son Arthur, who was a sophomore at the University of Illinois, and nf Dingbat. Sometimes Einhorn was unhappy about the Commissioner's habit of making private loans, some of them sizable, from the bankroll he carried pinned inside the pocket of his Mark Twain s. uit.

More often he bragged about him as a pioneer builder on the Northwest Side and had dynastic ideas about the Einhoms--the organizer coming after the conqueror, the poet and philosopher succeeding the organizer, and the whole development typically American, the work of intelligence and strength in an open field, a world of possibilities. But really, with all respect for the Commissioner, Einhorn, while still fresh and palmy, had his fathers overriding powers plus something else, statesmanship, fineness of line, Parsee sense, deep-dug intrigue, the scorn of Pope Alexander VI for custom. One morning while I was reading from a column on the misconduct of an American heiress with an Italian prince at Cannes, he stopped me to quote, " 'Dear Kate, you and I cannot be confined within the weak list of a country's fashion. We are the makers of manners, Kate, and the liberty that follows our places stops the mouth of all find-faults....' That's Henry Fifth for you.

Meaning that there's one way for people at large and another for those that have something special to do. Which those at large have to have in front of them. It braces them up that there's a privilege they can't enjoy, as long as they know it's there. Besides, there's law, and then there's Nature. There's opinion, and then there's Nature. Somebody has to get outside of law and opinion and speak for Nature. It's even a public duty, so customs won't have us all by the windpipe." Einhorn had a teaching turn similar to Grandma Lausch's, both believing they could show what could be done with the world, where it gave or resisted, where you could be confident and run or where you could only feel your way and were forced to blunder. And with his son at the university I was the only student he had to hand.

He put on a judicious head, and things, no matter how they ran, had to be collared and brought to a standstill when he was ready to give out. He raised his unusable arms to the desk by a neat trick that went through several stages, tugging the sleeve of the right with the fingers of the left, helping on the left with the right. There wasn't any appeal to feelings as he accomplished this; it was only an operation. But it had immense importance. As a robust, full-blooded man might mount up to a pulpit and then confess his weakness before God, Einhorn, with his feebleness demonstrated for a preliminary, got himself situated to speak of strength, with strength. It was plenty queer to hear him on this note, especially in view of the daily drift of life here.

But let's take it back to the toilet, where Einhom got himself ready in the morning. At one time he used to have the barber in to shave him. But this reminded him too much of the hospital, he said, where he had put in a total of two and one-half years. Besides he preferred to do things for himself as much as possible; he had to rely on too many people as it was. So now he used a safety razor stropped in a gadget a Czech inventor had personally sold him; he swore by it. To shave took better than half an hour, chin on the edge of the sink and hands in the water, working round his face. He fished out the washrag, muffled himself in it; I could hear him breathe through its papillae. He soaped, he rubbed and played, scraped, explored with fingers for patches of bristle, and I sat on the cover of the pot and read. The vapor woke up old smells, and there was something astringent in the shaving cream he used that cut into my breath. Then he pomaded his wet hair and slipped on a little cap made of an end of woman's hose. Dried and powdered, he had to be helped into his shirt, his tie put on, the knot inspected many times by his fingers and warped exactly into place with some nervousness about the top button. The jacket next, finished off with the dry noise of the whiskbroom. Fly re-examined, shoes wiped of water drops, we were all set and I got the nod to draw him into the kitchen for breakfast.

His appetite was sharp and he crowded his food. A stranger with a head on him, unaware that Einhom was paralyzed, would have guessed he was not a well man from seeing him suck a pierced egg, for it was something humanly foxy, paw-handled, hungry above average need.

Then he had this cap of a woman's stocking, like a trophy from another field of appetites, if you'll excuse a sporting reference, or martial one, on his head. He was conscious of this himself, for pretty much everything was thought of, and his mind in its way performed admirable work with many of the things he did; or did not care to stop himself from doing; or was not able to stop; or thought it only creaturely human nature to do; or enjoyed, indulged; was proud his disease had not killed his capacity for but rather left him with more capacity than many normal men. Much that's nameless to many people through disgust or shame he didn't mind naming to himself or to a full confidant (or pretty nearly so) like me, and caught, used, and worked all feelings freely.

There was plenty to be in on; he was a very busy man.

There was a short executive period, after coffee, when Einhom threw his weight around about household matters. Wrinkled, gloomy Tiny Bavatsky, string-muscled, was fetched up from the basement and told what he must do, warned to lay off the bottle till night. He went away, hitch-gaited, talking to himself in words of menace, to start his tasks. Mrs. Einhom was not really a good housekeeper even though she complained about the floor of the toilet and the old man's spitting. But Einhom was a thoughtful proprietor and saw to it that everything was kept humming, running, flushing, and constantly improved--rats killed, cement laid in the backyard, machines cleaned and oiled, porches retimbered, tenants sanitary, garbage cans covered, screens patched, flies sprayed. He was able to tell you how fast pests multiplied, how much puttv to buy for a piece of glazing, the right prices of nails or clothesline or fuses and many such things; as much as any ancient senator knew of husbandry before such concerns came to be thought wrong.

Then, when everything was under control, he had himself taken into his office on the specially constructed chair with cackly casters. I had to dust the desk and get him a Coke to drink with his second cigarette, and he was already on his mail when I got back with it. His mail was large--he had to have it so, and from many kinds of correspondents in all parts of the country.

Let it be hot--for I'm reporting on summers, during vacations, when I spent full time with him--and he was wearing his vest in the office.

The morning, this early, was often gentle prairie weather, long before the rugged grind--like the nai'vete you get to expect in the hardest and toughest-used when you've been with them long enough--I refer to business and heat of a Chicago summer afternoon. But it was breathing time. The Commissioner wasn't finished dressing yet; he went into the mild sun of the street in his slippers, his galluses hung down, and the smoke of his Claro passed up and back above his white hair, while his hand was sunk comfortable and deep below his waistband. And Einhorn, away back, the length of the office, slit open his letters, made notes for replies, dipped into his files or passed things on for me to check on--me, the often stumped aide, trying to get straight what he was up to in his numerous small swindles. In this respect there was hardly anything he didn't get into, like ordering things on approval he didn't intend to pay for--stamps, little tubes of lilac perfume, packages of linen sachet, Japanese paper roses that opened in water, and all the sort of items advertised in the back pages of the Sunday supplement.

He had me write for them in my hand and give fictitious names, and he threw away the dunning letters, of course, and said all of these people calculated losses into what they charged. He sent away for everything that was free: samples of food, soaps, medicine, the literature of all causes, reports of the Bureau of American Ethnology and publications 0! the Smithsonian Institution, the Bishop Museum in Hawaii, the Congressional Record, laws, pamphlets, prospectuses, college catalogues, quack hygiene books, advice on bust-development, on getting rid of pimples, on longevity and Coueism, pamphlets on Fletcherism, Yoga, spirit-rapping, anti-vivisection; he was on the mailing list of the Henry George Institute and the Rudolf Steiner Foundation in London, the local bar association, the American Legion. He had to be in touch with everything. And all this material he kept; the overflow went down to the basement. Bavatsky or I or Lollie Fewter, who came in three days a week to do the ironing, carried it below. Some of it, when it went out of print, he sold to bookstores or libraries, and some he remailed to his clients with the Einhorn stamp on it, for good will. He had much to do also with contests and entered every competition he got wind of, suggesting names for new products, slogans; he made up bright sayings and most embarrassing moments, most delightful dreams, omens he should have heeded, telepathic experiences, and jingles: When radio first appeared, I did rave, And all my pennies I did save, Even neglected to shave.

I'll take my dear Dynamic to the grave.

He won the Evening American's first prize of five dollars with this, and one of my jobs was to see that what was sent out to contests, anagrams on the names of presidents or on the capitals of states, or elephants composed of tiny numbers (making what sum?), that these entries were neat, mounted right, inside ruled borders, accompanied by the necessary coupons, boxtops, and labels. Furthermore, I had to do reference work for him in his study or at the library downtown, one of his projects being to put out an edition of Shakespeare indexed as the Gideon Bible was: Slack Business, Bad Weather, Difficult Customers, Stuck with Big Inventory of Last Year's Models, Woman, Marriage, Partners. One thousand and one catchpenny deals, no order too big, no sum too small.

And, all the time, talkative, clowning, classical, philosophical, homiletic, corny, passing around French poses and imitation turds from the dark Street novelty stores, pornographic Katzenjammers and Somebody's Stenog; teasing with young Lollie Fewter who was fresh up from the coal fields, that girl with her green eyes from which she didn't try to keep the hotness, and her freckled bust presented to the gathering of men she came among with her waxing rags and the soft shake of her gait. Yea, Einhom, careful of his perch, with dead legs, and yet denying in your teeth he was different from other men. He never minded talking about his paralysis; on the contrary, sometimes he would boast of it as thing he had overcome, in the manner of a successful businessman who tells you of the farm poverty of his boyhood. Nor did he overlook any chance to exploit it. To a mailing list he got together from houses that sold wheel chairs, braces, and appliances, he sent out a mimeographed paper called "The Shut-in." Two pages of notices and essays, sentimental bits cribbed from Elbert Hubbard's Scrapbook, tags from "Thanatopsis."

"Not like the slave scourged to his quarry" but like a noble, stoical Greek; or from Whittier: "Prince thou art, the grown up man/Only is Republican," and other such sources. "Build thee more stately mansions, 0 my soul!" The third page was reserved for readers' letters. This thing--I put it out on the mimeograph and stapled and carried it to the post office--gave me the creeps once in a while, uneasy flesh around the neck. But he spoke of it as a service to shut-ins. It was a help to him as well; it brought in considerable insurance business, for he signed himself, "William Einhom, a neighborhood broker," and various companies paid the costs. Like Grandma Lausch again, he knew how to use large institutions. He had an important bearing with their representatives--clabber-faced, with his intelligent bit of mustache and shrewd action of his dark eyes, chicken-winged arms at rest.

He wore sleeve garters--another piece of feminine apparel. He tried to maneuver various insurance companies into competitive bidding to increase his commissions.

Many repeated pressures with the same effect as one strong blow, that was his method, he said, and it was his special pride that he knew how to use the means contributed by the age to connive as ably as anyone else; when in a not so advanced time he'd have been mummyhandled in a hut or somebody might have had to help him be a beggar in front of a church, the next thing to a memento mori or, more awful, a reminder of what difficulties there were before you could even become dead. Whereas now--well, it was probably no accident that it '

'.'as the cripple Hephaestus who made ingenious machines; a normal man didn't have to hoist or jack himself over hindrances by means of cranks, chains, and metal parts. Then it was in the line of human advance that Einhom could do so much; especially since the whole race was so hepped-up about appliances, he was not a hell of a lot more dependent than others who couldn't make do without this or that commodity, engine, gizmo, sliding door, public service, and this being relieved of small toils made mind the chief center of trial. Find Einhom in a serious mood when his fatty, beaky, noble Bourbon face was thoughtful, and he'd give you the lowdown on the mechanical age, and n strength and frailty, and piece it out with little digressions on the history of cripples--the dumbness of the Spartans, the fact that Oedipus was lame, that gods were often maimed, that Moses had faltering speech and Dmitri the Sorcerer a withered arm, Caesar and Mahomet epilepsy. Lord Nelson a pinned sleeve--but especially on the machine age and the kind of advantage that had to be taken of it; with me like a man-at-arms receiving a lecture from the learned signor who felt like passing out discourse.

I was a listener by upbringing. And Einhorn with his graces, learning, oratory, and register of effects was not out to influence me practically.

He was not like Grandma, with her educational seventy-fives trained on us. He wanted to flow along, be admirable and eloquent.

Not fatherly. I wasn't ever to get it into my head that I was part of the family. There was small chance that I would, the way Arthur, the only son, figured in their references, and I was sent out when any big family deal began to throb around. To make absolutely sure I wouldn't get any such notions, Einhom would now and then ask me some question about my people, as if he hadn't informed himself through Coblin, Kreindl, Clem, and Jimmy. Pretty clever, he was, to place me this way.

If Grandma had ideas about a wealthy man who might take a fancy to us and make our fortune, Simon's and mine, Einhorn had the reverse.

I wasn't to think because we were intimately connected and because he liked me that I was going to get into the will. The things that had to be done for him were such that anybody who worked for him was necessarily intimate with him. It sometimes got my goat, he and Mrs. Einhorn made so sure I knew my place. But maybe they were right; the old woman had implanted the thought, though I never entertained it in earnest. However, there was such a thought, and it bulged somewhat into my indignation. Einhom and his wife were selfish. They weren't mean, I admitted in fairness, and generally I could be fair about it; merely selfish, like two people enjoying their lunch on the grass and not asking you to join them. If you weren't dying for a sandwich yourself it could even make a pleasant picture, smacking on the mustard, cutting cake, peeling eggs and cucumbers. Selfish, Einhorn was, nevertheless; his nose in constant action smelted, and smelled out everything, sometimes austerely, or again without manners, covert, half an eye out for observers but not to be deterred if there were any, either.

I don't think I would have considered myself even remotely as a legatee of the Commissioner if they hadn't, for one thing, underlined my remoteness from inheritance, and, for another, discussed inheritances all the time.

Well, they were steeped and soaked necessarily in insurance and nroperty, lawsuits and legal miscarriages, sour partnerships and welsh- ngs and contested wills. This was what you heard when the connoisseurs' club of weighty cronies met, who all showed by established marks --rings, cigars, quality of socks, newness of panamas--where they were situated; they were classified, too, in grades of luck and wisdom, darkness by birth or vexations, power over or subjection to wives, women, sons and daughters, grades of disfigurement; or by the roles they played in comedies, tragedies, sex farces; whether they screwed or were screwed, whether they themselves did the manipulating or were roughly handled, tugged, and bobbled by their fates; their frauds, their smart bankruptcies, the fires they had set; what were their prospects of life, how far death stood from them. Also their merits: which heavy character of fifty was a good boy, a donor, a friend, a compassionate man, a man of balls, a lucid percentage calculator, a fellow willing to make a loan of charity though he couldn't sign his name, a giver of scrolls to the synagogue, a protector of Polish relatives. It was known; Einhom had it all noted. And apparently everybody knew everything. There was a good circulation of frankness and a lot of respect going back and forth. Also a lot of despicable things. Be this as it might, the topic inside the railed space of benches or at the pinochle game in the side-office annex was mostly business--receiverships, amortizations, wills, and practically nothing else. As rigor is the theme of Labrador, breathing of the summits of the Andes, space to the Cornish miner who lies in a seam under the sea. And, on the walls, insurance posters of people in the despair of firetraps and the undermining of rats in the beams, housewives bringing down the pantry shelves in their fall. Which all goes' to show how you couldn't avoid the question of inheritance. Was the old Commissioner fond of me? While Mrs. Einhom was a kindly woman ordinarily, now and again she gave me a glance that suggested Sarah and the son of Hagar. Notwithstanding that there was nothing to worry about. Nothing. I wasn't of the blood, and the old man had dynastic ideas too. And I wasn't trying to worm my way into any legacy and get any part of what was coming to her elegant and cultivated son Arthur. Sure the Commissioner was fond of me, stroked my shoulder, gave me tips; and he thought of me no further.

But he and Einhom were an enigma to Tillie. Her pharaoh-bobbed hair grew out of a head mostly physically endowed; she couldn't ever |tell what they might take it into their minds to do. And especially her husband, he was so supple, fertile, and changeable. She worshipfully obeyed him and did his biddings and errands just as the rest of us did. "ed send her to City Hall with requests for information from the Recorder's Office of the License Bureau; he wrote notes, because she could never explain what he wanted, and she brought back the information written out by a clerk. To get her out of the way when he was up to something he sent her to visit her cousin on the South Side, an allday junket on the streetcars. To be sure she'd be good and gone; and what's more, she knew it.

But now suppose we're at lunchtime, in Einhom's specimen day.

Mrs. Einhom didn't like to bother in the kitchen and favored readymade or easy meals, delicatessen, canned salmon with onion and vinegar, or hamburger and fried potatoes. And these hamburgers weren't the flat lunch-wagon jobs, eked out with cornmeal, but big pieces of meat souped up with plenty of garlic and fried to blackness. Covered with horseradish and chili sauce, they didn't go down so hard. This was the food of the house, in the system of its normalcy like its odors and furnishings, and if you were the visiting albatross come to light, you'd eat the food you ne'er had eat and offer no gripe. The Commissioner, Einhorn, and Dingbat asked no questions about it but ate a great deal, with tea or Coca-Cola as usual. Then Einhorn took a white spoonful of Bisodol and a glass of Waukesha water for his gas. He made a joke of it, but he never forgot to take them and heeded all his processes with much seriousness, careful that his tongue was not too coated and his machinery smooth. Very grave, he. was sometimes, when he acted as his own physician. He liked to say that he was fatal to doctors, especially to those who had never given him much hope. "I buried two of them," he said. "Each one told me I'd be gone in a year, and before the year was out he croaked." It made him feel good to tell other doctors of this. Still, he was zealous about taking care of himself; and with this zeal he had a brat's self-mockery about the object of his cares, bottomless self-ribbing; he let his tongue droop over his lip, comic and stupid, and made dizzy crosses with his eyes. Nevertheless he was always thinking about his health and took his powders and iron and liver pills. You might almost say he followed assimilation with his thoughts; all through his body that death had already moved in on, to the Washington of his brain, to his sex and to his studying eyes. Ah, sure, he was stilt a going concern, very much so, but he had to take thought more than others did about himself, since if he went wrong he was a total loss, nowise justified, a dead account, a basket case, an encumbrance, zero. I knew this because he expressed everything, and though he wouldn't talk openly about the money he had in the bank or the property he owned, he was absolutely outspoken about vital things, and he'd open his mind to me, especially when we were together in his -tudv and busy with one of his projects that got more fanciful and muddled the more notions he had about being systematic, so that in the end there'd be a super-monstrous apparatus you couldn't set in motion either by push or crank.

"Auie, you know another man in my position might be out of life for food. There's a view of man anyhow that he's only a sack of craving guts; you find it in Hamlet, as much as you want of it. What a piece of work is a man, and the firmament frotted with gold--but the whole eescheft bores him. Look at me, I'm not even express and admirable in action. You could say a man like me ought to be expected to lie down and quit the picture. Instead, I'm running a big business today"-- that was not the pure truth; it was the Commissioner who was still the main wheel, but it wasn't uninteresting all the same--"while nobody would blame me for rotting in the back room under a blanket or for crabbing and blabbing my bitter heart out, with fresh and healthy people going around me, so as not to look. A kid like you, for instance, strong as a bronco and rosy as an apple. An Alcibiades beloved-of-man, by Jesus. I don't know what brain power you've got; you're too frisky yet, and even if you turn out to be smart you'll never be in the class of my son Arthur. You shouldn't be angry for hearing the truth, if you're lucky enough to find somebody to hear it from. Anyhow, you're not bad off, being an Alcibiades. That's already way and above your fellow creatures.

And don't think they didn't hate the original either. All but Socrates himself, ugly as an old dog, they tell us. Nor just because that the young fellow knocked the dongs of the holy figures off, either, before he shipped for Sicily. But to get back to the subject, it's one thing to be buried with all your pleasures, like Sardanapalus; it's another to be buried right plunk in front of them, where you can see them. Ain't it so? You need a genius to raise you above it..."

Quiet, quiet, quiet afternoon in the back-room study, with an oilcloth on the library table, busts on the wall, invisible cars snoring and trembling toward the park, the sun shining into the yard outside the window barred against house-breakers, billiard balls kissing and bound- trig on the felt and sponge rubber, and the undertaker's back door still and stiller, cats sitting on the paths in the Lutheran gardens over the alley that were swept and garnished and scarcely ever trod by the chintied Danish deaconesses who'd come out on the cradle-ribbed and always fresh-painted porches of their home.

Somewhat it stung me, the way in which he compared me with his son. But I didn't mind being Alcibiades, and let him be in the same "racket with Socrates in the bargain, since that was what he was driving at. We had title just as good as the chain-mail English kings had to Brutus. If you want to pick your own ideal creature in the mirror coastal air and sharp leaves of ancient perfections and be at home where a great mankind was at home, I've never seen any reason why not. Though unable to go along one hundred per cent with a man like the Reverend Beecher telling his congregation, "Ye are Gods, you are crystalline, your faces are radiant!" I'm not an optimist of that degree, from the actual faces, congregated or separate, that I've seen; always admitting that the true vision of things is a gift, particularly in times of special disfigurement and world-wide Babylonishness, when plug-ugly macadam and volcanic peperino look commoner than crystal--to eyes with an ordinary amount of grace, anyhow--and when it appears like a good sensible policy to settle for medium-grade quartz. I wonder where in the creation there would be much of a double-take at the cry "Homo sum!" But I was and have always been ready to venture as far as possible; even though I was never as much imposed on by Einhorn as he wanted me to be in his, big moments, with his banker's trousers and chancellor's cravat, and his unemployable squiggle feet on the barber-chairlike mount of his wheeled contraption made to his specifications.

And I never could decide whether he meant that he was a genius or had one, and I suppose he wanted there should be some doubt about the meaning. He wasn't the man to come out and declare that he wasn't a genius while there was the chance he might be one, a thing like that coming about nolens volens. To some, like his halfbrother Dingbat, he was one. Dingbat swore up and down, "Willie is a wizard. Give him two bits' worth of telephone slugs and he'll parlay it into big dough." His wife agreed too, without reservations, that Einhorn was a wizard. Anything he did--and that covers a lot of territory--was all right with her. There wasn't any higher authority, not even her cousin Karas, who ran the Holloway Enterprises and Management Co. and was a demon moneymaker himself. Karas, that bad, rank character, cinder-crawed, wise to all angles, dressed to kill, with a kitty-comered little smile and extortionist's eyes, she was in awe of him also, but he wasn't presumed to be in Einhom's class.

But Einhorn wasn't exactly buried in front of his pleasures. He carried on with one woman or another, and in particular he had a great need of girls like Lollie Fewter. His explanation was that he took after his father. The Commissioner, in a kindly, sleepy, warm-aired, fascinated way, petted and admired all women and put his hands wherever he liked. I imagine women weren't very angry when he saluted them in this style because he picked out whatever each of them herself prized _ost-_color, breasts, hair, hips, and all the little secrets and connivances with which she emphasized her own good things. You couldn't riehtly say it was a common letch he had; it was a sort of Solomonic reeard of an old chief or aged sea lion. With his spotty big old male hands, he felt up the married and the unmarried ones, and even the little girls for what they promised, and nobody ever was offended by it or by the names he invented, names like "the Tangerines," or "the Little Sled "

"Madame Yesteryear,"

"the Six-Foot Dove." The grand old gentleman. Satisfied and gratified. You could feel from the net pleasantness he carried what there had been between him and women now old or dead, whom he recognized, probably, and greeted in this nose or that bosom.

His sons didn't share this quality. Of course you don't expect younger men to have this kind of evening-Mississippi serenity, but there wasn't much disinterestedness or contemplation in either of them. There was; i: perhaps more of it in Dingbat than in his brother. There scarcely was 1 a time when Dingbat wasn't engaged to a nice girl. He scrubbed himself; and dressed himself to go to see her in a desperate, cracked rage of H earnest respect. Sometimes he would look ready to cry from devotion, and in his preparations he ran out of the perfumed bathroom, clean starched shirt open on his skinny hairiness, to remind me to fetch the corsage from Bluegren's. He could never do enough for these girls and never thought himself good enough for them. And the more he respected them the more he ran with tramps between times, whom he picked up at Guyon's Paradise and took to the Forest Preserves in the Stutz, or to a little Wilson Avenue hotel that Karas-Holloway owned.

But Friday evenings, at family dinner, there was often a fiancee, now a piano teacher, now a dress designer or bookkeeper, or simply a home girl, wearing an engagement ring and other presents; and Dingbat with a necktie, tense and daffy, homagefully calling her "Honey,"

"Isabel, hon,"

"Janice dear," in his hoarse, thin black voice.

Einhom, however, didn't have such sentiments at all, whatever sentiments he entertained on other scores. He took the joking liberties his father did, but his jokes didn't have the same ring; which isn't to say that they weren't funny but that he cast himself forward on them toward a goal--seduction. Whai the laugh was about was his disability; he was ^ter a fashion laughing about it, and he was not so secretly saying to women that if they'd look further they'd find to their surprise that there ^s the real thing, not disabled. He promised. So that when he worked his wicked, lustful charm, apparently so safe, like a worldly priest or elderly gentleman from v/hom it's safe to accept a little complimentary badinage or tickle, he was really singlemindediy and grimly fixed on the one thing, ultimately the thing, for which men and women came together. And he was the same with them all; not, of course, foreseeino any great success, but hoping all the same that one of them--beautiful, forward, intrigued with him, wishing to play a secret game, maybe a trifle perverse (he suggested), would see, would grasp, would crave, burn for him. He looked and hoped for this in every woman.

He wouldn't stay a cripple, Einhom; he couldn't hold his soul in it.

Sometimes it was dreadful, this; he'd lose everything he'd thought through uncountable times to reconcile himself to it, and be like the wolf in the pit in the zoo who keeps putting his muzzle to the corners of the walls, back and forth, in his exhibition jail. It didn't happen often; probably not oftener than ordinary people get a shove of the demon. But it happened. Touch him when he was off his feed, or had a cold and a little fever, or when there was a rift in the organization, or his position didn't feel so eminent and he wasn't getting the volume of homage and mail he needed--or when it was the turn of a feared truth to come up unseen through the multitude of elements out of which he composed his life, and then he'd say, "I used to think I'd either walk or swallow iodine, and I'd have massages and exercises, and drills when I'd concentrate on a single muscle and think I was building it up by my will, and it was all the bunk, Augie, the Coue theory, etcetera. For the birds. And It Can Be Done and the sort of stuff that bigshot Teddy Roosevelt wrote in his books. Nobody'11 ever know all the things I tried before I finally decided it was no go. I couldn't take it, and I took it. And I can't take it, yet I do take it. But how! You can get along twenty-nine days with your trouble, but there's always that thirtieth day when goddammit you can't, when you feel like the stinking fly in the first cold snap, when you look about and think you're the Old Man of the Sea locked around Sinbad's neck; and why should anybody carry an envious piece of human junk? If society had any sense they'd give me euthanasia or leave me the way the Eskimos do their old folks in an igloo with food for two days. Don't you look so miserable. Go on away. See if Tillie wants you for something."

But this was on the thirtieth day, or more seldom, because in general he enjoyed good health and looked on himself as a useful citizen and even an extraordinary one, and he bragged that there was hardly anything he couldn't bring off if he put his mind to it. And he certainly did some bang-up things. He'd clear us all out of the way to be alone with Lollie Fewter; he'd arrange for the whole lot of us to drive out to Niles Center and show the Commissioner a piece of property. Ostensibly get78 tine ready to occupy himself with a piece of work while we were away--the files and information were laid out for him--he was unhurried, engagine. and smooth-tempered in his tortoiseshells, answering every last question in full and even detaining the excursion to have some last words with his father about frontages or improvements. "Wait till I show you on the map just where the feeder-bus comes through. Bring the map, Augie." He'd have me fetch it and kept the Commissioner till he became impatient, with Dingbat grinding the klaxon and Mrs.

Einhorn already settled with bags of fruit in the back seat, calling, "Come, it's hot. I'm fainting here," And Lollie in the passage between the flat and the offices sauntered up and down with the dustmop in the polished dimness, big and soft, comfortable for the heat in a thin blouse and straw sandals, like an overgrown girl walking a doll and keeping a smile to herself about this maternal, matrimonial game, lazy and careless and, you could say, saving force for the game to follow.

Clem Tambow had tried to tell me what the score was but hadn't convinced me, not just because of the oddness of the idea, and that I had a boyish respect for Einhom, but also because I had made a start with Lollie myself. I found excuses to be with her in the kitchen while she was ironing. She told me of her family in the Franklin County coal fields, and then about the men there, and what they tried and did. She rolled me in feelings. From suggestion alone, I didn't have the strength to keep my feet. We soon were kissing and feeling; she now held off my hands and now led them inside her dress, alleging instruction, boisterous that I was still cherry, and at last, from kindness, she one day said that if I'd come back in the evening I could take her home. She left me so horny I was scarcely able to walk. I hid out in the poolroom, dreading that Einhom would send for me. But Clem came with a message from her that she had changed her mind. I was bitter about that but I reckon I felt freed, too, from a crisis. "Didn't I tell you?" said Clem, "You both work for the same boss, and she's his little nooky. His and a couple of other guys'. But not for you. You don't know anything and you don't have any money."

"Why, damn her soul!"

"Well, Einhorn would give her anything. He's nuts about her."

I couldn't conceive that. It wouldn't be like Einhorn to settle his important feelings on a tramp. But that exactly was what he had done.

He was mad for her. Einhorn knew, too, that he shared her with a few hoodlums from the poolroom. Of course he knew. It wasn't in his life to be without information; he had the stowage of an anthill for it, with Waving black lines of approvisioners creeping into the crest from every direction. They told him what would be the next turn in the Lingle case, or what the public-auction schedule would be, or about Appellate Court decisions before they were in print, or where there was hot goods, from furs to school supplies; so he had a line on Lollie from the beginning to the end.

Eleanor Klein asked me sentimental questions. Did I have a sweetheart yet? It was a thing I appeared ripe for. Our old neighbor, Kreindl, asked me too, but in a different way, on the q. t. He judged I was no longer a kid and he could reveal himself, his cockeyes -turning fierce and gay. "Schmeist du schon, Augie? You've got friends? Not my son.

He comes home from the store and reads the paper. S'interesiert ihm nisht. You're not too young, are you? I was younger than you and gefarlich. I couldn't get enough. Kotzie doesn't take after me." He much needed to pronounce himself the better, and in fact the only, man in his house; and he did look very sturdy when he massed up his teeth and creased his out-of-doors, rugged face to smile. He saw a lot of weather, for he went through the entire West Side on foot with his satchel of samples. Because he had to count every nickel. And he had the patience and hardness of steady pavement going, passing the same lead-whited windows of a factory twenty times a month and knowing to the last dent every empty lot between him and a destination. Arriving, he could hang around hours for a' six-bit commission or a piece of information. "Kotzie takes after my missis. He is kaltblutig." Sure I knew it was he himself that did all the trumpeting, screaming, and stamping down in his flat, throwing things on the floor.

"And how is your brother?" he said intriguingly. "I understand the little maidelech wet their pants for him. What is he doing?"

As a matter of fact I didn't know what Simon was up to these days.

He didn't tell me, nor did he seem curious as to what was happening to me, having decided in his mind that I was nothing but a handyman at Einhorn's.

Once I went with Dingbat to a party one of his fiancees was giving, and I met my brother with a Polish girl in a fur-trimmed orange dress; he wore a big, smooth, check suit and looked handsome and sufficient to himself. He didn't stay long, and I had a feeling that he didn't want to spend his evenings where I did. Or maybe it was the kind of evening Dingbat made of it that didn't please him, Dingbat's recitations and hoarse parodies, his turkey girding and obscene cackles that made the girls scream. There were several months when Dingbat and I were very thick. At parties I horsed around with him, goofy, his straight man; Or I hugged and pitched on the porches and in the backyards with girls, exactly as he did. He took me under his protection in the poolroom, and we did some friendly boxing, at which I was never much good, and played snooker--a little better--and hung about there with the hoods and loudmouths. So that Grandma Lausch would have thought that the very worst she had ever said about me let me off too light, seeing me in the shoeshine seat above the green tables, in a hat with diamond airholes cut in it and decorated with brass kiss-me pins and Al Smith buttons, in sneakers and Mohawk sweatshirt, there in the frying jazz and the buzz of baseball broadcasts, the click of markers, butt thumping of cues, spat-down pollyseed shells and blue chalk crushed underfoot and dust of hand-slickening talcum hanging in the air. Along with the blood-smelling swaggeroos, recruits for mobs, automobile thieves, stick-up men, sluggers and bouncers, punks with ambition to become torpedoes, neighborhood cowboys with Jack Holt sideburns down to the jawbone, collegiates, tinhorns and small-time racketeers and pugs, ex-servicemen, home-evading husbands, hackies, truckers and bushleague athletes. Whenever-someone had a notion to work out on me-- and there were plenty of touchy characters here to catch your eye in a misconstrued way--Dingbat flew around to protect me.

"This kid is a buddy of mine and he works for my bro. Monkey with him and you'll get something broke on your head. What's the matter, you tough or hungry!"

He was never anything but through and through earnest when the subject was loyalty or honor; his bony dukes were ready and his Cuban heels dug down sharply; his furrowed chin was already feeling toward its fighting position on the shoulder of his starched shirt, prepared to go into his stamping dance and start slugging.

But there weren't any fights over me. If there was one doctrine of Grandma Lausch's that went home, it was the one of the soft answer, though with her this was of tactical not merciful origin, the dust-off for heathen, stupes, and bruteheads. So I don't claim it was a trained spirit turning aside wrath, or integer vitae (how could I?) making the wolves respect me; but I didn't have any taste for the perpetual danger-sign, sye-narrowing, tricky Tybalt all coiled up to stab, for that code, and was without curiosity for what it was like to hit and so I refused all the bids to outface or be outfaced.

On this I had Einhom's views also, whose favorite example was his sitting in the driver's seat of the Stutz--as he sometimes did, having been moved over to watch tennis matches or sandlot games--and a coal heaver running up with a tire tool because he had honked once or twice 101 the Stutz to move and Dingbat wasn't there to move it. "What could.

I do," said Einhorn, "if he asked me no questions but started to swing or punch me in the face? With my hands on the wheel, he'd think I was the driver. I'd have to talk fast. Could I talk fast enough? What could make an impression on an animal like that? Would I pretend to faint or play dead? Oh my God! Even before I was sick, and I was a pretty husky young fellow, I'd do anything possible before I started to trade punches with any sonofabitch, muscle-minded ape or bad character looking for trouble. This city is one place where a person who goes out for a peaceful walk is liable to come home with a shiner or bloody nose, and he's almost as likely to get it from a cop's nightstick as from a couple of squareheads who haven't got the few dimes to chase pussy on the high rides in Riverview and so hang around the alley and plot to jump someone. Because you know it's not the city salary the cops live on now, not with all the syndicate money there is to pick up. There isn't a single bootleg alky truck that goes a mile without being convoyed by a squad car. So they don't care what they do. I've heard of them almost killing guys who didn't know enough English to answer their questions." And now, with eager shrewdness of nose and baggy eyes, he began to increase his range; sometimes, with that white hair bunched over his ears and his head lifted back, he looked grand, suffering more for than from something, relaxing his tense care of himself. "But there is some kind of advantage in the roughness of a place like Chicago, of not having any illusions either. Whereas in all the great capitals of the world there's some reason to think humanity is very different. All that ancient culture and those beautiful works of art right out in public, by Michelangelo and Christopher Wren, and those ceremonies, like trooping the color at the Horse Guards' parade or burying a great man in the Pantheon over in Paris. You see those marvelous things and you think that everything savage belongs to the past. So you think. And then you have another think, and you see that after they rescued women from the coal mines, or pulled down the Bastille and got rid of Star Chambers and lettres de cachet, ran out the Jesuits, increased education, and built hospitals and spread courtesy and politeness, they have five or six years of war and revolutions and kill off twenty million people.

And do they think there's less danger to life than here? That's a riot. Let them say rather that they blast better specimens, but not try to put it over that the only human beings who live by blood are away down on the Orinoco where they hunt heads, or out in Cicero. But the best specimens always have been maltreated or killed. I've seen a picture of Aristotle mounted and ridden like a horse by some nasty whore.

There was Pythagoras who got killed over a diagram; there was Seneca .82 yho ha3 to cut his wrists; there were the teachers and the saints who became martyrs.

"But I sometimes think," he said, "what if a guy came in here with a gun and saw me at this desk? If he said 'Stick 'em up!' do you think he'd wait until I explained to him that my arms were paralyzed? He'd let me have it. He'd think I was reaching in a drawer or pushing a signal button, and that would be the finish of Einhorn. Just have a look at the hold-up statistics and then tell me I'm dreaming up trouble. What I ought to do is have a sign put up above my head saying 'Cripple.' But I wouldn't like to be seeing that on the wall all the time. I just hope the Brink's Express and Pinkerton Protective labels all over the place will keep them away."

He often abandoned himself to ideas of death, and notwithstanding that he was advanced in so many ways, his Death was still the old one in shriveling mummy longjohns; the same Death that beautiful maidens failed to see in their mirrors because the mirrors were filled with their white breasts, with the blue light of old German rivers, with cities beyond the window checkered like their own floors. A cheating old rascal with bones showing in his buckskin fringes, not a gentle Sir Cedric greeting young boys from the branches of an apple tree. Einhorn had no kind familiar thoughts of him, but superstitions about this frightful snatcher, and he only played the Thanatopsis stoic but maneuvered to beat this other, who had already gained so much on him. Who maybe was the only real god he had.

Often I thought that in his heart Einhorn had completely surrendered to this fear. But when you believed you had tracked Einhom through his acts and doings and were about to capture him, you found yourself not in the center of a labyrinth but on a wide boulevard; and here he came from a new direction--a governor in a limousine, with state troopers around him, dominant and necessary, everybody's lover, whose death was only one element, and a remote one, of his privacy. y ^ -:.