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the street wiggled his ears to make the grave, spreading out her white arms Margaret look less solemn. with touching confidence for me to give her a lift.

The same evening we bought a goldfilled ring for a dollar, and a white rose for fifty cents, and two tenderloin steaks at Childs' for eighty cents. Then we had our photos taken, half a dozen for two dollars. I owned exactly a quarter when I crawled into my garret; and a certificate of marriagewith five signatures - flat on my chest like a cough plaster; and a childwife two flights below.

We found new friends in a young artist and his wife. Already our love world began to grow. Margaret posed for him. A stream of soft white chiffon drape broke on her one shoulder and hung limberly down her nymphean body, meeting at her feet and trailing behind, yet gliding along, rolling and falling from leap to leap, almost pursuing her as she fled down to a wood pond. With brushes, trowels, and paints the artist put her strength on canvas the girlishness of her spirit, her flow of hair, the health that glowed in her eye, the rhythm in her limbs from toes to fingertips, her firm flesh colors, enriched by her modesty. His wife brought her coffee when goose flesh spoiled the pose; for the studio was chilly.

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Nothing is true enough or ever can be. For every star has a million points of view, and so has every atom, and so has love. We reasoned together with our feelings, and, therefore, with primitive harmonies. My garret became her garret. We had faith in the tremors of our knees, and in our warm, unpolluted blood, and in the young curves of our bodies. Like God and pagan and modern youth, we knew of no sin.

Barefooted she came tiptoeing up the garret stairs, as if she rose through the air, appearing in the shadow of the trapdoor and under the straddling table like a beloved bride arisen from

The candle flame flickered in the green D.O.M. bottle, spilling drops of red wax along a frail lead strip that long ago sealed a priestly liqueur. In a homemade wooden frame two roses a red and a white-pressed their faces against the glass. Two blue, beady gas flames burned steadily above. From the flights below the steady breathing of sleeping men rose to my garret. A mouse thrummed its feet on the resonant floor, speeding by behind the queen-posts. My birds awoke - Margaret spoiled them and we fed them lump sugar, and sat ourselves down on cushions, our backs against warm chimneys.

At the front gable-outside the round window the purest of snow, untrampled, glittered on a city of roofs. A star passed by, peered into roofs. our garret, smiling, then vanished.

How we did talk during these garret trysts, though we wrote long, daily love letters not short notes to each other! These she treasures still, though I have begged her twenty times to burn them all. It was my third winter at the Cooper Union night school and my third year as electrician apprentice. I was earning nine dollars a week and could almost support a wife, immigrant fashion. But why should Margaret live immigrant fashion? She was American. Our garret was cozy almost as cozy as the home we bought ourselves a dozen years later.

She frightened 'the Prophet' once when she passed him in the upper hallway, he from his plunge, she from my garret. A ghost is haunting this house,' he told the baker, who replied by pathetic side nods, lifting a finger to his forehead, describing a zero. But one Sunday morning the jovial baker moved. He too had seen the ghost.

His bones rattled more than did 'the Prophet's,' Margaret told me later. 'Whiskey!' sneered the one-eyed bricklayer. The draftsman whistled, and so did the masseur.

Our secret leaked out. Margaret rushed me off to her aunt. But not until years later, when we returned from the West, college-bred, did the aunt quite forgive us our elopement. She had grown wealthy by then, and handed me a roll of brand-new hundreddollar notes to invest in a homethirty-nine in all.

Margaret rushed me off to old Uncle John, a rough but solid fellow. In his youth he had been cowpuncher, lumberjack, gold digger. And when the family gathered in solemn conclave to decide my doom he stuck by us. 'What's the matter with the fellow? Does he drink? Is he sick? Does n't he want to work? Did n't he marry Maggie?'


I went West alone-with my toolbag and with a painting wrapped in a silk kimono. A fortnight later— the longest in my life - she came. In Chicago I advanced from shop to office. At sixty dollars a month as electrical draftsman we lived and loved luxuriously. Our savings we mailed to Florida; though the returns netted us only a ten-acre swamp, which we never even took title to. That was my fault, however.


Her budget was marvelous:



12.00 12.00

Fuel I gathered on Artesian Avenue -tarred paving blocks that had been replaced by asphalt. Margaret trimmed my hair.

Chicago was a city of 'eats.' Every feed was a feast, and some were sumptuous revels. The pot roasts Margaret fed me! She always gave me tender, crackling fork nibblings - with pumpernickel, salt, oleomargarine, raw celery celery before potatoes and gravy were done. I gobbled the juicy roast and lapped the fork she held, and begged for more until she held out another nibbling and another, at arm's length - 'to watch the sheen' in my eyes, she said.

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Perch she fried for me on glowing coals at a swift stream in the outskirts, where we saved a drowning Negro, whose hold made my nose bleed beautifully. Five mud hens we caught, plucked, broiled, and ate one day in the swamps of Cicero. Fried sheep brain we ate at poor Cameille's my first Chicago friend, a former priest, but then a factory hand. Plates of prune soup we sponged on 'broke' days at Sophie's boarding house. Turkey we munched and wine we sipped on Christmas Day at old man Birn's- the foundry foreman. 'Wieners' and flyspecked rolls we swallowed - and with relish a camp meeting somewhere in the woods, one stifling summer Sabbath, while Margaret charmed a bishop.


Demi-tasse and pastry we tasted at the parsonage of a French Protestant church, where we went to find Cameille a job as tutor. He was the most learned man I have ever met, and such a helpless child son of a Polish count and a French countess, born in Paris at the Russian embassy under Alexander the Tsar. The day I went farther West he gave me a sacred book upon which he wrote, in Latin, 'We die whenever we lose a friend.' And he $60.00 gave me a vest-pocket flask in carved

Rent, four-room flat

Furniture, on time

The Everglades, on time


Correspondence school, on time






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brass. With both he had shriven many picnics on the shoulders of our parson

a dying immigrant.

Gallons of coffee we cooked during the winter, when young people gathered around our kitchen stove, everybody taking turns at chopping tarred paving blocks on a padded drafting board. Eight wedlocks — and lasting ones we promoted among mail carriers, milkmen, butchers' and grocers' clerks, draftsmen, and factory hands, and their respective sweethearts, that first winter.

A lake trip to Ludington stands out as the rarest of honeymoon trips. We were sent as delegates to a church convention there, with steamer fares paid, and board and room for four days free of charge. That week I ate literally barrels of Michigan peaches, which fruit farmers dumped in feeding troughs at the church. The fun we had, Margaret and I, diving for dimes in cold Lake Michigan, while a score of pastors, and a hundred delegates, cheered! And she a month with child!

On our return a storm blew up. At midnight a small gale tossed the steamer in the air like a basket ball. Delegates leaped out of their berths and gathered in the crowded lounging room, singing, 'Led by Jesus, we are traveling home!' A seasick pastor asked me how far we were from land. Quick as a flash Margaret responded: 'I know that joke. Fifty fathoms.' She was not even seasick in that gale, and after all those peaches. My own stomach was weak the first time in my life.

Yes, Chicago was a city of 'eats.' For three years every blessed working day I had starved.

She wanted a child, though she was a child herself, riding horseback at

and bartering scandalous secrets with his daughters. During the months that followed our honeymoon trip I marveled at her spirit.

I was her only nurse. Daily the pastor's wife, God bless her, dropped in to bathe the baby. It was a cold spring. I tucked the little fellow into a laundry basket next to the kitchen stove, and the night long kept a fire that singed the basket. Once I touched his hand to feel how warm it was. He clasped my finger. What a grip! And he would not let go. I feared to pry open his fist

I might break his fingers. I carried basket and all to Margaret, awaking her from her first mother slumber. She freed my finger and asked for her breakfast.

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Two weeks, and she was at the 'L' station to meet me! The boy was riding on her right hip. Thus she always carried him, holding on to him with one arm and swinging the other. People used to stop on the street to look, when she sped by, her small energetic feet stepping with a style entirely her own, and the baby rocking on her limber hip, his back to her. Such happy chums we were, the three of us!

He was nine months old and teething when he bit his mother's breast. How that human animal raged when we weaned him! We did not have sense enough to wean him gradually. He always grunted before mealtime. 'H-r-r-u-h! H-r-r-u-h!' he said. In vain we fed him zwieback and milk, potatoes and gravy, bread and sugar and water. 'H-r-r-u-h! H-r-r-u-h!' he said for hours, and looked at us as if we had betrayed him. Our growth had just begun. 'H-r-r-u-h! H-r-r-u-h!'

('Doomsday' will be the title of the February installment)



Ar a certain level of the airshaft two songs, issuing from opposite windows, met, mingled minor refrains, and rose together toward Negro Harlem's black sky; two futile prayers which spent themselves like mist ere they reached the roof. The one was a prayer for the love of man, the other a prayer for the love of God: 'blues,' and a spiritual.

The blues song would have drowned the spiritual had it not labored against a closed window. No such barrier stayed the spiritual. To be sure the singer was old, as her present posture emphasized: shoulders bent round, dim eyes and unsteady hands searching the pages of the Bible on her lap. But her voice was well sustained, and her song was none the less clear because it accompanied her endless thumbing of thin leaves.

Like her eyes and her fingers, her hymn sought comfort, sought while it almost despaired:—

'Bow low! - How low mus' I bow?
Bow low! How low mus' I bow?
Bow low! - How low mus' I bow
To enter in de promis' land?'

Presently, as if there came no answer, she interrupted her quest and her song, turned out the gas, and sat back in the darkness to observe the progress of the rent party across the shaft.

A rent party is a public dance given in a private apartment. If, after letting


out three of your five rooms to lodgers, your resources are still unequal to your rent, you make up the deficit by means of a rent party. You provide music, your friends provide advertisement, and your guests, by paying admission, provide what your resources lack.

Such a party Mammy now witnessed. Through the window opposite her own she commanded most of one room and a corner of another in the adjacent flat. The window was indeed a screen upon which flashed a motion picture oddly alive and colorful. Boys whose loose trousers were too long for their legs and girls whose tight skirts were too short for theirs hugged each other close, keeping time to the rhythm of hoarsely phonographed blues.

Bright enough dresses, certainly: scarlet and green and glowing purple, rendering dark complexions darker, lending life to pale ones; dresses that, having lost half their volume, put all their color into the rest. Bright enough faces, too: boys wagging their heads and grinning, girls gayly laughing at their jokes.

But such a dance! The camel walk. Everybody cameling.' Had God wanted man to move like a camel He'd have put a hump in his back. Yet was there any sign of what God wanted in that scene across the shaft? Skins that He had made black bleached brown, brown ones bleached cream-color; hair that He had made long and kinky bobbed short and ironed dead straight.

Young girls' arms about boys' shoulders, their own waists tightly clasped; bodies warmly fused, bending to the sensual waves of the 'camel.' Where was God in that?

Mammy watched as she had often watched before, with a dull wonder that such colossal wickedness should be allowed to prevail. The song that had mingled with hers now filtered through the closed window opposite and came alone to her ears, bringing no reassurance. For all that it plumbed the nadir of woe, was it not a song of sin?

'Lawdy, Lawdy, I can't help but cry an' moan. Lawdy, Lawdy, I can't help but cry an' moan. My man done gone and lef' me gone an' lef'

me all alone.'

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In the visible corner of the far room Mammy recognized Wesley's back. Wesley's shoulders, far less mobile than Sam's, were gradually turning as he faced about in the slow measure of the dance. In but a few seconds he would be looking at his cousin through the intervening doorway, would see Sam and Ellie's exaggerated movements, despite the people between. An old and mounting hostility between them would swiftly surge and flare -they would quarrel, perhaps they would fight. Mammy sat up, leaned tensely forward, whispered, 'Lawd, have mercy!'

Unlike her earlier prayer, this one was apparently heard, for at that moment the blues halted and the

dancing abruptly ceased. The change of partners, however, only momentarily relieved Mammy's qualms. Over her settled a deadly certainty that the clash had been merely postponed. There would be many more dances, one of which would rejoin Ellie and Sam as partners. The later that happened, the higher would everyone's spirits be, the wilder the dancing, and so the quicker and hotter Wesley's resentment. As the new dance began, Mammy grew rapidly surer of what she foresaw. Soon her helplessness and the increasing effort to suppress her excitement welled almost beyond bearing. Her misgiving urged her to do something to prevent this long-deferred crisis; but somehow she could only sit still and look on and pray that this time for once her foresight would prove wrong.

Her apprehension became black emptiness into which memories, rocketwise, soared and burst: rumor of opportunity in the cities of the North - certainty of ruin should rumor prove false; hope of young and old men departing, of women and children gone after them - despair of tranquil homes upheaved, of families ruthlessly scattered; the joy she herself had felt when these two grandsons had finally sent for her the sorrow of being the last to leave the lopsided old Virginia home.

They were equally dear to Mammy, these two boys, and, until they had come to New York, had been equally fond of each other. They had grown up together, attended the four-monthsa-year school together, played hooky, fished, hunted rabbits, and got baptized together; and finally, caught in the epidemic fever of migration that swept the dark-skinned South, they had left home together to find their fortunes in Harlem.

As life had thus brought some to

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