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Proof of the Pudding

Short Stories


A Bird of Bagdad

A Blackjack Bargainer

A Call Loan

A Chaparral Christmas Gift

A Chaparral Prince

A Comedy in Rubber

A Cosmopolite in a Cafe

A Departmental Case

A Dinner at--------*

A Double-Dyed Deceiver

A Fog in Santone

A Harlem Tragedy

A Lickpenny Lover

A Little Local Colour

A Little Talk about Mobs

A Madison Square Arabian Night

A Matter of Mean Elevation

A Midsummer Knight's Dream

A Midsummer Masquerade

A Municipal Report

A Newspaper Story

A Night in New Arabia

A Philistine in Bohemia

A Poor Rule

A Ramble in Aphasia

A Retrieved Reformation

A Ruler of Men

A Sacrifice Hit

A Service of Love

A Snapshot at the President

A Strange Story

A Technical Error

A Tempered Wind

According to Their Lights

After Twenty Years

An Adjustment of Nature

An Afternoon Miracle

An Apology

An Unfinished Christmas Story

An Unfinished Story

Aristocracy Versus Hash

Art and the Bronco

At Arms With Morpheus

Babes in the Jungle


Between Rounds

Bexar Scrip No. 2692

Blind Man's Holiday

Brickdust Row

Buried Treasure

By Courier

Calloway's Code


Cherchez La Femme

Christmas by Injunction

Compliments of the Season

Confessions of a Humorist

Conscience in Art

Cupid a La Carte

Cupid's Exile Number Two


Dougherty's Eye-Opener

Elsie in New York

Extradited from Bohemia

Fickle Fortune or How Gladys Hustled

Friends in San Rosario

From Each According to His Ability

From the Cabby's Seat

Georgia's Ruling


He Also Serves

Hearts and Crosses

Hearts and Hands

Helping the Other Fellow

Holding Up a Train

Hostages to Momus

Hygeia at the Solito

Innocents of Broadway

Jeff Peters as a Personal Magnet

Jimmy Hayes and Muriel

Law and Order

Let Me Feel Your Pulse

Little Speck in Garnered Fruit

Lord Oakhurst's Curse

Lost on Dress Parade

Madame Bo-Peep, of the Ranches

Makes the Whole World Kin

Mammon and the Archer

Man About Town

Masters of Arts

Memoirs of a Yellow Dog

Modern Rural Sports

Money Maze

Nemesis and the Candy Man

New York by Camp Fire Light

Next to Reading Matter

No Story

October and June

On Behalf of the Management

One Dollar's Worth

One Thousand Dollars

Out of Nazareth

Past One at Rooney's


Proof of the Pudding

Psyche and the Pskyscraper

Queries and Answers

Roads of Destiny

Roses, Ruses and Romance

Rouge et Noir

Round the Circle

Rus in Urbe

Schools and Schools

Seats of the Haughty

Shearing the Wolf



Sisters of the Golden Circle


Sociology in Serge and Straw

Sound and Fury

Springtime a La Carte

Squaring the Circle

Strictly Business

Strictly Business

Suite Homes and Their Romance

Telemachus, Friend

The Admiral

The Adventures of Shamrock Jolnes

The Assessor of Success

The Atavism of John Tom Little Bear

The Badge of Policeman O'Roon

The Brief Debut of Tildy

The Buyer From Cactus City

The Caballero's Way

The Cactus

The Caliph and the Cad

The Caliph, Cupid and the Clock

The Call of the Tame

The Chair of Philanthromathematics

The Champion of the Weather

The Church with an Overshot-Wheel

The City of Dreadful Night

The Clarion Call

The Coming-Out of Maggie

The Complete Life of John Hopkins

The Cop and the Anthem

The Count and the Wedding Guest

The Country of Elusion

The Day Resurgent

The Day We Celebrate

The Defeat of the City

The Detective Detector

The Diamond of Kali

The Discounters of Money

The Dog and the Playlet

The Door of Unrest

The Dream

The Duel

The Duplicity of Hargraves

The Easter of the Soul

The Emancipation of Billy

The Enchanted Kiss

The Enchanted Profile

The Ethics of Pig

The Exact Science of Matrimony

The Ferry of Unfulfilment

The Fifth Wheel

The Flag Paramount

The Fool-Killer

The Foreign Policy of Company 99

The Fourth in Salvador

The Friendly Call

The Furnished Room

The Gift of the Magi

The Girl and the Graft

The Girl and the Habit

The Gold That Glittered

The Greater Coney

The Green Door

The Guardian of the Accolade

The Guilty Party - An East Side Tragedy

The Halberdier of the Little Rheinschloss

The Hand that Riles the World

The Handbook of Hymen

The Harbinger

The Head-Hunter

The Hiding of Black Bill

The Higher Abdication

The Higher Pragmatism

The Hypotheses of Failure

The Indian Summer of Dry Valley Johnson

The Lady Higher Up

The Last Leaf

The Last of the Troubadours

The Lonesome Road

The Lost Blend

The Lotus And The Bottle

The Love-Philtre of Ikey Schoenstein

The Making of a New Yorker

The Man Higher Up

The Marionettes

The Marquis and Miss Sally

The Marry Month of May

The Memento

The Missing Chord

The Moment of Victory

The Octopus Marooned

The Passing of Black Eagle

The Pendulum

The Phonograph and the Graft

The Pimienta Pancakes

The Plutonian Fire

The Poet and the Peasant

The Pride of the Cities

The Princess and the Puma

The Prisoner of Zembla

The Proem

The Purple Dress

The Ransom of Mack

The Ransom of Red Chief

The Rathskeller and the Rose

The Red Roses of Tonia

The Reformation of Calliope

The Remnants of the Code

The Renaissance at Charleroi

The Roads We Take

The Robe of Peace

The Romance of a Busy Broker

The Rose of Dixie

The Rubaiyat of a Scotch Highball

The Rubber Plant's Story

The Shamrock and the Palm

The Shocks of Doom

The Skylight Room

The Sleuths

The Snow Man

The Social Triangle

The Song and the Sergeant

The Sparrows in Madison Square

The Sphinx Apple

The Tale of a Tainted Tenner

The Theory and the Hound

The Thing's the Play

The Third Ingredient

The Trimmed Lamp

The Unknown Quantity

The Unprofitable Servant

The Venturers

The Vitagraphoscope

The Voice of the City

The Whirligig of Life

The World and the Door

Thimble, Thimble


To Him Who Waits

Tobin's Palm

Tommy's Burglar

Tracked to Doom

Transformation of Martin Burney

Transients in Arcadia

Two Recalls

Two Renegades

Two Thanksgiving Day Gentlemen

Ulysses and the Dogman

Vanity and Some Sables

What You Want

While the Auto Waits

Whistling Dick's Christmas Stocking

Witches' Loaves

Spring winked a vitreous optic at Editor Westbrook of the _Minerva
Magazine_, and deflected him from his course. He had lunched in his
favorite corner of a Broadway hotel, and was returning to his office
when his feet became entangled in the lure of the vernal coquette. Which
is by way of saying that he turned eastward in Twenty-sixth Street,
safely forded the spring freshet of vehicles in Fifth Avenue, and
meandered along the walks of budding Madison Square.

The lenient air and the settings of the little park almost formed a
pastoral; the color motif was green--the presiding shade at the creation
of man and vegetation.

The callow grass between the walks was the color of verdigris, a
poisonous green, reminiscent of the horde of derelict humans that had
breathed upon the soil during the summer and autumn. The bursting tree
buds looked strangely familiar to those who had botanized among the
garnishings of the fish course of a forty-cent dinner. The sky above
was of that pale aquamarine tint that ballroom poets rhyme with "true"
and "Sue" and "coo." The one natural and frank color visible was the
ostensible green of the newly painted benches--a shade between the color
of a pickled cucumber and that of a last year's fast-black cravenette
raincoat. But, to the city-bred eye of Editor Westbrook, the landscape
appeared a masterpiece.

And now, whether you are of those who rush in, or of the gentle
concourse that fears to tread, you must follow in a brief invasion of
the editor's mind.

Editor Westbrook's spirit was contented and serene. The April number of
the _Minerva_ had sold its entire edition before the tenth day of the
month--a newsdealer in Keokuk had written that he could have sold fifty
copies more if he had 'em. The owners of the magazine had raised his
(the editor's) salary; he had just installed in his home a jewel of a
recently imported cook who was afraid of policemen; and the morning
papers had published in full a speech he had made at a publishers'
banquet. Also there were echoing in his mind the jubilant notes of a
splendid song that his charming young wife had sung to him before he
left his up-town apartment that morning. She was taking enthusiastic
interest in her music of late, practising early and diligently. When
he had complimented her on the improvement in her voice she had fairly
hugged him for joy at his praise. He felt, too, the benign, tonic
medicament of the trained nurse, Spring, tripping softly adown the wards
of the convalescent city.

While Editor Westbrook was sauntering between the rows of park benches
(already filling with vagrants and the guardians of lawless childhood)
he felt his sleeve grasped and held. Suspecting that he was about to be
panhandled, he turned a cold and unprofitable face, and saw that his
captor was--Dawe--Shackleford Dawe, dingy, almost ragged, the genteel
scarcely visible in him through the deeper lines of the shabby.

While the editor is pulling himself out of his surprise, a flashlight
biography of Dawe is offered.

He was a fiction writer, and one of Westbrook's old acquaintances.
At one time they might have called each other old friends. Dawe had
some money in those days, and lived in a decent apartment house near
Westbrook's. The two families often went to theatres and dinners
together. Mrs. Dawe and Mrs. Westbrook became "dearest" friends.
Then one day a little tentacle of the octopus, just to amuse itself,
ingurgitated Dawe's capital, and he moved to the Gramercy Park
neighborhood where one, for a few groats per week, may sit upon one's
trunk under eight-branched chandeliers and opposite Carrara marble
mantels and watch the mice play upon the floor. Dawe thought to live
by writing fiction. Now and then he sold a story. He submitted many
to Westbrook. The _Minerva_ printed one or two of them; the rest were
returned. Westbrook sent a careful and conscientious personal letter
with each rejected manuscript, pointing out in detail his reasons
for considering it unavailable. Editor Westbrook had his own clear
conception of what constituted good fiction. So had Dawe. Mrs. Dawe was
mainly concerned about the constituents of the scanty dishes of food
that she managed to scrape together. One day Dawe had been spouting to
her about the excellencies of certain French writers. At dinner they sat
down to a dish that a hungry schoolboy could have encompassed at a gulp.
Dawe commented.

"It's Maupassant hash," said Mrs. Dawe. "It may not be art, but I do
wish you would do a five-course Marion Crawford serial with an Ella
Wheeler Wilcox sonnet for dessert. I'm hungry."

As far as this from success was Shackleford Dawe when he plucked Editor
Westbrook's sleeve in Madison Square. That was the first time the editor
had seen Dawe in several months.

"Why, Shack, is this you?" said Westbrook, somewhat awkwardly, for the
form of his phrase seemed to touch upon the other's changed appearance.

"Sit down for a minute," said Dawe, tugging at his sleeve. "This is my
office. I can't come to yours, looking as I do. Oh, sit down--you won't
be disgraced. Those half-plucked birds on the other benches will take
you for a swell porch-climber. They won't know you are only an editor."

"Smoke, Shack?" said Editor Westbrook, sinking cautiously upon the
virulent green bench. He always yielded gracefully when he did yield.

Dawe snapped at the cigar as a kingfisher darts at a sunperch, or a girl
pecks at a chocolate cream.

"I have just--" began the editor.

"Oh, I know; don't finish," said Dawe. "Give me a match. You have just
ten minutes to spare. How did you manage to get past my office-boy and
invade my sanctum? There he goes now, throwing his club at a dog that
couldn't read the 'Keep off the Grass' signs."

"How goes the writing?" asked the editor.

"Look at me," said Dawe, "for your answer. Now don't put on that
embarrassed, friendly-but-honest look and ask me why I don't get a job
as a wine agent or a cab driver. I'm in the fight to a finish. I know I
can write good fiction and I'll force you fellows to admit it yet. I'll
make you change the spelling of 'regrets' to 'c-h-e-q-u-e' before I'm
done with you."

Editor Westbrook gazed through his nose-glasses with a sweetly
sorrowful, omniscient, sympathetic, skeptical expression--the
copyrighted expression of the editor beleagured by the unavailable

"Have you read the last story I sent you--'The Alarum of the Soul'?"
asked Dawe.

"Carefully. I hesitated over that story, Shack, really I did. It had
some good points. I was writing you a letter to send with it when it
goes back to you. I regret--"

"Never mind the regrets," said Dawe, grimly. "There's neither salve nor
sting in 'em any more. What I want to know is _why_. Come now; out with
the good points first."

"The story," said Westbrook, deliberately, after a suppressed sigh, "is
written around an almost original plot. Characterization--the best you
have done. Construction--almost as good, except for a few weak joints
which might be strengthened by a few changes and touches. It was a good
story, except--"

"I can write English, can't I?" interrupted Dawe.

"I have always told you," said the editor, "that you had a style."

"Then the trouble is--"

"Same old thing," said Editor Westbrook. "You work up to your climax
like an artist. And then you turn yourself into a photographer. I don't
know what form of obstinate madness possesses you, but that is what you
do with everything that you write. No, I will retract the comparison
with the photographer. Now and then photography, in spite of its
impossible perspective, manages to record a fleeting glimpse of truth.
But you spoil every dénouement by those flat, drab, obliterating strokes
of your brush that I have so often complained of. If you would rise to
the literary pinnacle of your dramatic senses, and paint them in the
high colors that art requires, the postman would leave fewer bulky,
self-addressed envelopes at your door."

"Oh, fiddles and footlights!" cried Dawe, derisively. "You've got that
old sawmill drama kink in your brain yet. When the man with the black
mustache kidnaps golden-haired Bessie you are bound to have the mother
kneel and raise her hands in the spotlight and say: 'May high heaven
witness that I will rest neither night nor day till the heartless
villain that has stolen me child feels the weight of another's

Editor Westbrook conceded a smile of impervious complacency.

"I think," said he, "that in real life the woman would express herself
in those words or in very similar ones."

"Not in a six hundred nights' run anywhere but on the stage," said Dawe
hotly. "I'll tell you what she'd say in real life. She'd say: 'What!
Bessie led away by a strange man? Good Lord! It's one trouble after
another! Get my other hat, I must hurry around to the police-station.
Why wasn't somebody looking after her, I'd like to know? For God's sake,
get out of my way or I'll never get ready. Not that hat--the brown one
with the velvet bows. Bessie must have been crazy; she's usually shy of
strangers. Is that too much powder? Lordy! How I'm upset!'

"That's the way she'd talk," continued Dawe. "People in real life don't
fly into heroics and blank verse at emotional crises. They simply can't
do it. If they talk at all on such occasions they draw from the same
vocabulary that they use every day, and muddle up their words and ideas
a little more, that's all."

"Shack," said Editor Westbrook impressively, "did you ever pick up the
mangled and lifeless form of a child from under the fender of a street
car, and carry it in your arms and lay it down before the distracted
mother? Did you ever do that and listen to the words of grief and
despair as they flowed spontaneously from her lips?"

"I never did," said Dawe. "Did you?"

"Well, no," said Editor Westbrook, with a slight frown. "But I can well
imagine what she would say."

"So can I," said Dawe.

And now the fitting time had come for Editor Westbrook to play the
oracle and silence his opinionated contributor. It was not for an
unarrived fictionist to dictate words to be uttered by the heroes and
heroines of the _Minerva Magazine_, contrary to the theories of the
editor thereof.

"My dear Shack," said he, "if I know anything of life I know that every
sudden, deep and tragic emotion in the human heart calls forth an
apposite, concordant, conformable and proportionate expression of
feeling. How much of this inevitable accord between expression and
feeling should be attributed to nature, and how much to the influence of
art, it would be difficult to say. The sublimely terrible roar of the
lioness that has been deprived of her cubs is dramatically as far above
her customary whine and purr as the kingly and transcendent utterances
of Lear are above the level of his senile vaporings. But it is also true
that all men and women have what may be called a sub-conscious dramatic
sense that is awakened by a sufficiently deep and powerful emotion--a
sense unconsciously acquired from literature and the stage that prompts
them to express those emotions in language befitting their importance
and histrionic value."

"And in the name of the seven sacred saddle-blankets of Sagittarius,
where did the stage and literature get the stunt?" asked Dawe.

"From life," answered the editor, triumphantly.

The story writer rose from the bench and gesticulated eloquently but
dumbly. He was beggared for words with which to formulate adequately his

On a bench nearby a frowzy loafer opened his red eyes and perceived that
his moral support was due a downtrodden brother.

"Punch him one, Jack," he called hoarsely to Dawe. "W'at's he come
makin' a noise like a penny arcade for amongst gen'lemen that comes in
the square to set and think?"

Editor Westbrook looked at his watch with an affected show of leisure.

"Tell me," asked Dawe, with truculent anxiety, "what especial faults in
'The Alarum of the Soul' caused you to throw it down?"

"When Gabriel Murray," said Westbrook, "goes to his telephone and is
told that his fiancée has been shot by a burglar, he says--I do not
recall the exact words, but--"

"I do," said Dawe. "He says: 'Damn Central; she always cuts me off.'
(And then to his friend) 'Say, Tommy, does a thirty-two bullet make a
big hole? It's kind of hard luck, ain't it? Could you get me a drink
from the sideboard, Tommy? No; straight; nothing on the side.'"

"And again," continued the editor, without pausing for argument, "when
Berenice opens the letter from her husband informing her that he has
fled with the manicure girl, her words are--let me see--"

"She says," interposed the author: "'Well, what do you think of that!'"

"Absurdly inappropriate words," said Westbrook, "presenting an
anti-climax--plunging the story into hopeless bathos. Worse yet; they
mirror life falsely. No human being ever uttered banal colloquialisms
when confronted by sudden tragedy."

"Wrong," said Dawe, closing his unshaven jaws doggedly. "I say no man
or woman ever spouts 'high-falutin' talk when they go up against a real
climax. They talk naturally and a little worse."

The editor rose from the bench with his air of indulgence and inside

"Say, Westbrook," said Dawe, pinning him by the lapel, "would you have
accepted 'The Alarum of the Soul' if you had believed that the actions
and words of the characters were true to life in the parts of the story
that we discussed?"

"It is very likely that I would, if I believed that way," said the
editor. "But I have explained to you that I do not."

"If I could prove to you that I am right?"

"I'm sorry, Shack, but I'm afraid I haven't time to argue any further
just now."

"I don't want to argue," said Dawe. "I want to demonstrate to you from
life itself that my view is the correct one."

"How could you do that?" asked Westbrook, in a surprised tone.

"Listen," said the writer, seriously. "I have thought of a way. It is
important to me that my theory of true-to-life fiction be recognized as
correct by the magazines. I've fought for it for three years, and I'm
down to my last dollar, with two months' rent due."

"I have applied the opposite of your theory," said the editor, "in
selecting the fiction for the _Minerva Magazine_. The circulation has
gone up from ninety thousand to--"

"Four hundred thousand," said Dawe. "Whereas it should have been boosted
to a million."

"You said something to me just now about demonstrating your pet theory."

"I will. If you'll give me about half an hour of your time I'll prove to
you that I am right. I'll prove it by Louise."

"Your wife!" exclaimed Westbrook. "How?"

"Well, not exactly by her, but _with_ her," said Dawe. "Now, you know
how devoted and loving Louise has always been. She thinks I'm the only
genuine preparation on the market that bears the old doctor's signature.
She's been fonder and more faithful than ever, since I've been cast for
the neglected genius part."

"Indeed, she is a charming and admirable life companion," agreed the
editor. "I remember what inseparable friends she and Mrs. Westbrook once
were. We are both lucky chaps, Shack, to have such wives. You must bring
Mrs. Dawe up some evening soon, and we'll have one of those informal
chafing-dish suppers that we used to enjoy so much."

"Later," said Dawe. "When I get another shirt. And now I'll tell you my
scheme. When I was about to leave home after breakfast--if you can call
tea and oatmeal breakfast--Louise told me she was going to visit her
aunt in Eighty-ninth Street. She said she would return at three o'clock.
She is always on time to a minute. It is now--"

Dawe glanced toward the editor's watch pocket.

"Twenty-seven minutes to three," said Westbrook, scanning his

"We have just enough time," said Dawe. "We will go to my flat at once. I
will write a note, address it to her and leave it on the table where she
will see it as she enters the door. You and I will be in the dining-room
concealed by the portières. In that note I'll say that I have fled from
her forever with an affinity who understands the needs of my artistic
soul as she never did. When she reads it we will observe her actions and
hear her words. Then we will know which theory is the correct one--yours
or mine."

"Oh, never!" exclaimed the editor, shaking his head. "That would be
inexcusably cruel. I could not consent to have Mrs. Dawe's feelings
played upon in such a manner."

"Brace up," said the writer. "I guess I think as much of her as you do.
It's for her benefit as well as mine. I've got to get a market for my
stories in some way. It won't hurt Louise. She's healthy and sound. Her
heart goes as strong as a ninety-eight-cent watch. It'll last for only a
minute, and then I'll step out and explain to her. You really owe it to
me to give me the chance, Westbrook."

Editor Westbrook at length yielded, though but half willingly. And in
the half of him that consented lurked the vivisectionist that is in all
of us. Let him who has not used the scalpel rise and stand in his place.
Pity 'tis that there are not enough rabbits and guinea-pigs to go

The two experimenters in Art left the Square and hurried eastward and
then to the south until they arrived in the Gramercy neighborhood.
Within its high iron railings the little park had put on its smart coat
of vernal green, and was admiring itself in its fountain mirror. Outside
the railings the hollow square of crumbling houses, shells of a bygone
gentry, leaned as if in ghostly gossip over the forgotten doings of the
vanished quality. _Sic transit gloria urbis_.

A block or two north of the Park, Dawe steered the editor again
eastward, then, after covering a short distance, into a lofty but narrow
flathouse burdened with a floridly over-decorated façade. To the fifth
story they toiled, and Dawe, panting, pushed his latch-key into the door
of one of the front flats.

When the door opened Editor Westbrook saw, with feelings of pity, how
meanly and meagerly the rooms were furnished.

"Get a chair, if you can find one," said Dawe, "while I hunt up pen and
ink. Hello, what's this? Here's a note from Louise. She must have left
it there when she went out this morning."

He picked up an envelope that lay on the centre-table and tore it open.
He began to read the letter that he drew out of it; and once having
begun it aloud he so read it through to the end. These are the words
that Editor Westbrook heard:

"Dear Shackleford:

"By the time you get this I will be about a hundred miles away and
still a-going. I've got a place in the chorus of the Occidental
Opera Co., and we start on the road to-day at twelve o'clock. I
didn't want to starve to death, and so I decided to make my own
living. I'm not coming back. Mrs. Westbrook is going with me. She
said she was tired of living with a combination phonograph, iceberg
and dictionary, and she's not coming back, either. We've been
practising the songs and dances for two months on the quiet. I hope
you will be successful, and get along all right! Good-bye.


Dawe dropped the letter, covered his face with his trembling hands, and
cried out in a deep, vibrating voice:

_"My God, why hast thou given me this cup to drink? Since she is false,
then let Thy Heaven's fairest gifts, faith and love, become the jesting
by-words of traitors and fiends!"_

Editor Westbrook's glasses fell to the floor. The fingers of one hand
fumbled with a button on his coat as he blurted between his pale lips:

_"Say, Shack, ain't that a hell of a note? Wouldn't that knock you off
your perch, Shack? Ain't it hell, now, Shack--ain't it?"_

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