Here is an aristocracy of the public parks and
even of the vagabonds who use them for their private
apartments. Vallance felt rather than knew this,
but when he stepped down out of his world into
chaos his feet brought him directly to Madison
Raw and astringent as a schoolgirl -- of the old
order -- young May breathed austerely among the
budding trees. Vallance buttoned his coat, lighted
his last cigarette and took his seat upon a bench.
For three minutes be mildly regretted the last hundred
of his last thousand that it had cost him when the
bicycle cop put an end to his last automobile ride.
Then he felt in every pocket and found not a
single penny. He had given up his apartment that
morning. His furniture had gone toward certain
debts. His clothes, save what were upon him, had
descended to his man-servant for back wages. As he
sat there was not in the whole city for him a bed or a
broiled lobster or a street-car fare or a carnation for
buttonhole unless be should obtain them by spong-
on his friends or by false pretenses. Therefore
lie had chosen the park.
And all this was because an uncle had disinherited
him, and cut down his allowance from liberality to
nothing. And all that was because his nephew had
disobeyed him concerning a certain girl, who comes
not into this story -- therefore, all readers who
brush their hair toward its roots may be warned to
read no further. There was another nephew, of a
different branch, who had once been the prospective
heir and favorite. Being without grace or hope, he
had long ago disappeared in the mire. Now drag-
nets were out for him; he was to be rehabilitated and
restored. And so Vallance fell grandly as Lucifer
to the lowest pit, joining the tattered ghosts in the
Sitting there, he leaned far back on the hard bench
and laughed a jet of cigarette smoke up to the lowest
tree branches. The sudden severing of all his life's
ties had brought him a free, thrilling, almost joyous
elation. He felt precisely the sensation of the aero-
naut when he cuts loose his parachute and lets his
balloon drift away.
The hour was nearly ten. Not many loungers
were on the benches. The park-dweller, though a
stubborn fighter against autumnal coolness, is slow
to attack the advance line of spring's chilly cohorts.
Then arose one from a seat near the leaping foun-
tain, and came and sat himself at Vallance's side.
He was either young or old; cheap lodging-houses
had flavored him mustily; razors and combs had
passed him by; in him drink had been bottled and
sealed in the devil's bond. He begged a match, which
is the form of introduction among park benchers, and
then he began to talk.
"You're not one of the regulars," he said to Val-
lance. "I know tailored clothes when I see 'em.
You just stopped for a moment on your way through
the park. Don't mind my talking to you for a while?
I've got to be with somebody. I'm afraid -- I'm
afraid. I've told two or three of those bummers over
about it. They think I'm crazy. Say -- let
tell you -- all I've had to eat to-day was a couple
pretzels and an apple. To-morrow I'll stand in
to inherit three millions; and that restaurant you
ee over there with the autos around it will be too
for me to eat in. Don't believe it, do you?
"Without the slightest trouble," said Vallance,
with a laugh. "I lunched there yesterday. To-
night I couldn't buy a five-cent cup of coffee."
"You don't look like one of us. Well, I guess those
things happen. I used to be a high-flyer myself
years ago. What knocked you out of the game?"
"I -- oh, I lost my job," said Vallance.
"It's undiluted Hades, this city," went on the
other. "One day you're eating from china; the
next you are eating in China -- a chop-suey joint.
I've had more than my share of hard luck. For five
years I've been little better than a panhandler. I
was raised up to live expensively and do nothing.
Say -- I don't mind telling you -- I've got to talk
to somebody, you see, because I'm afraid -- I'm
afraid. My name's Ide. You wouldn't think that
old Paulding, one of the millionaires on Riverside
Drive, was my uncle, would you? Well, he is. I
lived in his house once, and had all the money I
wanted. Say, haven't you got the price of a couple
of drinks about you -- er -- what's your name"
"Dawson," said Vallance. "No; I'm sorry to say
that I'm all in, financially."
"I've been living for a week in a coal cellar on
Division Street," went on Ide, "with a crook they
called 'Blinky' Morris. I didn't have anywhere else
to go. While I was out to-day a chap with some pa-
pers in his pocket was there, asking for me. I didn't
know but what he was a fly cop, so I didn't go around
again till after dark. There was a letter there be
had left for me. Say -- Dawson, it was from a big
downtown lawyer, Mead. I've seen his sign on Ann
Street. Paulding wants me to play the prodigal
nephew -- wants me to come back and be his heir
again and blow in his money. I'm to call at the
lawyer's office at ten to-morrow and step into my old
shoes again -- heir to three million, Dawson, and
$10,000 a year pocket money. And -- I'm afraid
-- I'm afraid"
The vagrant leaped to his feet and raised both
trembling arms above his bead. He caught his breath
and moaned hysterically.
Vallance seized his arm and forced him back to the
"Be quiet!" he commanded, with something like
disgust in his tones. "One would think you had lost
a fortune, instead of being about to acquire one. Of
what are you afraid?"
Ide cowered and shivered on the bench. He clung
to Vallance's sleeve, and even in the dim glow of the
Broadway lights the latest disinherited one could see
drops on the other's brow wrung out by some strange
"Why, I'm afraid something will happen to me be-
fore morning. I don't know what -- something to
keep me from coming into that money. I'm afraid a
tree will fall on me -- I'm afraid a cab will run over
me, or a stone drop on me from a housetop, or some-
thing. I never was afraid before. I've sat in this
park a hundred nights as calm as a graven image
without knowing where my breakfast was to come
from. But now it's different. I love money, Daw-
son - I'm happy as a god when it's trickling through
my fingers, and people are bowing to me, with the
music and the flowers and fine clothes all around. As
long as I knew I was out of the game I didn't mind.
I was even happy sitting here ragged and hungry,
listening to the fountain jump and watching the
carriages go up the avenue. But it's in reach of my
hand again now -- almost -- and I can't stand it to
wait twelve hours, Dawson -- I can't stand it.
There are fifty things that could happen to me -- I
could go blind -- I might be attacked with heart
disease -- the world might come to an end before I
could -- "
Ide sprang to his feet again, with a shriek. Peo-
ple stirred on the benches and began to look. Val-
lance took his arm.
"Come and walk," he said, soothingly. "And try
to calm yourself. There is no need to become ex-
cited or alarmed. Nothing is going to happen to
you. One night is like another."
"That's right," said Ide. "Stay with me, Daw-
son -- that's a good fellow. Walk around with me
awhile. I never went to pieces like this before, and
I've had a good many hard knocks. Do you think
you could hustle something in the way of a little
lunch, old man? I'm afraid my nerve's too far gone
to try any panhandling"
Vallance led his companion up almost deserted
Fifth Avenue, and then westward along the Thirties
toward Broadway. "Wait here a few minutes," he
said, leaving Ide in a quiet and shadowed spot. He
entered a familiar hotel, and strolled toward the bar
quite in his old assured way.
"There's a poor devil outside, Jimmy," he said to
the bartender, "who says he's hungry and looks it.
You know what they do when you give them money.
Fix up a sandwich or two for him; and I'll see that
he doesn't throw it away."
"Certainly, Mr. Vallance," said the bartender.
"They ain't all fakes. Don't like to see anybody go
Ide folded a liberal supply of the free lunch into a
napkin. Vallance went with it and joined his com-
panion. Ide pounced upon the food ravenously. "I
haven't had any free lunch as good as this in a
year," be said. "Aren't you going to eat any,
"I'm not hungry - thanks," said Vallance.
"We'll go back to the Square," said Ide. "The
cops won't bother us there. I'll roll up the rest of
this ham and stuff for our breakfast. I won't eat
any more; I'm afraid I'll get sick. Suppose I'd die
of cramps or something to-night, and never get to
touch that money again! It's eleven hours yet till
time to see that lawyer. You won't leave me, will
you, Dawson? I'm afraid something might happen.
You haven't any place to go, have you?"
"No," said Vallance, "nowhere to-night. I'll
have a bench with you."
"You take it cool," said Ide, "if you've told it to
me straight. I should think a man put on the bum
from a good job just in one day would be tearing his
"I believe I've already remarked," said Vallance,
laughing, "that I would have thought that a man
who was expecting to come into a fortune on the
next day would be feeling pretty easy and quiet."
"It's funny business," philosophized Ide, "about
the way people take things, anyhow. Here's your
bench, Dawson, right next to mine. The light don't
shine in your eyes here. Say, Dawson, I'll get the
old man to give you a letter to somebody about a job
when I get back home. You've helped me a lot to-
night. I don't believe I could have gone through
the night if I hadn't struck you."
"Thank you," said Vallance. "Do you lie down
or sit up on these when you sleep?
For hours Vallance gazed almost without winking
at the stars through the branches of the trees and
listened to the sharp slapping of horses' hoofs on the
sea of asphalt to the south His mind was active,
but his feelings were dormant. Every emotion
seemed to have been eradicated. Ide felt no regrets,
no fears, no pain or discomfort. Even when be
thought of the girl, it was as of an inhabitant of one
of those remote stars at which be gazed. He re-
membered the absurd antics of his companion and
laughed softly, yet without a feeling of mirth. Soon
the daily army of milk wagons made of the city a
roaring drum to which they marched. Vallance fell
asleep on his comfortless bench.
At ten o'clock on the next day the two stood at the
door of Lawyer Mead's office in Ann Street.
Ide's nerves fluttered worse than ever when the
hour approached; and Vallance could not decide to
leave him a possible prey to the dangers he dreaded.
When they entered the office, Lawyer Mead looked
at them wonderingly. He and Vallance were old
friends. After his greeting, he turned to Ide, who
stood with white face and trembling limbs before the
"I sent a second letter to your address last night,
Mr. Ide," he said. "I learned this morning that
you were not there to receive it. It will inform you
that Mr. Paulding has reconsidered his offer to take
you back into favor. He has decided not to do so,
and desires you to understand that no change will be
made in the relations existing between you and
Ide's trembling suddenly ceased. The color came
back to his face, and be straightened his back. His
jaw went forward half an inch, and a gleam came
into his eye. He pushed back his battered bat with
one hand, and extended the other, with levelled fin-
gers, toward the lawyer. He took a long breath and
then laughed sardonically.
"Tell old Paulding he may go to the devil," he
said, loudly and clearly, and turned and walked out
of the office with a firm and lively step.
Lawyer Mead turned on his heel to Vallance and
"I am glad you came in," he said, genially.
"Your uncle wants you to return home at once. He
is reconciled to the situation that led to his hasty
action, and desires to say that all will be as -- "
"Hey, Adams!" cried Lawyer Mead, breaking his
sentence, and calling to his clerk. "Bring a glass of
water Mr. Vallance has fainted."