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The Sparrows in Madison Square

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

The young man in straitened circumstances who comes to New York City
to enter literature has but one thing to do, provided he has studied
carefully his field in advance. He must go straight to Madison
Square, write an article about the sparrows there, and sell it to the
~Sun~ for $15.

I cannot recall either a novel or a story dealing with the popular
theme of the young writer from the provinces who comes to the
metropolis to win fame and fortune with his pen in which the hero
does not get his start that way. It does seem strange that some
author, in casting about for startlingly original plots, has not hit
upon the idea of having his hero write about the bluebirds in Union
Square and sell it to the ~Herald~. But a search through the files
of metropolitan fiction counts up overwhelmingly for the sparrows
and the old Garden Square, and the ~Sun~ always writes the check.

Of course it is easy to understand why this first city venture of the
budding author is always successful. He is primed by necessity to a
superlative effort; mid the iron and stone and marble of the roaring
city he has found this spot of singing birds and green grass and
trees; every tender sentiment in his nature is baffling with the sweet
pain of homesickness; his genius is aroused as it never may be again;
the birds chirp, the tree branches sway, the noise of wheels is
forgotten; he writes with his soul in his pen--and he sells it to the
~Sun~ for $15.

I had read of this custom during many years before I came to New York.
When my friends were using their strongest arguments to dissuade me
from coming, I only smiled serenely. They did not know of that
sparrow graft I had up my sleeve.

When I arrived in New York, and the car took me straight from the
ferry up Twenty-third Street to Madison Square, I could hear that
$15 check rustling in my inside pocket.

I obtained lodging at an unhyphenated hostelry, and the next morning
I was on a bench in Madison Square almost by the time the sparrows
were awake. Their melodious chirping, the benignant spring foliage of
the noble trees and the clean, fragrant grass reminded me so potently
of the old farm I had left that tears almost came into my eyes.

Then, all in a moment, I felt my inspiration. The brave, piercing
notes of those cheerful small birds formed a keynote to a wonderful,
light, fanciful song of hope and joy and altruism. Like myself, they
were creatures with hearts pitched to the tune of woods and fields;
as I was, so were they captives by circumstance in the discordant,
dull city--yet with how much grace and glee they bore the restraint!

And then the early morning people began to pass through the square to
their work--sullen people, with sidelong glances and glum faces,
hurrying, hurrying, hurrying. And I got my theme cut out clear from
the bird notes, and wrought it into a lesson, and a poem, and a
carnival dance, and a lullaby; and then translated it all into prose
and began to write.

For two hours my pencil traveled over my pad with scarcely a rest.
Then I went to the little room I had rented for two days, and there
I cut it to half, and then mailed it, white-hot, to the ~Sun~.

The next morning I was up by daylight and spent two cents of my
capital for a paper. If the word "sparrow" was in it I was unable to
find it. I took it up to my room and spread it out on the bed and
went over it, column by column. Something was wrong.

Three hours afterward the postman brought me a large envelope
containing my MS. and a piece of inexpensive paper, about 3 inches by
4--I suppose some of you have seen them--upon which was written in
violet ink, "With the ~Sun's~ thanks."

I went over to the square and sat upon a bench. No; I did not think
it necessary to eat any breakfast that morning. The confounded pests
of sparrows were making the square hideous with their idiotic "cheep,
cheep." I never saw birds so persistently noisy, impudent, and
disagreeable in all my life.

By this time, according to all traditions, I should have been standing
in the office of the editor of the ~Sun~. That personage--a tall,
grave, white-haired man--would strike a silver bell as he grasped my
hand and wiped a suspicious moisture from his glasses.

"Mr. McChesney," he would be saying when a subordinate appeared, "this
is Mr. Henry, the young man who sent in that exquisite gem about the
sparrows in Madison Square. You may give him a desk at once. Your
salary, sir, will be $80 a week, to begin with."

This was what I had been led to expect by all writers who have evolved
romances of literary New York.

Something was decidedly wrong with tradition. I could not assume the
blame, so I fixed it upon the sparrows. I began to hate them with
intensity and heat.

At that moment an individual wearing an excess of whiskers, two hats,
and a pestilential air slid into the seat beside me.

"Say, Willie," he muttered cajolingly, "could you cough up a dime out
of your coffers for a cup of coffee this morning?"

"I'm lung-weary, my friend," said I. "The best I can do is three

"And you look like a gentleman, too," said he. "What brung you

"Birds," I said fiercely. "The brown-throated songsters carolling
songs of hope and cheer to weary man toiling amid the city's dust
and din. The little feathered couriers from the meadows and woods
chirping sweetly to us of blue skies and flowering fields. The
confounded little squint-eyed nuisances yawping like a flock of steam
pianos, and stuffing themselves like aldermen with grass seeds and
bugs, while a man sits on a bench and goes without his breakfast.
Yes, sir, birds! look at them!"

As I spoke I picked up a dead tree branch that lay by the bench, and
hurled it with all my force into a close congregation of the sparrows
on the grass. The flock flew to the trees with a babel of shrill
cries; but two of them remained prostrate upon the turf.

In a moment my unsavory friend had leaped over the row of benches and
secured the fluttering victims, which he thrust hurriedly into his
pockets. Then he beckoned me with a dirty forefinger.

"Come on, cully," he said hoarsely. "You're in on the feed."

Thank you very much!

Weakly I followed my dingy acquaintance. He led me away from the park
down a side street and through a crack in a fence into a vacant lot
where some excavating had been going on. Behind a pile of old stones
and lumber he paused, and took out his birds.

"I got matches," said he. "You got any paper to start a fire with?"

I drew forth my manuscript story of the sparrows, and offered it for
burnt sacrifice. There were old planks, splinters, and chips for our
fire. My frowsy friend produced from some interior of his frayed
clothing half a loaf of bread, pepper, and salt.

In ten minutes each of us was holding a sparrow spitted upon a stick
over the leaping flames.

"Say," said my fellow bivouacker, "this ain't so bad when a fellow's
hungry. It reminds me of when I struck New York first--about fifteen
years ago. I come in from the West to see if I could get a job on a
newspaper. I hit the Madison Square Park the first mornin' after, and
was sitting around on the benches. I noticed the sparrows chirpin',
and the grass and trees so nice and green that I thought I was back in
the country again. Then I got some papers out of my pocket, and--"

"I know," I interrupted. "You sent it to the ~Sun~ and got $15."

"Say," said my friend, suspiciously, "you seem to know a good deal.
Where was you? I went to sleep on the bench there, in the sun, and
somebody touched me for every cent I had--$15."

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