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The Cactus

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 most notable thing about Time is that it is so purely relative. A large amount of reminiscence is, by common consent, conceded to
the drowning man; and it is not past belief that one may review an
entire courtship while removing one's gloves.

That is what Trysdale was doing, standing by a table in his bachelor
apartments. On the table stood a singular-looking green plant in a
red earthen jar. The plant was one of the species of cacti, and was
provided with long, tentacular leaves that perpetually swayed with
the slightest breeze with a peculiar beckoning motion.

Trysdale's friend, the brother of the bride, stood at a sideboard
complaining at being allowed to drink alone. Both men were in
evening dress. White favors like stars upon their coats shone
through the gloom of the apartment.

As he slowly unbuttoned his gloves, there passed through Trysdale's
mind a swift, scarifying retrospect of the last few hours. It seemed
that in his nostrils was still the scent of the flowers that had been
banked in odorous masses about the church, and in his ears the
lowpitched hum of a thousand well-bred voices, the rustle of crisp
garments, and, most insistently recurring, the drawling words of the
minister irrevocably binding her to another.

>From this last hopeless point of view he still strove, as if it had
become a habit of his mind, to reach some conjecture as to why and
how he had lost her. Shaken rudely by the uncompromising fact, he
had suddenly found himself confronted by a thing he had never before
faced --his own innermost, unmitigated, arid unbedecked self. He
saw all the garbs of pretence and egoism that he had worn now turn
to rags of folly. He shuddered at the thought that to others, before
now, the garments of his soul must have appeared sorry and threadbare.
Vanity and conceit? These were the joints in his armor. And how
free from either she had always been--But why--

As she had slowly moved up the aisle toward the altar he had felt an
unworthy, sullen exultation that had served to support him. He had
told himself that her paleness was from thoughts of another than the
man to whom she was about to give herself. But even that poor
consolation had been wrenched from him. For, when he saw that swift,
limpid, upward look that she gave the man when he took her hand, he
knew himself to be forgotten. Once that same look had been raised
to him, and he had gauged its meaning. Indeed, his conceit had
crumbled; its last prop was gone. Why had it ended thus? There had
been no quarrel between them, nothing--

For the thousandth time he remarshalled in his mind the events of
those last few days before the tide had so suddenly turned.

She had always insisted upon placing him upon a pedestal, and he had
accepted her homage with royal grandeur. It had been a very sweet
incense that she had burned before him; so modest (he told himself);
so childlike and worshipful, and (he would once have sworn) so
sincere. She had invested him with an almost supernatural number of
high attributes and excellencies and talents, and he had absorbed the
oblation as a desert drinks the rain that can coax from it no promise
of blossom or fruit.

As Trysdale grimly wrenched apart the seam of his last glove, the
crowning instance of his fatuous and tardily mourned egoism came
vividly back to him. The scene was the night when he had asked her
to come up on his pedestal with him and share his greatness. He
could not, now, for the pain of it, allow his mind to dwell upon the
memory of her convincing beauty that night--the careless wave of her
hair, the tenderness and virginal charm of her looks and words. But
they had been enough, and they had brought him to speak. During
their conversation she had said:

"And Captain Carruthers tells me that you speak the Spanish language
like a native. Why have you hidden this accomplishment from me? Is
there anything you do not know?"

Now, Carruthers was an idiot. No doubt he (Trysdale) had been guilty
(he sometimes did such things) of airing at the club some old, canting
Castilian proverb dug from the hotchpotch at the back of dictionaries.
Carruthers, who was one of his incontinent admirers, was the very man
to have magnified this exhibition of doubtful erudition.

But, alas! the incense of her admiration had been so sweet and
flattering. He allowed the imputation to pass without denial.
Without protest, he allowed her to twine about his brow this spurious
bay of Spanish scholarship. He let it grace his conquering head, and,
among its soft convolutions, he did not feel the prick of the thorn
that was to pierce him later.

How glad, how shy, how tremulous she was! How she fluttered like a
snared bird when he laid his mightiness at her feet! He could have
sworn, and he could swear now, that unmistakable consent was in her
eyes, but, coyly, she would give him no direct answer. "I will send
you my answer to-morrow," she said; and he, the indulgent, confident
victor, smilingly granted the delay. The next day he waited,
impatient, in his rooms for the word. At noon her groom came to the
door and left the strange cactus in the red earthen jar. There was
no note, no message, merely a tag upon the plant bearing a barbarous
foreign or botanical name. He waited until night, but her answer did
not come. His large pride and hurt vanity kept him from seeking her.
Two evenings later they met at a dinner. Their greetings were
conventional, but she looked at him, breathless, wondering, eager.
He was courteous, adamant, waiting her explanation. With womanly
swiftness she took her cue from his manner, and turned to snow and
ice. Thus, and wider from this on, they had drifted apart. Where
was his fault? Who had been to blame? Humbled now, he sought the
answer amid the ruins of his self-conceit. If--

The voice of the other man in the room, querulously intruding upon
his thoughts, aroused him.

"I say, Trysdale, what the deuce is the matter with you? You look
unhappy as if you yourself had been married instead of having acted
merely as an accomplice. Look at me, another accessory, come two
thousand miles on a garlicky, cockroachy banana steamer all the way
from South America to connive at the sacrifice--please to observe how
lightly my guilt rests upon my shoulders. Only little sister I had,
too, and now she's gone. Come now! take something to ease your

"I don't drink just now, thanks," said Trysdale.

"Your brandy," resumed the other, coming over and joining him, "is
abominable. Run down to see me some time at Punta Redonda, and try
some of our stuff that old Garcia smuggles in. It's worth the, trip.
Hallo! here's an old acquaintance. Wherever did you rake up this
cactus, Trysdale?"

"A present," said Trysdale, "from a friend. Know the species?"

"Very well. It's a tropical concern. See hundreds of 'em around
Punta every day. Here's the name on this tag tied to it. Know any
Spanish, Trysdale?"

"No," said Trysdale, with the bitter wraith of a smile--"Is it

"Yes. The natives imagine the leaves are reaching out and beckoning
to you. They call it by this name--Ventomarme. Name means in English,
'Come and take me.'"

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