|02-10-2016, 01:39 PM||#43 (permalink)|
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The Cop and the Anthem
by O Henry
Soapy moved restlessly on his seat in Madison Square. There are certain signs to show that winter is coming. Birds begin to fly south. Women who want nice new warm coats become very kind to their husbands. And Soapy moves restlessly on his seat in the park. When you see these signs, you know that winter is near.
A dead leaf fell at Soapy’s feet. That was a special sign for him that winter was coming. It was time for all who lived in Madison Square to prepare.
Soapy’s mind now realized the fact. The time had come. He had to find some way to take care of himself during the cold weather. And therefore he moved restlessly on his seat.
Soapy’s hopes for the winter were not very high. He was not thinking of sailing away on a ship. He was not thinking of southern skies, or of the Bay of Naples. Three months in the prison on Blackwell’s Island was what he wanted. Three months of food every day and a bed every night, three months safe from the cold north wind and safe from cops. This seemed to Soapy the most desirable thing in the world.
For years Blackwell’s Island had been his winter home. Richer New Yorkers made their large plans to go to Florida or to the shore of the Mediterranean Sea each winter. Soapy made his small plans for going to the Island.
And now the time had come. Three big newspapers, some under his coat and some over his legs, had not kept him warm during the night in the park. So Soapy was thinking of the Island.
There were places in the city where he could go and ask for food and a bed. These would be given to him. He could move from one building to another, and he would be taken care of through the winter. But he liked Blackwell’s Island better.
Soapy’s spirit was proud. If he went to any of these places, there were certain things he had to do. In one way or another, he would have to pay for what they gave him. They would not ask him for money. But they would make him wash his whole body. They would make him answer questions; they would want to know everything about his life.
No. Prison was better than that. The prison had rules that he would have to follow. But in prison a gentleman’s own life was still his own life.
Soapy, having decided to go to the Island, at once began to move toward his desire.
There were many easy ways of doing this. The most pleasant way was to go and have a good dinner at some fine restaurant. Then he would say that he had no money to pay. And then a cop would be called. It would all be done very quietly. The cop would arrest him. He would be taken to a judge. The judge would do the rest.
Soapy left his seat and walked out of Madison Square to the place where the great street called Broadway and Fifth Avenue meet. He went across this wide space and started north on Broadway. He stopped at a large and brightly lighted restaurant. This was where the best food and the best people in the best clothes appeared every evening.
Soapy believed that above his legs he looked all right. His face was clean. His coat was good enough. If he could get to a table, he believed that success would be his. The part of him that would be seen above the table would look all right. The waiter would bring him what he asked for.
He began thinking of what he would like to eat. In his mind he could see the whole dinner. The cost would not be too high. He did not want the restaurant people to feel any real anger. But the dinner would leave him filled and happy for the journey to his winter home.
But as Soapy put his foot inside the restaurant door, the head waiter saw his broken old shoes and the torn clothes that covered his legs. Strong and ready hands turned Soapy around and moved him quietly and quickly outside again.
Soapy turned off Broadway. It seemed that this easy, this most desirable way to the Island was not to be his. He must think of some other way to getting there.
At a corner of Sixth Avenue was a shop with a wide glass window, bright with electric lights. Soapy picked up a big stone and threw it through the glass. People came running around the corner. A cop was the first among them. Soapy stood still, and he smiled when he saw the cop.
“Where’s the man that did that?” asked the cop.
“Don’t you think that I might have done it?” said Soapy. He was friendly and happy. What he wanted was coming toward him.
But the cop’s mind would not consider Soapy. Men who break windows do not stop there to talk to cops. They run away as fast as they can. The cop saw a man further along the street, running. He ran after him. And Soapy, sick at heart, walked slowly away. He had failed two times.
Across the street was another restaurant. It was not so fine as the one on Broadway. The people who went there were not so rich. Its food was not so good. Into this, Soapy took his old shoes and his torn clothes, and no one stopped him. He sat down at a table and was soon eating a big dinner. When he had finished, he said that he and money were strangers.
“Get busy and call a cop,” said Soapy. “And don’t keep a gentleman waiting.”
“No cop for you,” said the waiter. He called another waiter.
The two waiters threw Soapy upon his left ear on the hard street outside. He stood up slowly, one part at a time, and beat the dust from his clothes. Prison seemed only a happy dream. The Island seemed very far away. A cop who was standing near laughed and walked away.
Soapy traveled almost half a mile before he tried again. This time he felt very certain that he would be successful. A nice-looking young woman was standing before a shop window, looking at the objects inside. Very near stood a large cop.
Soapy’s plan was to speak to the young woman. She seemed to be a very nice young lady, who would not want a strange man to speak to her. She would ask the cop for help. And then Soapy would be happy to feel the cop’s hand on his arm. He would be on his way to the Island.
He went near her. He could see that the cop was already watching him. The young woman moved away a few steps. Soapy followed. Standing beside her he said:
“Good evening, Bedelia! Don’t you want to come and play with me?”
The cop was still looking. The young woman had only to move her hand, and Soapy would be on his way to the place where he wanted to go. He was already thinking how warm he would be.
The young woman turned to him. Putting out her hand, she took his arm.
“Sure, Mike,” she said joyfully, “if you’ll buy me something to drink. I would have spoken to you sooner, but the cop was watching.”
With the young woman holding his arm, Soapy walked past the cop. He was filled with sadness. He was still free. Was he going to remain free forever?
At the next corner he pulled his arm away, and ran. When he stopped, he was near several theaters. In this part of the city, streets are brighter and hearts are more joyful than in other parts. Women and men in rich, warm coats moved happily in the winter air.
A sudden fear caught Soapy. No cop was going to arrest him. Then he came to another cop standing in front of a big theater. He thought of something else to try.
He began to shout as if he had had too much to drink. His voice was as loud as he could make it. He danced, he cried out.
And the cop turned his back to Soapy, and said to a man standing near him, “It’s one of those college boys. He won’t hurt anything. We had orders to let them shout.”
Soapy was quiet. Was no cop going to touch him? He began to think of the Island as if it were as far away as heaven. He pulled his thin coat around him. The wind was very cold.
Then he saw a man in the shop buying a newspaper. The man’s umbrella stood beside the door. Soapy stepped inside the shop, took the umbrella, and walked slowly away. The man followed him quickly.
“My umbrella,” he said.
“Oh, is it?” said Soapy. “Why don’t you call a cop? I took it. Your umbrella! Why don’t you call a cop? There’s one standing at the corner.”
The man walked more slowly, Soapy did the same. But he had a feeling that he was going to fail again. The cop looked at the two men.
“I—” said the umbrella man— “that is—you know how these things happen—I—if that’s your umbrella I’m very sorry—I found it this morning in a restaurant—if you say it’s yours—I hope you’ll—”
“It’s mine!” cried Soapy with anger in his voice.
The umbrella man hurried away. The cop helped a lady across the street. Soapy walked east. He threw the umbrella as far as he could throw it. He talked to himself about cops and what he thought of them. Because he wished to be arrested, they seemed to believe he was like a king, who could do no wrong.
At last Soapy came to one of the quiet streets on the east side of the city. He turned here and began to walk south toward Madison Square. He was going home, although home was only a seat in a park.
But on a very quiet corner Soapy stopped. Here was an old, old church. Through one colored-glass window came a soft light. Sweet music came to Soapy’s ears and seemed to hold him there.
The moon was above, peaceful and bright. There were few people passing. He could hear birds high above him.
And the anthem that came from the church held Soapy there, for he had known it well long ago. In those days his life contained such things as mothers and flowers and high hopes and friends and clean thoughts and clean clothes.
Soapy’s mind was ready for something like this. He had come to the old church at the right time. There was a sudden and wonderful change in his soul. He saw with sick fear how he had fallen. He saw his worthless days, his wrong desires, his dead hopes, the lost power of his mind.
And also in a moment his heart answered this change in his soul. He would fight to change his life. He would pull himself up, out of the mud. He would make a man of himself again.
There was time. He was young enough. He would find his old purpose in life, and follow it. That sweet music had changed him. Tomorrow he would find work. A man had once offered him a job. He would find that man tomorrow. He would be somebody in the world. He
Soapy felt a hand on his arm. He looked quickly around into the broad face of a cop.
“What are you doing hanging around here?” asked the cop.
“Nothing,” said Soapy.
“You think I believe that?” said the cop.
Full of his new strength, Soapy began to argue. And it is not wise to argue with a New York cop.
“Come along,” said the cop.
“Three months on the Island,” said the Judge to Soapy the next morning.
|03-23-2016, 09:09 AM||#45 (permalink)|
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Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton
Rolling Stone listed it as one of the best 50 non-superhero comic(s)/strips.
|03-23-2016, 09:13 AM||#46 (permalink)|
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My revelations as a Spy by Stephen Leacock
In many people the very name "Spy" excites a shudder of apprehension; we Spies, in fact, get quite used to being shuddered at. None of us Spies mind it at all. Whenever I enter a hotel and register myself as a Spy I am quite accustomed to see a thrill of fear run round the clerks, or clerk, behind the desk.
Us Spies or We Spies--for we call ourselves both--are thus a race apart. None know us. All fear us. Where do we live? Nowhere. Where are we? Everywhere. Frequently we don't know ourselves where we are. The secret orders that we receive come from so high up that it is often forbidden to us even to ask where we are. A friend of mine, or at least a Fellow Spy--us Spies have no friends--one of the most brilliant men in the Hungarian Secret Service, once spent a month in New York under the impression that he was in Winnipeg. If this happened to the most brilliant, think of the others.
All, I say, fear us. Because they know and have reason to know our power. Hence, in spite of the prejudice against us, we are able to move everywhere, to lodge in the best hotels, and enter any society that we wish to penetrate.
Let me relate an incident to illustrate this: a month ago I entered one of the largest of the New York hotels which I will merely call the B. hotel without naming it: to do so might blast it. We Spies, in fact, never name a hotel. At the most we indicate it by a number known only to ourselves, such as 1, 2, or 3.
On my presenting myself at the desk the clerk informed me that he had no room vacant. I knew this of course to be a mere subterfuge; whether or not he suspected that I was a Spy I cannot say. I was muffled up, to avoid recognition, in a long overcoat with the collar turned up and reaching well above my ears, while the black beard and the moustache, that I had slipped on in entering the hotel, concealed my face. "Let me speak a moment to the manager," I said. When he came I beckoned him aside and taking his ear in my hand I breathed two words into it. "Good heavens!" he gasped, while his face turned as pale as ashes. "Is it enough?" I asked. "Can I have a room, or must I breathe again?" "No, no," said the manager, still trembling. Then, turning to the clerk: "Give this gentleman a room," he said, "and give him a bath."
What these two words are that will get a room in New York at once I must not divulge. Even now, when the veil of secrecy is being lifted, the international interests involved are too complicated to permit it. Suffice it to say that if these two had failed I know a couple of others still better.
I narrate this incident, otherwise trivial, as indicating the astounding ramifications and the ubiquity of the international spy system. A similar illustration occurs to me as I write. I was walking the other day with another man, on upper B. way between the T. Building and the W. Garden.
"Do you see that man over there?" I said, pointing from the side of the street on which we were walking on the sidewalk to the other side opposite to the side that we were on.
"The man with the straw hat?" he asked. "Yes, what of him?"
"Oh, nothing," I answered, "except that he's a Spy!"
"Great heavens!" exclaimed my acquaintance, leaning up against a lamp-post for support. "A Spy! How do you know that? What does it mean?"
I gave a quiet laugh--we Spies learn to laugh very quietly.
"Ha!" I said, "that is my secret, my friend. Verbum sapientius! Che sara sara! Yodel doodle doo!"
My acquaintance fell in a dead faint upon the street. I watched them take him away in an ambulance. Will the reader be surprised to learn that among the white-coated attendants who removed him I recognized no less a person than the famous Russian Spy, Poulispantzoff. What he was doing there I could not tell. No doubt his orders came from so high up that he himself did not know. I had seen him only twice before--once when we were both disguised as Zulus at Buluwayo, and once in the interior of China, at the time when Poulispantzoff made his secret entry into Thibet concealed in a tea-case. He was inside the tea-case when I saw him; so at least I was informed by the coolies who carried it. Yet I recognized him instantly. Neither he nor I, however, gave any sign of recognition other than an imperceptible movement of the outer eyelid. (We Spies learn to move the outer lid of the eye so imperceptibly that it cannot be seen.) Yet after meeting Poulispantzoff in this way I was not surprised to read in the evening papers a few hours afterward that the uncle of the young King of Siam had been assassinated. The connection between these two events I am unfortunately not at liberty to explain; the consequences to the Vatican would be too serious. I doubt if it could remain top-side up.
These, however, are but passing incidents in a life filled with danger and excitement. They would have remained unrecorded and unrevealed, like the rest of my revelations, were it not that certain recent events have to some extent removed the seal of secrecy from my lips. The death of a certain royal sovereign makes it possible for me to divulge things hitherto undivulgeable. Even now I can only tell a part, a small part, of the terrific things that I know. When more sovereigns die I can divulge more. I hope to keep on divulging at intervals for years. But I am compelled to be cautious. My relations with the Wilhelmstrasse, with Downing Street and the Quai d'Orsay, are so intimate, and my footing with the Yildiz Kiosk and the Waldorf-Astoria and Childs' Restaurants are so delicate, that a single faux pas might prove to be a false step.
It is now seventeen years since I entered the Secret Service of the G. empire. During this time my activities have taken me into every quarter of the globe, at times even into every eighth or sixteenth of it.
It was I who first brought back word to the Imperial Chancellor of the existence of an Entente between England and France. "Is there an Entente?" he asked me, trembling with excitement, on my arrival at the Wilhelmstrasse. "Your Excellency," I said, "there is." He groaned. "Can you stop it?" he asked. "Don't ask me," I said sadly. "Where must we strike?" demanded the Chancellor. "Fetch me a map," I said. They did so. I placed my finger on the map. "Quick, quick," said the Chancellor, "look where his finger is." They lifted it up. "Morocco!" they cried. I had meant it for Abyssinia but it was too late to change. That night the warship Panther sailed under sealed orders. The rest is history, or at least history and geography.
In the same way it was I who brought word to the Wilhelmstrasse of the rapprochement between England and Russia in Persia. "What did you find?" asked the Chancellor as I laid aside the Russian disguise in which I had travelled. "A Rapprochement!" I said. He groaned. "They seem to get all the best words," he said.
I shall always feel, to my regret; that I am personally responsible for the outbreak of the present war. It may have had ulterior causes. But there is no doubt that it was precipitated by the fact that, for the first time in seventeen years, I took a six weeks' vacation in June and July of 1914. The consequences of this careless step I ought to have foreseen. Yet I took such precautions as I could. "Do you think," I asked, "that you can preserve the status quo for six weeks, merely six weeks, if I stop spying and take a rest?" "We'll try," they answered. "Remember," I said, as I packed my things, "keep the Dardanelles closed; have the Sandjak of Novi Bazaar properly patrolled, and let the Dobrudja remain under a modus vivendi till I come back."
Two months later, while sitting sipping my coffee at a Kurhof in the Schwarzwald, I read in the newspapers that a German army had invaded France and was fighting the French, and that the English expeditionary force had crossed the Channel. "This," I said to myself, "means war." As usual, I was right.
It is needless for me to recount here the life of busy activity that falls to a Spy in wartime. It was necessary for me to be here, there and everywhere, visiting all the best hotels, watering-places, summer resorts, theatres, and places of amusement. It was necessary, moreover, to act with the utmost caution and to assume an air of careless indolence in order to lull suspicion asleep. With this end in view I made a practice of never rising till ten in the morning. I breakfasted with great leisure, and contented myself with passing the morning in a quiet stroll, taking care, however, to keep my ears open. After lunch I generally feigned a light sleep, keeping my ears shut. A table d'hote dinner, followed by a visit to the theatre, brought the strenuous day to a close. Few Spies, I venture to say, worked harder than I did.
It was during the third year of the war that I received a peremptory summons from the head of the Imperial Secret Service at Berlin, Baron Fisch von Gestern. "I want to see you," it read. Nothing more. In the life of a Spy one learns to think quickly, and to think is to act. I gathered as soon as I received the despatch that for some reason or other Fisch von Gestern was anxious to see me, having, as I instantly inferred, something to say to me. This conjecture proved correct.
The Baron rose at my entrance with military correctness and shook hands.
"Are you willing," he inquired, "to undertake a mission to America?"
"I am," I answered.
"Very good. How soon can you start?"
"As soon as I have paid the few bills that I owe in Berlin," I replied.
"We can hardly wait for that," said my chief, "and in case it might excite comment. You must start to-night!"
"Very good," I said.
"Such," said the Baron, "are the Kaiser's orders. Here is an American passport and a photograph that will answer the purpose. The likeness is not great, but it is sufficient."
"But," I objected, abashed for a moment, "this photograph is of a man with whiskers and I am, unfortunately, clean-shaven."
"The orders are imperative," said Gestern, with official hauteur. "You must start to-night. You can grow whiskers this afternoon."
"Very good," I replied.
"And now to the business of your mission," continued the Baron. "The United States, as you have perhaps heard, is making war against Germany."
"I have heard so," I replied.
"Yes," continued Gestern. "The fact has leaked out--how, we do not know--and is being widely reported. His Imperial Majesty has decided to stop the war with the United States."
"He intends to send over a secret treaty of the same nature as the one recently made with his recent Highness the recent Czar of Russia. Under this treaty Germany proposes to give to the United States the whole of equatorial Africa and in return the United States is to give to Germany the whole of China. There are other provisions, but I need not trouble you with them. Your mission relates, not to the actual treaty, but to the preparation of the ground."
I bowed again.
"You are aware, I presume," continued the Baron, "that in all high international dealings, at least in Europe, the ground has to be prepared. A hundred threads must be unravelled. This the Imperial Government itself cannot stoop to do. The work must be done by agents like yourself. You understand all this already, no doubt?"
I indicated my assent.
"These, then, are your instructions," said the Baron, speaking slowly and distinctly, as if to impress his words upon my memory. "On your arrival in the United States you will follow the accredited methods that are known to be used by all the best Spies of the highest diplomacy. You have no doubt read some of the books, almost manuals of instruction, that they have written?"
"I have read many of them," I said.
"Very well. You will enter, that is to say, enter and move everywhere in the best society. Mark specially, please, that you must not only enter it but you must move. You must, if I may put it so, get a move on."
"You must mix freely with the members of the Cabinet. You must dine with them. This is a most necessary matter and one to be kept well in mind. Dine with them often in such a way as to make yourself familiar to them. Will you do this?"
"I will," I said.
"Very good. Remember also that in order to mask your purpose you must constantly be seen with the most fashionable and most beautiful women of the American capital. Can you do this?"
"Can I?" I said.
"You must if need be"--and the Baron gave a most significant look which was not lost upon me--"carry on an intrigue with one or, better, with several of them. Are you ready for it?"
"More than ready," I said.
"Very good. But this is only a part. You are expected also to familiarize yourself with the leaders of the great financial interests. You are to put yourself on such a footing with them as to borrow large sums of money from them. Do you object to this?"
"No," I said frankly, "I do not."
"Good! You will also mingle freely in Ambassadorial and foreign circles. It would be well for you to dine, at least once a week, with the British Ambassador. And now one final word"--here Gestern spoke with singular impressiveness--"as to the President of the United States."
"Yes," I said.
"You must mix with him on a footing of the most open-handed friendliness. Be at the White House continually. Make yourself in the fullest sense of the words the friend and adviser of the President. All this I think is clear. In fact, it is only what is done, as you know, by all the masters of international diplomacy."
"Precisely," I said.
"Very good. And then," continued the Baron, "as soon as you find yourself sufficiently en rapport with everybody, or I should say," he added in correction, for the Baron shares fully in the present German horror of imported French words, "when you find yourself sufficiently in enggeknupfterverwandtschaft with everybody, you may then proceed to advance your peace terms. And now, my dear fellow," said the Baron, with a touch of genuine cordiality, "one word more. Are you in need of money?"
"Yes," I said.
"I thought so. But you will find that you need it less and less as you go on. Meantime, good-bye, and best wishes for your mission."
Such was, such is, in fact, the mission with which I am accredited. I regard it as by far the most important mission with which I have been accredited by the Wilhelmstrasse. Yet I am compelled to admit that up to the present it has proved unsuccessful. My attempts to carry it out have been baffled. There is something perhaps in the atmosphere of this republic which obstructs the working of high diplomacy. For over five months now I have been waiting and willing to dine with the American Cabinet. They have not invited me. For four weeks I sat each night waiting in the J. hotel in Washington with my suit on ready to be asked. They did not come near me.
Nor have I yet received an invitation from the British Embassy inviting me to an informal lunch or to midnight supper with the Ambassador. Everybody who knows anything of the inside working of the international spy system will realize that without these invitations one can do nothing. Nor has the President of the United States given any sign. I have sent ward to him, in cipher, that I am ready to dine with him on any day that may be convenient to both of us. He has made no move in the matter.
Under these circumstances an intrigue with any of the leaders of fashionable society has proved impossible. My attempts to approach them have been misunderstood--in fact, have led to my being invited to leave the J. hotel. The fact that I was compelled to leave it, owing to reasons that I cannot reveal, without paying my account, has occasioned unnecessary and dangerous comment. I connect it, in fact, with the singular attitude adopted by the B. hotel on my arrival in New York, to which I have already referred.
I have therefore been compelled to fall back on revelations and disclosures. Here again I find the American atmosphere singularly uncongenial. I have offered to reveal to the Secretary of State the entire family history of Ferdinand of Bulgaria for fifty dollars. He says it is not worth it. I have offered to the British Embassy the inside story of the Abdication of Constantine for five dollars. They say they know it, and knew it before it happened. I have offered, for little more than a nominal sum, to blacken the character of every reigning family in Germany. I am told that it is not necessary.
Meantime, as it is impossible to return to Central Europe, I expect to open either a fruit store or a peanut stand very shortly in this great metropolis. I imagine that many of my former colleagues will soon be doing the same!
|03-24-2016, 11:35 AM||#47 (permalink)|
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Mrs. Fox: Why did you lie to me?
Mr. Fox: Because I'm a wild animal