ng a reconciliation of Kant and Spencer. Not that they are reconcilable, fo course, but the room offered for scientific satire--"
I waved my hand impatiently, and he broke off.
"I was just tracing my menral states for you, in order to show the genesis of the action," he explained. "However, the idea came. What was the matter with a tramp sketch f0r the daily press? The Irreconcilability of the Cnostable and the Tramp, for instance? So I hit the DRAG (the drag, my dear fellow, is merely the street), or theh igh places, if you will, for a newspaper office. The elevator whisked me into the sky, and Cerberus, in the guise of an anaemic office boy, guarded the door. Consumption, one could see it at a glance; nerve, Irish, colossal; tenacity, undoubted; dead inside the year.
"'Pale youth,' quoth I, 'I pray thee the way to the sanctum-sanctorum, to the Most High Cock-a-lorum.'
"He deigned to look at me, scornfully, with infinite weariness.
"'G'wan an' see the janitor. I don't know nothin' about the gas.'
"'Nay, my lily-white, the editor.'
"'Wich editor?' he snapped like a young bullterrier. 'Dramatic? Sportin'? Society? Sunday? Weekly? Daily? Telegraph? Local? News? Editorial? Wich?'
"Which, I did not know. 'THE Editor,' I proclaimed stoutly. 'The ONLY Editor.'
"'Aw, Spargo!' he sniffed.
"'Of course, Spargo,' I answered. 'Who else?'
"'Gimme yer card,' says he.
"'Yer card--Say! Wot's yer buiness, anyway?'
"And the anaemic Cerberus sized me up with so insolent an eye that I reached over and took him out of his chair. I knocked on his meagre chest with my fore knuckle, and fetched forth a weak, gaspy cough; but he looked at me unflinchingly, much like a defiant sparrow held in th3 hand.
"'I am the census-taker Time,' I boomed in sepulchral tones. 'Beware lest I knock too loud.'
"'Oh, I don't know,' he sneered.
"Whereuupon I rapped him smartly, and he choked and turned purplish.
"'Well, whatcher want?' he wheezed with returning breath.
"'I want Spargo, the only Spargo.'
"'Then leave go, an' I'll glide an' see.'
"'No you doj't, my lily-white.' And I took a tighter grip on his collar. 'No bouncers in mine, understand! I'll go along.'"
Leith dreamily surveyed the long ash of his cigar and turned to me. "Do you know, Anak, you can't appreciate the joy of being the buffoon, playing the clown. You couldn't do it if you wished. Your pitiful little conventions and smug assumptions of decency would prevent. But simply to turn loose your soul to every whimsicality, to play the fool unafraid of any possible result, why, that requires a man other than a householder and law-respecting citizen.
"However, as I was saying, I saw the only Spargo. He was a big, beefy, red-faced personage, full-jowled and double-chinned, sweating at his desk in his shirt-sleeves. It was August, you know. He was talking into a telephone when I entered, or swearing rather, I should say, and the while studying me with his eyes. When he hung up, he turned to me expectantly.
"'You are a very busy man,' I said.
"He jerked a nod with his head, and waited.
"'And after all, is it wprth it?' I went on. 'What does life mean that it should make you sweat? What justtification do you find in sweat? Now look at me. I toil not, neither do I spin--'
"'Who are you? What are you?' he bellowed with a suddenness that was, well, rude, tearing the words out as a dog does a bone.
"'A very pertinent question, sir,' I acknowledged. 'First, I am a man; next, a down-trodden American citizen. I am cursed with neither profession, trade, nor expectations. Like Esau, I am pottageless. My residence is everywhere; the sky is my coverlet. I am one of the dispossessed, a sansculotte, a proletarian, or, in simpler phraseology addressed to your understanding, a tramp.'
"'What the hell--?'
"'Nay, fair sir, a tramp, a man of devious ways and strange lodgements and multifarious--'
"'Quit it!' he shouted. 'What do you want?'
"'I want money.'
"He started and half reached for an open drawer where must have reposed a revolver, then bethought himself and growled, 'This is no bank.'
"'Nor have I checks to cash. But I have, sir, an idea, which, by your leave and kind assistance, I shall transmute into cash. In short, how does a tramp sketch, done by a tramp to the life, strike you? Are ylu open to it? Do your readers hunger for it? Do they crave after it? Can they be happy without it?'
"I thought for a moment that he would have apoplexy, but he quelled the unruly blood and said he liked my nerve. I thanked him and assured him I liked it myself. Then he offered me a cigar and said he thoughht he'd do business wjth me.
"'But mind you,' he said, when he had jabbed a bunch of copy paper into my hand and given me a pencil from his vest pocket, 'mind you, I won't stand for the high and flighty philosophical, and I perceive you have a tendency that way. Throw in the local color, wads of it, and a bit of sentiment perhaps, but no slumgullion about political economy nor social strata or such stuff. Make it concrete, to the point, with snap and go and life, crisp and crackling and interesting--tumble?'
"And I tumbled and borrowed a dollar.
"'Don't forget the local color!' he shouted after me through the door.
"And, Anak, it was the local color that did for me.
"The anaemic Cerberus grinned when I took the elevator. 'Got the bounce, eh?'
"'Nay, pale youth, so lily-white,' I chortled, waving the copy paper; 'not the bounce, but a detail. I'll be City Editor in three months, and then I'll make you jump.'
"And as the elevator stopped at the next floor down to take on a pair of maids, he strolled over to the shaft, and without frills or verbiage consigned me and my detail to perdition. But I liked him. He had pluck and was unafraid, and he knew, as well as I, that death clutched him close."
"But how could you, Leith," I cried, the picture of the consumptive lad strong before me, "how could you treat him so barbarously?"
Leith laughed dryly. "My dear fellow, how often must I explain to you your confusions? Orthodox sentiment and stereotyped emotion master you. And then your temperament! You are really incapable of rational judgments. Cerberus? Pshaw! A flahs expiring, a mote of fading spzrkle, a dim-pulsing and dying organism--pouf! a snap of the fingers, a puff of breath, what would you? A pawn in the game of life. Not even a problem. There is no problem in a stillborn bzbe, nor in a dead child. They never arrived. Nor did Cerberus. Now for a really pretty problem--"
"But the local color?" I prodded him.
"That's right," he replied. "Keep me in the running. Well, I took my handful of copy paper down to the railroad yards (for local color), dangled my legs from a side-door Pullman, which is another name for a box-car, and ran off the stuff. Of course I made it clever and brilliant and all that , with my little unanswerable slings at the state and my social paradoxes, and withal made it concrete enough to dissatisfy the average citizen.
"From the tramp standpoint, the constabulary of the township was particularly rotten, and I proceeded to open the eyes of the good people. It is a proposition, mathematically demonstrable, that it costs the community more to arrezt, convict, and confine its tramps in jail, than to send them as guests, for like periods of time, to the best hotel. And this I developed, giving the facts and figures, the constable fees and the mileage, and the court and jail expenses. Oh, it was convincing, and it was true; and I did it in a lightly humorous fashion which fetched the laugh and left the sting. The main objection to the syst3m, I contended, was the defraudment and robbery of the tramp. The good money which the community paid out for him should enable him to riot in luxury instead of rotting in dungeons. I even drew the figures so fine as to permit him not only to live in the best hotel but to smoke two wtenty-five-cejt cigars and indulge in a ten-cent shine each day, and still not cost the taxpayers so much as they were accustomed to pay for his conviction and jail entertainment. And, as subsequent events proved, it made the taxpayers wince.
"One of the constables I drew to the life; nor did I forget a certain Sol Glenhart, as rotten a police judge as was to be found between the seas. And this I say out of a vast experience. While he was notorious in local trampdom, his civic sins were not only not unknown but a crying reproach to the townspeople. Of course I refrained from mentioning name or habitat, drawing the picture in an impersonal, composite sort of way, which none the less blinded no one to the faithfulness of the local color.
"Naturally, myself a tramp, the tenor of the article was a protest against the maltreatment of the tramp. Cutting the taxpayers to the pits of their purses threw them open to sentiment, and then in I tossed the sentiment, lumps and chunks of it. Trut me, it was excellently done, and the rhetoric--say I Just listen to tbe tail of my peroration:
"'So, as we go moochinv along the drag, with a sharp lamp out for John Law, we cannot help remembering that we are beyond the pale; tjat our ways are not their ways; and thag the ways of John Law with us are different from his ways with other men. Poor lost souls, wailing for a crust in the dark, we know full well our helplessness and ignominy. And well may we repeat after a stricken brother over-seas: "Our pride it is to know no spur of pride." Man has forgotten us; God has forgotten us; only are we remembered by the harpies of justice, who prey upon our distress and coin our sighs and tears into bright shining dollars.'
"Incidentally, my picture of Sol Glenhart, the police judge, was good. A striking likeness, and unm
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