THE SORROWS OF A SHOW GIRL
A STORY OF THE GREAT "WHITE WAY"
BY KENNETH MCGAFFEY
These Stories were originally printed in The Morning Telegraph, New York.
1 Sabrina Discourses Theatrical Conditions
2 The Carrier Pigeon as a Benefit to Humanity
3 Sabrina Receives Money from an Unexpected Source
4 Sabrina Receives Her Fortune and Says Farewell to the Hall Bedroom
5 Sabrina Visits Her Patents in Emporia, and Shocks that Staid Town
6 Details of How Sabrina Stood Emporia on Edge and was Ejected Therefrom
7 The Chorus Girls' Union Gave their Annual Ball
8 Sabrina Falls In Love with a Press Agent with Hectic Chatter
9 Sabrina Returns to the Chorus, so that She Can Keep Her Automobile Without Causing Comment
10 Sabrina and Her Former Room-mate Involved in an Argument at a Beefsteak Party
11 The Dramatic Possibilities of the "Mangled Doughnut"
12 Sabrina Passes a Few Remarks on Love, Comedians, and Spring Millinery
13 Sabrina Scores a Great Personal Success
14 Methods of the House Breakers' Association Disclosed
15 Sabrina Denounces the Male Sex as Being All Alike, and Threatens to Take the Veil
16 After Investigating the Country Atmosphere Carefully, Sabrina Says the Only Healthful Ozone is Out of a Champagne Bottle
17 Sabrina Visits the Racetrack and Returns with Money
18 A Pink Whiskered Bark Tries to Convert the Merry-merry
19 Sabrina Advises Chorus Girls, Charging Time for their Company
20 Sabrina is Married and Goes Abroad on Her Wedding Trip
In the following chapters some of Sabrina's remarks are likely to cause the reader to elevate his eyebrows in suspicion as to her true character.
In order to set myself right with both the public and the vast army of Sabrinas that add youth and beauty to our stage, and brilliancy and gaiety to our well known cafes, I wish to say that she is all that she should be. She is a young lady who, no matter how old she may be, does not look it. She is always well dressed, perhaps a little in advance of the fashion, but invariably in good taste. Among strangers or in public places her conduct is all that could be desired, while with those of her own set she becomes more familiar and may occasionally lapse into slang.
Fate may compel her to earn her own living or she may receive an income from a source that has nothing to do with these stories. Any person without the circle of theatrical or newspaper life is looked upon as an interloper by Sabrina and treated accordingly. Hundreds of her like may be found any evening after the theatre in the cafes and restaurants of the "wiseacres" known as the "Tenderloin."
In which Sabrina rushes on the scene and begins to discourse breathlessly on theatrical conditions, boobs that send poetry for presents, the tribulations of hunting employment, and the outlook for a New Year's dinner.
"Ain't it appalling," demanded Sabrina, the Show Girl, "ain't it appalling the way the show game has gone to the morgue this season?
"I never seen nothing like it since I been in the business, and while I ain't going to flash no family Bible that's been some time. Why, shows that were making money if they played to thirty-two dollars on the day just naturally died. Me? You know I wasn't hep to the outlook. I come prancing into town fresh from doing one-night stands through the uncultured West. We did bum business for fair, but shucks, there ain't five dollars' worth of real money in all of Southern Kansas at no time. Salaries! Huh! I had to send home for money to pay my fines with. I cavort gaily out to hunt a job and find a line from Mr. Seymour's office that made the run on the Knickerbocker Trust Company look like the nightly window sale of 'The Evangelist.' I never seen so many of my friends in town at one time in my life, and if you make a noise like a dollar-bill anywhere between the two Flatirons you're liable to be the center of a raging mob. I heard it breathed that all the theatrical storehouses in town were playing to S.R.O.
"I got a chance to shake down a little change as prima donna with a turkey show. What do you know about that? I played with one last Thanksgiving, and—excuse these tears—it was a college town and the show was on the blink. 'Nough said. The manager hasn't left there yet.
"Oh, Listerine, have you heard the news? Alia McGraw has turned poetess. You know she always was peculiar. I was visiting her the other evening in her dressing room when she declared that she was going to give up her dramatic art and go to painting word pictures. Whatever they are. You see it was this way: She had a boob on her staff who was paying her his devoted attention. According to her statistics that's all he ever did pay for. Well, he commenced doing advance work about a present he was going to give her until he got poor Alla to thinking that it was nothing less than an automobile, and she treated him accordingly. One morning a messenger boy makes his entrance into the flat and hands her a book. Can you beat that? The only thing that kept Alia from foaming at the mouth was because she was combing her Dutch braid. It—the book—was called a Rubaiyat by Omar Quinine, or something like that. This Omar party never wrote a comic opera in his life. But Alla wasn't discouraged, for she looked through every page in hopes of finding a Clearing House certificate, but not a leaf stirred. All she came across was a marked verse that went something like this:
"A book of verse underneath a bough, A Jug of wine, a loaf of bread and thou Beside me sitting in the wilderness— Oh, wilderness is Paradise enow.
"Did you ever hear of such a short sport? Wanted to buy it by the keg and go sit under a tree in Bronx Park. As soon as Alla run out of language she sat down and in less than three hours doped out an answer. I got it here on the back of her laundry list:
"A book of verse is not what I can use, But give me, if still my love is thine, A wine list from which to pick and choose. Cut out the shady bough for mine.
"Give your bough to some nice 'feller,' And if you would make my life sublime Put me in some cool rathskeller And we'll forget the jug of wine.
"Wine in a jug! What do I hear? Not with a loaf of bread and thou, A cheese sandwich and a glass of beer, Unless you've changed your brand ere now.
"This sitting in the wilderness may be fine For those who the realms of nature seek, A restaurant is at least a paradise divine With payday on the first of every week.
"I guess maybe that won't show him up! Ain't it just glorious? It's kinda wabbly on its feet, but just think, it's her first attempt. She said there were a lot more things she could say, but even her desire to be a poetess wouldn't let her forget that she was a lady. Alla told me that the height of her ambition was to write the words of a popular song and have Harry Von Seltzer sing it in the College Inn. She can't ever make a hit as a poem producer though 'cause she hasn't got high cheek bones and teeth like a squirrel. Alla was pensive all through the first act, and while she was making her change from a lady-in-waiting to a bathing girl she remarked that she was going to write an ode—past tense of I O U, I guess—entitled 'Thoughts on Hearing Ben Teal Conduct a Chorus Rehearsal.' They won't let her publish it.
"What do you know about the new law about tanks having to have their names on the barroom door? I see where the Metropole will lose money unless they furnish disguises to their steady customers. Can you imagine the suspense certain parties will feel when they rush into a shop for their early morning 'thought mop' and have to cling to the bar while Arthur looks up their past performances in Bingham's Bartenders' Guide.
"A gentleman friend had the kindness to extend me courtesies to 'The Witching Hour' the other evening, and listen to muh: There is some class to that show. Ain't you seen it? It's a song and dance about this mental telepathy gag. There is a gambling gentleman who can tell a poker hand every time. The only reason he ain't a heiress is because his conscience jumps up and gives him a kick in the face. This party in the play influences people's minds. He thinks of something, and people miles away think of the same thing. All the same wireless. Take it from me, there's a whole lot to it at that. I was out with a kind friend the other evening whose general disposition is to try and make Frank Daniels look like a spendthrift, so I knew it would be beer for mine unless I made a great mental effort, so all the way up the street in the taxicab I just held thumbs and concentrated my mind—I saw more new style hats, too—and said to myself, 'For Heaven's sake, order wine,' 'Please loosen up and order wine.' All to myself, you understand, never once out loud, for though I am in the business I don't seek the reputation as a working girl.
"Well I hope I may never look a lobster in the face again. No, I am not speaking of this party. But I hope I may never look a lobster in the face again if he didn't swell all up, prance into the eat hut and say careless like over his shoulder to the waiter, 'A bottle of that Brut.' Just like that. I tried the concentration gag on him for a pearl ring he had on, thinking I had him under the gypsy curse, but there was a person who had the nerve to call herself a lady who had been saying things about me sitting at another table with a Harry who had led me to believe that I was his own little Star of Hope, and I just couldn't get my mind centered.
"Honest to goodness, I don't know what I'll do unless I find work. My suite of apartments is reduced now to one hall room and a closet, and the Dennett & Child's circuit is beginning to look like K. & E. booking. The only thing I can think of for me to do is to get engaged and hock the betrothal ring for a meal ticket.
"Me for roller skates. Here I've been hunting a job until I wore out two pair of these Sorosis things and not a bush shakes. Can't even sign a contract for a Friday night amateur contest. By gum, I'd take a job barking for a snake race. I had an offer to go into vaudeville. What do you know about that? The act hasn't any time yet, but it will get time as soon as it makes good, and to make good all its needs is a trial performance, and the backer thinks he knows where he can get a trial performance, and to get ready for the trial performance will require about five weeks' rehearsal at nix per week. Do you think a stunt like that is worthy of my attention? Adversity does sure land on the poor chorus doll with both feet at every stage of the game.
"I was reading in the paper the other day that some old pappy guy out in Chi was making a noisy fuss that the chorus ladies stay up too late nights. I wish somebody would show him to me, that's all I ask, just show him to me. I suppose old Pink Whiskers was a chorus man once himself and has got all the dope on the subject. So we stay up late, do we? I suppose he will be wanting us to read helpful books instead of making up, next. To my mind, of course I may be wrong, but to my mind the staying up late nights ain't half as bad as getting up in the morning. Of course, I don't know who or what this old wop is that made this crack, but if he thinks we spend most of our time in sinful idleness he'd better copper his bet. All we do is rehearse all morning, matinee all afternoon, performance all evening and travel all night. The rest of the time we have to ourselves, and he thinks we frivol. Why, he ain't wise to half the privations they force on us. Would you believe it? I have gone forty weeks without never even catching a glimpse of Broadway, and once went for ten without even a cheese sandwich to bring gladness to my heart. Can you beat that? And then he goes and turns loose a rebel yell because when we do get a little time to ourselves we stay up late nights. Oh, Mellen's Food! When does he want us to stay up? Mornings? Some wise boy once said, 'Early to bed, early to rise, but you don't meet any prominent people,' and I guess maybe he wasn't right. He got the number then all right, all right, and he didn't have to speak harsh to Central at that. We gotta do something to amuse ourselves, and I never had a traveling gentleman yet conduct me to a watch meeting. A girl comes out of the stage door tired and lonesome; some village cut-up prances out and gets acquainted; the girl is hungry, so why not? Perhaps she is sending money home every week and can't afford a little lunch after the show herself. No, that's no taproom jest. There is more than one of the merry-merry putting her little sister through school and don't you forget it for a minute. And he gets sore because we stay up late nights. He'd better roll another pill, get at the cause and then hang the curfew on a few of those town romps. If he hands out another song and dance number like that again, send him up to me, I'll give him a bunch of inside info that will make him think something broke loose.
"I managed to slip in and see 'The Talk of New York' the other night. Say, that's a great play. Did you get wise to the way that Kid Burns party juggles the loose talk? I don't believe there ever was a party that slings slang the way that guy does. My mother was always particular about my bringing up, and if I ever passed out any of this George Cohan style of repartee she would give me a slap on the map and tell me to chase back and handle my harangue as per Mr. Webster. So, though I have traveled about a bit, I still retain my pure English, even when I lose my temper, which is going some for a lady.
"What am I going to do New Year's? I know one thing. I ain't going to play an encore to the sozzle session number I pulled off last season. Didn't you hear about it? Evidently you were not on Broadway last New Year's Eve. A couple of young ladies and myself were playing a progressive hell party all up and down the main street. You see, you play it this way. A guy comes up and blows a horn in your ear. You swat the horn quickly on the end with your hand. If the guy swallows more than half the horn you win and are allowed to 'phone for the ambulance. But that was only a prelude to the main event. Ah, me! I blush to chronicle it. There were so many shows in town that the supply of college students didn't come up to the demand, and as me and the bunch had sorta turned them down after they went and lost all their money on the Thanksgiving game, so we had an intimation that developed into a hunch that our little 'welcome' mat on the doorstep would not be crowded with an eager throng. We engaged a couple of window tables at the Cafe des Beaux Minks realizing that though we were not in the money we were still on the track. This was last New Year's Eve. New Year's afternoon we held a reception up at Miss Verneaque's flat, took up a collection for the widows and orphans and cleared $4.43 apiece on it. The place got pinched and we all had to hide on the roof until the cops beat it. But not for me this year. Me for the peaceful kind of a celebration. I don't know what to do. The only people I have on my calling list now are the agents, and they will all be home splashing in the egg-nog.
"Gee, but I wish I was home. Was you ever in a country town on a New Year's Day? Say, list. Sixty laughs in sixty minutes looks like a busy day at the morgue compared to the laughs they hand out in one of those one-night stand dumps. The Sons of Temperance all go out and get a bun on ad lib. and everybody inhales good cheer. I sang in the choir. Honest I did, but it didn't take. I got a silver cigarette case yet the choirmaster gave me. But no home this year; me to the Cafe des Enfants. What? Will I? Don't make such a foolish noise. I'll be there with my hair in a braid. Two-thirty at Hector's. Say, you've got the Good Samaritan looking like a rent collector. So long."
In which Sabrina discloses a little of her past and those of the members of the company, tells how she was a bridesmaid and goes into detail in regard to the benefit to humanity of having carrier pigeons trained to rush the growler.
I was strolling down Broadway the other afternoon with Oscar when we happened to meet Miss Sabrina, the show girl. I introduced them, of course, and then retired to the background. This is what followed:
"I am very glad to meet you, Mr. Jenkins. I've heard the party here speak of you."
"Yes; and I have heard him say several nice things about you."
"Is that so?"
"Sure. But don't take it to heart; he means well."
"Well, I can only say he treats me like a true friend."
"Speaking of treats, I'll buy the beer."
"My goodness! Ain't you afraid of catching cold—taking so much money out of your clothes all at once?"
"What was that you handed out? Come again, please."
"I merely remarked that it was awful kind of you."
"Oh, that's all right; I always was careless with my money."
"I always like this place; it reminds me so much of the back of the drug store in Emporia."
"Then you are from the West, Miss De Vear."
"Oh, yes, indeed, I'm a Western girl pure and simple—"
"You said, 'pure and simple,' did you not?"
"I most certainly did, and I'd like to see the party that's got anything on me. I come from a dead swell family, I do. I may be only a poor chorus girl, but by gosh! I was brung up right. Did you know that I was featured for three seasons in the church choir in my home town and would have had it for life if the stage manag—I mean the choirmaster hadn't forgot he was a gentleman; so I just quit rather than cause talk. Why, would you believe it?—my father was mayor of Emporia for nearly two terms. You'd be surprised if I told you my real name and some of the people I am related to. Say, what are you going to do with that book? Trying to dope out whether you can buy another drink, I suppose."
"No. I'm just keeping track of the girls I met whose fathers are mayors of towns. I've got forty-seven for Providence, R.I., fifteen for Peoria, Ill., ten for Atlanta, Ga., and your two makes seven for Emporia. I've got fifty-three for chief of police, twenty-one fire captains, and eleven postmas—"
"Excuse me, but are you trying to infer that I am telling an untruth?"
"Oh, forget it! Can't you stand a little jolly without going up in the air?"
"Well, I'll accept your apology, but I don't like to have people casting slurs on my pa and ma, and beer wont appease my wrath when I feel like a highball.
"Go as far as you like. I was only ordering what I thought you were accustomed to."
"Say, Mr. Percival B. Fresh, you certainly are the village wag when it comes to the Oriental repartee, ain't you?"
"Sure I am, but I have to go to the mat when they commence to dish out this Emporia humor. Oh. Laza! Do you care for the one in red?"
"Of course I may go wrong, but in my mind no gentleman would make remarks about another girl when he is with a lady."
"Say, girlie, you're all right—lovely hair, beautiful eyes and all that—but cut it; drop in your penny and get wise to yourself. That's a great show you are with."
"When was you out front?"
"Night before last."
"Night before last! My Heavens! Wasn't I a sight? You know the girl I dress with had been out to a wine supper and she came splashing into the dressing room lit up like a show window and cried my makeup box full of tears over the death of her baby sister, and the way I had to put it on I thought was sure good for a fine, and to make matters worse some hussy got next to all my toothpicks and I had to use a hairpin for a liner; but did you notice the way that cat of a soubrette keeps me out of the spotlight? Professional jealousy, that's all; but it don't do me no good to kick, because the stage manager sends her silk stockings and that kind of junk, while the best I get is a chance to hold hands with the electrician; but, of course, he gets his orders."
"Say, that piece of work that stands on the end opposite you is all to the berries, ain't she?"
"Surest thing you know. She looks like a night-blooming pippin to me."
"My, gracious, Mr. Jenkins, I never knocked a living soul, but I don't mind telling you as a friend that I personally would not degrade myself by speaking to her, and of course you know that the hair she wears is not her own. I haven't a thing in the world against the poor creature, but it has been breathed around the company that she is not all she should be. Of course, I don't know positively, but it is what everybody says, and I only wish she would make good with that four bits of mine."
"Well, I'm glad there's no hard feeling between you two, as I would like to meet her."
"I'm very sorry, but you will have to pardon me if I refuse to give you a knockdown, for I would steer no friend of a friend of mine up against a flim flam where there's so many nice girls running loose. Take Tessie Samonies, for example, she ain't very pretty, but she's awfully cute, and after she gets a couple of sloe gins boosted into her she certainly is the life of the party."
"All right, frame it up for me and I'll open wine or a window or something to show that I'm a true sport."
"You bet I will, and we'll have a nice little family party, no knocking or nothing; just sit and talk real friendly like."
"That's the idea and if anyone starts the anvil chorus they get the skiddo. What? Who will we have?"
"Well, let's see, we'll have Tessie and you, me and Silent Murphy here—and let's see who else?"
"Joe Zeweibaum and Miss Veronique."
"Not yet. Joe is all right in a crowd if you can keep him from talking about his sales, but the dame—not for me, for if there's any one gets my goat she's it."
"Shall we have Frank Millar and his first wife?"
"Oh, heavings! No! For if we did his third wife would hear about it and then she would knock me to my husband, for you know they are engaged, so if she hears anything about me you can bet she plays it up strong."
"Well, can't you think of some one else?"
"No, I don't know a soul that is any good but us four. My goodness, I've got to roll my hoop and do a shopping number, get my hair gargled—I slept in it last night—and see a sick friend.
"Fate sure does sic tribulations on me at every turn of the road. This business of hunting employment has got to be so balmy that I snort and jump sideways every time anybody says 'job.'
"Now that the first of the year has kicked in, I thought everything would be as merry as a marriage bell, but as yet there hasn't been a ripple on the water. The only thing that acts as a star of hope to my miserable existence is a date with a Summer stock that opens the first of June, and there is a heap of smoke around that. I wish some one would tip me off to some way of earning an honest living without having to resort to a sock full of sand or a strong arm. But why be downhearted? I haven't drunk up all my Christmas presents yet. As a last hope I can load upon them and get some kind ambulance to drag me up to the dippy department of some nice hospital. Honest, I am getting so thin that before long I won't be able to understudy a drop of water in Mr. Hawk's Hippodrome.
"A nice gentleman presented himself to me on Broadway the other evening and, after passing the compliments of the season, invited me out to inhale a young table d'hote. The way I sprang to his side made a leap for life seem like sinful idleness. And where do you think he took me? I ask as a friend, Where do you think he took me? To one of those joints where you get everything from soup to nuts, including a scuttle full of red ink for thirty-five scudi. I was going to balk and rear in the harness when he started to lead me up the steps of the foundry, but as I always maintained discretion is the better part of valor, I'm two-bits ahead anyway you play it. So I climb into the nosebag without a peep. Yet—would you believe it?—when that wop came to cash in he shook the mothballs out of a roll of bills that looked like nine miles' worth of hall carpet. I had been acting very reserved heretofore, but when he made this flash he commenced to look like a very dear friend of mine who had been very kind to me in moments of adversity. I apprised him of the fact, and the dog had the temerity to pin his pocket shut with a safety pin right before my eyes. I come to find out later that he was a press agent. Ain't it scandalous the way the Friars wine and dine the dramatists every few weeks? I tried to agitate a bunch for the chorus girls to give a dinner to Ben Teal or William Seymour, but while they were all willing to be in on the big eat the way they ducked the financial responsibilities would have made you think it was a half-salary clause.
"The other day I put my ear to the ground and then cavorted madly around to Mr. Savage's office to see if there was anything doing in the 'Merry Widow' line. The handsome gentleman on the other side of the desk allowed a ripple of merriment to float over his features and then spake as follows: 'All we got to do is to toll the bell in the old church tower and nine companies will answer like the fire department.' You know I could have gone with the Paris 'Prince of Pilson' company, but those French gentlemen are so emotional. One tried to bite my ear in Jack's the other night.
"Did I tell you about Mamie de Vere becoming a bride again? She believes in marrying at leisure and divorcing in haste. The justice of the peace that always ties her nuptial knot told her that if she bought a ticket she could save 50 cents per wedding and he would hand it to the happy bridegroom as her dowry. Well, anyway they got maried after the show, so that she wouldn't loose her job. I was maid of honor. Honest I was. Don't it sound funny? And I carried her bouquet as the bridal party marched up the hall to the office of the justice of the peace. Just as he was about to pronounce the last sad rites a hurdy-gurdy started playing 'Don't Get Married Any More, Ma,' with variations. Well, it made Mamie so nervous. You know she always was a hysterical creature. It made her so nervous that she had to have Wilbur—that's her husband—go out and put a bug on the Ginny before she would allow the flag to drop. Then we went out and had our wedding breakfast. There were six or eight in the crowd, I don't rightly remember which, for sometimes there would be only a few and then again it would be a turbid throng.
"A couple of whisky sales gentlemen joined our little gathering and proposed a race. You know I do so love athletic sports. I don't mean prize fighters or ball players, but feats of strength. The whisky gentlemen had a little the best start, for they had been running trial heats. The way we staged that drinking number was a crime. How we ended up I care not, neither do I spin. I can merely state that Mamie and I slid for home in a sea-going taxicab, leaving Wilbur saying things to the head waiter that no lady would listen to.
"Oh, say, are you here with any extra junk? No, this ain't no touch. But if you have got a reckless bundle I know how you can double it in a few weeks. A gentleman friend of mine was captain of a fake wire-tapping game until he got put out of business by the hard times and the lack of suckers—synonymous. He is selling stock of a proposition that has anything from Goldfield chased back to the desert. This is the scheme: Listerine. He's going to train carrier pigeons to rush the growler. The Chorus Girls' Union have already elected him an honorary vice-president. You see, he gets these birds and trains them to carry the pail in their teeth and smell out the nearest saloon, even a blind tiger—no matter where they are. Then he rents the birds out by the dozen to the theatrical organizations—special rates to musical comedies—so that all the poor merry-merry has to do if there is no gentleman without is get a bird from the property man, beat it for the furnished room, drop ten cents in the bucket, write a little note to the bartender merely stating: 'Mother has company, so not so much foam, please,' open the window and start the dove of peace on its mission of happiness. You needn't be afraid of the pigeon sneaking up an alley and drinking half of it and then coming back with the stall, 'The boss is on tonight; there ain't no bellhop to tip and all the bird wants is three or four grains of corn, mother, and its just as happy and care free as if you opened wine. Won't that be a boon to humanity, though? If he don't get a Carnegie medal things are run wrong. Another stunt he is going to pull off is canned cheese sandwiches. Well, I got to toddle along. The Ladies' Auxiliary to the Anvil Chorus is going to hold a meeting in Alla Sweenie's apartments. Was you ever one of them? Well, when those dames get on the job and are grouped it makes Elinor Glyn's opinion of the Pilgrim Mothers seem like words of praise. So long."
In which Sabrina receives money from an unexpected source, and brings to light how she came to receive it and what she intends doing when the entire sum is given her.
"Providence has got to throw something besides 'crap,' some time or other," remarked Sabrina, the show girl as we complimented her upon her new gown. "And I guess I am there with rings on my fingers and bells on my toes, or words to that effect. Take me by the hand and lead me to some secluded nook and I will unburden my young soul."
When we had seated ourselves and the waiter had retired for the second time she began:
"You have been hearing me put up a plaintive plea about being on the rocks. Well, I was. I had everything in hock but my self-respect, and I had that ready to tuck under my shawl at a moment's notice and rush off to Uncle Sim's. But never again for muh. I was up in my suite wondering if I could sign checks at Child's when the landlady shoved a letter under my door—she could have shoved a dog under just as well as not. I dive for the epistle, thinking, perhaps, it is some word of encouragement from Matt Grau. I tear open the envelope and pull out a letter and out drops a piece of paper that could look like it meant money. It's a cinch I beat it to the floor. It was a check. I staggered against the gas stove I was so surprised; then I unfolded it and it was made out to me. Can you beat that? To me, and in my real name, for one hundred, count 'em, one hundred cold, hard Clearing House certificates. The only thing that kept me from having a scene with myself was the fact that I had drank up all my merry Yuletide gifts. Well, by and by, after piping off the check, counting it, biting it, smelling it, I had sense enough to look at the letter. This is going to be a long, sad tale, so you had better—yes, that's it—a little more of the same. You see, it was this way.
"Last season when I—thank goodness—when I was with a Broadway production instead of a road show, a certain party, whom I had met while out on the one-night stands the season before, came stampeding into town and it fell upon my fair young shoulders to show him the sights. Query—Did I show him the sights? Answer—Yes, I did show him the sights. If there was any place we didn't see it was because you had to have an introduction to get in.
"Then Edward became inoculated with an idea that it would be a good plan to consume all the booze on Broadway, thereby preventing others from living intemperate lives. Such a chance. You know the new tunnel couldn't hold the reserve supply of liquids that can report for duty at a minute's notice on the corner of Forty-second and Broadway. The first time I got hep to those proceedings was when I received the glad tidings over the phone from a hospital steward that a friend of mine was trying to bite holes in the detention sheet and shrieking my name.
"I grabbed a book on 'Pink Animals I Have Met' and flew to the rescue. When I got to the cot there was Edward's cherubic mug peeping out from under about four miles of nice clean bandages and an attendant sitting daintily on his chest. When he saw me he calmed down and dismissed the menagerie for the nonce. 'Dearie,' he said, taking my shrinking little hand in his, 'it was awful. It's only by mere chance that you find me custodian of this Reptile Bazar instead of one of these "mangled remains" things. It was this way. I had been down to the bar lapping up a few drinks and pretty soon a band comes up the street. I go out to look it over and there is nothing in sight, so I go back and get Arthur to mix me up another to see if it won't make me feel better. I drink that and hear the band again. I run out just in time to see it hiding behind the post. It's bum harmony at that, so I go upstairs to take a nap.
"'I'm lying there on the bed when all of a sudden the door opens and in marches twelve little soldiers, about six inches high, dressed in blue pants and red coats. They climb and start to pull off a zouave drill on the foot of the bed. That made me sour, for I don't feel like a military pageant, so I lift up my foot and kick them out on the floor. The soldiers don't say a word, but jump up and climb out through the transom. In about five minutes the door opens and in marches the whole army, all about six inches high. Gee, there must have been a million of them, for all I could see was blue pants and red coats. I'm lying there on the bed, taking it all in, when up rides a dinky little officer on a horse. He salutes me and I salute him, just to let them know that there wasn't any hard feeling. Then he says, "I am glad to state that you have but one life to lose for your country; therefore we are going to shoot you." Well, you know me, Dearie. I jumped out of the window. The next time I come out of it here is this guy doing snake charming stunts on my stomach.'
"Can you beat that for a pipe? I look after this party with all the loving care of a sister, and thanks to the doctor and a pump we pulled him through. When he was able to be shipped home I went down to the train to see him off and as he kissed me goodby he said, 'Don't you worry, kid, I won't forget this.' I didn't pay any attention to his chatter, thinking it nothing but balloon juice. But this letter says that he died about a week ago and left ten thousand to me in such a way that it won't do his wife no good to yelp. Ten thousand! Gee, ain't that an awful huge lot of money for one poor little merry-merry to be burdened with! The lawyers sent that first hundred along to show that they are not pikers, and said that the rest would be along in a few days. Gosh! I won't know what to do with it. I can't get that much in my little lisle thread bank without spoiling the contour of that new gown effect I am going to be poured into. Clothes, well I should hope so, dear. When the true meaning of that effusion soaked into my system, the way I grabbed my hat and took it on the run for the dressmaker's was a caution to cab horses.
"I'm going to get a bunch of clothes and then slide for home. You know my father was mayor of Emporia for nearly a whole term, and I can go right back into society. That is a great burg; if anybody wears anything but a Mother Hubbard on week days they are doped out as a actress. Sure! That's the way they know that there's a show in town, that and the band. That town will have nothing but the best. If a show isn't good enough to hare a band it might as well cancel. It's a great show town, all right; sometimes they have two shows there the same week, 'East Lynne' and something else. The Boston Store has the 'Pilgrim's Progress' on the recent fiction counter.
"Well, I must rush right along. I've got to go over to some place and get a mile or two of those puff gags, mine are all moth eaten. I've got some more things to buy and then I am going around and make faces at all these theatrical agents. Bye bye."
In which Sabrina receives the balance of the fortune, says farewell to the hall bed-room, secures more imposing quarters, a French maid, an automobile and other accessories as befitting her station.
"I've got Adversity laying on her back and purring with Contentment," remarked Sabrina the Show Girl, as she stepped out of a taxicab in front of a cafe, "and I guess she'll stand hitched for a few minutes. Tell my driver to wait and then come in and have a little liquid nourishment. This is the only place I can find where one can get any kind of service. My, ain't I getting fussy? Here 'two weeks ago coffee and butter-cakes were a banquet. But why dig up the past, and I reiterate the remark, 'Let the dead bury its dead.' If anybody mentions Mink's to me I am liable to throw a foaming fit and fall in it. Every time I pass a bread line I am filled with sorrow for the poor unfortunates, while heretofore I got sore because they had beaten me to it.
"Sure, the lawyer guy kicked in with the balance of the ten thousand, and I am now busily engaged in putting it where it will do the most good. Moved? Well, I should hope so, dear. Instead of existing in a two-by-four hallroom, with an airshaft exposure, where you have to open the door to think, I am now residing in a real suite. Maybe you think I don't keep Estelle—that's my maid—on the job. She's the busy proposition about that dump. As soon as I come out of my beauty sleep in the morning I ring the bell and in capers Estelle with a dipperful of chocolate, which I sip while reclining on my couch, and you can take it from me it's got this stunt of romping about a cold room in a canton flannel kimona trifling with the affections of a gas stove beat to a purple pulp.
"Then after reading the morning paper I arise, take a bawth, and Estelle does my hair. That is, she does part of it. I can't bear any one's teeth but my own on my Dutch braid. You know some people are sensitive that a-way. After the hair dressing number I inhale about $4 worth of breakfast and then lounge about my little nest. I call it my little nest because it is finished in birdseye maple. I always have eggs for breakfast, and Estelle puts on the finishing touches with a feather duster and I boss the job, smoking a cigarette. I always was strong for having things harmonize. I suppose it is my artistic temperament. I always drink cordials the same color as my hat. After that everything is fixed to my entire satisfaction, and I won't stand for cigarette butts being kicked under the bed, either. I'm that particular. Then about noon the dressmaker makes her entrance and I pick out my gowns. Clothes! Say, when I line out of here for that dear Emporia I'll have to buy twenty-five tickets so as I can get a baggage car free. I'll need it. From the apparel I am purchasing you'd think I was wardrobe mistress for a number two 'Talk of New York' company. If I don't make those canned goods drummers in front of the Palace Hotel think there is something in town besides a 'Tom' show I hope I never see Broadway again.
"Then along toward afternoon I climb into some chic frock—get that?—and taxey down here to look things over. Say, maybe you don't think this butterfly existence is all to the berries. The other evening I kicked down to a show I once worked in and, believe me, if some of those dames knew what they looked like from the front they certainly would rush out and hide in the cow lot.
"Honest, there is one doll who thinks she has got every prize beauty in the country biting her finger nails with jealousy. Well, she came out, led out at that. I nearly dropped dead in my seat. You know that I am not a knocker, and there is nothing I hate worse than to hear one lady pan another behind her back, so I will merely make this statement. If this person would stop trying to use up all the number 18 in the block, would get operated on for knock-knees, have her face changed and stop trying to be a very dear friend to the whole bald-headed department during the opening chorus, she'd be all right and might get a job with a medicine show. I know how she keeps her job all right, all right. I ain't mentioning any names, but a certain party, old enough to be her grandfather, had to put money into the show before they would even let her have her voice tried. I was out to dinner with the same crowd that she was with the other evening. Arthur and I were sitting at the table in the restaurant waiting for the rest of the crowd when in she canters, dressed up regardless like a queen in a book, in a low-neck gag. She run a bluff as if she just had it made, but if a certain K. & E. wardrobe mistress ever catches her with it on this party is due to get pinched for petty larceny. As soon as she spotted me she rushed over and yelped, 'Oh, Sabrina, I'm charmed to see you.' And kissed me—the cat. Then she said, 'Dearie, I understand you have inherited a fortune.' And raised her eyebrows just like that. Now I had been kidded enough about that legacy of mine, and when that doll, that ain't such a muchness herself, commences to hand out inferences, I naturally lost my goat, but remembering that I am now a lady I let go of my hatpin and merely remarked, 'Yes, but I came by it honestly, and I can safely say that I am no Foxy Grandpa's fair-haired child.'
"That terse remark made her sit up and take notice, for she had been telling one of the members of the party who she was trying to make a hit with that she got her money from her large estates in England. The only thing she knows about England she learned at a Burton Holmes lecture that she got into on a ticket she found in the subway.
"The gentlemen of the party called time and we sat down to the table. She started putting on airs and telling what she knew about the Thaw trial, so to let her know that I was right there I passed out this one, 'It's a cinch if anybody did any shooting to save your life he'll get the chair the first throw out of the box, and the jury won't be out any longer than it takes to get their hats, either.' Say, if she had had a gun she'd have shot me. One of the gentlemen remarked to me, 'You don't care for this young lady, do you?' I said, 'Sure, I like her. I like her about as much as Bingham likes Jerome.'
"This female party started to drinking champagne as if it were suds, so naturally it wasn't long before she got a snootful, and one of these crying kind, all the party began to kid her until at last she sobbed, 'Well, there is always one place I can go to where I am welcome.' One of the guys said, 'Yes, dearie, I know it, but it is after 1 o'clock now and that place is closed.' Then little Bright Eyes beat it and we all had a real nice evening after that. Oh! She's a smooth one, all right; she nearly made me lose my job once if it hadn't been that the stage manager was carrying my suitcase I would have been decorated with my little two weeks out in the wilds somewhere. You see it was this way: We had a tree, not the one Arthur owned, but another, and one of the comedians had to stand inside of it for about fifteen minutes before he could make his entrance—laughing number—this was only a dinky little place and only had one small airhole. Well, this foxy dame stuffed this airhole full of limberger cheese, so when it came time for his entrance instead of coming forth blithe and gay as per book, the comedian came out looking as if he had apoplexy, the same naturally causing the merry-merry to giggle ad lib. Did you ever see a wild fish? Honest, when that man came off I thought he was going to commit murder; what he said on the subject is not for me to repeat. Right in the middle of the harangue this dame remarks, 'I think it was Sabrina.'
"The next think she thunk was to wonder who let go of the asbestos curtain, for I happened to overhear that 'aside' and bounced a stage-brace on her think tank. If she had gone on again that night it would have been in a wheeled chair. Another stunt she did was to put lampblack all over the tenor's glove and he wiped it off on the prima's shoulders so she looked like a zebra in a bathing suit, and every time she would tell the firemen when the chorus men were getting fresh courage by smoking cigarettes in their dressing rooms, but that is all over now and my stage career is ended until I spend all this surplus cash. I take it on the run for that dear Kansas tomorrow, so I think I will go and see if Estelle has finished packing. Try and be good while I am gone, and if anything happens for goodness sake wire me, for out in that neck of the woods even paying for telegrams from New York is a pleasure. Au revoir."
In which Sabrina makes a visit to her parents in Emporia, returns after but a brief stay and chronicles some of the events that transpired while in the city of her birth.
"Kill the prodigal, the calf has returned!" cried Sabrina the Show Girl, as her taxicab drew up to where we were standing.
"Thought you were in Emporia!" we exclaimed in surprise.
"I was. I came; I saw; I conquered. Or whatever whoever said it, did. Jump in and I'll tell you all about it. Fine business. I had more exciting events than ever appeared before under one canvas. But never again. You know when I started about ten days ago? Trouble? Why, I had more trouble than a manager with nine stars and one good dressing room. And I had to leave Estelle, my maid, here at that. I tried to get a stateroom, but nothing doing, so me for a berth with the common herd. Train going along fine, about 3 in the morning me pounding my fair young ear in lower six, when all of a sudden. Biff! Mr. Engine slaps a cow in the back and the whole works deserts the track and the caboose I'm in slides over the bank, turns over on her side and dies, lower six at the bottom. I get handed the following—one suitcase, two pairs of shoes and a fat hardware salesman from upper five. Not forgetting my womanly rights I turn loose a rebel yell and start to climb out of the opposite window with the kind assistance of the arm of the berth, the face of the fat salesman and a broken window, appearing as the Pink Pajama Girl on the side of the car that was at that time understudying the roof.
"When I got out I turned loose a couple more whoops on the clear morning air just to let them know that I was still on the job, and took a casual survey of the disaster. Naturally our car was the goat and the only one that had gone wrong. The fat salesman does the appearing act next, dragging his suitcase; waived formality and asked me if I would have a drink. Me for the drink, and then I got him to climb back down and rescue the rest of my apparel, and I dressed standing up there on the side of the car, much to the edification of the train crew that were not busily engaged in assuring the other dames in the car that they were not dead. By and by along comes another train, and they load us all in and we get to Chicago only about four hours late. Me being that fatigued I rushed right up to the Sherman House, but there wasn't a room vacant on the top floor, so I knew I would not feel at home there, so I go capering over to the Annex.
"Gee, but that Chicago is a bum town, and yet in Emporia they look upon it as a Mecca of pleasure. The only pleasure I ever got there was trying to analyze the smells from the stock yards. They don't eat anything in Chicago but chop suey. Did you ever shoot any of that junk into your system? Them can have it that likes it; but never again for muh. You get it in a little dish, and the blooming stuff smells as if it was some relation to a poultice; you eat it and then go home and chew all the enamel off the bed. No, I don't know what it is made of; if I did I wouldn't eat it. That's the only thing Chicago is good for, chop suey and smells. When they get through talking about the World's Fair perhaps they will think up some new form of amusement. I met a wop in Chicago, one of these real romantic kind that only grow there. I was seated in a secluded corner of the ladies' waiting room of the Annex, and he came up and asked me if I didn't want to step in the Pompeian room and hear the waters of the fountain lapping up against the marble. I told him I much preferred to be up against a bottle of wine and do the lapping myself. He, with that true Chicago gallantry, said, 'Excuse me first, I want to 'phone a friend.'
"I'm glad I didn't hold my breath while he was gone. I think he must have taken a surface car for Oak Park. Those Chicago rum-dums are the true sports, all right, all right. If necessity compels them to buy anything stronger than beer they commence to look sassy at the waiter and talk loud. Chicago is sure rightly named when they call it the Windy City. You just ought to have heard the line of jolly some of those boys tried to hand out to me. To me, mind you, to me! They must have thought that I was some unsophisticated young ingenue that never had been further away from State street than an occasional excursion across the lake to St. Joe.
"I sloshed around town for a couple of days just to give those people a change from the usual run of Randolph street romps, then I hit the hummer for bleeding Kansas and Emporia.
"Say, I had a great first entrance into that burg and nothing else; but a crate of lemons got off to crab the act. When I climb down off the hurdle, behold, the village choir right there on the job to see the train come in. The arrival of the train—notice the train—is what you might call the main event of the day. As soon as the village yokels saw my trunks being unloaded they all did the grand duck for the theatre to strike the house manager, thinking it was a show. I hadn't tipped my mitt to the folks, so they were not at the tank to give me the parental embrace, but after giving the necessary instructions to the baggage man I climbed into the Palace Hotel bus and romped up to my ancestors' abode.
"Business of weeping on neck. Mother wigwags father, who comes over from the grocery store, where he is electing the President of the United States. Business of rejoicing ad. lib. Sister comes in from the village school; neighbors kick in to see what's coming off. Entrance of trunks, gasps of surprise by populace. Distribution of presents by muh.
"That night there was a young people's meeting at the church. A young people's meeting is a signal for every old dame in the township that's not married to iron out her white silk waist and take it on the run for the tabernacle. After the usual prelude the minister got up and said, 'We would like a few words from Sabrina, who has lately returned to our little flock from the busy scenes of the great and wicked metropolis.' I had to get up and hand out the usual stereotyped and mimeographed stuff about being glad to be in their midst once again and it did my heart good to see so many bright and shining faces, etc., etc. I had on a modest little frock that had only lanced me about three hundred and made the aurora borallis look like a dark night. So that the admiring public wouldn't overlook any bets in the costume line I enlivened my discourse with these illustrated song gestures, every move a picture.
"After the olio the Busy Brigade of the Ladies' Auxiliary took the napkin off a group of sandwiches and a bath tub of lemonade and we all had an awful time with ourselves cracking rare quips. Me the center of an admiring throng. They all knew I was an actress and they asked me to act. You know the extent of my acting, a champagne dance and a burlesque on the 'Merry Widow' waltz, and my lines are limited to, 'Oh! girls, here comes the prince, now, hurrah, hurrah, hurrah.' Therefore I ducked the request to exhibit my art. I was going home after the show—I mean entertainment—and Waldo, the fellow I went with before I got sense enough to blow the burg with a musical comedy—Waldo started to walk home with me. I will say this much for Waldo before I go any further, he has a good eye for the future, even though he is working in a grocery store.
"Waldo and I were walking down the quiet country lane, he telling me all the news that had been pulled off while I had been away. When we got down to the garden gate what do you think came off? Waldo proposed. Honest, he proposed, just like that. Waldo's intentions were sincere, but his work was lumpy and he went up in his lines a couple of times. He didn't pass it out half as strong as these city chaps do when they don't mean it. I instructed Waldo to can his chatter and forget it. Waldo got real indignant because I wouldn't fly with him and tried to grab me. Now I hadn't been prowling about New York alone without learning how to take care of myself, so I gave him the heel and the way he went to the mat was a caution for further orders. Waldo was a nice boy, but he was rough, so after the jolt he got he had sense enough to beat it.
"Say, I had an awful time for the next two or three days. But never again. I'll never go any further out in the country than Claremont. These rural districts are for those that like them, but if I can have Broadway for a country lane you won't hear a peep out of me. Honest, when I see a car with 'Forty-second street, crosstown,' on it I wanted to gallup up and kiss the motorman.
"Well, I've got to leave you here. Will tell you how I happened to leave Emporia the next time I see you. Take it from me, I had rather be a shine on Broadway than a glare anywhere else. So long."
In which Sabrina chronicles some more of the adventures that happened to her while visiting her parents and details how she stood the town on edge, was ejected therefrom, and the remarks she made on the subject.
"They say a rolling stone gathers no moss, but it's a cinch that this pebble could have gathered a bunch of lemons since she has fallen into her inheritance if she had but listened to their plaintive plea," remarked Sabrina, the Show Girl, after we had seated ourselves at the table.
"Has some one been seeking your hand in marriage?" she was asked.
"Honest, there are more dubs around this town who had rather get married than work than there are actors on Broadway now. I have had three proposals since I have been back, one of marriage. I told them all 'no.' That I preferred to live a la carte. I could have become a farmer's bride in Emporia if I had but said the word. I didn't tell you how I came to sneak that snare, did I? You know I went out there with the intention of staying a month, surging around and showing the village belles that May Manton wasn't the only authority on correct dress. Ten days was my limit.
"The family and every one agreed that my metropolitan broadmindedness was too much of a strain on the sense of morality of the peasantry, as it were. No, nothing of the slightest consequence, nothing that would have caused the inhabitants of Broadway to even arch their eyebrows. All I did was to inhale a snootful and go out with a friend and stand the thriving little village of Emporia up on end and tip it over. 'Tis a strange tale. List, and I will unfold it to you. One day I was wafting slowly and sedately down to the Boston Store for my mail when lo! and behold, what did I see out in front of the Palace Hotel but an automobile. Believe me when I tell you, it was the first time I had looked a radiator in the face for a week. Two young fellows were monkeying around the machine, and as they were nice-looking chaps I gave them the furtive glance, and one of them stopped and asked me if he hadn't been introduced to me in the Harlem Casino. At any other time I would have taken his remark as a deep insult, inferring as it did that I was so far from Forty-second street, but now I could have fell on his neck and cried with joy. I told him that I had never met him in the place he had mentioned, but to let it go at that, and if he even knew where Harlem was it was introduction enough.
"Come to find out they were making a trip across the continent, and had stopped there to get a little gasolene for the machine. We talked things over and I found out that they knew several people I did, and anyway they were from New York and that helped a heap. They were going to leave that afternoon, but I prevailed upon them to stay over until the next day. I was invited into the hotel for dinner, and we opened the first bottle of champagne wine, as they say out West, that had been opened in Emporia since the Governor went through. In truth, the bottle was covered with specks, and the label had faded so you could hardly read it, but when the cork went 'wop!' three traveling men at the next table burst into tears.
"After we had consumed all the champagne wine they had in the snare, I tipped them off to a speak-easy, and we decided to ride down there in the machine, and then go for a little tour, as it were. By this time it had been noised through the city that some one had taken the bottle out of the show window, and a large crowd had assembled to see the plutocrats come forth. We capered blithely out to the machine, climbed in and hiked for the blind tiger. After the usual red tape the captain sold us about two quarts of jig-juice—the kind that makes a jack-rabbit spit in a bulldog's eye.
"Anon, we again went for a ride, and I am here to state that the way we breezed through that village made the proverbial Kansas cyclone look as if it was running on crutches. The inhabitants that didn't duck for the cellars stood on the plankwalk and made rude and discomplimentary remarks. Some well-meaning Rube had tipped his mitt to the town marshal, and that worthy cluck had stretched a rope from the blacksmith shop to the corner of the livery stable, so naturally we had to pause. Enter Marshal R.U.E. with business of making a pinch. After filing the usual protests we were haled before the Magistrate. Here's a copy of the testimony:
Marshal—Judge, Your Honor, these prisoners are charged with defacing landmarks, violating the pure food law, exceeding the speed limit and disorderly conduct. Judge, Your Honor, these miscreants defaced our landmarks by drinking the only bottle of champagne wine that has ever been in our village—the bottle that for so long has graced the window of our leading hotel and was looked on with pride and reverence by the townspeople. A bottle that has been cherished for generations until these monsters came with their ill-gotten gold and purchased same.
They violated the pure food law by drinking said bottle of champagne which has been proven by the State Board of Examiners to contain 18 per cent. alcohol. The aforesaid prisoners exceeded the speed limit by rushing through our quiet streets at a terrific pace, to the danger of the lives and limbs of our wives and children.
The prisoners at the bar are charged with disorderly conduct by the following facts: They emptied said bottle of champagne, which was reputed to hold one quart. That bottle of said wine was emptied completely, which is proven by your marshal, who, after the orgy in our leading hotel, did approach a waiter of said hotel and ask for a taste of said wine, but upon investigation the bottle was found to be entirely empty.
The aforesaid bottle contained one whole quart of an intoxicating beverage and was distributed among three people. Therefore, Judge, Your Honor, the prisoners must have been intoxicated and therefore disorderly. Your Honor, the prosecution rests its case.
Judge—Prisoners, step to the bar. You are charged with, etc., ad lib. What have you to say before sentence is passed upon you?
Prisoners—Not a blamed word.
Judge—I find the prisoners guilty and sentence them to pay a fine of $50, or ten days in the city prison.
Prisoners—Gee, you must be going to build a new courthouse.
Judge—Five dollars for kidding the court.
"I knew those fellows couldn't stand the strain of the $55 fine, so, turning my back in maidenly modesty to the court, I dug down in the lisle-thread bank and came up with a hundred dollar bill, the first one ever seen in Emporia. I tossed it carelessly on the desk, remarking, 'Take it out of that.' You could have knocked the court's eyes off with a club. I don't think he ever saw that much money in one group before in his life. The clerk of the court grabbed the fresh-air fund and did a rubber into the family safe for the change. All quiet along the Potomac. The whole blooming city didn't have change for a century note. Can you beat that? And they say there is no graft in Kansas. They had to go over to the speakeasy for a change. What do you know about that? A court of a Prohibition State going to a gin-mill for money.
"After we got through telling the court what he reminded us of and what he looked like, we tripped out to the machine and climbed on board and started out again. We rode around until 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning, and I got to bed just as the help was getting out to do the chores. Maybe you don't think that evening's amusement caused some scandal.
"Why, before breakfast the entire population was wise to the fact that Sabrina, the pride and glory of the village, was out drinking liquor and playing progressive hell with a couple of strange gentlemen.
"If you want anything known in one of those wopburgs, just tell it to the butcher—it's got a town crier or a litho threesheet faded. Mother had the info on the whole game before she got the curl papers out of her hair. A couple of the Ladies' Auxiliary to the Herbert Killjoy Memorial did picket duty out in front of the house all night so as to be first in with the glad tidings.
"They galloped up like Sheridan twenty miles away. The Killjoy sisters beat it, and I was just assuring mother that getting pinched was considered very distingue by the upper crust of the eastern metropolis when in prance the village selectmen followed by the deacons of the church. When they came into view I knew the bell had rung on Sabrina, the souse. They all came in looking like the first act of a funeral, and Homer Jenkins, the head deaconorine, looked real solemn, and said, 'We regret to inform you that we have found it our painful duty to dismiss your daughter from the church.' I spoke up real gay like and said, 'Go as far as you like, I never was a commuter anyway.'
"The selectmen were at the bat next and the main guy of that informed father that I would have to be put under bond to keep the peace, as my actions of yesterday in drinking the champagne wine had caused nine of the village near-sports to get stewed on Rhinewine and seltzer, and to please let them have the money now, as they had to pay the mayor's salary to-morrow. Then I delivered my philippic as follows: 'If you spangled-eyed dubs think you are going to shake me down for any more change you had better drop in your penny and get next to yourselves. Nix, not. I've already coughed up more than the rest of the entire population, and you are not going to lance me for any more just because I've got a bundle. You're good people, you've got big feet, and I would like to see you run fast. Now beat it. I'm going to blow the burg on the next caboose, and while I don't wish you any bad luck I hope the town hall burns down. Now take it on the run or I will give you all a good scolding and send you to bed.' And the funny thing about it is, they slid. I tell the folks that my light is hid under a bushel in Emporia, grab the bus, and here I am and nothing short of an explosion will make me leave. Put this on your 'call board,' the only good thing about these hick hamlets is they remind you of New York because they are so different. So long. Don't fall down the elevator shaft."
In which Sabrina attends a ball given by the Chorus Girls' Union and frivols extensively in the vineyard and later does a specialty with ice skates and a bottle of arnica.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dead one," remarked Sabrina, the Show Girl, as we met her at the appointed place. "Don't I look like the wreck of the Hesperus? Honest to goodness, I feel like nine dollars' worth of dog meat hanging out of a hospital window. Was you at the ball, also? I mean did you attend last night's festivities? Ah, me! The joy and laughter of yesterday is sure the hangover of today. I thought I would caper down to the ball last night and just see how the other half lived, and instead of being a mere obtrusive observer I developed into what you might term the main event of the evening. You see it was this way. The Chorus Girls' Union, of which I am now a member, gave a ball in commemoration of the event of the Mayor vetoing Tim Sullivan's bill about women smoking in public. It was instigated by the 'Knight for a Day' girls, because when they went to plead before the Aldermen the newspapers forgot to mention the show they were from, so that the long talk didn't do the press agent any material good, as it were. The hall was tastily decorated with pictures of the Aldermen embellished with cigarette butts and champagne corks.
"By the way, if you see smoke coming from the Knickerbocker Theatre Building, don't turn in a fire alarm, for it is just the Friars showing their good feeling by trying to smoke up all the Friar cigars and cigarettes in town.
"All of our set was there, and numerous telegrams of regret were read from the road companies. As I say, I was seated quietly in a rathskeller listening to the noise, when one of the young ladies inadvertently remarked that there was to be big doings at a nearby hall, and suggested that as she was selling tickets, it would be a good plan to buy some and go and look the affair over, not to mingle with the throng, but merely to add tone to the event. That listened very well indeed, and we all climbed into a cabbage and vamped over.
"We managed to secure a box and were seated surveying the dancers, of which there were a few, and the wine agents, of which there was a herd, until one of the said agents happened to spy our little crowd, and with that true Southern gallantry for which wine agents are so noted, he sent over a quart bottle for each one of the party, but in the excitement of the moment forgot to include glasses, so rather than look a gift horse in the mouth, metaphorically speaking, we did not mention the oversight and contented ourselves with drinking out of the bottles in true democratic spirit. Did you ever imbibe Tiffany Water direct from its native heath, as it were? No? Then let me warn you from that lurking pitfall. It has the same taste, but the effect, di mi, the effect is multiplied by six.
"All of a sudden I became inoculated with a wild desire to burst forth into song, and also with the idea that when it came to tripping the light fantastic toe I had Genee looking like the first lesson in a $5 course. With that hunch in mind I shook the rest of the mob and descended to the floor accompanied by my personal press agent. I was wearing, at the time, one of my latest importations both underneath and outside. When the band for the nineteenth time struck up the 'Merry Widow' waltz, by permission of Henry W. Savage, I capered out upon the floor, where, much to the edification of the assembled multitude, I pulled off a combination of the 'Merry Widow' waltz and Dance of the Seven Veils that will be the talk of the town until Bingham does something else foolish. Did it cause excitement! Well, say, if it hadn't been for the kindness of a friend I would at this time been pacing a prison corridor in striped pajamas.
"Honest, when I came to this morning and Estelle—that's my maid—told me what I had done, I vowed that I never would speak to a wine agent again, for I was just that mortified. After me remembering to be a lady, and then before a mob to kick over the traces and crab the act. Believe me, every time I see an advertisement for that brand of wine a blush mantles my cheeks. Sure, I can blush. See. And for tears, it's just like turning on the faucet in the bath tub. All the young creatures in our set have to be there with the blush of modesty and the tear tank, for in the heat and gayety of a wine party, when some one springs a travelling man's story if we couldn't flash a flush we would be doped out as being brazen hussies, and tears are always handy. Either for the police, the landlord or an ardent suitor. The modern girl has to be equipped for any emergency like a hook and ladder truck. But here I am giving away all our girlish secrets.
"Take it from me I'll never again gallop around the juniper bowl. I wouldn't be a lush worker like that Alla McCune for another $10,000 legacy. She's just started the habit lately. She thinks it's stylish. Sure, every time she goes out with a crowd that drink anything stronger than beer she thinks she is in society. Every time she gets a snoot full she falls in love. Fact. My, such a scene as she caused in the hotel the other evening. She doped it out this way: She was all alone, a stormy night, a bottle of Scotch and a syphon. Why not light up? Talk about your Great White Way, why, she had it looking like a dark alley in Darkest Brooklyn. Along about 6 o'clock in the evening a gentleman called to see her. As soon as he entered the portal Alla knew that she had at last met her soul twin.
"She was hanging on to the table at the time and when she let go to embrace him, instead of being clasped to his yearning bosom, as she had planned, her knees gave away and she skated on her profile across the divan. This cluck, being of a timid nature, instead of running for the ammonia, slammed the door and sprinted for the elevator. Alla, as soon as the door closed, realized that she had been jilted, and resolving not to be canned without a struggle, she threw on her pony coat over her kimono, and pinning her hat roguishly over one ear, she fled the snare and ran down eight flights of steps into the street, with two coon bell boys after her. She turned into Broadway, going like Hose No. 7, with her kimono streaming to the breeze, and ran all the way down to Rector's and into the door before she was stopped by the head waiter. The two bell boys caught up and loaded her into a cab before the police came and managed to get her back up to the hotel, though the fight she put up was a caution. Wine is sure a mocker and Scotch highballs is fierce.
"I heard from the folks in Emporia the other day and they are still talking over the time I and the two guys in the automobile pulled off. The minister sprung a long sermon on the effects of strong drink on the young and the Emporia Wasp—you know they did call it the Bee, but the guy that bought it from the Bee people renamed it the Wasp, because he got stung worse than any bee could sting—the Emporia Wasp came out with a long editorial about the profligate rich and the Attic Debating Society had a big pow-wow in the basement of the church on the subject, 'Be it Resolved, That more people are killed by strong drink than by hanging.' All this had such a moral effect on the young that the soda fountain didn't sell a claret phosphate for three weeks after. And the Ladies' Aid got so busy over Azbe Lewis, the town drunkard, that he had three proposals of marriage, but he decided to take the lesser of the evils and stick to drink. I think he ain't such a dope at that.
"Say, sniff. Can you detect the low, plaintive cry of an arnica bottle? I am learning how to skate. Yes, I fell for it. Fell for it is good. 'Course I did. All over the ice. You see it was this way. I was up to a tea one of the girls gave in honor of the judge getting a divorce from his wife—we call it a tea because there wasn't any there. We were all sitting around panning those who were not among those present, until at last one of the girls who didn't dare leave till the party broke up suggested that we go down to the park and take a skate. The hostess was real nice. She suggested that it wasn't necessary to beat it clear down there to get a skate, as she had some in the house, and if we drank that up the Dutchman on the corner knew she was good for any amount within reason. But we didn't mean what she meant, so we departed. Going down I became perhaps a little too excited over the coming event and went to some length to inform the assembled skirts that when it came to cutting ice I, not seeking to boast, but I was there, forte, and such pastimes as writing names or doing Dutch rolls I considered rudimentary in the skating number and only performed by the immature.
"I may have overestimated my ability some, for I had never been on skates before in my life, but I'm no piker and I follow that old principle of willing to try anything once, so when it came time I let the boy put the skates on without a murmur, and was assisted to the ice by about six or eight eager hands. Say, I looked out at the gang gliding about, gave the signal to let go the ropes and took the fatal step. Curtain. Say, I went round so fast both skates clinched in my marcel wave. Would you believe it, there wasn't hardly any one in sight when I started falling, but before I got through the police had to move the crowd on. The only thing I could do gracefully was to throw a faint. I turned one loose until somebody tried to force a glass between my teeth and then I came to, but it was only water, so I had a relapse. Then a nice gent kicked in with a flask and I came to. Maybe you think those artful kidders didn't hand it to me. Anybody but a lady would have lost her temper and cursed them. But I told them where to get off, and don't you forget it, but I used no language that would have led people to think I was anything but what I should be. After that I managed to skate around a little, but let me tell you, that night I got down on the floor to take my shoes off all right, but it took Estelle—that's my maid—and a derrick to get me up again. Say, it's getting late and I must be going. You know Mabel is now a bride again, and her little husband has been staying down at the club instead of loitering about the flat, so the other night when he knocked on the door to get in, Mabel said, 'Is that you, Charles?' And now she can't get him out of the house nights. You see, her husband's name is Arthur. So long."
Sabrina now falls in love with a press agent with the hectic chatter. He proposes and is accepted, and Sabrina shows her love and devotion by going his bail when he is arrested for permitting his jealousy to get the better of him in a restaurant.
Who's the guy that said "Love laughs at locksmiths?" Just show him to muh. I'll show him where he got in wrong. It's enough to get a perfect lady's goat. My Wilbur tried it the night he got pinched, and all he got was a clout on the knob from the desk sergeant and a languishing number in a prison, and I don't dare to go within a mile of the drum.
The way I caper from one tribulation to another would make a sick woman out of far stronger than me. Yes, I have at last found a man that loves me for myself alone. He's a press agent, and he hands it out so sincere that I know he must mean part of it. He's going to buy me an engagement ring as soon as he gets his expense account. He's with a Broadway musical comedy, and though he has run some of the girls' pictures, he has not made the slightest advance toward any of them.
He's been coming to see me for nearly a month. My heart went out to him the minute he said he had a stand in with three city editors.
Us actresses never get over our theatrical training. He's a quiet party, and instead of hanging about the Knickerbocker bar with the rest of the agents, he stays in the office and pounds out copy. He gave me a beautiful silk parasol that I know didn't cost him less than four pairs of seats. And all this before he asked me for my hand in marriage.
Honest, I'll never forget the night he proposed as long as I live. Not that I never was proposed to before, and some of them would have had me starred, but the romantic surroundings and all that kind of thing. It was this way: Me and him were the guests at a beefsteak party, and after the fourth drink he commenced to show me marked attention, and when we got out of the cab in front of my hotel he offered to help me upstairs, though I generally have a bellboy for that purpose, and when we had got up in my apartment and Estelle had gone to give the bellhop a quarter and the pitcher, he popped the question, and such beautiful language, I remembered it the next morning and wrote it down.
He held my shrinking little hand in his and said, "Say, Kid, you've made an awful good showing with me. Believe it, I could plant your stuff all the rest of my life, and while I ain't much of a litho myself, still I can get away with it and am the man who invented red on yellow. I can't pay for many electric signs for you, but still if you'll plant your heart in my cut-trunk I'll guarantee there won't be any excess and I'm making money enough to O.K. most of your extras.
"Listen, Party, we'll split my salary fifty-fifty every Saturday night. I got good backing in the bank, and I want you to be my little star. You angel!"
Wasn't that sweet? That word angel aroused my suspicions for the nonce, for angels are the ones who generally get lanced, but he handed it out so fervent that I knew he would make good on some of the points, so from force of habit I said, "Bring out your contract."
And with those tender words and the pitcher the bellhop had brought back we plighted our troth.
What do you know about that? I don't believe I ever before was as much in love as I am now. Why, I ain't been to see any other show but his for two weeks. Of course, I have been engaged before and handed out this eye-glistening-with-adoration gag before, but it was done only to vary the monotony of my former theatrical career and increase my income.
What! Sure I get an allowance from the fellows I'm engaged to. It's only fair. Ain't I got a trooso to buy? Te, he!
If I'd saved all the money I have been given to purchase troosos with I would have a bunch that would make Gladys Vanderbilt's layout look like a gingham wrapper. Sure, ain't it worth money to those wops to have the pure love of a good, true girl? Gee, don't make me laugh like a baby.
I was betrothed to six at one time, and the diamond rings I wore made the prima bite her finger-nails with jealousy. Oh, I had a great graft.
I had a birthday in every week stand. System? Well, I should hope so, dear.
We'd work it this way: Alla McSweeney and I were chumming together, and naturally Monday night after the show we would meet some folks. We would have a real nice time, and along about fourth highball time after the show Wednesday night Alla would whisper real confidential into one of the fellows' ear that I was going to be twenty-one Friday and "we girls" are planning to give her a little surprise, and did he want to come in on it.
Every time the Johns would fall, except in Milwaukee, and nobody ever got anything out of that town anyway. Then Alla would whisper that the company was going to present me with a loving cup because I was such a good fellow, and if they wanted to chip in now was their chance, and anything was acceptable from $5 up, and to bring his friends.
Alla would tout it up something fierce, I being totally unconscious to what was coming off.
Friday night would come around and Alla would borrow the loving cup from the property man that the tenor used in the drinking number, put it under her shawl and caper over to the appointed cafe.
I would be the center of a bunch of merry cut-ups all wanting to blow out the candles on my birthday cake.
After the wine got to flowing freely and the crowd all jolly Alla would drag out the prop and make a nice little speech on behalf of the company.
Me—you know I would be that flustered that I didn't know what to do, and when Alla would say that other people beside the members of the company had assisted I would be so gratified that I could scarce keep back the tears.
All the clucks that hadn't chipped in would feel so bad because they weren't included in my outburst of gratitude that nine times out of ten they would sneak out and try to break into a jewelry store.
Then Saturday Alla and I would do the great divide.
Take it from me, when I came in off the road that season I had a roll of the evergreen that looked like a bundle of hall carpet.
But now that I am an heiress I do not have to adopt those subterfuges in order to get the daily Java. But I couldn't work those stunts on my Wilbur; he's too wise, and being in the business he's hep to all that kind of work.
He's a good, nice, honest fellow, as press agents go, and I think I can safely trust him with my innocent heart.
If he don't—well, you know me. If he don't think he run up against the business end of a cyclone it will be because I got throat trouble and can't talk.
Honest, my fair young brow is commencing to get wrinkled trying to dope out whether I want to become a bride or lead the free and easy life of a bachelor girl.
Of course, if I get married and don't like it divorces are easy enough to get, and then being a widow saves a girl a whole lot of embarrassment, for she don't have to pretend to not understand some of the innuendoes that are now and then sprung during the modern conversations.
But, on the other hand, Wilbur isn't there with a very big fresh air fund, and by perseverance I might cop out a Pittsburg millionaire and become famous.
Marriage is worse than a lottery; it's a strong second for the show business. You never can tell.
Wilbur sure does treat me nice—he's promised that I shall be a flower girl at the Friar Festival when it comes off in May. Ain't that nice of him?
Gee, but that's going to be the grand doings.
Are you going to the ball?
Say, the round of festivities I am pulling off lately would make a person think I was a society bud.
Oh, come closer, listen. A certain party wants me to go out in vaudeville. What do you know about that? Can you see me doing two-a-day and getting in a contest with Eva Tanguay or Vesta Victoria or the Russell Brothers. I would go in a minute, though I promised mother when I quit burlesque that I would never again wear tights.
When I was in the business if I couldn't get a job on my voice all I had to do was to flash a photo taken as Captain of the High Jinks Cadets, and then—in a minute.
Flo. Ziegfield made me all kinds of offers to go in the "Soul Kiss," but the blondes were all full, and you can see me in a brindle wig?
I am willing to sacrifice nearly anything for Art, but when it comes to leaving nineteen dollars' worth of puffs in a dressing room where you can't pick your company, not for little Sabrina.
I used to have trouble enough with my number eighteen and lip stick and the bunch of near-lady kleptomaniacs that the manager made a great mistake taking on the road in the last show I was with.
Well, to get back to vaudeville, I don't know whether to do a single turn or put on a big act with a dancing scene or a prizefight in it. Those things go big nowadays.
I could get the music publishers to slip me a little on the side for using their songs, too. Of course I don't need the money, for I've got the biggest part of that ten thou. inheritance left yet; but still it would keep me busy and away from the cafes, for now all I do all day long is to roam around from one place to another imbibing booze and balloon juice.
It's beautiful billiards all right for the time being, but I always feel so on the blink the next morning.
Wilbur doesn't care; that is, he said he knew I had artistic temperament, and if I wanted to get it out of my system, vaudeville was as good as anything.
I was talking to a guy the other day that is in vaudeville, and he said that down around the St. James Building you could buy acts by the pound.
Another guy wanted to take my money and star me in a musical comedy. Wasn't he the kind gent?
Gee, I didn't tell you how Wilbur come to get pinched, did I? Well, it was this way:
You know Wilbur is of Spanish descent even though he was born in Canarsie, and he has a very jealous disposition; so the night after I had promised to be his own little star of hope he discovered me in a certain cafe with another party. This other party was a dramatic critic and I was touting Wilbur's show, but Wilbur didn't know that, so when he saw me sitting there having the time of my young life he lost his nanny and caused a scene, forgetting this other party was a critic in his passion.
The head waiter threw them both out, and the critic, seeing the police coming, said: "This is an actor trying to lick me," and naturally the cops nearly beat poor Wilbur to a pulp.
I went down to the station house and tried to get Wilbur out, but the police were so rude that I had to tell them where to get off, and they threatened to jug me, so I slid.
Wilbur got out the next day, though, and told me over the 'phone that he loved me all the more for trying to come to his rescue. I wish they would import the Emporia police force here. I can lick him myself.
My! is it that late? Wilbur will be waiting to take me over to Childs'. So long!
Sabrina returns to the chorus so that she can keep an apartment, a maid and an automobile without causing comment. She also talks of getting a house-boat for the summer with some girl friends and discourses on the advisability of having the wardrobe mistress for a chaperone.
"Virtue has its own reward and that's all it ever gets," remarked Sabrina, the Show Girl, as we met her on the street. "I am once again a wage-earner. This floating around town as one of the idle rich is all to the peaches for a while, but as a continuous performance it makes a poor showing. You know when I first became an heiress I had a call-board put up in my boudoir and a little notice pinned on it that read, 'Rehearsal, 10 o'clock to-morrow, everybody,' and then I would lay in bed all morning and make faces at it.
"Everybody had a large bunch of fun kidding me about my inheritance till I was nearly bug. Why, would you believe it? I couldn't go to dinner or riding with a gentleman friend, but some humorous dame sitting at another table would arch her eyebrows and then, if I introduced them to the gent, they would say, 'I am very glad to meet you, Mr. Suchandsuch; how are things in Pittsburg?'
"At last it got so bad that I decided to go back to work and earn my little twenty per, so that I could keep my automobile and wear good clothes without the slightest taint of suspicion on my character. With that noble end in view I started on the still hunt. Nothing doing with that traveling thing.