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Newspaper Page Text
THE PENDULUM BY O. HENRY
ILLUSTRATED BY DAN SAY RE GROESBECK.
(Copyright by Doubleday, Page & Co.)
Here is a story that tells you more about yourself than YOU know
about yourself! And it answers, once and for all, that famous question:
DOES absence make the heart grow fonder?
Moreover, it goes still further and tells whether fondness, so parented,
lasts or whether a longed-for presence, suddenly restored, dissipates it.
At least it tells how it was in the case of John Perkins and HIS Katy.
And who shall say O. Henry did not mean you any of us all of us when
he named him "John Perkins?"
"Eighty-first street let 'em out,
please," yelled the shepherd in blue.
A flock of. citizen sheep scrambled
out and another flock scrambled
aboard. Ding-ding! The cattle cars
of the Manhattan elevated rattled
away, and John Perkins drifted down
the stairway of the station with the
John walked slowly toward his flat.
Slowly, because in the lexicon of his
daily life there was no such word as
"perhaps." There are no surprises
awaiting a man who has been mar
ried two years and lives in a flat. As
he walked John Perkins prophesied to
.himself with, gloomy cynicism the
foregone conclusion of the monoton
Katy would meet him at the door
with a kiss flavored with cold cream
and butter-scotch. He would remove
his coat and read the evening paper.
For dinner there would be pot roast,
stewed rhubarb and the bottle of
strawberry marmalade blushing at
the certificate of chemical purity on
its label. After dinner Katy would
show him the new patch in her crazy
quilt that the iceman had cut for her
off the end of his four-in-hand. At
half-past seven they would spread
newspapers over the furniture to
catch the pieces of plastering that fell
when the fat man in the flat over
head began to take his physical cul
ture exercises. Then the' gent at the
window across the air-shaft would
pet out his flute; the lady with the
champagne shoes and the Skye ter
rier would trip downstairs and paste
, her Thursday name over her bell and
letter-box and the evening routine
of the Frogmore flats would be under
John Perkins knew these things
would happen. And he knew that at
a quarter past eight he would sum
mon his nerve and reach for his hat,
and that his wife would deliver this
speech in a querulous tone:
"Now, where are you going, Fd like
to know, John Perkins ? "
"Thought I'd drop up to McClos
key's," he would answer, "and play
a game of pool with the fellows:"'.
Of late such had been John Per
kins' habit. At 10 or 11 he would re
turn. Sometimes Katy would be
asleep; sometimes waiting up, ready
to melt in the crucible of her. ire a lit
tle more gold plating from the
wrought steel chains of matrimony.
Tonight John Perkins encountered
a tremendous upheaval of the com
monplace when he reached his door.
No Katy was there with her affec
tionate, confectionate kiss. All about
lay her things in confusion. Shoes
in the middle of the floor, curling
tongs, hair bows, kimonos, powder
box, jumbled together on dresser and
chairs this was not Katy's way.
Some unusual hurry and perturbation
must have possessed her.
Hanging conspicuously to the gas
jet by a string was a folded paper.
John seized it It was a note from
his wife running thus:
"Dear John: 1 just had a tele
gram saying mother is very sick. I
am .going to take the 4:30 train