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The Richmond palladium and sun-telegram. [volume] (Richmond, Ind.) 1907-1939, March 17, 1907, Image 9

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Copyright, 1907, by Thomas H. McKt.
ON THAT great highway or the foolish and
miserable, condemned and defamed for
years, we have hunger and thirst hope
and despair, love and hatred, as you have
elsewhere. And there, too, On the Bow
ery, we have honeet men and women, strong on the
Bide of righteousness, as, well as those who have
leagued with the devil from earliest to most recent
days. J
Do remember that the Bowery Is In the heart of
our greatest city and not in the wilds of Tibet, and
believe me that human nature and emotions prevail
there a3 anywhere. If you doubt me, come and see,
transfers are givetl at all crossings.
If thers is anything that will distinguish In one
Particular human nature on the Bowery from that
of other parts it is Ms primitive directness. People
will love, bate, trust and despise more strongly,
more directly, where the shellac of civilization has
not yet entirely veneered the whole surface. And
to you. of the higher civilization, the humanity of
the Bowery, because of Its absolute directness,
seems grotesque, absurd.
It is claimed that fn certain stages of Intoxication
men will show their true selves. That's how it Is on
th Bowery, There, the potent inebriety of misery
makes men throw all pretense to the winds. If one
ftfV Vf4 -T-A P,l
" J.'r.
is abot:t io k!l:, or steed, love, grow good, or go
cratj', there is no mistaking his purpose.
We hare no Ttomanlacs, geniuses br eccen
trics down oir ay; we have the direct sort,
crooks, "daffies ' .d "bugs."
And of these I will tell you a story, as I have seen
it played before me. Should you come to the con
clusion that the narrator belongs to either of the
two last named categories of the species, stick to it
by fcU means; it will not change conditions even a
Nick Bender was of so little account that no one
knew anything vabout his private history and no
on tried to find out. Not even his landlady, Mrs.
Snlllane. of East Third Street, knew any more
about him than that he was about as poor as the
rest of her lodgers and made less of a bluff at pros-
Old Mary Spillane was not a sociologist and
that Bender never got above the stage of dis
tributing circulars for spectacular dentists and
famboyant chiropodists, in spite of his youth
and physical well-being, was no concern of
her as long as her weekly stipend of seventy
flw cents was paid on Saturday.
There had beea. Saturdays when even this
small amount had not been forthcoming, but
old Mother Spillane did not have the heart to
dispossess the poor, inoffensive devil from his
room, which, in verity, was the merest cubbj--hote
trx . the top floor, where trunks unused
furniture and other trash shared the space
with. hlm-In fact. Mother Spillane, who never
took any interest in her lodgers, came about
as near to liking Bender as it was possible for
her to like anybody.
Whether Bender knew or appreciated this
fact was not apparent. He plodded along hi9
simple way, sometimes eating, sometimes starv
ing, and nothing of Importance occurred to him
until he fell Into the gaping meshes of the Salva
tion Army.
Who shall dare to read men's souls aright?
Therefore, do not let us Judge Bender's motives In
joining this horde of jubilant fanatics. Whether
seeking salvation or forgiveness for his sins, or
whether seeking self-aggrandizement, it was his
personal matter, not ours.
Oa the other hand. Bender was not so far re
moved from his kind of the day to overlook any
possible accruing benefit. It seemed to him quite
liktly that some "painless dentist" would willingly
increase the usual daily wage of fifty cents to. at
least, seventy-five cents for the privilege of having
his circulars distributed by a soldier of the Army in
full regimentals.
But that was still in store, as Bender had not yet
reached the uniformed stage and in the meantime
fate was to have its frolic with him.
Next Week
V .....
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On the day on "which the curtain of this little
comedy of errors rolled up. Bender was returning
from his daily search for work. He had not met
with any encouragement and made his homeward
Journey entertaining himself by noting the many
Incidents which make the streets of the metropolis
an unending panorama. ,
He made his leisurely way to the Bowery and,
before turning into East Third Street, investigated
the progress of the "Hygienic Restaurant," which,
for weeks, had displayed this sign: "Will Open To
morrow." It was In his immediate neighborhood and Ben
der took a personal pride in this improvement of it
via this dazzlingly shining establishment for feed
ing purposes.
Charmed by the bold inscriptions on the still
whitened windows, reading, "Surpassing Coffee"
and "Try" Our Home-Made Cooking." Bendef
dwelled in dreams of feasting and was not aware
that he, in turnr was being scrutinized.
The proprietor of the Hygienic, a man of swarthy
mien and decked out in much conspicuous jewelry,
who had been directing the hangers of the great
sign bearing the name of the restaurant, had for
some time watched the circular distributer.
"Working?" he broke, at last, the mutual Spell
of inspection.
"Me? No. not just now," answered Bender, feel
ing, instinctively, that he confronted a crisis.
"Want a Job?"
SiliSiiim ft
jriv-. - Jem
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, 5
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"What at?"
"Giving out handbills and carrying a banner.
The offer, partly acceptable and partly objection
able, was duly considered by Bender before re
plying. "I'd give out the bills but carrying the banner
gee, I couldn't do that."
"All right. Get somebody else." The man
closed the incident and turned again to the sign
hangers. .
The last Saturday had been one of those on
which the seventy-five cents had not been forthcom
ing. Not a penny was in his pocket, of credit he
knew nothing, and Bender thought furiously. No.
there was no other way than the one of humilia
tion, but the swarthy man never dreamed what
sacrifice to pride was made when Bender declared
his willingness to carry the banner.
"I guess I might's well take the job, banner and
all." Bender spoke at last. "What's in it?"
"Fifty cents a day and three square meals."
"I'll take It and when do I start In?"
"To-morrow morning, at seven."
"I'll be here."
"All right, and don't disappoint me."
Thus, in this land of opportunities, fortunes are
made -in a twinkling. For years Bender's daily
wage had been fifty cents, but never before had
three square meals been thrown in."
Mrs. Spillane had a right to know about this
turn of the wheel and to her Bender hurried. His
triumphal progress was somewhat retarded by the
"second floor, rear," man, who sat, staring, on the
stoop of the house. Not that the man of the sec
ond floor was given to idle talking, but his very
presence alone was enough to interfere with Ben
der's pursuit of the moment at any time. There
had been times when that man's step on the stairs
had held Bender spellbound until the slamming
door resounded behind him. And so, as he came
through East Third Street, his steps drew more
dragging and dragging the nearer he got to the
house. His affairs were forgotten for the instant
and he thought so deeply of the other's that, un
consciously, he halted to ponder with greater con
centration! The other's protracted scowl, directed
at Bender, set the latter again in motion and sent
him flying up the stoop with, an unreplied, "Good
morning." In the hall Mrs. Spillane was trying to rub some
gloss into a dilapidated hat-stand when her favor
ite lodger entered.
'Well. anjr luck to-day?" she inquired listlessly.
Bender reported the events of the day and, point
ing at the stoop, ended with: "And how's his nibs
"Oh, about the same's usual, replied the land
lady and closed the Interview.
Long after Mrs. Spillane had retired to her be
loved basement regions, where lodgers were not
permitted to intrude. Bender still stood In the hall,
fairly boring holes with his eyes through the door,
behind which the secopd-floor man was taking his
sullen airing. And again, later, when Bender at
last had started on his climb, he stopped at the
"second floor, rear," door and came as near to
eavesdropping as his conscience would permit him.
Whatever he heard or discovered, after a vigil of,
perhaps, two minutes. Bender direfnlly shook his
head and continued on to the top floor.
During his three months in the Army Bender
had carefully absorbed and practised tho docmas
of that remarkable body. Scarcely any of the
finiall daily tasks were performed by him without
"holding communion." And so. as soon as his
cubby-hole was reached, he again resorted to com
munion in this "travail of his soul."
These "communions" were not perfunctory mat
ters, but events accompanied by much detail.
First he went to the "sink" in the hall to Cleanse
his hands: then he brushed his hair and spread a
newspaper on the floor before his cot. After this
mise en scene had been arranged, he agraln went
to the "sink" and once mc-rn washed his hantle.
Back in the room, he locked the door and sank to
hi kncs on the newspaper beside the bed. With
folded hands and unlifted eyes he remained so for
a moment before communing with Him, his God.
the God of Bender.
"Plea?e excuse me, God. for coming to You again
with my troubles, but, honest, I can't help it. And
It ain't only my trouble? I v.ant to talk to You
about, but I want to thank You, too, for what You
done for me about getting that job at the restaur
ant. It' no use o' talking. I needr-d it, and, You
can bet, it came in awfn! handy. But I don't
know what to do shout them two funny people on "
th second floor. They're my neighbors and I got
to do something for them because it is my duty,
but I don't know how or what, and I got to put it
up to You and I hope You'll help me. If You
would only give me n little more nerve so's I could
sneak to that fellow about coming over to the
Army some night with me. I think it would be all
right. He's been a pinner al! right, for Captain
Aggie I la skins says you can read a whole lot in
faces and his face don't' look right to me at all. I
gnecs that's about all I can tell You just now and
I hope You'll send me gome inspiration so's I can
rescue that fellow from his wickedness. And now
I thank You for Your goodness to me and ask Your
blespiug and strength fo's I won't fall by the way
side. And and, ro long. Father. Amen."
And. truly, that prayer was heard.
They were celebrating a "Hot Time Evening" at
the Salvation Army that night and Bender, of
course, was present. The trend of his simple life
was sadly disturbed by the strange couple on the
second floor, rear. The only thing he knew about
them from observation and through Mrs. Spillane
was that they were poorly situated.
Had he known all about them he might have
deemed their fate commonplace, but the mystery
surrounding them and the odd appearance of the
man had a strange fascination for Bender. He had
thought about them and how to help them all day
and at the "Hot Time" he found application to
them U every son, every speech, every testimony
uttsred. .
ft v.. is after the song. "We're All Going Home
to Heaven," sung to the air of "We Won't Go Home
Till Morning." that Bender's psychological moment
ca.mo to him.
Throughout the evening a pale, ascetic man. In
officer's uniform, had sat brooding on the platform.
After the last chorus of "We're All Going Home
to Heaven," the commanding officer of the post
stepped to the edge of the platform to make the
following announcement:
"Comrades and friends! As you all know, we
have with us to-night Colonel Harvey Timberall,
the silver-tongued orator of the Golden West.
Colonel Timberall has been fighting glorious bat
tics out. in the wicked digger-towns of Nevada and
Colorado and Montana, and he is going to tell you
how to fight the battle on to victory. And now
let us give three cheers for Colonel Harvey Tim
berall!" The cheers were given and much noise was
made while the Colonel made his way to the cen
ter of the platform.
How his speech ranked according to Salvation
Army criterlons cannot be stated, but to the aver
age listener it was a weird compound of twisted
theological doctrines and bombastic rhetoric. , But
-and that was the point the audience liked it.
Greedily they swallowed the sentences and often
Interrupted v the orator by tumultuous applause
after some particularly appealing sentiment.
Bender's attention was so rapt that almost the
entire speech was memorized by him. And when
the speaker came to the practical hints, telling
his congregation how they, too, every one of them,
could go out into the world and do as much for
their fellow'men as he had done, then Bender knew
and felt that the sermon had been preached solely
for his benefit.
'. . . And there, behold, there He stood upon the
mountain, facing the multitude, proving beyond
peradventure that He was the saviour of the lowly.
What did He say? 'The foxes have holes, and the
birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man
hath not where to lay his head.' And what did he
do? Did he remain facing the multitude? No!
He went right down among them and gave them
the message of the Master. And these are the
commands of the Great White Lord: 'Be not
forgetful to entertain strangers, for thereby some
have entertained angels unawares.' And He also
said: "Greater love hath no man than this, that a
man lay down his life for his friends, . . ."
That was the whole thing in a nutshell, those
were the commands of the Great White Lord, and
Bender heeded them.
Devotional hysteria ran high that evening, and
it was midnight before Bender crept up the stoop,
on which the man from the second floor rear, was
taking his siesta. Ordinarily Bender's nerve would
have failed him. but the influence of the "Hot
Time" was still potent and he determined to begin
his mission at. once.
"We had a poorty good time over at the Army
The man looked up without speaking.
"Yes, I you' see, I belong to the Salvation
Army," Bender bravely kept on, and, not getting
an answer, asked: "You don't belong to the Army?"
"No. scarcely," was the harsh reply.
"I think you ought to," declared Bender fer
vently. "It made a man o me all right and you
ought to join them too. for "
"What do you mean?" exclaimed the man an
grily. "Oh. nothing, only It makes a man much hap
pier and well, it does a lot o' things."
"It can't make me or mine happy and I'm more
Interested In getting food than happiness." growled
the stranger.
"The Army'H give you food."
"To be sure they will and then will take a mort
gage on my manhood. There's such a thing as
self-esteem; it's the only possession I have and I
will not beg. I have reached the limit of misery, am
forsaken by every living soul, even she but I
won't beg."
"But when a man is In your fix," Bender spoke
didactically, "only the Great White Lord can help
"The Great White Lord?"
"Yes," replied Bender. "I ain't never been to
school, but I know that the Great White Lord can
and the Guinea's Stamp"
, ; . By Leo Cranneo
help if you only will pray to him."
"And you are crazy enough to believe that?"
sneered the man.
"1 knew it's so and al! you got to do 13 to try it."
"You fool! If there were any truth la that He
would have helped me long rso."
"But did you pray to Him?"
"I prayed to Him and I cursed Him and a"
without avail. And they called me crazy because
of my belief in Him. Now ah. but why waste
time In idle t2ik."
"Gee. but you must have been an awfvil sinner!"
It slipped involuntarily from Bender's lips.
"I must have been." mocked the other. "1 was
one of those fools who tried to satisfy a champagne
appetite on a beer income. I played the grand
bluff and when It didn't work any longer they
called me irresponsible, put me away and dubbed
me "crazy." liut I. got away and they shan't get
m again. And IT she." he pointed upward In
the direction of his room "if she gives roe away,
then I'll give them a chance to put me away and
for good."
What to reply to this Bender did know.
"You ought to tell it all to the Great White
Lord." he said, hesitatingly. "He'll help you
and I'll pray for you anyway."
"You, and your Great White Lord, pshaw!" and
the tenant of the Second floor, rear, went up to his
Alone. Bender realized that he was facing a
crisis. But what was he to do? Only one thing
was obvious, he must procure some food for them.
But that is no easy matter when one is without a
penny. What was he to do?
They were working all night at the Hygienic
Restaurant to get it ready for the morning's open
ing. Several men ' were bossed about by the
swarthy proprietor and the place was a bedlam of
noise when Bender entered.
What plea Bender made he never knew, but
after pledging his next day's pay, he left the res
taurant loaded with bundles. Careful Dot to lose
any of the packages, he gingerly ascended the
stoop of his house and opened the door.
Somebody was in the hall. .
There was no possibility of burglars there was
nothing to steal still it was strange to find some
body there at this hour of the night. Bender went
straight to the figure, shrinking into the shadows
and found the wife of the second floor tenant
dressed for the street.
"Why- hew you ain't going oat?" he stam
mered. "Yes, I'm, going. Please don't detain me," she
answered, eager to get away.
"I think I know what you're going out for, but
it ain't necessary. I got it right here." Bender
smiled slyly, displaying his bundles.
The woman's glowing eyes had been fastened
on Bender, but now they saw the packages and the
smiling face above them and, as people in some
rare ruomente will, she understood a great deal.
' And you you got this for us?"
Sure," he said. "It ain't much, but In the
morning I'll get you some more. Anyway, I
ouldn't have him doubt my Great White Lord."
' Your Great White Lord?" the woman asked
"Yes. He who says you might entertain an angel
unawares." ,
"And you think that he, upstairs, might be an
angel unawares?"
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Bender did not like the sound of her scornful
"I don't know about that, but I believe In what
the Great White Lord says and "
"And he should tell you that that man Is a
fiend," cried the woman. "I have been loyal to
him through all our stages of degradation, I have
stood his insinuations and slights, but now the end
of my endurance has been reached. To-night he
told me I was the sole cause of his misery, and
and I can't stand it any longer. The street is more
welcome than "
"Oh, now you'ro talking about as crazy as he
does," Bender declared with a charming frankness.
"All married people have a little row oncet in
awhile and then they make up. All he's got to do
is to believe inthe Great White Lord and every
thing will be all right. I know he's laughing at it
now, but it's worth while trying anyway. Look
what he's made o' me!"
Gently taking her arm he led the way to the
stairs and helped her retrace her Eteps. Sobbingly
she went with him and leaned on him until they
entered the room.
At the table sat the man, staring into emptiness
aid not turning when he heard them. ,Sh nf .
cred for an instant, but then went to him end
placed her hand on his shoulder.
"Edward," she whispered, "I have come back;
1 couldn't go."
The hi-.sband stood up. and, without a glance at
Bender, who hovered in the background, he folded
his wife in his arms. The humble intermediary
thought this a good opportunity to absent himself
?rul stepped to the table to leave his bundles. But
bfforo he had reached the door, the wife had him
fc;. tho arm.
"Oh. don't go yet." she pleaded. looking also at
the husband. "We must thank you first and
"Yes, I suppose we have to thank you. but I shall
re well. I shall make it all right in a day or two.
mumbled the husband, greedily eying the packages.
The wife, not at all Fatisfed with the husband's
manner, insisted on Bender' remaining.
The packages were quickly opened ahd the two
fairly gorged themselves. The food disappeared
rapidly. This unexpected feast seemed to intoxi
cate the husband
"The Great White Lord isn't such a bad fellow,
after all." he mumbled between mouthful. "But
say. you're a mighty queer looking cuss to be so
intimate with such a great personage."
The last few hours had taught Bender a great
many things and he did cot propose to stand any
more flings.
"You can sneer all yon like at my Great White
Lord, but I think it would become you much bet
ter to thank Him. You can kid ell you like, but
it's only the Great White Iiord that can save fel
lows like you."
"And I suppose as the next part of the service
our brother here will lead tn prayer?" the stranger
still mocked.
It was what Bender wanted. He did not know
how to expound or argue, but he had implicit faith,
in the. power of prayer. Bo, for once dispensing
with his preparations, he knelt in the center of the
floor and spoke to his God. the God of Bender.
"Please, God, excuse me for coming to You with
ftiy troubles so late at night, bot this fellow here
that I have been telling you about, he's In a bad
8 way and his heart Is getting more and more stub-
born. Now, what am I going to do? I done
t everything I could and prayed for him, but it
don't seem to do much good. How can he refuse
to believe In You? He ought to know that only
for You he wouldn't maybe-be-alire and wouldn't
have gotten his little lady back again. It was Yoil
that made me meet her and steer her back again.
And, honest, You know how square and loyal she
Is and that she's ill to th 'gewk,. M "
'T, Whether it was a laugh or a sob behind him
Bender never knew or cared. He Jjst kept oe.
"This Is the first time I ever tried to do what th
Great White Lord tells us for to do and now.
please, God. don't disappoint me. Let me make
good this once, anyway. This fellow here, he ain't
so bad after all, and he's educated, bat he got a lit
tle daffy from being on the bam and can't see that
he's the cause of the whole trouble. So, please.
God. open his eyes and make him go out and hus
tle for a job and let him find one so's the little
woman won't have to be ashamed o' him no more.
And You. who knows everything, knows that then
the little woman's cheeks will be rosy again and
that a fellow has been saved from going completely
to down and out. And that's all. God, and I hop
You'll do it for me. Amen."
A sadden quiet had come Into the room and
Bender, not wishing to disturb It, went through
the door with -a whispered "Good-night,"
Insomnia never troubled Bender. His slumbers
were always sound, in spite of hard pillow and
thanks to a clear conscience. It was toward morn
ing, just as the dawn was strenuously fighting tha
stubborn night for supremacy, when Bender was
awakened from his dreams.
,-i "Bender," whispered the figure beside the bed,
& I want to thank you"
"Oh, gee, that would hare kept until morning,
' growled Bender sleepily. "I'm good and drowsy."
"But I mast tell you this, that the little woman
has forgiven me and that I'm going to look for a
job in the morning. And I also want to tell you
that you did. this or "
"Ah, stop yonr kidding, retorted Bender, now
a little more awake. "Don't yon know yet who
done it? 'Twas the Great White Lord. Go and
thank Him and let me go to sleep. Good-night.
Is there
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