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I THE GIRL from \ S PROSPERITY | By GEORGE RANDOLPH CHESTER % A »i« M »Jj( —$ (Copyright by the McClure Newspaper Syndicate.) p When James E. Carroll, Ms attire fofljr keyed up to his pink tie, swag gered into the Hotel Belveigh barber shop, the boss barber loafing over at the table of Bessie Williams grinned in spite of his present ill humor. “Pipe the village cut-up,” he ob served. ’l’he Manicure Girl surveyed the newcomer with a keen eye. "No, Billy," she replied, “it’s the village sport.” “Whatever fye is,” insisted Billy, "he’s a Hick and looking for a ten cent shave." Again the girt surveyed the new comer critically. "No,” she once more dissented, “111 bet you the size of the tip that he tips you." "The same which would be a fine and wise bet for me to make, I think not," observed Billy, and added a forcible word or so under his breath as he started forward, for Mr. James EL Carroll, having looked down the Hne of Greeks and Italians who stood invitingly at their empty chairs, gave a glance at the only American barber in the place, and climbed into the only chair which had no attendant. “I’ll take a round trip,” he affably observed as Billy slipped the sleeves of the shaving apron over his arms. “Shave, sir?" coldly Inquired Billy, who, nevertheless, had understood perfectly what his customer meant. “The whole howling hippodrome,” said young Mr. Carroll, unabashed. "Do everything you know how.” “Just watch me make this fresh ■frcp's pocket change shrink down to the edge of Ms return ticket,” growled Billy to the Manicure Girl as he made a pretext to go past her table for fresh towels. “I have your ingrowing gnrach for money,” laughed the girl. "You would if you ached to fur nish a flat and got turned down every time you mentioned it," he complained. "I;told yop that was barred,” she informed him. “I think I see myself in an East Harlem flat, with cheese cloth curtains on the front windows and a garbage can on the fire fescape, counting how many Wienerwursts we get for a dime.” It was in consequent savageness that Billy began upon the. task of giying his country customer “a round trip." He cut that hearty young gen tleman’s hair, and singed and sham pooed and dandruffined it, he shaved him and massaged his head and his face, he put upon him drenches of every bottled thing in his possession, then be grinned, yanked up the chair, jerked off the towels and handed over his largest check But Mr. Carroll was scarcely interested. “Is that all you can do?” he asked. "We have a chiropodist, but he’s not on duty just now,” snarled Billy; “while you’re waiting, though, you can get manicured.” "Me for the manicure. I’ve heard about ’em,” said Mr. Carroll; “and just as a sporting proposition I’m going to sample a sample of every thing there is in New York.” “Just go right ahead : ,and see if New York cares,” Bill advised him. “I don’t care whether New York cares,” returned Mr. Carroll, largely, "and that’s where I’ve got the best of New York.” As a matter of living up to that largeness he presented Billy with half a dollar, then he swaggered across the shop to the cashier’s desk, flaunt ing a twenty-dollar bill in his hand and glancing with speculative assur ance at the row of manicure girls. Tess, who was quite universal in her tastes, used her large eyes freely, but with the usual negative effect No body could be persuaded to believe them. Instead Os succumbing to the girl who owned them, Mr. Carroll’s gaze roved right on over her head to the deceptively demure Miss Wil liams. "Mr. Smarty from Smartville,” com mented Tess with a toss of her head. "I don’t want him,” retorted Miss Williams, “If I draw Johnny Fresh I’ll give him the salting down of his life. It’ll be a real quiet convention we’ll hold, with me in the steam roller part.” As a preliminary to this process, when Mr. Carroll sat down at her table she spread out both his hands before her and surveyed them critic ally; then she smiled with an appar ent attempt to conceal it; then she looked demurely up. Mr. Carroll was red. Some uncomfortable thought held him silent throughout the entire operation, checking any desire for conversation and killing any inclina tion whatsoever toward flippancy. When he got up to go he looked at the change dubiously, then at the girl, then back at the change and again grew red. His dilemma was obvious. He did not know whether or not it was the proper thing to tip a lady. Sometimes Miss Williams took tips and sometimes she refused them. This time she accepted before one was really offered. “Thank you,” said she very sweetly. He pushed a quarter toward her tentatively and she swept it noncha lantly into the little drawer of her table. “Thank you,” she said again, still very sweetly. Those were the only four words that had been spoken during the en tire event. "How did you tame him, Bess?” asked the other girl. “Made him see the size of his hands,” explained Miss Williams with a shrug. “You can do that with any of them that have big ones, and after that they’ll lay down and roll over and jump through hoops at the mere glance of command.” The next day he came again, but with not nearly bo much assurance. Again he took Billy’s chair, but there was very little aggressiveness about him. “What will you have a sample of today?” asked Billy. "Shave,” said Mr. Carroll, wearily, as he lay back In the chair. When Billy turned him loose he went over to Miss Williams and spread out his hands upon her table, dropping opposite to her with a dead-tired air. “You don’t want me to treat your nails again?” she objected. “Sure,” he said. "I came in on purpose.” “This is one of the good things you can overdo,” she told him. “If I’d give those nails the full course so soon you’d have to get a new set*” He was quite dismal about it “Can’t you just fuss around with them a little bit, then?” he inquired. “I’m so lonesome I could go to jail for company." “Maybe I could finish yesterday’s job a little,” she returned. “It would be cheating, but I don’t mind,” and she studied them carefully. The fact of the matter was that Mr. James E. Carroll was quite pal pably unhappy, and the Manicure Girl, who always wore her claws un sheathed for “fresh” people, could not withhold comfort from unhappy ones. “What’s the matter? Hasn’t New York been clubby with you?" she asked, as she went gingerly to work. “No,” he complained, “the town’s too slow. There’s more fun out In Prosperity, Indiana, where I came from.” “That isn’t what ails you. There’s a girl back in Prosperity.” “There’s half a dozen of them,” he grinned. “Yes?” she inquired, and looked him oyer carefully. “There’s only one. I’il put a little bet down on it; a bag of peanuts against a package of chewing gum.” He looked a long time at the Mani cure Girl’s imported pompadour, then he called a boy and handed him a quarter. “Bring a package of chewing gum,” he ordered. That’s when Miss Williams began not to dislike him so much. “Yes,” he went on by and by. “There is just one girl back in Pros perity, that is, one worth mention ing, and I’d give a hundred dollars if she was here.” “So much as a hundred left,” she asked, in apparent surprise; “and you here two days?” “It does melt pretty fast,” he con fessed, smiling, “but I’m good for a few days longer. I brought between three and four hundred dollars with me.” “Gee!” exclaimed Miss Williams. “What will they do for a circulating medium out there?” “Oh, there’s some left, I guess,” he told her, “but not among the gang. You see, I won this in a poker game, the biggest one we ever had in town.” “My, what a wicked little sport!” she gasped. "I guess you’re the hor rible example In Prosperity. I guess they won’t let you come to the church sociables, nor the husking bees, nor anything. What does the girl think of it?” "She doesn’t know anything about It,” he returned rather soberly. “If she found it out, I don’t think she’d •like it very much.” Miss Williams liked him even bet- 1 ter for the seriousness with which he considered this phase of the matter. “Os course, she’s pretty,” she sug- J gested by and by. It was good to see his face light up. "I call her Reddy, but her hair isn’t 1 really red,” he explained. “It’s a dark brown, that seems to flare up copper colored sometimes when the sun shines through it; and she has ; the brownest of brown eyes, and the < reddest of red lips, and the whitest 1 of white teeth, and the pinkest cheeks; and—” 1 “Sure,” she interrupted; “I know i the kind. You can find her on the front page of any of the twenty-six < best sellers, and on the covers of all the magazines when they haven’t i anything special to feature; and I i suppose after this lonesome little i Seeihg-New-York trip all by yourself, i you’ll go back home and marry the 1 girl in the last chapter.” ‘You bet I will,” he returned, de- i cidedly, and when he got up to go he 1 s was feeling a lot more cheerful. I i The boss barber was not, however. "Some chummy with Mr. Yap from Yapville,” he sneered to the Manicure Girl. "He’s a real nice little Hick, Billy,” she Insisted, “but he was as solemn as classic music; and you know me Any timo I see anybody look mon eyed I’ve got to be Busy Bessie, the Cheerful-Chirker-up.’ "So I notice,” said Billy, “but you usually manage to spring that gag on the strangers.” “You needn’t worry, Billy,” she re torted. "Not that you’ve got any mortgage on the premises, but that I hate to see you taking all that spite out on the poor Dagoes. Considering the couple of hundred dollars my pet Hick has left, he’s not likely to be in any more.” She was mistaken. In a week he was in again, more aggressive even than he had been the first time. Some way there was a change in him. The noisy tie was gone, he had a new hat, and he carried himself a shade “scrappy,” as she expressed it. “Hello!” she hailed him. “I thought you’d gone back to the girl in Prosperity.” “Not yet,” he said. "I don’t think I’m going back except when I go after the girl.” “No?” she asked. “What’s hold ing you?” “Money,” he replied gleefully, and displayed a huge roll of bills. “Who died in your family?” she asked. "It isn’t that,” he '.laughed “but New York has too much loose coin for a man to leave. I’ve found out how to take Its wealth away from it.” “Good!” she exclaimed. “Little old New York needs a trimming. Go after it and get it good. But how are you doing it? I’m greedy to know.” “Oh, just speculating a little in stock and grains,” he replied. “Reuben, Reuben!” she gasped. “You’ll be the death of me yet.” "You’re mistaken in the name,” he retorted. “It’s Hiram H. Hanks of Hawkinsville, or possibly Josh Dill of Picklesburg.” She surveyed him with some dis favor. “My, but I bet they miss you in Prosperity. What a merry wag you must be when you’re going good.” “Regular clown,” he grinned. "Just for that I’ll make you listen to my real name.” From his pocket he drew a stamped and addressed letter and pointed to the “James E. Carroll” written in the corner under the Belveigh card. “And here’s the girl,” he said, pointing to the address with a strange combination of diffidence and assertiveness. "Elizabeth Ruth i! ~b\V l ’ill tariff ■ \mrtM% "M. r zj Ik j J "In a Big Red Racer With Three Stunning Chorus Girls.” Emery. Don’t you think its some pumpkins of a name?” “It’s a shine to Elizabeth E. Car roll; and for that I suppose I get paid double.” “You sure do,” he agreed. “I’m writing her a dandy letter. I’m tell ing her all about the good business I’m in and how much money I’m making. Why, say, do you known I’m ahead over five hundred dollars since I saw you?” The Manicure Girl pushed back his hand, and hastily reached down his hat from the hook overhead. “Run!” she exclaimed. “Get away quick before they find out you’ve got it, or they’ll take it away if they have to strangle you.” He merely grinned. “Oh, I don’t know,” he said con fidently. “I’ve noticed that the people who do gouge its money out of New York, and keep it, come from places like Prosperity, Indiana. There’s a lot more where this five hundred grew, and I’m going to pick it.” “Poor child,” she commiserated. “I can see your bumps on the way.” “Maybe so,” he admitted, “but let me tell you, little lady. I’ll be hav ing the time of my life until they reach me, and if they clean me I’ve made my three hundred stretch a long, long way.” He held his head high and his big shoulders square as he walked out, and Billy snorted; but he got no satis faction out of the Manicure Girl. THE WINSLOW MAIL. “Hick, isn’t he, Billy? Yap, I guess! Albo a pin-head and a few other things; but just the same, he came here to spend three hundred dollars, and he’s been here over a week, and he’s got about six hundred of it left I call that real Marathon blood my self. If you'd go out and turn a few tricks like that you could come down to your daily toil in a buzz-wagon.” "He’ll be down on the Bowery pan handling before he gets through,” growled Billy. It did not seem to happen right at once, however. Every time James E. Carroll came in he looked more pros perous, and he told the Manicure Girl each time of how much money he was making as a “grain and stock operator.” Every time it was more and more. He didn’t exactly boast about it; he was only gleeful in a large, childish way, and it is doubt ful if he gloated to any one else as he did to Miss Williams. He had constituted her his confidante from the beginning, and seemed to feel it a solemn duty, as well as a joy, to come in and let her know his prog ress. It was strange, too, to see his transition from a country boy to an all-roifiider. His clothing now was up to the minute, his talk up to the second, and everything about him was right on the dot; but in place of the rugged pink and brown of his cheeks he now had a massaged com plexion, and there were pouches under his eyes. The Manicure Girl came in one day laughing and still half vexed. “Guess where I saw James E. Car roll,” she said to Tess; "in a big red racer with three stunning chorus girls. I was with Frank —you know him; head rusher over at Churley’s. " ‘lt’s Plunger Jimmy Carroll,’ Frank told me. "‘Gee!’ I said. ‘Has he got so far along that Broadway knows him?* “ ‘Sure,’ said Frank. ‘He’s the hot test member on the main stem. He’s just Jimmy, along the line. All the late places know him and all the fol lies and Fluffies know him.’ How’s that for a pace?” "He got the quickest education of anybody ever I saw,” commented Tess. "If he was mine I'd have a sparkling rock as big as the. head of a hat pin out of him.” “You’ve had plenty of chances,” re torted Miss Williams, “but I don’t no tice that Tiffany effect on you.” Mr. Carroll came in the next day, beaming. "You ought to see my new car,” he told the Manicure Girl as he sat down at her table. ‘T saw’ it yesterday,” she snapped. “You were peddling a fine load of shrimps.” “Weren’t they the class of the i card?” he laughed, and seemed quite proud of it. “That flossy blonde on • the outside was Beauty Phillips, the ; sensation of ‘The Pink Canary.’ She’s going to star next season, and Angel Jimmy may hack the show.” “Fine for Beauty Phillips!” said the Manicure Girl, and then she was an grily silent for a few minutes. “Look here, Mr. James E. Carroll,” she sud denly demanded; “when did you write last to the girl in Prosperity?” “By George, I—l intended to write her last night,” he stammered. “I— i I haven’t been answering her letters as promptly as I ought, and that’s a fact.” “When did you write to —her?” she insisted. “Well, it’s been—why, confound it, ] it’s over three w r eeks,” he finally con fessed. i “And then I’ll bet it was on one ■ page,” she snapped back at him. ( “You told her you were too busy to write, only just those few lines, but | would write more tomorrow.” t That time she made him blush. s “Now,” she sternly went on, “you jgo right out of here and write to that 1 ; girl; and keep it up, or don’t ever ‘ come back.” 1 "Cross my heart, hope to die if I 1 don’t,” he promised. ; The next time he came in he was < i leading a particularly ugly bulldog. i “Isn’t that a lovely mut?” he asked as he tied the end of the chain to his t chair. “What’s it good for besides kill- 1 IngT’ she asked, eyeing the creature with supreme disfavor. “It’s to make an already peerless beauty look still more like a queen,” he told her, complacently. “I exam ined something like two tons of dogs to find this specimen. I bought it to take my place in the honk wagon alongside of Beauty Phillips, when I’m busy throwing a harpoon into the wheat pit” “Did you write that letter yet?” she demanded. “Yes,” he answered shortly. “It’s about time to write another one, isn’t it?” “No,” he replied, defiantly. “I’m not going to write any more.” She looked at him and shook her head, but she said nothing, and her very silence angered him. “What’s the use?” he hotly went on, and she divined that, after all, his anger was more at himself than at her. "Why should I hide the facts from myself any longer. I’ve grown away from Prosperity.” “I should say you had,” she agreed. “If Prosperity could know how you’ve changed for the worse, it wouldn’t recognize you on the street.” “It’s not my world any more,” he continued, paying no attention to her j interruption, “and the people are not j of my world.” “So you hinted before,” she re minded him; "but that doesn’t keep you from writing to the girl.” He hesitated sL moment. “But her letters do,” he finally said “I got one from her yesterday. It was about nothing but the new coat of paint on the Baptist church, and about there being an epidemic of measles in the town, and about —” “That’s about far enough,” she told him, furiously angry. “Awful drivel, isn’t it? I can see the little fool out there now, sitting down to write about such trifling things in her ignorance. Red hair I think you said she had, and red cheeks, and you called her Reddy. Coarse, ignorant, country per son, no doubt. Well, I don’t blame you for shaking her, now that you have got up among the real people, real ladies like Beauty Phillips and her crowd, and real gentlemen of the sort that loaf around the hotel bars on Broadway. You’re right to cut her dead right now. Why, she might sometime come to New York, and if she should happen to meet you on Broadway when you were with some of your swell friends, and should nod to you, you’d be disgraced for life. I’ll bet she’d be a scream on Broad way, with her funny clothes and her funny little hat and her red complex ion.” “That’ll be about all,” he said, as he jumped up and unwound his dog chain; and his face had turned sud denly pale. "My ideas have changed somewhat about things back in Pros perity, but I can’t stand for having that girl roasted, even in a joke.” It was over a month before he came in again, and the Manicure Girl had missed him. Now she saw at once that something was wrong. He was nervous and abstracted, though he tried to be his old flippant self. With the shrewd eyes of Miss Wil liams upon him he kept thinking of one thing w r hile he talked of another, asked questions without listening to the answers, then asked the same | questions again. “How much did you lose?” she finally asked him. He stared at her in wonder. “How r did you know? Where did you hear?” he slowly questioned. “You’ve been telling me ever since you came in,” she said. “I expect I have,” he admitted. “Well, they got to me in lumps and gobs. For the past month I think I was about the only bull in a bear market. I went down the greased in cline so fast it smoked from the fric tion. The first of this week I had to sell both automobiles.” “I can see the headlight and the glimmer studded watch going next,” she commented, with a shake of her head. “I suppose they’ve about got all that automobile money by now.” “Suppose again,” he retorted. “They did get nearly all of it at first, but the market changed at last, and I’ve made a little money since. If I’d close out now I’d have at least three thou sand.” “Tell me where It is and I’ll go get it for you,” offered the Manicure Girl, hastily. “You take that money and go right back to Prosperity, In diana; buy the village dry goods em porium; marry that girl; settle down 1 and get fat. Then this experience will have done you good.” He shook his head. “I can never go back there," he 1 said; “never! That’s not my world, I tell you. I’ll make back the money > I lost. I’ve learned a few tricks in the last couple of weeks.” : “Oh, New York will educate you,” she owned; “but, you know, college < graduates don’t amount to much.” "Never mind,” he insisted. “I’ve ' played this game to win before, and I can do it again. Watch me.” < “You’d better send at least one 1 thousand dollars of that money to the : girl back home to plant under the cellar stairs,” she suggested. She watched him narrowly, and J then she smiled to herself. The men- 1 tion of the girl in Prosperity did not i seem to annoy him this time. “That much money wouldn’t scare i s her, at any rate,” be said, smiling, i “She’s rather well-to-do for a coun- 1 try town. She’s an orphan and lives I with her married sister. But don’t 1 you worry about that thousand. I can use that to elegant advantage j ( myself.” r The next time she saw him was on l the street. He tried to pass on by with a nod, but she called to him and i he came back reluctantly. I a "What’s the matter with you?" she demanded. “You look like a yester day’s three-cent bunch of soup vege tables.” He glanced down at himself rue fully. His clothes needed brushing and pressing, his shoes needed polish ing, his face needed shaving. “I’ll give you four guesses.” he of fered, with an attempt at his old gayety. “I only need one,” she replied. "You wouldn’t listen to your Aunt Bessie, and they got you." “Yes,” he admitted, “they got me and they got me good. I haven’t a dollar.” “What are you going to do?" "I don’t know,” he said, and, in spite of his attempt to carry it off manfully, there was a catch in his voice. The ginger was all out of him. “I’ll get another start somehow, I guess.” "Oh, yes,” she agreed. "Some of your friends are sure to help you get back on your feet again; Beauty Phillips, for instance.” “Hang Beauty Phillips!” he said. “Such language!” she exclaimed, buj nevertheless she secretly delight ed in it, this time. "I guess you’re ; about ready to go back to Prosperity,” she decided. He drew a sharp breath. “I’d die first!” he declared. "I’ll live some way, though. They always live,” and he laughed bitterly. “I passed a group of just such men as I may become, sitting on the stone bench at Herald square; but I’ll keep on living, I am sure of that” He seemed to be afraid that he would not. He seemed to be afraid of himself, and suddenly Miss Wil liams saw with a shock that he was “one of the tragedy kind!” It set her to swift thought, and a sudden bold idea came to her. "I believe I know of an opening for you,” she said, with a suppressed gasp at her own temerity; “a part nership that would be about the best thing you ever had offered to you Come around and see me next Mon day afternoon.” "What kind of a business is it?” he asked eagerly, a new light of hope springing in his eyes. “You musn’t ask questions,” she warned him, "because I don’t want to disappoint you. I feel very sure, though, that I can,land it for you." That afternoon between work she wrote a letter, a proceeding which always made the boss barber nervous. Billy, however, managed to get a glimpse at the envelope before it was mailed, and felt better about it, for the letter was addressed to Elizabeth Ruth Emery, Prosperity, Indiana. On Monday morning, Elizabeth Ruth Emery and her sister arrived, and Elizabeth Ruth sent down word that she would like to see Miss Williams. That young lady promptly went up to the room, and was confronted by a girl almost as pretty as Jimmy had tried to describe. The two girls shook hands, and if there had been any distrust in the bosom of Miss Edwards it melted in a moment as she looked into the truthful eyes of Bessie Williams. “Where is Mr. Carroll?” asked the girl from Prosperity, with trembling eagerness. “How ill is he? Has he a good doctor?” “I’m his only doctor,” responded Miss Williams, “and the only pre scription I’ve given him was the one I wrote to you. You see, it isn’t his body that’s sick, it’s his mind. Jimmy Carroll’s a good boy, but he’s a fool.” Miss Emery flushed a bit, indig nantly, but her sister smiled. “I suspected as much,” she said. “I think your description is about right, Miss Williams. He is a good boy, and I’m afraid he is the rest of it.” “I guess he’s cured of that,” said Miss Williams, laughing, “but after all, he’s no bigger fool than the crowd that put him on the reefs. He thought he could play the bucket shops, and no living man has ever kept at that and finished on the cozy side of it. For about a month he thought he owned New York, and now he’s down and out; that’s all. I tried to get him to go home, but he wouldn’t go, so I sent for the sheriff.” The girl from Prosperity was non plussed; also she was honest. “I don’t quite know whether to thank you for inducing me to take this trip or not,” she said, a little coldly. “Wait until you see Jimmy,” re sponded Miss Williams easily, for she felt quite confident of the out come. It was about two o’clock when he came, looking worse than ever. He was pale now and also shabby, and she judged that maybe he was hun gry, too, but he was shaved and his clothes were brushed. She looked at his hand. The ring was gone. He had made that sacrifice to appear neatly in case the “partnership chance” should come out right, and he was tremblingly eager to know if she had heard anything favorable. She took him up to the girl from Prosperity just as he was. He will not be whiter when he is dead than he turned when he saw her. For a moment they just looked and looked. They were both trembling Then slowly she held out her hands to him. Suddenly, with a sob, he dropped on his knees before her, there upon the parlor floor, and buried his head upon her hands. Outside in the hall the Manicure Girl was dabbing her eyes with a pocket handkerchief and upbraiding herself. “I certainly am the prize Weeping Winifred,” she said, impatiently, as she hurried for the elevator.