The Outcast Manufacturers

A Hypertext Edition of Charles Hoy Fort's Book

Edited Mr. X

B.W. Dodge and Company


      IT WAS about ten o'clock at night. A returning excursion had paraded past the McKicker house. Up the street, the white caps of excursionists, rosy in red fire, were bobbing like apples in a torrent. Street like a canon through which a freshet had swept; in open windows fluttered ribbons and capes and fragments of shawls, like debris lodged in niches of canon walls; between railings of stoops were people, lined like wreckage caught on projections of a canon floor.
      Mr. Birtwhistle and Sim standing on their stoop. "What's the trouble? Let's go down and see," said Sim.
      A few doors away was a saloon. Through the swinging doors of the saloon shot a left- over excursionist in a baseball suit, stumbling to his knees, half rising, stumbling to his knees again, and falling with his face on the edge of the curbstone. A large man, in a vast, white apron-- enormous mustache, with ends twisted into dainty curls-- appeared between the swinging doors. Taking long, deliberate steps, but with his fat arms twitching up and down, he stepped to the curb, and stood, puffing, breathing hard, restraining himself from further attack-- the scattered crowd in the street concentrating like heads on suddenly crumpled cloth.
      "What's the matter?" asked Sim, pushing his way into the crowd, helping the baseball player to rise-- a young, black-haired fellow-- blood trickling from n cut in his forehead.
      "Oh, do you want some, too?" said the saloon-keeper, breathing hard, turning deliberately toward Sim, but his short, fat arms twitching up and down.
      Sim pretending not to hear; steadying the baseball player, who, rising, was bending. examining the torn knee of his stocking.
      "I say!"-- puffing and puffing, face crimson with some self-restraint-- "you're a pretty big bloke! You can have the same."
      "That's all right, Sweeney," said Mr. Birtwhistle, "he's a friend of mine."
      "Hello, Mr. Birtwhistle! Put a yachting cap on some of these blokes, and they think they can sail over you!"-- turning to the baseball player, puffing and puffing, to hold himself back; returning to his saloon; long, slow strides; short arms twitching nervously up and down.
      "Wait till I tie this handkerchief around your head," said Sim. "Has anybody got a plug of tobacco?"
      A policeman edging into the crowd; not forcing his way; hovering and silent-- somebody asking him. "What's the matter, officer?" "That's what I'm trying to find out"-- policeman drawing back in the crowd, uneasily fingering his chin, pinching his chin.
      Some one in the crowd suggesting: "They done you out of your watch, too, didn't they?"
      Helpless-looking youth, feebly waving away Sim's handkerchief: "I must say I don't know."
      "Well, they got your watch, all right!"
      "I must say I don't know. If you say they did--"
      Policeman stepping a little forward: "Be sure what you're saying."
      "I must say I don't know."
      Policeman backing away, walking down the street, flicking his club at boys, gazing up at windows, coming back to the swinging doors of the saloon, going into the saloon, coming right out, scratching his ear.
      "Well, you'd better wash up your face. You can get this man any time. He does business here. No use doing anything to-night."
      Said the policeman to Sim: "Take him up and wash his face before he goes home. Do you live around here? This man does business here, and can't run away."
      "Come on with me," said Sim; "I'll fix you up."
      "This is the limit! Say, this is the limit!"
      The Maheffys' front room. Katie and Emma sitting on the table. Mrs. Maheffy and Mr. Parker talking, sitting in chairs against the west wall. Mr. Maheffy, with a flatiron, breaking slats of green-grocer's box on the stone window sill-- Mrs. Maheffy red and white striped, blue and white checked-- Mr. Maheffy's furrowed back.
      "So," Mr. Maheffy was saying to Mr. Parker, "if you go over to the hotel with Maheffy in the morning, he will see you taken care of, and started with a good job. Oh, yes, he can get anything he wants. Emma, who's on the stairs? Ah, but I'm the one will keep to myself, if 'tis God's will I'm ever back again to private life and times of peace."
      Emma, with eyes that seemed crossed, as she pondered this speech, went to the door, and opened it. A shriek from Mrs. Maheffy: "Mr. Rakes, what does this mean? Oh, my poor heart! What have you done? Don't, under any consideration, bring him in here!" Sim and Mr. Birtwhistle and the black-haired youth with his blood-stained face.
      "Oh. Katie, I could never stand the sight of blood! I'm faint! Mr. Parker, I'm faint! If you but say blood to me, my poor heart jumps into my throat! Don't bring him in here!"
      Youth trying to withdraw from the doorway, but Sim holding him fast. "Mrs. Maheffy, let me explain--"
      "More of it! oh, more of them, hey?" said Mr. Maheffy, turning around, looking, whistling, going on with his breaking of wood. Whereupon, Mrs. Maheffy was sitting up, far from faint, clutching handfuls of blue-and-white-checked apron.
      "Don't bring him in here, I say! More of them? I should think there are enough of us here now. I should think, Mr. Birtwhistle, you'd have the sense to see there are quite enough of us here without bringing in another to share the bite we eat!"
      Dazed youth mumbling: "Thank you, ma'am, but I've had my supper. It's this lad brought me up. I don't care about any supper, thank you, ma'am."
      "Mrs. Maheffy, we're only bringing him here until--"
      "As if 'twas not hard enough scraping as it is, without bringing no more mouths to feed!"
      Youth shaking Sim's hand from his arm, advancing toward Mrs. Maheffy, holding out a ticket. "See! the dinner coupon's gone. I had my dinner, ma'am"-- then backing away from shrieking Mrs. Maheffy, who was clutching handfuls of apron and wrapper too-- "Well, this is the limit, for fair!"
      "There's scarce room to move and breathe, as it is! And you have no more sense than to bring in another mouth to feed! Oh, then, and, oh, then, this is too much for mortal patience to bear! Was I Job herself this would be past mortal patience to bear! Then is the lot of yez here?"
      "Mrs. Maheffy, you don't understand--"
      "Is the hull of yez here, or are there more coming? Let me wait till the hull of yez is here! I'll bide my time till you're satisfied, Mr. Birtwhistle. Are you satisfied, now, and is this military man the last you'll bring, or do you want time to search the street for more mouths to bring in to feed? Bring them here till you're tired. Then is the hull of yez here? I want the lot of yez to be here, and mark me!"
      "Mrs. Maheffy, don't get so excited! You're taking up the wrong meaning of this--"
      "Excited, is it? And who'd not be excited, with, let alone, the whole neighborhood, but here the militia brought in, and Maheffy to work for a regiment to feed? I don't care what regiment he belongs to, nor was be the whole militia of the State of New York, he can't forage here-- no, he could not, was he the Sixty-ninth Regiment itself! Then out of me sight with the lot of yez, militia and manufacturers, too, and go laughing to yourselves of the fool you made of Mrs. Maheffy, up to her two eyes. The militia, how are you! The honor 'twould be, the whole United States army for Maheffy to feed!"
      Mr. Parker coming back from an inner room, making a bundle of old letters and perhaps a collar and necktie, but nothing more.
      "Ah, Mrs. Maheffy!" said Katie.
      Sim and Mr. Birtwhistle talking with the "militia" out in the hall.
      "Daylight robbers! daylight robbers!"
      "Ah. sure, Mrs. Maheffy--"
      "Daylight robbers! midnight robbers, out of me sight!"
      Emma coming from an inner room, piling clothing on the table: "Katie, I'll slip on the extra skirts, and you bundle up these things. Thank you! oh, thank you, Mrs. Maheffy!"
      "Where's me provisions, laid away for the winter? Where's me rent coming from?"
      "Consider yourself paid, Mrs. Maheffy," said Emma, slipping a brown skirt over her head; emerging, pointing to clothing that Katie should bundle up. Katie sighing, making a bundle, going to an inner room, and coming back with hats.
      Mr. Maheffy, flatiron in one hand, a slat in the other hand, turning around: "There's plenty of newspaper"-- whistling, turning around to break more wood.
      "There out of me sight! out of me sight! Mr. Parker, you're a gentleman, and you may remain-- but the other fine gentleman, with his nose in the air, and too grand for this or that; but, Mr. Parker, you stay where you are."
      Emma, slipping on a green skirt: "There's not much room here, but I guess I can manage"-- then putting on her hat, and, indistinctly, because of a hatpin in her mouth: "Oh, thank you, Mrs. Maheffy, I am sure."
      "Oh, stay?" said Mr. Parker; but with his little bundle under his arm he went to the hall-- baseball player was saying: "Well, it's a hard case-- you know what I mean! I'll give you another handkerchief for this. I'm sorry you're in any trouble on my amount-- you know what I mean. But you come with me. That's me, all the way through. I got you in trouble, and you can stay at my place for the night."
      "The ladies!" said Mr. Birtwhistle. "We have ladies with us."
      "Oh, are they? I don't know what my sister would say to that. Then I'll go with you. That's me, all the way through." Sim hesitating in the doorway, and then, with an effort, stepping back into the room, until the Miss Dunphys should be ready to leave.
      "If there isn't enough newspaper, I can get plenty more," said Mr. Maheffy over a pointed shoulder.
      "Oh. thank you, Mrs. Maheffy!"-- voices of the Miss Dunphys, both indistinct, both with hatpins in their mouths-- "you're only showing your own ignorance, you with your old jail-bird of a husband, and yet you dare hold up your head!"
      Sim imploring: "Oh, say, now, don't say any more, you know!"
      "Where's me two pounds and a half of fine halibut? Yes, go on, after eating me two pounds and a half of fine halibut, and every morning the poor child going off to school without enough to eat!"
      "You have your audacity with you, anyway, Mrs. Maheffy-- yes, we're ready and only too glad to be ready to leave, Mr. Sim." Miss Dunphys to the stairs, calling back: "Was it me, I'd not dare open my mouth. Oh, thank you, and consider yourself paid!"
      "Where's me bottle of relish that lasted the one meal-- that the divil had choked you with it! Who'll bring me back me bottle of relish, I say ?"
      Down the stairs to the front door, where Mrs. Tunnan greeted them with:
      "You know, girls, I'd take you in, in a moment, but for bringing Mrs. Maheffy's tongue on to me--"
      "Oh, indeed, and thank you, ma'am," said Emma; "but our cousin in Brooklyn is well able to take care of us."
      Katie shouting her laugh of "Ho! ho!"
      "Be still, Katie! Yes, indeed, our cousin in Brooklyn will be glad to have us, and the fools we were not to go there in the first place. Indeed, but they have a house of their own, and we'd gone, only was waiting till I've got our fall hats-- these are good enough for a few weeks yet."
      "Where's me condensed milk, me sugar, me tea?"
      "Don't mind that woman, Katie! Indeed, Mrs. Tunnan, and we did not stay there for nothing. How well you're not welcome when your money's gone; then you can be ready to clear. I wonder how long it will take us to get to Flatbush Avenue? Katie, say good-by to Mrs. Tunnan; we must get there before the house is closed."
      The outcast gentlemen waiting at the foot of the stoop: then the Miss Dunphys going with them down the street.
      "She excited me something terrible!" said Katie.
      "I consider who it's from," said Emma haughtily. "Where will we go?"
      "Well, then, I'll go with you," said the "militia." "That's me, all the way through."

Next Chapter


B.W. Dodge and Company (1909) edition:

Chapter 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 11 12 13 14 15 16 17

Pearson's Magazine (American Edition) version:

Chapter 1 2 3 4 5

The Pearson's version can be resumed at chapter 9 of the Dodge edition.

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