The Outcast Manufacturers

A Hypertext Edition of Charles Hoy Fort's Book

Edited Mr. X

B.W. Dodge and Company


      THE outcasts of the Universal Manufacturing Company. Eastward along a street leading from lower Sixth Avenue. Mr. Parker walking steadily ahead; hands in side pockets; bundle of letters in an elbow crook against his side-- his trefoil head-- derby, too small, in a top leaflet; his bushy hair rounding out in lateral leaflets. Mr. Birtwhistle linked with his nieces. Then Messrs. Rakes and Sanguinetti-- Mr. Sanguinetti holding back, mumbling: "Let's go on the other side of the street." His baseball suit, and one white knee; no hat; stained handkerchief encircling his forehead, threads of tobacco hanging down from the handkerchief to his nose. He had been through somewhat lively experiences, but his coarse, black hair was neatly parted, exactly in the middle-- long, narrow head-- top view of it like the back of a little, long-coated, black dog.
      On a corner Mr. Parker stopped and stood, arms to sides, legs crossed, body curved like the stem of a three-leafed clover. Mr. Birtwhistle, arm-in-arm with his nieces, walking briskly up to the corner. "Here," said Mr. Parker casually, "is where I generally come."
      "Merciful heavens! where are we?"
      "I cannot tell a lie; it's Washington Park."
      Northwest corner of Washington Park. Round white lights in a mass of trees, like such perforations in darkness as would be seen by a bug in a pepper-box, looking up at the sky. A diagonal dark path bordered with shiny streaks, which were the seats and the backs of pale-light-reflecting benches.
      Mr. Sanguinetti holding Mr. Rakes back, and both standing by a stoop, some distance from the corner.
      "Let us go to a bench in the darkest part," Emma was saying; "I'd be that mortified if anybody, should see me spending a night in the park."
      "That's here," said Mr. Parker, pointing to the diagonal path, dark, but banded with shiny streaks.
      "My references!" cried Katie. "No, they're all right!"
      "Faith," said Emma, "but your character is a terrible inconvenience to you, Miss Dunphy."
      "If I lost it," said Katie simply, "I'd not like to trouble Mr. Rakes for another one."
      "No trouble at all," called Sim, dragging along Mr. Sanguinetti, who tried to hold back. "I have my fountain-pen with me."
      "Ah, 'tis grand to have a fountain-pen; then a body need never be without a character."
      So, reassured, and holding her "character" tight in her hand, Katie was ready, without much concern, for a night in the park.
      Then six dots in the shiny streaks. "It's too dark here," Mr. Birtwhistle worried, and feeling responsibility. Messrs. Parker and Sanguinetti sitting together. Mr. Birtwhistle sitting between Emma and Sim. "I think we'd better walk around a little," said Sim, jumping up and sitting beside Katie, laughing and pushing to push Mr. Birtwhistle off the bench. "Now, Sim, you've got to behave yourself, you know." Mr. Birtwhistle pushed off the bench, but motioning to Katie to move along so that he could sit between her and Sim. "Dear me. I think we'd better walk. Isn't it cold?" Sim laughing and jumping back to his place beside Emma. "Now, Sim, I won't have any carrying on."
      "Indeed," said Katie, "and would I pass a night in a park, beside a married man?" jumping up and sitting beside Sim-- all three unruly ones pushing and pushing Mr. Birtwhistle off the bench. "Now, Sim, I won't tell you again!"
      "Sure, sit ye here between us, uncle dear!" But Mr. Birtwhistle standing up, in front of the bench, looking worried with so much responsibility. "I think we'd better walk, or we'll catch cold."
      Farther up the path, an illuminated face suddenly flaring yellow-- far away, another bright yellow face in the dark-homeless occupants of benches lighting their pipes.
      "What are they doing here?" asked Katie resentfully, as if it were her park.
      "They're sitting on the benches," said Sim.
      "Oh, how bright! My, isn't he smart!"
      The rustling of leaves in the mind; rustling like discreet laughter at a serious lecture; rustling beginning like uneasiness in seats, communicating, swelling, dying away.
      "Indeed, Mrs. Maheffy!," Emma was saying, "but you're not so very particular yourself, in paying back. That's the very can of stove polish you borried off of Mrs. Birtwhistle a month ago. I ought to of flung that at her!"
      "Birt why don't you sit down?" asked Sim. "I had to laugh, Emma, at those people, most of the time. I didn't have one speck of gratitude to them. And do you know why? They were keeping us there because they didn't dare turn us off; hadn't the courage, you know, and not hospitality at all. I don't know. It seemed creditable to me to force people to buy two pounds and a half of fine halibut for me. It seems strong to impose yourself upon people who don't want you. I do admire anything that seems strong. Maybe I'll make my living as a swindler. It seems strong to impose upon your fellowmen and make them support you in luxury and ease."
      "I likes a man of principle!" said Emma. "I likes principle above everything else. I wouldn't give two cents for you swindlers--"
      "Beg my pardon!" cried Sim, seizing any opportunity to show his strength, clutching Emma's fingers, bending them back. "Beg!"
      "I'd die first!"
      "Beg!" and Emma shrieking to her Uncle Birt. "Sim! Sim! let her alone. What kind of a way is that to behave? Emma, you encourage him, you know you do. I'll go up to Madison Square or somewhere else."
      "Oh, sit down!" said Sim, motioning to his right side.
      "And the frying-pan," said Emma gloomily. "Mrs. Maheffy, you'd better give back Mrs. Tunnan's frying-pan, before you talk of others so much. Why didn't I think of the frying-pan? She's bringing up her children wrong; that impudent little girl will never be any good to her. I'm sure I don't wish her no harm, but she's not bringing up that child right. I was out with her yesterday, and the young one got on my side. Do you think she'd have it? The jealousy of her! 'Come over here, out of the people's way!' she says. 'Look at the dirt of yourself, after my spending nine-fifty for you on Easter!' I'd let her know if I only had to go through it again-- sure, what are you doing? Mr. Sim-- writing more characters?" Sim writing in a note-book.
      "I'm taking notes for a letter to my uncle," said Sim. "I want to describe the Fifth Avenue club I belong to. I want to paralyze him with my luxury."
      "Sure, you couldn't have any better luck!" said Emma, reaching in front of Mr. Birtwhistle and snatching the note-book---Sim jumping up to have a struggle---Mr. Birtwhistle exclaiming: "I'll go right up to Madison Square! If you can't behave yourselves, I won't stay here!"
      "Sure, uncle, dear, if you did, we'd all go with you, and you'd be no better off," said Emma, handing back the note-book.
      "Mercy!" screeched Katie, jumping up from the bench, slapping down at her ankles.
      "Katie, what's the matter with you? Do you want to attract the attention of the whole park?"
      "Mercy! there's something got me!"
      Mr. Sanguinetti, on the next bench, awakened, mumbling: "Then I'll go with youse. That's me, all the way through."
      Only a big leaf had edged across the path, crept stealthily under the bench, pounced upon Katie's ankle, and then darted away; only a playful, big dried leaf. The path, which, from the corner, had looked so dark, was quite light to eyes accustomed to it, path scattered with leaves, never so much alive as when they were dead; creeping in the wind, two or three racing, then a whole regiment charging, with a commander-in-chief of a big, flat leaf, gallantly and noisily in the lead. Leaves like crawling crabs; tiny, scudding leaves; awkwardly flapping leaves. Leaves suddenly silent and motionless; then a big fellow heard crackling along a full minute before he appeared in sight, himself and his shadow like opening and shutting jaws, as he blundered along.
      "With a peck of dirt swept under your bed, Mrs. Maheffy," said Emma, "you are indeed the good housekeeper! Katie and meself must indeed of been hard up to come to you for a night's lodgings! If I only had it to go through with again, wouldn't I give it to her! And last spring, Mrs. Maheffy, when you hung out blankets every day, I'll take my oath 'twas the same old blanket out, over and over again!"
      "I cares nothing for her, nor what she says," said Katie, "so long as I have me own character; and what has a poor girl but that? And wish I had a roast of lamb with half a cup of blood flowing around on the platter!"-- sitting with the "character" of Mr. Rakes' invention tight in her hand.
      "We're going to have company," whispered Emma.
      "And what do they want here?" said Katie resentfully.
      "We'd better take a little walk," said Mr. Birtwhistle.
      A man with a bundle under each arm had come to an opposite bench, right after him, a drunker man, just able to reach the bench, fall on it, and lie, moaning curses, with knees high; and another drunken man, not only able to reach the bench, but to sit up, with legs stretched out, and hands in pockets, and hat-brim over eyes. Right after them a business man-- business-like man, who put bundles on a bench, gave them the pats a chambermaid gives to pillows, took off his coat, wound the coat about his head and shoulders, and lay down to sleep.
      "And what do they want here?" said Katie resentfully.
      "They come here because it's the darkest part, and they won't be seen so much," said Mr. Parker, moving away from Mr. Sanguinetti and toward Katie.
      "Oh, no!" said Katie; "that's why we came here."
      "Yes," agreed Sim; "that's why we came here. I wonder what brings all them."
      A hiccoughing old man and a hiccoughing old woman; old woman hiccoughing: "I left him! He didn't put me out; I left him of me own accord!"
      More forms coming down the path, dark, with light shining between legs and through elbow crooks. Forms on benches on both sides of the path; the two drunken men and a dozen sober men opposite the castaways of the Universal Manufacturing Company.
      "But how does it happen they all come at once?" Sim whispered. Then he sat up straight and folded his arms and scowled, but at no particular man, across the path.
      Hands of the man sitting opposite going into their pockets, breaking off pieces of bread in their pockets.
      "Birt," said Mr. Parker, "you're an old New Yorker. Don't you know where they come from?"
      "I suppose the saloons are closing--"
      "No, it's about twelve o'clock."
      Electric light glistening on the cheeks of men munching bits of bread from their pockets.
      "The bread line!" said Mr. Parker.
      "Then why should I know? Do you think I'd ever accept anybody's bread? Oh, well, that's what you're coming to, Sim!"
      But Sim was occupied with scowling and looking forbidding.
      "Look at that one with his hat off," whispered Katie. "I does feel sorry for him. 'Tis sad to be in a park without no money nor home. I does feel sorry for that one."
      "Why?" asked Sim, trying to seem unconscious of others, rather than forbidding.
      "Why," said Katie vaguely, "because his hair is curly. I does feel sorry for that one."
      "We'd better move on," said Mr. Birtwhistle.
      "Yes," said Emma; "I'd not like to be seen in such company."
      "Why not? why not?" cried Sim, excited. "I'd like to see anybody bother you! I'd just like to see them! Huh!"
      Opposite men paying them no attention; paying each other no attention; sitting. silent, staring up at rustling leaves; shadows, and gleams from electric light flickering on their munching jaws; hands crumbling off bits of bread in pockets. Prostrate drunken man, with knees high, moaning curses-- sitting drunken man swaying, staggering to his feet, reeling, but not taking his hands from his pockets to balance with.
      "I wonder what has they in their bundles?" said Katie.
      "Be quiet, Katie!" said Mr. Birtwhistle nervously.
      "Shut up, you!"'-- reeling drunken man to the prostrate drunken man. "Shut up, you! Do you want to be waking the boarders, boy? Let the boarders sleep, boy!"
      Silent, staring, munching men spreading out on the benches, making room to lie down.
      "Shut up, boy!"-- reeling to a tree, where he stood, with his back propped. "There's ladies present. Boy, the boarders is complaining of you!"
      "Come"' said Mr. Birtwhistle; "it's cold sitting here."
      Sim grumbling: "I'd like to see anybody drive me away from here! but going down to the next bench, shaking Mr. Sanguinetti's shoulder.
      "I don't see what you want to bring him along for!"said Emma. "If it wasn't for him we'd not be here."
      "He have lovely hair," said Katie.
      "All right; I'll go with you, then," said Mr. Sanguinetti, rising unsteadily.
      Southwest corner of the park. A circle of pavement; brightly lighted circle blotched with the shadows of overhead leaves; each black leaf plain on the gray sidewalk, down to details of serrated edge, black and magnified to saucer size; an intermingling of black twigs.
      "Emma, are you cold?" asked Mr. Parker-- outcasts again sitting down.
      "Faith, I've got the family wardrobe on me. Is this one cold, I don't know?"
      "The air is that penetrating," said Katie, "but 'tis fresh and fine, and I'm enjoying every bit of it."
      "I'll be back in a minute," said Mr. Parker. "I'll show you what I generally do."
      "Ah, yes," said Katie, "'tis fine to have along anybody who's experienced, along with you. Mr. Sim, would you jump up and come stand in front of me?"-- a prosperous-looking couple entering the park.
      "Indeed!" said Emma, "we're as good as what they are!"
      "Would ye stand in front of me, Mr. Sim?" Sim, laughing, jumping up, standing in front of her-- prosperous-looking couple approaching. "What will they think of me! Don't let them see me, Mr. Sim!" Sim pretending that he would sit down again. Emma saying: "Well, I do think it's about time for us to go home; we've seen enough of this!" "Yes." from Katie, "I'm enjoying every bit of it, but 'tis time to go home.'; Sim laughing: "Go on! you didn't pay your rent you have no home!"-- Sim squealing-- Emma's hatpin and his arm-- Mr. Birtwhistle nervously: "You'll attract attention! Be quiet, Sim!" Emma asking: "Did I hurt you, Mr. Sim?" Sim crying: "If I don't take that from you and stick you, like a fly, on it!" Mr. Birtwhistle saying: "Sim, you let her alone!" and Mr. Sanguinetti fast asleep. Prosperous-looking couple passing on, then sitting on a bench, laughing and chatting and passing a bag of apples to each other.
      "I should think she'd be ashamed of herself!" said Katie. "Thank God, I have me character; and what has a poor girl but that?" Sim saying: "If you lose it, come to me."
      Great black leaves swaying gently in the circle of light; wind coming up, and commotion setting in; a tossing and a clashing of shadow leaves, looking so real that one would expect at least the shadow of rustling sound. Leaves crowded into compact black, masses, and then spots of light springing in, where leaves sprang apart.
      Prosperous-looking couple, farther up the path, laughing and throwing apple cores at a creeping white cat-- white cat's legs twinkling like a paling fence seen from a car window.
      Then Mr. Parker came back. His bundle of letters under one arm, and under the other arm newspapers that had been tossed under the benches during the day; Mr. Parker calling blithely. "Uxtral Uxtra! frightful railroad accident!"-- taking cord front his pocket.
      "I'll make you some jackets; this is what I generally do," said Mr. Parker, spreading newspapers on Emma's shoulders.
      "Indeed, and not on your life!" cried Emma, jumping up and shaking the newspapers off.
      "But they're very warm; you've no idea how warm newspapers are."
      "It's not dignified, Asbury," said Mr. Birtwhistle; "the girls don't want to make shows of themselves."
      "Not me, Mr. Parker! Tie them on Katie, if she's willing for to be a sight."
      "Sure! I'm cold!" said Katie. "The air is that penetrating; but, like good lads, let ye jump up and stand in front of me, if there's anybody comes along."
      Mr. Parker spreading Katie with newspapers, making a bundle of her, from her throat to her waist.
      "But, Katie," said Emma, "we'll not leave New York."
      "Faith, we'd never be happy anywheres but New York."
      "At least our office fees is paid-- ah, Katie, will we ever learn sense? To see us like this, and out in a public park, at night, what would our old mother say?"
      A fête of fairies in garments of black, playing and dancing in their plaza of light.
      "Velvet gowns", said Katie, "were never more fashionable, and never worn for such di-- diverse occasions before--"
      "Without a cent in our pockets, and not knowing where our next meal is coming from."
      "For visiting and reception gowns, nothing is smarter, and for tea gowns, very ef-- effective--"
      "Winter coming and not a suitable thread to our backs-- What are you talking about, Katie Dunphy?"
      "The shot velvet costume made in velveteen or silk velvet, prefer--ably the former, is intended for morning wear-- 'tis the fashions, Emma!"-- holding up her newspaper-sleeved arm, from which she had been reading.
      "Oh, the fashions!" said Emma, twisting the papered arm so that both could read. "One of the smartest models is the nine-gored skirt-- ah, but, sure, and everything is that delaborate, nowadays! The long reefer fastened with bone buttons, and with no trimmings of any kind-- well, there's some saving there!"
      "But what are you going to do in the morning?" asked Sim.
      "The bolero effect coming in again-- oh, do? Mark me," said Katie stoutly, "there'll be little picking and choosing, now, but I'd rather come sit here a year than--"
      "--than go into a kind, Christian home!" Emma declared. "May the divil fly away with their kind, Christian homes!"
      "But what are you going to do?"
      "Among the figured velvets, the smartest are in different kinds of gray."
      "Yes," said Mr. Birtwhistle. "Listen, now, and we'll talk it all over."
      "What if you don't get a place to-morrow?" asked Sim.
      "How about breakfast?" asked Mr. Parker.
      "In ball gowns, a broad band of lace on velvet, with the same style of embroidery, is a popular fashion. A smart afternoon gown is of white lace, cut princesse, and worn with a picture hat."

Next Chapter


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

Chapter 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 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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