The Outcast Manufacturers

A Hypertext Edition of Charles Hoy Fort's Book

Edited Mr. X

B.W. Dodge and Company


      PADDY'S MARKET! Every Saturday, though not fully epileptic with writhing and squirming, groan and convulsion, until evening, Ninth Avenue, from Forty-second Street to Thirty-eighth Street, is a market place. Wagons and stands, each wagon and each stand with a torch, or with several torches, so that, from a distance. Paddy's Market looks like a torchlight parade going up one side of the avenue and down the other side-- a night parade of flagellants shrieking with self-inflicted torture.
      Then, heard in the market itself, confused lamentation disintegrates into distinct and mercantile cries-- flagellants scourging themselves only with their arms, beating their breasts only to keep warm-- to rid themselves not of sin, but of cauliflowers and beets.
      Crowd on the sidewalk marching down the avenue, eight abreast-- ranks of fours tripping down, and fours struggling up-- bold front of nine sweeping up-- single files penetrating down; individuals filtering down-- up current again dominating, surging and thrusting back.
      Mr. Birtwhistle, with his satchel, was slowly walking down the east side of the avenue, stepping to one side to avoid a blind man who was singing, tapping with a cane-- Mr. Birtwhistle's own breaking off the bowl of a clay pipe in a man's mouth-- some one stepping on the toes of Mr. Birtwhistle, causing him to hop on the train of a woman's skirt, whipping around, face to face with him, just such a visage as such clumsiness would create.
      On the southeast corner of Forty-first Street Mr. Birtwhistle stood, uneasily playing with the satchel that hung from a strap around his neck.
      Mr. Birtwhistle opening the satchel, and opening his mouth. Nothing heard from Mr. Birtwhistle-- but frantic cries, hoarse cries, feeble and aggressive and mechanical cries from others:
      "Pick 'em out now; only a few more left! Try them before you buy them! Everything cheap!"
      Mr. Birtwhistle again opening his mouth-- his hand going to his mouth, fingers upon a tooth, as it he had opened his mouth to rub an aching tooth.
      "Twenty oranges for a quarter! All alive! Sell 'em out! Sell 'em out! Culleyflowwuz! culleyflowwuz!" A solid babel with overhead roars from elevated trains for a top.
      "Here you go!" remarked Mr. Birtwhistle-- glancing down, sorting over paper birds in the satchel.
      "Here you go!" cried Mr. Birtwhistle in a shrill, cracked voice.
      "Here you go!"-- in a deep bass.
      Mr. Birtwhistle sorting over, sorting over his red and green and orange and purple birds-- taking one from the satchel-- putting it back-- sorting over, sorting over-- taking one out and making it whistle. "Only two cents!"
      A young man and a young woman stopping-- Mr. Birtwhistle making a bird flutter and whistle. "Come on, you!"-- young woman laughing, shaking the young man's arm-- "we ain't got no babies!"
      "Two cents! three for five!" shouted Mr. Birtwhistle.
      Four or five youths coming along, eating stolen oranges-- a flattering, whistling bird-- a youth drawing back a rubber-band and shooting the head off the fluttering, whistling bird.
      Mr. Birtwhistle glaring the feeblest of glares-- stepping to the gutter, throwing away the headless bird-- returning to his place in front of the corner-saloon window. "What do you think of that?" he said to a chicken peddler, an old man with a white mustache like the hind legs of a little rabbit-- chicken peddler smiling sympathetically, shoulders huddling, dancing to keep warm, taking from his pocket a tomato can with a stone in it-- rattling the tomato can, shrieking: "Chickens, two shillings the pair!"-- pointing to his wagon, where lean and wretched chickens hung, long necks dangling-- "Chickens, two shillings apiece!"
      "Two cents! three for five!" remarked Mr. Birtwhistle-- people looking at his sample bird; laughing, calling one another's attention to it, going on-- an Italian coal-man, empty coal-bag under his arm, stopping, holding out two cents-- going away, coal-bag hugged high under his arm, grinning, holding up a bird, making it whistle.
      Peddlers crying: "Tabull celler-ee! No false bottoms! Everything cheap!"-- hands at the sides of their mouths; bending to shriek over folded arms; bending backward, shrieking, with backs braced by arm crossed behind; standing on toes to shriek.
      Small boys stopping in front of Mr. Birtwhistle. "Ain't that cute!"-- satirically-- hands nervously fluttering, to snatch. "Ain't that nice!"-- mockingly-- Mr. Birtwhistle turning his back to them and walking away-- coming back, smiling faintly to the chicken peddler, who said, sympathetically: "I wish I was home sleeping"-- running to his cart, holding up half a dozen miserable chickens by their legs, in one hand, holding them high. "Thirty cents a pair! They're beauts for thirty cents the pair!"
      A woman with a spool of thread in one hand, and a wash basket in the other hand, stopping-- Mr. Birtwhistle holding tip two fingers to her-- woman, to a child invisible in the crowd: "Want a birdie, Robbie?" A woman carrying artificial flowers and hard-shell crabs saying to her: "Go on! the house is full of such things." "Want a birdie, Robbie? Are they all good? Give me three. They're all good, are they?" Mr. Birtwhistle mumbling, keeping his eyes down to the satchel, putting three birds in an envelope.
      And some one else: "How much?" and: "Oh, two cents?" Going on, looking back, stepping on, stopping to look back, stepping and stopping until lost to sight.
      The veering torches. A hundred torches streaming in a north wind, then all flaming erect, then all slanting back.
      Youths gathering around Mr. Birtwhistle: "Oh, ain't that lovely!"-- affecting feminine voices-- Mr. Birtwhistle turning his back to them and walking away-- a youth running after him and tilting his hat over his eyes-- Mr. Birtwhistle standing face toward the saloon window-- a youth creeping behind him, knocking off his hat-- Mr. Birtwhistle silent, picking up his hat-- youths walking on, one running back and pushing Mr. Birtwhistle against the window-- Mr. Birtwhistle turning around-- smiling faintly to the chicken peddler, who said, sympathetically: "I wish it was twelve o'clock"; then vociferating: "Twenty cents apiece! we've got to sell 'em! we must sell 'em!" His white mustache, with hanging ends leaping up and down, like the hind legs of a running rabbit.
      A woman, with a child's cape over her head, saying to Mr. Birtwhistle: "Did they hurt you?"
      "Who? Oh, no, no!"
      "They ought to be ashamed to hurt you!"
      Mr. Birtwhistle edging away: "Oh, no, ma'am! not at all!"
      "Did they hurt you?"
      Mr. Birtwhistle closing his satchel, closing his eyes: "Oh, no, ma'am; not at all!"
      "They're the fresh things to hit you so!"
      Mr. Birtwhistle holding his satchel closed, his hand running up the strap, lifting the strap from his shoulder.
      "What's the matter? Bum graft here?" asked the chicken peddler.
      Mr. Birtwhistle opening his satchel and holding up two fingers again.
      "Give me one of them jumping-jacks" said a woman to Mr. Birtwhistle-- a scrawny woman, wearing a man's straw hat, trimmed with an old black veil. "I wants it for my old man"-- to the chicken peddler. "He's a big child, and 'tis any toy would please him"-- to anybody who cared to listen to her. "Sure, he'd sit and play with a jumping-jack, like that, by the hour. Give him a ball with a string to it and he'll play with the kitten the night long. But"-- to Mr. Birtwhistle-- "I always say 'tis better to have him that way than out, the Lord knows where, by night."
      "Yes, ma'am," said Mr. Birtwhistle.
      "Then give me one of them jumping-jacks; 'twill keep him at home."
      Stands and carts loaded with oranges and cocoanuts; potatoes, socks, oilcloth, dolls, St. John's bread-- phonographs and automatic pianos playing in butcher shops.
      "Mr. Birtwhistle!" Mr. McKicker stood with his hand upon Mr. Birtwhistle's arm-- Mr. Birtwhistle snapping shut his satchel-- opening his satchel, as if defiantly.
      "Shall we walk?" said Mr. McKicker, with his hand upon Mr. Birtwhistle's arm, firmly leading him down the side street--Mr. McKicker walking in silence, his head thrust forward, for half a block; and then:
      "Mr. Birtwhistle, you'd better come back to your rooms. I've been looking all over for you. If you've lost your furniture, I'll replace it. You'd better come back to your rooms.
      "No, don't thank me!"-- walking with his hand raised to the side of his face. Silent; hand raised; then:
      "I'll be frank with you, and then you do as I wish. I expect to be elected leader of this district-- no, let me get through! Between ourselves, suppose a leader sells out the interest of his people, betrays them, defeats their measures, sells out their franchises--"
      "Lots of them do."
      "Only lots? You'd think they'd all do such a safe and easy thing as that. But suppose a leader has it on his record that he dispossessed poor tenants of his? Mr. Birtwhistle, you'd better come back to your rooms."

Next Chapter


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

Chapter 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 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.

Return to Mr. X's Fortean Web-Site

Communications, (preferably in English), may be sent to Mr. X by electronic mail at or by letters to: Box 1598, Kingston, Ontario K7L 5C8 CANADA.

© X, 2000