Readme.it in English  home page
Readme.it in Italiano  pagina iniziale
readme.it by logo SoftwareHouse.it

Ebook in formato Kindle (mobi) - Kindle File Ebook (mobi)

Formato per Iphone, Ipad e Ebook (epub) - Ipad, Iphone and Ebook reader format (epub)

Versione ebook di Readme.it powered by Softwarehouse.it


McTeague: A Story of San Francisco

Frank Norris

CHAPTER 1

It was Sundayandaccording to his custom on that dayMcTeague took hisdinner at two in the afternoon at the car conductors' coffee-joint on PolkStreet. He had a thick gray soup; heavyunderdone meatvery hoton a coldplate; two kinds of vegetables; and a sort of suet puddingfull of strongbutter and sugar. On his way back to his officeone block abovehe stopped atJoe Frenna's saloon and bought a pitcher of steam beer. It was his habit toleave the pitcher there on his way to dinner.

Once in his officeoras he called it on his signboard"DentalParlors" he took off his coat and shoesunbuttoned his vestandhavingcrammed his little stove full of cokelay back in his operating chair at thebay windowreading the paperdrinking his beerand smoking his huge porcelainpipe while his food digested; crop-fullstupidand warm. By and bygorgedwith steam beerand overcome by the heat of the roomthe cheap tobaccoandthe effects of his heavy mealhe dropped off to sleep. Late in the afternoonhis canary birdin its gilt cage just over his headbegan to sing. He wokeslowlyfinished the rest of his beer--very flat and stale by this time--andtaking down his concertina from the bookcasewhere in week days it kept thecompany of seven volumes of "Allen's Practical Dentist" played uponit some half-dozen very mournful airs.

McTeague looked forward to these Sunday afternoons as a period of relaxationand enjoyment. He invariably spent them in the same fashion. These were his onlypleasures--to eatto smoketo sleepand to play upon his concertina.

The six lugubrious airs that he knewalways carried him back to the timewhen he was a car-boy at the Big Dipper Mine in Placer Countyten years before.He remembered the years he had spent there trundling the heavy cars of ore inand out of the tunnel under the direction of his father. For thirteen days ofeach fortnight his father was a steadyhard-working shift-boss of the mine.Every other Sunday he became an irresponsible animala beasta brutecrazywith alcohol.

McTeague remembered his mothertoowhowith the help of the Chinamancooked for forty miners. She was an overworked drudgefiery and energetic forall thatfilled with the one idea of having her son rise in life and enter aprofession. The chance had come at last when the father diedcorroded withalcoholcollapsing in a few hours. Two or three years later a travellingdentist visited the mine and put up his tent near the bunk-house. He was more orless of a charlatanbut he fired Mrs. McTeague's ambitionand young McTeaguewent away with him to learn his profession. He had learnt it after a fashionmostly by watching the charlatan operate. He had read many of the necessarybooksbut he was too hopelessly stupid to get much benefit from them.

Then one day at San Francisco had come the news of his mother's death; shehad left him some money--not muchbut enough to set him up in business; so hehad cut loose from the charlatan and had opened his "Dental Parlors"on Polk Streetan "accommodation street" of small shops in theresidence quarter of the town. Here he had slowly collected a clientele ofbutcher boysshop girlsdrug clerksand car conductors. He made but fewacquaintances. Polk Street called him the "Doctor" and spoke of hisenormous strength. For McTeague was a young giantcarrying his huge shock ofblond hair six feet three inches from the ground; moving his immense limbsheavy with ropes of muscleslowlyponderously. His hands were enormousredand covered with a fell of stiff yellow hair; they were hard as wooden malletsstrong as visesthe hands of the old-time car-boy. Often he dispensed withforceps and extracted a refractory tooth with his thumb and finger. His head wassquare-cutangular; the jaw salientlike that of the carnivora.

McTeague's mind was as his bodyheavyslow to actsluggish. Yet there wasnothing vicious about the man. Altogether he suggested the draught horseimmensely strongstupiddocileobedient.

When he opened his "Dental Parlors" he felt that his life was asuccessthat he could hope for nothing better. In spite of the namethere wasbut one room. It was a corner room on the second floor over the branchpost-officeand faced the street. McTeague made it do for a bedroom as wellsleeping on the big bed-lounge against the wall opposite the window. There was awashstand behind the screen in the corner where he manufactured his moulds. Inthe round bay window were his operating chairhis dental engineand themovable rack on which he laid out his instruments. Three chairsa bargain atthe second-hand storeranged themselves against the wall with militaryprecision underneath a steel engraving of the court of Lorenzo de' Mediciwhichhe had bought because there were a great many figures in it for the money. Overthe bed-lounge hung a rifle manufacturer's advertisement calendar which he neverused. The other ornaments were a small marble-topped centre table covered withback numbers of "The American System of Dentistry" a stone pug dogsitting before the little stoveand a thermometer. A stand of shelves occupiedone cornerfilled with the seven volumes of "Allen's Practical Dentist."On the top shelf McTeague kept his concertina and a bag of bird seed for thecanary. The whole place exhaled a mingled odor of beddingcreosoteand ether.

But for one thingMcTeague would have been perfectly contented. Just outsidehis window was his signboard--a modest affair--that read: "Doctor McTeague.Dental Parlors. Gas Given"; but that was all. It was his ambitionhisdreamto have projecting from that corner window a huge gilded tootha molarwith enormous prongssomething gorgeous and attractive. He would have it somedayon that he was resolved; but as yet such a thing was far beyond his means.

When he had finished the last of his beerMcTeague slowly wiped his lips andhuge yellow mustache with the side of his hand. Bull-likehe heaved himselflaboriously upandgoing to the windowstood looking down into the street.

The street never failed to interest him. It was one of those cross streetspeculiar to Western citiessituated in the heart of the residence quarterbutoccupied by small tradespeople who lived in the rooms above their shops. Therewere corner drug stores with huge jars of redyellowand green liquids intheir windowsvery brave and gay; stationers' storeswhere illustratedweeklies were tacked upon bulletin boards; barber shops with cigar stands intheir vestibules; sad-looking plumbers' offices; cheap restaurantsin whosewindows one saw piles of unopened oysters weighted down by cubes of iceandchina pigs and cows knee deep in layers of white beans. At one end of the streetMcTeague could see the huge power-house of the cable line. Immediately oppositehim was a great market; while farther onover the chimney stacks of theintervening housesthe glass roof of some huge public baths glittered likecrystal in the afternoon sun. Underneath him the branch post-office was openingits doorsas was its custom between two and three o'clock on Sunday afternoons.An acrid odor of ink rose upward to him. Occasionally a cable car passedtrundling heavilywith a strident whirring of jostled glass windows.

On week days the street was very lively. It woke to its work about seveno'clockat the time when the newsboys made their appearance together with theday laborers. The laborers went trudging past in a straggling file--plumbers'apprenticestheir pockets stuffed with sections of lead pipetweezersandpliers; carpenterscarrying nothing but their little pasteboard lunch basketspainted to imitate leather; gangs of street workerstheir overalls soiled withyellow claytheir picks and long-handled shovels over their shoulders;plasterersspotted with lime from head to foot. This little army of workerstramping steadily in one directionmet and mingled with other toilers of adifferent description--conductors and "swing men" of the cable companygoing on duty; heavy-eyed night clerks from the drug stores on their way home tosleep; roundsmen returning to the precinct police station to make their nightreportand Chinese market gardeners teetering past under their heavy baskets.The cable cars began to fill up; all along the street could be seen theshopkeepers taking down their shutters.

Between seven and eight the street breakfasted. Now and then a waiter fromone of the cheap restaurants crossed from one sidewalk to the otherbalancingon one palm a tray covered with a napkin. Everywhere was the smell of coffee andof frying steaks. A little laterfollowing in the path of the day laborerscame the clerks and shop girlsdressed with a certain cheap smartnessalwaysin a hurryglancing apprehensively at the power-house clock. Their employersfollowed an hour or so later--on the cable cars for the most part whiskeredgentlemen with huge stomachsreading the morning papers with great gravity;bank cashiers and insurance clerks with flowers in their buttonholes.

At the same time the school children invaded the streetfilling the air witha clamor of shrill voicesstopping at the stationers' shopsor idling a momentin the doorways of the candy stores. For over half an hour they held possessionof the sidewalksthen suddenly disappearedleaving behind one or twostragglers who hurried along with great strides of their little thin legsveryanxious and preoccupied.

Towards eleven o'clock the ladies from the great avenue a block above PolkStreet made their appearancepromenading the sidewalks leisurelydeliberately.They were at their morning's marketing. They were handsome womenbeautifullydressed. They knew by name their butchers and grocers and vegetable men. Fromhis window McTeague saw them in front of the stallsgloved and veiled anddaintily shodthe subservient provision men at their elbowsscribbling hastilyin the order books. They all seemed to know one anotherthese grand ladies fromthe fashionable avenue. Meetings took place here and there; a conversation wasbegun; others arrived; groups were formed; little impromptu receptions were heldbefore the chopping blocks of butchers' stallsor on the sidewalkaround boxesof berries and fruit.

From noon to evening the population of the street was of a mixed character.The street was busiest at that time; a vast and prolonged murmur arose--themingled shuffling of feetthe rattle of wheelsthe heavy trundling of cablecars. At four o'clock the school children once more swarmed the sidewalksagaindisappearing with surprising suddenness. At six the great homeward marchcommenced; the cars were crowdedthe laborers thronged the sidewalksthenewsboys chanted the evening papers. Then all at once the street fell quiet;hardly a soul was in sight; the sidewalks were deserted. It was supper hour.Evening began; and one by one a multitude of lightsfrom the demoniac glare ofthe druggists' windows to the dazzling blue whiteness of the electric globesgrew thick from street corner to street corner. Once more the street was crowded.Now there was no thought but for amusement. The cable cars were loaded withtheatre-goers--men in high hats and young girls in furred opera cloaks. On thesidewalks were groups and couples--the plumbers' apprenticesthe girls of theribbon countersthe little families that lived on the second stories over theirshopsthe dressmakersthe small doctorsthe harness- makers--all the variousinhabitants of the street were abroadstrolling idly from shop window to shopwindowtaking the air after the day's work. Groups of girls collected on thecornerstalking and laughing very loudmaking remarks upon the young men thatpassed them. The tamale men appeared. A band of Salvationists began to singbefore a saloon.

Thenlittle by littlePolk Street dropped back to solitude. Eleven o'clockstruck from the power-house clock. Lights were extinguished. At one o'clock thecable stoppedleaving an abrupt silence in the air. All at once it seemed verystill. The ugly noises were the occasional footfalls of a policeman and thepersistent calling of ducks and geese in the closed market. The street wasasleep.

Day after dayMcTeague saw the same panorama unroll itself. The bay windowof his "Dental Parlors" was for him a point of vantage from which hewatched the world go past.

On Sundayshoweverall was changed. As he stood in the bay windowafterfinishing his beerwiping his lipsand looking out into the streetMcTeaguewas conscious of the difference. Nearly all the stores were closed. No wagonspassed. A few people hurried up and down the sidewalksdressed in cheap Sundayfinery. A cable car went by; on the outside seats were a party of returningpicnickers. The motherthe fathera young manand a young girland threechildren. The two older people held empty lunch baskets in their lapswhile thebands of the children's hats were stuck full of oak leaves. The girl carried ahuge bunch of wilting poppies and wild flowers.

As the car approached McTeague's window the young man got up and swunghimself off the platformwaving goodby to the party. Suddenly McTeaguerecognized him.

"There's Marcus Schouler" he muttered behind his mustache.

Marcus Schouler was the dentist's one intimate friend. The acquaintance hadbegun at the car conductors' coffee-jointwhere the two occupied the same tableand met at every meal. Then they made the discovery that they both lived in thesame flatMarcus occupying a room on the floor above McTeague. On differentoccasions McTeague had treated Marcus for an ulcerated tooth and had refused toaccept payment. Soon it came to be an understood thing between them. They were"pals."

McTeaguelisteningheard Marcus go up-stairs to his room above. In a fewminutes his door opened again. McTeague knew that he had come out into the halland was leaning over the banisters.

"OhMac!" he called. McTeague came to his door.

"Hullo! 'sthat youMark?"

"Sure" answered Marcus. "Come on up."

"You come on down."

"Nocome on up."

"Ohyou come on down."

"Ohyou lazy duck!" retorted Marcuscoming down the stairs.

"Been out to the Cliff House on a picnic" he explained as he satdown on the bed-lounge"with my uncle and his people--the Sieppesyouknow. By damn! it was hot" he suddenly vociferated. "Just look atthat! Just look at that!" he crieddragging at his limp collar. "That'sthe third one since morning; it is--it isfor a fact--and you got your stovegoing." He began to tell about the picnictalking very loud and fastgesturing furiouslyvery excited over trivial details. Marcus could not talkwithout getting excited.

"You ought t'have seeny'ought t'have seen. I tell youit was outasight. It was; it wasfor a fact."

"Yesyes" answered McTeaguebewilderedtrying to follow. "Yesthat's so."

In recounting a certain dispute with an awkward bicyclistin which itappeared he had become involvedMarcus quivered with rage. "'Say thatagain' says I to um. 'Just say that once moreand'"--here a rollingexplosion of oaths-- "'you'll go back to the city in the Morgue wagon.Ain't I got a right to cross a street evenI'd like to knowwithout being rundown--what?' I say it's outrageous. I'd a knifed him in another minute. It wasan outrage. I say it was an OUTRAGE."

"Sure it was" McTeague hastened to reply. "Suresure."

"Ohand we had an accident" shouted the othersuddenly off onanother tack. "It was awful. Trina was in the swing there--that's my cousinTrinayou know who I mean--and she fell out. By damn! I thought she'd killedherself; struck her face on a rock and knocked out a front tooth. It's a wondershe didn't kill herself. It IS a wonder; it isfor a fact. Ain't itnow? Huh?Ain't it? Y'ought t'have seen."

McTeague had a vague idea that Marcus Schouler was stuck on his cousin Trina.They "kept company" a good deal; Marcus took dinner with the Sieppesevery Saturday evening at their home at B Street stationacross the bayandSunday afternoons he and the family usually made little excursions into thesuburbs. McTeague began to wonder dimly how it was that on this occasion Marcushad not gone home with his cousin. As sometimes happensMarcus furnished theexplanation upon the instant.

"I promised a duck up here on the avenue I'd call for his dog at fourthis afternoon."

Marcus was Old Grannis's assistant in a little dog hospital that the latterhad opened in a sort of alley just off Polk Streetsome four blocks above OldGrannis lived in one of the back rooms of McTeague's flat. He was an Englishmanand an expert dog surgeonbut Marcus Schouler was a bungler in the profession.His father had been a veterinary surgeon who had kept a livery stable near byon California Streetand Marcus's knowledge of the diseases of domestic animalshad been picked up in a haphazard waymuch after the manner of McTeague'seducation. Somehow he managed to impress Old Grannisa gentlesimple-mindedold manwith a sense of his fitnessbewildering him with a torrent of emptyphrases that he delivered with fierce gestures and with a manner of the greatestconviction.

"You'd better come along with meMac" observed Marcus. "We'llget the duck's dogand then we'll take a little walkhuh? You got nothun todo. Come along."

McTeague went out with himand the two friends proceeded up to the avenue tothe house where the dog was to be found. It was a huge mansion-like placesetin an enormous garden that occupied a whole third of the block; and while Marcustramped up the front steps and rang the doorbell boldlyto show hisindependenceMcTeague remained below on the sidewalkgazing stupidly at thecurtained windowsthe marble stepsand the bronze griffinstroubled and alittle confused by all this massive luxury.

After they had taken the dog to the hospital and had left him to whimperbehind the wire nettingthey returned to Polk Street and had a glass of beer inthe back room of Joe Frenna's corner grocery.

Ever since they had left the huge mansion on the avenueMarcus had beenattacking the capitalistsa class which he pretended to execrate. It was a posewhich he often assumedcertain of impressing the dentist. Marcus had picked upa few half-truths of political economy--it was impossible to say where--and assoon as the two had settled themselves to their beer in Frenna's back room hetook up the theme of the labor question. He discussed it at the top of hisvoicevociferatingshaking his fistsexciting himself with his own noise. Hewas continually making use of the stock phrases of the professionalpolitician--phrases he had caught at some of the ward "rallies" and"ratification meetings." These rolled off his tongue with incredibleemphasisappearing at every turn of his conversation--"Outragedconstituencies" "cause of labor" "wage earners""opinions biased by personal interests" "eyes blinded by partyprejudice." McTeague listened to himawestruck.

"There's where the evil lies" Marcus would cry. "The massesmust learn self-control; it stands to reason. Look at the figureslook at thefigures. Decrease the number of wage earners and you increase wagesdon't you?don't you?"

Absolutely stupidand understanding never a wordMcTeague would answer:

"Yesyesthat's it--self-control--that's the word."

"It's the capitalists that's ruining the cause of labor" shoutedMarcusbanging the table with his fist till the beer glasses danced; "white-livereddronestraitorswith their livers white as snoweatun the bread of widows andorphuns; there's where the evil lies."

Stupefied with his clamorMcTeague answeredwagging his head:

"Yesthat's it; I think it's their livers."

Suddenly Marcus fell calm againforgetting his pose all in an instant.

"SayMacI told my cousin Trina to come round and see you about thattooth of her's. She'll be in to-morrowI guess."

CHAPTER 2

After his breakfast the following Monday morningMcTeague looked over theappointments he had written down in the book-slate that hung against the screen.His writing was immensevery clumsyand very roundwith hugefull- belliedl's and h's. He saw that he had made an appointment at one o'clock for MissBakerthe retired dressmakera little old maid who had a tiny room a few doorsdown the hall. It adjoined that of Old Grannis.

Quite an affair had arisen from this circumstance. Miss Baker and Old Granniswere both over sixtyand yet it was current talk amongst the lodgers of theflat that the two were in love with each other . Singularly enoughthey werenot even acquaintances; never a word had passed between them. At intervals theymet on the stairway; he on his way to his little dog hospitalshe returningfrom a bit of marketing in the street. At such times they passed each other withaverted eyespretending a certain pre- occupationsuddenly seized with a greatembarrassmentthe timidity of a second childhood. He went on about hisbusinessdisturbed and thoughtful. She hurried up to her tiny roomher curiouslittle false curls shaking with her agitationthe faintest suggestion of aflush coming and going in her withered cheeks. The emotion of one of thesechance meetings remained with them during all the rest of the day.

Was it the first romance in the lives of each? Did Old Grannis ever remembera certain face amongst those that he had known when he was young Grannis--theface of some pale- haired girlsuch as one sees in the old cathedral towns ofEngland? Did Miss Baker still treasure up in a seldom opened drawer or box somefaded daguerreotypesome strange old-fashioned likenesswith its curling hairand high stock? It was impossible to say.

Maria Macapathe Mexican woman who took care of the lodgers' roomshad beenthe first to call the flat's attention to the affairspreading the news of itfrom room to roomfrom floor to floor. Of late she had made a great discovery;all the women folk of the flat were yet vibrant with it. Old Grannis came homefrom his work at four o'clockand between that time and six Miss Baker wouldsit in her roomher hands idle in her lapdoing nothinglisteningwaiting.Old Grannis did the samedrawing his arm-chair near to the wallknowing thatMiss Baker was upon the other sideconsciousperhapsthat she was thinking ofhim; and there the two would sit through the hours of the afternoonlisteningand waitingthey did not know exactly for whatbut near to each otherseparated only by the thin partition of their rooms. They had come to know eachother's habits. Old Grannis knew that at quarter of five precisely Miss Bakermade a cup of tea over the oil stove on the stand between the bureau and thewindow. Miss Baker felt instinctively the exact moment when Old Grannis tookdown his little binding apparatus from the second shelf of his clothes closetand began his favorite occupation of binding pamphlets--pamphlets that he neverreadfor all that.

In his "Parlors" McTeague began his week's work. He glanced in theglass saucer in which he kept his sponge-goldand noticing that he had used upall his pelletsset about making some more. In examining Miss Baker's teeth atthe preliminary sitting he had found a cavity in one of the incisors. Miss Bakerhad decided to have it filled with gold. McTeague remembered now that it waswhat is called a "proximate case" where there is not sufficient roomto fill with large pieces of gold. He told himself that he should have to use"mats" in the filling. He made some dozen of these "mats"from his tape of non-cohesive goldcutting it transversely into small piecesthat could be inserted edgewise between the teeth and consolidated by packing.After he had made his "mats" he continued with the other kind of goldfillingssuch as he would have occasion to use during the week; "blocks"to be used in large proximal cavitiesmade by folding the tape on itself anumber of times and then shaping it with the soldering pliers; "cylinders"for commencing fillingswhich he formed by rolling the tape around a needlecalled a "broach" cutting it afterwards into different lengths. Heworked slowlymechanicallyturning the foil between his fingers with themanual dexterity that one sometimes sees in stupid persons. His head was quiteempty of all thoughtand he did not whistle over his work as another man mighthave done. The canary made up for his silencetrilling and chitteringcontinuallysplashing about in its morning bathkeeping up an incessant noiseand movement that would have been maddening to any one but McTeaguewho seemedto have no nerves at all.

After he had finished his fillingshe made a hook broach from a bit of pianowire to replace an old one that he had lost. It was time for his dinner thenand when he returned from the car conductors' coffee-jointhe found Miss Bakerwaiting for him.

The ancient little dressmaker was at all times willing to talk of Old Grannisto anybody that would listenquite unconscious of the gossip of the flat.McTeague found her all a-flutter with excitement. Something extraordinary hadhappened. She had found out that the wall-paper in Old Grannis's room was thesame as that in hers.

"It has led me to thinkingDoctor McTeague" she exclaimedshaking her little false curls at him. "You know my room is so smallanyhowand the wall-paper being the same--the pattern from my room continuesright into his--I declareI believe at one time that was all one room. Think ofitdo you suppose it was? It almost amounts to our occupying the same room. Idon't know--whyreally--do you think I should speak to the landlady about it?He bound pamphlets last night until half-past nine. They say that he's theyounger son of a baronet; that there are reasons for his not coming to the title;his stepfather wronged him cruelly."

No one had ever said such a thing. It was preposterous to imagine any mysteryconnected with Old Grannis. Miss Baker had chosen to invent the little fictionhad created the title and the unjust stepfather from some dim memories of thenovels of her girlhood.

She took her place in the operating chair. McTeague began the filling. Therewas a long silence. It was impossible for McTeague to work and talk at the sametime.

He was just burnishing the last "mat" in Miss Baker's toothwhenthe door of the "Parlors" openedjangling the bell which he had hungover itand which was absolutely unnecessary. McTeague turnedone foot on thepedal of his dental enginethe corundum disk whirling between his fingers.

It was Marcus Schouler who came inushering a young girl of about twenty.

"HelloMac" exclaimed Marcus; "busy? Brought my cousin roundabout that broken tooth."

McTeague nodded his head gravely.

"In a minute" he answered.

Marcus and his cousin Trina sat down in the rigid chairs underneath the steelengraving of the Court of Lorenzo de' Medici. They began talking in low tones.The girl looked about the roomnoticing the stone pug dogthe riflemanufacturer's calendarthe canary in its little gilt prisonand the tumbledblankets on the unmade bed-lounge against the wall. Marcus began telling herabout McTeague. "We're pals" he explainedjust above a whisper."AhMac's all rightyou bet. SayTrinahe's the strongest duck you eversaw. What do you suppose? He can pull out your teeth with his fingers; yeshecan. What do you think of that? With his fingersmind you; he canfor a fact.Get on to the size of himanyhow. AhMac's all right!"

Maria Macapa had come into the room while he had been speaking. She wasmaking up McTeague's bed. Suddenly Marcus exclaimed under his breath: "Nowwe'll have some fun. It's the girl that takes care of the rooms. She's a greaserand she's queer in the head. She ain't regularly crazybut I don't knowshe'squeer. Y'ought to hear her go on about a gold dinner service she says her folksused to own. Ask her what her name is and see what she'll say." Trinashrank backa little frightened.

"Noyou ask" she whispered.

"Ahgo on; what you 'fraid of?" urged Marcus. Trina shook her headenergeticallyshutting her lips together.

"Welllisten here" answered Marcusnudging her; then raising hisvoicehe said:

"How doMaria?" Maria nodded to him over her shoulder as she bentover the lounge.

"Workun hard nowadaysMaria?"

"Pretty hard."

"Didunt always have to work for your livingthoughdid youwhen youate offa gold dishes?" Maria didn't answerexcept by putting her chin inthe air and shutting her eyesas though to say she knew a long story about thatif she had a mind to talk. All Marcus's efforts to draw her out on the subjectwere unavailing. She only responded by movements of her head.

"Can't always start her going" Marcus told his cousin.

"What does she dothoughwhen you ask her about her name?"

"Ohsure" said Marcuswho had forgotten. "SayMariawhat's your name?"

"Huh?" asked Mariastraightening upher hands on he hips.

"Tell us your name" repeated Marcus.

"Name is Maria--Miranda--Macapa." Thenafter a pauseshe addedas though she had but that moment thought of it"Had a flying squirrel an'let him go."

Invariably Maria Macapa made this answer. It was not always she would talkabout the famous service of gold platebut a question as to her name neverfailed to elicit the same strange answerdelivered in a rapid undertone: "Nameis Maria--Miranda--Macapa." Thenas if struck with an after thought"Had a flying squirrel an' let him go."

Why Maria should associate the release of the mythical squirrel with her namecould not be said. About Maria the flat knew absolutely nothing further thanthat she was Spanish-American. Miss Baker was the oldest lodger in the flatandMaria was a fixture there as maid of all work when she had come. There was alegend to the effect that Maria's people had been at one time immensely wealthyin Central America.

Maria turned again to her work. Trina and Marcus watched her curiously. Therewas a silence. The corundum burr in McTeague's engine hummed in a prolongedmonotone. The canary bird chittered occasionally. The room was warmand thebreathing of the five people in the narrow space made the air close and thick.At long intervals an acrid odor of ink floated up from the branch post-officeimmediately below.

Maria Macapa finished her work and started to leave. As she passed nearMarcus and his cousin she stoppedand drew a bunch of blue tickets furtivelyfrom her pocket. "Buy a ticket in the lottery?" she inquiredlookingat the girl. "Just a dollar."

"Go along with youMaria" said Marcuswho had but thirty centsin his pocket. "Go along; it's against the law."

"Buy a ticket" urged Mariathrusting the bundle toward Trina."Try your luck. The butcher on the next block won twenty dollars the lastdrawing."

Very uneasyTrina bought a ticket for the sake of being rid of her. Mariadisappeared.

"Ain't she a queer bird?" muttered Marcus. He was much embarrassedand disturbed because he had not bought the ticket for Trina.

But there was a sudden movement. McTeague had just finished with Miss Baker.

"You should notice" the dressmaker said to the dentistin a lowvoice"he always leaves the door a little ajar in the afternoon."When she had gone outMarcus Schouler brought Trina forward.

"SayMacthis is my cousinTrina Sieppe." The two shook handsdumblyMcTeague slowly nodding his huge head with its great shock of yellowhair. Trina was very small and prettily made. Her face was round and ratherpale; her eyes long and narrow and bluelike the half-open eyes of a littlebaby; her lips and the lobes of her tiny ears were palea little suggestive ofanaemia; while across the bridge of her nose ran an adorable little line offreckles. But it was to her hair that one's attention was most attracted. Heapsand heaps of blue-black coils and braidsa royal crown of swarthy bandsaveritable sable tiaraheavyabundantodorous. All the vitality that shouldhave given color to her face seemed to have been absorbed by this marvelloushair. It was the coiffure of a queen that shadowed the pale temples of thislittle bourgeoise. So heavy was it that it tipped her head backwardand theposition thrust her chin out a little. It was a charming poiseinnocentconfidingalmost infantile.

She was dressed all in blackvery modest and plain. The effect of her paleface in all this contrasting black was almost monastic.

"Well" exclaimed Marcus suddenly"I got to go. Must get backto work. Don't hurt her too muchMac. S'longTrina."

McTeague and Trina were left alone. He was embarrassedtroubled. These younggirls disturbed and perplexed him. He did not like themobstinately cherishingthat intuitive suspicion of all things feminine--the perverse dislike of anovergrown boy. On the other handshe was perfectly at her ease; doubtless thewoman in her was not yet awakened; she was yetas one might saywithout sex.She was almost like a boyfrankcandidunreserved.

She took her place in the operating chair and told him what was the matterlooking squarely into his face. She had fallen out of a swing the afternoon ofthe preceding day; one of her teeth had been knocked loose and the otheraltogether broken out.

McTeague listened to her with apparent stoliditynodding his head from timeto time as she spoke. The keenness of his dislike of her as a woman began to beblunted. He thought she was rather prettythat he even liked her because shewas so smallso prettily madeso good natured and straightforward.

"Let's have a look at your teeth" he saidpicking up his mirror."You better take your hat off." She leaned back in her chair andopened her mouthshowing the rows of little round teethas white and even asthe kernels on an ear of green cornexcept where an ugly gap came at the side.

McTeague put the mirror into her mouthtouching one and another of her teethwith the handle of an excavator. By and by he straightened upwiping themoisture from the mirror on his coat-sleeve.

"WellDoctor" said the girlanxiously"it's a dreadfuldisfigurementisn't it?" adding"What can you do about it?"

"Well" answered McTeagueslowlylooking vaguely about on thefloor of the room"the roots of the broken tooth are still in the gum;they'll have to come outand I guess I'll have to pull that other bicuspid. Letme look again. Yes" he went on in a momentpeering into her mouth withthe mirror"I guess that'll have to come outtoo." The tooth wasloosediscoloredand evidently dead. "It's a curious case" McTeaguewent on. "I don't know as I ever had a tooth like that before. It's what'scalled necrosis. It don't often happen. It'll have to come out sure."

Then a discussion was opened on the subjectTrina sitting up in the chairholding her hat in her lap; McTeague leaning against the window frame his handsin his pocketshis eyes wandering about on the floor. Trina did not want theother tooth removed; one hole like that was bad enough; but two--ahnoit wasnot to be thought of.

But McTeague reasoned with hertried in vain to make her understand thatthere was no vascular connection between the root and the gum. Trina was blindlypersistentwith the persistency of a girl who has made up her mind.

McTeague began to like her better and betterand after a while commencedhimself to feel that it would be a pity to disfigure such a pretty mouth. Hebecame interested; perhaps he could do somethingsomething in the way of acrown or bridge. "Let's look at that again" he saidpicking up hismirror. He began to study the situation very carefullyreally desiring toremedy the blemish.

It was the first bicuspid that was missingand though part of the root ofthe second (the loose one) would remain after its extractionhe was sure itwould not be strong enough to sustain a crown. All at once he grew obstinateresolvingwith all the strength of a crude and primitive manto conquer thedifficulty in spite of everything. He turned over in his mind the technicalitiesof the case. Noevidently the root was not strong enough to sustain a crown;besides thatit was placed a little irregularly in the arch. Butfortunatelythere were cavities in the two teeth on either side of the gap--one in the firstmolar and one in the palatine surface of the cuspid; might he not drill a socketin the remaining root and sockets in the molar and cuspidandpartly bybridgingpartly by crowningfill in the gap? He made up his mind to do it.

Why he should pledge himself to this hazardous case McTeague was puzzled toknow. With most of his clients he would have contented himself with theextraction of the loose tooth and the roots of the broken one. Why should herisk his reputation in this case? He could not say why.

It was the most difficult operation he had ever performed. He bungled itconsiderablybut in the end he succeeded passably well. He extracted the loosetooth with his bayonet forceps and prepared the roots of the broken one as iffor fillingfitting into them a flattened piece of platinum wire to serve as adowel. But this was only the beginning; altogether it was a fortnight's work.Trina came nearly every other dayand passed twoand even threehours in thechair.

By degrees McTeague's first awkwardness and suspicion vanished entirely. Thetwo became good friends. McTeague even arrived at that point where he could workand talk to her at the same time--a thing that had never before been possiblefor him.

Never until then had McTeague become so well acquainted with a girl ofTrina's age. The younger women of Polk Street-- the shop girlsthe young womenof the soda fountainsthe waitresses in the cheap restaurants--preferredanother dentista young fellow just graduated from the collegea poserarider of bicyclesa man about townwho wore astonishing waistcoats and betmoney on greyhound coursing. Trina was McTeague's first experience. With her thefeminine element suddenly entered his little world. It was not only her that hesaw and feltit was the womanthe whole sexan entire new humanitystrangeand alluringthat he seemed to have discovered. How had he ignored it so long?It was dazzlingdeliciouscharming beyond all words. His narrow point of viewwas at once enlarged and confusedand all at once he saw that there wassomething else in life besides concertinas and steam beer. Everything had to bemade over again. His whole rude idea of life had to be changed. The male viriledesire in him tardily awakenedaroused itselfstrong and brutal. It wasresistlessuntraineda thing not to be held in leash an instant.

Little by littleby gradualalmost imperceptible degreesthe thought ofTrina Sieppe occupied his mind from day to dayfrom hour to hour. He foundhimself thinking of her constantly; at every instant he saw her roundpaleface; her narrowmilk-blue eyes; her little out-thrust chin; her heavyhugetiara of black hair. At night he lay awake for hours under the thick blankets ofthe bed-loungestaring upward into the darknesstormented with the idea of herexasperated at the delicatesubtle mesh in which he found himself entangled.During the forenoonswhile he went about his workhe thought of her. As hemade his plaster- of-paris moulds at the washstand in the corner behind thescreen he turned over in his mind all that had happenedall that had been saidat the previous sitting. Her little tooth that he had extracted he kept wrappedin a bit of newspaper in his vest pocket. Often he took it out and held it inthe palm of his immensehorny handseized with some strange elephantinesentimentwagging his head at itheaving tremendous sighs. What a folly!

At two o'clock on TuesdaysThursdaysand Saturdays Trina arrived and tookher place in the operating chair. While at his work McTeague was every minuteobliged to bend closely over her; his hands touched her faceher cheeksheradorable little chin; her lips pressed against his fingers. She breathed warmlyon his forehead and on his eyelidswhile the odor of her haira charmingfeminine perfumesweetheavyenervatingcame to his nostrilsso penetratingso deliciousthat his flesh pricked and tingled with it; a veritable sensationof faintness passed over this hugecallous fellowwith his enormous bones andcorded muscles. He drew a short breath through his nose; his jaws suddenlygripped together vise-like.

But this was only at times--a strangevexing spasmthat subsided almostimmediately. For the most partMcTeague enjoyed the pleasure of these sittingswith Trina with a certain strong calmnessblindly happy that she was there.This poor crude dentist of Polk Streetstupidignorantvulgarwith his shameducation and plebeian tasteswhose only relaxations were to eatto drinksteam beerand to play upon his concertinawas living through his firstromancehis first idyl. It was delightful. The long hours he passed alone withTrina in the "Dental Parlors" silentonly for the scraping of theinstruments and the pouring of bud-burrs in the enginein the foul atmosphereoverheated by the little stove and heavy with the smell of ethercreosoteandstale beddinghad all the charm of secret appointments and stolen meetingsunder the moon.

By degrees the operation progressed. One dayjust after McTeague had put inthe temporary gutta-percha fillings and nothing more could be done at thatsittingTrina asked him to examine the rest of her teeth. They were perfectwith one exception--a spot of white caries on the lateral surface of an incisor.McTeague filled it with goldenlarging the cavity with hard-bits andhoe-excavatorsand burring in afterward with half-cone burrs. The cavity wasdeepand Trina began to wince and moan. To hurt Trina was a positive anguishfor McTeagueyet an anguish which he was obliged to endure at every hour of thesitting. It was harrowing--he sweated under it--to be forced to torture herofall women in the world; could anything be worse than that?

"Hurt?" he inquiredanxiously.

She answered by frowningwith a sharp intake of breathputting her fingersover her closed lips and nodding her head. McTeague sprayed the tooth withglycerite of tanninbut without effect. Rather than hurt her he found himselfforced to the use of anaesthesiawhich he hated. He had a notion that thenitrous oxide gas was dangerousso on this occasionas on all othersusedether.

He put the sponge a half dozen times to Trina's facemore nervous than hehad ever been beforewatching the symptoms closely. Her breathing became shortand irregular; there was a slight twitching of the muscles. When her thumbsturned inward toward the palmshe took the sponge away. She passed off veryquicklyandwith a long sighsank back into the chair.

McTeague straightened upputting the sponge upon the rack behind himhiseyes fixed upon Trina's face. For some time he stood watching her as she laythereunconscious and helplessand very pretty. He was alone with herand shewas absolutely without defense.

Suddenly the animal in the man stirred and woke; the evil instincts that inhim were so close to the surface leaped to lifeshouting and clamoring.

It was a crisis--a crisis that had arisen all in an instant; a crisis forwhich he was totally unprepared. Blindlyand without knowing whyMcTeaguefought against itmoved by an unreasoned instinct of resistance. Within himacertain second selfanother better McTeague rose with the brute; both werestrongwith the huge crude strength of the man himself. The two were atgrapples. There in that cheap and shabby "Dental Parlor" a dreadedstruggle began. It was the old battleold as the worldwide as the world--thesudden panther leap of the animallips drawnfangs aflashhideousmonstrousnot to be resistedand the simultaneous arousing of the other manthe betterself that cries"Downdown" without knowing why; that grips themonster; that fights to strangle itto thrust it down and back.

Dizzied and bewildered with the shockthe like of which he had never knownbeforeMcTeague turned from Trinagazing bewilderedly about the room. Thestruggle was bitter; his teeth ground themselves together with a little raspingsound; the blood sang in his ears; his face flushed scarlet; his hands twistedthemselves together like the knotting of cables. The fury in him was as the furyof a young bull in the heat of high summer. But for all that he shook his hugehead from time to timemuttering:

"Noby God! Noby God!"

Dimly he seemed to realize that should he yield now he would never be able tocare for Trina again. She would never be the same to himnever so radiantsosweetso adorable; her charm for him would vanish in an instant. Across herforeheadher little pale foreheadunder the shadow of her royal hairhe wouldsurely see the smudge of a foul ordurethe footprint of the monster. It wouldbe a sacrilegean abomination. He recoiled from itbanding all his strength tothe issue.

"Noby God! Noby God!"

He turned to his workas if seeking a refuge in it. But as he drew near toher againthe charm of her innocence and helplessness came over him afresh. Itwas a final protest against his resolution. Suddenly he leaned over and kissedhergrosslyfull on the mouth. The thing was done before he knew it. Terrifiedat his weakness at the very moment he believed himself stronghe threw himselfonce more into his work with desperate energy. By the time he was fastening thesheet of rubber upon the toothhe had himself once more in hand. He wasdisturbedstill tremblingstill vibrating with the throes of the crisisbuthe was the master; the animal was downedwas cowed for this timeat least.

But for all thatthe brute was there. Long dormantit was now at last aliveawake. From now on he would feel its presence continually; would feel it tuggingat its chainwatching its opportunity. Ahthe pity of it! Why could he notalways love her purelycleanly? What was this perversevicious thing thatlived within himknitted to his flesh?

Below the fine fabric of all that was good in him ran the foul stream ofhereditary evillike a sewer. The vices and sins of his father and of hisfather's fatherto the third and fourth and five hundredth generationtaintedhim. The evil of an entire race flowed in his veins. Why should it be? He didnot desire it. Was he to blame?

But McTeague could not understand this thing. It had faced himas sooner orlater it faces every child of man; but its significance was not for him. Toreason with it was beyond him. He could only oppose to it an instinctivestubborn resistanceblindinert.

McTeague went on with his work. As he was rapping in the little blocks andcylinders with the malletTrina slowly came back to herself with a long sigh.She still felt a little confusedand lay quiet in the chair. There was a longsilencebroken only by the uneven tapping of the hardwood mallet. By and by shesaid"I never felt a thing" and then she smiled at him very prettilybeneath the rubber dam. McTeague turned to her suddenlyhis mallet in one handhis pliers holding a pellet of sponge-gold in the other. All at once he saidwith the unreasoned simplicity and directness of a child: "Listen hereMiss TrinaI like you better than any one else; what's the matter with usgetting married?"

Trina sat up in the chair quicklyand then drew back from himfrightenedand bewildered.

"Will you? Will you?" said McTeague. "SayMiss Trinawillyou?"

"What is it? What do you mean?" she criedconfusedlyher wordsmuffled beneath the rubber.

"Will you?" repeated McTeague.

"Nono" she exclaimedrefusing without knowing whysuddenlyseized with a fear of himthe intuitive feminine fear of the male. McTeaguecould only repeat the same thing over and over again. Trinamore and morefrightened at his huge hands--the hands of the old-time car-boy--his immensesquare-cut head and his enormous brute strengthcried out: "Nono"behind the rubber damshaking her head violentlyholding out her handsandshrinking down before him in the operating chair. McTeague came nearer to herrepeating the same question. "Nono" she criedterrified. Thenasshe exclaimed"OhI am sick" was suddenly taken with a fit ofvomiting. It was the not unusual after effect of the etheraided now by herexcitement and nervousness. McTeague was checked. He poured some bromide ofpotassium into a graduated glass and held it to her lips.

"Hereswallow this" he said.

CHAPTER 3

Once every two months Maria Macapa set the entire flat in commotion. Sheroamed the building from garret to cellarsearching each cornerferretingthrough every old box and trunk and barrelgroping about on the top shelves ofclosetspeering into rag-bagsexasperating the lodgers with her persistenceand importunity. She was collecting junksbits of ironstone jugsglassbottlesold sacksand cast-off garments. It was one of her perquisites. Shesold the junk to Zerkowthe rags-bottles-sacks manwho lived in a filthy denin the alley just back of the flatand who sometimes paid her as much as threecents a pound. The stone jugshoweverwere worth a nickel. The money thatZerkow paid herMaria spent on shirt waists and dotted blue necktiestrying todress like the girls who tended the soda-water fountain in the candy store onthe corner. She was sick with envy of these young women. They were in the worldthey were elegantthey were debonairthey had their "young men."

On this occasion she presented herself at the door of Old Grannis's room latein the afternoon. His door stood a little open. That of Miss Baker was ajar afew inches. The two old people were "keeping company" after theirfashion.

"Got any junkMister Grannis?" inquired Mariastanding in thedoora very dirtyhalf-filled pillowcase over one arm.

"Nonothing--nothing that I can think ofMaria" replied OldGrannisterribly vexed at the interruptionyet not wishing to be unkind."Nothing I think of. Yethowever-- perhaps--if you wish to look."

He sat in the middle of the room before a small pine table. His littlebinding apparatus was before him. In his fingers was a huge upholsterer's needlethreaded with twinea brad- awl lay at his elbowon the floor beside him was agreat pile of pamphletsthe pages uncut. Old Grannis bought the "Nation"and the "Breeder and Sportsman." In the latter he occasionally foundarticles on dogs which interested him. The former he seldom read. He could notafford to subscribe regularly to either of the publicationsbut purchased theirback numbers by the scorealmost solely for the pleasure he took in bindingthem.

"What you alus sewing up them books forMister Grannis?" askedMariaas she began rummaging about in Old Grannis's closet shelves. "There'sjust hundreds of 'em in here on yer shelves; they ain't no good to you."

"Wellwell" answered Old Grannistimidlyrubbing his chin"I--I'm sure I can't quite say; a little habityou know; a diversiona--a--it occupies oneyou know. I don't smoke; it takes the place of a pipeperhaps."

"Here's this old yellow pitcher" said Mariacoming out of thecloset with it in her hand. "The handle's cracked; you don't want it;better give me it."

Old Grannis did want the pitcher; truehe never used it nowbut he had keptit a long timeand somehow he held to it as old people hold to trivialworthless things that they have had for many years.

"Ohthat pitcher--wellMariaI--I don't know. I'm afraid--you seethat pitcher----"

"Ahgo 'long" interrupted Maria Macapa"what's the good ofit?"

"If you insistMariabut I would much rather--" he rubbed hischinperplexed and annoyedhating to refuseand wishing that Maria were gone.

"Whywhat's the good of it?" persisted Maria. He could give nosufficient answer. "That's all right" she assertedcarrying thepitcher out.

"Ah--Maria--I sayyou--you might leave the door--ahdon't quite shutit--it's a bit close in here at times." Maria grinnedand swung the doorwide. Old Grannis was horribly embarrassed; positivelyMaria was becomingunbearable.

"Got any junk?" cried Maria at Miss Baker's door. The little oldlady was sitting close to the wall in her rocking-chair; her hands resting idlyin her lap.

"NowMaria" she said plaintively"you are always afterjunk; you know I never have anything laying 'round like that."

It was true. The retired dressmaker's tiny room was a marvel of neatnessfrom the little red tablewith its three Gorham spoons laid in exact parallelsto the decorous geraniums and mignonettes growing in the starch box at thewindowunderneath the fish globe with its one venerable gold fish. That dayMiss Baker had been doing a bit of washing; two pocket handkerchiefsstillmoistadhered to the window panesdrying in the sun.

"OhI guess you got something you don't want" Maria went onpeering into the corners of the room. "Look-a-here what Mister Grannis gi'me" and she held out the yellow pitcher. Instantly Miss Baker was in aquiver of confusion. Every word spoken aloud could be perfectly heard in thenext room. What a stupid drab was this Maria! Could anything be more trying thanthis position?

"Ain't that rightMister Grannis?" called Maria; "didn't yougi' me this pitcher?" Old Grannis affected not to hear; perspiration stoodon his forehead; his timidity overcame him as if he were a ten-year-oldschoolboy. He half rose from his chairhis fingers dancing nervously upon hischin.

Maria opened Miss Baker's closet unconcernedly. "What's the matter withthese old shoes?" she exclaimedturning about with a pair of half-wornsilk gaiters in her hand. They were by no means old enough to throw awaybutMiss Baker was almost beside herself. There was no telling what might happennext. Her only thought was to be rid of Maria.

"Yesyesanything. You can have them; but gogo. There's nothingelsenot a thing."

Maria went out into the hallleaving Miss Baker's door wide openas ifmaliciously. She had left the dirty pillow-case on the floor in the hallandshe stood outsidebetween the two open doorsstowing away the old pitcher andthe half- worn silk shoes. She made remarks at the top of her voicecalling nowto Miss Bakernow to Old Grannis. In a way she brought the two old people faceto face. Each time they were forced to answer her questions it was as if theywere talking directly to each other.

"These here are first-rate shoesMiss Baker. Look hereMister Grannisget on to the shoes Miss Baker gi' me. You ain't got a pair you don't wanthaveyou? You two people have less junk than any one else in the flat. How do youmanageMister Grannis? You old bachelors are just like old maidsjust as neatas pins. You two are just alike--you and Mister Grannis--ain't youMiss Baker?"

Nothing could have been more horribly constrainedmore awkward. The two oldpeople suffered veritable torture. When Maria had goneeach heaved a sigh ofunspeakable relief. Softly they pushed to their doorsleaving open a space ofhalf a dozen inches. Old Grannis went back to his binding. Miss Baker brewed acup of tea to quiet her nerves. Each tried to regain their composurebut invain. Old Grannis's fingers trembled so that he pricked them with his needle.Miss Baker dropped her spoon twice. Their nervousness would not wear off. Theywere perturbedupset. In a wordthe afternoon was spoiled.

Maria went on about the flat from room to room. She had already paid MarcusSchouler a visit early that morning before he had gone out. Marcus had sworn atherexcitedly vociferating; "Noby damn! Nohe hadn't a thing for her;he hadn'tfor a fact. It was a positive persecution. Every day his privacy wasinvaded. He would complain to the landladyhe would. He'd move out of the place."In the end he had given Maria seven empty whiskey flasksan iron grateand tencents--the latter because he said she wore her hair like a girl he used to know.

After coming from Miss Baker's room Maria knocked at McTeague's door. Thedentist was lying on the bed-lounge in his stocking feetdoing nothingapparentlygazing up at the ceilinglost in thought.

Since he had spoken to Trina Sieppeasking her so abruptly to marry himMcTeague had passed a week of torment. For him there was no going back. It wasTrina nowand none other. It was all one with him that his best friendMarcusmight be in love with the same girl. He must have Trina in spite of everything;he would have her even in spite of herself. He did not stop to reflect about thematter; he followed his desire blindlyrecklesslyfurious and raging at everyobstacle. And she had cried "Nono!" back at him; he could not forgetthat. Sheso small and pale and delicatehad held him at baywho was so hugeso immensely strong.

Besides thatall the charm of their intimacy was gone. After that unhappysittingTrina was no longer frank and straight-forward. Now she wascircumspectreserveddistant. He could no longer open his mouth; words failedhim. At one sitting in particular they had said but good- day and good-by toeach other. He felt that he was clumsy and ungainly. He told himself that shedespised him.

But the memory of her was with him constantly. Night after night he lay broadawake thinking of Trinawondering about herracked with the infinite desire ofher. His head burnt and throbbed. The palms of his hands were dry. He dozed andwokeand walked aimlessly about the dark roombruising himself against thethree chairs drawn up "at attention" under the steel engravingandstumbling over the stone pug dog that sat in front of the little stove.

Besides thisthe jealousy of Marcus Schouler harassed him. Maria Macapacoming into his "Parlor" to ask for junkfound him flung at lengthupon the bed-loungegnawing at his fingers in an excess of silent fury. Atlunch that day Marcus had told him of an excursion that was planned for the nextSunday afternoon. Mr. SieppeTrina's fatherbelonged to a rifle club that wasto hold a meet at Schuetzen Park across the bay. All the Sieppes were going;there was to be a basket picnic. Marcusas usualwas invited to be one of theparty. McTeague was in agony. It was his first experienceand he suffered allthe worse for it because he was totally unprepared. What miserable complicationwas this in which he found himself involved? It seemed so simple to him since heloved Trina to take her straight to himselfstopping at nothingasking noquestionsto have herand by main strength to carry her far away somewherehedid not know exactly whereto some vague countrysome undiscovered place whereevery day was Sunday.

"Got any junk?"

"Huh? What? What is it?" exclaimed McTeaguesuddenly rousing upfrom the lounge. Often Maria did very well in the "Dental Parlors."McTeague was continually breaking things which he was too stupid to have mended;for him anything that was broken was lost. Now it was a cuspidornow afire-shovel for the little stovenow a China shaving mug.

"Got any junk?"

"I don't know--I don't remember" muttered McTeague. Maria roamedabout the roomMcTeague following her in his huge stockinged feet. All at onceshe pounced upon a sheaf of old hand instruments in a coverless cigar-boxpluggershard bitsand excavators. Maria had long coveted such a find inMcTeague's "Parlor" knowing it should be somewhere about. Theinstruments were of the finest tempered steel and really valuable.

"SayDoctorI can have thesecan't I?" exclaimed Maria."You got no more use for them." McTeague was not at all sure of this.There were many in the sheaf that might be repairedreshaped.

"Nono" he saidwagging his head. But Maria Macapaknowing withwhom she had to dealat once let loose a torrent of words. She made the dentistbelieve that he had no right to withhold themthat he had promised to save themfor her. She affected a great indignationpursing her lips and putting her chinin the air as though wounded in some finer sensechanging so rapidly from onemood to anotherfilling the room with such shrill clamorthat McTeague wasdazed and benumbed.

"Yesall rightall right" he saidtrying to make himself heard."It WOULD be mean. I don't want 'em." As he turned from her to pick upthe boxMaria took advantage of the moment to steal three "mats" ofsponge-gold out of the glass saucer. Often she stole McTeague's goldalmostunder his very eyes; indeedit was so easy to do so that there was but littlepleasure in the theft. Then Maria took herself off. McTeague returned to thesofa and flung himself upon it face downward.

A little before supper time Maria completed her search. The flat was cleanedof its junk from top to bottom. The dirty pillow-case was full to bursting. Shetook advantage of the supper hour to carry her bundle around the corner and upinto the alley where Zerkow lived.

When Maria entered his shopZerkow had just come in from his daily rounds.His decrepit wagon stood in front of his door like a stranded wreck; themiserable horsewith its lamentable swollen jointsfed greedily upon an armfulof spoiled hay in a shed at the back.

The interior of the junk shop was dark and dampand foul with all manner ofchoking odors. On the wallson the floorand hanging from the rafters was aworld of debrisdust-blackenedrust-corroded. Everything was thereeverytrade was representedevery class of society; things of iron and cloth andwood; all the detritus that a great city sloughs off in its daily life. Zerkow'sjunk shop was the last abiding-placethe almshouseof such articles as hadoutlived their usefulness.

Maria found Zerkow himself in the back roomcooking some sort of a meal overan alcohol stove. Zerkow was a Polish Jew--curiously enough his hair was fieryred. He was a dryshrivelled old man of sixty odd. He had the thineagercat-like lips of the covetous; eyes that had grown keen as those of a lynx fromlong searching amidst muck and debris; and claw-likeprehensile fingers--thefingers of a man who accumulatesbut never disburses. It was impossible to lookat Zerkow and not know instantly that greed-- inordinateinsatiable greed--wasthe dominant passion of the man. He was the Man with the Rakegroping hourly inthe muck-heap of the city for goldfor goldfor gold. It was his dreamhispassion; at every instant he seemed to feel the generous solid weight of thecrude fat metal in his palms. The glint of it was constantly in his eyes; thejangle of it sang forever in his ears as the jangling of cymbals.

"Who is it? Who is it?" exclaimed Zerkowas he heard Maria'sfootsteps in the outer room. His voice was fainthuskyreduced almost to awhisper by his prolonged habit of street crying.

"Ohit's you againis it?" he addedpeering through the gloom ofthe shop. "Let's see; you've been here beforeain't you? You're theMexican woman from Polk Street. Macapa's your namehey?"

Maria nodded. "Had a flying squirrel an' let him go" she mutteredabsently. Zerkow was puzzled; he looked at her sharply for a momentthendismissed the matter with a movement of his head.

"Wellwhat you got for me?" he said. He left his supper to growcoldabsorbed at once in the affair.

Then a long wrangle began. Every bit of junk in Maria's pillow-case wasdiscussed and weighed and disputed. They clamored into each other's faces overOld Grannis's cracked pitcherover Miss Baker's silk gaitersover MarcusSchouler's whiskey flasksreaching the climax of disagreement when it came toMcTeague's instruments.

"Ahnono!" shouted Maria. "Fifteen cents for the lot! Imight as well make you a Christmas present! BesidesI got some gold fillingsoff him; look at um."

Zerkow drew a quick breath as the three pellets suddenly flashed in Maria'spalm. There it wasthe virgin metalthe pureunalloyed orehis dreamhisconsuming desire. His fingers twitched and hooked themselves into his palmshisthin lips drew tight across his teeth.

"Ahyou got some gold" he mutteredreaching for it.

Maria shut her fist over the pellets. "The gold goes with theothers" she declared. "You'll gi' me a fair price for the lotorI'll take um back."

In the end a bargain was struck that satisfied Maria. Zerkow was not one whowould let gold go out of his house. He counted out to her the price of all herjunkgrudging each piece of money as if it had been the blood of his veins. Theaffair was concluded.

But Zerkow still had something to say. As Maria folded up the pillow-case androse to gothe old Jew said:

"Wellsee here a minutewe'll--you'll have a drink before you gowon't you? Just to show that it's all right between us." Maria sat downagain.

"YesI guess I'll have a drink" she answered.

Zerkow took down a whiskey bottle and a red glass tumbler with a broken basefrom a cupboard on the wall. The two drank togetherZerkow from the bottleMaria from the broken tumbler. They wiped their lips slowlydrawing breathagain. There was a moment's silence.

"Say" said Zerkow at last"how about those gold dishes youtold me about the last time you were here?"

"What gold dishes?" inquired Mariapuzzled.

"Ahyou know" returned the other. "The plate your fatherowned in Central America a long time ago. Don't you knowit rang like so manybells? Red goldyou knowlike oranges?"

"Ah" said Mariaputting her chin in the air as if she knew a longstory about that if she had a mind to tell it. "Ahyesthat goldservice."

"Tell us about it again" said Zerkowhis bloodless lower lipmoving against the upperhis claw-like fingers feeling about his mouth andchin. "Tell us about it; go on."

He was breathing shorthis limbs trembled a little. It was as if some hungrybeast of prey had scented a quarry. Maria still refusedputting up her headinsisting that she had to be going.

"Let's have it" insisted the Jew. "Take another drink."Maria took another swallow of the whiskey. "Nowgo on" repeatedZerkow; "let's have the story." Maria squared her elbows on the dealtablelooking straight in front of her with eyes that saw nothing.

"Wellit was this way" she began. "It was when I was little.My folks must have been richohrich into the millions--coffeeI guess--andthere was a large housebut I can only remember the plate. Ohthat service ofplate! It was wonderful. There were more than a hundred piecesand every one ofthem gold. You should have seen the sight when the leather trunk was opened. Itfair dazzled your eyes. It was a yellow blaze like a firelike a sunset; such agloryall piled up togetherone piece over the other. Whyif the room wasdark you'd think you could see just the same with all that glitter there. Therewa'n't a piece that was so much as scratched; every one was like a mirrorsmooth and brightjust like a little pool when the sun shines into it. Therewas dinner dishes and soup tureens and pitchers; and greatbig platters as longas that and wide too; and cream-jugs and bowls with carved handlesall vinesand things; and drinking mugsevery one a different shape; and dishes for gravyand sauces; and then a greatbig punch-bowl with a ladleand the bowl was allcarved out with figures and bunches of grapes. Whyjust only that punch-bowlwas worth a fortuneI guess. When all that plate was set out on a tableit wasa sight for a king to look at. Such a service as that was! Each piece was heavyohso heavy! and thickyou know; thickfat goldnothing but gold--redshiningpure goldorange red--and when you struck it with your knuckleahyou should have heard! No church bell ever rang sweeter or clearer. It was softgoldtoo; you could bite into itand leave the dent of your teeth. Ohthatgold plate! I can see it just as plain--solidsolidheavyrichpure gold;nothing but goldgoldheaps and heaps of it. What a service that was!"

Maria pausedshaking her headthinking over the vanished splendor.Illiterate enoughunimaginative enough on all other subjectsher distortedwits called up this picture with marvellous distinctness. It was plain she sawthe plate clearly. Her description was accuratewas almost eloquent.

Did that wonderful service of gold plate ever exist outside of her diseasedimagination? Was Maria actually remembering some reality of a childhood ofbarbaric luxury? Were her parents at one time possessed of an incalculablefortune derived from some Central American coffee plantationa fortune longsince confiscated by armies of insurrectionistsor squandered in the support ofrevolutionary governments?

It was not impossible. Of Maria Macapa's past prior to the time of herappearance at the "flat" absolutely nothing could be learned. Shesuddenly appeared from the unknowna strange woman of a mixed racesane on allsubjects but that of the famous service of gold plate; but unusualcomplexmysteriouseven at her best.

But what misery Zerkow endured as he listened to her tale! For he chose tobelieve itforced himself to believe itlashed and harassed by a pitilessgreed that checked at no tale of treasurehowever preposterous. The storyravished him with delight. He was near someone who had possessed this wealth. Hesaw someone who had seen this pile of gold. He seemed near it; it was theresomewhere close byunder his eyesunder his fingers; it was redgleamingponderous. He gazed about him wildly; nothingnothing but the sordid junk shopand the rust-corroded tins. What exasperationwhat positive miseryto be sonear to it and yet to know that it was irrevocablyirretrievably lost! A spasmof anguish passed through him. He gnawed at his bloodless lipsat thehopelessness of itthe ragethe fury of it.

"Go ongo on" he whispered; "let's have it all over again.Polished like a mirrorheyand heavy? YesI knowI know. A punch-bowl wortha fortune. Ah! and you saw ityou had it all!"

Maria rose to go. Zerkow accompanied her to the doorurging another drinkupon her.

"Come againcome again" he croaked. "Don't wait till you'vegot junk; come any time you feel like itand tell me more about theplate."

He followed her a step down the alley.

"How much do you think it was worth?" he inquiredanxiously.

"Oha million dollars" answered Mariavaguely.

When Maria had goneZerkow returned to the back room of the shopand stoodin front of the alcohol stovelooking down into his cold dinnerpreoccupiedthoughtful.

"A million dollars" he muttered in his raspingguttural whisperhis finger-tips wandering over his thincat-like lips. "A golden serviceworth a million dollars; a punch- bowl worth a fortune; red gold platesheapsand piles. God!"

CHAPTER 4

The days passed. McTeague had finished the operation on Trina's teeth. Shedid not come any more to the "Parlors." Matters had readjustedthemselves a little between the two during the last sittings. Trina yet stoodupon her reserveand McTeague still felt himself shambling and ungainly in herpresence; but that constraint and embarrassment that had followed uponMcTeague's blundering declaration broke up little by little. In spite ofthemselves they were gradually resuming the same relative positions they hadoccupied when they had first met.

But McTeague suffered miserably for all that. He never would have Trinahesaw that clearly. She was too good for him; too delicatetoo refinedtooprettily made for himwho was so coarseso enormousso stupid. She was forsomeone else--Marcusno doubt--or at least for some finer- grained man. Sheshould have gone to some other dentist; the young fellow on the cornerforinstancethe poserthe rider of bicyclesthe courser of grey-hounds. McTeaguebegan to loathe and to envy this fellow. He spied upon him going in and out ofhis officeand noted his salmon-pink neckties and his astonishing waistcoats.

One Sundaya few days after Trina's last sittingMcTeague met MarcusSchouler at his table in the car conductors' coffee-jointnext to the harnessshop.

"What you got to do this afternoonMac?" inquired the otherasthey ate their suet pudding.

"Nothingnothing" replied McTeagueshaking his head. His mouthwas full of pudding. It made him warm to eatand little beads of perspirationstood across the bridge of his nose. He looked forward to an afternoon passed inhis operating chair as usual. On leaving his "Parlors" he had put tencents into his pitcher and had left it at Frenna's to be filled.

"What do you say we take a walkhuh?" said Marcus. "Ahthat's the thing--a walka long walkby damn! It'll be outa sight. I got totake three or four of the dogs out for exerciseanyhow. Old Grannis thinks theyneed ut. We'll walk out to the Presidio."

Of late it had become the custom of the two friends to take long walks fromtime to time. On holidays and on those Sunday afternoons when Marcus was notabsent with the Sieppes they went out togethersometimes to the parksometimesto the Presidiosometimes even across the bay. They took a great pleasure ineach other's companybut silently and with reservationhaving the masculinehorror of any demonstration of friendship.

They walked for upwards of five hours that afternoonout the length ofCalifornia Streetand across the Presidio Reservation to the Golden Gate. Thenthey turnedandfollowing the line of the shorebrought up at the CliffHouse. Here they halted for beerMarcus swearing that his mouth was as dry as ahay-bin. Before starting on their walk they had gone around to the little doghospitaland Marcus had let out four of the convalescentscrazed with joy atthe release.

"Look at that dog" he cried to McTeagueshowing him a finely-bredIrish setter. "That's the dog that belonged to the duck on the avenuethedog we called for that day. I've bought 'um. The duck thought he had thedistemperand just threw 'um away. Nothun wrong with 'um but a little catarrh.Ain't he a bird? Sayain't he a bird? Look at his flag; it's perfect; and seehow he carries his tail on a line with his back. See how stiff and white hiswhiskers are. Ohby damn! you can't fool me on a dog. That dog's awinner."

At the Cliff House the two sat down to their beer in a quiet corner of thebilliard-room. There were but two players. Somewhere in another part of thebuilding a mammoth music- box was jangling out a quickstep. From outside camethe longrhythmical rush of the surf and the sonorous barking of the seals uponthe seal rocks. The four dogs curled themselves down upon the sanded floor.

"Here's how" said Marcushalf emptying his glass."Ah-h!" he addedwith a long breath"that's good; it isfor afact."

For the last hour of their walk Marcus had done nearly all the talking.McTeague merely answering him by uncertain movements of the head. For thatmatterthe dentist had been silent and preoccupied throughout the wholeafternoon. At length Marcus noticed it. As he set down his glass with a bang hesuddenly exclaimed:

"What's the matter with you these daysMac? You got a bean aboutsomethunhey? Spit ut out."

"Nono" replied McTeaguelooking about on the floorrolling hiseyes; "nothingnono."

"Ahrats!" returned the other. McTeague kept silence. The twobilliard players departed. The huge music-box struck into a fresh tune.

"Huh!" exclaimed Marcuswith a short laugh"guess you're inlove."

McTeague gaspedand shuffled his enormous feet under the table.

"Wellsomethun's bitun youanyhow" pursued Marcus. "Maybe Ican help you. We're palsyou know. Better tell me what's up; guess we canstraighten ut out. Ahgo on; spit ut out."

The situation was abominable. McTeague could not rise to it. Marcus was hisbest friendhis only friend. They were "pals" and McTeague was veryfond of him. Yet they were both in lovepresumablywith the same girland nowMarcus would try and force the secret out of him; would rush blindly at the rockupon which the two must splitstirred by the very best of motiveswishing onlyto be of service. Besides thisthere was nobody to whom McTeague would havebetter preferred to tell his troubles than to Marcusand yet about thistroublethe greatest trouble of his lifehe must keep silent; must refrainfrom speaking of it to Marcus above everybody.

McTeague began dimly to feel that life was too much for him. How had it allcome about? A month ago he was perfectly content; he was calm and peacefultaking his little pleasures as he found them. His life had shaped itself; wasno doubtto continue always along these same lines. A woman had entered hissmall world and instantly there was discord. The disturbing element hadappeared. Wherever the woman had put her foot a score of distressingcomplications had sprung uplike the sudden growth of strange and puzzlingflowers.

"SayMacgo on; let's have ut straight" urged Marcusleaningtoward him. "Has any duck been doing you dirt?" he criedhis facecrimson on the instant.

"No" said McTeaguehelplessly.

"Come alongold man" persisted Marcus; "let's have ut. Whatis the row? I'll do all I can to help you."

It was more than McTeague could bear. The situation had got beyond him.Stupidly he spokehis hands deep in his pocketshis head rolled forward.

"It's--it's Miss Sieppe" he said.

"Trinamy cousin? How do you mean?" inquired Marcus sharply.

"I--I--I don' know" stammered McTeaguehopelessly confounded.

"You mean" cried Marcussuddenly enlightened"that youare--that youtoo."

McTeague stirred in his chairlooking at the walls of the roomavoiding theother's glance. He nodded his headthen suddenly broke out:

"I can't help it. It ain't my faultis it?"

Marcus was struck dumb; he dropped back in his chair breathless. SuddenlyMcTeague found his tongue.

"I tell youMarkI can't help it. I don't know how it happened. Itcame on so slow that I wasthat--that--that it was done before I knew itbefore I could help myself. I know we're palsus twoand I knew how--how youand Miss Sieppe were. I know nowI knew then; but that wouldn't have made anydifference. Before I knew it--it--it--there I was. I can't help it. I wouldn't'a' had ut happen for anythingif I could 'a' stopped itbut I don' knowit'ssomething that's just stronger than you arethat's all. She came there--MissSieppe came to the parlors there three or four times a weekand she was thefirst girl I had ever known--and you don' know! WhyI was so close to her Itouched her face every minuteand her mouthand smelt her hair and herbreath--ohyou don't know anything about it. I can't give you any idea. I don'know exactly myself; I only know how I'm fixed. I--I--it's been done; it's toolatethere's no going back. WhyI can't think of anything else night and day.It's everything. It's--it's--ohit's everything! I--I--whyMarkit'severything--I can't explain." He made a helpless movement with both hands.

Never had McTeague been so excited; never had he made so long a speech. Hisarms moved in fierceuncertain gestureshis face flushedhis enormous jawsshut together with a sharp click at every pause. It was like some colossal brutetrapped in a delicateinvisible meshragingexasperatedpowerless toextricate himself.

Marcus Schouler said nothing. There was a long silence. Marcus got up andwalked to the window and stood looking outbut seeing nothing. "Wellwhowould have thought of this?" he muttered under his breath. Here was a fix.Marcus cared for Trina. There was no doubt in his mind about that. He lookedforward eagerly to the Sunday afternoon excursions. He liked to be with Trina.Hetoofelt the charm of the little girl--the charm of the smallpaleforehead; the little chin thrust out as if in confidence and innocence; theheavyodorous crown of black hair. He liked her immensely. Some day he wouldspeak; he would ask her to marry him. Marcus put off this matter of marriage tosome future period; it would be some time--a yearperhapsor two. The thingdid not take definite shape in his mind. Marcus "kept company" withhis cousin Trinabut he knew plenty of other girls. For the matter of thatheliked all girls pretty well. Just now the singleness and strength of McTeague'spassion startled him. McTeague would marry Trina that very afternoon if shewould have him; but would he--Marcus? Nohe would not; if it came to thatnohe would not. Yet he knew he liked Trina. He could say--yeshe could say--heloved her. She was his "girl." The Sieppes acknowledged him as Trina's"young man." Marcus came back to the table and sat down sideways uponit.

"Wellwhat are we going to do about itMac?" he said.

"I don' know" answered McTeaguein great distress. "I don'want anything to--to come between usMark."

"Wellnothun willyou bet!" vociferated the other. "Nosir;you bet notMac."

Marcus was thinking hard. He could see very clearly that McTeague loved Trinamore than he did; that in some strange way this hugebrutal fellow was capableof a greater passion than himselfwho was twice as clever. Suddenly Marcusjumped impetuously to a resolution.

"WellsayMac" he criedstriking the table with his fist"go ahead. I guess you--you want her pretty bad. I'll pull out; yesIwill. I'll give her up to youold man."

The sense of his own magnanimity all at once overcame Marcus. He saw himselfas another manvery nobleself- sacrificing; he stood apart and watched thissecond self with boundless admiration and with infinite pity. He was so goodsomagnificentso heroicthat he almost sobbed. Marcus made a sweeping gesture ofresignationthrowing out both his armscrying:

"MacI'll give her up to you. I won't stand between you." Therewere actually tears in Marcus's eyes as he spoke. There was no doubt he thoughthimself sincere. At that moment he almost believed he loved Trinaconscientiouslythat he was sacrificing himself for the sake of his friend. Thetwo stood up and faced each othergripping hands. It was a great moment; evenMcTeague felt the drama of it. What a fine thing was this friendship betweenmen! the dentist treats his friend for an ulcerated tooth and refuses payment;the friend reciprocates by giving up his girl. This was nobility. Their mutualaffection and esteem suddenly increased enormously. It was Damon and Pythias; itwas David and Jonathan; nothing could ever estrange them. Now it was for life ordeath.

"I'm much obliged" murmured McTeague. He could think of nothingbetter to say. "I'm much obliged" he repeated; "much obligedMark."

"That's all rightthat's all right" returned Marcus Schoulerbravelyand it occurred to him to add"You'll be happy together. Tell herfor me--tell her---tell her----" Marcus could not go on. He wrung thedentist's hand silently.

It had not appeared to either of them that Trina might refuse McTeague.McTeague's spirits rose at once. In Marcus's withdrawal he fancied he saw an endto all his difficulties. Everything would come rightafter all. The strainedexalted state of Marcus's nerves ended by putting him into fine humor as well.His grief suddenly changed to an excess of gaiety. The afternoon was a success.They slapped each other on the back with great blows of the open palmsand theydrank each other's health in a third round of beer.

Ten minutes after his renunciation of Trina SieppeMarcus astounded McTeaguewith a tremendous feat.

"Looka hereMac. I know somethun you can't do. I'll bet you two bitsI'll stump you." They each put a quarter on the table. "Now watchme" cried Marcus. He caught up a billiard ball from the rackpoised it amoment in front of his facethen with a suddenhorrifying distension of hisjaws crammed it into his mouthand shut his lips over it.

For an instant McTeague was stupefiedhis eyes bulging. Then an enormouslaugh shook him. He roared and shoutedswaying in his chairslapping his knee.What a josher was this Marcus! Sureyou never could tell what he would do next.Marcus slipped the ball outwiped it on the tableclothand passed it toMcTeague.

"Now let's see you do it."

McTeague fell suddenly grave. The matter was serious. He parted his thickmustaches and opened his enormous jaws like an anaconda. The ball disappearedinside his mouth. Marcus applauded vociferouslyshouting"Goodwork!" McTeague reached for the money and put it in his vest pocketnodding his head with a knowing air.

Then suddenly his face grew purplehis jaws moved convulsivelyhe pawed athis cheeks with both hands. The billiard ball had slipped into his mouth easilyenough; nowhoweverhe could not get it out again.

It was terrible. The dentist rose to his feetstumbling about among thedogshis face workinghis eyes starting. Try as he wouldhe could not stretchhis jaws wide enough to slip the ball out. Marcus lost his witsswearing at thetop of his voice. McTeague sweated with terror; inarticulate sounds came fromhis crammed mouth; he waved his arms wildly; all the four dogs caught theexcitement and began to bark. A waiter rushed inthe two billiard playersreturneda little crowd formed. There was a veritable scene.

All at once the ball slipped out of McTeague's jaws as easily as it had gonein. What a relief! He dropped into a chairwiping his foreheadgasping forbreath.

On the strength of the occasion Marcus Schouler invited the entire group todrink with him.

By the time the affair was over and the group dispersed it was after five.Marcus and McTeague decided they would ride home on the cars. But they soonfound this impossible. The dogs would not follow. Only AlexanderMarcus's newsetterkept his place at the rear of the car. The other three lost their sensesimmediatelyrunning wildly about the streets with their heads in the airorsuddenly starting off at a furious gallop directly away from the car. Marcuswhistled and shouted and lathered with rage in vain. The two friends wereobliged to walk. When they finally reached Polk StreetMarcus shut up the threedogs in the hospital. Alexander he brought back to the flat with him.

There was a minute back yard in the rearwhere Marcus had made a kennel forAlexander out of an old water barrel. Before he thought of his own supper Marcusput Alexander to bed and fed him a couple of dog biscuits. McTeague had followedhim to the yard to keep him company. Alexander settled to his supper at oncechewing vigorously at the biscuithis head on one side.

"What you going to do about this--about that--about--about my cousinnowMac?" inquired Marcus.

McTeague shook his head helplessly. It was dark by now and cold. The littleback yard was grimy and full of odors. McTeague was tired with their long walk.All his uneasiness about his affair with Trina had returned. Nosurely she wasnot for him. Marcus or some other man would win her in the end. What could sheever see to desire in him--in hima clumsy giantwith hands like woodenmallets? She had told him once that she would not marry him. Was that not final?

"I don' know what to doMark" he said.

"Wellyou must make up to her now" answered Marcus. "Go andcall on her."

McTeague started. He had not thought of calling on her. The idea frightenedhim a little.

"Of course" persisted Marcus"that's the proper caper. Whatdid you expect? Did you think you was never going to see her again?"

"I don' knowI don' know" responded the dentistlooking stupidlyat the dog.

"You know where they live" continued Marcus Schouler. "Overat B Street stationacross the bay. I'll take you over there whenever you wantto go. I tell you whatwe'll go over there Washington's Birthday. That's thisnext Wednesday; surethey'll be glad to see you." It was good of Marcus.All at once McTeague rose to an appreciation of what his friend was doing forhim. He stammered:

"SayMark--you're--you're all rightanyhow."

"Whypshaw!" said Marcus. "That's all rightold man. I'dlike to see you two fixedthat's all. We'll go over Wednesdaysure."

They turned back to the house. Alexander left off eating and watched them goawayfirst with one eyethen with the other. But he was too self-respecting towhimper. Howeverby the time the two friends had reached the second landing onthe back stairs a terrible commotion was under way in the little yard. Theyrushed to an open window at the end of the hall and looked down.

A thin board fence separated the flat's back yard from that used by thebranch post-office. In the latter place lived a collie dog. He and Alexander hadsmelt each other outblowing through the cracks of the fence at each other.Suddenly the quarrel had exploded on either side of the fence. The dogs raged ateach othersnarling and barkingfrantic with hate. Their teeth gleamed. Theytore at the fence with their front paws. They filled the whole night with theirclamor.

"By damn!" cried Marcus"they don't love each other. Justlisten; wouldn't that make a fight if the two got together? Have to try it someday."

CHAPTER 5

Wednesday morningWashington's BirthdayMcTeague rose very early and shavedhimself. Besides the six mournful concertina airsthe dentist knew one song.Whenever he shavedhe sung this song; never at any other time. His voice was abellowing roarenough to make the window sashes rattle. Just now he woke up allthe lodgers in his hall with it. It was a lamentable wail:

"No one to lovenone to caress

Left all alone in this world's wilderness."

As he paused to strop his razorMarcus came into his roomhalf-dressedastartling phantom in red flannels.

Marcus often ran back and forth between his room and the dentist's"Parlors" in all sorts of undress. Old Miss Baker had seen him thusseveral times through her half-open dooras she sat in her room listening andwaiting. The old dressmaker was shocked out of all expression. She was outragedoffendedpursing her lipsputting up her head. She talked of complaining tothe landlady. "And Mr. Grannis right next doortoo. You can understand howtrying it is for both of us." She would come out in the hall after one ofthese apparitionsher little false curls shakingtalking loud and shrill toany one in reach of her voice.

"Well" Marcus would shout"shut your doorthenif youdon't want to see. Look outnowhere I come again. Not even a porous plasteron me this time."

On this Wednesday morning Marcus called McTeague out into the hallto thehead of the stairs that led down to the street door.

"Come and listen to MariaMac" said he.

Maria sat on the next to the lowest stepher chin propped by her two fists.The red-headed Polish Jewthe ragman Zerkowstood in the doorway. He wastalking eagerly.

"Nowjust once moreMaria" he was saying. "Tell it to usjust once more." Maria's voice came up the stairway in a monotone. Marcusand McTeague caught a phrase from time to time.

"There were more than a hundred piecesand every one of them gold--justthat punch-bowl was worth a fortune-thickfatred gold."

"Get onto to thatwill you?" observed Marcus. "The old skinhas got her started on the plate. Ain't they a pair for you?"

"And it rang like bellsdidn't it?" prompted Zerkow.

"Sweeter'n church bellsand clearer."

"Ahsweeter'n bells. Wasn't that punch-bowl awful heavy?"

"All you could do to lift it."

"I know. OhI know" answered Zerkowclawing at his lips."Where did it all go to? Where did it go?"

Maria shook her head.

"It's goneanyhow."

"Ahgonegone! Think of it! The punch-bowl goneand the engravedladleand the plates and goblets. What a sight it must have been all heapedtogether!"

"It was a wonderful sight."

"Yeswonderful; it must have been."

On the lower steps of that cheap flatthe Mexican woman and the red-hairedPolish Jew mused long over that vanishedhalf-mythical gold plate.

Marcus and the dentist spent Washington's Birthday across the bay. Thejourney over was one long agony to McTeague. He shook with a formlessuncertaindread; a dozen times he would have turned back had not Marcus been with him. Thestolid giant was as nervous as a schoolboy. He fancied that his call upon MissSieppe was an outrageous affront. She would freeze him with a stare; he would beshown the doorwould be ejecteddisgraced.

As they got off the local train at B Street station they suddenly collidedwith the whole tribe of Sieppes--the motherfatherthree childrenandTrina--equipped for one of their eternal picnics. They were to go to SchuetzenParkwithin walking distance of the station. They were grouped about four lunchbaskets. One of the childrena little boyheld a black greyhound by a ropearound its neck. Trina wore a blue cloth skirta striped shirt waistand awhite sailor; about her round waist was a belt of imitation alligator skin.

At once Mrs. Sieppe began to talk to Marcus. He had written of their comingbut the picnic had been decided upon after the arrival of his letter. Mrs.Sieppe explained this to him. She was an immense old lady with a pink face andwonderful hairabsolutely white. The Sieppes were a German-Swiss family.

"We go to der parkSchuetzen Parkmit alle dem childerna littleeggs-kursioneh not soh? We breathe der freshes aira celubrationa pignicbei der seashore on. Achdot wull be soh gayah?"

"You bet it will. It'll be outa sight" cried Marcusenthusiasticin an instant. "This is m' friend Doctor McTeague I wrote you aboutMrs.Sieppe."

"Achder doktor" cried Mrs. Sieppe.

McTeague was presentedshaking hands gravely as Marcus shouldered him fromone to the other.

Mr. Sieppe was a little man of a military aspectfull of importancetakinghimself very seriously. He was a member of a rifle team. Over his shoulder wasslung a Springfield riflewhile his breast was decorated by five bronze medals.

Trina was delighted. McTeague was dumfounded. She appeared positively glad tosee him.

"How do you doDoctor McTeague" she saidsmiling at him andshaking his hand. "It's nice to see you again. Looksee how fine myfilling is." She lifted a corner of her lip and showed him the clumsy goldbridge.

MeanwhileMr. Sieppe toiled and perspired. Upon him devolved theresponsibility of the excursion. He seemed to consider it a matter of vastimportancea veritable expedition.

"Owgooste!" he shouted to the little boy with the black greyhound"you will der hound und basket number three carry. Der tervins" headdedcalling to the two smallest boyswho were dressed exactly alike"will releef one unudder mit der camp-stuhl und basket number four. Dat iscomprehendhay? When we make der startyou childern will in der advance march.Dat is your orders. But we do not start" he exclaimedexcitedly; "weremain. Ach GottSelinawho does not arrive."

Selinait appearedwas a niece of Mrs. Sieppe's. They were on the point ofstarting without herwhen she suddenly arrivedvery much out of breath. Shewas a slenderunhealthy looking girlwho overworked herself giving lessons inhand-painting at twenty-five cents an hour. McTeague was presented. They allbegan to talk at oncefilling the little station-house with a confusion oftongues.

"Attention!" cried Mr. Sieppehis gold-headed cane in one handhis Springfield in the other. "Attention! We depart." The four littleboys moved off ahead; the greyhound suddenly began to barkand tug at hisleash. The others picked up their bundles.

"Vorwarts!" shouted Mr. Sieppewaving his rifle and assuming theattitude of a lieutenant of infantry leading a charge. The party set off downthe railroad track.

Mrs. Sieppe walked with her husbandwho constantly left her side to shout anorder up and down the line. Marcus followed with Selina. McTeague found himselfwith Trina at the end of the procession.

"We go off on these picnics almost every week" said Trinaby wayof a beginning"and almost every holidaytoo. It is a custom."

"Yesyesa custom" answered McTeaguenodding; "a custom--that's the word."

"Don't you think picnics are fine funDoctor McTeague?" shecontinued. "You take your lunch; you leave the dirty city all day; you raceabout in the open airand when lunchtime comesoharen't you hungry? And thewoods and the grass smell so fine!"

"I don' knowMiss Sieppe" he answeredkeeping his eyes fixed onthe ground between the rails. "I never went on a picnic."

"Never went on a picnic?" she criedastonished. "Ohyou'llsee what fun we'll have. In the morning father and the children dig clams in themud by the shorean' we bake themand--ohthere's thousands of things todo."

"Once I went sailing on the bay" said McTeague. "It was in atugboat; we fished off the heads. I caught three codfishes."

"I'm afraid to go out on the bay" answered Trinashaking herhead"sailboats tip over so easy. A cousin of mineSelina's brotherwasdrowned one Decoration Day. They never found his body. Can you swimDoctorMcTeague?"

"I used to at the mine."

"At the mine? OhyesI rememberMarcus told me you were a mineronce."

"I was a car-boy; all the car-boys used to swim in the reservoir by theditch every Thursday evening. One of them was bit by a rattlesnake once while hewas dressing. He was a Frenchmannamed Andrew. He swelled up and began totwitch."

"Ohhow I hate snakes! They're so crawly and graceful-- butjust thesameI like to watch them. You know that drug store over in town that has ashowcase full of live ones?"

"We killed the rattler with a cart whip."

"How far do you think you could swim? Did you ever try? D'you think youcould swim a mile?"

"A mile? I don't know. I never tried. I guess I could."

"I can swim a little. Sometimes we all go out to the CrystalBaths."

"The Crystal Bathshuh? Can you swim across the tank?"

"OhI can swim all right as long as papa holds my chin up. Soon as hetakes his hand awaydown I go. Don't you hate to get water in your ears?"

"Bathing's good for you."

"If the water's too warmit isn't. It weakens you."

Mr. Sieppe came running down the trackswaving his cane.

"To one side" he shoutedmotioning them off the track; "derdrain gomes." A local passenger train was just passing B Street stationsome quarter of a mile behind them. The party stood to one side to let it pass.Marcus put a nickel and two crossed pins upon the railand waved his hat to thepassengers as the train roared past. The children shouted shrilly. When thetrain was gonethey all rushed to see the nickel and the crossed pins. Thenickel had been jolted offbut the pins had been flattened out so that theybore a faint resemblance to opened scissors. A great contention arose among thechildren for the possession of these "scissors." Mr. Sieppe wasobliged to intervene. He reflected gravely. It was a matter of tremendousmoment. The whole party haltedawaiting his decision.

"Attend now" he suddenly exclaimed. "It will not be soh soon.At der end of der dayven we shall have home gecommenden wull it pe adjudgeeh? A REward of merit to him who der bes' pehaves. It is an order.Vorwarts!"

"That was a Sacramento train" said Marcus to Selina as theystarted off; "it wasfor a fact."

"I know a girl in Sacramento" Trina told McTeague. "She'sforewoman in a glove storeand she's got consumption."

"I was in Sacramento once" observed McTeague"nearly eightyears ago."

"Is it a nice place--as nice as San Francisco?"

"It's hot. I practised there for a while."

"I like San Francisco" said Trinalooking across the bay to wherethe city piled itself upon its hills.

"So do I" answered McTeague. "Do you like it better thanliving over here?"

"OhsureI wish we lived in the city. If you want to go across foranything it takes up the whole day."

"Yesyesthe whole day--almost."

"Do you know many people in the city? Do you know anybody namedOelbermann? That's my uncle. He has a wholesale toy store in the Mission. Theysay he's awful rich."

"NoI don' know him."

"His stepdaughter wants to be a nun. Just fancy! And Mr. Oelbermannwon't have it. He says it would be just like burying his child. Yesshe wantsto enter the convent of the Sacred Heart. Are you a CatholicDoctorMcTeague?"

"No. NoI--"

"Papa is a Catholic. He goes to Mass on the feast days once in a while.But mamma's Lutheran."

"The Catholics are trying to get control of the schools" observedMcTeaguesuddenly remembering one of Marcus's political tirades.

"That's what cousin Mark says. We are going to send the twins to thekindergarten next month."

"What's the kindergarten?"

"Ohthey teach them to make things out of straw and toothpicks--kind ofa play place to keep them off the street."

"There's one up on Sacramento Streetnot far from Polk Street. I sawthe sign."

"I know where. WhySelina used to play the piano there."

"Does she play the piano?"

"Ohyou ought to hear her. She plays fine. Selina's very accomplished.She paintstoo."

"I can play on the concertina."

"Ohcan you? I wish you'd brought it along. Next time you will. I hopeyou'll come often on our picnics. You'll see what fun we'll have."

"Fine day for a picnicain't it? There ain't a cloud."

"That's so" exclaimed Trinalooking up"not a single cloud.Ohyes; there is onejust over Telegraph Hill."

"That's smoke."

"Noit's a cloud. Smoke isn't white that way."

"'Tis a cloud."

"I knew I was right. I never say a thing unless I'm pretty sure."

"It looks like a dog's head."

"Don't it? Isn't Marcus fond of dogs?"

"He got a new dog last week--a setter."

"Did he?"

"Yes. He and I took a lot of dogs from his hospital out for a walk tothe Cliff House last Sundaybut we had to walk all the way homebecause theywouldn't follow. You've been out to the Cliff House?"

"Not for a long time. We had a picnic there one Fourth of Julybut itrained. Don't you love the ocean?"

"Yes--yesI like it pretty well."

"OhI'd like to go off in one of those big sailing ships. Just awayand awayand awayanywhere. They're different from a little yacht. I'd love totravel."

"Sure; so would I."

"Papa and mamma came over in a sailing ship. They were twenty-one days.Mamma's uncle used to be a sailor. He was captain of a steamer on Lake Genevain Switzerland."

"Halt!" shouted Mr. Sieppebrandishing his rifle. They had arrivedat the gates of the park. All at once McTeague turned cold. He had only aquarter in his pocket. What was he expected to do--pay for the whole partyorfor Trina and himselfor merely buy his own ticket? And even in this lattercase would a quarter be enough? He lost his witsrolling his eyes helplessly.Then it occurred to him to feign a great abstractionpretending not to knowthat the time was come to pay. He looked intently up and down the tracks;perhaps a train was coming. "Here we are" cried Trinaas they cameup to the rest of the partycrowded about the entrance. "Yesyes"observed McTeaguehis head in the air.

"Gi' me four bitsMac" said Marcuscoming up. "Here's wherewe shell out."

"I--I--I only got a quarter" mumbled the dentistmiserably. Hefelt that he had ruined himself forever with Trina. What was the use of tryingto win her? Destiny was against him. "I only got a quarter" hestammered. He was on the point of adding that he would not go in the park. Thatseemed to be the only alternative.

"Ohall right!" said Marcuseasily. "I'll pay for youandyou can square with me when we go home."

They filed into the parkMr. Sieppe counting them off as they entered.

"Ah" said Trinawith a long breathas she and McTeague pushedthrough the wicket"here we are once moreDoctor." She had notappeared to notice McTeague's embarrassment. The difficulty had been tided oversomehow. Once more McTeague felt himself saved.

"To der beach!" shouted Mr. Sieppe. They had checked their basketsat the peanut stand. The whole party trooped down to the seashore. The greyhoundwas turned loose. The children raced on ahead.

From one of the larger parcels Mrs. Sieppe had drawn forth a small tinsteamboat--August's birthday present--a gaudy little toy which could be steamedup and navigated by means of an alcohol lamp. Her trial trip was to be made thismorning.

"Gi' me itgi' me it" shouted Augustdancing around his father.

"Not sohnot soh" cried Mr. Sieppebearing it aloft. "Imust first der eggsperimunt make."

"Nono!" wailed August. "I want to play with ut."

"Obey!" thundered Mr. Sieppe. August subsided. A little jetty ranpart of the way into the water. Hereafter a careful study of the directionsprinted on the cover of the boxMr. Sieppe began to fire the little boat.

"I want to put ut in the wa-ater" cried August.

"Stand back!" shouted his parent. "You do not know so well asme; dere is dandger. Mitout attention he will eggsplode."

"I want to play with ut" protested Augustbeginning to cry.

"Achsoh; you crybube!" vociferated Mr. Sieppe."Mommer" addressing Mrs. Sieppe"he will soh soon be ge-whipteh?"

"I want my boa-wut" screamed Augustdancing.

"Silence!" roared Mr. Sieppe. The little boat began to hiss andsmoke.

"Soh" observed the father"he gommence. Attention! I put himin der water." He was very excited. The perspiration dripped from the backof his neck. The little boat was launched. It hissed more furiously than ever.Clouds of steam rolled from itbut it refused to move.

"You don't know how she wo-rks" sobbed August.

"I know more soh mudge as der grossest liddle fool as you" criedMr. Sieppefiercelyhis face purple.

"You must give it sh--shove!" exclaimed the boy.

"Den he eggsplodeidiot!" shouted his father. All at once theboiler of the steamer blew up with a sharp crack. The little tin toy turned overand sank out of sight before any one could interfere.

"Ah--h! Yah! Yah!" yelled August. "It's go-one!"

Instantly Mr. Sieppe boxed his ears. There was a lamentable scene. Augustrent the air with his outcries; his father shook him till his boots danced onthe jettyshouting into his face:

"Achidiot! Achimbecile! Achmiserable! I tol' you he eggsplode.Stop your cry. Stop! It is an order. Do you wish I drow you in der watereh?Speak. Silencebube! Mommerwhere ist mein stick? He will der grossest whippunever of his life receive."

Little by little the boy subsidedswallowing his sobsknuckling his eyesgazing ruefully at the spot where the boat had sunk. "Dot is bettersoh" commented Mr. Sieppefinally releasing him. "Next dime berhapsyou will your fat'er better pelief. Nowno more. We will der glams ge- digMommera fire. Achhimmel! we have der pfeffer forgotten."

The work of clam digging began at oncethe little boys taking off theirshoes and stockings. At first August refused to be comfortedand it was notuntil his father drove him into the water with his gold-headed cane that heconsented to join the others.

What a day that was for McTeague! What a never-to-be- forgotten day! He waswith Trina constantly. They laughed together--she demurelyher lips closedtighther little chin thrust outher small pale nosewith its adorable littlefreckleswrinkling; he roared with all the force of his lungshis enormousmouth distendedstriking sledge- hammer blows upon his knee with his clenchedfist.

The lunch was delicious. Trina and her mother made a clam chowder that meltedin one's mouth. The lunch baskets were emptied. The party were fully two hourseating. There were huge loaves of rye bread full of grains of chickweed. Therewere weiner-wurst and frankfurter sausages. There was unsalted butter. Therewere pretzels. There was cold underdone chickenwhich one ate in slicesplastered with a wonderful kind of mustard that did not sting. There were driedapplesthat gave Mr. Sieppe the hiccoughs. There were a dozen bottles of beerandlast of alla crowning achievementa marvellous Gotha truffle. Afterlunch came tobacco. Stuffed to the eyesMcTeague drowsed over his pipeproneon his back in the sunwhile TrinaMrs. Sieppeand Selina washed the dishes.In the afternoon Mr. Sieppe disappeared. They heard the reports of his rifle onthe range. The others swarmed over the parknow around the swingsnow in theCasinonow in the museumnow invading the merry-go-round.

At half-past five o'clock Mr. Sieppe marshalled the party together. It wastime to return home.

The family insisted that Marcus and McTeague should take supper with them attheir home and should stay over night. Mrs. Sieppe argued they could get nodecent supper if they went back to the city at that hour; that they could catchan early morning boat and reach their business in good time. The two friendsaccepted.

The Sieppes lived in a little box of a house at the foot of B Streetthefirst house to the right as one went up from the station. It was two storieshighwith a funny red mansard roof of oval slates. The interior was cut up intoinnumerable tiny roomssome of them so small as to be hardly better thansleeping closets. In the back yard was a contrivance for pumping water from thecistern that interested McTeague at once. It was a dog-wheela huge revolvingbox in which the unhappy black greyhound spent most of his waking hours. It washis kennel; he slept in it. From time to time during the day Mrs. Sieppeappeared on the back doorstepcrying shrilly"Hoophoop!" She threwlumps of coal at himwaking him to his work.

They were all very tiredand went to bed early. After great discussion itwas decided that Marcus would sleep upon the lounge in the front parlor. Trinawould sleep with Augustgiving up her room to McTeague. Selina went to herhomea block or so above the Sieppes's. At nine o'clock Mr. Sieppe showedMcTeague to his room and left him to himself with a newly lighted candle.

For a long time after Mr. Sieppe had gone McTeague stood motionless in themiddle of the roomhis elbows pressed close to his sideslooking obliquelyfrom the corners of his eyes. He hardly dared to move. He was in Trina's room.

It was an ordinary little room. A clean white matting was on the floor; graypaperspotted with pink and green flowerscovered the walls. In one cornerunder a white nettingwas a little bedthe woodwork gayly painted with knotsof bright flowers. Near itagainst the wallwas a black walnut bureau. Awork-table with spiral legs stood by the windowwhich was hung with a green andgold window curtain. Opposite the window the closet door stood ajarwhile inthe corner across from the bed was a tiny washstand with two clean towels.

And that was all. But it was Trina's room. McTeague was in his lady's bower;it seemed to him a little nestintimatediscreet. He felt hideously out ofplace. He was an intruder; hewith his enormous feethis colossal boneshiscrudebrutal gestures. The mere weight of his limbshe was surewould crushthe little bed-stead like an eggshell.

Thenas this first sensation wore offhe began to feel the charm of thelittle chamber. It was as though Trina were close bybut invisible. McTeaguefelt all the delight of her presence without the embarrassment that usuallyaccompanied it. He was near to her--nearer than he had ever been before. He sawinto her daily lifeher little ways and mannersher habitsher very thoughts.And was there not in the air of that room a certain faint perfume that he knewthat recalled her to his mind with marvellous vividness?

As he put the candle down upon the bureau he saw her hair- brush lying there.Instantly he picked it upandwithout knowing whyheld it to his face. Withwhat a delicious odor was it redolent! That heavyenervating odor of herhair--her wonderfulroyal hair! The smell of that little hairbrush wastalismanic. He had but to close his eyes to see her as distinctly as in amirror. He saw her tinyround figuredressed all in black--forcuriouslyenoughit was his very first impression of Trina that came back to him now--notthe Trina of the later occasionsnot the Trina of the blue cloth skirt andwhite sailor. He saw her as he had seen her the day that Marcus had introducedthem: saw her paleround face; her narrowhalf-open eyesblue like the eyesof a baby; her tinypale earssuggestive of anaemia; the freckles across thebridge of her nose; her pale lips; the tiara of royal black hair; andaboveallthe delicious poise of the headtipped back as though by the weight of allthat hair--the poise that thrust out her chin a littlewith the movement thatwas so confidingso innocentso nearly infantile.

McTeague went softly about the room from one object to anotherbeholdingTrina in everything he touched or looked at. He came at last to the closet door.It was ajar. He opened it wideand paused upon the threshold.

Trina's clothes were hanging there--skirts and waistsjacketsand stiffwhite petticoats. What a vision! For an instant McTeague caught his breathspellbound. If he had suddenly discovered Trina herself theresmiling at himholding out her handshe could hardly have been more overcome. Instantly herecognized the black dress she had worn on that famous first day. There it wasthe little jacket she had carried over her arm the day he had terrified her withhis blundering declarationand still othersand others--a whole group ofTrinas faced him there. He went farther into the closettouching the clothesgingerlystroking them softly with his huge leathern palms. As he stirred thema delicate perfume disengaged itself from the folds. Ahthat exquisite feminineodor! It was not only her hair nowit was Trina herself--her mouthher handsher neck; the indescribably sweetfleshly aroma that was a part of herpureand cleanand redolent of youth and freshness. All at onceseized with anunreasoned impulseMcTeague opened his huge arms and gathered the littlegarments close to himplunging his face deep amongst themsavoring theirdelicious odor with long breaths of luxury and supreme content.

* * * * * * * * * * *

The picnic at Schuetzen Park decided matters. McTeague began to call on Trinaregularly Sunday and Wednesday afternoons. He took Marcus Schouler's place.Sometimes Marcus accompanied himbut it was generally to meet Selina byappointment at the Sieppes's house.

But Marcus made the most of his renunciation of his cousin. He remembered hispose from time to time. He made McTeague unhappy and bewildered by wringing hishandby venting sighs that seemed to tear his heart outor by giving evidencesof an infinite melancholy. "What is my life!" he would exclaim."What is left for me? Nothingby damn!" And when McTeague wouldattempt remonstrancehe would cry: "Never mindold man. Never mind me.Gobe happy. I forgive you."

Forgive what? McTeague was all at seawas harassed with the thought of someshadowyirreparable injury he had done his friend.

"Ohdon't think of me!" Marcus would exclaim at other timesevenwhen Trina was by. "Don't think of me; I don't count any more. I ain't init." Marcus seemed to take great pleasure in contemplating the wreck of hislife. There is no doubt he enjoyed himself hugely during these days.

The Sieppes were at first puzzled as well over this change of front.

"Trina has den a new younge man" cried Mr. Sieppe. "FirstSchoulernow der doktoreh? What die tevilI say!"

Weeks passedFebruary wentMarch came in very rainyputting a stop to alltheir picnics and Sunday excursions.

One Wednesday afternoon in the second week in March McTeague came over tocall on Trinabringing his concertina with himas was his custom nowadays. Ashe got off the train at the station he was surprised to find Trina waiting forhim.

"This is the first day it hasn't rained in weeks" she explained"an' I thought it would be nice to walk."

"Suresure" assented McTeague.

B Street station was nothing more than a little shed. There was no ticketofficenothing but a couple of whittled and carven benches. It was built closeto the railroad tracksjust across which was the dirtymuddy shore of SanFrancisco Bay. About a quarter of a mile back from the station was the edge ofthe town of Oakland. Between the station and the first houses of the town layimmense salt flatshere and there broken by winding streams of black water.They were covered with a growth of wiry grassstrangely discolored in places byenormous stains of orange yellow.

Near the station a bit of fence painted with a cigar advertisement reeledover into the mudwhile under its lee lay an abandoned gravel wagon with dishedwheels. The station was connected with the town by the extension of B Streetwhich struck across the flats geometrically straighta file of tall poles withintervening wires marching along with it. At the station these were headed by aniron electric-light pole thatwith its supports and outriggerslooked for allthe world like an immense grasshopper on its hind legs.

Across the flatsat the fringe of the townwere the dump heapsthe figuresof a few Chinese rag-pickers moving over them. Far to the left the view was shutoff by the immense red-brown drum of the gas-works; to the right it was boundedby the chimneys and workshops of an iron foundry.

Across the railroad tracksto seawardone saw the long stretch of black mudbank left bare by the tidewhich was far outnearly half a mile. Clouds ofsea-gulls were forever rising and settling upon this mud bank; a wrecked andabandoned wharf crawled over it on tottering legs; close in an old sailboat laycanted on her bilge.

But farther onacross the yellow waters of the baybeyond Goat IslandlaySan Franciscoa blue line of hillsrugged with roofs and spires. Far to thewestward opened the Golden Gatea bleak cutting in the sand-hillsthroughwhich one caught a glimpse of the open Pacific.

The station at B Street was solitary; no trains passed at this hour; exceptthe distant rag-pickersnot a soul was in sight. The wind blew strongcarryingwith it the mingled smell of saltof tarof dead seaweedand of bilge. Thesky hung low and brown; at long intervals a few drops of rain fell.

Near the station Trina and McTeague sat on the roadbed of the tracksat theedge of the mud bankmaking the most out of the landscapeenjoying the openairthe salt marshesand the sight of the distant water. From time to timeMcTeague played his six mournful airs upon his concertina.

After a while they began walking up and down the tracksMcTeague talkingabout his professionTrina listeningvery interested and absorbedtrying tounderstand.

"For pulling the roots of the upper molars we use the cow- hornforceps" continued the dentistmonotonously. "We get the inside beakover the palatal roots and the cow-horn beak over the buccal roots--that's theroots on the outsideyou see. Then we close the forcepsand that breaks rightthrough the alveolus--that's the part of the socket in the jawyouunderstand."

At another moment he told her of his one unsatisfied desire. "Some dayI'm going to have a big gilded tooth outside my window for a sign. Those biggold teeth are beautifulbeautiful--only they cost so muchI can't afford onejust now."

"Ohit's raining" suddenly exclaimed Trinaholding out her palm.They turned back and reached the station in a drizzle. The afternoon was closingin dark and rainy. The tide was coming backtalking and lapping for miles alongthe mud bank. Far off across the flatsat the edge of the townan electric carwent bystringing out a long row of diamond sparks on the overhead wires.

"SayMiss Trina" said McTeagueafter a while"what's thegood of waiting any longer? Why can't us two get married?"

Trina still shook her headsaying "No" instinctivelyin spite ofherself.

"Why not?" persisted McTeague. "Don't you like me wellenough?"

"Yes."

"Then why not?"

"Because."

"Ahcome on" he saidbut Trina still shook her head.

"Ahcome on" urged McTeague. He could think of nothing else tosayrepeating the same phrase over and over again to all her refusals.

"Ahcome on! Ahcome on!"

Suddenly he took her in his enormous armscrushing down her struggle withhis immense strength. Then Trina gave upall in an instantturning her head tohis. They kissed each othergrosslyfull in the mouth.

A roar and a jarring of the earth suddenly grew near and passed them in areek of steam and hot air. It was the Overlandwith its flaming headlightonits way across the continent.

The passage of the train startled them both. Trina struggled to free herselffrom McTeague. "Ohplease! please!" she pleadedon the point oftears. McTeague released herbut in that moment a slighta barely perceptiblerevulsion of feeling had taken place in him. The instant that Trina gave uptheinstant she allowed him to kiss herhe thought less of her. She was not sodesirableafter all. But this reaction was so faintso subtleso intangiblethat in another moment he had doubted its occurrence. Yet afterward it returned.Was there not something gone from Trina now? Was he not disappointed in her fordoing that very thing for which he had longed? Was Trina the submissivethecompliantthe attainable just the samejust as delicate and adorable as Trinathe inaccessible? Perhaps he dimly saw that this must be sothat it belonged tothe changeless order of things--the man desiring the woman only for what shewithholds; the woman worshipping the man for that which she yields up to him.With each concession gained the man's desire cools; with every surrender madethe woman's adoration increases. But why should it be so?

Trina wrenched herself free and drew back from McTeagueher little chinquivering; her faceeven to the lobes of her pale earsflushed scarlet; hernarrow blue eyes brimming. Suddenly she put her head between her hands and beganto sob.

"SaysayMiss Trinalisten--listen hereMiss Trina" criedMcTeaguecoming forward a step.

"Ohdon't!" she gaspedshrinking. "I must go home" shecriedspringing to her feet. "It's late. I must. I must. Don't come withmeplease. OhI'm so--so"--she could not find any words. "Let me goalone" she went on. "You may-- you come Sunday. Good-by."

"Good-by" said McTeaguehis head in a whirl at this suddenunaccountable change. "Can't I kiss you again?" But Trina was firmnow. When it came to his pleading--a mere matter of words--she was strongenough.

"Nonoyou must not!" she exclaimedwith energy. She was gone inanother instant. The dentiststunnedbewilderedgazed stupidly after her asshe ran up the extension of B Street through the rain.

But suddenly a great joy took possession of him. He had won her. Trina was tobe for himafter all. An enormous smile distended his thick lips; his eyes grewwideand flashed; and he drew his breath quicklystriking his mallet-like fistupon his kneeand exclaiming under his breath:

"I got herby God! I got herby God!" At the same time he thoughtbetter of himself; his self-respect increased enormously. The man that could winTrina Sieppe was a man of extraordinary ability.

Trina burst in upon her mother while the latter was setting a mousetrap inthe kitchen.

"Ohmamma!"

"Eh? Trina? Achwhat has happun?"

Trina told her in a breath.

"Soh soon?" was Mrs. Sieppe's first comment. "Ehwellwhatyou cry forthen?"

"I don't know" wailed Trinaplucking at the end of herhandkerchief.

"You loaf der younge doktor?"

"I don't know."

"Wellwhat for you kiss him?"

"I don't know."

"You don' knowyou don' know? Where haf your sensus goneTrina? Youkiss der doktor. You cryand you don' know. Is ut Marcus den?"

"Noit's not Cousin Mark."

"Den ut must be der doktor."

Trina made no answer.

"Eh?"

"I--I guess so."

"You loaf him?"

"I don't know."

Mrs. Sieppe set down the mousetrap with such violence that it sprung with asharp snap.

CHAPTER 6

NoTrina did not know. "Do I love him? Do I love him?" A thousandtimes she put the question to herself during the next two or three days. Atnight she hardly sleptbut lay broad awake for hours in her littlegaylypainted bedwith its white nettingtorturing herself with doubts andquestions. At times she remembered the scene in the station with a veritableagony of shameand at other times she was ashamed to recall it with a thrill ofjoy. Nothing could have been more suddenmore unexpectedthan that surrenderof herself. For over a year she had thought that Marcus would some day be herhusband. They would be marriedshe supposedsome time in the futureshe didnot know exactly when; the matter did not take definite shape in her mind. Sheliked Cousin Mark very well. And then suddenly this cross-current had set in;this blond giant had appearedthis hugestolid fellowwith his immensecrudestrength. She had not loved him at firstthat was certain. The day he hadspoken to her in his "Parlors" she had only been terrified. If he hadconfined himself to merely speakingas did Marcusto pleading with hertowooing her at a distanceforestalling her wishesshowing her littleattentionssending her boxes of candyshe could have easily withstood him. Buthe had only to take her in his armsto crush down her struggle with hisenormous strengthto subdue herconquer her by sheer brute forceand she gaveup in an instant.

But why--why had she done so? Why did she feel the desirethe necessity ofbeing conquered by a superior strength? Why did it please her? Why had itsuddenly thrilled her from head to foot with a quickterrifying gust ofpassionthe like of which she had never known? Never at his best had Marcusmade her feel like thatand yet she had always thought she cared for CousinMark more than for any one else.

When McTeague had all at once caught her in his huge armssomething hadleaped to life in her--something that had hitherto lain dormantsomethingstrong and overpowering. It frightened her now as she thought of itthis secondself that had wakened within herand that shouted and clamored for recognition.And yetwas it to be feared? Was it something to be ashamed of? Was it notafter allnaturalcleanspontaneous? Trina knew that she was a pure girl;knew that this sudden commotion within her carried with it no suggestion ofvice.

Dimlyas figures seen in a waking dreamthese ideas floated through Trina'smind. It was quite beyond her to realize them clearly; she could not know whatthey meant. Until that rainy day by the shore of the bay Trina had lived herlife with as little self-consciousness as a tree. She was frankstraightforwarda healthynatural human beingwithout sex as yet. She wasalmost like a boy. At once there had been a mysterious disturbance. The womanwithin her suddenly awoke.

Did she love McTeague? Difficult question. Did she choose him for better orfor worsedeliberatelyof her own free willor was Trina herself allowed evena choice in the taking of that step that was to make or mar her life? The Womanis awakenedandstarting from her sleepcatches blindly at what first hernewly opened eyes light upon. It is a spella witcheryruled by chance aloneinexplicable --a fairy queen enamored of a clown with ass's ears.

McTeague had awakened the Womanandwhether she would or noshe was hisnow irrevocably; struggle against it as she wouldshe belonged to himbody andsoulfor life or for death. She had not sought itshe had not desired it. Thespell was laid upon her. Was it a blessing? Was it a curse? It was all one; shewas hisindissolublyfor evil or for good.

And he? The very act of submission that bound the woman to him forever hadmade her seem less desirable in his eyes. Their undoing had already begun. Yetneither of them was to blame. From the first they had not sought each other.Chance had brought them face to faceand mysterious instincts as ungovernableas the winds of heaven were at work knitting their lives together. Neither ofthem had asked that this thing should be--that their destiniestheir verysoulsshould be the sport of chance. If they could have knownthey would haveshunned the fearful risk. But they were allowed no voice in the matter. Whyshould it all be?

It had been on a Wednesday that the scene in the B Street station had takenplace. Throughout the rest of the weekat every hour of the dayTrina askedherself the same question: "Do I love him? Do I really love him? Is thiswhat love is like?" As she recalled McTeague--recalled his hugesquare-cutheadhis salient jawhis shock of yellow hairhis heavylumbering bodyhisslow wits--she found little to admire in him beyond his physical strengthandat such moments she shook her head decisively. "Nosurely she did not lovehim." Sunday afternoonhoweverMcTeague called. Trina had prepared alittle speech for him. She was to tell him that she did not know what had beenthe matter with her that Wednesday afternoon; that she had acted like a badgirl; that she did not love him well enough to marry him; that she had told himas much once before.

McTeague saw her alone in the little front parlor. The instant she appearedhe came straight towards her. She saw what he was bent upon doing. "Wait aminute" she criedputting out her hands. "Wait. You don'tunderstand. I have got something to say to you." She might as well havetalked to the wind. McTeague put aside her hands with a single gestureandgripped her to him in a bearlike embrace that all but smothered her. Trina wasbut a reed before that giant strength. McTeague turned her face to his andkissed her again upon the mouth. Where was all Trina's resolve then? Where washer carefully prepared little speech? Where was all her hesitation and torturingdoubts of the last few days? She clasped McTeague's huge red neck with both herslender arms; she raised her adorable little chin and kissed him in returnexclaiming: "OhI do love you! I do love you!" Never afterward werethe two so happy as at that moment.

A little later in that same weekwhen Marcus and McTeague were taking lunchat the car conductors' coffee-jointthe former suddenly exclaimed:

"SayMacnow that you've got Trinayou ought to do more for her. Bydamn! you ought tofor a fact. Why don't you take her out somewhere--to thetheatreor somewhere? You ain't on to your job."

NaturallyMcTeague had told Marcus of his success with Trina. Marcus hadtaken on a grand air.

"You've got herhave you? WellI'm glad of itold man. I amfor afact. I know you'll be happy with her. I know how I would have been. I forgiveyou; yesI forgive youfreely."

McTeague had not thought of taking Trina to the theatre.

"You think I ought toMark?" he inquiredhesitating. Marcusansweredwith his mouth full of suet pudding:

"Whyof course. That's the proper caper."

"Well--wellthat's so. The theatre--that's the word."

"Take her to the variety show at the Orpheum. There's a good show therethis week; you'll have to take Mrs. Sieppetooof course" he added.Marcus was not sure of himself as regarded certain proprietiesnorfor thatmatterwere any of the people of the little world of Polk Street. The shopgirlsthe plumbers' apprenticesthe small tradespeopleand their likewhosesocial position was not clearly definedcould never be sure how far they couldgo and yet preserve their "respectability." When they wished to be"proper" they invariably overdid the thing. It was not as if theybelonged to the "tough" elementwho had no appearances to keep up.Polk Street rubbed elbows with the "avenue" one block above. Therewere certain limits which its dwellers could not overstep; but unfortunately forthemthese limits were poorly defined. They could never be sure of themselves.At an unguarded moment they might be taken for "toughs" so theygenerally erred in the other directionand were absurdly formal. No people havea keener eye for the amenities than those whose social position is not assured.

"Ohsureyou'll have to take her mother" insisted Marcus."It wouldn't be the proper racket if you didn't."

McTeague undertook the affair. It was an ordeal. Never in his life had hebeen so perturbedso horribly anxious. He called upon Trina the followingWednesday and made arrangements. Mrs. Sieppe asked if little August might beincluded. It would console him for the loss of his steamboat.

"Suresure" said McTeague. "August too--everybody" headdedvaguely.

"We always have to leave so early" complained Trina"inorder to catch the last boat. Just when it's becoming interesting."

At this McTeagueacting upon a suggestion of Marcus Schouler'sinsistedthey should stay at the flat over night. Marcus and the dentist would give uptheir rooms to them and sleep at the dog hospital. There was a bed there in thesick ward that old Grannis sometimes occupied when a bad case needed watching.All at once McTeague had an ideaa veritable inspiration.

"And we'll--we'll--we'll have--what's the matter with having somethingto eat afterward in my "Parlors?"

"Vairy goot" commented Mrs. Sieppe. "Biereh? And somedamales."

"OhI love tamales!" exclaimed Trinaclasping her hands.

McTeague returned to the cityrehearsing his instructions over and over. Thetheatre party began to assume tremendous proportions. First of allhe was toget the seatsthe third or fourth row from the fronton the left-hand sidesoas to be out of the hearing of the drums in the orchestra; he must makearrangements about the rooms with Marcusmust get in the beerbut not thetamales; must buy for himself a white lawn tie--so Marcus directed; must look toit that Maria Macapa put his room in perfect order; andfinallymust meet theSieppes at the ferry slip at half- past seven the following Monday night.

The real labor of the affair began with the buying of the tickets. At thetheatre McTeague got into wrong entrances; was sent from one wicket to another;was bewilderedconfused; misunderstood directions; was at one moment suddenlyconvinced that he had not enough money with himand started to return home.Finally he found himself at the box-office wicket.

"Is it here you buy your seats?"

"How many?"

"Is it here--"

"What night do you want 'em? Yessirhere's the place."

McTeague gravely delivered himself of the formula he had been reciting forthe last dozen hours.

"I want four seats for Monday night in the fourth row from the frontand on the right-hand side."

"Right hand as you face the house or as you face the stage?"McTeague was dumfounded.

"I want to be on the right-hand side" he insistedstolidly;adding"in order to be away from the drums."

"Wellthe drums are on the right of the orchestra as you face thestage" shouted the other impatiently; "you want to the leftthenasyou face the house."

"I want to be on the right-hand side" persisted the dentist.

Without a word the seller threw out four tickets with a magnificentsupercilious gesture.

"There's four seats on the right-hand sidethenand you're right upagainst the drums."

"But I don't want to be near the drums" protested McTeaguebeginning to perspire.

"Do you know what you want at all?" said the ticket seller withcalmnessthrusting his head at McTeague. The dentist knew that he had hurt thisyoung man's feelings.

"I want--I want" he stammered. The seller slammed down a plan ofthe house in front of him and began to explain excitedly. It was the one thinglacking to complete McTeague's confusion.

"There are your seats" finished the sellershoving the ticketsinto McTeague's hands. "They are the fourth row from the frontand awayfrom the drums. Now are you satisfied?"

"Are they on the right-hand side? I want on the right--noI want on theleft. I want--I don' knowI don' know."

The seller roared. McTeague moved slowly awaygazing stupidly at the blueslips of pasteboard. Two girls took his place at the wicket. In another momentMcTeague came backpeering over the girls' shoulders and calling to the seller:

"Are these for Monday night?"

The other disdained reply. McTeague retreated again timidlythrusting thetickets into his immense wallet. For a moment he stood thoughtful on the stepsof the entrance. Then all at once he became enragedhe did not know exactlywhy; somehow he felt himself slighted. Once more he came back to the wicket.

"You can't make small of me" he shouted over the girls' shoulders;"you--you can't make small of me. I'll thump you in the headyoulittle--you little--you little--little-- little pup." The ticket sellershrugged his shoulders wearily. "A dollar and a half" he said to thetwo girls.

McTeague glared at him and breathed loudly. Finally he decided to let thematter drop. He moved awaybut on the steps was once more seized with a senseof injury and outraged dignity.

"You can't make small of me" he called back a last timewagginghis head and shaking his fist. "I will--I will--I will--yesI will."He went off muttering.

At last Monday night came. McTeague met the Sieppes at the ferrydressed ina black Prince Albert coat and his best slate-blue trousersand wearing themade-up lawn necktie that Marcus had selected for him. Trina was very pretty inthe black dress that McTeague knew so well. She wore a pair of new gloves. Mrs.Sieppe had on lisle-thread mitsand carried two bananas and an orange in a netreticule. "For Owgooste" she confided to him. Owgooste was in aFauntleroy "costume" very much too small for him. Already he had beencrying.

"Woult you peliefDoktordot bube has torn his stockun alreatty? Walkin der frontyou; stop cryun. Where is dot berliceman?"

At the door of the theatre McTeague was suddenly seized with a panic terror.He had lost the tickets. He tore through his pocketsransacked his wallet. Theywere nowhere to be found. All at once he rememberedand with a gasp of reliefremoved his hat and took them out from beneath the sweatband.

The party entered and took their places. It was absurdly early. The lightswere all darkenedthe ushers stood under the galleries in groupsthe emptyauditorium echoing with their noisy talk. Occasionally a waiter with his trayand clean white apron sauntered up and doun the aisle. Directly in front of themwas the great iron curtain of the stagepainted with all manner ofadvertisements. From behind this came a noise of hammering and of occasionalloud voices.

While waiting they studied their programmes. First was an overture by theorchestraafter which came "The Gleasonsin their mirth-moving musicalfarceentitled 'McMonnigal's Court-ship.'" This was to be followed by"The Lamont SistersWinnie and Violetserio-comiques and skirtdancers." And after this came a great array of other "artists"and "specialty performers" musical wondersacrobatslightningartistsventriloquistsand last of all"The feature of the eveningthecrowning scientific achievement of the nineteenth centurythekinetoscope." McTeague was exciteddazzled. In five years he had not beentwice to the theatre. Now he beheld himself inviting his "girl" andher mother to accompany him. He began to feel that he was a man of the world. Heordered a cigar.

Meanwhile the house was filling up. A few side brackets were turned on. Theushers ran up and down the aislesstubs of tickets between their thumb andfingerand from every part of the auditorium could be heard the sharp clap-clapping of the seats as the ushers flipped them down. A buzz of talk arose. Inthe gallery a street gamin whistled shrillyand called to some friends on theother side of the house.

"Are they go-wun to begin pretty soonma?" whined Owgooste for thefifth or sixth time; adding"Saymacan't I have some candy?" Acadaverous little boy had appeared in their aislechanting"CandiesFrench mixed candiespopcornpeanuts and candy." The orchestra enteredeach man crawling out from an opening under the stagehardly larger than thegate of a rabbit hutch. At every instant now the crowd increased; there were butfew seats that were not taken. The waiters hurried up and down the aislestheirtrays laden with beer glasses. A smell of cigar-smoke filled the airand soon afaint blue haze rose from all corners of the house.

"Mawhen are they go-wun to begin?" cried Owgooste. As he spokethe iron advertisement curtain rosedisclosing the curtain proper underneath.This latter curtain was quite an affair. Upon it was painted a wonderfulpicture. A flight of marble steps led down to a stream of water; two whiteswanstheir necks arched like the capital letter Sfloated about. At the headof the marble steps were two vases filled with red and yellow flowerswhile atthe foot was moored a gondola. This gondola was full of red velvet rugs thathung over the side and trailed in the water. In the prow of the gondola a youngman in vermilion tights held a mandolin in his left handand gave his right toa girl in white satin. A King Charles spanieldragging a leading- string in theshape of a huge pink sashfollowed the girl. Seven scarlet roses were scatteredupon the two lowest stepsand eight floated in the water.

"Ain't that prettyMac?" exclaimed Trinaturning to the dentist.

"Maain't they go-wun to begin now-wow?" whined Owgooste. Suddenlythe lights all over the house blazed up. "Ah!" said everybody all atonce.

"Ain't ut crowdut?" murmured Mr. Sieppe. Every seat was taken; manywere even standing up.

"I always like it better when there is a crowd" said Trina. Shewas in great spirits that evening. Her roundpale face was positively pink.

The orchestra banged away at the overturesuddenly finishing with a greatflourish of violins. A short pause followed. Then the orchestra played aquick-step strainand the curtain rose on an interior furnished with two redchairs and a green sofa. A girl in a short blue dress and black stockingsentered in a hurry and began to dust the two chairs. She was in a great tempertalking very fastdisclaiming against the "new lodger." It appearedthat this latter never paid his rent; that he was given to late hours. Then shecame down to the footlights and began to sing in a tremendous voicehoarse andflatalmost like a man's. The chorusof a feeble originalityran:

"Ohhow happy I will beWhen my darling's face I'll see; Ohtell himfor to meet me in the moonlightDown where the golden lilies bloom."

The orchestra played the tune of this chorus a second timewith certainvariationswhile the girl danced to it. She sidled to one side of the stage andkickedthen sidled to the other and kicked again. As she finished with thesonga manevidently the lodger in questioncame in. Instantly McTeagueexploded in a roar of laughter. The man was intoxicatedhis hat was knocked inone end of his collar was unfastened and stuck up into his facehis watch-chain dangled from his pocketand a yellow satin slipper was tied to abutton-hole of his vest; his nose was vermilionone eye was black and blue.After a short dialogue with the girla third actor appeared. He was dressedlike a little boythe girl's younger brother. He wore an immense turned-downcollarand was continually doing hand-springs and wonderful back somersaults.The "act" devolved upon these three people; the lodger making love tothe girl in the short blue dressthe boy playing all manner of tricks upon himgiving him tremendous digs in the ribs or slaps upon the back that made himcoughpulling chairs from under himrunning on all fours between his legs andupsetting himknocking him over at inopportune moments. Every one of his fallswas accentuated by a bang upon the bass drum. The whole humor of the"act" seemed to consist in the tripping up of the intoxicated lodger.

This horse-play delighted McTeague beyond measure. He roared and shoutedevery time the lodger went downslapping his kneewagging his head. Owgoostecrowed shrillyclapping his hands and continually asking"What did hesayma? What did he say?" Mrs. Sieppe laughed immoderatelyher huge fatbody shaking like a mountain of jelly. She exclaimed from time to time"AchGottdot fool!" Even Trina was movedlaughing demurelyherlips closedputting one hand with its new glove to her mouth.

The performance went on. Now it was the "musical marvels" two menextravagantly made up as negro minstrelswith immense shoes and plaid vests.They seemed to be able to wrestle a tune out of almost anything--glass bottlescigar- box fiddlesstrings of sleigh-bellseven graduated brass tubeswhichthey rubbed with resined fingers. McTeague was stupefied with admiration .

"That's what you call musicians" he announced gravely. "HomeSweet Home" played upon a trombone. Think of that! Art could go nofarther.

The acrobats left him breathless. They were dazzling young men withbeautifully parted haircontinually making graceful gestures to the audience.In one of them the dentist fancied he saw a strong resemblance to the boy whohad tormented the intoxicated lodger and who had turned such marvelloussomersaults. Trina could not bear to watch their antics. She turned away herhead with a little shudder. "It always makes me sick" she explained.

The beautiful young lady"The Society Contralto" in eveningdresswho sang the sentimental songsand carried the sheets of music at whichshe never lookedpleased McTeague less. Trinahoweverwas captivated. Shegrew pensive over

"You do not love me--no; Bid me good-by and go;"

and split her new gloves in her enthusiasm when it was finished.

"Don't you love sad musicMac?" she murmured.

Then came the two comedians. They talked with fearful rapidity; their wit andrepartee seemed inexhaustible.

"As I was going down the street yesterday--"

"Ah! as YOU were going down the street--all right."

"I saw a girl at a window----"

"YOU saw a girl at a window."

"And this girl she was a corker----"

"Ah! as YOU were going down the street yesterday YOU saw a girl at awindowand this girl she was a corker. All rightgo on."

The other comedian went on. The joke was suddenly evolved. A certain phraseled to a songwhich was sung with lightning rapidityeach performer makingprecisely the same gestures at precisely the same instant. They wereirresistible. McTeaguethough he caught but a third of the jokescould havelistened all night.

After the comedians had gone outthe iron advertisement curtain was letdown.

"What comes now?" said McTeaguebewildered.

"It's the intermission of fifteen minutes now."

The musicians disappeared through the rabbit hutchand the audience stirredand stretched itself. Most of the young men left their seats.

During this intermission McTeague and his party had "refreshments."Mrs. Sieppe and Trina had Queen CharlottesMcTeague drank a glass of beerOwgooste ate the orange and one of the bananas. He begged for a glass oflemonadewhich was finally given him.

"Joost to geep um quiet" observed Mrs. Sieppe.

But almost immediately after drinking his lemonade Owgooste was seized with asudden restlessness. He twisted and wriggled in his seatswinging his legsviolentlylooking about him with eyes full of a vague distress. At lengthjustas the musicians were returninghe stood up and whispered energetically in hismother's ear. Mrs. Sieppe was exasperated at once.

"Nono" she criedreseating him brusquely.

The performance was resumed. A lightning artist appeareddrawing caricaturesand portraits with incredible swiftness. He even went so far as to ask forsubjects from the audienceand the names of prominent men were shouted to himfrom the gallery. He drew portraits of the Presidentof Grantof Washingtonof Napoleon Bonaparteof Bismarckof Garibaldiof P. T. Barnum.

And so the evening passed. The hall grew very hotand the smoke ofinnumerable cigars made the eyes smart. A thick blue mist hung low over theheads of the audience. The air was full of varied smells--the smell of stalecigarsof flat beerof orange peelof gasof sachet powdersand of cheapperfumery.

One "artist" after another came upon the stage. McTeague'sattention never wandered for a minute. Trina and her mother enjoyed themselveshugely. At every moment they made comments to one anothertheir eyes neverleaving the stage.

"Ain't dot fool joost too funny?"

"That's a pretty song. Don't you like that kind of a song?"

"Wonderful! It's wonderful! Yesyeswonderful! That's the word."

Owgoostehoweverlost interest. He stood up in his placehis back to thestagechewing a piece of orange peel and watching a little girl in her father'slap across the aislehis eyes fixed in a glassyox-like stare. But he wasuneasy. He danced from one foot to the otherand at intervals appealed inhoarse whispers to his motherwho disdained an answer.

"Masayma-ah" he whinedabstractedly chewing his orange peelstaring at the little girl.

"Ma-ahsayma." At times his monotonous plaint reached hismother's consciousness. She suddenly realized what this was that was annoyingher.

"Owgoostewill you sit down?" She caught him up all at onceandjammed him down into his place. "Be quietden; loog; listun at der yungegirls."

Three young women and a young man who played a zither occupied the stage.They were dressed in Tyrolese costume; they were yodlersand sang in Germanabout "mountain tops" and "bold hunters" and the like. Theyodling chorus was a marvel of flute-like modulations. The girls were reallyprettyand were not made up in the least. Their "turn" had a greatsuccess. Mrs. Sieppe was entranced. Instantly she remembered her girlhood andher native Swiss village.

"Achdot is heavunly; joost like der old country. Mein gran'mutter usedto be one of der mos' famous yodlers. When I was leedleI haf seen dem joostlike dat."

"Ma-ah" began Owgooste fretfullyas soon as the yodlers haddeparted. He could not keep still an instant; he twisted from side to sideswinging his legs with incredible swiftness.

"Ma-ahI want to go ho-ome."

"Pehave!" exclaimed his mothershaking him by the arm; "loogder leedle girl is watchun you. Dis is der last dime I take you to der blayyousee."

"I don't ca-are; I'm sleepy." At lengthto their great reliefhewent to sleephis head against his mother's arm.

The kinetoscope fairly took their breaths away.

"What will they do next?" observed Trinain amazement. "Ain'tthat wonderfulMac?"

McTeague was awe-struck.

"Look at that horse move his head" he cried excitedlyquitecarried away. "Look at that cable car coming--and the man going across thestreet. Seehere comes a truck. WellI never in all my life! What would Marcussay to this?"

"It's all a drick!" exclaimed Mrs. Sieppewith sudden conviction."I ain't no fool; dot's nothun but a drick."

"Wellof coursemamma" exclaimed Trina"it's----"

But Mrs. Sieppe put her head in the air.

"I'm too old to be fooled" she persisted. "It's adrick." Nothing more could be got out of her than this.

The party stayed to the very end of the showthough the kinetoscope was thelast number but one on the programmeand fully half the audience leftimmediately afterward. Howeverwhile the unfortunate Irish comedian wentthrough his "act" to the backs of the departing peopleMrs. Sieppewoke Owgoostevery cross and sleepyand began getting her "thingstogether." As soon as he was awake Owgooste began fidgeting again.

"Save der brogrammeTrina" whispered Mrs. Sieppe. "Take uthome to popper. Where is der hat of Owgooste? Haf you got mein handkerchiefTrina?"

But at this moment a dreadful accident happened to Owgooste; his distressreached its climax; his fortitude collapsed. What a misery! It was a veritablecatastrophedeplorablelamentablea thing beyond words! For a moment he gazedwildly about himhelpless and petrified with astonishment and terror. Then hisgrief found utteranceand the closing strains of the orchestra were mingledwith a prolonged wail of infinite sadness.

"Owgoostewhat is ut?" cried his mother eyeing him with dawningsuspicion; then suddenly"What haf you done? You haf ruin your newVauntleroy gostume!" Her face blazed; without more ado she smacked himsoundly. Then it was that Owgooste touched the limit of his miseryhisunhappinesshis horrible discomfort; his utter wretchedness was complete. Hefilled the air with his doleful outcries. The more he was smacked and shakenthe louder he wept.

"What--what is the matter?" inquired McTeague.

Trina's face was scarlet. "Nothingnothing" she exclaimedhastilylooking away. "Comewe must be going. It's about over." Theend of the show and the breaking up of the audience tided over the embarrassmentof the moment.

The party filed out at the tail end of the audience. Already the lights werebeing extinguished and the ushers spreading druggeting over the upholsteredseats.

McTeague and the Sieppes took an uptown car that would bring them near PolkStreet. The car was crowded; McTeague and Owgooste were obliged to stand. Thelittle boy fretted to be taken in his mother's lapbut Mrs. Sieppe emphaticallyrefused.

On their way home they discussed the performance.

"I--I like best der yodlers."

"Ahthe soloist was the best--the lady who sang those sad songs."

"Wasn't--wasn't that magic lantern wonderfulwhere the figures moved?Wonderful--ahwonderful! And wasn't that first act funnywhere the fellow felldown all the time? And that musical actand the fellow with the burnt-cork facewho played 'NearerMy Godto Thee' on the beer bottles."

They got off at Polk Street and walked up a block to the flat. The street wasdark and empty; opposite the flatin the back of the deserted marketthe ducksand geese were calling persistently.

As they were buying their tamales from the half-breed Mexican at the streetcornerMcTeague observed:

"Marcus ain't gone to bed yet. Seethere's a light in his window.There!" he exclaimed at once"I forgot the doorkey. WellMarcus canlet us in."

Hardly had he rung the bell at the street door of the flat when the bolt wasshot back. In the hall at the top of the longnarrow staircase there was thesound of a great scurrying. Maria Macapa stood thereher hand upon the ropethat drew the bolt; Marcus was at her side; Old Grannis was in the backgroundlooking over their shoulders; while little Miss Baker leant over the banistersa strange man in a drab overcoat at her side. As McTeague's party stepped intothe doorway a half-dozen voices cried:

"Yesit's them."

"Is that youMac?"

"Is that youMiss Sieppe?"

"Is your name Trina Sieppe?"

Thenshriller than all the restMaria Macapa screamed:

"OhMiss Sieppecome up here quick. Your lottery ticket has won fivethousand dollars!"

CHAPTER 7

"What nonsense!" answered Trina.

"Ach Gott! What is ut?" cried Mrs. Sieppemisunderstandingsupposing a calamity.

"What--what--what" stammered the dentistconfused by the lightsthe crowded stairwaythe medley of voices. The party reached the landing. Theothers surrounded them. Marcus alone seemed to rise to the occasion.

"Le' me be the first to congratulate you" he criedcatchingTrina's hand. Every one was talking at once.

"Miss SieppeMiss Sieppeyour ticket has won five thousanddollars" cried Maria. "Don't you remember the lottery ticket I soldyou in Doctor McTeague's office?"

"Trina!" almost screamed her mother. "Five tausend thalers!five tausend thalers! If popper were only here!"

"What is it--what is it?" exclaimed McTeaguerolling his eyes.

"What are you going to do with itTrina?" inquired Marcus.

"You're a rich womanmy dear" said Miss Bakerher little falsecurls quivering with excitement"and I'm glad for your sake. Let me kissyou. To think I was in the room when you bought the ticket!"

"Ohoh!" interrupted Trinashaking her head"there is amistake. There must be. Why--why should I win five thousand dollars? It'snonsense!"

"No mistakeno mistake" screamed Maria. "Your number was400012. Here it is in the paper this evening. I remember it wellbecause Ikeep an account."

"But I know you're wrong" answered Trinabeginning to tremble inspite of herself. "Why should I win?"

"Eh? Why shouldn't you?" cried her mother.

In factwhy shouldn't she? The idea suddenly occurred to Trina. After allit was not a question of effort or merit on her part. Why should she suppose amistake? What if it were truethis wonderful fillip of fortune striking inthere like some chance-driven bolt?

"Ohdo you think so?" she gasped.

The stranger in the drab overcoat came forward.

"It's the agent" cried two or three voicessimultaneously.

"I guess you're one of the lucky onesMiss Sieppe" he said. Isuppose you have kept your ticket."

"Yesyes; four three oughts twelve--I remember."

"That's right" admitted the other. "Present your ticket atthe local branch office as soon as possible--the address is printed on the backof the ticket--and you'll receive a check on our bank for five thousand dollars.Your number will have to be verified on our official listbut there's hardly achance of a mistake. I congratulate you."

All at once a great shrill of gladness surged up in Trina. She was to possessfive thousand dollars. She was carried away with the joy of her good fortuneanaturalspontaneous joy--the gaiety of a child with a new and wonderful toy.

"OhI've wonI've wonI've won!" she criedclapping her hands."Mammathink of it. I've won five thousand dollarsjust by buying aticket. Macwhat do you say to that? I've got five thousand dollars. Augustdoyou hear what's happened to sister?"

"Kiss your mommerTrina" suddenly commanded Mrs. Sieppe."What efer will you do mit all dose moneyehTrina?"

"Huh!" exclaimed Marcus. "Get married on it for one thing.Thereat they all shouted with laughter. McTeague grinnedand looked aboutsheepishly. "Talk about luck" muttered Marcusshaking his head atthe dentist; then suddenly he added:

"Wellare we going to stay talking out here in the hall all night?Can't we all come into your 'Parlors' Mac?"

"Suresure" exclaimed McTeaguehastily unlocking his door.

"Efery botty gome" cried Mrs. Sieppegenially. "Ain't ut soDoktor?"

"Everybody" repeated the dentist. "There's--there's somebeer."

"We'll celebrateby damn!" exclaimed Marcus. "It ain't everyday you win five thousand dollars. It's only Sundays and legal holidays."Again he set the company off into a gale of laughter. Anything was funny at atime like this. In some way every one of them felt elated. The wheel of fortunehad come spinning close to them. They were near to this great sum of money. Itwas as though they too had won.

"Here's right where I sat when I bought that ticket" cried Trinaafter they had come into the "Parlors" and Marcus had lit the gas."Right here in this chair." She sat down in one of the rigid chairsunder the steel engraving. "AndMarcusyou sat here----"

"And I was just getting out of the operating chair" interposedMiss Baker.

"Yesyes. That's so; and you" continued Trinapointing to Maria"came up and said'Buy a ticket in the lottery; just a dollar.' OhIremember it just as plain as though it was yesterdayand I wasn't going to atfirst----"

"And don't you know I told Maria it was against the law?"

"YesI rememberand then I gave her a dollar and put the ticket in mypocketbook. It's in my pocketbook now at home in the top drawer of mybureau--ohsuppose it should be stolen now" she suddenly exclaimed.

"It's worth big money now" asserted Marcus.

"Five thousand dollars. Who would have thought it? It's wonderful."Everybody started and turned. It was McTeague. He stood in the middle of thefloorwagging his huge head. He seemed to have just realized what had happened.

"Yessirfive thousand dollars!" exclaimed Marcuswith a suddenunaccountable mirthlessness. "Five thousand dollars! Do you get on to that?Cousin Trina and you will be rich people."

"At six per centthat's twenty-five dollars a month" hazarded theagent.

"Think of it. Think of it" muttered McTeague. He went aimlesslyabout the roomhis eyes widehis enormous hands dangling.

"A cousin of mine won forty dollars once" observed Miss Baker."But he spent every cent of it buying more ticketsand never wonanything."

Then the reminiscences began. Maria told about the butcher on the next blockwho had won twenty dollars the last drawing. Mrs. Sieppe knew a gasfitter inOakland who had won several times; once a hundred dollars. Little Miss Bakerannounced that she had always believed that lotteries were wrong; butjust thesamefive thousand was five thousand.

"It's all right when you winain't itMiss Baker?" observedMarcuswith a certain sarcasm. What was the matter with Marcus? At moments heseemed singularly out of temper.

But the agent was full of stories. He told his experiencesthe legends andmyths that had grown up around the history of the lottery; he told of the poornewsboy with a dying mother to support who had drawn a prize of fifteenthousand; of the man who was driven to suicide through wantbut who held (hadhe but known it) the number that two days after his death drew the capital prizeof thirty thousand dollars; of the little milliner who for ten years had playedthe lottery without successand who had one day declared that she would buy butone more ticket and then give up tryingand of how this last ticket had broughther a fortune upon which she could retire; of tickets that had been lost ordestroyedand whose numbers had won fabulous sums at the drawing; of criminalsdriven to vice by povertyand who had reformed after winning competencies; ofgamblers who played the lottery as they would play a faro bankturning in theirwinnings again as soon as madebuying thousands of tickets all over thecountry; of superstitions as to terminal and initial numbersand as to luckydays of purchase; of marvellous coincidences--three capital prizes drawnconsecutively by the same town; a ticket bought by a millionaire and given tohis boot-blackwho won a thousand dollars upon it; the same number winning thesame amount an indefinite number of times; and so on to infinity. Invariably itwas the needy who wonthe destitute and starving woke to wealth and plentythevirtuous toiler suddenly found his reward in a ticket bought at a hazard; thelottery was a great charitythe friend of the peoplea vast beneficent machinethat recognized neither rank nor wealth nor station.

The company began to be very gay. Chairs and tables were brought in from theadjoining roomsand Maria was sent out for more beer and tamalesand alsocommissioned to buy a bottle of wine and some cake for Miss Bakerwho abhorredbeer.

The "Dental Parlors" were in great confusion. Empty beer bottlesstood on the movable rack where the instruments were kept; plates and napkinswere upon the seat of the operating chair and upon the stand of shelves in thecornerside by side with the concertina and the volumes of "Allen'sPractical Dentist." The canary woke and chittered crosslyhis featherspuffed out; the husks of tamales littered the floor; the stone pug dog sittingbefore the little stove stared at the unusual scenehis glass eyes startingfrom their sockets.

They drank and feasted in impromptu fashion. Marcus Schouler assumed theoffice of master of ceremonies; he was in a lather of excitementrushing abouthere and thereopening beer bottlesserving the tamalesslapping McTeagueupon the backlaughing and joking continually. He made McTeague sit at the headof the tablewith Trina at his right and the agent at his left; he--when he satdown at all--occupied the footMaria Macapa at his leftwhile next to her wasMrs. Sieppeopposite Miss Baker. Owgooste had been put to bed upon thebed-lounge.

"Where's Old Grannis?" suddenly exclaimed Marcus. Sure enoughwhere had the old Englishman gone? He had been there at first.

"I called him down with everybody else" cried Maria Macapa"as soon as I saw in the paper that Miss Sieppe had won. We all came downto Mr. Schouler's room and waited for you to come home. I think he must havegone back to his room. I'll bet you'll find him sewing up his books."

"Nono" observed Miss Baker"not at this hour."

Evidently the timid old gentleman had taken advantage of the confusion toslip unobtrusively away.

"I'll go bring him down" shouted Marcus; "he's got to joinus."

Miss Baker was in great agitation.

"I--I hardly think you'd better" she murmured; "he--he--Idon't think he drinks beer."

"He takes his amusement in sewin' up books" cried Maria.

Marcus brought him downneverthelesshaving found him just preparing forbed.

"I--I must apologize" stammered Old Grannisas he stood in thedoorway. "I had not quite expected--I--find-- find myself a littleunprepared." He was without collar and cravatowing to Marcus Schouler'sprecipitate haste. He was annoyed beyond words that Miss Baker saw him thus.Could anything be more embarrassing?

Old Grannis was introduced to Mrs. Sieppe and to Trina as Marcus's employer.They shook hands solemnly.

"I don't believe that he an' Miss Baker have ever been introduced"cried Maria Macapashrilly"an' they've been livin' side by side foryears."

The two old people were speechlessavoiding each other's gaze. It had comeat last; they were to know each otherto talk togetherto touch each other'shands.

Marcus brought Old Grannis around the table to little Miss Bakerdragginghim by the coat sleeveexclaiming: "WellI thought you two people kneweach other long ago. Miss Bakerthis is Mr. Grannis; Mr. Grannisthis is MissBaker." Neither spoke. Like two little children they faced each otherawkwardconstrainedtongue-tied with embarrassment. Then Miss Baker put outher hand shyly. Old Grannis touched it for an instant and let it fall.

"Now you know each other" cried Marcus"and it's abouttime." For the first time their eyes met; Old Grannis trembled a littleputting his hand uncertainly to his chin. Miss Baker flushed ever so slightlybut Maria Macapa passed suddenly between themcarrying a half empty beerbottle. The two old people fell back from one anotherMiss Baker resuming herseat.

"Here's a place for you over hereMr. Grannis" cried Marcusmaking room for him at his side. Old Grannis slipped into the chairwithdrawingat once from the company's notice. He stared fixedly at his plate and did notspeak again. Old Miss Baker began to talk volubly across the table to Mrs.Sieppe about hot-house flowers and medicated flannels.

It was in the midst of this little impromptu supper that the engagement ofTrina and the dentist was announced. In a pause in the chatter of conversationMrs. Sieppe leaned forward andspeaking to the agentsaid:

"Vellyou know also my daughter Trina get married bretty soon. She andder dentistDoktor McTeagueehyes?"

There was a general exclamation.

"I thought so all along" cried Miss Bakerexcitedly. "Thefirst time I saw them together I said'What a pair!'"

"Delightful!" exclaimed the agent"to be married and win asnug little fortune at the same time."

"So--So" murmured Old Grannisnodding at his plate.

"Good luck to you" cried Maria.

"He's lucky enough already" growled Marcus under his breathrelapsing for a moment into one of those strange moods of sullenness which hadmarked him throughout the evening.

Trina flushed crimsondrawing shyly nearer her mother. McTeague grinned fromear to earlooking around from one to anotherexclaiming "Huh! Huh!"

But the agent rose to his feeta newly filled beer glass in his hand. He wasa man of the worldthis agent. He knew life. He was suave and easy. A diamondwas on his little finger.

"Ladies and gentlemen" he began. There was an instant silence."This is indeed a happy occasion. I--I am glad to be here to-night; to be awitness to such good fortune; to partake in these--in this celebration. WhyIfeel almost as glad as if I had held four three oughts twelve myself; as if thefive thousand were mine instead of belonging to our charming hostess. The goodwishes of my humble self go out to Miss Sieppe in this moment of her goodfortuneand I think--in factI am sure I can speak for the great institutionthe great company I represent. The company congratulates Miss Sieppe.We--they--ah--They wish her every happiness her new fortune can procure her. Ithas been my dutymy--ah--cheerful duty to call upon the winners of large prizesand to offer the felicitation of the company. I havein my experiencecalledupon many such; but never have I seen fortune so happily bestowed as in thiscase. The company have dowered the prospective bride. I am sure I but echo thesentiments of this assembly when I wish all joy and happiness to this happypairhappy in the possession of a snug little fortuneand happy--happyin--" he finished with a sudden inspiration--"in the possession ofeach other; I drink to the healthwealthand happiness of the future bride andgroom. Let us drink standing up." They drank with enthusiasm. Marcus wascarried away with the excitement of the moment.

"Outa sightouta sight" he vociferatedclapping his hands."Very well said. To the health of the bride. McTeagueMcTeaguespeechspeech!"

In an instant the whole table was clamoring for the dentist to speak.McTeague was terrified; he gripped the table with both handslooking wildlyabout him.

"Speechspeech!" shouted Marcusrunning around the table andendeavoring to drag McTeague up.

"No--no--no" muttered the other. "No speech." Thecompany rattled upon the table with their beer glassesinsisting upon a speech.McTeague settled obstinately into his chairvery red in the faceshaking hishead energetically.

"Ahgo on!" he exclaimed; "no speech."

"Ahget up and say somethunanyhow" persisted Marcus; "youought to do it. It's the proper caper."

McTeague heaved himself up; there was a burst of applause; he looked slowlyabout himthen suddenly sat down againshaking his head hopelessly.

"Ohgo onMac" cried Trina.

"Get upsay somethunanyhowcried Marcustugging at his arm;"you GOT to."

Once more McTeague rose to his feet.

"Huh!" he exclaimedlooking steadily at the table. Then he began:

"I don' know what to say--I--I--I ain't never made a speech before; I--Iain't never made a speech before. But I'm glad Trina's won the prize--"

"YesI'll bet you are" muttered Marcus.

"I--I--I'm glad Trina's wonand I--I want to--I want to--I wantto--want to say that--you're--all--welcomean' drink heartyan' I'm muchobliged to the agent. Trina and I are goin' to be marriedan' I'm gladeverybody's here to- nightan' you're--all--welcomean' drink heartyan' Ihope you'll come againan' you're always welcome--an'--I--an'--an'--That's--about--all--I--gotta say." He sat downwiping hisforeheadamidst tremendous applause.

Soon after that the company pushed back from the table and relaxed intocouples and groups. The menwith the exception of Old Grannisbegan to smokethe smell of their tobacco mingling with the odors of ethercreosoteand stalebeddingwhich pervaded the "Parlors." Soon the windows had to belowered from the top. Mrs. Sieppe and old Miss Baker sat together in the baywindow exchanging confidences. Miss Baker had turned back the overskirt of herdress; a plate of cake was in her lap; from time to time she sipped her winewith the delicacy of a white cat. The two women were much interested in eachother. Miss Baker told Mrs. Sieppe all about Old Grannisnot forgetting thefiction of the title and the unjust stepfather.

"He's quite a personage really" said Miss Baker.

Mrs. Sieppe led the conversation around to her children. "AchTrina issudge a goote girl" she said; "always gayyesund sing from morgento night. Und Owgoostehe is soh smart alsoyeseh? He has der genius formachinesalways making somethun mit wheels und sbrings."

"Ahif--if--I had children" murmured the little old maid a triflewistfully"one would have been a sailor; he would have begun as amidshipman on my brother's ship; in time he would have been an officer. Theother would have been a landscape gardener."

"OhMac!" exclaimed Trinalooking up into the dentist's face"think of all this money coming to us just at this very moment. Isn't itwonderful? Don't it kind of scare you?"

"Wonderfulwonderful!" muttered McTeagueshaking his head."Let's buy a lot of tickets" he addedstruck with an idea.

"Nowthat's how you can always tell a good cigar" observed theagent to Marcus as the two sat smoking at the end of the table. "The lightend should be rolled to a point."

"Ahthe Chinese cigar-makers" cried Marcusin a passionbrandishing his fist. "It's them as is ruining the cause of white labor.They arethey are for a FACT. Ahthe rat-eaters! Ahthe white-liveredcurs!"

Over in the cornerby the stand of shelvesOld Grannis was listening toMaria Macapa. The Mexican woman had been violently stirred over Trina's suddenwealth; Maria's mind had gone back to her younger days. She leaned forwardherelbows on her kneesher chin in her handsher eyes wide and fixed. Old Grannislistened to her attentively.

"There wa'n't a piece that was so much as scratched" Maria wassaying. "Every piece was just like a mirrorsmooth and bright; ohbrightas a little sun. Such a service as that was--platters and soup tureens and animmense big punch- bowl. Five thousand dollarswhat does that amount to? Whythat punch-bowl alone was worth a fortune."

"What a wonderful story!" exclaimed Old Grannisnever for aninstant doubting its truth. "And it's all lost nowyou say?"

"Lostlost" repeated Maria.

"Tuttut! What a pity! What a pity!"

Suddenly the agent rose and broke out with:

"WellI must be goingif I'm to get any car."

He shook hands with everybodyoffered a parting cigar to Marcuscongratulated McTeague and Trina a last timeand bowed himself out.

"What an elegant gentleman" commented Miss Baker.

"Ah" said Marcusnodding his head"there's a man of theworld for you. Right on to himselfby damn!"

The company broke up.

"Come alongMac" cried Marcus; "we're to sleep with the dogsto-nightyou know."

The two friends said "Good-night" all around and departed for thelittle dog hospital.

Old Grannis hurried to his room furtivelyterrified lest he should again bebrought face to face with Miss Baker. He bolted himself in and listened until heheard her foot in the hall and the soft closing of her door. She was there closebeside him; as one might sayin the same room; for hetoohad made thediscovery as to the similarity of the wallpaper. At long intervals he could heara faint rustling as she moved about. What an evening that had been for him! Hehad met herhad spoken to herhad touched her hand; he was in a tremor ofexcitement. In a like manner the little old dressmaker listened and quivered. HEwas there in that same room which they shared in commonseparated only by thethinnest board partition. He was thinking of hershe was almost sure of it.They were strangers no longer; they were acquaintancesfriends. What an eventthat evening had been in their lives!

Late as it wasMiss Baker brewed a cup of tea and sat down in her rockingchair close to the partition; she rocked gentlysipping her teacalmingherself after the emotions of that wonderful evening.

Old Grannis heard the clinking of the tea things and smelt the faint odor ofthe tea. It seemed to him a signalan invitation. He drew his chair close tohis side of the partitionbefore his work-table. A pile of half-bound"Nations" was in the little binding apparatus; he threaded his hugeupholsterer's needle with stout twine and set to work.

It was their tete-a-tete. Instinctively they felt each other's presencefelteach other's thought coming to them through the thin partition. It was charming;they were perfectly happy. There in the stillness that settled over the flat inthe half hour after midnight the two old people "kept company"enjoying after their fashion their little romance that had come so late into thelives of each.

On the way to her room in the garret Maria Macapa paused under the singlegas-jet that burned at the top of the well of the staircase; she assured herselfthat she was aloneand then drew from her pocket one of McTeague's"tapes" of non-cohesive gold. It was the most valuable steal she hadever yet made in the dentist's "Parlors." She told herself that it wasworth at least a couple of dollars. Suddenly an idea occurred to herand shewent hastily to a window at the end of the hallandshading her face with bothhandslooked down into the little alley just back of the flat. On some nightsZerkowthe red-headed Polish Jewsat up latetaking account of the week'sragpicking. There was a dim light in his window now.

Maria went to her roomthrew a shawl around her headand descended into thelittle back yard of the flat by the back stairs. As she let herself out of theback gate into the alleyAlexanderMarcus's Irish setterwoke suddenly with agruff bark. The collie who lived on the other side of the fencein the backyard of the branch post-officeanswered with a snarl. Then in an instant theendless feud between the two dogs was resumed. They dragged their respectivekennels to the fenceand through the cracks raged at each other in a frenzy ofhate; their teeth snapped and gleamed; the hackles on their backs rose andstiffened. Their hideous clamor could have been heard for blocks around. What amassacre should the two ever meet!

MeanwhileMaria was knocking at Zerkow's miserable hovel.

"Who is it? Who is it?" cried the rag-picker from withinin hishoarse voicethat was half whisperstarting nervouslyand sweeping a handfulof silver into his drawer.

"It's meMaria Macapa;" then in a lower voiceand as if speakingto herself"had a flying squirrel an' let him go."

"AhMaria" cried Zerkowobsequiously opening the door."Come income inmy girl; you're always welcomeeven as late as this. Nojunkhey? But you're welcome for all that. You'll have a drinkwon'tyou?" He led her into his back room and got down the whiskey bottle and thebroken red tumbler.

After the two had drunk together Maria produced the gold "tape."Zerkow's eyes glittered on the instant. The sight of gold invariably sent aqualm all through him; try as he wouldhe could not repress it. His fingerstrembled and clawed at his mouth; his breath grew short.

"Ahahah!" he exclaimed"give it heregive it here; giveit to meMaria. That's a good girlcome give it to me."

They haggled as usual over the pricebut to-night Maria was too excited overother matters to spend much time in bickering over a few cents.

"Look hereZerkow" she said as soon as the transfer was made"I got something to tell you. A little while ago I sold a lottery ticket toa girl at the flat; the drawing was in this evening's papers. How much do yousuppose that girl has won?"

"I don't know. How much? How much?"

"Five thousand dollars."

It was as though a knife had been run through the Jew; a spasm of an almostphysical pain twisted his face--his entire body. He raised his clenched fistsinto the airhis eyes shuthis teeth gnawing his lip.

"Five thousand dollars" he whispered; "five thousand dollars.For what? For nothingfor simply buying a ticket; and I have worked so hard foritso hardso hard. Five thousand dollarsfive thousand dollars. Ohwhycouldn't it have come to me?" he criedhis voice chokingthe tearsstarting to his eyes; "why couldn't it have come to me? To come so closeso closeand yet to miss me--me who have worked for itfought for itstarvedfor itam dying for it every day. Think of itMariafive thousand dollarsall brightheavy pieces----"

"Bright as a sunset" interrupted Mariaher chin propped on herhands. "Such a gloryand heavy. Yesevery piece was heavyand it was allyou could do to lift the punch-bowl. Whythat punch-bowl was worth a fortunealone----"

"And it rang when you hit it with your knucklesdidn't it?"prompted Zerkoweagerlyhis lips tremblinghis fingers hooking themselvesinto claws.

"Sweeter'n any church bell" continued Maria.

"Go ongo ongo on" cried Zerkowdrawing his chair closerandshutting his eyes in ecstasy.

"There were more than a hundred piecesand every one of themgold----"

"Ahevery one of them gold."

"You should have seen the sight when the leather trunk was opened. Therewa'n't a piece that was so much as scratched; every one was like a mirrorsmooth and brightpolished so that it looked black--you know how I mean."

"OhI knowI know" cried Zerkowmoistening his lips.

Then he plied her with questions--questions that covered every detail of thatservice of plate. It was softwasn't it? You could bite into a plate and leavea dent? The handles of the knivesnowwere they goldtoo? All the knife wasmade from one piece of goldwas it? And the forks the same? The interior of thetrunk was quiltedof course? Did Maria ever polish the plates herself? When thecompany ate off this serviceit must have made a fine noise--these gold knivesand forks clinking together upon these gold plates.

"Nowlet's have it all over againMaria" pleaded Zerkow."Begin now with 'There were more than a hundred piecesand every one ofthem gold.' Go onbeginbeginbegin!"

The red-headed Pole was in a fever of excitement. Maria's recital had becomea veritable mania with him. As he listenedwith closed eyes and trembling lipshe fancied he could see that wonderful plate before himthere on the tableunder his eyesunder his handponderousmassivegleaming. He tormented Mariainto a second repetition of the story--into a third. The more his mind dweltupon itthe sharper grew his desire. Thenwith Maria's refusal to continue thetalecame the reaction. Zerkow awoke as from some ravishing dream. The platewas gonewas irretrievably lost. There was nothing in that miserable room butgrimy rags and rust-corroded iron. What torment! what agony! to be so near--sonearto see it in one's distorted fancy as plain as in a mirror. To know everyindividual piece as an old friend; to feel its weight; to be dazzled by itsglitter; to call it one's ownown; to have it to oneselfhugged to the breast;and then to startto waketo come down to the horrible reality.

"And youYOU had it once" gasped Zerkowclawing at her arm;"you had it onceall your own. Think of itand now it's gone."

"Gone for good and all."

"Perhaps it's buried near your old place somewhere."

"It's gone--gone--gone" chanted Maria in a monotone.

Zerkow dug his nails into his scalptearing at his red hair.

"Yesyesit's goneit's gone--lost forever! Lost forever!"

Marcus and the dentist walked up the silent street and reached the little doghospital. They had hardly spoken on the way. McTeague's brain was in a whirl;speech failed him. He was busy thinking of the great thing that had happenedthat nightand was trying to realize what its effect would be upon hislife--his life and Trina's. As soon as they had found themselves in the streetMarcus had relapsed at once to a sullen silencewhich McTeague was tooabstracted to notice.

They entered the tiny office of the hospital with its red carpetits gasstoveand its colored prints of famous dogs hanging against the walls. In onecorner stood the iron bed which they were to occupy.

"You go on an' get to bedMac" observed Marcus. "I'll take alook at the dogs before I turn in."

He went outside and passed along into the yardthat was bounded on threesides by pens where the dogs were kept. A bull terrier dying of gastritisrecognized him and began to whimper feebly.

Marcus paid no attention to the dogs. For the first time that evening he wasalone and could give vent to his thoughts. He took a couple of turns up and downthe yardthen suddenly in a low voice exclaimed:

"You foolyou foolMarcus Schouler! If you'd kept Trina you'd have hadthat money. You might have had it yourself. You've thrown away your chance inlife--to give up the girlyes--but this" he stamped his foot withrage--"to throw five thousand dollars out of the window--to stuff it intothe pockets of someone elsewhen it might have been yourswhen you might havehad Trina AND the money--and all for what? Because we were pals . Oh'pals' isall right--but five thousand dollars--to have played it right into hishands--God DAMN the luck!"

CHAPTER 8

The next two months were delightful. Trina and McTeague saw each otherregularlythree times a week. The dentist went over to B Street Sunday andWednesday afternoons as usual; but on Fridays it was Trina who came to the city.She spent the morning between nine and twelve o'clock down townfor the mostpart in the cheap department storesdoing the weekly shopping for herself andthe family. At noon she took an uptown car and met McTeague at the corner ofPolk Street. The two lunched together at a small uptown hotel just around thecorner on Sutter Street. They were given a little room to themselves. Nothingcould have been more delicious. They had but to close the sliding door to shutthemselves off from the whole world.

Trina would arrive breathless from her raids upon the bargain countersherpale cheeks flushedher hair blown about her face and into the corners of herlipsher mother's net reticule stuffed to bursting. Once in their tiny privateroomshe would drop into her chair with a little groan.

"OhMACI am so tired; I've just been all OVER town. Ohit's good tosit down. Just thinkI had to stand up in the car all the wayafter being onmy feet the whole blessed morning. Look here what I've bought. Just things andthings. Lookthere's some dotted veiling I got for myself; see nowdo youthink it looks pretty?"--she spread it over her face--"and I got a boxof writing paperand a roll of crepe paper to make a lamp shade for the frontparlor; and--what do you suppose--I saw a pair of Nottingham lace curtains forFORTY-NINE CENTS; isn't that cheap? and some chenille portieres for two and ahalf. Now what have YOU been doing since I last saw you? Did Mr. Heise finallyget up enough courage to have his tooth pulled yet?" Trina took off her hatand veil and rearranged her hair before the looking-glass.

"Nono--not yet. I went down to the sign painter's yesterday afternoonto see about that big gold tooth for a sign. It costs too much; I can't get ityet a while. There's two kindsone German gilt and the other French gilt; butthe German gilt is no good."

McTeague sighedand wagged his head. Even Trina and the five thousanddollars could not make him forget this one unsatisfied longing.

At other times they would talk at length over their planswhile Trina sippedher chocolate and McTeague devoured huge chunks of butterless bread. They wereto be married at the end of Mayand the dentist already had his eye on a coupleof roomspart of the suite of a bankrupt photographer. They were situated inthe flatjust back of his "Parlors" and he believed the photographerwould sublet them furnished.

McTeague and Trina had no apprehensions as to their finances. They could besurein factof a tidy little income. The dentist's practice was fairly goodand they could count upon the interest of Trina's five thousand dollars. ToMcTeague's mind this interest seemed woefully small. He had had uncertain ideasabout that five thousand dollars; had imagined that they would spend it in somelavish fashion; would buy a houseperhapsor would furnish their new roomswith overwhelming luxury--luxury that implied red velvet carpets and continuedfeasting. The old- time miner's idea of wealth easily gained and quickly spentpersisted in his mind. But when Trina had begun to talk of investments andinterests and per centshe was troubled and not a little disappointed. The lumpsum of five thousand dollars was one thinga miserable little twenty ortwenty-five a month was quite another; and then someone else had the money.

"But don't you seeMac" explained Trina"it's ours just thesame. We could get it back whenever we wanted it; and then it's the reasonableway to do. We mustn't let it turn our headsMacdearlike that man that spentall he won in buying more tickets. How foolish we'd feel after we'd spent itall! We ought to go on just the same as before; as if we hadn't won. We must besensible about itmustn't we?"

"WellwellI guess perhaps that's right" the dentist wouldanswerlooking slowly about on the floor.

Just what should ultimately be done with the money was the subject of endlessdiscussion in the Sieppe family. The savings bank would allow only three percent.but Trina's parents believed that something better could be got.

"There's Uncle Oelbermann" Trina had suggestedremembering therich relative who had the wholesale toy store in the Mission.

Mr. Sieppe struck his hand to his forehead. "Ahan idea" hecried. In the end an agreement was made. The money was invested in Mr.Oelbermann's business. He gave Trina six per cent.

Invested in this fashionTrina's winning would bring in twenty-five dollarsa month. Butbesides thisTrina had her own little trade. She made Noah's arkanimals for Uncle Oelbermann's store. Trina's ancestors on both sides wereGerman-Swissand some long-forgotten forefather of the sixteenth centurysomeworsted-leggined wood-carver of the Tyrolhad handed down the talent of thenational industryto reappear in this strangely distorted guise.

She made Noah's ark animalswhittling them out of a block of soft wood witha sharp jack-knifethe only instrument she used. Trina was very proud toexplain her work to McTeague as he had already explained his own to her.

"You seeI take a block of straight-grained pine and cut out the shaperoughly at firstwith the big blade; then I go over it a second time with thelittle blademore carefully; then I put in the ears and tail with a drop ofglueand paint it with a 'non-poisonous' paint--Vandyke brown for the horsesfoxesand cows; slate gray for the elephants and camels; burnt umber for thechickenszebrasand so on; thenlasta dot of Chinese white for the eyesand there you areall finished. They sell for nine cents a dozen. Only I can'tmake the manikins."

"The manikins?"

"The little figuresyou know--Noah and his wifeand Shemand all theothers."

It was true. Trina could not whittle them fast enough and cheap enough tocompete with the turning lathethat could throw off whole tribes and peoples ofmanikins while she was fashioning one family. Everything elsehowevershemade-- the ark itselfall windows and no door; the box in which the whole waspacked; even down to pasting on the labelwhich read"Made inFrance." She earned from three to four dollars a week.

The income from these three sourcesMcTeague's professionthe interest ofthe five thousand dollarsand Trina's whittlingmade a respectable little sumtaken altogether. Trina declared they could even lay by somethingadding to thefive thousand dollars little by little.

It soon became apparent that Trina would be an extraordinarily goodhousekeeper. Economy was her strong point. A good deal of peasant blood stillran undiluted in her veinsand she had all the instinct of a hardy andpenurious mountain race--the instinct which saves without any thoughtwithoutidea of consequence--saving for the sake of savinghoarding without knowingwhy. Even McTeague did not know how closely Trina held to her new-found wealth.

But they did not always pass their luncheon hour in this discussion ofincomes and economies. As the dentist came to know his little woman better shegrew to be more and more of a puzzle and a joy to him. She would suddenlyinterrupt a grave discourse upon the rents of rooms and the cost of light andfuel with a brusque outburst of affection that set him all a-tremble withdelight. All at once she would set down her chocolateandleaning across thenarrow tablewould exclaim:

"Never mind all that! OhMacdo you trulyreally love me--love meBIG?"

McTeague would stammer somethinggaspingand wagging his headbesidehimself for the lack of words.

"Old bear" Trina would answergrasping him by both huge ears andswaying his head from side to side. "Kiss methen. Tell meMacdid youthink any less of me that first time I let you kiss me there in the station? OhMacdearwhat a funny nose you've gotall full of hairs inside; andMacdoyou know you've got a bald spot--" she dragged his head down towardsher--"right on the top of your head." Then she would seriously kissthe bald spot in questiondeclaring:

"That'll make the hair grow."

Trina took an infinite enjoyment in playing with McTeague's great square-cutheadrumpling his hair till it stood on endputting her fingers in his eyesor stretching his ears out straightand watching the effect with her head onone side. It was like a little child playing with some giganticgood-naturedSaint Bernard.

One particular amusement they never wearied of. The two would lean across thetable towards each otherMcTeague folding his arms under his breast. ThenTrinaresting on her elbowswould part his mustache-the great blond mustacheof a viking--with her two handspushing it up from his lipscausing his faceto assume the appearance of a Greek mask. She would curl it around eitherforefingerdrawing it to a fine end. Then all at once McTeague would make afearful snorting noise through his nose. Invariably--though she was expectingthisthough it was part of the game-- Trina would jump with a stifled shriek.McTeague would bellow with laughter till his eyes watered. Then they wouldrecommence upon the instantTrina protesting with a nervous tremulousness:

"Now--now--nowMacDON'T; you SCARE me so."

But these delicious tete-a-tetes with Trina were offset by a certain coolnessthat Marcus Schouler began to affect towards the dentist. At first McTeague wasunaware of it; but by this time even his slow wits began to perceive that hisbest friend--his "pal"--was not the same to him as formerly. Theycontinued to meet at lunch nearly every day but Friday at the car conductors'coffee-joint. But Marcus was sulky; there could be no doubt about that. Heavoided talking to McTeagueread the paper continuallyanswering the dentist'stimid efforts at conversation in gruff monosyllables. Sometimesevenhe turnedsideways to the table and talked at great length to Heise the harness-makerwhose table was next to theirs. They took no more long walks together whenMarcus went out to exercise the dogs. Nor did Marcus ever again recur to hisgenerosity in renouncing Trina.

One Tuesdayas McTeague took his place at the table in the coffee-jointhefound Marcus already there.

"HelloMark" said the dentist"you here already?"

"Hello" returned the otherindifferentlyhelping himself totomato catsup. There was a silence. After a long while Marcus suddenly lookedup.

"SayMac" he exclaimed"when you going to pay me that moneyyou owe me?"

McTeague was astonished.

"Huh? What? I don't--do I owe you any moneyMark?"

"Wellyou owe me four bits" returned Marcusdoggedly. "Ipaid for you and Trina that day at the picnicand you never gave it back."

"Oh--oh!" answered McTeaguein distress. "That's sothat'sso. I--you ought to have told me before. Here's your moneyand I'm obliged toyou."

"It ain't much" observed Marcussullenly. "But I need all Ican get now-a-days."

"Are you--are you broke?" inquired McTeague.

"And I ain't saying anything about your sleeping at the hospital thatnighteither" muttered Marcusas he pocketed the coin.

"Well--well--do you mean--should I have paid for that?"

"Wellyou'd 'a' had to sleep SOMEWHERESwouldn't you?" flashedout Marcus. "You 'a' had to pay half a dollar for a bed at the flat."

"All rightall right" cried the dentisthastilyfeeling in hispockets. "I don't want you should be out anything on my accountold man.Herewill four bits do?"

"I don't WANT your damn money" shouted Marcus in a sudden ragethrowing back the coin. "I ain't no beggar."

McTeague was miserable. How had he offended his pal?

"WellI want you should take itMark" he saidpushing ittowards him.

"I tell you I won't touch your money" exclaimed the other throughhis clenched teethwhite with passion. "I've been played for a sucker longenough."

"What's the matter with you latelyMark?" remonstrated McTeague."You've got a grouch about something. Is there anything I've done?"

"Wellthat's all rightthat's all right" returned Marcus as herose from the table. "That's all right. I've been played for a sucker longenoughthat's all. I've been played for a sucker long enough." He wentaway with a parting malevolent glance.

At the corner of Polk Streetbetween the flat and the car conductors'coffee-jointwas Frenna's. It was a corner grocery; advertisements for cheapbutter and eggspainted in green marking-ink upon wrapping paperstood abouton the sidewalk outside. The doorway was decorated with a huge Milwaukee beersign. Back of the store proper was a bar where white sand covered the floor. Afew tables and chairs were scattered here and there. The walls were hung withgorgeously-colored tobacco advertisements and colored lithographs of trottinghorses. On the wall behind the bar was a model of a full-rigged ship enclosed ina bottle.

It was at this place that the dentist used to leave his pitcher to be filledon Sunday afternoons. Since his engagement to Trina he had discontinued thishabit. Howeverhe still dropped into Frenna's one or two nights in the week. Hespent a pleasant hour theresmoking his huge porcelain pipe and drinking hisbeer. He never joined any of the groups of piquet players around the tables. Infacthe hardly spoke to anyone but the bartender and Marcus.

For Frenna's was one of Marcus Schouler's haunts; a great deal of his timewas spent there. He involved himself in fearful political and social discussionswith Heise the harness-makerand with one or two old Germanhabitues of theplace. These discussions Marcus carried onas was his customat the top of hisvoicegesticulating fiercelybanging the table with his fistsbrandishing theplates and glassesexciting himself with his own clamor.

On a certain Saturday eveninga few days after the scene at thecoffee-jointthe dentist bethought him to spend a quiet evening at Frenna's. Hehad not been there for some timeandbesides thatit occurred to him that theday was his birthday. He would permit himself an extra pipe and a few glasses ofbeer. When McTeague entered Frenna's back room by the street doorhe foundMarcus and Heise already installed at one of the tables. Two or three of the oldGermans sat opposite themgulping their beer from time to time. Heise wassmoking a cigarbut Marcus had before him his fourth whiskey cocktail. At themoment of McTeague's entrance Marcus had the floor.

"It can't be proven" he was yelling. "I defy any sanepolitician whose eyes are not blinded by party prejudiceswhose opinions arenot warped by a personal biasto substantiate such a statement. Look at yourfactslook at your figures. I am a free American citizenain't I? I pay mytaxes to support a good governmentdon't I? It's a contract between me and thegovernmentain't it? Wellthenby damn! if the authorities do not or will notafford me protection for lifelibertyand the pursuit of happinessthen myobligations are at an end; I withhold my taxes. I do--I do--I say I do.What?" He glared about himseeking opposition.

"That's nonsense" observed Heisequietly. "Try it once;you'll get jugged." But this observation of the harness-maker's rousedMarcus to the last pitch of frenzy.

"Yesahyes!" he shoutedrising to his feetshaking his fingerin the other's face. "YesI'd go to jail; but because I--I am crushed by atyrannydoes that make the tyranny right? Does might make right?"

"You must make less noise in hereMister Schouler" said Frennafrom behind the bar.

"Wellit makes me mad" answered Marcussubsiding into a growland resuming his chair. "HulloMac."

"HulloMark."

But McTeague's presence made Marcus uneasyrousing in him at once a sense ofwrong. He twisted to and fro in his chairshrugging first one shoulder and thenanother. Quarrelsome at all timesthe heat of the previous discussion hadawakened within him all his natural combativeness. Besides thishe was drinkinghis fourth cocktail.

McTeague began filling his big porcelain pipe. He lit itblew a great cloudof smoke into the roomand settled himself comfortably in his chair. The smokeof his cheap tobacco drifted into the faces of the group at the adjoining tableand Marcus strangled and coughed. Instantly his eyes flamed.

"Sayfor God's sake" he vociferated"choke off on thatpipe! If you've got to smoke rope like thatsmoke it in a crowd of muckers;don't come here amongst gentlemen."

"Shut upSchouler!" observed Heise in a low voice.

McTeague was stunned by the suddenness of the attack. He took his pipe fromhis mouthand stared blankly at Marcus; his lips movedbut he said no word.Marcus turned his back on himand the dentist resumed his pipe.

But Marcus was far from being appeased. McTeague could not hear the talk thatfollowed between him and the harness- makerbut it seemed to him that Marcuswas telling Heise of some injurysome grievanceand that the latter was tryingto pacify him. All at once their talk grew louder. Heise laid a retaining handupon his companion's coat sleevebut Marcus swung himself around in his chairandfixing his eyes on McTeaguecried as if in answer to some protestation onthe part of Heise:

"All I know is that I've been soldiered out of five thousanddollars."

McTeague gaped at himbewildered. He removed his pipe from his mouth asecond timeand stared at Marcus with eyes full of trouble and perplexity.

"If I had my rights" cried Marcusbitterly"I'd have partof that money. It's my due--it's only justice." The dentist still keptsilence.

"If it hadn't been for me" Marcus continuedaddressing himselfdirectly to McTeague"you wouldn't have had a cent of it--nonot a cent.Where's my shareI'd like to know? Where do I come in? NoI ain't in it anymore. I've been played for a suckeran' now that you've got all you can out ofmenow that you've done me out of my girl and out of my moneyyou give me thego-by. Whywhere would you have been TO-DAY if it hadn't been for me?"Marcus shouted in a sudden exasperation"You'd a been plugging teeth attwo bits an hour. Ain't you got any gratitude? Ain't you got any sense ofdecency?"

"Ahhold upSchouler" grumbled Heise. "You don't want toget into a row."

"NoI don'tHeise" returned Marcuswith a plaintiveaggrievedair. "But it's too much sometimes when you think of it. He stole away mygirl's affectionsand now that he's rich and prosperousand has got fivethousand dollars that I might have hadhe gives me the go-by; he's played mefor a sucker. Look here" he criedturning again to McTeague"do Iget any of that money?"

"It ain't mine to give" answered McTeague. "You're drunkthat's what you are."

"Do I get any of that money?" cried Marcuspersistently.

The dentist shook his head. "Noyou don't get any of it."

"Now--NOW" clamored the otherturning to the harness- makerasthough this explained everything. "Look at thatlook at that. WellI'vedone with you from now on." Marcus had risen to his feet by this time andmade as if to leavebut at every instant he came backshouting his phrasesinto McTeague's facemoving off again as he spoke the last wordsin order togive them better effect.

"This settles it right here. I've done with you. Don't you ever darespeak to me again"--his voice was shaking with fury--"and don't yousit at my table in the restaurant again. I'm sorry I ever lowered myself to keepcompany with such dirt. Ahone-horse dentist! Ahten-cent zinc-plugger--hoodlum--MUCKER! Get your damn smoke outa my face."

Then matters reached a sudden climax. In his agitation the dentist had beenpulling hard on his pipeand as Marcus for the last time thrust his face closeto his ownMcTeaguein opening his lips to replyblew a stiflingacrid clouddirectly in Marcus Schouler's eyes. Marcus knocked the pipe from his fingerswith a sudden flash of his hand; it spun across the room and broke into a dozenfragments in a far corner.

McTeague rose to his feethis eyes wide. But as yet he was not angryonlysurprisedtaken all aback by the suddenness of Marcus Schouler's outbreak aswell as by its unreasonableness. Why had Marcus broken his pipe? What did it allmeananyway? As he rose the dentist made a vague motion with his right hand.Did Marcus misinterpret it as a gesture of menace? He sprang back as thoughavoiding a blow. All at once there was a cry. Marcus had made a quickpeculiarmotionswinging his arm upward with a wide and sweeping gesture; his jack-knifelay open in his palm; it shot forward as he flung itglinted sharply byMcTeague's headand struck quivering into the wall behind.

A sudden chill ran through the room; the others stood transfixedas at theswift passage of some cold and deadly wind. Death had stooped there for aninstanthad stooped and pastleaving a trail of terror and confusion. Then thedoor leading to the street slammed; Marcus had disappeared.

Thereon a great babel of exclamation arose. The tension of that all but fatalinstant snappedand speech became once more possible.

"He would have knifed you."

"Narrow escape."

"What kind of a man do you call THAT?"

"'Tain't his fault he ain't a murderer."

"I'd have him up for it."

"And they two have been the greatest kind of friends."

"He didn't touch youdid he?"

"No--no--no."

"What a--what a devil! What treachery! A regular greaser trick!"

"Look out he don't stab you in the back. If that's the kind of man heisyou never can tell."

Frenna drew the knife from the wall.

"Guess I'll keep this toad-stabber" he observed. "That fellowwon't come round for it in a hurry; goodsized bladetoo." The groupexamined it with intense interest.

"Big enough to let the life out of any man" observed Heise.

"What--what--what did he do it for?" stammered McTeague. "Igot no quarrel with him."

He was puzzled and harassed by the strangeness of it all. Marcus would havekilled him; had thrown his knife at him in the trueuncanny "greaser"style. It was inexplicable. McTeague sat down againlooking stupidly about onthe floor. In a corner of the room his eye encountered his broken pipea dozenlittle fragments of painted porcelain and the stem of cherry wood and amber.

At that sight his tardy wrathever lagging behind the original affrontsuddenly blazed up. Instantly his huge jaws clicked together.

"He can't make small of ME" he exclaimedsuddenly. "I'llshow Marcus Schouler--I'll show him--I'll----"

He got up and clapped on his hat.

"NowDoctor" remonstrated Heisestanding between him and thedoor"don't go make a fool of yourself."

"Let 'um alone" joined in Frennacatching the dentist by the arm;"he's fullanyhow."

"He broke my pipe" answered McTeague.

It was this that had roused him. The thrown knifethe attempt on his lifewas beyond his solution; but the breaking of his pipe he understood clearlyenough.

"I'll show him" he exclaimed.

As though they had been little childrenMcTeague set Frenna and theharness-maker asideand strode out at the door like a raging elephant. Heisestood rubbing his shoulder.

"Might as well try to stop a locomotive" he muttered. "Theman's made of iron."

MeanwhileMcTeague went storming up the street toward the flatwagging hishead and grumbling to himself. AhMarcus would break his pipewould he? Ahhewas a zinc-pluggerwas he? He'd show Marcus Schouler. No one should make smallof him. He tramped up the stairs to Marcus's room. The door was locked. Thedentist put one enormous hand on the knob and pushed the door insnapping thewood-worktearing off the lock. Nobody--the room was dark and empty. NevermindMarcus would have to come home some time that night. McTeague would godown and wait for him in his "Parlors." He was bound to hear him as hecame up the stairs.

As McTeague reached his room he stumbled overin the darknessa bigpacking-box that stood in the hallway just outside his door. Puzzledhe steppedover itand lighting the gas in his roomdragged it inside and examined it.

It was addressed to him. What could it mean? He was expecting nothing. Neversince he had first furnished his room had packing-cases been left for him inthis fashion. No mistake was possible. There were his name and addressunmistakably. "Dr. McTeaguedentist--Polk StreetSan FranciscoCal." and the red Wells Fargo tag.

Seized with the joyful curiosity of an overgrown boyhe pried off the boardswith the corner of his fireshovel. The case was stuffed full of excelsior. Onthe top lay an envelope addressed to him in Trina's handwriting. He opened itand read"For my dear Mac's birthdayfrom Trina;" and belowin akind of post-script"The man will be round to-morrow to put it inplace." McTeague tore away the excelsior. Suddenly he uttered anexclamation.

It was the Tooth--the famous golden molar with its huge prongs--his signhisambitionthe one unrealized dream of his life; and it was French gilttoonotthe cheap German gilt that was no good. Ahwhat a dear little woman was thisTrinato keep so quietto remember his birthday!

"Ain't she--ain't she just a--just a JEWEL" exclaimed McTeagueunder his breath"a JEWEL--yesjust a JEWEL; that's the word."

Very carefully he removed the rest of the excelsiorand lifting theponderous Tooth from its boxset it upon the marble-top centre table. Howimmense it looked in that little room! The thing was tremendousoverpowering--the tooth of a gigantic fossilgolden and dazzling. Beside iteverything seemed dwarfed. Even McTeague himselfbig boned and enormous as hewasshrank and dwindled in the presence of the monster. As for an instant hebore it in his handsit was like a puny Gulliver struggling with the molar ofsome vast Brobdingnag.

The dentist circled about that golden wondergasping with delight andstupefactiontouching it gingerly with his hands as if it were somethingsacred. At every moment his thought returned to Trina. Nonever was there sucha little woman as his--the very thing he wanted--how had she remembered? And themoneywhere had that come from? No one knew better than he how expensive werethese signs; not another dentist on Polk Street could afford one. Wherethenhad Trina found the money? It came out of her five thousand dollarsno doubt.

But what a wonderfulbeautiful tooth it wasto be surebright as a mirrorshining there in its coat of French giltas if with a light of its own! Nodanger of that tooth turning black with the weatheras did the cheap Germangilt impostures. What would that other dentistthat poserthat rider ofbicyclesthat courser of greyhoundssay when he should see this marvellousmolar run out from McTeague's bay window like a flag of defiance? No doubt hewould suffer veritable convulsions of envy; would be positively sick withjealousy. If McTeague could only see his face at the moment!

For a whole hour the dentist sat there in his little "Parlor"gazing ecstatically at his treasuredazzledsupremely content. The whole roomtook on a different aspect because of it. The stone pug dog before the littlestove reflected it in his protruding eyes; the canary woke and chittered feeblyat this new giltso much brighter than the bars of its little prison. Lorenzode' Mediciin the steel engravingsitting in the heart of his courtseemed toogle the thing out of the corner of one eyewhile the brilliant colors of theunused rifle manufacturer's calendar seemed to fade and pale in the brillianceof this greater glory.

At lengthlong after midnightthe dentist started to go to bedundressinghimself with his eyes still fixed on the great tooth. All at once he heardMarcus Schouler's foot on the stairs; he started up with his fists clenchedbutimmediately dropped back upon the bed-lounge with a gesture of indifference.

He was in no truculent state of mind now. He could not reinstate himself inthat mood of wrath wherein he had left the corner grocery. The tooth had changedall that. What was Marcus Schouler's hatred to himwho had Trina's affection?What did he care about a broken pipe now that he had the tooth? Let him go. AsFrenna saidhe was not worth it. He heard Marcus come out into the hallshouting aggrievedly to anyone within sound of his voice:

"An' now he breaks into my room--into my roomby damn! How do I knowhow many things he's stolen? It's come to stealing from menowhas it?"He went into his roombanging his splintered door.

McTeague looked upward at the ceilingin the direction of the voicemuttering:

"Ahgo to bedyou."

He went to bed himselfturning out the gasbut leaving the window-curtainsup so that he could see the tooth the last thing before he went to sleep and thefirst thing as he arose in the morning.

But he was restless during the night. Every now and then he was awakened bynoises to which he had long since become accustomed. Now it was the cackling ofthe geese in the deserted market across the street; now it was the stoppage ofthe cablethe sudden silence coming almost like a shock; and now it was theinfuriated barking of the dogs in the back yard--Alecthe Irish setterand thecollie that belonged to the branch post-office raging at each other through thefencesnarling their endless hatred into each other's faces. As often as hewokeMcTeague turned and looked for the toothwith a sudden suspicion that hehad only that moment dreamed the whole business. But he always found it--Trina'sgifthis birthday from his little woman-- a hugevague bulklooming therethrough the half darkness in the centre of the roomshining dimly out as ifwith some mysterious light of its own.

CHAPTER 9

Trina and McTeague were married on the first day of Junein thephotographer's rooms that the dentist had rented. All through May the Sieppehousehold had been turned upside down. The little box of a house vibrated withexcitement and confusionfor not only were the preparations for Trina'smarriage to be madebut also the preliminaries were to be arranged for thehegira of the entire Sieppe family.

They were to move to the southern part of the State the day after Trina'smarriageMr. Sieppe having bought a third interest in an upholstering businessin the suburbs of Los Angeles. It was possible that Marcus Schouler would gowith them.

Not Stanley penetrating for the first time into the Dark ContinentnotNapoleon leading his army across the Alpswas more weighted withresponsibilitymore burdened with caremore overcome with the sense of theimportance of his undertakingthan was Mr. Sieppe during this period ofpreparation. From dawn to darkfrom dark to early dawnhe toiled and plannedand frettedorganizing and reorganizingprojecting and devising. The trunkswere letteredABand Cthe packages and smaller bundles numbered. Eachmember of the family had his especial duty to performhis particular bundles tooversee. Not a detail was forgotten-- farespricesand tips were calculated totwo places of decimals. Even the amount of food that it would be necessary tocarry for the black greyhound was determined. Mrs. Sieppe was to look after thelunch"der gomisariat." Mr. Sieppe would assume charge of the checksthe moneythe ticketsandof coursegeneral supervision. The twins would beunder the command of Owgoostewhoin turnwould report for orders to hisfather.

Day in and day out these minutiae were rehearsed. The children were drilledin their parts with a military exactitude; obedience and punctuality becamecardinal virtues. The vast importance of the undertaking was insisted upon withscrupulous iteration. It was a manoeuvrean army changing its base ofoperationsa veritable tribal migration.

On the other handTrina's little room was the centre around which revolvedanother and different order of things. The dressmaker came and wentcongratulatory visitors invaded the little front parlorthe chatter ofunfamiliar voices resounded from the front steps; bonnet-boxes and yards ofdress-goods littered the beds and chairs; wrapping papertissue paperand bitsof string strewed the floor; a pair of white satin slippers stood on a corner ofthe toilet table; lengths of white veilinglike a snow-flurryburied thelittle work-table; and a mislaid box of artificial orange blossoms was finallydiscovered behind the bureau.

The two systems of operation often clashed and tangled. Mrs. Sieppe was foundby her harassed husband helping Trina with the waist of her gown when she shouldhave been slicing cold chicken in the kitchen. Mr. Sieppe packed his frock coatwhich he would have to wear at the weddingat the very bottom of "TrunkC." The ministerwho called to offer his congratulations and to makearrangementswas mistaken for the expressman.

McTeague came and went furtivelydizzied and made uneasy by all this bustle.He got in the way; he trod upon and tore breadths of silk; he tried to helpcarry the packing-boxesand broke the hall gas fixture; he came in upon Trinaand the dress-maker at an ill-timed momentand retiring precipitatelyoverturned the piles of pictures stacked in the hall.

There was an incessant going and coming at every moment of the daya greatcalling up and down stairsa shouting from room to rooman opening andshutting of doorsand an intermittent sound of hammering from the laundrywhere Mr. Sieppe in his shirt sleeves labored among the packing-boxes. The twinsclattered about on the carpetless floors of the denuded rooms. Owgooste wassmacked from hour to hourand wept upon the front stairs; the dressmaker calledover the banisters for a hot flatiron; expressmen tramped up and down thestairway. Mrs. Sieppe stopped in the preparation of the lunches to call"HoopHoop" to the greyhoundthrowing lumps of coal. The dog-wheelcreakedthe front door bell rangdelivery wagons rumbled awaywindowsrattled--the little house was in a positive uproar.

Almost every day of the week now Trina was obliged to run over to town andmeet McTeague. No more philandering over their lunch now-a-days. It was businessnow. They haunted the house-furnishing floors of the great department housesinspecting and pricing rangeshardwarechinaand the like. They rented thephotographer's rooms furnishedand fortunately only the kitchen and dining-roomutensils had to be bought.

The money for this as well as for her trousseau came out of Trina's fivethousand dollars. For it had been finally decided that two hundred dollars ofthis amount should be devoted to the establishment of the new household. Nowthat Trina had made her great winningMr. Sieppe no longer saw the necessity ofdowering her furtherespecially when he considered the enormous expense towhich he would be put by the voyage of his own family.

It had been a dreadful wrench for Trina to break in upon her precious fivethousand. She clung to this sum with a tenacity that was surprising; it hadbecome for her a thing miraculousa god-from-the-machinesuddenly descendingupon the stage of her humble little life; she regarded it as something almostsacred and inviolable. Nevernever should a penny of it be spent. Before shecould be induced to part with two hundred dollars of itmore than one scene hadbeen enacted between her and her parents.

Did Trina pay for the golden tooth out of this two hundred? Later onthedentist often asked her about itbut Trina invariably laughed in his facedeclaring that it was her secret. McTeague never found out.

One day during this period McTeague told Trina about his affair with Marcus.Instantly she was aroused.

"He threw his knife at you! The coward! He wouldn't of dared stand up toyou like a man. OhMacsuppose he HAD hit you?"

"Came within an inch of my head" put in McTeagueproudly.

"Think of it!" she gasped; "and he wanted part of my money.WellI do like his cheek; part of my five thousand! Whyit's mineeverysingle penny of it. Marcus hasn't the least bit of right to it. It's minemine.--I meanit's oursMacdear."

The elder Sieppeshowevermade excuses for Marcus. He had probably beendrinking a good deal and didn't know what he was about. He had a dreadfultemperanyhow. Maybe he only wanted to scare McTeague.

The week before the marriage the two men were reconciled. Mrs. Sieppe broughtthem together in the front parlor of the B Street house.

"Nowyou two fellersdon't be dot foolish. Schake hands und maig utoopsoh."

Marcus muttered an apology. McTeaguemiserably embarrassedrolled his eyesabout the roommurmuring"That's all right--that's all right--that's allright."

Howeverwhen it was proposed that Marcus should be McTeague's best manheflashed out again with renewed violence. Ahno! ahNO! He'd make up with thedentist now that he was going awaybut he'd be damned--yeshe would--beforehe'd be his best man. That was rubbing it in. Let him get Old Grannis.

"I'm friends with um all right" vociferated Marcus"but I'llnot stand up with um. I'll not be ANYBODY'S best manI won't."

The wedding was to be very quiet; Trina preferred it that way. McTeague wouldinvite only Miss Baker and Heise the harness-maker. The Sieppes sent cards toSelinawho was counted on to furnish the music; to Marcusof course; and toUncle Oelbermann.

At last the great daythe first of Junearrived. The Sieppes had packedtheir last box and had strapped the last trunk. Trina's two trunks had alreadybeen sent to her new home--the remodelled photographer's rooms. The B Streethouse was deserted; the whole family came over to the city on the last day ofMay and stopped over night at one of the cheap downtown hotels. Trina would bemarried the following eveningand immediately after the wedding supper theSieppes would leave for the South.

McTeague spent the day in a fever of agitationfrightened out of his witseach time that Old Grannis left his elbow.

Old Grannis was delighted beyond measure at the prospect of acting the partof best man in the ceremony. This wedding in which he was to figure filled hismind with vague ideas and half-formed thoughts. He found himself continuallywondering what Miss Baker would think of it. During all that day he was in areflective mood.

"Marriage is a--a noble institutionis it notDoctor?" heobserved to McTeague. "The--the foundation of society. It is not good thatman should be alone. Nono" he addedpensively"it is notgood."

"Huh? Yesyes" McTeague answeredhis eyes in the airhardlyhearing him. "Do you think the rooms are all right? Let's go in and look atthem again."

They went down the hall to where the new rooms were situatedand the dentistinspected them for the twentieth time.

The rooms were three in number--firstthe sitting-roomwhich was also thedining-room; then the bedroomand back of this the tiny kitchen.

The sitting-room was particularly charming. Clean matting covered the floorand two or three bright colored rugs were scattered here and there. The backs ofthe chairs were hung with knitted worsted tidiesvery gay. The bay windowshould have been occupied by Trina's sewing machinebut this had been moved tothe other side of the room to give place to a little black walnut table withspiral legsbefore which the pair were to be married. In one corner stood theparlor melodeona family possession of the Sieppesbut given now to Trina asone of her parents' wedding presents. Three pictures hung upon the walls. Twowere companion pieces. One of these represented a little boy wearing hugespectacles and trying to smoke an enormous pipe. This was called "I'mGrandpa" the title being printed in large black letters; the companionpicture was entitled "I'm Grandma" a little girl in cap and"specs" wearing mittsand knitting. These pictures were hung oneither side of the mantelpiece. The other picture was quite an affairverylarge and striking. It was a colored lithograph of two little golden-hairedgirls in their night- gowns. They were kneeling down and saying their prayers;their eyes--very large and very blue--rolled upward. This picture had for name"Faith" and was bordered with a red plush mat and a frame ofimitation beaten brass.

A door hung with chenille portieres--a bargain at two dollars and ahalf--admitted one to the bedroom. The bedroom could boast a carpetthree-plyingrainthe design being bunches of red and green flowers in yellow baskets ona white ground. The wall-paper was admirable-- hundreds and hundreds of tinyJapanese mandarinsall identically alikehelping hundreds of almond-eyedladies into hundreds of impossible junkswhile hundreds of bamboo palmsovershadowed the pairand hundreds of long-legged storks trailed contemptuouslyaway from the scene. This room was prolific in pictures. Most of them wereframed colored prints from Christmas editions of the London "Graphic"and "Illustrated News" the subject of each picture inevitablyinvolving very alert fox terriers and very pretty moon-faced little girls.

Back of the bedroom was the kitchena creation of Trina'sa dream of akitchenwith its rangeits porcelain-lined sinkits copper boilerand itsoverpowering array of flashing tinware. Everything was new; everything wascomplete.

Maria Macapa and a waiter from one of the restaurants in the street were toprepare the wedding supper here. Maria had already put in an appearance. Thefire was crackling in the new stovethat smoked badly; a smell of cooking wasin the air. She drove McTeague and Old Grannis from the room with great gesturesof her bare arms.

This kitchen was the only one of the three rooms they had been obliged tofurnish throughout. Most of the sitting- room and bedroom furniture went withthe suite; a few pieces they had bought; the remainder Trina had brought overfrom the B Street house.

The presents had been set out on the extension table in the sitting-room.Besides the parlor melodeonTrina's parents had given her an ice-water setanda carving knife and fork with elk-horn handles. Selina had painted a view of theGolden Gate upon a polished slice of redwood that answered the purposes of apaper weight. Marcus Schouler--after impressing upon Trina that his gift was toHERand not to McTeague--had sent a chatelaine watch of German silver; UncleOelbermann's presenthoweverhad been awaited with a good deal of curiosity.What would he send? He was very rich; in a sense Trina was his protege. A coupleof days before that upon which the wedding was to take placetwo boxes arrivedwith his card. Trina and McTeagueassisted by Old Grannishad opened them. Thefirst was a box of all sorts of toys.

"But what--what--I don't make it out" McTeague had exclaimed."Why should he send us toys? We have no need of toys." Scarlet to herhairTrina dropped into a chair and laughed till she cried behind herhandkerchief.

"We've no use of toys" muttered McTeaguelooking at her inperplexity. Old Grannis smiled discreetlyraising a tremulous hand to his chin.

The other box was heavybound with withes at the edgesthe letters andstamps burnt in.

"I think--I really think it's champagne" said Old Grannis in awhisper. So it was. A full case of Monopole. What a wonder! None of them hadseen the like before. Ahthis Uncle Oelbermann! That's what it was to be rich.Not one of the other presents produced so deep an impression as this.

After Old Grannis and the dentist had gone through the roomsgiving a lastlook around to see that everything was readythey returned to McTeague's"Parlors." At the door Old Grannis excused himself.

At four o'clock McTeague began to dressshaving himself first before thehand-glass that was hung against the woodwork of the bay window. While he shavedhe sang with strange inappropriateness:

"No one to lovenone to CaressLeft all alone in this world'swilderness."

But as he stood before the mirrorintent upon his shavingthere came a rollof wheels over the cobbles in front of the house. He rushed to the window. Trinahad arrived with her father and mother. He saw her get outand as she glancedupward at his windowtheir eyes met.

Ahthere she was. There she washis little womanlooking up at himheradorable little chin thrust upward with that familiar movement of innocence andconfidence. The dentist saw againas if for the first timeher smallpaleface looking out from beneath her royal tiara of black hair; he saw again herlongnarrow blue eyes; her lipsnoseand tiny earspale and bloodlessandsuggestive of anaemiaas if all the vitality that should have lent them colorhad been sucked up into the strands and coils of that wonderful hair.

As their eyes met they waved their hands gayly to each other; then McTeagueheard Trina and her mother come up the stairs and go into the bedroom of thephotographer's suitewhere Trina was to dress.

Nono; surely there could be no longer any hesitation. He knew that he lovedher. What was the matter with himthat he should have doubted it for aninstant? The great difficulty was that she was too goodtoo adorabletoosweettoo delicate for himwho was so hugeso clumsyso brutal.

There was a knock at the door. It was Old Grannis. He was dressed in his oneblack suit of broadclothmuch wrinkled; his hair was carefully brushed over hisbald forehead.

"Miss Trina has come" he announced"and the minister. Youhave an hour yet."

The dentist finished dressing. He wore a suit bought for the occasion--aready made "Prince Albert" coat too short in the sleevesstriped"blue" trousersand new patent leather shoes--veritable instrumentsof torture. Around his collar was a wonderful necktie that Trina had given him;it was of salmon-pink satin; in its centre Selina had painted a knot of blueforget-me-nots.

At lengthafter an interminable period of waitingMr. Sieppe appeared atthe door.

"Are you reatty?" he asked in a sepulchral whisper. "Gomeden." It was like King Charles summoned to execution. Mr. Sieppe precededthem into the hallmoving at a funereal pace. He paused. Suddenlyin thedirection of the sitting- roomcame the strains of the parlor melodeon. Mr.Sieppe flung his arm in the air.

"Vowaarts!" he cried.

He left them at the door of the sitting-roomhe himself going into thebedroom where Trina was waitingentering by the hall door. He was in atremendous state of nervous tensionfearful lest something should go wrong. Hehad employed the period of waiting in going through his part for the fiftiethtimerepeating what he had to say in a low voice. He had even made chalk markson the matting in the places where he was to take positions.

The dentist and Old Grannis entered the sitting-room; the minister stoodbehind the little table in the bay windowholding a bookone finger markingthe place; he was rigiderectimpassive. On either side of himin asemi-circlestood the invited guests. A little pock-marked gentleman inglassesno doubt the famous Uncle Oelbermann; Miss Bakerin her blackgrenadinefalse curlsand coral brooch; Marcus Schoulerhis arms foldedhisbrows bentgrand and gloomy; Heise the harness-makerin yellow glovesintently studying the pattern of the matting; and Owgoostein his Fauntleroy"costume" stupefied and a little frightenedrolling his eyes fromface to face. Selina sat at the parlor melodeonfingering the keysher glancewandering to the chenille portieres. She stopped playing as McTeague and OldGrannis entered and took their places. A profound silence ensued. UncleOelbermann's shirt front could be heard creaking as he breathed. The most solemnexpression pervaded every face.

All at once the portieres were shaken violently. It was a signal. Selinapulled open the stops and swung into the wedding march.

Trina entered. She was dressed in white silka crown of orange blossoms wasaround her swarthy hair--dressed high for the first time--her veil reached tothe floor. Her face was pinkbut otherwise she was calm. She looked quietlyaround the room as she crossed ituntil her glance rested on McTeaguesmilingat him then very prettily and with perfect self-possession.

She was on her father's arm. The twinsdressed exactly alikewalked infronteach carrying an enormous bouquet of cut flowers in a"lace-paper" holder. Mrs. Sieppe followed in the rear. She was crying;her handkerchief was rolled into a wad. From time to time she looked at thetrain of Trina's dress through her tears. Mr. Sieppe marched his daughter to theexact middle of the floorwheeled at right anglesand brought her up to theminister. He stepped back three pacesand stood planted upon one of his chalkmarkshis face glistening with perspiration.

Then Trina and the dentist were married. The guests stood in constrainedattitudeslooking furtively out of the corners of their eyes. Mr. Sieppe nevermoved a muscle; Mrs. Sieppe cried into her handkerchief all the time. At themelodeon Selina played "Call Me Thine Own" very softlythe tremulostop pulled out. She looked over her shoulder from time to time. Between thepauses of the music one could hear the low tones of the ministerthe responsesof the participantsand the suppressed sounds of Mrs. Sieppe's weeping. Outsidethe noises of the street rose to the windows in muffled undertonesa cable carrumbled pasta newsboy went by chanting the evening papers; from somewhere inthe building itself came a persistent noise of sawing.

Trina and McTeague knelt. The dentist's knees thudded on the floor and hepresented to view the soles of his shoespainfully new and unwornthe leatherstill yellowthe brass nail heads still glittering. Trina sank at his side verygracefullysetting her dress and train with a little gesture of her free hand.The company bowed their headsMr. Sieppe shutting his eyes tight. But Mrs.Sieppe took advantage of the moment to stop crying and make furtive gesturestowards Owgoostesigning him to pull down his coat. But Owgooste gave no heed;his eyes were starting from their socketshis chin had dropped upon his lacecollarand his head turned vaguely from side to side with a continued andmaniacal motion.

All at once the ceremony was over before any one expected it. The guests kepttheir positions for a momenteyeing one anothereach fearing to make the firstmovenot quite certain as to whether or not everything were finished. But thecouple faced the roomTrina throwing back her veil. She--perhaps McTeague aswell--felt that there was a certain inadequateness about the ceremony. Was thatall there was to it? Did just those few muttered phrases make them man and wife?It had been over in a few momentsbut it had bound them for life. Had notsomething been left out? Was not the whole affair cursorysuperficial? It wasdisappointing.

But Trina had no time to dwell upon this. Marcus Schoulerin the manner of aman of the worldwho knew how to act in every situationstepped forward andeven before Mr. or Mrs. Sieppetook Trina's hand.

"Let me be the first to congratulate Mrs. McTeague" he saidfeeling very noble and heroic. The strain of the previous moments was relaxedimmediatelythe guests crowded around the pairshaking hands--a babel of talkarose.

"OwgoosteWILL you pull down your goatden?"

"Wellmy dearnow you're married and happy. When I first saw you twotogetherI said'What a pair!' We're to be neighbors now; you must come up andsee me very often and we'll have tea together."

"Did you hear that sawing going on all the time? I declare it regularlygot on my nerves."

Trina kissed her father and mothercrying a little herself as she saw thetears in Mrs. Sieppe's eyes.

Marcus came forward a second timeandwith an air of great gravitykissedhis cousin upon the forehead. Heise was introduced to Trina and Uncle Oelbermannto the dentist.

For upwards of half an hour the guests stood about in groupsfilling thelittle sitting-room with a great chatter of talk. Then it was time to make readyfor supper.

This was a tremendous taskin which nearly all the guests were obliged toassist. The sitting-room was transformed into a dining-room. The presents wereremoved from the extension table and the table drawn out to its full length. Thecloth was laidthe chairs--rented from the dancing academy hard by--drawn upthe dishes set outand the two bouquets of cut flowers taken from the twinsunder their shrill protestsand "arranged" in vases at either end ofthe table.

There was a great coming and going between the kitchen and the sitting-room.Trinawho was allowed to do nothingsat in the bay window and frettedcallingto her mother from time to time:

"The napkins are in the right-hand drawer of the pantry."

"YesyesI got um. Where do you geep der zoup blates?"

"The soup plates are here already."

"SayCousin Trinais there a corkscrew? What is home without acorkscrew?"

"In the kitchen-table drawerin the left-hand corner."

"Are these the forks you want to useMrs. McTeague?"

"Nonothere's some silver forks. Mamma knows where."

They were all very gaylaughing over their mistakesgetting in oneanother's wayrushing into the sitting-roomtheir hands full of plates orknives or glassesand darting out again after more. Marcus and Mr. Sieppe tooktheir coats off. Old Grannis and Miss Baker passed each other in the hall in aconstrained silenceher grenadine brushing against the elbow of his wrinkledfrock coat. Uncle Oelbermann superintended Heise opening the case of champagnewith the gravity of a magistrate. Owgooste was assigned the task of filling thenew salt and pepper canisters of red and blue glass.

In a wonderfully short time everything was ready. Marcus Schouler resumed hiscoatwiping his foreheadand remarking:

"I tell youI've been doing CHORES for MY board."

"To der table!" commanded Mr. Sieppe.

The company sat down with a great clatterTrina at the footthe dentist atthe headthe others arranged themselves in haphazard fashion. But it happenedthat Marcus Schouler crowded into the seat beside Selinatowards which OldGrannis was directing himself. There was but one other chair vacantand that atthe side of Miss Baker. Old Grannis hesitatedputting his hand to his chin.Howeverthere was no escape. In great trepidation he sat down beside theretired dressmaker. Neither of them spoke. Old Grannis dared not movebut satrigidhis eyes riveted on his empty soup plate.

All at once there was a report like a pistol. The men started in theirplaces. Mrs. Sieppe uttered a muffled shriek. The waiter from the cheaprestauranthired as Maria's assistantrose from a bending posturea champagnebottle frothing in his hand; he was grinning from ear to ear.

"Don't get scairt" he saidreassuringly"it ain'tloaded."

When all their glasses had been filledMarcus proposed the health of thebride"standing up." The guests rose and drank. Hardly one of themhad ever tasted champagne before. The moment's silence after the toast wasbroken by McTeague exclaiming with a long breath of satisfaction: "That'sthe best beer I ever drank."

There was a roar of laughter. Especially was Marcus tickled over thedentist's blunder; he went off in a very spasm of mirthbanging the table withhis fistlaughing until his eyes watered. All through the meal he kept breakingout into cackling imitations of McTeague's words: "That's the best BEER Iever drank. OhLordain't that a break!"

What a wonderful supper that was! There was oyster soup; there were sea bassand barracuda; there was a gigantic roast goose stuffed with chestnuts; therewere egg-plant and sweet potatoes--Miss Baker called them "yams."There was calf's head in oilover which Mr. Sieppe went into ecstasies; therewas lobster salad; there were rice puddingand strawberry ice creamand winejellyand stewed prunesand cocoanutsand mixed nutsand raisinsand fruitand teaand coffeeand mineral watersand lemonade.

For two hours the guests ate; their faces redtheir elbows widetheperspiration beading their foreheads. All around the table one saw the sameincessant movement of jaws and heard the same uninterrupted sound of chewing.Three times Heise passed his plate for more roast goose. Mr. Sieppe devoured thecalf's head with long breaths of contentment; McTeague ate for the sake ofeatingwithout choice; everything within reach of his hands found its way intohis enormous mouth.

There was but little conversationand that only of the food; one exchangedopinions with one's neighbor as to the soupthe egg-plantor the stewedprunes. Soon the room became very warma faint moisture appeared upon thewindowsthe air was heavy with the smell of cooked food. At every moment Trinaor Mrs. Sieppe urged some one of the company to have his or her plate refilled.They were constantly employed in dishing potatoes or carving the goose orladling gravy. The hired waiter circled around the roomhis limp napkin overhis armhis hands full of plates and dishes. He was a great joker; he had namesof his own for different articles of foodthat sent gales of laughter aroundthe table. When he spoke of a bunch of parsley as "scenery" Heise allbut strangled himself over a mouthful of potato. Out in the kitchen Maria Macapadid the work of threeher face scarlether sleeves rolled up; every now andthen she uttered shrill but unintelligible outcriessupposedly addressed to thewaiter.

"Uncle Oelbermann" said Trina"let me give you anotherhelping of prunes."

The Sieppes paid great deference to Uncle Oelbermannas indeed did the wholecompany. Even Marcus Schouler lowered his voice when he addressed him. At thebeginning of the meal he had nudged the harness-maker and had whispered behindhis handnodding his head toward the wholesale toy dealer"Got thirtythousand dollars in the bank; hasfor a fact."

"Don't have much to say" observed Heise.

"Nono. That's his way; never opens his face."

As the evening wore onthe gas and two lamps were lit. The company werestill eating. The mengorged with foodhad unbuttoned their vests. McTeague'scheeks were distendedhis eyes widehis hugesalient jaw moved with amachine- like regularity; at intervals he drew a series of short breaths throughhis nose. Mrs. Sieppe wiped her forehead with her napkin.

"Heyderepoygif me some more oaf dat--what you call--'bubble-water.'"

That was how the waiter had spoken of the champagne--"bubble-water." The guests had shouted applause"Outasight." He was a heavy josher was that waiter.

Bottle after bottle was openedthe women stopping their ears as the corkswere drawn. All of a sudden the dentist uttered an exclamationclapping hishand to his nosehis face twisting sharply.

"Macwhat is it?" cried Trina in alarm.

"That champagne came to my nose" he criedhis eyes watering."It stings like everything."

"Great BEERain't ut?" shouted Marcus.

"NowMark" remonstrated Trina in a low voice. "NowMarkyou just shut up; that isn't funny any more. I don't want you should make fun ofMac. He called it beer on purpose.

I guess HE knows."

Throughout the meal old Miss Baker had occupied herself largely with Owgoosteand the twinswho had been given a table by themselves--the black walnut tablebefore which the ceremony had taken place. The little dressmaker was continuallyturning about in her placeinquiring of the children if they wanted foranything; inquiries they rarely answered other than by starefixedox-likeexpressionless.

Suddenly the little dressmaker turned to Old Grannis and exclaimed:

"I'm so very fond of little children."

"Yesyesthey're very interesting. I'm very fond of themtoo."

The next instant both of the old people were overwhelmed with confusion.What! They had spoken to each other after all these years of silence; they hadfor the first time addressed remarks to each other.

The old dressmaker was in a torment of embarrassment. How was it she had cometo speak? She had neither planned nor wished it. Suddenly the words had escapedherhe had answeredand it was all over--over before they knew it.

Old Grannis's fingers trembled on the table ledgehis heart beat heavilyhis breath fell short. He had actually talked to the little dressmaker. Thatpossibility to which he had looked forwardit seemed to him for years--thatcompanionshipthat intimacy with his fellow-lodgerthat delightfulacquaintance which was only to ripen at some far distant timehe could notexactly say when--beholdit had suddenly come to a headhere in thisover-crowdedover-heated roomin the midst of all this feedingsurrounded byodors of hot dishesaccompanied by the sounds of incessant mastication. Howdifferent he had imagined it would be! They were to be alone--he and MissBaker--in the evening somewherewithdrawn from the worldvery quietvery calmand peaceful. Their talk was to be of their livestheir lost illusionsnot ofother people's children.

The two old people did not speak again. They sat there side by sidenearerthan they had ever been beforemotionlessabstracted; their thoughts far awayfrom that scene of feasting. They were thinking of each other and they wereconscious of it. Timidwith the timidity of their second childhoodconstrainedand embarrassed by each other's presencethey wereneverthelessin a littleElysium of their own creating. They walked hand in hand in a delicious gardenwhere it was always autumn; together and alone they entered upon the longretarded romance of their commonplace and uneventful lives.

At last that great supper was overeverything had been eaten; the enormousroast goose had dwindled to a very skeleton. Mr. Sieppe had reduced the calf'shead to a mere skull; a row of empty champagne bottles--"deadsoldiers" as the facetious waiter had called them--lined the mantelpiece.Nothing of the stewed prunes remained but the juicewhich was given to Owgoosteand the twins. The platters were as clean as if they had been washed; crumbs ofbreadpotato paringsnutshellsand bits of cake littered the table; coffeeand ice-cream stains and spots of congealed gravy marked the position of eachplate. It was a devastationa pillage; the table presented the appearance of anabandoned battlefield.

"Ouf" cried Mrs. Sieppepushing back"I haf eatun undeatunachGotthow I haf eatun!"

"Ahdot kaf's het" murmured her husbandpassing his tongue overhis lips.

The facetious waiter had disappeared. He and Maria Macapa foregathered in thekitchen. They drew up to the washboard of the sinkfeasting off the remnants ofthe supperslices of goosethe remains of the lobster saladand half a bottleof champagne. They were obliged to drink the latter from teacups.

"Here's how" said the waiter gallantlyas he raised his tea-cupbowing to Maria across the sink. "Hark" he added"they'resinging inside."

The company had left the table and had assembled about the melodeonwhereSelina was seated. At first they attempted some of the popular songs of the daybut were obliged to give over as none of them knew any of the words beyond thefirst line of the chorus. Finally they pitched upon "NearerMy GodtoThee" as the only song which they all knew. Selina sang the"alto" very much off the key; Marcus intoned the bassscowlingfiercelyhis chin drawn into his collar. They sang in very slow time. The songbecame a dirgea lamentableprolonged wail of distress:

"Nee-rahmy Gahdto TheeNee-rah to Thee-ah."

At the end of the songUncle Oelbermann put on his hat without a word ofwarning. Instantly there was a hush. The guests rose.

"Not going so soonUncle Oelbermann?" protested Trinapolitely.He only nodded. Marcus sprang forward to help him with his overcoat. Mr. Sieppecame up and the two men shook hands.

Then Uncle Oelbermann delivered himself of an oracular phrase. No doubt hehad been meditating it during the supper. Addressing Mr. Sieppehe said:

"You have not lost a daughterbut have gained a son."

These were the only words he had spoken the entire evening. He departed; thecompany was profoundly impressed.

About twenty minutes laterwhen Marcus Schouler was entertaining the guestsby eating almondsshells and allMr. Sieppe started to his feetwatch inhand.

"Haf-bast elevun" he shouted. "Attention! Der dime hafarriveshtop eferyting. We depart."

This was a signal for tremendous confusion. Mr. Sieppe immediately threw offhis previous air of relaxationthe calf's head was forgottenhe was once againthe leader of vast enterprises.

"To meto me" he cried. "Mommerder tervinsOwgooste." He marshalled his tribe togetherwith tremendous commandinggestures. The sleeping twins were suddenly shaken into a dazed consciousness;Owgoostewhom the almond-eating of Marcus Schouler had petrified withadmirationwas smacked to a realization of his surroundings.

Old Granniswith a certain delicacy that was one of his characteristicsfelt instinctively that the guests--the mere outsiders--should depart before thefamily began its leave-taking of Trina. He withdrew unobtrusivelyafter a hastygood-night to the bride and groom. The rest followed almost immediately.

"WellMr. Sieppe" exclaimed Marcus"we won't see each otherfor some time." Marcus had given up his first intention of joining in theSieppe migration. He spoke in a large way of certain affairs that would keep himin San Francisco till the fall. Of late he had entertained ambitions of a ranchlifehe would breed cattlehe had a little money and was only looking for someone "to go in with." He dreamed of a cowboy's life and saw himself inan entrancing vision involving silver spurs and untamed bronchos. He toldhimself that Trina had cast him offthat his best friend had "played himfor a sucker" that the "proper caper" was to withdraw from theworld entirely.

"If you hear of anybody down there" he went onspeaking to Mr.Sieppe"that wants to go in for ranchingwhy just let me know."

"Sohsoh" answered Mr. Sieppe abstractedlypeering about forOwgooste's cap.

Marcus bade the Sieppes farewell. He and Heise went out together. One heardthemas they descended the stairsdiscussing the possibility of Frenna's placebeing still open.

Then Miss Baker departed after kissing Trina on both cheeks. Selina went withher. There was only the family left.

Trina watched them goone by onewith an increasing feeling of uneasinessand vague apprehension. Soon they would all be gone.

"WellTrina" exclaimed Mr. Sieppe"goot-py; perhaps yougome visit us somedime."

Mrs. Sieppe began crying again.

"AchTrinaven shall I efer see you again?"

Tears came to Trina's eyes in spite of herself. She put her arms around hermother.

"Ohsometimesometime" she cried. The twins and Owgooste clungto Trina's skirtsfretting and whimpering.

McTeague was miserable. He stood apart from the groupin a corner. None ofthem seemed to think of him; he was not of them.

"Write to me very oftenmammaand tell me about everything--aboutAugust and the twins."

"It is dime" cried Mr. Sieppenervously. "Goot-pyTrina.MommerOwgoostesay goot-pyden we must go. Goot-pyTrina." He kissedher. Owgooste and the twins were lifted up. "Gomegome" insisted Mr.Sieppemoving toward the door.

"Goot-pyTrina" exclaimed Mrs. Sieppecrying harder than ever."Doktor--where is der doktor--Doktorpe goot to hereh? pe vairy gootehwon't you? Zum dayDokteryou vill haf a daughterden you know berhapshow I feelyes."

They were standing at the door by this time. Mr. Sieppehalf way down thestairskept calling "Gomegomewe miss der drain."

Mrs. Sieppe released Trina and started down the hallthe twins and Owgoostefollowing. Trina stood in the doorwaylooking after them through her tears.They were goinggoing. When would she ever see them again? She was to be leftalone with this man to whom she had just been married. A sudden vague terrorseized her; she left McTeague and ran down the hall and caught her mother aroundthe neck.

"I don't WANT you to go" she whispered in her mother's earsobbing. "OhmammaI--I'm 'fraid."

"AchTrinayou preak my heart. Don't grypoor leetle girl." Sherocked Trina in her arms as though she were a child again. "Poor leetlescairt girldon' gry--soh--soh-- sohdere's nuttun to pe 'fraid oaf. Deregoto your hoasban'. Listenpopper's galling again; go den; goot-by."

She loosened Trina's arms and started down the stairs. Trina leaned over thebanistersstraining her eyes after her mother.

"What is utTrina?"

"Ohgood-bygood-by."

"Gomegomewe miss der drain."

"Mammaohmamma!"

"What is utTrina?"

"Good-by."

"Goot-pyleetle daughter."

"Good-bygood-bygood-by."

The street door closed. The silence was profound.

For another moment Trina stood leaning over the banisterslooking down intothe empty stairway. It was dark. There was nobody. They--her fatherher motherthe children--had left herleft her alone. She faced about toward the rooms--faced her husbandfaced her new homethe new life that was to begin now.

The hall was empty and deserted. The great flat around her seemed new andhuge and strange; she felt horribly alone. Even Maria and the hired waiter weregone. On one of the floors above she heard a baby crying. She stood there aninstant in the dark hallin her wedding finerylooking about herlistening.From the open door of the sitting- room streamed a gold bar of light.

She went down the hallby the open door of the sitting- roomgoing ontoward the hall door of the bedroom.

As she softly passed the sitting-room she glanced hastily in. The lamps andthe gas were burning brightlythe chairs were pushed back from the table justas the guests had left themand the table itselfabandoneddesertedpresented to view the vague confusion of its dishesits knives and forksitsempty platters and crumpled napkins. The dentist sat there leaning on hiselbowshis back toward her; against the white blur of the table he lookedcolossal. Above his giant shoulders rose his thickred neck and mane of yellowhair. The light shone pink through the gristle of his enormous ears.

Trina entered the bedroomclosing the door after her. At the soundsheheard McTeague start and rise.

"Is that youTrina?"

She did not answer; but paused in the middle of the roomholding her breathtrembling.

The dentist crossed the outside roomparted the chenille portieresand camein. He came toward her quicklymaking as if to take her in his arms. His eyeswere alight.

"Nono" cried Trinashrinking from him. Suddenly seized with thefear of him--the intuitive feminine fear of the male--her whole being quailedbefore him. She was terrified at his hugesquare-cut head; his powerfulsalient jaw; his hugered hands; his enormousresistless strength.

"Nono--I'm afraid" she crieddrawing back from him to the otherside of the room.

"Afraid?" answered the dentist in perplexity. "What are youafraid ofTrina? I'm not going to hurt you. What are you afraid of?"

Whatindeedwas Trina afraid of? She could not tell. But what did she knowof McTeagueafter all? Who was this man that had come into her lifewho hadtaken her from her home and from her parentsand with whom she was now leftalone here in this strangevast flat?

"OhI'm afraid. I'm afraid" she cried.

McTeague came nearersat down beside her and put one arm around her.

"What are you afraid ofTrina?" he saidreassuringly. "Idon't want to frighten you."

She looked at him wildlyher adorable little chin quiveringthe tearsbrimming in her narrow blue eyes. Then her glance took on a certain intentnessand she peered curiously into his facesaying almost in a whisper:

"I'm afraid of YOU."

But the dentist did not heed her. An immense joy seized upon him--the joy ofpossession. Trina was his very own now. She lay there in the hollow of his armhelpless and very pretty.

Those instincts that in him were so close to the surface suddenly leaped tolifeshouting and clamoringnot to be resisted. He loved her. Ahdid he notlove her? The smell of her hairof her neckrose to him.

Suddenly he caught her in both his huge armscrushing down her struggle withhis immense strengthkissing her full upon the mouth. Then her great love forMcTeague suddenly flashed up in Trina's breast; she gave up to him as she haddone beforeyielding all at once to that strange desire of being conquered andsubdued. She clung to himher hands clasped behind his neckwhispering in hisear:

"Ohyou must be good to me--veryvery good to medear-- for you'reall that I have in the world now."

CHAPTER 10

That summer passedthen the winter. The wet season began in the last days ofSeptember and continued all through OctoberNovemberand December. At longintervals would come a week of perfect daysthe sky without a cloudthe airmotionlessbut touched with a certain nimblenessa faint effervescence thatwas exhilarating. Thenwithout warningduring a night when a south wind blewa gray scroll of cloud would unroll and hang high over the cityand the rainwould come pattering down againat first in scattered showersthen in anuninterrupted drizzle.

All day long Trina sat in the bay window of the sitting-room that commanded aview of a small section of Polk Street. As often as she raised her head shecould see the big marketa confectionery storea bell-hanger's shopandfarther onabove the roofsthe glass skylights and water tanks of the bigpublic baths. In the nearer foreground ran the street itself; the cable carstrundled up and downthumping heavily over the joints of the rails; marketcarts by the score came and wentdriven at a great rate by preoccupied youngmen in their shirt sleeveswith pencils behind their earsor by reckless boysin blood-stained butcher's aprons. Upon the sidewalks the little world of PolkStreet swarmed and jostled through its daily round of life. On fine days thegreat ladies from the avenueone block aboveinvaded the streetappearingbefore the butcher stallsintent upon their day's marketing. On rainy daystheir servants--the Chinese cooks or the second girls--took their places. Theseservants gave themselves great airscarrying their big cotton umbrellas as theyhad seen their mistresses carry their parasolsand haggling in superciliousfashion with the market mentheir chins in the air.

The rain persisted. Everything in the range of Trina's visionfrom thetarpaulins on the market-cart horses to the panes of glass in the roof of thepublic bathslooked glazed and varnished. The asphalt of the sidewalks shonelike the surface of a patent leather boot; every hollow in the street held itslittle puddlethat winked like an eye each time a drop of rain struck into it.

Trina still continued to work for Uncle Oelbermann. In the mornings shebusied herself about the kitchenthe bedroomand the sitting-room; but in theafternoonfor two or three hours after lunchshe was occupied with the Noah'sark animals. She took her work to the bay windowspreading out a great squareof canvas underneath her chairto catch the chips and shavingswhich she usedafterwards for lighting fires. One after another she caught up the little blocksof straight-grained pinethe knife flashed between her fingersthe littlefigure grew rapidly under her touchwas finished and ready for painting in awonderfully short timeand was tossed into the basket that stood at her elbow.

But very often during that rainy winter after her marriage Trina would pausein her workher hands falling idly into her lapher eyes--her narrowpaleblue eyes--growing wide and thoughtful as she gazedunseeingout into therain- washed street.

She loved McTeague now with a blindunreasoning love that admitted of nodoubt or hesitancy. Indeedit seemed to her that it was only AFTER her marriagewith the dentist that she had really begun to love him. With the absolute finalsurrender of herselfthe irrevocableultimate submissionhad come anaffection the like of which she had never dreamed in the old B Street days. ButTrina loved her husbandnot because she fancied she saw in him any of thosenoble and generous qualities that inspire affection. The dentist might or mightnot possess themit was all one with Trina. She loved him because she had givenherself to him freelyunreservedly; had merged her individuality into his; shewas hisshe belonged to him forever and forever. Nothing that he could do (soshe told herself)nothing that she herself could docould change her in thisrespect. McTeague might cease to love hermight leave hermight even die; itwould be all the sameSHE WAS HIS.

But it had not been so at first. During those longrainy days of the falldays when Trina was left alone for hoursat that time when the excitement andnovelty of the honeymoon were dying downwhen the new household was settlinginto its groovesshe passed through many an hour of misgivingof doubtandeven of actual regret.

Never would she forget one Sunday afternoon in particular. She had beenmarried but three weeks. After dinner she and little Miss Baker had gone for abit of a walk to take advantage of an hour's sunshine and to look at somewonderful geraniums in a florist's window on Sutter Street. They had been caughtin a showerand on returning to the flat the little dressmaker had insisted onfetching Trina up to her tiny room and brewing her a cup of strong tea"totake the chill off." The two women had chatted over their teacups thebetter part of the afternoonthen Trina had returned to her rooms. For nearlythree hours McTeague had been out of her thoughtsand as she came through theirlittle suitesinging softly to herselfshe suddenly came upon him quiteunexpectedly. Her husband was in the "Dental Parlors" lying back inhis operating chairfast asleep. The little stove was crammed with coketheroom was overheatedthe air thick and foul with the odors of etherof cokegasof stale beer and cheap tobacco. The dentist sprawled his gigantic limbsover the worn velvet of the operating chair; his coat and vest and shoes wereoffand his huge feetin their thick gray socksdangled over the edge of thefoot-rest; his pipefallen from his half-open mouthhad spilled the ashes intohis lap; while on the floorat his side stood the half-empty pitcher of steambeer. His head had rolled limply upon one shoulderhis face was red with sleepand from his open mouth came a terrific sound of snoring.

For a moment Trina stood looking at him as he lay thusproneinerthalf-dressedand stupefied with the heat of the roomthe steam beerand thefumes of the cheap tobacco. Then her little chin quivered and a sob rose to herthroat; she fled from the "Parlors" and locking herself in herbedroomflung herself on the bed and burst into an agony of weeping. Ahnoahnoshe could not love him. It had all been a dreadful mistakeand now itwas irrevocable; she was bound to this man for life. If it was as bad as thisnowonly three weeks after her marriagehow would it be in the years to come?Year after yearmonth after monthhour after hourshe was to see this samefacewith its salient jawwas to feel the touch of those enormous red handswas to hear the heavyelephantine tread of those huge feet--in thick graysocks. Year after yearday after daythere would be no changeand it wouldlast all her life. Either it would be one long continued revulsionorelse--worse than all--she would come to be content with himwould come to belike himwould sink to the level of steam beer and cheap tobaccoand all herpretty waysher cleantrim little habitswould be forgottensince they wouldbe thrown away upon her stupidbrutish husband. "Her husband!" THATwas her husband in there--she could yet hear his snores--for lifefor life. Agreat despair seized upon her. She buried her face in the pillow and thought ofher mother with an infinite longing.

Aroused at length by the chittering of the canaryMcTeague had awakenedslowly. After a while he had taken down his concertina and played upon it thesix very mournful airs that he knew.

Face downward upon the bedTrina still wept. Throughout that little suitecould be heard but two soundsthe lugubrious strains of the concertina and thenoise of stifled weeping.

That her husband should be ignorant of her distress seemed to Trina anadditional grievance. With perverse inconsistency she began to wish him to cometo herto comfort her. He ought to know that she was in troublethat she waslonely and unhappy.

"OhMac" she called in a trembling voice. But the concertinastill continued to wail and lament. Then Trina wished she were deadand on theinstant jumped up and ran into the "Dental Parlors" and threw herselfinto her husband's armscrying: "OhMacdearlove melove me big! I'mso unhappy."

"What--what--what--" the dentist exclaimedstarting up bewildereda little frightened.

"Nothingnothingonly LOVE melove me always and always."

But this first crisisthis momentary revoltas much a matter of high-strungfeminine nerves as of anything elsepassedand in the end Trina's affectionfor her "old bear" grew in spite of herself. She began to love himmore and morenot for what he wasbut for what she had given up to him. Onlyonce again did Trina undergo a reaction against her husbandand then it was butthe matter of an instantbrought oncuriously enoughby the sight of a bit ofegg on McTeague's heavy mustache one morning just after breakfast.

Thentoothe pair had learned to make concessionslittle by littleandall unconsciously they adapted their modes of life to suit each other. Insteadof sinking to McTeague's level as she had fearedTrina found that she couldmake McTeague rise to hersand in this saw a solution of many a difficult andgloomy complication.

For one thingthe dentist began to dress a little betterTrina evensucceeding in inducing him to wear a high silk hat and a frock coat of a Sunday.Next he relinquished his Sunday afternoon's nap and beer in favor of three orfour hours spent in the park with her--the weather permitting. So that graduallyTrina's misgivings ceasedor when they did assail hershe could at last meetthem with a shrug of the shoulderssaying to herself meanwhile"Wellit's done now and it can't be helped; one must make the best of it."

During the first months of their married life these nervous relapses of hershad alternated with brusque outbursts of affection when her only fear was thather husband's love did not equal her own. Without an instant's warningshewould clasp him about the neckrubbing her cheek against hismurmuring:

"Dear old MacI love you soI love you so. Oharen't we happytogetherMacjust us two and no one else? You love me as much as I love youdon't youMac? Ohif you shouldn't--if you SHOULDN'T."

But by the middle of the winter Trina's emotionsoscillating at first fromone extreme to anothercommenced to settle themselves to an equilibrium ofcalmness and placid quietude. Her household duties began more and more to absorbher attentionfor she was an admirable housekeeperkeeping the little suite inmarvellous good order and regulating the schedule of expenditure with an economythat often bordered on positive niggardliness. It was a passion with her to savemoney. In the bottom of her trunkin the bedroomshe hid a brass match-safethat answered the purposes of a savings bank. Each time she added a quarter or ahalf dollar to the little store she laughed and sang with a veritable childishdelight; whereasif the butcher or milkman compelled her to pay an overchargeshe was unhappy for the rest of the day. She did not save this money for anyulterior purposeshe hoarded instinctivelywithout knowing whyresponding tothe dentist's remonstrances with:

"YesyesI know I'm a little miserI know it."

Trina had always been an economical little bodybut it was only since hergreat winning in the lottery that she had become especially penurious. No doubtin her fear lest their great good luck should demoralize them and lead to habitsof extravaganceshe had recoiled too far in the other direction. Nevernevernever should a penny of that miraculous fortune be spent; rather should it beadded to. It was a nest egga monstrousroc-like nest eggnot so largehoweverbut that it could be made larger. Already by the end of that winterTrina had begun to make up the deficit of two hundred dollars that she had beenforced to expend on the preparations for her marriage.

McTeagueon his partnever asked himself now-a-days whether he loved Trinathe wife as much as he had loved Trina the young girl. There had been a timewhen to kiss Trinato take her in his armshad thrilled him from head to heelwith a happiness that was beyond words; even the smell of her wonderful odoroushair had sent a sensation of faintness all through him. That time was long pastnow. Those sudden outbursts of affection on the part of his little womanoutbursts that only increased in vehemence the longer they lived togetherpuzzled rather than pleased him. He had come to submit to them good-naturedlyanswering her passionate inquiries with a "SuresureTrinasure I loveyou. What--what's the matter with you?"

There was no passion in the dentist's regard for his wife. He dearly liked tohave her near himhe took an enormous pleasure in watching her as she movedabout their roomsvery much at homegay and singing from morning till night;and it was his great delight to call her into the "Dental Parlors"when a patient was in the chair andwhile he held the pluggerto have her rapin the gold fillings with the little box-wood mallet as he had taught her. Butthat tempest of passionthat overpowering desire that had suddenly takenpossession of him that day when he had given her etheragain when he had caughther in his arms in the B Street stationand again and again during the earlydays of their married liferarely stirred him now. On the other handhe wasnever assailed with doubts as to the wisdom of his marriage.

McTeague had relapsed to his wonted stolidity. He never questioned himselfnever looked for motivesnever went to the bottom of things. The year followingupon the summer of his marriage was a time of great contentment for him; afterthe novelty of the honeymoon had passed he slipped easily into the new order ofthings without a question. Thus his life would be for years to come. Trina wasthere; he was married and settled. He accepted the situation. The little animalcomforts which for him constituted the enjoyment of life were ministered to atevery turnor when they were interfered with--as in the case of his Sundayafternoon's nap and beer--some agreeable substitute was found. In her attemptsto improve McTeague--to raise him from the stupid animal life to which he hadbeen accustomed in his bachelor days--Trina was tactful enough to move socautiously and with such slowness that the dentist was unconscious of anyprocess of change. In the matter of the high silk hatit seemed to him that theinitiative had come from himself.

Gradually the dentist improved under the influence of his little wife. He nolonger went abroad with frayed cuffs about his huge red wrists--or worsewithout any cuffs at all. Trina kept his linen clean and mendeddoing most ofhis washing herselfand insisting that he should change his flannels--thick redflannels they werewith enormous bone buttons--once a weekhis linen shirtstwice a weekand his collars and cuffs every second day. She broke him of thehabit of eating with his knifeshe caused him to substitute bottled beer in theplace of steam beerand she induced him to take off his hat to Miss BakertoHeise's wifeand to the other women of his acquaintance. McTeague no longerspent an evening at Frenna's. Instead of this he brought a couple of bottles ofbeer up to the rooms and shared it with Trina. In his "Parlors" he wasno longer gruff and indifferent to his female patients; he arrived at that stagewhere he could work and talk to them at the same time; he even accompanied themto the doorand held it open for them when the operation was finishedbowingthem out with great nods of his huge square-cut head.

Besides all thishe began to observe the broaderlarger interests of lifeinterests that affected him not as an individualbut as a member of a classaprofessionor a political party. He read the papershe subscribed to a dentalmagazine; on EasterChristmasand New Year's he went to church with Trina. Hecommenced to have opinionsconvictions--it was not fair to deprive tax-payingwomen of the privilege to vote; a university education should not be aprerequisite for admission to a dental college; the Catholic priests were to berestrained in their efforts to gain control of the public schools.

But most wonderful of allMcTeague began to have ambitions --very vaguevery confused ideas of something better--ideas for the most part borrowed fromTrina. Some dayperhapshe and his wife would have a house of their own. Whata dream! A little home all to themselveswith six rooms and a bathwith agrass plat in front and calla-lilies. Then there would be children. He wouldhave a sonwhose name would be Danielwho would go to High Schooland perhapsturn out to be a prosperous plumber or house painter. Then this son Daniel wouldmarry a wifeand they would all live together in that six-room-and-bath house;Daniel would have little children. McTeague would grow old among them all. Thedentist saw himself as a venerable patriarch surrounded by children andgrandchildren.

So the winter passed. It was a season of great happiness for the McTeagues;the new life jostled itself into its grooves. A routine began.

On weekdays they rose at half-past sixbeing awakened by the boy who broughtthe bottled milkand who had instructions to pound upon the bedroom door inpassing. Trina made breakfast--coffeebacon and eggsand a roll of Viennabread from the bakery. The breakfast was eaten in the kitchenon the round dealtable covered with the shiny oilcloth table-spread tacked on. After breakfastthe dentist immediately betook himself to his "Parlors" to meet hisearly morning appointments--those made with the clerks and shop girls whostopped in for half an hour on their way to their work.

Trinameanwhilebusied herself about the suiteclearing away thebreakfastsponging off the oilcloth table-spreadmaking the bedpotteringabout with a broom or duster or cleaning rag. Towards ten o'clock she opened thewindows to air the roomsthen put on her drab jackether little round turbanwith its red wingtook the butcher's and grocer's books from the knife basketin the drawer of the kitchen tableand descended to the streetwhere she spenta delicious hour--now in the huge market across the waynow in the grocer'sstore with its fragrant aroma of coffee and spicesand now before the countersof the haberdasher'sintent on a bit of shoppingturning over ends of veilingstrips of elasticor slivers of whalebone. On the street she rubbed elbows withthe great ladies of the avenue in their beautiful dressesor at intervals shemet an acquaintance or two--Miss Bakeror Heise's lame wifeor Mrs. Ryer. Attimes she passed the flat and looked up at the windows of her homemarked bythe huge golden molar that projectedflashingfrom the bay window of the"Parlors." She saw the open windows of the sitting-roomtheNottingham lace curtains stirring and billowing in the draftand she caughtsight of Maria Macapa's towelled head as the Mexican maid-of-all-work went toand fro in the suitesweeping or carrying away the ashes. Occasionally in thewindows of the "Parlors" she beheld McTeague's rounded back as he bentto his work. Sometimeseventhey saw each other and waved their hands gayly inrecognition.

By eleven o'clock Trina returned to the flather brown net reticule--onceher mother's--full of parcels. At once she set about getting lunch--sausagesperhapswith mashed potatoes; or last evening's joint warmed over or made intoa stew; chocolatewhich Trina adoredand a side dish or two --a salted herringor a couple of artichokes or a salad. At half-past twelve the dentist came infrom the "Parlors" bringing with him the smell of creosote and ofether. They sat down to lunch in the sitting-room. They told each other of theirdoings throughout the forenoon; Trina showed her purchasesMcTeague recountedthe progress of an operation. At one o'clock they separatedthe dentistreturning to the "Parlors" Trina settling to her work on the Noah'sark animals. At about three o'clock she put this work awayand for the rest ofthe afternoon was variously occupied--sometimes it was the mendingsometimesthe washsometimes new curtains to be put upor a bit of carpet to be tackeddownor a letter to be writtenor a visit-- generally to Miss Baker--to bereturned. Towards five o'clock the old woman whom they had hired for thatpurpose came to cook supperfor even Trina was not equal to the task ofpreparing three meals a day.

This woman was Frenchand was known to the flat as Augustineno one takingenough interest in her to inquire for her last name; all that was known of herwas that she was a decayed French laundressmiserably poorher trade longsince ruined by Chinese competition. Augustine cooked wellbut she wasotherwise undesirableand Trina lost patience with her at every moment. The oldFrench woman's most marked characteristic was her timidity. Trina could scarcelyaddress her a simple direction without Augustine quailing and shrinking; areproofhowever gentlethrew her into an agony of confusion; while Trina'sanger promptly reduced her to a state of nervous collapsewherein she lost allpower of speechwhile her head began to bob and nod with an incontrollabletwitching of the musclesmuch like the oscillations of the head of a toydonkey. Her timidity was exasperatingher very presence in the room unstrungthe nerveswhile her morbid eagerness to avoid offence only served to developin her a clumsiness that was at times beyond belief. More than once Trina haddecided that she could no longer put up with Augustine but each time she hadretained her as she reflected upon her admirably cooked cabbage soups andtapioca puddingsand--which in Trina's eyes was her chiefestrecommendation--the pittance for which she was contented to work.

Augustine had a husband. He was a spirit-medium--a "professor." Attimes he held seances in the larger rooms of the flatplaying vigorously upon amouth-organ and invoking a familiar whom he called "Edna" and whom heasserted was an Indian maiden.

The evening was a period of relaxation for Trina and McTeague. They hadsupper at sixafter which McTeague smoked his pipe and read the papers for halfan hourwhile Trina and Augustine cleared away the table and washed the dishes.Thenas often as notthey went out together. One of their amusements was to go"down town" after dark and promenade Market and Kearney Streets. Itwas very gay; a great many others were promenading there also. All of the storeswere brilliantly lighted and many of them still open. They walked aboutaimlesslylooking into the shop windows. Trina would take McTeague's armandhevery much embarrassed at thatwould thrust both hands into his pockets andpretend not to notice. They stopped before the jewellers' and milliners'windowsfinding a great delight in picking out things for each othersayinghow they would choose this and that if they were rich. Trina did most of thetalking. McTeague merely approving by a growl or a movement of the head orshoulders; she was interested in the displays of some of the cheaper storesbuthe found an irresistible charm in an enormous golden molar with four prongs thathung at a corner of Kearney Street. Sometimes they would look at Mars or at themoon through the street telescopes or sit for a time in the rotunda of a vastdepartment store where a band played every evening.

Occasionally they met Heise the harness-maker and his wifewith whom theyhad become acquainted. Then the evening was concluded by a four-cornered partyin the Luxembourga quiet German restaurant under a theatre. Trina had a tamaleand a glass of beerMrs. Heise (who was a decayed writing teacher) ate saladswith glasses of grenadine and currant syrups. Heise drank cocktails and whiskeystraightand urged the dentist to join him. But McTeague was obstinateshakinghis head. "I can't drink that stuff" he said. "It don't agreewith mesomehow; I go kinda crazy after two glasses." So he gorged himselfwith beer and frankfurter sausages plastered with German mustard.

When the annual Mechanic's Fair openedMcTeague and Trina often spent theirevenings therestudying the exhibits carefully (since in Trina's estimationeducation meant knowing things and being able to talk about them). Wearying ofthis they would go up into the galleryandleaning overlook down into thehuge amphitheatre full of light and color and movement.

There rose to them the vast shuffling noise of thousands of feet and asubdued roar of conversation like the sound of a great mill. Mingled with thiswas the purring of distant machinerythe splashing of a temporary fountainandthe rhythmic jangling of a brass bandwhile in the piano exhibit a hiredperformer was playing upon a concert grand with a great flourish. Nearer at handthey could catch ends of conversation and notes of laughterthe noise of movingdressesand the rustle of stiffly starched skirts. Here and there schoolchildren elbowed their way through the crowdcrying shrillytheir hands fullof advertisement pamphletsfanspicture cardsand toy whipswhile the airitself was full of the smell of fresh popcorn.

They even spent some time in the art gallery. Trina's cousin Selinawho gavelessons in hand painting at two bits an hourgenerally had an exhibit on thewallswhich they were interested to find. It usually was a bunch of yellowpoppies painted on black velvet and framed in gilt. They stood before it somelittle timehazarding their opinionsand then moved on slowly from one pictureto another. Trina had McTeague buy a catalogue and made a duty of finding thetitle of every picture. Thistooshe told McTeagueas a kind of education oneought to cultivate. Trina professed to be fond of arthaving perhaps acquired ataste for painting and sculpture from her experience with the Noah's arkanimals.

"Of course" she told the dentist"I'm no criticI only knowwhat I like." She knew that she liked the "Ideal Heads" lovelygirls with flowing straw-colored hair and immenseupturned eyes. These alwayshad for title"Reverie" or "An Idyll" or "Dreams ofLove."

"I think those are lovelydon't youMac?" she said.

"Yesyes" answered McTeaguenodding his headbewilderedtryingto understand. "Yesyeslovelythat's the word. Are you dead sure nowTrinathat all that's hand-painted just like the poppies?"

Thus the winter passeda year went bythen two. The little life of PolkStreetthe life of small tradersdrug clerksgrocersstationersplumbersdentistsdoctorsspirit-mediumsand the likeran on monotonously in itsaccustomed grooves. The first three years of their married life wrought littlechange in the fortunes of the McTeagues. In the third summer the branchpost-office was moved from the ground floor of the flat to a corner farther upthe street in order to be near the cable line that ran mail cars. Its place wastaken by a German salooncalled a "Wein Stube" in the face of theprotests of every female lodger. A few months later quite a little flurry ofexcitement ran through the street on the occasion of "The Polk Street OpenAir Festival" organized to celebrate the introduction there of electriclights. The festival lasted three days and was quite an affair. The street wasgarlanded with yellow and white bunting; there were processions and"floats" and brass bands. Marcus Schouler was in his element duringthe whole time of the celebration. He was one of the marshals of the paradeandwas to be seen at every hour of the daywearing a borrowed high hat and cottonglovesand galloping a broken-down cab-horse over the cobbles. He carried abaton covered with yellow and white calicowith which he made furious passesand gestures. His voice was soon reduced to a whisper by continued shoutingandhe raged and fretted over trifles till he wore himself thin. McTeague wasdisgusted with him. As often as Marcus passed the window of the flat the dentistwould mutter:

"Ahyou think you're smartdon't you?"

The result of the festival was the organizing of a body known as the"Polk Street Improvement Club" of which Marcus was elected secretary.McTeague and Trina often heard of him in this capacity through Heise theharness-maker. Marcus had evidently come to have political aspirations. Itappeared that he was gaining a reputation as a maker of speechesdelivered withfiery emphasisand occasionally reprinted in the "Progress" theorgan of the club-- "outraged constituencies" "opinions warpedby personal bias" "eyes blinded by party prejudice" etc.

Of her familyTrina heard every fortnight in letters from her mother. Theupholstery business which Mr. Sieppe had bought was doing poorlyand Mrs.Sieppe bewailed the day she had ever left B Street. Mr. Sieppe was losing moneyevery month. Owgoostewho was to have gone to schoolhad been forced to go towork in "the store" picking waste. Mrs. Sieppe was obliged to take alodger or two. Affairs were in a very bad way. Occasionally she spoke of Marcus.Mr. Sieppe had not forgotten him despite his own troublesbut still had an eyeout for some one whom Marcus could "go in with" on a ranch.

It was toward the end of this period of three years that Trina and McTeaguehad their first serious quarrel. Trina had talked so much about having a littlehouse of their own at some future daythat McTeague had at length come toregard the affair as the end and object of all their labors. For a long timethey had had their eyes upon one house in particular. It was situated on a crossstreet close bybetween Polk Street and the great avenue one block aboveandhardly a Sunday afternoon passed that Trina and McTeague did not go and look atit. They stood for fully half an hour upon the other side of the streetexamining every detail of its exteriorhazarding guesses as to the arrangementof the roomscommenting upon its immediate neighborhood--which was rathersordid. The house was a wooden two-story arrangementbuilt by a misguidedcontractor in a sort of hideous Queen Anne styleall scrolls and meaninglessmill workwith a cheap imitation of stained glass in the light over the door.There was a microscopic front yard full of dusty calla-lilies. The front doorboasted an electric bell. But for the McTeagues it was an ideal home. Their ideawas to live in this little housethe dentist retaining merely his office in theflat. The two places were but around the corner from each otherso thatMcTeague could lunch with his wifeas usualand could even keep his earlymorning appointments and return to breakfast if he so desired.

Howeverthe house was occupied. A Hungarian family lived in it. The fatherkept a stationery and notion "bazaar" next to Heise's harness-shop onPolk Streetwhile the oldest son played a third violin in the orchestra of atheatre. The family rented the house unfurnished for thirty-five dollarspayingextra for the water.

But one Sunday as Trina and McTeague on their way home from their usual walkturned into the cross street on which the little house was situatedthey becamepromptly aware of an unwonted bustle going on upon the sidewalk in front of it.A dray was back against the curban express wagon drove away loaded withfurniture; bedsteadslooking-glassesand washbowls littered the sidewalks. TheHungarian family were moving out.

"OhMaclook!" gasped Trina.

"Suresure" muttered the dentist.

After that they spoke but little. For upwards of an hour the two stood uponthe sidewalk oppositewatching intently all that went forwardabsorbedexcited.

On the evening of the next day they returned and visited the housefinding agreat delight in going from room to room and imagining themselves installedtherein. Here would be the bedroomhere the dining-roomhere a charming littleparlor. As they came out upon the front steps once more they met the owneranenormousred-faced fellowso fat that his walking seemed merely a certainmovement of his feet by which he pushed his stomach along in front of him. Trinatalked with him a few momentsbut arrived at no understandingand the two wentaway after giving him their address. At supper that night McTeague said:

"Huh--what do you thinkTrina?"

Trina put her chin in the airtilting back her heavy tiara of swarthy hair.

"I am not so sure yet. Thirty-five dollars and the water extra. I don'tthink we can afford itMac."

"Ahpshaw!" growled the dentist"sure we can."

"It isn't only that" said Trina"but it'll cost so much tomake the change."

"Ahyou talk's though we were paupers. Ain't we got five thousanddollars?"

Trina flushed on the instanteven to the lobes of her tiny pale earsandput her lips together.

"NowMacyou know I don't want you should talk like that. That money'snevernever to be touched."

"And you've been savun up a good dealbesides" went on McTeagueexasperated at Trina's persistent economies. "How much money have you gotin that little brass match-safe in the bottom of your trunk? Pretty near ahundred dollarsI guess--ahsure." He shut his eyes and nodded his greathead in a knowing way.

Trina had more than that in the brass match-safe in questionbut herinstinct of hoarding had led her to keep it a secret from her husband. Now shelied to him with prompt fluency.

"A hundred dollars! What are you talking ofMac? I've not got fifty.I've not got THIRTY."

"Ohlet's take that little house" broke in McTeague. "We gotthe chance nowand it may never come again. Come onTrinashall we? Saycomeonshall wehuh?"

"We'd have to be awful saving if we didMac."

"WellsureI say let's take it."

"I don't know" said Trinahesitating. "Wouldn't it be lovelyto have a house all to ourselves? But let's not decide until to-morrow."

The next day the owner of the house called. Trina was out at her morning'smarketing and the dentistwho had no one in the chair at the timereceived himin the "Parlors." Before he was well aware of itMcTeague hadconcluded the bargain. The owner bewildered him with a world of phrasesmadehim believe that it would be a great saving to move into the little houseandfinally offered it to him "water free."

"All rightall right" said McTeague"I'll take it."

The other immediately produced a paper.

"Wellthensuppose you sign for the first month's rentand we'll callit a bargain. That's businessyou know" and McTeaguehesitatingsigned.

"I'd like to have talked more with my wife about it first" hesaiddubiously.

"Ohthat's all right" answered the ownereasily. "I guessif the head of the family wants a thingthat's enough."

McTeague could not wait until lunch time to tell the news to Trina. As soonas he heard her come inhe laid down the plaster-of-paris mould he was makingand went out into the kitchen and found her chopping up onions.

"WellTrina" he said"we got that house. I've takenit."

"What do you mean?" she answeredquickly. The dentist told her.

"And you signed a paper for the first month's rent?"

"Suresure. That's businessyou know."

"Wellwhy did you DO it?" cried Trina. "You might have askedME something about it. Nowwhat have you done? I was talking with Mrs. Ryerabout that house while I was out this morningand she said the Hungarians movedout because it was absolutely unhealthy; there's water been standing in thebasement for months. And she told metoo" Trina went on indignantly"that she knew the ownerand she was sure we could get the house forthirty if we'd bargain for it. Now what have you gone and done? I hadn't made upmy mind about taking the house at all. And now I WON'T take itwith the waterin the basement and all."

"Well--well" stammered McTeaguehelplessly"we needn't goin if it's unhealthy."

"But you've signed a PAPER" cried Trinaexasperated. "You'vegot to pay that first month's rentanyhow--to forfeit it. Ohyou are sostupid! There's thirty- five dollars just thrown away. I SHAN'T go into thathouse; we won't move a FOOT out of here. I've changed my mind about itandthere's water in the basement besides."

"WellI guess we can stand thirty-five dollars" mumbled thedentist"if we've got to."

"Thirty-five dollars just thrown out of the window" cried Trinaher teeth clickingevery instinct of her parsimony aroused. "Ohyou thethick-wittedest man that I ever knew. Do you think we're millionaires? Ohtothink of losing thirty-five dollars like that." Tears were in her eyestears of grief as well as of anger. Never had McTeague seen his little woman soaroused. Suddenly she rose to her feet and slammed the chopping-bowl down uponthe table. "WellI won't pay a nickel of it" she exclaimed.

"Huh? Whatwhat?" stammered the dentisttaken all aback by heroutburst.

"I say that you will find that moneythat thirty-five dollarsyourself."

"Why--why----"

"It's your stupidity got us into this fixand you'll be the one that'llsuffer by it."

"I can't do itI WON'T do it. We'll--we'll share and share alike. Whyyou said--you told me you'd take the house if the water was free."

"I NEVER did. I NEVER did. How can you stand there and say such athing?"

"You did tell me that" vociferated McTeaguebeginning to getangry in his turn.

"MacI didn'tand you know it. And what's moreI won't pay a nickel.Mr. Heise pays his bill next weekit's forty-three dollarsand you can justpay the thirty-five out of that."

"Whyyou got a whole hundred dollars saved up in your match-safe"shouted the dentistthrowing out an arm with an awkward gesture. "You payhalf and I'll pay halfthat's only fair."

"NonoNO" exclaimed Trina. "It's not a hundred dollars.You won't touch it; you won't touch my moneyI tell you."

"Ahhow does it happen to be yoursI'd like to know?"

"It's mine! It's mine! It's mine!" cried Trinaher face scarlether teeth clicking like the snap of a closing purse.

"It ain't any more yours than it is mine."

"Every penny of it is mine."

"Ahwhat a fine fix you'd get me into" growled the dentist."I've signed the paper with the owner; that's businessyou knowthat'sbusinessyou know; and now you go back on me. Suppose we'd taken the housewe'd 'a' shared the rentwouldn't wejust as we do here?"

Trina shrugged her shoulders with a great affectation of indifference andbegan chopping the onions again.

"You settle it with the owner" she said. "It's your affair;you've got the money." She pretended to assume a certain calmness as thoughthe matter was something that no longer affected her. Her manner exasperatedMcTeague all the more.

"NoI won't; noI won't; I won't either" he shouted. "I'llpay my half and he can come to you for the other half." Trina put a handover her ear to shut out his clamor.

"Ahdon't try and be smart" cried McTeague. "Comenowyesor nowill you pay your half?"

"You heard what I said."

"Will you pay it?"

"No."

"Miser!" shouted McTeague. "Miser! you're worse than oldZerkow. All rightall rightkeep your money. I'll pay the whole thirty-five.I'd rather lose it than be such a miser as you."

"Haven't you got anything to do" returned Trina"instead ofstaying here and abusing me?"

"Wellthenfor the last timewill you help me out?" Trina cutthe heads of a fresh bunch of onions and gave no answer.

"Huh? will you?"

"I'd like to have my kitchen to myselfplease" she said in amincing wayirritating to a last degree. The dentist stamped out of the roombanging the door behind him.

For nearly a week the breach between them remained unhealed. Trina only spoketo the dentist in monosyllableswhile heexasperated at her calmness andfrigid reservesulked in his "Dental Parlors" muttering terriblethings beneath his mustacheor finding solace in his concertinaplaying hissix lugubrious airs over and over againor swearing frightful oaths at hiscanary. When Heise paid his billMcTeaguein a furysent the amount to theowner of the little house.

There was no formal reconciliation between the dentist and his little woman.Their relations readjusted themselves inevitably. By the end of the week theywere as amicable as everbut it was long before they spoke of the little houseagain. Nor did they ever revisit it of a Sunday afternoon. A month or so laterthe Ryers told them that the owner himself had moved in. The McTeagues neveroccupied that little house.

But Trina suffered a reaction after the quarrel. She began to be sorry shehad refused to help her husbandsorry she had brought matters to such an issue.One afternoon as she was at work on the Noah's ark animalsshe surprisedherself crying over the affair. She loved her "old bear" too much todo him an injusticeand perhapsafter allshe had been in the wrong. Then itoccurred to her how pretty it would be to come up behind him unexpectedlyandslip the moneythirty-five dollarsinto his handand pull his huge head downto her and kiss his bald spot as she used to do in the days before they weremarried.

Then she hesitatedpausing in her workher knife dropping into her lapahalf-whittled figure between her fingers. If not thirty-five dollarsthen atleast fifteen or sixteenher share of it. But a feeling of reluctancea

sudden revolt against this intended generosityarose in her.

"Nono" she said to herself. "I'll give him ten dollars.I'll tell him it's all I can afford. It IS all I can afford."

She hastened to finish the figure of the animal she was then at work uponputting in the ears and tail with a drop of glueand tossing it into the basketat her side. Then she rose and went into the bedroom and opened her trunktaking the key from under a corner of the carpet where she kept it hid.

At the very bottom of her trunkunder her bridal dressshe kept hersavings. It was all in change--half dollars and dollars for the most partwithhere and there a gold piece. Long since the little brass match-box hadoverflowed. Trina kept the surplus in a chamois-skin sack she had made from anold chest protector. Just nowyielding to an impulse which often seized hershe drew out the match-box and the chamois sackand emptying the contents onthe bedcounted them carefully. It came to one hundred and sixty-five dollarsall told. She counted it and recounted it and made little piles of itandrubbed the gold pieces between the folds of her apron until they shone.

"Ahyesten dollars is all I can afford to give Mac" said Trina"and even thenthink of itten dollars--it will be four or five monthsbefore I can save that again. Butdear old MacI know it would make him feelgladand perhaps" she addedsuddenly taken with an idea"perhapsMac will refuse to take it."

She took a ten-dollar piece from the heap and put the rest away. Then shepaused:

"Nonot the gold piece" she said to herself. "It's toopretty. He can have the silver." She made the change and counted out tensilver dollars into her palm. But what a difference it made in the appearanceand weight of the little chamois bag! The bag was shrunken and witheredlongwrinkles appeared running downward from the draw-string. It was a lamentablesight. Trina looked longingly at the ten broad pieces in her hand. Then suddenlyall her intuitive desire of savingher instinct of hoardingher love of moneyfor the money's sakerose strong within her.

"Nonono" she said. "I can't do it. It may be meanbut Ican't help it. It's stronger than I." She returned the money to the bag andlocked it and the brass match-box in her trunkturning the key with a longbreath of satisfaction.

She was a little troubledhoweveras she went back into the sitting-roomand took up her work.

"I didn't use to be so stingy" she told herself. "Since I wonin the lottery I've become a regular little miser. It's growing on mebut nevermindit's a good faultandanyhowI can't help it."

CHAPTER 11

On that particular morning the McTeagues had risen a half hour earlier thanusual and taken a hurried breakfast in the kitchen on the deal table with itsoilcloth cover. Trina was house-cleaning that week and had a presentiment of ahard day's work ahead of herwhile McTeague remembered a seven o'clockappointment with a little German shoemaker.

At about eight o'clockwhen the dentist had been in his office for over anhourTrina descended upon the bedrooma towel about her head and theroller-sweeper in her hand. She covered the bureau and sewing machine withsheetsand unhooked the chenille portieres between the bedroom and thesitting-room. As she was tying the Nottingham lace curtains at the window intogreat knotsshe saw old Miss Baker on the opposite sidewalk in the streetbelowand raising the sash called down to her.

"Ohit's youMrs. McTeague" cried the retired dressmakerfacingabouther head in the air. Then a long conversation was begunTrinaher armsfolded under her breasther elbows resting on the window ledgewilling to beidle for a moment; old Miss Bakerher market-basket on her armher handswrapped in the ends of her worsted shawl against the cold of the early morning.They exchanged phrasescalling to each other from window to curbtheir breathcoming from their lips in faint puffs of vaportheir voices shrilland raisedto dominate the clamor of the waking street. The newsboys had made theirappearance on the streettogether with the day laborers. The cable cars hadbegun to fill up; all along the street could be seen the shopkeepers taking downtheir shutters; some were still breakfasting. Now and then a waiter from one ofthe cheap restaurants crossed from one sidewalk to anotherbalancing on onepalm a tray covered with a napkin.

"Aren't you out pretty early this morningMiss Baker?" calledTrina.

"Nono" answered the other. "I'm always up at half-past sixbut I don't always get out so soon. I wanted to get a nice head of cabbage andsome lentils for a soupand if you don't go to market earlythe restaurantsget all the best."

"And you've been to market alreadyMiss Baker?"

"Ohmyyes; and I got a fish--a sole--see." She drew the sole inquestion from her basket.

"Ohthe lovely sole!" exclaimed Trina.

"I got this one at Spadella's; he always has good fish on Friday. How isthe doctorMrs. McTeague?"

"AhMac is always wellthank youMiss Baker."

"You knowMrs. Ryer told me" cried the little dressmakermovingforward a step out of the way of a "glass-put-in" man"thatDoctor McTeague pulled a tooth of that Catholic priestFather--ohI forget hisname--anyhowhe pulled his tooth with his fingers. Was that trueMrs.McTeague?"

"Ohof course. Mac does that almost all the time now'specially withfront teeth. He's got a regular reputation for it. He says it's brought him morepatients than even the sign I gave him" she addedpointing to the biggolden molar projecting from the office window.

"With his fingers! Nowthink of that" exclaimed Miss Bakerwagging her head. "Isn't he that strong! It's just wonderful. Cleaninghouse to-day?" she inquiredglancing at Trina's towelled head.

"Um hum" answered Trina. "Maria Macapa's coming in to helppretty soon."

At the mention of Maria's name the little old dressmaker suddenly uttered anexclamation.

"Wellif I'm not here talking to you and forgetting something I wasjust dying to tell you. Mrs. McTeaguewhat ever in the world do you suppose?Maria and old Zerkowthat red-headed Polish Jewthe rag-bottles-sacks manyouknowthey're going to be married."

"No!" cried Trinain blank amazement. "You don't meanit."

"Of course I do. Isn't it the funniest thing you ever heard of?"

"Ohtell me all about it" said Trinaleaning eagerly from thewindow. Miss Baker crossed the street and stood just beneath her.

"WellMaria came to me last night and wanted me to make her a new gownsaid she wanted something gaylike what the girls at the candy store wear whenthey go out with their young men. I couldn't tell what had got into the girluntil finally she told me she wanted something to get married inand thatZerkow had asked her to marry himand that she was going to do it. Poor Maria!I guess it's the first and only offer she ever receivedand it's just turnedher head."

"But what DO those two see in each other?" cried Trina."Zerkow is a horrorhe's an old manand his hair is red and his voice isgoneand then he's a Jewisn't he?"

"I knowI know; but it's Maria's only chance for a husbandand shedon't mean to let it pass. You know she isn't quite right in her headanyhow.I'm awfully sorry for poor Maria. But I can't see what Zerkow wants to marry herfor. It's not possible that he's in love with Mariait's out of the question.Maria hasn't a soueitherand I'm just positive that Zerkow has lots ofmoney."

"I'll bet I know why" exclaimed Trinawith sudden conviction;"yesI know just why. See hereMiss Bakeryou know how crazy old Zerkowis after money and gold and those sort of things."

"YesI know; but you know Maria hasn't----"

"Nowjust listen. You've heard Maria tell about that wonderful serviceof gold dishes she says her folks used to own in Central America; she's crazy onthat subjectdon't you know. She's all right on everything elsebut just starther on that service of gold plate and she'll talk you deaf. She can describe itjust as though she saw itand she can make you see ittooalmost. NowyouseeMaria and Zerkow have known each other pretty well. Maria goes to him everytwo weeks or so to sell him junk; they got acquainted that wayand I knowMaria's been dropping in to see him pretty often this last yearand sometimeshe comes here to see her. He's made Maria tell him the story of that plate overand over and over againand Maria does it and is glad tobecause he's the onlyone that believes it. Now he's going to marry her just so's he can hear thatstory every dayevery hour. He's pretty near as crazy on the subject as Mariais. They're a pair for youaren't they? Both crazy over a lot of gold dishesthat never existed. Perhaps Maria'll marry him because it's her only chance toget a husbandbut I'm sure it's more for the reason that she's got some one totalk to now who believes her story. Don't you think I'm right?"

"YesyesI guess you're right" admitted Miss Baker.

"But it's a queer match anyway you put it" said Trinamusingly.

"Ahyou may well say that" returned the othernodding her head.There was a silence. For a long moment the dentist's wife and the retireddressmakerthe one at the windowthe other on the sidewalkremained lost inthoughtwondering over the strangeness of the affair.

But suddenly there was a diversion. AlexanderMarcus Schouler's Irishsetterwhom his master had long since allowed the liberty of runninguntrammelled about the neighborhoodturned the corner briskly and came trottingalong the sidewalk where Miss Baker stood. At the same moment the Scotch colliewho had at one time belonged to the branch post-office issued from the side doorof a house not fifty feet away. In an instant the two enemies had recognizedeach other. They halted abruptlytheir fore feet planted rigidly. Trina uttereda little cry.

"Ohlook outMiss Baker. Those two dogs hate each other just likehumans. You best look out. They'll fight sure." Miss Baker sought safety ina nearby vestibulewhence she peered forth at the scenevery interested andcurious. Maria Macapa's head thrust itself from one of the top-story windows ofthe flatwith a shrill cry. Even McTeague's huge form appeared above the halfcurtains of the "Parlor" windowswhile over his shoulder could beseen the face of the "patient" a napkin tucked in his collartherubber dam depending from his mouth. All the flat knew of the feud between thedogsbut never before had the pair been brought face to face.

Meanwhilethe collie and the setter had drawn near to each other; five feetapart they paused as if by mutual consent. The collie turned sidewise to thesetter; the setter instantly wheeled himself flank on to the collie. Their tailsrose and stiffenedthey raised their lips over their long white fangsthenapes of their necks bristledand they showed each other the vicious whites oftheir eyeswhile they drew in their breaths with prolonged and rasping snarls.Each dog seemed to be the personification of fury and unsatisfied hate. Theybegan to circle about each other with infinite slownesswalking stiffed-leggedand upon the very points of their feet. Then they wheeled about and began tocircle in the opposite direction. Twice they repeated this motiontheir snarlsgrowing louder. But still they did not come togetherand the distance of fivefeet between them was maintained with an almost mathematical precision. It wasmagnificentbut it was not war. Then the setterpausing in his walkturnedhis head slowly from his enemy. The collie sniffed the air and pretended aninterest in an old shoe lying in the gutter. Gradually and with all the dignityof monarchs they moved away from each other. Alexander stalked back to thecorner of the street. The collie paced toward the side gate whence he hadissuedaffecting to remember something of great importance. They disappeared.Once out of sight of one another they began to bark furiously.

"WellI NEVER!" exclaimed Trina in great disgust. "The waythose two dogs have been carrying on you'd 'a' thought they would 'a' just torneach other to pieces when they had the chanceand here I'm wasting the wholemorning----" she closed her window with a bang.

"Sick 'imsick 'im" called Maria Macapain a vain attempt topromote a fight.

Old Miss Baker came out of the vestibulepursing her lipsquite put out atthe fiasco. "And after all that fuss" she said to herselfaggrievedly.

The little dressmaker bought an envelope of nasturtium seeds at theflorist'sand returned to her tiny room in the flat. But as she slowly mountedthe first flight of steps she suddenly came face to face with Old Granniswhowas coming down. It was between eight and nineand he was on his way to hislittle dog hospitalno doubt. Instantly Miss Baker was seized with trepidationher curious little false curls shooka faint--a very faint--flush came into herwithered cheeksand her heart beat so violently under the worsted shawl thatshe felt obliged to shift the market-basket to her other arm and put out herfree hand to steady herself against the rail.

On his partOld Grannis was instantly overwhelmed with confusion. Hisawkwardness seemed to paralyze his limbshis lips twitched and turned dryhishand went tremblingly to his chin. But what added to Miss Baker's miserableembarrassment on this occasion was the fact that the old Englishman should meether thuscarrying a sordid market- basket full of sordid fish and cabbage. Itseemed as if a malicious fate persisted in bringing the two old people face toface at the most inopportune moments.

Just nowhowevera veritable catastrophe occurred. The little olddressmaker changed her basket to her other arm at precisely the wrong momentand Old Grannishastening to passremoving his hat in a hurried salutationstruck it with his fore armknocking it from her graspand sending it rollingand bumping down the stairs. The sole fell flat upon the first landing; thelentils scattered themselves over the entire flight; while the cabbageleapingfrom step to stepthundered down the incline and brought up against the streetdoor with a shock that reverberated through the entire building.

The little retired dressmakerhorribly vexednervous and embarrassedwashard put to it to keep back the tears. Old Grannis stood for a moment withaverted eyesmurmuring: "OhI'm so sorryI'm so sorry. I--I really--Ibeg your pardonreally--really."

Marcus Schoulercoming down stairs from his roomsaved the situation.

"Hellopeople" he cried. "By damn! you've upset yourbasket--you havefor a fact. Herelet's pick um up." He and Old Granniswent up and down the flightgathering up the fishthe lentilsand the sadlybattered cabbage. Marcus was raging over the pusillanimity of Alexanderofwhich Maria had just told him.

"I'll cut him in two--with the whip" he shouted. "I willIwillI say I willfor a fact. He wouldn't fighthey? I'll give um all thefight he wantsnastymangy cur. If he won't fight he won't eat. I'm going toget the butcher's bull pup and I'll put um both in a bag and shake um up. Iwillfor a factand I guess Alec will fight. Come alongMister Grannis"and he took the old Englishman away.

Little Miss Baker hastened to her room and locked herself in. She was excitedand upset during all the rest of the dayand listened eagerly for Old Grannis'sreturn that evening. He went instantly to work binding up "The Breeder andSportsman" and back numbers of the "Nation." She heard himsoftly draw his chair and the table on which he had placed his little bindingapparatus close to the wall. At once she did the samebrewing herself a cup oftea. All through that evening the two old people "kept company" witheach otherafter their own peculiar fashion. "Setting out with eachother" Miss Baker had begun to call it. That they had been presentedthatthey had even been forced to talk togetherhad made no change in their relativepositions. Almost immediately they had fallen back into their old ways againquite unable to master their timidityto overcome the stifling embarrassmentthat seized upon them when in each other's presence. It was a sort of hypnotisma thing stronger than themselves. But they were not altogether dissatisfied withthe way things had come to be. It was their little romancetheir lastand theywere living through it with supreme enjoyment and calm contentment.

Marcus Schouler still occupied his old room on the floor above the McTeagues.They saw but little of himhowever. At long intervals the dentist or his wifemet him on the stairs of the flat. Sometimes he would stop and talk with Trinainquiring after the Sieppesasking her if Mr. Sieppe had yet heard of any onewith whom heMarcuscould "go in with on a ranch." McTeagueMarcusmerely nodded to. Never had the quarrel between the two men been completelypatched up. It did not seem possible to the dentist now that Marcus had everbeen his "pal" that they had ever taken long walks together. He wassorry that he had treated Marcus gratis for an ulcerated toothwhile Marcusdaily recalled the fact that he had given up his "girl" to hisfriend--the girl who had won a fortune--as the great mistake of his life. Onlyonce since the wedding had he called upon Trinaat a time when he knew McTeaguewould be out. Trina had shown him through the rooms and had told himinnocentlyenoughhow gay was their life there. Marcus had come away fairly sick withenvy; his rancor against the dentist--and against himselffor that matter--knewno bounds. "And you might 'a' had it all yourselfMarcus Schouler"he muttered to himself on the stairs. "You mushheadyou damn fool!"

MeanwhileMarcus was becoming involved in the politics of his ward. Assecretary of the Polk Street Improvement Club --which soon developed into quitean affair and began to assume the proportions of a Republican politicalmachine--he found he could make a littlea very little more than enough to liveon. At once he had given up his position as Old Grannis's assistant in the doghospital. Marcus felt that he needed a wider sphere. He had his eye upon a placeconnected with the city pound. When the great railroad strike occurredhepromptly got himself engaged as deputy- sheriffand spent a memorable week inSacramentowhere he involved himself in more than one terrible melee with thestrikers. Marcus had that quickness of temper and passionate readiness to takeoffence which passes among his class for bravery. But whatever were his motiveshis promptness to face danger could not for a moment be doubted. After thestrike he returned to Polk Streetand throwing himself into the ImprovementClubheartsouland bodysoon became one of its ruling spirits. In a certainlocal electionwhere a huge paving contract was at stakethe club made itselffelt in the wardand Marcus so managed his cards and pulled his wires thatatthe end of the matterhe found himself some four hundred dollars to the good.

When McTeague came out of his "Parlors" at noon of the day uponwhich Trina had heard the news of Maria Macapa's intended marriagehe foundTrina burning coffee on a shovel in the sitting-room. Try as she wouldTrinacould never quite eradicate from their rooms a certain faint and indefinableodorparticularly offensive to her. The smell of the photographer's chemicalspersisted in spite of all Trina could do to combat it. She burnt pastilles andChinese punkand evenas nowcoffee on a shovelall to no purpose. Indeedthe only drawback to their delightful home was the general unpleasant smell thatpervaded it--a smell that arose partly from the photographer's chemicalspartlyfrom the cooking in the little kitchenand partly from the ether and creosoteof the dentist's "Parlors."

As McTeague came in to lunch on this occasionhe found the table alreadylaida red cloth figured with white flowers was spreadand as he took his seathis wife put down the shovel on a chair and brought in the stewed codfish andthe pot of chocolate. As he tucked his napkin into his enormous collarMcTeaguelooked vaguely about the roomrolling his eyes.

During the three years of their married life the McTeagues had made but fewadditions to their furnitureTrina declaring that they could not afford it. Thesitting- room could boast of but three new ornaments. Over the melodeon hungtheir marriage certificate in a black frame. It was balanced upon one side byTrina's wedding bouquet under a glass casepreserved by some fearful unknownprocessand upon the other by the photograph of Trina and the dentist in theirwedding finery. This latter picture was quite an affairand had been takenimmediately after the weddingwhile McTeague's broadcloth was still newandbefore Trina's silks and veil had lost their stiffness. It represented Trinaher veil thrown backsitting very straight in a rep armchairher elbows wellin at her sidesholding her bouquet of cut flowers directly before her. Thedentist stood at her sideone hand on her shoulderthe other thrust into thebreast of his "Prince Albert" his chin in the airhis eyes to onesidehis left foot forward in the attitude of a statue of a Secretary of State.

"SayTrina" said McTeaguehis mouth full of codfish"Heiselooked in on me this morning. He says 'What's the matter with a basket picnicover at Schuetzen Park next Tuesday?' You know the paper-hangers are going to bein the "Parlors" all that dayso I'll have a holiday. That's whatmade Heise think of it. Heise says he'll get the Ryers to go too. It's theanniversary of their wedding day. We'll ask Selina to go; she can meet us on theother side. Come onlet's gohuhwill you?"

Trina still had her mania for family picnicswhich had been one of theSieppes most cherished customs; but now there were other considerations.

"I don't know as we can afford it this monthMac" she saidpouring the chocolate. "I got to pay the gas bill next weekand there'sthe papering of your office to be paid for some time."

"I knowI know" answered her husband. "But I got a newpatient this weekhad two molars and an upper incisor filled at the very firstsittingand he's going to bring his children round. He's a barber on the nextblock."

"Well you pay halfthen" said Trina. "It'll cost three orfour dollars at the very least; and mindthe Heises pay their own fare bothwaysMacand everybody gets their OWN lunch. Yes" she addedafter apause"I'll write and have Selina join us. I haven't seen Selina inmonths. I guess I'll have to put up a lunch for herthough" admittedTrina"the way we did last timebecause she lives in a boarding-housenowand they make a fuss about putting up a lunch."

They could count on pleasant weather at this time of the year--it wasMay--and that particular Tuesday was all that could be desired. The partyassembled at the ferry slip at nine o'clockladen with baskets. The McTeaguescame last of all; Ryer and his wife had already boarded the boat. They met theHeises in the waiting-room.

"HelloDoctor" cried the harness-maker as the McTeagues came up."This is what you'd call an old folks' picnicall married people thistime."

The party foregathered on the upper deck as the boat startedand sat down tolisten to the band of Italian musicians who were playing outside this morningbecause of the fineness of the weather.

"Ohwe're going to have lots of fun" cried Trina. "If it'sanything I do love it's a picnic. Do you remember our first picnicMac?"

"Suresure" replied the dentist; "we had a Gothatruffle."

"And August lost his steamboatput in Trina"and papa smackedhim. I remember it just as well."

"Whylook there" said Mrs. Heisenodding at a figure coming upthe companion-way. "Ain't that Mr. Schouler?"

It was Marcussure enough. As he caught sight of the party he gaped at thema moment in blank astonishmentand then ran uphis eyes wide.

"Wellby damn!" he exclaimedexcitedly. "What's up? Whereyou all goinganyhow? Sayain't ut queer we should all run up against eachother like this?" He made great sweeping bows to the three womenand shookhands with "Cousin Trina" addingas he turned to the men of theparty"Glad to see youMister Heise. How doMister Ryer?" Thedentistwho had formulated some sort of reserved greetinghe ignoredcompletely. McTeague settled himself in his seatgrowling inarticulately behindhis mustache.

"Saysaywhat's all upanyhow?" cried Marcus again.

"It's a picnic" exclaimed the three womenall speaking at once;and Trina added"We're going over to the same old Schuetzen Park again.But you're all fixed up yourselfCousin Mark; you look as though you were goingsomewhere yourself."

In factMarcus was dressed with great care. He wore a new pair of slate-bluetrousersa black "cutaway" and a white lawn "tie" (for himthe symbol of the height of elegance). He carried also his canea thin wand ofebony with a gold headpresented to him by the Improvement Club in"recognition of services."

"That's rightthat's right" said Marcuswith a grin. "I'mtakun a holiday myself to-day. I had a bit of business to do over at Oaklandan' I thought I'd go up to B Street afterward and see Selina. I haven't calledon----"

But the party uttered an exclamation.

"WhySelina is going with us."

"She's going to meet us at the Schuetzen Park station" explainedTrina.

Marcus's business in Oakland was a fiction. He was crossing the bay thatmorning solely to see Selina. Marcus had "taken up with" Selina alittle after Trina had marriedand had been "rushing" her ever sincedazzled and attracted by her accomplishmentsfor which he pretended a greatrespect. At the prospect of missing Selina on this occasionhe was genuinelydisappointed. His vexation at once assumed the form of exasperation againstMcTeague. It was all the dentist's fault. AhMcTeague was coming between himand Selina now as he had come between him and Trina. Best look outby damn! howhe monkeyed with him now. Instantly his face flamed and he glanced overfuriously at the dentistwhocatching his eyebegan again to mutter behindhis mustache.

"Wellsay" began Mrs. Ryerwith some hesitationlooking to Ryerfor approval"why can't Marcus come along with us?"

"Whyof course" exclaimed Mrs. Heisedisregarding her husband'svigorous nudges. "I guess we got lunch enough to go roundall right; don'tyou say soMrs. McTeague?"

Thus appealed toTrina could only concur.

"Whyof courseCousin Mark" she said; "of coursecomealong with us if you want to."

"Whyyou bet I will" cried Marcusenthusiastic in an instant."Saythis is outa sight; it isfor a fact; a picnic--ahsure--and we'llmeet Selina at the station."

Just as the boat was passing Goat Islandthe harness-maker proposed that themen of the party should go down to the bar on the lower deck and shake for thedrinks. The idea had an immediate success.

"Have to see you on that" said Ryer.

"By damnwe'll have a drink! Yessirwe willfor a fact."

"Suresuredrinksthat's the word."

At the bar Heise and Ryer ordered cocktailsMarcus called for a "cremeYvette" in order to astonish the others. The dentist spoke for a glass ofbeer.

"Saylook here" suddenly exclaimed Heise as they took theirglasses. "Look hereyou fellahs" he had turned to Marcus and thedentist. "You two fellahs have had a grouch at each other for the last yearor so; now what's the matter with your shaking hands and calling quits?"

McTeague was at once overcome with a great feeling of magnanimity. He put outhis great hand.

"I got nothing against Marcus" he growled.

"WellI don't care if I shake" admitted Marcusa littleshamefacedlyas their palms touched. "I guess that's all right."

"That's the idea" exclaimed Heisedelighted at his success."Come onboysnow let's drink." Their elbows crooked and they dranksilently.

Their picnic that day was very jolly. Nothing had changed at Schuetzen Parksince the day of that other memorable Sieppe picnic four years previous. Afterlunch the men took themselves off to the rifle rangewhile SelinaTrinaandthe other two women put away the dishes. An hour later the men joined them ingreat spirits. Ryer had won the impromptu match which they had arrangedmakingquite a wonderful scorewhich included three clean bulls' eyeswhile McTeaguehad not been able even to hit the target itself.

Their shooting match had awakened a spirit of rivalry in the menand therest of the afternoon was passed in athletic exercises between them. The womensat on the slope of the grasstheir hats and gloves laid asidewatching themen as they strove together. Aroused by the little feminine cries of wonder andthe clapping of their ungloved palmsthese latter began to show off at once.They took off their coats and vestseven their neckties and collarsand workedthemselves into a lather of perspiration for the sake of making an impression ontheir wives. They ran hundred-yard sprints on the cinder path and executedclumsy feats on the rings and on the parallel bars. They even found a huge roundstone on the beach and "put the shot" for a while. As long as it was aquestion of agilityMarcus was easily the best of the four; but the dentist'senormous strengthhis crudeuntutored brute forcewas a matter of wonder forthe entire party. McTeague cracked English walnuts--taken from the lunchbaskets--in the hollow of his armand tossed the round stone a full five feetbeyond their best mark. Heise believed himself to be particularly strong in thewristsbut the dentistusing but one handtwisted a cane out of Heise's twowith a wrench that all but sprained the harness- maker's arm. Then the dentistraised weights and chinned himself on the rings till they thought he would nevertire.

His great success quite turned his head; he strutted back and forth in frontof the womenhis chest thrown outand his great mouth perpetually expanded ina triumphant grin. As he felt his strength more and morehe began to abuse it;he domineered over the othersgripping suddenly at their arms till theysquirmed with painand slapping Marcus on the back so that he gasped and gaggedfor breath. The childish vanity of the great fellow was as undisguised as thatof a schoolboy. He began to tell of wonderful feats of strength he hadaccomplished when he was a young man. Whyat one time he had knocked down ahalf-grown heifer with a blow of his fist between the eyessureand the heiferhad just stiffened out and trembled all over and died without getting up.

McTeague told this story againand yet again. All through the afternoon hecould be overheard relating the wonder to any one who would listenexaggeratingthe effect of his blowinventing terrific details. Whythe heifer had justfrothed at the mouthand his eyes had rolled up--ahsurehis eyes rolled upjust like that--and the butcher had said his skull was all mashed in--just allmashed insurethat's the word--just as if from a sledge-hammer.

Notwithstanding his reconciliation with the dentist on the boatMarcus'sgorge rose within him at McTeague's boasting swagger. When McTeague had slappedhim on the backMarcus had retired to some little distance while he recoveredhis breathand glared at the dentist fiercely as he strode up and downglorying in the admiring glances of the women.

"Ahone-horse dentist" he muttered between his teeth. "Ahzinc-pluggercow-killerI'd like to show you onceyou overgrown muckeryou--you--COW-KILLER!"

When he rejoined the grouphe found them preparing for a wrestling bout.

"I tell you what" said Heise"we'll have a tournament.Marcus and I will rastleand Doc and Ryerand then the winners will rastleeach other."

The women clapped their hands excitedly. This would be exciting. Trina cried:

"Better let me hold your moneyMacand your keysso as you won't losethem out of your pockets." The men gave their valuables into the keeping oftheir wives and promptly set to work.

The dentist thrust Ryer down without even changing his grip; Marcus and theharness-maker struggled together for a few moments till Heise all at onceslipped on a bit of turf and fell backwards. As they toppled over togetherMarcus writhed himself from under his opponentandas they reached the groundforced down first one shoulder and then the other.

"All rightall right" panted the harness-makergood- naturedly"I'm down. It's up to you and Doc now" he addedas he got to hisfeet.

The match between McTeague and Marcus promised to be interesting. Thedentistof coursehad an enormous advantage in point of strengthbut Marcusprided himself on his wrestlingand knew something about strangle-holds andhalf-Nelsons. The men drew back to allow them a free space as they faced eachotherwhile Trina and the other women rose to their feet in their excitement.

"I bet Mac will throw himall the same" said Trina.

"All ready!" cried Ryer.

The dentist and Marcus stepped forwardeyeing each other cautiously. Theycircled around the impromptu ring. Marcus watching eagerly for an opening. Heground his teethtelling himself he would throw McTeague if it killed him. Ahhe'd show him now. Suddenly the two men caught at each other; Marcus went to hisknees. The dentist threw his vast bulk on his adversary's shoulders andthrusting a huge palm against his facepushed him backwards and downwards. Itwas out of the question to resist that enormous strength. Marcus wrenchedhimself over and fell face downward on the ground.

McTeague rose on the instant with a great laugh of exultation.

"You're down!" he exclaimed.

Marcus leaped to his feet.

"Down nothing" he vociferatedwith clenched fists. "Downnothingby damn! You got to throw me so's my shoulders touch.

McTeague was stalking aboutswelling with pride.

"Hohyou're down. I threw you. Didn't I throw himTrina? Hohyoucan't rastle ME."

Marcus capered with rage.

"You didn't! you didn't! you didn't! and you can't! You got to give meanother try."

The other men came crowding up. Everybody was talking at once.

"He's right."

"You didn't throw him."

"Both his shoulders at the same time."

Trina clapped and waved her hand at McTeague from where she stood on thelittle slope of lawn above the wrestlers. Marcus broke through the groupshaking all over with excitement and rage.

"I tell you that ain't the WAY to rastle. You've got to throw a man so'shis shoulders touch. You got to give me another bout."

"That's straight" put in Heise"both his shoulders down atthe same time. Try it again. You and Schouler have another try."

McTeague was bewildered by so much simultaneous talk. He could not make outwhat it was all about. Could he have offended Marcus again?

"What? What? Huh? What is it?" he exclaimed in perplexitylookingfrom one to the other.

"Come onyou must rastle me again" shouted Marcus.

"Suresure" cried the dentist. "I'll rastle you again. I'llrastle everybody" he criedsuddenly struck with an idea. Trina looked onin some apprehension.

"Mark gets so mad" she saidhalf aloud.

"Yes" admitted Selina. "Mister Schouler's got an awful quicktemperbut he ain't afraid of anything."

"All ready!" shouted Ryer.

This time Marcus was more careful. Twiceas McTeague rushed at himheslipped cleverly away. But as the dentist came in a third timewith his headbowedMarcusraising himself to his full heightcaught him with both armsaround the neck. The dentist gripped at him and rent away the sleeve of hisshirt. There was a great laugh.

"Keep your shirt on" cried Mrs. Ryer.

The two men were grappling at each other wildly. The party could hear thempanting and grunting as they labored and struggled. Their boots tore up greatclods of turf. Suddenly they came to the ground with a tremendous shock. Buteven as they were in the act of fallingMarcuslike a very eelwrithed in thedentist's clasp and fell upon his side. McTeague crashed down upon him like thecollapse of a felled ox.

"Nowyou gotta turn him on his back" shouted Heise to thedentist. "He ain't down if you don't."

With his huge salient chin digging into Marcus's shoulderthe dentist heavedand tugged. His face was flaminghis huge shock of yellow hair fell over hisforeheadmatted with sweat. Marcus began to yield despite his frantic efforts.One shoulder was downnow the other began to go; graduallygradually it wasforced over. The little audience held its breath in the suspense of the moment.Selina broke the silencecalling out shrilly:

"Ain't Doctor McTeague just that strong!"

Marcus heard itand his fury came instantly to a head. Rage at his defeat atthe hands of the dentist and before Selina's eyesthe hate he still bore hisold-time "pal" and the impotent wrath of his own powerlessness weresuddenly unleashed.

"God damn you! get off of me" he cried under his breathspittingthe words as a snake spits its venom. The little audience uttered a cry. Withthe oath Marcus had twisted his head and had bitten through the lobe of thedentist's ear. There was a sudden flash of bright-red blood.

Then followed a terrible scene. The brute that in McTeague lay so close tothe surface leaped instantly to lifemonstrousnot to be resisted. He sprangto his feet with a shrill and meaningless clamortotally unlike the ordinarybass of his speaking tones. It was the hideous yelling of a hurt beastthesquealing of a wounded elephant. He framed no words; in the rush of high-pitchedsound that issued from his wide-open mouth there was nothing articulate. It wassomething no longer human; it was rather an echo from the jungle.

Sluggish enough and slow to anger on ordinary occasionsMcTeague whenfinally aroused became another man. His rage was a kind of obsessionan evilmaniathe drunkenness of passionthe exalted and perverted fury of theBerserkerblind and deafa thing insensate.

As he rose he caught Marcus's wrist in both his hands. He did not strikehedid not know what he was doing. His only idea was to batter the life out of theman before himto crush and annihilate him upon the instant. Gripping his enemyin his enormous handshard and knottedand covered with a stiff fell of yellowhair--the hands of the old-time car-boy--he swung him wideas a hammer-throwerswings his hammer. Marcus's feet flipped from the groundhe spun through theair about McTeague as helpless as a bundle of clothes. All at once there was asharp snapalmost like the report of a small pistol. Then Marcus rolled overand over upon the ground as McTeague released his grip; his armthe one thedentist had seizedbending suddenlyas though a third joint had formed betweenwrist and elbow. The arm was broken.

But by this time every one was crying out at once. Heise and Ryan ran inbetween the two men. Selina turned her head away. Trina was wringing her handsand crying in an agony of dread:

"Ohstop themstop them! Don't let them fight. Ohit's tooawful."

"HerehereDocquit. Don't make a fool of yourself" criedHeiseclinging to the dentist. "That's enough now. LISTEN to mewillyou?"

"OhMacMac" cried Trinarunning to her husband. "Macdearlisten; it's meit's Trinalook at meyou----"

"Get hold of his other armwill youRyer?" panted Heise."Quick!"

"MacMac" cried Trinaher arms about his neck.

"For God's sakehold upDocwill you?" shouted theharness-maker. "You don't want to kill himdo you?"

Mrs. Ryer and Heise's lame wife were filling the air with their outcries.Selina was giggling with hysteria. Marcusterrifiedbut too brave to runhadpicked up a jagged stone with his left hand and stood on the defensive. Hisswollen right armfrom which the shirt sleeve had been torndangled at hissidethe back of the hand twisted where the palm should have been. The shirtitself was a mass of grass stains and was spotted with the dentist's blood.

But McTeaguein the centre of the group that struggled to hold himwas nighto madness. The side of his facehis neckand all the shoulder and breast ofhis shirt were covered with blood. He had ceased to cry outbut kept mutteringbetween his gripped jawsas he labored to tear himself free of the retaininghands:

"AhI'll kill him! AhI'll kill him! I'll kill him! Damn youHeise" he exclaimed suddenlytrying to strike the harness-maker"let go of mewill you!"

Little by little they pacified himor rather (for he paid but littleattention to what was said to him) his bestial fury lapsed by degrees. He turnedaway and let fall his armsdrawing long breathsand looking stupidly abouthimnow searching helplessly upon the groundnow gazing vaguely into thecircle of faces about him. His ear bled as though it would never stop.

"SayDoctor" asked Heise"what's the best thing todo?"

"Huh?" answered McTeague. "What--what do you mean? What isit?"

"What'll we do to stop this bleeding here?"

McTeague did not answerbut looked intently at the blood- stained bosom ofhis shirt.

"Mac" cried Trinaher face close to his"tell ussomething--the best thing we can do to stop your ear bleeding."

"Collodium" said the dentist.

"But we can't get to that right away; we--"

"There's some ice in our lunch basket" broke in Heise. "Webrought it for the beer; and take the napkins and make a bandage."

"Ice" muttered the dentist"sureicethat's theword."

Mrs. Heise and the Ryers were looking after Marcus's broken arm. Selina saton the slope of the grassgasping and sobbing. Trina tore the napkins intostripsandcrushing some of the icemade a bandage for her husband's head.'

The party resolved itself into two groups; the Ryers and Mrs. Heise bendingover Marcuswhile the harness-maker and Trina came and went about McTeaguesitting on the groundhis shirta mere blur of red and whitedetaching itselfviolently from the background of pale-green grass. Between the two groups wasthe torn and trampled bit of turfthe wrestling ring; the picnic basketstogether with empty beer bottlesbroken egg-shellsand discarded sardine tinswere scattered here and there. In the middle of the improvised wrestling ringthe sleeve of Marcus's shirt fluttered occasionally in the sea breeze.

Nobody was paying any attention to Selina. All at once she began to gigglehysterically againthen cried out with a peal of laughter:

"Ohwhat a way for our picnic to end!"

CHAPTER 12

"NowthenMaria" said Zerkowhis crackedstrained voice justrising above a whisperhitching his chair closer to the table"nowthenmy girllet's have it all over again. Tell us about the gold plate--theservice. Begin with'There were over a hundred pieces and every one of themgold.'"

"I don't know what you're talking aboutZerkow" answered Maria."There never was no gold plateno gold service. I guess you must havedreamed it."

Maria and the red-headed Polish Jew had been married about a month after theMcTeague's picnic which had ended in such lamentable fashion. Zerkow had takenMaria home to his wretched hovel in the alley back of the flatand the flat hadbeen obliged to get another maid of all work. Time passeda monthsix monthsa whole year went by. At length Maria gave birth to a childa wretchedsicklychildwith not even strength enough nor wits enough to cry. At the time of itsbirth Maria was out of her mindand continued in a state of dementia for nearlyten days. She recovered just in time to make the arrangements for the baby'sburial. Neither Zerkow nor Maria was much affected by either the birth or thedeath of this little child. Zerkow had welcomed it with pronounced disfavorsince it had a mouth to be fed and wants to be provided for. Maria was out ofher head so much of the time that she could scarcely remember how it looked whenalive. The child was a mere incident in their livesa thing that had comeundesired and had gone unregretted. It had not even a name; a strangehybridlittle beingcome and gone within a fortnight's timeyet combining in its punylittle body the blood of the Hebrewthe Poleand the Spaniard.

But the birth of this child had peculiar consequences. Maria came out of herdementiaand in a few days the household settled itself again to its sordidregime and Maria went about her duties as usual. Then one eveningabout a weekafter the child's burialZerkow had asked Maria to tell him the story of thefamous service of gold plate for the hundredth time.

Zerkow had come to believe in this story infallibly. He was immovablypersuaded that at one time Maria or Maria's people had possessed these hundredgolden dishes. In his perverted mind the hallucination had developed stillfurther. Not only had that service of gold plate once existedbut it existednowentireintact; not a single burnished golden piece of it was missing. Itwas somewheresomebody had itlocked away in that leather trunk with itsquilted lining and round brass locks. It was to be searched for and securedtobe fought forto be gained at all hazards. Maria must know where it was; bydint of questioningZerkow would surely get the information from her. Some dayif only he was persistenthe would hit upon the right combination of questionsthe right suggestion that would disentangle Maria's confused recollections.Maria would tell him where the thing was keptwas concealedwas buriedand hewould go to that place and secure itand all that wonderful gold would be hisforever and forever. This service of plate had come to be Zerkow's mania.

On this particular eveningabout a week after the child's burialin thewretched back room of the Junk shopZerkow had made Maria sit down to the tableopposite him-- the whiskey bottle and the red glass tumbler with its broken basebetween them--and had said:

"NowthenMariatell us that story of the gold dishes again."

Maria stared at himan expression of perplexity coming into her face.

"What gold dishes?" said she.

"The ones your people used to own in Central America. Come onMariabeginbegin." The Jew craned himself forwardhis lean fingers clawingeagerly at his lips.

"What gold plate?" said Mariafrowning at him as she drank herwhiskey. "What gold plate? I don' know what you're talking aboutZerkow."

Zerkow sat back in his chairstaring at her.

"Whyyour people's gold disheswhat they used to eat off of. You'vetold me about it a hundred times."

"You're crazyZerkow" said Maria. "Push the bottle herewill you?"

"Comenow" insisted Zerkowsweating with desire"comenowmy girldon't be a fool; let's have itlet's have it. Begin now'Therewere more'n a hundred piecesand every one of 'em gold.' OhYOU know; come oncome on."

"I don't remember nothing of the kind" protested Mariareachingfor the bottle. Zerkow snatched it from her.

"You fool!" he wheezedtrying to raise his broken voice to ashout. "You fool! Don't you dare try an' cheat MEor I'll DO for you. Youknow about the gold plateand you know where it is." Suddenly he pitchedhis voice at the prolonged rasping shout with which he made his street cry. Herose to his feethis longprehensile fingers curled into fists. He wasmenacingterrible in his rage. He leaned over Mariahis fists in her face.

"I believe you've got it!" he yelled. "I believe you've gotitan' are hiding it from me. Where is itwhere is it? Is it here?" herolled his eyes wildly about the room. "Hey? hey?" he went onshakingMaria by the shoulders. "Where is it? Is it here? Tell me where it is. Tellmeor I'll do for you!"

"It ain't here" cried Mariawrenching from him. "It ain'tanywhere. What gold plate? What are you talking about? I don't remember nothingabout no gold plate at all."

NoMaria did not remember. The trouble and turmoil of her mind consequentupon the birth of her child seemed to have readjusted her disordered ideas uponthis point. Her mania had come to a crisiswhich in subsiding had cleared herbrain of its one illusion. She did not remember. Or it was possible that thegold plate she had once remembered had had some foundation in factthat herrecital of its splendors had been truthsound and sane. It was possible thatnow her FORGETFULNESS of it was some form of brain troublea relic of thedementia of childbirth. At all events Maria did not remember; the idea of thegold plate had passed entirely out of her mindand it was now Zerkow wholabored under its hallucination. It was now Zerkowthe raker of the city's muckheapthe searcher after goldthat saw that wonderful service in the eye of hisperverted mind. It was he who could now describe it in a language almosteloquent. Maria had been content merely to remember it; but Zerkow's avaricegoaded him to a belief that it was still in existencehid somewhereperhaps inthat very housestowed away there by Maria. For it stood to reasondidn't itthat Maria could not have described it with such wonderful accuracy and suchcareful detail unless she had seen it recently--the day beforeperhapsor thatvery dayor that very hourthat very HOUR?

"Look out for yourself" he whisperedhoarselyto his wife."Look out for yourselfmy girl. I'll hunt for itand hunt for itandhunt for itand some day I'll find it --I willyou'll see--I'll find itI'llfind it; and if I don'tI'll find a way that'll make you tell me where it is.I'll make you speak--believe meI willI willmy girl--trust me forthat."

And at night Maria would sometimes wake to find Zerkow gone from the bedandwould see him burrowing into some corner by the light of his dark-lantern andwould hear him mumbling to himself: "There were more'n a hundred piecesand every one of 'em gold--when the leather trunk was opened it fair dazzledyour eyes--whyjust that punch- bowl was worth a fortuneI guess; solidsolidheavyrichpure goldnothun but goldgoldheaps and heaps ofit--what a glory! I'll find it yetI'll find it. It's here somewhereshidsomewheres in this house."

At length his continued ill success began to exasperate him. One day he tookhis whip from his junk wagon and thrashed Maria with itgasping the while"Where is ityou beast? Where is it? Tell me where it is; I'll make youspeak."

"I don' knowI don' know" cried Mariadodging his blows."I'd tell youZerkowif I knew; but I don' know nothing about it. How canI tell you if I don' know?"

Then one evening matters reached a crisis. Marcus Schouler was in his roomthe room in the flat just over McTeague's "Parlors" which he hadalways occupied. It was between eleven and twelve o'clock. The vast house wasquiet; Polk Street outside was very stillexcept for the occasional whirr andtrundle of a passing cable car and the persistent calling of ducks and geese inthe deserted market directly opposite. Marcus was in his shirt sleevesperspiring and swearing with exertion as he tried to get all his belongings intoan absurdly inadequate trunk. The room was in great confusion. It looked asthough Marcus was about to move. He stood in front of his trunkhis precioussilk hat in its hat-box in his hand. He was raging at the perverseness of a pairof boots that refused to fit in his trunkno matter how he arranged them.

"I've tried you SOand I've tried you SO" he exclaimed fiercelybetween his teeth"and you won't go." He began to swear horriblygrabbing at the boots with his free hand. "Pretty soon I won't take you atall; I won'tfor a fact."

He was interrupted by a rush of feet upon the back stairs and a clamorouspounding upon his door. He opened it to let in Maria Macapaher hairdishevelled and her eyes starting with terror.

"OhMISTER Schouler" she gasped"lock the door quick. Don'tlet him get me. He's got a knifeand he says sure he's going to do for meif Idon't tell him where it is."

"Who has? What has? Where is what?" shouted Marcusflaming withexcitement upon the instant. He opened the door and peered down the dark hallboth fists clenchedready to fight--he did not know whomand he did not knowwhy.

"It's Zerkow" wailed Mariapulling him back into the room andbolting the door"and he's got a knife as long as THAT. Ohmy Lordherehe comes now! Ain't that him? Listen."

Zerkow was coming up the stairscalling for Maria.

"Don't you let him get mewill youMister Schouler?" gaspedMaria.

"I'll break him in two" shouted Marcuslivid with rage."Think I'm afraid of his knife?"

"I know where you are" cried Zerkowon the landing outside."You're in Schouler's room. What are you doing in Schouler's room at thistime of night? Come outa there; you oughta be ashamed. I'll do for you yetmygirl. Come outa there oncean' see if I don't."

"I'll do for you myselfyou dirty Jew" shouted Marcusunboltingthe door and running out into the hall.

"I want my wife" exclaimed the Jewbacking down the stairs."What's she mean by running away from me and going into your room?"

"Look outhe's got a knife!" cried Maria through the crack of thedoor.

"Ahthere you are. Come outa thatand come back home" exclaimedZerkow.

"Get outa here yourself" cried Marcusadvancing on him angrily."Get outa here."

"Maria's gota come too."

"Get outa here" vociferated Marcus"an' put up that knife. Isee it; you needn't try an' hide it behind your leg. Give it to meanyhow" he shouted suddenlyand before Zerkow was awareMarcus hadwrenched it away. "Nowget outa here."

Zerkow backed awaypeering and peeping over Marcus's shoulder.

"I want Maria."

"Get outa here. Get along outor I'll PUT you out." The streetdoor closed. The Jew was gone.

"Huh!" snorted Marcusswelling with arrogance. "Huh! ThinkI'm afraid of his knife? I ain't afraid of ANYBODY" he shouted pointedlyfor McTeague and his wiferoused by the clamorwere peering over the banistersfrom the landing above. "Not of anybody" repeated Marcus.

Maria came out into the hall.

"Is he gone? Is he sure gone?"

"What was the trouble?" inquired Marcussuddenly.

"I woke up about an hour ago" Maria explained"and Zerkowwasn't in bed; maybe he hadn't come to bed at all. He was down on his knees bythe sinkand he'd pried up some boards off the floor and was digging there. Hehad his dark- lantern. He was digging with that knifeI guessand all the timehe kept mumbling to himself'More'n a hundred piecesan' every one of 'emgold; more'n a hundred piecesan' every one of 'em gold.' Thenall of asuddenhe caught sight of me. I was sitting up in bedand he jumped up andcame at me with his knifean' he says'Where is it? Where is it? I know yougot it hid somewhere. Where is it? Tell me or I'll knife you.' I kind of fooledhim and kept him off till I got my wrapper onan' then I run out. I didn't darestay."

"Wellwhat did you tell him about your gold dishes for in the firstplace?" cried Marcus.

"I never told him" protested Mariawith the greatest energy."I never told him; I never heard of any gold dishes. I don' know where hegot the idea; he must be crazy."

By this time Trina and McTeagueOld Grannisand little Miss Baker--all thelodgers on the upper floors of the flat --had gathered about Maria. Trina andthe dentistwho had gone to bedwere partially dressedand Trina's enormousmane of black hair was hanging in two thick braids far down her back. Butlateas it wasOld Grannis and the retired dressmaker had still been up and aboutwhen Maria had aroused them.

"WhyMaria" said Trina"you always used to tell us aboutyour gold dishes. You said your folks used to have them."

"Nevernevernever!" exclaimed Mariavehemently. "You folksmust all be crazy. I never HEARD of any gold dishes."

"Well" spoke up Miss Baker"you're a queer girlMaria;that's all I can say." She left the group and returned to her room. OldGrannis watched her go from the corner of his eyeand in a few moments followedherleaving the group as unnoticed as he had joined it. By degrees the flatquieted down again. Trina and McTeague returned to their rooms.

"I guess I'll go back now" said Maria. "He's all right now. Iain't afraid of him so long as he ain't got his knife."

"Wellsay" Marcus called to her as she went down stairs"ifhe gets funny againyou just yell out; I'LL hear you. I won't let him hurtyou."

Marcus went into his room again and resumed his wrangle with the refractoryboots. His eye fell on Zerkow's knifea longkeen-bladed hunting-knifewith abuckhorn handle. "I'll take you along with me" he exclaimedsuddenly. "I'll just need you where I'm going."

Meanwhileold Miss Baker was making tea to calm her nerves after theexcitement of Maria's incursion. This evening she went so far as to make tea fortwolaying an extra place on the other side of her little teatablesetting outa cup and saucer and one of the Gorham silver spoons. Close upon the other sideof the partition Old Grannis bound uncut numbers of the "Nation."

"Do you know what I thinkMac?" said Trinawhen the couple hadreturned to their rooms. "I think Marcus is going away."

"What? What?" muttered the dentistvery sleepy and stupid"what you saying? What's that about Marcus?"

"I believe Marcus has been packing upthe last two or three days. Iwonder if he's going away."

"Who's going away?" said McTeagueblinking at her.

"Ohgo to bed" said Trinapushing him goodnaturedly. "Macyou're the stupidest man I ever knew."

But it was true. Marcus was going away. Trina received a letter the nextmorning from her mother. The carpet- cleaning and upholstery business in whichMr. Sieppe had involved himself was going from bad to worse. Mr. Sieppe had evenbeen obliged to put a mortgage upon their house. Mrs. Sieppe didn't know whatwas to become of them all. Her husband had even begun to talk of emigrating toNew Zealand. Meanwhileshe informed Trina that Mr. Sieppe had finally comeacross a man with whom Marcus could "go in with on a ranch" a cattleranch in the southeastern portion of the State. Her ideas were vague upon thesubjectbut she knew that Marcus was wildly enthusiastic at the prospectandwas expected down before the end of the month. In the meantimecould Trina sendthem fifty dollars?

"Marcus IS going awayafter allMac" said Trina to her husbandthat day as he came out of his "Parlors" and sat down to the lunch ofsausagesmashed potatoesand chocolate in the sitting-room.

"Huh?" said the dentista little confused. "Who's going away?Schouler going away? Why's Schouler going away?"

Trina explained. "Oh!" growled McTeaguebehind his thick mustache"he can go far before I'LL stop him."

"AndsayMac" continued Trinapouring the chocolate"whatdo you think? Mamma wants me--wants us to send her fifty dollars. She saysthey're hard up."

"Well" said the dentistafter a moment"wellI guess wecan send itcan't we?"

"Ohthat's easy to say" complained Trinaher little chin in theairher small pale lips pursed. "I wonder if mamma thinks we'remillionaires?"

"Trinayou're getting to be regular stingy" muttered McTeague."You're getting worse and worse every day."

"But fifty dollars is fifty dollarsMac. Just think how long it takesyou to earn fifty dollars. Fifty dollars! That's two months of ourinterest."

"Well" said McTeagueeasilyhis mouth full of mashed potato"you got a lot saved up."

Upon every reference to that little hoard in the brass match-safe andchamois-skin bag at the bottom of her trunkTrina bridled on the instant.

"Don't TALK that wayMac. 'A lot of money.' What do you call a lot ofmoney? I don't believe I've got fifty dollars saved."

"Hoh!" exclaimed McTeague. "Hoh! I guess you got nearer ahundred AN' fifty. That's what I guess YOU got."

"I've NOTI've NOT" declared Trina"and you know I've not.I wish mamma hadn't asked me for any money. Why can't she be a little moreeconomical? I manage all right. NonoI can't possibly afford to send herfifty."

"Ohpshaw! What WILL you dothen?" grumbled her husband.

"I'll send her twenty-five this monthand tell her I'll send the restas soon as I can afford it."

"Trinayou're a regular little miser" said McTeague.

"I don't care" answered Trinabeginning to laugh. "I guess Iambut I can't help itand it's a good fault."

Trina put off sending this money for a couple of weeksand her mother madeno mention of it in her next letter. "OhI guess if she wants it sobad" said Trina"she'll speak about it again." So she againpostponed the sending of it. Day by day she put it off. When her mother askedher for it a second timeit seemed harder than ever for Trina to part with evenhalf the sum requested. She answered her mothertelling her that they were veryhard up themselves for that monthbut that she would send down the amount in afew weeks.

"I'll tell you what we'll doMac" she said to her husband"you send half and I'll send half; we'll send twenty-five dollarsaltogether. Twelve and a half apiece. That's an idea. How will that do?"

"Suresure" McTeague had answeredgiving her the money. Trinasent McTeague's twelve dollarsbut never sent the twelve that was to be hershare. One day the dentist happened to ask her about it.

"You sent that twenty-five to your motherdidn't you?" said he.

"Ohlong ago" answered Trinawithout thinking.

In factTrina never allowed herself to think very much of this affair. Andin factanother matter soon came to engross her attention.

One Sunday evening Trina and her husband were in their sitting-room together.It was darkbut the lamp had not been lit. McTeague had brought up some bottlesof beer from the "Wein Stube" on the ground floorwhere the branchpost- office used to be. But they had not opened the beer. It was a warm eveningin summer. Trina was sitting on McTeague's lap in the bay windowand had loopedback the Nottingham curtains so the two could look out into the darkened streetand watch the moon coming up over the glass roof of the huge public baths. Onoccasions they sat like this for an hour or so"philandering" Trinacuddling herself down upon McTeague's enormous bodyrubbing her cheek againstthe grain of his unshaven chinkissing the bald spot on the top of his headorputting her fingers into his ears and eyes. At timesa brusque access ofpassion would seize upon herandwith a nervous little sighshe would clasphis thick red neck in both her small arms and whisper in his ear:

"Do you love meMacdear? Love me BIGBIG? Suredo you love me asmuch as you did when we were married?"

PuzzledMcTeague would answer: "Wellyou know itdon't youTrina?"

"But I want you to SAY so; say so always and always."

"WellI doof course I do."

"Say itthen."

"WellthenI love you."

"But you don't say it of your own accord."

"Wellwhat--what--what--I don't understand" stammered thedentistbewildered.

There was a knock on the door. Confused and embarrassedas if they were notmarriedTrina scrambled off McTeague's laphastening to light the lampwhispering"Put on your coatMacand smooth your hair" and makinggestures for him to put the beer bottles out of sight. She opened the door anduttered an exclamation.

"WhyCousin Mark!" she said. McTeague glared at himstruckspeechlessconfused beyond expression. Marcus Schoulerperfectly at his easestood in the doorwaysmiling with great affability.

"Say" he remarked"can I come in?"

Taken all abackTrina could only answer:

"Why--I suppose so. Yesof course--come in."

"Yesyescome in" exclaimed the dentistsuddenlyspeakingwithout thought. "Have some beer?" he addedstruck with an idea.

"NothanksDoctor" said Marcuspleasantly.

McTeague and Trina were puzzled. What could it all mean? Did Marcus want tobecome reconciled to his enemy? "I know." Trina said to herself."He's going awayand he wants to borrow some money. He won't get a pennynot a penny." She set her teeth together hard.

"Well" said Marcus"how's businessDoctor?"

"Oh" said McTeagueuneasily"ohI don' know. I guess--Iguess" he broke off in helpless embarrassment. They had all sat down bynow. Marcus continuedholding his hat and his cane--the black wand of ebonywith the gold top presented to him by the "Improvement Club."

"Ah!" said hewagging his head and looking about the sitting-room"you people have got the best fixed rooms in the whole flat. Yessir; youhavefor a fact." He glanced from the lithograph framed in gilt and redplush-- the two little girls at their prayers--to the "I'm Grandpa"and "I'm Grandma" picturesnoted the clean white matting and the gayworsted tidies over the chair backsand appeared to contemplate in ecstasy theframed photograph of McTeague and Trina in their wedding finery.

"Wellyou two are pretty happy togetherain't you?" said hesmiling good-humoredly.

"Ohwe don't complain" answered Trina.

"Plenty of moneylots to doeverything finehey?"

"We've got lots to do" returned Trinathinking to head him off"but we've not got lots of money."

But evidently Marcus wanted no money.

"WellCousin Trina" he saidrubbing his knee"I'm goingaway."

"Yesmamma wrote me; you're going on a ranch."

"I'm going in ranching with an English duck" corrected Marcus."Mr. Sieppe has fixed things. We'll see if we can't raise some cattle. Iknow a lot about horsesand he's ranched some before--this English duck. Andthen I'm going to keep my eye open for a political chance down there. I got someintroductions from the President of the Improvement Club. I'll work thingssomehowohsure."

"How long you going to be gone?" asked Trina.

Marcus stared.

"WhyI ain't EVER coming back" he vociferated. "I'm goingto-morrowand I'm going for good. I come to say good-by."

Marcus stayed for upwards of an hour that evening. He talked on easily andagreeablyaddressing himself as much to McTeague as to Trina. At last he rose.

"Wellgood-byDoc."

"Good-byMarcus" returned McTeague. The two shook hands.

"Guess we won't ever see each other again" continued Marcus."But good luck to youDoc. Hope some day you'll have the patients standingin line on the stairs."

"Huh! I guess soI guess so" said the dentist.

"Good-byCousin Trina."

"Good-byMarcus" answered Trina. "You be sure to remember meto mammaand papaand everybody. I'm going to make two great big sets ofNoah's ark animals for the twins on their next birthday; August is too old fortoys. But you can tell the twins that I'll make them some great big animals.Good-bysuccess to youMarcus."

"Good-bygood-by. Good luck to you both."

"Good-byCousin Mark."

"Good-byMarcus."

He was gone.

CHAPTER 13

One morning about a week after Marcus had left for the southern part of theStateMcTeague found an oblong letter thrust through the letter-drop of thedoor of his "Parlors." The address was typewritten. He opened it. Theletter had been sent from the City Hall and was stamped in one corner with theseal of the State of Californiavery official; the form and file numberssuperscribed.

McTeague had been making fillings when this letter arrived. He was in his"Parlors" pottering over his movable rack underneath the bird cage inthe bay window. He was making "blocks" to be used in large proximalcavities and "cylinders" for commencing fillings. He heard thepostman's step in the hall and saw the envelopes begin to shuttle themselvesthrough the slit of his letter-drop. Then came the fat oblong envelopewith itsofficial sealthat dropped flatwise to the floor with a soddendull impact.

The dentist put down the broach and scissors and gathered up his mail. Therewere four letters altogether. One was for Trinain Selina's "elegant"handwriting; another was an advertisement of a new kind of operating chair fordentists; the third was a card from a milliner on the next blockannouncing anopening; and the fourthcontained in the fat oblong envelopewas a printedform with blanks left for names and datesand addressed to McTeaguefrom anoffice in the City Hall. McTeague read it through laboriously. "I don'knowI don' know" he mutteredlooking stupidly at the riflemanufacturer's calendar. Then he heard Trinafrom the kitchensinging as shemade a clattering noise with the breakfast dishes. "I guess I'll ask Trinaabout it" he muttered.

He went through the suiteby the sitting-roomwhere the sun was pouring inthrough the looped backed Nottingham curtains upon the clean white matting andthe varnished surface of the melodeonpassed on through the bedroomwith itsframed lithographs of round-cheeked English babies and alert fox terriersandcame out into the brick-paved kitchen. The kitchen was clean as a new whistle;the freshly blackened cook stove glowed like a negro's hide; the tins andporcelain-lined stew-pans might have been of silver and of ivory. Trina was inthe centre of the roomwiping offwith a damp spongethe oilclothtable-coveron which they had breakfasted. Never had she looked so pretty.Early though it washer enormous tiara of swarthy hair was neatly combed andcoilednot a pin was so much as loose. She wore a blue calico skirt with awhite figureand a belt of imitation alligator skin clasped around her smallfirmly-corseted waist; her shirt waist was of pink linenso new and crisp thatit crackled with every movementwhile around the collartied in a neat knotwas one of McTeague's lawn ties which she had appropriated. Her sleeves werecarefully rolled up almost to her shouldersand nothing could have been moredelicious than the sight of her small round armswhite as milkmoving back andforth as she sponged the table-covera faint touch of pink coming and going atthe elbows as they bent and straightened. She looked up quickly as her husbandenteredher narrow eyes alighther adorable little chin in the air; her lipsrounded and opened with the last words of her songso that one could catch aglint of gold in the fillings of her upper teeth.

The whole scene--the clean kitchen and its clean brick floor; the smell ofcoffee that lingered in the air; Trina herselffresh as if from a bathandsinging at her work; the morning sunstriking obliquely through the whitemuslin half-curtain of the window and spanning the little kitchen with a bridgeof golden mist--gave offas it werea note of gayety that was not to beresisted. Through the opened top of the window came the noises of Polk Streetalready long awake. One heard the chanting of street criesthe shrill callingof children on their way to schoolthe merry rattle of a butcher's cartthebrisk noise of hammeringor the occasional prolonged roll of a cable cartrundling heavily pastwith a vibrant whirring of its jostled glass and thejoyous clanging of its bells.

"What is itMacdear?" said Trina.

McTeague shut the door behind him with his heel and handed her the letter.Trina read it through. Then suddenly her small hand gripped tightly upon thespongeso that the water started from it and dripped in a little patteringdeluge upon the bricks.

The letter--or rather printed notice--informed McTeague that he had neverreceived a diploma from a dental collegeand that in consequence he wasforbidden to practise his profession any longer. A legal extract bearing uponthe case was attached in small type.

"Whywhat's all this?" said Trinacalmlywithout thought as yet.

"I don' knowI don' know" answered her husband.

"You can't practise any longer" continued Trina--"'isherewith prohibited and enjoined from further continuing---- '" She re-readthe extracther forehead lifting and puckering. She put the sponge carefullyaway in its wire rack over the sinkand drew up a chair to the tablespreadingout the notice before her. "Sit down" she said to McTeague."Draw up to the table hereMacand let's see what this is."

"I got it this morning" murmured the dentist. "It just nowcame. I was making some fillings--therein the 'Parlors' in the window--andthe postman shoved it through the door. I thought it was a number of the'American System of Dentistry' at firstand when I'd opened it and looked at itI thought I'd better----"

"SayMac" interrupted Trinalooking up from the notice"DIDN'T you ever go to a dental college?"

"Huh? What? What?" exclaimed McTeague.

"How did you learn to be a dentist? Did you go to a college?"

"I went along with a fellow who came to the mine once. My mother sentme. We used to go from one camp to another. I sharpened his excavators for himand put up his notices in the towns--stuck them up in the post-offices and onthe doors of the Odd Fellows' halls. He had a wagon."

"But didn't you never go to a college?"

"Huh? What? College? NoI never went. I learned from the fellow."

Trina rolled down her sleeves. She was a little paler than usual. Shefastened the buttons into the cuffs and said:

"But do you know you can't practise unless you're graduated from acollege? You haven't the right to call yourself'doctor.'"

McTeague stared a moment; then:

"WhyI've been practising ten years. More--nearly twelve."

"But it's the law."

"What's the law?"

"That you can't practiseor call yourself doctorunless you've got adiploma."

"What's that--a diploma?"

"I don't know exactly. It's a kind of paper that--that--ohMacwe'reruined." Trina's voice rose to a cry.

"What do you meanTrina? Ain't I a dentist? Ain't I a doctor? Look atmy signand the gold tooth you gave me. WhyI've been practising nearly twelveyears."

Trina shut her lips tightlycleared her throatand pretended to resettle ahair-pin at the back of her head.

"I guess it isn't as bad as that" she saidvery quietly."Let's read this again. 'Herewith prohibited and enjoined from furthercontinuing----'" She read to the end.

"Whyit isn't possible" she cried. "They can't mean--ohMacI do believe--pshaw!" she exclaimedher pale face flushing."They don't know how good a dentist you are. What difference does a diplomamakeif you're a first-class dentist? I guess that's all right. Macdidn't youever go to a dental college?"

"No" answered McTeaguedoggedly. "What was the good? Ilearned how to operate; wa'n't that enough?"

"Hark" said Trinasuddenly. "Wasn't that the bell of youroffice?" They had both heard the jangling of the bell that McTeague hadhung over the door of his "Parlors." The dentist looked at the kitchenclock.

"That's Vanovitch" said he. "He's a plumber round on SutterStreet. He's got an appointment with me to have a bicuspid pulled. I got to goback to work." He rose.

"But you can't" cried Trinathe back of her hand upon her lipsher eyes brimming. "Macdon't you see? Can't you understand? You've got tostop. Ohit's dreadful! Listen." She hurried around the table to him andcaught his arm in both her hands.

"Huh?" growled McTeaguelooking at her with a puzzled frown.

"They'll arrest you. You'll go to prison. You can't work-- can't workany more. We're ruined."

Vanovitch was pounding on the door of the sitting-room.

"He'll be gone in a minute" exclaimed McTeague.

"Welllet him go. Tell him to go; tell him to come again."

"Whyhe's got an APPOINTMENT with me" exclaimed McTeaguehishand upon the door.

Trina caught him back. "ButMacyou ain't a dentist any longer; youain't a doctor. You haven't the right to work. You never went to a dentalcollege."

"Wellsuppose I never went to a collegeain't I a dentist just thesame? Listenhe's pounding there again. NoI'm goingsure."

"Wellof coursego" said Trinawith sudden reaction. "Itain't possible they'll make you stop. If you're a good dentistthat's allthat's wanted. Go onMac; hurrybefore he goes."

McTeague went outclosing the door. Trina stood for a moment lookingintently at the bricks at her feet. Then she returned to the tableand sat downagain before the noticeandresting her head in both her fistsread it yetanother time. Suddenly the conviction seized upon her that it was all true.McTeague would be obliged to stop workno matter how good a dentist he was. Butwhy had the authorities at the City Hall waited this long before serving thenotice? All at once Trina snapped her fingerswith a quick flash ofintelligence.

"It's Marcus that's done it" she cried.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

It was like a clap of thunder. McTeague was stunnedstupefied. He saidnothing. Never in his life had he been so taciturn. At times he did not seem tohear Trina when she spoke to himand often she had to shake him by the shoulderto arouse his attention. He would sit apart in his "Parlors" turningthe notice about in his enormous clumsy fingersreading it stupidly over andover again. He couldn't understand. What had a clerk at the City Hall to do withhim? Why couldn't they let him alone?

"Ohwhat's to become of us NOW?" wailed Trina. "What's tobecome of us now? We're paupersbeggars--and all so sudden." And onceina quickinexplicable furytotally unlike anything that McTeague had noticed inher beforeshe had started upwith fists and teeth shut tightand had cried"Ohif you'd only KILLED Marcus Schouler that time he fought you!"

McTeague had continued his workacting from sheer force of habit; hissluggishdeliberate naturemethodicalobstinaterefusing to adapt itself tothe new conditions.

"Maybe Marcus was only trying to scare us" Trina had said."How are they going to know whether you're practising or not?"

"I got a mould to make to-morrow" McTeague said"andVanovitchthat plumber round on Sutter Streethe's coming again atthree."

"Wellyou go right ahead" Trina told himdecisively; "yougo right ahead and make the mouldand pull every tooth in Vanovitch's head ifyou want to. Who's going to know? Maybe they just sent that notice as a matterof form. Maybe Marcus got that paper and filled it in himself."

The two would lie awake all night longstaring up into the darktalkingtalkingtalking.

"Haven't you got any right to practise if you've not been to a dentalcollegeMac? Didn't you ever go?" Trina would ask again and again.

"Nono" answered the dentist"I never went. I learnt fromthe fellow I was apprenticed to. I don' know anything about a dental college.Ain't I got a right to do as I like?" he suddenly exclaimed.

"If you know your professionisn't that enough?" cried Trina.

"Suresure" growled McTeague. "I ain't going to stop forthem."

"You go right on" Trina said"and I bet you won't hearanother word about it."

"Suppose I go round to the City Hall and see them" hazardedMcTeague.

"Nonodon't you do itMac" exclaimed Trina. "BecauseifMarcus has done this just to scare youthey won't know anything about it thereat the City Hall; but they'll begin to ask you questionsand find out that younever HAD graduated from a dental collegeand you'd be just as bad off asever."

"WellI ain't going to quit for just a piece of paper" declaredthe dentist. The phrase stuck to him. All day long he went about their rooms orcontinued at his work in the "Parlors" growling behind his thickmustache: "I ain't going to quit for just a piece of paper. NoI ain'tgoing to quit for just a piece of paper. Sure not."

The days passeda week went byMcTeague continued his work as usual. Theyheard no more from the City Hallbut the suspense of the situation washarrowing. Trina was actually sick with it. The terror of the thing was ever attheir elbowsgoing to bed with themsitting down with them at breakfast in thekitchenkeeping them company all through the day. Trina dared not think of whatwould be their fate if the income derived from McTeague's practice was suddenlytaken from them. Then they would have to fall back on the interest of herlottery money and the pittance she derived from the manufacture of the Noah'sark animalsa little over thirty dollars a month. Nonoit was not to bethought of. It could not be that their means of livelihood was to be thusstricken from them.

A fortnight went by. "I guess we're all rightMac" Trina allowedherself to say. "It looks as though we were all right. How are they goingto tell whether you're practising or not?"

That day a second and much more peremptory notice was served upon McTeague byan official in person. Then suddenly Trina was seized with a panic terrorunreasonedinstinctive. If McTeague persisted they would both be sent to aprisonshe was sure of it; a place where people were chained to the wallinthe darkand fed on bread and water.

"OhMacyou've got to quit" she wailed. "You can't go on.They can make you stop. Ohwhy didn't you go to a dental college? Why didn'tyou find out that you had to have a college degree? And now we're paupersbeggars. We've got to leave here--leave this flat where I've been-- where WE'VEbeen so happyand sell all the pretty things; sell the pictures and themelodeonand--Ohit's too dreadful!"

"Huh? Huh? What? What?" exclaimed the dentistbewildered. "Iain't going to quit for just a piece of paper. Let them put me out. I'll showthem. They--they can't make small of me."

"Ohthat's all very fine to talk that waybut you'll have toquit."

"Wellwe ain't paupers" McTeague suddenly exclaimedan ideaentering his mind. "We've got our money yet. You've got your five thousanddollars and the money you've been saving up. People ain't paupers when they'vegot over five thousand dollars."

"What do you meanMac?" cried Trinaapprehensively.

"Wellwe can live on THAT money until--until--until--" he brokeoff with an uncertain movement of his shoulderslooking about him stupidly.

"Until WHEN?" cried Trina. "There ain't ever going to be any'until.' We've got the INTEREST of that five thousand and we've got what UncleOelbermann gives mea little over thirty dollars a monthand that's all we'vegot. You'll have to find something else to do."

"What will I find to do?"

Whatindeed? McTeague was over thirty nowsluggish and slow-witted at best.What new trade could he learn at this age?

Little by little Trina made the dentist understand the calamity that hadbefallen themand McTeague at last began cancelling his appointments. Trinagave it out that he was sick.

"Not a soul need know what's happened to us" she said to herhusband.

But it was only by slow degrees that McTeague abandoned his profession. Everymorning after breakfast he would go into his "Parlors" as usual andpotter about his instrumentshis dental engineand his washstand in the cornerbehind his screen where he made his moulds. Now he would sharpen a"hoe" excavatornow he would busy himself for a whole hour making"mats" and "cylinders." Then he would look over his slatewhere he kept a record of his appointments.

One day Trina softly opened the door of the "Parlors" and came infrom the sitting-room. She had not heard McTeague moving about for some time andhad begun to wonder what he was doing. She came inquietly shutting the doorbehind her.

McTeague had tidied the room with the greatest care. The volumes of the"Practical Dentist" and the "American System of Dentistry"were piled upon the marble-top centre-table in rectangular blocks. The fewchairs were drawn up against the wall under the steel engraving of "Lorenzode' Medici" with more than usual precision. The dental engine and thenickelled trimmings of the operating chair had been furbished till they shonewhile on the movable rack in the bay window McTeague had arranged hisinstruments with the greatest neatness and regularity. "Hoe"excavatorspluggersforcepsplierscorundum disks and burrseven theboxwood mallet that Trina was never to use againall were laid out and readyfor immediate use.

McTeague himself sat in his operating chairlooking stupidly out of thewindowsacross the roofs oppositewith an unseeing gazehis red hands lyingidly in his lap. Trina came up to him. There was something in his eyes that madeher put both arms around his neck and lay his huge head with its coarse blondhair upon her shoulder.

"I--I got everything fixed" he said. "I got everything fixedan' ready. Seeeverything ready an' waitingan'-- an'--an' nobody comesan'nobody's ever going to come any more. OhTrina!" He put his arms about herand drew her down closer to him.

"Never minddear; never mind" cried Trinathrough her tears."It'll all come right in the endand we'll be poor together if we have to.You can sure find something else to do. We'll start in again."

"Look at the slate there" said McTeaguepulling away from her andreaching down the slate on which he kept a record of his appointments."Look at them. There's Vanovitch at two on Wednesdayand Loughhead's wifeThursday morningand Heise's little girl Thursday afternoon at one-thirty; Mrs.Watson on Fridayand Vanovitch again Saturday morning early--at seven. That'swhat I was to have hadand they ain't going to come. They ain't ever going tocome any more."

Trina took the little slate from him and looked at it ruefully.

"Rub them out" she saidher voice trembling; "rub it allout;" and as she spoke her eyes brimmed againand a great tear dropped onthe slate. "That's it" she said; "that's the way to rub it outby me crying on it." Then she passed her fingers over the tear-blurredwriting and washed the slate clean. "All goneall gone" she said.

"All gone" echoed the dentist. There was a silence. Then McTeagueheaved himself up to his full six feet twohis face purplinghis enormousmallet-like fists raised over his head. His massive jaw protruded more thaneverwhile his teeth clicked and grated together; then he growled:

"If ever I meet Marcus Schouler--" he broke off abruptlythe whiteof his eyes growing suddenly pink.

"Ohif ever you DO" exclaimed Trinacatching her breath.

CHAPTER 14

"Wellwhat do you think?" said Trina.

She and McTeague stood in a tiny room at the back of the flat and on its verytop floor. The room was whitewashed. It contained a bedthree cane-seatedchairsand a wooden washstand with its washbowl and pitcher. From its singleuncurtained window one looked down into the flat's dirty back yard and upon theroofs of the hovels that bordered the alley in the rear. There was a rag carpeton the floor. In place of a closet some dozen wooden pegs were affixed to thewall over the washstand. There was a smell of cheap soap and of ancient hair-oilin the air.

"That's a single bed" said Trina"but the landlady saysshe'll put in a double one for us. You see----"

"I ain't going to live here" growled McTeague.

"Wellyou've got to live somewhere" said Trinaimpatiently."We've looked Polk Street overand this is the only thing we canafford."

"Affordafford" muttered the dentist. "You with your fivethousand dollarsand the two or three hundred you got saved uptalking about'afford.' You make me sick."

"NowMac" exclaimed Trinadeliberatelysitting down in one ofthe cane-seated chairs; "nowMaclet's have this thing----"

"WellI don't figure on living in one room" growled the dentistsullenly. "Let's live decently until we can get a fresh start. We've gotthe money."

"Who's got the money?"

"WE'VE got it."

"We!"

"Wellit's all in the family. What's yours is mineand what's mine isyoursain't it?"

"Noit's not; noit's not" cried Trinavehemently. "It'sall minemine. There's not a penny of it belongs to anybody else. I don't liketo have to talk this way to youbut you just make me. We're not going to toucha penny of my five thousand nor a penny of that little money I managed tosave--that seventy-five."

"That TWO hundredyou mean."

"That SEVENTY-FIVE. We're just going to live on the interest of that andon what I earn from Uncle Oelbermann-- on just that thirty-one or twodollars."

"Huh! Think I'm going to do thatan' live in such a room as this?"

Trina folded her arms and looked him squarely in the face.

"Wellwhat ARE you going to dothen?"

"Huh?"

"I saywhat ARE you going to do? You can go on and find something to doand earn some more moneyand THEN we'll talk."

"WellI ain't going to live here."

"Ohvery wellsuit yourself. I'M going to live here."

"You'll live where I TELL you" the dentist suddenly criedexasperated at the mincing tone she affected.

"Then YOU'LL pay the rent" exclaimed Trinaquite as angry as he.

"Are you my bossI'd like to know? Who's the bossyou or I?"

"Who's got the MONEYI'd like to know?" cried Trinaflushing toher pale lips. "Answer me thatMcTeaguewho's got the money?"

"You make me sickyou and your money. Whyyou're a miser. I never sawanything like it. When I was practisingI never thought of my fees as my own;we lumped everything in together."

"Exactly; and I'M doing the working now. I'm working for UncleOelbermannand you're not lumping in ANYTHING

now. I'm doing it all. Do you know what I'm doingMcTeague? I'm supportingyou."

"Ahshut up; you make me sick."

"You got no RIGHT to talk to me that way. I won't let you. I--I won'thave it." She caught her breath. Tears were in her eyes.

"Ohlive where you likethen" said McTeaguesullenly.

"Wellshall we take this room then?"

"All rightwe'll take it. But why can't you take a little of your moneyan'--an'--sort of fix it up?"

"Not a pennynot a single penny."

"OhI don't care WHAT you do." And for the rest of the day thedentist and his wife did not speak.

This was not the only quarrel they had during these days when they wereoccupied in moving from their suite and in looking for new quarters. Every hourthe question of money came up. Trina had become more niggardly than ever sincethe loss of McTeague's practice. It was not mere economy with her now. It was apanic terror lest a fraction of a cent of her little savings should be touched;a passionate eagerness to continue to save in spite of all that had happened.Trina could have easily afforded better quarters than the single whitewashedroom at the top of the flatbut she made McTeague believe that it wasimpossible.

"I can still save a little" she said to herselfafter the roomhad been engaged; "perhaps almost as much as ever. I'll have three hundreddollars pretty soonand Mac thinks it's only two hundred. It's almost twohundred and fifty; and I'll get a good deal out of the sale."

But this sale was a long agony. It lasted a week. Everything went--everythingbut the few big pieces that went with the suiteand that belonged to thephotographer. The melodeonthe chairsthe black walnut table before which theywere marriedthe extension table in the sitting-roomthe kitchen table withits oilcloth coverthe framed lithographs from the English illustrated papersthe very carpets on the floors. But Trina's heart nearly broke when the kitchenutensils and furnishings began to go. Every potevery stewpanevery knife andforkwas an old friend. How she had worked over them! How clean she had keptthem! What a pleasure it had been to invade that little brick- paved kitchenevery morningand to wash up and put to rights after breakfastturning on thehot water at the sinkraking down the ashes in the cook-stovegoing and comingover the warm bricksher head in the airsinging at her workproud in thesense of her proprietorship and her independence! How happy had she been the dayafter her marriage when she had first entered that kitchen and knew that it wasall her own! And how well she remembered her raids upon the bargain counters inthe house-furnishing departments of the great down-town stores! And now it wasall to go. Some one else would have it allwhile she was relegated to cheaprestaurants and meals cooked by hired servants. Night after night she sobbedherself to sleep at the thought of her past happiness and her presentwretchedness. Howevershe was not alone in her unhappiness.

"AnyhowI'm going to keep the steel engraving an' the stone pugdog" declared the dentisthis fist clenching. When it had come to thesale of his office effects McTeague had rebelled with the instinctive obstinacyof a boyshutting his eyes and ears. Only little by little did Trina induce himto part with his office furniture. He fought over every articleover the littleiron stovethe bed-loungethe marble-topped centre tablethe whatnot in thecornerthe bound volumes of "Allen's Practical Dentist" the riflemanufacturer's calendarand the primmilitary chairs. A veritable scene tookplace between him and his wife before he could bring himself to part with thesteel engraving of "Lorenzo de' Medici and His Court" and the stonepug dog with its goggle eyes.

"Why" he would cry"I've had 'em ever since--ever since IBEGAN; long before I knew youTrina. That steel engraving I bought inSacramento one day when it was raining. I saw it in the window of a second-handstoreand a fellow GAVE me that stone pug dog. He was a druggist. It was inSacramento too. We traded. I gave him a shaving- mug and a razorand he gave methe pug dog."

There werehowevertwo of his belongings that even Trina could not inducehim to part with.

"And your concertinaMac" she promptedas they were making outthe list for the second-hand dealer. "The concertinaand--ohyesthecanary and the bird cage."

"No."

"Macyou MUST be reasonable. The concertina would bring quite a sumand the bird cage is as good as new. I'll sell the canary to the bird-store manon Kearney Street."

"No."

"If you're going to make objections to every single thingwe might aswell quit. ComenowMacthe concertina and the bird cage. We'll put them inLot D."

"No."

"You'll have to come to it sooner or later. I'M giving up everything.I'm going to put them downsee."

"No."

And she could get no further than that. The dentist did not lose his temperas in the case of the steel engraving or the stone pug dog; he simply opposedher entreaties and persuasions with a passiveinert obstinacy that nothingcould move. In the end Trina was obliged to submit. McTeague kept his concertinaand his canaryeven going so far as to put them both away in the bedroomattaching to them tags on which he had scrawled in immense round letters"Not for Sale."

One evening during that same week the dentist and his wife were in thedismantled sitting-room. The room presented the appearance of a wreck. TheNottingham lace curtains were down. The extension table was heaped high withdisheswith tea and coffee potsand with baskets of spoons and knives andforks. The melodeon was hauled out into the middle of the floorand coveredwith a sheet marked "Lot A" the pictures were in a pile in a cornerthe chenille portieres were folded on top of the black walnut table. The roomwas desolatelamentable. Trina was going over the inventory; McTeaguein hisshirt sleeveswas smoking his pipelooking stupidly out of the window. All atonce there was a brisk rapping at the door.

"Come in" called Trinaapprehensively. Now-a-days at everyunexpected visit she anticipated a fresh calamity. The door opened to let in ayoung man wearing a checked suita gay cravatand a marvellously figuredwaistcoat. Trina and McTeague recognized him at once. It was the Other Dentistthe debonair fellow whose clients were the barbers and the young women of thecandy stores and soda- water fountainsthe poserthe wearer of waistcoatswhobet money on greyhound races.

"How'do?" said this onebowing gracefully to the McTeagues as theystared at him distrustfully.

"How'do? They tell meDoctorthat you are going out of theprofession."

McTeague muttered indistinctly behind his mustache and glowered at him.

"Wellsay" continued the othercheerily"I'd like to talkbusiness with you. That sign of yoursthat big golden tooth that you gotoutside of your windowI don't suppose you'll have any further use for it.Maybe I'd buy it if we could agree on terms."

Trina shot a glance at her husband. McTeague began to glower again.

"What do you say?" said the Other Dentist.

"I guess not" growled McTeague

"What do you say to ten dollars?"

"Ten dollars!" cried Trinaher chin in the air.

"Wellwhat figure DO you put on it?"

Trina was about to answer when she was interrupted by McTeague.

"You go out of here."

"Hey? What?"

"You go out of here."

The other retreated toward the door.

"You can't make small of me. Go out of here."

McTeague came forward a stephis great red fist clenching. The young manfled. But half way down the stairs he paused long enough to call back:

"You don't want to trade anything for a diplomado you?"

McTeague and his wife exchanged looks.

"How did he know?" exclaimed Trinasharply. They had invented andspread the fiction that McTeague was merely retiring from businesswithoutassigning any reason. But evidently every one knew the real cause. Thehumiliation was complete now. Old Miss Baker confirmed their suspicions on thispoint the next day. The little retired dressmaker came down and wept with Trinaover her misfortuneand did what she could to encourage her. But she too knewthat McTeague had been forbidden by the authorities from practising. Marcus hadevidently left them no loophole of escape.

"It's just like cutting off your husband's handsmy dear" saidMiss Baker. "And you two were so happy. When I first saw you together Isaid'What a pair!'"

Old Grannis also called during this period of the breaking up of the McTeaguehousehold.

"Dreadfuldreadful" murmured the old Englishmanhis hand goingtremulously to his chin. "It seems unjust; it does. But Mr. Schouler couldnot have set them on to do it. I can't quite believe it of him."

"Of Marcus!" cried Trina. "Hoh! Whyhe threw his knife at Macone timeand another time he bit himactually bit him with his teethwhilethey were wrestling just for fun. Marcus would do anything to injure Mac."

"Deardear" returned Old Grannisgenuinely pained. "I hadalways believed Schouler to be such a good fellow."

"That's because you're so good yourselfMr. Grannis" respondedTrina.

"I tell you whatDoc" declared Heise the harness-makershakinghis finger impressively at the dentist"you must fight it; you must appealto the courts; you've been practising too long to be debarred now. The statuteof limitationsyou know."

"Nono" Trina had exclaimedwhen the dentist had repeated thisadvice to her. "Nonodon't go near the law courts. I know them. Thelawyers take all your moneyand you lose your case. We're bad off as it iswithout lawing about it."

Then at last came the sale. McTeague and Trinawhom Miss Baker had invitedto her room for that daysat there side by sideholding each other's handslistening nervously to the turmoil that rose to them from the direction of theirsuite. From nine o'clock till dark the crowds came and went. All Polk Streetseemed to have invaded the suitelured on by the red flag that waved from thefront windows. It was a fetea veritable holidayfor the whole neighborhood.People with no thought of buying presented themselves. Young women--thecandy-store girls and florist's apprentices--came to see the funwalking arm inarm from room to roommaking jokes about the pretty lithographs and mimickingthe picture of the two little girls saying their prayers.

"Look here" they would cry"look here what she used forcurtains--NOTTINGHAM laceactually! Whoever thinks of buying Nottingham lacenow-a-days? Saydon't that JAR you?"

"And a melodeon" another one would exclaimlifting the sheet."A melodeonwhen you can rent a piano for a dollar a week; and sayIreally believe they used to eat in the kitchen."

"Dollarn-halfdollarn-halfdollarn-halfgive me two" intonedthe auctioneer from the second-hand store. By noon the crowd became a jam.Wagons backed up to the curb outside and departed heavily laden. In alldirections people could be seen going away from the housecarrying smallarticles of furniture--a clocka water pitchera towel rack. Every now andthen old Miss Bakerwho had gone below to see how things were progressingreturned with reports of the foray.

"Mrs. Heise bought the chenille portieres. Mister Ryer made a bid foryour bedbut a man in a gray coat bid over him. It was knocked down for threedollars and a half. The German shoe-maker on the next block bought the stone pugdog. I saw our postman going away with a lot of the pictures. Zerkow has comeon my word! the rags-bottles- sacks man; he's buying lots; he bought all DoctorMcTeague's gold tape and some of the instruments. Maria's there too. Thatdentist on the corner took the dental engineand wanted to get the signthebig gold tooth" and so on and so on. Cruelest of allhoweverat least toTrinawas when Miss Baker herself began to buyunable to resist a bargain. Thelast time she came up she carried a bundle of the gay tidies that used to hangover the chair backs.

"He offered themthree for a nickel" she explained to Trina"and I thought I'd spend just a quarter. You don't mindnowdo youMrs.McTeague?"

"Whynoof course notMiss Baker" answered Trinabravely.

"They'll look very pretty on some of my chairs" went on the littleold dressmakerinnocently. "See." She spread one of them on a chairback for inspection. Trina's chin quivered.

"OhVERY pretty" she answered.

At length that dreadful day was over. The crowd dispersed. Even theauctioneer went at lastand as he closed the door with a bangthereverberation that went through the suite gave evidence of its emptiness.

"Come" said Trina to the dentist"let's go down and look--take a last look."

They went out of Miss Baker's room and descended to the floor below. On thestairshoweverthey were met by Old Grannis. In his hands he carried a littlepackage. Was it possible that he too had taken advantage of their misfortunes tojoin in the raid upon the suite?

"I went in" he begantimidly"for--for a few moments.This"--he indicated the little package he carried--"this was put up.It was of no value but to you. I--I ventured to bid it in. I thoughtperhaps"--his hand went to his chin"that you wouldn't mind; that--infactI bought it for you --as a present. Will you take it?" He handed thepackage to Trina and hurried on. Trina tore off the wrappings.

It was the framed photograph of McTeague and his wife in their weddingfinerythe one that had been taken immediately after the marriage. Itrepresented Trina sitting very erect in a rep armchairholding her weddingbouquet straight before herMcTeague standing at her sidehis left footforwardone hand upon her shoulderand the other thrust into the breast of his"Prince Albert" coatin the attitude of a statue of a Secretary ofState.

"Ohit WAS good of himit WAS good of him" cried Trinaher eyesfilling again. "I had forgotten to put it away. Of course it was not forsale."

They went on down the stairsand arriving at the door of the sitting-roomopened it and looked in. It was late in the afternoonand there was just lightenough for the dentist and his wife to see the results of that day of sale.Nothing was leftnot even the carpet. It was a pillagea devastationthebarrenness of a field after the passage of a swarm of locusts. The room had beenpicked and stripped till only the bare walls and floor remained. Here where theyhad been marriedwhere the wedding supper had taken placewhere Trina had badefarewell to her father and motherhere where she had spent those first few hardmonths of her married lifewhere afterward she had grown to be happy andcontentedwhere she had passed the long hours of the afternoon at her work ofwhittlingand where she and her husband had spent so many evenings looking outof the window before the lamp was lit--here in what had been her homenothingwas left but echoes and the emptiness of complete desolation. Only one thingremained. On the wall between the windowsin its oval glass framepreserved bysome unknown and fearful processa melancholy relic of a vanished happinessunsoldneglectedand forgottena thing that nobody wantedhung Trina'swedding bouquet.

CHAPTER 15

Then the grind began. It would have been easier for the McTeagues to havefaced their misfortunes had they befallen them immediately after their marriagewhen their love for each other was fresh and fineand when they could havefound a certain happiness in helping each other and sharing each other'sprivations. Trinano doubtloved her husband more than everin the sense thatshe felt she belonged to him. But McTeague's affection for his wife wasdwindling a little every day--HAD been dwindling for a long timein fact. Hehad become used to her by now. She was part of the order of the things withwhich he found himself surrounded. He saw nothing extraordinary about her; itwas no longer a pleasure for him to kiss her and take her in his arms; she wasmerely his wife. He did not dislike her; he did not love her. She was his wifethat was all. But he sadly missed and regretted all those little animal comfortswhich in the old prosperous life Trina had managed to find for him. He missedthe cabbage soups and steaming chocolate that Trina had taught him to like; hemissed his good tobacco that Trina had educated him to prefer; he missed theSunday afternoon walks that she had caused him to substitute in place of his napin the operating chair; and he missed the bottled beer that she had induced himto drink in place of the steam beer from Frenna's. In the end he grew morose andsulkyand sometimes neglected to answer his wife when she spoke to him. BesidesthisTrina's avarice was a perpetual annoyance to him. Oftentimes when aconsiderable alleviation of this unhappiness could have been obtained at theexpense of a nickel or a dimeTrina refused the money with a pettishness thatwas exasperating.

"Nono" she would exclaim. "To ride to the park Sundayafternoonthat means ten centsand I can't afford it."

"Let's walk therethen."

"I've got to work."

"But you've worked morning and afternoon every day this week."

"I don't careI've got to work."

There had been a time when Trina had hated the idea of McTeague drinkingsteam beer as common and vulgar.

"Saylet's have a bottle of beer to-night. We haven't had a drop ofbeer in three weeks."

"We can't afford it. It's fifteen cents a bottle."

"But I haven't had a swallow of beer in three weeks."

"Drink STEAM beerthen. You've got a nickel. I gave you a quarter daybefore yesterday."

"But I don't like steam beer now."

It was so with everything. UnfortunatelyTrina had cultivated tastes inMcTeague which now could not be gratified. He had come to be very proud of hissilk hat and "Prince Albert" coatand liked to wear them on Sundays.Trina had made him sell both. He preferred "Yale mixture" in his pipe;Trina had made him come down to "Mastiff" a five-cent tobacco withwhich he was once contentedbut now abhorred. He liked to wear clean cuffs;Trina allowed him a fresh pair on Sundays only. At first these deprivationsangered McTeague. Thenall of a suddenhe slipped back into the old habits(that had been his before he knew Trina) with an ease that was surprising.Sundays he dined at the car conductors' coffee-joint once moreand spent theafternoon lying full length upon the bedcrop-fullstupidwarmsmoking hishuge pipedrinking his steam beerand playing his six mournful tunes upon hisconcertinadozing off to sleep towards four o'clock.

The sale of their furniture hadafter paying the rent and outstanding billsnetted about a hundred and thirty dollars. Trina believed that the auctioneerfrom the second- hand store had swindled and cheated them and had made a greatoutcry to no effect. But she had arranged the affair with the auctioneerherselfand offset her disappointment in the matter of the sale by deceivingher husband as to the real amount of the returns. It was easy to lie toMcTeaguewho took everything for granted; and since the occasion of hertrickery with the money that was to have been sent to her motherTrina hadfound falsehood easier than ever.

"Seventy dollars is all the auctioneer gave me" she told herhusband; "and after paying the balance due on the rentand the grocer'sbillthere's only fifty left."

"Only fifty?" murmured McTeaguewagging his head"onlyfifty? Think of that."

"Only fifty" declared Trina. Afterwards she said to herself with acertain admiration for her cleverness:

"Couldn't save sixty dollars much easier than that" and she hadadded the hundred and thirty to the little hoard in the chamois-skin bag andbrass match-box in the bottom of her trunk.

In these first months of their misfortunes the routine of the McTeagues wasas follows: They rose at seven and breakfasted in their roomTrina cooking thevery meagre meal on an oil stove. Immediately after breakfast Trina sat down toher work of whittling the Noah's ark animalsand McTeague took himself off towalk down town. He had by the greatest good luck secured a position with amanufacturer of surgical instrumentswhere his manual dexterity in the makingof excavatorspluggersand other dental contrivances stood him in fairly goodstead. He lunched at a sailor's boarding-house near the water frontand in theafternoon worked till six. He was home at six-thirtyand he and Trina hadsupper together in the "ladies' dining parlor" an adjunct of the carconductors' coffee- joint. Trinameanwhilehad worked at her whittling all daylongwith but half an hour's interval for lunchwhich she herself preparedupon the oil stove. In the evening they were both so tired that they were in nomood for conversationand went to bed earlyworn outharriednervousandcross.

Trina was not quite so scrupulously tidy now as in the old days. At one timewhile whittling the Noah's ark animals she had worn gloves. She never wore themnow. She still took pride in neatly combing and coiling her wonderful blackhairbut as the days passed she found it more and more comfortable to work inher blue flannel wrapper. Whittlings and chips accumulated under the windowwhere she did her workand she was at no great pains to clear the air of theroom vitiated by the fumes of the oil stove and heavy with the smell of cooking.It was not gaythat life. The room itself was not gay. The huge double bedsprawled over nearly a fourth of the available space; the angles of Trina'strunk and the washstand projected into the room from the wallsand barked shinsand scraped elbows. Streaks and spots of the "non-poisonous" paintthat Trina used were upon the walls and wood-work. Howeverin one corner of theroomnext the windowmonstrousdistortedbrilliantshining with a light ofits ownstood the dentist's signthe enormous golden tooththe tooth of aBrobdingnag.

One afternoon in Septemberabout four months after the McTeagues had lefttheir suiteTrina was at her work by the window. She had whittled somehalf-dozen sets of animalsand was now busy painting them and making the arks.Little pots of "non-poisonous" paint stood at her elbow on the tabletogether with a box of labels that read"Made in France." Her hugeclasp-knife was stuck into the under side of the table. She was now occupiedsolely with the brushes and the glue pot. She turned the little figures in herfingers with a wonderful lightness and deftnesspainting the chickens Naplesyellowthe elephants blue graythe horses Vandyke brownadding a dot ofChinese white for the eyes and sticking in the ears and tail with a drop ofglue. The animals once doneshe put together and painted the arkssome dozenof themall windows and no doorseach one opening only by a lid which was halfthe roof. She had all the work she could handle these daysforfrom this timetill a week before ChristmasUncle Oelbermann could take as many "Noah'sark sets" as she could make.

Suddenly Trina paused in her worklooking expectantly toward the door.McTeague came in.

"WhyMac" exclaimed Trina. "It's only three o'clock. Whatare you home so early for? Have they discharged you?"

"They've fired me" said McTeaguesitting down on the bed.

"Fired you! What for?"

"I don' know. Said the times were getting hard an' they had to let mego."

Trina let her paint-stained hands fall into her lap.

"OH!" she cried. "If we don't have the HARDEST luck of any twopeople I ever heard of. What can you do now? Is there another place like thatwhere they make surgical instruments?"

"Huh? NoI don' know. There's three more."

"Wellyou must try them right away. Go down there right now."

"Huh? Right now? NoI'm tired. I'll go down in the morning."

"Mac" cried Trinain alarm"what are you thinking of? Youtalk as though we were millionaires. You must go down this minute. You're losingmoney every second you sit there." She goaded the huge fellow to his feetagainthrust his hat into his handsand pushed him out of the doorhe obeyingthe whiledocile and obedient as a big cart horse. He was on the stairs whenshe came running after him.

"Macthey paid you offdidn't theywhen they discharged you?"

"Yes."

"Then you must have some money. Give it to me."

The dentist heaved a shoulder uneasily.

"NoI don' want to."

"I've got to have that money. There's no more oil for the stoveand Imust buy some more meal tickets to-night."

"Always after me about money" muttered the dentist; but he emptiedhis pockets for hernevertheless.

"I--you've taken it all" he grumbled. "Better leave mesomething for car fare. It's going to rain."

"Pshaw! You can walk just as well as not. A big fellow like you 'fraidof a little walk; and it ain't going to rain."

Trina had lied again both as to the want of oil for the stove and thecommutation ticket for the restaurant. But she knew by instinct that McTeaguehad money about himand she did not intend to let it go out of the house. Shelistened intently until she was sure McTeague was gone. Then she hurriedlyopened her trunk and hid the money in the chamois bag at the bottom.

The dentist presented himself at every one of the makers of surgicalinstruments that afternoon and was promptly turned away in each case. Then itcame on to raina finecold drizzlethat chilled him and wet him to the bone.He had no umbrellaand Trina had not left him even five cents for car fare. Hestarted to walk home through the rain. It was a long way to Polk Streetas thelast manufactory he had visited was beyond even Folsom Streetand not far fromthe city front.

By the time McTeague reached Polk Street his teeth were chattering with thecold. He was wet from head to foot. As he was passing Heise's harness shop asudden deluge of rain overtook him and he was obliged to dodge into thevestibule for shelter. Hewho loved to be warmto sleep and to be well fedwas icy coldwas exhausted and footsore from tramping the city. He could lookforward to nothing better than a badly-cooked supper at the coffee-joint--hotmeat on a cold platehalf done suet puddingmuddy coffeeand bad breadandhe was coldmiserably coldand wet to the bone. All at once a sudden rageagainst Trina took possession of him. It was her fault. She knew it was going torainand she had not let him have a nickel for car fare--she who had fivethousand dollars. She let him walk the streets in the cold and in the rain."Miser" he growled behind his mustache. "Misernasty little oldmiser. You're worse than old Zerkowalways nagging about moneymoneyand yougot five thousand dollars. You got morean' you live in that stinking hole of aroomand you won't drink any decent beer. I ain't going to stand it muchlonger. She knew it was going to rain. She KNEW it. Didn't I TELL her? And shedrives me out of my own home in the rainfor me to get money for her; moremoneyand she takes it. She took that money from me that I earned. 'Twasn'thers; it was mineI earned it--and not a nickel for car fare. She don't care ifI get wet and get a cold and DIE. Noshe don'tas long as she's warm and's gother money." He became more and more indignant at the picture he made ofhimself. "I ain't going to stand it much longer" he repeated.

"WhyhelloDoc. Is that you?" exclaimed Heiseopening the doorof the harness shop behind him. "Come in out of the wet. Whyyou're soakedthrough" he added as he and McTeague came back into the shopthat reekedof oiled leather. "Didn't you have any umbrella? Ought to have taken acar."

"I guess so--I guess so" murmured the dentistconfused. His teethwere chattering.

"YOU'RE going to catch your death-a-cold" exclaimed Heise."Tell you what" he saidreaching for his hat"come in nextdoor to Frenna's and have something to warm you up. I'll get the old lady tomind the shop." He called Mrs. Heise down from the floor above and tookMcTeague into Joe Frenna's saloonwhich was two doors above his harness shop.

"Whiskey and gum twiceJoe" said he to the barkeeper as he andthe dentist approached the bar.

"Huh? What?" said McTeague. "Whiskey? NoI can't drinkwhiskey. It kind of disagrees with me."

"Ohthe hell!" returned Heiseeasily. "Take it as medicine.You'll get your death-a-cold if you stand round soaked like that. Two whiskeyand gumJoe."

McTeague emptied the pony glass at a single enormous gulp.

"That's the way" said Heiseapprovingly. "Do you good."He drank his off slowly.

"I'd--I'd ask you to have a drink with meHeise" said thedentistwho had an indistinct idea of the amenities of the barroom"only" he added shamefacedly"only--you seeI don't believe Igot any change." His anger against Trinaheated by the whiskey he haddrankflamed up afresh. What a humiliating position for Trina to place him innot to leave him the price of a drink with a friendshe who had five thousanddollars!

"Sha! That's all rightDoc" returned Heisenibbling on a grainof coffee. "Want another? Hey? This my treat. Two more of the sameJoe."

McTeague hesitated. It was lamentably true that whiskey did not agree withhim; he knew it well enough. Howeverby this time he felt very comfortably warmat the pit of his stomach. The blood was beginning to circulate in his chilledfinger-tips and in his soggywet feet. He had had a hard day of it; in factthe last weekthe last monththe last three or four monthshad been hard. Hedeserved a little consolation. Nor could Trina object to this. It wasn't costinga cent. He drank again with Heise.

"Get up here to the stove and warm yourself" urged Heisedrawingup a couple of chairs and cocking his feet upon the guard. The two fell totalking while McTeague's draggled coat and trousers smoked.

"What a dirty turn that was that Marcus Schouler did you!" saidHeisewagging his head. "You ought to have fought thatDocsure. You'dbeen practising too long." They discussed this question some ten or fifteenminutes and then Heise rose.

"Wellthis ain't earning any money. I got to get back to theshop." McTeague got up as welland the pair started for the door. Just asthey were going out Ryer met them.

"Hellohello" he cried. "Lordwhat a wet day! You two aregoing the wrong way. You're going to have a drink with me. Three whiskeypunchesJoe."

"Nono" answered McTeagueshaking his head. "I'm going backhome. I've had two glasses of whiskey already."

"Sha!" cried Heisecatching his arm. "A strapping big chaplike you ain't afraid of a little whiskey."

"WellI--I--I got to go right afterwards" protested McTeague.

About half an hour after the dentist had left to go down townMaria Macapahad come in to see Trina. Occasionally Maria dropped in on Trina in this fashionand spent an hour or so chatting with her while she worked. At first Trina hadbeen inclined to resent these intrusions of the Mexican womanbut of late shehad begun to tolerate them. Her day was long and cheerless at the bestandthere was no one to talk to. Trina even fancied that old Miss Baker had come tobe less cordial since their misfortune. Maria retailed to her all the gossip ofthe flat and the neighborhoodandwhich was much more interestingtold her ofher troubles with Zerkow.

Trina said to herself that Maria was common and vulgarbut one had to havesome diversionand Trina could talk and listen without interrupting her work.On this particular occasion Maria was much excited over Zerkow's demeanor oflate.

"He's gettun worse an' worse" she informed Trina as she sat on theedge of the bedher chin in her hand. "He says he knows I got the dishesand am hidun them from him. The other day I thought he'd gone off with hiswagonand I was doin' a bit of ir'ningan' by an' by all of a sudden I saw himpeeping at me through the crack of the door. I never let on that I saw himandhonesthe stayed there over two hourswatchun everything I did. I could justfeel his eyes on the back of my neck all the time. Last Sunday he took down partof the wall'cause he said he'd seen me making figures on it. WellI wasbutit was just the wash list. All the time he says he'll kill me if I don'ttell."

"Whywhat do you stay with him for?" exclaimed Trina. "I'd bedeathly 'fraid of a man like that; and he did take a knife to you once."

"Hoh! HE won't kill menever fear. If he'd kill me he'd never knowwhere the dishes were; that's what HE thinks."

"But I can't understandMaria; you told him about those gold dishesyourself."

"Nevernever! I never saw such a lot of crazy folks as you are."

"But you say he hits you sometimes."

"Ah!" said Mariatossing her head scornfully"I ain't afraidof him. He takes his horsewhip to me now and thenbut I can always manage. Isay'If you touch me with thatthen I'll NEVER tell you.' Just pretendingyouknowand he drops it as though it was red hot. SayMrs. McTeaguehave you gotany tea? Let's make a cup of tea over the stove."

"Nono" cried Trinawith niggardly apprehension; "noIhaven't got a bit of tea." Trina's stinginess had increased to such anextent that it had gone beyond the mere hoarding of money. She grudged even thefood that she and McTeague ateand even brought away half loaves of breadlumps of sugarand fruit from the car conductors' coffee-joint. She hid thesepilferings away on the shelf by the windowand often managed to make a verycreditable lunch from themenjoying the meal with the greater relish because itcost her nothing.

"NoMariaI haven't got a bit of tea" she saidshaking her headdecisively. "Harkain't that Mac?" she addedher chin in the air."That's his stepsure."

"WellI'm going to skip" said Maria. She left hurriedlypassingthe dentist in the hall just outside the door. "Well?" said Trinainterrogatively as her husband entered. McTeague did not answer. He hung his haton the hook behind the door and dropped heavily into a chair.

"Well" asked Trinaanxiously"how did you make outMac?"

Still the dentist pretended not to hearscowling fiercely at his muddyboots.

"Tell meMacI want to know. Did you get a place? Did you get caughtin the rain?"

"Did I? Did I?" cried the dentistsharplyan alacrity in hismanner and voice that Trina had never observed before.

"Look at me. Look at me" he went onspeaking with an unwontedrapidityhis wits sharphis ideas succeeding each other quickly. "Look atmedrenched throughshivering cold. I've walked the city over. Caught in therain! YesI guess I did get caught in the rainand it ain't your fault Ididn't catch my death-a-cold; wouldn't even let me have a nickel for carfare."

"ButMac" protested Trina"I didn't know it was going torain."

The dentist put back his head and laughed scornfully. His face was very redand his small eyes twinkled. "Hoh! noyou didn't know it was going torain. Didn't I TELL you it was?" he exclaimedsuddenly angry again."Ohyou're a DAISYyou are. Think I'm going to put up with yourfoolishness ALL the time? Who's the bossyou or I?"

"WhyMacI never saw you this way before. You talk like a differentman."

"WellI AM a different man" retorted the dentistsavagely."You can't make small of me ALWAYS."

"Wellnever mind that. You know I'm not trying to make small of you.But never mind that. Did you get a place?"

"Give me my money" exclaimed McTeaguejumping up briskly. Therewas an activitya positive nimbleness about the huge blond giant that had neverbeen his before; also his stupiditythe sluggishness of his brainseemed to beunusually stimulated.

"Give me my moneythe money I gave you as I was going away."

"I can't" exclaimed Trina. "I paid the grocer's bill with itwhile you were gone."

"Don't believe you."

"TrulytrulyMac. Do you think I'd lie to you? Do you think I'd lowermyself to do that?"

"Wellthe next time I earn any money I'll keep it myself."

"But tell meMacDID you get a place?"

McTeague turned his back on her.

"Tell meMacpleasedid you?"

The dentist jumped up and thrust his face close to hershis heavy jawprotrudinghis little eyes twinkling meanly.

"No" he shouted. "NonoNO. Do you hear? NO."

Trina cowered before him. Then suddenly she began to sob aloudweepingpartly at his strange brutalitypartly at the disappointment of his failure tofind employment.

McTeague cast a contemptuous glance about hima glance that embraced thedingycheerless roomthe rain streaming down the panes of the one windowandthe figure of his weeping wife.

"Ohain't this all FINE?" he exclaimed. "Ain't itlovely?"

"It's not my fault" sobbed Trina.

"It is too" vociferated McTeague. "It is too. We could livelike Christians and decent people if you wanted to. You got more'n five thousanddollarsand you're so damned stingy that you'd rather live in a rat hole--andmake me live there too--before you'd part with a nickel of it. I tell you I'msick and tired of the whole business."

An allusion to her lottery money never failed to rouse Trina.

"And I'll tell you this much too" she criedwinking back thetears. "Now that you're out of a jobwe can't afford even to live in yourrat holeas you call it. We've got to find a cheaper place than THISeven."

"What!" exclaimed the dentistpurple with rage. "Whatgetinto a worse hole in the wall than this? Wellwe'll SEE if we will. We'll justsee about that. You're going to do just as I tell you after thisTrinaMcTeague" and once more he thrust his face close to hers.

"I know what's the matter" cried Trinawith a half sob; "IknowI can smell it on your breath. You've been drinking whiskey."

"YesI've been drinking whiskey" retorted her husband. "I'vebeen drinking whiskey. Have you got anything to say about it? Ahyesyou'reRIGHTI've been drinking whiskey. What have YOU got to say about my drinkingwhiskey? Let's hear it."

"Oh! Oh! Oh!" sobbed Trinacovering her face with her hands.McTeague caught her wrists in one palm and pulled them down. Trina's pale facewas streaming with tears; her longnarrow blue eyes were swimming; her adorablelittle chin upraised and quivering.

"Let's hear what you got to say" exclaimed McTeague.

"Nothingnothing" said Trinabetween her sobs.

"Then stop that noise. Stop itdo you hear me? Stop it." He threwup his open hand threateningly. "STOP!" he exclaimed.

Trina looked at him fearfullyhalf blinded with weeping. Her husband's thickmane of yellow hair was disordered and rumpled upon his great square-cut head;his big red ears were redder than ever; his face was purple; the thick eyebrowswere knotted over the smalltwinkling eyes; the heavy yellow mustachethatsmelt of alcoholdrooped over the massiveprotruding chinsalientlike thatof the carnivora; the veins were swollen and throbbing on his thick red neck;while over her head Trina saw his upraised palmcallusedenormous.

"Stop!" he exclaimed. And Trinawatching fearfullysaw the palmsuddenly contract into a fista fist that was hard as a wooden malletthe fistof the old-time car-boy. And then her ancient terror of himthe intuitive fearof the maleleaped to life again. She was afraid of him. Every nerve of herquailed and shrank from him. She choked back her sobscatching her breath.

"There" growled the dentistreleasing her"that's morelike. Now" he went onfixing her with his little eyes"now listento me. I'm beat out. I've walked the city over--ten milesI guess--an' I'mgoing to bedan' I don't want to be bothered. You understand? I want to be letalone." Trina was silent.

"Do you HEAR?" he snarled.

"YesMac."

The dentist took off his coathis collar and necktieunbuttoned his vestand slipped his heavy-soled boots from his big feet. Then he stretched himselfupon the bed and rolled over towards the wall. In a few minutes the sound of hissnoring filled the room.

Trina craned her neck and looked at her husband over the footboard of thebed. She saw his redcongested face; the huge mouth wide open; his uncleanshirtwith its frayed wristbands; and his huge feet encased in thick woollensocks. Then her grief and the sense of her unhappiness returned more poignantthan ever. She stretched her arms out in front of her on her work-tableandburying her face in themcried and sobbed as though her heart would break.

The rain continued. The panes of the single window ran with sheets of water;the eaves dripped incessantly. It grew darker. The tinygrimy roomfull of thesmells of cooking and of "non-poisonous" painttook on an aspect ofdesolation and cheerlessness lamentable beyond words. The canary in its littlegilt prison chittered feebly from time to time. Sprawled at full length upon thebedthe dentist snored and snoredstupefiedinerthis legs wide aparthishands lying palm upward at his sides.

At last Trina raised her headwith a longtrembling breath. She roseandgoing over to the washstandpoured some water from the pitcher into the basinand washed her face and swollen eyelidsand rearranged her hair. Suddenlyasshe was about to return to her workshe was struck with an idea.

"I wonder" she said to herself"I wonder where he got themoney to buy his whiskey." She searched the pockets of his coatwhich hehad flung into a corner of the roomand even came up to him as he lay upon thebed and went through the pockets of his vest and trousers. She found nothing.

"I wonder" she murmured"I wonder if he's got any money hedon't tell me about. I'll have to look out for that."

CHAPTER 16

A week passedthen a fortnightthen a month. It was a month of the greatestanxiety and unquietude for Trina. McTeague was out of a jobcould find nothingto do; and Trinawho saw the impossibility of saving as much money as usual outof her earnings under the present conditionswas on the lookout for cheaperquarters. In spite of his outcries and sulky resistance Trina had induced herhusband to consent to such a movebewildering him with a torrent of phrases andmarvellous columns of figures by which she proved conclusively that they were ina condition but one remove from downright destitution.

The dentist continued idle. Since his ill success with the manufacturers ofsurgical instruments he had made but two attempts to secure a job. Trina hadgone to see Uncle Oelbermann and had obtained for McTeague a position in theshipping department of the wholesale toy store. Howeverit was a position thatinvolved a certain amount of cipheringand McTeague had been obliged to throwit up in two days.

Then for a time they had entertained a wild idea that a place on the policeforce could be secured for McTeague. He could pass the physical examination withflying colorsand Ryerwho had become the secretary of the Polk StreetImprovement Clubpromised the requisite political "pull." If McTeaguehad shown a certain energy in the matter the attempt might have been successful;but he was too stupidor of late had become too listless to exert himselfgreatlyand the affair resulted only in a violent quarrel with Ryer.

McTeague had lost his ambition. He did not care to better his situation. Allhe wanted was a warm place to sleep and three good meals a day. At the first--atthe very first--he had chafed at his idleness and had spent the days with hiswife in their one narrow roomwalking back and forth with the restlessness of acaged bruteor sitting motionless for hourswatching Trina at her workfeeling a dull glow of shame at the idea that she was supporting him. Thisfeeling had worn off quicklyhowever. Trina's work was only hard when she choseto make it soand as a rule she supported their misfortunes with a silentfortitude.

Thenwearied at his inaction and feeling the need of movement and exerciseMcTeague would light his pipe and take a turn upon the great avenue one blockabove Polk Street. A gang of laborers were digging the foundations for a largebrownstone houseand McTeague found interest and amusement in leaning over thebarrier that surrounded the excavations and watching the progress of the work.He came to see it every afternoon; by and by he even got to know the foreman whosuperintended the joband the two had long talks together. Then McTeague wouldreturn to Polk Street and find Heise in the back room of the harness shopandoccasionally the day ended with some half dozen drinks of whiskey at JoeFrenna's saloon.

It was curious to note the effect of the alcohol upon the dentist. It did notmake him drunkit made him vicious. So far from being stupefiedhe becameafter the fourth glassactivealertquick-wittedeven talkative; a certainwickedness stirred in him then; he was intractablemean; and when he had drunka little more heavily than usualhe found a certain pleasure in annoying andexasperating Trinaeven in abusing and hurting her.

It had begun on the evening of Thanksgiving Daywhen Heise had takenMcTeague out to dinner with him. The dentist on this occasion had drunk veryfreely. He and Heise had returned to Polk Street towards ten o'clockand Heiseat once suggested a couple of drinks at Frenna's.

"All rightall right" said McTeague. "Drinksthat's theword. I'll go home and get some money and meet you at Joe's."

Trina was awakened by her husband pinching her arm.

"OhMac" she criedjumping up in bed with a little scream"how you hurt! Ohthat hurt me dreadfully."

"Give me a little money" answered the dentistgrinningandpinching her again.

"I haven't a cent. There's not a--ohMACwill you stop? I won't haveyou pinch me that way."

"Hurry up" answered her husbandcalmlynipping the flesh of hershoulder between his thumb and finger. "Heise's waiting for me." Trinawrenched from him with a sharp intake of breathfrowning with painandcaressing her shoulder.

"Macyou've no idea how that hurts. MacSTOP!"

"Give me some moneythen."

In the end Trina had to comply. She gave him half a dollar from her dresspocketprotesting that it was the only piece of money she had.

"One morejust for luck" said McTeaguepinching her again;"and another."

"How can you--how CAN you hurt a woman so!" exclaimed Trinabeginning to cry with the pain.

"AhnowCRY" retorted the dentist. "That's rightCRY. Inever saw such a little fool." He went outslamming the door in disgust.

But McTeague never became a drunkard in the generally received sense of theterm. He did not drink to excess more than two or three times in a monthandnever upon any occasion did he become maudlin or staggering. Perhaps his nerveswere naturally too dull to admit of any excitation; perhaps he did not reallycare for the whiskeyand only drank because Heise and the other men at Frenna'sdid. Trina could often reproach him with drinking too much; she never could saythat he was drunk. The alcohol had its effect for all that. It roused the manor rather the brute in the manand now not only roused itbut goaded it toevil. McTeague's nature changed. It was not only the alcoholit was idlenessand a general throwing off of the good influence his wife had had over him inthe days of their prosperity. McTeague disliked Trina. She was a perpetualirritation to him. She annoyed him because she was so smallso prettily madeso invariably correct and precise. Her avarice incessantly harassed him. Herindustry was a constant reproach to him. She seemed to flaunt her work defiantlyin his face. It was the red flag in the eyes of the bull. One time when he hadjust come back from Frenna's and had been sitting in the chair near hersilently watching her at her workhe exclaimed all of a sudden:

"Stop working. Stop itI tell you. Put 'em away. Put 'em all awayorI'll pinch you."

"But why--why?" Trina protested.

The dentist cuffed her ears. "I won't have you work." He took herknife and her paint-pots awayand made her sit idly in the window the rest ofthe afternoon.

It washoweveronly when his wits had been stirred with alcohol that thedentist was brutal to his wife. At other timessay three weeks of every monthshe was merely an incumbrance to him. They often quarrelled about Trina's moneyher savings. The dentist was bent upon having at least a part of them. What hewould do with the money once he had ithe did not precisely know. He wouldspend it in royal fashionno doubtfeasting continuallybuying himselfwonderful clothes. The miner's idea of money quickly gained and lavishlysquanderedpersisted in his mind. As for Trinathe more her husband stormedthe tighter she drew the strings of the little chamois-skin bag that she hid atthe bottom of her trunk underneath her bridal dress. Her five thousand dollarsinvested in Uncle Oelbermann's business was a glitteringsplendid dream whichcame to her almost every hour of the day as a solace and a compensation for allher unhappiness.

At timeswhen she knew that McTeague was far from homeshe would lock herdooropen her trunkand pile all her little hoard on her table. By now it wasfour hundred and seven dollars and fifty cents. Trina would play with this moneyby the hourpiling itand repiling itor gathering it all into one heapanddrawing back to the farthest corner of the room to note the effecther head onone side. She polished the gold pieces with a mixture of soap and ashes untilthey shonewiping them carefully on her apron. Oragainshe would draw theheap lovingly toward her and bury her face in itdelighted at the smell of itand the feel of the smoothcool metal on her cheeks. She even put the smallergold pieces in her mouthand jingled them there. She loved her money with anintensity that she could hardly express. She would plunge her small fingers intothe pile with little murmurs of affectionher longnarrow eyes half closed andshiningher breath coming in long sighs.

"Ahthe dear moneythe dear money" she would whisper. "Ilove you so! All mineevery penny of it. No one shall everever get you. HowI've worked for you! How I've slaved and saved for you! And I'm going to getmore; I'm going to get moremoremore; a little every day."

She was still looking for cheaper quarters. Whenever she could spare a momentfrom her workshe would put on her hat and range up and down the entireneighborhood from Sutter to Sacramento Streetsgoing into all the alleys andbystreetsher head in the airlooking for the "Rooms-to-let" sign.But she was in despair. All the cheaper tenements were occupied. She could findno room more reasonable than the one she and the dentist now occupied.

As time went onMcTeague's idleness became habitual. He drank no morewhiskey than at firstbut his dislike for Trina increased with every day oftheir povertywith every day of Trina's persistent stinginess. Attimes--fortunately rare he was more than ever brutal to her. He would box herears or hit her a great blow with the back of a hair-brushor even with hisclosed fist. His old-time affection for his "little woman" unable tostand the test of privationhad lapsed by degreesand what little of it wasleft was changeddistortedand made monstrous by the alcohol.

The people about the house and the clerks at the provision stores oftenremarked that Trina's fingertips were swollen and the nails purple as thoughthey had been shut in a door. Indeedthis was the explanation she gave. Thefact of the matter was that McTeaguewhen he had been drinkingused to bitethemcrunching and grinding them with his immense teethalways ingeniousenough to remember which were the sorest. Sometimes he extorted money from herby this meansbut as often as not he did it for his own satisfaction.

And in some strangeinexplicable way this brutality made Trina all the moreaffectionate; aroused in her a morbidunwholesome love of submissionastrangeunnatural pleasure in yieldingin surrendering herself to the will ofan irresistiblevirile power.

Trina's emotions had narrowed with the narrowing of her daily life. Theyreduced themselves at last to but twoher passion for her money and herperverted love for her husband when he was brutal. She was a strange womanduring these days.

Trina had come to be on very intimate terms with Maria Macapaand in the endthe dentist's wife and the maid of all work became great friends. Maria wasconstantly in and out of Trina's roomandwhenever she couldTrina threw ashawl over her head and returned Maria's calls. Trina could reach Zerkow's dirtyhouse without going into the street. The back yard of the flat had a gate thatopened into a little inclosure where Zerkow kept his decrepit horse andramshackle wagonand from thence Trina could enter directly into Maria'skitchen. Trina made long visits to Maria during the morning in her dressing-gownand curl papersand the two talked at great length over a cup of tea served onthe edge of the sink or a corner of the laundry table. The talk was all of theirhusbands and of what to do when they came home in aggressive moods.

"You never ought to fight um" advised Maria. "It only makesum worse. Just hump your backand it's soonest over."

They told each other of their husbands' brutalitiestaking a strange sort ofpride in recounting some particularly savage bloweach trying to make out thather own husband was the most cruel. They critically compared each other'sbruiseseach one glad when she could exhibit the worst. They exaggeratedtheyinvented detailsandas if proud of their beatingsas if glorying in theirhusbands' mishandlinglied to each othermagnifying their own maltreatment.They had long and excited arguments as to which were the most effective means ofpunishmentthe rope's ends and cart whips such as Zerkow usedor the fists andbacks of hair-brushes affected by McTeague. Maria contended that the lash of thewhip hurt the most; Trinathat the butt did the most injury.

Maria showed Trina the holes in the walls and the loosened boards in theflooring where Zerkow had been searching for the gold plate. Of late he had beendigging in the back yard and had ransacked the hay in his horse-shed for theconcealed leather chest he imagined he would find. But he was becomingimpatientevidently.

"The way he goes on" Maria told Trina"is somethun dreadful.He's gettun regularly sick with it--got a fever every night--don't sleepandwhen he doestalks to himself. Says 'More'n a hundred piecesan' every one of'em gold. More'n a hundred piecesan' every one of 'em gold.' Then he'll whaleme with his whipand shout'You know where it is. Tell metell meyou swineor I'll do for you.' An' then he'll get down on his knees and whimperand begme to tell um where I've hid it. He's just gone plum crazy. Sometimes he hasregular fitshe gets so madand rolls on the floor and scratcheshimself."

One morning in Novemberabout ten o'clockTrina pasted a "Made inFrance" label on the bottom of a Noah's arkand leaned back in her chairwith a long sigh of relief. She had just finished a large Christmas order forUncle Oelbermannand there was nothing else she could do that morning. The bedhad not yet been madenor had the breakfast things been washed. Trina hesitatedfor a momentthen put her chin in the air indifferently.

"Bah!" she said"let them go till this afternoon. I don'tcare WHEN the room is put to rightsand I know Mac don't." She determinedthat instead of making the bed or washing the dishes she would go and call onMiss Baker on the floor below. The little dressmaker might ask her to stay tolunchand that would be something savedas the dentist had announced hisintention that morning of taking a long walk out to the Presidio to be gone allday.

But Trina rapped on Miss Baker's door in vain that morning. She was out.Perhaps she was gone to the florist's to buy some geranium seeds. HoweverOldGrannis's door stood a little ajarand on hearing Trina at Miss Baker's roomthe old Englishman came out into the hall.

"She's gone out" he saiduncertainlyand in a half whisper"went out about half an hour ago. I--I think she went to the drug store toget some wafers for the goldfish."

"Don't you go to your dog hospital any moreMister Grannis?" saidTrinaleaning against the balustrade in the hallwilling to talk a moment.

Old Grannis stood in the doorway of his roomin his carpet slippers andfaded corduroy jacket that he wore when at home.

"Why--why" he saidhesitatingtapping his chin thoughtfully."You see I'm thinking of giving up the little hospital."

"Giving it up?"

"You seethe people at the book store where I buy my pamphlets havefound out--I told them of my contrivance for binding booksand one of themembers of the firm came up to look at it. He offered me quite a sum if I wouldsell him the right of it--the--patent of it--quite a sum. In fact-- infact--yesquite a sumquite." He rubbed his chin tremulously and lookedabout him on the floor.

"Whyisn't that fine?" said Trinagood-naturedly. "I'm verygladMister Grannis. Is it a good price?"

"Quite a sum--quite. In factI never dreamed of having so muchmoney."

"Nowsee hereMister Grannis" said Trinadecisively"Iwant to give you a good piece of advice. Here are you and Miss Baker----"The old Englishman started nervously--"You and Miss Bakerthat have beenin love with each other for----"

"OhMrs. McTeaguethat subject--if you would please--Miss Baker issuch an estimable lady."

"Fiddlesticks!" said Trina. "You're in love with each otherand the whole flat knows it; and you two have been living here side by side yearin and year outand you've never said a word to each other. It's all nonsense.NowI want you should go right in and speak to her just as soon as she comeshomeand say you've come into money and you want her to marry you."

"Impossible--impossible!" exclaimed the old Englishmanalarmed andperturbed. "It's quite out of the question. I wouldn't presume."

"Welldo you love heror not?"

"ReallyMrs. McTeagueI--I--you must excuse me. It's a matter sopersonal--so--I--OhyesI love her. Ohyesindeed" he exclaimedsuddenly.

"Wellthenshe loves you. She told me so."

"Oh!"

"She did. She said those very words."

Miss Baker had said nothing of the kind--would have died sooner than havemade such a confession; but Trina had drawn her own conclusionslike everyother lodger of the flatand thought the time was come for decided action.

"Now you do just as I tell youand when she comes homego right in andsee herand have it over with. Nowdon't say another word. I'm going; but youdo just as I tell you."

Trina turned about and went down-stairs. She had decidedsince Miss Bakerwas not at homethat she would run over and see Maria; possibly she could havelunch there. At any rateMaria would offer her a cup of tea.

Old Grannis stood for a long time just as Trina had left himhis handstremblingthe blood coming and going in his withered cheeks.

"She saidshe--she--she told her--she said that--that----" hecould get no farther.

Then he faced about and entered his roomclosing the door behind him. For along time he sat in his armchairdrawn close to the wall in front of the tableon which stood his piles of pamphlets and his little binding apparatus.

"I wonder" said Trinaas she crossed the yard back of Zerkow'shouse"I wonder what rent Zerkow and Maria pay for this place. I'll betit's cheaper than where Mac and I are."

Trina found Maria sitting in front of the kitchen stoveher chin upon herbreast. Trina went up to her. She was dead. And as Trina touched her shoulderher head rolled sideways and showed a fearful gash in her throat under her ear.All the front of her dress was soaked through and through.

Trina backed sharply away from the bodydrawing her hands up to her veryshouldersher eyes staring and widean expression of unutterable horrortwisting her face.

"Oh-h-h!" she exclaimed in a long breathher voice hardly risingabove a whisper. "Oh-hisn't that horrible!" Suddenly she turned andfled through the front part of the house to the street doorthat opened uponthe little alley. She looked wildly about her. Directly across the way abutcher's boy was getting into his two-wheeled cart drawn up in front of theopposite housewhile near by a peddler of wild game was coming down the streeta brace of ducks in his hand.

"Ohsay--say" gasped Trinatrying to get her voice"saycome over here quick."

The butcher's boy pausedone foot on the wheeland stared. Trina beckonedfrantically.

"Come over herecome over here quick."

The young fellow swung himself into his seat.

"What's the matter with that woman?" he saidhalf aloud.

"There's a murder been done" cried Trinaswaying in the doorway.

The young fellow drove awayhis head over his shoulderstaring at Trinawith eyes that were fixed and absolutely devoid of expression.

"What's the matter with that woman?" he said again to himself as heturned the corner.

Trina wondered why she didn't screamhow she could keep from it--howatsuch a moment as thisshe could remember that it was improper to make adisturbance and create a scene in the street. The peddler of wild game waslooking at her suspiciously. It would not do to tell him. He would go away likethe butcher's boy.

"Nowwait a minute" Trina said to herselfspeaking aloud. Sheput her hands to her head. "Nowwait a minute. It won't do for me to losemy wits now. What must I do?" She looked about her. There was the samefamiliar aspect of Polk Street. She could see it at the end of the alley. Thebig market opposite the flatthe delivery carts rattling up and downthe greatladies from the avenue at their morning shoppingthe cable cars trundling pastloaded with passengers. She saw a little boy in a flat leather cap whistling andcalling for an unseen dogslapping his small knee from time to time. Two mencame out of Frenna's saloonlaughing heartily. Heise the harness-maker stood inthe vestibule of his shopa bundle of whittlings in his apron of greasyticking. And all this was going onpeople were laughing and livingbuying andsellingwalking about out there on the sunny sidewalkswhile behind her inthere --in there--in there----

Heise started back from the sudden apparition of a white- lipped woman in ablue dressing-gown that seemed to rise up before him from his very doorstep.

"WellMrs. McTeagueyou did scare mefor----"

"Ohcome over here quick." Trina put her hand to her neck;swallowing something that seemed to be choking her. "Maria'skilled--Zerkow's wife--I found her."

"Get out!" exclaimed Heise"you're joking."

"Come over here--over into the house--I found her--she's dead."

Heise dashed across the street on the runwith Trina at his heelsa trailof spilled whittlings marking his course. The two ran down the alley. Thewild-game peddlera woman who had been washing down the steps in a neighboringhouseand a man in a broad-brimmed hat stood at Zerkow's doorwaylooking infrom time to timeand talking together. They seemed puzzled.

"Anything wrong in here?" asked the wild-game peddler as Heise andTrina came up. Two more men stopped on the corner of the alley and Polk Streetand looked at the group. A woman with a towel round her head raised a windowopposite Zerkow's house and called to the woman who had been washing the steps"What is itMrs. Flint?"

Heise was already inside the house. He turned to Trinapanting from his run.

"Where did you say--where was it--where?"

"In there" said Trina"farther in--the next room." Theyburst into the kitchen.

"LORD!" ejaculated Heisestopping a yard or so from the bodyandbending down to peer into the gray face with its brown lips.

"By God! he's killed her."

"Who?"

"Zerkowby God! he's killed her. Cut her throat. He always said hewould."

"Zerkow?"

"He's killed her. Her throat's cut. Good Lordhow she did bleed! ByGod! he's done for her in good shape this time."

"OhI told her--I TOLD her" cried Trina.

"He's done for her SURE this time."

"She said she could always manage--Oh-h! It's horrible."

"He's done for her sure this trip. Cut her throat. LORDhow she hasBLED! Did you ever see so much-- that's murder--that's cold-blooded murder. He'skilled her. Saywe must get a policeman. Come on."

They turned back through the house. Half a dozen people-- the wild-gamepeddlerthe man with the broad-brimmed hatthe washwomanand three othermen--were in the front room of the junk shopa bank of excited faces surged atthe door. Beyond thisoutsidethe crowd was packed solid from one end of thealley to the other. Out in Polk Street the cable cars were nearly blocked andwere bunting a way slowly through the throng with clanging bells. Every windowhad its group. And as Trina and the harness-maker tried to force the way fromthe door of the junk shop the throng suddenly parted right and left before thepassage of two blue-coated policemen who clove a passage through the pressworking their elbows energetically. They were accompanied by a third man incitizen's clothes.

Heise and Trina went back into the kitchen with the two policementhe thirdman in citizen's clothes cleared the intruders from the front room of the junkshop and kept the crowd backhis arm across the open door.

"Whew!" whistled one of the officers as they came out into thekitchen"cutting scrape? By George! SOMEBODY'S been using his knife allright." He turned to the other officer. "Better get the wagon. There'sa box on the second corner south. Nowthen" he continuedturning toTrina and the harness-maker and taking out his note-book and pencil"Iwant your names and addresses."

It was a day of tremendous excitement for the entire street. Long after thepatrol wagon had driven awaythe crowd remained. In factuntil seven o'clockthat evening groups collected about the door of the junk shopwhere a policemanstood guardasking all manner of questionsadvancing all manner of opinions.

"Do you think they'll get him?" asked Ryer of the policeman. Adozen necks craned forward eagerly.

"Hohwe'll get him all righteasy enough" answered the otherwith a grand air.

"What? What's that? What did he say?" asked the people on theoutskirts of the group. Those in front passed the answer back.

"He says they'll get him all righteasy enough."

The group looked at the policeman admiringly.

"He's skipped to San Jose."

Where the rumor startedand howno one knew. But every one seemed persuadedthat Zerkow had gone to San Jose.

"But what did he kill her for? Was he drunk?"

"Nohe was crazyI tell you--crazy in the head. Thought she was hidingsome money from him."

Frenna did a big business all day long. The murder was the one subject ofconversation. Little parties were made up in his saloon--parties of twos andthrees--to go over and have a look at the outside of the junk shop. Heise wasthe most important man the length and breadth of Polk Street; almost invariablyhe accompanied these partiestelling again and again of the part he had playedin the affair.

"It was about eleven o'clock. I was standing in front of the shopwhenMrs. McTeague--you knowthe dentist's wife-- came running across thestreet" and so on and so on.

The next day came a fresh sensation. Polk Street read of it in the morningpapers. Towards midnight on the day of the murder Zerkow's body had been foundfloating in the bay near Black Point. No one knew whether he had drowned himselfor fallen from one of the wharves. Clutched in both his hands was a sack full ofold and rusty panstin dishes--fully a hundred of them--tin cansand ironknives and forkscollected from some dump heap.

"And all this" exclaimed Trina"on account of a set of golddishes that never existed."

CHAPTER 17

One dayabout a fortnight after the coroner's inquest had been heldandwhen the excitement of the terrible affair was calming down and Polk Streetbeginning to resume its monotonous routineOld Grannis sat in his cleanwell-kept little roomin his cushioned armchairhis hands lying idly upon hisknees. It was evening; not quite time to light the lamps. Old Grannis had drawnhis chair close to the wall-- so closein factthat he could hear Miss Baker'sgrenadine brushing against the other side of the thin partitionat his veryelbowwhile she rocked gently back and fortha cup of tea in her hands.

Old Grannis's occupation was gone. That morning the book- selling firm wherehe had bought his pamphlets had taken his little binding apparatus from him touse as a model. The transaction had been concluded. Old Grannis had received hischeck. It was large enoughto be surebut when all was overhe returned tohis room and sat there sad and unoccupiedlooking at the pattern in the carpetand counting the heads of the tacks in the zinc guard that was fastened to thewall behind his little stove. By and by he heard Miss Baker moving about. It wasfive o'clockthe time when she was accustomed to make her cup of tea and"keep company" with him on her side of the partition. Old Grannis drewup his chair to the wall near where he knew she was sitting. The minutes passed;side by sideand separated by only a couple of inches of boardthe two oldpeople sat there togetherwhile the afternoon grew darker.

But for Old Grannis all was different that evening. There was nothing for himto do. His hands lay idly in his lap. His tablewith its pile of pamphletswasin a far corner of the roomandfrom time to timestirred with an uncertaintroublehe turned his head and looked at it sadlyreflecting that he wouldnever use it again. The absence of his accustomed work seemed to leave somethingout of his life. It did not appear to him that he could be the same to MissBaker now; their little habits were disarrangedtheir customs broken up. Hecould no longer fancy himself so near to her. They would drift apart nowandshe would no longer make herself a cup of tea and "keep company" withhim when she knew that he would never again sit before his table binding uncutpamphlets. He had sold his happiness for money; he had bartered all his tardyromance for some miserable banknotes. He had not foreseen that it would be likethis. A vast regret welled up within him. What was that on the back of his hand?He wiped it dry with his ancient silk handkerchief.

Old Grannis leant his face in his hands. Not only did an inexplicable regretstir within himbut a certain great tenderness came upon him. The tears thatswam in his faded blue eyes were not altogether those of unhappiness. Nothislong-delayed affection that had come upon him in his later years filled him witha joy for which tears seemed to be the natural expression. For thirty years hiseyes had not been wetbut tonight he felt as if he were young again. He hadnever loved beforeand there was still a part of him that was only twenty yearsof age. He could not tell whether he was profoundly sad or deeply happy; but hewas not ashamed of the tears that brought the smart to his eyes and the ache tohis throat. He did not hear the timid rapping on his doorand it was not untilthe door itself opened that he looked up quickly and saw the little retireddressmaker standing on the thresholdcarrying a cup of tea on a tiny Japanesetray. She held it toward him.

"I was making some tea" she said"and I thought you wouldlike to have a cup."

Never after could the little dressmaker understand how she had broughtherself to do this thing. One moment she had been sitting quietly on her side ofthe partitionstirring her cup of tea with one of her Gorham spoons. She wasquietshe was peaceful. The evening was closing down tranquilly. Her room wasthe picture of calmness and order. The geraniums blooming in the starch boxes inthe windowthe aged goldfish occasionally turning his iridescent flank to catcha sudden glow of the setting sun. The next moment she had been all trepidation.It seemed to her the most natural thing in the world to make a steaming cup oftea and carry it in to Old Grannis next door. It seemed to her that he waswanting herthat she ought to go to him. With the brusque resolve andintrepidity that sometimes seizes upon very timid people--the courage of thecoward greater than all others--she had presented herself at the oldEnglishman's half-open doorandwhen he had not heeded her knockhad pushedit openand at lastafter all these yearsstood upon the threshold of hisroom. She had found courage enough to explain her intrusion.

"I was making some teaand I thought you would like to have acup."

Old Grannis dropped his hands upon either arm of his chairandleaningforward a littlelooked at her blankly. He did not speak.

The retired dressmaker's courage had carried her thus far; now it desertedher as abruptly as it had come. Her cheeks became scarlet; her funny littlefalse curls trembled with her agitation. What she had done seemed to herindecorous beyond expression. It was an enormity. Fancyshe had gone into hisroomINTO HIS ROOM--Mister Grannis's room. She had done this--she who could notpass him on the stairs without a qualm. What to do she did not know. She stooda fixtureon the threshold of his roomwithout even resolution enough to beata retreat. Helplesslyand with a little quaver in her voiceshe repeatedobstinately:

"I was making some teaand I thought you would like to have a cup oftea." Her agitation betrayed itself in the repetition of the word. She feltthat she could not hold the tray out another instant. Already she was tremblingso that half the tea was spilled.

Old Grannis still kept silencestill bending forwardwith wide eyeshishands gripping the arms of his chair.

Then with the tea-tray still held straight before herthe little dressmakerexclaimed tearfully:

"OhI didn't mean--I didn't mean--I didn't know it would seem likethis. I only meant to be kind and bring you some tea; and now it seems SOimproper. I--I--I'm SO ashamed! I don't know what you will think of me.I--" she caught her breath--"improper"--she managed to exclaim"unlady-like--you can never think well of me--I'll go. I'll go." Sheturned about.

"Stop" cried Old Grannisfinding his voice at last. Miss Bakerpausedlooking at him over her shoulderher eyes very wide openblinkingthrough her tearsfor all the world like a frightened child.

"Stop" exclaimed the old Englishmanrising to his feet. "Ididn't know it was you at first. I hadn't dreamed--I couldn't believe you wouldbe so goodso kind to me. Oh" he criedwith a sudden sharp breath"ohyou ARE kind. I--I--you have--have made me very happy."

"Nono" exclaimed Miss Bakerready to sob. "It wasunlady-like. You will--you must think ill of me." She stood in the hall.The tears were running down her cheeksand she had no free hand to dry them.

"Let me--I'll take the tray from you" cried Old Granniscomingforward. A tremulous joy came upon him. Never in his life had he been so happy.At last it had come--come when he had least expected it. That which he hadlonged for and hoped for through so many yearsbeholdit was come to- night.He felt his awkwardness leaving him. He was almost certain that the littledressmaker loved himand the thought gave him boldness. He came toward her andtook the tray from her handsandturning back into the room with itmade asif to set it upon his table. But the piles of his pamphlets were in the way.Both of his hands were occupied with the tray; he could not make a place for iton the table. He stood for a moment uncertainhis embarrassment returning.

"Ohwon't you--won't you please--" He turned his headlookingappealingly at the little old dressmaker.

"WaitI'll help you" she said. She came into the roomup to thetableand moved the pamphlets to one side.

"Thanksthanks" murmured Old Grannissetting down the tray.

"Now--now--now I will go back" she exclaimedhurriedly.

"No--no" returned the old Englishman. "Don't godon't go.I've been so lonely to-night--and last night too--all this year--all mylife" he suddenly cried.

"I--I--I've forgotten the sugar."

"But I never take sugar in my tea."

"But it's rather coldand I've spilled it--almost all of it."

"I'll drink it from the saucer." Old Grannis had drawn up hisarmchair for her.

"OhI shouldn't. This is--this is SO--You must think ill of me."Suddenly she sat downand resting her elbows on the tablehid her face in herhands.

"Think ILL of you?" cried Old Grannis"think ILL of you? Whyyou don't know--you have no idea--all these years--living so close to youI--I--" he paused suddenly. It seemed to him as if the beating of his heartwas choking him.

"I thought you were binding your books to-night" said Miss Bakersuddenly"and you looked tired. I thought you looked tired when I last sawyouand a cup of teayou knowit--that--that does you so much good whenyou're tired. But you weren't binding books."

"Nono" returned Old Grannisdrawing up a chair and sittingdown. "NoI--the fact isI've sold my apparatus; a firm of booksellershas bought the rights of it."

"And aren't you going to bind books any more?" exclaimed the littledressmakera shade of disappointment in her manner. "I thought you alwaysdid about four o'clock. I used to hear you when I was making tea."

It hardly seemed possible to Miss Baker that she was actually talking to OldGrannisthat the two were really chatting togetherface to faceand withoutthe dreadful embarrassment that used to overwhelm them both when they met on thestairs. She had often dreamed of thisbut had always put it off to somefar-distant day. It was to come graduallylittle by littleinstead ofas nowabruptly and with no preparation. That she should permit herself theindiscretion of actually intruding herself into his room had never so much asoccurred to her. Yet here she wasIN HIS ROOMand they were talking togetherand little by little her embarrassment was wearing away.

"YesyesI always heard you when you were making tea" returnedthe old Englishman; "I heard the tea things. Then I used to draw my chairand my work-table close to the wall on my sideand sit there and work while youdrank your tea just on the other side; and I used to feel very near to you then.I used to pass the whole evening that way."

"Andyes--yes--I did too" she answered. "I used to make teajust at that time and sit there for a whole hour."

"And didn't you sit close to the partition on your side? Sometimes I wassure of it. I could even fancy that I could hear your dress brushing against thewall-paper close beside me. Didn't you sit close to the partition?"

"I--I don't know where I sat."

Old Grannis shyly put out his hand and took hers as it lay upon her lap.

"Didn't you sit close to the partition on your side?" he insisted.

"No--I don't know--perhaps--sometimes. Ohyes" she exclaimedwith a little gasp"OhyesI often did."

Then Old Grannis put his arm about herand kissed her faded cheekthatflushed to pink upon the instant.

After that they spoke but little. The day lapsed slowly into twilightandthe two old people sat there in the gray eveningquietlyquietlytheir handsin each other's hands"keeping company" but now with nothing toseparate them. It had come at last. After all these years they were together;they understood each other. They stood at length in a little Elysium of theirown creating. They walked hand in hand in a delicious garden where it was alwaysautumn. Far from the world and together they entered upon the long retardedromance of their commonplace and uneventful lives.

CHAPTER 18

That same night McTeague was awakened by a shrill screamand woke to findTrina's arms around his neck. She was trembling so that the bed-springs creaked.

"Huh?" cried the dentistsitting up in bedraising his clinchedfists. "Huh? What? What? What is it? What is it?"

"OhMac" gasped his wife"I had such an awful dream. Idreamed about Maria. I thought she was chasing meand I couldn't runand herthroat was--Ohshe was all covered with blood. Oh-hI am so frightened!"

Trina had borne up very well for the first day or so after the affairandhad given her testimony to the coroner with far greater calmness than Heise. Itwas only a week later that the horror of the thing came upon her again. She wasso nervous that she hardly dared to be alone in the daytimeand almost everynight woke with a cry of terrortrembling with the recollection of somedreadful nightmare. The dentist was irritated beyond all expression by hernervousnessand especially was he exasperated when her cries woke him suddenlyin the middle of the night. He would sit up in bedrolling his eyes wildlythrowing out his huge fists--at whathe did not know--exclaiming"Whatwhat--" bewildered and hopelessly confused. Then when he realized that itwas only Trinahis anger kindled abruptly.

"Ohyou and your dreams! You go to sleepor I'll give you a dressingdown." Sometimes he would hit her a great thwack with his open palmorcatch her hand and bite the tips of her fingers. Trina would lie awake for hoursafterwardcrying softly to herself. Thenby and by"Mac" she wouldsay timidly.

"Huh?"

"Macdo you love me?"

"Huh? What? Go to sleep."

"Don't you love me any moreMac?"

"Ohgo to sleep. Don't bother me."

"Welldo you LOVE meMac?"

"I guess so."

"OhMacI've only you nowand if you don't love mewhat is going tobecome of me?"

"Shut upan' let me go to sleep."

"Welljust tell me that you love me."

The dentist would turn abruptly away from herburying his big blond head inthe pillowand covering up his ears with the blankets. Then Trina would sobherself to sleep.

The dentist had long since given up looking for a job. Between breakfast andsupper time Trina saw but little of him. Once the morning meal overMcTeaguebestirred himselfput on his cap--he had given up wearing even a hat since hiswife had made him sell his silk hat--and went out. He had fallen into the habitof taking long and solitary walks beyond the suburbs of the city. Sometimes itwas to the Cliff Houseoccasionally to the Park (where he would sit on thesun-warmed benchessmoking his pipe and reading ragged ends of old newspapers)but more often it was to the Presidio Reservation. McTeague would walk out tothe end of the Union Street car lineentering the Reservation at the terminusthen he would work down to the shore of the bayfollow the shore line to theOld Fort at the Golden Gateandturning the Point herecome out suddenly uponthe full sweep of the Pacific. Then he would follow the beach down to a certainpoint of rocks that he knew. Here he would turn inlandclimbing the bluffs to arolling grassy down sown with blue iris and a yellow flower that he did not knowthe name of. On the far side of this down was a broadwell-kept road. McTeaguewould keep to this road until he reached the city again by the way of theSacramento Street car line. The dentist loved these walks. He liked to be alone.He liked the solitude of the tremendoustumbling ocean; the freshwindy downs;he liked to feel the gusty Trades flogging his faceand he would remain forhours watching the roll and plunge of the breakers with the silentunreasonedenjoyment of a child. All at once he developed a passion for fishing. He wouldsit all day nearly motionless upon a point of rockshis fish-line between hisfingershappy if he caught three perch in twelve hours. At noon he would retireto a bit of level turf around an angle of the shore and cook his fisheatingthem without salt or knife or fork. He thrust a pointed stick down the mouth ofthe perchand turned it slowly over the blaze. When the grease stoppeddrippinghe knew that it was doneand would devour it slowly and withtremendous relishpicking the bones cleaneating even the head. He rememberedhow often he used to do this sort of thing when he was a boy in the mountains ofPlacer Countybefore he became a car-boy at the mine. The dentist enjoyedhimself hugely during these days. The instincts of the old-time miner werereturning. In the stress of his misfortune McTeague was lapsing back to hisearly estate.

One evening as he reached home after such a tramphe was surprised to findTrina standing in front of what had been Zerkow's houselooking at itthoughtfullyher finger on her lips.

"What you doing here'?" growled the dentist as he came up. Therewas a "Rooms-to-let" sign on the street door of the house.

"Now we've found a place to move to" exclaimed Trina.

"What?" cried McTeague. "Therein that dirty housewhere youfound Maria?"

"I can't afford that room in the flat any morenow that you can't getany work to do."

"But there's where Zerkow killed Maria--the very house --an' you wake upan' squeal in the night just thinking of it."

"I know. I know it will be bad at firstbut I'll get used to itan'it's just half again as cheap as where we are now. I was looking at a room; wecan have it dirt cheap. It's a back room over the kitchen. A German family aregoing to take the front part of the house and sublet the rest. I'm going to takeit. It'll be money in my pocket."

"But it won't be any in mine" vociferated the dentistangrily."I'll have to live in that dirty rat hole just so's you can save money. Iain't any the better off for it."

"Find work to doand then we'll talk" declared Trina. "I'Mgoing to save up some money against a rainy day; and if I can save more byliving here I'm going to do iteven if it is the house Maria was killed in. Idon't care."

"All right" said McTeagueand did not make any further protest.His wife looked at him surprised. She could not understand this suddenacquiescence. Perhaps McTeague was so much away from home of late that he hadceased to care where or how he lived. But this sudden change troubled her alittle for all that.

The next day the McTeagues moved for a second time. It did not take themlong. They were obliged to buy the bed from the landladya circumstance whichnearly broke Trina's heart; and this beda couple of chairsTrina's trunkanornament or twothe oil stoveand some plates and kitchen ware were all thatthey could call their own now; and this back room in that wretched house withits grisly memoriesthe one window looking out into a grimy maze of back yardsand broken shedswas what they now knew as their home.

The McTeagues now began to sink rapidly lower and lower. They becameaccustomed to their surroundings. Worst of allTrina lost her pretty ways andher good looks. The combined effects of hard workavaricepoor foodand herhusband's brutalities told on her swiftly. Her charming little figure grewcoarsestuntedand dumpy. She who had once been of a catlike neatnessnowslovened all day about the room in a dirty flannel wrapperher slippersclap-clapping after her as she walked. At last she even neglected her hairthewonderful swarthy tiarathe coiffure of a queenthat shaded her little paleforehead. In the morning she braided it before it was half combedand piled andcoiled it about her head in haphazard fashion. It came down half a dozen times aday; by evening it was an unkempttangled massa veritable rat's nest.

Ahnoit was not very gaythat life of herswhen one had to rustle fortwocook and work and washto say nothing of paying the rent. What odds was itif she was slatternlydirtycoarse? Was there time to make herself lookotherwiseand who was there to be pleased when she was all prinked out? Surelynot a great brute of a husband who bit you like a dogand kicked and poundedyou as though you were made of iron. Ahnobetter let things goand take itas easy as you could. Hump your backand it was soonest over.

The one room grew abominably dirtyreeking with the odors of cooking and of"non-poisonous" paint. The bed was not made until late in theafternoonsometimes not at all. Dirtyunwashed crockerygreasy knivessoddenfragments of yesterday's meals cluttered the tablewhile in one corner was theheap of evil-smellingdirty linen. Cockroaches appeared in the crevices of thewoodworkthe wall-paper bulged from the damp walls and began to peel. Trina hadlong ago ceased to dust or to wipe the furniture with a bit of rag. The grimegrew thick upon the window panes and in the corners of the room. All the filthof the alley invaded their quarters like a rising muddy tide.

Between the windowshoweverthe faded photograph of the couple in theirwedding finery looked down upon the wretchednessTrina still holding her setbouquet straight before herMcTeague standing at her sidehis left footforwardin the attitude of a Secretary of State; while near by hung the canarythe one thing the dentist clung to obstinatelypiping and chittering all day inits little gilt prison.

And the tooththe gigantic golden molar of French giltenormous andungainlysprawled its branching prongs in one corner of the roomby thefootboard of the bed. The McTeague's had come to use it as a sort of substitutefor a table. After breakfast and supper Trina piled the plates and greasy dishesupon it to have them out of the way.

One afternoon the Other DentistMcTeague's old-time rivalthe wearer ofmarvellous waistcoatswas surprised out of all countenance to receive a visitfrom McTeague. The Other Dentist was in his operating room at the timeat workupon a plaster-of-paris mould. To his call of "'Come right in. Don't yousee the sign'Enter without knocking'?" McTeague came in. He noted at oncehow airy and cheerful was the room. A little fire coughed and tittered on theheartha brindled greyhound sat on his haunches watching it intentlya greatmirror over the mantle offered to view an array of actresses' pictures thrustbetween the glass and the frameand a big bunch of freshly-cut violets stood ina glass bowl on the polished cherrywood table. The Other Dentist came forwardbrisklyexclaiming cheerfully:

"OhDoctor--Mister McTeaguehow do? how do?"

The fellow was actually wearing a velvet smoking jacket. A cigarette wasbetween his lips; his patent leather boots reflected the firelight. McTeaguewore a black surah neglige shirt without a cravat; huge buckled broganshob-nailedgrossencased his feet; the hems of his trousers were spotted with mud;his coat was frayed at the sleeves and a button was gone. In three days he hadnot shaved; his shock of heavy blond hair escaped from beneath the visor of hiswoollen cap and hung low over his forehead. He stood with awkwardshifting feetand uncertain eyes before the dapper young fellow who reeked of the barber shopand whom he had once ordered from his rooms.

"What can I do for you this morningMister McTeague? Something wrongwith the teetheh?"

"Nono." McTeaguefloundering in the difficulties of his speechforgot the carefully rehearsed words with which he had intended to begin thisinterview.

"I want to sell you my sign" he saidstupidly. "That bigtooth of French gilt--YOU know--that you made an offer for once."

"OhI don't want that now" said the other loftily. "I prefera little quiet signboardnothing pretentious--just the nameand"Dentist" after it. These big signs are vulgar. NoI don't wantit."

McTeague remainedlooking about on the floorhorribly embarrassednotknowing whether to go or to stay.

"But I don't know" said the Other Dentistreflectively. "Ifit will help you out any--I guess you're pretty hard up --I'll--wellI tell youwhat--I'll give you five dollars for it."

"All rightall right."

On the following Thursday morning McTeague woke to hear the eaves drippingand the prolonged rattle of the rain upon the roof.

"Raining" he growledin deep disgustsitting up in bedandwinking at the blurred window.

"It's been raining all night" said Trina. She was already up anddressedand was cooking breakfast on the oil stove.

McTeague dressed himselfgrumbling"WellI'll goanyhow. The fishwill bite all the better for the rain."

"Look hereMac" said Trinaslicing a bit of bacon as thinly asshe could. "Look herewhy don't you bring some of your fish homesometime?"

"Huh!" snorted the dentist"so's we could have 'em forbreakfast. Might save you a nickelmightn't it?"

"Welland if it did! Or you might fish for the market. The fishermanacross the street would buy 'em of you."

"Shut up!" exclaimed the dentistand Trina obediently subsided.

"Look here" continued her husbandfumbling in his trousers pocketand bringing out a dollar"I'm sick and tired of coffee and bacon andmashed potatoes. Go over to the market and get some kind of meat for breakfast.Get a steakor chopsor something.

"WhyMacthat's a whole dollarand he only gave you five for yoursign. We can't afford it. SureMac. Let me put that money away against a rainyday. You're just as well off without meat for breakfast."

"You do as I tell you. Get some steakor chopsor something."

"PleaseMacdear."

"Go onnow. I'll bite your fingers again pretty soon."

"But----"

The dentist took a step towards hersnatching at her hand.

"All rightI'll go" cried Trinawincing and shrinking."I'll go."

She did not get the chops at the big markethowever. Insteadshe hurried toa cheaper butcher shop on a side street two blocks awayand bought fifteencents' worth of chops from a side of mutton some two or three days old. She wasgone some little time.

"Give me the change" exclaimed the dentist as soon as shereturned. Trina handed him a quarter; and when McTeague was about to protestbroke in upon him with a rapid stream of talk that confused him upon theinstant. But for that matterit was never difficult for Trina to deceive thedentist. He never went to the bottom of things. He would have believed her ifshe had told him the chops had cost a dollar.

"There's sixty cents savedanyhow" thought Trinaas she clutchedthe money in her pocket to keep it from rattling.

Trina cooked the chopsand they breakfasted in silence. "Now"said McTeague as he rosewiping the coffee from his thick mustache with thehollow of his palm"now I'm going fishingrain or no rain. I'm going tobe gone all day."

He stood for a moment at the doorhis fish-line in his handswinging theheavy sinker back and forth. He looked at Trina as she cleared away thebreakfast things.

"So long" said henodding his huge square-cut head. Thisamiability in the matter of leave taking was unusual. Trina put the dishes downand came up to himher little chinonce so adorablein the air:

"Kiss me good-byMac" she saidputting her arms around his neck."You DO love me a little yetdon't youMac? We'll be happy again someday. This is hard times nowbut we'll pull out. You'll find something to dopretty soon."

"I guess so" growled McTeagueallowing her to kiss him.

The canary was stirring nimbly in its cageand just now broke out into ashrill trillingits little throat bulging and quivering. The dentist stared atit. "Say" he remarked slowly"I think I'll take that bird ofmine along."

"Sell it?" inquired Trina.

"Yesyessell it."

"Wellyou ARE coming to your senses at last" answered Trinaapprovingly. "But don't you let the bird-store man cheat you. That's a goodsongster; and with the cageyou ought to make him give you five dollars. Youstick out for that at firstanyhow."

McTeague unhooked the cage and carefully wrapped it in an old newspaperremarking"He might get cold. Wellso long" he repeated"solong."

"Good-byMac."

When he was goneTrina took the sixty cents she had stolen from him out ofher pocket and recounted it. "It's sixty centsall right" she saidproudly. "But I DO believe that dime is too smooth." She looked at itcritically. The clock on the power-house of the Sutter Street cable struckeight. "Eight o'clock already" she exclaimed. "I must get towork." She cleared the breakfast things from the tableand drawing up herchair and her workbox began painting the sets of Noah's ark animals she hadwhittled the day before. She worked steadily all the morning. At noon shelunchedwarming over the coffee left from breakfastand frying a couple ofsausages. By one she was bending over her table again. Her fingers--some of themlacerated by McTeague's teeth--flewand the little pile of cheap toys in thebasket at her elbow grew steadily.

"Where DO all the toys go to?" she murmured. "The thousandsand thousands of these Noah's arks that I have made--horses and chickens andelephants--and always there never seems to be enough. It's a good thing for methat children break their thingsand that they all have to have birthdays andChristmases." She dipped her brush into a pot of Vandyke brown and paintedone of the whittled toy horses in two strokes. Then a touch of ivory black witha small flat brush created the tail and maneand dots of Chinese white made theeyes. The turpentine in the paint dried it almost immediatelyand she tossedthe completed little horse into the basket.

At six o'clock the dentist had not returned. Trina waited until sevenandthen put her work awayand ate her supper alone.

"I wonder what's keeping Mac" she exclaimed as the clock from thepower-house on Sutter Street struck half-past seven. "I KNOW he's drinkingsomewhere" she criedapprehensively. "He had the money from his signwith him."

At eight o'clock she threw a shawl over her head and went over to the harnessshop. If anybody would know where McTeague was it would be Heise. But theharness-maker had seen nothing of him since the day before.

"He was in here yesterday afternoonand we had a drink or two atFrenna's. Maybe he's been in there to-day."

"Ohwon't you go in and see?" said Trina. "Mac always camehome to his supper--he never likes to miss his meals--and I'm getting frightenedabout him."

Heise went into the barroom next doorand returned with no definite news.Frenna had not seen the dentist since he had come in with the harness-maker theprevious afternoon. Trina even humbled herself to ask of the Ryers--with whomthey had quarrelled--if they knew anything of the dentist's whereaboutsbutreceived a contemptuous negative.

"Maybe he's come in while I've been out" said Trina to herself.She went down Polk Street againgoing towards the flat. The rain had stoppedbut the sidewalks were still glistening. The cable cars trundled byloaded withtheatregoers. The barbers were just closing their shops. The candy store on thecorner was brilliantly lighted and was filling upwhile the green and yellowlamps from the drug store directly opposite threw kaleidoscopic reflections deepdown into the shining surface of the asphalt. A band of Salvationists began toplay and pray in front of Frenna's saloon. Trina hurried on down the gay streetwith its evening's brilliancy and small activitiesher shawl over her headonehand lifting her faded skirt from off the wet pavements. She turned into thealleyentered Zerkow's old home by the ever-open doorand ran up-stairs to theroom. Nobody.

"Whyisn't this FUNNY" she exclaimedhalf aloudstanding on thethresholdher little milk-white forehead curdling to a frownone sore fingeron her lips. Then a great fear seized upon her. Inevitably she associated thehouse with a scene of violent death.

"Nono" she said to the darkness"Mac is all right. HE cantake care of himself." But for all that she had a clear-cut vision of herhusband's bodybloated with sea- waterhis blond hair streaming like kelprolling inertly in shifting waters.

"He couldn't have fallen off the rocks" she declared firmly."There--THERE he is now." She heaved a great sigh of relief as a heavytread sounded in the hallway below. She ran to the banisterslooking overandcalling"OhMac! Is that youMac?" It was the German whose familyoccupied the lower floor. The power-house clock struck nine.

"My Godwhere is Mac?" cried Trinastamping her foot.

She put the shawl over her head againand went out and stood on the cornerof the alley and Polk Streetwatching and waitingcraning her neck to see downthe street. Onceevenshe went out upon the sidewalk in front of the flat andsat down for a moment upon the horse-block there. She could not help rememberingthe day when she had been driven up to that horse-block in a hack. Her motherand father and Owgooste and the twins were with her. It was her wedding day. Herwedding dress was in a huge tin trunk on the driver's seat. She had never beenhappier before in all her life. She remembered how she got out of the hack andstood for a moment upon the horse-blocklooking up at McTeague's windows. Shehad caught a glimpse of him at his shavingthe lather still on his cheekandthey had waved their hands at each other. Instinctively Trina looked up at theflat behind her; looked up at the bay window where her husband's "DentalParlors" had been. It was all dark; the windows had the blindsightlessappearance imparted by vacantuntenanted rooms. A rusty iron rod projectedmournfully from one of the window ledges.

"There's where our sign hung once" said Trina. She turned her headand looked down Polk Street towards where the Other Dentist had his roomsandthereoverhanging the street from his windownewly furbished and brightenedhung the huge toothher birthday present to her husbandflashing and glowingin the white glare of the electric lights like a beacon of defiance and triumph.

"Ahno; ahno" whispered Trinachoking back a sob. "Lifeisn't so gay. But I wouldn't mindno I wouldn't mind anythingif only Mac washome all right." She got up from the horse-block and stood again on thecorner of the alleywatching and listening.

It grew later. The hours passed. Trina kept at her post. The noise ofapproaching footfalls grew less and less frequent. Little by little Polk Streetdropped back into solitude. Eleven o'clock struck from the power-house clock;lights were extinguished; at one o'clock the cable stoppedleaving an abruptand numbing silence in the air. All at once it seemed very still. The onlynoises were the occasional footfalls of a policeman and the persistent callingof ducks and geese in the closed market across the way. The street was asleep.

When it is night and darkand one is awake and aloneone's thoughts takethe color of the surroundings; become gloomysombreand very dismal. All atonce an idea came to Trinaa darkterrible idea; worseeventhan the idea ofMcTeague's death.

"Ohno" she cried. "Ohno. It isn't true. But suppose--suppose."

She left her post and hurried back to the house.

"Nono" she was saying under her breath"it isn't possible.Maybe he's even come home already by another way. Butsuppose--suppose--suppose."

She ran up the stairsopened the door of the roomand pausedout ofbreath. The room was dark and empty. With coldtrembling fingers she lightedthe lampandturning aboutlooked at her trunk. The lock was burst.

"Nonono" cried Trina"it's not true; it's nottrue." She dropped on her knees before the trunkand tossed back the lidand plunged her hands down into the corner underneath her wedding dresswhereshe always kept the savings. The brass match-safe and the chamois-skin bag werethere. They were empty.

Trina flung herself full length upon the floorburying her face in her armsrolling her head from side to side. Her voice rose to a wail.

"Nononoit's not true; it's not true; it's not true. Ohhecouldn't have done it. Ohhow could he have done it? All my moneyall mylittle savings--and deserted me. He's gonemy money's gonemy dear money--mydeardear gold pieces that I've worked so hard for. Ohto have desertedme--gone for good--gone and never coming back--gone with my gold pieces.Gone-gone--gone. I'll never see them againand I've worked so hardso so hardfor him--for them. NonoNOit's not true. It IS true. What will become of menow? Ohif you'll only come back you can have all the money--half of it. Ohgive me back my money. Give me back my moneyand I'll forgive you. You canleave me then if you want to. Ohmy money. MacMacyou've gone for good. Youdon't love me any moreand now I'm a beggar. My money's gonemy husband'sgonegonegonegone!"

Her grief was terrible. She dug her nails into her scalpand clutching theheavy coils of her thick black hair tore it again and again. She struck herforehead with her clenched fists. Her little body shook from head to foot withthe violence of her sobbing. She ground her small teeth together and beat herhead upon the floor with all her strength.

Her hair was uncoiled and hanging a tangleddishevelled mass far below herwaist; her dress was torn; a spot of blood was upon her forehead; her eyes wereswollen; her cheeks flamed vermilion from the fever that raged in her veins. OldMiss Baker found her thus towards five o'clock the next morning.

What had happened between one o'clock and dawn of that fearful night Trinanever remembered. She could only recall herselfas in a picturekneelingbefore her broken and rifled trunkand then--weeks laterso it seemed to her--she woke to find herself in her own bed with an iced bandage about her foreheadand the little old dressmaker at her sidestroking her hotdry palm.

The facts of the matter were that the German woman who lived below had beenawakened some hours after midnight by the sounds of Trina's weeping. She hadcome upstairs and into the room to find Trina stretched face downward upon thefloorhalf-conscious and sobbingin the throes of an hysteria for which therewas no relief. The womanterrifiedhad called her husbandand between themthey had got Trina upon the bed. Then the German woman happened to remember thatTrina had friends in the big flat near byand had sent her husband to fetch theretired dressmakerwhile she herself remained behind to undress Trina and puther to bed. Miss Baker had come over at onceand began to cry herself at thesight of the dentist's poor little wife. She did not stop to ask what thetrouble wasand indeed it would have been useless to attempt to get anycoherent explanation from Trina at that time. Miss Baker had sent the Germanwoman's husband to get some ice at one of the "all-night" restaurantsof the street; had kept coldwet towels on Trina's head; had combed andrecombed her wonderful thick hair; and had sat down by the side of the bedholding her hot handwith its poor maimed fingerswaiting patiently untilTrina should be able to speak.

Towards morning Trina awoke--or perhaps it was a mere regaining ofconsciousness--looked a moment at Miss Bakerthen about the room until her eyesfell upon her trunk with its broken lock. Then she turned over upon the pillowand began to sob again. She refused to answer any of the little dressmaker'squestionsshaking her head violentlyher face hidden in the pillow.

By breakfast time her fever had increased to such a point that Miss Bakertook matters into her own hands and had the German woman call a doctor. Hearrived some twenty minutes later. He was a bigkindly fellow who lived overthe drug store on the corner. He had a deep voice and a tremendous striding gaitless suggestive of a physician than of a sergeant of a cavalry troop.

By the time of his arrival little Miss Baker had divined intuitively theentire trouble. She heard the doctor's swinging tramp in the entry belowandheard the German woman saying:

"Righd oop der stairsat der back of der halle. Der room mit der dooroppen."

Miss Baker met the doctor at the landingshe told him in a whisper of thetrouble.

"Her husband's deserted herI'm afraiddoctorand took all of hermoney--a good deal of it. It's about killed the poor child. She was out of herhead a good deal of the nightand now she's got a raging fever."

The doctor and Miss Baker returned to the room and enteredclosing the door.The big doctor stood for a moment looking down at Trina rolling her head fromside to side upon the pillowher face scarlether enormous mane of hair spreadout on either side of her. The little dressmaker remained at his elbowlookingfrom him to Trina.

"Poor little woman!" said the doctor; "poor littlewoman!"

Miss Baker pointed to the trunkwhispering:

"Seethere's where she kept her savings. Seehe broke the lock."

"WellMrs. McTeague" said the doctorsitting down by the bedand taking Trina's wrist"a little fevereh?"

Trina opened her eyes and looked at himand then at Miss Baker. She did notseem in the least surprised at the unfamiliar faces. She appeared to consider itall as a matter of course.

"Yes" she saidwith a longtremulous breath"I have afeverand my head--my head aches and aches."

The doctor prescribed rest and mild opiates. Then his eye fell upon thefingers of Trina's right hand. He looked at them sharply. A deep red glowunmistakable to a physician's eyeswas upon some of themextending from thefinger tips up to the second knuckle.

"Hello" he exclaimed"what's the matter here?" In factsomething was very wrong indeed. For days Trina had noticed it. The fingers ofher right hand had swollen as never beforeaching and discolored. Cruellylacerated by McTeague's brutality as they wereshe had nevertheless gone onabout her work on the Noah's ark animalsconstantly in contact with the"non-poisonous" paint. She told as much to the doctor in answer to hisquestions. He shook his head with an exclamation.

"Whythis is blood-poisoningyou know" he told her; "theworst kind. You'll have to have those fingers amputatedbeyond a doubtor losethe entire hand--or even worse."

"And my work!" exclaimed Trina.

CHAPTER 19

One can hold a scrubbing-brush with two good fingers and the stumps of twoothers even if both joints of the thumb are gonebut it takes considerablepractice to get used to it.

Trina became a scrub-woman. She had taken council of Selinaand through herhad obtained the position of care- taker in a little memorial kindergarten overon Pacific Street. Like Polk Streetit was an accommodation streetbut runningthrough a much poorer and more sordid quarter. Trina had a little room over thekindergarten schoolroom. It was not an unpleasant room. It looked out upon asunny little court floored with boards and used as the children's playground.Two great cherry trees grew herethe leaves almost brushing against the windowof Trina's room and filtering the sunlight so that it fell in round golden spotsupon the floor of the room. "Like gold pieces" Trina said to herself.

Trina's work consisted in taking care of the kindergarten roomsscrubbingthe floorswashing the windowsdusting and airingand carrying out the ashes.Besides this she earned some five dollars a month by washing down the frontsteps of some big flats on Washington Streetand by cleaning out vacant housesafter the tenants had left. She saw no one. Nobody knew her. She went about herwork from dawn to darkand often entire days passed when she did not hear thesound of her own voice. She was alonea solitaryabandoned womanlost in thelowest eddies of the great city's tide--the tide that always ebbs.

When Trina had been discharged from the hospital after the operation on herfingersshe found herself alone in the worldalone with her five thousanddollars. The interest of this would support herand yet allow her to save alittle.

But for a time Trina had thought of giving up the fight altogether and ofjoining her family in the southern part of the State. But even while shehesitated about this she received a long letter from her motheran answer toone she herself had written just before the amputation of her right- handfingers--the last letter she would ever be able to write. Mrs. Sieppe's letterwas one long lamentation; she had her own misfortunes to bewail as well as thoseof her daughter. The carpet-cleaning and upholstery business had failed. Mr.Sieppe and Owgooste had left for New Zealand with a colonization companywhither Mrs. Sieppe and the twins were to follow them as soon as the colonyestablished itself. So far from helping Trina in her ill fortuneit was sheher motherwho might some day in the near future be obliged to turn to Trinafor aid. So Trina had given up the idea of any help from her family. For thatmatter she needed none. She still had her five thousandand Uncle Oelbermannpaid her the interest with a machine-like regularity. Now that McTeague had leftherthere was one less mouth to feed; and with this savingtogether with thelittle she could earn as scrub-womanTrina could almost manage to make good theamount she lost by being obliged to cease work upon the Noah's ark animals.

Little by little her sorrow over the loss of her precious savings overcamethe grief of McTeague's desertion of her. Her avarice had grown to be her onedominant passion; her love of money for the money's sake brooded in her heartdriving out by degrees every other natural affection. She grew thin and meagre;her flesh clove tight to her small skeleton; her small pale mouth and littleuplifted chin grew to have a certain feline eagerness of expression; her longnarrow eyes glistened continuallyas if they caught and held the glint ofmetal. One day as she sat in her roomthe empty brass match-box and the limpchamois bag in her handsshe suddenly exclaimed:

"I could have forgiven him if he had only gone away and left me mymoney. I could have--yesI could have forgiven him even THIS"--she lookedat the stumps of her fingers. "But now" her teeth closed tight andher eyes flashed"now--I'll--never--forgive--him--as-long--as--I--live."

The empty bag and the hollowlight match-box troubled her. Day after day shetook them from her trunk and wept over them as other women weep over a deadbaby's shoe. Her four hundred dollars were gonewere gonewere gone. She wouldnever see them again. She could plainly see her husband spending her savings byhandfuls; squandering her beautiful gold pieces that she had been at such painsto polish with soap and ashes. The thought filled her with an unspeakableanguish. She would wake at night from a dream of McTeague revelling down hermoneyand ask of the darkness"How much did he spend to-day? How many ofthe gold pieces are left? Has he broken either of the two twenty-dollar piecesyet? What did he spend it for?"

The instant she was out of the hospital Trina had begun to save againbutnow it was with an eagerness that amounted at times to a veritable frenzy. Sheeven denied herself lights and fuel in order to put by a quarter or sogrudgingevery penny she was obliged to spend. She did her own washing and cooking.Finally she sold her wedding dressthat had hitherto lain in the bottom of hertrunk.

The day she moved from Zerkow's old houseshe came suddenly upon thedentist's concertina under a heap of old clothes in the closet. Within twentyminutes she had sold it to the dealer in second-hand furniturereturning to herroom with seven dollars in her pockethappy for the first time since McTeaguehad left her.

But for all that the match-box and the bag refused to fill up; after threeweeks of the most rigid economy they contained but eighteen dollars and somesmall change. What was that compared with four hundred? Trina told herself thatshe must have her money in hand. She longed to see again the heap of it upon herwork-tablewhere she could plunge her hands into ither face into itfeelingthe coolsmooth metal upon her cheeks. At such moments she would see in herimagination her wonderful five thousand dollars piled in columnsshining andgleaming somewhere at the bottom of Uncle Oelbermann's vault. She would look atthe paper that Uncle Oelbermann had given herand tell herself that itrepresented five thousand dollars. But in the end this ceased to satisfy hershe must have the money itself. She must have her four hundred dollars backagainthere in her trunkin her bag and her match-boxwhere she could touchit and see it whenever she desired.

At length she could stand it no longerand one day presented herself beforeUncle Oelbermann as he sat in his office in the wholesale toy storeand toldhim she wanted to have four hundred dollars of her money.

"But this is very irregularyou knowMrs. McTeague" said thegreat man. "Not business-like at all."

But his niece's misfortunes and the sight of her poor maimed hand appealed tohim. He opened his check-book. "You understandof course" he said"that this will reduce the amount of your interest by just so much."

"I knowI know. I've thought of that" said Trina.

"Four hundreddid you say?" remarked Uncle Oelbermanntaking thecap from his fountain pen.

"Yesfour hundred" exclaimed Trinaquicklyher eyes glistening.

Trina cashed the check and returned home with the money--all in twenty-dollarpieces as she had desired--in an ecstasy of delight. For half of that night shesat up playing with her moneycounting it and recounting itpolishing theduller pieces until they shone. Altogether there were twenty twenty-dollar goldpieces.

"Oh-hyou beauties!" murmured Trinarunning her palms over themfairly quivering with pleasure. "You beauties! IS there anything prettierthan a twenty-dollar gold piece? You deardear money! Ohdon't I LOVE you!Mineminemine--all of you mine."

She laid them out in a row on the ledge of the tableor arranged them inpatterns--trianglescirclesand squares-- or built them all up into a pyramidwhich she afterward overthrew for the sake of hearing the delicious clink of thepieces tumbling against each other. Then at last she put them away in the brassmatch-box and chamois bagdelighted beyond words that they were once more fulland heavy.

Thena few days afterthe thought of the money still remaining in UncleOelbermann's keeping returned to her. It was hersall hers--all that fourthousand six hundred. She could have as much of it or as little of it as shechose. She only had to ask. For a week Trina resistedknowing very well thattaking from her capital was proportionately reducing her monthly income. Then atlast she yielded.

"Just to make it an even five hundredanyhow" she told herself.That day she drew a hundred dollars morein twenty-dollar gold pieces asbefore. From that time Trina began to draw steadily upon her capitala littleat a time. It was a passion with hera maniaa veritable mental disease; atemptation such as drunkards only know.

It would come upon her all of a sudden. While she was about her workscrubbing the floor of some vacant house; or in her roomin the morningas shemade her coffee on the oil stoveor when she woke in the nighta brusqueaccess of cupidity would seize upon her. Her cheeks flushedher eyes glistenedher breath came short. At times she would leave her work just as it wasput onher old bonnet of black strawthrow her shawl about herand go straight toUncle Oelbermann's store and draw against her money. Now it would be a hundreddollarsnow sixty; now she would content herself with only twenty; and onceafter a fortnight's abstinenceshe permitted herself a positive debauch of fivehundred. Little by little she drew her capital from Uncle Oelbermannand littleby little her original interest of twenty-five dollars a month dwindled.

One day she presented herself again in the office of the whole-sale toystore.

"Will you let me have a check for two hundred dollarsUncleOelbermann?" she said.

The great man laid down his fountain pen and leaned back in his swivel chairwith great deliberation.

"I don't understandMrs. McTeague" he said. "Every week youcome here and draw out a little of your money. I've told you that it is not atall regular or business-like for me to let you have it this way. And more thanthisit's a great inconvenience to me to give you these checks at unstatedtimes. If you wish to draw out the whole amount let's have some understanding.Draw it in monthly installments ofsayfive hundred dollarsor else" headdedabruptly"draw it all at oncenowto-day. I would even prefer itthat way. Otherwise it's--it's annoying. Comeshall I draw you a check forthirty-seven hundredand have it over and done with?"

"Nono" cried Trinawith instinctive apprehensionrefusingshedid not know why. "NoI'll leave it with you. I won't draw out anymore."

She took her departurebut paused on the pavement outside the storeandstood for a moment lost in thoughther eyes beginning to glisten and her breathcoming short. Slowly she turned about and reentered the store; she came backinto the officeand stood trembling at the corner of Uncle Oelbermann's desk.He looked up sharply. Twice Trina tried to get her voiceand when it did cometo hershe could hardly recognize it. Between breaths she said:

"Yesall right--I'll--you can give me--will you give me a check forthirty-seven hundred? Give me ALL of my money."

A few hours later she entered her little room over the kindergartenboltedthe door with shaking fingersand emptied a heavy canvas sack upon the middleof her bed. Then she opened her trunkand taking thence the brass match-box andchamois-skin bag added their contents to the pile. Next she laid herself uponthe bed and gathered the gleaming heaps of gold pieces to her with both armsburying her face in them with long sighs of unspeakable delight.

It was a little past noonand the day was fine and warm. The leaves of thehuge cherry trees threw off a certain pungent aroma that entered through theopen windowtogether with long thin shafts of golden sunlight. Belowin thekindergartenthe children were singing gayly and marching to the jangling ofthe piano. Trina heard nothingsaw nothing. She lay on her bedher eyesclosedher face buried in a pile of gold that she encircled with both her arms.

Trina even told herself at last that she was happy once more. McTeague becamea memory--a memory that faded a little every day--dim and indistinct in thegolden splendor of five thousand dollars.

"And yet" Trina would say"I did love Macloved him dearlyonly a little while ago. Even when he hurt meit only made me love him more.How is it I've changed so sudden? How COULD I forget him so soon? It must bebecause he stole my money. That is it. I couldn't forgive anyone that--nonoteven my MOTHER. And I never-- never--will forgive him."

What had become of her husband Trina did not know. She never saw any of theold Polk Street people. There was no way she could have news of himeven if shehad cared to have it. She had her moneythat was the main thing. Her passionfor it excluded every other sentiment. There it was in the bottom of her trunkin the canvas sackthe chamois-skin bagand the little brass match-safe. Not aday passed that Trina did not have it out where she could see and touch it. Oneevening she had even spread all the gold pieces between the sheetsand had thengone to bedstripping herselfand had slept all night upon the moneytaking astrange and ecstatic pleasure in the touch of the smooth flat pieces the lengthof her entire body.

One nightsome three months after she had come to live at the kindergartenTrina was awakened by a sharp tap on the pane of the window. She sat up quicklyin bedher heart beating thicklyher eyes rolling wildly in the direction ofher trunk. The tap was repeated. Trina rose and went fearfully to the window.The little court below was bright with moonlightand standing just on the edgeof the shadow thrown by one of the cherry trees was McTeague. A bunch ofhalf-ripe cherries was in his hand. He was eating them and throwing the pits atthe window. As he caught sight of herhe made an eager sign for her to raisethe sash. Reluctant and wonderingTrina obeyedand the dentist came quicklyforward. He was wearing a pair of blue overalls; a navy- blue flannel shirtwithout a cravat; an old coatfadedrain-washedand ripped at the seams; andhis woollen cap.

"SayTrina" he exclaimedhis heavy bass voice pitched just abovea whisper"let me inwill youhuh? Saywill you? I'm regularlystarvingand I haven't slept in a Christian bed for two weeks."

At sight at him standing there in the moonlightTrina could only think ofhim as the man who had beaten and bitten herhad deserted her and stolen hermoneyhad made her suffer as she had never suffered before in all her life. Nowthat he had spent the money that he had stolen from herhe was whining to comeback--so that he might steal moreno doubt. Once in her room he could not helpbut smell out her five thousand dollars. Her indignation rose.

"No" she whispered back at him. "NoI will not let youin."

"But listen hereTrinaI tell you I am starvingregularly----"

"Hoh!" interrupted Trina scornfully. "A man can't starve withfour hundred dollarsI guess."

"Well--well--I--well--" faltered the dentist. "Never mind now.Give me something to eatan' let me in an' sleep. I've been sleeping in thePlaza for the last ten nightsand sayI--Damn itTrinaI ain't had anythingto eat since--"

"Where's the four hundred dollars you robbed me of when you desertedme?" returned Trinacoldly.

"WellI've spent it" growled the dentist. "But you CAN'T seeme starveTrinano matter what's happened. Give me a little moneythen."

"I'll see you starve before you get any more of MY money."

The dentist stepped back a pace and stared up at her wonder- stricken. Hisface was lean and pinched. Never had the jaw bone looked so enormousnor thesquare-cut head so huge. The moonlight made deep black shadows in the shrunkencheeks.

"Huh?" asked the dentistpuzzled. "What did you say?"

"I won't give you any money--never again--not a cent."

"But do you know that I'm hungry?"

"WellI've been hungry myself. BesidesI DON'T believe you."

"TrinaI ain't had a thing to eat since yesterday morning; that's God'struth. Even if I did get off with your moneyyou CAN'T see me starvecan you?You can't see me walk the streets all night because I ain't got a place tosleep. Will you let me in? Saywill you? Huh?"

"No."

"Wellwill you give me some money then--just a little? Give me adollar. Give me half a dol--Saygive me a DIMEan' I can get a cup ofcoffee."

"No."

The dentist paused and looked at her with curious intentnessbewilderednonplussed.

"Sayyou--you must be crazyTrina. I--I--wouldn't let a DOG gohungry."

"Not even if he'd bitten youperhaps."

The dentist stared again.

There was another pause. McTeague looked up at her in silencea mean andvicious twinkle coming into his small eyes. He uttered a low exclamationandthen checked himself.

"Welllook herefor the last time. I'm starving. I've got nowhere tosleep. Will you give me some moneyor something to eat? Will you let mein?"

"No--no--no."

Trina could fancy she almost saw the brassy glint in her husband's eyes. Heraised one enormous lean fist. Then he growled:

"If I had hold of you for a minuteby GodI'd make you dance. An' Iwill yetI will yet. Don't you be afraid of that."

He turned aboutthe moonlight showing like a layer of snow upon his massiveshoulders. Trina watched him as he passed under the shadow of the cherry treesand crossed the little court. She heard his great feet grinding on the boardflooring. He disappeared.

Miser though she wasTrina was only humanand the echo of the dentist'sheavy feet had not died away before she began to he sorry for what she had done.She stood by the open window in her nightgownher finger upon her lips.

"He did looked pinched" she said half aloud. "Maybe he WAShungry. I ought to have given him something. I wish I hadI WISH I had.Oh" she criedsuddenlywith a frightened gesture of both hands"what have I come to be that I would see Mac--my husband--that I would seehim starve rather than give him money? Nono. It's too dreadful. I WILL givehim some. I'll send it to him to-morrow. Where?--wellhe'll come back."She leaned from the window and called as loudly as she dared"MacohMac." There was no answer.

When McTeague had told Trina he had been without food for nearly two days hewas speaking the truth. The week before he had spent the last of the fourhundred dollars in the bar of a sailor's lodging-house near the water frontandsince that time had lived a veritable hand-to-mouth existence.

He had spent her money here and there about the city in royal fashionabsolutely reckless of the morrowfeasting and drinking for the most part withcompanions he picked up heaven knows whereacquaintances of twenty-four hourswhose names he forgot in two days. Then suddenly he found himself at the end ofhis money. He no longer had any friends. Hunger rode him and rowelled him. Hewas no longer well fedcomfortable. There was no longer a warm place for him tosleep. He went back to Polk Street in the eveningwalking on the dark side ofthe streetlurking in the shadowsashamed to have any of his old-time friendssee him. He entered Zerkow's old house and knocked at the door of the room Trinaand he had occupied. It was empty.

Next day he went to Uncle Oelbermann's store and asked news of Trina. Trinahad not told Uncle Oelbermann of McTeague's brutalitiesgiving him otherreasons to explain the loss of her fingers; neither had she told him of herhusband's robbery. So when the dentist had asked where Trina could be foundUncle Oelbermannbelieving that McTeague was seeking a reconciliationhad toldhim without hesitationandhe added:

"She was in here only yesterday and drew out the balance of her money.She's been drawing against her money for the last month or so. She's got it allnowI guess."

"Ahshe's got it all."

The dentist went away from his bootless visit to his wife shaking with ragehating her with all the strength of a crude and primitive nature. He clenchedhis fists till his knuckles whitenedhis teeth ground furiously upon oneanother.

"Ahif I had hold of you onceI'd make you dance. She had fivethousand dollars in that roomwhile I stood therenot twenty feet awayandtold her I was starvingand she wouldn't give me a dime to get a cup of coffeewith; not a dime to get a cup of coffee. Ohif I once get my hands onyou!" His wrath strangled him. He clutched at the darkness in front of himhis breath fairly whistling between his teeth.

That night he walked the streets until the morningwondering what now he wasto do to fight the wolf away. The morning of the next day towards ten o'clock hewas on Kearney Streetstill walkingstill tramping the streetssince therewas nothing else for him to do. By and by he paused on a corner near a musicstorefinding a momentary amusement in watching two or three men loading apiano upon a dray. Already half its weight was supported by the dray'sbackboard. One of the mena big mulattoalmost hidden under the mass ofglistening rosewoodwas guiding its coursewhile the other two heaved andtugged in the rear. Something in the street frightened the horses and they shiedabruptly. The end of the piano was twitched sharply from the backboard. Therewas a crythe mulatto staggered and fell with the falling pianoand its weightdropped squarely upon his thighwhich broke with a resounding crack.

An hour later McTeague had found his job. The music store engaged him ashandler at six dollars a week. McTeague's enormous strengthuseless all hislifestood him in good stead at last.

He slept in a tiny back room opening from the storeroom of the music store.He was in some sense a watchman as well as handlerand went the rounds of thestore twice every night. His room was a box of a place that reeked with odors ofstale tobacco smoke. The former occupant had papered the walls with newspapersand had pasted up figures cut out from the posters of some Kiralfy balletverygaudy. By the one windowchittering all day in its little gilt prisonhung thecanary birda tiny atom of life that McTeague still clung to with a strangeobstinacy.

McTeague drank a good deal of whiskey in these daysbut the only effect ithad upon him was to increase the viciousness and bad temper that had developedin him since the beginning of his misfortunes. He terrorized hisfellow-handlerspowerful men though they were. For a gruff wordfor an awkwardmovement in lading the pianosfor a surly look or a muttered oaththedentist's elbow would crook and his hand contract to a mallet-like fist. Asoften as not the blow followedcolossal in its forceswift as the leap of thepiston from its cylinder.

His hatred of Trina increased from day to day. He'd make her dance yet. Waitonly till he got his hands upon her. She'd let him starvewould she? She'd turnhim out of doors while she hid her five thousand dollars in the bottom of hertrunk. Ahahe would see about that some day. She couldn't make small of him.Ahno. She'd dance all right--all right. McTeague was not an imaginative man bynaturebut he would lie awake nightshis clumsy wits galloping and friskingunder the lash of the alcoholand fancy himself thrashing his wifetill asudden frenzy of rage would overcome himand he would shake all overrollingupon the bed and biting the mattress.

On a certain dayabout a week after Christmas of that yearMcTeague was onone of the top floors of the music storewhere the second-hand instruments werekepthelping to move about and rearrange some old pianos. As he passed by oneof the counters he paused abruptlyhis eye caught by an object that wasstrangely familiar.

"Say" he inquiredaddressing the clerk in charge"saywhere'd this come from?"

"Whylet's see. We got that from a second-hand store up on Polk StreetI guess. It's a fairly good machine; a little tinkering with the stops and a bitof shellacand we'll make it about's good as new. Good tone. See." And theclerk drew a longsonorous wail from the depths of McTeague's old concertina.

"Wellit's mine" growled the dentist.

The other laughed. "It's yours for eleven dollars."

"It's mine" persisted McTeague. "I want it."

"Go 'long with youMac. What do you mean?"

"I mean that it's minethat's what I mean. You got no right to it. Itwas STOLEN from methat's what I mean" he addeda sullen anger flamingup in his little eyes.

The clerk raised a shoulder and put the concertina on an upper shelf.

"You talk to the boss about that; t'ain't none of my affair. If you wantto buy itit's eleven dollars."

The dentist had been paid off the day before and had four dollars in hiswallet at the moment. He gave the money to the clerk.

"Herethere's part of the money. You--you put that concertina aside formean' I'll give you the rest in a week or so--I'll give it to youtomorrow" he exclaimedstruck with a sudden idea.

McTeague had sadly missed his concertina. Sunday afternoons when there was nowork to be donehe was accustomed to lie flat on his back on his springless bedin the little room in the rear of the music storehis coat and shoes offreading the paperdrinking steam beer from a pitcherand smoking his pipe. Buthe could no longer play his six lugubrious airs upon his concertinaand it wasa deprivation. He often wondered where it was gone. It had been lostno doubtin the general wreck of his fortunes. Onceeventhe dentist had taken aconcertina from the lot kept by the music store. It was a Sunday and no one wasabout. But he found he could not play upon it. The stops were arranged upon asystem he did not understand.

Now his own concertina was come back to him. He would buy it back. He hadgiven the clerk four dollars. He knew where he would get the remaining seven.

The clerk had told him the concertina had been sold on Polk Street to thesecond-hand store there. Trina had sold it. McTeague knew it. Trina had sold hisconcertina--had stolen it and sold it--his concertinahis beloved concertinathat he had had all his life. Whybarring the canarythere was not one of allhis belongings that McTeague had cherished more dearly. His steel engraving of"Lorenzo de' Medici and his Court" might be losthis stone pug dogmight gobut his concertina!

"And she sold it--stole it from me and sold it. Just because I happenedto forget to take it along with me. Wellwe'll just see about that. You'll giveme the money to buy it backor----"

His rage loomed big within him. His hatred of Trina came back upon him like areturning surge. He saw her smallprim mouthher narrow blue eyesher blackmane of hairand up-tilted chinand hated her the more because of them. Ahahe'd show her; he'd make her dance. He'd get that seven dollars from herorhe'd know the reason why. He went through his work that dayheaving and haulingat the ponderous pianoshandling them with the ease of a lifting craneimpatient for the coming of eveningwhen he could be left to his own devices.As often as he had a moment to spare he went down the street to the nearestsaloon and drank a pony of whiskey. Now and then as he fought and struggled withthe vast masses of ebonyrosewoodand mahogany on the upper floor of the musicstoreraging and chafing at their inertness and unwillingnesswhile thewhiskey pirouetted in his brainhe would mutter to himself:

"An' I got to do this. I got to work like a dray horse while she sits athome by her stove and counts her money-- and sells my concertina."

Six o'clock came. Instead of supperMcTeague drank some more whiskeyfiveponies in rapid succession. After supper he was obliged to go out with the drayto deliver a concert grand at the Odd Fellows' Hallwhere a piano"recital" was to take place.

"Ain't you coming back with us?" asked one of the handlers as heclimbed upon the driver's seat after the piano had been put in place.

"Nono" returned the dentist; "I got something else todo." The brilliant lights of a saloon near the City Hall caught his eye. Hedecided he would have another drink of whiskey. It was about eight o'clock.

The following day was to be a fete day at the kindergartenthe Christmas andNew Year festivals combined. All that afternoon the little two-story building onPacific Street had been filled with a number of grand ladies of the KindergartenBoardwho were hanging up ropes of evergreen and sprays of hollyand arranginga great Christmas tree that stood in the centre of the ring in the schoolroom.The whole place was pervaded with a pungentpiney odor. Trina had been verybusy since the early morningcoming and going at everybody's callnow runningdown the street after another tack-hammer or a fresh supply of cranberriesnowtying together the ropes of evergreen and passing them up to one of the grandladies as she carefully balanced herself on a step-ladder. By evening everythingwas in place. As the last grand lady left the schoolshe gave Trina an extradollar for her workand said:

"Nowif you'll just tidy up hereMrs. McTeagueI think that will beall. Sweep up the pine needles here--you see they are all over the floor--andlook through all the roomsand tidy up generally. Good night--and a Happy NewYear" she cried pleasantly as she went out.

Trina put the dollar away in her trunk before she did anything else andcooked herself a bit of supper. Then she came downstairs again.

The kindergarten was not large. On the lower floor were but two roomsthemain schoolroom and another rooma cloakroomvery smallwhere the childrenhung their hats and coats. This cloakroom opened off the back of the mainschoolroom. Trina cast a critical glance into both of these rooms. There hadbeen a great deal of going and coming in them during the dayand she decidedthat the first thing to do would be to scrub the floors. She went up again toher room overhead and heated some water over her oil stove; thenre-descendingset to work vigorously.

By nine o'clock she had almost finished with the schoolroom. She was down onher hands and knees in the midst of a steaming muck of soapy water. On her feetwere a pair of man's shoes fastened with buckles; a dirty cotton gowndamp withthe waterclung about her shapelessstunted figure. From time to time she satback on her heels to ease the strain of her positionand with one smoking handwhite and parboiled with the hot waterbrushed her hairalready streaked withgrayout of her weazenedpale face and the corners of her mouth.

It was very quiet. A gas-jet without a globe lit up the place with a cruderaw light. The cat who lived on the premisespreferring to be dirty rather thanto be wethad got into the coal scuttleand over its rim watched her sleepilywith a longcomplacent purr.

All at once he stopped purringleaving an abrupt silence in the air like thesudden shutting off of a stream of waterwhile his eyes grew widetwo lambentdisks of yellow in the heap of black fur.

"Who is there?" cried Trinasitting back on her heels. In thestillness that succeededthe water dripped from her hands with the steady tickof a clock. Then a brutal fist swung open the street door of the schoolroom andMcTeague came in. He was drunk; not with that drunkenness which is stupidmaudlinwavering on its feetbut with that which is alertunnaturallyintelligentviciousperfectly steadydeadly wicked. Trina only had to lookonce at himand in an instantwith some strange sixth senseborn of theoccasionknew what she had to expect.

She jumped up and ran from him into the little cloakroom. She locked andbolted the door after herand leaned her weight against itpanting andtremblingevery nerve shrinking and quivering with the fear of him.

McTeague put his hand on the knob of the door outside and opened ittearingoff the lock and bolt guardand sending her staggering across the room.

"Mac" she cried to himas he came inspeaking with horridrapiditycringing and holding out her hands"Maclisten. Wait aminute--look here--listen here. It wasn't my fault. I'll give you some money.You can come back. I'll do ANYTHING you want. Won't you just LISTEN to me? Ohdon't! I'll scream. I can't help ityou know. The people will hear."

McTeague came towards her slowlyhis immense feet dragging and grinding onthe floor; his enormous fistshard as wooden malletsswinging at his sides.Trina backed from him to the corner of the roomcowering before himholdingher elbow crooked in front of her facewatching him with fearful intentnessready to dodge.

"I want that money" he saidpausing in front of her.

"What money?" cried Trina.

"I want that money. You got it--that five thousand dollars. I want everynickel of it! You understand?"

"I haven't it. It isn't here. Uncle Oelbermann's got it."

"That's a lie. He told me that you came and got it. You've had it longenough; now I want it. Do you hear?"

"MacI can't give you that money. I--I WON'T give it to you"Trina criedwith sudden resolution.

"Yesyou will. You'll give me every nickel of it."

"NoNO."

"You ain't going to make small of me this time. Give me thatmoney."

"NO."

"For the last timewill you give me that money?"

"No."

"You won'thuh? You won't give me it? For the last time."

"NoNO."

Usually the dentist was slow in his movementsbut now the alcohol hadawakened in him an ape-like agility. He kept his small eyes upon herand all atonce sent his fist into the middle of her face with the suddenness of a relaxedspring.

Beside herself with terrorTrina turned and fought him back; fought for hermiserable life with the exasperation and strength of a harassed cat; and withsuch energy and such wildunnatural forcethat even McTeague for the momentdrew back from her. But her resistance was the one thing to drive him to the topof his fury. He came back at her againhis eyes drawn to two fine twinklingpointsand his enormous fistsclenched till the knuckles whitenedraised inthe air.

Then it became abominable.

In the schoolroom outsidebehind the coal scuttlethe cat listened to thesounds of stamping and struggling and the muffled noise of blowswildlyterrifiedhis eyes bulging like brass knobs. At last the sounds stopped on asudden; he heard nothing more. Then McTeague came outclosing the door. The catfollowed him with distended eyes as he crossed the room and disappeared throughthe street door.

The dentist paused for a moment on the sidewalklooking carefully up anddown the street. It was deserted and quiet. He turned sharply to the right andwent down a narrow passage that led into the little court yard behind theschool. A candle was burning in Trina's room. He went up by the outside stairwayand entered.

The trunk stood locked in one corner of the room. The dentist took thelid-lifter from the little oil stoveput it underneath the lock-clasp andwrenched it open. Groping beneath a pile of dresses he found the chamois-skinbagthe little brass match-boxandat the very bottomcarefully thrust intoone cornerthe canvas sack crammed to the mouth with twenty-dollar gold pieces.He emptied the chamois-skin bag and the matchbox into the pockets of histrousers. But the canvas sack was too bulky to hide about his clothes. "Iguess I'll just naturally have to carry YOU" he muttered. He blew out thecandleclosed the doorand gained the street again.

The dentist crossed the citygoing back to the music store. It was a littleafter eleven o'clock. The night was moonlessfilled with a gray blur of faintlight that seemed to come from all quarters of the horizon at once. From time totime there were sudden explosions of a southeast wind at the street corners.McTeague went onslanting his head against the guststo keep his cap fromblowing offcarrying the sack close to his side. Once he looked critically atthe sky.

"I bet it'll rain to-morrow" he muttered"if this wind worksround to the south."

Once in his little den behind the music storehe washed his hands andforearmsand put on his working clothesblue overalls and a jumperover cheaptrousers and vest. Then he got together his small belongings--an old campaignhata pair of bootsa tin of tobaccoand a pinchbeck bracelet which he hadfound one Sunday in the Parkand which he believed to be valuable. He strippedhis blanket from his bed and rolled up in it all these objectstogether withthe canvas sackfastening the roll with a half hitch such as miners usetheinstincts of the old-time car-boy coming back to him in his present confusion ofmind. He changed his pipe and his knife--a huge jackknife with a yellowed bonehandle--to the pockets of his overalls.

Then at last he stood with his hand on the doorholding up the lamp beforeblowing it outlooking about to make sure he was ready to go. The waveringlight woke his canary. It stirred and began to chitter feeblyvery sleepy andcross at being awakened. McTeague startedstaring at itand reflecting. Hebelieved that it would be a long time before anyone came into that room again.The canary would be days without food; it was likely it would starvewould dietherehour by hourin its little gilt prison. McTeague resolved to take itwith him. He took down the cagetouching it gently with his enormous handsandtied a couple of sacks about it to shelter the little bird from the sharp nightwind.

Then he went outlocking all the doors behind himand turned toward theferry slips. The boats had ceased running hours agobut he told himself that bywaiting till four o'clock he could get across the bay on the tug that took overthe morning papers.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Trina lay unconsciousjust as she had fallen under the last of McTeague'sblowsher body twitching with an occasional hiccough that stirred the pool ofblood in which she lay face downward. Towards morning she died with a rapidseries of hiccoughs that sounded like a piece of clockwork running down.

The thing had been done in the cloakroom where the kindergarten children hungtheir hats and coats. There was no other entrance except by going through themain schoolroom. McTeague going out had shut the door of the cloakroombut hadleft the street door open; so when the children arrived in the morningtheyentered as usual.

About half-past eighttwo or three five-year-oldsone a little coloredgirlcame into the schoolroom of the kindergarten with a great chatter ofvoicesgoing across to the cloakroom to hang up their hats and coats as theyhad been taught.

Half way across the room one of them stopped and put her small nose in theaircrying"Um-o-owhat a funnee smell!" The others began to sniffthe air as welland onethe daughter of a butcherexclaimed"'Tsmellslike my pa's shop" adding in the next breath"Lookwhat's thematter with the kittee?"

In factthe cat was acting strangely. He lay quite flat on the floorhisnose pressed close to the crevice under the door of the little cloakroomwinding his tail slowly back and forthexcitedvery eager. At times he woulddraw back and make a strange little clacking noise down in his throat.

"Ain't he funnee?" said the little girl again. The cat slunkswiftly away as the children came up. Then the tallest of the little girls swungthe door of the little cloakroom wide open and they all ran in.

CHAPTER 20

The day was very hotand the silence of high noon lay close and thickbetween the steep slopes of the canyons like an invisiblemuffling fluid. Atintervals the drone of an insect bored the air and trailed slowly to silenceagain. Everywhere were pungentaromatic smells. The vastmoveless heat seemedto distil countless odors from the brush--odors of warm sapof pine needlesand of tar-weedand above all the medicinal odor of witch hazel. As far as onecould lookuncounted multitudes of trees and manzanita bushes were quietly andmotionlessly growinggrowinggrowing. A tremendousimmeasurable Life pushedsteadily heavenward without a soundwithout a motion. At turns of the roadonthe higher pointscanyons disclosed themselves far awaygigantic grooves inthe landscapedeep blue in the distanceopening one into anotherocean-deepsilenthugeand suggestive of colossal primeval forces held in reserve. Attheir bottoms they were solidmassive; on their crests they broke delicatelyinto fine serrated edges where the pines and redwoods outlined their million oftops against the high white horizon. Here and there the mountains liftedthemselves out of the narrow river beds in groups like giant lions rearing theirheads after drinking. The entire region was untamed. In some places east of theMississippi nature is coseyintimatesmalland homelikelike a good-naturedhousewife. In Placer CountyCaliforniashe is a vastunconquered brute of thePliocene epochsavagesullenand magnificently indifferent to man.

But there were men in these mountainslike lice on mammoths' hidesfightingthem stubbornlynow with hydraulic "monitors" now with drill anddynamiteboring into the vitals of themor tearing away great yellow gravellyscars in the flanks of themsucking their bloodextracting gold.

Here and there at long distances upon the canyon sides rose the headgear of aminesurrounded with its few unpainted housesand topped by its never-failingfeather of black smoke. On near approach one heard the prolonged thunder of thestamp-millthe crusherthe insatiable monstergnashing the rocks to powderwith its long iron teethvomiting them out again in a thin stream of wet graymud. Its enormous mawfed night and day with the car-boys' loadsgorged itselfwith graveland spat out the goldgrinding the rocks between its jawsgluttedas it werewith the very entrails of the earthand growling over itsendless meallike some savage animalsome legendary dragonsome fabulousbeastsymbol of inordinate and monstrous gluttony.

McTeague had left the Overland train at Colfaxand the same afternoon hadridden some eight miles across the mountains in the stage that connects Colfaxwith Iowa Hill. Iowa Hill was a small one-street townthe headquarters of themines of the district. Originally it had been built upon the summit of amountainbut the sides of this mountain have long since been"hydrau-licked" awayso that the town now clings to a mere back boneand the rear windows of the houses on both sides of the street look down oversheer precipicesinto vast pits hundreds of feet deep.

The dentist stayed over night at the Hilland the next morning started offon foot farther into the mountains. He still wore his blue overalls and jumper;his woollen cap was pulled down over his eye; on his feet were hob- nailed bootshe had bought at the store in Colfax; his blanket roll was over his back; in hisleft hand swung the bird cage wrapped in sacks.

Just outside the town he pausedas if suddenly remembering something.

"There ought to be a trail just off the road here" he muttered."There used to be a trail--a short cut."

The next instantwithout moving from his positionhe saw where it openedjust before him. His instinct had halted him at the exact spot. The trailzigzagged down the abrupt descent of the canyondebouching into a gravellyriver bed.

"Indian River" muttered the dentist. "I remember--I remember.I ought to hear the Morning Star's stamps from here." He cocked his head. Alowsustained roarlike a distant cataractcame to his ears from across theriver. "That's right" he saidcontentedly. He crossed the river andregained the road beyond. The slope rose under his feet; a little farther on hepassed the Morning Star minesmoking and thundering. McTeague pushed steadilyon. The road rose with the rise of the mountainturned at a sharp angle where agreat live-oak grewand held level for nearly a quarter of a mile. Twice againthe dentist left the road and took to the trail that cut through desertedhydraulic pits. He knew exactly where to look for these trails; not once did hisinstinct deceive him. He recognized familiar points at once. Here was ColdCanyonwhere invariablywinter and summera chilly wind was blowing; here waswhere the road to Spencer's branched off; here was Bussy's old placewhere atone time there were so many dogs; here was Delmue's cabinwhere unlicensedwhiskey used to be sold; here was the plank bridge with its one rotten board;and here the flat overgrown with manzanitawhere he once had shot three quail.

At noonafter he had been tramping for some two hourshe halted at a pointwhere the road dipped suddenly. A little to the right of himand flanking theroadan enormous yellow gravel-pit like an emptied lake gaped to heaven.Farther onin the distancea canyon zigzagged toward the horizonrugged withpine-clad mountain crests. Nearer at handand directly in the line of the roadwas an irregular cluster of unpainted cabins. A dullprolonged roar vibrated inthe air. McTeague nodded his head as if satisfied.

"That's the place" he muttered.

He reshouldered his blanket roll and descended the road. At last he haltedagain. He stood before a low one-story buildingdiffering from the others inthat it was painted. A verandahshut in with mosquito nettingsurrounded it.McTeague dropped his blanket roll on a lumber pile outsideand came up andknocked at the open door. Some one called to him to come in.

McTeague enteredrolling his eyes about himnoting the changes that hadbeen made since he had last seen this place. A partition had been knocked downmaking one big room out of the two former small ones. A counter and railingstood inside the door. There was a telephone on the wall. In one corner he alsoobserved a stack of surveyor's instruments; a big drawing-board straddled onspindle legs across one end of the rooma mechanical drawing of some kindnodoubt the plan of the mineunrolled upon it; a chromo representing a couple ofpeasants in a ploughed field (Millet's "Angelus") was nailed unframedupon the walland hanging from the same wire nail that secured one of itscorners in place was a bullion bag and a cartridge belt with a loaded revolverin the pouch.

The dentist approached the counter and leaned his elbows upon it. Three menwere in the room--a talllean young manwith a thick head of hair surprisinglygraywho was playing with a half-grown great Dane puppy; another fellow aboutas youngbut with a jaw almost as salient as McTeague'sstood at theletter-press taking a copy of a letter; a third mana little older than theother twowas pottering over a transit. This latter was massively builtandwore overalls and low boots streaked and stained and spotted in every directionwith gray mud. The dentist looked slowly from one to the other; then at length"Is the foreman about?" he asked.

The man in the muddy overalls came forward.

"What you want?"

He spoke with a strong German accent.

The old invariable formula came back to McTeague on the instant.

"What's the show for a job?"

At once the German foreman became preoccupiedlooking aimlessly out of thewindow. There was a silence.

"You hev been miner alretty?"

"Yesyes."

"Know how to hendle pick'n shov'le?"

"YesI know."

The other seemed unsatisfied. "Are you a 'cousin Jack'?"

The dentist grinned. This prejudice against Cornishmen he remembered too.

"No. American."

"How long sence you mine?"

"Ohyear or two."

"Show your hends." McTeague exhibited his hardcallused palms.

"When ken you go to work? I want a chuck-tender on dernight-shift."

"I can tend a chuck. I'll go on to-night."

"What's your name?"

The dentist started. He had forgotten to be prepared for this.

"Huh? What?"

"What's the name?"

McTeague's eye was caught by a railroad calendar hanging over the desk. Therewas no time to think.

"Burlington" he saidloudly.

The German took a card from a file and wrote it down.

"Give dis card to der boarding-bossdown at der boarding- hausdengome find me bei der mill at sex o'clockund I set you to work."

Straight as a homing pigeonand following a blind and unreasoned instinctMcTeague had returned to the Big Dipper mine. Within a week's time it seemed tohim as though he had never been away. He picked up his life again exactly wherehe had left it the day when his mother had sent him away with the travellingdentistthe charlatan who had set up his tent by the bunk house. The houseMcTeague had once lived in was still thereoccupied by one of the shift bossesand his family. The dentist passed it on his way to and from the mine.

He himself slept in the bunk house with some thirty others of his shift. Athalf-past five in the evening the cook at the boarding-house sounded a prolongedalarm upon a crowbar bent in the form of a trianglethat hung upon the porch ofthe boarding-house. McTeague rose and dressedand with his shift had supper.Their lunch-pails were distributed to them. Then he made his way to the tunnelmouthclimbed into a car in the waiting ore trainand was hauled into themine.

Once insidethe hot evening air turned to a cool dampnessand the forestodors gave place to the smell of stale dynamite smokesuggestive of burningrubber. A cloud of steam came from McTeague's mouth; underneaththe waterswashed and rippled around the car-wheelswhile the light from the miner'scandlesticks threw wavering blurs of pale yellow over the gray rotting quartz ofthe roof and walls. Occasionally McTeague bent down his head to avoid thelagging of the roof or the projections of an overhanging shute. From car to carall along the line the miners called to one another as the train trundled alongjoshing and laughing.

A mile from the entrance the train reached the breast where McTeague's gangworked. The men clambered from the cars and took up the labor where the dayshift had left itburrowing their way steadily through a primeval river bed.

The candlesticks thrust into the crevices of the gravel strata lit up faintlythe half dozen moving figures befouled with sweat and with wet gray mould. Thepicks struck into the loose gravel with a yielding shock. The long-handledshovels clinked amidst the piles of bowlders and scraped dully in the heaps ofrotten quartz. The Burly drill boring for blasts broke out from time to time inan irregular chug-chugchug-chugwhile the engine that pumped the water fromthe mine coughed and strangled at short intervals.

McTeague tended the chuck. In a way he was the assistant of the man whoworked the Burly. It was his duty to replace the drills in the Burlyputting inlonger ones as the hole got deeper and deeper. From time to time he rapped thedrill with a pole-pick when it stuck fast or fitchered.

Once it even occurred to him that there was a resemblance between his presentwork and the profession he had been forced to abandon. In the Burly drill he sawa queer counterpart of his old-time dental engine; and what were the drills andchucks but enormous hoe excavatorshard bitsand burrs? It was the same workhe had so often performed in his "Parlors" only magnifiedmademonstrousdistortedand grotesquedthe caricature of dentistry.

He passed his nights thus in the midst of the play of crude and simpleforces--the powerful attacks of the Burly drills; the great exertions of baredbent backs overlaid with muscle; the brusqueresistless expansion of dynamite;and the silentvastTitanic forcemysterious and slowthat cracked thetimbers supporting the roof of the tunneland that gradually flattened thelagging till it was thin as paper.

The life pleased the dentist beyond words. The stillcolossal mountains tookhim back again like a returning prodigaland vaguelywithout knowing whyheyielded to their influence--their immensitytheir enormous powercrude andblindreflecting themselves in his own naturehugestrongbrutal in itssimplicity. And thisthough he only saw the mountains at night. They appearedfar different then than in the daytime. At twelve o'clock he came out of themine and lunched on the contents of his dinner-pailsitting upon the embankmentof the trackeating with both handsand looking around him with a steadyox-like gaze. The mountains rose sheer from every sideheaving their giganticcrests far up into the nightthe black peaks crowding togetherand looking nowless like beasts than like a company of cowled giants. In the daytime they weresilent; but at night they seemed to stir and rouse themselves. Occasionally thestamp-mill stoppedits thunder ceasing abruptly. Then one could hear the noisesthat the mountains made in their living. From the canyonfrom the crowdingcrestsfrom the whole immense landscapethere rose a steady and prolongedsoundcoming from all sides at once. It was that incessant and muffled roarwhich disengages itself from all vast bodiesfrom oceansfrom citiesfromforestsfrom sleeping armiesand which is like the breathing of an infinitelygreat monsteralivepalpitating.

McTeague returned to his work. At six in the morning his shift was taken offand he went out of the mine and back to the bunk house. All day long he sleptflung at length upon the strong-smelling blankets--slept the dreamless sleep ofexhaustioncrushed and overpowered with the workflat and prone upon hisbellytill again in the evening the cook sounded the alarm upon the crowbarbent into a triangle.

Every alternate week the shifts were changed. The second week McTeague'sshift worked in the daytime and slept at night. Wednesday night of this secondweek the dentist woke suddenly. He sat up in his bed in the bunk houselookingabout him from side to side; an alarm clock hanging on the wallover a lanternmarked half-past three.

"What was it?" muttered the dentist. "I wonder what itwas." The rest of the shift were sleeping soundlyfilling the room withthe rasping sound of snoring. Everything was in its accustomed place; nothingstirred. But for all that McTeague got up and lit his miner's candlestick andwent carefully about the roomthrowing the light into the dark cornerspeeringunder all the bedsincluding his own. Then he went to the door and steppedoutside. The night was warm and still; the moonvery lowand canted on herside like a galleon foundering. The camp was very quiet; nobody was in sight."I wonder what it was" muttered the dentist. "There wassomething--why did I wake up? Huh?" He made a circuit about the bunk houseunusually alerthis small eyes twinkling rapidlyseeing everything. All wasquiet. An old dog who invariably slept on the steps of the bunk house had noteven wakened. McTeague went back to bedbut did not sleep.

"There was SOMETHING" he mutteredlooking in a puzzled way at hiscanary in the cage that hung from the wall at his bedside; "something. Whatwas it? There is something NOW. There it is again--the same thing." He satup in bed with eyes and ears strained. "What is it? I don' know what it is.I don' hear anythingan' I don' see anything. I feel something--right now; feelit now. I wonder--I don' know--I don' know."

Once more he got upand this time dressed himself. He made a complete tourof the camplooking and listeningfor what he did not know. He even went tothe outskirts of the camp and for nearly half an hour watched the road that ledinto the camp from the direction of Iowa Hill. He saw nothing; not even a rabbitstirred. He went to bed.

But from this time on there was a change. The dentist grew restlessuneasy.Suspicion of somethinghe could not say whatannoyed him incessantly. He wentwide around sharp corners. At every moment he looked sharply over his shoulder.He even went to bed with his clothes and cap onand at every hour during thenight would get up and prowl about the bunk houseone ear turned down the windhis eyes gimleting the darkness. From time to time he would murmur:

"There's something. What is it? I wonder what it is."

What strange sixth sense stirred in McTeague at this time? What animalcunningwhat brute instinct clamored for recognition and obedience? What lowerfaculty was it that roused his suspicionthat drove him out into the night ascore of times between dark and dawnhis head in the airhis eyes and earskeenly alert?

One night as he stood on the steps of the bunk housepeering into theshadows of the camphe uttered an exclamation as of a man suddenly enlightened.He turned back into the housedrew from under his bed the blanket roll in whichhe kept his money hidand took the canary down from the wall. He strode to thedoor and disappeared into the night. When the sheriff of Placer County and thetwo deputies from San Francisco reached the Big Dipper mineMcTeague had beengone two days.

CHAPTER 21

"Well" said one of the deputiesas he backed the horse into theshafts of the buggy in which the pursuers had driven over from the Hill"we've about as good as got him. It isn't hard to follow a man who carriesa bird cage with him wherever he goes."

McTeague crossed the mountains on foot the Friday and Saturday of that weekgoing over through Emigrant Gapfollowing the line of the Overland railroad. Hereached Reno Monday night. By degrees a vague plan of action outlined itself inthe dentist's mind.

"Mexico" he muttered to himself. "Mexicothat's the place.They'll watch the coast and they'll watch the Eastern trainsbut they won'tthink of Mexico."

The sense of pursuit which had harassed him during the last week of his stayat the Big Dipper mine had worn offand he believed himself to be very cunning.

"I'm pretty far ahead nowI guess" he said. At Reno he boarded asouth-bound freight on the line of the Carson and Colorado railroadpaying fora passage in the caboose. "Freights don' run on schedule time" hemuttered"and a conductor on a passenger train makes it his business tostudy faces. I'll stay with this train as far as it goes."

The freight worked slowly southwardthrough western Nevadathe countrybecoming hourly more and more desolate and abandoned. After leaving Walker Lakethe sage-brush country beganand the freight rolled heavily over tracks thatthrew off visible layers of heat. At times it stopped whole half days on sidingsor by water tanksand the engineer and fireman came back to the caboose andplayed poker with the conductor and train crew. The dentist sat apartbehindthe stovesmoking pipe after pipe of cheap tobacco. Sometimes he joined in thepoker games. He had learned poker when a boy at the mineand after a few dealshis knowledge returned to him; but for the most part he was taciturn andunsociableand rarely spoke to the others unless spoken to first. The crewrecognized the typeand the impression gained ground among them that he had"done for" a livery-stable keeper at Truckee and was trying to getdown into Arizona.

McTeague heard two brakemen discussing him one night as they stood outside bythe halted train. "The livery-stable keeper called him a bastard; that'swhat Picachos told me" one of them remarked"and started to draw hisgun; an' this fellar did for him with a hayfork. He's a horse doctorthis chapisand the livery-stable keeper had got the law on him so's he couldn'tpractise any morean' he was sore about it."

Near a place called Queen's the train reentered Californiaand McTeagueobserved with relief that the line of track which had hitherto held westwardcurved sharply to the south again. The train was unmolested; occasionally thecrew fought with a gang of tramps who attempted to ride the brake beamsandonce in the northern part of Inyo Countywhile they were halted at a watertankan immense Indian buckblanketed to the groundapproached McTeague as hestood on the roadbed stretching his legsand without a word presented to him afilthycrumpled letter. The letter was to the effect that the buck Big Jim wasa good Indian and deserving of charity; the signature was illegible. The dentiststared at the letterreturned it to the buckand regained the train just as itstarted. Neither had spoken; the buck did not move from his positionand fullyfive minutes afterwardwhen the slow-moving freight was miles awaythe dentistlooked back and saw him still standing motionless between the railsa forlornand solitary point of redlost in the immensity of the surrounding white blurof the desert.

At length the mountains began againrising up on either side of the track;vastnaked hills of white sand and red rockspotted with blue shadows. Hereand there a patch of green was spread like a gay table-cloth over the sand. Allat once Mount Whitney leaped over the horizon. Independence was reached andpassed; the freightnearly emptied by nowand much shortenedrolled along theshores of Owen Lake. At a place called Keeler it stopped definitely. It was theterminus of the road.

The town of Keeler was a one-street townnot unlike Iowa Hill--thepost-officethe bar and hotelthe Odd Fellows' Halland the livery stablebeing the principal buildings.

"Where to now?" muttered McTeague to himself as he sat on the edgeof the bed in his room in the hotel. He hung the canary in the windowfilledits little bathtuband watched it take its bath with enormous satisfaction."Where to now?" he muttered again. "This is as far as therailroad goesan' it won' do for me to stay in a town yet a while; noit won'do. I got to clear out. Where to? That's the wordwhere to? I'll go down tosupper now"--He went on whispering his thoughts aloudso that they wouldtake more concrete shape in his mind--"I'll go down to supper nowan' thenI'll hang aroun' the bar this evening till I get the lay of this land. Maybethis is fruit countrythough it looks more like a cattle country. Maybe it's amining country. If it's a mining country" he continuedpuckering hisheavy eyebrows"if it's a mining countryan' the mines are far enough offthe roadsmaybe I'd better get to the mines an' lay quiet for a month before Itry to get any farther south."

He washed the cinders and dust of a week's railroading from his face andhairput on a fresh pair of bootsand went down to supper. The dining-room wasof the invariable type of the smaller interior towns of California. There wasbut one tablecovered with oilcloth; rows of benches answered for chairs; arailroad mapa chromo with a gilt frame protected by mosquito nettinghung onthe wallstogether with a yellowed photograph of the proprietor in Masonicregalia. Two waitresses whom the guests--all men-- called by their first namescame and went with large trays.

Through the windows outside McTeague observed a great number of saddle horsestied to trees and fences. Each one of these horses had a riata on the pommel ofthe saddle. He sat down to the tableeating his thick hot soupwatching hisneighbors covertlylistening to everything that was said. It did not take himlong to gather that the country to the east and south of Keeler was a cattlecountry.

Not far offacross a range of hillswas the Panamint Valleywhere the bigcattle ranges were. Every now and then this name was tossed to and fro acrossthe table in the flow of conversation--"Over in the Panamint.""Just going down for a rodeo in the Panamint." "Panamintbrands." "Has a range down in the Panamint." Then by and by theremark"HohyesGold Gulchthey're down to good pay there. That's onthe other side of the Panamint Range. Peters came in yesterday and toldme."

McTeague turned to the speaker.

"Is that a gravel mine?" he asked.

"Nonoquartz."

"I'm a miner; that's why I asked."

"Well I've mined some too. I had a hole in the ground meselfbut shewas silver; and when the skunks at Washington lowered the price of silverwherewas I? Fitcheredb'God!"

"I was looking for a job."

"Wellit's mostly cattle down here in the Panamintbut since thestrike over at Gold Gulch some of the boys have gone prospecting. There's goldin them damn Panamint Mountains. If you can find a good long 'contact' ofcountry rocks you ain't far from it. There's a couple of fellars from Redlandshas located four claims around Gold Gulch. They got a vein eighteen inches widean' Peters says you can trace it for more'n a thousand feet. Were you thinkingof prospecting over there?"

"WellwellI don' knowI don' know."

"WellI'm going over to the other side of the range day after t'morrowafter some ponies of minean' I'm going to have a look around. You say you'vebeen a miner?"

"Yesyes."

"If you're going over that wayyou might come along and see if we can'tfind a contactor copper sulphuretsor something. Even if we don't find colorwe may find silver- bearing galena." Thenafter a pause"Let's seeI didn't catch your name."

"Huh? My name's Carter" answered McTeaguepromptly. Why he shouldchange his name again the dentist could not say. "Carter" came to hismind at onceand he answered without reflecting that he had registered as"Burlington" when he had arrived at the hotel.

"Wellmy name's Cribbens" answered the other. The two shook handssolemnly.

"You're about finished?" continued Cribbenspushing back."Le's go out in the bar an' have a drink on it."

"Suresure" said the dentist.

The two sat up late that night in a corner of the barroom discussing theprobability of finding gold in the Panamint hills. It soon became evident thatthey held differing theories. McTeague clung to the old prospector's idea thatthere was no way of telling where gold was until you actually saw it. Cribbenshad evidently read a good many books upon the subjectand had alreadyprospected in something of a scientific manner.

"Shucks!" he exclaimed. "Gi' me a long distinct contactbetween sedimentary and igneous rocksan' I'll sink a shaft without ever SEEING'color.'"

The dentist put his huge chin in the air. "Gold is where you findit" he returneddoggedly.

"Wellit's my idea as how pardners ought to work along differentlines" said Cribbens. He tucked the corners of his mustache into his mouthand sucked the tobacco juice from them. For a moment he was thoughtfulthen heblew out his mustache abruptlyand exclaimed:

"SayCarterle's make a go of this. You got a little cash Isuppose--fifty dollars or so?"

"Huh ? Yes--I--I--"

"WellI got about fifty. We'll go pardners on the propositionan'we'll dally 'round the range yonder an' see what we can see. What do yousay?"

"Suresure" answered the dentist.

"Wellit's a go thenhey?"

"That's the word."

"Wellle's have a drink on it."

They drank with profound gravity.

They fitted out the next day at the general merchandise store ofKeeler--picksshovelsprospectors' hammersa couple of cradlespansbaconflourcoffeeand the likeand they bought a burro on which to pack their kit.

"Sayby jingoyou ain't got a horse" suddenly exclaimed Cribbensas they came out of the store. "You can't get around this country without apony of some kind."

Cribbens already owned and rode a buckskin cayuse that had to be knocked inthe head and stunned before it could be saddled. "I got an extry saddle an'a headstall at the hotel that you can use" he said"but you'll haveto get a horse."

In the end the dentist bought a mule at the livery stable for forty dollars.It turned out to be a good bargainhoweverfor the mule was a good travellerand seemed actually to fatten on sage-brush and potato parings. When the actualtransaction took placeMcTeague had been obliged to get the money to pay forthe mule out of the canvas sack. Cribbens was with him at the timeand as thedentist unrolled his blankets and disclosed the sackwhistled in amazement.

"An' me asking you if you had fifty dollars!" he exclaimed."You carry your mine right around with youdon't you?"

"HuhI guess so" muttered the dentist. "I--I just sold aclaim I had up in El Dorado County" he added.

At five o'clock on a magnificent May morning the "pardners" joggedout of Keelerdriving the burro before them. Cribbens rode his cayuseMcTeaguefollowing in his rear on the mule.

"Say" remarked Cribbens"why in thunder don't you leave thatfool canary behind at the hotel? It's going to be in your way all the timean'it will sure die. Better break its neck an' chuck it."

"Nono" insisted the dentist. "I've had it too long. I'lltake it with me."

"Wellthat's the craziest idea I ever heard of" remarkedCribbens"to take a canary along prospecting. Why not kid glovesand bedone with it?"

They travelled leisurely to the southeast during the dayfollowing awell-beaten cattle roadand that evening camped on a spur of some hills at thehead of the Panamint Valley where there was a spring. The next day they crossedthe Panamint itself.

"That's a smart looking valley" observed the dentist.

"NOW you're talking straight talk" returned Cribbenssucking hismustache. The valley was beautifulwideleveland very green. Everywhere wereherds of cattlescarcely less wild than deer. Once or twice cowboys passed themon the roadbig-boned fellowspicturesque in their broad hatshairy trousersjingling spursand revolver beltssurprisingly like the pictures McTeagueremembered to have seen. Everyone of them knew Cribbensand almost invariablyjoshed him on his venture.

"SayCribye'd best take a wagon train with ye to bring your dustback."

Cribbens resented their humorand after they had passedchewed fiercely onhis mustache.

"I'd like to make a strikeb'God! if it was only to get the laugh onthem joshers."

By noon they were climbing the eastern slope of the Panamint Range. Longsince they had abandoned the road; vegetation ceased; not a tree was in sight.They followed faint cattle trails that led from one water hole to another. Bydegrees these water holes grew dryer and dryerand at three o'clock Cribbenshalted and filled their canteens.

"There ain't any TOO much water on the other side" he observedgrimly.

"It's pretty hot" muttered the dentistwiping his streamingforehead with the back of his hand.

"Huh!" snorted the other more grimly than ever. The motionless airwas like the mouth of a furnace. Cribbens's pony lathered and panted. McTeague'smule began to droop his long ears. Only the little burro plodded resolutely onpicking the trail where McTeague could see but trackless sand and stunted sage.Towards evening Cribbenswho was in the leaddrew rein on the summit of thehills.

Behind them was the beautiful green Panamint Valleybut before and belowthem for miles and milesas far as the eye could reacha flatwhite desertempty even of sage-brushunrolled toward the horizon. In the immediateforeground a broken system of arroyosand little canyons tumbled down to meetit. To the north faint blue hills shouldered themselves above the horizon.

"Well" observed Cribbens"we're on the top of the PanamintRange now. It's along this eastern sloperight below us herethat we're goingto prospect. Gold Gulch"--he pointed with the butt of his quirt--"isabout eighteen or nineteen miles along here to the north of us. Those hills wayover yonder to the northeast are the Telescope hills."

"What do you call the desert out yonder?" McTeague's eyes wanderedover the illimitable stretch of alkali that stretched out forever and forever tothe eastto the northand to the south.

"That" said Cribbens"that's Death Valley."

There was a long pause. The horses panted irregularlythe sweat drippingfrom their heaving bellies. Cribbens and the dentist sat motionless in theirsaddleslooking out over that abominable desolationsilenttroubled.

"God!" ejaculated Cribbens at lengthunder his breathwith ashake of his head. Then he seemed to rouse himself. "Well" heremarked"first thing we got to do now is to find water."

This was a long and difficult task. They descended into one little canyonafter anotherfollowed the course of numberless arroyosand even dug wherethere seemed indications of moistureall to no purpose. But at lengthMcTeague's mule put his nose in the air and blew once or twice through hisnostrils.

"Smells itthe son of a gun!" exclaimed Cribbens. The dentist letthe animal have his headand in a few minutes he had brought them to the bed ofa tiny canyon where a thin stream of brackish water filtered over a ledge ofrocks.

"We'll camp here" observed Cribbens"but we can't turn thehorses loose. We'll have to picket 'em with the lariats. I saw some loco-weedback here a pieceand if they get to eating thatthey'll sure go plum crazy.The burro won't eat itbut I wouldn't trust the others."

A new life began for McTeague. After breakfast the "pardners"separatedgoing in opposite directions along the slope of the rangeexaminingrockspicking and chipping at ledges and bowlderslooking for signsprospecting. McTeague went up into the little canyons where the streams had cutthrough the bed rocksearching for veins of quartzbreaking out this quartzwhen he had found itpulverizing and panning it. Cribbens hunted for"contacts" closely examining country rocks and out-cropscontinuallyon the lookout for spots where sedimentary and igneous rock came together.

One dayafter a week of prospectingthey met unexpectedly on the slope ofan arroyo. It was late in the afternoon. "Hellopardner" exclaimedCribbens as he came down to where McTeague was bending over his pan. "Whatluck?"

The dentist emptied his pan and straightened up. "Nothingnothing. Youstruck anything?"

"Not a trace. Guess we might as well be moving towards camp." Theyreturned togetherCribbens telling the dentist of a group of antelope he hadseen.

"We might lay off to-morrowan' see if we can plug a couple of themfellers. Antelope steak would go pretty well after beans an' bacon an' coffeeweek in an' week out."

McTeague was answeringwhen Cribbens interrupted him with an exclamation ofprofound disgust. "I thought we were the first to prospect along in herean' now look at that. Don't it make you sick?"

He pointed out evidences of an abandoned prospector's camp just beforethem--charred ashesempty tin cansone or two gold-miner's pansand a brokenpick. "Don't that make you sick?" muttered Cribbenssucking hismustache furiously. "To think of us mushheads going over ground that's beencovered already! Saypardnerwe'll dig out of here to- morrow. I've beenthinkinganyhowwe'd better move to the south; that water of ours is prettylow."

"YesyesI guess so" assented the dentist. "There ain't anygold here."

"Yesthere is" protested Cribbens doggedly; "there's goldall through these hillsif we could only strike it. I tell you whatpardnerIgot a place in mind where I'll bet no one ain't prospected--least not very many.There don't very many care to try an' get to it. It's over on the other side ofDeath Valley. It's called Gold Mountainan' there's only one mine been locatedtherean' it's paying like a nitrate bed. There ain't many people in thatcountrybecause it's all hell to get into. First placeyou got to cross DeathValley and strike the Armagosa Range fur off to the south. Wellno one ain'tstuck on crossing the Valleynot if they can help it. But we could work downthe Panamint some hundred or so milesmaybe two hundredan' fetch around bythe Armagosa Riverway to the south'erd. We could prospect on the way. But Iguess the Armagosa'd be dried up at this season. Anyhow" he concluded"we'll move camp to the south to-morrow. We got to get new feed an' waterfor the horses. We'll see if we can knock over a couple of antelope to-morrowand then we'll scoot."

"I ain't got a gun" said the dentist; "not even a revolver.I--"

"Wait a second" said Cribbenspausing in his scramble down theside of one of the smaller gulches. "Here's some slate here; I ain't seenno slate around here yet. Let's see where it goes to."

McTeague followed him along the side of the gulch. Cribbens went on aheadmuttering to himself from time to time:

"Runs right along hereeven enoughand here's water too. Didn't knowthis stream was here; pretty near drythough. Here's the slate again. See whereit runspardner?"

"Look at it up there ahead" said McTeague. "It runs right upover the back of this hill."

"That's right" assented Cribbens. "Hi!" he shoutedsuddenly"HERE'S A 'CONTACT' and here it is againand thereand yonder.Ohlook at itwill you? That's grano- diorite on slate. Couldn't want it anymore distinct than that. GOD! if we could only find the quartz between the twonow."

"Wellthere it is" exclaimed McTeague. "Look on ahead there;ain't that quartz?"

"You're shouting right out loud" vociferated Cribbenslookingwhere McTeague was pointing. His face went suddenly pale. He turned to thedentisthis eyes wide.

"By Godpardner" he exclaimedbreathlessly. "By God--"he broke off abruptly.

"That's what you been looking forain't it?" asked the dentist.

"LOOKING for! LOOKING for!" Cribbens checked himself . "That'sSLATE all rightand that's grano- dioriteI know"--he bent down andexamined the rock-- "and here's the quartz between 'em; there can't be nomistake about that. Gi' me that hammer" he criedexcitedly. "Comeongit to work. Jab into the quartz with your pick; git out some chunks ofit." Cribbens went down on his hands and kneesattacking the quartz veinfuriously. The dentist followed his exampleswinging his pick with enormousforcesplintering the rocks at every stroke. Cribbens was talking to himself inhis excitement.

"Got you THIS timeyou son of a gun! By God! I guess we got you THIStimeat last. Looks like itanyhow. GET a move onpardner. There ain'tanybody 'roundis there? Hey?" Without lookinghe drew his revolver andthrew it to the dentist. "Take the gun an' look aroundpardner. If you seeany son of a gun ANYWHEREPLUG him. This yere's OUR claim. I guess we got itTHIS tidepardner. Come on." He gathered up the chunks of quartz he hadbroken outand put them in his hat and started towards their camp. The two wentalong with great strideshurrying as fast as they could over the uneven ground.

"I don' know" exclaimed Cribbensbreathlessly"I don' wantto say too much. Maybe we're fooled. Lordthat damn camp's a long ways off. OhI ain't goin' to fool along this way. Come onpardner." He broke into arun. McTeague followed at a lumbering gallop. Over the scorchedparched groundstumbling and tripping over sage-brush and sharp-pointed rocksunder thepalpitating heat of the desert sunthey ran and scrambledcarrying the quartzlumps in their hats.

"See any 'COLOR' in itpardner?" gasped Cribbens. "I can'tcan you? 'Twouldn't be visible nohowI guess. Hurry up. Lordwe ain't evergoing to get to that camp."

Finally they arrived. Cribbens dumped the quartz fragments into a pan.

"You pestle herpardneran' I'll fix the scales." McTeague groundthe lumps to fine dust in the iron mortar while Cribbens set up the tiny scalesand got out the "spoons" from their outfit.

"That's fine enough" Cribbens exclaimedimpatiently. "Nowwe'll spoon her. Gi' me the water."

Cribbens scooped up a spoonful of the fine white powder and began to spoon itcarefully. The two were on their hands and knees upon the groundtheir headsclose togetherstill panting with excitement and the exertion of their run.

"Can't do it" exclaimed Cribbenssitting back on his heels"hand shakes so. YOU take itpardner. Carefulnow."

McTeague took the horn spoon and began rocking it gently in his huge fingerssluicing the water over the edge a little at a timeeach movement washing awaya little more of the powdered quartz. The two watched it with the intensesteagerness.

"Don't see it yet; don't see it yet" whispered Cribbenschewinghis mustache. "LEETLE fasterpardner. That's the ticket. Carefulsteadynow; leetle moreleetle more. Don't see color yetdo you?"

The quartz sediment dwindled by degrees as McTeague spooned it steadily. Thenat last a thin streak of a foreign substance began to show just along the edge.It was yellow.

Neither spoke. Cribbens dug his nails into the sandand ground his mustachebetween his teeth. The yellow streak broadened as the quartz sediment washedaway. Cribbens whispered:

"We got itpardner. That's gold."

McTeague washed the last of the white quartz dust awayand let the watertrickle after it. A pinch of goldfine as flourwas left in the bottom of thespoon.

"There you are" he said. The two looked at each other. ThenCribbens rose into the air with a great leap and a yell that could have beenheard for half a mile.

"Yee-e-ow! We GOT itwe struck it. Pardnerwe got it. Out of sight.We're millionaires." He snatched up his revolver and fired it withinconceivable rapidity. "PUT it thereold man" he shoutedgrippingMcTeague's palm.

"That's goldall right" muttered McTeaguestudying the contentsof the spoon.

"You bet your great-grandma's Cochin-China Chessy cat it's gold"shouted Cribbens. "Herenowwe got a lot to do. We got to stake her outan' put up the location notice. We'll take our full acreageyou bet. You--wehaven't weighed this yet. Where's the scales?" He weighed the pinch of goldwith shaking hands. "Two grains" he cried. "That'll run fivedollars to the ton. Richit's rich; it's the richest kind of paypardner.We're millionaires. Why don't you say something? Why don't you get excited? Whydon't you run around an' do something?"

"Huh!" said McTeaguerolling his eyes. "Huh! I knowI knowwe've struck it pretty rich."

"Come on" exclaimed Cribbensjumping up again. "We'll stakeher out an' put up the location notice. Lordsuppose anyone should have come onher while we've been away." He reloaded his revolver deliberately."We'll drop HIM all rightif there's anyone fooling round there; I'll tellyou those right now. Bring the riflepardneran' if you see anyonePLUG himan' ask him what he wants afterward."

They hurried back to where they had made their discovery.

"To think" exclaimed Cribbensas he drove the first stake"to think those other mushheads had their camp within gunshot of her andnever located her. Guess they didn't know the meaning of a 'contact.' OhI knewI was solid on 'contacts.'"

They staked out their claimand Cribbens put up the notice of location. Itwas dark before they were through. Cribbens broke off some more chunks of quartsin the vein.

"I'll spoon this toojust for the fun of itwhen I get home" heexplainedas they tramped back to the camp.

"Well" said the dentist"we got the laugh on thosecowboys."

"Have we?" shouted Cribbens. "HAVE we? Just wait and see therush for this place when we tell 'em about it down in Keeler. Saywhat'll wecall her?"

"I don' knowI don' know."

"We might call her the 'Last Chance.' 'Twas our last chancewasn't it?We'd 'a' gone antelope shooting tomorrowand the next day we'd 'a'--saywhatyou stopping for?" he addedinterrupting himself. "What's up?"

The dentist had paused abruptly on the crest of a canyon. Cribbenslookingbacksaw him standing motionless in his tracks.

"What's up?" asked Cribbens a second time.

McTeague slowly turned his head and looked over one shoulderthen over theother. Suddenly he wheeled sharply aboutcocking the Winchester and tossing itto his shoulder. Cribbens ran back to his sidewhipping out his revolver.

"What is it?" he cried. "See anybody?" He peered on aheadthrough the gathering twilight.

"Nono."

"Hear anything?"

"Nodidn't hear anything."

"What is it then? What's up?"

"I don' knowI don' know" muttered the dentistlowering therifle. "There was something."

"What?"

"Something--didn't you notice?"

"Notice what?"

"I don' know. Something--something or other."

"Who? What? Notice what? What did you see?"

The dentist let down the hammer of the rifle.

"I guess it wasn't anything" he said rather foolishly.

"What d'you think you saw--anybody on the claim?"

"I didn't see anything. I didn't hear anything either. I had an ideathat's all; came all of a suddenlike that. SomethingI don' know what."

"I guess you just imagined something. There ain't anybody within twentymiles of usI guess."

"YesI guess sojust imagined itthat's the word."

Half an hour later they had the fire going. McTeague was frying strips ofbacon over the coalsand Cribbens was still chattering and exclaiming overtheir great strike. All at once McTeague put down the frying-pan.

"What's that?" he growled.

"Hey? What's what?" exclaimed Cribbensgetting up.

"Didn't you notice something?"

"Where?"

"Off there." The dentist made a vague gesture toward the easternhorizon. "Didn't you hear something--I mean see something--I mean--"

"What's the matter with youpardner?"

"Nothing. I guess I just imagined it."

But it was not imagination. Until midnight the partners lay broad awakerolled in their blankets under the open skytalking and discussing and makingplans. At last Cribbens rolled over on his side and slept. The dentist could notsleep.

What! It was warning him againthat strange sixth sensethat obscure bruteinstinct. It was aroused again and clamoring to be obeyed. Herein thesedesolate barren hillstwenty miles from the nearest human beingit stirred andwoke and rowelled him to be moving on. It had goaded him to flight from the BigDipper mineand he had obeyed. But now it was different; now he had suddenlybecome rich; he had lighted on a treasure--a treasure far more valuable than theBig Dipper mine itself. How was he to leave that? He could not move on now. Heturned about in his blankets. Nohe would not move on. Perhaps it was hisfancyafter all. He saw nothingheard nothing. The emptiness of primevaldesolation stretched from him leagues and leagues upon either hand. The giganticsilence of the night lay close over everythinglike a muffling Titanic palm. Ofwhat was he suspicious? In that treeless waste an object could be seen at half aday's journey distant. In that vast silence the click of a pebble was as audibleas a pistol-shot. And yet there was nothingnothing.

The dentist settled himself in his blankets and tried to sleep. In fiveminutes he was sitting upstaring into the blue-gray shimmer of the moonlightstraining his earswatching and listening intently. Nothing was in sight. Thebrowned and broken flanks of the Panamint hills lay quiet and familiar under themoon. The burro moved its head with a clinking of its bell; and McTeagues muledozing on three legschanged its weight to another footwith a long breath.Everything fell silent again.

"What is it?" muttered the dentist. "If I could only seesomethinghear something."

He threw off the blanketsandrisingclimbed to the summit of the nearesthill and looked back in the direction in which he and Cribbens had travelled afortnight before. For half an hour he waitedwatching and listening in vain.But as he returned to campand prepared to roll his blankets about himthestrange impulse rose in him again abruptlynever so strongnever so insistent.It seemed as though he were bitted and ridden; as if some unseen hand wereturning him toward the east; some unseen heel spurring him to precipitate andinstant flight.

Flight from what? "No" he muttered under his breath. "Go nowand leave the claimand leave a fortune! What a fool I'd bewhen I can't seeanything or hear anything. To leave a fortune! NoI won't. Noby God!" Hedrew Cribbens's Winchester toward him and slipped a cartridge into the magazine.

"No" he growled. "Whatever happensI'm going to stay. Ifanybody comes--" He depressed the lever of the rifleand sent thecartridge clashing into the breech.

"I ain't going to sleep" he muttered under his mustache. "Ican't sleep; I'll watch." He rose a second timeclambered to the nearesthilltop and sat downdrawing the blanket around himand laying the Winchesteracross his knees. The hours passed. The dentist sat on the hilltop a motionlesscrouching figureinky black against the pale blur of the sky. By and by theedge of the eastern horizon began to grow blacker and more distinct in out-line.The dawn was coming. Once more McTeague felt the mysterious intuition ofapproaching danger; an unseen hand seemed reining his head eastward; a spur wasin his flanks that seemed to urge him to hurryhurryhurry. The influence grewstronger with every moment. The dentist set his great jaws together and held hisground.

"No" he growled between his set teeth. "NoI'll stay."He made a long circuit around the campeven going as far as the first stake ofthe new claimhis Winchester cockedhis ears prickedhis eyes alert. Therewas nothing; yet as plainly as though it were shouted at the very nape of hisneck he felt an enemy. It was not fear. McTeague was not afraid.

"If I could only SEE something--somebody" he mutteredas he heldthe cocked rifle ready"I--I'd show him."

He returned to camp. Cribbens was snoring. The burro had come down to thestream for its morning drink. The mule was awake and browsing. McTeague stoodirresolutely by the cold ashes of the camp-firelooking from side to side withall the suspicion and wariness of a tracked stag. Stronger and stronger grew thestrange impulse. It seemed to him that on the next instant he MUST perforcewheel sharply eastward and rush away headlong in a clumsylumbering gallop. Hefought against it with all the ferocious obstinacy of his simple brute nature.

"Goand leave the mine? Go and leave a million dollars? NoNOI won'tgo. NoI'll stay. Ah" he exclaimedunder his breathwith a shake of hishuge headlike an exasperated and harassed brute"ahshow yourselfwillyou?" He brought the rifle to his shoulder and covered point after pointalong the range of hills to the west. "Come onshow yourself. Come on alittleall of you. I ain't afraid of you; but don't skulk this way. You ain'tgoing to drive me away from my mine. I'm going to stay."

An hour passed. Then two. The stars winked outand the dawn whitened. Theair became warmer. The whole eastclean of cloudsflamed opalescent fromhorizon to zenithcrimson at the basewhere the earth blackened against it; atthe top fading from pink to pale yellowto greento light blueto theturquoise iridescence of the desert sky. The longthin shadows of the earlyhours drew backward like receding serpentsthen suddenly the sun looked overthe shoulder of the worldand it was day.

At that moment McTeague was already eight miles away from the campgoingsteadily eastward. He was descending the lowest spurs of the Panamint hillsfollowing an old and faint cattle trail. Before him he drove his muleladenwith blanketsprovisions for six daysCribben's rifleand a canteen full ofwater. Securely bound to the pommel of the saddle was the canvas sack with itsprecious five thousand dollarsall in twenty-dollar gold pieces. But strangeenough in that horrid waste of sand and sage was the object that McTeaguehimself persistently carried--the canary in its cageabout which he hadcarefully wrapped a couple of old flour-bags.

At about five o'clock that morning McTeague had crossed several trails whichseemed to be convergingandguessing that they led to a water holehadfollowed one of them and had brought up at a sort of small sundried sink whichnevertheless contained a little water at the bottom. He had watered the mulehererefilled the canteenand drank deep himself. He had also dampened the oldflour-sacks around the bird cage to protect the little canary as far as possiblefrom the heat that he knew would increase now with every hour. He had made readyto go forward againbut had paused irresolute againhesitating for the lasttime.

"I'm a fool" he growledscowling back at the range behind him."I'm a fool. What's the matter with me? I'm just walking right away from amillion dollars. I know it's there. Noby God!" he exclaimedsavagely"I ain't going to do it. I'm going back. I can't leave a mine likethat." He had wheeled the mule aboutand had started to return on histracksgrinding his teeth fiercelyinclining his head forward as thoughbutting against a wind that would beat him back. "Go ongo on" hecriedsometimes addressing the mulesometimes himself. "Go ongo backgo back. I WILL go back." It was as though he were climbing a hill thatgrew steeper with every stride. The strange impelling instinct fought hisadvance yard by yard. By degrees the dentist's steps grew slower; he stoppedwent forward again cautiouslyalmost feeling his waylike someone approachinga pit in the darkness. He stopped againhesitatinggnashing his teethclinching his fists with blind fury. Suddenly he turned the mule aboutand oncemore set his face to the eastward.

"I can't" he cried aloud to the desert; "I can'tI can't.It's stronger than I am. I CAN'T go back. Hurry nowhurryhurryhurry."

He hastened on furtivelyhis head and shoulders bent. At times one couldalmost say he crouched as he pushed forward with long strides; now and then heeven looked over his shoulder. Sweat rolled from himhe lost his hatand thematted mane of thick yellow hair swept over his forehead and shaded his smalltwinkling eyes. At timeswith a vaguenearly automatic gesturehe reached hishand forwardthe fingers prehensileand directed towards the horizonas if hewould clutch it and draw it nearer; and at intervals he muttered"Hurryhurryhurry onhurry on." For now at last McTeague was afraid.

His plans were uncertain. He remembered what Cribbens had said about theArmagosa Mountains in the country on the other side of Death Valley. It was allhell to get into that countryCribbens had saidand not many men went therebecause of the terrible valley of alkali that barred the waya horrible vastsink of white sand and salt below even the sea levelthe dry bedno doubtofsome prehistoric lake. But McTeague resolved to make a circuit of the valleykeeping to the southuntil he should strike the Armagosa River. He would make acircuit of the valley and come up on the other side. He would get into thatcountry around Gold Mountain in the Armagosa hillsbarred off from the world bythe leagues of the red-hot alkali of Death Valley. "They" would hardlyreach him there. He would stay at Gold Mountain two or three monthsand thenwork his way down into Mexico.

McTeague tramped steadily forwardstill descending the lower irregularitiesof the Panamint Range. By nine o'clock the slope flattened out abruptly; thehills were behind him; before himto the eastall was level. He had reachedthe region where even the sand and sage-brush begin to dwindlegiving place towhitepowdered alkali. The trails were numerousbut old and faint; and theyhad been made by cattlenot by men. They led in all directions but one-- northsouthand west; but not onehowever faintstruck out towards the valley.

"If I keep along the edge of the hills where these trails are"muttered the dentist"I ought to find water up in the arroyos from time totime."

At once he uttered an exclamation. The mule had begun to squeal and lash outwith alternate hoofshis eyes rollinghis ears flattened. He ran a few stepshaltedand squealed again. Thensuddenly wheeling at right anglesset off ona jog trot to the northsquealing and kicking from time to time. McTeague ranafter him shouting and swearingbut for a long time the mule would not allowhimself to be caught. He seemed more bewildered than frightened.

"He's eatun some of that loco-weed that Cribbens spoke about"panted McTeague. "Whoathere; steadyyou." At length the mulestopped of his own accordand seemed to come to his senses again. McTeague cameup and took the bridle reinspeaking to him and rubbing his nose.

"Theretherewhat's the matter with you?" The mule was docileagain. McTeague washed his mouth and set forward once more.

The day was magnificent. From horizon to horizon was one vast span of bluewhitening as it dipped earthward. Miles upon miles to the east and southeast thedesert unrolled itselfwhitenakedinhospitablepalpitating and shimmeringunder the sununbroken by so much as a rock or cactus stump. In the distance itassumed all manner of faint colorspinkpurpleand pale orange. To the westrose the Panamint Rangesparsely sprinkled with gray sage- brush; here theearths and sands were yellowochreand richdeep redthe hollows and canyonspicked out with intense blue shadows. It seemed strange that such barrennesscould exhibit this radiance of colorbut nothing could have been more beautifulthan the deep red of the higher bluffs and ridgesseamed with purple shadowsstanding sharply out against the pale-blue whiteness of the horizon.

By nine o'clock the sun stood high in the sky. The heat was intense; theatmosphere was thick and heavy with it. McTeague gasped for breath and wiped thebeads of perspiration from his foreheadhis cheeksand his neck. Every inchand pore of his skin was tingling and pricking under the merciless lash of thesun's rays.

"If it gets much hotter" he mutteredwith a long breath"ifit gets much hotterI--I don' know--" He wagged his head and wiped thesweat from his eyelidswhere it was running like tears.

The sun rose higher; hour by houras the dentist tramped steadily ontheheat increased. The baked dry sand crackled into innumerable tiny flakes underhis feet. The twigs of the sage-brush snapped like brittle pipestems as hepushed through them. It grew hotter. At eleven the earth was like the surface ofa furnace; the airas McTeague breathed it inwas hot to his lips and the roofof his mouth. The sun was a disk of molten brass swimming in the burnt-out blueof the sky. McTeague stripped off his woollen shirtand even unbuttoned hisflannel undershirttying a handkerchief loosely about his neck.

"Lord!" he exclaimed. "I never knew it COULD get as hot asthis."

The heat grew steadily fiercer; all distant objects were visibly shimmeringand palpitating under it. At noon a mirage appeared on the hills to thenorthwest. McTeague halted the muleand drank from the tepid water in thecanteendampening the sack around the canary's cage. As soon as he ceased histramp and the noise of his crunchinggrinding footsteps died awaythe silencevastillimitableenfolded him like an immeasurable tide. From all thatgigantic landscapethat colossal reach of baking sandthere arose not a singlesound. Not a twig rattlednot an insect hummednot a bird or beast invadedthat huge solitude with call or cry. Everything as far as the eye could reachto northto southto eastand westlay inertabsolutely quiet and movelessunder the remorseless scourge of the noon sun. The very shadows shrank awayhiding under sage-bushesretreating to the farthest nooks and crevices in thecanyons of the hills. All the world was one gigantic blinding glaresilentmotionless. "If it gets much hotter" murmured the dentist againmoving his head from side to side"if it gets much hotterI don' knowwhat I'll do."

Steadily the heat increased. At three o'clock it was even more terrible thanit had been at noon.

"Ain't it EVER going to let up?" groaned the dentistrolling hiseyes at the sky of hot blue brass. Thenas he spokethe stillness was abruptlystabbed through and through by a shrill sound that seemed to come from all sidesat once. It ceased; thenas McTeague took another forward stepbegan againwith the suddenness of a blowshrillernearer at handa hideousprolongednote that brought both man and mule to an instant halt.

"I know what THAT is" exclaimed the dentist. His eyes searched theground swiftly until he saw what he expected he should see--the round thickcoilthe slowly waving clover- shaped head and erect whirring tail with itsvibrant rattles.

For fully thirty seconds the man and snake remained looking into each other'seyes. Then the snake uncoiled and swiftly wound from sight amidst the sagebrush.McTeague drew breath againand his eyes once more beheld the illimitableleagues of quivering sand and alkali.

"Good Lord! What a country!" he exclaimed. But his voice wastrembling as he urged forward the mule once more.

Fiercer and fiercer grew the heat as the afternoon advanced. At four McTeaguestopped again. He was dripping at every porebut there was no relief inperspiration. The very touch of his clothes upon his body was unendurable. Themule's ears were drooping and his tongue lolled from his mouth. The cattletrails seemed to be drawing together toward a common point; perhaps a water holewas near by.

"I'll have to lay upsure" muttered the dentist. "I ain'tmade to travel in such heat as this."

He drove the mule up into one of the larger canyons and halted in the shadowof a pile of red rock. After a long search he found watera few quartswarmand brackishat the bottom of a hollow of sunwracked mud; it was little morethan enough to water the mule and refill his canteen. Here he campedeasing themule of the saddleand turning him loose to find what nourishment he might. Afew hours later the sun set in a cloudless glory of red and goldand the heatbecame by degrees less intolerable. McTeague cooked his supperchiefly coffeeand baconand watched the twilight come onrevelling in the delicious coolnessof the evening. As he spread his blankets on the ground he resolved thathereafter he would travel only at nightlaying up in the daytime in the shadeof the canyons. He was exhausted with his terrible day's march. Never in hislife had sleep seemed so sweet to him.

But suddenly he was broad awakehis jaded senses all alert.

"What was that?" he muttered. "I thought I heard something--saw something."

He rose to his feetreaching for the Winchester. Desolation lay still aroundhim. There was not a sound but his own breathing; on the face of the desert nota grain of sand was in motion. McTeague looked furtively and quickly from sideto sidehis teeth sethis eyes rolling. Once more the rowel was in his flanksonce more an unseen hand reined him toward the east. After all the miles of thatdreadful day's flight he was no better off than when he started. If anythinghewas worsefor never had that mysterious instinct in him been more insistentthan now; never had the impulse toward precipitate flight been stronger; neverhad the spur bit deeper. Every nerve of his body cried aloud for rest; yet everyinstinct seemed aroused and alivegoading him to hurry onto hurry on.

"What IS itthen? What is it?" he criedbetween his teeth."Can't I ever get rid of you? Ain't I EVER going to shake you off? Don'keep it up this way. Show yourselves. Let's have it out right away. Come on. Iain't afraid if you'll only come on; but don't skulk this way." Suddenly hecried aloud in a frenzy of exasperation"Damn youcome onwill you? Comeon and have it out." His rifle was at his shoulderhe was covering bushafter bushrock after rockaiming at every denser shadow. All at onceandquite involuntarilyhis forefinger crookedand the rifle spoke and flamed. Thecanyons roared back the echotossing it out far over the desert in a ripplingwidening wave of sound.

McTeague lowered the rifle hastilywith an exclamation of dismay.

"You fool" he said to himself"you fool. You've done it now.They could hear that miles away. You've done it now."

He stood listening intentlythe rifle smoking in his hands. The last echodied away. The smoke vanishedthe vast silence closed upon the passing echoesof the rifle as the ocean closes upon a ship's wake. Nothing moved; yet McTeaguebestirred himself sharplyrolling up his blanketsresaddling the mulegettinghis outfit together again. From time to time he muttered:

"Hurry now; hurry on. You foolyou've done it now. They could hear thatmiles away. Hurry now. They ain't far off now."

As he depressed the lever of the rifle to reload ithe found that themagazine was empty. He clapped his hands to his sidesfeeling rapidly first inone pocketthen in another. He had forgotten to take extra cartridges with him.McTeague swore under his breath as he flung the rifle away. Henceforth he musttravel unarmed.

A little more water had gathered in the mud hole near which he had camped. Hewatered the mule for the last time and wet the sacks around the canary's cage.Then once more he set forward.

But there was a change in the direction of McTeague's flight. Hitherto he hadheld to the southkeeping upon the very edge of the hills; now he turnedsharply at right angles. The slope fell away beneath his hurrying feet; thesage-brush dwindledand at length ceased; the sand gave place to a fine powderwhite as snow; and an hour after he had fired the rifle his mule's hoofs werecrisping and cracking the sun-baked flakes of alkali on the surface of DeathValley.

Tracked and harriedas he felt himself to befrom one camping place toanotherMcTeague had suddenly resolved to make one last effort to rid himselfof the enemy that seemed to hang upon his heels. He would strike straight outinto that horrible wilderness where even the beasts were afraid. He would crossDeath Valley at once and put its arid wastes between him and his pursuer.

"You don't dare follow me now" he mutteredas he hurried on."Let's see you come out HERE after me."

He hurried on swiftlyurging the mule to a rapid racking walk. Towards fouro'clock the sky in front of him began to flush pink and golden. McTeague haltedand breakfastedpushing on again immediately afterward. The dawn flamed andglowed like a brazierand the sun rose a vast red-hot coal floating in fire. Anhour passedthen anotherand another. It was about nine o'clock. Once more thedentist pausedand stood panting and blowinghis arms danglinghis eyesscrewed up and blinking as he looked about him.

Far behind him the Panamint hills were already but blue hummocks on thehorizon. Before him and upon either sideto the north and to the east and tothe southstretched primordial desolation. League upon league the infinitereaches of dazzling white alkali laid themselves out like an immeasurable scrollunrolled from horizon to horizon; not a bushnot a twig relieved that horriblemonotony. Even the sand of the desert would have been a welcome sight; a singleclump of sage-brush would have fascinated the eye; but this was worse than thedesert. It was abominablethis hideous sink of alkalithis bed of someprimeval lake lying so far below the level of the ocean. The great mountains ofPlacer County had been merely indifferent to man; but this awful sink of alkaliwas openly and unreservedly iniquitous and malignant.

McTeague had told himself that the heat upon the lower slopes of the Panaminthad been dreadful; here in Death Valley it became a thing of terror. There wasno longer any shadow but his own. He was scorched and parched from head to heel.It seemed to him that the smart of his tortured body could not have been keenerif he had been flayed.

"If it gets much hotter" he mutteredwringing the sweat from histhick fell of hair and mustache"if it gets much hotterI don' know whatI'll do." He was thirstyand drank a little from his canteen. "Iain't got any too much water" he murmuredshaking the canteen. "Igot to get out of this place in a hurrysure."

By eleven o'clock the heat had increased to such an extent that McTeaguecould feel the burning of the ground come pringling and stinging through thesoles of his boots. Every step he took threw up clouds of impalpable alkalidustsalty and chokingso that he strangled and coughed and sneezed with it.

"LORD! what a country!" exclaimed the dentist.

An hour laterthe mule stopped and lay downhis jaws wide openhis earsdangling. McTeague washed his mouth with a handful of water and for a secondtime since sunrise wetted the flour-sacks around the bird cage. The air wasquivering and palpitating like that in the stoke-hold of a steamship. The sunsmall and contractedswam molten overhead.

"I can't stand it" said McTeague at length. "I'll have tostop and make some kinda shade."

The mule was crouched upon the groundpanting rapidlywith half-closedeyes. The dentist removed the saddleand unrolling his blanketpropped it upas best he could between him and the sun. As he stooped down to crawl beneathithis palm touched the ground. He snatched it away with a cry of pain. Thesurface alkali was oven-hot; he was obliged to scoop out a trench in it beforehe dared to lie down.

By degrees the dentist began to doze. He had had little or no sleep the nightbeforeand the hurry of his flight under the blazing sun had exhausted him. Buthis rest was broken; between waking and sleepingall manner of troublous imagesgalloped through his brain. He thought he was back in the Panamint hills againwith Cribbens. They had just discovered the mine and were returning toward camp.McTeague saw himself as another manstriding along over the sand and sagebrush.At once he saw himself stop and wheel sharply aboutpeering back suspiciously.There was something behind him; something was following him. He lookedas itwereover the shoulder of this other McTeagueand saw down therein the halflight of the canyonsomething dark crawling upon the groundan indistinct grayfigureman or brutehe did not know. Then he saw anotherand another; thenanother. A score of blackcrawling objects were following himcrawling frombush to bushconverging upon him. "THEY" were after himwere closingin upon himwere within touch of his handwere at his feet--WERE AT HISTHROAT.

McTeague jumped up with a shoutoversetting the blanket. There was nothingin sight. For miles aroundthe alkali was emptysolitaryquivering andshimmering under the pelting fire of the afternoon's sun.

But once more the spur bit into his bodygoading him on. There was to be norestno going backno pauseno stop. Hurryhurryhurry on. The brute thatin him slept so close to the surface was alive and alertand tugging to begone. There was no resisting that instinct. The brute felt an enemyscented thetrackersclamored and struggled and foughtand would not be gainsaid.

"I CAN'T go on" groaned McTeaguehis eyes sweeping the horizonbehind him"I'm beat out. I'm dog tired. I ain't slept any for twonights." But for all that he roused himself againsaddled the mulescarcely less exhausted than himselfand pushed on once more over the scorchingalkali and under the blazing sun.

From that time on the fear never left himthe spur never ceased to bitetheinstinct that goaded him to fight never was dumb; hurry or haltit was all thesame. On he wentstraight onchasing the receding horizon; flagellated withheat; tortured with thirst; crouching over; looking furtively behindand attimes reaching his hand forwardthe fingers prehensilegraspingas it weretoward the horizonthat always fled before him.

The sun set upon the third day of McTeague's flightnight came onthe starsburned slowly into the cool dark purple of the sky. The gigantic sink of whitealkali glowed like snow. McTeaguenow far into the desertheld steadily onswinging forward with great strides. His enormous strength held him doggedly tohis work. Sullenlywith his huge jaws gripping stolidly togetherhe pushed on.At midnight he stopped.

"Now" he growledwith a certain desperate defianceas though heexpected to be heard"nowI'm going to lay up and get some sleep. You cancome or not."

He cleared away the hot surface alkalispread out his blanketand sleptuntil the next day's heat aroused him. His water was so low that he dared notmake coffee nowand so breakfasted without it. Until ten o'clock he trampedforwardthen camped again in the shade of one of the rare rock ledgesand"lay up" during the heat of the day. By five o'clock he was once moreon the march.

He travelled on for the greater part of that nightstopping only oncetowards three in the morning to water the mule from the canteen. Again thered-hot day burned up over the horizon. Even at six o'clock it was hot.

"It's going to be worse than ever to-day" he groaned. "I wishI could find another rock to camp by. Ain't I ever going to get out of thisplace?"

There was no change in the character of the desert. Always the samemeasureless leagues of white-hot alkali stretched away toward the horizon onevery hand. Here and there the flatdazzling surface of the desert broke andraised into long low moundsfrom the summit of which McTeague could look formiles and miles over its horrible desolation. No shade was in sight. Not a rocknot a stone broke the monotony of the ground. Again and again he ascended thelow unevennesseslooking and searching for a camping placeshading his eyesfrom the glitter of sand and sky.

He tramped forward a little fartherthen paused at length in a hollowbetween two breaksresolving to make camp there.

Suddenly there was a shout.

"Hands up. By damnI got the drop on you!"

McTeague looked up.

It was Marcus.

CHAPTER 22

Within a month after his departure from San FranciscoMarcus had "gonein on a cattle ranch" in the Panamint Valley with an Englishmananacquaintance of Mr. Sieppe's. His headquarters were at a place called Modocatthe lower extremity of the valleyabout fifty miles by trail to the south ofKeeler.

His life was the life of a cowboy. He realized his former vision of himselfbootedsombreroedand revolveredpassing his days in the saddle and thebetter part of his nights around the poker tables in Modoc's one saloon. To hisintense satisfaction he even involved himself in a gun fight that arose over adisputed brandwith the result that two fingers of his left hand were shotaway.

News from the outside world filtered slowly into the Panamint Valleyand thetelegraph had never been built beyond Keeler. At intervals one of the localpapers of Independencethe nearest large townfound its way into the cattlecamps on the rangesand occasionally one of the Sunday editions of a Sacramentojournalweeks oldwas passed from hand to hand. Marcus ceased to hear from theSieppes. As for San Franciscoit was as far from him as was London or Vienna.

One daya fortnight after McTeague's flight from San FranciscoMarcus rodeinto Modocto find a group of men gathered about a notice affixed to theoutside of the Wells- Fargo office. It was an offer of reward for the arrest andapprehension of a murderer. The crime had been committed in San Franciscobutthe man wanted had been traced as far as the western portion of Inyo Countyandwas believed at that time to be in hiding in either the Pinto or Panamint hillsin the vicinity of Keeler.

Marcus reached Keeler on the afternoon of that same day. Half a mile from thetown his pony fell and died from exhaustion. Marcus did not stop even to removethe saddle. He arrived in the barroom of the hotel in Keeler just after theposse had been made up. The sheriffwho had come down from Independence thatmorningat first refused his offer of assistance. He had enough menalready--too manyin fact. The country travelled through would be hardand itwould be difficult to find water for so many men and horses.

"But none of you fellers have ever seen um" vociferated Marcusquivering with excitement and wrath. "I know um well. I could pick um outin a million. I can identify umand you fellers can't. And I knew--I knew--goodGOD! I knew that girl--his wife--in Frisco. She's a cousin of mineshe is--shewas--I thought once of--This thing's a personal matter of mine--an' that moneyhe got away withthat five thousandbelongs to me by rights. Ohnever mindI'm going along. Do you hear?" he shoutedhis fists raised"I'mgoing alongI tell you. There ain't a man of you big enough to stop me. Let'ssee you try and stop me going. Let's see you onceany two of you." Hefilled the barroom with his clamor.

"Lord love youcome alongthen" said the sheriff.

The posse rode out of Keeler that same night. The keeper of the generalmerchandise storefrom whom Marcus had borrowed a second ponyhad informedthem that Cribbens and his partnerwhose description tallied exactly with thatgiven in the notice of rewardhad outfitted at his place with a view toprospecting in the Panamint hills. The posse trailed them at once to their firstcamp at the head of the valley. It was an easy matter. It was only necessary toinquire of the cowboys and range riders of the valley if they had seen and notedthe passage of two menone of whom carried a bird cage.

Beyond this first camp the trail was lostand a week was wasted in abootless search around the mine at Gold Gulchwhither it seemed probable thepartners had gone. Then a travelling peddlerwho included Gold Gulch in hisroutebrought in the news of a wonderful strike of gold-bearing quartz some tenmiles to the south on the western slope of the range. Two men from Keeler hadmade a strikethe peddler had saidand added the curious detail that one ofthe men had a canary bird in a cage with him.

The posse made Cribbens's camp three days after the unaccountabledisappearance of his partner. Their man was gonebut the narrow hoof prints ofa mulemixed with those of huge hob-nailed bootscould be plainly followed inthe sand. Here they picked up the trail and held to it steadily till the pointwas reached whereinstead of tending southward it swerved abruptly to the east.The men could hardly believe their eyes.

"It ain't reason" exclaimed the sheriff. "What in thunder ishe up to? This beats me. Cutting out into Death Valley at this time ofyear."

"He's heading for Gold Mountain over in the Armagosasure."

The men decided that this conjecture was true. It was the only inhabitedlocality in that direction. A discussion began as to the further movements ofthe posse.

"I don't figure on going into that alkali sink with no eight men andhorses" declared the sheriff. "One man can't carry enough water totake him and his mount acrosslet alone EIGHT. Nosir. Four couldn't do it.NoTHREE couldn't. We've got to make a circuit round the valley and come up onthe other side and head him off at Gold Mountain. That's what we got to doandride like hell to do ittoo."

But Marcus protested with all the strength of his lungs against abandoningthe trail now that they had found it. He argued that they were but a day and ahalf behind their man now. There was no possibility of their missing the trail--as distinct in the white alkali as in snow. They could make a dash into thevalleysecure their manand return long before their water failed them. Hefor onewould not give up the pursuitnow that they were so close. In thehaste of the departure from Keeler the sheriff had neglected to swear him in. Hewas under no orders. He would do as he pleased.

"Go onthenyou darn fool" answered the sheriff. "We'll cuton round the valleyfor all that. It's a gamble he'll be at Gold Mountainbefore you're half way across. But if you catch himhere"--he tossedMarcus a pair of handcuffs-- "put 'em on him and bring him back toKeeler."

Two days after he had left the posseand when he was already far out in thedesertMarcus's horse gave out. In the fury of his impatience he had spurredmercilessly forward on the trailand on the morning of the third day found thathis horse was unable to move. The joints of his legs seemed locked rigidly. Hewould go his own lengthstumbling and interferingthen collapse helplesslyupon the ground with a pitiful groan. He was used up.

Marcus believed himself to be close upon McTeague now. The ashes at his lastcamp had still been smoldering. Marcus took what supplies of food and water hecould carryand hurried on. But McTeague was farther ahead than he had guessedand by evening of his third day upon the desert Marcusraging with thirsthaddrunk his last mouthful of water and had flung away the empty canteen.

"If he ain't got water with um" he said to himself as he pushedon"If he ain't got water with umby damn! I'll be in a bad way. I willfor a fact."

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

At Marcus's shout McTeague looked up and around him. For the instant he sawno one. The white glare of alkali was still unbroken. Then his swiftly rollingeyes lighted upon a head and shoulder that protruded above the low crest of thebreak directly in front of him. A man was therelying at full length upon thegroundcovering him with a revolver. For a few seconds McTeague looked at theman stupidlybewilderedconfusedas yet without definite thought. Then henoticed that the man was singularly like Marcus Schouler. It WAS MarcusSchouler. How in the world did Marcus Schouler come to be in that desert? Whatdid he mean by pointing a pistol at him that way? He'd best look out or thepistol would go off. Then his thoughts readjusted themselves with a swiftnessborn of a vivid sense of danger. Here was the enemy at lastthe tracker he hadfelt upon his footsteps. Now at length he had "come on" and shownhimselfafter all those days of skulking. McTeague was glad of it. He'd showhim now. They two would have it out right then and there. His rifle! He hadthrown it away long since. He was helpless. Marcus had ordered him to put up hishands. If he did notMarcus would kill him. He had the drop on him. McTeaguestaredscowling fiercely at the levelled pistol. He did not move.

"Hands up!" shouted Marcus a second time. "I'll give you threeto do it in. Onetwo----"

Instinctively McTeague put his hands above his head.

Marcus rose and came towards him over the break.

"Keep 'em up" he cried. "If you move 'em once I'll kill yousure."

He came up to McTeague and searched himgoing through his pockets; butMcTeague had no revolver; not even a hunting knife.

"What did you do with that moneywith that five thousand dollars?"

"It's on the mule" answered McTeaguesullenly.

Marcus gruntedand cast a glance at the mulewho was standing some distanceawaysnorting nervouslyand from time to time flattening his long ears.

"Is that it there on the horn of the saddlethere in that canvassack?" Marcus demanded.

"Yesthat's it."

A gleam of satisfaction came into Marcus's eyesand under his breath hemuttered:

"Got it at last."

He was singularly puzzled to know what next to do. He had got McTeague. Therehe stood at lengthwith his big hands over his headscowling at him sullenly.Marcus had caught his enemyhad run down the man for whom every officer in theState had been looking. What should he do with him now? He couldn't keep himstanding there forever with his hands over his head.

"Got any water?" he demanded.

"There's a canteen of water on the mule."

Marcus moved toward the mule and made as if to reach the bridle-rein. Themule squealedthrew up his headand galloped to a little distancerolling hiseyes and flattening his ears.

Marcus swore wrathfully.

"He acted that way once before" explained McTeaguehis handsstill in the air. "He ate some loco-weed back in the hills before Istarted."

For a moment Marcus hesitated. While he was catching the mule McTeague mightget away. But where toin heaven's name? A rat could not hide on the surface ofthat glistening alkaliand besidesall McTeague's store of provisions and hispriceless supply of water were on the mule. Marcus ran after the mulerevolverin handshouting and cursing. But the mule would not be caught. He acted as ifpossessedsquealinglashing outand galloping in wide circleshis head highin the air.

"Come on" shouted Marcusfuriousturning back to McTeague."Come onhelp me catch him. We got to catch him. All the water we got ison the saddle."

McTeague came up.

"He's eatun some loco-weed" he repeated. "He went kinda crazyonce before."

"If he should take it into his head to bolt and keep onrunning----"

Marcus did not finish. A sudden great fear seemed to widen around and inclosethe two men. Once their water gonethe end would not be long.

"We can catch him all right" said the dentist. "I caught himonce before."

"OhI guess we can catch him" answered Marcusreassuringly.

Already the sense of enmity between the two had weakened in the face of acommon peril. Marcus let down the hammer of his revolver and slid it back intothe holster.

The mule was trotting on aheadsnorting and throwing up great clouds ofalkali dust. At every step the canvas sack jingledand McTeague's bird cagestill wrapped in the flour-bagsbumped against the saddlepads. By and by themule stoppedblowing out his nostrils excitedly.

"He's clean crazy" fumed Marcuspanting and swearing.

"We ought to come up on him quiet" observed McTeague.

"I'll try and sneak up" said Marcus; "two of us would scarehim again. You stay here."

Marcus went forward a step at a time. He was almost within arm's length ofthe bridle when the mule shied from him abruptly and galloped away.

Marcus danced with rageshaking his fistsand swearing horribly. Somehundred yards away the mule paused and began blowing and snuffing in the alkalias though in search of feed. Thenfor no reasonhe shied againand startedoff on a jog trot toward the east.

"We've GOT to follow him" exclaimed Marcus as McTeague came up."There's no water within seventy miles of here."

Then began an interminable pursuit. Mile after mileunder the terrible heatof the desert sunthe two men followed the muleracked with a thirst that grewfiercer every hour. A dozen times they could almost touch the canteen of waterand as often the distraught animal shied away and fled before them. At lengthMarcus cried:

"It's no usewe can't catch himand we're killing ourselves withthirst. We got to take our chances." He drew his revolver from its holstercocked itand crept forward.

"Steadynow" said McTeague; "it won' do to shoot through thecanteen."

Within twenty yards Marcus pausedmade a rest of his left forearm and fired.

"You GOT him" cried McTeague. "Nohe's up again. Shoot himagain. He's going to bolt."

Marcus ran onfiring as he ran. The muleone foreleg trailingscrambledalongsquealing and snorting. Marcus fired his last shot. The mule pitchedforward upon his headthenrolling sidewaysfell upon the canteenburstingit open and spilling its entire contents into the sand.

Marcus and McTeague ran upand Marcus snatched the battered canteen fromunder the reekingbloody hide. There was no water left. Marcus flung thecanteen from him and stood upfacing McTeague. There was a pause.

"We're dead men" said Marcus.

McTeague looked from him out over the desert. Chaotic desolation stretchedfrom them on either handflaming and glaring with the afternoon heat. There wasthe brazen sky and the leagues upon leagues of alkalileper white. There wasnothing more. They were in the heart of Death Valley.

"Not a drop of water" muttered McTeague; "not a drop ofwater."

"We can drink the mule's blood" said Marcus. "It's been donebefore. But--but--" he looked down at the quiveringgory body--"but Iain't thirsty enough for that yet."

"Where's the nearest water?"

"Wellit's about a hundred miles or more back of us in the Panaminthills" returned Marcusdoggedly. "We'd be crazy long before wereached it. I tell youwe're done forby damnwe're DONE for. We ain't evergoing to get outa here."

"Done for?" murmured the otherlooking about stupidly. "Doneforthat's the word. Done for? YesI guess we're done for."

"What are we going to do NOW?" exclaimed Marcussharplyafter awhile.

"Welllet's--let's be moving along--somewhere."

"WHEREI'd like to know? What's the good of moving on?"

"What's the good of stopping here?"

There was a silence.

"Lordit's hot" said the dentistfinallywiping his foreheadwith the back of his hand. Marcus ground his teeth.

"Done for" he muttered; "done for."

"I never WAS so thirsty" continued McTeague. "I'm that dry Ican hear my tongue rubbing against the roof of my mouth."

"Wellwe can't stop here" said Marcusfinally; "we got togo somewhere. We'll try and get backbut it ain't no manner of use. Anything wewant to take along with us from the mule? We can----"

Suddenly he paused. In an instant the eyes of the two doomed men had met asthe same thought simultaneously rose in their minds. The canvas sack with itsfive thousand dollars was still tied to the horn of the saddle.

Marcus had emptied his revolver at the muleand though he still wore hiscartridge belthe was for the moment as unarmed as McTeague.

"I guess" began McTeague coming forward a step"I guesseven if we are done forI'll take--some of my truck along."

"Hold on" exclaimed Marcuswith rising aggressiveness."Let's talk about that. I ain't so sure about who that--who that moneybelongs to."

"WellI AMyou see" growled the dentist.

The old enmity between the two mentheir ancient hatewas flaming up again.

"Don't try an' load that gun either" cried McTeaguefixing Marcuswith his little eyes.

"Then don't lay your finger on that sack" shouted the other."You're my prisonerdo you understand? You'll do as I say." Marcushad drawn the handcuffs from his pocketand stood ready with his revolver heldas a club. "You soldiered me out of that money onceand played me for asuckeran' it's my turn now. Don't you lay your finger on that sack."

Marcus barred McTeague's waywhite with passion. McTeague did not answer.His eyes drew to two finetwinkling pointsand his enormous hands knottedthemselves into fistshard as wooden mallets. He moved a step nearer to Marcusthen another.

Suddenly the men grappledand in another instant were rolling and strugglingupon the hot white ground. McTeague thrust Marcus backward until he tripped andfell over the body of the dead mule. The little bird cage broke from the saddlewith the violence of their falland rolled out upon the groundthe flour-bagsslipping from it. McTeague tore the revolver from Marcus's grip and struck outwith it blindly. Clouds of alkali dustfine and pungentenveloped the twofighting menall but strangling them.

McTeague did not know how he killed his enemybut all at once Marcus grewstill beneath his blows. Then there was a sudden last return of energy.McTeague's right wrist was caughtsomething licked upon itthen the strugglingbody fell limp and motionless with a long breath.

As McTeague rose to his feethe felt a pull at his right wrist; somethingheld it fast. Looking downhe saw that Marcus in that last struggle had foundstrength to handcuff their wrists together. Marcus was dead now; McTeague waslocked to the body. All about himvast interminablestretched the measurelessleagues of Death Valley.

McTeague remained stupidly looking around himnow at the distant horizonnow at the groundnow at the half-dead canary chittering feebly in its littlegilt prison.