Vanity and Some Sables

When “Kid” Brady was sent to the ropes by Molly McKeever’s blue-black eyes he withdrew from the Stovepipe Gang. So much for the power of a colleen’s blanderin’ tongue and stubborn true-heartedness. If you are a man who read this, may such an influence be sent you before two o’clock to-morrow; if you are a woman, may your Pomeranian greet you this morning with a cold nose—a sign of dog health and your happiness.

The Stovepipe Gang borrowed its name from a subdistrict of the city called the “Stovepipe,” which is a narrow and natural extension of the familiar district known as “Hell’s Kitchen.” The “Stovepipe” strip of town rungs along Eleventh and Twelfth Avenues on the river, and bends a hard and sooty elbow around little, lost, homeless De Witt Clinton Park. Consider that a stovepipe is an important factor in any kitchen and the situation is analysed. The chefs in “Hell’s Kitchen” are many, and the Stovepipe Gang wears the cordon blue.

The members of this unchartered but widely known brotherhood appeared to pass their time on street corners arrayed like the lilies of the conservatory and busy with nail files and penknives. Thus displayed as a guarantee of good faith, they carried on an innocuous conversation in a 200-word vocabulary, to the casual observer as innocent and immaterial as that heard in the clubs seven blocks to the east.

But off exhibition the “Stovepipes” were not mere street corner ornaments addicted to posing and manicuring. Their serious occupation was the separating of citizens from their coin and valuables. Preferably this was done by weird and singular tricks without noise or bloodshed; but whenever the citizen honoured by their attentions refused to impoverish himself gracefully, his objections came to be spread finally upon some police station blotter or hospital register.

The police held the Stovepipe Gang in perpetual suspicion and respect. As the nightingale’s liquid note is heard in the deepest shadows, so along the “Stovepipe’s” dark and narrow confines the whistle for reserves punctures the dull ear of night. Whenever there was smoke in the “Stovepipe” the tasselled men in blue knew there was fire in “Hell’s Kitchen.”

“Kid” Brady promised Molly to be good. “Kid” was the vainest the strongest, the wariest and the most successful plotter in the gang. Therefore, the boys were sorry to give him up.

But they witnessed his fall to a virtuous life without protest. For, in the Kitchen it is considered neither unmanly nor improper for a guy to do as his girl advises.

Black her eye for love’s sake, if you will; but it is all-to-the-good business to do a thing when she wants you to do it.

“Turn off the hydrant,” said the Kid, one night when Molly, tearful, besought him to amend his ways. “I’m going to cut out the gang. You for mine, and the simple life on the side. I’ll tell you, Moll—I’ll get work; and in a year we’ll get married. I’ll do it for you. We’ll get a flat and a flute, and a sewing machine, and a rubber plant and live as honest as we can.”

“Oh, Kid,” sighed Molly, wiping the powder off his shoulder with her handkerchief, “I’d rather hear you say that than to own all of New York. And we can be happy on so little!”

The Kid looked down at his speckless cuffs and shining patent leathers with a suspicion of melancholy.

“It’ll hurt hardest in the rags department,” said he. “I’ve kind of always liked to rig out swell when I could. You know how I hate cheap things, Moll. This suit set me back sixty-five. Anything in the wearing apparel line has got to be just so, or it’s to the misfit parlours for it, for mine. If I work I won’t have so much coin to hand over to the little man with the big shears.”

“Never mind, Kid. I’ll like you just as much in a blue jumper as I would in a red automobile.”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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