Brickdust Row

Blinker was displeased. A man of less culture and poise and wealth would have sworn. But Blinker always remembered that he was a gentleman—a thing that no gentleman should do. So he merely looked bored and sardonic while he rode in a hansom to the centre of disturbance, which was the Broadway office of Lawyer Oldport, who was agent for the Blinker estate.

“I don’t see,” said Blinker, “why I should be always signing confounded papers. I am packed, and was to have left for the North Woods this morning. Now I must wait until to-morrow morning. I hate night trains. My best razors are, of course, at the bottom of some unidentifiable trunk. It is a plot to drive me to bay rum and a monologueing, thumb-handed barber. Give me a pen that doesn’t scratch. I hate pens that scratch.”

“Sit down,” said double-chinned, grey Lawyer Oldport. “The worst has not been told you. Oh, the hardships of the rich! The papers are not yet ready to sign. They will be laid before you tomorrow at eleven. You will miss another day. Twice shall the barber tweak the helpless nose of a Blinker. Be thankful that your sorrows do not embrace a hair-cut.”

“If,” said Blinker, rising, “the act did not involve more signing of papers I would take my business out of your hands at once. Give me a cigar, please.”

“If,” said Lawyer Oldport, “I had cared to see an old friend’s son gulped down at one mouthful by sharks I would have ordered you to take it away long ago. Now, let’s quit fooling, Alexander. Besides the grinding task of signing your name some thirty times to-morrow, I must impose upon you the consideration of a matter of business—of business, and I may say humanity or right. I spoke to you about this five years ago, but you would not listen—you were in a hurry for a coaching trip, I think. The subject has come up again. The property——”

“Oh, property!” interrupted Blinker. “Dear Mr. Oldport, I think you mentioned to-morrow. Let’s have it all at one dose to-morrow—signatures and property and snappy rubber bands and that smelly sealing-wax and all. Have luncheon with me? Well, I’ll try to remember to drop in at eleven to-morrow. Morning.”

The Blinker wealth was in lands, tenements and hereditaments, as the legal phrase goes. Lawyer Oldport had once taken Alexander in his little pulmonary gasoline runabout to see the many buildings and rows of buildings that he owned in the city. For Alexander was sole heir. They had amused Blinker very much. The houses looked so incapable of producing the big sums of money that Lawyer Oldport kept piling up in banks for him to spend.

In the evening Blinker went to one of his clubs, intending to dine. Nobody was there except some old fogies playing whist who spoke to him with grave politeness and glared at him with savage contempt. Everybody was out of town. But here he was kept in like a schoolboy to write his name over and over on pieces of paper. His wounds were deep.

Blinker turned his back on the fogies, and said to the club steward who had come forward with some nonsense about cold fresh salmon roe:

“Symons, I’m going to Coney Island.” He said it as one might say: “All’s off; I’m going to jump into the river.”

The joke pleased Symons. He laughed within a sixteenth of a note of the audibility permitted by the laws governing employees.

“Certainly, sir,” he tittered. “Of course, sir, I think I can see you at Coney, Mr. Blinker.”

Blinker got a paper and looked up the movements of Sunday steamboats. Then he found a cab at the first corner and drove to a North River pier. He stood in line, as democratic as you or I, and bought a ticket, and was trampled upon and shoved forward until, at last, he found himself on the upper deck of

  By PanEris using Melati.

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