The Social Triangle
At the stroke of six Ikey Snigglefritz laid down his goose. Ikey was a tailors apprentice. Are there tailors apprentices nowadays?
At any rate, Ikey toiled and snipped and basted and pressed and patched and sponged all day in the steamy fetor of a tailor-shop. But when work was done Ikey hitched his wagon to such stars as his firmament let shine.
It was Saturday night, and the boss laid twelve begrimed and begrudged dollars in his hand. Ikey dabbled discreetly in water, donned coat, hat and collar with its frazzled tie and chalcedony pin, and set forth in pursuit of his ideals.
For each of us, when our days work is done, must seek our ideal, whether it be love or pinochle or lobster à la Newburg, or the sweet silence of the musty bookshelves.
Behold Ikey as he ambles up the street beneath the roaring El between the rows of reeking sweat- shops. Pallid, stooping, insignificant, squalid, doomed to exist for ever in penury of body and mind, yet, as he swings his cheap cane and projects the noisome inhalations from his cigarette, you perceive that he nurtures in his narrow bosom the bacillus of society.
Ikeys legs carried him to and into that famous place of entertainment known as the Café Maginnisfamous because it was the rendezvous of Billy McMahan, the greatest man, the most wonderful man, Ikey thought, that the world had ever produced.
Billy McMahan was the district leader. Upon him the Tiger purred, and his hand held manna to scatter. Now, as Ikey entered, McMahan stood, flushed and triumphant and mighty, the centre of a huzzaing concourse of his lieutenants and constituents. It seems there had been an election; a signal victory had been won; the city had been swept back into line by a resistless besom of ballots.
Ikey slunk along the bar and gazed, breath-quickened, at his idol.
How magnificent was Billy McMahan, with his great, smooth, laughing face; his grey eye, shrewd as a chicken hawks; his diamond ring, his voice like a bugle call, his princes air, his plump and active roll of money, his clarion call to friend and comradeoh, what a king of men he was! How he obscured his lieutenants, though they themselves loomed large and serious, blue of chin and important of mien, with hands buried deep in the pockets of their short overcoats! But Billyoh, what small avail are words to paint for you his glory as seen by Ikey Snigglefritz!
The Café Maginnis rang to the note of victory. The white-coated bartenders threw themselves feat-fully upon bottle, cork and glass. From a score of clear Havanas the air received its paradox of clouds. The leal and the hopeful shook Billy McMahans hand. And there was born suddenly in the worshipful soul of Ikey Snigglefritz an audacious, thrilling impulse.
He stepped forward into the little cleared space in which majesty moved, and held out his hand.
Billy McMahan grasped it unhesitatingly, shook it and smiled.
Made mad now by the gods who were about to destroy him, Ikey threw away his scabbard and charged upon Olympus.
Have a drink with me, Billy, he said familiarly, you and your friends?
Dont mind if I do, old man, said the great leader, just to keep the ball rolling.
The last spark of Ikeys reason fled.
Wine, he called to the bartender, waving a trembling hand.
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