The Street stretched away north and south in two lines of ancient houses
that seemed to meet in the distance. The man found it infinitely inviting.
It had the well-worn look of an old coat, shabby but comfortable. The
thought of coming there to live pleased him. Surely here would be
peace--long evenings in which to read, quiet nights in which to sleep and
forget. It was an impression of home, really, that it gave. The man did
not know that, or care particularly. He had been wandering about a
long time--not in years, for he was less than thirty. But it seemed a very
At the little house no one had seemed to think about references. He could
have given one or two, of a sort. He had gone to considerable trouble to
get them; and now, not to have them asked for-There was a house across and a little way down the Street, with a card in
the window that said: "Meals, twenty-five cents." Evidently the midday meal
was over; men who looked like clerks and small shopkeepers were hurrying
away. The Nottingham curtains were pinned back, and just inside the window
a throaty barytone was singing: "Home is the hunter, home from the hill:
And the sailor, home from sea."
Across the Street, the man smiled grimly--Home!
For perhaps an hour Joe Drummond had been wandering up and down the Street.
His straw hat was set on the back of his head, for the evening was warm;
his slender shoulders, squared and resolute at eight, by nine had taken on
a disconsolate droop. Under a street lamp he consulted his watch, but even
without that he knew what the hour was. Prayer meeting at the corner church
was over; boys of his own age were ranging themselves along the curb,
waiting for the girl of the moment. When she came, a youth would appear
miraculously beside her, and the world-old pairing off would have taken
The Street emptied. The boy wiped the warm band of his hat and slapped it
on his head again. She was always treating him like this--keeping him
hanging about, and then coming out, perfectly calm and certain that he
would still be waiting. By George, he'd fool her, for once: he'd go away,
and let her worry. She WOULD worry. She hated to hurt anyone. Ah!
Across the Street, under an old ailanthus tree, was the house he watched, a
small brick, with shallow wooden steps and--curious architecture of Middle
West sixties--a wooden cellar door beside the steps.
In some curious way it preserved an air of distinction among its more
pretentious neighbors, much as a very old lady may now and then lend tone
to a smart gathering. On either side of it, the taller houses had an
appearance of protection rather than of patronage. It was a matter of
self-respect, perhaps. No windows on the Street were so spotlessly
curtained, no doormat so accurately placed, no "yard" in the rear so tidy
with morning-glory vines over the whitewashed fence.