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The Brass Bowl   By: (1879-1933)

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In the dull hot dusk of a summer's day a green touring car, swinging out of the East Drive, pulled up smartly, trembling, at the edge of the Fifty ninth Street car tracks, then more sedately, under the dispassionate but watchful eye of a mounted member of the Traffic Squad, lurched across the Plaza and merged itself in the press of vehicles south bound on the Avenue.

Its tonneau held four young men, all more or less disguised in dust, dusters and goggles; forward, by the side of the grimy and anxious eyed mechanic, sat a fifth, in all visible respects the counterpart of his companions. Beneath his mask, and by this I do not mean his goggles, but the mask of modern manner which the worldly wear, he was, and is, different.

He was Daniel Maitland, Esquire; for whom no further introduction should be required, after mention of the fact that he was, and remains, the identical gentleman of means and position in the social and financial worlds, whose somewhat sober but sincere and whole hearted participation in the wildest of conceivable escapades had earned him the affectionate regard of the younger set, together with the sobriquet of "Mad Maitland."

His companions of the day, the four in the tonneau, were in that humor of subdued yet vibrant excitement which is apt to attend the conclusion of a long, hard drive over country roads. Maitland, on the other hand, (judging him by his preoccupied pose), was already weary of, if not bored by, the hare brained enterprise which, initiated on the spur of an idle moment and directly due to a thoughtless remark of his own, had brought him a hundred miles (or so) through the heat of a broiling afternoon, accompanied by spirits as ardent and irresponsible as his own, in search of the dubious distraction afforded by the night side of the city.

As, picking its way with elephantine nicety, the motor car progressed down the Avenue twilight deepening, arcs upon their bronze columns blossoming suddenly, noiselessly into spheres of opalescent radiance Mr. Maitland ceased to respond, ceased even to give heed, to the running fire of chaff (largely personal) which amused his companions. Listlessly engaged with a cigarette, he lounged upon the green leather cushions, half closing his eyes, and heartily wished himself free for the evening.

But he stood committed to the humor of the majority, and lacked entirely the shadow of an excuse to desert; in addition to which he was altogether too lazy for the exertion of manufacturing a lie of serviceable texture. And so he abandoned himself to his fate, even though he foresaw with weariful particularity the programme of the coming hours.

To begin with, thirty minutes were to be devoted to a bath and dressing in his rooms. This was something not so unpleasant to contemplate. It was the afterwards that repelled him: the dinner at Sherry's, the subsequent tour of roof gardens, the late supper at a club, and then, prolonged far into the small hours, the session around some green covered table in a close room reeking with the fumes of good tobacco and hot with the fever of gambling....

Abstractedly Maitland frowned, tersely summing up: "Beastly!" in an undertone.

At this the green car wheeled abruptly round a corner below Thirty fourth Street, slid half a block or more east, and came to a palpitating halt. Maitland, looking up, recognized the entrance to his apartments, and sighed with relief for the brief respite from boredom that was to be his. He rose, negligently shaking off his duster, and stepped down to the sidewalk.

Somebody in the car called a warning after him, and turning for a moment he stood at attention, an eyebrow raised quizzically, cigarette drooping from a corner of his mouth, hat pushed back from his forehead, hands in coat pockets: a tall, slender, sparely built figure of a man, clothed immaculately in flannels... Continue reading book >>

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