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The Brute   By: (1873-1943)

The Brute by Frederic Arnold Kummer

First Page:




Author of "The Green God"

Illustrations by Frank Snapp

New York Grosset & Dunlap Publishers

Copyright, 1912, by W. J. Watt & Company

Published, April




Every evening, almost, Donald Rogers and his wife Edith sat in a plain little living room in their apartment in Harlem, and worked until ten or eleven o'clock. By that time they were both ready to go to bed. It was not very exciting. Edith darned stockings or sewed; Donald toiled at his desk, writing letters going over reports. Sometimes, very rarely, they went to the theater. They had done the same thing for nearly eight years, and to Edith, at least, it seemed a very long time.

The room in which they sat reflected in its furnishings much of the life these two led. It seemed to suggest, in every line, an unceasing conflict between poverty and ambition not, indeed, the poverty of the really poor, of those in actual want, but the poverty of the well born, of those whose desires are forever infinitely beyond their means.

This was evidenced by many curious contrasts. The furniture, for instance, was for the most part of that cheap and gloomy variety known as mission oak, yet the designs were good, as though its purchasers had striven toward some ideal which they had not the means to realize. The rug on the floor, an imitation oriental, was still of excellent coloring; the pictures showed taste in their selection such taste, indeed, as is possible under the limitations imposed by a slender purse among them might have been discovered a charming little water color and some reproductions of etchings by Whistler.

The curtains were imitation lace, the ornaments on the mantel imitation bronze, the cushions in the Morris chair imitation Spanish leather. The keynote of the whole room was imitation everything in it, almost, was the result of refinement and excellent taste on the one hand, hampered by lack of money on the other. The effect was somewhat that given by twenty dollar sets of ermine furs, or ropes of pearls at bargain counter prices. Edith, caring more about such matters than her husband, realized this note of imitation keenly, but found it more satisfactory to have even the shadow of what she really desired than to drop back to another level of existence, and content herself with ingrain carpets, shiny yellow furniture, and the sort of pictures made of mother of pearl, which are given away with tea store coupons. In her present environment, she chafed in the other, she would have been suffocated.

On this particular night in March, they were at home as usual. Donald had composed himself at his desk, hunched over, his head resting upon his left hand, staring at the papers before him. The only sound in the room was the ticking of the trading stamp clock on the mantel, and the clanking of the steam pipes. For a long time Donald stared, and wrote nothing. Suddenly he turned to his wife.

"For Heaven's sake, Edith," he exclaimed impatiently, "what's the matter with those pipes?"

Edith glanced at him, but did not move. She came back slowly from her land of dreams.

"The janitor has probably just turned on the steam. It's been off for the past week on account of the warm weather."

Donald rose, and went nervously over to the radiator under the window.

"I can't write with this infernal noise going on," he grumbled, as he turned to his desk. "Will it be too cold for you?"

"Oh, no. I'm used to it." Mrs. Rogers' tone was patient, resigned.

Donald resumed his writing, and sat for a few moments in silence, but the tone of his wife's remark had not been lost upon him. He turned toward her presently, with an anxious look, searching her face keenly.

"What's the matter, Edith?" he inquired kindly. "Don't you feel well?"

"Not particularly... Continue reading book >>

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