ONCE upon a time there was erected in Longacre Square a large, white statue, labeled “Our City.” It was the figure of a woman in Grecian robes, holding aloft a shield. Critical citizens objected to it for various reasons; but its real fault was that its symbolism was faulty. The sculptor should have represented New York as a conjurer in evening dress, smiling blandly as he changed a rabbit into a bowl of goldfish. For that, above all else, is New York’s specialty. It changes.
Between May the first, when Mary Hill stepped off the train, and May the sixteenth, when she received Eddy Moore’s letter containing the information that he had found her a post as stenographer in the office of Peter Rendal, New York had changed her quite remarkably.
Mary was from Dunsterville, which is in Southern Illinois. Emigrations from Dunsterville were rare. As a rule, the youth of that somnolent town followed in its father’s footsteps, working on the paternal farm or helping in the paternal store. Only two of the younger generation, Peter Rendal and Eddy Moore, had set out to make their fortunes in New York; and both, despite the gloomy prophecies of the village sages, had prospered. Exactly what they were doing, Dunsterville, hazy as to methods of modern finance, could not have told you; but it was known that they were doing well “down there.”
Mary, the third and last emigrant, did not aspire to such heights. All she demanded from New York for the present was that it should pay her a living wage, and to that end, having studied typewriting and shorthand by stealth, she had taken the plunge, thrilling with excitement and the romance of things. New York had looked at her, raised its eyebrows and looked away again. If every city has a voice, New York’s at that moment had said, “Huh!” This had damped Mary. She saw that there were going to be obstacles. For one thing, she had depended so greatly on Eddy Moore, and he had failed her. Three years before, at a church festival, he had stated specifically that he would die for her. Perhaps he was still willing to do that—she had not inquired; but at any rate he did not see his way to employing her as a stenographer. He had been very nice about it. He had smiled kindly, taken her address, and said he would do what he could, and had then hurried off to meet a man at lunch. But he had not given her a position. And as the days went by, she found no employment, her little stock of money dwindled and no word came from Eddy. New York got to work and changed her outlook on things wonderfully. What had seemed romantic, became merely frightening. What had been exciting, gave her a feeling of dazed helplessness.
But it was not until Eddy’s letter came that she realized the completeness of the change. On May the first, she would have thanked Eddy politely for his trouble, adding, however, that she would really prefer not to meet poor Peter again. On May the sixteenth, she welcomed him as something heaven-sent. The fact that she was to be employed outweighed a thousandfold the fact that her employer was to be Peter.
It was not that she disliked Peter. She was sorry for him. She was a kind-hearted girl, and she did not wish to pain him by coming into his life again. Poor Peter! She remembered him a silent, shambling youth, all hands, feet and shyness, who had spent most of his spare time twisting his fingers and staring adoringly at her from afar. The opinion of those in the social whirl of Dunsterville had been that it was his hopeless passion for her that had made him fly to New York. She trusted not, but she could not help feeling that it might well be true. It would be embarrassing to meet him again, to come in constant contact with him. It would require tact to discourage his silent worshiping, without wounding him more deeply. She hated hurting people. But even at the cost of that, she must accept the post. Things had reached too grave a crisis. To refuse meant ignominious retreat to Dunsterville, and from that her pride revolted. She must revisit Dunsterville in triumph or not at all.
PETER RENDAL’S office was in Nassau Street, situated about half-way up a building that to Mary, reared amidst the less impressive architecture of her home town, seemed to reach nearly to the sky. A proud looking office boy, apparently baffled and mortified by the information that she had an appointment, took her name, and she sat down, filled with a mixed assortment of emotions, to wait.
For the first time since her arrival in New York, she felt almost easy in her mind. New York, with its shoving, jostling, hurrying crowds—a giant fowl-run, full of human fowls scurrying to and fro, ever on the lookout for some desired morsel, and ever ready to swoop down and snatch it from its temporary possessor—had numbed her. But now she felt a slackening of the strain. New York might be too much for her; but she could cope with Peter.
The haughty boy returned. Mr. Rendal was disengaged. She rose and went into an inner room, where a big man was seated at a desk. It was Peter. There was no doubt about that. But it was not the Peter she remembered, he of the twisted fingers and silent stare. In his case, too, New York had conjured effectively. He was better looking, better dressed, improved in every respect. In the old days, you first noticed the hands and feet and deduced the presence of Peter somewhere in the background. Now they were merely adjuncts. It was with a rush of indignation that Mary found herself feeling bucolic and awkward. Awkward with Peter! It was an outrage!
His manner heightened the feeling. If he had given the least sign of embarrassment, she might have softened towards him. He showed no embarrassment whatever. He was very much at his ease. He was cheerful. He was even flippant.
“Welcome to our beautiful little city,” he said. Mary was filled with a helpless anger. What right had he to ignore the past in this way, to behave as if her presence had never reduced him to pulp?
“Won’t you sit down?” he went on. “Great, seeing you again, Mary. You’re looking very well. How long have you been in New York? Eddy tells me you want to start in as a stenographer. As it happens, there is a vacancy for just that in this office—a big, wide vacancy left by a lady who departed yesterday in a shower of burning words and hairpins. She said she would never return, and between ourselves, that was the right guess. Would you mind letting me see what you can do? Will you take this letter down?”
Certainly there was something compelling about this new Peter. Mary told herself that she hated him, but she took the pencil and pad which he offered. And she took them meekly. Until this moment, she had always been astonished by the reports which filtered through to Dunsterville of his success in the city. Of course nobody had ever doubted his perseverance; but it takes something more than perseverance to fight New York fairly and squarely and win. And Peter had that something. He had force. He was sure of himself.
“Read it, please,” he said, when he had finished dictating. “Yes, that’s all right. You can start right in.”
For a moment Mary was on the point of refusing. A mad desire gripped her to assert herself, to make plain her resentment at this revolt of the serf. Then she thought of those scuttling, clucking crowds, and her heart failed her.
“Thank you,” she said in a small voice.
As she spoke, the door opened.
“Well, well, well!” said Peter. “Here we all are! Come in, Eddy. Mary has just been showing me what she can do.”
If time had done much for Peter, it had done more for his fellow emigrant, Eddy Moore. He had always been good looking, and according to local standards, presentable. Tall, slim, with dark eyes that made you catch your breath when they looked into yours, and a ready flow of speech (so ready, indeed, that jealous insurgents had been apt to allude to him as “Gabby Ed”), he had been Dunsterville’s prize exhibit. And here he was with all his excellence heightened and accentuated by the polish of the city. He had filled out. His clothes were wonderful. And his voice, when he spoke, had just that same musical quality.
“So you and Peter have fixed it up? Capital! Shall we all go and lunch somewhere?”
“Got a date,” said Peter, “I’m late already. Be here at two sharp, Mary.” He took up his hat and went out.
The effect of Eddy’s suavity had been to make Mary forget the relation in which she now stood to Peter. Eddy had created for the moment quite an old-time atmosphere of good fellowship. She hated Peter for shattering this and reminding her that she was his employee. Her quick flush was not lost on Eddy.
“Dear old Peter is a little abrupt sometimes,” he said, “but he’s all right if you know just how to take him.”
“He’s a pig,” said Mary definitely.
“But you musn’t mind it. City life makes men that way.”
“It hasn’t made you so. Not to me at any rate. Oh, Eddy,” she cried impulsively, “I’m scared. I wish I had never come here. You’re the only thing in this whole city that isn’t hateful.”
“Poor little girl,” he said. “Never mind. Let me take you and give you some lunch. Come along.”
Eddy was soothing. There was no doubt of that. He stayed her with minced chicken and comforted her with soft shelled crab. His voice was a lullaby, lulling her Peter-harassed nerves to rest.
They discussed the dear old days. A carper might have said that Eddy was the least bit vague on the subject of the dear old days. A carper might have pointed out that the discussion of the dear old days, when you came to analyze it, was practically a monologue on Mary’s part, punctuated with a musical “Yes” now and then from her companion. But who cares what carpers think, anyway? Mary herself had no fault to find. In the roar of New York, Dunsterville had suddenly become very dear to her, and she found in Eddy a sympathetic soul to whom she could open her heart.
“Do you remember the old school, Eddy, and how you and I used to walk there together, you carrying my dinner basket and helping me over the fences?”
“And we’d gather hickory nuts and persimmons?”
“Persimmons, yes,” murmured Eddy.
“Do you remember the prizes the teacher gave the one who got the best marks in the spelling class? And the treats at Christmas, when we all got twelve sticks of striped peppermint candy? And drawing the water out of the well in that old, wooden bucket in the winter, and pouring it out in the playground and skating on it, when it froze? And wasn’t it cold in the winter, too? Do you remember the stove in the schoolroom? How we used to crowd round it!”
“The stove, yes,” said Eddy dreamily. “Ah yes, the stove. Yes, yes.”
Mary leaned her elbows on the table and her chin on her hands, and looked across at him with sparkling eyes.
“Oh, Eddy,” she said, “you don’t know how nice it is to meet some one who remembers all about those old times! I felt a hundred million miles from Dunsterville before I saw you, and I was homesick. But now it’s all different.”
“Poor little Mary!”
“Do you remember——?”
He glanced at his watch with some haste.
“It’s two o’clock,” he said. “I think we should be going.”
Mary’s face fell.
“Back to that pig Peter! I hate him. And I’ll show him that I do!”
Eddy looked almost alarmed.
“I—I shouldn’t do that,” he said. “I don’t think I should do that. It’s only his manner at first. You’ll get to like him better. He’s a bully good fellow, Peter. And if, you—er—quarreled with him—you might find it hard—what I mean is, it’s not so easy to pick up jobs in New York. I should hate to think of you, Mary,” he added tenderly, “hunting around for a job—tired—perhaps hungry!”
Mary’s eyes filled with tears.
“How good you are, Eddy!” she said. “And I’m grumbling when I ought to be thanking you for getting me the place. I’ll be nice to him—if I can—as nice as I can.”
“That’s right. Do try. And we shall be seeing quite a lot of each other. We must lunch together often.”
Mary reentered the office, not without some trepidation. Two hours ago it would have seemed absurd to be frightened by Peter; but Eddy had brought it home to her again, how completely she was dependent on her former serf’s good will. And he had told her to be back at two sharp, and it was now nearly a quarter after!
The outer office was empty. She went on into the inner room. She had speculated, as she went, on Peter’s probable attitude. She had pictured him as annoyed, even rude. What she was not prepared for was to find him on all fours, grunting and rooting about in a pile of papers.
She stopped short.
“What are you doing?” she gasped.
He rose to his feet and dusted his knees.
“I can’t think what you meant,” he said. “There must be some mistake. I’m not even a passable pig. I couldn’t deceive a novice.”
“Yet you seemed absolutely certain in the restaurant just now. Did you notice that you were sitting near to a sort of everglade of potted palms? I was lunching immediately on the other side of the jungle.”
Mary drew herself up and fixed him with an eye that shone with rage and scorn.
“Eavesdropper!” she cried.
“Not guilty,” he said cheerfully. “I hadn’t a notion that you were there till you shouted, ‘That pig Peter! I hate him!’ and almost directly afterwards I left.”
“I did not shout.”
“My dear girl, you cracked a wine glass at my table. The man I was lunching with jumped clear out of his seat and swallowed his cigar. You ought to be more careful!”
Mary bit her lip.
“And now, I suppose, you are going to dismiss me?”
“Dismiss you? Not on your life. The thing has simply confirmed my high opinion of your qualification. The ideal stenographer must have two qualities: she must be able to stenog. and she must think her employer a pig. You fill the bill. Would you mind taking down this letter?”
LIFE was very swift and stimulating for Mary during the early days of her professional career. The inner workings of a busy broker’s office are always interesting to the stranger. She had never understood how business men made their money, and she did not understand now; but it did not take her long to see that if they were all like Peter Rendal, they earned it. There were days of comparative calm. There were days that were busy. And there were days that packed into the space of a few hours the concentrated essence of a vaudeville knockabout sketch, an earthquake, a Kentucky election and the rush hour on the subway. These were days when the office was full of shouting men; when strange figures dived in and out and banged doors like characters in an old farce, and Harold, the proud, English office boy, lost his air of being on the point of lunching with a duke at the club, and perspired like one of the proletariat. On these occasions you had to admire Peter, even if you hated him. When a man is doing his own job well, it is impossible not to admire him. And Peter did his job superlatively well. He was everywhere. Where others trotted, he sprang. Where others raised their voices, he yelled. Where others were in two places at once, he was in three and moving towards a fourth.
These upheavals had the effect on Mary of making her feel curiously linked to the firm. On ordinary days work was work; but on these occasions of storm and stress it was a fight, and she looked on every member of the little band grouped under the banner of P. Rendal as a brother-in-arms. For Peter, while the battle raged, she would have done anything. Her resentment at being under his orders vanished completely. He was her captain, and she a mere unit in the firing line. It was a privilege to do what she was told. And if the order came sharp and abrupt, that only meant that the fighting was fierce and that she was all the more fortunate in being in a position to be of service.
The reaction would come with the end of the fight. Her private hostilities began when the firm’s ceased. She became an ordinary individual again, and so did Peter. And to Peter, as an ordinary individual, she objected. There was an indefinable something in his manner which jarred on her. She came to the conclusion that it was principally his insufferable good humor. If only he would lose his temper with her now and then, she felt he would be bearable. He lost it with others. Why not with her? Because, she told herself bitterly, he wanted to show her that she mattered so little to him that it was not worth while quarreling with her; because he wanted to put her in the wrong, to be superior. She had a perfect right to hate a man who treated her in that way.
She compared him, to his disadvantage, with Eddy. Eddy, during these days, continued to be more and more of a comfort. It rather surprised her that he found so much time to devote to her. When she had first called on him, on her arrival in the city, he had given her the impression—more, she admitted, by his manner than his words—that she was not wanted. He had shown no disposition to seek her company. But now he seemed always to be on hand. To take her out to lunch appeared to be his chief hobby.
One afternoon Peter commented on it, with that air of suppressing an indulgent smile which Mary found so trying.
“I saw you and Eddy at Stephano’s just now,” he said, between sentences of a letter which he was dictating. “You’re seeing quite a good deal of Eddy these days, aren’t you?”
“Yes,” said Mary. “He’s very kind. He knows I’m lonely.” She paused. “He hasn’t forgotten the old days,” she said defiantly.
“Good old Eddy” he said.
There was nothing in the words to make Mary fire up, but much in the way they were spoken, and she fired up accordingly.
“What do you mean?” she cried.
“Mean?” queried Peter.
“You’re hinting at something. If you have anything to say against Eddy, why don’t you say it straight out?’’
“It’s a good working rule in life never to say anything straight out. Speaking in parables, I will observe that, if America was a monarchy instead of a republic and we all had titles, Eddy would be a cinch for first Earl of Pearl Street.”
Dignity fought with curiosity in Mary for a moment. The latter won.
“I don’t know what you mean. Why Pearl Street?”
“Go and have a look at it.”
Dignity recovered its ground. Mary tossed her head.
“We are wasting a great deal of time,” she said coldly. “Shall I take down the rest of this letter?”
“A bully good idea,” said Peter indulgently.
A PATROLMAN, brooding on Life in the neighborhood of City Hall Park and Broadway that evening, awoke with a start from his meditations to find himself being addressed by a young lady. The young lady had large, gray eyes and a slim figure. She appealed to the esthetic taste of the patrolman.
“Hold to me, lady,” he said with gallant alacrity. “I’ll see yez acrost.”
“Thank you, I don’t want to cross,” she said. “Officer!”
The patrolman rather liked being called “officer.”
“Ma’am?” he beamed.
“Officer, do you know a street called Pearl Street?”
“I do that, ma’am.”
She hesitated. “What sort of street is it?”
The patrolman searched in his mind for a neat definition.
“Damned crooked, miss,” he said.
He then begged the lady’s pardon. But the lady had gone.
It was a bomb in a blue dress that Peter found waiting for him at the office next morning. He surveyed it in silence; then raised his hands above his head.
“Don’t shoot,” he said. “What’s the matter?”
“What right had you to say that about Eddy? You know what I mean. About Pearl Street.”
Peter laughed, which made the girl angrier than ever.
“Did you take a look at Pearl Street?”
Mary’s anger blazed out.
“I didn’t think you could be so mean and cowardly,” she cried. “You ought to be ashamed to talk about people behind their backs, when—when—— Besides, if he’s what you say, how did it happen that you engaged me on his recommendation?”
He looked at her for an instant without replying. “I’d have engaged you,” he said, “on the recommendation of a syndicate of confidence men and street-car jostlers.”
He stood, fingering a pile of papers on the desk. There was a silence.
“Eddy isn’t the only person who remembers the old days, Mary,” he said slowly.
She looked at him, surprised. There was a note in his voice that she had not heard before. She was conscious of a curious embarrassment and a subtler feeling which she could not analyze. But before she could speak, Harold, the office boy, entered the room with a card, and the conversation was swept away on a tidal wave of work.
Peter made no attempt to resume it. That morning happened to be one of the earthquake, subway-rush-hour mornings, and conversation, what there was of it, consisted of brief, strenuous remarks of a purely business nature. But at intervals during the day, Mary found herself returning to his words. Their effect on her mind puzzled her. It seemed to her that somehow they had caused things to alter their perspective. In some way, Peter had become more human. She still refused to believe that Eddy was not all that was chivalrous and noble; but her anger against Peter for his insinuations had given way to a feeling of regret that he should have made them. She ceased to look on him as something wantonly malevolent, a Thersites recklessly slandering his betters. She felt that there must have been a misunderstanding somewhere and was sorry for it.
Thinking it over, she made up her mind that it was for her to remove this misunderstanding. The days which followed strengthened the decision, for the improvement in Peter was steadily maintained. The indefinable something in his manner which had so irritated her had vanished. It had been, when it had existed, so nebulous that words were not needed to eliminate it. Indeed, even now she could not say exactly in what it had consisted. She only knew that the atmosphere had changed. Without a word spoken on either side, it seemed that peace had been established between them, and it amazed her what a difference it made. She was soothed and happy, and kindly disposed to all men. Every day she felt more strongly the necessity of convincing Peter and Eddy of each other’s merits, or rather, of convincing Peter, for Eddy, she admitted, always spoke most generously of the other.
For a week Eddy did not appear at the office. On the eighth day, however, he called her up on the telephone and invited her to lunch. Later in the morning Peter happened to invite her to lunch.
“I’m so sorry,” said Mary. “I’ve just promised Eddy. He wants me to meet him at Stephano’s. But——” she hesitated. “Why shouldn’t we all lunch together?” she went on impulsively.
She hurried on. This was her opening; but she felt nervous. The subject of Eddy had not come up between them since that memorable conversation a week before, and she was uncertain of her ground.
“I wish you liked Eddy, Peter,” she said. “He’s very fond of you, and it seems such a shame that—I mean, we’re all from the old town, and—oh, I know I put it badly, but——”
“I think you put it mighty well,” said Peter, “and if I could like a man to order, I’d do it to oblige you. But—well, I’m not going to keep harping on it. Maybe you’ll see through Eddy yourself one of these days.”
A sense of the hopelessness of her task oppressed Mary. She put on her hat without replying, and turned to go. At the door some impulse caused her to glance back, and as she did so, she met his eye, and stood, staring. He was looking at her as she had so often seen him look three years before in Dunsterville—humbly, appealingly, hungrily.
He took a step forward. A sort of panic seized her. Her fingers were on the door handle. She turned it, and the next moment was outside. She walked slowly down the street, completely shaken. She had believed so thoroughly that his love for her had vanished with his shyness and awkwardness, in the struggle for success in New York. His words, his manner, everything had pointed to that. And now, it was as if those three years had not been. Nothing had altered, unless it were—herself. Had she altered? Her mind was in a whirl. This thing had affected her like some physical shock. The crowds and noises of Nassau Street bewildered her. If only she could get away from them and think quietly . . .
And then she heard her name spoken, and looking round, saw Eddy.
“Glad you could come,” he said. “I’ve something I want to talk to you about. It’ll be quiet at Stephano’s.”
She noticed, almost unconsciously, that he seemed nervous. He was unwontedly silent, and she was glad of it. It helped her to think. He gave the waiter an order, and became silent again, drumming with his fingers on the cloth. He hardly spoke till the meal was over and the coffee was on the table. Then he leaned forward.
“Mary,” he said, “we’ve always been pretty good friends, haven’t we?”
His dark eyes were looking into hers. There was an expression in them that was strange to her. He smiled, but it seemed to Mary that there was effort behind the smile.
“Of course we have, Eddy,” she said. He touched her hand.
“Dear little Mary,” he said softly, then paused for a moment.
“Mary,” he went on, “would you like to do me a good turn? You would, wouldn’t you, Mary?”
“Why, Eddy, of course!”
He touched her hand again. This time, somehow, the action grated on her. Before, it had seemed impulsive, a mere spontaneous evidence of friendship. Now, there was a suggestion of artificiality, of calculation. She drew back a little in her chair. Deep down in her, some watchful instinct had sounded an alarm. She was on guard. He drew a quick breath.
“It’s nothing much. Nothing at all. It’s only this. I—I—Peter will be writing a letter to a man called Weston on Thursday—Thursday, remember. There won’t be anything in it—nothing of any importance—nothing private; but I—I want you to mail me a copy of it, Mary. A—a copy of——”
She was looking at him, open-eyed. Her face was white and shocked.
“For goodness’ sake,” he said irritably, “don’t look like that! I’m not asking you to commit murder. What’s the matter with you? See here, Mary, you’ll admit you owe me something, I guess. I’m the only man in New York that’s ever done anything for you. Didn’t I get you your job, when you were pretty nearly down and out? Well then! It’s not as if I were asking you to do anything dangerous or difficult, or——”
She tried to speak, but could not. He went on rapidly. He did not look at her. His eyes wandered past her, shifting restlessly.
“See here,” he said, “I’ll be square with you. You’re in New York to make money. Well, you aren’t going to make it hammering a typewriter. I’m giving you your chance. I’m going to be square with you. Let me see that letter, and——”
His voice stopped abruptly. The expression of his face changed. He smiled, and this time the effort was obvious.
“Hello, Peter!” he said.
Mary turned. Peter was standing at her side. He looked very large and wholesome and restful.
“I don’t want to butt in,” he said, “but I wanted to see you, Eddy, and I guessed I could catch you here. I wrote a letter to Jack Weston yesterday after I got home from the office, and one to you; but somehow I managed to mail them in the wrong envelopes. It doesn’t matter much, because they both said the same thing.”
“The same thing!”
“Yes. I told you I should be writing to you again on Thursday, to slip you something good that I was expecting from old Longwood. Jack Weston has just called me up on the ’phone to say that he received a letter that doesn’t belong to him. I explained to him and thought I’d drop in here and explain to you. Why, what’s your hurry, Eddy?”
Eddy had risen from his seat.
“I’m due back at the office,” he said hoarsely.
“Busy man! I’m having a slack day. Well, good-by. I’ll see Mary back.”
Peter seated himself in the vacant chair.
“You’re looking tired,” he said. “Did Eddy talk too much?”
“Yes, he did. Peter, you were right.”
“Ah, Mary,” Peter chuckled, “I’ll tell you something I didn’t tell Eddy. It wasn’t entirely through carelessness that I mailed those letters in the wrong envelopes. In fact, to be absolutely frank, it wasn’t through carelessness at all. There’s an old gentleman in Pittsburg, by the name of John Longwood, who occasionally is good enough to inform me of some of his intended doings on the market a day or so before the rest of the world knows them, and Eddy has always shown a strong desire to get early information, too. Do you remember my telling you that your predecessor at the office left a little abruptly? There was a reason. I engaged her as a confidential secretary and she overdid it. She confided in Eddy. From the look on your face, as I came in, I gathered that he had just been proposing that you should perform a similar act of Christian charity. Had he?”
Mary clenched her hands.
“It’s this awful city,” she cried. “Eddy was never like that in Dunsterville.’’
“Dunsterville does not offer quite the same scope,” said Peter.
“New York changes everything. It has changed Eddy. It has changed you.”
He bent towards her and lowered his voice.
“Not altogether,” he said. “I’m just the same in one way. I’ve tried to make a bluff at being different; but it’s no use. I quit. I’m still just the same poor, mushy fool who used to hang around you in Dunsterville——”
A waiter was approaching the table with the air which waiters cultivate, of just happening by chance to be going in that direction. Peter leaned further forward, speaking quickly.
“And for whom,” he said, “you didn’t care a single, solitary snap of your fingers, Mary.”
She looked up at him. The waiter hovered, poising for his swoop. Suddenly she smiled.
“New York has changed me, too, Peter,” she said.
“Mary!” he cried.
“Ze sheck, sare,” observed the waiter.
“Ze what?” he exclaimed. “Well, what do you know about that? He’s gone off and left me to pay for his lunch! Eddy wins! I hand it to him!”
This version of the story, reprinted here for the first time in a century as far as we know, differs slightly from the more familiar version in the Strand magazine, reprinted in The Man Upstairs. Most obviously, Peter Rendal in this version is Joe Rendal in the British version, and Dunsterville is set in Illinois here rather than in Canada. But the American version has several sentences and phrases that are not present in the British text, and a few piquant word choices in this version (e.g. American “everglade” vs. British “jungle,” and “Kentucky election” vs. “football scrummage”) make it seem more likely that Wodehouse’s original text must have been closer to the American magazine version, even though it appeared in print a year later. The last paragraph contains the only significant phrases which are present only in the British version.
Longacre Square: This neighborhood at the intersection of Broadway and Seventh Avenue was renamed Times Square in 1904, when the New York Times moved to a new building on the square. The temporary white plaster statue, variously titled “Virtue” or “Purity,” bore the legend “Our City” upon her shield; it was erected in October 1909 by a civic association and demolished less than two months later. It isn’t clear why Wodehouse used the older name for the location.
Thersites: A Greek soldier in the Trojan War in Book II of Homer’s Iliad, who vulgarly abuses Agamemnon as the Greek army is being rallied
Pittsburg: The traditional and current spelling of the Pennsylvania city is “Pittsburgh,” but the simplified spelling here was official for two decades. In 1891, the United States Board on Geographic Names published regulations for nomenclature that included dropping the ‘h’ from all “-burgh” place names. Public pressure on the Board to restore the older name was finally successful in 1911, but the confusion persisted for some years, and Wodehouse seems to have continued in succeeding years to use the shorter version as it stood when he first came to America.