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he Fremont House, Kendrick��s hotel was near the Michigan Street Depot. In those days when Chicago had barely 300,000 inhabitants, it was an hotel of the second class. Mr. Kendrick had told me that Ms uncle, a Mr. Cotton really owned the House, but left him the chief share in the management, adding ��What uncle says, goes always.�� In the course of time, I understood the nephew��s loyalty; for Mr. Cotton was really kindly and an able man of business. My duties as night-clerk were simple; from eight at night till six in the morning, I was master in the office and had to apportion bedrooms to the incoming guests and give bills and collect the monies due from the outgoing public. I set myself at once to learn the good and bad points of the hundred odd bedrooms in the house and the arrival and departure times of all the night trains. When guests came in, I met them at the entrance, found out what they wanted and told this or that porter or bell-boy to take them to their rooms. However curt or irritable they were, I always tried to smoothe them down and soon found Michael Kors Handbags I was succeeding. In a week Mr. Kendrick told me that he had heard golden opinions of me from a dozen visitors. ��You have a dandy night-clerk,�� he was told; ��Spares no pains . . . pleasant manners . . . knows everything . . . ��some�� clerk; yes, sir!��
My experience in Chicago assured me that if one does his very best, he comes to success in business in a comparatively short time; so few do all they can. Going to bed at six, I was up every day at 1 o��clock for dinner as it was called and after dinner I got into the habit of going inte the billiard-room at one end of which was a large bar. By five o��clock or so, the billiard-room was crowded and there was no one to superintend things, so I spoke to Mr. Kendrick about it and took the job on my own shoulders. I had little to do but induce newcomers to await their turn patiently and to mollify old customers who expected to find tables waiting for them. The result of a little courtesy and smiling promises was so marked that at the end of the very first month the bookkeeper, a man named Curtis, told me with a grin that I was to get sixty dollars a month and not forty dollars as I had supposed. Needless to say the extra pay simply quickened my desire to make myself useful. But now I found the way up barred by two superiors, the bookkeeper was one and the steward, a dry taciturn Westerner named Payne was the other. Payne bought everything and had control of the dining-room and waiters while Curtis ruled the office and the bell-boys. I was really under Curtis; but my control of the billiard-room gave me a sort of independent position.
I soon made friends with Curtis; got into the habit of dining with him and when he found that my handwriting was very good, he gave me the day-book to keep and in a couple of months had taught me bookkeeping while entrusting me with a good deal of it. He was not lazy; but most men of forty like to have a capable assistant. By Christmas that year I was keeping all the books except the ledger and I knew, as I thought, the whole business of the hotel.
The dining room, it seemed to me was very badly managed; but as luck would have it, I was first to get control of the office. As soon as Curtis found out that I could safely be trusted to do his work, he began going out at dinner time and often stayed away the whole day. About New Year he was away for five days and confided in me when he returned, that he had been on a ��bust��. He wasn��t nappy with his wife, it appeared, and he used to drink to drown her temper. In February he was away for ten days; but as he had given me the key of the safe I kept everything going. One day Kendrick found me in the office working and wanted to know about Curtis: ��how long had he been away! v ��A day or two,�� I replied. Kendrick looked at me and asked for the ledger: ��it��s written right up!�� he exclaimed, ��did you do it!�� I had to say I did; but at once I sent a bellboy for Curtis. The boy didn��t Michael Kors outlet clearance find him at his house and next day I was brought up before Mr. Cotton. I couldn��t deny that I had kept the books and Cotton soon saw that I was shielding Curtis out of loyalty. When Curtis came in next day, he gave the whole show away; he was half-drunk still and rude to boot. He had been unwell, he said; but his work was in order. He was ��fired�� there and then by Mr. Cotton and that evening Kendrick asked me to keep things going properly till he could persuade his uncle that I was trustworthy and older than I looked.
In a couple of days I saw Mr. Cotton and Mr. Kendrick together. ��Can you keep the books and be night-clerk and take care of the billiard-room?�� Mr.
Cotton asked me sharply. ��I think so�� I replied, ��I��ll do my best.�� ��Hm!�� he grunted: ��what pay do you think you ought to have!�� ��I��ll leave that to you sir,�� I said, ��I shall be satisfied whatever you give me.�� ��The devil you will,�� he said grumpily, ��suppose I said, keep on at your present rate?�� I smiled; ��O. K. Sir.��
��Why do you smile?�� he asked. ��Because, sir, pay like water tends to find its level!�� ��What the devil d��ye mean by its level?�� ��The level,�� I went on, ��is surely the market price; sooner or later it��ll rise towards that and I can wait.�� His keen grey eyes suddenly bored into me. ��I begin to think you��re much older, than you look, as my nephew here tells me,�� he said. ��Put yourself down at a hundred a month for the present and in a little while we��ll perhaps find the ��level,���� and he smiled. I thanked him and went out to my work.
It seemed as if incidents were destined to crowd my life. A day or so after this the taciturn steward, Payne, came and asked me if I��d go out with him to dinner and some theatre or other? I had not had a day off in five or six months so I said ��Yes.�� He gave me a great dinner at a famous French restaurant (I forget the name now) and wanted me to drink champagne. But I had already made up my mind not to touch any intoxicating liquor till I was twenty one and so I told him simply that I had taken the pledge. He beat about the bush a great deal, but at length said that as I was bookkeeper in place of Curtis, he hoped we should get along as he and Curtis had done. I asked him just what he meant but he wouldn��t speak plainly which excited my suspicions. A day michael kors handbags or two afterwards I got into talk with a butcher in another quarter of the town and asked him what he would supply seventy pounds of beef and fifty pounds of mutton for, daily for a hotel; he gave me a price so much below the price Payne was paying that my suspicions were confirmed. I was tremendously excited. In my turn I invited Payne to dinner and led up to the subject. At once he said ��of course there��s a ��rake-off�� and if you��ll hold in with me, I��ll give you a third as I gave Curtis. The rake-off don��t hurt anyone,�� he went on, ��for I buy below market-price.�� Of course I was all ears and eager interest when he admitted that the ��rake-off�� was on everything he bought and amounted to about 20 per cent. of the cost. By this he changed his wages from two hundred dollars a month into something like two hundred dollars a week.
As soon as I had all the facts clear, I asked the nephew to dine with me and laid the situation before him. I had only one loyalty �� to my employers and the good of the ship. To my astonishment he seemed displeased at first; ��more trouble,�� he began, ��why can��t you stick to your own job and leave the others alone? What��s in a commission after all?�� When he came to understand what the commission amounted to and that he himself could do the buying in half an hour a day, he altered his tone. ��What will my uncle say now?�� he cried and went off to tell the owner his story. There was a tremendous row two days later for Mr. Cotton was a business man and went to the butcher we dealt with and ascertained for himself how important the ��rake-off�� really was. When I was called into the uncle��s room Payne tried to hit me; but he found it was easier to receive than to give punches and that ��the damned kid�� was not a bit afraid of him.
Curiously enough, I soon noticed that the ��rake-off�� had had the secondary result of giving us an infer-ior quality of meat; whenever the butcher was left with a roast he could not sell, he used to send it to us confident that Payne wouldn��t quarrel about it. The negro cook declared that the meat now was far better; all that could be desired in fact, and our customers too were not slow to show their appreciation.
One other change the discharge of Payne brought about; it made me master of the dining room. I soon picked a smart waiter and put him as chief over the rest and together cheap Michael Kors we soon improved the waiting and discipline among the waiters out of all comparison. For over a year I worked eighteen hours out of the twenty four and after the first six months or so, I got one hundred and fifty dollars a month and saved practically all of it.
Some experience in this long, icy-cold winter in Chicago enlarged my knowledge of American life and particularly of life on the lowest level. I had been about three months in the hotel when I went out one evening for a sharp walk, as I usually did, about seven o��clock. It was bitterly cold, a western gale raked the streets with icy teeth, the thermometer was about ten below zero. I had never imagined anything like the cold. Suddenly I was accosted by a stranger, a small man with red moustache and stubbly unshaven beard:
��Say, mate, can you help a man to a mean�� The fellow was evidently a tramp: his clothes shabby and dirty: his manner servile with a backing of truculence. I was kindly and not critical. Without a thought, I took my roll of bills out of my pocket. I meant to take off a dollar bill. As the money came to view the tramp with a pounce grabbed at it, but caught my hand as well. Instinctively I held on to my roll like grim Death, but while I was still under the shock of surprise the hobo hit me viciously in the face and plucked at the bills again. I hung on all the tighter, and angry now, struck the man in the face with my left fist. The next moment we had clenched and fallen. As luck and youth would have it, I fell on top. At once I put out all my strength, struck the fellow hard in the face and at the same time tore my bills away. The next moment I was on my feet with my roll deep in my pocket and both fists ready for the next assault. To my astonishment the hobo picked himself up and said confidingly:
��I��m hungry, weak, or you wouldn��t have downed me so easy.�� And then he went on with what to me seemed incredible impudence:
��You should peel me off a dollar at least for hittin�� me like that,�� and he stroked his jaw as if to ease the pain.
��I��ve a good mind to give you in charge,�� said I, suddenly realizing that I had the law on my side.
��If you don��t cash up,�� barked the hobo, ��I��ll call the cops and say you��ve grabbed my wad.��
��Call away,�� I cried: ��we��ll see who��ll be believed.��
But the hobo knew a better trick. In a familiar wheedling voice he michael kors crossbody bag began again:
��Come, young fellow, you��ll never miss one dollar and I��ll put you wise to a good many things here in Chicago. You had no business to pull out a wad like that in a lonely place to tempt a hungry man . . . .��
��I was going to help you,�� I said hesitatingly.
��I know,�� replied my weird acquaintance, ��but I prefer to help myself,�� and he grinned. ��Take me to a hash-house: I��m hungry and I��ll put you wise to many things; you��re a tenderfoot and show it.��
Clearly the hobo was the master of the situation and somehow or other his whole attitude stirred my curiosity.
��Where are we to gof�� I asked. ��I don��t know any restaurant near here except the Fremont House.��
��Hell,�� cried the hobo, ��only millionaires and fools go to hotels. I follow my nose for grub,�� and he turned on his heel and led the way without another word down a side street and into a German dive set out with bare wooden tables and sanded floor.
Here he ordered hash and I, hot coffee and when I came to pay I was agreeably surprised to find that the bill was only forty cents and we could talk in our corner undisturbed as long as we liked.
In ten minutes�� chat the hobo had upset all my preconceived ideas and given me a host of new and interesting thoughts. He was a man of some reading if not of education and the violence of his language attracted me almost as much as the novelty of his point of view.
All rich men were thieves, all workmen, sheep and fools, was his creed. The workmen did the work, created the wealth, and the employers robbed them of nine-tenths of the product of their labor and so got rich. It all seemed simple. The tramp never meant to work; he lived by begging and went wherever he wanted to go.
��But how do you get about?�� I cried.
��Here in the middle west,�� he replied, ��I steal rides in freight cars and box-cars and on top of coal wagons, but in the real west and south I get inside the cars and ride, and when the conductor turns me off I wait for the next train. Life is full of happenings �� some of ��em painful,�� he added, thoughtfully rubbing his jaw again.
He appeared to be a tough little man whose one object in life it was to avoid work and in spite of himself, he worked hard in order to do nothing.
The experience had a warning, quickening effect on me. I resolved to save all I could.
When I stood up to go the hobo grinned amicably:
��I guess I��ve earned that dollar?�� I could discount Michael Kors purses not help laughing. ��I guess you have,�� I replied, but took care to turn aside as I stripped off the bill.
��So long,�� said the tramp as we parted at the door and that was all the thanks I ever got.
Another experience of this time told a sadder story. One evening a girl spoke to me; she was fairly well-dressed and as we came under a gas-lamp I saw she was good looking with a tinge of nervous anxiety in her face.
��I don��t buy love,�� I warned her: ��but how much do you generally get?�� ��From one dollar to five,�� she replied; ��but tonight I want as much as I can get.��
��I��ll give you five,�� I replied; ��but you must tell me all I want to know.��
��All right,�� she said eagerly, ��I��ll tell all I know: it��s not much,�� she added bitterly; ��I��m not twenty yet; but you��d have taken me for more, now wouldn��t you?�� ��No,�� I replied, ��you look about eighteen: in a few minutes we were climbing the stairs of a tenement house. The girl��s room was poorly furnished and narrow, a hall bedroom just the width of the corridor, perhaps six feet by eight. As soon as she had taken off her thick cloak and hat, she hastened out of the room saying she��d be back in a minute. In the silence, I thought I heard her running up the stairs; a baby somewhere near cried; and then silence again, till she opened the door, drew my head to her and kissed me:
��I like you,�� she said, ��though you��re funny��
��Why funny?�� I asked.
��It��s a scream,�� she said, ��to give five dollars to a girl and never touch her: but I��m glad for I was tired tonight and anxious.��
��Why anxious?�� I queried, ��and why did you go out if you were tired 1�� ��Got to,�� she replied through tightly closed lips. ��You don��t mind if I leave you again for a moment?�� she added and before I could answer she was out of the room again. When she returned in five minutes I had grown impatient and put on my overcoat and hat.
��Goinf�� she asked in surprise:
��Yes��, I replied, ��I don��t like this empty cage while you go off to someone else.��
��Someone else�� she repeated and then as if desperate: ��it��s my baby if you must know: a friend takes care of her when I��m out or working.��
��Oh, you poor thing,�� I cried, ��fancy you with a baby at this life!��
��I wanted a baby��, she cried defiantly. ��I wouldn��t be without her for anything! I always wanted a baby: there��s lots of girls like that.��
��Really!” I cried astounded.
��Do you know her father?” I went on.
��Of course I do,�� she Michael Kors handbags retorted. ��He��s working in the stock yards; but he��s tough and won��t keep sober.��
��I suppose you��d marry him if he would go straight?�� I asked.
��Any girl would marry a decent feller!�� she replied.
��You��re pretty,�� I said.
��D��ye think so?�� she asked eagerly pushing her hair back from the sides of her head. ��I used to be but now �� this life �� �� and she shrugged her shoulders expressively.
��You don��t like it!�� I asked.
��No,�� she cried; ��though when you get a nice feller, it��s not so bad; but they��re scarce,�� she went on bitterly, ��and generally when they��re nice, they��ve no bucks. The nice fellers are all poor or old,�� she added reflectively.
I had had the best part of her wisdom, so I stripped off a five dollar bill and gave it to her. ��Thanks,�� she said, ��you��re a dear and if you want to come an�� see me any time, just come an�� I��ll try to give you a good time.�� �� Away I went. I had had my first talk with a prostitute and in her room! The idea that a girl could want a baby was altogether new to me: her temptations very different from a boy��s, very!
For the greater part of my first year in Chicago I had no taste of love: I was often tempted by this chambermaid or that; but I knew I should lose prestige if I yielded and I simply put it all out of my head resolvedly as I had abjured drink. But towards the beginning of the summer temptation came to me in a new guise. A Spanish family, named Vidal, stopped at the Fremont House.
Senor Vidal was like a French officer, middle height, trim figure, very dark with grey moustache waving up at the ends. His wife, motherly but stout, with large dark eyes and small features; a cousin, a man of about thirty, rather tall with a small black moustache, like a tooth brush, I thought, and sharp imperious ways. At first I did not notice the girl who was talking to her Indian maid. I understood at once that the Vidals were rich and gave them the best rooms: ��all communicating �� except yours,�� I added, turning to the young man: ��it is on the other side of the corridor, but large and quiet.�� A shrug and contemptuous nod was all I got for my pains from Senor Arriga. As I handed the keys to the bellboy, the girl threw back her black mantilla.
��Any letters for usl�� she asked quietly. For a minute I stood dumbfounded, enthralled, then ��I��ll see,�� I muttered and went to the rack, but only to give myself a countenance �� I knew there were michael kors bags none.
��None, I��m sorry to say,�� I smiled watching the girl as she moved away.
��What��s the matter with me?�� I said to myself angrily. ��She��s nothing wonderful, this Miss Vidal; pretty, yes, and dark with fine dark eyes, but nothing extraordinary.�� But it would not do; I was shaken in a new way and would not admit it even to myself. In fact the shock was so great that my head took sides against heart and temperament at once as if alarmed. ��All Spaniards are dank,�� I said to myself, trying to depreciate the girl and so regain self-control; ��besides her nose is beaked a little.�� But there was no conviction in my criticizm. As soon as I recalled the proud grace of carriage and the magic of her glance, the fever-fit shook me again: for the first time my heart had been touched.
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