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PAGE 2

On A Rainy Morning
by [?]

Certainly there is more comedy on the streets on a wet and windy day than there is under a fair sky. Thin folk hold on at corners. Fat folk waddle before the wind, their racing elbows wing and wing. Hats are whisked off and sail down the gutters on excited purposes of their own. It was only this morning that I saw an artistocratic silk hat bobbing along the pavement in familiar company with a stranger bonnet–surely a misalliance, for the bonnet was a shabby one. But in the wind, despite the difference of social station, an instant affinity had been established and an elopement was under way.

Persons with umbrellas clamp them down close upon their heads and proceed blindly like the larger and more reckless crabs that you see in aquariums. Nor can we know until now what spirit for adventure resides in an umbrella. Hitherto it has stood in a Chinese vase beneath the stairs and has seemed a listless creature. But when a November wind is up it is a cousin of the balloon, with an equal zest to explore the wider precincts of the earth and to alight upon the moon. Only persons of heavier ballast–such as have been fed on sweets–plump pancake persons–can hold now an umbrella to the ground. A long stowage of muffins and sugar is the only anchor.

At this moment beneath my window there is a dear little girl who brings home a package from the grocer’s. She is tugged and blown by her umbrella, and at every puff of wind she goes up on tiptoe. If I were writing a fairy tale I would make her the Princess of my plot, and I would transport her underneath her umbrella in this whisking wind to her far adventures, just as Davy sailed off to the land of Goblins inside his grandfather’s clock. She would be carried over seas, until she could sniff the spice winds of the south. Then she would be set down in the orchard of the Golden Prince, who presently would spy her from his window–a mite of a pretty girl, all mussed and blown about. And then I would spin out the tale to its true and happy end, and they would live together ever after. How she labors at the turn, hugging her paper bag and holding her flying skirts against her knees! An umbrella, however, usually turns inside out before it gets you off the pavement, and then it looks like a wrecked Zeppelin. You put it in the first ash-can, and walk off in an attempt not to be conspicuous.

Although the man who pursues his hat is, in some sort, conscious that he plays a comic part, and although there is a pleasing relish on the curb at his discomfort, yet it must not be assumed that all the humor on the street rises from misadventure. Rather, it arises from a general acceptance of the day and a feeling of common partnership in the storm. The policeman in his rubber coat exchanges banter with a cab-driver. If there is a tangle in the traffic, it comes nearer to a jest than on a fairer day. A teamster sitting dry inside his hood, whistles so cheerily that he can be heard at the farther sidewalk. Good-naturedly he sets his tune as a rival to the wind.

It must be that only good-tempered persons are abroad–those whose humor endures and likes the storm–and that when the swift dark clouds drove across the world, all sullen folk scurried for a roof. And is it not wise, now and then, that folk be thus parceled with their kind? Must we wait for Gabriel’s Trump for our division? I have been told–but the story seems incredible–that that seemingly cursed thing, the Customs’ Wharf, was established not so much for our nation’s profit as in acceptance of some such general theory–in a word, that all sour persons might be housed together for their employment and society be rid of them. It is by an extension of this obscure but beneficent division that only those of better nature go abroad on these blustering November days.