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On Spending A Holiday
by [?]

At a party lately a worn subject came under discussion.

Our host lives in a triangular stone-paved courtyard tucked off from the thoroughfare but with the rattle of the elevated railway close at hand. The building is of decent brick, three stories in height, and it exhibits to the courtyard a row of identical doorsteps. The entrance to the courtyard is a swinging shutter between buildings facing on the street, and it might seem a mystery–like the apple in the dumpling–how the building inside squeezed through so narrow an entrance. Yet here it is, with a rubber plant in one corner and a trellis for imaginary vines in the other.

In this courtyard, Pomander Walk might be acted along the stoops. For a necessary stage property–you recall, of course, the lamplighter with his ladder in the second act!–there is a gas lamp of old design in the middle of the enclosure, up near the footlights, as it were. From the stoops the main comedy might proceed, with certain business at the upper windows–the profane Admiral with the timber leg popping his head out of one, the mysterious fat man–in some sort the villain of the piece–putting his head out of another to woo the buxom widow at a third. And then the muffin man! In the twilight when the lamp is lighted and the heroine at last is in the hero’s arms, there would be a pleasant crunching of muffins at all the windows as the curtain falls.

But I shall not drop even a hint as to the location of this courtyard. Many persons think that New York City is but a massive gridiron, and they are ignorant of the nooks and quirks and angles of the lower town. Enough that the Indian of a modest tobacconist guards the swinging shutter of the entrance to the courtyard.

Here we sat in the very window I had designed for the profane Admiral, and talked in the quiet interval between trains.

One of our company–a man whom I shall call Flint–was hardy enough to say that he never employed his leisure in going to the country–that a walk about the city streets was his best refreshment. Flint’s livelihood is cotton. He is a dumpish sort of person who looks as if he needed exercise, but he has a sharp clear eye. At first his remark fell on us as a mere perversity, as of one who proclaims a humorous whim. And yet he adhered tenaciously to his opinion, urging smooth pavements against mud, the study of countless faces against the song of birds and great buildings against cliffs.

Another of our company opposed him in this–Colum, who chafes as an accountant. Colum is a gentle dreamy fellow who likes birds. All winter he saves his tobacco tins which, in his two weeks’ vacation in the country, he sets up in trees as birdhouses. He confesses that he took up with a certain brand of tobacco because its receptacle is popular with wrens. Also he cultivated a taste for waffles–which at first by a sad distortion of nature he lacked–for no other reason except that syrup may be bought in pretty log-cabin tins particularly suited for bluebirds. If you chance to breakfast with him, he urges the syrup on you with pleasant and insistent hospitality. With satisfaction he drains a can. By June he has a dozen of these empty cabins on the shelf alongside his country boots. Time was when he was lean of girth–as becomes an accountant, who is hinged dyspeptically all day across his desk–but by this agreeable stowage he has now grown to plumpness. When in the country Colum rises early in order to stretch the pleasures of the day, and he walks about before breakfast from tree to tree to view his feathered tenants. He has even acquired, after much practice, the knack of chirping–a hissing conjunction of the lips and teeth–which he is confident wins the friendly attention of the birds.