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A Harlem Tragedy
by [?]

Harlem.

Mrs. Fink had dropped into Mrs. Cassidy’s flat one flight below.

“Ain’t it a beaut?” said Mrs. Cassidy.

She turned her face proudly for her friend Mrs. Fink to see. One eye was nearly closed, with a great, greenish-purple bruise around it. Her lip was cut and bleeding a little and there were red finger- marks on each side of her neck.

“My husband wouldn’t ever think of doing that to me,” said Mrs. Fink, concealing her envy.

“I wouldn’t have a man,” declared Mrs. Cassidy, “that didn’t beat me up at least once a week. Shows he thinks something of you. Say! but that last dose Jack gave me wasn’t no homeopathic one. I can see stars yet. But he’ll be the sweetest man in town for the rest of the week to make up for it. This eye is good for theater tickets and a silk shirt waist at the very least.”

“I should hope,” said Mrs. Fink, assuming complacency, “that Mr. Fink is too much of a gentleman ever to raise his hand against me.”

“Oh, go on, Maggie!” said Mrs. Cassidy, laughing and applying witch hazel, “you’re only jealous. Your old man is too frapped and slow to ever give you a punch. He just sits down and practises physical culture with a newspaper when he comes home–now ain’t that the truth?”

“Mr. Fink certainly peruses of the papers when he comes home,” acknowledged Mrs. Fink, with a toss of her head; “but he certainly don’t ever make no Steve O’Donnell out of me just to amuse himself– that’s a sure thing.”

Mrs. Cassidy laughed the contented laugh of the guarded and happy matron. With the air of Cornelia exhibiting her jewels, she drew down the collar of her kimono and revealed another treasured bruise, maroon-colored, edged with olive and orange–a bruise now nearly well, but still to memory dear.

Mrs. Fink capitulated. The formal light in her eye softened to envious admiration. She and Mrs. Cassidy had been chums in the downtown paper-box factory before they had married, one year before. Now she and her man occupied the flat above Mame and her man. Therefore she could not put on airs with Mame.

“Don’t it hurt when he soaks you?” asked Mrs. Fink, curiously.

“Hurt!”–Mrs. Cassidy gave a soprano scream of delight. “Well, say– did you ever have a brick house fall on you?–well, that’s just the way it feels–just like when they’re digging you out of the ruins. Jack’s got a left that spells two matinees and a new pair of Oxfords–and his right!–well, it takes a trip to Coney and six pairs of openwork, silk lisle threads to make that good.”

“But what does he beat you for?” inquired Mrs. Fink, with wide-open eyes.

“Silly!” said Mrs. Cassidy, indulgently. “Why, because he’s full. It’s generally on Saturday nights.”

“But what cause do you give him?” persisted the seeker after knowledge.

“Why, didn’t I marry him? Jack comes in tanked up; and I’m here, ain’t I? Who else has he got a right to beat? I’d just like to catch him once beating anybody else! Sometimes it’s because supper ain’t ready; and sometimes it’s because it is. Jack ain’t particular about causes. He just lushes till he remembers he’s married, and then he makes for home and does me up. Saturday nights I just move the furniture with sharp corners out of the way, so I won’t cut my head when he gets his work in. He’s got a left swing that jars you! Sometimes I take the count in the first round; but when I feel like having a good time during the week or want some new rags I come up again for more punishment. That’s what I done last night. Jack knows I’ve been wanting a black silk waist for a month, and I didn’t think just one black eye would bring it. Tell you what, Mag, I’ll bet you the ice cream he brings it to-night.”

Mrs. Fink was thinking deeply.

“My Mart, “she said, “never hit me a lick in his life. It’s just like you said, Mame; he comes in grouchy and ain’t got a word to say. He never takes me out anywhere. He’s a chair-warmer at home for fair. He buys me things, but he looks so glum about it that I never appreciate ’em.”