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A Harlem Tragedy
by [?]

Mrs. Cassidy slipped an arm around her chum. “You poor thing!” she said. “But everybody can’t have a husband like Jack. Marriage wouldn’t be no failure if they was all like him. These discontented wives you hear about–what they need is a man to come home and kick their slats in once a week, and then make it up in kisses, and chocolate creams. That’d give ’em some interest in life. What I want is a masterful man that slugs you when he’s jagged and hugs you when he ain’t jagged. Preserve me from the man that ain’t got the sand to do neither!”

Mrs. Fink sighed.

The hallways were suddenly filled with sound. The door flew open at the kick of Mr. Cassidy. His arms were occupied with bundles. Mame flew and hung about his neck. Her sound eye sparkled with the love light that shines in the eye of the Maori maid when she recovers consciousness in the hut of the wooer who has stunned and dragged her there.

“Hello, old girl!” shouted Mr. Cassidy. He shed his bundles and lifted her off her feet in a mighty hug. “I got tickets for Barnum– Bailey’s, and if you’ll bust the string of one of them bundles I guess you’ll find that silk waist–why, good evening, Mrs. Fink–I didn’t see you at first. How’s old Mart coming along?”

“He’s very well, Mr. Cassidy–thanks,” said Mrs. Fink. “I must be going along up now. Mart’ll be home for supper soon. I’ll bring you down that pattern you wanted to-morrow, Mame.”

Mrs. Fink went up to her flat and had a little cry. It was a meaningless cry, the kind of cry that only a woman knows about, a cry from no particular cause, altogether an absurd cry; the most transient and the most hopeless cry in the repertory of grief. Why had Martin never thrashed her? He was as big and strong as Jack Cassidy. Did he not care for her at all? He never quarrelled; he came home and lounged about, silent, glum, idle. He was a fairly good provider, but he ignored the spices of life.

Mrs. Fink’s ship of dreams was becalmed. Her captain ranged between plum duff and his hammock. If only he would shiver his timbers or stamp his foot on the quarter-deck now and then! And she had thought to sail so merrily, touching at ports in the Delectable Isles! But now, to vary the figure, she was ready to throw up the sponge, tired out, without a scratch to show for all those tame rounds with her sparring partner. For one moment she almost hated Mame–Mame, with her cuts and bruises, her salve of presents and kisses; her stormy voyage with her fighting, brutal, loving mate.

Mr. Fink came home at 7. He was permeated with the curse of domesticity. Beyond the portals of his cozy home he cared not to roam, to roam. He was the man who had caught the street car, the anaconda that had swallowed its prey, the tree that lay as it had fallen.

“Like the supper, Mart?” asked Mrs. Fink, who had striven over it.

“M-m-m-yep,” grunted Mr. Fink.

After supper he gathered his newspapers to read. He sat in his stocking feet.

Arise, some new Dante, and sing me the befitting corner of perdition for the man who sitteth in the house in his stockinged feet. Sisters of Patience who by reason of ties or duty have endured it in silk, yarn, cotton, lisle thread or woollen–does not the new canto belong?

The next day was Labor Day. The occupations of Mr. Cassidy and Mr. Fink ceased for one passage of the sun. Labor, triumphant, would parade and otherwise disport itself.

Mrs. Fink took Mrs. Cassidy’s pattern down early. Maine had on her new silk waist. Even her damaged eye managed to emit a holiday gleam. Jack was fruitfully penitent, and there was a hilarious scheme for the day afoot, with parks and picnics and Pilsener in it.

A rising, indignant jealousy seized Mrs. Fink as she returned to her flat above. Oh, happy Mame, with her bruises and her quick-following balm! But was Mame to have a monopoly of happiness? Surely Martin Fink was as good a man as Jack Cassidy. Was his wife to go always unbelabored and uncaressed? A sudden, brilliant, breathless idea came to Mrs.
Fink. She would show Mame that there were husbands as able to use their fists and perhaps to be as tender afterward as any Jack.