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A Ramble In Aphasia
by [?]

“It seems to me you are not altogether uncynical, Mr. Bolder,” I said, after I had read the despatch. “This has the sound, to me, of a genuine case. Why should this man, prosperous, happily married, and respected, choose suddenly to abandon everything? I know that these lapses of memory do occur, and that men do find themselves adrift without a name, a history or a home.”

“Oh, gammon and jalap!” said Mr. Bolder. “It’s larks they’re after. There’s too much education nowadays. Men know about aphasia, and they use it for an excuse. The women are wise, too. When it’s all over they look you in the eye, as scientific as you please, and say: ‘He hypnotized me.'”

Thus Mr. Bolder diverted, but did not aid, me with his comments and philosophy.

We arrived in New York about ten at night. I rode in a cab to a hotel, and I wrote my name “Edward Pinkhammer” in the register. As I did so I felt pervade me a splendid, wild, intoxicating buoyancy–a sense of unlimited freedom, of newly attained possibilities. I was just born into the world. The old fetters– whatever they had been–were stricken from my hands and feet. The future lay before me a clear road such as an infant enters, and I could set out upon it equipped with a man’s learning and experience.

I thought the hotel clerk looked at me five seconds too long. I had no baggage.

“The Druggists’ Convention,” I said. “My trunk has somehow failed to arrive.” I drew out a roll of money.

“Ah!” said he, showing an auriferous tooth, “we have quite a number of the Western delegates stopping here.” He struck a bell for the boy.

I endeavored to give color to my r^ole.

“There is an important movement on foot among us Westerners,” I said, “in regard to a recommendation to the convention that the bottles containing the tartrate of antimoney and potash, and the tartrate of sodium and potash be kept in a contiguous position on the shelf.”

“Gentleman to three-fourteen,” said the clerk, hastily. I was whisked away to my room.

The next day I bought a trunk and clothing, and began to live the life of Edward Pinkhammer. I did not tax my brain with endeavors to solve problems of the past.

It was a piquant and sparkling cup that the great island city held up to my lips. I drank of it gratefully. The keys of Manhattan belong to him who is able to bear them. You must be either the city’s guest or its victim.

The following few days were as gold and silver. Edward Pinkhammer, yet counting back to his birth by hours only, knew the rare joy of having come upon so diverting a world full-fledged and unrestrained. I sat entranced on the magic carpets provided in theatres and roof-gardens, that transported one into strange and delightful lands full of frolicsome music, pretty girls and grotesque drolly extravagant parodies upon human kind. I went here and there at my own dear will, bound by no limits of space, time or comportment. I dined in weird cabarets, at weirder tables d’h^ote to the sound of Hungarian music and the wild shouts of mercurial artists and sculptors. Or, again, where the night life quivers in the electric glare like a kinetoscopic picture, and the millinery of the world, and its jewels, and the ones whom they adorn, and the men who make all three possible are met for good cheer and the spectacular effect. And among all these scenes that I have mentioned I learned one thing that I never knew before. And that is that the key to liberty is not in the hands of License, but Convention holds it. Comity has a toll-gate at which you must pay, or you may not enter the land of Freedom. In all the glitter, the seeming disorder, the parade, the abandon, I saw this law, unobtrusive, yet like iron, prevail. Therefore, in Manhattan you must obey these unwritten laws, and then you will be freest of the free. If you decline to be bound by them, you put on shackles.