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Elsie In New York
by [?]

“Dear me,” said Elsie, bewildered. “I didn’t know there was rum in brandy balls. But I must live by some means. What shall I do?”

“Decline the position,” said the lady, “and come with me. I will tell you what to do.”

After Elsie had told the confectioner that she had changed her mind about the cashiership she put on her coat and followed the lady to the sidewalk, where awaited an elegant victoria.

“Seek some other work,” said the black-and-steel lady, “and assist in crushing the hydra-headed demon rum.” And she got into the victoria and drove away.

“I guess that puts it up to Mr. Otter again,” said Elsie, ruefully, turning down the street. “And I’m sorry, too, for I’d much rather make my way without help.”

Near Fourteenth street Elsie saw a placard tacked on the side of a doorway that read: “Fifty girls, neat sewers, wanted immediately on theatrical costumes. Good pay.”

She was about to enter, when a solemn man, dressed all in black, laid his hand on her arm.

“My dear girl,” he said, “I entreat you not to enter that dressing- room of the devil.”

“Goodness me!” exclaimed Elsie, with some impatience. “The devil seems to have a cinch on all the business in New York. What’s wrong about the place?”

“It is here,” said the solemn man, “that the regalia of Satan–in other words, the costumes worn on the stage–are manufactured. The stage is the road to ruin and destruction. Would you imperil your soul by lending the work of your hands to its support? Do you know, my dear girl, what the theatre leads to? Do you know where actors and actresses go after the curtain of the playhouse has fallen upon them for the last time?”

“Sure,” said Elsie. “Into vaudeville. But do you think it would be wicked for me to make a little money to live on by sewing? I must get something to do pretty soon.”

“The flesh-pots of Egypt,” exclaimed the reverend gentleman, uplifting his hands. “I beseech you, my child, to turn away from this place of sin and iniquity.”

“But what will I do for a living?” asked Elsie. “I don’t care to sew for this musical comedy, if it’s as rank as you say it is; but I’ve got to have a job.”

“The Lord will provide,” said the solemn man. “There is a free Bible class every Sunday afternoon in the basement of the cigar store next to the church. Peace be with you. Amen. Farewell.”

Elsie went on her way. She was soon in the downtown district where factories abound. On a large brick building was a gilt sign, “Posey- Trimmer, Artificial Flowers.” Below it was hung a newly stretched canvas hearing the words, “Five hundred girls wanted to learn trade. Good wages from the start. Apply one flight up.”

Elsie started toward the door, near which were gathered in groups some twenty or thirty girls. One big girl with a black straw hat tipped down over her eyes stepped in front of her.

“Say, you’se,” said the girl, “are you’se goin’ in there after a job?”

“Yes,” said Elsie; “I must have work.”

“Now don’t do it,” said the girl. “I’m chairman of our Scab Committee. There’s 400 of us girls locked out just because we demanded 50 cents a week raise in wages, and ice water, and for the foreman to shave off his mustache. You’re too nice a looking girl to be a scab. Wouldn’t you please help us along by trying to find a job somewhere else, or would you’se rather have your face pushed in?”

“I’ll try somewhere else,” said Elsie.

She walked aimlessly eastward on Broadway, and there her heart leaped to see the sign, “Fox-Otter,” stretching entirely across the front of a tall building. It was as though an unseen guide had led her to it through the by-ways of her fruitless search for work.

She hurried into the store and sent in to Mr. Otter by a clerk her name and the letter he had written her father. She was shown directly into his private office.

Mr. Otter arose from his desk as Elsie entered and took both hands with a hearty smile of welcome. He was a slightly corpulent man of nearly middle age, a little bald, gold spectacled, polite, well dressed, radiating.