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The Consequences
by [?]

Henry Eastman, a lawyer, aged forty, was standing beside the Flatiron building in a driving November rainstorm, signaling frantically for a taxi. It was six-thirty, and everything on wheels was engaged. The streets were in confusion about him, the sky was in turmoil above him, and the Flatiron building, which seemed about to blow down, threw water like a mill-shoot. Suddenly, out of the brutal struggle of men and cars and machines and people tilting at each other with umbrellas, a quiet, well-mannered limousine paused before him, at the curb, and an agreeable, ruddy countenance confronted him through the open window of the car.

“Don’t you want me to pick you up, Mr. Eastman? I’m running directly home now.”

Eastman recognized Kier Cavenaugh, a young man of pleasure, who lived in the house on Central Park South, where he himself had an apartment.

“Don’t I?” he exclaimed, bolting into the car. “I’ll risk getting your cushions wet without compunction. I came up in a taxi, but I didn’t hold it. Bad economy. I thought I saw your car down on Fourteenth Street about half an hour ago.”

The owner of the car smiled. He had a pleasant, round face and round eyes, and a fringe of smooth, yellow hair showed under the rim of his soft felt hat. “With a lot of little broilers fluttering into it? You did. I know some girls who work in the cheap shops down there. I happened to be down-town and I stopped and took a load of them home. I do sometimes. Saves their poor little clothes, you know. Their shoes are never any good.”

Eastman looked at his rescuer. “Aren’t they notoriously afraid of cars and smooth young men?” he inquired.

Cavenaugh shook his head. “They know which cars are safe and which are chancy. They put each other wise. You have to take a bunch at a time, of course. The Italian girls can never come along; their men shoot. The girls understand, all right; but their fathers don’t. One gets to see queer places, sometimes, taking them home.”

Eastman laughed drily. “Every time I touch the circle of your acquaintance, Cavenaugh, it’s a little wider. You must know New York pretty well by this time.”

“Yes, but I’m on my good behavior below Twenty-third Street,” the young man replied with simplicity. “My little friends down there would give me a good character. They’re wise little girls. They have grand ways with each other, a romantic code of loyalty. You can find a good many of the lost virtues among them.”

The car was standing still in a traffic block at Fortieth Street, when Cavenaugh suddenly drew his face away from the window and touched Eastman’s arm. “Look, please. You see that hansom with the bony gray horse–driver has a broken hat and red flannel around his throat. Can you see who is inside?”

Eastman peered out. The hansom was just cutting across the line, and the driver was making a great fuss about it, bobbing his head and waving his whip. He jerked his dripping old horse into Fortieth Street and clattered off past the Public Library grounds toward Sixth Avenue. “No, I couldn’t see the passenger. Someone you know?”

“Could you see whether there was a passenger?” Cavenaugh asked.

“Why, yes. A man, I think. I saw his elbow on the apron. No driver ever behaves like that unless he has a passenger.”

“Yes, I may have been mistaken,” Cavenaugh murmured absent-mindedly. Ten minutes or so later, after Cavenaugh’s car had turned off Fifth Avenue into Fifty-eighth Street, Eastman exclaimed, “There’s your same cabby, and his cart’s empty. He’s headed for a drink now, I suppose.” The driver in the broken hat and the red flannel neck cloth was still brandishing the whip over his old gray. He was coming from the west now, and turned down Sixth Avenue, under the elevated.

Cavenaugh’s car stopped at the bachelor apartment house between Sixth and Seventh Avenues where he and Eastman lived, and they went up in the elevator together. They were still talking when the lift stopped at Cavenaugh’s floor, and Eastman stepped out with him and walked down the hall, finishing his sentence while Cavenaugh found his latch-key. When he opened the door, a wave of fresh cigarette smoke greeted them. Cavenaugh stopped short and stared into his hallway. “Now how in the devil–!” he exclaimed angrily.