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The Etiquette Of Yetta
by [?]

“Stands a girl by our block,” Eva Gonorowsky began, as she and her friend Yetta Aaronsohn wended their homeward way through the crowded purlieus of Gouverneur and Monroe Streets, “stands a girl by our block what don’t never goes on the school.”

Yetta was obediently shocked. She had but recently been rescued from a like benightment, but both she and her friend tactfully ignored this fact.

“Don’t the Truant Officer gets her?” the convert questioned, remembering her own means to grace, and the long struggle she had made against it. “Don’t the Truant Officer comes on her house und says cheek on her mamma, und brings her–by the hair, maybe–on the school?”

“He don’t comes yet,” Eva replied.

“Well, he’s comin’,” Yetta predicted. “He comes all times.”

“I guess,” commented Eva, “I guess Rosie Rashnowsky needs somebody shall make somethings like that mit her. In all my world I ain’t never see how she makes. She don’t know what is polite. She puts her on mit funny clothes und ‘fer-ladies-shoes.’ She is awful fresh, und”–here Eva dropped her voice to a tone proper to a climax–“she dances on organs even.”

Now Yetta Aaronsohn, in the days before the Truant Officer and the Renaissance, would have run breathless blocks at the distant lure of a street organ, and would have footed it merrily up and down the sidewalk in all the apparently spontaneous intricacies which make this kind of dancing so absorbing to the performer, and so charming to the audience. Now, however, she shuddered under the shock of such depravity. School had taught her many things not laid down in the official course of study.

“Ain’t that fierce?” she murmured.

Not all subjects of gossip are as confirmative as Rosie Rashnowsky that day proved herself to be. For as Yetta and Eva turned into Clinton Street, Rosie was discovered dancing madly to the strains of a one-legged hurdy-gurdy, in the midst of an envious but not emulating crowd.

“That’s her,” said Eva briefly. “Sooner you stands on the stoop you shall see her better.”

And when the two friends carried out this suggestion and mounted the nearest steps, Eva pointed to what seemed a bundle of inanimate rags.

“It’s her baby,” she disapprovingly remarked. “She lays it all times on steps. Somebody could to set on it sometimes.”

“It’s fierce,” repeated Yetta, this time with more conviction. She was herself the guardian of three small and ailing sisters, and she knew that they should not be deposited on cold doorsteps. So she picked up Rosie’s abandoned responsibility, and turned to survey that conscienceless Salome.

Rosie was, as a dancer should be, startlingly arrayed. Her long black-stockinged little legs ended in “fer-ladies-shoes” described by Eva. Her hair bobbed wildly in four tight little braids, each tied with a ribbon or a strip of cloth of a different color, and the rest of her visible attire consisted of a dirty kimona dressing-jacket, red with yellow flowers, and outlined with bands of green. The “fer-ladies-shoes” poised and pointed and twinkled in time to the wheezing of the one-legged hurdy-gurdy. The parti-colored braids waved free. The kimona flapped and fluttered and permitted indiscreet glimpses of a less gorgeous substructure.

Miss Gonorowsky regarded these excesses with a cold and disapproving eye. “She don’t know what is fer her,” she remarked. “My mamma, she wouldn’t to leave me dance by no organs. It ain’t fer ladies.”

“It’s fierce,” agreed Miss Aaronsohn, with a gulp, “it’s something fierce.”

The hurdy-gurdy coughed its way to the end of one tune, held its breath for an asthmatic moment, and then wailed into “The Sidewalks of New York.” Fresh and amazing energy possessed the hair ribbons, the kimona, and the “fer-ladies-shoes.” Fresh disdain possessed Miss Gonorowsky. The tune would have seemed also to work havoc upon the new propriety of Miss Aaronsohn.

“It’s something fierce,” she once more remarked, and then casting decorum to the winds, and the abandoned young Rashnowsky to Miss Gonorowsky’s care, she sped down the steps, through the crowd and out into the ring.