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PAGE 3

The Taste Of The Meat
by [?]

“You bet I have–only I never got it. I’m earning five hundred a week right now, and doing four men’s work.”

“Pictures that won’t sell? Or–er–fancy work of some sort? Can you swim?”

“I used to.”

“Sit a horse?”

“I have essayed that adventure.”

John Bellew snorted his disgust.

“I’m glad your father didn’t live to see you in all the glory of your gracelessness,” he said. “Your father was a man, every inch of him. Do you get it? A Man. I think he’d have whaled all this musical and artistic tomfoolery out of you.”

“Alas! these degenerate days,” Kit sighed.

“I could understand it, and tolerate it,” the other went on savagely, “if you succeeded at it. You’ve never earned a cent in your life, nor done a tap of man’s work.”

“Etchings, and pictures, and fans,” Kit contributed unsoothingly.

“You’re a dabbler and a failure. What pictures have you painted? Dinky water-colours and nightmare posters. You’ve never had one exhibited, even here in San Francisco-“

“Ah, you forget. There is one in the jinks room of this very club.”

“A gross cartoon. Music? Your dear fool of a mother spent hundreds on lessons. You’ve dabbled and failed. You’ve never even earned a five-dollar piece by accompanying some one at a concert. Your songs?–rag-time rot that’s never printed and that’s sung only by a pack of fake Bohemians.”

“I had a book published once–those sonnets, you remember,” Kit interposed meekly.

“What did it cost you?”

“Only a couple of hundred.”

“Any other achievements?”

“I had a forest play acted at the summer jinks.”

“What did you get for it?”

“Glory.”

“And you used to swim, and you have essayed to sit a horse!” John Bellew set his glass down with unnecessary violence. “What earthly good are you anyway? You were well put up, yet even at university you didn’t play football. You didn’t row. You didn’t-“

“I boxed and fenced–some.”

“When did you last box?”

“Not since; but I was considered an excellent judge of time and distance, only I was–er-“

“Go on.”

“Considered desultory.”

“Lazy, you mean.”

“I always imagined it was an euphemism.”

“My father, sir, your grandfather, old Isaac Bellew, killed a man with a blow of his fist when he was sixty-nine years old.”

“The man?”

“No, your–you graceless scamp! But you’ll never kill a mosquito at sixty-nine.”

“The times have changed, oh, my avuncular. They send men to state prisons for homicide now.”

“Your father rode one hundred and eighty-five miles, without sleeping, and killed three horses.”

“Had he lived to-day, he’d have snored over the course in a Pullman.”

The older man was on the verge of choking with wrath, but swallowed it down and managed to articulate:

“How old are you?”

“I have reason to believe-“

“I know. Twenty-seven. You finished college at twenty-two. You’ve dabbled and played and frilled for five years. Before God and man, of what use are you? When I was your age I had one suit of underclothes. I was riding with the cattle in Colusa. I was hard as rocks, and I could sleep on a rock. I lived on jerked beef and bear-meat. I am a better man physically right now than you are. You weigh about one hundred and sixty-five. I can throw you right now, or thrash you with my fists.”

“It doesn’t take a physical prodigy to mop up cocktails or pink tea,” Kit murmured deprecatingly. “Don’t you see, my avuncular, the times have changed. Besides, I wasn’t brought up right. My dear fool of a mother-“

John Bellew started angrily.

“-As you described her, was too good to me; kept me in cotton wool and all the rest. Now, if when I was a youngster I had taken some of those intensely masculine vacations you go in for–I wonder why you didn’t invite me sometimes? You took Hal and Robbie all over the Sierras and on that Mexico trip.”