**** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE ****

Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!


The Unprofitable Servant
by [?]

“Smoke up!” said Mac McGowan.

“Genius,” repeated the Master–“you’ve got a talent for genius. Your brains are in your feet, where a dancer’s ought to be. You’ve been self-taught until you’re almost ruined, but not quite. What you need is a trainer. I’ll take you in hand and put you at the top of the profession. There’s room there for the two of us. You may beat me,” said the Master, casting upon him a cold, savage look combining so much rivalry, affection, justice, and human hate that it stamped him at once as one of the little great ones of the earth–“you may beat me; but I doubt it. I’ve got the start and the pull. But at the top is where you belong. Your name, you say, is Robinson?”

“McGowan,” repeated the amateur, “Mac McGowan.”

“It don’t matter,” said Delano. “Suppose you walk up to my hotel with me. I’d like to talk to you. Your footwork is the worst I ever saw, Madigan–but–well, I’d like to talk to you. You may not think so, but I’m not so stuck up. I came off of the West Side myself. That overcoat cost me eight hundred dollars; but the collar ain’t so high but what I can see over it. I taught myself to dance, and I put in most of nine years at it before I shook a foot in public. But I had genius. I didn’t go too far wrong in teaching myself as you’ve done. You’ve got the rottenest method and style of anybody I ever saw.”

“Oh, I don’t think much of the few little steps I take,” said Mac, with hypocritical lightness.

“Don’t talk like a package of self-raising buckwheat flour,” said Del Delano. “You’ve had a talent handed to you by the Proposition Higher Up; and it’s up to you to do the proper thing with it. I’d like to have you go up to my hotel for a talk, if you will.”

In his rooms in the King Clovis Hotel, Del Delano put on a scarlet house coat bordered with gold braid and set out Apollinaris and a box of sweet crackers.

Mac’s eye wandered.

“Forget it,” said Del. “Drink and tobacco may be all right for a man who makes his living with his hands; but they won’t do if you’re depending on your head or your feet. If one end of you gets tangled, so does the other. That’s why beer and cigarettes don’t hurt piano players and picture painters. But you’ve got to cut ’em out if you want to do mental or pedal work. Now, have a cracker, and then we’ll talk some.”

“All right,” said Mac. “I take it as an honor, of course, for you to notice my hopping around. Of course I’d like to do something in a professional line. Of course I can sing a little and do card tricks and Irish and German comedy stuff, and of course I’m not so bad on the trapeze and comic bicycle stunts and Hebrew monologues and—-“

“One moment,” interrupted Del Delano, “before we begin. I said you couldn’t dance. Well, that wasn’t quite right. You’ve only got two or three bad tricks in your method. You’re handy with your feet, and you belong at the top, where I am. I’ll put you there. I’ve got six weeks continuous in New York; and in four I can shape up your style till the booking agents will fight one another to get you. And I’ll do it, too. I’m of, from, and for the West Side. ‘Del Delano’ looks good on bill-boards, but the family name’s Crowley. Now, Mackintosh–McGowan, I mean–you’ve got your chance–fifty times a better one than I had.”

“I’d be a shine to turn it down,” said Mac. “And I hope you understand I appreciate it. Me and my cousin Cliff McGowan was thinking of getting a try-out at Creary’s on amateur night a month from to-morrow.”