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قراءة كتاب Vistas of New York

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‏اللغة: English
Vistas of New York

Vistas of New York

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
الصفحة رقم: 3

getting on all right there, and I see how I can make myself useful already. I haven’t been living in Auburnvale all these years with my eyes shut, and I’ve got an idea or two that I’m going to turn to account. No, it’s just the city itself that’s so tiring. It’s the tramp, tramp, tramp of the people all the time, day and night, never stopping. And they are all so busy always. They go tearing through the streets with their faces set, just as if they didn’t know anybody. And sometimes their mouths are working, as if they were thinking aloud. They don’t waste any time; they are everlastingly doing something. For instance, I’ve an hour’s nooning; and I go out and get my dinner in a little eating-house near the rear of our store—ten cents for a plate of roast beef; pretty thin the cut is, but the flavor is all right. Well, they read papers while they are having their dinner. They read papers in the cars coming down in the morning, and they read papers in the cars going up at night. They don’t seem to take any rest. Sometimes I don’t believe they sleep nights. And if they do, I don’t see how they can help walking in their sleep.

I couldn’t sleep myself first off, but I’m getting to now. It was the pressure of the place, the bigness of it, and the roar all round me. I’d wake up with a start, and, tired as I was, sometimes I wouldn’t get to sleep again for half an hour.

I’ve given up the place I boarded when I first come and I’ve got a room all to myself in a side street just off Fourth Avenue, between Union Square and the depot. It’s a little bit of a house, only fifteen feet wide, I guess. It’s two stories and a half, and I’ve got what they call the front hall-bedroom on the top floor. It’s teeny, but it’s clean and it’s comfortable. It’s quiet, too. The lady who keeps the house is a widow. Her husband was killed in the war, at Gettysburg, and she’s got a pension. She’s only one daughter and no son, so she takes three of us young fellows to board. And I think I’m going to like it.

Of course, I don’t want to spend any more than I have to, for I’ve got to have some money saved up if I ever expect to do anything for myself. And the sooner I can get started the sooner I can come back and carry away Miriam Chace—Miriam Forthright, as she will be then.

It seems a long way off, sometimes, and I don’t know that it wouldn’t be better to give up the idea of ever being very rich. Then we could be married just as soon as I get a raise, which I’m hoping for by New Year’s, if I can show them that I am worth it. But I’d like to be rich for your sake, Miriam—very rich, so that you could have everything you want, and more too!

Your loving


NEW YORK, Sept. 24, 1894.

MY DEAR MIRIAM,—I’m glad you don’t want me to give up before I get to the top. I can’t see why I shouldn’t succeed just as well as anybody else. You needn’t think I’m weakening, either. I guess I was longing for you when I wrote that about being satisfied with what I’ll have if I get my raise.

But what do you want to know about the people in this house for? The landlady’s name is Janeway, and she’s sixty or seventy, I don’t know which. As for the daughter you’re so curious about, I don’t see her much. Her name’s Sally—at least that’s what her mother calls her. And I guess she’s forty if she’s a day. She don’t pretty much, either. Her hair is sort of sandy, and I don’t know what color eyes she has. I never knew you to take such an interest in folks before.

You ask me how I like the people here—I suppose you mean the New-Yorkers generally. Well, I guess I shall get to like them in time. They ain’t as stuck up as you’d think. That sassy way of theirs don’t mean anything half the time. They just mind their own business and they haven’t got time for anything else. They don’t worry their heads about anybody. If you can keep up with the procession, that’s all right; and they’re glad to see you. If you drop out or get run over, that’s all right, too; and they don’t think of you again.

That’s one thing I’ve found out already. A man’s let alone in a big city—ever so much more than he is in a village. There isn’t anybody watching him here; and his neighbors don’t know whether it’s baker’s bread his wife buys or what. Fact is, in a big city a man hasn’t any neighbors. He knows the boys in the store, but he don’t know the man who lives next door. That’s an extraordinary thing to say, isn’t it? I’ve been in this house here for a fortnight and I don’t even know the names of the folks living opposite. I don’t know them by sight, and they don’t know me. The man who sleeps in the next house on the other side of the wall from me—he’s got a bad cold, for I can hear him cough, but that’s all I know about him. And he don’t know me, either. We may be getting our dinners together every day down-town and we’ll never find out except by accident that we sleep side by side with only a brick or two between us. It’s thinking of things like that that comes pretty near making me feel lonely sometimes; and I won’t deny that there’s many a night when I’ve wished I had only to go down street to see the welcome light of your father’s lamp—and to find Somebody Else who was glad to see me, even if she did sometimes fire up and make it hot for me just because I’d been polite to some other girl.

If you were only here you’d have such lots of sharp things to say about the sights, for there’s always something going on here. Broadway beats the circus hollow. New York itself is the Greatest Show on Earth. You’d admire to see the men, all handsomed up, just as if they were going to meeting; and you’d find lots of remarks to pass about the women, dressed up like summer boarders all the time. And, of course, they are summer boarders really—New York is where the summer boarders come from. When they are up in Auburnvale they call us the Natives—down here they call us Jays. Every now and then on the street here I come across some face I seem to recognize, and when I trace it up I find it’s some summer boarder that’s been up in Auburnvale. Yesterday, for instance, in the car I sat opposite a girl I’d seen somewhere—a tall, handsome girl with rich golden hair. Well, I believe it was that Miss Stanwood that boarded at Taylor’s last June—you know, the one you used to call the Gilt-Edged Girl.

But the people here don’t faze me any more. I’m going in strong; and I guess I’ll come out on top one of these fine days. And then I’ll come back to Auburnvale and I’ll meet a brown-haired girl with dark-brown eyes—and I’ll meet her in church and her father will marry us! Then we’ll go away in the parlor-car to be New-Yorkers for the rest of our lives and to leave the Natives way behind us.

I don’t know but it’s thinking of that little girl with the dark-brown eyes that makes me lonelier sometimes. Here’s my love to her.

Your own


NEW YORK, Oct. 7, 1894.

DEAR MIRIAM,—You mustn’t think that I’m lonely every day. I haven’t time to be lonely generally. It’s only now and then nights that I feel as if I’d like to have somebody to talk to about old times. But I don’t understand what you mean about this Miss Stanwood. I didn’t speak to her in the car that day, and I haven’t seen her since. You forget that I don’t know her except by sight. It was you who used to tell me about the Gilt-Edged Girl, and her fine clothes and her city ways, and all that.

This last week I’ve been going to the Young Men’s Christian Association,