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HOME > Biographical > A Book About Myself > CHAPTER LXVII
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 My sister’s husband having something to do with this , I will touch upon his history as well as that of my sister. In her youth E—— was one of the most attractive of the girls in our family. She never had any intellectual or interests of any kind; if she ever read a book I never heard of it. But as for , sympathy, industry, fair-mindedness and an unchanging and self-sacrificing devotion to her children, I have never known any one who could rival her. With no adequate intellectual training, save such as is provided by the impossible theories and teachings of the Catholic Church, she was but thinly capacitated to make her way in the world.  
At eighteen or nineteen she had run away and gone to Chicago, where she had eventually met H——, who had fallen violently in love with her. He was fifteen years older than she and moderately well in the affairs of this world. At the time she met him he was the rather successful manager of a drug company, reasonably well-placed socially, married and the father of two or three children, the latter all but grown to . They eloped, going direct to New York.
This was a great shock to my mother, who managed to it from my father although it was a three-days’ wonder in the journalistic or scandal world of Chicago. Nothing more was heard of her for several years, when a dangerous illness overtook my mother in Warsaw and E—— came hurrying back for a few days’ visit. This was followed by another silence, which was ended by the last illness and death of my mother in Chicago, and she again appeared, a and hysteric soul. I never knew any one to yield more completely to her emotions than she did on this occasion; she was almost fantastic in her grief. During all this time she had been living in New York, and she and her husband were supposed to be well off. Later, talking to Paul in St. Louis, I gathered that H——, while not so successful since he had gone East, was not a bad sort and that he had managed to connect himself with politics in some way, and that they were living comfortably in Fifteenth Street. But when I arrived there I found that they were by no means comfortable. The Tammany administration, under which a year or two before he had held an of some kind, had been ended by the of the Lexow Committee, and he was now without work of any kind. Also, instead of having proved a faithful and loving husband, he had long since wearied of his wife and strayed elsewhere. Now, having fallen from his success, he was . Until the arrival of my brother Paul, who for reasons of sympathy had agreed to share the expenses here during the summer season, he had induced E—— to rent rooms, but for this summer this had been given up. With the aid of my brother and some occasional work H—— still did they were fairly comfortable. My sister if not quite happy was still the slave of her children and a most pathetically dependent housewife. Whatever fires or vanities of her youth had compelled her to her career, she had now settled down and was content to live for her children. Her youth was over, love gone. And yet she managed to convey an atmosphere of cheer and hopefulness.
My brother Paul was in the best of spirits. He held a fair position as an actor, being the star in a road comedy and planning to go out the ensuing fall in a new one which he had written for himself and which subsequently enjoyed many successful seasons on the road. In addition, he was by way of becoming more and more popular nationally as a song-writer. Also as I have said, he had connected himself as a third partner in a song-publishing business which was to publish his own and other songs, and this, despite its smallness, was showing unmistakable signs of success.
The first thing he did this morning was to invite me to come and see this place, and about noon we walked across Fifteenth Street and up Sixth Avenue, then the heart of the shopping district, to Twentieth Street and thence east to between Fifth Avenue and Broadway, where in a one-time fashionable but now decayed , given over to small wholesale ventures, his concern was housed on the third floor. This was almost the center of a world of smart shops near several great hotels: the , Bartholdi, and the Fifth Avenue. Next door were Lord & Taylor. Below this, on the next corner, at Nineteenth and Broadway, was the Gorham Company, and below that the Ditson Company, a great music house, Arnold, & Company and others. There were excellent restaurants and office buildings crowding out an older world of fashion. I remember being impressed with the great number of severe brownstone houses with their wide flights of stone steps, and porte-cochères. Fifth Avenue and Twentieth Street were filled with handsome victorias and coaches.
Going into my brother’s office I saw a sign on the door which read: Howley, Haviland & Company, and , Wing & Sons, Pianos.
“Are you the agent for a piano?” I inquired.
“Huh-uh. They let us have a practice piano in return for that sign.”
When I met his partners I was impressed with the probability of success which they seemed to suggest and which came true. The senior member, Howley, was a young, small, goggle-eyed hunchback with a mouthful of teeth, and hair as black as a crow, and piercing eyes. He had long thin arms and legs which, because of his back, made him into a kind of Spider of a man, and he went about spider-wise, laughing and talking, yet always with a heavy “Scutch” burr.
“We’re joost aboot gettin’ un our feet here nu,” he said to me, his queer twisted face screwed up into a of satisfaction and pride, “end we hevn’t ez yet s’mutch to show ye. But wuth a lettle time I’m a-theenkin’ ye’ll be seem’ theengs a-lookin’ a leetle bether.”
I laughed. “Say,” I said to Paul when Howley had gone about some work, “how could you fail with him around? He’s as smart as a whip, and they’re all good luck anyhow.” I was referring to the which counts all hunchbacks as lucky to others.
“Yes,” said my brother. “I know they’re lucky, and he’s as straight and honest as they make ’em. I’ll always get a square deal here,” and then he began to tell me how his old publisher, by whom Howley had been employed, had “trimmed” him, and how this youth had put him wise. Then and there had begun this friendship which had resulted in this .
The space this firm occupied was merely one square room, twenty by twenty, and in one corner of this was placed the free “tryout” piano. In another, between two windows, two tables stood back to back, piled high with correspondence. A longer table was along one side of a wall and was filled with published music, which was being wrapped and shipped. On the walls were some wooden racks or containing “stock,” the few songs thus far published. Although only a year old, this firm already had several songs which were beginning to attract attention, one of them entitled On the Sidewalks of New York. By the following summer this song was being sung and played all over the country and in England, an international “hit.” This office, in this very busy center, cost them only twenty dollars a month, and their “overhead expeenses,” as Howley pronounced it, were “juist nexta nothin’.” I could see that my good brother was in competent hands for once.
And the second partner, who arrived just as we were sitting down at a small table in a restaurant nearby for lunch, was an equally interesting youth whose personality seemed to spell success. At this time he was still connected as “head of stock,” whatever that may mean, with that large wholesale and music house the Ditson Company, at Broadway and Eighteenth Street. Although a third partner in this new concern, he had not yet resigned his connection with the other and was using it, secretly of course, to aid him and his firm in disposing of some of their . He was quite young, not more than twenty-seven, very quick and alert in manner, very short of speech, and handsome, a most attractive and clean-looking man. He shot out questions and replies as one might bullets out of a gun. “Didy’seeDrake?” “What ‘d’esay?” “AnynewsfromBaker?” “Thedevily’say!” “Y’ don’tmeanit!”
I was moved to study him with the greatest care. Out of many anywhere, I told myself, I would have selected him as a pushing and and very self-centered person, but by no means disagreeable. Speaking of him later, as well as of Howley, my brother once said: “Y’see, Thee, New York’s the only place you could do a thing like this. This is the only place you could get fellows with their experience. Howley used to be with my old publisher, Woodward, and he’s the one that put me wise to the fact that Woodward was trimming me. And Haviland was a friend of his, working for Ditson.”
From the first, I had the feeling that this firm of which my brother was a part would certainly be successful. There was something about it, a spirit of victory and health and joy in work and life, which convinced me that these three would make a go of it. I could see them ending in wealth, as they did before disasters of their own invention overtook them. But that was still years away and after they had at least eaten of the fruits of victory.
As a part of this my into the wonders of the city Paul led me into what he insisted was one of the wealthiest and most ornate of the Roman Churches in New York, St. Francis Xavier in Sixteenth Street, from which he was subsequently............
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