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Mammon and the Archer

Old Anthony Rockwall, retired manufacturer and proprietor of Rockwall's Eureka Soap, looked out the library window of his Fifth Avenue mansion and grinned. His neighbour to the right--the aristocratic clubman, G. Van Schuylight Suffolk-Jones--came out to his waiting motor-car, wrinkling a contumelious nostril, as usual, at the Italian renaissance sculpture of the soap palace's front elevation.

"Stuck-up old statuette of nothing doing!" commented the ex-Soap King. "The Eden Musee'll get that old frozen Nesselrode yet if he don't watch out. I'll have this house painted red, white, and blue next summer and see if that'll make his Dutch nose turn up any higher."

And then Anthony Rockwall, who never cared for bells, went to the door of his library and shouted "Mike!" in the same voice that had once chipped off pieces of the welkin on the Kansas prairies.

"Tell my son," said Anthony to the answering menial, "to come in here before he leaves the house."

When young Rockwall entered the library the old man laid aside his newspaper, looked at him with a kindly grimness on his big, smooth, ruddy countenance, rumpled his mop of white hair with one hand and rattled the keys in his pocket with the other.

"Richard," said Anthony Rockwail, "what do you pay for the soap that you use?"

Richard, only six months home from college, was startled a little. He had not yet taken the measure of this sire of his, who was as full of unexpectednesses as a girl at her first party.

"Six dollars a dozen, I think, dad."

"And your clothes?"

"I suppose about sixty dollars, as a rule."

"You're a gentleman," said Anthony, decidedly. "I've heard of these young bloods spending $24 a dozen for soap, and going over the hundred mark for clothes. You've got as much money to waste as any of 'em, and yet you stick to what's decent and moderate. Now I use the old Eureka--not only for sentiment, but it's the purest soap made.

Whenever you pay more than 10 cents a cake for soap you buy bad perfumes and labels. But 50 cents is doing very well for a young man in your generation, position and condition. As I said, you're a gentleman. They say it takes three generations to make one. They're off. Money'll do it as slick as soap grease. It's made you one. By hokey! it's almost made one of me. I'm nearly as impolite and disagreeable and ill-mannered as these two old Knickerbocker gents on each side of me that can't sleep of nights because I bought in between 'em."

"There are some things that money can't accomplish," remarked young Rockwall, rather gloomily.

"Now, don't say that," said old Anthony, shocked. "I bet my money on money every time. I've been through the encyclopaedia down to Y looking for something you can't buy with it; and I expect to have to take up the appendix next week. I'm for money against the field. Tell me something money won't buy."

"For one thing," answered Richard, rankling a little, "it won't buy one into the exclusive circles of society." "Oho! won't it?" thundered the champion of the root of evil. "You tell me where your exclusive circles would be if the first Astor hadn't had the money to pay for his steerage passage over?"

Richard sighed.

"And that's what I was coming to," said the old man, less boisterously. "That's why I asked you to come in. There's something going wrong with you, boy. I've been noticing it for two weeks. Out with it. I guess I could lay my hands on eleven millions within twenty-four hours, besides the real estate. If it's your liver, there's the Rambler down in the bay, coaled, and ready to steam down to the Bahamas in two days."

"Not a bad guess, dad; you haven't missed it far."

"Ah," said Anthony, keenly; "what's her name?"

Richard began to walk up and down the library floor. There was enough comradeship and sympathy in this crude old father of his to draw his confidence.

"Why don't you ask her?" demanded old Anthony. "She'll jump at you. You've got the money and the looks, and you're a decent boy. Your hands are clean. You've got no Eureka soap on 'em. You've been to college, but she'll overlook that."

"I haven't had a chance," said Richard.

"Make one," said Anthony. "Take her for a walk in the park, or a straw ride, or walk home with her from church Chance! Pshaw!"

"You don't know the social mill, dad. She's part of the stream that turns it. Every hour and minute of her time is arranged for days in advance. I must have that girl, dad, or this town is a blackjack swamp forevermore. And I can't write it--I can't do that."

"Tut!" said the old man. "Do you mean to tell me that with all the money I've got you can't get an hour or two of a girl's time for yourself?"

"I've put it off too late. She's going to sail for Europe at noon day after to-morrow for a two years' stay. I'm to see her alone to-morrow evening for a few minutes.

She's at Larchmont now at her aunt's. I can't go there. But I'm allowed to meet her with a cab at the Grand Central Station to-morrow evening at the 8.30 train. We drive down Broadway to Wallack's at a gallop, where her mother and a box party will be waiting for us in the lobby. Do you think she would listen to a declaration from me during that six or eight minutes under those circumstances? No. And what chance would I have in the theatre or afterward? None. No, dad, this is one tangle that your money can't unravel. We can't buy one minute of time with cash; if we could, rich people would live longer. There's no hope of getting a talk with Miss Lantry before she sails."

"All right, Richard, my boy," said old Anthony, cheerfully. "You may run along down to your club now. I'm glad it ain't your liver. But don't forget to burn a few punk sticks in the joss house to the great god Mazuma from time to time. You say money won't buy time? Well, of course, you can't order eternity wrapped up and delivered at your residence for a price, but I've seen Father Time get pretty bad stone bruises on his heels when he walked through the gold diggings."

That night came Aunt Ellen, gentle, sentimental, wrinkled, sighing, oppressed by wealth, in to Brother Anthony at his evening paper, and began discourse on the subject of lovers' woes.

"He told me all about it," said brother Anthony, yawning. "I told him my bank account was at his service. And then he began to knock money. Said money couldn't help.

Said the rules of society couldn't be bucked for a yard by a team of ten-millionaires."

"Oh, Anthony," sighed Aunt Ellen, "I wish you would not think so much of money. Wealth is nothing where a true affection is concerned. Love is all-powerful. If he only had spoken earlier! She could not have refused our Richard. But now I fear it is too late. He will have no opportunity to address her. All your gold cannot bring happiness to your son."

At eight o'clock the next evening Aunt Ellen took a quaint old gold ring from a moth-eaten case and gave it to Richard.

"Wear it to-night, nephew," she begged. "Your mother gave it to me. Good luck in love she said it brought. She asked me to give it to you when you had found the one you loved."

Young Rockwall took the ring reverently and tried it on his smallest finger. It slipped as far as the second joint and stopped. He took it off and stuffed it into his vest pocket, after the manner of man. And then he 'phoned for his cab.

At the station he captured Miss Lantry out of the gadding mob at eight thirty-two.

"We mustn't keep mamma and the others waiting," said she.

"To Wallack's Theatre as fast as you can drive!" said Richard loyally.

They whirled up Forty-second to Broadway, and then down the white- starred lane that leads from the soft meadows of sunset to the rocky hills of morning.

At Thirty-fourth Street young Richard quickly thrust up the trap and ordered the cabman to stop.

"I've dropped a ring," he apologised, as he climbed out. "It was my mother's, and I'd hate to lose it. I won't detain you a minute--I saw where it fell."

In less than a minute he was back in the cab with the ring.

But within that minute a crosstown car had stopped directly in front of the cab. The cabman tried to pass to the left, but a heavy express wagon cut him off. He tried the right, and had to back away from a furniture van that had no business to be there. He tried to back out, but dropped his reins and swore dutifully. He was blockaded in a tangled mess of vehicles and horses.

One of those street blockades had occurred that sometimes tie up commerce and movement quite suddenly in the big city.

"Why don't you drive on?" said Miss Lantry, impatiently. "We'll be late."

Richard stood up in the cab and looked around. He saw a congested flood of wagons, trucks, cabs, vans and street cars filling the vast space where Broadway, Sixth Avenue and Thirly-fourth street cross one another as a twenty-six inch maiden fills her twenty-two inch girdle. And still from all the cross streets they were hurrying and rattling toward the converging point at full speed, and hurling thcmselves into the struggling mass, locking wheels and adding their drivers' imprecations to the clamour. The entire traffic of Manhattan seemed to have jammed itself around them. The oldest New Yorker among the thousands of spectators that lined the sidewalks had not witnessed a street blockade of the proportions of this one.

"I'm very sorry," said Richard, as he resumed his seat, "but it looks as if we are stuck. They won't get this jumble loosened up in an hour. It was my fault. If I hadn't dropped the ring we--"Let me see the ring," said Miss Lantry. "Now that it can't be helped, I don't care. I think theatres are stupid, anyway."

At 11 o'clock that night somebody tapped lightly on Anthony Rockwall's door.

"Come in," shouted Anthony, who was in a red dressing-gown, reading a book of piratical adventures.

Somebody was Aunt Ellen, looking like a grey-haired angel that had been left on earth by mistake.

"They're engaged, Anthony," she said, softly. "She has promised to marry our Richard. On their way to the theatre there was a street blockade, and it was two hours before their cab could get out of it.

"And oh, brother Anthony, don't ever boast of the power of money again. A little emblem of true love--a little ring that symbolised unending and unmercenary affection--was the cause of our Richard finding his happiness. He dropped it in the street, and got out to recover it. And before they could continue the blockade occurred. He spoke to his love and won her there while the cab was hemmed in. Money is dross compared with true love, Anthony."

"All right," said old Anthony. "I'm glad the boy has got what he wanted. I told him I wouldn't spare any expense in the matter if--"

"But, brother Anthony, what good could your money have done?"

"Sister," said Anthony Rockwall. "I've got my pirate in a devil of a scrape. His ship has just been scuttled, and he's too good a judge of the value of money to let drown. I wish you would let me go on with this chapter."

The story should end here. I wish it would as heartily as you who read it wish it did. But we must go to the bottom of the well for truth.

The next day a person with red hands and a blue polka-dot necktie, who called himself Kelly, called at Anthony Rockwall's house, and was at once received in the library.

"Well," said Anthony, reaching for his chequebook, "it was a good bilin' of soap. Let's see--you had $5,000 in cash."

"I paid out $3OO more of my own," said Kelly. "I had to go a little above the estimate. I got the express wagons and cabs mostly for $5; but the trucks and two-horse teams mostly raised me to $10. The motormen wanted $10, and some of the loaded teams $20. The cops struck me hardest--$50 I paid two, and the rest $20 and $25. But didn't it work beautiful, Mr. Rockwall? I'm glad William A. Brady wasn't onto that little outdoor vehicle mob scene. I wouldn't want William to break his heart with jealousy. And never a rehearsal, either! The boys was on time to the fraction of a second. It was two hours before a snake could get below Greeley's statue."

"Thirteen hundred--there you are, Kelly," said Anthony, tearing off a check. "Your thousand, and the $300 you were out. You don't despise money, do you, Kelly?"

"Me?" said Kelly. "I can lick the man that invented poverty."

Anthony called Kelly when he was at the door.

"You didn't notice," said he, "anywhere in the tie-up, a kind of a fat boy without any clothes on shooting arrows around with a bow, did you?"

"Why, no," said Kelly, mystified. "I didn't. If he was like you say, maybe the cops pinched him before I got there."

"I thought the little rascal wouldn't be on hand," chuckled Anthony. "Good-by, Kelly."


    老安东尼·罗克韦尔是已退休的“罗克韦尔的尤雷卡肥皂”的制造商兼厂主。他正从第五大街私邸的书房窗口向外张望,露齿而笑。住在他右边的邻居G·范·斯凯莱特·萨福克—琼斯是贵族俱乐部成员,正从家里出来,走向等候他的汽车。同往常一样,他朝这座肥皂宫殿正面的意大利文艺复兴式的雕塑侮辱性地皱了皱鼻子。

  “自命不凡的倔老头儿,你歪什么!”前任肥皂大王品评道。“你这个外来客内斯尔罗德②一不留心,伊登博物馆迟早会把你这老王八收进去。这个夏天,我要把我的房子粉刷成红白蓝三色③,瞧你那荷兰鼻子能翘多高。”

  安东尼·罗克韦尔呼唤佣人历来不按铃。他走到书房门口,叫道,“迈克!”那嗓门有如当年曾震破过堪萨斯大草原的苍穹。

  “告诉少爷一声,”安东尼吩咐应召而来的仆人说,“叫他出门之前来我这儿一趟。”

  小罗克韦尔走进书房时,老头子丢开报纸,光滑红润的宽脸盘上带着慈爱而又严肃的神情打量着儿子。他一只手揉乱了满头银发,另一只手则把口袋里的钥匙弄得响个不停。

  “理查德,”安东尼·罗克韦尔说,“你用的肥皂是花多少钱买的?”

  理查德离开学校才六个月,听了这话微觉吃惊。他还拿不准这老头子的分寸。这老头子总是像初入社交界的少女一样,时不时地问你一些意想不到的事。

  “大概是六美元一打,爸。”

  “你的衣服呢?”

  “通常是六十美元左右。”

  “你是上流社会的人,”安东尼斩钉截铁地说。“我听说现在的公子哥儿都用二十四美元一打的肥皂,穿的衣服突破百元大关。你有的是钱,可以像他们那样胡花乱用,但你始终正正经经,很有分寸。现在,我仍旧使用老牌尤雷卡肥皂,这不仅仅是出于感情问题,而且也因为这是最纯粹的肥皂。你花十美分以上买一块肥皂,买的只是蹩足香料和包装招牌。不过,像你这个年纪,有地位有身分的年轻人用五十美分一块的肥皂也够好了。正如我刚才所说,你是上流社会的人。人们说,三代人才造就一个上流人物。他们错了。有了钱办什么事都很灵便,就像肥皂的油脂一样润滑。钱使你成了上流人物。啊,差点也使我成了上流人物。不过,我几乎同住在我们两边的荷兰佬不相上下,语言粗俗,行为古怪,举止无礼。他们两个晚上连觉也睡不着,因为我在他们中间购置了房地产。”

  “有些事情即使有了钱也办不到,”小罗克韦尔相当抑郁地说。

  “现在别那么讲,”老安东尼惊愕地说。“我始终相信钱能通神。我查遍了百科全书,已经查到字母Y,还没有发现过金钱办不到的事;下星期我还要查补遗。我绝对相信金钱能对付世上的一切。你倒说说,有什么东西是钱买不到的吧。”

  “举个例吧,”理查德有点怨恨地说,“有钱也挤不进排外的社会圈子。”

  “啊哈!是这样吗?”这个万恶之源的金钱拥护者雷霆般地吼道。“告诉我,要是首批阿斯特人④没钱买统舱船票到美国来,你的排外社会圈子又会在哪儿呢?”

  理查德叹了叹气。

  “这正是我打算要给你谈的事,”老头子说道,声音缓和了下来。“我叫你来就是为了这个。最近,你有点对劲,孩子。我已经注意观察你两个星期了,说出来吧。我想,在二十四小时内,可以调动一千一百万美元,房地产还不算。要是你的肝病发了,《逍遥号》就停泊在海湾,而且上足了煤,两天时间就可以送你到巴哈马群岛⑤。”

  “你猜得不错,爸;相差不远啦。”

  “啊,”安东尼热情地问,“她的名字叫什么?”

  理查德开始在书房来回踱步。他这位粗鲁的老爹爹如此关切同情,增强了他讲实话的信心。

  “干吗不向她求婚呢?”老安东尼追问道。“她一定会扑进你的怀抱。你有钱,人又漂亮,又是个正经小伙子。你的两手干干净净,从没沾上一点儿尤雷卡肥皂。你又上过大学,不过那点她不会在意的。”

  “我一直没有机会呀,”理查德说。

  “制造机会嘛,”安东尼说。“带她上公园散步,或者驾车出游,要么做完礼拜陪她回家也可以。机会,多的是嘛!”

  “你不知道现在社交界的状况,爹。她是社交界的头面人物之一,她的每小时每分钟都在前几天预先安排妥当了。我非要那个姑娘不可,爹,否则这个城市会变成腐臭的沼泽,使我抱恨终身。我又无法写信表白,不能那么做。”

  “呸!”老头儿说。“你是想对我说,我给你的全部钱财都不能让一个姑娘陪你一两个小时吗?”

  “我开始得太晚了。她后天中午就要乘船去欧洲待两年。明天傍晚,我能单独和她待上几分钟。现在,她还住在拉齐蒙特的姨母家,我不能到那儿去。但允许我明天晚上坐马车去中央火车站接她,她乘八点半到站的那趟火车。我们一道乘马车赶到百老汇街的沃拉克剧院,她母亲和别的亲友在剧院休息室等我们。你以为在那种情况下,只有六到八分钟,她会听我表白心意吗?决不会。在剧院里或散戏之后,我还有什么机会呢?根本不可能。不,爸,这就是你的金钱解决不了的难题,我们拿钱连一分钟也买不到;如果可能的话,富人就会长生不老了。在兰特里小姐启航之前,我没希望同她好好谈谈了。”

  “好啦,理查德,孩子,”老安东尼快活地说。“现在,你可以去俱乐部玩了。我很高兴你的肝脏没闹毛病,不过别忘了常常去神庙,给伟大的财神爷烧香跪拜求保佑。你说钱买不到时间吗?唔,当然,你不能出个价钱,叫永恒包扎得好好的给你送到家门口,但是,我已经见过,时间老人穿过金矿时,被石块弄得满脚伤痕。”

  那天晚上,一个性情温和、多情善感、满脸皱纹、长吁短叹、被财富压得喘不过气来的女人,埃伦姑妈来看望她的弟弟。安东尼正在看晚报。他们以情人的烦恼为话题议论开了。

  “他全告诉我啦,”安东尼说着,打了一个呵欠。“我告诉他,我在银行的存款全都听他支配,可他却开始贬责金钱,说什么有了钱也不管用。还说什么十个百万富翁加在一起也不能把社会规律动上一码远。”

  “哦,安东尼,”埃伦姑妈叹息说,“我希望你别把金钱看得太重了。涉及到真情实感,财富就算不了一回事。爱情才是万能的。要是他早一点开口就好啦!她不可能拒绝我们的理查德,只是我怕现在太迟了。他没有机会向她表白。你的全部钱财都不能给儿子带来幸福。”

  第二天傍晚八点钟,埃伦姑妈从一个蛀虫斑斑的盒子里取出一枚古雅的金戒指,交给理查德。

  “今晚戴上吧,孩子,”她央求说。“这戒指是你母亲托付给我的。她说,这戒指能给情人带来好运,嘱咐我当你找到意中人时,就把它交给你。”

  小罗克韦尔郑重其事地接过戒指,在他的小指上试了试,只滑到第二指节就不动了。他取下来,按照男人的习惯,把它放进坎肩兜里,然后打电话叫马车。

  八点三十二分,他在火车站杂乱的人群中接到了兰特里小姐。

  “我们别让妈妈和别人等久了,”她说。

  “去沃拉克剧院,越快越好!”理查德按她的意愿吩咐车夫。

  他们旋风般地从第四十二街向百老汇街驶去,接着通过一条灯火繁若星辰的小巷,从光线幽暗的绿草地段到达灯光耀眼、陡如高山的建筑区。

  到第三十四街时,理查德迅速推开车窗隔板,叫车夫停下。

  “我掉了一枚戒指,”他下车时抱歉似地说。“是我母亲的遗物,我悔不该把它丢了。我耽误不了一分钟的,我明白它掉在哪里的。”

  不到一分钟,他带着戒指回到了马车里。

  但就在那一分钟里,一辆城区街车停在了马车的正前方,马车试图往左拐,又被一辆邮车挡住了。马车夫朝右试了试,又不得不退回来,避过一辆莫名其妙地出现在那儿的搬运家具的马车。他想后退,也不行,只得丢下僵绳,尽职地咒骂起来。他给一伙纠缠不清的车辆和马匹封锁住了。

  交通阻塞在大城市并不稀罕,有时突然发生断绝往来。

  “为什么不赶路啊?”兰特里小姐心烦意乱地问。“我们要赶不上啦。”

  理查德起身站在马车里,望了望四周,看见百老汇街、第六大街和第三十四街的交叉口那大片地段给各式各样的货车、卡车、马车、搬运车和街车挤得水泄不通,有如一个二十六英寸腰围的姑娘硬要扎一根二十二英寸的腰带一样。而且在这几条街上还有车辆正飞速驶来,投入这一难分难解的车阵、马阵之中,在原有的喧嚣之中,又加进了新的咒骂声和吼叫声。曼哈顿的全部车辆似乎都挤压在这儿了。人行道上挤满了看热闹的纽约人,成千上万,其中资格最老的人也记不清哪次的阻塞规模能与之媲美。

  “实在对不起,”理查德重新坐下时说,“看样子我们给堵死了。一小时之内,这场混乱不可能松动,都是我的错。如果没有掉戒指的话,我们……”

  “让我瞧瞧戒指吧,”兰特里小姐说。“既然无法可想,我也不在乎了。其实,我觉得看戏也无聊。”

  那天晚上十一点钟,有人轻敲安东尼·罗克韦尔的房门。

  “进来,”安东尼叫道,他穿着一件红睡衣,正在读海盗惊险小说。

  走进来的是埃伦姑妈,她的样子好像一位头发灰白的天使错误地留在了人间。

  “他们订婚了,安东尼,”她平静地说。“她答应嫁给我们的理查德。他们去剧院的路上堵了车,两小时之后,他们的马车才脱了困。”

  “哦,安东尼弟弟,别再吹金钱万能了。一件表示真诚爱情的信物——一只小戒指象征着海枯石烂心不变、金钱买不到的一往深情,这才是我们的理查德获得幸福的根由。他在街上把戒指掉了,便下车去找。他们重新上路之前,街道给堵住了。就在堵车的时间,他向她表白了爱情,最后赢得了她。比起真正的爱情来,金钱成了粪土,安东尼。”

  “好呵,”老安东尼说。“我真高兴,孩子得到了他想要的人。我对他说过,在这件事上,我不惜付出任何代价,只要……”

  “可是,安东尼弟弟,在这件事上,你的金钱起了什么作用呢?”

  “姐姐,”安东尼·罗克韦尔说,“我的海盗正处于万分危急的关头,他的船刚被凿沉,他太重视金钱的价值而决不会被淹死的。我希望你让我继续把这章读完。”

  故事本该在这儿打住了。我跟你们一样,也热切地希望如此。不过,为了明白究竟,我们还得刨根问底。

  第二天,有个两手通红、系着兰点子领带、自称凯利的人来找安东尼·罗克韦尔,立刻在书房受到接见。

  “唔,”安东尼说,伸手去拿支票簿,“这一锅肥皂熬得不坏。瞧瞧,你已经支了五千美元现款。”

  “我自己还垫了三百块哩,”凯利说。“预算不得不超出一点,邮车和马车大多付五美元,但卡车和双马马车提高到十美元。汽车司机要十美元,载满货的二十美元。可表演得真精彩啊,罗克韦尔先生?真幸运,威廉·阿·布雷迪⑥没有光临那场户外的车辆场景,我不希望威廉忌妒得心碎。根本没有排练过呀!伙计们准时赶到现场,一秒钟也不差。整整两个小时堵得水泄不通,连一条蛇也无法从格里利⑦塑像下钻过去。”

  “给你一千三百美元,凯利,”安东尼说着,撕下一张支票。“一千美元是你的报酬,还你三百美元。你不至于看不起金钱吧,是吗?凯利。”

  “我吗?”凯利说。“我能揍那发明贫困的家伙。”

  凯利走到门口时,安东尼叫住了他。

  “你注意到没有,”他说,“在交通阻塞那儿有个赤身露体的胖娃娃⑧手拿弓箭在乱射吗?”

  “怎么,没有呀,”凯利莫名其妙地说。“我没注意到。如果真的像你说的那样,也许我还没有赶到那儿,警察早已把他收拾了。”

  “我想,这个小流氓是不会到场的,”安东尼咯咯笑道。“再见,凯利。”

  ①archer:弓箭手,但在这里指罗马神话中的Cupid(爱神)。他赤身露体,长着双翅,手执弓箭。
  ②Nesselrode,指Karl Robert Nesselrode (1780—1862) K.R. 内斯尔罗德:德籍俄罗斯政治家。
  ③红、白、蓝三色:指荷兰国旗的颜色。
  ④Astor(阿斯特):指John Robert Astor (1763—1848), 原为德国人,后遗居美国,成为美国皮毛商富豪兼金融家。
  ⑤The Babamas:拉丁美洲的巴哈马群岛,为著名的旅游胜地。
  ⑥威廉·阿·布雷迪:美国著名的剧院经理。
  ⑦Greeley格里利,指Horace Greeley(1811—1872), 美国新闻记者、作家、编缉、政治家、纽约论坛报的创始人。
  ⑧胖娃娃:指爱神Cupid。



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