One day in the midst of Gloria's illness there occurred a curious incident that puzzled Miss McGovern, the trained nurse, for some time afterward. It was noon, but the room in which the patient lay was dark and quiet. Miss McGovern was standing near the bed mixing some medicine, when Mrs. patch, who had apparently been sound asleep, sat up.

"Millions of people," she said, "swarming like rats, chattering like apes, smelling like all hell ... monkeys! Or lice, I suppose. For one really exquisite palace ... on Long Island, say--or even in Greenwich ... for one palace full of pictures from the Old World and exquisite things--with avenues of trees and green lawns and a view of the blue sea, and lovely people about in slick dresses ... I'd sacrifice a hundred thousand of them, a million of them." She raised her hand feebly and snapped her fingers. "I care nothing for them--understand me?"

The look she bent upon Miss McGovern at the conclusion of this speech was curiously elfin, curiously intent. Then she gave a short little laugh polished with scorn, and tumbling backward fell off again to sleep.

Miss McGovern was bewildered. She wondered what were the hundred thousand things that Mrs. patch would sacrifice for her palace. Dollars, she supposed--yet it had not sounded exactly like dollars.


It was February, seven days before her birthday, and the great snow that had filled up the cross-streets as dirt fills the cracks in a floor had turned to slush and was being escorted to the gutters by the hoses of the street-cleaning department. The wind, none the less bitter for being casual, whipped in through the open windows of the living room bearing with it the dismal secrets of the areaway and clearing the patch apartment of stale smoke in its cheerless circulation.

Gloria, wrapped in a warm kimona, came into the chilly room and taking up the telephone receiver called Joseph Bloeckman.

"Do you mean Mr. Joseph _Black_?" demanded the telephone girl at "Films par Excellence."

"Bloeckman, Joseph Bloeckman. B-l-o--"

"Mr. Joseph Bloeckman has changed his name to Black. Do you want him?"

"Why--yes." She remembered nervously that she had once called him "Blockhead" to his face.