Roy Glashan's Library
Non sibi sed omnibus
Go to Home Page
This work is out of copyright in countries with a copyright
period of 70 years or less, after the year of the author's death.
If it is under copyright in your country of residence,
do not download or redistribute this file.
Original content added by RGL (e.g., introductions, notes,
RGL covers) is proprietary and protected by copyright.




RGL e-Book Cover
Based on an image generated with Microsoft Bing


Ex Libris

First published in The Red Book Magazine, November 1910

This e-book edition: Roy Glashan's Library, 2024
Version Date: 2024-02-28

Produced by Matthias Kaether and Roy Glashan

All content added by RGL is proprietary and protected by copyright.

Click here for more books by this author


The Red Book Magazine, November 1910, with "Admirer"


WITH his hair slicked back in the fashion only barbers can attain, and his face shining from his evening ablutions, Mr. James King came downstairs and took his seat at Mrs. McDermott's lean basement table.

Somewhere out beyond the city—according to the poets and the telegraph editors—the green of summer was making its début. All day in the dark stuffy warehouse where he worried bales and boxes, Mr. King had felt this in his heart. And now his eyes traveled quickly round the board and rested tenderly on Nina McDermott, sitting serenely beneath an overhanging blonde coiffure.

"It certainly was a swell wedding," Nina was saying.

Mr. King leaned forward with interest; Nina and the subject of weddings on speaking terms, without an introduction from him, seemed providential.

"Mamie and me seen it when we were out to lunch," continued Miss McDermott, who scorned a domestic career and held forth behind the glove counter of a big downtown department store. "I says to Mamie, I says: 'Say I gotter cut out these swell lunches,' so we gets a sandwich and a choclut éclair an' sets down in the park to eat 'em. An' we seen the whole procession—Dukes an' things like that, I guess,—an' millionaires. Say, maybe they wasn't some tissue paper wrapped around that affair."

"Vulgar show," commented Mr. Marks, a long-haired graduate of a great university, who canvassed for books.

"An' the Duke she married," continued Nina, flashing a scornful glance round the board, "he was the original clothing-store dummy, for fair. No Dukes in mine, thank you."

Mr. King choked over his thin soup—a choke of happiness. If Nina McDermott's chosen one must first of all not be a Duke, then he, himself, was admirably equipped.

"What'd the bride have on, dearie?" inquired Mrs. McDermott, and added: "Mary, give Mrs. Williamson some more o' that coffee."

Nina launched into a glowing description of the bride's attire, in terms that were department-store Greek to Mr. King. While she talked he devoured her with his eyes, for to him she was the most delectable offering at her mother's rather gloomy table. He noted her complexion, which the cut-rate drug store had not tampered with, and the aureole of gold that had long been to him the last word in feminine coiffures. And again, as often before, he pictured her as the ruler of a Harlem-flat-Heaven that should receive him each day when the stuffy warehouse had relinquished its claim upon him.

After the bread-pudding, scheduled from the beginning of time as that night's dessert, Mr. King so maneuvered that his path and Nina's crossed in the hallway.

"It's a swell evening," he muttered, peeking out through one of the tiny panes that flanked the big door.

Nina agreed.

"Sort of spring-like," continued the commentator on the weather, "sort of green—and—spring-like." His vocabulary was not so deep as the subway, nor so wide as a five-foot shelf, but it served.

"I was thinking," he went on, "maybe you'd like to take a walk."

Out of the past flashed another comment; it sounded familiar, but it filled the pause. "It's a swell evening," he said.

"Well," said Nina, with the reluctance beloved of women, "I don't know but a walk would do me good. It certainly is hot in the store these days, and the swell dames that come to buy gloves are peevish, like they studied it from a correspondence school. I'll get my hat an' coat."

She disappeared, and then returned, accompanied by a flood of admonitions from the unseen Mrs. McDermott. Mr. King took a dinky little derby from the hall rack, and held open the door with a Chesterfieldian air.

They strolled down the narrow street, where the babies of the block cavorted happily in recognition of the promise of summer's warmth. The many "first robins," that the newspapers were daily reporting as heard from in various suburban communities, seemed to be singing in Mr. King's heart. Every now and then he glanced sideways at the lady of his choice, and wondered if she, too, knew that spring was on the way.

In all delicacy let us refrain from following Mr. King and his lady through the dream-like moments that constituted the next hour. Suffice it to report that at the end of that time they sat upon a chilly bench in a rather bleak park, and the lady's fair head rested upon Mr King's shoulder, while one of his stalwart arms, that hustled boxes by day, encircled her waspish waist. For to Mr. King, floundering amid the ruins of his small vocabulary, spring had lent the aid of her own unanswerable arguments, and the day was won. To the pair on the bench the park was neither bleak nor drear, but blooming like a corner at the annual flower show.

Through Mr. King's rather confused mind floated again that vision of a flat—twenty-a-month and water tax—and he knew that at last its ruler was coming to her throne. Recklessly he flung back his shoulders, while the derby poised jauntily on the back of his head. He cared not how soon the rent man hammered on the door.

"Say," he whispered, "can't we be married soon—next month?"

And then Nina made an unexpected and entirely inappropriate remark—a remark that caused Mr. King to sit up straight on the bench and regard her with high disapproval.

"I wonder," she said, "if Morton Prince will be leading man at Suburban Garden again this year."

The vision of the flat fled from Mr. King's brain. His heart was suddenly heavy. Morton Prince! What a time of times for Nina to recall the handsome, dashing and unconscious rival of the past summer!


No true love lacks stumbling blocks, and to Mr. King the foppish Morton Prince had been a particularly obnoxious obstruction. When first the actor had flashed upon the quiet of Mrs. McDermott's select table, to partake condescendingly of its undercooked food, Mr. King had seen that Nina's eyes were dazzled beyond reason. In private life Mr. Prince was an admirable advertisement for anybody's haberdashery. His face was finely moulded, his hair was long, black and curly, and his figure was the regular boarding house idea of Adonis in real life. And when, later, Nina had traveled out to Suburban Garden and seen Mr. Prince strut through the scenes of many plays beloved of women, in all the gold braid trappings of foreign courts, she had gasped in admiration. Once or twice it had been Mr. King's unhappy fate to sit beside her while Mr. Prince overcame villains and strode majestically on to clasp finally in his arms the peroxide lady in white. At such times no quantity of statistics tending to prove the fickleness of actors, though freely offered by Mr. King, could dim the glory of Morton Prince in Nina's eyes.


It is small wonder then that Mr. King greeted the intrusion of Morton Prince into this, the most sacred moment of his life, in no happy spirit. Unwillingly, he felt an unlovely rush of jealousy into his simple but honest heart.

"What you wondering about him for, now?" he asked in a surly tone.

Nina's eyes twinkled.

"Oh—just because," she remarked.

Mr. King felt that the time had come for the first show of authority.

"See here," said he, "if you marry me, you got to forget that gold-lace doll. I work for a living, I do. I don't wear no Sunday supplement uniform nor flash no tin sword. You wont see me sittin' round after we're married, play-in' no mandolin. I work—an' I'll work for you—I want to work for you—if you'll let me. But you got to forget that living picture."

He paused, overcome by his own eloquence, and Nina smiled sweetly.

"Of course," she said. "Don't get sore. I only wondered. It's spring—summer'll be here before we know it—so I wondered who'd play the leading man out there this year. What'll the opening bill be, d'you 'spose? Last year it was 'The Prisoner of Zenda.' Remember? I was only wondering."

Quickly and surely Mr. King was mollified. Not long could any man hold out against the combined caress of Nina and the spring breeze. When they strolled home to the grim McDermott house the vision of a flat was again uppermost in Mr. King's mind, and at parting he said:

"Day after tomorrow's Saturday, an' the first half-day off at the warehouse. You're off, too, so let's go down town to a matinée,"—an arrangement to which Nina happily agreed.

On Saturday at the noon signal Mr. King burst into whistled melody and gleefully donned his coat. On the way to catch his car he was accosted by a decrepit alien who offered for sale the country's earnest of summer to the grimy city—small bunches of drooping violets. Twenty-five cents of Mr. King's weekly fifteen dollars was promptly invested for a carefully selected bunch, which should adorn the bosom of the future ruler of his flat. Then he spent ten minutes haggling with a box-office magnate over two seats in the second balcony of the theatre; purchased a copy of his favorite evening paper, and boarded a car for the house of McDermott.


He was offered for sale the country's earnest pf summer.

As Mr. King sat down and arranged the violets in his lap, unfolding meanwhile his paper, he knew dimly that he had never been so happy before. Slyly—in the telegraph dispatches—spring crept upon the city, and violets bloomed at last in other quarters than the windows of expensive florists. And, best of all, the lady of Mr. King's choice had signified her approval of him, and the dreamed-of flat had advanced almost as far as a quarrel over the color of the parlor wallpaper. Far, very far from Mr. King's thoughts at that moment, were Morton Prince and the gold trappings of his heartbreaking calling.

But once more we find the course of true love tritely disturbed. An all-wise municipality came forward to tear up the streets before Mr. King's triumphal march to the altar.

The streets, then, being in a state of eruption, Mr. King's car moved but slowly toward his heart's desire. Twice he read the sporting page of his paper, carefully and in detail. The foreign dispatches next claimed his attention. Then he turned to the advertising pages and, in imagination, spent lavishly his remaining $13.70 upon exploited apparel which he thought would set off admirably the beauty of Nina. Still the car had not reached Mr. King's destination, and as a last resort he turned to the editorial page, a field wherein he had never before been known to browse.

In a far corner was a department headed "Answers for the Anxious," and Mr. King idly ran down the column of learning which an all-wise editor overflowed for the benefit of his readers. He discovered a cure for freckles, the value of an 1852 half-dollar, and the date of the battle of Waterloo. Then his eye fell upon a paragraph that moved him to sit up suddenly in his seat.


ADMIRER—Practically the same stock company will play at Suburban Garden this year. Leading man not yet announced.

Mr. King read this through several times. There was little doubt in his mind as to the identity of "Admirer." Too often in his presence had Nina wistfully speculated on next year's leading man at Suburban Garden; too often had she expressed a longing for the return of Morton Prince!

Hot anger surged into the heart of Mr. King. So this was the way of the world! Even while her head lay upon his shoulder, even while they discussed the relative economies of cooking with gas or with coal, Nina had been writing to the Evening News to ascertain the whereabouts of a gold and lace puppet! Though her heart was presumably in Mr. King's keeping, it still yearned for the return of Morton Prince to her mother's dreary board.

Mr. King wished heartily that he might come face to face with the leading man, and handle him as he would handle a recalcitrant box in the warehouse. Though Mr. Prince had conquered many a stage foe, and his sword had been ever quick to leap from its scabbard at Suburban Garden, Mr. King knew that, man to man, with all the "s'deaths" eliminated, he was the "puppet's" superior.

He looked again ruefully at the paragraph that had come as an alarm clock to his love's young dream. His eyes blazed. He crushed the violets—and the message of the gentler spring—harshly into a coat pocket, and set his derby more firmly on his head. He would have the truth.

Mr. King found Nina in the parlor playing "Tell Me the Old, Story" upon an asthmatic piano. At sight of her pretty preparations for an outing—the freshly-starched shirtwaist and the new bit of ribbon at her throat—he faltered. But the next instant he had come sternly forward and pointed to the indefinite answer to "Admirer's" damning question.


Mr. King found Nina in the parlor playing "Tell Me the Old, Story."

"You wrote it," he accused hoarsely.

Nina giggled.

Mr. King turned red at this frivolity. "Yes or no—did you write it?" he demanded, abandoning assertion for inquiry.

"You just said I did," Nina reminded him.

Mr. King had plenty of thoughts, but very few words to express them. He fumbled around in his mind for a line of attack.

"I'll find out," he told her. "I'll find out if you wrote that. I'll get the proof. You promised me you'd forget that lily-faced guy forever, an' here you are writin' to newspapers about him. Why don't you forget him?

"I—I can't," confessed Nina.

Mr. King's face was purple, but as always, he lacked words. And as Nina looked at him anger seemed to rise within her.

"And if I did write that," she announced, "it's my business. You haven't married me yet. Remember that."

"I'll find out," repeated Mr. King, "I'll get the proofs." And he retired the loser in the first conflict.

It seemed to him, as he paused in the street to think it over, that he must first make sure as to Nina's guilt or innocence in the matter of "Admirer." He knew from past experience that merely to banter him she might claim to have written to the News, whether she had done so or not. He felt that he must know the truth before he went further in dealing with a matter so serious.

Mr. King had several times called at the News office with notices concerning the fortunes of the amateur ball club on which he had played, and had once dropped in to inquire for the address of a favorite prizefighter. The trip into the sanctity of journalism's headquarters, therefore, presented no difficulties to him. He felt that it would be a simple matter to go to the office, secure "Admirer's" name and address, and if, as he suspected, "Admirer" should prove to be Nina, confront her with the unanswerable proof of her guilt and demand once for all that she consign the memory of Morton Prince to oblivion. So Mr. King boarded a downtown car.

At the same time that the disillusioned lover was riding down in the blaze of early afternoon, Morton Prince, debonair, dashing, but a trifle seedy, was sitting in a private office facing Mr. Goldberg, owner and proprietor of Suburban Garden.

"The same salary as last year," said Mr. Goldberg, putting it as a statement rather than a question, and looking up from a paper he was filling out.

"Um—er—hem," put in Mr. Prince, "I had hoped for a small advance. Last season, I built up quite a little circle of friends here who will want to see me act again. I have an added—er—financial value, you know." He swung his walking stick gracefully over an extended patent leather.

Mr. Goldberg regarded him sourly.

"Money's tight," he said. "I don't look for a big year at the Garden. Besides, I can hire any number of good actors at this price, and they'll be glad of the chance. And what's more, I don't believe you've got a—what you call a friend—in town who'd walk across the road to see you act."

Mr. Prince hastily removed a pale gray glove, and brought a copy of the Evening News from his pocket.

"Read that," he said, pointing to an item under the "Answers for the Anxious" heading.

Mr. Goldberg, with a scowl, perused the reply to "Admirer's" eager query.

"You wrote it yourself," he said, handing back the paper.

"You don't think very highly of my sense of honor," said the offended Mr. Prince.

"I don't think very high of nobody's sense of honor," returned Mr. Goldberg decidedly.

"Nevertheless," continued the leading man, "I am willing to bet $10 that that question was neither written by me, nor with my knowledge."

"I never bet," said Mr. Goldberg, "with actors. But I'll tell you what I'll do: if that was sent in by a real bonny fide admirer of yours, I'll be so surprised I'll raise your salary $10 a month this summer."

Mr. Prince rose and stood majestically in his very best Prisoner of Zenda manner.

"Then come with me," he said.

"Where?" asked Mr. Goldberg, frowning. "I'm a busy man."

"To the newspaper office," said Mr. Prince, holding open the door for Mr. Goldberg as though the latter had been a peroxide heroine.

Mr. King, who reached the News office first, was ushered into the presence of Mr. Henry Clifton. Mr. Clifton held several positions on the Evening News, all with nonchalant ease. Publicly he was dramatic editor. Privately he wrote some of the editorials, reviewed books, concocted jokes, and advised the lovelorn. He also drew on his unlimited supply of knowledge and a dog-eared encyclopedia for the answers which soothed the anxious. It was in this last capacity that he received Mr. King.

Mr. King came in rapidly, interrupting a very bad novel and a very good cigar which Mr. Clifton then had under consideration, drew from his pocket the well worn copy of the News, and pointed tragically to the answer to "Admirer."

"I want to know," said he, without formality, "the name of the person who wrote that."

"I wrote it," said Mr. Clifton, sitting up happily at the promise of trouble, "what's wrong with it?"

"Aw, I mean, who wrote the question," responded Mr. King. "Who's 'Admirer?'"

Mr. Clifton smiled.

"Very sorry," he said. "I can't tell you. We demand the name and address of every one asking a question, as an evidence of good faith, but it is not for publication. We hold it," he added, "sacred." And he went back to his novel.

Mr. King shifted from one foot to another.

"But I got to know," he protested.

"The door," said Mr. Clifton, with sophomoric cleverness, "opens inward. Please do not annoy the animals in the city room as you pass out."

Mr. King was about to take his discouraged departure when the door opened—inward, as Mr. Clifton had affirmed—and Mr. Prince, accompanied by Mr. Goldberg, entered. The leading man strode rapidly to the dramatic editor's desk and seized his hand.

"Well, I'm back, old man," he said.

"I see," said Clifton. "And will you have a half-length or a full length picture in to-morrow's paper to celebrate the return?"

"We are here," explained Prince, "on a rather delicate mission." He drew out a newspaper. "We wish—Mr. Goldberg and I—to learn the name and address of the party who wrote that question."

Mr. Clifton's eyes fell upon the paragraph Prince pointed out, and he burst into a loud laugh.

"Say," he giggled, "this is certainly 'Admirer's' busy day. This gentleman also is on the trail of the same party."

For the first time Mr. Prince turned to notice the fourth person in the room, and as his eyes fell upon Mr. King, he started in surprise.

"Well, well, how are you, King?" he said, holding out his hand, "and how's everybody up at Mrs. McDermott's?"

Mr. King murmured an inarticulate reply, and failed to see the hand. At that moment the amused Clifton broke in.

"I'll tell you what I'll do," he said. "It's against the rules of the office to reveal names in a case like this, but I'll call up the—er—the lady and ask her if there's any objection. If there is, of course, we'll have to drop the matter. If not—hello—er—North 2607 ring 2—you never can tell, you know—oh, hello, is this the lady who wrote the News that question about Suburban Garden Stock Company?—Admirer?—yes—well, Mr. Morton Prince and two other—er—gentlemen are here and want to know your name and address, if there's no objections—hello—yes, shall I—yes, right here—oh—all right—yes—certainly."

Mr. Clifton hung up the receiver.

"'Admirer' seems to think a good deal of you, Prince," he laughed. "She made me promise to keep you here till she could come down to the office. Wants to see you personally, it seems."

Mr. Prince yawned behind his pearl glove.

"Oh, these women," he said, adopting what he considered to be an air of extreme boredom. "They bother an actor to death. I assure you I do nothing to encourage them. But they're forever sending me flowers and notes." He took out a cigarette, and lighted it. "Sorry to keep you waiting, Mr. Goldberg."

Mr. Goldberg grunted, and shifted uneasily in his chair. Mr. Clifton had taken up his novel again. The leading man at Suburban Garden crossed his legs and gazed wearily at the opposite wall, decked with portraits of stage people.

He did not notice Mr. King, and it is well that he did not, since that gentleman's face was twisted into strange lines. Anger and hate struggled upon it. For Mr. King had recognized North 2607 ring 2, and he felt that his heart could never be light again. Not only had Nina been false to him in her admiration for another, but devoid of all shame, she had in his own hearing insisted upon traveling clear down to the News office in order to stand revealed before Morton Prince as his simpering "Admirer."

Well, Mr. King decided, it would not be his fault if the climax were not sufficiently thrilling. Carefully he worked out the final scene in this old, old play of woman, fair but false. The office boy would announce Nina, and she would appear in the doorway. At that instant, Mr. King determined, he would leap across the space that separated him from Mr. Prince, and give the hero of Suburban Garden the most complete and successful pummeling of his career. In the presence of Nina he would rumple that lovely hair, rip that lovely tie from its moorings, and write his signature on that handsome face.

"A lady to see you, sir," said an office boy, at last, sticking a red head inside.

"Surely—show her in," said Mr. Clifton, laying down his book in pleased anticipation.

Mr. King poised, ready to spring. Oblivious to his danger, the handsome victor in many a make-believe joust, stood up. The door opened, and Mr. King leaped—only to pause midway.

For there, blocking the door, stood the generous form of Mrs. McDermott, her face set in hard lines, her eyes blazing.

Mr. Prince turned pale, and the gallant smile on his face faded.

"Admirer!" he gasped.

"Yes," said Mrs. McDermott, advancing in grim determination, "that's me. 'Admirer,' But it's not your acting I admire—it's your nerve. How about that forty-four dollars you went away owing me, for board?"


"How about that forty-four dollars you went away owing me, for board?"

"I—why, I was to bring it to you today," stammered Mr. Prince, somewhat discomfited by a gurgle of joy from Mr. Goldberg.

Mrs. McDermott held out a large, relentless hand.

"I'll take it now," she said.

Unobserved, Mr. King slipped happily out the door.

Two hours later, in the second balcony, just before the curtain went up on the last act, Mr. King leaned towards Nina. "I'm sorry," he said, "gee! I'm sorry I acted that way."

"Forget it," Nina said, "it's all over now. Mr. Prince was so lovely an' polite, I hated to tell you he owed us for board. But I'm glad you found out, anyway. An'—well, you see, Ma'd promised me that $44 for a—a trousseau. That's how I come to wonder if Mr. Prince was coming back, that night in the park when you asked me—when you said—"

Mr. King squeezed her hand ecstatically. Then he uttered a sudden exclamation.

"I forgot," he said, drawing from his coat pocket a crumpled bunch of violets and laying them in her lap, "I bought them for you."

Nina gave a little cry and buried her face in their fragrance.

"They're lovely," she murmured, "they're just—swell."

"Yes," assented Mr. King, "they're so fresh and—and—spring-like."

The lights about them were lowered, and the footlights flamed.

The curtain was about to rise on the happy ending that must ever come somehow. Mr. King, deep in his own happy ending, leaned closer to the violets and to Nina.

"Jimmy O'Brien," he said, "told me to-day he's got the best flat in the city for only nineteen a month—


Roy Glashan's Library
Non sibi sed omnibus
Go to Home Page
This work is out of copyright in countries with a copyright
period of 70 years or less, after the year of the author's death.
If it is under copyright in your country of residence,
do not download or redistribute this file.
Original content added by RGL (e.g., introductions, notes,
RGL covers) is proprietary and protected by copyright.