a vagabond in new york

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A VAGABOND IN NEW YORK My favorite pitch is the ring of bunctob lounil the toimtnin opposite the General Post Office. EHRWARTEND For to admire and for to see, For to beold this world so wide It never done no good to me, But I cant stop it if I tried. Kipling. PREFACE AT the time when some of these sketches were appearing in the pages of Truth I received a letter from an earnest-minded reader, enquir ing whether they were supposed to be re motely founded on fact, or were merely the imaginative efforts of a common or garden liar. Perhaps I should therefore preface them in their collected form with the assurance that they are one and all founded on fact, not over and above remotely. They are based, as they profess to be, upon the experi ences of a young Englishman during a period of vagabondage enjoyed in New York and thereabouts. They do not however claim the exact fidelity to fact of Hansard or a Law Re port. Vagabondage is a mental no less than a physical state of being and, just as a tramps 9 Preface progress across the sunny side of life is less direct than is, say, that of a bank-manager through the shadows, so his mind recalls less faithfully all and every entry in the mnemonical ledger. Perhaps then, in this narrative some terminological inexactitude may here and there find expression in word, or exclamation mark, or period. Here and there memory may heighten a high-light or erase a shadow. No vagabond could be expected to swear in a court of law to the exact size or brilliancy of every politicians near-diamond bosom-pin which may have cast its light across his path or his pages or that the politician smoked exactly such a cigar as memory recalls, or indeed that he smoked a cigar at all. Sufficient, surely, that as such the Vagabond recalls him, as smoking, and smoking a cigar, and that the cigar was very large and rank. Be it at least believed by the gentlemen of the jury that such a politician there was, such a steamboat skip per, such a policeman, such an elephant, as those the Vagabond has sought to draw, and that their dobgs and sayings, their relation-10 Preface ship towards him and towards each other are recorded with as much fidelity as memory will allow. Naturally again, they do not appear under their real names. You may walk miles along Sixth Avenue and never find Mr. Cholmondelys laboratory the Officer who directs the traffic at the corner of Broadway and Union Square will not answer to the name of Dempsey may even deny the existence of any officer answer ing to that name. Yet you may believe with out fear of being led astray that Mr. Chol mondely, however called, is at this moment somewhere adapting chickens to a new career that Dempsey, whitest man who ever trod shoe leather, is somewhere directing traffic that somewhere Gladys, unmindful of her earlier loves, is making eyes red, piggy eyes at her mahout of the moment. Let it not be thought that these poor sketches make any claim to pass as Impres sions of America or that they profess to pic ture New York, or any aspect of it, or any thing at all but the little piece of sidewalk upon ii Preface which the Vagabonds eyes have fallen as he quartered it in search of cigarette-ends. His not the conquering brain, the all-seeing eye, that can compress a nation - within the limits of a single volume, as do those Kings of English Literature who from time to time make Royal Progresses across the Atlantic and back for Literary purposes. No fatted calves were ever slain for the Prodigal Vagabond no streets were ever decorated no Fifth Avenue mansions flung open against his coming. He has but hung upon the skirts of the cheering crowd, thankful if, from afar off, he might catch some vague glimpse of the Features, the Repose, of the Great Man... --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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