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|The Voice of the City||O Henry|
The Easter Of The Soul
|Page 3 of 4||
Mr. McQuirk went on his way, still possessed by the strange perturbation that he did not understand. Something was lacking to his comfort, and it made him half angry because be did not know what it was. Two blocks away he came upon a foe, one Conover, whom he was bound in honor to engage in combat.
Mr. McQuirk made the attack with the characteristic suddenness and fierceness that had gained for him the endearing sobriquet of "Tiger." The defence of Mr. Conover was so prompt and admirable that the conflict was protracted until the onlookers unselfishly gave the warning cry of "Cheese it -- the cop!" The principals escaped easily by running through the nearest open doors into the communicating backyards at the rear of the houses.
Mr. McQuirk emerged into another street. He stood by a lamp-post for a few minutes engaged in thought and then he turned and plunged into a small notion and news shop. A red-haired young woman, eating gum-drops, came and looked freezingly at him across the ice-bound steppes of the counter.
"Say, lady," he said, "have you got a song book with this in it. Let's see bow it leads off --
"When the springtime comes well wander in the dale, love,
And whisper of those days of yore -- "
"I'm having a friend," explained Mr. McQuirk, "laid up with a broken leg, and he sent me after it. He's a devil for songs and poetry when he can't get out to drink."
"We have not," replied the young woman, with unconcealed contempt. "But there is a new song out that begins this way:
"'Let us sit together in the old armchair;
And while the firelight flickers we'll be comfortable there.'"
There will be no profit in following Mr. "Tiger" McQuirk through his further vagaries of that day until he comes to stand knocking at the door of Annie Maria Doyle. The goddess Eastre, it seems, had guided his footsteps aright at last.
"Is that you now, Jimmy McQuirk?" she cried, smiling through the opened door (Annie Maria had never accepted the "Tiger"). "Well, whatever!" "Come out in the ball," said Mr. McQuirk. "I want to ask yer opinion of the weather - on the level."
"Are you crazy, sure?" said Annie Maria.
"I am," said the "Tiger." "They've been telling me all day there was spring in the air. Were they liars? Or am I?"
"Dear me!" said Annie Maria -- "haven't you noticed it? I can almost smell the violets. And the green grass. Of course, there ain't any yet -- it's just a kind of feeling, you know."
"That's what I'm getting at," said Mr. McQuirk. I've had it. I didn't recognize it at first. I thought maybe it was en-wee, contracted the other day when I stepped above Fourteenth Street. But the katzenjammer I've got don't spell violets. It spells yer own name, Annie Maria, and it's you I want. I go to work next Monday, and I make four dollars a day. Spiel up, old girl -- do we make a team?"
"Jimmy," sighed Annie Maria, suddenly disappearing in his overcoat, "don't you see that spring is all over the world right this minute?"
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