K (Chapter 1, page 1 of 17)


 
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Chapter 1

The Street stretched away north and south in two lines of ancient houses
that seemed to meet in the distance. The man found it infinitely inviting.
It had the well-worn look of an old coat, shabby but comfortable. The
thought of coming there to live pleased him. Surely here would be
peace--long evenings in which to read, quiet nights in which to sleep and
forget. It was an impression of home, really, that it gave. The man did
not know that, or care particularly. He had been wandering about a
long time--not in years, for he was less than thirty. But it seemed a very
long time.

At the little house no one had seemed to think about references. He could
have given one or two, of a sort. He had gone to considerable trouble to
get them; and now, not to have them asked for-There was a house across and a little way down the Street, with a card in
the window that said: "Meals, twenty-five cents." Evidently the midday meal
was over; men who looked like clerks and small shopkeepers were hurrying
away. The Nottingham curtains were pinned back, and just inside the window
a throaty barytone was singing: "Home is the hunter, home from the hill:
And the sailor, home from sea."

Across the Street, the man smiled grimly--Home!

For perhaps an hour Joe Drummond had been wandering up and down the Street.
His straw hat was set on the back of his head, for the evening was warm;
his slender shoulders, squared and resolute at eight, by nine had taken on
a disconsolate droop. Under a street lamp he consulted his watch, but even
without that he knew what the hour was. Prayer meeting at the corner church
was over; boys of his own age were ranging themselves along the curb,
waiting for the girl of the moment. When she came, a youth would appear
miraculously beside her, and the world-old pairing off would have taken
place.

 
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