Vandover and the Brute
On A certain Saturday morning two years later Vandover awoke in his room at the Reno
House, the room he had now occupied for fifteen months.
One might almost say that he had been expelled from the Lick House. For a time he had
tried to retain his room there with the idea of paying his bills by the money he should win
at gambling. But his bad luck was now become a settled thing—almost invariably he lost.
At last Ellis and the Dummy had refused to play with him, since he was never able to pay
them when they won. They had had a great quarrel. Ellis broke with him sullenly,
growling wrathfully under his heavy moustache, and the Dummy had written upon his
pad—so hastily and angrily that the words could hardly be read—that he would not play
with professional gamblers, men who supported themselves by their winnings. Damn it!
one had to be a gentleman.
Next, Vandover had tried to borrow some money of Charlie Geary. Geary had told him
that he could not afford as much as Vandover needed. Then Vandover became enraged.
He had long since seen that Geary had practically swindled him out of his block in the
Mission, and at that very moment the huge boot and shoe "concern" was completing the
factory built upon the ground that Vandover had once owned. Geary had cleared seven
thousand dollars on his "deal." His refusal to loan his old-time friend fifty dollars upon
this occasion had exasperated Vandover out of all bounds. There was a scene. Vandover
told Geary what he thought of his "deal" in very plain words. They shouted "swindler"
and "gambler" into each other's faces; the whole office was aroused; Vandover was
ejected by force. On a stair landing half-way to the street he sat down and cried into his
arms folded upon his knees. When he returned to his room he had a sudden return of his
dreadful nervous malady and barked and whined under the bed.
Then Vandover wrote a fifty-dollar check on the bank—the same bank that had just
notified him that he was overdrawn—and passed it upon young Haight. How he came to
do the thing he could not tell; it might have been the influence of Geary's successful
robbery, or it might have been that he had at last lost all principle, all sense of honour and
integrity. At any rate, he could not bring himself to feel very sorry. He knew that young
Haight would not prosecute him for the dishonesty; he traded upon Haight's
magnanimity; he only felt glad that he had the fifty dollars. But by this time Vandover
did not even wonder at his own baseness and degradation. A few years ago this would
have been the case; now his character was so changed that the theft seemed somehow
consistent. He had destroyed young Haight's friendship for him. He had cast from him his
college chum, his best friend, but neither did this affect him. Nothing made much
difference to him now.
Nevertheless, Vandover was evicted from the Lick House three days after he had stolen
young Haight's money. Instead of paying his bills with the amount, he gambled it away in
a back room of a new café on Market Street with Toby, the red-eyed waiter from the
Imperial, and a certain German "professor," a billiard marker, who wore a waistcoat