Vandover and the Brute
Vandover had decided at lunch that day that he would not go back to work at his studio in
the afternoon, but would stay at home instead and read a very interesting story about two
men who had bought a wrecked opium ship for fifty thousand dollars, and had afterward
discovered that she contained only a few tins of the drug. He was curious to see how it
turned out; the studio was a long way downtown, the day was a little cold, and he felt that
he would enjoy a little relaxation. Anyhow, he meant to stay at home and put in the
whole afternoon on a good novel.
But even when he had made up his mind to do this he did not immediately get out his
book and settle down to it. After lunch he loitered about the house while his meal
digested, feeling very comfortable and contented. He strummed his banjo a little and
played over upon the piano the three pieces he had picked up: two were polkas, and the
third, the air of a topical song; he always played the three together and in the same
sequence. Then he strolled up to his room, and brushed his hair for a while, trying to
make it lie very flat and smooth. After this he went out to look at Mr. Corkle, the terrier,
and let him run a bit in the garden; then he felt as though he must have a smoke, and so
went back to his room and filled his pipe. When it was going well, he took down his book
and threw himself into a deep leather chair, only to jump up again to put on his smoking-
jacket. All at once he became convinced that he must have something to eat while he
read, and so went to the kitchen and got himself some apples and a huge slice of fresh
bread. Ever since Vandover was a little boy he had loved fresh bread and apples. Through
the windows of the dining-room he saw Mr. Corkle digging up great holes in the
geranium beds. He went out and abused him and finally let him come back into the house
and took him upstairs with him.
Then at last he settled down to his novel, in the very comfortable leather chair, before a
little fire, for the last half of August is cold in San Francisco. The room was warm and
snug, the fresh bread and apples were delicious, the good tobacco in his pipe purred like a
sleeping kitten, and his novel was interesting and well written. He felt calm and soothed
and perfectly content, and took in the pleasure of the occasion with the lazy complacency
of a drowsing cat.
Vandover was self-indulgent—he loved these sensuous pleasures, he loved to eat good
things, he loved to be warm, he loved to sleep. He hated to be bored and worried—he
liked to have a good time.
At about half-past four o'clock he came to a good stopping-place in his book; the two
men had got to quarrelling, and his interest flagged a little. He pushed Mr. Corkle off his
lap and got up yawning and went to the window.
Vandover's home was on California Street not far from Franklin. It was a large frame
house of two stories; all the windows in the front were bay. The front door was directly in
the middle between the windows of the parlour and those of the library, while over the