Vandover and the Brute
About ten o'clock Vandover went ashore in the ship's yawl and landed in the city on a
literally perfect day in early November. It seemed many years since he had been there.
The drizzly morning upon which the Santa Rosa had cast off was already too long ago to
be remembered. The city itself as he walked up Market Street toward Kearney seemed to
have taken on a strange appearance.
It was Sunday, the downtown streets were deserted except for the cable-cars and an
occasional newsboy. The stores were closed and in their vestibules one saw the peddlers
who were never there on week-days, venders of canes and peddlers of glue with heavy
weights attached to mended china plates.
Vandover had had no breakfast and was conscious of feeling desperately hungry. He
determined to breakfast downtown, as he would arrive home too late for one meal and too
early for the other.
Almost all of his money had been lost with the Mazatlan; he found he had but a dollar
left. He would have preferred breakfasting at the Grillroom, but concluded he was too
shabby in appearance, and he knew he would get more for his money at the Imperial.
It was absolutely quiet in the Imperial at the hour when he arrived. The single bartender
was reading a paper, and in the passage between the private rooms a Chinese with a clean
napkin wound around his head was polishing the brass and woodwork. In the passage he
met Toby, the red-eyed waiter, just going off night duty, without his usual apron or white
coat, dressed very carefully, wearing a brown felt hat.
"Why, how do you do, Mr. Vandover?" exclaimed Toby. "Haven't seen you round here
for some time." Vandover was about to answer when the other interrupted:
"Well, what's happened to you? Look as though you'd been drawn through hell backward
and beaten with a cat!"
In fact Vandover's appearance was extraordinary. His hat was torn and broken, and his
clothes, stained with tar and dirt, shrunken and wrinkled by sea-water. His shoes were
fastened with bits of tarred rope; he was wearing a red flannel shirt with bone buttons
which the boatkeeper on the pilot boat had given him, tied at the neck with a purple
handkerchief of pongee silk; his hair was long, and a week's growth of beard was upon
his lip and cheeks.
"That's a fact," he answered grimly. "I do look queer. I was in a wreck down the coast,"
he added hastily.
"The Mazatlan!" exclaimed Toby. "That's a fact; the papers have been full of it. That's so,
you were one of the survivors."