The Four Million HTML version
Lost On Dress Parade
Mr. Towers Chandler was pressing his evening suit in his hall bedroom. One iron was
heating on a small gas stove; the other was being pushed vigorously back and forth to
make the desirable crease that would be seen later on extending in straight lines from Mr.
Chandler's patent leather shoes to the edge of his low-cut vest. So much of the hero's
toilet may be intrusted to our confidence. The remainder may be guessed by those whom
genteel poverty has driven to ignoble expedient. Our next view of him shall be as he
descends the steps of his lodging-house immaculately and correctly clothed; calm,
assured, handsome—in appearance the typical New York young clubman setting out,
slightly bored, to inaugurate the pleasures of the evening.
Chandler's honorarium was $18 per week. He was employed in the office of an architect.
He was twenty-two years old; he considered architecture to be truly an art; and he
honestly believed—though he would not have dared to admit it in New York—that the
Flatiron Building was inferior to design to the great cathedral in Milan.
Out of each week's earnings Chandler set aside $1. At the end of each ten weeks with the
extra capital thus accumulated, he purchased one gentleman's evening from the bargain
counter of stingy old Father Time. He arrayed himself in the regalia of millionaires and
presidents; he took himself to the quarter where life is brightest and showiest, and there
dined with taste and luxury. With ten dollars a man may, for a few hours, play the
wealthy idler to perfection. The sum is ample for a well-considered meal, a bottle bearing
a respectable label, commensurate tips, a smoke, cab fare and the ordinary etceteras.
This one delectable evening culled from each dull seventy was to Chandler a source of
renascent bliss. To the society bud comes but one début; it stands alone sweet in her
memory when her hair has whitened; but to Chandler each ten weeks brought a joy as
keen, as thrilling, as new as the first had been. To sit among bon vivants under palms in
the swirl of concealed music, to look upon the habitués of such a paradise and to be
looked upon by them—what is a girl's first dance and short-sleeved tulle compared with
Up Broadway Chandler moved with the vespertine dress parade. For this evening he was
an exhibit as well as a gazer. For the next sixty-nine evenings he would be dining in
cheviot and worsted at dubious table d'hôtes, at whirlwind lunch counters, on sandwiches
and beer in his hall-bedroom. He was willing to do that, for he was a true son of the great
city of razzle-dazzle, and to him one evening in the limelight made up for many dark
Chandler protracted his walk until the Forties began to intersect the great and glittering
primrose way, for the evening was yet young, and when one is of the beau monde only
one day in seventy, one loves to protract the pleasure. Eyes bright, sinister, curious,