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A Cosmopolite In A Café
At midnight the café was crowded. By some chance the little table at which I sat had
escaped the eye of incomers, and two vacant chairs at it extended their arms with venal
hospitality to the influx of patrons.
And then a cosmopolite sat in one of them, and I was glad, for I held a theory that since
Adam no true citizen of the world has existed. We hear of them, and we see foreign
labels on much luggage, but we find travellers instead of cosmopolites.
I invoke your consideration of the scene—the marble-topped tables, the range of leather-
upholstered wall seats, the gay company, the ladies dressed in demi-state toilets, speaking
in an exquisite visible chorus of taste, economy, opulence or art; the sedulous and
largess-loving garçons, the music wisely catering to all with its raids upon the
composers; the mélange of talk and laughter—and, if you will, the Würzburger in the tall
glass cones that bend to your lips as a ripe cherry sways on its branch to the beak of a
robber jay. I was told by a sculptor from Mauch Chunk that the scene was truly Parisian.
My cosmopolite was named E. Rushmore Coglan, and he will be heard from next
summer at Coney Island. He is to establish a new "attraction" there, he informed me,
offering kingly diversion. And then his conversation rang along parallels of latitude and
longitude. He took the great, round world in his hand, so to speak, familiarly,
contemptuously, and it seemed no larger than the seed of a Maraschino cherry in a table
d'hôte grape fruit. He spoke disrespectfully of the equator, he skipped from continent to
continent, he derided the zones, he mopped up the high seas with his napkin. With a wave
of his hand he would speak of a certain bazaar in Hyderabad. Whiff! He would have you
on skis in Lapland. Zip! Now you rode the breakers with the Kanakas at Kealaikahiki.
Presto! He dragged you through an Arkansas post-oak swamp, let you dry for a moment
on the alkali plains of his Idaho ranch, then whirled you into the society of Viennese
archdukes. Anon he would be telling you of a cold he acquired in a Chicago lake breeze
and how old Escamila cured it in Buenos Ayres with a hot infusion of the chuchula weed.
You would have addressed a letter to "E. Rushmore Coglan, Esq., the Earth, Solar
System, the Universe," and have mailed it, feeling confident that it would be delivered to
I was sure that I had found at last the one true cosmopolite since Adam, and I listened to
his worldwide discourse fearful lest I should discover in it the local note of the mere
globe-trotter. But his opinions never fluttered or drooped; he was as impartial to cities,
countries and continents as the winds or gravitation.
And as E. Rushmore Coglan prattled of this little planet I thought with glee of a great
almost-cosmopolite who wrote for the whole world and dedicated himself to Bombay. In
a poem he has to say that there is pride and rivalry between the cities of the earth, and
that "the men that breed from them, they traffic up and down, but cling to their cities' hem
as a child to the mother's gown." And whenever they walk "by roaring streets unknown"