A TYRANT ABDICATES
Mrs. Coit’s house was situated in East Thirty-seventh Street. She rented her rooms out and they were always full though Mrs. Coit was very unfriendly.
Mrs. Coit’s had a strict control of her men roomers. Coming in at eleven o’clock was OK, midnight needed an explanation, and one o’clock was awful. From this you may imagine the rest.
The two who suffered most from this control were the Boy and the Girl. No use to give their names. They were in love and were like millions of other boys and girls.
Mrs. Coit was fat, forty, and unfair. She was a widow. Everyone agreed that Mr. Coit was lucky to escape.
The Boy was fair, the Girl was sweet. It seemed that it would take much more than the angry face of Mrs. Coit to frighten away that ever-welcome visitor – the Cupid.
Mrs. Coit took special care about them. She told the Boy that it was foolish to marry at his age and on his salary. To the Girl she said that marriage would slow down the Boy’s career. She always left her in tears.
Mrs. Coit tried to influence the lovers, but of course, in vain. The Boy and the Girl decided to get married.
One day Mrs. Coit entered the Boy’s room without knocking. To her surprise she found the Boy sitting on the bed. His face was in his hands. Mrs. Coit looked at him silently. The Boy did not hear her enter and stayed still.
‘Well!’ said Mrs. Coit. ‘Ain’t you goin’ to work?’ The Boy looked up. ‘No.’ His face was pale.
Mrs. Coit noted the symptoms carefully.
‘Lose your job?’ she asked hopefully.
The Boy shook his head.
‘Sick?’ she asked.
‘No,’ said the Boy, without moving.
Mrs. Coit looked at him critically. No, he certainly wasn’t drunk. Not him. Then, she saw a photograph. It showed the face of the Boy, smiling, happy.
Mrs. Coit understood
at once. For five long months this same photograph was in the Girl’s room. She looked at the place, where a picture of the Girl had been. It was not there.
‘Have you had a fight with her?’ she asked.
The Boy looked up at her hopelessly. ‘What do you care?’ he cried.
Mrs. Coit left the room. The Boy took the picture, tore it into pieces, and threw them on the floor.
Fifteen minutes later Mrs. Coit saw the Boy go out. Then, saying to herself something about ‘idiot,’ she went to the Girl’s room.
The Girl looked at her.
‘I knew it,’ said Mrs. Coit. ‘Why ain’t you at work?’ The Girl tried to smile. ‘I have a headache,’ she said.
‘Oh, I know all about it,’ she said. ‘He just told me. I knew it’d be like this.’
The Girl didn’t comment; she even refused to become angry. Finally, she dressed and went to the office.
Mrs. Coit sat in the chair, looking at some little bits of paper on the floor. Her face expressed nothing.
That evening, for the first time in many months, the Boy returned from his office alone. He and the Girl had walked together always – but that was over.
Of course, the Boy thought, if she came to him – he caught his breath at the thought – but that, he was sure, she would never do.
He decided to leave Mrs. Coit’s that very evening. Opening the outer door, he saw the Girl.
Without speaking, the Boy opened the door and stood aside politely to allow her to pass. She silently went up the stairs.
The Boy called her name. She turned and looked at him. He had a large envelope in his hand.
‘Is it for me?’ asked the Girl.
‘No,’ said the Boy. ‘It’s for – us.’
‘I suppose we must open it together,’ he continued coldly. ‘It’s addressed to both of us.’