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IF you bring a
woman into a story you spoil the story, and in
all probability libel the woman; everybody knows
that. But there are two women in this story, so
get ready; they always have crept in, and they
always will — and we have to make the best of it.
In this instance, though, the first person to
creep in was Ikey Hole.
The police in particular, but almost everybody
who knew him at all intimately, called him
Keyhole Ikey, so that by the time that he crept
into the story he was laboring under an extra
syllable as well as a kit of scientifically
constructed tools distributed about his person.
It was a second story that he crept into —
through a bedroom window.
Ikey started in business at the early age of
sixteen as a porch-climber, and by the time he
was twenty he had become a past grand-master of
his profession; but since by that time porches
had grown a little out of fashion in New York he
began to make a specialty of fire-escapes, and
from that time on he throve amazingly, as
everybody does who is sufficiently far-sighted
to move with the times...
the Salt He Had Eaten
The midnight jackals howled their
discontent while heat- cracked India writhed in
stuffy torment that was only one degree less
than unendurable. Through the stillness and the
blackness of the night came every now and then
the high-pitched undulating wails of women, that
no one answered-for, under that Tophet-lid of
blackness, punctured by the low-hung, steel-white
stars, men neither knew nor cared whose child
had died. Life and hell-hot torture and
indifference—all three were one.
There was no moon, nothing to make the inferno
visible, except that here and there an oil lamp
on some housetop glowed like a blood-spot
against the blackness. It was a sensation,
rather than sight or sound, that betrayed the
neighborhood of thousands upon thousands of
human beings, sprawling, writhing, twisting upon
the roofs, in restless suffering.
There was no pity in the dry, black vault of
heaven, nor in the bone-dry earth, nor in the
hearts of men, during that hot weather of '57.
Men waited for the threatened wrath to come and
writhed and held their tongues. And while they
waited in sullen Asiatic patience, through the
restless silence and the smell—the suffocating,
spice-fed, filth-begotten smell of India—there
ran an undercurrent of even deeper mystery than
India had ever known...
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