There, were 3,000 girls in the Biggest Store.
Masie was one of them. She was eighteen and a
selleslady in the gents' gloves. Here she became
versed in two varieties of human beings - the kind of
gents who buy their gloves in department stores and
the kind of women who buy gloves for unfortunate
gents. Besides this wide knowledge of the human
species, Masie had acquired other information. She
had listened to the promulgated wisdom of the 2,999
other girls and had stored it in a brain that was as
secretive and wary as that of a Maltese cat. Per-
haps nature, foreseeing that she would lack wise
counsellors, had mingled the saving ingredient of
shrewdness along with her beauty, as she has endowed
the silver fox of the priceless fur above the other
animals with cunning.
For Masie was beautiful. She was a deep-tinted
blonde, with the calm poise of a lady who cooks butter
cakes in a window. She stood behind her counter in
the Biggest Store; and as you closed your band over
the tape-line for your glove measure you thought
of Hebe; and as you looked again you wondered how
she had come by Minerva's eyes.
When the floorwalker was not looking Masie
chewed tutti frutti; when he was looking she gazed
up as if at the clouds and smiled wistfully.
That is the shopgirl smile, and I enjoin you to
shun it unless you are well fortified with callosity of
the heart, caramels and a congeniality for the capers
of Cupid. This smile belonged to Masie's recreation
hours and not to the store; but the floorwalker must
have his own. He is the Shylock of the stores.
When be comes nosing around the bridge of his nose
is a toll-bridge. It is goo-goo eyes or "git" when
be looks toward a pretty girl. Of course not all floor-
walkers are thus. Only a few days ago the papers
printed news of one over eighty years of age.
One day Irving Carter, painter, millionaire, trav-
eller, poet, automobilist, happened to enter the Big-
gest Store. It is due to him to add that his visit was
not voluntary. Filial duty took him by the collar and
dragged him inside, while his mother philandered
among the bronze and terra-cotta statuettes.
Carter strolled across to the glove counter in order
to shoot a few minutes on the wing. His need for
gloves was genuine; be had forgotten to bring a pair
with him. But his action hardly calls for apology, be-
cause be had never heard of glove-counter flirtations.
As he neared the vicinity of his fate be hesitated,
suddenly conscious of this unknown phase of Cupid's
less worthy profession.
Three or four cheap fellows, sonorously garbed,
were leaning over the counters, wrestling with the
mediatorial hand-coverings, while giggling girls
played vivacious seconds to their lead upon the
strident string of coquetry. Carter would have re-
treated, but he had gone too far. Masie confronted
him behind her counter with a questioning look in
eyes as coldly, beautifully, warmly blue as the glint
of summer sunshine on an iceberg drifting in Southern
And then Irving Carter, painter, millionaire, etc.,
felt a warm flush rise to his aristocratically pale face.
But not from diffidence. The blush was intellectual
in origin. He knew in a moment that he stood in the
ranks of the ready-made youths who wooed the gig-
gling girls at other counters. Himself leaned against
the oaken trysting place of a cockney Cupid with a
desire in his heart for the favor of a glove salesgirl.
He was no more than Bill and Jack and Mickey.
And then be felt a sudden tolerance for them, and
an elating, courageous contempt for the conventions
upon which he had fed, and an unhesitating deter-
mination to have this perfect creature for his own.
When the gloves were paid for and wrapped the
Carter lingered for a moment. The dimples at
corners of Masie's damask mouth deepened. All gen-
tlemen who bought gloves lingered in just that way.
She curved an arm, showing like Psyche's through
her shirt-waist sleeve, and rested an elbow upon the
Carter had never before encountered a situation of
which he had not been perfect master. But now he
stood far more awkward than Bill or Jack or Mickey.
He had no chance of meeting this beautiful girl so-
cially. His mind struggled to recall the nature and
habits of shopgirls as be had read or heard of them.
Somehow be had received the idea that they some-
times did not insist too strictly upon the regular
channels of introduction. His heart beat loudly at
the thought of proposing an unconventional meeting
with this lovely and virginal being. But the tumult
in his heart gave him courage.
After a few friendly and well-received remarks on
general subjects, he laid his card by her hand on the
"Will you please pardon me," he said, "if I seem
too bold; but I earnestly hope you will allow me the
pleasure of seeing you again. There is my name; I
assure you that it is with the greatest respect that
I ask the favor of becoming one of your --
acquaintances. May I not hope for the privilege?"
Masie knew men - especially men who buy gloves.
Without hesitation she looked him frankly and smil-
ingly in the eyes, and said:
"Sure. I guess you're all right. I don't usually
go out with strange gentlemen, though. It ain't
quite ladylike. When should you want to see me
"As soon as I may," said Carter. "If you would
allow me to call at your home, I -- "
Masie laughed musically. "Oh, gee, no!" she
said, emphatically. "If you could see our flat once!
There's five of us in three rooms. I'd just like to see
ma's face if I was to bring a gentleman friend
"Anywhere, then," said the enamored Carter,
"that will be convenient to you."
"Say," suggested Masie, with a bright-idea look
in her peach-blow face; "I guess Thursday night will
about suit me. Suppose you come to the corner of
Eighth Avenue and Forty-eighth Street at 7:30. I
live right near the corner. But I've got to be back
home by eleven. Ma never lets me stay out after
Carter promised gratefully to keep the tryst, and
then hastened to his mother, who was looking about
for him to ratify her purchase of a bronze Diana.
A salesgirl, with small eyes and an obtuse nose,
strolled near Masie, with a friendly leer.
"Did you make a hit with his nobs, Mase?" she
"The gentleman asked permission to call." an-
swered Masie, with the grand air, as she slipped Car-
ter's card into the bosom of her waist.
"Permission to call!" echoed small eyes, with a
snigger. "Did he say anything about dinner in the
Waldorf and a spin in his auto afterward?"
"Oh, cheese it!" said Masie, wearily. "You've
been used to swell things, I don't think. You've had
a swelled bead ever since that hose-cart driver took
you out to a chop suey joint. No, be never mentioned
the Waldorf; but there's a Fifth Avenue address on
his card, and if be buys the supper you can bet your
life there won't be no pigtail on the waiter what takes
As Carter glided away from the Biggest Store
with his mother in his electric runabout, he bit his lip
with a dull pain at his heart. He knew that love had
come to him for the first time in all the twenty-nine
years of his life. And that the object of it should
make so readily an appointment with him at a street
corner, though it was a step toward his desires, tor-
tured him with misgivings.
Carter did not know the shopgirl. He did not
know that her home is often either a scarcely habit-
able tiny room or a domicile filled to overflowing with
kith and kin. The street-corner is her parlor, the
park is her drawing-room; the avenue is her garden
walk; yet for the most part she is as inviolate mis-
tress of herself in them as is my lady inside her
One evening at dusk, two weeks after their first
meeting, Carter and Masie strolled arm-in-arm into a
little, dimly-lit park. They found a bench, tree-
shadowed and secluded, and sat there.
For the first time his arm stole gently around her.
Her golden-bronze head slid restfully against his
"Gee!" sighed Masie, thankfully. "Why didn't
you ever think of that before?"
"Masie," said Carter, earnestly, "you surely
know that I love you. I ask you sincerely to marry
me. You know me well enough by this time to have
no doubts of me. I want you, and I must have you.
I care nothing for the difference in our stations."
"What is the difference?" asked Masie, curi-
"Well, there isn't any," said Carter, quickly, "ex-
cept in the minds of foolish people. It is in my power
to give you a life of luxury. My social position is be-
yond dispute, and my means are ample."
"They all say that," remarked Masie. "It's the
kid they all give you. I suppose you really work in a
delicatessen or follow the races. I ain't as green as
"I can furnish you all the proofs you want," said
Carter, gently. "And I want you, Masie. I loved
you the first day I saw you."
"They all do," said Masie, with an amused laugh,
"to hear 'em talk. If I could meet a man that got
stuck on me the third time he'd seen me I think I'd
get mashed on him."
"Please don't say such things," pleaded Carter.
"Listen to me, dear. Ever since I first looked into
your eyes you have been the only woman in the world
"Oh, ain't you the kidder!" smiled Masie. "How
many other girls did you ever tell that?"
But Carter persisted. And at length be reached
the flimsy, fluttering little soul of the shopgirl that
existed somewhere deep down in her lovely bosom.
His words penetrated the heart whose very lightness
was its safest armor. She looked up at him with eyes
that saw. And a warm glow visited her cool cheeks.
Tremblingly, awfully, her moth wings closed, and
she seemed about to settle upon the flower of love.
Some faint glimmer of life and its possibilities on
the other side of her glove counter dawned upon her.
Carter felt the change and crowded the opportunity.
"Marry me, Masie," be whispered softly, "and we
will go away from this ugly city to beautiful ones.
We will forget work and business, and life will be one
long holiday. I know where I should take you - I
have been there often. Just think of a shore where
summer is eternal, where the waves are always rip-
pling on the lovely beach and the people are happy
and free as children. We will sail to those shores and
remain there as long as you please. In one of those
far-away cities there are grand and lovely palaces
and towers full of beautiful pictures and statues.
The streets of the city are water, and one travels
about in --"
"I know," said Masie, sitting up suddenly.
"Yes," smiled Carter.
"I thought so," said Masie.
"And then," continued Carter, "we will travel on
and see whatever we wish in the world. After the
European cities we will visit India and the ancient
cities there, and ride on elephants and see the wonder-
ful temples of the Hindoos and Brahmins and the
Japanese gardens and the camel trains and chariot
races in Persia, and all the queer sights of foreign
countries. Don't you think you would like it, Masie?
Masie rose to her feet.
"I think we had better be going home," she said,
coolly. "It's getting late."
Carter humored her. He had come to know her
varying, thistle-down moods, and that it was useless
to combat them. But he felt a certain happy triumph.
He had held for a moment, though but by a silken
thread, the soul of his wild Psyche, and hope was
stronger within him. Once she had folded her wings
and her cool band bad closed about his own.
At the Biggest Store the next day Masie's chum,
Lulu, waylaid her in an angle of the counter.
"How are you and your swell friend making it?
"Oh, him?" said Masie, patting her side curls.
"He ain't in it any more. Say, Lu, what do you
think that fellow wanted me to do?"
"Go on the stage?" guessed Lulu, breathlessly.
"Nit; he's too cheap a guy for that. He wanted
me to marry him and go down to Coney Island for
a wedding tour!"