The Miracle Man by Frank L. Packard


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Page 1

XI THE AFTERMATH

XII "SAID THE SPIDER TO THE FLY"

XIII REAL MONEY

XIV KNOTTING THE STRINGS

XV THE MIRACLE OVERDONE

XVI A FLY IN THE OINTMENT

XVII IN WHICH HELENA TAKES A RIDE

XVIII THE BOOMERANG

XIX THE SANCTUARY OF DARKNESS

XX TO THE VICTOR ARE THE SPOILS

XXI FACE VALUE

XXII THE SHRINE

XXIII THE WAY OUT

XXIV VALE!






THE MIRACLE MAN




--I--

THE "ROOST"


He was a misshapen thing, bulking a black blotch in the night at the
entrance of the dark alleyway--like some lurking creature in its lair.
He neither stood, nor kneeled, nor sat--no single word would describe
his posture--he combined all three in a sort of repulsive, formless
heap.

The Flopper moved. He came out from the alleyway onto the pavement, into
the lurid lights of the Bowery, flopping along knee to toe on one leg,
dragging the other leg behind him--and the leg he dragged was limp and
wobbled from the knee. One hand sought the pavement to balance himself
and aid in locomotion; the other arm, the right, was twisted out from
his body in the shape of an inverted V, the palm of his hand, with half
curled, contorted fingers, almost touching his chin, as his head sagged
at a stiff, set angle into his right shoulder. Hair straggled from the
brim of a nondescript felt hat into his eyes, and curled, dirty and
unshorn, around his ears and the nape of his neck. His face was covered
with a stubble of four days' growth, his body with rags--a coat; a
shirt, the button long since gone at the neck; and trousers gaping in
wide rents at the knees, and torn at the ankles where they flapped
around miss-mated socks and shoes.

A hundred, two hundred people passed him in a block, the populace of the
Bowery awakening into fullest life at midnight, men, women and
children--the dregs of the city's scum--the aristocracy of upper Fifth
Avenue, of Riverside Drive, aping Bohemianism, seeking the lure of the
Turkey Trot, transported from the Barbary Coast of San Francisco. Rich
and poor, squalor and affluence, vice and near-vice surged by him,
voicing their different interests with laughter and sobs and soft words
and blasphemy, and, in a sort of mocking chorus, the composite effect
rose and fell in pitiful, jangling discords.

Few gave him heed--and these few but a cursory, callous glance. The
Flopper, on the inside of the sidewalk, in the shadow of the buildings,
gave as little as he got, though his eyes were fastened sharply, now
ahead, now, screwing around his body to look behind him, on the faces of
the pedestrians as they passed; or, rather, he appeared to look through
and beyond those in his immediate vicinity to the ones that followed in
his rear from further down the street, or approached him from the next
corner.

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Books | Photos | Paul Mutton | Fri 22nd Mar 2019, 10:32