A SWALLOW-TAILER FOR TWO

“Isidore? Bah! Never again do I want dot name to hear!

“Isidore? A loafer he iss! Sure! Ve vas friends vunce, unt don’t I know
vot a loafer he iss? Ven a man iss a loafer nobody knows it better as
his best friend.

“Don’t you remember by der night uf der two Purim balls? Vot? No? Yes!
Dere vas two Purim balls by der same night; der one vas across der
street from der odder. Yes. Der one, dot vas der Montefiore Society. I
vas der president. Der odder, dot vas der Baron Hirsch Literary
Atzociation. Isidore vas der vice-president.

“Isidore unt I lived together. Oh, ve vas such friends! David unt
Jonathan dey vas not better friends as me unt Isidore. Everyt’ing vot
Isidore had could belong also to me. Unt if I had somet’ing I always
told Isidore dot I had it. I did not know vot a loafer he vas.

“So it comes der day of der Montefiore ball, unt I ask Izzy if he iss
going. ‘No, Moritz,’ he says, ‘I am going by der Baron Hirsch ball.’
‘But anyway,’ I says, ‘let us go by der tailor unt hire for rent our
evening-dress swallow-tails.’ ‘Sure,’ he says. Unt ve vent by der
tailor’s. But dot vas such a busy times dot every tailor ve vent to said
he vas so sorry but he had already hired out for rent all der
swallow-tails vot he had, unt he didn’t haf no more left. Ve vent from
every tailor vot ve know to every odder tailor. Der last vun he vas a
smart feller. He says: ‘Gents, I got vun suit left, but it iss der only
vun.’ Den Izzy unt me looked into our faces. Vot could ve do?

“‘Id iss no use,’ I says, unt Izzy says it vas no use, unt ve vas just
going away, ven der smart tailor says: ‘Vy don’t you take der suit unt
each take a turn to wear it?’ So Izzy says to me, ‘Moritz, dot’s a idea.
You can wear der suit by der Montefiore ball, unt I can wear it by der
Baron Hirsch ball. Der dancing vill be all night. You can have it from
nine o’clock until it is elefen o’clock. Dot iss two hours. Den you can
excuse yourself. Den I put on der suit und wear it by der Baron Hirsch
ball from elefen o’clock until id iss vun o’clock in der morning. Den I
excuse myself. Den, Moritz, you can haf it again by der Montefiore ball
until id iss t’ree o’clock. Dot iss two more hours, unt if I want it
after t’ree o’clock I can haf it for two hours more.’

“Say! Dot Izzy iss a great schemer. He has a brain like a Napoleon. He
iss a loafer, but he iss a smart vun. So, anyvay, ve took der suit. Der
tailor charged us two dollars—oh, he vas a skin!—unt Izzy unt I said ve
would each pay half, unt ve each gave der tailor a gold watch to keep
for der security uv der suit. Unt den—I remember it like if it vas
yesterday—I looked into Isidore’s eye unt I said: ‘Isidore, iss it your
honest plan to be fair unt square?’ Because, I vill tell you, der vas
somet’ing in my heart dot vas saying, he vill play some crooked
business! But Isidore held out his hand unt said, ‘Moritz, you know
_me_!’ Unt I trusted him!

“So ve went to der room ve lived in unt I put der suit on. It fitted me
fine. I look pretty good in a evening swallow-tail unt Isidore says I
looked like a regular aritztocrat.

“‘Be careful, Moritz,’ he says, ‘unt keep der shirt clean.’ I forgot to
tell you dot ve hired a shirt, too, because it vas cheaper as two
shirts. ‘Come, Moritz,’ he says, ‘let us go!’ ‘Us!’ I says, astonished.
‘Are you coming by der Montefiore ball, too?’ ‘Sure,’ he says. ‘You are
der president, unt you can get me in without a ticket. I don’t have to
wear a swallow-tail evening dresser because I ain’d a member.’

“It took me only a second to t’ink der matter over. I am such a qvick
t’inker. If he comes to my ball, I says to myself, I vill come by his!
‘Sure, Izzy,’ I says. ‘As my friend you are velcome.’ So ve vent to der
Montefiore ball.

“Der moment ve got into der ballroom I seen vot a nasty disposition
Isidore got. ‘Izzy,’ I says, ‘go get acqvainted mit a nice lady, unt
dance unt enjoy yourself unt I vill see you again at elefen o’clock.’
‘No, Moritz,’ he says. ‘I vill stick by you.’ I am a proud man, so I
said, very dignified, ‘All right, if you vill have it so.’

“Unt Isidore stuck. Efry time I looked around me I seen his eyes keepin’
a look-out on der swallow-tail evening dress. Such big eyes Isidore had
dot night! ‘Don’t vatch me like dot, Izzy,’ I said. ‘Dey vill t’ink you
are a detectif, unt dot I stole somet’ing.’ Efrytime I drops a leetle
tiny bit from a cigar ashes on my swallow-tail shirt Izzy comes running
up mit a handkerchief unt cleans it off. Efry time I sits down on a
chair Izzy comes up unt vispers in my ear, ‘Moritz, please don’t get
wrinkles in der swallow-tail. Remember, I got to wear it next.’ Efry
time I took a drink Moritz comes unt holds der handkerchief under der
glass so dot der beer should not drop on der swallow-tail shirt. ‘Izzy,’
I says to him, ‘I am astonished.’

“So a hour vent by unt den comes in Miss Rabinowitz. Ven I see her I
forget all about Isidore, unt about everyt’ing else. Oh, she is nice! I
says, ‘Miss Rabinowitz, can I haf der pleasure uv der next dance?’ ‘No,’
she says, ‘I ain’d dancing to-night because my shoes hurts me. But ve
can haf der pleasure of sidding out der next dance togedder.’ Den she
says to her mamma, ‘Mamma, I am going to sid out der next dance mit dis
gentleman friend of mine. You can go somevere else unt enjoy yourself.’
Dot gave me a idea. ‘Isidore,’ I says—Isidore was right on top uv my
heels—‘gif Miss Rabinowitz’s mamma der pleasure of your company for a
half-hour, like a good friend.’

“Isidore looks a million daggers in my eye, but he couldn’t say nodding.

“He had to do it. Unt I found a qviet place where it vas a little dark,
unt Miss Rabinowitz sat close by me unt I vas holding her hand unt I vas
saying to myself, ‘Moritz, dis is der opportunity to tell her der secret
of your life—to ask her if she vill be yours! Her old man has a big
factory unt owns t’ree houses!’ Unt den I looked up, unt dere vas
Isidore.

“‘V’y did you leave Mrs. Rabinowitz?’ I asked. He gafe me a terrible
look. ‘Moritz,’ he says, ‘Id iss elefen o’clock unt der time has come.’
‘Vot time?’ asked Miss Rabinowitz. ‘Oh, Moritz knows vot I mean,’ he
says. So I excused myself for a minute unt I vispered in Izzy’s ear,
‘Izzy,’ I says, ‘if you love me, if you are a friend of mine, if you
vant to do me der greatest favour in der vorld—I ask you on my knees to
gif me a extra half-hour! Dis iss der greatest moment uv my life!’ But
Isidore only shooked his head. ‘Elefen o’clock,’ he said. ‘Remember der
agreement!’ ‘A qvarter of a hour,’ I begged. I had tears in my eyes. But
Isidore only scraped a spot off my swallow-tail shirt unt den he said,
‘Moritz, I vill tell you vot I’ll do. I vouldn’t do dis for nobody else
in der, vorld except my best friend. You can wear der suit ten minutes
longer for fifty cents. Does dot suit you?’ Vot could I do? I looked at
him mit sorrow. ‘Isidore,’ I said, awful sad, ‘I didn’t know you could
be such a loafer! But you haf der advantage. I will do it.’

“He even made me pay der fifty cents cash on der spot, unt den he vent
off to a corner where he could keep his eyes on der clock unt vatch me
at der same time. Dose fifty cents vas wasted. How could I ask a lady to
marry me mit dem big eyes of Isidore keeping a sharp watch on der
clothes I had on?

“‘Id iss no use, Miss Rabinowitz,’ I says. ‘I had a matter uv terrible
importance vot I vanted to tell you, but my friend iss in great trouble,
unt ven Isidore has troubles in his heart, my heart iss heavy!’ ‘Oh,’
she says, so sveet, ‘you are such a nobleman! It makes der tears come to
my eyes to hear of such friendships!’

“Dot vill show you vot a prize she vas. I hated to tell her a lie, but
vot could I do? So I says I haf to go out mit Izzy unt get him out of
his trouble, but at der end of two hours I come back. ‘I will wait for
you,’ she says. Unt den, mit a cold, murder eye, I goes to Isidore unt
says to him, ‘Come, false friend! I keep der agreement!’

“So Isidore dusts off my coat unt says he found a room upstairs where ve
could change der clothes. Ven ve got to der room I took der swallow-tail
evening-dress coat off, unt der vest off, unt der pants off, unt der
shirt off, unt I says to Isidore, ‘Dere iss not a spot on dem! I shall
expect you to gif dem back to me in der same condition ven der two hours
iss up. Remember dot!’ Unt den a horrible idea comes into my head. ‘Vot
am I going to wear?’ I says. ‘I don’t know,’ says Isidore. He had
already put der pants on. ‘Unt I don’t care,’ he says. ‘But if you vant
to put my clothes on, for friendship’s sake I lend dem to you.’

“You know how little unt fat dot Isidore iss. Unt you see how tall unt
skinny I am. But vot could I do? If I vent home to put on my own clothes
I know it would be good-bye Isidore unt der swallow-tail evening suit. I
would never see dem again. I couldn’t trust dot false face. ‘Moritz,’ I
says to myself, ‘don’d leave dot swallow-tailer out uv your sight. No
matter how foolish you look in Isidore’s short pants, put dem on. You
aint a member uv der Baron Hirsch Literary Atzociation. You don’d care
if your appearances iss against you. Stick to Isidore!’ So I put on his
old suit. My! It vas so shabby after dot fine swallow-tailer! Unt I felt
so foolish! But, anyvay, dere vas vun satisfaction. Der swallow-tailer
didn’t fit Isidore a bit. He had to roll der pants up in der bottom. Unt
der shirt vouldn’t keep shut in front—he vas so fat—unt you could see
his undershirt. I nearly laughed—he looked so foolish. But I didn’t say
anyt’ing—nefer again I vould haf no jokes mit Isidore. Only dot vun
night—unt after dot our friendships vas finished.

“So ve vent to der Baron Hirsch’s across der street. Ven ve got by der
door Isidore asked me, astonished-like, ‘Haf you got a ticket, Moritz?’
‘No,’ I says, ‘but you are der vice-president, unt you can pass in your
friend.’ But Isidore shooked his head. ‘Der rules,’ he said, ‘uv der
Baron Hirsch Literary Atzociation is different from der rules uv der
Montefiore Society. Efrybody vot ain’d a member has got to pay.’

“Say, vasn’t dot a nasty vun, vot? But vot could I do? It cost me a
qvarter, but I paid it. Unt as soon as ve got in by der ballroom Isidore
got fresh. ‘Moritz,’ he says, ‘ve vill let gone-bys be gone-bys, unt no
monkey business. I vill introduce you to a nice young lady vot got a
rich uncle, unt you can sit unt talk mit her while I go unt haf a good
time. At vun o’clock sharp I vill come back unt keep der agreement.’

“‘Isidore,’ I says, awful proud, ‘vit your nice young ladies I vill got
nodding to do. But to show you dot I ain’d no loafer I vill sit out in
der hall unt trust you.’

“So I took a seat all by myself. My! I felt so foolish in Izzy’s
clothes! Unt Izzy vent inside by der wine-room, where dey was all
drinking beer. ‘Moritz,’ I says to myself, ‘you make a mistake to haf so
much trust in dot false face. Maybe he iss getting spots on der shirt.
Maybe he is spilling beer on der swallow-tailer. He iss not der kind uv
a man to take good care vit a evening dresser. ‘Moritz,’ I says it to
myself, ‘be suspicious!’ Unt dot made me so nervous dot I couldn’t sit
still. So I vent unt took a peek into der wine-room.

“Mein Gott, I nearly vent crazy! Dere vas dot loafer mit a big beer spot
on my shirt in der front, unt drinking a glass of beer unt all der foam
dropping in big, terrible drops on der pants uv der swallow-tailer. I
vent straight to his face unt said, ‘Loafer, der agreement is broke. You
haf got spots on it. You are a false vun!’ Unt den Isidore—loafer vot he
iss—punched me vun right on der nose. Vot could I do? He vas der
commencer. I vas so excited dot I couldn’t say nodding. I punched him
vun back unt den ve rolled on der floor.

“Ve punched like regular prize-fighters. I done my best to keep der
swallow-tailer clean, unt Izzy done der best to keep his suit vot I had
on clean, but dere vas a lot of beer on der floor unt ven der committee
come unt put us out in der street—my! ve looked terrible! But nobody
could make no more monkey business vit me dat night. ‘Izzy,’ I says—I
vas holding him in der neck—‘take dot evening dresser off or else gif up
all hopes!’ I vas a desperate character, unt he could read it in der
tone uv my voice. He took der swallow-tailer off—right out on der
sidewalk uv der street. Den I put it on unt I vas getting all dressed
while he vas standing in his underclothes, trying to insult me. Unt just
ven I got all dressed unt he vas standing mit der pants in his hands
calling me names vot I didn’t pay no attention to, but vot I vill get
revenge for some time, dere comes up a p’liceman. Ve both seen him
together, but I vas a qvicker t’inker as Isidore, so I says, ‘Mister
P’liceman, dis man iss calling me names.’ He vas a Irisher, dot
p’liceman, unt he hit Izzy vun mit his club, unt says, ‘Vot do you mean
by comin’ in der street mitout your clothes on? You are a prisoner!’ So
I says, ‘Good-night, Isidore!’ unt I run across der street to der
Montefiore ball. Dey all looked at me ven I got in like if dey wanted to
talk to me, but I vas t’inking only uv Miss Rabinowitz. I found her by
her mamma.

“‘Miss Rabinowitz,’ I says, ‘I haf kept my word. I promised to come
back, unt here I am!’ She gafe me a look vot nearly broked my heart.
‘You are a drunker,’ she says.

“‘Miss Rabinowitz,’ I says, ‘dem iss hard words.’ ‘Go away,’ she says.
‘You look like a loafer. Instead of helping your friend you haf been
drinking.’ Den her mamma gafe me a look unt says, ‘Drunken loafer, go
‘way from my daughter or I will call der police.’

“Vot could I do? As proud as I could I left her. Den a committee comes
up to me unt says, ‘Moritz, go home. You look sick.’ Dey vas all
laughing. Den somebody says, ‘He smells like a brewery vagon.’ Vot could
I do? I vent home.

“Der next morning Isidore comes home. ‘Moritz,’ he says, ‘you are a
fool.’ I gafe him vun look in his eye. ‘Isidore,’ I says, ‘you are der
biggest loafer I haf efer seen.’ Ve haf never had a conversation since
dot day.

“My! Such a loafer!”

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