Toward the close of a pleasant September afternoon, in one of the years when the big stick of President Roosevelt was cudgeling the shoulders of malefactors of great wealth, the feverish home-bound masses which poured into upper Fifth Avenue with the awakening of the electric night were greeted by the strangest of all spectacles which can astound a metropolitan crowd harassed by the din of sounds, the fret and fury of the daily struggle which is the tyranny of New York.
A very young man, of clean-cut limbs and boyish countenance, absolutely unhurried amidst the press, without a trace of preoccupation, worry, or painful mental concentration, was swinging easily up the Avenue as though he were striding among green fields, head up, shoulders squared like a grenadier, without a care in the world, so visibly delighted at the novelty of gay crowds, of towering buildings decked in electric garlands, of theatric shop-windows, that more than one perceiving this open enthusiasm smiled with a tolerant amusement.
Tom Beauchamp Crocker, familiarly known as Bojo, had sent his baggage ahead, eager to enjoy the delights one en-joys at twenty-four, which the long apprenticeship of school and college is ended and the city is waiting with all the mys-tery of that uncharted dominion—The World. He went his way with long, swinging steps, smiling from the pure delight of being alive, amazed at everything: at the tangled stream of nations flowing past him; at the prodigious number of entrancing eyes which glanced at him from under provoking brims; at the sheer flights of blazing windows, shutting out the feeble stars; at the vigor and vitality on the sidewalks; at the flooded lights from sparkling shop windows; at the roll-ing procession of incalculable wealth on the Avenue.
Everywhere was the stir of returning crowds, the end of the summer's hot isolation, the reopening of gilded theaters, the thronging of hotels, and the displays of radiant shop fronts, preparing for the winter's campaign. In the crush of the Avenue was the note of home-coming, in taxicabs and coupés piled high with luggage and brown-faced children hanging at the windows, acclaiming familiar landmarks with piping cries. Tradesmen and all the world of little business, all the world that must prepare to feed, clothe, and amuse the winter metropolis, were pouring in.