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   Chapter 7 No.7

Greenwich Village By Anna Alice Chapin Characters: 39020

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:05


Restaurants, and the Magic Door

I

What scenes in fiction cling more persistently in the memory than those that deal with the satisfying of man's appetite? Who ever heard of a dyspeptic hero? Are not your favourites beyond the Magic Door all good trenchermen?

-Arthur Bartlett Maurice.

t was O. Henry, I believe, who spoke of restaurants as "literary landmarks." They are really much more than that-they are signposts, psychical rather than physical, which show the trend of the times-or of the neighbourhood. I suppose nothing in Greenwich Village could be more significantly illuminating than its eating places. There are, of course, many sorts. The Village is neither so unique nor so uniform as to have only one sort of popular board. But in all the typical Greenwich restaurants you will find the same elusive something, the spirit of the picturesque, the untrammelled, the quaint and charming-in short, the different!

The Village is not only a locality, you understand, it is a point of view. It reaches out imperiously and fastens on what it will. The Brevoort basement-after ten o'clock at night-is the Village. So is the Lafayette on occasion. During the day they are delightful French hostelries catering to all the world who like heavenly things to eat and the right atmosphere in which to eat them. But as the magic hour strikes, presto!-they suffer a sea change and become the quintessence of the Spirit of the Village!

It is 10.20 p.m. at the Brevoort in the restaurant upstairs. All the world and his wife-or his sweetheart-are fully represented. Most of the uptowners-the regulation clientèle-are going away, having finished gorging themselves on delectable things; some few of them are lingering, lazily curious; a certain small number are still coming in, moved by that restless Manhattanic spirit that hates to go home in the dark.

Among these is a discontented, well-dressed couple, seen half an hour before completing their dinner a block away at the Lafayette. The head waiter at that restaurant explained them nonchalantly, not to say casually:

"It is the gentleman who married his manicurist. Regard, then-one perceives they are not happy-eh? It is understood that she beats him."

Yonder is a moving-picture star, quite alone, eating a great deal, and looking blissfully content. There is a man who has won a fortune in war-brides-the one at the next table did it with carpets. There is a great lady-a very great lady indeed-who, at this season, should be out of town.

Swiftly moving, deft-handed waiters, the faint perfume of delicate food, the sparkle of light upon rare wine, the complex murmur of a well-filled dining-room. It is so far not strikingly different, in the impression it gives, from uptown restaurants.

But the hands of the clock are pointing to the half-hour after ten.

Hasten, then, to the downstairs café,-the two rooms, sunk below the level of Fifth Avenue, yet cool and airy. If you hurry you will be just in time to see the Village come in. For this is their really favourite haunt-their Mecca when their pockets will stand it-the Village Restaurant de Luxe!

Upstairs are exquisite frocks and impeccable evening clothes; good jewels and, incidentally, a good many tired faces-from uptown. Down here it is different. The crowd is younger, poorer, more strikingly bizarre-immeasurably more interesting. Everyone here does something, or thinks he does-which is just as good;-or pretends to-which is next best. There is a startling number of girls. Girls in smocks of "artistic" shades-bilious yellow-green, or magenta-tending violet; girls with hair that, red, black or blonde, is usually either arranged in a wildly natural bird's-nest mass, or boldly clubbed after the fashion of Joan of Arc and Mrs. Vernon Castle; girls with tense little faces, slender arms and an astonishing capacity as to cigarettes. And men who, for the most part, are too busy with their ideals to cut their hair; men whose collars may be low and rolling, or high and bound with black silk stocks after the style of another day; men who are, variously, affectedly natural or naturally affected, but who are nearly all of them picturesque, and, in spite of their poses, quite in earnest, after their queer fashion. They are all prophets and seers down here; they wear their bizarre hair-cuts and unusual clothes with a certain innocently flaunting air which rather disarms you. Their poses are not merely poses; they are their almost childlike way of showing the prosaic outer world how different they are!

Here they all flock-whenever they have the price. That may be a bit beyond them sometimes, but usually there is someone in the crowd who is "flush," and that means who will pay. For the Villagers are not parsimonious; they stand in no danger of ever making themselves rich and thus acquiring place in the accursed class called the Philistines!

It is beyond question that the French have a genius for hospitality. It must be rooted in their beautiful, national tact, that gracious impulse combining chivalry to women, friendliness to men and courtesy to all which is so characteristic of "the world's sweetheart" France. I have never seen a French restaurant where the most casual visitor was not made personally and charmingly welcome, and I have never seen such typically French restaurants as the Lafayette and the Brevoort. And the Villagers feel it too. From the shabbiest socialist to the most flagrantly painted little artist's model, they drift in thankfully to that atmosphere of gaiety and sympathy and thoughtful kindliness which is, after all, just-the air of France.

Next let us take a restaurant of quite another type, not far from the Brevoort-all the Village eating places are close together-walk across the square, a block further, and you are there.

It is not many years since Bohemia ate chiefly in the side streets, at restaurants such as Enrico's, Baroni's-there are a dozen such places. They still exist, but the Village is dropping away from them. They are very good and very cheap, and the tourist-that is, the uptowner-thinks he is seeing Bohemia when he eats in them, but not many of them remain at all characteristic. Bertolotti's is something of an exception. It is a restaurant of the old style, a survival of the days when all Bohemian restaurants were Italian. La Signora says they have been there, just there on Third Street, for twenty years. If you are a newcomer you will probably eat in the upstairs room, in cool and rather remote grandeur, and the pretty daughter with the wondrous black eyes will serve you the more elaborate of the most extraordinarily named dishes on the menu. But if, by long experience, you know what is pleasant and comfortable you will take a place in the basement café. At the clean, bare table, in the shadow of the big, bright, many-bottled bar, you will eat your Risotta alla Milanese, your coteletti di Vitelle, your asparagi-it's probably the only place in the city where they serve asparagus with grated cheese-finally your zambaione,-a heavenly sort of hot "flip," very foamy and seductive and strongly flavoured with Marsarla wine.

If you stand well with the house you may have the honour to be escorted by the Signora herself-handsome, dignified, genial, with a veritable coronal of splendid grey hair-to watch the eternal bowling in the alley back of the restaurant. I have watched them fascinated for long periods and I have never learned what it is they are trying to do with those big "bowling balls." They have no ninepins, so they are not trying to make a ten-strike. Apparently, it is a game however, for now and then a shout of triumph proclaims that someone has won. He orders the drinks and they go at it again.

"But, what is it?" I asked the Signora.

"Eh-oh-just a Giocho di Bocca," she returned vaguely, "a game of bowls-how should I know?"

Beyond the bowling alley is a long, narrow yard with bushes. It would make quite a charming summer garden with little tables for after-dinner coffee. But the Signora says that the Chiesa, there at the back of it, objects. The Chiesa, I think, is the Judson Memorial Church on Washington Square. Just why they don't want the Signora to have tables in her own back yard is not clear. She, being a Latin, shrugs her shoulders and makes no comment. Standing in the darkness, there is a real freshness in the air; there is also a delicious, gurgling sound, the music of summer streams.

"How lovely!" you whisper. "What a delightful, rippling sound."

"Yet, it is the ice plant of the big hotel," says La Signora sweetly.

There is, at Bertolotti's one of the queerest little old figures in all that part of the world, the bent and aged Italian known universally as Castagna (Chestnuts), because of the interminable anecdotes he tells over and over again. No one knows his real name, not even the Signor or the Signora. Yet he has worked for them for years. He wants no wages-only a living and a home. In the aforementioned back yard he has built himself a little house about the size of a dog kennel. It is a real house, and like nothing so much as the historic residence of the Three Bears. It has a window, eaves, weather-strips and a clothesline, for he does his own washing. He trots off there very happily when his light work is done, and, when his door is closed, opens it for no one. That scrap of a building is Castagna's castle. One evening I went to call on him, but he had put out his light. In the gleam that came from the bowling alley behind me, something showed softly red and green and white against the wooden door. I put out my hand and touched that world-famous cross. It was about six inches long, and only of paper, but it was the flag of Italy, and it kept watch outside the Casa Castagna. I am certain that he would not sleep well without it.

Probably the most famous Bohemian restaurant in the quarter is the Black Cat. It is not really more typical than the others,-indeed it is rather less so,-but it is extremely striking, and most conspicuous. There is, in the minds of the hypercritical, the sneaking suspicion that the Black Cat is almost too good to be true; it is too obviously and theatrically lurid with the glow of Montmartre; it is Bohemianism just a shade too much conventionalised. Just the same, it is fascinating. From the moment you pass the outer, polite portals and intermediate anterooms and enter the big, smoke-filled, deafening room at the back, you are enormously interested, excellently entertained. The noise is the thing that impresses you first. In most Village resorts you find quiet the order of the day-or rather night. Even "Polly's," crowded as it is, is not noisy. In the Brevoort there is a steady, low rumble of talk, but not actual noise. At the Black Cat it is one continual and all-pervading roar-a joyous roar, too; these people are having a simply gorgeous time and don't care who knows it. It is a wonder that the high-set rafters do not fall-that the lofty, whitewashed walls of brick do not tremble, and that the little black cats set in a rigid conventional design around the whole room do not come to life in horror, and fly spitting up the short stairway and out of the door!

When you go to the Black Cat you would better check what prejudices you have as to what is formal and fitting, and leave them with your coat at the entrance. Not that it is disreputable-Luigi would pale with the shock of such a thought! It is just-Bohemian! Everyone does exactly what he wishes to do. Sometimes, one person's wishes conflict with someone else's, and then there is a fight, and the police are called, and the rest of the patrons have a beautiful time watching a perfectly good and unexpected free show! As a rule, however, this determination on the part of each one to do what he wants to has no violent results. An incident will show something of the entire liberty allowed in the Black Cat. A man came in with two girls, and, seeing a jolly stag party at another table, decided to join them. He promptly did so, with, as far as could be seen, no word of excuse to his feminine companions. In a moment two young men strolled up to their table and sat down.

"Your friend asked us to come over here and take his place," explained one nonchalantly. "You don't object, ladies?"

The girls received them amiably. Apparently no one thought of such a formality as names or introductions. The original host stayed away for the rest of the evening, but the four new acquaintances seemed to get along quite satisfactorily without him.

A young married woman from uptown came in with her husband and two other men. A good-looking lad, much flushed and a little unsteady, stopped by her chair.

"Say, k-kid," he exclaimed, with a disarming chuckle, "you're the prettiest girl here-and you come here with three p-protectors! Say, it's a shame!"

He lurched cheerfully upon his way and even the slightly conservative husband found a grudging smile wrung out of him.

There is a pianist at the Black Cat-a real pianist, not just a person who plays the piano. She is a striking figure in a quaint, tunic-like dress, greying hair and a keen face, and a personal friend of half the frequenters. She has an uncanny instinct for the psychology of the moment. She knows just when "Columbia" will be the proper thing to play, and when the crowd demands the newest rag-time. She will feel an atmospheric change as unswervingly as any barometer, and switch in a moment from "Good-bye Girls, Good-bye" to the love duet from Faust. She can play Chopin just as well as she can play Sousa, and she will tactfully strike up "It's Always Fair Weather" when she sees a crowd of young fellows sit down at a table; "There'll Be a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight" to welcome a lad in khaki; and the very latest fox trot for the party of girls and young men from uptown, who look as though they were dying to dance. She plays the "Marseillaise" for Frenchmen, and "Dixie" for visiting Southerners, and "Mississippi" for the frequenters of Manhattan vaudeville shows. And, then, at the right moment, her skilled fingers will drift suddenly into something different, some exquisite, inspired melody-the soul-child of some high immortal-and under the spell the noisy crowd grows still for a moment. For even at the Black Cat they have not forgotten how to dream.

Probably the Black Cat inspired many other Village restaurants-the Purple Pup for instance.

The Purple Pup is a queer little place. It is in a most exclusive and aristocratic part of the Square-in the basement of one of the really handsome houses, in fact. It is, so far as is visible to the naked eye, quite well conducted, yet there is something mysterious about it. Doubtless this is deliberately stage-managed and capitalised, but it is effectively done. It is an unexpected sort of place. One evening you go there and find it in full blast; the piano tinkling, many cramped couples dancing in the two tiny rooms, and every table covered with tea cups or lemonade glasses. Another night you may arrive at exactly the same time and there will be only candlelight and a few groups, talking in low tones.

Here, as in all parts of the Village, the man in the rolling collar, and the girl in the smock, will be markedly in evidence. Yes; they really do look like that. Lots of the girls have their hair cut short too.

And "Polly's"!

In many minds, "Polly's" and the Village mean one and the same thing. Certainly no one could intelligently write about the one without due and logical tribute to the other. Polly Holliday's restaurant (The Greenwich Village Inn is its formal name in the telephone book) is not incidental, but institutional. It is fixed, representative and sacred, like Police Headquarters, Trinity Church and the Stock Exchange. It is indispensable and independent. The Village could not get along without it, but the Village no longer talks about it nor advertises it. It is, in fact, so obviously a vital part of Greenwich that often enough a Greenwicher, asked to point out hostelries of peculiar interest, will forget to mention it.

"How about 'Polly's'?" you remind him.

"Oh-but 'Polly's'!" he protests wonderingly. "Why, it wouldn't be the Village at all without 'Polly's.' It-why, of course, I never thought anyone had to be told about 'Polly's'!"

His attitude will be as disconcerted as though you asked him whether he was in the habit of using air to breathe,-or was accustomed to going to bed to sleep.

Polly Holliday used to have her restaurant under the Liberal Club-where the Dutch Oven is now,-but now she has her own good-sized place on Fourth Street, and it remains, through fluctuations and fads, the most thoroughly and consistently popular Village eating place extant. It is, outwardly, not original nor superlatively striking in any way. It is a clean, bare place with paper napkins and such waits between courses as are unquestionably conducive to the encouragement of philosophic, idealistic, anarchistic and ?sthetic debates. But the food is excellent, when you get it, and the atmosphere both friendly and-let us admit frankly-inspiring. The people are interesting; they discuss interesting things. You are comfortable, and you are exhilarated. You see, quickly enough, why the Village could not possibly get along without its inn; why "Polly's" is so essential a part of its life that half the time it overlooks it. Outsiders always know about "Polly's." But the Villager?

"'Polly's'? But of course 'Polly's.'"

There it is. Of course "Polly's." "Polly's" is Greenwich Village in little; it is, in a fashion, cosmic and symbolic.

Under the Liberal Club, where "Polly's" used to be located, the "Dutch Oven," with its capacious fireplace and wholesome meals, now holds sway. The prices are reasonable, the food substantial and the atmosphere comfortable, so it is a real haven of good cheer to improvident Villagers.

The Village Kitchen on Greenwich Avenue is another place of the same sort. And Gallup's-almost the first of these "breakfast and lunch" shops-is another. They are not unlike a Childs restaurant, but with the rarefied Village air added. You eat real food in clean surroundings, as you do in Childs', but you do it to an accompaniment that is better than music-a sort of life-song, rather stirring and quite touching in its way-the Song of the Village. How can people be both reckless and deeply earnest? But the Villagers are both.

One of the oddest sights on earth is a typical "Breakfast" at "Polly's," the "Kitchen" or the "Dutch Oven," after one of the masked balls for which the Village has recently acquired such a passion. After you have been up all night in some of these mad masquerades-of which more anon-you may not, by Village convention, go home to bed. You must go to breakfast with the rest of the Villagers. And you must be prepared to face the cold, grey dawn of "the morning after" while still in your war paint and draggled finery. It is an awful ordeal. But "it's being done in the Village"!

Quite recently a new sort of eating place has sprung up in Greenwich Village-of so original and novel a character that we must investigate it in at least a few of its manifestations. Speaking for myself, I had never believed that such places could exist within sound of the "L" and a stone's throw from drug stores and offices.

But see what you think of them.

THE DUTCH

OVEN. One of the favorite eating places of the Village. Some of the famous breakfasts are given here.

II

"I can't believe that!" said Alice.

"Can't you?" the Queen said in a pitying tone. "Try again: draw a long breath and shut your eyes."

Alice laughed. "There's no use trying," she said. "One can't believe impossible things."

"I daresay you haven't had much practice," said the Queen. "When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."

-"Through the Looking Glass."

"But it can't be this!" I said. "You've made a mistake in the number!"

"It is this," declared my guide and companion. "This is where Nanni Bailey has her tea shop."

"But this is-is-isn't anything!"

Indeed the number to which my friend pointed seemed to indicate the entrance to a sort of warehouse, if it indicated anything at all. On peering through the dim and gloomy doorway, it appeared instead to be a particularly desolate-looking cellar. There were old barrels and boxes about, an expanse of general dusty mystery and, in the dingy distance, a flight of ladder-like steps leading upwards to a faint light.

"It's one of Dickens' impossible stage sets come true!" I exclaimed. "It looks as though it might be a burglars' den or somebody's back yard, but anyway, it isn't a restaurant!"

"It is too!" came back at me triumphantly. "Look at that sign!"

By the faint rays of a street light on nearby Sixth Avenue, I saw the shabby little wooden sign, "The Samovar." This extraordinary place was a restaurant after all!

We entered warily, having a vague expectation of pickpockets or rats, and climbed that ladder-I mean staircase-to what was purely and simply a loft.

But such a loft! Such a quaint, delicious, simple, picturesque apotheosis of a loft! A loft with the rough bricks whitewashed and the heavy rafters painted red; a loft with big, plain tables and a bare floor and an only slightly partitioned-off kitchenette where the hungry could descry piles of sandwiches and many coffee cups. And there in the middle of the loft was the Samovar itself, a really splendid affair, and one actually not for decorative purposes only, but for use. I had always thought samovars were for the ornamentation either of houses or foreign-atmosphere novels. But you could use this thing. I saw people go and get glasses-full of tea out of it.

Under the smoke-dimmed lights were curious, eager, interesting faces: a pale little person with red hair I recognised instantly as an actress whom I had just seen at the Provincetown Players-a Village Theatrical Company-in a tense and terribly tragic r?le. Beyond her was a white-haired man with keen eyes-a distinguished writer and socialist. A shabby poet announced to the sympathetic that he had sold something after two years of work. Immediately they set about making a real fiesta of the unusual occasion. Miss Bailey, a small, round, efficient person with nice eyes and good manners, moved about among her guests, all of whom she seemed to know. The best cheese sandwiches in New York went round. A girl in a vampire costume of grey-hooded and with long trailing sleeves-got up from her solitary place in the corner. She seemed to be wearing, beneath the theatrical garment, a kimono and bedroom slippers. Obviously she had simply drifted in for sandwiches before going to bed. She vanished down the ladder.

An hour later, we, too, climbed down the ladderish stairs, my companion and I, and as we came out into the fresh quiet of Fourth Street at midnight, I had a really odd sensation. I felt as though I had been reading a fascinating and unusual book, and had-suddenly closed it for the night.

This was one of the first of the real Village eating places which I ever knew. Perhaps that is why it comes first to my memory as I write. I do not know that it is more representative or more interesting than others. But it was worth going back to.

Yet, after all, it isn't the food and drink, nor yet the unusual surroundings, that bring you back to these places. It's the-well, one has to use, once in a while, the hard-worked and generally inappropriate word "atmosphere." Like "temperament" and "individuality" and the rest of the writer-folk's old reliables, "atmosphere" is too often only a makeshift, a lazy way of expressing something you won't take the trouble to define more expressively. Dick says in "The Light That Failed" that an old device for an unskilful artist is to stick a superfluous bunch of flowers somewhere in a picture where it will cover up bad drawing. I'm afraid writers are apt to use stock phrases in the same meretricious fashion.

But this is a fact just the same. Nearly all the Greenwich Village places really have atmosphere. You can be cynical about it, or frown at it, or do anything you like about it, but it's there, and it's the real thing. It's an absolute essence and ether which you feel intensely and breathe necessarily, but which no one can put quite definitely into the concrete form of words. I have heard of liquid or solidified air, but that's a scientific experiment, and who wants to try scientific experiments on the Village which we all love?

"But such an amount of play-acting and pose!" I hear someone complain, referring to the Village with contemptuous irritation. "They pretend to be seeking after truth and liberty of thought, and that sort of thing, and yet they are steeped in artificiality."

Yes, to a certain extent that is true-true of a portion of the Village, at any rate, and a certain percentage of the Villagers. But even if it is true, it is the sort of truth that needs only a bit of understanding to make us tender and tolerant instead of scornful and hard. My dear lady, you who complained of the "play-acting," and you other who, agreeing with her, see in the whimsies and pretenses in Our Village only a spectacle of cheap affectation and artifice, have you lived so long and yet do not know that the play-acting instinct is one of the most universal of all instincts-the very first developed, and the very last, I truly believe, to die in our faded bodies? From the moment when we try to play ball with sunbeams through those intermediate years wherein we imagine ourselves everything on earth that we are not, down to those last days of all, when we live, all furtive and unsuspected, a secret life of the spirit-either a life of remembrance or a life of imagination visualising what we have wanted and have missed,-what do we do but pretend,-make believe,-pose, if you will? When we are little we pretend to be knights and ladies, pirates and fairy princesses, soldiers and Red Cross nurses, and sailors and hunters and explorers. We people the window boxes with elves and pixies and the dark corners with Red Indians and bears. The commonplace world about us is not truly commonplace, since our fancy, still fresh from eternity, can transform three dusty shrubs into an enchanted forest, and an automobile into the most deliciously formidable of the Dragon Family. A bit later, our pretending is done more cautiously. We do not confess our shy flights of imagination: we take a prosaic outward pose, and try not to advertise the fact that our geese wear (to our eyes) swans' plumage, and that our individual r?les are (to our own view) always those of heroes and heroines. No one of us but mentally sees himself or herself doing something which is as impracticable as cloud-riding. No one of us but dreams of the impossible and in a shamefaced, almost clandestine, fashion pictures it and lingers over it. All make-believe, you see, only we hate to admit it! The different thing about Greenwich is that there they do admit it, quite a number of them. They accept the pretending, play-acting spirit as a perfectly natural-no, as an inevitable-part of life, and, with a certain whimsical seriousness, not unlike that of real children, they provide for it. You know children can make believe, know that it is make believe, yet enjoy it all the more for that. So can the Villagers. Hence, places like-let us say, as an example-"The Pirate's Den."

It is a very real pirate's den, lighted only by candles. A coffin casts a shadow, and there is a regulation "Jolly Roger," a black flag ornamented with skull and crossbones. Grim? Surely, but even a healthy-minded child will play at gruesome and ghoulish games once in a while.

There is a Dead Man's Chest too,-and if you open it you will find a ladder leading down into mysterious depths unknown. If you are very adventurous you will climb down and bump your head against the cellar ceiling and inspect what is going to be a subterranean grotto as soon as it can be fitted up. You climb up again and sit in the dim, smoky little room and look about you. It is the most perfect pirate's den you can imagine. On the walls hang huge casks and kegs and wine bottles in their straw covers,-all the signs manual of past and future orgies. Yet the "Pirate's Den" is "dry"-straw-dry, brick-dry - as dry as the Sahara. If you want a "drink" the well-mannered "cut-throat" who serves you will give you a mighty mug of ginger ale or sarsaparilla. And if you are a real Villager and can still play at being a real pirate, you drink it without a smile, and solemnly consider it real red wine filched at the edge of the cutlass from captured merchantmen on the high seas. On the big, dark centre table is carefully drawn the map of "Treasure Island."

The pirate who serves you (incidentally he writes poetry and helps to edit a magazine among other things) apologises for the lack of a Stevensonian parrot.

"A chap we know is going to bring one back from the South Sea Islands," he declares seriously. "And we are going to teach it to say, 'Pieces of eight! Pieces of eight!'"

If, while you are at the "Pirate's Den" you care to climb a rickety, but enchanted staircase outside the old building (it's pre-Revolutionary, you know) you will come to the "Aladdin Shop"-where coffee and Oriental sweets are specialties. It is a riot of strange and beautiful colour-vivid and Eastern and utterly intoxicating. A very talented and picturesque Villager has painted every inch of it himself, including the mysterious-looking Arabian gentleman in brilliantly hued wood, who sits cross-legged luring you into the little place of magic. The wrought iron brackets on the wall are patches of vivid tints; the curtains at the windows are colour-dissonances, fascinating and bizarre. As usual there is candlelight. And, as usual, there is the same delicious spirit of seriously and whole-heartedly playing the game. While you are there you are in the East. If it isn't the East to you, you can go away-back to Philistia.

And speaking of candlelight. I went into the poets' favourite "Will o' the Wisp" tea shop once and found the gas-jet lighted! The young girl in charge jumped up, much embarrassed, and turned it out.

"I'm so sorry!" she apologised. "But I wanted to see just a moment, and lighted it!"

I peered at her face in the ghostly candlelight. It was entirely and unmistakably earnest.

Just the same, Mrs. Browning's warning that "colours seen by candlelight do not look the same by day" is not truly applicable to these Village shrines. Even under the searching beams of a slanting, summer afternoon sun, they are adorable. Go and see if you don't believe this.

Then take the "Mad Hatter's." The entrance alone is a monument to the make-believe capabilities of the Village. Scrawled on the stone wall beside the steps that lead down to the little basement tea room, is an inscription in chalk. It looks like anything but English. But if you held a looking-glass up to it you would find that it is "Down the Rabbit Hole" written backward! Now, if you know your "Alice" as well as you should, you will recall delightedly her dash after the White Rabbit which brought her to Wonderland, and, incidentally, to the Mad Tea Party.

You go in to the little room where Villagers are drinking tea, and the proprietress approaches to take your order. She is a good-looking young woman dressed in a bizarre red and blue effect, not unlike one of the Queens, but she prefers to be known as the "Dormouse"-not, however, that she shows the slightest tendency to fall asleep.

On the wall is scribbled, "'There's plenty of room,' said Alice."

The people around you seem only pleasantly mad, not dangerously so. There is a girl with an enchanting scrap of a monkey; there is a youth with a manuscript and a pile of cigarette butts. The great thing here once more is that they are taking their little play and their little stage with a heavenly seriousness, all of them. You expect somebody to produce a set of flamingos at any moment and start a game of croquet among the tiny tables.

Not all of the Greenwich restaurants have definite individual characters to maintain consistently. Sometimes it is just a general spirit of picturesqueness, of adventure, that they are trying to keep up. The "Mouse Trap," except for the trap hanging outside and a mouse scrawled in chalk on the wall of the entry, carries out no particular suggestion either of traps or mice. But take a look at the proprietress (Rita they call her), with her gorgeous Titian hair and delft-blue apron; at her son Sidney, fair, limp, slim, English-voiced, with a deft way of pouring after-dinner coffee, and hair the colour of corn. They are obviously play-acting and enjoying it.

Ask Rita her nationality. She will fix you with eyes utterly devoid of a twinkle and answer: "I? I am part Scotch terrier, and part Spanish mongrel, but mostly mermaid!"

Rita goes to the sideboard to cut someone a slice of good-looking pie. She overhears a reference to the "Candlestick," a little eating place chiefly remarkable for its vegetables and poetesses.

"If they eat nothing but vegetables no wonder they take to poetry," is her comment. But still she does not smile. If you giggle, as every child knows, you spoil the game. They laugh heartily enough and often enough down in the Village, but they never laugh at the Village itself,-not because they take it so reverentially, but because they know how to make believe altogether too well.

Let me whisper here that the most fascinating hour in the "Mouse Trap" is in the late afternoon, when no one is there, and the ebony hand-maiden in the big back kitchen is taking the fat, delicious-smelling cakes from the oven. Drop in some afternoon and sniff the fragrance that suggests your childhood and "sponge-cake day." You will feel that it is a trap no sane mouse would ever think of leaving! On a table beside you is a slate with, obviously, the day's specials:

"Spice cakes.

Chocolate cake.

Strawberry tarts with whipped cream."

And still as you peep through the door at the back you see more and still more goodies coming hot and fresh and enticing from the oven. White cakes, golden cakes, delicately browned pies,-if you are dieting by any chance you flee temptation and leave the "Mouse Trap" behind you.

It would be impossible to give even an approximately complete inventory of the representative places of the Village. I have had to content myself with some dozen or so examples,-recorded almost haphazard, for the most part, but as I believe, more or less typical, take them all in all, of the Village eating place in its varied and rather curious manifestations.

Then there is a charming shop presided over by a pretty girl with the inevitable smock and braided hair, where tea is served in order to entice you to buy carved and painted trifles.

And then there is, or was, the place kept by Polly's brother, which was heartlessly raided by the police, and much maligned, not to say libelled, by the newspapers.

And then there was and is the "Hell Hole." Its ancient distinction used to be that it was one of the first cheap Bohemian places where women could smoke, and that it was always open. When all the other resorts closed for the night you repaired to the "Hell Hole." As to the smoking, it has taken a good while for New York to allow its Bohemian women this privilege, though society leaders have enjoyed it for ages. We all know that though most fashionable hotels permitted their feminine guests to smoke, the Haymarket of dubious memory always tabooed the custom to the bitter end!

The "Hell Hole" has always stoutly approved of cigarettes, so all honour to it! And many a happy small-hours party has brought up there to top off the night in peace without having to keep an eye on the clock.

There is a little story told about one of these restaurants of which I have been writing-never mind which. A visiting Englishman on his way from his boat to his hotel dropped in at a certain place for a drink. He found the company congenial and drifted into a little game which further interested him. It was a perfectly straight game, and he was a perfectly good sport. He stayed there two weeks. No: I shall not state what the place was. But I think the story is true.

Personally, I don't blame the Englishman. Even shorn of the charm of a game of chance, there is many a place in Greenwich Village which might easily capture a susceptible temperament-not merely for weeks, but for years!

The last of the tea shops is the "Wigwam," in which, take note, it is the Indian game that is played. Its avowed aim is "Tea and Dancing," and it is exceedingly proud of its floor. It lives in the second story of what, for over fifty years, has been the old Sheridan Square Tavern, and its proprietors are the Mosses,-poet, editor and incidental "pirate" on one side of the house; and designer of enchanting "art clothes" on the other. Lew Kirby Parrish, no less, has made the decorations, and he told me that the walls were grey with Indian decorations, and the ceiling a "live colour." I discovered that that meant a vivid, happy orange.

The spirit of the play is always kept in the Village. Let us take the opening night of the "Wigwam" as a case in point.

The Indian note is supreme. It is not only the splendid line drawings of Indian chiefs, forming the panels of the room-those mysterious and impressive shades created by the imagination of Lew Parrish-it is the general mood. Only candles are burning,-big, fat candles, giving, in the aggregate, a magical radiance.

The victrola at the end of the room begins to play a curious Indian air with an uneven, fascinating, syncopated rhythm. A graceful girl in Indian dress glides in and places a single candle on the floor, squatting before it in a circle of dim, yellow light.

She lifts her dark head with its heavy band about the brows and shades her eyes with her hand. You see remote places, far, pale horizons, desert regions of sand. There are empty skies overhead, instead of the "live-colour" ceiling. With an agile movement, she rises and begins to dance about the candle, and you know that to her it is a little campfire; it is that to you, too, for the moment. Something like the west wind blows her fringed dress; there is a dream as old as life in her eyes.

Faster and faster she dances about the candle, until at last she sinks beside it and with a strange sure gesture-puts it out.

Silence and the dark. The prairie fades.... The little dark-wood tables with their flowers and candles begin to glow again; the next musical number is a popular one step!...

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