In order to get a ball game going in Gibbsville, rich children had to mix with poor children, because there weren’t enough rich children of the same age. For this reason, when Julian was a boy he had friends among the rich as well as among the poor. Butch Doerflinger, with whom Julian spent a lot of his time, was the leader of the poor kids’ gang. One of the games they played was known as “Five-Finger-Grab.” It required gang members to steal things at one of Gibbsville’s two variety stores. At first Julian didn’t want to participate, but then he realized he was good at it and wanted to do it all the time. The store employees knew what the kids were doing and were waiting for the opportunity to catch them. One day Julian decided to steal a flashlight for Butch, who, in return, would steal a summer sausage from the market. The manager caught Julian and expressed surprise at the fact that Julian, a “Lantenengo Street boy” and the son of Dr. English, would engage in shoplifting. Butch kicked the manager, and he and Julian ran away. Afraid that they would be sent to a reformatory, they hopped a freight train. They were caught, turned over to the railroad police in Reading, and sent back to Gibbsville. While Butch’s father made comments about his son being “a chip off the old block” and couldn’t hide the satisfaction of having a son who was hopping trains at age twelve, Doctor English wore a heavy look. What had given him that look was Butch Doerflinger’s father’s remark about “the chip off the old block.” He was
thinking of his own life, the scrupulous, notebook honesty; the penny-watching, bill-paying, self-sacrificing honesty that had been his religion after his own father’s suicide. And that was his reward: a son who turned out be like his grandfather, a thief.
The morning after the night at the Stage Coach, Julian wakes up at nine-thirty. He gets cleaned up and goes downstairs to get a drink. Mrs. Grady, the cook, is in the kitchen, and Julian gives her a hard time. She reminds him of the party he and Caroline are hosting that evening and asks for a check for Al Grecco. Julian finishes breakfast and drives to the John Gibb Hotel. He tries to get his shoes shined, but John, the “Negro” at the shine concession, isn’t there. Julian remembers the incident with Harry two nights ago and decides to go to Harry’s office. On the way there, he meets Irma Fliegler and pretends not to recall the details of the night before. Harry is about to get on a train to New York and has no time to talk. Julian wonders whether Harry is leaving for a...
(The entire section is 1147 words.)