50 Rapid Messenger Service. By Ritchie, John

A white-whiskered libel in the picture-papers represents the blue-suited and red-trimmed messenger boy as a human snail. Illustrated by cuts, he is shown in youth receiving an important message. An old man, with bleary eyes and the gray of extreme age on his face, is seen returning fifty or sixty years afterward with the answer, which is delivered to the grandson of the sender. This series of pictures embodies a malicious falsehood, for the messenger almost always gets back before he reaches middle age.

In the popular mind, some business man in an awful hurry twangs the mechanical jamboozle in a corner of his office, and two and a-half minutes later a winged Mercury in blue and red rushes into the room. A note is handed him, and he dashes out with a whoop and a clatter that startle the whole neighborhood. Once outside, the boy lets down gradually into a trot, which subsides into a walk that presently fetches him up in front of a theatrical bill-board, where he stagnates in open-mouthed admiration of the pink and yellow attractions of a ballet troupe. Then he drifts off into space and wanders about the universe until he gets ready to come back.

These are popular errors, which have very slight foundation in fact, for the little fellow is a very useful help in the scheme of nineteenth century civilization. At any hour of the twenty-four, in fair weather and foul, the messenger-boy may be seen trudging with sturdy legs along the street; or hanging to the tail-end of a horse-car, always with a grave and sober sense of responsibility befitting his function in the community, He never slips into the seductive opening of an alley to pitch pennies or shoot “craps.” As a rule he is active and reliable, and on the whole has a higher appreciation of duty than had the Judge who adjourned court to look at a dog fight.

Dieses Kapitel ist Teil des Buches STREET TYPES GREAT AMERICAN CITIES