Democratic watchman. (Bellefonte, Pa.) 1855-1940, November 15, 1929, Image 2

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    “Bellefonte, Pa., November 15, 1929
When all the world is young, lad,
And all the trees are green;
And every goose a swan, lad,
And every lass a queen—
Then hey for boot and horse lad,
And round the world away;
Young blood must have its course, lad,
And every dog his day.
‘When all the world is old, lad,
And all the trees are brown,
And all the sport is stale, lad,
~ And all the wheels run down—
Creep home, and take your place there,
The spent and maimed among;
God grant you find one face there
You loved when all was young.
—Charles Kingsley
_ They were talking about it again.
Spoiling their evening, numbing their
ecstasy that was born of the glitter-
ing lights and the glad, wild music.
Madeline sighed. Why must they,
always, everywhere they went? Why
couldn't they forget it once in a
while? And just have fun.
She reached over quickly and pat-
ted Johnny's sleeve. “Let's dance,
Honey. Let's forget it—tonight, any-
way. Listen to that music, will you
please 2”
She smiled. She sat erect, chin
lifted, gray eyes upturned. “Tyah-ta!
'vah-ta! Tyah-da-ta!” she breath-
e to the beat of the jazz, and
Abruptly she was grave :
quiet, and a little sheepish in the
face of Johnny's unrelenting gravity.
Her shoulders drooped. She sat fing-
ering her glass, twisting it round
and round.
“But it is nice music, Johnny.”
“Um,” he answered.
“We spent all this money to come
here tonight—if all we're going to do
is get sorry for ourselves, we might
just as well've stayed home, seems
to me.”
Johnny said nothing. He was" sit-
ting hunched forward, his arms fold-
ed, his dark glance fixed on the acre
floor where the locked couples swung
and swayed. She looked at him.
Big, beautiful Johnny. So stanch of
shoulder, so brown, so—breath-tak-
ing. So sulky now, like a spanked
small boy. She could have laughed
at him; and yet she couldn't have
laughed. Her eyes were misty, sud-
“I know,” she murmured. “I feel
the same way. But—we're young,
Johnny. We've got lots
Some day—"
“Yeah! Some day!”
His bitterness startled them both
a little; they scrutinized each other
briefly, hard. Then their eyes fell.
Madeline fumbled her glass ain
g ag ry wi subway was dank and blurry-
stirred with the straws the
bits of fruit in her lemonade.
“For two years,” Johnny said,
we've been saying, ‘Some day.’ And |
it’s no nearer now than it was two
She seéarcely heard him. She was
thinking. “Oh, what started us,
anyway? When everything was so
grand.” She remembered.
that idle remark of hers about
Mary Brokaw’s beau, and how they
were going to be married.
It was that word—married. That
The day that Johnny and Made-
line first had talked of marrying e-
mained still in her mind as the inost
hideous, most racking day of her
life. Some of youth had beea lost
that day; and some of laugater. She
never would forget it. She could see
now, clearer than the wheeling
couples or the band or ‘he gilded
walls—clearer than any tangible
and present thing—their two Llanch-
ed faces, hers and Johnny's. She
could hear Johnny's voice, over and
over: “But, PinRy—there must be
some way—"” And her own voice,
saying desperately, “Yes. But what?
I've got to take car of her. I can’t
leave her alone—any more than you
can yours. And we can’t all four
of us live together. They—they
don’t get on. So what?”
© She still could feel the first sick
shock of their realization that there
wasn’t any way. Not any way at
all, =xcept to wait.
Johnny sat marking the bare
wooden table-top with the prong of
a fork. Dully she watched. First a
scratch. Then a line. Then a little
line watched it, unblinking. Yes. Of
course. If they had money. She
thought of their spasmodic past at-
tempts to make some, to make alot
of money, ali at once. There was
that slogan contest, with prizes of
“Of course,” he said, “if we had
The little groove deepened. Made-
was, they agreed, Fate, absolutely. her hat to the corner of a chair. She
Johnny's home was nearest the looked tired. The skin, that the red
subway. They passed it on their hair kissed so prettily ‘was wan, the
loitering walk .to Madeline's: a soil. cloud-gray eyes were shadowed un-
ed brick building with a fire.escape derneath. = But she - walked with
muzzling its thin. facade. They quick, brisk little steps.
glanced at it as they passed, and “It's a shame,” she said. “Does
Madeline leaned her head hack to it hurt very bad, Momma?”
look up. High up. She was standing by the bed now,
“Your mother’s awake,” she ob- gazing anxiously down. The light
served. “There's a light.” from the room adjoining showed her
“Yeah?” mother: a mighty mound of bed-
“She always waits up for you, clothes ana a pillowed, sad pink face
. doesn’t she?” topped with a coromet of patent
“Yeah,” said Johnny. ' curlers.
They quickened their pace a little “Terrible,” whimpered Mrs. Dietz.
after that But not for long. A “Somethin’ terrible. It started
about eight o'clock, and I been in
misery ever since.” She added, “What
time is it now?”
“It’s about twelve-thirty.”
Mrs. Dietz closed her eyes and
rolled her head as far to one side as
the curlers would let it go. “I
thought you'd never come,” she said
“I'm so sorry. If I'd known—"
Mrs. Dietz’s eyes reopened. “Where
were you?”
“At a place called Juzzland.”
“Dancin’ ?”
This was plainly too much for
Mrs. Dietz. She closed her eyes
again and lay supine.
© “Well,” said Madeline, feeling guil-
ty, “anyway, I'm here now. So what
can I do? Shall I get the hot-water
bottle for your back?”
block or so, and they were saunter-
ing again. Johnny put his arm
around Madeline's waist—there be-
ing, at that hour, only one or two
stray people who didn’t matter, to
see. Madeline pulled off her hat and
it in her hand, and sometimes
her hair was blacker than the sha-
dows, and sometimes, when they
passed lighted doorways, it was red,
gleaming red with gold in it.
“Nice out,” she sighed, with her
face lifted to the wind.
“You said it.”
“Stars—and everything.”
There was a tiny silence, and then
Johnny began; “Say, I'm sorry I was
so darn low tonight, Pinky.”
“It’s all right.” ~
“I don’t know what got into me,
I swear I don’t. I just—just had the
darnedest feeling—" He shook his
of time—
years ago.” | There were not many people.
It was]
“It’s all right,” she repeated.
But it was not all right. She knew
that. He knew it. Tonight, for the
first time, they had said, “Maybe
never,” they had let themslves admit
that life might beat them afer all,
small children, had lost his job about and waiting have no end. It was not
that time. all right; for once you tasted hope-
The little groove was very deep. lessness, what quite could take the
It would stay there now, forever. taste away?
Johnny put the fork down and lean- , - They turned into Madeline's block
ed back in his chair. He shoved Without speaking again.
himself low, his hands in his pock-! The house was one of a row of
ets, his chin digging his four-in-hand sullen brownstone houses; the sixth
tie. : "iin the row from the corner—or,
“Maybe,” he said thoughtfully, more unmistakably, the one with
“one of them will marry again.” ; the second-hand furniture shop in
She wanted to weep then. Some- the basement. “P. Marek, House-
thing inside her snapped, and she | hold Furnishings Bought & Sold.”
wanted to shriek and scream. “1 | Madeline's flat was the fourth firor
can’t stand it,” she thought. “I front one. (There were two on a
can’t!” It was too heartrending. | floor.) From her windows she could
They were too pitiful, snatching look on the opposite sullen brown-
where there were no straws. | stones, on the children who hop-
She said, “Let’s go home, Johnny. | scotchd all day long in the street,
Please. I—don’t feel like this place , on the comings and goings of the
any more.” { chairs and lamps and bedsteads of
The music followed them out and P. Marek.
down the stairs, nipping at| The house had a vestibule, secret
their heels. Even on the street they | and dark, wherein Johnny and Made-
‘heard it still. “Sometimes I'm hap- | line were wont to bid each other
pPy....Sometimes I'm blue-hoo....” { lingering good nights. But tonight
They began to walk rather fast, | the vestibule was occupied. When
to lose it sooner. they opened the door there was a lit-
Two blocks north. One block tle stir, a glimpse of two faces, in
west. Then they were descending |the gloom. “Somebody would be
subway steps. Johnny held Made- ! there,” thought Madeline wearily. It
line’s elbow. They did not speak. ! was part of this night, more of its
They had hardly spoken in three | frustration. )
blocks. They shut the door again, and
stnding on the topmost brownstone
step, kissed briefly.
“So long, sweet,” Johnny said.
“Good night, Johnny dear.” :
“I love you.” {
“I love you, too.”
There seemed to be nothing fur-
ther to say. After a mute, strained
moment during which they tried to
think of something—something com-
There was that drive for subscrip-
tions to the Household Weekly.
Johnny had made sixty-three dollars
in a month, working evenings and
Saturday afternoons. But his broth-
er in Chicago, the one with the two
ight, and hollow with the strange
sepulchral hollowness of subway
stations late at night. The turns of
' the turnstile crashed, reverberated.
A fat
: black woman with a rattan suitcase,
an attendant wielding a listless long-
! handled brush, a couple on a bench,
{ holding hands. Across the tracks,
on the down-town platform, a chub- | forting, something anesthetic—they
by little boy with dangling sandals | gave it up, and Johnny mumbled,
; slept beautifully in his young fath-| “Well. Be good,” and kissed her
“er's arms. once again, and went away.
’ “Want to get weighed?” said Mrs. Phoebe Dietz, Madeline's
Other Sone 3 Jon. She should hnny. mother, was a vast pink woman
“Two—years,” Johnny repeated, He produced change from his | made pinker by rouge and vaster by
and his voice made it sound like
eons. “And look at us.” His hands
were fists inside his folded arms.
He unclenched them, and clenched
them again. “Some day—maybe,”
he said, low. “And maybe never.’
“Johnny !” Madeline cried out.
“But it’s so, isn’t it? Why should
we kid ourse—"
Her swift hand covered his mouth.
“Don’t say such things! Of course
it isn’t so! Maybe never'—why,
Johnny Sebastian, I don’t know what
you mean! Do you mean you think |
we're going to stop loving each
other? Is that it?”
pocket, spread it out on his palm,
i selected a penny. Madeline got
| weighed.
, Johnny was frowning when she
, stepped from the machine. “Hun-
idred and seven’'s not enough,” he
| said. “You used to weigh—what?
dundred and fifteen, hundred and
eighteen? Somewhere around there.”
“I was too fat,” lied Madeline.
. They stood at the edge of the
| platform, side by side, gazing down
on the gleaming cold tracks.
{ “I hear the subway company’s
going to put up rails along,” John-
iny remarked conversationally. “Too
laces and ruffles. She was a pre-
posterous woman. When you saw
her attired for the street or for the
movies—you blinked; this simply,
you felt, could not be. This riot of
color. This billow of frills. This
elephantine fluffiness.
She had married George Dietz,
printer, when she was thirty-nine.
It was very sad. But it was not as
sad as it might have been. For by the
time Mrs. Dietz was Mfiifty-nine
Madeline was twenty, and able to
support Mrs. Dietz. !
Mrs. Dietz, you see, had a Heart.
Capital H. (One no more could be-
h hook hi he d. «No. many people jumping off in front of | gin this particular Heart with a lit-
Ed > Jny hoe tad, ao, trains. Raises Cain with the serv- [tle h than one could omit to mention
then.” ice.” it altoghether.) Nobody, said Mrs.
They were silent a moment. The
forgotten music filled their ears
again; the panting, haunting horns,
and the strings that yearned and
quivered and the deep gruff mut-
ter of the drum. ‘{Some-times I'm
Under the table Madeline's foot,
an absurd toy foot with a stubby
toe and a
tapped the time.
Sometimes I'm blue-hoo...”
lofty heel and a buckle, |
She was not con-
Deitz, nobody knew just what she
suffered with her Heart. True. No-
body did—though it was certainly
not Mrs. Dietz’s fault.
Because of the Heart, Mrs. Dietz
had to be supported. The Heart was
a Bolshevist. It declined to allow:
any toiling or spinning, but insisted
upon a regime of movies, naps and
rocking-chairs. Mrs. Dietz obeyed it
to the letter. She said she was
afraid not to. Madeline, reared in
Madeline nodded. “There certainly
have been a lot lately.”
| They stared at the tracks.
“I s’pose,” Johnny said, “they do
'it—just all of a sudden. Probably
' didn’t mean to, beforehand. Prob-
ably just mean to go to Times
Square or some place, and then—it
looked so easy—"
They stared at the tracks.
“I read a story,” Madeline said,
scious of it. It was instinctive, “id a8 magazine, about a man who—
that restless foot. Like a slain did. Jumped. He meant to, though.
snake's tail. | He planned it all out.”
She took a sip of lemonade. She added after a pause, “ ‘Nick-
Pushed the glass aside. Folded .el's Worth’ it was called.”
her white lovely hands with thelac- | ‘ ‘Nickel's Worth’ eh?
quered nails on the table before ‘Yes. You see—
her. “I get it,” said Johnny.
“It’s so silly,” she said, “to talk They stared at the tracks. There,
about ‘never'—just because right far down, was the rushing red eye of
now we're not— not getting the the train,
breaks. It won't always be this Suddenly Johnny wheeled, Jerking
way of course. Something will hap- Madeline by the arm. “Come on,
pen, something—" | he commanded in a queer, thick
She stopped short. After all, voice, “let’s—buy some gum.”
what could happen, except a dire! Their train stopped. They board-
and tragic something? Only un-ed the nearest car hurriedly, grate-
thinkable solutions were possible so- fully; and sat close together on the
lutions to this problem. Something slippery yellow seat. Their hands
happening to Johnny’s mother. Or touched, gripped. The man across
something happening to hers. | the aisle had a paper with pictures
She knew that Johuny read her
mind, and that his mind read the ;
same, and she felt ashamed, and !talk about the newest pretty murder-
miserable, and angry with herself ess. Then they talked about the
and him. But there it was. There man’s feet, which were monstrous
it always was. They were poor. for such a little man; about the
They were a shipping-clerk at thir- bootleg-looking package that lay on
ty dollars a week and a manicurist | the seat beside him; about the car-
at about twenty-seven, counting tips. | cards strung in a high bright row
And they had each a dependent! above his head and on down.
mother, widowed, not very young. By that time Madeline’s color was
And there it was. back, and the ghost of madness had
She remembered two years ago, gone from Johnny's eyes, and the
when they newly knew each other; train was diving into their station.
rememberd it with wistfulnss. Life They lived in the Bronx, only
was simple, then. Paths were smooth | seven blocks apart; that is almost
You met a boy, and his eyes were | next door in New York. They had
brown and bothersome, and his hair | lived there since infancy, both of
grew down in a tiny arrow on his|them, but they had not met until
forehead. You fell in love. Blithe- they were grown, and then they had
ly. Without thinking. Without ever met at Coney Island. This fact was
once looking beyond the mext hour, | then an unfailing source of wonder.
the next breathless rendezvous. Neighbors for years—and they had
Then you began to want to get | had to go to Coney to find each oth-
married. er! They often spoke about it. It
the back. They began feverishly to
' of the newest pretty murderess on | an
the Heart tradition, was afraid not
to have her obey.
There was also, of course, that as-
sistant Bolshevist, Mrs. Dietz’s back.
“Madeline ?”’
“Home at last!”
“Yes.” .
Mrs. Dietz sighed profoundly.
From the darkened bedroom, through
parlor the sigh carried, and Made-
line, her fingers still on the inner
knob of the hall door, asked, “What
is it, Momma? Is anything the mat-
“Nothin” much. Only my back
Mrs. Dietz said tis as ole might
say, “Nothi has happened excep!
y ig a Joe god a jortad 0
Madeline's han e knob an
groped along the wall until it found
the bookcase, and the matches in the
saucer on the Hodes. Me
one on her shoe and lighted the gas.
Home sprang into view. things
of home. The oak center table with
the curly feet. The davenport of
imitation leather. The two rocking
chairs and the other chair. The
bookcase. (It held souvenirs.) The
limp net curtains that had shrunk
somewhat. The potato-colored wall-
paper. The pictures of Jesus, the
Grand Canyon, the late George
Dietz, the “Vanishing American,”
the surf at Old Orchard, Maine, Un-
der the Mistletoe,” and Colonel
Charles A. Lindbergh.
_ The room was small and stuffy, and
Madeliné opened a window first of
all. Then she moved toward the |
on the table en route and hanging |
| she said.
the open doorway and across the YO
bedroom, dropping her pocketbook ny
five thousand, three thousand, one head. “I made you feel pretty bad It's under.” “
thousand dollars. They still believed too, I guess. I should've keptitto ‘Ob. Well, can I—
that the judges had been bribed. m » But it’s cold,” said Mrs. Dietz
suddenly. She tugged, and the bed-
clothes heaved, and the hot-water
bag appeared. Mrs. Dietz lay back
as though spent with this effort, the
bag falling to the floor with a loud
glug sound.
adeline stooped for it. She cross-
ed the room, carrying it, and lighted
the gas-jet beside the huge oak bu-
reau. From a closet shelf she took
down a patent burner and a sauce-
pan, and lighted the burner and set
the pan full of the warmest water
the bathroom tap would yield—which
was lukewarm—over it.
“Now!” she said. “We'll have
some hot in a jiffy.” She returned
to the bed. “Did you try taking
those pills the doctor gave you?”
“I took three. It only says to
take two, but I took three.”
“And they haven't helped?”
The curlers wagged in piteous
“It's a shame,” said Madeline
again. “Well—would it help for me
to give your back a good rubbing?”
“Maybe,” replied Mrs. Dietz, with-
out hope.
“Turn over, then. Where's the al-
cohol 2”
“Under the wash-stand. Or no,
behind the—oh, I don’t know,” wail-
ed Mrs. Dietz, “where I put it! I'm
too sick to think!”
“I'll find it,” said Madeline.
Five minutes of rubbing revived
Mrs. Dietz somewhat. She was mov-
.{ed to conversation, difficult though
conversation was, with her face
squashed against the pillow and her
short breath shorter under Made-
line’s young hands.
“H-how’s—Johnny ?” she panted.
“Oh, fine.”
“I saw—her—s’mornin’——"
(Her was Johnny's mother.)
“Did you? Where?” asked Made-
“Market. She was—ow! Not so
hard!—buyin’ berries.”
“Was she?”
“Um. You—should ’a’ seen her.
Pokin’ and pinchin’ and—feelin’ of
every last—one in the box——Ow!”
“I'm sorry, Momma.”
“You take the breath out o’ me!”
“I'll go easier. What about Mrs.
Sebastian ?” :
“Oh, she says to me— ‘You're out
—early, ain't you? Early for you,
she says—sarcastic-like.”
Madeline went on rubbing.
“Poor white trash,” said Mrs.
Madeline went on rubbing, lips
“You say you—were to—Jazz-
land?” Mrs. Dietz queried, after a
“Have a—good time?”
Another pause, slight, almost im-
“Yes. Lovely,” said Madeline.
She was up the next morning at
half past seven, up and nearly dress-
ed, when a knock rattatted on the
front door of the flat and a high
voice called through the panel, “Mad-
eline! Hoo-o00! a-ad’line!”
“Coming,” she called back.
In the bed Mrs. Dietz stirred
drowsily. “Who's that?”
“Jewel, I guess.”
“What's she want? What time is
Madeline did not answer. She was
on her way to the door to find out
what Jewel Marek, daughter of P.
Marek, Household Furnishings
Bought and Sold, did want.
Jewel was tiny and gipsy-dark,
with teeth that flashed. ‘Hi, there,”
“Say, your fella’s on the
“Johnny 2?”
“How many fellas
“But it’s so early—"’ Madeline be-
gan. Then her puzzled scowl gave
way to a business-like expression.
“All right. I'll be right down.”
Descending the stairs, she over-
took Jewel on the third flight down.
“What do you s'pose he wants,’
she demanded, “at this hour in the
morning ?”
Jewel had no idea.
“He woke you up, didn't he?”
Madeline said sympathetically. She
sighed. “Oh, well. Some day ri
have a phone of my own.”
The Marek telephone was entirely
surrounded by Household Furnish-
ings Bought, but not yet Sold. It
stood on the top of a medicine cab-
inet, which in turn stood atop a buf-
fet, and as you talked into it you
leaned against an ice-box and rested
your foot on the rung of a baby’s
crib. That day you did, at least.
Another day you might not. Even
before you finished talking the
baby’s crib might vanish, borne off
by hairy, dirty truckman hands; and
when you went to put the telephone
pack on the medicine cabinet, you
might find you were putting it back
on a kerosene stove.
“Hello?” said Madeline. “John-
“Hullo there, sweet!”
His voice was so joyous, so jubi-
lant, that. Madeline caught her
breath. “Oh, what is it, Johnny?”
“What is what?” :
“Don’t - tease: me,” she begged.
“Something’s happened—"
“You're dog-gone right, some-
thing’s happened!” crowed Johnny.
“But I won't tell you over the phone.
I want to see your face when I tell
you. Listen. How soon you going
to start for work?”
“Why, about the
“Can’t you start any sooner?”
‘Ill try. But I've got to get
breakfast, and get Momma fixed,
and all.”
“Hurry, then I'll wait for you by
the steps.”
He was there at eight-thirty,
when she came out; teetering there
on the curbstone, whistling blithely,
with his back to her and his hands in
his trousers pockets. She knew an
instant’s pang of tenderness, poign-
ant, exquisite. He was such a kid...
She stole up behind him and linked
her arm in his. laughing at his in-
voluntary start. “Don’t run,” she
said. “It’s only me.”
She had never seen him so happy.
She stood looking up at him, at the
radiance of his face and the hint of
glory in his eyes; and gradually her
laughter died, and a certain vague
terror was born. This thing that
usual time.
had happened, whatever it was—
would it last? Was it sure? Be-
cause if not—if anything went
wrong, when he looked like this—
She felt a little sick.
She said, “Tell me what's happen-
ed, Johnny. Tell me now.”
“Wait till you hear!”
“I can’t,” she whispered, white-
Johnny, blind with his own glee,
noticed nothing. He unhooked his
arm from hers and took her arm
with his hand; he began to pilot her
along the sidewalk.
“Well,” he said, “first let me ask
you something.” He was pretending
to be solemn, trying, as he would
have put it, to “keep a stra’ ght face.”
He cleared his throat. “Supposing
you and I got married—oh, say that
about September first? Would you
like that?”
(This was the twenty-third of
“September—September first?”
Johnny nodded.
“You mean”—her fingers dug his
wrists—*“you mean, this coming Sep-
tember ?”
Johnny nodded again.
“Tell me! Oh, go on!”
She had forgotten fear. There was
nothing now in her mind but eager-
ness, and the dawn of a joy that
matched his.
“We can do it!” Johnny cried, and
she ‘believed him. “We can—and
we're going to!” He turned on her.
He was almost shouting. “You hear
that? We're going to get married!”
“Yes!” breathed Madeline. “Yes!”
She knew. It was so. Details
didn’t matter, how didn’t matter.
They were going to get married.
They stood there on the pavement
in front of a fruit-stand, staring
shining-eyed at one another: the
long broad boy in the shabby suit
and the little Titian girl. They were
all alone. Shapes drifted past them,
voices murmured, but they were all
alone in the world.
Madeline thought, “September.
Eight’ more days of July. August—
let’s see, ‘Thirty days hath’—‘all the
rest have thirty-one’—thirty-one and
“Thirty-nine,” she said aloud.
“Right!” roared Johnny.
They moved away, presently, from
the fruitstand. They had not seen
it at all. For years to come the
odor of fresh peaches would trouble
Madeline vaguely; she would not
knnow why.
Walking along slowly, very close
together, oblivious and sunlit and
young, they talked things over.
, Or rather, Johnny talked, Madeline
| listened, and now and then laughed,
ia small excited laugh, like flute-
“It’s wonderful!” she kept saying.
It had to do, the wonderful news,
with old Mrs. Lane. Of all people!
Madeline had met old Mrs. Lane
but once; her recollection of her was
a recollection merely of an ear-
trumpet and constant cries of
“How? How's that?” Old Mrs.
Lane was very old. She was eighty-
some. She wore yards and yards of
greenish black, and had a little mus-
tache. She did not look at all like
an answer to prayer. But she was.
She was.
Old Mrs. Lane lived on Johnny's
street, in the little gray clapboard
house that cowered between the two
tall tenements, looking meek and
scared and countrified. It was her
house. Mr. Lane, who had been in
Heaven for years and in politics
prior to that, had left it to her.
(They said on Johnny's street that
he also had left her thousands;
Johnny’s mother thought it was
more.) Old Mrs. Lane always, since
Mr. Lane's demise, had lived by her-
self in her house. But now she was
eighty-some. Stairs were harder to
climb now, and stoves meaner to
manage, and silences were full of
strange and frightening sounds,
“and,” said old Mrs. Lane to John-
ny’s mother, “if you want to come
, and live here and keep me company,
you kin. It won’t cost you nothin.”
Dear old Mrs. Lane!
“Isn't it the darnedest thing,”
Johnny crowed, “the way things hap.
| pen, Pinky? Just when you think
' you've reached the end of your rope
__zowie! The old luck turns. Last
‘night was last night! I could’ve
killed myself.” He laughed rather
. sheepishly. “Say, we nearly did,
' didn’t we?”
“711 say.”
Johnny shook his had. “Darn fools.
Well, anyway, here I go home from
your house, so low I'd have had to
stand on tiptoes to pata caterpillar
—and thre’s Mr. waiting up, just
back from Mrs. Lane's, with this to
spring on m! Say! Did I feel good!”
«1 know,” said Madline softly.
«Lik I feel now.” Sh was wordless
a moment, her forehead puckering |
between the thin curved brows.
“Your mother wants to do it, does
she ?”
“Crazy to! She and Mrs. Lane
are awful thick, you know.” |
Into Madeline’s mind flashed an,
animated-version of her own mother’s
| oft-repeated: “She certainly shines .
up to-that old Mrs. Lane! Guess
she ‘must think- she'll get mentioned
in the .will.”
' . “Listen,” continued Johnny.
“Here’s what we'll do. I got it all
doped out.” We'll wait till the first
of September, for three reasons. One
is, that's when I get my vacation.
We can go somewhere. Maybe”—his
voice soared—“maybe Atlantic City!
Or somewhere. Anyway, the second
reason is because I'll have to save
money, enough for the ring and the
license—and the trip. I'm a little
short right now. Some bills I owe.
And then besides we got to give Ma
time. She thinks it'll take her about
a month to get moved and pull up
stakes and all. We don’t want to
rush her.”
“No,” agreed Madeline. :
“So September’s about right, don't
you think?”
“September’s said
“So then we’ll get married, and
then we'll go on the trip. And you'll
give up your flat, and we'll get some
new furniture and stuff for my place,
and—and live there! You and me.
And your mother, too, of course,” he
amended, fro slightly.
“You don’t mind, do you, Johnny?
Awfully ?”
a i No, of course not. Look!”
ohnny, changing the subject.
“Look what's across the lee
It was old Mrs. Lane's little clap-
board house, grown all at once in-
teresting and dear. They gazed at
it. Their footsteps slackened. Made-
line thought, “Funny I never noticed
that cupola thing. And those cur-
tains.” ;
_She said, peering, “There’s—isn’t
that her in the window?”
“I guess so,” Johnny answered, al-
so peering. “It's something black,
“I think” said Madeline slowly—
“don’t you think we sort of ought
to go over and—and speak to her?”
“Well,” doubtfully. “What'd we
Madeline didn’t quite know. It
would not do, of course, to thank
old Mrs. Lane for taking Johnny's
mother off their hands—hardly.
“We'll go some other time,” decid-
ed Johnny. “We're late enough
now as it is.”
He spoke truly. It was twenty
minutes after nine when Madeline
finally reached the Broadway beauty
shop where she workea. Her first
client of the morning had been wait-
ing nineteen minutes, and had not
liked it at all. But she did not say
so. There was something about Mad-
eline’s face that day that made it
impossible to scold her, just as it
is impossible to scold a flower, or a
star, or a singing bird.
The day was an average beauty-
shop day, no better, no worse. There
was the smell of soap and steam
and the faint oily smell of hair.
There was the hiss of water, and
the drier’s hot whine, and the rattle
of marcelling irons. There was the
bustle of slender white-clad girls,
| the cacophony of conversations.
Every half-hour there were ten
new fingrs on the little pad in front
of Madeline. Every half-hour she
smiled, “How-do-you-do?” and took
her nickel bowl with the paper frill
inside to the back room for new
soapy water; returned, and set the
bowl down, and picked up the file,
and said, “Pointed? Do you want
them any shorter?” She worked well.
She made neat rosy nails out of nails
that had been neither. And she nev-
er really saw a single nail.
At twelve, on her way to luncheon,
she called up Johnny from a pay-
station. “I don’t know why I'm call-
ing,” she told him amusedly. “IL
haven't a thing to say.”
They talked for twelve minutes.
Her luncheon was a cup of cocoa
with beady whipped cream and a
cream-cheese-and jelly sandwich. Net
expenditure: forty cents. She had
three dollars and seventy-four cents
in her pocktbook after the check was
paid. This must feed her and trans-
port her all the rest of the week.
On her way back to the beauty
shop she stopped and bought a sev-
en-dollar chiffon chemise. Three dol-
lars down. s
Curiously enuogh, it was the
thought that chemise—but wait. I
go ahead of myself.
July had been ripped from Made-
line's calendar and scrunched into a
ball and thrown away, and nine of
the days in August had been crossed
out with pencil crosses, when old
Mrs. Lane abruptly died.
She died in the morning. At least,
they found her in morning, lying
very still in bed, with a set of teeth
grinning in half a glass of water on
the table by the bedside. Johnny
heard before noon. His mother tele-
phoned him. But Madeline had hours
of grace, and did not hear a word
till evening. ’
Johnny came. She heard him on the
stairs, and the dish-rag and the
platter with the yellow poppies om
it slipped back into the water and
were drowned, while Madeline ran to
dry her hands and touch her nose
with powder. “And I'll always,” she
vowed to the mirror, “look nice when
No shiny nose or curlers
he comes.
when I'm married, any more
She had the door open before he
reached .it; was standing on the
threshhold, vivid head ducked for-
ward. “Slow-poke!” she called him.
And laughed caressingly. And pull-
ed his head down so she could kiss
him, using his ears for handles.
‘“‘Momma’s out” she said, when the
door was closed. “She’s gone to the
movies. Honey, don’t put your hat
there—one of us'll sit on it, sure.”
She moved the hat; laid it on the
table, her fingers lingering along its
brim. She seated herself on the
davenport and patted the leather be-
side her.
“Park,” she directed. She survey-
ed him maternally. “You look done
He nodded, evading her eyes.
“Make my place,” said Madeline.
Her place was the curve of his
arm when he leaned back sideways
in his corner. He arranged this, and
Madeline snuggled in, so that her
nk left ear lay over his heart.
“Now!” she sighed. “Go on. What
was so tough about it?”
“About today?”
(Continued on page 3, Col. 4.)