Democratic watchman. (Bellefonte, Pa.) 1855-1940, November 29, 1929, Image 2

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Bellefonte, Pa., November 29, 1929
SE —————
Ah yes, the choice is meagre—
Between two evils at best—
Pain is the price of living
And death is the price of rest.
Most of life is a waver
Between a smile and a sigh;
We grasp at joys that vanish,
We love and our loved ones die.
The heart, waked from its slumber
Breaks into a glad refrain
‘Which fills the soul with music;
But dies in a sob of pain.
As ore is crushed and melted
For the gold it may contain;
So is the heart made purer
In the crucible of pain.
Thus in God’s mighty workshop,.
While the years are passing by,
Hearts and souls are fashioned
For His purpose bye and bye.
Sitting by the fire in the barren
comfort of furnished chambers for
gentlemen, Michael Brayde tried to |P
understand women.
The chambers were situated in the
Jermyn Street district because
Jermyn Street above all suggests to
the wanderer from an alien shore: “I
am Memory and Torment—I an
Town; I am all that ever went with
evening dress.”
The sitting room displayed a sort
of male luxury expressed in deep
armchairs and a Chesterfield, thick
carpet, curtains of distinct richness;
unfortunately, it lacked books and
the pictures on the walls confined
themselves mostly to episodes of
the chase.
One received an impression of
ingrained dustiness such as no vac-
cuum cleaner might conquer. Mi-
chael Brayde, with his feet extended
towards the blaze and a pipe be-
tween his teeth, thought this dust
might be a fine psychical deposit
from the arid souls of transient
tenants like himself who had come
home only to find that home really
meant a big shady bungalow by an
African river in the stillness of the
bush and the blaze of the equatorial
a bitter
Outside, rain slashed
down into the icy street.
Michael Brayde glanced at his
wrist watch and observed that it
registered six-fifteen p. m.
“Half an hour,” he reflected, “be-
fore I need begin to change. Ann
said IT was to collect her at eight.
Let me see, it’s tails and a white
waistcoat nowadays, and white
gloves are not worn when dancing.
But I can’t help wondering why I
should be taking Ann out and what
I'm doing in England at all. These
modern girls are simply beyond me,
for the rest I just dont belong.”
He lay back in his chair, a tall,
lean figure with the yellowish tinge
of Africa still obvious in his face,
and harked back over the course of
his life. When war broke out he
Fag been twenty-two, still at Ox-
After two years in France and a
dose of shrapnel the old general at
the War Office who knew his father
38) suggested ihe) machinecgur) of-
were ba needed in the E
African show. y he pe
© Consequently, the rest of the war
comprised service with the King’s
African Rifles, eternal trekking
through the bush after the elusive von
Lettow, that intimate acquaintance
with the African native which led
him when peace was declared to
listen to the insistent call of Africa,
and afterward to become an assist-
2 district officer in northern Ni-
eria. ;
~ The slow process of time brought
promotion to the district officer;
England and Europe faded; life rep- | whereas of
resented merely the develo
his district, y lopment
over strange races, that queer, dif-
ficult, somehow satisfying life of the
white man administering justice in a | umbrella to the door of the dripping
black country as remote from his | taxi, directed the driver to the Carl-
And : ton and followed her into the cab.
own conventions as the moon.
then, nine months ago, his father
died and Michael succeeded to the
baronetcy and ten thousand a year.
Naturally his sense of duty led him | and is expected to do.
to resign, come home, live on the
family acres, and play the part cf
an English country gentleman.
At thirty-seven Michael felt no
call to this state of life. For thir-
teen years Africa had laid onhim
the spell of her enchantments.
His mother still ' remained at
Brayde Manor, and he couldn't very
well push her out. She was always
going and went not.
plained these furnished chambers
for gentlemen in the Jermyn Street
district, and a dinner engagement
with Ann. Michael possessed only
the faintest notion who Ann was.
Some girl temporarily linked with
some man on leave had asked her
to make a fourth, because the man
wanted to bring Michael along, and
Ann and he drifted into what rep-
resented for him a device against
boredom. And confound it, he real-
ly must get up and dress.
Michael rose, knocked out his pipe
and told himself: “In Nigeria my.
boy would just be bringing me the
first gin and bitters of the evening.
I should drink it, and perhaps an-
other, and then bathe and change
and by that time dinner would be
served. The cook would have pre-
pared exactly what I liked and the
house boys would serve it with a
sort of military precision. The sun
would have set long ago and the
lamps would glow like stars in the
dark. TI should be living a clean, or-
derly, despotic life, such as gives a
man self-respect. .
“Here I pay a ridiculous rent for
these filthy rooms, put my cuff links
in my dress shirt myself, and go
forth to entertain some come-by-
chance girl to whom, out of sheer
loneliness, I cling as if she were a
prince’s daughter. Frankly TI con-
sider these amenities expensive at
the price of a title and ten thou-
sand a ry
Ann's apartment lay in a quiet
square off the Brompton Road. She
) opened
{ . 3
him along the corridor, coat clutch | lancers, an d the schottisch!”
the semi-paternal rule |not a plaster saint
Her tactics ex-
Don’t say you're one of those men
the door herself, draped in
some delicately ethereal silk wrap-
per, a tall dark girl with impecca-
bly shingled hair, singularly pretty in
the boyish modern manner.
Her dark eyes glinted momentar-
ily at the sight of this man who
walked like a ruler, and carried the
best clothes in London as though
they were nothing more than string
and brown T. >
“Come in, Michael,” she said. “My
daily woman leaves early if I'm go-
out. I shan’t be long. We've
had the most frightful rush today
and that’s why I'm late. There are
the cigarets. Would you like a
drink ?”
He held her hand in his firm clasp,
knowing that if he had kissed her
she would have made no fuss. Un-
fortunately, six months’ residence in
England had not accustomed him to
easy kissing.
«That's all right, Ann. I booked
our table for eight-thirty and they'll
keep it anyhow. Go and paint your
face and fix your hair and put on
your best frock, because it's a foul
night and «you'll need all your com-
forts. I told the taxi driver to wait.
I won't have a drink, thanks.”
She nodded and went out. Light-
ing oneof his own cigarets he told
himself it seemed a queer world
nowadays. There she was in that
silk dressing gown, and yet she ex-
ected a man to remain unruffied
and well-behaved.
No doubt that accounted for the
female dominance he noticed every-
where; they just vetoed normal mas-
culine instincts as bad form. More-
over, she kept him waiting deliber-
ately, for of course that yarn about
a frightful rush of business deceiv-
ed no one.
He seemed to remember her tell-
ing him she was a partner in a dress-
making firm. Probably they sold
about one gown a week with luck
and would go bankrupt directly their
capital came to an end.
At this point Ann entered. She
wore a plain frock of smoke-blue
velvet marvelously cut, the skirt
short enough in front to show her
knees when she walked, its irregu-
lar hem declining to midway be-
tween knee and ankle at the back.
Her legs were perfect in the thinnest
of flesh silk stockings. Over one arm
drooped a supple gold coat with an
enormous white fox collar. She
threw down the coat, sat on the
edge of the table and asked for a
“I've been as quick as I could,
Michael, but I'm afraid the taxi
must have ticked up a fortune. We’d
better hurry before you're ruined.”
He smiled, and she liked the line
of his mouth under the cropped mus-
tache; gave her the cigaret and
lighted it. If she had known the
cause of the smile she might have
liked it less. He was thinking that |
if a lady of no reputation had ap-!
peared on the street wearing that
frock in 1914, the nearest policeman |
would have arrested her for indecen-
Via didn’t want to hurry you, Ann. |
I told the driver to wait because on
a wet night you never can get a
She stood up and he held her coat;
the tall, slender form, faintly fra-'
grant, rested in his arms for a mo- !
ment. Then she was walking beside
ed together at the waist to emphasize
the curve of breast and hip, a bead-
ed bag in which colors blended mi-
raculously against a dull-gold jewel-
ed frame dangling from one hand.
“Twenty-three or twenty-four, per-
haps, devilishly pretty, and all she
knows of me is that Pm a friend of
Jack and Jack steps out with Mary,
and Mary's her friend,” Michael was
“And if it were a fine
summer night and I owned a fast
car and suggested having supper and
dancing in Brighton, I'll bet she’d do |
it like a shot if she felt like it.
These girls have no morals or scru-
ples, yet they manage to save them-
selves by complaining that they!
thought you were a gentleman, !
course it would be just |
were a gentleman and
if any trouble
because you
Now he shepherded her under an
he took her
because that |
does in cabs!
Inside, in the gloom,
left hand in his right,
is the sort of thing one
“You've got good hands, Ann.”
«Thank heaven for something!
That's the first charming thing
you've said + so far. Hitherto, you
might have been a youth of stainless
virtue forced to take out a scarlet
woman as a penance.”
In her tone there lurked no mal-
jce: the words implied merely well-
bred comment on an interesting sit-
uation. Michael grinned because she
had come so near the truth.
“I'm not young, Ann; I'm thirty-
seven and my virtue isn’t stainless.
I'm just a poor lone man dragged
away from my life-work to become
a poky baronet on the musty prop-
erty of my forbears. I can't even
get on with _ the job because my
mother remains in occupation.
Therefore I turn to you for comfort
and you aren't to say cruel, cutting
things; you look sweet and decent—
like what we are told it is to die for
our country.”
“My dear Michael, no man would
take out any girl who looked either
sweet or decent, let alone both, and
I get taken out quite a fot. Tt isn't
only buyers and representatives of
the hook and eye industry who do it,
either. I have several gentlemen
friends unconnected with my busi-
“Darling, I adore you for your
business pose. Confess that you'd
probably be better off at this mo-
ment if you'd lived on your capital
while it lasted and then gone grace-
fully to the workhouse, instead of
investing it in a musical-comedy
frock shop.”
Ann took away her hand in order
to discipline a stray curl
“T don’t know how much unearn-
ed income you've just fallen into, my
dear, but I doubt if they paid you
more to be a commissioner in Nigeria
than 1 drew last year. My portion
of the profits came to over a thou-
sand and I only have a third share.
who have to despise a woman's
brains before they can appreciate
the rest of her, ‘cause I shall think
you stayed long enough in the bush
to get a prehistoric mind.” -
e taxi drew up -at the Carlton's
entrance, and after Michael had sur- 800d,
rendered overcoat and silk hat, he
escorted her through thelong ante-
room to their table by a wall of the
oval dining room. She slid out of
her coat, sat down and smiled at him.
“I'm only a girl, Michael, and con-
sequently a fool, but do spoil me be-
cause any fool girl loves being a
spoiled fool girl. And don’t give me nig
champagne use it's so obvious
and I'd rather have a dry Graves.”
Ann sat back and drifted on a
dreamy river of contentment while
he ordered dinner. It was so restful
to be entertained by the right kind
of man. If men only knew how es-
sential they were to a girl's enjoy-
ment of life through giving her just
the right stimulus and removing the
aching necessity of stage-managing
her own playmate, they might be-
come intolerably despotic. She said
obligingly as the wine waiter went
“Now tell me about lions and croc-
odiles and how you quelled a native
rising singe-handed by sheer person-
ality, only a woman, but men get
things done.”
«T shan’t. I'd rather tell you how
and what a jolly
retty you are,
5 and how I'm
frock you've got on,
enjoying myself.”
“his frock isn’t ‘jolly,’ my poor
friend. It's a Paris model and a
poem. One advantage I have is that
at least I display creditably the
goods I sell. I wore it for you, real-
ly. In the midst of an English win-
ter, with Christmas only a few
weeks ahead, nothing cheers up the
lonely empire-builder more than a
good frock worn bya true-blue girl
at home.”
“You mayn't believe it but I've
hardly seen any frocks since 1914.
I went straight out to Africa in 1916.
and I've spent most of my leaves
in the wilds. Queer in a way be-
cause in 1914 I rather fell for frocks
and girls and so on. However, Af-
rica teaches you simplicity of life.”
“In 1914 I was nearly nine years
old. The Great War means no more
to me than the Peninsular War or
the Wars of the Roses. No wonder
you find me so demoralizing and im-
proper, Mike. As for me, I keep a
bridle and bit on my tongue all the
time I'm with you. I keep saying
to myself: ‘Not before the child?
and I always feel I ought to shroud
myself in a long brown mackintosh
for your benefit.
«I believe pre-war people have
most peculiar ideas about the
amount of leg ought to show. Try
to realize that all my life I've never
not shown my legs. They mean ab-
solutely nothing to me.”
“Don’t be so disgustingly ungrate-
ful. They might be like that wo-
man’s over there. They'd mean
something to you then.”
The dance band began to croon ir-
resistibly. Michael invited her with
a look and she rose and gave herself
into his arms.
“Don’t be too hard on me, will
you?” she pleaded. “I know you
fearned to dance in the days when
when dancing was dancing.
ens, how I cry sometimes
realize I was born too late
When I
for the
He only laughed and held her ina
light, sure clasp, and they began to
weave gay, effortless patterns on the
parquet floor. Ann felt careless and
happy. He was rich enough to spend
money on her without any need on
her part for scruples of conscience,
and 2 had a definite appeal for her
in his detached, speculative fashion.
She felt he could take the next ship
back to Nigeria without giving her
a second thought and longed “o de-
prive him of this splendid immunity.
Besides, so far he had neither kissed
nor attempted to kics her.
“In the case of ninety-nine men | ed
out of a hundred,” she thought, “I'd
say that proved definitely that I
hadn't been a success, but then if
you aren’t a success they don't ask
you again, and this is our third
party; but Jack and Mary compli-
cated the other two. I wonder!”
They drifted back to their table.
The waiter brought coffee. Gazing
around that charming room, Michael
discovered one of the few people
whom he had troubled to rediscover,
chiefly on his mother’s account. Mrs.
Severill, who lived in the neighbor-
hood of Brayde Manor, was in
don for the little season so that her
daughter Joyce might find her feet
before being presented at one of the
next year’s courts. Mrs. Severill
smiled at him more or less approv-
Evidently Mrs. Severill had given
a party for young people and to
Michael's eyes it dropped a little.
Three dull-looking young men pre-
served a stolid attitude in the pres-
ence of Joyce and two other girls of
her vintage,
blame them.
Michael's gaze went back to Ann
and his mind became engrossed with
a queer probleni. He knew why Mrs.
Severill had given him only a condi-
tional smile. An eligible bachelor
would have been occupied better, in
her view, paying attention to Joyce.
Her experienced eye took in the per-
fection of Ann's frock, the miracle
of Ann's charm, and she asked her-
self who Ann wasand found no an-
swer to the guestion.
saw in Joyce the salt of Dorset’s
best, and could not apporve Michael's
Michael put his problem
words: :
“Why are the Anns of life, ob-
| viously an ufscrupulous race, so at-
tractive; and why are the Joyces a
virtuous sisterhood, so deadly dull?”
Then he heard Ann's voice mur-
muring gently: “Don’t rack your
poor brains any more, Michael dear.
Nobody knows where your nice
friends over there get those amazing
clothes. Give it up, and teach me to
dance like grandma instead. I par-
ticularly like this tune.”
Once more he held that smoke-
blue form in his arms, so imponder-
able, so obedient to the least hint of
guidance. She danced like a leaf be-
fore the wind.
Mrs. Severill, beneath her bland
efforts to make her party go,
thought swiftly: “I must ask him to
Lon- Welcome.
Mrs. Severill
dinner. That girl’s simply an infat-
uation. He will see that Joyce is
_ different.” Then the remorseless log-
ic of experience caused her to think
further: “He doesn’t want Joyce to
be different, and it won't do any
but I must make an effort and
so I shall ask him to dinner.”
Shortly before midnight Ann wish-
ed to be taken home. She must
consider, she said, tomorrow and the
toiler’s need of a night's rest. Cloak-
ed and powdered, she met him in the
entrance, and a moment later they
Were, gliding through the rain-swept
For a while neither spoke: Ann
sat gazing ahead at the string of
lamps along Piccadilly and Michael
sat gazing, at her profile. What, after
all, could you understand from the
expression in a girl's eyes when it
was put there specially to deceive
you? She might be thinking how
marvelous or how kind-hearted he
was, or whether she should have a
pink frock or a green frock, or a
poor fish he must be not to kiss her
when he had the chance. Well, it
was a lonely life and at least he ow-
ed it to himself not to earn the rep-
utation of being a poor fish.
Very sweetly she let herself be
kissed. He found a sort of idiomatic
tenderness about her, a desire to help
so that a beautiful rite might be per-
formed beautifully. They were rath-
er breathless kisses faintly flavored
with lipstick. He had only begun to
kiss her when the cab drew up out-
side her flat.
, She sighed, smiled and gathered
up the hand bag of miraculously
shaded beads. At the door a slim
white hand met his.
“Good night, Michael, and thanks
. ever so much. You make a delight-
ful play-fellow. You're a darned
sight younger and more frivolous
than you imagine.”
The door clicked behind her.
Heady with male righteousness
Michael steadfastly ignored the es-
sential adorableness of Ann, that
slender figure so heartbreaking in
smoke-blue velvet, that voice like a
caress, that beautifully shaped head
with its mop of shingled curls. He
remembered only her unchaperoned
appearance in a silk dressing wrap
and her idiomatic tenderness in the
taxicab when her kisses tasted faint-
ly of lipstick.
Therefore he neglected her for ten
days, refraining from manfesting
himself by even so much as a tele-
phone call and refusing to be disup-
pointed because she also gave no
sign. Subconsciously hz longed for
the moral superiority of knowing
, that she was in pursuit.
He thought cold, cruel things of
her on his way to dine with Mrs.
Severill. Tonight at least, he felt, it
would be demonstrated that blood
must tell and Joyce Severill, before
| the solid back-ground of a home and
a parent, would convince him that
j the girls of England were still sound
at heart, and replete with modesty,
| maidenliness and seemly behavior.
| Moreover, it would be pleasant to
! dine at someone’s house instead of
in a restaurant, with the port gleam-
| ing on the ancient mahogany and a
stately butler lending dignity to the
: business of eating and drinking.
| Mrs. Severill had taken a house in
Lawndes Square, and the majesty of
, that sacred neighborhood descended
on Michael as he rang the doorbell
. He still lived more or less in a Gream
| of days before the war when people
'really inhabited large houses
, kept many devoted servants. Thus
entering what he supposed to be
fairyland, he found he had arrived at
the precise moment when the coach
was turning back into a pumpkin
and the horses into mice.
The servant who took his hat and
coat struck him as a trifle quaint,
but what else can be expected of a
temporary staff hastily mobilized by
an agency? The house struck him
as dismally barren, but a wise owner
locks up the more cherished posses-
{ sions before letting his home furnish-
The guaint ser ant took Michael to
the drawing-room on the first floor,
an apartment destitute of furniture
' save for a few gilt chairs and a large |
' phonograph. Joyce and two other
. girls were dancing to the music of
| this instrument, partnered by two
‘young men in the last stages of
boredom and another man who was,
, inevitably, a retired colonel.
! Michael greeted Mrs. Severill with
| old-world politeness. Across the din
‘of the phonograph she screamed a
Presently the record on
the phonograph came to an end, the
| quaint servant arrived with a tray
"of cocktails, and the dancers flock-
ed around the cocktail tray.
Mrs. Severill introduced Michael to
Joyce and Meriel and Pamela. The
colonel exclaimed: “Ha! Pleased to
meet yer!” and the young men made
‘ mooing noises. The young ladies
Michael also greeted with old-world
politeness, causing them to seem
not only intrigued but almost alarm-
and he scarcely could ed
i A sort of butler announced dinner.
' Michael found himself between his
hostess and Joyce.
While he ate the very bad dinner
provided by a temporary cook of the
meanest intelligence, Michael arriv-
ed gradually at an estimate of the
situation. e was the prize and
Joyce had been nominated prize win-
ner. Mrs. Severill flattered him from
one side and Joyce threw herself at
him from the other. Pamela and
Meriel watched her in scarcely dis-
' guised envy.
Joyce was a healthy
young a , neither pretty nor
plain. Her high voice kept address-
ing him in a series of imperatives.
“Oh, Sir Michael, do tell me about
Africa. Oh, Sir Michael, you must
hunt this season. Oh, Sir Michael,
you've simply got to live at the Man-
or. It's practically on our doorstep.
It would be too thrilling.”
After dinner he danced with the
girls to the music of the phonograph.
They seemed so alike in their skimpy
frocks with their skimpy minds, but
each contrived to assure him with-
out putting it in so many words that
no one had bespoken her, and if his
thoughts moved in the direction of
marriage he need look no further.
Never before had he realized the
terrible result of a man-shortage. He
began to feel like a hunted animal.
Finally, at an early hour, he left.
In the
| she took it a faint color came into
morning he told himself the sitting room,
that to be alone in London is no life
for a man and departed to spend the
week-end at a South Coast town
where the golf was renowned. But
a steady rain drove him to bridge
in the clubhouse; afternoon bridge,
drinks, dinner, more bridge and
more drinks and so to bed.
more drinks and so to bed. The re-
turn journey on Monday morning
seemed a release from purgatory.
The almost affectionate attitude
of all the staff at his chambers for
gentlemen reminded him that Christ-
mas lay hardly more than a week
ahead. He supposed he would go
down to Dorset. The necessity pre-
sented itself for buying Christmas
presents, for he could not go empty-
The blatancy of the shopping
crowds in Regent Street irritated
him vaguely, and the contents of the
shop windows irritated him still
more. Who on earth wanted to buy
all this rubbish, and who first con-
ceived the idea of commercializing
Christmas? The world seemed to
have changed out of all recognition.
The Christmases he remembered
were essentially family affairs—
church in the morning, with a broth-
er and sisters and cousins and un-
cles home from the ends of the
earth, a walk through the woods in
the afternoon, and then the Christ-
mas dinner, with old stories out of
the past and old wines from dim
corners of the cellar, and improvised
games or charades afterwards. Now
the mode seemed to be to eat your
Christmas dinner in a restaurant
and dance later with a lot of wait-
ers looking on.
It was then that the idea came to
him to find a present for Ann.
He paused, almost startled at his '
own inspiration. One half of his
mind explained this apparent incon-
Ann with approval, a ridiculous pro-
ceeding in the case of a girl who
came to the door in her dressing
gown and allowed herself to be kiss-
ed in a taxi. The other half of his
mind explained this apparent in-'
consistency. . |
“True, she must be termed unsex- |B
ed and immodest, but at least she
isn’t predatory. Compare her, for in-
stance, with Joyce and Meriel and |
Pamela. They as good as proposed
to me and their mammas have pes-
tered me with invitations ever since .
that awful evening at Mrs. Severill’s.
Now Ann never attempted to pro-
pose and not one word have I heard
from her since I took her out to
dinner, over a fortnight ago. There-
fore she deserves a present even if
it only bears the resemblance of a
thank offering.”
The question as to what form the
present should take puzzled him a
little. But finally he decided: “She
has a home and she is a girl of
taste, so I will give her something
for her home.” There-upon he sought
a dealer in old silver who knew him,
and bought a pair of Georgian-sil-
ver saltcellars, frail and delicate and
Having lunched at his club he de-
cided to deliver the saltcellars in per-
son. After all, she would be at her
place of business but there resides a
a subtle compliment in the personal
delivery of a gift. Her maid would
report the fact and it might give
her pleasure.
Yet when he had climbed the stairs
to Ann’s apartment, it was she who
opened the door and uttered a cry of
“You!” she said with an intona-
tion he found difficult to describe to
himself. It seemed compounded of
satisfaction and pleasure, blended
with hesitation. “It’s very nice of you
to call to see me,” she wenton. “Do
come in, Michael. I'm glad I hap-
pened to be here.”
He entered and she closed the door.
They stood facing each other in the
tiny rectangular hall Instead of
leading the way of her sitting room
she indicated a chair and said:
“Won't you sit down? I seem al-
ways to open the front door when
you, Ann. I called to leave a Christ-
ing, you oughtn’t to open it till
see. One has to do such a lot of
shopping for Christmas.”
“Yes” he agreed. “Much of it
seems pure waste of time and mon-
ey but a little of it one enjoys. I've
enjoyed doing some shopping for
you. Ann. I called to leave a Christ-
mas present for you. Strictly speak-
ing, you oughtn't to open it till
Christmas Day.”
He offered her the parcel and as
her face.
“You're very kind, Michael, but I
didn’t think you approved of me
enough to give me a Christmas pres-
ent. I'm one of these dreadful mod-
ern girls who go out with men on
the slightest provocation.”
“Bverything’s comparative, Ann.”
“That means you've gone farther
and fared worse since I saw you.
Oh, Michael, and I thought you were
so faithful! I'm almost afraid to
open this parcel, because directly I
see what's in it I shall understand
what you really think. of me.”
She was pulling off the string and
unfolding the brown paper. When
at last she drew out the first of the
silver salt-cellars, she held it gently
in the manner of one appreciative of
beautiful things.
«You know,” she told him, “you
have charming thoughts of me some-
times. I can’t explain why, but I'd
have hated to have you give me
silk stockings, for instance. This of
course is perfect, and besides giving
me a perfect thing you've flattered
me terribly because you assume this
is the kind of present I'd like best.
Thank you ever SO much.”
Michael was thinking: “By heav-
en's mercy she isn’t going to offer
me a kiss for it If she did I'd de-
test her: that sort of thing goes with
silk stockings but not with Georgian
Aloud he said: “I'm awfully glad
you're pleased. Tt isn’t fair to give
the sort of thing TI like myself
and then despise you if it doesn’t ap-
peal to you. All the same I'd have
been disappointed.”
Ann stood fingering her treasures,
and then a smile broke over her
Michael. T feel now that I can risk
askine vou into mv sitting room.
You've been awfully good about be-
ing kept in this wretched little hall.
You see. there's something queer in
and I was afraid |
you might laugh at me if you saw
it. - Now I'm not sure you will’
“What makes you think I won't?”
Wh knows? But I'll take the
S a
She pushed open the sitting-room
door and he followed her.
The soft glow of an or ed
lamp revealed a tall Christmas tree
standing by the window. The
branches were decked with colored
glass globes, colored candles and
small toys.
“You see,” he heard Ann's voice
saying. “I ran out of crackers to tie
on the branches and so I sent out
for more. That's why I opened the
door for you. Do you think I'm 8
great baby to have a Christmas
tree, Michael?”
He shook his head. “Only this
morning I asked myself how Christ:
mas in London could have come tc
mean nothing but restaurant parties
and dancing and a concentrated ef.
fort on the part of shopkeepers fc
sell a lot of absurd things nobody
wants. Whom will you ask to yous
party, Ann?”
“Well, I know heaps of young
marrieds who aren't too well off, anc
they haven't the space and the lei
sure to arrange Christmas trees. Si
being a so-called idle spinster I haw
a party just before Christmas, anc
the kids love it and it gives thel
mothers an afternoon off and ¢
chance to look at the shops.”
“You know, Ann,” he said thought
fully, “you really are rather a dear.’
“Am I? Then if I am, will yo
do something for me? Will you bi
Father Christmas and give away th
presents? I'll get you a red gow:
and white beard and all you'll haw
to do is to sneak in quietly and pu
them on. Then TIl announce you
and when it’s all over you can sneal
out and come back as your own sel
for a badly needed drink.”
“No, Ann I'll get my red gowr
if you'll let me. That will be m;
Soiribution to the party. When i
“The day after tomorrow. Fathe
Christmas should appear at abou
“Splendid. And if I do my jo
frightfully well, would you dine wit’
me afterwards?”
“7d love to. Thank you, Michael.
As he went down the stairs here
flected ironically: “Somehow I can’
see Joyce or Meriel or Pamela havin,
a tree for the children of youn,
marrieds not quite so well-off a
Suffering acutely from the emc
tions which afflict the more nervou
burglars, Michael stole through th
| half-open door of Ann’s apartmen
and tiptoed in, under the guidance ¢
a giggling maid. From the sittin
room came a murmur of small, de
lighted voices.
Feverishly he adjusted the lon
white beard, the fur cap and th
scarlet gown sacred to Fathe
Christmas, and sat down to awa!
his summons. At last he hear
Ann’s voice saying:
“Come on, Michael. It’s zer
In her sitting room he found
charming assembly of guests, litt.
boys displaying a mixture of shynes
and truculence, little girls alread,
at the age of five or six, reproducin
the pretty assurance and exquisil
social tact of their mothers, dream
babies still harking back to the my:
terious world from which they cam
All in a moment Michael found hin
self in an old Dorsetshire mansic
with a brother and sisters ar
grown-ups uncles and cousins, evel
one of them a child either in yea:
or by temperament on account «
Instantly he became a great su
cess, so that even the smallest bak
welcomed him. He saw gratituc
in Ann's eyes. This was a new Am
Presently she allowed him to escap
to deposit the disguise in a suitca:
and return to the party merely :
some man who had strayed in o
of the cold. i
When the last mother or nur
had collected the last child Ann o
fered Michael a cocktail and sat (
the arm of a chair, weary yet u1
umphant, viewing him with consi
ering eyes.
“You were very sweet to those i
fants” she said at last. “You’
quite a different person from tl
man who took me to dine at!
Carlton. Life's very difficult.”
“You're quite a different pers:
from the girl I took to the Carlto
You ought to be ashamed of decei
ing me.”
“I deceive you? I like that!
was just what you expected me
be and then you went away despi
ing me.”
“How dare you say I despis
“But Michael, you did. You wal
ed a party girl and you asked n
and I was a party girl according
because I believe in earning my di
ner. T wore my most flippant fro
and I let you kiss me as much
u wanted to—"
“Not as much as I really want
to. .
“Some people are very greedy,
felt all your conscientious scrup
through your kisses; you were !
proaching yourself for stooping
take out a girl who permitted tk
kind of thing, and angry with 1
for permitting it.
“You cast me out of your memc
for weeks, and then in a mome
of Christian charity something mc
ed you to buy me the sort of Chri
mas present a really nice girl mig
love to have. And as you haven’
monopoly of Christian charity I f
gave you, not because of your s8
cellars but because of your bet
nature.” *
- There was a flush of shame
Michael's face because he knew
spoke the truth.
“you deliberately gave me tl
“My dear, if one’s expected to
a joy girl one is a joy girl.
doesn’t matter. I earn my ownl
ing. If I'm kissed I can alw
wash my face afterwards, exc
that one generally uses cleans
cream nowadays.
“These things don't hurt 2a
man. You think we're made of
ear but it's onlv your vanity. We
so good-natured we take our cg
from the men we're with. It’s do
T assure vou.
(Continued on page 3, Col. 5.)