The Way of Musette

How the Outcome was Rather Bewildering When a Sensible Young Lady was Asked to Take Part and use Her Influence in Winning Over a Player From an Opposing Football Team.

Dorothea Deaken in Appleton’s Magazine July 1 1908

The Way of Musette

How the Outcome was Rather Bewildering When a Sensible Young Lady was Asked to Take Part and use Her Influence in Winning Over a Player From an Opposing Football Team.

Dorothea Deaken in Appleton’s Magazine July 1 1908

The Way of Musette

How the Outcome was Rather Bewildering When a Sensible Young Lady was Asked to Take Part and use Her Influence in Winning Over a Player From an Opposing Football Team.

Dorothea Deaken in Appleton’s Magazine

BILL, why does this cloud overhang your bright young brow?" Bill sighed. He is tall and fair

and broad-shouldered and twenty-two, and football mad. He thinks he knows the world and human nature.

‘Tm worried to death, Molly.”

“O Bill! What about?”

“The club,” said he, sadly. “You remember how well we did last year?”

I didn’t ; but what matter.

“Of course,” said I.

“We’re rotten this season. We haven’t a man in the team who can play fullback. Last year we had Morgan, but he's gone back to Cardiff, just like a beastly Welshman.”

“But if his home’s there?” I objected mildly.

“Ugh! It’s sickening. We’ve got a much heavier lot of fixtures now, and we shall just be swamped. Think of the Bollington Rovers, for instance. They’ll simply wipe the ground with us-”

“I hope not,” said I, feelingly.

He dropped into an easy chair and plunged his hands into his pockets.

“Look here, Molly,” he burst out; “you’re always a good friend to a chap.”

My spirits fell.

“You’re going to ask me to do something unpleasant,” said I, warmly. “I won’t do it, Bill ; it’s no good. It’s because I’m not pretty that everyone thinks I’m good-natured. I’ve been driven into being good friends to too manv young men and—”

He stared at me in surprise.

“I’ve always thought of you as being the most unselfish girl I know,” said he ; “and

so when I was in trouble I naturally turned to you for help.”

“Everyone does,” said I. in quiet exasperation. “Oh, go on!”

He turned his eyes on the fire.

“It’s this way,” he said, slowly. “There’s a chap called Alexander—I don’t suppose you know him, but he used to be at the grammar school here, and he’s just down from Oxford, and he’s a ripping good fullback. He's on the trial for the county already, and he’s played twice for Medlingham. I don’t know how they got hold of him, I’m sure; but he’ll join them as sure

as blazes if-•”

“Bill!”

“I beg your pardon,” said he, hastily ; “but you see my point. I’ve been to him about it, and Wuthers tackled him in the club the other day, and Alexander said he knew most of the Medlingham chaps, and liked ’em, and he liked their ground and clubhouse better than ours, and thought on the whole he’d prefer to throw in his lot with them. He’s a pigheaded, domineering sort of beggar. The kind of man —well, the more you want him to, the more he won’t, don’t you know?”

“I know,” said I. sympathetically. What could he want me to do here? Bill sat upright and regarded me uneasily.

“We came to the conclusion, Wuthers and I, that the only possible chance of getting Alexander was to leave him quite alone ourselves, and persuade some woman to get at him.”

“Bill!” So this was what he wanted. “You’re a sensible girl, Molly. Don’t you think it’s a good plan?”

“If you think,” said I, indignantly, “that

I am going to try to influence a perfectly

strange young man-”

Bill stared.

“You don’t think I meant you?” he cried in unfaltering amazement.

I collapsed and returned his stare blankly.

“Oh, no!” said he, hastily. “What we thought, Wuthers and I, was that we must get some pretty, fetching kind of girl with winning ways-"

“I see,” said I, slowly. “Thank you, Bill.”

“Like that little Miss Meadows,” he pursued, blindly. “Musette they call her. She could wheedle a horse’s hind leg off, I believe. At least, Wuthers says so. He’s been refused by her seven times. He knows her pretty well.” ,

“He seems to,” said I, coldly. “Would you have liked it, I ask you?”

“You know her, too, don’t vou, Molly?”

“Yes,” said I, slowly, “I was at school with her. Certainly I know her.”

“Then what do you think of the idea?” “I think,” said I, “that Musette Meadows can do most things. Oh, yes !” “There!” cried he, triumphant. “You must talk her round, Molly, and get her to tackle Alexander. Those strong-willed, pigheaded chaps are often like wax with a pretty girl, aren’t they?”

“Very often.” said I ; “but why not ask her yourself, Bill?”

He flushed.

“I hardlv know her,” he said, “and besides—it’s dangerous. Girls have a way of misconstruing a friendly interest, you see. You’ve got to be jolly careful that they don’t fall in love with you, don’t you know ? A man doesn’t want to make a girl unhappy, unless he’s an awful brute.”

The overwhelming conceit of this took my breath away. I smiled a little then, remembering, as I did with a rush, Musette’s smile, Musette’s eyes, and lips and hair.

“You’re a nice, modest boy, Bill,” I said, kindly. “I’d do a good deal to oblige you, but here I think you had better use your own influence. A woman is but a woman, after all, and what will the persuasions of a poor, brown, little thing like me be beside your handsome youth and gallant bearing? You see, if Alexander is to be influenced by a pretty girl, the prettv girl must be influ-

enced in turn by a pretty boy. It’s plain logic.”

Bill moved his feet uneasily.

“For the honor of the club, Bill,” I reminded him.

He said nothing.

“The honor of the town,” said I. “What is danger, or difficulty when so much is at stake?”

Still he was silent.

“Ah, you’ve got no esprit-de-corps !” This moved him.

“You don’t understand,” said he, fiercely. “I’ve got into scrapes before by being too nice to a girl. I’ve had the greatest difficulty in preventing myself from getting engaged several times, I can tell you.”

“It should be easier now after so much practice.”

The sarcasm was wasted on him.

“Do you refuse to help me, Molly?”

“I am helping you by my valuable advice.”

“You won’t talk to Musette?”

“Only because I know you’ll do it so much better yourself, Bill.”

“Then good-by.”

He flung away in a huff, and I looked at my brown reflection in the glass and sighed. It isn’t alwavs as nice as you might think to be a useful friend. On Monday he came again, boiling over with indignation.

“Molly, you are selfish-”

“Of course I am. I’m glad you’re beginning to see it.”

“I tried that brute Alexander again yesterday. Met him at the Glovers’ in the afternoon, and asked him point-blank to play for us. I was as diplomatic as I well could be, and he simply smiled and said he wanted to play for the best club, and he didn’t think much of our form. Said he had watched the match on Saturday, and had come to the conclusion that he’d better join Medlingham. Hound!”

“Oh, well,” said I, “he naturally wants the best game he can get when he isn’t playing for the county.”

“He was born in the town. He ought to stand by the town club. You wouldn’t catch me deserting it for any other. What do you think he had the cheek to ask me as he was leaving? ‘Why don’t you throw in your lot with us,’ he said, ‘instead of pottering about with a lot of incapables? We want a centre three-quarter badly.’ By

Jove, Molly, I could have punched his confounded head !”

“I’m sure you could,” said I, soothingly.

“Won’t you ask Miss Meadows to go for him, and make a fool of him and bring him here?”

“No,” said I, firmly, “I won’t. You’d do it better yourself, Bill. Try your own irresistible attractions.”

“Very well,” said he, grimly, “I will. And if that girl’s unhappy afterwards when she finds that I only made myself pleasant for a purpose, she’ll have you to thank for it.”

“Oh, I’m sure she'll thank me for it!” said I, agreeably.

I didn’t see him again for a week. Then he dropped in with radiant eyes and a triumphant mouth, and told me that Wuthers’ idea had been a masterly one. Miss Meadows was the very girl to do the thing.

“She’ll do it if anyone can," said I. “Oh, yes! When did you see her?"

“I went to the Palanders’ dance on purpose to meet her. I’ve chucked dances lately, because I’m training hard: but this was a matter of business, and I went.”

“And how did you like Musette?”

"Radier a nice little girl,” he said, condescendingly. “Ripping eyes. I danced three times with her. and she asked me to call. So I went yesterday. She's awfully fond of football, and came to watch the match on Saturday. She saw what an important thing it would be to get Alexander at once. She said that she saw plainly that that was our weak spot. She’s a good sport, that girl. Used to play hockey at school.” “You disapprove of hockey, don’t you?” “It’s not a game for men,” he said, with disgust. "A good game for rough golfers, I call it. But it’s all right for girls.”

"I see,” said I. “What did Musette wear ?”

,“On Sunday? Oh, something fluffy and yellowish ! She was all pink at the dance, and her cheeks, too. But I liked her best on Sunday. Her mother was asleep in an inner drawing-room, and we had a most interesting talk.”

"Did you tell her how you’ve always been misunderstood by everyone before you met her?” I asked.

He flushed.

"She's been telling you ! I didn’t think

she was that kind of a -”

“She isn’t,” said I. “I only spoke from an extensive knowledge of young men. When are you to see her again ?”

“To-morrow. She’s to be at the White Lodge Bridge Drive.”

“I thought you thought a Bridge Drive an insult to the game?”

“It is necessary,” said Bill, with dignity, “that I should speak to Miss Meadows at once about Alexander.”

“I see.” said I, gently: and: “Well?”

I asked when he came again two days later.

“It’s all right. She tumbled to it at once. She’s an intelligent girl, if you like. She said she should be delighted to do anything to help the club. She’s dying to meet Alexander, and wants to begin on him without losing any more time. When I told her how obstinate he was and how it was almost impossible to make him change his mind, she just smiled and said: Tt will be worth a little trouble, won’t it?’” “What?” I asked, gravely.

“The town club, of course. Getting him for our fullback. How slow you are !” “I see,” said I. And then he went away, and I saw little of him for a long time. I met him once in the town, and he told me hastily that Musette was getting at Alex-

ander like anything, and that he, Bill, was just going to see her about it now, and in an awful hurry, and that Alexander was hopelessly smitten, as everyone could see. from the moment he first set eyes on ner, and he. for one. didn't wonder at that. It was only a question of time now. He couldn’t hold out much longer. Wasn’t she a little witch?

“Yes,” said I, sadly. “I think Musette's a little witch.”

“I never saw such eyes!” said he. rapturous.

"Oh! Bill, don’t trifle with her young affections.”

"Don't be silly.”

“You'll find yourself on the brink of one of those engagements you find it so difficult to elude.”

“I shouldn’t much mind if I did,” said he. fatuously, as he lifted his hat and left me.

I avent home, feeling cold and neglected and sadly out of the game. And I went away to stay a fortnight at the Chesters', and all the time I was away I heard nothing of any of them. When I got home mother told me that Miss Meadows was getting very much talked about in the town because she was obviously playing fast and loose with all the eligible young men available. Mother thought it a thing no nice girl should do.

“She must be having an uncommonly good time,” said I, regretfully, and I sat down and wrote a friendly little note to Bill, asking him to come and discuss developments with me.

There was no answer. Then I met him in the town, looking very confused and rather happy; but he kept the other side of the street, and did not come over to speak to me.

Was Bill offended with me? I hoped not sincerely. I had certainly done nothing that I knew of to deserve it.

At last I could bear the suspense no longer, and I went to pay my long-delayed visit to my old schoolfellow, Musette.

I met her coming down her garden path, looking like a Christmas almanac in her rose-colored cloth and brown fur. She is the kind of girl who looks sweetest in a fur toque. She has bright, thick hair and violet eyes, and has always been celebrated for the irresistibility of her smile. She kissed

me, and said I was a dear to come, and turned back with me.

“What have you been doing to my Bill?” I asked, with a laugh.

She laughed too.

“O Molly, he’s a dear boy!” she said, “and so easily influenced for his good. He’s the first centre three-quarter in the country, you know, and he was wasting all his powers on this wretched town team ; but I’ve changed all that.”

“What !” cried I.

“Oh! yes,” said she, demurely. “He's promised to play regularly for Medlingham now. He’d do anything to please me, the dear !”

I stopped and faced her, thunderstruck.

“Musette!” I cried. “Are you going to marry that boy?”

Musette laughed and blushed.

“Oh! dear no,” said she, lightly. “I’ve just got engaged to Mr. Alexander.”