PUTTING ONE OVER ON HUBBY
Being Another of the Peter and Pokey Adventures
NORMA PHILLIPS MUIR
PETER absolutely refuses any responsibility for what happende and yet, morally he is as much to blame as i am. if he hadn't been so stubborn about my buying nothing but flatheeled shoes, it would never have he says he had good reason for acting as he did, and that if I had been wearing sensible shoes i would not have shamed him.
The whole argument started owr my taking up the collection in the centre aisle on Missionary Sunday. One Suruiav a vea*, the women do the ushering and take up the collection in our church, and all the loose money on the plates that day goes to the Women's Missionary Society, and I was one of those chosen, but Peter didr:': approx e of the Society's choice.
Lord knows what you'll pull before the Service is over," he gToaned. “I'll give you a thank offering of ten dollars if you'll forget this ushering
"For me or the heathen?” I asked. “Same thing." he said despondently. "Are you on?”
No.” I retorted. "It is my duty and I'm going to do it.”
I did, and I wished that I'd taken Peter's offer. Everything xvent along fine until I turned to hand the full collection plate to the side aisle usher, but just as I stepped forward, my French heel caught in a loose piece of the matting and threw me.
I went skyrooting into the president and knocked her plate out of her hand, and the folks in the front pew all got showers of blessings most unexpectedly. There was only one thing to do. and I faked a faint and was carried into the x-estry. I waited and waited for Peter, but he didn't come, and when I sreaked out and went home Pansy told be had come in quite a while ago. and had taken the car out. sating he wouldn't be
back for dinner
ID was really quite annoyed and blamed the whole affair on my high heels, when in reality it was the shabby matting which was at fault. He told me I was not to buy any more French heeled shoes, and as I had my eye on a pair of grey suede colonials with cut steel buckles, his edict nearly broke my heart.
"I'll only wpar them for parties, not bn the street or to church or hardly at ail.” I pleaded, but Peter was ada-
"They're ruining your feet, anyway,” he contended; “your arches are beginning to fall, and in justice to yourself I refuse to buy you any more silly shoes. That’s final.” Lately Peter has acquired a certain fatherly attitude which I don't quite appreciate when he aims it at me. "Don't speak like that to me.“ I stormed. “What do
you think you're doing? Practising on me so you’ll be perfect for Teddy and Toddy?”
"Just because you happen to have two children doesn’t necessarily mean that with maternity you achieved a sudden accession of wisdom,” retaliated Peter. ‘T am your lawful protector, and I guess if I see you running into danger I can snatch you from it.”
"Honk! Honk!” I squealed. “Just snatch once and see what happens. I guess I know the difference between placing with dynamite and buying pretty shoes. You
make me sick.
"Well, you aren't my infallible appetizer,” said Peter.
"I'll never go inside that church again. You’ve made a donkey of me twice, and the third time I’m not there,
"Darling, why should I try to improve on nature?” I inquired, ar.d when that had sunk in Peter made a grab for rue. ar.d when he finally caught me my hair had come down, ar.d we were both restored to good humor.
“You car. just help me pick up hair pins, you big
Anyway I’m glad I prevailed on you to let your hair grow again,” he grinned. “I won that fight, and I’ve won this too. f or—you buy any more stilt-heeled shoes, and as fas*, as you buy them I’ll have the lifts taken off, and that’s no joke either, young woman.”
“Selah, he hath spoken!” I said. “Time will show what time will do; go away now; I’ve got to get dinner or you’ll be howling with starvation next.”
That was all there was to it, in the beginning. I didn’t say anything more about the matter, trusting that Peter would forget it, but when I had saved up enough money out of my allowance, I bought those ducky grey shoes. I had sufficient sense left, however, not to show them to Peter, but hid them.
Peter came down stairs that night with such a funny expression on his face that I asked him what was troubling him. He merely said he was a Mason and couldn’t tell, but when I was getting dressed for a bridge party the next day, and was ready for my shoes—they were gone, and in their place was a card bearing these words:
“By outward show let’s not be cheated,
A child should as a child be treated,”
and to the card was pinned a ten dollar bill and a one, the amount I had paid for the shoes.
T WAS furious, for I had to wear an old pair of black shoes to the party, but I had to admit that Peter was pretty smart.
I didn’t refer to the matter that night, and although Peter wore rather a hang-dog look, I paid no attention to it, and after a while I heard the creak of the closet door, and knew that Peter was investigating. He looked guilty when he came down again, and I knew he was puzzled to know what my game was, for I had left the note and the money undisturbed. He seemed to be worrying because I had not discovered his perfidy, but I was just biding my time.
“Do you know, dear, I haven’t been feeling quite fit,” I said. “Marion Logan is going to Preston for a week. Would it be possible for me to go too? Do you think you could manage if Mother Ronald came?”
“Why sure,” he agreed, “but I’d rather have the nurse than have mother; the nurse knows all about them, and
Pansy could get my meals. Do you really feel ill, Ruth?”
“No, just sort of fagged— the hot-weather-and-sulphur-andmolasses feeling,” I said languidly. “I may not stay the full week, but a few days, you know, out in the big clean out-of-doors, and away from responsibility, and—all that sort of thing, I feel that I should come home a better wife—renewed in soul and body—a better mother—a nobler woman.”
“Have you seen a doctor?” asked Peter in alarm; “you’re keeping something from me?”
I shook my head and allowed my eyes to rest tenderly and yearningly upon him as I said:
“Some day, dearest, you’ll understand, but now, I’m too utterly weary. . . .tired to the very soul of m? All I need is rest.”
“You’ve got to see a doctor,” cried Peter. “You aren’t like yourself at all. I’m going to call Stratton in and have him go over you.”
“Aweek can’t make any difference. Peter,” I said. “I’m not seriously ill —just worn out. Wait until I come back to you again—just a week’s reprieve for my sake.”
He gave in, but the way he fussed over me and the questions he asked made me wish I had not made out quite so bad a case for myself.
“Will you write to me every day?” he asked.
“I’m going for a rest, dear,” I said, smiling gently, but there was terror in my heart. “Don’t let us write— just let me be complete unto myself for a few days.”
“Can I ’phone?” he pleaded.
“I feel that if they told me long distance was calling I would be terrified that something had happened some of you,” I said. “Don’t call me unless it is life or death—let me call you,” I added hastily as I saw defiance dawning in Peter’s face. “Every night?”-he asked. “Alternate nights,” I said. “Now
.... let me rest.”
Sunday night Peter went with me to the train and stood watching it pull out. He was so worried that my guilty heart smote me, and I leaned out of the window and called:
“I feel better already, Peter—just at the thought of the change. Don’t worry. Buddy—I’m not dead yet.”
THEN I was sorry I’d said it, for the expression on Peter’s face changed like magic, and something of suspicion shone in his eyes.
“Wish I’d let well enough alone,” I thought. “Simp, to go and change from the soulfully sad to the sprightly all of a sudden. I waited too long for him to ask questions though,” I grinned, and then I began to pick up my possessions, for we had nearly reached the suburban station which was as far as I was going. From the station I took a taxi to Betty’s house, and we promptly did a war dance together.
“You’re a peach, even if you are a little devil,” said Betty. “How’d you ever come to think it out?”
I told her about the shoe episode and how I’d vowed vengeance on Peter.
“If he ever finds out, he’ll put mein the looney coop,” I babbled, “but it’s too late for him to stop me, anyway. How about Bob?”
“Almost wept at the thought of leaving me for a week, but he had to go, and I know he won’t be back. Ruth, you are a perfect dream in that Lanvin green model.”
I knew I was—otherwise I wouldn’t have risked wrecking our happy home, but it was too good a lark to miss.
Betty and I had gone down town on a spree, and a part of our time was devoted to the trying on of French model frocks, just for the sport of seeing ourselves in them. It was really the fault of the sales-girl who had measles, for if she had been there the assistant department manager would not have served us, and so it would never have happened. It was after she had fastened me into the most chaste street frock of Lanvin green, a Rodier weave with an all-over embossed design in self tones, which fitted me so perfectly that I was verging on idiocy because I knew I could never possess it. It was marked one hundred and
sixty-five dollars, and I knew that Peter would absolutely go up in smoke if I ever paid that much for one dress.
He can rise to heights of nobility, but he told me once that there was nothing more noble than righteous wrath, and I felt confident that he would feel it was a good time to demonstrate if I fell for that dress.
“It must have been made for you, madam,” said the Delilah who had put it on me. “I hate to take it off you.” “Your suffering isn’t to be compared to mine,” I assured her, “but who are we to mock at Fate?”
She had it almost completely undone, and I know that tears of honest sorrow shone in my eyes when she suddenly began to fasten it up again.
“I have an idea,” she said excitedly. “Would you mind if I brought the manager in for a moment?”
“Why—no,” I said, “bring him in. Lord, Betty,” I added when the girl had departed, “I understand now why women steal. If I thought I had a Dutchman’s chance I’d run, but I know I’d get caught.”
At this point the girl returned with the manager, and after exclaiming at the beauty of the gown, he walked around me, asked me to walk, and then he and the girl had words in private.
“I wonder if Madam would think me presumptuous if I were to make a suggestion?” he asked finally.
DETTY and I looked at him in amazement, and I -L' signified my willingness to listen. Boiled down, and robbed of all its polite ambiguity, his proposition was that I wear the gown in the fashion show which was to be held the next week in one of the largest motion picture theatres in the city. The dress, which had been purchased especially for the fashion show from one of the French salons, had caused all sorts of difficulties, for none of the mannequins could wear it. The present rage for long skirts, with the only figure in sight the tall and willowy one, had undone the purchaser of the dress, for although it was made with the long lines which fashion demanded, it was too short for any of the mannequins to wear, and where the manager and his assistant had been nearly distracted at the thought of not being able to put the dress in the pageant, they saw in me an opportunity to fulfil the desire of their hearts.
Betty gasped when the plan was unfolded to her, but I saw in it more than just the manager’s distress. To me it opened up a vista of delight, but I carefully concealed my elation.
“I’m afraid it couldn’t be managed,” I said hesitantly. “My husband would be sure to object. It isn’t as though any one else in my own circle was going to be with me, and 1 could never carry it through without the moral support of a friend near me. I’m sorry, though I’d love to do it.” “Perhaps madam’s friend here would join her,” he suggested hopefully.
“I don’t know, I’m afraid,” I began doubtfully, but Betty was grinning with delight.
“Oh, Ruth, come on, it would be heaps of fun,” she said.
“With your hair coiffed in a new, extreme way and with the make-up on, no one would be able to recognize you,” put in the girl—“that is, if that is causing you any worry, and then too, you receive all your lingerie, shoes, hose, and gloves, and...”
“Ten dollars a day for six days— five dollars for each performance,” interrupted the manager, but I froze him with the contempt in my face.
“I couldn’t even think of taking the money,” I said coldly, “my husband would be horrified. I’m afraid we can hardly cometo an agreement.”
He bowed, and both he^and the girl looked woefully disappointed.
“Should you find a mannequin, would the gown be offered for sale afterward?” I asked.
“At any reduction?”
“It is a Madelaine et Madelaine, madam, and one of the most beautiful gowns we have,” she said shocked.
“I can’t pay so much,” I decided, and then, seeing that the manager’s eye was still upon me,
I twisted and posed and twirled before the huge mirror, in the manner most approved of by mannequins, and I knew he was weakening.
“It is a bit irregular,” began the manager, “but if you will wear that gown in the fashion show, for me, I will let you have it in lieu of the money your husband would not permit you to take. Will you accept?”
“And could I wear any other costumes—asthe^others will?” I asked.
“Two others,” he agreed, “just as the regular mannequins will, and your friend, she may do the same.”
“What do I get?” asked Betty.
“The regular pay, ten dollars a day, and shoes, hose, gloves and lingerie,” he said. “I must go -now. Miss Larkin, will you fit the ladies with the gowns you think best, and instruct them as to how they should comport themselves and where to come?” *
That’s how it happened, and that was why I pleaded an indisposition and let Peter think I was resting at Preston, for I knew he would never give permission, and I was not going to miss the chance of getting that Madelaine et Madelaine, and three pairs of shoes, stockings and gloves, to say nothing about the silken lure of lingerie.
I had been slated to wear the Lanvin green street gown with grey suede colonials, chiffon hose, long grey suede gloves, and a floppy black hat trimmed with silver foliage and coral roses. My second appearance was in an ashesof-roses flat crepe afternoon dress, with which I wore black satin pumps with rhinestone clasps on the strap, black chiffon hose, and long white kid gloves, and in the last scene I wore an opalescent sequin evening gown, silver shoes and stockings, and pearl grey gloves, and carried a purple velvet cloak with a silver fox collar. I adored the evening dress almost more than the green one, because of the train, and almost wished I’d seen it before I dickered for the other, but before the show was over I was supremely glad I hadn’t.
TT WAS Bob’s fault, the whole thing, for if he hadn’t been a perfect baby about coming home to Betty, everything would have gone according to Hoyle.
It was on Friday afternoon and Betty and I were in our negligees, resting after the afternoon show. It was almost time for tea, and we had about an hour-and-a-half before we were due back at the theatre again. I was where I could command a good view of the sidewalk for half a block and what I saw suddenly turned me cold.
“Betty—My Gosh—Peter, Bobby,” I yelled. “Yahyaha-a-a” hollered Betty, startled out of her wits. “What is it, Ruth?”
“Betty, Bobby, Peter, coming,” I shrilled, hopping around. “Hide me, Betty, for Gosh sakes, hide me!”
She took one look out the window and then she grabbed me by the shoulder and propelled me stairward.
“Beat it,” she said succinctly. “Beat it upstairs. I’ll keep them down here while you collect all your duds, and then get into the guest room and lock the door. Isn’t this awful?” she wailed as I took the stairs two at a time. “Olga,” I heard her yell, “if you tell that Mrs. Ronald is here, you’re fired, see? Not a word.”
I was tearing about the second floor, and praising the powers that Bob and Betty hadn’t a one-story house like
ours, when I heard the door open and Bob’s voice: “Darling, I couldn’t stand it any longer.”
“Oh, Bobby, I’ve missed you so.”
“Liar,” I snorted, and then I crept to the head of the stairs and peeped at Peter, standing with his head averted while Betty and Bob clinched again.
“I brought Peter up with me,” said Bob; “found him hanging around the office looking like a lost soul. Ruth is in very poor health and has had to go to a sanitarium.” “Oh Peter, poor Ruthie,” sniffled Betty, giving him her
hand. “It’s^not■ serious, is it? What is the matter?’” “I think she just needs a rest from the excitement in which she’s been living,” said Peter solemnly, and I stuck my hankie in my mouth so I wouldn’t snicker out loud.
“What are you dolled up like that for, not sick are you, pet?” asked Bob, noting Betty’s negligee.
“Not sick. . . just tired,” she smiled.
Bob looked at her queerly for a moment and then he turned away. “We want food,” he said, striding into the dining room. “Hello, two places set? Anybody coming?” “O Lord help her,” I prayed, but Betty’s voice floated up to me.
“No, Bobby, only I’ve been so lonely eating alone that I thought I’d have Olga sit with me to-night.”
“That’s Art,” I soliloquized. “I hand it to Betty.” “Want a wash, Pete?” asked Bob, and I scuttled for the guest-room and had the door locked before Peter’s foot hit the landing.
“What next?” I gasped, looking at my watch. “Betty’s got to work pretty fast, for we’ll have to be gone in an hour, and both the boys have to be out of here by that time.”
I HEARD Peter sloshing the water about in the basin, and then my heart failed me, for I remembered that my boudoir cap was hanging on the guest rack, and Peter knew that cap.
He went to the head of the stairs, and I heard him call: “Say—Betty—did you steal my wife’s cap?”
There was a moment’s silence, and then Betty cried: “We bought them together. Aren’t they ducks?”
Peter went on downstairs, and Bob came up. He washed, and then he came to the guest room door and turned the knob. It didn’t yield and he rattled it furiously.
“Olga,” he called.
No answer, and I’d have sworn that he stooped and put his eye to the keyhole, but the key was in, and I was out of range anyw’ay.
“Damned queer,” he muttered'. “I say, Betty, come here a minute, will you? Why is this door locked?” “Because I’ve something in there I want to show you when we are all alone,” she said softly.
“But I want my house coat?”
“Can’t have it,” she ruled, “can’t go in there until we are all alone, just you and I.”
“Just you and I,” echoed Bob. “Not sick, just tired, Betty, is it—Oh?y.ou darling!”
“I won’t telljfyou anything until we are alone,” reiterated ¿Betty.
“Maybe Peter’ll go early,” said Bob hopefully, and for once I was not annoyed at such a remark.
“It doesn’t make any difference,” said Betty. “I’ve got to go out for a while this evening,promised to play for Rita at a concert.”
Bob groused a bit, and I was in a bad way, for I knew what Bob thought, and I knew what Betty was in for, and consequently I nearly choked to death trying not to laugh. They went dow-n stairs, and I dressed and coiffed my hair as I had been doing it for the show, and then I waited developments— and food, for I was ravenously hungry. I had eaten, according to my usual rule, no breakfast, and as we were late starting, we had only eaten a sandwdch or two at noon, so it was with great relief I heard Betty come upstairs.
“Here, eat this, it’s all I could grab,” she laughed, and she handed me a bottle of pickles and a slab of fruit cake. “You be all ready, and when I call ‘the enemy are in retreat,’ you make your escape out the front door and I’ll see you later at the theatre. The boys are going out to see what is wrong with our perfectly good car that it won’t go. Olga has emptied the gas tank, but you’ll have made your get-away before they discover that.”
She went out and I locked the door again, put on my hat and coat, and began to devour the repast of sour pickles and fruit cake.
I had to spear the pickles w’ith the button hook, and nearly broke my jaws trying to get them around the diameter of that cake. In the midst of my troubles Betty sang out, to the tune of There’s One More River to Cross, “The enemy are in retreat,” and I stood not upon the order of my going. Putting the fruit cake under the pillow and the pickles on the window, I grabbed my purse and ran.
But things were not working according to schedule, for I had just emerged from the front door when I heard Continued on page 53
PuttingOne Over on Hubby
Continued from page 25
the car backing out of the garage and if j I didn’t qualify for Tom Longboat’s j twin sister I am grievously mistaken. I I had only reached the corner when the | car came backwards down the driveway, but it stalled there, and I knew that Olga’s work had been done in time, and j no more.
“If excitement is bad for me, I’m not long for this world,” I decided and I went into a drug store and called a taxi, which took me to the theatre so speedily that I had to wait three quarters of an hour for Betty.
“Wasn’t it rich?” she gurgled.
“If you mean the fruit cake, I didn’t get enough to judge,” I snapped. “I ate two pickles, which nearly ruined my expression for life, and then I dislocated my jaw on that cake. Who willed it to you?”
“Was it dry?” asked Betty.
“Sand is the only thing comparable,”
I stated. “I moistened it with pickle juice to avoid breaking my teeth. I’m fond of heirlooms but I do draw the line at funeral plates and century cake.”
“Don’t be mad, Ruth,” she said. “Everything is going splendidly. The boys are staying in for a quiet evening’s smoke, and I’ll phone when the show’s over to see if Peter’s gone. If he is, we can go right up, and,I’ll tell Bob you thought you couldn’t afford Preston and you came to me for a little rest and change, and that you were out for tea when he and Peter came. He’ll swallow it.”
“Sure,” I said, “he’ll swallow anything you tell him until he learns that I am the surprise instead of a collection of dainty little garments ‘soft as gossamer, and woven together with fairy stitches’.”
“Pooh to you,” said Betty sticking out her tongue. “Didn’t happen to look in the bottom drawer, did you?”
There was an embrace between us then, but we didn’t have much time to talk, as the performance was due to start in five minutes.
“To-morrow you can wire Peter that you wer« homesick and to expect you on a certain train, and then you can get on at the suburban and he will meet you at the Union,” suggested Betty.
“If it’s all the same to you, I’ll telephone him when I arrive,” I said. “The chances are that he’d board the train at the suburban in order to ride in with me, and there might be complications.”
“O.K.” agreed Betty, “there’s the call.”
In the first scene, in which I wore the Lanvin green, I had only to walk across the stage, turn around a couple of times and drift gracefully to the exit. In the second scene I was to accept a cup of tea from the hand of my hostess, who was apparently holding a straggling sort of reception, pretend to drink it, and then exit in favor of the next caller.
The last scene was the most gorgeous of all. It was an evening party, a henparty unfortunately, in a very beautiful home. We entered from the side, passed nonchalantly up a wide marble stairway, the balustrades of which were wound with ivy and roses, hand our wraps
i which we carried on our arms) to the maid at the top, and then descend leisurely, pass slowly across the stage, and mingle with the others who were to stay grouped about a big arch land fountain, until the curtain fell.
The first two scenes went off splendidly, and there was an interval of ten minutes to permit of the scenic change, and of the showing of children’s styles.
Betty and 1 changed into our evening gowns in silence, for she seemed engrossed in her own thoughts, and I was finding it hard to see straight. My head was dizzy from my enforced fast, and the pit of my stomach had acquired an uncanny habit of rising into my throat, and then dropping back into its usual location with a sickening thud.
‘‘Ruth, you’d better put a little more rouge on,” said Betty. “You look ghastly.”
“I feel it,” I admitted. “I’d be better for a drink.”
Betty went for water, and I did feel better when I had taken it; and walked across the stage to the stairs with all the sang froid in the world, and ascended their marble beauty with my train glittering behind me. Betty was at the top giving her cloak to the maid, and as she passed me she gave me a rather frightened smile and muttered: “Hang on to yourself.”
“Wonder what she means,” I pondered, and then with a set smile on my face 1 turned and began to float down the stairs. There were twenty-four steps in the flight, and I had taken only six of them when my eyes focused on a staring face in the front row, and while I watched it, fascinated, the face rose up suddenly, like a pumpkin on a pole, and I heard Peter’s voice yell:
TV /IY STOMACH hit my throat again, IV1 and I put up my hand to push it back. At the same moment my train slithered down behind me, caught in my heel, and tripped me.
“Peter,” I screamed, and then, instead of falling forward where the chances of breaking my neck and so receiving sympathy, were good, I threw myself backward in a vain effort to save myself, lost my balance, and my feet went from under me. I sat down suddenly, and then those other eighteen steps went past so quickly I couldn’t count them. I’ve been on toboggan slides, but never where the sensations were so thrilling. When I hit the bottom I thought my teeth had been jolted into my skull, and I was so jiggled and mortified that I just sat there, with my feet, in the silver slippers, stuck straight out in front of me, my train hanging over my shoulder, and my hair down over one ear, like a disconsolate Glengarry on a tipsy Highlander.
For a moment there was dead silence in the house, broken a few seconds later by the brave individual giggles, and a trickle of snickers and snorts. These incited the entire gathering to burst forth into riotous mirth, and while I sat there, paralyzed and stunned, the house rocked and roared and clapped until the curtain fell upon me, still sitting in frozen horror, with no power of locomotion left in my legs.
Just before the curtain fell Peter had risen and strode from the place of light into darkness, with his face a white mask of expressionless features, and only his eyes glowing with venom.
“There’s something coming to me,” I prophesied, but the orchestra had broken into musical mirth, and I rose stiffly, and found my way to our dressing room, where Betty sat crying.
“If you have tears, prepare to shed them now,” I advised her. “If we were about ten years younger we’d be eating off the mantel-piece for a day or two; as it is I’ll need an air cushion,” and I sat down gingerly.
“It’s all right for you; you and Peter often squabble, but Bob and I have never had a harsh word,” sobbed Betty.
“Then you’ve missed all the joy of reconciliation,” I reminded her. “Say, before you shed any more of the briny, get out of that Paquin model or Bob will have more than Peter has to rave about.”
She obeyed, and we were just nicely in our street clothes when the boys appeared, and the fight was on.
I held out my arms to Peter, but he ignored their appeal, and motioned to my hat.
“Put that on and come home,” he said sternly.
“Yes, my lord,” I said humbly. “Betty, if Bob gets rough call the police, and on no account offer to divide the spoils. Peter, dear, I hurt my foot when I fell; will you loan me your cane?”
HE HANDED it to me, still silent, and I hobbled to the car and, still in silence, we began the drive home.
“Nice way to spend a quite evening, reading and smoking,” I remarked to the atmosphere. “I wonder how many you’ve spent this way since I went away.” Peter didn’t reply but he looked worried.
“Regular stage-door Johnny I’ll bet,”
Still no answer.
“Well, I can always earn my living if I have to,” I said in self comfort. “I don’t have to stop being a model tomorrow.”
“You’ve stopped already,” announced Peter.
“News from home!” I said. “Is that so?”
“Yes, it is,” he said, “and next time I’ll know enough to let the kids take care of themselves and hire a nurse for you.” “Why not ask a few questions as to how it happened,” I suggested. “Maybe you’d feel better if you knew that no one knows my own name, and that nobody but my own husband could have recognized me in that coiffure and make up. Also I shall net two hundred and forty dollars for what you saw me do to-night.”
“Dear at double the figure,” he said cruelly. “I mean the acrobatic part of it. Do you really get that much, Ruth?” “Well—I get the equivalent of it,” I said. “That gown I wore in the first act is valued at one hundred and sixty-five dollars, then I get the three pairs of pumps at twelve dollars a pair, three pairs of stockings at four dollars a throw, the gloves cost five dollars for the one pair and six for the others, that’s another twelve, and the undies cost twelve.” “What’s Betty get?” he asked, and when I told him he wanted to know what the difference was between her act and mine that I should cull so much more.
“The difference between brains with bonniness, and those without,” I said modestly, and then I told him the whole story, and he had to laugh.
“You are a perfect disgrace,” he said, “but honestly I can’t help laughing at the nerve of you, and also at the memory of you coming dotvn those stairs like a baby on an ironing board.”
“Nothing so smooth,” I said. “How’ve you got along without me?”
“Missed you heaps,” he said uneasily. “By the way, have those heels got stilts, or are they low?”
“They’ve got stilts and they’re going to keep them,” I said. “I’ll forgive you if you do me, but—”
“What’ve Í done?” asked Peter, and the very innocence of his voice was against him.
“I don’t know, but I’ll find out,” I promised.
I allowed Peter to carry me in and put me on the seat in the hall. “Just sit there a minute, honey,” he said; “I want to get a book.”
He disappeared into the living room, and I followed him stealthily, and saw him shove something under the chesterfield.
“Tut, tut,” I said. “Mus’n’t do that/’ Peter swung around, but I got there first and hauled out a new case of roker chips. Moreover my Moorecroft bowl was full of cigarette butts.
“About those heels. ...” I began.
“Oh, all right,” said Peter. “Break your neck if you like'.”
“It won’t be from stumbling over any Welcome mat you hang out,” I retorted. “Kiss Mamma and smile.”
Peter obligingly displayed his teeth. “Some day. . . . ” he began,
“Some day soon,” I interrupted, “you are going to doll all up and take me on a spree in keeping with that green dress. Until then. . . . ”
“Yes?” interrogated my husband. “Until then I am going to recline in easy chairs and enjoy the contrast which the green makes with the colors I know myself to be—namely, black and blue.” And that was no lie, either.
Another Peter and Pokey story will appear in an early issue.