FICTION

IDOLS of the KING

In which Blissful Fifteen flutters from crush to crash in one uneasy lesson

FRANCES TRAUT December 15 1940
FICTION

IDOLS of the KING

In which Blissful Fifteen flutters from crush to crash in one uneasy lesson

FRANCES TRAUT December 15 1940

IDOLS of the KING

FICTION

In which Blissful Fifteen flutters from crush to crash in one uneasy lesson

FRANCES TRAUT

HONEY FIELDING regarded her English teacher dreamily, and decided that he ought to be a movie star. Honestly, he was simply super. Even his name, Clive King, was romantic. His crisply curling blond hair and deep blue eyes were simply made for a lover's part.

Honey was something of an amateur Thespian herself, and usually had the lead in all the school plays as befitted the most popular girl in West Plains High. She imagined herself in her hero's arms, begging him not to go to war and leave her. 1 íe would tip back her head gently and murmur. “There, my darling, don’t cry. Remember, it will lxonly for a little while and my country needs me.” He would be simply stunning in his uniform, and she, Honey, would be wearing something long and floating . . .

“Class is dismissed.” Mr. King in the flesh was saying, and Honey reluctantly came back to the prosaic surroundings of the present.

The three masculine members of the class, Messrs. Jamie Bates. Butch Evans and Pinky Steele, rose with alacrity. Football season was in full swing and they had urgent business on the field. They had small patience with all this sappy stuff about King Arthur and his knights. Maybe this was a snap course, but it certainly was a dumb one.

Jamie Bates paused at Honey’s desk. “Hurry up and meet us at the south entrance.” he urged, “we’re goin’ over to the field to watch the team practice.”

Honey ignored him coldly. Time was when she would have accepted such an invitation eagerly. But that was before she had discovered The Finer Things In Life. Those dumb lx>ys thought of nothing but baseball and football and what team would win. As though it mattered ! What did they know about the really worth-while things, such as poetry fr instance? Roughnecks, thought Honey scornfully as the three men of sport clattered from the room.

The rest of the class, all feminine, had remained seated. These fifteen damsels gazed worshipfully at their teacher. Their decorum would have amazed their parents, for respect, nay, reverence, was in every eye; romance beat in every heart.

Mr King eyed them uneasily. He knew what they were waiting for, and he had promised Madge he would be home as soon as school was over and help her paint the kitchen. Now he was in for another long after-school session with these kids. No other teacher, he thought resentfully, ever had to stay until four o’clock, going over work. He didn't dream that his good looks and kindly manner were responsible. He was an earnest young man. intent on being a good teacher.

Honey gathered her books and papers together with meticulous care, watching meanwhile out of the corner of lier eye the activities around Mr. King's desk. A covey of damsels hovered about it. eagerly consulting him about various jxiints that seemed to bailie them. Honey had nothing but scorn for such obvious machinations. As though Mr. King couldn't see through them! They knew all the answers. Just trying to get Ins attention, gushing all over the place like that. Disgusting!

Honey managed to occupy her time with filling her already overflowing fountain pen, sharpening her pencils, scratching a bit of paste off her notebook, until the last fluttering maiden had taken reluctant leave. She then rose and walked slowly toward the door.

Just before she reached it, however, she paused and turned as though she had forgotten something. Mr. King appeared to be deeply occupied, sorting papers on his desk. Nothing daunted. Honey chiqx-d brightly. “Oh, Mr. King, 1 almost forgot. 1 wanted to ask you something special. Wouldn’t it’ve been drippy of me if I’d walked out after waiting all this time? Mother says I’m so absent-minded

that she doesn’t know how I ever remember anything.” She didn't mention the fact that her mother had indeed said that, but rattier more strongly.

Mr. King smiled feebly. “Yes. Helen? What was it that you wanted to ask me? I’ve just been discussing parts of the assignment, and if you had come up with the other girls you could have—”

“Oh, no. Mr. King,” Honey assured him earnestly, “I understand all about my lesson. I always pay attention in class and never pass notes around like some of those other girls. It's no wonder they never know anything. All they do is give the boys the eye and giggle all the time. / think there's more in life than the attraction ot the other sex, don't you, Mr. King?”

Honey had been the recipient of that very accusation only last week, when one of her harassed teachers had caught her red-handed, receiving a note. Honey had tossed it off airily at the time, with the observation that that old sourpuss was just jealous. She prob’ly never got a note from a boy in her whole life.

Honey continued: “I think that it’s perfectly all right for a girl and boy to be good friends, but this sappy love stuff is all wet. I mean like the friendship—like Lancelot and Guinevere f'r instance.”

“Yes, 1 know.” interrupted Mr. King hastily, his eye on the clock. “But you wanted to ask me something.” “Well”—Honey suddenly discovered an infinitesimal spot on her pleated skirt and started to scratch at it with her fingernail—"the class is giving a tea for the teachers

next month and I was wondering if you—well. I'd like to have you go with me.” she hurried on. “Everybody is asking a teacher. There'll be ice cream and cake too.” and Honey raised serious blue eyes.

“Why. that will be very nice.” Mr. King smiled his assent. “1 would like very much to go. I hadn't heard anything about it at the last teachers’ meeting, but—”

“Oh. we only decided on it yesterday,” interrupted Honey quickly. “I mean our committee. It's—it's sort of a secret yet. I mean, we can ask our teachers first, if you see what I mean, and I thought that maybe, well

Mr. King grinned. “Well, that’s mighty thoughtful of you. Helen, and I appreciate the honor.”

“I thought you'd like to go with me on account of we have so much in common," Honey went on. “You know, like liking ‘The Idylls of the King’ and—and everything.” she finished blushing.

“Er—yes.” agreed Mr. King nervously. “And now, if you'll excuse me ...”

“Oh, sure.” Honey was gracious. “I guess I got to be going myself. Well, g'by.”

She walked home in a happy trance, lier thoughts far from the pleasant streets of West Plains. The glory of the oaks in the autumn splendor, the golden wealth of the maples, was lost on her. She lived in a dream world of her own. A world when knighthood was in flower; for Honey was in the throes of her first crush.

Her attitude toward the world in general was gentle and vague, and it was only last night that her father had

remarked that he could stand just so much and no more. What the devil was the matter with the kid anyway, he had demanded irritably of his wife? Mrs. Fielding had laughed. “She’ll get over it. George. She’s fallen in love with her English teacher, and at fifteen that’s very serious. He is very good-looking and she’s got him all mixed up with ‘The Idylls of the King.’ She thinks he’s Sir Galahad. As a matter of fact, he's married. Marian Richards was telling me the other day that she had met his wife at a tea and she's charming.”

“I should think that that would rub off some of the glamour.” George Fielding had growled.

“Oh. no,” his wife had assured him. “The Kings don’t live in town you know, and none of these children have ever seen his wife. They are convinced that she’s a harridan and that he is desperately unhappy. I guess there isn't a girl in that class who doesn't think that she’s his escape from his Mistaken Choice.”

“Well, do something about it, can’t you? I’ve had enough of this nonsense. Why do they have to cram these youngsters full of this romantic stuff, anyway? Sir Galahad!” And Mr. Fielding had retired indignantly behind the sports page.

Mrs. Fielding was thinking about this conversation the next afternoon, as Honey strolled negligently into the living room.

“Helen!” she addressed her offspring sternly, "do you know what time it is?”

“Time?” Honey glanced vaguely at her mother and

aimed her books at a table. A geometry splayed on the floor. Honey ignored it. She tossed her reversible coat on a chair and threw herself on the couch in an attitude of complete abandon.

“What did you say. mater?” she enquired, returning her attention to her exasperated parent.

Mrs. Fielding eyed her child with a sort of calm despair.

"I asked you.” she repeated, "do you know what time it is?”

“Oh, about fourish. 1 guess.” Honey waved toward the clock. “Why?”

“Only that you had an appointment with the dentist for three-thirty. I reminded you again this morning and you—”

“Oh. that.” Honey waved this aside as negligible. “I guess 1 forgot. Well. I can go tomorrow.”

“Certainly,” agreed her mother, a shade too heartily. “Dr. Dennis won’t mind at all. He hasn’t any other patients to consider and can just change his time around to suit you. Incidentally, he charges for unkept appointments.”

Honey explained with weary patience: “I had to see Mr. King after school. It was vurry important. And I had to wait for all those dumb do{xs to get through going over their lessons with him. Honestly. I should think he'd get sick and tired listening to ’em. I mean, ‘The Idylls of the King’ are nothing you can explain. You just sort of feel them." she added tensely.

“If you would spend a little more time on your I-atin instead of feeling ‘The Idylls of the King.’ it might be more to the point.” Mrs. Fielding observed.

"Well"—Honey’s tone was aggrieved—"you're always telling me that I don't take enough interest in my work, and then, when I do. you bawl me out. And English is a vurry important subject. A lot more im|X>rt.ant than dumb old Latin. Nobody talks it, anyway. But in English you learn to appreciate good books and—”

“And Mr. King’s teaching it makes it even more important.” finished Mrs. Fielding dryly.

THAT has absolutely nothing to do with it.” Honey s]x>ke with dignity. “He makes the subject int’resting. Latin! Who cares about roots of words!”

She changed the subject abruptly. “Mr. King is going to i he class tea with me. Isn’t that mellow?”

"Oh. so your committee has decided to ask the teachers after all?”

"Well”—Honey appeared to be slightly embarrassed“I'm going to tell ’em tomorrow. After all.” tfhe added, as if to Balve her conscience, “I’m chairman and I guess I can have some privileges.”

Mrs. Fielding bent an inscrutable look upon her daughter. “How would you like me to invite Mr. King fordinner that night? The tea will probably be over fairly late and he has quite a long drive home. Your father has never met him and 1 'm sure that he would like to."

Honey bounced up. "Oh, mater! That would be simply super. I ’ll ask him. first thing tomorrow."

Mrs. Fielding's smile seemed to convey the effect of canary feathers around the corners of her mouth. “No. dear,” she said gently, “I’ll call up Mrs. King tomorrow."

“Oh”—Honey’s enthusiasm suffered a slight setback— “do you have to ask that old thing? Everybody knows that lie simply loathes her.”

"Helen!” Mrs. Fielding reprimanded her sternly.

“Oh. mother,” said Honey impatiently, “you’re so oldfashioned.”

Mrs. Fielding let that pass. She was user! to being relegated to the Dark Ages. ‘‘I’ll call up Mrs. King.” she said briskly, reverting to the business on hand. “And in the meantime you can plan what you’d like for dinner that night.”

"1 don't know why you have to drag that old sourpuss in on this party." grumbled Honey. “Daddy goes out without you lots of times.”

“Not to a private dinner party,” said her mother firmly. “But perhaps she won’t be able to come.”

Honey brightened. “I never thought of that. I bet he’ll tell her that it’s just an ole business dinner he has to go to and that she wouldn’t like it.”

“No doubt.” agreed Mrs. Fielding dryly.

At that moment thunderous footsteps could be heard upon the porch and a slightly off-key rendition of "Yah, Yah. Yah. Said the Little Fox” smote upon their ears. Master James Henry Bates. Junior, with the familiarity of having lived next door all his life, pounded into the living room.

“Howdoyoudo. Mrs. Fielding.” he greeted the mistress of the house politely. “It's a lovely day, isn’t it?” His salutation toward Honey was more informal. “Hiya. dope —oh. excuse me. I mean Lady Gwendolyn Vere de Vere.” He swept an imaginary hat from his head and appeared to lay something on the floor. “Allow me to spread my poor coat for you to wipe your dirty shoes on. And I pray, fair lady, that 1 may wear your hair ribbon on my helmet.” "Shut up." Honey told her would-be cavalier rudely. “I suppose you think you’re just a scream.”

Continued on page 35

Continued from page 15—Starts on page 14

“Nay, she rebuffs me!” and James Henry smote his forehead dramatically.

Mrs. Fielding appeared to be choking and hastily left the room.

“Your mother isn't sick, is she?” enquired James Henry anxiously.

“No," replied Honey coldly, “but she doesn't have to look at you, like I do. I sh'd think you'd at least put on some decent clothes when you call on a lady.” Her glance disapproved his not-too-new sweater and slightly soiled slacks.

James Henry grinned. “I’m not calling on your mother, dearie. And I bet even Handsome Harry doesn’t look so hot when he’s home. Boy! What a sad apple ! What you dames can fall for is beyond me.”

“If you mean Mr. King,” said Honey haughtily, “he is not a sad apple. He’s a perfect gentleman. He’s polite and cultured —”

“Yah!” jeered James Henry, “cultured! ‘Now let us study the rhythm and color words in the next passage,’ ” he mimicked.

“Just because you’re too dumb to appreciate the—the finer things in life!” Honey’s tone was scathing.

James Henry howled derisively. “The finer things in life! Say, that’s a hot one! Well, I got fifteen cents and I could appreciate a soda, right about now. Want to come? We can get two straws.”

But Honey resisted temptation nobly. “No, thanks, I got work todo.”

“Oh, sure,” he winked broadly. “I bet you’ll spend hours on your Latin, so’s you’ll get at least a C. That’s better than the D you had last month, that I heard old Doyle bawling you out for.”

“I’ll thank you kindly to mind your own business, Mister James Henry Bates, Junior,” said Honey furiously. “I guess your own marks aren’t so hot that you can go around criticizing other people’s. I never heard of you getting an A in anything.”

“That’s because I’m no old teacher’s pet.” he retorted grinning. “Well, so long. I’ll be seein’ ya.” He opened the door and turned. “Whyn’t you get your Mr. King to buy you a soda some time, Angel Face? I bet he’d love to —yeah !” He quickly shut the door to avoid the cushion which I Ioney had thrown.

THE DAY of the tea dawned bright and clear. Honey arose at her mother’s first call and spent a leisurely hour dressing. She couldn’t quite make up her mind whether to wear her new rose wool dress with the broad blue belt or her last year’s tweed suit, which was really pretty sharp, especially with her new striped blouse. The only trouble was that she’d have to keep on her jacket, with its big racoon collar, to show off the suit to its best advantage. And that might be pretty hot, indoors.

She decided in favor of the rose wool. Her brown and white saddle shoes, usually a dingy grey, gleamed snowy white. Honey had spent a half hour on them the night before. She combed her hair with care and regarded her nails pridefully. They were a startling crimson. True, they were sadly bitten, but she felt that the polish more than made up for the ragged edges. If only her mother wouldn’t make a fuss about the color! She touched her lips lightly with lipstick—she could always add more later on—and descended to the breakfast table.

Mr. Fielding regarded his pretty daughter over his morning paper. “Well, well,” he began jovially, “you look very sweet this morning. I understand we are having guests tonight. Mother tells me that Mr. and Mrs. King are doing us the honor of dining with us.”

Honey helped herself to bacon and eggs and addressed her mother. “I thought you said that Mrs. King couldn’t come, mom. You said—”

“I know,” Mrs. Fielding interrupted

hastily, “but she called up last night and said that she might possibly be able to come, if she could make arrangements.” “Oh. well”—Honey was cheerful—“she prob’ly can’t. And look. Dad, you mustn’t make a lot a wisecracks, like you usually do. You know, Mr. King is kind of dignified and —and he might not understand.” “I promise to do you proud, my dear,” her father assured her solemnly. “I wouldn’t give Mr. King the wrong impression of your family, for anything. I won’t'have to talk in verse, I take it, so that he’ll be able to understand me.”

“Oh, dad,” wailed Honey, “there you go. I just know you’ll—”

“Daddy’s only teasing,” Mrs. Fielding soothed her. “Eat your breakfast, dear. George,” she addressed her spouse, “don’t forget to call up the insurance man and the oil company. Oh, yes, and will you stop at Keller’s on your way home and get two dozen of their small cakes? They make such delicious ones.”

Honey contemplated her parents with a gentle sort of pity. Poor things! She guessed they were happy enough, in their sordid, domestic sort of way. Heretofore she had never really given a great deal of thought to the actual state of connubial bliss. But since Romance had entered her life the casual relationship between her parents really grated on her soul. True love, she thought dreamily, as she walked slowly to school, should never be reduced to such sordid things as oil companies and getting cakes. It should remain on the higher planes of the More Perfect Life. Just what that might constitute was a little vague in Honey’s mind, but she contemplated such bliss pleasantly.

Her best friend, Marjorie Richards, met Honey at the school entrance. “Darling,” breathed Marjorie, “you look simply super in that dress. I adore the belt. I wore my new one today, too. Look!” She threw back her coat. “Isn’t it neat?”

Honey nodded. “It’s sharp,” she agreed. “Only it’s all wasted on that dumb old Miss Doyle,” mourned Marjorie, as they walked through their halls of learning. “Gee, you are lucky to be taking Mr. King. I low’d you happen to get him first? Most everybody in the class asked him.” “Oh. well,” Honey smiled vaguely, “I just asked him.”

“Of course he likes you best.” asserted her friend warmly. “He’s always calling on you. I guess maybe he waited for you to ask him.”

“We have so much in common.” Honey’s tone was dreamy. “I mean, well, po’try, f’r instance. Lots of those dumb clucks just took that course because Mr. King teaches it. But I really understand it. I feel it,” she added tensely. Then, briskly, she changed her tone. “Did I tell you that Mr. King’s coming to my house for dinner tonight?”

“He isn’t!” Marjorie stood stock-still with amazement. “His wife too?”

“I don’t think so. She’s sick or something.”

“But, darling,” Marjorie reproached her friend, “why didn’t you tell me? I mean, it’s simply—”

“Well,” explained Honey hurriedly, “I wasn’t absolutely sure that he was really coming, and of course I couldn’t go around saying he was, when I wasn’t absolutely sure myself, could I?” She didn’t add that she wasn’t going to have that whole gang of dopey dames hanging around. Marge was all right, of course, but if she had known of this great event beforehand, the whole school would have benefitted by her knowledge. Marge was not noted for discretion in such matters.

rT'HE DAY passed uneventfully for -*• Honey. She dreamed pleasantly through her classes. Her teachers, mistak-

ing her rapt attitude for one of attention, smiled benignly upon her and called on those who seemed to be more interested in composing impromptu notes than in the j Pythagorean theorem or in Caesar’s march j through Gaul.

She called for Mr. King promptly at I three o’clock. Fortunately her last period ; had been a study, so that she had been able to devote a full half hour to combing and rearranging her hair and adding such last touches to her complexion as she deemed necessary. As usual, Mr. King was completely surrounded by the feminine members of his class, but today Honey felt that she had a prior claim. She plucked him out of their midst with amazing dexterity and gloated inwardly, as every envious eye followed them out of the room. Boy ! Was Mr. King something today, in his tweed suit and snazzy tie! He smelled faintly of some nice hair tonic, and as they walked along the halls he absently pulled his pipe out of his pocket. How too divine ! Those dumb boys thought they were so smart, smoking cigarettes and pretty nearly choking to death over ’em. A real man smoked a pipe!

Honey fairly radiated pride as she stood next to her Very Ideal, introducing him to what seemed to her the entire student body of West Plains High. He was her private property today, and she made sure that everyone was aware of that fact. She nearly fainted with joy when he insisted on serving her with ice cream and cake instead of letting her get it as all the other kids were doing. True, she had very little chance for any real heart-to-heart talk, but that would come later. Let these kids have their little minute with him. She had all evening.

Of course, her parents would be there, j She wished they would go to the movies or I something after dinner, so that she and ' Mr. King could really discuss poetry and things like that. Perhaps even touch lightly upon love. Well, anyway, she was lucky that her older brother, Steve, was away at college. He would have been simply impossible to have around. Honey resolved firmly to keep the conversation away from banal things like the stock market and Mom’s garden club.

Honey tried to steer Mr. King out of the side entrance as they left the school, but he genially led the way down the main staircase, smiling his good-bys, nodding to this teacher and that. Marjorie and some of her ilk were clustered on the front steps. Honey ground her teeth. She knew what was coming. It came.

“Oh, hello, there,” chirped these drips. “We were just going home.” (As though they hadn’t been waiting for hours. Honey had punxjsely delayed her departure to avoid just such a crisis.) One of them burbled, “Wasn’t it a nice party, Mr. King? Did you have a good time?”

“I thought the ice cream was simply marvellous, didn’t you, Mr. King?” asked Marjorie, anxious to stand out from the crowd.

Honey attempted to take command of the situation. “I’m afraid we’ll have to hurry,” she said firmly. “We have quite a long walk home, and it’s almost six now.”

“We don’t have to walk,” smiled Mr. King, “I have my car. Can’t we give you young ladies a lift?”

Well, honestly !

Stricken, she watched these female Judases climb in, giggling, protesting that, oh, this was too much trouble.

“Not at all,” Mr. King assured them I ixilitely. “Helen, will you sit here, next to me, and tell me where to go?”

Honey, slightly mollified, consented graciously. She allowed him to open the door and hand her in. After all, it wasn’t Mr. King’s fault that all these—these snakes-in-the-grass were lying in wait for him. She permitted herself to unbend a trifle and gave him one of her sunniest smiles. The occupants of the rear seat she ignored entirely. She made her instructions, “Now, right—now, left— straight ahead at the next comer,” so . complicated that it was impossible for Mr.

King to give any heed to the steady flow of conversation behind him.

As each damsel was delivered at her doorstep, she assumed a distinctly proprietary manner. “Oh, we loved having you,” she assured each one. It made it seem as though, well, she and Mr. King were on a date, sort of. By the time they had reached her own home she felt quite benign. Especially as they encountered James Henry arriving at his home next door on his bicycle, at the same moment. She waved cordially and had the satisfaction of seeing his face completely blank with astonishment. There, she thought, I guess that’ll hold him for a while.

X/f RS. FIELDING greeted Honey and her guest hospitably. Mr. Fielding, she said, was in the living room and would Mr. King go right in?

Honey ran upstairs quickly to adjust the arrangement of her hair, and just as she was adding a discreet touch of lipstick she heard the front door open and her mother exclaim, “Oh, I’m so glad that you could come, after all. And how nice that you brought . . . Why of course, it’s perfectly all right.” And then Mr. King’s voice. “Hello, sweetheart. Did Agnes bring you over? Here, let me hold ...” and the voices faded into the living room.

Honey frowned. Doggone it! She had to come and hom in ! And what on earth had she brought with her? A dog? Well, they needn’t think that she, Honey, was going to fuss over a dumb mutt all evening. Mrs. King was prob’1 y one of those dizzy people who had to lug her dear little pet around wherever she went. What a woman to be married to! Even if Mr. King did call her “sw’eetheart.” He had to pretend he liked her in front of other people.

“Helen!” her mother was calling. “Come on down, dear. Mrs. King is here, and dinner is almost ready.”

Polite laughter and little cries of “Oh, darling! and so well behaved,” by her mother, smote on Honey’s ears as she slowly descended the stairs. Suddenly a small wail rent the air. A baby !

Honey experienced a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach, but bravely forced herself to go into the living room. Her stricken glance fell on Mr. King—Mr. King!—in the act of rocking a loudly protesting infant in his arms. And on the couch, ensconced on a blanket lay, horror of horrors, another one ! Twdns !

She dumbly acknowledged her mother’s introduction to Mrs. King, staring meanwhile with a kind of fascinated horror at her Very Ideal. That gentleman, beaming with pride that he had succeeded in quieting his howling brat, kept making little cooing noises at it. Mrs. King, apparently oblivious to any crisis in Honey’s emotional life, w'as graciousness itself. Her small dainty person, smart in a dull gold dinner gowm, her dark hair crisply curly, she said cordially, “I am so glad to meet you, Helen. Clive has told me so much about all you girls that I feel that I already know you. What a becoming frock you are wearing! It goes so beautifully with your blond hair.”

Honey smiled automatically. At any other time she might have been flattered, but now, with her world crashing around her ears, she was in no mood for amenities. Her mother was saying, “Now, Mrs. King, if you think that these little lambs feel at home here, I’ll help you take them upstairs. We’ll put some chairs around the bed and I’m sure they’ll be snug and comfy.”

Mrs. King caught up a small satchel. “Oh, Clive and I can manage nicely, thank you. if you'll just show' us where to put the babies. Clive is used to helping me with them. He really is wonderful with them.”

Mr. King beamed fatuously. “Little Clivey knows his daddy,” he declared, competently gathering up blankets and pillows. “He always stops crying when I hold him. Chloe seems to favor her Mommy. I guess we men stick together.”

Honey heard them tiptoeing overhead,

talking in subdued tones. She had sunk down on the couch and was aimlessly fingering the evening paper. “It says fair for tomorrow and Saturday,” her father said briskly. “I guess you’ll have a good day for your game.”

Honey nodded dully. Mr. Fielding, observing her, wished uneasily that his wife would come down. He was beginning to think that perhaps this hadn’t been such a good idea after all. Honey seemed to be taking it pretty hard. At fifteen such things are tragic, and you never could tell what these youngsters might do. He tried another tack. “James Henry called you up, while you were upstairs. I told him to call later. I suppose he wants you to go to the game with him.”

Honey raised listless eyes. “Yeah, I guess so. Look dad, did you know—?” Fortunately for Mr. Fielding, the trio from upstairs chose this moment to appear. Dinner was announced, and Mrs. Fielding led the way into the dining room.

HONEY, seated next to her idol, ate her excellent soup and tasted nothing. Conversation flowed briskly around the table. Mrs. Fielding and Mrs. King discussed babies and flowers. Mr. Fielding found a kindred spirit in Mr. King as to sjx)rts and politics. Mr. King, it seemed, used to play quarterback for his team and was an ardent fan.

Honey suddenly discovered that she was hungry. She ate heartily and found that that dreadful sinking feeling in her stomach was leaving her. Fier spirits gradually lifted and hv the time the ice cream was served, she was almost gay. She wondered why James Henry had called up. She had been pretty cool toward him lately, and maybe he wasn’t going to invite her to the game and dance afterward, after all. That cat of a Leila Hyatt had been trving to edge up to him recently and she. Honey, had been loftily indifferent. What a dope she had been ! Imagine her ever thinking of Mr. King as Sir Galahad !

Why, he was just a parent! Old. settled, j nice enough in a way. but definitely on the shelf. While Jamie was—well, Jamie was Jamie and he was hers. Honey writhed inwardly at her negligence in allowing the chiselling Leila to believe herself favored.

The telephone rang and she leaped to answer it. Her parents exchanged glances as her voice floated out to them. “Of course, dope. Who’d you think it was? Saturday? Yeah, I guess so. Oh, don’t be sil! Gee, that’ll be SUJXT. Oh. I guess about nine o’clock. Okay, I’ll be seeing you.”

The rest of the evening passed pleasantly for Honey. When the time came for them to go home, she helped Mrs. King collect her sleeping offspring and deposited them gently on the back seat of the car. She bade them a cheerful good night and settled herself on the porch steps. Presently a familiar whistle sounded and James Flenry strolled over.

Mr. Fielding, comfortably stretched out in his favorite chair in the living room, glanced at his wife over the evening paj)er. The murmur of young voices came to them through the open door.

“Exit Sir Galahad,” smiled Mrs. • Fielding ruefully, meeting his eye. “Poor child, I could have cried when she came into the living room and saw those twins.

It must have been a cruel awakening for her. I almost wish I hadn’t done it.”

Her husband grinned at her. “Don’t worry, mother. She’s forgotten all about it by now. She’s probably telling James Henry in a condescending sort of way that her evening had been wasted, due to your insistence on inviting the Kings for dinner.

It was something she simply had to go through with—you know how parents are - and bow she, Honey, had been dutiful, but bored. She would much rather have spent the evening with him. ’

And Honey, her shoulder lightly touching his, was telling James Henry just that. And he, gullible male, was believing her.