ALWAYS AS ADVERTISED
Some things in this world are not “always as advertised,” but Judy Barton and Doug. Sturgis found one thing in life that is, without the shadow of a doubt.
EDEN was once believed to be a “garden eastward.” But times change and concepts with them. Now Eden has become a symbol and as such may be achieved either east or west, any time, anywhere. And so, for Judy Barton, it bloomed of a June night somewhere between Forty-third Street and Columbus Circle in New York. Bloomed somewhat after two in the morning at the moment when she was kissed by a young man of whom she knew practically nothing and who knew her no better.
They would have both protested at that, however. “Why, I have known Doug. Sturgis ever since February, when he came up to the freshman prom!” Judy would have retorted, wide-eyed at any such suggestion.
This much was true. It was also true that she knew Doug. Sturgis was something under six feet, lean, lithe and no affront to the eye; that he had on occasion played end for Princeton—with no particular mention by Walter Camp, deplorably enough—and that he had now something to do with advertising in New York.
In turn Doug, could have testified that Judy came from Connecticut,had within the last few hours graduated from Vassar and was a young woman he would do well to steer clear of. This was because she affected him in the way no eligible young br.chelor of twenty-seven living in New York and earning less than ten thousand a year ever elects to be affected.
“A young man married is a young man marred” is what every such New Yorker by birth or transfer of personal effects has graved upon his card.
And that was why Doug., after promising to be among those present, had deliberately absented himself from Judy’s graduation. It was also why, because of certain correlated emotions, he had shortly thereafter attached himself to one end of a long distance telephone call and, coming as near to getting down on his knees as a man so engaged can, had begged her to stop over in New York on her way home.
At the moment Judy had been darn good and mad at him. The temptation to discipline him had been strong. Only that would have been disciplining herself, too. “I ought to go straight home,” she had temporized. “I had a wire from father—he couldn’t get to my graduation either—and I’m rather worried.”
“It will only make a difference of a few hours—please do!” he had pleaded.
Even if Judy had been neutral she would have thrilled to something in his voice and been moved by a feminine desire to investigate. So she had succumbed.
“Great!” he had peaned. “I’ll take New York to
pieces and put it together again for you.”
And he had kept his promise. He had dined her impressively. They had finished with cigarettes, which Judy smoked decoratively—she had achieved at least that much at Yassar to show for her B.A.—and after that they had moved on to that theatrical offering which was being most discussed just then. This was certainly not the sort of a production Judy’s grandmother—or even her mother—would have had suggested to her by her young man. But times change. It was Judy herself who suggested it.
“The theatre where they put the manager in jail,” she had replied, answering Doug.’s question as to her preference as she exhaled smoke through her pretty nose.
HE HAD smiled fleetingly. He was making a last forlorn effort to persuade himself that she was wilful, perverse and spoiled—a darned little poseuse. But it was no go. She had got under his skin, become a virus in his blood. He was so far gone that cynicism no longer had value as an anti-toxin.
They were in love. But they were also in New \ ork. So they had sat through three hours, watching a glorified vaudeville show that had been staged apparently to prove that the female form remained divine. It had been after eleven when they emerged, but Broadway was prismatic with light, movement and color.
“Dance?” Doug, had suggested.
"Game!” Judy had retorted.
The crowd eddying about them had thrust them close together and for an instant he had all but kissed her provocative lips. But the moment passed. They had moved on to somewhere where something was slipped into a waiter’s hand and where there were lights, powdered Jazz—whimpering, sobbing, drugging, challenging.
They had danced until, suddenly, as their eyes met, he had crushed her to him instinctively.
“Let’s get out of here," he had said abruptly.
“Why?" she had demanded, though she knew.
He had not answered. But the touch of his fingers as he placed her evening cape over her slim shoulders had sent fresh thrills through her.
They had found a taxi. He had started to light a cigarette and then stopped short.
“Well?” he had demanded, turning toward her.
“Well—what?” she had retorted, striving for flippancy.
He reached for her impetuously, half hesitated and then plunged on—into Eden.
“You—you take an awful lot for granted,” she managed to say breathlessly.
“Too much?” he demanded.
In her eyes he read his answer.
Times change but certain customs do not. He held her very tight. Her evening cape slipped over one shoulder and her hat was jammed down over one eye. But a&both were closed, that did not matter.
They had forgotten the taxi—and its driver. The driver had not forgotten them. He yawned. Once he would have cocked one eye backward and tuned in an ear to catch the drift of things. But now it was all old stuff to him. He didn’t know whether this was the end of a love story—no cynicism intended—or just one more petting party. And he didn’t care. He merely glanced about and slackened pace.
“The Drive,” he announced laconically. “Where next?"
They came back to things temporal with a start.
“O-oh!” gasped Judy and strove to adjust her hat.
“I suppose I ought to take you back to your hotel— though I hate to,” murmured Doug.
She glanced up at him, with eyes that dilated and darkened. “I'd rather—you didn’t!” she confessed shamelessly. "But—I suppose you had better. It must be what they call all hours’ in Connecticut.”
They went back down-town. They were in love. But though he still held her close they were—again—in New York. The street lights streamed by relentlessly.
“Couldn’t you manage another day in New York?”. •uggested Doug, -wistfully.
Judy shook her pretty head. “No can do! Father would have a fit if he could see me now! I’m not supposed to be in New York—and if I was I’d be supposed to be stopping with Aunt Judith in Brooklyn. I’ll have to explain that when I get home. And you too—” She stopped short. Then: “Oh mi-gosh!” she wailed. “I’d forgotten—”
The taxi stopped. They had reached Judy’s, hotel. Doug, thrust a bill at the driver and waved him off.
“Forgotten what?” he demanded then.
“That you are—an advertising man!” she answered dolefully.
“Ever since I met you,” he retorted, “I’ve been a mighty poor one. At least that’s what the chief has been hinting. But what’s wrong with my being it—if I am?”
"Father will throw a fit!” explained Judy. “If—if he finds out that you have anything to do with advertising.”
“Which he probably will,” Doug, assured her. He looked at her, puzzled. “I may be dumb, Judy, but—”
“Father hates advertising. He says it’s a waste of money. He says it makes people spend money foolishly for things they don’t need and that it has ruined more businesses than it’s ever helped.”
“My word!” breathed Doug. “How does he get that way? What happened—did he try advertising and get ■tung?”
“No, he never would advertise. He has always said that if he couldn’t make good enough enameled ware so that people would buy it without being teased to, he’d better quit and go into something else.”
“Enameled ware? Is that what he makes?”
SHE nodded. “Barton’s Triple-Y’ear, Guaranteed—haven’t you ever heard of it?”
“Why should I if he never advertised it?” demanded Doug. He frowned. “How does he manage to sell the darned stuff anyway?”
“It’s not darned stuff,” she assured him indignantly. “It’s the best on the market. He’s proud of it—and so am I!”
“Supposing he does throw a fit,” he demanded. “You're of age—what difference does it make?”
He realized at once that it did make a whale of a difference.
“It isn’t a case of what I want to do,” protested Judy. “It’s —I don’t know how to explain.”
“You can’t,” he assured her, “if that’s the way you feel.”
No one, to see him, would have believed he had always considered marriage a catastrophe for a man in his position. He looked aggrieved, angry at this chance to escape and primed so soon for their first quarrel.
“Please be reasonable,” pleaded Judy.
The face upturned to his was so tempting and Judy herself so darned desirable that he made a mighty effort
to he. although his yoRe (Iidflt sound O~ l)e'(iflhl SO.
"Love me, love my father’s enameled
ware,” he suggested ruefully. “All right. I’ll try. But tell me some more about it. It’s great stuff and people buy it without being teased to? I’ll take my hat off to your father. Any man who can put a product across these days without advertising is a wonder.”
Judy regarded him doubtfully.
"I mean it,” he assured her. “I didn’t know it could be done.”
“I'm — I’m afraid he isn’t selling as much as he used to,” confessed Judy then. “He never says much about business at home, but I think he’s worried a lot these last few years, and I know that he feels very bitter about people shifting to aluminum pots and kettles. He says advertising put that notion into their heads.”
“I’ll admit it did,” said Doug, grimly. “Why doesn’t he make aluminum ware and get on the bandwagon?”
“Because he believes enameled ware is better — wears longer and costs less.”
“My word!” commented Doug. “I didn’t know that—”
HE PAUSED just in time. What he had started to say was that he did not know that sort of a dodo still existed. He realized, however, that that was not the thing to say to Judy, so instead he shifted diplomatically to:
“If your father will only be half-way reasonable, Judy, we can—”
“He won’t be,” said Judy positively. “He believes advertising is responsible for all the waste and extravagance of the times. I know that sounds funny to you, but you don’t know father. He means it.”
And that is the way modern love stories go. Romance may achieve an Eden, but the serpent, Business, soon rears its ugly head.
They had reached what seemed to be an impasse. But Doug, confronted it as a lover should. He gathered Judy to him impulsively. “I don’t know father,” he said huskily, “but I’m mighty glad I met his daughter. Are you a little glad, too?”
“You—you know I am,” she murmured.
Whereupon he kissed her fairly and squarely on—West Fifty-seventh Street.
It was almost four when he reached his apartment, which was no time for a young man who hopes to rise in his profession to be out of bed. And even then he ignored his bed. He stood at his window and watched the dawn dim the lights of New York. “How in the dickens could a girl like Judy have a father like that,” he mused. “It doesn’t seem possible.”
Y hich was, essentially, what Romeo thought, on another dawn.
“They must still have some strange birds up in Connecticut,” was Doug.’s final conclusion.
They still have. The survivors of an older generation, when men thrived by thrift and business was a matter of slow and sober growth. A worth while product sold on its merits then. Printed advertising was circus stuff, chicanery such as only sharp Yankees like Barnum would be guilty of.
In James Barton—Judy’s father—that belief had been born and bred. He had been more than forty when Judy was born; he was over sixty now.
The house he lived in had been his father’s before him. It was an affront to the eye, with a mansard roof, but had been built by the day—a Connecticut way of saying it had been honestly built—and it was of its enduring solidity that James Barton spoke when Judy's mother had reacted, womanlike, to its imperishable ugliness.
There had been an iron dog on the front lawn since his earliest memory. It was still there, painted whenever the house was. Judy’s mother hadsaid it gave herthe horrors.
“It’s as good as the day it was put there,” had been his reply.
In his more than sixty years he had, perforce, seen the world move. In Connecticut within that span the hours of labor had shortened thirty per cent, and its wages increased three hundred.
“They don’t want to do an honest day’s work any more,” was his bitter arraignment of the change. “They want to take it easy and have radios and automobiles and luxuries such as their fathers never dreamed of.”
AND for that he held advertising responsible. He had -Cx never advertised himself; his position had been the same as his father’s before him. “If we can’t sell enameled ware without hiring somebody to write about it," his father had always said, “then the trouble is that our enameled ware is not good enough and we had better spend our money making it better rather than to try to sell it by advertising.”
They had both, father and son, said that with pride. They believed their enameled ware was the best. As such it had sold without advertising.
But times had changed. Aluminum had become a commercial metal; manufacturers had fashioned it into kitchen ware. Advertising had dazzled feminine eyes with the beauty of this, and the market for enameled ware had slumped.
Other manufacturers of enameled ware had trimmed their sails, shifted over. He had not. He stubbornly continued to manufacture Barton’s Triple-Y ear, Guaranteed. He couldn’t make it better and he wouldn’t make it cheaper. He simply set his jaws grimly and carried on.
And this was the man whom Doug., in spite of all Judy had said, had persuaded himself could be made to listen to reason!
Of that Doug, said nothing to Judy. But at noon, come Saturday, he set himself at the wheel of the long, underslung roadster he had borrowed for the week-end, his face toward Connecticut. After leaving New York behind, he drove hard and fast and so, a little after three, he swung into Bartonsville.
This he found to be a pretty, characteristically Connecticut village—save for two blots. One was a mansardroofed house with an iron dog on the front lawn.
“Good Heavens!” he marveled. “How did Judy survive it?”
He did not stop. He intended to see Judy’s father first. So he drove on until he came to the other blot. This was the factory. Judy’s father referred to it as the new factory, because it had been built in 1886. It was a long, ugly building, a drab sneer at the June afternoon. Across its length was spread the inscription:
J. BARTON & SON Manufacturers of Barton Enameled Ware, Triple-Wear, Guaranteed
“I wonder,” thought Doug., “if it has ever occurred to the old boy that this is advertising in one form!”
From his roadster he swung free. He was playing a hunch that though the factory might close down for Saturday afternoon, he would find Judy’s father somewhere within. He was right.
“I’m Douglas Sturgis,” he introduced himself with his best smile. “I suspect Judy has spoken of me.”
Judy’s father did not smile. Nor did he, apparently, see the hand Doug, proffered him. And in spite of himself Doug, reddened a bit.
Twenty minutes later he shot out of the factory, thrust
himself behind the wheel of the borrowed roadster and mistreated its gears. He was angrier than any man should be after an interview with his prospective father-inlaw. He drove directly to the house with the mansard roof.
“You!” gasped Judy—he had not warned her he was coming—and added as she caught the significance of his expression, “What’s happened?”
Even at this moment, she assailed his senses exquisitely. His mouth softened.
“Come take a ride,” he suggested. “I want to cool off a bit.”
They drove, rather faster than the law sets forth as right and reasonable, out of Bartonsville into the country. The warm June sun poured out golden floods from its largesse. A June afternoon, created for lovers. But Doug, still smarted and Judy was puzzled.
' I 'HEY came to a road that was no more than a lane. He turned into it, achieved seclusion and shut off his engine. After which he took her promptly in his arms and held her very tightly.
“I feel better now,” he announced after a time.
He reached for a cigarette, lighted it and, as an afterthought, offered her one. She shook her head.
“Isawyour father,” he confessed then.
“You didn’t!” she protested. “Not after—what did he say?”
He started to answer, then checked himself. “To tell the truth,” he confessed, after a puzzled moment, “I can’t remember he said much of anything.”
“He never does,” she corroborated. “He just sits and looks as if nothing you said made the slightest difference. As-—as if he were just waiting for you to stop before you tried his patience too much.”
“I’ll say he does!” agreed Doug., with great conviction.
“That was the way he acted when I told him about you. But what did you say?”
Doug, blew out a great cloud of smoke. “Me?” He grinned, but ruefully. “Oh, I was all primed up like one of those lads you read about in the magazines—the chap who shows the old boys the error of their ways. I’d rehearsed the act in my own mind forty-eleven times. I really thought it would get over big. But he seemed to miss his cue.”
“You—you didn’t try to make him believe E at he ought to like advertising!” she protested, horrified.
“Well—I had something like that in mind,” he admitted.
“After all I said!” she wailed. “If you had only listened to me!”
“If he had only listened to me instead of sitting there like a blooming idol made of mud! There is something in what I tried to put across, Judy.” The cigarette he had been smoking singed his fingers: he flung it away. “Look here,” he suggested. “We’ll pretend that you’re your father. You’re looking at me with a cold and fishy eye.”
But she wasn’t. To the contrary. So he paused to kiss her.
“Did you try that on father?” she demanded.
“It didn’t occur to me to,” he said, with a grin. “But listen—you’re your father and I’m a bright young man trying to make you see reason. Follow closely, please. I’m off.”
Anyone who had come upon them suddenly would have thought he was off.
“Let us suppose that you’re right, Mr. Barton—that if you make good enameled ware it will sell itself,” he began.
Take a dozen pieces of your own ware, put them in a pushcart and take your stand on New York’s busiest corner.”
“Oh, gosh!” gasped Judy. “I forgot to tell you that father is president of the bank and a deacon in the church and strong on dignity.”
“This is a theoretical proposition—please don’t interrupt!” he commanded.
“Offer your goods at half price, Mr. Barton. Women will stop. They’ll turn your ware over, backwards and frontwards, and eye both you and it suspiciously. They should know it is good ware—a bargain. But how can they? They never heard of it. And that is true of millions of women all over the United States. They don’t know either you or your ware!”
“And you said you’d be diplomatic!” groaned Judy.
He ignored that.
“You will tell me that you have sold millions of pieces of enameled ware without advertising. Actually you sold to dealers who knew you and your reputation. They in turn sold to housewives who, without knowing much of you or your reputation, did know their dealers and their reputation.
“That was fine as long as it lasted. But times have changed. Dealers no longer ‘sell’ goods in the old sense of the word. They simply supply the customer with the makes advertising has taught him or her to ask for.
Suppose a man wants a camera. He knows pretty much what he wants before he steps into the store—he’s seen it advertised! The dealer may show him another model that is more expensive, but he doesn’t waste his time or his customer’s talking about quality or guarantee. The customer knows all about that—it’s advertised!
“Advertising has decreased the time consumed in sales. It has increased confidence in products. Does that seem to you a little thing?”
' I 'HE swing of this had kindled him anew; he spoke Jwith enthusiasm. Now he paused, as if awaiting comment.
“Am I father—or me?” demanded Judy meekly.
He kissed her. “You’re you,” he announced. “Thank the Lord!” He reached absently for a cigarette. “The point is, Judy,” he explained, “that your father sold his stuff to the dealers. They knew it was good and that he stood behind it. But what do the consumers know about your father and his factory? Do they know how long he has been in business? Have they been educated in the merits of the product? Isn’t it true that he expects the dealer to sell the product to them, to tease them, in his own phrase, to buy?”
“I suppose so,” admitted Judy. “But shouldn’t the dealer?”
“Not on your life! If he tried anything like that his customers would suspect that he was substituting. Besides, why should he, when he can take down the article advertised—already half sold—show it and the trademark, wrap it up and proceed to the next customer?”
“Did you tell father all that?”
“And he said nothing?”
“Not until I had finished. And then”— Doug, smiled wryly—“he asked me if I had come by automobile or train. I told him by automobile and he said that was fortunate because otherwise I would have to wait three hours for a train back to New York.”
Judy’s eyes flashed. “I think I have something to say about that!” she announced indignantly.
“I hoped you would!” he assured her, gathering her in his arms.
And for a time they forgot Barton’s Enameled Ware, Triple-Wear, Guaranteed. But presently, without moving her head, which was quite comfortable where it was. Judy sighed.
“It’s a mess,” she murmured. “What can we do!”
“Get married. This afternoon—pronto!” He tilted her face up. “Will you?”
“I—can’t,” she replied miserably. “I shouldn’t tell you this, but—I know that three of the men who have been with father for years are leaving. They are going to work for another concern—one of his rivals. It has hurt him, awfully.”
Doug, whistled expressively. “The rats desert the sinking ship!” he commented.
“That’s just it,” she put in swiftly. “I’d feel like a rat if I deserted him now. It’s hard on me too, but perhaps something will turn up.”
He doubted that. But he knew that she was troubled and he was touched. “Meaning me. I plan to, after dinner,” he announced.
“Do you think you’d better? Father will have a fit, I’m afraid, if he suspects I’m seeing you.”
“So will I—if you don’t! He may throw a fit in the house but I’ll throw a worse one on the front lawn. I’ll Continued on page 5S —I’ll bite that iron dog, Judy.”
Always As Advertised
Continued from paç/e 19
In spite of herself Judy smiled. “Silly!” she commented.
“Absolute idiot!” he agreed. “I can’t for the life of me make it sound reasonable. A week ago I had all but persuaded myself that you were a cute kid and all that and that you certainly were the girl I’d marry if I had to marry anybody.” “Thank you! If that is the way you felt—”
“That’s the way I tried to feel. But it was no go! And as a result here I am. I’ve traded in my freedom and am about to mortgage my future and all I get out of it is abuse.”
“If that is all you get—”
“Now that you remind me of it, there are compensations,” he agreed. The teasing note dropped from his voice and huskily he added, “There’s a lot of tosh written about this sort of stuff, Judy, but I guess it’s always as advertised, anyway.”
SO IT was that Judy, who had known that she mustn’t be, was late to dinner after all.
From the beginning of that meal until its end, her father said not a word.
It became her belief that he was not going to mention Doug.’s visit. But as he rose from the table she realized that he was going to speak.
“You might,” he said, “inform that young man who called on me this afternoon when you see him again, as I suspect is your intention, that I doubt if even his eloquence woqld arouse much enthusiasm for enameled ware these days.
I am creditably informed that, because it was built for service and not for beauty, it no longer appeals to the feminine eye.” He turned and went from the room, leaving Judy with her pretty mouth at its widest. She would have said she knew him through and through, but what he had said was a riddle to which nothing in her knowledge of him gave her an answer.
“What did he say?” demanded Doug, as she joined him.
“Nothing,” replied Judy, “except—” And she repeated her father’s words.
“I rather suspect he’s right, at that,” commented Doug, thoughtfully.
Evidently he was considering that further. They drove on, in silence, through the soft, scented dusk. But if his thoughts were in a new groove, the roadster followed the one it had prospected during the afternoon. The stars had peeped out and a sickle moon glowed low in the east when he switched off his engine and his lights.
One more petting party, sign of these degenerate times, the casual would have said. But:
“It is true,” this modern lover was saying, “that there is a tremendous vogue for aluminum. It is decorative and it appeals to the feminine eye.”
He found his cigarette case and offered her one. She shook her head.
“What’s happened?” he demanded, puzzled. “You smoked in New York.” “You were talking about aluminum ware,” she reminded him pointedly.
“Business before pleasure!” he apostrophized. “Well—it’s this way. Maids come high nowadays, and a lot of married women who would have had them once, now do their own work. As a result kitchens aren’t what they used to be. They’re spick and span, as decorative in some ways as a living room.”
This engrossed him, while he lighted his cigarette.
“Enameled ware doesn’t fit in. It’s not decorative.” He knit his brows. “Your father won’t make anything else, so the question is, can it be made decorative—”
HE STOPPED short. The cowl light on the dash was on; its light revealed to her his face. She quickened. He had an idea!
“Kick me, please!” he begged. “Why, of course, it can be made decorative!”
She did not kick him, however, and he overlooked the omission.
“I’ve just remembered,” he plunged on, “that a firm up in Canada had the same
problem that your father is facing. They’d made enameled ware for years and were going strong when this aluminum craze hit them and all butputthemoutof business.” “They turned out enameled ware de luxe,” he explained. “Blue and white, pretty as a picture. The aristocrat of the kitchen—I haven’t seen their advertising because it’s all done in Canada, but I’ll bet they said something like that.”
“Father would love that phrase! Oh, please don’t think I’m trying to be a wet blanket! But I am trying to see it from his viewpoint.”
“But it was just that. The sort of thing that women aren’t happy until they get. I sort of remember that the manufacturers found it would chip, but they even made that point count.”
“Which father would say was one good reason why no honest manufacturer should ever make it,” Judy reminded him. “And I’ll bet it costs like fury.”
“It costs more than the old enameled ware,” Doug, admitted. “But what of it? People don’t count cost nowadays. They want what they want. They’ll put off buying necessities to buy what, a few years ago, were regarded as luxuries—” “And that,” Judy cut in, steeling herself to it, “is where father will assure you that your ideas about advertising and his are just the same, the only difference being that you can’t see that all this is wrong and he can!”
Doug, groaned. “I quit!” he announced. “What’s the use?”
But of course he hadn’t quit. He was at her again, in a breath, fighting through her that phantom of her father which stood so inexorably between them.
“Why is it wrong?” he demanded. “Why shouldn’t people crave beauty? Can’t you see that to a woman a bit of blue and white kitchen ware,as decorative as porcelain, can be as much of an inspiration as a Titian would be to a connoisseur?”
“I can—but father won’t. And making people be extravagant—”
IMAGINE Juliet talking to Romeo that way. Yet they were none the less in love. And after all Romeo and Juliet, on her balcony, discussed ways of getting around their fathers’ hatred for each other just as Doug, and Judy, in the borrowed roadster, were trying to find a way to get around her father’s hatred for advertising.
They all but parted forever within the next few minutes. Romeo, clinging precariously to Juliet’s balcony, never displayed more dramatic intensity than Doug, did in his efforts to sway Judy to what he characterized as a show-down.
It got him nothing. The trouble with all his arguments was that Judy had a desirable mouth—but a determined chin. He was handicapped both ways.
In the end they parted, some time later, for no more than the night. In a way that proved that the female of the species is more adept at getting her own way than is the male.
“You’re an awful lot of trouble to me,” were Doug.’s last words. “But—you’re worth it!”
And that was as it should be.
Earlier in the day Judy had told Doug, there was no inn in Bartonsville but that he would find one in the next town. In that direction hehadstartedbeforedinner, but as he had driven down Bartonsville’s pleasant, elm-shaded main street he had had an idea. Acting upon it he had stopped his car before a comfortable, homey, white cottage and approached a man who was puttering about the garden.
The man had given Doug, a slow, keen scrutiny. He was a big chap, turned fifty, and obviously the best type of a Connecticut artisan. “Well,” he had said, “we don’t usually accommodate transients, but you might ask ma.” He grinned slowly. “She’s raising money for the foreign missions and she might be tempted.”
Ma, a comfortable, comely woman with grizzled hair, had given Doug, one glance and not only assented, but suggested that he sup with them, too.
“You have a comfortable place here,”
remarked Doug, glancing around the kitchen and thinking of the radio, the garden and the car in the garage outside.
“Yes,” agreed Page. “And we hate to leave it. We were both born in Bartonsville and I rather expected to die here. But you never can tell nowadays!”
“You’re leaving!” exclaimed Doug., surprised.
“The first of July,” said Page soberly. “Something better elsewhere?”
“No—not as good in some ways. But we’ve got to think of the future.” He paused, then added reflectively: “Seems funny to talk that way of the future. I started as a boy in Barton’s and worked up to foreman. If you had told me ten years ago that I would ever be leaving, of my own accord, I’d have said you were crazy.”
“You work for Barton’s?” echoed Doug, and then realized that Page must be one of the three men of whom Judy had spoken —the men who were leaving.
“Yes,” said Page, and as if reading Doug.’s thought added: “The old man took it hard. But it’s only a question of time before Barton will have to close down anyway.”
He glanced at the kitchen clock. “Bed time,” he commented. “Hope you sleep sweet.”
THE bed provided for Doug, was clean and comfortable; a vagrant scented breeze stirred the curtains softly. Yet Doug, was long in getting to sleep.
Then, suddenly, he knew no more until he awoke to the unruffled calm of a Sunday morning in June.
It was almost ten. He was prepared to apologize profusely, but ma smiled.
“All our boys used to sleep that way Sunday mornings,” she told him. “It seems like old times—I’ve got your breakfast on the back of the stove.”
Doug, ate it in the pleasant, sun patterned kitchen. Ma bustled around him. She seemed cheerful enough, but Doug, remembered what be had been told the night before and tried to picture her in an apartment in Bridgeport.
“If I can only make him see it that way,” he thought.
Ma smiled down at him, as he pushed back his chair. “Filled up?” she asked.
He nodded, then asked, “I don’t suppose you know where I could get hold of a typewriter?”
“I’ve got one—asecond-handportable!” was her proud answer. “Pa gave it to me. I use it to prepare my Ladies’ Aid reports on. Pa says I type as good as a regular stenographer. It’s in the parlor if you’d like to use it.”
Doug, said he would. Pie sat, pipe in mouth, frowning at it. And then for a space he typed like mad. Finished, he considered what he had written. “It sounds like a revolver levelled at his head,” he mused frowningly. “But that may be so much the better.”
As an afterthought he wondered if Barton, a deacon of the church, would talk business on Sunday. He went out, and discovering Page in his garden, put the question to him.
“Why—he might,” hazarded Page. “I’ve noticed that he has gotten into the habit of stopping off at the factory on his way home from church lately.”
This at least suggested an opening and Doug, moved on to the factory. He had been repulsed there once, with heavy losses, but he was an unconquerable optimist.
EVEN so his first glimpse of Judy’s father chilled him. The door marked “Private” was open; Judy’s father sat at his desk, staring before him. He looked like a man exhausted mentally and spirittually and—as a key to all that—perhaps financially. To Doug, he suggested a man on the brink of bankruptcy.
“I hate to seem obtrusive,” Doug, apologized, as the older man glanced up at him, “but—do you honestly believe you’re being fair?”
“To whom?” demanded Judy's father, frigidly.
“To me—to Judy—to your employees,” said Doug. He impulsively thrust at him the typed page he had prepared. “Will you read that, please, before answering?” The older man gave him a long enigmatic glance, then let his eye fall to the typing. It read:
To Whom It May Concern:
We are a group of Connecticut workmen, sober, steady and industrious. We own our own homes. They are comfortable, well kept up. We do not wish to leave them but feel that we must, to seek employment elsewhere.
This is necessary because the concern by which we are employed, and on which the prosperity of our town depends, has fallen behind the times.
Most of us went to work for this concern as boys. We have never worked elsewhere. We believed we never would. We are satisfied with our working and our living conditions.
As matters stand the product in whose manufacture we are engaged is no longer in demand. The concern has never advertised it nor does it study popular trends and seek to conform to them. It seems to us, therefore, that although the business is still solvent, it is only a question of time before its affairs must be wound up.
What we seek is a connection with a firm that is alive and growing, which manufactures some product that meets popular demand and stimulates it by judicious advertising, and which is quick to sense changes.
In brief, we want our future to be linked with the future of a business we feel is secure.
The Employees of J. Barton & Son,
This ,Dougknew by heart. He could follow the other’s progress through it. He knew it was a strong dose. But he had hoped it would at least break through his adversary’s armor of silence. And it did.
On whose authority,” demanded Judy s father, in a voice trembling with anger, “was this prepared?”
My own,’’ said Doug., his voice steadier than he himself felt. “But I honestly believe it represents what your employees are thinking—and what they would tell you and the world, if they were given the opportunity.”
“And you are preparedto offer them the chance or is this just a club held over my head?”
Neither,” Doug.assured himsincerely.
I have merely tried to state the case as powerfully as I could, in the form I happen to be most familiar with. I hoped you would see that there is more than just your side to the situation.”
About this enameled ware Judy spoke of the stuff they are making in Canada,” Judy’s father said then, abruptly. “Is the process patented?”
I don t know—but I imagine not.
I hey spent two years experimenting with colors, but although the formula is their own I rather think the actual process is as unpatentable as your own.”
“And there is a demand for it?”
‘Tt’s gone over with a smash in Canada and there certainly ought to be a bigger and better market for it in the United States. But” Doug, spoke almost fearfully - it would have to be advertised and you—
“I’ll never advertise,” Judy’s father assured him. “I’m too old to learn new tricks. I ve known that for some time but I couldn t bring myself to quit. I was trying to make up my mind when you came into the office and—Dm through.”
A® jT® spoke he glanced around his Cl ofnce. A dusty, time-worn room which seemed impervious even to the June sunlight. It had none of the comfortable charm of ma’s kitchen. Yet the expression on his face, as its habitual mask slipped a little, was akin t;o ma’s as she took in her own domain.
Doug, sat stunned. “You mean that what I wrote decided you?”
It pushed me over the brink—I’ve been looking for a way out.”
But that isn’t fair to your employees!” protested Doug, miserably. “They had nothing to do with what I wrote. If you quit this way—”
“They can go on working for you and Judy ’ explained Judy’s father, with a twitch of his lips that was like humor’s ghost. “I’ve decided to turn the factory .over to you two as my wedding present. You have ideas—work them out!”
“Me? Why—1 don’t know a thing
about the enameled ware business—”
“You’ve been telling me a lot about it!” remarked Judy’s father drily. “And you seem to be the go-getter type I’ve heard so much about these last few years.”
In his voice there was a touch of irony which Doug, did not miss.
“But you!” protested Doug. “What will you do?”
Ever so briefly the older man hesitated. Then he reached into one of the pigeonholes of his roll-top desk and brought out a dog-eared booklet. He laid it on the desk where Doug, could see the title: “Mediterranean Cruises—1910.”
“I’ve had it ever since then,” he explained, curiously shamefaced. “I used to look it over now and then. Judy’s mother always wanted to travel but somehow I never could make up my mind to. It didn’t seem right to spend money that way.”
He stopped th re, but Doug, said nothing. He felt that there was more coming.
“Judy’s mother was younger than I—a lot. And pretty. I never knew why she took up with me. I wanted to make her happy but somehow I never could. She hated the house. And that iron dog on the lawn.”
He rose, then, and went to the window, his bulk silhouetted funereally against the outer brilliance.
“The funny part of it,” he added as if thinking aloud, “was that I began to hate the house and that iron dog as much as she did. But I couldn’t see why we should spend good money for something different, or get rid of anything that was as good as new.
“It was the same with travel. I wanted to. But it was like going to see the circus when 1 was a boy. I never did because it was sinful to waste money that way.
“I never could tell Judy’s mother how much—store I set by her . .
To Doug, it seemed as if his voice, as impersonal as a judge’s, broke a little there. He relapsed, anyway, into a long silence. Presently he turned.
“I’m going to travel.” he announced grimly. “I’m going to the Mediterranean to begin with. I don’t expect things will be as I pictured them. But—” He
stopped and seated himself at his desk again. “I can see,” he said then, “what Judy meant when she said that a kitchen pot, like porcelain, could be as beautiful to a woman as a Titian.”
“I—don’t know what to say,” began Doug, and that was the truth.
“Don’t say anything,” commanded Judy’s father, decisively. “Go and tell Judy what I’ve told you—about the factory, that is—and I’ll sit here a while.”
IN HIS face was that which bothered Doug. But love is always young and youth is ever imperious. As he emerged into the sunlight and slipped into the roadster his thoughts were already running ahead toward Judy. He stepped on the gas and rode on it and the wings of his emotions to where he hoped he would find her—and did. She was just turning in to the walk that led to the house with the mansard roof.
“You’ve been talking to father again!” she gasped, her lovely eyes aghast.
“I have,” he retorted exultantly. “And this time he said aplenty.” He was bursting with his news but he had to prolong this, his moment, the better to savor it. “I told the chief I’d bring him back a good account,” he announced, “and I’m going to!”
“What! Father! Father isn’t going to advertise—”
“No—but we are!”
And in a breath he shot his tidings at her, leaving her with her pretty eyes at their widest.
“I can’t imagine father saying anything like that!” she murmured helplessly.
“Still waters run deep! What would you say if I said he even hated that iron dog there?”
“I wouldn’t believe it,” she announced flatly. “He always said—” _
“He does, just the same,” Doug. assured her. “Although I am inclined to think now that it’s a good dog. A commendable dog. In fact I could kiss it, Judy!”
But it looked for a moment as if he were going to kiss her. Instead he placed an arm around her and thrust her toward the house.
“What will the neighbors say!” she protested—though not very fervently.
“That Judy has a young man and will be getting married the first thing you know,” he replied. “And they’ll probably say more than that if I kiss you here and now—so let’s go inside.”
They went inside. Into a room which, only yesterday, Doug, would have said was a fine room to hold funerals in. He did not so see it now. A rosy haze filled it. They came to rest on a sofa—a horsehair sofa, with even its cushions built for service rather than comfort.
To Doug, it was as soft as a downy cloud. Even though it creaked as if protesting its horror at what it—a perfectly respectable Connecticut sofa—was being called upon to endure.
“Young folks never acted so when I was young,” it seemed to be saying.
But of course they did. The world wags on, now madly, now wearily, but in each and every generation there is youth and to youth its supreme moment.
Times change but love remains the eternal staple—always as advertised.