Proving again that the lads who laugh loudest ofttimes gain nothing but a sore neck

ADDISON SIMMONS October 1 1931


Proving again that the lads who laugh loudest ofttimes gain nothing but a sore neck

ADDISON SIMMONS October 1 1931



CHARLIE BLAIR and Messrs. Newsom and Pinkney sat in Charlie Blair's private office in the firm of Brooks and Company, Advertising, and Mr. Newsom

laughed so vigorously and with such a waving of his hands that he knocked over an ash tray and the telephone, scattered all of Charlie Blair’s copy to the floor, and went on laughing vociferously at the very thought of the bet they had just made. It was a comical forfeit, whoever had to pay it. but Mr. Newsom was sure that he was not going to. And if Mr. Newsom did not lose the bet, neither would Mr. Pinkney, for they were both on the same side, betting against Charlie Blair.

The bet was that Old Man Brooks, the head of the firm, would not be able to renew the Haley account, the biggest account the firm had. Old Man Brooks and Haley were a couple of hotheads, and they had been clashing at every conference this year. Charlie Blair thought that the old man had not been very wise in letting his temper fly at Haley and that it would cost the firm the Haley account.

Messrs Pinkney and Newsom bet that the old man, being a shrewd gent, would get the account by hook or by crook.

“And when you lose,” Mr. Newsom said, “you’ll take the old man’s funny looking secretary to lunch for a whole month.”

“But I won’t lose,” said Mr. Blair confidently. Nevertheless, Mr. Blair did lose. The account came into the office this time larger than ever before.

So, on a pleasant day in the early spring, young Mr. Blair approached the boss’s office to make a start at paying his wager.

The boss was out. Mr. Blair knew that. The door stood ajar, and the funny-looking Miss Watkins sat before a typewriter and drummed rhythmically on it, turning out a report at a high rate of speed. Charlie Blair could see that her heart and soul were in her work. It was perhaps the only place that her heart and soul ever would be permitted to be.

Pausing on the threshold, Charlie Blair clenched his teeth, then stepped in for the ordeal. Behind him, in

Newsom’s private office, Newsom and Pinkney were laughing their heads off at him.

Miss Watkins, looking up at the sound of his step, had a painful thrill inside her. She said to herself: “Here he comes. I think I’ll faint and see if he’ll take me in his arms.” This boldness, however, she had no power to translate into deed. She was the plain, unimaginative Watkins on the outside and she knew it, and she knew that everybody else knew it, and she had no strength to do anything vigorously romantic no matter how much she would have liked to do it.

“Oh, why can’t I have a man like that?” she complained to a fast-beating heart. “Why didn’t someone drown me when I was small !”

IT WAS a long office and nicely carpeted. Charlie Blair came down the length of carpet and said : “Hello, Miss Watkins, What time is the boss coming back?” This though he knew the boss wouldn’t be in all

His presence always had the effect of confusing Miss Watkins. She heard him as far as “What time is—” and after that the words meant nothing. Her heart was going like a metronome set at presto, or a hop-skip-and-jump champion breaking the world’s record over and over again.

“Why, it’s n-nearly half-past eleven!” she cried, and held up her wrist for him to read her watch if he didn’t believe her.

“Yes, I know,” said the handsome Charlie Blair and abandoned

his first question, which had only been meant as an icebreaker anyway. “Nice day, isn’t it?”

“Lovely!” exclaimed Miss Watkins, fidgeting a little in her chair. “A lovely day !”

“Heard any word yet about who’s going to get charge of the Boston office when it opens?” Charlie Blair asked.

“Nothing definite yet,” said Miss Watkins. “Mr. Brooks is making up his mind.”

Mr. Blair hummed and hawed a little.

“I—er—it’s nearly time for lunch, isn’t it?” he said. “I—er—what time do you usually go for lunch, Miss Watkins—twelve or one?”

“Either!” said Miss Watkins excitedly.

“I—er—going alone today?”

“I think so!” exclaimed Miss Watkins, though she knew very well she would unless a miracle happened.

“So—er—am I,” said Mr. Blair. “Maybe—er—will you go with me. Miss Watkins?”

“Yes, certainly, indeed, thanks!” Miss Watkins gasped, gratitude oozing shamelessly out of every pore.

“One o’clock, then,” said Mr. Blair with a Spartan smile, and, waving a hand to go with the smile, he was down the length of the office and outside, closing the door behind him.

Miss Watkins, abandoning duty, got out from behind her desk and did such a heel and toe dance such as only one inspired can get off without years of training. This was that other bold Miss Watkins coming out to show the plain Miss Watkins a little something.

During the next hour and a half she put carbon papers in backward, wrote “hte” for “the,” “dna” for “and,” “thsi” for “this” a few dozen times, and committed every other error possible for the rankest amateur on a typewriter. She w'orked furiously, driven by the other Miss Watkins, resorting to the eraser more times in that hour and a half than she did ordinarily in a month.

Promptly at the stroke of one, there was the nice Mr. Blair coming in the door, hat in hand.

“All ready?” he asked.

“Yes; right away!” she exclaimed, and rushed to the little clothes closet, jammed on hei hat, jerked on her terrible brown coat, and yanked a feebk string of fur across her shoulders.

Watching, Mr. Blair felt a pang of guilt and shame.

Miss Watkins didn't see the grinning faces of Messrs. Newsom and Pinkney, watching through the partly opened doors of their private offices. But she did see the amazement on the faces of the stenographers in the large outer office. She passed Josephine at the switchboard with a cheerful greeting. “Back in an hour, Josephine,” she said. Mr. Blair, so magnificently tall, put his hand under her elbow as they went out. The fact is, Mr. Blair was a good loser but he wondered how he was going to stand a whole month of this.

Mr. Blair was no piker. He took her to the nicest place to eat that there was in the business district. He tipped his hat with careless geniality to his friends that he met, and kept up a friendly conversation as if he were out with the best looking girl in town.

Nevertheless, it was a little painful to sit opposite the funny-looking Miss Watkins. Mostly it was her clothes that were funny looking; the way she did her hair and wore her hats. And those awful tin-rimmed glasses that she wore. Her features weren’t bad at all. She had nice teeth, a straight, pleasant nose, and blue eyes that might not have been half bad if they didn’t squint like that through those glasses. But. oh, the clothes! The brown jacket of her suit might have been cut for a man and the shade of it was abominable. The shirtwaist, though no doubt of good material, was cut all wrong at the neck, so that it was as unbecoming as anything in the world that she could have put on. The hat was positively a joke. Again the color was wrong. It had a brim too large for her kind of face; it might have suited a woman at least thirty years older, and her pale brown hair straggled loosely out from under it at the ears and in back. She had no color in or on her cheeks or lips, and she needed some badly. She had absolutely no style whatsoever, and not one single whit of self-consciousness about it.

The men in the office, though they had to admit that she was a very efficient person, had summed her up as a specimen that only a mother—her own—could love.

Proving again that the lads who laugh loudest ofttimes gain nothing but a sore neck

Mr. Blair, cool and thoughtful, sat studying this face opposite him. There was no situation, however bad, that you couldn’t do something with if you were ingenious and tactful. And Mr. Blair, if not original, was both ingenious and tactful. If he had to go through a month of this, he was going to see if something couldn’t be done about it to lessen its terrors.

SAY,” he said confidentially, “I’ve got a little shopping to do after luncheon. Do you want to go along?”

“Why, certainly. I’d love to.”

So they taxied after lunch to a shop that specialized in smart clothing for both men and women.

“I need neckties,” Charlie Blair said, glancing in the direction of the millinery department at the rear of the store. “Isyour taste good? I usually need help in picking

“Oh, here are some beautiful ties,” said Miss Watkins. "Do you like solid colors?”

As a matter of fact, she surprised Charlie Blair with her good taste. Why the deuce she didn’t exercise some of it in choosing her own things was something to wonder about.

Charlie Blair espied a small blue turban on a stand halfway down the store.

“There’s a nice hat,” he said. “That little blue one there. Ever wear a blue hat like that, Miss Watkins?”

“N-no,” said Miss Watkins. “I never did. Don’t you think it would make me look too—”

“I think it would make you look simply a knockout,” he

“You do!” she exclaimed. And in two minutes she was trying it on.

Something magical happened to Miss Watkins the minute she put that hat on. She took off her glasses and the squint vanished from her eyes. Her head became smaller, and something actually appealing came into her face. The shrewd saleslady, who stood behind Miss Watkins as she sat before three mirrors, tucked out of sight the loose ends of Miss Watkins’ brown hair.

“It is delightful on madame,” the saleslady said. Miss Watkins blushed at the “madame” and the suffusion of color was very becoming. “Madame should see the ensemble that goes with this hat. It is on the third floor.”

Miss Watkins glanced at her watch and at Mr. Blair and

“I haven’t time now. But I’ll come back later this afternoon if you’ll still be open.”

“If you can come before six, madame—”

“I’ll come!” Miss Watkins said.

Charlie Blair began to feel a weight leaving his shoulders. If she’d only buy a suit as becoming as that hat— Why, anybody knows that if you take even the homeliest woman in the world and put becoming clothes on her, you can make her look like somebody.

Miss Watkins paid for the hat but left it to be tried on together with the ensemble. They went back to the office.

Newsom and Pinkney were waiting to give Charlie Blair the welcoming laugh. He saw them grinning behind a batch of copy in the large outer office.

He left Miss Watkins at the boss’s door.

“A very enjoyable lunch hour,” he said. “If you’d like to go again tomorrow—”

The look in Miss Watkins’ eyes was of gratitude almost too great for words.

“Oh, thanks, yes!” she managed to say and backed into the boss’s office.

Mr. Blair smiled, waved a hand and went away.

In the middle of the afternoon he went out to talk with a client about copy for the next day’s newspapers, and afterward he taxied down to the store and spoke to the hat saleslady.

“This is confidential,” he said. “Strictly confidential. If you’ll see that the young lady buys that suit you spoke about, I’ll buy you the biggest box of the best candy in

“Leave it to us,” said the saleslady, smiling with assur-

“And another thing,” Mr. Blair went on. “Do you think if you talked to her—discreetly, you know; the way you did about the suit—you could get her to go to some beauty parlor and have her hair done up right and her complexion fixed up somehow?”

“Yes,” said the saleslady. “I almost think I can. I looked at her ears and they’re really very pretty. I don’t think she’s ever seen them. When she comes in. I’ll show them to her and suggest that she uncover them.”

“And what about those glasses she wears? They’re not very becoming, are they?”

“You’re right,” replied the saleslady. “But did you notice that when she wanted to get a good look at the hat, she took them off and laid them on the table? I think maybe she doesn’t really need them. I knew a woman once who wore glasses for years after she really needed them; all because she didn’t go to an eye doctor to find out whether she ought to keep on wearing them or not.”

“I think,” said Charlie Blair, “that I’ll send you two of those boxes of candy.”

“That’s very sweet of you,” said the saleslady. “I’ll do my best.”

THE humble caterpillar becomes a gay butterfly; the ugly duckling a graceful swan. When Miss Watkins came to work the next morning, she was not the same Miss Watkins who had ever come there before. She was the other Miss Watkins that no one had ever known anything about except the funny looking Miss Watkins, who had always known about her but hadn’t known how to get her to come out.

No one knew her when she entered the office—not at first glance. She wore no glasses and seemed to see as well if not better without them. The little blue turban topped a head as neat as pins. The dark blue ensemble was trim and jaunty. Miss Watkins had hips that no one had ever seen before and shoulders that nobody had ever before cared whether they saw or not. And legs ! Miss Watkins had always worn good hose but never exquisite hose, and she had never in her life so much as set a single toe inside such a pair of pumps as these. And there was color shrewdly applied to her cheeks and lips.

She got into the boss’s office almost before Messrs. Newsom and Pinkney, who saw her enter, knew who she was. Josephine, at the switchboard, thought it was a stranger who said good morning to her.

The boss, who had come to work very early and was just going out, stared at her and said :

“Good gracious, is that you, Miss Watkins?”

When, a few minutes later, Mr. Blair strolled in, he was cornered in his private office by Messrs. Newsom and Pinkney.

“What the heck,” demanded Mr. Pinkney, “have you been doing to Watkins? Have you seen her this morning?”

“No,” replied Mr. Blair. “Does she look as if yesterday’s luncheon was too much for her?”

“Well, not exactly,” said Mr. Newsom, giving Mr. Pinkney the wink behind Charlie Blair. “But we got to thinking it over and decided that we’d release you from that bet. It’s a little too much to ask a fellow.”

“Sure,” agreed Mr. Pinkney.

“I always pay my bets,” Charlie Blair declared. “I’ll pay this one.”

Continued on page 53

The Funny Looking Miss Watkins

Continued from page 17

“We’ll let you off with a week of it,” said Mr. Newsom.

“Say, listen,” Charlie Blair said. “I think Watkins is a good egg. There’s only one trouble and it isn’t with her. It’s with the men she’s met. Everybody’s always kicked her around and kidded her along or laughed at her behind her back. She’s never had anyone to tell her that she’d be a passable looker if she’d fix herself up right. I think she’s been too discouraged to bother about how she does look. She works like a slave around this office and everybody takes her for granted as Homely Harriet. What she needs is someone to take a little interest in her and get her thinking about herself a bit. I tell you, if she had some young fellow that thought something of her and showed it, she’d get conscious of her looks. And I’ll bet you a hundred francs she’d be a different woman in good clothes and—”

“Lay off the Chautauqua lecture,” put in Mr. Newsom. “I’ll be a good fellow and take her off your hands for luncheon this

“And I’ll take her tomorrow,” added Mr. Pinkney.

Charlie Blair began to smell the rat that was running around in circles in his private

“Say, is this bigness of heart,’’ he demanded, “or some kind of new gag?” He started for the door.

“Now, wait a minute,” said Mr. Newsom, getting in his way. “Take the offer or leave it.”

“Take it or leave it,” echoed Mr. Pinkney.

“Knowing whence it comes,” stated Mr. Blair, “I’ll leave it. I’ve got to go and see something.”

1LJE WENT to the boss’s office and entered. Miss Watkins sprang up as he came in and said, “Good morning.” Then she sat down in confusion.

Charlie Blair nodded. No wonder Newsom and Pinkney had wanted to release him.

“Hello,” he said calmly. “That suit’s very becoming to you. Very. I don’t know when I’ve seen a nicer.”

“Do you think so, really?” Miss Watkins asked. She got up and came from behind the desk.

“Turn round,” said Mr. Blair.

Miss Watkins turned slowly. Her figure vanted nothing. The cut of the suit was perfect; the waist was just the style it should have been. And the neat simplicity of her hair, without a single strand out of place. It was too amazing. When she faced Mr. Blair again, he noticed her cheeks and lips.

“Miss Watkins,” he appraised, “you’re another person today.”

Miss Watkins blushed.

“Thanks to that hat saleslady,” she said. “She was awfully nice. We went to dinner together after I bought the suit and then she insisted that I go to her hairdresser. I knew there was something wrong with the way I did my hair, but I didn’t know what it was. And do you know, I see just as well— better, I think—without my glasses.”

“That’s splendid,” said Mr. Blair, “and I’m glad to hear it. See you at one o’clock.”

When he got back to his office, Messrs. Newsom and Pinkney were awaiting him with evil in their eyes.

“So the nice, big-hearted lads,” said Mr. Blair, “were willing to cancel the disagreeable bet I lost.”

“It’s all cancelled,” Mr. Newsom informed him. “Is there any reason why you should lose a bet and get a big benefit out of it? We won and we’re going to take the nice things. Pinkey and I will split the benefits. We’ll take turns taking Watkins out to lunch.”

“You’re crazy,” said Charlie Blair. “You can’t do that.”

"Oh, can’t we?” queried Mr. Newsom good-naturedly. “Well, we’re going to. You keep away from Watkins for the month

of the bet. If you don’t, we’ll just tell her that the only reason you took her out in the first place was because you lost a bet that said you had to. She may have dressed up today because you put the flutters in her young heart, but you’ll go off her social list in a hurry if she learns the truth. No hard feelings, you know. Just a little drastic method of putting the benefits where they belong. You understand.”

Charlie Blair nodded.

“A first-class argument. The product of ingenious minds. A couple of swell aces, you

“Well, we won, didn’t we?” pleaded Mr. Pinkney.

“You did and do now,” decided Charlie Blair. “But if one word gets to Leslie Watkins about this bet. I’ll pop a fist off your nose—both of you.”

“Nothing,” promised Mr. Newsom, “will ever get to Watkins if you stay in your

“I’ve already asked her to lunch today,” Charlie Blair told them.

“Well, are you crippled?” Mr. Newsom demanded. “Go in and tell her a business appointment has come up and you can’t turn it down.”

Charlie Blair scowled and started for the door. “All right, you two. But if there’s ever a judgment day. I hope you both get all that’s coming to you.”

The door to the boss’s office stood ajar. Miss Watkins’ smile greeted him as he came down the carpet.

“Oh—er—I say,” he began. “I forgot to ask, is there any news yet about who gets charge of the Boston office?”

“Not yet,” said Miss Watkins.

Charlie Blair shuffled his feet and cleared his throat.

“Oh, and—er—say, Miss Watkins,” he went on, “I—er—wonder if you’d excuse me from that—er—luncheon date today. You see—ah—a pretty important customer just called me up and said that he’s got to see me today, and one o’clock’s the only time he can make it, and—er—he says I’ll have to take lunch with him.”

“Why, of course,” said Miss Watkins genially. “You go right ahead. I don’t

Charlie Blair stood about five feet from her and noted those ears that the hat saleslady had spoken about. The saleslady was right. They were small and pink and friendly.

“Er—I’m really very sorry,” he said. “Perhaps some other time—”

Miss Watkins smiled.

“Any time at all that suits you,” she said.

Charlie Blair retreated and went back to his own office. Through his open door, half an hour later, he saw the grinning Mr. Newsom malee his way to the boss’s office. When, a few moments later, he reappeared, he was grinning wider than ever.

And at one o’clock Charlie Blair saw him escort Miss Watkins out of the office.

Five minutes later Charlie left the office and went for lunch to a place where he was sure no one that he knew would see him. At least, no one who would ever give word to Miss Watkins.

TWO weeks went by. Miss Watkins, guided still by the faultless taste of the hat saleslady, wore clothes exactly up to the minute and amazingly becoming; something different almost every day. During those two weeks Messrs. Newsom and Pinkney took her to luncheon on alternate days. Bradson, the only other unmarried man in the office, took her twice. But Charlie Blair carefully kept his distance. And Miss Watkins now glanced up at him with a puzzled expression behind her smile.

On Tuesday of the third week, Mr. Newsom walked into Mr. Pinkney’s office, closed the door behind him and took a punch at Mr. Pinkney’s right eye, landing with precision and angering Mr. Pinkney to

the point of retaliating with a left to the nose. The conversation that emerged through the thin partition of Mr. Pinkney’s office was of this order:

Mr. Newsom: “You skunk, what do you mean horning in when it isn’t your turn?” Mr. Pinkney: “What do you mean, what do I mean? Have you got a mortgage on her?”

“We had a gentleman’s agreement. But of course that wouldn’t mean anything to

“If I thought you were insinuating that I’m not a gentleman, I’d—”

“You’d what?”

“I’d smack you in the eye!”

“Oh, you will, will you? Well, take that!” At this point, Charlie Blair and Mr. Bradson hastened out and burst in upon Newsom and Pinkney. Right behind them was Old Man Brooks.

“Gentlemen !” cried Mr. Brooks. “What does this mean? Have you gone crazy? Do you know where you are?”

“I’ll kill that guy!” muttered Mr. Newsom, staunching the flow of blood from his nose.

“I’d like both of you to come into my office right away,” puffed Mr. Brooks. “Arbitration, gentlemen, arbitration! That’s the only way to settle difficulties. Never like this, gentlemen. There’s nothing you can’t settle with a few well-chosen words.” As a matter of fact, if both Mr. Newsom and Mr. Pinkney had not been such valuable account executives, they would have gone sailing out of that office without the balm of a few well-chosen words. Old Man Brooks, however, was not going to throw away either of these valuable gentlemen if anything could be done about it.

“We’ll go into my office,” Old Man Brooks said, “and talk this thing over. Why. the best of friends lose each other in a little fit of hot-headedness if they’re not careful. And what's a little fit of hot-headedness? In five minutes it’s passed away. You’ve got to talk these things over or they last a lifetime. Gentlemen, life’s too short and friends are too few to let matters like this amount to anything. Come, come; there’s nothing we can’t smooth over if we’re all sensible.” Once a month Old Man Brooks addressed the assembled Sunday school classes in his suburban town. In his best Sunday school manner he now spoke to Messrs. Newsom and Pinkney. They passed into his office, carried along by the message in his voice, when suddenly Mr. Newsom mumbled in an undertone:

“Not in front of Miss Watkins! Send

“I’ll be in private conference for a few minutes, please, Miss Watkins,” said Old Man Brooks, and Miss Watkins, nodding, picked up a sheaf of papers and went out.

Her trim ankles had vanished and the door closed behind her when Mr. Brooks

“All right, gentlemen. What’s it all

They didn’t tell the whole story. They were neither brave enough nor honest enough to do that—either of them. They simply told that they had quarrelled over which of them was going to ask Miss Watkins to lunch that day.

“Look here,” said Old Man Brooks. “Are you in love with the girl—either of you?” Newsom and Pinkney each gave a negative reply.

“Well,” said Old Man Brooks after some reflection, “I suppose the thing to do is to get rid of the bone of contention.”

“You aren’t going to fire her—” began Mr. Pinkney.

Mr. Brooks shrugged.

“What would you suggest?” he enquired. “What’s more important, however, I want you gentlemen to shake hands and say you’ve forgotten your differences.”

Mr. Newsom looked at Mr. Pinkney’s black eye and Mr. Pinkney looked at Mr. Newsom’s swollen nose, and both began to

grin sheepishly. In fifteen seconds they had shaken hands. Their troubles were over.

And in half an hour the news was around the entire office that Miss Watkins was going to leave and that she had Newsom and Pinkney to thank for it.

'YYT’HEN Charlie Blair heard the news he YV was go UpSet that he didn’t venture out of his private office at all when lunch time came. He worked right through on copy, almost without looking up. The afternoon passed in the same manner. Copy boys entered and left his office, but Mr. Blair did not stir.

Five o’clock came and the rest of the office force prepared to leave, and still Mr. Blair did not stir. He went on working bitterly. It was six o’clock when he at length stopped, got up, and, taking his hat from the rack, stepped into the outer office.

He noted at once that there was a light in the boss's office. The door was shut, but he could see it through the transom. Often the old man stayed overtime. Mr. Blair felt in duty bound to go in and say something about Miss Watkins. Someone had to say something for her, and he was going to do it even if he had to divulge the cheap, miserable wager he had made with Newson and Pinkney.

He went to the door and knocked. It was not Old Man Brooks’ voice that answered, but Miss Watkins’. However, instead of beating a retreat, Mr. Blair opened the door and went in.

Miss Watkins sat at her desk, frowning thoughtfully over some papers.

“Oh, hello,” she said cheerfully, not at all like a person who has just lost a good job. “Come in. I didn’t know you were still

“I didn’t know you were either,” he said. ‘T came in to see the boss. But on second thought, I’m glad it’s you and not he. I’m going to tell you what I was going to tell

"You don’t have to,” said Miss Watkins, almost as if she knew what it was he was going to say.

“Yes, I do,” he replied. “I didn’t think before that I had to, but now I see how imperative it is that I should. May I sit down?”

“I wish you would,” she urged. “It’s nice to see you last before I leave.”

“You shouldn’t say that,” Mr. Blair said, “because it’s partly my fault that you’re going.”

“Oh, no!” said Miss Watkins.

"It is,” stated Mr. Blair. “It really is. I’m very much distressed about it. It’s all the result of a despicable bet—a sort of plot. It was very cheap, and I’m ashamed of my part in it.”

“You don’t have to tell me anything you don’t want to tell,” Miss Watkins said

“I have to,” Mr. Blair said. “You see, it was this way. I bet Newsom and Pinkney that the old man wouldn’t get the Haley account again. I really didn’t think he would, the way he’s been spouting fire at old Haley. Newsom and Pinkney said he would get it and that if he did, I’d pay the bet by—by—er—”

“By taking the funny looking Watkins out to lunch for a whole month?” suggested Miss Watkins.

Charlie Blair gasped and sat upright in his chair.

“How did you know?” he demanded. “When did you know? Who told you?” His face burned like fire.

Miss Watkins smiled.

“Oh,” she told him with a small shrug, “Josephine told me. When you talked over the bet, apparently you got so excited about it that you knocked over the telephone. The receiver was off and Josephine heard every word at the switchboard.”

Feeling slightly ill, Mr. Blair remembered the fallen telephone.

“Then, why did you go out with me that first day?” he asked.

“You ought to ask first,” she countered,

“how it was that we got the Haley account. You see,” she said quietly, "you were quite right in thinking that Mr. Brooks was going to lose it. He had already lost it. But”— she smiled briefly—"Mr. Haley is absolutely incapable of resisting a woman, no matter how funny looking she is. I haunted him for a whole week and even got his wife to like me, and—what do you know!—he gave me the account—for Mr. Brooks, of course.”

Charlie Blair sat quite speechless.

“By all that’s wonderful!” he gasped at length.

“That’s how badly I wanted to go to lunch with you,” confessed Miss Watkins shamelessly. “But I thought it was going to be for a whole month. Dear me ! Does it sound awfully brazen to hear me talk like this?”

Charlie Blair shook his head.

“I—I’m a little confused,” he said. “Do you mean to tell me that, after this, Brooks is firing you today on account of Newsom and Pinkney?”

Miss Watkins shook her head.

“Dear me, no. Who said I was being fired?”

“I heard you were getting through; that the old man didn’t want to have a girl in the office that his executives would fight

Miss Watkins laughed gently.

"Don’t you fret about that,” she said. "I’m getting through here all right, but I’m not fired. I’m going to Boston to open up the new office there. Don’t look so amazed. I do know the business backward and forward, and I did prove myself by getting the biggest account.”

Charlie Blair stared at her. Minutes passed. Then;

“Do you have to go?” asked Mr. Blair selfishly.

She shook her head, her eyes fixed on his.

“Not if—”

Her eyes said the rest of it. Mr. Blair, in a single stride, stood before her and pulled her out of her chair to his lips.

“Not if what?” he demanded.

“This!” said Miss Watkins with a huge sigh and an economy of words.

The End