Poor Little Mary
Her “lamb” was the classiest lad at Varsity and he “followed” quite satisfactorily until—
BASIL G. PARTRIDGE
IT WAS dawning upon Mr. Randolph Tillinghurst Arnold, voted the "most Ritzy" man of the class of '31, that he was being thrown over in cold blood. It was disastrous. Unbelievable.
He rested one immaculate, blue-serged arm upon the side of the chesterfield and gazed searchingly at “Little” Mary Marquette; at her willowy figure clad in the one shade of green he had permitted her to wear, at her pink and white skin innocent of rouge, at her jet black, glistening hair drawn sleekly back and done in the approved fashion of the moment. Why, deuce take the wench, he had made her! A year ago she had been only an awkward sophomore, over-fond of athletics, who wore her clothes like a clothes-horse. And he had taken her under his wing to give the girl a chance. What a world! What injustice!
None of these thoughts, needless to say, registered themselves upon Mr. Arnold’s face. He gazed at her in gentle detachment.
“And so it is good-by, Mary; Little Mary, my willow wisp o’ love.” (By Jove, that was good. He must jot it down—later.)
Little Mary leaned toward him then.
“I hope you’re not going to blame me too much, Randy. You’re not going to let it embitter you.”
The scent of violets came to him. Even those were his work. The scent she had used when he first knew her ! He shuddered at the thought of it. She could never realize what he had done for her. And she was jilting him for Ward Browne of husky body and half-moon countenance, football captain, hammer thrower, whose entire bourgeoisie soul was mired in athletics.
“Embittered,” replied Mr. Arnold with just the right shade of resigned melancholy in his voice. “You misread me, my dear. Perish the thought. I am only regretting the passing of another illusion. You were such a delightful illusion, Little Mary.”
Her brows wrinkled. He saw that she w-as puzzled. How was it that he had been blinded so long to the fact that she had a one-track mind? Heaven alone could reckon the number of pearls he had thrown before— but no, he must not label Little Mary a porker. It must have been her early training outcropping again. Underneath everything she had always had an athlete’s mind. She loved the hurly-burly of life far more than the more refined bridle paths. Too bad, too bad!
“Good-by,” he said almost hastily and turned toward the door.
She ran toward him. “You’re sure there are no hard feelings, Randy?”
“None,” said Mr. Arnold. “Give me a kiss for good-by.”
“Oh, dear,” complained Little Mary. “I’ve liked you so much, Randy. If only you’d show some signs of life; some vigor at something besides dancing.”
Mr. Arnold held up his hand. “Enough. Didn’t I play football for two years? Throwing and being thrown. Booting and being—uh—ruffled up. All because of the rancid rules of this university making men go through those stupid stunts. Didn’t I box? Socking and being socked. Taking years off my life to no good purpose.” “You could have been the light-heavy champion of Varsity, I know,” breathed Little Mary.
“Thank heaven I escaped in time,” replied Mr. Arnold. “It was a terrible penalty to pay. Two years wasted in swashbuckling horseplay in order to earn two of rest. There are higher things in life than sweaty foreheads and mad conflict, Mary. Ah, yes, that kiss. Be a good girl. Toodle-oo!”
He sauntered forth, out of the house and across the street to where his roadster, battleship grey wdth trimmings of dark green, waited. Out of nowhere a police constable materialized.
“Next time I catch you parking on the wrong side of this street, you’ll get a ticket, university,” he said.
Mr. Arnold did not even bother answering him. He knew without looking that Little Mary was watching him from the window.
“Did you hear me?” snapped the constable.
“I did,” replied Mr. Arnold with dignity. “And I can assure you, if it is any satisfaction to you, that you will not find me parking here again.”
Mr. Arnold, leaving the constable momentarily
speechless, drove off by devious ways to St. George Street, thence east to the circle at Queen's Park and south. Some of the track team were out running. He recognized one and waved condescendingly at him. Athletics, pah! Childish. He drove on slowly, and for no reason at all drew up just before the circle straightens out into University Avenue at the feet of Sir John A. Macdonald.
Great Scott! He must actually have been in love with Little Mary. And he had let her get away. Had thrown her away — into Ward Browne’s gorilla arms. This
was the deuce. He should have been drowned when his bark went ashore on the rocks of carelessness. He could smell those violets yet. Never again would he urge any girl to wear violets. But what matter, he was through with women. He was old and decayed.
Presently Mr. Arnold recovered sufficiently to
continue on into his frat house. He paused at the entrance. None of the immediate circle here must know his trouble. But they, would if he strove to dissemble. They had noses like bloodhounds for anything faintly resembling scandal. Fortunately only Teddy Fairly, his room-mate, was in.
TED FAIRLY was buried in the chesterfield donated by Mr. Arnold’s mother. His feet were unshod and rested upon the window-sill. His attitude was bored, his eyes restless. They settled upon the face of Mr. Arnold.
“Don’t be so darned aggravating,” retorted Mr. Arnold, who loathed this abbreviation of his middle name and perceived that Fairly was in a snooty mood. He never used the nickname otherwise.
Mr. Fairly sat up. True to form, the bloodhound nose was working.
“Du Barry called up and said 3'ou’d overlooked the sweet peas for Miss Marquette. I told them you’d had bad news from home and had overlooked the big muscle-in tonight, but to go ahead. Nothing like encouraging trade these bad days.”
“Ooch!” exclaimed Mr. Arnold. He realized suddenly that he had spent a young fortune on flowers for Little Mary. He half-turned toward the telephone to cancel the order, but the suspicious eyes of Mr. Fairly were upon him; and, besides, the flowers were a gesture, a gracious gesture of farewell.
“The fact is,” he said, “I’m not taking Little Mary to any more dances, my beamish boy.”
“Another woman cast into outer darkness, you low lotuseater.” Mr. Fairly fairly beamed. “You've no idea how helpful you are. Nice gentleman who’s planning to give me a job in June has a young hopeful. Hinted strongly about her going to this muscle-in. You’re the victim.”
“Heh!” yelled Mr. Arnold in genuine dismay. “Lay off.”
But Ted Fairly was already at the telephone. He called a Randolph number.
“Mr. Clarke, please. How d’you do, sir. Ted Fairly speaking. I was wondering if Evangeline would like to go to the frat dance tonight. She would? No, I can’t take her, but my roommate, Mr. Arnold, would be delighted. You know—Mr. Randolph Tillinghurst Arnold. His manners and clothes are the university’s delight. Evangeline will adore him. And he’s quite safe; big brother you know . . . Fine!
We’ll arrange time and the like later. Not at all, sir. The pleasure is all ours. Good-by.”
“From now on I have but one ambition,” declared Mr. Arnold coldly. “I shall cultivate the governor of the jail so I’ll be sure of a ringside seat the day they hang you—you blighted behemoth! Do you think I want to take off for the higher places with some giddy,
giggling girl? Are you balmy in the crumpet? Evangeline!”
"She isn't half bad,” replied Mr. Fairly, unmoved. “She truly isn’t. And her doting daddy has his thumb in all kinds of business pies. Don’t be high hat. You've got to eat after you leave this abode of sin. Furthermore, she’ll save 3rou taxi hire. Her father has four cars.”
“If she goes, she goes in my roadster,” declared Mr. Arnold.
“D’you know any more funny ones?” retorted Mr. Fairly. “Think of the prestige. Millionaire’s daughter coming for 3?ou in her own car.”
“I have my pride,” Mr. Arnold declared gloomily. “She goes with me, or she can go to—”
“All right, all right.” Mr. Fairly surrendered to the inevitable. “Your sense of the fitness of things is deteriorating, Randolph. I’m beginning to think Little Mary gave you the gate.”
“She did.” Mr. Arnold followed up this declaration by walking over to the telephone.
Mr. Fairly looked stunned. “The world is coming to an end,” he said.
“She chucked me for Ward Browne.”
“Who chucked whom?” demanded a third voice cheerily. It belonged to Alfred Horner, lean and long and with an Adam’s apple as agile as a cork in a bathtub.
“Shush!” said Ted Fairly. “It is the time for dimmed lights and soft voices.”
“Yeah. Who’s dead?”
“The prestige of Arnold the Great,” said Mr. Fairly solemnly.
“Will you kindly shut up, both of 3,,ou,” cut in Mr. Arnold. “Is that you, Mr. DuBarry? Randolph Arnold speaking. About those sweet peas for Miss Marquette. Be sure they’re pastel shades. No gay primary colors. And just a moment—Ted, what’s this wench’s name and where does she live?”
“She is not a wench. She Í3 a charming young girl.” “Curse you,” replied Mr. Arnold heatedly, “will you answer me ... No, no, Mr. DuBarry, not you . . . The name is Hollingshead, Miss Evangeline Hollingshead. You know the address, eh? No, not orchids. Use your domepiece. Something unusual. She likes sweet peas? Allah ! I surrender. Let her have what she wants. And don’t send me the bill before the first, because I haven’t got any money to pay it with. Ta, ta!”
“Now,” piped Alfred Horner cheerfully, “let’s have the lowdown on this. What’s happened?”
“Miss Mary Marquette has thrown him over,” said Ted Fairly.
“Bully,” said Alfred. “I’d give my boots if Marion would do the same to me. She’s too expensive, and so darned possessive. I’m afraid to show her the door. She might sue me or shoot me. You’re a lucky beggar, Randolph.”
“I fail to see it,” Mr. Arnold complained.
“She threw him over for Ward Browne,” explained Mr. Fairly.
“Lor’!” exclaimed Alfred. “Well, that proves what I’ve always thought—she’s a nit-wit. Probably thinks that Louis Quinze is what they put with apple to make jam. Golly, I’ve got to get out of here. I just remembered Marion’ll be waiting at Bloor and Yonge. ’TLsn’t healthy to keep Marion waiting." He vanished.
“He’ll marry the woman and lead a dog’s life,” said Mr. Fairly with conviction. “Be thankful for small mercies.”
Mr. Arnold grunted and disappeared into his bedroom.
V\ 7TIEN he reappeared, yawning, dusk had settled W down.
“Cheerio,” greeted Mr. Fairly. “You’re going to be picked up by your fair at ten. Thence to the Royal York for supper-dance. And thence onward to the frat muscle-in.”
“I have no heart to argue with 3rou,” Mr. Arnold said morosely. “All one can do in moments like these is to hope for an occasional perfect moment—and keep a poker face. I feel the pangs of hunger.” He went out to Yonge Street and filled up on steak and French fried potatoes. When he returned Ted Fairly was dressing.
“I’ve got to feed my woman, worse luck,” said Fairly, struggling with his tie. “The exchequer is lower than a rattlesnake’s chin whiskers.”
“Here, here!” Mr. Arnold said compassionately. “Let me fix that tie. After all the time I’ve wasted on you, why will you use the same technique on your ties as on your bootlaces?”
“What’s the use of having the Ritziest man in Varsity for a room-mate if you’ve got to tie 3rour own ties,” said Mr. Fairly. “Much obieeged. See you at the York
around ten. Table’s taken in my name.” He departed, leaving the pleasant odor of mildly-scented soap.
Continued on page 87
Poor Little Mary
Continued from page 21
Mr. Arnold considered for a moment, then rang up Evangeline Hollingshead.
“I dislike the planning of Fairly,” he informed her. “I’ll come for you with my roadster. It is not illustrious but it runs, and yesterday a penniless frosh washed it off for a pittance.”
He had expected eager young acceptance. Instead she said in a voice that was delightfully throaty but quite firm.
“Don’t bother. I like to exercise the chauffeur. He eats too much and does too little.”
“Very well,” replied Mr. Arnold. She was evidently a sophisticated and spoiled child. Quite probably a nuisance to her parents and to everyone else. What a problem women were! However, it was only a matter of a few hours.
At a quarter to ten the Hollingshead chauffeur rang the doorbell, and Mr. Randolph Tillinghurst Arnold descended. The long mirror at the foot of the steps
was most flattering. He paused for just an instant to deftly twitch his tie. If his heart was disarranged, at least his attire should be faultless. He stepped into the luxurious limousine, mildly curious about Evangeline.
The overhead light showed her to him plainly. His pulses began to race. She was estimable. Her hair, parted in the centre and drawn back, was corn silk. Gad, what bleach so perfect had she discovered at nineteen? She had stolen Little Mary’s own shade of green for her evening gown. Her eyes were soft grey; as .soft and as grey as the rabbit that edged her darker green evening cloak. And he caught the flicker of silver from her shoes as the light went out with the shutting of the door. For the moment his interest was challengedr Then he remembered that he could no longer regard women as anything but of secondary importance.
“It was so good of you to trust DuBarry’s judgment on flowers,” she said. “I adore sweet peas.”
She was young after all. He felt that underneath her calm exterior there was delight in being taken to dance by Randolph Tillinghurst Arnold. He would
do nothing to destroy her illusions. If he was no longer deceived by the gaddings of life, an admirer of surfaces rather than a plumber of depths, he could at least keep up a pretense.
He launched into sparkling conversation as the car swept onward. They were swinging into the eastern entrance of the Royal York before she said:
“One would never think you were heartbroken. You are marvellous.”
Mr. Arnold flashed her a swift glance. Curse the garrulous Mr. Fairly!
“It was nothing,” he said evenly, “just a trifling error in judgment. They are a maturing influence in one’s life, if not particularly stimulating at the moment.” “I have no complaint to make of you so far,” retorted Evangeline. Was she pulling his leg? Impossible. She was just talking. Idle prattle.
Ted Fairly was already settled at the table. He had a sophomore, very viva-
cious but much too thick of ankle. Her father owned horses which she rode at shows. She was still bobbing her hair, which was painfully straight and flopped around when she moved her head, which was continually.
She cried out strident greetings to Evangeline.
"I’m a wreck. Positively. Danced till six this morning, slept till ten and have been riding ever since. How’s the mare your dad bought from DeLancey?”
“Let’s dance,’’ said Mr. Arnold abruptly. “If people must talk horse, why not stay in the stable?”
“ Y ou are rude, but you dance divinely,” remarked*Evangeline presently.
“It’s a factor in the art of living.”
ORESENTLY he turned her over to AMr. Fairly and went his persecuted way with the society bud, who was light as a feather but talked constantly in his ear. He suffered her gabble, compensated by the sight of Evangeline. How could one bleach hair so perfectly! And her back was thoroughbred. His eyes, wandering around, suddenly settled on a table set back against the west wall. In the dim light he had not noticed before.
; Little Mary was sitting there—with Ward ; Browne. Upon honor, this was too much.
At that instant Evangeline’s eyes met : his. She had seen. Mr. Arnold felt i annoyed. Little Mary and the impossible 1 Browne were dancing. Mr. Arnold felt suddenly empty. In the grip of senile decay. He felt in another world, detached. Little Mary had done this to him.
He was brought to life by Evangeline. She said gently but firmly:
“What in the world possessed her to wear that shade of yellow? It simply isn’t done.”
Mr. Arnold felt happier. Evangeline was a cute trick after all. And she was right. Little Mary’s ruddy color and that particular shade of yellow fought. He would never have allowed her to wear such an atrocity. Hadn’t he told her a thousand times that green was her color? The girl was going down hill already. He danced again with Ted Fairly’s woman and watched Little Mary fascinated. For a moment they were close together. He smelled violets. She whispered swiftly: “Dance with me later.”
Mr. Arnold nodded and that same instant found himself looking into Evangeline’s eyes over the top of his partner’s head. Evangeline’s grey eyes were mocking. At the table, when the dance ended, she said:
“She concentrates well, doesn’t she? Intense stuff.”
“She’s a confounded nuisance,’’ declared Mr. Arnold warmly.
Evangeline’s eyes danced. “Is that a confession, Ritziest man?”
Mr. Arnold regarded her with smoldering eyes. Why should a beautiful girl, who obviously enjoyed the course of a stupid world, be inflicted on him this one evening?
“When you grow up—and you’d better make it soon—you’ll realize that life is all a mirage. You rush for a drink of water and find only hot sand.”
She laughed softly. “I hadn’t realized that Varsity men thought water the best bet at an oasis,” she said.
“Bravo!” applauded Mr. Arnold. “Shall we go on to bigger and better things?”
While Evangeline went for her wraps, he stood near the cloakroom. Little Mary and Ward Browne crossed the lobby. One poignant glance came from Little Mary. The light in which she stood softened the yellow dress. He felt no stirrings of tenderness. She left him cold. He could never feel the same about her or any other woman.
“En avant,’’ remarked Evangeline cheerfully at his shoulder. He liked the gentle smell of lavender which emanated from her. Somehow it suited her. She was a charming child. He must extend himself to make her evening a success. It was not so difficult. She was so naive. Before the car reached the Country Club he felt protectingly tender toward her.
As she came toward him for the first dance he saw that she was lovely. He had wronged her about her hair. No hair that had known bleach could retain such silken softness. Her gown was superb. She would do him credit.
A male voice said sotto voce: “They should give you an M.A., Randy. You have the Ziegfeld eye.”
The owner of the voice took Evangeline away two minutes later, but didn’t keep her long. The green and silver dress was here, there, everywhere. Mr. Arnold saw her laughing gaily, her eyes wide with the joy of life. It was incredible that any girl in 1931 should come to nineteen and still bubble over with obvious enjoyment.
Mr. Arnold went to the balcony above, where he could watch the miracle. He felt a strange inward glow. But he was not to have peace. Ted Fairly hissed: “For Pete’s sweet sake, go and dance with Little Mary before she drowns herself in the punch bowl.”
This was tiresome, but Mr. Arnold went down. And before he knew it Little Mary appeared from nowhere.
“Randy, I want so much to talk to you.”
The perfume of violets overwhelmed him. She had put too much on, he thought vaguely, but he walked out to the verandah with her. The night was glorious, cool not cold, the sky patterned with stars; other worlds. He wondered if there were Country Clubs on them, and women, blessed and troublesome. Little Mary was drawing him into one of the few unoccupied corners.
“It was so lovely of you, Randy, to send the flowers. I feel so—so badly about this business.”
Had the woman brought him out here to tell him this trite stuff? Randolph Tillinghurst Arnold felt irritated. But he sat on his irritation. The possibilities of the moment should be developed to the full.
“Don’t waste pity on me, Little Mary,” he said with appropriate melancholy. “All this is destiny. I was fated to be the runner-up. Who can fight fate? I shall console myself with that.”
“I didn’t know I meant so much to you, Randy.”
This was the Open Sesame. He let himself go.
“That’s just it. You should have seen. But the whim of the gods was to blind your eyes. Don’t pity me. Forget me. I’ll get along. If my heart aches I’ll comfort myself with the knowledge that you are fulfilling your destiny. In time I’ll get used to not seeing you, not caressing you.” He threw a superb tremolo into his voice. “Perhaps some day I'll even be able to forgive some other girl for not being you—my lost love.”
Mr. Arnold thrilled. By Jove, he had her on the run. He would deliver the quietus, the mortal thrust. He pressed her hand.
“Go your way, dear. Obliviate the past. Be happy, that’s all I ask. Good-by.” He rose abruptly and strode off. Gad, he was perfect! He had given her a thrill; the thrill of conquest, in imagination. And his technique had been impeccable. Let her go her way with Ward Browne. Now for Evangeline.
' I ’HE dance was beginning to thin out.
Food was upon the scene. He took Evangeline from a circle of admiring males.
“You’d better have a scarf,” he said protectingly. When that was got they strolled out into the night. Her fingers, light on his sleeve, thrilled him. She was exquisite.
“Eve,” he breathed suddenly, “I—I—”
“Randy !” cried a voice, Little Mary’s. “I’ve simply got to speak to you a minute.”
“One of your friends?” said Evangeline coolly. “Bad manners—but apparently in need of your expert attention.” She withdrew her arm.
“Mary,” Mr. Arnold said, “have you gone entirely balmy?”
But Little Mary heeded him not. “Randy, please,” she begged.
“A thousand pardons for being in the road,” remarked Evangeline dryly. She vanished behind the shrubs which lined the gravel driveway.
Mr. Arnold yearned to go after her, but Little Mary clung to him and she was a husky girl.
“I never dreamed you cared so much, Randy. “I’ve—I’ve told Ward I made a mistake. I gave him back his ring.”
Mr. Arnold stared at her. Words failed him utterly. This was Waterloo, Sedan, the Retreat from Moscow, all rolled into one. He had overreached himself. That flawless technique. Ugh ! It had proved a boomerang.
“Mary,” he muttered finally, “you mustn’t do anything rash.” His voice gained power, the power of desperation. “You can’t throw Ward Browne over like this.”
“But I’m yours, Randy,” cooed Little
Continued on page 42
Continued from page 38
Mary. “I’ve always belonged to you really.” She came closer. The odor of violets crept upward to his nostrils. He made a weak effort to break away, but she clung tightly to his lapels, her face lifted to his. As one in a trance he bent to kiss her lips.
“Disgusting!” exclaimed Evangeline. Little Mary stepped back. “Go away !” she said, but uncertainly.
“I shall, presently,” promised Evangeline, “and I shall take Randy with me.” “You wouldn’t dare,” exclaimed Little Mary. “I’m engaged to Randy.”
“I’m afraid you’re hopelessly dumb,” replied Evangeline coldly. “You haven’t the remotest notion what it’s all about. Can’t you realize that he’s been giving you a good time? He’s hypnotized you with his flow of Ciceronian applesauce. That’s his whole aim in life; to ladle out applesauce to people. He’s made a fine art of it. Snap out of it, Mary. Wake up.” “Randy,” pleaded Little Mary, “send her away. She’s horrid.”
Mr. Arnold gazed from one woman to the other. Dimly through his numbed brain flitted the pale ghost of a pat phrase concerning the disaster of allowing female contemporaries to meet. He realized that Evangeline was dissecting him; laying his soul bare to any and all who cared to listen.
“I’m afraid you are stupid, Mary,” Evangeline went on evenly. “You haven’t got it through your head even yet that he’s only an egotistical little college boy, who wears his clothes well and has learned to pose; that he can admire surfaces but can’t plumb depths.” This was getting it back with a vengeance. Mr. Arnold writhed. At this point Little Mary lost her temper. She said things. But they didn’t amount to much. They were crude. An angry girl, without the intelligence to balance her spears before hurling them. Mr. Arnold gained the impression that she was shooting birdshot at a stone deer; throwing pebbles at a marble Diana.
“Are you quite through?” enquired Evangeline when Mary had exhausted herself. “If I were you, I’d stagger, weeping, back to your athletic boy friend. Probably by now he’s realized you’ve been rude to him. Tears will make all well. Don’t hang on to them. Let go.
Weep quarts. He’ll adore it . . . Come Randolph!”
Merciful Allah, they two were walking on down the drive! Little Mary was once more in the background. But concerning the foreground, Mr. Arnold was not so sure. To tell the truth, he felt a little sick.
They walked on and on in silence. Suddenly Evangeline said very softly: “I’m terribly sorry. I shouldn’t have been so outspoken.”
“Might as well say it as think it,” murmured Mr. Arnold. “And, after all, I guess it’s true.”
“Yes, it is true.”
Silence for several minutes.
“I fear me I am a hopeless ass,” said Mr. Arnold drearily at length.
To his surprise the simple remark brought forth a flow of words.
“You are,’’ declared Evangeline emphatically. “You’ve covered up all the worth-while you with a double layer of piffling, worthless hokum. Someone large and husky should give you a good kick, Mr. Randolph Tillinghurst Arnold.” Something stirred within Mr. Arnold at that moment. He knelt on hands and knees on the grass.
“Perform,” he begged.
“Randy, get up.” She was helping him vigorously. He hadn’t realized she could be so strong. “You may like to act the fool, but I don’t care for any of it.” “Sorry,” said Mr. Arnold huskily, and discovered that for some strange reason he was holding her hand. “Eve.”
She did not draw away.
“Randy, you’re awfully nice underneath. I—I simply had to get you away from that moron.”
“Eve!” There was all the music of the radiant spheres in Mr. Arnold’s voice. She was in his arms, asking:
“Do you promise to behave like a human being? To hunt a job the minute commencement’s over? Do you . . . ?” But the rest was never finished. It was checked by the first kiss Mr. Randolph Tillinghurst Arnold had ever really enjoyed in all his gallivanting young life.
“I do, I do,” he whispered. “Anything. Everything!”
He followed the first kiss with a second. “I shall never be good enough for you, Eve,” he said tenderly and realized that he was saved; that he meant it.