JOHN RHODES STURDY
What happened when a gentleman with two left feet met an angel with tender toes
MONTY GRIER was in the middle of some very complicated figuring. The sheet of paper on his desk was divided into four distinct columns, which he had headed respectively: Dinner, Supper, Tea and Country Club. Under these headings were long rows of figures underlined, added, ruled out and added again. The supper column was especially long, and the total sum large. Monty drew his pencil through it with a disgusted grunt. Likewise with dinner and country club. He glanced across at Eric Scott, who was reclined on the sofa reading a magazine.
“Ric,” he murmured, “my only safe bet is a tea dance.” Eric turned his head. “Eh?” he asked blankly.
“I’ve figured it all out. Tea’s the cheapest, and I’ll just about be able to make it. If I take her on a week day I won’t have to pay cover charge, and that saves me about three bucks. Do you think she’ll eat much?”
Eric shrugged. “Depends,” he replied, “on how well you have her trained. Take Peggy and me. Peggy knows better than to be hungry at a tea dance. It’s two orangeades, and that s final. It’s a good test, too, first time you take a girl out. If she orders orangeade then you know she’s all right.” “What if she takes tea and toast?” asked Monty.
Fair, just fair. Because, if you take an orangeade girl supper dancing, she s sure to order a sandwich. But you can t be positive about the tea and toast kind. She might come out with a chicken à la king, and ruin vour bankroll for a year. Who’s the girl?”
Eric s eyebrows rose. “You mean the one you met in the drugstore the other day?”
t That s her, fella. Smart, isn’t she?”
Well she looks all right, I guess. But—” He hesitated and glanced at his magazine. “I guess she’s all right,” he concluded in a mumble.
Monty was rubbing his thick brown hair. “Fran’s the smartest girl I ye ever known,” he murmured. “She likes me, too. She said so last night at the movies. I mean, she’s
so different from the other girls around town. Not like those silly debs. Fran’s older and she knows more.”
He suddenly frowned. “She wants me to take her dancing, but I'm such a punk dancer. Aren't I, Ric?”
“Well, I guess maybe you need a little practice.”
“You know darned well I do. I’ve never liked dancing very much. And, hang it, I can’t get out there on the floor with her and make a fool of myself.
What can I do, fella?’
Eric tossed aside his magazine and sat up. “Take lessons,” he suggested.
“Yes, but who will give them to me?”
Eric scratched his ear.
“Umm, I don’t know. Let’s think.” He suddenly slapped his knee. “How about Honor Lewes?”
"Oh. no.” Monty shook his head. “She wouldn’t want to be bothered.”
“Of course she would.
And let me tell you. Honor could make a dancer out of a boiled egg. Best stepper in this little old burg. Gosh, how she can dance ! He rose to his feet. "I’m going to give her a ring.”
“Do you think she’ll mind?”
“Honor’s an old flame of yours, isn't she? You used to be around there all the time. I'll call her.” Eric walked from the room.
Monty glanced at the slip of paper on his desk, grunted, and crumpled it into a ball. Girls liked to go tea dancing. Maybe not as well as supper dancing, but when a fellow had only a couple of dollars to his name, what could he do about it? And Frances would understand. Funny how he had met her. quite by accident, in the drugstore. She lived with another girl over on F raser Street; both newcomers to town.
Frances was lovely. Tall and dark, with eyes that gave him a funny little thrill every time he looked into them. She was artistic, perhaj>s a trifle less conventional than girls like Honor and Peggy Hart, but then Frances was older and had seen more of life. And she liked him. She had told him so last night, and he had hardly slept a wink thinking about her.
Eric came back shortly. “Everything’s set,” he announced. "Honor says to drop over there right away.” Monty looked at him. "I don’t feel like going,” he muttered. “I mean, a girl teaching a fellow to dance. It seems kinda sissified.”
"Well, you want to impress your girl, don’t you?”
"Yes, I know —”
Eric grasped his arm. "Oh, drop that stuff. Honor will make you a dancer, if anyone can.”
V\ TTI'II some reluctance Monty agreed, and they left W the house and climbed into his little roadster. 1 le felt rather uncomfortable. After all, no fellow likes to have a girl teach him anything. Honor was such a good head, of course, and she would understand, but he felt pretty queer about it. He had never cared very much for dancing. He did dance, at deb parties and things like that, but he had not paid much attention to new steps and new dances. Most of the fellows in the crowd could dance rings around Monty, and yet it had not bothered him greatly until now. Now there was Frances.
They stopped in front of the Lewes’ very beautiful home and went up to the door, Monty plucking nervously at the lapels of his coat. A maid let them in, and they waited in the living room for I lonor.
"Peach of a home, this,” murmured Eric admiringly, gazing around at the tasteful furniture. “I think the Lewes know how to do things better than anybody in town. I bet there's not one family in a hundred would know how to make expensive furniture look comfortable like this.” Monty and Eric turned at the entrance of Honor. She greeted them with a smile and siux>k hands with them both. Honor was like the house. Genuine, and friendly. Her features were very finely molded, the nose small, the eyes brown and expressive. Her golden hair was set back from her forehead, half exposing her ears, and fixed in a neat roll at the back. She was dressed simply and tastefully. Honor knew how to wear clothes.
“Well. Monty!” she greeted. "Where have you been keeping yourself?”
Monty shrugged. "Oh, hanging around," he replied. "How’s Jimmie?”
"Jimmie Quinlan? 1 don’t see Jimmie very much.” Monty said. "Oh, yeah?" to himself. Jimmie Quinlan was the one who had broken up things with Honor and himself. Not that it mattered now, because there was Frances.
“How is your mother?” he asked.
"Mother is fine. Monty. She says, though, that you’ve neglected us shamefully.”
"Let’s get started,” suggested Eric. "Monty wants to dust up his dancing, I lonor. You’ll have a hard job teaching him. He’s pretty punk.”
Monty flushed, and Honor smiled. “Monty dances quite well,” she said. “Everybody gets out of practice.” "Don’t put any conceited ideas in his head.” warned Eric, grinning. “He’ll never learn if you do that."
Monty rubbed the rug with the point of his shoe. "I guess you think it's kinda funny. Honor, me asking you to do this. But—” He hesitated, and Honor touched his arm. "I'm glad to do it. Monty,” she said.
"Fine!” cried Eric. "I’ll get some music.” He went over to the large radio in the corner of the room and turned the switch.
"I’m pretty terrible, you know," confided Monty to Honor.
"You only think you are, Monty. Dancing is easy. You love it when you know the real thrill of it.”
“Maybe, but I've never gone in for dancing, much.” “Just wait, Monty. It gets in your blood like bridge.” "Here she comes.” cried Eric, as music began to fill the room. “Let’s go, Honor.”
\ÆONTY flushed and felt uncomfortable. He held out -‘•V-*his arms nervously, and Honor, smiling, put her hand on his shoulder. 1 íe started to move, his face red and his knees quivering. Forward, sideways, backward. He knew he looked awkward, and that made it all the worse. Forward, sideways . His muscles were taut and his legs stiff. Gosh, this was awful. Bravely he attempted a hesitant, nervous swirl, and stepped heavily on one of Honor’s toes. Immediately he released her. blushing profusely.
“Gee, I’m—I'm sorry!”
Eric, at the side of the room, burst into a howl of laughter. "Gosh!” he exploded, slapping his knees with his hands. “Gosh, look at Maurice, himself! Oh, jumping jiniminy!” His body was shaking with mirth.
Honor regarded the chortling young man calmly. “Please go. Eric,” she said. "You’re only making us nervous. Please, like a good sport.”
Eric clamped his hand to his mouth. “Okay.” he mumbled, and turned to the door. "Have a good -oh, haw'-haw'” He ran out, almost doubled up with laughter.
Monty was as red as a beetroot. He looked guiltily at Honor. “I guess—I guess I’d better be running along.”
She held his arms. “You’ll do nothing of the sort,” she commanded. "How could anyone dance with Eric looking on? Hold me, Monty. Don’t make your left arm so stiff. And relax. You have to relax when you’re dancing. Now, Monty.”
They started again. Monty growing a little bolder with each step. They made a complete circle of the room, and then Honor said: “Take smaller steps. Monty. And sway. Keep in time to the music.”
She was very light in his arms. And she followed perfectly, her every motion
corresponding and harmonizing with his own. His legs began to lose their former stiffness and there was more certainty in his step.
“Sway, Monty, sway.”
He suddenly commenced to whistle, and a funny little feeling crept into his head. Gosh, this was all right !
AN HOUR later they were gliding to the rhythm of a dreamy waltz tune, and he was holding her closely, her hair against his cheek. Gee, he was dancing, really dancing—and loving it!
She was so graceful: only the touch of her hair and her hands made him know that she was in his arms.
He closed his eyes and glided to the soft music, oblivious to everything but the haunting melody and Honor.
There was no hesitation in his step now. He had forgotten his awkward self-consciousness; forgotten Eric and his laughter, and his own reluctance to learn anything from a girl. There was only Honor now, and the dreamy melody that ran through his head.
Neither Honor nor Monty spoke. And when the music came to an end and Monty released her from his arms. Honor looked up at him. her eyes shining.
He did not speak for a moment. That strange feeling still held him. And then he murmured slowly:
“You’re a beautiful dancer. Honor.”
She smiled. "You made me dance well,” she said.
"It was the loveliest waltz I’ve ever had.”
“I guess you’re right, about it getting in your blood.”
“Do you like dancing now. Monty?”
He nodded. "Swell.” he said. “Gosh, it seems
funny, me liking to dance. It may be a fluke—I mean, I may be terrible tomorrow.”
“It wasn't a fluke. Monty. I know.”
“I guess I’ve missed a lot. not taking it seriously, makes you feel so good, dancing, doesn't it?”
Honor nodded without speaking. She was smiling very happily.
Just at that moment Eric burst in on them. He was grinning from ear to ear.
“Well,” he greeted heartily, “how're the lessons coming along? Thought I’d drop back to bathe your feet, Honor, or something.”
Honor laughed. “There’s no need, Eric. Monty dances beautifully.”
“What? No kidding?”
She shook her head. “No kidding.”
Eric turned to Monty. “Say, that’s swell, all right. If Honor says you’re good, you are, boy. Now you can make things fly with that new flame of yours.”
“Yes.” replied Monty, flushing. Honor was looking at him but he did not notice it. The look of happiness had suddenly died from her eyes.
“He’s taking her to tea.” said Eric to Honor, "and the poor nut was scared stiff he'd make a mess of it. He Eric suddenly broke off, bit his lip and glanced at Monty. "I guess,” he continued. "I’d better be running along.” "Yes,” said Monty, “it’s getting kinda late.” He looked at Honor. “Thanks a lot, Honor. You’re a swell teacher.” “I want to thank you. Monty. I enjoyed every minute of it.” Her voice was low. and there might have been a catch in it. She saw them to the front door and said good-by.
As the two young men climbed in the roadster, Monty said: “You shouldn’t have come out with that, Ric. About Frances.”
“Oh. I don’t know, but it seemed kinda mean. Me going to Honor for lessons so I can dance with another girl.”
“She understands, boy. There’s nothing between you two.”
“Sure. I know, but still—”
Eric grinned a little, but Monty did not see the grin. He dropped Eric at his house and drove home, thinking deeply. Dancing was pretty swell, all right, once you really knew how to dance. What a waltz that one with Honor had been. The dreamy melody was still lingering in his head, and that funny feeling had not quite disappeared. Queer about that feeling. Maybe, though, dancing did things to a fellow.
He wouldn’t be nervous now with Frances. He would take her out on the floor, hold her in his arms as he had held Honor, and dance. There was a great band at the Hotel
Norton, where the younger set took their tea dancing. Jack Neale and his orchestra; the best and smoothest in town. He would glide with Frances to the rhythm of Jack Neale’s music, holding her close to him. with her head against his cheek.
Eric had been a nut to mention her to Honor.
MONTY telephoned Frances that evening and made a date for the following afternoon. She sounded delighted, and that made his heart swell. Boy, there was a girl !
He did not sleep very soundly that night, making it two wakeful nights in a row, which alarmed his mother.
“What is the matter, Monty?” she asked in the morning.
“But there must be. You act so listless. Is it a girl?”
“Who is she? Honor Lewes?”
* Honor?” The name startled him. “No, it’s not Honor. A girl I met the other day. Her name’s Frances Binnie.”
Monty called for Frances at her little flat, around fourthirty in the afternoon. She greeted him affectionately, with a little squeeze of the hand and a gay smile. She was really good-looking, if you did not mind a slightly drooping mouth and eyes that did not always shine with a natural brilliancy. She could appear beautiful if you were in love with her. Her hair was black and glossy, and her outfit today was of the same color. Monty regarded her in admiration.
Be with you in a second,” she said, and ran into the bedroom for her hat and purse. Monty, roaming around, noticed for the first time a picture of a dark-haired man on the far wall. When Frances returned he asked: “Who’s the man?”
“Oh, someone I used to know. Come on, Monty.”
They drove in the little roadster to the Hotel Norton, and Monty began to get the shivers. He wasn’t so confident of himself, after all. What if he stepped on her feet?
“I’d love to see the picture at the Palace tonight,” said Frances, with a glance at him.
"Fine,” he agreed readily. “We’ll take it in.”
“It would be nice to go dancing after, don’t you think?” Monty nodded silently. Two dollars, four dollars —he wondered if his mother had any change. There was no hope of a loan from his father, and Eric was just about at the breaking point. Oh, well, time enough to worry about that. Tea was the paramount consideration. He wondered if he would impress her.
They went into the beautiful Rose Room, where Jack Neale and his orchestra played for the daily tea dance. There was a fair crowd at tables; young men and girls, friends of Monty. He nodded to them as he crossed the room with Frances, and he felt as proud as a peacock. This was one of those truly great moments in a lifetime. Like wearing a first suit of long trousers.
They took a table at the edge of the dance floor, and Monty noticed, with some surprise and perhaps a little guiltiness, that Honor occupied the next table, accompanied by Eric, Peggy, and Jimmie Quinlan. He nodded to her as he took his chair, and she answered the greeting with a friendly smile.
Eric said, “Hi, boy!” and Jimmie Quinlan murmured a long, deep, “Ahh !”
Frances hardly glanced at the other table. She took her seat, regarded the menu for a moment and turned to the attending waiter.
“Hot muffins with honey and tea,” she ordered.
Monty did some frantic calculating. “I ’ll have the same.” he said, because, after all, you couldn’t nuke a girl feel bad by ordering orangeade on top of her muffins and tea.
The orchestra struck up, and Jimmie Quinlan took Honor out on the floor, grinning brazenly at Monty. Quinlan thought he was pretty good, all right. Monty wondered what Honor saw in him.
There were several couples dancing now, and Frances followed a boy and his girl with her eyes.
“Don't they look stupid?” she said to Monty. "If I danced that badly I wouldn’t show myself inside a hotel. And the man -just look at the way he’s lumbering along.” Monty guljxxl. He began to feel a little weak around the knees.
“You’d think,” continued Frances, “that a man would have more self-respect than to make an exhibition of himself like that. Wouldn’t you, Monty?”
Frances’ eyes fell on Honor and Jimmie Quinlan. “Who’s that girl?” she asked. “The one in the green dress?” "Honor Lewes.”
“Oh - one of your society friends. You have a lot of them, haven’t you, Monty, but you never seem to introduce them to me.”
Monty looked at her. “Gosh, I’m sorry,” he said. “I’ll introduce you to Honor right after this dance.”
“Oh. I don’t know whether she’d like it. You know I’m not very much socially. It might be embarrassing for you.” “I don’t understand you, Fran.” Monty’s brow was puckered.
“No?” Frances laughed sharply. “Well, I understand you, my little aristocrat. You take me to shows and for drives, and make love to me. I'm all right for that sort of thing. But I don’t see you making any rush to introduce me to all those society friends of yours, with their expensive clothes and big houses. I’m not good enough for them.” Monty was staring at her. “You—-don’t mean that?” he gasped almost in horror.
“And I’ve heard that emotional line before. Plenty of times.”
“Fran, you’re not serious?”
She laughed. “Oh, you’re good, kid ! I’ve got to hand it to you. You can speel it out like an old-timer. But you’re only a child, after all. I saw that flush on your cheeks when you saw those friends of yours. You’d like to beat it. wouldn’t you? Well, you’re not. You’re going to stay here and dance with me, in front of all your high-hat friends.” Monty looked down at the tablecloth. “I guess,” he said slowly, “that I’ve made a mistake.”
She looked at him with a slight frown, suddenly bit her lip and said: “I was kidding, Monty. I only wanted to find out if you liked me.”
Monty glanced up. "You’ve made me feel pretty rotten. Fran. Gosh, there’s nobody in the world I wouldn’t introduce you to, and not feel proud. 1 thought you knew that.” “Forgive me,” she said hurriedly, “I suppose it was a mean trick. Here’s the tea. Let's forget about it.”
DUT Monty did not forget it. He hated things like that;
cheap things. Perhaps she had been fooling, but it hadn’t been a very decent way to fool. And she had halfthought, suspected, that he was asliamed of her. Ashamed of her! All the fellows to whom he liad raved about her said that she was the swellest girl in the world. It hurt, a whole lot.
I le ate his muffins silently and drank a little tea. Frances was suddenly gay again, but her gaiety was so apparently artificial and forced. What was she doing? Did she really like it, or was she playing him for what he was worth? He had been so certain of her sincerity before, but now he found himself wondering.
The dance was finished and the party had returned to the next table. Honor smiled at Monty as she took her seat, and Jimmie Quinlan made a grimace at him. Jimmie was pretty sure of himself today.
“I'll introduce you to I lonor now,” Monty said to Frances. “No, never mind. Let’s be together.”
"But I want you to meet her.”
They crossed to the table where Honor and the others were seated. Eric and Jimmie Quinlan rose to their feet.
Monty looked at Honor. “I want you to meet Frances Binnie, Honor,” he said. “Fran, this is Honor Lewes.” Honor smiled. “How do you do, Frances?” and the other girl answered the greeting with a brief nod. Monty introduced her to Peggy, and then Honor said, smiling at Frances: “Will you join us at this table? We’d love to have you. The waiter can move your tea things.”
“Thank you,” replied Frances. “But it’s so much bother. I’m very glad to have met you, Miss Lewes. Thank you again for the invitation.”
Monty flushed scarlet as Frances turned away. He looked at Honor, attempted a little smile, and excused himself. Frances was sipping her tea when he reached his chair. The orchestra struck up. i
“I don’t see why you had to snub my friends,” he said warmly.
“Snub? I merely wanted to have you to myself, Monty.”
Continued on page 45
Continued from page 9
“Let's dance, shall we?”
Frances rose and walked out on the floor. Monty looked at the next table and saw that Jimmie Quinlan and Peggy were alone. Honor was dancing with Eric.
Monty took Frances in his arms and started off. that nervous feeling taking hold of him again. He remembered Honor’s instructions: “Take little steps, Monty, and sway.” He did his best, but he knew from the very first side-shuffle that he was a goner. His feet were getting tangled, and a nervous quiver was running down his arms to his fingertips. He labored around the floor once, stepping timidly and all out of time with the music. Frances put back her head for a moment and gave him a dark look. That finished things. He stepped forward twice, shut his teeth grimly and attempted a twirl. He executed it perfectly, all but the finish. His right foot somehow went the wrong direction and landed heavily on Frances’ left toe.
The cry was sharp and piercing. Dancers near them turned their heads sharply, surprised and startled. Even the waiters stared. Frances was bending over, feeling her toe and gasping in pain.
X^ONTY’S face was crimson. He put out his hands, choked, and lowered them helplessly again. It seemed that a million eyes were turned on him. He saw Jimmie Quinlan snickering. He saw a waiter cover up a grin with the palm of his hand. He saw Honor looking at him, her cheeks a little flushed.
“Gee!” he mumbled. “Gee, I’m sorry!”
Frances stood up straight. Her mouth was quivering with anger.
“Oh. you awkward brute!” she cried, i “Stepping on my toes! Oh. you — !”
He looked at her pleadingly. “Please, | Fran.” he whispered. “Don’t make a scene. | Dance with me.”
“Dance? With you!” She was in a temper. "I’ll never dance with you again as long as I live.”
“Fran, everybody’s staring at us.”
“Do I care? Oh, you clumsy brute!”
A dark-haired man, with a smile on his lips, interrupted them.
“Hello, Fran!” he greeted. It was the man of the picture in Frances’ flat.
“Joe! Where did you come from?”
“Oh, out of somewhere. Just saw you a | minute ago.” He smiled at Monty. “Mind if I cut in? That’s right, kid. Be bighearted.”
He took Frances in his arms and danced away with her, leaving Monty standing ! alone, with his mouth open and his cheeks i burning. Slowly he retreated from the ! dance floor, moving in a daze. She had ridiculed him in front of Honor and Eric, and all his friends. She had called him a j clumsy brute. And he had thought her the j swellest girl in the world.
He slumped down on his chair, staring at the white cloth. He understood now. She hadn’t cared for him, not the least. She had probably laughed at his infatuation for her. and been a little flattered by his admiring attentions. Any girl liked to have fellows at her beck and call.
Jimmie Quinlan, with a menu and a pencil in his hand, sat down opposite him and struck a pose.
“Good day,” he said importantly. “I represent one of the biggest theatrical producers in New York. We’re casting for a new show; our most stupendous in years. I’ve just witnessed your most original dance number and I’m prepared to make you an offer to appear in our production as a specialty dancer. Regarding salary—”
Monty interrupted wearily. “Go away, Jimmie. You're not funny right now.”
Jimmie Quinlan grinned. “How’s it feel?” he asked.
"Beat it, Jimmie, before I start something big around here.
Jimmie Quinlan hesitated, decided that Monty meant what he said, and went back to his table.
Monty took up Frances’ little handbag and fingered it. He knew that people were staring at him. It was a good joke; a funny joke. Everybody in town would laugh long and loud. Well, let them laugh.
The music stopped and Frances and her partner came over to the table. Monty rose, the purse in his hands.
"I have to leave,” said Frances. “Thank you very much.”
He handed her the bag. “Do you want me to see you home?” he asked quietly.
“No, thanks. You can stay with your friends.”
She turned abruptly and walked toward the doors. The dark-haired man looked curiously at Monty.
“You took her seriously, kid?” he asked.
Monty did not reply.
The other frowned. “Say, that’s kinda tough, youngster. Maybe it’s a good thing I happened in town today.” He put his hand on Monty’s arm. “Lots of nice girls in this world for you, kid. Leave the other kind to clucks like me, because we’re built that way and you’re not. So long.”
X-JE TURNED away, and Monty was left alone. He sat down at the table, conscious that every eye in the room was looking at him. There were half-suppressed chortles and someone laughed outright once, but Monty did not even tum his head. Oh, he was a prize nut, all right! Letting a girl pull wool over his eyes. The crowd would enjoy that. Honorand that hurt. He did not dare look at Honor. She probably thought, with the rest of them, that Monty Grier was the biggest sucker in the world. You couldn’t blame her. though. Shouting around what a swell girl was Frances Binnie. Boasting you had her clicked. And then stepping on her toes in the middle of a dance floor and having her walk out fiat on you. What could a fellow expect after that?
He had to get out quickly. Before Jimmie Quinlan had a chance to make any more of his wisecracks. Monty felt that he would slay Jimmie if that happened. He called for the check, keeping his eyes away from the other tables. When it was paid he rose to his feet, stuck out his chin defiantly and crossed to the doorway. People followed him with their eyes, and he heard whispers' as he passed.
Just as he reached the doors a hand was laid on his shoulder. He turned, flushing, to find Eric in front of him.
"Monty,” said Eric, "Honor wants you to dance with her.”
“Dance? I’m going home.”
Eric spoke earnestly. "Listen, boy. don’t you understand? You can’t run away like this. You’ve got to stay and show them all you don't care. Make them swallow their snickers. They’ll laugh at you forever if you beat it. Honor wants you to dance.” Monty looked down at the floor. “I don’t need anyone's sympathy,” he murmured.
"Sympathy! It’s a lot more than sympathy, fella. Show them you’re big enough to take it with a smile. You’ve got the finest girl in town to help you. Coming, Monty?”
Monty looked at the tables and lifted his head. "I'm coming.” he said grimly. He walked back with Eric, oblivious to the looks and the whispers. He stood over the table and looked at Honor. The music began.
Jimmie Quinlan shot a surprised glance at
Monty. He turned hurriedly to Honor. “Dance?” he asked.
She looked up at Monty, and that young man put out his hand and said quietly: "I believe this is ours, Honor.”
Her eyes flashed. She turned to the astonished Jimmie Quinlan. “Sorry, Jimmie,” she said, and rose.
Monty led her out on the floor, and Eric gave him an encouraging dig in the back as he passed. The occupants of the other tables seemed glued to their chairs. No one moved toward the floor; they sat still and watched.
It was a waltz. Monty took Honor in his arms and she laid her head against his cheek, holding his shoulder lightly. "Forget everything,” she whispered softly. “Dance with me, Monty.”
CHE seemed to float in his arms, lightly, ^ gracefully. He closed his eyes against the tables and the astonished audience and the orchestra. The rhythm filled his brain, took the heaviness from his feet, the hesitation from his step. He forgot that he was dancing to show them that he didn’t care. He forgot about Frances and Jimmie Quinlan. He was dancing with Honor, for Honor.
Jack Neale took up his violin, a curious expression in his eyes. The trumpets were silenced, the saxophones grew soft and low. Jack Neale played a solo as he had not played for many days. He shut his eyes and the strains of his violin filled the large room; haunting, beautiful. People gasped in admiration.
Honor and Monty danced. The green dress swirled and gleamed in the light of the little table lamps. And then, with a final turn and a graceful bend, Honor and Monty concluded their dance just as the saxophones rose to a final crescendo.
There was a moment’s total silence. Then someone clapped impulsively, and Eric and Peggy joined in with feeling. Even the orchestra, blasé group of musicians, smiled with genuine enthusiasm.
Monty looked around, flushing, “Gosh!” he ejaculated. “We’re all alone.”
Honor was smiling. “Oh, Monty, it was divine.”
Jack Neale raised his bow and the orchestra swung into a fox-trot. Couples began to move out on the floor. Eric and Peggy danced by.
“You laid them low.” Eric exclaimed joyfully to Monty.
Monty, smiling, looked at Honor. What a dancer ! What a girl !
“Come on, Monty,” she said. “We can’t stop now.”
They danced on. Jimmie Quinlan seated at the table, called to Monty as they passed.
"I take it all back,” he said earnestly. “No hard feelings?”
Monty shook his head, smiling. He was immensely happy as he held Honor close. "I wonder,” he whispered to her, "I wonder if your mother would like me to call around again?”
"She’d love it, Monty. And not only mother.”
"Don’t you know, Monty?” She was looking up at him. “Don’t you know that it’s something more than dancing?”
“Gosh !” He lost his step and trod on her toe. Red surged into his cheeks. “Oh, I’m —I’m sorry !”
"For stepping on your toe.”
She smiled. “I didn’t even notice it.” What could be sweeter?
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