An altogether charming tale of a prim little lady who had her fling and found it rather nice
MISS ANGELA POOLE, known to some hundred girls as The Angel, sat very erect in a slat-backed maple chair in her apartment and gave way to emotion. That, at least, was what she thought she was doing. She sat as straight and graceful and unyielding as any one of the straight, graceful and unyielding pieces of ancestral furniture which surrounded her, while feelings of dismay, horror, irritation and bewilderment surged within her.
What, she asked herself over and over with increasing panic, was she Going to Do? And What, she demanded in a manner which daily she taught girls to describe as histrionic, was Going to Become of Her? (Rhetorical questions, The Angel taught that such as these were, demanding, expecting, no answer.)
Miss Angela Poole was twenty-four years old and managed, through sheer force of character, to look thirty. She was as pretty as the musical-comedy star in the first act of a Cinderella play, with horn-rimmed glasses covering her blue eyes and a sturdy hair net pinned flat over her fair hair.
The doorbell rang, but it was not an Answer to her question which waited on the other side of the door. It wras Assistant Professor Hugh Barton, who, like herself, spread learning and culture in a barren world and who looked at her now through horn-rimmed glasses almost twice as large as her own.
“Good afternoon, Angela.” he said, getting only three broad A s into his greeting, but very broad they were. “You haven’t forgotten that we’re to go to Mrs. Cartright’s for tea?”
"I have forgotten,” answered Angela flatly. “I have forgotten everything. Hugh, the most dreadful thing has happened !” Sfie paused, looking at him for an instant with eyes as round and blue as an alarmed kitten’s. “Hugh, I have to move !”
‘You have to move?” he repeated incredulously. “To move, Angela?”
She nodded her head solemnly, and he sat down in one straight chair as she sat down in another.
“You know, they’ve never given me a lease,” she explained. “Because they’ve been planning to tear all these houses down and build an apartment house here. Now they’ve taken over their last lease, and every one has to get out by April first.”
“It is,” stated Assistant Professor Hugh Barton, “an outrage.”
Angela looked at him, and the incredible thought passed through her head that this young professor of Latin whom she had admired ever since both of them had been undergraduates three long years ago, looked like an owl ! A handsome owl, a well-proportioned owl, an owl of excellent family and undoubted intellectual attainments—but still, an owl.
“Of course, people do move sometimes,” she said. “I suppose it’s been heard of.”
He frowned. Frivolity, said his frown plainly, will not help you in this grave extremity. Miss Poole. For himself, he lived at the university club, but he had always thought of Angela, here on this quiet and cloistered uptown street, as equally permanent.
“I have been thinking.” remarked Angela, who as a matter of fact thought of it only that instant, “that it might be wisest to move into a furnished apartment for three months and put my own things in storage until fall.” For some reason, the gravity of young Professor Barton
irritated her. “In fact,” she added brightly, “I’m going to.”
“You’ll have to be extremely careful,” he said, “what sort of place you take, Angela. Perhaps Mrs. Cartright would know of something.”
The shock had obviously unsettled Angela. Certainly she was acting entirely unlike herself. For no reason at all. she knew absolutely that she did not want any apartment Mrs. Cartright would find her. Looking meekly at Professor Hugh Barton, she began to feel positively adventurous. Herself, alone, she was going out into the city and find a place to live!
“Um,” she said. “You ask her, Hugh. I don't believe I'll go with you today.” Incredible things were happening to her. She did not want to go to Mrs. Cartright’s Friday afternoon and she was not going! She had been going there with Hugh every Friday for two school years, and she just this instant realized that she had never wanted to go. anyway. Not once!
“She’ll understand, of course.” Hugh said. “I'll explain. All this is naturally most upsetting.”
Angela opened her mouth and then closed it. But after Hugh had gone she deliberately opened it again, and as silly and excited a little laugh emerged as she had ever frowned at in the classroom.
It wasn’t naturally upsetting at all, she told herself. In fact, it w-as highly unnatural that a young woman should be so distressed over moving from an apartment where she had lived two years. She had not realized until this instant . . .
She jumped up, midway in her thought, and looked at her reflection in the Chippendale mirror.
“Why,* you old school teacher,” she accused it. “You old maid !”
Through the open door she could kxik into her bedroom. Maple four-poster with a blue and white candlewick bedspread, maple dresser, blue and white dimity at the windows . . . What had been the use of growing up and getting out into the world at all? This entire apartment might lx two nxims in her father’s house.
She caught her breath, and before she could change her mind or let wisdom in any way soften impulse, she seized her small blue hat and jammed it ujxrn her head, slipped into her warm blue waterproof, picked up her warm brown gloves and banged the apartment door behind her.
In the street outside, a wagon was loaded with potted plants bright geraniums and blue agératum, waxen tulips and white narcissus, shivering in the March wind, and hyacinths, pink and violet and white. Angela smiled at the young Italian who was leading the horse, a smile of encouragement and promise.
She would buy lots of hyacinths for her new apartment !
THE very term “English basement.” sounded somehow romantic, as, of course, wise landlords intended that it should. There, just above the bell, was the card — RUTH FARREL. Angela did not need to consult the renting agent’s slip; she pressed the button firmly.
A woman’s voice called. “Come on in,” and Angela opened the and paused at the threshold.
Electric lights, silk shaded, blazed softly upon the walls of the long room. A young woman in a yellow negligee was kneeling before a huge buff-colored wardrobe trunk.
"Oh -I thought you were the tailor’s boy,” she said, seeing Angela, and she got up, smiling. She was about Angela’s age, slender and dark and very untidy.
"I've come to see the apartment,” said Angela.
"Oh,” said Miss Farrel again, while Angela stared, fascinated, at the small gold mules into which Miss Parrel's bare white feet were thrust. "It’s in an awful mess, isn’t it? I thought at first I wouldn’t rent it, and then I decided I was a fool to lose three months rent. You want it for three months?”
Angela nodded, kx>king rather shyly about, like a little girl who has been told how very mde it is to stare.
"I’m sailing tonight—I buy lingerie for Beekman’s,” Miss Farrel explained. “Sit down and have a cigarette, won’t you?”
Angela did not have a cigarette, but she Kit down in a white Louis XIV armchair, which softly gathered her into its curves as a mother cuddles her child, and Miss Farrel sank upon a sofa upholstered in cream and plum-colored stripes.
“It's just for yourself?” she asked.
“Yes. The building where I live is to be tom down, and I have to get a place until the end of June.”
"You teach sclxxil?”
“Yes,” answered Angela, surprised.
Miss Farrel grinned. "I’m sure you’d lx a swell tenant.” she said. "Come on and look at the rest of it.”
The bedroom looked as though a hurricane had struck it; a frivolous hurricane, bearing chiffon and lace and perfume. The little bed was French, ivory paint and pale gold traceries, and through the litter of garments flung upon it Angela could see a ruffled taffeta spread. The gold and ivory dressing table was ruffled with the same pale green, and taffeta curtains crackled deliriously as they sw'aved beside the open French window.
The renting agent had given Angela no price. “I don’t know what she’ll ask or what she'll take,” she had admitted, frankly. “If she really wants to rent it before she sails, she’ll take what she can get. If she likes you—” The tailored shoulders had shrugged.
Angela stood still on the threshold of the bedroom.
“I don’t believe I could possibly afford it,” she said.
Miss Parrel's bright, dark eyes were amused. “What rent have you been paying?” she asked. Her glance, bent on Angela, was somehow indulgent. “Do you like the place?”
“I’ve never seen anything like it in my life,” said Angela simply. “I don't believe I could ever feel that I lived here.”
“No?” said Miss Farrel. She opened the door of the kitchenette, and this, at least, Professor Hugh Barton could have approved. It was as orderly as the rest of the apartment was chaotic; freshly yellow and white, with a small white stove and rows of butter-colored pans. “I don’t do much cooking myself, but it can be done here if you know how,” Miss Farrel murmured.
They returned to the living room.
“I’m afraid Angela began, and Miss Farrel interrupted her.
“Look here,” she said, “I don’t awfully care if I rent or not. Still, it would be a help. I’d hate to risk having a tenant I hadn’t seen, some one who’d break my things— I have some rather nice stuff.”
“Oh, it’s beautiful,” said Angela.
Miss Farrel laughed. “I don’t think you’d be likely to have drunken parties and break up the furniture,” she said, and laughed again at Angela’s flush. “You’ll probably keep it a lot cleaner than I ever have.”
“You give me your references,’’ Miss Farrel said briskly. “The school where you teach will be sufficient. And I think we can call it settled. You can have it for the same rent you’ve been paying.”
“But — ” said Angela.
“I’m sailing tonight at midnight. You cap, give your cheque to the agent. Okay?”
Angela swallowed. She couldn’t really live here. She, Angela Poole. It simply wasn’t possible! And what would Hugh say? Her eyes strayed again to the bedroom. She couldn’t put her little blue felt slippers on the rug beside that goldand-ivory bed. couldn’t hang her blue crêpe wrapper in that scented closet !
“Do you know that you're terribly pretty?” enquired Miss Farrel abruptly.
Miss Angela Poole turned crimson.
"Do you have to wear those dreadful glasses?“ Miss Farrel was laughing at her again, but somehow nicely. “You think I’m a little mad, don’t you?” she demanded. “I’m not. you know. Just very different from you. I bet—” Whatever she was going to bet, she did not say it. Instead, she Kiid, “You can move in whenever you like. My maid’s coming tomorrowmorning to clean up.” She rose, and Angela rose too. “I hope you’re happy here.’’ said Miss
Farrel. “And, d’you know, I have a positive presentiment that you will be.” She put out her hand, and a dazed Angela found herself suddenly upon the sidewalk.
SOLEMNLY, Angela Poole was taking down the dusty card marked RUTH FARREL, and thumb-tacking in its place a clean, white card marked MISS A. POOLE. She stixxi in the brick areaway, with the Sunday morning sun streaming over her, a bareheaded young woman in a blue gingham apron, and surveyed her own name. Miss A. Poole, instructor in English at the Woodruff School, lived here.
Childishly she pressed the bell, waited an instant and opened the door.
“Miss Poole? How do you do? How well you’re looking. And what a charming apartment!” Her voice scattered into laughter at her own absurdity; her blue eyes shone in their round, tortoise-shell frames.
It was all ridiculously like a dream. Dazedly, on Friday afternoon, she had returned to the renting agent and explained that the apartment was hers.
“Well, you’ve certainly got a bargain,” that businesslike lady told her. “Still, I guess Miss Farrel’s got a gixxi tenant.”
Why, wondered Angela, did everybody assume that she would be such a good tenant? And just what, she went on to wonder, did bad tenants do?
Saturday, with dispatch and efficiency she packed her things and watched, with mingled horror and quite disproportionate joy, while they were removed from her sight on a storage company’s truck. And Saturday night —last night she had slept in the gold-and-ivory bed, with her
bLue felt slippers on the flowered carpet, and her blue crepe dressing-gown lying across the carefully folded taffeta spread.
All morning, she had felt like Alice in the process of falling down the rabbit hole. “I can't be Edith, because her hair goes in ringlets ...” Yet she couldn’t—any more than Alice could believe that she was still Alice— quite believe that she was Angela Poole.
She sank down lazily on the striped sofa and stretched out her arms, and the hinge of her spectacles caught on one of the taffeta pillows, so she took them off and set them on the little smoking table at her elbow. There was certainly no reason why, even in such alien surroundings, she should not feel like herself. (So, too. Alice had reasoned, and in vain.) She remembered Alice’s insane attempts at proving her own identity to herself. “Eight times seven is forty-two—oh, that can’t be right, I’m sure!” Well, Miss Poole, who wrote The Idylls of the King? “Ernest Hemingway!” she answered, and turned her face against a pillow and giggled.
It was fun, having a whole Sunday with nothing to do. Usually, she went with Hugh to the orovincial museum— it would take years, he told her once, solemnly, to study everything there—so a year of Sundays had, of course, scarcely scratched the surface. But today, she had said she would not go. He would step in to see her new apartment, he told her, on his way back; and she still shivered when she anticipated that moment.
She felt guilty when she flung a handful of Miss Farrel’s bath crystals into her bath. But it was such a huge jar, and she could buy some more. The perfume, rising in the steam of the hot water, was delicious. Why had she never
used bath salts in all her days? She ducked her head under the water and lay. with just the oval of her face above the surface, like a lazy nymph, staring up at the pale green ceiling.
Miss Farrel had left much behind her which is not usually included among the accoutrements of a furnished apartment. Jars of cream, slim bottles of lotion, an enormous bowl of bath powder. Abandonedly, with a sheep-as-alamb sort of recklessness, Angela used them all. She put on her blue crêpe wrapper and frowned darkly at her reflection in the long mirror—as darkly as a young woman, fresh from a hot bath, relaxed and perfumed, can frown. Not without result had been Hugh’s lectures on color and beauty at the museum. The blue crêpe clashed with the delicate greens, and Angela realized unquestionably that she would have to buy a new robe. She compromised, for the moment, by putting on a wash dress of cream-colored silk, the sort of dress a teacher of English can wear to a Sunday evening at some professor’s house.
Her hair was not quite dry—a shimmering tangle of gold above her white dress—when the doorbell rang. Angela’s heart thumped and color flamed in her cheeks. “Lord, give me strength,” she prayed softly, and went to the door.
“Oh, hello,” she said, and defiance and the knowledge of Hugh’s imminent disapproval gave her voice a careless gaiety. Then she saw that it was not Hugh at all. “Oh. I’m sorry—” she faltered, looking up into two steady and patiently admiring dark brown eyes.
“Is Ruth here?” the young man who was not Hugh at all asked in a deep and pleasant voice.
Angela’s voice had temporarily left her; she shook her head, her eyes wide and startled.
"Well, mayn’t I come in?” he persisted, smiling. He was carrying a sheaf of paper which obviously contained flowers. "I'd like to leave these and a note."
"She—she’s gone,” stammered Angela. "She sub-let the apartment.”
“So soon?” the young man asked, but Angela noted that he did not appear heartbroken. “You mean she's gone to Europe already?”
“Yes,” said Angela.
“I thought it was next week she was sailing—but that’s like me.” His grin was engaging; altogether he was a nicelooking and friendly young man. He shrugged. “I’ve brought her a birthday offering,” he explained and handed the flowers to Angela. “Since you’re in her apartment, you'll simply have to take her birthday along with the rest of it.”
ANGELA certainly would not have accepted the flowers, but there they were in her two hands. She could not see what kind they were, but a delicious fragrance rose from the paper.
“You have her address, of course, haven’t you?” he asked.
“Yes,” said Angela.
“Will you let me write it down?”
So now he was inside the apartment, and Angela set down the sheaf of flowers and went to the desk.
“Are you an old friend of Ruth’s?” asked the young man. “I know I’ve never met you here, because I wouldn’t forget that.”
Angela flushed. “Not v-very old.” she faltered, and paused midway in writing out Miss Farrel’s address, aghast at herself. Why had she said that?
“Ruth and I grew up in the same town," he explained. "By the way, you’d better get those flowers in water. Some of them are wallflowers, and they fade fast.”
Obediently, Angela got a vase and filled it with water, unfastened the paper. “Oh, they’re lovely,” she cried, and buried her face in them. Orange and white freesia and pale daffodils and wallflowers of russet velvet. Their fragrance rose and eddied about the room.
“My name is John Smith,” said the young man pleasantly.
Angela smiled, looking up over her flowers. “I never knew any one of that name,” she said, and added: “Mine’s Angela Poole.”
“And very suitable,” said Mr. Smith with a nod of his head. “That vase isn’t going to lx; big enough, you know. There’s a white alabaster one somewhere about that’ll be elegant.”
She had just found the white alabaster vase, in the kitchenette, when the doorbell rang again.
“Shall I answer it?” John Smith called cheerfully.
“Oh, n-n-n-no!” said Angela, and tore past him to the door in confusion.
Professor Hugh Barton contemplated her with much the same expression of admiration which she had noticed in the dark eyes of Mr. Smith. Then his gaze reached that gentleman, who was sitting on the striped sofa, and returned, with less of admiration and more of enquiry, to Angela.
"Oh, Hugh,” cried Angela, rather inanely. “C-come in!” She looked toward the young man on the sofa. "This is Mr. S-smith, Professor Barton.”
Even while the two men were shaking hands, she could see Hugh’s eyes move about the rinim, and if he found either pleasure or approval in what he saw he concealed both emotions admirably.
“Isn’t it nice, Hugh?” she demanded nervously. “And didn’t I get settled quickly? Come and see the rest of it.” From the corner of one eye she saw Mr. Smith stir as though to rise. Whoever he was or however she was going to explain his presence to Hugh, she did not want him to go yet. The Latin professor had flushed faintly as they reached the threshold of the gold-and-ivory bedrrxjm, and his eyebrows wrere raised high on his intellectual forehead. “Don’t go!” Angela calleri wildly to John Smith. “I’ll make us all some tea in a minute.”
Mr. Smith grinned, and settled back on the sofa, lighting a cigarette.
“Isn’t it sweet?” Angela babbled. “Hugh, look at this adorable little kitchenette.” She did not need Hugh Barton’s slightly ironic glance to tell her that she was being silly; even to herself, she sounded like one of her more idiotic pupils. And she pnxeeded from bad to worse. “Don’t you think I’ll be happy here?”
“Happy?” repeated Hugh. “Have you been unhappy, Angela?”
ANGELA FROWNED. He needn’t be such a prig; he wasn’t ordinarily. She was almost ashamed of him before that strange John Smith. She made tea, and from the living rtxmi the voice which rose1 and fell in conversation was Mr. Smith’s; the monosyllabic sounds of indifferent comment were the professor’s. It was ridiculous of him, thought Angela, and her cheeks were still very red when she came in with the tea tray.
“I'm surprised that you found a teapot,” said JolmSn “Or did you bring it with you?"
“Why, no,” said Angela.
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“Ruth has what she quaintly calls ‘teas’ about once a week, and one of them was completely disrupted once by a guest’s demanding some of that beverage. There wasn't any." His smile was nice, and Angela returned it.
“Did you go to the museum, Hugh?” she asked.
“Yes,” said assistant Professor Hugh Barton shortly.
Suddenly Angela was really angry. Hugh Barton had no right, no right whatsoever, to act like this. He was being both sulky and ungracious. She was twenty-four years old and self-supporting; she did not need his approval either of her apartment cr her acquaintances. He was an old friend, no more and no less; and for all that he knew, John Smith was another old friend.
Miss Angela knew quite a bit about English literature; she could parse almost any sentence, even some of her own, but she knew absolutely nothing about the feminine business of playing one man against another. However, ignorant and unversed though she was, she turned her head so that a charming and still unspectacled profile was offered to the professor, and smiled again at John Smith.
“I could smell my flowers even in the kitchenette,” she told him sweetly.
And when, after an interval, John Smith suggested that they three dine at a small Italian café in the neighborhood, Angela accepted without even a glance at Hugh. “I’ll have to change my dress,” she said, and in the ivory and gold bodnxim she removed the cream-colored frock and emerged in a short time as Miss A. Poole of the School in a solid blue foulard and her little blue hat, with her hair smooth and her spectacles severely shielding her blue eyes.
John Smith smiled at the change, and once again Angela recognized admiration when she saw it. He thought she was pretty, and she knew it. If she had had a dimple, it would have flashed at him then and there. Not having one, she achieved the same effect by the faintest flicker of a smile. Like a secret, almost, that smile; gay and intimate and funny.
“Angela, do you really have to wear those glasses?" Hugh asked her abruptly.
She stared at him. They had known one another for six years, and never before had Hugh Barton appeared to notice her glasses.
“They’re very piquant. I think.” John Smith murmured, and the professor looked at him with the cold eye of one wordlessly enquiring, "And who asked fer your opinion, my good man?”
They dint'd in what Argela strangely found an exhilarating discoid. It was fun to sit between two young rr.en who got on so badly. They both walked home with her, and Angela, who had never asked Hugh to come in with her after they had had dinner together two years before, he had said, "Perhaps I’d better not come in, Angela; it might look odd" did not now ask Hugh and John Smith to come in. It simply did not occur to her. She put out her hand and said good night and thank you. smiled impartially at both, closed her d(x>r, and watched through the window as they nodded curtly and took opposite directions.
She was laughing to herself as she turned away and went into the bedroom to undress. From the dressing table, the jars of cream and lotions beckoned to her. She trxik off her things and sat down in her chemise before the oval mirror.
A woman—any woman owed it to herself to remain as pretty as she could. She had read that in a thousand magazines. She rubbed cold cream over her face, and then scrutinized her dear skin in the hand mirror. Miss Farrel had said that she was pretty, and John Smith had practically corroborated it. Hugh had looked, for that instant in the doorway, as though he thought so. It was very queer, reflected Angela, that she had never before wondered
what Hugh Barton thought of her appearance.
rT"'HE change in Miss Angela Poole, noticed by every one who knew her, was not a gradual one. It was almost as instantaneous as a snake’s shedding of its skin. It was as though she had sub-let a new personality along with a new apartment.
She had moved into both on a Saturday afternoon late in March. On the following Monday, after school, while she was in a store buying a new dressing gown, something happened to her, and the results of that something tcx)k tangible form in packages delivered at the apartment on Tuesday.
If he had known the phrase, which he did not, Professor Hugh Barton would have said that Angela had gone haywire. She had evaded him on Monday—he had, he told her, something he wanted to talk to her about—but on Tuesday, promptly at four, he arrived for tea.
For the first time in their friendship, she was not ready and waiting for him. She was, he thought as she opened the door, an Angela Unaware, and he smiled both at her and at his own rather rare humor.
“Hugh! I didn’t know it was so late.” She had just tried on the new dressing gown, the robe that was to harmonize with Miss Farrel’s color scheme. Pale green and silver and trailing it was. Professor Hugh Barton made a murmur of startled protest as she began to remove it before his very eyes. But she was fully clothed beneath, in the familiar blue foulard.
“Angela, something has happened to you,” he said solemnly. “You’re changed !’’ (Even with the school-teacher blue foulard underneath, that first gesture of disrobing, had been definitely shocking. Provocative, thought Hugh, severely.)
She smiled defiantly. “Well, what if I have?” she demanded.
“Angela” he said.
“I mean,” she interrupted, “is what happens to me any of your business anyway?”
He looked at her intently. “Angela, do you know anything about this Farrel woman?” he asked.
Angela tossed her head. “I know that she has charming taste,” she said, “and that she buys good books, and knows a lot more about being alive than I do—than I ever did, anyway.”
It was unfortunate that the telephone should ring at that particular instant, and that the téléphoner should be immediately identified to Hugh’s ears.
"Hello? Oh. how do you do, Mr. Smith?” Angela's clear voice was responding.
Hugh paced up and down the room. He didn’t like this. He didn’t like this at all. Yet. as Angela liad so succinctly demanded, just what business of his was it?
“What did he want?” he demanded when she returned.
“Why, Hugh!” she protested.
Assistant Professor Barton snorted. “I tell you I don’t like it,” he said. “I—I feel responsible for you, Angela. Who is this Smith, anyway? Smith!” he repeated angrily.
“Undoubtedly an assumed name.” said Angela brightly.
To their mutual astonishment, Hugh Barton laughed. But he recovered himself quickly. "Well?” he persisted, in his most professorial manner.
“He asked me to go to the theatre, if you must know,” Angela answered, “and I accepted.”
He glared at her, and she looked back at him calmly; then his glare melted into a mild and contemplative expression. “You know,” he said, “you do look better without those infernal glasses, Angela.”
“Thank you,” she said coolly. “Now, Mr. Smith, for instance, finds them amusing.”
“Who the devil cares what Mr. Smith finds?” cried Hugh.
“Why, professor!” said Angela reprovingly. "Profanity from you!” She tilted up her head, because they were standing and Hugh Barton was very tall, and looked at him insolently, and the sudden realization struck her that she w-anted to quarrel with him.
It was not until he had gone—he was dining with the head of a university Latin department—and she was alone, that she realized how much she wanted to quarrel with Hugh Barton. She wanted to tell him a few things. She was tired of having him always around, half mentor, half nursemaid. For two years she had let Hugh Barton guide her actions as well as her tastes. Dull scholastic gatherings, lectures, trips to the museum, balcony seats at good plays . . . Oh, she was sick and tired of good plays and good books and good men !
The evening was warm, and Angela was restless. She put on the green and silver robethis time, without benefit of blue foulard - and took off her stockings and slid her bare feet into mules like Miss Farreis except that hers were silver instead of gold. Hugh, she reflected, looking at herself in the mirror, would undoubtedly consider her an abandoned woman. She smiled at her looking-glass self. Maybe she was one, and had never known it. Certainly this sudden wish that Hugh Barton could see her, exactly as she looked this moment, was not the wish of a good woman.
A spring fog was creeping in from the lake and on the bay, ferryboats commenced blowing and whistling. After she was in bed, she could not sleep. Like Tritons playing upon dripping harmonicas, the foghorns sounded their deep chords. Angela turned and tossed, and after a while, for no reason that she knew, she commenced to cry. She wept into her pillow until it was wet with tears. And the mournful blowing kept on in minor forebodings, and she knew, with one small, unweeping sector of her mind, that she was thoroughly enjoying herself.
TWINING and going to the theatre with Hugh had never been at all like this. A taxi to the restaurant and a taxi to the theatre, and now she was standing outside on the sidewalk, in the interval between the two acts of the revue, while John Smith smoked a cigarette.
“Like it?” he asked, smiling at her.
“Love it!” said Angela warmly.
"We’re going somewhere afterward and dance,” he told her.
“Are we?” she asked delightedly.
Another act, another taxi, and Angela’s first roof garden.
“You know, in a way, I wish you’d stayed in your chrysalis a little longer, Angel - Angela.” said John Smith.
She looked at him questioningly. and as she turned her head she saw her own reflection beside his in the mirror behind them. She had taken off her hat at his bidding, and her hair was very gold in the subdued light. Her new dress was becoming; instinct and a wise saleswoman had told her to chose black lace. She was experimenting with lipstick, and the thin red film of it became her young mouth.
“Angel Angela.” said John Smith, “you really thought, that first day, that I came to see Ruth, didn’t you?”
“Why, of course,” said Angela.
His dark eyes laughed at her. “You even thought the floral offering was meant for her?”
"Why, I don’t understand,” she said.
“Little idiot,” he murmured. “I knew Ruth was gone. I saw her off. She told me about you Friday night. An exquisite little Dresden-china schoolma’am, she called you, and—”
Angela's rather childish blue eyes became suddenly veiled.
"Really?” she asked, and her voice was neither her usual careless young voice nor
her carefully modulated teaching tone. It had an entirely new note; it was adult.
John Smith talked on, and she listened, nodding and smiling and laughing a little.
“I’m going to ask a favor of you, Angela,” he said at last.
“What?” she asked.
Fie grinned. “I’m not going to tell you, yet. Come on and dance.”
They danced, and then Angela said that it was late. He gave in gracefully after one protest, and they were silent, riding home in the cab. John Smith was looking at Angela, whose air of pretty preoccupation was actually caused by an extreme exercising of her not very good mathematical facilities. Miss A. Poole w;as figuring as well as she could just how much, in dollars and cents, an evening such as this cost a young man, and her provincial soul was thoroughly shocked by the answer.
The taxi stopped at her door, and John Smith paid the driver.
“I’ve had a lovely time,” Angela said.
“Let me come in with you a minute,” he begged. “I won’t stay long; I promise.”
She hesitated, then unlocked her door and snapped on the lights and turned to him questioningly.
“Angela, you’re going to think I’m a fool, but you promised to grant me one favor.”
“What?” she asked. (She had not promised anything.)
His voice was coaxing. “Go get your schoolma’am spectacles and put them on like a good little girl,” he told her. “You don’t know what a charming, adorable contradiction you look in them, An e!— Angela.” He smiled boyishly. “I want to kiss you for the first time with them on,” he explained simply.
“Oh,” said Angela.
“It’s—oh, almost like kissing a nun in her habit,” said John Smith. “Most piquant.” He grinned.
“I see,” answered Angela with a grave smile. “But, John,” she added, “I don’t want to kiss you.”
She felt actually guilty, as she watched the laughter fade from his eyes and he looked at her as though she had struck him.
“I—I’m sorry,” she faltered. “I like you—and I do appreciate awfully your having been so nice to me—”
He looked actually stricken, staring at her.
“I—I suppose if you want me to—” she said helplessly.
He took her hand. “I beg your pardon, Angela,” he said. “I’m a darn fool. I’m like some one who can’t tell the difference between the genuine article and an imitation. Forgive me.”
While she still stared he went quickly out, closing the door softly, and she was still standing, looking after him, when the telephone rang. Dazedly she answered it.
“Angela Poole, I’ve been calling you every fifteen minutes since twelve o’clock,” cried the voice of Hugh Barton.
“Have you?” asked Angela.
“I’ve been offered a full professorship!” he cried, and all her hostility melted at the glow of his voice. “I don’t care whether you’re dressed or not,” he told her. “I’m coming straight down. I’d like—I’d like to get drunk! I’d like—”
“Why, professor!” said Angela softly.
“See you in a minute,” he shouted, and there was silence.
Angela replaced the receiver dreamily. She crossed to the dressing table, powdered her nose and picked up her lipstick. She surveyed her reflection with the utmost satisfaction. And when Hugh rang the doorbell, she greeted him on the threshold precisely as she had rehearsed it before her mirror.
And precisely as she had planned, Hugh Barton clutched her in his long arms and kissed her. again and again and again. That part was really better than she had planned, much better.