It’s Always Like That
A modern problem in business is complicated by an ancient problem in romance
RUTH BURR SANBORN
JASON LANDING was not the type you would expect to find in an advertising agency. He was too big and slow and solid and unenthusiastic. Carey Paule said so. Jason was fair, tow-headed almost, with forthright blue eyes, broad shoulders, and quiet hands that hung at his sides without gestures. He had a wide mouth, with the corners tucked in, as if every word must come straight out the front where Jason could inspect it; make sure that it was the right, the careful, the not too fulsome word. Tom Becker said he had no get-up-and-get. He said he was just simply not a comer.
Tom Becker was a comer. He was exactly the type you would expect to find and most successfully where he was. Quick, casual, confident, ready-witted, charming. Jason admitted it. Tom was fair, too. but with a more pliant, a more shining fairness; a readier flash of white teeth, a sparkle of eyes more green than grey, an easy, unwatched flow of words, A man of ready laughter and quick movement. A man all fire and superlatives.
Best, biggest, brightest, purest, masterpiece of science, triumph of art, supreme achievement, crowning glory, m plus ultra. These were Ins stock-in-trade. For women’s underwear, for furnaces and perfume and peanut sticks and derricks. He knew them all. Fine, bold, big words, lavishly used.
Miracle. Heart-breaker. Breath-taker. Wonder Girl. These were for Carey Paule.
Carey Paule was not the type you would expect to find anywhere. A little copj)er-haired, golden-skinned chit, with pixvish peaked chin and bewitchment in her eyes. Brown eyes, as still and cool and unfathomable, sometimes, as forest pools; as gay, as riotous, sometimes, as the same pools when the sun strikes suddenly through gold and crimson branches. She was Mr. Allkin’s secretary, and a clever and competent one. But you would never have guessed it to see her perched on the dictionary to reach the typewriting desk. She was the kind who can wear frills at the office without looking foolish. The kind who can wear leg-o’mutton sleeves without looking prim. The kind who can push back her red curls off her forehead and purse up her small red mouth and break a man’s heart. Jason Landing never admitted that.
Carey Paulo flung open the office door like a gust of spring wind. “Hello, everybody!” she called. “Good morning,” said Jason Landing.
“Hello, beautiful,” said Tom Beeker. “Where did you get the hat?”
"Five and ten,” said Carey. She plucked fifteen dollars worth of creamy wool off her cocky red head and flung it on the desk. “How do you like it?”
"It's a gem,” cried Tom. "Purest ray serene. You look like a million.”
“What say, Jason?”
"It isn’t bad,” Jason admitted. He picked up the little woolly scrap and turned it slowly in his fingers. He flushed suddenly, darkly. Just the soft touch of Carey’s hat, with the shape of her bright head in it, upset him more than any little scrap of wool ought to do. “Not half bad,” he amended. "Oh, Jason, you always flatter me so,” murmured Carey — and Tom laughed. "Isn’t it the most gorgeous day you ever saw?”
"Perfect except for one thing,” said Tom. "You and I are in the office instead of out in a canoe. But maybe we can do something about that ’long round five o'clock.”
“Maybe so,” agreed Carey. “Jason, come on; be a sport. Say, it’s a heavenly day.”
Jason landing laid the hat down. “I have never been in heaven,” he said soberly.
Tom and Carey were still laughing when Mr. Allkin came in. Mr. Alikin was a big, busy-looking man, with agitated hair, an excitable mouth under a mustache which trembled with eagerness, like a dog’s whiskers, when he scented a new account. He nodded; began to pull papers from his brief-case as he crossed the floor, as if there were hardly time to reach his desk.
THE GROUP scattered. Carey Paule picked up her hat and pretended it was a duster. Tom Beeker bent his agile brows over a racetrack schedule, as if he were tearing his mind apart for the supremely right word to make the world household-disinfectant conscious.
"Beeker.” said Mr. Allkin in his abrupt way. “Is that Deodo-Disinfectant copy ready?”
“Practically.” said Tom with diplomacy. “I got an inspiration that’ll put it over with a big splash. I’ll get right at it. Finish it up.”
"Landing,” said Mr. Alikin, “did you get off those plates to the Empyrean people?”
“Did you straighten out that complaint about the Fits-U Union Suit?” ‘Yes, sir.” said Jason.
“Did you look after the Chew-Chew Chocolate wrappers?”
“Yes, sir." said Jason. Mr. Allkin scattered papers busily right and left. “I thought," said Jason, “I might finish that Lickin’-Good Pie publicity.”
“Think you can handle it?”
“I might,” admitted Jason conservatively.
“Well,” conceded Mr. Allkin. "Beeker can touch it up.” He dismissed Jason and the Lickin'-Good Frie. “A letter, Miss Paule. Mr. Greeley Whitefield, Cut-toFil Clothing Corporation . . . Beeker. when you finish the Deodo-Disinfectant, look over the Cut-to-Fit folder. If their campaign goes through, it will be the biggest thing since Prosperity. Handle it myself. But you better be in touch . . . Get him the folder now, will you, landing. All right, Miss Paule. ‘Dear Mr. Whitefield. . ”
Jason took the folder from the files, scanning the sheets inside. It never did any harm to know what was going on. "It is our purpose.” he read, "to place on the market a ready-to-wear suit which shall come as near as possible to a custom-made garment. In addition to our usual regular sizes we are making six type models for those who ordinarily have difficulty in being fitted. These are the extra-large, extra-small, tall-and-thin, short-and-stout. long-armed and shortarmed. We shall need intriguing names for these models ...”
“Here, feller,” Tom said to him. “Give this Deodo stuff a look. You might work out something along the lines I’ve indicated while I’m going over the Whitefield business. What do they make? Suits? Well, let’s have it.”
He tossed the Deodo-Disinfectant material over to Jason. There were several flamboyant captions. There was a pile of triangles, exquisitely shaded, and seventeen sketches of a girl with short red hair and a pixy’s chin. That was all. Jason knew right then how much of the Deodo-Disinfectant copy he was going to write. And who was going to get the credit.
It was always like that.
JASON LANDING had been for two years with the Allkin Advertising Agency. For nineteen years before that he had been in Palm Beach and I»ng Beach, Maine and Montana and Mississippi, Tiajuana and Timbuctoo wherever Ins father’s latest whim had taken them Mr. landing, the elder, had been afflicted by an uncontrollable enthusiasm, a joyous confidence. Florida real estate, California avocado orchards, oil wells and gold mines and cranberry bogs he had tried them all. He died without warning, as he had lived, and left almost enough to pay the funeral expenses. He left Jason a fund of assorted knowledge and no training. He left him conservative. Not quite an optimist.
It took a long time to untangle Mr. Landing’s affairs. The avocados sank in the oil well, the dude ranch in the cranberry bog. It came out even finally except for $5,(XX). outstanding for publicity, to the Alikin Advertising Agency. A life of indebtedness had left Jason in dread of debt. It was not a time to find a job that would pay off $5,(XX). He presented himself at the Allkin Agency.
“I want to work here,” he said.
Mr. Alikin shook his head without even looking up.
"But I owe you five thousand dollars,” Jason explained. "I want to work it out.”
Mr. Allkin looked up then. He saw a solemn young man who did not appear to think over-well of himself. The sight was a surprise. Even a shock. Mr. Alikin had already crossed the $5,000 off his books as a bad debt. Clear gain is especially appealing in times of depression. He was not, however, a man to make things too easy.
“What do you think you know about advertising?” he demanded.
“Nothing,” said Jason. “Maybe I could learn. Maybe I could sort of -do the chores. ”
“And I suppose you think I’m going to pay a hundred a week for chore boy.”
“No,” said Jason. “I thought ..."
"Thirty-five,” said Mr. Allkin. “Not a cent more these times. Ten cash, and twenty-five to your account.”
“That would pay it all off in about three years and ten months.”
“I’ll draw an agreement,” said Mr. Allkin hastily. “When can you begin?"
“Now,” said Jason.
"Clean the typewriters,” said Mr. Allkin.
Jason cleaned the typewriters. He filled the inkwells. He emptied the wastebaskets. He scoured the water cooler. He went into Mr. Alikin's office for instructions, and found it empty except for Carey Paule standing on a stool to reach A in the filing cases.
“Can I help you?” he said.
Carey Paule looked down at him. A dimple about the size of a kiss appeared in the left-hand comer of her mouth. “You might lift me up so I can reach,” she suggested. Jason Landing was a literal young man. He was also strong. He lifted Carey Paule off the stool and held her at arm’s length above his head. He held her firmly, impersonally, like a carpenter’s assistant passing up a bunch of shingles. Carey Paule was not accustomed to being treated like a bunch of shingles.
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It’s Always Like That
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“Put me down!’’ she said peremptorily.
Jason set Carey I’aule down.
“Is that all?”
“It seems to be,” said Carey.
The truth was that Carey Paule was unreasonably annoyed. When that dimple flickered in her cheek, she was used to having things happen. And nothing had happened at all. This great big handsome blonde brute had just simply put her down the way she told him to. Two little spots of color flared in her cheeks. Two little bonfires sprang in her eyes. The bonfires were becoming. It occurred to Jason that he had been holding something rather nice.
"If there's anything you want any time, let me know.” he said.
"1 want to shake you.” That was Carey Paule’s thought. It was an amusing thought, because for Carey Paule to have shaken Jason would have been like shaking a nice big granite cliff.
"You needn’t bother.” she said.
The warm tide of emotion that rushed up in Jason's throat startled and rather shocked him. He had been round the world and seen its lovely ladies. They had not been unaware of Jason. But Jason had never had before this sensation of hotness in his head, of congestion at the backs of his knees.
“1 work here now,” he pointed out. “It wouldn’t be any more bother to help you than to do anything else.”
"Don’t let your enthusiasm run away with you,” said Carey Paule.
It was a taunt, and he thought it was a warning.
“I won’t,” he promised.
Thus simply, unobserved, Jason laid his heart at Carey Paule’s feet. Two years later it was still there.
IF EVERYTHING had been entirely dif| ferent, those two years would not have been so bad.
If Jason had been less ambitious or more conceited, Tom Beeker would have had to do his own work. You would have said that, with no danger of discharge, no hope of advancement, there was not much incentive. But Jason had behind him the potent incentive of his father’s example. He plunged into the ideas, the schedules, laid down by Tom Beeker. And when the copy was finished and Tom had jazzed it up with superlatives, even Tom himself thought it was his.
If Jason had been more self-assertive, Carey Paule would have treated him with airy unreserve. 1 f he had been less annoying, she would have let him alone. But Jason’s resolute aloofness puzzled her. It piqued her pride, it piqued her curiosity. Jason was a realist. One can fall in love free of charge. But one not marry on ten dollars a week. One does not ask a girl to wait three years and ten months.
Nevertheless, now and then. Jason permitted himself a small indulgence. When he had walked to work for twenty mornings, when for twenty he had lunched on one bun without butter, then he asked Carey Paule to help him spend his money. He was as much surprised when she accepted as Carey was when he asked her. The expéditions w’ere never a success.
Once they lunched at Armenian Joe’s. It was a day when Carey was wearing ruffles: three little tiers of white organdie, drawing a circle under her chin and across her shoulders. Below them the snug blue waist, with its prim white china buttons, fitted maddeningly close; above them Carey’s chin tipped up, and her lashes tipped down, and the dimple, the size of a kiss, flickered in her cheek.
"Well?” she said.
“It would be a nice dress for a party,” Jason said wistfully.
Carey Paule caught him up quickly, missing the wistfulness.
“But not suitable for the office?”
“I didn’t say that.”
“You didn’t need to,” said Carey. “What made you ask me, if you didn’t like my clothes?”
“Well,” said Jason, fumbling and appearing wretched, “well ... I guess a man needs to know something about feminine psychology if he’s going into advertising.”
"You never will,” said Carey shortly.
Once they went to the movies. The warm, still darkness, the consciousness of other couples about them, shoulders and knees touching, fingers locked, was very trying to Jason.
"That was grand copy Tom did for Toothsome Tooth Paste.”
“I didn’t think much of it,” said Jason honestly. After all. no one had a better right to criticize that copy than he.
"Tom got a raise because of it,” said Carey rather sharply.
"Maybe I shall some day,” said Jason. “I’m going to ask for one when my debt is paid.”
Again Carey was puzzled. She tipped her head a little, watching him under the fringed comer of an eyelash, trying to make him out.
“Sometimes I think you're crazy,” she said.
“I am,” admitted Jason. "I’m crazy about . . . That is. I’m about crazy.”
It was always like that.
IT WAS A WEEK after the letter to Mr. I Greeley Whitefield that Jason took Carey to Nantasket.
At first it went better than usual. Perhaps it was because the Whitefield account gave them a noncontroversial subject. Perhaps it was the day—one of those row’dy blue days with a high wind following storm, when the waves go running wild and free, flashing with white-toothed grins. During the season the Nantasket boat is crowded and noisy. But the season was well over. There was the tang of autumn in the air, the purple of the gathering dusk, and the cold bright purple sea. The triumphant banners of flame that the sun waved down the sky were all for Jason and Carey.
They stood together in the bow, watching the water streaming back on each side of the boat’s beaked nose.
"Like Mr. Allkin’s mustache,” Carey said.
"When he’s mad,” Jason added. He grinned, remembering the temperamental Allkin whisker.
That grin of Jason’s turned him into a different person. It was as if it cracked open the smooth, solemn surface of his face, prepared for public inspection, and let the real Jason show through. A Jason with a rather surprising twinkle. A Jason with a short nose, revealed for the first time as humorous in intention. A slow, wide, boyish grin that wrinkled up his forehead, let the tucks out of the comers of his mouth. It interested Carey. She moved closer, the better to observe it.
"Mr. Alikin’s mad all the time lately,” she said. "He’s afraid he isn’t going to get the Whitefield account.”
"But I thought—”
“Tom’s got an idea. He says it’s awfully good. Mr. Whitefield is coming the first of the week, and Mr. Alikin is going to fill him full of lunch apd talk him into it. I think he ought to take Tom along. Tom’s a grand talker.”
“M-mm,” agreed Jason.
“Tom says it isn’t a good time to advertise clothes, though. He says nobody can blame him if the whole thing falls through ”
"I don’t see why,” said Jason.
Carey was half laughing, half provoked.
“You’re always on the off side, aren't you?”
The freedom of the wind and Carey’s nearness went to Jason’s head a little.
"Isn’t this the nigh side?” he said shyly.
For a moment Jason w’as on the nigh side
of life and of Carey Paule. They stood close against the sharpness of the wind. It laid the bright hair back from Carey’s temples to show the small fine shape of her head. Now and then a dash of spray went over them, leaving little shining drops in Carey’s hair. She had pulled off her hat, and now she rolled it up and gave it to Jason. Jason put it in his pocket. He was sharply, wildly aware of it there under his hand. He gave to the small soft hat the caress that he could not offer Carey. Only once he stretched out a shy forefinger and just softly touched one of Carey’s wet red curls. The feel ran through his veins like fire and ice. He took his hand away.
“You’re getting soaked.” he said.
“I know,” said Carey. "Isn’t it fun?”
“I don’t mind.” Jason admitted. In the gathering darkness with Carey close beside him, he found himself talking.
"It’s not a half bad time to advertise clothes,” he w'as saying, "because people need cheering up. Clothes are awfully cheering. You—you take a hat now’,” and he took Carey’s little woolly hat very tenderly between his fingers. “Sometimes it will —w'ill pep you all up. And if—if you’re all pepped up, then sometimes you can do things that—that you couldn’t do if you weren’t.” And illustrating his owrn point, Jason went on talking.
“The worst of it.” Carey was saying, “is to think of names for those models. Tom thought of Colossus for the big one. And Imperator. But he can’t get anything for the small ones.”
"Anti-Colossus,” said Jason promptly— and was pleased when Carey laughed. Jason laughed, too. It made him different. “Or how’s Tremendous Trifle?”
"But you see.” said Carey, “Tom says small men are sensitive. And he can’t think of any small tactful words.”
Jason could believe that. There were no small words in Tom’s vocabulary.
"Big men are sensitive, too,” he pointed out. “How would you like to be called a Colossus?”
“That’s so, too,” said Carey. “It ought to be something subtle.”
“Like High, Wide and Handsome,” said Jason, laughing.
They took up the idea, almost hilariously.
“And then the small one could be Little But Oh My!”
"And what would you call the one with the extra long arms?”
“The Better To Hug You With.”
“How do you know’ about that?” asked Carey provocatively.
For a moment it seemed as if Jason might show her. Jason’s arms were long, if not extravagantly so, and they w'ent easily to Carey’s shoulders and easily round behind her. She stood inside them, small and still and lovely. Far off, the shore lights made a circle of bright gold beads round the edges of the w’orld. and Jason’s arms made a circle round Carey, and Carey’s eyes were bright as the stars in the dark shadow of heaven. Jason’s clasp tightened a little . . . and Carey stirred . . . and he remembered. He let his arms drop.
“I read it in a book,” he said abruptly. “It w’as just a fairy story.”
THE REST of that w’eek was a nightmare.
Mr. Allkin w’ent stamping up and dow’n, hair erect, mustaches a-tw’itch, in a fever of preparation for Mr. Whitefield’s arrival. Things had not been going well of late; the Whitefield account, with its possibilities for the future, meant more than anyone guessed. Tom declaimed with appropriate gestures selections from his masterly Whitefield copy. “Wear a Custom-Made Suit at a Ready-Made Price,” it began. Carey, as she typed again the much revised version, applauded loyally. And Jason attended to all the details that nobody else had time for, and tried not to look at Carey.
By Friday everyone was on the verge of
nervous collapse, and Mr. Allkin took a trip to the mountains to put himself in order for the coming interview. He was to return Sunday night to meet Mr. Whitefield, fresh and smiling, Monday morning. No doubt he would have done so, if, driving through a scudding, inconsiderate rain, he had not plunged through the guard rail of a bridge and landed in a river. The water w'as low’, but the rocks w'ere high. Mr. Allkin. coming out of ether, called for a telegraph blank.
The excitement, when that telegram arrived at the Allkin office, was a thing of real note. Naturally Tom Beeker took charge of the situation.
“Here,” he told them, sticking out his excellent chest, "is where little Tommy shines.” He w’as shining already with anticipation, when he w’ent away to dress for his meeting with Opportunity.
When Tom looked in again, on his way to the station, his appearance w'as superlative. Suit, shirt, socks, shoes; imported, hand tailored, custom-made in very truth. A hint of green in tie and handkerchief border to bring out the color of his eyes. Tom’s manner matched his dress. His fair hair w’as sleek with satisfaction. His voice dropped down an octave and became rich and smooth and creamy. He shook hands all round, and you saw that he was practising the perfect handclasp with w’hich he would presently welcome the Whitefield account.
"So long,” he said. “When you see me again. I’ll be on top of the ant heap. And w'hen this deal goes through, Allkin’s going to give me a bonus.” It was characteristic that he said when instead of if.
“Good luck,” said Carey Paule.
"M-mm,” said Jason.
Tom stuck his head back in the door.
"And when I get the bonus,” he called to Carey, “I’m going to marry you!”
Jason Landing did not have a pleasant afternoon. Clearing up the odds and ends that Tom had left behind him, he watched Carey. She was cleaning out the files; sometimes her fingers shook a little handling the papers. Once she stood a long time by the window, staring out, her back to Jason. Jason saw’ how much Tom’s success meant. When she turned, the look in her face hurt him like a wrench of physical pain. It was so unguarded, so yearning and tender and loving. He turned away from that look in Carey’s face because it was not meant for him to see.
“Don’t worry, kid,” he said.
“Oh, Jason ...” cried Carey. He saw that there were tears under her lashes. “I feel just terrible about it. Tom’s so sure. But maybe ... If there was only something I could do, even now.”
Jason went over and stood beside her. He put his arm around her shoulders. He thought he could not bear it—to touch her like that, with comfort, when every fibre in him was ringing with desire to feel the warm shape of her in his arm, to draw her close as he had almost done that night on the boat. He laid his cheek for an instant against her hair, and set his teeth together hard, and stood up straight again.
“We’ll just have to grin and bear it,” he said, grinning.
Tom returned at four o’clock. They knew when they heard his step in the corridor that he had not got the Whitefield order. And yet it was not a chastened step; it was the loud, ringing step of anger, as if he blamed the world and not himself for failure. He began to shout the moment he opened the door.
"The old fossil!” he shouted. ‘The old backwash ! The old hide-bound, rock-ribbed, dunder-pated, straight-laced, lantern-jawed relic ! I knew the minute I laid eyes on him that you couldn’t make a dent in him with an axe. He doesn’t know campaign from champagne. He doesn’t know ...”
It was plain that Tom Beeker, at least, knew champagne when he saw it. He was not drunk, but he was excitable and noisy. His gestures were exaggerated, his face flushed.
Carey took it well, of course. She was that kind. You would never have guessed to see her how much she had cared. She lifted her head to this new development, setting aside her own feelings in the need for doing something.
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“Tell us what happened,” she said quietly.
"Happened!“ roared Tom. “He insulted me; that's what happened. He treated me like an office boy. 1 took him to the SujX'rba and ordered breast of guinea hen and hearts and palms, and he acted as il I’d offered him baked lx*ans. 1 turned the town over to get some decent wines, and he drank a glass of milk. Couldn’t pull a word out of him with a corkscrew. He's going back on the night train. And he expects to get a free dinner out of me first. The Puritanical old tightwad !”
"You can't take him to dinner till you calm down.” said Carey sensibly. "Come on; let’s go to tea.”
Jason put his head in his hands when they had gone. But after a little he sat up again and began to make marks on a piece of paper. He was still making them, very fast, j when Carey telephoned.
Carey’s voice sounded small and thin. “We’re at the Black Cat,” she said. "Come quick, Jason. Tom ...”
Tom was just being asked to leave the Black Cat when Jason arrived. Tom wanted to shake hands with the doorman. "Please, meecha. ole foshil,” he said. A crowd was gathering, and Jason hurried Carey to a taxicab. Somehow, with the help of the cabman and the doorman, he got Tom in. too. He took Tom home. He carried Tom upstairs and laid him on the bed.
Carey was tucked up in the far comer of j the taxicab when Jason came down. She I was pale. Her eyes looked enormous in a I pinched white face two forest pools, still and unfathomable. She frightened and somehow confident. As if she expected Jason to do something.
Jason knew only too well what it was that he was going to do. 1 le must try to save the situation for Tom because Carey loved him. He pulled the door shut behind him.
“The Superba.” he ordered. “Carey, you land I are going to take Mr. Whitefield to ! dinner.”
PERHAPS NO SHARPER contrast could have been imagined than the two repre, sentatives of the Allkin Agency who waited in the Sujxrba lobby to take Mr. Whitej field to luncheon and to dinner respectively. Even in that shining spot. Tom Beeker had ! been superlative. But about Jason Landing, j in his neat dark-blue suit, his well-blacked I shoes with the thinnish soles, there was nothing spectacular. He stood, his feet a i little apart, as if he needed to balance himself j in a precarious situation. His hands were quiet at his sides. His chin was high and j firm. Carey Paule, looking up at him. had j again that thought which had come to her ! the first time she saw him that he was like a cliff, tall and straight and a little stern, and very, very solid.
Carey Paule was wearing leg-o’-mution sleeves, hut she did not look prim. She was wearing a severe little black hat. set straight on her red curls, but the curls did not look severe. She was facing a crisis, but she did not look frightened now. Trusting, rather, and confident.
"You’ve got to do it.” she said.
“I’ve got to.” agreed Jason. He fingered the butterless bun money in the bottom of his pocket. “There he comes ...”
It was impossible that the man stepping out of the elevator should have been other than Mr. Greeley Whitefield. A tall, grim, handsome old man. with the long careful lingers that ojxm books without breaking the bindings and count their change before leaving the counter. He was all white; silken white hair, meticulously parted, above a high-boned, bloodless face; pale blue eyes that were sharper than you thought them, looking down a long white nose to pale unbending lips. A cautious face, an unbetraying face, with a fiery uprightness. proud and stubborn, behind the j primly arranged features. Jason slepix-d forward. His big, sure handclasp swallowed up Mr. Whitefield's careful fingers. 1 le was explaining.
“Where’s the squirt that was here this noon?” demanded Mr. Whitefield.
“He can’t come.” said Jason literally, avoiding Carey’s
“Tight?” said Mr. Whitefield. “1 thought he would be.”
They did not dine at the Superba that night. Jason took them to Kemo’s Grill, choosing a place within walking distance. For the most part they walked in silence. Mr. Whitefield was not a garrulous man.
Jason ordered the planked steak and cherry pie that were Kemo’s specialties, and Mr. Whitefield turned his meat over to view the other side before he ate it. I le admitted, under pressure, that the weather had not been bad for the season and that business was picking up a little. But from the subject of Cut-to-Fit Clothing he shied resolutely away. Now and then he jerked out a question. disconcertingly abrupt.
“What you here for?” he asked Carey Paule.
”1 supply the feminine psychology,” Carey replied demurely. She added; ”1 wanted to see how Jason got along.”
“Seems to be getting along all right.” said Mr. Whitefield dryly.
Jason laid aside his knife and fork, flushing darkly crimson. He had not realized how busily he was applying himself. It was a long time since he had seen a planked steak so near.
“That’s all right.” said Mr. Whitefield. not unkindly. "Hate to see good victuals wasted. That young whippersnapper this noon . . . wicked extravagance.”
Jason was uneasy, sensing Carey’s discomfort. "Mr. Beeker is very able,” he began.
"Able to throw away a lot of clients’ money.”
“1 mean.” said Jason, “he’s very brilliant-—”
Jason turned it aside, not without neatness. He gave his cuffs a little downward tug.
' I could do with one of your extra longsleeved models myself." he said.
One comer of Mr. Whitefield’s careful mouth twitched the least bit. one could not say with what emotion. He ran his long white hands over the careful iit of his coat.
"This is our extra tall-and-thin.” he admitted. “What do you think of it?”
"It’s awfully becoming,” said Carey Paule warmly. Every eager line of her young face meant it devotedly. Mr. Whitefield was. at least, not angry.
"Not half bad.” admitted Jason.
Mr. Whitefield flicked a look up at him. The corner of his mouth twitched a little more.
"You don’t give yourself away much, do you?”
"Not always,” admitted Jason.
It was then that the comer of Mr. Whitefield’s mouth got away from him and twisted into a smile. It wasn’t much of a smile, as smiles go -rather grim, rather wizened, totally unpractised; but still, according to definition, a smile.
"Tell me,” he said abruptly. “If you were advertising these clothes, what would you say about them?”
"In the first place,” said Jason, "l shouldn’t say anything that wasn’t true.” "Go on.” said Mr. Whitefield. "You interest me strangely.”
Inside his pocket Jason Landing took a hard grip on a purely hypothetical little woolly hat and went on. He was amazed at his own fluency.
"The way I look at it.” he heard himself saying, "there’s been too much exaggeration. Too many big words. I’d rather have people find my product a little more than I said instead of a little less ...”
For a moment, meeting the consuming look in Carey’s eyes, Jason’s voice wavered. He thought he could not bear it that love and loyalty that were not meant for him; tin t dreadful eagerness to have him use his idea to save Tom. Perhaps Carey loved Tom too much ever to realize what she was asking. And Jason loved Carey enough to give her what she asked.
"It’s just a rough draft,” he heard himself saying steadily, laying out his pencilled notes.
If You Can’t Afford A Custom-Made Buy A Cut-to-Fit
They’re not cut to your measure
But they’re cut to the measure of men like you
They're not all-wool
But some are a yard wide
They’re not exclusive patterns
But they have inclusive waist-bands
Ask To See:
Model H.W.H. - for tall men Model L.B.M. - for short men Model L.L.L. - for thin men Model S.S.S. - for stout men Model B.H.Y.W. . . .
“What’s that?” demanded Mr. Whitefield.
“ ‘The Better to Hug You With!’ ” cried Carey Paule. Under the severe little brim of her hat. her eyes were gay and riotous. "Isn’t it simply gorgeous?"
There was certainly something gorgeous somewhere in the world.
For a long moment it was touch and go. Mr. Whitefield down at the pencilled notes between his long pale lingers. He looked at Jason, sitting there towering and four-square and solid as a cliff. He looked at Carey Paule, so little and alive and young, sparkling opposite. He had been young himself once, and there had been a girl. He looked at his cherry pie. It was good pie. The comers of his mouth twisted.
“Come round to the hotel tomorrow morning,” he said, “and we’ll talk it over. I shouldn’t lx* surprised if you’d got an idea there that wasn’t a total loss.”
THERE WAS a telegram waiting when they had said gixxl night to Mr. Whitefield in the lobby of the Superba.
"It’s an answer to mine.” Carey said, and handed it to Jason. "Twenty-live hundred bonus double salary. Alikin."
Jason went a little white, holding himself hard. The taste of success, for Tom. was dusty in his mouth.
"That's very generous.” he said, in a queer difficult voice. He saw Carey’s breath coming fast. He saw Carey’s eyes; not still and unfathomable any more, not riotous and gay. unguarded, tender, quick with love. "1 - hope you will be very happy.”
"I hoix* so.” said Carey.
"When - when are you going to be married?”
”1 don’t know.” said Carey. "I thought I’d wait till I was asked."
"But Tom ..."
"Oh. Tom!” said Carey. “Do you think I’d marry a man who was so sure of me that he’d tell me instead of asking? Besides, I found out a lot of things going through those files. I found your agreement with Mr. Alikin. 1 found the original of the Toothsome Tooth Paste copy that Tom got his raise for. 1 . .
Jason had not heard a word of it after that first sentence.
"Do you mean . . . ?" he cried. “Do you think . . .? Could you ever . . .?”
“Well!” cried Carey. “Why do you suppose I let Tom get himself tight so you could have a chance at Mr. Whitefield? What do you suppose I wired Mr. Alikin? Silly, of course I love you!”
Right in the middle of the shining Superba lobby Jason Landing was doing a fearfully spectacular thing. He was kissing Carey Paule. He was kissing her a lot. He was kissing her half to pieces. He was whispering crazy, lovely, superlative things into her red curls. The world was a very superlative place.
It would always be like that.