FICTION

Mary Clare Davron Says: You Can Married

March 1 1933
FICTION

Mary Clare Davron Says: You Can Married

March 1 1933

Mary Clare Davron Says: You Can Married

SWEET SIXTEEN! The way people talk, you would think it was romantic to be sixteen, but I have learned the utter fallacy of this. I think sixteen is a lousy age and it is tragedy to be it.

My grandmother brags that she was married at sixteen and had three children, of which (whom?) mother was one, by the time she was twenty. But as 1 said to her once. “Grandma, you posatively make a fuss about that as though it were two separate achievements, whereas you know that one was directly continjent on the other. If you hadn’t married you couldn’t have had the children, or presumably.” She looked at me sharply and remarked that whatever this age lacked in precipitancy of action it made up in precocity of speech. (Those words are spelled right. I always look up any word that bothers me.)

This summer I did everything in my power to follow grandmother’s example. I tried to get married. It made me sick, when I was home for the Easter holidays, to see the fun Nance was having Nance is my sister, three years older

while I was cooped up all the time with children in boarding school.

Of course, the only thing that would keep me out of school was marriage. So 1 determined to get married.

Mother and dad were in Europe, grandmother in charge of our house. Nance had a lot of men calling on her and she introduced me to them as her “little sister, just home from boarding school.” Naturally this made me sick, but I quickly learned I could expect nothing in the way of co-operation from Nance. So I decided not to consider her. She had plenty of men calling on her and could easily spare one.

The night Willoughby Dane called on her. I was sitting on the bottom step of the porch, narrowly observing him. Little did he think, as he came swinging up the walk, of the preditory nature of my thoughts.

"You look pensive as the devil. Poppy. What’s brewing?” He sat down beside me on the step. He is tall and very blonde, just the type I, with my raven hair, should marry.

“Willoughby.” I asked him. “did people ever make you suffer by not taking you seriously?”

“On the contrary. There was a girl once—”

“I don’t mean in love affairs."

He looked sharply at me and I didn't like his quick grin.

“Anybody that looks like you is bound to have a lot of men in love with her.”

"I don’t want a lot of men in love with me. That seems to be the trouble. Most girls think a little of too many men and not enough of one.”

"Pops! They're making a philosopher of you up at that school.”

“That school! Please don’t mention it. Willoughby. I'm not going back.”

“I thought you had another year to go.”

“I had. But I know plenty to carry me through life, even if I never saw another schoolbook, so I’ve made other plans."

“Were they along the lines of which you spokeloving someone a whole lot, etcetera?”

It was plain he didn’t trust me, and his gaze was so penetrating I was afraid of him.

"Anything your grandmother does is all right, isn t it, Willoughby?”

I was glad Nance came out at the moment.

“Hi. Bill !” she called slangily. (I try never to descend to slang mvself and Sister Assumptra says that without a doubt I shall some day be literary. I asked her four times and she finally said yes. She added “Or something." but she smiled at me when she said it, and I knew she meant I would be.)

I watched Willoughby and Nance go down the walk to his car. Of course, he was old—twenty-seven—but he had none of the obvious defects of age. If I could get him away from Nance . .

"By, Pops,” he said. “Don’t do anything your grandmother wouldn’t do.”

“You know my grandmother,

Willoughby.” They both laughed. (Nance needn’t be so patronizing.)

THEY had scarcely gone when Grant Reddington appeared from around the corner. As he turned in at the walk, I noticed how gay and smiling his brown eyes were, yet how knowing. Just the type I. with my innocent blue eyes, should marry.

“Nance has gone with Willoughby.” I made my voice sound wistful. “If you haven’t anything better to do, maybe you’d sit here a little while and talk to me. Everybody is out but Chet. He’ll be down pretty soon.”

“I’ll wait for him.” Chet is my brother who was graduated with Grant.

I determined to waste no time in idle conversation.

“Grant,” I said, “what is your ideal of the perfect girl?”

“I don’t know any—thank the Lord.” "But supposing you were pressed for specifications?”

“Well, I think Nance is a little bit of all right.” There’s tact for you!

He threw his dark, handsome head back against the orange-strijired cushion and looked at me as if seeing me for the first time.

“You on the warpath or something. Poppy? Come and tell your Uncle Grant what’s bothering you?”

T seized my opportunity.

“Grant.” I said, “I’d like a little grownup company as a change from school kids. Nance’s roadster is out in the garage. Would you like to take me for a little drive?”

“Sure.” he answered but without enthusiasm. “Where would you like to go?” “I’d like to drive out to Pine Bluff to see the moon come up.”

“Sure.” he said again and went around to get the car.

At that moment Chet came out of the house. In a family where one is constantly misunderstood, it is a joy to find someone like Chet. He always has been my favorite relative.

“I heard you dating Grant,” he said. “Not so bad. Pops, for a first attempt.” He stood looking at me with an affectionate smile.

"Chet, I’m bored simply stiff,” I said. "You’ve been home from school a whole week and nothing’s happened.”

“Nothing ever happens." I said. “You and dad are the only bright spots in my life, and dad’s in Europe—”

"So you are enlarging your horizon to include Grant? The idea of the drive was a happy one. I don’t need to remind you that the moon comes up just as gorgeously out at the end of our own garden as it does at Pine Bluff.”

Grant came around the drive with the car.

“ ’Lo, Chet,” he said. “Poppy and I are going for a drive. Want to come?”

I was furious.

“Sorry, I'm afraid I can’t.” Chet gave me a knowing glance which Grant couldn’t see. and I knew right then that he was going to be an ally of mine.

I must say I was disappointed in Grant. I might as well have been his maiden aunt for all the romantic attention he paid me.

When the moon was coming up gloriously out at Pine Bluff (1020), he was in the middle of a story about a fishing trip he and Chet had once taken.

"Let’s stop the car and watch the moon come up,” I said, as soon as he gave me a chance to say anything.

“Sure.” He manoeuvred the car into a curve in the road that gave us a wonderful view.

My heart stood still. The night was fragrant, the sky gorgeous, the air soft and warm and Grant was very handsome in the moonlight. I sighed softly and waited.

He lit a cigarette, slouched into a comfortable position, leaned back in his seat and relaxed.

“The difference between deep-sea fishing, Poppy, and other varieties is that when you fish in deep water ...”

I heard no more. He was looking in the direction of the

moon but I knew he wasn’t even seeing it. He kept on with his tiresome discourse, for every once in a while I caught the word “fish,” but though I said “yes” now and then I didn’t pay any more attention to him. He had so utterly missed the point of the drive and he was my first big disappointment. On the way back he talked about the tennis matches out at the clubhouse.

Chet was on the porch when we got back home. Grant fell upon him like a long lost brother and talked a lot more about fishing and tennis. I sat stiffly by until finally Grant had the grace to take himself off.

“Tell Nance I was around, will you?" he said, as he went down the walk.

“Not much of a success, was it. Pops?” I could feel real sympathy in Chet’s voice.

"Chet, what’s the matter with me?” I asked bluntly

“Matter, darling?” he said in that cool, drawling voice of his. "You’re just about perfect.”

“Nobody else thinks so. All they seem to think of is Nance."

“Nance is a charming sedative, you are a heady cocktail.”

“I might as well have been a lump of dough tonight.”

"THE NEXT DAY I was thinking the I matter out. So that I could lx alone, 1 went down to the far end of our garden where it joins the Allenbyestate. Suddenly, and right facing me. I came upon a man with an easel in front of him. busily sketching away.

My heart stood still. He was tall— I like tall men—with red hair and brown eyes; just the type I, with my blue eyes and black hair, should marry.

Now, with the exception of the moon, I don’t care a straw about Nature. After all, sky is only sky no matter how blue it is; trees can be graceful and imposing, but they can’t talk to you; and the brighter sunshine is, the more it makes you long for someone to share it with. But the minute I saw this man working I had an idea.

There is a rose arlxrr at the back of the garden, and I hastened over and sfixrd nicely jxrised in the centre of it. the red of the roses making a nice background for my dark hair. Then 1 Ux>k the pose of one spellbound by the beautiful scene before me. (All is fair in love and war). I coughed slightly but ltxrked in his direction only out of the corner of my eye. I knew he had lcxrked up, so I moved slowly out of the arlxrr. Then, to my horror. I saw he had turned back to his easel and was going right on with his work.

It was discouraging, but faint heart ne’er won. etc. I twisted that quotation to suit myself and walked over to the stone wall.

“Would you mind," I said earnestly, "if I sat and watched you paint?”

“Not at all." He rose and made a quick, very elegant bow. (Catch Grant or Willoughby bowing ter me like that, even if they knew how!) He sat down and 1 climbed on the wall.

I must have watched him work for fifteen minutes or more. By that time I knew all about his methods and was beginning to get slightly bored with just sitting still. I used the time to good advantage, however, trying fir plan how I should get him before Nance saw him.

Finally he collected his things, rose, stretched and smiled over at me.

“It is not often I am favored with so charming an audience.” he said. "May I sit on the wall and talk fir you?” He. too. was old like Willoughby.

"You made a beautiful picture against the rost* bower,” he said. “Do you walk in the garden every day?”

“Yes.” I said. “About this time. May I watch you again tomorrow?”

He nodded.' “I shall lx* here every day this week and should feel honored to have you for audience. Know anything about painting:'"

"I want fir watch you so I can learn. Are you visiting the Allenbys?”

Are you visiting the Allenbys?” He said he was. His name was Glendale and. without mister or first name or anything, it suited him—just as you’d say “Wales” for the prince. He said he had come to paint some of our beautiful countryside.

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“It is very beautiful.” I sighed. "Particularly when the moon comes up at Pine Bluff.”

"Sounds as if it might be rather good.”

“Would you like to paint it?”

He shrugged. “One never knows where he will find inspiration.”

“If you would like to drive out and see it, I could take you tonight in my roadster.” I didn’t think it necessary to explain about it being Nance’s roadster. Why mention her before I had to?

“I don’t know what Dick Allenby had .planned for tonight,” he said rather hesitantly. “May I call you later?”

“The moon comes up at ten twenty-one. I watched it last night while a man was telling me a story ...”

He looked at me thoughtfully.

“In your time you will probably see many moonfe come up, and many men will tell you stories.”

Fancy Grant or Willoughby wasting a line like that on me! Needless to say, I didn’t tell him the story was about fish.

“What is your ideal of a perfect girl?” I asked with grave interest.

He smiled againhe was always smiling.

“You are a delightful young lady,” he said, “and stop at none but major issues, I see.”

I wasn’t quite sure what he meant by that, so I just gazed at him with my wideojx:n blue eyes and he went on.

“Every man,” he said, “creates his own ideal of perfection. And sometimes even that varies.”

Really, I had never heard so much real conversation. I was enthralled. I could have killed the Allenby’s butler when he came out across the lawn. “Telephone call for you, sir,” he said.

Glendale leaped off the wall and helped me down.

“I shall telephone you around seven,” he said.

AS SOON as he was out of sight, I flew k back to the house. I dashed up the stairs and locked the door of my room. Then I looked critically at myself in the fulllength mirror and tried to imagine any man calling me his “ideal of perfection.”

Suppose he wanted to paint me! Everything looked all right, but I couldn’t afford to take chances. I went to the scales in mother’s room. For my height and age. the table said, I should weigh ninety-eight pounds. I took off my clothes and found myself to be ninety-nine pounds !

I saw something would have to be done. After all. an ideal is an ideal, and Glendale was the type who would not tolerate his being marred by a mere pound. As I looked in the glass, I could see the very spot where the extra pound was and I knew I had to do something about it. There was still time to catch the noon train, so I went down to the telephone and immediately put in a call for the city.

“Nurmi,” I said, when I got the number. “I am coming in on the twelve-o-two and I want you to save an hour for me.”

"Vot for?”

“For a treatment,” I said. I didn’t like her tone. For some reason. Nurmi has never held me in the same respect she has the rest of the family. I suppose the fact that I am the youngest of the lot has something to do with it (No man is a hero to his valet). Nurmi used to be our nursemaid, and when it became reasonably certain there were to be no more babies in our family. Nurmi left us and went into the business of making women beautiful. She lays you on a table and kneads pounds off you.

“It is very important.” I told her now. “Mother would appreciate your doing something for me at once.” (I mentioned mother because it was she who lent Nurmi the money to set up in business.)

“Vot iss wrong?” she enquired again.

“I’ll tell you when I see you. A treatment is five dollars, isn’t it?”

“Yah. You sick?"

“No. Nurmi, in case I can’t get five dollars together, will you trust me until the first of the mouth?”

She made a reply that sounded something like a snort, but I chose to ignore it. hung up the phone and went in search of Chet.

“What’s the big worry now?” he asked, when I found him at the tennis court.

“Chet. I need five dollars and I’ve only got two-sixty-one. Can you let me have the rest?” He let me have it. though it was the third time I had asked him for money during the month.

“I must repeat Willoughby’s admoni-1 tion,” he said with a sharp look, as I thanked him and started off. “Don’t do anything your grandmother wouldn't do."

“On the contrary,” I said. “I shall try very hard to emulate her.”

Grimes, who has been our chauffeur for twenty years, took me to the station. He didn’t want to do it. Said something about having to wash the cars. But I told him it was a life and death matter.

Promptly at two o’clock I arrived at Nurmi’s. She has a cute apartment with what should be a living room rigged up as a i treatment room. There is a cabinet where j you sit and steam for half an hour. Then she lays you on a white, padded table that looks just like an operating table and ixninds you to pieces.

I expected trouble with her and I had it. She couldn’t see the necessity of my having a treatment and started to argue with me.

“Dot is not necessary,” she said. “Your mamma, she does not know?”

"Now, Nurmi, don’t be a crab. You know mother is in Europe. Besides. I have the five dollars.”

I was undressing quickly for fear she’d decide not to treat me. and grudgingly she turned on the heat in the cabinet. She shook her head when she looked at me.

“You are many pounds too t’in.” she said. “Beefsteak an’ oatmeal an’ milk you should be eating.”

I hopped into the cabinet before she could change her mind, and finally, when I was thoroughly steamed and my face in the mirror above the cabinet looked like a boiled beet, she took me out. I had a nice warm shower after whieb she laid me on the table.

An operating table is almost what it turned out to be. She pummelled and j pounded me until I was constantly wincing and it took all my strength to keep from j yelling out loud. Now, massage is massage | and a slap is a slap, and if you are on the ¡ receiving end you can quickly tell them ; apart. And when Nurmi came to that extra pound, a slap is exactly what she gave me. I nearly leaped off the table.

"Nurmi,” I yelled, “is that necessary?”

She looked at me innocently, but I knew she had paid me back for the time when I was seven years old and sailed her new Sunday hat with the flowers on it in the lake for a float. I should have liked to rise up and slap her in return, but I suddenly remembered the cause in which I was suffering. I

It was a relief, however, when the ordeal | was over and I got on the scales and weighed j 97 and 9-10 pounds. I had achieved perfec! tion, or practically, but oh, at what a cost (I am not referring to the S5.00.).

While I dressed. Nurmi went out into her kitchen and returned with a big bowl of soup and crackers, which I gratefully ate while she plied me with questions about trivial matters like grandmother's rheumatism, father’s business and mother's plans for the fall. I answered “yes” and “no" at random, letting my mind dwell on the evening before me and the state of almost perfection I had attained. When I got out on the street I bought a chocolate ice-cream soda (twenty cents I had borrowed from Grimes).

QN stopped MY WAY to look down at the to shop the station. windows. I et Trousseaux one sign read, and the window held some of the most adorable tilings I have ever seen. Eggshell silk with real Alençon lace, faint pink satin and filmy chiffon. Since I still had a little time. 1 stepped inside.

A slender, smart-looking woman with white hair beautifully waved and very red lips came up to me.

"I shall be needing a trousseau soon.” I told her. and thought I saw her quick eye dart to the third finger of my left hand.

“Certainly.” she said, “will mademoiselle be seated?”

A girl brought out a big black book and laid it open upon the velvet-topped counter.

“You will want some white, of course.” the woman said, while the girl opened a drawer and t out a nightgown that took my breath away. Chiffon, it was. with lace and rosebuds and white satin ribbon.

‘There’s a slip to match this and a chemise,” the woman said. She held the chemise up against me. and it was just the sort of thing I, with my sophisticated expression, should wear. Something told me it was expensive.

“How much?” I enquired.

“The set-mprising three pieces —is two hundred and twenty-five dollars. \Ye could have as many sets as you wanted made up. When is the wedding to be?” "Before October third,” I said (October third is the day school opens.)

“Plenty of time.” She seemed relieved. Before 1 left that shop I ordered 300 dollars worth of stuff. Of course, I cñdn’t have the $300, but grandmother always gives me $100 for Christmas and if I could coax her to give it to me now ... I could say it was a life and death matter. Then I could write Barbara Blaisdell. a good pal of mine at sch(x and the only girl who had unlimited spending money. I could take her into my confidence and borrow the $200 from her. If your family doesn’t buy you a trousseau before you are married, they certainly can’t object to paying for it afterward.

Not that there was much trousseau. I bought the white set for $225. and the other $75 covered a few odds and ends. If 1 couldn’t get any more, I should be put to the humiliating necessity of washing my underwear every day while on my honeymoon. But, oh, that white set !

1 gave the woman our country address, and told her I would telephone her as I didn’t want the things delivered too early. Of course, I did want them, for who knew how soon I should need them? But I would have to get that money from Barbara and grandma.

It was late when 1 got out and I had to make a mad rush down Peel Street. I had no money for a taxi, and I trembled to think how much hung on my catching that train. I tremble even now.

The conductor held the gate open for me as I dashed down the platform, and, panting for breath, fell weakly into the train.

I n the very second seat he sat. He saw me come in, all flushed and breathless, and he sort of moved over to the window and made nx for me beside him.

My heart stood still. He was tall, with olive skin and blue eyes and straight black hair—just the type I. with my olive skin, blue eyes and straight black hair, should marry. He was young. Lx about eighteen; not like the old men who ran after Nance.

As I sank gracefully into the seat, I knew he was acutely aware of my presence. I didn’t know what to do next.

I was spared thinking, however, for just as I got my breath the conductor popped up from nowhere yelling. ‘Tickets.’’

I opened my bag and reached for mine. It wasn’t there! Desperately I seached through all the compartments. No ticket. I turned my bag inside out in my lap, but no use. It just wasn’t there.

“I I’ve lost my ticket,” I told the conductor.

He seemed in a great hurry, for the train was crowded.

“Where you going?” he asked.

I told him.

“One dollar and sixty cents,” he yelled. It was the most embarrassing moment of my life. No ticket and no $1.60. 1 saw

myself being thrown off the train. It seemed to me it had aireadv begun to slow down.

I felt . . .

The boy at my side held out to the conductor a ticket book just like mother’s. “Allow me,” he said, and what else could do but allow him?

When the conductor had torn out one of the little tickets and gone up the aisle. thanked my new friend. I asked him his name so I could send him the money for the ticket (not mentioning that he’d have to wait till the first of the month.)

He said please not to bother about it. His name, he told me. was Hampden Blaisdell.

MY HEART stood still.

“Not the Hamp Blaisdell who was nearly taken out of schtxd last winter and sent to his father’s ranch out West—not Barbara Blaisdell’s brother!”

He made a funny face.

“I see my reputation's preceded me.” “Barbara said your father wanted you to work harder and get better marks.” explained to him how I had just lost mother's book of tickets. “And I spent my last twenty cents for a soda before I got on the train.”

“I’m glad to hear it was nothing more important than a soda that made you nearly miss your train.” His eyes were smiling and very friendly.

“Oh. that was because I spent so much time in the trousseau shop.”

“Trousseau!” he sighed. “It would be just my luck to meet a girl like you when she was buying a trousseau.”

“There’s nothing definite about mine.” said, and realized at once I had said the wrong thing.

“Nothing definite!” he laughed. “You almost miss a train to buy it, yet there’s nothing definite about it.”

I certainly didn’t want him to think I was engaged.

“Sometimes people do things on speculation," I said; and that sounded funny, t after I’d said it.

He looked sharply at me I seem to have gift for making people look sharply at me after a few minutes conversation.

“I think I’ve heard Babs speak of you.” he said. “Aren’t you the Poppy Glassford who organized the party to get out of the dormitory window and sneak off to the junior prom at

“Say nothing of that.” I told him. “It wasn’t my fault that Sister Assumptra found out and made me call it off.”

“Speaking of dances.” he said, “my car is parked at the station. Why do you have to go home? Why can’t we go somewhere for dinner tonight and we can dance ...”

My first engagement that I didn’t have to wangle myself! And then I thought of Glendale. What to do?

“I had a sort of engagement,” I said.

“Sort of engagements don’t count. Suppose he didn’t show up? And here you have me . . . ” He was bending his dark head toward me and smiling so that his white teeth flashed like a streak across his olive face.

“I’ll go,” I said. After all, he might be right. Suppose Glendale didn’t turn up? (A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.) I borrowed a nickel to telephone home, and asked for Chet.

“Darling,” I said. “I met Barbara Blaisdell’s brother on the train. I’m going to dinner with him, and here’s something want you to do for me. If a telephone call comes from anybody, tell him I was suddenly called away, but I’ll meet him by the rose bower tomorrow.”

“Sounds like a song. Whom will you meet by the rose bower tomorrow?”

“The man who will call, I told you. Say I’ll be looking forward to it.”

“Look here. Pops, just where are you going with this Blaisdell?”

I was compelled to go through the childish performance of coming out of the booth and asking Hamp where he intended to take me. Catch Nance having to report like that. And my own Chet making me !

I told him the place that Hamp said.

‘‘I’ll give you till ten o’clock.” he said. ‘‘You can have dinner and plenty of dancing by that time.”

"Chet.” I pleaded. “I thought we’d come home by way of Pine Bluff and watch the moon come up. But that doesn’t happen till ten twenty-one. Couldn’t I stay till eleven?” ‘‘Oh. I suppose so. But aren’t you rather overworking the moon?”

I laughed and said I hoped not.

“Now remember. Pops, I have your promise. Eleven o’clock.”

It seemed the best I could do.

“You have my promise, darling.” Little did I think how that promise would affect my whole life.

WE WENT to the inn for dinner and had plenty of dances. I must say. though, after Glendale’s conversation of the morning. Hamp's sounded rather commonplace. He expected to enter university in the fall and he talked so much about football that if it hadn't been for his wonderful looks and the fact that he is a divine dancer. I should have been very much bored. I even began to be a little sorry I had let Glendale down. But I counted on that drive out to Pine Bluff.

For a little while I thought I was going to be disappointed, but as we drove into the starry night Hamp abruptly put football out of his head. When the big red moon was just showing over the rim of the earth, he slowed down the car. His dark, handsome face was silhouetted against the rising moon. He ran the car with one hand and laid the other over mine. My heart stood still.

“Who’s this man you're planning to marry. Poppy?”

“I’m not planning to marry any special man.”

“Oh, no special one. Just any man? Why were you buying a trousseau?”

“Hamp,” I said, “Barbara told me all about you last winter. How you didn’t want to go to college, and about your father wanting to send you to the ranch. Well, I want to get out of school, too. I’m a home woman, like my grandmother, and she married at sixteen. There is a man, a much older man, and he has an ideal, one of his own that he has created

“And you are it, I suppose?”

I let my eyelids flutter modestly in the moonlight.

“You can’t help it, Hamp, if the wrong man falls in love with you.”

“What makes him the wrong man?” “The fact that I don’t think he is the right one.”

“Then why buy a trousseau for him?” Hamp seemed a little dense.

“I’ll never use it.” I knew now that this was true. Even if, as Hamp thought. Glendale was in love with me, I knew I loved some one else better, some one whose face in the moonlight reminded me of . . . “I shall probably go back to school,” I said pensively, “and live on to be a lonely bowed old woman.”

“You don’t have to go back to school. As a matter of fact, I don’t have to go to university either. Let’s elope. Father will send me to the ranch then for certain, and you can come with me. I think you are the prettiest girl I’ve ever seen and we could liave a swell time out at the ranch. Let’s drive in to town now and as soon as City Hall opens in the morning we can get a license.” We were at Pine Bluff and Hamp had stopped the car.

“Kiss me, Poppy,” he said.

I did. and then I had a horrid thought. “Hamp, I can’t elope with you tonight.” “Don’t you care enough?”

“Oh, more than enough. But I—I promised Chet I’d be in at eleven o’clock. Chet’s my brother.”

“That’s all right. Do you suppose your grandmother asked her brother if she could elope?”

“She didn’t have a brother like Chet. And she hadn’t promised anything.”

"Look here. Poppy, people don’t go about

asking their families if they can elope. Either you want to or you don’t. I’m crazy about you and we could have a wonderful time out at the ranch. Go ahead, make up your mind to come tonight.”

“I’ve got to be back by eleven o’clock.” I said firmly.

Hamp took his hand away from mine and sat up stithy in his place.

“I don’t believe you want to go. I don’t believe you care—”

“I do. I tell you.” I was getting mad at him. Then I had a bright idea. “Couldn’t j we elope tomorrow?”

“The thrill would be gone then. It’s this I spur of the moment thing that makes it so alluring.”

“Besides, I haven’t got my trousseau yet.” “You could send home for it.”

Then another thought struck me square in the middle of the brain. How could I borrow money from Barbara Blaisdell to pay for a trousseau I should wear eloping with her brother? She’d most certainly want j to know who I was going with. ,

“There are difficulties you don’t know anything about.”

“If you were really in earnest, you wouldn’t let anything interfere.”

He was distinctly cross, and I was beginning to wonder if I hadn't made a big mistake by not being at home for Glendale’s1 call. While I sat there brooding, another car nosed in beside ours—evidently two others out to see the moon come up. Waiting for Hamp to get over his crossness. I let my, eyes dwell on the other car. Then suddenly I started in good earnest, for who should be sitting there in the low. open roadster but Nance and that traitor. Glendale.

I felt a faint nausea. Hamp went on with his childish prattle, but I didn’t hear him.

“Take me away from here—quick.“ I said, and he turned the car around.

“Won’t you elope with me tonight?”

“I would, only for my promise to Chet.” “Elopements are like acts of God. They automatically cancel all other contracts.” He held my hand tighter. “Will you elojxï with me in the morning?”

“I never heard of anyone eloping in the morning. It isn’t very romantic.”

“Whose fault is it we aren’t eloping tonight?” He was showing signs of getting j cross again. “We can pick up in Montreal! that trousseau you’re insisting upon.” “Hamp,” 1 said slowly, “I can’t elope tomorrow. The trousseau won’t be ready.” Hamp’s jaws clicked shut with a snap. “Then we won’t elope at all. You don’t really want to go. You’re just a kid with an idea you like to play with.”

“I’m not a kid,” I shot back, “but whoever heard of a girl taking for a trousseau the childish clothes she wore at boarding school?” How could I tell him I couldn’t have the trousseau until I borrowed the money from his sister?

We argued all the way home and finally compromised on going on the 10:15 train anyway, me with such trousseau as I could scrape together.

“I’ll be in the first Pullman,” Hamp said (he lived two stations farther on). - “I’ll have a chair for you.”

1WAS curiously unexcited and unthrilled when I reached home. Perhaps all the rebuffs I had suffered from Nance’s men had made me callous. I saw a light in Chet’s study. At any rate, I had kept my promise to him.

“Two minutes to eleven, old child,” I called out.

He opened the door.

“Good girl,” he said. “But I’d like to know by what system you work. Here you invite a chap like Glendale—”

“Don’t talk to me about him.” The perfidy of Nance and Glendale! “I saw him and Nance out at Pine Bluff. Not that I care now—”

“I’m glad you don’t.” Chet said slowly, “for if ever I saw flint strike tinder—” When I went upstairs I looked in my bureau drawers at the clothes that were supposed to do me for a trousseau. Such a childish outfit. I went into Nance’s room and took everything out of the two bureau drawers where she kept her best things. I left a note:

“Dear Nance, I had to have a trousseau. You can have my $100 from grandma at Christmas. I hope you will find some one as nice to marry as I have. Keep on trying. Poppy.”

Next morning before anyone was up, I took the two bags containing my pitiful trousseau out to the garage and put them in the station wagon.

“I have to go to town on the ten-fifteen,” I told Grimes, “so I’ll ride down to the station with you when you go for the marketing.”

“I gotta go down early,” he said.

“I’ll go whenever you do. Don’t leave without me.”

We were all at breakfast when the telephone rang. My excitement over telephone calls was a thing of the past now, so 1 didn’t pay any attention.

Then that fathead. Wilkins, walked into the room.

‘The Paris Shoppe is on the telephone,” he said. “They are asking for authority to go ahead on Miss Poppy Glassford’s trousseau.”

If some one had thrown a bomb into the room, four people couldn’t have started so.

“Wh-a-a-t?” Grandma almost choked over a roll. Nance laid down her fork abruptly and lcx>ked at me. Chet’s calm eyes pierced through me. I got up with what dignity I could and went to the telephone.

“Poppy.” grandma called, “come back here. What nonsense is this?”

“Poppy Glassford.” Nance exclaimed, “I knew you were up to something yesterday.” “Don’t get so excited, everybody,” I told them. “There’s a mistake somewhere.” I threw a withering glance at the fathead carrying a tray out of the nx>m. I suppose he was happy. He had paid me back for the time when I was ten years old and jumped up from behind the sofa while he was making love to the chambermaid.

Chet followed me into the hall and took the telephone from my hand. He listened a moment, then said:

“The credit is all right, but would you be good enough to hold up work on that trousseau for the moment. Something has developed ...”

Back in the dining room grandma and Nance were speechless. They went on with their breakfast in silence, their eyes fastened suspiciously on me. For once I was speechless myself.

I cast a glance at the hall clock. It was after nine and my elopement was scheduled for 10.15. The king of fatheads came back into the rwm again.

"Grimes wishes to say. Miss Poppy, that he is leaving for the village now ”

“Tell him I’ll be out in a moment,” I said.

"He says to tell you the station wagon broke down, and while he was moving your bags to the blue car the strap on one bag broke.”

Like an old general grandmother drew herself up.

"Remove Miss Poppy’s bags from any of the cars." she said. Knowing all about elo|X'rnents. I suppose her senses were a little keener than the rest. "Poppy, I want to speak to you.” She rose from the table.

She led the way to the library and I had to sit there while she said a lot about responsibility hers and mine. Out through the open window 1 beheld the melancholy spectacle of Grimes carting my bags back into the house, the broken strap that hud been the cause of my discovery dangling along behind him on the ground. I shuddered and turned away.

Grandma’s talk was very dry. You would think she had never ek>i>ed in her life. I tried not to listen.

‘■Understand. Poppy. I am not offering this as a reward. I expect you to behave without that— "

I came to life at once.

“Chester tells me he is going abroad for a short business trip. He has agreed to take

you over so that you may join your parents and return with them later in the season. I am making you a present of this trip upon your solemn promise ...”

By that time I was not listening. Europe with Chet -meeting dad—I was so overjoyed at the prospect that I was almost thankful I wasn’t married.

The telephone rang and Chet answered. He motioned to me to come out into the hall and said, so low grandma couldn’t hear: “Your bridegroom is on the wire.”

It was true. I had forgotten about Hamp. “Where the heck are you?” he demanded. “Where are you?" I asked, my polite manner a marked contrast to his surly one.

“I was on the train. When you didn’t get on I got off. What’s the trouble?’’

“Hamp,” I said, making my voice sound tragic, “I’ve been apprehended.”

“Meaning you can’t come?”

“Meaning exactly that. Oh, Hamp,’it’s all a series of tragic mistakes.” I was afraid he’d try to make me elope when I wanted to go to Europe, so I had to make it strong. “Hamp, the woman always ¡jays. Here I am, practically under guard, while you are down there free as air.”

“With two secondhand railway tickets I’d sell cheap,” he snorted.

“That’s nothing. I have a secondhand trousseau that’ll never loe worn.” Hamp couldn’t know it wouldn’t be worn because it would never be paid for.

“If you’d eloped with me last night, we’d be married now and on our way out to the ranch.”

Isn’t that just like a man? Harping on the commonplace facts of the case while all the fine overtones escape him?

“Don’t be childish, Hamp. Think of the romance we almost had.”

HE DIDN’T think of it long, however, for when I came back from Europe, just before school opened, and was buying my dull-looking wardrobe for the new term, the first person I ran into was Barbara Blaisdell.

“Have you heard about Hamp?” she asked excitedly.

“No. What?” I held my breath.

“He fell in love with an actress and was planning to elope with her—”

“Are you sure she was an actress?” I asked, pleased to be called that.

“Oh. yes. She’s in some show here in town. Only yesterday, when Hamp had the elopement all planned, she married some one else.”

“Yesterday!” I was aghast.

“Yes. Didn’t you see the morning paper?” Barbara laughed. “ ’Scion of Wealthy Family Jilted.’ it said. But the part that killed Hamp was. ‘Father Claps Him Back In School.’ You see. the actress was onlystringing Hamp and a lot of other kids along. She was forty-five—”

"Hamp ought to have a guardian,” I said. “That’s just what father said. Poppy, it’s extraordinary what a head you have.”

1 left her. a sadder and wiser person. That fickle, {jerfidious Hamp! As I had been dragged hither and yon through Europe, never long enough in one place to acquire a successor to Hamp, I had imagined him pining for me, maybe even wasting away. But no.

It is October now and I am back in school. As yet, none of my family know that their so-called troubles with me are over.

For I am going to become a nun. I asked Sister Assumptra the other day how one went about becoming one. and she said it could he arranged but perhaps it would be better to do nothing about it until next summer when I finish school.

So I look forward to going my gentle waythrough life, bothering no one, helping all those with whom I come in contact and letting girls come to me and tell me their troubles, which I shall understand only too well, having been through all of them.

Just the same, considering that he practically jilted me. I don’t think it would hurt Hamp Blaisdell if he took me to some of the football games this fall. Wasn’t I engaged to him once?