Concerning Oglethorpe Frisbie, architect, and his client, George Teeter—They set out to build a Dream Bungalow and landed in the doghouseLESLIE McFARLANE January 15 1942
Concerning Oglethorpe Frisbie, architect, and his client, George Teeter—They set out to build a Dream Bungalow and landed in the doghouseLESLIE McFARLANE January 15 1942
PRETTY little Susie Singleton, from the insurance office next door, peeped into Oglethorpe Frisbie’s office and said: “There’s a gentleman to see you.” She added in an excited whisper: “I think he wants you to build him a house.”
Wakeville’s leading -- and only -- architect yanked his feet off the desk, sat bolt upright in his chair. The copy of the architectural magazine that had shielded his eyes from the sun during his afternoon doze flopped to the floor. He blinked incredulously at Susie.
“I think so.”
“Wants me to build him a house?”
“That’s what he said.”
“You’re sure it wasn’t a barn?”
“He didn’t say anything about a barn. A house.”
“You mean a real house. To live in. With a roof, and windows and things?”
“I heard him distinctly. He said house.”
“Holy smoke!” gasped Mr. Frisbie and leaped violently from his chair. “Don’t let him in for a minute.”
He whisked a handkerchief from his pocket, grabbed his drawing board, dusted it frantically, snatched up a blueprint, pinned it to the board upside down. Bleating softly, uttering little yelps of agitation, he cantered around the office, dusted off a chair, upset a top-heavy pile of architectural journals, knocked over the hatrack, stepped into the wastebasket, adjusted the cockeyed window shade so thoroughly that it flew out of his hands and clattered wildly out of reach. Having thus set the place to rights, Mr. Frisbie grabbed a pencil and scrambled back into his chair.
“Show him in, Susie,” he ordered hoarsely.
Oglethorpe Frisbie squinted gravely at the blueprint as Susie ushered in the client and tiptoed out again, closing the door. He made a careful and meaningless pencil mark and looked up with the air of one busy and harassed to distraction.
“Have a chair. I’ll be with you in one moment.”
The visitor sat down, nursing his hat tenderly. A mild, neat, innocent-eyed young man, good-looking in an apologetic sort of way, he looked like one who had been raised by three or four maiden aunts. He perched on the extreme edge of his chair, watching in mild wonderment as Oglethorpe Frisbie drew two mysterious circles, placed a careful dot in the exact centre of each and inspected them gravely. After a moment’s cogitation Mr. Frisbie put another dot above the circles and then sat back as if a vast scheme had just received its final, expert touch.
“Now, sir,” he said impressively. “What can I do for you?”
“My name is Teeter,” he offered, with an apologetic little cough. “George Teeter.”
“Very glad to know you, Mr. Teeter,” said Oglethorpe Frisbie. “Very, very glad to know you.” Thus encouraged, young Mr. Teeter became communicative.
“I’ve just been made sales manager of the canning factory.”
“Fine, Mr. Teeter. Fine,” beamed Mr. Frisbie. “Welcome to Wakeville.”
“Thank you. And seeing I’ll be living in Wakeville I’ll need a house I’d like to build a house —because well, in fact,” and here Mr. Teeter blushed rosily, “the fact is ” he took a deep breath and got it out, “I’m going to be married.”
“Ah!” said Mr. Frisbie. A bachelor himself, he was able to say warmly, “A splendid idea. Congratulations, Mr. Teeter.”
“Thank you,” said Mr. Teeter gratefully. “Her name is Gladys,” he added.
“Lovely name. You’re a lucky man, Mr. Teeter.”
“You think so?”
“Very lucky man. Lovely name, Gladys,” said Mr. Frisbie reminiscently. “I once owned a cat named Gladys.”
“Yes. Raised her from a kitten. Very fine cat, Gladys.”
“Indeed.” Mr. Teeter relaxed. A bond of friendship had been established. “You still have the cat, Mr. Frisbie?”
Mr. Frisbie shook his head sadly. “No. She fell down a well.” He looked up suddenly. “But that reminds me. Didn’t you say you plan to be married?”
“In a few months. To a Miss Gooch. Gladys Gooch.”
Mr. Frisbie winced visibly. To a girl with a name like Gladys Gooch, he reflected, marriage would indeed be a boon.
“And you wish me to build you a house?”
“If you can spare the time,” said George Teeter.
“I am rather rushed at the moment,” confessed Mr. Frisbie, yanking open a desk drawer and rummaging in the contents. “But for you, Mr. Teeter, for you-- ”
He whisked out a sheet of paper and handed it to his client.
“What do you think of that, Mr. Teeter?”
Leonardo da Vinci, giving a wealthy patron a private peek at the Mona Lisa, probably wore the same expression of modest pride as he waited, with quiet confidence, the applause his masterpiece merited.
“Golly!” whispered George Teeter, at last.
SOME ARTISTS might have found the comment inadequate, a little on the vague side, but the emotion in George’s voice made up for that. Mr. Frisbie glowed. For what he had shown George was his ewe lamb. It was a sketch of Mr. Frisbie’s Dream Bungalow, begotten of his own brain, designed with loving care. Mr. Frisbie had been nursing a wistful hope that someday someone would ask him to build it. But Mr. Frisbie had come to realize that his career as Wakeville’s only architect was blotted by one slight, careless, irremediable error of his past. He had committed the mistake of being born in Wakeville.
No one is more bitterly aware of the fact that a prophet is without honor in his own country than the creative artist who has been dopey enough to stay in his own home town. Not for him are the cheers of the multitude, the encouraging huzzas of the friends of his childhood. Mr. Frisbie had learned, with sadness, that no talent is held in lower esteem than local talent, and that a kick in the pants is held to be its just reward.
No one in Wakeville had ever asked him to build a house. He was regarded as a good man on barns; the countryside was dotted with Frisbie barns. One reckless optimist had even engaged him once to build a garage. But houses— no. In twenty years Oglethorpe Frisbie had designed dozens of tidy little homes, but they never got any farther than the drafting board. If he hadn’t had a snug little income he would have starved to death.
And here, at last, was a client, a real live client, who didn’t want a barn. A client who wanted a house. A client who seemed to think Oglethorpe Frisbie could actually build a house. A client, moreover, who was studying the sketch of Mr. Frisbie’s Dream Bungalow with respect, with enthusiasm.
“I like this,” said George Teeter, and Mr. Frisbie’s heart gave a great leap within him. “I’d like to send the plans to Gladys. She lives in Toronto but she’ll be driving over to see me one of these days--"
“Send her the plans by all means.”
“I hope she approves. It’s the sort of house a girl should like, don’t you think?”
“When I finished designing that bungalow,” said Mr. Frisbie, “I showed it to Miss Singleton-- that’s the young lady in the next office and when she saw the sketches— well, I’ll let her tell you herself.”
He called for Susie.
Even a young man engaged to a Gladys Gooch is human, and Susie, neat and trim in a green smock that did well by her coppery hair, was pretty enough to fluster young Mr. Teeter considerably when she leaned over his shoulder to admire the sketches.
“Mr. Teeter,” she said warmly, “any girl would be proud to live in a house like that. Why the first time Mr. Frisbie showed me those plans—well, I just raved about them. He’ll tell you himself. I do hope you let Mr. Frisbie build it for you.”
Susie was sincere. She had not been brought up in Wakeville. She thought Mr. Frisbie was wonderful.
“I’ll write to Gladys tonight,” said young Mr. Teeter.
When George departed, Susie said; “Oh, Mr. Frisbie, isn’t it just wonderful!”
Mr. Frisbie, a little dazed, said he thought it was pretty dashed unbelievable.
“Just to think. After all these years—”
“You’re going to build a house at last. And the house, too. I knew you’d show them someday, Mr. Frisbie. And after it’s built, everyone in Wakeville will say: ‘Why, my goodness, Mr. Frisbie can build beautiful houses.’ And everyone who wants to build a house in Wakeville from now on will just naturally want you to build it.”
“Gosh!” breathed Mr. Frisbie, blinded by this dazzling vision.
"But Mr. Frisbie—if you don’t mind,” suggested Susie, a bit timidly, “you’re so good-natured and anxious to please—I’ve often thought you’re inclined to let people push you around and talk you out of things—”
“Me? People push me around?” exclaimed the astonished Mr. Frisbie, who had been pushed around like a revolving door.
“So don’t let them talk you into making any changes. Please, Mr. Frisbie. That house is simply perfect the way it is,” said Susie, and scampered out.
THREE days later Susie popped in, excited and a little disturbed, to announce visitors.
“It’s George,” she stage whispered, “with Gladys and her mother.” And then as Oglethorpe Frisbie began galloping wildly around the office, dusting off chairs and upsetting everything that wasn’t nailed down : “Now you be firm, Mr. Frisbie. Be firm.”
Gladys and her mother brought George in.
Gladys was tall. Gladys was willowy. Gladys was blonde. Mrs. Gooch was just tall. She looked as if she had starved herself for years while seeking a suitable diet and had finally compromised on modest portions of iron filings washed down by the odd hooker of vinegar.
“And this is Mr. Frisbie!” gurgled Gladys. “Oh, Mr. Frisbie, we’re so glad to meet you. We’ve been looking at your clever, clever plans and we think the house will be just adorable. I’m mad about it. Simply mad. And so is mother.”
"They like the house,” beamed George, helpfully.
Mr. Frisbie began breathing freely again. Mrs. Gooch said :
“Of course there will have to be some changes.”
“But naturally. Mr. Frisbie would think it pretty odd if people wanted a house exactly like the plans, wouldn’t you, Mr. Frisbie?”
“Gladys and her mother have a few little suggestions,” said George with an appealing glance at Mr. Frisbie. “I thought you’d be interested in hearing them.”
“The kitchen is on the wrong side of the house, for one thing,” announced Mrs. Gooch with a good deal of finality.
“Oh, well, that’s a mere trifle,” smiled Gladys. “It. just means putting the guest room where the kitchen is now. It really won’t mean altering the plans.”
“But the kitchen should be on the east side to catch the morning sun,” ventured Mr. Frisbie faintly.
“Our kitchen at home is on the west side,” Mrs. Gooch said, cocking an eyebrow at Mr. Frisbie severely.
“I want it just like it is at home,” insisted Gladys. “But that’s easily fixed. The kitchen, I mean. The change I want most of all is a dining room. You see, Mr. Frisbie, in your plans you forgot to put in a dining room.”
Mrs. Gooch laughed metallically.
“Never heard of a house without a dining room. Did you, George?”
George said meekly that he had heard of houses without dining rooms, but in defense he stated f hat he had never actually set foot in one. It was odd that he hadn’t noticed the oversight when he first looked at the plans--
“Oh, well, we all make mistakes,” laughed Gladys tolerantly. “I daresay some people manage to get along without dining rooms—” Her tone implied that she was thinking of Hottentots or Eskimos—“but after all ...”
“But you see, the angle of the living room takes care of that,” explained Mr. Frisbie desperately. “It’s right off the kitchen, and while it isn’t actually a separate dining room--”
“Ohhh! Is that what it’s for? I wondered and wondered! How cute!”
“But it still isn’t a dining room,” insisted Mrs. Gooch.
“Oh, no. And you see, Mr. Frisbie, my grandfather is giving us a whole dining-room set for a wedding present. It’s been in the family for years and years, perfectly huge, and there simply would not be space for it in this angle of the living room.”
“Couldn’t even get pa’s sideboard in that dinky little space,” Mrs. Gooch sniffed.
“So you’ll just have to make the living room smaller and put in a dining room. Over on the west side so it’ll lead off the kitchen.”
“It won’t really make much difference,” said George, apologetically. “Will it?”
Mr. Frisbie was breathing heavily. “I see,” he murmured. He tried to summon up enough courage for a protest. And then he caught Gladys’ eye. His courage ebbed. He caught Mrs. Gooch’s eye and the faint spark of revolt was quenched utterly. “No,” he said feebly, “it won’t make much difference, I guess.”
Oglethorpe Frisbie was not a man given to profanity, but as he hunched wretchedly over his drafting board next morning and began the mutilation of his Dream Bungalow his feelings overcame him and he exclaimed vehemently, “Drat Grandpa Gooch and his dining-room set.”
Strong language of this sort emanated from Mr. Frisbie’s sanctum so rarely that Susie came running in.
She regarded the desecrated plans with horror. Mr. Frisbie explained.
“But it won’t be the same bungalow at all. Surely you’re not going to allow it.”
“Those are the only changes they want,” he murmured defensively.
“That’s what you think! It’s the thin end of the wedge, Mr. Frisbie,” said Susie darkly. “The thin end of the wedge. I know those women. I sized up the pair of them the minute they came into the office.”
“I’m afraid you misjudge them, Susie. Those are the only changes I’ll have to make. Shift the kitchen a little and put in a dining room.”
It was unfortunate that George Teeter chose that moment to amble in. So guilty and shamefaced was his manner that Susie said:
“What is it now? Move the bathroom into the living room and put the fireplace out in the garage?”
George goggled at her. He coughed unhappily.
“Just before Gladys went back to Toronto last night,” he said to Mr. Frisbie, “she asked me to speak to you about the bay window.”
“The bay window in the living room.”
“But the living room hasn’t got a bay window,” declared Susie, who took the position that if George Teeter’s house wasn’t any of her business Mr. Frisbie’s Dream Bungalow certainly was.
“That’s just the trouble,” George said. “Mrs. Gooch wants a bay window.”
Susie stared at him.
“You’re seriously asking Mr. Frisbie to ruin that adorable bungalow by putting a horrible bay window in the living room?”
“Now, now Susie,” fluttered Air. Frisbie, “I appreciate your interest, but after all—”
“Mr. Frisbie, that bungalow is just perfect the way you planned it.” Susie glared at George. “Look here, Mr. Teeter, do you honestly think a bay window will improve the looks of the place?”
“Frankly,” sighed Mr. Teeter, “I don’t.” Then he gulped and looked over his shoulder as if afraid Gladys might have tiptoed in.
“Well then!” Susie turned on the wretched Mr. Frisbie again. “The whole charm of that bungalow is in the fact that its lines are so simple, so clean and neat. lf you stick an ugly old bay window on the side it will-why—well, it’ll be a crime, that’s all. A crime!”
“I know it will be.” George mopped his perspiring brow with a handkerchief. “But—you see —Mrs. Gooch wants a bay window.”
“Then tell her to build one on her own house,” flared Susie, and swished out, her coppery hair glinting sparks in the morning sunlight.
Mr. Frisbie wriggled and looked uncomfortably at George.
“Look,” said George, “so far as I’m concerned, I detest bay windows. I don’t want you to have a poor opinion of me. A bay window will ruin the lines of that house. And any fool knows the kitchen should be on the east side. As for the dining room, we don’t need a dining room — and anyhow you ought to see that furniture Grandpa Gooch is trying to unload.”
“I can imagine it,” said Oglethorpe Frisbie sympathetically.
“No,” said George, “you can’t. But what I’m getting at is that so far as I’m concerned I like the bungalow exactly the way you planned it.”
“Ah!” Hope welled within Mr. Frisbie.
“But”—and George shrugged helplessly—“you know how it is.”
Hope died. “Yes,” agreed Mr. Frisbie, “I know how it is.” He heaved a sigh that came all the way from his shoelaces, and settled down to the drafting board again. “I’ll put in the bay window.”
ON THE way out George stopped in the insurance office, where Susie was hammering the daylights out of a typewriter.
“Miss Singleton,” he coughed. “Do you want some insurance on your house, Mr. Teeter?”
“Well—not just yet. But I want you to know how much I—I appreciate your interest in the—um -”
“Bungalow? Or have you decided to make another little alteration and turn it into a duplex?”
George rumpled his hair with embarrassment and managed a grin.
“Bungalow,” he said firmly. “And as I said, I appreciate your interest in it.”
“You aren’t being sarcastic are you, Mr. Teeter?”
“Oh no. Gosh, no!”
“Because it’s really none of my business. But I think Mr. Frisbie is a very clever architect and I happen to know how proud he was of that bungalow—”
“He has every right to he proud of it,” said George warmly.
“Then why don’t you let him build it?”
“I’m not the one who wants the changes.”
“That’s why I think it’s such a pity.” The typewriter began to rattle again. “I think you and Mr. Frisbie both need a good feed of celery.”
“They say it’s rich in iron. Don’t just nibble away at one stalk. You need lots of it. A couple of bushels.”
The typewriter clattered away like mad. George, after a few helpless glances at the coppery hair and the hack of the green smock, retired.
Two days later George sidled guiltily into Mr. Frishie’s office and announced that he had heard from Gladys again.
“Not more changes?” whispered Mr. Frisbie, appalled.
“Just on the outside this time. Gladys has decided she wants a brick bungalow.”
The Dream Bungalow, original version, called for planking, painted ; white, with dark-blue shutters. Mr. Frisbie shut his eyes and tried to picture it in brick. His brain reeled.
“Brick?” he said huskily.
“She also wants a—a sort of doohickey out in front.”
“A porch. Just a small one,” pleaded George, sweating.
“No,” whispered Mr. Frisbie. “She’s joking, isn’t she? Bad enough to move the kitchen and put in a dining room. Bad enough to ruin the lovely lines of the place by a hay window. Bad enough to build it in brick. But a doohickey, Mr. Teeter! Surely not a doohickey !”
The anguish in Mr. Frisbie’s eyes would have melted the heart of a hank manager.
“George,” said Mr. Frisbie, “I speak to you as a friend. As man to man, George, do you realize what that lovely little bungalow is going to look like with a blasted silly, cheap, foolish, idiotic little doohickey stuck on the front of it?”
“Gladys wants it,” said George gloomily. “So does her mother.”
Mr. Frisbie fought a brief, silent , battle with his artistic conscience.
“And what,” he gulped finally, “if I refuse?”
“You don’t know Gladys,” said George. “If she wants a bungalow with a doohickey she’ll have a bungalow with a doohickey. If your conscience won’t permit it”— he sighed heavily—“I’d have to get somebody else to build it.”
Mr. Frisbie resumed the inward struggle. Every instinct rebelled against desecrating his Dream Bungalow with bricks, hay windows and doohickeys. But the alternative of not being allowed to build a bungalow at all--that was worse. Was he to go through life stigmatized as the architect who never built anything but barns? Mr. Frisbie groaned and yielded.
“Can you have the final plans ready by Saturday? Gladys and her mother are driving over for the week end again.”
“You’re sure the plans are to be final?”
“Absolutely,” George assured him. “Positively final, Mr. Frisbie. You won’t be asked to make one more change.”
GEORGE slipped through the outer office with such guilty haste that Susie marched right in to ask Mr. Frisbie what had happened.
“Don’t hedge,” said Susie. “Out with it? What is it this time? Does she want a stone wall and a moat and drawbridge?”
“She wants a brick bungalow.”
“Bricks! She wants — !”
“And a doohickey.”
“A little porch out in front. A—a blasted little doohickey.”
“The woman must be mad. A gibbering lunatic. You’re not going to let her get away with it, of course.”
Oglethorpe Frisbie winced.
“But actually, my dear, I haven’t any rights in the matter--"
“You have too. That beautiful bungalow you designed doesn’t belong to them. It’s your idea. Be a man, Mr. Frisbie! Stand up to them and say; ‘Listen, girls. The kitchen goes where I want it. The dining room is out. You don’t get any bay window, I won’t build a brick bungalow for ten dollars a brick and any doohickeys will go up over my dead body!’ Be a man!”
Mr. Frisbie slapped the desk.
“By George, Susie!” he exclaimed. “The very next change they want me to make in that bungalow I’ll tell ’em I won’t do it.”
“The next change? But how about the changes they’ve already made? The bay window—the doohickey?”
Mr. Frisbie sighed miserably. “I’m afraid it’s too late to do anything about that now.”
Susie looked at him. “You and George Teeter—both of you—are a pair of miserable rabbits!” she flared. And this time, when she went out, the door closed with a very definite slam.
For the next few days Mr. Frisbie occupied himself with the thankless task of trying to design a small porch that would look like an integral part of the Dream Bungalow somehow, but finally, in despair, he resigned himself to the conclusion that it couldn’t be done. The thing persisted in looking like a doohickey. He lost sleep. He lost his appetite.
Saturday came, and with it the Gooch ladies, a docile George in tow.
“Mr. Frisbie, if you aren’t the nicest man!” cooed Gladys straightway. “George has been telling me how accommodating you’ve been about the little changes we’ve asked in the bungalow. Haven’t you, George?”
George, with an apprehensive glance at Susie, who had managed to remain within earshot just outside the open door, gurgled something unintelligible.
“I still think you’re foolish to build a bungalow. It should be a two-story house,” observed Mrs. Gooch.
George coughed. “I still think, dear, that the bungalow would look better without the porch.”
“Nonsense!” said Mrs. Gooch. Gladys merely bestowed a glance of fond amusement on George and said; “You’ll change your mind when it’s built, darling.” Then she turned to Mr. Frisbie. “And now, Mr. Frisbie, there’s just one more thing I want you to do for me.”
Oglethorpe Frisbie prayed silently for strength.
“And what might that be, Miss Gooch?”
“The porch seems awfully plain. I want a lot of those little doodads on it.”
Mr. Frisbie stared at her in horror.
“Doodads?” he whispered faintly.
“Yes. You know. Woodwork under the eaves. Scrollwork. Our verandah at home is covered with it.”
If there was one thing Mr. Frisbie detested it was the ornamentation and gingerbread it was the custom to lavish so freely on homes in the Horse-and-Buggy Age. There were streets in Wakeville which he religiously avoided to spare himself the necessity of gazing on some of these abominations.
“Doodads?” he gasped. “Doodads on the doohickey?”
“Why, Mr. Frisbie,” giggled Gladys. “You’d think I was suggesting something terrible! Don’t you think it needs doodads? Don’t you think they’ll look cute?”
AND at that moment Oglethorpe Frisbie regained his soul. Perhaps he had a glimpse of Susie in the outer office. Perhaps he recalled her stinging enquiry as to the existence of his spine. Perhaps it was merely that the very thought of a doohickey ornamented with doodads drove him to a mild insanity. But he heard himself saying huskily:
“Over my dead body you’ll get doodads on your doohickey!”
There fell a deep, dead, shocked, incredulous hush. It was broken by an astonished squeak from Gladys Gooch.
“But Mr. Frisbie!”
And Mrs. Gooch barked: “Well, I never!” She amended it when she had taken another breath. “I never did! Never in all my life!”
“But Mr. Frisbie!” exclaimed Gladys in a voice like the snapping of icicles. “Do you mean to tell me you refuse—”
“I refuse to put doodads on a doohickey!” declared Mr. Frisbie. And the sound of his own voice uttering this reckless defiance filled him with such a glow of well-being that he banged the desk with his fist. “I don’t like doodads. I detest them. And what’s more I hate doohickeys. I was a weak, spineless worm to let myself be talked into a doohickey in the first place.”
Mr. Frisbie’s voice rose. So did Mr. Frisbie. He leaned halfway across the desk, wagging a finger at the open-mouthed females. “I take it all back. I won’t be any party to this doohickey business. Especially a doohickey with doodads on it.” Having got this far without being struck down by lightning Mr. Frisbie took a deep breath and went the whole hog. “What’s more,” he whooped, “that bungalow won’t be built of brick either. It’s clapboard, or else. And there’ll be no bay window. Or a dining room. And the kitchen the kitchen, by golly, will be on the east side where it belongs. So there!”
Having thus spoken, Mr. Frisbie sat down and slapped the desk smartly with his palm. He liked the feel of it so well that he did it again, more emphatically. A couple of loose pen nibs skipped nimbly out of range.
“In all my life,” proclaimed Mrs. Gooch, “I never did!”
Gladys looked at George.
“Well George,” she said, “are you going to sit there and listen to us being insulted? Aren’t you going to do something about it?”
Courage is contagious. George said calmly, “I think Mr. Frisbie is perfectly right.”
The effect might have been more impressive if he hadn’t spoken with his eyes tightly shut and if he hadn’t been trembling violently in every joint.
“George!” thundered Mrs. Gooch.
“Why, George!’’squawked Gladys.
George, having taken the plunge, was at one with Mr. Frisbie in finding the water to his liking.
“That bungalow was all right in the first place. It was a swell bungalow. And if I’ve got to pay for it and live in it by gosh, that’s the sort of bungalow I want.” George gulped. “And I not only don’t want a doohickey on it, but I don’t want any doodads on that doohickey!”
“Now you look here, George Teeter ” began Mrs. Gooch, but Gladys silenced her with a look. Gladys had the air of a girl who realized the time to check rebellion is in the bud.
“Do I understand you to mean, George, that you are siding with Mr. Frisbie against me? That I can’t have the kitchen where I want it, that I can’t have a dining room, that I can’t—”
“No!” bawled George, “you can’t. You’ll take the bungalow I want or none at all. I’ve listened to you and your mother long enough. I’ve been engaged to you five years, Gladys Gooch, and in five years I haven’t been allowed to have any more opinions than a snail. And I’m sick of it. You think I haven’t any backbone. You think I haven’t any iron in me. Well, I have got a backbone. And I have got iron. Lots of it. So there!”
Gladys blew up.
“If you’re going to marry me, George Teeter, you’re going to live in the sort of house I want!” she yelped.
“If you’re going to marry me.” roared George, “you’re going to live in the house Mr. Frisbie designed for me.”
“Don’t you dare yell at me like that!”
“Gladys!” cautioned Mrs. Gooch.
“I’ll yell at you any way I like.”
“You apologize this instant, George Teeter, or I’ll—”
“I won’t apologize for anything.”
“Yell at me once more, George Teeter, and I’ll break our engagement. I won’t marry you. I’ll give you back your ring.”
“Can I rely on that?” whooped George.
“You certainly can. If you don’t talk to me in a civil tone of voice--”
“Boo!” And George let out a roar that rattled the windows.
That did it. The ring missed George’s head by a foot and a half, bounced off the wall and rolled under Mr. Frisbie’s desk.
I’M PROUD of you both,” said Susie, after Gladys and her mother had stormed out.
“I’m rather proud of myself,” said Mr. Frisbie.
“Me too,” said George. He added reflectively: “Do you know, I’m darned if I know what I ever saw in Gladys anyway. I feel as if I’d just escaped from the penitentiary.”
Mr. Frisbie sighed.
“I did look forward to building that bungalow.”
“Oh, well,” Susie consoled him. “Maybe someone will come along someday.”
“Sure,” said George. “You never can tell. Come on, Susie, let’s go down to the drugstore and have a soda.”
“I have to mind the office.”
George regarded her sternly.
“I said let’s go down to the drugstore and have a soda.”
“All right, George,” said Susie, meekly.
At the door, George looked back.
“About those plans, Mr. Frisbie. The ones with the doohickey. Burn ’em.”
“I intend to,” said Oglethorpe Frisbie.
“But the first ones—the ones Susie liked—keep them handy, will you? I’ve got an idea we can still talk business.”