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Bacon - Comrades in Arms

THE SATURDAY EVENING POST 5 HO By Qlloocepllanme ZEO.a0.11fal 2000.0 ILLUSTRATED BY N. R. THIS is the story of a spoiled girl who hadn't the least idea that her parents had spoiled her. Nor, for that matter, had her parents any such idea—far from it. They would have told you that the amounts of money, time and worry they had spent on the child were beyond belief. She had been brought up—for some inscrutable reason known only to her sort of parents—to speak French before she could speak English; she played the piano rather well, the violin rather badly; she danced beautifully. German she began at twelve, Italian at sixteen, when they took her to Florence; at one time she joined a Spanish class, but shifted to barefoot dancing later, and after that to hand-wrought jewelry. "Miss Griswold," her dancing teacher said of her, "is a great puzzle to me. She ought to be so much more of a success than she is. She really dances extremely well, but somehow she never looks the part!" And that was true; when you watched Elizabeth swaying through a Spanish dance you decided that her regular features were really rather cold and classical; but when she lifted her left foot, in that attitude of one who has unwarily stepped on a toad, so common to the Greek friezes, and paused, listening, you realized that her eyes were too brown—or something. When her hair fell loose, it was too straight; when, on the other hand, it had just been waved by the trusty Marcel method, it looked too artificial. Was it self-consciousness—too much New England blood with not enough New England convictions? Her mother never knew. She had been born in New York and, except for the Maine coast and Florida, knew little else of her country till her twenty-fourth year, when their family physician in despair had suggested the air of the Rockies; and Elizabeth, conscientiously attired in riding breeches and sombrero— she would have worn "chaps" if necessary—rode a vulgar little cow-punching bronco across the plains for six weeks. It seemed to do her good, they thought; but still she was listless, and though perfectly willing to go back to the ranch, if they liked, she was equally willing to stay in New York and take up something else. She had been out in society for five seasons, and no man or boy had proposed marriage to her. Now, why was this? She was not in the least bad-looking; distinguished, rather, in a regular New Englandish way, with a clear profile, clever, thoughtful eyes and a sufficiently mobile mouth. She was pale, it is true, but are not most American girls rather pale than otherwise? She was a little too thin per- haps, but these are thin years, and many a luscious little fat . girl envied Elizabeth her hipless, slim- ankled silhouette. She had been supereducated possibly; but on the other hand she had been sedulously taught to conceal this, and could talk as many banalities to the minute as any of her friends. She sat behind her mother's tea urn, charmingly dressed, and listened as interestedly as possible to the account of your surgical operation, your Pekingese or your baby—giving you, meantime, just the dash of cream or slice of lemon you had asked for. She wasn't prickly or catty or piggish about men or rude to her elders; nor was she a prig. And yet—and yet — As a matter of fact, I believe her to have been the chief sorrow of her mother's life. Mr. Griswold would have been surprised indeed to hear me say so, for he had paid for all the subjects Elizabeth took up, and was very proud of her. Sometimes he may have wondered just why she should have to take up so many, and BALLINGER what she found to enjoy in them; but he paid for them, just as he had paid for her expensive coming- out party and her riding boots and her teeth-straightening and her lectures on gardens and wild birds. He didn't even complain when Mrs. Griswold decided that Elizabeth ought to have a studio. "B-but can she paint?" he called, round-eyed, through his dressing-room door, struggling with his third white tie. "Of course not, Ben; she doesn't pretend to." "Going to learn?" "Oh, no—it's not that, exactly, dear. A good many of the girls have them now, and I thought it might make her feel freer, perhaps less tied down." "If Beth had been born an orphan she might have amounted to something," one of her friends once grumbled. But she was not an orphan; she was hopelessly a daughter. "It's the darnedest thing about Beth Griswold," I heard one of the girls of her year murmuring one day when we were both sitting on a float fifty yards from the pier, with our feet hanging comfortably in the water. "Huh?" the other girl inquired elegantly, stuffing sodamint tablets—for which she had a passion—into her moist little red mouth. Neither noticed me, for I was over thirty. "It sure is," pursued the first thoughtfully, wriggling her toes in intricate patterns. "She's a peach of a swimmer, but nobody cares a whoop somehow." "Oh, yes, she can swim all right, all right—but she doesn't get 'em, does she?" agreed the second, through an ecstatic mouthful of soda mints. "No pep " concluded the first succinctly. " Dead man's float — let's? " And they fell off the rocking platform simultaneously, assuming ghastly attitudes. They were high-stand graduates from one of our leading educational institutions for young ladies, and I supposed them to be recuperating their minds from the strain of a too strictly censored vocabulary, and gathered that they deplored in their friend a degree of personal magnetism and vitality incommensurate with her undoubted aquatic accomplishments. That was the August of 1914, and all over the astonishing little country of Belgium blood was running. Mr. Griswold was worried, and passed, as the months rolled by, from worry to horror, and from horror to alarm. At last he began to write letters to the Times, and read them to men at the club. Mrs. Griswold promptly became enmeshed in a web of committees—when she wasn't serving on one she was forming another, and rarely lunched at home. Cortwright Griswold, their only son, hammered furiously at his parents for permission to drive an ambulance in France; Katy, Mrs. Griswold's maid, who had buttoned and hooked Elizabeth since the day when she blossomed from safety pins into buttons and hooks, drew out all her savings and began sending them to Ireland; Georges, the chauffeur, got his papers suddenly and departed to join his regiment somewhere in the Valley of the Marne. More months rolled by, and shoes became sickeningly costly; and suddenly even satin slippers, which they couldn't very well be wearing in the trenches, one would suppose, took on a value that forced one to consider one's allowance rather carefully. " Disgusting ! Simply disgusting !" said Mr. Griswold irritably. "I can tell you, my dear, the day for pearl-gray satin slippers at seventeen dollars a pair is rapidly passing!" "I know, Ben; I know," Mrs. Griswold replied pacifically; " it's dreadful. But what is the child to wear? She can't very well dance in tan boots. And all these dances are for hospitals or Belgian babies or things like that." Mr. Griswold explained, briefly but plainly, his feeling for such dances. "I know, Ben, but people won't give money without something like that. That orphan-baby dance last week made thirteen hundred dollars." "Oh, well —" And more months rolled by. Suddenly Cortvaight was at Plattsburgh, and Mrs. Griswold was delighted, and her husband grew silent and absorbed, and stayed longer at the office. Everybody began to stand up jerkily when The Star-Spangled Banner asked them, Oh, say, could they see, at restaurants and theaters. And quite the nicest people went to the movies to follow the war films. Elizabeth got very tired of watching the Czar climb down the trenches. Indeed, she found herself very tired, somehow, just as all her friends were growing so busy and so busy and so busy. She took the Red Cross nursing course, naturally, and one in first aid, but the Red Cross teacher, a brisk, flat-chested woman with a strong Western accent, advised her very frankly against going into any but the most elemental mysteries of her fashionable science. "You see, my dear Miss Griswold, it's so much a matter of pursonal'ty," she said, "nursing is; and reelly, I must say I don't think you've got the right pursonal'ty for it— if you get my idear." The class in first aid was even more unfortunate. It went on in the parish house of a fashionable church, and a nice old family doctor, who had brought many of the young ladies into the world, gave them the lectures. Somebody was to provide a choir boy to be bandaged, but he was an elusive choir boy and missed most of the mornings, and a few of the cleverest girls got all the practice in resuscitation and splints by using the obliging members of the class as victims. Afterward a very severe young surgeon with a pronounced German accent burst in unexpectedly and examined them—two questions apiece. He wore his stiff black hair en brosse, which is always so disconcerting, and whatever he asked you, the answer turned out to have been "cracked ice"; which the nice old doctor had hardly mentioned. Elizabeth's questions were convulsions in infants and sudden bleeding from the stomach; in the first case she forgot the cracked ice, and in the second she failed to see "Oh! Oh. Bent There He Is I I See Him!" • Got It!** Se Cr led Boyishly. Th • Cap. Forgot to GI ye it to M•"


Bacon - Comrades in Arms
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