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Bacon - Comrades in Arms

THE SATURDAY EVENING POST 7 d Than His Face Canto Close to Hers Again and Slat Saw Nothing this, it didn't require an artist to realize it, you see. Elizabeth had always been dressed by her mother, who had never been able to resist managing everything and everybody round her, and she had never observed that what had suited her in her youth didn't suit her daughter to-day. If she had seen this daughter on her bench in Gramercy Park it would have dawned on her that she should have been sent to fancy-dress balls as Priscilla, the Puritan maiden, and not as a Persian princess. The prim little white collar, like a clergyman's, the clean blue and white of the uniform—above all, the flat little English bonnet, which was nothing but a smooth bow spread over her smooth hair, framing her smooth forehead—all made her type jump out to you. The girl was charming. Her hair came down in a sharp widow's peak straight between her level brows; her eyes looked large and interesting. As an efficient New York beauty one wouldn't have considered her, of course, but as a nurse in a park she was strongly arresting. She showed every inch of her breeding, every ounce of her education, every minute of the repressions of civilization that had fixed her type and personality. I tell you, she looked like the nurses Mr. Gibson and Mr. Christy draw on magazine covers; and you know as well as I do that men cut these out and frame them. Anyone would have turned to look at her. It is very ironic that Mrs. Griswold could not know this, isn't it? At half past twelve they all went in to luncheon, and Elizabeth ate a chop and a baked potato and a large helping of string beans and two pieces of raisin bread, besides a dish of rice pudding with currant jelly and meringue on the top. While they took an hour's nap she lay on a comfortable sofa and read a silly story in a magazine. There seemed to be no books of any particular cultural value about, and the doctor had to have plenty of magazines for his patients, for it is well known that you cannot be a doctor without magazines. There was no tension in the house—nothing to live up to; that had all been transferred to headquarters. Elizabeth, though she did not know it, relaxed for very nearly the first time in her life. For culture, you understand, is quite as wearing as wage-earning If you go at it as seriously. By quarter of three they were in the jolly, fenced-in little park again, and other children were playing with them. Barbara was a mermaid this time, and Miss Gizzle, as they called her, a shipwrecked mariner. Later she played a harp on her bench, while Barbara wallowed in the surf at her feet, to the great amusement of the young policeman who tramped round the park. Dagmar called for them at five, and Elizabeth, her cheek moist from three sincere kisses, walked up Lexington Avenue to her studio, now a really useful room, changed her dress with all the thrill of a heroine in a melodrama, and hurried home. "That's a pretty frock, dear," said Mr. Griswold at dinner; "pink becomes you." "I've worn it every night this week, papa," she said, surprised. The Doctor examined the dress attentively, but he was not given to personalities. The first day of the next week a slight accident occurred: Dagmar lost her park key. As you probably know, only the favored inhabitants of the borders of this park may enter it, and they have, each family, a.key. Dagmar, much flustered, because she had heavy telephone duty that day, could offer no better suggestion than that someone should consult the policeman, who might know what to do; there was not a soul inside the iron fence, for it threatened rain, and they were very early. "Very well," said Elizabeth, and with her charges hanging to her skirts she went to meet the uniform that meant knowledge and protection. "Have you a key to the park, officer?" she asked as he hastened his step a little to join her. She did not notice the quick interest in his eyes; she was not in the habit of noticing policemen's eyes. Are you? She did not know, naturally, that her method of addressing this representative of the law was not at all the method of nursemaids in general. To her he was a servant of the city, paid to direct her to places she didn't know, to clear the streets for her to cross, to keep from her eyes and ears things objectionable. To him, as he looked down from his young tallness at the widow's peak on her smooth forehead and listened to her clear, low voice, each word so perfectly cut from the others, she was simply the loveliest thing he had ever seen or heard. "A key—into the park?" he repeated vaguely. "Yes, yes—surely you or somebody must have one. We belong here," she added hastily, "only our key is lost." "Oh, I've seen you here," he said; "that's all right. But—I don't know —" He blushed violently through his freckled face up to his curly, sandy hair. He was fearfully embarrassed. Elizabeth, of course, could not know, but this was the first time he had ever been asked for the key, and he simply couldn't remember, for the life of him, whether he ought to have one or not! He was clearly very much upset and she felt amused and sorry for him at the same time. Barbara pranced eagerly at her side. "Let's get in the first, Gizzle, the very first," she begged. "Look here," he said abruptly; "I might just as well tell you as let you find out—I'm not very strong on this key business. I'm new here, you see, and if they told me about it I must have forgotten. Excuse me—I'll look in my book." She waited, smiling, disarmed by this frankness, while he drew a little book out of his pocket and consulted it. "It gets me," he admitted at length; "I'll have to call up and find out. I'm sorry —" "Oh, it doesn't matter," she said; "some of the nurses will soon come along and they can let us in. It was our fault, really." "But I'm supposed to help you out," he insisted ruefully. "It doesn't look as if I was much good, does it?" He was quite young and so shy, evidently, that Elizabeth couldn't resist laughing. Barbara laughed with her, and in a moment he was laughing too; and they all laughed together. "You're good-natured, anyway," he said. For a moment she stiffened and stared slightly, then, . with a sudden recollection, began to laugh again. Why shouldn't a policeman be friendly with a nurse? This was part of the game. "Oh, well, why not be?" she answered; "it's a lovely morning !" "You're right, it is!" But he was looking at her and not at the morning; and she knew it. Her spirits mounted; this was the nearest to an adventure that she had ever been in all her life. What would he have thought if he knew? Dagmar was waving furiously; encumbered with Kenneth, she could neither leave him nor fly to the house. "The other nurse wants to tell you something, doesn't she?" he asked. "Shall I go and see?" " Oh, no, I'll go—just stay here with the children!" she cried, and flew across to the beckoning figure. Suppose Dagmar should call her Miss Griswold. That , would spoil it all. Dagmar had just remembered; the key was on the umbrella stand. Seizing the go-cart, Elizabeth piloted it half way across the street, but only half way, because the young officer ran to her aid. "Let me take it," he said, and pushed it carefully over. They stood by the gate, waiting. "They're nice kiddies, aren't they?" he muttered, still shy, but unwilling to yield to his shyness and go. "I like 'em that age." "Yes; they're very nice," she replied, amused. "I've noticed you before," he volunteered; "you seemed kind to them. Some of the nurses—well, you can't help wondering if the mothers know, that's all." " I know," she agreed gravely. " Why don't they take care of them themselves, anyway?" he blurted out, still staring at her. Of course he couldn't have known that she knew he was staring, she reasoned, so she looked the other way (Continued on Pate 78)


Bacon - Comrades in Arms
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