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1918_08_17--005_SP [The Vulgar Dollar]

THE SATURDAY EVENING POST 7 "Well, Penny, you old copper," said Mrs. Esmeralda, "I've just been kissed for her in the corridor !" " Kissed !" I exclaimed in all due horror, a sort of sickening feeling coming upon me at the thought. " Will you kindly explain?" " Well," said Esmeralda, "I've just been in the kitchen getting Gaston, your chef, to fix me up a little snack to ward off starvation till the luncheon company all get here, and as I was crossing the dark hall that Mr. Wynnet St. Johns grabbed me and kissed me. And here I am alive, having had the sense to hold on to my food during the battle. Don't you tell on him—but never, never again think even to yourself that I am not just as stylish as the rest of you folks! Aunt Sally's taste in clothes gets across even in the dark." And then that awful young woman was off with a laugh, running up the front stairs and finishing her crude morsel of food quite openly. But that was only the beginning. Before I could recover my breath Wynnet himself came into the room almost, as I may say, at a run, which he, however, quickly controlled as soon as he caught sight of me, and spoke most composedly, he being preeminently one of ourselves and seldom if ever showing emotion. He simply shot his cuffs and addressed me in a voice that lacked nothing in composure except a little, as I may put it, wind. "Did Mrs. Langdon pass this way?" was the amazing question which he put to me. "She did not," I said. "I believe she has not as yet arrived, though she will be here for luncheon." "Oh — ah !" said he. " I — I — rather thought I saw her." Then he lit a cigarette, and as he did not offer me one, but stalking out through one of the French windows left me to my own devices, I continued my progress toward my own rooms without further interruption. On the way upstairs I could not but smile at the curiously piquant flavor which is somehow attached to many of the doings of dear Mrs. DeWynt's set. Here was Wynnet, just married to Marjorie DeWynt, and Mrs. Langdon, our distinguished divorcee, an old flame of his, and—well of course if it had occurred in any other set it might have appeared a trifle improper. As it was, of course, the situation could merely be called, as I have said, piquant, and I was rather pleased with my astuteness in ascertaining it. Almost it made up for my lack of opportunity for rest, because we were forced to have luncheon earlier—at barely half after one as a matter of fact, because the senator motored down ahead of time, bringing Mr. Willy, of the President's Purchasing Board. Now it is far from my mind to make any critical comment about the husband of my dear patroness; nevertheless, though he is of course the most powerful Republican senator we have and a man of enormous distinction and importance, I greatly fear that his very early life, which was spent in some obscure occupation in the Far West—an affair I believe which had some connection with the construction of transcontinental railroads—has left its mark upon him in certain ways. Of course he is always beautifully tailored, and is so silent when at home that his manner is nearly perfect. But he appears—with all his opportunity, with all the, as I may say, arduous labors of my dear patroness and the unlimited effort that she has made to spend his enormous wealth to the most advantageous ends—he appears, I repeat, to have utterly failed to develop any interest in or enjoyment of our many splendid functions, and can only be persuaded to attend an occasional one after what, from a person of less importance than Mrs. DeWynt, might honestly be termed a severe urging. It appears that such an inducement had been put upon him just prior to the occasion of our bridge drive for the benefit of the Red Cross. Dear Mrs. DeWynt, being a woman of infinite mind and foresight, of course realized what a splendid asset the senator's presence would be at such an affair. And his own plans for a little golf coinciding with her arrangements, he had consented to appear, though curiously enough he does not play bridge and merely gave his word to be on hand for a few moments during the afternoon. Well, the senator's arrival a little early with the demand that luncheon be hurried in order that he and Mr. Willy might play a is This Blow. old Cash?" round of their golf before fulfilling their promise put us all in a great flurry. But fortunately the few guests we expected were already in the house, my dear patroness following the good old Long Island colony custom of having people wandering about the place at all times. I went into luncheon with the family, as is always my custom on these informal occasions. There were only Marjorie and St. Johns, Captain Tugwell, Esmeralda and Mrs. Langdon, besides the senator, Mr. Willy and my dear patroness. The senator was this day unusually taciturn, and at intervals cast a gloomy speculative eye upon the festive arrangements beyond the windows. But though this silence might easily have cast a damper upon the affair, dear Mrs. DeWynt was so much on the alert owing to the part she was to play during the afternoon that she positively kept us all going. Yet despite her cheeriness something was wrong with the atmosphere—even before the senator's un- fortunate remark. Mrs. St. Johns for some reason had a concealed but discernible uneasiness about her, if you know what I mean; and St. Johns did not seem to have wholly recovered from the dazed condition in which he had left me a short while before, and which had palpably increased since Mrs. Langdon's arrival in her roadster, from which I had seen him help her to descend. Altogether things were not quite happy when the senator spoke. Taki and Whaki, Mrs. DeWynt's prize Pekingese dogs, were disporting themselves about the room in the free manner which was always allowed them, and it was apropos of them that the senator spoke. " Where is your dog, Essie?" said the senator to Esmeralda. "I never see him in the dining room; and he is a regular dog!" Mrs. Esmeralda's face took on a worried expression— one of the few occasions upon which I have seen her give any such appearance. "I don't know where Jeff is, uncle," said she. "He got away from me this morning going after some birds, and I can't find him. But I guess he'll find me before long!" Now it sometimes occurs that a word uttered lightly and even thoughtlessly may prove a prophecy, if you know what I mean. And in this instance I regret to state it proved so. This was a fatal day for all of us, and if it were not for the necessity of making a complete vindication of my dear patroness I would omit what followed. Bit were I to omit it some malicious person might at some future period disclose the event in all its horror, and the- rest of this record be accused of worthlessness by reason of the omission. Mrs. Esmeralda had scarcely mentioned her supposition that her animal would find her when her words were fulfilled. How the creature managed to elude both the second footman and Hoskins I cannot imagine, but he entered the room silently, and our attention was first called to him by a curious snapping sound. It came during a momentary lull in the conversation, and as a consequence we all looked in the direction from which it came. And there in full view of the entire assemblage lay Jeff, his front paws upon an object the nature of which was not at first discernible, and at a portion of which he was gently pulling with his teeth. He would grasp the 'flexible surface and pull back his head and then open his jaws; whereupon the thing would snap back into place with a sound that was evidently pleasing to the brute. It was a long moment before any of us understood, and had not the senator unexpectedly roared with laughter the terrible scene that ensued might conceivably have been avoided, at least in its worst aspects. But the senator's laugh did the damage irrevocably. The sound startled that Jeff-dog, who sprang to his feet, still holding firmly to his prize. And then we all saw. It was distinctly and undeniably a rubber corset! Mercifully the picture lasted but a moment, for Jeff, still frightened and possibly fearful of the loss of that—that unmentionable object, flew — I can use no other term—flew out through the window—and Mrs. Esmeralda after him! Now this last was of course the very worst thing that could have happened, for, dear Mrs. DeWynt being undeniably stout and avowedly reducing, there was but one logical ownership for the wretched thing. And had Esmeralda but remained seated we might not have seen it again—or heard of it. But no! Off she rushed after that impossible beast of hers, calling "Jeff Here, Jeff! Bring that here this instant, sir!" My poor dear patroness lay back in an almost fainting condition, the while the senator laughed and laughed with actual tears of mirth running down (Continued on Page 89) ”Say, Penny, How Much Out Going to Cost in C And There in Fall View of the Entire Assemblage Lay Jeff, Efts Front Paws Upon an Object the Nature of Which Was Not at First Discernible


1918_08_17--005_SP [The Vulgar Dollar]
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