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"The tike," she said, "sticking his head it was, “Go slow with women," and Billy and shoulders up out of his steaming bath read the paternal admonition gravely for just to get a couple o' duns and a letter perhaps the first time in his life. He was from his father! And that other-him” — not whistling when he took his seat at the shenodded contemptuously toward the left- table a few minutes later. To Kennedy, hand suite, the most luxurious portion of who never whistled after the period of his the apartment - "he won't be after reading morning ablutions, this did not appear as one o' them billydoos I 've stacked up by extraordinary as it actually was. his plate until ivery hair is in place, and "Good morning, Billy," he said affably he 's ate out a section o' grape-fruit. And - he was always affable-as that person he calls himself a man”-she turned the pulled at his chair with something very Aame a bit higher under the oatmeal, and like a scowl when it caught in the rug; but measured a gill of cold water to settle the he answered with his usual cheerfulness: coffee with— "and wears pants !” she con- “Good morning, old horse. Feeling cluded explosively.
fit?" Meantime the subjects of her criticism, "Surest thing you know." each in his separate way, were getting " "Staff all well?" Billy indicated the ready for breakfast. Billy had crumpled letters. the two damp duns in his big fist, and "I have n't opened them yet.” thrown them on his dressing-table. He Mrs. Gregory, entering with the eggs, was reading his father's letter as he cast her eyes supplicatingly toward heaven brushed his hair.
at this. James Kennedy was shaving in a way "A bit of a hang-over, Mrs. G.?” Billy that would have made Billy writhe in inquired sympathetically. “Let me advise mingled admiration and contempt if he black coffee and bromo-seltzer for that, had been a witness of the operation. It after a pick-me-up of some kind, of never Kennedy who delayed the
course." prompt service of breakfast at half-past “Get away with you!" eight. Punctuality was one of his pas- "Will you go out to the Evans's tosions. It was not even an attribute of
any night?" Kennedy asked. “It'll be hot, of the other men in the establishment. and we can all pile into the machine and "Kid" Kennedy, his younger brother, and go somewhere. Out to Egglestone's, perBrander Kellogg, the fourth of the quartet haps, for coffee and sandwiches later." of good-looking young bachelors under “Thank you, I don't think I 'll go toMrs. Gregory's charge, were obliged to be night,” Billy said. at their respective offices at eight, and they "You won't? I thought you told were already up and out of the house Evelyn you would.” before that efficient guardian so much as "I did n't say for sure." tapped upon the doors of the later risers. "She expects you.'
By making the supreme effort of his ex- "I'll 'phone." istence anew every morning, Billy was "Brander 'll be going. Guess we'd able to respond to Mrs. Gregory's sum- better take the kid along. He 's doing mons and approximate the breakfast-hour; too many movies lately." that is, he pulled out his chair ten minutes “Too many movies? At his age he later than the appointed time with almost could n't be." clock-like regularity.
I mean. Billy's father always added one line of notice how he's been blinking?" good advice as a postscript to his letters. Kennedy was beginning on his letters. Sometimes it was, “Wear off your extra He opened them with his bread-and-butter fat if you 've got an ounce of it”; some- knife. times it was, “Don't make any investment "Sorry I have n't a hair-pin to loan without asking your dad first.” To-day you," Billy murmured, dodging the an
Don't you swering missile, an egg-shell. "Look here, who, he had discovered some months bethat was all eggy!”
fore, always watched them out of her "Strange!" Kennedy said, "when it is sight. never had anything but an egg in it. Din- He did n't go to the Evans's that night ner at the Wilsons' next Thursday, must or for many nights after; and the reason put that down. Dance on Friday; can't was that the last time he had been there, go; hooked up to the boss's daughter. alone with Evelyn in the garden, on a Cards to a tea-party. Can't go to tea- misty, humid evening, he had taken her parties. The rest are all letters.”
little white-garbed figure in his arms and “I don't know how you do it," Billy kissed her and kissed her. He had not an complained— "write to 'em. I can't. idea he was going to do it, and when he What in the name of Goshen do you say?" was through with it, and tried to make
"Oh, I don't know. Anything interests some kind of an apology for the monstrous them--business, theaters, last time you thing he had done, little Evelyn Evans saw them, then one or two local touches. had put her two confiding arms about his You know what they expect."
neck and called him by his name, over and "Yes, I know what they expect,” Billy over again, in a queer, throaty little voice said unexpectedly; "but tell me, Jimmie, that he could n't get out of his memory. for future reference, and because I know He was not in love with Evelyn. They a feller that would like to know a friend
were too young to think of being married. of mine." He winked solemnly. "How He was twenty-five, to be sure, and she much of what they expect have we got a was four years younger, but that was too right to give 'em?"
young nowadays. The reason he had "You mean if we have n't arrived at kissed her was that she expected to be that stage where we propose to give 'em kissed. That could n't have been plainer what they want.'
to any man who knew anything about it; “Well, dang it all! none of us wants to she expected it, and wanted it. She had get married yet awhile."
been waiting for him to do it, and he had “No," Kennedy said, "we don't. If done it. Of course he had kissed a good they do, in a way, that 's their lookout. many other girls in his time, but that was As long as we remember we are gent- different; all good-looking and healthy
"Don't say it, Jimmie! Don't say it!" young people did a certain amount of Billy begged him. "If that word is still spooning, but this was n't spooning exin the language, I don't want to know it." actly; it was love-making; it was pretty
"It 's a good word,” Kennedy insisted close to being engaged to a girl. In fact, stoutly. It was often a little difficult for it was the way you got engaged to them. him to understand the strange places in the Billy thought if he stayed away for a conversation at which the others drew the while, if he went back again in a week or line. Sometimes in the midst of a serious two very coolly and casually, that Evelyn conversation to which he had contributed would know without any talking or withno confidences a degree warmer than those out getting her feelings really hurt. If of the other men, and he was unquestion- you discussed a thing like that with a girl, ably the lady's man among them, when he he knew you were likely to get "in was talking quite gravely of his experi- Dutch.” He had decided not to discuss it. ences, he would either get “the laugh” at All that day at the office his father's some inexplicable moment, or be shut up postscript kept recurring to him- "Go good-naturedly. It seemed strange to him slow with women.” He wondered exthat the others should n't have more re- actly what his father considered going spect for his dignity.
slow. He knew his father for the most "Boob!" said Billy to his back as they honorable and upright of men, and yet he separated at the street corner. Then he knew a great deal about women; even his turned to wave good-by to Mrs. Gregory, mother admitted that. How had he come
by his knowledge, Billy wondered, if that gently, but firmly, cut off his wind; but he had been his slogan, “Go slow with wo- freed himself-“the Wars of the Roses, men”? How could you go slow with Mrs. G.?" he concluded suavely as he them when they were willing to go so rose and shook himself. fast? For the first time in his healthy Whereupon, with Billy at the piano, he young life he began wondering about other instructed Mrs. Gregory, though not a men's relations with women-with nice step she took was any fault of her own, in
He knew pretty well how things the intricacies of the Lame Duck. with the
n't "The mountain is coming to Moham"straight." All that was
a matter of med, Billy," Kennedy announced the next taste; to him personally it was disgusting. morning as he opened his mail. “Evelyn You could marry only one woman,-one is coming to see you this evening, if you 're woman at once, anyway, he thought, grin- well enough to sit up and take notice. I ning to himself, - but how the deuce was told the girls any night this week, and it that you got your experience of a whole Edith said she did n't think you and world of women, even enough experience Evelyn were on speaking terms; but if to pick and choose among them, without she could work it, they'd come to-night. trying them out more or less ? What was By this brief communication”—he indithe happy medium? How could you find cated the half-dozen closely written pages out?
in his hand _“I learn she has worked it." “Brander,” he asked that evening, when "Fine!” said Billy. “Fine!” He was in the comfortable litter of their sitting- not sorry.
He wanted to see Evelyn room they smoked their companionable again. He had missed her more than he pipes together, “what do you know about was willing to admit. If she was coming girls?"
to see him, she had forgiven him. The The Kennedys were out together, James incident was closed. Billy was twentyhaving, as Brander put it, "grafted a meal- five, and he actually believed this. ticket in finger-bowl row for the kid," and "What 'll we have, ginger-ale, cheese —” borrowed Billy's evening clothes for him. “It 's too hot,” said Billy, “sandwiches
“Girls?” Brander was only mildly in- and cake and ice-cream-cool things." terested. “Oh, I don't know. What do "Ice-cream is such a fuss," Kennedy you want to know about them? objected. Squabs, broilers, and hens. Go slow with “Oh, I 'll open it up and dig it out," the squabs, careful with the broilers, and Billy said. "Evelyn likes it." run like sixty from the hens. That 's all The party was fairly successful except I know, but between you and me and the from Billy's point of view; perhaps it was roller-towel, Billy, it's a Hades of a lot." very successful indeed. He and Evelyn
"I dessay,” said Billy. “How the met without embarrassment, but she did deuce did you get to be such a shining n't look well. She was pale, with big example of a boint child, then?”
shadows under her
She avoided "By the Homeric method, 'An' what I looking at him when they shook hands, and thought I might require, I went and took told him she would n't have come if Edith the same as he.'
had n't been so very much disappointed "I wonder if you did," said Billy.
when she refused. Kellogg cocked an eye. "I wonder," he Mrs. Gregory was in her element. They said.
danced and sang. Billy did some glee-club Mrs. Gregory hearing the commotion, songs, and Kennedy sang “Drink to Me and the dull thud of Brander's big frame only with Thine Eves." Later in the as he fell, left her dishes and flew to the evening Billy saw him kiss Edith in the scene of the fray. Brander wrenched
butler's-pantry as they were ostensibly Billy's hand away from his mouth. making a tour of inspection of the prem
“What do you know about-” Billy ises. Edith was n't at all interested in the
housekeeping, either, Billy could see. Her left her radiant with happiness, it was hand touched Kennedy's as they passed because she did n't yet understand what a through the door, and it pressed and clung pup he was, what a cur he was trying to to his. Kennedy kept as close to her as be. He spent a sleepless night-comthe law allowed all the rest of the eve- paratively sleepless, that is; it was at least ning. Brander Kellogg had his arm an hour before he took more than a cataround Lucy Kingston, the other girl of nap. the party, all the way home in the auto- In the morning he looked at Kennedy's mobile. It was a rotten world. By the pile of letters with a snarl of disgust. The time he had shaken Evelyn's cold little only reason that he did n't tell Brander hand in parting Billy was almost ready to that he was a little yellow dog, and try to forswear it for good. What did these prove it to him scientifically, was that fellows think they were doing, anyway? Brander was n't there at the time. He Triling with the big things of life as if felt a great rage at Brander. He knew they were so many candy toys, playing at instinctively that Brander's affairs with love-making as unconcernedly as if they the girls were conducted much like his were eating ice-cream. What did they own. Brander was dangerous; one could mean by it?
see that. Any woman that would fall for His father's next letter closed with the Kennedy deserved what she got, and no poignant advice to "play the game." real girl could stand him. As a matter of Whatever the game was, or however he fact, Kennedy was the one of the trio who happened to find himself sitting in, "play did the most harm. He was a naturalthe game.” That evening he went to see born philanderer, and he worked up all Evelyn.
his affairs with instinctive artistry; but no He found her in the summer-house in virile youngster of Biliy's kind underthe garden, framed in frilly vines and soft stands this. green leaves, her head buried in her hands, He went back to his room and waited crying as if her heart would break; and till he heard Kennedy slam the front door when he saw her, he put out his arn before he began his own breakfast. He without a word, and she put her head would be late to the office for once. Serve down on his shoulder, and finished her him right if he got fired. There was punweeping there.
ishment coming to him. He might as “Will you marry me, Evelyn?” That well help it along from all directions at was what he ought to say. “Evelyn, will you marry me? I've got you into this. I "Were you happily married, Mrs. G.?" started something, and now I 've got to he asked suddenly. see it through. Evelyn, will you marry "I was.” Mrs. Gregory folded her me?" It droned through his mind as he arms, two clean forks projecting from her put his lips to her hair, as he pressed her hand. “I was, and thin ag'in I was n't." tender little form closer to him, as he "Is it so?" Billy murmured. "You patted and comforted and soothed her, as were twice married ?" he sought her lips, and made them yield to "No, it was the same one all the time. him; but he did not say it. Instead, he He was irregular in the habits he had. found himself beseeching her to tell him But I 'm not finding fault with him; that she loved him, that she had been there 's bad in us all, to be sure.” lonely without him, that she was glad he “ 'There 's so much good in the worst of had come back to her; and she told him us, and so much bad in the best of us, that with adorable sweetness that she did, that it ill behooves the rest of us'— how the she had, that she was, and then he gath- deuce does that thing go? Do you rememered her in his arms again, and told her ber the er-occasion on which he proposed how lovely she was, and how much she to you, Mrs. G.?" Billy was collecting meant to him-and that was all. If he data unscrupulously against his inmost