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house were on the top floor.

" Now Mis Jardine, don you believe all
you hear. I wasn t doin nothin cep "

"Except what?"



198 The Concentrations of Bee

" Well, his do was open, en I jes thowed a
glass ob water awn him when he was asleep,
en in de scuffle what enshued -

" Did that scuffle take place in his room ? "
I demanded sternly.

"Naw m! In de hall!"

" Are you sure? "

" In cose I is sho ! After thowin water
awn a sleepin man, wouldn t anybody run?
Wouldn t you run ef you done it? "

Put that way I had to admit that possibly
Pearl Marguerite was right.

" Who is the man? " I asked.

" He s de butlah awn de firs flo ."

As I made no answer she added for further
identification :

" He walks out Sundays wid a brindle bull-
dawg wid a hob-na.il collah. Yallah com
plected wid a big di mon in his shirt front.
A real dudish lookin man."

" I don t think I have ever seen him," I said
hastily. "Are you engaged to him?"

She burst out laughing. Now a laugh with
Pearl Marguerite was not a drawing room
smile. It began with a squeal like a dog whose
tail is stepped OP. She then wrapped her arms
around her waist and went into a series of
internal boilings, during which time she bent
double and writhed as if in the grip of mortal



Marriage of Pearl Marguerite 199

pain. She was very black and her teeth were
of an abnormal whiteness. Seen in a jungle,
all that would have been unnatural about Pearl
Marguerite would have been her white apron.

As I carefully said nothing further to incite
her to continue laughing, she finally stopped.

"Well?" I said. "Answer me. Are
you?"

She turned her back on me and reached up
to the gas meter for no reason at all.
- !" she mumbled.

" I don t hear a word. Turn around here
and take your apron out of your mouth. Now
answer me ! "

"Well, den, I is!"

" Has he given you a ring? "

" Naw m. He gives me a manicyohin
set," she said tapping her finger tips together
coyly.

" A manicuring set ! What are you going
to use it on ? The cat s claws ? "

Seeing from the contortions she immedi
ately went into that I was not likely to obtain
any further information from her in the next
half hour, I turned and went out.

As I got into the elevator, I said to the man,
a cinnamon-coloured man, whose name was
Claude, and who loved adjectives :

"What s the matter, Claude?"



2OO The Concentrations of Bee

He was dabbing a handkerchief against his
mouth.

"I I got a slight toothache, Mis Jar-
dine."

" That s too bad," I observed.

" Yas m," he said, still dabbing. " My fo
front teeth are somewhat loose."

" I m sorry. Have you heard the news
about Pearl Marguerite?"

To my surprise, although a well trained
servant, Claude burst into a fit of laughter.

"What is the matter?" I cried. "Why
should everybody laugh at the idea of Pearl s
engagement ? "

"Do she say she s engaged?" he said.
"Lawd! Mis Jardine, dat gal s enough to
kill a dawg wid her engagement ! Why,
Harol is a mah ied man ! "

" Married ! " I cried. " The poor girl
doesn t know it. Why don t some of you tell
her?"

"Yas m. He! He! I reckon she know it."

" I m sure she doesn t," I said firmly.

" She knows some gal has a cinch awn him !
Mis Jardine, you member Sunday evenin
along bout six o clock, you rang up de reah
elevator and axed Lorraine to go to de top flo
and get Pearl Marguerite foh yo ? "

" Yes, I remember ! "



Marriage of Pearl Marguerite 20 1

" Well, Lorraine, he never went, caze we
both know dat Pearl Marguerite was chasm
down de middle ob de street wid yo bread
knife de one wid de crinkly aidge in huh
han atter Harold en a yallah gal she done
see outen yo windah ! "

" Why just now, she "I began hastily.
Then I stopped.

" Yas m. Well, I chased atter huh, caze I
know she d been up and lighted de oven en I
was afraid yo dinnah would burn up. I cotch
huh over awn Columbus Avenue, en I said
to huh, Come awn home gal ! Don you
know you done lef Mis Jardine s leg in de
oven to burn up? You ll lose yo place ef you
don watch out. But I couldn t move her.
So I went awn home and cooked dat lamb
myself en made de mint sauce. Pearl Mar
guerite come in jes in time to dish it up en
wait awn de table."

" Was Harold with his wife? " I asked.

" I don know. I didn t see him. Lorraine
tol me."

I thought over the situation very carefully.
Pearl Marguerite was only eighteen and this
was her first year in New York. She was
alone, her family all living in Maryland.
Finally I decided that I must have a talk with
her.



2O2 The Concentrations of Bee

Several days passed and one morning she
broke the news to me that she was going to
get married, and on Monday. She only told
me on Thursday, so the time was short.

I began diffidently, because I really knew
nothing. It was only hear-say, but the giggles
of the elevator men and Pearl Marguerite s
spirited defiances were wafted to me through
the swinging doors, and I felt sure that some
thing was wrong.

After telling her she ought not to be in such
a hurry and asking her what she knew about
Harold, I wound up with :

" Now, I am not saying one word about the
man. He is probably all right. Only you
ought to ask his friends and find out. Be sure
about him. How do you know, for instance,
but that there is some girl already claiming
him!"

" Has anybody been talkin to you about
Harol ?" demanded the girl.

" Now, who would be likely to talk to a
white lady about a coloured man s private
affairs? I m only talking to you like this,
because your mother is not here to say the
same things. She would talk to you just this
way if you could see her. I m only doing it
to keep you from being fooled. Now you can
go ahead and do as you please. I ve done my



Marriage of Pearl Marguerite 203

duty by you. Your own mother couldn t
give you any better advice."

" Naw m, she couldn ," said Pearl Margue
rite.

I told her what I would give her for a
wedding present and she thanked me, and said
she would think over what I had said.

But on Sunday she said she had decided
to go ahead with her plans and get married
the next day. We all gave her presents and
left her standing waiting for the rear elevator
to take her down.

But I had no sooner closed the door than
I remembered something I wanted to ask her.
The car was slowly descending as I opened
the door and these words came up quite
clearly :

" She said my maw would a said de same
tings, but my maw said to me : Pearl, ef you
ever gets a chance wid a likely man, don ask
no fool questions about his pas , caze I knowed
a sassy gal what done dat once an she los de
fellah en a yallah woman got him !

I decided not to ask Pearl Marguerite what
she had done with her key.

For five days the girl Pearl Marguerite had
got to take her place did our work. On the
sixth to my surprise I found Pearl getting
lunch.



204 The Concentrations of Bee

"Why, Pearl Marguerite!" I exclaimed.

She turned a beaming face on me. One
front tooth was gone and her left eye was
swollen nearly shut.

" I done come back ! " she said.

"So I . see. Well, tell me about the wed
ding. Was it nice?"

" Yas m. Hit sho was. We went to de
preacher s house and got mah ied. Den we
come awn up to my sistah s en she give me a
fine deception. She gimmie a white cake wid
icin awn it, en as de gues come in she stood
at de do en sprayed em wid furriery out ob
one ob dese yere matanizers you know de
kin - - you squeezes de rubber ball and gets a
squirt ob cologne en yo face?"

" I have seen them," I said faintly. " It
must have been very nice."

" Harol say hit took de rag right off de
bush," said his wife, rearing her head proudly.

"Where is Harold?" I asked.

" He s back in his ol place downstairs awn
de firs flo ."

She put her hand to her swollen eye, which
evidently pained her.

Who knocked your tooth out and gave
you that black eye? "

" Harol ! " she said with another grin.

" He did! And yet you still like him? "



Marriage of Pearl Marguerite 205

Although ordinarily quite respectful, Pearl
Marguerite, elated by her recent experiences,
gave me such a nudge with her elbow that she
knocked me against the ice box.

" Jal- ous ! " she cried in a voice of triumph.

For a moment I struggled silently with my
emotions. Then I said sternly:

That s a nice way to show jealousy. To
half kill a woman."

" Hit s de white blood in him," declared
his wife. " A coal black niggah is all niggah,
en you can count awn him. But dese yere
yellah people, wid jes enough white blood in
em to mek em feel dey s ez good ez white
folks en what ack lake white folks den you
get de debble ! "

" I came in," I said hastily, " to tell you to
make a mayonnaise ! "

" Yas m."

As I turned to go out, Pearl Marguerite
said in a voice replete with satisfied ambition :

" Ise a bride, Mis Jardine! "

I hastily shut the door and left the bride
washing dishes.

When I told Jimmie about her, he invited
himself to dinner three evenings in succession
and choked so often that Pearl Marguerite to
this day hovers near him whenever he eats,



206 The Concentrations of Bee

expecting to be called upon to slap him on the
back to bring him to life.

She told me she thought the reason he
choked so often was because he didn t " know
how to swaller good! "



CHAPTER XIII

IN SEARCH OF A HUSBAND

ALTHOUGH I said nothing to Aubrey
of my philanthropic plans with re
gard to helping Bee in her affair with
Laflin, my chagrin may be imagined when, a
few days later, he looked at me with a twinkle
in his eye and said :

" Well, I am sure we could manage it ! "

" Manage what ? " I flared out, on the de
fensive instantly.

" To include Van Tassel in our party for
New Haven!"

" How did you know ? I never thought of
such a thing! It s mean of you to see through
me like that ! " I stormed.

He came over to me.

" Don t be vexed at me, little woman ! Who
wouldn t know when your eyes fairly devour
Bee every time you see her and when the con
versation between you two ever since we were
at Coolmeath has inevitably led to his name?
Don t I know, from past experience, that you
have actually built on New Haven, and if that
207



208 The Concentrations of Bee

can t be managed, you have thought gratefully
of your genius at dinner giving? "

" I d as soon be married to a Pinkerton de
tective as to you ! " I cried. " I wish you
wouldn t watch me so ! "

" I find all my joy in life in observing your
slightest action," said the Angel, with such a
look that I descended from my high horse in
stantly and a description of the next few mo
ments would be a bore to any but just us two.

"Do you want him invited?" asked Au
brey.

" I would like it if you could manage it,"
I said.

" 1? "

" Yes, it would look far less marked coming
from you."

" Why are you taking so much trouble? If
a man wants a woman he always finds a way
to get her."

" The ordinary woman, yes. But think how
horribly Bee has always been misunderstood.
And remember how public sympathy always
went with James, because of his godliness
and because of the conventions which bid a
woman stay at home even if her husband beats
her every night. Laflin doesn t know Bee -
that s the whole trouble."



In Search of a Husband 209

" Then he shall get to know her," said Au
brey decidedly. " I think he would like to like
her that he would fairly enjoy letting him
self go."

" Oh, you darling," I cried. " That s just
the way I feel about it. / believe he s afraid
of her! He is rather simple and undeveloped
and Bee always strikes everyone as being
well finished, so to speak! "

So it was all settled and I gave the matter
no further thought.

How Bee managed to hold her to it, I don t
know, but Lyddy actually did invite our whole
party to go as her guests. It was too cold for
motors, therefore we went on the train, a
merry, excited, nervous but happy family.
And in addition to the Jimmies, Lyddy, Bee
and Bob Mygatt, we had brought Mrs. Keep,
the Munsons and Laflin Van Tassel.

Now the style of conversation of these four
new comers into our ranks is worth mention
ing.

Munson is far and away the most fluent
as well as the most elegant talker we know.
Slang knows him not. He dips deep into the
well of perfect English, pure and undefiled, and
reels off hours of monologue which holds us
entranced, gaping and appreciative, wonder-



2IO The Concentrations of Bee

ing where he got it all, but satisfied to keep
silent and let him hold the floor.

And it is well that this is the case most of
the time, for any attempt on our part to join in
his monologue, to vary it by a making of it a
duet or a trio, annoys Munson. If we inter
rupt he waves us back by his hand. If we per
sist, he gets sulky.

Still, Munson sometimes bore interrup
tions, not gracefully, but without positive
rudeness. But his eyes would flash interroga
tively at the others to see if their impatience
to hear him continue matched his own, and
one could always tell by the nervous rotary
motion of his long and intelligent foot, that he
would not brook the interloper long. And the
gently forbearing manner in which he took
up the thread of his conversation, with a child
like faith in our having been bored by the in
terruption equally with himself, made an even
ing with Munson a succession of emotions,
which ran the gamut from delighted admira
tion to the compassion one would feel for a
confiding child, whose faith in the world has
never been shaken.

Having travelled a great deal and being pos
sessed of a rich imagination, a sense of
humour and some delicacy of feeling, Mun
son had assimilated his material from every



In Search of a Husband 211

source he had thus encountered, and he was
equally gifted with pen as with tongue.

But he possessed as well the delicate un
balance, to put it mildly, which afflicts all
genius, and this was particularly apparent
when the cup that cheers was pressed to his
willing lips. On one drink, Munson expanded.
On two he exaggerated. On three he lied.
But lied with such fluency, such imagination,
such glorious potency of seeming truth, that he
never could count on being invited to stop
after one. The other two were always click
ing at his elbow and his audience was smiling
and anticipatory around him.

Eleanor Munson, his wife, seldom spoke at
such times, but sat looking at him with the
look a wife reserves for a husband who grows
expansive on three.

Equally interesting, equally persistent but
much more modest, was Mrs. Keep s habit of
converse. She never took the initiatory as
Munson always expressed willingness to do.
She never interrupted. She never demanded
an exploitation of her views, unless you asked
her. Then if you did, you had to listen. Mrs.
Keep was exceedingly matter-of-fact. Having
been invited to express her opinion, she firmly
believed you wanted to hear it, and hear it you
must, if it took all day !



212 The Concentrations of Bee

Now Mrs. Keep was not quick in speech.
To tell the truth she was mortally slow, and
in our rapid, telegraphic style, the Happy
Family often supplied her hesitating tongue
with the word for which she groped, or an
ticipated her meaning with an eager reply to
her as yet unspoken words. Vain were we to
think that we could hurry her. Her conversa
tion was like a serial which is paid for by the
word. It was longer than the tactics of the
story demanded. But you had to take it all.
You couldn t get on with the story because the
next number wasn t out. If you interrupted
her, she simply went back and began over,
without any irritation, any hurry or any
noise.

Did you ever try to shut the cat out of the
house on a summer evening and have her
come in at the back door? Then if you put her
out again, the window did very nicely, thanks.
Again she is placed on the mat and she comes
up from the cellar. Finally you put her out
for the night and lock up, and just as you go
to turn out the light, you see her stealing down
from the attic, whither she had attained no
one on earth knows how, but with the ex
pression on her face of, " I know you made a
mistake to put me out. You really wanted me,
so here I am ! "



In Search of a Husband 213

That is the gentle persistence and tactful
pertinacity of Mrs. Keep s conversation when
you have asked for her views.

Ava Corliss, while saying little, always man
aged to make us self-conscious. We always
felt that it would be better for us if we each
had a Mission in Life. But we don t want
to have Missions. We jog along, amusing
ourselves and doing what good we can, but we
hate to talk about our virtues or feel them.
The well-clad Christian is the one whose vir
tues fit him to such perfection that he is able to
forget all about them. The Christian who is
forever talking about the set of his halo be
longs to the spiritually nouveau riche.

Ava disapproved of Bob s drinking and
smoking and wouldn t go automobiling on
Sunday. She also thought a cold supper was
the acme of Christian hospitality on the Sab
bath, and looked askance at us because we had
a hot dinner and dressed for it as on week
days. And because of these things, Ava s
contributions to our conversations were the
reverse of hilarious.

I pass lightly over the fact that she had no
sense of humour, because Mrs. Jimmie had less
than none, yet she was a darling and we all
adored her.

No, Ava Corliss appeared to regard herself



214 The Concentrations of Bee

as a Shining Example and it was evident that
she had set herself to reform Bob Mygatt.

It was a good thing she was pretty.

Laflin Van Tassel was also so good to look
at that it really made no difference to me what
he thought or said. My scalp was hanging
from his belt from the moment he joined our
party, as he so plainly showed his appreciation
of my Angel, his delicate habit of thought and
his work.

Munson didn t like him. He said :

" Van Tassel is not my idea of a com
panionable man."

"What?" I said. "Doesn t he sit silent
and listen to you by the hour ? What more do
you want of a companion ? "

" Ah," said Munson, eager to set me right
on a delicate point like that, " you seem to for
get that there are listeners and listeners.
Some listen receptively. Others shed the
stream of ideas which pours over them, leaving
themselves quite dry. Now Van Tassel, while
outwardly all that is polite and courteous, de
flects all I say. He doesn t "

" I know what you mean. He doesn t sop
it up!"

" He doesn t absorb it," Munson corrected
me delicately.

" And don t you know why? " I asked curi-



In Search of a Husband 215

ously, for with all Munson s intelligence I am
sometimes so surprised to see him overlook a
psychological fact like the one he complained
of.

" No. Is there any reason ? "

" A very decided one. Your habit of
thought and Laflin Van Tassel s are as widely
separated as the poles. Your reasoning is al
ways materialistic, his is spiritual. You are
a pagan, without a God or a religion. He has
a code of Christian ethics which beautifies his
whole life. You believe in hate and revenge.
He is none of your orthodox Christians, who
subscribe to worn out creeds and rituals, you
understand. He simply, as you say, sheds all
false beliefs, false ethics, false reasoning and
pantheistic philosophy."

" That, then, is one reason I don t like him,"
said Munson. " Another is that he is at all
times so hopelessly and, to me, obnoxiously,
well dressed. I don t care for perfectly got up
men. The contrast between them and myself
is too humiliating. And I am a proud
man!"

His big, serious brown eyes twinkled, and I
laughed.

On the night of Bob s play, however, all
these differences of opinion were forgotten.

It is difficult to argue from a try-out in New



216 The Concentrations of Bee

Haven, because the boys are so enthusiastic.
You feel as if you are in for a two years run
in New York. But, to some of us the air that
night seemed electric with foreboding.

I kept looking about through the audience
as if trying to find some one who was watch
ing me. I couldn t enjoy the play, foolish and
therefore successful as it seemed.

Ava Corliss, as Allie Gayter looked lovely
and sang bewitchingly. Bob paced the narrow
space behind our box and gnawed his nails
with the sick stomach and light head which
every first nighter knows. His usually ruddy
face was a pale green and he wobbled on his
legs.

Poor fellow! Didn t I just know how he
felt!

We tried to cheer him up between acts, but
we couldn t manage it.

"What is the matter, Bob?" I said.
" Can t you smile and make us feel welcome?
You act as if the avenging angel were on your
track."

He started and gave me a quick glance
which sent the cold shivers down my back.

" I hate this damned town ! " he cried. " It
always gives me the blues to come here! I
knew it would be like this! "

I started in to comfort him, when suddenly



In Search of a Husband 217

a thought struck me, and I turned my head
away for fear that Bob should read my face.

Yet after the second act, Bob disappeared,
and to the vociferous calls for " author,"
" author," the manager, flushed and annoyed,
was obliged to say that the author was not in
the house.

This evidently disappointed the college boys
in the audience, for we could imagine just how
much a favourite a fellow like Bob would be.
Things quieted down after that and they
didn t even give the Yale yell. Which did
seem queer.

What was the matter with everybody and
everything ?

After the play was over, we determined to
liven things up a little. We got Ava and pre
pared to be our dear Lyddy s guests. Which,
as Jimmie said, was " something which could
not be overcome at once. It must be lived
down."

But nobody could have done anything with
the awful incongruities in our party.

To be sure Bob cheered up a little, but
Lyddy was rendered perfectly waspish by see
ing Bob s devotion to Ava and his pride in
her success.

Lyddy s manner grew more and more nerv
ous, her tongue more and more peppery.



218 The Concentrations of Bee

Ava was near-sighted and once in a while,
wore glasses. For some reason she had them
on at supper that night and it was the first time
Lyddy had noticed them.

She looked the girl over critically and then
said:

" How glasses spoil one s looks ! With lit
erary people one doesn t mind them, but on a
girl who has nothing to depend on but her
face, it really is a pity, isn t it? "

Ava only smiled and took her glasses off,
and because she had failed to annoy Ava,
Lyddy said nasty things to each of us in turn
until she came to Bob.

Something had been said about the money
to be made out of a good play and Bob
said:

" I care not for the necessities of life. Give
me the luxuries. I ll be perfectly satisfied not
to have all the bread and butter I need, if my
play will only give me an automobile! "

Then came Lyddy s masterpiece.

You needn t wait a day for that!" she
said. " I will give you an automobile to-mor
row on just one condition ! "

In a flash Bob knew she was in earnest, and
being himself an ardent disciple of Graft, he
said:

" Name it, dear lady ! "



In Search of a Husband 219

" That you will never take any other
woman in it, except me! "

Jimmie said he didn t get the vinegar out
of his windpipe for a week.

We all pretended that we had dropped
things, and as we fumbled on the floor, Bob
and Lyddy faced each other across the festal
board, watched in a tense silence by Ava Cor
liss.

The rest of us drew together at one end of
the table, where, as Jimmie said, we were " out
of harm s way."

Then Bob drew Ava s hand under his arm
saying :

" Such a gift would be useless to me, oh,
sweetest and most generous of young women,
as I am going to marry this dear girl unless
she refuses me on account of my poverty."

To my astonishment, Lyddy smiled a
smile of grim determination, which caused
Ava to rear her head proudly and Bob to drop
his eyes, and switch the conversation. He got
up and walked to the window and Ava and
Lyddy followed him.

" Somehow, though anybody can see it
isn t Bob s fault, the whole thing is rather
sickening," I said, in an undertone to our end
of the table.

"Not Bob s fault?" murmured the Angel.



22O The Concentrations of Bee

"If ever there was encouragement in a look,
it was in the one he gave Lyddy when he told
her he was going to marry Ava! "

" With her hand in his ! " I cried, shocked.

" Isn t Lyddy a vicious old devil ! " observed
Jimmie in a genial tone of general conversa
tion. " Did you hear her tell me that no
woman who loved jewels as much as my wife


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