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class."

Now we are conceited enough to think that



Dr. Bragg Plays His Part 243

it takes a thoroughbred to do that, and Dr.
Bragg was a rank outsider.

Nevertheless, we tolerated him for Mrs.
Jimmie s sake,, being positive that she would
soon get through with him and his pretensions
and be looking for a new cure.

Our surprise then may be imagined, when
Bee first met him at a dinner at the Jimmies ,
which included Mrs. Cox, to see her distinctly
affable to him.

Mrs. Cox represented the dernier cri in mil
linery, and having had rather a bad time of it
with her husband, she had him removed by law
and was now in full cry after the good time
which she felt, as a young and pretty woman,
was her due. She was an idolater of Mam
mon, and if she ever achieved that heaven of
pearly gates and streets of gold in which she
believed, she would be much more exercised
as to whether her wings touched in the back,
or the* relative sumptuousness of her halo,
than concerning her spiritual privileges and
the unusual companionship in which she found
herself.

And wasn t it for all the world like a man
and it would make a gravestone laugh to
remember that men are the choosers in this
world ! but wasn t it just like such a man as
Dr. Bragg to fall in love with such a woman?



244 The Concentrations of Bee

The night that Jimmie and I began to sit
up and take notice was soon after Bob My-
gatt s first marriage, when Mrs. Jimmie had
us all to dinner, together with our dear Lyddy,
Bob, Laflin, Mrs. Cox and Dr. Bragg.

Now I have never criticized Mrs. Jimmie
unfavourably in even the slightest manner,
but if there were anything to be said, it would
be along the lines of her being too sweet to
suspect that she has people to dinner who don t
belong. In anybody else, that would be a
crime in my eyes. In Mrs. Jimmie, it is an
imperfection, which, as everybody will allow,
leans to virtue s side.

I would never forgive anybody else, who
said even this much against my adored Mrs.
Jimmie, but I am compelled to account, in
some manner, for her having Dr. Bragg at
her table, on account of w;hat happened after
ward.

Jimmie seldom notices such things. To
him, we were a nice little family party, as he
observed to me privately.

" Everybody," he whispered, with his eye
on Lyddy and Bob, " in love in neat couples."

Of course our interest centred in the tenta
tive sets of lovers Laflin and Bee, Lyddy
and Bob, and the doctor and his grass-widow.

Mrs. Cox started the ball rolling by saying



Dr. Bragg Plays His Part 245

that she thought husbands were so selfish.
They never made love to their own wives, but
expected no other man to dare to.

As a conversation-starter among reluctant
talkers, I know of no subject which is the
equal of this. It has been in our family for
generations and I expect to hand it down to
my children also.

At first Jimmie fell into the trap every time
and told how his wife didn t lack for love mak
ing, until I took him aside and explained to
him that the trap wasn t set for him and that
it grew monotonous for the rest of us to see
him catch his paw in it every single time.
And Jimmie thanked me for my explanation,
with tears of gratitude in his eyes, so to speak.
In fact, I think our friendship dated from
that moment.

So now, when that subject is introduced,
Jimmie leans back with the rest of the old
stagers and watches the youngsters " take
their turn," as he gracefully puts it, " in riding
the goat."

The doctor walked into the trap so promptly
that Jimmie s wink nearly upset me, and even
Mrs. Cox, the sly lady, was forced to drop
her eyes to hide their gleam. The fact was
that she was about to perform that feat, which
to a woman never grows old nor stale of



246 The Concentrations of Bee

compelling a lover unconsciously to display
his subjection for other women to see.

I am frank to say that, since my marriage,
to be obliged to observe this process, bores
me. I think widows bore most married
women for this and kindred reasons.

" My wife will never have to complain of
not having enough love made to her," began
the doctor heavily, when Mrs. Cox cut in with,

" Probably not, for if she is at all pretty
and stylish, plenty of other men will make love
to her also ! "

The doctor nearly sobbed at this, because
he was so plainly afraid, with Mrs. Cox for
his wife, that this would really happen, which
it undoubtedly would.

" But if your own husband filled your whole
life," said the doctor eagerly, " what object
would you have in permitting other men to
surround you ? "

" Oh, the same reason that every pretty
woman has nowadays!" replied Mrs. Cox
with a lift of her shoulders. " The desire for
admiration! For whom do women dress? To
displease the women and please the men ! You
can t keep men away from a smartly got up
woman! He may deride an ugly fashion, but
he follows the woman who follows the
fashion ! And for a man to follow a woman



Dr. Bragg Plays His Part 247

long enough is for him to make love to
her!"

" But what I cannot understand," said the
doctor in an agonized tone, " is why women

good women, nice women, sweet women

permit themselves to be made love to after
they are married! Don t they know that it
brings pain to a husband s heart? "

" It ought to bring a bootjack to the wife s
head," was Jimmie s modest contribution to
the discussion.

" It ought to, but it doesn t," murmured
Mrs. Cox. " All women do it, Mr. Jimmie.
Don t they, Mrs. Lathrop? You know they
do."

Jimmie was spared a disgusted refutation
of this remark, to defend our blessed Mrs.
Jimmie from being included. (The Angel
only looked at me and smiled as he quietly
dropped cigarette ashes into his bread-and-
butter plate) when, to our open-mouthed as
tonishment Bee our coquettish Bee Bee
of the Austrian officer episode Bee, the
heroine of a score of gallant skirmishes, in
which she routed the enemy, man, calmly
stepped into the arena, and, abandoning the
Juliets, Kates and Beatrices of the world, es
poused the cause of the Griseldas in this
wise.



248 The Concentrations of Bee

" At one time," said Bee, in that tone of
honeyed sweetness which, as a relative, I have
learned to dread, " I might have agreed with
you, Mrs. Cox, but I have recently changed
my mind upon a number of things. I think
possibly you and I are not good judges of
what a happily married woman thinks, feels
or permits concerning love and lovers other
than her own husband."

I regret to say that Jimmie, in trying not
to look at Laflin or me just at this juncture,
got the hiccoughs, and the remainder of Bee s
homily, which poor old Laflin was too thor
oughly a man to see through, was delivered
with the noisiest and most objectionable form
of hiccoughs from Jimmie as punctuation
marks.

If the Angel did such things, I d send him
from the room.

Now Bee has an exquisite sense of humour,
not as violent as mine, consequently more
ladylike, and, I, as her sister, knew that the
whole situation was appealing to her like the
stage setting of a Belasco play, even to the
longing to stretch herself on the attic floor and
beat her French heels on the bare boards and
scream at Jimmie s hiccoughs, even if, for
some of us, they did spoil her effect.

But the thing which saved her from disaster



Dr. Bragg Plays His Part 249

(because, of course, Jimmie was as pleased
with his hiccoughs as a boy with his first boots,
and would have taken his oath that he couldn t
have stopped them, although everyone of us
believed that he could, and to this day, when
ever we have no other subject to worry, we
attack that one with bitter accusation and
heated denials) was the pathetic manner in
which the doctor, from behind Mrs. Cox s
shoulder, nodded and winked and grimaced
the completeness of his approval.

" Now at one time," continued Bee, laying
one beautifully rounded arm on the table
where Laflin could get the best view of it, " I
opposed Faith s marriage to Aubrey because
he hadn t the money I thought Faith needed
and I didn t believe he could make it. I have
come to see that they are happier in their
affection for each other than millions could
make them, and the sight of their utter con
tent has done much toward changing my atti
tude toward marriage."

" Hasn t the fact that the old man has writ
ten one successful play and made a pot of
money out of it had something to do with
your tardy approval of him, Bee?" hic
coughed Jimmie.

Dear Mrs. Jimmie s reddening cheeks were
more of a reproof to him for this than her



250 The Concentrations of Bee

sweet disclaims of his lovely rudeness. Dear
old Jimmie! However, one need seldom pity
Bee, for she would scorn to be disconcerted
and reproof never gets under her skin. She
sheds it like a waterproof tin roof. She feels
that she did not deserve it, therefore, why
allow it to sink in?

" Not at all," said the doctor. " I am sure
Mrs. Lathrop was convinced by the heart we
all know Mr. Jardine possesses, in spite of
the cynical brilliancy of his plays! "

A slight, malicious smile widened Bee s lips
at this, and my Angel muttered something not
fit to repeat.

" A woman when she marries should think
of nothing but her husband until she can con
fidently look forward to motherhood," went
on the doctor, turning to beam fatuously upon
Mrs. Cox, but if looks could kill, the two Mrs.
Cox and Bee shot at him would have stretched
him dead at their feet.

"Nonsense!" said Mrs. Cox quickly.
1 There would be no surer way, in my opin
ion, for a wife to lose her husband s love and
to drive him to making love to the other
women who have eyes for the admiration
which is their due, than for her to do the
deadly domestic act. If I ever am foolish
enough to marry again, you will see me profit



Dr. Bragg Plays His Part 251

by my observations, as well as my disastrous
personal experiences."

" Whoever he is, he will be the most fortu
nate man on earth," said the doctor fer
vently.

Bee waited, as delicately poised as a purple
butterfly while this interruption proceeded, but
she held our interest, as she always could in
any assemblage she chose to grace, and when
she had indicated by a lifted eyebrow, that if
they were quite done, she would go on, she
said,

" Domesticity need not, of necessity, be
deadly, if I may differ from Mrs. Cox. The
days of the slovenly wife and dowdy young
mother have passed. Nowadays wifehood and
maternity are smartly and becomingly gowned,
and the clever woman is the one who can
make even domesticity spicy and perfect con
fidence pungent. If a woman can keep her
own husband thoroughly interested, she will
have little time to coquette with the husbands
of other women."

Here the doctor s nods and winks were so
pronounced that even Bee smiled, and our dear
Lyddy voiced the general opinion, when she
snorted out,

" Well, my lady, you certainly have
changed ! "



252 The Concentrations of Bee

" I hope, dear Lydia," said Bee, " that I do
change. I should dislike to think that I alone
stood still, while all the rest of you are so
palpably getting on! "

At this somewhat pungent reference to
Lyddy s state of probationary bliss, Lyddy
smiled broadly and glanced with aged coyness
at Bob, who slowly turned purple under the
lively interest of our composite gaze.

" Happiness is so rare a possession, that to
acquire it, we are all compelled to pay a price
commensurate with it," I observed with my
eye carefully on Bob s majenta face.

" But no matter how high the price may
seem to others," answered Bob, as if I had
addressed him personally (a woman in his
place never would have let everybody see that
she felt the point of my dart, which shows how
even an ordinary woman can often get the
best of a clever man). " Men are always to
be found who are willing to pay it, and glad
of the chance! "

Yes," hiccoughed Jimmie genially, " they
do say there is a fool born every minute! "

Now, lest the foolish sympathize unintelli-
gently, let me pause to remark that this sort
of thing was not cruel to Lyddy, for she was
so dull withal, she never saw it. And even if
she had seen, she was so conceited, it never



Dr. Bragg Plays His Part 253

would have occurred to her to take the mean
ing to herself.

"Well," said Bob, "tastes differ. There
are those who talk fluently of love in a cot
tage. They are generally those who haven t
tried it. A three-room cottage and a wife who
does her own work and whose hands smell of
dishwater are not my idea of domestic bliss."

" Nor mine," spoke up Aubrey, with his
slow smile, for when, in our poverty spots, we
have had to come down to housework and I
have cooked, I have always recklessly, and
with Aubrey s connivance, hired the janitor s
wife to wash the dishes.

" But," said Bee, " if you are poor, Bob,
you are always sure of being married for love
alone, while either the man or the woman with
much money is always wondering how much
love, if any, is included in the bargain."

Then it dawned on both Jimmie and me
simultaneously that this was what Bee had
been leading up to, and that the affair of the
doctor and Mrs. Cox were as if they were not,
to our Bee.

We were so struck by the evident impres
sion Bee s last remark was making on Laflin s
mind, and the delightful fact that he was mod
estly taking it only one way, as Bee had con
fidently counted upon his doing, and we were



254 The Concentrations of Bee

so awed by the skill with which Bee spurred
her slightly tardy wooer into active thought,
that we forgot the conceit of Lyddy, which
made her consider herself attacked.

" / see what you mean, Bee Lathrop," she
began, and we were so surprised and so taken
up with other thoughts that we couldn t at
once collect ourselves, so Lyddy got quite a
little headway.

" You mean me, of course ! How dare you
say openly as openly as you just did, that
I am to be married for my money. I assure
you, Bee Lathrop, there is nobody will be glad
der than I when you and I can separate for
good, and I s pose noiv even this precious set
of your friends who think everything the
charming Mrs. Lathrop does is so wonderful
and so fine, can noiv see what I have to take
from you! I hope now

She stopped abruptly, and at first we gazed
about wildly for a reason. But Bob had not
moved except to look at her, and for the first
time she had met that look.

" By thunder," Jimmie said to me after
ward, " I begin to believe what Bob said about
taking his freedom. By thunder, I ll bet he ll
take it with both hands. I tell you I didn t
think the fool had it in him to look at any
human being with such a look it was posi-



Dr. Bragg Plays His Part 255

lively murderous, wasn t it, Faith ? and you
know you were tickled to death that she was
getting it, weren t you, now? I tell you, I
didn t think it was in the brute! By thunder,
I didn t!"

Jimmie s vocabulary of decent expletives is
limited, therefore I excuse in him what would
be tautology in others.

But as I heartily agreed with him in his in
coherent but nevertheless sincere admiration of
Bob s suppression of the redoubtable Lyddy, I
said nothing and thereby lost a valuable op
portunity of stirring him up.

After Lyddy subsided, there was a momen
tary silence, and we all sat watching Bob, who
was plainly of two minds about something.
He knocked invisible ashes from his cigarette
with a nervous little finger several times, then
he said quietly,

" I beg your pardon, Bee "

And again he looked at Lyddy, who stared
back at him as if hypnotized and then mut
tered,

" I beg your pardon, Bee. I I didn t
mean what I said."

" I am sure you didn t, Lyddy," said Bee,
with a degree of cordiality in her tones that
any woman could have thrown, who knew that
every man at the table was her secret cham-



256 The Concentrations of Bee

pion and who was upborne by the fact that one
had espoused her cause openly.

But Bee always managed to not to place
herself in the right, as I have to do with a
loud splash, if ever I happen to get there,
but to be in the right, to be there first and be
sitting there, waiting for us to enter through
the door of Wrong and see her mounted as
securely on the throne of Right as if she had
grown there!

However, all this is by the way, and went
unobserved except by a few. Laflin, for ex
ample, lost the whole of it, for he had never
taken his eyes from Bee since her remark
about being loved for herself, and that Bee
was acutely conscious of his observation, any
sister would know, by signs invisible to the
naked eye and impossible to describe, but still
there !

Then, too, she had the pleasing conscious
ness that Laflin had been an ear-witness to the
sort of thing she had to put up with from her
sister-in-law under the condition in which her
husband left his estate, and as Bee was much
too diplomatic ever to complain, she never had
been quite sure that Laflin knew what she had
to bear up under in short, that he had ren
dered her that full meed of his admiration
which she felt that she deserved.



Dr. Bragg Plays His Part 257

So Bee was just in that exalted frame of
mind which too often is followed by a disaster
which none of us could foresee and which
never would have happened, or rather, which
never would have been of just that unbearable
degree of vulgarity it proved, if there had not
been aliens in our midst.

(I don t call an " in-law " like Lyddy an
alien, for almost everybody is obliged to sub
mit to traits and characteristics in " in-laws "
which, like barked shins, sprained ankles or
black-and-blue spots, are due to our own care
lessness in not seeing where we are going.
Such things, therefore, people are not espe
cially blamed for or sympathized with on ac
count of them. We just pass them over in
silence, as all in the day s work.)

Bee seemed to feel that she must change
the subject from the foolishness of the doctor s
monopoly, so, taking my cue and entirely for
getting that there were outsiders present, I
launched out on a description of how we had
to cook our bedroom by day in order to sleep
in it by night, and from that we got to telling
jokes on the Munsons, perfectly harmless in
themselves, but full of deadly insult if re
peated by a stranger, and all would have been
well, if Bee had been able to hold herself in.

But manners, or rather savoir faire, is more



258 The Concentrations of Bee

to Bee than home or husband or child or
wealth or religion, and the quality of the aliens
in our midst got on her nerves, as you shall
hear, not to her undoing! Oh, no! Fate al
ways skipped Bee s elaborate coiffure and
landed with unerring aim on my unprotected
skull.

The moment the conversation lagged, the
doctor harked back to his own case, just as a
confiding Newfoundland can never see why
he is not just as welcome in the drawing room
as the Blenheim, and keeps returning to try
his luck again and again.

" Love in marriage has not gone out of
fashion, ladies," he began ponderously. " Men
good men the sort of men who make
good husbands never marry for anything else.
And women should do the same. If you would
only fix your mind on the enduring qualities
of heart and soul which a man possesses, and
marry for those things, there would be less
demand on your part for admiration from
other men."

He so plainly was wooing Mrs. Cox under
this attempt at generalization that the lady had
the grace to blush.

" I can conceive of no greater bore," ob
served Mrs. Cox icily, " than fixing my mind
on my husband s enduring qualities of heart



Dr. Bragg Plays His Part 259

and soul when I wanted a younger and hand
somer man to make love to me. Can you,
Mrs. Lathrop? "

The doctor signalled frantically to Bee.

" Yes, I can," said Bee. " If I should ever
marry again, which is not likely -

Here Lyddy s loud sniff of disbelief voiced
the general dissent of our little party so ex
quisitely that Jimmie turned a laugh into a
sneeze and then cleared his throat noisily to
prove that he really had a cold

" I should never even accept a man, in whom
I was not violently in love. Yes, violently.
That word may seem rather to belong to
Faith than to me, but as I said, my views have
been changing, and if I could be sure of being
loved for myself alone, I could be satisfied
with the companionship of just that one man,
and never think of any other."

The doctor leaned back suddenly and
beamed on the company as if fully satisfied.
The poor man could not see that every word
Bee spoke, which so pleased him, was render
ing Mrs. Cox more unruly and defiant, and
that her growing irritation boded no good to
him on the way home. He felt Bee s influence,
and he considered the subject settled.

When we went into the drawing room for
coffee, he planted his feet on Bee s train and



260 The Concentrations of Bee

whispered to her for fully five minutes. We
could see Bee s lips widening behind her
fan.

Jimmie said he heard every word.

" He s telling her how he loves Mrs. Cox
and thanking her for championing his cause at
dinner. Did you get that ? He thinks she was
trying to help him! Oh, Lord! "

And he hiccoughed loudly.

Bee evidently had stood all she was going
to, for she tires easily. She interrupted the
doctor and said something which caused his
jaw to drop.

"Watch im!" urged Jimmie, hitting my
elbow and making me spill my coffee. " Oh,
I beg your pardon ! "

As if that did any good.

" She is probably telling him that he and his
affair weren t in her mind at all," I said in
Jimmie s ear, " because she wants him to get
off her dress and go home, so she can talk to
Laflin."

Which was exactly what she was doing, as
it turned out afterward. Only she went
further and told him that Mrs. Cox was totally
unsuited to him as a wife and she advised him
to look where he was going.

Then when the doctor had departed, indig
nant with surprise, and Bee was sure Laflin



Dr. Bragg Plays His Part 261

was approaching, as indeed he was, Mrs. Cox
dropped gracefully down on the sofa beside
Bee, shaking her fan at Laflin s discomfiture
and blind to the green light in Bee s eyes.

What she said we could not hear, but Mrs.
Cox s face underwent several changes, and
things began to look interesting when Laflin
again approached the sofa which held the two
women, with an American beauty rose in his
hand with the longest stem I ever saw.

Bee gave an involuntary exclamation of
pleasure at the beauty of it, and held out her
hand to take it as Laflin offered it to her, when
the doctor stepped up and took it from Laflin s
hand.

He did not know he was rude. He was
simply born that kind of an animal.

"My, but that has a fine smell!" he ex
claimed, burying his nose in its fragrance and
crushing the flower against his face in a man
ner which made us all wince. " But these
thorns are bad. Allow me ! " And with the
air of doing Bee a favour and before anyone
could cry out, he had whipped out his knife
and cut the stem six inches below the rose
and proffered the now mutilated flower to
Bee.

Have you ever seen a lady simply furious?
A woman with the restraint of civilization



262 The Concentrations of Bee

about her, yet seething with a primitive rage
which made her long to bury her teeth and
nails in her victim s tenderest part ?

I felt sorry for Bee, not because of her poor
rose or Laflin, but because she was a lady and
couldn t say what she looked and felt.

She gave one look at Mrs. Cox which said
as plainly as words,

"If you marry, you will marry that!"

And Mrs. Cox s crimson face answered that
she didn t blame Bee at all, but for Bee just
to wait until she got the doctor alone.

She took him home without any further
pretext and the simple-minded man beamed
on us all a beatific beam of fatuous happiness
as we, with faces set with apprehension, saw
them go.

" Gee ! " said Jimmie, as the front door
slammed. " Was I ever such a blind ass as
that, even before I was married ? "

" Of course you were ! " I said cruelly, " for
when a man who dreads ridicule as keenly as
you do, is a fool, he is an awful one! "

Jimmie looked so worried that I was going
on, but Bee interrupted me.

" I hereby serve notice on all of you that I
have stood all I am going to from those two.
I can bear up under real tribulation," here she
looked at Lyddy and Bob grinned cheerfully,



Dr. Bragg Plays His Part 263

" but I cannot and will not submit to the soci
ety of the underbred."

" Right you are, Bee, me darlin ," said Bob,
" only Dr. Bragg isn t underbred, he is under
done. He is raw! "


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