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even let me order one ! "

" Well, you are going to have one right
now," said the Gibson Man, earnestly. " And
I ll join you, just to show that I approve your
taste ! "



88 The Concentrations of Bee

The girl s face brightened and the chaperon
looked appreciatively at the Gibson Man.

" I think that was lovely of him," I mur
mured to Aubrey, but Aubrey only smiled as he
handed me the sauce tartare. But Bee, for
some inexplicable reason, blushed.

" How would broiled Spanish mackerel
do?" suggested the Family Man.

" I adore planked shad all but the bones,"
said the Woman in Pink. " But I ll go in for
the mackerel if the girls want it."

It was finally decided to order bluefish.

The waiter stood on the other foot.

"Any wine, sir?" he suggested deferen
tially. " I might be ordering it, sir."

"May they have champagne?" asked the
Gibson Man in a low tone. As the Woman
in Pink hesitated, he murmured, " Why deny
yourself everything, just because you are the
chaperon ? "

At this she weakened and he wrote down a
champagne. The waiter took on a new lease
of life as he trotted away to fill the order.

" What do girls like for meat? " asked the
Family Man, an eagerness for food beginning
to glitter in his eye. Aubrey glanced at him
sympathetically as our waiter deftly slipped
portions of peas to keep company with the
broiled chicken on our plates.



What Happened at Sherry s 89

" Oh, are rice birds in season ? " exclaimed
the Girl in Blue.

" Rice birds ? " exclaimed the Family Man
involuntarily.

" I am afraid they are not in season," said
the Gibson Man evenly. " How would quail
do or snipe ? "

" Could I have roast beef? " demanded the
Family Man.

" We might all have it after the birds," sug
gested the Woman in Pink.

That remark alone showed that she was
married. Such tact in catering to a man s ap
petite does not go, as a rule, with the spinster
estate.

" Quail, then," decided the Girl in White,
" and instead of roast beef for me, chicken in
those queer things you know all stewed
up with an odd tasting sauce and cooked in a
queer sort of bowl what do you call em ? "

" Chicken en casserole," translated the
chaperon.

The Gibson Man wrote patiently and the
waiter suggested serving the champagne.

The Gibson Man looked up inquiringly, and
moved by the thirsty appeal in the eyes of the
two men, the Woman in Pink said :

" Yes, do let him ! " and then bit her lip to
keep from laughing. " But first send him



90 The Concentrations of Bee

along with as much of the order as has been
decided on, for Heaven s sake ! " she added.
The waiter was accordingly dispatched. The
lines of anguish smoothed a trifle from his
brow, and he started on a trot.

The Girl in White had been studying her
menu. Suddenly she put out her hand.

" Oh, wait ! Has he gone ? Call him back !
I want to change my order. I see something
here that I would like much better than quail
I "

The chaperon reared her crest.

" It s too late now, dear! " she said evenly.
" Keep that for another time. I ll bring you
here some day for luncheon and then we ll
come early and take simply hours to decide! "

" Oh, you love ! " cried the Girl in White,
reaching out and pressing her hand ecstatic
ally.

The waiter came hurrying back with the
oysters and clams. He was plainly nervous.
It was already half past eight and we were
having our salad.

Take those clams away ! " cried the Fam
ily Man rudely. " I said oysters. Can t you
remember a little thing like that ? You ve had
time enough to learn the order by heart ! "

" I beg pardon," said the unfortunate menial
humbly.



What Happened at Sherry s 91

The man fairly gobbled his oysters.

" How disgusting of him ! " I murmured to
Aubrey.

" Not in the least," he answered me. " The
fellow may be uncouth, but he has my sympa
thy. He had his cocktail exactly fifty minutes
ago and they have been talking food ever
since. At present I am wracked with anxiety
to know whether they will decide on hot or
cold artichokes, or whether it will be aspara
gus. Listen ! "

We listened. We couldn t help it. This
was better than a one-act play and we didn t
care if we missed the curtain raiser.

" Would you like cheese with your salad, or
after the sweets? " asked the Gibson Man, and
his tone was as courteous as it had been when
they began to order just an hour before.

" I d like it after," said the Girl in White.

" And you? " he asked the men.

" With ! " snapped the Family Man. " May
that fool bring the soup ? "

At a sign the waiter sprang forward. The
girls were still toying with their clams.

"Oh, wait a minute! Don t hurry us!"
cried the Girl in Blue. " Aren t these clams
perfect darlings! "

" I wish I were a clam! " sighed the Silly
Ass.



92 The Concentrations of Bee

" So do I ! " growled the Family Man.
" I d eat one your size with pleasure! "

" Oh, I hope you aren t as hungry as that ! "
cried the Girl in White. " Have I been slow
in ordering? You see I have had no experi
ence. And it has been such fun ! "

" You have not been too slow ! " lied the
Gibson Man nobly. " Just tell me what sort
of an ice you like, and then we are through
with this part."

" Oh, anything very sweet and rich and
done up in cute little paper boxes ! " cried the
Girl in Blue.

For the first time the Gibson Man looked
helpless. He shot a glance of appeal at
the waiter, who bent and murmured in his
ear.

" Nesselrode pudding might please her taste,
sir!"

"Hold your tongue!" cried the Family
Man. " Don t suggest a thing until your help
is asked. The officiousness of some of these
waiters is insufferable f "

" I wished him to translate," said the Gib
son Man coldly. The Woman in Pink sent
the Family Man as settling a glance as if she
had been his wife. Evidently he understood
the quality of it, for he shrank visibly.

Aubrey carefully took the sugar from his



What Happened at Sherry s 93

coffee cup before the waiter could pour his
coffee.

" That woman is masterly in her manage
ment of men," he observed to me. " I like her
generalship."

" Oh, couldn t I have a Peche Melba instead
of a nesselrode pudding?" asked the Girl in
White. " My sister had one once and she
said it was the best thing she ever tasted. She
told me to be sure to try one the very first
chance I got. May I ? "

" Most certainly. And now with coffee that
will do!"

The Gibson Man handed the waiter the pad
and leaned back in his chair. He managed to
look at his watch. It was ten minutes to nine
and the waiter was bringing us our bill.

The Woman in Pink touched the Gibson
Man s arm with her fan.

" I think it was very nice of you," she said.
" It is so difficult to please everybody, but you
seem to have achieved it."

His face lighted s under her words.

" Thank you," he said. " I hope I have
succeeded."

We rose to go, and the last thing we heard
as we passed out was the voice of the Girl in
White:

" Oh, do call the waiter back ! I ve seen



94 The Concentrations of Bee

something here I d so much rather have
than "

As we passed their table, I was rendered
speechless by seeing Aubrey bow to the Gibson
Man, and as I stepped off of Bee s train, after
she had shot me a look such as I hope she used
to give James, I saw that it was Laflin Van
Tassel.

Then the secret of Bee s silence and blush
was out.

" Did you know who it was all the time? "
I whispered.

" Of course. Didn t you see Aubrey bow? "

" No, I didn t. I don t know what I could
have been about," I said regretfully.

You were looking at the menu, dear,"
said the Angel. " He waited as long as he
could to bow to you, but finally gave it up. He
sat with his back to you."

" I never should have known him," I de
clared. " He is as handsome as the Hermes ! "

Bee was walking at my side in an unusua 1
silence. Aubrey was smiling.

" By the way, Bee, how is Hope? " he said
suddenly.

" She is very well and terribly busy with
the last of her trousseau."

Aubrey managed to whisper to me.

" Bee must have learned from Hope that




What Happened at Sherry s 95

Laflin was dining here to-night. Don t start!
She ll see you! "

" I wonder who that woman with him is,"
said Bee.

I looked at her, but she seemed unaware
that her observation was at all illuminating.
Suddenly she looked up at me :

" Do you see now what he means by pa
tience with the little things of life? " said Bee.
" Weren t those girls enough to drive any
sensible man insane?"

"Do you see him often?" I asked irrele
vantly.

She looked at me in surprise.

" I don t know him at all," she said with a
note of regret in her voice I was not slow to
observe. It seemed strange to know that Bee
wanted anything she couldn t get.

" I had only seen his photograph," she
added. " They are all very proud of him."

I at once began to wonder if we couldn t
ask him on one of our Happy Family excur
sions. If not, I knew what I could do. Ask
him to dinner!

But Bee ! To think of it.

Well, as usual, she had selected her victim
with unerring judgment.

I looked at her critically and was glad that
she had at least got as far as mauve.



CHAPTER VII

BOB S ENGAGEMENT

OUR apartment backs up to a theatrical
boarding house and from our win
dows we can see literally into the
lives of that busy hive of people, everyone of
whom " does something."

We can hear certain things also. There is
a pathetic little hunchback on the third floor
east who plays the cello so that he makes me
shiver with joy. Into the low, vibrating tones
of that instrument he pours out all his emo
tions, all that he longs for, all that he has
missed in life through his infirmity, all that
he has hoped to achieve. We know more of
that man s inner life than he dreams. He loves
the sound of our big organ too, for whenever
the windows are open on mild evenings, he
comes and listens.

Then there is the Nice Girl on the fourth
floor. I call her the nice girl, although she is
so pretty she might well be called a beauty,
because everything she does is so self-respect
ing yet so pathetic. We can look down into
96



Bob s Engagement 97

her room but can only see her when she comes
close to the windows.

She must be bitterly poor, for sometimes she
will not go down to her meals for a day or
two at a time. She must creep out after dark
and buy bread and milk and the like, because
we can see her heating things in a tin cup over
the gas jet by the window, and her bottle of
milk stands out on the ledge every day.

Then she has regular laundry days when
on a line strung across her room she hangs
up things to dry, and she irons her handker
chiefs by pasting them on the window panes
while they are wet.

I mention these things, not because they are
interesting in themselves, but because they
become so, when done by a girl so pretty and
graceful and dainty as my nice girl seems.
She folds everything with such neatness. She
brushes her skirts and her long lovely hair
with equal regularity and care. She goes
down into the tiny backyard with a container
of gasoline and washes her white serge things
and re-trims her two hats until you would
think she had six, and every day she emerges
with such an air of freshness that if we
couldn t see all these things, we would imag
ine her to be in the flower of prosperity.

Now and then we meet her at the entrance



98 The Concentrations of Bee

to the Subway, and I am always looking for an
opportunity to speak to her, because I am anx
ious to know her well enough to ask her to
dinner. She would never know that our wish
for her society was largely augmented by the
sight of the wretched little tin cups held over
the gas jet.

" If only I could rig up a little pulley from
our window to hers," I said to Aubrey, " how
sweet it would be to pack a small basket with
tiny dabs of the nice things left over, which
are always too good to throw away and send it
whizzing down to her window."

" You ve always regretted that we didn t
have a cat to eat up the left overs," said Au
brey. " You hate to waste food."

" It isn t that," I said wistfully. " I do
really feel as if it would be so nice to help a
sweet, high spirited girl like that. I tell you,
Aubrey, New York has thousands of girls in
it, who are starving along just as this girl is,
yet who never complain. Did you ever think
of it?"

" Many a time. And I respect them for
their reticence. They all have hard luck
stories, but they never tell them."

" Hard luck stories are most impressive
when they are not told, I have observed," I
said, and Aubrey nodded.



Bob s Engagement 99

" She ought to marry a rich man, if things
went right in this world which they never
do, except in your stories," I added.

We had been in our apartment over a
month, but as yet Bob Mygatt had not been
to see either us or it. We had several times
been out with him in Jimmie s motor, but in
some way he had been prevented from com
ing to us, so that when the Angel said pres
ently he had to work on his play to-night, but
that Bob had said he was coming up, I was
both surprised and pleased, for I was anxious
to hear the details of his engagement, and
something told me that this was to be my op
portunity.

And so it proved, for no sooner had Aubrey
apologized and gone into Munson s empty
studio to work, than Bob leaned his elbows on
his knees, dropped his face in his hands and
said:

" Well, Highness, I want to tell you the
whole thing and get your advice ! "

" I am at your service, Bob, and very much
interested, as you must know," I answered.

" I do know," he returned gratefully, rais
ing his head and looking at me with those
eyes of his, in a way that made me obliged in
stantly to recall the fact that he always looked



IOO The Concentrations of Bee

at Lyddy in the same way, as well as that I
was married.

" Well, if you knew her you would un
derstand the whole thing without a word.
I ve loved her for two years and I believe she
loves me, but -

" Get to the point, Bob ! How can I under
stand anything when you wander on like that.
Take for granted that I know you are dead in
love with each other and get on, do ! "

Bob grinned.

" You are a tonic, ladybird," he said. Oh,
how wild it does make Aubrey and Jimmie to
hear Bob call any of us those names! But
you can no more prevent Bob s doing it than
you can prevent the wind from blowing. They
belong to his Irish tongue as though they had
grown there.

" Well ! Ava, as I told you, is a walking
conscience. She has Ideals. She does Right.
And she holds no converse with Wrong. As
you know, she has a voice like a nightingale,
but she can no more act than a milking stool,
and it shows how much I love her when I tell
you that, knowing she might ruin my piece, I
still stipulated that she should sing the part
of Allie Gayter, when I signed the contract."

He paused for my applause and I gave it.

" That was fine of you, Bob," I said, and he



Bob s Engagement 101

beamed. " But I really don t see how you
could very well have done any less ! "

He looked surprised and a trifle dashed.

" Because marriage is a partnership and you
have got to do things like that all your life.
One can t soar off and leave the other to
grovel. The soarer must haul the laggard
along."

" True ! " he said and sighed. It apparently
was new to this man, whom women had always
spoiled, to do generous and unselfish things,
and it was still more disquieting to realize that
he must continue to do them and to see them
taken as a matter of course.

" Well, she learned the part and came on to
New York last month to rehearse. She lives
just back of you in the

" Is she tall and willowy, with blue eyes
and light brown hair, and does she live in a
back room on the fourth floor ? " I cried with
pardonable excitement.

Bob looked up in surprise.

" Why, of course. You can see right down
into her windows, can t you? " he said. " Let s
look."

We flew to the big studio window, opened
the door of it and leaned out. I felt no fear
of catching her in an embarrassing negligee
because, from the precautions she always took,



IO2 The Concentrations of Bee

I knew that she was aware of the outlook from
the five upper floors of our big building.

" Listen ! " he said quickly. " She is sing-
ing!"

Then there rose on the still, cool night the
sounds of the Intermezzo from the Cavaleria
Rusticana played on the cello of the little
hunchback, and Ava was singing the Ave
Maria to it, in a voice of such sweetness and
purity that I caught my breath in delighted
surprise.

We listened until the end came and then
hopefully waited for more, but evidently some
one else below us was listening also, for a
foolish hand clapping arose and then came the
sound of a window closing.

Bob turned away.

" That ends it. She will sing no more.
Wouldn t you think any fool would know bet
ter than to applaud music like that, expecting
to get more? Now if it had been rag time
and they had clapped, they would have had
another. But Ava singing that Ave Maria!
Who was that playing? "

" It was a poor, pathetic looking little
hunchback, whose room is just under hers," I
replied.

" I know. I ve heard her rave about him.



Bob s Engagement 103

She says his music gets into her heart. I m
glad he is a hunchback ! "

" Bob ! " I expostulated.

" You know what I mean ! I mean I m glad
she couldn t possibly fall in love with him."

" She could if she wanted to," I said cruelly.
" He is not objectionable to look at and his
face is perfectly beautiful."

" Ava likes tall men," said Bob straighten
ing himself.

"I I wish you would bring her to see
me," I said, diffidently, not wishing to tell Bob
of the poverty which she evidently had con
cealed from him.

" I don t know whether I have any influence
with her now," he said gloomily.

" Well," I said patiently, " if you would
ever get on with your story, I might know
what you are talking about."

" It s not much when all told. Simply that
the manager wanted me to introduce more
lyrics into my piece you know The Alliga
tor Pear Tree is one of these farce comedy
things with songs interpolated. Well, I
couldn t seem to suit them with anything of
my own, so I had some songs sent in from
aspiring young authors, and two of them were
rotten in themselves, but they gave me just



104 The Concentrations of Bee

the idea I wanted. So I sent the songs back
and wrote some new lyrics, with different
metre and rhymes and all that, so that it was
practically my stuff, and ran them in. The
manager liked them and everything went all
right till Ava looked them over. Then she
refused to sing them. She knew I had sent
back the songs and she kicked up a sort of
a fuss about that got kind o maudlin over
the disappointment it would be to the author
to see em come home to roost. But when she
found that I had used the same idea, although
she realized that it was in a different form,
there was simply the devil to pay. You d have
thought that she had discovered that I had
slain my aged grandmother and walled up her
remains. She said things until I got mad and
left the rehearsal."

" Did she ask you to take them out?"

" No. She asked me to pay the other fel
low for the use of his brains ! "

" Then what did she do when you re
fused?"

" She resigned her part. Actually gave up
for a scruple, the thing she has wanted to do all
her life!"

I knew now why she was cooking things
over her gas jet.

" Well, what are you going to do? " I asked.



Bob s Engagement 105

" I don t know. You tell me ! "

" I can t advise you until I know which
you care most to keep your love or your
pride."

" I want the girl. I want my Ava ! "

" Then buy those songs and write her that
you have paid for them. Can she still have the
part if she should want it?"

" Yes, I think so. The rehearsals have been
awfully interrupted and delayed. And they
don t find it easy to get anyone with the pecul
iar high voice that some of the songs need.
You see I wrote them especially to exploit her
voice."

" Then act at once and see what comes of
it."

" Is that your advice? Can t you think of
any other way? "

" No, and it will be good for you, Bobbie,
to have to choke down just that unpalatable
piece of humble pie. You know you are pretty
badly spoiled and you wear a haughty crest."

"Can t you think of anything else? Any
thing quite different? "

" Yes, one thing radically different," I said.

" What is it? " he said brightening.

" Marry Lyddy ! " I cried, laughing. " Why,
Bob, you are actually blushing! How
funny!"



106 The Concentrations of Bee

" I ll think over your advice," he said, ris
ing and holding out his hand.

"My last?"

" No, your first. Don t disturb the old man.
Tell him I said Good luck to him. I hope
his play will be a success ! "

And with that he was gone.

Two days later I was surprised by a call
from the nice girl.

" You won t think it strange, my coming
this way, will you ? " she said. And as I
hastily reassured her I saw that she was pret
tier than ever at close range.

" Not at all. I ve often wanted to write
you ! " I said smiling.

" Why, can you see me too? " she said go
ing toward the window.

" Can you see us ? " I cried following her.

" Oh, I know quite a good deal about you! "
she said, laughing. " You won t let your hus
band smoke his pipe in your apartment. He
smokes out of the Munsons bathroom win
dow ! "

" When he smokes a vile pipe, he does," I
said firmly. " Now you will stay to lunch
with me so that we can have a good talk, won t
you?"

As we reached the window we both looked
put. Her poor little gas-jet was in plain sight



Bob s Engagement 107

with the tin cup still standing on its little iron
ring. Her face flushed crimson and she
caught her lip between her teeth.

" Thank you, but I have just had my lunch,"
she said proudly. But a quick glance showed
a quivering chin.

I felt the blood go prickly in my veins, for
it was barely twelve o clock. But she turned
away, and as we sat down I could see that she
had conquered her feeling of chagrin and was
herself again.

" I have often wanted to know you, even
before I knew who you were," she began.
Then when a note came from Bob, saying
that you wanted him to bring me to call, I
knew that he had been here and consulted you
about our affairs and that he was acting under
orders."

" Oh, no! " I cried. " I only suggested."

" What did you suggest? "

" I suggested that he marry another
woman ! "

She laughed and flushed a little, delicately.

" And did that have the desired effect ? "
she asked.

" Its flash lighted his pathway for a mo
ment showed him where to step, so to
speak," I answered.

She mused a moment in silence.



lo8 The Concentrations of Bee

" I knew you could understand," she said.
" And as I couldn t I simply couldn t talk
to Bob or to you before him, I decided to come
and see you alone."

As she evidently expected no response, I
made none, and presently she said abruptly,

" What do you think of Bob? "

" Just about what you think, only in a lesser
degree. I am not in love with him, but I rec
ognize his fascination and his faults."

" Exactly. And his faults are terrible. But
after all, I cannot forget the rest. He fas
cinates me with his odd, funny ways and his
frank, open love making until I feel as if

" I know. You feel as if you could almost
follow him through the streets like a dog!
It s odd how such no-account chaps can be so
hypnotic! " I exclaimed.

She laughed delightedly.

"You do understand him!" she cried.
" Now I have no sense of humour, Bob says,
yet I don t agree with him on that point, for
when he sits on the floor at my side and looks
up at me and and says things, I love him
with all my heart, yet I feel the ridiculousness
of his calling me lady bird and highness
and white princess and words that he saves
for me alone. Now isn t that having a sense
of humour? "



Bob s Engagement 109

I simply stared at her a moment. Then I
said vaguely :

"Er what? What did you say ?"

" I asked you if that didn t prove that I had
a sense of humour? Aren t you listening to
me?"

"Have you known Bob Mygatt long?" I
asked.

" Three or four years, off and on," she an
swered.

" In that time have you seen him much in
the company of others ? "

" No, mostly alone. Then I have had
well, I think I must have a ton of letters from
him. He writes as easily as he talks. Why
do you ask ? "

" Because well, because, he he carries
on with others, you know not seriously
but "

" Oh, I know ! You should see him make


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