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Ted Babbitt, junior in the great East Side High School, had been making hiccup-like sounds of interruption. Verona whirled. Will you kindly not interrupt us when we're talking about serious matters! Are you going to—I want to use the car tonight. May want it myself! I'm going to take it myself! Not a-tall! You and those beastly Jones boys drive like maniacs. The idea of your taking the turn on Chautauqua Place at forty miles an hour! You're so darn scared of the car that you drive up-hill with the emergency brake on! And you—Always talking about how much you know about motors, and Eunice Littlefield told me you said the battery fed the generator!
He was a natural mechanic, a maker and tinkerer of machines; he lisped in blueprints for the blueprints came. Let me tell you there isn't a private school in the state that's got as swell a bunch as we got in Gamma Digamma this year. There's two fellows that their dads are millionaires. Say, gee, I ought to have a car of my own, like lots of the fellows. Don't you want a yacht, and a house and lot?
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That pretty nearly takes the cake! A boy that can't pass his Latin examinations, like any other boy ought to, and he expects me to give him a motor-car, and I suppose a chauffeur, and an areoplane maybe, as a reward for the hard work he puts in going to the movies with Eunice Littlefield!
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Somewhat later, after diplomacies, Ted persuaded Verona to admit that she was merely going to the Armory, that evening, to see the dog and cat show. She was then, Ted planned, to park the car in front of the candy-store across from the Armory and he would pick it up. There were masterly arrangements regarding leaving the key, and having the gasoline tank filled; and passionately, devotees of the Great God Motor, they hymned the patch on the spare inner-tube, and the lost jack-handle.
Ted balanced over to the low beveled mirror in the buffet, regarded his charms, and smirked. His suit, the latest thing in Old Eli Togs, was skin-tight, with skimpy trousers to the tops of his glaring tan boots, a chorus-man waistline, pattern of an agitated check, and across the back a belt which belted nothing. His scarf was an enormous black silk wad. His flaxen hair was ice-smooth, pasted back without parting. When he went to school he would add a cap with a long vizor like a shovel-blade.
Proudest of all was his waistcoat, saved for, begged for, plotted for; a real Fancy Vest of fawn with polka dots of a decayed red, the points astoundingly long. On the lower edge of it he wore a high-school button, a class button, and a fraternity pin. And none of it mattered. He was supple and swift and flushed; his eyes which he believed to be cynical were candidly eager. But he was not over-gentle. And while you're admiring yourself, let me tell you it might add to your manly beauty if you wiped some of that egg off your mouth!
Verona giggled, momentary victor in the greatest of Great Wars, which is the family war. I don't pretend to be any baa-lamb, and maybe I'm a little cross-grained at breakfast sometimes, but the way they go on jab-jab-jabbering, I simply can't stand it. I swear, I feel like going off some place where I can get a little peace.
I do think after a man's spent his lifetime trying to give his kids a chance and a decent education, it's pretty discouraging to hear them all the time scrapping like a bunch of hyenas and never—and never—Curious; here in the paper it says—Never silent for one mom—Seen the morning paper yet? Terrible big tornado in the South.
Hard luck, all right.
But this, say, this is corking! Beginning of the end for those fellows! New York Assembly has passed some bills that ought to completely outlaw the socialists! And there's an elevator-runners' strike in New York and a lot of college boys are taking their places. That's the stuff! And a mass-meeting in Birmingham's demanded that this Mick agitator, this fellow De Valera, be deported. Dead right, by golly!
All these agitators paid with German gold anyway.
And we got no business interfering with the Irish or any other foreign government. Keep our hands strictly off.
And there's another well-authenticated rumor from Russia that Lenin is dead. That's fine.
It's beyond me why we don't just step in there and kick those Bolshevik cusses out. What do you think of that!
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He searched for an attitude, but neither as a Republican, a Presbyterian, an Elk, nor a real-estate broker did he have any doctrine about preacher-mayors laid down for him, so he grunted and went on. She looked sympathetic and did not hear a word. Later she would read the headlines, the society columns, and the department-store advertisements. Charley McKelvey still doing the sassiety stunt as heavy as ever.
Never is Society with the big, big S more flattered than when they are bidden to partake of good cheer at the distinguished and hospitable residence of Mr.
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Charles L. McKelvey as they were last night. Set in its spacious lawns and landscaping, one of the notable sights crowning Royal Ridge, but merry and homelike despite its mighty stone walls and its vast rooms famed for their decoration, their home was thrown open last night for a dance in honor of Mrs.
McKelvey's notable guest, Miss J. Sneeth of Washington.
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The wide hall is so generous in its proportions that it made a perfect ballroom, its hardwood floor reflecting the charming pageant above its polished surface. Even the delights of dancing paled before the alluring opportunities for tete-a-tetes that invited the soul to loaf in the long library before the baronial fireplace, or in the drawing-room with its deep comfy armchairs, its shaded lamps just made for a sly whisper of pretty nothings all a deux; or even in the billiard room where one could take a cue and show a prowess at still another game than that sponsored by Cupid and Terpsichore.
There was more, a great deal more, in the best urban journalistic style of Miss Elnora Pearl Bates, the popular society editor of the Advocate-Times. But Babbitt could not abide it. He grunted. He wrinkled the newspaper. I'm willing to hand a lot of credit to Charley McKelvey. When we were in college together, he was just as hard up as any of us, and he's made a million good bucks out of contracting and hasn't been any dishonester or bought any more city councils than was necessary.
And that's a good house of his—though it ain't any 'mighty stone walls' and it ain't worth the ninety thousand it cost him. But when it comes to talking as though Charley McKelvey and all that booze-hoisting set of his are any blooming bunch of of, of Vanderbilts, why, it makes me tired! Timidly from Mrs. It must be lovely. I've never been inside. Lots of—couple of times. To see Chaz about business deals, in the evening. It's not so much. I wouldn't WANT to go there to dinner with that gang of, of high-binders.