No matter how beautiful or brilliant a girl may be, the reputation of not being frequently cut in on makes her position at a dance unfortunate. Perhaps boys prefer her company to that of the butterflies with whom they dance a dozen times an but, youth in this jazz-nourished generation is temperamentally restless, and the idea of fox-trotting more than one full fox trot with the same girl is distasteful, not to say odious. When it comes to several dances and the intermissions between she can be quite sure that a young man, once relieved, will never tread on her wayward toes again.
Warren danced the next full dance with Bernice, and finally, thankful for the intermission, he led her to a table on the veranda. Warren stifled a sigh and nodded. It might be for all he knew or cared. He wondered idly whether she was a poor conversationalist because she got no attention or got no attention because she was a poor conversationalist.
She might suspect his reasons for asking. Warren fidgeted. Then with a sudden charitable impulse he decided to try part of his line on her. He turned and looked at her eyes. This was a remark that he sometimes made to girls at college proms when they were talking in just such half dark as this. Bernice distinctly jumped.
She turned an ungraceful red and became clumsy with her fan. No one had ever made such a remark to her before. Too late she decided to be amused, and offered him a flustered smile. Warren was annoyed. Though not accustomed to have that remark taken seriously, still it usually provoked a laugh or a paragraph of sentimental banter.
And he hated to be called fresh, except in a joking way. His charitable impulse died and he switched the topic. Men did not talk to her about kissable mouths, but she knew that they talked in some such way to other girls. But Bernice had had no intention of sneering. She was merely nervous. When Marjorie and Bernice reached home at half after midnight they said good night at the top of the stairs.
Though cousins, they were not intimates. As a matter of fact Marjorie had no female intimates—she considered girls stupid. Bernice on the contrary all through this parent-arranged visit had rather longed to exchange those confidences flavored with giggles and tears that she considered an indispensable factor in all feminine intercourse.
But in this respect she found Marjorie rather cold; felt somehow the same difficulty in talking to her that she had in talking to men. Marjorie never giggled, was never frightened, seldom embarrassed, and in fact had very few of the qualities which Bernice considered appropriately and blessedly feminine.
As Bernice busied herself with tooth-brush and paste this night she wondered for the hundredth time why she never had any attention when she was away from home. That her family were the wealthiest in Eau Claire; that her mother entertained tremendously, gave little diners for her daughter before all dances and bought her a car of her own to drive round in, never occurred to her as factors in her home-town social success. Like most girls she had been brought up on the warm milk prepared by Annie Fellows Johnston and on novels in which the female was beloved because of certain mysterious womanly qualities, always mentioned but never displayed.
Bernice felt a vague pain that she was not at present engaged in being popular. She attributed this to something subtly unscrupulous in those girls. It had never worried her, and if it had her mother would have assured her that the other girls cheapened themselves and that men really respected girls like Bernice. She turned out the light in her bathroom, and on an impulse decided to go in and chat for a moment with her aunt Josephine, whose light was still on.
Her soft slippers bore her noiselessly down the carpeted hall, but hearing voices inside she stopped near the partly openers door. Then she caught her own name, and without any definite intention of eavesdropping lingered—and the thread of the conversation going on inside pierced her consciousness sharply as if it had been drawn through with a needle. So many people have told you how pretty and sweet she is, and how she can cook!
What of it? She has a bum time. When I think of that gorgeous coloring wasted on such a ninny, and think what Martha Carey could do with it—oh! When she was a girl all young ladies who belonged to nice families had glorious times. All unpopular girls think that way.
Sour grapes! Sarah Hopkins refers to Genevieve and Roberta and me as gardenia girls! Good grief! Sometimes she asks them what kind of car they have and tells them the kind she has. Martha Carey, for instance, is stout and loud, and her mother is distinctly common. Roberta Dillon is so thin this year that she looks as though Arizona were the place for her. Indian women all just sat round and never said anything. There was another silence, while Marjorie considered whether or not convincing her mother was worth the trouble.
People over forty can seldom be permanently convinced of anything. At eighteen our convictions are hills from which we look; at forty-five they are caves in which we hide. Having decided this, Marjorie said good night.
When she came out into the hall it was quite empty. While Marjorie was breakfasting late next day Bernice came into the room with a rather formal good morning, sat down opposite, stared intently over and slightly moistened her lips. Marjorie was startled, but she showed only a faintly heightened color and her voice was quite even when she spoke. After an involuntary look of contempt Marjorie dropped her eyes and became very interested in balancing a stray corn-flake on her finger.
No one ever visited me and got such treatment. They stared at each other across the breakfast-table for a moment. An hour later, while Marjorie was in the library absorbed in composing one of those non-committal marvelously elusive letters that only a young girl can write, Bernice reappeared, very red-eyed, and consciously calm. She cast no glance at Marjorie but took a book at random from the shelf and sat down as if to read.
Marjorie seemed absorbed in her letter and continued writing. When the clock showed noon Bernice closed her book with a snap. No use being miserable. Girls like you are responsible for all the tiresome colorless marriages; all those ghastly inefficiencies that pass as feminine qualities. Go or stay, just as you like. Bernice claimed a headache and failed to appear at luncheon.
But when she returned late in the afternoon she found Bernice with a strangely set face waiting for her in her bedroom.
First you have no ease of manner. The more parts of yourself you can afford to forget the more charm you have. And when you go home you ought to have your teeth straightened a little. If she looks like a million dollars she can talk about Russia, ping-pong, or the League of Nations and get away with it. I noticed it when we were dancing together yesterday. And you dance standing up straight instead of bending over a little.
Probably some old lady on the side-line once told you that you looked so dignified that way. Why, those very sad birds. No girl can afford to neglect them. Young boys too shy to talk are the very best conversational practice. Clumsy boys are the best dancing practice. If you can follow them and yet look graceful you can follow a baby tank across a barb-wire sky-scraper. On the following Wednesday evening there was a dinner-dance at the country club. When the guests strolled in Bernice found her place-card with a slight feeling of irritation.
Though at her right sat G. Reece Stoddard, a most desirable and distinguished young bachelor, the all-important left held only Charley Paulson. Charley lacked height, beauty, and social shrewdness, and in her new enlightenment Bernice decided that his only qualification to be her partner was that he had never been stuck with her.
Swallowing her pride she turned to Charley Paulson and plunged. Charley smiled pleasantly. He could not know this had been rehearsed. But Bernice was there to tell him. She added that she wanted to ask his advice, because she had heard he was so critical about girls. Charley, who knew as much about the psychology of women as he did of the mental states of Buddhist contemplatives, felt vaguely flattered. There was a ripple of appreciative laughter, and under cover of it G. It was greeted with a ripple of laughter from the men and a series of quick, intent looks from the girls.
And then as though she had said nothing of wit or moment Bernice turned again to Charley and spoke confidentially in his ear. Two hours later, while Warren McIntyre was standing passively in the stag line abstractedly watching the dancers and wondering whither and with whom Marjorie had disappeared, an unrelated perception began to creep slowly upon him—a perception that Bernice, cousin to Marjorie, had been cut in on several times in the past five minutes.
He closed his eyes, opened them and looked again. Several minutes back she had been dancing with a visiting boy, a matter easily accounted for; a visiting boy would know no better. But now she was dancing with some one else, and there was Charley Paulson headed for her with enthusiastic determination in his eye. Funny—Charley seldom danced with more than three girls an evening. Warren was distinctly surprised when—the exchange having been effected—the man relieved proved to be none ether than G. Reece Stoddard himself.
And G. Reece seemed not at all jubilant at being relieved. Next time Bernice danced near, Warren regarded her intently. Yes, she was pretty, distinctly pretty; and to-night her face seemed really vivacious. She had that look that no woman, however histrionically proficient, can successfully counterfeit—she looked as if she were having a good time. He liked the way she had her hair arranged, wondered if it was brilliantine that made it glisten so. And that dress was becoming—a dark red that set off her shadowy eyes and high coloring.
He remembered that he had thought her pretty when she first came to town, before he had realized that she was dull. Too bad she was dull—dull girls unbearable—certainly pretty though. His thoughts zigzagged back to Marjorie. This disappearance would be like other disappearances. When she reappeared he would demand where she had been—would be told emphatically that it was none of his business.
What a pity she was so sure of him! She basked in the knowledge that no other girl in town interested him; she defied him to fall in love with Genevieve or Roberta. Warren sighed. He looked up. Bernice was again dancing with the visiting boy. Half unconsciously he took a step out from the stag line in her direction, and hesitated. Then he said to himself that it was charity.
He walked toward her—collided suddenly with G. Reece Stoddard. The only trouble was that about midnight I ran short of talk. I had to repeat myself—with different men of course. She snapped out the light, and as they started up the stairs Bernice grasped the banister thankfully. For the first time in her life she had been danced tired. Good night. As Bernice took down her hair she passed the evening before her in review. She had followed instructions exactly. Even when Charley Paulson cut in for the eighth time she had simulated delight and had apparently been both interested and flattered.
She had not talked about the weather or Eau Claire or automobiles or her school, but had confined her conversation to me, you, and us. But a few minutes before she fell asleep a rebellious thought was churning drowsily in her brain—after all, it was she who had done it. Marjorie, to be sure, had given her her conversation, but then Marjorie got much of her conversation out of things she read. Bernice had bought the red dress, though she had never valued it highly before Marjorie dug it out of her trunk—and her own voice had said the words, her own lips had smiled, her own feet had danced.
To Bernice the next week was a revelation. With the feeling that people really enjoyed looking at her and listening to her came the foundation of self-confidence. Of course there were numerous mistakes at first. She did not know, for instance, that Draycott Deyo was studying for the ministry; she was unaware that he had cut in on her because he thought she was a quiet, reserved girl.
Though Draycott Deyo was in the throes of difficulties concerning baptism by immersion and might possibly have seen a connection, it must be admitted that he did not. He considered feminine bathing an immoral subject, and gave her some of his ideas on the depravity of modern society. But to offset that unfortunate occurrence Bernice had several signal successes to her credit.
Little Otis Ormonde pleaded off from a trip East and elected instead to follow her with a puppylike devotion, to the amusement of his crowd and to the irritation of G. Reece Stoddard, several of whose afternoon calls Otis completely ruined by the disgusting tenderness of the glances he bent on Bernice. Hoomes, B. My maid is fairer still; Hungarian air. Howard, W. Burnside's quick step; Burnside quickstep. Ide, E. Ilsley, E. Isaacs, P.
Mabel del mio cor; Mabel waltz. Whisper what thou feelest; O Whisper what thou feelest. Lee's quick march; Robert E. Lee quick march. Hancock's grand march. Daniel Webster; Fune. Jackson, Henry R. McCulloch's grand march. Yo' is. James F. James S. James T. Jerome, M.
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John H. John W. Johnson, Chas. Johnson, J. Joseph E. Joseph H. Joseph L. Judson, J. Keeling, R. Keller, M. Kiesling, S. Kilgour, J. King, A. Klickmann, F. Knight, J. The shepherd's little bell; Op. La Hache, Theod. Lake, J. Lakeman, J. Lampe, J. Lander, S. Lang, G. Lang, W. Leavitt, M. Lenschow, C. What a pal was Mary. Rosecrans' grand march; Gen. Rosecranz's grand march.
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Mademoiselle Addie V. Mademoiselle Mollie R. Madlle Fannie A. Richard H. Mann, Nat. Margaret S. Martin, C. Martin, T. Smith's march; Smith's march.
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Mary T. Marzian, A. Master J. Wilson--that's all. May, T. Mayer, Fr. Maywood, Geo. McEvily, J. McGrath, J. McKeon, Jos. Harding we're all for you. M'elle R. Mera, C. Meyer, Geo. Millard, H. Miller, Jos. Millet, E. Milton G. Miss A. Miss Ann Eliza P. Shuster by J. Miss Annie S. Miss B. Miss Cassie A. Miss D. Miss Ella V. Miss F. Take care. Miss Fanny A. Miss G. Miss Helen M. Miss Irma I. Miss Kate E. Miss Martha J. Miss Mary C.
Miss Rosine M. Miss Sallie H. Miss Sue V. Miss Zuba T. Misses Eva I. Misses Maria W. Misses s. Misses Willianna H. Anna E. Clara M. Molloy, J. Dream Man; Please let me dream some more. Moran, E. More, Z. Clarence T. Edmund C. Clara A. Frank E. Bring my brother back to me!
Isaac M. Mary E. Muller, Ch. Mister railroad man won't you take me back to Alabam'? Neidlinger, W. Nelson, Ed. Nilson, O. Nordendorf, C. Northrop, Theo. Northrup, Theo. Pinafore; Waltz. Ordway, John P. Osborne, G. Osgood, George L. Packard, C. Baird's musical album; Let me dream while life shall linger; Send for mo. Page, L. Pation, Eman. Patrons of E. Patrons of Prof. Pearl A. Where the kisses should be. Pearson, E.
Peter M. Peters, W. Peticolas, C. Petri, J. Petrie, H. Philip P. Pickett, L. Pike, Marshall S. Pitts, W. Pollok B. Porter, Jas. Powell, A. Price, J. Quincy, E. Ramsdell, E. Ranninger, P. Rees V. Reisner, C. Fischer, St. Rice, Edward E. Rich, C. Richard A. Richardson, A. Bragg grand march. Robyn, Alfred G.
He kissed me when he left me. Root, George F. Rose Symbol [i. Rosenberger, J.
Rosey, Geo. Rosier, F. Rosier, R. Rossington, W. Boyle's grand march. Rovere, M. Rutherford, S. Sam S. Hamlet of Broadway. Sawyer, J. Schmidt, F. Quitman's grand march. Dreux funeral march. Give me no man's land; Sinbad. Scott, M. O'Shay; Yankee girl. Scott, R. Shattuck, C. Simmons, e. Skelly, J. Slade, Mary B.
Smith, F. Snow, J. Spaulding, H. Stapells, R. Stephani, C. Stephen C. Sterry, John A. Stewart, C. Stewart, James E. Stimson, F. Strawbridge, H. General Hampton's quickstep. Thomas F. Thomas J. Thomas Q. Thomas, J. Thompson, C. Thompson, H. Thompson, Will L. Tobani, Theo. Toler, J. Tosti, F.