She saw Jarvis before the curtain, making a first-night speech.
Bambi fluttered the joy-bringing letter above her head and circled the breakfast-room in a whirl of happiness.
“Good evening, Mrs. New York, and all you people out there! We’re here, Jarvis and I.”
“Well, believe me, that high-brow stuff is on the toboggan.”
“Tell your husband to put you in a play, and I’ll put it on.” “Much obliged, I’ll tell him. Good morning.”
Her tale had the place of honour and was illustrated by James Montgomery Flagg, the supreme desire of every young writer.
“Softlings! Poor softlings!” Jarvis muttered, Bambi’s words coming back to him.
“I have got to do something violent, Ardelia. I am going to jerk the stems off of berries, chop the pits out of cherries, and skin peaches.”
He taught himself to abandon his old introspective habits during these days on the box.
“Professor James Parkhurst, I consider you a colossal failure as an educator,” said Francesca, his daughter, known to friend and family as Bambina, or Bambi for short.
Professor Parkhurst lifted a startled face from his newspaper and surveyed his only child across the breakfast table.
“My dear, what causes this sweeping assertion of my incompetence?”
“I do! I do! Just what did you expect me to do when I grew up?”
“Why, to be happy.”
“That’s the profession you intended me for? Who’s to pay the piper? It’s expensive to be happy and also unlucrative.”
“I have always expected to support you until your husband claimed that privilege.”
“Suppose I want a husband who can’t support me?”
“Dear me, that would be unfortunate. It is the first duty of a husband to support his wife.”
“Old-fashioned husbands, yes—but not modern ones. Lots of men marry to be supported nowadays. How on earth could I support the man I love?”
“You are not without talents, my dear.”
“Talents? You almost said accomplishments! If you were not living in the Pliocene age, Professor James Parkhurst, you would know that accomplishments are a curse—accomplishment is the only thing that counts. I can sing a little, play the piano a little, auction bridge a good deal; I can cook, and sew fancy things. The only thing I can do well is to dance, and no real man wants to be supported by his wife’s toes.”
The Professor smiled mirthlessly. “Is this a general discussion, or are you leading to a specific point, Bambi?” he inquired.
“It’s a specific charge of incompetence against you and me. Why didn’t you teach me something? You know more about mathematics than the man who invented them, and I am not even sure that two and two make four.”