Jarvis nodded. He wished he was well out of it. He hated the woman-idol kind of lecturer. Then a stray phrase caught his wandering attention, and he began to listen. The man had the “gift of tongues.” That was evident. This was his last conscious comment. It seemed but a few minutes later that he turned to Bambi, as the lecturer sat down. She sat forward in her chair, with that absorbed responsiveness he had marked in her before. He touched her before she realized that it was time to go.
“That was big, wasn’t it?” she said.
“It was. He is somebody. He gave them real meat instead of pap.”
“And they liked it,” Bambi said, reaching for her furs, her bag, and her umbrella, strewn under the seat in her trance.
“That fellow is all right. He makes you feel that there are fine, big things to be done in the world, and that you must be about it—not to-morrow, but to-day,” Jarvis said, as they pushed their way out.
“I wonder what these women are doing about it?” Bambi speculated.
“Boo!” she scoffed at him.
They strolled, with the strollers, on the avenue. They ate what Jarvis dubbed “a soupcon” of lunch in a tea-shop, and to elude a dribble of rain they betook themselves to the Armory, down on Seventeenth Street, to the much-talked-of International Modern Art Exhibition.
Adam and Eve, the first day in the Garden, could not have been any more dazed than these two young things who had strayed in out of the rain. No sated sensibilities here, prodded by the constant shocks of metropolitan “latest thing,” but fresh, enthusiastic interest was their priceless possession. They wandered aimlessly through several rooms, until they emerged into the Cubist and Futurist sections and stood rooted to the floor with surprise and horror.
“What are these?” Bambi demanded.
“Damaged Goods,” Jarvis laughed, with a rare attempt at a joke.
“Are they serious?”
“Tragic, I should say.”
He looked about with an expression of amusement, but Bambi felt actual, physical nausea at the sight of the vivid blue and orange and purple.
“It’s wicked!” she said, between closed teeth.
“Let’s sit down and try to get the idea,” said Jarvis.
“There isn’t any idea.”
“Oh, yes, there must be. The directors would never get together an acre of these atrocities unless there was some excuse.”
“It’s low and degenerate. It’s a school of hideousness. Come away!”
“You go sit in another room if you like. I am going to give these fellows a fair chance. Maybe they’ve got hold of something new.”
“There is nothing new about that awful woman with a decayed face. She has been dead for weeks.”
“Just put your emotions away, Bambi, and train your mind on this thing. Here is a whole school of men, working in a new medium, along new ideas. They can’t all be crazy, you know.”