“Yuh, old Lucile. Good kid.”
“—she asked me which of the galleries I liked best in Florence. Or was it in Firenze? Never been in Italy in my life! And primitives. Did I like primitives. Do you know what the deuce a primitive is?”
“Me? I should say not! But I know what a discount for cash is.”
“Rather! So do I, by George! But primitives!”
They laughed with the sound of a Boosters’ luncheon.
Sir Gerald’s room was, except for his ponderous and durable English bags, very much like the room of George F. Babbitt; and quite in the manner of Babbitt he disclosed a huge whisky flask, looked proud and hospitable, and chuckled, “Say, when, old chap.”
It was after the third drink that Sir Gerald proclaimed, “How do you Yankees get the notion that writing chaps like Bertrand Shaw and this Wells represent us? The real business England, we think those chaps are traitors. Both our countries have their comic Old Aristocracy—you know, old county families, hunting people and all that sort of thing—and we both have our wretched labor leaders, but we both have a backbone of sound business men who run the whole show.”
“You bet. Here’s to the real guys!”
“I’m with you! Here’s to ourselves!”
It was after the fourth drink that Sir Gerald asked humbly, “What do you think of North Dakota mortgages?” but it was not till after the fifth that Babbitt began to call him “Jerry,” and Sir Gerald confided, “I say, do you mind if I pull off my boots?” and ecstatically stretched his knightly feet, his poor, tired, hot, swollen feet out on the bed.
After the sixth, Babbitt irregularly arose. “Well, I better be hiking along. Jerry, you’re a regular human being! I wish to thunder we’d been better acquainted in Zenith. Lookit. Can’t you come back and stay with me a while?”
“So sorry—must go to New York to-morrow. Most awfully sorry, old boy. I haven’t enjoyed an evening so much since I’ve been in the States. Real talk. Not all this social rot. I’d never have let them give me the beastly title—and I didn’t get it for nothing, eh?—if I’d thought I’d have to talk to women about primitives and polo! Goodish thing to have in Nottingham, though; annoyed the mayor most frightfully when I got it; and of course the missus likes it. But nobody calls me ‘Jerry’ now—” He was almost weeping. “—and nobody in the States has treated me like a friend till to-night! Good-by, old chap, good-by! Thanks awfully!”
“Don’t mention it, Jerry. And remember whenever you get to Zenith, the latch-string is always out.”
“And don’t forget, old boy, if you ever come to Nottingham, Mother and I will be frightfully glad to see you. I shall tell the fellows in Nottingham your ideas about Visions and Real Guys—at our next Rotary Club luncheon.”