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Babbit eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 351 pages of information about Babbit.

Every one giggled at this naughtiness.  In a pleased way Eddie Swanson stated that he would have a physician analyze his coffee daily.  The others were diverted to a discussion of the more agreeable recent murders, but Babbitt drew Louetta back to personal things: 

“That’s the prettiest dress I ever saw in my life.”

“Do you honestly like it?”

“Like it?  Why, say, I’m going to have Kenneth Escott put a piece in the paper saying that the swellest dressed woman in the U. S. is Mrs. E. Louetta Swanson.”

“Now, you stop teasing me!” But she beamed.  “Let’s dance a little.  George, you’ve got to dance with me.”

Even as he protested, “Oh, you know what a rotten dancer I am!” he was lumbering to his feet.

“I’ll teach you.  I can teach anybody.”

Her eyes were moist, her voice was jagged with excitement.  He was convinced that he had won her.  He clasped her, conscious of her smooth warmth, and solemnly he circled in a heavy version of the one-step.  He bumped into only one or two people.  “Gosh, I’m not doing so bad; hittin’ ’em up like a regular stage dancer!” he gloated; and she answered busily, “Yes—­yes—­I told you I could teach anybody—­don’t take such long steps!”

For a moment he was robbed of confidence; with fearful concentration he sought to keep time to the music.  But he was enveloped again by her enchantment.  “She’s got to like me; I’ll make her!” he vowed.  He tried to kiss the lock beside her ear.  She mechanically moved her head to avoid it, and mechanically she murmured, “Don’t!”

For a moment he hated her, but after the moment he was as urgent as ever.  He danced with Mrs. Orville Jones, but he watched Louetta swooping down the length of the room with her husband.  “Careful!  You’re getting foolish!” he cautioned himself, the while he hopped and bent his solid knees in dalliance with Mrs. Jones, and to that worthy lady rumbled, “Gee, it’s hot!” Without reason, he thought of Paul in that shadowy place where men never dance.  “I’m crazy to-night; better go home,” he worried, but he left Mrs. Jones and dashed to Louetta’s lovely side, demanding, “The next is mine.”

“Oh, I’m so hot; I’m not going to dance this one.”

“Then,” boldly, “come out and sit on the porch and get all nice and cool.”

“Well—­”

In the tender darkness, with the clamor in the house behind them, he resolutely took her hand.  She squeezed his once, then relaxed.

“Louetta!  I think you’re the nicest thing I know!”

“Well, I think you’re very nice.”

“Do you?  You got to like me!  I’m so lonely!”

“Oh, you’ll be all right when your wife comes home.”

“No, I’m always lonely.”

She clasped her hands under her chin, so that he dared not touch her.  He sighed: 

“When I feel punk and—­” He was about to bring in the tragedy of Paul, but that was too sacred even for the diplomacy of love. “—­when I get tired out at the office and everything, I like to look across the street and think of you.  Do you know I dreamed of you, one time!”

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