Babbit eBook

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

As he walked through the train, looking for familiar faces, he saw only one person whom he knew, and that was Seneca Doane, the lawyer who, after the blessings of being in Babbitt’s own class at college and of becoming a corporation-counsel, had turned crank, had headed farmer-labor tickets and fraternized with admitted socialists.  Though he was in rebellion, naturally Babbitt did not care to be seen talking with such a fanatic, but in all the Pullmans he could find no other acquaintance, and reluctantly he halted.  Seneca Doane was a slight, thin-haired man, rather like Chum Frink except that he hadn’t Frink’s grin.  He was reading a book called “The Way of All Flesh.”  It looked religious to Babbitt, and he wondered if Doane could possibly have been converted and turned decent and patriotic.

“Why, hello, Doane,” he said.

Doane looked up.  His voice was curiously kind.  “Oh!  How do, Babbitt.”

“Been away, eh?”

“Yes, I’ve been in Washington.”

“Washington, eh?  How’s the old Government making out?”

“It’s—­Won’t you sit down?”

“Thanks.  Don’t care if I do.  Well, well!  Been quite a while since I’ve had a good chance to talk to you, Doane.  I was, uh—­Sorry you didn’t turn up at the last class-dinner.”

“Oh-thanks.”

“How’s the unions coming?  Going to run for mayor again?” Doane seemed restless.  He was fingering the pages of his book.  He said “I might” as though it didn’t mean anything in particular, and he smiled.

Babbitt liked that smile, and hunted for conversation:  “Saw a bang-up cabaret in New York:  the ‘Good-Morning Cutie’ bunch at the Hotel Minton.”

“Yes, they’re pretty girls.  I danced there one evening.”

“Oh.  Like dancing?”

“Naturally.  I like dancing and pretty women and good food better than anything else in the world.  Most men do.”

“But gosh, Doane, I thought you fellows wanted to take all the good eats and everything away from us.”

“No.  Not at all.  What I’d like to see is the meetings of the Garment Workers held at the Ritz, with a dance afterward.  Isn’t that reasonable?”

“Yuh, might be good idea, all right.  Well—­Shame I haven’t seen more of you, recent years.  Oh, say, hope you haven’t held it against me, my bucking you as mayor, going on the stump for Prout.  You see, I’m an organization Republican, and I kind of felt—­”

“There’s no reason why you shouldn’t fight me.  I have no doubt you’re good for the Organization.  I remember—­in college you were an unusually liberal, sensitive chap.  I can still recall your saying to me that you were going to be a lawyer, and take the cases of the poor for nothing, and fight the rich.  And I remember I said I was going to be one of the rich myself, and buy paintings and live at Newport.  I’m sure you inspired us all.”

“Well....  Well....  I’ve always aimed to be liberal.”  Babbitt was enormously shy and proud and self-conscious; he tried to look like the boy he had been a quarter-century ago, and he shone upon his old friend Seneca Doane as he rumbled, “Trouble with a lot of these fellows, even the live wires and some of ’em that think they’re forward-looking, is they aren’t broad-minded and liberal.  Now, I always believe in giving the other fellow a chance, and listening to his ideas.”

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Project Gutenberg
Babbit from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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