“I’ll admit a laundry hasn’t got the class of poetry or real estate, but just the same, Orvy is mighty deep. Ever start him spieling about gardening? Say, that fellow can tell you the name of every kind of tree, and some of their Greek and Latin names too! Besides, we owe the Joneses a dinner. Besides, gosh, we got to have some boob for audience, when a bunch of hot-air artists like Frink and Littlefield get going.”
“Well, dear—I meant to speak of this—I do think that as host you ought to sit back and listen, and let your guests have a chance to talk once in a while!”
“Oh, you do, do you! Sure! I talk all the time! And I’m just a business man—oh sure!—I’m no Ph.D. like Littlefield, and no poet, and I haven’t anything to spring! Well, let me tell you, just the other day your darn Chum Frink comes up to me at the club begging to know what I thought about the Springfield school-bond issue. And who told him? I did! You bet your life I told him! Little me! I certainly did! He came up and asked me, and I told him all about it! You bet! And he was darn glad to listen to me and—Duty as a host! I guess I know my duty as a host and let me tell you—”
In fact, the Orville Joneses were invited.
On the morning of the dinner, Mrs. Babbitt was restive.
“Now, George, I want you to be sure and be home early tonight. Remember, you have to dress.”
“Uh-huh. I see by the Advocate that the Presbyterian General Assembly has voted to quit the Interchurch World Movement. That—”
“George! Did you hear what I said? You must be home in time to dress to-night.”
“Dress? Hell! I’m dressed now! Think I’m going down to the office in my B.V.D.’s?”
“I will not have you talking indecently before the children! And you do have to put on your dinner-jacket!”
“I guess you mean my Tux. I tell you, of all the doggone nonsensical nuisances that was ever invented—”
Three minutes later, after Babbitt had wailed, “Well, I don’t know whether I’m going to dress or not” in a manner which showed that he was going to dress, the discussion moved on.
“Now, George, you mustn’t forget to call in at Vecchia’s on the way home and get the ice cream. Their delivery-wagon is broken down, and I don’t want to trust them to send it by—”
“All right! You told me that before breakfast!”
“Well, I don’t want you to forget. I’ll be working my head off all day long, training the girl that’s to help with the dinner—”
“All nonsense, anyway, hiring an extra girl for the feed. Matilda could perfectly well—”
“—and I have to go out and buy the flowers, and fix them, and set the table, and order the salted almonds, and look at the chickens, and arrange for the children to have their supper upstairs and—And I simply must depend on you to go to Vecchia’s for the ice cream.”