The long white trail is calling—calling-and it’s over the hills and far away for every man or woman that has red blood in his veins and on his lips the ancient song of the buccaneers. It’s away with dull drudging, and a fig for care. Speed—glorious Speed—it’s more than just a moment’s exhilaration—it’s Life for you and me! This great new truth the makers of the Zeeco Car have considered as much as price and style. It’s fleet as the antelope, smooth as the glide of a swallow, yet powerful as the charge of a bull-elephant. Class breathes in every line. Listen, brother! You’ll never know what the high art of hiking is till you try life’s ZIPPINGEST zest—the Zeeco!”
“Yes,” Frink mused, “that’s got an elegant color to it, if I do say so, but it ain’t got the originality of ‘spill-of-speech!’” The whole company sighed with sympathy and admiration.
Babbitt was fond of his friends, he loved the importance of being host and shouting, “Certainly, you’re going to have smore chicken—the idea!” and he appreciated the genius of T. Cholmondeley Frink, but the vigor of the cocktails was gone, and the more he ate the less joyful he felt. Then the amity of the dinner was destroyed by the nagging of the Swansons.
In Floral Heights and the other prosperous sections of Zenith, especially in the “young married set,” there were many women who had nothing to do. Though they had few servants, yet with gas stoves, electric ranges and dish-washers and vacuum cleaners, and tiled kitchen walls, their houses were so convenient that they had little housework, and much of their food came from bakeries and delicatessens. They had but two, one, or no children; and despite the myth that the Great War had made work respectable, their husbands objected to their “wasting time and getting a lot of crank ideas” in unpaid social work, and still more to their causing a rumor, by earning money, that they were not adequately supported. They worked perhaps two hours a day, and the rest of the time they ate chocolates, went to the motion-pictures, went window-shopping, went in gossiping twos and threes to card-parties, read magazines, thought timorously of the lovers who never appeared, and accumulated a splendid restlessness which they got rid of by nagging their husbands. The husbands nagged back.
Of these naggers the Swansons were perfect specimens.
Throughout the dinner Eddie Swanson had been complaining, publicly, about his wife’s new frock. It was, he submitted, too short, too low, too immodestly thin, and much too expensive. He appealed to Babbitt:
“Honest, George, what do you think of that rag Louetta went and bought? Don’t you think it’s the limit?”
“What’s eating you, Eddie? I call it a swell little dress.”