He did go and support the team, and enhance the glory of Zenith, by yelling “Attaboy!” and “Rotten!” He performed the rite scrupulously. He wore a cotton handkerchief about his collar; he became sweaty; he opened his mouth in a wide loose grin; and drank lemon soda out of a bottle. He went to the Game three times a week, for one week. Then he compromised on watching the Advocate-Times bulletin-board. He stood in the thickest and steamiest of the crowd, and as the boy up on the lofty platform recorded the achievements of Big Bill Bostwick, the pitcher, Babbitt remarked to complete strangers, “Pretty nice! Good work!” and hastened back to the office.
He honestly believed that he loved baseball. It is true that he hadn’t, in twenty-five years, himself played any baseball except back-lot catch with Ted—very gentle, and strictly limited to ten minutes. But the game was a custom of his clan, and it gave outlet for the homicidal and sides-taking instincts which Babbitt called “patriotism” and “love of sport.”
As he approached the office he walked faster and faster, muttering, “Guess better hustle.” All about him the city was hustling, for hustling’s sake. Men in motors were hustling to pass one another in the hustling traffic. Men were hustling to catch trolleys, with another trolley a minute behind, and to leap from the trolleys, to gallop across the sidewalk, to hurl themselves into buildings, into hustling express elevators. Men in dairy lunches were hustling to gulp down the food which cooks had hustled to fry. Men in barber shops were snapping, “Jus’ shave me once over. Gotta hustle.” Men were feverishly getting rid of visitors in offices adorned with the signs, “This Is My Busy Day” and “The Lord Created the World in Six Days—You Can Spiel All You Got to Say in Six Minutes.” Men who had made five thousand, year before last, and ten thousand last year, were urging on nerve-yelping bodies and parched brains so that they might make twenty thousand this year; and the men who had broken down immediately after making their twenty thousand dollars were hustling to catch trains, to hustle through the vacations which the hustling doctors had ordered.
Among them Babbitt hustled back to his office, to sit down with nothing much to do except see that the staff looked as though they were hustling.
Every Saturday afternoon he hustled out to his country club and hustled through nine holes of golf as a rest after the week’s hustle.
In Zenith it was as necessary for a Successful Man to belong to a country club as it was to wear a linen collar. Babbitt’s was the Outing Golf and Country Club, a pleasant gray-shingled building with a broad porch, on a daisy-starred cliff above Lake Kennepoose. There was another, the Tonawanda Country Club, to which belonged Charles McKelvey, Horace Updike, and the other rich men who lunched not