But it was to T. Cholmondeley Frink that Babbitt most often turned. He caught Frink at the club every noon, and demanded, while Frink looked hunted and evasive, “Say, Chum—you’re a shark on this writing stuff—how would you put this sentence, see here in my manuscript—manuscript now where the deuce is that?—oh, yes, here. Would you say ‘We ought not also to alone think?’ or ’We ought also not to think alone?’ or—”
One evening when his wife was away and he had no one to impress, Babbitt forgot about Style, Order, and the other mysteries, and scrawled off what he really thought about the real-estate business and about himself, and he found the paper written. When he read it to his wife she yearned, “Why, dear, it’s splendid; beautifully written, and so clear and interesting, and such splendid ideas! Why, it’s just—it’s just splendid!”
Next day he cornered Chum Frink and crowed, “Well, old son, I finished it last evening! Just lammed it out! I used to think you writing-guys must have a hard job making up pieces, but Lord, it’s a cinch. Pretty soft for you fellows; you certainly earn your money easy! Some day when I get ready to retire, guess I’ll take to writing and show you boys how to do it. I always used to think I could write better stuff, and more punch and originality, than all this stuff you see printed, and now I’m doggone sure of it!”
He had four copies of the paper typed in black with a gorgeous red title, had them bound in pale blue manilla, and affably presented one to old Ira Runyon, the managing editor of the Advocate-Times, who said yes, indeed yes, he was very glad to have it, and he certainly would read it all through—as soon as he could find time.
Mrs. Babbitt could not go to Monarch. She had a women’s-club meeting. Babbitt said that he was very sorry.
Besides the five official delegates to the convention—Babbitt, Rountree, W. A. Rogers, Alvin Thayer, and Elbert Wing—there were fifty unofficial delegates, most of them with their wives.
They met at the Union Station for the midnight train to Monarch. All of them, save Cecil Rountree, who was such a snob that he never wore badges, displayed celluloid buttons the size of dollars and lettered “We zoom for Zenith.” The official delegates were magnificent with silver and magenta ribbons. Martin Lumsen’s little boy Willy carried a tasseled banner inscribed “Zenith the Zip City—Zeal, Zest and Zowie—1,000,000 in 1935.” As the delegates arrived, not in taxicabs but in the family automobile driven by the oldest son or by Cousin Fred, they formed impromptu processions through the station waiting-room.
It was a new and enormous waiting-room, with marble pilasters, and frescoes depicting the exploration of the Chaloosa River Valley by Pere Emile Fauthoux in 1740. The benches were shelves of ponderous mahogany; the news-stand a marble kiosk with a brass grill. Down the echoing spaces of the hall the delegates paraded after Willy Lumsen’s banner, the men waving their cigars, the women conscious of their new frocks and strings of beads, all singing to the tune of Auld Lang Syne the official City Song, written by Chum Frink: