“So,” Elbert Wing was droning, “I hired this shop-window for a week, and put up a big sign, ‘Toy Town for Tiny Tots,’ and stuck in a lot of doll houses and some dinky little trees, and then down at the bottom, ’Baby Likes This Dollydale, but Papa and Mama Will Prefer Our Beautiful Bungalows,’ and you know, that certainly got folks talking, and first week we sold—”
The trucks sang “lickety-lick, lickety-lick” as the train ran through the factory district. Furnaces spurted flame, and power-hammers were clanging. Red lights, green lights, furious white lights rushed past, and Babbitt was important again, and eager.
He did a voluptuous thing: he had his clothes pressed on the train. In the morning, half an hour before they reached Monarch, the porter came to his berth and whispered, “There’s a drawing-room vacant, sir. I put your suit in there.” In tan autumn overcoat over his pajamas, Babbitt slipped down the green-curtain-lined aisle to the glory of his first private compartment. The porter indicated that he knew Babbitt was used to a man-servant; he held the ends of Babbitt’s trousers, that the beautifully sponged garment might not be soiled, filled the bowl in the private washroom, and waited with a towel.
To have a private washroom was luxurious. However enlivening a Pullman smoking-compartment was by night, even to Babbitt it was depressing in the morning, when it was jammed with fat men in woolen undershirts, every hook filled with wrinkled cottony shirts, the leather seat piled with dingy toilet-kits, and the air nauseating with the smell of soap and toothpaste. Babbitt did not ordinarily think much of privacy, but now he reveled in it, reveled in his valet, and purred with pleasure as he gave the man a tip of a dollar and a half.
He rather hoped that he was being noticed as, in his newly pressed clothes, with the adoring porter carrying his suit-case, he disembarked at Monarch.
He was to share a room at the Hotel Sedgwick with W. A. Rogers, that shrewd, rustic-looking Zenith dealer in farm-lands. Together they had a noble breakfast, with waffles, and coffee not in exiguous cups but in large pots. Babbitt grew expansive, and told Rogers about the art of writing; he gave a bellboy a quarter to fetch a morning newspaper from the lobby, and sent to Tinka a post-card: “Papa wishes you were here to bat round with him.”
The meetings of the convention were held in the ballroom of the Allen House. In an anteroom was the office of the chairman of the executive committee. He was the busiest man in the convention; he was so busy that he got nothing done whatever. He sat at a marquetry table, in a room littered with crumpled paper and, all day long, town-boosters and lobbyists and orators who wished to lead debates came and whispered to him, whereupon he looked vague, and said rapidly, “Yes, yes, that’s a fine idea; we’ll do that,” and instantly forgot all about it, lighted a cigar and forgot that too, while the telephone rang mercilessly and about him men kept beseeching, “Say, Mr. Chairman—say, Mr. Chairman!” without penetrating his exhausted hearing.