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The sidewalks being clear, we dined at the Laurent, giving Miss Lavinia a resurrection of French cooking, manners, women, ogling, ventilation, wine, and music. Then we took her, on the way home, to see some horrible wax figures, listen to a good Hungarian band, and nearly put her eyes out with a cinematograph show of the Coronation and Indian Durbar. Finishing up by brewing French chocolate in the pantry and stirring it with stick bread, and our guest, in her own house, went to bed fairly giggling in Gallic gayety, declaring that she felt as if she had spent the evening on the Paris boulevards, that she liked our New York, and felt ten years younger.
ENTER A MAN
If I weather my fourth day in town I am apt to grow a trifle waspish, even though I may not be goaded to the stinging point. This is especially the case if, as on this recent visit, I am obliged to do any shopping for myself. Personally, I prefer the rapid transit shopping of ordering by mail, it avoids so many complications. Having made up your mind what you need, or perhaps, to speak more truthfully, what you want, for one can hardly be quite content with mere necessities until one grows either so old or shapeless that everything is equally unbecoming, samples are forthcoming, from which an intelligent selection can be made without the demoralizing effect of glib salespeople upon one’s judgment.
I know my own shortcomings by heart, and I should never have deliberately walked into temptation yesterday morning if Lavinia Dorman had not said that she wished my advice. Last year I went with the intention of buying substantial blue serge for an outing gown, and was led astray by some gayly flowered muslins. I have a weakness for gay colours, especially red. These when made up Evan pronounced “extremely pretty—in the abstract”—which is his way of saying that a thing is either unsuitable or very unbecoming. When I went to father, hoping for consolation, he was even less charitable, remarking that he thought now long lines were more suitable and graceful for me than bunches and bowknots. True, the boys admired the most thickly flowered gown immensely for a few minutes, Richard bringing me a posy to match for my hair, while Ian walked about me in silence which he broke suddenly with the trenchant remark—“Barbara, I think your dwess would be prettier if it was weeded some!”
All of which is of course perfectly true. I have not been growing thinner all these six years, but this morning, in stooping over one of the cold frames to see how the plants within had weathered the storm, it came quite as a shock to me to feel that, like Martin Cortright, I am getting stout and in the way of myself when I bend, like an impediment in a door hinge.
However, as Miss Lavinia desired guidance in buying some real country clothes, I felt it my duty to give it. She is already making elaborate preparations for her visit to me. It seems strange, that simplicity is apparently one of the most laborious things in the world to those unaccustomed to it, yet so it is.