She stood poised for a second, head thrown back, arms flung wide—a small figure of Victory, caught in the flying wind.
And, “Contact, Jerry!” she called joyously into the darkness. “Contact!”
There was a mighty whirring, a thunder and a roaring above the storm. She stood listening breathlessly to it rise and swell—and then grow fainter—fainter still—dying, dying—dying—
But Janie, her small white face turned to the storm-swept sky behind which shone the stars, was smiling radiantly. For she had sped her wanderer on his way—she had not failed him!
BY F. SCOTT FITZGERALD
From The Saturday Evening Post
The restless, wearied eye of the tired magazine reader resting for a critical second on the above title will judge it to be merely metaphorical. Stories about the cup and the lip and the bad penny and the new broom rarely have anything to do with cups and lips and pennies and brooms. This story is the great exception. It has to do with an actual, material, visible and large-as-life camel’s back.
Starting from the neck we shall work tailward. Meet Mr. Perry Parkhurst, twenty-eight, lawyer, native of Toledo. Perry has nice teeth, a Harvard education, and parts his hair in the middle. You have met him before—in Cleveland, Portland, St. Paul, Indianapolis, Kansas City and elsewhere. Baker Brothers, New York, pause on their semi-annual trip through the West to clothe him; Montmorency & Co., dispatch a young man posthaste every three months to see that he has the correct number of little punctures on his shoes. He has a domestic roadster now, will have a French roadster if he lives long enough, and doubtless a Chinese one if it comes into fashion. He looks like the advertisement of the young man rubbing his sunset-coloured chest with liniment, goes East every year to the Harvard reunion—does everything—smokes a little too much—Oh, you’ve seen him.
Meet his girl. Her name is Betty Medill, and she would take well in the movies. Her father gives her two hundred a month to dress on and she has tawny eyes and hair, and feather fans of three colours. Meet her father, Cyrus Medill. Though he is to all appearances flesh and blood he is, strange to say, commonly known in Toledo as the Aluminum Man. But when he sits in his club window with two or three Iron Men and the White Pine Man and the Brass Man they look very much as you and I do, only more so, if you know what I mean.
Meet the camel’s back—or no—don’t meet the camel’s back yet. Meet the story.
During the Christmas holidays of 1919, the first real Christmas holidays since the war, there took place in Toledo, counting only the people with the italicized the, forty-one dinner parties, sixteen dances, six luncheons male and female, eleven luncheons female, twelve teas, four stag dinners, two weddings and thirteen bridge parties. It was the cumulative effect of all this that moved Perry Parkhurst on the twenty-ninth day of December to a desperate decision.