O. Henry Memorial Award Prize Stories of 1920 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 467 pages of information about O. Henry Memorial Award Prize Stories of 1920.
the knees, so that when she walked one caught a glimpse of other slim serpents painted just above her bare ankles.  Wound about her neck was a huge, glittering, cotton-stuffed cobra, and her bracelets were in the form of tiny garter snakes.  Altogether a very charming and beautiful costume—­one that made the more nervous among the older women shrink away from her when she passed, and the more troublesome ones to make great talk about “shouldn’t be allowed” and “perfectly disgraceful.”

But Perry, peering through the uncertain eyes of the camel, saw only her face, radiant, animated and glowing with excitement, and her arms and shoulders, whose mobile, expressive gestures made her always the outstanding figure in any gathering.  He was fascinated and his fascination exercised a strangely sobering effect on him.  With a growing clarity the events of the day came back—­he had lost forever this shimmering princess in emerald green and black.  Rage rose within him, and with a half-formed intention of taking her away from the crowd he started toward her—­or rather he elongated slightly, for he had neglected to issue the preparatory command necessary to locomotion.

But at this point fickle Kismet, who for a day had played with him bitterly and sardonically, decided to reward him in full for the amusement he had afforded her.  Kismet turned the tawny eyes of the snake charmer to the camel.  Kismet led her to lean toward the man beside her and say, “Who’s that?  That camel?”

They all gazed.

“Darned if I know.”

But a little man named Warburton, who knew it all, found it necessary to hazard an opinion: 

“It came in with Mr. Tate.  I think it’s probably Warren Butterfield, the architect, who’s visiting the Tates.”

Something stirred in Betty Medill—­that age-old interest of the provincial girl in the visiting man.

“Oh,” she said casually after a slight pause.

At the end of the next dance Betty and her partner finished up within a few feet of the camel.  With the informal audacity that was the keynote of the evening she reached out and gently rubbed the camel’s nose.

“Hello, old camel.”

The camel stirred uneasily.

“You ’fraid of me?” said Betty, lifting her eyebrows in mock reproof.  “Don’t be.  You see I’m a snake charmer, but I’m pretty good at camels too.”

The camel bowed very low and the groups round laughed and made the obvious remark about the beauty and the beast.

Mrs. Townsend came bustling up.

“Well, Mr. Butterfield,” she beamed, “I wouldn’t have recognized you.”

Perry bowed again and smiled gleefully behind his mask.

“And who is this with you?” she inquired.

“Oh,” said Perry in a disguised voice, muffled by the thick cloth and quite unrecognizable, “he isn’t a fellow, Mrs. Townsend.  He’s just part of my costume.”

This seemed to get by, for Mrs. Townsend laughed and bustled away.  Perry turned again to Betty.

Project Gutenberg
O. Henry Memorial Award Prize Stories of 1920 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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