“So,” he thought, “this is how much she cares! On the very day of our final rupture she starts a flirtation with another man—an absolute stranger.”
On an impulse he gave her a soft nudge with his shoulder and waved his head suggestively toward the hall, making it clear that he desired her to leave her partner and accompany him. Betty seemed quite willing.
“By-by, Bobby,” she called laughingly to her partner. “This old camel’s got me. Where are we going, Prince of Beasts?”
The noble animal made no rejoinder, but stalked gravely along in the direction of a secluded nook on the side stairs.
There Betty seated herself, and the camel, after some seconds of confusion which included gruff orders and sounds of a heated dispute going on in his interior, placed himself beside her, his hind legs stretching out uncomfortably across two steps.
“Well, camel,” said Betty cheerfully, “how do you like our happy party?”
The camel indicated that he liked it by rolling his head ecstatically and executing a gleeful kick with his hoofs.
“This is the first time that I ever had a tete-a-tete with a man’s valet round”—she pointed to the hind legs—“or whatever that is.”
“Oh,” said Perry, “he’s deaf and blind. Forget about him.”
“That sure is some costume! But I should think you’d feel rather handicapped—you can’t very well shimmy, even if you want to.”
The camel hung his head lugubriously.
“I wish you’d say something,” continued Betty sweetly. “Say you like me, camel. Say you think I’m pretty. Say you’d like to belong to a pretty snake charmer.”
The camel would.
“Will you dance with me, camel?”
The camel would try.
Betty devoted half an hour to the camel. She devoted at least half an hour to all visiting men. It was usually sufficient. When she approached a new man the current debutantes were accustomed to scatter right and left like a close column deploying before a machine gun. And so to Perry Parkhurst was awarded the unique privilege of seeing his love as others saw her. He was flirted with violently!
This paradise of frail foundation was broken into by the sound of a general ingress to the ballroom; the cotillion was beginning. Betty and the camel joined the crowd, her brown hand resting lightly on his shoulder, defiantly symbolizing her complete adoption of him.
When they entered, the couples were already seating themselves at tables round the walls, and Mrs. Townsend, resplendent as a super bareback rider with rather too rotund calves, was standing in the centre with the ringmaster who was in charge of arrangements. At a signal to the band everyone rose and began to dance.
“Isn’t it just slick!” breathed Betty.
“You bet!” said the camel.
“Do you think you can possibly dance?”