“‘Isra,’ he says to me, ’I’ll tell you how to get that money from the bank.’
“‘It can’t be done, Bill,’ I told him. ’The president of the bank showed me that my business was too weak to stand such spread-eagling.
“‘Nonsense!’ says Bill. ’It isn’t your business, it’s your nerve that you’ve got to hire money on—and your clothes. You do what I tell you. Come to my tailor’s in the morning.’
“Well, to cut a long story short, I did it. I rigged up to beat that bank president himself. When he saw me in about two hundred dollars’ worth of good clothes he considered the case again and recommended the loan to his board. ’You put your facts much more lucidly to-day, Mr. Tapp,’ is the way he expressed himself. But take it from me, Lawford, it was my clothes that made the impression.
“So!” ruminated Mr. Tapp, “that is one thing Bill Johnson did for me. And later, as you know, he came into the candy business with me and his money helped make I. Tapp, the Salt Water Taffy King. Lawford, Bill is like a brother to me. His girl, Dorothy, is one of the nicest girls who ever stepped in a slipper.”
“Dorothy Johnson is a really sweet girl, dad,” Lawford agreed. “I like her.”
“There!” ejaculated I. Tapp. “You let that liking become something stronger. Dorothy’s just the girl for you to marry.”
“What?” gasped the skipper of the Merry Andrew, almost losing his grip on the steering wheel.
“You get my meaning,” said his father, scowling. “I’ve always meant you should marry Bill’s daughter. I had your mother write her last night inviting her down here. Of course, your mother and the girls think Bill Johnson’s folks are too plain. But I’m boss once in a while in my own house.”
“And you call mother a matchmaker!”
“I know what I want and I’m going to get it,” said I. Tapp doggedly. “Dorothy is the girl for you. Don’t you get entangled with anybody else. Not a penny of my money will you ever handle if you don’t do as I say, young man!”
“You needn’t holler till you’re hit, dad,” Lawford said, trying to speak carelessly.
“Oh! I sha’n’t holler,” snarled the Taffy King. “I warn you. One such play as that and I’m through with you. I’m willing to support an idle, ne’er-do-well; but he sha’n’t saddle himself with one of those theatrical creatures and bring scandal upon the family. Do you know what I was doing when I was your age? I had a booth at ’Gansett, two at Newport, a big one at Atlantic City, and was beginning to branch out. I worked like a dog, too.”
“That’s why I think I don’t have to work, dad,” said Lawford coolly.
Betty Gallup, clothed as usual in her man’s hat and worn pea-coat, but likewise on this occasion with mystery, seized Louise by the hand the instant she appeared and drew her into the kitchen, shutting the door between that and the living-room.