“Be sensible, Bess,” said the young man, taking her arm. “That dog isn’t safe. He has bitten two or three people around the kennels. Come now, let’s go tell auntie we are in good humor again.”
Arm in arm, they moved away.
John Hopkins walked to his flat. The janitor’s five-year-old daughter was playing on the steps. Hopkins gave her a nice, red rose and walked upstairs.
Mrs. Hopkins was philandering with curl-papers.
“Get your cigar?” she asked, disinterestedly.
“Sure,” said Hopkins, “and I knocked around a while outside. It’s a nice night.”
He sat upon the hornblende sofa, took out the stump of his cigar, lighted it, and gazed at the graceful figures in “The Storm” on the opposite wall.
“I was telling you,” said he, “about Mr. Whipple’s suit. It’s a gray, with an invisible check, and it looks fine.”
A LICKPENNY LOVER
There, were 3,000 girls in the Biggest Store. Masie was one of them. She was eighteen and a saleslady in the gents’ gloves. Here she became versed in two varieties of human beings—the kind of gents who buy their gloves in department stores and the kind of women who buy gloves for unfortunate gents. Besides this wide knowledge of the human species, Masie had acquired other information. She had listened to the promulgated wisdom of the 2,999 other girls and had stored it in a brain that was as secretive and wary as that of a Maltese cat. Perhaps nature, foreseeing that she would lack wise counsellors, had mingled the saving ingredient of shrewdness along with her beauty, as she has endowed the silver fox of the priceless fur above the other animals with cunning.
For Masie was beautiful. She was a deep-tinted blonde, with the calm poise of a lady who cooks butter cakes in a window. She stood behind her counter in the Biggest Store; and as you closed your hand over the tape-line for your glove measure you thought of Hebe; and as you looked again you wondered how she had come by Minerva’s eyes.
When the floorwalker was not looking Masie chewed tutti frutti; when he was looking she gazed up as if at the clouds and smiled wistfully.
That is the shopgirl smile, and I enjoin you to shun it unless you are well fortified with callosity of the heart, caramels and a congeniality for the capers of Cupid. This smile belonged to Masie’s recreation hours and not to the store; but the floorwalker must have his own. He is the Shylock of the stores. When he comes nosing around the bridge of his nose is a toll-bridge. It is goo-goo eyes or “git” when he looks toward a pretty girl. Of course not all floorwalkers are thus. Only a few days ago the papers printed news of one over eighty years of age.
One day Irving Carter, painter, millionaire, traveller, poet, automobilist, happened to enter the Biggest Store. It is due to him to add that his visit was not voluntary. Filial duty took him by the collar and dragged him inside, while his mother philandered among the bronze and terra-cotta statuettes.