“Helen, your idea of sin is to be found out,” said Elinor, with satire.
Again Floss Dickerson dropped her trenchant personality into the breach.
“Aw, come off!” she ejaculated. “Let somebody roast the men once, will you? I’m the little Jane that knows, believe me. All this talk about the girls going to hell makes me sick. We may be going—and going in limousines—but it’s the men who’re stepping on the gas.”
“Floss, I love to hear you elocute,” drawled Helen. “Go to it! For God’s sake, roast the men.”
“You always have to horn in,” retorted Floss. “Let me get this off my chest, will you?... We girls are getting talked about. There’s no use denying it. Any but a blind girl could see it. And it’s because we do what the men want. Every girl wants to go out—to be attractive—to have fellows. But the price is getting high. They say in Middleville that I’m rushed more than any other girl. Well, if I am I know what it costs.... If I didn’t ’pet’—if I didn’t mush, if I didn’t park my corsets at dances—if I didn’t drink and smoke, and wiggle like a jelly-fish, I’d be a dead one—an egg, and don’t you overlook that. If any one says I want to do these things he’s a fool. But I do love to have good times, and little by little I’ve been drawn on and on.... I’ve had my troubles staving off these fellows. Most of them get half drunk. Some of the girls do, too. I never went that far. I always kept my head. I never went the limit. But you can bet your sweet life it wasn’t their fault I didn’t fall for them.... I’ll say I’ve had to walk home from more than one auto ride. There’s something in the gag, ’I know she’s a good girl because I met her walking home from an auto ride.’ That’s one thing I intend to cut out this summer—the auto rides. Nothing doing for little Flossie!”
“Oh, can’t we talk of something else!” complained Margaret, wearily, with her hands pressing against her temples.
Mrs. Maynard slowly went upstairs and along the hall to her daughter’s room. Margaret sat listlessly by a window. The girls had gone.
“You were going for a long walk,” said Mrs. Maynard.
“I’m tired,” replied Margaret. There was a shadow in her eyes.
The mother had never understood her daughter. And of late a subtle change in Margaret had made her more of a puzzle.
“Margaret, I want to talk seriously with you,” she began.
“Didn’t I tell you I wanted you to break off your—your friendship with Holt Dalrymple?”
“Yes,” replied Margaret, with a flush. “I did not—want to.”
“Well, the thing which concerns you now is—he can’t be regarded as a possibility for you.”
“Possibility?” echoed Margaret.
“Just that, exactly. I’m not sure of your thoughts on the matter, but it’s time I knew them. Holt is a ne’er-do-well. He’s gone to the bad, like so many of these army boys. No nice girl will ever associate with him again.”