And they’re all grinnin’ amiable as I backs out with my mouth open.
“What the deuce!” says Mr. Robert after lunch next day, as he gazes first at a big package a special messenger has just left, and then at a note which comes with it. “’The Palisades at Dusk’—five hundred dollars?”
“Gee!” I gasps. “Did he sting you that hard?”
“But it’s receipted,” says he, “with the compliments of Brooks Bladen. What does that mean?”
“Means I’m some buyer, I guess,” says I. “Souvenir of a little fam’ly reunion I started, that’s all. But you ain’t the only one. Wait till you see what I drew from Uncle Jeff.”
GLADYS IN A DOUBLE BILL
He meant well, Mr. Robert did; but, say, between you and me, he come blamed near spillin’ the beans. Course, I could see by the squint to his eyelids that he’s about to make what passes with him for a comic openin’.
“I hate to do it, Torchy,” says he, “especially on such a fine afternoon as this.”
“Go on,” says I, “throw the harpoon! Got your yachtin’ cap on, ain’t you? Well, have I got to sub for you at a directors’ meeting or what?”
“Worse than that,” says he. “You see, Marjorie and Ferdy are having a veranda tea this afternoon, up at their country house.”
“Help!” says I. “But you ain’t billin’ me for any such——”
“Oh, not exactly that,” says he. “They can get along very well without me, and I shall merely ’phone out that Tubby Van Orden has asked me to help try out his new forty-footer. But there remains little Gladys. I’d promised to bring her out with me when I came.”
“Ye-e-e-es?” says I doubtful. “She’s a little joker, eh?”
“Why, not at all,” says he. “Merely a young school friend of Marjorie’s. Used to be in the kindergarten class when Marjorie was a senior, and took a great fancy to her, as little girls sometimes do to older ones, you know.”
Also it seems little Gladys had been spendin’ a night or so with another young friend in town, and someone had to round her up and deliver her at the tea, where her folks would be waitin’ for her.
“So I’m to take her by the hand and tow her up by train, am I?” says I.
“I had planned,” says Mr. Robert, shakin’ his head solemn, “to have you go up in the machine with her, as Marjorie wants to send someone back in it—Miss Vee, by the way. Sure it wouldn’t bore you?”
“Z-z-z-ing!” says I. “Say, if it does you’ll never hear about it, believe me!”
Mr. Robert chuckles. “Then take good care of little Gladys,” says he.
“Won’t I, though!” says I. “I’ll tell her fairy tales and feed her stick candy all the way up.”
Honest, I did blow in a quarter on fancy pink gumdrops as I’m passin’ through the arcade; but when I strolls out to the limousine Martin touches his hat so respectful that I gives him a dip into the first bag.