It was a noisy, joyous crowd whose spirit, harmonizing with the bright lights and the gay shop windows, infected all who came within its influence. As the car moved slowly northward along the world’s greatest retail street the girls leaned forward to watch the passing throng through the windows.
“Isn’t it wonderful,” exclaimed Harriet, “what a transformation a few lights make? Who would ever think of State Street as a fairy-land? And yet, if you half close your eyes the hallucination is complete. Even the people who by daylight are shoddy and care-worn take on an appearance of romance and gaiety, and the tawdry colored lights are the scintillant gems of the garden of a fairy prince.”
“Don’t!” Elizabeth pleaded. “The city night always affects me. It makes me want to do something adventurous, and on Christmas Eve it is even worse. If you keep on like that I shall soon be telling David to drive us up and down State Street all night.”
“I wish we didn’t have to go home right away,” said Harriet. “I feel like doing something devilish.”
“Well, let’s!” exclaimed Elizabeth.
“Do something devilish?” inquired Harriet. “What, for instance?”
“Oh, ’most anything that we shouldn’t do,” replied Elizabeth, “and there isn’t anything that we could do down here alone that we should do.”
They both laughed. “I have it!” exclaimed Elizabeth suddenly. “We’ll be utterly abandoned—we’ll have supper at Feinheimer’s without an escort.”
Harriet cast a horrified glance at her companion. “Why, Elizabeth Compton,” she cried, “you wouldn’t dare. You know you wouldn’t dare!”
“Do you dare me?” asked the other.
“But suppose some one should see us?” argued Harriet. “Your father would never forgive us.”
“If we see any one in Feinheimer’s who knows us,” argued Elizabeth shrewdly, “they will be just as glad to forget it as we. And anyway it will do it will do harm. I shall have David stay right outside the door so that if I call him he can come. I don’t know what I would do without David. He is a sort of Rock of Ages and Gibraltar all in one.”
Through the speaking-tube Elizabeth directed David to drive to Feinheimer’s, and, whatever David may have thought of the order, he gave no outward indication of it.
Christmas Eve at Feinheimer’s is, or was, a riot of unconfined hilarity, although the code of ethics of the place was on a higher plane than that which governed the Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve patrons of so-called respectable restaurants, where a woman is not safe from insult even though she be properly escorted, while in Feinheimer’s a woman with an escort was studiously avoided by the other celebrators unless she chose to join with them. As there was only one class of women who came to Feinheimer’s at night without escort, the male habitues had no difficulty in determining who they might approach and who they might not.