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Home -> P.G. Wodehouse -> Indiscretions of Archie -> Chapter 19

Indiscretions of Archie - Chapter 19

1. Chapter 1

2. Chapter 2

3. Chapter 3

4. Chapter 4

5. Chapter 5

6. Chapter 6

7. Chapter 7

8. Chapter 8

9. Chapter 9

10. Chapter 10

11. Chapter 11

12. Chapter 12

13. Chapter 13

14. Chapter 14

15. Chapter 15

16. Chapter 16

17. Chapter 17

18. Chapter 18

19. Chapter 19

20. Chapter 20

21. Chapter 21

22. Chapter 22

23. Chapter 23

24. Chapter 24

25. Chapter 25

26. Chapter 26

27. Dedication and Contents



The advantage of having plenty of time on one's hands is that one
has leisure to attend to the affairs of all one's circle of friends;
and Archie, assiduously as he watched over the destinies of the
Sausage Chappie, did not neglect the romantic needs of his brother-
in-law Bill. A few days later, Lucille, returning one morning to
their mutual suite, found her husband seated in an upright chair at
the table, an unusually stern expression on his amiable face. A
large cigar was in the corner of his mouth. The fingers of one hand
rested in the armhole of his waistcoat: with the other hand he
tapped menacingly on the table.

As she gazed upon him, wondering what could be the matter with him,
Lucille was suddenly aware of Bill's presence. He had emerged
sharply from the bedroom and was walking briskly across the floor.
He came to a halt in front of the table.

"Father!" said Bill.

Archie looked up sharply, frowning heavily over his cigar.

"Well, my boy," he said in a strange, rasping voice. "What is it?
Speak up, my boy, speak up! Why the devil can't you speak up? This
is my busy day!"

"What on earth are you doing?" asked Lucille.

Archie waved her away with the large gesture of a man of blood and
iron interrupted while concentrating.

"Leave us, woman! We would be alone! Retire into the jolly old
background and amuse yourself for a bit. Read a book. Do acrostics.
Charge ahead, laddie."

"Father!" said Bill, again.

"Yes, my boy, yes? What is it?"


Archie picked up the red-covered volume that lay on the table.

"Half a mo', old son. Sorry to stop you, but I knew there was
something. I've just remembered. Your walk. All wrong!"

"All wrong?"

"All wrong! Where's the chapter on the Art. of Walking? Here we are.
Listen, dear old soul. Drink this in. 'In walking, one should strive
to acquire that swinging, easy movement from the hips. The
correctly-poised walker seems to float along, as it were.' Now, old
bean, you didn't float a dam' bit. You just galloped in like a
chappie charging into a railway restaurant for a bowl of soup when
his train leaves in two minutes. Dashed important, this walking
business, you know. Get started wrong, and where are you? Try it
again. . . . Much better." He turned to Lucille. "Notice him float
along that time? Absolutely skimmed, what?"

Lucille had taken a seat,-and was waiting for enlightenment.

"Are you and Bill going into vaudeville?" she asked.

Archie, scrutinising-his-brother-in-law closely, had further
criticism to make.

"'The man of self-respect and self-confidence,'" he read, "'stands
erect in an easy, natural, graceful attitude. Heels not too far
apart, head erect, eyes to the front with a level gaze'--get your
gaze level, old thing!--'shoulders thrown back, arms hanging
naturally at the sides when not otherwise employed'--that means
that, if he tries to hit you, it's all right to guard--'chest
expanded naturally, and abdomen'--this is no place for you, Lucille.
Leg it out of earshot--'ab--what I said before--drawn in somewhat
and above all not protruded.' Now, have you got all that? Yes, you
look all right. Carry on, laddie, carry on. Let's have two-penn'orth
of the Dynamic Voice and the Tone of Authority--some of the full,
rich, round stuff we hear so much about!"

Bill fastened a gimlet eye upon his brother-in-law and drew a deep

"Father!" he said. "Father!"

"You'll have to brighten up Bill's dialogue a lot," said Lucille,
critically, "or you will never get bookings."


"I mean, it's all right as far as it goes, but it's sort of
monotonous. Besides, one of you ought to be asking questions and the
other answering. Mill ought to be saying, 'Who was that lady I saw
you coming down the street with?' so that you would be able to say,
'That wasn't a lady. That was my wife.' I KNOW! I've been to lots of
vaudeville shows."

Bill relaxed his attitude. He deflated his chest, spread his heels,
and ceased to draw in his abdomen.

"We'd better try this another time, when we're alone," he said,
frigidly. "I can't do myself justice."

"Why do you want to do yourself justice?" asked Lucille.

"Right-o!" said Archie, affably, casting off his forbidding
expression like a garment. "Rehearsal postponed. I was just putting
old Bill through it," he explained, "with a view to getting him into
mid-season form for the jolly old pater."

"Oh!" Lucille's voice was the voice of one who sees light in
darkness. "When Bill walked in like a cat on hot bricks and stood
there looking stuffed, that was just the Personality That Wins!"

"That was it."

"Well, you couldn't blame me for not recognising it, could you?"

Archie patted her head paternally.

"A little less of the caustic critic stuff," he said. "Bill will be
all right on the night. If you hadn't come in then and put him off
his stroke, he'd have shot out some amazing stuff, full of authority
and dynamic accents and what not. I tell you, light of my soul, old
Bill is all right! He's got the winning personality up a tree, ready
whenever he wants to go and get it. Speaking as his backer and
trainer, I think he'll twist your father round his little finger.
Absolutely! It wouldn't surprise me if at the end of five minutes
the good old dad started pumping through hoops and sitting up for
lumps of sugar."

"It would surprise ME."

"Ah, that's because you haven't seen old Bill in action. You crabbed
his act before he had begun to spread himself."

"It isn't that at all. The reason why I think that Bill, however
winning his, personality may be, won't persuade father to let him
marry a girl in the chorus is something that happened last night."

"Last night?"

"Well, at three o'clock this morning. It's on the front page of the
early editions of the evening papers. I brought one in for you to
see, only you were so busy. Look! There it is!"

Archie seized the paper.

"Oh, Great Scot!"

"What is it?" asked Bill, irritably. "Don't stand goggling there!
What the devil is it?"

"Listen to this, old thing!"


The logical contender for Jack Dempsey's championship honours has
been discovered; and, in an age where women are stealing men's jobs
all the time, it will not come as a surprise to our readers to learn
that she belongs to the sex that is more deadly than the male. Her
name is Miss Pauline Preston, and her wallop is vouched for under
oath--under many oaths--by Mr. Timothy O'Neill, known to his
intimates as Pie-Face, who holds down the arduous job of detective
at the Hotel Cosmopolis.

At three o'clock this morning, Mr. O'Neill was advised by the night-
clerk that the occupants of every room within earshot of number 618
had 'phoned the desk to complain of a disturbance, a noise, a vocal
uproar proceeding from the room mentioned. Thither, therefore,
marched Mr. O'Neill, his face full of cheese-sandwich, (for he had
been indulging in an early breakfast or a late supper) and his heart
of devotion to duty. He found there the Misses Pauline Preston and
"Bobbie" St. Clair, of the personnel of the chorus of the
Frivolities, entertaining a few friends of either sex. A pleasant
time was being had by all, and at the moment of Mr. O'Neill's entry
the entire strength of the company was rendering with considerable
emphasis that touching ballad, "There's a Place For Me In Heaven,
For My Baby-Boy Is There."

The able and efficient officer at once suggested that there was a
place for them in the street and the patrol-wagon was there; and,
being a man of action as well as words, proceeded to gather up an
armful of assorted guests as a preliminary to a personally-conducted
tour onto the cold night. It was at this point that Miss Preston
stepped into the limelight. Mr. O'Neill contends that she hit him
with a brick, an iron casing, and the Singer Building. Be that as it
may, her efforts were sufficiently able to induce him to retire for
reinforcements, which, arriving, arrested the supper-party
regardless of age or sex.

At the police-court this morning Miss Preston maintained that she
and her friends were merely having a quiet home-evening and that Mr.
O'Neill was no gentleman. The male guests gave their names
respectively as Woodrow Wilson, David Lloyd-George, and William J.
Bryan. These, however, are believed to be incorrect. But the moral
is, if you want excitement rather than sleep, stay at the Hotel

Bill may have quaked inwardly as he listened to this epic but
outwardly he was unmoved.

"Well," he said, "what about it?"

"What about it!" said Lucille.

"What about it!" said Archie. "Why, my dear old friend, it simply
means that all the time we've been putting in making your
personality winning has been chucked away. Absolutely a dead loss!
We might just as well have read a manual on how to knit sweaters."

"I don't see it," maintained Bill, stoutly.

Lucille turned apologetically to her husband.

"You mustn't judge me by him, Archie, darling. This sort of thing
doesn't run in the family.-We are supposed to be rather bright on
the whole. But poor Bill was dropped by his nurse when he was a
baby, and fell on his head."

"I suppose what you're driving at," said the goaded Bill, "is that
what has happened will make father pretty sore against girls who
happen to be in the chorus?"

"That's absolutely it, old thing, I'm sorry to say. The next person
who mentions the word chorus-girl in the jolly old governor's
presence is going to take his life in his hands. I tell you, as one
man to another, that I'd much rather be back in France hopping over
the top than do it myself."

"What darned nonsense! Mabel may be in the chorus, but she isn't
like those girls."

"Poor old Bill!" said Lucille. "I'm awfully sorry, but it's no use
not facing facts. You know perfectly well that the reputation of the
hotel is the thing father cares more about than anything else in the
world, and that this is going to make him furious with all the
chorus-girls in creation. It's no good trying to explain to him that
your Mabel is in the chorus but not of the chorus, so to speak."

"Deuced well put!" said Archie, approvingly. "You're absolutely
right. A chorus-girl by the river's brim, so to speak, a simple
chorus-girl is to him, as it were, and she is nothing more, if you
know what I mean."

"So now," said Lucille, "having shown you that the imbecile scheme
which you concocted with my poor well-meaning husband is no good at
all, I will bring you words of cheer. Your own original plan--of
getting your Mabel a part in a comedy--was always the best one. And
you can do it. I wouldn't have broken the bad news so abruptly if I
hadn't had some consolation to give you afterwards. I met Reggie van
Tuyl just now, wandering about as if the cares of world were on his
shoulders, and he told me that he was putting up most of the money
for a new play that's going into rehearsal right away. Reggie's an
old friend of yours. All you have to do is to go to him and ask him
to use his influence to get your Mabel a small part. There's sure to
be a maid or something with only a line or two that won't matter."

"A ripe scheme!" said Archie. "Very sound and fruity!"

The cloud did not lift from Bill's corrugated brow.

"That's all very well," he said. "But you know what a talker Reggie
is. He's an obliging sort of chump, but his tongue's fastened on at
the middle and waggles at both ends. I don't want the whole of New
York to know about my engagement, and have somebody spilling the
news to father, before I'm ready."

"That's all right," said Lucille. "Archie can speak to him. There's
no need for him to mention your name at all. He can just say there's
a girl he wants to get a part for. You would do it, wouldn't you,

"Like a bird, queen of my soul."

"Then that's splendid. You'd better give Archie that photograph of
Mabel to give to Reggie, Bill."

"Photograph?" said Bill. "Which photograph? I have twenty-four!"

Archie found Reggie van Tuyl brooding in a window of his club that
looked over Fifth Avenue. Reggie was a rather melancholy young man
who suffered from elephantiasis of the bank-roll and the other evils
that arise from that complaint. Gentle and sentimental by nature,
his sensibilities had been much wounded by contact with a sordid
world; and the thing that had first endeared Archie to him was the
fact that the latter, though chronically hard-up, had never made any
attempt to borrow money from him. Reggie would have parted with it
on demand, but it had delighted him to find that Archie seemed to
take a pleasure in his society without having any ulterior motives.
He was fond of Archie, and also of Lucille; and their happy marriage
was a constant source of gratification to him.

For Reggie was a sentimentalist. He would have liked to live in a
world of ideally united couples, himself ideally united to some
charming and affectionate girl. But, as a matter of cold fact, he
was a bachelor, and most of the couples he knew were veterans of
several divorces. In Reggie's circle, therefore, the home-life of
Archie and Lucille shone like a good deed in a naughty world. It
inspired him. In moments of depression it restored his waning faith
in human nature.

Consequently, when Archie, having greeted him and slipped into a
chair at his side, suddenly produced from his inside pocket the
photograph of an extremely pretty girl and asked him to get her a
small part in the play which he was financing, he was shocked and
disappointed. He was in a more than usually sentimental mood that
afternoon, and had, indeed, at the moment of Archie's arrival, been
dreaming wistfully of soft arms clasped snugly about his collar and
the patter of little feet and all that sort of thing.-He gazed
reproachfully at Archie.

"Archie!" his voice quivered with emotion. "Is it worth it?, is it
worth it, old man?-Think of the poor little woman at home!"

Archie was puzzled.

"Eh, old top? Which poor little woman?"

"Think of her trust in you, her faith--".

"I don't absolutely get you, old bean."

"What would Lucille say if she knew about this?"

"Oh, she does. She knows all about it."

"Good heavens!" cried Reggie.-He was shocked to the core of his
being.-One of the articles of his faith was, that the union of
Lucille and Archie was different from those loose partnerships which
were the custom in his world.-He had not been conscious of such a
poignant feeling that the foundations of the universe were cracked
and tottering and that there was no light and sweetness in life
since the morning, eighteen months back, when a negligent valet had
sent him out into Fifth Avenue with only one spat on.

"It was Lucille's idea," explained Archie. He was about to mention
his brother-in-law's connection with the matter, but checked himself
in time, remembering Bill's specific objection to having his secret
revealed to Reggie. "It's like this, old thing, I've never met this
female, but she's a pal of Lucille's"-he comforted his conscience by
the reflection that, if she wasn't now, she would be in a few days-
"and Lucille wants to do her a bit of good. She's been on the stage
in England, you know, supporting a jolly old widowed mother and
educating a little brother and all that kind and species of rot, you
understand, and now she's coming over to America, and Lucille wants
you to rally round and shove her into your show and generally keep
the home fires burning and so forth. How do we go?"

Reggie beamed with relief. He felt just as he had felt on that other
occasion at the moment when a taxi-cab had rolled up and enabled him
to hide his spatless leg from the public gaze.

"Oh, I see!" he said. "Why, delighted, old man, quite delighted!"

"Any small part would do. Isn't there a maid or something in your
bob's-worth of refined entertainment who drifts about saying, 'Yes,
madam,' and all that sort of thing? Well, then that's just the
thing. Topping! I knew I could rely on you, old bird. I'll get
Lucille to ship her round to your address when she arrives. I fancy
she's due to totter in somewhere in the next few days. Well, I must
be popping. Toodle-oo!"

"Pip-pip!" said Reggie.

It was about a week later that Lucille came into the suite at the
Hotel Cosmopolis that was her home, and found Archie lying on the
couch, smoking a refreshing pipe after the labours of the day. It
seemed to Archie that his wife was not in her usual cheerful frame
of mind. He kissed her, and, having relieved her of her parasol,
endeavoured without success to balance it on his chin. Having picked
it up from the floor and placed it on the table, he became aware
that Lucille was looking at him in a despondent sort of way. Her
grey eyes were clouded.

"Halloa, old thing," said Archie. "What's up?"

Lucille sighed wearily.

"Archie, darling, do you know any really good swear-words?"

"Well," said Archie, reflectively, "let me see. I did pick up a few
tolerably ripe and breezy expressions out in France. All through my
military career there was something about me--some subtle magnetism,
don't you know, and that sort of thing--that seemed to make colonels
and blighters of that order rather inventive. I sort of inspired
them, don't you know. I remember one brass-hat addressing me for
quite ten minutes, saying something new all the time. And even then
he seemed to think he had only touched the fringe of the subject. As
a matter of fact, he said straight out in the most frank and
confiding way that mere words couldn't do justice to me. But why?"

"Because I want to relieve my feelings."

"Anything wrong?"

"Everything's wrong. I've just been having tea with Bill and his

"Oh, ah!" said Archie, interested. "And what's the verdict?"

"Guilty!" said Lucille. "And the sentence, if I had anything to do
with it, would be transportation for life." She peeled off her
gloves irritably. "What fools men are! Not you, precious! You're the
only man in the world that isn't, it seems to me. You did marry a
nice girl, didn't you? YOU didn't go running round after females
with crimson hair, goggling at them with your eyes popping out of
your head like a bulldog waiting for a bone."

"Oh, I say! Does old Bill look like that?"


Archie rose to a point of order.

"But one moment, old lady. You speak of crimson hair. Surely old
Bill--in the extremely jolly monologues he used to deliver whenever
I didn't see him coming and he got me alone--used to allude to her
hair as brown."

"It isn't brown now. It's bright scarlet. Good gracious, I ought to
know. I've been looking at it all the afternoon. It dazzled me. If
I've got to meet her again, I mean to go to the oculist's and get a
pair of those smoked glasses you wear at Palm Beach." Lucille
brooded silently for a while over the tragedy. "I don't want to say
anything against her, of course."

"No, no, of course not."

"But of all the awful, second-rate girls I ever met, she's the
worst! She has vermilion hair and an imitation Oxford manner. She's
so horribly refined that it's dreadful to listen to her. She's a
sly, creepy, slinky, made-up, insincere vampire! She's common! She's
awful! She's a cat!"

"You're quite right not to say anything against her," said Archie,
approvingly. "It begins to look," he went on, "as if the good old
pater was about due for another shock. He has a hard life!"

"If Bill DARES to introduce that girl to Father, he's taking his
life in his hands."

"But surely that was the idea--the scheme--the wheeze, wasn't it? Or
do you think there's any chance of his weakening?"

"Weakening! You should have seen him looking at her! It was like a
small boy flattening his nose against the window of a candy-store."

"Bit thick!"

Lucille kicked the leg of the table.

"And to think," she said, "that, when I was a little girl, I used to
look up to Bill as a monument of wisdom. I used to hug his knees and
gaze into his face and wonder how anyone could be so magnificent."
She gave the unoffending table another kick. "If I could have looked
into the future," she said, with feeling, "I'd have bitten him in
the ankle!"

In the days which followed, Archie found himself a little out of
touch with Bill and his romance. Lucille referred to the matter only
when he brought the subject up, and made it plain that the topic of
her future sister-in-law was not one which she enjoyed discussing.
Mr. Brewster, senior, when Archie, by way of delicately preparing
his mind for what was about to befall, asked him if he liked red
hair, called him a fool, and told him to go away and bother someone
else when they were busy. The only person who could have kept him
thoroughly abreast of the trend of affairs was Bill himself; and
experience had made Archie wary in the matter of meeting Bill. The
position of confidant to a young man in the early stages of love is
no sinecure, and it made Archie sleepy even to think of having to
talk to his brother-in-law. He sedulously avoided his love-lorn
relative, and it was with a sinking feeling one day that, looking
over his shoulder as he sat in the Cosmopolis grill-room preparatory
to ordering lunch, he perceived Bill bearing down upon him,
obviously resolved upon joining his meal.

To his surprise, however, Bill did not instantly embark upon his
usual monologue. Indeed, he hardly spoke at all. He champed a chop,
and seemed to Archie to avoid his eye. It was not till lunch was
over and they were smoking that he unburdened himself.

"Archie!" he said.

"Hallo, old thing!" said Archie. "Still there? I thought you'd died
or something. Talk about our old pals, Tongue-tied Thomas and Silent
Sammy! You could beat 'em both on the same evening."

"It's enough to make me silent."

"What is?"

Bill had relapsed into a sort of waking dream. He sat frowning
sombrely, lost to the world. Archie, having waited what seemed to
him a sufficient length of time for an answer to his question, bent
forward and touched his brother-in-law's hand gently with the
lighted end of his cigar. Bill came to himself with a howl.

"What is?" said Archie.

"What is what?" said Bill.

"Now listen, old thing," protested Archie. "Life is short and time
is flying. Suppose we cut out the cross-talk. You hinted there was
something on your mind--something worrying the old bean--and I'm
waiting to hear what it is."

Bill fiddled a moment with his coffee-spoon.

"I'm in an awful hole," he said at last.

"What's the trouble?"

"It's about that darned girl!"

Archie blinked.


"That darned girl!"

Archie could scarcely credit his senses. He had been prepared--
indeed, he had steeled himself--to hear Bill allude to his affinity
in a number of ways. But "that darned girl" was not one of them.

"Companion of my riper years," he said, "let's get this thing
straight. When you say 'that darned girl,' do you by any possibility
allude to--?"

"Of course I do!"

"But, William, old bird--"

"Oh, I know, I know, I know!" said Bill, irritably. "You're
surprised to hear me talk like that about her?"

"A trifle, yes. Possibly a trifle. When last heard from, laddie, you
must recollect, you were speaking of the lady as your soul-mate, and
at least once--if I remember rightly--you alluded to her as your
little dusky-haired lamb."

A sharp howl escaped Bill.

"Don't!" A strong shudder convulsed his frame. "Don't remind me of

"There's been a species of slump, then, in dusky-haired lambs?"

"How," demanded Bill, savagely, "can-a girl be a dusky-haired lamb
when her hair's bright scarlet?"

"Dashed difficult!" admitted Archie.

"I suppose Lucille told you about that?"

"She did touch on it. Lightly, as it were. With a sort of gossamer
touch, so to speak."

Bill threw off the last fragments of reserve.

"Archie, I'm in the devil of a fix. I don't know why it was, but
directly I saw her--things seemed so different over in England--I
mean." He swallowed ice-water in gulps. "I suppose it was seeing her
with Lucille. Old Lu is such a thoroughbred. Seemed to kind of show
her up. Like seeing imitation pearls by the side of real pearls. And
that crimson hair! It sort of put the lid on it." Bill brooded
morosely. "It ought to be a criminal offence for women to dye their
hair. Especially red. What the devil do women do that sort of thing

"Don't blame me, old thing. It's not my fault."

Bill looked furtive and harassed.

"It makes me feel such a cad. Here am I, feeling that I would give
all I've got in the world to get out of the darned thing, and all
the time the poor girl seems to be getting fonder of me than ever."

"How do you know?" Archie surveyed his brother-in-law critically.
"Perhaps her feelings have changed too. Very possibly she may not
like the colour of YOUR hair. I don't myself. Now if you were to dye
yourself crimson--"

"Oh, shut up! Of course a man knows when a girl's fond of him."

"By no means, laddie. When you're my age--"

"I AM your age."

"So you are! I forgot that. Well, now, approaching the matter from
another angle, let us suppose, old son, that Miss What's-Her-Name--
the party of the second part--"

"Stop it!" said Bill suddenly. "Here comes Reggie!"


"Here comes Reggie van Tuyl. I don't want him to hear us talking
about the darned thing."

Archie looked over his shoulder and perceived that it was indeed so.
Reggie was threading his way among the tables.

"Well, HE looks pleased with things, anyway," said Bill, enviously.
"Glad somebody's happy."

He was right. Reggie van Tuyl's usual mode of progress through a
restaurant was a somnolent slouch. Now he was positively bounding
along. Furthermore, the usual expression on Reggie's face was a
sleepy sadness. Now he smiled brightly and with animation. He
curveted towards their table, beaming and erect, his head up, his
gaze level, and his chest expanded, for all the world as if he had
been reading the hints in "The Personality That Wins."

Archie was puzzled. Something had plainly happened to Reggie. But
what? It was idle to suppose that somebody had left him money, for
he had been left practically all the money there was a matter of ten
years before.

"Hallo, old bean," he said, as the new-comer, radiating good will
and bonhomie, arrived at the table and hung over it like a noon-day
sun. "We've finished. But rally round and we'll watch you eat.
Dashed interesting, watching old Reggie eat. Why go to the Zoo?"

Reggie shook his head.

"Sorry, old man. Can't. Just on my way to the Ritz. Stepped in
because I thought you might be here. I wanted you to be the first to
hear the news."


"I'm the happiest man alive!"

"You look it, darn you!" growled Bill, on whose mood of grey gloom
this human sunbeam was jarring heavily.

"I'm engaged to be married!"

"Congratulations, old egg!" Archie shook his hand cordially. "Dash
it, don't you know, as an old married man I like to see you young
fellows settling down."

"I don't know how to thank you enough, Archie, old man," said
Reggie, fervently.

"Thank me?"

"It was through you that I met her. Don't you remember the girl you
sent to me? You wanted me to get her a small part--"

He stopped, puzzled. Archie had uttered a sound that was half gasp
and half gurgle, but it was swallowed up in the extraordinary noise
from the other side of the table. Bill Brewster was leaning forward
with bulging eyes and soaring eyebrows.

"Are you engaged to Mabel Winchester?"

"Why, by George!" said Reggie. "Do you know her?"

Archie recovered himself.

"Slightly," he said. "Slightly. Old Bill knows her slightly, as it
were. Not very well, don't you know, but--how shall I put it?"

"Slightly," suggested Bill.

"Just the word. Slightly."

"Splendid!" said Reggie van Tuyl. "Why don't you come along to the
Ritz and meet her now?"

Bill stammered. Archie came to the rescue again.

"Bill can't come now. He's got a date."

"A date?" said Bill.

"A date," said Archie. "An appointment, don't you know. A--a--in
fact, a date."

"But--er--wish her happiness from me," said Bill, cordially.

"Thanks very much, old man," said Reggie.

"And say I'm delighted, will you?"


"You won't forget the word, will you? Delighted."


"That's right. Delighted."

Reggie looked at his watch.

"Halloa! I must rush!"

Bill and Archie watched him as he bounded out of the restaurant.

"Poor old Reggie!" said Bill, with a fleeting compunction.

"Not necessarily," said Archie. "What I mean to say is, tastes
differ, don't you know. One man's peach is another man's poison, and
vice versa."

"There's something in that."

"Absolutely! Well," said Archie, judicially, "this would appear to
be, as it were, the maddest, merriest day in all the glad New Year,
yes, no?"

Bill drew a deep breath.

"You bet your sorrowful existence it is!" he said. "I'd like to do
something to celebrate it."

"The right spirit!" said Archie. "Absolutely the right spirit! Begin
by paying for my lunch!"

© Art Branch Inc. | English Dictionary