print hanging against the Japanese obi. She was amused. But her high
spirits slackened as she beheld them form in dress parade, in a long,
silent, uneasy circle clear round the living-room. She felt that she had
been magically whisked back to her first party, at Sam Clark's.
"Have I got to lift them, like so many pigs of iron? I don't know that I
can make them happy, but I'll make them hectic."
A silver flame in the darkling circle, she whirled around, drew them
with her smile, and sang, "I want my party to be noisy and undignified!
This is the christening of my house, and I want you to help me have a
bad influence on it, so that it will be a giddy house. For me, won't you
all join in an old-fashioned square dance? And Mr. Dyer will call."
She had a record on the phonograph; Dave Dyer was capering in the center
of the floor, loose-jointed, lean, small, rusty headed, pointed of nose,
clapping his hands and shouting, "Swing y' pardners--alamun lef!"
Even the millionaire Dawsons and Ezra Stowbody and "Professor" George
Edwin Mott danced, looking only slightly foolish; and by rushing about
the room and being coy and coaxing to all persons over forty-five, Carol
got them into a waltz and a Virginia Reel. But when she left them to
disenjoy themselves in their own way Harry Haydock put a one-step record
on the phonograph, the younger people took the floor, and all the elders
sneaked back to their chairs, with crystallized smiles which meant,
"Don't believe I'll try this one myself, but I do enjoy watching the
Half of them were silent; half resumed the discussions of that afternoon
in the store. Ezra Stowbody hunted for something to say, hid a yawn, and
offered to Lyman Cass, the owner of the flour-mill, "How d' you folks
like the new furnace, Lym? Huh? So."
"Oh, let them alone. Don't pester them. They must like it, or they
wouldn't do it." Carol warned herself. But they gazed at her so
expectantly when she flickered past that she was reconvinced that in
their debauches of respectability they had lost the power of play as
well as the power of impersonal thought. Even the dancers were gradually
crushed by the invisible force of fifty perfectly pure and well-behaved
and negative minds; and they sat down, two by two. In twenty minutes the
party was again elevated to the decorum of a prayer-meeting.
"We're going to do something exciting," Carol exclaimed to her new
confidante, Vida Sherwin. She saw that in the growing quiet her voice
had carried across the room. Nat Hicks, Ella Stowbody, and Dave Dyer
were abstracted, fingers and lips slightly moving. She knew with a
cold certainty that Dave was rehearsing his "stunt" about the Norwegian
catching the hen, Ella running over the first lines of "An Old
Sweetheart of Mine," and Nat thinking of his popular parody on Mark
"But I will not have anybody use the word 'stunt' in my house," she
whispered to Miss Sherwin.
"That's good. I tell you: why not have Raymond Wutherspoon sing?"
"Raymie? Why, my dear, he's the most sentimental yearner in town!"
"See here, child! Your opinions on house-decorating are sound, but your
opinions of people are rotten! Raymie does wag his tail. But the poor
dear----Longing for what he calls 'self-expression' and no training in
anything except selling shoes. But he can sing. And some day when
he gets away from Harry Haydock's patronage and ridicule, he'll do
Carol apologized for her superciliousness. She urged Raymie, and warned
the planners of "stunts," "We all want you to sing, Mr. Wutherspoon.
You're the only famous actor I'm going to let appear on the stage
While Raymie blushed and admitted, "Oh, they don't want to hear me," he
was clearing his throat, pulling his clean handkerchief farther out of
his breast pocket, and thrusting his fingers between the buttons of his
In her affection for Raymie's defender, in her desire to "discover
artistic talent," Carol prepared to be delighted by the recital.
Raymie sang "Fly as a Bird," "Thou Art My Dove," and "When the Little
Swallow Leaves Its Tiny Nest," all in a reasonably bad offertory tenor.
Carol was shuddering with the vicarious shame which sensitive people
feel when they listen to an "elocutionist" being humorous, or to a
precocious child publicly doing badly what no child should do at all.
She wanted to laugh at the gratified importance in Raymie's half-shut
eyes; she wanted to weep over the meek ambitiousness which clouded like
an aura his pale face, flap ears, and sandy pompadour. She tried to look
admiring, for the benefit of Miss Sherwin, that trusting admirer of all
that was or conceivably could be the good, the true, and the beautiful.
At the end of the third ornithological lyric Miss Sherwin roused from
her attitude of inspired vision and breathed to Carol, "My! That was
sweet! Of course Raymond hasn't an unusually good voice, but don't you
think he puts such a lot of feeling into it?"
Carol lied blackly and magnificently, but without originality: "Oh yes,
I do think he has so much FEELING!"
She saw that after the strain of listening in a cultured manner the
audience had collapsed; had given up their last hope of being amused.
She cried, "Now we're going to play an idiotic game which I learned in
Chicago. You will have to take off your shoes, for a starter! After that
you will probably break your knees and shoulder-blades."
Much attention and incredulity. A few eyebrows indicating a verdict that
Doc Kennicott's bride was noisy and improper.
"I shall choose the most vicious, like Juanita Haydock and myself, as
the shepherds. The rest of you are wolves. Your shoes are the sheep.
The wolves go out into the hall. The shepherds scatter the sheep through
this room, then turn off all the lights, and the wolves crawl in from
the hall and in the darkness they try to get the shoes away from
the shepherds--who are permitted to do anything except bite and use
black-jacks. The wolves chuck the captured shoes out into the hall. No
one excused! Come on! Shoes off!"
Every one looked at every one else and waited for every one else to
Carol kicked off her silver slippers, and ignored the universal glance
at her arches. The embarrassed but loyal Vida Sherwin unbuttoned her