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JOSEPHINE: A WOMAN WITH A PAST


by


F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940)


The Saturday Evening Post (6 September 1930)



I


Driving slowly through New Haven, two of the young girls became
alert.  Josephine and Lillian darted soft frank glances into
strolling groups of three or four undergraduates, into larger
groups on corners, which swung about as one man to stare at their
receding heads.  Believing that they recognized an acquaintance in
a solitary loiterer, they waved wildly, whereupon the youth's mouth
fell open, and as they turned the next corner he made a dazed
dilatory gesture with his hand.  They laughed.  'We'll send him a
post card when we get back to school tonight, to see if it really
was him.'

Adele Craw, sitting on one of the little seats, kept on talking to
Miss Chambers, the chaperon.  Glancing sideways at her, Lillian
winked at Josephine without batting an eye, but Josephine had gone
into a reverie.

This was New Haven--city of her adolescent dreams, of glittering
proms where she would move on air among men as intangible as the
tunes they danced to.  City sacred as Mecca, shining as Paris,
hidden as Timbuktu.  Twice a year the life-blood of Chicago, her
home, flowed into it, and twice a year flowed back, bringing
Christmas or bringing summer.  Bingo, bingo, bingo, that's the
lingo; love of mine, I pine for one of your glances; the darling
boy on the left there; underneath the stars I wait.

Seeing it for the first time, she found herself surprisingly
unmoved--the men they passed seemed young and rather bored with the
possibilities of the day, glad of anything to stare at; seemed
undynamic and purposeless against the background of bare elms,
lakes of dirty snow and buildings crowded together under the
February sky.  A wisp of hope, a well-turned-out derby-crowned man,
hurrying with stick and suitcase towards the station, caught her
attention, but his reciprocal glance was too startled, too
ingenuous.  Josephine wondered at the extent of her own
disillusionment.

She was exactly seventeen and she was blasÚ.  Already she had been
a sensation and a scandal; she had driven mature men to a state of
disequilibrium; she had, it was said, killed her grandfather, but
as he was over eighty at the time perhaps he just died.  Here and
there in the Middle West were discouraged little spots which upon
inspection turned out to be the youths who had once looked full
into her green and wistful eyes.  But her love affair of last
summer had ruined her faith in the all-sufficiency of men.  She had
grown bored with the waning September days--and it seemed as though
it had happened once too often.  Christmas with its provocative
shortness, its travelling glee clubs, had brought no one new.
There remained to her only a persistent, a physical hope; hope in
her stomach that there was someone whom she would love more than he
loved her.

They stopped at a sporting-goods store and Adele Craw, a pretty
girl with clear honourable eyes and piano legs, purchased the
sporting equipment which was the reason for their trip--they were
the spring hockey committee for the school.  Adele was in addition
the president of the senior class and the school's ideal girl.  She
had lately seen a change for the better in Josephine Perry--rather
as an honest citizen might guilelessly approve a speculator retired
on his profits.  On the other hand, Adele was simply incomprehensible
to Josephine--admirable, without doubt, but a member of another
species.  Yet with the charming adaptability that she had hitherto
reserved for men, Josephine was trying hard not to disillusion her,
trying to be honestly interested in the small, neat, organized
politics of the school.

Two men who had stood with their backs to them at another counter
turned to leave the store, when they caught sight of Miss Chambers
and Adele.  Immediately they came forward.  The one who spoke to
Miss Chambers was thin and rigid of face.  Josephine recognized him
as Miss Brereton's nephew, a student at New Haven, who had spent
several week-ends with his aunt at the school.  The other man
Josephine had never seen before.  He was tall and broad, with blond
curly hair and an open expression in which strength of purpose and
a nice consideration were pleasantly mingled.  It was not the sort
of face that generally appealed to Josephine.  The eyes were
obviously without a secret, with a sidewise gambol, without a
desperate flicker to show that they had a life of their own apart
from the mouth's speech.  The mouth itself was large and masculine;
its smile was an act of kindness and control.  It was rather with
curiosity as to the sort of man who would be attentive to Adele
Craw that Josephine continued to look at him, for his voice that
obviously couldn't lie greeted Adele as if this meeting was the
pleasant surprise of his day.

In a moment Josephine and Lillian were called over and introduced.

'This is Mr Waterbury'--that was Miss Brereton's nephew--'and Mr
Dudley Knowleton.'

Glancing at Adele, Josephine saw on her face an expression of
tranquil pride, even of possession.  Mr Knowleton spoke politely,
but it was obvious that though he looked at the younger girls he
did not quite see them.  But since they were friends of Adele's he
made suitable remarks, eliciting the fact that they were both
coming down to New Haven to their first prom the following week.
Who were their hosts?  Sophomores; he knew them slightly.
Josephine thought that was unnecessarily superior.  Why, they were
the charter members of the Loving Brothers' Association--Ridgeway
Saunders and George Davey--and on the glee-club trip the girls they
picked out to rush in each city considered themselves a sort of
Úlite, second only to the girls they asked to New Haven.

'And oh, I've got some bad news for you,' Knowleton said to Adele.
'You may be leading the prom.  Jack Coe went to the infirmary with
appendicitis, and against my better judgement I'm the provisional
chairman.'  He looked apologetic.  'Being one of those stone-age
dancers, the two-step king, I don't see how I ever got on the
committee at all.'

When the car was on its way back to Miss Brereton's school,
Josephine and Lillian bombarded Adele with questions.

'He's an old friend from Cincinnati,' she explained demurely.
'He's captain of the baseball team and he was last man for Skull
and Bones.'

'You're going to the prom with him?'

'Yes.  You see, I've known him all my life.'

Was there a faint implication in this remark that only those who
had known Adele all her life knew her at her true worth?

'Are you engaged?' Lillian demanded.

Adele laughed.  'Mercy, I don't think of such matters!  It doesn't
seem to be time for that sort of thing yet, does it?'  ('Yes,'
interpolated Josephine silently.)'  We're just good friends.  I
think there can be a perfectly healthy friendship between a man and
a girl without a lot of--'

'Mush,' supplied Lillian helpfully.

'Well, yes, but I don't like that word.  I was going to say without
a lot of sentimental romantic things that ought to come later.'

'Bravo, Adele!' said Miss Chambers somewhat perfunctorily.

But Josephine's curiosity was unappeased.

'Doesn't he say he's in love with you, and all that sort of thing?'

'Mercy, no!  Dud doesn't believe in such stuff any more than I do.
He's got enough to do at New Haven, serving on the committees and
the team.'

'Oh!' said Josephine.

She was oddly interested.  That two people who were attracted to
each other should never even say anything about it but be content
to 'not believe in such stuff', was something new in her
experience.  She had known girls who had no beaux, others who
seemed to have no emotions, and still others who lied about what
they thought and did; but here was a girl who spoke of the
attentions of the last man tapped for Skull and Bones as if they
were two of the limestone gargoyles that Miss Chambers had pointed
out on the just completed Harkness Hall.  Yet Adele seemed happy--
happier than Josephine, who had always believed that boys and girls
were made for nothing but each other, and as soon as possible.

In the light of his popularity and achievements, Knowleton seemed
more attractive.  Josephine wondered if he would remember her and
dance with her at the prom, or if that depended on how well he knew
her escort, Ridgeway Saunders.  She tried to remember whether she
had smiled at him when he was looking at her.  If she had really
smiled he would remember her and dance with her.  She was still
trying to be sure of that over her two French irregular verbs and
her ten stanzas of the Ancient Mariner that night; but she was
still uncertain when she fell asleep.


II


Three gay young sophomores, the founders of the Loving Brothers'
Association, took a house together for Josephine, Lillian and a
girl from Farmington and their three mothers.  For the girls it was
a first prom, and they arrived at New Haven with all the
nervousness of the condemned; but a Sheffield fraternity tea in the
afternoon yielded up such a plethora of boys from home, and boys
who had visited there and friends of those boys, and new boys with
unknown possibilities but obvious eagerness, that they were glowing
with self-confidence as they poured into the glittering crowd that
thronged the armoury at ten.

It was impressive; for the first time Josephine was at a function
run by men upon men's standards--an outward projection of the New
Haven world from which women were excluded and which went on
mysteriously behind the scenes.  She perceived that their three
escorts, who had once seemed the very embodiments of worldliness,
were modest fry in this relentless microcosm of accomplishment and
success.  A man's world!  Looking around her at the glee-club
concert, Josephine had felt a grudging admiration for the good
fellowship, the good feeling.  She envied Adele Craw, barely
glimpsed in the dressing-room, for the position she automatically
occupied by being Dudley Knowleton's girl tonight.  She envied her
more stepping off under the draped bunting through a gateway of
hydrangeas at the head of the grand march, very demure and faintly
unpowdered in a plain white dress.  She was temporarily the centre
of all attention, and at the sight something that had long lain
dormant in Josephine awakened--her sense of a problem, a scarcely
defined possibility.

'Josephine,' Ridgeway Saunders began, 'you can't realize how happy
I am now that it's come true.  I've looked forward to this so long,
and dreamed about it--'

She smiled up at him automatically, but her mind was elsewhere, and
as the dance progressed the idea continued to obsess her.  She was
rushed from the beginning; to the men from the tea were added a
dozen new faces, a dozen confident or timid voices, until, like all
the more popular girls, she had her own queue trailing her about
the room.  Yet all this had happened to her before, and there was
something missing.  One might have ten men to Adele's two, but
Josephine was abruptly aware that here a girl took on the
importance of the man who had brought her.

She was discomforted by the unfairness of it.  A girl earned her
popularity by being beautiful and charming.  The more beautiful and
charming she was, the more she could afford to disregard public
opinion.  It seemed absurd that simply because Adele had managed to
attach a baseball captain, who mightn't know anything about girls
at all, or be able to judge their attractions, she should be thus
elevated in spite of her thick ankles, her rather too pinkish face.

Josephine was dancing with Ed Bement from Chicago.  He was her
earliest beau, a flame of pigtail days in dancing school when one
wore white cotton stockings, lace drawers with a waist attached and
ruffled dresses with the inevitable sash.

'What's the matter with me?' she asked Ed, thinking aloud.  'For
months I've felt as if I were a hundred years old, and I'm just
seventeen and that party was only seven years ago.'

'You've been in love a lot since then,' Ed said.

'I haven't,' she protested indignantly.  'I've had a lot of silly
stories started about me, without any foundation, usually by girls
who were jealous.'

'Jealous of what?'

'Don't get fresh,' she said tartly.  'Dance me near Lillian.'

Dudley Knowleton had just cut in on Lillian.  Josephine spoke to
her friend; then waiting until their turns would bring them face to
face over a space of seconds, she smiled at Knowleton.  This time
she made sure that smile intersected as well as met glance, that he
passed beside the circumference of her fragrant charm.  If this had
been named like French perfume of a later day it might have been
called 'Please'.  He bowed and smiled back; a minute later he cut
in on her.

It was in an eddy in a corner of the room and she danced slower so
that he adapted himself, and for a moment they went around in a
slow circle.

'You looked so sweet leading the march with Adele,' she told him.
'You seemed so serious and kind, as if the others were a lot of
children.  Adele looked sweet, too.'  And she added on an
inspiration, 'At school I've taken her for a model.'

'You have!'  She saw him conceal his sharp surprise as he said,
'I'll have to tell her that.'

He was handsomer than she had thought, and behind his cordial good
manners there was a sort of authority.  Though he was correctly
attentive to her, she saw his eyes search the room quickly to see
if all went well; he spoke quietly, in passing, to the orchestra
leader, who came down deferentially to the edge of his dais.  Last
man for Bones.  Josephine knew what that meant--her father had been
Bones.  Ridgeway Saunders and the rest of the Loving Brothers'
Association would certainly not be Bones.  She wondered, if there
had been a Bones for girls, whether she would be tapped--or Adele
Craw with her ankles, symbol of solidity.


     Come on o-ver here.
     Want to have you near;
     Get a wel-come heart-y.
     Come on join the part-y.


'I wonder how many boys here have taken you for a model,' she said.
'If I were a boy you'd be exactly what I'd like to be.  Except I'd
be terribly bothered having girls falling in love with me all the
time.'

'They don't,' he said simply.  'They never have.'

'Oh yes--but they hide it because they're so impressed with you,
and they're afraid of Adele.'

'Adele wouldn't object.'  And he added hastily, '--if it ever
happened.  Adele doesn't believe in being serious about such
things.'

'Are you engaged to her?'

He stiffened a little.  'I don't believe in being engaged till the
right time comes.'

'Neither do I,' agreed Josephine readily.  'I'd rather have one
good friend than a hundred people hanging around being mushy all
the time.'

'Is that what that crowd does that keeps following you around
tonight?'

'What crowd?' she asked innocently.

'The fifty per cent of the sophomore class that's rushing you.'

'A lot of parlour snakes,' she said ungratefully.

Josephine was radiantly happy now as she turned beautifully through
the newly enchanted hall in the arms of the chairman of the prom
committee.  Even this extra time with him she owed to the awe which
he inspired in her entourage; but a man cut in eventually and there
was a sharp fall in her elation.  The man was impressed that Dudley
Knowleton had danced with her; he was more respectful, and his
modulated admiration bored her.  In a little while, she hoped,
Dudley Knowleton would cut back, but as midnight passed, dragging
on another hour with it, she wondered if after all it had only been
a courtesy to a girl from Adele's school.  Since then Adele had
probably painted him a neat little landscape of Josephine's past.
When finally he approached her she grew tense and watchful, a state
which made her exteriorly pliant and tender and quiet.  But instead
of dancing he drew her into the edge of a row of boxes.

'Adele had an accident on the cloakroom steps.  She turned her
ankle a little and tore her stocking on a nail.  She'd like to
borrow a pair from you because you're staying near here and we're
way out at the Lawn Club.'

'Of course.'

'I'll run over with you--I have a car outside.'

'But you're busy; you mustn't bother.'

'Of course I'll go with you.'

There was thaw in the air; a hint of thin and lucid spring hovered
delicately around the elms and cornices of buildings whose bareness
and coldness had so depressed her the week before.  The night had a
quality of asceticism, as if the essence of masculine struggle were
seeping everywhere through the little city where men of three
centuries had brought their energies and aspirations for winnowing.
And Dudley Knowleton sitting beside her, dynamic and capable, was
symbolic of it all.  It seemed that she had never met a man before.

'Come in, please,' she said as he went up the steps of the house
with her.  'They've made it very comfortable.'

There was an open fire burning in the dark parlour.  When she came
downstairs with the stockings she went in and stood beside him,
very still for a moment, watching it with him.  Then she looked up,
still silent, looked down, looked at him again.

'Did you get the stockings?' he asked, moving a little.

'Yes,' she said breathlessly.  'Kiss me for being so quick.'

He laughed as if she said something witty and moved towards the
door.  She was smiling and her disappointment was deeply hidden as
they got into the car.

'It's been wonderful meeting you,' she told him.  'I can't tell you
how many ideas I've gotten from what you said.'

'But I haven't any ideas.'

'You have.  All that about not getting engaged till the proper time
comes.  I haven't had much opportunity to talk to a man like you.
Otherwise my ideas would be different, I guess.  I've just realized
that I've been wrong about a lot of things.  I used to want to be
exciting.  Now I want to help people.'

'Yes,' he agreed, 'that's very nice.'

He seemed about to say more when they arrived at the armoury.  In
their absence supper had begun; and crossing the great floor by his
side, conscious of many eyes regarding them, Josephine wondered if
people thought that they had been up to something.

'We're late,' said Knowleton when Adele went off to put on the
stockings.  'The man you're with has probably given you up long
ago.  You'd better let me get you something here.'

'That would be too divine.'

Afterwards, back on the floor again, she moved in a sweet aura of
abstraction.  The followers of several departed belles merged with
hers until now no girl on the floor was cut in on with such
frequency.  Even Miss Brereton's nephew, Ernest Waterbury, danced
with her in stiff approval.  Danced?  With a tentative change of
pace she simply swung from man to man in a sort of hands-right-and-
left around the floor.  She felt a sudden need to relax, and as if
in answer to her mood a new man was presented, a tall, sleek
Southerner with a persuasive note:

'You lovely creacha.  I been strainin my eyes watchin your cameo
face floatin round.  You stand out above all these othuz like an
Amehken Beauty Rose over a lot of field daisies.'

Dancing with him a second time, Josephine hearkened to his
pleadings.

'All right.  Let's go outside.'

'It wasn't outdaws I was considering,' he explained as they left
the floor.  'I happen to have a mortgage on a nook right hee in the
building.'

'All right.'

Book Chaffee, of Alabama, led the way through the cloak-room,
through a passage to an inconspicuous door.

'This is the private apartment of my friend Sergeant Boone,
instructa of the battery.  He wanted to be particularly sure it'd
be used as a nook tonight and not a readin room or anything like
that.'

Opening the door he turned on a dim light; she came in and shut it
behind her, and they faced each other.

'Mighty sweet,' he murmured.  His tall face came down, his long
arms wrapped around her tenderly, and very slowly so that their
eyes met for quite a long time, he drew her up to him.  Josephine
kept thinking that she had never kissed a Southern boy before.

They started apart at the sudden sound of a key turning in the lock
outside.  Then there was a muffed snicker followed by retreating
footsteps, and Book sprang for the door and wrenched at the handle
just as Josephine noticed that this was not only Sergeant Boone's
parlour; it was his bedroom as well.

'Who was it?' she demanded.  'Why did they lock us in?'

'Some funny boy.  I'd like to get my hands on him.'

'Will he come back?'

Book sat down on the bed to think.  'I couldn't say.  Don't even
know who it was.  But if somebody on the committee came along it
wouldn't look too good, would it?'

Seeing her expression change, he came over and put his arm around
her.  'Don't you worry, honey.  We'll fix it.'

She returned his kiss, briefly but without distraction.  Then she
broke away and went into the next apartment, which was hung with
boots, uniform coats and various military equipment.

'There's a window up here,' she said.  It was high in the wall and
had not been opened for a long time.  Book mounted on a chair and
forced it ajar.

'About ten feet down,' he reported, after a moment, 'but there's a
big pile of snow just underneath.  You might get a nasty fall and
you'll sure soak your shoes and stockin's.'

'We've got to get out,' Josephine said sharply.

'We'd better wait and give this funny man a chance--'

'I won't wait.  I want to get out.  Look--throw out all the
blankets from the bed and I'll jump on that: or you jump first and
spread them over the pile of snow.'

After that it was merely exciting.  Carefully Book Chaffee wiped
the dust from the window to protect her dress; then they were
struck silent by a footstep that approached--and passed the outer
door.  Book jumped, and she heard him kicking profanely as he waded
out of the soft drift below.  He spread the blankets.  At the
moment when Josephine swung her legs out the window, there was the
sound of voices outside the door and the key turned again in the
lock.  She landed softly, reaching for his hand, and convulsed with
laughter they ran and skidded down the half block towards the
corner, and reaching the entrance to the armoury, they stood
panting for a moment, breathing in the fresh night.  Book was
reluctant to go inside.

'Why don't you let me conduct you where you're stayin?  We can sit
around and sort of recuperate.'

She hesitated, drawn towards him by the community of their late
predicament; but something was calling her inside, as if the
fulfilment of her elation awaited her there.

'No,' she decided.

As they went in she collided with a man in a great hurry, and
looked up to recognize Dudley Knowleton.

'So sorry,' he said.  'Oh hello--'

'Won't you dance me over to my box?' she begged him impulsively.
'I've torn my dress.'

As they started off he said abstractedly:  'The fact is, a little
mischief has come up and the buck has been passed to me.  I was
going along to see about it.'

Her heart raced wildly and she felt the need of being another sort
of person immediately.

'I can't tell you how much it's meant meeting you.  It would be
wonderful to have one friend I could be serious with without being
all mushy and sentimental.  Would you mind if I wrote you a letter--
I mean, would Adele mind?'

'Lord, no!'  His smile had become utterly unfathomable to her.  As
they reached the box she thought of one more thing:

'Is it true that the baseball team is training at Hot Springs
during Easter?'

'Yes.  You going there?'

'Yes.  Good night, Mr Knowleton.'

But she was destined to see him once more.  It was outside the
men's coat room, where she waited among a crowd of other pale
survivors and their paler mothers, whose wrinkles had doubled and
tripled with the passing night.  He was explaining something to
Adele, and Josephine heard the phrase, 'The door was locked, and
the window open--'

Suddenly it occurred to Josephine that, meeting her coming in damp
and breathless, he must have guessed at the truth--and Adele would
doubtless confirm his suspicion.  Once again the spectre of her old
enemy, the plain and jealous girl, arose before her.  Shutting her
mouth tight together she turned away.

But they had seen her, and Adele called to her in her cheerful
ringing voice:

'Come say good night.  You were so sweet about the stockings.
Here's a girl you won't find doing shoddy, silly things, Dudley.'
Impulsively she leaned and kissed Josephine on the cheek.  'You'll
see I'm right, Dudley--next year she'll be the most respected girl
in school.'


III


As things go in the interminable days of early March, what happened
next happened quickly.  The annual senior dance at Miss Brereton's
school came on a night soaked through with spring, and all the
junior girls lay awake listening to the sighing tunes from the
gymnasium.  Between the numbers, when boys up from New Haven and
Princeton wandered about the grounds, cloistered glances looked
down from dark open windows upon the vague figures.

Not Josephine, though she lay awake like the others.  Such
vicarious diversions had no place in the sober patterns she was
spinning now from day to day; yet she might as well have been in
the forefront of those who called down to the men and threw notes
and entered into conversations, for destiny had suddenly turned
against her and was spinning a dark web of its own.


     Lit-tle lady, don't be depressed and blue,
     After all, we're both in the same can-noo--


Dudley Knowleton was over in the gymnasium fifty yards away, but
proximity to a man did not thrill her as it would have done a year
ago--not, at least, in the same way.  Life, she saw now, was a
serious matter, and in the modest darkness a line of a novel
ceaselessly recurred to her:  'He is a man fit to be the father of
my children'.  What were the seductive graces, the fast lines of a
hundred parlour snakes compared to such realities.  One couldn't go
on forever kissing comparative strangers behind half-closed doors.

Under her pillow now were two letters, answers to her letters.
They spoke in a bold round hand of the beginning of baseball
practice; they were glad Josephine felt as she did about things;
and the writer certainly looked forward to seeing her at Easter.
Of all the letters she had ever received they were the most
difficult from which to squeeze a single drop of heart's blood--one
couldn't even read the 'Yours' of the subscription as 'Your'--but
Josephine knew them by heart.  They were precious because he had
taken the time to write them; they were eloquent in the very
postage stamp because he used so few.

She was restless in her bed--the music had begun again in the
gymnasium:


     Oh, my love, I've waited so long for you,
     Oh, my love, I'm singing this song for you--
       Oh-h-h--


From the next room there was light laughter, and then from below a
male voice, and a long interchange of comic whispers.  Josephine
recognized Lillian's laugh and the voices of two other girls.  She
could imagine them as they lay across the window in their
nightgowns, their heads just showing from the open window.  'Come
right down,' one boy kept saying.  'Don't be formal--come, just as
you are.'

There was a sudden silence, then a quick crunching of footsteps on
gravel, a suppressed snicker and a scurry, and the sharp,
protesting groan of several beds in the next room and the banging
of a door down the hall.  Trouble for somebody, maybe.  A few
minutes later Josephine's door half opened, she caught a glimpse of
Miss Kwain against the dim corridor light, and then the door
closed.

The next afternoon Josephine and four other girls, all of whom
denied having breathed so much as a word into the night, were
placed on probation.  There was absolutely nothing to do about it.
Miss Kwain had recognized their faces in the window and they were
all from two rooms.  It was an injustice, but it was nothing
compared to what happened next.  One week before Easter vacation
the school motored off on a one-day trip to inspect a milk farm--
all save the ones on probation.  Miss Chambers, who sympathized
with Josephine's misfortune, enlisted her services in entertaining
Mr Ernest Waterbury, who was spending a week-end with his aunt.
This was only vaguely better than nothing, for Mr Waterbury was a
very dull, very priggish young man.  He was so dull and so priggish
that the following morning Josephine was expelled from school.

It happened like this: they had strolled in the grounds, they had
sat down at a garden table and had tea.  Ernest Waterbury had
expressed a desire to see something in the chapel, just a few
minutes before his aunt's car rolled up the drive.  The chapel was
reached by descending winding mock-medieval stairs; and, her shoes
still wet from the garden, Josephine had slipped on the top step
and fallen five feet directly into Mr Waterbury's unwilling arms,
where she lay helpless, convulsed with irresistible laughter.  It
was in this position that Miss Brereton and the visiting trustee
had found them.

'But I had nothing to do with it!' declared the ungallant Mr
Waterbury.  Flustered and outraged, he was packed back to New
Haven, and Miss Brereton, connecting this with last week's sin,
proceeded to lose her head.  Josephine, humiliated and furious,
lost hers, and Mr Perry, who happened to be in New York, arrived at
the school the same night.  At his passionate indignation, Miss
Brereton collapsed and retracted, but the damage was done, and
Josephine packed her trunk.  Unexpectedly, monstrously, just as it
had begun to mean something, her school life was over.

For the moment all her feelings were directed against Miss
Brereton, and the only tears she shed at leaving were of anger and
resentment.  Riding with her father up to New York, she saw that
while at first he had instinctively and whole-heartedly taken her
part, he felt also a certain annoyance with her misfortune.

'We'll all survive,' he said.  'Unfortunately, even that old idiot
Miss Brereton will survive.  She ought to be running a reform
school.'  He brooded for a moment.  'Anyhow, your mother arrives
tomorrow and you and she go down to Hot Springs as you planned.'

'Hot Springs!' Josephine cried, in a choked voice.  'Oh, no!'

'Why not?' he demanded in surprise.  'It seems the best thing to
do.  Give it a chance to blow over before you go back to Chicago.'

'I'd rather go to Chicago,' said Josephine breathlessly.  'Daddy,
I'd much rather go to Chicago.'

'That's absurd.  Your mother's started East and the arrangements
are all made.  At Hot Springs you can get out and ride and play
golf and forget that old she-devil--'

'Isn't there another place in the East we could go?  There's people
I know going to Hot Springs who'll know all about this, people that
I don't want to meet--girls from school.'

'Now, Jo, you keep your chin up--this is one of those times.  Sorry
I said that about letting it blow over in Chicago; if we hadn't
made other plans we'd go back and face every old shrew and gossip
in town right away.  When anybody slinks off in a corner they think
you've been up to something bad.  If anybody says anything to you,
you tell them the truth--what I said to Miss Brereton.  You tell
them she said you could come back and I damn well wouldn't let you
go back.'

'They won't believe it.'

There would be, at all events, four days of respite at Hot Springs
before the vacations of the schools.  Josephine passed this time
taking golf lessons from a professional so newly arrived from
Scotland that he surely knew nothing of her misadventure; she even
went riding with a young man one afternoon, feeling almost at home
with him after his admission that he had flunked out of Princeton
in February--a confidence, however, which she did not reciprocate
in kind.  But in the evenings, despite the young man's importunity,
she stayed with her mother, feeling nearer to her than she ever had
before.

But one afternoon in the lobby Josephine saw by the desk two dozen
good-looking young men waiting by a stack of hat cases and bags,
and knew that what she dreaded was at hand.  She ran upstairs and
with an invented headache dined there that night, but after dinner
she walked restlessly around their apartment.  She was ashamed not
only of her situation but of her reaction to it.  She had never
felt any pity for the unpopular girls who skulked in dressing-rooms
because they could attract no partners on the floor, or for girls
who were outsiders at Lake Forest, and now she was like them--
hiding miserably out of life.  Alarmed lest already the change was
written in her face, she paused in front of the mirror, fascinated
as ever by what she found there.

'The darn fools!' she said aloud.  And as she said it her chin went
up and the faint cloud about her eyes lifted.  The phrases of the
myriad love letters she had received passed before her eyes; behind
her, after all, was the reassurance of a hundred lost and pleading
faces, of innumerable tender and pleading voices.  Her pride
flooded back into her till she could see the warm blood rushing up
into her cheeks.

There was a knock at the door--it was the Princeton boy.

'How about slipping downstairs?' he proposed.  'There's a dance.
It's full of E-lies, the whole Yale baseball team.  I'll pick up
one of them and introduce you and you'll have a big time.  How
about it?'

'All right, but I don't want to meet anybody.  You'll just have to
dance with me all evening.'

'You know that suits me.'

She hurried into a new spring evening dress of the frailest fairy
blue.  In the excitement of seeing herself in it, it seemed as if
she had shed the old skin of winter and emerged a shining chrysalis
with no stain; and going downstairs her feet fell softly just off
the beat of the music from below.  It was a tune from a play she
had seen a week ago in New York, a tune with a future--ready for
gaieties as yet unthought of, lovers not yet met.  Dancing off, she
was certain that life had innumerable beginnings.  She had hardly
gone ten steps when she was cut in upon by Dudley Knowleton.

'Why, Josephine!'  He had never used her first name before--he
stood holding her hand.  'Why, I'm so glad to see you!  I've been
hoping and hoping you'd be here.'

She soared skyward on a rocket of surprise and delight.  He was
actually glad to see her--the expression on his face was obviously
sincere.  Could it be possible that he hadn't heard?

'Adele wrote me you might be here.  She wasn't sure.'

--Then he knew and didn't care; he liked her anyhow.

'I'm in sackcloth and ashes,' she said.

'Well, they're very becoming to you.'

'You know what happened--' she ventured.

'I do.  I wasn't going to say anything, but it's generally agreed
that Waterbury behaved like a fool--and it's not going to be much
help to him in the elections next month.  Look--I want you to dance
with some men who are just starving for a touch of beauty.'

Presently she was dancing with, it seemed to her, the entire team
at once.  Intermittently Dudley Knowleton cut back in, as well as
the Princeton man, who was somewhat indignant at this unexpected
competition.  There were many girls from many schools in the room,
but with an admirable team spirit the Yale men displayed a sharp
prejudice in Josephine's favour; already she was pointed out from
the chairs along the wall.

But interiorly she was waiting for what was coming, for the moment
when she would walk with Dudley Knowleton into the warm, Southern
night.  It came naturally, just at the end of a number, and they
strolled along an avenue of early-blooming lilacs and turned a
corner and another corner . . .

'You were glad to see me, weren't you?' Josephine said.

'Of course.'

'I was afraid at first.  I was sorriest about what happened at
school because of you.  I'd been trying so hard to be different--
because of you.'

'You mustn't think of that school business any more.  Everybody
that matters knows you got a bad deal.  Forget it and start over.'

'Yes,' she agreed tranquilly.  She was happy.  The breeze and the
scent of lilacs--that was she, lovely and intangible; the rustic
bench where they sat and the trees--that was he, rugged and strong
beside her, protecting her.

'I'd thought so much of meeting you here,' she said after a minute.
'You'd been so good for me, that I thought maybe in a different way
I could be good for you--I mean I know ways of having a good time
that you don't know.  For instance, we've certainly got to go
horseback riding by moonlight some night.  That'll be fun.'

He didn't answer.

'I can really be very nice when I like somebody--that's really not
often,' she interpolated hastily, 'not seriously.  But I mean when
I do feel seriously that a boy and I are really friends I don't
believe in having a whole mob of other boys hanging around taking
up time.  I like to be with him all the time, all day and all
evening, don't you?'

He stirred a little on the bench; he leaned forward with his elbows
on his knees, looking at his strong hands.  Her gently modulated
voice sank a note lower.

'When I like anyone I don't even like dancing.  It's sweeter to be
alone.'

Silence for a moment.

'Well, you know'--he hesitated, frowning--'as a matter of fact, I'm
mixed up in a lot of engagements made some time ago with some
people.'  He floundered about unhappily.  'In fact, I won't even be
at the hotel after tomorrow.  I'll be at the house of some people
down the valley--a sort of house party.  As a matter of fact,
Adele's getting here tomorrow.'

Absorbed in her own thoughts, she hardly heard him at first, but at
the name she caught her breath sharply.

'We're both to be at this house party while we're here, and I
imagine it's more or less arranged what we're going to do.  Of
course, in the daytime I'll be here for baseball practice.'

'I see.'  Her lips were quivering.  'You won't be--you'll be with
Adele.'

'I think that--more or less--I will.  She'll--want to see you, of
course.'

Another silence while he twisted his big fingers and she helplessly
imitated the gesture.

'You were just sorry for me,' she said.  'You like Adele--much
better.'

'Adele and I understand each other.  She's been more or less my
ideal since we were children together.'

'And I'm not your kind of girl?'  Josephine's voice trembled with a
sort of fright.  'I suppose because I've kissed a lot of boys and
got a reputation for speed and raised the deuce.'

'It isn't that.'

'Yes, it is,' she declared passionately.  'I'm just paying for
things.'  She stood up.  'You'd better take me back inside so I can
dance with the kind of boys that like me.'

She walked quickly down the path, tears of misery streaming from
her eyes.  He overtook her by the steps, but she only shook her
head and said, 'Excuse me for being so fresh.  I'll grow up--I got
what was coming to me--it's all right.'

A little later when she looked around the floor for him he had gone--
and Josephine realized with a shock that for the first time in her
life, she had tried for a man and failed.  But, save in the very
young, only love begets love, and from the moment Josephine had
perceived that his interest in her was merely kindness she realized
the wound was not in her heart but in her pride.  She would forget
him quickly, but she would never forget what she had learned from
him.  There were two kinds of men, those you played with and those
you might marry.  And as this passed through her mind, her restless
eyes wandered casually over the group of stags, resting very
lightly on Mr Gordon Tinsley, the current catch of Chicago,
reputedly the richest young man in the Middle West.  He had never
paid any attention to young Josephine until tonight.  Ten minutes
ago he had asked her to go driving with him tomorrow.

But he did not attract her--and she decided to refuse.  One mustn't
run through people, and, for the sake of a romantic half-hour,
trade a possibility that might develop--quite seriously--later, at
the proper time.  She did not know that this was the first mature
thought that she had ever had in her life, but it was.

The orchestra were packing their instruments and the Princeton man
was still at her ear, still imploring her to walk out with him into
the night.  Josephine knew without cogitation which sort of man he
was--and the moon was bright even on the windows.  So with a
certain sense of relaxation she took his arm and they strolled out
to the pleasant bower she had so lately quitted, and their faces
turned towards each other, like little moons under the great white
ones which hovered high over the Blue Ridge; his arm dropped softly
about her yielding shoulder.

'Well?' he whispered.

'Well.'




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