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An Idyl Of Pelham Bay Park
by [?]

“It’s real country out there,” Fannie Davis had said. “Buttercups and daisies. Come on, Lila! I won’t go if you won’t.”

This sudden demonstration of friendship was too much for Lila. She forgot that she had no stylish dress for the occasion, or that her mother could not very well spare her for a whole day, and she promised to be ready at nine o’clock on the following Sunday morning.

“Fannie Davis,” she explained to her mother, “has asked me to go out to Pelham Bay Park with her Sunday. And finally I said I would. I feel sometimes as if I’d blow up if I didn’t get a breath of fresh air after all this hot spell.”

She set her pretty mouth defiantly. She expected an argument. But he mother only shrugged her shoulders and said,

“We could make your blue dress look real nice with a few trimmings.”

They discussed ways and means until long after the younger children were in bed and asleep.

By Saturday night the dress was ready, and Lila had turned her week’s wages back into the coffers of the department store where she worked in exchange for a pair of near-silk brown stockings and a pair of stylish oxford ties of patent leather.

“You look like a show-girl,” was Fannie’s enthusiastic comment. “I wouldn’t have believed it of you. Why, Lila, you’re a regular little peach!”

Lila became crimson with joy.

They boarded the subway for Simpson Street. The atmosphere was hot and rancid. The two girls found standing-room only. Whenever the express curved they were thrown violently from one side of the car to the other. A young man who stood near them made a point on these occasions of laying a hand on Lila’s waist to steady her. She didn’t know whether it was proper to be angry or grateful.

“Don’t pay any attention to him,” said Fannie; “he’s just trying to be fresh, and he doesn’t know how.”

She said it loud enough for the young man to hear. Lila was very much frightened.

They left the subway at Simpson Street and boarded a jammed trolley-car for Westchester. Fannie paid all the fares.

“It’s my treat,” she said; “I’m flush. Gee, ain’t it hot! I wish we’d brought our bathing-suits.”

Much to Lila’s relief the young man who had annoyed her was no longer visible. Fannie talked all the way to Westchester in so loud a voice that nearly everybody in the car could hear her. Lila was shocked and awed by her friend’s showiness and indifference.

From Westchester they were to walk the two hot miles to the park. Already Lila’s new shoes had blistered her feet. But she did not mention this. It was her own fault. She had deliberately bought shoes that were half a size too small.

In the main street of Westchester they prinked, smoothing each other’s rumpled dresses and straightening each other’s peach-basket hats.

“Lila,” said Fannie, “everybody’s looking at you. I say you’re too pretty. Lucky for me I’ve got my young man where I want him, or else you’d take him away from me.”

“I would not!” exclaimed Lila, “and it’s you they’re looking at.”

Fannie was delighted. “Do I look nice?” she wheedled.

“You look sweet!”

As a matter of fact, Fannie looked bold and handsome. Her clothes were too expensive for her station in life. Her mother suspected how she came by them, but was so afraid of actually knowing that she never brought the point to an issue; only sighed in secret and tried not to see or understand.

Now and then motors passed through the crowds straggling to the park, and in exchange for gratuitous insults from small boys and girls left behind them long trails of thick dust and the choking smell of burnt gasoline. In the sun the mercury was at one hundred and twenty degrees.

“There’s a hog for you,” exclaimed Fannie. She indicated a stout man in shirt-sleeves. He had his coat over one arm, his collar and necktie protruding from the breast pocket. His wife, a meagre woman, panted at his side. She carried two heavy children, one of them not yet born.