Once upon a Time there was a Lovely and Deserving Girl named Clara, who was getting so near Thirty that she didn’t want to Talk about it. Everybody had a Good Word for her. She traveled with the Thoroughbreds, and was always Among Those Present; so it was hard to understand why she hadn’t Married. Other Girls not as Good-Looking or Accomplished had been grabbed off while they were Buds. Already some of them were beginning to act as Chaperons for Clara. They were keeping Tab on Clara’s Age, too, and began to think that she would land on the Bargain Counter, and have to be satisfied with a Widower who wore a Toupee and dyed his Eyebrows.
Clara was somewhat of a Mind-Reader. She knew that the Friends of her Youth were predicting a Hard Finish for her, so she decided to Fool them. And she knew that it Behooved her to Catch On before the Children started in to call her Auntie.
Now it is not to be inferred that Clara was what the Underwriters call a Bad Risk. She never had been a Drug on the Market. When she went to a Hop she did not have to wait for Ladies’ Choice in order to swing into the Mazy. In fact, she had been Engaged now and then, just for Practice, and she had received Offers from some of the holdover Bachelors who went around Proposing from Force of Habit. But Clara was not out for any man who had been Turned Down elsewhere. She wanted the Right Kind, and she was going to do the Picking herself.
Having made an Inventory of the Possibilities, she selected the Treasurer of the Shoe Factory, and decided that she could Love him without Straining herself. He was about her age, and was almost as good-looking as a Gibson Man, and had A1 Prospects. It would be no Easy Job to Land him, however, because the Competition was very keen and he was Wary, trying to be a Kind Friend to every Girl he knew, but playing no Favorites. He kept the Parents guessing. He had been Exposed to Matrimony so often without being Taken Down, that he was generally regarded as an Immune.
Clara got Busy with herself and hatched a Scheme. When all the Smart Set got ready to pike away for the Heated Term, Clara surprised her Friends by guessing that she would remain at Home. It was a Nervy Thing to do, because all the Social Head-Liners who could command the Price were supposed to flit off to a Summer Hotel, and loiter on the Pine Veranda and try to think they were Recuperating.
Clara told her Mother to go, as usual, but she would stay at Home and be a Companion to poor lonesome Papa. So all the Women went away to the Resorts with their Cameras and Talcum Powder and Witch Hazel, and Clara was left alone in Town with the Men.
It is a Traditional Fact that there is no Social Life in Town during the Dog Days. But there is nothing to prevent a Bright Girl from Starting Something. That is what Clara did.
She stocked up the Refrigerator, and hung a Hammock on the Lawn with a few Easy Chairs around it. The Young Men marooned in Town heard of the Good Thing, and no one had to tear their Garments to induce them to come. They arrived at the rate of from Seven to Twelve a Night, and dipped into Papa’s Cigars and the Liquid Nourishment, regardless. Although Clara had remained in town to act as Companion to Papa, it was noticed that when she had all the Company in the Evening, Papa either had been Chloroformed and put to Bed or else he had his Orders to stay Under Cover.