One Day a keen Business manager who thought nobody could Show him was sitting at his Desk. A Grass Widow floated in, and stood Smiling at him. She was a Blonde, and had a Gown that fit her as if she had been Packed into it by Hydraulic Pressure. She was just as Demure as Edna May ever tried to be, but the Business Manager was a Lightning Calculator, and he Surmised that the Bunk was about to be Handed to him. The Cold Chills went down his Spine when he caught a Flash of the Half-Morocco Prospectus.
If it had been a Man Agent he would have shouted “Sick ’em” and reached for a Paper-Weight. But when the Agent has the Venus de Milo beaten on Points and Style, and when the Way the Skirt sets isn’t so Poor, and she is Coy and introduces the Startled Fawn way of backing up without getting any farther away, and when she comes on with short Steps, and he gets the remote Swish of the Real Silk, to say nothing of the Faint Aroma of New-Mown Hay, and her Hesitating Manner seems to ask, “Have I or have I not met a Friend?”–in a Case of that kind, the Victim is just the same as Strapped to the Operating-Table. He has about One Chance in a Million.
The timorous but trusting little Grass Widow sat beside the Business Manager and told him her Hard-Luck Story in low, bird-like Notes. She said she was the only Support of her Little Boy, who was attending a Military School at Syracuse, N.Y. She turned the Liquid Orbs on him and had him to the Bad. He thought he would tell her that already he had more Books at Home than he could get on the Shelves, but when he tried to Talk he only Yammered. She Kept on with her little Song, and Smiled all the Time, and sat a little Closer, and he got so Dizzy he had to lock his Legs under the Office Chair to keep from Sinking Away.
When she had him in the Hypnotic State she pushed the Silver Pencil into his Right Hand, and showed him where to sign his Name. He wrote it, while the dim Sub-Consciousness told him that probably he was the Softest Thing the Lady Robber had Stood Up that Season. Then she recovered the Pencil, which he was confusedly trying to put into his Vest Pocket, and missing it about Six Inches, and with a cheery Good By she was gone.
He shook himself and took a Long Breath, and asked where he was. Then it all came back to him and he felt Ornery, and called himself Names and roasted the Office Boy in the Next Room, and made a Rule that hereafter Nobody could get at him except by Card, and if any Blonde Sharks in Expensive Costumes asked for him, to call up the Chief and ask for a Squad.
He was so Wrothy at himself for being Held Up that he could not find any Consolation except in the Fact that he had seen on the List of Subscribers the name of nearly every well-known married Citizen above the Age of 35. He was not the Only One. She had Corralled the Street.
When the Man came around to deliver the seven-pound copy of “Happy Hours with the Poets,” and he paid out his Six Silver Pieces for a queer Volume that he would not have Read for Six an Hour, he hated himself worse than ever. He thought some of giving the Book to the Office Boy, by way of Revenge, but he hit upon a Better Use for it. He put it back into the Box and carried it Home, and said to his Wife, “See what I have Bought for you.”
It occurred to him that after getting a Present like that, she ought to let him stay out every Night for a Month. But she could not see it that Way. He had to tell her that Some Women never seem to Appreciate having Husbands to Grind and Toil all day, so as to be able to purchase Beautiful Gifts for them. Then she told him that all the Women of her Acquaintance had received these Books as Presents, and a crowd of Married Men must have been given a Club Rate. Then he Spunked up and said that if she was going to look a Gift Horse in the Mouth, they wouldn’t Talk about it any more.
In the meantime the Grass Widow was living at the Waldorf-Astoria.
MORAL: Those who are Entitled to it Get it sooner or later.