Once there was a Girl with a gleaming New Hampshire Forehead who used to exchange helpful Books with a studious young Man who had an Intellect of high Voltage.
It will not be necessary to name these Gazooks, as you never heard of them.
Laura and Edgar were Comrades, in a way. They met under the Student Lamp and talked about Schopenhauer and Walter Pater, but the Affair never got beyond that Point. It was not even warm enough to be called Platonic. It carried about as much Romantic Suggestion as a cold Hot Water Bag.
There grew up between them merely a Fellowship of the Super-Mind, or what a Wimp wearing Tortoise-Shell Spectacles would call Cosmahogany.
Having cleared away the Underbrush, we will now proceed with the Narrative.
Like every other Member of the Tribe of Mansard Mentalities, they regarded with much Contempt the School of Popular Fiction.
Do you think they would stand for any of that old-style Guff about Sir Ralph getting the Hammer-Lock on Dorothy just outside the Loggia? Not on your Thought Waves!
They regarded the Article commonly called Love as a lingering Symptom of some primeval Longing for Parlor Entertainment.
It was agreed that each Soul was free and independent, and had a right to run on its own private Time-Table.
Laura said she was going to live her Life in her own Way and that no Wallopus in striped Trousers could leave her marooned in a Flat, working under Sealed Orders.
Edgar did not choose to carry Overweight while working out his Career and grew faint at the very Thought of shouldering a lot of Domestic Responsibilities.
Marriage was an institution devised for Strap-Hangers who wanted to get their Names into the Paper.
It was a childish Refuge for those who lacked Courage to forsake the beaten Paths and strike out for the High Spots.
It will be seen that they were somewhat Advanced. As far back as 1890 they were living in the 21st Century.
Laura went in for Club Work and Cold Baths and Card-Indexing.
She felt sorry for the Married Women. They were always fussed up over getting a Laundress or telling about new cases of Scarlet Rash or else ‘phoning the Office to make sure that the Bread-Winner was at the Desk and behaving himself.
When she let down her Hair at Night she did not have to do any checking up or put the bottle of Squills on the Radiator.
She was Free and Happy. A little lonesome on Rainy Days, but the freest thing you ever saw and she had her Books.
Edgar looked about him and saw the Slaves of Matrimony watching the Clock and getting ready to duck at 11 P. M. and rejoiced inwardly.
He could land in at his little Independence Hall at 4 G. M., and turn on all the Lights and drape his Wardrobe over the Rugs and light Cigarettes and there was not a Voice to break the celestial Stillness.
He figured that Children must be an awful Worry.
He brooded over the Kid Proposition so much that soon after he was 30 years of Age he used to go around and borrow his Nephews and Nieces and take them to the Circus and buy expensive Presents for them and upset the Household Rules.
Occasionally he would take a new Book dealing with the Higher Things of Life up to his old friend Laura and he would find her feeding the Birds, with the Cat asleep in the Corner and an imported Dog with many Curls pre-empting the principal Chair.
They would discuss Prison Reform and Kipling and other Subjects in no way related to the awakening of the Maternal Instinct.
When he owned up to 40 and she had stopped talking about it, the Reading Habit was no longer a Novelty with him, so merely to kill Time, he was acting on the Visiting Board of an Orphan Asylum and was a Director of the Fresh Air Fund and was putting the Office Boy through a Business College.
About the same time Laura was made the victim of a Conspiracy.
A designing Day Laborer and his Wife deliberately up and died, leaving a Chick of a Daughter, all helpless and alone.
Laura simply had to go over and grab the Young One and play Mother to her, because it all happened hardly a Mile from her own Door-Step.
She had been dodging these commonplace and old-fashioned Responsibilities all her Life and now cruel Circumstances compelled her to spend Hours in servile Attentions to a stray Specimen.
Of course, she had the Expert Advice of her old friend Edgar, who made out the Adoption Papers and sent a lot of Merchandise up to the House, out of the promptings of a broad and general sentiment of Pity for the Unfortunate.
Even when they stood up to be Married they were still stringing themselves.
He was bald and grizzled and she was a little droopy around the Shoulders and had not been able to massage away the more important Wrinkles.
They scouted the Suggestion that it was a Love Match.
It seemed that she needed a Night Watchman and he was afraid to be alone in the Dark with the Memories of the Past.
MORAL: After you pass 40 you must take charge of something Human, even if it is only a Chauffeur.