RACTICALLY ALL Branton Hills was talking about Councilman Simpkins; for Councilman Simpkins just didnt look natural; and Councilman Simpkins didnt act natural. In fact, Councilman Simpkins was crawling out of his old cocoon; and, though an ugly, snarling dowdy worm had lain for so long, shut up in that tight mass of wrappings around his brain, now a gay, smiling moth was coming out; for Councilman Simpkins was dolling up!
If Bill Gadsby was known as a tailorshops outdoor part, Old Bill was not a part. No, Old Bill was that tailor shopoutdoor, indoor, or without a door. In fact, Councilman Simpkins now had it, such as our films talk about so much today.
But Simpkins outfit was not flashy or loud. Suits of good cloth, hats of stylish form. always a bright carnation just south of his chin, boots always glossy, and a smart, springy walk, had all Broadway gasping as this Apollo-vision swung jauntily along. Nancy, happy, giggling Nancy, was all of a grin about this magic trans formation; and, with that old, inborn instinct of womanhood, told Lucy:
You just watch, and mark my word. A woman is in this pudding! Old Bill just couldnt boom out in such a way without having a goal in sight; and Ill put up a dollar on it.
And Lucy, also a woman, said smilingly:
And Ill put up a dollar and a half!
But His Honor and Lady Gadsby, at such talk would look skyward, cough, and say:-
Possibly a woman; and a mighty young woman, at that.
Now, if anything will warm up up a public, it is gossip; particularly if it is about mystifying actions of a public man; and this had soon grown to a point at which a particularly curious man or woman thought of going to Old Bill and boldly asking: Who is it? But, as I said, what Councilman Simpkins would say to such butting in was known to all Branton Hills. No. Councilman Simpkins could doll up and trot around all that that portly Solon might wish; but, so to say, a sign was always hanging from his coat front, saying:
HANDS OFF! !!
* * * *
Nina Adams and Virginia sat on Gadsbys porch with Nancy and Kathlyn; and Old Bill was up as a topic. Virginia, constantly smiling and inwardly chuckling, hadnt much to say about our frisky Councilman; and Nancy and Kathlyn couldnt fathom why. But Nina, not so backward, said:
Pffft! If a man wants to throw old clothing away and buy stylish outfits, what affair is it, but his own? It isnt right so to pick out a man, and turn him into a laughing stock of a city. Old Bill isnt a bad sort; possibly born grouchy; but if a grouchy man or woman, (and I know a bunch of that class in this town!) can pull out of it, and laugh, and find a bit of joy in living, I think it is an occasion for congratulations, not booing.
Oh, said Kathlyn, I dont think anybody is booing Councilman Simpkins. But you know that any showing of such an innovation is apt to start gossip. Just why, I dont know. It, though, is a trait of Mankind only. Animals dont bloom out so abruptly. You can hunt through Biology, Zoology or any similar study, and find but slow, -awfully slow,adaptations toward any form of variation. Hurrying was not known until Man got around.
My! said Nancy, gasping, and not giggling now, I wish that I could know all that you know, Kathy. As our slang puts it, I dont know nothin,
But, you could, said Kathlyn, if you would only study. All through our young days, you know, with you and Bill out at a card or dancing party, you in flimsy frills, and Bill swishing around in sartorial glory, I was upstairs, studying. And so was Julius.
Thats right, said Nina. I wish Virginia would study.
Oh, I am! said Virginia, all aglow. You? Studying what?
Aviation! Harold is going to show
Now, Virginia, Harold is not! and Nina Adams foot was down! Its not so bad for a man to fly, but a girl
But, Mama, lots of girls fly, nowadays.
I know that, and I also know a girl who wont! and, just as Lucy has always known that Old Tom Youngs no was a no, just so had Nina Adams brought up Virginia.
But, said Kathlyn, this sky-shooting talk isnt finding out anything about Councilman Simpkins; and Virginia said:
Possibly Old Bill wants to fly high. I think Ill ask Harold about taking him up for a jaunt.
This, bringing a happy laugh all around, Nina said:-
Now dont jolly poor Bill too much. I dont know what, or who, got him to going social. And Nancy, giggling, said:
I put up a dollar, with Lucys dollar-fifty that its a woman.
Oh, I dont know, now, said Nina. A man isnt always trotting around on a womans apron strings, and, as it was growing dark, Nina and Virginia got up to go.
Passing down Gadsbys front walk, a soft night wind brought back to that porch:
Now, Virginia, quit this! You will stay on solid ground!
Aw, Ma! Harold says
But a big bus, roaring by, cut it short.
* * * *
Just a month from this, His Honor, sitting on his porch with his Morning Post ran across a short bit, just two rows of print, which had him calling Hi! which Lady Gadsby took as a signal for a quick trip to that porch.
All right, Your Honor! On duty! Whats up?
Gadsby, folding his Post into a narrow column, and handing it to that waiting lady, said nothing. As that good woman saw that paragraph. Gadsby saw first a gasp, following that, a grin, and finally:
Why! Of all things! So thats Nina
That row of print said, simply:
By Pastor Brown, on Saturday night, in Pastors study, Nina Adams and Councilman Simpkins.
Why! said Lady Gadsby, laughing, Nina sat on this porch only last month, talking about Old Bill, but saying nothing about this! Im going right around to hug that darling woman; for that is what I call tact.
So, as Nina and our Lady sat talking, Nina said:
You know that Bill and I, growing up from kids in school, always got along grandly; no childhood spats; but, still it was no crush such as Youth falls into. As Bill got out of high school, I still had two rooms to go through. You also know that I wasnt a Miss for long from graduation day. But Irving Adams was lost in that awful Titanic calamity, and I brought up my baby in my widowhood. Bill was always sympathizing and patronizing, though all Branton Hills thought him a cast-iron grouch. But a public man is not always stiff and hard in his off hours; and Bill and I, slowly but gradually finding many a happy hour could
All right, you grand, luscious thing!! and Lady Gadsby and Nina sat laughing on a couch, as in old, old school days. And, said Nina, happily; poor Bills upstairs, now, putting his things around to suit him. Living for so long in a small lodging all his things staid in a trunk. A lodging-room always has various folks around, you know, and a man dont lay his things out as in his own room. So
Nina, said Lady Gadsby; do you know what brought him out of his old shut-in way of looking at things?
From just a word or two Bill drops, occasionally, I think that a child is
And Lady Gadsby, said; You know our Good Books saying about: And a tiny child shall ,