School was over. The happy children, their books swinging carelessly at a strap’s end, tripped out into the Spring fields—Wait a minute, that’s the wrong story.
School was over. Without marking the page, the nineteen-year-old teacher closed McMaster’s History of the United States, stood up and said in an uncertain voice: “I suppose you know this will be my last day—”
“Good for you, kid!” a pupil cried in the front row.
“We’re all for you, Dolly. Go on out and knock ’em dead!”
There was a spontaneous ovation. When it died away the teacher continued:
“I’m sorry you aren’t all coming with me—yet. Just remember when the days seem awfully long—that we’ve all got to go to school.”
Her friendly gaze moved down the rows where the women convicts sat—the sad, the shifty-eyed, the hard, the weak—each one dressed like herself in a belted smock of prison grey. For two years she had shared their lives—the same roof, the same food, the endless monotony. Now, in a few hours, she would be free and, as the word filled her mind like a song, their faces seemed to slip with all old unhappy things into the past.
“That’s all,” she said, stepping down from her desk. “School is over.”
School is over. In another educational institution not a hundred miles away a great bronze bell is ringing in a central tower. The campus is swarming suddenly with life. A stream of young men pours from each of twoscore arched doors, blurs to a crowd that eddies about for a moment in the green quadrangle, and then dividing once more into orderly streams files through other arched doorways and disappears. The young men are dressed in knickerbockers that are not too big, flannels not too wide, or in “business” suits that have no collegiate smack about them; if they wore sweaters, which they don’t, there would be no letter on them no matter how legitimately won for this is one of the oldest and most conservative of eastern universities, given over in large measure to the education of those who have had money for several generations, and its manners are simply the good manners of the world outside.
Whistling and in step a last group has moved out of sight across the campus. A lost rider has taken his bicycle from its place against the ivied wall and pedaled away, when two young men enter the quadrangle hurriedly and head for a doorway, conscious of being late. They are the two Manny brothers, one of whom, Ben, is the hero of this story.
Ben is tall, long-legged, fair (or so I see him) and, if not handsome, at least has reserve, consideration and dignity in his face. He is what used to be known as a “superior” person—that is he is sure of himself, he knows that his position in this world is based on solid rock of confidence and plenty and this has given him an air of “Who are you, anyhow?” toward those whose breeding he suspects—and even a certain arrogance. All this, mind you, is carefully hidden—otherwise he would be merely a snob. Only occasionally when he is excited does his politeness relax and this quality of “superiority” shows forth suddenly. In a way he is like his university—a symbol of its type. He is a man who is recognized, even deferred to, without being quite popular. He is twenty-two, a senior, the chairman of the dance committee and belongs to one of the best fraternities in college.
His brother Cupid is more human, more democratic, more popular and a great deal stouter. Not a roly-poly fat boy—he nevertheless reminds you of comfortable chairs, beer, hospitality, bawdy laughter.
On a classroom door the brothers are confronted by the following notice in pen and ink.
“Prof. Swope’s group in Science of Society will meet by the main gateway at for an experimental trip to Hamlin Prison.”
They consult their watches, rush to the rendezvous. The party starts out in two cars.
At the other educational institution our late teacher, Miss Dolly Carrol, is preparing with the means at her disposal for her exit into the world. The means consist—some white powder in a piece of paper, a black spot drawing crayon, which must do service as an eye pencil, and a short stick of lip rouge which seems to have dried out in the balmy days of Lillian Russell, and yields no red. Look at her a moment. What mark have these two years left on her? No prison pallor, but in her eyes a sadness, a baffled hunger for life. Part of her youth has been lost here, and the sting and ignominy of it will stay with her for awhile.
Look around her cell and you will hear the drums that have beat in her ear on lonely nights. Pictures of debutantes, of society functions, bathing beauties, actresses, golf champions, film stars— people revelling through life, being happy.
Miss Mimi Haughton presented to society at dinner dance at the Plaza.
Flapper Army besieges Mayor for Mother’s Relief.
Contest winner gets lead in “Amorous Love.”
“Necking parties on wane” say Club Women.
These are life to her—the world outside…
The pathetic lipstick breaks, loses its pieces beneath the bed. She gropes for them, finds a morsel and presses it against her lips as if to extract its secret. She looks at herself hopefully—and then the futility of her little efforts to impress the world outside sweeps over her and tears that she bravely neglects to shed, glisten in her eyes.
Another scene. The group of young men from a plutocratic university who have chosen to study the science of society have entered the prison. Accompanied by a warden they make a tour of the cells.
Ben Manny lingers behind the others already overcome by a profound distaste. When the distorted face of a devilish hag, a face full of hate, malice, and condensed evil leers out at him from one cell, he starts, jumps away in horror.
In her cell Dolly, dressed simply in her old street clothes, makes a last round of the small monotonous walls.
“Mimi Haughton, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. A. P. Haughton of 39 East 68th Street.”…
A newspaper clipping of a young, chic debutante,—piquant face, dress from the Rue de la Paix.
“You wait,” Dolly says, gazing defiantly at the picture.”I’ll catch up with you.”
A prisoner delivering mail stops at the cell door, congratulates Dolly on her release and gives her a letter and a package. They have an interesting flavor, as mail sometimes has. But before Dolly has time to do more than speculate upon them the students of sociology, Professor Swope in the lead, move curiously past her cell.
Professor Swope—a small man of thirty with a mother to support, impractical, inexperienced, fatuous—yet within his limits honorable, earnest, thorough, aglow with the latest ideas about reforming the criminal and uplifting the lost.
He sees Dolly.
All the young men see Dolly.
She is used to being looked at as a specimen. She stares back boldly. The group halts—the professor gathers the group about him and in a whisper asks them how they can regard this girl as anything but a victim of bad living conditions or bad early environment. One look at her would convince anyone of that.
Ben Manny, a little in the rear, wanders up. His eyes meet Dolly’s. He is not interested—he passes on, catches up with the group in time to hear the last of the professor’s words.. . .
But something has happened to Dolly. She is not able to look back defiantly and indifferently at this boy. She turns away from his eyes, busies herself about the cell—then stares after him, excited and discontented. Luckily she can’t hear what he’s saying: “Bunch of degenerates, Professor. Aren’t there enough deserving people to pity without wasting it on the dregs of humanity? We’re a nation of sentimentalists—a pretty face can do no wrong.”
The Professor listens, determined he will be broadminded. But the face of the girl in the cell he has just passed haunts him.
One young man nudges Cupid Manny.
“See the one back there, Cupid? She didn’t have a previous engagement. You could ask her down to the prom. You’d be sure of her anyhow.”
Professor Swope is annoyed at the facetious note.
“You might do worse,” he murmurs.
The group passes on. Putting Ben Manny’s supercilious face out of mind Dolly opens her letter.
My Dearest Niece:
Two years ago when the firm found out that someone had been selling their chemical formulas to a rival you took the shame and blame from your old uncle’s shoulders and saved his worthless life by going to prison in his place. I’ve prospered out here in New Mexico and I haven’t forgotten. You’re not going to be a typist any more.
Take what you find waiting for you outside the prison gates, and enjoy the youth and happiness you sacrificed $94
Your loving and grateful Uncle.
Years ago I stumbled on an old Indian Chemical secret called “The scent of love.” I have made it into a gift for you.
Confused Dolly drops the letter, and opens the package—it contains a large red lipstick in a case of curious design. Before she can examine it a guard comes to the door of her cell and cheerfully,
“Whether you want to or not—out you go.”
He picks up her grip.
The warden in his office is formally polite. He dumps out the little box that contains her few small possessions, among them a diploma from a business school—and adds the usual gifts of the state, some good advice and a five dollar bill. He likes Dolly. They shake hands.
Meanwhile Professor Swope has been seized by a curious longing to talk to the pretty prisoner. What was her offense —or hermisfortune? He steps away from his students and retraces his steps toward her cell. It is empty. A prisoner sweeping tells him that Dolly is free and directs him to the warden’s office—
She has just emerged and is trying the lipstick, curiously and eagerly, glad merely for the fact that it will make her lips red.
“I beg your pardon, here is my card. I saw your face and I couldn’t resist wanting to talk to you. They told me you were leaving today. If there’s anything I can do—”
What a kind world. What a funny little man. She smiled at him—he became confused.
“I’m all right,” she said. “Thanks.”
Why, she was beautiful he thought. To offer her charity was an insult. To think that his students had spoken trivially of such a girl.
The prom indeed—how many prom girls could look at a man with a gaze as fresh and lovely. Probably she would behave as well as anyone at a prom. What an experiment it would be to take her. That mouth—it was like a flower—why, it was worth a life time of study—of devotion.
“Professor!” Her voice brought him to himself—his lips were not two inches away from hers.
“I beg your pardon,” he faltered. Then words springing from some spontaneous source gushed from him, “Would you honor me by coming with me to the University dance next month?”
He was trembling, astonished at himself.
“Me?” Dolly laughed. Stuff of her dreams. “No thanks. But you’re very kind.” And then with a touch of suspicion, “Did you want to parade me around in my ball and chain?”
He looked so hurt that she smiled kindly and thanked him again.
“I really mean it. I—” She stepped back hurriedly—again he was swaying toward her.
“You can help me with my bag,’’ she said and turned toward the great doorway. Picking up the cardboard grip he followed her. The turnkey shook hands with Dolly—the gate swung open. In a trance she passed through, stepped into the sunshine, heard a trim deferential voice at her ear.
“Miss Dolly Carrol?”
A liveried chauffeur stood attention beside her, holding a coat of Russian sable over his arm.
“This is your car, Miss Carrol—” It was a lemon colored Rolls-Royce. Dolly looked incredulously from the car to the chauffeur.
“It’s a mistake,” she said.
“No mistake, Miss Carrol.”
Suddenly the full meaning of her uncle’s letter burst over her. “You are to be a typist no longer”—My God, it wasn’t just a prisoner’s hallucination, induced by months of loneliness and
“Your coat, Miss Carrol.”
Her arms slid into the silken sleeves. The chauffeur opened the limousine door. She took a faltering step, hesitated, but the professor’s face convinced her that it was real—he was as astonished—overwhelmed as she. Dolly got in.
From the prison emerged the group of students.
“My God,” ejaculated Cupid, “it’s that girl.” Ben nodded, cynically. “Evidently she hid the swag well.”
Dolly saw them, and her own chin went up.
“Goodbye professor,” she said graciously. “May we meet again.”
Her hand still clasped the diploma from a business school. With another haughty glance at the staring faces she folded it, tore it up and flung it to the breeze. Then she snuggled down into her sable coat.
“The Ritzmore, New York,” she said.
This is the end of the first sequence.
It’s better to be poor and popular on a side street than to be rich and lonesome in a fashionable hotel. Dolly is so lonesome that she pretends not to be—behold her in the lobby trying to look as if she hopes no one will speak to her. She drives “to the Stuyvesants at Southampton” and once out of the city she climbs into the front seat, shares a lunch box with the chauffeur, and drives back to the Ritzmore. On her return from one of these expeditions she finds the lobby swarming with college boys and young girls. She asks information from a clerk. He tells her that these are the outward and visible signs of prom week.
At the sight of these girls, the flowers of many cities from coast to coast, Dolly feels a pang. The prom stands for music, lights, fashion, youth—the things that apparently she had missed forever.
“I beg your pardon.” A man brushes against her and without looking at her passes with his companion, but not too quick for her to recognize Ben Manny, the haughty handsome boy whose face hadhaunted her since she left prison. And the girl with him is none other than the newspaper clipping come to life. The Mimi Haughton who one day last fall had been “presented to society at a dinner at the Plaza.”
Another familiar face—
A stout boy standing beneath the clock and looking anxiously at his watch. She remembers that he was one of the party of students that day.
A page squirms through the crowd. Ben stops him, looks at the address on the telegram and directs him to his brother, under the clock.
“Bet you Cupid’s girl can’t come,” says Ben to Mimi Haughton.
Cupid opens the telegram with forebodings.
Mother ill in Albany. Can’t come. In tears. Grace.
It is a standard joke that Cupid’s girl whoever she may be never arrives. He grinds his teeth as he realizes that he is in for some heavy kidding. He is trudging gloomily out of the lobby when he comes face to face with Dolly.
“Hello,” she says.
Pretty girl. He wonders where he has known her and then suddenly remembers. Because he is sorry for her he stands for a moment chatting. Then he realized that dressed as she was in perfect taste, she isn’t a pitiable object at all.
Down the corridor he sees Ben and Mimi and Mimi’s mother going into the tea dance. The scent of perfume and powder is heavy on the air. The melody of “Meadowlark” floats out into the lobby. If that damn girl, would only—“I beg your pardon,” he says suddenly. His face has managed to slide up to within a foot of Dolly’s.
“Look here,” he says to Dolly, “come in and have some tea.”
“Is it all right to invite me?”
He is struck by an even more radical idea. This girl is a beauty and seems to be a pretty good counterfeit of a lady. No one knows who she is—why not take her to the prom and pretend she’s the one he originally invited.
They go into the tea room and join Ben’s party. Cupid has asked Dolly her name—now he introduces her in turn to Ben, Mimi and Mimi’s mother. During the introduction a parrot on a perch overhead—one of six in the room—glares down at Dolly and cries “Who’s this? Who’s this?” in a shrill voice.
Ben looks angrily from Dolly to his brother. This is really too much—when he gets Cupid alone he’ll give him a piece of his mind.
Mrs. Haughton’s politeness toward any girls who might compete with her daughter, Mimi, is effusive but artificial. Mimi is nineteen, a pretty, sharp-featured girl with a cynical worldly line of New York chatter. She is definitely “after” Ben Manny who represents everything she desires.
Cupid shows Ben the telegram which says that his girl, Grace, can’t come. The music starts. Ben dances with Mimi, Cupid with Dolly.
On the floor the attraction of the lipstick begins to act on Cupid. Why, this girl is wonderful—only with considerable difficulty does he restrain himself from kissing her on the floor. When they sit down he begins working around to the subject of the prom. Suddenly Ben perceives with horror what Cupid has in mind. Ben has nothing against Dolly personally but it is his honest conviction that it wouldn’t do at all.
“Miss Carrol,” says Cupid, “I wonder if you would care to—”
Ben interrupts him by asking for the sugar and gives Cupid a warning glance that Cupid pretends not to see.
“Miss Carrol,” he resumes, “This week-end—”
Again Ben’s voice, cold as ice, asking for the cream. And now Dolly understands what is happening. Her eyes meet Ben’s, first hurt and then defiant, and they stare at each other so tensely that Mimi and Mrs. Haughton sense the conflict. But they don’t guess the truth—that Ben has determined that Cupid will only bring this girl to the prom over his dead body.
“I was wondering, if you had nothing to do this week-end, if you would—”
A page boy winding among the tables cuts the suspense with—
“Mr. Manny! Mr. Manny!”
Cupid is wanted on the phone. He excuses himself and goes out to a booth—it is his girl on long distance. Mother is better. She can come. If Cupid could see the childhood sweetheart to whom he is talking over the phone he would have been less jubilant. Little Grace Jones has grown—she is no longer a sylph-like child of 75 pounds, but an oversized duofold model of 190, who can hardly get into the booth. But Cupid is happily unaware of this as he returns to the table and announces that his girl is coming after all. Ben tries to hide his look of relief and Dolly hers of disappointment. Neither succeeds.
“I’m honestly sorry,” Cupid whispers, “I was just about to ask you.”
But Dolly has jumped in turn to an audacious decision.
“To the prom?” she asks in a clear guileless voice. “Oh, that’s nice of you but I couldn’t have accepted. I’m going with another man.” She gets up. “Good bye. I’ll see you all there.”
And as she turns away, her chin uptilted, the parrot overhead makes a final comment.
“Some baby! Some baby!”
Thus ends the second sequence.
Every train to the University town was jammed to the doors. Five hundred girls and half as many chaperones with trunks, bags, escorts and even an occasional personal maid were dumped in batches on the station platform whence they drove off in Fords, Packards, omnibuses, Victorias and seagoing hacks to the Club or hotel that would house them during their stay.
Dolly had wired Professor Swope she was coming and as the crowd poured from the train, she picked him out in his frock coat, waiting nervously for her on the platform.
“Well—I came,” she said. “Are you sorry?”
“Not at all.” And after one look at her he wasn’t.
The University is situated in a town of ten thousand people. Its grey Gothic architecture sprawls for miles over a green undulating campus—with here and there for variety, a hall that was old before the revolution began. On this same day the campus was alive with people—there were alumni in their reunion costumes, fathers and mothers, small brothers and sisters, prom girls, undergraduates in white bound for tennis or in tweeds bound for golf. Suddenly Dolly grew rigid as a long line of convicts walking in lock step and preceded by some pitiful little child convicts turned a corner into sight.
“How horrible,” she thought. “A prison even here!”
She breathed easier as she saw a sign the leader carried on a pole: “Reunion. Class of 1920.”
Her suitcase was enormous. It was all the professor could do to lift it off the ground. They had walked scarcely fifty yards, and the professor had already stopped several times to rest, when the Manny party in a big Marmon drove past, scattering insolent dust.
They passed through a Gothic arch and walked down the main street where undergraduates sat in chairs and benches tipped back against the storefronts and watched the girls go by. They stopped at the University Arms, an old inn where the professor had arranged for her to stay.
When she emerged and the week-end began.
They started for—a ball? No, an athletic contest?—wrong again. It was the professor’s idea that Dolly would appreciate a nice lecture on sociology that by good luck was scheduled for that day. As they walked along he rubbed his hands with pleasure—oblivious to the glances Dolly was attracting. A hundred eyes followed her—one young man paid her the compliment of falling over backward in his chair.
Evidently that was their destination—this pleasant colonial building with a jazzy band booming outside and couples strolling on the porch and a few young men loitering on the lawn outside. Her steps quicken, her cheeks brighten. How kind of the little professor to come out of his retirement and give her this good time!
But—what’s this, they’re going past—to another building, a recitation hall next door? That sign.
LECTURE ON CRIMINAL SOCIOLOGY
Phineas Hasslacher, Ph.D.
Professors and their wives are already going in. Dolly looks around in despair. The music is loud from the house beside.
“I know you’ll enjoy this,” says the professor, pointing at the sign and waiting for her exclamation of pleasure. At this moment her eyes fall on Cupid Manny.
He has just come out the Slide and Glide Club, hot and discouraged. He has been dancing with Grace for an hour and he needs a drink—safe behind a colonial pillar he tips a flask into his mouth. Then he sees Dolly. Gosh—why isn’t she his partner instead of this hippopotamus in ruffles. But he sees where she’s bound and guesses that she has her troubles too.
Why not invite them both in?
“Hey! wait a minute,” he calls. Dolly’s face brightens. He crosses the lawn and issues the invitation.
No. The professor shakes his head and looks significantly at Cupid. It’s impossible. But—that music. Dolly’s feet flirt eagerly with the sidewalk.
“Can’t we, professor?” she begs.
“Come on,” insists Cupid. “You’ll learn much more about crime in here.”
Takes the lecture sign and places it in front of the Club door.
“This way, professor.”
The professor is half pulled, half persuaded toward the door ofthe Slide and Glide Club. Meanwhile a new column of faculty couples arrive. They see the sign and cross the lawn toward it. The first couple has almost reached the Club house steps when Cupid sees what’s happening and returns the notice to its proper place. The column of ponderous and absent-minded pedagogues winds about like a snake following the sign—but this time to the right door.
There has been an interested observer to the scene—a gentleman of whom we will see more. He is Joe Jakes, the proctor or campus cop—a stout, heavily moustached, plainclothes man responsible to the Dean for the students’ behavior. He doesn’t like the incident at all.
Meanwhile the professor still protesting has been persuaded into the Slide and Glide Club. It consists of a great stoneflagged central hall, looking out through high French windows on to a veranda and a row of tennis courts. On one side of the hall is a card room where chaperones are sitting down to bridge, on the other a great dim billiard room where couples stroll during the intermissions, knock the billiard balls about or occupy one of the large soft divans which line the walls.
In the central hall about twenty couples are dancing to the music of a Bohemian orchestra. Like all college dances in the East and South, this is a “Cut-in” affair—a stag may break in on whom he likes and dance with her until he himself is relieved. The unfortunate man who is dancing with Cupid’s girl, Grace Jones, has been “stuck” with her for some time. He has now resorted to the unusual experiment of holding a five dollar bill behind her back as a reward to anyone who will cut in.
Ben Manny, standing among the stags, sees Dolly and Professor Swope come in. Politely but coldly he shakes hands.
But he is alone in his indifference to her. No sooner has she danced off with Cupid than he is besieged with requests for an introduction. He has no choice but to comply and is thus put in the position of sponsoring a girl of whose presence his brother disapproves.
Dolly is more than popular—she is a riot. The professor follows her about looking for a dance, but some young fellow is always too nimble for him and cuts in ahead. Several times he taps the shoulder of the man she’s dancing with, only to find she’s already sailed off in someone else’s arms.
Ben Manny stands in the stag-line frowning. The annoying conviction creeps over him that by not dancing with Dolly he’s missing something. She passes close to him and their eyes meet; her mouth is but a yard away and irresistably he takes a step after her—
Too late. A man grabs his arm hurriedly.
“I’ve got to leave immediately, Ben. Would you mind taking care of Miss Jones?”
And Grace Jones is unceremoniously thrust into his arms. He is in for an arduous hour.
Herc Harkness, a tall, lean boy, a little stewed, innocently calls Mimi Haughton’s attention to the fact that Dolly’s partners all look as if they were going to kiss her. When men are close to her they seem to see her lips surrounded by a crowd of honey bees.
An intermission in the dance brings Mimi and Dolly close together. With feigned cordiality, Mimi takes out her powder puff and pretends to look for a lipstick.
“How annoying,” she exclaims. “I’ve lost it. May I borrow yours?”
But a look in her eyes warns Dolly. She answers innocently that she hasn’t got a lipstick with her. Mimi smiles to herself knowing that Dolly has it in her handbag and moves contemptuously.
Dolly and Cupid walk out into the billiard room and sit in a window open to the gathering June dusk. Two boys have just finished playing tennis on the court outside and are putting up their rackets. It is a lovely and romantic night. Cupid, a little tight now, groans to think that he must pass the evening with Grace. He produces his flask and offers it to Dolly, who refuses it. He drains it and in doing so leans back farther and farther until he loses his balance and topples head over heels out the open window. So surprisingly neat has been his exit that Dolly jumps up with astonishment at finding that she is suddenly alone.
At this moment Grace, discouraged at her luck on the dance floor, has maneuvered the unhappy Ben into the billiard room and is suggesting that they sit down on a couch and talk. Ben is desperate—he has been with her for half an hour. His eyes, roaming about looking for an excuse, fall on a slim figure walking through the dark billiard room toward the music. Ben doesn’t recognize her but he pretends to and exclaims to Grace.
“That girl is looking for me. We have this dance.”
He dashes across the room and in terror lest Grace pursue him, he seizes Dolly and dances her around between the tables with,explaining and apologizing. Only then does he realize who he has in his arms.
“I wondered if you were going to dance with me,” Dolly says, looking up at him.
He has no answer.
“You hate me. Don’t you? If you keep on hating me I’m going back to New York tonight.”
“Don’t be absurd,” he says quickly.
“But you think I have no business here.”
“No, I don’t,” he says embarrassed. “I suppose any girl as pretty as you can go anywhere, even—” He pauses.
“Even if she’s just out of jail,” she finishes for him, and adds, “So you really think I’m pretty?”
He looks down at her in the half darkness. Outside the window a boy lights a gas street lamp and the glow falls on her face. Grace has gone out of the billiard room, intercepting, annexing Professor Swope just outside the door. Ben and Dolly are alone.
“You’re beautiful,” he whispers involuntarily.
“What—what feature do you think is the prettiest?”
He looks at her once more—then it is as though an invisible hand presses his head forward, until their lips meet and cling.
For a moment they dance on—then simultaneously they break apart, and, breathing hard, Dolly leans back against a billiard table. Neither of them has seen the shadow of Mimi, a shadow with clenched fists, flit past down the hall.
“I beg your pardon,” Ben gasps.
“Oh, don’t say that! Don’t say that!”
“I forgot everything. Your lips were so beautiful.”
In a turmoil of emotion Dolly accompanies him back to the dancing floor. She must have him now or it will break her heart.
This ends the Third Sequence.
Night. Two unsteady figures detach themselves from the shadow of the Slide and Glide Club and move off down the street. They are Cupid Manny and his friend Herc Harkness. Taking care of Grace has proved too heavy an assignment and Cupid, encouraged by a pint of Scotch, has backed out.
“I will now give my celebrated imitation of the Dean.”
The Dean one gathers is a person who walks with his feet turned out, with a fifty cent piece in his eye and with his head bobbing up and down as if it were on a wire. Also that he habitually reels from one side to the other.
“You stagoning,” says Herc reprovingly.
“Stagoning from one side to the other side. Watch me.”
They compete against each other, unaware that not far behind them a third party is apparently playing the same game. The third party, however, is fifty years old, doesn’t stagger and seems quite at home in his impersonation. In fact he is the Dean. Luckily he is nearsighted.
Suddenly Cupid and Here stop short. Under a lamp-post on the next corner stands the sinister figure Joe Jakes, the cop, and he is bending a curious gaze in their direction. They turn quickly and break into a run. So does Joe Jakes. They see the Dean—caught between two fires they duck into a long hedge-bordered walk, intending to hide until the danger is over.
“That was pretty close,” whispers Cupid.
To their horror the Dean turns up the walk and comes toward them. They retreat. Before them is the open door of a house and over it the sign “Faculty Club” but this they do not see. They have no choice but to go in. Always fifty feet behind them, walking very deliberately, comes the Dean.
Upstairs they went. Came the Dean. Into a large reception room they hurried. Came the Dean. To their confused minds he seemed to be pursuing them with deadly persistence. They ran into a room separated from by drawn curtains. To their relief the Dean did not appear. Peeking through they saw him handing his hat, coat and gloves to an attendant, as if he were making a stay.
They took breath and looked around. A table was spread for twelve diners and on it a large card proclaimed the dinner of the Sociology Department. Slowly it dawned on them that they are in the very camp of the enemy.
“Look!” said Herc. “Beautiful food.”
A dish of glowing hors d’oeuvre adorned the center of the table and suddenly they realize that they are hungry. They nibble on a canape of anchovy, then a canape caviare.. . five minutes pass … a lone, slightly rumpled sardine sleeps upon the dish in solitary state.
“No need for these little forks now,” suggests Cupid. “Let’s take ’em away.”
The forks are removed. That leaves three utensils on side of each plate and only two on the other. The discrepancy is remedied by the removal of the butter knives.
“Let’s take all the silver,” says Herc, “I got a low mark in sociology last year.”
They gather up the remaining tableware and while Herc ties it up neatly into a napkin, Cupid draws aside the curtain to investigate the commotion now audible in the next room. It is full of people. He starts as he discovers Dolly and Professor Swope. The professor has his back toward the curtain. Signalling violently Cupid manages to catch Dolly’s eye. She stares back in astonishment. He beckons her, warning her to silence. After some maneuvering, she manages to slip through the curtain into the dining room where with considerable pride Cupid and Herc show her the napkin full of silver.
“But you’ll be caught and expelled,” she says in alarm. “You’d better put it all back where it was and go home to bed.”
It takes some time to get this through their befuddled minds and any minute the diners may come in from the next room; Dolly hurries to the window and looks out—under the lamp-post across the street stands the figure of Joe Jakes, the proctor.
Simultaneously there is a sound of movement from the next room. Dolly opens the door of a large linen closet, hustles the two boys protesting inside, and hurriedly turns the key. She picks up the napkin full of silver and starts for the table, just as the curtains quiver. She has only time to step aside and pretend to enter with the others.
It is on the tip of her tongue to tell the whole story to the professor and to hand him the bundle, but she realizes in time that he of all people would fail to understand. He would think—heavens! He would think that she had stolen the silver—that he had indeed been rash to bring along a girl just out of jail.
With dignity the party seats itself and Dolly, trembling a little, continues to hold the bulky bundle on her knee. In a moment all will be known and she must either give over Cupid and his friend to the authorities or leave the University in disgrace.
At this point a waiter picks up the hors d’oeuvre once so resplendent and finds that it consists of one sardine. He rushes to the steward. It is incredible. Amazed and horrified the steward orders him to say nothing, but to serve the soup.
The scarcity of silver now begins to be felt. The Dean summons the steward and points out that no doubt this little detail has been overlooked. The steward cannot believe his eyes. There is a rapid scurrying between the dining room and the kitchen, from which presently red-faced waiters appear looking as if they had gone through the third degree. Eventually the steward approaches the Dean.
“The silver has been stolen, sir.”
The word goes down the table. Dolly trembles violently—a spoon slips from the bundle and falls to the floor—fortunately without noise.
“That is unfortunate,” says the Dean. “Put out some more silver.”
“There is no more. It has all been rented to the prom committee for the dance tomorrow night.”
The Dean looks at him wrathfully.
“We’ve got to eat,” he roars. “Get us something—even if it’s only chopsticks. Unless somebody’s stolen the dinner.”
The kitchen is ransacked. Waiters presently appear with half pint spoons of tin or wood, toasting forks with two prongs, carving knives, pancake turners, cleavers, even an egg beater, and with horrified glances at one another the faculty begins to dine.
Let us draw a curtain over the obscene spectacle and return to Dolly. On her left fate has placed a certain professor pedagogue well along in years, but of amorous inclinations. He has been to many faculty dinners, but he has never drawn such a high number before. Under the very eyes of his wife he begins, with a suggestive wink, to work on Dolly.
His method is to pinch her leg under the table, and each time that she feels his hand on her knee she draws away. Unfortunately the movement invariably dislodges a piece of silver, which falls with a sharp tinkle to the floor. She holds her breath to see if anyone has heard and then kicks it deftly far under the table.
The professor, seeing her forced wooden smile and imagining that he is making an impression, continues his tactics. He even begins to edge his chair toward her until recalled to himself by a frigid glance from his wife.
In the closet Cupid and Herc, refreshed by a short sleep, awaken and try the door. It is locked. Philosophically they settle down to wait and meanwhile beguile the time with cigarettes, blowing the smoke out through the keyhole. The Dean sniffs suspiciously. Seeing a cloud of it arise, apparently from Professor Valentine, he says:
“It is not the custom to smoke until the end of dinner.”
A minute later another cloud of it drifts out of Professor Valentine’s lap and the Dean angrily orders him to put out his cigarette. Professor Valentine begins protesting his innocence and this effectually distracts his attention from Dolly, and she takes advantage of this to wipe some rouge from her lips. It is high time, for there is now a pleasant pile of silver on the floor.
The Dean rises to begin his speech.
“What,” he demands, “is the greatest influence on college life today?”
From the closet in harmony floats the fragment of a song:
“The Black Bottom—a new Twister—”
At Dolly’s nervous suggestion Professor Swope gets up and closes the window.
The party is to finish with the college cheer. It is the custom at dinners to give this with the napkin held in the right hand and waved to and fro. The Dean gives the signal and all arise.
Dolly is in a panic. She lays the bundle on the table and reaches for the nearest napkin, which happens to be that of Professor Swope. The professor’s hand gropes over the table, hunting for it-encounters the napkin containing the silver instead.
“Are you ready?” cries the Dean, raising his napkin.
“Ray! Ray! Ray!
“Rah! Rah! Rah!—”
The cheer gets no farther, for from Professor Swope’s waving napkin fly the knives, forks and spoons, bounding and scattering from end to end of the table like flowers from a cornucopia.
The Dean’s face grows purple, Professor Swope’s goes white. Everyone looks at the latter, horrified at his unprecedented temerity. Throwing down his napkin the Dean stalks from the room and, chattering excitedly, the others follow.
This finishes the Fourth Sequence.
Leaving the professor to clear himself as best he can Dolly lingers discreetly behind. When the room is empty she unlocks the door of the linen closet and with some impatience tells Cupid and Herc that they must go straight to their rooms before they cause further trouble.
They are pathetic in their helplessness. They start to walk out through the reception room—Dolly barely prevents them in time. A glance out the window shows Joe Jakes still on guard under the lamp-post across the street. Dolly sees that by themselves they are incapable of getting home without detection. But she thinks of her duty to the professor—hesitates—
“Come along,” she says finally, “I’ll take you part of the way.”
They go out through the kitchen and, eluding Joe Jakes, start across the campus. Outside the dormitory where Cupid rooms with his brother, she tries to turn back, but Cupid sits down stubbornly on a step and refuses to move.
“I want to be taken home.”
More to get rid of them than to oblige them she leads them upstairs and opens the door of the study shared by the two brothers.
It is a large room with cushioned seats under the leaded windows, arm chairs, work tables, many books and a piano. A bedroom leads out from either side. On the walls are some framed groups—football teams, committees, etc., but no girls’ photographs and no pennants. At present there are half a dozen people in the room—Mimi, her mother, Grace and Ben, who are cooking a Welsh Rarebit, and two other boys, one of whom is playing the piano. Almost as soon as Dolly enters a definite hostility comes into the air.
“Good evening,” says Ben, polite but puzzled.
“They were sleepy,” explains Dolly, indicating Cupid and Herc. “I thought they’d be better off at home.”
The culprits go unashamed to the piano and become musical. Mimi remarks loud enough for Dolly to hear.
“Some people can always find an excuse for attending parties they’re not invited to.”
Dolly turns to her in surprise and is met with an insolent stare. In her annoyance she lays her purse down on the table, where it immediately catches Mimi’s eye. Mimi knows that in that purse is the lipstick.
“I’m sorry to intrude,” flashes Dolly. “This was forced upon me. Good night.”
“Hey, wait a minute,” says Cupid. “I’m going to take you home.”
“You stay right where you are,” says Ben angrily. “You’re not going out of here this evening.”
“I’ve got to take Dolly home.”
“I’ll take her home,” snaps Ben impatiently. Cupid subsides.
Mimi, her eyes still on the purse, has crossed the room and as Dolly turns to Ben with a crisp “Please don’t bother,” she dexterously slides Dolly’s purse from the table into a fold of her gown. Then she saunters cooly away, unaware that Cupid and Herc, though muddled and uncomprehending, have seen her action.
Dolly turns and starts down the stairs and Ben, excusing himself to Mimi and her mother, follows.
About this time Professor Swope confused and distressed by his experience of the evening is coming out of the faculty club. He is in disgrace—the Dean has accepted his protestations of innocence, but still believes that he is in some way responsible. Worse, the professor has lost Dolly. He doesn’t know whether she has departed with disgust at him, or with guilt at having taken the silver herself. At any rate he must find her.
He starts down the street one way, then turns and goes down the other. To Joe Jakes, under his lamp-post, his excited actions appear suspicious. Joe wants to know what has become of the two drunks who disappeared with and it seems to him that this little man is acting very oddly indeed. He takes a menacing step in the professor’s direction.
Professor Swope’s nerves are jumpy and his first thought when he sees the familiar figure coming toward him is that the Dean is having him arrested for stealing the silver. He quickens his pace, so does Joe Jakes, he breaks into a run—Joe Jakes follows.
Over the campus goes the chase, in and out of the moonlight. A branch knocks off the professor’s derby and Joe picks it up without stopping.
Up in the Mannys’ room Cupid and Herc are witnesses to a peculiar accident. They see Mimi remove something from Dolly’s purse and then, looking about for a hiding place, drop the purse into the thin space behind the window seat. There is a look of triumph on her face.
Meanwhile Dolly and Ben are walking silently across the campus, Dolly a little in the lead. They come to a low wall and, to take a short cut, he helps her over it—immediately she is in his arms. With the second kiss he begins to admit the fascination she has for him. Nevertheless he is ashamed of himself and seeing this Dolly feels helpless and unhappy.
Nearing Dolly’s hotel they come to an all night restaurant, crowded with men and girls. The smell of hot dogs drifts out into the night and Dolly thinks of the dinner she was too frightened to eat. She tells Ben she’s hungry. He hesitates—his chin tightens. No, he won’t appear with her in any public place… He tells her to wait for him—he will get something to eat and bring it outside.
Leaning rather sadly against the door of the restaurant watching the gay horseplay of the couples inside, Dolly is startled to see Professor Swope dash wildly by her and duck into the restaurant, closely followed by the campus cop, Joe Jakes. What has happened? Her instinct is to take to her heels, but she doesn’t.
Inside the restaurant Professor Swope, to conceal himself from his pursuer, squeezes in front of two boys taller than himself and, in a trembling voice, asks for a lemonade. Joe Jakes’ eyes roam aboutthe room seeking him and fall upon Ben Manny just leaving the restaurant with a bag of hot dogs and two bottles of ginger ale under his arm. Joe wonders if this can be his man—he is in a dinner coat, and he wears no hat. He seems a little taller than the other one, but Joe determines to follow and see.
Ben and Dolly go along the University Arms which is separated from the street by a tall iron grating. Once inside they hesitate—he wants nothing except to kiss her again, but the moon throws the shadow of the iron grating across her face, as if she were behind prison bars, and sadly now, he turns away.
The long, wide flight of steps leading up to the front door are white in the moonlight. Dolly invites him into the hotel, but he shakes his head and insists these steps are a better place for the picnic.
While he lays it out she fingers a paper that she always carries in the bosom of her dress. It is the letter from her uncle, which clears her from the guilt she expiated in prison. After a struggle she decides not to show it to him. If he really cares for her, nothing will matter.
Ben has no bottle opener for the Coca-Cola.
“I’ll run back to the quick lunch and get one,” he says. “Wait for me for a moment.”
He has hardly gone fifty feet when Joe Jakes seizes him by the arm.
“Got you, young fella,” he says. “What were you doing in the faculty club?”
“Me?” cries Ben in amazement. “I haven’t been near it all evening.”
“Then what did you run away from me for?”
“Me? I didn’t run away from you.”
“You can explain that to the Dean in the morning. Here’s your hat.”
Ben examines it.
“That isn’t my hat.”
“All right,” says Joe. “If you don’t want to take it what do I care. Go right to your room.”
“Never mind Joe-ing me. Go to your room. A man my age don’t like Marathons. You can state your case to the Dean in the morning.”
There is no choice but to obey. After all it was just as well. Better not to see her any more at all. As Ben trudges gloomily off across the Campus, Professor Swope is just emerging timorously from the quick lunch. He must find Dolly. With great caution he dodges up the street toward the hotel and slips inside the gate.
There she is on the moonlit steps and then he sees that, tired out with her long day, she is sound asleep. He comes up to her, and thinks how beautiful and innocent she looks—bends over as if to kiss her lips. But No—he is afraid to disturb her sleep. On the steps beside her he sees the lunch prepared for two and his heart melts. What a girl—all this time she has been waiting for him here with something to eat.
He sits down and tentatively nibbles a hot dog—he is very hungry. With the opener from his pocket knife he uncaps a bottle of Coca-Cola.
Outside the grating Joe Jakes watches Ben’s form disappear across the campus. He looks at the derby in his hand. Then with sudden disgust at his unsatisfactory night’s work, he flings it over the iron grating, where it lands at the professor’s feet.
Professor Swope looks up vaguely as if it had fallen from the stars. It is a magical night. After a hard day, the Gods are kind-nothing can surprise him. He sits there, drowsy and content, eating hot dogs and holding Dolly’s sleeping hand.
After a restless night Dolly made her decision. She would go back to New York on the first train. The man she loved resented even her presence here and she was too proud to stay where she wasn’t wanted. It was a mistake ever to have come at all. How could she have thought that, stained and stamped as she was, she could compete with these girls who had been wrapped in cotton wool since birth? Perhaps back in the city her money would buy her friends who would grow to care for her, and some day she would forget.
Listlessly she began throwing things into her grip—they meant so little to her now—the gorgeous evening dress that had seemed like a princess’s robe a few short weeks ago was less to her than a shapeless prison gown now that the prince had failed to look her way. Her shoes—she kicked one impatiently against the wall, scraping a gash in its leather side. Then she was sorry and wept over the gash, knowing all the time that she was weeping over something else.
She couldn’t find the purse with lipstick in it. Where had she left it—and yet what did it matter now? Let it go—and youth and love too!
A knock at the door. Professor Swope, bowing and beaming, stood outside. He had a letter for her, forwarded from New York in his care. Dolly opened it—it was from the lawyers who handled her money.
Miss Dolly Carrol
It is with great regret that we inform you that your uncle has met with reverses in the West and will be unable to continue your allowance. In fact we must ask you to return the sum of $982.00 advanced you last week above funds in hand.
Yours Very Respectfully,
Barly, Bacon and Barly.
The letter stunned her. She read it again and then stood with her eyes fixed on the space over the professor’s head. Her fingers drummed idly for a moment on the dresser until suddenly the keys of a typewriter seemed to materialize beneath them. She drew back frightened. Why—there would be no more gold dresses, or French shoes to kick about, or limousines, or fashionable hotels. Back to the old life in an office and an occasional trip to the theatre with the young clerk who worked next door.
Back she swung—now the gold dress was important again and the shoes—yes, and the prom and the girls who were going to dance tonight and be happy. Never again—she had had her chance and missed. The doors of the great world were closed to her.
The professor suddenly noticed that her grip was packed and that she was wearing a traveling suit.
“What’s the matter?” he demanded. “Are you going away?”
She hesitated. Her eyes filled with tears. Must she go? Couldn’t she have just this night, this last night? At any cost to her pride she must see him again and with the lipstick make him kiss her once more. Better that way than not at all. But—even the lipstick was gone. She had nothing.
Professor Swope came into the room and patted her awkwardly on the shoulder.
“What is it?” he inquired. “Can I be of any assistance?”
“I’m—I’m not going,” she faltered. “I thought I had an engagement in New York but this letter tells me I was wrong.”
By ten o’clock that night a constant stream of bright fur and satin was flowing into the gymnasium. A student took tickets at the door and beside him stood Joe Jakes to see that no one entered with a flask showing on his hip or in a state of inebriation.
One crossed the trophy room and came into the great gymnasium, gay now with bunting and streamers and flowers. The walls were lined with boxes, each designated by the name of a fraternity and used as parking places for chaperones—none of the young people came there except to borrow a pen or leave a loose buckle. Between dances they sat in the trophy room and its galleries or in autos outside or on the winding steps of an edifice called Honeymoon Tower.
Looked at from above the prom resolved itself into a central circle of closely packed stags around which hub revolved the varicolored wheel of dancers. Outside the wheel was a further ring of stags, flanked at each end by a celebrated orchestra from New York. The slow revolution of the wheel and the flashes of black darting out to dance with pink or blue or gold, kept the whole scene in constant, colorful motion.
The women’s dressing room presented a scene of equal, if less public animation. Five hundred girls pushed politely to a place in front of the long mirror, five hundred girls found some slight imperfections in the tint of a cheek or an eyebrow, five hundred girls remedied the defection with loving care.
But no girl was so particularly interested in this final moment as was Mimi Haughton. She had the lipstick and she was going to use it. Picture her in front of a mirror at one end of a long row of girls. Grace is at her side.
A glass shelf runs underneath the mirror from one end of the room to the other and this is what happens. Mimi and Grace take out their respective lipsticks, which are not unlike in size and appearance, and set them down on the glass shelf, their hands crossing as they do so. A moment later each of them, their eyes absorbed in the mirror, picks up the other’s lipstick. Grace, all unsuspecting, rubs the magic scent upon her lips—Mimi, all unsuspecting, rubs her lips with ordinary rouge.
But the tilting shelf has another trick to play. As Grace lays down the scented lipstick it falls on its fat side and begins to roll determinedly down the whole length of the shelf. A dozen girls grab at it absently, but it continues its course until brought to a stop in front of Dolly at the extreme end. She is so surprised and glad to get it back that she doesn’t inquire who has had it, but pops it into a bag that, this time, is affixed firmly to her arm.
This is destined to be the evening of Grace Jones’ life, the one that she’ll remember forever and tell about to her children and her grandchildren. For she is one of the belles of the ball. Man after man cuts in—even Cupid shows her marked attention until her round eyes almost pop out with happiness.
For Mimi it is another story. As Ben leads her out on the floor she takes his arm, leans close and looks up at him with languorous eyes. But her arm receives no answering pressure and his eyes seem unusually cold and far away, as if he had something on his mind.
They are standing near the foot of a winding staircase that rises out of a corner of the trophy room.
“Where does that go?” she asks.
“That’s called Wedding Stair,” he answers politely, but indifferently. “It leads up to Honeymoon Tower.”
“Is the view nice?” Again she tries the effect of the lipstick by leaning close to him, but he is unresponsive. She turns away to hide her disappointment and comes face to face with Dolly who has just emerged from the dressing room and overheard the conversation. Giving Dolly a glance of ill concealed malice Mimi walks with Ben into the ballroom.
Dolly hasn’t used the lipstick yet tonight. She scarcely knows why. What is the use if Ben won’t come near?
Strangely enough other boys seemed to like her just as well without it. They danced with her and she was, if anything, relieved that they no longer leaned toward her in just that eager way. But Ben didn’t come near and her heart grew numb and nothing seemed to matter at all.
She is sitting with Professor Swope in the Trophy Room between dances when her eyes are arrested by the sight of Ben lighting a cigarette and strolling moodily through the entrance to the Wedding Stair as if he were going up. The professor at the moment is asking Dolly to marry him. He tells her that at great personal sacrifice he has put her criminal past out of mind. In the middle of the unromantic declaration Dolly unceremoniously jumps to her feet and announces that she wants to go up to the tower. Professor Swope readily accedes.
The winding stair is well occupied. Near the bottom sit a couple, the girl fixing a flower into the man’s buttonhole. Around the next bend another couple are holding hands. Further up two are absorbed in an embrace, and further still a man is fitting an engagement ring on to a girl’s finger.
When the professor and Dolly have climbed this far, she stops and tells him that she doesn’t know whether she is worthy of him. She will have to ask herself. Will he wait here and let no one pass while she consults her conscience up on the tower?
He sits down and folds his hands prepared to wait. Dolly continues on up. Ben Manny is nearly at the top when he hears footsteps following him. He stops suspiciously—he wants to be alone and think. Somehow he isn’t happy that his engagement to Mimi will be announced tomorrow.
The footsteps have stopped so he goes on. Near the top he pauses again, hearing them distinctly. But again they stop and he walks out into the moonlight on top of the battlemented tower. Very quietly Dolly follows. Below is spread the college—a thousand lights in the windows of the Gothic halls, and, soaring against the dark horizon twoscore dreaming spires and towers. Ben is leaning against the battlement, staring off into the night.
“Here I am,” said Dolly faintly.
He turned around and came toward her slowly.
“I knew it was you,” he said. “I can’t escape you anywhere.”
They walked into each other’s arms and she turned up her face, but this time instead of kissing her he held her rigidly and looked at her in the moonlight.
“What was the matter?” he said almost harshly. “Why did they send you to prison?”
“For a crime,” she answered.
As he looked at her he was unable to believe it possible, if he hadn’t seen her in a prison cell.
Meanwhile Mimi has come up the stairs in search of Ben and encountered the professor. She is skeptical of his story that Dolly is up on top meditating all alone, and communicates her suspicion to him.
Incredulously the professor accompanies her to the top and stands with her for a moment, silently watching. They see Ben and Dolly come toward each other again, as if drawn by an irresistible force, hesitate, and then, with Ben’s face only an inch away from hers, break apart, without speaking, the professor draws Mimi down the stairs. He is distraught and wild.
“I knew it,” he says miserably. “That’s what comes of trusting a girl with a prison past. I found out in the nick of time.”
“A prison past?” repeats Mimi, her eyes narrowing. “A prison past?”
Innocently he repeats the whole story to Mimi, without seeing that he is putting a dangerous weapon into her hands.
As they descend the steps they encounter Joe Jakes coming up— he has been turning the couples out of the tower upon orders from the Dean who has decided that necking parties have gone far enough.
“Anyone else up there?” he demands of the professor.
The professor is too distraught to reply, even to hear, but Mimi answers for him. She shakes her head implying no, well aware that Ben and Dolly are on the tower.
When everyone is out Joe Jakes closes the door to the wedding stair and hangs a sign on it.
Any undergraduate found in this tower will be indefinitely suspended.
By Order of the Dean.
Mimi, when no one is looking, turns the key in the lock, effectually preventing Ben and Dolly from coming out.
At the moment Ben and Dolly are too wrapped up in themselves to care what is happening below. She knows the struggle that is going on in Ben, knows that he cares for her, yet she cannot make him kiss her when he holds her in his arms. She takes out the lipstick, brings it near her lips—then shakes her head. No—better give up and let it and tonight with all pleasant things than know that she had made him declare himself by a trick.
“Oh, Ben—” she cried aloud, “Ben—”
He stood with his back to her, silent and motionless. Once more she raised the lipstick, hesitated, then she dashed it to the stone floor of the tower and blind with tears turned away toward the stair.
But now there was a strong arm about her, a face near to her and a voice she knew whispering what she had not hoped to hear.
“I love you. I love you.”
With a long sigh of happiness she melted into his dinner coat.
Downstairs other forces are in motion—a clucking of hens in one box with Mimi in the center feeding them the poison grain. She tells the story the professor has told her, keeping back only the identity of the girl. Disgraceful. A blackbird among all those swallows. The clucks soar to a crescendo—it is a case for the Dean.
And Mimi has another string to her bow—Ben and Dolly are in the forbidden tower. Once the agitation against Dolly’s presence is under way she seeks Joe Jakes outside the door.
“Please,” she asks innocently. “Can’t anyone go in the tower?”
“I’m sorry, Miss, nobody.”
“But,” she protests, “I saw a couple go up there not ten minutes ago.
Upon the tower the night is soft as a benediction. With Dolly in the circle of his arms, Ben is reading a paper she has taken from her bosom and handed to him. But almost before he has comprehended what it means to them, to their love, a bell sounds the strokes of midnight from another tower.
Twelve o’clock. The grand march which he, as chairman of the committee, must lead!
He seizes her hand and pulls her down the steps three at a time. To his astonishment the door is locked. He considers—he knows there has been some talk of closing the tower and concludes that this is the result.
Somewhat worried they climb once more to the top of the tower and hand in hand survey the prospects of escape. Downstairs, though they are unaware of it, Joe Jakes, breathing fire, is already at the stair door.
Forty feet below the tower is the pebble covered roof of the adjoining Gothic building, and by great luck a vine pruner’s ladder is resting against the ivied tower wall. Down they go to the roof— pick out a lighted window in the next quadrangle and silhouetted clearly against the moon, scurry toward it along the battlement. One can go a good three miles over the medieval chain of masonry that winds in and out over the campus, forming in turn halls, towers, and quadrangles, without once descending to earth, but this is not their object. They know now that there a determined figure is scrambling along behind them in full pursuit. With the aid of a slide down a slanting slate roof, they reach a window. It is the work of but a moment, to break a pane, step inside, toss fifty cents on the table to pay for damages and dash downstairs.
Back at the prom the scandal had just reached the Dean’s ears. The little committee of chaperones, buzzing with restrained indignation, “really thought that this was too much.” Not only should the girl be ejected but the man responsible for bringing her should be severely disciplined. The Dean agreed that he would take action. They had only to supply the name of the girl.
The box where this sub rosa dispute took place was the center of attention as rumor began to drift about. Purity demanded a sacrifice—someone was going to be decorated with the scarlet letter and publicly thrown out of the prom. Only Dolly and Ben who had just drifted breathlessly in and drifted out upon the floor were awareof what hung over Dolly’s head. They and Professor Swope who had discovered the allurements of Grace Jones and was quickly forgetting his sorrows of an hour before.
Mimi waited triumphant. In a minute it would be time—when the proctor brought them down from the tower she would say the word, and Ben would see the lady of his fancy disgraced before his eyes.
Someone else was watching too—one of the men who figures in this story, with in his coat pocket which he fingered with a twitchy hand.
By the time Ben and Dolly realize that something is up and join the fringe of the little group, the Dean is growing impatient.
“All right, Miss Haughton,” he says impatiently. “Let me have the name of this unfortunate young lady. We don’t want a public scene.”
Ben and Dolly hear and pause. Her face turns white; Ben’s arm tightens on her.
“I’m behind you whatever happens,” he says. “Remember that and keep your head.”
For another moment Mimi hesitates triumphantly—hesitates just a fraction too long, for she hears a familiar and insinuating voice low in her ear.
“Mimi, you’d better not say a word.”
She turns. It is Cupid. His hand slides a little from his pocket and she sees what he has in his hand.
“It’s better to have a jail term over, Mimi, than to have one staring you in the face.”
“Why —what do you mean?” she gasps.
“I mean that we saw you take this bag and we saw you throw it away. There happens to be a law against larceny in this state, and if you say one word about Miss Dolly Carrol, just as sure as you’re alive you’ll go to jail.”
His stout face is very grim and determined now—Dolly retreats a little bit before him. The Dean’s voice breaks in on them again.
“I’ll have to ask you to tell me the girl’s name.”
Mimi looks about, hate and rage in her eyes. Then she meets Cupid’s glance and her expression changes to one of fear.
“I’m—I’m sorry,” she falters, “I don’t know the name. I was mistaken. I must have been wrong.”
A minute later the group dissolved in laughter and contempt and not long after Mimi and her mother might have been seen making their way hurriedly toward the door. It was time for the grand march and as Ben had no partner now what more natural than that he should ask Dolly, or that the professor should be more content with Grace, or that Cupid should be happiest with nobody at all.
There they go!
I must add that the lipstick was found by a little colored girl delivering laundry, who in consequence grew up and had a perfectly enormous family.
Ben and Dolly were never known to care.
In December 1926 the Fitzgeralds returned to America after two-and-a-half years in France. While visiting Montgomery Fitzgerald accepted an offer from John W. Considine, Jr. of United Artists to write a flapper movie in Hollywood for Constance Talmadge. Fitzgerald needed the money and gambled on a part-payment deal: $3,500 upon completion of the screenplay against $12,000 if it was accepted. He thought he could complete the job in three weeks, but he and Zelda were in Hollywood from early January to mid-March 1927. It was a time of considerable partying, for Fitzgerald does not seem to have taken the assignment very seriously. “Lipstick,” the screenplay he submitted, was rejected by Considine in April. Harold Ober, Fitzgerald’s literary agent, made a memo on the deal which includes this information: “He says he got into a row with Constance Talmadge for whom the story was written and he thinks this is the reason they didn’t want to do it.” (As Ever, Scott Fitz—, pp. 95-96.) The rights to “Lipstick” reverted to Fitzgerald; and Ober tried to sell it to another studio, offering it to B. P. Schulberg of Famous Players for Bebe Daniels. There were no takers. Fitzgerald considered revising the screenplay into a story for College Humor before abandoning it.
Lipstick survives in a forty-five page typescript at the Princeton University Library. The typist seems to have been a beginner who shared Fitzgerald’s orthographical innocence; spelling, punctuation, and presumed typing errors have been emended in the text printed here. Textual cruces are noted, but no words have been added.
Fitzgerald saved these telegrams from Considine, which are now with the Fitzgerald Papers at the Princeton University Library.
1926 DEC 30 AM 12 34 F SCOTT FITZGERALD, CARE SCRIBNERS. 597 FIFTH AVE NEWYORK NY.
AM STILL INTERESTED IN GETTING FINE MODERN COLLEGE STORY FOR CONSTANCE TALMADGE AND WOULD LIKE TO HAVE YOU WORK ON STORY WITH ME IN LOSANGELES STOP IN ORDER TO FAMILIARIZE YOURSELF WITH SCREEN PERSONALITY OF MISS TALMADGE WOULD LIKE YOU TO SEE FOLLOWING PICTURES QUOTE HER NIGHT OF ROMANCE UNQUOTE QUOTE SISTER FROM PARIS UNQUOTE QUOTE DUCHESS OF BUFFALO UNQUOTE STOP PLEASE SEE MR ARTHUR KELLY AT UNITED ARTISTS CORPORATION SEVEN TWENTY NINE SEVENTH AVENUE NEWYORK WHO WILL ARRANGE FOR THESE PICTURES TO BE RUN FOR YOU UNLESS YOU HAVE ALREADY SEEN THEM STOP PLEASE NIGHT LETTER ME COLLECT WHAT YOU HAVE IN MIND AS FAIR REMUNERATION BASIS STOP WOULD PREFER TO PAY YOU MODERATE AMOUNT IN FORM OF DRAWING ACCOUNT WHILE YOU WORK ON TREATMENT WITH LARGEST PROPORTION OF TOTAL AMOUNT TO BE PAID UPON MY ACCEPTANCE OF STORY STOP AM FAMILIAR WITH YOU CAREER AND WORK IN FACT BELIEVE I WAS AT YALE WHILE YOU WERE AT PRINCETON THEREFORE IT OUGHT TO BE EASY FOR US TO UNDERSTNAD ONE ANOTHER AND WORK WELL TOGETHER BEST WISHES.
JOHN W CONSIDINE JR.
1927 JAN 3 PM 4 23 F SCOTT FITZGERALD CARE JUDGE SAYRE 6 PLEASANT AVE MONTGOMERY ALA
OFFER YOU THIRTY FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS AS GUARANTEED DRAWING ACCOUNT WHILE YOU PREPARE TREATMENT OF ORIGINAL STORY STOP IF TREATMENT SATISFACTORY TO US AND WE ACCEPT SAME YOU AGREE TO MAKE WHATEVER CHANGES WE REQUIRE AND WE AGREE TO PAY YOU SIXTY FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS UPON FINAL ACCEPTANCE OF STORY STOP HOPE THESE TERMS WILL PROVE SATISFACTORY TO YOU AS I FEEL VERY SURE YOU WILL ENJOY WORKING WITH OUR ORGANIZATION BEST WISHES
JOHN W CONSIDINE JR.
1927 JAN 4 PM3 55 F SCOTT FITZGERALD CARE JUDGE SAYRE 6 PLEASANT AVE MONTGOMERY ALA
IF YOU WILL ACCEPT THIRTY FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS AS GUARANTEED DRAWING ACCOUNT WHILE YOU PREPARE TREATMENT OF ORIGINAL STORY AND IF TREATMENT MEETS WITH OUR SATISFACTION AND WE ACCEPT SAME AND YOU AGREE TO MAKE WHATEVER CHANGES WE REQUIRE WE WILL PAY YOU EIGHTY FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS UPON FINAL ACCEPTANCE OF STORY MAKING TWELVE THOUSAND TO YOU BEST WISHES
JOHN W CONSIDINE JR.
ARP 23 1927 SCOTT GITZGERALD HOTEL DUPONT WILMI GTON DEL
DEAR SCOTT VERY SORRY TO HAVE NEGLECTED YOU SO LONG STOP WE HAVE DECIDED NOT TO PRODUCE A PICTURE BASED ON YOUR STORY STOP EVERYONE THINKS THE BEGINNING OR PREMISE CONTAINS EXCEPTIONALLY FINE MATERIAL BUT THAT REST OF STORY IS WEAK STOP IF YOU GET SUFFICIENT MONDAY OUT OF STORY WILL EXPECT YOU TO PAY BACK WHAT YOU HAVE DRAWN ON OTHER HAND IF YOU ARE NOT SUCCESSFUL IN DISPOSING OF STORY WE WILL CALL MATTER CLOSED STOP SUGGEST YOU SUBMIT STORY TO B P SCHULBERG ASSOCIATE PRODUCER FAMOUS PLAYERS LASKY CORPORATION LOSANGELES AND ASK HIM TO CONSIDER SAME FOR BEBE DANIELS STOP BELIEVE IT INADVISABLE FOR YOU TO MENTION MY NAME IN THIS CONNECTION BEST REGARDS
JOHN W CONSIDINE JR 405P
Published in Fitzgerald/Hemingway Annual (1978).