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Forty Modern Fables, by George Ade, [1901], at

The Fable of The Open Champion, The Veranda Fixture and the Once-a-Weeker from Town

    THE so-called Guests at a Summer Hotel put in most of their time changing Clothes and inquiring for Mail. Grand View was the Name of the Hotel because, by climbing to the Roof, you could see the County Seat.

    On the Table could be found everything that the City Market had afforded three days previously.

    The Princess who waited on the Table had agreed to bring Food from the Kitchen, but she had not agreed to meet any of the Guests, socially, as it were, so every one had to be Careful.

    The Manager had arranged for the Mosquitoes to keep away, but the Mosquitoes broke the Contract.

    Still, the Hotel was not altogether a Polish. The Stationery was Great. For Six Days in the Week there was a Man-Famine. To be sure, there was a Clerk with a Shirt Waist who worked along the Verandas and chatted about the Weather so as to keep People from discussing the Table and the Service. After he had conversed for about 15 Minutes he would burn low and threaten to go out.

    But on Saturday when the Bus came up from the Station loaded down with the Boys who were expected to sign the Checks--Oh, then there was Joy indeed! Everybody was glad to welcome the Bread-Winners. Each would have on her most scrumptious Toggery and the Turquoise Brooch, and she would have out her little four-inch Lace Handkerchief, all ready to wave at Him. All the Married Couples would Clinch at the Hotel Steps, and those who didn't have the Right would postpone it for a while.

    Among the Men who came out on the Saturday Special was a Bachelor named Albert. Albert knew two Girls at the Hotel, and he didn't care who saw him with either one. Albert was Susceptible. He had a Cool Head for Business and in his calmer Moments he would decide to scratch Matrimony until he could show a Hundred Thousand. But when he was up at Grand View and found himself in a secluded corner of the Veranda with either Susie or Grace and the Crescent Moon would be playing Hide-and-Seek among the Oak Branches and somebody out in a Row-Boat plunking a Mandolin and the Night Bird calling to a Companion that had broken the Date -then Albert would get Reckless and not care what became of him.

    Susie and Grace were not alike in any Particular.

    Susie was ever so Athletic. She went around bare-headed all Summer so as to get a Coat of Tan. Usually she had her Sleeves rolled up to display a Fore-Arm that reminded one of Terry McGovern. She wore a Short Skirt and flat-bottomed Shoes. It was a positive Pleasure to see her bounce up into the Air and lam a Tennis Ball. She was a dandy Whip and she had won a Cup over an 18-hole Course. Susie could take care of herself at any Point along the Road. If any one had told her she was a Weaker Vessel, she wouldn't have believed it.

    Grace was quite the Antithesis. She was a reposeful Creature who kept out of the Sun and wore filmy white Materials. She usually had herself squidged up to about 21 inches, with the Straight Line in front, the same as you see on the Fashion Page. She wore French Heels all Summer, and whenever she saw a Cow she squealed and caught hold of the nearest Man.

    Grace once tried to hit a Golf Ball because it seemed to be the Thing. She pecked at it a couple of times and sent it about 18 inches, and then she felt something Give and returned to the Veranda.

    Every time she ventured out she wore a three-foot Hat covered with Battenberg and carried a Parasol so as to protect the Complexion. She never was keen for Physical Culture, but preferred to get herself tucked in just right and then sit and read something by Booth Tarkington. She had a slow, languorous Walk, leaning forward from the Hips. If you didn't know, you might think she had Casters under her. The other Girls rapped her for being Affected, but then she wasn't doing it for their Benefit. When she executed the Glide into the Dining Room, the Men would tell one another to Pipe the Tall One with the Poor Shape.

    As already intimated, these were the two that had Albert on the Guessing Block. It kept him busy looking after both, but he knew the advantages of a healthy Competition. A Girl always throws herself rather more earnestly if she thinks some other Maiden is trying to sew Buttons on her. So Albert had a lot of Attention paid to him every time he came out.

    As the Summer Weeks slipped by, it became evident that Grace's Work on the Veranda was more effective than Susie's violent Efforts in the Field. One Saturday Night Albert brought out a Ring and forced Grace to wear it. Next Day there was an awful Buzzing. A Majority of the Wise Ones had picked Susie as the logical First Choice.

    It happened that an Intimate Friend asked Albert if he had not got Twisted and given the Ring to the wrong one.

    "It is generally conceded," said the Friend, "that Susie is the most Superior Thing that puts up at and with the Hotel."

    "Superior is the Word," responded Albert. "As a Type of the New Kind she is the Best Ever, and that is why I can't keep up with her. Think of a large Man who wants to retain his Self-Respect going out on the Links and getting waxed good and hard by a Child just budding into Womanhood. She can hit the Ball right in the Eye every Clip and send it to the Green in about 2, while I worry it off into the Bunch Grass and beat it until it looks as if some one had been chewing it. For six Days in the week and 452 Weeks in the Year I get round-shouldered talking through a 'Phone and hanging over a Desk. When I do put on my Flannels and rush to the Country, I am not prepared to enter the Lists with the seasoned Lady Champion. Naturally, I do not care to get alongside of her and invite Comparison. However, I wish to say that Susie is a Swell Girl and he who Marries her will always Respect her. If he doesn't, he had better take to the Fire-Escape. The Trouble is that when Susie and I are together, I am with her and not she with me. She takes me to Places. As soon as I realized that I was a Candidate for Satchel-Carrier I began to slow up on Susie.

    "Now, Grace is different. She clings to you and wants Advice. It's all up to you. You don't have to lean back and look up at her. She doesn't pity you because you Foozie or take you in Hand as if you were a Boy. I have a Feeling that if I married Susie I would be put into the Nine-Hole and kept there forever. I am proud to know such a Woman, and every time she plays a Match I will be on hand to Pull for her, but when it comes to the Practice of Stuckology on the dim Veranda and then a Clasp of the yielding form, I pass up the Party with the Iron Muscles. When a Lady is trained so hard that the Form refuses to Yield, what's the use? There's nothing to it. Then there is always the horrible Fear that if you do anything to Vex her, she may pick you up and throw you into a Rose Bush. It's pretty hard to love a Woman and be afraid of her at the same time. No dainty Sandow for little Albert, the Office Slave! For me the simple, sinuous, old-fashioned Variety."

    So he married Grace and Susie married a little Chap who wore Specs. He is now acting as Caddie for her.

MORAL: The Gymnasium Girl does not always have the strongest Pull.

Next: The Fable of The Cousin from Down East Who Had His Pick of the Village Lilacs