Little Eve Edgarton

By Eleanor Hallowell Abbott, 1914
Little Eve Edgarton

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Excerpt

CHAPTER I

"But you live like such a fool—of course you're bored!" drawled the Older Man, rummaging listlessly through his pockets for the ever-elusive match.

"Well, I like your nerve!" protested the Younger Man with unmistakable asperity.

"Do you—really?" mocked the Older Man, still smiling very faintly.

For a few minutes then both men resumed their cigars, staring blinkishly out all the while from their dark green piazza corner into the dazzling white tennis courts that gleamed like so many slippery pine planks in the afternoon glare and heat. The month was August, the day typically handsome, typically vivid, typically caloric.

It was the Younger Man who recovered his conversational interest first. "So you think I'm a fool?" he resumed at last quite abruptly.

"Oh, no—no! Not for a minute!" denied the Older Man. "Why, my dear sir, I never even implied that you were a fool! All I said was that you—lived like a fool!"

Starting to be angry, the Younger Man laughed instead. "You're certainly rather an amusing sort of chap," he acknowledged reluctantly.

A gleam of real pride quickened most ingenuously in the Older Man's pale blue eyes. "Why, that's just the whole point of my argument," he beamed. "Now—you look interesting. But you aren't! And I—don't look interesting. But it seems that I am!"

"You—you've got a nerve!" reverted the Younger Man.

Altogether serenely the Older Man began to rummage again through all his pockets. "Thank you for your continuous compliments," he mused. "Thank you, I say. Thank you—very much. Now for the very first time, sir, it's beginning to dawn on me just why you have honored me with so much of your company—the past three or four days. I truly believe that you like me! Eh? But up to last Monday, if I remember correctly," he added drily, "it was that showy young Philadelphia crowd that was absorbing the larger part of your—valuable attention? Eh? Wasn't it?"

"What in thunder are you driving at?" snapped the Younger Man. "What are you trying to string me about, anyway? What's the harm if I did say that I wished to glory I'd never come to this blasted hotel? Of all the stupid people! Of all the stupid places! Of all the stupid—everything!"

"The mountains here are considered quite remarkable by some," suggested the Older Man blandly.

"Mountains?" snarled the Younger Man. "Mountains? Do you think for a moment that a fellow like me comes to a God-forsaken spot like this for the sake of mountains?"

A trifle noisily the Older Man jerked his chair around and, slouching down into his shabby gray clothes, with his hands thrust deep into his pockets, his feet shoved out before him, sat staring at his companion. Furrowed abruptly from brow to chin with myriad infinitesimal wrinkles of perplexity, his lean, droll face looked suddenly almost monkeyish in its intentness.

"What does a fellow like you come to a place like this for?" he asked bluntly.

"Why—tennis," conceded the Younger Man. "A little tennis. And golf—a little golf. And—and—"

"And—girls," asserted the Older Man with precipitous conviction.

Across the Younger Man's splendidly tailored shoulders a little flicker of self-consciousness went crinkling. "Oh, of course," he grinned. "Oh, of course I've got a vacationist's usual partiality for pretty girls. But Great Heavens!" he began, all over again. "Of all the stupid—!"

"But you live like such a fool—of course you're bored," resumed the Older Man.

"There you are at it again!" stormed the Younger Man with tempestuous resentment.

"Why shouldn't I be 'at it again'?" argued the Older Man mildly. "Always and forever picking out the showiest people that you can find—and always and forever being bored to death with them eventually, but never learning anything from it—that's you! Now wouldn't that just naturally suggest to any observing stranger that there was something radically idiotic about your method of life?"

"But that Miss Von Eaton looked like such a peach!" protested the Younger Man worriedly.

"That's exactly what I say," droned the Older Man.

"Why, she's the handsomest girl here!" insisted the Younger Man arrogantly.

"That's exactly what I say," droned the Older Man.

"And the best dresser!" boasted the Younger Man stubbornly.

"That's exactly what I say," droned the Older Man.

"Why, just that pink paradise hat alone would have knocked almost any chap silly," grinned the Younger Man a bit sheepishly.