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A short story by George V. Hobart

You Should Worry About Being In Love

Title:     You Should Worry About Being In Love
Author: George V. Hobart [More Titles by Hobart]

Say! have you ever noticed that when a gink with an aluminum headpiece is handed the "This-Way-Out" signal by his adored one, he either hikes for a pickle parlor and begins to festoon his system with hops, or he stands in front of a hardware store and gazes gloomily at the guns?

You haven't noticed it! Why, you astonish me.

Friend wife met me by appointment to take dinner at the Saint Astormore the other evening and with her was her little brother, Stephen, aged nine.

"I brought Stevie with me because I had some shopping to do and he's so much company," Peaches explained as we sat down in the restaurant.

"Stevie is always pleasant company," I agreed, politely, but with a watchful eye on my youthful brother-in-law all the while.

That kid was born with an abnormal bump of mischief and, by painstaking endeavor, he has won the world's championship as an organizer of impromptu riots.

"Oh, John!" said Peaches, when I began to make faces at the menu card, "I didn't notice until now how pale you look. Have you had a busy day?"

"Busy!" I repeated; "well, rather. I've been giving imitations of a bull fight. Everybody I met was the bull and I was the fight. Nominate your eats! What'll it be, Stevie?"

"Sponge cake," said Stephen, promptly.

"What else?" asked Peaches.

"More sponge cake," the youth replied, and just then the smiling and sympathetic waiter stooped down to pick up a fork Stephen had dropped.

In his anxiety not to miss anything, Stevie rubbered acrobatically with the result that he upset a glass of ice water down the waiter's neck, and three seconds later the tray-trotter had issued an Extra and was saying things in French that would sound scandalous if translated.

It cost me a dollar to bring the dish-dragger back to earth, and Stevie said I could break his bank open when we got home and take all the money if I'd let him do it again.

Just then I got a flash of Dike Lawrence bearing down in our direction under a full head of benzine.

Dike was escorting a three days' jag and whispering words of encouragement to it.

A good fellow, Dike, but he shouldn't permit a distillery to use his thirst as a testing station--he's too temperamental.

"H'ar'ye, Mrs. John?" he gurgled as the waiter pushed an extra chair under him. "Howdy, John? How de do, little man! 'Scuse me for int'rupting a perf'ly splendid family party--my mistake!--I'm all in--that's it--I'm all in and it's your fault, John; all your fault!"

"What's wrong, Dike?" I inquired.

"Ev'thing!" he martinied; "ev'thing all wrong--lesh have drink--my mistake--didn't think of it before. Your little son growing to be a splendid boy, Mrs. John!"

"This is Stephen, my little brother, not my little son," Peaches explained; "we haven't any children," she added nervously.

Dike carefully closed one eye and focussed the other on her. "Haven't any little son--my mistake!" Then he turned the open gig-lamp on me and began again. "S'prised at you, John; little son is the most won'erful thing any father and mother could possess with the possible 'ception of a li'l daughter--ain't that so, Mrs. John? Little brother is all right, but don't compare with little son. Look at me, Mrs. John; can't ever have little son--when I think about it I could bust right out cryin'--Grief has made me almost hystalical, hystorical, hystollified--I mean, I'm nervous--lesh have drink!"

"What's gone wrong, Dike?" I asked; "each minute you look more and more like Mona Lisa without the smile--what's the trouble?"

"All your fault, John," he plunged on again. "Most bew'ful girl she was, Mrs. John; perf'ly bew'ful, with won'erful gray hair and golden eyes, perf'ly bew'ful girl. I told your husban' all about her--I made confession that I was madly in love with this bew'ful girl, and your husban' told me to go and propose to her and drag her off to a minister--and I did propose--my mistake. After I made my speech she said to me, this bew'ful girl said to me, 'That's all right; no doubt you do love me, but are you eugenic?' and I said, 'No, I'm Presbyterian.'"

Dike paused to let the horror of the scene sink in and then he fell overboard again with a moist splash.

"That bew'ful girl jus' glanced at me coldly--jus' merely indicated the door, that bew'ful girl, and I passed out of her life f'rever. Two days later I found out jus' what eugenic meant, and, b'lieve me, from my heart, my sincere regret is that I was not college bred before I met that bew'ful girl!"

Saying this he grabbed a wine-glass from the table and held it close to his heart in order to illustrate the intensity of his feeling.

The next instant a thick, reddish liquid began to flow sluggishly over the bosom of his immaculate white shirt and was lost in the region of his equator, seeing which Dike gave vent to a yell that brought the waiters on the hot foot.

"I'm stabbed; stabbed!" groaned the startled jag-carpenter, clutching wildly at his shirt-front as the plate-passers bore him away to a haven of rest.

"It's my clam cocktail," whispered Stephen to me; "I poured it in his wine-glass 'cause they was too much tobascum sauce in it for me!"

"Brave boy!" I answered. "It was a kindly deed."

Then we finished our dinner in all the refined silence the Saint Astormore so carefully furnishes.

Dike's sad story of misplaced affection and an unused dictionary puts us wise to the fact that in these changeful days even the old-fashioned idea of courtship has been chased to the woods.

It used to be that on a Saturday evening the Young Gent would draw down his six dollars worth of salary and chase himself to the barber shop, where the Bolivian lawn trimmer would put a crimp in his mustache and plaster his forehead with three cents worth of hair and a dollar's worth of axle-grease.

Then the Young Gent would go out and spread 40 cents around among the tradesmen for a mess of water-lilies and a bag of peanut brittle.

The lilies of the valley were to put on the dining-table so mother would be pleased, and with the peanut brittle he intended to fill in the weary moments when he and his little geisha girl were not making goo-goo eyes at each other.

But nowadays it is different.

What with eugenics and the high speed of living Dan Cupid spends most of his time on the hot foot between the coroner's office and the divorce court.

Nowadays when a clever young man goes to visit his sweetheart he hikes over the streets in a benzine buggy, and when he pulls the bell-rope at the front door he has a rapid-fire revolver in one pocket and a bottle of carbolic acid in the other.

His intentions are honorable and he wishes to prove them so by shooting his lady love, if she renigs when he makes a play for her hand.

I think the old style was the best, because when young people quarreled they didn't need an ambulance and a hospital surgeon to help them make up.

In the old days Simpson Green would draw the stove brush cheerfully across his dog-skin shoes and rush with eager feet to see Lena Jones, the girl he wished to make the wife of his bosom.

"Darling!" Simpson would say, "I am sure to the bad for love of you. Pipe the downcast droop in this eye of mine and notice the way my heart is bubbling over like a bottle of sarsaparilla on a hot day! Be mine, Lena! be mine!"

Then Lena would giggle. Not once, but seven giggles, something like those used in a spasm.

Then she would reply, "No, Simpson; it cannot be. Fate wills it otherwise."

Then Simpson would bite his finger-nails, pick his hat up out of the coal-scuttle, and say to Lena, "False one! You love Conrad, the floorwalker in the butcher shop. Curses on Conrad, and see what you have missed, Lena. I have tickets for a swell chowder party next Tuesday. Ah! farewell forever!"

Then Simpson would walk out and hunt up one of those places that can't get an all-night license and there, with one arm glued tight around the bar rail, he would fasten his system to a jag which would last a week.

Despair would grab him and, like Dike, he'd be Simpson with the souse thing for sure.

When he would recover strength enough to walk down town without attracting the attention of the other side of the street, he would call on Lena and say, "Lena, forgive me for what I done, but love is blind--and, besides, I mixed my drinks. Lena, I was on the downward path, and I nearly went to Heligoland."

Then Lena would say, "Oh, Simpsey, I wanted you to prove your love, but I thought you'd prove it with beer and not red-eye--forgive me, darling!"

Then they would kiss and make up, and the wedding bells would ring just as soon as Simp's salary grew large enough to tease a pocketbook.

But these days the idea is altogether different.

Children are hardly out of the cradle before they are arrested for butting into the speed limit with a smoke wagon.

Even when they go courting they have to play to the gallery.

Nowadays Gonsalvo H. Puffenlotz walks into the parlor to see Miss Imogene Cordelia Hoffbrew.

"Wie geht's, Imogene!" says Gonsalvo.

"Simlich!" says Imogene, standing at right angles near the piano because she thinks she is a Gibson girl.

"Imogene, dearest," Gonsalvo continues; "I called on your papa in Wall Street yesterday to find out how much money you have, but he refused to name the sum, therefore you have untold wealth!"

Gonsalvo pauses to let the Parisian clock on the mantle tick, tick, tick!

He is making the bluff of his life, you see, and he has to do even that on tick.

Besides, this furnishes the local color.

Then Gonsalvo bursts forth again, "Imogene! Oh! Imogene! will you be mine and I will be thine without money and without the price."

Gonsalvo pauses to let this idea get noised about a little.

Then he goes on, "Be mine, Imogene! You will be minus the money while I will have the price!"


Gonsalvo trembles with the passion which is consuming his pocketbook, and then Imogene turns languidly from a right angle triangle into more of a straight front and hands Gonsalvo a bitter look of scorn.

Then Gonsalvo grabs his revolver and, aiming it at her marble brow, exclaims, "Marry me this minute or I will shoot you in the topknot, because I love you."

Then papa rushes into the room and Gonsalvo politely requests the old gentleman to hold two or three bullets for him for a few moments.

Gonsalvo then bites deeply into a bottle of carbolic acid and, just as the Coroner climbs into the house, the pictures of the modern lover and loveress appear in the newspapers, and fashionable society receives a jolt.

This is the new and up-to-date way of making love.

However, I think the old style of courting is the best, because you can generally stop a jag before it gets to the undertaker.

What do you think?

[The end]
George V. Hobart's short story: You Should Worry About Being In Love