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Thorne Smith


How not to Behave at a Church Supper

PETER, seated on a kitchen chair, was doing nothing more important than scratching his venerable pate with a long, reflective finger. In the fullness of time this heavy operation would produce a vocal reaction. It did. Peter spoke.

"Judy Twill," said Peter, "this house is going plumb to the dogs. Lately it's been all cockeyed."

"Something unnatural has come over it," agreed Judy, turning from the stove and regarding her husband darkly. "And that's certain sure. Some sort of a curse."

"'Tisn't a curse so much," pursued Peter academically. "It's more like an intermingling, if you get what I'm driving at. It's a merger, that's what it is."

He paused and once more his finger revolved upon his head as if it were stirring up thoughts in the brain within.

"Strange and uncommon things are going on," he resumed. "Unaccountable things. The master talks like the missus and the missus talks like the master, and before you've had a chance to get used to the change they switch back again to their regular voices. It's upsetting, that's what it is, upsetting. Take that dumb beast there, for instance. Low as he is he deserves some consideration. He hears coming from Miss Sally's mouth the voice of Mr. Tim, yet sitting not ten feet away is Mr. Tim as large as life. It's too much for the dog's mind, which never was good, as you yourself will agree. What does he do? I saw it myself with my own eyes. First he starts to go to one of 'em, then he turns and starts for the other, then not knowing what the devil to do and not wishing to offend either he sits down exactly midway between 'em and looks perplexed. He can't go on living and keeping his health that way. No dog could."

Mrs. Twill had a word to say at this juncture, which meant that for the moment Peter's voice was stilled.

"I can't get over yet what happened the other morning," she observed.

"What was that?" asked Peter obediently.

"Why," explained his wife, "I was having a bit of a set-to with the butcher's delivery boy over a leg of lamb I didn't just take a fancy to when in strolls Miss Sally. She was nearly half naked, she was. That is, her kimono was all open in front. Might just as well not have had it on. She was smoking a big black cigar and carrying a glass of drink. 'What the hell goes on here?' she asks in a deep, rough voice. Then she notices the boy staring at her as if his eyes were going to pop out. 'What are you looking at, funny face?' she rips out. 'Something wrong with my chest? Too much hair on it to suit you?' For the sake of decency I made a sort of a motion and she looks down at herself and seems startled. Then she looks at the cigar and the glass and begins to giggle. 'So sorry,' says she in the rightful voice that God gave her. 'I didn't know. You see, I'm rehearsing a part. Makes me forget myself.' And with that she minces out just as ladylike as can be. I'd like to know what sort of a part she's rehearsing. It will land her in the lock-up if she ever plays it in public."

"Everything's upside down," complained Peter. "She does most of the drinking now while he stays sober. That's no way. Another thing: he's taken to smoking her perfumed cigarettes and she goes round with a cigar in her mouth—I've actually seen her pulling at a pipe. And another funny thing I've noticed. We get two morning papers now instead of one, and when he comes home at night she makes a grab for the evening paper. Never saw a woman take such an interest in the news."

"The other morning I popped in on them and he was actually dressing her," declared Mrs. Twill. "She was cursing and damning like a trooper. 'How in hell do you get this girdle on?' she asked him. Imagine that, a woman asking her husband how to get dressed. And only last night I caught him strutting around in one of her nightgowns. It gave me a fair start, it did."

"This I do know," said Peter. "I get real dizzy now when I'm serving meals. Their voices shift about so quickly that I can't tell which one of them is asking me for things. Have to keep watching their lips to see who's speaking."

"Don't know where it's going to end," quoth Judy Twill.

"Perhaps it's some modern idea," suggested her husband.

"No idea is modern," replied his wife. "These new-fangled ideas we hear, so much about are just old-fangled ideas that have been tried out and forgotten or lost, but I will admit that whatever their idea is it's absolutely new to me."

Meanwhile the subjects of the Twills' conversation were busily and none too happily dressing for the evening.

"I've always had ideas of my own about the way women should dress," observed Tim, "and now that I am a woman to all intents and purposes I'm going to put them into practice."

"Do, dear," remarked his wife sweetly. "I hope they're more attractive than going about half naked in an old shirt or the top part of a pair of pyjamas."

"Wish I could get those days back again," said Tim with a heavy sigh.

"You should go on a diet," Sally protested. "Honestly, Tim, I wish you would. If you don't my beautiful figure will be completely ruined. You should take better care of your wife's body."

"Well, be extremely careful what you do with mine," admonished Tim. "If I ever get it back again I'd like to find it the way it left me." Here he looked thoughtfully at Mr. Ram. In Tim's eyes there was a respectful appeal, a mute entreaty.

"I think he's responsible," he told his wife. "I have an idea that little fellow up there is at the bottom of all our troubles."

"If he is," said Sally, "I hope he has a heart. We've never done anything to the little blighter. In fact, we've treated him very decently. Given him the place of honour."

Tim's thoughts were on other things.

"To-night, for example," he observed, "I think I'll just wear that black georgette pleated skirt of yours and that stunning red blouse."

"Take care of the blouse," said Sally. "Don't spill soup on it. I like that blouse. Wish I could wear it myself."

"I'll take care of the damn thing," answered Tim, "but honestly, Sally, I don't see why we have to go to this church supper. I've never been to a church supper and my technique will be rotten."

This discussion had been going on for a week, and Sally's nerves were becoming a bit frayed at the edges.

"Tim, dear," she said wearily, "I don't want to go to this washout any more than you do, but I must be there. I gave Dr. Jordan my word a long, long time ago, and now that you're me you've got to keep my word. That's all there is to it."

"What a deuce of a fine idea that is," complained Tim. "Hope you haven't dated me up for any taffy-pulling parties or sewing bees or ęsthetic dancing circles. I hate like hell to go to-night. It's hard to face a church supper."

"You don't like the cocktail parties I pull here," she replied, "and you don't like church suppers. Will you kindly tell me just what you do like?"

"You might be wearing my body," said Tim bitterly, "but your brain is just as illogical as it ever was. If I go to this joyless affair I've got to be primed before I start. Scream down to Peter to bring up a bottle of rye."

Sally humoured him. It was the only thing to do under the circumstances. She had to get him to the supper. It was going to be a superior sort of supper. All of the best people were going to be there, which meant, of course, the worst. Sally was determined that she should be seen although she realised with a feeling of dread that in trusting her body to Tim she was placing her reliance in a frail craft indeed.

"All I ask is that you don't get me—my body, I mean—all lit up," she said as Tim gulped down a drink. "And keep your own mind sober. You'll need it."

In spite of the injunction, both Tim and Sally were excessively well primed when they drove off to the supper.

"Don't forget," she told her husband, who was looking as pretty as a picture, "Dr. Jordan is a real sport, a regular hail-fellow-well-met sort."

"I know," said Tim. "He's a he-man, red-blooded and all that. I'll hate him. I'll hate everybody."

When they reached the church Tim parked the car in a side street where darkness abetted indulgence. After a steep drink from a flask that lived in one of the side pockets of the car they wiped their lips, took a couple of deep breaths, shook themselves and made for the church. Sally little suspected that beneath Tim's skirt, strapped securely round his waist and held cleverly in a little holster of his own devising, rested a small but sufficient bottle of rye whisky. Had she known this the situation might still have been saved. Unfortunately, however, she was unaware of the existence of this potential source of danger.

"Now, don't leave me," Tim breathed to Sally, smelling noxiously of strong drink. "I'm depending on you to steer me through this slaughter."

"I know," replied his wife, looking down at him from her superior height, "but the trouble is you're supposed to be steering me through the slaughter. It's all quite mad."

"And as it should be," added Tim, at which both of them laughed loudly and entered the church in high merriment for no particular reason.

The supper was held in the basement of the church. It was a great, gaunt chamber with naked brick walls that flung back vindictively the songs that were flung against them. The place was now filled with long tables and long-looking people, long people with strained faces and bright smiles. Here and there were animated little groups of the smart set, the individual members of which tried so hard to be sweet and hearty whenever approached by a regular, bona fide church supperite. Yet over these little groups hung an atmosphere of guilt and fear. For once they were out of their element, and where the real church worker walked with a confident tread these swagger members of the damned moved with a halting step. It was as if they felt that at any moment they would be committed irretrievably to something—to something dismal and demanding. Church suppers should be. There is nothing else quite like them. There is nothing else within a mile of them. A person who has never attended a church supper has neither lived nor savoured life. It is not wise to refuse an invitation to a church supper. It is not courageous. As a rule one gets a pretty good meal for a pitiful little piece of change. Of course one pays a thousand times over in mental anguish. One must be hearty and innocently merry at a church supper, and this comes hard to most of us. Then again, one must sing at a church supper, or at least give the appearance of singing. Also, at a church supper one must shake hands with people one doesn't know and whom one doesn't want to know. One must talk with these people and at the same time restrain the impulse to scream piercingly and to commit murder. There are ever so many things one must and must not do at a church supper. Among the hardest of the things one must not do at a church supper is to keep from making maniacal faces and obscene gestures at people who smile upon one with unfair suddenness and dazzling brightness. There are lots of other hard things not to do. For example: when the faded lady at your side sighs deeply and asks, "Don't you think poor Dr. Scraggs is overworking? He looks so tired to-night"—when the faded lady uncorks that one it is a very difficult thing not to reply rudely, "Indeed I don't. In my opinion, madam, Dr. Scraggs has one hell of an easy life. In my opinion he doesn't work half hard enough. And as for him looking tired—stuff and nonsense! It's the bunk, madam. The Rev. Dr. Scraggs is merely bored, and you are partly responsible."

Of course this answer might be quite untrue, for the Rev. Dr. Scraggses frequently are both overworked and underpaid, yet there is a deal of satisfaction to be derived in brutally offending one's neighbour at a church supper. One instinctively feels like doing it.

If one stopped to consider the hard work, the high hopes, and the tons of good will and better intentions that go to make every church supper a horrid reality one would be sunk in a mire of self-accusation and spiritual depression. But one must not think of such things unless one enjoys crying into one's soup. To enjoy a church supper in the right spirit one must be able to take it or leave it just like that. It's easy enough to take a church supper, but to leave it is an entirely different matter. It is almost impossible to leave a church supper. Houdini himself was never able to escape a church supper. Prisons, yes. Fortresses, yes. Chests at the bottom of rivers, yes, yes. Church suppers, no. His one great failure. They go on and on and on, do church suppers. After a while one gains the impression that one is going to live the remainder of one's life at a church supper. One speculates whether it would not be a wise thing to send for one's trunks and furniture so as to be properly equipped to do full justice to this church supper. The faces of old friends appear in fancy, and well-loved places, now forever left behind, float before one's aching eyes.

And yet one smiles brightly at a church supper and keeps on smiling though not quite so brightly for interminable hours, and after it's all over one goes home and kicks one's dog, beats one's wife, sets fire to one's neighbour's house, and feels a great deal better.

"I seem to see," observed Tim, confronting this church supper, "quite a number of old ladies and they all look alike with the exception that some are thin and tired while others are stout and tired. I suspect them of being Supper Ladies."

"They are," whispered Sally. "They constitute the very backbone of the supper."

"Then I don't want to eat it," said Tim resolutely.

"Those old ladies—we call them the Girls—are the only real persons here," Sally explained rapidly. "They've thought this supper, planned this supper, sweated over this supper, and they'll probably be too tired to eat the damn supper. I'm glad we came if only for their sake."

"Stop, Sally, you're breaking my heart," said Tim. "I don't know whether the Girls would be so glad to meet us."

"Oh, they'd forgive anything so long as you come to their suppers," replied Sally. "Are you swaying or am I?"

"Both of us are, but in different directions," said Tim. "That's what keeps us from falling. It seems so fantastic to be clinging to my own arm with your hand."

"I don't want to think of it," murmured Sally. "It makes me feel a little distrait."

The grip on her arm suddenly tightened and she heard him gasp.

"Look, Sally," he whispered. "Is that man a maniac? I'm frightened. Take me home."

Far down at the end of the room there was a man seated at a table and on the face of this man there was an expression, or rather, a contortion. In his eyes glowed a wild light. His mouth had achieved the limits of expansion. There were teeth, not good but abundant. Sally looked upon this man and started visibly, then steadied herself.

"It's all right," she said, "but I never can get used to it, myself. That's the Smile of Welcome and Good Cheer. You will encounter many more, but none quite so well developed. It's one of the features of all church suppers. It also sings lustily and then its eyes turn up."

"Oh, God. Oh, God," breathed Tim. "Do you think it's really happy, that it enjoys being here?"

"You couldn't drive it out," said Sally. "It eats these suppers up spiritually as well as physically."

Suddenly Tim found himself looking a black button closely in the face. The button was on a black vest on which there were still other buttons. Slowly his eyes followed the course of the buttons upward. Would they never end? They did—just under a strong, pink chin. With an effort he kept his eyes going until at last they surmounted the crest of the chin, and to his utter dismay he found them dwelling on a face that was looking down at him with a fixed glare. What eyes! What gleaming teeth! The very vitality of that face unnerved Tim. He swayed forward and grabbed two black-sleeved arms for support. At the same minute Sally, wishing to give a touch of realism to her masculine rôle, slapped the owner of the arms and face resoundingly on the back.

The effect to a bystander was that of a concerted attack by Mr. and Mrs. Willows upon the body and person of the Rev. Dr. Jordan. While one held the man's arms pinned to his sides the other brutally assaulted him. It was the old army game that succeeds nine times out of ten.

The slap had disconcerted Sally far more than it had Dr. Jordan, who stood rooted firm in the faith of God. Sally had no such support. She lost all poise and began to babble in a high, effeminate voice—in her own voice, in fact.

"Oh, Dr. Jordan," she gushed, "I have a surprise for you. I've brought my husband along."

"She means our wife," muttered Tim, still clinging to the preacher's arms. "Don't listen to him."

This correction brought Sally to her senses. She dropped her voice to a deep rumble, and once more addressed the preacher.

"That's a horse with another kidney," she said jovially. "But what does it matter? Who knows?"

"Knows what?" asked Tim suspiciously.

"Why ask me?" replied Sally. "Perhaps Dr. Jordan does."

But Dr. Jordan didn't. Accustomed as he was to strange and mystifying situations he found himself for the first time unable to function effectively. Gently but firmly he pried himself loose from Tim, who, realising that something must be done, smiled brightly up at Dr. Jordan and affectionately patted his arm.

"You see, Dr. Jordan, I kept my promise, didn't I?" he said in Sally's most seductive tones. "I did even better than that, but I knew he wouldn't behave. That husband of mine never takes anything seriously."

The great face of Dr. Jordan cleared. So that was the explanation. Tim Willows was a bit of a joker. Oh, well, the church needed more of that sort. He could use Tim Willows to advantage. Perhaps he might be induced to become a regular member of the congregation. True, there was a suggestion of rye in the air, but maybe.... He beamed his beamiest upon the pair and spoke richly.

"Welcome, welcome, welcome, friends," reiterated the doctor. "I need your sort behind me." Tim wondered what he meant by that. "You're a bit of a larker yourself, Mrs. Willows, but a lark flies up to heaven, as you, too, some day shall fly." ("How gloomy," thought Tim.) "Glad to have you with us to-night, Mr. Willows. I hope it will not be the last time. Come in some day and smoke a cigar with me. Mrs. Willows, I expect great things from you to-night. Find tables, find tables." His strong hand swept the room and nearly knocked the false teeth out of the mouth of one of his staunchest workers. "So sorry!" cried the Rev. Dr. Jordan, turning to the injured party, who was clutching or rather muffling his mouth with both hands. And when Dr. Jordan turned back again both Tim and Sally were tottering among the tables.

"Charming couple," thought Dr. Jordan, then moved away from the gentle cloud of alcohol still floating in the air.

"What did he mean about expecting great things of you?" demanded Tim.

"I'm on a committee," replied Sally vaguely. "Civic Betterment. It means nothing."

Blake and Helen Watson, Vera and Ted Hutchens, Flo Jennings and Carl Bentley were grouped in a depressed huddle. They all wore a beaten expression. They were furtively critical and just a trifle superior. At the approach of the Willowses the beaten look on Bentley's face became almost mutilated.

"Ha!" snorted Blake Watson, pulling at his moustache. "Hah!"

"Bah!" retorted Tim, looking at the man coldly through Sally's brown eyes. "What a hell of a jam this is."

At the sound of Tim's voice issuing from the sweet lips of Sally the statuesque Mr. Bentley gave a start and began to sweat unbecomingly.

"My dears!" exclaimed Sally, squeezing Vera's and Helen's hands with her much larger ones. "So sweet of you to have come. I knew you wouldn't let me down."

And with this she kissed them both.

"What's the big idea?" cried Blake Watson, giving Sally a violent push.

This treatment of his wife immediately aroused Tim. With a small foot he neatly tripped Watson, who fell with a crash among the chairs.

"Nobody can treat my wife that way," he announced, looking down at the fallen man.

Helen, although only occasionally fond of her husband, could not permit this incident to pass unnoticed.

She clawed Tim's hat from his head and threw it on the floor. Sally, more outraged by the treatment of her hat than her husband, promptly shoved Helen down on top of Blake Watson, then, taking Tim's arm, moved majestically away, disassociating herself as well as her spouse from the scene of disorder. It had all happened so quickly that even those who had been privileged to witness the scene at close range ascribed it to an accident. Church supper chairs are constantly doing things to people. They are almost human in their perverseness, either collapsing on a person or making a person collapse. Of course the noise attracted a great deal of attention, but the false and desperate laughter of the Watsons and the Hutchenses, swelled by the hearty boom of Mr. Bentley, served to dispel any suggestion of unpleasantness. Nevertheless the members of the little group were dazed. The strange conduct of the Willowses had momentarily numbed their faculties.

"Both of them are as drunk as coots," said Ted Hutchens. "That's the only way I can explain it."

"She actually knocked me down," observed Blake Watson in a puzzled voice.

"And he darned well hurled me down," put in Helen. "It was a sort of mixed scuffle as far as I can make out."

"It was very interesting to watch," drawled Vera. "The hat part was pretty. How did you ever come to think of that form of retaliation?"

"It was an inspiration," said Helen. "Sally loves her hats."

"We all do—when we get them," remarked Vera, with a significant look at her husband.

"You don't love hats," sneered Mr. Hutchens. "You bow down and fairly worship them."

A middle-aged but infinitely weary-looking woman came up to Tim and took him by the arm.

"Dear Mrs. Willows," she said in a harassed voice, "would you mind lighting that newfangled gasoline stove for us? You're so clever about such things."

Sally, with a smile of unholy enjoyment, watched the dazed Tim being dragged off in the direction of the kitchen.

"Which stove do you mean?" asked Tim of the weary woman. The kitchen seemed full of stoves, all of which were working briskly.

"That one," replied the woman, pointing to a sinister-looking object squatting defiantly in one corner.

"Ah," said Tim with the confidence born of alcohol. "I'll show you how to light that baby. It's really quite simple."

So saying, he turned on a tap until his ears were pleased by the jocund sound of gurgling fluid. Then he struck a match, pushed a button, and applied the light. There was a muffled boom, an odoriferous flame, then the room became lost in a deep, heavy pall of gaseous vapour. And from the bosom of this reeking cloud issued a volley of vile obscenities uttered in the deep voice of an infuriated male. The edges of this vocal display of frightfulness were garnished by the stifled shrieks of women. A short time later the Girls, gallantly led by Tim, debouched into the supper room like a troupe of blackfaced comediennes. Never had the Girls received such a shock and never had a church supper been so lively and entertaining. First Mr. and Mrs. Watson had got themselves entangled in some chairs, and actually fallen down on the floor in a most diverting manner. This was hugely funny and furnished no end of bright conversation. But to see the Girls in battle array issuing from the smoke of the kitchen was almost too much of a good thing. Of course, the explosion occasioned a certain amount of consternation, but this was quickly dispelled as soon as the bellowing voice of Dr. Jordan assured the company that all danger was past. The Girls and Tim required a certain amount of washing, which was administered by willing and tender hands. During the process of ablution Tim found an opportunity to empty virtually all of the contents of his flask. When once more he appeared in public he was feeling decidedly set up. The Girls were much more interested in trying to discover the source of the obscene language than that of the explosion. They never did, although they entertained some well-founded suspicions.

The supper proceeded coughingly, and although the food tasted weirdly of smoke and gasoline it was consumed with true Christian humility and fortitude. Then came the singing, which taxed the Willowses far beyond their capacity to stand taxing. This was especially true of Tim. At one moment he sang lustily in a clear, unmistakable baritone and at the next he startled both himself and everyone within hearing distance by swooping up to the dizzy altitudes of a soprano. Sally was experiencing the same difficulty, only not to the same extent. It was entirely forgivable if those sitting at her table were rendered mute with amazement when they heard proceeding from the mouth of an adult male the trebling alto of a choir boy. It is even more forgivable if they gasped with incredulity when they heard those ringing notes descend to a faint, embarrassed rumble. Up and down the scales fluctuated the voices of the Willowses until at times they seemed almost inspired. During a lull in the singing a lady leaned over to Tim and said, "My dear, I don't know how you can do it."

"It's a gift," replied Tim modestly. "I don't know how I manage it myself. Nobody ever taught me."

"Nobody should," remarked an old man.

When a long-faced individual asked Sally how she accomplished the feat she passed it off by saying that her mother's great-aunt by marriage had been a professional ventriloquist. This answer only partially satisfied the man. He kept brooding over the problem of how much influence one's mother's great-aunt by marriage could have on one's voice. Not a great deal, he decided. Certainly, not enough to justify the amazing demonstration of vocal gymnastics he had just heard. The singing ended, the speeches began, but little did Tim realise that he was to be among the speakers until he heard Dr. Jordan calling in a loud voice for Mrs. Sally Willows to address the assembled multitude on the subject of Civic Betterment.

"I'll do no such damn thing," Tim muttered to Sally.

"Don't let me down, Tim" she whispered. "You know as much about the subject as anyone else. Go on up there and just say you approve of civic betterment and all that."

Whether it was Sally or the liquor within him that prevailed upon Tim to mount the platform and stand swaying dangerously at its edge will never be known. The fact remains that he did this mad act and actually offered himself up on the altar of Christian martyrdom.

"Ladies and gentlemen," he began in a voice that snapped the supperites erect in their chairs. "Members of the Congregation," he continued in softly cooing accents. "Friends, would perhaps be better," he amended rather briskly. "I shall soon get started. A short time ago I gave a successful demonstration of how not to light a gasoline stove. I shall now endeavour to show you how not to make a speech."

Tim paused to permit his audience to become convulsed, and during that pause he lost control of his thoughts and almost lost his balance.

"Look out!" Sally whispered piercingly, and Tim swayed back from the edge of the platform.

"Friends," he began again, this time making no effort to disguise his voice, "I believe in physic betterment—I mean, civic betterment. We should have a bigger and better civic—pardon me again, I mean, physic—no, I don't—what I mean is, we should have a bigger and better betterment. Oh, yes, and a much bigger and better city. We must have much wider streets with lots of sidewalk cafes." Desperately Tim's hands sought for his pockets and, finding none, plucked impotently at his skirt. "And we should have bigger gardens," he continued. "Great big gardens running off to the skyline. Everything should be bigger, much bigger and much better. Bigger houses, bigger schools, bigger stores, bigger everything. Great big moving-picture theatres with fountains. Must have fountains." Once more Tim's hands struggled into non-existent pockets and succeeded in disarranging his skirt. Sally was beginning to get nervous. "Then there's another thing. We should have bigger and better churches. And I suggest that congregations should be drafted so that all the churches would be filled and the preachers wouldn't have to deliver their sermons to eleven or twelve dispirited-looking ladies who don't need to be saved. And I believe in free education for preachers. So many preachers are dumb because they lack the time and opportunity to continue their studies. Give 'em a chance to dig into economics, psychology, and sociology—any number of subjects. Give the poor devils a break, say I." Here the dress was strained to its utmost. "On the other hand I believe in the legalisation of the ancient and honourable profession of prostitution." Gasps from the audience. Wild signals from Sally, but Tim was warming to his subject. "Many a sweet girl has gone wrong because she was not allowed to become a good, honest prostitute. Do you know that last year 2,540 girls disappeared from their homes? Why, I ask you, why? Why did all those lovely girls disappear from their homes? Because they weren't allowed to become good, honest prostitutes—that is, most of them." He paused to watch the frantic approach of the Rev. Dr. Jordan. "Prostitution is an amiable and artistic profession. It develops a social instinct and——"

At this point the dress gave up all resistance and descended with a snap. The next moment the person believed to be Mrs. Sally Willows stood before the supperites and gave them the shock of their lives. The Rev. Dr. Jordan, whether from modesty or admiration, stopped in his tracks and gazed at the lovely figure. The step-ins were becomingly short and Sally's legs were becomingly shaped. Altogether the revelation was not at all bad. The supperites were in a state of ferment. Tim was almost frantic. He was making fluttering signals of anguish to Sally. Strange to say, disgraceful to say, that hard-boiled young lady was laughing. Tim could have poisoned her. What had broken Sally down was the small flask of whisky strapped so neatly around Tim's waist. The presence of that flask explained a lot to Dr. Jordan. In fact, it explained everything. Tim took a few frightened steps, tripped and fell. During the general commotion that followed, Sally adjusted Tim's dress and dragged the broken man from the church. Once in the car she gave him a huge drink. Then she drove him home herself.

"Well," said Tim at last, "we certainly made a go of that church supper."

"Yes," agreed Sally. "The Willowses were an immense social success—a riot, in fact."

"And the Rev. Dr. Jordan got a great deal more than he expected," added Tim.

"You opened his eyes to a lot of things," said Sally.

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