Oregon daily emerald. (Eugene, Or.) 1920-2012, May 15, 1943, Page 13, Image 13

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    Come Back a Better Woman
TIM took me down to the Dia
mond Seven the night of the
Hallman reception. He had never
wanted me to go and I'd never
pushed him very hard in the mat
ter, although being young and
quite in love made me jealous of
anything that was part of his
before I'd known him. I
hasn’t even able to justify in my
own mind why I thought that go
ing to such places as the Dia
mond Seven could now make me
as important in his past as I
hoped to be in his future.
But tonight he gave in. I guess
the reception must have kind of
gotten us both. We’d been to lots
of them—Jim covering them for
the Daily and me going just to
be with him and justifying my
presence by picking up a few
notes for the society section on
the side. But this was worse than
usual. Lloyd Hallman supposed
ly gave the affair so that the so
cial set could meet and honor
Madam Ronorat, the Opera
Guild’s new soprano, but every
one knew that it was the formal
forcing of Regina Hallman down
^ciety’s reluctant throats. Hall
^an had waited patiently, pay
ing the penalty for having mar
ried beneath him, laying his plans
for a long time. He knew that on
Wall Street positions can change
and often do. Society would
come tonight, or at least as much
of it as respected L. Hallman’s
wishes, and apparently the very
small number that had declined
his invitation weren’t detracting
from his pleasure, for Mr. Hall
man could scarcely fail to show
an unpleasant smile of triumph
at such tribute as was being paid
to him. You didn’t notice Mrs.
Hallman much, but you knew'
that there W'ere few men like
Lloyd Hallman who were so hard
clear through that contact w-ith
them left bruises and their grasp
crushed. People like that can
Kke even seasoned reporters
h as Jim long for a stiff
drink, so after he’d gotten what
he needed for his write-up we set
out for the Diamond Seven.
JN the smoky light of the base
ment room it was hard to tell
from where we sat just who
leaned over the bar, and when
one figure broke away he was
almost unrecognizable until he
had carefully made his way with
that light-footed, off-center equil
ibrium of drunkenness, almost to
our table. “It’s Joe Larrow,’’
Jim just had time to whisper be
fore the man reached us and
clung to a chair questioningly.
Jim’s “Do you want to sit down,
Joe?’’ reassured him and he set
« himself with some difficulty
the empty chair.
“Don’t see you much any more,
Jim," Joe reproached. "You used
to be here almost every night
with me before you got to be
somebody on the newspapers.”
"And it would still be hard to
beat the old cub days,” Jim an
swered with a reminiscent laugh.
“My, it's a lovely night,” Joe
murmurted thickly, complacent
ly, satisfied that Jim hadn't real
ly changed. "And you’re a lovely
fellow, Jim. And your friend’s
lovely, too. It’s a night like those
we had four years ago. Did I tell
you about those nights, Jim?”
“Yeah, you told me, Joe,” Jim
answered in a tone so strange
that I turned to look at him.
“Yeah, I told you,” Joe assent
ed sadly, then looked at me. “She
was here four years ago on nights
like these, and she’ll come here
again. That’s why I come, Miss.
I come every night. You ask Jim.
Don’t I come every night, Jim?”
He hurried on. “She wasn’t a
beautiful woman, Miss. I never
expected to get a beautiful wo
man but she wasn’t beautiful.
Only tall and quiet with eyes that
spoke to me. I guess that’s the
kind of way we did most of our
talking, she and I. Kind of from
soul to soul, Miss, because she
“wasn’t a beautiful woman and
couldn't talk light and brittle like
they do.”
“Who was she, Joe?” I asked
“Janie was her name. It kind
of describes her, too. She didn’t
want much, only to have people
like her, and to please me, I
guess. She wasn’t much of a
fighter. Lots of times I’d never
know I'd hurt her until I'd look
down at her eyes. But that’s the
kind that every man wants, I
guess, someone he can protect.
But she’ll come back, women like
that don’t change.”
“You met her here, then?”
“She didn’t have anything
when she came in that first
night, but even after she got a
job in some kind of an office she
still would come back every
night. I work for the railroad
and we had a line to put in out
of Chicago. It would take three
months and I told her I’d come
back fit for her at the end of that
time. I said that because we al
ways get some kind of a little
bonus when a job’s finished. She
said she'd make a better woman
of herself while I was gone too,
and we both kind of understood
that we’d get married when I
came home.”
Jim got unsteadily to his feet
and started for the door. He
turned back once to remark. “I
guess if she’s been making a bet
ter woman of herself for these
four years, she'll be pretty good
when I finally get her.” His
laugh rose from a whiskey-raw
throat and I smiled in my throat.
But seeing Jim’s face suddenly
quelled that rush of release with
in me for it was strangely drawn.
‘‘You met her then?” I asked.
He nodded.
‘‘Doesn’t anyone know where
she is?” I demanded impatiently.
“We've all known,” Jim an
swered. He stood up, shouldered
heavily into his overcoat and
picked up the reception notes
from the table.
I grew angry at his compla
cence and almost shouted at him,
“But what could you tell him
that would be worse than this
blind waiting and hoping that
he’s going through?” Then seeing
Jim crush what he had written
on the reception between his
strong hands the words froze in
my throat, and I remembered Re
gina Hallman who stood by her
husband and greeted the best peo
ple of the city with brittle con
versation and empty eyes.
Literary Page Staff:
Editor: Carol Greening
Mary Louise Vincent
Peggy Overland
Betsy Wootton
More than 100 faculty mem
bers and administrative officers
have resigned their positions at
Princeton university to enter war
An unprecedented number of
undergraduates at Wellesley col
lege are engaged this year in vol
unteer social service.
Midnight Return
My footsteps measure the silent streets,
Sweep echoes across the empty skies
I am a man of frightened eyes,
Flutter of moth wings under my heart.
A church full of swallows singing asleep,
Trees like pagodas under the lamps,
And under these trees and over those lamps
The wreb of yesterday’s echoes hangs.
Sharp in my eardrum there steal thy tinkle
Of pianos arpeggoing up the street.
Only a little soul, swept with defeat
Afraid of the dark and hurrying home.
Peggy Overland
All across the campus when the purple shadows lie
Beneath the sable fir trees and along the fading sky
There is mystery and beauty in the slow advancing night,
The buildings black as ebony and starred with jewels of light.
There’s a heavy scent of lilacs in the softly sleeping air,
And there's nothing left that's ugly and there's nothing left that's
While one by one the lights blink out, the shadows closer creep.
And night comes out of hiding as the people go to sleep.
By Betsy Wootton
Make the Most
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