Vernonia eagle. (Vernonia, Or.) 1922-1974, June 05, 1936, Image 9

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Copyright, Kathleen Norris.
Antoinette Taft, twenty-three, at­
tractive and ambitious but unable to
hold a Job, lives in a drab San Fran­
cisco flat with her sister Brenda and
brother Clift, who are older, her sev­
enteen-year-old brother Bruce, and
their Aunt Meg. In her Job hunting
rounds she interviews Lawrence Bel­
lamy, editor of the Journal of Com­
merce, but finds he has no place tor
a woman writer. Tony goes home
and busies herself with housework.
Brenda and Aunt Meg arrive.
«• T DECLARE, Tony, you have a
* wonderful nature!” she said.
‘‘Hasn't she?” Brenda asked.
“You flatter and charm me, la­
dles," said Tony and drifted Into
the sitting room.
A long, lean, tousle-headed boy
was stretched upon the sitting-room
couch now; his heavy lesson book
slid to the ground as he turned to
face Tony.
“Boo,” shf said, “I didn't hear
you come In. How was the meet?”
“Five and flve; we tied ’em in
the last three seconds,’ the boy
said, with a stretch and a yawn
“Dinner nearly ready?’
Presently they were at dinner.
Tony, smiling at them all, said sud­
denly “Isn't anyone going to ask
me about the Job on the Journal?”
“I knew the minute I saw you
that there was nothing doin’,” Bren
da said.
“Nope,’ Tony said heroically,
"nothing doing!’
“Ah, my dear, I’m so sorry!’
“That means,” Tony said, star
Ing into space, playing with her
knife, “that I’ve been to every city
editor and every Sunday editor In
this city. I am not destined to en­
joy a newspaper career!’’
“Aw, gee! Break you up?” asked
Bruce’s hoarse young voice, all
“Kind of.” Tony blinked and
“What’d he say, the Journal man.
“Oh, he was nice enough. But
he wasn’t Interested.”
“Snuffy old miser!” Brenda said,
helping herself to more strawber­
“Oh, no, he's not, Bendy. He’s
a stunning young thing, as tall as
Cliff—not much more than thirty,
I should think, and very much the
“What did he say?”
“He wanted me to get adver­
tisements, of course. I wonder."
Tony said musingly, her elbow on
the table, her square chin in one
hand, “I wonder If it’s horribly
hard to get advertisements. Some­
one must do it; there are millions
of them on all sides. Maybe I
ought to try It It might get me
In, anyway.”
“It doesn't seem to me the thing
for a girl to do,” Miss Bruce said
with a decision that sat oddly upon
her smallness and frailness.
“I’ll get something,” Tony said
again; “but It seems so useless to
get started In anything I really
don’t want to do.”
As Tony and Brenda washed the
dishes there was a stir at the hall
door; a man's voice
“Hello, everyone. Cliff here?"
“He’s really shy—Barney: he’s
been standing there hating to make
the break," Tony thought, as she
called back cordially, “Come in,
Barney. No, he's not He went
to Sacramento.”
Barney's big bulk slid into the
chair that Aunt Meggy, flutterlng-
ly departing, left empty.
“I can’t stay,” Barney said half­
Tony, Brenda and Barney sat on
lazily, Idly, at the wide-opened
window tn the dim light. Bruce
was snoring audibly on the couch.
“We can have a light If there’s
any purpose in it” Tony observed.
WNU Service.
“No, I have to go,” Barney said,
not stirring. “What took Cliff to
“They’d punched the switchboard
wrong for the Weinstock thing,”
Tony stated Indifferently.
“Who said so?” Barney's words
were like bullets.
“Cliff did.”
“What’d he say?”
“Well, If you must know. Bar-
new, Cliff was shaving this morn­
ing, and Mr. Ridley telephoned.
Cliff's first speech was ‘The hell’!
Then he rushed out like a fire
wagon, and the next thing I knew
he bad telephoned that he was off
for Sacramento."
“I’ll bet you It was all right
when he got there,” Barney said,
after thought.
“Was that bad, Barney?” Bren­
da asked anxiously. Darling old
Bendy, Tony thought; she had had
so much anxiety in her twenty­
eight years!
“Oh, kinder."
“Was It—was It Cliff’s fault?"
"It was all our faults, I guess
We did the drawings.”
“It seems,’ Tony volunteered,
“that they wanted this marble slab
to stand up vertically, as It were,
and it was cut to lie down side-
wise, and they said they’d have
to take out a piece of wall in the
“Who said so?” Barney asked, In
the explosive. Incredulous manner
he had used before.
“Well, that was It That was
the trouble.”
Except for repeating under his
breath Clifford's own expletive,
Barney made no comment on this.
There was silence again. “See Bel­
lamy on the Journal, Tony?” he
“Yes, I did. This morning. Noth­
ing came of it.”
“Ha!” Barney ejaculated, and at
his tone she felt her cheeks flush
in the shadows. It was as If Bar­
ney felt himself personally charged
with the business ot getting Tony
Taft, who had lost so many jobs
in the past few years, still another.
“What was It that your Aunt
Sally had in mind?”
“She wasn't at home when I tel­
ephoned, so I don’t know,” Tony
said untruthfully. It was none of
his business whether she was work­
ing or idle!
“Miss Grace, in our office, Is go­
ing to marry Jay Klinker,” Bar­
ney said after a moment. “She’s
not such a smart girl, but we all
feel badly to have her go. For
one thing, she’s always on time.”
The voice that he had been try­
ing to keep very casual over his
pipe took on a slightly sententious
note. “I think that's darned Im­
portant,” he went on. “Being on
time, dependable And then she's a
smartly dressed girl, neat. Men
like women In offices to be neat—
look nice. Then another thing,
you never hear her. Quiet All
the girls like her, but there's none
of this giggling and whispering—”
“I loathe you, you smug pig,”
Tony said pleasantly In her heart,
as he paused. “Who are you to rub
it Into me that I don’t get to the of­
fice on time and that my clothes
are shabby? I loathe and despise
you, smoking there and feeling so
sure of yourself, and if you had
forty thousand a week I wouldn't
marry you under chloroform!”
Aloud she said nothing, and the
rain began to spatter and whisper
In the dark again. Barney said for
the third time, “Gosh, I’ve got to
go,” and this time did go, with a
little doorway murmuring to Bren­
da, and a casual “ 'Night, TonyI”
to the younger girl.
After a while Brenda said:
“Feel awfully bad about that Jour­
nal Job, Tony?”
“No," Tony answered readily, but
In a tone so low that the other
girl knew she was holding It steady.
“Not so much about that. But—
oh, I don’t know, the whole thing!
Other persons get Into the work
they like, and get paid for It,
and make good. I seem to have to
do everything I hate—bookkeeping,
jobs in stores, companion to crazy
old ladles In love with their chauf­
feurs, teaching In private schools
that go bust owing me a hundred
and twenty dollars! It would seem
that I can’t do what I want to do,
and I hate to do what I—” She
laughed, presently resuming on a
less Impatient note, "I hate to do
what I have to do," she said mild­
ly. “I hate office work, Bendy.
If It were the stage, or a newspa­
per, or doing anything In the mov­
ies, I’d work like a dog. But Just
to go downtown tomorrow and get
a job taking letters from young pip­
squeaks who haven’t the remotest
Idea what they’re talking about,
and hang my coat in a locker, and
go to a cafeteria for lunch—nnd
go on with It, Brenda, for three
years and five years and ten and
twenty— It scares me!”
"You’ll never drudge along In an
office for twenty years or for flve!”
Brenda predicted, in a troubled
“You have!"
Tony thought.
Aloud she said nothing.
“You’ll marry,” Brenda said.
Tony could feel her cheeks flush
“You’ll Marry,” Brenda Said.
“Maybe Barney—”
Brenda went on boldly.
“I don’t think it’ll be Barney,”
Tony answered moderately.
wish,” she went on, her tone warm­
ing, “I wish you could have heard
the nice little sermon he was just
preaching to me! Barney's so out­
rageously — stuck — on himself!”
“about being on time at the office,
and dressing smartly—”
“He didn’t!”
“He did.”
There was a silence
“It only means that he's in love
with you."
“He’s in love with Barney Kerr
—that's who he’s In love with!"
“No, honestly, Tony, Barney Isn’t
so conceited I But he likes you so
much that he worries about you—
honestly, that's It."
“Any man can ask any girl,”
Tony observed, after thought. "He's
never said anything."
“Not on a hundred and fifty a
month, with a mother like his.”
“He's really in love with the
whole family, and I don’t blame
him, when you look at the family
he's got!” Tony said. "He's lonely,
and he likes our food, and he can
talk about oil circuit-breakers and
pole-top whatnots with Cliff, and
that’s all there Is to It”
“Tony,” Brenda began, as Tony
fell silent, “would you like him to
ask you to marry him?”
“Yes," Tony answered without
hesitation, “so that I could refuse
Brenda laughed.
“He's too smart to risk that,”
she said. “In some ways he's much
wiser than Cliff. But anyone see­
ing the way he watches you, Tony,
and worries about your affairs and
—well, even in this giving advice
this evening—anyone can see that
he's thinking of you all the time.
And I know this,” Brenda went on
seriously, “I know enough of hu­
man nature to know that the min­
ute a man like that marries a
woman, she—she becomes sacred.
You'd be completely spoiled—every­
thing you did would be wonder­
ful—would be perfect to Barney!
And if you ever had a child,” said
Brenda, “well, I can Imagine the
St. Joseph airs that Barney would
put on! . Nobody could stand him!”
Tony laughed, not displeased
with the turn the conversation had
taken. She knew that it was true.
Barney did take himself and Ills
profession seriously, but he took
his relationship to Tony seriously,
“I could marry Barney," she said
thoughtfully, reluctantly.
“But It would just, be a mar­
riage, Brenda," she burst out, af­
ter a pause. “It would Just be—oh,
a little apartment somewhere, and
being nice to Mrs. Kerr, and agree­
ing with her that there never was
a son like Barney.
“But why should you want me
to get married, Bendy?”
“I want you to be happy.”
“I wouldn’t be. And once you’re
married, you can’t get out."
“I daresay it’s quite different,
though, once you're in.”
Tony was silent.
“But, why not Barney?" The old
er sister persisted lightly. “Cliff
loves him; we all do. We've known
hiir all our lives.”
“In the first place, he isn’t in love
with me,” Tony said. “In the sec­
ond, I’m not in the least in love
with him, and I never could be.
vnd at that," she added honestly.
“I think he wants me, has It In his
mind, anyway, that we will marry
some day, and I believe I could
marry him and make him a darned
good wife! But there’s no — no
flame to that, Brenda,” Tony fin­
ished, in a low tone. “There’s no
glory. If I were successful at
something—as a head nurse, or a
reporter, or a photographer, or a
lecturer. It'd be different. I’d marry
with—with style, then. I’d feel
that I’d been a success at one thing
and would be at another. But If I
married Barney now it’d be a har­
bor—and he’d know It! It’d be
just—just taking care of poor wild
Tony, who tried for the stage and
the newspapers and was fired and
snubbed all round, and who finally
realized that a woman’s truest role
is that of a wife and mother—"
She stopped, her voice thickening.
“It Is the happiest life,” Brenda
offered, In a slow voice with notes
of pain In it “If you love a man
that Is,” she added.
“Ah, but you see 1 don’t” Tony
said. “I know the real thing when
I meet It In that newspaper of­
fice today—down at the Journal
rooms, I mean, I met a man—”
She stopped. Presently she re­
sumed again, a little shamefacedly:
“You’d think I'm an absolute fool
if I say that something—something
flashed between us—between this
Mr. Bellamy upon whom I’d never
set eyes in my life before, and me
—that was nearer—nearer—love,
than anything Barney's ever made
me feel! He had only to look at
me to make me feel silly and cold
and sliuddery, you know that won­
derful feeling that you’re going all
to pieces and don’t care!"
“I don’t know," said Brenda,
laughing in sudden relief, “and 1
do think you’re silly, Idiotic, if you
ask me. What do you know of
this man?”
“Nothing!" admitted Tony, laugh­
ing too. “Except that he’s some­
where around thirty, and mar­
"Yes, of course—he would be."
"But that Isn’t love, Tony."
“Well, maybe It Isn't But It's
something—something a girl wants
to have before she gives In, Bren­
“Antoinette Taft!"
“I know. I know how It sounds,
I admit that it's supremely silly 1 1
only used it as an Illustration.—
What on earth—!” She said the
last words on an odd note of fright.
For the telephone was shrilly ring­
She ran out in the narrow halt
Brenda’s face was a study In va­
ried emotions as she listened to the
conversation that was by turns
puzzled, awed, excited, rapturous.
"Oh, Bendy, Bendy,” gasped
Tony, rushing back to fall at her
sister’s knees and clutch at her
dramatically. "It’s the Call! Some
Mr. Greenwood of the Call! Bendy,
he wanted to see me tonight—I’m
to see him at two tomorrow! He
wanted me to come down right
now. Twenty-five a week—twen­
ty-five a week, and I’m to try the
society column 1 Oh, Bendy, you'll
help me, won’t you? I mean with
the people who come Into the store
—I mean getting engagements and
parties and everything! Oh, Bendy,
he sounded so nice!”
“What Is It?” Aunt Meggy here
Interpolated dazedly, from her door­
Cliff, blown and pale and tired,
was in the hall doorway. “What's
all the shouting about?” he said.
Tony enlightened them ecstati­
“Oh,, Cliff, just as I was des­
pairing—I’d been to the Journal to­
day, and there didn’t seem a chance
—Just as I was despairing, this
Mr. Greenwood telephoned from the
Call, and he wants me to gather
up all the news I can and begin
tomorrow—and twenty-five a week,
“That’s something like," Cliff
said, with his slow smile.
“And, Cliff, you know I can do
it,” chattered Tony. “Yon know
I can, Bendy! Aunt Sally’ll help
me, and Mrs. Terry!”
“Want to go down now and
clinch It?" Clifford asked.
“Oh, Cliff, could we? He really
did want to see me, because tomor­
row’s the day he usually has off,
and he said I’d have to ‘scout
around and dig up a lot of mush
for the Sunday page’ 1”
“Get your hat on,” said Cliff. “I
know a man named Burke who
works on the sports section. We’ll
go down.”
"You angel!” Tony called back,
flying into her room to change.
Brenda smiled at her oldest broth­
er. “How’d it go In Sacramento,
“Oh, I think I hutched the switch­
board, all right. However, we think
we can work out of It."
Cliff put on his damp overcoat
again, as Tony came out radiant
and fresh in her dark blue coat and
small hat, and they went away to­
• •IT'S so much easier to go in
* there with you along, Cliff,”
Tony said, when they had left the
street car and made a wet run for
the lighted doorway of the big
newspaper building.
“Sure," he said. "1 hope Burke's
there. He may not be, though."
The elevator flashed up past
floors that were dark and deserted
at eleven o'clock at night. They
stepped out at the fourteenth
floor; everything was brightly ani­
mated and exciting here, and Tony
looked about her with avid Interest
at the glass-top doors that were
opening and shutting continually
upon seething inner apartments. A
quiet girl at a telephone switch­
board looked up.
"Mr. Greenwood?”f The girl re­
peated the name cauflously Into
a black rubber mouthpiece. “There’s
a Miss Taft to see you here.”
Sitting back, the said, “You can
go right In. It's room 18.”
Tony followed her brother daz­
edly. Here was room 18, with
“City Room” lettered In black on
the door, and “Charles Greenwood"
set modestly in a corner below IL