The Man in Lower Ten
27. The Sea, The Sand, The Stars
I telephoned as soon as I reached my hotel, and I had not known how much I had hoped
from seeing her until I learned that she was out of town. I hung up the receiver, almost
dizzy with disappointment, and it was fully five minutes before I thought of calling up
again and asking if she was within telephone reach. It seemed she was down on the bay
staying with the Samuel Forbeses.
Sammy Forbes! It was a name to conjure with just then. In the old days at college I had
rather flouted him, but now I was ready to take him to my heart. I remembered that he
had always meant well, anyhow, and that he was explosively generous. I called him up.
"By the fumes of gasoline!" he said, when I told him who I was. "Blakeley, the Fount of
Wisdom against Woman! Blakeley, the Great Unkissed! Welcome to our city!"
Whereupon he proceeded to urge me to come down to the Shack, and to say that I was an
agreeable surprise, because four times in two hours youths had called up to ask if Alison
West was stopping with him, and to suggest that they had a vacant day or two. "Oh -
Miss West!" I shouted politely. There was a buzzing on the line. "Is she there?" Sam had
no suspicions. Was not I in his mind always the Great Unkissed? - which sounds like the
Great Unwashed and is even more of a reproach. He asked me down promptly, as I had
hoped, and thrust aside my objections.
"Nonsense," he said. "Bring yourself. The lady that keeps my boarding-house is calling to
me to insist. You remember Dorothy, don't you, Dorothy Browne? She says unless you
have lost your figure you can wear my clothes all right. All you need here is a bathing
suit for daytime and a dinner coat for evening."
"It sounds cool," I temporized. "If you are sure I won't put you out - very well, Sam, since
you and your wife are good enough. I have a couple of days free. Give my love to
Dorothy until I can do it myself."
Sam met me himself and drove me out to the Shack, which proved to be a substantial
house overlooking the water. On the way he confided to me that lots of married men
thought they were contented when they were merely resigned, but that it was the only
life, and that Sam, Junior, could swim like a duck. Incidentally, he said that Alison was
his wife's cousin, their respective grandmothers having, at proper intervals, married the
same man, and that Alison would lose her good looks if she was not careful.
"I say she's worried, and I stick to it," he said, as he threw the lines to a groom and
prepared to get out. "You know her, and she's the kind of girl you think you can read like
a book. But you can't; don't fool yourself. Take a good look at her at dinner, Blake; you
won't lose your head like the other fellows - and then tell me what's wrong with her.
We're mighty fond of Allie."