Vandover and the Brute
On a certain evening about four months later Ellis and Vandover had a "date" with Ida
Wade and Bessie Laguna at the Mechanics' Fair. Ellis, Bessie, and Ida were to meet
Vandover there in the Art Gallery, as he had to make a call with his father, and could not
get there until half-past nine. They were all to walk about the Fair until ten, after which
the two men proposed to take the girls out to the Cliff House in separate coupés. The
whole thing had been arranged by Ellis and Bessie, and Vandover was irritated. Ellis
ought to have had more sense; rushing the girls was all very well, but everybody went to
the Mechanics' Fair, and he didn't like to have nice girls like Turner or Henrietta Vance
see him with chippies like that. It was all very well for Ellis, who had no social position,
but for him, Vandover, it would look too confounded queer. Of course he was in for it
now, and would have to face the music. You can't tell a girl like that that you're ashamed
to be seen with her, but very likely he would get himself into a regular box with it all.
When he arrived at the Mechanics' Pavilion, it was about twenty minutes of ten, and as he
pushed through the wicket he let himself into a huge amphitheatre full of colour and
There was a vast shuffling of thousands of feet and a subdued roar of conversation like
the noise of a great mill; mingled with these were the purring of distant machinery, the
splashing of a temporary fountain and the rhythmic clamour of a brass band, while in the
piano exhibit the hired performer was playing a concert-grand with a great flourish.
Nearer at hand one could catch ends of conversation and notes of laughter, the creaking
of boots, and the rustle of moving dresses and stiff skirts. Here and there groups of school
children elbowed their way through the crowd, crying shrilly, their hands full of
advertisement pamphlets, fans, picture cards, and toy whips with pewter whistles on the
butts, while the air itself was full of the smell of fresh popcorn.
Ellis and Bessie were in the Art Gallery upstairs. Mrs. Wade, Ida's mother, who gave
lessons in hand painting, had an exhibit there which they were interested to find; a bunch
of yellow poppies painted on velvet and framed in gilt. They stood before it some little
time hazarding their opinions and then moved on from one picture to another; Ellis
bought a catalogue and made it a duty to find the title of every picture. Bessie professed
to be very fond of painting; she had 'taken it up' at one time and had abandoned it, only
because the oil or turpentine or something was unhealthy for her. "Of course," she said,
"I'm no critic, I only know what I like. Now that one over there, I like that. I think those
ideal heads like that are lovely, don't you, Bandy? Oh, there's Van!"
"Hello!" said Vandover, coming up. "Where's Ida?"
"Hello, Van!" answered Bessie. "Ida wouldn't come. Isn't it too mean? She said she
couldn't come because she had a cold, but she was just talking through her face, I know.
She's just got kind of a streak on and you can't get anything out of her. You two haven't
had a row, have you? Well, I didn't think you had. But she's worried about something or