TED SEIZES THE DAY
The next morning Ted strolled into
his uncle’s office to ask if the latter had
any objections to his accepting an invitation to a
house-party from Hal Underwood, a college classmate,
at the latter’s home near Springfield.
The doctor considered a moment before
answering. He knew all about the Underwoods and
knew that his erratic nephew could not be in a safer,
pleasanter place. Also his quick wit saw a chance
to put the screws on the lad in connection with the
“I suppose your June allowance
is able to float your traveling expenses,” he
remarked less guilelessly than the remark sounded.
The June allowance was, it seemed, the missing link.
“I thought maybe you would be
willing to allow me a little extra this month on account
of commencement stunts. It is darned expensive
sending nosegays to sweet girl graduates. I couldn’t
help going broke. Honest I couldn’t, Uncle
Phil.” Then as his uncle did not leap at
the suggestion offered, the speaker changed his tack.
“Anyway, you would be willing to let me have
my July money ahead of time, wouldn’t you?”
he ingratiated. “It is only ten days to
But Doctor Holiday still chose to
be inconveniently irrelevant.
“Have you any idea how much
my bill was for repairing the car?” he asked.
Ted shook his head shamefacedly, and
bent to examine a picture in a magazine which lay
on the desk. He wasn’t anxious to have the
car incident resurrected. He had thought it decently
buried by this time, having heard no more about it.
“It was a little over a hundred
dollars,” continued the doctor.
The boy looked up, genuinely distressed.
“Gee, Uncle Phil! It’s highway robbery.”
“Scarcely. All things considered,
it was a very fair bill. A hundred dollars is
a good deal to pay for the pleasure of nearly getting
yourself and somebody else killed, Ted.”
Ted pulled his forelock and had nothing to say.
“Were you in earnest about paying
up for that particular bit of folly, son?”
“Why, yes. At least I didn’t
think it would be any such sum as that,” Ted
hedged. “I’ll be swamped if I try
to pay it out of my allowance. I can’t
come out even, as it is. Couldn’t you take
it out of my own money what’s coming
to me when I’m of age?”
“I could, if getting myself
paid were the chief consideration. As it happens,
it isn’t. I’m sorry if I seem to be
hard on you, but I am going to hold you to your promise,
even if it pinches a bit. I think you know why.
How about it, son?”
“I suppose it has to go that
way if you say so,” said Ted a little sulkily.
“Can I pay it in small amounts?”
“How small? Dollar a year?
I’d hate to wait until I was a hundred and forty
or so to get my money back.”
The boy grinned reluctantly, answering
the friendly twinkle in his uncle’s eyes.
He was relieved that a joke had penetrated what had
begun to appear to be an unpleasantly jestless interview.
He hated to be called to account. Like many another
older sinner he liked dancing, but found paying the
piper an irksome business.
“Nonsense, Uncle Phil!
I meant real paying. Will ten dollars a month
“It will, provided you don’t
try to borrow ahead each month from the next one.”
“I won’t,” glibly.
“If you will ” The boy broke
off and had the grace to look confused, realizing
he had been about to do the very thing he had promised
in the same breath not to do. “Then that
means I can’t go to Hal’s,” he added
He felt sober. There was more
than Hal and the house-party involved, though the
latter had fallen in peculiarly fortuitous with his
other plans. He had rashly written Madeline he
would be in Holyoke next week as she desired, and
the first of July and his allowance would still be
just out of reach next week. It was a confounded
nuisance, to say the least, being broke just now,
with Uncle Phil turned stuffy.
“No, I don’t want you
to give up your house-party, though that rests with
you. I’ll make a bargain with you.
I’ll advance your whole July allowance minus
ten dollars Saturday morning.”
Ted’s face cleared, beamed like
sudden sunshine on a cloudy March day.
“You will! Uncle Phil,
you certainly are a peach!” And in his exuberance
he tossed his cap to the ceiling, catching it deftly
on his nose as it descended.
“Hold on. Don’t rejoice
too soon. It was to be a bargain, you know.
You have heard only one side.”
“Oh h!” The exclamation was
“I understand that you fell
down on most of your college work this spring.
Is that correct?”
This was a new complication and just
as he had thought he was safely out of the woods,
too. Ted hung his head, gave consent to his uncle’s
question by silence and braced himself for a lecture,
though he was a little relieved that he need not bring
up the subject of that inconvenient flunking of his,
himself; that his uncle was already prepared, whoever
it was that had told tales. The lecture did not
“Here is the bargain. I
will advance the money as I said, provided that as
soon as you get back from Hal’s you will make
arrangements to tutor with Mr. Caldwell this summer,
in all the subjects you failed in and promise to put
in two months of good, solid cramming, no half way
“Gee, Uncle Phil! It’s vacation.”
“You don’t need a vacation.
If all I hear of you is true, or even half of it,
you made your whole college year one grand, sweet vacation.
What is the answer? Want time to think the proposition
“No o. I guess
I’ll take you up. I suppose I’ll have
to tutor anyway if I don’t want to drop back
a class, and I sure don’t,” Ted admitted
honestly. “Unless you’ll let me quit
and you won’t. It is awfully tough, though.
You never made Tony or Larry kill themselves studying
in vacations. I don’t see ”
“Neither Tony or Larry ever
flunked a college course. It remained for you
to be the first Holiday to wear a dunce cap.”
Ted flushed angrily at that.
The shot went home, as the doctor intended it should.
He knew when to hit and how to do it hard, as Larry
“Fool’s cap if you like, Uncle Phil.
I am not a dunce.”
“I rather think that is true.
Anyway, prove it to us this summer and there is no
one who will be gladder than I to take back the aspersion.
Is it understood then? You have your house-party
and when you come back you are pledged to honest work,
no shirking, no requests for time off, no complaints.
Have I your word?”
Ted considered. He thought he
was paying a stiff price for his house-party and his
lark with Madeline. He could give up the first,
though a fellow always had a topping time at Hal’s;
but he couldn’t quite see himself owning ignominiously
to Madeline that he couldn’t keep his promise
to her because of empty pockets. Moreover, as
he had admitted, he would have to tutor anyway, probably,
and he might as well get some gain out of the pain.
“I promise, Uncle Phil.”
“Good. Then that is settled.
I am not going to say anything more about the flunking.
You know how we all feel about it. I think you
have sense enough and conscience enough to see it
about the way the rest of us do.”
Ted’s eyes were down again now.
Somehow Uncle Phil always made him feel worse by what
he didn’t say than a million sermons from other
people would have done. He would have gladly
have given up the projected journey and anything else
he possessed this moment if he could have had a clean
slate to show. But it was too late for that now.
He had to take the consequences of his own folly.
“I see it all right, Uncle Phil,”
he said looking up. “Trouble is I never
seem to have the sense to look until afterward.
You are awfully decent about it and letting me go
to Hal’s and everything. I I’ll
be gone about a week, do you mind?”
“No. Stay as long as you
like. I am satisfied with your promise to make
good when you do come.”
Ted slipped away quickly then.
He was ashamed to meet his uncle’s kind eyes.
He knew he was playing a crooked game with stacked
cards. He hadn’t exactly lied hadn’t
said a word that wasn’t strictly true, indeed.
He was going to Hal’s, but he had let his uncle
think he was going to stay there the whole week whereas
in reality he meant to spend the greater part of the
time in Madeline Taylor’s society, which was
not in the bargain at all. Well he would make
up later by keeping his promise about the studying.
He would show them Larry wasn’t the only Holiday
who could make good. The dunce cap jibe rankled.
And so, having satisfied his sufficiently
elastic conscience, he departed on Saturday for Springfield
and adjacent points.
He had the usual “topping”
time at Hal’s and tore himself away with the
utmost reluctance from the house-party, had half a
mind, indeed, to wire Madeline he couldn’t come
to Holyoke. But after all that seemed rather a
mean thing to do after having treated her so rough
before, and in the end he had gone, only one day later
than he had promised.
It was characteristic that, arrived
at his destination, he straightway forgot the pleasures
he was foregoing at Hal’s and plunged whole-heartedly
into amusing himself to the utmost with Madeline Taylor.
Carpe Diem was Ted Holiday’s motto.
Madeline had indeed proved unexpectedly
pretty and attractive when she opened the door to
him on Cousin Emma’s little box of a front porch,
clad all in white and wearing no extraneous ornament
of any sort, blushing delightfully and obviously more
than glad of his coming. He would not have been
Ted Holiday if he hadn’t risen to the occasion.
The last girl in sight was usually the only girl for
him so long as she was in sight and sufficiently
jolly and good to look upon.
A little later Madeline donned a trim
tailored black sailor hat and a pretty and becoming
pale green sweater and the two went down the steps
together, bound for an excursion to the park.
As they descended Ted’s hand slipped gallantly
under the girl’s elbow and she leaned on it ever
so little, reveling in the ceremony and prolonging
it as much as possible. Well she knew that Cousin
Emma and the children were peering out from behind
the curtains of the front bedroom upstairs, and that
Mrs. Bascom and her stuck up daughter Lily had their
faces glued to the pane next door. They would
all see that this was no ordinary beau, but a real
swell like the magnificent young men in the movies.
Perhaps as she descended Cousin Emma’s steps
and went down the path between the tiger lilies and
peonies that flanked the graveled path with Ted Holiday
beside her, Madeline Taylor had her one perfect moment.
Only the “ordinary” Fred,
on hearing his wife’s voluble descriptions later
of Madeline’s “grand” young man failed
to be suitably impressed. “Them swells
don’t mean no girl no good no time,” he
had summed up his views with sententious accumulation
But little enough did either Ted or
Madeline reck of Fred’s or any other opinion
as they fared their blithe and care-free way that gala
week. The rest of the world was supremely unimportant
as they went canoeing and motoring and trolley riding
and mountain climbing and “movieing” together.
Madeline strove with all her might to dress and act
and be as nearly like those other girls after
whom she was modeling herself as possible, to do nothing,
which could jar on Ted in any way or remind him that
she was “different.” In her happiness
and sincere desire to please she succeeded remarkably
well in making herself superficially at least very
much like Ted’s own “kind of girl”
and though with true masculine obtuseness he was entirely
unaware of the conscious effort she was putting into
the performance nevertheless he enjoyed the results
in full and played up to her undeniable charms with
his usual debonair and heedless grace and gallantry.
The one thing that had been left out
of the program for lack of suitable opportunity was
dancing, an omission not to be tolerated by two strenuous
and modern young persons who would rather fox trot
than eat any day. Accordingly on Thursday it
was agreed that they should repair to the White Swan,
a resort down the river, famous for its excellent cuisine,
its perfect dance floor and its “snappy”
negro orchestra. Both Ted and Madeline knew that
the Swan had also a reputation of another less desirable
sort, but both were willing to ignore the fact for
the sake of enjoying the “jolliest jazz on the
river” as the advertisement read. The dance
was the thing.
It was, indeed. The evening was
decidedly the best yet, as both averred, pirouetting
and spinning and romping through one fox trot and one
step after another. The excitement of the music,
the general air of exhilaration about the place and
their own high-pitched mood made the occasion different
from the other gaieties of the week, merrier, madder,
a little more reckless.
Once, seeing a painted, over-dressed
or rather under-dressed, girl in the arms of a pasty-faced,
protruding-eyed roue, both obviously under the
spell of too much liquid inspiration, Ted suffered
a momentary revulsion and qualm of conscience.
He shouldn’t have brought Madeline here.
It wasn’t the sort of place to bring a girl,
no matter how good the music was. Oh, well!
What did it matter just this once? They were there
now and they might as well get all the fun they could
out of it. The music started up, he held out
his hand to Madeline and they wheeled into the maze
of dancers, the girl’s pliant body yielding to
his arms, her eyes brilliant with excitement.
They danced on and on and it was amazingly and imprudently
late when they finally left the Swan and went home
to Cousin Emma’s house.
Ted had meant to leave Madeline at
the gate, but somehow he lingered and followed the
girl out into the yard behind the house where they
seated themselves in the hammock in the shade of the
lilac bushes. And suddenly, without any warning,
he had her in his arms and was kissing her tempestuously.
It was only for a moment, however.
He pulled himself together, hot cheeked and ashamed
and flung himself out of the hammock. Madeline
sat very still, not saying a word, as she watched
him march to and fro between the beds of verbena and
love-lies-bleeding and portulaca. Presently he
paused beside the hammock, looking down at the girl.
“I am going home to-morrow,” he said a
Madeline threw out one hand and clutched
one of the boy’s in a feverish clasp.
“No! No!” she cried. “You
mustn’t go. Please don’t, Ted.”
“I’ve got to,” stolidly.
“You know why.”
“You mean what you did just
He nodded miserably.
“That doesn’t matter. I’m not
angry. I I liked it.”
“I am afraid it does matter.
It makes a mess of everything, and it’s all
my fault. I spoiled things. I’ve got
“But you will come back?” she pleaded.
He shook his head.
“It is better not, Madeline. I’m
She snatched her hand away from his, her eyes shooting
sparks of anger.
“I hate you, Ted Holiday.
You make me care and then you go away and leave me.
You are cruel selfish. I hate you hate
Ted stared down at her, helpless,
miserable, ashamed. No man knows what to do with
a scene, especially one which his own folly has precipitated.
“Willis Hubbard is coming down
to-morrow night and if you don’t stay as you
promised I’ll go to the Swan with him. He
has been teasing me to go for ages and I wouldn’t,
but I will now, if you leave me. I’ll I’ll
Ted was worried. He did not like
the sound of the girl’s threats though he wasn’t
moved from his own purpose.
“Don’t go to the Swan
with Hubbard, Madeline. You mustn’t.”
“Why not? You took me.”
“I know I did, but that is different,”
he finished lamely.
“I don’t see anything very different,”
she retorted hotly.
Ted bit his lip. Remembering
his own recent aberration, he did not see as much
difference as he would have liked to see himself.
“I suppose you wouldn’t
have taken your kind of girl to the Swan,”
“No, I ”
It was a fatal admission. Ted
hadn’t meant to make it so bluntly, but it was
out. The damage was done.
A demon of rage possessed the girl.
Beside herself with anger she sprang to her feet and
delivered a stinging blow straight in the boy’s
face. Then, her mood changing, she fell back
into the hammock sobbing bitterly.
For a moment Ted was too much astonished
by this fish-wife exhibition of temper even to be
angry with himself. Then a hot wave of wrath and
shame surged over him. He put up his hand to his
cheek as if to brush away the indignity of the blow.
But he was honest enough to realize that maybe he
had deserved the punishment, though not for the reason
the girl had dealt it.
Looking down at her in her racked
misery, his resentment vanished and an odd impersonal
kind of pity for her possessed him instead, though
her attraction was gone forever. He could see
the scar on her forehead, and it troubled and reproached
him vaguely, seemed a symbol of a deeper wound he
had dealt her, though never meaning any harm.
He bent over her, gently.
“Forgive me, Madeline,”
he said. “I am sorry sorry for
In a moment he was gone, past the
portulaca and love-lies-bleeding, past Cousin Emma’s
unlit parlor windows, down the walk between the tiger
lilies and peonies, out into the street. And Madeline,
suddenly realizing that she was alone, rushed after
him, calling his name softly into the dark. But
only the echo of his firm, buoyant young feet came
back to her straining ears. She fled back to the
garden and, throwing herself, face down, on the dew
drenched grass, surrendered to a passion of tearless
Ted astonished his uncle, first by
coming home a whole day earlier than he had been expected
and second, by announcing his intention of seeing
Robert Caldwell and making arrangements about the tutoring
that very day. He was more than usually uncommunicative
about his house-party experiences the Doctor thought
and fancied too that just at first after his return
the boy did not meet his eyes quite frankly. But
this soon passed away and he was delighted and it
must be confessed considerably astounded too to perceive
that Ted really meant to keep his word about the studying
and settled down to genuine hard work for perhaps the
first time, in his idle, irresponsible young life.
He had been prepared to put on the screws if necessary.
There had been no need. Ted had applied his own
screws and kept at his uncongenial task with such grim
determination that it almost alarmed his family, so
contrary was his conduct to his usual light-hearted
shedding of all obligations which he could, by hook
or crook, evade.
Among other things to be noted with
relief the doctor counted the fact that there were
no more letters from Florence. Apparently that
flame which had blazed up rather brightly at first
had died down as a good many others had. Doctor
Holiday was particularly glad in this case. He
had not liked the idea of his nephew’s running
around with a girl who would be willing to go “joy-riding”
with him after midnight, and still less had he liked
the idea of his nephew’s issuing such invitations
to any kind of girl. Youth was youth and he had
never kept a very tight rein on any of Ned’s
children, believing he could trust them to run straight
in the main. Still there were things one drew
the line at for a Holiday.