Click here to Download The Flirt PDF Book by Booth Tarkington Language English having PDF Size 2.1 MB and No of Pages 147.
Valentine Corliss walked up Corliss Street the hottest afternoon of that hot August, a year ago, wearing a suit of white serge which attracted a little attention from those observers who were able to observe anything except the heat. The coat was shaped delicately; it outlined the wearer, and, fitting him as women’s clothes fit women, suggested an effeminacy not an attribute of the tall Corliss.
The Flirt PDF Book by Booth Tarkington
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The effeminacy belonged all to the tailor, an artist plying far from Corliss Street, for the coat would have encountered a hundred of its fellows at Trouville or Ostende this very day. Corliss Street is the Avenue du Bois de Boulogne, the Park Lane, the Fifth Avenue, of Capitol City, that smoky illuminant of our great central levels, but although it esteems itself an established cosmopolitan thoroughfare.
It is still provincial enough to be watchful; and even in its torrid languor took some note of the alien garment. Mr. Corliss, treading for the first time in seventeen years the pavements of this namesake of his grandfather, mildly repaid its interest in himself. The street, once the most peaceful in the world, he thought, had changed.
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It was still long and straight, still shaded by trees so noble that they were betrothed, here and there, high over the wide white roadway, the shimmering tunnels thus contrived shot with gold and blue; but its pristine complete restfulness was departed: gasoline had arrived, and a pedestrian, even this August day of heat, must glance two ways before crossing.
Architectural transformations, as vital, staggered the returned native. In his boyhood that posthumously libelled sovereign lady, Anne, had terribly prevailed among the dwellings on this highway; now, however, there was little left of the jig-saw’s hare-brained ministrations; but the growing pains of the adolescent city had wrought some madness here.
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There had been a revolution which was a riot; and, plainly incited by a new outbreak of the colonies, the Goth, the Tudor, and the Tuscan had harried the upper reaches to a turmoil attaining its climax in a howl or two from the Spanish Moor. Yet it was a pleasant street in spite of its improvements; in spite, too, of a long.
Gray smokeplume crossing the summer sky and dropping an occasional atomy of coal upon Mr. Corliss’s white coat. The green continuous masses of tree-foliage, lawn, and shrubbery were splendidly asserted; there was a faint wholesome odour from the fine block pavement of the roadway, white, save where the snailish water-wagon laid its long strips of steaming brown.
Locusts, serenaders of the heat, invisible among the branches, rasped their interminable cadences, competing bitterly with the monotonous chattering of lawn-mowers propelled by glistening black men over the level swards beneath. And though porch and terrace were left to vacant wicker chairs and swinging-seats, and to flowers and plants in jars and green boxes. The Flirt PDF Book
And the people sat unseen—and, it might be guessed, unclad for exhibition, in the dimmer recesses of their houses—nevertheless, a summery girl under an alluring parasol now and then prettily trod the sidewalks, and did not altogether suppress an ample consciousness of the white pedestrian’s stalwart grace.
Nor was his quick glance too distressingly modest to be aware of these faint but attractive perturbations. A few of the oldest houses remained as he remembered them, and there were two or three relics of mansard and cupola days; but the herd of cast-iron deer that once guarded these lawns, standing sentinel to all true gentry: Whither were they fled?
In his boyhood, one specimen betokened a family of position and affluence; two, one on each side of the front walk, spoke of a noble opulence; two and a fountain were overwhelming. He wondered in what obscure thickets that once proud herd now grazed; and then he smiled, as through a leafy opening of shrubbery he caught a glimpse of a last survivor, still loyally alert. The Flirt PDF Book
The haughty head thrown back in everlasting challenge and one foreleg lifted, standing in a vast and shadowy backyard with a clothesline fastened to its antlers. Mr. Corliss remembered that backyard very well: it was an old battlefield whereon he had conquered; and he wondered if “the Lindley boys” still lived there, and if Richard Lindley would hate him now as implacably as then.
A hundred yards farther on, he paused before a house more familiar to him than any other, and gave it a moment’s whimsical attention, without emotion. It was a shabby old brick structure, and it stood among the gayest, the most flamboyant dwellings of all Corliss Street like a bewildered tramp surrounded by carnival maskers.
It held place full in the course of the fury for demolition and rebuilding, but remained unaltered— even unrepaired, one might have thought—since the early seventies, when it was built. There was a sagging cornice, and the nauseous brown which the walls had years ago been painted was sooted to a repellent dinge, so cracked and peeled that the haggard red bricks were exposed. The Flirt PDF Book
Like a beggar through the holes in his coat. It was one of those houses which are large without being commodious; its very tall, very narrow windows, with their attenuated, rusty inside shutters, boasting to the passerby of high ceilings but betraying the miserly floor spaces. At each side of the front door was a high and cramped bay-window, one of them insanely culminating in a little six-sided tower of slate.
And both of them girdled above the basement windows by a narrow porch, which ran across the front of the house and gave access to the shallow vestibule. However, a pleasant circumstance modified the gloom of this edifice and assured it a remnant of reserve and dignity in its ill-considered old age.
It stood back a fine hundred feet from the highway, and was shielded in part by a friendly group of maple trees and one glorious elm, hoary, robust, and majestic, a veteran of the days when this was forest ground. Laura and Richard walked in the unmitigated glare of the sun; he had taken her black umbrella and conscientiously held it aloft, but over nobody. The Flirt PDF Book
They walked in silence: they were quiet people, both of them; and Richard, not “talkative” under any circumstances, never had anything whatever to say to Laura Madison. He had known her for many years, ever since her childhood; seldom indeed formulating or expressing a definite thought about her.
Though sometimes it was vaguely of his consciousness that she played the piano nicely, and even then her music had taken its place as but a colour of Cora’s background. For to him, as to every one else (including Laura), Laura was in nothing her sister’s competitor. She was a neutraltinted figure, taken-for-granted, obscured, and so near being nobody at all.
That, as Richard Lindley walked beside her this morning, he glanced back at the lagging couple and uttered a long and almost sonorous sigh, which he would have been ashamed for anybody to hear; and then actually proceeded on his way without the slightest realization that anybody had heard it. She understood. The Flirt PDF Book Download
And she did not disturb the trance; she did nothing to make him observe that she was there. She walked on with head, shoulders, and back scorching in the fierce sun, and allowed him to continue shading the pavement before them with her umbrella. When they reached the house she gently took the umbrella from him and thanked him; and he mechanically raised his hat.
Mr. Trumble’s offices were heralded by a neat blazon upon the principal door, “Wade J. Trumble, Mortgages and Loans”; and the gentleman thus comfortably, proclaimed, emerging from that door upon a September noontide, burlesqued a start of surprise at sight of a figure unlocking an opposite door which exhibited the name, “Ray Vilas,” and below it, the cryptic phrase, “Probate Law.”
“Water!” murmured Mr. Trumble, affecting to faint. “You ain’t going in there, are you, Ray?” He followed the other into the office, and stood leaning against a bookcase, with his hands in his pockets, while Vilas raised the two windows, which were obscured by a film of smoke-deposit: there was a thin coat of fine sifted dust over everything. The Flirt PDF Book Download
“Better not sit down, Ray,” continued Trumble, warningly. “You’ll spoil your clothes and you might get a client. That word `Probate’ on the door ain’t going to keep ’em out forever. You recognize the old place, I s’pose? You must have been here at least twice since you moved in. What’s the matter? Dick Lindley hasn’t missionaried you into any idea of working, has he?
Oh, no, I see: the Richfield Hotel bar has closed—you’ve managed to drink it all at last!” “Have you heard how old man Madison is to-day?” asked Ray, dusting his fingers with a handkerchief. At the dance, the two girls, attended up the stairway to the ballroom by a chattering covey of black-coats, made a sensational entrance to a gallant fanfare of music.
An effect which may have been timed to the premonitory tuning of instruments heard during the ascent; at all events, it was a great success; and Cora, standing revealed under the wide gilt archway, might have been a lithe and shining figure from the year eighteen-hundred-and-one, about to dance at the Luxembourg. The Flirt PDF Book Download
She placed her hand upon the sleeve of Richard Lindley, and, glancing intelligently over his shoulder into the eyes of Valentine Corliss, glided rhythmically away. People looked at her; they always did. Not only the non-dancers watched her; eyes everywhere were upon her, even though the owners gyrated, glided and dipped on distant orbits.
The other girls watched her, as a rule, with a profound, an almost passionate curiosity; and they were prompt to speak well of her to men, except in trustworthy intimacy, because they did not enjoy being wrongfully thought jealous. Many of them kept somewhat aloof from her; but none of them ever nowadays showed “superiority” in her presence, or snubbed her.
That had been tried and proved disastrous in rebound. Cora never failed to pay her score—and with a terrifying interest added, her native tendency being to take two eyes for an eye and the whole jaw for a tooth. They let her alone, though they asked and asked among themselves the never-monotonous question: “Why do men fall in love with girls like that?” The Flirt PDF Book Download
A riddle which, solved, makes wives condescending to their husbands. Most of the people at this dance had known one another as friends, or antagonists, or indifferent acquaintances, for years, and in such an assembly there are always two worlds, that of the women and that of the men.
Each has its own vision, radically different from that of the other; but the greatest difference is that the men are unaware of the other world, only a few of them—usually queer ones like Ray Vilas—vaguely perceiving that there are two visions, while all the women understand both perfectly.
The men splash about on the surface; the women keep their eyes open under water. Or, the life of the assembly is like a bright tapestry: the men take it as a picture and are not troubled to know how it is produced; but women are weavers. There was a Beauty of far-flung renown at Mrs. Villard’s to-night. The Flirt PDF Book Free
Mary Kane, a creature so made and coloured that young men at sight of her became as water and older men were apt to wonder regretfully why all women could not have been made like Mary. She was a kindly soul, and never intentionally outshone her sisters; but the perfect sumptuousness of her had sometimes tried the amiability of Cora Madison.
To whom such success without effort and without spark seemed unfair, as well as bovine. Miss Kane was a central figure at the dance, shining tranquilly in a new triumph: that day her engagement had been announced to Mr. George Wattling, a young man of no special attainments, but desirable in his possessions and suitable to his happiness.
The pair radiated the pardonable, gay importance of newly engaged people, and Cora, who had never before bestowed any notice upon Mr. Wattling, now examined him with thoughtful attention. “He did, however. By manner and in speech I purposely and deliberately insulted him. You’ll tell him every word of this, of course, and he’ll laugh at it, but I give myself the pleasure of telling you. The Flirt PDF Book Free
I put the proposition of an `investment’ to him in a way nobody not a crook would have allowed to be smoothed over—and he allowed it to be smoothed over. He ate it! I felt he was a swindler when he was showing Richard Lindley his maps and papers, and now I’ve proved it to myself, and it’s worth the price.”
Often, when they had danced, and often during this interview, his eyes lifted curiously to the white flaming crescent in her hair; now they fixed themselves upon it, and in a flash of divination he cried: “You wear it for me!” She did not understand. “Finished raving?” she inquired. “I gave Corliss a thousand dollars,” he said, slowly.
“Considering the fact that it was my last, I flatter myself it was not unhandsomely done—though I may never need it. It has struck me that the sum was about what a man who had just cleaned up fifty thousand might regard as a sort of `extra’—`for lagniappe’—and that he might have thought it an appropriate amount to invest in a present some jewels perhaps—to place in the hair of a pretty friend!” She sprang to her feet, furious, but he stood in front of her and was able to bar the way for a moment. The Flirt PDF Book Free