Gullible's Travels, Etc.
Gullible's Travels, Etc.
By RING W. LARDNER
Author of You Know Me, Al, etc.
MAY WILSON PRESTON
THE BOBBS-MERRILL COMPANY
The Curtis Publishing Company
The Bobbs-Merrill Company
BRAUNWORTH & CO.
BROOKLYN, N. Y.
"Please see that they's some towels put in 559."
Gullible's Travels, Etc.
We was playin' rummy over to Hatch's, and Hatch must of fell in a bed offour-leaf clovers on his way home the night before, because he playsrummy like he does everything else; but this night I refer to youcouldn't beat him, and besides him havin' all the luck my Missus playedlike she'd been bought off, so when we come to settle up we was plainseven and a half out. You know who paid it. So Hatch says:
"They must be some game you can play."
"No," I says, "not and beat you. I can run two blocks w'ile you'restoopin' over to start, but if we was runnin' a foot race between eachother, and suppose I was leadin' by eighty yards, a flivver'd prob'lycome up and hit you in the back and bump you over the finishin' lineahead o' me."
So Mrs. Hatch thinks I'm sore on account o' the seven-fifty, so shesays:
"It don't seem fair for us to have all the luck."
"Sure it's fair!" I says. "If you didn't have the luck, what would youhave?"
"I know," she says; "but I don't never feel right winnin' money atcards."
"I don't blame you," I says.
"I know," she says; "but it seems like we should ought to give it backor else stand treat, either one."
"Jim's too old to change all his habits," I says.
"Oh, well," says Mrs. Hatch, "I guess if I told him to loosen up he'dloosen up. I ain't lived with him all these years for nothin'."
"You'd be a sucker if you did," I says.
So they all laughed, and when they'd quieted down Mrs. Hatch says:
"I don't suppose you'd feel like takin' the money back?"
"Not without a gun," I says. "Jim's pretty husky."
So that give them another good laugh; but finally she says:
"What do you say, Jim, to us takin' the money they lose to us andgettin' four tickets to some show?"
Jim managed to stay conscious, but he couldn't answer nothin'; so myMissus says:
"That'd be grand of you to do it, but don't think you got to."
Well, of course, Mrs. Hatch knowed all the w'ile she didn't have to, butfrom what my Missus says she could tell that if they really give us theinvitation we wouldn't start no fight. So they talked it over betweenthemself w'ile I and Hatch went out in the kitchen and split a pint o'beer, and Hatch done the pourin' and his best friend couldn't say hegive himself the worst of it. So when we come back my Missus and Mrs.Hatch had it all framed that the Hatches was goin' to take us to a show,and the next thing was what show would it be. So Hatch found theafternoon paper, that somebody'd left on the street-car, and read us offa list o' the shows that was in town. I spoke for the Columbia, but theMissus give me the sign to stay out; so they argued back and forth andfinally Mrs. Hatch says:
"Let's see that paper a minute."
"What for?" says Hatch. "I didn't hold nothin' out on you."
But he give her the paper and she run through the list herself, and thenshe says:
"You did, too, hold out on us. You didn't say nothin' about theAuditorium."
"What could I say about it?" says Hatch. "I never was inside."
"It's time you was then," says Mrs. Hatch.
"What's playin' there?" I says.
"Grand op'ra," says Mrs. Hatch.
"Oh!" says my Missus. "Wouldn't that be wonderful?"
"What do you say?" says Mrs. Hatch to me.
"I think it'd be grand for you girls," I says. "I and Jim could leaveyou there and go down on Madison and see Charley Chaplin, and then comeback after you."
"Nothin' doin'!" says Mrs. Hatch. "We'll pick a show that everybodywants to see."
Well, if I hadn't of looked at my Missus then we'd of been O. K. But myeyes happened to light on where she was settin' and she was chewin' herlips so's she wouldn't cry. That finished me. "I was just kiddin'," Isays to Mrs. Hatch. "They ain't nothin' I'd like better than grandop'ra."
"Nothin' except gettin' trimmed in a rummy game," says Hatch, but hedidn't get no rise.
Well, the Missus let loose of her lips so's she could smile and her andMrs. Hatch got all excited, and I and Hatch pretended like we wasexcited too. So Hatch ast what night could we go, and Mrs. Hatch saysthat depended on what did we want to hear, because they changed the billevery day. So her and the Missus looked at the paper again and found outwhere Friday night was goin' to be a big special night and the bill wasa musical show called Carmen, and all the stars was goin' to sing,includin' Mooratory and Alda and Genevieve Farr'r, that was in themovies a w'ile till they found out she could sing, and some fella theycalled Daddy, but I don't know his real name. So the girls both saysFriday night was the best, but Hatch says he would have to go to lodgethat evenin'.
"Lodge!" says Mrs. Hatch. "What do you care about lodge when you got achance to see Genevieve Farr'r in Carmen?"
"Chance!" says Hatch. "If that's what you call a chance, I got a chanceto buy a thousand shares o' Bethlehem Steel. Who's goin' to pay for mychance?"
"All right," says Mrs. Hatch, "go to your old lodge and spoileverything!"
So this time it was her that choked up and made like she was goin' toblubber. So Hatch changed his mind all of a sudden and decided todisappoint the brother Owls. So all of us was satisfied except fifty percent., and I and the Missus beat it home, and on the way she says hownice Mrs. Hatch was to give us this treat.
"Yes," I says, "but if you hadn't of had a regular epidemic o'discardin' deuces and treys Hatch would of treated us to groceries for aweek." I says: "I always thought they was only twelve pitcher cards inthe deck till I seen them hands you saved up to-night."
"You lose as much as I did," she says.
"Yes," I says, "and I always will as long as you forget to fetch yourpurse along."
So they wasn't no come-back to that, so we went on home without no moredialogue.
Well, Mrs. Hatch called up the next night and says Jim had the ticketsboughten and we was to be sure and be ready at seven o'clock Fridaynight because the show started at eight. So when I was down-town Fridaythe Missus sent my evenin' dress suit over to Katzes' and had it pressedup and when I come home it was laid out on the bed like a corpse.
"What's that for?" I says.
"For the op'ra," she says. "Everybody wears them to the op'ra."
"Did you ask the Hatches what was they goin' to wear?" I says.
"No," says she. "They know what to wear without me tellin' them. Theyain't goin' to the Auditorium in their nightgown."
So I clumb into the soup and fish, and the Missus spent about a hourputtin' on a dress that she could have left off without nobody knowin'the difference, and she didn't have time for no supper at all, and Ijust managed to surround a piece o' steak as big as your eye and spillsome gravy on my clo'es when the bell rung and there was the Hatches.
Well, Hatch didn't have no more evenin' dress suit on than a kewpie. Icould see his pants under his overcoat and they was the same old baypants he'd wore the day he got mad at his kid and christened himKenneth. And his shoes was a last year's edition o' the kind that'ssupposed to give your feet a chance, and if his feet had of been thekind that takes chances they was two or three places where they could ofgot away without much trouble.
I could tell from the expression on Mrs. Hatch's face when she seen ourmake-up that we'd crossed her. She looked about as comf'table as aBelgium.
"Oh!" she says. "I didn't think you'd dress up."
"We thought you would," says my Frau.
"We!" I says. "Where do you get that 'we'?"
"If it ain't too late we'll run in and change," says my Missus.
"Not me," I says. "I didn't go to all this trouble and expense for asplash o' gravy. When this here uniform retires it'll be to make roomfor pyjamas."
"Come on!" says Hatch. "What's the difference? You can pretend like youain't with us."
"It don't really make no difference," says Mrs. Hatch.
And maybe it didn't. But we all stood within whisperin' distance of eachother on the car goin' in, and if you had a dollar for every word thatwas talked among us you couldn't mail a postcard from Hammond to Gary.When we got off at Congress my Missus tried to thaw out the party.
"The prices is awful high, aren't they?" she says.
"Outrageous," says Mrs. Hatch.
Well, even if the prices was awful high, they didn't have nothin' on ourseats. If I was in trainin' to be a steeple jack I'd go to grand op'raevery night and leave Hatch buy my ticket. And where he took us I'd ofbeen more at home in overalls and a sport shirt.
"How do you like Denver?" says I to the Missus, but she'd sank for thethird time.
"We're safe here," I says to Hatch. "Them French guns can't never reachus. We'd ought to brought more bumbs."
"What did the seats cost?" I says to Hatch.
"One-fifty," he says.
"Very reasonable," says I. "One o' them aviators wouldn't take you morethan half this height for a five-spot."
The Hatches had their overcoats off by this time and I got a look attheir full costume. Hatch had went without his vest durin' the hotmonths and when it was alongside his coat and pants it looked like twodifferent families. He had a pink shirt with prune-colored horizontalbars, and a tie to match his neck, and a collar that would of took careof him and I both, and them shoes I told you about, and burlap hosiery.They wasn't nothin' the matter with Mrs. Hatch except she must ofthought that, instead o' dressin' for the op'ra, she was gettin' readyfor Kenneth's bath.
And there was my Missus, just within the law, and me all spicked andspanned with my soup and fish and gravy!
Well, we all set there and tried to get the focus till about a half-hourafter the show was billed to commence, and finally a Lilliputhian with amatch in his hand come out and started up the orchestry and they playeda few o' the hits and then the lights was turned out and up went thecurtain.
Well, sir, you'd be surprised at how good we could hear and see after wegot used to it. But the hearin' didn't do us no good—that is, the wordspart of it. All the actors had been smuggled in from Europe and theywasn't none o' them that could talk English. So all their songs was gavein different languages and I wouldn't of never knew what was goin' ononly for Hatch havin' all the nerve in the world.
After the first act a lady that was settin' in front of us droppedsomethin' and Hatch stooped over and picked it up, and it was one o'these here books they call a liberetto, and it's got all the wordsthey're singin' on the stage wrote out in English.
So the lady begin lookin' all over for it and Hatch was goin' to give itback because he thought it was a shoe catalogue, but he happened to seeat the top of it where it says "Price 25 Cents," so he tossed it in hislap and stuck his hat over