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   Chapter 19 REGGIE COMES TO LIFE

Indiscretions of Archie By P. G. Wodehouse Characters: 29337

Updated: 2017-11-29 00:04


The advantage of having plenty of time on one's hands is that one has leisure to attend to the affairs of all one's circle of friends; and Archie, assiduously as he watched over the destinies of the Sausage Chappie, did not neglect the romantic needs of his brother-in-law Bill. A few days later, Lucille, returning one morning to their mutual suite, found her husband seated in an upright chair at the table, an unusually stern expression on his amiable face. A large cigar was in the corner of his mouth. The fingers of one hand rested in the armhole of his waistcoat: with the other hand he tapped menacingly on the table.

As she gazed upon him, wondering what could be the matter with him, Lucille was suddenly aware of Bill's presence. He had emerged sharply from the bedroom and was walking briskly across the floor. He came to a halt in front of the table.

"Father!" said Bill.

Archie looked up sharply, frowning heavily over his cigar.

"Well, my boy," he said in a strange, rasping voice. "What is it? Speak up, my boy, speak up! Why the devil can't you speak up? This is my busy day!"

"What on earth are you doing?" asked Lucille.

Archie waved her away with the large gesture of a man of blood and iron interrupted while concentrating.

"Leave us, woman! We would be alone! Retire into the jolly old background and amuse yourself for a bit. Read a book. Do acrostics. Charge ahead, laddie."

"Father!" said Bill, again.

"Yes, my boy, yes? What is it?"

"Father!"

Archie picked up the red-covered volume that lay on the table.

"Half a mo', old son. Sorry to stop you, but I knew there was something. I've just remembered. Your walk. All wrong!"

"All wrong?"

"All wrong! Where's the chapter on the Art. of Walking? Here we are. Listen, dear old soul. Drink this in. 'In walking, one should strive to acquire that swinging, easy movement from the hips. The correctly-poised walker seems to float along, as it were.' Now, old bean, you didn't float a dam' bit. You just galloped in like a chappie charging into a railway restaurant for a bowl of soup when his train leaves in two minutes. Dashed important, this walking business, you know. Get started wrong, and where are you? Try it again.... Much better." He turned to Lucille. "Notice him float along that time? Absolutely skimmed, what?"

Lucille had taken a seat,-and was waiting for enlightenment.

"Are you and Bill going into vaudeville?" she asked.

Archie, scrutinising-his-brother-in-law closely, had further criticism to make.

"'The man of self-respect and self-confidence,'" he read, "'stands erect in an easy, natural, graceful attitude. Heels not too far apart, head erect, eyes to the front with a level gaze'-get your gaze level, old thing!-'shoulders thrown back, arms hanging naturally at the sides when not otherwise employed'-that means that, if he tries to hit you, it's all right to guard-'chest expanded naturally, and abdomen'-this is no place for you, Lucille. Leg it out of earshot-'ab-what I said before-drawn in somewhat and above all not protruded.' Now, have you got all that? Yes, you look all right. Carry on, laddie, carry on. Let's have two-penn'orth of the Dynamic Voice and the Tone of Authority-some of the full, rich, round stuff we hear so much about!"

Bill fastened a gimlet eye upon his brother-in-law and drew a deep breath.

"Father!" he said. "Father!"

"You'll have to brighten up Bill's dialogue a lot," said Lucille, critically, "or you will never get bookings."

"Father!"

"I mean, it's all right as far as it goes, but it's sort of monotonous. Besides, one of you ought to be asking questions and the other answering. Bill ought to be saying, 'Who was that lady I saw you coming down the street with?' so that you would be able to say, 'That wasn't a lady. That was my wife.' I KNOW! I've been to lots of vaudeville shows."

Bill relaxed his attitude. He deflated his chest, spread his heels, and ceased to draw in his abdomen.

"We'd better try this another time, when we're alone," he said, frigidly. "I can't do myself justice."

"Why do you want to do yourself justice?" asked Lucille.

"Right-o!" said Archie, affably, casting off his forbidding expression like a garment. "Rehearsal postponed. I was just putting old Bill through it," he explained, "with a view to getting him into mid-season form for the jolly old pater."

"Oh!" Lucille's voice was the voice of one who sees light in darkness. "When Bill walked in like a cat on hot bricks and stood there looking stuffed, that was just the Personality That Wins!"

"That was it."

"Well, you couldn't blame me for not recognising it, could you?"

Archie patted her head paternally.

"A little less of the caustic critic stuff," he said. "Bill will be all right on the night. If you hadn't come in then and put him off his stroke, he'd have shot out some amazing stuff, full of authority and dynamic accents and what not. I tell you, light of my soul, old Bill is all right! He's got the winning personality up a tree, ready whenever he wants to go and get it. Speaking as his backer and trainer, I think he'll twist your father round his little finger. Absolutely! It wouldn't surprise me if at the end of five minutes the good old dad started pumping through hoops and sitting up for lumps of sugar."

"It would surprise ME."

"Ah, that's because you haven't seen old Bill in action. You crabbed his act before he had begun to spread himself."

"It isn't that at all. The reason why I think that Bill, however winning his personality may be, won't persuade father to let him marry a girl in the chorus is something that happened last night."

"Last night?"

"Well, at three o'clock this morning. It's on the front page of the early editions of the evening papers. I brought one in for you to see, only you were so busy. Look! There it is!"

Archie seized the paper.

"Oh, Great Scot!"

"What is it?" asked Bill, irritably. "Don't stand goggling there! What the devil is it?"

"Listen to this, old thing!"

REVELRY BY NIGHT.

SPIRITED BATTLE ROYAL AT HOTEL

COSMOPOLIS.

THE HOTEL DETECTIVE HAD A GOOD HEART

BUT PAULINE PACKED THE PUNCH.

The logical contender for Jack Dempsey's championship honours has been discovered; and, in an age where women are stealing men's jobs all the time, it will not come as a surprise to our readers to learn that she belongs to the sex that is more deadly than the male. Her name is Miss Pauline Preston, and her wallop is vouched for under oath-under many oaths-by Mr. Timothy O'Neill, known to his intimates as Pie-Face, who holds down the arduous job of detective at the Hotel Cosmopolis.

At three o'clock this morning, Mr. O'Neill was advised by the night-clerk that the occupants of every room within earshot of number 618 had 'phoned the desk to complain of a disturbance, a noise, a vocal uproar proceeding from the room mentioned. Thither, therefore, marched Mr. O'Neill, his face full of cheese-sandwich, (for he had been indulging in an early breakfast or a late supper) and his heart of devotion to duty. He found there the Misses Pauline Preston and "Bobbie" St. Clair, of the personnel of the chorus of the Frivolities, entertaining a few friends of either sex. A pleasant time was being had by all, and at the moment of Mr. O'Neill's entry the entire strength of the company was rendering with considerable emphasis that touching ballad, "There's a Place For Me In Heaven, For My Baby-Boy Is There."

The able and efficient officer at once suggested that there was a place for them in the street and the patrol-wagon was there; and, being a man of action as well as words, proceeded to gather up an armful of assorted guests as a preliminary to a personally-conducted tour onto the cold night. It was at this point that Miss Preston stepped into the limelight. Mr. O'Neill contends that she hit him with a brick, an iron casing, and the Singer Building. Be that as it may, her efforts were sufficiently able to induce him to retire for reinforcements, which, arriving, arrested the supper-party regardless of age or sex.

At the police-court this morning Miss Preston maintained that she and her friends were merely having a quiet home-evening and that Mr. O'Neill was no gentleman. The male guests gave their names respectively as Woodrow Wilson, David Lloyd-George, and William J. Bryan. These, however, are believed to be incorrect. But the moral is, if you want excitement rather than sleep, stay at the Hotel Cosmopolis.

Bill may have quaked inwardly as he listened to this epic but outwardly he was unmoved.

"Well," he said, "what about it?"

"What about it!" said Lucille.

"What about it!" said Archie. "Why, my dear old friend, it simply means that all the time we've been putting in making your personality winning has been chucked away. Absolutely a dead loss! We might just as well have read a manual on how to knit sweaters."

"I don't see it," maintained Bill, stoutly.

Lucille turned apologetically to her husband.

"You mustn't judge me by him, Archie, darling. This sort of thing doesn't run in the family.-We are supposed to be rather bright on the whole. But poor Bill was dropped by his nurse when he was a baby, and fell on his head."

"I suppose what you're driving at," said the goaded Bill, "is that what has happened will make father pretty sore against girls who happen to be in the chorus?"

"That's absolutely it, old thing, I'm sorry to say. The next person who mentions the word chorus-girl in the jolly old governor's presence is going to take his life in his hands. I tell you, as one man to another, that I'd much rather be back in France hopping over the top than do it myself."

"What darned nonsense! Mabel may be in the chorus, but she isn't like those girls."

"Poor old Bill!" said Lucille. "I'm awfully sorry, but it's no use not facing facts. You know perfectly well that the reputation of the hotel is the thing father cares more about than anything else in the world, and that this is going to make him furious with all the chorus-girls in creation. It's no good trying to explain to him that your Mabel is in the chorus but not of the chorus, so to speak."

"Deuced well put!" said Archie, approvingly. "You're absolutely right. A chorus-girl by the river's brim, so to speak, a simple chorus-girl is to him, as it were, and she is nothing more, if you know what I mean."

"So now," said Lucille, "having shown you that the imbecile scheme which you concocted with my poor well-meaning husband is no good at all, I will bring you words of cheer. Your own original plan-of getting your Mabel a part in a comedy-was always the best one. And you can do it. I wouldn't have broken the bad news so abruptly if I hadn't had some consolation to give you afterwards. I met Reggie van Tuyl just now, wandering about as if the cares of the world were on his shoulders, and he told me that he was putting up most of the money for a new play that's going into rehearsal right away. Reggie's an old friend of yours. All you have to do is to go to him and ask him to use his influence to get your Mabel a small part. There's sure to be a maid or something with only a line or two that won't matter."

"A ripe scheme!" said Archie. "Very sound and fruity!"

The cloud did not lift from Bill's corrugated brow.

"That's all very well," he said. "But you know what a talker Reggie is. He's an obliging sort of chump, but his tongue's fastened on at the middle and waggles at both ends. I don't want the whole of New York to know about my engagement, and have somebody spilling the news to father, before I'm ready."

"That's all right," said Lucille. "Archie can speak to him. There's no need for him to mention your name at all. He can just say there's a girl he wants to get a part for. You would do it, wouldn't you, angel-face?"

"Like a bird, queen of my soul."

"Then that's splendid. You'd better give Archie that photograph of Mabel to give to Reggie, Bill."

"Photograph?" said Bill. "Which photograph? I have twenty-four!"

Archie found Reggie van Tuyl brooding in a window of his club that looked over Fifth Avenue. Reggie was a rather melancholy young man who suffered from elephantiasis of the bank-roll and the other evils that arise from that complaint. Gentle and sentimental by nature, his sensibilities had been much wounded by contact with a sordid world; and the thing that had first endeared Archie to him was the fact that the latter, though chronically hard-up, had never made any attempt to borrow money from him. Reggie would have parted with it on demand, but it had delighted him to find that Archie seemed to take a pleasure in his society without having any ulterior motives. He was fond of Archie, and also of Lucille; and their happy marriage was a constant source of gratification to him.

For Reggie was a sentimentalist. He would have liked to live in a world of ideally united couples, himself ideally united to some charming and affectionate girl. But, as a matter of cold fact, he was a bachelor, and most of the couples he knew were veterans of several divorces. In Reggie's circle, therefore, the home-life of Archie and Lucille shone like a good deed in a naughty world. It inspired him. In moments of depression it restored his waning faith in human nature.

Consequently, when Archie, having greeted him and slipped into a chair at his side, suddenly produced from his inside pocket the photograph of an extremely pretty girl and asked him to get her a small part in the play which he was financing, he was shocked and disappointed. He was in a more than usually sentimental mood that afternoon, and had, indeed, at the moment of Archie's arrival, been dreaming wistfully of soft arms clasped snugly about his collar and the patter of little feet and all that sort of thing.-He gazed reproachfully at Archie.

"Archie!" his voice quivered with emotion. "Is it worth it?, is it worth it, old man?-Think of the poor little woman at home!"

Archie was puzzled.

"Eh, old top? Which poor little woman?"

"Think of her trust in you, her faith-".

"I don't absolutely get you, old bean."

"What would Lucille say if she knew about this?"

"Oh, she does. She knows all about it."

"Good heavens!" cried Reggie.-He was shocked to the core of his being.-One of the articles of his faith was, that the union of Lucille and Archie was different from those loose partnerships which were the custom in his world.-He had not been conscious of such a poignant feeling that the foundations of the universe were cracked an

d tottering and that there was no light and sweetness in life since the morning, eighteen months back, when a negligent valet had sent him out into Fifth Avenue with only one spat on.

"It was Lucille's idea," explained Archie. He was about to mention his brother-in-law's connection with the matter, but checked himself in time, remembering Bill's specific objection to having his secret revealed to Reggie. "It's like this, old thing, I've never met this female, but she's a pal of Lucille's"-he comforted his conscience by the reflection that, if she wasn't now, she would be in a few days-"and Lucille wants to do her a bit of good. She's been on the stage in England, you know, supporting a jolly old widowed mother and educating a little brother and all that kind and species of rot, you understand, and now she's coming over to America, and Lucille wants you to rally round and shove her into your show and generally keep the home fires burning and so forth. How do we go?"

Reggie beamed with relief. He felt just as he had felt on that other occasion at the moment when a taxi-cab had rolled up and enabled him to hide his spatless leg from the public gaze.

"Oh, I see!" he said. "Why, delighted, old man, quite delighted!"

"Any small part would do. Isn't there a maid or something in your bob's-worth of refined entertainment who drifts about saying, 'Yes, madam,' and all that sort of thing? Well, then that's just the thing. Topping! I knew I could rely on you, old bird. I'll get Lucille to ship her round to your address when she arrives. I fancy she's due to totter in somewhere in the next few days. Well, I must be popping. Toodle-oo!"

"Pip-pip!" said Reggie.

It was about a week later that Lucille came into the suite at the

Hotel Cosmopolis that was her home, and found Archie lying on the couch,

smoking a refreshing pipe after the labours of the day. It seemed to

Archie that his wife was not in her usual cheerful frame of mind. He

kissed her, and, having relieved her of her parasol, endeavoured without

success to balance it on his chin. Having picked it up from the floor

and placed it on the table, he became aware that Lucille was looking at

him in a despondent sort of way. Her grey eyes were clouded.

"Halloa, old thing," said Archie. "What's up?"

Lucille sighed wearily.

"Archie, darling, do you know any really good swear-words?"

"Well," said Archie, reflectively, "let me see. I did pick up a few tolerably ripe and breezy expressions out in France. All through my military career there was something about me-some subtle magnetism, don't you know, and that sort of thing-that seemed to make colonels and blighters of that order rather inventive. I sort of inspired them, don't you know. I remember one brass-hat addressing me for quite ten minutes, saying something new all the time. And even then he seemed to think he had only touched the fringe of the subject. As a matter of fact, he said straight out in the most frank and confiding way that mere words couldn't do justice to me. But why?"

"Because I want to relieve my feelings."

"Anything wrong?"

"Everything's wrong. I've just been having tea with Bill and his Mabel."

"Oh, ah!" said Archie, interested. "And what's the verdict?"

"Guilty!" said Lucille. "And the sentence, if I had anything to do with it, would be transportation for life." She peeled off her gloves irritably. "What fools men are! Not you, precious! You're the only man in the world that isn't, it seems to me. You did marry a nice girl, didn't you? YOU didn't go running round after females with crimson hair, goggling at them with your eyes popping out of your head like a bulldog waiting for a bone."

"Oh, I say! Does old Bill look like that?"

"Worse!"

Archie rose to a point of order.

"But one moment, old lady. You speak of crimson hair. Surely old Bill-in the extremely jolly monologues he used to deliver whenever I didn't see him coming and he got me alone-used to allude to her hair as brown."

"It isn't brown now. It's bright scarlet. Good gracious, I ought to know. I've been looking at it all the afternoon. It dazzled me. If I've got to meet her again, I mean to go to the oculist's and get a pair of those smoked glasses you wear at Palm Beach." Lucille brooded silently for a while over the tragedy. "I don't want to say anything against her, of course."

"No, no, of course not."

"But of all the awful, second-rate girls I ever met, she's the worst! She has vermilion hair and an imitation Oxford manner. She's so horribly refined that it's dreadful to listen to her. She's a sly, creepy, slinky, made-up, insincere vampire! She's common! She's awful! She's a cat!"

"You're quite right not to say anything against her," said Archie, approvingly. "It begins to look," he went on, "as if the good old pater was about due for another shock. He has a hard life!"

"If Bill DARES to introduce that girl to Father, he's taking his life in his hands."

"But surely that was the idea-the scheme-the wheeze, wasn't it? Or do you think there's any chance of his weakening?"

"Weakening! You should have seen him looking at her! It was like a small boy flattening his nose against the window of a candy-store."

"Bit thick!"

Lucille kicked the leg of the table.

"And to think," she said, "that, when I was a little girl, I used to

look up to Bill as a monument of wisdom. I used to hug his knees and

gaze into his face and wonder how anyone could be so magnificent." She

gave the unoffending table another kick. "If I could have looked into

the future," she said, with feeling, "I'd have bitten him in the ankle!"

In the days which followed, Archie found himself a little out of

touch with Bill and his romance. Lucille referred to the matter only

when he brought the subject up, and made it plain that the topic of

her future sister-in-law was not one which she enjoyed discussing. Mr.

Brewster, senior, when Archie, by way of delicately preparing his mind

for what was about to befall, asked him if he liked red hair, called him

a fool, and told him to go away and bother someone else when they were

busy. The only person who could have kept him thoroughly abreast of the

trend of affairs was Bill himself; and experience had made Archie wary

in the matter of meeting Bill. The position of confidant to a young man

in the early stages of love is no sinecure, and it made Archie sleepy

even to think of having to talk to his brother-in-law. He sedulously

avoided his love-lorn relative, and it was with a sinking feeling

one day that, looking over his shoulder as he sat in the Cosmopolis

grill-room preparatory to ordering lunch, he perceived Bill bearing down

upon him, obviously resolved upon joining his meal.

To his surprise, however, Bill did not instantly embark upon his usual monologue. Indeed, he hardly spoke at all. He champed a chop, and seemed to Archie to avoid his eye. It was not till lunch was over and they were smoking that he unburdened himself.

"Archie!" he said.

"Hallo, old thing!" said Archie. "Still there? I thought you'd died or something. Talk about our old pals, Tongue-tied Thomas and Silent Sammy! You could beat 'em both on the same evening."

"It's enough to make me silent."

"What is?"

Bill had relapsed into a sort of waking dream. He sat frowning sombrely, lost to the world. Archie, having waited what seemed to him a sufficient length of time for an answer to his question, bent forward and touched his brother-in-law's hand gently with the lighted end of his cigar. Bill came to himself with a howl.

"What is?" said Archie.

"What is what?" said Bill.

"Now listen, old thing," protested Archie. "Life is short and time is flying. Suppose we cut out the cross-talk. You hinted there was something on your mind-something worrying the old bean-and I'm waiting to hear what it is."

Bill fiddled a moment with his coffee-spoon.

"I'm in an awful hole," he said at last.

"What's the trouble?"

"It's about that darned girl!"

Archie blinked.

"What!"

"That darned girl!"

Archie could scarcely credit his senses. He had been prepared-indeed, he had steeled himself-to hear Bill allude to his affinity in a number of ways. But "that darned girl" was not one of them.

"Companion of my riper years," he said, "let's get this thing straight. When you say 'that darned girl,' do you by any possibility allude to-?"

"Of course I do!"

"But, William, old bird-"

"Oh, I know, I know, I know!" said Bill, irritably. "You're surprised to hear me talk like that about her?"

"A trifle, yes. Possibly a trifle. When last heard from, laddie, you must recollect, you were speaking of the lady as your soul-mate, and at least once-if I remember rightly-you alluded to her as your little dusky-haired lamb."

A sharp howl escaped Bill.

"Don't!" A strong shudder convulsed his frame. "Don't remind me of it!"

"There's been a species of slump, then, in dusky-haired lambs?"

"How," demanded Bill, savagely, "can a girl be a dusky-haired lamb when her hair's bright scarlet?"

"Dashed difficult!" admitted Archie.

"I suppose Lucille told you about that?"

"She did touch on it. Lightly, as it were. With a sort of gossamer touch, so to speak."

Bill threw off the last fragments of reserve.

"Archie, I'm in the devil of a fix. I don't know why it was, but directly I saw her-things seemed so different over in England-I mean." He swallowed ice-water in gulps. "I suppose it was seeing her with Lucille. Old Lu is such a thoroughbred. Seemed to kind of show her up. Like seeing imitation pearls by the side of real pearls. And that crimson hair! It sort of put the lid on it." Bill brooded morosely. "It ought to be a criminal offence for women to dye their hair. Especially red. What the devil do women do that sort of thing for?"

"Don't blame me, old thing. It's not my fault."

Bill looked furtive and harassed.

"It makes me feel such a cad. Here am I, feeling that I would give all I've got in the world to get out of the darned thing, and all the time the poor girl seems to be getting fonder of me than ever."

"How do you know?" Archie surveyed his brother-in-law critically. "Perhaps her feelings have changed too. Very possibly she may not like the colour of YOUR hair. I don't myself. Now if you were to dye yourself crimson-"

"Oh, shut up! Of course a man knows when a girl's fond of him."

"By no means, laddie. When you're my age-"

"I AM your age."

"So you are! I forgot that. Well, now, approaching the matter from another angle, let us suppose, old son, that Miss What's-Her-Name-the party of the second part-"

"Stop it!" said Bill suddenly. "Here comes Reggie!"

"Eh?"

"Here comes Reggie van Tuyl. I don't want him to hear us talking about the darned thing."

Archie looked over his shoulder and perceived that it was indeed so. Reggie was threading his way among the tables.

"Well, HE looks pleased with things, anyway," said Bill, enviously. "Glad somebody's happy."

He was right. Reggie van Tuyl's usual mode of progress through a restaurant was a somnolent slouch. Now he was positively bounding along. Furthermore, the usual expression on Reggie's face was a sleepy sadness. Now he smiled brightly and with animation. He curveted towards their table, beaming and erect, his head up, his gaze level, and his chest expanded, for all the world as if he had been reading the hints in "The Personality That Wins."

Archie was puzzled. Something had plainly happened to Reggie. But what? It was idle to suppose that somebody had left him money, for he had been left practically all the money there was a matter of ten years before.

"Hallo, old bean," he said, as the new-comer, radiating good will and bonhomie, arrived at the table and hung over it like a noon-day sun. "We've finished. But rally round and we'll watch you eat. Dashed interesting, watching old Reggie eat. Why go to the Zoo?"

Reggie shook his head.

"Sorry, old man. Can't. Just on my way to the Ritz. Stepped in because I thought you might be here. I wanted you to be the first to hear the news."

"News?"

"I'm the happiest man alive!"

"You look it, darn you!" growled Bill, on whose mood of grey gloom this human sunbeam was jarring heavily.

"I'm engaged to be married!"

"Congratulations, old egg!" Archie shook his hand cordially. "Dash it, don't you know, as an old married man I like to see you young fellows settling down."

"I don't know how to thank you enough, Archie, old man," said Reggie, fervently.

"Thank me?"

"It was through you that I met her. Don't you remember the girl you sent to me? You wanted me to get her a small part-"

He stopped, puzzled. Archie had uttered a sound that was half gasp and half gurgle, but it was swallowed up in the extraordinary noise from the other side of the table. Bill Brewster was leaning forward with bulging eyes and soaring eyebrows.

"Are you engaged to Mabel Winchester?"

"Why, by George!" said Reggie. "Do you know her?"

Archie recovered himself.

"Slightly," he said. "Slightly. Old Bill knows her slightly, as it were. Not very well, don't you know, but-how shall I put it?"

"Slightly," suggested Bill.

"Just the word. Slightly."

"Splendid!" said Reggie van Tuyl. "Why don't you come along to the Ritz and meet her now?"

Bill stammered. Archie came to the rescue again.

"Bill can't come now. He's got a date."

"A date?" said Bill.

"A date," said Archie. "An appointment, don't you know. A-a-in fact, a date."

"But-er-wish her happiness from me," said Bill, cordially.

"Thanks very much, old man," said Reggie.

"And say I'm delighted, will you?"

"Certainly."

"You won't forget the word, will you? Delighted."

"Delighted."

"That's right. Delighted."

Reggie looked at his watch.

"Halloa! I must rush!"

Bill and Archie watched him as he bounded out of the restaurant.

"Poor old Reggie!" said Bill, with a fleeting compunction.

"Not necessarily," said Archie. "What I mean to say is, tastes differ, don't you know. One man's peach is another man's poison, and vice versa."

"There's something in that."

"Absolutely! Well," said Archie, judicially, "this would appear to be, as it were, the maddest, merriest day in all the glad New Year, yes, no?"

Bill drew a deep breath.

"You bet your sorrowful existence it is!" he said. "I'd like to do something to celebrate it."

"The right spirit!" said Archie. "Absolutely the right spirit! Begin by paying for my lunch!"

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