STILL numbed by the high voltage of those passionate eyes—Mr.
Lamb had slightly refined his first expletive—he made his way down
the aisle and, mingled with his kin on the station platform. In his
deep abstraction he failed to respond with his customary briskness
to the salutations of his friends.
"'Lo there, Lamb, how's the boy?" passed unchallenged, as did,
"Evening Larry, how's tricks?" and other such innocuous
Following the trail of commuters up the circular stairs, Lamb
paused in the waiting-room by the newspaper counter and looked
through a window at the glittering array of waiting motors. Some of
them were already pulling out bearing their complacently successful
owners homeward through the neat, well-ordered streets of that
opulent suburban town.
Ordinarily this massing of wealth, this tangible evidence of
purchasing power, would have given Mr, Lamb a comfortable sense of
security. It would have made him feel that all was well with the
state of the nation and that under the beneficent guidance of a
cautious administration prosperity was assured.
This evening, however, Lamb looked upon Automobiles without
elation. They were mostly being driven by wives and
daughters—smartly togged women for whom this moment constituted one
of the high spots of the day.
Any woman so unfortunate as to be forced to meet her
bread-winner in an outmoded car was the object of some pity and no
little secret self-congratulation. Her costume was examined a
little more critically, and questions were asked about her husband.
Did he count or was he unimportant? Why did people like that try to
hold their own in such a well-to-do community? There were other
commuting towns, nice little places where they would feel more at
The bemused Lamb picked out his own well-groomed automobile and
dwelt on its handsome lines unappreciatively. There was his
daughter at the wheel. A good girl Hebe, but after all was she
really good? Was any woman fundamentally good? Lamb was none too
He saw another person standing by his car. A young man in white
flannels, light sweater, and sport shoes. A well-set-up youngster.
Obviously very much absorbed in Hebe. This youth was leaning over
the side of the automobile, and Mr. Lamb was struck by the lithe,
unconscious grace of the vigorous young boy. A fine-looking pair
those two made. A romantic splash of colour and animation.
Romance—that was for them. They still had time ahead. Heaps of it.
His was rapidly running low.
Without realising how far he was going, Lamb leaned over the
newspaper counter and attempted to strike an attitude similar to
that held by the youth. The effect, was, somewhat surprising. The
counter was low, and Lamb was long. As a result of this
combination, Lamb appeared to be sprawlingly, jauntily,
The newspaper man looked at him with startled eyes for a moment,
then, mistaking Mr. Lamb's motives, approached slowly and leaned
tensely forward across the counter.
Unconscious of the man's presence, Mr. Lamb maintained the
immobility of his peculiar position. Believing that he might be
still too far away to receive the delicate communication Mr. Lamb
desired to make, the news-paper man drew even nearer, placed his
ear to the other's lips, and waited expectantly.
For a long moment this odd tableau remained fixed as if in wax,
then the man's curiosity got the better of him.
"Shoot, Mr. Lamb," he murmured. "Something good?"
Slowly Mr. Lamb turned. It took a little time for him to realise
the full import of the situation. All he could see at first was an
avid ear. Then he drew back as if stung and gazed blankly at the
vendor of papers. Why was the creature so breathlessly
expectant ? With a shiver of apprehension he suddenly realised
the full significance of the situation. He looked down at his
unnaturally cascading body and immediately assumed a more normal
"What?" he asked, fighting for time. "What's that you said about
something being good?"
"Oh, nothing," replied the man defensively. "From the way you
were leaning over, I thought you wanted to whisper something. You
know, something sort of er—racy."
The newspaper man had basely avoided the use of the word
"dirty." In his substitution of "racy" for it, he felt he had
achieved a conversational triumph. Nevertheless, he considered
himself cheated—let down.
Mr. Lamb regarded him with growing disapproval. He studied the
eager eyes and half-parted lips. Sedulously he avoided the ear.
That face, he feared, that repellent face would henceforth haunt
"No," he replied at last. "There seems to have been some
misunderstanding. Those stairs got me. I was merely resting. It
must be the weather. Somehow I feel quite worn out this
He turned wearily, his shoulders suddenly sagged, and arranging
his body in lines of utter exhaustion he dragged his feet away from
the presence of the hateful person behind the counter. Lamb was not
cut out to be an actor. His idea of feigning fatigue was far too
elaborate. It was arresting, but lacked conviction. Mr. Lamb had
never progressed in such a remarkable way in the whole course of
his life. He looked as if he had been mortally wounded and was
blindly making his way towards human aid.
How many others had witnessed his momentary madness, he
wondered. How many eyes had dilated at the sight of his humiliating
posture? Had the ear chanced to see his breakdown? Lamb was filled
"Sort of a funny place to pick out for a rest," pondered the
mystified newspaper man, looking after the half-crouching figure of
Mr. Lamb. "Hope he makes his car before he drops in his
The object of his solicitude was by this time painfully
approaching his automobile. He was relieved to see that the youth
he had so disastrously attempted to imitate had departed, but was
not at all reassured by the puzzled look of inquiry in his
"What happens to have broken down in you, major?" the young lady
demanded in a cool, censorious voice. "From that peculiar walk you
appear to be practising, I'd say you needed a hot water bottle and
a dose of castor—"
"Don't!" interrupted Mr. Lamb sharply. "You may be right.
Perhaps I do, but why advertise my shame to the entire community?
Would you like to have people pointing out your father as a man who
has or is about to take a dose of castor-oil? Do you desire to drag
your own flesh and blood through the dust of these streets? And why
do you persist in calling me major?"
"As for the dust of these streets," the girl replied, "you seem
to be doing the dragging of your own free will. How came you to get
your middle section all bunged up like that? And why are you
crouching before me like a jackal about to spring? One would think
you'd checked your stomach somewhere. And that agonised shuffle of
yours. Why did you embark on that?"
Mr. Lamb looked at his daughter with hopeless eyes. With a deep
sigh he opened the door to the front seat and crawled in beside
"My stomach got itself that way," he explained briefly. "Don't
know exactly how it did it. Had a frightful day in the city.
Why had he ever attempted to deceive that hellish newspaper
vendor with such an obviously artificial walk? It had only
succeeded in making matters worse. Now he must somehow save his
face. His daughter was regarding him with an undermining look of
sympathy. Lamb essayed a groan. Perhaps that. might help a
"If you go on like that," observed Hebe, "you'll not only be
dragging yourself through the dust, but you will actually have to
get a prop for your stomach to keep your head from bouncing along
on your feet."
"A horrid picture," thought Lamb. Then to keep his daughter's
mind from dwelling any longer on the subject, he asked
"Just who was that emaciated-looking loafer who was practically
swooning all over my car just now?"
"That emaciated-looking loafer," replied Hebe unemotionally,
"might be occupying the position of your son-in-law at any minute
now. You'd better be careful how low you classify him. I have an
idea he was admiring my legs. So many people do."
The physical collapse aroused himself sufficiently to consider
his daughter's legs. He had always been interested in legs.
"Is that so?" he remarked. "Well, if he wasn't near-sighted to
the point of blindness, he must have got an eyeful."
"Father, dear," admonished the girl, "I am still but a
"Not with those legs," replied Lamb. "From the way that fellow
was peering into the car you would have thought he was trying to
learn your legs by heart, or to subject them to the third
"And why not?" demanded Hebe ominously. "What's wrong with the
"Don't like them," said Lamb. "They're too vigorous.
Interminable legs. Do they never come to an end?"
"I wouldn't worry about that," said Hebe. "They're better than
Sapho's legs. Not so frank and confiding."
Hebe was alluding to her mother, who had unfortunately been
christened Mary, and who, because of her penchant for amateur
dramatics, had been renamed Sapho by her daughter. The name had
been gratefully accepted by Mrs. Lamb. She was strongly of the
opinion that she deserved it. Mary Lamb would not have been a
"You might be right," agreed Mr. Lamb. "Your mother's legs seem
to be pretty well all over the place these days. Yours are a little
less visible at least."
He paused to consider the subject in all its ramifications. Hebe
at times was quite a relief. Only she understood how to treat
unimportant matters with academic thoroughness.
"You know," he went on reminiscently. "In spite of Sapho's
extreme leggishness, I personally don't seem to see them any
more—not as legs, if you get what I mean. But she must have had
legs at one time, I suppose."
Certainly," replied Hebe, "or else I wouldn't be here."
"Logically arrived at," agreed Mr. Lamb, "although your way of
putting it has rather indelicate implications. Your parental
respect also needs a little brushing up."
They were alone now, the other automobiles having departed, and
a new flock was arriving for the next contingent of commuters.
Neither father nor daughter seemed to care whether they ever
reached home or not. The casual ways of the pair were quite a trial
to Mrs. Lamb. They were not popular around the house.
"Speaking of legs," observed Hebe casually, "yon is an
upstanding pair of shafts."
She pointed directly across the street, and Mr. Lamb's eyes
followed the direction of his inelegant daughter's finger. The
shafts referred to belonged to a pair of arms busily intent on
carrying several large bundles from the delicatessen store. Lamb
looked on the legs with instinctive covetousness, then, like a
frightened rabbit, froze defensively to his seat. They were the
legs of the ear.
"Uh-hoo!" bawled Hebe's uncultured voice. "Uh-hoo, Sandy! Over
"Don't!" pleaded her father. "Don't make that awful noise. You
sound like some sort of animal."
"Over here!" shouted Hebe with unabated enthusiasm. "We'll take
The legs paused in their progress, altered their course, and
came forward attractively in spite of the bundles.
"That ear would have such legs," thought Lamb.
There was something startlingly personal about them. They were
vicious legs—suggestive. Lamb decided he had never seen such
demoralisingly feminine legs. And Lamb was not elated. He had a
premonition of change, of some complication arising to disturb the
comfortable regularity of his life. He seriously resented this. He
was Lamb of Lamb & Co., a contented, successful man. He was all
set—had his own interests. Why should those legs come walking into
his life? With characteristic thoroughness he washed his hands of
the legs. Nevertheless, washed or unwashed, the legs continued to
"Swarm in," said Hebe urgently to the girl. "Slither over the
major and drop your bundles in the back."
"Why do we all have to huddle up here in the front seat like so
many immigrants?" asked Lamb inhospitably. "Let me get out. I'll
sit behind. Willingly. Gratefully."
In spite of his protest, the legs brushed past Mr. Lamb's knees
and arranged themselves alarmingly beside him.
"This is your father—yes?" asked the girl. "Is be a nice father?
He doesn't sound very. Is he?"
"He's too long," answered Hebe briefly.
"And drawn-out, perhaps?" suggested the other.
"Exactly," agreed Hebe. "That's just it. He's too long and
drawn-out. Take his neck for instance."
"Me take his neck!" cried her friend. "You suggest I should take
your father's neck. How amiable!"
Mr. Lamb noticed that her voice was surprisingly deep and rich
and that she spoke with an insinuatingly rising inflection. An
unwholesomely foreign type, he decided.
"You're mistaken," he hastened to assure the girl. " My daughter
didn't mean for you literally to take my neck. She meant for you
merely to look at it. She seems to think it's too long."
The girl scrutinised Mr. Lamb's neck avidly. Mr. Lamb thanked
God that he was a cleanly man.
"Why, I love that neck!" she suddenly exclaimed, and Lamb was
both relieved and outraged. "I think I could neck with that
"What sort of a friend is this, Hebe?" asked Lamb. "Something
His mood was waxing retaliatory.
"Her name's Sandra," replied his daughter, "and in a manner of
speaking she is imported. Russian on her mother's side. A nice
girl, but prone to folly."
"Name doesn't sound quite real," observed Lamb. "Does she work
in an office?"
"Not Sandra," he was informed. "She's a swell model. Underwear
"You should see me," put in Sandra enthusiastically, "Then I am
at my best. Then you would make me much. But to return to the neck,
tell me, Hebe, your father doesn't neck, perhaps?"
"Not sure," said that young lady impersonally. "I doubt it. His
sex life is practically nil."
"Well, I'll be damned!" ejaculated Lamb, rapidly changing
"Such a big man, too," replied the other girl sympathetically.
"The poor thing must be starved for some loving."
"Hear that, major?" said Hebe. " What you got to say?
"I wash my hands of the both of you," came the emphatic
response. "Never did I hear such stuff. Do all young women go on
nowadays like you two?"
"This is mild," his daughter calmly informed him. "So far, we
have respected your feelings."
"But I won't any longer," cried Sandra tragically. "He is trying
to go back on himself. He is taking a flat leave of me. I must tell
all. For weeks this man has been devouring with hungry eyes the
back of my head. Do not deny it, major. I have watched you in my
mirror. To-day I regarded him with these eyes."
Here she cast these eyes wildly about the automobile, and Mr.
Lamb became slightly dizzy. He was glad he was not driving.
"To-day I observed him eye to eye, so to speak, and he
wilted—wilted before my gaze. Now he would wash his hands of me. Do
not let him do that, Hebe. Do not let him wash. I shall not be
washed by this long Lamb, do you hear? I shall remain unwashed for
On this high note of resolve the emotional young woman paused
for breath and gazed magnificently about her. Mr. Lamb was filled
with amazement and consternation. The complication had arrived. He
"You may remain unwashed for ever, so far as I am concerned," he
remarked soothingly. "I shall make no attempt to wash you."
"Good!" she exclaimed with a pleased expression. "I knew you
would make me much. And now I depart."
The car drew up before a small, neat-looking home of the modest
order, and the girl quickly slipped out.
"Bring him yourself the first time, Hebe," she said. "After that
he will come alone."
"By stealth and at night," added Hebe.
"I shall do nothing of the sort," Mr. Lamb retorted
emphatically. "Neither alone nor accompanied do I come. The two of
you have gone far in depravity. I wash—"
"For goodness' sake, no more washing," protested Hebe. "We're
all washed out as it is."
The other girl stood gazing soulfully at Lamb for a moment, then
she observed complacently, as if addressing the world at large,
"The Long Lamb will come, never fear. I shall have him."
"Stop talking like an adulteress in a French farce and go away,"
urged Lamb. "I want to get home and snatch a drink."
"I shall make you suffer for that," she retorted.
With an emotional swirl of her scanty skirt, Sandra turned and
hurried up the walk to the small house. Mr. Lamb in spite of his
resolution, followed with his eyes the retreating figure, missing
no details of its trim lines.
"Well, major, what do you think of Sandy?" his daughter asked.
"Fairly hot stuff, what?"
"Torrid," Lamb agreed. "Does she always go on like that, or is
this some sort of maidenly pastime you two indulge in?"
"That's for you to find out," she said. "As for me I've
discovered the cause of your weird conduct when you left the train
just now. Sandy had regarded you with these eyes. Brace up, major.
You're a favoured man."
"Drive on," growled Mr. Lamb, "and for God's sake don't be an