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The Dame and Pythias

By Frank R. Adams

IT was a slack morning in the store, and hot besides. Customers were few and indolent. The season was conducive to confidences.

"Do you believe much in fortune tellers?" Fannie Herman asked of her counter-mate in the ladies' silk hosiery section.

"Well," Mabel carefully inserted a blond pencil into her knot of black hair before replying, "I don't know that I'm in a position to say, dearie. I've had a lot of nice things predicted for me," she offered with a mouselike smile, "but I'm too young yet to tell whether they're going to come true or not."

"I just asked to sort of get your point of view before telling you what happened to me," Fannie explained amiably, patting her pompadour, her collar, and her hips in the order named to assure herself that she was looking her trim best.

"I guess I told you once about a couple of fellows I've been going with for the past year, ain't I? Nice boys, both of them are, and when they wash the graphite and grease off their hands and faces after the whistle blows over at the automobile factory, they'd pass for white men anywhere. One is named Nick Hopper, he's the oldest, and the other is Hardy Nelson, as nice a Swedish boy as ever came over from the old country up in Minnesota. They're both good mechanics and they get good pay there at the factory.

"The only objection I ever had to Nick and Hardy was that they stuck so close together. Those lads were as strong for each other as if they had been brought up on the same bottle of liquid glue. They certainly were good company for themselves. One package of tobacco was enough for both of 'em because they were never out of sight of each other. That certainly is grand when it comes to whacking up living expenses and devising ways and means of deceiving the landlady, but it ain't such a much if you carry it to extremes like mixing it in your love affairs.

"Unfortunately, them two lads didn't fall in love with a brace of twins like they should, but instead they both picked on me. You can imagine how much fun that was. Just sitting in the parlor with two gentlemen friends or going to band concerts and movies with the same does moderately well for the time being, but in order to get real intimate with anybody of the opposite sex a girl has got to let him hold her hand in the dark occasionally and fight with him about whether or not she is going to kiss him good night.

"Things went on like that for nearly a year, and I was seriously considering the idea of adopting a cat and being an old maid when they came to me together and said they wanted to marry me.

"'Which one?' I asked sort of surprised because I had given up hope.

"'Whichever one you want,' replied Nick. 'There ain't any other way to settle it. We've tried to but can't. I've been urging Hardy to do it for the last six months but he insists on me having you, so we can't get anywhere.'

"'Nick will make the best husband for you, Fannie,' Hardy urged. 'He works faster than I do and makes more money.'

"'But I don't save it the way Hardy does,' Nick pointed out. 'He's got a roll in the bank.'

"'Half of it's yours when you need it, Nick,' his pal said, putting his hand on his shoulder.

"Can you bea...

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