by Florence Pennoyer

Fay Fanshawe winked a wicked grin as she lamped the blue serge flapping on the line in the neighbor’s yard. Fay had been locked in her room—ala ye bad little girl of ye olden time—by her irate mamma for unduly flappering.

Fay hadn’t any grievance against the neighbor except from a conversation overheard between her mamma and said neighbor about Fay, the flapper.

"Rest assured, Jane," said the cruel mamma, "that Fay shall NOT meet your nephew on the night of his arrival. Invite the other girls that she’s deprived of escorts and sweethearts, and I’ll lock Fay in her room or give her a much needed spanking…I know my own child and that will cure her—but she may hate me for it…She is only 17…but…" 

"Thank you, Emma,” said Mrs. Eastman, the neighbor, "I love Fay—but—"

"YES, but me no buts,…and you love me like…h—ooch…" mocked Fay to herself. "But, gee! I wonder if that suit on the line belongs to the nephew who’s going to be deprived of ME? And I wonder if it would fit me? I have a 'boyish silhouette.' Lets see…two sheets and two blankets tied together at the corners ought to reach the cement—besides the "moat." Oh, you little girlies of fiction—what pie it must have been…"Yes, we have no bananas…but lady we have something just as good…SHE knows her little girl—YES?"

Fay rouged herself some red eyelids, so when her remorseful but unrelenting mamma brought her a most tempting lunch, Fay tried to be properly repentant but just as unrelenting, so her mamma left her to her reflections and appetite.

Then Fay took an eyebrow pencil and painted a perky little moustache under her spiffy little nose. Then, when she saw her mother drive away to town to bring home the 'tired business man,' and knowing the neighbor next door would be up to her ears in work preparing for the party—she donned a little golf cap, took off everything but her "Ted," and slid into her big, mannish coat. 

Attaching the "rope ladder" to the bed rail, 'allesame romance,' she swayed down, then tucked the blanket out of sight behind a big rambler rose near the window. It was dusk now, and she scampered across the back lawn out of the gate, and into that of her neighbor. She hastily snatched the suit from the line and ran behind a bunch of shrubbery. She murmured as she got into the suit, "Wonder if you intended wearing these, old top? But no, these are not evening togs…but oh, boy! Gosh! Clarence…you must be taller than little Fay—but I’ll 'cuff' 'em at the bottom…or let 'em dangle—re college boy. Now watch ME do my stuff!"

She took her vanity case from her coat pocket and looked at her impish reflection. "SOME looker, oh you Harold—or whatever your name is…Oh that’s so…I heard her tell your mama it was GROVE—Grove Eastman—You sound nice and shady yourself Grove…GEE!  Lucky I got a shingle—

Wonder what you got in your pockets? Might as well add snooping and high piracy to my other flapperish crimes." In one pocket was a bill-fold and in the place where the identification card is kept was the photo of a most beautiful girl…

"Why, she’s almost as pretty as I am…Be yourself, girlie," she whispered. "But I’m going to be Mr. Grove Eastman…I’ll just park on one of those benches out of sight."

She must have dozed for soon she was aroused by the tooting, blaring, screeching of rival auto horns. The headlights and spotlights with the house and porch illumined made a brilliant scene.

Fay heard the giggle of many of her girl friends—and enemies—as the cars slid past her retreat.  “I’d venture to sneak in if it were a 'masque,'" she thought…"But no, I’ll wait, if he has any 'kick' at all he can’t stand that bunch long…he’ll have to come out for air."

Fay listened to the jazz and radio for an hour, and then glancing at the house she saw a man come out on the porch and light a cigarette…then he sauntered down the path in her directions.

"GEE!" she mumbled, "he’s coming straight at me, as if we had a date."

She took out a cigarette and lighted it, and was blowing beautiful rings when the stranger rounded the shrubbery.

"Oh, I beg pardon! May I join you?"

"Certainly!" said Fay huskily…"So you had to shake ‘em—beg pardon though—perhaps you like ‘em?"

"No, I beat it as soon as I could. Perfect bore! Girls DUMB…Are you one of the guests? I don’t remember aunt introducing us!"

"No—I’m not one of the guests…but you are the nephew Mrs. Eastman has been expecting…?"

"Yes—I’m the nephew. But I’ve been shamelessly deceived; brought here under false pretenses, because the reason of my visit has been deprived me. I was led to believe there was a perfectly abandoned flapper who walked on men’s hearts with calked shoes, and had hearts fried for breakfast between times…and now my aunt tells me she was not invited. A swindle I call it! A scandal in high life!"

His eyes were glued to Fay’s stolen suit…and her heart flopped—her flippancy fluttered…faltered, but she had a KNIGHTLY duty to perform, in defending an absent maiden…before her face (as it were), who was being slandered behind her back.

"Oh, you must mean little Fay Fanshawe? Well, you know how catty girls can be…and Fay’s a knockout! I’m a victim of her fascinations…but I’ll defend her…even though my love is hopeless. The girl is misunderstood…but she has a most forgiving nature—even when they class her with 'The Charleston'."

"Well," said Mr. Grove Eastman, "as long as she isn’t here—perhaps we can protect each other against the rest and go dance for awhile…?"

"But—I haven’t been invited…and this business suit!"

"Nonsense, I’ve worn that—a suit like that lots of times to parties…and I’ll invite you—the party is for me—but do I know you?"

"Oh, pardon me…I’m Jack Forbes," stammered Fay.

"Well, Jack, I don’t want to be too familiar on short acquaintance, but will you just hand me my bill-fold? It’s in the inside coat pocket."

Fay started to jump and run, but Grove Eastman caught her and pulled her down on the seat beside him.

"It’s no use, FAY! You’re partly mine—the clothes—!"

"You knew?" she gasped.

"Yes, they put me in a room overlooking your window. I saw you—dear Fay—and seeing you—and that I’d loved you before that—from their description.  Now wipe off that moustache—and I’ll put something more becoming—just below it.  We’ll teach the meddlers not to monkey with fate!"

"But—who’s the pretty girl in the bill-fold? The 'girl you left behind you'?"

"Oh, just my sister I planted there for your benefit (not that I knew you were going to swipe my suit), but a pretty girl’s photo is always handy to stall—vamps…"

"Well—Grovey—just come and watch me shin up that ladder—and I’ll get into my own rags—I can’t vamp you worth a darn in these…Oh, MAMMA! YOU know your little girl…but I think you mean MAYBE!"


Originally published in It’s A Wow!, Volume 1 Issue 10, 1930.