This Side of Paradise, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Part LXXVII

F. Scott Fitzgerald

Every day on Daily Readers' Book Club we offer an article length section of a book until that book is done.  We are currently reading F. Scott Fitzgerald's This Side of Paradise.  This book will have 106 parts.

At this point the noisy man in the background broke away from his detainers and approached.

"Say!" he said fiercely.  "I brought this girl out here and you're butting in!"

Amory regarded him coldly, while the girl clung to him closer.

"You let go that girl!" cried the noisy man.

Amory tried to make his eyes threatening.

"You go to hell!" he directed finally, and turned his attention to the girl.

"Love first sight," he suggested.

"I love you," she breathed and nestled close to him.  She did have beautiful eyes.

Some one leaned over and spoke in Amory's ear.

"That's just Margaret Diamond.  She's drunk and this fellow here brought her.  Better let her go."

"Let him take care of her, then!" shouted Amory furiously.  "I'm no W.  Y.  C.  A. worker, am I?--am I?"

"Let her go!"

"It's her hanging on, damn it!  Let her hang!"

The crowd around the table thickened.  For an instant a brawl threatened, but a sleek waiter bent back Margaret Diamond's fingers until she released her hold on Amory, whereupon she slapped the waiter furiously in the face and flung her arms about her raging original escort.

"Oh, Lord!" cried Amory.

"Let's go!"

"Come on, the taxis are getting scarce!"

"Check, waiter."

"C'mon, Amory.  Your romance is over."

Amory laughed.

"You don't know how true you spoke.  No idea. 'At's the whole trouble."

*****

AMORY ON THE LABOR QUESTION

Two mornings later he knocked at the president's door at Bascome and Barlow's advertising agency.

"Come in!"

Amory entered unsteadily.

"'Morning, Mr. Barlow."

Mr. Barlow brought his glasses to the inspection and set his mouth slightly ajar that he might better listen.

"Well, Mr. Blaine.  We haven't seen you for several days."

"No," said Amory.  "I'm quitting."

"Well--well--this is--"

"I don't like it here."

"I'm sorry.  I thought our relations had been quite--ah--pleasant.  You seemed to be a hard worker--a little inclined perhaps to write fancy copy--"

"I just got tired of it," interrupted Amory rudely.  "It didn't matter a damn to me whether Harebell's flour was any better than any one else's.  In fact, I never ate any of it.  So I got tired of telling people about it--oh, I know I've been drinking--"

Mr. Barlow's face steeled by several ingots of expression.

"You asked for a position--"

Amory waved him to silence.

"And I think I was rottenly underpaid.  Thirty-five dollars a week--less than a good carpenter."

"You had just started.  You'd never worked before," said Mr. Barlow coolly.

"But it took about ten thousand dollars to educate me where I could write your darned stuff for you.  Anyway, as far as length of service goes, you've got stenographers here you've paid fifteen a week for five years."

"I'm not going to argue with you, sir," said Mr. Barlow rising.

"Neither am I.  I just wanted to tell you I'm quitting."

They stood for a moment looking at each other impassively and then Amory turned and left the office.

*****

A LITTLE LULL

Four days after that he returned at last to the apartment.  Tom was engaged on a book review for The New Democracy on the staff of which he was employed.  They regarded each other for a moment in silence.

"Well?"

"Well?"

"Good Lord, Amory, where'd you get the black eye--and the jaw?"

Amory laughed.

"That's a mere nothing."

He peeled off his coat and bared his shoulders.

"Look here!"

Tom emitted a low whistle.

"What hit you?"

Amory laughed again.

"Oh, a lot of people.  I got beaten up.  Fact."  He slowly replaced his shirt.  "It was bound to come sooner or later and I wouldn't have missed it for anything."

"Who was it?"

"Well, there were some waiters and a couple of sailors and a few stray pedestrians, I guess.  It's the strangest feeling.  You ought to get beaten up just for the experience of it.  You fall down after a while and everybody sort of slashes in at you before you hit the ground--then they kick you."

Image courtesy of Peter Alfred Hess.


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