NEARLY EVERYBODY HAPPY
Mrs. Crocker turned to her husband.
"Well, Bingley?" she said, a steely tinkle in her voice.
"Well, Eugenia?" said Mr. Crocker.
A strange light was shining in Mr. Crocker's mild eyes. He had
seen a miracle happen that night. He had seen an even more
formidable woman than his wife dominated by an even meeker man
than himself, and he had been amazed and impressed by the
spectacle. It had never even started to occur to him before, but
apparently it could be done. A little resolution, a little
determination . . . nothing more was needed. He looked at Mr.
Pett. And yet Mr. Pett had crumpled up Eugenia's sister with
about three firm speeches. It could be done. . . .
"What have you to say, Bingley?"
Mr. Crocker drew himself up.
"Just this!" he said. "I'm an American citizen, and the way I've
figured it out is that my place is in America. It's no good
talking about it, Eugenia. I'm sorry if it upsets your plans, but
I--am--not--going--back--to--London!" He eyed his speechless wife
unflatteringly. "I'm going to stick on here and see the pennant
race out. And after that I'm going to take in the World's
Mrs. Crocker opened her mouth to speak, closed it, re-opened it.
Then she found that she had nothing to say.
"I hope you'll be sensible, Eugenia, and stay on this side, and
we can all be happy. I'm sorry to have to take this stand, but
you tried me too high. You're a woman, and you don't know what it
is to go five years without seeing a ball game; but take it from
me it's more than any real fan can stand. It nearly killed me,
and I'm not going to risk it again. If Mr. Pett will keep me on
as his butler, I'll stay here in this house. If he won't, I'll
get another job somewhere. But, whatever happens, I stick to this
Mr. Pett uttered a whoop of approval.
"There's always been a place for you in my house, old man!" he
cried. "When I get a butler who--"
"But, Bingley! How can you be a butler?"
"You ought to watch him!" said Mr. Pett enthusiastically. "He's a
wonder! He can pull all the starchy stuff as if he'd lived with
the Duke of Whoosis for the last forty years, and then go right
off and fling a pop-bottle at an umpire! He's all right!"
The eulogy was wasted on Mrs. Crocker. She burst into tears. It
was a new experience for her husband, and he watched her
awkwardly, his resolute demeanour crumbling under this unexpected
Mrs. Crocker wiped her eyes.
"I can't stand it!" she sobbed. "I've worked and worked all these
years, and now, just as success has nearly come--Bingley, _do_
come back! It will only be for a little longer."
Mr. Crocker stared.
"A little longer? Why, that Lord Percy Whipple business--I know
you must have had excellent reasons for soaking him, Jimmy, but
it did put the lid on it--surely, after that Lord Percy affair
there's no chance--?"
"There is! There is! It has made no difference at all! Lord Percy
came to call next day with a black eye, poor boy!--and said that
James was a sportsman and that he wanted to know him better! He
said he had never felt so drawn towards any one in his life and
he wanted him to show him how he made some blow which he called a
right hook. The whole affair has simply endeared James to him,
and Lady Corstorphine says that the Duke of Devizes read the
account of the fight to the Premier that very evening and they
both laughed till they nearly got apoplexy."
Jimmy was deeply touched. He had not suspected such a sporting
spirit in his antagonist.
"Percy's all right." he said enthusiastically. "Dad, you ought to
go back. It's only fair."
"But, Jimmy! Surely _you_ can understand? There's only a game
separating the Giants and the Phillies, with the Braves coming
along just behind. And the season only half over!"
Mrs. Crocker looked imploringly at him.
"It will only be for a little while, Bingley. Lady Corstorphine,
who has means of knowing, says that your name is certain to be in
the next Honours List. After that you can come back as often as
you like. We could spend the summer here and the winter in
England, or whatever you pleased."
Mr. Crocker capitulated.
"All right, Eugenia. I'll come."
"Bingley! We shall have to go back by the next boat, dear. People
are beginning to wonder where you are. I've told them that you
are taking a rest in the country. But they will suspect something
if you don't come back at once."
Mr. Crocker's face wore a drawn look. He had never felt so
attached to his wife as now, when she wept these unexpected tears
and begged favours of him with that unfamiliar catch in her
voice. On the other hand . . . A vision rose before him of the
Polo Grounds on a warm afternoon. . . . He crushed it down.
"Very well," he said.
Mr. Pett offered a word of consolation.
"Maybe you'll be able to run over for the World's Series?"
Mr. Crocker's face cleared.
"And I'll cable you the scores every day, dad," said Jimmy.
Mrs. Crocker looked at him with a touch of disapproval clouding
the happiness of her face.
"Are you staying over here, James? There is no reason why you
should not come back, too. If you make up your mind to change
"I have made up my mind to change them. But I'm going to do it in
New York. Mr. Pett is going to give me a job in his office. I am
going to start at the bottom and work my way still further down."
Mr. Pett yapped with rapture. He was experiencing something of
the emotion of the preacher at the camp-meeting who sees the
Sinners' Bench filling up. To have secured Willie Partridge, whom
he intended to lead gradually into the realms of high finance by
way of envelope-addressing, was much. But that Jimmy, with a
choice in the matter, should have chosen the office filled him
with such content that he only just stopped himself from dancing
on his bad foot.
"Don't worry about me, dad. I shall do wonders. It's quite easy
to make a large fortune. I watched uncle Pete in his office this
morning, and all he does is sit at a mahogany table and tell the
office-boy to tell callers that he has gone away for the day. I
think I ought to rise to great heights in that branch of
industry. From the little I have seen of it, it seems to have
been made for me!"