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"But Jock!" protested Emma, following her "What will Jock say?
Grace! Grace dear! I can't let you do it! I can't!"
"Just unhook this for me, will you?" replied Grace Galt sweetly.
At two o'clock, Jock McChesney, returned from his errand of mercy, burst into the office to find mother, step-father, and fiancee all flown.
"Where? What?" he demanded of the outer office.
"Fashion show!" chorused the office staff
"Might have waited for me," Jock said to himself, much injured. And hurled himself into a taxi.
There was a crush of motors and carriages for a block on all sides of Madison Square Garden. He had to wait for what seemed an interminable time at the box-office. Then he began the task of worming his way through the close-packed throng in the great auditorium. It was a crowd such as the great place had not seen since the palmy days of the horse show. It was a crowd that sparkled and shone in silks and feathers and furs and jewels.
"Jove, if mother has half a chance at this gang!" Jock told himself. "If only she has grabbed some one who can really show that skirt!"
He was swept with the crowd toward a high platform at the extreme end of the auditorium. All about that platform stood hundreds, close packed, faces raised eagerly, the better to see the slight, graceful, girlish figure occupying the center of the stage--a figure strangely familiar to Jock's eyes in spite of its quaintly billowing, ante-bellum garb. She was speaking. Jock, mouth agape, eyes protruding, ears straining, heard, as in a daze, the sweet, clear, charmingly modulated voice:
"The feature of the skirt, ladies and gentlemen, is that it gives a fulness without weight, something which the skirt-maker has never before been able to achieve. This is due to the patent featherboning process invented by Mrs. T. A. Buck, of the T. A. Buck Featherloom Petticoat Company, New York. Note, please, that it has all the advantages of our grandmother's hoop-skirt, but none of its awkward features. It is graceful"--she turned slowly, lightly--"it is bouffant" she twirled on her toes--"it is practical, serviceable, elegant. It can be made up in any shade, in any material-- silk, lace, crepe de Chine, charmeuse, taffeta. The T. A. Buck Featherloom Petticoat Company is prepared to fill orders for immediate----"
"Well, I'll be darned!" said Jock McChesney aloud. And, again, heedless of the protesting "Sh-sh-sh-sh!" that his neighbors turned upon him, "Well, I'll--be--darned!"
A hand twitched his coat sleeve. He turned, still dazed. His mother, very pink-cheeked, very bright-eyed, pulled him through the throng. As they reached the edge of the crowd, there came a great burst of applause, a buzz of conversation, the turning, shifting, nodding, staccato movements which mean approval in a mass of people.
"What the dickens! How!" stammered Jock. "When--did she--did she----"
Emma, half smiling, half tearful, raised a protesting hand.
"I don't know. Don't ask me, dear. And don't hate me for it. I tried to tell her not to, but she insisted. And, Jock, she's done it, I tell you! She's done it! They love the skirt! Listen to 'em!"
"Don't want to," said Jock. "Lead me to her."
"Me? No! I'm--I'm proud of her! She hasn't only brains and looks, that little girl; she's got nerve--the real kind! Gee, how did I ever have the gall to ask her to marry me!"
Together they sped toward the door that led to the dressing-rooms. Buck, his fine eyes more luminous than ever as he looked at this wonder-wife of his, met them at the entrance.
"She's waiting for you, Jock," he said, smiling. Jock took the steps in one leap.
"Well, T. A. ?" said Emma.
"Well, Emma?" said T. A.
Which burst of eloquence was interrupted abruptly by a short, squat, dark man, who seized Emma's hand in his left and Buck's in his right, and pumped them up and down vigorously. It was that volatile, voluble person known to the skirt trade as Abel I. Fromkin, of the "Fromkin Form-fit Skirt. It Clings!"
"I'm looking everywhere for you!" he panted. Then, his shrewd little eyes narrowing, "You want to talk business?"
"Not here," said Buck abruptly.
"Sure--here," insisted Fromkin. "Say, that's me. When I got a thing on my mind, I like to settle it. How much you take for the rights to that skirt?"
"Take for it!" exclaimed Emma, in the tone a mother would use to one who has suggested taking a beloved child from her.
"Now wait a minute. Don't get mad. You ain't started that skirt right. It should have been advertised. It's too much of a shock. You'll see. They won't buy. They're afraid of it. I'll take it off your hands and push it right, see? I offer you forty thousand for the rights to make that skirt and advertise it as the `Fromkin Full-flounce Skirt. It Flares!' "
"How much?" she asked quizzically.
Abel I. Fromkin gulped.
"Fifty thousand," he said.
"Fifty thousand," repeated Emma quietly, and looked at Buck. "Thanks, Mr. Fromkin! I know, now, that if it's worth fifty thousand to you to-day as the `Fromkin Full-flounce Skirt. It Flares!' then it's worth one hundred and fifty thousand to us as the `T. A. Buck Balloon-Petticoat. It Billows!' "
And it was.
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Ferber's Short Stories Vol. 2 -by- Edna FerberBottom Content goes here. Wikipedia content requires these links..... Wikipedia content is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.