The Speedy Sprite By George Ade

One Monday Morning a rangy and well-conditioned Elfin of the Young Unmarried Set, yclept Loretta, emerged into the Sunlight and hit the Concrete Path with a ringing Heel.

This uncrowned Empress of the 18th Ward was a she-Progressive assaying 98 per cent. pure Ginger.

Instead of trailing the ever onward Parade, she juggled the Baton at the head of the Push.

In the crisp introductory hours of the Wash-Day already woven into the Plot, Loretta trolleyed herself down into the Noise Belt.

She went to the office of the exclusive Kennel Club and entered the Chow Ki-Yi for the next Bench Show. At the Clearing House for K. M.’s she filed a loud call for a Cook who could cook. Then she cashed a check, ordered a pound of Salted Nuts (to be delivered by Special Wagon at once), enveloped a ball of Ice Cream gooed with Chocolate, and soon, greatly refreshed, swept down on a Department Store.

A Chenille Massacre was in full swing on the 3d floor, just between the Porch Furniture and Special Clothing for Airmen. Loretta took a run and jump into the heaving mass of the gentler Division. She came out at 10.53 with her Sky Piece badly listed to Port and her toes flattened out, but she was 17 cents to the Good. Three hearty Cheers!

So she went over to an exhibition of Paintings, breathing through her Nose for at least an Hour as she studied the new Masterpieces of the Swedo-Scandinavian School. Each looked as if executed with a Squirt Gun by a Nervous Geek on his way to a Three Days Cure. Just the same, every Visitor with a clinging Skirt and a Mushroom Hat gurgled like a Mountain Stream.

In company with four other Seraphines, plucked from the Society Col., she toyed with a Fruit Salad and Cocoa at a Tea Room instituted by a Lady in Reduced Circumstances for the accommodation of those who are never overtaken by Hunger.

The usual Battle as to which should pick up the Check and the same old Compromise. A Dutch Treat with Waitress trying to spread it four ways and the Auditing Committee watching her like a Hawk. Then a 10-cent Tip, bestowed as if endowing Princeton, and the Quartet representing the Flower of America’s Young Womanhood was once more out in the Ozone, marching abreast with shining Faces and pushing white-haired Business Men off into the Sweepings.

Loretta went to a place with a glass Cover on it and had herself photoed in many a striking Posture. With the Chin tilted to show the full crop of Cervical Vertebræ and her Search Lights aimed yearningly at the top of the Singer Building, she had herself kidded into believing that she was a certified Replica of Elsie Ferguson.

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As a member of the Board of Visitation she hurried out to the Colored Orphan Asylum to check up the Picks and watch them making Card-Board Mottoes.

After that she had nothing to do except fly home and complete a Paper on the Social Unrest in Spain, after which she backed into the Spangles, because Father was bringing an old Stable Companion to dinner.

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In the evening she took Mother to a Travel Lecture. The colored Slides were mingled with St. Vitus Glimpses of swarming Streets and galloping Gee-Gees. They came home google-eyed and had to feel their way into the Domicile.

Tuesday A.M. dawned overcast with shifting winds from the N.E.

Loretta pried herself away from the third Waffle in order to hike to the corner and jack up Mr. Grocer about the Kindling Wood that he had sent them for Celery.

She had the Druggist ‘phone the Florist, and then rewarded him by purchasing three Stamps.

At 9.30 the Committee to arrange for the Summer Camp of the In-Wrong Married Women whirled through the untidy Suburbs in a next year’s Motor Car, and Loretta was nowhere except right up on the front Seat picking out the Road.

Once a year the Ladies of the Lumty-Tum went out with their embroidered Sand-Bags and swung on their Gentlemen Friends for enough Dough to pay the Vacation Expenses of Neglected Wives and Kiddies.

In every community there is an undiscovered Triton thoroughly posted on the Renaissance of the Reactionaries and the recrudescence of the Big Six Baby with the up-twist that has Whiskers on it. This Boy is so busy regulating both Parties and both Leagues that when it comes time for his Brood to take an Outing, some ignorant Outsider has to step in and unbelt.

After letting contracts for Milk and Vegetables, Loretta and the other specimens of our Best People zipped over to the Country Club, breaking into silvery Laughter every time the Speedometer made a Face at the Sign-Board which said that the Speed Limit was 12 Miles an Hour.

They showed a few milk-fed Springers how to take a Joke, and then played an 18-hole Foursome which was more or less of a Grewsome.

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Then a little Tea on the Terrace with Herbert lolling by in his Flannels, just as you read about it in Mrs. Humphry Ward.

A buzzing sound dying off into the distance, a trail of Blue Smoke in the fading Twilight, and little Bright Eyes is back in her own Boudoir packing herself into a new set of Glads.

That evening she had four throbbing Roscoes curled up among her Sofa Pillows.

She had to bat up short and easy ones for this Bunch, as they came from the Wholesale District.

When they began to distribute political Bromides, the artful Minx sat clear out on the edge of the Chair and let on to be simply pop-eyed with Ardor.

Shortly after 12 she turned the last night-blooming Cyril out into the Darkness and did a graceful Pirouet to the Husks.

On Wednesday morning, between the Ham and Eggs, she glanced at her double-entry Date Book and began to gyrate.

On the way down-town she stopped in and had herself measured for a new mop of Hair.

Thence to the Beauty Works to have the peerless Frontispiece ironed out and the Nails ivoried.

When she appeared at the Sorority Tiffin at 1 P.M. she was dolled for fair.

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The Response in behalf of the Alumnae of Yamma Gamma was a neat Affair.

After swiping the Table Decorations, she and two Companions hurried to a Mat. It was a Performance given under the auspices of the Overhanging Domes, and the Drama was one that no Commercial Manager had the Nerve to unload on the Public. The Plot consisted of two victims of Neurasthenia sitting at a Table and discussing Impaired Circulation.

That evening she helped administer the Anesthetic to a Seminary Snipe who was getting into the Life Boat with a hard-wood Bachelor grabbed off at the 11th Hour.

Loretta wept softly while straightening out the Veil, in accordance with Tradition. Later on she did an Eddie Collins and landed the Bride’s Bouquet. At 11.30 she had the Best Man backed into a Corner, slipping him that Old One about his Hair matching his Eyes.

It is now Thursday morning and who is this in the Gym whanging the Medicine Ball at the Lady Instructor with the Face?

It is Loretta.

Behold her at 10.30, after an icy Splash and a keen rub with a raspy Towel.

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She has climbed back into the dark-cloth Effect and is headed for the Studio of Madam to grapple with the French Lesson.

After that she will do nothing before Lunch Time except try on White Shoes and fondle some Hats that are being sacrificed at $80 per throw.

The Suffrage Sisters rounded up Thursday afternoon. A longitudinal Brigadieress in the army of Intellectuality did the main Spiel, with Loretta as principal Rooter.

The Speaker was there with the Pep and with the Vocabulary. Otherwise she was a Naughty-Naughty. The costume was a plain Burial Shroud, the only Ornament being a 4-carat Wen just above the Neckband.

At 4 P.M., after the Male Sex had been ground to a Hamburger, our little Playmate escaped to a Picture Show, but not until she had duly fortified herself with the nourishing Marshmallow.

There was nothing on the Cards that night except a Subscription Dance, which got under way at 10 P.M. and never subsided until the cold Daylight began to spill in at the Windows.

Loretta did 27 out of a possible 29. Percentage .931—six better than Bogey and 400 points ahead of Ty Cobb.

Nevertheless and notwithstanding, don’t imagine that she failed to come up for Air on Friday Morning.

Life is real, Life is earnest, and she had a Gown to be shortened up and re-surveyed around the Horse Shoe Curve, just as soon as she could leave the Gloves to be cleaned.

Happening into Automobile Row, she permitted a blond salesman with a Norfolk Jacket to demonstrate the new type of Electric Runabout. One of the most inexpensive pursuits of the well-dressed Minority is to glide over the Asphalt in a Demonstration car and pretend to be undecided.

She permitted the man to set her down at a Book Shop, where she furtively skinned eight Magazines while waiting for a Chum to pop through the Whirligig Door.

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The two went Window-Hopping for an hour. After making Mind Purchases of about $8000 worth of washable Finery edged with Lace, a spirit of Deviltry seized them.

They ordered their Lettuce Sandwiches and diluted Ceylon in a Restaurant where roguish Men-about-Town sat facing the Main Entrance to pipe the pulchritudinous Pippins.

Was it seven or eight Party Calls that she checked from her social Ledger before 4 o’clock? Answer: eight.

Then a swinging Gallop for home. Whilst she had been socializing around, Robert W. Chambers had taken a lead of two Novels on her.

Retiring to a quiet Alcove with four Volumes that were being dissected at the drawing-room Clinics, she took a hack at the first and last Chapter of each. Just enough to protect her against a Fumble if she found herself next to a Book Sharp.

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That evening a famous Hungarian Fiddler, accompanied by a warbling Guinea Hen and backed up by sixty Symphonic Heineys wearing Spectacles, was giving a Recital for the True Lovers in a Mammoth Cave devoted to Art.

Loretta had a sneaking preference for the May Irwin School of Expression, but she had to go through with the Saint-Saëns Stuff now and then to maintain a Club Standing.

Accordingly she and Mother and poor old dying Father, with no Heart in the Enterprise, were planted well down in Section B, where they could watch Mrs. Leroy Geblotz, who once entertained Nordica, and say “Bravo” at the Psychological Moment.

On Saturday Morning, after she had penned 14 Epistles, using the tall cuneiform Hieroglyphics, she didn’t have a blessed thing to do before her 1 o’clock Engagement except drop in at a Flower Show and a Cat Show and have her Palm read by a perfectly fascinating Serpent with a Goatee who had been telling all the Gells the most wonderful things about themselves.

A merry little Group went slumming Saturday afternoon. They attended a Ball Game. Loretta had her Chin over the Railing and evinced a keen Interest, her only Difficulty being that she never knew which Side was at bat.

At dusk she began hanging on the Family Jewels. It was a formal Dinner Party with a list made up by Dun and Bradstreet.

Loretta found herself between an extinct Volcano of Political World and a sappy Fledgling whose Grandfather laid the cornerstone of Brooklyn.

The Dinner was one of those corpseless Funerals, stage-managed by a respectable Lady with a granite Front who had Mayflower Corpuscles moving majestically through her Arterial System.

Loretta was marooned so far from the Live Ones that she couldn’t wig-wag for Help. Her C.Q.D. brought no Relief.

She threw about three throes of Anguish before they escaped to the private Gambling Hell.

Here she tucked back her Valenciennes and proceeded to cop a little Pin-Money at the soul-destroying game known as Bridge.

At 11.30 she led a highly connected volunteer Wine Pusher out into the Conservatory and told him she did not think it advisable to marry him until she had learned his First Name.

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Shortly after Midnight she blew, arriving at headquarters just in time to participate in a Chafing-Dish Jubilee promoted by only Brother, just back from the Varsity.

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She approached the Porcelain in a chastened mood that Sabbath morning. She was thinking of the Night Before and of playing cards for Money.

She remembered the glare of Light from overhead and the tense, eager Faces peering above the Paste-Boards.

Then she recalled, with a sharp catch of the Breath and a little tug of Pain at the Heart, that she had balled herself up at the one Stage and got dummied out of a Grand Slam.

“It would have meant a long pair of the Silk Kind,” thought she, as she sighed deeply and turned the cold Faucet.

After Breakfast she took a long Walk up the Avenue as a Bracer.

After which to the Kirk, for she taught a class of Little Girls in the Sunday School, and she had to fake up an Explanation of how Joshua made the Sun stand still, thereby putting herself in the Scratch Division of Explainers, believe us.

She listened to a dainty Boston Sermon, trimmed with Ruching, singing lustily before and after.

Then back home with the solemn Parade to sit among the condemned waiting for that superlative Gorge known as the Sunday Dinner.

While she was waiting, a male Friend dropped in. His costume was a compromise between an English Actor and a hired Mourner.

On Week Days he sat at a Desk dictating Letters and saying that the Matter had been referred to the proper Department.

He looked at Loretta, so calm and cool and collected in her pious Raiment, and the Smile that he summoned was benevolent and almost patronizing.

“I was wondering,” said he. “I was wondering if a Girl like you ever gets tired of sitting around and doing nothing.”

Loretta did not cackle. She had read in a Book by a Yale Professor that Woman is not supposed to possess the Sense of Humor.

Moral: The Settlement Campaign is not getting to the real Workers.

The Speedy Sprite – Ade’s Fables

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