It was the best of nationally advertised and quantitatively produced alarm-clocks, with all modern
attachments, including cathedral chime
, intermittent alarm, and a phosphorescent
dial. Babbitt was proud of being
awakened by such a rich device. Socially it was almost as creditable as buying expensive cord tires
He sulkily admitted now that there was no more escape, but he lay and detested the grind of the real-estate
business, and disliked his family
, and disliked
himself for disliking them. The evening before, he had played poker
at Vergil Gunch's till midnight, and after such holiday
s he was irritable before
. It may have been the tremendous home-brewed beer
of the prohibition
-era and the cigars
to which that beer enticed him; it may have been resentment of return from this fine, bold man-world to a restricted
region of wives and stenographer
s, and of suggestions not to smoke so much.
From the bedroom
beside the sleeping-porch, his wife's detestably cheerful "Time to get up
, Georgie boy," and the itchy sound, the brisk and scratchy sound, of combing hairs out of a stiff brush.
He grunted; he dragged his thick legs, in faded baby-blue pajamas
, from under the khaki
blanket; he sat on the edge of the cot, running his fingers through
his wild hair, while his plump feet mechanically felt for his slippers
. He looked regretfully at the blanket--forever a suggestion to him of freedom
. He had bought it for a camping
trip which had never come off. It symbolized gorgeous loafing, gorgeous cursing, virile flannel shirts
He creaked to his feet, groaning at the waves of pain which passed behind his eyeballs
. Though he waited for their scorching recurrence, he looked blurrily out at the yard. It delighted him, as always; it was the neat yard of a
successful business man
of Zenith, that is, it was perfection, and made him also perfect. He regarded the corrugated iron garage
. For the three-hundred-and-sixty-fifth time in a year he reflected, "No class to that
. Have to build me a frame garage. But by golly it's the only thing on the place that isn't up-to-date!" While he stared he thought of a community
garage for his acreage development
, Glen Oriole. He stopped puffing and
jiggling. His arms were akimbo
. His petulant, sleep-swollen face was set in harder lines. He suddenly seemed capable, an official, a man to contrive, to direct, to get things done.
On the vigor of his idea he was carried down the hard, dean, unused-looking hall into the bathroom
Though the house was not large it had, like all houses on Floral Heights, an altogether royal bathroom
and glazed tile and metal sleek as silver
. The towel-rack was a rod of clear glass set in nickel
. The tub was long enough for a Prussian
Guard, and above the set bowl was a sensational exhibit of tooth-brush
holder, shaving-brush holder, soap
-cabinet, so glittering and so ingenious that they resembled an electrical instrument-board. But the Babbitt whose god was Modern Appliances was not pleased. The air of the bathroom was thick with the smell of a heathen toothpaste
. "Verona been at it again! 'Stead of sticking to Lilidol
, like I've re-peat-ed-ly asked her, she's gone and gotten some confounded stinkum stuff that makes you sick!"
The bath-mat was wrinkled and the floor was wet. (His daughter Verona eccentrically took baths in the morning, now and then.) He slipped on the mat, and slid against the tub. He said "Damn
!" Furiously he snatched up his tube
, furiously he lathered, with a belligerent slapping of the unctuous brush, furiously he raked his plump cheeks with a safety-razor
. It pulled. The blade was dull. He said, "Damn--oh--oh--damn it!"
He hunted through the medicine-cabinet for a packet of new razor-blades (reflecting, as invariably, "Be cheaper to buy one of these dinguses and strop your own blades,") and when he discovered the packet, behind the round box of bicarbonate
of soda, he thought ill of his wife for putting it there and very well of himself for not saying "Damn." But he did say it, immediately afterward, when with wet and soap-slippery fingers he tried to remove the horrible little envelope and crisp clinging oiled paper from the new blade. Then there was the problem, oft-pondered, never solved, of what to do with the
old blade, which might imperil the fingers of his young. As usual, he tossed it on top of the medicine-cabinet, with a mental note that some day he must remove the fifty or sixty other blades that were also temporarily, piled up
there. He finished his shaving in a growing testiness increased by his spinning headache
and by the emptiness in his stomach. When he was done, his round face smooth and streamy and his eyes stinging from soapy water, he
reached for a towel
. The family towels were wet, wet and clammy and vile, all of them wet, he found, as he blindly snatched them--his own face-towel, his wife's, Verona's, Ted's, Tinka's, and the lone bath-towel with the huge welt
of initial. Then George F. Babbitt did a dismaying thing. He wiped his face on the guest-towel! It was a pansy
-embroidered trifle which always hung there to indicate that the Babbitts were in the best Floral Heights society. No one had ever used it. No guest had ever dared to. Guests secretively took a corner of the nearest regular towel.
He was raging, "By golly
, here they go and use up all the towels, every doggone
one of 'em, and they use 'em and get 'em all wet and sopping, and never put out a dry one for me--of course, I'm the goat
!--and then I want one
and--I'm the only person in the doggone house that's got the slightest doggone bit of consideration for other people and thoughtfulness and consider there may be others that may want to use the doggone bathroom after me and
He was pitching the chill abominations
into the bath-tub, pleased by the vindictiveness
of that desolate flapping sound; and in the midst his wife serenely trotted in, observed serenely, "Why Georgie dear, what are you doing?
Are you going to wash out the towels? Why, you needn't wash out the towels. Oh, Georgie, you didn't go and use the guest-towel, did you?"
It is not recorded that he was able to answer.
For the first time in weeks he was sufficiently roused by his wife to look at her.
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