There was nothing of the giant in the aspect of the man who was beginning to awaken on the sleeping-porch of a Dutch Colonial
house in that residential district of Zenith
known as Floral Heights.
His name was George F. Babbitt. He was forty-six years old now, in April, 1920
, and he made nothing in particular, neither butter
, but he was nimble in the calling of selling houses for more than people could afford to pay.
His large head was pink, his brown hair thin and dry. His face was babyish in slumber, despite his wrinkles and the red spectacle
-dents on the slopes of his nose. He was not fat but he was exceedingly well fed; his cheeks were pads,
and the unroughened hand which lay helpless upon the khaki
-colored blanket was slightly puffy. He seemed prosperous
, extremely married
and unromantic; and
altogether unromantic appeared this sleeping-porch, which looked on one sizable elm
, two respectable grass-plots, a cement driveway
, and a corrugated
. Yet Babbitt was again dreaming of the fairy
child, a dream more romantic than scarlet pagodas
by a silver sea.
For years the fairy child had come to him. Where others saw but Georgie Babbitt, she discerned gallant youth
. She waited for him, in the darkness beyond mysterious groves
. When at last he could slip away from the crowded
house he darted to her. His wife
, his clamoring friends, sought to follow, but he escaped, the girl fleet beside him, and they crouched together on a shadowy hillside. She was so slim, so white, so eager! She cried that he was
, that she would wait for him, that they would sail--
Rumble and bang of the milk-truck
Babbitt moaned; turned over; struggled back toward his dream. He could see only her face now, beyond misty waters. The furnace
-man slammed the basement
door. A dog barked in the next yard. As Babbitt sank blissfully into a dim warm tide, the paper-carrier
went by whistling, and the rolled-up Advocate
thumped the front door. Babbitt roused, his stomach constricted with alarm.
As he relaxed, he was pierced by the familiar and irritating rattle of someone cranking a Ford
: snap-ah-ah, snap-ah-ah, snap-ah-ah. Himself a pious
motorist, Babbitt cranked with the unseen driver, with him waited through taut hours for the roar of the starting engine, with him agonized as the roar ceased and again began the infernal patient snap-ah-ah--a round, flat sound, a shivering cold-morning sound, a sound infuriating and inescapable. Not till the rising voice of the motor told him that the Ford was moving was he released from the panting tension. He glanced once at his favorite tree, elm
twigs against the gold patina
of sky, and fumbled for sleep as for a drug
. He who had been a boy very credulous of life was no longer greatly interested in the possible and improbable adventures of each new day.
He escaped from reality till the alarm-clock
rang, at seven-twenty.
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