"Mount Vernon 1-0-0-0"
by Charles Weathers Bump
They were getting to the sad point where each was growing tired of the
other. The crescendo of love's young dream had passed. Each was
sub-consciously realizing that while the springtime of their romance had
been full of glorious days the summer was destined to be damp and
showery. Daniel was beginning to find faults in Jennie that he had not
believed could exist in her, and Jennie in turn was more and more
provoked with Daniel, more and more exacting in what she required of
him, and more and more disposed to accuse him of not keeping up with the
devoted pace he had set when he first began to pay her definite
attentions the winter before. Daniel sometimes would dance with other
girls, a thing he had not dreamt of doing in the heyday of their affair,
and Jennie did not hesitate to accept invitations from men who were as
deferential and admiring as Daniel had been in the beginning. Their
friends, those at least who were discerning, realized that the
probability of a marriage between them was becoming more and more
Jennie and her parents were spending the summer at Mount Holly Inn, and,
among other instances of his growing restiveness, Daniel was inclined to
grumble at having to bolt his dinner, dress hurriedly in his sun-baked
room on Park avenue, and make the suburban car journey nightly in order
to reach her side. Sometimes he balked and called her up by 'phone
instead, and though she professed her disappointment and scolded him, he
was almost sure to learn the next day she had enjoyed her evening at
dancing or bowling. Then again there were occasions when he had made up
his mind to be on hand, according to promise, and had started to get
ready when called off by a message from Jennie, telling him that she had
been invited to enjoy a moonlight auto spin with Mr. and Mrs. Chester,
fellow-guests with whom she had grown most friendly.
And so it came to an evening in September when Daniel and Jennie had not
seen each other for as many as three days, the longest period of absence
in the history of their attachment. Work was slack with the trust
company that day, and Daniel had seized the opportunity to leave the
Equitable Building early and see the Baltimores inflict a defeat on the
Buffalo nine at Union Park, in the homestretch of the pennant race. As
he was cutting across lots after the game, hurrying to catch a St.
Paul-street car ahead of the crowd, he ran into Tom Oliver, and from the
moment of the encounter realized that it was all off for a visit to
Mount Holly that night. For Tom was a jolly soul and a generous one, and
they had been strong chums before Tom had struck out into the wilds of
West Virginia for a lumber company. So that when Master Thomas, as
expected, proposed that they make an evening of it, for old times'
sake, with dinner at the Belvedere and a jaunt later to River View,
Electric Park or the Suburban, Daniel's demur that he already had an
engagement was a very weak one indeed. It was, in fact, such a wobbly
little demur that one more word from Tom and he had promised to call up
and break the date. He did not mention that it was with Jennie, for
Jennie had come into Daniel's life after Tom had vanished into the
Half an hour later found him in the telephone-room of the Belvedere. The
trimly dressed young woman who took his money gave him no second glance
as she automatically murmured "Walbrook 1-8-6, please," into the
mouthpiece hanging before her, and an instant later, just as
automatically, waved him into one of the booths against the wall.
He had not fully made up his mind what excuse he would give Jennie for
staying away, and the wait after a bellboy at Mount Holly Inn had been
sent to find Miss Jennie gave him time to think this over. Two nights
before he had 'phoned her that he was working late at the office. That
would not do again. Still, he felt that he could not well tell the truth
and say an intimate friend from West Virginia had turned up. Ultimately,
he reached the conclusion that it was best to say he was not feeling
well, even though he ran the risk that some friend of hers, or some
guest at Mount Holly who knew him, might have seen him at the ball game
that afternoon and might mention it.
There came a feminine voice across the wire. Daniel perceived at once
that it was not Jennie, but her mother.
"Is that you, Mr. Carey?" she inquired, rather coolly. Jennie's mother
was one of those mothers who are jealous of every young man who pays
their daughters attention, for fear that some day Mr. Wright will come
along and take the daughter away.
"Yes, it is I, Mrs. Poppleton," he replied. "I asked for Miss Jennie."
"She has gone out, Mr. Carey. She telephoned this afternoon to your
office and your home, but you were not at either place. She was invited
out by Mr. and Mrs. Chester, and said she knew you would excuse her, but
please to call up Mount Vernon one thousand and ask them to send for
"Thank you, Mrs. Poppleton. What number did you say it was?"
"Mount Vernon one thousand."
"Thank you. Goodby."
After he had hung up the receiver, Daniel sat for a moment in the booth,
undecided whether to pursue Jennie further by wire. He was inclined to
feel miffed that she was not demurely waiting for him. Then his sense of
fair play got the better of his selfishness, and he reflected that after
all she was doing only what he had called her up to say he was going to
do. He lifted the receiver.
"Mount Vernon one thousand, please," he asked, when the operator outside
had acknowledged his call.
"What number did you say?" she queried. Her tone was sharp, as though
surprised or puzzled.
"Mount Vernon one thousand."
There was a pause, but Daniel could not hear any click or other sound to
indicate that she was trying to give him the connection. Finally he
heard her ask slowly:
"Whom do you wish to speak to?"
"To Miss Poppleton," he replied, "who is taking dinner with Mr. and Mrs.
"Just hold the line, please."
The second wait for Jennie seemed longer than the first, and Daniel not
only grew restive in the booth, but began again to asseverate that
Jennie had not behaved quite properly by him. If she was out with Mr.
and Mrs. Chester for a good time, it was dollars to doughnuts that a
fourth member of the party was that chap Pratt. Jennie was going
altogether too much with the fellow anyhow, and though he was an
ill-mannered cur (this was Daniel's opinion), he had money, and seemed
to be pretty popular with other people. He certainly was blamed popular
with Jennie and the Chesters. Confound it all, the Chesters were not so
many! (this also was Daniel's opinion).
There is no telling to what lengths he might have gone had not the voice
of Jennie sailed sweetly over the wire at this juncture. He knew it to
be Jennie instantaneously; never had her tones sounded so clear and
close. It was as if she were only a few feet away.
"Is that you, Dan?" he heard her say.
"Yes, Jennie," he replied; "your mother gave me your message to call
After this came a pause, a bit of awkwardness, due to the fact that each
was fencing for the best position to deliver his or her excuse for not
coming up to the mark that evening. It was Jennie who spoke first.
"You did not intend to come out to the hotel tonight?"
Daniel had an inspiration.
"Yes, I had a little surprise for you. You remember hearing me talk of
Tom Oliver, who used to be one of my closest friends. Well, he's in town
today and I was going to ask you if I might not bring him out and
"Oh! I'm so sorry." Then after a pause, as if an idea had occurred to
her, she asked:
"Where are you now?"
It was on the tip of his tongue to say the Belvedere, but he reflected
quickly that if he did Jennie's tone of sorrow was so apparently sincere
that she might propose to hurry back to Mount Holly and be ready to
receive them. And this, he knew, would not fall in with Tom Oliver's
notion of a "fine, large evening." So he fibbed unreservedly.
"Oh! we're down to the Baltimore Yacht Club."
That was about as far as it was convenient to transport himself beyond
the radius of accessibility to Mount Holly.
"My! your voice sounds distinct for that distance," remarked Jennie.
"Yes, doesn't it?" replied Daniel.
Then he took up her story.
"What are you doing?" he asked.
"Mr. and Mrs. Chester had an anniversary today, a wedding anniversary,
and they invited us to celebrate it with them by a long motor trip and a
little supper. I'm having a fine time."
"Who is us?"
The answer he got he expected.
"Why, those two, and myself and Mr. Pratt."
He gritted his teeth to keep his jealousy from vocal expression.
"What did you say?" queried Jennie sweetly from the other end.
"Nothing," responded Daniel, grimly.
"I'll have to be going. They're waiting supper for me."
"May I come out tomorrow night?"
"No, Mr. Pratt has invited us to a launch party."
Daniel burst out:
"Pratt! Pratt! It's always that blamed fool!"
"See here, Daniel Carey, you nor no other man can take that tone with
me, I'll have you know. You can stay away now until you get over that
"But, Jennie"——He heard a click, and knew for a certainty that she had
hung up the receiver on him. Twice he hurriedly called her name, and,
getting no reply, angrily jammed his own receiver on its hook and rose
to leave the booth.
As he turned he got the biggest shock of his young life.
For, mind you, there was Jennie Poppleton coming out of another booth.
There was no mistaking her. She had on the well-remembered light-blue
princess gown in which he had told her she looked so pretty, and the
long white kid gloves he had bought her for a philopena debt. And as she
walked quickly out of the telephone room and disappeared down the
corridor without looking back, her carriage was that graceful one that
had always pleased him.
Daniel fell back into the booth seat in sheer desperation. Great Caesar!
what a close shave he had had! Suppose he had run into Jennie just then,
after telling her he was down the river! Whew!
Presently it occurred to him that Jennie was practising as much
deception as he. She had left word for him to call up "Mount Vernon one
thousand." Where in the deuce was "Mount Vernon one thousand"? He looked
at the number card in the booth and got another shock. It read as plain
"Mount Vernon 1000."
"What a bally idiot I am!" he muttered. "Know the Belvedere number as
well as my own home. Always called it 'Mount Vernon ten hundred' or
'Mount Vernon one-o-double o.' Dumb jackass! Gee! what a close shave!
Wonder Jennie didn't see me when she went in that other booth."
Then the funny side of it struck him, and he laid his head on the desk
and laughed unrestrainedly. Was ever a contretemps more ridiculous?
When he at last emerged from the booth the demure operator looked up at
him without the trace of a smile.
"Twenty cents, please," she said.
"It's worth more than that," remarked Daniel cheerfully. "Gosh, but
you're a wonder! I take off my hat to you." He made a low sweeping bow.
The girl smiled. "It was funny," she admitted.
"How on earth did you manage it?"
"You asked for somebody at 'Mount Vernon one-o-double-o', didn't you?
You got them, didn't you?"
"All the same, you're a wonder!" he rejoined, with undisguised
An incoming call enabled her to turn aside the flush that rose to her
cheeks. When she had attended to it she glanced up again at Carey with
her prior calmness.
"Which do you prefer," he asked, "candy or a pair of those long gloves?"
"Candy isn't good for the complexion."
Daniel noted her fine color, then promised the gloves. He was about to
say more when Tom Oliver bolted into the room.
"Say, old man," he cried, "when on earth will you be through here?
There's the prettiest girl in the tearoom, and maybe you know her. I've
ordered supper over there, so I can look at her."
"What is she wearing?" asked Daniel, with a note of alarm.
"She's a vision in light blue."
The hello girl looked quizzically at Daniel and it was Daniel's turn to
"I can't eat supper there, Tom," he said, slowly. "Fact is, I'd rather
be anywhere else than in that room."
"But why?" persisted Tom.
"You tell him," said Daniel to the telephone girl.
"He has an engagement at South six-eight-k."
The mystified Tom eyed first one, then the other.
"What on earth is that?" he asked.
"The Baltimore Yacht Club."
He was still unenlightened.
"But why"—he began.
"Come on, old hayseed," said Daniel, taking Tom's arm. "Let's go into
the palmroom, and I'll tell you all about it."
"I'll call you up tomorrow to get your size for the gloves," he remarked
to the telephone genius as he bade her good night.
"You know what number to call?"
"Am I likely to forget it?" he asked.