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Graeve, Oscar (ed.) / Delineator
Vol. 118, No. 5 (May, 1931)

Lewis, Grace Hegger
Half a loaf,   pp. 12-13 PDF (1.3 MB)

Page 12

'Oh my baby, my very
baby, if anything s
happen to youl" she
All literary America is humming with talk about this
courageous new novel of marriage and divorce by the
former wife of one of our greatest novelists
S LSAN BROOKE, a fashion editor, met Timothy
Hale, a struggling author, and-somewhat to her sur-
pre --she married him. There was between them a dif-
ference-typified, let us say, by what each would wear to
a picnic: she, smart tweeds, with every proper sports
accessory; and he, a shapeless and worn out suit with a
rucksack on his back.
But they were deeply, joyfully happy together in their
cottage near New York. Timothy, on the train to and
from the city, worked away at his writing. When he sold
his first story he and Susan felt they had conquered the
world. Flinging aside his job, they dashed to Florida.
And in a cottage on the edge of a tranquil ocean, Tim's
writing gave indications of the strength and popularity
that were some day to make him world famous.
But at length this gyps), pair wearied of palm trees and
a tropic sun. Tim's mother and father had not yet met
the bride-so off they dashed to Bannerman, Ohio. The
townspeople welcomed Susan. Tim proudly introduced
his wife to all his old friends and neighbors. And Mrs.
Hale, senior, gave a triumphant party in her honor.
Here the story continues:
Socially launched now in Bannerman, Tim and Sue
went to many other parties, all of a sameness as to
food and conversation and guests-Bannerman, like
Hartford and Seattle and Sauk Center, in fact like any
but the great metropolises, was timorous of adventuring
outside its own small circle.
But the town never quite got used to them. If Timmy
Hale had been a queer kid, he certainly was lots queerer
now, and marrying that New York girl with the affected
accent and the freaky clothes hadn't helped. ("Indecent
I call them. I heard that black party dress of hers was
so low you could count every joint in her spine!") And
seemingly Susan flouted the town, though actually it
was because she had only lived in the privacy of great
cities and did not know what espionage meant.
H ER first offense was about a silver dollar. She had
never seen one before, in fact there were not many
left now in Ohio, and she was delighted by its novelty.
It was a morning affirming that spring was no longer a
sniff in the air but an accomplished fact. Sue and Tim
were off for a long walk in the country with a thermos
bottle and some sandwiches.
"If you're a good girl and don't whine for lunch, after
one mile you shall have this silver dollar," promised Tim.
"I want it now," and she grabbed it from him. "I
S USAN was overwhelmed by the ease with which it
was possible to buy so revolutionary a purchase.
Having decided on the five-passenger as the most practi-
cal, there was no further complication-all the cars were
exactly alike. Liebermann himself promised to give them
a lesson between five and six that very day. Tim wrote
him a check, confided to him their plan to surprise the
senior Hales, which delighted his sentimental German
soul, and they were out in the street.
"Do we really own a car?" asked Susan. "It was as
simple as buying a bunch of radishes."
That afternoon on a country road Liebermann was dis-
gusted to discover that neither of them had any mechani-
cal sense or very much coordination. Both were obvi-
ously terrified when they took the wheel, and backed
more often than they went forward.
The worst moment was when Tim found himself mak-
ing for a telegraph pole and instead of turning the wheel
he violently honked the horn for the pole to get out of
the way. Liebermann seized the wheel just in time.
"I think you both had enough for one day. We try
again tomorrow."
Two more lessons and Tim, with Susan beside him, was
driving up to the portal of Jeremiah Eliphalet Hale,
hoping to heaven he wouldn't stall on the hill. They
stopped neatly in front of the old stone carriage step
and Tim applied the brake with such force that he almost
tossed Susan out on the curb. He sounded the horn with
shrill peremptoriness. Marta, setting the table for sup-
per, came to the dining-room window. Again the horn.
The front door was flung back and father and mother
say!-have you got another one of those cartwheels?
Let's start even and see which rolls farthest down this
hill. The winner gets both dollars."
"Seeing as the dollars are both mine? Well, here goes!"
The pavement was smooth and the dollars rolled some
distance before they careened off into the grass.
"I win! I win!" screamed Susan, dancing up and down.
She snatched up the dollars but as she straightened her-
self she saw several cream scrim curtains being dropped
back into place in the neighbors' windows.
"Tim! How awful! We were being watched, and
heaven knows what they think we were doing. I feel as
if I were living in a fish bowl. Will it be like this all the
time we are here, or will they get used to us?"
"I doubt it," replied Tim grimly. "I had forgotten the
spying which is inevitable in every small town simply be-
cause it is so small. We'll just have to watch our step, for
father's and mother's sake."
That afternoon all Bannerman talked of the silver
dollar and how those young Hales showed off. But years
later the story of the silver dollar race became a Banner-
man folk tale, tenderly recounted of a famous son.
A FTER two weeks under the parental roof:
"Mrs. Timothy Hale, are you awake? If you
aren't you'd better be. My father has cleared his larynx
nine times by actual count, and eight of those were hints
for us to get up."
Susan was still snoozling; but Tim sat suddenly up-
"I've had enough of Bannerman-outgrown the town.
Let's go some place else." The hobo spirit was flowering
in Tim.
"Let's! Let's go today. Tee-rains, travelin'!" Sue
squealed their family war-cry-but a tiny soft squeal.
"I haven't done a lick of work since I've been here,
except think a lot about the new novel. They say every
human being has at least one novel in him, and though
I've written two they haven't been that novel. This visit
has re-created my boyhood so vividly that I've got to
write about it or die. And having you along, a stranger
to it all, has helped me to see the place through your eyes
as well as mine. I'm sick to death of this romanticizing
of the small town, this holding on to log-cabin tradition
in an actuality of firebrick and arty bungalows, of vic-
trolas and autos; this fancying ourselves still hardy pio-
neers galloping about in hairy pants all over the great
open spaces of Main Street and Fourth. Doggone it, it
won't be a popular book but I got to write it all the same.
And it may take two years. I've never been farther west
than Chicago, and you, you poor effete easterner, haven't
even been there, and before I write this book I got to see
more of these here United States, so .. . What do you say
rown   to..."
hould     "Tee-rains!" repeated Susan.
cried     "Tee-rains nothin'!" contradicted Tim. "A Ford!"
Susan stared at him. "A motor car?"
"No, a Ford."
"But can we afford one?"
"We shall, and what's more we buy it today-here in
Bannerman." He was out of bed and fumbling for his
slippers and bathrobe. "Hurry up, we'll go down to
Liebermann's garage and buy one right after breakfast.
But not a word to father or mother. We'll drive up to
the door and surprise them."

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