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

England, Elizabeth
Penthouse,   pp. 36-37 PDF (1.2 MB)

Page 36

A story of social ambitions and love
the Minerva had sung like giant wasps, and now
DOHWN the hot length of Park Avenue the tires of
as they drew up at the curb, Nina sighed with
relief. She wanted her cool apartment. The
doorman's deferentially eager welcome might have been a
murmured "Your Majesty." The elevator boy bowed
from the waist, as though to royalty.
As the elevator whispered upward, Nina, under her
lashes, examined herself in the mirror. The reflection re-
assured her, for it showed a charming face under a French
hat, a face whose eves in the glowing tan of her skin,
were a vivid blue, the lips a shining red. Impersonally,
she liked the short, slender nose, the young, unblurred
chin-line, the long, gracious curve of her throat. She
ran a finger under her eyes. There were no circles. That
was nice but surprising. She felt that her eyes must
show some of the little, worrying, elusive uneasiness that
had been back of everything she did for months.
She turned away, wishing childishly that she could look
at Jock as she had looked at her reflection in the glass,
and reassure herself about him. She wanted to tell her-
self that she had imagined his preoccupation, his gather-
ing remoteness. It made her feel sometimes as though
they were speaking through a veil that made them in-
distinct to each other.
The elevator door clanged open and as she stepped into
the tiny foyer, her spirits rose. The anticipation of the
penthouse excited her as it always did; today she was ex-
cited about the party, too. There had been something
thrilling about giving a party ever since her sixth birthday.
ELI Z A                B E T H
The entrance hall was amazingly cool after the hot
street. She went through the darkened library, smelling
of books and flowers and old, well-kept furniture, out on
to the terrace. Over her head was the blue-green awning.
The border of evergreen shrubs almost hid the parapet.
At the other end were some piled-up wicker chairs and a
house-boy, mopping the tiles. It was heavenly, being able
to look out over the city, down on to other people's house-
BACK in the library, she rang for Evans, her house-
keeper. Evans was discreetly welcoming. She never
forgot that she was a British subject and therefore su-
perior to American servants. Nina smiled at her briefly.
"Is everything all right?"
"Quite right, madam." Evans never said ma'am.
"Miss Nancy's come. I put her in the east bedroom."
Evans' voice went on, respectfully monotonous. The
caterers would be here at four . . . the woman from the
Times had phoned for the list of guests . . . the yellow
orchids had not come . . . and would she please
tell her where the professional dancers were to dress?
For the first time, Nina was bored with her own enter-
taining. She wanted to be sharp with Evans. There were
too many things . . .
"Ask Miss Nancy to come to my room, please."
She went up the curving white staircase; the house was
glad to see her. It welcomed her back. In her own blue
and violet room, she pulled off her hat and gave it ab-
sently to Suzanne, who was as expected a part of the
room as the walls or the floor. There was something
about the clear, even sallowness of Suzanne's French
face that made one think of Paris. It was refreshing.
Suzanne helped her-out of her frock into a negligee.
Nancy followed her own brief knock into the room.
"Darling!" She put her cheek next to Nina's and kissed
the air two inches to the right. This kept her lipstick and
Nina's cheek unmixed. "How are you? How's my
It always startled Nina to see anyone who looked quite
so much like herself. Nancy had Nina's loveliness, with-
out the sharpness of maturity which was Nina's accent.
She took a cigaret from the turquoise box on Nina's bed
table, lit it, and immediately afterward collapsed like
a pricked balloon into a large soft chair. Miraculously,
she fell into a graceful position. Nina smiled at her.
"Your nephew is splendid. You look marvelous, your-
self. How was Cleveland?"
"Hotter than the hinges." Nancy dragged on the ciga-
ret avidly. As she never inhaled, this gesture was purely
local color. "Mother and I fought  (Turn to page 76)
and jealousy, its scene laid far above
the housetops of an older New York
Illustration   by
This was the success she
had planned. The great
ones of the city were here
to pay her their homage

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