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Gilman, James W. (ed.) / The Wisconsin literary magazine
Volume XIX, Number 5 (March 1920)

Comstock, Byron
The banshee,   pp. 132-134

Page 132

March 1920
The Papillon
SHE MAY come from Racine, or, possibly from
Duluth, but the chances are she hails from
Peewee, Indiana. She made it a point to stop en-
route to school at some large city, where she pur-
chased the latest rooster feathers and gewgaws and
some Djer Kiss. She arrives at Madison with great
iclat and is lost in the swirl of the early social season.
Just what happens during that period no one exactly
knows, but she emerges with unexpected poise and an
air of calm self-assurance that would do credit to her
metropolitan sisters. She tickle-toes impeccably and,
although she is not certain of the name of her adviser,
she has acquainted herself with football possibilities
and the Greek alphabet.
Her conversation has at least the depth of a Sara-
toga chip and her campus "hellos" have that peculiar
disinterested ring that denotes people with heavy ac-
quaintanceships. She knows one man, maybe two, in
each class whom she has trained to sit next to her and
fill in the fiimsy thread of her recitations with whis-
pered suggestions. How can she bother with outside
reading and the unreasonable demands of the profes-
sors on her time when she must devote the evening to
her male conquests and her female adherents. She
must be bright and glib for the former; demure and
affable with the latter. Her life is not an academic
one; it is a life pulsating with realer things: repair of
party dresses, development of new styles of coiffures,
rakish adjustments of brooch and boutonni6re. She
must have some time to practice facial expression be-
fore the pier glass and still more time to exchange
sweet confidences with Annabelle, the girl across the
One meets her in the evenings tripping along from
dance to dance with lithe grace and unencumbered
mind. On more colorless occasions she frequents the
movies-they have so much to teach her. She is just
in the next booth in the Chocolate Shop. You find
her voice is not so thoroughly modulated as one might
expect, but then her self-denial in other directions has
used up so much of her energy that you forgive the
well, slightly raucous tones as the bits of conversation
reach you over the partition: "You know, dear, I
haven't done a speck of studying for weeks." "I'm so
upset about Prom. Do you think the pink dress
would be all right?" "Yes, he is a cute man. I like
the way he dances." "I must be running on. George
has promised to do my French tonight, and I can't
keep him waiting. Good-bye e-e-e." And she flutters
out, consciously oblivious to the eager glances of the
men who smile dangerously and tighten their fingers
around the malted milk glasses. Each of them wishes
the glass was her neck, but she would mistake it for
passionate admiration.
Be tolerant, brother! Three years more of this
and she will sink back into the sweet pastoral atmos-
phere of her innocuous origin. She has not long to
be a papillon.
"Hist, did ye hear it not last night,
'Twas the wail of the old Banshee."
So spoke brave Mike McCann
The bravest fighting man
That ever I did see.
Now Mike was an argumentative man,
And would always prove his case.
So I bet him in fun
There was no such a one,
But he bet with a serious face.
"I tell ye it was," said Mike to me,
"'Twas the wail of the family ghost,
When ye hear that cry
It means ye'll die,
If it don't, I hope to roast."
"'Twas but the shriek of a shell," says I,
"Mayhap one filled with gas."
All through the day
I heard him say,
"Old pal, this day's my last."
In the ashy dawn mid bursting shells,
We started over the top.
In a gush of lead,
We forged ahead,
Nothing could make us stop.
All through the day we crept along,
Advancing foot by foot.
O'er bursting shell,
I heard Mike yell,
"The blithering fools can't shoot."
(Continued on page 134)

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