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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 13

MAY, 1931
Hale, with Marta close behind, displayed all the aston-
ishment, and more, that Tim had hoped for. Down the
walk the older people hurried.
"How about a little ride after supper this evening?"
Tim asked airily.
"Is it yours? When did you buy it?" questioned Mrs.
Hale.
"Who did you buy it from and what did he charge
you?" demanded Mr. Hale.
All through what Susan thought was the nicest meal
in the Hale day-this particular evening, cold meat loaf
and creamed potatoes, lettuce always shredded and rather
vinegary, hot muffins and tea, grand home-made pickles
and jams and cakes and stewed fruits, served in a spring
twilight which fell softly on the white painted woodwork
and pleasantly faded flowered wallpaper-the car and
its purchase were discussed to the last detail. Mr. Hale
was shocked that Timothy had paid for the car in a lump
sum.
"But if I had the money, why not?"
After supper Tim began to regret his offer. Suppose
it became dark before they got home. But there was
mother tying a chiffon veil around her hat and father
putting on an overcoat and a cap.
With sick fear lest he break his wrist Susan watched
Tim spin the starter. After two failures the spark caught
and she advanced the lever until the engine roared. The
occupants of the back seat stiffened with alarm. Tim
managed to coil his long legs in the tiny front space, and
with a neck-snapping jerk they were off. At fifteen
cautious miles an hour they made for the country, cling-
ing close to the right-hand side of the road. After twenty
minutes Tim began to look for a broad crossroad in
which to turn without backing.
"Getting kinda dark, father, don't you think?" and
without waiting for confirmation Tim swerved the car in
a wide arc and headed its bread-box hood back to town.
They were safely home again.
"How many times did you say you had driven, Tim?"
asked his father.
"This evening's the fourth time," Tim answered over-
casually.
"Well, you certainly managed her pretty nicely."
The paternal voice was admiring. Story-writing was one
thing, but driving a car was something else again.
A NOTHER week to let the town digest the wonder of
the younger Hales' purchase, and they sprang
their next surprise. They were leaving, after only a
month's visit, to the folks, for an automobile trip to the
Coast!
In 1916 such trips had elements of a voyage of dis-
covery. Every village had its garage, but the villages
were wide apart, the garages converted stables, and the
mechanics half-converted stablemen.
The hegira of the Timothy Hales lasted six months,
from Ohio to Washington and down to California, staying
a few hours here and two weeks there, in fifty-cent a night
barracks and five-dollar-a-day palaces.
From a Harvard classmate, Timothy had heard of the
charms of Carmel, California. Here Jack London and
George Sterling, around beach fires of driftwood, had
sung songs of the Philippine soldier and told tales of
their excursions into strange seas and socialism. It had
been a long time since Tim had talked books as "shop"
and the prospect of living among a group of writers ex-
cited him. Why not Carmel for the winter?
Carmel among the pines was luke-warm in its recep-
tion. The Hales were not native sons. The Hales were
neither defensively poor nor snobbishly rich. If after-
dinner talk in- Bannerman had bored them, here they
were rendered uneasy by the jealous literary gossip, bitter
enough to sour the nightly ration of mulled wine.
But the Hales had a bungalow that was a model of
domestic electrical appliances and redwood and wicker
comfort. They had their first Chinese servant, whose
lacquered hair and spotless linen, whose economical
and epicurean use of fish fins and cock's combs was a
daily delight to eye and palate. At their very door they
had the sea and the hills, the rubbery plant called "hen
and chickens" that crawled over the dunes, the fields
of yellowest poppies; and over all a flying confusion of
white gulls and black crows.
And-they had a baby coming.
So each chill November morning Susan was sick,
and Timothy built a fire in the living-room and set up
the card-table in front of it for breakfast, and started
the coffee percolator, and Susan drank her first cup, and
felt much better; and Timothy typed faster and faster
and longer and longer each day. Sometimes the maga-
zines delayed payment, and he would lie awake at night
and listen to the pounding surf or the drip of the fog on
the screens, and wonder if perhaps he was not caught in
the very trap he had so deftly escaped in a Long Island
suburb. A baby! Susan no longer free to play with him,
to take tee-rains at a moment's notice, Susan tired, be-
draggled, nagging, nursing a smelly, whining little bundle.
After a while Susan grew prettier and rounder than
she had ever been before, and they began to discover
another Carmel, jolly people who did not write and whom
they packed into the Ford for picnics down the Carmel
Valley.
Between short stories the new novel was taking shape.
In the next two years of writing Tim was to change the
scaffolding a dozen times, but scarce a day passed that
he did not add to his supply of bricks and mortar. He
had bought his first gray canvas notebook, such as stu-
dents use, with loose leaves which were constantly being
removed from their shiney rings to be recorded with
strange proper names, with curious statistics and street
corner witticisms. Susan was especially good at catch-
ing talk at restaurant tables behind her or Pullman
chairs two down the aisle.
"What are they saying, Elephant Ears?" Tim would
whisper to her.
Perhaps it was something the butcher had said at the
market or some tit-bit she had overheard at the stationery
shop.   Home then she would trot, as pleased as a bird-
dog with her prize, and would drop it at Tim's feet in
the form of a typewritten slip.
The title for the new novel came to him rather early.
It was an excellent title, so excellent they hardly dared
let themselves think about it lest this sneaky thing called
13
"thought transference" convey it to some stranger before
Tim's book was ready.
L IKE the new novel, one might say the baby, too. was
taking shape. Susan had a lot of ideas about babies,
mostly absorbed from her magazine experience. She
obeyed implicitly the doctor's orders, because she was
taking care of a life not her own. She wore sensible shoes,
but not sensible clothes-none of those drearv brown and
navy blue crepe de chines with elastic waistlines that
shrieked their mission. She wore broad hats and a fur-
collar cape, and gay colors. At home the smock was her
day uniform, with a tea-gown for dinner. She found she
liked men's, especially bachelors', forthright attitude
toward pregnancy better than the sentimental drooling
of women.
Tim was infinitely tender toward her, but his care was
for her--not for the baby. She watched for some sign of
the proud father, the concern for an heir, even the smug
satisfaction in this expression of his manhood, but no
the baby did not exist for him. She loved him for loving
her so much, but she wanted him to love the baby, too.
It was coming at just the right time, and a welcome baby
is sure to be a happy baby, a beautiful baby, the old
wives told. Perhaps-Susan dared to hope-when Tim
held the little thing in his arms . . . (Turn to page SS)
"Tim, shame on you!   I'm
tired too. Get up right now
and unpack your typewriter"
Illustrated by W, EMERTON HEITLAND


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